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The Origin of Storms


Lost but Seeking
That is easily the single most clever bit of humor I've ever come across in a review.
Yeah, that was, uh, definitely me being really clever and witty and not just forgetting to finish my sentences again. >>;

I think you got the point, anyway. Anyway, making the deranics more of a tantalizing hint than an immediate threat makes sense. The way they're introduced at the moment just made me think the payoff was going to happen sooner rather than later: "beware," "don't forget," etc.; it makes the deranics sound like the big bad (which they might be; don't remember) who's going to be messing with the characters for most of the story.

I think Animorphs is probably mostly to blame for my attention to detail there, particularly with regards to the noises involved.
Man, Animorphs sure has a lot to answer for, most of it good. But what are you thoughts on thermals?

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Negrek: My mind jumped straight to thermal underwear for some reason, which is likely a sign that 1.) I need to reread that series again, or at least the Tobias books, and 2.) it needs to warm the holy heck up over here.

As far as Faurur was concerned, the deranics definitely were the big bad. She didn't have a clue what this story was actually gonna be about.

Which is probably for the better. She had enough weighing on her mind there at the end.

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Chapter 12 – Hunter of the Shadows​

As silently as he could, Esaax staggered through the forest outside of Convergence. He’d put a considerable distance between himself and the Haven in quite a short time, having run at full speed the entire way. But now he was slowed down by exhaustion and impeded further by the rain-induced softness of the ground, as well as the maze of surrounding trees.

Though lightheaded and aching everywhere, Esaax nonetheless fought to keep his breathing calm and inaudible in spite of his lungs’ demands for more air. He wouldn’t allow himself to be heard if he could help it. He didn’t want to be noticed by any living thing.

He knew what he’d do if anything did show up. Thoughts of it—desires of it—were taking over his mind. The simple, undeniable fact was that he’d never known a hunger as savagely strong as what he now felt, and Esaax knew the next living creature to cross his path would be fatally obliged to stop it.

Going into the forest had been a wise move, he reckoned. There were pokémon here, but they were fewer in number and more scattered than the pokémon back in the city, where Esaax could effortlessly seek out his prey door-to-door…

He shook his head fiercely to clear it of the notion of running back to an easy feast. In his growing desperation, he silently called out, Stay away! Many pokémon feared psychic-types, and so he figured a mindvoice would likely keep most of his potential victims at a safe distance.

But, as Esaax quickly realized, his new form was no more telepathically gifted than his prior form. His silent message might have reached the mind of another psychic, but it was completely undetected by the hoothoot who appeared from the branches above, oblivious to Esaax’s desperate warning.

The bird was quite small, quite young. He was out on his very first hunt, but rather than spotting some relatively harmless and tasty prey creature, he’d instead found Esaax. Puzzled and curious, the hoothoot began flapping his way closer to the kwazai.

“No, no!” Esaax urged under his breath, but he was really trying to stop himself. And he was failing.

His heart raced as the hoothoot approached. The overwhelming power of his instincts flooded his brain, driving his mind beneath their currents. His senses lit up, and his muscles tensed—he was ready to strike. The hoothoot drew closer and closer—and then Esaax’s arm lashed out suddenly, his huge hand snatching the hoothoot right out of the air, his desire to avoid doing any further harm completely unreachable in an instant.

The hoothoot struggled in the kwazai’s strong grip, scattering feathers and screaming. The commotion brought another presence into Esaax’s company: that of the father noctowl.

Without a second’s hesitation, the noctowl attempted hypnosis, but Esaax had already raised his safeguard on the chance that the hoothoot might try the same thing. The kwazai merely stared into the pulsing, red light in the noctowl’s eyes with an utterly unconcerned expression.

“Let him go!” the noctowl cried, then surged forward in a take down attack, not caring about the pain the recoil would inflict upon him in the process. His strike ended up hurting him much more than he’d expected, however. An orange counter aura flared up around the kwazai a split-second before the take down could connect; the noctowl went reeling backward with a scream of pain and surprise.

With the noctowl now writhing on the ground, incapacitated for the moment, Esaax decided that he could finally eat in peace. His fingers closed around the hoothoot in his grip with all their strength. One last, piercing squawk escaped his prey, and then warm, thick streams of blood flowed freely over Esaax’s wrist and forearm as he squeezed the life out of the hoothoot. The kwazai then opened his mouth as wide as it would go. He shoved the bloody remnant of his victim into the back of his throat and swallowed it whole.

Esaax relocated his jaws and sighed happily. Then he caught sight of the furious father noctowl, who shrieked wordlessly in grief and rage as he managed to get back onto his feet and then leapt into flight. The noctowl’s wings shimmered and transformed into gleaming, metallic blades as he wheeled around in midair, ready to strike with steel wing.

Esaax was more than ready for him. His predatory eyes, which focused sharply on anything that lived and breathed, kept an unbreakable gaze upon the noctowl. His multisensory tail, meanwhile, guided his target acquisition with deadly precision. Just as the razor-sharp edge of one of the noctowl’s wings was about to slice into his neck, Esaax blasted the noctowl with a reflux attack. The noctowl was sent crashing into a tree several yards away, knocked out cold.

Though Esaax hadn’t given the slightest concern to the drawback of his dark-type attack prior to using it, he now found himself vaguely surprised that he felt so little recoil this time, particularly considering that he’d blasted the noctowl almost head-on and at very close range. While the price he’d just paid for using it was nothing to scoff at, it was nowhere near as terrible as what the reflux that had killed Madeline had earned him.

The shock to his body from blasting the noctowl unconscious was gone fairly quickly, whereas the shock to his mind that he’d experienced the last time he’d used reflux was absent altogether this time. As for his hunger, the young hoothoot he’d just devoured was too small to satisfy it. Quite eagerly, Esaax stepped forward to feed upon the noctowl, as well.

* * *​

Ntairow had followed Esaax’s trail into the forest, with the arbok and nosepass close behind. The terrain had become more difficult upon entering the woods; there were patches of mud everywhere, some of them rather deep, in which the three pokémon had to avoid getting stuck. Within a matter of minutes, however, Karo failed in that endeavor.

“Move, you guys. I’m gonna try and blast my way out,” Karo announced. He began charging up his nose with an ominous hum.

“I get the feeling you should save your electricity, Karo,” Syr advised.

“Not to mention that you should consider the noise that might make,” Ntairow added.

Ntairow and Syr got as good a hold on the nosepass as was possible. Fortunately, they were both quite strong, so once they had a good grip on him, the going was easy enough.

“You can still stay behind,” Ntairow pointed out to Karo as she worked to free him. The nosepass only scowled at her as she pulled him out from the mud.

“He doesn’t need to stay behind. He just needs to watch his step,” Syr countered. “Are you all right now?” he asked Karo.

Karo just grunted inconclusively in reply. “Stupid mud,” he griped to himself. “I hate that stuff…”

“Well, on the bright side, it did cover up the rest of that smeargle graffiti,” Syr said.

The three got moving once again, picking their way through the trees and minding the scattered puddles of mud all the more carefully.

“Are we still on the right track?” Syr asked.

“We are,” Ntairow said, “but…”

“‘But’…?” Syr prompted her.

Ntairow sighed. “His spirit has closed itself off to me. I no longer share any of his sensations… it’s like the greater part of him has died…” The thought of what that could mean brought tears to her eyes that immediately began flowing down her face in steady streams. “I can still sense his physical presence—his body, that’s all—meaning I know where he is but not what he’s experiencing or doing—though I do have some idea,” she said darkly. “Very recent death hovers nearby…”

For quite a while in the wake of those words, the three continued after Esaax in total silence. As the quiet persisted, something crossed Syr’s mind and ultimately compelled him to ask about it.

“So…” he spoke up. “Ntairow, was it?”

The kwazai made a vaguely affirmative noise.

“There’s something I’ve been wondering…” Syr said.

“And that is…?”

“Well… you’ve known Esaax for a long time, right?”

“If you consider roughly a fifth of a century a long time, then yes,” Ntairow answered.

“I do,” Syr said, though what really struck him about the length of time that she’d just described was that it meant she actually hadn’t known Esaax for much longer than he had, which surprised him a bit. While Syr and Esaax had encountered others of the latter’s kind during their previous time together, they’d never really gotten the chance to get to know any of them under the circumstances. As such, Syr had assumed that Ntairow had come from wherever Esaax had, that the two kwazai had grown up together.

Since that apparently wasn’t the case, he reckoned Ntairow wouldn’t have gotten as many chances to have witnessed what he wanted to ask her about, but he figured it was worth a shot anyway.

“Anyway…” the arbok went on, “well, when you knew him… did you ever see any signs of it? Of his illness, I mean?”

Ntairow sent an odd look back at him. “What he’s going through right now was caused by his evolution. He only just evolved tonight.”

“No, not that… I’m talking about something else,” Syr said. “Something I saw earlier today. We… we lost an old friend today.” His voice cracked on those words, and he had to struggle a bit to continue. “Before we went to see her… and during… I saw this strange, multicolored aura try to form around him a couple of times.”

Ntairow didn’t stop walking, but she did tense up noticeably. “You’re certain it had many colors?” she asked, sounding somewhat awed and alarmed at the same time.

“Yes,” Syr confirmed. “And… I think it has something to do with grief. When I went to meet him at the Haven, they told me why he was in there. They said it was some kind of psychic illness, and they described something that happened… right after we lost one of our other friends.” Thinking about her brought out the tears that had been welling up in Syr’s eyes ever since he’d spoken of what had happened to Faurur; he shook them away as best as he could, which wasn’t terribly well at all.

“They said he’d apparently seen a multicolored aura appear around himself then,” he continued, “and then he couldn’t tell whether he was alive or dead or what. It broke him, Ntairow. It took the people at the Haven years before they got him back to anywhere near normal… but it looks like he needed more time.”

“Dear Night…” Ntairow said, half-whispering. “We were right about him all along…”

“What?” Syr asked. “Did you see the aura, too?”

“No,” Ntairow responded, “but I did see something just as important, something in his psychic signature that apparently none of his people recognized—or believed us about. Even Esaax himself couldn’t quite believe what we told him about what we saw. Some of us took their word for it—just assumed that there genuinely weren’t any among the Evergray and that we must have been mistaken in our perception of him somehow—but others weren’t so quick to dismiss it, including me…”

“Ntairow… what are you talking about?” Syr asked, trying not to sound as confused as he felt or as frustrated as he was beginning to feel. “They assumed there genuinely weren’t any what among the Evergray?”

“Healers,” Ntairow clarified. “Esaax is a healer. Most of our kind can only share our pain. Those like Esaax can share their lifeforce, as well. They use this ability to help others, to strengthen and heal them.”

“Wow…” Syr said, astonished at the notion that his friend could have been harboring such a secret all this time and vaguely wondering why he’d been keeping it a secret. “That’s amazing if it’s true… but I don’t know. It didn’t sound or look like he was really helping anyone—just hurting himself.”

“That’s part of how it’s supposed to work,” Ntairow told him. “Like I said, it involves sharing one’s lifeforce—giving of one’s self. But it’s not supposed to hurt the healer in the ways you described.

“And if it really wasn’t helping anyone… well, I’m not surprised. It sounds as though no one among his kind or anyone else he’s lived with over the years has known for sure that he was what he was any more than he’s known it. And his healer abilities have been compelling him to use them—and since he had no proper guidance, no way of really knowing what he was doing… of course he’s made mistakes. Of course things went wrong.” She sighed. “Dear Night, do I ever wish I’d reunited with him sooner…”

“Yeah… I wish I had, too,” Syr said, finding himself at a loss for anything else to say. “Not that I could have really helped him, but…”

Ntairow lowered her head slightly, acknowledging his words, but said nothing else for a moment. Then, “So how long have you known him, then?” she asked Syr.

“Not quite as long as you have,” Syr answered. “Only since just a few years before the Extinction. We… hadn’t been in touch for a while before today,” he admitted. “Me and… and another of our friends had to take care of something important—someone was threatening some of her kind and mine—and, well… He couldn’t come with us, and we couldn’t go with him.”

“Hmm,” was apparently all that Ntairow had to say to that.

