You're awake. Good! I've been waiting so very long…
How long? You were out for quite a while. I was beginning to get worried about you. Although, your mind wouldn't have survived the trip if I hadn't put you under. Transferring consciousness between bodies is a big deal, after all!
Do you remember what we talked about? The questions I asked you? The conclusions we came to together?
Yes… We're here. We've arrived at the Pokemon World. But…
I'm afraid I have to leave you now. However, I trust you'll be just fine on your own.
You will… If you answered my questions with an honest and open heart, you should have nothing to fear.
And now we must part, dear Espurr. My heart goes out to you, in the new world…
Those That Live in this World, and Those That Have Come to It
Slowly coming to. Espurr blinked her eyes open wearily.
The first thing she noticed was that she was laying on her back, and there was a scent in the air she didn't like. It smelled distinctly like something had died long ago, and the stench was now floating in on the wind. The second thing she noticed was the rushing of the river that she must undoubtably have been right next to. It churned loudly, blotting out the softer noises in the area. Something about it felt oddly familiar to her. The third thing she noticed was that she was parched.
Very parched. Her body felt like it was going to give out and die if she didn't get herself a drink. So before she thought of or did anything else, she focused on getting water.
The river was closer than she thought, only a few feet away. Espurr fell to her knees, attempting to cup up water in her hands, but it just wasn't working how she wanted it to. She couldn't work her fingers as well, and it all fell through her much smaller paws before she could hoist it to her mouth. It took Espurr a minute to recognize that her fingers were much smaller than they should have been. That didn't look right, but water was more important. She temporarily ignored whatever was up with her hands in favor of her growing thirst.
Would she have to drink from the river with her tongue? Espurr lolled it around in her mouth uncomfortably. She really hoped she wouldn't need to. She then came up with the plan of tearing a largish leaf from the bush right next to her and scooping up water in that.
After a few drinks from her makeshift forest ladle, Espurr's thirst was finally quenched, and the ripples spreading through the water in her leaf had finally calmed enough for Espurr to see her reflection.
From head to toe, grey-purple fur enveloped her body, the only standout features being the white tips of her hands, feet, and floppy ears, and the oversized, pinkish pair of eyes on her face. She stared at it blankly, trying to decide what to make of it. The sight gave her the oddly distant feel that something was wrong, but somehow Espurr couldn't bring herself to feel surprised. She'd had a nasty suspicion something was wrong while drinking her fill of the lake's water just a minute before.
The real shock came when she tried to recall her name. 'Espurr' kept coming up when she asked herself what she was. It was like the name had been drilled into her head, no matter how she pushed it aside. But… that wasn't her name. She knew it wasn't. And now that she was on the track, all her memories, her thoughts, her fear, her doubts… They all slipped away like mirages once she tried to recall them. She couldn't remember a single thing about herself, and that finally motivated her to be scared.
Espurr felt her breathing speed up as she took a shaky step away from the lake, dropping the leaf of water to the ground. She began to shiver uncontrollably, repressing the urge to release a loud yowl of horror. Had she felt like this often before she woke up here? Where had she come from before she woke up here? Had she even existed before now?
Espurr was roused from her distressed panic by the sound of something deftly moving through the woods behind her. She turned around, quickly scanning the forest for any intruding p… pokemon, her mind helpfully substituted. Espurr was mildly unnerved, but opted to use it all the same. It took all of four seconds to find them.
Over her shoulder, she saw a trio of pokemon approach her from behind in the woods. The shade of the canopy cast a foreboding darkness over them, leaving them silhouettes. Espurr could barely make out more than the broadest of details on their cone-like heads. She stood up and backed herself against the bush, keeping her eyes on them just in case they moved.
A heavy moment passed, all four pokemon staring directly at each other but none daring to make a move. Eventually, the cone-headed pokemon all slowly turned to each other in sync, rigidly raising their arms up in the air. Espurr watched the rapidly blinking lights flash between the trio, illuminating the strange markings on their heads and the ugliness of their limbs and lower bodies. And then the lights stopped, and in an instant they were all staring directly at Espurr again.
