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About Literature / Hobbyist Andrew 'Justice' WilliamsonMale/United Kingdom Group :iconpokemonfreaks: pokemonfreaks
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Pokemon: Incarnation - Chapter 20 :iconpocket-fulla-shells:Pocket-fulla-shells 0 0
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Apropos of Nothing: Moon Man by BlameThe1st Apropos of Nothing: Moon Man :iconblamethe1st:BlameThe1st 10 40 Electioneering by wirebunny Electioneering :iconwirebunny:wirebunny 11 2 SJW feminism in a nutshell by Neetsfagging322297 SJW feminism in a nutshell :iconneetsfagging322297:Neetsfagging322297 292 98 Mac Tonight's Identity Theft by CountRamsely
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Pokemon: Incarnation

Chapter 20: No One Knows


Murphy suddenly landed on me, hugging me tightly, looking like he was about to cry from sheer terror. I felt his body tremble against mine as I looked into his wide, fearful eyes. I knew the poor guy had been through a lot, but I had never seen him in a state like this. His breathing was rapid as he held me tightly, but as the shock of him pouncing me like that, I noticed something he forgot to do.

“Murphy, get off me you fool and close the door!” I suddenly yelled as he suddenly snapped out of fearful stupor as he leapt off me to run to the door. I saw no one outside, thankfully, and as such, we were able to lock up the place without any interference. Well, crisis averted, I guess.

“Right...from the start...what the fuck happened Murphy?!” I said loudly. I could hear rapid footsteps coming from the hallways, which I hardly minded. It'll save me from having to re-explain things over and over again.

“That would be a very good question!” Charlie said, glaring at the two of us. “We agreed to seal ourselves in Basil, so why did you risk opening the doors? It could have been anyone on the other side!”

“It was clearly Murphy, so relax, and no: I'm not prepared to leave him out to die. Besides, from what I seen, whatever scared him, it didn't look like it was prepared to rush this building.” I said, trying to calm everyone down once they arrived. They all stared at us, but from what I could tell, only Audrey seemed happy to see him again. The rest were either ambivalent or flat out frowning at the heliolisk, including Melinda.

“Coming back here to save yourself then? I see how it is.” Melinda said, scowling slightly.

“I'm sorry guys. Please, I know I made a mistake by leaving you, but I won't ever make it again, I promise, so please, just let me back in! I can't be thrown out there again! Not with that thing out there!” Murphy said, dropping to his knees as he flat out grovelled in front of us.

“Charlie, if he really means to stay with us this time, then why turn him down? We need all the people we can get if we want to stop The Devourer.” She said, and while I was still more concerned about securing the safety of my friends, I found myself in agreement with her.

“I'm not sure...Murphy, tell us exactly what happened. I think we need to hear his story from start to finish before we pass any judgements.” Melinda said, still staring at Murphy.

“Well, I was staying in the hostel, but just as I was falling asleep, I heard this strange droning sound. I had no idea what it was so I took a look. Seems like someone else heard it too, since one of the housekeepers was also in the corridor. Then...then that's when it happened. I heard this horrible, horrible scream, like a voice tearing its own vocal chords, complimented by a chorus of screeches of every pitch imaginable. I saw them being turned into statues: the housekeeper and one of the guests. I leapt out the open window as I heard others fall to...whatever it was. I didn't see it chasing me when I ran here, so I don't think it followed me.” Murphy said, looking highly uncomfortable talking about it.

“And you never saw this attacker?” Nisbeth asked, looking a little more understanding than some of the others.

“I wasn't going to hang around and get a look: I could have died!” Murphy said as everyone thought about this briefly.

“I reckon the attacks could still be happening right now.” Nisbeth said, gesturing to the windows nearby. “I suggest boarding each and every one of these up and attack any stranger who gets inside.”

“And do absolutely nothing about them?” Melinda said, turning to look at him.

“Charlie's the boss now, so we follow his lead, and he said to stay here. We had this discussion before. Besides, no point in risking us getting killed more than we need to.” The toxicroak replied, sounding like he had no real desire to help any of the townsfolk. “Besides, you can't get back up after being turned into one of those statues. Just takes one wrong move to fall prey to something like that.”

“We stick with our plan. If humans are as important as The Guardian of Forever says they are when it comes to stopping The Devourer, then we can't afford to risk their safety more than we have to.” Charlie said as Melinda slowly walked up to him.

“And we're completely useless to that plan if we just stay here and hope we find an answer. If all you're going to do is bury your head in the sand and just stay cooped up here, then Basil and I might as well just leave and try to find a way to stop him without you. Besides, at this rate, there might not even be much of a planet to save if you keep up your current plans. What's the point in saving the world if all its inhabitants are dead? You're all counting so hard on Serge finding us here, but we don't even know if he's still alive or not, and from what Bibarel told us, he's just being pursued by The Devourer himself, so he'll probably just end up leading that monster right to us.” Melinda said, queuing in groans of disapproval from the others.

“We've been over this Melinda...we're all staying here, and that includes you.” Charlie said, looking like he was itching for another drink, his eyes occasionally darting towards the storage cupboard.

“Being kept here against my will then? I see how it is...might as well get some more sleep then.” She said and slowly walked off to her room. The others soon followed suit, though I stayed behind to make sure Murphy was ok. He was visibly still rattled by the experience, his arms and head drooping slightly as he shivered.

“I...I can't sleep. I need to stay awake. I don't think I lead it here but...but I can't be sure.” He said, his voice still trembling somewhat.

“I'll stay awake with you then.” I said, putting a comforting arm around his back. “If you did lead it here, I can't expect you to fight it alone.”

“Thanks Basil, though I'm wondering...how come you're being so, well, nice to me?” He asked me. I smiled as I dragged a stool over to sit on.

“It's what friends are for, right? We been through a lot together in such a short time. We'll get through this shit one way or another.” I said as Murphy got a stool for himself.

“You know, we could have just walked over to the stools instead of dragging them here.” He said, smiling slightly. I chuckled slightly at this, though Murphy's mild grin faded as soon as it arrived.

“Your sister though...she hates me, doesn't she.” Murphy asked me, and I wasn't sure how to respond. I knew that she wasn't on good terms with him, but I somehow doubted that.

“Listen, the reason why she might be annoyed with you, be it justified or not, is, well, think about it from her perspective. This isn't her world, yet she's still fighting to save it. You, however, just want to try and live your life as you originally wanted to, even though the enemy is at the gates. Trust me, I get it. I'd honestly love to have just lived with Melinda and work towards winning the, uh, tournament, for next year. This is terrifying for me too, but we'll ultimately have to face all this together. Whether we find a way to return and live in my world or we find a way to stop The Devourer...well, we'll have to do one of these things. From what I can tell, that alien has become a lot more threatening now, so we can't just hide and ignore it on this planet.” I said, sighing sadly. Why couldn't this have happened to people that aren't my sister and I?

“Think I'll ever be able to be an actor?” He asked me, still looking at the door.

“Well, might be very difficult with The Devourer in this world. Still, we can make a start by boarding everything up. Regardless what we end up doing, I'd rather not be killed in my sleep.” I said, looking into storage to see if there was anything. They had plenty of nails, but had a shortage of planks. Still, might as well do what we can with them.

The hammer was huge for my small body, so I had to use both my arms to haul that heavy chunk of metal over to the nearest window. After Murphy helped me drag everything else over, I strained my mind to hold one of the nails in place to Murphy could swing at it with the hammer. By now, I had achieved a small level of competence with my psychic abilities, so I was able to make this work. Still, every time Murphy struck the head of the nail, it send small shocks throughout my body, leaving me in a slightly wobbly state after we put the first two planks in place.

“Heh, sorry Basil.” Murphy said after taking an surprisingly big swing at a nail, causing me to visibly shudder upon impact.

“It's fine, it's fine...” I said, feeling a little woozy and in need of rest. “I'm gonna need an oran berry or two in order to get through the next day...”

“Think boarding the place up would be use against The Devourer?” Murphy asked me as I shrugged.

“Might delay it long enough for the others to get down here. Besides, I've not heard anything, so I don't think whatever tried to kill you chased you here after all.” I said, peeking between the tiny gap between the large, heavy double doors of the building. Couldn't see anyone on the path leading to this place. Maybe whatever it was that attacked the hostel was going after easier targets. I couldn't see into the main part of town from here, nor could I hear any commotion, though we were a fair distance from the town centre, so who could tell. Hope there'd be others who saw what happened and lived to tell the tale so we could get some answers should we ever leave this place.

“I still don't feel safe Basil, I'm going to stay awake.” He said, as I instinctively looked round for a clock. Seems like they hadn't invented them yet, as all I found so far was the occasional crooked sundial, though from what I heard about New Australia, maybe those guys had advanced enough to invent a similar device.

“Who knows how long we'll be sitting here for though.” I said, sitting beside him and staring at the door. It was still bolted shut real good, but I knew that even some regular pokemon could probably blast it down, so I had no doubt that it'd only slow The Devourer down for maybe a few seconds at most. Still, maybe that's all we'd need to alert everyone and get out of here. Maybe.

A couple of hours later, Murphy took a couple of apples for each of us from the kitchen alongside filling up our flasks with water. Hardly a meal, but it'd do for now. They really should have had night watch rotations going on here, since I felt my body cry out for rest. The flaming torch above us hanging from the ceiling was starting to dim, and neither of us were tall enough to replace it short of some serious stool stacking.

“So, how's your night vision?” Murphy asked as I shrugged.

“Better than what it was when I was a human I guess, but I don't feel like being in the dark.” I said, seeing if the store cupboard had a ladder. There was one, but it wouldn't do either of us very good. Only useful for resting it against walls and couldn't stand on its own, and upon closer inspection, it seemed to have a nasty case of woodworm.

“Sorry Murphy, we're out of luck unless you want to risk either leaping up and throwing more wood in there. Personally, I don't think I want to risk burning this place to the ground. Clearly, this is a job for Charlie or Jirachi.” I said as the light slowly faded around us.

“Still not sleeping.” Murphy said as I sat down again on my stool.

“When I get home again to a proper bed, I'm going to flat out hibernate...” I said as the flame above me faded to embers. We didn't talk as much, as we both sleepily sat there, gazing at the door and listening out for anything odd. A short while later, we thought we heard something growl, but it just turned out to be Charlie snoring away to himself. Thankfully, it didn't last long, though the dead silence we were left with felt tense to say the least.

The growing darkness crept up on us slowly, the torch barely producing the faintest of glows as it became hard to see from one side of the large entrance hall to the other. I had no idea what time of night it was by now. Could have been anywhere between two and five in the morning for all knew, and the lack of a proper clock and no sun to reference made this night feel rather disorienting. Obviously, it didn't help that some ruckus and death took place in town during the evening, and sadly, I could never forget about that sort of danger.

“...It's here...” I suddenly heard Murphy whisper to me, causing my body to freeze. I couldn't here or sense a thing, however, and I couldn't even decide how to react to that. Was Murphy just hearing things? Was this some kind of a cruel prank? Unlikely. I slowly turned to Murphy and shrugged slowly, trying to indicate that I didn't hear anything without making even the quietest of noises. I wanted to believe that whatever it was couldn't see us in the dark, but I knew of plenty of species of pokemon with impeccable night-vision, not to mention the many other species that could find us even without sight.

My body tensed so hard I thought all the muscles in my body were about to lock up tight. Maybe this was all useless, maybe we should hide, and yet for as long as way stayed utterly motionless for, neither of us heard anything else. Seconds became minutes, and it sure felt like those minutes were becoming hours, yet we never heard or saw anything that was out of place. Was it all over? Or was whatever it was that Murphy heard still out there, waiting for us to wander somewhere where we really don't want to be.

“...What was it?” I whispered back after what felt like an agonizing eternity.

“I heard that strange droning groan back at the hostel.” He said quietly next to my ear. “I thought it was looking for me, but...maybe it's just leaving town.” I half expected to hear the sound of glass shattering and wood snapping and splintering all over the floor at this moment, imaging some infernal creature bursting into the room, yet it never happened. Just silence after more silence.

“...Think it's The Devourer?” Murphy said to me after even more silent minutes. No clue why he expected me to have any idea, though I could deduce two things from this: Either it wasn't that alien menace, or it was no longer pursuing Serge. I gave Murphy another soundless shrug and turned to look at the door again. Hopefully we could look at the town from Jirachi's room to try and assess what happened.

My thoughts on this suddenly ceased when I heard footsteps from upstairs. Murphy noticed them too, as he slowly pushed himself off his stool. Now, odds are that alien terrors wouldn't make such average footsteps, so I believed it might have just been one of the club members. I wasn't going to bet my life on it though, so I didn't move. Murphy seemed too terrified to stay still and listen as he tiptoed towards the stairs, peeking round the corner. The faint glow of a distant flame burning round the corner slowly started to illuminate the hallways, and as unlikely as this was, the fact it was a regular, orang glow and not that ominous, pale sickly green glow that Melinda could conjure.

“...It's just Audrey, Basil.” Murphy said, making more sound than he did for what seemed like the last few hours.

“Can't sleep you two?” She said, carrying a small flaming torch as she walked towards us.

