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Skitoma (One-Shot)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by ≈*Virulent Tsunami*≈, Apr 15, 2007.

  1. Skitoma - noun - the phenomenon of mental misperception. The brain is fooled by the eyes, for the eyes see what they believe is true, not what the reality is....


    ~ ~

    Why do we call her Arbiahe? I myself am curious about the origin of her name, but I'm afraid I'm not the one to answer that question. My friends tell me it means something significant in some other tongue, and I'll take their word for it. I haven't a better guess, after all.

    What we call her, though, isn't all that important. It is common knowledge amongst the Wurmple of Petalburg that Arbiahe is the tree we are to take shelter in as the Great Change begins to take hold of us. Instinct tells us to seek the tallest and oldest tree, and Arbiahe fulfills both requirements. She gives us protection from the hungry predators who would seek us out in our weakest state. She shades us from the sun we cannot avoid in our immobile state. She is a worthy protector of the hundreds of Wurmple who come to transform.

    I may be one of few who consider this, though. For everyone else, the Great Change is just a prelude to the real challenge; mating season. Some Wurmple made a point of seeking out suitable mates prior to the Great Change, but I hadn't really bothered. My friends were sufficient enough for me, and I had nine days to eat and strengthen myself for the Great Change. While all the other Wurmple were out foolishly courting, I ate the Pecha Berries they paid no heed to and nibbled at the leaves they had forsaken.

    I don't call it cruelty; I call it survival of the fittest. I don't oppose the idea of a mate, but I think I will find one when the time is truly upon me. My first nine days of life are supposed to be spent conditioning myself for five days of starvation, and I, for one, had trained myself well.

    Now, as my stubby legs carried me across the sun-warmed grass, it was time for the Great Change, and I truly believed I was the most prepared for it, or at least one of the most prepared.

    From the corner of my eye, I spied my best friend slithering up to join me as I crawled determinedly toward Arbiahe.

    "Oligg!" I called, acknowledging his pursuit.

    "Slow up, Henth, I'd like to talk one last time before the Great Change," Oligg trilled back, sounding slightly exhausted.

    "It seems you're short of breath, my friend. Perhaps you should have eaten more?"

    I couldn't help sounding arrogant, seeing as there was no nice way to put it. We both knew I was faster and stronger because I had fed myself well. However, Oligg saw it from a different point of view.

    "Yes yes, brag all you'd like. But luckily for me, my future is assured, Henth. I have a mate already, a lovely gem of a Wurmple called Maris. How about you, Henth? Enjoying that extra helping of Pechas, huh?" Oligg inquired with a hint of asperity.

    "No need to be hostile, Oligg," I told him, passing over a rock.

    I never liked rocks much. They always rubbed me the wrong way (quite literally). That would be one nice thing about the Great Change; no more irritating objects to crawl over or avoid.

    "We both have different ways of going about life. I won't call mine wiser, nor will I call yours inferior," I told Oligg nonchalantly.

    "Won't say it, no, but I know you're thinking it," Oligg responded. His voice seemed mellow enough, so I decided to tease him back.

    "Perhaps. After all, I am moving faster than you," I laughed.

    "A shallow victory indeed, Henth," Oligg sighed, "So you'll reach the tree a few seconds before me, and maybe find a better place to spend the next five days than I will. Congrats, well done, but I've already won the bigger race. I do hope someone will find your wings attractive, if there's even a female left who hasn't been courted."

    "I don't doubt the nature of love, Oligg, but I can't say I'd be too sad to be alone the rest of my life. Can't miss what I haven't had, huh?" I said truthfully.

    "If you say so, Henth. I just hope you mean it."

    "Believe me, I do."

    All at once, a wall of brown bark rose up before me. The time had come to say goodbye to my fledgling years, and ascend into adulthood.

    "See you up top, then, Oligg. I'll save you a spot," I told my friend, who was a considerable distance from the tree.

    As I said those words, there was a sudden shift in my stomach. Hunger? No, couldn't be. It felt different, not like the hunger pains I had constantly lived with...It felt much more momentous.

    "...Afraid not, Henth. I should've told you this sooner, but you distracted me along the way. Maris and I will be scouting out a roost where we can both be together quietly," Oligg said, gazing up at me from below.

    "Well, she can come with us, can't she?" I asked.

    "We'd rather be alone. Nothing against you personally, Henth. You know you're my best mate, but Maris means everything and more to me, and I want to spend the next few days with her."

    "Oh..." I said, feeling let down. I had been relying on Oligg's company for the next five days, considering I myself hadn't found a mate in advance. He had promised to tell me of all the trouble he had gone through with the other male Wurmple about, and I had promised to tell him anything interesting I had learned or heard.

    And then came Maris, dropping a barrier clean through our friendship. I understood Oligg's choice, but that didn't make it any easier to accept. If anything, it made it harder.

    "Well, best of luck to you then, pal. I guess I won't be seeing you afterwards, either, unless we both get incredibly lucky. Hope your life with Maris is prosperous," I said, hiding my slight jealousy.

    "Same to you, Henth. It's been nice getting to know you, and I hope you find contentment, whether you find it in someone else or in the food the world has to offer," Oligg answered.

    "Thanks," I cried out as his crimson body disappeared behind the tree. My head turned back to the enormous vertical wall my feet had grabbed on to, and found that my final conversation with Oligg had cost me time in spotting out a good area to endure the Great Change.

    I propelled myself up the rough surface, my eyes rolling in my head, scanning for any branch, preferably a leafy one. To my right, a fat, firm branch caught my eye. I angled toward it. When I reached it, though, I found a female Wurmple already lying snugly across it, lounging lazily in the dimming sunlight.

    No worries, I assured myself, moving on. Arbiahe was a big tree, and there was no way she would run out of branches for me. It wasn't about finding a branch right now, it was about finding a good one. One that wouldn't force me to gaze into the burning sun every morning. One that wouldn't reveal me to the various airborne predators who delight at the sight of a helpless ball of meat. One that would protect me from the irritating pitter-patter of the rain, should there be a thunderstorm.

    If push came to shove, I'd settle for an open branch, but the night was young, and all around me, beneath me, many crimson shapes were still stalking through the grass toward Arbiahe. There were still many acceptable branches left; I wouldn't need to settle for some time yet.

    I shifted my attention to a branch directly above me, and made a beeline for it. What might this one have to offer? I wondered.

    Nothing, as it turned out. It was bleak, completely devoid of leaves. It even looked faintly diseased; my keen eyes picked out the maggots writhing within the wood.

    This would be the unfortunate resting place of the slowest Wurmple, I knew. Truly an awful shame for the poor soul, but I could not afford to delay. More and more Wurmple were ascending the tree, each one unconsciously stealing a potential area of rest for me.

    I clambered upwards, my eyes on a promisingly thick arm. Buds extended from the bark in some areas, which was a good sign. Let's check it out, I urged myself, rounding the base of the branch where it jutted out from the tree.

    I liked what I saw; there was a thick, leafy hood, of sorts, growing from the tree. The wind must have done something to the cluster, or perhaps it had been the nest of some previous rooster. But whatever had made that small, verdant cavern, it had made it look quite appealing.

    I made my way into the small opening, and curled up. There it was again, that spinning sensation in my stomach. My entire body started trembling, and I felt weakened. There was energy in me still, but the Great Change was beginning its conquest. At that point, there was a decision I had to make before my entire body failed: I could accept this cozy little area, or I could keep looking.

    It wasn't much of a choice.

    I twitched around a little, contorting my body into a position I'd be comfortable with for the next five days. But as my body nestled against the bark, something occurred to me. This nest-like hollow, although it was facing the tree, would expose me to whatever curious creature would nose around this spot.

    Unnerved, I scooched back, letting the leaves envelop me. The bush seemed reasonably thick, enough for a Wurmple of medium build to hide out in. Deeming this a far safer place, I once again started making myself comfortable. I figured I should face out toward the 'entrance', so as not to blind myself by facing the sun.

    I had heard a lot about what it's like to be a cocoon; it's all any Wurmple talks about. There were mad rumors, of course, ones I never would believe. One Wurmple had told me that your entire body melts into a soft goo when you're encased, leaving just an empty shell. This couldn't be true, for our bodies would morph into other creatures while they were inside the cocoons.

    And yet another had ranted about how some Wurmple turn into Metapod, sharing stories of his unfortunate friend who had become a Butterfree. This also seemed fairly unlikely.

    And then there was the notion that a lack of openings would mean we suffocate within our shells. At first, this seemed alarming to me, for I had never seen a cocoon with holes. I was planning on making a makeshift air hole before I realized this was false; were there no way to breathe, there would be no Beautifly and Dustox in the world, and I had seen them with my own eyes.

    But some other rumors frightened me. All Wurmple believed that our cocoons would paralyze us to the point of being unable to blink. Thus, if we ended up facing the sun, we would go blind within hours. It seems like the stuff of superstition, but it scared us all, and we were taking no risks. To be blind would be a terrible curse upon a Wurmple in mating season, especially for one like me who would have nothing but the beauty of others to go off of.

