Through Red Eyes

by GameTrekker

Day 1

I am awake. In the dark, damp earth, I wait. The soil feels wonderful around my small form. I soak up the nutrients in it.

Time passes. I hear footsteps aboveground, but they do not concern me. I am safe and secure, growing ever stronger with the nourishment in the earth. The leaf at the top of the part of my body that is protruding into the air turns into a bud.

The soil will be dirt soon with all that I am sucking up from it. I feel energized and alert. My feast invigorates me. Now my bud opens into a flower.

I abruptly feel a tug on my aboveground stem. With a popping noise, I jump from the ground.

My instincts kick in immediately. I am a white Pikmin. I have been put here on Earth to serve the Leaders. It is my purpose to do whatever they ask.

I survey the environment. I am in a gravel-covered cave underground.

My energy level could not be better. I instantly look for something to do. I spot four other Pikmin, who have also just been plucked. They are following the Blue Leader. I follow as well.

"Hi!" I say to them. Being able to communicate with my fellows is another part of my instincts.

They answer back with "Hi"s and "Hello"s.

The Blue Leader has met up with another Leader, a Red one. I listen intently. I do not understand the language they speak, but it fascinates me nonetheless.

Louie: "The new whiteys are ready to go, Captain."

Olimar: "Good. Perhaps they will be able to explain why my Treasure Gauge is going off at a random spot."

The Red Leader gives a short whistle blast. He wants me, along with the other white Pikmin, to follow him. We do so.

Eventually, my red eyes sense something buried beneath the gravel surface. Instinctively, I begin to dig. I must excavate it for the Leaders. The other white Pikmin join in.

As a grey surface is slowly unearthed, the Blue Leader walks over, followed by a large band of red, yellow, and purple Pikmin, all of which sport flowers at the tips of their stems. I notice that the colored Pikmin are all bigger than us uncolored white Pikmin; purples very much so. I count the Pikmin quickly. The group is made up of 38 reds, 32 yellows and 20 purples. This makes the Pikmin population in the vicinity number 95, counting us whites.

Though the colored Pikmin are bigger, the yellow and red ones equal us whites in strength, while the purples both outmatch and outweigh us greatly. Due to our small frames, however, us white Pikmin can run faster than the others, especially the sluggish purples.

Louie: "Here are the rest of 'em, Captain."

Olimar: "Good work. They can join the white Pikmin in digging."

Louie: "Ooh. So, you found something!"

Olimar: "Yep."

The item we are digging up pops out of the ground at last. I grab hold of it. So do three of my fellow whites. Many other Pikmin help us hoist it up. Everyone, except us whites, knows where to take the thing. They move and we move with them. The Leaders follow and the rest of the Pikmin follow them.

Olimar: "It appears to be a colossal shell."

We walk along the dark passageways for many minutes. Eventually, a floating triangular vessel of some sort comes into view. There is a bright spot on the ground below it. We take the thing to that spot and let go.

The item shrinks and is sucked up into the floating vessel. The Leaders arrive and I fall back into the group behind them.

Pod: "Initiating valuation of recovered treasure. The artifact is worth... 40 Pokos. I hereby dub this object... the Olimarnite Shell."

Olimar: -smirks- "That's a nice name."

Pod: "Of course it is. I came up with it. Now get a move on. We must delve deeper for more treasures."

Olimar: "I suppose you're right. My Treasure Gauge just deactivated, so that must mean there's no more treasure in this sublevel."

Pod: "Well, then. Find the exit. I don't want to be kept waiting."

The Red Leader leads us for a ways. Then we arrive at a hole in the ground. Both Leaders jump through and all us Pikmin naturally follow.

We fall down to another cavern not unlike the one we just dropped from. The floating vessel has followed us.

This area, however, seems much more active than the previous one. Black beetles with yellow spots are wandering around its halls, occasionally sparking and firing arcs of electricity between each other.

Olimar: "Oh, no. Anode Beetles. Okay, Louie. I'll take the yellow Pikmin and eliminate these menaces. You keep the rest of them here and out of harm."

Louie: "Aw, c'mon, Captain. How come I always have to stay behind? I wanna lead a little troop and take out some bugs."

Olimar: "Must I repeat myself? I am the skilled one here. I escaped from this planet the first time. I am the one who studies Pikmin. I know how to handle them. You would probably rather eat them!"

