Welcome, welcome. Not much to say, other than hope you enjoy!
Edited on March 20th, 2019. And again on July 15th, 2019.
For those who are back because of the note that I've edited this again, hello! For those who are new, this version is the better one.
The sun warmed his fur, probed his eyelids, and pressed its every-burning presence along his entire body, from the top of his head to the tip of his tail.
He moved over, making a pained sound. There was an overpowering feeling of foggy weight on his brain, everything hurt, and he didn't feel like dealing with life at the moment.
Falling back asleep was a mercy. One that would not be granted.
"Oh my gosh!"
A high, but boyish, voice cracked through the air like a whip to the ear. The foggy weight immediately flashed into eye-watering pain and two brown-tipped paws clasped themselves over his pointed ears.
There were numerous things wrong with that, compounded further by the erratic twitching of his tail, but there was no time to think about such things.
Well now it'd be rude to continue rolling into a ball to escape such cruelty.
He cracked his eyes open, squinting against the light, the cruel, cruel, light and groaned. His eyes felt like they had never so much as peered into a warm spring day.
Watching this all go down was a non-descript shinx. He had slept a difficult night over the thunder and rain and wind howling around his cliff-based home and had dragged himself up a little later than his usual start to the day.
Finding an unconscious meowth effectively on his doorstep was another wrinkle to his morning, but one that could be managed.
It was half-soaked from the previous nights storm, and he felt a wave of guilt. Had this poor meowth been searching for shelter, but been barred by his closed door? It was dangerously close to the cliffs edge, it might have fallen, and no one would have ever known.
The meowth in question peered at him, silent, fur somewhat raised in readiness to do something should things move south from here.
Its eyes were adjusting and spotting a shinx gave it a most curious feeling of vertigo. A shinx. A shinx. Pokémon. Electric-type. Pokémon. Shinx. There was something wrong here, and he was fighting morning brain to figure out what it was.
A pendant was around the shinx's neck, unnoticed until a gust of wind caused it to swing slightly.
Shinx started back as Meowth exploded into movement, leaping up in a sudden panic and skirting back.
Right to the cliffs edge.
"Watch out!" Shinx cried, leaping forward as Meowth stepped into open air. He rocked for a brief moment, before his balance left him, and he began to fall.
He fell about an inch before something clamped around his flailing right paw. Teeth pierced through his paw and a new shock of pain went through him, unfortunately literally.
The shinx was sparking and had zapped him in the process.
This was, however, rather fortunate. His initial reaction to being bitten was to unleash the beast and drag them both down, shocking him stunned him long enough for the shinx to pull him up.
Shinx panted, once he had them both safe. Meowth was holding his paw, which was bleeding slightly, but he didn't feel too bad. He had saved him from falling after it.
Wasn't even difficult, this meowth was surprisingly light.
Looking closely, Shinx thought he could see Meowth's ribs. Meowth caught him staring, and he glanced away, ears flushing.
"Thank you," Meowth managed to gasp. This morning was going terribly, he had been bitten, shocked, and nearly fell to his death.
There was also the problem of him having paws.
And a tail.
Meowth glanced down at his furry body and carefully poked himself in the leg.
"Huh," he said, looking down. His lovely human hand was much smaller, covered in white fur, and had a disturbing lack of digits comparatively. He wiggled them, hoping that his fingers would reappear. The most curious feeling occurred when he tried to move either his pointer or thumb, both attempted actions would move just one of the three digits.
Glancing down further, more cream-coloured fur. Trailing down to hind paws that were tipped with brown fur. He tried to clench his toes, and claws popped out. Trying the same with his hands would cause his new paws to also unsheathe claws.
He felt up, without unclenching his hand, and felt his forehead. The feeling of metal was equally unwelcome as everything else.
Shinx stared at him in confusion as the stranger that had just jumped off the cliff just began to touch all over himself in mounting concern. "Excuse me?" he asked but received no response, the meowth was too busy poking himself. "Hello? Meowth? Are you okay?"
"Okay," Meowth breathed out. He felt a little dizzy, he'd like to sit down but the feeling of falling off the cliff came back so he decided to keep standing. If a little unsteadily. "This is fine."
One of Meowth's eyes twitched for a moment, but he took another breath. "This. Is fine."
"Okay…" Shinx glanced around, there was no one else here. He took a breath and turned back. "Okay, um… are you okay? You must have been out in that storm all night, you're soaked. And, uh, half dry."
Meowth's eyes fell on him and Shinx felt for a moment like Meowth was seeing him for the first time. It was a little weird.
His eyes flicked down, spotting the treasure. Shinx shifted in place, uncomfortable. He wanted to cover his treasure up, it felt rude to do, however.
"Huh," Meowth said, blinking a few times. The vertigo was coming back, along with a lot of stuff that was no déjà vu but felt an awful lot like it.
"Shinx… that is in fact a shinx," he thought, eyes widening. "That's the Relic Fragment. This… this is that cliff place, isn't it? Does that mean?" He looked up, past the shinx. It was farther than he would have expected, but in the distance he could make out a few buildings.
A dream then. That's what this was.
He looked back to the shinx, the partner. He was, in a word, adorable. This felt odd, lucid dreams he tended to wake up from very quickly, but he might as well play this one for the moment and chuckle about it with friends when he woke up.
"I'm Sean," he introduced, stretching a paw out in greeting. His eyes still hurt, his head was pounding a little, and his heart felt particularly there beating in his dream-chest.
It was curious how a simple greeting could have such a profound effect. Shinx's ears and tip of his nose went red and he spluttered for a moment.
"Na-? You? I… okay." He cleared his throat, Sean slowly lowered his arm, gathering that a shinx probably wouldn't shake, and he clearly said something wrong already.
