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Written Story Unova Mature Mon Eternal Enmity: a multi-player Black/White nuzlocke

Thread Description
United we stand, divided we fall. (02/08: Chapter 27, fresh today!)

SayleeK

Conqueror of the Cinnabar Gym
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
87
Location
Scrivener
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Fire, Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Between long periods of dormant slumber, this writer rises again for periods of activity that leave piles of dead fictional Pokemon in their wake
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #21
I hope everybody's staying home and staying safe. Have a chapter on me. You can also have it on AO3!


Cheren


Warren


Carlotta, Jamie


Bianca​

{Reshin 30th, 11:56}


{Route 6}





“Seriously, Professor, I’m fine,” Carlotta insisted for what felt like the millionth time since they’d found her wandering along a side-path through the cave. The way she kept glancing nervously at shadows suggested otherwise, to Cheren’s mind, but he also understood quite clearly that whatever had yanked her into the dark, she wasn’t going to talk about it in front of Professor Juniper.


It was hard to see in the pale electromagnetic glow, but it looked like there were bruises up and down her arms. That was unnerving. Carlotta didn’t tend to lose fights.


“Alright, I give up,” Professor Juniper sighed, raising her hands. “But if you do want to let me know what happened after you ‘fell’, I’m ready to listen. I won’t even tell your parents what happened, if that helps.”


“Aren’t you supposed to tell them if something happened?” Cheren asked skeptically.


“And admit I screwed up my promise to keep you kids safe?” Professor Juniper said wryly. “I would if Carlotta was hurt, but she isn’t, and if she doesn’t want to tell us what happened yet, I don’t figure I’ll get anything out of her by bothering you. Besides, I think following any dream worth its while will always involve a little danger. Daisy Oak didn’t become one of the greatest minds in modern science because she lived in a palace, after all!”


“’Bout Professor Oak,” Bianca said, “I’ve been wonderin’. She says she can talk to Pokemon, right? You said she’s a friend of yours on TV, but you don’t believe her ‘bout that?”


Professor Juniper took a deep breath, looking up thoughtfully. “I have nothing but the greatest respect for Daisy,” she said after a moment. “And I think the suggestion that Pokemon are much more intelligent than we assume, and that with the right brain mutation we could speak with them as easily as I’m speaking to you now, is much more probable than many in Unova would like. That, however is the whole problem.” She smiled sadly. “Being able to scientifically prove something is, unfortunately, not enough to have it accepted as true sometimes. She’s not good at the politics of getting her research published, I’m afraid. Most Kantons in particular aren’t.” She shook her head with a sigh. “They don’t play politics in Kanto much. I suppose it’s a leftover from the isolation period, no patience for playing about. The bluntness is quite refreshing, actually, but it’s not going to be enough to change the way Pokemon are treated in other countries, especially not here. I keep challenging Daisy not because I don’t believe her, but because I need her to come up with more powerful arguments.”


“…Does she know that’s what you’re doing?” Cheren asked, looking fascinated.


“She’s one of the greatest minds in the world, you know!” Professor Juniper said with a wink. “I think it frustrates her that it’s necessary, but what can you do?” She suddenly frowned, slapping her forehead. “I can stop letting you kids distract me from the topic at hand, is what I can do! Carlotta—”


“Oh look, the exit!” Carlotta yelled, darting towards the sunlight.


Warren patted Professor Juniper on the shoulder. “Tell you what,” he offered, “I’ll get what happened offa her, and then I’ll decide if you wanna know, since I’m the level-headed twin and all. Sound fair?”


“You are the level-headed twin, but your sister sets a low bar,” Professor Juniper acknowledged. “Go grab her before she runs off the wrong way, I got us some lunch plans once we get out the other side.”


Three… Cheren thought to himself with a smile as Bianca stepped out of the western exit to Chargestone Cave, blinking in the bright sunlight. Two… one…


Woooooow,” Bianca gasped as her vision cleared and she took in the hilltop view of Mistralton City. The most immediate feature was the huge old-fashioned airstrip, and it certainly helped that a cargo plane was taking off just as they walked out of the tunnel, swooping majestically into the sky with a roar. The mountains around them were a riot of colourful buildings, and a faint, pretty tinkling noise floated up to them on the breeze.


“Huh, usually they just fly tourist planes in and out of here,” Professor Juniper commented, shading her eyes. “With ‘port technology getting better every year, there aren’t many materials you can’t teleport anymore, but I suppose there are still things that need moved the old-fashioned way, huh?”


“Whoa… oh, look at the buildings!” Bianca cooed. “They’re beautiful! I ain’t never seen a style like that before!”


“Mistralton was a reservation until Osage formed, after which people who didn’t move there steadily integrated more with Unova,” Cheren explained. “The majority of the population is still of Native Unovan heritage, though, hence the longhouse-based architecture—you see the huge one there with the Sawsbuck mural? That should be the council building…”


“You can do a little touristing in the city this afternoon,” Professor Juniper promised, “but first things first, Dad invited us for lunch and we’re not going to keep him waiting, are we?”


The careful analysis of what Cheren knew about Mistralton and the tribes that lived there and what Bianca would likely need to learn before she could understand other things all screeched to a halt in Cheren’s brain. “Wait, we’re having lunch with your father?” he gasped. “Doctor Cedric Juniper?”


“The guy who does all them documentaries?” Carlotta said excitedly. “Where he travels ‘round talkin’ ‘bout why Pokemon live where they do? Gondamn, Professor, you put together a hell of a field trip!”


“I didn’t bring nothin’ for him to autograph—it’s not weird to ask for autographs when he’s havin’ us for lunch, right?” Warren said, patting down his pockets. “I mean, if it’s weird I won’t ask, it’s just, Doc Juniper…”


Professor Juniper giggled. “Don’t worry, he loves hearing folks talk about stuff they learned from his documentaries, especially kids,” she assured them. “Actually, he’s probably gonna bury you in a million stories about interesting things that happened that he couldn’t fit into the show, given the chance, so sit back and enjoy your lunch!”


They didn’t have to go into the city proper to get to Doctor Juniper’s house, instead turning off down a small dirt path that took them around the mountainside and through a gate to a cute, blue-roofed little house. It was tucked away amongst some trees, keeping it from being easily spotted, but had its own gorgeous view of Mistralton and the mountains.


Doctor Cedric Juniper himself was sitting on the porch waiting for them, a large jug of iced lemonade and a heaping plate of sandwiches on a table next to him. “Rea! Starting to worry about you, kiddo!” he called, standing up and waving as they walked up the path. “Come on up and grab a bite, kids!”


“Honour to meetcha, sir,” Carlotta said, shaking his hand enthusiastically. “I gotta say, sir… your series on water Pokemon livin’ on beaches an’ in shallow pools an’ stuff, compared to how they grow out in the open ocean, that one really stuck with me, an’ all that poetic sh—stuff ‘bout how the versatility of water-types reflects water itself… well, it probably went a long way towards me choosin’ a water Pokemon for my very first, I’m just sayin’.”


“I’m glad to hear it!” Doctor Juniper said warmly. “Hearing that one of my documentaries not only educated someone, but inspired them, makes all the sand in my pants worthwhile. What’s your name, young lady?”


“I’m Carlotta Arathos, an’ this is my brother Warren,” she said, letting go of his hand so Warren could have a shake. “He’s a big fan, too.”


“I’ve been rewatchin’ your series on regional variants while doin’ my homework,” Warren said, shaking the doctor’s hand as enthusiastically as his sister. “It’s a real honour, sir.”


“I’m Cheren Athos,” Cheren put in when Doctor Juniper turned to him. “Likewise honoured and a little starstruck, though you must get that a lot.”


“Yep, but it’s fun every time,” Doctor Juniper said with a wink. “And you, miss?”


“U-umm, I’m Bianca D’Artagnan,” Bianca said, shaking his hand, “and, sir, I gotta admit, I ain’t seen your show before, but I really owe a lot to Professor Juniper an’ how she helped me get a Pokemon an’ leave home, so, uh… thank you for raisin’ her to be so nice, I guess!”


Professor Juniper went a little red as her father burst out laughing. “Young lady, that may just be the best thing anybody has ever said to me,” he chuckled. “C’mon and grab a seat, kids!”


As they all sat down, the doctor went to turn off a small radio that had been playing quietly, but Cheren caught a few words before he did. More importantly, he recognized the voice.


“Isn’t that Ghetsis Harmonia?” he commented, nodding to the radio. “Is he making excuses for what happened in Driftveil?”


“’Few bad leppas’ and the like,” Doctor Juniper said, rolling his eyes. “Seems to be forgetting what a few bad leppas do to the bunch… he’s also railing against the police for their violent response to the protest march, probably hoping folks will forget about the Pokemon theft ring if he harps on enough about that…”


“These are actually the kids who broke up the smuggling ring, Dad,” Professor Juniper put in.


“Really? You kids did that?” Doctor Juniper said in amazement, looking around the four of them. “Well, damn! Now that’s me honoured to meet all of you!”


“We were just tryin’ to do the right thing,” Carlotta murmured, looking fixedly at her sandwich. “We don’t like Plasma much.”


“Good heads on your shoulders,” Doctor Juniper opined. “Plasma’s gonna turn out to be a cult, you mark my words.”


“Oh, here you kids go, you’re getting the cult theory,” Professor Juniper said, sipping her lemonade with a grin.


“I oughta do a show about that,” Doctor Juniper grumbled. “Not exactly my usual field of study, but hells, nobody else is doing it!”


“What are you talkin’ about?” Bianca asked, biting her lip. “Plasma… are they Romrams or somethin’?”


“Legally, no, but if you’re familiar with Romrams, doesn’t Ghetsis remind you of anybody?” Doctor Juniper asked.


“Well…” Bianca fidgeted selfconciously with her capris. “The way he gives speeches… I guess it kinda sounds like our preacher.”


Doctor Juniper nodded. “Exactly! And that’s because he was a Romram preacher. He started getting real famous back before Rea here was born, though, this was a long time ago. Well, I should say he started as a Romram preacher. I’m sure you kids known how Taotrism can be. Must be built in at some core level to a religion based on two dragons who split off from one—they’ll split off into a new sect at the drop of a sermon. He got popular fast because he was charismatic and passionate, all fire-and-lightning and blood on the tongue. He split off on his own pretty quick and took his congregation with him, and his congregation was growing fast.”


“I do remember seeing him on the TV when I was little,” Professor Juniper commented. “Mainly because you and Mom were yelling at him…”


“You’ll be remembering when he got arrested,” Doctor Juniper snorted. “That was when he really hit the news. We sure as hell weren’t paying a subscription to watch his channel!”


“He got arrested?” Cheren said in fascination. “What for? Why haven’t we heard about this before?”


“Second question first: I imagine he’s pulled some strings to have that thirty-year-old scandal buried,” Doctor Juniper sighed. “I imagine he learned some things from when he went down before, and he took steps to anticipate folks digging through his background before he showed up in public again.”


“You’d think it woulda come up by now, Plasma bein’ so controversial and all,” Warren mused. “That lady, Sar Saylee, she weren’t here long ‘fore somebody was digging up dirt on her folks!”


“Now, that one was just plain nonsense,” Professor Juniper grumbled. “I talked to Daisy Oak about it at the time—Sar Kanto’s her sister-in-law, did you know? Dragging her through the mud for somebody else’s actions, and somebody who was never a part of her life to boot, is just dirty. Somebody had an agenda there, mark my words.”


“I don’t doubt it,” Cheren commented. “But back to the first question… what was he arrested for?”


“Well, y’know, the whole thing started as an investigation into tax evasion,” Doctor Juniper chuckled. “Do you kids know much about the Cult Prevention Act?”


“I know my old preacher said it was an attack on religion an’ an invasion of the government into our homes,” Bianca said, making a face. “If he hated it that much, I figure it ain’t a bad thing.”


Doctor Juniper laughed. “Well, you’re not wrong! It requires religious institutions to keep and report accurate records of various things so various safety agencies can make sure that people, especially children, aren’t being trapped in a group that doesn’t allow them to leave, physically or financially. The financial records are where it started. When Ghetsis was building himself a damn great megachurch, an accountant receiving his sect’s financial records—mainly kept to make sure that collections and tithes from the congregation are going to things like building and maintaining churches, social programs, paying church staff, things like that and not, say, a superyacht—well, this guy noticed some discrepancies, and reported a suspicion that Ghetsis was siphoning off cash for himself from his followers. So there was an investigation, and that was when one of the investigators poking around his church found the underground tunnels.”