    Before I gave in to the consuming weakness that was ravaging my body, I decided to satisfy one last Wurmple urge. They said there was no turning back when you ascend Arbiahe. This was both literal and figurative. I believed the figurative, but out on a limb with nothing else to do but wait, I wanted to see how high up I had gone.

    I extended my head out of the clump of vegetation, and leaned over. It was a dizzying height for sure, but I actually hadn't gone that high. Rotating my head, I saw what looked like miles and miles of tree reaching up into the sky. I was no acrophobe, but I couldn't help but thinking about how terrifying it would be to be up so high, regardless of the branches we are supported by.

    This really is a perfect branch, I thought incredulously. I had expected to find a good one, but a superb one? Not really. Yet, here I was in what may well have been the best branch in Arbiahe.

    Feeling surprised and satisfied with myself, I spun my head around made to withdraw it. But before I did, I caught sight of the rotting branch beneath me, the one I had so wisely turned down in favor of my own. There weren't any Wurmple upon it, which made me a small bit happier.

    Having scoped out my surroundings completely, it was time to rest. They say the Great Change takes you in your sleep. The leaves rustled and quivered as I retreated into the save haven of my nest. I shut my eyes as a Wurmple for the last time, knowing I would wake up tomorrow as a completely new creature.

    ~ ~

    From the moment the cogs of my sleeping mind began to spin, I knew I was different. I could feel air swishing around two large empty spaces at my sides, which I was sure were the air pockets in my....shell, would I call it?

    Also, I couldn't move in the slightest. I tried spinning my legs, and nothing happened. My muscles were probably being eaten away. I had no use of them anymore, after all. If I really tried, I could probably make one jump, but I didn't dare.

    Yet another rumor of Wurmple adolescence is that you become deformed if you move from your selected spot. Your body is developing at an unbelievable pace at this point in time, and you have to be careful not to disturb its development in the slightest. It made perfect sense to me, and I believed it fully.

    But although I accepted this idea as fact, the magnitude of being immobile for five days sank in. In sharp contrast to my larval stage, where I wandered and searched for food every day of my life, this was a completely new experience. There was no shifting position, either, if this one proved to be uncomfortable. I would have to put up with it for five days whether I liked it or not.

    "Gliaaaar!" echoed a voice from high up in the tree. This was the cry we were waiting for; there were always anxieties when the Great Change took place. Many believed it was all a hoax, that we were crawling to our graves. Announcing that it was Gliar day was useful both in assuring the others that we had made it through the Great Change, and also to keep track of time for Wurmple who were....well, like me. Hidden away in the leaves without the sun for a guide, we had to rely on those who were exposed to tell us when a new morning or evening arrived.

    All around the tree, relieved cries of "Gliaaaar!" pierced the air as the Wurmple realized, one by one, that they and all the others were alive. I had long since realized that the Great Change does not kill, but I joined in the happy chorus just for the sake of celebrating the pathway to a new life that we were all traveling down.

    "Gli - ah!" I began, before halting suddenly. My voice was completely different. The Great Change must have altered my vocal cords somehow, for my voice was very monotonous, and hardly sounded male at all.

    "Is someone there?" another voice came from directly in front of me, only amplifying my fear and confusion. I kept quiet, well aware that this invisible creature on the other side of my leaf barrier could be a hungry predator.

    "Is there another Wurmple back there? I'm a Wurmple too," it asked, adding on the last bit to gain my trust. I wasn't sure if I wanted to give it to this faceless voice.

    "If I was a predator, I'd have come crashing through the leaves by now. Don't worry, I am a Wurmple. I'm not pretending," it persuaded me. I knew that could easily be a ploy to get me to talk, to get me to pinpoint my location for it.

    However, a different logic drove me to speak. This thing obviously knew I was here, and it would take but a few seconds of searching to locate me. No need to play mind games with me to get me to verify what it already knew.

    Still a bit tentative, I said, "Yes, I am here." I waited for the bushes to burst open and the hungry face of a Pidgeot to leer down at me, but no such event took place.

    Instead, the voice answered with, "I thought I had this branch to myself. I don't mind sharing, though."

    "This is a very good branch, in my opinion," I said to the disembodied voice. I knew I could brag, for the Wurmple on the other side of this wall was able to agree with me, considering it shared the same branch I was so proud of.

    "It's very thick, and very firm. It's also structured in a way that doesn't make me afraid of falling of. And this little cavern of leaves was a wonderful surprise when I first stumbled upon it. I suppose you're out front, in the hollow?"

    "...You know, you speak fairly intelligently for a Wurmple. You may take it for granted, but I have met some very dense creatures in the past nine days. I'm glad to be in the presence of a smart one for the next five days," the voice praised.

    There was a rather robotic coolness in this Wurmple's tone, one that prevented it from sounding excited. But I heard the sincerity in its words, and felt somewhat proud.

    My next task was to discern whether this Wurmple was male or female. I could just ask it, but I think I already knew the answer. There was a slight softness in its voice that suggested that it was female, as opposed to the fairly sharp edge a male's voice would have.

    Besides, this Wurmple had just praised me for my intelligence. I didn't want to lower its opinion of me by asking such an obvious question.

    "What is your name, fellow cocoon?" I asked it.

    "Aurora," it responded. Definitely a female; no self-respecting creatures would name a male child a female name.

    "That's an interesting name for a Wurmple. My name is Henth," I said.

    My new, flat voice was depressing to listen to. Perhaps Aurora had had a pleasant voice before the Great Change, and had lost her voice just like I had.

    "That's a true Wurmple name you have. I like it; it's quite pretty. I am named the way I am because I am a domestic Wurmple. I was born in the house of a family of aristocrats, and given to the children of these people. One of the children named me, and since children are not as clever as adults, they named me Aurora, a boring name that makes no sense for a Wurmple. I wish I had a new name, but I have nothing else to go by," Aurora elaborated.

    "I was born in a forest, and lived there for all my life....My very short life. I never considered the idea of being born in a human home."

    "It's...not a pleasant way to live," Aurora answered flatly, "Be glad you were born in the wild."

    I liked Aurora; her manner of speech was very controlled and intelligent. Oligg wasn't what I'd call stupid, but he wasn't a genius either. He was fun to talk to, and a loyal friend, but I could never delve into deep conversations with him.

    Aurora sounded different, though. She sounded like someone interesting to pass the time with. We had two totally different upbringings, which would make for engaging conversations when we needed to kill time. And for the next days, we had nothing to do but kill time.

    And aside from that, she was female. I quite liked her already, and she'd probably be a good mate. She was also alone, and judging by Oligg and his....er, betrayal of me, it sounded as though couples preferred to roost together. If Aurora was alone, that probably meant she was not claimed. I wasn't bold enough to ask her, though, for fear of coming across too strongly.

    All at once, my ineptitude at courting rang loud and clear in my head. Here was a female who I was getting along with, and I had no idea what to do. Asking her to mate with me made just about as much sense as saying nothing about it to her. Which should I do?

    My mind urged me toward the latter. I had befriended Oligg (I seemed to be referencing him a lot lately) over time, not immediately. I hadn't just ordered him to be my best friend; I had shown him that I would be a good friend to him. I figured the same was true for courtship, but there was no way to tell.

    Though, even if I never did grab Aurora's attention, at least we could be friends, which was good enough for me.

    "Say, Aurora..." I started warily.

    "Yes, Henth?" she said.

    "You and I are both figuratively imprisoned on this branch for the next five days. I hope it's not too much to ask, but would you like to pass the time with me?...I-I mean, with conversations and things," I proposed, painfully aware of how I had botched the ending.

    I heard a short chuckle from Aurora, and she answered, "Certainly, Henth. I've no one else to talk to, and you seem nice. I'll be your friend."

    'I'll be your friend', huh? Well, that was a nice surprise. I was just expecting her to give a Yes or a No. That was a good sign.

    "Fantastic!" I exclaimed, though my voice failed to capture my enthusiasm. Aurora noticed.

    "You don't sound as though it's fantastic," she giggled. At least she was laughing, though; that could easily have offended her.

    "I mean it," I said, and rolled my eyes (the only muscles in me that moved at all anymore) as my voice once again came out flat and unexcited. Aurora laughed again.

    "Heh, I think my voice sort of died when the Great Change morphed my body. All of me seems to be weaker than usual," I explained.

    "That makes sense, and the same is true for me. I think our bodies are disabled so that we aren't tempted to move and disrupt the metamorphosis," Aurora guessed.

    "Sounds about right to me," I said.

    It was somewhat irksome to be incapable of truly seeing Aurora. All my eyes could see was an endless wall of green and the occasional brown stick. The leaves closest to me had minute bugs scurrying across them.

    I envied the little beasts, wishing I could move around. I felt no pain in the position I was in, so I couldn't call it uncomfortable. But it was boring, being confined to just spinning your eyes to change your view of the world (and only slightly, in my case. All leaves look the same).

