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The Worldslayers

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Sike Saner, May 22, 2017.

  1. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner *aromatisse noise*

    Hey all. It's chapterfic time again. 8D This is something of a sequel to both this fic and this one, especially the former.

    I'm going with a T rating on this one. Count on there being violence; count on there being mild language; count on there being uncheerful things in general from time to time.



    Right then. On with the show...

    ______________

    Chapter 1 – The Promise


    The cemetery was quiet, nearly empty. Most people who weren’t working or sleeping were staying indoors, anticipating more rain. There was only Syr, a lone arbok slithering up the path between the gates.

    The placard marking his destination glinted a faint bronze in the scant sunlight. Syr came to a stop, his eyes roaming over three names embossed in unown-script: ESSAX EVERGRAY. FARRUR URSH NONKU. DROSSIGON URSH NONKU-EVERGRAY. Syr could only hope he’d guessed how to spell them correctly. He’d never actually seen any of the names in writing before.

    He inhaled, steeling himself. “Hi, Esaax,” he said quietly. “Hi, Faurur… hi, Drasigon.” Syr had never actually met the young koffing; even now, it felt a bit awkward addressing her. But leaving her out felt worse somehow. “I hope you’re well. Hope you’re at peace.

    “Anyway, uh… well. I have news for you.” Mostly for Faurur, truth be told. But he figured anything that had mattered to her would matter to the others. “I’ve made some new friends. Friends who might be able to help me look into the deranics for you.” Syr gave a faint, sad smile, closing his eyes. “A promise is a promise, right?”

    His next breath came in as a loud sniffle, surprising him. When he’d begun crying, he couldn’t say. Sighing, Syr brought the end of his tail around to wipe at the lingering tears.

    “…I guess I’d better get going, then,” he then said. “We’ll figure this out. We’ll save your people. And… and I’ll be careful. I promise.”

    The arbok took a deep breath and let it out slowly, flexing his cobra hood as his lungs emptied. “Goodbye,” he said on the next, then turned back toward the cemetery gates.

    From there, home was about half an hour eastward. Insofar as he could call it home, anyway. His own house had been reduced to a blackened husk so recently that he could still smell the smoke when he thought about it. In the wake of its loss, his friend Karo had offered up his home, and Syr and his adopted son Jen had accepted.

    But Karo wasn’t their only roommate.

    Soon enough, the three-story brick house on Bayberry Street came into view. Syr went up the walkway and rapped on the front doors with his tail, to no response. He knocked again. “Coming, coming…” came a rasping voice from inside, accompanied by the sound of something heavy whispering over carpet.

    One door opened, and there, holding the first third or so of himself upright in a very arboklike fashion, was Jen. Jen was a cryonide: black and bladed, humanoid above the waist, serpentlike below. Even now, Syr caught himself gawking at him, all but forgetting who he was. It was just that hard to believe this creature was his son—especially given how opposed the boy had been to evolving.

    “I just didn’t want to become a glalie,” he’d clarified after Syr had seen his new form for the first time. “We found a way around that.”

    “…Sorry,” Syr said, acknowledging his own stare. “Is everyone else downstairs?” he asked, craning his neck to look past Jen’s long shoulder spines.

    “Ren is. He’s all the way downstairs. Karo might be with him.” Jen moved out of Syr’s way as he spoke; once the arbok was well and truly in the living room, Jen curled the end of his tail around the doorknob and pulled it shut. “Everyone else is out.”

    All the way downstairs. That meant Ren was probably busy plugging away at a mystery of his own. For a moment, Syr wondered if maybe now wasn’t the time to have this discussion with him. No, he finally decided, unable to help himself. It’s been long enough.

    He went to a nearby closet, opening the door with his tail, then drew an invisible pattern on its back wall with his snout. There was a click, and then a well-concealed door slid out of the way to reveal a roomy elevator. Syr wound his way in, then drew himself up into a tight coil.

    “I need you to come down here with me,” he called out to Jen. The cryonide knew the winding halls beneath Ren’s house somewhat better than Syr did. Jen complied readily, maneuvering into the lift; both pokémon did their best to scrunch themselves out of each other’s way, mindful of Jen’s many barbs and blades.

    Syr nudged a couple of buttons with his snout, and the elevator began its descent. He was concerned, however fleetingly, when it didn’t stop as soon as he’d expected; he was used to exiting at the Vault, home of Ren’s personal library as well as his valuables. Not this time, he reminded himself.

    Eventually, the elevator’s rear door opened to off-white walls and clear, bright lighting, a far cry from the slightly old-fashioned décor above. Syr let Jen take the lead, following him through the halls, weaving around deep gouges in the floor, until finally they reached an open door.

    In the room beyond, a smallish figure sat at the foot of a tall, presently-open tube of some sort. It resembled nothing more than an oversized aluminum can, but apparently it was some sort of stasis device. That was Ren’s theory, anyhow. He’d awoke within it earlier that week with no memory of the past fourteen years or so, including why he’d gone in there in the first place. Ever since, he’d made trips downstairs to try and make as much sense as he could of the thing, partly to see if he could get it working again, partly to try and jog his own memories about it.

    Jen let himself into the room, at which Ren finally pried his eyes and thoughts from the tube. He turned to face the two new arrivals, regarding them through deep brown eyes, and for the second time that day, Syr caught himself staring.

    It would be a long time, he imagined, before he’d get completely used to seeing a real, live human being in the flesh again.

    Ren Bridges was the man’s name. He was short, entirely hairless, and wearing the same Kalos-flag shirt and black jeans as he’d been since awakening. Syr hadn’t even wondered why. He’d been too preoccupied with the fact that this man was alive at all when the rest of his kind had been extinct for more than a decade.

    “Oh hey,” Ren said, shutting the toolbox at his side and hoisting it up as he stood.

    “…Hey,” Syr responded after a beat. “So, uh… I was wondering…” The sense that he was wasting his words on this human, same as he would’ve been with any other, was still a little hard to shake.

    But Ren had already proven that yes, he really could understand pokémon—yet another of the tube’s mysteries. He hadn’t been able to prior to emerging from it. “Yes…?” he prompted.

    “About your library,” Syr went on. “Your books, your videos, anything you’ve got. I was wondering if there’s anything in there about der-an-ics…” That last word wasn’t one of his own. He wasn’t even sure it was part of any pokémon language. He wanted to make certain that Ren heard it clearly.

    “There isn’t,” Ren said. He furrowed his brow and gazed upward in silent thought for a few moments. “Not by name, anyway. What do you know about them?”

    “Not much,” Syr admitted. “But here’s what I do know: several years ago, off around Rustboro, these weird lights crossed the sky. I didn’t know what they were then, but I’ve since learned that those were the deranics. They came and enslaved some of the poison-types living in the area… including an old friend,” he added quietly. “She escaped a few days ago to warn me about them. She said they’d already done something to the world. Something big.”

    He met Ren’s gaze again and found the human’s eyes wide and wild, his lips parted. “How many years ago?” Ren asked.

    “It…” Didn’t feel so long ago at all, especially in the wake of all the reminders he’d gotten recently. Syr shook his head, trying to regain his perspective. “It was almost… oh my God.”

    Almost fifteen years ago.

    Syr didn’t say it aloud, hung up on disbelief that he’d never made this connection before. Or maybe he had. He couldn’t say for certain. He could barely think.

    Nonetheless, Ren apparently pieced it together himself; “Don’t you think it’s a little strange,” he said, “that we’d get a visit from space invaders, or whatever the hell they were, right around the time when an entire species gets killed off?”

    Syr had to fight through the buzzing in his brain to find words again. Suddenly the floodgates were open. Suddenly Faurur’s words made entirely too much sense. “That’s what they did,” he breathed. “Seter—Seterazu… augh…” More “worm-language”, as Faurur had called it. He hoped he’d remember the exact words sooner rather than later. “That’s what she was talking about. It was them. They’re the ones behind the plague, or whatever it was…”

    “Maybe,” Jen spoke up. Syr gave him a questioning look, but the cryonide merely shrugged; apparently he had nothing more to contribute on the subject.

    “If there’s any chance they were,” Ren said, “any chance whatsoever…” There was a tremor in his voice now. Whether it was fear or anger, Syr couldn’t tell. Maybe it was both. “I think,” the human resumed after a deep breath, “it behooves us to look into this.”

    Syr felt a trickle of relief run down his spine. There was his next question out of the way. The mission that lay ahead would be difficult—there was no doubt about that. Syr had little chance of accomplishing anything on his own, but with a former Apex League gym leader on his side…

    “What about the pokémon?” he asked. “Karo and the rest… do they automatically come too, or…”

    “I’ll ask them. Karo’ll wanna go at the very least. That said, I do kind of hope someone’s willing to stay and hold the fort, considering all that’s happened around here lately…”

    “All that’s happened” being a break-in by smeargle vandals, followed by a rampaging monstrosity burrowing their way in from below. Much as he appreciated nearly any backup his new friends could offer, Syr couldn’t blame the human for wanting to keep an eye on things back home.

    “I’ll stay,” Jen volunteered, raising a six-clawed hand. “And I’m sure Solonn and his dad will, too. There’s still a lot I want to talk about, and I’m sure they feel the same way.”

    A faint, disapproving frown made it to Syr’s face, but he fought it back just as quickly. No, he still wasn’t entirely comfortable with Solonn. The man was a glalie, after all, and an abnormally large one at that. And he was claiming to be Jen’s lost and forgotten brother, brainwashed right out of the boy’s memories. He’d specifically come to Convergence to find Jen, in fact, and the thought of this nightmare creature stealing his son away didn’t sit particularly well with Syr.

    But in spite of all this, Syr tried to tamp his misgivings back down. The glalie had tried, after all, to save Esaax. He’d helped free the former wobbuffet from his imprisonment, had reunited him with the one person in the world who could’ve possibly saved his life.

    And there was still a lot no one had figured out about Jen’s background. They knew he’d been mentally tampered with at some point, in some way. His own memories, apparently unreliable, told him he’d been under the care of fugitives from a cruel, oppressive nation. He couldn’t put a name to anyone in his real family… but he believed Solonn. And truth be told, it was as good a lead as any other where Jen’s past was concerned.