“Someone's got to keep watch for any unwelcome visitors, though I thought Charlie should have assigned someone for that. We even boarded up a couple of windows for you.” I said politely as she seemed pleased to hear this.

“Thank you. I'm just off getting something to eat. Hard to sleep knowing that something's out there.” She said as Murphy quietly spoke up.

“I thought I heard that same thing that attacked me in the hostel a short while ago. Maybe it was nothing, but...” He said, trailing off.

“Well, we should stick together and make sure nothing ambushes us. I didn't see any sign that anything managed to get inside, but it helps to not take any unneeded chances.” She said as we accompanied her to the kitchen. “Also, level with me: Do you think Melinda's going to just run off? She doesn't seem to be too happy around us anymore.”

“She'll do whatever she thinks is right.” I said plainly as I got myself a cup of water.

“If she leaves us, will you go with her?” She asked as I nodded slowly.

“Wherever she goes in this world, so too will I. If push comes to shove, if you want to keep ahold of the two humans, then you may end up having no choice but to follow us. Still, I'll encourage her to stay in line the best I can.” I said as Audrey's smile faded slightly.

“Look, we need at least one human, surely. I don't know the details of The Guardian's plan, but maybe we don't need both of you.” She said as I raised one of my eyebrows.

“What do you mean by this?” I asked as she didn't seem to know how to phrase her next words.

“If she does run off, would you at least consider staying-” She said before I firmly cut her off.

“No.” I replied decisively.

“We could all die without you though!” She said, sounding rather shocked.

“You're sounding like Serge. Trust me: from what I know, none of the humans asked to be recruited. Now my sister; she's more on board with trying to fight The Devourer than I am. You seem intelligent enough: can you figure out what you have to do to keep us both with you guys?” I said as she looked taken aback, though she seemed to understand.

“...I get it now.” She said, nodding respectfully at me before leaving the kitchen and walking upstairs.

“Might seem a little cold, but I respect their efforts.” I told Murphy after she left. “Besides, if we want to make real progress with this, then the least I can do is guide the higher-ups in the right direction...don't give me that look Murphy, you wanted to hide from all this, remember?”

“I guess I was…Basil, promise you won’t leave me to die.” He said, making me feel rather uncomfortable.

“Now I can’t promise anything. I’m hardly a tough person, and you can fight way better than I can, but like I said before, just stay with me and…and hopefully this will all work out in the end.” I said, smiling nervously. “Sorry, I really have no idea what I’m doing here, and from the sounds of things, none of us really do.”

Eventually light started seeping into the building as the sun slowly started to rise above the horizon. I’d normally respect Jirachi’s privacy, but I needed a good look through that telescope to assess the damage. I couldn’t stand not knowing, as impulse drove me up the stairs with the tired looking Murphy following right behind me. Jirachi didn’t stir whatsoever as Murphy helped me carry the smaller of the two telescopes to the window overlooking Newer Orleans.

“See anything strange?” Murphy asked me quietly as I shook my head.

“Gimme a chance to align this hefty thing properly.” I said, standing on top of a few thick books to look through the telescope once I had it pointing towards the town. Searching for the hostel was rather tricky, but after a couple of minutes of awkwardly moving the telescope, I eventually found it. One lonely looking black statue of a pokemon stood there just outside the entrance. Seemed like this victim was caught fleeing that creature, as it was clearly in mid-stride. Hardly the sort of thing that would attract customers. Scanning all around town, I could barely see anyone on the streets, though it wasn’t totally deserted. Big, hefty pokemon were walking around in pairs, and I recognized a couple of them as part of the local law enforcement. All things considered, there wasn’t too much of a rampage, though after my long search was done, I did spot two other victims, both of them not too far away from the hostel.

“…It could have been worse. I, ahem, ‘only’ spotted three victims. It wasn’t the massacre it could have been. Still, there could be far more behind and inside the buildings.” I said as Murphy still looked sad to hear that.

“If I was born as a slower pokemon...” He said as I got down off the books.

“But you weren’t, and as a result, you’re alive. That’s what’s important here.” I replied, trying to comfort him. “Maybe it won’t be too dangerous to leave this building if we absolutely had to. Still, I’m not exactly in the mood to.”

“The others will be awake soon. Let’s wait for them in the hall.” Murphy said as I followed him down and waited for the others to arrive. Half an hour later, all seven of us were here, wondering what was going to happen.

“Before we start and make any decisions, I’d like to say that we’ll need more supplies if we’re going to board this place up properly, and that while there were at least three victims in last night’s attack, there didn’t seem to be a complete massacre either.” I said to Charlie, looking like he actually wasn’t hungover for once.

“Just…let me have a chance to go through the mail first.” He said groggily as he briefly flicked through the letters.

“Is there anyone other than Serge or Bibarel that could help us? Anyone else found any humans?” Melinda asked. Charlie kept his eyes firmly glued to the letters as his eyes quickly scanned them.

“…Yes, actually, though he was really reckless putting this information in a letter. Could have been intercepted by the Pale Communion. Anyway, one of my friends in Fremdesland found a strange vigoroth who claims to be human, going by the name of Duke Hackett. Are two names a thing for humans?” Charlie suddenly asked, though I was taking more interest that the American champion had been found.

“He was always a weird guy. Very creative trainer though…er, yeah, we almost always have at least two names. My complete full name’s actually Basil Harold Squire for example. Never got around officially removing my middle name after what my father done…” I said, briefly getting distracted by past events.

“Duke’s safe, right? We should go see him. We should get on a ship today and go to Fremdesland.” Melinda said firmly.

“No, we’re staying here. We already decided this together.” Charlie said, and I could tell Melinda was about to lose patience as she started breathing deeply through her nose.

“What if he knows something we don’t? Can I see the letter?” She said, holding out her hand. Charlie grumbled and gave it to her as she snatched it out of his hand quickly. “Hrm, I think I’ll read this out loud, so everyone can hear. I trust you’re ok with this.” Melinda continued, not giving Charlie much of a choice.

“Guten Tag! Hello! Charlie, I heard the Pale Communion was dealt a serious blow back in Broussard, so I deemed this letter safe to send.

Things have been getting worse here. New Zürich is still untouched, but the surrounding towns and villages all over the continent have been seeing frequent attacks. -blank- is a ghost town now since everyone fled. The mayor of New Zürich has become totally paranoid: No one is allowed to leave or exit that place, though I’m not sure I really blame him for that policy.

There’s also been talks of decriminalizing Z attacks here. The council has seized all of the crystals needed to pull one off for the past fifty years, and since they’re pretty much never found outside of Fremdesland, not many people know much about all this. Thing is, these ‘things’, since I’m not even convinced that they’re even pokemon like you and I, are already a huge threat with their ability to turn us into black statues within split-seconds. I don’t think them getting a hold of some Z crystals will make them much more dangerous, but they could provide us with a weapon to help fight these monsters. Still, they seem to operate covertly, hence why some people think that it’s a waste of time. Wouldn’t hurt to try by this stage though, since I can’t many answers.

Still, one help we could have is in the form of a human. While the Pale Communion were never that big here, they did make locals who want to masquerade as these otherworldly beings suddenly turn silent, so I believe he’s being genuine. Although he doesn’t speak in my native tongue, he speaks your language. Another reason why I’m glad my parents forced me to learn it!

As for Mr Duke Hackett, it doesn’t seem like he asked to be here, nor in his current vigoroth body, so I’m assuming that strange typhlosion brought them here against their will. He also said that during their brief conversation he had with The Guardian is that he was told that humans could be resistant to The Devourer’s many ways and methods of bringing us ruin, and that since a human helped drive The Devourer off a very long time ago, multiple humans should make it even more likely we can drive it off this planet again. Might want to ask Audrey about all that stuff since she was researching that sunken continent.

It’ll be risky making the trip across to me now, but we should meet up. Maybe we can have a shot at trying to find a solution to all this, with or without The Guardian of Forever. If not, update me on what’s been happening with you. Found any humans?

Sincerely, your good friend, Heinrich Rhyperior.”

Given how long the letter was and the pokemon’s large handwriting, Melinda had to go through several sheets of paper, each being rather crumpled. My sister looked up at the others as we gauged their reaction. Obviously, I could tell what Melinda wanted, and nothing short of physical restraint would hold her back now. As for the others, they didn’t seem as enthusiastic. Nisbeth looked like he wanted to stay right where he was, and Murphy looked borderline devastated at the idea of being forced to go on another escapade.

“Duty calls, Charlie. We know what we have to do.” Melinda said, handing back the letter. “Unless, of course, you want to let everyone around you down.”

“But we all agreed…” Charlie said, looking uncomfortable. I appreciate that he gave it a shot, but it just seemed like leadership just wasn’t his thing during tough times. I could see him glancing at the kitchen, clearly wanting to dive into his booze stash.

“That was before we know about your friend and Duke. Now, we have some actual leads. Duke, and these Z crystal things, whatever they are. Surely they can help us.” Melinda replied. Of all people, Jirachi seemed most on board with this, seeming to be more awake than his usual self.

“Serge could show up here any moment though.” Charlie said as Melinda rolled her eyes.

“So we have one person stay here to keep watch. If we stay around Heinrich’s place, then the person that stays behind will know where to send him. I’m going to be very straight forward with you here: I’m going to Fremdesland with or without you. Your choice isn’t really whether you come or stay, but more like whether you want to risk having your two humans go unprotected to foreign lands.” She said, folding her arms, and frowning slightly at the others.

Guess she was taking after me a bit, strong-arming them into compliance. They didn’t seem too determined to try and keep her here either, so it seems like Melinda won this argument. I thought this was a risky move to be sure, but given we couldn’t even be sure whether Serge was alive or not, maybe we didn’t have much choice.

“I wouldn’t put too much faith in those Z crystals. I’ve heard they end up killing its user about one in ten times, hence why they were banned.” Audrey said, which seemed a bit hypocritical, given I seen her use a mega stone before. Regardless how dangerous they were, we could sure use a hail-Mary if we end up in dire straits.

“We can find out more once we’re there. Regardless, I’ll be getting packed and ready to go.” She said, picking up a leaflet by the entrance. “According to this, next ship will be leaving in an hour. Hopefully, they’ll still be running. Oh, and before you ask whether it’s even safe to leave the building, if it’s too dangerous to even step outside by now, then, realistically, The Devourer’s already won, so we don’t have as much to lose as you might expect.” She said as she walked down to her room.

“Basil, what’s gotten into her? She’s been acting strange recently.” Audrey asked. “She wasn’t like this when we first found her.”

“She’s many things, but patient isn’t one of them. I don’t think you can talk her out of this, so in many respects, she may as well end up leading this whole affair now, and, as a result, that kind of makes me the unofficial number two.” I said, hopefully not coming off as smug. I really didn’t feel that way at all, and I was happy under Charlie’s experience in this world, but I guess that ampharos didn’t know that he’d be signing up for something as crazy as this.

“Please Basil, if she ends up insisting on doing something stupid, do everything you can in talking her out of it.” Charlie asked, half-begging with me.

“Sure, but as you can see, this is a bit of a lost cause. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to just hunker down here, but she does have some fair points.” I said, looking at any fliers that could give me some information about Fremdesland.

“I swore I’d look after you Basil, but I reckon your sister’s making that mighty hard. Just so you know, if you’re going to Mistet Orkenen, you’re going without me. Some things in life are even worse than The Devourer.” Nisbeth said, looking a little pale when he said the name of that continent.

“Nisbeth…that name sounds a little native to that desert continent.” Audrey said as he shook his head.

“Parents thought they were being clever by naming me something foreign. Still, it wasn’t the maelstrom of death it’s known to be back in those days. Got too used to this name to end up ever changing it.” Nisbeth replied, looking very uncomfortable.

“Well, I guess we need to pick someone to stay behind.” Charlie said, looking at us. “I guess Basil will be going with his sister, so that leaves five of us.”

“Wait, Audrey was studying archaeological finds, wasn’t she? And didn’t it say in the letter that Duke found out that The Devourer had been to this planet before? It’s obvious! Audrey stays, continues studying stuff from the museum, and keeps an eye out for Serge!” I said, though Audrey herself didn’t seem to want to.

“There was no mention of anything of the sort on any of the museum pieces. Maybe it was from a different time. Besides, we probably want the strongest to stay behind in case something undesirable gets too curious about what happens within these walls, and that’s certainly not me. That’d be a toss-up between Jirachi and Charlie.” I eyed Audrey curiously after she said this.

“I saw you crushing those Pale Communion cultists though. Seriously, you’re really fucking tough, and trust me, I know all about those things.” I said as Audrey reached into her bag and brought out the translucent mega stone.

“I’m only particularly good in combat with this, and it takes about seven seconds for it to complete my transformation. By that point, I’ll already be dead if my assailant has that black statue power.” She said, as Charlie seemed to agree.

“While you’re tougher than you think you are, I’d say you’re the weakest fighter between the three of us.” Charlie said, gesturing to himself, Audrey and Jirachi. “Heinrich wants to see me in particular, so I guess that makes Jirachi the one to stay.” I can’t say I really liked this decision too much, but it could have been worse.