    "So, uh, how's the view up there, Aurora? I'm none too enthralled by mine. All it is is a big mess of green and brown with this little white bugs skittering around," I asked, pulling a new topic out of my own discomfort.

    It suddenly occurred to me how difficult it would be to talk for a whole day for the next five days. Aurora had plenty to say about whatever I brought up, but I couldn't imagine having enough topics to go on past one day, two if I was lucky.

    "Not a lot better than the way you make yours sound. I'm facing straight into the tree, which means my wall is brown. Completely brown. But if I strain my eyes and force them to either side hard enough, I can see the tops of the trees of Petalburg Forest," Aurora said.

    "That doesn't sound half bad. Want to trade places?" I joked.

    "Nah, I think I like mine better. Though at least you've got those insects to keep an eye on. My wood is as dead as dead gets. There's no excitement in it at all," Aurora whined.

    I laughed, before realizing that she actually did have a point. At least the insects moved, if the leaves refused to. Most of them were little white ones, but I saw a beetle not that long ago, and I imagined there would be some other interesting ones in the next few days. I became a lot more appreciative of my viewpoint after considering that.

    "You know, I'm wondering what it will be like to be airborne. I've lived my life on the ground, and I can't imagine these...things hanging off my back all the time. It's even weirder to imagine them actually propelling me upwards, and keeping me afloat," I thought aloud.

    "I'm curious as well, but I'm looking forward to it. I've had a wide span of space for most of my life, but you can only go so far on the knobby little legs that Wurmple have. With wings, I could go the distance it takes me to go in a day in just a few minutes, probably. I won't be held in one space anymore; I'll have the whole world to explore," Aurora mused.

    Even with the toning down of her voice that the Great Change has caused, I could hear the wonder in her words, and was swept up in it along with her. The whole world would become accessible once I burst free of this prison.

    Not only would I be able to cover much larger distances, I'd be able to move up and down in a moment's notice. My ascent of Arbiahe had been slow but sure; I had reached my goal, but it had taken a fair bit of time. Nothing wrong with a bit of effort, of course, but the idea of being able to move such distances in just seconds was mind-blowing.

    "Aurora, I'm glad I met you," I said sincerely, "We've only talked for a short while, but you're really opening my mind to the world. I never counted myself as close-minded, but I've been taking a lot of things for granted. I'm looking forward to being capable of flying, but I never really considered what a miracle it was."

    Even with my subdued tone and monotonous voice, I heard the honesty ringing true in my words. For a while, Aurora didn't answer. After a few seconds of waiting, I was afraid I had been too forward with her.

    Not wanting to alienate her, I was about to speak up when she answered softly, "I'm glad to hear it, Henth."

    My nervous heart slowed at her answer. Thank goodness I hadn't messed up so early on; a mistake now would be all but irreparable.

    "I've never had a friend before," Aurora continued, surprising me. I had assumed she was done talking. "The humans I was with weren't friends, they were just the people I depended on to live properly.

    You can't miss what you haven't had, I guess, so I never really paid much thought to what it would be like to have a friend. I contented myself with pondering the world and the things around me instead of chatting with a friend.

    And there were wonderful things in my home, believe you me. Humans are amazingly complex, and they can build almost anything they want. Did you know they launched another human out of this planet in Mossdeep City, way on the other side of Hoenn? I didn't know that was even possible! But I learned it was when I was with those people.

    I learned so much, but the one thing that I could never have explained to me was...friendship. As I made my way to Arbiahe, I was quite satisfied with my knowledge of the world. But I took for granted the most important part of life, which is interacting with the other beings that share this world.

    So thank you, Henth, you too have opened my eyes to something I had never paid attention to before. You have no idea how thankful I am that we're friends."

    Aurora's tangent touched me deeply. At that moment, I gave up my thoughts of using her as a sex toy, as a way to get my own children into the world. Not more than a foot in front of me sat a deep thinker, clever and witty, but also lonely. She had known nothing but loneliness for the past nine days, and it seemed as though I'd be the one to cure her of her loneliness.

    "I've had friends in the past. Like I said, I was born in the wild. But they were all stupid male Wurmple, who had nothing but food and mating on their minds. I can't say I was too different from them. My first nine days were only about eating, nothing else. I was glad for my friends, but all I really cared about was becoming a stronger creature.

    You're different, though, Aurora. You've shown yourself to be smarter than every Wurmple I've ever met, and we've only been talking for a short span of time. In a way, I've been taking friendship for granted as well, though not on the same level as you have. My friends were just time-killers, Wurmple I could talk with about whatever was on my mind.

    I am doing the same thing with you, but on a much more....profound, I guess the word would be, level. I've been undervaluing the creatures I share this place with, and meeting you has shown me what a gift it is to have friends. Sorry if I come across too strongly, but that's how I feel," I said, the words just spilling out of me as the thoughts burned in my head. Aurora sighed.

    "If I haven't come across too strongly with my rambling, then you certainly haven't with yours," she said with a small laugh.

    "You didn't, don't worry. I'm just blown away at the fact that a Wurmple can think so deeply about life."

    "Same to you, I suppose. I always knew I was a notch above the rest, but I figured I was just a freak, a deep thinker meant to be alone for the rest of my life, examining the world. Thank you for showing me the other side of life, Henth," Aurora said warmly.

    "Thank you too," I said, my head spinning and my heart light.

    ~ ~​

    Gliar passed with Aurora and I talking about what we planned on when we became aerial. We discussed the adventures we wanted to have and the things we wanted to see.

    Aurora was looking forward to seeing the ocean for the first time. Living in those enormous houses that humans build, she had been exposed to little outside of that area. Even trees were miraculous to her. She explained in great detail the feeling of wonder she had felt while walking through Petalburg woods to find Arbiahe.

    All the while, I realized how jaded I had become, having been birthed in the middle of the forest. It was all so familiar to me that I never even stopped to wonder about how incredible it was.

    As Aurora waxed on, I felt continually guiltier about my gluttony. My goal had been an acceptable one, but my endless eating had blinded me to what the world really has to offer.

    Was it my fault that I had befriended average-minded Wurmple? No, not really, but if I had tried, I could have found someone like Aurora in that span of time. Though, the more I thought about it, the more I realized I wouldn't change a thing about my life, for it had led me to Aurora.

    Glier passed in a similar manner, the two of us laughing and sharing our thoughts on the world. We spent a lot of our time talking about how other Pokémon functioned. As Bug Types, our attacks had been limited to String Shot, Tackle, and Poison Sting thus far. Aurora had heard from her caretakers that, upon becoming a Beautifly or Dustox, new techniques were learned immediately. I looked forward to that as well, testing out the new powers that would be endowed upon me.

    Aurora was feeding my excitement about Gliur's arrival, and all the while, the two of us became closer and closer. My initial fear about a lack of topics became completely baseless; Aurora and I had so much to talk about that the entire day seemed to fly by.

    Oligg and my other friends all but faded from my mind. In the presence of Aurora, I wondered how I had scraped through my life in the company of such friends. They weren't bad Wurmple, nor were they stupid, but I felt so much more animated when I was talking with Aurora, more alive than I felt when I was actually mobile.

    As we said good night to one another on the eve of Glier, I didn't feel like sleeping at all. But it was necessary to augment my strength, which was still important to me.

    Meeting Aurora, though, had changed my perspective on becoming stronger. After talking with her, I did indeed want to be strong enough to see all the things we had talked of. But talking to her was so fulfilling that I forgot my concerns about my health; the worries simply melted away into the endless stream of words we swapped.

    Meeting Aurora had been such an enlightening experience, and I still had three days to enjoy her company. I intended to make the most of those days.

    ~ ~​

    "Gliir!" I called out as the daily chorus erupted into the air. Aurora was awoken by the cries, and joined in shortly after. After the howling ended, I gave a hearty Good Morning to Aurora, to which she responded happily. I was still relishing the bond that had formed between us, and launched into conversation immediately.

    "It's almost a shame, Aurora, that you've filled my head with these fantasies of flying and exploring the world. I'm now so anxious to break free of this shell that I may do so prematurely," I said.

    "Well, I apologize, but I can't help it. I'm just as eager as you are, Henth," she laughed.

    I had grown to live for her laugh, to rope it out of her any way I could. It wasn't so much the tone of it that appealed to me as it was the fact that I could make her laugh, when she had expressed clearly how little she had in the first part of her life.

    "I know you are, but goodness, my brain's now prone to bursting with these images of watching Yanma breaking glass with their screeches, humans bustling around in a city, and Wailord that are almost longer than Arbiahe is tall," I scolded her lightheartedly.

    "It's an exciting prospect, certainly. And it is difficult knowing that we've still got three days to suffer through as little balls in a tree," she answered.

    "Speaking of which, how exactly does your body feel right now? Can you tell?"

    "Well, that's an odd question if I never knew one."

