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Changing of the Guard
Umbrae Calamitas
post Jan 20 2013, 03:54 AM
Post #21


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Tuesday's Pack



The world rolled beneath her feet, tilting wildly every which way. It seemed to her that she was standing on a board that was balanced precariously on a ball that was rolling downhill. It kept going, faster and faster and faster, and it was only a matter of time before she slipped.

Tuesday gripped her hair in tight fistfuls close to her head. Her feet were unsteady, her walk staggering, as she made her way through the forest. She had forgone the man-made, and even poke-made, paths, in favor of the one that glimmered constantly in her mind. She could feel the way that she was supposed to go, as though someone had carved the route into her mind with a dagger made of sapphires.

Zorro. The path led to Zorro.

It led to other things, as well. The Kingdom, the Fae, the ralts who had pretended, danger, dragons, lies, confusion... it led to so many things, but Tuesday ignored all the rest. Her only concern was for Zorro.

She could feel him, still, in the back of her mind, as though when he had appeared in her dream, he had taken presence there. Still, he lingered there, in the back of her mind, like a promise, a plea. If the Fae had hurt him...

Well. They were already going to pay for taking him.

"Gotta get him back first, though, Tuesday," she muttered, loosening her fists and gently smoothing out her own hair. The gesture was comforting - an action done to soothe another person, but it seemed odd when the person being soothed was the same one giving the gesture.

"Get him back first, then worry about everything else. But you will get him back. You have to, so you will, because you have to." She nodded her head vigorously, her fingers gripping the bottom of her shirt until her knuckles were bloodless. Her lips moved, the words "Have to, have to," barely audible on them, muttered over and over in a mantra. "Have to, I have to, have to..."

~*~


"How far would you go?" The little girl appeared elfin - a child of the Fae. Her flesh was beautifully pale, her hair made of golden, ringlet curls that hung down to her waist, decorated with pink and golden blossoms. Her movements were fluid, her face gentle, but her eyes were cruel. Her tone was soft, curious, but the words were cold. "You wouldn't go as far as you needed, we both know that. You'll turn back before the end, and then he'll be ours. Forever.""

Tuesday's eyes snapped open, her entire body tensing at an attack, but she made no sound. Grey eyes swiveled first one way, then another, searching for danger, but finding none. She swallowed, blinked, and slowly relaxed. As her muscles untensed, she allowed herself to slide away from the tree and get her feet under her to push herself into a standing position.

She stared off into the distance, toward the direction she had been traveling and would yet be traveling. She stood that way for ten minutes, unmoving but for her breath, gazing into the darkness of the forest. The sun wouldn't rise for another two hours, at least, but she couldn't wait. Zorro couldn't wait.

And she wouldn't make him.

Ashleigh's pokeball was in her pocket and that was all she needed.

She took another step toward the Kingdom, and kept going.

~*~


They kept following her.

Like ghosts, haunting her, they never stopped.

The ones that hurt the most stayed behind her. The human ones, whom she remembered dying, kept out of her sight. She didn't look back at them, but she could hear them. They murmured to each other, and at first, they had attempted to talk to her, as well, but she didn't respond. She wouldn't look at them.

They weren't real.

Maybe she was mad. That would explain everything. If she were mad, everything would be clear. But Tuesday didn't think she was mad, not completely. She was being haunted by the ghosts of those she didn't have the strength to protect. And her mind, memories, fear, wishes, hopes, dreams were being manipulated by those that had manipulated it before. They were making her see her dead friends as alive now, just like they had made her believe she was living a normal life - slaying dragons - a pokemon trainer - dragonslayer.

Tuesday put a hand to her forehead, grimacing tightly. Everything was spinning out of control. She wanted - needed - to sit down, to take a break. She needed to lie down and sleep this off. She needed to relax, to let it go, to give u--

NO!

Tuesday forced herself to her feet, staggering away from the small clearing in which she had been prepared to camp. She would not give up! She would not turn back and let everything go! She would rescue Zorro! She would! She had to!

She was breathing heavily when she looked around, surprised to find that she was alone. Apparently, her ghosts had left her, which was just as well. She could ignore the ghosts of Jaima and Meiko well enough, as they had kept behind her, but some of their pokemon... they had tried to get her to interact with them, running up alongside her, and she hadn't been able to help herself staring at them. It had nearly brought her to tears every time. And the first time she had thought she'd glimpsed Shadow out of the corner of her eye...

No. She couldn't lose it now. She had to keep moving.

"Keep moving," she murmured to herself. "No sleeping, can't stop. Come on, Tuesday, miles to go." She struggled onward, exhausted. "Miles to go... before I sleep."

~*~


It was a peaceful night.

They had defeated the dragon and, victorious, had collected their reward and moved on. A large clearing in the desert, surrounded by high rocks to protect against the wind, had made an ample camping spot, and they had settled down. Laughter and friendship had both been in high spirits during dinner, and sleep came swiftly for them all.

And then dragons.

The fire came before the roars; a surprise attack in the middle of the night, meant to destroy them. Tuesday had woken quickly, rolled to her feet, her skin flushed cold with fear, but burning from the heat. She'd called out Odysseus, the floatzel putting out the fires in the campsite first, protecting them from incoming flames, white the other pokemon attacked, the humans each grabbing their weapons.

Even outnumbered, the dragons were too fierce for them. The scent of burnt fur and cooked flesh filled the campsite. The blood of pokemon, humans, and dragons ran together like rivers, soaking the ground. A great dragon lay sprawled across the high rocks, the membrane of its wings shredded, grounding it. Smoke curled from its nostrils as its chest rose and fell, great breaths of air like a symphony in the background of the after-battle.

Reilly was gathering the pokemon together, seeing who was hurt, when Tuesday found Jaima.

Steadfast and immobile were admirable traits in those who took on defense. Stubborn, Tuesday had so often remarked, when she noted that Jaima and Grondir had a lot in common. But the bulbasaur had been especially weak to the dragon's fire, and even the greatest stubborn attitude couldn't stop a dragon's claws.

Tuesday gripped Jaima's hand tightly, her other fisting in his shirt. Kneeling next to him, her knees were getting soaked, but she paid no attention to it. Her eyes were on his face, her words spoken in a furious whisper. She still remembered them now.

"You'll be okay. Jaima, you're gonna be fine. Just let Reilly take a look at you."

She had called out for Reilly, holding onto him tightly, trying to ignore the shake of his head and that damn smile, meant to comfort but only making it hurt so much more.

"Y' gotta take care of her, Tuesy," he said, his fingers tightened around her smaller hand. "Mei... will you take care of her?"

Tuesday looked around, her eyes searching for the older girl. She caught sight of Reilly, standing a few feet off. His eyes tightened and he looked at the ground, shaking his head. Behind him, Tuesday could see the pokemon who had survived the battle.

There weren't many.

"Tuesy..."

She turned back to him, pulling his hand close to her chest and holding onto him tightly. "I'll take care of her, Jaima."

Dim eyes searched her face. She saw what little light was left go out in them. He smiled softly at her, but she could see he didn't believe her.

"Good," he murmured, relaxing, his eyes slipping closed. "Good. Take care of her."

"Jaima! Reilly, get over here!"

"I don't-"

"Now!"

"Tuesy."

"Jaima, Mei-chan's fine, and you'll be fine. Just... just hold on. I promise."

"Tuesy."

He smiled at her again, but it didn't reach his eyes. The fire in them had gone out. He still painted the smile across his lips when his hand pulled out of her grasp. Tuesday kept talking to him, kept trying to tell him that Meiko was fine, that he would be fine, but Jaima wouldn't look at her.

She couldn't blame him.

~*~


Tuesday snapped awake, jerking forward, her eyes snapping open. Shivering, she rushed to her feet and looked around, face pale. She'd heard something...

A child giggled behind her.

Tuesday spun.

There was a little girl, long golden longs hanging to her waist, her curls full of flowers. Her hands were clasped behind her and her blue eyes were bright with icy humor.

"What's the point in continuing on? There's so much further to go; too much further for you to make. We both know you'll give up before you get there." She took a few dainty steps forward, long dress bouncing with each graceful movement. "Lie back down. I know you're so very tired. Go to sleep."

Tuesday screamed with rage, grabbing a rock off the ground and throwing it at the girl. "GO AWAY!"

The rock hit a tree and bounced off into the underbrush. Tuesday spun in a circle, searching the woods, but there was no one to be seen. The child had disappeared.

"WHERE ARE YOU?!" she screamed, spinning in the other direction. "I won't quit! I swear it, I'll never quit!" Her hands fisted at her sides, nails digging into her palms. "Never."

She started walking again, furiously brushing leaves out of her hair. SHE HAD FALLEN ASLEEP! She stormed through the forest, tongue thick, head muzzy, body aching. She was exhausted and running on nothing and she knew it, but she couldn't stop. She wouldn't stop.

Her fingers found Zorro's pokeball in her pocket and she clenched it tightly in her hand. She'd get him back.

~*~


The ground smelled of blood and fresh-tilled earth. Tuesday's hands were covered in blisters and mud up to her elbows, but everything was done.

Stones marked the place where they had laid them down. There were too many underground, and those remaining were too few.

Tuesday swallowed thickly as she stared down at the fresh earth.

"This wouldn't've happened if you had been stronger."

Tuesday spun around.

There was a little girl there, with waist-length blonde hair, curls drenched in wildflowers. She wore a dress the color of the sky. It matched the laughter in her eyes.

"None of this would have happened if you'd been stronger." Her eyes were daggers. "You let them die." There was a loud yipping behind her, a familiar sound. Tuesday spun again.

"Zorro!" she cried. She felt the riolu there, as though his presence snapped into place in her mind and, for a moment, everything was right. The jackal was fighting off the hands of two people trying to hold him in place. As she watched, they got a firm hold on him and stuck a needle in the side of his neck. It was only a moment later that the riolu went limp in their arms.

They held him tightly and, with a small pop and a flash of light, they were gone.

The little girl giggled. "You know... it'll be your fault when he dies, too."

Tuesday screamed, whipping around with a snarl. She launched herself at the girl, whose look of surprise was almost comically inhuman.

She didn't think about how she was moving, whether her legs or hands should be making each motion. All she could think of was attacking, and so she attacked. Her instincts, her rage, took care of everything else. She just moved, and kept moving, and kept attacking.

She didn't care about anything else.


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Master Houndoom
post Jan 29 2013, 09:20 PM
Post #22


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"Oh," muttered Reilly as he pulled his own, worn backpack ono his back. "It's about helping her. That's a relief. I don't know what I would do if it wasn't about helping her..."

Meiko glanced at Jaima. Despite his muttering, Reilly was not trying to be subtle, almost as if he had made sure the older teens had been listening. If Jaima had heard Reilly, however, he was doing a fine job of ignoring it.

Except for that twitch in the corner of his lip. Which Meiko found adorable.

They travelled in silence for a while. Jaima took the lead, with Meiko trailing him slightly. Reilly took up the rear. Before they had travelled too far, there was a pop from the rear of the group. Meiko looked back to confirm her suspicions, and was slightly surprised to see Reilly cradling a buneary, who was looking into his face with what appeared to be a mixture of adoration and petulence.

The silence stretched, with both Jaima and Meiko looking back at Reilly, both to be sure he hadn't left them (after all, the last they had seen him he hadn't been keen on sticking around) and in concern over his silence.

Mercury and Nightwish looked at each other as they travelled. When their trainers became exceptionally worried, Mercury gave a light giggle, and Nightwish rolled her eyes.

If you'w going to teww you twaineh, teww them both.

Mercury's eyes widened, though she didn't' stop in place as some might when startled. Really? Are you sure?

The mental sound of Nightwish' voice was easily recognizable to a pokemon that dealt with emotions on a regular basis: affected annoyance. Mercury did not let on that she knew it was a cover, however. Tawking is a fwee action. You wewe... fwiends with Meiko befoe I came awong. Mercury evidently couldn't hold back the smile she felt growing at Nightwish's word. The gothorita turned away, flushed. Knock it off, you'w cweeping me out!

Sorry, she said to Nightwish, then, before the other psychic could change her mind, she spoke to the couple that were their trainers. Reilly's having a conversation with the buneary.

Jaima and Meiko blinked at each other, then at their pokemon, then at each other's pokemon. Meiko, luckily for Reilly's sense of self-confidence, caught herself from speaking aloud in the nick of time, and her mental question was relayed to Jaima in the speed it took for Mercury to process it. It's psychic?!

Yes, she is psychic.

Is she a danger? came Jaima's voice, sounding dull and a bit ashamed to Mercury's trained senses. He was, unexpectently, on the receiving end of amusement from two pokemon, but Meiko at least understood the question.

Pwease, Nightwish' voice flowed through their conversational link like ice. She's about as dangewous as a puppy dog. She's as much a pwiss as that vulpix youw fwiend has, and not neawy as smawt.

While Jaima and Meiko struggled to keep straight faces at the mental image of the bumeary with crossed eyes and blonde hair, Mercury mentally rounded on Nightwish. Hey! How did you know about Lady?!

Nightwish smiled smugly. I have my ways...

If you have been sneaking in my mind...

Maybe I've been awound longew than you think...

Mercury narrowed her eyes If you had, you would have known about Squit, and you didn't!

Oh, I wasn't with you evewy second. I have a wife outside of you, you know.

Do you? Is she pretty?

Nightwish looked, briefly, confused, before she gasped. Oh, you fight MEAN!

And don't you forget it...

* * * * *

Shadow stuck to his namesake. It wasn't out of any kind of worry. Sensei Tuesday would not hurt him. Rather, it was that Sensei Jaima had been specific: do not be obvious. Do not let her know she is being followed. Do not make her feel chased. He had not said all of those words outloud, but they had been implied, and though Jaima had no aura powers, Shadow could still accurately read what was there.

So he stayed to the shadows. He knew, from twitches in her head and aura, that something was not right. But with Sensei Jaima and Sensei Meiko and Kohai Reilly so far behind, Shadow didn't dare intervene.

