Hi everyone, lupyne here. This is the first collaboration I have ever worked on. Hawk is a great friend and author, and it's a pleasure as well as an honour to work together. I hope you enjoy the story, and I will see you at Chapter Two! (I'll do my best to get it done quick.)
Hello all; hawk here. This is also my first collaboration, with lupyne: an awesome friend and writer I've had the honour of working with. While waiting for Chapter Two, please do check out his other fics, especially the ongoing I Am Lucario!
Meanwhile, please enjoy the chapter, and we hope you have a pleasant stay at Snowpoint Inn.
The rain patters lightly against the window planes. Dusk wraps his long cloak over the quiet town, and above him the clouds let down their soft weeping in the middle of the night. It isn't a loud downpour, the kind that set hairs on end, but a soft, soothing, melancholy rhythm with which mothers hum their children to sleep.
Another dot on the window pane. Usually, the Trainer would have glanced wistfully outside, whining loudly about how it was costing training time; but now all is silent. For one, the Trainer was exhausted from a long day of rest, from travelling, battling, and training his Pokémon to perfection. "The strongest Pokémon," as the Trainer would say, "is the best Pokémon."
And he would live up to that maxim by carefully nurturing his Pokémon to be the strongest.
For tomorrow they would battle again, and he would be proud of them. To see the Pokémon perform their best for him, and to taste the sweet glory that would come from winning. But even the ambitious Trainer knew one thing – it is way past midnight. The day had quickly morphed into night, settling Dusk's shadowy cloak over the snowy landscape and chanting its soft, low lullaby.
Even the Trainer needs some rest.
It is a serene, calm night. Outside the wind whistles an icy tune, rattling the windows of the little inn occasionally, but inside all is still and quiet. It is the end of a long day, and the Trainer takes a well-deserved rest, sprawling out upon the bed. At its foot are his Pokéballs carelessly placed, next to a crumpled up bag with the next day's clothes spilling out of it.
Worn out, the Trainer hadn't even bothered to undress. The day's stress had taken its toll on the Trainer's shoulders, throwing the body to the bed without so much as changing out of the sweat-stained clothes. Even the precious bag was carelessly flung to the side, the strap that attached the Pokéballs to it splintering and bouncing them a little across the floor.
The next battle was coming up, and rest was definitely essential.
The Pokémon certainly understood that – the Trainer had thought blearily, before being swallowed up by sleep – all sealed away in their Pokéballs, fast asleep for the night.
The Gardevoir-themed clock on the bedside table ticks, the minute hand marching forward a step in time to the soft drumbeats of rain.
The moon peeks behind her cover of the clouds, illuminating the room once again. Thanks to the only window in the room, there is a shaft of bright moonlight penetrating the darkness, falling across the Trainer's closed eyes.
As if awakened by it, the Trainer seemed to move a little, but it is only a trick of the shifting shadows outside. There is no sign that anyone is awake or stirring in the room. The rain hits against the pane again, as if it is a gentle visitor knocking on a door, politely asking to be let in.
Only to find that no one's home.
The Trainer's head still lolls to a side, as it always does. The Trainer's hand still hangs limply over the mattress, the tip of the fingertips dangling just a short distance from the ground.
And blood slowly seeps from them, trickling down the long fingers and collecting into small spheres at the fingertips.
Fascinating, the way the crimson streaked and caressed the hand as it left, condensing into little spheres that cling to the flesh, unwilling to let go. Unnatural rivers of red flow delicately from the slashes in the palm, winding all the way to the tip of the fingers. Finally, eventually, a drop loses contact, falling all ten centimeters to dash itself on the wooden ground below.
There was an uneasy movement, and then a flash of light. There's a slight feeling of nausea, but after months of bearing with it, it became less uncomfortable. An illuminating afterglow lingers in front of the eyes, gradually subsiding away, but leaving angry white circles and splotches obscuring vision.
I yawn, rubbing still-closed eyes with the back of a paw. After being rudely called out of a Pokéball, there's not much I can do, can't I? I try to stand up, stagger for a moment, before sprawling flat on the ground. Yawning, I curl back up in a ball and started drifting back to sleep, tucking my tail neatly between my hindpaws.
No point waking up so early.
Right about now, the Trainer would probably pick me by the scruff of my neck, swinging me from side to side to wake me up. Let him come, I always felt that lulled me to sleep even more. He never liked it when I fell asleep in his grip, anyway.