Carlotta choked on her sandwich. “Found the what now?!” she coughed. “The guy was buildin’ a secret base?”


“A bunker network, actually!” Doctor Juniper said, topping up her glass of lemonade and pushing it towards her. “Between the church and the houses of several followers. Well, that’d be bad enough, since there weren’t exactly any plans on file with the city office for these secret bunkers, but that pulled in a much bigger investigation, and a headcount turned up something like a dozen kids that with no birth certificates—they’d had the kids at home and hid that they even existed!”


Bianca gasped aloud. “They take kids away from their folks for that!”


“I’m betting those children weren’t vaccinated or receiving a proper education, either,” Cheren said dryly.


“Oldest was six, I think, but yeah, and a couple of ‘em were real sick but weren’t getting proper medical attention, the way I heard it,” Doctor Juniper sighed. “Some folks like to spin horror stories about the government tracking your every move, but honestly, I figure that credits the government with a lot more manpower and, hell, a lot more competency than I’ve ever seen ‘em display. All that happens when you register your child’s birth is that somebody in Child Safety Services knows they exist. They don’t get vaccinated against diseases that could kill ‘em, somebody’ll come ask why. Those kids never turn up at a school to get a proper, accredited education, somebody’s gonna ask why. Funnily enough, the folks who don’t want the government knowing their kids exist never seem to be just private people who otherwise treat their kids right. Every damn time, there’s something wrong about how they’re treating those kids they’re so determined to keep secret.”


“Gondamn,” Warren muttered. “They take those kids away?”


“Yep, and several arrests were made, mainly of the parents but also of Ghetsis himself.” Doctor Juniper looked a little sour. “He was convicted of cult-building but after cutting deals and for good behaviour inside, he only did three years’ jail time. That might be what you recall your mother and I expressing some colourful language about, Rea.”


“And now he’s runnin’ a… Pokemon-stealin’ Pokemon rights charity?” Warren said, brow furrowed.


Doctor Juniper sighed. “Thing is, since he was convicted of building a cult, he can go to church if he wants but he cannot legally be responsible for so much as the collection box at the winter fair. But businesses and charities are covered under different laws, so long as the charity isn’t being run by or on behalf of a religion. Now, I strongly suspect that if you got a real close look at their rotas, you’d see a whole lot of staff who were once in his congregation, or some Romram church, but I hear they use a whole lotta volunteers, who don’t show up on payroll. Officially.”


“I don’t deny Plasma are pretty darn shady, I just think you’re getting into conspiracy theories here, Dad,” Professor Juniper said with a little smile. “I don’t doubt the man’s skimming cash, but I figure getting his old congregation aboard is because they’re willing patsies. I mean, these things are always about the money, aren’t they?”


Carlotta suddenly looked worried. “Hey, Doctor Juniper?” she asked. “Did you ever see any of Ghetsis’ preachin’ back in the day? Did he ever talk about dragons… I mean, more’n Romrams already do, or sayin’ different stuff, or anythin’?”


“Well, as it happens, yes,” Doctor Juniper said, looking curiously at her. “A lot of Romrams talk about the twin dragons, Reshiram and Zekrom, having ascended from this sinful world to judge us all relentlessly and spend eternity burning sinners in fire and lightning. But Ghetsis’ pitch was that they are still sleeping in this world, and will return to ‘cure’ the world of its sins if a ‘pure hero’ appears. He was very insistent that such a hero would be born in his cult, and that that’s why so many children born to his cultists went unregistered, to prevent the ‘sinful world’ corrupting them, blah blah blah. Is he preaching that stuff again?”


“No, just… I got to talk to somebody I think’s in Plasma a while ago,” Carlotta said quietly. “Sure sounded like he’d never been to school… an’ he was talkin’ ‘bout dragons, chosen ones, true kings, stuff like that.”


Doctor Juniper sat back, folding his arms and looking worried. “Yeah, that sounds like his kinda nonsense,” he said. “You run into that guy again, I’d get him some help.”


“Wait, who’re you talkin’ about?” Warren asked, staring at his sister. “Who was talkin’ ‘bout true kings?”


“That guy N,” Carlotta said. “Ran into him in Nimbasa, just… didn’t get ‘round to tellin’ y’all yet. He’d never even heard of the Fairlands, y’know? Didn’t seem to know anythin’ ‘bout the world.”


“You’re not wrong that that guy clearly needs help,” Cheren muttered, rubbing his forehead. When did Carly—oh, hells, tell me it weren’t on the Ferris Wheel! Carly wouldn’t be fool enough to let herself get locked up alone with… Hells, what am I sayin’, it’s Carly… “He says his name is N. Just the letter N. I thought it was a pseudonym…”


“It’s not like it’s illegal to just initial a kid, but it is weird,” Doctor Juniper said with a frown. “You see that guy again, you really gotta get him some help, okay? Call the cops and tell them you’re worried about him, if you gotta.”


“Yes, sir,” Carlotta said. Cheren caught Warren giving her a Look that clearly said: we’re gonna talk about this later.


Carlotta, Warren and Bianca all grabbed at their hats as a sharp wind blew through. “Gondam!” Carlotta yelped. “Is it always like that ‘round here?!”


“It’s only to be expected,” Doctor Juniper chuckled. “We’re quite high up in the mountains here. No wonder the first people that lived here revered the wind spirit, eh?”


“Remember that paintin’ we saw in Castelia, B?” Carlotta asked. “’Bout the twelve gods? Guess the one ‘round here must be wind!”


“Ah, you know a little about the twelve Federation tribes?” Doctor Juniper asked. “If you want to know more, we could go visit the cultural centre in Mistralton—I believe the experts there could explain such things far better than I could!”


“I would love to learn more from an actual member of the tribe,” Cheren agreed. And they might be able to tell us something about Cobalion, Terrakion, Virizion and Keldeo… something the Swords of Justice themselves wouldn’t tell us.


He didn’t need to look at his friends to know they were thinking the same thing.











{Reshin 30th, 13:12}


{Mistralton City}





Once they got into the city, the sound of windchimes was everywhere.


They didn’t quite look like what Carlotta usually thought of as windchimes, like the little thing of metal tubes her mother had by the back door that somehow made a delicate, tinkly noise; the windchimes in Mistralton were all beads and coloured glass, and no house seemed to have less than three hanging outside, chiming against each other as much as themselves.


“They’re so pretty,” Bianca cooed.


“Neighbour told me about ‘em a while ago,” Doctor Juniper said. “A Clan Mother’ll make one for a newborn baby, and then you keep adding onto it as you go through life, on birthdays, coming of age, cultural events, so on… makes sure the winds know who you are, more or less. That they’re aware of you. Pretty important up here, eh?”


“No kiddin’,” Carlotta said, clutching her hat as another wind blew through. Wind… if I remember that paintin’ of Burgh’s right, wind’s one of the three that survived. Wonder if it’s really real, an’ some flighty bastard’s really flyin’ about here, same as the Swords of Justice…


There were dozens of bridges connecting different levels of the hills to each other. The one they crossed was decorated in a distinctly Native Unovan art style, depicting a bright flock of Pidove, Tranquill and Unfezant flying into a vividly-coloured sunrise, flying amongst elegant trails of wind.


Pokemon seem to know all ‘bout the Swords of Justice already. Do they know these elemental guys, too? Penny, Pijon, Peabean… would you’ve gone off after this guy, if you were still alive now? If we’d gotten you here? Would you’ve wanted to?


She didn’t know. She probably never would. They’d ask if the birds were here now, but they hadn’t known to ask then. It wasn’t fair


The cultural centre had windchimes hanging off all of the eaves. A lot of them looked old, and were so worn that the colours had faded, but they still jingled in the wind as Doctor Juniper opened the door and gave a silly, flourishing bow to gesture them inside.


The longhouse was, as suggested by the name, long; there were no dividing walls between any part of the building, just a welcome table at the front and then rows and rows of wood or wood-patterned racks from which paintings, cloths or other artifacts hung. A couple of older ladies were further back in the building, carefully re-hanging some kind of traditional coat, while one was sitting at the front desk, chatting to a tall, younger woman with long, rust-red hair—


“Leader Skyla!” Carlotta gasped. “This day just keeps gettin’ better!” Scary ninjas aside…


“You didn’t plan this, too, didja, Professor?” Warren asked, somewhere between impressed and suspicious.


“Even I’m not that good…”


“Maybe the wind blew us all together,” Skyla laughed, giving them the famous salute she was always giving on League posters. “You kids here on your League challenge?”


“We aren’t quite ready to challenge your gym yet, Leader Skyla,” Cheren said quickly. “We’re all quite interested in Legendary Pokemon, too, and since none of us know many Native Unovan stories, we thought we’d come learn some.”


“Good attitude,” Skyla said, hands on her hips. “The Clan Mothers are a little busy with restoration work today—” She nodded at the older woman behind the table, who smiled at them but quickly returned her focus to the beaded blanket that she was carefully re-stringing. “—but I’ve got some free time to share stories to curious challengers! Anyone in particular you’re interested in?”


“Do y’all really worship a wind god?” Bianca blurted out. “’Cause my folks told me Native Unovans worshipped all these bloodthirsty heathen gods, but the wind don’t seem very, I mean, I think my folks ain’t exactly a good source anyways…” She trailed off, turning bright red as all of the older women stared at her.


One of them muttered something in a language that Carlotta didn’t recognize, but made one of the other women laugh and the third shake her head. “They’re agreeing that your parents probably aren’t a good source,” Skyla said diplomatically, patting Bianca’s arm. “And anyway, you’re here to learn! So, first up… We don’t have gods the way I think you’re thinking of them. There are spirits—up here, we revere the First Wind. Revere, not worship the way I’m gonna guess your folks worship their Twin Dragons.” Bianca, still red, nodded. “Spirits don’t demand worship of humans. They don’t really care all that much about us, honestly, unless we give ‘em reason to notice us. But for all the wind does—for pushing storms past us, for spreading pollen on our fields, for generating our electricity, for drying our clothes, for lifting the wings of our planes and Pokemon, for cooling a hot summer’s day… isn’t it right to say thank you?”


“So the wind does help you?” Warren asked.


Skyla shook her head. “The wind’s just doing what it’s going to do, and we can benefit from it, that’s all. But if the wind didn’t do what it does, we couldn’t get all those benefits. So, gratitude. And speaking to the winds when they pass by, and hanging our wind-chimes so they can talk to us…”


“An’… when it brings in a storm, or blows someone off a cliff?” Carlotta asked pointedly.


Skyla gave her a patient smile. “The wind doesn’t anger. It doesn’t do these things out of hate. These things, too, the wind does because that’s what it is. You can’t hate it simply for existing as it is… but you can ask it not to do it again, and if you think you have committed some crime against the world that might have upset the spirits, you can apologize.”


“Unless it was you who went off the cliff,” the old lady behind the table cackled. “Spirits don’t tell humans apart well, so they don’t target revenge… but they can get lucky, same as us.”


“Shame none of ‘em blow Plasma off a cliff,” Carlotta muttered.


“Hah! Yeah, talk about upsetting the balance of nature? Wrenching humans and Pokemon apart would do it,” Skyla said, sunny expression briefly turning into a dark scowl. The smile was back again a moment later as she gestured them over to one of the beaded blankets. “We both exist in this world. Forcing ourselves apart isn’t balanced. We’re still learning how to live together, and we’ve majorly screwed up along the way because we’re not keyed into nature the way Pokemon are… but we need to figure out how to live together to be balanced. Have a look at this one.” She gestured to the blanket, which was mostly grey but with patterns of white beads linking together several squares. “You see the beads? They’re carved from the shells Dewott use as weapons. When they cast them aside to evolve, they can be collected and carved… this is describing our tribe, thousands of years ago, forming a peace agreement with another tribe, which reveres Mother Earth above all, and different tribes of Pokemon.” Her fingers hovered over the lines, not touching the ancient beads. “We couldn’t share words, but we sang together.”