Black sparks began to collect around the strange pokemons' blinkers, and suddenly a large, shadowy ball materialized out of nowhere and flew straight at Espurr. She barely dove out of the way in time, landing on the ground sideways. She didn't see what had become of the bush.
The strange pokemon started moving towards Espurr, and as they pushed apart foliage and ferns on their path towards her, she saw how they floated. She picked herself up as fast as she could, and ran.
Espurr didn't know how far she ran or for how long, but she didn't stop, no matter how many times she tripped on her new, shorter legs, until she couldn't hear the distant beeping and the swish of brushed-apart foliage behind her. Espurr collapsed to her hands and knees, wildly panting as the surge of adrenaline that had encompassed her body slowly wore off. She glanced around the forest, taking in the setting sun in the distance that seemed to be coming from both everywhere and nowhere at once. The canopy above looked more like a painting than anything, and she couldn't tell where it was shining from.
It seemed she was more lost than ever now. A distant memory surfaced in her head—following the river always lead home. But she didn't even have the river to guide her anymore. Why hadn't she followed the river?
Espurr felt and saw the first tendril of cold mist swirl around her paw. She looked behind herself, and saw a large, thick wall of mist approaching from behind her. It was almost like a solid wall, and Espurr felt an air of evil approach with its presence. She didn't know how she knew that. But more than anything, she could feel it. It wasn't safe to travel in this fog.
Espurr glanced up at the great oak tree that stood before her, studying all the little grooves and branches that ran up its trunk. Those pokemon had no legs, and their arms weren't much better, she concluded. And up there, she'd be safe from the evil mist below. They'd never be able to climb a tree without waking her first… right?
Curled up in a tree branch just large enough to not risk falling from in her sleep, Espurr dreamt horrible dreams of a black void of nothingness. An In Between of nothing but horribly impossible black, and she dreamt of nothing. Because there was nothing to dream of. Nothing to remember, and nothing to fill her dreams. In her addled state, with her mind blank and black as her in between, she somehow understood that. And briefly, in the absence of her dreams, came something else.
Espurr awoke to the sound of rustling below. Stretching uncomfortably in the branch, she looked up at the black night sky and saw it was still nighttime. Fog plagued the forest ground, as cold and damp as it looked, and Espurr was very glad she had made the decision to sleep in a tree. She took a look around. The forest seemed much more ominous than it had before, almost foreboding in nature.
Unsure as to what had woken her up, she focused her hearing. She could hear quiet rustles from below the fog…
…And saw the flicker of a yellow light. Espurr snapped fully awake in horror. She stood up in the tree, quickly catching her balance before she could fall off. Were they back? Had the strange pokemon caught up with her? She cautiously peered over the tree branch in fear.
Flickering lights of the red, green, and yellow variety lit up the fog right below her tree.
That was the sound of foliage being brushed aside by something. Espurr quickly hid herself in fear. How had they found her? What did they want with her? Were they going to climb the tree?
More foliage. Espurr hesitantly stole another glance, hoping she hadn't been spotted (although, she noted with growing anxiety, if they were here, they most likely knew she was too). The lights had disappeared, but so far the pokemon had not yet made another move. Did this mean they couldn't climb trees after all? That she was safe, at least for the time being? Espurr's heart leapt pre-emptively in hope. She waited a single moment, her heart beating over her frightened breath. The pokemon had gone away, it seemed. Could it be true? Had they given up?
Espurr glanced over the branch a third time, and was met with the sight of three cone-shaped heads poking out of the fog, staring up directly at Espurr's tree. She quickly hid again, backing up against the tree trunk. She knew it was too good to be true. It looked like they were waiting for something. But, for what? Did they expect her to come down from the tree?