"Did I… say something wrong?" he asked, feeling a little embarrassed now. Of course his dreams would be about awkward social embarrassment in the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon world. Just like the waking world.
"I… no, no, I don't judge or anything. Um…"
Sean sighed, now Shinx wouldn't even look at him. He felt edges of embarrassment try to cling to him, but he wouldn't let this drag his dream into one of those horrifying trips that make you afraid of sleeping.
He'd had enough of those dreams.
"Could you tell me where I am?" he asked. He already knew, Carvanha Bluff or something? Sharpedo? It was some sort of fish pokémon, he was sure.
"You don't know?" Shinx asked, ears perking up. There was a glimmer of the love to do good by others in his eyes, forcing the embarrassment back for the moment.
Sean shrugged. It felt odd to be standing so short, and his shoulders didn't roll so well. His tail flicked, good lord that was an odd sensation. Almost like having another arm, except poking out from behind.
He didn't really want to think about how his dream was able to simulate that feeling so well.
"I don't," Sean answered, shaking his head. "I don't remember much of anything actually; who are you and how did I get here?"
"There was a… storm last night," Shinx said, quietly. He frowned deeply and Sean wondered if he said something wrong again. "My guess is that you got lost in the storm last night. It's kind of hard to see what's ahead of you with it being dark and rain and all. You must have came around here pretty late if you passed Treasure Town."
He paused and frowned. "You don't remember anything? You said your… uh."
He began to grow embarrassed again, Sean quickly cut through that. "You can just call me M-Meowth if you want?" he said, nearly stumbling on the name. He looked down again, it was excessively trippy to not see human there, yet it also felt completely normal.
Shinx's expression brightened in relief and he nodded. "Yes, we don't really know each other so that makes more sense. I'm Shinx, hello."
Shinx smiled at him for a moment before an ear twitched and he cocked his head. "What do you remember?" he asked.
"Not much," Sean answered, looking down. He remembered what role he was supposed to play and briefly considered straying. Things were already a bit off course, he wondered why he was at the cliff rather than the beach. "Just my name, really."
"Oh, well… you might need to go to the guild then!" Shinx said, briefly beaming with energy. It was cut short in a moments notice. "I'm sure they can help you there." He turned to gesture with a paw, waving at a pinkish blob in the far distance.
Sean was surprised he could see so well, normally anything more than a few meters away would be blurry. Dream magic, he decided.
"Wigglytuff Guild," Sean murmured, Shinx turned back with a note of surprise.
"Yes! You remember that, then?"
Sean blinked before shrugging. "I can see a Wigglytuff from here," he said, it was true. His eyes were surprisingly good. Although he may not have guessed Wigglytuff if he didn't already know it.
Shinx nodded. "Good eyes."
Smiling, Sean asked. "Would you show me, then?" he asked. "I don't really know the place."
His companion paused for a moment. "I… okay. Sure, I can show you. Treasure Town can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you don't remember it…"
With that, Shinx began to lead him into town. It was a longer walk than Sean had anticipated, there was a great deal of overgrowth heading to and from Sharpedo Bluff. Behind them a scrap of silver blew in the wind, unnoticed by either one.
As they walked in a somewhat stiff silence, Sean took the opportunity to look around. The world was beautiful, he had to admit. Trees with deep emerald leaves swayed in the wind, up ahead as the land sloped downwards there was a bridge over a slice of seawater.
Treasure Town grew larger and larger until it was larger than life. Dozens of pokémon walked around, talking and playing and laughing and bartering. Pidgey. Zoroark. Beedrill. Greninja. Machoke. Sunflora. Sableye. Wurmple. Poochyena. Swellow. Litleo.
There were even pokémon he didn't know the species of, which filled him with brief excitement before remembering that this was a dream and that brown, yellow, and black pikachu-looking thing didn't actually exist.
Morpeko would be offended if she could hear his thoughts.
Shinx's pace increased suddenly. He wasn't quite running away from him, but there was a noticeable increase in speed, Sean hurried to not be left behind.
Shinx's haste, unfortunately, just drew attention.
"Shinx, dear?" Kangaskhan said, spotting the two. "And… Meowth? How do you do?"
"Good morning Kangaskhan," Shinx said cheerily. "I'm sorry, I've got no time to talk, I'm helping Meowth to the guild."
"Ah," Kangaskhan said, spotting someone else. "I shall not keep you, then."
The time was enough, however.
"Ehh, Shinx!" the litleo, Sean spotted earlier sauntered up to them. Tail flicking back and forth while a smirk slid its way onto his face. "I was just wondering if you were going to drag yourself into town or not today."
"I'm here now," Shinx said, stiffly. "And I'm going to the guild." He immediately stepped around him, leaving exactly one litleo between him and Sean. "With Meowth," he added, as Sean was dillydallying.
Sean wished he hadn't had said that, however, as Litleo's gaze moved to him and he continued standing in the way. Sean noticed a few small things, Litleo's posture changed to grow slightly taller, paws spread wider, tail stopped moving, and his eyes narrowed just a tiny bit.
"Got a pal, huh?" he asked, staring at Sean with nothing less intense than predatory. He looked him up and down. "Nice."
"We're going," Shinx said, voice strained, and Sean nodded to Litleo and edged his way past.
"Good day," he murmured, Litleo didn't reply.
As they walked - perfectly not in a rush - away Sean thought he heard the litleo say something about seeing Charmander before there was too much space between them.
"Who… was that?" he asked as they crossed the bridge. The wonder of seeing Treasure Town from this angle was somewhat dampened by their obvious rush, he didn't have time to talk to the Kecleon Brothers, or Electivire, or visit Marowak, or even get creeped out by Duskull. They were speeding along just below a run.