    “All right,” Syr said, and he didn’t have to feign the relief in his voice, nor did he have to fight hard to bring it back to the forefront where it belonged. He’d never wanted to drag Jen into this mess. The mission would be dangerous. Even if he could’ve known exactly what he was up against, Syr knew he wouldn’t have felt right bringing his son into harm’s way like that.

    “Right then. Karo.” Ren plucked a great ball off his belt, pressing its button as he brought it forward. White light spilled out, and a moment later it resolved into a nosepass.

    It took a moment for Karo to react to being let out. He made an odd little groaning noise, swiveling each of his arms in a full rotation, then pivoted to face Ren with an unpleasant grinding of stone on stone. “What?”

    “How are you feeling?” Ren asked.

    “Heh. Like I actually haven’t exploded in the past few days,” Karo responded.

    Syr winced. The fact of the matter was that Karo had done exactly that. Syr recalled what had been left of his friend in the wake of the explosion, remembered crawling over scattered stones that used to be part of a living being, and shivered in discomfort.

    “I’m glad you’re all right,” Syr said. It wasn’t the first time he’d said it since Karo had stepped out into the waiting room, whole again. But it came out every bit as earnestly. “Listen, there’s… well. We’ve made plans.”

    “You told him about the things, didn’t you,” Karo said.

    “Yeah… he didn’t know any more than we do,” Syr said, only to realize Ren hadn’t exactly confirmed whether or not there was any information about them in the Vault above. “Right?”

    “Prior to now, I didn’t know anything at all. But now…” Another deep breath. His grip tightened on the handle of the toolbox. “I’ve learned enough to know this definitely warrants a closer look.”

    “So we’re gonna go pay these deranics a visit?” More loud grinding as Karo turned to face Syr. “Count me in.”

    No surprise there. Karo had insisted upon coming along the last time Syr was faced with a difficult task, as well. And he’d proven a valuable asset to the rescue party, even if the mission had ended in failure. “Just… try not to explode unless you absolutely have to,” Syr said. “Okay?”

    Karo stepped forward, leaning back to look Syr right in the eyes. “Believe me,” he said, “when I tell you that I really, really frickin’ hate doing that, and if I make it out of this in one piece we are going to have a party, cake and all. I mean hey, we already owe him a welcome-back party, right?” he added, waving an arm toward his trainer.

    “You don’t owe me a thing, Karo.” Ren closed the short distance to the nosepass’s side and patted him on the head. “I’m just glad to have you around.”

    Jen craned his neck upward then, clicking his fanged mandibles against his teeth. “I should see if they’re back yet,” he decided aloud, and headed back toward the elevator. Hoping there was a glalie waiting for him up there, Syr reckoned. He sighed in spite of himself, but gave no further objection. All the same, he insisted on following his son upstairs.

    Back in the living room, Syr saw no sign of Solonn, nor of his steelix father. But he could hear them conversing outside, could feel their deep voices resonating through the floor. The sounds retreated; the glalie was probably heading off to the shadiest patch he could find, clouds or no clouds. The three pokémon who’d actually come inside, meanwhile, weren’t going anywhere.

    One of them was a greninja by the name of Babs. She had a large plastic grocery bag slung over one shoulder and was already heading for the kitchen with it. The other two… the other two were kwazai, and Syr felt a lump form in his throat at the sight of them. Even now, it was hard to look at them without wishing they were the last pair of kwazai he’d met instead.

    But they weren’t, he reminded himself with a pang of regret as Jen excused his way past them and slithered out the door. They were Demi and Acheron, more of Ren’s pokémon. Siblings, if he remembered right. The former was a four-armed biped; the latter, a quadruped with very long limbs and neck and tail. Both were sky-blue, with black tails studded with eyes-that-weren’t. They’d been wobbuffet once, same as Esaax had. Unlike Esaax, they’d probably had a choice in the matter of whether or not they’d evolve.

    It’s not him. He’s not Esaax. He had nothing to do with him.

    “Just set those against the wall over there,” Ren’s voice sounded from somewhere behind him; Syr jolted, wondering exactly when the human had joined them. He glanced back and noted Karo’s absence; back in the ball, Syr assumed.

    His attention was back on the two kwazai before he quite realized it. They were stacking long, thin boxes on the floor next to the sofa—save for one, which Demi began opening as she strode over to Ren on her stiltlike legs.

    “What do you think?” she asked him, sliding out a wooden plank. “Nothing like what we had down in here before, I know, but I think it’s an upgrade.”

    “It’s nice,” Ren said, and he couldn’t have sounded more preoccupied if he’d tried. “But the floor’s gonna have to wait. We have a more important job to do.”

    “And that would be…?” There was Babs, leaning in the doorway from the kitchen. Her eyes shifted toward Ren’s belt. “Something to do with the nullshade?”

    “Hopefully not,” Ren said, and Syr agreed, eying the relevant ultra ball with unease, all fangs bared. The creature within had tried to murder his son. Had succeeded in destroying their home. The nullshade, as they were apparently called, could just rot in that ball for all Syr cared.

    Thinking about the nullshade turned Syr’s thoughts back toward Jen, and checking up on him suddenly felt like a good idea. “…I’ll be right back,” he said, and headed out to the park across the street.

    There were those bottomless voices again, and this time Syr could see their owners. There was a steelix half-curled around one of the many trees. A large glalie sat next to him against the trunk, listening intently as Jen spoke.

    Syr tried to pick up the pace and catch the tail end of what he was saying, but Jen stopped talking the moment he noticed his father approaching. The others noticed, as well, and Syr bit back the urge to flinch as enormous, glowing blue eyes turned his way.

    “Hello again,” Solonn said. “Jen told us about your plans.”

    So that’s what they were talking about. Syr wondered if that was all, but pushed the matter aside. “Are you planning on staying with him?”

    “Well, yes and no.” The steelix—Grosh, that was his name—cast a glance back at the house. “We probably won’t go back indoors unless we have to—awfully cramped in there—but we’ll stick around. Anything that comes along trying to cause trouble will regret it,” he promised, with a flick of his segmented tail for emphasis.

    “I’ll stick around, too.”

    Syr all but leapt backward like a coiled spring. The unexpected voice had come from directly above him; looking up, he saw Babs hanging upside-down from one of the branches, the end of her obscenely long tongue dangling in the breeze.

    “Please stop doing that,” Syr said wearily. “Please.”

    “He doesn’t need a scare right now,” Solonn said sternly. “None of us do.”

    “I… yeah, you’re right.” The greninja dropped out of the tree, righting herself mid-fall. “I keep forgetting what year this is,” she admitted, fully intelligible despite her tongue being wrapped around her face and neck like a scarf.

    Syr relaxed a bit, turning a pitying gaze on her. He could only imagine what it was like to come out of the ball, same as countless times before, only to find that years had passed and billions of people with them. “It’s fine,” he said. “So you’re going to stay with Jen, too? Indoors?”

    Babs nodded. “Ren wants me to keep prodding at that tube downstairs while he’s away. And there’s really only so much Jen can do around the house, seeing as he usually has to use his tail instead of those hands,” she said. “No offense, of course.”

    Jen just looked at the long blades he had for fingers, the yellow light in his eyes flickering in what might’ve been embarrassment.

    “And, uh…” Babs wrapped an arm around Syr’s midsection and shepherded him a few feet away; cottoning on, he leaned in close. “Considering that the last time he was in trouble, he ran out of the house… yeah. Kiiiinda wanna make sure there’s someone who’ll stay in and keep an eye on the place no matter what.”

    “I heard that,” Jen said, a bit indignantly.

    “And no one blames you for that,” Babs added quickly. “Nobody’s judging you. Okay?”

    Solonn regarded her with a look that might’ve meant nothing at all. Those features could only be softened so much. But Syr interpreted it as, That’s right. We’re not.

    “…I appreciate it,” Syr said, returning his attention to the greninja. “Thanks.”

    “Don’t sweat it,” Babs responded, and returned to the branches above in a single bound.

    Syr gave an acknowledging nod, then turned to eye the glalie and steelix for a moment more before turning back toward the house. He heard Jen start to follow him a couple of beats later. Good.

    The cryonide caught up with him easily. “You still don’t trust him, do you?”

    Syr fumbled for a denial, but only momentarily. “…Yeah,” he admitted. “It’s nothing personal, though. You know that.”

    “I know. And besides, I used to be afraid of him, too, back when I thought he was the enemy. Back when I thought I knew everything.” Jen folded his hands, claws rasping against claws. “I’m still sorry about the Adn thing,” he added quietly.

    Syr had to suppress another urge to embrace him. Not a snorunt anymore. He said nothing at first, watching a car go by, crossing the street once it had passed. “He—they tricked you. It wasn’t your fault.” Past the cordoned-off hole in the street, hastily filled in with conjured rocks. Back over the curb. Back up the walkway. “And anyway, it was just a house, right? And the things in it were just things.” It wasn’t the first time he’d said something along those lines. He figured enough repetitions would make it easier for both of them to believe.

    “I guess so.” Jen backed up a bit to let Syr open the door, still quietly scraping his claws together.

    Syr found Ren still in the living room, but the kwazai were nowhere in sight. “The twins are on board,” the human said before Syr could ask about them, absently patting the dusk balls at his side. “And I guess Babs told you what she’ll be doing.”

    Syr nodded as he let Jen get past him again. “So… since we seem to have everything sorted out now, when do we leave?”

    “Tonight.” There was restlessness in his tone, his gaze elsewhere. Possibly elsewhen, Syr considered. “Partly for the kwazai’s sake, but…” He rubbed at his bald head. “Demi spoke with the glalie yesterday, and at some point he apparently said something about anti-human sentiment—people who are glad we’re gone. People who don’t need to see me.” He met Syr’s gaze. “Is it true?”

    It was Jen who fielded that question. “DeLeo was always worried about that… it’s why he asked us to be careful who we told about him.” His eyelight briefly dulled. “Then again, he wasn’t human after all…”

    Syr’s gaze fell to the floor. No. DeLeo wasn’t human. He was… Syr hissed, unable to say the word, even in his mind. But the face, that all too familiar face, appeared in his mind’s eye as if summoned all the same.

    He could accept that DeLeo wasn’t human. He just wished to God that he were anything, anyone else.