Syr didn’t attempt to get anything more out of her for the time being, not on that subject or any other. He had a lot on his mind now, even more than before… and among those thoughts was something that had made its way back toward the forefront of his mind. Someone who’d so recently departed his life once and for all had been brought up more than once in the conversation he’d just had.

He felt fresh pangs of grief as his thoughts lingered on the subject of Faurur, and he tried but failed to hold back a fresh surge of tears as well as the sobs that accompanied them. Ntairow cast a concerned, sympathetic-looking glance over her shoulder at this but said nothing.

Karo, however, hastily waddled up to the arbok, fighting to stay alongside him. “You all right there, big guy?” he asked. “…Is this about that friend you said you lost earlier?”

Syr could only nod in response.

“Well—” Karo broke off into a swear as he nearly tripped on a branch. “…Whoops, sorry about that. Anyway… uh… crap. I kinda suck at this… I wish you’d been able to tell me about this sooner, like back at the house, maybe. I could’ve had Breanna bring us over some pie or something, and we could’ve talked about all this… Maybe she’d have had a better idea of what to say than I do.”

“It’s okay. I appreciate what you’re doing just fine,” Syr said, and he meant it. Still, he did have to agree with Karo’s wish that they’d had more of a chance to discuss what had happened with Faurur earlier—especially since the nosepass might have been in a position to help him carry out some of Faurur’s last wishes. Syr knew very little about what she’d asked him to start warning people about, but Karo, with the wealth of information that he had lying around at his home, might have been a little more knowledgeable about the things in question.

Even without ready access to those stores of information, Karo still might know something useful offhand. Deciding to find out for sure, “Hey, Karo… have you ever heard of deranics?” he asked the nosepass. “And something to do with them called—ah, what was it? …Oh yeah. ‘Seterhath Zulo-Denvenda’. Are you familiar with these things at all?”

“Hmm… I’m not, but Ren might be. When he gets back, I’ll ask him,” Karo said.

Syr sighed. “I really wish you’d stop talking about your trainer like that.”

“Like what?” Karo asked.

“Like… well, like he’s still alive,” Syr answered quietly.

“And why wouldn’t he be?” Karo asked.

“Well… because he’s human, Karo,” Syr said.

Karo snorted. “Whatever you say…”

Syr looked at him pityingly for a moment, as he usually did whenever Karo insisted on entertaining the notion that Ren was still alive. But with the weight of his own recent loss on his figurative shoulders, he let the subject drop early this time. Let him believe, if that’s the only way he can deal with it, he told himself, with some small part of him wishing he could do likewise.

* * *​

Ceaselessly moving as if possessed, Esaax found the trees around him thinning. His wandering had brought him back toward the city, which was now perfectly fine by him. He was no longer hungry in the slightest anyway. He’d found the abandoned, partial carcass of a stantler minutes ago, and there’d been just enough left to chase away the last remaining traces of his hunger.

He’d eaten too much, actually. He felt slightly ill and sought to sleep it off as soon as he could find a decent place to do so. Before long, he spotted an unfinished mini mall. He figured he could go into one of the empty stores and at least avoid direct exposure to the sun, which was due to rise in just a matter of hours.

Esaax entered one of the stores through a large, smashed window. To his surprise, he was instantly greeted by a trio of voices:

“Hey, what’s that?”

“Huh, I can’t tell…”

“Who cares what he is? He doesn’t belong here!”

The owners of the three voices came forward to reveal themselves as three smeargle—needlessly, as Esaax had already seen them through the darkness. The one Esaax had heard last spoke again, introducing himself and his companions.

“Why, hello there! I’m Mark,” he said. “This is Tom—” He pointed at the smeargle to his right. “—and this is Travis.” He pointed at the one to his left. “And this,” Mark said, spreading his arms wide to indicate the space surrounding him, “is our territory. Thanks for the visit. Now get out!”

Mentioning that this place was their territory had also been unnecessary, as Esaax had already seen that, too. It was literally written all over the walls. It looked as though they were trying to convince themselves more than anyone else that this place belonged to them.

Esaax took a step toward the smeargle. The smeargle all took a step back. “Maybe you should get out,” the kwazai said.

“Hmm. Looks like blue-butt won’t listen to reason. What a shame,” Mark said, shaking his head. “Okay, then, if that’s how you wanna play…” He took a great leap backward and called out, “Go!”

Tom attacked first, using spark. Electricity crackled all around his body as he tackled the kwazai’s shoulder and held on tightly, allowing his electric charge to keep on flowing into his opponent.

Esaax snarled at the sizzling pain and retaliated with counter. The attack shocked Tom out of his electric technique, but the smeargle still refused to let go of him. Esaax solved that problem by grabbing the smeargle with his jaws and pulling him off, shaking him briefly before throwing him forcefully to the ground.

Esaax was sure that Tom was out of the fight, but then the smeargle began to emit the telltale glow of the recover technique. Tom’s wounds began mending swiftly. Esaax moved to try and foil Tom’s recovery—but then Travis seemed to launch out of nowhere with a blazing dynamic punch—

—and missed. His attack had been ruined by Esaax’s watchful tail, which had allowed the kwazai to sense its unsubtle approach and sidestep it almost lazily.

Snarling and muttering curses under his breath, Travis spun on his heel to face Esaax once more. He raised his fist, and it burst into rust-colored “flames” of fighting-type energy as he readied another dynamic punch. But he never got a chance to launch his second strike, for at that moment, Esaax fired a reflux attack at him. The force of the dark-type blast sent Travis flying into a junk-filled corner, where he was impaled upon a shard of jagged sheet metal. The smeargle’s eyes froze wide open as his body slid slowly down upon the daggerlike protrusion.

Esaax staggered at the jolt of his attack’s recoil. It compromised him for a moment that was just long enough to let Mark blast him right in the head with the reflux he’d just sketched from the kwazai himself.

The strike itself only hurt somewhat… but the moment after the last traces of its dark energy seeped into Esaax, a strange, harsh noise swelled to a painful intensity inside his skull. He gave a ragged, tormented-sounding cry and swayed on the spot as a dizzying wave washed over him, and then he dropped like a stone.

Just before he blacked out, he heard Tom say, “No, don’t shoot him again; let’s just get out of here!”
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The Ghost Lord
And I'm caught up! That took shorter than expected.

Anyway, you know how with a lot of stories there's suspense because you don't know what's going to happen next? For me this story creates suspense because I know exactly what's going to happen next and there are many instances where it's leading up to a particular scene I remember and my mind is a steady stream of "oh crap oh crap oh crap AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH"

Also, Essax wins the "Give this guy a ****ing hug" award. After all you've done to him over the course of this story he totally deserves it.

And Karo is great, though I think he had a slightly smaller role in the original?

And as far as I remember the female trainer in the gym battle scene was an author insert, if I remember correctly?

But overall I love this story just as much as I did... Eight years ago now? But yeah, while your stuff is often dark and that isn't normally my thing your writing is just so gripping I really don't care. Plus, it's funny too.

Looking forward to reading the final chapters all over again.

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Umbramatic: Karo's definitely got more lines this time around. God I like writing that guy.

And nah, Reggie's not an insert. But she wasn't always Reggie. She, and for that matter Ren, were originally transplanted from an original sci-fi series that I had a bazillion character concepts for but no actual plot. I've probably mentioned this somewhere before, but my username here (and pretty much everywhere else I post fiction) is just those two character's names (or, well, one character's alias and the other's name) put together because I liked how it sounded.

Anyway, shelved the series-that-barely-even-was, salvaged those two characters as Pokémon OCs, then filed the names off when I thought I'd try once more to actually write the story they came from. Years later, I still don't have anything more than a bunch of character profiles (and I use that term loosely) and something of a setting. But at this point I've gotten too used to thinking of them as Ren and Regina to change them back. I think the new names are an upgrade anyway, so. :B

Come to think of it, I think this is actually the first time(s) I've publicly confirmed her new name anywhere.

Thanks for the read 'n' reply! :>

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Chapter 13 – X

Esaax wasn’t unconscious for long. He awoke and immediately wished he hadn’t; he was fatigued and nauseated, and pain pounded in his head and seared down the length of his spine to the end of his tail.

He tried to stand, but found that he couldn’t. Instead, he fell into a four-legged version of a kneeling position. He looked around, sweeping the space surrounding him with a gaze that wouldn’t quite focus. Grumbling, he buried his face in his hands and tried to rub the haze out of his eyes.

When he looked up again, he spotted movement off in the corner. He turned his head toward the motion. There, he saw Travis the smeargle crawl out of the junk pile, brush himself off, and begin walking up to him. The smeargle was covered in black scorch marks, with the metal shard still pierced right through him.

“Feeling all right?” Travis asked amiably.

Esaax stared blankly at Travis for a second. Then he tried to get back onto his feet again, succeeding this time, and started backing away from Travis in as much of a hurry as he could manage. His legs gave out from underneath him before he got very far, forcing him to kneel before the undead smeargle once more.

“What are you running from, huh? Can’t we have a little chat?” Travis asked.

“I’m not talking to you,” Esaax said flatly.

“Yes, you are, you just opened your mouth and said—”

“You’re a hallucination!”

“I’m a damn good hallucination, though, you have to admit,” Travis said, fidgeting with the bloody piece of metal that protruded from his chest.

Esaax shut his eyes and shook his head. To his dismay, Travis was still there when he opened his eyes once more. Esaax groaned. “I feel like crap,” he mumbled.

“Well, of course you do! I mean, think about it. You keep using that crazy black beam of yours, and you hurt yourself every time you use it, no matter how much you hold back when you do. And it’s cumulative, you know. That damage adds up over time.

“But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, isn’t it?” Travis went on. “See, every time that nifty little attack bounces back at you, that’s pure dark energy hitting your system. Psybane. Which really shouldn’t bother you that much, right? After all, you’re half-psychic, but you’re half-dark, too, aren’t you?”

Esaax sighed. “Yeah, that’s right.”

“Well, now, wait a minute. Suppose that’s… not exactly right.”

“…What do you mean?” Esaax asked, perplexed.

“Botched evolution, my friend,” Travis answered. “Or are you gonna try and tell me that there wasn’t something distinctly… off about your evolutionary experience?”

Esaax only growled in response.

“The problem with you evolving is that you weren’t supposed to,” Travis said. “Wasn’t supposed to be possible, was it? My friend, you got forced into this form. You got forced into this combination of elements, and it’s not one that’s meant to be fooled around with.”

The smeargle began to pace in front of Esaax. “Dark and psychic. That’s a completely one-sided matchup right there. One is devastatingly dominant; the other, totally helpless. Now, maybe somewhere out there in the wide world of nature and supernature, that works just fine. But not here. Not in you.

“You just can’t go forcing these things, man. Yet someone—I repeat, someone—forced it on you. Now, I want you to take a moment right now to think back. Can you figure out who might’ve done this to you?”

After a moment’s hesitation, Esaax did as he was advised, but his present illness made it hard for him to focus well enough to recall his memories clearly. As he managed to remember some of the most recent things he’d done, he was sickened even further, swallowing hard as his stomach gave a threatening lurch.

It wasn’t until he managed to recall the period of time immediately preceding his evolution that anything even remotely resembling an answer to Travis’s question came to him. “I… I don’t know who it was for sure, but… I remember something hitting me right before I evolved. And I thought I felt someone in the room with me… I think it was a ghost.”

Travis cocked an eyebrow at him. “You thought you felt a ghost in the room with you, huh?” he said in a skeptical tone. “May I remind you that you… weren’t exactly feeling so great at the time? In case you haven’t noticed, sometimes the mind plays tricks on you when you’re feeling under the weather.”

Esaax just glared dully at him.

“But anyway,” Travis went on, “try looking a little further back than that. Is there anything else you’ve experienced recently that had any kind of significant physical effect on you?”

Esaax combed through his memories again, trying to keep his thoughts moving in a straight line backward from his evolution without overlooking any potentially important details. He remembered being brought to the Haven, then remembered the ride in Jen’s car from Syr’s house, and then remembered the ride to Syr’s house from…

Esaax’s eyes widened, and he felt his mouth go dry. In his mind’s eye, he could see the private counseling office at the Hope Institute, wherein a needle sank into his arm under the guidance of a human hand…

DeLeo,” Esaax said hoarsely.


