Interlude Alpha

"My word! Someone! Take care of this riff-raff!" An aging, finely-dressed woman was looking to her side, scowling downward at a somewhat dirty-looking Eevee helplessly pawing at the draping tablecloth, with an irrepressible look of hunger in its eyes. A nearby waiter heard the call and rushed to her side, hands clasped and attentive. "May I help you, miss?" "Yes, Garçon, would you kindly escort this filthy thing out of my personal space?" Her look of disgust radiated throughout the room and required no pointing out. "As you wish, milady. Please continue to partake of our services." Strapping on a glove, the waiter grabs the Eevee by the scruff and calmly walks out of the room. "Heavens... I hope something like that never happens to you, Vix!" She gently patted her own Eevee in her arms, pampered and dressed in small accessories. Vix looked up at her owner with curiosity.

Outside the dining room, the previously mentioned waiter walked down what seemed like endless amounts of hallways until coming to a large metal door. Grabbing a key ring filled with keys from his pocket, he selected one and unlocked the metal door. It opened with an audible squeal, the room inside having only the illumination of the hallway lighting. In just that moment there were many sounds coming from the room now, and the waiter turned the lights on. All sorts of Pokémon were in cages, bindings, and other tools to imprison and pacify them. The Eevee looked around at the hopeless, the angry, and the calm that have come to terms with the situation. He knew what was coming, but didn't have the strength to struggle, he was too much in need of food. Silently and professionally, the waiter walked to the center of the room and turned to his left. He kneeled down and unlocked a small metal-barred cage that was against the wall, on the floor. Thrown into the cage and the cage door locked behind him, the Eevee did not bother to look back. All he could do now is rest. The room became dark once again, and the metal door leading outside shut with an audible, deafening sound of hopelessness.

A half hour has passed. During this time, the various owners of the Pokémon brought along on the cruise leave them to mingle on their own whilst they participate in human-only activities. As most Pokémon owned by these people are presented to them as eggs, they know their owners from birth and often take in such common traits as them, the wealthy and socially refined. One of them was different, however. An Eevee named Vix was in a small group consisting of an Absol, Delcatty, and Ninetales. All of them were wearing objects that any commoner, whether human or Pokémon would simply laugh at. They often simply excuse it as a lower-class commonality of a nonchalant upbringing.

Vix was trying her best to stay attentive, as not to be rude. "Yes, that is quite wonderful. I myself, albeit a new face, have already obtained several first place ribbons of my class..." The four Pokémon in this group were owned by the biggest celebrities aboard the cruise ship, and as a result can chat easily of their beauteous accomplishments in the eyes of the envious. The Eevee, Vix, however, has never been interested in all of this. She listens to her owner since she is her caretaker and believes she knows best, but such a mindset has been grating on her nerves as of late. Her dreams of being free may just be within her grasp.

She excused herself from the conversation to find an appetizer, at least that's what they were told. What she was really wanting to do was explore the ship. She's been on many cruises before, but she never was able to go where she wanted. That would change. While a local waiter was bending down to take finished dishes, Vix extricated the keyring he was wearing outside of his pocket, and hid it inside her torso garment. She walked calmly out of the room, and without sparing a glance as she would provoke suspicion.

Vix could go just about anywhere on the ship, now. Where would she start? She remembered the Eevee that was taken away by one of the waiters earlier. She felt sorry for him, as she does for most of the unfortunate. He probably found his way on board following some food stores being carried on, and became stranded. She wondered if he had a family... She decided to try and find out where he went, if he wasn't tossed overboard... Luckily his stench was still traceable in the air, although fading. Starting down the hall and taking a left, she began the long walk to the room of no return.

Along the way she met several people in the halls. Many of them recognized her, Vix having recently won the First Place Prestigious Award of Beauty, Petit Class, twice over. They always stood aside to give her plenty of room to walk, worried that their very presence may ruffle her perfect fur coat. Even once one bystander wanted to take a picture of her, and she didn't mind. These kinds of settings always gave her an uncomfortable feeling, but she always humors them by showing the expression of selfish importance.

After a few more hallways, she reaches the downward stairs that the people on this deck avoid. Looking up at the sign, she reads, "To Lower Class Deck..." Vix remembered that she was told by her peers that the lower classes were rude, selfish, and overall, stupid. Vix has, at times, gone out of her way to look up news articles and various stories about them, however. She's always wanted to try and meet them. They make up most of the world, so they have to mean something, right?