Louie: "Yeah... Well, they do look a lot like Pikpik carrots."

Olimar: "See? This is exactly my point. I've let you handle them before, but you always come back with half of them left, giving me some wild excuse like... like that time you said a beetle burrowed up out of the ground, farted at you, causing your Pikmin to be poisoned and die, and then scuttled back into the earth."

Louie: "I tell you that thing was real!"

Olimar: "Whatever, Louie. Look after the reds, whites and purples while I'm gone."

Louie: -grumbles incoherently- -sits down-

The Red Leader, who seems to have won some sort of argument, promptly leaves with all of the yellow Pikmin. I long to go with him, though I know not where he is going. Wherever it is, it must be more exciting than waiting here with the Blue Leader, doing absolutely nothing.

Not too far away, I see the Red Leader. He is throwing the yellow Pikmin at the beetles. I notice that the yellow Pikmin fly quite high when thrown. Eventually, one of the yellow Pikmin lands on a beetle, flipping it over. The rest then swarm the beetle and whack it with the flowers on their heads until it is dead. The Red Leader then repeats the process with each of the other beetles. Sometimes, the beetles will fire electricity, but the yellow Pikmin walk through it like it wasn't there! Somehow, I get the feeling that I wouldn't be able to survive electrocution. The Red Leader and the yellow Pikmin eventually disappear from sight, undoubtedly exploring the rest of the cave and eliminating what's left of the beetles.

Curious as to how long the Red Leader will be gone, I ask one of the nearby red Pikmin.

"I have no idea," it answers. "I was just plucked yesterday." It then points at another red Pikmin. "Go ask that one. He's the eldest Pikmin here."

I wander over to the indicated Pikmin.

"Hi," I say. "How long does the Red Leader normally stay away like this?"

"Getting jumpy?" replies the red. "Impatience will get you nowhere. If you manage to live as long as I have, you learn to enjoy these times of inactivity. This is my twenty-second day."

"Are you going to answer my question?"

The red lies down on its side, propping up its head with one arm, before answering, "You never know how long he'll be gone. If he needs any other Pikmin, or has a job for the Blue Leader, he'll be back."

"What might be a reason that he'd need more Pikmin?"

"Well, if there is a task that he needs accomplished concerning walking through fire, he will call for us red Pikmin. If a big bug gets in his way, he will probably come for the purples. He'll only call for you whites if a gas-producing pipe needs to be shut down, either that or he needs something dug up. Us reds are used all the time, because we hit bugs harder than any other Pikmin, except purples. By the way, there's one more Pikmin type we don't have with us right now. Blue Pikmin can survive underwater, but that's their only ability, so they aren't used very often."

"So, you don't know when he's coming back?"

The red Pikmin sighs. "No, I don't," it says finally.

I lie down as well to wait. The Blue Leader is still mumbling. I'm desperate for something to do, so I listen to the Blue Leader's foreign language.

Louie: "I can be useful. I can help. Why does Olimar always have to leave me behind? There are some dead Anode Beetles over there. I could bring them back to the ship. Yeah, that's what I'll do. Olimar will probably not be back for a while. All I have to do is go get the bugs and save us some time."

The Blue Leader suddenly stands up and whistles.

"Hmm," says the red Pikmin as everyone stands at attention. "It looks like we'll be bringing those bug carcasses back to the floating vessel."

"How do you know?" I ask it.

"I've been around long enough to have done this many, many times."

The Blue Leader walks away and we all follow him. I run to the front of the group, eager to partake in whatever task we will be sent to do.

The red Pikmin turns out to be right. With a series of beeps, the Blue Leader instructs us to pick up the beetles and carry them back.

I grab hold of a beetle and six other Pikmin do so as well. We lift it and haul it to the floating vessel. Once there, it is sucked up like the big grey thing.

We now wait. More Pikmin come, carrying more beetles. We all huddle in the light of the floating vessel.

Suddenly, the Red Leader runs toward us. He has returned, but not from the direction he left by. His eyes are wide. He is obviously in panic. I notice he has returned with two yellow Pikmin less than he left with.

Olimar: "Louie! Louie! Where are you! I told you to stay here!"

The ball at the end of the Red Leader's antenna stands up straight and makes a loud clicking noise. A few moments later, the Blue Leader rushes back to us. The loud click must be how the Leaders call each other.

Louie: "What is it? What is it? What'd I do?"