There was a confusion in her aura. It was as if she had two, or, sometimes, three. One was the Sensei Tuesday he had come to grow fond of (different some how, but naturally so, so uch that it hardly registered), one he had, to his shame, considered training himself at one time. Her aura was still strong and viable, but suppressed, like a tied strong man, straining but unable to break what bound it.

The second was not the binding aura. It, instead, flickered and pulsed, sometimes adding its strength to Sensei Tuesday's, sometime's separating, as if watching closely, guaging when to help. This aura was similar to Sensei Tuesday's, but different. Older, but by force rather than age. It was also not strong, not in the classical sense: It's strength was, for lack of better expression, false. Shadow did not sense a malevolence in it. Instead the emotions it carried were reflections of the true aura's: confusion, anger, fear, and determination, expressed similarly, but different.

The last was hard to pinpoint, and was not a part of Sensei Tuesday at all. It was sneaky, though, and could have been a flicker of conflict between Sensei Tuesday's real aura and the false one. He did not know, could not know, and so he watched.

Shadow..?

Shadow found himself smiling, and wondered at it, but did not let it distract him. He had, after all, forgotten that he was not truly alone, only ahead, and the others would catch up as soon as they were able.

I'm here, Little Mercury. Have you started?

Of course, Mercury answered matter-of-factly. Trainer Jaima might have even heard her go. How is it going? There was a pause, but Shadow could feel that Mercury was working up to ask something. Finally it came out. Trainer Jaima noticed that the sausages from last night were gone...

Shadows smiled, sadly this time. I have them. She left them behind.

Mercury sighed. I was afraid of that...

Shadow looked at Tuesday, who had stopped. Her head was down and her fists were clenched. Whatever was wrong was taking concentration to fight. Shadow ventured closer. To answer your first question, not well. She is obviously fighting something. There's also something desperately wrong with her aura. It's a wonder the Little Brother isn't out of his pokeball, t-- She spun, and he stilled himself. The spin was fast enough to briefly raise her jacket past her waist, and Shadow observed that the only pokeball she had was the one she held in her hand. Something is definitely wrong. She only has one--

Again he was cut off, but not because of something he saw. She had, obviously, seen him, and now Senseit Tuesday was charging him. The very idea of it was so shocking that Shadow didn't move, and her hands pressed against his shoulders, puching him with a mighty shove. Surprised, Shadow was pushed back to stagger.

She was yelling at him, but he did not heed her shouts; her aura made it clear it wasn't him she was seeing. Her shouts, even her hands, were aimed elsewhere. She was not looking at his head, but at his neck, and she was not striking the way one should strike an enemy lucario, but pushing, shoving, in frustration. There were no closed fists or outright slaps, but pushes, shoves, even some attempts at throws. At one point, Shadow struck out at her, testing her defences, but she had none. The food he was holding pressed against her mouth, and a piece entered. She swallowed it reflexively, still angry, more than likely unaware of what had just happened.

Shadow briefly wondered if he could get her to eat more during this ersatz combat. Then it was over, and Sensei Tuesday dashed off, legs straight, body pitched forward in determination.

Shadow..?

I'm fine. Surprised. Sensei Tuesday just attacked me. But it's worse. I think something happened to Zorro. She doesn't have his pokeball. She doesn't have any but the one in her hand...

Mercury gasped, and Shadow, sending her reassurance, broke all but the lightest of connections so that he could concentrate on following her. Only then, when Shadow couldn't hear, did Mercury blink and ask, Sensei Tuesday..?

* * * * *

"She attacked Shadow?"

Jaima scowled, still walking, while Mercury reported back. Yes, and he says she was struggling with something before, but he was cut off...

There was silence, mental and physical, as the trio took in the information. Nightwish looked at Mercury, bit her lip, then sighed.

Teww them the west...

Mercury glared at Nightwish, but the motion from the humans showed that she had not been sending only to the other psychic.

"Tell us the rest of what," Meiko asked, softly, somehow more devastating than the growl she had expected from Jaima.

Mercury sighed. Nightwish was, of course, right. Shadow says she only has one pokeball with her...


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Umbrae Calamitas
post Feb 17 2013, 11:33 PM
Post #23


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Tuesday's Pack



It was as easy to find the Kingdom as it was difficult.

They hadn't wanted her to find it, that much had been obvious. Every time she had tried to think of the way that she and Reilly had come, her mind blurred, as though filled with a fog.

Tuesday's mind was a... a strange place. It was her solace; a place she could disappear to and hide when things became too much to deal with in the real world. When things were hard at home, when the loneliness crept in or Anika was being particularly horrible, or her parents were arguing too loudly for her to ignore, Tuesday would slip into the fortress of her mind. She would bury herself in the running thought processes that could carry on for hours if she chose to let them. Wrapping herself in her thoughts, Tuesday would think.

She would think and think, on anything, on everything. People often commented on Tuesday being smarter than average for her age. Some even called her a genius. What most people didn't realize was that Tuesday spent most of her time thinking. Even while battling, while eating, while sleeping, she lived in a duality, part of her mind constantly running through lines of possibilities; endlessly learning, endlessly thinking.

Even Tuesday would admit that her predilection for constant thought helped her when it came to figuring things out. When she needed to recall something, it was easier for her to remember than it might have been for someone more inclined to look it up when needed. Tuesday didn't use a pokedex, instead memorizing information on pokemon and knowing types and weaknesses. She carried a map with her, though she looked at it sparingly. She remembered the way that she and Reilly had traveled from the Kingdom of the Fae. She remembered the path that their feet had walked. She should have had no problem retracing it.

Except for the fog, and the blurring of her mind.

They didn't want her to find it.

But she had found it, because they hadn't counted on her being shown the way.

Zorro. It all came back to Zorro.

She knew it was him. She could feel him, settled partway in her consciousness, as though he had a foot in her mind, beckoning her onward. The path had been clear, even through the fog, with him leading the way. Tuesday had been required to but follow, and now, here she was.

Her eyes narrowed, staring at the palace that rose up before her, all marble and stone, too white to be real. She wondered how much of it was a trick of the mind, like the fog that hid her thoughts from her.

Would they hold up the charade, she wondered, continuing to proclaim her a dragonslayer? She had thought about that a lot as she'd kept moving toward the Kingdom. She knew she wasn't. It had been a trick - a dream. She had tried to still her thoughts from centering on it, but as always, her mind had been insistent. Those memories were false, planted by something else.

But they were perfect.

Perfect memories, as pristine and burned within her mind as though they had happened. She couldn't shake them, and she hadn't focused too deeply on the memories of her friends dying, because she knew doing so would end her resolve.

And she needed to rescue Zorro.

Dragonslayer or not, she would take these Fae, or pokemon, or psychics, or whatever they were, and she would destroy them for what they had taken from her.

All that they had taken from her.

She wondered if Zorro knew that she was there; if he could sense her presence like his lingered in her mind. She couldn't determine his precise location, but she knew that he was close, and that was enough. For the moment, it was enough to quell her terror that he was here and okay.

He had better be okay.

Tuesday walked across the white marble path that led to the palace, and she slipped into the tall castle without a fuss. Her mind briefly questioned her hands why they hadn't bothered to push open the door, and her brain questioned how her body was able to pass through the solid stone that had blocked her path.

Illusion, a part of her mind whispered in answer. Unimportant, another hissed, and she moved on.

Her footsteps make no sound as she walked through the large hall. Her thoughts latched onto this with a furious glare in the direction of her senses, angry that they had not caught such a thing before.

Illusion!

We know. We did not catch it. We are fsooorlriysh.

She ignored the lack of sound. What had her attention was the lack of people.

She had not seen the blonde Fae-child since she had attacked her. Her fury at herself at having been caught in rage and briefly forgetting about Zorro had kept her moving at a swift pace, but she didn't think that would have done anything to halt the child finding her. Something else must have kept the girl away, but she didn't let her mind focus on it.

Unimportant.

Her eyes scanned the hall and took in little. There was little to see. The floors and walls were made of white marble stone - Illusion. - and they faded into nonexistence, disappearing and leaving a vast nothing where they ended. The sections where this nothing existed - But how can nothing exist? Is nothing a nonexistence? Is this a place where nothing exists, or something doesn't exist, or nothing nonexists? - flickered in and out, never in the same place twice, always visible only in her peripheral vision. She couldn't look at them directly, because seeing them would surely break the spell, but she knew they were there.

Illusion. Incomplete. Unimportant. Where is Zorro?

She walked on.

There were no decorations. She wondered if the illusion was falling apart around her, slowly saturated by her own thoughts and left to dissipate, or if they weren't putting as much effort into casting the illusion as they had before. Perhaps she was becoming intolerant. They hadn't meant for her to come back.

The girl had said she had thought Tuesday would give up, leave Zorro to his fate.

Tuesday would never give up.

She found them in the center of the palace, huddled together in what appeared to represent a Great Hall. There were seven of them - far less than she had remembered, a few more than she had predicted. They retained their Fae-like forms, elaborate nature-based clothing and pointed ears. Tuesday could almost see them beneath the illusion, however. She couldn't see them well enough to identify what they were, but she knew they weren't Fae.

"You've returned," the queen whispered. "We were hoping-"

"I am not an idiot."

The words tumbled past her lips without her conscious consent, her voice quiet. Her tone, as firm as the ground beneath her feet, stopped the lie from dripping any further from the Fae Queen's false lips.

How many times had Tuesday said those words to people? People who looked at her and mistook her for being younger than she was, then mistook her in an even greater mistake for being less intelligent than she was. This would not be the last time she told someone she was not an idiot, just as it wasn't the first. The fact that she had said such a thing before made this moment seem so very...

Irrelevant.

She was not here to determine what they were, to inform them that she was smarter than their games. She was not here to play puzzles and solve riddles. She was here for her partner.

"Where is Zorro?"

She felt a chill settle on her own arms, her skin dotting with goosebumps, at her cold tone. She had not realized that her voice could sound so dangerous, so angry. She knew that she was furious, blazing with rage, but she could not feel it. It was located somewhere else, separate from the part of her mind that she was settled in now, and there was a cool feeling surrounding her, like a gentle breeze, so very capable of turning into a deadly tornado on just a whim.

The Fae Queen - Áine, her mind whispered - shook her head. Her face seemed calm, but beneath the surface, Tuesday could see turmoil. Hesitation... fear... it rippled around her softly, lapping at her skin in blue waves. It was almost not-there, but Tuesday could see it.

"You gave him to us," said another. Tuesday's eyes found her, recognized her instantly. Sláine.. The healer who had supposedly been helping Zorro. "He is not your any longer. He belongs to us."

Tuesday felt something within her mind tremble. A wall, hastily-built and badly-made, between Real Tuesday and Dragonslayer Tuesday, cracked softly, before crumbling into dust. She felt the false past and the present merge together, and suddenly her mind was filled with all of the memories of learning to fight dragons, of slaying monsters, of being the kind of person that she needed to be to perform the tasks that she had - hadn't really - done.

And she felt Zorro, there, somewhere, within the palace, and there, in her mind, snap to attention. He knew she was there. He knew she had come for him. She knew he was safe now, because she. Would. Not. Leave. Without. Him.

Ashleigh's pokeball was warm in her hand, almost burning.

"You are not Fae. The rules of the Fae do not apply to you, or to me." Tuesday's eyes narrowed into slits as she regarded the one who had tricked her into giving her poke-brother away. "Give him back to me. Now."

Sláine raised her head. Defiant.

Idiot.

"No."

The sound of the pokeball snapping open startled the seven of them. Tuesday saw them twitch at the sound. It didn't matter - Irrelevant. - but a part of her mind still cataloged the knowledge away as something to look at later, something to know.

Ashleigh appeared at her side in a flash of crimson light, a patch of blackness against white marble. Tuesday imagined she could see the quiver of the Fae's limbs as they regarded the hound.

Tuesday felt Ashleigh tense next to her, as though something had suddenly occurred to him, and a great growl rumbled up from within his chest. Tuesday regarded Sláine with cloudy blue eyes encased in a cold fury, her mind running through a multitude of decisions she could make. She stood at a crossroads here, and now she had a choice, but there was only one she wanted to make.

She saw the Fae's eyes widen in fear, though she did not see why. Her blue eyes filled with the crimson light of Ashleigh's gaze, until she was glaring at the Fae with blood-cloaked eyes. Her lips pulled back to bare her teeth as Ashleigh snarled.

The houndoom lunged forward without Tuesday even needing to open her mouth. The thoughts burned in her mind.

Make them pay.


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Master Houndoom
post Jun 21 2013, 10:15 AM
Post #24


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Jaima and Meiko knew they did not find the place on their own. They knew, somehow, that they wee lead to that point just as surely as they had put one foot in front of the other to get there. Had they been questioned about it, and given time to think about it, even briefly, they would have freely admitted to not truly intending to find this place they were searching for.

Reilly, who was following Jaima to find Tuesday, had no such compunction. He would have told the truth from his perspective: He followed them. They found it. Simple.

In truth, they were all right. The psychic energy trying to push the trio of humans away was either dispelled by a pair of mid-evolution psychics, or ignored since the goal, to find where Tuesday was, was different than the barrier, which was against them finding them 'castle' in the first place.

As complicated as this had been, the worst was yet to come, and the two psychics looked wearily at each other, knowing it.

We need to prepare her.

Nightwish made a face that was not perceptable to those without psychic senses. I don't even want to get neaw hew. It's like... wahking neaw a candy and gwittwe factowy...

You're not actually telling me you don't like candy... Like Nightwish, Mercury's look of incredulous skepticism was only "visible" to those with psychic powers.

Nightwish huffed mentally. Don't be wedicuwous. Of couwse I wike candy. Candy factowies awe compwetewy diffewent. The smell is... gwoss. Sweet, but cwoying.

Mercury didn't answer for a while, and Nightwish soon became concerned that she wouldn't. Finally, like a soft breeze, the sheepish voice came through. Ooh... cloying... Nightwish rolled her eyes.

So what do you want to do?

Mercury glanced back at the buneary. We still have to prepare her. We can't protect our trainers and hers...

Nightwish sighed. Psychic Pwane?

Mercury nodded. Psychic Plane.

