I'm in the process of editing this, so the early chapters might still be clunky and a bit disconnected and weird. I wouldn't mind if you skim through the single digit chapters. I'll put a proper author's note when I update next. Instead, thank you for reading my fanfic even when it isn't updating! Really!
I have always known that I would die. But I thought that when the time came, I would have been ready. I would have done everything I wished to and leave no regrets in life.
At least, that's what I thought. It isn't my choice. Here I lie in this forsaken forest, bleeding to death on the cold ground. I never knew physical injuries would hurt so much… I wish she was here with me.
She said everything will be fine, and would be back after finding help. But a psychic Pokémon knows when his time is up. Opening my eyes weakly, if only for another glance at this world, faintly I see the green grass fluttering softly, almost as if it wasn't tainted by my blood. The world is so beautiful.
I don't deserve this. I've only ever wanted good for this world. What did I do wrong? I have so many things left to do…
Forget it. If I die and cease to exist, I won't have these useless emotions anymore. All the things I've felt, they'll be gone forever. No more sadness and anger at the world. I'll be at peace.
…Who am I deceiving? I want to stay with her forever. Like we always have.
Why did you leave me? Even if I had to die, why couldn't you be here with me? we promised to always be there for each other ever since we left dad and mum. you lied to me you left me here to die alone why why why comebackcomebackcomebackkkhhhfpfhghslr
Something bumps into my side. The rocky interior of a desert cave comes into vision as I open my eyes groggily. The ceiling seems much higher than it should be.
"Wake up, Nova!"
I turn my head to the side with some difficulty, seeking the source of the voice. Next to me stands an eager Trapinch, her shell a shade lighter than most others. Or so I remember.
"Vie… Why am I here?"
"You were sleeping in your cave, silly!" she replies, a grin on her face.
"Oh. …Wasn't I in a forest? And there was someone I was waiting for…"
"Of course not! We've lived in the desert our whole lives! Now come on, your mum told me to bring you hunting."
"But Vie, I had this feeling… it was kind of familiar…"
"What? Another one of those nightmares?" She cocks her head. "It's not real, you know."
"Yeah. …Must've been that." I look back towards the interior of the cave where my mother sleeps. She must have gone hunting early, since its her job. "What are we doing again?"
"Hunting! I just told you. Pay attention!"
"Sorry… I'm still a bit tired."
"Well, don't just apologise, come on!" Vie has already begun heading out of the cave, but I don't worry as we are Trapinch and move slowly. Reluctantly, I follow her footsteps into the soft sand. The morning sun shines on the east horizon. "We can get it done before it gets too hot," she adds.
"I don't know," I tell her. "I don't really want to hunt."
"Oh come on. We all have to learn to do it eventually."
"What about Hale?" I ask her about her twin brother. "Has he started hunting already as well?"
"Of course! He had his first catch earlier than me, which is expected, because males are stronger. Which makes you an anomaly."
"Just because I'm male doesn't mean I have to hunt!" I protest. "We can do the other things!"
"Oh, you mean transporting the food to those guys in Lyrl who do all sorts of crazy human stuff? That's so boring! I mean, even being a hunter is better than that."
Although her words are supposed to convince me to hunt, I find a smile come to my face. Just like we've discussed before, she's not going to become one of those simple Hunters. Nothing against them – my mother is one, after all – but it seems like quite a boring life…
Most of the Flygon living in the Shallows here are either Hunters or Transporters, and serve to supply everyone, including those in the more technological city called Lyrl, with food. In return, they give us some manufactured things with their human technology, ranging from bags to medicine. Those things seem interesting, but never necessary, and I barely interact with it. Personally, I'd prefer intellectual stuff – like learning about our history, or our body – and so does Vie. She thinks the ability to hunt is still important, though.
"Well, are you going or not?" Her voice brings me out of my thoughts.
"Fine… but let me just watch today. I don't know how to do anything."
"Suit yourself," she says and leads the way out into the open desert.
My hesitance to hunt is not only because I dislike physical activity, but also because I feel sympathy for our prey. I didn't question it much when I was younger… but once I think I heard a Sandshrew say something before its neck was snapped. And I remembered that they are also living beings. I still eat the food Mum brings home, of course; it's just that if possible, I'd rather not be the one to kill.
