I do not own Pokemon or the characters' species, but I own the characters.

Hive Mind

A faint buzzing sound accompanied the creature as it moved between the trees, wandering aimlessly. It looked around with its multifaceted eyes, alert for dangers. Its arms were slack at its sides, its orange claws hanging limply. It was confident that nothing could harm it.

The creature alighted on the ground, resting its bell-shaped bottom section on a layer of dead leaves. The transparent wings on its back stopped their movement, and the buzzing ceased as a result. It looked around at its surroundings one more time, then closed its eyes and sighed.

There's absolutely nothing out here. Where are you going, anyway? Leah muttered to herself in her mind. She opened one eye, just to make sure she was right, then closed it again and resumed her internal berating. Nowhere, that's where you're going. No colony will accept you, you arrogant prick. How could you be so stupid…!

There was a rustling sound from behind her. She opened her eyes again and twisted her head to look back, straining to pick out what had made the sound. There was nothing there. She paused, then dismissed it and turned her head back forward, to resume her pity-party.

"What are you doing here, Vespiquen?"

Leah froze at the sound of the voice; it was both threatening, and very, very close by. In fact, it came from the figure that was standing right in front of her, holding a sharp edge to her throat. She slowly lifted her gaze, taking in the figure's green, insect-like appearance, and stopping at its face, with its hard black eyes. She blinked. "Well, you see, I was… looking for something to eat? Why do you want to know?"

The figure, which she had identified as a Scyther, stared at her. "This is my territory, and you're trespassing on it."

Leah became angry. "Well, sorry, how was I supposed to know?! You could at least mark it or something. It all looks the same to me."

He pointed with one scythe. She turned her gaze to follow it, and saw that he was indicating a certain tree, which had in its bark several deep scratches. They made a symbol that she recognized as being the one Scyther used to mark their territories. Looking around, now, she saw that several other trees were also marked with the same symbol.

She turned back to the Scyther, looking up at his eyes. There was no mercy there. She giggled nervously. "Oops, sorry, I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere…"

"You're lying," he said. "Vespiquen never go in search of food themselves, they send Combee to do it for them. I don't know what you're doing, but…" he pressed his scythe into her throat, making her wince, "…you're not going to be doing it in my territory."

"…Um, okay, so I'll just turn around and go back…?"

He shook his head. "You're a threat, so I can't let you go free."

She smiled weakly. "Is this something you do often? Kill random passers-by?"

He paused in surprise, taken aback by the comment. "…No, not usually… Not unless they're a threat to me…"

Leah sighed. "Well, I maintain that I'm innocent, but go ahead, kill me if you want to… Sorry to bother you."

The Scyther blinked in bewilderment. He let up with his scythe, lowering it slightly in his confusion. "…Wait, you want me to…"

As soon as his scythe lowered, the red gem on Leah's forehead flashed, and a beam of light burst from it. The beam hit the Scyther right in the middle of his chest, sending him flying backwards. He crashed into a tree, splintering it, and then fell to the ground, stunned.

Leah immediately reengaged her wings, lifting into the air. She strained her body, painfully aware of how slow she was due to her weight. Hurry, hurry!

The Scyther quickly recovered, shaking his head to dispel the stars. With a growl, he jumped to his feet and launched after Leah. She saw and heard him coming, and, twisting around to meet him, fired a black glob from her mouth. He sidestepped it easily. She cursed under her breath as the next moment pain slashed through her abdomen, and she was sent flying.

She managed to right herself in midair. Glancing down, she saw that she was bleeding from a gash in her abdomen, although it wasn't major. She grunted at the pain and looked up just in time to duck as the Scyther flew overhead. Spinning around to face him, her gem glowed again, spewing another beam of light.

The Scyther nimbly dodged out of the way of the beam, and it was left to diffuse harmlessly into the ground. Leah immediately began to gather energy for another shot, but then the Scyther was slashing at her again. She lost her concentration and fell to the ground, with another slash across her chest now.

The Scyther was on her in an instant, performing a flurry of slashes with his twin scythes. Leah closed her eyes and braced herself against the pain as new wounds were opened all over her body, unable to move or do anything except resolutely keep herself from screaming. I won't give him that satisfaction…!

After several moments, the blows slowed, and then stopped altogether. Leah opened her eyes, confused. "…W-what?" she mumbled. Turning her head to one side, she saw through a film of tears the Scyther standing next to her, panting heavily.

