I've been planning to get back to this story for ages. But when I went back and read through it, I was disappointed in myself and my writing style. So I've spent some time redoing the current chapters - streamlining them, changing some minor things, generally making something I'm more proud of. Enjoy. :3
It was too soon.
The Eon pack sat in a loose semicircle around a pregnant Flareon. Snow still dusted the earth, the sun hiding behind the clouds as if to say he wanted no part in the unfolding tragedy.
It was too soon for her to be in labor, and all present knew it. The winter had been longer than usual - normally these lands were budding green at this time of year - but that didn't change the fact. She should not have gone into labor for at least another month.
Bad enough for an ordinary Flareon. Worse for this one, thin and sickly as she was - as she had always been, even before evolution. None in the pack had any hope for her or for her as-yet-unborn kit.
She was attended by the pack's Vaporeon shaman and her two apprentices, one of which turned to her teacher with a frown.
"We've done all we can - I don't think she's gonna make it."
"No one does, Badu; all we can do is try to save her kit. Ah -"
The sound of the Flareon's death rattle was accompanied and nearly eclipsed by the wail of a newborn. Badu went right to the kit, ignoring the pack's traditional death-howl.
The shaman whirled from the dead mother as she heard Badu's gasp.
"La'Shanke, look at this kit!"
La'Shanke came to stand next to her. She - along with much of the rest of the pack, who had also heard Badu's shout - stared at the young Eevee kit.
The newborn Eevee's fur, still wet, was silver.
Whispers broke out among the assembled as they regarded the silver Eevee. It was rare enough to see unusually colored Pokemon - to have one in the pack was rarer! And dangerous, for if humans ever saw her…
"What's goin' on?" A youngish Jolteon pushed her way to La'Shanke's side, followed closely by a toddling Eevee. She took in the silver fur. "Oh."
"Now what? This will be dangerous for the pack!" someone called out. "Humans will try to capture her and in turn us!"
The Jolteon who had pushed through turned towards the voice. "And what do you propose? That we leave her here to freeze?"
Several of the pack shifted uncomfortably. A voice rang out.
"Demi is right, we cannot leave one of our own out here."
The pack moved aside as a big Flareon came through. Even without his size, the obvious look of responsibility and confidence marked him as the leader. He took in the silver Eevee and nodded sagely. "That is, if enough of us present are willing to look after her."
Demi immediately stepped forward. "I'll look after her! She'll be the sister to my little Mahk, like my own kit." She was not alone, as several of the younger generation spoke up in her favor.
"So be it," the leader, Rama, said firmly, silencing the outcries. "Demi, you are charged with her care. Let us give the old one a proper burial and move on." His words were tantamount to commands, and he brooked no arguments from anyone. Demi immediately seized the squalling kit by the scruff in a very catlike manner and hauled her off for a good washing. Her own kit, almost a year old himself, followed, curiously eyeing the silver bundle of fur.
"Mama? What's wrong with her fur?" he asked. "It's not like mine or yours at all."
"No, it isn't," Demi acknowledged. "To be honest, I'm not really sure why her fur is this strange color."
"Oh." Mahk looked at his new foster sister. "What's her name?"
"I haven't decided yet. I'm sure we'll think of something," she assured him, giving him a quick lick.
"You have time," came La'Shanke's voice. The older Vaporeon came to sit beside her young friend. She examined the now-quiet newborn. "It was brave of you to take her on."
"La'Shanke, I can see why the others were worried, but to leave a newborn out in the cold is like cold-blooded murder."
La'Shanke nodded. "But you do know that she may be forced to leave later? When she's old enough? Assuming she even makes it that far?"
"I hope not. At least not until she evolves." Demi watched as several Flareons burned away the snow and softened enough earth for the others to dig a grave.
"I get the feeling that's what Rama has in mind." La'Shanke glanced over at Mahk. "And what do you think, little one?"
"About what?" Mahk was highly intelligent for his age.
"About this new sister."
"Oh." Mahk looked at the silver-furred ball curled up against his mother. "Well, I guess it's okay. She's kinda small, isn't she?"
"It's the nature of newborns to be small. She'll grow."
Mahk examined the kit nearly as closely as La'Shanke had. The kit's eyes were closed - they wouldn't open for some time yet - but she turned her little face in his direction as though feeling his eyes on her. Mahk shrugged after a minute or so.
"I think it'll be fun to have a sister to play with. After she gets big, anyway."
La'Shanke smiled. "Give her a little time - by midsummer she'll want to play and learn how to talk to you."
"If you say so." Mahk moved closer to his mother and the silver ball of fluff.
La'Shanke twisted her head around until her dark eyes were focused right on Mahk's face.
"The other kits are going to pick on her, because she looks different. Will you look after her? She's your sister now."
Mahk stared at La'Shanke. "Well, I guess so, but -" He couldn't put what he wanted to say in words. The Vaporeon shaman seemed satisfied with his answer anyway.
A bark made them look up. The burial finished, Rama was calling the pack back to their interrupted journey. Demi picked the silver kit up by the scruff and started out, La'Shanke beside her and Mahk trotting along on her other side.
La'Shanke paused by the grave. Her aging eyes fixed on a space just above the mound of earth. As a shaman, it was her duty to communicate with the four spirits that governed the Eons.
The problem was, she had never seen the spirit standing over the grave before.
"She will prosper," it said in a quiet voice.
"If you say so, honored one." La'Shanke inclined her head respectfully.
The spirit said nothing else, slowly vanishing from sight. La'Shanke remained where she was for several more heartbeats, then whirled and dogtrotted after the pack.
Hopefully this is a change for the better. Nightling out.