“Don’t worry, I’ll know if someone breaks in even if I’m sleeping. I know that Basil and Murphy went to use my telescope, but I decided not to bother them.” He said, grinning at me slightly.

“Well, if that’s sorted, then we should all get ready. If Melinda’s dead set on this, then I don’t suppose we have much choice.” Charlie said, predictably grabbing several bottles of alcohol for the journey. Murphy didn’t seem to mind too much either way, since we’d soon be away from that strange creature that passed the Excursion Club headquarters.

“I seriously hope you know what you’re doing Mel’.” I said, stuffing what little possessions I owned into my backpack.

“I hope so too Basil. Not going to lie, I wish we had a more decisive group. They’ll never get rid of The Devourer like this.” She said, as she put the last book inside her large bag. “I’m guessing the natives don’t really like me anymore by now.”

“Not particularly.” I responded simply.

“Well, they’ll learn to like me once we get to the bottom of this.” She said, and sighed somewhat sadly. “You wanted to stay here, didn’t you.”

“Kind of…”

“Sorry for dragging you along with me, but, really, almost no where’s safe now. The Devourer or one of its soldiers would probably find us before Serge did if we just camped here.” She said, looking a little frustrated. “I guess it’s just that I’m used to a little more…professionalism among my colleagues and staff.”

“Pretty hard to be professional about finding a way to kill a foe this deadly. All this time here, and we’re still not really sure what we’re up against.” I said, lifting my bag, and putting it on my back.

“I’m sure you can figure it out.” Melinda said as I turned to look at her.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Well, between the seven of us, you’re the most likely. I’ll be honest, I don’t think the five natives are going to do it, and you always figured out the ways for me to win my battles.” She said as I gave a hollow laugh

“Pokemon, alien monstrosities, what’s the difference?” I said as she followed me upstairs as we met up with the others in the entrance hall. Charlie arrived shortly afterwards, looked at Melinda and gestured towards the door.

“Care to lead us to the docks?” He said with a slight bitterness in his voice.

“Of course!” My sister replied as we made our way through the rather empty streets. There were a few pokemon walking around, though they seemed to be on edge, and not a single one was walking alone.

“Think we should check out the hostel?” I asked the others.

“We’re taking a big enough risk leaving the building. I’d rather not poke my nose into them more than we have to.” Nisbeth replied, sounding a little grumpy. “Besides, we’d probably just see a bunch of statues.”

“Say, isn’t that one of the local policemen?” Melinda asked as Charlie nodded.

“Excuse me sir, notice anything odd about the attacks last night?” She asked as the large tyrantiar half sighed and half growled, likely being fed up with the constant questioning.

“We counted seven victims in total. One of the attackers was killed, thankfully, by yours truly. There was at least one more of them, a raichu to be exact. There may have been more, but we can’t be sure, though one of my colleagues did mention about hearing…something.” He said as Melinda nodded politely. She thanked us and after another couple of minutes, we arrived at the docks. Unlike the town, they looked a little busier than normal. Likely people wanting to flee the town after the seven were unfortunately killed.

“I don’t suppose there was any way to reduce the number of victims, was there.” Melinda said quietly to Charlie.

“Not likely. By the time we would have arrived, they’d probably have either ran off or gotten killed by the law enforcers.” Charlie said, somewhat sadly.

“We’d likely just end up adding ourselves to the pile of corpses, er, statues.” Nisbeth chimed in as we got in line for the next ship to Fremdesland. The que seemed kind of long, which made us wonder whether there was enough space for us Seems like one ship sailed each day from here, one going to Fremdesland, the other to Conviction according to the information bulletin, so if it was all full, then we’d be spending another day here. Thankfully, that ended up not being the case as we were allowed on the rather crowded ship. I was a little worried about whether it would sail well or not, but after a good couple of hours out at sea, my concerns were soon eased.

Low, quiet murmurs were rather constant on the ship, obviously about last night’s events and how people wanted to get away from them or return to their families in their homeland. They didn’t seem very bright, given it sounded like Fremdesland was getting hit just as hard, and since New Zürich had completely isolated itself from the outside world, family reunions would be rather difficult for some.

Looking around, I wondered if one of these travellers could be in league with The Devourer. It was certainly possible, as I noticed no distinct physical features on that mienshao back in Conviction that made it seem particularly odd. It’s technically possible that even some of those who I was working with could be one of its soldiers, though it seemed incredibly unlikely. I believe I had been alone with each and every one of them, so there’d have been opportunities for them to kill me if they really weren’t who they said they were. From what I could tell, it didn’t seem likely that they could turn more than one person into a black statue at once, and it took a few seconds of concentration to pull off that awful skill, so all things considered, an attack aboard this ship seemed very unlikely.

“Aren’t you a magnet for disaster.” Nisbeth said to me from behind with a cheeky grin.

“Hardly my fault though, isn’t it.” I replied, playing along with him.

“Well, you dragged me away from my home. In hindsight, probably a good thing since I’m less isolated, but given what happened last night, that might not matter too much anymore.” He said, sounding worried.

“I’d say ‘don’t worry’, but forgoing fear entire never worked out well for some of the people I knew back home. So, uh, be afraid, but don’t let yourself get too miserable over this. Like I said, I’ll make sure we’ll end up safe and sound.” I said as he smiled slightly.

“I already promised you that. Just don’t make it harder than it needs to be, and never go to Mistet Orkenen. The Pale Communion practically run that place from the last I heard of that shithole.” He said. Really hope Melinda would have no intentions of ever going there, but the way things are shaping up in this world, I couldn’t be sure. Nisbeth’s protective nature over me still felt a little strange though. I only assumed it was out of some sense of duty, but it was mutually beneficial, so I wasn’t going to complain.

The journey there was thankfully uneventful, but that creeping unease never left anyone in this ship. For all we knew, The Devourer could be on Fremdesland, and coming here with Melinda could be the decision that ends all seven of us. Mountains started creeping out of this patch of fog we entered and stood there like great pillars, reaching up to the sky. I was rather glad to leave this cramped boat as we walked onto dry land. The gravelly ground jabbed my feet slightly, but it seemed like the skin on my soles were getting quite tough, as it didn’t feel painful to walk on the pointy stones. The air around us felt a tad chilly as a cool breeze ruffled the fur on my back. Nice, perfect weather for me. Reminds me of back home in York.

“Now this is quite pretty…This is Südreiches, right?” Melinda said, looking up at the rest of the small port town.

“Indeed. Anyway, we shouldn’t waste too much time. Heinrich lives on the edge of Thaln…eh, I’m not good with Fremdeslandian names.” Charlie said as Melinda looked at a map of the continent on a board to her left.

“Thalnacht?” She asked.

“Yeah, that’s the place. Not a long walk, just about five hours.” Charlie responded, and after a quick bite to eat in a small café, we set out.

“Food’s better here, not going to lie.” I said quietly, thinking of the nice cake I had. I probably should have eaten something healthier, but it looked so delicious with the jam and chocolate coverings. Just thinking about how it looked made me swallow my excess saliva. Didn’t taste quite as good as it looked, but it was definitely good enough for me. Hoped we could try more of their desserts later during any down time.

“Look at this scenery Basil!” Melinda said, looking all around her as we soon found ourselves by pretty, steep little hills. “This so reminds me of Switzerland when we had that three-day hike through the valleys and hills.”

“Wonder why they made the capital ‘New Zürich’ then.” I said, laughing playfully at her. Regardless, walking along the lakeside path while being sheltered from the wind by the surrounding mountains really made it feel I was back in that adventurous and fun hike. Absolutely nothing went wrong during those few days, and while it was foolish to believe so, I guess there was always a chance that nothing wrong will happen here either.

The water beside us seemed even clearer than Lake Lucerne, its clarity only matched by the sky above us. Good thing the fog cleared up, else we wouldn’t be able to enjoy such a view. Nisbeth and Murphy looked utterly stunned, as if they had walked into a fairy tale. Of course, I can tell them how it really feels to be inside one of those! The trees, while having strangely shaped ferns that seemed rather disorderly, lined themselves almost perfectly together as they raced up the mountain, giving way to shrubs, grasses, rock, and, on the highest mountains, snow.

“It’s just like that painting in school…” Murphy said, slowing his pace to gaze around the picturesque valley.

“Starting to really remember why I dreamt of being an explorer in the first place.” Nisbeth said, grinning widely. “Thanks for paying for the trip over here! I’d never have been able to afford it myself.”

“Just remember why we’re here.” Charlie said, taking out his bottle and taking a fairly large drink. Not sure whether it was booze or just water, but knowing him, it was probably the former. “Though I see what you mean.”

“Wish we went mountaineering here more often.” Audrey said as we eventually took a short break to eat some snacks.

“I overheard you two comparing this place to some other location called Switzerland.” Audrey said as she ate a small sandwich. It looked really strange seeing her eat with that gigantic mouth on her head, and put me off my food quite a bit as I watched it slaver all over the place.

“See how the capital’s New Zürich? Well, regular Zürich is in a similar looking place back on Earth called Switzerland. From what I seen of the map of this planet though, New Australia is nothing like Australia. Yours is a big tundra, ours is a bit of a desert. I’d be happy to help you fill in some of the historical gaps of this place and give a few ideas what went on when these previous humans found this place. Still, makes me wonder if the human was Swiss or a German who thought this place looked like Switzerland.” I said, rambling on slightly while looking away from Audrey. It wasn’t disrespectful, but the sight of the sky-scraping mountains was a lot prettier than a mawile demolishing the rest of the sandwich.

“If we have any down time, I’d love to go over this with you!” She said, and shortly afterwards, we were soon on our way again. The mountains started thinning slightly as we left the lake behind us, and after spending a couple of hours on a mountain pass, we were greeted with the sight of a town nestled comfortably between three hills.

“See that large, pointed house just at the left edge of Thalnacht? That’s where we’re going. I just hope Heinrich and Duke can help us though, since we’re kind of exposed out here.” Charlie said, glancing at Melinda.

“I doubt this will be a total waste of time, so just relax a bit, would you?” Melinda said as Charlie took another swig.

“What do you think I’m doing right now?” Charlie said, gesturing to his bottle. “I’ll share some with you if you need it.”

“I’m quite all right thanks.” She said, and before long, we were knocking on the door of the rhyperior’s house. About three seconds later, said rhyperior opened the door with a surprised but friendly look on his face.

“Ah, it’s been to long Charlie!” He said as the large pokemon gave the ampharos a tight hug. “Please, come in! Place is messy since you didn’t warn me you were coming, so please no complaining about that.” The place didn’t seem to be the most well looked after, but given there were a fair number of us, I’m glad it was spacious.

“Right, good to see you too, but I’m more worried about The Devourer.” Charlie said, sitting down on a large sofa.

“Of course, Charlie, of course. Hey, Duke, friends of mine are here! Don’t worry, they won’t kill you!” The rhyperior called out and laughed as a vigoroth walked in quickly.

“Ah, you must be the human that was mentioned in the letter!” Audrey said as she gestured to Melinda and I. “Well, you’ll probably be glad to be reunited with some of your own kind.”

“Melinda and Basil Squire.” My sister said as she went over to shake his hand, being careful not to cut herself on Duke’s claws.

“Oh, shit! I heard the news about you vanishing just after I ‘won’ the finals back in the states! My opponent didn’t show up since he didn’t want to risk suffering the safe fate, but when I heard that it was you and not Omar that was taken here, I realised it might not have mattered!” Duke said, twitching slightly as he shook my hand. “Uh, you have no idea what it’s like to never be able to sleep. It’s…well, I can’t describe it to someone who’s not a vigoroth.”

“We’ve all had a lot to learn. Still, seems like we all got lucky to run into good people here.” I said as felt my face sag with sadness slightly. “…Not all of us were, though.”

“Heinrich’s a bit odd, but he’s friendly enough.” Duke said, constantly pacing. “Oh, before you tell me your story and shit, I’ll tell you something Heinrich and I found. I’d say it’d blow your mind, but I don’t think that’s possible anymore given what happened to us, haha!”

“Well, I don’t think we’re in a hurry.” Melinda said as we sat next to each other, though from the way Duke was acting, I don’t think he knew what seats were even used for.

“Heinrich was trying to figure out how to get into New Zürich, but neither of us are exactly stealthy, and they sealed the border real good. You, Basil…you might be small enough. Anyway, Entei…” He said, looking like he was having trouble collecting his thoughts.

“Kind of a non-sequitur there.” I said as Duke put up his hand.

“You try thinking straight with a heart that always pumps this fast! …About Entei, the two of us saw him with Raikou, though they didn’t see us. That rhyperior didn’t wanna tussle with them. Not that it mattered since Raikou saw us anyway and told us to buzz off. Crazy, isn’t it? You see two mythological creatures and you just kind of don’t care too much. I mean, this out of body experience will forever ruin all other surprises. That big dog seemed to hate me though, and if I was alone, I might have finally been able to get some sleep. He seemed to think I was one of them. I’ve not seen any of them yet though.” He said, his rapid speech getting more and more erratic as he went on.

“If it’s ‘them’, then we’ve actually killed one before.” I said as he leapt up in the air in surprise.

“Woah! Did you just smash it on the head or something?” He asked as I showed him the weapon.