He fell to his knees, stabbing his scythes into the ground to support himself. "You tired… me out," he said between breaths.

She coughed, then regretted it as pain immediately wracked her entire body. She couldn't lift her head to see, but she knew that she was covered in her own blood. "…You're… not bad… yourself…" she managed to say.

He looked at her. "You've got some skill, too…"

"Th-thanks…" Leah muttered.

Once he'd caught his breath, he stood up again. He positioned a scythe above her for the final blow. Looking down at her, he asked quietly, "Any last words?"

She decided to try one more time. "L-listen, I-I think this… is a… a misunderstanding… I-I swear, I wasn't d-doing anything wrong… P-please…" She stared up at him hopefully.

He hesitated.

She seized on that chance. "I w-was sent away from my… my c-colony, see… I-I was just w-w-wandering around here… trying to… to survive… I-I'm s-sorry…"

He blinked and seemed to think for a moment longer, then he withdrew his scythe. Sighing, he said, "Can you prove it?"

She paused, trying to concentrate. "U-um, no… I can't… But, w-why would I… tressp-pass here if… if I knew you w-were here? I-I wasn't l-looking for a fight…"

He deliberated for a few more moments, then nodded. "Fair enough. Just leave, and you can live."

Leah struggled to move, but couldn't. "H-help…?"

He blinked. "…Fine." Then he vanished between the trees.

Leah gave a cry of surprise and rage. "What…?! C-come back!"

He didn't reappear. She grimaced and closed her eyes, shuddering in pain. That traitorous slime, he left me here to die! After he said he would let me live, too! What kind of jerk does something like that, especially after just attacking me for no reason…!

She was still fuming when a rustle of dry leaves interrupted her thoughts. Opening her eyes, she glared at the general direction of the noise, and was surprised to see that the Scyther was back. Clenched in his teeth was a branch full of small yellow fruits. He dropped the branch onto the ground. "Here," he said.

She watched wordlessly as he grabbed one of the fruits in his mouth, breaking it off of the branch, and then knelt over her. He carefully lowered his head until it hovered just above her face.

With a huge effort, Leah managed to barely lift her head until her mouth touched the fruit. She bit into it, letting the juices run into her mouth, and the Scyther let go, backing away. She let her head fall back to the ground, paying no attention to him. Instead she focused on slowly chewing and, with difficulty, swallowing the fruit.

She immediately began to feel better, the pain lessening slightly due to the medicinal effects of the fruit. Juice running out of her mouth, she looked up at the Scyther. "Thank you…"

He nodded, though he was still watching her warily. "I'm… sorry. I shouldn't have been so hasty." He tore another fruit off the branch with his teeth.

She flinched slightly as he bit into it and sprinkled the juice onto her ruined and bleeding body. "That's… It's fine… No harm done… right?" The juice stung at first, but then it quickly numbed the wounds, which she was grateful for.

He spat the fruit out once it was spent. "I guess. What's your name? Mine is Arnan."

Leah was surprised by the question. "Uh… It's Leah," she answered.

"Well, then, why are you here? You said you were sent away from your colony. Why?" Arnan picked up another berry and repeated the process.

While he did that, Leah explained, "See, in every colony, there can only be one Vespiquen… Well, there was already one in my colony, but I evolved anyway."

He dropped the now-dry berry and looked at her. "And they sent you away because of that?"

"Yep. It was considered a challenge to the queen's authority, and they didn't take very kindly to that…"

"Well, then, why did you do it?"

She scowled. "I was about to be eaten by a Pinsir. If I wanted to survive, I had to."

"Oh…" Arnan took another fruit and lowered it to her mouth, and she accepted it, devouring it hungrily. After he'd given her the fruit, Arnan said, "It looks like we have something in common, then…"

She glanced at him in bewilderment as she swallowed the last of her meal. "How so?"

He sighed. "I used to belong to a group, too, a swarm of Scyther. I was the leader, actually. I barely defeated the former leader. But not too long after that, I lost to someone else, and I was kicked out…"

"Oh." Leah studied him more closely, realizing that he was actually quite young. It was impressive that he could become a swarm leader at his age. He's not bad-looking, either, she found herself thinking. Blushing just slightly, she said, "Well, that makes me feel a whole lot better to know I was beaten by a reject…"

He pretended to be offended. "Thanks a lot."