“The beads are the story?” Cheren asked, peering as close as he dared get to the artifact.


“If you’ve learned how to read it, yes,” Skyla said, stepping back. “These are our historical records. It’s just a shame the songs sung at that meeting have been lost…”


Wow,” Bianca sighed, looking around at all the records, some only a few strings of beads wide, some as wide as a bedsheet. “They’re beautiful!”


“Thank you! I’m sure you’ve seen the windchimes outside,” Skyla added, waving a hand at the roof. “Mostly the windchimes of Clan Mothers who’ve died, so even after they’re gone, the winds know we’re their people.”


“Going back to people and Pokemon,” Cheren asked, “do you have stories about the Warriors?”


“Oh, yeah! We heard there’s a new one!” Carlotta said. “Y’all know much about them?”


Skyla raised an eyebrow. “Well, my little sister says she’s seen a fourth one that doesn’t look like the three we know,” she said. “The Leader, the Roots, and the Boulder… you call them Cobalion, Virizion and Terrakion, right?”


“The Swords of Justice,” Warren agreed. “Cobalion is The Leader?”


“The first one to be born,” Skyla said with a nod. “Given the power to unite and lead Pokemon against human destruction during the Unovan Civil War. Then, centuries later, Virizion, The Roots, joined—”


“Hang on just one second! All three of the Swords of Justice were in the Civil War, weren’t they? We got songs an’ stuff about it!” Carlotta protested.


Skyla put her hands on her hips, tilting her head and smirking a little. “All the artwork and stories depicting The Leader, The Roots and The Boulder acting together date from after the war,” she said. “There are a lot of sources from during the war that describe different elemental powers answering The Leader’s call, but just because The Leader called for a rockslide doesn’t mean The Boulder was there. Just that The Leader was leading rock or ground Pokemon that day. Your historians started ascribing war actions to The Boulder and The Roots after their existence became known, but they weren’t there. Just The Leader. Our records are very clear on that.” She led them to another one of the beaded records, this one in white and purple. “Looking at other events in the rest of the world, it seems like the biggest event to coincide with the first appearances of The Roots was the end of the Kalos Civil War, where tens of thousands of humans and Pokemon were wiped out on the same battlefield. And The Boulder is relatively modern, since we first saw them after the Orre Civil War. Do you see a pattern in my words?”


“They started appearing after times of great conflict between humans and Pokemon,” Cheren said quietly, “or at least, times of conflict between humans so great that there was a huge loss of life amongst Pokemon. Is that right?”


Skyla gave him another salute. “Right. And folks started talking about seeing a fourth one about thirty years ago.”


“The Little One,” Bianca said to herself. “Keldeo. What happened thirty years ago?”


“The Kanto Civil War,” Cheren said grimly. “It wasn’t as bad as Orre, but it was close. Orre was turned into a desert by what they did to wipe out their wild Pokemon… The Boulder, of course. In Kanto, they poisoned the water…


“Kel-what?” Skyla said curiously. “Do you have a name for it? I didn’t realize—”


The windchimes outside rattled loudly, a second before the doors banged open, blowing a girl in. She looked like a middle schooler, short but stocky like Skyla, and in fact looking much like her except for the long brown hair. “Sis!” she yelled. “Plasma! At Celestial Tower! Belle says they’re upsetting the dead!”


“Oh, that’s never good,” Skyla muttered, all her cheer disappearing as if the wind had swept it off her face, leaving a menacing scowl in place. “Stay here where it’s safe, Rosie, I’ll handle them. You folks better stay here, too,” she added, giving them one more salute before running off.


“We should help, we’ve handled Plasma before—” Cheren began.


“No you will not,” Professor Juniper said, standing between them and the door with her arms outflung. “Look, kids, I don’t know what happened in Chargestone Cave, but I am not going to just stand back and let you run off again—”


“Carly?” Bianca whispered, tugging at Carlotta’s arm. “That girl… there’s somethin’ weird about her…”


Carlotta looked over at Skyla’s sister, still hovering by the door, staring oddly at them. The door was hanging open, so the wind was still blowing in, and…


It was like a magic eye puzzle. She couldn’t see it if she looked too hard. But if she let her eyes unfocus, it was like she could see the wind, and it was around the younger girl.


And she was getting a weird feeling prickling down the back of her neck, the same as she did when she looked at Archie Irving in the Hoenn Embassy.


The girl leaned over to the older lady behind the table, whispering something in their language without taking her eyes off of Carlotta.


“No, you don’t understand,” Cheren insisted, looking away from the Junipers and making pointed eye contact with Warren, Carlotta and Bianca in turn. “We have to help.”


Carlotta was starting to recognize that look in his eye. Cobalion’s here. Which means our Pokemon will be here too, if it comes to a fight…


There was a weird rustle in her hair, and then the tiny Joltik was scurrying down her arm, chirping fit to bust.


“I am takin’ cues from the weirdest shit these days, but what the hells,” Carlotta muttered. “Sorry, Prof, we gotta go!” She ducked under the Professor’s outstretched arm and took off, knowing without looking that Cheren, Warren and Bianca were all charging after her, moving faster than the Professor could catch them in her heels.


Sorry, Professor. But I think I got somethin’ here that’s real important.


I
know why the Swords of Justice chose us now.

Lots of ideas for Mistralton taken from the Onondaga Nation, who live in New York State and whose website refers to them as “People of the Hills”, which is fun. The windchimes were made up by me to tie in to the idea of this tribe having a focus on a wind-based spirit. If I’ve misrepresented any genuine Onondaga culture in this chapter or representations of Native Americans anywhere in the fic, please let me know.

Isolation is a lonely bitch, but if possible, please, please stay at home right now. The UK government needs to do better at supporting people financially—it’d be nice if one of the outcomes of this pandemic was Universal Basic Income finally being instituted—but for our part, PLEASE don’t panic-buy or go out unnecessarily. This thing’s gonna get worse before it gets better, but the important thing is that it gets worse at a rate that the health service can cope with. In the meantime, do some stretches, watch Sir Patrick Stewart reading sonnets on twitter, re-read your favourite fanfics and leave nice comments for the authors! Or try going into the tag for your favourite fandom, find a fic with zero comments, and be the first to support that author! That’s the good thing about the internet age—we can still reach out to each other even when we have to stay at home.


Cheren


Warren


Carlotta, Jamie


Bianca​
 
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cyndakip

there goes my luck
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
349
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely tired.
I love Cedric! Especially his reaction to Bianca complimenting him on raising his daughter, and to finding out that they were the ones who broke up the smuggling ring. He’s great.

Ugh, of course Ghetsis already tried to start a cult…

And Skyla! I love her too. All that stuff she said about the gods was really interesting! And it looks like there's another avatar around… I wonder if she's aware of that?

I really enjoyed this chapter! Looking forward to more, as always.
 

SayleeK

Conqueror of the Cinnabar Gym
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
87
Location
Scrivener
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Fire, Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Between long periods of dormant slumber, this writer rises again for periods of activity that leave piles of dead fictional Pokemon in their wake
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #23
Oh shit I'm back from the dead and have a lot of reading to catch up on. You can also find this chapter on AO3!

So this one took a while because the unavoidable subtext about allyship in this story by necessity ramps up to explicit text in this chapter and in the context of real-world events it, uh... felt like a lot to handle in Pokemon fic. Is it off-colour to compare the situation of Pokemon in Unova to exploitation and subjugation of humans in the real world? Does anything I'm trying to say here make sense? I don't know. In the end, I just gotta get this chapter out there and learn from any mistakes I've made in it instead of putting it off forever.
Also, it's that time when the story starts going REALLY wildly off the track of the game plot...

@cyndakip I was trying to put a bit of Sir David Attenborough energy into Cedric Juniper, the omnipresent TV naturalist who is a key part of everybody's childhood except the very repressed Bianca and is a genuinely nice and interesting dude. Ghetsis' backstory is based on, oh, a bunch of people I read about while researching cults, but special mentions to David Koresh and his thing about him needing to father twenty-four "special children" on women in his cult. Men who start cults tend to be creepy sex predators but goddamn, dude. Skyla is very much aware of the other avatar... ;) Glad you liked it, time for more!


Cheren


Warren


Carlotta


Bianca​

{Reshin 30th, 14:45}
{Celestial Tower}



Carlotta had visited the pale purple spire of Celestial Tower before, but only as a tourist. Not since she’d become a trainer, since she’d lost Pokemon. None of hers were buried here, but Bianca’s were, Lilith and Penny, innocent Pokemon that had died in fights they had no choice in—

I ain’t lettin’ Plasma mess with ‘em! Leave ‘em be, gondammit!

At the tower’s base, Skyla was crouched over a woman in pale purple clothes that matched the tower. “Is she okay?” Warren shouted as they caught up.

“Wh—I told you kids to stay behind!” the leader snapped. “She’ll live, but Plasma broke into the tower—you need to go! They’re dangerous!”

“I’m okay,” the woman on the ground insisted, though her voice was a little weak. “They just pushed me—you can’t let them damage anything…”

“Lie still, love, you hit your head,” Skyla said softly, brushing a gentle hand over the woman’s forehead before turning a hard glare on Carlotta, Warren, Cheren and Bianca. “Stay here with her,” she ordered, standing up. “Keep her awake. I have to—” Her eyes widened and she stepped back, inhaling sharply, then dropped to one knee. “The Warriors,” she breathed, putting a hand over her heart.

Carlotta knew they were there, even before she turned to look. She’d seen Cobalion and Keldeo, of course, but for the first time, she saw the slender, graceful Virizion, and got a good look at the huge, stocky Terrakion, somehow knowing that they were the one she’d glimpsed in the sand-sunken castle. The four were an incredible sight, each of them taller and more imposing than the last. Mina flew over them to hug Bianca with a happy giggle.

“I missed you too,” Bianca cooed, hugging her back. Carlotta couldn’t see the rest of their former Pokemon, but somehow, she was sure that they were nearby, too. “If you’re all here, does that mean…?”

“Are you so certain that Plasma is here?” Virizion said, looking up at the tower. Their voice was soft, mellifluous, until they spat Plasma like acid. “The dead do not stir…”

“Then Plasma have not done whatever it is that they came here to do yet,” Cobalion said darkly. “This place is of great spiritual import. Better that we stop Plasma before they can unsettle it than after.” They looked down at the humans. “Is that why you have come, or do you have an answer for us?”

“Both,” Carlotta said, stepping forwards. “Plasma first, Avatar stuff later. Right?”

“Holy shit,” Skyla whispered. “You’re chosen.” She stared up at the Warriors in utter confusion. “Tornadus is the guardian of our people,” she said. “I can understand how and why they would choose a human. But you…?”

“Plasma first,” Terrakion said, stepping forwards, coming eye-to-eye with Carlotta for the first time. Their eyes were a deep amber, the colour shifting and glowing like magma as they circled her, giving her an appraising look. They gave a small huff, and then Carlotta yelped as huge teeth, solid as stone, gripped her by the back of her jacket. She didn’t have time to ready herself before she was pulled into the air as Terrakion leapt.

They were deceptively fast for their huge bulk. All she saw was a blur of purple and the blue sky rushing towards them as Terrakion ran up the side of the Tower, hooves clattering loudly against the walls. She did not feel even slightly secure, dangling precariously by her jacket, terrified that it was going to rip and send her freefalling. She might have screamed a little.

Then, after an eternity that had in reality probably been no more than thirty seconds, Terrakion set her down on top of the tower on legs that felt as if they were made of jelly. She had to reach out to grab one of their horns to steady herself, and then let go quickly when she found herself on the receiving end of a disgruntled orange glare. “Sorry,” she said, straightening her jacket. “That was, uh…”

“Terrifyin’?” Warren squeaked as Virizion landed gracefully nearby and dumped him on the ground. “Oh, gondamn, I’m too young for a heart attack…” Cobalion stopped next to him and dropped Cheren, who was white-faced and white-knuckled where he clung to his glasses.

“I dunno, it was kinda fun,” Bianca said, grinning as she was set gently on the ground by Keldeo, before turning to give them a hug. The littlest Warrior gave her a bright smile, then stuck their tongue out as the other three Warriors gave them chastising looks.