    Uncomfortable silence hovered for a few moments more. Then, “Either way… no. Not risking it. I mean, sure, we can probably pass me off as an especially sentimental ditto at least part of the time, but the fewer folks we’ll have to fool, the better. So yeah, we’ll let the diurnals skip off to bed. The kwazai can ward off everyone else. Demi will be watching our backs for the first night.”

    “Okay,” Syr said. He glanced at the clock… remembered it was broken, and turned to look out the window instead. The clouds made it hard to gauge the sun’s exact position, but it still looked far from sundown.

    Part of him still worried about the mission—the danger—that lay ahead. But as far as the rest of him was concerned, the sun couldn’t set soon enough.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2018
  2. JX Valentine

    JX Valentine ██████████

    Well, hello there, world of Communication.

    In all seriousness, I loved your characters in your previous fics, so coming back to the whole cast (plus or minus a few) is like coming back to old friends … you know. Despite the fact that I’d only started reading your work right around the time you were wrapping up The Origin of Storms. *light cough*

    In any case, it’s nice to see a continuation either way, given that there were so many loose ends that needed to be wrapped up in Communication. In fact, “what exactly was the plague,” “how do the pokémon stop it from here on out,” and “where tf did Ren come from” are three of them, so it’s extremely nice to see all of them addressed right here and now. I’m certainly curious about the deranics, which I know were brought up ages ago, but I’ve only just now connected to the last time we’ve seen Jal’tai. (Might we see that jerkface again? He did disappear rather mysteriously…)

    Actually, come to think of it, it’s interesting that there’s a new fic—a completely new one, not one getting reposted. The only issue I ever had with Communication was that some plot arcs seemed to be picked up, only to be put down and forgotten about just as quickly. (Setting Solonn up as a human-in-disguise, only to have “Michael” be taken out of the story just before we see him do what Jal’tai created him to do.) And I know way back when, you made a comment that you didn’t exactly plan ahead, but seeing this roll around, with all these promises of continuations of plot points you cooked up earlier just makes me think, first off, that you’re flippin’ brilliant and second off, that the plot points I thought were dropped just as quickly as they formed actually weren’t dropped and actually will receive some closure. Or at least further development. I mean, how long ago did we learn about deranics?

    Man, I know I keep bringing up so many things in your other fics, but I’m just really excited to see a third installment. And honestly, it’s difficult not to talk about this without talking about those, as so much of this chapter hinges on the idea that someone has already read at least The Origin of Storms. (I mean, yes, you’d want to read Communication as well, but Syr had a much bigger role in the former, you know?) So as a continuation of those, this is an excellent place to continue: literally on the end heels of Communication, so soon that Syr could smell the housefire that was totally Adn’s fault. (Will we ever know more about that dude as well?)

    On its own, though, it does a great job at establishing all we need to know. We get interactions between each of the more important characters (even Syr and Essax in a way—you know, in a “talking to a grave” kind of way, but still). We get a nice establishing shot that something serious happened here (with Syr’s house fire and all the talk about invaders, kwazai, nullshade, and more). We even have a direction (kicking invader *** and taking names). Who could ask for more? I mean, you even go the extra mile and introduce (bring in? I don’t recall her in Communication) a rather fun character in the form of Babs, who I can tell, from the fact that she totally ninjaed her way into the scene, will be both a fun character…

    ...and a heart-rending one. (Oh god why.)

    And, of course, as a cherry on top, I can’t wait for the inevitable drama between Syr and Solonn. That’s gonna be great.

    In short, definitely excited to see this around. :D Because there will be shenanigans afoot, and they’ll be glorious. 8) 8) 8)
     
  3. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner *aromatisse noise*

    JX Valentine: I hope you know I did the internet equivalent of dashing straight tf here from Tumblr while making a high pitched noise. It's somewhere between a buzzing mosquito and a deflating balloon.

    ANYWAY!

    Oh man. Ohhhh man.

    mulls over whether or not to spill those particular beans

    Frell it, here come the limas. Under a spoiler for anyone who doesn't wanna partake of 'em:

    He ded. :V Combination of being old as balls, spending a great deal of his energy saving what few people he could from the plague, and not taking the best care of himself post-Extinction. Rest in pretty potted plants, Featherbutt.

    would you say she..

    GRENINJAED HER WAY IN?????

    Anyway! Glad to hear you're enjoying this so far (and the fics that preceded it, omg ;w; ). Seriously that post made me smile like SUCH a doofus sdfghfd... Thanks muchly. :D
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018
  4. Chibi Pika

    Chibi Pika Stay positive

    NEW FIC WHAT'S THIS. OwO

    So, I'm lucky I read Communication then, eh? ^^ But actually, I'm gonna try to approach this as if I hadn't (1) because you didn't specify it as a sequel in the first post, so presumably the story is meant to be self-contained enough to stand alone, and (2) because the final act of Communication dropped so many characters and plot points that after a year, I'm a bit fuzzy on all the details, so I might be able to offer a different perspective as a reader who doesn't know everything. Also I never read Origin of Storms, that too.
    Okay, so I do know that Essax was Jessie's Wobbuffet. Seeing as Drasigon's surname is combined from the other two, I'm gonna guess that Faurur is James's Weezing. Which would mean that Syr is also Jesse's! I had no idea!
    Wait...

    You don't mean...

    DeLeo was that Meowth all along? O__O

    (Wow, this is probably gonna be hilarious watching me stumble into all these things that were already revealed in Origin of Storms, lmao.)

    Anyway! I think the chapter did a pretty good job setting up the major plot points from the previous stories that will be relevant in this one--namely, the human extinction event and the reveal of Ren Bridges as the sole surviving human. I guess this means he was in some kind of stasis that whole time, huh? I do remember being really curious why he gave Solonn his abilities, although seeing as said abilities are already gone, it probably won't come up?

    Speaking of Solonn, great to see him back, as well as Grosh, who is still best dad. Actually, all the characters got some nice introductions, although I think my only concern is that there were a LOT of them for only the first chapter. I'd recommend making a character list, especially for the sake of new readers who might be coming into this without reading the previous entries (something simple like name, species, two-sentence bio, something like that?) Ooh, and could I request a reference list of all the fakemon too? I mean, the Kwazai and Cryonide are pretty well established at this point, but there were a fair number of others in Communication that I don't recall very well, and if there will be more here, it'd be handy to have a list to refer to.

    Ok so this is interesting! So Faurur isn't dead, like the opening of the chapter implied? I wonder why she's not with Syr now then, if that's the case...

    So! Seems like it'll be Syr, Ren, Karo, Demi, and Acheron going on this quest, then (did I miss anyone?) Looking forward to seeing where this will go! :D

    ~Chibi~;249;;448;
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2017
  5. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner *aromatisse noise*

    Chibi Pika: You've managed to make me cry like a baby and smile like a goofball in the same night, I hope you know. And I'm loving every moment of it. :D

    Anyhoo! Yep, Jessie's wobbuffet and James's weezing had a babby several years back. Rest in pizzas, babby. And rest in additional pizzas, babby's parents. And babby's parents' trainers. And, just, so many other people. I'm going straight to hell. 8D

    He sure was! 8D

    That actually sounds like a lot of fun on both counts, holy heck. :eek: At the very least, definitely count on a fakemon roundup in the author's notes for the next chapter. (Or sooner, if I finally get around to finishing nullshade and cryonide's entries before then. :D; ). Maybe I'll gather up all that information in a Tumblr post and link to it in the thread. I could do the same with the cast list, too.

    Okay yeah, liking that idea quite a bit. Look forward to that, then. :D

    Technically Anomaly's there, too. But the rest of the team's really, really hoping to keep them in the ball, all things considered. XD;

    Glad you're digging this so far--thanks for the reply! :D
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018
  6. Ok, so I first read this while being absolutely clueless as to what's going on since I haven't read this fic series before. This isn't a criticism on the fic itself, but I'd really recommend noting how this is a sequel at the top of the fic. That way newer readers will be able to understand more of what's going on (what the actual heck is Jen?).

    So, this review is gonna be from the standpoint of someone who didn't read the previous fics.

    So, the first thing that I can say is that I enjoy your writing style a lot. It contains very descriptive language, and the words used kept me engaged in the writing thanks to their complexity and fluidity. Well done on that.

    Now, when it comes to the actual characters, they seem to be well-established and developed, but since I haven't read the prequels I can't fully judge. The personalities of each of the characters from what I can gather are rather interesting, and I like the idea of them all being Pokemon due to a massive plague. However, thanks to my lack of reading the prequel, I am completely stuck on what a kwazai or cryonide is. It seems like when a Pokemon tries to refuse to evolve on their own and it fails, so if I'm correct then you managed to get that across through subtle wording, which I'd say is really good.

    Overall, I'll probably have to read the prequels before carrying on with this so I actually know what's going on, but it seems like a neat concept!
     
  7. Cutlerine

    Cutlerine a lonesome harp guitar

    They're back! There's something great about gigantic story-cycles, isn't there? These first chapters especially, where you're like aha and oh so and aah as characters, plot points and details get picked up again, dusted off and re-introduced for the sake of a new narrative. It's like seeing old friends again, and perhaps better, having old promises renewed, especially with the way you bring back elements from the previous two stories that maybe weren't as fully developed as they could have been.

    Stepping back from the pleasure of rediscovery for a moment, though, I think you strike a good balance between leaning into a reader's presumed previous knowledge of the world and setting everything up afresh for new readers: there's a lot of information conveyed here, because obviously a hell of a lot happened and you need to bring people up to speed somehow, but you manage to pull that off fairly naturally, through dialogue and the emotional pull of the past on Syr. None of it comes across as infodumpy at all, which given the sheer quantity of data you pack into this chapter is really rather remarkable.

    I think part of why it works is that it forms part of the same thrust towards establishing the starting point for this story as the decision to embark on the mission; there's no split between a section that establishes the world and characters, and then a point where the action starts. These two things emerge … I've already said naturally, but it's still the best word so naturally, alongside one another, so that the pacing stays steady and the reader gets neither bogged down in an excess of detail or whisked too quickly along through the opening moves of the plot.

    … this is me taking three hundred words to say something I could have said in two, “Great opening!” so you know, maybe it's time I concluded. Definitely looking forward to another trip through this world!
     
  8. Samayouru

    Samayouru Rabid Dusclops Fan

    *Explodes into room* DO I SEE A NEW SIKE SANER FANFIC?!?!?!? I DOOOOO!!!!!