But right about then I hear – even though I'm half-asleep by then – more familiar sounds. Other Pokéballs being released. Hm? Is the rest of the team out also? Such questions can be answered later.
Ah, back to sleep. Hitmonlee can punch me awake later.
I hate that, but at least it gets the job done. That Pokémon can really kick off the day with energy if and when he wants to. Me, I think I prefer to stay out of his way (and legs) as far as I can. I yawn a little and curl up a little tighter, allowing sleep to slowly creep back over me. Sweet sleep, drawing up like a blanket over my tired –
"A Riolu," came a voice.
Strange. Not a familiar voice at all. Not like the Trainer's tones, but far deeper, gruffy, and also sounds like he was woken up a little too early too. My flickering Aura senses pick up traces of tiredness, emanating from a point just in front of me.
Inwardly, I grin. But I'm curious, so I pry open one eye.
The morning light blasts straight into it like it had been waiting for that chance the whole day. Which it probably had. The light burns itself into the surface of my eye before the still sleepy me could even react. I growl and quickly snap my eye shut again.
"Hey there, little fella. Wake up."
I feel a hand ruffling the fur on the top of my head. It's a kind of soothing feeling, and is surprisingly pleasant. Grudgingly, I uncurl myself, setting myself into a sitting position. Still rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I gradually open them, squinting.
I blinked. The person in front of me isn't the Trainer, but some large guy wearing a navy-blue uniform, its colour much darker and deeper than my own fur. A cap of sorts obscures half his face, but he pushes it up with a finger now, staring at me. Something about him gives off the air of someone official, but a sudden large yawn from him breaks the illusion.
What? I think blankly.
In my defense, I'm still half-asleep.
Odd face. He doesn't look familiar, and for a second vague, half-familiar faces run through my mind. Trainers I had battled, the sneering look on their faces as I hit the ground for the third time – the Nurses Joy, Joy, Joy and Joy in various towns we visited, random people on the street… No. No resemblance whatsoever. Hm. New face.
My thoughts are suddenly interrupted as Navy-Blue made some movement towards me. I blink, my half-asleep mind focusing on him again.
He pushes a finger forward, as if to prod me. And he does so. He pokes me straight in my torso, as if I'm some sort of toy. Some toy! That did the trick – fully awake, I flip onto all fours, growl and bare my little fangs, the hackles on my back standing up on end; and try to bat away his finger.
Chances are that wouldn't have worked as an intimidation tactic at all. Riolus rarely can look scary. Gallade told me so the last time I tried to growl at him. Well, I can't wait to evolve and look a little bit more frightening, but at most all I can do is yelp at people and hope they look surprised.
But this time, Navy-Blue immediately snatches back his finger, keeping a close eye on me. Hey, maybe I'm getting better at this intimidation thing. I smirk a little in confidence, giving off a small snort of satisfaction.
"Cute little fella," he remarks.
My tail drops, and I curl back up into a ball again. To Giratina with this, I'm going back to sleep. But as I close my eyes, this really loud and irritating noise breaks into my field of hearing. I wince – sometimes, having sensitive hearing isn't as cracked up as it appears to be.
Behind him, there was a loud middle-aged human dressed in a fittingly loud pink dress. She wails and cries for some reason or the other, stammering out words in between sobs. Pink-Dress continues to scream hysterically, sometimes clutching on Navy-Blue's shoulder.
I tilt my head. What was the matter with her?
"Riolu." A more familiar voice suddenly starts up by my ear, startling me. Whipping around, I tense up, but I see the Gardevoir on our team shaking her head sadly at me.
"What?" I blink. I seem to be very fond of that word today. I make a mental note to expand my vocabulary a little next time.
The Trainer had rented out a room in this inn, as part of the preparation for the strict training regimen planned out for us Pokémon. Now, I discover that I am on the table in the room, a medium-sized wooden thing. Beside me is a Pichu, the only other Pokémon small enough to sit on the table without breaking it – the rest of the team's on the floor, their heads still towering over us.
Gardevoir didn't say anything but turn her head slightly, her face pointing in the direction behind where I am. I slowly turn around, my gaze following the pink lady's trembling, pointing finger. Pichu's already staring in that direction, frozen in shock.
Turning around, I see what the commotion was for the first time in bright daylight. The bed which the Trainer had slept in had turned a ghastly red in splotches, the Trainer slumped carelessly over it. What had been a bed with random sheets thrown all over it smelled slightly of iron. A hand hung over the edge of the bed, not quite touching the ground – but directly below it was a pool of dried blood.