“L-Let’s get on an’ do what we came here to do, huh?” Cheren said shakily, adjusting his glasses. Carlotta slapped her cheeks, made herself breathe, and looked around.

They were very much on top of the tall, tall Celestial Tower. There were handrails around the edge of the large, circular plaza, and off-centre was a smaller raised area with a bell on top. Carlotta had heard about the Celestial Bell, and she’d heard it was the biggest bell of its type that was still in use, but she hadn’t actually seen it before, not outside of a photo. Access to it was usually restricted to mourners only, no tourists allowed. There was something about things of its size—you could see them in a photo and grasp in some part of your brain that they were large, but you didn’t really comprehend it until you were actually physically in the same space, and then they were so much larger than any photo could make them look. It was so large that it drew the gaze like gravity.

Then Terrakion growled angrily, and Carlotta wrenched her gaze away to scan the area again. A dozen powder-blue Team Plasma grunts were climbing up and out of a staircase and striding purposefully towards the huge, ancient bell.

The Warriors took off running, planting themselves in a solid wall between the bell and the Plasma grunts, who screamed and backed away. Carlotta took off running as Cobalion stepped forwards, and the Plasma grunts fell to the ground, bowing low, and Cobalion stepped forwards again, raising a huge, steely hoof over the humans on the ground—

“STOP!” Cheren shouted. Carlotta got between the Warriors and the Plasma grunts first, but Bianca, Warren and Cheren were close behind, red-faced from the sudden desperate sprint but determined to keep space between the Warriors and the humans.

“Stand aside,” Cobalion ordered. “We will crush them before they can bring harm to this place.”

“They ain’t attackin’ anyone or anything right now!” Warren protested.

“Answer quickly,” Cheren snapped, rounding on the Plasma group, who were all trembling on the ground. “What are you doing here?”

“We—we’re here to—to pray, for Pokemon that we’ve… for the souls of the dead,” one of them said, pushing her hood off as she looked up, wide-eyed and shaking. “Please, we’re not here to hurt or damage anything, we just—”

“They are liars,” Virizion said coldly. “Humans often are, but we know these costumes of yours now. Do you come to pray for the Pokemon that your people slaughter?”

“We don’t— we didn’t—” One of the other Plasma members burst into tears. “We’re sorry, we didn’t know what they were doing with the Pokemon we took in, we thought we were sending them somewhere safe, we’re sorry—”

“What are we talkin’ about?” Warren demanded. “The Plasma shelters? What’s been happenin’ to the Pokemon at the Plasma shelters?”

“We—we look after them,” the first woman pleaded. “We take care of them, we make sure they’re healthy and happy, and when more senior Plasma members came to take them away, to release them into the wild, we—we didn’t question it, we truly thought, we didn’t know—”

“You have aided and abetted in slavery and slaughter,” Terrakion growled. “We do not care about what you did or did not know. You helped.”

“But what if they want to do better, now that they know?” Keldeo asked, pawing anxiously at the ground.

“I’m really feelin’ like y’all havin’ a conversation about somethin’ that we’re in the dark about,” Carlotta said loudly. “Where were the Pokemon in the shelters taken?”

The first woman stared at Carlotta for a long moment, then hung her head in her hands, starting to cry. “We don’t know,” one of her fellows said, reaching out to hug her. “But we know they’re dying. They’re being worked to death.”

“We just found out,” another one insisted. “We’re not going to be a part of it anymore! We just wanted to come—to pray, to apologize, to, to…”

“Y’all pushed over a lady who worked here and gave her a damn concussion,” Warren pointed out.

“We didn’t mean—she had no call to try and stop us!” another one of the Plasmas yelled in frustration. “We’re just here to apologize!”

“Sure are pilin’ up things to apologize for,” Carlotta said sternly, before turning back to the glaring Warriors. “Can we chill the fuck out? They don’t need killin’.” She folded her arms, then took a deep breath and unfolded them. “But y’all don’t believe that, do you?”

“Can we get reception up here to call the police to pick these people up?” Cheren muttered. Several of the Plasmas leapt to their feet, looking outraged. “Do not argue! If you truly wish to make amends, then maybe, just maybe, instead of attacking people and barging into a spiritual place, you should have gone to the media, or the League—told somebody about Pokemon being slaughtered so they can stop it!”

“It’s nice that y’all want to pray for the lost Pokemon, but… well, I’m thinkin’ that ain’t what the Pokemon want,” Bianca agreed, her arms full of an angrily hissing Mina.

“Guys, listen to them,” one of the men said. “We’re not welcome here. We’re not helping.”

“We just want to apologize—!” another argued, throwing his hands up.

“Well, maybe they’ll let us after we do something useful!” the conciliatory man snapped.

“That’s the spirit!” Keldeo chirped. “You can apologize to the dead after helping the living who are in need. Right, guys?” they said, looking pointedly at the other Warriors.

“I still think it will be easier, and safer, to just kill them now,” Virizion said loftily. “Strike first for once, instead of striking back.” The Plasma group all jumped to their feet, backing up anxiously.

“It is not given to us to begin wars,” Cobalion said, closing their eyes and taking a deep breath. “Only to fight in them, and to defend Pokemon in need to the best of our abilities. Go,” they said, opening their eyes and pinning the Plasmas with a piercing glare. “Before I change my mind.”

They fled.

“Well, I’m glad that one ended without fighting,” Cheren sighed, adjusting his glasses.

“New one on us too,” Terrakion said, stomping a few times with a huff. “I’m telling you, I don’t like the idea of trusting any humans. They can’t be trusted.”

“That’s the thing, ain’t it?” Carlotta said. “That’s what I realized. Y’all can’t trust humans, not if y’alls gonna do y’all’s jobs right. What y’all’re here for is defendin’ Pokemon from human wars, ain’t it? An’ shit, for all I know, normally y’all do pretty good at that. But when there’s a big loss, like Kalos—” She nodded to Virizion. “Or Orre—” She looked to Terrakion, who huffed again and tossed their head. “Or Kanto…” Keldeo bounced on the spot, grinning. “Y’all get a new one, so y’all’re more ready next time. Am I right so far?”

“Continue,” Cobalion allowed.

“It ain’t just about new powers, right? Keldeo thinks different from the rest of y’all, too,” Carlotta continued. “Y’all can’t trust humans. ‘Cause if y’all trust a human, an’ then they turn ‘round and hurt Pokemon? I’m bettin’ that’s happened before, right? I mean, gondamn, some folks are real bastards. So that ain’t a risk y’all can take, because protectin’ Pokemon is priority one.”

“Correct,” Cobalion said, turning to glare at Keldeo. “But this one wishes to take the risk of human allies…” They sighed, sounding frustrated. “And no doubt that was our Creator’s intention. Though our Creator is older than us by far and surely views the universe on a scale that none of us can comprehend… sometimes, I question their insufferable fondness for your kind.”

“Your creator?” Bianca squeaked. “Th… the Great Dragon?”

“We have no affiliation with those abominations,” Virizion snorted. “Our Creator is a far older and grander being.”

“Not that the theological conversation isn’t genuinely fascinating,” Cheren said, a little faintly, “but if you detest all humans so greatly, why are you conceding to… what, test us?”

“For stuff like this, right?” Carlotta said. “De-escalation. Some part of y’all knows that the best way to stop Pokemon gettin’ killed in wars ain’t to just fight real good, it’s to stop the wars gettin’ fought in the first place. And for that, y’all need… I dunno. Allies. Diplomats. Folks who can talk to humans, ‘cause there’s lots of humans won’t listen to Pokemon, but y’all think they might listen to us. Folk we can carry y’all’s voices too. That sound about right?”

“Mister Irving said he was bonded to Kyogre to help control its wild need to keep expandin’ oceans an’ fight Groudon,” Warren realized. “Y’all need us ‘cause y’all need to be able to talk to humans without killin’ ‘em all…”

“Hmph. They’re smart,” Terrakion allowed. “And… not wrong. Best fight’s the one you finish before it starts.”

“We may have voices that humans can understand,” Virizion allowed, “but that is meaningless if humans will not listen to us.”

“We were guided to this country, where we have fought before,” Cobalion said. “We were led here on the understanding that things are most… discordant, here. To effect change here will make it easier to change things across the globe.” They sighed. “And difficult though it is to understand or believe… Kanto’s transformation after the war was due to the combined efforts of humans and Pokemon. I dislike and distrust you and all your kind, human… but what I wish, more than anything, is to prevent further violence that will take the lives of innocent Pokemon. And I am willing to take whatever steps will best prevent a new war.”

“Even joining with an avatar!” Keldeo said excitedly. “There are loads of others already, you know, and some of them are doing great things for Pokemon and humans both! We got separated from Meloetta, so we thought we were gonna have a hard time finding four humans who were just right, but then I met you, Bianca, and you told me about your friends, and—” They nuzzled Bianca happily. “I just knew you’d be just right!”

“’Cause I had me three best friends?” Bianca said, scritching Keldeo’s chin. “Is that what y’all are? That’s so sweet!”

“We are true comrades,” Virizion said loftily. “We fight together. In the heat of battle, we must be able to trust one another without reservation. And I will admit, from our observations of you… that is something that you seem to understand.”

“Not gonna deny that I like watching you guys kick some Plasma ass,” Terrakion said with a grin. “I’m not sure if I believe in the idea of there being good and bad humans. You’re all just trouble to me. But maybe you four are the sort of trouble that could be handy.”

“Rather have us in the tent pissin’ out, huh?” Carlotta said, putting her hands on her hips. Terrakion laughed. “Well, I’ve been thinkin’ lots ‘bout this. Doin’ this, bein’ an avatar… from what Mister Irving was sayin’, it changes who an’ what you are. Changes your whole world.” She sighs. “But it seems to me that it ain’t the world that’s changin’. The world was always somethin’ different than what we thought it was. And knowin’ that, I can’t just stop up my ears an’ pretend it ain’t.” She looked at Warren, Cheren and Bianca. “There’s shit wrong in Unova, y’all. I thought I loved Pokemon my whole life, and I never even saw ‘em, not really. This, right here? This is a chance to really understand, and maybe make some kinda difference, and I ain’t turnin’ that down, come what may. So me? I’m in.”

“Glad it ain’t just me,” Warren said with a relieved grin. “I ain’t givin’ up bein’ a beluarian, but gondamn, y’all, I started lookin’ at that ‘cause I wanna help Pokemon. Turns out, for all them years I been studyin’, I still don’t know the first thing about ‘em. How’m I supposed to pass this shit up?” He looked at Cheren. “What about you, Cher? You were always lookin’ to change the world…”

“I’m… not sure that I was,” Cheren admitted, fidgeting with his glasses. “I wanted to be a trainer because it seemed fun. I want to become president because I want the power to… I had such vague notions about being able to make Unova better. To do better than people who are in power now. But the way our system is now… I couldn’t make any steps up the political ladder without abandoning Pokemon rights, and then what’s the point? If I have to abandon my principles to succeed, then at the end of it, I wouldn’t be anyone better. Whereas… hosting somebody like…” He gestured vaguely at the Warriors, though he was looking at Cobalion. “…It’s another way to change the world, and I don’t have to abandon my principles to do it. So… I’m in.”

“How ‘bout it, B?” Carlotta asked, putting a hand on her friend’s shoulder. “Keldeo came to you first. You were way ahead of all of us on seein’ things clear. So?”

“Y’all even have to ask?” Bianca giggled, biting her lip anxiously as she looked at Keldeo. “We’re in. I been in since I met you, I think.” She hugged Mina with a trembling smile. “All I ever wanted was to be with Pokemon, but Pokemon trainin’… it weren’t what I thought. I wanna make things right for Pokemon, so we can be together without hurtin’ each other. So, how’s this thing go down?”

“With your agreement… like this,” Keldeo said, starting to glow as they leaned towards Bianca.

