Gift Story: Cellular Degeneration

A/N: I don't make a habit of writing stuff like this, but at the request of a reader, I've put together this little oneshot. Please don't think I'm going to do this for people, but… I did my best to write an entertaining story with the source material available to me, within the universe of my other work. The characters of Lisasa and Luxion don't belong to me, and are copyright to their creators. Pokemon is copyright not me, but the ideas and stuff are mine.

Lisasa had never been fond of the cold, and thus was even a little surprised herself to find that she had ended up in Snowpoint city. She had waited until midsummer to make this visit: But even though much of the snow was melted now, the air was still absolutely frigid, and Lisasa shivered a little through her jacket. One of her hands tensed on the rail of the ramp leading down from the ferry she had spent the last day riding. The other was in her pocket, wrapped snugly around a pokeball with more than its fair share of dents and scratches. A few seconds later she had reached solid ground, and moved far enough away that she wouldn't obstruct the walkway for the other passengers disembarking. She didn't wait a second longer than that, releasing the pokemon that ship-policy had forced her to keep sealed away out of sight during the voyage. There was nothing dramatic about how she did it, no shouting or tossing the pokeball high in the air. Despite her age, Lisasa was a professional. She didn't have time for the dramatic.

Despite as worn as the old pokeball looked, it still functioned perfectly, and in the flash of bright light that was the matter-to-energy conversion process, her best friend of six years appeared on the frigid soil beside her, looking up with the same sad expression he had given her when she had explained that he would have to stay in the pokeball during the trip. This expression changed rapidly to one of joy though, and she was soon pushing futilely against the remarkable strength of her Luxray, who got her flat on her back despite her best efforts and licked affectionately at her face even as she struggled in vain to push him free. "Luxion, cut it out!" There was nothing angry about her voice, but a little worry. After all… the last time he had done this, he had accidentally shorted out her personal computer. She had responded by purchasing an anti-static bag to slip the thing in inside her backpack, but she could never be too careful.

Lisasa ignored the stares of those around her as all semblance of dignity vanished in brief play with her pokemon, which lasted until she could finally struggle to her feet, brush herself off, and give a stern, meaningful look to the pokemon. The result was a slightly bashful Luxray, who gave her no trouble as she walked about the frigid city purchasing needed supplies, checking in with an old friend or two, and setting out on the short path to Lake Acuity. She was very careful not to mention this destination to anyone, as she knew the warnings she was likely to receive, and it was vitally important none of the locals know where she was going (and what she was doing). Still, she needed to know, and as she walked down the path, Luxion beside her and the gravel crunching beneath her feet, she read and re-read the letter that had set her on this mission in the first place.

She remembered receiving the letter, hand-delivered to her by the war-hero Erica Tucker, who had somehow managed to locate her despite being in the field on research. Lisasa had been struck speechless as she saw the parachute, and even moreso when its occupant landed in front of her and handed her the sealed envelope. There hadn't been much conversation at the time… apparently the older woman had other matters to attend to, but she had paused long enough to stress the importance of what it contained. "It's from the progenitors." She had began, once pleasantries and introductions were over. "I don't know what's in there, only that doing it will be vitally important. I'm so sorry to ask you to change your plans for research… but I'm sure it isn't too much of a detour. And even if it is…" Another envelope, this one transparent, and clearly containing a monetary exchange chip. "Your own expense account. I'm sure your reward will be lucrative enough to account for whatever time you would lose from your ordinary studies."

It had been. The expense account contained twice as much money as the academy of field researchers gave her in a year, and the letter had little restrictions on what she could use it for. It also had little suggesting the task she had been given was optional, which annoyed her a little, but not so much that she had tried to turn it down. The Progenitors… some sort of secret society about which few people knew anything, and much of what the public thought they knew was mere supposition. All she knew was that they were apparently… protectors of some kind, whom she suspected to be the most important trainers in the world, those who had conversed with Legendaries and who had pokemon that had shook world events. The letter was very vague about that, only saying that the progenitors "had an interest in the well-being of the planet, and anticipated a conflict that was likely to end in failure if much preparations were not made". Lisasa was to be part of those preparations. Her understanding of wild pokemon meant her mission was related to them, though in a way she had not expected. Lisasa had been instructed to visit the very lake she could now see over the crest of a low hill, and investigate the disappearances that had been reported in the area over the last twenty years or so. And the only help they had given her was the old legends, that the lake itself was somehow a portal to another world, opened by specific wild pokemon under specific circumstances.