As the Trainer was sleeping facedown, the familiar face is hidden by the bedsheets and whatnot. However, sticking out of the back – through the ever-present jacket and all – is a long, protruding handle of a knife.
The Trainer, of course, is quite dead.
I remain silenced, feelings rising up which couldn't quite be described properly. I sit down abruptly.
Chapter One: The End of The Old
"We will all die. That is our fate. Goodbye."
After that episode, Navy-Blue had shooed us Pokémon out of the room, into a waiting police van. Apparently, from the scraps of conversation I heard, they were dumping us in some Pokémon Inn somewhere.
A police van pulls up, the back spacious enough for us six Pokémon – barely. Navy-Blue seems determined to remind us that this was no pleasure ride, never mind that it was our own Trainer who was murdered in this very room.
"Okay you, an' you an' you an' you… get in the van. All of you. Get a move on." Navy Blue grips Pichu by the collar, picking him up to put him in the back of the van. "I don't have all day, so move it, tiny."
The larger of our group of six were allowed to clamber into the van of their own accord. Hitmonlee jumps up with no difficulty at all, followed a split second later by Gallade. The latter Pokémon glares at the Fighting-type for leaping in first, but Hitmonlee strolls to the front of the van, whistling. After them, Gardevoir gracefully sweeps in, casting an exasperated glance at the two males jockeying for alpha position. She decides – wisely – to distance herself from the impending fight, settling down in the corner while watching them intently from the corner of her eyes.
And lastly, Magneton floats in lazily, completely ignoring everyone.
That left Pichu, who was arbitrarily deemed by Navy Blue to be "Too Short". Classification in this "Too Short" group, as Pichu will quickly find out, apparently grants you a complimentary picking-up-by-the-collar and a membership discount on pain.
"Hey –" Pichu weakly protests, as he was held by the scruff of his neck. "Yow, that hurts! Let go ~ " Navy Blue ignores Pichu's yells and squeaks, instead dropping him rather ungracefully into the van.
I stand at Navy Blue's feet, staring up at the edge of the van, some way off the ground. Nothing I couldn't reach with a jump. I tense my hindpaws, and bound up –
– and just when I was about to leap into the van, a pair of strong hands suddenly grasp me by the torso in mid-air. Surprised, I twist my body around, squirming out of Navy-Blue's grasp, jumping from his hands – but he regains control and grabs me by the end of my tail before I could reach the ground.
"Watch it," he growls. "You could hurt yourself, you know?"
For a second there, I pause and look at him. He looks back at me, and our eyes meet in the short moment of time. I think I could detect genuine concern from him – perhaps he was really worried? Maybe he had a Pokémon as a child, or maybe he had decided he suddenly felt sorry for us… No matter what, I imagine a twinge of affection, the first I had felt from anyone in a long time. Perhaps… he isn't so bad after all.
And then, he roughly tosses me into the van.
My body skids across the metallic surface and hit the wall. I sit upright, feeling slightly dizzy but more confused. So much for not wanting me to hurt myself – he's doing a pretty good job of it himself. I bare my fangs at him again, but he is too preoccupied with something else to even notice.
I rub the back of my head with a paw, while Pichu had just gotten his bearings and pads over to me. "You too, huh?" he says, with a bitter smile.
I nod, then sigh. "Ah well, I got used to it."
Pichu nods too, before trying to comb down his fur that now stood on end. "So, where do you think we're headed to?" He tries to sound chirpy, as if nothing much had happened and we were being taken for a pleasant ride around town. That Pichu, always optimistic and cheerful – it was alternatively endearing and sickening.
I groan, rubbing my head. "I don't know," I shoot back. "Probably the slaughterhouse."
Pichu tched, although a real fear creeps into his eyes. "You're j-joking," he stutters.
I see my chance, and quickly grab it. "Don't you know?" I continue, innocently, eyes staring straight into Pichu's own. The other Pokémon tries to break eye contact, but his curious nature eventually gets the better of him. He creeps slightly closer, an inquisitive yet scared spark in his eyes. "K-know? Know what?"
CLANG. The metallic sound of something hitting the floor of the van startles us clear out of our fur, but I try my best not to let it show through. Navy-Blue had tossed a small dog-dish of brown pellets that passed for Pokémon food, now muttering something under his breath about regulations and rules and how the last stupid Pokémon had died in a police van of starvation.