Nightwish grumbled to herself before sighing again. Fine. But if thewe's a wot of gwittew and ponytas, I'm weaving.

Coward.

* * * * *

It was harder to move.

Not that the two teens, walking, or sometimes stumbling, next to each other, each holding their psychic types in their arms, consciously understood that it was harder to move. It just was.

Things were happening a frequently that couldn't be explained or weren't noticed. Neither Jaima nor Meiko had noticed when Mercury or Nightwish had stopped floating along. Neither remembered pulling the pokeomon close.

Neither remembered why they were walking anymore. It was important that they keep walking, in this direction, but walking was getting hard to do.

Jaima felt himself sinking, as if into sleep, and shook his head to clear it. Briefly he was granted the clarity to wonder if they were still going in the right direction, then it was gone, and he faded again. He felt as if he would fall over, but knew, somehow, that he wouldn't. He would continue.

He looked over at Meiko, but her face blurred before he could see it. She, too, seemed to be struggling to stay awake, but the blur didn't stumble and fall, and neither did...

He was in a large room, one that was very familiar to him, even though he hadn't been there in quite some time. It was the assembly room in Professor Elm's lab, where, traditionally, pokemon were handed out to ten year olds just beginning their training. It wasn't the ceremony that a lot of other regions made it. Professor Elm preferred a relaxed environment. Like a small party. Jaima had attended quite a few when he'd worked for Professor Elm. But this one was heart droppingly familiar.

He looked around, and, there, eating snacks off of napkins and looking at the special placards the Professor had had created for the occassion, were a little blonde boy with a red headed girl leaning over his shoulder. They were comparing pokemon.

Little Jaima and Little Meiko.

He watched them, biting his lip. He knew what day this was. He knew what was coming.

The professor walked into the door. Jaima hadn't noticed when he was younger, but now he could see that the Professor was pale, almost worn.

"Jaima..."

The Professor kneeled next to Jaima, speaking. Jaima didn't remember the words. He never had heard all of them, just "father" and "accident" and others that let him know what had happened. He watched as his younger self's face twisted through emotions, from it's beginning happiness through fear and disbelief, and finally anguish. The boy stood and dashed out, leaving the Professor and Meiko watching after him. The boy approached him, on a collision course Jaima knew would be bypassed harmlessly. Instead, as the boy passed, he felt himself being pulled along, like a newspaper in a windstorm.

They stopped, and Jaima had to relive the worst day of his life.


* * * * *

She was here! Finally, she was here!

Ever since she had been a child, since she had moved to Johto, she had wanted to come to Blackthorn for their cultural festival. They had come into the habit of having an annual cultural festival on a near monthly basis for the different cultures that had come to be a part of Johto, and the Japanese festival was, in the words of her mom, "almost as good as the ones in the homeland!"

Not that Meiko would know. She had never been. But for as long as she knew her, Meiko would listen to her mother speak of her homeland, and the Blackthorn City festival.

The festival was held during the time of
hanami, the traditional time of the blooming of cherry trees. Because they did not grow in the city itself, trees were brought in, and the festival was festooned with them, between tents and stands and games.

Because the time of Hanami was traditionally spring, nights could be cold as easily as warm. Tonight was a cool one, but Meiko was wrapped in a traditional kimono and was warm enough. Beside her, in a non-traditional pair of jeans with a hanami top that was open down the chest, one arm in the sleeve, one arm out and across his stomach, was her boyfriend, Toshiro Yamamoto.

He was dark haired, broad chested, boisterous. At first, they got along famously, at least, after the childhood years when he would torment her and push her and her friends around. As she journeyed, they would meet, from time to time, and, as they grew, so did their attraction.

Lately, however, things had been... off. Little things annoyed her. His flipping back his shoulder length hair, or putting an arm too tightly around her shoulders. She tried not to let little things get to her, was certain he had similar complaints, but the instances of arguments ending in him staring at her mutinously before she turned to storm away.

But tonight, nothing could get her down. She was finally there, the Blackthorn Festival!

It was just like she remembered it (remembered..?). They played some games. They ate great, traditional food (why is this going so fast..?). They even sampled sake. (I don't want this to end...!)Briefly there was a... discussion about how Toshiro was dressed, (I don't want this to happen...) but the sake made sure it was mild, and they decided, instead of getting upset, to go for a walk.

(I tried so hard to forget...)

They were in a small copse of trees, away from the crowds, away from the lights. She was leaning against one, he hovering over her in a way that, had she not been through the heady experience of the festival, let alone the sake, would have annoyed her. He leaned down and captured her mouth, and she responded, vigorously.

He pressed against her, and she felt a stir of panic, but ignored it.

She felt his hand press against her, and she pushed, teasingly, telling him no.

She felt his other hand. Under her kimono. Her heart went cold. Her pushing became forceful. She whispered, harshly, no.

He didn't stop.

He touched her.

She shoved him away, yelling, angry, aggressive.

And her breath was driven from her. She fell back, into the tree, slid down it, her eyes widening, pain blossoming around her gut.

Toshiro was looking from her to his clenched fist, eyes as wide as hers. She gasped for breath, and again, as the air had left her.

He looked at his fist again, as if he'd never once seen it before.

Then he smiled, and looked at her...


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Umbrae Calamitas
post Jul 28 2013, 11:52 PM
Post #25


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Tuesday's Pack



He was alone, but he was not alone.

He had been brought to this room after his hermana had left the young girl take him to fix his arm. He hurt, and so he was not displeased to be getting his arm healed, but he did not like the idea of leaving his hermana.

She had the others with her, of course, and she was well and truly able to take care of herself - he knew that from experience. Still, their separating seemed foolish to him.

But she thought it would be all right and she worried for his health, so he went with the healer.

There was no one else in the room with him, but there was someone else in his head.

The girl had brought him to a room that seemed cut off from everywhere else. It was compact, almost stuffy, cut off from everywhere else. There were no windows to the outdoors, the only exit the door they entered through. Zorro couldn't tell how the room was lit, but it was as bright within it as it had been outside.

The healer set him down on a table he hadn't noticed before, and she'd gone to a shelf at the far back of the room and brought a small container forward. It was a bottle he was familiar with. A potion.

She brought the potion to him and sprayed it on his broken arm. He felt the healing properties take effect immediately, as the liquid dampened his fur and soaked quickly into his skin.

The healer didn't say anything to him, and Zorro kept his head down, uncomfortable with being in a small room with this stranger. He needn't have worried, as she didn't stay long. As soon as his bone snapped back in place with a loud crack that made his whole body ache, she left the room and closed the door behind her.

He heard the lock snap into place, and he didn't question the trap.

There, but not there, another force lingered in the blank spaces between one thought and the next.

The locked door didn't bother him. It was almost not there at all in his mind. His attention was focused inward, on his thoughts, on the tremulous feeling in his mind. The glimmering someone else that dwelled there, connected to his thoughts but separate.

It was his hermana.

He knew her. Of course he knew her. There wasn't anything that could keep him from knowing her. No wall or mask or illusion could separate the two of them. They'd been together too long.

They weren't quite the same, not yet. She was young, still learning. He was small, untrained, blind in the ways he instinctively knew he would one day be strong. One day, he would be able to see the things that Shadow could see.

But not yet.

~*~


He didn't know how long he was there. It seemed a short time, minutes flying by in clumps so large whole hours passed as seconds. And yet it dragged on and on, so long that he knew he must have been there for an eternity. Forever and a day, trapped in a room alone, with the presence of his hermana lingering in his head, but faded - a ghost of companionship. She was not here.

He'd been left behind.

~*~


Time passed and little changed. The sitting grew old and Zorro stretched his legs, wandering the small room, curious. There was little to see. The floor and walls were rough, like stone, but pure white as though they were made from white. The door remained locked but it didn't bother him - he did not question why.

He found the shelf in the back of the room containing the potions. They were stacked one atop the other, piled too-high on the shelves in a haphazard mass. Where they had come from, he could not tell. Their age was anyone's guess. Some of them appeared fairly new, but others... the colors varied, as did the languages the labels were written in. If Zorro had to guess, he would say that the potions, revives, antidotes, and all the rest had been picked up wherever they could be found. Stolen, even.

How strange.

He searched through them, scattering some from the shelves in his attempt to grab a few. Some he recognized - the potions were familiar. A few smelled a little odd. He thought he recognized the smell of the revives, and then there was one that smelled familiar but more potent. He picked one up on a whim and carried it with him back to the table, taking a seat again.

The room was too quiet. Zorro focused his attention on that glimmer in his mind. That glimmer was Tuesday, her presence a whisper in his mind. He felt safer with her there.

~*~


He slept. He dreamed. Tuesday was there, calling to him. He could hear the desperation, feel it in his own chest. The need for them to be together, the desire to fight everyone who dared stand in their way.

He called out to her with everything, his voice, his mind, his soul.

And then he felt the hands on him.

They were there, squeezing through the cracks in his consciousness, slipping into his mind, holding onto his arms in the real world and pulling him away. He felt the Suggestion - sleep, you want to sleep - fall over him like a sudden rain, soaking him, burying him beneath their ministrations.

He fell beneath them. He fell away from his hermana.

He slept.

~*~


He woke, disoriented. Alone. He wasn't tied down but he felt, in his mind, the Suggestion. Stay. Sleep. Remain.

And burning, in his mind, stronger still than the Suggestion.

Tuesday. It all came back to Tuesday.

She was here. Here, in this building. So close. So near to him, and desperate. He could feel it.

She came for him.

She came back for him. For him.

No Suggestion, no matter how many times it was forced into his mind, could keep him from going to her.

Because she had come for him.

Zorro pushed himself to his feet. He glanced toward the door. It was still locked. It was still unimportant. It was just another wall, and no wall would keep him from his hermana. No wall could separate him.

Zorro felt the power coil within him, as burning hot as her presence in his mind. He let it fill him up, from his chest to his claws, trembling and trickling, burning and pulsing.

It was all he was. It was all he could be.

"Rio!" he cried out. "Riolu! Luuuuu...."




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Master Houndoom
post Jul 30 2013, 09:26 PM
Post #26


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He could hear the rain on the canopy. Not a hard driving rain like it always was on TV or in manga during funerals, but a very light rain. It was only slightly dim, the clouds not quite covering the sun. If not for the sound of it, Jaima may not have noticed the rain at all.

He didn't look around. He didn't have to. There was a dark blue canopy above them, and one on the other side of the… he swallowed thickly, forcing himself to acknowledge it. The casket. Other people were there, the long sides of the casket surrounded by people. At a narrow end, where his father's head supposedly lay, was a priest, droning, speaking words Jaima couldn't quite hear in a low voice. It was, in its way, comforting. At least, it allowed Jaima not to have to think. He kept his eyes on the casket.

He stood slightly away from his mother, who had been so very quiet since Jaima had come home from Professor Elm's, panting. She had explained, of course, in a voice that held no emotion, no inflection. There had been an explosion where Dad had worked, which had set off a chain reaction, which had caused the building, a Pokecenter, to collapse. He had gone back to save some of the other workers.

Kei Kuonji had died a hero. It had seemed of very little importance at the time.

The twins, barely able to understand what was going on, clung to their mother's legs and refused to let go. Not that anyone was trying to make them. At least they were quiet.

Everyone was quiet. It made Jaima antsy. But he wouldn't squirm. It was like he felt the need to move, but had no energy to do so.

He tried to listen to the Priest, to have something to distract him. That was when he heard it.

"It should have been you."

Jaima blinked, then looked, up and to the left. His mother was looking at him, her eyes widening, her hand snapping up to cover her mouth. Tears began to roll out of her eyes, and she shut them. But not before he saw it.

She had been looking at him with undisguised malice.

Her eyes were shut, and… something, something deep inside him, told him to let it go. It wasn't important.

If she felt that way, maybe it was true. It should have been him. His dad needed to be here to take care of him mom and sisters. What could he do?

Indeed. What could he do?


* * * * *

She ran. She ran quickly, not through the carnival, but in a direct route through the trees, back to the hotel. She could feel dirt kicking up behind her, some catching on her kimono, but she didn't care. Terror ran through her, her heart pounding. He had struck her. He had actually struck her!

She tore into the poke center, ignoring the people inside, ignoring the nurses, dashing through the halls until she got into her room and slamming the door behind her. She knew she had climbed some stairs, her room being on the third floor, but she hadn't felt it. She grabbed the most familiar looking poke ball on the belt that was on her bed, and released the massive feraligatr inside.

"Chompwater--" Her throat closed, and she finally felt the hot tears dripping down her face. Chompwater looked at her as she crashed against the large reptile's chest, sobbing.

The lizard had no way of asking what was wrong, not in a way that a human could understand. She did have comforts to offer, though, and stroked her claws as gently as she could through her trainer's hair.

Then came the pounding. Meiko jerked, not turning toward the door, as Toshiro's voice shouted through it.

When the first bone rattling crash sounded against the door, everything went grey, then stopped.

"I think that's quite enough of that…"

* * * * *

"Trainer Jaima?"

Jaima jerked. There, in the audience behind him, was a young girl, dressed in a white sun-dress. She had blue hair with two large red barrettes on either side of her head. Her eyes were a darker shade of blue. She seemed familiar.

She was on his other side, and he ignored her. Until the sky, and people, and casket went grey. Everyone, except for him and the girl stopped. He still stared at the casket.

"Trainer Jaima, look at me."

Something was happening. Something bad. He gritted his teeth. "Go away. I shouldn't be imagining anything like this right now!"

"I promise," the girl said, sadness in her eyes. "You're not imagining this. You're under a psychic attack."

Jaima blinked, looking around. His mother's face was still in her hand, and tears were flowing between her fingers. Except that they weren't moving. One drop was suspended between her two fingers, almost detached, but still hanging, still waiting, as if frozen in place. His sisters were just beginning to look up.

The priest's hand was out, giving the final blessing, Jaima thought, though he had no idea where the idea came from.

The girl, the only other non grey entity in the place, took his hand. He looked down at it. It felt strange, like the hand was not really there.

"So none of this is real," he said, quietly, quieter than he felt.