“Just did what humans do best: make stuff.” I said as he looked at it closely.

“Well, remember when I said we wanted to sneak into New Zürich? Well, if you think that’s a weapon, wait until you see one of these!” He said, bringing out an odd red, ruby-like crystal from his bag. “Never seen one of these babies in action before, but from the tales I heard, these things can unleash powers so big that they’d assuredly be banned in professional tournaments…I can’t get it to work, and neither can Heinrich. That being said, of everyone here…” He continued and gave the strange crystal to Melinda.

“You’re just giving me this? Feels really warm actually.” She said, looking at it really closely.

“Just a hunch, but maybe you can cause one serious forest fire with this. Just promise everyone that you’ll be careful with it!” Duke said, his voice becoming rather shrill as his constant pacing quickened.

“Why would I never not be careful here? This is a long way from our previously cushy lives!” Melinda said as the three of us laughed briefly.

I just hoped being careful would be enough.
Pokemon: Incarnation - Chapter 20
This university term was a lot harder, hence why Incarnation was frozen for a while. Still, here's another chapter, and with any luck, I'll get another one out before the workload gets piled on once more.

With Basil and crew merely hiding from the danger, Melinda has had enough, and is determined to pursue more active solutions to this problem

Chapter 21: The Dividing Line (Coming soon!)
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Pokemon: Incarnation

Chapter 19: Close to The Edge


“So, I take it you haven't had a word about all this with Murphy yet.” Melinda said, walking up to me as I looked sleepily at her. The hammock I was in was very comfortable – far more comfortable than it would have been if I was still a human – as it rocked me slightly as the ship passed over the gentle waves of the ocean. Sadly, Melinda seemed intent of ruining this blissful relaxation.

“Nah, and I'm not going to. Look, if you're dead set on getting him to stay with us, then go ahead – pressure him into being miserable and scared then.” I replied, sounding sour.

“You know why I'm doing this, let's not get petty.” She said as I scoffed.

“Trying to get him to stay or abandon this dangerous lifestyle is hardly petty Mel'.” I said, rolling over to look at her. “I get it, the world's under threat and stuff, which is why I'll just stay out of this. I get both sides here, hence why I'm staying out of this. Just don't be mean to the guy, ok?”

“I was hoping you'd back me up with this...” She said, shaking her head with disapproval.

“Look, do you think he'll be all that useful to the mission if he's being forced into it? You of all people should know that people or pokemon who's hearts aren't into something won't be very useful when trying to do said thing. How many pokemon have you cycled through on your team as a result...seven, I think.” I said, counting them in my head.

“Well, it'll be my job to motivate him.” She replied.

“Good luck Mel'.” I said, not sure how sincere I was being as she walked off. Couldn't say I felt relaxed any more, as I wondered how the conversation would go. Given we were supposed to keep the whole thing rather quiet to avoid mass panic spreading across the world, I didn't think she'd try to talk to Murphy while on the ship. Hopefully I could at least eavesdrop on them when it happens, but I doubt it'd happen now. I saw her chatting to Audrey about something, though they were too far away for me to hear what they were saying as I drifted off back into an uneasy snooze.

A sudden shout from somewhere on the ship suddenly sounded as I heard something splash into the water. I quickly rolled out of the hammock to see what caused it, wondering if something or someone fell off the side. I hardly expected any of my friends to be involved and as I joined the others in looking over, I saw a samurott wrestling with a lapras. The samurott, who I recognized as one of the sailors on the ship, seemed to be winning and quickly subdued it.

“Everything's all right, there's no damage to the ship!” He called out as another pokemon dived into join them and started dragging the lapras alongside the ship.

“Ah, one of those terrorists...” I heard Nisbeth say. “Not the first time a lapras has tried to sink a ship. The advent of these vessels totally sank their sea-fearing business, no pun intended, so it's their way of trying to reclaim it.”

“So, yet another brush with death then. How delightful.” I grumbled, feeling more annoyed than scared by now. I gave a hollow laugh to myself, noticing that I was slowly but surely starting to take all of this in my stride rather than letting fear run rampant throughout my entire body and mind. Still, can't ever afford to get too relaxed here, as I knew that even without The Devourer and the Pale Communion, this world could still eat me alive. Why, it almost literally did in the form of that swampert!

“Might seem like a strange thing to say, but I wish your introduction to this world could have been better. Really, Broussard's a real nice place, I swear. Well, better than Mistet Ørkenen at least. Trust me, you don't ever want to go there. Lots of bad...hey, Basil, I'll look out for you, I promise.” He said, looking a little shifty for some reason. He smiled down at me, though there were lines of uncomfortableness within that large mouth of his. Nisbeth suddenly seemed to be distracted by something and quickly wandered off before I could ask him about it. I was certainly curious, but I didn't think anything good would come from pressuring him about it.

The rest of the journey would prove to be rather uneventful, the weather never shifting from a mostly cloudy sky. On the bright side, Murphy looked happy to see the buildings of Newer Orleans creeping over the horizon in the distance as he leaned over the bow of the ship slightly with a huge grin on his face. Seems like he was just happy to see familiar lands, and I couldn't help but agree, as I too wanted to return to a slightly less alien environment. Maybe some of that shitty, yet perfectly functional beer could help relax me a little too. Besides, I earned it after stopping that mienshao.

There was no time to be wasted as soon as we arrived upon the shore as we made our way immediately to the Excursion Club headquarters. I never felt at complete ease moving through a bustling street, given my small body, though Nisbeth seemed to make sure that no one would end up kicking me by accident as he stayed close to my side. Seeing the rather flamboyant building ahead of us, we entered and saw that the others were also here, so, naturally there was a lot to discuss. Seems like they had started without us however, as their loud and rather frantic voices echoed throughout the entire building, culminating in Charlie silencing everyone with a bellow so loud I flinched and covered my ears, at least, more than they were already covered.

“...I think the others have returned.” Charlie said after everyone remained quiet for a few seconds. Audrey decided to take the initiative as we followed her into the dining room, where it seemed like they were just finishing off a meal. Was talking with your mouth full commonplace here? Regardless, it didn't seem like a party; Charlie didn't even have any visible drinks with him.

“So...who goes first?” Audrey said after an awkward pause. “...Ok, I'll start.” She went on to explain our findings in Conviction, including the details about Bibarel's contact with Serge, what the statues were, what happened with Neerav and the enigmatic statue creators and their possible link to The Devourer. Over time, the atmosphere around us seemed to become frozen with fear as the ones at the table slowly stopped chewing their food. Charlie let some of the mash potato he was digging into fall out of his mouth and even Jirachi looked afraid. What did they find out that lead to their reactions? Charlie slowly stood up, his mouth still open in shock, trembling slightly.

“So...these statues...they're people...and they're effectively dead...and this has something to do with The Devourer...well, it seems like The Devourer has, uh, made some moves then. We decided to have a word with Landorus. Being several hundred years old, maybe he knew of something.” He said and gulped. He kept pausing, his voice being far quieter and more subdued than normal. “Normally, he doesn't, well, take too kindly to visitors, but now I see that he didn't mind us at all...he's, well, uh, dead now.”

“Turned into a black statue?” Audrey asked, looking rather sorrowful.

“Yeah...would explain why all of them look surprised or afraid now.” He replied, looking like he was itching for a drink to calm his nerves.

“Seems like there's more than one of these pokemon going around turning victims into black statues.” Audrey said, keeping oddly cool about the whole thing.

“Maybe it's The Devourer itself. If Landorus is as ancient and as powerful as I've heard, then maybe it won't go down to one of those pokemon in league with this monstrosity.” Nisbeth speculated, though I wasn't entirely convinced.

“I've seen how the process works, and I don't think being big and powerful slows that down at all.” I said, though I had no idea. “Still, if it's going after powerful entities, then it must be getting bolder now.” As I said those words, I inhaled through my teeth. Sure, it was only isolated people getting attacked here for the most part, but that could be changing as of this very moment. Looking around, it seemed like everyone else was thinking the same thing. We may have made progress, but time wasn't on our side at this rate. It came for Landorus, it came for a human, and, sooner or later, it would surely come for us. Nobody was talking, clearly still taking in all of this uneasiness as I saw Murphy drumming his fingers against his leg uncomfortably, clearly wishing to be elsewhere.

“Well, Bibarel said he'd direct Serge here if he sees him. So, uh, think we should just hucker down here and hope he shows up?” I suggested. After all this nonsense I went through, I'm not sure how I would react to seeing him. I still hated him to the point I'd be glad to see him die, but I needed him to eventually send my sister and I home, and he needed me to stop The Devourer.

“It's the best we can do.” Melinda said, sounding a little less shaken about all this, looking more focused on finding a solution to this.

“But what if The Devourer or any of its associates come here?” Murphy said, his voice being a little higher than usual.

“If you have a better idea, Murphy, let's hear it, and no, running away home doesn't count.” She said sternly as Murphy lowered his head slightly in sadness. “You can run, hide and do nothing, but we both know that The Devourer will catch up to you one way or another.”

“Melinda, quit scaring him!” I said, raising my voice.

“I'm only telling him the truth Basil.” She said, looking at me with narrowed eyes. “You clearly want to be friendly towards him, but I don't think it's kind telling him that he can just hide from all this.”

“Now's not the time Mel'!” I said angrily at her. As much as I loved her, I didn't want her walking all over my friends like this. “...That being said, Murphy, The Devourer could also find us if we start wandering around like nomads. Even if it's becoming more confident, there's been no attacks in a town yet, so we should be fine for now I'd imagine.”

“I'd say Basil's right.” Charlie said, stuffing the last of the food in his mouth. “Like Audrey said, if The Guardian of Forever ever loses The Devourer for a while, he'll likely go see Bibarel and quickly make his way here. Then we can see where things go from there.”

“I remember Bibarel guessing he might be in Fremdesland though.” Audrey said, though I saw Charlie shake his head at this.

“He'll probably be gone when we arrive there. Besides, he said it was just a guess. Maybe he's here in State Broussard, we don't know that.” Charlie replied as he started gathering up the plates.

“Murphy could also be right though. Why should we be sitting ducks? What if The Devourer can tell who's human? I'm assuming it must know that humans are being summoned here, and we don't know what it's capable of, so could it possibly know about Melinda and Basil?” She said as I shuddered at the thought of it.

Slowly, but surely, we descended into bickering about what to do, but it seemed like a consensus couldn't be reached. Some wanted to stay put, some wanted to go to Fremdesland, others wanted to go back to Conviction to see Bibarel. Jirachi had the ballsy idea of sealing us inside the building, blocking off any and all visitors and advertising Melinda's existence as well as my own across the lands, hopefully getting Serge's attention. Nisbeth seemed to really hate that idea, though Melinda seemed to quite like it, claiming it'd be the best way to reach out to Serge while making sure that no one unwelcome gets in. I tried this sort of thing before, and it failed horribly, so I was siding with Nisbeth here.

This was going absolutely nowhere. We'd really stand no chance of trying to find Serge or do a thing about our otherworldly foe if we were all split like this. How could I help get everyone on board with the same idea? To be honest, I wasn't completely sure about how to take things from here. Was staying put here really the best option? Regardless, probably best if everyone just goes with one plan and sticks with it. We had some talented people here with us, so they could improvise something if it all goes to shit I guess. There was also Murphy, however. Guess he'd want to return home or at least stay away from all this one way or another. Best have a word with him soon, preferably without Melinda. Although, there was someone else who I wanted a word with first.

“Hey, Charlie, mind if I have a word with you quickly? Preferably alone.” I said quietly to him as people started leaving. No one seemed to overhear me thankfully as he quietly nodded and lead me into his shambles of an office. Books lies about all over the place in a disorderly fashion, yet it looked like they had been barely read. He reached for something behind his desk which, of course, turned out to be a bottle of booze.

“Want some?” He asked as I accepted. He poured me a small glass and took a swig from the bottle. “Sorry, this has been helping me recently, especially with Layla's death. Crazy, isn't it? Audrey and I had no idea when we were kids that this planet and everything beyond almost died. Then comes along The Guardian of Forever and tells us all what happened, and well, that was that. Heard stories that pieces of Temporal Tower, y'know, where Dialga lives, were hidden in parts of Conviction and that The Sound of Perseverance helped sort that mess out, To think something else has come along and is wanting us all dead, or something like that...” He took a very large swig, taking several gulps of the stuff. Smelling it, I wasn't sure what sort of alcoholic drink this even was. I think it might have had an American-style whisky base, but it was mixed with some fruit that could have been native only to this planet, since I couldn't recognize it at all.

“It's whiskey and chesto berry juice. Lovely stuff, can't live without it. Eases me real good, yet it keeps me awake, and as I'm sure you can imagine, I've needed both of that ever since that typhlosion told me about The Devourer.” He said as I took a sip. Damn, did it taste sharp! Those chesto berries really packed a punch, tasting rather like blueberries with the zingy sourness of a lemon. Seemed to not go well with the whisky at all, but I wanted him to be warm to me, so I kept drinking, accepting his hospitality with a forced smile.

“I mean, to think the two of them might have only bought this planet thirty-five more years...” Charlie said, taking a large swig before clearing his throat. “Oh, sorry, you were wanting to say something to me?”