Scampering forward and ignoring Pichu's calls, I avoid Hitmonlee's legs as he moved towards the food bowl. Quickly, I grab a piece in my paws, hurrying back out before the bigger Pokémon gather around the food bowl. Narrowly avoiding Gallade, I swerve around and skid to a halt in front of Pichu.
"What?" Pichu continues, hungrily eyeing the piece of food I held in my paws. Suddenly I am aware of how hungry we all would be – having eaten nothing since yesterday afternoon, courtesy of the Trainer's strict training regimen. I wave the food in front of him a little, watching with satisfaction as his bright eyes followed the piece as it moved.
"Don't you know…?" I drop my voice to a whisper, low and mysterious. Pichu hung on, intently.
"…what Pokémon food is made of?"
Pichu stops eyeing the piece of food. I grin, and bite into it energetically, tearing a small chunk from the pellet in my jaws, chewing with obvious pleasure. Pichu turns a little green.
We all have to find enjoyment, somehow. At this moment, I'm preoccupied with enjoying the piece of Pokémon food and watching Pichu squirm a little. Like some human once said, it's the little pleasures of life that matter. Not that we had a lot of them, so I'm intending to enjoy this particular one for as long as possible.
At this moment, Gardevoir sweeps over, her feet hardly touching the ground. Crouching down beside Pichu, she runs her paw through his fur, quietly comforting him – and offering him a bit of food. She can't understand why he shrank back so – but after a couple of minutes of the electric mouse's stammering explanations, she glares at me for a second in that familiar exasperated fashion.
She then explains to us that we were going to the nearby Snowpoint Pokémon Inn, where we would be looked after and cared for until the Trainer's family came to pick us back. They would be in town for the funeral, the authorities had reasoned, and they could pick us back then.
They preferred it that way, being more traditional and not favouring electronic Pokémon sending that "them youngsters" were so fond of. And arguably because they think Pokémon shouldn't be confined to their Pokéballs most of the time. But mostly to take advantage of the free Inn services for us that the authorities had offered.
Unless you're a Porygon, digital transportation is the absolute worst. Think about that next time.
To be honest, I'm kind of looking forward to the visit to the Inn. It brings to mind faraway images of relaxation and sleep, maybe even fun and games. Actually, I'm only hoping that it might be better than listening to the Trainer drone on and on about battles and stats and movesets like some sort of geek.
…Nope. It isn't.
In all honesty, the Pokémon Inn isn't too bad. There aren't much other Pokémon – by Mew, is Snowpoint deserted – and they give us a small mattress each. For Pichu and I, we can stretch out pretty easily and comfortably, but not so much for the much-larger Pokémon. Take that, Hitmonlee. The cocky Pokémon whined all night, tossing and turning, until Gallade had had enough and threw him out of the room.
The Innkeeper, grumbling and mumbling, finally relents and gives us each individual rooms. Not exactly first-class suites, but still. I relish the thought of actually having my own little space to myself.
The scenery outside is nice too. There is a small mountain leading to a cliff overlooking pretty much the rest of the City, plus a small forest. I would suppose that there were Pokémon in the area, but I wouldn't want to go there alone. Pichu flat out refuses to, and the rest of the bigger, more intimidating-looking Pokémon either didn't want to (Gardevoir) or didn't care (the rest of them).
And in between regular mealtimes, they allow us to roam freely.
Perhaps I put it in too nice a way – they kick us out of their doors.
According to the Innkeeper, this is what I could gather – some renovation and construction works are going on, which render the air too polluted and the environment too noisy for her delicate senses; and that the Town's mayor was a – hmm, maybe I shouldn't reproduce that word – to allow all this to go on and trouble frail elderly ladies like herself.
I manage to get a sight of the construction work going on in the west wing of the Inn, heavy skeletal scaffolding and metal plates rising above the ground. The sun would shine right on them and glisten off, and if it was the red sky of sunset the entire Inn would seem to be bathed in ruby-red blood.
It's all mildly attractive. I find myself drawn to the place, with some strange fascination. Perhaps it's the newness of it all, to see a building's steel skeleton through its thin façade.
But in any case, it was deemed a "hazard" and "children and Pokémon are not allowed near it", which was interpreted as "kick Pokémon out of the Inn and only let them come back for food and at night".
Having the entire Snowpoint City to ourselves, we were supposed to wander around town and not get into trouble, with only an identification tag around our necks for protection against wandering Trainers. While it was a good thing Snowpoint wasn't bursting with Trainers – I can't help but feel a little afraid. I wasn't exactly expecting five-star hotel treatment, but this is simply ridiculous.