This statement seemed absurd to Lisasa… but who was she to question the progenitors? If they wanted to pay to send her somewhere she normally could not have afforded to go, and upgrade all her equipment to boot, who was she to turn them down? She could do the song and dance they wanted from her, and along the way do the work she really cared about: studying wild pokemon.

She was grateful when they reached the shores of the lake, which were almost unnaturally warm compared to the frigid environment only a few hundred meters away. Something to do with the temperature stability of water, maybe? She didn't know. She was relieved to be able to remove her jacket, setting it down alongside the backpack carrying her gear and stretching out happily in the bright sunlight, straightening out her characteristic lab-coat as she did so, and fixing neck-length hair that the hood had dislodged. There was work to do after that… concealing her shelter high in the treetops overlooking the lake, with special devices to conceal her scent so that she could observe pokemon unobstructed, with cameras and sensors instead of eyes. There were other types of gear, though… special scanners that she had found installed in her equipment without having put them there. But there was no time to busy herself with them… by the time she had finished setting up the shelter, and preparing herself for what would probably be an extended observational visit. Despite being only sixteen years old, Lisasa was quite experienced with these sorts of observations. She knew how to make a camp that wild pokemon wouldn't discover accidentally using camouflaged high-density cloth carefully clamped to sturdy branches, she knew how to cook without attracting attention, and where to dispose of waste. And as long as Luxion was with her, she felt safe. There was no wild pokemon, hostile or not, that he could not protect her from.

Her sleep that first night was spent restlessly, curled up in a sleeping-bag beside her Luxray, sheltered high in the trees. The contents of that sleep were… confusing. She felt like she was trapped… lost, frightened… a stream of emotions that made no sense to her while she was experiencing them, and even less when the morning abated them. But there was more to it than that… she had no way of putting it into words, but as she woke up, she couldn't shake the feeling that something had been trying to communicate with her. Something wanted her to leave, to not do something she planned on doing… but what? The sensation had mercifully faded by the time she was fully awake, but returned again the next night, and the night after that, stronger every day. Those days she spent in diligent observation: Waiting for anything out of the ordinary, and using her ample extra time to observe something she actually cared about: The habits and behavior of wild pokemon. This observation freed her somewhat from the disorientation of her strange dreams, helped in no small part by her frequent trips to the ground, where she would walk around the lake in the company of Luxion.

It was on one of these walks that Lisasa saw the pokemon that would change the rest of her life. At first it had been only a rustling of trees and branches, but… the thing was moving rapidly in her direction, and once it emerged from the treeline, it was clearly a pokemon she had never seen before. The pokemon was clearly psychic from the way it levitated, hovering a few feet above the ground like many of the much-more-potent pokemon it imitated. It was mostly transparent, a slightly greenish gel such as that which existed within a primitive cell, and even contained a handful of organelles swollen to gigantic size that any biologist would easily recognize. The pokemon's main body was clearly at the center of the gel, a small greenish creature with a head of almost comic proportions, divided in two with the same crease that connected to its mouth.

As she first saw this strange pokemon, Lisasa was so surprised by it that she lifted her sleeve to her glasses, cleaning them in an attempt to remove whatever bizarre influence had caused her to see such a strange creature. But the thing was still there as it moved towards the shore. It looking lost and frightened, but elated at the same time, as a traveler that had been wandering for some time and was just setting eyes on its destination.

Unfortunately, it didn't make it there, not now. Luxion had always been protective of his owner, ever since she had received him years and years ago, and eventually raised him to be her loyal companion. A strange species of pokemon he had never seen before, hurrying almost straight towards them… it was enough to provoke him to attack, opening with his most potent attack. Wild Charge was usually enough to dissuade anything that threatened them via incapacitation, no matter how big or how small. This attack struck the incoming pokemon straight on, and the charging Luxion barreled onward in an uncontrollable sprint.