“Hold, Keldeo,” Cobalion ordered sharply. The smaller Warrior looked up in surprise as the taller walked over, then leaned down, nuzzling The Little One with surprising tenderness. “We will not be like this again,” Cobalion murmured. “You are young, and you were born after the first Avatars. This has always been your dream, I know. For us, this is the change of a lifetime…”

Terrakion and Virizion also stepped closer, leaning their heads in to nuzzle Keldeo together. Keldeo glowed again, and then their body began to shift and change. They rose up, becoming taller, legs thicker and stronger, the horn on their forehead turning blue and ridged, their red mane growing thicker and more lustrous and sprouting orange-and-green plumes. “There, little one,” Virizion said as they stepped back, allowing Keldeo to cant a little on the spot, staring in wonder down at their new form. “We are resolute, and we are as one, and thus you can go forwards with your power in its full.”

“Take pride that it only took you thirty years,” Terrakion chuckled. “Took me a century to get in sync enough with these two to mature into my full power.”

“That’s… whoa,” Keldeo said, starting to tear up. “Thank you,” they said in a choked voice, bowing their head deeply to the other three.

“We four are all great warriors on our own, and can strengthen the might and resolve of those Pokemon who fight alongside us,” Cobalion intoned, turning back to the wide-eyed humans, “but when we four fight as one, we can defeat any foe. If you are fully prepared, humans… we share that unity with you. We give you our words to carry to those who will not listen to us, and for those who will not listen at all, we share our will and strength to fight, to protect those most in need of aid.”

Mina flew into the air, squeaking excitedly as Keldeo stepped once more up to Bianca, while Virizion approached Warren, Cobalion approached Cheren, and Terrakion approached Charlotta. All four of the Pokemon began to glow again, and Carlotta felt an irresistible pull towards Terrakion, to that pillar of strength and the will to protect others…

She looked at her friends. Cheren set his shoulders, nodded, and reached up to touch Cobalion, and when he did, the glow spread over his skin too, then began to grow so bright as to be blinding…

Carlotta looked away, then felt Terrakion’s nose touch her shoulder, and her whole world became light.




{???}
{???}


When she was a little girl, Bianca had been told a story. It was a story about a dragon, greatest of all beings, who loved creating. This dragon created humans, and Pokemon, and trees, and the sea, and the sun, and as many other things as you could care to name. But all of these things jumbled together in a chaotic mess, and started hurting and destroying each other. The Great Dragon was so upset about this that they split themselves in two, into Zekrom and Reshiram, and these two dragons brought order into being, dividing all things into clear, harmonious domains. The Unovan Civil War had been a foolish misunderstanding on the part of greedy kings, who each thought that their domain was better than the other, but in truth both were exactly equal, which was why the war went on so long. Maintaining the perfect Romram balance was essential to the harmony of the world.

Her friends’ history lessons indicated that this was not, in fact, what the Civil War was really about, but the more Bianca read about it, the more it struck her that it sort of was. The Twin Kings who’d started it all had different beliefs about how to rule a kingdom, but maybe neither was actually better or worse than the other, and they could have had harmony if they’d found the balance between their ideologies.

That was the thing that always stuck with Bianca as she grew and learned things that her parents and preacher didn’t want her to: that maybe the stories she’d been taught to regard as factual weren’t, but that they nevertheless contained something true. To her, the important part of that story was that just because two things were different didn’t mean that either was better or worse than the other. Nor did being equal mean being the same. All sorts of differences existing in the world, in balance, was essential to making the world perfect.

Her parents, and the other folks in the Romram congregation, and their preacher, didn’t seem to share that take. They were very definitive about some people (Romrams) being better than others (not Romrams, and especially people who defied the division, like people who worked with Pokemon, and queer people, and women who wore trousers, and men who cooked, and a million other things). They were adamant that the Great Dragon, while splitting in two, at the same time was still the Great Dragon, and had gone off to try again at building a world, this time to make it perfect, and that only those who followed strict Romram ways and shunned all others would be granted access to this perfect world. They insisted that all those who defied Romram doctrine would fall into the grip of Reshiram and Zekrom when they died, the two dragons having become so disgusted with the decadence of the world that they retreated to another realm of their own, where they ceaselessly punished those who defied them. Bianca had never quite managed to square that concept with the idea of a Great Dragon who loved all things so much that He couldn’t help but create them, but it was one of those questions that got you in lots of trouble for asking in the Kids’ Sermons.

The further from home Bianca traveled, the more certain she was that there were three things the Romrams had gotten right, if only by accident. The first was that things and people who were different from her were no better or worse, simply different. The second was that all sorts of different people existing together as equals was essential to the world becoming a place of perfect harmony.

And the third was that the world was drastically, horribly unbalanced.

It is. And separating humans and Pokemon won’t fix it.

She knew that voice. At the same time, it was her own voice, like her own thoughts but not.

That’s what you believe, right? A Great Dragon who split into two and at the same time is one. We’re the opposite, I guess. We’re two becoming one. At the same time, we’re still ourselves, as well as being… something more.

She wasn’t sure that she believed that story exactly, any more. She’d been told a lot of stories, all her life, and wasn’t sure that any of them were real. She just wished it was easier to figure out which parts were true.

I wish I could tell you the truth about your Dragons, but I never met them. They were sealed away a long time ago. The others just say that they were… broken, somehow. I don’t even know what they were supposed to do or be in the first place. Only that Plasma is trying to reawaken them, and that that terrifies Cobalion to their core.


Cobalion seemed proud, strong, certain. Just like Cheren.

Maybe Cheren will be able to tell you more, huh? He’ll remember. It’ll take him a while to get all the memories straight. Cobalion is thousands of years old. But he’ll know. Just like you know, now…

She did. It hit her in an overwhelming rush—the feel of poisoned water and acid rain, a jumble of faces and voices that were familiar but that she couldn’t sort out quite how she knew them, different skies and skylines around the world, new Pokemon that she knew well and favourite places that she’d never seen before…

I can’t wait to see it all again, brand new, through your eyes. But there is much we have to do first.

Plasma. Pokemon being stolen or taken away and worked to death doing… something. Plasma attacking, separating them from Meloetta in the fighting, robbing the ancient castles—

There are many places in the world where Pokemon training as you know it is going on. Where Pokemon are being kidnapped and forced into deathmatches.

She knew. She knew that now, and it hurt to the depths of her soul, so much she wanted to scream.

But Plasma are planning something… worse. Right now, this is the battle we need to fight.

She knew that, too. She could feel the war building up, like pressure in the air before a storm. She was surrounded by new feelings, new senses, new knowledge. She was all but drowning it.

Good thing that our element is water, huh?

Water. She needed water…

Through the maelstrom, she could vaguely feel warm arms around her, a cup being brought to her lips. The water didn’t just taste good, it made every cell in her body sing.

We’re adaptability. That’s what we are to the Warriors. We’re change. We are the drips that wear away the stone and the flood that sweeps away buildings. That’s what we are, to Terrakion’s reliability and strength, to Virizion’s resilience and subtlety, to Cobalion’s determination and focus. We are all different, and by being different in concert with each other, we are powerful.

They were nearby. Carlotta, Warren, Cheren. She knew they were nearby, and that they were drowning, same as her. She could feel them, like distant extensions of her rapidly expanding self, not her but connected, distinct from her and yet at the same time a part of her.

“Can you hear me, Bianca? Can you focus on me? It’ll take time for things to settle in your head. Don’t add confusion to the chaos. Focus on my voice, focus on me…”

The voice was familiar, but she couldn’t place it.

You know who it is, Bianca. She’s right. Listen to her. Focus on her. Let her lead you…

“I hear you,” Bianca managed. “Keep… keep talkin’ to me, please…”

“Of course, darling. You’re doing well. Keldeo’s much younger than the others, there’s less trying to find its place in your mind and body…”

Everything hurt.

“Your body’s changing,” another voice said. “It’ll hurt for a while. I was up and moving after a couple days, but it took weeks to really stop hurting. You can tough it out, though. You can do it.”

She fought to open her eyes. Everything was so bright, so strange, things warping and twisting in her vision…

“You should see your eyes, darling. Sparkling like stars. They’re changing, same as the rest of you. You’ll never see the world the same again.”

“No kidding. There’s colours you’ve never seen before, patterns of light and energy that you never imagined, and people…”

There was something in front of her, sitting next to her head, radiating something so strongly that she couldn’t see through it…

Psychic power. She’s quite a powerful psychic now. You did a good job of looking after her. She’s using her powers to pull you up, as much as her voice. Keep following.

Far off, there were raised voices.

“Don’t listen to them, darling, listen to me. You’re doing wonderful, you really are…”

It was a squeaking voice. It was squeaking, but at the same time, she understood it. It wasn’t so much that she heard words as that she heard meaning, feeling, intent, things that weren’t exactly words but she understood them. She understood affection, recognized that fond love, recognized that squeak.

“Mina?” she said weakly, trying to lift a hand and immediately stopping when such a large movement felt as if it were tearing her muscles from her bones. Her lips and tongue and jaw were already threaded with pain from the effort of speaking a few words.

“That’s right, darling!” A heart-shaped kiss was pressed to Bianca’s cheek. “You can understand me now, can’t you?”

“I… can,” Bianca managed, wishing she could see, wishing she could move her hand enough to hug Mina with arms that were tingling with pain and newness

“Can you understand me?” another voice said tentatively, a bundle of warmth moving up Bianca’s arm and nudging at her cheek.

“Tibby?” Bianca breathed. Somehow, she knew that what she could only perceive as a small flare was now a happy flare, like fire was sitting next to her but not burning her, instead feeding her soul with something warm and good. “I understand you!”

There was a squeal that she was sure she’d have understood as overwhelming joy yesterday, but today it buffeted her with happiness as if it was a physical force, like ocean waves that might break around her but were still felt in her whole body when they hit.

…It belatedly struck Bianca that she’d never been to the ocean. She’d never stood in the water and felt waves breaking on her.

I have. We’ve gotta take you to the beach! It’s so much fun!

Keldeo,
she thought, closing her eyes. At least thinking didn’t hurt the way speaking did. That’s you, ain’t it?

It’s me, Bianca. I’m here. I’ll always be here. When it’s time, I’ll give you the words to speak to people who won’t listen to Pokemon.

And if talkin’ don’t work?

Then I give you the will and strength to
fight.

“Let her rest,” the third voice, the unfamiliar one, said. “It’s exhausting…”

Everything slowly faded away again, this time not into light but into soft, heavy darkness.




{Reshin 30th, 18:00}
{Twist Mountain}



Dragonspiral Tower. Tomorrow at this time. Come alone. No husband, no guards, no Pokemon. Just you. Or you’ll never see the little girl again.”

“I understand,” Saylee said. The muffled voice on the other end hung up.

“They’re going to kill you both,” Janine said. “You know that, right?”

“Your hearing is scary,” Saylee said, starting to text Blue. “And yes, I know. Which is why I’m not going alone.” She leaned against Suicune’s side. “You’re fast, Suicune. If I sent out a signal, you could be there in no time, right?”

“I need to know where exactly it is that I’m going, first,” Suicune pointed out. “Where is Dragonspiral Tower?”

“Hang on,” Key said, tapping search terms into her pokenav. “Oh, I remember, this was in my history briefing before moving here. The last remnant of one of the two great castles. It’s near… Icirrus. Oh, that’s interesting…”

“What is?” Saylee said, sending off her message and leaning over to look at Key’s screen.

“Icirrus gym leader,” Key said, pointing to and expanding a picture. “He’s from Sinnoh, isn’t he?”

“Oh, you’re right, he used to be the Snowpoint Leader before Candice…” Saylee blinked at the picture. “This is a bit of a step down, isn’t it?”

“Well, he is past retirement age,” Key noted. “Running a gym is basically a hobby here…”

“If you want, we can get closer to Icirrus and I can scope him out, see if we can count on him as an ally,” Janine offered. “If he lives in Icirrus, it wouldn’t be suspicious for him to be in the area tomorrow, after all…”

Saylee’s pokegear buzzed with a new message.

Guess I gotta stay here. Out of curiosity and nothing else, where the fuck is Dragonspiral Tower?

“Shit, I should probably tell Blue that he really should stay away,” Saylee said, biting her lip as she stared at her pokegear screen. “Somebody’s got to keep Red away…”

“This is going to sound cold,” Janine put in, “but, well… if Red can’t die, shouldn’t you be focusing on having as many safeguards as possible to rescue Scarlet, who can still very much die?” Saylee flinched. “It’s rough to hear, but you didn’t ask me to be your bodyguard because you wanted sugar-coating.”