"Litleo," Shinx replied, voice remaining tense like a stretched length of thread, liable to snap at any moment.
Sean opened his mouth to deliver a retort but rethought it and closed his mouth. Then he said it anyway, because there were no consequences here. "I gathered that."
Shinx didn't respond at first, but he eventually sent a confused look his way. "Then why did you ask?"
The question was so earnest, Sean's natural sarcastic response was completely lost to the winds and he shrugged instead.
They exited the town, taking only ten minutes to cross the surprisingly large town, and only slightly out of breath.
Sean looked around eagerly, but there was no Spinda's Café. "I suppose it wouldn't be till later… but can I make it appear?" he thought hard, visualising the café.
And Shinx was also talking, and he missed some of it.
"I'm sorry, could you repeat that?" he asked, Shinx stopped and nodded.
"Sure, the Wigglytuff Guild is just up there," he said, gesturing to a terribly large number of steps. "You need to step on the grate to be checked out before you can enter. Once you're in… uh, someone should be able to help you."
"You're not coming with me?" he asked, surprised.
Shinx cringed. "I… well I kinda have other things planned today."
"Like what?" Sean asked. Part of him felt bad to see Shinx cringing further, but most of him was just interested in seeing the results of this.
"W-well, I, uh… nothing too important, I'll see you up there I guess."
"Thanks!" Sean beamed and Shinx's nerves faded slightly and he smiled. He batted at the Relic Fragment for a moment before taking a breath and followed him up the stairs.
On the way up, Sean found something a little concerning. He could feel tired from the powerwalking and now climbing these steps. But he was sure he'd felt tired in dreams before, that was a thing. Right?
The Wigglytuff Guild was a little horrifying up close. A massive Wigglytuff head with a tied plume of feathers at the top. The eyes were wide and unblinking, there was odd totem polls flanking it, and the mouth yawned into oblivion.
About par for the course for a Wigglytuff.
Before the closed gate, there was a thatched grate that Shinx pointed to. "Stand there, and someone will read your footprint."
"Read my footprint?" Sean asked, stepping forward. "Are they going to tell my future or something?"
"No. Just what you are?"
"This seems a bit… odd."
"The place is. But you'll be fine once you're in."
Sean gave Shinx one more dubious look before stepping on. There were different sized holes to ensure someone would be able to have their entire foot viewed without trouble and he needed to wait only a moment before a response came.
"Pokémon detected!" a high-pitched, energetic, voice cried. "Pokémon detected!"
There was but another moment before someone boomed. "Who's footprint? Who's footprint?"
Loudred's voice boomed all around them and Sean's headache flared up again.
"The footprint is… Meowth! The footprint is Meowth!"
The voices stopped and Sean glanced back to Shinx, who was watching enviously. He smiled and the shinx smiled back at him.
"You may enter," Loudred declared and the grate began to rise, allowing entrance into the guild.
Grinning, part of him always wanted to do this, Sean turned to Shinx with a pleased look. "Your turn!"
Shinx started. "What?" he squawked.
"Is there SOMEONE else there?" Loudred's voice boomed, causing them both to jump. "They must be checked out AS WELL!"
"N-no, it's fine," Shinx squeaked, already backing off. "Just… go in. Please."
Before Sean could get a word in, Shinx ran off and the gate clanged shut.
"Sorry," he called, looking down into the grate where he knew Diglett to lay. "He's, uh, a bit shy and he's run off."
"A LIKELY story," Loudred yelled, voice still carrying easily enough that it sounded like he was bellowing into his ears directly. "Get him on the grate or buzz off."
Sean flinched and stepped back. "I'll… go find him," he said, feeling shame flush through him. He ran away from the guild and on his trip downstairs he realised just why Shinx might have had trouble finding the nerves to enter the guild.
The grate wasn't the first barrier, Loudred was.
And now he had to track down a wayward shinx partner in a place he only knew from playing a game. He hoped his dream would show him the way.
As he ran, he expected the dream to switch, but it continued, and his paws stung slightly. Sean frowned, staring at his feet for a moment. He clenched them, and claws popped out. Also a weird sensation. The end of his tail also stung slightly, it had been dragging down on the ground the entire day and lifting it up felt very bizarre.
Sean felt a seed of doubt.
"This is… no! That's ridiculous," he scoffed, shaking his head. A claw popped out of his paws and he debated scratching himself with it, that was what you did, right?
Pressing a claw into his body wasn't the easiest to do, however, and before he could commit, he was nearly bowled over.
"Whoops," a deep voice chuckled with mirth. "Sorry," he said, completely unapologetically.
"Heh-heh, watch yourself," another voice simpered and before Sean could get a good look, the pair flew off.
He looked up as the pair departed, spotting what he knew to be a koffing and zubat fly towards the beach.
Sean picked himself up and ran after them, colliding with something else almost instantly. "Watch yourself," the owner, a skuntank, growled before stomping off.
Sean stared after the pokémon for a moment, but Skuntank didn't look back. He was heading away from the beach, into town, and Sean breathed a sigh of relief. Before immediately gagging from the stench.
He grabbed his nose, only to find he didn't have one. Just slits for nostrils. "Am I a snake or something?" he yelled before dropping his paw. This dream was rapidly falling out of his control, but that was honestly relieving.
His dreams tended to be rather irksome after a while. He still had a goal, however, and he ran after Koffing and Zubat. The trail downhill winded around a little, but he could hear the crash of waves before long and smell the salt in the air.
He could smell even without a protruding nose, which really bothered him. Almost as much as the tail that was still dragging on the ground.