"It was. It's a memory. I think. Something is off about it." The girl glanced at Jaima's mother, and Jaima felt a hot flush of anger that he quickly battled away.

He, too looked up at her, then at the girl, squeezing the hand. "Was that real? Did she say that?"

The girl pressed her lips together and sighed. "I don't know. I… we're bonded, you and I. It's the only reason I can break through. The illusion is too strong otherwise…" She looked, again, at the woman, then at the two young girls, and then, finally, into Jaima's eyes. "But, in the long run, does it matter?"

Jaima felt his face crumble in confusion. "Of co-"

"You know her, how she was after the funeral, how she was after that. She showed she loved you. The words were obviously said in anger. Either she said them, and never meant them, or she never said them, and this is a reason to make you despair. So I ask again; does it matter?"

Jaima looked back at his mother, feeling himself begin to grow, the world around them begin to fade. "No. No, I guess not…"


* * * * *

Meiko was pressed back against Chompwater, who was as grey and still as everything else. Her hands were raised in a warding gesture, and she snarled slightly, trying to frighten off or intimidate the black haired girl in the black mini dress in front of her. "Who are you?!"

Oddly, the girl smiled, sadly. "A fwiend."

Meiko blinked. "I don't have any friends out here." She said, looking at the grey door, which was still bent inward, as if something on the other side were still trying to get in.

The girl's smile grew, pretty despite, or perhaps because of, the gothic look. Her black minidress was festooned with white ribbons, as was her long hair, and her face was pale. On closer inspection, Meiko could see pale lavender ribbon entwined in that hair.

"I wish I could teww you how wong you awe… You have so many fwiends hewe, whewe hewe weawwy is…" She stopped, shaking her head, and sighed. "This isn't a weaw pwace. You'we undew psychic attack."

"Psychic attack..?" Meiko rubbed her stomach, but the girl nodded.

"Smaht giww! Some… or quite a few… psychic types awe puwwing memowies fwom you and using them against you…"

"So this isn't real..?" Meiko couldn't stop the note, or look, of hope from voice and face. The girl, however, looked down, away from her.

"It's weaw enough. It happened. Just isn't happening now."

Meiko looked crestfallen. "Then he…"

The girl simply nodded. "That much, yeah… not suwe about the pounding on the doow… that might be just to keep you afwaid."

As the girl watched, Meiko's face crumpled, at first as if she were about to cry, and then, surprisingly, into a scowl, the a snarl. The room, the grey parts, faded. "That bastard."

The girl smiled. "This is why I wike you. You don't cwy when things get wough."

"All men are bastards," Meiko spat, causing the girl to step forward and grip her arm lightly.

"Whoa, whoa, now, don't go too faw!" She pulled Meiko to look into her eyes. "You know bettew. And if you stawt acting wike this, you'we going to be usewess when it comes to a battwe. And it wiww." The girl lowered her voice, clearly uncomfortable with the turn the conversation had taken. "You've found someone a thousand times bettew than this guy… and you'we happy. Wemembew that…"

Meiko looked at the girl, swallowing thickly. "How do I get out of here?"

The girl smiled. "Fowwow me…"


* * * * *

They stood straight, and blinked together. Jaima and Meiko hadn't been aware that they had ben standing still, but when they looked at each other, his face grim and pale, hers stone eyed and tense, they knew they had had similar experiences.

Mercury and Nightwish floated near their trainers, looking slightly worse for wear, but otherwise all right.

It was Jaima who spoke, looking to see if Reilly was as affected as they were. "How long-"

Mercury answered immediately. Not long enough. We're here.


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Umbrae Calamitas
post Sep 20 2013, 11:52 PM
Post #27


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Tuesday's Pack



Later, if asked, Tuesday wouldn't be able to say what exactly broke her concentration. One moment, she was elsewhere, her mind buried somewhere fierce and hot, fire pounding through her veins with every beat of her heart.

And then there was a feeling - the feeling - of something rushing over her. A wave, overwhelming, all-consuming. It grasped her in a hold she could not break and tore her away from where she had been wrapped in flames that burned and blazed, bit and howled.

For a moment, a terrifying moment, she was deaf. There was a blackness surrounding her worse than darkness - blindness. There was nothing in the air that she could smell, nothing on her tongue which she could taste. She was floating in a vast nothingness, unfeeling, alone, bereft of everything. Bereft of anything.

Then the wave struck around, bowled her over, sent her gasping, shrieking, screaming, crying in pain-wonder-terror-amazement-happiness-loneliness-confusion-fear.

And then the wave became.

And Tuesday became.

And Tuesday was the wave and the wave was she, and the world around her was an ocean of blue, lapping and crashing, receding and bursting. It terrified her and it thrilled her. It made her want to flee, and it made her want to jump into endless waters where the waves would tear her soul asunder and remake her.

And she wanted that. She wanted it desperately, and not only because her mind was a cat's cradle mess of the Tuesday that had been before and the Tuesday that was a DragonSlayer but who didn't really exist. The linear threads of time were tangled in knots that wouldn't be undone, not without cutting the lines of her past and finding some way to paste the tattered remains back together. What was left behind from the salvage would be a Tuesday that had never been before, one that might never be again.

And she wanted that - to be unmade, and then remade. To be fixed, to make the two lives pressing against each other in her head become one, so should could be Tuesday. Just Tuesday.

Whoever Tuesday turned out to be.

~*~


"Lucario!"

The walls around Zorro did not exist. He knew that now. The white stone that seemed to glow with its own unearthly light wasn't real. There was no palace in which a kingdom's hierarchy existed. There were no Fae. It was all, everything, an illusion. An elaborate ploy, the reasons for which he did not know. He didn't quite care.

His hermana had come for him.

Illusion or not, there were dramatics in play. The masks these creatures - these mindgame-players - wore were of the Fae, and those who dwell in the Faerie Realm do love their games, they love to dance, and they love the stage on which it all is set. If nothing else, a shadow's dream on a midsummer night would tell us that.

Bound in walls that did not exist, Zorro was free to leap from his cage and take on the Fae-that-were-not. And leap he did, bearing his own mask of play and tricks, for he was Zorro.

The walls about him shattered, like shards of glass, slivers of a waking dream, and the riolu leapt free even as the change took him, a white light making him taller and faster, stronger, altering his sight. The little riolu became a lucario, his heart thrumming with happiness, for while there was a battle to be had, while they had been lied to, while he had been caged in a box of shadows, Tuesday had come for him.

It was enough to make a donphan fly, but Zorro was content to evolve. And take on the world.

~*~


There was a flame that burned in Ashleigh's heart. It thrummed beneath his skin, a constant. It was a blaze that brightened his eyes with fire, warmed his fur with the heat of a star. The houndoom had a sun burning in his heart, and he would do anything for the little pup that had saved him.

But Ashleigh could not take on the world and win. Dark though he may be, and strong, he was not strong enough to take on seven pokemon, even those who trembled to see him, who saw a void where stood a pokemon.

Even dark against a psychic, he could not win when he was outnumbered, when he was alone.

But she had asked. Alpha. The one who would lead his new pack. She had asked, and Ashleigh could do nothing but answer.

He would do anything for her.

And so he spat curses with fire and bit illusions with teeth that tore through masks and shredded what lay underneath. He roared to scare them back, to chill their souls. He burned to send them running, to make them hurt for hurting his Alpha. He bit and scratched and snarled to show that he would not stop. And he howled.

He howled a call of begging, because he could smell the tiny dancer, the pretty ballarina who was so close and who might fear him but who was strong. She would stand next to him with her pack and her kin and make him strong, because he would not be facing an army alone.

Ashleigh howled. The Fae trembled.

And suddenly they weren't Fae anymore.


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Master Houndoom
post Sep 26 2013, 11:34 PM
Post #28


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Jaima set his shoulders and jutted out his chin. "OK. How do we g-" Mercury stiffened in his arms, and his voice trailed off in sudden awe. Where there was once a mound and a derelict tree, was now a tall, sweeping castle, white walled and elegant. The courtyard was paved in pearl cobblestones, and a gate, a massive gate, made of gold and silver intertwined in seamless bars barred their way. Jaima heard Meiko breath out in wonderment, but did not know what she said. The spectacle was so terrific, the sight of it blocked his other senses.

Two guards, large and imposing, stood at each side of the gate. Their green and white armor shone, as did their swords, and their golden hair flowed from beneath their helmets. Jaima wouldn't have been surprised if there were pointed ears under their helmets.

Aw, HEWW no! Nightwish growled mentally. She floated in front of him and Meiko, holding up two hands which glowed with black energy. Wast one to weave my twainew awone gets a face fuww of Dawk Puwse!

The guards looked at each other, eyes narrowing, then stepped toward Nightwish, their swords drawn. Mercury appeared behind them, her eyes glowing an eerie smoked purple color. LLLet's not make this go too far, gentlemen...

One turned to face her, but arched to the side, hissing as the attack struck him. The other was bowled aside by Nightwish' dark pulse, landing hard on the ground.

The scene wavered, shimmered like the face of a pond struck by water, but righted itself. Still, the thrall that Jaima and Meiko had been in was broken. "Wha--?"

The two guards looked at each other, and then the scene shattered like glass, replaced by the tree and the mound, the guards replaced by two semi-large kirlia. Both looked at Nightwish and Mercury, scowling, before teleporting away.

I stiww say that's cheating...

Mercury shook her head, and her eyes sparkled their usual blue as she regarded Nightwish. I'm using my natural gifts, the same as you, she said, defensively.

Not you, dowk, the tewepowting!

Mercury glanced where the two kirlia had once been. Oh. Yes, completely cheating.

Except when you do it, wight? Nightwish commented acidly.

That goes without saying.

Meiko stepped up and hugged Nightwish, who stiffened in surprise. "That was amazing!"

Jaima graced Mercury with a smile. "It really was. You'll have to tell me how you learned that, Mercury." Before she could answer, his face grew solemn. "But right now, we have to get to Tuesday."

Meiko nodded, her own face growing solemn. They stepped forward, into the hole in the mound that was opened by the tree roots. Reilly, behind them, followed almost mechanically, still gaping at the display he'd just seen.

* * * * *

The cavern stretched on. Shadow had not lost Tuesday, but she wasn't in his sight, either. Even as close as he'd followed her, he'd missed a turn she'd taken with an almost familiar ease, as if she'd been there before.

The cavern stretched underground for miles, he could tell it, and there was an entire community down here, spread out, hiding. Only a small percentage of them were strong enough to act as a defense, but they were strong. Once in a while he'd find himself seeing bright halls and guards where there were none. Only the senses unique to his species kept him from falling into that thrall.

He was close, though. He could sense her, bright, shining intensely enough to be sensed through the walls.

Then another light flared, brighter that her, at least briefly, and Shadow found himself turning toward it. He recognized it, he swore he could, but the intensity flared bright and then faded to normal, and he lost it.

It didn't matter. Something was happening, and Senseis Jaima and Meiko had to help.

Shadow began to back track, intent to lead them to the battle.

* * * * *

Meiko's fist, the hand that wasn't holding tight to Jaima's, clenched at her side, bumping her thigh as she walked, briskly, down through the tunnels. She didn't care about the dirt, didn't care about the heat in the tunnels, whether it was too cold or too hot. She wanted to deal with the... she couldn't even put the words into thought. The ones that made her remember what she had tried to forget, what she had successfully forgotten, needed to be dealt with, harshly.

She looked at Jaima, feeling a swoop in her stomach that had nothing to do with how she usually saw him, and brutally shoved that away. She didn't trust her feelings, but she knew that she was being influenced by them all the same. All the more reason to put a stop to all of this, one way or another.

I can hewp, you know.

Meiko grit her teeth, willing herself to see past the red soaking through her mind. She shook her head. She had to deal with it now, build up defenses against the fear and the anger that Toshiro's act had caused in her, and she wasn't going to hide from it anymore.

She'd deal with this threat.

Then, when she could, she'd deal wit Toshiro.


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[align=center]Uprising Mod

||
Jaima Kuonji and Meiko Omura||Branwys Muphenz
[spoiler=Jaima's Gym Badges][/spoiler]
PANE


||
Jay Lange||Olivia Prewitt
Uprising


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Umbrae Calamitas
post Oct 14 2013, 10:25 PM
Post #29


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Tuesday's Pack



They were back at the palace, and that was the least of the wrongs in the world.

He and Tuesday had run from here. They had escaped from here, Fae on their heels, run and run and fled the danger until they had reached a town where there would be safety. A town where they could begin again, start something new. Make a... a family.

And then it had all proved to be a lie.

That blissful moment, that feeling of safety, a lie. Zorro hadn't been Zorro. They had been tricked, the riolu's form stolen by one of the Fae. Tuesday had unbottled her rage, let it lead her back toward the palace, toward Zorro, toward danger, and blinded her. Blinded her from the trickery of the Fae. Wrapped in her fury, it was beyond Tuesday to recognize the presence of Meiko and Jaima. Beyond her to see that they were there (not there). She'd blinkered her gaze, as she so often had during their search for dragons, to see only the path before her. She was blind to the lie.

She did not notice Meiko's presence. The lie. She did not notice Jaima's presence. The lie. She did not notice their pokemon. All lies. She did not notice Reilly. The truth. The only truth that remained.

She'd gone off, and he had tried to keep up, as was always the case. Dutifully following her, walking behind her, caught in the overhang of her shadow even as it was the red carpet for his feet. He trailed in her wake, unable to keep up with her, for her mind ran too fast for him to pace her. Still, he followed the trail she left behind, unwilling to let her go alone, even if she would not be alone with her pokemon beside her. Unwilling to let her traverse the world - the dangers in it and pleasures both - without him. Unwilling to let her wander into war or peace without him at her back.

It was the strangest revelation to have, that you would follow willing behind someone as they walked into heaven or into hell, uncaring which it was, so long as you were by their side. It was terrifying, or would have been, had he room in his mind to be terrified. He did not. In his mind, there was only the desire to follow, to remain with her, to fail to pace her but still grasp the barest edges of her passion, her knowledge. To, in the whispers of her genius and strength, know her, as she was. Be a part of what she was. Become something in that world in which she lived - another shadow trailing her, cast by the sun, a follower only, but there. Known, present, there - an unspoken companion, but a companion nonetheless.