A sudden wind ruffled Espurr's fur, coming out of nowhere and leaving as quickly as it had arrived. The rancid scent of something that was dead blasted her in the face as it passed. It somehow smelled evil, just like everything else in this place did. She watched it blow off, violently rattling the branches and canopies of a few trees as it went. It certainly hadn't been natural. Was this what the strange pokemon were waiting for? Espurr didn't want to wait around until whatever the second stage of the strange pokemons' plan was rolled about.
She looked around, performing a quick survey of the woods from atop her lofty perch. Escaping on the ground was a bad idea all around. Even if she somehow managed to make it to the ground safely and escape the strange pokemon, she'd still have to travel through the fog afterwards. And there was no way of knowing what other evil things were waiting in there for her. The idea of staying in the tree until the strange pokemon left occurred to her, but she didn't know if that was even a safe option anymore. That left one final idea.
She could escape through the trees. If she walked all the way to the end of this branch, there was a somewhat jumpable gap between this tree and the next. It was risky, but the best other option available to her was to sprout wings and fly, and she didn't anticipate that happening anytime soon.
Espurr felt the beginnings of another, stronger wind begin to ruffle through her fur. It smelled just as rancid as the last one did, and it was stronger. That was it. It was time to go.
She looked down at the strange pokemon, who hadn't moved an inch from their previous spots. They just had to stay that way a little longer…
Bracing herself, Espurr began to dash for the edge of the branch, attempting to get a running start. Halfway across, she lost her footing, and for one horrifying second she thought that she was going to fall, that every bone in her body would break and then she would be left defenseless as the strange pokemon carried her off to a fate worse than death—
—And then she caught herself with her other foot, resuming her charge to the end of the branch with renewed determination. She leapt off the branch as soon as her feet touched the very end, reaching out as far as she could in order to catch the next one. She would make it!
The wind that appeared out of nowhere violently ruffled Espurr's fur. The poor pokemon only had enough time to look in its general direction before she was hit with a strong blast of the foul-smelling gust. It knocked Espurr far off-course, her outstretched paws barely missing the branch by a hair's length before she began the heart-wrenching journey towards the ground.
Espurr let out a loud yowl of pain as she hit the ground, rolling to a stop on her side. She picked herself up quickly before anything else could take her by surprise. Her right arm was fine, but her left arm, the one she had landed on, hurt like nothing she had ever felt before. She could barely move it! Flashes of dark maroon cut through her vision. Somehow she knew what it meant: pain.
And just bearing the immense pain was taking a lot of her. Gritting her teeth in hurt that made her want to vomit, she spared a half-second's worth glance at the mighty oak she had just fallen out of. The rancid wind whirled around her and buffeted her fur with a howl that sounded almost like a laugh, as if it was taking some kind of twisted delight in her misfortune.
Espurr's observation was cruelly cut short at the appearance of a trio of coned heads hovering through the fog. All of the sudden, Espurr forgot about the mighty oak and the blinding pain in her arm, and began to run for her life.
An audino quietly picked the herbs and weeds from around a ground-bound bush in the forest, slipping them into her exploration bag. It was the full moon, and her herb stores were running low again.
Fresh-picked herbs were always available on the Air and Grass Continents, but rarely grew anywhere on the Water Continent. They were vital to Audino's medical practices, but somehow they were always the hardest thing to get ahold of. She could always get them from Kecleon, but Kecleon overcharged for them and everymon knew it. she had been lucky to find this clutch of them sitting around the nearby mystery dungeon. Mystery dungeons being what they were, Audino had returned once every month at the full moon (she was superstitious) and found the exact same bush with the exact same clutches of herbs growing around it awaiting her.
Of course, finding the bush was a different beast entirely—Every time Audino came looking for it, it was always in a different place. But that was to be expected of a mystery dungeon. The places were always re-arranging themselves however they saw fit, after all. Audino was just grateful she'd found the bush fairly quickly tonight. Something was different in the air this time—she could sense it. It was like the dungeon itself had grown darker, and the surroundings around her somehow put her on guard. The lack of dungeon pokemon around at this time of night made her ears bristle with uneasiness as well. Dungeon wildlings were mostly nocturnal, and the ones here were weak enough for a child to easily defeat, but all the same they were never pokemon to shy away from a fight. If the dungeon locals were all in hiding… then what were they hiding from?