I keep having nightmare visions of a wandering, fresh-faced Trainer, just coming out the PokéMart and itching to try out his first batch of Pokéballs. Ah, it's a Pokémon thing – if you're not prepared, suddenly being locked away in a Pokéball no bigger than your paw – it's not a pleasant experience, mind you.
I wasn't always like this.
What, you think I was born in one of them "Breeding Centers"? Filthy places, them, so I've heard from the one or two Pokémon I've happened to meet. Disgusting, the way Pokémon Trainers treat them as mere commodities, to be kept and raised like cattle. And don't get me started on the Ditto rape cases, far too many for me to count on all paws.
I am a proud wild-born Riolu, hatched from an egg from two Lucario parents. Native to a forest, I spent happy days rolling in the grass, begging for food, doing what it is baby Pokémon do. I guess my parents weren't half bad. But I don't remember them anymore, no more than I can remember what it like was inside an egg. Their faces are all fuzzy now, and sad to say, I wouldn't be able to distinguish them from the next Lucario on the street.
Curious and inquisitive since birth – or so I was told – I went a-exploring on my own, not just a few weeks old. It's the call of the unknown, the adrenalin of adventure that grips every young forest Pokémon's heart.
You could probably guess the rest of the story. Trainer comes along, challenges me to a duel, wins, takes me in under his wing and we travel across the land together. We spent quite some happy times together, sitting and laughing and admiring the sunsets, even though I might have missed my forest home, it was soon quickly forgotten in the face of the glorious future we saw before us, together.
Only that it was more "Trainer had Hitmonlee beat an unsuspecting Riolu senseless", "Trainer locks me in a Pokéball, away from the light of day", and "Trainer drags me across the land bundled together with the rest of the Pokémon he caught".
…perhaps I'm being overly harsh. He may have been slightly mercenary, but he was dedicated to his job and didn't starve us. Not all the time. I remember, earlier on in our journey, he used to talk to us, kid around with us, hug us (just not Hitmonlee). I remember him putting his hands on my shoulders and saying something encouraging. Something like "You'll be a strong Pokémon one day!" or something of that sort, meant to encourage.
It was training all day, all night with him. He really did seem to want us to be strong, tough Pokémon. Quite some memories that I still remember from our training sessions – the various training techniques he put us through, the late nights trying to stay awake throughout his droning… I guess that life is kind of behind us right now, for some reason.
Oh yes. I remember now. He's dead.
Anyway. Back to the topic – being able to run around town without restraint was rather unexpected and beneficial. We all get to explore the city in greater degree than the Trainer would ever allow. All in all, I'd rate it above having to listen to the Trainer's lectures, which were in turn only slightly above stealing a Kangaskhan baby from its mother.
Magneton disappears after we left the Inn grounds, presumably to want to distance himself from the rest of us. I sense a brief wave of indifference from him as we walked out of the Inn, but that's only to be expected. I never actually see him interact with anyone else in the team, just remaining aloof, alone, and somehow above it all.
The fact that he floats probably helped.
Meanwhile, back at the Inn Gates, I stretch out on all fours, sniffing the air a little. Opportunities were endless! But out of the corner of my eye, I spy two familiar figures emerge from the Inn. Gallade turns to Gardevoir, the light wind whipping through his short fur.
To keep up his tough-Pokémon image, Gallade appears to have recovered from the loss of the Trainer pretty quickly, though I can't say he was very attached to him in the first place. I try to perceive his emotions, but it's early in the morning and I'm tired, so that naturally fails.
"How about we take a walk down at the park?" he says. Gardevoir smiles a little in response, floating in step with the Fighting-type's.
Nodding, Gallade leads the way down the street, Gardevoir following at his side. I hurry over to where they are, drifting down the road together. Snowpoint Park's a little-known park, nowhere near the lush greenery of the famous ones – but apparently, with the wind slowly floating through, it's a very serene, secluded, and romantic location. It's pretty obvious that Gallade isn't bringing Gardevoir there to train.
I grin a wolfish grin, tiredness forgotten. My afternoon just got booked.