He followed her, even as she wandered blind back toward danger, knowing that she went only because she dared not leave a friend behind. Knowing that they had lost too much already to allow for anything - anyone - else to be taken. He followed her even though she ignored the danger she walked in, enemies at her back, and knowing that she was too blinded by rage and loss and passion to realize the danger he walked in, surrounded by enemies.

Because Meiko and Jaima were dead. Not here. They could not be here. These two human-seeming creatures that walked with him, speaking amongst themselves as though to emulate his friends and the casual domesticity that had always filled their travels. They did not draw him into conversation often, which was well. He did not think he could have kept his temper had they tried overmuch, but he made a gesture to circumvent any attempt by spending much of the time halfway wrapped in thought, Morgana's sweet voice dancing through his mind. Vocally, he remained a silent shadow trailing them trailing Tuesday, but his mind was awash with words and thoughts as he conversed endlessly with the buneary.

It was a small mercy in a merciless situation. Particularly when Tuesday abandoned him to it.

It was not the first time. It would not be the last time. Her mind was too quick and her body had always rushed to keep up with it, leaving the rest of the world in the dust. If not for the rules that governed the world, she would have long since passed the need to remain on this sole planet, this sole universe, and gone elsewhere.

Blessedly, for him, at least, she was contained. She may have run ahead of him - of them - but he would follow yet and find her. He always did. She would run ahead, lose him in the dust of her speed and her genius, but he would track her and he would find her. He never couldn't find her.

It would have bothered him that the others were using his knowledge of tracking her to follow, but they already knew where she was going. These illusionary creatures who appeared as the friends that he had lost, the friends who had shattered Tuesday with their leaving, were merely his entourage as he made his way back to the palace. A trick he would not fall for, even if falling might have dimmed the ache.

They just seemed so real. The concern they showed, particularly Jaima, who had always been close to Tuesday. Unnaturally close, for someone who had not known her long, as though there was a connection there, something that ran deeper than mere emotional attachment. Something like the aura that surrounded Tuesday, that she knew of but couldn't herself rightly explain, that Reilly could not have understood even if she had been able to. It was so close, so similar, that he might have fallen for it if he hadn't known better.

And Meiko. Reilly barely restrained the temptation to punch the changeling. To take Meiko's inherent kindness, the gentleness that ran parallel to her strength and make a mockery of it... it was an insult to the person she had been. A strong trainer, a kind companion, a good friend - someone you could rely on, who wouldn't turn their back on you. Someone who fought and loved and lived, and these bastards twisted that, mocking it, trying to emulate it to hurt him, to hurt Tuesday. It was reprehensible.

He barely held back the temptation to forego the aid of his pokemon and attack her, him, it. The creature. The temptation was strong, and he was only able to resist because Tuesday had run ahead. Because he needed to follow. Because she was throwing herself into danger, without him, and he needed to make sure he was close by, close behind her, another shadow to cover her back and soften her fall. It was the only thing that stayed his hand, that attacking might indirectly bring harm to Tuesday.

He turned his back on the changelings, tuned their mocking mimicry from his mind, and followed in Tuesday's wake.

They were back at the palace, and that was the least of the wrongs in the world.

Reilly had followed, trailing her, his shadow stretching long, for even this far distant, even with her so far ahead, they were connected.

And they were back at the palace and power burned in the air. Heat, dancing, tantalizing, whispering across his skin and crawling beneath it and behind his eyes and in the roots of his teeth and twitching inside his ears, digger deeper deeper deeper into his brain.

Reilly shivered, clutching Morgana tightly against his chest, seeking comfort he was unwilling to ask for. Terrified, for no reason. He was terrified.

And he could feel her scorn, wondered at it, his gaze questioning. Not hurt, his eyes displayed none of the hurt, because nothing within him ached at that dismissal.

"Because he's being stupid." she snarled, though it didn't sound like she was talking to him. She must have been, and her voice echoed in his mind, the chime of a dagger's blade against a rusting iron helmet that offered no real protection. His throat was bared and she went for it, words as sharp as a knife, deadly as a garrote. "You're not even trying! Idiot!" And he didn't understand. What wasn't he trying? What was he supposedly being stupid about? Why did the world burn and his ears ache and his hands twitch towards the pokeballs at his belt.

"Reilly?" Jaima asked.

Not, not Jaima. Jaima was dead. False-creature, changeling, liar. The lie.

The pokeball was out of his hand before he had realized he'd even grabbed it, Indiana appearing in the flash of red, the monferno prepared for a fight, as always.

"I'm not helping an idiot," Morgana hissed, and Reilly felt the words wash over him. No. No, he wasn't being stupid. He was strong enough. He could defeat the changelings, even two on one. Morgana might not believe in him, as his father hadn't believed in him, but they wanted to hurt Tuesday. He could take strength from that. Barring any power of his own, all the strength he would ever need lay there. They wanted to hurt Tuesday, and he would not let them.

The world lit up with fire as he commanded the monferno to attack.


--------------------
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Master Houndoom
post Oct 21 2013, 10:33 PM
Post #30


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Uprising Mod



They had gotten deep into the tunnels. Meiko let go of Jaima's hand, pulling a poke ball from her belt, and Jaima kept his up by his bandolier. Peeking back, he could see that Reilly was still behind them, still preoccupied. Maybe it was the little psychic boundary in his arms occupying his mind. Either way, Jaima hoped he was't getting the same treatment he, and if he could tell by Meiko's stiff shoulders and Nightwish' reaction earlier, his girlfriend had gotten.

In truth, he was starting to worry about Reilly. He had been vocal when they started, but as they'd gotten closer to Tuesday's evident goal, he had gotten quieter and quieter. Reilly was't the most open sort, but Jaima wished that he would call out if he were in any kind of trouble.

But, then, they hadn't been able to…

Jaima stopped as Reilly did, his face beginning to show signs of fear and confusion. The younger boy looked down at his boundary, who's face held an expression Jaima couldn't interpret. Jaima looked over his shoulder at Mercury, who, after the attack at the "gates", had taken her post at Jaima's shoulder, standing sentry in a way, handling the communications with Shadow, and, he could feel, protecting him. Nightwish had taken her pale at Meiko's opposite shoulder, giving Jaima a sense of Meiko and he sharing the same shoulder angel and devil.

He'd have to apologize to Nightwish for that.

Don't bother, Trainer Jaima. Nightwish would appreciate the thought. There was a hint of rolling eyes in the communication, bt the voice was tense, terse, as if she were dealing with some troublesome situation. He didn't want to bother her by asking, so he looked at Reilly. His expression was one of quiet terror.

"Reilly?"

Reilly's eyes snapped to his, without shifting his head, and… something… came over his face. Jaima stopped, and so, too, did Meiko, turning to look back at the younger man. His face was growing stormy. In one swift motion, with a look of mixed anger and fear, he pulled a poke ball off of his belt and tossed it, calling his Monferno into the battle.

The look in his eyes told Jaima all he needed to know, and he threw his pokeball, the one decorated with blue and orange, and called Tsunami to the field.

"Wait!"

Meiko put a hand on his arm, and Jaima looked back at her. The Monferno dashed in for an attack, and Jaima commanded, "Bide!"

Meiko's lips were pressed into a firm line, but she nodded, recognizing the need both for Tsunami to protect herself, and to buy her some time. "I'll handle this. You find Tuesday."

"Mei-ch-"

Meiko shook his arm. Not hard, but with a look he recognized, a fierce determination. "This is a distraction, Jai-chan. You know it. I bet even Reilly knows it, deep down. I can handle this, you go get Tuesday, and we'll join you once this is sorted out."

Jaima looked back at Reilly, who was pulling a second poke ball from his belt. The attacks weren't dangerous to Tsunami, not yet, not as large as she was, and the type advantage was a help, but finally he relented. "Tsunami, can you release the energy safely?"

She doesn't need to, Trainer Jaima. If you recall her, it will dissipate. Shadow is coming to get us now.

Jaima nodded and waited. Meiko called out Chompwater, and Jaima recalled Tsunami. "OK, Mei-chan. Be careful."

"I intend to."

Jaima turned to leave, and Meiko turned back to her battle. She pulled another ball from her belt, calling out Desertdancer, and the sandshrew took a stance next to Chompwater. Then, as added insurance, called out the torchic, Blazeclaw as well.

Reilly's face dropped into a deep scowl, but that scowl was relaxed by a sudden astonished look when Chompwater was recalled back to her pokeball, with a surprised snort on the part of the feraligatr.

"Desertdancer, Sand-Attack! Blazeclaw! You too!"

"Chic chic chic!"

Both the sandshrew and the torchic scratched at the ground, sending plumes of sand into the faces of the grow lithe and monferno, as Meiko regarded their trainer. "Reilly… Reilly, this isn't you. Something's happening. It's going to be OK."

Despite her comforting words, Reilly's face screwed up in anger. He didn't speak, he didn't shout, but he paced, fiercely commanding his pokemon to press the attack.

"Keep up the Sand-Attacks, Blazeclaw! Desertdancer, Sand tomb!" She looked at the boy, who scowled in anger. "Reilly, I don't want to hurt your pokemon, but you have to snap out of this!"

* * * * *

Shadow motioned for Jaima to follow, walking slowly through tunnels and caverns he had long since memorized. It was good that he had, as he was distracted. The bright flash he had seen before finally pinpointing Tuesday flitted in the back of his mind, drowned out by Tuesday's rage-soaked aura, by Ashleigh's sympathetic presence, feeding from and mirroring his trainer's heart, and the palpable fear of the creatures around him.

Psychics. Like Mercury, but not like her. Long ago having lost the morality, which in the little kirlia had been reinforced by her trainer's teachings and influence. There was an undercurrent there, not of shame, but of survival. They did what they had to do to survive, and had no compunction that it would ever be any other way.

It did not make them right, Shadow knew. But it made them, at least, sympathetic.

Shadow worried. He worried for Tuesday, both for the odd behavior that caused her to take this trip without her nakama, and that she exhibited on the way to this odd place. He worried for her current rage, that she would end up doing something she would ultimately regret. He worried that, somehow, she might bring the others into it as well.

Why she did not consult with her brother-figure, he didn't know, but he felt that whatever it was that lead her to this place had prevented her from seeking Sensei Jaima out. If so, it was a compulsion, and that, he felt, justified some of this reaction.

Still, he worried. And with Mercury leaning on him, pulling from him to keep her own mind stable against the onslaught of mental attack against their Sensei, he could not further burden her by sharing his worry with her.

He, then, would watch. The absence of the Little Brother was troubling, but he would step forward until the Little Brother was able to come and reclaim his rightful place.

* * * * *

What is wong with you?! Why awen't you hewping him?!

The buneary's face screwed up in malice. He's being an idiot! He refuses to listen! Let them have him for all I care!. Unlike Nightwish, Morgan was broadcasting for anyone in the vicinity with a link or the mildest of psychic ability to hear. Nightwish grit her teeth.

And what if he can't?! That's what you'we thewe fow! You hewp him when he can't hewp himsewf!

Nightwish could feel more than see Morgan's arms cross. There was, however, desire the petulant child sound of the words, power and… malice… behind them. If he can't, he isn't trying hard enough! That isn't my problem!

Nightwish blinked. Was she ever that bad? Was she ever so negligent..?

No, came the aghast voice of Mercury came, sounding stretched.

Don't deal with this, deal with your trainer, Nightwish shot in a small fit of panic. She received the oddest warm sensation through the newly forged link.

It's OK, I'm just leaning on you… it's getting worse the closer we get to where Tuesday is… I'm sorry for the intrusion. Besides, I really couldn't help but hear…

Nightwish sighed. If Mercury had had to lean on more than one psychic, and she could sense Shadow close by, also supporting her, things must be bad indeed. All the more reason to end this. Fine. I'm taking cawe of this.

She felt Mercury react. But he--

She shot a quick image of what was happening, cutting her off. He's attacking my twainew. I think I have a wight to step in now. Mercury did not answer, but did offer a feeling of support, one that Nightwish found meant a lot.

Closing her eyes, leaving just enough of a shield that Meiko would be safe, Nightwish surged forward. From the "guards" before, she took her imagery; a tall, willowy woman in flowing black robes with pearlescent skin. He hair was done up high, off of her thin neck, and her dress plunged in the front. She looked, for all the world, like the stereotypical evil queen. It was, to put it bluntly, embarrassing.

"Well, hewwo thewe," she said into his mind, her purple eyes hooded, smiling. He turned toward the illusion, though no one else could see it. "You've wet me wight whewe i need to be. Thank you so, so vewy much..!"

Reilly evidently didn't trust himself to answer, but scowled in confusion at her. She stroked his cheek in the illusion, and he flinched away. "Wetting my minions get into youw mind so easiwy… And now, I'ww use you to cut down aww youw wittwe fwiends…"

"N-no," he stammered. "You can't..!"

She leaned in, right into his face, and smiled evilly. "Can't I? Who's going to stop me..?"

He pulled in a breath, and yet he didn't. She could tell something was happening in his mind, and though she feigned shock, internally she smiled.

He thrust his hands forward, shooting in his mind, "GET OUT!"

And she was expelled. A hard, candy looking shell he knew was the imagery Morgan must have chosen, sprang up around him. Deftly, she adjusted the shield, here and there, strengthening it, before "cursing" him and disappearing as a flock of ravens.

Pushing her out had pushed out the other illusion, and, accidentally, Morgan. The little boundary was apoplectic in her rage. What did you do?! You idiot! I'll kill you!

Nightwish merely sneered, putting most, if not all, of her mental attention back to Meiko. You'we an ugwy wittwe cweatuwe, awen't you?

Morgan gasped, sputtering. Well… well… y-you're a goth emo bitch with a speech impediment!

Nightwish sneered. Yeah, weww, that's an act, deawy… youw ugwiness weawwy isn't… With that, she slammed the connection closed, making sure she still kept an eye on Reilly. Just in case, of course.

What… what did you do?