"Still, you were pretty good," she admitted. "You're very strong."

"It's too bad I can't say the same about you," he said with a slight grin, the first display of emotion he'd given so far.

She blinked, then became indignant. "Hey, it's hardly my fault I'm so slow! If I were half as fast as you I'd have destroyed you."

His grin became more pronounced. "Probably. Okay, point taken, I'm sorry."

"You'd better be."

"I notice you're feeling better," he said casually. "It seems you're hard to keep down."

"…Huh." Leah was indeed feeling much stronger. She realized that her wounds had stopped bleeding, thanks to the fruit that Arnan had given her. "Yeah, I'm mostly better now… I guess you want me to leave now?"

He paused, then nodded. "That would be best."

"Okay." A little disappointed for some vague reason, Leah pushed herself to a sitting position, wincing at the soreness in her body. She was about to engage her wings when she noticed something. "…Darn it, my wing is crushed."

Arnan stood and went behind her, inspecting her wings. "You're right," he said shortly. "Will you be alright?"

"Yes, but I won't be able to fly again for a while."

"…Well, then, it looks like you'll have to stay until you can fly again," he said, his voice betraying no emotion.

"Great," she muttered, although secretly she was glad.

He paused. "…In any case, the first thing we ought to do is get you cleaned up."

She looked at herself, and saw that indeed she was covered with blood. "That would be appreciated."

Folding his scythes back, he gently picked her up in his arms, being careful not to jostle her. "There's a stream not far from here. I get my drinking water from it."

Leah waited silently while he carried her. Neither spoke until the sound of quiet, flowing water became apparent, and Arnan had stopped next to a small stream. "Here we are," he declared, as he carefully lowered her into the water.

She shivered as the cold water went past her, but didn't complain. Once she was up to her chest in the water, he pulled his arms away and sat on the bank to watch her. The current was slow enough that she was able to keep herself from being carried away.

Glancing downstream, she realized with a certain horror that the water was dyed pink with her diluted blood, but she felt relieved that she was rid of it. Taking a deep breath and closing her eyes, she submerged her head and held it there for several seconds, before resurfacing again.

She took a gulp of air and then glanced at Arnan. "I'm clean, so come rescue me, honey."

He raised an eyebrow, but stood regardless. "'Honey'?"

"What, do you not respond to pet names?" Leah smiled at him.

"…Well…" he started uncertainly, his face tinged pink, "…I guess so, but… I'd prefer to be called Arnan." He knelt next to the water and reached out his arms for her to grab onto.

She took his arms, and held on as he pulled her out of the water. "Well, then, I guess I'll have to call you Arnan. Kind of dull, though."

He set her on the ground. "Too bad, I like it." He paused then, face turning even more pink. "You can let go now, by the way."

She held onto his arms, smiling sweetly. "Can I? I think you like it, actually." She glanced over him. "Did you know you are an extremely attractive Scyther?"

"Um… well…" He tried to speak, but failed. Finally, he managed to say, while blushing furiously, "You're… pretty, too, when you're not covered in blood…"

Leah found herself blushing as well despite herself. "Well, thank you…"

They stared at each other for several long moments. Then Leah finally let go of his arms, absently brushing water off herself. He quickly pulled them back to his sides. "So… anyway," he said awkwardly, "…are you feeling well again? It looks like the Sitrus Berries worked, mostly, but you've got some scars…"

She glanced down at herself, seeing the scars he'd mentioned. Other than them, the wounds had almost completely disappeared. "I'm… well enough," she said, lifting her eyes back up to him.

"Well, then… is there anything you want to do while you recover?"

She paused, thinking, and then gave a mischievous grin. "I can think of a few things. But are you up for it?"

He blinked. "…Up for what?"

Her grin widened. "What do you think?"

"…Um… Well… I don't… see any reason why not…" He paused, then gave another small grin. "…Sure," he finally said. "But… here?"

"Why not?" Leah giggled. "What's wrong with here?"

"…Nothing." Arnan stepped closer to her. "Nothing at all."

Their bodies met, and they closed their eyes.

~.~

A buzzing sound accompanied the flight of a creature, but unlike that of Leah this sound had a note of urgency in it. Also unlike the Vespiquen, this creature was much smaller, though it retained her yellow and black coloration. It flew rapidly, dodging trees in its haste.