“It was that serum he gave me… that’s what started all this…”

“You’ve got it,” Travis said, beaming proudly. “You’re miserable now because of that sorry excuse for a human. He just tacked another type on you, and that screwed up the one you already had. Your new body was elementally unstable from the start, and it’s growing ever more so, I’m afraid…”

Travis came to stand right in front of Esaax. He stood on his toes, brought his paintbrush-tail forward, and painted a large “X” across the kwazai’s chest in bright red ink. “You’re a goner, Evergray.”

“What if I just don’t use that dark attack anymore?”

Travis shook his head sadly. “I’m afraid it’s too late now, my friend. Too much damage and too much stress in a period of time that’s much too short for your poor body to cope with… and there’s no fixing it, man. You’re on your way out, and there’s no turning back…”

Esaax spent a few moments in silence. “So this is really gonna kill me,” he said finally, wearily.

Travis made a small, affirmative noise, nodding. “And it’s all thanks to Mr. Sylvester DeLeo.”

Esaax sighed and knitted his spidery fingers on top of his head, covering his face with his large palms. “Maybe I should go,” he whispered. “I hate what I’ve become. Do you realize how many people I’ve killed just tonight?”

“You’re a predator now, so what? You’ve gotta eat, right?”

“I killed you on a full stomach,” Esaax pointed out.

Accidentally. And no, you didn’t kill me, anyway; I’m just a hallucination, remember?”

Esaax groaned miserably and lowered his gaze to the dirty floor. “This is all just so wrong…”

“I agree,” said Travis, lowering his head somberly. “I wish that there was some way to change your fate… but there just isn’t one, man. Sorry. Oh… but there is something you can still do about it…”

“What’s that?” Esaax asked, lifting his gaze.

“DeLeo put this misery on you. Why don’t you go pay him back?”


“Come on. You know you wanna.”

“I don’t know,” Esaax muttered. “I’m just so tired…”

“There, you see? Your time is running out. So go on, get going. It’s not too far from here.”

“I don’t know if I can walk there right now, even if it is close. I’m sure I can’t run,” Esaax told the smeargle. “And besides, I… I just don’t think I have it in me… I mean, going over there, and then hurting him… killing him…”

“But you do have it in you, my friend,” Travis said with more than a hint of enthusiasm. “You can do this. You can pull this off. There’s just one thing you have to do.”

“And what’s that?”

The smeargle gave a bloody grin. “Surrender, Evergray. Let me take over.” His green eyes shifted dramatically in color, becoming black all throughout like a pair of deep, dark holes. The rest of him followed suit, the scattered scorchings of his coat spreading until he was pitch-black all over. He became an animate shadow, a dark mass that rapidly changed shape and grew into a dramatically different form.

Esaax now beheld another kwazai, one made out of softly glowing shadow-substance. He stared at them, and he quickly found himself moved by the sight and presence of them. They were beautiful, incredibly so, and he wondered why he hadn’t allowed himself to look at them and what they represented in this way before.

The shadow-kwazai lifted Esaax’s head in their hands, comforting him as if he were their child. They took him by the shoulders and lifted him back onto his feet, supporting his weight easily. They gazed deep into his eyes as they held him steady. “May I?” they asked in a hollow-sounding voice.

Esaax’s surrender was silent. He opened his arms to embrace the darkness, which melted into him like ice and left him feeling virtually nothing: no remorse for his recent actions or trepidation about what he was about to do, no pain or illness, not even the tiredness he’d known mere minutes before. All that was left was the cold simplicity of his new resolve: Go. Find him.

Esaax rose, left the empty store, and strode over to the curb, stepping over it onto the street. Headlights appeared from around the corner a short distance away, and the moment they did, he collapsed onto the asphalt.

The approaching car came to a stop just short of where Esaax had fallen, and the golduck who’d been driving got out and rushed to his side at once, leaving the vehicle running.

“Are you all right?” the golduck asked, concerned—then gave a squawk of surprise as a massive hand lying at his feet suddenly seized him by the ankles and pulled him to the ground. Esaax’s other hand came down hard in a fist against the golduck’s head immediately afterward, then did it again for good measure, knocking the golduck out.

Esaax got back to his feet once more, then went over to the car. He determined that he could probably fit into it and operate it just fine if it weren’t for that roof. With a fair bit of effort, he managed to tear enough of it away to suit his needs. He then smashed the window in his way and stepped over the door to get in, not noticing the shards of glass that bit into him as he did so. Somewhat awkwardly, he turned to face forward and extended his hind legs up and over into the seat behind him.

Had he been in his right mind, Esaax might have felt a thrill at the fact that he was going to drive for the first time in over a decade, with no Syr or anyone else around in any position to tell him that he couldn’t or shouldn’t. As it was, though, he was still focused entirely on the task that awaited him. Without a second’s hesitation, he sped off toward the Hope Institute, very nearly running over the golduck in the process.

* * *​

Just as the three pokémon seeking Esaax left the forest, Ntairow abruptly stopped in front of Syr and Karo. Syr very nearly ran right into her, reeling back and veering off to the side just in time.

“Ntairow… what’s going on?” he asked her.

“I’ve lost him completely,” Ntairow said heavily. She turned to the others. “I can’t sense anything of him now. It’s as if he’s simply gone.”

“You don’t think that he’s… that he’s no longer alive, do you?” Syr asked fearfully in barely more than a whisper.

Ntairow lowered her head. “I don’t know,” she said quietly. “I honestly don’t know.”

Out of nowhere, two shapes burst onto the scene: the two surviving smeargle. They stopped dead at the sight of Ntairow.

“Run for it, it’s another one!” said Tom.

“No, it’s not…” said Mark.

“Yes, it is,” said Ntairow. She swiftly grabbed both smeargle by their tails and raised them to eye level. “You two have seen Esaax, then?”

“If by ‘Esaax’, you mean that big, blue thing who killed our friend, then yes!” Mark said, flailing in a futile attempt to escape.

Syr and Ntairow both winced at the news of yet another murder committed by their friend. Karo, meanwhile, came to stand before Ntairow and looked up at her two captives.

“Give them to me,” the nosepass said. There was an ominous weight to his voice that hadn’t been there before, and he seemed to be bearing down on the smeargle even from below.

It was then that the smeargle finally noticed Karo. Their nervousness visibly increased, and they began to struggle even more desperately to get away.

“Karo, you have no way of knowing if these are the same smeargle who broke into your house,” said Syr.

“Are you sure about that? Cause I’ve gotta say, they’re looking pretty guilty from here.” He edged even closer to the smeargle, and their reactions made it clear that they badly wanted to be somewhere else at this point. “See how they fear me,” Karo said with a laugh. “They know what they’ve done. And they know what’s coming. Now, let’s see…” he said, examining the ink that was beginning to leak from their tail-tips under the pressure of Ntairow’s grip. “There’s Mr. Blue… there’s Mr. Yellow… hey, where’s Mr. Red?”

“I already said, schnozzo, that ‘Esaax’ thing killed him! He tried to kill all of us!” Mark said angrily.

“And he was the one trespassing in our territory!” Tom added.

“Yeah, but then I blasted him with one of these—” Mark raised his hand and shot a reflux into the sky, at which Ntairow nearly dropped him. “—and down he went.”

“…You didn’t kill him, did you?” Ntairow asked shakily.

“No, Tom wouldn’t let me finish him off,” Mark said acidly.

“Cause when you shot him, it hurt you, too! You might have died if you’d killed him!” Tom responded.

“You can’t possibly know that any more than I can!” Mark argued. “Well, okay, then. When that blue freak wakes up and decides to come after us, I’ll just tell him he can go ahead and blast your brains out first since it’ll have been your bright idea to show mercy to the monster that’ll have made that lovely scenario possible in the first place, you dumbass!”

“Stop it, both of you,” Ntairow said firmly. She knocked the smeargles’ heads together. Karo cheered. “Is he still where you left him, then?” Ntairow demanded of the smeargle.

“Urgh… I don’t know,” Mark replied after he stopped seeing lights bursting in the back of his eyes. “If he’s stayed unconscious, then yes, he’s probably still there.”

“Actually… he’s not,” said Tom. Everyone, including Mark, turned to stare at him. “Over there,” Tom said, pointing.

Everyone looked in the direction that Tom was indicating. There they saw a kwazai in a mangled blue car hurtling down the street at an incredible speed.

Ntairow threw the two smeargle facefirst to the ground. “Come on!” she shouted, taking off at a run after the car. “And leave them alone!” she added over her shoulder to Karo.

“Awww…” the nosepass groaned, disappointed. He turned to the two smeargle, who were still sprawled out on the ground and rubbing their sore muzzles. Now he really was bearing down on them. “Make no mistake—I am so gonna squash you one of these days,” he told them, using the “ominous” voice once again. Then he shot off a tiny bolt of electricity to send the smeargle scurrying off on their way.
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Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Chapter 14 – Chasing a Rumor

Esaax rushed recklessly through the streets of Convergence, which were fortunately more or less deserted at the time. Most of the local pokémon were diurnal, and with sunrise approaching, most of those who didn’t keep daytime hours were getting ready to go to sleep.

The kwazai found what he was looking for fairly quickly, recognizing the squat box of a building that was the Hope Institute right away. He entered the parking lot and parked at an odd angle across two spaces, then jumped out of the car, landing less than gracefully and struggling for a couple of moments to keep from toppling over.

Esaax didn’t bother making his way around to the front door. He could sense living presences just a couple of yards past the wall that lay before him, two of whom were familiar—one of whom was his target.

He fired a sustained reflux into the barrier in front of him. As soon as enough of the wall had been weakened to admit him, he stepped forward right into it, causing the weakened portion to crumble into powder around him as he passed through it.

It turned out there was another wall between him and his quarry, but this fact didn’t faze him; he simply decided to repeat the process that had gotten him into the building in the first place. His body was somewhat less willing to oblige this time. There was a slightly longer delay than usual before the black beam came to his summons, and when the dark energy began pouring from his outstretched hand, his senses faltered a bit, his vision briefly dimming, the raised voices from the other side of the wall temporarily drowned out by a ringing in his ears.

Just as he’d done the time before, Esaax pushed his way through the wall and into the room beyond it as soon as he could. He was met with the sight of a small crowd of glalie with dark blue protect auras, and he could sense DeLeo’s presence behind them as the human used them for cover—but before he could try to leap over the glalie and get at his quarry, there was a loud crack, and he was down in an instant.

DeLeo stood and made his way over to the now unconscious kwazai, then looked down at him and sighed. “You could’ve just knocked, Esaax.”

* * *​

When Esaax awoke, he was greeted by the sight of a long, spindly, robotic arm that extended from somewhere above him to a point right in front of his face. It clutched a now-darkened revive crystal in its metal fingers. Esaax considered biting the arm and tearing it down as he watched it swiftly ascend once more, but lingering grogginess kept him from acting on that idea before the arm had vanished.

It was then that his senses reawakened enough to detect the familiar presences from earlier very nearby: DeLeo and Solonn—the former of which provoked a very strong reaction. Esaax’s eyes and oculons both locked on to the human before him, and his exhaustion seemed to shatter into pieces; he promptly rose and began snapping and swiping at the wall of glowing, green energy that separated him from DeLeo.

In the next moment, however, he was no longer interested in trying to break out, lowering his arms and sinking to his knees. A calming gas had been released into the containment field from above while he’d been so distracted by his target.

“Shh… it’s all right, Esaax,” DeLeo said. “You’re exactly where you need to be right now. I’ll bet you’ve got a lot of questions about what’s happened to you, and I’ve got all the answers.”

DeLeo looked at him expectantly, but Esaax only stared back. The kwazai still entertained thoughts of attacking and killing the human, but no longer felt any need to act upon them.

DeLeo approached the containment field. He came to a stop right in front of it and leaned against the glowing wall as if it were ordinary glass. Doing so apparently didn’t hurt him in any way, just as it hadn’t hurt Esaax.

“You probably didn’t know you could evolve, did you?” DeLeo asked. “I know most wobbuffet don’t. So I’m gonna tell you a little story, Esaax. One that’ll explain why this has been kept from you—and why you shouldn’t be scared of it. No, you should be anything but scared…” he told Esaax with what sounded like awed excitement.