He hiked it up and wacked himself in the back of the head. There was no winning here, so he settled with grabbing his tail and jogging awkwardly.
Seems that without a tail lagging behind to balance him, he fell over.
Truly no winning.
Sean's inner war with his tail was brought to a grinding ceasefire when he finally arrived on the beach, to find Shinx sulking into the sand.
He hadn't noticed him yet and was talking out loud.
"Even in My Spot everything goes wrong!"
He seemed more angry than miserable.
"Oh, who am I kidding?" Shinx slumped into the sand. "I'll never be brave enough to join the guild."
Sean wasn't sure what he had missed, well he had some idea, but he decided now was time to clear his throat.
Shinx immediately jumped into the air. "Wha-who?"
"That's Mario," Sean answered, Shinx blinked at him. "Hi."
"H-Hey. What are." He turned slightly to wipe his face as discretely as he could. "What are you doing here?"
"I got knocked over by a couple of thugs talking about snatching something from someone, so I followed them, but they were too fast for me."
"Oh." Shinx's lip quivered for a moment before he shook it off. "You didn't go into the guild?"
"Not without you," he replied, stepping forward. He laid a gentle paw on Shinx's shoulder. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah I'm… I'm fine."
Sean waited in silence before Shinx buckled. "No. They took my treasure and ran into the cave. By the time someone gets down here, they'll probably be too far away to catch. I've lost the only thing I have left!"
He buried his face into Sean's chest and cried for a moment. Surprised, and a little uncomfortable, with the turn of events, Sean awkwardly patted the crying shinx on the back. "There-there," he said, letting Shinx cry for a bit.
Soon enough, however, Shinx pulled back. "Thanks for coming after me," he said, voice dejected, "but there's no point in wasting your time on me."
"There is every point!" Sean protested, feeling a flash of defensive anger for him. Didn't matter if this was a dream, that was not okay. "Come on, you said they went into the cave? Let's go after them."
"Us?" Shinx gasped. "Into Beach Cave? That's a Mystery Dungeon!"
"And?" Sean asked, giving him a confident nod.
"I… you'd go into a dungeon for me?" Shinx asked, voice very small.
"Of course!" Sean beamed. "I fell off a cliff and you bit me! That's how friendships are made! I think. This treasure sounds important, but I know that you have a good bit of strength." He extended the bitten hand from earlier. "And I can help you through it."
Shinx met his eyes for a moment, Sean extending the metaphorical hand of help, and Shinx debating whether to take it.
"Okay." He nodded and Sean beamed. "We better hurry, to make sure they don't get away."
"Right." Sean nodded back and followed Shinx across the sand and towards a cavernous hole in the tranquillity of the beach.
Beach Cave was not like Sean had expected. At the same time, however, he never expected to see it firsthand.
A yawning chasm that seemed to slope down forever and descend into inky blackness. Shinx hesitated for a brief moment before pushing forwards, Sean hesitated for a longer moment, but he didn't want to be left behind and he hastened to catch up.
Neither of them noticed someone watching them.
It was difficult to run to catch up, since claws would randomly unsheathe themselves from his hind paws.
It was strange trying to get them to retract. Feeling similar to the sensation of pushing spikes into his toes, but without the ungodly agony from doing so.
They continued moving down until the floor evened out. Once it did, Shinx paused completely. He took a deep breath as Sean looked around, then choked from the smell.
The walls were not too far from Sean had expected to see. Bluish stone, a damp light-magenta ground, and deeper pits of water were all around. The trip downwards had been somewhat dim, but strangely now that they were at the actual beginning, everything was perfectly visible. A light shone from nowhere, which was something Sean decided was best not pondering.
"Wow, we're really in the dungeon," Shinx whispered before a reverberating sound startled him and he squeaked, popping off a jolt of electricity that, thankfully, didn't hit Sean.
"This place feels even weirder than I remember," Shinx muttered before bumping into Sean. He jumped, and sparked with electricity, before realising it was the same pokémon that had come along. "Oh, sorry."
Sean licked his lips, tasting the air, and decided Shinx was right. This place did feel weird, and the smell was even worse. Salty and foul.
"Have you ever been in a Mystery Dungeon before?" Shinx asked, taking a tentative step forward.
"No," Sean answered. "Not that I remember at least," he corrected, thinking over it.
"Oh, that's right."
He looked over at the meowth stepping awkwardly to avoid particularly slimy parts on the ground. "If you don't remember much of anything, does that mean you don't remember what a Mystery Dungeon is?"
Sean took a moment to respond. This was all too bizarre, and frighteningly lifelike, for a dream. He never had fantastic dreams like this, the most he ever dreamed about was flying. And even those felt floaty in a way this experience didn't.
This was just like a game he had played many times, perhaps too many, if there was such a concept. The first game starring pokémon he had played. This was almost painfully unusual, and he barely knew how to respond to the question. He knew what a Mystery Dungeon was for sure, but remember it in the scope of a being who had existed here the whole time?
"No," Sean answered, shaking his head.
"Oh, that's a bit awkward…" Shinx frowned, turning away. They continued walking for a minute before Shinx turned back, holding an exceptionally guilty expression. "I feel terrible. I've dragged you in here and you don't have any idea what's going on."
"It's okay." Sean waved him down.
"No, it's not!" Shinx protested, with enough heat to startle Sean. "Mystery Dungeons are dangerous. Look we haven't gone that far in yet and this dungeon isn't so large. We might be able to get out if we turn around before it completely changes."
"Changes?" Sean asked, genuinely interested. "How?"
"Well uh… the thing with Mystery Dungeons is that they are different each time you go in. This corridor we are walking right now probably won't be the same if we leave and come back in."