“Yes, it's to do with how we're going to take things from here in regards to Serge and The Devourer. As you can see, we've had no real consensus on what to do now, with barely anyone agreeing with one another.” I said, taking another drink. Maybe my tongue was being numbed, but it didn't taste quite as bad anymore. “Well, you're the owner of this place, the boss, the leader. I'd say it's time you really acted like one.”

“...What do you mean?” He said, slowly resting the bottle on the desk and looked down at me.

“I'm saying that you should put your foot down Charlie. You've all heard our opinions, but the final decision rests with you. It'd be nice for this to be democratic, but it's simply not working right now! Look, where I come from, some conflicts can grow to huge scales, where entire nations throw their collective might against one another in a battle for survival. When a country's existence is on the line, it sometimes becomes necessary to make sure everyone is in line and working towards preserving the nation, personal feelings and opinions be damned. It's ugly, sure, but sadly, it can occasionally be a necessity.” I explained, thinking back towards the wars that ripped Europe to pieces.

“Your world sounds strange.” Charlie said as I decided to not dwell on it for much longer.

“Your world would probably know this too if there was ever a continent that had more than one nation in it. Besides, what I'm saying is that if you truly believed that everyone on this planet could fall victim to The Devourer, then you should really like this iron fist method. Again, forced unity isn't pretty, but I see no other choice here. Unless, of course, you think we can succeed by running around like headless chickens, praying that everything turns out for the best.” I replied, looking firmly into his eyes. I wasn't sure whether Charlie would be an effective leader, but, ultimately, he was probably the most qualified out of all of us. I'd likely have said the same thing to Melinda, but as well-adapted to this world as she was, she still didn't know this world nearly as well as the natives.

“Ah, well, I've never done anything like that. I've always been lax with the way I own this place. I hire some really good people who know what they were doing, so there was never any need for me to bark orders.” Charlie said, looking uncomfortable as he slowly sipped his strange brew, clearly thinking about this. “What if they don't listen to me?”

“Planet's on the line, and we don't want another Layla to happen, now do we?” I said back to him, going straight for blatant emotional manipulation. “We need a strong firm leader, whether we like one or not, and just so you know, if you don't step up, I'll convince Melinda to do so instead. She probably has the best mindset for being a leader out of all of us, but I don't think having someone who doesn't know this world well would be a good idea. You've got a lot of connections in this planet as well, so you're in a great position to really lead us. All you need to do is to grow a pair, stand up and take command. Don't worry, I'll back you up on everything you do.”

“I'll run it by Audrey and Jirachi.” He said, his voice sounding a little mopey. He clearly didn't want to do this, but if he wanted to defeat The Devourer, it's a step he'd have to take.

“You should still take our opinions into consideration however, and if those two don't like it, then just order them to step in line. If they've worked with you since I was born, roughly, then they'll understand.” I said before finishing off my rather sickly drink. Man, this stuff was strong! Not enough to significantly affect me however, though seeing Charlie tank multiple bottles of the stuff a day lead me to believe he had a liver of iron. Hopefully he'd remember our little talk by the morning. Right, now time to make sure Murphy is doing ok. I just hope that Melinda and Audrey are staying away from him.

“Murphy, I really don't think you're thinking this through.” I heard Audrey say. Shit, maybe I should have tried to sort Murphy's issues out first. “If you try to go home, you'll be completely alone. Don't you remember? The Devourer and its agents, if they are, that is, tend to go after solitary targets. Are you sure it's worth that risk?”

“I can stay in Newer Orleans and take more acting roles. I'll save up enough money to be flown home and see how things go from there.” Murphy said firmly, breathing somewhat deeply.

“Now, this is just speculation, but what if The Devourer can see through the pokemon that are working for it? I'd be likely the mienshao saw you at some point.” She said, but I wasn't sure if that was entirely true. That being said, I'd be a hypocrite if I criticized her for that. “It may know or at least suspect you were part of a movement to try and kill it. If it does, then you'll obviously be safer with us.”

“Unlikely.” I said as I walked round the corner as Audrey looked at me, seeming frustrated for a second before casually smiling again.

“Ah, Basil, I had no idea you were there! I suppose you overheard our discussion.” She said as I nodded. Figured there was no reason to lie about this.

“Give it a rest Audrey: Murphy simply does not want to be here. What's the point in dragging him along? If he's being forced into all this, then I can hardly call him an effective member of the team. When was the last time you did something you really didn't want to do? I hardly expected you gave it your all. Besides, if Murphy's going to be moping about this, then he'll just bring our spirits down.” I said quickly, wanting to get everything out there on the open before anyone had a chance to speak. I didn't want to insult Murphy like that, but if it convinced Audrey to stop pressuring him to stay, then it'd be worth it.

“Ok, then I'll put it another way: Murphy can't stay here if he leaves our movement.” Audrey said firmly as I glared at her.

“Hold on, remember that deal you made with Murphy? That Murphy could stay here if he did the odd job for you guys? Whatever happened to that? He travelled all the way to Conviction and back for you! You know, why should I have any confidence in you if you break agreements like that? Wait a minute, you made that deal before either of us even knew about The Devourer or what you people were even planning!” I said sharply before walking towards Audrey, stopping right in front of her. She was only slightly taller than me, but I figured she could still beat me shitless in seconds if it came to blows. But I didn't care, I had to take a stand for Murphy. “You planned to con Murphy into this from the very beginning, didn't you!?” Audrey looked very uncomfortable and didn't come close to making eye contact with me for an awkward ten seconds. She drummed her fingers against her legs and tapped her left foot on the ground a few times before sighing.

“...Ok, ok, fine, I admit it. I was just taking a stressful break from my work in trying to find a way to stop The Devourer, so I went to the theatre for the evening...I suppose I should really tell you this directly Murphy.” She said and slowly turned to face him. “I was taking an evening off work since I had been working round the clock all week trying to investigate The Devourer. I saw you perform on stage and figured you were extremely talented, so I thought that the Excursion Club might have had a use for you, so I convinced you to join us. I'm very, very sorry about this Murphy. Please, try to understand, we need people like you to help stop The Devourer!”

“...I should have known it was too good to be true. I'm out of here. Good luck with your quest.” He said very simply, looking like he was about to cry before running off. I saw that he dashed into his room, and a few seconds later, coupled with some confusion from Nisbeth, he ran out again and sprinted past me without saying a word. Can't blame him for this really. He's been used and exploited by many people now, including myself. Regardless, I'd better try and catch up somehow, just to make sure he's ok.

Using the weapon, I teleported across the flat rooftops, keeping a close eye on where Murphy was running off to, attracting some strange looks as I did so. When I warped for the third time, I started feeling disoriented, almost losing my footing. I couldn't do this for much longer, so as soon as I saw the crowds in the street start to thin out, I teleported to the ground below and loudly called out Murphy's name.

“Hey, wait up!” I said, coughing and stumbling as he turned around and waited for me. My vision blurred as I started feeling a bit queasy as I saw Murphy run over to me and helped me stay on my feet. “Thanks...oh, just wanting to make sure that you had somewhere to stay and stuff.”

“You're not planning on exploiting me for something else, are you? Did Audrey put you up to this?” Murphy said, frowning at me slightly as I started to become more stable on my feet.

“Fuck no, I could never do that to you now!” I said, trying to ease his suspicions.

“Sorry, it's just that everyone's been using me like some kind of tool or asset. I reckon you've figured out why I need to go home for the time being.” Murphy said, looking sick of it all.

“Say, Murphy, I have an odd question for you.” I said, not looking at him. “See all this Devourer stuff...do you even believe it's a planet-wide threat?” Of course, I believed it, but I was wondering to what extent Murphy was buying this. I'd never admit it, but Melinda may have a point regarding the heliolisk: He did seem like he was in a state of disbelief about all this, even if he saw for himself someone getting turned into a black statue.

“...Uh...” He said as he seemed to sweat slightly, though it was probably just me subconsciously  anthropomorphizing him. After all, reptiles don't sweat. “...I really don't know Basil. I think I just want to talk to Mom and Pop. I really miss them you know. Maybe I wasn't ready to be an adult after all...”

“Well, you'd need to wait one more year until you're regarded as one where I come from. It's been royally hectic for all of us you know. So, just to refresh my memory, you're going to work for a short while to raise funds and go home?” I asked as he nodded. “Right...staying in one of the hostels?”

“Yeah, Mardi Hostel.” Murphy said, pointing to it at the end of the road.

“Right, just making sure you had a place to stay. I, uh, really hope you'll be ok.” I said, though I couldn't hide my uncertainty. How could I be sure that Murphy would remain safe with The Devourer and its associates on the prowl? Would he be safer here, where he'd not be standing in its way, or with us? Sure, we might even have to take The Devourer head on at some point, but at least we'd have safety in numbers, relatively speaking at least.

“Yeah, you too...” He said, sounding a little sad. “I, eh, in a way, I was hoping we could stick together. It'd be nice if you could get away from The Devourer, but I see why you're staying with them.”

“Yeah, gotta find The Guardian of Forever. Say, Murphy, if I find him and if I can talk him into sending all the humans back, would you want to come with us? That's if I can get him to send you to the human world. You might not like it too much, but better that than dead, right?”

“I dunno Basil...I just want to think about this.” He said, still looking rather down.

“Hey, if that acting club really liked having you around before, then I'm sure they'll take you back. You seemed to really enjoy that, so maybe that'll help you take your mind off things.” I said, trying to cheer him up a bit. It seemed to work, as I saw his glum frown slowly start to fade.

“Hey, Basil, promise you'll see me some time soon, won't you?” He said, taking a couple of steps closer to me. I gulped slightly upon hearing this. I never considered that I might never see the guy again once we go our separate ways. I knew I'd never forget Murphy. How could I when he saved my life?

“Uh...I'm not going to make a promise I might not be able to keep buddy. I said I'd be honest with you, Murphy, even if it's an ugly truth. See, I'm not sure what's happening with the rest of us, though I have pushed Charlie to use his position as the boss to make quick and firm decisions, but he doesn't seem that into it.” I said as his body slumped in sadness again. It tore me apart seeing him like this most of the time. When I first met him, his cheeriness and optimism was so prominent that it became flat out contagious. Maybe I could at least hear Serge out with this Devourer business if I can't find a way to talk him into getting him off this planet. I'd feel terrible if I just left him here, where he could be at The Devourer's mercy, which I assumed was in very short supply.

“B-but that doesn't mean I won't try to see you again!” I said, trying desperately to perk him up a bit. “I can't promise I'll be able to, but I can promise I'll do everything I can to try and make sure you're doing well. It's the best I can do.”

“I understand Basil.” He said before looking away from me. “I'll be honest with you too: There's a part of me that really hates how you got me wrapped up with coming to Newer Orleans and learning about The Devourer. I'd have been happier if I just stayed at home, but...well, it's been an unforgettable experience, and I'm glad to have met you.”

“Hugs?” Murphy said, opening his arms to me.

“How could I possibly turn down?” I said as we embraced each other gently. The larger pokemon gave me a quick squeeze and a pat on the back before letting me go. “Well, take care of yourself Murphy: That's an order!”

“Yes sir!” He said, grinning slightly as I saw him slowly walk into the hostel. All I can really do no is just hope that things turn out well for the best for him. However, on the way back, I was plagued by thoughts of what he and Melinda said about his choice to retreat to a more ordinary life. Melinda would surely chastise me for pacifying him and indirectly encouraging him to bury his head in the sand, and she could be right. Looking back over my shoulder at the street I just walked along, I knew I just didn't have the heart to try and convince him to stay with us. He should be fine for a few weeks as long as he keeps his head down I guess, but...

It was impossible to gauge the level of threat. Sure, The Devourer was supposedly threatening the entire planet, but how long would it take? It seemed to be taking its time, but I hardly wanted to dilly dally when trying to find Serge so he can tell us clearly exactly what's happening, or even what The Devourer is. Regardless, if Murphy's heart wasn't in it, then there'd be no point in trying to force him back to the Excursion Club.

“So, is that Murphy gone now?” Nisbeth asked me not long after I arrived 'home.' I sadly nodded and sat down next to him, slouching on the rather uncomfortable stool.

“Starting to think Melinda could be right about him. I mean, when I asked him if he really believed the world was under real threat and that there soon might not be anywhere to hide, he gave a really wishy-washy answer.” I said, still wondering if I really made the right choice.

“Well, I find it a little hard to believe either. The whole tale of The Sound of Perseverance seems a little silly to me as well, but whether I'm right or wrong, the threat of isolated pokemon getting picked off by these statue creators is very real. Where's he staying at anyway? I'm concerned about the poor guy as well.” He asked as I told him. “It's near the town centre, so he'll be fine I'm sure.”

“But for how long though...eh, nothing we can really do about that now I guess.” I said, wondering if there would be a good way into talking Murphy back to joining us, though I could think of nothing.

“Oh, almost forgot; you missed an announcement from Charlie. He's taking command now, though Audrey and Jirachi don't seem too keen on it since it was supposedly all democratic before now. I actually think Charlie took is as a challenge when they objected.” Nisbeth told me as I smiled. At least that part ended well for me, and possibly everyone else involved.