“No, I know,” Saylee sighed, rubbing her forehead. “He can’t die. Didn’t know that before, but shouldn’t I be over the moon about it?”

“I can testify that not being able to die does not make mortal wounds any less awful,” Suicune put in. “They just hurt for longer.”

“That,” Saylee agreed. “And… I don’t like the idea of Plasma finding out that Red isn’t… totally human.”

“Yeah, I feel like nothing good can come of that,” Key admitted, “but, well… don’t take this the wrong way, but he’s your brother, Lee. Getting Blue to sit on him isn’t going to stop him, and Blue probably knows that as well as you do, if not better. Janine might be right that we’ve gotta focus on getting Lettie back so he doesn’t have a reason to try anything reckless. And besides, we’re probably gonna need Blue to help Meloetta make it look like you’re traveling from Nuvema to Icirrus…”

“Good point,” Saylee sighed, hugging Suicune’s side. “Let’s get closer to Icirrus so Janine can check out Brycen while I make a plan with Blue… I’m glad you’re here, Suicune. You and I are gonna have to have a talk with Red once we’ve got Lettie back…”

“You think bribing him with the promise to tell him why he can’t die will convince him to stay put in Nuvema?” Suicune said, crouching down to allow the women to climb onto their back more easily.

“As has been pointed out, he is my brother,” Saylee said, looking at Key, who gave her an unrepentant grin. “I think it’ll make him say he’ll stay put…”

“Gotta pick your battles, Lee.”

“Never been great at that.”

“Oh, believe me, we know…”


Cheren--Cobalion


Warren--Virizion


Carlotta--Terrakion


Bianca--Keldeo​
 

Time Master Eon

Conqueror of the Azalea Gym
Screenshotter
Pokédex No.
398
Caught
Jul 6, 2019
Messages
212
Location
A place beyond space and time
Nature
Lax
Pronouns
He/Him
Pokémon Type
Bug, Fighting
Pokédex Entry
This Pokemon switches rapidly between passion and apathy
I really liked that you covered that a sizable chunk of Plasma did genuinely believe their rhetoric and honestly wanted to help and the realization of what Ghetsis and his sect of Plasma are doing being what leads to the schism we see in B2/W2. That diversity among the members is also a big part of why Team Plasma are my favorite Pokemon antagonists. The other part of why is N.
 

cyndakip

there goes my luck
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
349
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely tired.
Oh, this is the first time we've had the chance to see avatarization firsthand, isn't it? This was a really great chapter! I loved it and I'm very much looking forward to seeing how they all adjust to this, especially with them being able to understand Pokemon now!
 

SayleeK

Conqueror of the Cinnabar Gym
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
87
Location
Scrivener
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Fire, Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Between long periods of dormant slumber, this writer rises again for periods of activity that leave piles of dead fictional Pokemon in their wake
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #26
Hey look it's only one month this time! Improvement! You can also read this on AO3!

@Time Master Eon Yeah I think any organization like PETA--I mean Plasma is gonna have a sizable portion of members who genuinely have compassionate aims, and we do see that in BW2 Plasma has fractured into two separate organizations with half of them people who really care about Pokemon welfare, so I started seeding that here :P Glad you like em!

@cyndakip Yess, this is the first time I've written avatarization from the POV of the Avatar, since most of Time Enough was from Saylee's POV! It's head-melting to write and hopefully just as twisty to read :P Enjoy more of it this chapter!


Cheren--Cobalion


Warren--Virizion


Carlotta--Terrakion


Bianca--Keldeo​

{Reshin 30th, 21:11}
{Mistralton City}


Everything hurt, but Cheren had felt like that before, if not quite so intensely. He focused on taking deep breaths, flexing his fingers and toes slowly.

Be still. Your body needs time to adjust.

Cobalion
, Cheren deduced. Pain was mentioned, but why, exactly, am I in pain?

Your body is being adjusted to accommodate my powers without destroying your fragile human frame.

Don’t you go rearrangin’ my body,
Cheren shot back sharply. I only just got it just how I like it. Don’t you go messin’ with it!

I will not. It may be more accurate to say that it is not so much your body that is being readjusted as each individual cell of it. To prevent your entire body from being destroyed, each cell is, in turn, being taken apart, restructured and put back together, exactly
where it was before, but now altered to adequately contain my powers. Is this clear to you?

Urk.

Indeed. I have not felt pain this acutely in some time.


Cheren could just feel how the words “some time” could mean anything from a few weeks to a couple thousand years. It was a feeling akin to swimming too far out into the ocean; it was taking all of his energy to stay on the surface of unfathomable depths, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to meet everything that lived down there.

You do not. But you must. You must be prepared to face them.

Cheren took another deep breath, and then dived. Show me.

He had expected to view memories in terms of sights and sounds, but what he was buffeted with, more than anything else, was a wave of feelings and associations. Distrust of humans and those who existed to guard and guide them; the incredible strength of fury as human conflict claimed the lives of Pokemon by the thousands; horror and disgust as one Pokemon fragmented, becoming incomplete, near-mindless beasts…

Cheren had to surface. He had to. The horror of what followed threatened to drown him. He fought desperately to escape, but it was all around him, the war, the nothingness, the screams of things that should not have been able to live and the deaths of things that should not have been able to die—

Cher?

Warren was there, somehow, a presence wrapped around his own like a warm hand around his, leading him from the maelstrom.

I gotcha, Cher.

I know you do.


We got you.

It wasn’t only Warren; Carlotta and Bianca were there too, somehow. He’d known them almost all his life, but now he knew them, not by the sight of their faces or the sound of their voices, but their presence, their very existence.

We are stronger when we are together. We are strongest when we are as one.


Cobalion’s knowledge faded, and a new chaos of noise came, this time from without rather than within.

“—Kidnapping! If you don’t call off those feral Pokemon this second—”

“They’re not ours to call, ma’am. But they’re right that we can’t let you call the police or the hospital. You have no idea how much danger you would put your children in by drawing attention to—”

“No! We don’t have a damn clue what’s goin’ on here, and you ain’t helpin’—gondamn it, knew we shouldn’t’a let them outta the house—”

“It may be difficult to hear, but you could not have prevented this. Not if they chose to embrace—”

“If the word ‘destiny’ crosses your lips one more fucking time—”

Cheren groaned, recognizing the arguing voices, and opened his eyes.

The world was a hazy mess, but not the sort of hazy mess he was used to seeing without his glasses. In fact, after a moment, he was able to see the door past the end of his bed in sharp clarity, as easily as he could see the glasses sitting folded on the table next to him. But it was like he had to look through a fog of shifting, mingling, something

Warren, Carlotta and Bianca were nearby. He focused on them, then on turning himself onto his side so he could see them.

It hurt. Moving hurt. Cheren gritted his teeth, pushing the pain away into a box with the endless confusion of Cobalion’s experiences. If you’re changing my body to adapt to the powers of a Pokemon, that extensive healing ability had better be in there…

It is the only reason you can survive this process at all. That does not mean there are not risks.


Carlotta, Warren and Bianca were all but invisible under the wild clouds of energy fluctuating around them. Cheren had never seen anything like it, had no words for the colours he was seeing, but at the same time, he knew that the calmest was Bianca, and that Warren and Carlotta were struggling.

We make each other stronger, he knew. It was something that Cobalion knew, but it was something Cheren had always known, too. He remembered coming to terms with his gender, and feeling so confused and unsure of himself until the first time he heard Carlotta say “Cheren’s still Cheren, he’s just a boy now!” and he’d felt the calm of certainty. He remembered being nervous and scared about going into class to re-introduce himself, so everybody understood, and being too afraid to go inside until Warren offered to hold his hand, and suddenly nothing in the world was frightening. He remembered not wanting to sneak out after curfew or go into people’s gardens without their permission, and then swallowing the fear of getting into trouble and doing it anyway because there was a little girl who was always sad and lonely who loved hearing about Pokemon more than anything, and seeing one of her rare smiles felt like flying. Whether his friends had his back, or because he wanted to have theirs, they made him stronger.

And he’d always hoped, but now he knew, right in his bones knew, that they felt the same way.

He wanted to give them the strength to get through this pain, this confusion, this…

You can. Your mere presence strengthens others, and your will gives them more. But you risk damaging yourself in your current state…

Don’t care,
Cheren thought, reaching out with one hand, and then reaching out with something that was not physical, yet felt almost as if it was. I’ll make them stronger, and they’ll make me stronger. I know they will.

He could feel their energy all around him, flickering, roiling, surging with the strength he poured into them, leaving him drained, and then flowing back

He could hear feet hitting the floor, feeling more than seeing the others staggering to their feet. He reached out with his hands again, and knew the feeling of Warren’s hands, Carlotta’s, Bianca’s, all of them tangling together, standing together, feeding into each other, making each other stronger, giving each other the strength to give back.

“This is wild, y’all,” Carlotta giggled weakly, and there were harmonics to her voice, layers, meanings and feelings more powerful and intense than mere words.

“Did I hear our folks cussin’ up a storm out there?” Warren panted.

“We musta scared ‘em,” Bianca murmured. “We gotta let ‘em know we’re okay…”

Are we okay?” Warren asked, leaning in, his shoulders against Cheren’s trembling like a leaf, but steadying, drawing himself up—

“We’re okay,” Cheren said firmly, pressing back the pain, the chaos, the millennia. Later. There would be plenty of later. Now, war was coming—

“Wh—you’re up? How are you already up?” They looked around together. “So, you probably aren’t aware, but from the outside, that looked really creepy…”

Cheren could just make out the figure of a girl, sort of, somewhere inside the controlled rage of a hurricane, a power that he knew. “Tornadus,” he managed.

“Cobalion.” They stepped closer. “All of you—you should be resting. Your bodies need time to adjust, it’s only been hours—”

“Feelin’ it, believe you me,” Carlotta croaked. “But we gotta talk to our folks. That’s them kickin’ up a fuss out there, right?”

Tornadus nodded, frustration flurrying around them. “Professor Juniper called them,” she said. “She barged in here while we were getting you settled—I warned Skyla, people like her don’t understand—”

“They don’t,” Bianca said, “so we gotta talk to ‘em.” She took a step, intertwining her arm with Carlotta’s to support herself. Carlotta wrapped her other arm around Warren, who got his arms around Cheren, who did his best to get his arms around Warren and Carlotta both. They leaned on each other, feeding strength to each other to stay upright, to start taking shaky steps.

“Where exactly are we?” Warren asked as they approached Tornadus.

“Cabin near Celestial Tower. Some of the tower shamans live out here. It’s close by, outta sight, and had a bunch of beds so we could keep you together. Mina told me how important that was.”

“Where’d Mina go?” Bianca asked. “She was here when I woke up before, weren’t she?”

“She and the other Pokemon who came with her have set up… a defensive circle, I suppose,” Tornadus explained. Some of their energy swirled away, light as insubstantial as a breeze, guiding some of Cheren’s attention to outside of the hut they were in, where he could faintly feel the presence of many Pokemon. “They let your parents in, but they’re not letting anybody else in or out. That’s part of what the screaming is about.”

“Last question ‘fore we go out,” Warren put in. “What’s your name, Tornadus girl?”

“Rosa. Nice to meet you.” There was amusement, now, and genuine warmth. “Nice to meet someone like me who’s my age. The other two tribal guardians are currently women old enough to be my mothers…”

“Nice meetin’ you too, Rosa,” Carlotta said. “Alright, folks, we ready to move?”

It took a lot of focus to actually see the door, let alone negotiate their way through it without letting go of each other, but it helped when Rosa went through first, taking the whirlwind of her energy with her. Cheren focused on keeping a grip on his friends, giving them strength, and putting one foot in front of the other.

The humans on the other side were easier to see, though curiously… dull. They didn’t have an energy about them, the way the other Avatars did. His parents were on their feet, arguing almost nose-to-nose with a stern-faced Skyla and an older woman that Cheren thought he recognized from the council building—a Clan Mother. The thought twinged memories not his own, an older knowledge of this tribe, tentative treaties honoured. It was a little startling, and then just heartbreaking, to realize that despite their purpose being to defend Pokemon from violence, Cobalion’s distrust of humans hadn’t always been as severe as it was now, and then Cheren had to turn away from that thought before he was overwhelmed by the reasons that Cobalion’s bitterness ran so deep. He fought to focus on what was happening here and now, right in front of him.