Are the other dragon species like this, too? From what I've heard from the adults speaking, the Salamence sometimes come and steal some of our resources. Not that I've even seen one, but I still wonder how different they are from us. Apparently their childhood forms are also shelled, but instead of the desert they live in the mountains. Did they salvage human technology, too?
"Are you even watching?" Vie's voice once again disrupts my thoughts.
"I am!" Not. What's so interesting about hunting? As far as I know, Trapinch just make a sand trap and wait. Then you kill the thing that falls in. Nowhere near as interesting as pondering about stuff. Plus, it's all gonna be invalidated when we evolve. Which should be sometime soon.
She sighs. "I guess you're just not grown up enough. I hear that as we near our Vibrava form, we get a lot more energy!"
"At this rate I'd be expecting you to evolve tomorrow."
"Oh come on! We're only ten years old. The expected age of our evolution to Vibrava is, um…"
"Twelve," I recite from memory. "Though that's just the rough threshold, anyone can put it off further if they want to. And some can evolve even earlier if they try hard enough."
"I can't remember everything they teach us," she grumbles.
"It's so interesting, though! Like, did you know humans originally ruled over us but disappeared somehow? Or that right before we were born, it was a bunch of Hydreigon instead!"
"Yeah, but that doesn't sate my hunger."
"We can just let the adults hunt for us now. Aren't they a lot more efficient?"
Despite my protests, she continues her wait. I don't see how it would work with another Trapinch standing here with her, but I decide against questioning it. Because it's almost time to go.
Nothing is dumb enough to walk into Vie's trap and she digs out of it, somewhat unhappy. Trapinch have to be very patient to catch anything, or so I've heard.
"Don't be so down, it's time to learn about new things!" I say to her. Though she isn't as enthusiastic about it as me, she is still quite interested in it, and perks up slightly.
We approach one of the crudely crafted buildings towards the other side of the caves. There are only a few of those around, and though it's obvious that they didn't occur naturally, they don't stand out much either. The one I'm heading to is simply built off the edge of a rock with an overhead covering that blocks the sunlight, making it more comfortable to reside under during the peak hours. As we near it, we spot some other Trapinch playing with each other.
Personally, I don't think "playing" is an accurate word. Some others call it "battling" and that sounds more like it. Two of them are trying to bite each other, but with their thick shells it doesn't really go anywhere but tire them. I'd much rather dig through the sand as a pastime.
But soon enough, an elderly Flygon arrives, holding some human contraption. Just one look of her, and it's evident that she's not in her prime; one of her wings is tattered, her body full of little scars, and most noticeably, her skin greyer than most Flygon we see. She is one of the Flygon that teaches us things like our history and lore, rather than subjects related to hunting or combat or all those other things.
"Hi, Silex," I greet her.
"Nova," she replies with a nod. "Everyone, time to get ready!" she calls out with the steady voice of hers, calming the noisy Trapinch down almost instantly.
"Psst," I hear someone from beside me, but I realise it's just Hale coming to find Vie. Their family has a distinctively lighter coloured skin (or shell, in a Trapinch's case) so it's easy to recognise them on sight. "How's hunting?" he whispers.
"It was all right," Vie answers. "Didn't expect anything, anyway."
"Guys, listen to Silex," I tell them off.
Hale glances at me for a moment before deciding to listen and stops his chatter.
"So, today we are going to talk about legendary Pokémon," Silex begins as the centre of attention, standing amidst the crowd of Trapinch. "Does anyone know anything about it?" she asks us.
"Are they like really rare and really powerful?" someone suggests.
"I heard they are like a god!" another voice sounds.
"Close," Silex answers. "Truth is, there are a wide variety of legendary Pokémon. Some are rumoured to have much more potent powers than others. Sadly those with the most power are said to be the rarest, and we only have evidence of the weaker ones. But even these weaker ones are many times stronger than the strongest Flygon." She folds open her contraption and brings out what I think is a piece of paper. There is a trio of blue, yellow, and red birds that each has distinguishing features, though they are also similar in shape.