DeLeo took a step back, clasping his hands in front of himself. “There’s a legend,” he began, “hundreds of years old, about a king of the Mordial region named Asotura. His reign was glorious but short—he was killed by an assassin who was never found.

“The king’s body was discovered by his most faithful pokémon friend. And that friend was a kwazai, Esaax. Just like you are.

“Anyway, according to the legend, this kwazai refused to let the king be taken from him, and so he called on his ‘ultimate inner power’—and actually raised Asotura from the dead.

“Now, that was the good news for the king. The bad news was that his people decided they didn’t want his reign to continue. They didn’t exactly like the tale of Asotura’s resurrection, you see. They called it unnatural, and they called him an abomination.

“And the kwazai became demons in their eyes. The ancient Mordialans decided to just slaughter every single kwazai they could find. And they did the same thing to wobbuffet and wynaut, too, in order to make sure the kwazai were exterminated completely. Asotura’s own army even sided with the public. They went against the king’s orders to put an end to the killing and instead joined in the effort to eradicate your species. Doesn’t it just make you sick?”

Esaax neither said nor did a single thing in response. His two eyes and four oculons continued to hold the human in a dead, silent stare.

“Well, anyway…” DeLeo resumed, “as for Asotura himself, there wasn’t anyone around who didn’t want him dead—and permanently this time. But when they stormed the castle, he wasn’t anywhere to be found. Nobody knows how he got away, but he did, and he also managed to rescue a handful of your kind along with himself.

“After he escaped from Mordial, he looked for a place where your people could continue to be protected for generations to come. Apparently one was provided right here in Hoenn by a legendary pokémon—nobody knows which one. Whoever they were, they gave their home to the refugees. Then they used their legendary powers to hide the refugees’ new sanctuary before taking off for who knows where. You might’ve heard of this sanctuary, Esaax. These days, it’s known as Mirage Island.

“Anyway, the people of Asotura’s former kingdom tried to keep his story and the secret of your people’s final evolutionary form from surviving the ages. But their efforts ultimately proved useless, because that story was recorded—supposedly by Asotura himself—on a little something called the Tablet of Asotura. The tablet went missing for centuries, but it was eventually found by a human explorer from Pacifidlog. But before he could go public with his discovery, well… you know what happened fourteen years ago,” he said quietly.

“Luckily one of the explorer’s pokémon bothered to take care of the tablet after the explorer passed away. That pokémon eventually decided he wanted to see kwazai brought back into the world, and ultimately he found us and sought our assistance in that matter. Once he told me the story of Asotura and what his kwazai could do… well, there was no question about it. None. I knew I had to help him.”

DeLeo stepped back up to the containment field. “Do you remember what I told you earlier, Esaax?” he asked. “About why I founded the Hope Institute? This—” He gestured toward Esaax. “—ties into that. We turned you into this for a very special purpose, Esaax. A very, very important one.”

An expression that managed to look sort of hopeful and pained at the same time overtook his features. “I know what you’ve lost, Esaax. I know exactly what you’ve lost,” he said, and his voice cracked audibly on those last six words. “I’ve lost the exact same thing—the exact same people. But we’re gonna bring ’em back, Esaax. You’re gonna bring ’em back, as soon as we’re sure you’re strong enough.”

DeLeo pressed his hands against the wall of energy between him and Esaax once more. “You’ll see,” he half-whispered, sounding slightly crazed, his smile broadening. “It’s gonna be just like the old days. Only better.”

He then turned away from Esaax and made for the room’s exit, striding past Solonn as he went. Solonn had kept silent the entire time that DeLeo had been speaking to Esaax, and DeLeo had actually managed to forget the glalie was there until he walked past him.

As he spoke the voice command that opened the doors before him and then ushered Solonn out of the room ahead of him, part of him noticed that the glalie was wearing an expression that was severe-looking even for those of his kind, his large, luminous, blue eyes burning rather brighter than usual. DeLeo gave these details next to none of his mind, however, too absorbed in thoughts of how close he was to finally accomplishing the goal toward which he’d been striving for more than a decade, a goal that meant more to him than anything in the world.

A few seconds later, however, a low voice from behind him cut into those thoughts.

“How could you do such a thing?” Solonn demanded, sounding both angry and hurt.

DeLeo stopped in his tracks and turned to face the glalie. “…What? What’re you talking about?”

“You did this to him,” Solonn hissed, shaking slightly as he spoke, “without his consent? Without even so much as his awareness that he could be changed in such a way?”

DeLeo blinked at him, bemused. “What… what’s it to you?”

Solonn’s eyes narrowed. “You have no right to inflict a change on someone who doesn’t ask you for it first,” he said, moving even closer to DeLeo, causing the human to take a step back involuntarily. “No one has that right. You disgust me, DeLeo.”

Fear began showing through DeLeo’s expression insofar as it could. “Look… I’m sorry you don’t like how we’ve gone about this whole kwazai business, okay? I really am. But… don’t you understand what we’re trying to do here?” he asked, pained frustration in his voice. “Were you even paying attention to anything I said in there other than the parts you didn’t like? We’re trying to restore lives, Solonn! And let me tell you something: once we’ve restored certain lives in particular, I promise you Esaax is gonna be so happy that he’s not gonna care that he didn’t have a say in whether or not he evolved.”

“And what if this legend you spoke of is just that—just a legend?” Solonn asked. “What if it turns out that you’ve only been chasing a damn rumor all this time? Did you consider that possibility for even a second? Did you consider what it might do to Esaax if he were told that he can bring back people whom he cares about when in reality he can’t, to find out that he was subjected to a change—one that has obviously upset him very much—for nothing?”

DeLeo only stared at him at first. Then his face twisted into as much of an anguished look as it could. “…It’s more than just a legend,” he insisted. “I’m sorry you can’t see that… and I’m not gonna let you get in the way of our proving it!”

With an inhuman speed, DeLeo’s hands swung out toward Solonn and split down the middle with a faint click, each of them simultaneously opening up like the covers of a book and exposing dark, metallic nozzles. In very nearly the same instant, jets of fire came roaring out from the newly-revealed weapons—only to dissipate harmlessly against the dark blue aura their intended target had conjured around himself just in time.

Solonn hissed and recoiled in reaction to the fiery attack despite its futility. His eyes then blazed a bright white, and a crack echoed through the hallway as he unleashed a sheer cold attack on DeLeo.

The strike hit its mark—DeLeo immediately fell unconscious and dropped to the floor. Solonn briefly looked down upon him in lingering disbelief, still shaking in primal fear for a few moments, then called out to his co-workers in the Hope Institute, uncomfortable with the notion of leaving DeLeo unguarded despite the human’s present condition.

He couldn’t undo what DeLeo had done to Esaax. But he was determined to at least see to it that the human paid for it.
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Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Chapter 15 – The Swarm

There came a point when Ntairow’s patience for Karo’s speed—or rather his lack thereof—finally ran out. Without warning, she broke away from the party at a very fast run, ignoring the others’ shouted pleas to let them catch up.

Syr might have been able to keep relatively close to Ntairow, but he wouldn’t abandon Karo. Likewise, Syr wouldn’t abandon the search for Esaax, but having lost sight of him, and now separated from Ntairow and her empathic connection to Esaax, Syr could really only hope he was still moving in the right direction.

It was by pure chance that he and Karo eventually managed to reunite with Ntairow, several minutes after she’d left them. She was standing with her back against the front doors of none other than the Hope Institute.

“Of course…” Syr rushed to Ntairow’s side. “He’s here?” he asked her.

“Yes,” she answered.

This is where it started,” Syr said, his eyes wide with realization. “Esaax got sick right after he left from here…” The arbok shook his head in disbelief and shame. “I should’ve figured it out much sooner, but I’d already made scapegoats out of the poor staff at the Haven… Looks like Esaax knew, though. And now he’s come back for answers.”

“Or blood,” Ntairow said grimly.

Syr immediately had to drive out a mental image of a massacre at Esaax’s hands. “…So how long have you been waiting out here?” he asked Ntairow.

“Too long. All the doors are locked, and I couldn’t force any of them open. Esaax opted to take a shortcut through one of the walls, but the hole’s been covered over with ice. And not normal ice, either. I was able to chip away at it somewhat, but it immediately grew back, almost as if it were alive…”

Syr shuddered, feeling his throat go dry. “Living” ice needed no further explanation—he could already imagine the sort of creatures that could be responsible for such things, could all too easily picture their hellishly glowing eyes, their massive teeth…

Nonetheless, he tried to brace himself as well as he could for what he might have to face beyond those doors. You’re doing this for Esaax, he reminded himself.

The arbok studied the doors for a moment. “I think I can help you get in,” he said. He motioned Ntairow out of the way with a jerk of his head, then spat a dark spray of full-strength acid at the metal doors. The attack caused them to soften and deform slightly and give off harsh, stinking fumes, but the poison-type technique failed to burn all the way through.

“I’m sorry,” Syr said, backing away from the doors once more. “It normally eats right through…”

“You’ve actually weakened it well,” Ntairow said. “I could certainly tear it open now if it weren’t for what the lingering acid would do to my hands in the process.”

“The acid won’t bother me.” That was all the warning that Karo gave before plowing into the doors. His large nose punched right through the softened metal, and the rest of him followed.

The others entered after him, careful to avoid the sharp, torn, acid-coated edges of their makeshift entrance. Once they were all in, Ntairow managed an impressed smile at Syr and Karo. “Great job, both of you,” she said. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” Syr and Karo said, almost in unison.

As the three of them entered the building, Karo turned back briefly to look at the hole that he and his nose had just created. “Wow, that’s even bigger than the last one,” he remarked. “Awesome.”

* * *​

Purposefully, Moriel made her way through the corridors of the Hope Institute. The glalie kept a mindfully quick pace as she moved; she had a fairly important task to carry out.

Their employer apparently wasn’t quite the good guy that he’d made himself out to be. Solonn had told Moriel, as well as the rest of the glalie and the claydol and steelix among them, that DeLeo had tricked one of his clients into evolving, which was against the law in Convergence. As such, someone needed to go and alert the authorities, as well as contact the staff at the Haven so they could come to the victim’s aid.

Moriel had readily volunteered to take care of this matter. Having once been in league with their enemies, she still wasn’t entirely certain that she’d gained the full trust of the other glalie she now associated with, even after she’d fought alongside them. Any help she could provide for any of them was an opportunity she gladly seized.

As she navigated the winding halls of the building, she felt grateful that she’d been working there as long as she had. The Hope Institute’s internal layout could be a bit confusing for newcomers, but by that point, Moriel had memorized it fairly well. It also helped that the building was closed at the moment; it was easier to focus on where she was supposed to be going since it was largely empty.

Then she rounded a corner into a rather large room and found that the Hope Institute wasn’t as empty as she’d thought it was.

Moriel had stumbled upon Ntairow, Karo, and Syr. The former two looked upon her with largely unreadable expressions, but the arbok looked distinctly and increasingly afraid, his mouth hanging open and his eyes wide.

“Whoa, hey!” Moriel exclaimed. “Who are you, and wh—”

She was cut off as first a terrified shout and then a spray of acid escaped the arbok in a moment’s panic. Moriel shrieked in pain as the burning fluid struck her face, and she retaliated immediately and automatically: in an instant, the room was filled with a small army of illusory glalie, and at the same time, three loud cracks rang out in rapid succession.

All three of the sheer cold strikes hit their targets, but only Syr was affected. As he dropped to the floor, unconscious, the swarm of glalie began rushing around in circles around Ntairow and Syr—independently, at varying speeds, with some moving clockwise and others moving counterclockwise.

Then Moriel and her illusory copies all turned toward their targets just long enough to fire ice beams in unison, sending jagged, bright blue bolts of ice-type energy flying in a crisscrossing web around Ntairow, Karo, and the insensible arbok at their feet. Most of them passed inconsequentially through or around the nosepass and the kwazai, but one of them—the real one—struck Karo on the left side of the head, causing him to curse and stagger a bit.