Olimar: "Oh, good. You're okay. I told you to stay here to look after the other Pikmin!"

Louie: "Well, yeah. But, you see... Um... You left bug bodies... and I... I just wanted to be helpful."

Olimar: -sighs- "I had an encounter with a Wollywog that fell from the ceiling. It squashed two of my yellow Pikmin. I retreated to get the purple Pikmin so that I could kill it without taking any more casualties, but you were gone. If there are any more of those hopping beasts clinging to the ceiling, then one could land on your Pikmin. I could not let that happen. This is one of the reasons I told you to STAY HERE!"

Louie: -hangs head- "I'm sorry, Cap."

Olimar: "I suppose, since you're alright, that no harm was done, but I do expect my orders to be followed next time. And, it's 'Captain', not 'Cap'; I feel like I've told you that over one hundred times."

Louie: "Sorry, Captain."

Olimar: "That's better. Now, I require the purple Pikmin. The threat of the Anode Beetles has already been neutralized. So, I will scout out the entire area and eliminate all the Wollywogs. Then I will return and we will gather the bodies."

The Red Leader makes a blast on his whistle, calling the purples to him. Then he walks away with them, leaving the yellows with us.

A long time later, he returns. And the purple Pikmin with him are carrying two strange objects. One is round and flat while the other is tall and translucent.

Louie: "Captain! What finds!"

Olimar: -smiles- "Yes, Louie. One was hidden in a corner, but the other" -motions to the coin-shaped treasure- "had been ingested by a Glint Beetle. I nailed it with a direct hit from one of my purple Pikmin to uncover the treasure."

I grab onto the tall item, eager to speed up the process of bringing it to the floating vessel. However, I am helping for only a few seconds before the job is done.

Pod: "Initiating valuation of recovered treasure. The artifact is worth... 110 Pokos. I hereby dub this object... the Crystal King."

Olimar: "Excellent. Now for the coin."

Pod: "Initiating valuation of recovered treasure. The artifact is worth... 100 Pokos. I hereby dub this object... the Unknown Merit."

Olimar: "Wonderful. We're making a lot of progress today. Now to round up the bodies of the Anode Beetles and Wollywogs."

Both Leaders take a troop of Pikmin and lead them off to pick up the rest of the bodies. I go with the Red Leader, as he tends to be much more decisive and active than the Blue Leader, and I want to do as much as possible.

But, nothing much happens. After all the bodies are in the floating vessel, we are led to a hole that leads further underground.

Once again, the new area looks barely any different than the previous.

Louie: "It's nice and quiet here. I wonder if there isn't much to do on this sublevel."

Olimar: "In my opinion... it's too quiet. I'll go scout out the area. You stay here."

Louie: "Yes, Captain."

As soon as the Red Leader is a few inches away from the floating vessel (he's just a few centimeter's tall himself), a rock falls from the ceiling and lands in front of him. He runs back to us as the rock begins to crack and smolder. Then, just when the rock looks like it is about to collapse, it explodes! My eyes widen. I am sure that if I were caught in such a blast, I would be killed instantly. This place is dangerous!

Olimar: "I was right to scout out the sublevel. But, as there seem to be no other threats than bomb-rocks around, I will allow you to scout as well, Louie."

Louie: "Yay!"

Olimar: "You take that route." -points- "I'll go the other way. We need to cause every bomb-rock in this area to explode. That way, we won't have to worry about such a threat. Oh, and if you find ANYTHING dangerous, come back to the ship. I don't want you in combat."

Louie: "Okay. You got it, Cap."

Olimar: -looks at Louie expectantly-

Louie: "...tain."

Olimar: "That's better."

The two Leaders walk off in opposite directions and disappear into the darkness. Every once in a while, I hear an explosion in the distance.

I lie down. When am I ever going to be called out to do important stuff? I think to myself.

The Red Leader suddenly comes running back. But, he just calls all the purples and dashes off again with them jogging as fast as they can behind him, which is not very fast.

Not long after that, the Blue Leader returns. He's smiling for some reason.

To my surprise, he tweets his whistle, calling all of the white Pikmin and a bunch of the reds.

He leads us away from the floating vessel, muttering.

Louie: "That was so great! I find three Dwarf Orange Bulborbs right next to each other. Then I walk over to punch them to death and a bomb-rock falls between them! I step back and all three of them are blown up! And after that, my Treasure Gauge started going off. I'll just dig up the treasure and bring it back! Olimar's going to be so pleased."