    *Ahem* My apologies for the spazzing, but I have always thought very fondly of TOoS and its prequel I actually remember reading The Origin of Storms when I was about 13-14 years old and I fell in love with the fanfic and the characters you made. I had always been quite fond of Wobuffett in the anime so seeing a fic where he was the main character was thrilling. Of course I started reading Communication right after finishing TOoS and I liked that one even more, but there were obviously some plot points that I wondered about for a while like where the plague came from, Ren being the only human survivor of said plague and so on and so forth.

    It finally looks like some (if not all) of those questions might just be answered at long last.

    As with many other forum users, I too feel like I am greeting old friends who have definitely changed since we last met. Jen's evolved, and is a far cry from the little Snorunt from TOoS, which I'll admit caught me off guard, and Syr - oh dear lord poor Syr - is still coming to terms with losing two friends he's known for years. It breaks my heart to see him still trying to cope with their deaths after all this time. It was quite interesting seeing him having to juggle between coping with his emotions, his psyche (especially when he sees the two kwazai siblings) and of course being a good father to Jen.

    And then there's Solonn and Grosh, two of my favourite characters from Communication. Oh my god it is so good to see them again after all this time even if their presence isn't all that welcome in Syr's eyes. I'm guessing there's going to be some tension between him and Solonn considering what happened in TOoS. It's like the best of the two previous fanfics coming together to make this fanfic. This was a very enjoyable chapter to start things off - but I do feel that the amount of characters introduced so far might be a bit much for newcomers to the series. Other than that, you've definitely got my attention with this fanfic and I can't wait to see where it goes and what these characters are going to do this time!
     
  9. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner *aromatisse noise*

    Nerdy McNerdface: Yeah I'm very much agreeing at this point that a "this is something of a sequel" note is a very good idea for this thread. So up that'll go once this post is posted.
    And when the next chapter's up (or sooner; the itch to make one is getting stronger every time I think about it :D), it'll come with a link to a sort of mini-pseudo-fakemondex I'll be putting together. It'll have not only the critters from this installment but also the others, which'll hopefully prove useful because, again, this is indeed a sequel. To two stories at once. Double sequel all the way across the sky.

    I should probably mention I haven't been awake very long today and consequently have an especially strong case of the sillies. :B

    Cutlerine: Ok that entire post has got me in Happy Hyperdrive, but there's two things in particular that got me right in the heartish zone with relief bolts (i will reiterate: the sillies. I has them):

    This is definitely one of the big things I was concerned about with this chapter. It's comforting to think I might well and truly have dodged that particular bullet.
    Pacing has long been one of my weak suits by far and I am so, so happy to hear that I might be getting a bit better on that front. ;A;

    Also! The mention of there being no split between the establishing shot and the plot kickoff. I remember actually waffling over whether or not to split them back when this was in its embryonic stages. I'm glad I opted not to. :D

    Samayouru: It will always blow my mind to comtemplate that there have been people reading my stuff and nonsense as young teens and even as kids. It's still easy for me to forget that I've almost been at this whole "telling stories online" thing for as long as I was at the "telling stories offline" thing at this point. Good gravy I'm old. X3

    This certainly was quite the character bomb, wasn't it? Which is kind of an especially disconcerting thought when you consider the sheer mass of some of the pokémon involved. Solonn and Grosh alone constitute more than a ton for heck's sake. I wil say that said characters kind of get divvied up into groups moving forward as a consequence of some of 'em staying put and some setting out. (In other words: yeah, we ain't done with the ones who are staying behind. 8D) Hopefully that'll alleviate the character crush at least a li'l bit.

    Huge, huge thanks to all three of ya. ;w; It's so awesome to see this much response to my latest thingerbobber (and to see all these kind words about previous thingerbobbers omg ;w; ), especially considering, let's face it, I'm STILL something of a nervous wreck whenever I post something new. XD; Y'all put my mind at ease and make me grin something wicked. Thanks a thousand. <3
     
  10. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    Hoo boy, another Sike fic!

    The graveyard scene was awkward, but in a good and emotional kind of awkward you'd expect from a graveyard scene. Reading it, I felt like I was intruding on Syr's private thoughts. At the same time, I really got to feel for his character before we got into the heart of the chapter, which attests to how well written the opening scene was. :D

    Ohhh, there's definitely going to be a showdown or two between Syr and Solonn, I can tell. The tension Syr feels when he's already Solonn is obvious, and it's super cute that he's so protective of Jen. <3 I wonder how Solonn's view of the whole situation has changed since Communication. It's good to know, at least, that Jen's not thinking Solonn's an enemy anymore.

    Heh. I liked this particularly bit of dialogue, and overall, really, the dialogue is spot on. As usual. No surprise there!

    Yeah, I want to see this actually happen. Sounds amusing.

    Now, I haven't read TOoS, but, as you know, I read Communication. So, uh, I recognized some characters and concepts here, but not all. I totally agree with Chibi about you making a character list. For what it's worth, though, the general idea of what's happening and what's going to happen isn't all that hard to follow.
     
  11. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner *aromatisse noise*

    diamondpearl876:
    As odd as it feels to say this, I'm glad to hear it! :D Always good to know I've successfully opened a window into a character's head.

    The character list's a given at this point. :D Whether it'll go up at the same time as the kinda-sorta-pokédex remains to be seen, but yessss.

    Thanks muchly for the read 'n' reply!
     
  12. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    And it's up! It's fantastic to see a new chapterfic from you, especially one that's going to explore some of the loose ends left over from your other stories. I remember being curious about what was up with the deranics and disappointed with how little we got to know about them, so the fact that it looks like they're going to be a major feature in this fanfic is super exciting.

    Of course I'm pleased to see characters from your other stories returning here; you have a great cast to work with. In particular I really like Syr, so the fact that he's going to be the (or at least a) protagonist is great. Karo's another familiar face I'm especially happy to see return.

    This chapter is pretty into-y, mostly laying out the situation and introducing the major characters. I imagine the next one is where we'll start getting into the meat of the plot and the bottom of all the mysteries. The mention of anti-human sentiment at the end of the chapter is ominous, although honestly I wouldn't mind if they ran into some, heh. I think it's a really cool perspective to explore, like, of course if humans were to vanish off the face of the earth, there would be at least some pokémon that would be happy to see them go. That's territory that not many stories even have the option of exploring, so if this one is going to go there it'd be really neat.

    Welcome back to chapterficcing, and I hope your writing's been going well. Reading this got me all nostalgic, thinking of, what, 2005, 2006? It's crazy to see a sequel to The Origin of Storms and Communication appear after all this time, but really cool as well.
     
  13. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner *aromatisse noise*

    Negrek: Can confirm: there are definitely pokémon who don't miss humanity in the very least. Mostly wilds, I would imagine, though I'm sure there's also a fair number of them who had shitty trainers and probably disrespected the actual frick outta their corpses.

    It is... mindboggling in the best way to consider that this is the first time I'm debuting anything chaptered in literally more than a decade. I'm glad I can still practice my silly old habits--and yeah, it's been rad, writing like this again. :D

    Thanks for the read and reply!
     
  14. jirachiman876

    jirachiman876 The King of Kirby

    Well, Sike. I think I should finally read one of your chaptered fics. Though I may have started with the wrong one.
    I know nothing of the previous fics, so I don't know the characters and the fakemon so much. But a little bit of the description did help me picture them a bit which was nice. It will be interesting to see how these Deranics fit into the story. What they are and what they want. I'm sure we'll get these answers as the fic progresses which will be nice.
    I did get a feel (to me at least) that we started kind of in the middle of things going on. One example would be all these characters being introduced by name and then after a little bit we get some description on who they are and what they are. Also, we're introduced to what feels like 10 characters all at once. Now I know people who have read the fics preceding this know pretty much everything about them and I'm sure us new readers will soon. But it felt a little overwhelming to me. Now I know at the end we cut a couple characters and are only going to deal with a couple which will help a bit I'm sure.
    I'm also hoping we'll get more on how the mechanics work in your world you've built. I see that nobody wants to evolve into a Glalie for a certain reason and we have a new Pokemon that evolves from Snorunt that isn't Froslass. I like the concept and everything, I just we hope we get a little more about it for us new readers who haven't caught up yet.
    I do love your description though. It's pretty much one of my favorite things about certain authors. (If anybody remembers Ryano Ra from way back when knows what I mean). Anyway, back on topic, the description really set the mood of this world. Some kind of apocalypse type of event happened and it's got everybody in a tense state. The way you describe things really flows too. It's easy to get caught up in all of it and just transport yourself there.
    I hope to keep reading things and catch up to everyone else who is very excited for this to come out. I'm excited I get to read something current by the famous Sike. So I'm happy to be here.
    jirachiman out ;385;
     
  15. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner *aromatisse noise*

    jirachiman876: Regarding the character bomb and the fakemon, I've got some news you might like. Be warned, though: what follows might be slightly spoilery with regards to other stories set in this universe.

    Anyway!

    Here's the character list:

    Included are all the characters who appear or are mentioned in the first chapter.

    Syr
    Arbok
    Former Rocket pokémon. Out to solve a years-old mystery, and perhaps save lives in the process, as per the dying wishes of an old friend.

    Esaax Evergray
    Kwazai
    Formerly another Rocket pokémon, and formerly a wobbuffet. Duped into an unstable evolution by someone who’d hoped to use his new form’s power to raise the dead. Deceased.

    Faurur ursh Nanku
    Weezing
    Another former Rocket pokémon. Enslaved along with her colony by the deranics. Escaped to warn her friends about them with her dying breaths. Deceased.

    Drasigon ursh Nanku-Evergray
    Koffing
    Daughter of Esaax and Faurur. Victim of spontaneous combustion at just four days old. Deceased.

    Jen
    Cryonide
    Syr’s adopted son. Having been subjected to irreversible memory modification, much about his past remains uncertain. Recently reunited with members of his old family.

    Ren Bridges
    Human
    Once an Apex League gym leader, now the last of his species. Thinks he knows who’s to blame for humanity’s extinction and wants to stop them from wiping out any other species, as well as to make them pay.

    Ekunasic Karo
    Nosepass
    Part of Ren’s team. Cannot and will not let his friends head off into a dangerous situation without him.