    "Aww, no it's not. I just want to know how close to being aerial we are."

    "Well, I'm curious too....All right, I'll tell you. Right now, I feel impossibly skinny, thin enough to break in half if a twig were to fall across my back right now.

    I feel these new muscles inflating and growing inside my body, though, and I think I can feel the skin on my back bulging with the wings that will grow in soon," Aurora stated.

    I let my mind wander, and gauged how I felt at this point in time.

    "I feel pretty much the same, though, only it feels like the skin on my back has torn or something. I can feel the air moving into the small opening there, and I can sense the wings beginning to push upwards. By tomorrow, they'll probably be outside of my body and beginning to form into the shape of whatever it is I'll turn into," I reported back to her.

    "You did get here before me, so I guess you got a head start. Now I think of it, I may have been the very last Wurmple to reach Arbiahe.

    Or at least it seemed like it, because when I arrived here, there was no movement at all on the ground, and the moon was high above me. All the Wurmple were asleep," said Aurora.

    "Heh, I was one of the first. I didn't live too far from Arbiahe, and I was a pretty strong little guy when the time came to come here. I won't make guesses about your strength, but I guess it's safe to assume you lived a fair distance away from here?" I said, concluding with a question I had been wondering about for a while now.

    I had sort of skirted away from asking Aurora any personal questions during Gliar or Glier, but I felt we had developed a very close friendship by now, and I felt like I could dig a small bit deeper now.

    Aurora seemed to share my sentiments, for she seemed fairly at ease as she answered, "Yes, I lived in a city called Rustburrow, not too far away from Petalburg Woods. You were born here, you said...Mind telling me about how life was in a forest?"

    "There's not a whole lot to it. I'm sure your past is a lot more eventful than mine," I said humbly, "But I'll give you the short version, since every day was basically the same. Each day, I'd wake up to find myself a little bit bigger than the day before, and a lot hungrier than the day before. My lone concern was to eat and eat and eat, until I had sated my appetite.

    I never did, though, so I just kept eating. I wanted very much to grow up to be powerful, so I prepared myself as best I could back then."

    There was a short pause, before Aurora inquired, "That's all? That's all that happened in nine days?"

    "Heh, told you it wasn't too exciting," I answered somewhat sheepishly, "You've probably got a great story, though. From the things you tell me of all the time, it sounds like you had a great life living with humans."

    Another pause followed my words. Silence had never felt so loud as it did now; very rarely did Aurora and I stop talking, if even for a moment.

    Eventually, though, it was punctured with the sound of....crying. Aurora was crying. Aurora was crying?

    "What's wrong? Is it something I said?" I asked her concernedly, heart beating slightly faster than normal.

    "No, it's not your fault. It's just, my life with humans wasn't as happy as I always made it seem. It was awful, to be completely honest. Torturous, even..."

    "Well, if it's a sore subject, then you don't need to talk about it. There are plenty of other topics we can discu - " I began, before Aurora interjected with, "No, no, it's fine. In fact, I'd rather like to talk about it a bit, to get it out of my system. Do you mind if I do?"

    "Not at all," I said earnestly.

    "Thanks," Aurora said. She didn't talk for a short while, but I knew better than to interrupt the silence. She was probably just deciding how best to start her story.

    Sure enough, she spoke: "The first thing I remember was waking up and seeing a little boy standing over me. I suppose that's when I was first born. The little boy was all smiles. He was so happy to see me, and his happiness transferred into me a bit. He looked kind, and I felt like I'd be safe with him around.

    That assumption turned out to be a lot more literal than I had expected. The little boy, Steven, had an older brother. He didn't share the light blue hair color that Steven had, his was listless brown. His eyes lacked the warmth of Steven's, and they were much more narrowed. He looked angry, and he seemed to have decided to take it out on me.

    He asked Steven to name me, and that's how I became Aurora. Then the boy, Dan was his name, took me. And he did whatever he pleased with me. Harassing me in any way he could think of..." Aurora paused, her voice cracking.

    A few seconds later, she regained her composure and continued with, "The first game he played with me was making me crawl across a stove, which is a machine that roasts food, with the heating panels turned on. If I made it without touching on of the heated panels, I win. If I burned myself, I lost and had to redo it.

    Steven screamed and yelled, pleading with his brother to return his dear Wurmple, but Dan didn't care. He was a sociopath, plain and simple. Their father was never around, he was always busy at the place where he labored. I'm not sure he ever even knew I existed.

    Dan continued tormenting me in any way he could think of, letting me be with Steven whenever he ran out of ideas and needed to think of some more. Steven typically cradled my injured body in his arms and let me watch something called a 'television' with him.

    Oh Henth, if you could only see the miracles a television works. It's a great box with a clear front, but it can play any image and any sound you want it to. You control it with another little black box; just push a button, and you can change what the television shows you. It's amazing, it really is.

    I loved watching it, and loved it even more because it was a reprieve from the cruelty of Dan. Steven and I would watch shows about how things were made, and the people who made them, a lot of the time. Steven was a curious little boy, and as a newborn Wurmple, I was eager to learn as well.

    But, of course, Dan would always come in. As soon as I heard his deep voice calling Steven's name, I knew I was about to be tortured again. Steven could do nothing to protect me. He just cried and cried and let me crawl over to Dan, who took me and forced me to do the most horrific things.

    One instance I remember clearly is him hanging me from a tree and letting his Persian leap up and try and snatch me down. A Persian's a big, white cat-like Pokémon, Henth. Steven told me they're mean-spirited by nature, so it's a small wonder that Dan had one.

    'Higher, Jewel, jump higher! Grab that little grub out of the air!' he'd cheer on his Persian. And it always came so frightfully close, frequently grazing my underbelly with its claws. I felt so helpless, so powerless, as Jewel leaped into the air again and again, eyes glinting and paws outstretched.

    Sometimes Dan made me battle it, too. All I could do was send out String Shots in hope of catching it. But I never did. Every time I tried, Jewel just flung itself to the side, and batted me ferociously with a paw. Most of my time was spent like that, performing whatever sadistic game Dan dreamed up, until Steven decided that enough was enough.

    On the eighth night of the nine days I had as a Wurmple, he decided he had to let me go. No matter the cost to him, he wanted me to be safe. He was never allowed to watch the things Dan did to me, but he saw the bruises and burns and scars I came back with every time Dan let me go for a short while. He knew I would be better off in the wild.

    He carried me to the open window that night, and told me to get away from there. I nuzzled him tenderly, a small thanks for a kindness that could never be repaid.

    Then I left, crawling up the wall and out the window. Steven shut the window behind me and ran off into a different part of the house, not giving Dan any clues to where I might be. He bought me enough time to escape the city and crawl through the forest. I feared being picked off by some predator, but they never came, for some reason.

    I slept most of the following day tucked safely away in a tree. I slept right up until I heard Dan calling my name. I snapped awake and looked around carefully. Off in the distance, Dan was looking around the forest. He kept calling out, "Come out come out wherever you are..." in that evil voice.

    That was the most frightening time of my life, even with those eight days of torment. I knew being found and staying hidden was the difference between life and death for me. I slowly slipped downward into the crook between the two branches, slowly disappearing out of sight.

    Miraculously, Dan didn't find me, and stalked off into some other part of the forest. I knew I couldn't stay in that spot forever, though. I stayed among the treetops, and crawled along, with no particular destination in mind. I kept moving, slinging myself from tree to tree with my String Shots.

    And then, at last, I found the tree we are in right now, Arbiahe. At the time, I didn't know I was about to evolve. I only knew that this gigantic tree would serve as a safe haven from me, a place where I could hide where Dan could never reach me.

    I crawled feebly upwards, always fearing to hear Dan's voice yelling up at me. He never came, though, and I found this branch. It looked very safe to me, so I stayed here.

    The next morning, though, I woke up as a cocoon. And then I met you: my one and only friend now."

    Tears were pouring down my face all the way through Aurora's narrative, and I simply erupted at the end.

    "I'm speechless, Aurora. No one sh-should ever have to go through th-that, least o-of all someone like you..." I choked out.

    Aurora sighed, and said, "Thank you, Henth. It does my soul good to know that you care so much for me."

    "You're welcome," I told her tearfully. Another silence sprouted, in which my tears slowly stopped.

    Then Aurora said, "If you don't mind, Henth, I'd like a bit of a nap. It's a bit stressful on me to tell that story."

    "I don't mind at all, do whatever you want to," I told her, "If it'll help, who am I to tell you not to?"

    "Thanks Henth. The only favor I can ask of you now is to not treat me differently now that you know about my previous life.

    This is now, and that's behind me. My scars are probably, even now, healing as I change into a Beautifly or a Dustox. That life is behind me, and this is the here and now.

    There's no television, no Dan, not even a Steven. There's just you and me, two Wurmple anxious to change forms once again. I want it to be that way, because that way was the best time of my fairly short life," Aurora said softly.

    "Of course," I said.

    "Thanks....again," Aurora replied with a small chuckle. And then she let herself fall asleep.