“It'll be for the best, since we don't know how much longer we have. Better going all in on a bad decision than half-heartedly following a good one.” I said, deciding to keep my involvement in this to myself. It was dark outside by now when I looked out of the window, the primitive street lighting making the town feel darker than the towns I was used to back in England. Given the rather shitty sleep I've been having the past few days, I decided to climb back into the basement lie face first on the bed, barely even noticing Melinda was reading a book on the other bed, using a primitive lantern to read it. I guess lighting up the bone was a fire hazard.

“Hey Basil. I assume that's Murphy gone now.” She said, sounding a little disappointed, but thankfully didn't seem in the mood to lecture me.

“Yeah, probably a bad choice and stuff...” I said sleepily as I rolled onto my side to look at her.

“Anyway, there's something else I thought of a while ago, and it's not good. Anything but good.” She said, putting the lantern and book down. “Decided to keep this between us, and before we know what's going on, I'd rather just keep this between the two of us.”

“Spill the beans Mel'.” I said as I sat up, paying full attention to her,

“Well, I'm only telling you since you're the only one who I know for sure isn't in league with The Devourer. You're my brother, I've known you since you were born, and from spending just over twenty-three years of my life with you, I'm preeeeeety confident you wouldn't side with it.” She said in a lowered voice while constantly glancing at the door at the top of the stairs.

“What the fuck are you on about? Mind speaking English?” I replied, having no idea what to make of this.

“That mienshao didn't look any different from a typical one. So, Basil, how can you tell who's in league with The Devourer?” She asked me as I scratched my head, being too tired to concentrate well.

“Uh...when they're trying to turn others into black statues?” I guessed, shrugging slightly.

“Well, yes, but the point I'm saying is this: If its servants look like your average pokemon, then can we really know who we can trust here?” She asked as I felt a familiar discomfort, though a discomfort I had previously conquered.

“Ah, it's the Pale Communion all over again. I dealt with those fools before, and besides, that mienshao sure didn't act like a normal person. Didn't even say a word until the moment where he died...say, think that was because The Devourer didn't want him leaking any information?” I said, wanting to divert the subject away from raw paranoia, but Melinda seemed to want to stay on track with this train of thought she was having.

“How can we be sure that none of the people we're working in are in league with that alien?” She said, her voice becoming a whisper, yet somehow managed to retain most of its volume.

“Mel', please, calm down and think rationally. If The Devourer thinks that humans are a threat and that one of its soldiers were amongst us, they'd have probably killed us by now. You were with these guys for about two weeks before I arrived in this town, so they'd have plenty of chances, so I highly doubt there's a mole among us.” I said, trying to quell any paranoia she was having.

“You're right Basil. Sorry, I was getting a little carried away.” She said and slumped down on her bed. “Have I been grouchy lately? I'm not really feeling myself over the past few days.”

“Eh? I was expecting you to say since you arrived in this world since you're in a completely different body.” I said, laughing to myself a bit, though Melinda didn't seem in the mood to be cheered up as she sighed and looked up at the ceiling. “Ok, I know what you actually mean...probably due to the looming dread we all feel really. It's, like, you know its out there, but you just don't know what to do about it. A puzzle where you can't even begin to try and solve. Really, it could drive a man to madness. Trust me Mel', you're doing just fine.”

“Really missing home lately as well. Nothing much we can do about that though...” She said, rolling on her side to look at me. “I know this might be a bit irresponsible, but if we visit another foreign town, I think we should just have fun for a day.”

“Something gotten into you Mel'?” I asked, smiling slightly.

“This little posse clearly won't last much longer at this rate, especially with Murphy calling it quits. I mean, you saw me get suspicious over them for a minute or so. We really need to take a break before we all get driven to madness; something you should have learned during your brief career as a trainer.” She said to me as I reluctantly agreed. Must she always remind me of my failures?

“Lesson learned Mel'...still, I can agree to that. We do hold the cards, and if we both stand by this, there's not much else the others can do.” She said as she carefully turned off the lantern. “Well, best get some sleep. Goodnight Basil.”

“Yeah, you too.” I replied, feeling a little happier there'd be something to look forward to. I really needed a happy little distraction to keep me going given the ever present threat out there, not to mention Murphy bailing on us.

With a long night's sleep, the two of us were more than ready to receive Charlie's announcement. Notably, we were the first two awake and ready, though it didn't take long for the others to show up thankfully. It was impossible to tell when Jirachi was going to show up given his alien sleeping patterns, but this time, he came just after us.

“Morning you two. Want to hear my findings?” He said in a friendly voice as he floated towards us. It's funny, really. I should still be in awe at his existence, but seeing a jirachi felt almost mundane given everything else that's happened recently.

“Sure.” Melinda said as Jirachi sighed.

“Literally nothing. Still, it proves that The Devourer hasn't done anything to the stars or anything like that, so it's something.” He said as I saw Audrey enter the hall with Nisbeth, the two of them chatting away to each other. “Oh, by the way, did either of you two have anything to do with Charlie's sudden desire to take command with an iron fist?” Jirachi continued as I smiled slightly.

“Just doing my part to save the world.” I said as Melinda slapped her hand against her forehead. “Hey, action had to be taken, and as you'll see, it will be worth it!”

“Good morning everybody!” Charlie said, his voice booming rather loudly as he took large strides into the hall to meet us. “As many of you have probably already found out, I am officially taking command, and before you say anything, I have decided what we're doing! Remember how some of you suggested that we just lock ourselves up here until The Guardian of Forever hopefully shows up? Well, that's what we're doing! You have until three o'clock to go outside, buy whatever you like or do whatever you want until we lock the doors. Right, meeting over!” Charlie finished, walking off as soon as he said 'over', not missing a single beat.

“Well, that was something...I'm off to check in with the museum to study and bring back some artifacts from the old civilization. Jirachi, mind sorting out a huge order of food.” Melinda said, looking like she was still trying to figure out what was happening.

“It's fine, I'm onto that!” Charlie shouted from around the corner, clearly overhearing her.

“Well, you'll know where to find me.” Jirachi said as he floated back up to the tower.

“We could be here for quite a while...” Melinda said, looking rather cross at Charlie's decision. “I swear just going out there and trying to find him while constantly being on the move is the best choice we could have done.”

“Better this than no decision though.” I said as Melinda sighed quietly.

“Maybe we didn't find the best people to lead us to Serge...regardless, we should probably try to find some entertainment to bring back to the headquarters, and in this world, that translates to some really awful literature. Seriously, I could write better than the book I tried to read last night!” She said, laughing to herself with a bitter streak in her chuckle. “I suppose it's better than nothing. Want to help me find something that might reach the lofty heights of mediocre?”

“With pleasure!” I said, smiling as I followed her into town, leaving Nisbeth to himself. What a scorcher of a day! My mouth felt rather dry from the oppressive heat, and my blue and white fur wasn't doing me any favours either. The bottle of water I bought wasn't even cool, and given air conditioning was way ahead of these guys, the heat was inescapable. Melinda seemed to be enjoying the weather just fine however, so it wasn't all bad I guess.

The sun couldn't attack us in the library however, so it was a mild improvement. Given their fictional writings tended to be sub-par at best, we made our way swiftly to the non-fiction section. Perhaps we could learn more about the strange world here, though if we weren't allowed to borrow them, then we wouldn't have much of a chance.

“This one looks like it might be decent.” Melinda said quietly, gesturing to the book in her hand after reading the first few pages.

“'A history of New Australia?' Seems very to-the-point.” I muttered back to her. “Go ask about borrowing policy, I'll keep looking here.” Scanning the books, a lot of them seemed to be in rather poor condition, though they were still functional. The shelves towered high above me, so reaching the ones on the top half was impossible for a little pokemon like me. As soon as I thought that, I saw a cheeky aipom to my left climbing the shelves to get the book he wanted. Wish I could be as agile as him.

“No borrowing here.” Melinda said to me as I grumbled in disappointment.

“Listen, Mel'...up for just taking these?” I whispered quietly. “These four books will fit in my bag easily.”

“Stealing?!” She whispered very quietly as I looked up and down the isle. No one here, no one there.

“Want to be bored to tears for weeks?” I said in a hushed voice to her as she slowly smiled deviously at me.

“Can't argue with that.” She said and slipped all four books in with one fluid movement and closed my bag, using her larger body to block the view of anyone who could be behind us. With a nod and a wink to each other we made our way out of the library, though a gruff voice suddenly called out to us.

“Hey, you two!” I heard him say and saw an incineroar staring at us from about five meters away. Did he see us through the bookshelves or something?! I did my best to look relaxed and content as I looked back at him, refusing to let my fur stand on end in worry. “You have a great day!” Phew, false alarm.

“You held your poker face, right?” Melinda asked shortly after we left.

“Oh, obviously.” I said, grinning at her. I guess crime paid after all! The crowds surrounding the newspaper stands seemed to be bigger than normal. The large, loud newspaper sellers had to yell at the top of their voices to be heard and keep a semblance of order. Behind the intimidating garchomp was a scared looking lilligant, and while it was only a guess, I imagined the garchomp taking over since the excited crowd might crush her. A cinccino was dipping and diving between the restless feet of the larger pokemon, and I was wondering how many pokemon in this town have been trampled to death.

“I think we owe it to ourselves to get one of these papers.” Melinda said as we moved to the back of the 'line', though it soon proved to be unnecessary as I felt myself being tapped on the shoulder by a familiar friend.

“I've got a copy, you can read mine.” I heard Nisbeth say as he handed me a copy of the newspaper with a smile. “Although...you probably won't like it.” After merely seeing the headline, I could see exactly what he meant.

“'Black statue of Ho-oh found in Fremdesland'...” Melinda said as we continued to read the paper. It was hard to tell what she was thinking with her marowak face, but I could still tell that she was trying to hide how horrified she actually was, and as I continued to read it, I could see exactly why.

“In more local news, seven more victims were discovered yesterday in State Broussard, though incidents have still been contained to isolated and rural areas. The rate of these mysterious attacks have been steadily increasing, and if you have yet to hear of the police announcements, all citizens are strongly recommend to not leave their towns and villages unless it is for essential travel and you have at least three other people with you. Report any suspicious individuals and activities to your local authorities. An incident from Conviction has told us that the source of these attacks come from certain individuals who have the power to turn anyone into a dark statue. Considering that Ho-oh has fallen to one of these individuals, we urge you to not engage anyone you suspect may be one of these criminals.”

“I, uh, I should really show this to Murphy.” I said, wondering if he heard about the warnings.

“It'll be closing time soon Basil, you should come with me and return to the headquarters.” Nisbeth said, sounding a little stern.

“They won't shut us out, it'll be fine if we end up a little late.” I said, wondering whether he'd be at the hostel or that cheap looking theatre.

“Fine, I'll come with you.” Nisbeth replied, grumbling as I dragged the two of them around Newer Orleans towards the places where he might be. Given it probably wouldn't be a good idea to annoy Charlie, I moved at a quick pace, dipping and dodging around the taller pokemon on the street. Thankfully, it wasn't quite as hot as it used to be, and I had gotten used to the town by now, so I easily found my way to the Mardi Hostel.

“Murphy...the heliolisk, right? Well, he handed in his key this morning, but its policy to not allow keys to be brought outside the hostel.”  The hypno behind the counter said, who looked rather bored of his job and made little attempt to hide it.

“Give this to him when he returns, ok?” I asked the receptionist as he grumbled slightly.

“Fine...is that everything? Great, have a good day y'all.” He said as we left and quickly made our way to the theatre district.

“Ah, I remember you.” The gardevoir said upon seeing me enter the building as I made my way around a cleaner, who seemed oddly content to try and win the battle against dirt and grime in this grubby room. “If you're looking for Murphy, he's not here right now. None of the actors are now, they're on break until the evening performance. I'll tell them you were here though.”

“...Read my god damn mind.” I replied, smiling. “Thank you.”

On the way back, I started noticing things that I didn't previously. The population here seemed less talkative than usual, as the sound of loud chatter was mostly replaced by busy footsteps, treading up and down the stone streets. Their eyes seemed to gaze shiftily from one pokemon to another, as if scouting out for things these strangers had to hide. When Melinda spoke to me along the way home, she in particular attracted suspicious looks, her English accent making her seem more out of place. They seemed rather welcoming beforehand, but now, they seemed to be wary of even the more local strangers.

“Would you look at that Basil...I'm guessing this is why Charlie wanted us to keep quiet about The Devourer.” Melinda said quietly as I nodded back at her. Still, we wouldn't be hanging around here for some time if we were going to be locked inside the headquarters until Serge finds us, so it wasn't much of an issue.

“The cat was going to come out of the bag sooner or later though, nothing we could have done about it.” I said, though perhaps I spoke a little too loudly as a quilava that walked by me seemed intent on turning me into a pariah.

“The what now?! Don't say that you're one of those freaks turning us into black statues!” He said, sounding extremely grouchy as he got in my face. Nisbeth looked flat out ready to beat him into a bloody pulp if the quilava did anything funny, so I tried to defuse the situation.