Creeping along on all fours, I make my way slowly after the retreating duo. I shoot quick glances around the area, plotting out a route in the shadows. Not for the first time, I'm glad for my padded paws, placing one of them gingerly in front of the other. No sound whatsoever. Good. Because, all it would take is one wrong move, and Gallade would be stomping on my tail faster than I could say –
A quick patter-patter of feet tells me Pichu's scampering out of the Inn grounds. I didn't wait any longer, but quickly start to run off, trying to pretend I was deaf, or that something got stuck in my ear. He didn't seem to get the hint, closing the distance between us fast and easily keeping pace. I give a soft resigned sigh, then turn to glare briefly at him.
"Hey, Riolu," he whispers, a playful smile appearing on his lips. "Them two are getting up to something… I saw them take moonlight walks last week, Gallade sharing his food, and now this." He chuckles rather loudly, scampering beside me on all fours.
Not anything I couldn't find out through my Aura senses, or just by looking at them. I have the overwhelming urge to roll my eyes, but I hold it in, shooting him a withering glare instead. The glare bounces off the back of Pichu's fur, as the little mouse Pokémon continues to grin and giggle at the loving duo in front of us, whispering and chattering a little too loudly for my liking.
I glare at Pichu once more. Once again, intimidation fails me. I swear to Arceus, once I evolve…
Out of the edge of my peripheral vision, I notice with a start that the duo had come to a stop several paces ahead. I slam on my brakes hard, skidding to a stop on all fours as my forepaws burn themselves against the dirt path. Ignoring the pain, I reach out and grab Pichu by the tail as he hurtles past, dragging him backwards, forcing him to come to a stop beside me.
To tell the truth, it was more just to pull Pichu's tail than to prevent him from scampering into Gallade's legs, but if I didn't do it Gallade would have pounded us both into the ground. So I take it as a job I have to do, with a certain element of fun in it, as a bonus. Oh yeah, Gallade – the mere thought of the Pokémon immediately brings me back to the situation at paw –
"Shh," I motion, glancing in front. "They'll hear you."
True enough, the more hearing-sensitive Gardevoir turns around, the surprised Gallade halting in mid-step. There's a slight smile on her face, but I could detect some embarrassment emanating from her quite clearly. "Hey, you two."
Pichu stops fidgeting; obviously embarrassed as well that his cover was so quickly blown. "Hullo." He waves sheepishly.
Before I could say anything, Gallade turns back, his eyes flitting past Pichu and landing on me. His face hardened – obviously, he must not like Pokémon that were too much shorter than himself. He stares at each of us in turn, and I am not sure he wasn't using his psychic powers to root us to the ground where we stood.
Eventually he straightens up, dismissively waving a paw in our direction. "Get back, runts; scram."
"But I want to go to the park, too," I defiantly stand my ground, my hackles suddenly rising. Even though he was one of the Trainer's most powerful Pokémon, I found Gallade simply overbearing at times – and it didn't seem to be getting better anytime now. Tch. Who killed the Trainer and made him boss?
Gallade suddenly lunges at me, arm blades extended, coming within a couple of inches from my snout. Surprised, I dropped on all fours, ears pressed down. At first, he looks as if he's going to launch into an attack, and I mentally brace myself for impact. I am not exactly the strongest Pokémon around, and a powerful blow from Gallade would probably both knock me out and knock me out of the park.
Instead of feeling his fist on my muzzle, I feel his breath against my fur. "Get lost," he growls. I quickly look around – Pichu had quickly scampered off at Gallade's outburst, leaving me alone with a Gallade who evidently got out of the wrong side of the Pokéball. His blade gleams in the soft sunlight, dangerous, while his eyes are steeled and determined in his single wish to get me out of his sight.
So much for being a gentlemanly Pokémon. I think.
"What did you say?" growls Gallade, his voice suddenly soft and dangerous. The Psychic Pokémon towers over me, glaring at me with one eye, seemingly boring into my very thoughts.
"N – nothing," I stammer.
"Gallade," a far more pleasing voice drifts to our ears, gently reprimanding the Psychic-type. Gallade takes his eyes off of me for a second to turn to Garvedoir, and I leap at the chance – turning tail and running away on all fours, the metal tag beating against my torso. I catch sight of Pichu's silhouette, disappearing around the corner the opposite way from the park. I make a mental note to deal with Pichu later.
Scampering up a nearby tree without any trouble, I peer out from the cover of the leaves. Gallade stared around for a while, looking for me. Eventually, Gallade gave up, not even bothering to use his Psychic-abilities to root me out, before glaring in the general direction which I had left. I scowl at him, baring my fangs. Hey, intimidation requires practice, okay? It's all I can do now.