A pale bluish-purple light filled Ntairow’s eyes as she tapped into her psywave technique. The branches of her tail were already fanned out and moving around independently, their oculons trying to pick out the telltales that would distinguish the real, living glalie from the nonliving copies, but something about the glalie was confounding her psychic senses. Unable to pick out her target directly, Ntairow instead spun on one foot, firing a quick volley of psywaves in a circle around her—but succeeding only in causing three illusory glalie to vanish before a protect aura went up around the remaining copies and their maker, foiling the rest of her attacks.

The swarm fired another web of ice beams, hitting Karo once again—Ntairow scowled, wishing she’d been able to tell where the real ice beam had come from so she could have dived in front of it. Using the glalie’s attacks to fuel mirror coat responses—and ultimately to fuel a devastating anguish attack once the kwazai had taken enough of them—seemed like the best hope for taking her out at this point. Psywaves were much slower, much easier to avoid than the instantaneous reactions that her retaliatory attacks were, and for all the help that Karo was providing in the fight, he might as well have been in the same state as Syr.

“Why aren’t you doing anything?” Ntairow demanded of the nosepass.

“I’m trying!” Karo insisted, and he was indeed trying. The trouble was that he had a very limited selection of techniques to use against their adversary, the consequence of his trainer having decided to limit the number of attacks he could learn to a mere four out of a belief that it’d make Karo hone those four to a greater potency and learn to use them more creatively.

Karo might not have minded this so much at the moment if one of the moves he’d been left with had been a nice rock-type attack, preferably one that would simply drop rocks on all of the glalie at once and thus weaken the real one enough to put an end to her double team illusions. His zap cannon was terribly difficult to aim and terribly easy to dodge, and being unable to pick out his actual target in the first place meant he couldn’t use lock-on to overcome those drawbacks.

The only hope he could see lay in his remaining two techniques, one of which he was trying to use not on the glalie but rather on Ntairow, Syr, and himself. Specifically, he was trying to impose a block field around the three of them. Blocking more than one target at the same time was never easy, and the current circumstances weren’t helping matters.

But then he saw Ntairow go completely rigid with a look of alarm, halted right in the middle of unleashing another series of psywaves. Satisfied as he could be that the field was secure around its targets, Karo focused on intensifying it so that it would not only prevent anything from breaking out of it but also prevent anything from breaking in.

A third ice beam came Karo’s way—only to dissipate harmlessly against the force field he’d summoned. Karo felt a spark of pride ignite within him—he’d succeeded. With a faint sense of relief, he let the block field withdraw from him, leaving it clinging to Ntairow and Syr as he unleashed the last of his four techniques.

All at once, the space was filled with blazing light and thunderous noise.
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I’ve been meaning to read this story for a while, and glad you decided to repost it! I only read the first six chapters at the moment, but here are some of my quick thoughts!

Chapters One - Six

“He’s in the shade, Esaax. It’s his car; he drives it, and he gets to decide where to park it.”

A snorunt driving a car. No, nothing weird about that image… Esaax decided to turn away from the topic of Jen and back to his gluttony.

Okay, this imagery is very funny.

I like Esaax and Syr’s little battle there. I do feel bad for Syr being hesitant to attack his friend. Also the mention of bite being super effective against psychic is amusing.

Esaax's backstory is very neat. What's even more interesting is how this is the same Pokemon in the anime (used to love that guy a lot, haha). Very sad though Jessie's death caused him that much grief. That sleep plague sounds pretty bad considering it caused human extinction.

The mention of Esaax "passing" the test at the end is fairly interesting. I would think it's obvious someone very hurt of painful memories is healthy, but I guess that can be a case by case basis.

Still amused by a driving snorunt haha. Interesting Jen doesn't want to evolve. Esaax and Faurur's romance is also pretty fascinating (that's a pairing I didn't think of). Sad about their child in flames. D:

I like the little detail concerning poison types not able to handle teleport that well and it makes sense. Esaax and Faurur's reunion is bittersweet, pretty sad she had to go too. Not surprising Esaax took it real hard on his loss, feeling really sorry for him now.

“I’m sorry, but this is the youth assembly,” the glalie answered. “You’ll want our adult group.”

Esaax took another look around and finally recognized that the audience was indeed comprised entirely of children and adolescents. He looked to Jen, but the snorunt made no move to contradict the glalie.

With a nod and a vaguely affirmative noise, Esaax agreed to follow the glalie to this “adult group”. But just as they were about to leave, the glalie hesitated and turned back around. He was staring again, but only at Jen this time, and the glalie looked distinctly conflicted as he did so.

Reading this part makes me wonder if this has to do with Jen not wanting to evolve. Wouldn't be surprised if that's the case. Also, you made me more curious over Hope.

I’m enjoying the story a lot so far! I should be able to read and comment on further chapters soon, so keep an eye for them!

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Bay: Hi! :D Glad you're enjoying the humor, and that the sad bits are hitting their mark.

And yeah, extinction-level events tend to suck hardcore, both for those afflicted and, in another way, for those who survive. And if everyone simply falling asleep and never waking sounds like a nice, peaceful way for humanity to bite the dust, well...

1.) There was no shortage of people driving, piloting planes, and operating other heavy machinery when it started happening, and

2.) it didn't knock every human being out at the exact same moment.

:) :) :)

Thanks lots for the read 'n' reply!

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Chapter 16 – Balance

Syr awoke to a very different scene. From where he was lying, he now had a sideways view of shattered floor tiles illuminated by scattered moonlight, as well as of an irregular hole in the wall through which Ntairow was leaning partway.

There was also a sound in the air that hadn’t been there before: a very faint moaning in an unfamiliar voice. Puzzled, Syr pulled himself up from the floor. A bit of a daze still lingered in the wake of his unconsciousness, making it hard at the moment to guess whom the voice belonged to.

He made his way over to Ntairow to see if she had any clue what its source was. The sound grew louder as he approached her, though not by much. Once he was by her side, he found out exactly whom he was hearing, and the answer snapped him back to full awareness in an instant.

Just on the other side of the ruined wall lay a glalie; Syr could only assume this was the same one who’d knocked him out. Even in her current state—her right horn missing its tip, her ice armor broken off in places, and a small pool of nearly colorless blood at her side that was already turning to pale mist—her presence made him distinctly uncomfortable. His breaths began escaping in worried hisses, and he automatically began moving back away from the broken wall.

Syr shifted his gaze to Ntairow and held it there, the glalie now entirely out of his sight. In the corner of his vision, he noticed a bluish-purple light glowing briefly through the hole in the wall. When it subsided, so did the moaning.

The arbok moved ever so slightly closer to Ntairow as she ducked back out of the hole in the wall. “Did you…?”

“She’s alive,” Ntairow said, which didn’t answer the question Syr had actually had in mind. “But she won’t be giving us any trouble again anytime soon,” she then said, which did. “You have nothing to fear from her now. Although I have to say that you undoubtedly scared her every bit as much as she scared you.”

“Yeah, well…” Syr began irritably, doubting Ntairow’s claim. Then he noticed the gray-and-orange shape lying several feet away from Ntairow, back in the direction they’d come from. “Karo!” he cried. He rushed over to him, ignoring the way the broken floor and scattered debris scraped and dug into his belly—but he stopped in his tracks when he got close enough to see just what sort of condition his friend was in.

He was looking at roughly half of a nosepass.

“Oh God…” Syr whispered.

“It’s all right,” Ntairow assured him. “He’s still alive, and he’s already begun to repair himself.”

Syr just stared for a moment at what was left of Karo, his horror giving way to a strange sort of awe. “He wasn’t kidding…” he said, more to himself than anyone else. Karo had once bragged to Syr that nosepass lived indefinitely if no one or nothing else could kill them, and that killing them wasn’t easy. The nosepass had said that even if he were smashed to pieces, he’d just regenerate. Syr had always just figured that Karo must’ve been exaggerating.

“He said it’s a very slow process, though. Regenerating, I mean,” Syr said, then sighed. “He needs to go to the Haven. They can speed up his repairs with their revives and potions. Otherwise… God, from the look of him, he probably won’t see the next hundred years. At least.”

“He’s perfectly stable for the time being,” Ntairow told him. “The same can’t be said for Esaax.” And with that, she turned away from the broken wall and the glalie beyond it and set off in search of Esaax once more.

Syr didn’t start following her right away. Leaving the glalie behind struck him as a very good idea, but leaving Karo behind didn’t, no matter how indestructible the nosepass claimed he was. Syr took a moment to wrap his tail securely around Karo, then proceeded onward after Ntairow. This time he noticed and dodged every bit of debris in his path, trying not to think too hard about where some of it had come from.

His efforts were in vain, however, foiled by two things in particular. One, he was literally carrying Karo’s weight, aware that there was less of it than there should be. Two, he still wasn’t entirely certain what had left Karo in such a state in the first place. “What did this to him, anyway?” he asked.

A couple of Ntairow’s tail branches curled toward Syr. She stopped and turned around, then sighed and closed the distance between her and the arbok; dragging Karo along had prevented Syr from catching up to her.

“He used an explosion,” Ntairow answered him as she went over to take hold of Karo. She saw a look of astonishment on Syr’s face—the arbok had craned his neck to watch what she’d been doing—and gave him a nod that silently said, It’s true, as well as a forward wave of one hand that silently said, Now let’s move along, please.

Syr followed her unspoken directions, slithering somewhat faster now that Ntairow was helping him carry the unconscious nosepass, still in disbelief at what he’d just been told. “God… what possessed him to resort to that?” he asked as they left the room for the corridor beyond.

“That glalie seemed to have a particular talent for using double team,” Ntairow said. “There were just too many copies, and they were indistinguishable from their maker. He decided to just take them all out at once, I suppose.” She smiled very faintly. “I do have to commend him for managing to do that—or to come close, anyway—without taking us out, as well. I’m still not completely sure how he did it.”

“I’m not sure either, but wow…” Syr said. I have got to make this up to him someday, he thought.

Meanwhile, something else Ntairow had said was striking him as a little odd. “…You said you couldn’t tell the real one from the copies, right?” he asked her.

“Yes, that’s right. I think her dark subtype may have been overdeveloped; it was deflecting my psychic perception.”

“Oh,” Syr said at first. Then, “Wait, what do you mean, ‘subtype’?”

“An elemental factor that’s strong enough to have an effect on its owner but not strong enough to figure into their actual type. All pokémon have—”

She fell abruptly silent, and Syr didn’t wonder why—he could see the reason for himself. It was another glalie encounter, but this time there were four of them, all of whom looked at least somewhat alarmed. On top of that, Solonn was one of those four; Syr immediately wished he’d been able to go through life without learning that glalie could get that large. There was also a claydol in the glalie’s midst, to whom Syr gave almost no real attention despite the creature’s typing; the arbok was aware of almost nothing beyond the glowing blue eyes that were quickly approaching and the frantic pounding of his own heart.

Distantly, he felt the weight he was helping to carry sink to the ground, then saw Ntairow move into his peripheral vision. “Stay put,” she hissed as she swiftly made her way around to stand beside him, “and try to stay calm. Please.”

Syr gave neither a word nor a motion in response. Her words had managed to get through to him over his urges to attack or flee or do something, but while he was managing to keep stock still for the time being, he was sure he could break at any moment.

“What are you people doing here?” one of the glalie demanded as he and the rest of his group came to a stop a few feet away from Ntairow, Syr, and Karo. He shifted slightly to look past Syr, his eyes finding the partially-destroyed nosepass still held in Syr’s coils. “Actually, never mind that. I think we’ve already got our answer,” he said, nodding toward the unconscious rock-type.

“You were responsible for that explosion?” Solonn asked Ntairow and Syr.

“Yes,” Ntairow began to answer evenly, at which Syr immediately threw her a sanity-questioning look, “but we hadn’t intended to. It was all just a misunderstanding. We ran into one of your people unexpectedly; he—” She gestured toward Syr. “—attacked her out of panic; and things just sort of escalated, unfortunately. Don’t worry—she’s still alive, although she does need to get some medical attention soon.”

The glalie who’d spoken first swore at this, and all of the glowing blue eyes that regarded the intruders widened. “Where is she?” he demanded.