Vix began her descent down the stairs, but remembered for a moment that she was in expensive, fanciful award-winning garb. No one would treat her as she would want to if she went down there looking like this. She might regret it in the future, but this was to save an innocent life. Setting the keys aside, she began to strip off all of her accessories for the first time in her life. Spotting a nearby small waste receptacle, she walks over, holds her belongings above it for a moment, hesitating. However, ultimately, she looks away and lets go of her beautiful things. Last but not least, she rubs her paws over herself diligently to muss her perfect fur. She looks upon herself but thinks it's not quite enough. Hesitating once again, she brings herself to roll on the carpet floor, wiggling every which way long enough to make her satisfied. Vix felt the strange sensational mixture of anxiety and excitement as she slowly walked down the steps to the lower deck, with the key ring held in her mouth.

Coming to a stop at the very last step, Vix noticed that there were many more people walking about. It makes sense, really. There are more of them, after all. Bustling around, minding their own business, she does recognize some niceties that were ignored. Hopping off the last step, she walks into the hallway, looking around, dodging the large and unyielding steps of the humans. They would pay no attention to such a ragged-looking and ordinary Eevee. Remembering what she was curious about, she sniffs around for the faint scent of the impoverished Eevee from before.

Vix walked down a few more hallways, ignoring the temptation of curiosity as she continuously reminds herself that someone is in need of help. She did, however, partake of the kindness of one individual that offered her a small piece of steak. Never having tried it before, she enjoyed its dry yet juicy, chewy taste. She will remember that kind of meat for the rest of her life. Once again resisting the enormous temptation put before her thanks to all the years of doing so, she continued down several more hallways, hoping that in the future that she will be able to taste it again.

Following the scent more, she realized that she was wandering into a restricted area. Eluding the notice of several waiters and janitors, she reaches the end of the scent at an ominous metal door around a corner. Dropping the keys and looking at them again, there were five keys to use. She didn't want to waste time, so she played it smart. Hiding behind a nearby open doorway at an angle where she could see a key being used on the door, she waited for what seemed like an eternity until she saw someone stop in front of the metal door. There was a Smeargle handcuffed, muzzled, and leashed, being dragged around by a human. How barbaric, she thought. Vix made sure to take a good look at the key used. When the door opened, she heard the cries of many other Pokémon, those of pleading, threats, and hunger. For a moment she stepped out of the doorway, but she was smarter than that. The human would be back outside and going on with his routine, as assumed.

After waiting for a few more minutes, and checking down the hallway around the corner, she deemed it safe. She dropped the keys and recognized the key that was used before, one with a solid black rubber marking. An organization as sophisticated as a crew of a ship would surely organize all of their keys in the same way. She looked up at the thick doorknob, knowing that the height of the doorknob was around twice her own. Thinking to herself, Vix takes the proper key in her paws, and prepares to jump. 'Time to use those accuracy skills you used to win the first place ribbon for the Test of Skill, Petit Class, Vix...' Holding the key outward from her chest turned in the proper direction so it would fit, she jumps straight upward, and during the time it seemed like she was floating, she thrust the key straight into the doorknob and turned in such a swift motion. Who would have thought that such an ability could have use in the real world?

Jumping up again onto the doorknob, she puts forth all her tiny strength and weight into turning the doorknob, then holding it and pushing the door inward. After a couple minutes, it finally opened slightly enough to push the door open. She felt many eyes upon her in the darkness. Looking on the wall for a light switch, she jumps and flips it.

Frozen in horror, she looks on at all of the Pokémon around her. Cages, constraints, anything to keep them from using their abilities to escape. Many of them perked up at the sight of seeing a Pokémon coming out of the hallway, hoping to finally find their escape. Vix, having gotten the attention of everyone in the room, looks around at all of the sad faces. Then she starts thinking. After a moment, she calls attention to herself.