Cheren’s parents were arguing with Skyla and the Clan Mother, while Professor Juniper watched with an anxious expression as Carlotta and Warren’s father held back their mother, who at the far end of the room was trying to square off against Thamina. The sturdy Conkeldurr had planted herself in what must be the front door, concrete pillars slammed into the floor, bulging arms tensed, energy raging with a firm declaration of none shall pass.

“Mom, don’t make a damn fool of yourself,” Carlotta called. “Thamina’s just gonna kick your ass from here to Orre.”

All the shouting died down, though Cheren’s ears were still roaring with the sound of others’ emotions, Carlotta and Warren and Bianca’s anxiety and pain and determination, the protectiveness of the Pokemon surrounding the cabin, Thamina’s rising aggression—

Emotions do not make sound. Your mind is simply struggling to processes senses which you have not heretofore possessed. You will adapt in time.

“Cheren!”

“Carly, War, Bianca—”

Cheren sagged into his parents as they ran to embrace him, but he didn’t let go of his vicegrip on Warren’s arm. He knew, with absolute certainty, that to be separated from his friends would sap him of the strength he needed to stand, let alone do anything else. Carlotta and Warren’s parents ran to join the embrace, but the twins and Bianca remained just as glued to each other and Cheren as he did to them.

“Cheren, we’re taking you to hospital,” his mother said urgently. “These people won’t tell us where your pokeballs are, but if you tell us, we can return your Pokemon and clear the way—”

“We destroyed our pokeballs,” Cheren coughed. His mother’s jaw dropped. “We’re not going to hospital. They’re not going to understand what’s happening to us, and they’re not going to be able to help, and they’re just going to delay us.”

“Is this… somethin’ to do with what y’all were tellin’ us in Driftveil?” Tim Arathos said, trepidation lacing his voice. “’Bout… seein’ things?”

“Meetin’ things,” Carlotta said. “And… becomin’ things, I guess.”

“I figure the folks here know more ‘bout what’s goin’ on than we do, really,” Bianca said, looking hopefully to Rosa.

“Are we all ready to sit down and talk now, instead of yelling?” Skyla asked in a tired voice. Her hair was tied back differently from the high ponytail it was in before, mostly loose now with enough on top pulled back to hold up an array of Braviary feathers. The look reminded Cheren of a book he’d read about the history of gender in Unova, about Two-Spirit people in the First Nations, citing Leader Skyla as one of the most public current examples. That hairstyle meant that right now, he was a man of the tribe, and going by the number of feathers he was wearing, a serious warrior.

A fellow warrior? some part of his brain noted. “Let’s sit and talk,” he said.

“We gotta explain one more time ‘bout this whole legendary Pokemon thing,” Warren said as they shuffled like an oversized Octillery over to a sofa that looked like it could squish the four of them into it. “And we’d sure appreciate some notion of what’s gonna happen to us next.”

“Well, Rosie here’s actually our second First Wind,” the Clan Mother said, patting Rosa’s shoulder. “She had a much smoother time of it than old Hettie did, though!”

“I think it’s because I came second, and the First Wind knew how to adapt to my body better,” Rosa said, gesturing to the four of them. “The Warriors need time. You should rest.”

“I think we ain’t got the time for that,” Carlotta said quietly. “So how’d your first, uh… First Wind do?”

“Bedrest for a solid week, and then a couple months ‘til she was moving around outside her house much,” the Clan Mother said firmly. “Though she did better once we stopped closing the windows and let the wind blow through the house. You kids feel like you need something, you can’t explain why, but you know you need it? Go with it. It’ll make sense later.”

“I think we need to stick together,” Bianca said, leaning against Carlotta’s side with a sigh. She didn’t blush when she was close to Carlotta anymore, her old crush supplanted by something far deeper. Cheren’s own feelings for Warren had moved past being just a crush a long time ago, and even then he felt a new intensity to their connection now.

“We need… justice,” Carlotta said in the booming register of the old children’s cartoon version of Terrakion, making them all giggle for a moment. Going by the deeply unnerved expressions on everybody else’s faces, they’d just laughed in sync. “No, really, though… y’all feelin’ that?”

“Yeah,” Warren admitted. “We gotta… we gotta stop ‘em gettin’…” He grimaced, shaking his head.

“We have to stop… Zekrom and Reshiram from returning,” Cheren managed. The names felt like clumsy, simplistic things on his tongue, compared to the horrors that raged in Cobalion’s memories. He could see Rosa and Thamina shudder at the mention of the names, like they were feeling that horror, but his parents and the Arathoses only looked a little confused. Professor Juniper just had her chin in her hands with a kind of dazed, detached look, like she was sort of taking this all in but wasn’t fully processing it.

“The… mythical dragons,” Stephanie said skeptically.

“They’re real, but they ain’t what my folks think they are,” Bianca said tightly.

“They weren’t what anybody thinks,” Cheren said, rubbing his forehead. “Cobalion remembers…”

“So does Tornadus,” Rosa said with a serious expression. “They’re… wrong. Monsters that shouldn’t exist. They were sealed away. The Cofagrigus told me she was guarding one of them…”

“Oh! Cleo!” Bianca gasped, sitting up. “Y’all, we gotta talk to her!” No sooner were the words out her mouth than Thamina stepped out of the doorway, allowing the brown coffin to float through, suspended and pulled along by the dark energy that sometimes formed clawing hands and was sometimes a shifting, formless mass.

“What is that thing doing?” Cheren’s father said, starting to move between Cleo and the kids.

“Dad, leave her alone,” Cheren said quickly. “She’s here to help.”

“I am,” Cleo said. Cheren could see his parents wince as all they heard was unsettling, wordless chittering, unable to hear the calm loyalty in the ghost’s voice. “I swore myself to your service twice over, once to the Warriors, and once to Bianca herself, and now I promise you again. I failed to prevent the theft of the Light Stone. I will do whatever it takes to redeem myself for that failure.”

“Cleo… wait, what’s your actual name?” Bianca asked, shuffling forward a little, reaching out her free hand to the ghost. “I’ve been callin’ you Cleo, but that ain’t your real name, is it?”

“Likely not, but I cannot recall my real name,” Cleo said, one shadowed hand briefly rising to the gold-embossed face set into the top of the sarcophagus. “I have long since forgotten who I was when I was alive. My guardianship of the Light Stone has been a solitary one, and for a long time, all I knew was that it was essential to guard, so essential that I gave up my life to do so.”

“Plasma took it, didn’t they?” Carlotta growled.

“I can only assume it was they,” Cleo said gravely, sorrow and shame and fury roiling around her as thickly as the shadows that were more or less her body now. “I did not see the humans, but I saw the Watchog who were searching on their behalf, who thought me foolish and superstitious and thought only of pleasing their human. When they attacked me, I could not fight them all, and… I lost the stone.”

“It’s okay, Cleo,” Bianca said softly, putting a hand on the sarcophagus. “We’ll get it back. I promise.”

“What’s it?” Professor Juniper asked, looking from Bianca to Cleo. “What’d Plasma take?”

“The Light Stone is what Reshiram was sealed into,” Cheren said, his mind catching up to his mouth a moment later. He was sure he hadn’t known that yesterday, but today the knowledge was simply there, in his mind.

Rosa nodded with a dark look. “It’s impossible to seal that kind of power away permanently,” she said quietly. “We did the best we could, but if the Light or Dark stones are broken…”

“There’s all sorts of legends about the Great Dragons being sealed,” the Clan Mother said. “Most say that only a true hero can awaken them. Are you saying it could be anybody, if they break the stones?”

“Well, let’s hope Plasma don’t know that,” Warren sighed. “If they’re all hung up on findin’ a true hero—”

“Or makin’ one,” Carlotta said, ashen-faced. “N. That’s what he was talkin’ about! Ghetsis raised him to think he’s some kinda legendary hero! He’s gonna try an’ awaken Reshiram!”

“If they’re hung up on grand legends and ceremonies, they won’t do it just anywhere,” Cheren said. “They didn’t stay at Relic Castle, so—”

“Dragonspiral Tower,” Warren put it. “It’s gotta be, that’s the last part left of the other major castle—”

“It’s where the Dark Stone was hidden—shit, if they have that, too… Cheren groaned.

“It’s real close to Icirrus City, though, so we just gotta ‘port there,” Carlotta added. “We can be there waitin’ for ‘em—”

“Hang on a moment!” Stephanie interrupted. “Kids, I—look, this is real weird, what’s goin’ on with y’all. I… I believe you that somethin’s happenin’ here, even if I don’t fully understand what. But what I do understand is that y’all look like death warmed over—y’all can barely stand!—and now y’all wanna go runnin’ off into another fight?!”

“We don’t have to fight,” Warren said. “Our Pokemon that are out there… they’re here ‘cause they wanna help us. But ‘cause of… what we are… us just bein’ near ‘em makes ‘em stronger. So we gotta be there to help ‘em, y’all understand?”

“You’re not only going with your Pokemon,” Skyla put in, reaching up to tap the Braviary feathers in his hair. “We don’t hand these out for fun, you know. I’ve been getting in touch with the other trainers in my gym. It might have been thousands of years ago, but we haven’t forgotten how the dragons slaughtered our tribes… or the First Wind’s kin.” He put a hand on his sister’s shoulder. “Humans and Pokemon alike, we’re ready to fight to prevent the dragons from being brought back. I’m going to call Brycen in Icirrus about porting directly from my gym to his. And I promise you folks,” he added, turning to their parents, “that I, personally, am willing to lay down my life to protect any of the Chosen. Like they said, they don’t even have to be in the fighting, just close.”

“And even if they do get hurt, we heal really quick—hey!” Rosa yelped as Skyla pinched her arm.

“You’re… all serious about this,” Cheren’s mother said, grey-faced. “You’re off to fight a war, and you want us to let our children anywhere near it?!”

“Mom, I know you’re worried about us,” Cheren said, standing up, keeping his grip on Warren’s hand to keep him from wobbling, “but I’m sorry, this isn’t about what you will or won’t let us do. This is about what we have to do.”

“We had a chance to walk away, an’ we decided not to,” Bianca agreed, also standing. “Mr and Mrs Arathos… I’m real sorry. I hope this ain’t ungrateful, after all y’all done for me, it… it means the world to me. It really does. But the world’s what’s at stake here, y’know? An’ if we have the power to do somethin’ about it, and we don’t…”

“With great power, comes great responsibility,” Carlotta and Warren said in unison. “Promise, Mom, we’ll go back home after an’ rest an’ teach Bianca all ‘bout quality comics,” Carlotta continued, “but right now…”

“Oh, gods, never shoulda let you kids read all them superhero comics,” Stephanie sighed, rubbing her face. “Gondammit…” She turned to her husband. “Tim, are you runnin’ home to get our teams or am I?”

“I’ll get ‘em,” Tim sighed, standing up and cracking his neck. “Y’all don’t go nowhere ‘til I get back, and… y’all wanna tell them Pokemon outside to let me out?”

“Stephanie?” Cheren’s mother said incredulously at the same time that Carlotta said, “Mom?”

“I don’t know what all’s goin’ on here, Natsuko, but I trust our kids,” Stephanie said, turning to Cheren’s parents. “Unfortunately, we raised ‘em to do the right thing, and look at ‘em. Never seen ‘em so determined ‘bout anythin’ except takin’ Bianca with ‘em when they left.”

“You can’t be agreeing to this,” Cheren’s mother whispered, tears starting to roll down her cheeks. The sight twisted Cheren with guilt, but staying behind would be so, so much worse.

“I ain’t agreein’ to shit, but ain’t you met our kids?” Stephanie sighed. “ There ain’t a gondamn thing you or I can do to stop ‘em doin’ a thing they’ve decided needs doin’, you know that. And that bein’ the case, I’m gonna be there to make sure nothin’ happens to ‘em myself.