"These three are the legendary birds Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres. Just like all other Pokémon, legendary Pokémon often specialise in an element. These three have the power of ice, electricity, and fire respectively."
She brings out another picture of a trio, this time canine-like beasts. Next comes a weird golem thing that don't have faces, and after that some pixies. Unfortunately, she doesn't go into much detail about each group, but she probably needs to move fast if she wants to cover more. The other Trapinch have an impossibly short attention span.
"Psychics are all but extinct in Evitern, the land which we live in," she says after talking about the pixies. "They have strange abilities such as teleportation and mind-reading. It is no coincidence that many legendary Pokémon happen to possess these powers, because it makes them very dangerous.
"One example of psychic dragons is the Eon duo, Latias and Latios. It has been passed down that they watch over our dragon tribes and help us in time of need. They are really one species, with Latias being the female counterpart to Latios' male. Highly sensitive to emotions, they are said to…"
I gaze at the image of the two side by side. One is red-white, while the other is blue-white. Maybe it is a coincidence, but the picture seems to be positioned in a way that has them gazing at each other.
My thoughts are interrupted when she moves the picture away and goes onto some other pink thing. But I can't shake my mind off them. It's because they look like dragons, isn't it? I think I saw a trace of Flygon in them.
What must it be like to be a legendary Pokémon? They are more powerful than us dragons, who are already stronger than most. I wonder… what would it be like to hold so much power? I picture myself levitating through the air and sensing all the minds around me with empathy. Wouldn't it be majestic?
"That's it for today. There are a few others, but we are not so sure on their powers or existence." It only occurs to me that I have been zoning out since the Trapinch start scattering back into the desert.
I feel a tug on my foreleg. "Let's go play," Vie says.
"You mean battling? But I-"
"No, just pebble dodge!"
I sigh in relief. "Okay. But where do we get the pebble?"
"I have the one from last time at my cave. Wait here; I'll go get it."
I've always had a phobia to battling, and never saw the point in it. When we were younger, Vie convinced me to try once, but then crushed my leg in one bite. I couldn't walk for a few weeks. After that, I never consented to any form of fighting again.
In replacement, we invented a game called pebble dodge. We just fling pebbles at each other using our mouths and try to hit each other. Our shells are generally hard enough to withstand forces on this level. It's just that a Trapinch jaw is much more powerful. Maybe I would try battling as a Vibrava, but I can't say for sure.
A dull thud on my side catches my attention. "Let's go!" Vie shouts, and I realised she had just thrown the small pebble at me.
I pick it up carefully in my mouth. Moving my head to the side, I use the momentum and release my jaw's grip and let the pebble fly out. It hits Vie square on the head.
"Hey! I'm going to take revenge for that!"
When we were younger, our pebbles went all over the place, once even into an adult's face (Vie did that). But now that we're so used to the activity, our misses are rare. Trapinch are slow, after all. Even though I do see it coming, I can't move out of the way in time, and it hits me on my foreleg.
The exchange goes on for quite a while before one of her flings land just short of me. She grunts in dissatisfaction and crawls over. "You're so accurate! How do you manage to control both the power and direction so carefully?"
"Muscle memory. I've only played this game with you, so you should be good at it as well."
"But I haven't won in more than a week already!" she complains. "Come on, try again, I need to beat you."
I comply and nudge the pebble over to her, then crawl a few metres away, before the game begins again. Though there is a thrill every time I throw or get hit, I can't help but feel limited to a Trapinch's stature. My mind goes back the legendary Pokémon we've learned about. Their lives seem so interesting.
When I evolve, I'm going to try and find one.
The morning passes quickly as I win another few games of pebble dodge. "You're too impatient with your throws," I advise her. "Make sure you steady yourself before each one."
"I know, I know. I'm going to beat you!"
"Let's go drink first," I suggest. "It's getting a bit hot."
"Sure, let's go. What about the pebble, though?" she asks.
"Leave it here; we can find another one easily."