    Babs
    Greninja
    Part of Ren’s team. Watching the house while the rest of the team’s away, and investigating the strange device that had held her trainer captive while she’s at it.

    Acheron
    Kwazai
    A member of Ren’s team. Demi’s twin brother, in a manner of speaking. Lending his psychic senses, strength, and dark-type firepower to the defense of the last surviving human being and his allies.

    Demi
    Kwazai
    Another member of Ren’s team, and Acheron’s brother. Lending her psychic senses, strength, and healing abilities to the defense of the last human being on the planet and the pokémon at his sides.

    Anomaly
    Nullshade
    Formerly a ditto, and a shiny hunter of sorts. Lost their collection and went berserk upon being corrupted by a sentient elemental surge. Currently held captive by Ren, to be called upon only as a last resort.

    Sylvester DeLeo
    Meowth
    Former Rocket pokémon. Misses humanity dearly. More to the point, misses two human beings in particular, so desperately that it led to a failed attempt to obtain the power of resurrection that wound up costing the life of yet another friend. Currently incarcerated.

    Solonn Zgil-Al
    Glalie
    Jen’s half-brother. Trying to reunite him with his stolen past, insofar as that’s possible at this point. Looking after him (and thus, by extension, looking after Ren’s house) while Syr is away.

    Grosh Argrosh
    Steelix
    Solonn’s father. Devoted to the safety of his son, as well as that of his son’s younger half-brother; helping to guard Ren’s house as a direct result of this.

    And here's the fakedex:

    Kwazai (male)
    Brooding Pokémon
    Type: psychic/dark
    Average height: 8’1’’
    Average weight: 294 lbs.
    Evolution: wobbuffet (male) + eclipse stone -> kwazai (male)
    Ability: shadow tag
    Appearance: A large quadruped with elongated waist, neck, limbs, and tail. Legs end in featureless pods; arms end in large, four-fingered hands. The tail ends in a bulb ringed by four psychic sense organs resembling eyes. The head is saurian, with a long, fleshy crest extending back over the neck, and jaws filled with sharp teeth. Maintains the wobbuffet color scheme: sky blue apart from the black tail. Shiny form is fuchsia rather than blue.

    Kwazai (female)
    Empath Pokémon
    Type: psychic
    Average height: 6’10’’
    Average weight: 118 lbs.
    Evolution: wobbuffet (female) + eclipse stone -> kwazai (female)
    Ability: synchronize
    Appearance: A tall, four-armed biped with elongated limbs and waist. Legs end in featureless pods; arms end in large, four-fingered hands. The tail splits into four branches partway up its length, each of which bears a large, psychic sense organ resembling an eye. The head is humanoid, with a pointed crest extending up and backward from the back of the skull, and a mouth filled with sharp teeth. Maintains the wobbuffet color scheme: sky blue apart from the black tail. Shiny form is fuchsia rather than blue.

    Drathlon
    Warrior Pokémon
    Type: dragon/fighting
    Average height: 5'11’’
    Average weight: 216 lbs.
    Evolution: none
    Ability: pure power
    Appearance: A bipedal, humanoid dragon. The hands and feet are clawed and have five digits each. Spiky, red-and-black fins run along the length of the neck, back, and tail, arms, and legs. Most of the body is forest green, while the throat, chest, stomach, and eyes are yellow. Shiny form replaces the green with bright yellow/orange, the yellow with acid green, and the red with cobalt blue.

    Emyril
    Guardian Pokémon
    Type: rock/dragon
    Average length: 14'10’’
    Average weight: 1,654 lbs.
    Evolution: none; revived from crest fossil
    Ability: diamond scale (doubles defense)
    Appearance: A stocky, wingless, ceratopian dragon. Quadrupedal, with four stubby toes to each foot. The tail is short and the head is large, with five wide, flat horns protruding from the frill at the back of the skull. The mouth is beaklike and the eyes are tiny, luminous, and bloodred. The body is a brilliant emerald green, with lemon yellow, diamond-shaped osteoderms running along the sides. Shiny form is deep ochre, with osteoderms of such a pale yellow that they’re nearly white, and the eyes glow sky blue.

    Aurcent
    Centaur Pokémon
    Type: fighting
    Average height: 3'4"
    Average weight: 70 lbs.
    Evolution: aurcent + lv. 20 (if attack is less than speed) -> aurrow; + lv. 20 (if attack and speed are equal) -> aurrade; +lv. 20 (if attack is greater than speed) -> aurrail
    Ability: moxie, rivalry, quick feet (hidden)
    Appearance: A small centaur with golden fur covering the lower body and tail and beige fur covering the upper body. The hooves are black. The ears are pointed and the eyes are brown and somewhat large. There is no visible nose. The tail is short, and the hands have three fingers each. Shiny form is cobalt blue, with a lighter blue upper body.

    Aurrow
    Bow Pokémon
    Type: fighting/steel
    Average height: 6'3"
    Average weight: 492 lbs.
    Evolution: aurcent + lv. 20 (if attack is less than speed) = aurrow
    Ability: battle armor, light metal (hidden)
    Appearance: A centaur covered in gold-covered armor. The skin between the plates is gray. The “helmet” has a single bladelike protrusion extending backward from the top of the head, with hinged plates covering the mouth most of the time. The eyes are bright blue, and the hooves are black. The tail is a horse’s tail, covered in long, golden hair. The bow, when summoned, is made of silver light. Shiny aurrow are cobalt blue, with red eyes. Heavily based on these recurring enemies from the original Phantasy Star tetralogy.

    Aurrade
    Blade Pokémon
    Type: fighting/steel
    Average height: 6'2"
    Average weight: 505 lbs
    Evolution: aurcent + lv. 20 (if attack and speed are equal) -> aurrade
    Ability: battle armor, light metal (hidden)
    Appearance: A centaur covered in gold-colored armor. What skin can be seen between the plates is gray. The “helmet” has two bladelike protrusions at the sides that stick out in a V-shape and hinged plates that cover the mouth most of the time. The hooves are black and the eyes are bright green. The tail is like a horse’s and covered in long, golden hair. The sword, when summoned, is made of silver light. Shiny form has cobalt blue armor and purple eyes. Heavily based on these recurring enemies from the original Phantasy Star tetralogy.

    Aurrail
    Flail Pokémon
    Type: fighting/steel
    Average height: 6'0"
    Average weight: 511 lbs.
    Evolution: aurcent + lv. 20 (if attack is greater than speed) -> aurrail
    Ability: battle armor, light metal (hidden)
    Appearance: A centaur covered in gold-colored armor. The skin visible between the plates is gray. The “helmet” has three bladelike protrusions: one short one sticking up at the top, two longer ones sticking out to either side. Hinged plates cover the mouth at nearly all times. The hooves are black and the eyes are bright yellow. The tail is like a horse’s, with long, golden hair. The flail, when summoned, is made of silver light. Shiny form has cobalt blue armor and pink eyes. Heavily based on these recurring enemies from the original Phantasy Star tetralogy.

    Mercirance
    Wandering Pokémon
    Type: normal/ghost
    Average height: 5'0"
    Average weight: 99 lbs.
    Evolution: none
    Ability: healer, triage, scrappy (hidden)
    Appearance: A lanky, red-furred biped with a hairless, opossum-like tail. The face is also hairless and resembles a long-snouted skull. A stringy black mane grows from a long, low-slung neck. The fingers are spindly and the feet are rodentlike. The eyes are bright yellow. Shiny mercirance are blue with a bit more of a greenish tint to their eyes.

    Sylvaery
    Wood Sprite Pokémon
    Type: grass/fairy
    Average height: 2'1"
    Average weight: 35 lbs.
    Evolution: sylvaery + level up (while holding a dire thorn) -> mystorne
    Ability: pixilate
    Appearance: A small, two-armed biped with limbs that end in three wispy, vinelike tendrils each. There is a small, white blossom sprouting from the center of the forehead, with a row of tiny green thorns lining the brows, shins, and forearms. The skin has a barklike texture and an olive green complexion, and the eyes are lime green and luminous. Shiny form has a purple blossom and pink eyes.

    Mystorne
    Dryad Pokémon
    Type: grass/fairy
    Average height: 4'10"
    Average weight: 80 lbs.
    Evolution: sylvaery + level up (while holding a dire thorn) -> mystorne
    Ability: poison power (takes no damage and attack stat rises one stage when hit by a damaging poison-type attack)
    Appearance: A four-armed biped with branchlike limbs. The hands and feet end in three twiglike claws each. Green thorns line the brows, forearms, and shins, and there are three horns sprouting from the forehead. A spray of countless, tiny white flowers grows from the back of the head, somewhat resembling hair. The skin is barklike and olive green. The eyes are large, lime green, and luminous. Shiny form has purple “hair” and pink eyes.

    Cryonide
    Black Ice Pokémon
    Type: ice/poison
    Average length: 15'9"
    Average weight: 460 lbs.
    Evolution: snorunt (Rannian ancestry) + level up (while holding a dire thorn) -> cryonide
    Ability: poison point, moody (hidden)
    Appearance: A largely serpentlike pokémon with a two-armed, humanoid upper body. There are three horns on the head, as well as two pairs of long blades on the back, curved spikes on the chest, and small barbs along the length of the tail. The typical ice-crushing teeth are accompanied by fanged, venomous mandibles at the sides of the mouth. Each hand ends in six oversized claws. The ice armor is black; the exposed skin, dark gray; the eyes, a luminous yellow. Shiny form has midnight blue skin under black armor, and the eyes glow orange.

    Nullshade
    Undoing Pokémon
    Type: typeless
    Average height: 6'9"
    Average weight: 0.3 lbs.
    Evolution: none; formed via a permanent corruption of a pokémon that knows transform
    Ability: antitype (all the user’s damaging attacks have a x2 multiplier regardless of the target’s types; all damaging attacks suffered by the user have a x2 multiplier regardless of the attack's type and the attacker’s types)
    Appearance: A vaguely humanoid specter made of gray, lightless “fire”. The hands have four long, thin fingers each. The body tapers off into a ghost-tail; there are no legs. The eyes are blank white. The face is otherwise featureless. The “flames” rise higher on the head and shoulders, especially the former. Shiny form is white, with black eyes.