"Luxion, stop!" Lisasa had called, but she cut herself off halfway through saying it. Luxion had always been the one to worry about keeping her safe, able to understand threats that she could not. Besides… she wasn't just a scientist. A specimen of a rare and interesting pokemon would make an excellent second member to her team. How much trouble could a little floating jelly really give them?

More than she expected. The pokemon had been hit directly, but despite its small size, the thing had quickly recovered from the initial shock of the impact, and ignoring the pain that the electrical energy was plainly causing it, it collected its "arms" took a good grip of the neck of the Luxray biting and snapping at it, and twisted hard to one side, screaming in its native pokemon tongue with fierce determination. The pokemon spun up a good ten meters into the treetops as it dissipated the energy that had been inparted to it by Luxion's charge, while the latter jerked as the former twisted it, tripping and rolling rapidly along the ground, impacting a large tree in a pained heap. Lisasa screamed herself, hurrying over to the spot where her pokemon had fallen, but he was already up as she got there, blasting a thunder strong enough to ionize the air around them up at the gradually descending pokemon. Luxion had caught it off-guard with his first attack, but this time it was prepared, and a semitransparent barrier of solid light deflected the attack harmlessly into a nearby tree-branch, which was blasted off its tree by the force, showering the strange pokemon with wood and sawdust but leaving it unharmed. The pokemon closed the distance absurdly fast, and no sooner had it done so then it hammered Luxion with blows, blows which easily could've shattered stone. Luxion struggled at first, trying to get away, shocking again and again, but… despite his speed, he was no match for this creature's raw power, and was soon reduced to unconsciousness.

The Reuniclus did not remain after that to do further harm to Lisasa's now KO'ed companion, or worse, turn on her. Instead it merely relaxed, dropping a few inches in the air from the way it usually hovered, and turning to give one glance at Lisasa as she skidded to a stop beside Luxion. She had to look away from those eyes… they were too intelligent, too judgmental, too hurt. She was grateful when the pokemon turned away, heading in the original direction it had been traveling, towards the water. It was then, as Lisasa struggled to apply a super-potion she always kept with her, that she witnessed the very thing she had been sent here to observe.

The wild pokemon stopped as it reached the water, reaching down with one of its arms and making contact with the reflective surface, and sending a single ripple across the water, and calling loudly in its weak pokemon voice, a long string of words that doubtless meant something, but to the young scientist consisted only of various mutated concatenations of its own name, over and over again. The result was immediate: The placid surface of the water darkened, gaining an unexplainable oily sheen and breaking in ripples that were somehow restricted to the water immediately before them. Lisasa saw it, and wished with all her might that she could use her personal scanning devices at the same time as she treated her unconscious pokemon. One was far more important than the other though… no matter how critical it was to learn about this phenomena, she was not going to put her best friend's life in jeopardy to learn it.

That didn't stop her from watching though, and watch she did, eyes glazing over as she took in what no human mind was meant to see. First the water rose, moving of its own accord as it settled from a disparate globule into a more familiar shape (albeit a shape taken from legend). When the dark water fell away, the form it left behind was not a large one, but would doubtless be a frightening one to all who knew the old legends. Lisasa did not know to look away from the eyes of this creature of yellow and white, hovering only feet above the water. Fortunately, its eyes remained closed, as they would as long as the brief conversation lasted.

"…our tribe can't survive much more of it!" Someone was shouting. Was it… couldn't possibly be… "Food is scarcer every year, and we're not strong enough to stop the Dark Ones when they attack. I'm afraid my tribe is already gone, but in case they aren't… I need your knowledge, Uxie! Aren't the Ones out of the Moonless Night your enemies too? So help us fight them!" At first the young scientist thought she must be misjudging the distance, or hallucinating, but… another adjustment of her glasses, and she was sure. It was that wild pokemon she was hearing, she knew it now. But… how? She settled on the presence she felt within her mind, the same one that now connected her with Luxion, and with the wild Reuniclus, and half a hundred other wild pokemon nearby, though most of those had scattered and were doing everything they could to escape. Below her, Luxion had opened one of his eyes, and it was clear he would have asked for them to leave too, were he strong enough. He wasn't.