The Blue Leader leads us over to three dead bugs and instructs some of the red Pikmin, with a series of beeps and whistles, to bring them back to the floating vessel. Then he continues into a corner of the cave.

There it is! I spy something underground. Instincts take over and I begin to dig. The rest of the white Pikmin follow suit. The reds watch.

Something pokes up out of the earth. Instantly, the red Pikmin begin to help us dig it up. In no time, we have unearthed a plant bulb. Everyone grabs on and we carry it back. The Blue Leader follows.

Once we get back, the floating vessel sucks up our prize as usual. However, when we left, there was a bunch of Pikmin here, yet I notice that now there are none but us.

Pod: "Initiating valuation of recovered treasure. The artifact is worth... 50 Pokos. I hereby dub this object... the Anxious Sprout."

Louie: "That's great. Olimar's going to be really happy about this."

Pod: "Let's hope so, because you two bicker way too much. As a machine, I am naturally above such squabbles. But of course, I am naturally above you, period, both figuratively and literally."

Louie: -rolls eyes- -looks around- "Hey. I left a bunch of reds and yellows here. Where did they go?"

Olimar: "I took them."

Upon hearing the voice, I spin around to see. The Red Leader has returned and he is bringing back an impressive batch of big dead bugs.

Olimar: "I needed all the help I could get bringing back these." -smirks- "I have here three Orange Bulborbs and seven Dwarf Orange Bulborbs."

Louie: "Wow, Olimar. And you did it without any Pikmin getting its flower knocked off?"

Olimar: "Well, no. But, I found an egg that had some nectar in it, so I healed the injured Pikmin."

Louie: "You really know how to fight, Olimar. But, I brought back a whole treasure!"

Olimar: "Really?"

Louie: "Uh-huh. It's called the Anxious Sprout and it's worth... uh..."

Pod: "Fifty Pokos."

Louie: "Yeah."

Olimar: "Well, well. Good job. I was wondering why my Treasure Gauge deactivated a minute ago. Anyway, I found the hole to the next sublevel. Let's get going."

The last of the bug bodies enter the floating vessel and everyone, including the Blue Leader, is led away by the Red Leader. Another hole comes into view and we all dive through it.

Fire spews from tiny geysers on this new floor, but such geysers are everywhere. There are also a few small orange bugs with black spots wandering around, along with strange red critters with long legs.

Olimar: "Fiery Dweevils among fire geysers. This calls for a red Pikmin sweep. I'll take them and put out the fires while you stay here and keep the rest of the Pikmin from being burnt. Remember, if a Pikmin catches on fire, a loud whistle in its direction will remind it how to put out the flames."

Louie: "I know; I know."

The Red Leader summons the red Pikmin to him and walks off. Whenever he approaches a fire geyser, the reds whack it with their flowers, stopping it up so that it doesn't spew fire anymore. Eventually, he ventures too far away to be seen.

The Red Leader is gone for a very, very long time. The Blue Leader goes to sleep after a while and I decide to do the same.

I don't know how long I stay asleep, but the voice of the floating vessel wakes me up.

Pod: "Initiating valuation of recovered treasure. The artifact is worth... 150 Pokos. I hereby dub this object... the Eternal Emerald Eye."

Olimar: "Yes! I knew that was a good find! This other treasure should be worth at least that amount as well!"

Louie: "What is it?"

Olimar: "It appears to be a giant skull. Louie, I don't think I ever told you this, but I have reason to bel-"

Pod: -interrupts Olimar- "Initiating valuation of recovered treasure. The artifact is worth... 140 Pokos. I hereby dub this object... the Colossal Fossil."

Olimar: "Excellent! Anyway, I have reason to believe that once, long ago, enormous beings lived on this planet, the sizes of which you cannot imagine. They must have dominated the planet in ages past before becoming extinct."

Louie: "Extinct? How?"

Olimar: "There are two possibilities. Either food supplies ran low, which is a possibility, as nothing here is big enough to feed such monstrosities, or the giants somehow managed to wipe themselves out. Further tests will discover the answer."

Silence. I notice that the Red Leader returned with less reds and more purples than he left with.

Olimar: "Well, enough about stuff that doesn't concern us. Let's get going. Another hole awaits our descent."

We are led to another hole and jump down.