Nightwish stiffened, defensive at Mercury's quiet voice. I defended my twainew.

But… you lost… you let yourself lose… you hate to lose…!

Nightwish relaxed, smiling, and leaning, slightly, just to get her breath back, of course, against Mercury's braced mind. Not weawwy, I didn't… I was making suwe he pushed me out, so he could push them out… he did… and since that's what I wanted, I won…

Mercury didn't answer. Not vocally. But she felt the warmth flood their connection, like a hug from a long lost friend. It was no longer a surprise that she didn't hate it.


--------------------
[align=center]Uprising Mod

||
Jaima Kuonji and Meiko Omura||Branwys Muphenz
[spoiler=Jaima's Gym Badges][/spoiler]
PANE


||
Jay Lange||Olivia Prewitt
Uprising


As of January 29, 2010, at approximately 7:50am CST, 2gamers helped me complete my pokedex!

:houndoom: I claim Houndoom! :houndoom: [/align]
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Umbrae Calamitas
post Oct 23 2013, 01:01 AM
Post #31


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Tuesday's Pack



Reilly shook his head, blinking rapidly.

There was a sort of fuzzy feeling in his brain, not unlike the feeling he got right after cold medicine kicked in and his thought processes decided to digress to muk-paced. He blinked again, as though doing so would clear out the film that coated his brain as easily as it did the sand that stuck in his eyes when he awoke in the morning.

A memory flitted through his mind, briefly, almost too quick to grasp, of a tall, slender woman, beautiful and terrifying at once, dressed all in black with a horrible sneer across her face. He tried to place her, tried to slot her appearance to a name in his mind. There was something about her that told him that she wasn't real in the way that he was real, and yet, she was more real than he was a moment ago...

Oh. Malificent. The villain from Sleeping Beauty. Right, that was the last time he discussed Disney movies with his sister in an email.

Casting the thought of her from his mind, Reilly looked up, glanced around. Had he been consciously thinking of it, he might have noticed that the re-categorization of his mind took barely a second, the synapses in his brain firing and thought processes occurring within a moment. It was usually psychics who noticed this most often, and those with close encounters with psychics, and since Reilly was the latter to some degree, it was probable he might have noticed if he had taken a moment to.

He didn't bother, however, instead casting the thoughts from his mind of anything that had occurred prior to that moment. His brain noted that it was unimportant without consciously asking him from input one way or another, and so he didn't bother to question what had occurred. If he had, he might have looked back and been bothered to encounter a blank spot in his memory, a place where a series of memories that didn't actually occur had once dwelled. Reilly, though, had never been a person who dwelled on the past - he was very much a man of the here and now and the future, and so he didn't look back, he didn't see the void in his memory, and he didn't worry on it.

He did, however, feel very confused to look up and see Meiko standing across from him, two of her pokemon out, standing in front of Indiana and Phoenix, the four of them looking as though they had been fighting. As though they had been battling.

And Reilly didn't remember calling out his pokemon...

His arms tightened instinctively on Morgan, hugging the buneary close to his chest as a child might cuddle a stuffed animal in a moment of discontent. He ducked his face down toward her, his mouth opening to whisper a question, to ask what had happened.

"Get off me!" Her words were sharp, echoing out around him, projecting telepathically but for anyone in the vicinity to hear. He felt the barest echoes strike almost physically against something in his mind, a shield he hadn't realized that he had been projecting, red like an M&M and tasting of chocolate to his mental sense of taste.

He didn't release he quickly enough, apparently, because Morgan's paw swatted out, catching him across the cheek, her tiny claws burning as they cut him shallowly. He jerked back on instinct, arms loosening, and she jumped from his grasp at the first chance, rear legs kicking him hard in the chest. She didn't land on the ground yet before her paw snapped out and slapped a pokeball on his belt. There was a flash of red light and Morgan disappeared, sucked into the pokeball.

Reilly stared down at the spot where Morgan had been about to land, one hand pressed against his lightly-bleeding cheek. His eyebrows were furrowed and he was trying to figure out what he might have done... of course, maybe he had been blocking her with the shield and she had been trying to talk to him. If he had been ignoring her, she might have been angry, though it hadn't been intentional. He must have done something...

Glancing up, he saw Meiko watching him, her face oddly hopeful.

He pulled his hand away from his cheek and checked it. His fingertips were a little pink, but he was sure he'd live. Knuckling his cheek for good measure, trying not to wince pathetically, he looked back up at Meiko, sparing a glance at her pokemon as he recalled Phoenix and Indiana with a whisper of thanks, though he wasn't sure what for.

"Did, um... did something happen that I don't know about?"

~*~


Ashleigh lunged and ducked and bit and snarled and howled and breathed flames. The world danced in front of him, Fae screaming and running, ducking and trying to fight back. A swung blade from the hands of one of the Fae guards didn't seem to act quite right, didn't feel like a blade should feel - shouldn't it feel like claws? Ashleigh did not focus long on the thoughts of things not being quite like they should be, because nothing was like it should be when there were people attacking his alpha. And he didn't need to think about it when people attacked his alpha, because there was only one response for him to act with.

He would defend her.

And he bit and breathed fire and ducked the swing of a blade, only there was a sound behind him as though the blade had been thrown and missed him, only it was still in his opponent's hands. He was confused, but not confused, because he didn't bother to focus on the blade that mustn't be working properly, because he needed only to attack. And if the Fae dropped the blade and it disappeared into smoke because Ashleigh bit down on the Fae's hand, then that was all the better.

His head wasn't filled with Tuesday anymore like it had been a moment ago, and he felt lost without her there, but not lost, because he knew what to do without her needing to tell him. He had only to defend her, and that was easy, even if she didn't give commands. Defending was easy. Ashleigh used to defend his pack, even though he had been small and weak and a runt back then, he had still tried to defend. And now he could defend his alpha, only not just try, but do and succeed and be a good dog, which is what Ashleigh really wanted. He liked to be a good dog, because good dogs got belly rubs and hugs and love and they got to keep their trainers because a good dog kept his trainer safe.

And Ashleigh dodged again, and once more, and then bit, and bit fire, and jumped on the swordless Fae's face, because he tried to get by Ashleigh to attack his alpha, and that was not allowed. Because Ashleigh was a good dog and he wouldn't let his alpha be hurt.

~*~


She was there, inside his head, and he felt whole like he hadn't realized before that he wasn't. He was filled up inside, full for the first time in his life, and he thought that surely he would never be hungry again, or thirsty, or lonely or lost, because she was there, and that meant everything was right.

Zorro slid down a rocky cliff wall and didn't pause, dashing off. He knew where his hermana was. He could feel her. She was there, inside his mind, but also there, some distance ahead. Only he knew precisely where there was and so he could follow her, find her, and be with her, in his head and outside of it, too. And once he was there with her, he wouldn't ever leave again, he knew that. It was important. Because she was his, and he was hers, and that was forever.

He knew that. If he never knew anything else, if he forgot everything else, he would always know that.

She was lost. Confused and alone, but not alone, because things weren't right. Ashleigh was with her, Zorro knew that, because his hermana knew that Ashleigh was there, but there was also confusion. Because Tuesday was Tuesday, but not the Tuesday he was used to. She was another Tuesday, different, older, lost and hurt in her heart and scared and very, very lonely.

Only she shouldn't be lonely, because Zorro was there, even if he wasn't quite there, yet. But he would be there soon, and then everything would be right. And the things that weren't, he would fix.

He dodged to the left to run around through a separate tunnel that would cut a few seconds off of his journey - how did he know that? - and he thought about what it was in his hermana's mind that wasn't quite right. There was something there that didn't belong, attached to her like a leech, sucking comfort out of her, sucking innocence and youth, and leaving behind something else - that lost feeling, that pain.

There was a sensation in his heart, a I have lost everything feeling that Zorro remembered when he was young and he lay next to his mother long after she had stopped being warm. He remembered the feeling, recognized it, and it frightened him, because his hermana only had Ashleigh fighting beside her.

Where was everyone else? Did she lose everyone else?

And where was Jaima, who was strong? Where was Meiko, who was kind? Where was Shadow, his brother, who was wise? Where was the pretty ballerina, who was fierce? Were they all gone?

All gone, a voice in her head whispered, echoing into his. They're dead. They're gone.

And it chilled him, scared him, made him ache and whimper and shiver and slow. He stumbled to a halt in the cavern, brought to his knees and curling up within the darkness of too-close walls and too-far between them.

Lost. Everyone was lost.

All gone, the voice whispered.

A little girl's voice. Cold and giggling, like a child that was too pleased with the wording to be a child.

Zorro drew a deep breath. The air was warm.

"Tuesday." He thought her name. Thought it hard, as hard as he could with a mind that could never reach her like the pretty ballerina's mind could. And yet. And yet, he felt, for a moment, as though he had. Not the word. Not even her name. Just a feeling.

"Tuesday. I am here."

Zorro.

He ran.

He didn't try to tell her that they weren't lost. Didn't try to tell her that they weren't dead, weren't gone, because he was not the pretty ballerina and so he could not send his thoughts. But he thought, maybe, he could send her a feeling. He could send her all of his feelings. He could feel his love for her and send it like a paper airplane through this strange connection they shared. He could send his trust and his faith and his friendship. He could feel hope as hard as he could and send that, too.

Because Zorro didn't trust the little giggling child's voice that whispered They're dead, and Zorro didn't believe that even death could stop Jaima the strong from protecting his hermana.

Because they were family, and Zorro knew what family was. His mother had taught him that. Family was many things, and dead was not one of them. People got cold, but family didn't.

And maybe, maybe Zorro was just a little stubborn, but that was okay. Stubborn could be useful.

He could feel a little stubborn and send it through their link, too, because maybe his hermana needed to feel just a little more like she wasn't going to take their crap.

He rounded a corner and blinked at the sight that he saw. Shadow's back as the lucario jogged down the cave tunnel, Jaima at his side, his pokemon with him. And the pretty ballerina was there, only she looked weary and maybe sad - it was hard to tell from the back.

But ha! They were alive, and the giggling child's voice could just shut up and not even try anything with his hermana, because Zorro wasn't going to let these lies go on. And Jaima was here, and that meant things were about to get nasty. Zorro remembered how stubborn he could be when he put his mind on it and took his glasses off.

He didn't slow. Now wasn't the time to be social. His hermana needed him and he was going to her. But he may have let off a little bit of a too-happy bark and he may have shouted "bonita bailarina" a little too loudly if the echo in the cavern was anything to go by, but he was just happy to see them. And if he touched Shadow's shoulder as he ran by, it wasn't to make sure the lucario was really there, it was just to tease. Really. His grin had absolutely nothing to do with the slightly surprised look on the lucario's face as he recognized him, before Zorro turned another corner and continued on.

Because he was almost to his hermana, and this facade was almost done.


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Master Houndoom
post Oct 23 2013, 11:04 PM
Post #32


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Shadow felt the touch a split second before it actually connected. Time drew out as a paw, a paw not his own, touched his fur clad shoulder. In that time, information flooded his senses. Tastes, smells, sounds, sight, feeling, emotions; all in the space of the briefest of touches, he received the sensory input of minutes.

It was Zorro who had passed them, dashing with exuberance toward his sensei, his trainer, his hermana. He was full of power he had never imagined, his joy that he had evolved and that had fueled the evolution filling him to near bursting. His mind still echoed with “she is here, she is here, she is here,” and the exuberance that litany brought nearly made Shadow leap in joy.

He had been a captive, in a room, and in his own body, and was now free.

He could sense her, and them, and everyone. His senses, his aura awareness told him everything he had to know, powered and enhanced, and powering and enhancing in kind, from Tuesdays burgeoning abilities.

The first emotion that was, once again, Shadows own, was jealousy. That Zorro knew the joy of such a bond, the joy of a bond that Shadow would never experience. For a bare moment, Shadow was jealous.

His disgust at his own base emotion lasted much longer.

That was Zorro that passed us, Shadow said, his body and emotional surprise having not yet caught up or digested, or perhaps he was caught up in the surprise Mercury and Sensei Jaima felt. He’s going to Tuesday now!

Jaima looked down the tunnel, but could not see very far. Unlike Mercury, who could see psychically, or Shadow, who could see with his aura senses, he was limited by his all too human eyes. “Lead the way, then. That’s where we need to be.”

Shadow began to lead, his shoulders hunched. A soft touch to his mind nearly stopped him, but he pressed on.

It’s all right, Shadow. It is. He wouldn’t hate you for how you’re feeling.

Shadow didn’t answer. He likely didn’t need to. But he knew, deep in his heart, that if he continued to resent his Sensei, he would hate himself.

* * * * *

Nightwish rolled her eyes at the buneary's display. As far as her physical prowess, it was impressive, her calling herself back while flipping from her trainer’s arms. Psychically, it was pathetic. A child’s tantrum, taken out on someone who’d had nothing to do with the situation she was angry at.

Someone, psychically or otherwise, needed to put that little beast over their knee. Nightwish found herself hoping she would get that particular pleasure.

Meiko was approaching Reilly, cautious, but hopeful. He had recalled his pokemon, his face was no longer clouded with hurt and anger. He seemed more confused than anything, though the boundary leaping from his arms had understandably caused pain, too.

“Do you remember anything..?” She spoke cautiously, but she did not coddle the boy, knowing from experience with a prickly best friend when she was just a child that if a younger boy felt coddled, he had a tendency to clam up. Boys.

“We… were going after Tuesday, right?” Reilly’s confusion erased the hurt, if only briefly. “We followed her… then… why were we battling?” His eyes grew sharp, accusing, as if Meiko had caused them to waste time with the battle. The older girl bit her lip, satisfied he wasn’t going to attack yet, but did not answer.

She turned and reached into her pack, finding a small plastic kit. “It was a misunderstanding,” she said, finally, reaching out, mentally, to Nightwish. The gothorita anticipated any questions.

He doesn’t wemembew anything.

Meiko gave a nod, as if to herself, and handed the kit to Reilly. “You’ve got a nasty scrape on your cheek.”