    Glad you're happy to be here, and thanks for the read 'n' reply!
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2018
  16. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner *aromatisse noise*

    Chapter 2 – Adjusting


    Off in the distance, the treeline loomed. The forest proper was still minutes away, but from the looks of things, it was intent on expanding its borders. Houses and shops here were largely abandoned, no clear sign of pokémon activity save for the occasional smeargle scribble, but they couldn’t be called dead. Vegetation covered the walls, spilling out of the broken windows.

    Some part of Syr idly wondered if the entire city might one day look like this, and he supposed he wouldn’t mind too much if it did.

    The sun had been down for an hour or so when he and his teammates had left home. There was only the occasional working streetlight shining on them as they headed for the woods. If anyone were hiding in the shadows, if anyone were watching, they’d only see a roughly five-foot-tall figure in an oversized gray hoodie, their face obscured. The shape might stir some memories, some suspicions, but it would be hard to be sure what one was looking at with a large, hooded serpent and a tall, many-limbed creature at the figure’s sides, partially obscuring the view.

    Not that Ren really expected to go the entire distance unnoticed. Nor did he expect he could truly convince anyone and everyone that he was actually a ditto. According to him, ditto had to absorb a few of a target’s cells in order to transform into them in their absence. Many people weren’t aware of this, but there was always the chance that they’d run into someone who was.

    No one else in the party expected differently, either. Sooner or later, someone would recognize what was in their midst.

    “At least I can say I did something,” Ren had said.

    Before long, they finally reached the forest. Darkness swallowed them up very quickly, at which they moved into single file. Demi led the way, her eyes allowing her to see as if in broad daylight, her other, stranger senses combing the trees and brush for anything that moved or breathed or felt. One of her arms was twisted backward in a way that might’ve hurt some other creature, holding hands with her trainer. Ren, in turn, held the end of a belt, which was knotted to another belt, which was knotted to a third. The last pair of these was tied around Syr’s chest.

    The arbok was grateful. He could smell just fine, could feel the footsteps ahead of him, had a vague sense of his teammates’ body heat. Strictly speaking, he could’ve followed those alone. He wouldn’t have lost track of the others. But seeing as he couldn’t exactly see, he might have plowed face-first into a tree, or gotten himself snared in a bramble. This way, neither he nor Ren would go anywhere Demi wouldn’t.

    The evening was quiet, save for a breeze stirring the branches. Last time Syr had been in the area, the ninjask had been out and singing in full force. He didn’t exactly miss the racket, but the near-silence was putting him on edge.

    He thought he heard a noise, something cracking off to his left. “What was that?” he asked automatically.

    “No one,” Demi answered, just as she had the time before. “We’re fine, Syr,” she assured him. “If anyone tries to start something with us, they’re the ones who’ll be in trouble.”

    “Yeah… yeah, you’re right.” Gym pokémon, he reminded himself. Kwazai followed of its own volition, with the related memories. He knew what her kind could do. Knew, and wished he didn’t.

    Hours passed without incident. A few more possibly-imagined noises cropped up, but Syr held his tongue. They’ll deal with it, he reminded himself. And so will you. He wasn’t helpless. He tried to keep that in mind rather than linger on the fact that he’d been utterly useless the last time he’d been in a fight.

    No one’s going to use sheer cold on you. Most of the glalie went home.

    “Anyone else getting tired?” Ren spoke up, interrupting that train of thought on its third or fourth go-around.

    “Nope, not even close,” Demi said, but she stopped walking all the same.

    “I… guess I’m not?” Syr realized he actually hadn’t been paying much attention to his own physical state. He flexed from neck to tail—nothing complained. “Yeah, I’m fine.”

    “Right. I suppose this is what I get for being a nightsleeper this past couple of days,” Ren mused aloud.

    “You needed the sleep,” Demi told him. “You’d already gone long enough without it.” She turned on the spot. “Shall I?”

    “Yes,” Ren said, “and thanks.”

    The next thing Syr knew, the belts around his chest were being tugged from a couple of feet higher. When Demi set off again, her footsteps alone resonated through the forest floor.

    The three of them carried on in this fashion for a little while longer. Just as Syr was beginning to feel like maybe he could use a break himself, Demi stopped again, and when he tried to look past her he could see why.

    A short distance ahead, the forest stopped rather abruptly. So, it seemed, did the ground. Syr frowned; had they gone the wrong way? He moved forward a bit for a better look, peering down… and saw relatively flat stone just eight, maybe ten feet down. Oh. Here was a place he’d actually never seen before, a place Ren hadn’t seen fit to mention when he’d gone over the route they’d take. Which, Syr supposed, meant it wasn’t really an obstacle.

    He saw Ren drop the end of their makeshift tether, and in the next moment, Demi jumped off the edge, still holding the human in her arms, landing gracefully on her feet. She moved out of the way, then nodded toward Syr, at which the arbok let himself half-drop, half-slide down the slightly-sloping wall.

    Demi made to pick up the end of the tether; but, “Hey, uh…” Syr said. The kwazai paused, slowly straightening back up. “Do you think we could take a break here for a little while? It’s, well. Starting to catch up to me,” he admitted, by which he meant more than the distance.

    “We sure can.” Ren craned his neck back to look Demi in the eyes and pointed groundward; she set him down at her feet. Once he was on solid ground again, he unfastened the belts around Syr’s chest.

    “Just as well,” Demi said. “Another dinner sounds good right about now.” She gazed off into the nearby bushes. “Wanna come with?” she asked Syr.

    It took him a beat to realize what she was getting at. “Oh no, that’s fine. I’m not hungry.” He was thankful he’d fed within the past couple of weeks. He’d seen things recently that could easily kill his appetite if it tried to pipe up anytime soon.

    They played across his mind again as he thought on the matter: a blackened corpse and bloodstained walls. Scattered stone, with chilling mist hanging heavily on the air. Sapphire pools spreading around an old friend.

    Syr hissed, drawing in upon himself. No, he did not want to hunt right now. And he didn’t particularly want to watch anyone else do it, either. Especially since many hunters—kwazai included, from what he’d seen—preferred to devour their prey in pieces.

    Demi merely shrugged in response, then strode off under the moonlight, eventually vanishing back into the vegetation. Syr watched her go, then turned his sights back toward Ren. The human was now sitting a couple of feet away, riffling through his backpack.

    Getting his mind on some other topic felt like a very good idea right about then. “Hey,” Syr spoke up again. Ren looked up at him, his face shadowed by his hood. Syr realized all at once that he didn’t actually know what to talk about, so he just said the first thing that came to mind. “…Thanks again for coming with me.”

    “Mm,” Ren said, with a dismissive little wave. He took a swig from his canteen. There was some sort of filter built into the thing, according to him, something that’d allow him to drink from any source along the way. A filter of his own design, apparently, adapted and improved from the models they used to sell at poké marts. “I could just as easily thank you for coming along with me. This business down south concerns me just as much as it concerns you.”

    Syr didn’t respond at first, but then nodded in agreement. It was true for certain if they were right about the deranics.

    Silence hovered for a minute or two. Then, “How long have you known?” Ren asked quietly.

    “Wh…” Syr’s brow furrowed in puzzlement. “Known what?”

    “About the deranics,” Ren said. “About what they did.”

    The puzzlement increased. “I already told you, though. They came before the Extinction, and…” Oh. Of course. Syr sighed. “All these years, I thought the only things they’d done were to enslave Faurur and the koffing and force us to leave the area. Maybe I just didn’t want to imagine that they could’ve done even more than that. I don’t know.

    “Then she came back, and… Ren, that was just earlier this week. And a lot’s happened since then.” He had to stop and stare incredulously at nothing in particular in the wake of such an understatement. “I just found out about the whole… Seterhath Zulo-Denvenda thing—” Right… that’s what she called it. “—and I haven’t really had much time to think about it.”

    He bowed his head. “I’m sorry,” he added; it had just seemed prudent.

    Ren’s hand went to his forehead, burying itself under his hood. “It’s fine. I just… wanted to make sure.” His own head lowered; Syr could see nothing of the human’s face now. A sigh hissed against his palm. “This has just been so damn much to take in.”

    “It has,” Syr agreed solemnly. He thought to say something more, but nothing came to mind. “It has,” he merely repeated, and for uncounted minutes after, neither of them said anything else.

    Eventually there was a rustling in the brush nearby. Syr immediately turned to face it and saw Demi returning to the clearing. He was vaguely relieved to find not a single speck of blood or gore anywhere on her person. Either she was a very tidy hunter or else she’d thought to wash up afterward.

    The kwazai looked both him and Ren over for a moment, a frown slowly forming on her face. Then she stopped in front of them, dropped into an odd sort of kneel, and gathered both of them up into a hug.

    Syr initially stiffened in surprise, but soon relaxed. Closing his eyes, he laid his head on her shoulder, unable to stop the tears from flowing. He tried to speak, but his breath hitched in his throat. The sentiment sounded in his mind all the same.

    Thank you.

    * * *​

    The sun was finally rising, sparkling on the surface of the river that flowed to their right. Demi was already grumbling under her breath about it. Soon, they’d need to camp for the day. It was just a matter of finding a suitable place.

    “There should be a little cave around here somewhere,” Ren said, on his own feet again as he searched the surrounding area. “I spent the night in there once while I was making my way through Hoenn. It ought to…”

    He trailed off. Syr followed his gaze and moved in for a closer look. There was an unnaturally symmetrical hole at ground level in the eastern cliff, the cavern beyond too dark to see into. “Is this it?” he asked.

    Ren didn’t answer. Didn’t say anything at all for a couple of moments. Then, “Demi? Light it up.”

    The human got out of her way; Syr figured he’d better do likewise and coiled off to the side. Demi approached the hole in the wall and folded her legs again, then extended a hand into the darkened space. A psybeam lanced from her open palm with a faint hum, filling the cavern with colorful light, pouring harmlessly into the far wall.

    “Oh…” Ren said weakly.

    It wasn’t a cavern. The space was too perfectly-shaped to have occurred naturally. No, this was a room, and it was filled with human-style furniture. It was hard to make out all the details past the dust and plantlife covering everything, but it looked simplistic. Cheerful. Like something out of a human child’s room. A moldy-looking lapras plush sat in one corner, its neck limp and doubled over.

    He looked back at Ren and found him trembling again. The human’s dark eyes were wide and shining with tears. The room was vacant, but he looked upon it as if a ghost were staring back at him.