On landing, I feel energized. My nap left me itching for action even more than I had been before it.

Pod: "Sensors indicate that this is the Final Floor."

Olimar: "Excellent. Our findings here have been good and our casualties negligible. Now, what terrible beast lurks at the bottom of this pit? In every dungeon so far, we've run into some sort of ruler on the Final Floor, so naturally there should b-" -gasps- "Oh, no..."

Louie: "What is it!"

Olimar: "There. On the ground." -points- -voice begins to shake- "Those eyestalks. I recognize them only too well."

Louie: "Those little sticks are eyes?"

Olimar: "Louie, under that soil lurks a terrible beast. I met one on my first adventure here. His name is Emperor Bulblax. It was the very last bug I faced and it had ingested my Secret Safe, which contained my life savings! But, beating it came at a price. Nearly all of my Pikmin were wiped out. Luckily, I managed to defeat the monstrosity with enough Pikmin to carry the Safe back to the ship, but I can't let such a massacre happen here."

Louie: "Well, if you've beaten him before, you can do it again, can't you?"

Olimar: -looks at the Pikmin- -takes deep breath- "Yes. You're right. It must be done. I've already beaten two Empress Bulblaxes. They... can't be... too much harder..."

Louie: "That's the spirit! Look. With me at your side, Emperor Buttocks w-"

Olimar: "Bulblax! Louie, that's terrible."

Louie: "Sorry, Cap. What I mean is that we'll work as a team! How'd you beat him last time? How're we gonna do it?"

Olimar: "Well, last time I tricked it into eating bomb-rocks and then pelted it with Pikmin before it could recover, but there are no bomb-rocks in sight. My Pikmin were slurped up so fast when he wasn't stunned... No. It's much too dangerous. I have to do this alone. And call me 'Captain'."

Louie: -whines- "Captaaaaaaaaaain. I'm here to help you! If you won't let me do anything then I should just go home!"

Olimar: "Fine! I never asked for you to come with me! It was the President's idea!"

Louie: "So what! I've been watching you. I know just as well how to move and throw Pikmin troops. You've got to admit you'll never defeat this big nemesis bug without my help. We'll both throw Pikmin at it at the same time! We'll do it! Just let me fight. Pleeeeeeeease?"

Olimar: "Oh... Very well... I've defeated him before..."

Louie: "We can do it again!"

Each Leader calls half of the Pikmin, getting nearly equal shares of each color. I go to the Red Leader.

Both Leaders march forward toward a sandy arena, issuing beeps and whistles that tell us to follow with the purples first, reds second and yellows third, with the whites fourth and last. I am annoyed at this. I want to get in on the action, though I know not what action we are headed for.

Two little tan-colored things are poking out of the sand. I wonder what they are.

Olimar: "Okay, Louie. Aim for his face. His back is armored. The most important thing to keep in mind is that when he opens his mouth, get away. His tongue is very sticky and any Pikmin that gets touched by it will be eaten. Also, get away from his shadow when he jumps. Keep your Pikmin close. Attack with everything you've got."

Louie: -tries to stop shaking- "Yeah, Capt-t-tain. You g-got it."

Olimar: -takes another deep breath- "Right, then. Let's wake him up."

The Red Leader grabs hold of the purple Pikmin behind him and flings it almost vertically into the air. There is a resounding thud as the Pikmin hits the ground next to the Red Leader.

Almost immediately, the sand is blasted upward and the two little tan things are raised up onto the top of a gigantic monster of the same color. Half of the monster is taken up by its pudgy head and disgustingly huge mouth, from which saliva slowly drips. The other half looks like a big, moss-covered rock. My tiny frame is nearly blown over by the behemoth's rising.

Olimar: "NOW!"

Both Leaders begin pelting the monster with streams of thrown purple Pikmin. The purples land hard on the monster's face, clinging to it and whacking it repeatedly with their flowers. The monster groans in pain and opens its mouth.

Olimar: "GET AWAY!"

The Leaders now turn and run from the monster, beeping loudly to tell us to follow close. The monster's tongue emerges and sweeps the sand. With my superior speed, I easily run well out of the tongue's reach, but four of the Blue Leader's yellow Pikmin are slurped up by it. They are then pulled, screaming, into the monster's gaping maw, never to be seen again.

The monster thrashes around, shaking off the Pikmin on its head. Its mouth then opens again. The tongue comes out, but goes back in without success.