It annoys me when I see the few Flygon flying to and from the direction of the lake. They can get there within a matter of minutes, but we Trapinch have to crawl all the way. If we get really thirsty we would ask our parents to bring us there, but Mum is always hunting in the day.
"I wish I would evolve here and now," I grumble to Vie as we begin our trudge.
"It's really refreshing, I've heard," she answers. "All my brothers said amazing things about evolving. And they give me advice on how to quicken it, but…"
"I wish I had as many siblings as you did, too."
"It's not always a good thing! They tease me a lot. Sare even tries to pick me up from the ground as a Vibrava; I have to evolve before he turns into a Flygon, because then he actually can."
She stops for a moment.
"You know, we really should try and battle," she says. "I know you don't like it, but that makes us evolve faster."
"…I'd rather be stuck a Trapinch than risk a broken leg again."
"Maybe I am being too stubborn about not battling, but I really don't get it. It hurts. Why would you want to do something that hurts? I heard from the Flygon who teaches us science that pain is a mechanism that stops us from damaging our body. So why would you actively seek for it?"
"It makes us stronger. As we sustain more injuries in more battles, we gain more experience so we can triumph over real enemies. Like the Salamence."
That piques my curiosity. "What about the Salamence?"
"Oh, it's just that my oldest brother met one near the edge of the desert and almost got in a fight with it. They're pretty dangerous. Apparently they've been sighted quite a few times recently."
"Don't worry about it. There's no point for them to come bother us."
"You don't know that," she responds with hesitance. "What if they just… wanted some of the human stuff? I don't know."
"Look, even if they do come, we can't do anything. We're still Trapinch. So stop worrying about it."
The lake has only a few others of our species when we arrive. I see a few Vibrava at the far end and a Flygon circling in the sky. We walk atop the rocky banks to the edge, and take small sips of water. The wetness feels quite refreshing but I stay alert at the edge. I've heard of another Trapinch who fell in and almost drowned. I'm not sure if it's true, but they must have told that story for a reason.
The lake's clear water enables me to examine my own reflection. I don't look special, just the generic four legs on the ground with a big head, but the most noticeable parts you could use to tell me apart is the scar on my foreleg and this slightly eccentric pale blue spot to the left of my mouth that isn't obvious unless you look closely. My shell colour is quite generic, nowhere as near as pale as Vie and her family. You can instantly tell them apart from anyone, even at a distance.
"That rock looks pretty nice," Vie says from behind me. I follow her gaze and see a black stone that tapers to sharp points on both sides, contrasting with the grey, round ones beside it.
"Let's bring it home," I suggest and climb over to carry it in my mouth away from the lake into the sand. "Oh, but that means we can't talk on the way back…"
Just as I'm frustrated, I hear my name being called. A shadow briefly covers me and a Flygon lands right in front of me.
I look up to a familiar figure. Most prominently, there is a scar on her left wing. But even without that, I can tell who it is simply from the smell. "Mum? Why are you here?"
She lowers her head closer to me to respond. "It's time for lunch, so I went looking for you. Are you in the middle of something with Vie?" she asks and glances at my companion.
"It's all right," Vie responds. "We walk too slow anyway. Your mum should carry you back."
"Why not both of us?" I suggest, not wanting to leave her behind.
"It's too dangerous," Mum replies. "You can't grab onto my back, so I can only carry one of you in my arms. What's that black rock of yours?"
"Oh, I wanna bring it home because it looks cool," I tell her.
"Shouldn't you share with Vie?" Mum prompts.
"No, it's fine," Vie says. "Dad doesn't let any of us keep things because there's not enough space. Nova can take it."
"Thanks," Mum says for me. "I'll bring him to your place in the afternoon."
"Thank you, too," Vie replies. I've already taken the black stone in my jaw so I can't say anything, but Vie knowingly nods and my mother takes off with me in her arms. I close my eyes so I don't get dizzy from the speed.
When we arrive back at our cave, I put the rock near my sack of simple toys and books. Mum places a piece of meat in front of me and I bite into it.
"So, what did you do this morning?" Mum asks me as we eat.
"I played with Vie, mostly. Oh, and Silex taught us about legendary Pokémon. I really like them. I want to go and try find them!"