He shook his head. "Unfortunately, pokémon live in these areas, usually before they become Mystery Dungeons, and staying too long in a place like this can make someone… feral." Shinx whispered the last word as if it was the filthiest of swearwords.
"Feral?" Sean frowned, glancing around. "Like what?"
"THAT!" Shinx yelled, causing Sean to jump. Shinx's whole body crackled with electricity for a moment, pulling his fur up, before it was discharged into a focused strike of lightning. He seemed to have good aim, lancing a shellos in the eye.
Sean spun on the threat as Shinx had attacked, claws coming out reflexively. Already it was fleeing, but the shellos had tried to jump him from behind.
Panting slightly, Shinx gave him a crooked smile. "Pokémon in dungeons are almost certainly going to attack adventurers. They don't listen to reason, they don't even seem capable of talking anymore."
He shook his head again. "It's really sad, and nothing seems to be able to help them. According to some really strong adventurers, sense can sometimes be knocked into them, but it seems to come down to pure luck on if it happens or not."
"How long does someone need to be in one of these things before they go… feral?" Sean asked once his heart had stopped pounding. He could still hear the electricity surging and the scream from his would-be attacker was still echoing.
"I'm not sure exactly," Shinx admitted, causing a rather unpleasant jolt of panic to thump Sean's heart. "But usually a few days. Most adventurers are pretty safe, but if you get knocked out and NOT eaten or killed, and you are stuck in a dungeon for too long, it's been known to happen." He shivered slightly.
The matter-of-fact nature of how Shinx spoke about getting eaten sent a shiver down Sean's spine, but he ignored it in favour of smiling. "Sounds like risky business."
"It is," Shinx agreed, nodding his head. "But the rewards!" His head shot up high with determination blazing in his eyes, along with literal electricity crackling through his fur. "The romance of the adventurer. The skills you need to face the trials. The treasures you can find. Dungeons always have the best loot, some pokémon believe it's a way of luring us in, but if so the rewards are still worth it!"
"Sounds like you want to be an adventurer?" Sean laughed, causing Shinx to blush and fluff up his fur.
"…Maybe?" he admitted quietly "Is that bad?"
"How should I know?"
"I dunno, you seem like the confident type. You offered coming into a strange place with a strange pokémon without any hesitation."
"I couldn't just let you lose your treasure! What kind of, uh." He cut himself off. "Well, what kind of thanks for helping me would that be?"
"Mm," Shinx said, giving Sean some side-eye.
Sean gave an awkward smile. "What kind of friend would I be if I just let you down like that."
Shinx's ears flicked up in surprise and he glanced to him before glancing away. He didn't say anything, but he didn't seem offended.
"What do you want me to say?" Sean grinned.
"DUCK!" Shinx suddenly shouted. Sean just blinked at him dumbly, he wasn't used to following immediate orders for life-preserving measures. Not his own life at least.
Seeing he wasn't moving, Shinx tackled him out of the way of a powerful jet of water, it clipped Shinx's tail but did no harm.
The air was knocked out of Sean's lungs when Shinx used his chest as a springboard to leap up and fire a jolt of electricity, sending something else scampering with a cry.
"Ow," Sean grunted, rolling to his feet. "You're strong, you know that?"
"What?" Shinx's face went so red Sean could see it through the fur. "No, I'm not! They're just weak!"
"They'd probably take me out in a single hit, right?" Sean smirked, taking advantage of his own weakness to gain what he loved most. Minor abashment from friends and acquaintances.
"W-well," Shinx stuttered. "N-no. You're not weak. I j-just didn't want you to get hurt. Getting hit in the back isn't fun, I can tell from experience."
Sean nodded sagely. "Getting hit in the front isn't much better either. So, thanks for hitting me in the side." He paused for a moment and dropped the sage look. "Oh! I meant that genuinely! Sorry, I don't want to seem ungrateful. I really am thankful you saved me from getting hit by… something. What was it?"
"A Water Gun," Shinx mumbled. He clearly felt bad for tackling him and Sean reaped the consequences of his enjoyment. Strangely the guilt on Shinx's face didn't stir much emotion, distantly Sean wondered why.
"Hey, I really do mean it," he said, scratching an arm awkwardly. "Thank you. That's twice you've saved me from getting attacked from behind. And I'm supposed to be helping you by getting that, uh… thingy back. Your treasure?" He had almost said Relic Fragment, and Sean didn't want to spill any accidental knowledge. He'd look creepy.
"You're already helping?" Shinx said softly. "I wouldn't have come after them if you didn't offer. So thanks."
"Thank me later," Sean said, nodding. "When we get it back."
Steeling himself determinedly, Shinx continued leading the way through the dungeon, this time Sean kept a much closer eye on his surroundings. Already, he'd been nearly hit twice already.
Part of Sean was looking out for stairs, and wondered if he should ask Shinx about them, but held his tongue.
They continued on for much longer than Sean gathered a standard Beach Cave floor to be, so he reasoned the dungeons were more related to the Mystery Dungeon animated specials rather than strictly the games.
They stumbled across several enemies, each time Shinx zapped them with electricity and sent them scurrying back into the pools of water. The pokémon creeped Sean out, the emptiness of their eyes, viewing but not seeing, and their complete silence besides angry, or pained, screeching made him all the more uncomfortable.
An anorith dropped something after Shinx blasted it and Sean felt the overwhelming urge to grab it, pick it up, keep it tucked to his chest and purr on it forever. He shook the feeling off after only twelve seconds, did his best to ignore the small snort of amusement from Shinx, and they continued on.