    I stayed awake a while, though. For one thing, I didn't feel too sleepy. And aside from that, my mind was buzzing with Aurora's heartbreaking tale. And I thought I had had it rough, choosing between food and mates. A shallow concern compared to the choice between survival or death!

    Once more, Aurora was opening my eyes, this time teaching me of the evils of the world. And I suppose I was teaching her the good of the world, telling her the stories of stray events in my past that had made me happy.

    Beyond that, though, my friendship must mean the world to her. After such a rough life, she had found someone who could simply be a friend to her, talk to her normally and make her laugh.

    I had no idea that I would make such an effect on her when I first met her by just being myself, but now that I thought of it, just being myself had saved Aurora from a life of paranoia and isolation.

    ~ ~​

    Sorry, I have to split this in half because it's so long. Second half right below this (of course).
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2007
  2. ~ ~​

    I must have fallen asleep without noticing. The last thing I remembered was watching a ladybug scuttle across a leaf unconcernedly, nibbling at things I couldn't see along the way. My stupor must have drifted into sleep, and the next thing I knew, the call of Glior woke me up.

    "Are you awake, Aurora?" I said. I was going to try hard not to treat her differently, nor to mention her tragic back story unless she herself brought it up.

    But I couldn't help feeling as though something had changed. There was a feeling within me that I couldn't really pin down. It wasn't anger, certainly, nor was it sympathy. A part of it may have been sympathy, but it was definitely more than just that.

    "Yes, I am. Good morning, Henth. Fourth day's here, huh?"

    "Heh, yeah. Just this day and tomorrow to sit through, and then we'll become aerial!" I exclaimed happily.

    The emotion in my outburst was sincere, but I felt that something was off. That's not the sort of thing Aurora and I usually talk about, at least not anymore. Not after becoming such close friends. We bring it up every now and then, but it shouldn't be the opening to a conversation like that.

    The fact is, though, I felt tentative talking about things with Aurora, because I was afraid of reminding her of her previous life.

    "Did I miss anything while I was asleep?" Aurora asked, trying to stir up a conversation. I could hear in her voice that she knew we would have a bit of trouble talking normally.

    "Sort of. Yes and no, I mean. I saw this ladybug before I went to sleep, and....Well, it was a ladybug, but it got me thinking. We're quite lucky to be Pokémon, aren't we?

    The little ladybug can't talk to other ladybugs like we do, nor can it really feel emotions. Its brain is just a small spot of liquid in its little black head. We're both bugs, but you and are much, much more mentally advanced than this ladybug is," I said.

    "That's some deep thinking there, Henth. But you're right. That is pretty interesting, when you think of it," Aurora replied, amazement in her voice as well.

    "Agreed. Plus, they aren't affected by any Great Changes. Ladybugs stay as they are for the rest of their lives, only growing bigger over time. We, as Wurmple, make enormous changes to ourselves as time marches on," I added.

    "Speaking of which, how does your body feel right now?" Aurora queried.

    I contracted my leg muscles, seeing how much muscle was left at this late of a stage in the Great Change. And, to my amazement, they moved! My own legs moved!

    Although, something was odd. Only a couple of them moved, as opposed to all fourteen of them. I tried twitching the legs behind them for a while, before realizing I didn't have any legs behind me anymore! They had disappeared, along with most of my lengthy body. I was now much more condensed, much lighter. More suited for flight, probably.

    "Incredible!" I shouted.

    "What?" asked Aurora, sounding amused and curious at my incredulity.

    "My whole body has changed! I'm not a worm anymore! I haven't got fourteen legs anymore; most of them have fallen back into my body. How about you?"

    Aurora tested her legs, and reported excitedly, "Same for me! I can only move the first couple, because those are the only ones there! This is incredible!" I laughed giddily, not because what Aurora said was particularly funny, but because I was just so excited. At long last, the Great Change was actually changing me, not just withering me away.

    Aurora laughed too, and soon, both of us were just laughing hysterically, our newly formed bodies trembling as laughter shook us. As I continued laughing, though, Aurora's laughter stopped.

    My own giggles slowed, and I asked, "Something happen?" I was answered by a scream from Aurora. Her voice was still fairly monotonous, but I could hear the fear nonetheless.

    "What is it?!" I called fearfully.

    "PIDGEOT!" Aurora wailed, followed by a thunderous squawk from the predator. And the air was filled with Aurora's yelps and screams and the chirps and beating wings of the Pidgeot.

    The cacophony set my mind into a frenzy. I had to help her, I had to! But what was there to do? I couldn't see what was going on at all! Almost unconsciously, I did the only thing I could do; I leapt into the air.

    Those rumors that any cocooned Wurmple that moved would be terribly deformed, the concern that I was high above the ground....They both faded away as I did the only thing I could do to save Aurora.

    As my circular cocoon propelled itself upward, twigs snapped and leaves rustled loudly. The Pidgeot cawed in alarm, and as I popped up above the bundle of leafy branches, I screamed as loudly as I could.

    The Pidgeot's eyes popped, and it took off in a hurry, flying away from what it perceived as a more fearsome predator than itself. In a flurry of gold, red, and brown feathers, it was gone, disappearing into the sky.

    My cocoon slowly began slipping through the hole I had created. My delicate body felt battered within the cocoon, as though it had been bashed every which way against the walls. But still, Aurora was the first thing on my mind.

    "Aurora, are you well? Are you alive?"

    Aurora answered immediately, "Yes, I'm alive. The Pidgeot was still working out what to do with me before you scared it away."

    "So you're unharmed?" I asked frantically, my body sinking gently through the branches. One of the branches snapped, and I thudded roughly to the branch, not too far away from where I had originally been settled.

    "Are you OK, Henth?"

    "Yeah, that didn't hurt that much. Now I've even got a new view of my surroundings! Lucky me, huh?"

    Aurora laughed in spite of herself, but quickly stopped.

    "That's not what I meant," she said concernedly, "You told me that all Wurmple believed that a Wurmple that moves during this stage in its life becomes hideously deformed. Doesn't that bother you at all?"

    "I couldn't let you be killed by that feathery beast, Aurora, no matter what it cost me," I said, the words tumbling out of me before I even had time to think them over.

    "But why would you do that for me? You risked your own future so that you could save me!"

    "Yes, I did, and I'd do it again if that thing came back," I told her fiercely, ignoring the aches and pains in my body.

    "But why?" she asked, stunned.

    "Because - " I said, before I even thought of an answer. But then the answer became clear to me in a split second. It didn't even require thought, it just popped up in my mind and I knew it was the truth.

    "Because I love you, Aurora...If you had died there, then I myself couldn't live. Better if I die so that you may live..." I spat out before I lost my nerve.

    A long, long silence followed my explanation. I kept my tongue, though. Aurora would have to answer before long.

    "Henth..." she started, but then seemed to forget what she was going to say.

    Then, she continued with, "I told you not to treat me differently because of what I told you about me."

    "I told you what I told you because it's true. The more time I spend with you, the more time I want to spend with you. You are truly the best thing that ever happened to me, Aurora, and I couldn't live without you.

    You've been such a good friend, but my feelings for you are so strong that they've surpassed friendship. I love you, Aurora, I love you so much..." I said, every word a challenge to say.

    The more I spoke, the more I was sure I was digging my own grave. I didn't even realize I loved Aurora until right then, but as Aurora struggled to find an answer, it all made perfect sense.

    She was amazing in all regards, and I cared for her so deeply that all the superstitions and fears of my kind meant nothing to me when it came to her well-being. Any other Wurmple, and I probably would have hesitated. But Aurora meant too much for me to waste even a second planning a course of action. I had been compelled to save her as the Pidgeot prepared to take off with her, and it was simply because I loved her. There was no other explanation.

    "Henth.....I......I-I.....I love you too...I do, really, I love you too. I didn't even know it until right now, but it's true. I love you, Henth. I love you for saving me from the desperation and pain of my old life, I love you for being so sincere and sweet with me all the time, and I love you for saving my life...." And then we were both silent, both of us reliving what the other had just told us.

    For many many minutes, we were both silent, but I knew Aurora didn't consider it any more unnatural than I did. After all, what was there to say after such poignant proclamations? I chose to be the one to break the silence with a tentative proposal.

    "Aurora....It's a lot to ask of you, I'm sure. But the time of our final change is nearly here, and....neither of us have a mate. As I said, as you know, I love you dearly...Would you consider being my mate?

    I'm not too concerned about you bearing my children, which would be totally up to you. By mate, I just mean that I want to spend the rest of my life with the one I love, and that is you, Aurora...." I said, feeling nervous.

    Aurora seemed apprehensive as well. She began talking immediately, but her tone was wary as well, "Henth....I've enjoyed being with you so much over the past few days. You've shown me both friendship and love, neither of which I truly knew before we met...I will stay with you. You've given my life meaning, you've given me a reason to wake up and be cheery each morning...So I will be your mate."