The response from that… other presense… did not come vocally, but as a thought within her mind, lacking the tonal characteristic of all her own thoughts. Despite being higher pitched than any human voice, Lisasa could not help but shiver as she heard it, and wish for it to stop much sooner than it actually did. "To the Mighty Messenger must all things be told. He shall put on the semblance of men, the waxen mask and the robe that hides, and come down from the world of Seven Suns to mock the Gods."

Lisasa was baffled by this response, but not nearly as much as the pokemon. He was wild… remarkably intelligent for an animal, but still an animal dispite all of that. She had a feeling that the message they got was being very badly garbled. Telepathy could provide universal translation, but only so far as the recipient had words advanced enough to express the meaning the user wished to convey. Without them, only the next best thing was available, which could result in very poor translation. How much worse had it been for a wild pokemon? "I… Uxie… I don't understand!" The pokemon pleaded. Was it glancing back at her for advice? Even if it wasn't, Lisasa stood up anyway, returning her pokemon with a quick flick of one wrist, and pocketing the pokeball. What she was about to do was something she had always dreamed of doing, but she knew would be exceptionally dangerous. Meeting with a legendary pokemon face to face, especially one with as murky a reputation as Uxie. This last she did not know, but she had learned a healthy appreciation for her own mortality during her years on her own. She and Luxion had been through all sorts of danger together… but this danger she would face alone.

She looked down as she spoke, straightening her lab-coat as she got closer to that calmly bobbing light that was as much a being of dreams as nightmares. "It wants something in exchange." She said to the wild pokemon, speaking to it as she would to any other human being, despite the obvious problems with this idea. How could she expect a creature that spent so much time away from humanity to understand her? Why was she even bothering to try and help it… shouldn't she have run with the other wild pokemon, leaving this frightening creature behind? "Knowledge, I expect. Don't the legends say that Uxie is the creator of all knowledge?"

She hadn't really expected the pokemon made largely of floating gel to respond to her, but he did, turning away from the legendary a little and looking up at her with a look of worry and relief together. It seemed as confused by her ability to communicate with it as she had with him, but like her, he did not waste too much time dwelling on it. "I don't have any knowledge to give it! But if I don't… My tribe was already too weak to defend itself, without me it won't be able to survive!"

Lisasa did not know why she said what she did next, or volunteered to help this strange pokemon. Sure, she was sympathetic to the lives of pokemon being lost, even if they weren't anything more than simple wildlife… but risk her own life for them? That was going above and beyond in a way she hadn't ever done before. "What about me?" She turned directly to face the creature above the water, striding up to the edge of the lake, but getting no closer. "Can I pay the price instead? I must know something valuable enough for you to save this pokemon's tribe." A gesture indicated which pokemon "this" was.

The legendary lifted itself a little, closer to her eye level, but there was not a second's hesitation from it. Once she had spoken to it, it answered, its voice high and terrifying. "Primitive conglomeration of soul and bones." It began, stretching out one arm. "You suppose that which apes pass for knowledge and maggots writhe in rotting brains to learn can answer the void's lesson? Even the firstborn could not make me speak, and how much more did they have to offer? The earliest mother of the universe they saw, and yet they do not remember: I was there before the ether and before the dust: are the echoes of the gnawing empty not their children too?" Lisasa could not answer this question, only stare in utter confusion. Just how much more advanced /was/ this creature? Though it clearly made their communication possible with its telepathic abilities, it did not provide meaning to what were in mental contact much more concepts than words, as though it were speaking in symbols and pictures over a phone line. This left her nothing short of bewildered. "There is no secret you can tell me, no answer Eldest or King can give. But you can /be/ the answer. If you swear so diligently in your heart to fight for it, then fight for it. Be the thunder that answers lightning's questions!"

Lisasa was remarkably clever… or else, how would she have been so successful with her career as a young field researcher? But that did not make it any easier to understand a message for which english had no words. She tried… oh how she tried. But how much more bewildered could the pokemon be? Even such an advanced psionic species would have only so refined a vocabulary. "Is it the only way?" She asked, doing what her mother had always told her not to. 'Read the fine print before you sign!' She could practically hear the old voice whisper in her ear. She ignored it as the creature nodded, and she spoke up loudly. "Then I agree! I'll do whatever you want me to do to help this pokemon and its friends… I don't want them to get hurt!"