Olimar: "NOW!"

Both Leaders run back towards the monster, flinging Pikmin at it. The Red Leader exhausts his supply of purples and moves on to reds, while the Blue Leader randomly throws every Pikmin within arm's reach. I suddenly wish I had joined him instead. I don't care if this beast is the scariest thing I've ever seen in my short-so-far life; I want to fight! Yet, not all my fellows seem to share in that desire. Some are purposefully getting to the back of their color-coded group. Apparently, although we all look similar, not all of us have the same personality.

Suddenly, the monster squats low to the ground and then jumps upward. All the Pikmin on it are flung off. The Leaders whistle, calling the Pikmin to regroup, but a shadow appears over the Blue Leader's forces. He notices and runs, but not fast enough. The monster returns to the earth right on top of his troops, instantly crushing a few purples and numerous reds. They didn't stand a chance.

The Red Leader resumes pelting the monster. Enraged, the Blue Leader does as well, but throws more wildly than ever. Some of his Pikmin land on the monster's back and bounce off. However, one of his remaining red Pikmin lands on one of the monster's eyes. Instantly, there is a spurt of red blood and the monster writhes in pain, throwing off the Pikmin.

The monster's tongue comes lashing out in the Red Leader's direction, catching him off-guard. He beeps a retreat signal, but too late. Five yellows, sixteen reds and one of my fellow whites are swept up by the tongue. Their screams still echo around the cavern after the Pikmin are eternally silenced in the monster's stomach.

A split-second later, the monster burps slightly, sending a few purple vapors into the air. I wonder what caused that.

Then the monster jumps again, but this time lands right back where it jumped from. However, the force of its focused collision with the ground knocks every Pikmin into the air.

There is instant pandemonium. Every Pikmin begins running in every direction. I run towards the Red Leader, only faintly hearing the whistles of the Blue Leader as he tries desperately to regroup us.

But right when I get to the Red Leader, he has already caught a purple Pikmin by the stem above its head. Whirling it about, he throws it at the monster, which was just about to unleash its tongue again.

Seeing me running towards him, the Red Leader grabs me and hurls me at the monster as well.

I see the purple Pikmin hit the monster, landing directly on its unhurt eye. Blood gushes forth and the monster's tongue is sucked back in.

I land. Grasping onto the blinded monster with my claws, I whack its forehead repeatedly with my pink flower. Other Pikmin are thrown up as well. I hear terrible howls from the monster as it is pummeled.

A sudden violent shake throws me off. Luckily, I land on my rear, rather than my flower, which could have been ripped clean off.

I look up at the monster. It is writhing and thrashing, roaring at the top of its lungs, flinging spit and blood everywhere. Its tongue wriggles out, flailing in the air.

Then it stops abruptly. The monster falls on its face and moves no more.

Well, actually it does move once more. With a mighty belch, it releases a big shiny object onto the sand.

The Leaders slowly gather up the remaining Pikmin and count them. There are only 21 purples, 8 reds, 21 yellows, and 4 whites left. The population has gone from 93 (before the battle) to 54.

Olimar: "That's 39 casualties. Four purple, nine yellow, only one white, but a whopping twenty-five red. I suppose this actually went quite well, though. We still have a vast surplus of red Pikmin, so this hardly put a dent in that population. Plus, I have also decided on a name for this dungeon. It shall be called... the Bulblax Kingdom. But, the important thing is that we won. Emperor Bulblax has been dethroned once more!"

Louie: "We did it! We did it! Now, admit it, Captain, you needed me. Without my help, the battle would have been five times as long and much worse."

Olimar: "You did provide a fair amount of necessary assistance. However, you need to work on your reflexes. Our death count would have been much lower had you managed to get your Pikmin out of the way of Emperor Bulblax's falling body after he jumped the first time."

The Red Leader then stops talking, so that he can direct us Pikmin to pick up the body of the monster and the object that fell out of it. I rush to pick up the object and therefore miss what the Blue Leader says. I begin listening again once I have picked up the item. I'll never be able to understand their language, but it's slightly entertaining to hear.

Olimar: "I'm not going to argue with you, Louie. I am definitely not being 'ungrateful'. I was just pointing out where you could do with some improvement."

With the help of a bunch of other Pikmin, the item is safe and sound in the floating vessel.