    It was a halting, almost uncertain answer, but she had agreed! My best friend, my dearest Aurora....my mate. It was a strange thought, but it made me happy. Truly happy.

    ~ ~​

    "I'm sort of guessing Rustburrow is a bad idea, but we have all of Hoenn to explore and scout out. There are many cities and many Routes around Hoenn, and soon, we will be capable of exploring them all.

    Do you have any specific place in mind, or would you rather we wander aimlessly until we find a suitable place to live?" I asked Aurora cheerily.

    Gliur had come and gone achingly slow, but the time of the last transformation was upon us. Very soon, my newly-formed body would burst free of my cocoon, and I would be free to explore the world at my leisure.

    Throughout the day, though, as Aurora and I talked, a question had been nagging in the back of my mind. It worried me, so I pushed it away, choosing instead discuss the future with Aurora. But with so little time left, it came crawling back, and I was terribly worried.

    What would the two of us become? Beautiful, graceful Beautifly, or ugly, awkward Dustox? For a while, I was worried Aurora would become the latter. But as time went on, I realized that my love for her was not based upon appearance. It was founded on personality and mutual compassion. I would love her still, were she a Dustox.

    But as soon as I was freed of that anxiety, a new one arose. What if I become a Dustox? I knew Aurora wasn't selfish, and I knew she probably wouldn't care....But what if she did? What if her beautiful, gallant Henth appeared to her for the first time as a hideous moth? Would she love me still? Could she love me still?

    I didn't want to ask, for fear of planting the seeds of doubt in her mind, but I was somewhat worried. I could hardly blame her for being unsettled if she saw me in such an unpleasant form...I would just have to hope for the best, hope that she felt the same about me.

    Finally, the moment of reckoning came. My wing muscles stiffened, pushing against their prison. They were dry, and they were ready to fly, to carry me to every corner of the world. And I was ready to break free.

    Here was the moment that decided my fate. In my mind, a new technique had surfaced, the knowledge of how to use an attack I had never performed before. This technique would allow me to break free of the shell, but it varied depending on what I had become.

    I let the power of this attack course through me, and do with my body as it pleased. All at once, a long tube shot forth from my face, and speared the wall of the shell. It was a proboscis.

    Elation filled my heart, for this meant I was a Beautifly. Dustox do not have proboscises, they have mouths. As I drained the nutrients of the shell, it became weak and feathery. My cramped wings tore through the top of the shell unintentionally. I thrust myself upwards, and free of my shell.

    It crumpled beneath me, no longer inhabited by a changing Wurmple. I myself was no longer a Wurmple. From this point on, I was a Beautifly!

    Slowly and warily, I dug my way through the leaves, careful not to damage my wings against the branches. Aurora had not finished changing, yet, so I decided to practice flying before she burst free as well. I wanted to surprise her with my skill in the air.

    Had I become a Dustox, I may have checked to see what she would become. However, as a Beautifly, I felt no need to worry. I had become the better of the two, the one she was more likely to cherish still. My judgement of her would not waver, no matter what she became.

    I waddled out to a thick section of the branch, taking in the sun for the first time in days. I had forgotten how bright it was, and it burned my sensitive new eyes slightly. But it was a wondrous sight, one I had never appreciated as a Wurmple.

    The sun's dying rays spilled across the canopy of trees in Petalburg Woods, painting them a myriad of colors. This was a completely new sight to me, and a beautiful one at that. Feeling incredibly alive, I spread my wings and let them shine in the last of the sunlight. I was ready to fly, now.

    I planted my feet on the branch firmly, though. My first flight would be a challenge. Steeling myself, I jumped and beat my wings frantically. To my alarm, I pitched to one side and landed harshly on my side on the branch. The rough bark brushed against my skin, making me cry out ever so slightly.

    I couldn't give up, though. As a Beautifly, my main method of locomotion would be flying. And all Beautifly and Dustox must have this problem initially, for none of them would have any experience with flying prior to this moment in their lives. My inexperience was normal, of that I was sure.

    ...Unless, I actually had damaged myself by saving Aurora. Was that possible? I had no way of knowing. However, glancing from side to side, my wings looked perfectly fine. They were curved to catch the wind properly, and they looked thick enough not to tear apart, but thin enough to keep me afloat. Whatever the rest of me looked like, my wings were fine.

    Trying once more, I jumped into the air, this time beating them more slowly and purposefully. I stayed in the air this time, but was pitching to both sides. Gripped by fear, I let myself fall to the branch, this time on my feet.

    Replaying this scene in my head, I realized I wasn't beating my wings evenly. I needed to beat them both simultaneously, else that turbulence would be inevitable. I leapt upward again, and pounded the air with my wings in unison, or at least as close to it as I could.

    And it worked! I was hovering perfectly, with barely even a wobble. But to fly, I had to move. I angled my wings, and shot forward sharply. Frightened, I contorted my wing muscles to level up. I began to descend somewhat sharply, and my mind was gripped by panic.

    I had to focus, though, I had to keep my head. However soft the grass was, it wouldn't be so comforting if I landed on it from this high up. I made an angle toward the branch beneath me.

    However, right before I landed on it, I remembered how sickly it was. However, even though I was nearly ten times as heavy as a Beautifly than I was as a Wurmple, the branch held. Perhaps I had misjudged it after all.

    Now I had to work on ascending, for my beloved was above me now. I had a feeling it involved pushing air beneath me and lifting my body up. I could potentially glide my way upward, but that would be a slow process when I could just ascend vertically in a few seconds.

    I jumped up and slammed the air downward with my wings. As expected, I rose, but began to sink again as I reached the zenith of my thrust. I beat my wings again, and rose once more, though this time to the side. That was deliberate, though, for if I kept moving straight up, then I would hit the very branch I was aiming for.

    With one final thrust, I found myself hovering a few feet above the branch. I let myself flutter down, and in front of Aurora's shell. There she was, staring up at me from inside that shell. I couldn't tell by the shell what she'd become, so I just had to wait here until she changed.

    After a few minutes, a proboscis poked into the shell just as mine had. And she began draining the fluid from it, using Absorb. My heart leapt with joy, for this meant she was a Beautifly as well.

    Wonderful images of our future flooded my mind, pictures of the two of us soaring through the air, circling lakes and flying over trees and other various land features. My entire body gripped by a feverish anticipation, I watched as her cocoon grew wrinkly and weak.

    Finally, she exploded out of it, more beautiful than I had dared to imagine.

    "Aurora, my beloved....At last, we can be together," I said, happiness saturating my words. I noticed how my voice had regained its tone, except it sounded much more masculine now than it did when it was a Wurmple.

    Aurora looked at me, but not in the way I had hoped. Where joy and love were supposed to be, I saw confusion and....disappointment? My heart sank just as quickly as it had risen, and I wondered what was wrong. Perhaps I really had irreparably damaged myself when I had saved her life.

    "Aurora, is something wrong?" I asked timidly. For a long time, Aurora didn't answer. But then came the answer (and question) I never expected to hear.

    "You're male?" Aurora wasn't female. Her voice was just as masculine as my own....Not, not her voice. His voice....His voice....His voice....

    "You're male?....But why is your name Aurora?" I asked in shock. My entire mind had just gone numb. How could this be? How could my sweetheart, my beautiful Aurora be male?

    "I told you, Henth, I was named by a child....A little boy...Who had no mind for gender-specific names, and just wanted to name me something 'cool'..." Aurora said, the shock evident in his words as well, "Come to think of it, Henth is a rather masculine name...."

    "Yeah, it is..." I agreed. I didn't even know what to feel anymore. There was one question that I could not run away from, one I had to decide right here and now: Could I love another male Beautifly?

    "So....What do we do?" Aurora asked. His moderately deep voice hit me like a hammer every time he spoke, as if beating the fact that he was male into my mind.

    "Maybe we should have some time to think it over....by ourselves," I said.

    I wasn't sure I wanted to be with him (it was strange beyond words to think of Aurora as a 'he' now) while I decided my course of action.

    "Yes, maybe that's for the better..." Aurora said, his words now giving away no emotion.

    "I can fly now, too," I said, my accomplishment feeling incredibly worthless in the face of this new problem.

    "Oh....That's great," Aurora said with a hint of happiness.

    "Yeah...So if you want to stay here, I can go find somewhere else to mull things over," I said.

    "Alright, that sounds reasonable," he answered, "Best of luck."

    "Yeah, you too," I told him, before taking off. I soared through the air, gliding effortlessly toward the trees. I had no destination in mind, except away from Aurora for the time being. I was still numb with shock, and I had no idea what to do next.

    Half of me just wanted to fly far, far away right now and leave him behind and forget he had ever existed. But I had loved Aurora....when she still a girl in my mind. I at least owed it to him to give him a straight answer.

    Eventually, I found myself perched on a branch in a dark section of the woods, a lake beneath me. I stared blankly at the lake, as if searching it for answers.