"Everyone! I am deeply moved by your predicament, and I assure you I will assist you in any way I can!" Many of them smiled and cheered her on, and some with merely a look of surprise with how well such a small Eevee could speak. She notices a Machop in one of the corners, roped up tight with arms behind its back and legs tied together. She runs over to the Machop and begins to bite at the ropes, first at the legs, then the Machop turns around so she could reach the arms. "Thank you so much!" He stood up and stretched and flexed his muscles. Vix spoke again. "Could you take the keys and set everyone free? I believe you will be able to do so with the most haste, as you have thumbs." Once again, surprise towards her speech. "Yeah...I'll do it!" He quickly took the key out of the doorknob, and closed the door as not to arouse suspicion.

When the Machop came to a small cage on the floor with a brown blob in it, Vix realized it was the Eevee from before. He looked completely helpless laying there, and with a closer look compared to last time, severely malnourished. As the Machop unlocked the cage, Vix began to say, "It's because of him...that I'm here now. I had seen him earlier in the day, begging for the smallest scrap of food. He was taken away, and I followed his scent here." Many of the Pokémon around felt instant gratitude towards the poor Eevee that seemed to not want to exit his cage, but merely lie there. Vix felt even more sorry for him up close. "I know that everyone wants to be free... However, I am sure that no one will be if you leave him be..." A Kirlia in the room spoke up after an uncomfortable silence. "I'll grab some food and drink for him."

After a few minutes, the Kirlia returned, stunning everyone with her quickness. "I know, surprised? I'm well trained in espionage, you know!" Carrying a small plate of meat and choice fruit, she placed it on the ground for the hungered Eevee, now out of his cage. Smelling the delicious food perked him up, and he immediately walked over to begin eating vigorously. After swallowing once, he said "Thank you..." to anyone that stayed behind to care for him. When he was done eating and licking the last tastes from the plate, he looked over at Vix. "And thank you even more, for being so kind... If it wasn't for your kind heart, all of us never would have escaped. And I would have probably starved to death..." Vix sighed in relief, and spoke. "Come, now... I will take care of you."

Later, in the Poké-Play area of the lower class deck, Vix and her newest friend play around as any average young Pokémon out there. "Oh, I apologize for my lack of class! My name is Vix, two-time winner of-- Oh, nothing." She stopped, thinking a non-specific and proudless introduction is what the lower class does. He shrugged it off and responded. "My name's Laconium, the honor is justly mine." He smiled. "There's no need to be shy. At first I thought it was my eyes playing tricks on me, but after hearing your name, it's definitely affirmed that you are the up-and-coming Beautiful Vix, first place winner of various pageants and competitions..." Vix found herself blushing at his comment. She thought to herself. When was the last time she blushed?

Laconium spoke again. "You camoflauged yourself well, at least by sight. However, I can definitely smell, or not smell, the usual odor of an Eevee." Vix forgot that she was perfumed often, and responded. "Yes, you are right... I suppose I am simply far too accustomed to my own applied scents." He chuckled. "That's another tell; the way you speak, it's way too sophisticated. Anyone that bothers to look closer could spot you a mile away!" She felt herself warm in the face again. "Oh... I apologize." He shook his head and smiled. "It's not as if you want to be a working-class citizen, don't worry about it. Unless that's the truth?" She looked away in thought. Maybe she did want to be a Combee, rather than a Vespiquen. "Perhaps..." Once again, he spoke so confidently. "Well then, stick close to me, and I'll show you how it all works!" She smiled serenely and moved closer to him. He backed up a little, but stopped when she gave him a little kiss on the nose. "Er, I... Uh..." Another thing she recognizes of the lower classes, not enough straightforwardness. She was feeling attracted to him, so what else would she do?

The two walked towards the buffet table of the play area. Taking small take-home bags and stuffing them full of various food items, including fruits, block candy, and dried meat, the two new-found friends walk side-by-side out of the play area and out to the fresh air of the outside, the sky becoming a deep red-orange. Vix and Laconium will remember this fateful day for the rest of their lives...


Espy was laying on her bed, deep in thought, while Umby came into their cave with the fruit dinner for the day, and set it down in the usual place. The sky outside was turning a deep red-orange. She rolled over on her side and looked at Umby. "What're you thinking about, Espy?" She smiled. "Oh, nothing, just in how we met... Laconium." He couldn't help but smirk at the sound of that name. Umby knew that he left behind everything for a reason, but before then, times were bliss. He walked over to Espy, and she gave him a kiss on the nose.