Pod: "Initiating valuation of recovered treasure. The artifact is worth... 100 Pokos. I hereby dub this object... the Forged Courage. In addition, on analyzing the substance that the Forged Courage is made up of, I have discovered that it is 100 percent fireproof. Olimar. Louie. Stand under me."

Louie: "Another upgrade! Oh, boy!"

The Leaders walk over to us and stand in the light of the floating vessel. Their bodies glow bright white for a second, but then the light fades. Nothing seems different.

Pod: "I have fitted your spacesuits with a Scorch Guard. You can now walk through fire without suffering damage."

Olimar: "Excellent."

Louie: "This is great. We just got the powers to hit harder and move faster from the last cave. Now we don't have to worry about getting burnt either!"

The dead monster arrives and is sucked up as well.

Olimar: "And now to find the exit geyser. Oh, wait a minute. My Treasure Gauge still says there's treasure in the sublevel. Let's go find that instead."

The Red Leader calls all the Pikmin to him.

Olimar: "Come with me Louie. There can't be any more bugs around."

The Red Leader leads us to the far side of the arena, where there is a strange section of the wall that is made up of white roots. He instructs us to tear it down.

All 54 of us swarm the wall, smacking it with our flowers. But, I notice not all of us have flowers. Some of the Pikmin around me are striking the wall with a leaf, which is growing where a flower should. These leaf-bearing Pikmin are working much slower than the rest of us. They must have gotten their flowers knocked off during the battle with the monster. I suddenly feel very sorry for them. Their flowers will never grow back without nutrients from the ground, but I doubt replanting is something that can be done.

The root wall is destroyed within seconds. On the other side lies a huge puddle. I don't know how to swim, so I had better not be told to go in. There are paths around the puddle, however. One leads off to the left, where there is a large geyser spouting water. The other goes to the right and ends in fire geysers. I can see more flames in the darkness across the puddle.

Olimar: -addresses the Pod- "I thought you said that there were no water puddles in this dungeon. That was why I didn't bring any blue Pikmin."

Pod: "My sensors don't reach this far underground. I usually assume that whatever lies above is a good indication of what lies below. I am not at fault."

Olimar: "Louie, I'll be taking the reds. I'm going to see if the treasure can be obtained without the Pikmin having to go through this mess."

Louie: "Why the reds?"

Olimar: "I need to put out the fires. Don't you use your eyes?"

Louie: "Well, yeah... But..."

The Red Leader whistles the eight reds to him and walks off to the right. After a while, he returns without the reds.

Louie: "What happened to your P-"

Olimar: "I threw them up on a ledge." -addresses the Pod- "I'm going to have to walk through some fire to get up to that ledge. Are you sure I won't get hurt?"

Pod: "Of course I'm sure! As a machine, I am incapable of error."

Olimar: -smirks- "Well then, why did you tell me there were no puddles in here?"

Pod: "PARADOX DETECTED. CANNOT COMPUTE. SWITCHing to pooowerrr-saaaaaviiiiing moooooooooooooooode..."

Olimar: "That's better."

The Red Leader walks off again, but this time he wades out into to water. I wonder why he had returned without the reds. Are they dead?

After another period of time, the Red Leader returns again.

Olimar: "Eight Pikmin isn't quite enough to move this treasure. I'll need the four whites."

To my excitement, the Red Leader calls us four white Pikmin. He leads us along the right side of the puddle and to a ledge. I notice the red Pikmin have stopped up all the fire geysers in the area. The Red Leader then throws each of us onto the ledge and walks away. He walks up a little flaming ramp in the distance before coming over to us on the ledge. He calls us again and leads us to a brown pillar, which the red Pikmin (I am relieved to see) are trying to move. We help them lift it and take it back to the floating vessel.

After going back down off the ledge, I notice that the Pikmin next to me is the red Pikmin I spoke to about the Red Leader being absent a while back. The older Pikmin had survived the battle!

"You made it!" I say in delight. "You weren't killed!"

"That's right," it replies. "I see you pulled through too. Good job. I think I'm going to stay in my Seed Hut for the next few days, though. I'm tired of all this battling. I wish I knew when the Leaders are planning to go in another hole, but no one understands their language, only the beeps and whistles they make."

"Yeah. By the way, at one point during the battle, one of my fellow white Pikmin was eaten by the monster. Right after that, the monster exhaled a bit of purple vapor. What was that?"