The Combee paused in his flight as he heard the bubbling noise of a nearby stream. Water… water is good, he thought, as he then altered his path toward the sound.

Presently he broke from the trees, coming into a patch of sunlight where the stream snaked between them. He drifted toward the stream, coming to a rest just above the water.

As he was about to drink, he suddenly realized that he was not alone. Turning, he saw two large forms on the edge of the river. A Scyther… and a Vespiquen. His three faces lit up on seeing the Vespiquen. Both were asleep, one of the Scyther's scythes laid protectively on the Vespiquen's chest.

The Combee drifted toward the prone figures. After a moment's consideration, he spoke cautiously. "Leah? …Is that you?"

Leah's eyes blinked open, and she yawned, lifting her head at the voice. "Huh?"

Arnan also stirred, opening his eyes as well. He took his scythe off Leah and sleepily sat up, yawning. "What is it?"

"You are Leah, aren't you?" the Combee asked again.

Leah pushed herself to a sitting position, rubbed the sleep out of her eyes, and looked up at the Combee. She paused, bewildered. "…Yes? How do you know me?"

"I'm from your colony, mistress," he said. "I and several others were sent to find you."

Arnan glanced at Leah. "…I thought you were sent away?"

Leah frowned. "Um, I'm pretty sure I was…"

All of the Combee's faces flinched. "We apologize for that, mistress. But we need your help now."

"Oh?" she asked, crossing her arms. "For what?"

"Since you left two days ago, our queen has… left us," he said sadly. "A wild Ursaring ended her life."

"Serves her right," Leah muttered. Then, to the Combee, she asked, "So, why did you come find me? Just get another queen."

"There are no eligible candidates, mistress. There are only two females in our colony besides yourself, and neither is able to evolve right now."

"There were at least five others when I left. What happened to them?"

"They were killed as well while attempting to defeat the Ursaring."

Leah shook her head in disbelief. "So… you want me to come back and become your queen."

"Yes, mistress."

"Stop calling me that."

"Yes, your majesty."

Leah sighed and looked at Arnan. He was listening intently to the conversation, and when she looked at him he shrugged. "Go ahead," he said. "I don't really care either way."

She frowned, glancing between him and the Combee. For a long time she didn't speak, debating in her mind what she should do. The Combee watched hopefully. Arnan was feigning disinterest.

At last she looked back up at the Combee. "Go to hell," she said flatly.

The Combee was stunned. "W-what?"

She glared at him. "You drove me away, and now you come crawling back to me? No way. I could care less what happens to you, just like how you didn't give a moment of consideration for what might happen to me. Go back to your colony, and don't let me ever see you again."

"But… Without a queen, we'll die out…"

She waved a claw at him dismissively. "You'll figure something out. Now shoo."

The Combee looked like he was about to protest again, but when he saw that the gem on Leah's forehead was glowing, he quickly turned and sulkily flew away. He disappeared into the trees a moment later.

Leah let the glow in her gem fade, and she glanced at Arnan. After a long pause, she started, "…So…"

He turned to look at her. He was smiling. "You could have gone back, you know. And you would have been a queen, too."

She snorted. "Hmph, who cares? Queen of a colony full of jerks, that's what I'd be." She sighed and looked around at the trees and the stream. "You're much nicer, I'd rather stay here with you, even if I do have to leave after my wing heals. At least I'd have good company for those few days."

He blinked. "…Wait. Who ever said… oh, right. No, it's alright. I won't make you leave. After all…" He smiled. "What that Combee said just now proves you were telling the truth, right? And so I have no reason to force you out. Especially since…" He trailed off, face turning a little pink.

She giggled. "I guessed as much."

"…You were manipulating me the whole time, weren't you?" he suddenly realized. "Trying to make me feel sorry for you, so I'd let you stay…"

"Oops, I guess my secret's out." She grinned at him. "But it worked, didn't it?"

He paused, then slowly nodded. "Yes, it did…"

She embraced him. "I meant what I said, though. I really do like you. Otherwise, would I have gone this far…?"

"…I suppose not…" Arnan put his arms around her.

She looked up at him, smiling. "Thank you…" she said quietly.

"For letting you stay?"

Leah closed her eyes and nuzzled his shoulder affectionately. "That, and… Before I met you, I was just another drone, you see… Now I feel special. I'm no longer just another part of the… the hive mind."