It was a seed, not as big as the game would have implied, but still large enough that 'seed' was an odd choice of name. He wondered if it would grow into anything, then pondered where the seeds came from.
"What is this?" he asked as they entered another room. Shinx gave him a curious look before remembering the memory loss.
"Looks like a Blast Seed to me. Keep hold of that, but not too tight. They can explode… actually that's entirely what they are for. A good weapon, I think it'll be useful later."
Later. The word struck a nervous chord with Sean as he realised what must be approaching soon. He could even distantly smell the sour, putrid, stench that the koffing had left even from the brief interaction that was had earlier. It bothered him the scent hadn't faded yet, it was even more unpleasant than Koffing earlier had been.
Determined to keep hold of the Blast Seed until the time was right, Sean continued following Shinx and letting him do all the work.
Pokémon would either descend upon them in a horrific rampage or would run as soon as they were noticed. For Sean, he much preferred the later. Shinx was more than capable of fighting what few feral pokémon did attack, but each encounter was making him uncomfortable.
Pokémon were meant to be nice and friendly, but the unholy gurgles these things made to the whites of their eyes, all left Sean feeling very out of place. He was glad Shinx was fighting fit enough for the both of them.
It wasn't like he didn't want to help. But he was having trouble just keeping claws unsheathed let alone actually fighting. The fact a battle was coming up left him feeling nervous.
"I don't know how to fight like this!" he thought to himself in mounting worry, paw holding tightly on the Blast Seed.
The ground began to change. Turning from the magenta ground to sand as they drew closer to the sound of waves.
"Here we go," Shinx whispered. "They came in before us. So, they should be at the end here. Maybe one of us should scout ahead to check things out?"
Before Sean could answer that it was too late. They were already there.
Sure enough, a pair of Poison-type pokémon floated before them, backs turned and facing the waves.
"Nothing but waves past here." The lighter voice that belonged to Zubat rang out. Sean palmed the Blast Seed, considering giving the pair a taste of their own medicine and attacking from behind, but Shinx spoke up before he could decide.
"Uh… HEY!" he shouted, causing the pair to swivel around to them.
"Well, well," Koffing boomed. "If it isn't our old friend. And the other guy, what are you doing here?"
"Give me…" Shinx mumbled, he glanced to Sean for support and received a nod. "GIVE ME BACK WHAT YOU STOLE FROM ME!"
Even Koffing and Zubat were surprised by his volume. "That's my personal treasure," he continued, at a more reasonable tone. "It means everything to me."
"Treasure you say?" Zubat asked, interested. "Hmm. This piece of junk may be more valuable than we thought." Zubat was wearing the Relic Fragment and the image instilled a surprising amount of anger in Sean. His claws flexed.
"It could be worth more than we had hoped, I'd say," Koffing agreed. "We ought to try selling it. We may just get a high price." The pair sniggered. "Woah-ho-ho, imagine what the boss would think? All the more reason not to give it back."
"What?" Shinx's expression mixed anger with desperation. "Give it to me NOW!"
"If you want it so badly, why not try and take it. Heh-heh-heh." Zubat snickered before the pair of them suddenly attacked.
Zubat opened his mouth and screeched, a horrible shockwave erupted from him that knocked Sean and Shinx off balance. As they staggered from the audio onslaught, Koffing belched a terrific amount of smoke from the holes on his body, covering the formerly-pristine battlefield in a choking miasma.
"Woah-ho-ho take a load of this!" Koffing spat globules of deadly poison, firing indiscriminately into the smog.
A shout of pain from Shinx made him focus his shots, but the concentration kept him in place. Prime for Shinx's retaliation.
"Who-ho-hurg!" Koffing grunted as he was hit by a lance of electricity, knocking him back and nearly deflating him for a moment.
Coughing, Shinx and Sean ran to safer air, taking it gulps of oxygen that wasn't flooded with smog. "You bastards," Shinx coughed, gasping for breath. "You play dirty."
"Heh-heh, what did you expect?" Zubat asked instead of attacking. He received a face of electricity for it.
"Gyah! Enough of this." Koffing came zooming back, slamming full-bodied into Shinx and knocking him down. "Eat some Sludge!" He took in a gulp of air to gather as much Power as he could, and Sean took his shot.
Koffing coughed; a brief feeling of puzzlement flew through his mind before everything went black.
"YES!" Sean cheered. He had thrown his Blast Seed aiming for Koffing's mouth and got it in one shot. It wasn't a Blast Seed after all, but a Sleep Seed was almost as useful.
Shinx unleashed electrical hell on the snoozing Koffing enough to wake him briefly, before unconsciousness claimed him once more.
Zubat screeched again, disorientating both of them, and dove into a vicious tackle. He slammed into Shinx and bit down, pulling a cry from Shinx.
Hearing Shinx's scream, Sean forced his eyes closed and focused on just where the sound was coming from. He toppled as soon as he tried to walk, but he toppled in the right direction.
The Smokescreen had faded but the stench was still there; it was building further.
Shinx tried blasting Zubat, but he had already released him and flew circles around the wildly-aiming Electric type. He screeched again and dove into another tackle, sending Shinx into the water.
"Heh-heh-heh," Zubat laughed, mouth spotted with a small bit of blood. He turned his attention to the meowth and swooped at him again.
The sound of wings fluttering through the air brought back severely bad memories for Sean and he dove out of the way on reflex.
Zubat didn't mind, he sailed up and moved to try again. Only to be blasted out of the sky.
"GYAH!" Zubat cried as the electricity overwhelmed him and he plummeted to the ground.
Shinx was soaking wet, and had shocked himself to do it, but the unplanned swim had cleared his mind and allowed him better aim.