I hear Gardevoir's voice dying away, lightly scolding Gallade in a way that a lover would playfully scold her partner for not accepting a kiss. I hear Gallade laugh it off, and so did she, as they both carry on walking, out of sight.
I sigh. Ah well, what can I say? Gallade's a lot more complex than anyone makes him out to be.
After Gallade and Gardevoir rounded the corner and disappeared from sight, I naturally follow. I patter after them on all fours, not making a sound, grateful to have no loud and chirpy electric mouse to mess things up this time. As they near the Snowpoint Park, more trees dotted the landscape, rivaling even that of the forest near the Inn. They did make it much easier to hide amongst the tree trunks, observing the two lovebirds from afar.
I hide behind a tree, flattening myself against the ground. Conveniently, a large tree root blocks most of my body, allowing me to remain hidden. All that can be seen of me are the tips of my ears, just poking out from behind cover.
I strain a little to listen, but find that the words come easily enough into my mind. Occasionally, I sneak a peek at the two Pokémon, and catch glimpses of those two interlocking paws.
Suddenly, I discern Gardevoir's emotions, spilling out of her in a controlled stream. While on the outside she looks calm, on the inside she feels conflicted. There's the undeniable taste of happiness that came around whenever Gallade showed up (though why would she fall for him, I have no idea).
But mixed in with that comes some other emotion, some sort of apprehension, and sadness.
Gallade's too blind with her to notice those emotions. Unlike him, she couldn't get past the Trainer's death that easily. And unlike him, I had seen the look on her face when she first saw the bloody body. And unlike him, I sense the uncomfortable feelings she had emanating from her now.
And now Gallade was bringing her out, the day after the murder, for a nice romantic stroll amongst the wintry park.
Back in the real world, Gardevoir still manages to smile at her lover, slipping her other paw into his. Gallade leans closer and whispered something into her ear, causing her to blush a little and pull back, playfully giving him a light slap across his face. Gallade laughed it off, proceeding to whisper her sweet nothings, every word of which my ears unfortunately picked up.
For the reader's sake, they will not be reproduced here. Be glad.
In the end, Gallade walks Gardevoir back to the Inn, and I, slowly, agonizingly, follow them, winding all the way through the town. Having stayed in a crouching position for what seemed like hours on end, my back was aching when I try to stand upright, much less walk the long, scenic route back.
For the entire excursion, I'm no better off, though I now would know exactly how to charm Gardevoir if ever I need to, hah.
The distant ringing of the Snowpoint City Hall's bells count the time, and with a sudden pain I realise we're late for dinner. Trailing behind the two Pokémon, I see them walk past the gate, paw-in-paw, before the grumpy Innkeeper draws the iron gates shut with a slam, muttering about Pokémon which were not punctual.
Twenty seconds too late, I patter up to the gates, feebly hammering on it. It makes quite the clanging noise, but the old Innkeeper tries to shush me with a paw, waddling back inside while murmuring about wild Pokémon, closing the door behind her with a dull thud.
Slowly I woke up, my head feeling heavier than it had ever been. Shaking it experimentally, the whole lot of snow that accumulated on it falls away in clumps, causing me to yelp involuntarily. I was curled up, right outside the gates of the Inn, and snow had decided to fall that night, half-burying me in a icy blanket of white.
Well, I appreciate the gesture.
The grating sound reminds me why I woke up. It's slightly past dawn, the new day's sun peeking out over the City. The snowfall welcomes the sunlight, making it shimmer with unearthly colours. But more importantly for me, the grating noises mean the gates to the Inn were opening.
Yawning, I shake the rest of the snow off my fur, and pad into the Inn on all fours, too tired to stand upright. I stumble into the Inn, eyes half-closed, relying on smell alone to get to the cafeteria. Suddenly, the dry, tasteless Pokémon biscuits they distributed didn't sound half bad. As I turn the corner, I only wish that I could get there before –
I roll over a couple of times, head over tail, before slamming back first into a wall and coming to a halt. As I sit there, rubbing the back of my head with a paw, a shadow slowly falls over me. Looking up, I see a familiar face, and groan.
Whatever legendary Pokémon governs luck must hate me.
"Aww. Did de poor widdle Wiolu knock his head?" Hitmonlee purrs with mock concern. I would have replied Yesh, de poor widdle Wiolu did – no thanks to you, but that would have probably earned me a one way ticket to whichever faraway region Hitmonlee kicked me to. Instead, I opt to snarl, racing past him on all fours, leaving the bemused Pokémon chuckling to himself behind.