"And so the lightning shouted" the creature spoke into her mind, very quietly. "…and the void shouted back. Man had created fire, or did fire create man?" Thunder rolled, though the sky was cloudless. It shook so violently that Lisasa was knocked to the ground. Her hands were touching… pavement? How was that possible? What was worse, it had gone from near evening to total darkness, except for the flickering light of a nearby solar-streetlight, as notoriously unreliable in their illumination as they had ever been. Gone was Lake Acuity, gone the strange pokemon, and the temperatures much too cold for her liking. What wasn't gone was the thunder, which rolled again even as lightning struck somewhere far away, lancing through the trees to strike some unseen target. Rain was pouring down all around them… and for a few seconds it was all she could do to collapse on her back and take it in, letting it quickly soak her through to the skin as it poured down all around them. Them, because she wasn't alone. Aside from the weight of the pokeball she could still feel in her pocket, she could see the strange gel-pokemon was here too, its gently bobbing form doing little happy circles in the air as it cried out in a language she could not understand anymore.

But where were they? That question lingered in her mind long enough for her to glance around, and see the well worn roadsign indicating they were currently sitting on "Route 9", and the gleaming lights in the far evening distance she didn't actually know was the glow of Opelucid city, miles away. Didn't look any longer, because at that instant, she started to fully notice the strange feeling that had danced at the edges of her subconscious until then. She sat bolt upright to look at her hands, struggling out of the labcoat she had been wearing as she did so, and ignoring the inquisitive looks the pokemon gave her. Her skin was somehow paler… healthy tan replaced with a sortof sickly-looking green that only got worse as the moments wore on, spreading rapidly across her body with a feeling like being left to dry out in the sun. That was how she felt… despite all the water that poured down around her, enough that she knew her pokegear had surely be shorted out by now… she still felt like she was dying of thirst. Not just her insides… but her outsides too, growing more and more taut by the second, gradually shriveling like a prune. She screamed, or tried to scream, but that was about when the next stage of the change hit her, and she dropped to the pavement, unable to support her own weight. She was getting smaller very rapidly, shrinking so fast she had tripped over her own tennis-shoes and landed with a sort of splattering she knew human bodies were not meant to make. At the same time, she began to feel her own crushing weight pushing down on her, the weight of a planetary body and the attraction to another, much smaller object made of matter. That object was herself, and it crushed the wind from rapidly atrophying lungs.

'I can't breathe, I can't breathe, I can't breathe!' She screamed over and over in her head, but she couldn't even watch it with her eyes anymore, as all they could see was the dark pavement. She could feel it, though… feel as some chemical from within her body was dissolving her bones, then her organs, replacing them with infinitely simpler equivalents or omitting them entirely. Some few she could feel being pulled outside of her body by the forces that were changing her, completely disconnected from her but still functioning through forces she could not understand. One part of her ran counter to this pattern of vast devolution… her brain barely shrunk at all, though the existing barrier between hemispheres did become more pronounced, so much so that she suddenly found herself contemplating how long she would last as an uneven pile of organs and what was closer to cell-wall than skin, even as she realized with the other half of her brain that she was already starting to feel better. Why lie weakly on the ground when she could pick herself up? She did not have to be told how… the complex algorithms governing the exact nullification of gravity on a constantly varying mass were instinct to her now, and without a thought she lifted herself from the ground, mind burning with psychic power that no human brain was meant to hold. Fortunately, she did not have a human brain. But she was still suffocating… and even though she was no longer pinned to the ground, her vision was already going black along the edges from lack of oxogen. That was when she started to notice the gel. It seemed to be occurring naturally, each and every drop of water that touched her clung to her, slightly discolored by contact with her skin. That part of her felt cool and comfortable after that, at least until that small amount of gel had spread so thin across the rest of her body that all of her felt like she was going to cook. 'I'm not gonna make it!' She yelled in frustration without making a sound, but… fortunately, she was mistaken.

The pokemon whose case she had pleaded was still there beside her, watching in awestruck confusion as she changed from human to a member of its own race. With both "arms" it took gentle hold of her, and pushed her as well as her now-floating insides into a deep puddle that had collected by the side of the road, calling franticly back 'You need more water! Don't worry, it won't hurt!'