Ntairow pointed back toward the room behind her. Two of the glalie rushed off in that direction at once, as did the claydol. “You will need to come along with us,” said one of the remaining glalie, at which Ntairow nodded and gave Syr a nudge, then went back to help carry Karo once more.

Syr felt a tug on the end of his tail, a signal from Ntairow that he needed to get moving. He was anything but enthusiastic about spending more time in the company of that many glalie, but the notion of offending them further by disobeying them scared him even more. Still, it was with considerable reluctance that he turned around and headed back to the site of the explosion; his body tried to fight him the entire way there.

As he and Ntairow carried Karo into the room, with two of the glalie following them, the two who’d gone in ahead of them turned to regard them from the spot by the broken wall where they and the claydol hovered. One of them stayed there with Moriel, while Solonn and the claydol approached the intruders. One of the glalie who’d just come in moved forward past Solonn and the claydol, pausing very briefly to assess Moriel’s condition before heading off toward an exit.

“Why did you come here?” Solonn asked of Ntairow and Syr, his tone heavy.

“Because someone here desperately needs help,” Ntairow said. “I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but there’s a pokémon here who’s been forced to evolve. He’s elementally unstable—he needs a psychic-type of his own kind to serve as a vessel for his excess darkness. Please… you’ve got to give me a chance to try and balance him out. He won’t survive otherwise.”

“Do you mean Esaax?” Solonn asked her.

“Yes, I do. You’ve got to let me see him,” Ntairow said urgently.

“She could still be lying,” the glalie over by the broken wall pointed out.

Solonn sent him a brief glance, then sighed and turned his gaze back toward Ntairow. “Would you consent to a psychic scan in order to prove that you’re telling the truth?”

Ntairow didn’t quite bother to keep herself from scowling. “Will it be quick?”

<Yes,> the claydol assured her, speaking telepathically while what Syr could only assume was their actual voice rattled on incomprehensibly, <and it will be painless.>

“Fine, then,” Ntairow said.

Without hesitation, the claydol moved to hover right in front of her, lowered their head, and closed all but the foremost of their eyes. Soon afterward, <She is completely truthful in her claims,> the claydol confirmed.

“All right, then,” Solonn said quietly. “If you’ll follow me, I’ll take you to where Esaax is being kept.” He made his way back toward the hallway that Ntairow, Syr, and Karo had tried to pass through before. “I hope for his sake that you succeed in saving him,” he said as first Ntairow and Syr—carrying Karo once more—followed him out of the room and then one of the other glalie did likewise. “He’s already been through enough that he didn’t deserve.”

“I hope I succeed, too,” Ntairow said quietly. Syr, still too uncomfortable in the presence of the glalie to speak, only nodded in agreement.

* * *​

Not very far away from his would-be savior, Esaax stirred in his containment field, his eyes widening. Two words, nearly voiceless, escaped on a breath exhaled as if he’d been holding it all his life.

She’s here…”
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Going to comment on Chapters Seven through Twelve now!

Chapters Seven- Twelve

Ah, so there is indeed one human as you vaguely mention in your reply to me. Part of me wants to know a bit more of DeLeo’s ability to speak with Pokemon. The mention of the serum haven’t been tested has me worried, however and Esaax being sick shortly after got me even more suspicious.

I remember the mention of Ntairow back in Chapter Three, so it’s nice to have a quick glimpse of how she’s doing. Not too surprising she and Esaax would have a son as you mentioned the two were intimate before, although the ritual taking place is another cool detail there. And I think I have an idea what Ntairow is experiencing there…

Esaax’s “evolution” sounds like an intense experience for him there. The change in his behavior is an even more drastic change. The part where he killed Madeleine…oh wow.

The part where Syr tried to wake up Karo was amusing. Poor Syr being paralyzed, haha (Zap Cannons from Nosepass/Probopass I think it makes sense a Nosepass would live over 6,000 years or more, considering they’re rocks and all.

So Ntairow is a kwazai also, huh? I originally thought she was a wobbuffet, but it’s probably my fault for missing that detail. Also the mention of male and female being different reminds me of Meowstic, though I believe you did this story before X/Y heh. The part where Ntairow mentions sharing his sensations/emotions I figured that happened from her last appearance.

The scene where Esaax ate the Hoothoot in front of the Noctowl’s eyes and then him right after...oh dear. D:

Syr didn’t attempt to get anything more out of her for the time being, not on that subject or any other. He had a lot on his mind now, even more than before… and among those thoughts was something that had made its way back toward the forefront of his mind as someone who had so recently departed his life once and for all had been brought up more than once in the conversation that he’d just had.

He felt fresh pangs of grief as his mind lingered on the subject of Faurur, and he tried but failed to hold back a fresh surge of tears as well as the sobs that accompanied them. Ntairow cast a concerned, sympathetic-looking glance over her shoulder at this but said nothing.

Feel sorry for Syr there. :<

“Hey, what’s that?”

“Huh, I can’t tell what he is…”

“Who cares what he is? He doesn’t belong here!”

The owners of the three voices came forward to reveal themselves as three smeargle—needlessly in this case, as Esaax had already seen them through the darkness. The one whom Esaax had heard last spoke again, introducing himself and his companions.

Here we get to meet those smeargle, haha. The way Travis died later on is another crazy moment, however. Can’t help but think there’s always some kind of violence whenever Esaax appears.

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Bay: Hi again!

Yeah this story is like ninetysometing percent pre-XY. I think about the only bit of 6th-gen compliance I really made any effort to put in was to account for the fact that one of the characters had become half fairy-type. Not that it helped her to speak of. Too bad she never got a hold of a dazzling gleam disc. :B

Fwiw, Ntairow actually was a wobbuffet... past-tense, and then evolved at some point. Now she has enough arms to become one hell of a drummer if she wanted to. (Has anyone ever written a machamp as a drummer before? Seems like a spiffy idea.) I don't remember exactly why I gave kwazai four arms. I guess I just liked the way that looked.

On a somewhat related note: I probably mentioned this at some point or another somewhere, but the reason why I went the nidoran route with the kwazai in the first place was because I had two different ideas for a wobbuffet evo and I couldn't decide between them.

Okay tonight I've learned that when I watch a bunch of creator's commentary vids I get in something like the same mode myself, heh. So I'll save some trivia for another time, thank you kindly for reviewing, and be on my merry way. :>


Active Member
I haven't commented yet, but I figure now is as good a time as any. It's probably a better time than any, because 'any' is undefined. But anyways. I must say that I am really liking this - I don't often read fics that feature Pokemon more than humans (though it would be more accurate to say I don't read very many Pokemon fics) - and I find the world you've constructed to be very good. I am quite intrigued by the kwazai - it fits very well into the Pokemon world, it doesn't really stand out much, which is quite good seeing as it's fanmade. Very well done, sir. I look forward to future chapters.

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Terry93D: Hey there. Glad to hear it about the fakemon--especially since lbr, if there's a pokémon that most certainly does NOT need a canon evo, it's wobbuffet. That's actually part of what gave me the idea for this story: "what if something evolved that really shouldn't?"

Thanks for reading! :>

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Chapter 17 – Lifeforce

It was like resurrection.

His spirit rose up from the depths of the nothingness that had been occupying him. His voice rose, as well, in a crescendo that kept growing with each repetition of the truth that had brought him back to his senses:

“She’s here! She’s here!”

She was here. Even after all these years, to his great surprise and even greater delight, she still remembered him… and, he hoped, still loved him. And at long last, she was back in his life. Any moment now, she might enter the room where he was being held, rescue him, and take him back into her embrace…

You fool.

The hollow voice droned from deep within his mind. Its strength and the way that it addressed Esaax so directly, completely unbidden, made its true nature horribly clear to Esaax. The cold and empty voice that had just spoken to him represented none other than the warped and malignant darkness residing within him. That darkness was no longer merely a part of him—they’d become a separate entity lurking within him, a parasite trying to take his life for their own.

Your senses lie. Your joy is an illusion.

That’s not true! Esaax argued internally. He felt and recognized the distinct psychic signature of Ntairow’s presence and couldn’t deny that he did. What that signature represented had changed, but who it signified was unmistakable.

You delude yourself. You will not have her.

You’re wrong! Esaax said, silently and firmly. She’s here for me—

—But she will not stay. She abandoned you before and will only abandon you again. Forget her.

“No!” Esaax shouted, speaking aloud now. “She’ll be here soon, and we will be together forever. She’s gonna save me!”

No one will save you. Nothing is left for you. Forget her. Forget yourself.

No! You’re wrong!” Esaax shouted, trying to defy and destroy the darkness through sheer force of will.

But the living darkness wouldn’t be denied. They literally rose to the surface, manifesting in thin streaks of black energy that snaked over his skin like dark vines. The streaks crept out over his entire body and then merged together, leaving every square inch of his skin emitting the black glow of the parasitic darkness.

I am this body now, not you, they said. Your time is long past over. Give up.

“No, I refuse to!”

The darkness erupted into a seething, black aura around Esaax. Give up, they pressed.


As the kwazai’s defiant roar faded, the darkness found themself possessed of a cold, absolute hatred, a feeling stronger than anything they’d felt in their hours-long existence. In the face of what seemed like real hope for salvation, Esaax had become too strong to simply erase—this wouldn’t do, the darkness determined with a vicious resolve.

There will be no hope, no strength, no life for you, they declared hatefully. I will make you accept this. I will make you pray for oblivion!

The darkness unleashed a massive, hollow roar within Esaax’s head. They seemed to retreat back into the corners of his mind, the dark aura vanishing and revealing his blue skin once more—but then the darkness sent a bolt of their power shooting down Esaax’s spine. There was a burst of pain in the end of his tail, temporarily distorting the perception of his oculons.

A split-second later, there was a bright, orange flash that shocked Esaax out of breath and onto his knees.

* * *​

As Syr slithered along behind Solonn, trying very hard but with little success not to think about just what he was following, he felt something pull sharply on his tail and heard a loud thud. He looked back and saw that Ntairow had dropped Karo and gone totally rigid.

“What is it?” Syr asked.

“Esaax,” Ntairow said, pain and fear both present in her tone. “He’s returned to my perception—and he’s in pain…”

What? How bad is it?” Syr demanded worriedly.

“It’s horrible… Dear Night, it’s like his own body is rejecting him…”

“We’re almost there,” Solonn tried to assure her from where he now hovered in place, but his tone and the look on his face suggested that he’d become fairly worried himself.

His assurance was unnecessary, however—no sooner had he spoken than Ntairow rushed out in front of him, staggering slightly and clutching her head in pain but still managing to move fairly quickly, using her fully restored perception of Esaax to guide her.

Now that Ntairow was no longer helping him carry Karo, Syr couldn’t hope to keep up with her. Still, he tried, not wanting at all to be left behind with the glalie—but before he could move an inch, he felt something lift the nosepass in his grip off the ground. He looked back and saw Karo rising on a pillar of ice, which then deposited him on top of a glalie’s head, with the end of Syr’s tail still wrapped around the unconscious nosepass.

With most of his body now off the ground, Syr was forced to either try to convince the glalie to put Karo back down or else release his own hold on him. The former hardly felt like an option, however; the glalie simply intimidated him too much for him to challenge what she’d done… and besides which, underneath it all, he did recognize that she was sincerely trying to help. As much as he would have preferred not to need the help of any of her kind, he fell short of ingratitude.

“…Thanks,” he managed, his voice coming out as little more than a squeak.

“No problem,” the glalie said, securing the nosepass to her head with ice as she spoke, and then she took off after Solonn and Ntairow. Syr hastened to follow her, still not altogether comfortable with the notion of leaving Karo unsupervised with one of them and spurred on further still by the sound of Ntairow screaming.

Soon, they caught up with Ntairow and Solonn, who’d just halted before a large pair of metal doors, the former leaning against the latter. Ntairow was silent now but grimacing in pain, one hand still holding her head.

Once everyone had come to a stop there, “This is Sylvester DeLeo, requesting entry,” Solonn said, at which Syr’s eyes widened in surprise—not because of what the glalie had said but how he’d said it. He’d sounded nothing like he had before; the voice he’d just used was quite a bit higher. But what really caught Syr’s attention was that Solonn had just spoken in a human language—some corner of his mind fleetingly wondered if Solonn was just mimicking the words or if, like someone whom Syr had known so many years ago, this glalie actually spoke the language fluently.

