Disclaimer: Pokemon and all related characters are the property of Tajiri Satoshi.

Timeline: "Perish Song" takes place in my particular fic-verse. This particular fic fits into the time period of, and is written to follow along with, the Metal generation of games.

Perish Song

Renn Ireigh

And so here I stand again. Alone. Always alone, saving the company of the six who have walked beside me these long four years, the six who loyally take hits meant for me, who defend me against the hell of this world.

I suppose it's fair to say that I'm bitter.

But it's a bittersweetness that I feel, because this almost-downfall of mine was paved with stones of triumph. My six companions and I- we brought down Team Rocket. Alone. We defeated the Kanto gym leaders. Alone. We defeated the Elite Four. Alone. We triumphed over our lifelong rival, becoming the champions of this world. Alone.

When I look at what we have done together, it's hard for me to say that I regret having lived. But when I look at where we are, suddenly- too suddenly- it becomes easy.

I won't blame the Professor. It was not his fault that I am imprisoned here, a short-haired Rapunzel in a windowless tower of rock and water. It was a right that I won: a Champion's privilege. An honor. By admitting me, the Professor did only what he thought best.

It has taken me years to accept this: that he had only the best in mind for me.

I wonder if they're worried about me, back in Pallet Town. I wonder if they know where I am. What happened to me. I wonder if they wonder why I haven't come home- if they've given me up for dead.

It might be easier if they have.

Some days I feel that I have given myself up for dead.

Lance warned me, before I came here. He told me of the dangers. I don't remember whether I was stupid, or arrogant, or careless not to listen to him. Or maybe I did listen to him, and this was just an accident, just meant to be… "There are terrors and wonders in your future," Sabrina said when we met in the station, before I left on the Magnet Train for Johto. "Terrible wonders. Be careful, Red." Did she know what would happen?

Wonders, yes. I have seen wonders here- have laughed as loyal Blastoise and I swam together, straight up waterfalls. I have watched, rapt, as families of Sneasel bring their young to see the gentle giant Snorlax, who allows kittens to bounce on his immense pillowy stomach. There are wonders all around me, of days when Charizard lights this cavern with the near-natural glow of a Sunny Day and everything around us stops, to look up at our almost-sun. These are the days that Venusaur stands close to Charizard, petals fully unfurled, photosynthesizing as quickly as he can, healing himself of the wilt caused by days spent in darkness. The speed of growth is amazing; I have seen its miracle as the crippled Zubat who lives in the lowest chamber by the sea evolved to Golbat, and evolved again as he stood on the shoulders of his comrades. I wished, then, that I could have spoken to the Professor one more time, and told him about this new phenomenon, this evolution triggered by love and loyalty. But perhaps he knows. Perhaps this is not new. Perhaps I have been here for longer than I thought.

And yes- it is fair to say that there have been terrors here. The Misdreavus who dance around us in the darkness, shrieking their Perish Songs, reducing even steadfast Snorlax and sensible Espeon to shivers. The nights- I suppose they're nights; I've lost all track of time- when Pikachu and I cower together in the back of this prison-chamber as the Pupitar rampage in their bloody evolution ceremony, slashing each other open to allow the Tyranitar inside to emerge. Freshly-evolved Tyranitar are vicious- I have seen them tear each other apart in their lust for a taste of blood- any blood will do.

I know.

I look over at Blastoise now, loyal Blastoise who threw himself in front of a Tyranitar for me. Blastoise who is now crippled, one of his mighty legs nearly severed at the knee. When he walks now, he drags this limb behind him, and when he swims, it is a lopsided limping gait. And Espeon, who stood her ground hissing and Psywaving in vain, Espeon who is missing one ear and her forked tail. And brave Charizard, half-missing one wing. Their wounds, like mine, have healed jaggedly, with scrapes where teeth dug into flesh. There are some things that potions cannot cure.

Pikachu leaps onto my shoulder and I wince, because he has jolted my head and neck sideways and the impact ripped at my scars. His ears lower and flatten, and he nuzzles my cheek with his nose. I lift him off of my shoulder and into my arms, scratching him on the poll of his head, and he relaxes, knowing forgiveness. We have had to learn to talk this way.

We have had to learn so many things, the seven of us, in order to survive here.

Pikachu nuzzles me again, this time rubbing the chilly dampness of his nose against the scar that Tyranitar's mighty claw left against my throat. "Piiiii," my partner murmurs, and I understand him. He is mourning: mourning not only for our imprisonment, but also for me. For the loss of my voice. He is mourning because when he Thunderbolted my heart back into life he could not save all of me. A part of my brain died that night, when the Misdreavus screamed their Perish Song and the Pupitar killed themselves to evolve.

And so we are here, imprisoned in the tallest spire of Mt. Silver. Charizard cannot fly us out on broken wings; Blastoise cannot swim through waterfalls dragging his leg. And I- I cannot walk on water.

Ah- you. You have come again as you have come before, creeping closer every time. It's all right. Come here, Quagsire, and do not be afraid; do not run from me as you have before. I am broken now. I can't attack you. Yes, Quagsire, come. This is my story. Will you tell it to your brethren, to tell to theirs? Will you spread the word? Will you tell this tale again and again, until all of your Quagsire brothers know- until all of their Wooper children know- until all of the seas and the caves know? Until some young trainer, eagerly running the routes of this world, partners one of you and is told? Until that trainer tells another, and another, and another, and finally someday, years in the future, someone comes in search of the Kanto Champions to battle us, and defeat us, and send us whited-out in half-death to the Pokemon Center at the foot of this mountain?

Oh, Quagsire- do not tremble. We are alone here. No one will hurt you. Do not flee in fear. Quagsire, will you tell this story that I have told you through hand gestures and pictures in the dirt and the pleading of my eyes, because the Tyranitar from whom you hide have killed the part of my brain responsible for speech? Quagsire, will you tell it?

Quagsire squelches one step closer and hoots softly in my ear, then darts away into his waters. And as the lake of Mt. Silver calms its ripples and the unearthly screeching of the Misdreavus's Perish Song begins for the night, I turn to the partners who have accompanied me through triumph and despair, to what has seemed like infinity and beyond. I turn to them, and we say our good nights in hootings and burnings and nudges, and retreat to the back of this chamber to sleep a peaceless sleep.