    As I had told Aurora earlier, I cared little for reproduction. I wasn't too bothered by the fact that Aurora and I might not have children back then, so what was the problem now? It was probably just the completely alien thought of being attracted to someone of your own gender that made me cautious.

    Then again, no one really had to know. Two Beautifly, flying in the sky....There's no way to tell that their genders from just a glance. And even on the off chance that something did identify us as two males, we could easily just be friends, in their mind.

    All that really mattered was what the two of us thought about being a pair of homosexuals. My decision was slowly becoming Ignore The Gender Difference (or lack of difference, technically), but it was still such a strange idea, to be attracted to another male.

    But still, the fact remained that I had loved Aurora. The idea had been founded on the fact that he was female, but still, I had even told myself it wasn't appearance that mattered to me, but personality. Presumably, Aurora's personality had not changed at all. So what really was the problem here?

    ....Aurora, probably. Even if I did choose to be his lover, what would Aurora's choice be? And what if I told him I wanted to love him still, and he had chosen to stay heterosexual? It was all too much to take in at once.

    A small tear dripped from my eye and fell to join the lake below. The tear had assimilated instantly with the water. Aurora and I, though, would always be outcasts whenever we were around other creatures.

    Did that matter to me at all? Yes, somewhat. I had friends, and friends who would probably shun me for having a male mate.

    Did they matter to me as much as Aurora? Individually, probably not. But it seemed a heavy price to pay, sacrificing them all just for one Beautifly. But it was Aurora, the kindest, most intelligent Beautifly I knew.

    Was he worth it? Was he worth the risk, the awkward feelings, and the defiance of nature?




    Yes, yes he was. He was the greatest thing that had ever happened to me, regardless of gender. I had brought this upon myself anyhow, for I had not asked him his gender and had just assumed he was female....by a name, of all things. I had started this problem by allowing that illusion to spawn and grow, when I could have so easily nipped it at the bud.

    But I had made up my mind. Aurora was worth it. Now I just had to hope he thought the same....I decided I'd let him have the night to decide. I needed some rest after such an experience anyhow. The change, the flying, and this shocking revelation....I needed some time to regain my composure.

    ~ ~​

    Next thing I knew, it was morning. This grim section of the forest had been lit up by the sun's return. It was quite pretty in the sunlight like this. It was a shame I couldn't have discovered it under different circumstances. The beauty of it was sufficiently smothered by my worries about Aurora.

    Gathering up all my courage, I pierced the treetops and made for Arbiahe. I wondered if Aurora would even be there, honestly, seeing as we had never established a meeting place.

    As I drew nearer, I saw that he was not. I felt crestfallen, but I knew he'd probably come by eventually. I straightened my wings as I reached the branch, and let myself drop onto it. There was the protrusion of leaves, my home for the past five days. Aurora's home, as well.

    It seemed like years and years ago that the two of us had met, for I could scarcely remember a time when Aurora was not in my life. It was amusing and faintly saddening that my entire life so far spanned a mere fourteen days. The content of those fourteen days seemed enough to fill a lifetime, perhaps.

    My outlook on life and love had completely metamorphosed along with my body, which is an event that can take years at best. I owed Aurora for freeing me from a prison that I wasn't even aware of until I escaped it. And the only way I could ever pay him back was....with my love. I hoped that he would accept it.

    As if on cue, a Beautifly appeared in the early morning sun, silhouetted against it. Then it swooped in in my direction, and landed softly on the branch. It was Aurora alright, and just the sight of him sent my heart ablaze. Now was the time, but I had to see if I could rope an answer out of him first.

    "So....Aurora.....How was last night?" I asked.

    "Fine," Aurora answered tersely. He was looking away from me.

    I immediately glanced down at my feet, overtaken by shyness. What's wrong with me? I wondered angrily, This isn't some Beautifly you're meeting for the first time. This is Aurora, the one you pledged to love forever. We talked so plainly and openly all the time before that big revelation. Why can't you do that now?

    But I knew the answer to that before I even finished the question. It all came down to Aurora. I couldn't talk if he couldn't, and I couldn't love him if he didn't love me back. From this point on, he was in control.

    "Alright Henth, here's what happened. Don't interrupt me, please, because I'll falter if I hear your voice....

    ....OK, I met this Beautifly last night. This female Beautifly. She was somewhat attractive, but my mind was still on you. She showed interest in me, mostly sexual, and I refused for a while.

    But then I came to a decision. We don't have to be lovers, really. We can just be amazing friends, the likes of which the world has never seen before. We can have our own mates and our own children, but we can still be great friends. Does that sound fair?" Aurora said, his voice strained and cracking as he went on.

    This was difficult for him too, I realized, but his decision shook me deeply.

    "No...No, that's not OK. I can't just go around mating with random females, Aurora, that's not like me. I can't falsely pledge my love to others just so I can have children with them. I want you, Aurora, I want to love you," I said, tears coating my bulbous eyes as I ranted.

    Aurora started crying slightly as well.

    "Henth, I'm trying to do what's best for all of us. We can still be happy together, there's no reason we can't be. Just....not as a couple," Aurora said, half stating, half pleading.

    "But why not?" I asked, my voice beginning to rise, "We had it all planned back when we assumed the other was female. We had our whole future planned, Aurora, and it was a fantastic one. All that's changed is, in my opinion, a minor detail about each of us in the other's eyes.

    Yes, minor, because I really don't care that you're male. You're Aurora, the kindest and wittiest and friendliest creature I've met in my whole life. And I love you, male, female, or neither. Why don't you think the same?!"

    "Because it's unnatural!" Aurora proclaimed, "I've seen how it works on television. The homosexual Pokémon get shunned for their ways, and they live a life of solitude. You mean very much to me, Henth, but it's asking a lot of me to live alone with you for the rest of my life."

    "Aurora, I have friends! Friends who would gape in amazement at the fact that I've fallen in love with a male Beautifly. I have many friends, and I'm willing to set them aside for you. You don't even have friends to abandon for me, so how can you act as though it's harder on you?" I asked.

    Aurora sighed.

    "Henth, this is all so very confusing. But the fact is, I just can't love you. You're wonderful, and you're still the greatest thing that's ever happened to me. But....it just wouldn't work. My mind is made up. Don't think I'm not sorry that it has to happen this way, but there's no way around it.

    I want what's best for you, Henth. This way, you can have family and friends instead of being an outcast with me. And we can still be friends! We can still be the best of friends! Tell me what's wrong with that picture?" Aurora said.

    I didn't care for his logic right now. My emotions had taken the wheel, and love was all I had on my mind.

    "What's wrong with that....is that I can't be with the one I love as the one I love," I muttered bitterly. Aurora sighed again.

    "Henth, you can either come with me as a friend or leave me. My mate is waiting for me, and we're setting out for the place she was born, a place called Verdanturf Town. It's far, far away, and neither of us has been there before. If I leave you now, there is a small chance of us ever meeting each other again. So....what is your choice?" Aurora asked.

    Part of me still hoped my desperate love would win him back if I just showed him how firmly anchored in the idea of us being lovers I was. But the other part, the more logical part, knew that this was goodbye.

    I would never be able to look at Aurora without seeing the only Pokémon to ever win my heart. I couldn't live watching him flirt with some **** of a Beautifly. Although I wanted nothing more than to be with him, I could never live like that.

    "I'm sorry, Aurora, but if I can't love you, then I can't be with you. You're too important to me for me to look on you as a friend. If you won't love me, then we must go our separate ways," I said, my heart heavy and my voice low.

    "Alright Henth, if you that's how you feel....So I guess this is goodbye," Aurora said, struggling to keep his tone even.

    "Yes....It is," I said. We stared at each other for a long time. I was remembering all of my favorite moments with him, and Aurora was presumably doing the same. All of a sudden, one last request burst out of me.

    "Aurora....I know I've just said that we shall live separate lives, but please....May I hug you? Just once? That's all I ask..."

    Aurora was crying again, harder than before. For half a second, I thought I had broken him.

    But he dashed that hope with the short statement of, "If we're to say good-bye, then it's best we sever our emotional ties immediately. Good-bye, Henth."

    And with that, Aurora jumped off the branch, and flew away. There was a Beautifly far off in the distance, and it seemed to be waiting for him. As he neared it, it flew up to meet him. The two of them danced happily in the air, ending in an affectionate hug, and flew off into the sunrise.

    I had no feelings anymore. No anger or jealousy toward that Beautifly, no sorrow for Aurora's departure, no nothing. Just....emptiness. I took to the air with no destination or thoughts in my mind. I was just flying for lack of something better to do.

    But I couldn't fly. My mind was too ravaged. My wings wobbled, and I tipped from side to side. Before long, I was falling into Petalburg Woods. I slammed into the treetops without caring, and tumbled through the empty space underneath them listlessly.

    I didn't notice as I broke the surface of the lake. It only registered with me as I felt myself struggling to breathe. Weighed down by wings that had seemed so light not that long ago, I started to sink.