Audino didn't want to find out. She kept the escape orb she had bought from Kecleon's specifically for this occasion in one of the bag's looser pockets—just in case she'd need to make an impromptu escape all the sudden.
She looked up from her herb picking in confusion as an unnatural wind blew past her, shaking the trees with visible anger as it went. In the distance, she could see what looked like a thick wall of mist. Audino clutched her escape orb tightly. This dungeon wasn't supposed to do that... this dungeon was too weak for that. Something was very wrong here.
There was suddenly a loud thump in the distance, accompanied by a sickening crack. Audino had half a mind to just leave right now and forget her herbs. But that notion disappeared once she heard the yowl of pain that followed. Whatever pokemon had made it sounded rather young… But a dungeon wildling, even a young one, could spell trouble for her at this point.
Suddenly, Audino saw the silhouette of a small pokemon running straight in her direction through the fog. Was it a dungeon pokemon? Audino braced herself for possible battle. She watched as within seconds, an espurr stumbled out of the distant mist and into the immediate area, running frantically through the woods. For a split second, Audino was confused. Espurr weren't native to this dungeon. So why was one here?
Audino only had to see the look in the espurr's eyes once to understand completely. Their eyes glimmered in the moonlight with a look of pure fear instead of pure fury, the hallmark of many dungeon wildlings. This wasn't one of the dungeon's false projections; this was a very real pokemon!
By now, the espurr had realized Audino wasn't yet another hostile pokemon, and had changed its course directly towards her.
"Please help me!" the pokemon cried out in terror, clutching her left arm to her chest as she dashed up to Audino. Audino studied the arm, identifying the fracture in a matter of seconds. It wasn't easy to break a pokemon's bones. That meant something had done this to her!
Something that was approaching from the fog at this very moment. Hints of the strongest wind yet began to blow through Audino's fur as she hurriedly beckoned the espurr towards her. Behind the terrified pokemon, she could see a trio of silhouettes approaching, accompanied by flickering lights.
The espurr reached Audino, violently shivering both from intense cold and sheer terror. Audino hugged the Espurr close, keeping an eye on both the wind and the approaching pokemon.
As the wind grew stronger, the pokemon approached, and Audino finally got her first good look at them: a trio of beheeyem, ghostly lights flickering in the fog. They weren't dungeon pokemon, Audino realized: their movements were too composed for that. Too calculated.
"Stay close, and whatever you do, don't let go. Understand?" Audino whispered to her new charge. The espurr nodded, staring in fear at the exact same thing Audino was.
There was no more time to waste. Any longer, Audino knew, and the approaching pokemon would be the least of their worries. In one swift motion, she pulled Espurr close and whipped out the escape orb.
"Shut your eyes!" she yelled to Espurr, hurling the orb at her feet. It exploded in a plume of brilliant, blue-white smoke, and when the smoke cleared, Audino and Espurr were nowhere to be found.
~DO PSYCHIC-TYPE POKEMON DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP?~
Hello, everyone! Welcome to the beginning of my much-labored upon project, Do Psychic-Type Pokemon Dream of Electric Sheep! ...Or just "Psychic Sheep" for short, since I've gotten complaints over how long the name and acronym are. This is a thought experiment/AU (Alternate Universe, for the uninformed) version of Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon featuring the game's side character Espurr in the main character spot. It's also an excuse to play around with the PMD setting in general. I'm not going to say what to expect, because that'd be spoilers (:P), but I would advise going in with the assumption that any canon knowledge can be overridden at any time. Good? Good!
This fic is rated "T-plus" for heavy themes and violence. Nothing grotesque, but not a cakewalk. Be warned.
Music of the Week!
Counterattack - Richard Gibbs