“I’m fine,” Reilly said, looking around. “We-“

“Yes, you’re fine, until that starts stinging. Now come on. Jaima’s ahead of us, but I get the feeling they’re going to need help.” Without waiting for a reply, she turned to go. She knew Reilly was right behind her, and smiled, just a bit, when he took the mini first aid kit, grumbling all the while.


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Umbrae Calamitas
post Oct 24 2013, 06:48 AM
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Tuesday's Pack



There were so many feelings in her head. Feelings that were hers, but weren't. She could recognize the difference on a level that she couldn't name. There were those sensations which she knew to be hers; the anger at the Fae, the concern for Zorro, the fear that she wouldn't be enough. And then there were the sensations which were not hers; the utter joy that flooded through her, the stirring hilarity at some revelation that nearly made her laugh aloud, the hope that didn't have a place here in her mind, the surprise, the feeling of stubborn determination that filled her up and held her resolve fast like so much superglue.

She was confused, and that emotion was entirely hers. She could recognize that many of these emotions did not belong to her, and yet, she did not desire to cast them out immediately. Not because she wanted to feel them, and not because they were not foreign, but because she recognized, somehow, on some level, that where they came from was a benign place. A place that would not harm her. Confused, a little startled, but unafraid, she let the emotions flow through her, acknowledged them as they came, and then let them wash out in their own time.

Her attention wavered between the battle with the Fae and her curiosity and slight worry over her connection with Ashleigh having been severed. It was such a natural connection that she had snapped into with the houndoom that she hadn't recognized it being such until it was broken. She was left feeling bereft of the warmth of the dark dog's fire, lost on two legs when she had begun to grow accustomed to four. There were teeth meant for gnashing and grinding in her mouth, but she wanted the fangs back that felt right in a way that her own body now didn't.

And she could admit that was a little terrifying, that she didn't feel right standing here in her own form. How warped was she to feel out of place?

Ashleigh dodged an attack and released his own without needing any commands from her, which was just as well, because Tuesday felt lost. She felt a little like she didn't know who she was. She was not unaware that the Fae had been mucking about with her brain, but she didn't understand yet where the line fell. What was real and what was merely a shadow of reality? She was certain that she recalled seeing Meiko and Jaima following her, and yet she recalled just as vividly their deaths. She knew that she had been traveling for some time with Reilly, that they had grown closer than they ever would have expected upon their initial meeting so long ago, but there was a distance between them now, physical and otherwise, that didn't fit with that memory. He wasn't here beside her, as he should have been, so perhaps that had been a lie.

It was the lack of a proper outline of her life which had her so lost in her own head. More than confusion at who was alive and who was her friend, Tuesday didn't know who she was. How was she to battle, to fight her enemies, to know who her enemies were, when the very basest of all knowledge one needed to know to live was lost to her?

She knew only that Zorro had been taken from her. She knew that he had been taken by the Fae. That made the Fae her enemies.

But what did that make her?

~*~


Zorro could feel the confusion rolling through his body. It was Tuesday's, not his. Zorro was not confused. His hermana was in danger and had come for him. Zorro would go to her and be with her, and that was all that was needed. Beyond that, he could see the dancing waves of emotions and feelings, upheaval and rest, and the knowledge that these waves gave him flowed through his mind in so strange a way. Was this what it felt like for his hermana all of the time, constantly thinking thinking thinking? He would have thought it was exhausting, but every thought was an utter thrill. All that he knew paled in comparison to all that he could know, if he just looked to the next wave.

His feet carried him to her, but he felt the battle before he saw it. Her confusion and anger, Ashleigh determination and loyalty, and the myriad emotions of the Fae who were not. Fear, a tantalizing emotion because he knew much of it was caused by his hermana - her unrelenting stubbornness confused and frightened them, for they were accustomed to dealing with the weak-minded and always got their way.

But his hermana was not weak, and this time, they would learn their first lesson in losing gracefully.

His bark was a looping cry of the first syllable of his species. He leapt into the air, flipping forward. It was both more difficult and easier than it had been before he evolution. He was larger now, heavier, and he would need to make adjustments to his technique and learn this new body. Just the same, he was stronger in this new form, and while larger, he was still thin and lithe, and Zorro had always been a fast learner.

He righted himself, striking feet first into the chest of one of the Fae who were not. The creature let out a cry, breath knocked from their lungs, and Zorro landed in between he and his hermana.

It was the one who had called himself King - the alpha-male of their group. Zorro lifted his head, baring teeth in a soundless snarl, as the creature took to its feet again.

"So you've changed," the Fae King said. "And yet still you serve a human."

Zorro sniffed, insulted. "My sister does not make slaves of her friends."

"Sister?! Ha!" The creature lashed out. "She doesn't consider you her brother, foolish dog! You're nothing but a beast to her, collared and kenneled, cast aside when you're no longer wanted."

Zorro dodged the attack and it went wild behind him. He did not need to look, but knew from the feeling that Ashleigh had dodged the strike and used the momentum from his movements to take down another of the Fae, pinning him with four heavy paws and a snarl.

"You are wrong."

"Yet, I am free!"

Zorro flipped backward to avoid the attack the King unleashed, but it caught him anyway, too large to dodge. He was tossed backward, his view of the world and how it sat momentarily lost, and he only barely managed to catch his feet on solid ground. Still, he stumbled back a step.

Ashleigh barked, a sharp sound, and Zorro ducked. The sword went flying over his head, barely missing the King, to vanish into the air behind him as though it had never been. And, of course, it hadn't. None of these creatures bore swords. They were not really Fae.

"Zorro?" Tuesday called, her voice filled with confusion and hope and relief and disappointment all at once. Zorro turned long enough to flash her a grin. It looked different on his new face, and yet it was still the same, and he felt her relief and happiness fill him. It quieted the briefly worried part of him that had felt her disappointment and despaired. She had not borne witness to his evolution and she was sad to have missed it, that was all. The pleasure she felt at his presence, the relief that he was safe, eclipsed all else.

Except for the awe. That surrounded her like a wave of light that would not disperse, the glittering fires of a star.

"I can feel you." The mental whisper was breathless with wonder, and he felt his own surprise and awe fill him and push over into her.

"I can hear you," he whispered back.

It was something for another time, a mystery for a moment when they weren't trapped in a battle with too many enemies. But it was something new, petrifying and exhilarating at once. Tuesday couldn't wait to dig her mental fingers into it. Zorro couldn't wait to be with her when she did.

"How did you get free?" she called, this time aloud. There was no room for the uncertainties of a mental conversation they didn't understand the existence of.

Zorro waved a hand at her as he dodged another attack from the King. "You came for me." It was the only answer he could give, and the only one that was needed. She came for him, and so he was free.

I thought I'd never get you back. I was terrified. You were gone. I wasn't here. I'm so sorry I left you. They tricked me. None of it was spoken, but he heard everything in the ferocity of her ire, her lingering disappointment in herself, the self-directed loathing. A brush of forgiveness at her with a talent for painting emotions in her directions so new, and a wound that had been scarred across her mind was sealed closed.

"They aren't real," he whispered. "Not as they want you to see them."

"I know," she murmured, and he heard. He leapt, landing on the Fae King's shoulders and kicking off, to spin around and kick him in the head with his right leg.

"Then unsee them."

He saw her confusion, her disbelief in that it could be so simple. And then the stubbornness, the resolve. He watched her look at the Fae. He saw her concentration in narrowed eyes, a titled head. And then he watched as her eyes widened and, a moment later, the illusion disappeared.

Not Fae. None of them were anything so extraordinary.

The Fae King and his Queen were a gallade and gardevoir respectively. The healer, too, was a gardevoir, an odd purple and white coloring that differed from the norm - shiny, they called it, like Mercury was. They were not all of that same line, however. There was a hypno, pendulum swinging from one hand, a look of furious concentration on his face as he tried to trick their minds and found himself unable.

He saw a brief flicker as two pokemon disappeared. Ghosts, his senses told him, who were still present but invisible. Frightened, he realized, knew. Ashleigh had been fighting a mime jr. and a smoochum, the latter of which was unconscious.

He could sense that there were others, too many for him to count. They were angry, yes, but the anger was because they were frightened. Frightened not of the dark-type pokemon, who was only one and would fall against them all, but frightened of the humans, who held powers they could not defeat - technology that could bind them, make them like them, make them answer to their every whim.

Zorro himself was furious at them, for hurting his hermana, for keeping him captive, for all of the lies. But he pitied them, too, because they attacked at their fear - all of their lives, they must have been attacking, never trying for a moment to look beyond it. How sad...

The gallade who called himself King paused only long enough to note that the illusion had fallen, that the hypno was unable to imprison their minds again. Without a word, he turned back to Zorro, and he once again attacked.

Zorro dodged with a sigh. Yes. It was very sad, because they simply refused to see.


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Master Houndoom
post Oct 28 2013, 11:23 PM
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We’re close. Zorro has arrived. Sensei Tuesday is fighting fiercely. Ashleigh is flagging. Shadow’s report was given in a terse, crisp manner, which Jaima only partially took note of. The main reason they were here was to aide Tuesday. His pokemon wouldn’t let him deal with their problems now, even if he was inclined to.

Despite that he was inclined to.

He nodded, pulling the small blue and black ball from his bandolier and calling Fang to the battle. The regal luxray sniffed the air and growled, but made no move to surge forward as he might have as a luxio or spinx. He did look back over his shoulder, waiting, if haughtily, for instructions.

Jaima motioned for him to wait, but to be ready. “What about Meiko and Reilly?”

We’we on ouw way, Nightwish’ voice drifted in, softly, as if politely waiting to speak. Jaima looked at Mercury, who was laying in the crook of his arm. She merely smiled. Whatevew was wong with Weiwwy is compwetewy wevewsed.

Jaima nodded, knowing the gothorita could sense the action. “How’s Tuesday doing?”

She’s struggling with something. Zorro’s arrival is helping, but it’s far too well ingrained for me to- Oh!

As if being lifted by wires, Mercury rose from Jaima’s arms. She blinked at him, then smiled, a beautiful thrilled smile. I believe young Zorro has managed to break the illusion…

Indeed, Jaima noted that the pressure on his mind, pressure that he hadn’t known was weighing on it, was completely gone. Around him he could see forms, pokemon sized forms where before they had been shadows and rippling images, shades of elven guards and arches, courtesans and soldiers, royalty and servants. All of them now were the fleeing forms of psychic and ghost types.

Jaima clenched his jaw. Whatever had happened, it wasn’t going to make the perpetrators happy. It was long overdue for them to go help Tuesday.

He strode forward, his shoulders set. Fang kept pace, and Mercury floated nearby. Shadow took the lead, taking them to Tuesday’s position, and to battle.

* * * * *

“We’re lost, aren’t we?”

Reilly rolled his eyes toward the ceiling of the cavern, but Meiko just smiled wryly. Yes. They were lost. She didn’t rub in the fact that they wouldn’t have been lost, they, too, could have followed Shadow, if he hadn’t gone and attacked them.

It was, as a matter of fact, a little alarming that he didn’t even seem to remember. Her first attempt at explaining it to him was met with rolled eyes and sarcastic comments about her eyesight. Nightwish convinced her not to try a second time.

“Yes, Reilly. We’re lost. But we have to be close.”

She didn’t see so much as hear him raise his eyebrow in the tone of his voice. “Oh? And why’s that?” She pictured said eyebrow rising above his hairline, then past it, making a sound like a single violin string being played in a rising tone. It nearly made her giggle. “And why are you laughing?”

OK, it did make her giggle.

“There’s a light up ahead, and it looks like fire light. Tuesday has a few fire types, so I’m sure that’s her.” She pointed to her nose, a common Japanese expression that meant referring to herself, which she had never really outgrown. “I can hear them, too. I can’t hear Tuesday, but I hear a houndoom’s cry, and that can only be Ashleigh. We’re close.”

“Great. Two of them and I’m stuck with Shirley Holmes.”

Meiko giggled again, causing Reilly to roll his eyes.

They came to the mouth of the cave the light was flickering through. They were on the ledge, a ledge that was arranged like arena seating. Down below stood Tuesday, turning, slowly. She said nothing, but Ashleigh was attacking with gusto. Tearing into a hypno, sending two gastly reeling with a wall of flame. For every one he cut down, two more rose in their place.

Across from where she was, Jaima strode in. With one arm he pointed, and Ashleigh, who was wobbling at best, was suddenly rescued by Fang.

She smiled, not the girlish smile of a woman in love, but a wicked, mischievous smile.

She called out Chompwater. “I need a wall of ice along those walls. Make sure nothing gets through! Desertdancer, dig a trench, as close to the surface as you can without it collapsing unless someone puts weight on it! Blazeclaw! Help Fang out!”

“Chica chic CHICA CHIIIIIIIII!” If stealth had been Meiko’s goal, it was shattered now, but the surprise factor of a tiny yellow blue suddenly growing four times it’s size in a flash of light and spinning in place with fire on it’s clawed foot was a mighty fine distraction.

* * * * *

Jaima pointed to the center, where he could see a blurred form of Ashleigh, wobbling and spinning, dancing around Tuesday. He was strong, and he had the advantage here, but the psychics and ghosts rushed him like zerglings.

Fang took the point as he had intended to all along; he charged forward, putting on a brurst of speed before leaping over the houndoom’s back to Crunch down on a ghost that was floating in for the proverbial kill. He landed, tossing the ghost aside and sending an Electric Beam from his tail to the kadabra sneaking up on Ashleigh’s left side.

He looked over his shoulder and smirked at the houndoom, sending the message with his look. You weren’t getting tired were you? We’re just getting started.

Ashleigh’s tail whipped, and they stood, shoulder to flank, leaving nothing uncovered.

“Chica chic CHICA CHIIIIIIIIII!”

A large, glowing mass plunged from the ledge above, spinning in place and sending fiery kicks at the three psychics around it. Before they could reorganize, Fang lunged, pulling one down and back.

“Grondir! Tsunami! Cut off that wall there!”

A giant wall of mud piled up and splashed down against the far wall, originating from just that side of Fang. A tangle of vines erupted through the last part of it, cracking against enlarge heads and crests and all manner of psychics. It was followed by another glow and a gout of leaves, stinging any the vines missed.