“You’re going to go try to protect them?” Cheren’s father said, taking his wife’s hand. “Natsu… she’s right, you know. Our Cheren’s not one to believe in fairy tales and conspiracy theories.”

“Mom, Dad… you have to believe me,” Cheren said, gesturing to Cleo. “This is real. Over in the Fairlands? They do talk to Pokemon, and they’re right that Pokemon are so much more than what we think they are in Unova. But right now, it’s not about humans and Pokemon, it’s about Plasma trying to do something that could put us all in danger… and it’s something that we can help stop.”

“I know,” his mother said, her voice cracking as she reached out to hug him. “At least, I know that you’re sure, Cheren, but I hate it. I hate it so much…”

“Cleo, can you tell everybody to come in here an’ let Mr Arathos out?” Bianca asked quietly.

“I know I told you it’s Tim, honey,” Tim said, ruffling her hair before leaning over her to do the same to Carlotta and Warren. “Your ma and I ain’t spent all that time doin’ security trainin’ for nothin’, y’know. We can handle ourselves in a fight.”

“It looks like there’ll be more people there to fight Plasma than I thought,” Skyla said, walking back into the room. Cheren hadn’t noticed him leaving, but he was turning off his c-gear, ashen-faced. “I just talked to Brycen. Plasma will be at Dragonspiral Tower tomorrow. It’s where they’ve arranged an exchange with Sar Saylee Pryce for the return of her daughter.”

“…Well, shit,” Cheren’s mother groaned.


{Reshin 30th, 23:08}
{Nuvema Town}


Lady Caitlin Fairbrook did not, as a rule, like to have her beauty sleep disturbed unless it was important. An advantage of precognition, however, was knowing when it would be important, and being able to plan accordingly. She’d been able to retire early and get enough of a nap in to be refreshed, re-dressed and have her hair back under control by the time Darach announced the arrival of Natsuko and Li Yong Athos. Not that she needed them announced; she could feel the worry, fear and anger as soon as they ported into Nuvema.

“Lady Caitlin, apologies for the intrusion at such an unsociable hour,” Natsuko said in her usual flawless if somewhat stiff Fairlan. “We have important questions for you.”

“Your son’s destiny has come upon him, has it?” Caitlin asked. She had accepted an ambassadorial post to Unova not simply out of a sense of duty to Sinnoh, but to pit her psychic powers against the wild, unstable future that was fast coming upon the nation. She’d been able to find enough peace to learn to control her powers after that business with Galactic had settled, and Sinnoh’s timeline with it, but she was stronger now, and Unova was roiling with a frenetic mess of possible futures. She’d seen many of those tied around Cheren Athos’ hand. There were others in Nuvema, but Cheren was the only one she’d personally met at events for her staff. “Please, sit and tell me about it. Darach, tea.”

“At once, Lady Caitlin,” Darach said, bowing out of her sitting room. Caitlin sat on her favourite armchair. Natsuko and Li Yong did not sit.

“Lady Caitlin,” Li Yong said in a carefully controlled tone, “first, I think we owe you an apology for any unintentionally disparaging remarks we have made in the past as regards the intelligence of Pokemon, or the possibility of speaking to them. We now very much understand that this is not a mere religious practice.”

“We just saw our son, his boyfriend and their friends have an extensive conversation with several of their Pokemon,” Natsuko said tightly. “The way the Pokemon responded… it was too… they were really having a conversation. Which, they can claim, they can do by allowing themselves to be possessed by mythical creatures.

“That is so,” Caitlin said. She wasn’t a talented empath, but she tried to exude as much calm as she could. It wasn’t going to be enough to really settle frightened parents, but perhaps it would help the conversation stay under control. “What questions do you have?”

“Did you—did you know that—that this—” Natsuko’s Fairlan failed her, and she reverted to Unovan to cry, “did you know what was going to happen to my son?!”

“Not precisely what,” Caitlin said, shaking her head. Her own Unovan was poor, but she was sure that if she spoke clearly they’d still be able to understand her, even if they were struggling to form sentences in Fairlan at the present. Shock could do such things to people. “Not precisely this. I told you that I saw a terrifically important future ahead of him. I cannot tell you if that future is good or bad. That, I am afraid, is up to him. Is he harmed?”

“He… was very sick. Weak,” Li Yong managed. “What can we do?”

“He will recover, with time and rest,” Caitlin assured him, but her secretary just grimaced, shaking his head.

“He won’t take time to rest,” Li Yong growled. “None of them will, because they’re so damned certain that it’s their destiny to be at Dragonspiral Tower tomorrow to fight Plasma!”

“And they know Plasma are going to be there,” Natsuko said, folding her arms tightly over her stomach, “because word came through that that’s where they ordered Sar Saylee Pryce to go to get her daughter back.”

Caitlin couldn’t help a sharp inhale. Even she could be surprised, because with all of Unova’s potential futures running wild, sometimes all she knew was that something big was about to happen, not what. Darach thankfully returned at that moment, and the distraction of tea allowed her to take a moment to evaluate what to say next. She schooled her features, taking care not to say any of the first few things that popped into her head, about chaos and spacetime distortions and exploding towers. She had never had the opportunity to meet Sar Saylee Pryce, Keyanu Weaves or Blue Oak until they’d attended her party in Castelia—the one where Scarlet Oak-Pryce had been kidnapped, Caitlin remembered with overwhelming shame, why couldn’t her precognition have been more precise that evening of all evenings—and she’d still yet to personally meet Archie Weaves, but they were legend throughout Sinnoh. She was deadly certain that Plasma was going to regret tangling with those families, she didn’t need precognition to tell her that, but she was just as certain that things would escalate and there would be blood before it was all over. The Athoses were not going to want to hear that, or that their son and his friends were likely already too deep in the chaos to back out now, even if they wanted to.

“You know,” she finally said slowly, “such things are why, in the Fairlands, those in power must be powerful trainers. Oh, they must also be fine minds and excellent statesmen—for a given value of ‘statesman’ in Kanto’s case, admittedly—but they must be able not only to bond with Pokemon but to make each other stronger, and to use that strength to protect all those who they represent. Were I an Elite in Sinnoh, I could have called on my fellows to form a plan to deal with Plasma.” But she hadn’t wanted the responsibility of a Sinnoh Elite, had she? She’d joined in the Unova circuit for fun. She had met some interesting Unovan psychic-types that she enjoyed training, the Unovan League circuit was casual enough that she could participate in between her ambassadorial duties, her success had made for a good if ultimately unsuccessful PR campaign for the merits of training Pokemon nonlethally as they did in the Fairlands, and the Elite Conference was only twice a year. Shauntal, Grimsley and Marshal were all good people, in their own way, but they were hobbyists. None of them were fit for a real fight. “We shall have to be enough. Darach?”

“I shall brief our teams, Lady Caitlin,” he said smartly, bowing out of the room again.


“Our?” Natsuko asked, looking from the door to Caitlin.

“People always assume that all of the Pokemon residing at this embassy are mine,” Caitlin said, sipping at her tea. Perhaps it was only a placebo effect that the warmth of it settled her so, but it was an effect that she appreciated regardless. “Darach is as excellent a trainer as I am. Better, if I don’t cheat with precognition!”

“You… you’re going to fight?” Li Yong said shakily. “Is that all you people know how to do?”

“Now, Mr Athos,” Caitlin said sharply, setting her teacup down louder than was necessary, “I appreciate that your phrasing was likely influenced by your concerns for your son. I know how to do a great many things other than fight. I have spent the past three years here attempting to educate people, to influence your politicians, to fund reputable organizations for the betterment of Pokemon. There have been a great many upheavals in the Fairlands in the last forty years, and so we have learned not to shy away from a fight when all else fails. You do not wish for your son to be fighting. I understand that. But do not blame my people for standing up to fight when it is your Plasma Foundation who have brought us to this. Bear in mind that you are not the only parents afraid for the life of their child tonight, and yours, at least, now has the protection of something akin to a god.”

Li Yong, who had gone deathly pale, bowed. “I apologize very much, Lady Caitlin. I just… feel helpless.”

“Understandable. But you are not helpless,” Caitlin said, standing up. A moment later, Darach walked through the door to help her with her coat, pokeballs already tucked into the inside pockets. “You may not be fighters, either of you. That is not what I hired you for. I hired you for your skill as communicators. You allowed your son to communicate with you. You communicated your need to me. Now, you must communicate with others.” She picked up a notepad and pen off of a side-table and wrote down a few names. “Please explain to these people what is going on. No doubt Plasma has already told Sar Pryce not to contact the police, and anything going through official channels will be noticed and endanger the child. But there are others who may be of aid.” She drew a star next to one of the names. “Their cousin is staying with them presently, I believe, and is in the same situation as your son and his friends. He may be able to explain more if you are uncertain about speaking to Archie Weaves, as many people understandably are.”

Li Yong stared at the list, mouth falling open at the sight of some of the names. Then he drew himself up and accepted the list with a polite bow. “Thank you, Lady Caitlin. I just… I have to ask. With your powers, can you see…?”

“What will happen tomorrow?” Caitlin shook her head. “I am sorry. I cannot see with that much precision, not here in Unova. All I can tell you is that whatever will happen… it will be monumental.”

“If you don’t mind my saying so, Lady Caitlin,” Natsuko sighed, “that is not calming.”

“The universe rarely is,” Caitlin said, giving the woman a sympathetic smile on her way past.



{Reshin 31st, 00:02}
{Nuvema Town}


Meloetta waited until the door had been closed and locked behind them before slumping against the wall, dropping their illusion with a sigh. Going to the travel centre with Blue in the dead of night had been nerve-wracking enough, but switching places with him and making their way back to the embassy alone, knowing that they were almost certainly being watched by Plasma, was terrifying. Of course, the whole point was to be seen by Plasma, first in Saylee’s guise and then in Blue’s, but after their last encounter with Plasma, with that poor, discordant thing that those awful people had made…

But if not for the intervention of Saylee, Key, and Blue, Meloetta knew they could well have been killed, or worse. Those humans had good hearts that sang good songs, if currently warbling with grief and fear. And for that act of kindness, they had been drawn into something that threatened to take their child from them, so Meloetta would swallow their fear and give what aid they could.

…Something was wrong. Something was missing.

“Where is Red?” they asked the guard who had remained at the embassy.

“Sleeping in his room,” the guard assured them. “I checked just before letting you in. And yes, really sleeping, not fake sleeping or some old pillow-under the sheets trick.”

“Are you sure?” Meloetta asked. “Please check again.”

“…As you wish,” the guard said, bowing politely before heading off. Meloetta took a moment simply to stop, breathe, and listen.

They could not hear the odd, circular song of Red Pryce. They didn’t need to hear the guard swearing at the top of their lungs upstairs to know that he was gone.

He had a good heart, too. It seemed to be a dangerous thing in humans.

“I have to go after him,” the guard called, running down the stairs. “Stay here and stay out of sight, please!”

Meloetta nodded, resuming the melody that allowed them to appear, to all the world, to be Blue Oak. They closed and locked the door behind the guard, then went to close all of the curtains, so that nobody could see inside at all.

Only once they were as sure as they could be that they were unobserved did they drop the illusion, curl up on the couch, and listen as hard as they could to the wailing song of Unova.

After a time, very softly, they began to weep.


Cheren--Cobalion


Warren--Virizion


Carlotta--Terrakion


Bianca--Keldeo​

Wooft, this was a mindwarp of a chapter to write. There is some portrayal of Skyla being Two-Spirit in this chapter, and while I understand that it's a blanket term that can mean different things to different people, if I've nevertheless managed to fuck it up, please let me know! Same goes for Cheren's ruminations on transness, identity, and strength.

Yes I know I can stop beating the dead horse of Ominousness, I'm just putting off having to do battle writing, of which there will be a LOT in the next chapter :P

Oh god there are so many characters I know I did this to myself but h e l p m e
 

wedward45

The thinking chaotic neutral
Pokédex No.
537
Caught
Jul 18, 2019
Messages
33
Location
The Realm of Discord
Nature
Impish
Pronouns
He/Him
Pokémon Type
Dragon, Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Hates conflict and negativity. Snarks too much for its own good.
Always awkward when your parents find out you're a superhero.

"The truth may be out there, but the lies are inside your own head."
 

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