“Sir, you're being ridiculous! Look, if I wanted to turn you into a black statue, I'd be doing so. Right. Now. But, of course, I can't do that, since I'm not one of those superpowered thugs, so how about you piss of and bother someone else. I'd strongly advise you follow my suggestion, since these two people here will not take kindly if you decide to hurt me.” I said, staring into his eyes. I didn't blink once, and a few seconds later, he decided to back down and walked on without another word.

“This will only help The Devourer...” Melinda said as I scoffed slightly, though, given Nisbeth was nearby, I decided to keep it to myself. Couldn't deny she was being a bit of a hypocrite here, given our conversation last night.

“You're late you three, get in, now!” Audrey ordered from the doorway. I didn't particularly care that she was frustrated as I saw her lock up behind us. Five locks for the door was laughably overkill, especially considering I doubted The Devourer would be stopped by a mere locked door, but whatever made them sleep at night I guess.

“Well, I'm actually as happy as can be right now: none of them paranoid townsfolk are gonna be hunting us in here. We'll be as safe as houses as long as The Devourer doesn't show its ugly face.” Nisbeth said, sounding oddly chipper as Melinda and I both gave him funny looks. “Ah, forgive me, I've never been much of a people person.”

“You've been wonderful to me Nisbeth, I'm not getting mad at you any time soon.” I said, smiling slightly.

“Now don't do anything reckless.” He said as I grunted at him.

“If I can survive being hunted by the Pale Communion, I can surely survive in this building.” I said, telling him to relax.

“Since we're not doing much else, you should really practice using your psionic abilities.” Melinda said to me after Nisbeth wandered off to his room.

“Talking down to me too, huh? Nah, you're right though.” I said as I took the weapon out of my bag. “Then again, the weapon has provided me with all my protection needs so far, so shouldn't I develop-” Melinda then suddenly knocked it out of my hand as I saw it land on the floor.

“Then, I start burning you alive before smashing your head in with my bone.” Melinda said, smirking at me.

“Point taken Mel'.” I said as I picked it up and put it safely in my bag. “Mind helping me? Kitchen will be empty for a couple of hours at least.”

“Of course.” She said as we walked inside. Sadly, the whole session proved to be rather fruitless, as I just couldn't quite get a good grip on the basics. Melinda was slowly looking annoyed at me as she kept trying to get me to repeat a technique I simply had no idea how to do.

“Sorry Basil, this is really hard for me. I'm just used to training pokemon that are actually good at fighting and using any abilities they might have.” She said as I frowned and smirked at her.

“And I'm not used to being a meowstic, so go figure.” I said, trying my best to levitate a dirty spoon that someone didn't clear up from breakfast time. “Care to tell me how you got so used to being a marowak? Is it just raw instinct or something I'm guessing Floyd got a hang of being a snivy really quickly too when he was here.”

“That's kind of like asking how to walk...uh...” Melinda said, sitting down on one of the stools. “I can't use the excuse that I one time trained a marowak myself since the ones here are very different...maybe you just need to practice more with your ears up.”

“I'd rather not fling myself across the room with my own power thank you very much.” I replied as Melinda got up.

“I can maybe help with that.” She said and walked over to me. Standing behind me, she picked me up and held me firmly. If this were anyone else doing this to me, I might just explode on purpose, but I trusted she knew what she was doing. She took a few steps back and braced herself against the wall. “Ok, Basil, give it a try now.”

“I may hurt you Melinda, but if you're completely sure about this...” I said and opened them up. My whole body shuddered and heaved as I felt the psionic energy course through my body. My vision was forced into the psionic plane as I tried my best to make sense of everything I saw.

“Right, levitate the spoon, but focus on trying to keep your ears open without exploding on me.” She said as I did I was told. My body continued to spasm slightly, though given I was more focused on stabilizing the energy that seemed to wrap around every vein and artery as opposed to do anything else, I could keep it mostly under control.

“Levitating the spoon, now.” I said as my mind reached out to try and lift it. Surprisingly, it didn't take too much effort as I was able to keep it there, though a headache was slowly starting to creep its way into my brain.

“Ok, I'll try something fun. I might be getting the hang of it.” I said, noticing that my voice had this strange tone to it with my ears, almost as if each syllable had a tiny bit of sustain and reverb going through it. Reaching out, I carefully lifted four more spoons. It felt rather painful lifting up so many, but I wanted to do this, since I had a funny idea that would surely amuse my sister. I slowly drew the five of them towards us until they were just above my head.

“Look at me Mel', I'm a mega alakazam!” I said, though I felt the spoons start to slip from my grasp as I laughed slightly.

“Ah, you've got to separate them first and put them in formation!” She said as I saw her with a huge grin out of the corner of my eye.

“I dunno if I can do that...” I said, though my answer came very quickly, since as soon as I tried to separate them, I dropped three of them as they landed on the floor, clanging loudly. “Shit...” I muttered as I closed my ears to stop the headache and my body from getting overloaded.

“Well, that's a welcome improvement! See, I knew you wouldn't explode there! You'd never want to hurt me, so...” She said, grinning even wider.

“Oh, so that's why you did that! You cheeky sod!” I replied as we both laughed and made our way back to our rooms.

“What was going on in there by the way?” Audrey asked us, carrying some archaeological sample of something.

“Practising how to defend myself. Don't worry, we didn't break anything.” I said, barely looking at her as Melinda and I returned to our room. The place was always dark without the lantern since it was a basement, and by now, it felt a little dusty. The books we stole came in handy to pass the time until dinner was served, as we learned that Fremdesland was founded by some Swiss guy about a hundred and forty years ago. Makes sense, since the capital's called 'New Zurich.'

Nobody spoke much throughout dinner, though it seemed that no one was trying to object to Charlie's authority. Charlie himself was clearly trying to act bigger and tougher to try and get the others to stand in line, though he wasn't doing a great job of it. I had to hold myself back from laughing a couple of times when he slammed his tankard down on the table, splashing a bit of beer on himself. Well, I guess this would be life now for the foreseeable future. Gotta keep all strangers out, since you never know who could be one of The Devourer's agents.

Melinda didn't say much as we soon climbed into bed. I have to confess, I really missed good old English entertainment. Some films, some music, and so on. Seemed like none of that existed here, and what I wouldn't do to listen to a good Genesis album right now. Yeah, Wind and Wuthering: That would be lovely.

I soon fell asleep, and I must have been out for a good few hours when I swore I heard some kind of low droning from somewhere. I couldn't tell whether it was from within the room, the building, outside or even in my own head, though as soon as I woke up properly, it was gone. Thank goodness for that, since it seemed to etch itself on my mind while it was there. I couldn't make out much of it, but it sounded like it simply did not belong here. Regardless, it shook me awake, and I was thirsty.

I quietly walked upstairs and out of the basement, being careful not to disturb Melinda. I had no idea what time it was, but it was clearly still completely dark outside, so it couldn't be close to morning yet. I grabbed a bottle of water from the storage and started swiftly drinking it. Given the bottle was designed for larger pokemon, some of it leaked round my mouth and onto my fur, which was a little annoying. Shaking some of the wet patches off, I started walking back towards my room, but I suddenly heard some frantic banging on the main entrance door door. Boom, boom, bang it sounded as I suddenly froze.

“...Who goes there?” I muttered quietly, knowing full well that no one would. The knocks didn't seem that loud, so it couldn't have been by someone big. I stared at the door for a moment as the knocks and bangs started becoming more frantic. I started breathing deeply, looking at the locks on the door. They'd hold whoever was trying to get in, right? Instinctively, I reached round where my bag would be to grab hold of the weapon, but, of course, it was still in my room. Panic started to fill my mind and body as my jaw trembled, as each knock started to sound louder and louder. Should I scream and wake up the others? Yes: If Charlie's in charge, then he needs to take responsibility! He'd save me from whatever...that is. Was it the source of that unearthly droning? Quite likely. Maybe I should wake everyone up, just to be safe.

“Please, someone, anyone, let me in!” A voice suddenly cried out from behind the door, and it was a voice that was all too familiar to me.

“Murphy?!” I said, slowly approaching the door, my body still tense with fear, getting ready to leap to safety at the slightest provocation

“B-Basil, is that you? You've gotta let me in, please, I'm begging you!” I heard him say as he contained wailing on the thick wooden doors.

“...And you're sure you're Murphy?” I asked slowly.

“Of course I'm Murphy! I need inside before it finds me! I don't know if it followed me here or not, but I really don't want to find out!” He said as I threw fear to the wind and looked between the crack in the door. It was Murphy all right, practically bouncing with stress. I couldn't abandon him like this, regardless of what the others thought. I quickly dragged a stool over to the door so I could reach up for the higher locks. Four locks to go, three, two...

“What is it that's after you Murphy?” I asked as I pushed the stool aside to deal with the last two locks.

“I heard someone walk around the hostel, and I saw that some of the guests had been turned into black statues! There was someone...something there! Maybe it's one of The Devourer's henchmen, or maybe...oh, no, nonono! Let me in, LET ME IN!” He screamed as I swore I heard him crying out of sheer terror.

“Can you see anything?!” I said, finally removing the second lock that got jammed.

“...No, not yet.” He said after calming down a bit, though it didn't seem to comfort him any more. The last, rusty lock. It was almost like it was staring back at me, taunting me. It looked almost broken, and I remember Audrey struggling with it earlier today, and she's a lot stronger than I am.

“I...I think they might be becoming bolder now, if they're attacking within towns.” Murphy said, his voice still trembling. I pushed and pulled at the latch, but to no avail. Only one thing for it: I opened up my ears and combining psychic and physical strength, I flat out punched the bolt on the lock. My hand got cut rather badly for it as I felt blood slowly leak onto my fur, but I didn't care right now. Only one thing for it now: Open this door. I leapt up to the handle and held on tightly to it and pushed off the other half of the door as I felt this half start to swing open. Dropping down I looked at the fearful Murphy as he suddenly leapt at me without a moments hesitation.

“Basil!”

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Pokemon: Incarnation

Chapter 18: One Little Victory


I swiftly followed the others out of the guild headquarters with Melinda in tow, holding the weapon tightly. When I thought about it, this was roughly a fifty versus one scenario, and I couldn't be more glad to be on the more populated side this time round. The sun had disappeared completely behind the small hills on the horizon by now as a smooth darkness started covering the lands around us. Of course, this could make the mienshao harder to find, but with so many of us, I think we' be just fine. Of course, there was a strange power the mienshao had, but I assume it couldn't be that powerful, else he wouldn't be hiding so much. All I'd have to do is get my friends to stand back a bit, just in case they'd get a taste of that terrible power, and I'd be happy.

“I've been thinking, Basil.” I heard Nisbeth say to me quietly. “Maybe going back to my old life would be a bad idea.”

“What do you mean? Thought you didn't have any interest in this rescue and law enforcement service stuff.” I asked as we stayed somewhat towards the back, though I still made sure there were allies behind us that would be first in line in case the mienshao attacked from behind.

“Well, I did regret following you to Newer Orleans. Really, this was obviously a midlife crisis I was going through in hindsight, and it was pretty dumb for me to impulsively go for this. Then again, I always thought I'd have been fine just resting in the shack in the swamp for the rest of my days. Sure it wasn't eventful, but it was a lot better than back in Mistet Ørkenen, and I wasn't weighed down with all this responsibility like I am now. However...” Nisbeth said, looking around carefully. “If these weirdos are going around turning isolated pokemon into these strange black statues...I'd be painting a target on me if I went back.”

“You're right...” I said, feeling sorry for the guy.

“Well, following you and my old dreams could have saved my life. Pretty strange, given this is a more dangerous lifestyle.” He said, smiling slightly. “I'll thank you for that.”

“Oh, just as planned!” I said, smiling widely as we all started to fan out a bit, covering more ground. We were a diverse bunch with all sorts of different abilities, so I felt confident that we all covered each other's vulnerable spots. Regardless, I made sure to make sure that my friends and I always had cover, so it'd be very hard for someone to make some kind of a sneak attack.

“I think I saw something over there.” I heard Audrey say quietly to Melinda, pointing ahead of her. “Maybe we should get Nisbeth and carefully check it out. Should be strong enough with the three of us.”

“Not without me.” I said in a hoarse whisper as I grabbed my weapon tightly.

“If there's too many of us, then we can't sneak up on him.” Audrey said as I shook my head.

“Not leaving Melinda. There's no argument with me: I'm going. Besides, sneaking around with Nisbeth will be easier said than done since he’s easily the largest among us anyway, so I’m hardly making things any harder.” I said firmly while still keeping my voice nice and quiet. She looked down at me, scanning as she shook her head.

“You're small, so I suppose it'll be ok. Murphy, go quickly join Bibarel before he gets too far away.” She said as Murphy complied and swiftly ran over to the guild master, remaining very light on his feet.

“Regardless, I think I saw something rustle over there. Could just be some savage, but you never know. Be very quiet and careful, and keep your eyes and ears open.” Audrey said as we continued on slowly and carefully. I'd have liked more of the natives with us at the time, but I found it difficult to argue as to why bringing more along for the ride would be a good idea. I stayed at the back of the group, constantly looking behind me, getting ready to fire the weapon at a moment’s notice. My mouth slowly dried as I twitched at every single sound that sounded remotely out of place. How fast could this thing act? Did it have to charge up its energy to turn one of us into a statue, or could it do it in the blink of an eye? Regardless, I could fire and teleport with the weapon real fast. I could win this quick draw content as long as I don't slip up.