    I was dying, and would soon be dead. There was no escaping this watery tomb. But I was already dead. From the moment Aurora proposed that normal lifestyle idea of his, I had died inside. As he flew off toward Verdanturf, the meaning of my life had been lost.

    I wasn't anything anymore. Not a fairly intelligent Beautifly, not a heartbroken soul in need of mending that would never come. I was just a shell now, a shell of my former self. I was just like my cocoon...Except my cocoon had contained something worth protecting. Now, I was nothing.

    As my vision began to fade and my mind became waterlogged, my thoughts turned to Aurora one last time. Of that moment when we both confessed our love to one another. Such happiness....such wonder....such love....If only it could have been preserved.......

    ~ ~​

    Alright....It's been a while since I've written anything, least of all a lengthy, angsty One-Shot. A whole week went into refining this idea that I've been building up for months. It's been a blast writing it, hope you had a blast reading it.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2007
  3. porygon181

    porygon181 Master of the Riddle

    Wow, that was really an amazing story. I loved how you created all of those rituals and customs, and all their special little names. I definitely didn't see the twist coming - definitely good.
    The one thing that bothered me a little was the idea of homosexual pokemon on the television. Unlikely much?
    But still. Beautiful. ^^
  4. Thank you very much :)

    And well, I sort of mirrored the system we have in the real world. When we discover homosexual animals, it's sort of a big deal. There's nothing wrong with homosexuality, it's just rather rare in the face of heterosexuality. So when we find these gay penguins and gay sheep, people take note.
  5. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner Peace to the Mountain

    Wow. o.o

    There’s a lot in this that found favor with me—the Pokécentricity, the vividness of the Wurmple culture, the pleasing and well-flowing language, the originality… well, originality in my eyes, anyway; I feel that the quality of something being original is a case-by-case matter depending on whether or not the individual observer. All I know for sure is, I’ve definitely never read anything like that before. I also like the thought put into character background, particularly that of Aurora. It always impresses me to see characters and their histories as fleshed-out as his was.

    Good plot, too, imo—it won me over with its surprises. At first, the story seemed like a bright, optimistic romance… which then took a series of unexpected turns. I was probably darned near as surprised as Henth when I learned that Aurora was male. I had hoped that the two would still be able to pursue the life together that they had so eagerly planned during hteir metamorphosis, since watching their relationship develop and bloom so well was really neat. But, alas… as in real life, where some things, no matter how awesome they’d be, just don’t work out, so it was for Henth. Poor guy… to think, first he was rejected by the one person he truly adored, and then… ;-;

    Well, I like a good Pokécentric story, and I like a good tragedy. And this, in my eyes, at least, definitely qualifies as both. I really liked it. ^^
  6. Brian Random

    Brian Random I WAS FROZEN TODAY!!

    Thank you, VT. That was a fascinating tale of heartache and sorrow that could penetrate anyone’s heart. I, myself, was almost in tears at the ending part when I was feeling Henth’s sadness after Aurora’s departure. I was totally surprised when Aurora turned out to be a male… a male that Henth loved a lot; I was so surprised that I almost fell to the floor in shock, literally. I read a lot of shocking fic moments in my time but this is the most shocking out everything I’ve seen. I think the descriptions of everything were nicely done and the flow in each scene was great.

    A couple of spelling mistakes I spotted though…

    Rustburrow is actually Rustboro

    Take that word out.

    Overall, excellent job. ^^
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2007
  7. Rust'burrow' was deliberate, actually. It was a more phonetic spelling of the way everyone tends to say Rustboro.

    That second one was a mistake, though, I'll go fix that.

    But thanks to both of you, Sike and Brian :) After writing this, I had the feeling it sounded better in my head than it did on paper (figuratively). So I'm glad to know it translated well and that people enjoyed Skitoma :)
  8. Encyclopika

    Encyclopika The Queen

    It's so good I look at people's sigs. I haven't read good fic (if any at all) in a long while and this was SUCH a great revival.
    I loved it all the way through - the beginning really sucked me in and I couldn't stop reading until the end. Love the idea of Wurmples - Pokemon people usually look over. You also had some great ideas in there and included some wonderful topics.
    The twist was...disappointing to me at first, but as I read, I liked it and found it incredibly unique. Well done! ^^!
  9. LinksOcarina

    LinksOcarina The true master

    everyone said it best before me. Great descriptions, a very heart-wrenching ending, it has everything for a good one-shot. Excellent fic dude, keep writing please!
  10. Souku

    Souku Well-Known Member

    To get the negative out of the way before I launch into praise, besides one or two words left out, there was a little problem with some punctation that distracted/confused me while reading. When the same person talks, and their speech goes over a few paragraphs, you have quotation marks (") at the beginning of each paragraph but not at the end, unless it's the end of the dialogue for that character:

    It was a little confusing when Henth or Aurora was talking and their dialogue were paragraphs long because I wasn't sure who was talking, or if it was Henth's personal reflections. However, that was only something minor.

    That out of the way, I have to say that this is one story that is definitely like no other.

    The depth of the concept is amazing. I really enjoyed reading about the Wurmple's culture. Wonderful descriptions, excellent storytelling. I really loved that climatic ending, it was filled with so many surprises and so heart-wrenching. Just as Henth was, I was stunned when I found out that Aurora was male too. You have managed to work skitoma on two levels so successfully.

    You provided such a good read, I'm so grateful. Please keep writing.
  11. Atoyont

    Atoyont Brains for brawn

    Rather good, IMO.
    Unfortunately, I don't think that homosexuality is right, so I'm quite glad that those two didn't get together.

    Still, the depth was amazing, as others have said.
    I also like all of the little Pokémon rituals you tend to put in your stories. Makes it seem like they really know a lot about each other.

    And Ladybird Beetles do come from a premature stage. Just had to point that scientific anomaly out.
  12. Dekk

    Dekk Active Member

    Some corrections/suggestions

    I loved it and it was a nice twist that made it a way better story. Keep your opinions about people/animals/pokemon with a different sexual orentation than you to yourself T Meister. I found some typos and such in your wonderful story and feel free to leave it as is.

    "We'd rather be alone. Nothing against you personally, Henth. You know you're my best mate, but Maris means everything and more to me, and I want to spend the next few days with her."-Might want to change mate to friend or bud just because of mate being used for a different meaning in this story.

    "Are you awake, Aurora?" I said. I was going to try hard not to treat her differently, nor to mention her tragic back story unless she herself brought it up.-tragic back story? You should probably just take out back.

    I was ready to fly, now.-You might want to take out the coma, but you could also leave it there.

    when she still a girl in my mind.-when she still? Maybe you meant to put an is after still?
    I had no feelings anymore. No anger or jealousy toward that Beautifly, no sorrow for Aurora's departure, no nothing.-Double negative. You might want to change it to just nothing or no anything.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2008
  13. Bluestar Jet

    Bluestar Jet Master of the Sea

    Very... different. Unexpected. Unusual.

    The fic itself is brilliantly written, and the story is great, but I'm rather dissapointed with the twist... It's shocking, unexpected, and original. I dont like the twist at all, in my opinion it turns the story from a potentially beautiful romance to something different.

    All personal differences aside, the story is brilliant. Kudos.
  14. Helpful Critic

    Helpful Critic Chosen One....

    Yeah, I thought it was excellent, with lots of good writing techniques used throughout it. I didn't expect the twist at the end at all. It shocked me, but it was very beautiful.
  15. Bluestar Jet

    Bluestar Jet Master of the Sea

    I just reread the ending, out of pure shock (still shocked here). I feel the need to add that I absolutely love the story, i'm addicted to all types of romance. Its just the twist, gayness is almost never seen in any romance stories... its mostly a subject many people choose not to talk about, and I admire you for adding it in.

    Good job. I love your writing.
  16. Elemental Charizam

    Elemental Charizam Sudden Genre Shift

    The repetition of state doesn't really seem to serve any specific purpose - I'd do away with it.

    I found the dialogue awkward sometimes. I'm not entirely sure if this was intentional or not - they are, after all, infants. The prose was awkward in a few places too, but generally of a good quality.

    It felt like you gave the story a lot of thought. The glimpse of wurmple society and life cycle was rich and interesting - I especially enjoyed the small touches. The twist at the end, while implied by the title and foreshadowed earlier on ("Besides, this Wurmple had just praised me for my intelligence. I didn't want to lower its opinion of me by asking such an obvious question."), was well executed, and it seems like it caught a lot of people off guard. You did a good job of capturing the emotions of Henth there and throughout he 'fic.

    Would have been more though-provoking were I homophobic, but there are other things to think about aside from that. Good job, and good 'fic.

  17. mcdermott1

    mcdermott1 Krookodile Fanatic

    To be honest, I really loved this story. It was a good tale of love between friends. Although at the end (dont patronize me for this), but I was hoping that Aurora would have saw Henth fall into the water and go back to save him. I'm embarrassed to say that this made me feel like crying when I saw the end. Bravo sir, Bravo.

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