"Give me," Shinx panted, prowling forward and Zubat tried to flutter to the air. "MY TREASURE!" He pounced but missed as Zubat managed to rise into the air.
"Never," Zubat hissed and blasted him with another Supersonic. "You're weak, you have to rely on tricks. So, this is wh-"
He didn't finish his sentence. Sean, having recovered from his own ailment, had taken his chance and threw himself at Zubat. He snatched Zubat out of the air with his superior bipedal grip and pinned him to the ground.
"Shinx I got him!" He shouted, heart pounding as Zubat struggled. Zubat tried flapping his wings but Sean refused to let go. "This is just like holding a chicken, this is JUST like holding a CHICKEN!" he repeated in his head. "Just don't think about the time that chicken died."
Zubat tried a Supersonic but wasn't angled right and the noise bounced harmlessly off the ground. Holding onto Zubat as tight as he was caused Sean's claws to extend and his captive hissed in pain but did stop struggling.
"G-great," Shinx said, still dizzy from the confusion that the Supersonic had inflicted on him. "Just give me… okay." He dunked his head in the water and pulled himself up, eyes steady and focused on the task at hand.
"You've lost," Shinx said, running forward with eyes refocused. "Now I'm taking my treasure back." He yanked the Relic Fragment off Zubat's neck with his teeth and caused the bat-pokémon to eep with fear.
Sean looked to Shinx with questions and Shinx nodded. Taking a breath, Sean threw Zubat away from him and scuttled back to draw some distance between them. Zubat did not take this as a time to attack, simply glaring with a scathing look and fluttering to Koffing's side.
"Weh…" Koffing groaned, waking up and slowly floating up. "How did we get roughed up so badly by THEM?"
"I dunno," Zubat answered, looking past Sean and Shinx. "But they're gonna look worse in a moment."
"Wuh?" Koffing's eyes focused and he laughed. "Oh. Woah-ho-ho I see what you mean."
Sean and Shinx looked up from where they were checking the Relic Fragment for damage, narrowing their eyes. "What are you talking about?" Shinx asked as Sean's claws unsheathed again. "We beat you easily."
"If it were just us you'd be right, strangely enough," Koffing said smugly, causing Shinx to frown in confusion and Sean to gasp in horror.
The Smokescreen was long gone, and the piles of sludge weren't giving off much smell at all. Yet the putrid smell of utter foulness was only getting stronger. It had been only getting stronger through the whole dungeon. He'd briefly smelled it before, when he bumped into-
"SHINX," he shouted, spinning around to where they had entered from. "SKU-"
That was as far as he got before Skuntank descended upon him.
A meaty claw cracked Sean across the head and knocked him flying, Shinx could barely turn in time before Skuntank breathed right in his face.
The sheer stench was utterly overpowering, and he lost consciousness. The last thing he heard was a strange laughter. "Chaw-haw-haw…"
"Ugh… what happened?" Sean mumbled as he blinked his way back to the world of the conscious. "Ah, arg!" He moved his head and then suddenly had sharp, stabbing, pains erupt from his chin, right side of neck, and his ribs.
"Ooh…" another sound caught his attention long enough to divert the pain for a moment.
Blinking away tears of pain, Sean forced himself to his feet. He was distantly aware that he was still very short, very furry, and very much not human. But most of his awareness was focused on Shinx, curled up in a ball and quietly sobbing.
"Shinx?" he called out softly, not sure what do say or do in the least.
Shinx heard him, despite the weak call, and uncurled, standing up. "Come on," Shinx muttered. He turned tail and began to walk out of the dungeon.
Sean hastened to catch up with him, although there was no need. Shinx trudged along so slowly that even with one leg going numb, Sean was able to keep up with him easily.
They exited the room and found themselves back at the room where they had started. Slope moving upwards to freedom.
Sean glanced behind him in confusion, but there was just flat wall where they had just come. Sensing his confusion, Shinx spoke.
"Getting to the end of a dungeon and then leaving the last room will bring you to the entrance again." He spoke every word with a distressingly flat tone, one that made Sean want to reach over and hug him. Shinx was already trekking up the slope, so Sean hurried to join him.
They reached the exit to the cave. Dusk had arrived and was bathing the entire beach in beautiful colours. Shinx didn't seem to notice, he just trudged forwards.
Sean tried to find the words to say, but his mind was entirely fixated on something else that he couldn't. Shinx reached a gouge in the sand, marking the spot where his treasure had been taken from him, and completely broke down.
"WHY DID THIS HAVE TO HAPPEN?" he screamed, burying his face in the sand and screaming harder. Sean stood frozen, awkwardly trying to move forwards and comfort the shinx, but his mind was too selfishly fixated on his own problems.
He traced his aching jaw, wincing at the sharp jab of pain he received for doing so. Skuntank had slammed into him, but he hadn't fainted until after Shinx had. He had felt the pain as sharp and clear as real life.
Sean had had dreams where he had fallen and hit the ground from great heights, been slammed into a shed once and knocked into the air. Not once had he felt pain.
His heart made various flips and clenches as the reality of his situation began to dawn on him. Not only was this not a dream in the slightest, but the story he knew was already going wrong.
Panic began to grip at him as Sean tried to remember every titbit of the plot at once, but each thread slipped away from him as Shinx cried harder. There were more important things to deal with than his own thoughts.
"Shinx." Sean found his words again. "I'm so sorry." He carefully stepped forward, then another, until he was by the Electric-type's side. He gently laid a paw, not a hand as he reminded himself, on the quivering ball that was supposed to be the spunky partner pokémon and sat down, remaining on the beach with him until he had cried enough.
"I'll never be an explorer," Shinx muttered not long after he stopped crying, bringing Sean out of his reverie.