"That sounds an interesting plan."
"What about you, Mum? Isn't hunting every day boring?"
"Well, Nova, I have to contribute to this society so we can stay together and have the protection of the group," she explains.
"But why can't we just go off and try and find these legendaries?"
"It's too dangerous. I have you to take care of," she says as she places another piece of meat in front of me. "And I wouldn't have it any other way."
"What about Dad?"
She starts, and for a moment I'm a little bit scared, but then she starts speaking. "He… left for something important. I miss him, but I understand why. I thought he would be coming back, but…"
"…What happened?" I ask, curious about my unknown father. I know that my father left before I was even laid, but I have never asked Mum about it seriously. "Why would you become mates with someone who would leave you?"
She shakes her head. "I wouldn't know at the time. And… I didn't choose. It just happened. You see this scar of mine?" She flexes her wings and I see the familiar marking I use to recognise her from afar. "I got it when making the mistake to try and hunt Skarmory. I managed to kill it but not before it broke both my left wing and leg… I crawled around to the closest outcrop I could find. But when I entered, someone was already there. Your father, of course. I was scared because I thought he'd attack me, but he let me in warmly and treated my wound, bringing me food every day. …"
I envision the scenario in my mind. A male Flygon taking care of a young version of my mother. It gives off a strange feeling on the inside.
"Why were you scared of him, though?" I ask.
"He was bigger than me. Stronger than me. And…" she trails off again, and this time I decide to not pester her any further.
"Life isn't fair, Nova. We dragons already have it well, yet there seems to be so many sad things that happen." She sighs. "Don't worry about it for now. You should have fun." She pats me on the head.
I know she means well, but it feels a bit patronising. I want to think that I should take on whatever troubles my mother has, since she has been caring for me all my life. But she is right to some extent. As a Trapinch, I can't do much to help her.
"I'll continue hunting, then. Do you want a ride to Vie's place?" she asks as if nothing had happened.
As she picks me up, I close my eyes again, being uncomfortable in heights. Limiting my senses to only the warmth of my mother helps keep me calm. Very quickly, I feel her wings stop beating as we land.
"By the way, Nova? If you have some time to spare, practice some hunting. I'm not going to be with you forever."
"I… okay." Even she is telling me to hunt. Does that mean I should do it? But I don't want to…
"I'll go now. Have fun!" she says before taking back off into the sky.
"Hey, are you looking for someone?" a vaguely familiar voice sounds. I look behind me and see a Vibrava. "You one of Vie or Hale's buddies?"
"Vie." I feel a little intimidated by his casual tone.
"Gotcha. I'll call her." He heads back in and soon enough, I see Vie crawling out from the dark interior. Her cave seems really big.
"Finally!" She seems elated to see me. "Mum went to another family to eat lunch so I was the only female left. It was really annoying."
"Um… I'm not female, either."
"Yeah, but we can understand each other. Dad and my brothers were all talking about something that I didn't understand, and they were all laughing hysterically about it. And they didn't even explain it to me!"
"Adults know weird things," I say. "Let's not worry about that. What should we do now?"
"Try hunting?" she suggests.
Remembering what my mother said, I force out a "Fine."
So we crawl back out into the vast, empty desert. We need to get far enough, because the prey know to stay away from the outcrops. That's where their predator lives. Mum must be right. At least we never need to worry about being eaten. The other Pokémon have a much tougher life.
"Nova, who are you going to pick as your mate?" Vie suddenly asks.
"Well, I heard my brothers talking about finding a mate. Some wanted to find Flygon from Lyrl, or even the ones living in the wild. I heard that and thought it would be too bothersome. Why not pick someone that's actually close to you and knows you well? So, I think we should be mates when we grow up."
Mates? Well, I don't see why not. She's my best friend, and I don't know who else I'd choose anyway.
But before I can respond, everything suddenly becomes darker, just like when Mum came to find me. But there's no Flygon in sight. I blink, and realise that we're covered much larger shadows. The darkness goes away as quickly as it came, prompting me to look up.
A strange patch of red and blue are moving in the sky, towards the Shallows. It's only a few seconds before I realise that they are Salamence.