“Voice recognition confirmed,” said a computerized voice from an unseen source. “Please state password.”

“Password,” Solonn responded, still using the higher voice and the human language.

“Password valid,” said the computerized voice. “Access granted.”

The doors slid open, and with the unconscious nosepass in tow, the four entered a moderately-sized room that was more brightly lit than the rest of the Hope Institute. The scene now surrounding them was like a gallery of pre- and post-Extinction high technology.

And in the center of it all was Esaax, slumped in his containment field. He was all too plainly suffering, panting and groaning with his tail lashing and his hands gripping his head.

Ntairow rushed to him at once, pressing all four of her hands against the wall of energy as tears streamed from her widened eyes. The need to help this creature whose agony she shared burned within her, made all the more urgent and painful by the fact that this was the suffering of someone she loved. Right before her eyes, not to mention her more potent senses, Esaax was careening toward a highly volatile state. He direly needed her… but she couldn’t get to him.

“How do you get him out of this thing?” she demanded.

“Over here!” Solonn called, and he led Ntairow over to a control panel.

“I don’t know how to use this!” Ntairow told him.

“It’s all right; I do. Just do exactly as I tell you, and we’ll have him right out in no time,” Solonn said.

Syr very briefly watched Ntairow and Solonn work, hoping they would indeed free Esaax as quickly as Solonn had claimed. He then looked back at Esaax with some difficulty, swallowing against a lump in his throat. “You’re… you’re going to be all right,” he told Esaax as consolingly as he could manage, moving closer to the kwazai as he spoke.

Esaax shook his head and raised a hand as if in warning, at which Syr halted. The kwazai’s jaws parted as though he were about to say something, but his voice was cut off before he could form a single word when a burst of searing, orange light suddenly blazed into being around him. He then cried out yet again as a enormous spasm tore through his body.

At that same instant, Ntairow convulsed likewise, echoing Esaax’s scream in her empathy. She staggered, and Solonn moved quickly to break her fall.

“Dear Holy Night, he’s tearing himself apart!” Ntairow cried.

“You’re almost finished!” Solonn assured her.

Sure enough, the containment field soon vanished with a faint humming sound. Ntairow ran back to Esaax, dropping into something like a kneeling position and throwing all of her arms around him, crying against his chest as she embraced the newly-freed kwazai tightly.

Esaax lowered his forehead against hers and held it there as steadily as he could given that he was now shaking uncontrollably, his own tears sliding swiftly down his muzzle and falling to the floor. “Ntairow…” he said, his voice hoarse and quavering. “I’m—” He broke off briefly, giving another pained groan, at which Ntairow embraced him even tighter. “I’m glad you’re here. I’d… given up on us ever finding each other again,” he admitted, closing his eyes in shame.

“I should’ve found you sooner…” Ntairow lamented in a pained voice, nearly whispering. “Dear Night, look at you… you’re so broken…” Esaax had gone into autoempathic crisis. That was something she couldn’t repair—it was something no one could repair until he was elementally stabilized. He just had so terribly little time…

“I don’t think you can fix me now,” Esaax said quietly. “I’m… I’m not gonna make it.”

“No,” Ntairow said fiercely, resolutely. “You will survive this… and your son will finally get to know the father he’s been missing all these years.”

Esaax just stared at Ntairow for a moment, his eyes filled with disbelief and wonder. Then a smile spread along his muzzle in spite of his pain. “…You’re serious?”

Ntairow nodded. “He is called Zerzekai. And unless I’m mistaken, he’s just begun his life as a wobbuffet,” she informed Esaax proudly.

Esaax managed a faint but joyous laugh, then wrapped his arms around Ntairow, squeezing her as hard as his rapidly-waning strength would allow.

Though Esaax’s body was growing steadily weaker, his spirit seemed to have grown much stronger. Ntairow knew that made this an especially good time to try and help him shed his excess darkness. Concentrating deeply, she tapped into her psychic element, aggravating and intensifying its susceptibility to psybane in the hopes of drawing the darkness in like a gravitational force.

She immediately found that something wasn’t right. Esaax had a massive surplus of dark energy, one that seemed to be growing by the second, but the excess of elemental power wasn’t responding correctly. Instead of spilling over into the receptive psychic who’d opened her element so readily, the darkness remained stubbornly in place, continuing to build up inside of Esaax.

Then the darkness chose to respond in their own way.

With no warning, a black aura flared around Esaax. In virtually the same instant, under the control of the darkness, Esaax roared in a voice as vast and hollow as the depths of space and fired a reflux attack at Ntairow. Her aura immediately flashed bright pink in an involuntary and futile mirror coat response as she collapsed, scattered black patches forming on her skin as she hit the ground.

The recoil from the reflux blast was enormous and instantaneous, and as it struck Esaax, he was simultaneously assaulted from within by a massive autoempathic shock. The dark aura that surrounded him then suddenly tore free and took to the air with a hollow-sounding howl, revealing an erratically-flashing, orange counter aura around the now screaming kwazai they’d left behind.

An ice beam and a volley of poison sting needles were launched in an attempt to arrest the shadow’s flight, while the sharp sound of a sheer cold attack fired off with the same intent rang out at the same time. The disembodied darkness evaded all of the attacks effortlessly as they rushed swiftly through the air, destroying equipment and killing the lights as they swept in a circle around the room. They finally smashed into the wall and burned a hole through it and the walls beyond to the outside, where they seemed to dissipate and vanish completely.

With the shroud of living darkness lifted from him, Esaax was left as a regular, ruined kwazai. A final few sparks of orange energy flashed around him, and then the autoempathic attack ceased. Esaax then toppled over onto his side, panting arrhythmically, blood flowing freely from his eyes and mouth.

As if in slow motion, Syr was only just beginning to feel the tears escaping his eyes as he stared at the two kwazai before him. “…Esaax?” he spoke up tentatively, his voice barely coming to his summons. He heard Solonn say something in the background about checking to see if the paramedics had arrived yet, but the words didn’t quite register in Syr’s brain as they might have otherwise. All he could really focus on was the sight of Esaax before him, who gave not a single word in response. “Esaax!” Syr cried out, fearing the worst.

There was a slight movement before Syr’s eyes. Esaax raised his head, albeit just barely. Syr called out to him again, but Esaax seemed not to notice, and the arbok quickly realized why.

Esaax had found Ntairow, and he gave a very faint, pained sound at the sight of her. With an immense effort, he rolled onto his belly and pulled himself up to lie beside her. As he lifted a shaking hand and extended it toward her, he prayed that he had enough lifeforce for what he intended to do.

Esaax laid his hand upon Ntairow’s greater right arm, upon a patch of skin that hadn’t been scorched by the dark attack. A soft, multicolored glow surrounded him, then spread from the point where his hand rested upon her until it radiated from every square inch of her skin, as well.

Syr stared at him with fear, his breath hitching in his chest. He felt a strong urge to rush over to Esaax and stop him—if Esaax succeeded in what he was doing, he’d be giving up some of his lifeforce, and Syr was all too sure that the kwazai had terribly little to spare.

Before Syr could even begin to act on that urge, the light surrounding the two kwazai suddenly grew to such an intensity that he recoiled from it involuntarily, his eyes shutting tight. Unseen by any in attendance, the shared aura swelled into a small, bright dome around Esaax and Ntairow as the lifeforce of the former flowed into the latter. The aura then burst into a cloud of tiny, colorful sparks, which fell in a brief, luminous shower over the two kwazai.

As the last sparks fell, Esaax looked down upon Ntairow, who was now fully restored. He smiled gently and kissed her forehead. Then he lay down next to her and quietly exhaled his last breath.

Ntairow drew a sudden, sharp breath, awake in an instant. She sat up abruptly, then immediately rolled over onto her hands and folded legs, her shoulders heaving as she coughed and sputtered uncontrollably.

Once her body relaxed, she began looking about frantically in confusion. Her eyes fell upon Esaax, who was surrounded now by no colors other than the deep blue of his own shed blood. She instantly recognized what had just happened.

Her cry of sorrow rang out for a very, very long moment.

Meanwhile, Syr could only stare at the scene before him at first. He began to slowly approach the two kwazai as Ntairow’s cry faded out, still dragging Karo behind him. He finally reached them, and for a moment he just looked down at Esaax through blurred vision. Then he looked at Ntairow and saw her burying her face in two of her hands while the other two cradled Esaax’s head, her whole body shaking as she wept.

Without really thinking, Syr released his hold on Karo and draped the end of his tail across Ntairow’s shoulders. She turned to face him, and at first she looked as though she wanted to tell him to go away… but then that expression faded, and she only looked weary and broken. Her head sank, and she extended an arm to embrace Syr, and as the minutes passed, the two of them mourned Esaax without a single word.

* * *​

From the bus, Syr watched street sign after street sign go by, the distance between him and the cemetery closing fast. As many times as he’d gone there since the burial, it still felt strange, far from routine.

Doing nothing at all to help things seem less surreal was what he’d learned about one of the ones responsible for Esaax’s evolution, specifically Sylvester DeLeo. DeLeo was currently being tried for his crimes against the former wobbuffet alone; both the one he’d claimed to have worked with toward bringing about Esaax’s evolution and the strange, dark entity that had detached themself from Esaax had yet to be found—though Syr did have theories as to what had become of them. And if he was right, neither would be a threat to anyone any longer.

DeLeo’s fate had yet to be decided, and under different circumstances, Syr would’ve simply hoped for him to be locked away for a good long while. But after he’d seen the footage of that mechanized human disguise opening up and recognized the meowth within it… Between the genuine pity he’d felt for DeLeo upon learning why he’d made Esaax evolve and the sickening, heartbreaking recognition that DeLeo had betrayed some of the meowth’s best friends, Syr hadn’t been altogether sure what he wanted to befall DeLeo, and still wasn’t. All Syr knew for certain regarding that whole matter was that he might never be able to bring himself to speak to that meowth again.

There was, at least, one of his friends who’d taken a turn for the better in recent times. Karo had recovered swiftly in the wake of his explosion, having been given ample encouragement to heal by the staff at the Haven. Syr had also been informed that the glalie who’d been injured as the result of Karo’s attack had survived and made a full recovery.

Syr had tried for the most part to focus on the things that were going well. More than ever, he felt an obligation to show strength for Jen’s sake, especially with the Hope Institute still closed and the fact that Jen hadn’t reacted well to the news of what DeLeo had done there.

Still, Syr neither could nor truly wanted to pretend the recent sorrows away, even though he couldn’t always give audience to those matters without letting it show. He continued to visit the graves of his fallen friends even though he still tended to return to the bus visibly upset.

The bus arrived its destination, and Syr made his way out. In silence, the arbok went down the street a short distance, crossed the graveyard, and soon reached the place where Esaax had been laid to rest.

Syr coiled there, drawing a deep breath as he looked down upon the plaque before him. There were three names engraved there in unown-script; in addition to marking Esaax’s grave, the plaque also memorialized Faurur and Drasigon, at Syr’s request. This way, he’d reckoned, the family could be together again in this way, at least, if no other.

Not long after he’d arrived at the grave site, he noticed footsteps approaching. Turning toward their source, he found a kwazai standing a short distance away—Ntairow, he recognized a beat later—with an unfamiliar wobbuffet at her side.

Ntairow and the wobbuffet had stopped in their tracks the moment Syr had looked up at them, and the former now looked as though she’d decided to leave and come back another time, laying a hand upon the wobbuffet’s shoulder as if to shepherd him off and beginning to turn away herself.

“No, it’s all right,” Syr called out to them. “You don’t have to go… Come on over if you’d like.”

The other two pokémon hesitated to take him up on his offer, but only very briefly. Soon, they were both standing at the arbok’s side. Syr moved aside a bit in order to give them a better view of the grave. Almost as soon as he did, Ntairow knelt down before it, then extended and opened a hand over it, allowing a small, gray stone to fall onto the grass before her. As Ntairow stood once more, the wobbuffet placed a stone upon the grave, as well.