Uncurling he came to his feet and gave a brief shake to get the sand off but gave up halfway. "What does it matter?" he mumbled and began to walk away. "Thanks for being there, but you've probably got better things to do than waste time with me."
"H-hey," Sean said and scurried over to him. "Shinx, don't say that. You will be an explorer and you're not a waste of time!"
Shinx paused and looked up at him, eyes bloodshot, but worst of all there was no spark to him. Literal or otherwise.
"Why do you care?" he asked. "I mean, you don't even know me. You told me your name and I didn't even tell you mine. I got you into trouble when you didn't know what you were getting into and then knocked out in a dungeon. I'm lucky you're not spitting on me right now, but instead you're putting paws on me and telling me I'm everything I'm not."
Sean didn't really know what to say to that. He knew the words were somewhere and desperately tried to find them. "W-well. I mean, we were in a hurry. I'm Sean." He put on a cheerful tone and stretched out a paw. "I woke up today with no memories except I'm pretty sure I used to be human. Who are you?"
The shinx blinked at that. "Human?" he asked, some liveliness returning to his expression. "You didn't say anything like that before…" he drifted off and eyes wandered a bit before he righted them back on Sean's face. "My name… well, it's Rai… which only my sister knows. You too, now, I guess. You can call me Shinx if you want to, strangers and all that."
"I know your name, and you know mine." Sean put a grin on, he knew Rai saw right through it though. "So, we're not strangers anymore."
"You're… very strange." Rai shook his head. "But I guess I'm not much better. I've had that Relic Fragment for years you see, it's the only thing I have left of my… well it's the only thing I really have. Had, I suppose." His ears drooped, and he sighed. "I was sure it meant something, something big for me. But I guess not."
Rai hesitated for a moment before going for broke. "You said you were human?"
Sean nodded, hoping he'd play this right. "Yeah. That's why I was so confused when I woke up. A talking shinx is, well, not what I was expecting. Having paws and a tail is weird too." Sean had mostly done his best to ignore the extra limb up to this point, everything else happening one after another. Now that he had time to focus he couldn't help but notice it.
"It's like having an extra arm," he said, swishing the tail up and down and side to side. "Except it can bend much more and doesn't have any fingers. This is really, really, weird for me."
"Not having a tail would be weird for me," Rai said, swishing his own tail in chorus with Sean's. "But I guess I can see your point… well uh… humans are kind of a myth around here."
"I could be wrong." Sean shrugged, defaulting to passively agreeing with the person doubting his claims. "I don't remember much of anything. Just that I'm Sean and that I'm supposed to be much taller and not have a tail. Or fur. And have five digits on each hand. And, well… I'm rambling."
"Heh." Rai smiled briefly. "You ARE a strange person."
"For sure," Sean confirmed, immediately working to get that smile again. "And you barely know me yet. Just think how weird I'll get later."
Rai raised an eyebrow as Sean revaluated what he had just said. "Um… not in a bad way? Sorry, I tend to talk a lot when I'm feeling nervous."
"Maybe I could use that," Rai said with the briefest smile. Twitching his tail and turning back around he said. "You've probably got nowhere to go. Walk with me for a bit."
As they walked, Sean took this as his chance to try and restore the track a little. "As I was saying, you are totally going to be an explorer. I mean, did you see how you handled yourself in that dungeon!"
"You mean getting knocked out by getting breathed on?"
"Not that part." Sean cringed, chiding himself internally. "I mean everything else. You walked us both through a Mystery Dungeon, protected both of us, fought two dirty bastards and beat them both." He paused and said. "I'm saying 'both' too much."
Rai gave a tiny smile again and Sean powered onwards. "The only thing I literally did was get in the way, hit Koffing with a Sleep Seed and hold Zubat. You battled them yourself, and everything before that."
With the words flowing, Sean finally felt confident again. "Even at the end, Skuntank had to get you with a cheap shot after fighting his flunkies. He wasn't game to even fight you head on. What does that say about a coward like that?"
"Smart I guess, smarter than me," Rai said, looking away from Sean. "They were right about ME being a coward though. You say I'll be some adventurer, but I can't even gather the nerve to step on the guild grate. When you asked me too, I just ran away. I don't even deserve to be an explorer."
"I don't think you're a coward," Sean said. "I mean it!" he added when Rai gave a bitter laugh. "Look at what you did today. No, seriously. Cowards don't do that. They roll over and take it. You charged in. That's brave."
"I had you there," Rai said, although there was less certainty in his voice now.
"And look how useful I was," Sean thumbed a digit at himself and laughed. "I wouldn't have made it through the second room without you. And honestly, until the very end, I was having fun. If you were an explorer I'd ask you to teach me."
"What are you saying?"
Sean swallowed and summoned all his nerve. "If you want, we can make a team together. The two of us can go to the, what was it? Wigglyfuff Guild and join together."
"Wigglytuff," Rai corrected. "And… and…" tears welled up in his eyes and he angrily brushed them away. "I completely failed today. You got knocked out and I failed to get my treasure back. Why would you want to make a team with me?"
"I like you." Sean shrugged. "And I think, I really do believe, you'll be a fantastic explorer. I can only hope I can keep up with you."
"You mean it?" Rai's voice was tinny and filled with the kind of hope that was almost painful to hear.
"One hundred percent yes!"
Beaming suddenly, Rai tackled Sean, repeating thank you until the sun set.
And so, the beginning comes to a close.
I don't plan on this being a plain retelling of Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky. I think I can do it right, still have the story we love, but change it as well. Right off the bat, the partner has lost the Relic Fragment. What other changes will a self-insert-style protagonist bring to this story? I hope you'll stick around to find out!