It didn't. Despite being slightly muddy, the water felt absolutely fantastic, so much so that the pain of being cooked alive had already started to fade. Lisasa was not inhaling or exhaling to take in air, but somehow she no longer felt as though she were suffocating. As she opened her eyes, she could see why: The puddle was rapidly changing into a protective shell, every bit of water she touched transforming into a thick gelatinous gel that both held her exterior organs in place as well as allowing her to exchange oxygen with the outside environment via osmosis. It was too muddy to watch with her eyes… but she did not need to see to shape her body properly. Instinct knew what shape to make the gel… she could change it if she needed to, but there was no reason now. Her body was settling into its definite shape: capsules of the acid that had melted away her insides were already being dispelled into the puddle via endoplasmic reticulum, and when they were all gone, she lifted herself slowly from the water, shaking herself free of what little of her clothes had hung on this long, letting them fall soiled to the ground alongside the rest of her belongings. This too was instinct, and though it was quickly followed by a wave of embarrassment, that wave was not very high nor last long. After all, what could she possibly do with clothes right now? Yes, her tiny body was floating naked inside its protective layer of gelatinous armor, but… wasn't this natural for her species? Who would think twice at seeing her this way… and even if they would, there was nobody around to see her. Except…

"You're… you're like me. You agreed to come with me to my tribe and help us survive… why? You humans with all your knowledge and machines… The safety of your warm nests and magic water… why would you give all that up?"

Lisasa was taken aback by this question, but not for the reasons one might expect. She had no proper answer for it, because in her mind, she /hadn't/ agreed to give everything up like that! She hadn't signed on to be a pokemon, least of all one so strange, practically otherworldly… as the one she was now. But there was no doubt that was what had happened… and she cursed herself now for the words she had spoken in ignorance and fear, promising to do anything to help this pokemon. Now, she supposed, that was exactly what she was about to do.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The next few hours she spent in a daze, which was so complete she nearly forgot to take one critical thing with her when they left the deserted road: Luxion's pokeball. Releasing him had created more than a little struggle, as the weakened but still fierce pokemon had demanded to know where his trainer had gone. It had taken all her cleverness… complete with shared memories, and even a little newfound telepathy… to convince the weakened Luxray that she was the same person, changed as she might be. The next few hours were spent in slow but relaxing travel by night, as the three of them traveled in search of the Reuniclus's tribe. Lisasa wasn't completely sure why she went along with the strange pokemon… but as they floated together, talking in unspoken voices that had begun to annoy Luxion, she was starting to figure out.

'It should be very close now… you can hear their minds, listen.' That was the pokemon, looking meaningfully over to her, its face an excited grin that grew more excited the further they got. 'It's been so long since I heard them… the moon's turned over three times since I was last here. I'm so happy they're still alive!'

These last few hours of travel had been a time of experimentation and learning for Lisasa, who had tried to approach her new body the same way she might a new species of pokemon. Flying came easy to her… but at the same time, it was a sort of awkward, babyish lack of coordination compared to the perfect navigation of their guide. Instinct might give her what she would need to survive, but she was going to have to work to perfect it if she wanted to be even close to as skilled as he was. Did she? Lisasa had heard of humans who had ended up pokemon… Erica Tucker herself had once been something much smaller and weaker than this, perhaps there was a technological solution to this predicament, if she could get somewhere safe and convince them of who and what she was. She wasn't about to try that without at least letting this pokemon show her the danger his tribe was in, though… and her scholarly zeal to /really/ see wild pokemon, to see them and be among them and converse with them… had grown beyond her desire to return to her old body, if only for the moment. And as she closed her eyes, concentrating on the direction her companion had indicated to her, she saw what he had indicated. Like patches of light on the distant horizon… a close band of thirty-or-so intelligences. They were too far away yet for her to tell what they were thinking, but she could feel their emotions… unease, worry… and a little joy at the rain, which she had to admit made being outside in the open air much more enjoyable for her. She nodded a little more energetically than she meant to, and at a meaningful look from her pokemon, spoke the message into his mind as well. 'I can hear them… they're upset. Why are you so frightened? Haven't tribes like yours lived here for years and years? What's making things difficult for you now?'