    “This isn’t it, is it?” Syr asked quietly. He rather hoped it wasn’t, for Ren’s sake.

    “No,” Demi answered, and she cut off the psybeam. “No it’s not.” She put a couple of arms around her trainer and shepherded him away from the hole in the wall.

    It wasn’t long before they found the actual cave Ren had been referring to. Silently, the human waved Demi in first to see if anyone had claimed the cavern since he’d last been there. She walked back out a couple of minutes later, giving a thumbs-up.

    “Okay,” Ren said, then recalled her into her dusk ball. He let Karo out in her stead.

    The nosepass stared upstream for a moment after he emerged, then turned to face the cave. “Ah. This place again.”

    Ren nodded. “We’re stopping here til sundown. I need you to block anyone who tries to join us.”

    “Can do,” Karo said proudly, parking himself at the cave’s entrance.

    Syr didn’t doubt him in the least. Judging by what Karo had told him about the battle that had left him in pieces, the nosepass had recently gained a lot of proficiency in the block technique.

    That’s all he’ll do, the arbok tried to assure himself. Maybe a zap cannon, if it comes to that, he conceded. There’d be no explosion this time.

    The cave was dark, almost nothing of the early sunlight spilling into it. But Ren was undeterred; apparently he knew its layout well enough to navigate without light, even after all this time. Syr heard the human stop after just a few steps, then felt the belts fall off once again. A moment later, he heard a rustling of canvas.

    “Good night,” Ren said once he’d finished fussing with his sleeping bag. The fact that he was saying such a thing after sunrise didn’t seem to cross his mind.

    Syr didn’t have the heart to correct him, all things considered. “Good night,” he responded, curling up on the floor next to the human.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2018
  17. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    Man, has it been a month already? Awesome!

    I have to say that the discovery of the secret base was the highlight of the chapter for me. What a great, sad moment to highlight how much the world has changed and how much has been lost as a result of the transformation it's gone through (possibly because of the deranics!). All in all this was a surprisingly solemn, sad chapter for just the second in the story. I don't know if that's going to be more the tone of this story overall, but it was another reminder of the heavy stuff these characters are just coming out of (and how much they still have to go through, I'm sure!)

    I also liked the contrast between Demi and Syr this chapter. Like Syr notes, she's a gym pokémon, so she's much more confident and assured of her abilities. Syr's always been a much more nervous character, and that's another thing that I'm sure the events of Origin of Storms hasn't helped with.

    Other than that, not much to say. This is a transitional chapter more than anything, getting the characters from one place to the other. It's the emotional dimension that makes this one interesting, the walk allowing time for some (unwelcome) reflection on past events. Looking forward to seeing what happens next!
     
  18. Cutlerine

    Cutlerine a lonesome harp guitar

    A bit of a quieter chapter this time around, but after the enormous amount of information that you gave us in the first chapter, I think that's probably what was needed – a chance to slim down the numbers a little, get some conversations going and start establishing characters and relationships. And you do it very well, too; the silences and pauses have a kind of introspective, anxious weight, where Syr tries to speak and fails, or where everyone fails to find anything to say; you get a strong sense of Syr's concerns and anxious internal monologue; and there's this powerful feeling of how humanity's collapse weighs on Ren himself, especially in that scene with the child's room.

    That itself is a great little touch, by the way: I'm assuming it's an abandoned secret base, stuck into a cliff as it is, and that's a fantastic idea. Is it based on any particular in-game base? I'm going to admit, secret bases are a mechanic I love in principle but never use in reality, so my memories of where they're located are all very much less than perfect.

    Relatively little plot as yet, so I think I'll hold off on commenting on that for now; it feels like this story is still sorta establishing itself and setting stuff up, as I mentioned earlier, and I think that that's a sensible choice. Still, with all this juicy mystery and drama floating around, you've definitely got a good start going on here. Looking forward to what comes next!
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2017
  19. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner *aromatisse noise*

    Negrek: Months fly, don't they?

    (How I managed to avoid typing "moths", we'll never know.)

    I think the secret base bit's my favorite part of the chapter, as well. It wasn't even planned, just a hey, what if they found a _____? that popped into my head once they were already on the road, so to speak. The immediate answer to that was "at least one of them would take it Badly", and so of course up went my devil horns. >8D

    Demi's fun to write. :D And people like her, having somewhat more of their **** together than Syr has, do have a nice added side effect of making him all the more fun to write in turn.

    Cutlerine: Silence is wonderfully loud sometimes. :D I always enjoy leaving characters at a loss for words.

    Iirc, the secret base has no exact in-game parallel. It didn't even cross my mind to check before I wrote the scene--that's how hard it was to resist writing it. :D Here after the fact, I figure it works either way. Maybe it wasn't an established secret base location, and Ren was genuinely caught off-guard by the mere fact it existed at all. Maybe it was, but the kid who'd claimed it had done so at some point after Ren had last been in the area. OR, maybe it was, and he knew about it, and it was morbid curiosity that compelled him to look inside even though the more rational parts of his mind were probably urging him not to.


    Thanks to both of you for the read 'n' reply--glad you're enjoying the show thus far! :D
     
  20. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner *aromatisse noise*

    Chapter 3 – Wait It Out


    No matter where he looked, Syr could only see two colors. Everything was charred a flat black, and a good portion of it all was dusted in powdery, light gray ash. Then something bright yellow walked into view, stepping around the debris surprisingly well for something with such short legs. Jen,Syr recognized. His son. A snorunt…

    …Except no, he wasn’t a snorunt, Syr eventually remembered. Not anymore. That was when Syr realized he was dreaming and, by extension, that he’d actually managed to fall asleep.

    Sleep… had been hard-won, even by the standards of the past few days. Syr remembered staring into the shadows for quite some time, struggling to keep his eyes closed and his mind quiet. He needed his rest for what lay ahead; he knew as much. It was just hard to get, what with the memories of his most recent nightmares.

    This time, at least as far as he could recall, he’d been lucky. No blood, red or blue or any other color. No bestial roars or cries of agony. No stench of the newly dead. Just his poor old burnt-out house. It was downright cheerful compared to the last few dreams.

    Syr would’ve nodded off again, as a matter of fact, if it hadn’t been for the loud, shrill voice at his back.

    “Hey! HEY! The heck are you doing in there; this is mine, mine!”

    Groaning, Syr lifted his head. A look back at the cave’s entrance showed him nothing but Karo, still standing guard, and the cliffs and vegetation beyond.

    “Get out, get out, you stupid boulder!” the newcomer shouted. Syr could hear and feel a series of light thuds as the creature spoke; apparently she was hopping up and down in her rage.

    “Hmm…” Karo rocked back and forth on his stumpy legs a couple of times. “…Nah.”

    The unseen visitor gasped. “Ooh, now you’ve done it. Now you’ve done it! I’m gonna—” Do nothing, as it happened; Karo had his block field up, and nothing was getting in past the invisible barrier without a hell of a fight. As it stood, the newcomer merely smacked into the empty air with a noise as if she’d hit a wall. But the failed entry accomplished something, at least. It brought a strange, jagged red line into view, seemingly hovering in midair.

    Oh. Syr had heard that this area was kecleon territory, though he’d never actually seen one about. Apparently it still was.

    The arbok finally lifted his upper body off the ground and began moving toward the kecleon. He noticed Ren stirring as he slithered—She doesn’t need to see him, Syr decided quickly, and mindfully blocked off any view of the human with his coils and hood.

    “…Wait a minute, how many of you lousy squatters are there?” the kecleon asked. “Augh, this is ridiculous. All of you, get out—ack!” A little burst of electricity, aimed at nothing in particular, had startled her right out of her near-invisibility.

    “Go on,” Karo said. His nose was still glowing faintly. “Shoo. We’ll come out when we’re good and ready.”

    The kecleon stared at him indignantly for a moment, hands clutched into tight, scaly fists. “No, you’ll get the heck out of my home right this instant!”

    “Hold on.” Syr came to a stop next to Karo, his tongue flicking out for an especially long taste of the air. He met the kecleon’s gaze, or tried to; her eyes, swiveling independently, kept darting around. Following them was a bit dizzying. “If this is your home, why doesn’t it smell like a kecleon’s been living here?”

    The kecleon huffed, plainly flustered. “Because I bathe!”

    Syr shook his head. Her hygiene was irrelevant, and not only because he doubted the river could wash all of her scent off. “If you lived here, Demi would’ve picked up on it somehow.”

    “Demi?” The kecleon strained to see past Syr’s hood, to no avail. “Don’t tell me there’s even more of you…” Both eyes turned toward Karo. “…Unless that’s Demi.”

    “Bzzt, wrong!” Karo’s nose lit up again, brighter this time. “But here, have a consolation prize.”

    The zap cannon didn’t actually hit anyone, as far as Syr could tell. Generally speaking, people saw that attack coming from miles away and got out of the way if they could, and the kecleon was no exception. He could hear her scurrying away through the bushes outside once the ringing in his ears had stopped.

    Karo turned around to face Ren, nose held high in pride. “See? Told you I’d keep ’em out.”

    “Didn’t doubt it for a second,” Ren said. He stood, his backpack in hand. “Now let’s get out of here in case she comes back with reinforcements. It’s nearly sundown anyway.”

    “I’ll take your word for it, I guess,” Syr said. The clouds were thicker and darker than ever; he was a little surprised it wasn’t already pouring.

    As if it already were, “Yeah, no, I’m not walking in that,” Karo said. He turned and started waddling back toward Ren. Light spilled out of his capture ball and drew him in before he got very far.

    “After you, then,” Ren said, waving the arbok onward.

    With a slightly delayed nod, Syr faced forward once more and slithered out into the open air. A moment later, Acheron materialized next to him. Syr realized he was already starting to inch away from the kwazai and forced himself to stop, but his upward stare lingered.

    If Acheron noticed, he didn’t show it. His gaze swept over his surroundings, his tail waving lazily. He licked his lips. “Hmm. The coast is clear, far as I’m aware.”

    “Good.” Ren emerged, wearing his pack once more.

    Now that the human was back in the light, Syr could see the bags under his eyes. The arbok gave him a pitying frown. Surely an all-nighter spent on the road had tired the human out—hadn’t he gotten any sleep at all?