“GROTLE!”

“Oh, Cosette!”

Shadow was suddenly across the room, taking two smaller pokemon out with a well placed Dark Pulse, leaving Zorro’s battle with the large ballade uninterrupted. Nightwish and Mercury were mirrors of each other, protecting their trainers but not participating in the battle.

Soon, the combat was at a standstill, with Tuesday, Fang, Ashleigh, and Blazeclaw in the middle of a ring of psychic and ghost pokemon, with some fainted bodies being lifted away, Reilly, Jaima and Meiko on opposite sides of the room struggling to keep the battle from being too lopsided, and Zorro and Shadow facing an angry, cruised gallade.


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Jaima Kuonji and Meiko Omura||Branwys Muphenz
[spoiler=Jaima's Gym Badges][/spoiler]
PANE


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Jay Lange||Olivia Prewitt
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As of January 29, 2010, at approximately 7:50am CST, 2gamers helped me complete my pokedex!

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Umbrae Calamitas
post Nov 3 2013, 07:49 PM
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Tuesday's Pack



It must have been the easiest option for the not-Fae to convince Tuesday that she and her friends were warriors. Dragonslayers fit well with the fantastical theme they had chosen for their own illusion, but the warrior idea was more than likely derived partly from fact. They were all talented fighters on their own, but watching Jaima and Meiko's actions, utterly separate and yet benefiting each other with every move. It was the way that soldiers worked after years of training and they did it intuitively.

What was it they said about telling lies? The best way to make them believable was to keep as close to the truth as possible.

Tuesday was aware of what was going on around her as a sort of secondary knowledge. Her primary focus was on the Fae Queen. Oh, the king made a pretty hard argument toward being the leader of this group. It was easier to do with humans, who lived most often in primarily patriarchal societies. Their group, though, were more open than a society would have been. Meiko, after all, was pretty clear on what she thought about people thinking women were unable to stand on their own two feet. The girl had been traveling by herself for some time and done a good job of showing that she was more than capable of most, her sex aside.

Tuesday, too, had done some traveling on her own, and she knew that it was her age, or perhaps her youthful appearance, that often made others (or Jaima) think she was incapable to handle a pokemon journey without aide. She had proven herself, though, to others and to herself.

As for the present guys, Jaima wouldn't be in a relationship with Meiko if he wasn't perfectly agreeable with her about women being able to handle themselves. He also wasn't an idiot, but those two went kind of hand in hand.

Tuesday couldn't say much for Reilly, not knowing the real him incredibly well, but the Nurse Joy in Lenoilia was his sister, and since the Joys were notorious for having a huge family, she was pretty sure he knew what women were capable of.

It seemed to her that these not-Fae were attempting to take their thoughts and culture and pasts and twist them. They had fooled her and Reilly for a time. They might have even fooled Meiko and Jaima. But all four of them were free now and they would take no quarter. Tuesday wasn't an idiot. She could look back on the encounter she and Reilly had with these creatures and she could read things in the way they'd glanced at each other, the way they'd moved. The king had taken a primordial role likely because all four of them were humans who had lived with their families in a society were the father or male guardian was generally seen as the head of the household. Tuesday remembered the looks the queen had given her companion, though, when saying one thing or another. When telling her fellows "this is the way things are."

So she was ignoring the gallade who called himself king, whom Zorro was driving down and back, and looking for the queen.

She was aware of her friends. More aware than she had allowed herself to be in the journey here to rescue Zorro. She could admit to herself freely that they were here, that they were alive, because Zorro was safe. A breakdown was not imminent like it had been when she still required her anger to keep her moving.

She was aware of them, but they were secondary to her search for the not-Fae queen. Leaders and snakes and taking off heads. Let the not-Fae hear that whisper in her mind. She wouldn't hide it.

Tuesday felt a brush on her senses. An attempt to read her or control her, she couldn't tell, but she knew what the touch of a psychic felt like.

My friend Cassandra would make a doll of you, she thought fiercely. The brush disappeared, retreating.

Tuesday turned around, a smile on her face that would have fit better on a haunter's violet face.

"My Queen."

~*~


Reilly did not bother to command his pokemon's attacks. Instead, he unleashed them, declared the unfamiliar psychics and ghosts as enemies, and let them do what they did best.

Which, considering how much they had learned from him, was improvising.

Indiana, Phoenix, and Boromir took off with a fury.

Indiana the monferno took to his leaping attacks with fervor, going after a group of kirlia who had been attempting to use psychic attacks in tandem on the other already-busy pokemon.

The growlithe, Phoenix, stepped away a few feet and stopped, snarling and snapping her jaws, but not leaving Reilly's side. Reilly wasn't all that surprised. The growlithe had been overprotective ever since she was a pup.

Boromir the buizel used a spray of water to go sliding off into battle, using a group of pokemon much like bowling pins.

Reilly kept his eyes open and took in everything around him as best he could, as he made his way over to Tuesday. The runt was staying in relatively the same spot, moving to avoid attacks that shot her way, often without looking. Reilly noticed that her gaze was focused quite firmly upon a gardevoir, and he didn't get close enough to interrupt the flashing roar of energy between the two that made him want to hide under a large stone, but he was close enough that if needed, he could make a difference.

Or, well, Phoenix could. She was good at that.

~*~


The gallade was flagging.

He was fast, and his attacks were strong, but Zorro was faster and stronger.

The lucario was accustomed to constantly moving, dodging, flipping, and pulling tricks. As a riolu, he had been very knowledgeable of his body's abilities and limitations, and while this knowledge had been somewhat thrown due to his evolution, he was still a force to be reckoned with.

And, he would admit to himself with an admittedly conceited air, he was a darn sight better than a brainwashing knight in mossy armor.

A copycat attack sent the gallade's psychic attack flashing back in his face. The pokemon staggered backward, startled by Zorro's signature move.

"Do you yield?" he asked. And perhaps it was a foolish question, but he felt inclined to be the better pokemon.

"Never!" the gallade shouted, lunging forward.

Zorro grabbed the blade-appendage thrust toward him, dug his feet in, and rotated his hips. He used the momentum from the manuver to swing the gallade around and throw him roughly to the ground. His paw lashed out with a sharp strike, cracking the gallade across the face and knocking him unconscious.

The lucario gave a sharp nod. "Now you yield."

He glanced around, spotted Tuesday facing off (by herself, foolish child!) with the not-Fae queen, and bounded off toward her. She would not ever, but in this especially, have to stand alone. Not so long as Zorro was here, and he intended to linger.

"You are monsters!" the gardevoir screamed. Her words were spoken telepathically, but acted much like a human voice in that their reach was determined by distance. Zorro was able to hear her more clearly the closer he got. It was likely a habit she had picked up from pretending to be Fae.

"You come into our home and you attack us, you strike down my family." She turned her glare onto Zorro as she said, "My husband. You are monsters."

"You're one to talk." Zorro heard Tuesday's thoughts echo in his mind, a sarcastic retort she didn't want to speak aloud. He was tempted to say it for her. But no.

No. She wanted to be diplomatic.

He sighed.

"You disagree?"

Ah, he was aware of her. And getting quickly accustomed to their strange ability to communicate silently.

"I believe they are foolish and will not accept reason," he corrected. But I trust you, he thought to himself. He saw her brief smile and wondered if she had heard.

"We stumbled into your home by accident," Tuesday said to the not-Fae queen. "We fell, we were injured. We meant no harm."

"You fell fighting an innocent!"

"We fell defending ourselves, as you would have defended yourselves in the same position. Probably better, considering how strong you are. So much stronger than a mere human with no psychic powers and no way to defend herself from being manipulated into believing her friends are dead."

The gardevoir narrowed her eyes. "You brought your slaves with you-"

"I do not have slaves, or servants," Tuesday said, her words quicker than the calm tone she had been using in part because of her anger, and because of Zorro's low growl. She had a hand out to block him from making any rash actions, but that was the ratta's territory, not his.

"I have friends," Tuesday continues. "Companions. Brothers."

The gardevoir snorted. "Prisoners in a gilded cage. You carry your weapons that bind us, control us, make us like you, make us obey. You command and we must jump, your hands a collar about our necks!"

"I know people like that," Tuesday said, and her voice was quiet, remorseful. "There are people in the world like that, cruel, who treat their pokemon badly." She hesitated a moment, her eyes downcast. "My own sister can be like that." She raised her head. "I'm not. I've made an effort to be friends with my pokemon, not a commander. To be their companion and never a... a jailer. I wouldn't want that sort of relationship with them, and if they didn't like being with them, then they could ask to leave, and I would let them."

"You lie!"

"Read my mind." At the gardevoir's startled look, Tuesday shrugged. "You've done in before to get all that information to trick me. You've been inside my head already, what's one more time? So go ahead. Read my mind, search my memories. Try to find a moment when I was deliberately cruel to my pokemon. It'll take a long time to find one. Forever, actually. I suppose that's not long at all."

She motioned toward Reilly, who startled at being brought into the conversation. "Or read Reilly's mind. He's even had a telepathic pokemon of his own, so I bet he knows how to lead you right to the memories you need. Or, well, he could, if he had any, but I know he doesn't."

The gardevoir was looking at Reilly, who looked startled and confused himself, maybe a little frightened. The boy met her eyes after a moment, though, and didn't run. If she wanted to read his mind, he'd let her.

And didn't that tell her so much right there.

"There are bad people in the world, yeah. There will always be bad people. I suppose that's the curse of being human, really. Some of us can't see which is the bad way and which is the good, and some other people don't care and selfishly look after themselves. I always sort of envied pokemon for that. They never had to worry about accidentally being cruel. They just lived, and if they were cruel, it was because they were trained wrong."

Her look of sudden disappointment was a shock. "But you're a wild pokemon, aren't you? I bet you always have been. You don't act like a pokemon who knows what people are like. You act like a pokemon afraid to find out you're right. And you're cruel."

Tuesday looked away. "I don't think you understand how disappointing it is to learn wild pokemon can be deliberately cruel."

It didn't bother her as much as it used to, the memories of the feraligatr, the water, the feeling of being unable to breathe as darkness curled about her vision. It didn't hurt as much, but it still hurt a little, it was still frightening. It had been a lesson in that people were cruel, could train their pokemon to be cruel.

And here was another. Outside of training, pokemon could be cruel, too. On their own, without direct human influence. Maybe it was because they were psychic pokemon. They were more aware of the world than other pokemon. Their minds were more open, more aware. More human.

Maybe that was the ultimate flaw.

"You made me a prisoner," Zorro said. His hermana's mind had wandered off, disappointed, lost, trying to catch equilibrium in a mentality that had been shaken. "You took my from my hermana, you imprisoned me. Before that, you tricked her with illusions, with mental whispers of a world that does not exist. It was you who collared us, and you did not need a pokeball to do it."

He cocked his head to the side, looking at her with quizzical golden eyes. "Who is the monster, False Queen? Who, among us, is the jailer?"

The gardevoir glanced around her. The fighting had all but stopped. The trainers and their pokemon were still split up amongst the masses, guarding, protecting, being watchful and cautious. Most of her brethren were unconscious, fainted, but some had surrounded and lay quietly, subservient. Frightened.

None of them were seriously injured. None of them had been captured.

They had lost the battle, but they were still free.

They were still free.

"You wish to leave," her voice whispered, soft, but they all heard.

Tuesday blinked her eyes back into focus, looked at her.

"That's all we ever wanted."

The gardevoir bowed her head. "Then go."

~*~


It seemed a very abrupt ending, honestly. Tuesday was... not disappointed, but perhaps confused. She had expected something more ferocious, more damaging. Of course, they had proven their strength, proven that the not-Fae could not defeat them. Had the queen attempted to hold them, they just would have taken her down, too. Perhaps that's really why they released them, in the end.

The four climbed the steep hill into the sunshine and she heard Reilly let out a deep groan of relief. "Finally!"

There were a series of chuckles. Tuesday wasn't among them.

"Problem?"

She smiled. "I owe... a lot of apologies."

The lucario blinked, nodded softly. "You will be forgiven."

I know. That doesn't make it right.

"I'm sorry," she said aloud, causing the others to stop and look back at her. She scratched her forehead where her hairline started. "I shouldn't have run off like that."

"You're damn right you shou--"

Meiko's hand clamped over Reilly's mouth, effectively stopping what seemed the beginning of an epic tirade.

"You were distraught, Tuesday," she said, ignoring the fierce mumbling of the redheaded boy against the muffling of her hand. "We understand that you weren't thinking clearly."

"We are disappointed that you didn't let us help you more," Jaima continued, "but there were extenuating circumstances, and sometimes that couldn't be helped."

Yes, they would understand how strong psychic influences could be, and not only because they both had a psychic pokemon partner. All of the things that they had been dealing with recently.

"We're still a little confused about what happened, so I wouldn't mind an explanation at some point." Jaima took of his glasses, cleaning them on his shirt. "Considering what all has happened in the past, though, this turned out pretty well, I think."

"Jaima, don't jinx it!" Meiko hissed, swatting at him. She smiled at Tuesday. "I'm a little curious, too, but priorities first." Her smile turned into a scowl and she released Reilly to plant both hands on her hips. "When is the last time you had a bath? Or eaten? Honestly, I can accept that this kid will always look a mess," she said, motioning toward Reilly ("Hey!"), "but you should really take better care of yourself, Tue-chan."

"In my defense, I was traveling the world slaying dragons. Bathing wasn't too high on my priority list."

There was a pregnant pause.

"That's going to be some story."

~*~


Deep beneath the stone ceiling of a once-hidden cavern, the not-Fae queen of a hidden group of pokemon let her rage curl outward like smoke. She felt the dwindling presence of the humans and their servant pokemon slip from her realm.

She turned to the ghost waiting patiently at her side. The liars could run, but they would not escape her. Her shadow was long, and her eyes traveled far.

The ghost's curious whisper touched her mind.

"Follow them," the queen commanded her servant, and watched the ghost disappear.

Deep within a guilded cage beneath the stone, the Queen of the Realm smiled.


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