So that’s where they’ve been coming from, Syr thought, having found similar gray rocks lying upon the grave on some of his previous visits. He’d considered clearing them away on a couple of those occasions and was now glad that he hadn’t.

Syr was curious about the ritual he’d just witnessed, but he felt somewhat less than comfortable asking about it somehow. He decided instead to ask another of the questions that had formed in his mind upon the arrival of the other two visitors to this grave.

“Is he…?” he spoke up, nodding toward the wobbuffet, letting the question hang.

“Yes,” Ntairow said, “this is Zerzekai, my son and Esaax’s. Zerzekai, this is… I’m sorry, I never did get your name.”

“Syr,” the arbok supplied. “I’m Syr.”

Ntairow nodded in acknowledgment. “Syr was one of your father’s friends,” she told Zerzekai. Her gaze then shifted back to Syr. “…I would like to thank you for that,” she said to him. “For being there for him when and where you could. I could tell during our time together that you genuinely cared about him and wanted him to be well.”

Syr lowered his head, averting his gaze slightly as he felt tears beginning to sting his eyes. “Yeah,” he said solemnly. “Yeah, I did.” And… and I still do, he added silently, and he meant it. He didn’t know for certain what lay beyond life, if anything… but he hoped that somewhere, in some way, Esaax and everyone else he’d ever cared for and lost were happy and well, with all their troubles left behind forever.

It didn’t ease the pain completely, didn’t quite stop him altogether from wishing they were still with him. But it was some comfort, at least, however small, and as the minutes passed in silence, he hoped that the two who stood sharing those minutes with him had found, or would find, at least some small comfort of their own.

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The Compromise
SO GLAD I FINALLY READ THIS. SERIOUSLY. Kept me amazing company on a series of tram, train and plane rides <33 It's wonderful. Review/commentary (I should honest with myself) incoming.

I cannot express my love enough for the opening scene... the way you developed the relationship of Esaax and his trainer, explored the psychic link... The scene unrolled lovingly in my mind's eye, I could really feel the emotion, just beautiful. And there are 17 chapters to go. All the keyboard smashing. I'm going to cry. I can foresee it now.

HE'S WOBBUFET FROM TEAM ROCKET?!? Just reached chapter three as you may have guessed. Jessie?!? Arbok?! Wtshtjsysyzjsj (keyboard smash) and then human extinction which I'd been expecting (...saw spoiler for that at one point) but not conveyed through those characters......

Poor Esaax and Ntairow... I do wonder if we'll see her again (later edit I KNEW IT)

Oh my god. Chapter four, and Esaax's recounting of his earlier meeting with Faurur - it feels like a real conversation, two friends trying to comprehend the unbelievable. And then when he describes what happened to his daughter... !!!!

You-you- faurur- : ((((( yes i just finished chapter five. Well done by god. ;-; and ensuing plot fun times completely pushed from the mind by what a kind, bleeding heart Esaax is D: I am really starting to love his and Syr's relationship, and the different ways each species concieve their existences and what awaits after death... wonderful world building.

"Esaax just continued his zombielike stare into nothingness with glazed eyes and sagging lips, completely unresponsive.' - this line stuck with me. And the description of the growing ice-crystal tree was wonderful...!!!

And a few chapters layer, Esaax's chilling metamorphosis and his new found carnivorous nature... ahhhh. And Madeline's death, oh man. So grizzly. So good. Poor thing. Poor both of them...!

And knowing that Animorphs were an inspiration for the transformation is just AWESOME. I also need to reread those books.

Lots more spates of silence between comments now, sorry! - great spates though because it reflects how I just couldn't stop reading and yes hello Ntairow it's great to meet you personally. A son! And Naro is a firm favourite of mine, love his sleep-battling haha!

The 'fight' with the hoothoot-noctowl family... Syr and Ntairow's conversation in the woods... and especially Esaax's hallucination/conversation with his darker side, so wonderful. Poor Esaax - in such a short amount of time everything's fallen to hell, and the reader falls down the same demonic rabbit hole as poor Esaax. We are as unprepared for this as he is, clueless as he (although there are hints - cant wait for the reveal), and can only keep on stumbling forward alongside him. <333

Karo turned back briefly to look at the hole that he and his nose had just helped to create. “Wow, that’s even bigger than the last one,” he remarked. “Awesome.”


D: KAROOOOO I'm glad he seems alright... at the beginning of chapter 16 at least. ;___;

But not thinking about this was difficult for him, especially since, in addition to the fact that he was presently pulling the weight of the pokémon to whom some of the debris had formerly belonged, he was still furthermore not altogether certain of just what had left Karo in such a state in the first place ...

THAT IMAGE ;---; combined with the 'half a nosepass line... delivered wonderfully simplistically, practically, letting the undercurrent of horror speak for itself... <33

Two words, nearly voiceless, escaped on a breath exhaled as if he’d been holding it all his life.

Such a beautiful line...!! Poor poor fellow...

And I had to scroll back up and quote this, even though it's not part of the story and I'm mid-chapter 17, because it is just a wonderful way to evoke the horror of what happened '14 years ago' that doesn't embellish, revel in the trauma but succinctly and oh so effectively sets the idea across:

And if everyone simply falling asleep and never waking sounds like a nice, peaceful way for humanity to bite the dust, well...

1.) There was no shortage of people driving, piloting planes, and operating other heavy machinery when it started happening, and

2.) it didn't knock every human being out at the exact same moment.

Those facts are perhaps as horrifying as a drawn out description would be. My god. That is what I love about this 'fic though: it's not about revelling in the horror of the extinction but focusing on the survivors who experienced it, are living still and struggling along after it. All the comedy and sadness and love platonic and otherwise that makes up a life even in tragedy. <33 Not to say you don't detail some very chilling scenes, because you do (mind goes back to Madeline) but that fits into the experience of the moment, one of many moments, and its just. <3333. You get me? X3

*scrolls back at chap 17 and the amazing struggle between Esaax and his darkness.




And the end of that scene... beautifully quiet. :')

IT WAS MEOWTH?! 'I know what you've lost' man... and ohgod haha 'deleo' - of course. Deleo's edge of desperation. The abbreviation of 'them'. Meowth always cared deeply, and had this ruthlessness, it's great to scroll back, reread Esaax's and Deleo's conversation and see the evidence (almost blatant) now. But who was the ditto? Ahhh

And... the ending...


What an ending. The unanswered questions... the deranics, were they a false lead then? I suppose Faurur really wasn't in the right mind at the end... or is it just that this is a story about people, caught in the mire of events beyond their control, and the cataclysm spirals on while they just regather their lives and carry on. What was that living shadow...? What truly decimated humanity? Lights in the skies...

I like an interpretation that despite all of the potential larger plots that crop up throughout, the key events and drive of the story do in fact come from the characters themselves, as they deal with the aftermath of something that is honestly impossible to comprehend. Deleo. Esaax's therapy, pain, trauma, the way his healing powers were discovered and developed...* potentially the whole concept of the derantics from a distressed Faurur/distressed Koffing? No, that ignores what Syr corroborated about the Koffing being weird... A combination of this and the larger plots unrolling as they do: around the lives of those stuck in their thrall. I don't know. I think I need a reread :3

Going back over it, one of my favourite interactions:

“Hmm… I’m not, but Ren might be. When he gets back, I’ll ask him,” Karo said.

Syr sighed. “I really wish you’d stop talking about your trainer like that.”

“Like what?” Karo asked.

“Like… well, like he’s still alive,” Syr answered quietly.

“And why wouldn’t he be?” Karo asked.

“Well… because he’s human, Karo,” Syr said.

Karo snorted. “Whatever you say…”

;-----; Such a lovely way to address yet another pespective on how the survivors understand and reconcile the form of apocalypse they lived through. SO GOOD

Esaax... such a genuine, wonderful character, you did such a great job with him. His fate... so sad.

“You’re a hallucination!”

“I’m a damned good hallucination, though, you have to admit,” Travis said, fidgeting with the bloody piece of metal that protruded from his chest.


Alright I should stop before I fill the rest of this with quotes. Love your writing style so much, how you able to slide from the dispassionate calculation of the dark moments, to the amiability of the character's everyday lives - the smatterings of comedy...! - to the heartbreaking passion of Essax's first introduction his last thoughts, his last moment. ;---; Thank you for this. <3 and well done. Both. You rock.

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
katiekitten: I hope you know, I'm going to be over the moon for at LEAST the remainder of the day over this post. ;w; Just, oh my gosh. Such an entertaining and uplifting review. <3

I'm especially glad to see so much appreciation for the amount of focus on the survivors' experiences, because that right there? That's one of my favorite aspects of tragedy, and I really think it's one of the strongest elements you can wield in a genre. You can just mention or show sad things happening on their own, and that's fine, but when it's put in a format that really makes you experience the events vicariously through the characters it's just all the more potent.

And believe me, Karo is as fun to write as to read. 8D

I could ramble and ramble and ramble myself in response to this, but I should really probably stop neglecting this pizza. XD; Thanks lots and lots; this really made my day. ;w;


Thanks for letting me know you can still reply to completed works, haha. Some of this I already mentioned in VM, but I got my thoughts on CH 16 and 17 too!

CH 13, 14

“The problem with you evolving is that you weren’t supposed to,” Travis said. “Wasn’t supposed to be possible, was it? My friend, you got forced into this form. You got forced into this combination of elements, and it’s not one that’s meant to be fooled around with.”

Forced evolution huh? Ouch.

“DeLeo,” Esaax said hoarsely.


“It was that serum he gave me… that’s what started all this…”

Yup, figured as much.

The smeargle gave a bloody grin. “Surrender, Evergray. Let me take over.” His green eyes shifted dramatically in color, becoming black all throughout like a pair of deep, dark holes. The rest of him followed suit, the scattered scorchings of his coat spreading until he was pitch-black all over. He became an animate shadow, a dark mass that rapidly changed shape and grew into a dramatically different form.

Well, that escalated very quickly.

Not surprising Karo recognizes the smeargle that vandalized his home, heh. Otherwise, with the group spotting Esaax now, I wonder how that'll go down.

The backstory over Asotrua is very interesting and neat you have it relate to Mirage Island. While DeLeo may have some good intentions, he really didn't think through of the consequences there and him not letting Esaax consent to this evolution is a big deal there.

CH 15

“This is where it started,” Syr said, his eyes wide with realization. “Esaax got sick right after he left from here…” The arbok shook his head in disbelief and shame. “I should have figured it out much sooner, but I’d already made scapegoats out of the poor staff at the Haven… Looks like Esaax knew, though. And now he’s come back for answers.”

“Or blood,” Ntairow said grimly.

Ah huh. :x

Looks like the group had a tough time with Moriel and her copies. A suspense ending for that chapter there!

CH 16, CH 17

He was looking at roughly half of a nosepass.

“Oh God…” Syr whispered.

“It’s all right,” Ntairow assured him. “He’s still alive, and he has already begun to repair himself.”

Oh okay, that's good to hear. Explosion is pretty risky there, though.

“An elemental factor that’s strong enough to have an effect on its owner but not strong enough to figure into their actual type. All pokémon have—”

Quite a twist there, but sadly cut short before Ntairow can finish explaining.

Esaax and Ntairow's reunion is sweet, but too bad it's short and Esaax didn't make it in the end. =<

Wait, the mention of DeLeo actually Meowth, would that be Team Rocket Meowth? No wonder he's desperate for Esaax to evolve. Should probably have figured that out when Syr recognized the human language Solonn used. The very end where everyone gathered around Esaax's grave is touching and a great end for this story, aw.

Very glad to finish it reading the whole thing, even if I'm a little late with my last few responses! The worldbulding you did is great and I like that you gave some of the canon Pokemon characters expanded characterization. You should be proud of this work! =)

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Bay: Yeah in the original version Ntairow and Syr got into this inappropriately long conversation about subtypes, as if they weren't in a dangerous place with an important mission or much else to do at all besides ramble about headcanons. Having her get cut off when she starts on that subject was me making fun of my past self, in a way. :p

Yep, DeLeo is indeed that meowth!

Thanks lots and lots for reading and replying, and honestly? Being specifically told I should be proud of something I made is probably one of the most heartwarming things I've ever heard. ;w; Thanks again!