No answer came for a few long moments, while her companion struggled to put what he was about to say into words. Eventually he grew frustrated and stopped moving altogether, turning to face her with one of his hands outstretched. 'I can't just tell you.' He said, fear burning in his eyes. 'You wouldn't understand. Let me show you.' She didn't really understand what he meant by that, but reached out with one of her "hands", and took his in response. She felt little at first, but a few moments after making contact with him, she felt the gel that made up her hand begin to lose cohesion, slipping inside him just as he slipped inside her. Suddenly she was awash in sensations, a torrent that no amount of concentration could halt. Communication was instant now… faster than instant. She was watching his thoughts forming, just as he could see hers, and every twist of her mind opened up a new memory. There was no separation now… and she couldn't be sure which thought came from whom. Unfortunately, the speed also made it difficult to keep track of at first, and she quickly became disoriented.

'This is fantastic! I can see everything you ever thought! It is pretty amazing… it's usually how we work together to deal with difficult problems, so I think this counts. Is it dangerous? No no, only if you keep it up too long. What happens then? You forget which one of you is which. It can get real complex when there are lots of us working together, but the power is how we always deal with really big trouble. Only there aren't ever enough of us… Duosion and Solosis are too young and weak to keep up a connection for very long, so only the strongest mature adults can help. Help fight what? What is it you have to show me to make me understand?'

She saw. It wasn't just words that they transmitted, but feelings and memories as well. At first what the passed along was simple… their names, favorite foods… but once Kione (the Renuiclus's name) was sure she would be able to understand and cope with these very basic memories, he proceeded to offer her something much more complex. She saw the fire lanced from unnatural lightning, burning uncontrollably… young ones caught up in the flames, adults scattering fearfully while a few of the bravest gathered behind the person whose eyes she was looking through. It wasn't just the sight being transmitted to her… she could hear the echos of their thoughts in her head of all these individuals, and the more she heard them the more she began to think of them not like animals, but as people. They might be wild pokemon, but they also had their own hopes, dreams, ambitions… maybe she had understood the nature of the agreement she had made with Uxie after all.

Then she saw the threat, the single pokemon that was causing the tribe so much struggle in the memory she was watching. Through the smoke and the flames came a monster like none she had seen before. It had no name, no classification… and she found herself unable to identify it in any way whatsoever. Even Kione's senses… all of which she could "use" while within the memory… could not read into this pokemon's mind. It seemed the beast had none. But still it moved, corrupting all ground that it touched. Even working together, the tribe could not defeat the monster, only frighten it away with their numbers, forcing the abomination to seek some other shelter.

Lisasa shook herself as they broke contact, trying to remove the image from her mind. She couldn't, though… that hideous, unearthly face, the horrible stench… no wonder these pokemon had searched out legendary help. Let them be applauded for finding it, too. 'I can't believe you actually had to fight something like that!' She said, aghast.

'The Ones out of the Moonless Night.' He said, after a pause. 'I think humans might call them Shadow Pokemon, or Voidspawn, or lots of other names… but it doesn't matter what you call them. They're dangerous to everything that has a right to be alive… to us and what you used to be, and your pokemon, and… there's more and more of them in the wild now. If we don't find a way to stop them from getting close to the tribe, we won't last another winter. They always come when the food gets scarce… they'll eat anything so long as it's alive and crying for mercy while they're doing it.'

'Don't worry.' Lisasa began, feeling herself lift a little higher into the air, a little straighter. She could feel herself going over Uxie's last few words in her mind, over and over. She was beginning to understand what the ancient pokemon had meant, and she felt herself smiling as she did. 'you can /be/ the solution. Be the thunder that answers lightning's questions!' Lisasa might be young, but she was also clever, and had knowledge these wild pokemon couldn't begin to imagine. She had seen in the memories the primitive nests they had built, and how easily they had burned when the Shadow Pokemon attacked. Even as she thought about it, Lisasa's mind had began to spin. She could feel solutions forming now, answers to questions she had never had, but these wild pokemon had suffered greatly to try and obtain. With her help, and Luxion's, she had a feeling… 'Your tribe won't have to worry about the shadow pokemon anymore. See, I have this idea…'

The End