I hurriedly scoff down a couple of biscuits, palming a few berries to satisfy my thirst later. But more importantly, my mind's on my quarry. Where is she? Is she still in the Inn? Any minute now, the idiot Innkeeper would –
– throw us out again. Perfect.
"…and come back only at lunch! …damned Pokémon, stupid job, rhubarb mumble mumble." The old woman shuffles back inside, closing the door with a thud of finality.
Luckily enough, I had managed to catch sight of Gardevoir as she left the grounds. Gallade, surprisingly, wasn't by her side – although it was very easy to find out where he was. Hitmonlee had decided to pick a fight with the alpha Pokémon of the pact, and while the fighting was going on, everyone else stayed far, far away.
I shrug, taking this opportunity to scamper close to Gardevoir.
…this isn't what it looks like.
Gardevoir is renowned amongst us as a skilled Psychic-type Pokémon. It's been said that she occasionally receives visions of the past, or of the future – thanks to some moveset she's got. Somehow the Trainer managed to get it to work out for her, and she is now endowed with this ability.
She wasn't fully able to control it, however. This led to much frustration on both the Trainer and Gardevoir's part. But still, it meant that she had access, somehow, to the past, and to the future –
– and if there's anyone who could throw light upon the mystery, it would be her.
Did she see the murderer? Might she have had a vision? Might she – I shake my head clear, noticing her moving nearly out of sight, along the snowy path to the forest. Her body winks out of sight occasionally, hidden behind trees. I start, blinking my eyes rapidly. I can't lose sight of her!
I quickly race after her, still on all fours, panting slightly. Each puff of breath becomes a small cloud, floating up and obscuring my vision. To make matters worse, the heavens open up again and snow starts to fall – lightly at first, but I know it will soon turn heavy in no time.
Far away I heard young Pokémon scream in delight at the snow, but I think I heard another strange yelp. I halt, the blood suddenly rushing to my head and making me dizzy. I clamp my paws to my head, trying to get it clear – but I suddenly freeze when I see the sight in front of me.
She's locked in the exact same position as me, paws to her head as if she's suffering a terrible migraine. Her body shivers, and she was the very picture of a vulnerable, ill Pokémon if not for one fact.
Blue. Her eyes cast a soft blue glow, tearing out from within. It isn't bright enough to illuminate the surroundings, but it drowns out her pupils and iris, leaving her eyes an eerie patch of glowing cerulean-blue.
A vision. She's having a vision.
She whispers something, her voice hoarse. For the first time in my entire life, I have never seen her so shaken, not even when she was staring the Trainer's corpse dead in the eye. Her paw grasps at open air, trying to hold on to something she couldn't feel. A single spot of moisture escapes from her eyes, falling almost unseen and melting into the snowy ground below.
Did she see who did it?
I step forward a little, then hesitated and took two steps back. Waves of horror and fear were evidently pouring out of her – even without my limited Aura abilities, a Pokémon could discern the fearful emotions etched clearly across her face, as clear as day.
And as suddenly as it happened, it's over.
She remains bent for a while more, before straightening up a little, still grasping her knees with her paws. Her breaths come in deep, emotional pants, as if she had just run miles to escape from hungry Houndoom. But while her eyes had dimmed back to their natural state, the indescribable emotion still remains written on her face.
Her neck snaps up, and her eyes meet mine.
And the next thing I know, I find myself suddenly wrapped in her embrace, as she hugs me so tight I feel as though the breath would have been crushed out of me. I yelp a little, squirming in her grasp as I did with Navy-Blue, but her grip was stronger and born out of desperation and despair.
Finally, awkwardly, I hug her back, my little paws not quite reaching all the way around her. "Gardevoir? You… had a vision?" My voice sounds tinny and high, nervous. As if I'm trying to comfort her, trying to take care of a new hatchling that had a particularly bad nightmare.
"Did you… see the murderer?" At the question, I feel Gardevoir's head shake violently, although her head's still pressed against me in our crushing hug. Thoughts quickly race through my mind, until I become quite faint from the thinking. If she didn't see the murderer…
"It's not over," her voice suddenly comes through, soft and broken. I simply stare as I blankly return her hug. She continues, sobbing softly into my little shoulder. "It's not over yet."
Behind the both of us, the dawn sun rises ever-so-slightly higher, casting a bloody red glow over all of Snowpoint City.