Sorry guys, this and Butterfly Wings are just more fun to write.

Saffron wasn't an option yet.

The vulpix's tail had split lengthwise. The right half had split again, unevenly, so that on that side there was one thin tail and one thicker one that twitched oddly as two separate spinal cords sent differing messages to two different sets of muscles. The one on the left was splitting more in more egalitarian fashion, with three tips each about as long as each other. Its breath was already heated, a shimmer in the air that turned dry brown grass to drier black. It would be able to fight by Saffron, but not well. It was likely the sandshrew might simply not fight, and both the nidoran and bellsprout were poison types, and thus easily confused. Saffron was generally the last gym faced. It was against their kin, and so puppeting and shielding would not have been fair. The point was not, after all, to prove they were stronger. They knew they were stronger.

No, the next place would be Celadon. The vulpix would be capable enough by that point, enough to balance out the sandshrew's weakness, and poison would resist poison.

The feel of the nidoran's mind had altered, no longer fitting properly to the size and shape of its body. It was bad tempered and kept pausing to scrape its sides against rocks. It felt like its body no longer fit within its skin. Nonsense, of course. It wasn't an insect or snake, its skin was its body, but Deus' attempts to explain this only met with further irritability.

\\Blocking!\\ it yelled at him. \\Bigger! Not me! Innaway!\\

"You will get bigger when you get bigger," said Deus, who did not evolve, without much sympathy. "You will not get bigger by rubbing a hole in your side."

\\Not side! Inside side!\\

Deus numbed it.

\\Trick!\\ it announced after a few seconds.

Deus marched it away from the tree, which by this point had a modest hole made in its bark. Nidoran hide was designed to be tough enough to take such abuse. "It is bad to destroy things," he chided. He considered and then fixed the tree. "You cannot do this so you should not have done that," he explained, then grabbed the nidoran and marched it away from the other tree it had been advancing toward.

It said something that was not fascist but would certainly, after a great deal of intellectual and political advancement on its part, have formed the root of that word, and quite possibly a related swear.

Deus returned it to its pokeball.

Two days later he came upon a pair of children, which meant, of course, two people who were very nearly not children.

"My name is Deus," he said.

"Lakki," said the one on the right, and "Tsar," said the one on the left. Tsar was a bit smaller and must have been several months younger. Both their minds were like fluff wrapped in fine steel netting - not the full control of an adult, yet, but nearly so. Each had seven pokeballs and the taller wore a metal bracelet around his right hand.

The two traded off battling. Tsar went first, picking a gloom. Deus, thinking of the upcoming fight in Celadon, picked the bellsprout.

It did well, considering. The gloom wanted to use poisons and distance attacks, and the bellsprout was respectively immune and fast moving. It managed to slice the gloom badly before one good slam knocked it out. Deus tried the vulpix next. It was too young to properly understand commands, but it was physically capable of fighting now, and he wove it around the gloom's attacks, jumping about with its six new tails flexing to shift its balance. It managed a number of shallow burns before being caught in a paralyzing yellow cloud of dust, and falling stiffly over. He fixed it and sent out the nidoran, whose paws had scarcely finished forming before it charged.

It snorted and stamped angrily in the few moments before Lakki sent out his pokemon, a primeape, then barreled heedlessly forward again. The primeape blocked it with its stubby hands, sliding back slightly then shoving it back hard. The nidoran's feet left the ground and it tilted just slightly, so that it ended up landing on its side only to spring up again, cracks appearing across its body and light spilling out.

It glowed.

It grew.

It let out a triumphant rumble and charged again.

The blow this time pushed the primeape further, pinning it against a tree and clearly winding it. Then it punched upward into the nidorino's jaw. It reeled back, stumbled, and slumped down, shaking its head back and forth.

It was insufferable later, when he let it out again. \\Inside side outside now,\\ it said smugly. \\Fake skin's gone.\\

Deus could see clearly the patches of dirt and newer, clean fur making a checkered effect across its body. "It is not, you just have more now."

\\Is gone,\\ the nidorino insisted. \\Stupid t'not know that.\\