    Ren didn’t seem to notice the look on Syr’s face as he uncoiled the belt-tether. He wrapped it around the arbok, same as he’d done the evening before, and with that, they were off.

    The last of the daylight faded, and the clouds finally burst. In no time, the ground was soft. Ren prodded one of Acheron’s already-muddy legs; “He’s definitely strong enough to pull himself out of the mud if he gets stuck,” Ren explained as the kwazai crouched to pick him up. “I might not be.”

    “I know,” Syr said without meaning to. The arbok could guess Acheron’s strength just fine. Even without evolving, wobbuffet were physically stronger than they had any right being, for all the good it did them. “…I don’t mean you’re weak; I mean…”

    “I know what you mean,” Ren said. “It’s okay.”

    Do you? Syr wondered, but kept the question to himself.

    The three continued southward, with a sheer dropoff into the river not too far to their side all the while. He’s keeping us from going over, Syr told himself in an effort to dispel some of his unease around the kwazai. The heights weren’t an issue; Syr hadn’t been afraid of falling in and of itself for a long time. But the river ran fast, churned up all the more by the heavy rainfall and burgeoning winds. Getting swept away and bashed into rocks was a very real possibility.

    That possibility loomed all the larger as they approached a rather long log bridge. It looked sturdy enough, anchored in such a way that it didn’t sway in the slightest… but there were no guard rails, not even so much as a rope to lean against. As far as he could remember, it had always been this way, nothing to either side of him as he’d crossed it en route to Convergence all those years ago. But the weather had been a lot milder then. Now the logs were damp—possibly slick—and either he was imagining things, or the wind was picking up by the minute.

    Acheron trusted a single pod to the bridge, leaning into it. Maybe it creaked under his weight. Maybe it didn’t. The noise of the downpour made it impossible to be sure either way. At any rate, the kwazai looked back, nodded at Syr, and continued forward with apparent confidence.

    Strapped to the rest of the party as he was, Syr had little choice but to follow. Already squinting against the rain in his eyes, he shut them altogether for a moment as the wind howled past. His muscles tensed of their own accord, and he hissed through his teeth. It’s safe, it’s safe, it’s safe, he tried to assure himself. “It’s safe…”

    “It’s safe,” Acheron confirmed, speaking loudly over the rain.

    Syr might’ve been more surprised to learn he’d begun saying it aloud if he weren’t so focused on the weather. “I’m not so sure,” he admitted.

    As if to underscore his doubt, thunder rumbled in the distance. A flash off to the south caught Syr’s eye, and the thunder sounded again.

    “…Hm. I think,” Ren said, half-shouting over the noise of the storm, “we need to pick up the pace.”

    “Right,” Acheron agreed, and looked back toward Syr again. “Get ready to scoot.”

    That was all the warning the kwazai gave before taking off at a gallop. Syr gave a strangled yelp as the tether yanked him forward, pulling himself back upright a beat later. Keeping up with Acheron at full speed was harder than he’d expected; the arbok was already panting, and the logs were bumping along under his belly so hard now that he was sure it’d leave bruises.

    He was all the more relieved when they finally left the bridge behind—at least for a short time. Then lightning blinded him for seconds on end, and the accompanying thunder cracked so loudly and suddenly that he thought he felt his heart stop.

    “We need shelter, now!” Ren said.

    Acheron kept on running, and through the rain that stung his eyes, Syr noticed that the kwazai was headed for something that looked an awful lot like a solid stone wall. Hurtling toward it. Syr panicked in spite of himself, struggling against the tether, and shouted when a hollow roar sounded over the storm.

    “You can open your eyes now,” Ren said.

    Syr did so, only realizing then that he’d shut them. He looked up and saw the human slung over one of Acheron’s shoulders. The kwazai was standing stock still with his free hand extended, and…

    Syr promptly looked away. He didn’t need to watch the black beam, bizarrely dark and bright at the same time, as it bored through the rock. Didn’t need to think about what that energy did to flesh.

    But he thought about it all the same.

    “That’ll do for now,” Ren said before too long, and Syr finally let himself look at the tunnel. It was too dark to tell how deep it ran… but at least he could be sure it was unoccupied, freshly-dug as it was. Unless Acheron had dug into a pre-existing tunnel or cavern. Syr hissed at himself. Not helping…

    White light filled the tunnel ahead, briefly illuminating Karo’s silhouette. He turned himself around noisily. “Alre—” he began, but fell abruptly silent. A beat later, another loud peal of thunder sounded. “Ooh… yeah. Smart choice,” he said.

    “I need you to put up a block field around us,” Ren said as Acheron carried him into the tunnel, Syr following close behind. “There’s no guarantee this place won’t collapse on us.” The tunnel lit up again, red this time, as he recalled Acheron.

    “Got it. C’mere,” Karo said, and the others moved toward the sound of his voice now that Acheron was out of their way. He nudged Syr in the side. “Lucky you. You get to be awake for it this time.”

    Syr thought about responding to that, but words failed him when he felt an invisible force pressing in on him from all sides, forcing his jaws shut and making it difficult to breathe. Moments later, just as he began to feel faint, the pressure abated.

    “There you go,” Karo said.

    “Thanks, buddy,” Ren said, then sighed. “And now… we wait.”

    Syr wasn’t even remotely inclined to argue. The rain was an impenetrable sheet outside, and soon the sky was flashing almost continuously, forcing him to screw his eyes shut. He wanted to keep moving, but for the time being, there seemed to be no other course but to wait out the storm. So he lay half-coiled and listened to it, wondering if the weather was this nasty back in Convergence. I hope not.

    By the time the thunderstorm finally ended, the sun had risen. “Guess we might as well go ahead and spend the night here. I mean day,” Ren said, though none too happily. The storm had cost them an entire night’s worth of travel, and his tone made it clear that he was anxious to get going again.

    “Ah… about that,” Karo began, and he sounded more than a little exhausted. Pained, even. “I… really oughta kill the block. Now, I don’t think that ceiling’s gonna come down anytime soon, but.” His arms pivoted audibly; the nosepass was shrugging, insofar as he could.

    Silence. Then, “Mm. No. We’ll find someplace else. Come on,” Ren said, getting up to leave—and promptly smacking face first into an invisible barrier. He staggered and tumbled over backward, falling in a heap on top of Syr.

    “Ah crap…” Karo shuffled all the closer to his trainer. “I am so, so sorry, holy crap. You okay?”

    “Yeah,” Ren managed, “yeah, I’m fine. If anything, I probably had that coming for working you so hard.”

    “Yeah, no. No you didn’t. Now go find somewhere nice and take a nap. The block’s down,” Karo said. He pressed the tip of his nose to the button on one of Ren’s capture balls, then turned into red light and vanished.

    Ren remained sprawled over the arbok’s side for a moment. Then another. And another. Syr began to wonder if the human had actually fallen asleep. Then he felt hands fussing with something at his chest. Right. The tether. He’d managed to forget it was even there.

    Once it was off, Ren made for the exit, rolling up the belts and stuffing them into his backpack as he went. The arbok joined him outside, circling around to see his face past that hood. The human’s eyes still looked like hell.

    “Karo’s right,” Syr said. “You really should take a nap.”

    “Yeah.” Ren might’ve been agreeing, but he sounded too distracted for Syr to be sure. He reached for his belt, maximizing a dusk ball in his palm, then let Acheron back out.

    The kwazai immediately pulled a face at the light gray sky. “Bit ahead of schedule, aren’t we?”

    “Much the opposite.” Ren gazed southward for a moment, then shrugged off his backpack again. After briefly rummaging through its contents, he pulled out a small and very full cloth pouch. He shook out a leppa berry, then tossed it to Acheron. The kwazai caught it in his jaws and promptly swallowed it.

    “I’m… gonna stop for the day,” Ren told him. “I promise. We just need to find a good spot to camp.” He waved toward the forest at the foot of the mountain. “Somewhere in there will probably do. We’ll need you to guard us. Karo’s earned a break.”

    “Not a problem.” The kwazai turned and began lumbering toward the trees.

    “Oh… but no secret bases,” Ren called after him.

    Acheron stopped in his tracks, craning his neck back toward his trainer. Then he lowered his head. “No secret bases,” he said, as warmly and assuringly as his rather ghastly voice allowed, and picked the human up.

    Back into the forest. The woods were thicker this time around, but rain still filtered through the leaves above. An especially fat drop landed on Syr’s snout and found its way right into his nose; he sneezed sharply, frightening something or another out of their perch nearby.

    Gesundheit,” Ren said semi-absently.

    “Go back to sleep,” Acheron told him.

    First came mild surprise that Ren had actually let himself doze off. Then came guilt at having awakened him. “Sorry,” Syr said.

    Acheron gave a dismissive wave. He began to slow down, eventually stopping at a clearing with enough open space for the three of them, provided they didn’t lie too far apart. While the grass was still damp, the area wasn’t as muddy as it could’ve been.

    Not that Syr minded the mud all that much, provided it wasn’t too deep. It felt kind of nice, actually, and the whole place smelled pleasantly of earth and rain and trees. But he doubted Ren would want it all over his clothes. Or his sleeping bag, for that matter.

    But the sleeping bag didn’t come out. Acheron slowly lowered himself to the ground, his legs folding underneath him, the human still cradled in one arm. “Shh,” the kwazai said with a finger to his lips, and nodded downward. Ren had fallen asleep once more.

    Not wanting to disturb him a second time, Syr went ahead and made himself as comfortable as he could. He took a minute or two to drink from a relatively clear puddle near his head, then lay the rest of himself down and closed his eyes. Before he knew it, he was out like a light.

    “There he is!” a voice hissed from above, an hour or so after the others had gone to sleep. Acheron looked toward it, though he didn’t need to. His tail had already detected two invisible pokémon up in the branches: a pair of kecleon, obviously intending to start something.

    Whether the “he” the kecleon referred to was Syr, Ren, or someone else, Acheron hardly cared. For the first time since his gym days, he was awake at stupid o’clock with an important job to do, and damned if he wasn’t going to do it.

    He looked right at them with eyes and tail alike, baring his rows of daggerlike teeth. When that failed to scare them off, he raised a hand and conjured a black vortex around it.

    Leave,” he said very quietly, in a voice befitting the undead.

    The kecleon left.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018

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