"You mean you don't know you're poisonous? That was the evaporated blood of your fellow you saw. If any bug is stupid enough to eat you, you'll be able to hurt it from the inside after you die. I've seen the Red Leader feed a bunch of white Pikmin to a monster he was having real difficulty beating. The monster threw up, burning a hole in its own throat. Easy kill."

I widen my eyes in horror. "The Red Leader would never let his Pikmin die on purpose!" I shriek. "That's terrible!"

"I tell it like it is. If he thinks he can save sixty Pikmin by letting fifteen kick the bucket, he'll do it. That little endeavor saved my life, along with many others."

I decide not to respond. That topic was a little too scary to think about.

We arrive at the floating vessel.

Pod: "Initiating valuation of recovered treasure. The artifact is worth... 250 Pokos. I hereby dub this object... the Gyroid Bust."

Olimar: "Now, that's a treasure! 250 Pokos. Not bad, eh Louie?"

Louie: "That's great, Captain. Can we go now?"

Olimar: "Yep. Treasure Gauge is off. Geyser is accessible. Let's go."

Everyone follows the Leaders to the big geyser. The Leaders jump into it and us Pikmin follow suit.

Up and up we go. The water shoots us out into the open air.

What an immense place this is. Soaring into the vast sky, I see a whole gigantic world below, just waiting to be explored. I feel more excited than ever.

Landing back on the ground, the Leaders begin to speak again. While listening, I continue to look around. The area is lush and green. Life is everywhere.

Olimar: "Oh, boy am I tired. What time is it?"

Louie: "About mid-day."

Olimar: "Well, I'm going to the ship to rest. Could you do me the favor of giving the leaf-bearing Pikmin some nectar? Have them search the grass over there." -points- "Put them in their Onions when you're done and call it a day. Remember, the white and purple Pikmin both go in the ship."

Louie: "Yeah, I remember. Oh, wait. One more thing. I just remembered that we never got around to trying out the Ultra-Bitter Spray. You said we'd do that today."

Olimar: "Oh, well. Sorry I forgot. We'll do that tomorrow."

Louie: "Okay. Have a good sleep, Cap."

Olimar: -looks at Louie expectantly-

Louie: "...tain."

Olimar: "That's better. Good night."

The Red Leader walks away and is sucked up by the floating vessel, which has perched itself on top of a big machine thing.

The Blue Leader separates the Pikmin into leaf-bearers and flower-bearers. He then gives us flower-bearers the beeping signal to return to our quarters... but I don't know what that means.

The yellow and red flower-bearers walk to what must be their colored Seed Huts, which are big fruit-like things with flowers on top and three long legs coming down.

"Come with us, whites!" calls the voice of a purple Pikmin. We follow. The purples lead us to the machine on which the floating vessel rests. A nozzle on the machine's right side makes a sucking noise. The purple Pikmin dive into it. Us whites follow.

I now see what is undoubtedly the machine's storage room. Because its interior does not look like that of a machine, I shall refer to it from now on as the storage vessel.

I am now face-to-face with a bunch more purple and white Pikmin.

They all greet us newcomers by telling us about where we are and how going in and out of this place works. I am relieved that everything is being explained.

When it's over, I take a better look around the place. The Leaders, as I have gathered, are collectors, but of what I can't really say. The objects we brought to the floating vessel today are all here, plus many others that must have been collected on days past. Bug bodies also litter the place. The whole room smells like fertile soil.

It's the perfect place for a good night's rest.

NOTE TO THE READER: Well, how do you like it so far? This is my second work of fiction. It will span this Pikmin's entire life, from its planting to its inevitable death. I had to start this story slow, but it will pick up. However, these chapters (or "days") are much longer than the chapters in my previous work, so don't expect as recent updates. And, yes, I know that a lot of things in the Bulblax battle aren't possible in the game, but you have to admit it made for an interesting fight. I'm going to make the Pikmin world a bit more realistic than it was in the games, so hang on tight; you're in for a wild ride.

NOTE TO ALL THOSE OF YOU WHO OWN A PIKMIN 2 STRATEGY GUIDE: I wouldn't be able to be writing this fan fic without one. I am pleased to say that it has allowed me to obtain every single treasure in the game and beat Challenge Mode with all pink flowers. But, anyway, if you have the guide, use it to follow along while you read this story. That will show you how well it follows the game. The beginning of this story takes place in the Bulblax Kingdom, Sublevel 3.