Melinda looked uncomfortable, given that lighting the ends of her bone would give our location away. I assumed it was part of the source of her fighting capabilities and as a result, she was essentially crippled right now. Regardless, she could still probably give the mienshao a good whack. I saw her bite her bottom lip slowly as she tried not to show much fear and kept focusing on the task at hand. Nisbeth seemed to be preoccupied of where he was stepping as to not make too much noise as he awkwardly crouched as he walked beside us, trying to keep his head down. If he got a real solid punch on the mienshao, then it should be over, but getting close to him would be the hard part. Perhaps I could assist with the weapon…

I suddenly turned to the left as soon as I heard something and pointed the weapon in the direction of the sound. I gasped slightly as I did so, as I tried to figure out what that noise was. Just a rustle of leaves? A pokemon groaning? It was so sudden and quick I couldn’t tell.

“Any of you hear that?” I whispered as I saw Audrey and Melinda shake their heads. I gestured towards the source of the noise, but it had all gone quiet. I couldn’t see anything either through the thick layer of bushes and trees, though the night seemed to obstruct my vision less as a meowstic than it did as a human. I guess I could be grateful for that.

“So…want to check it out Audrey?” I said quietly, gesturing for her to go first. She looked hesitant as she frowned, thinking about it, but seemed to agree after about five seconds of stalling. Still pointing the weapon at the source of the sound, I saw her creep forward slowly, and after only two steps, something small and rapid dashed up one of the trees with great haste.

“Just a pachirisu…” I heard Audrey mutter, drawling slightly. “I’ve been thinking, if I were the mienshao, I wouldn’t be hiding, I’d be running away from here really fast, and he could easily outrun all four of us. Maybe this is the wrong approach.”

“And just running headlong into the darkness is your idea of a solution?” Nisbeth said, shaking his head.

“I’m the leader here, so you’ll listen to me.” She said sternly before looking somewhat shyly at the ground. “Wish I knew exactly what we were dealing with here. It’d make things so much easier…”

“I feel ya, but what if-” I said but I suddenly stopped and jumped slightly as I heard someone yell in the distance as I saw shadows and shapes shift and move between the crowded trees in the distance, just at the edge of my vision.

“Must have found him!” Melinda said as she charged forward, lighting both ends of her bone as she effortlessly charged between the shrubs and trees that lined the forest.

“Mel’, wait up!” I called after her, running as quickly as I could, though the thick layer of bushes proved to be a far bigger obstacle now that I was less than half my human size. I scratched myself slightly as I pushed past a thorny bugger, and while it was tempting to use the weapon to teleport ahead, I really wanted to save the charges for when I needed them. I silently begged for Melinda to not do anything overly rash as I saw her get further away. I suddenly felt Nisbeth pick me up from behind, only using one arm as he leapt over a large and thorny bush.

“Thanks…gives me time to figure out how we can take out the mienshao.” I said, looking at a couple of scratches on my body as I held onto his left arm. I barely seemed to slow the guy down as Audrey ran just ahead of us.

“Oh no…” I heard Audrey say faintly as she pointed to something just ahead of us. As my vision pierced the darkness, I could see that it was that blastoise priest, or at least what was left of him. Yet another denizen had been turned into one of those black statues, which I assumed was as good as being dead. I saw Audrey inspect the statue alongside a couple of distraught looking pokemon, looking as terrified as they did dejected. Right, time for action. I could not allow this to happen to Melinda! With the forest being a little less dense than before, I could use the weapon to teleport forward without simply faceplanting into a tree.

“Basil, please don’t rush in like your sister did!” Audrey said, and while I appreciated her looking out for me, there was no time to get held back by caution. I could see the flames that Melinda was producing, so I knew exactly where I needed to be. Aiming the weapon, I teleported forward on top of a small shrub, making up almost half the distance in an instant. My landing wasn’t the best as I fell forward before picking myself up instantly, but a mere second later, I heard the most horrible, unearthly scream. It sounded from somewhere in front of me, yet it also seemed to sound inside my brain. It was incredibly loud, and yet, it sounded as hollow as the empty depths of space, almost like it was a whisper of unspeakable volumes. The awful noise was enough to force me to my knees as I forced my ears shut so tightly with my hands that it started to hurt in a whole different way, yet it subsided as soon as it came.

What did not subside was what I saw next. I saw what could be described as some kind of black light emitted from what I assumed was created by the mienshao, given it came from a slender, shadowy figure that seemed to block out all light in its path. I heard a scream of horror from someone I didn’t recognize, so I knew Melinda was fine, much to my relief. Looking closely, I could see Melinda hiding from it behind a very thick tree, so I took the opportunity to teleport next to her.

“I’m here Mel’.” I whispered as she looked down at me.

“It was aiming for me. I only just got out of the way in time.” She said quietly backwards.

“No matter. I’ve been thinking; what was that attack you wounded the marowak with? It clearly works, so maybe you could use it.” I said, peeking my head round briefly, seeing the mienshao looking around, but it looked like it was trying to decide on where to flee rather than trying to hunt us down. Clearly, numbers were still not on his side, and it already looked like had taken quite a beating from earlier.

“It was inspired by a magmortar. Think of it as using my bone like a bazooka and launching a huge and explosive fireball, though it’s too hard to hit such an agile target with.” She said, as I thought about it briefly.

“I’ve got it. Melinda, when I give the signal, use that giant fireball right at me.” I said as I saw the mienshao start to run away. “I’ll swap placed with him, he’ll have no time to react! Get ready Mel’!” I ran after it as fast as I could for a few seconds, hoping I could get a clear shot at it. I saw the mienshao make the mistake of running straight down the path instead of diving into the bushes, giving me a clear line of sight. It was hard to aim properly with something that didn’t have some kind of iron sight like a rifle would have, yet by accessing the psionic plane, I could feel where the shot would go almost exactly for the first few meters or so. With a slight adjust of my aim, I fired as a tiny speck of light shot out of the weapon as I raised my right arm right afterwards. Just before I saw it land, I heard Melinda let the explosive fireball loose, but I knew I’d be safe. A split second later, that tiny speck of light landed as I suddenly found myself about seventy meters away from the explosion that sounded behind me just afterwards. Looking back, it was clear the mienshao had no chance to react as it was sent flying in the air like a ragdoll before landing on the ground with an audible thud.

“Got ya!” I said, before running up to him and blasting one of his arms, then one of his legs while he was barely conscience at point blank range, just to make sure he couldn’t escape.

“Excellent job Basil! Never thought you could pull off something like that given you were having trouble adapting to this place!” She said, looking proud as she ran over to me.

“I even impressed myself this time.” I said, smiling smugly as I looked down at the barely conscience mienshao. Huh, maybe this is why The Guardian of Forever was trying to get his hands on a bunch of humans, given that it was Melinda and I that got him in the end. I heard the others approaching from behind as I showed them our fallen foe, while still pointing the weapon at him in case he tried anything funny.

“Serge made a good choice with you two.” Bibarel said, respectfully keeping his voice down to avoid making us seem suspicious. I frowned ever so slightly as he inspected the horribly burnt and battered mienshao.

“Right, tell us everything you know about The Guardian of Forever and The Devourer, or I’ll start finishing off your limbs!” I snarled at him. I cared not for any form of mercy towards anyone who threatened my sister’s life as I rested the tip of the weapon against the arm I mangled previously. One final blast ought to completely sever it from his body.

“That’s enough Basil.” Bibarel said as I rolled my eyes.

“He can still speak even after I blow off his arms and his legs as long as Melinda stops the bleeding.” I said, as the two of them looked at me as if I was doing something bad. “Anyway, where were we…I’m giving you ten seconds to speak. Ten, nine, eight…” I started counting down as I stared into his eyes, which were lazily glancing back at me. However, on the word two, I was suddenly picked up from behind and moved out of the way by Bibarel. I guessed he’d intervene with my more direct approach, and it seems like I was right.

“I’ve decided to give you a chance, but next time, I won’t stand in the meowstic’s way.” Bibarel said, still going along what I was doing to an extent. Looking at the mienshao, it started shifting and writhing on the ground slightly as I pointed the weapon at it, getting ready to blast it if it did anything remotely more threatening.

“Dev…Devou…” It said as it started gurgling on its own blood that it was starting to cough up. The three of us just stood and stared as we heard more people join us from behind. It started thrashing wildly on the ground as if it was trying to escape from several people holding him down, but it was soon clear that there was no saving this pokemon when its eyes looked so far up into its sockets that only the white sclera was visible, alongside the blood oozing out from all corners of his eyes. With a final gurgle, he suddenly stopped struggling and lay motionless, and presumable dead. Melinda cautiously checked his pulse and confirmed that there were no signs of life within him.

“Well…we stopped him from turning anyone else into a statue…” Melinda said, looking behind her at a petrified zangoose who I vaguely recognized from the church. That must have been the one who screamed near Melinda and the mienshao.

“I think we also now know that he knows of The Devourer, given his final attempts at words. This could explain why he could do…that.” I said, pointing at the zangoose statue.

“The statue’s also just as unmovable as the others…” Nisbeth said, trying to push it.

“Shame what happened to the priest and the zangoose, but at least we can be fairly confident that these statues having something to do with The Devourer, so I’d say that’s one little victory.” I said, which seemed to annoy some of the church goers.

“Oh, our priest dying is merely ‘a shame’?” One of them said loudly at me as I held up my hands in protest.

“Might have been a tad insensitive, but crying over it isn’t going to bring him back.” I said as I noticed that Melinda of all people was trying not to laugh, though I had no idea why. “Who knows, maybe we’ll find a way to undo this and turn him to normal.”

“Well you should get started now then!” Another one said, sounding very bossy.

“I doubt it’ll be as simple as asking The Devourer…” I muttered as I turned to face the others.

“Well, considering what we found, I think we’ll be returning back to State Broussard tomorrow.” Audrey said, making sure the four of us were all here. Murphy looked rather shaken up from the whole affair, and I can’t really say that I blame him.

“I…I saw it with my own eyes. That blastoise tried to protect the others when the mienshao was cut off, but…oh, I’ve seen way too people die. First Danil, now him. It was that final scream of anguish, Basil. I can still hear it.” Murphy said, his yellow scales looking a pinch paler than usual, or perhaps I was just imagining it. Does a heliolisk face have its colour drained during a state of fear like humans do? Regardless, I was sincerely hoping he was just being metaphorical about still hearing that scream. Given what we were up against, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if he was being literal.

“Look, while I’m not getting my hopes up for this, maybe that mienshao was The Devourer, and we’ve already won. Doubt it, but you never know. At least we’ve probably given it a setback.” I said, trying to cheer him up slightly. In many ways, he was in the same situation as I was. I wanted nothing to do with all this, yet here I was. Murphy was essentially tricked into joining us, and while he seemed into at first, it was all too clear by now that he felt way out of his depth now that he was faced with the reality of the situation. If he was getting cold feet earlier, then I could only imagine that he’d run to familiar territory as soon as we arrived back in Broussard. Of course, I’d fully support him in his decision.

“It was…a good job that you and Melinda stopped him. Sorry I couldn’t help, I was too far away.” Murphy said as I gently patted him on the back.

“Ah, don’t beat yourself up about it. We stopped him, and the four of us are ok. That’s what really matters, isn’t it?” I said, looking at Nisbeth and Melinda speaking to one another. “Anyway, looks like we’re about to head back to the Bibarel guild. I’d say we all earned a good night’s sleep at least, even if we’re no closer to finding Serge.”

“I guess…” Murphy said, smiling slightly, though he and Melinda still looked rather mournful when we passed the two victims. They looked like they were permanently locked in a state of indescribable fear, as if they just realised that what awaited them was even worse than death. Not that there was anything worse, however, and I’d not let the end come to me without exhausting every resource possible.

“You know, probably even more would have been murdered if you didn’t egg them on.” Melinda said, looking back at the priest. “I thought it was rather callous of you at first but…well, you were right all along. There must have been a way to stop those two from being turned into black statues though…”

“You can’t save everyone Mel’. Besides, I’d say we’ve had a good impact on this world so far.” I said quietly. Thought the cheerful outlook on this might make her see the good side of all this, even if I personally didn’t care too much.

“Remember how I said I was once good at feeling out battles on the fly? Well, there was always that delay when I gave my team the commands back home. Now that the middle man has been cut out, or moved, at least, I can do all this stuff instantly! Wonder if I’ll end up becoming good enough to be on my own team?” Melinda said, chuckling to herself at the bizarre scenario.

“Well, you’re certainly smarter than your team members.” I said, though I was still really questioning Melinda rushing headlong into that. If she had a stroke of bad luck when that happened…

“Wonder how they’re doing anyway? If anything happened to me, I already said I’d get you to look after them, but with you gone too…” She said, suddenly looking worried again. Under any other circumstance, I’d say she was a terrible mood swinger, but the recent days have been more up and down than the Himalayas.

“They’re probably with your manager, they’ll be fine with her.” I said, reassuring her. “Besides, when we find Serge at get him to send up back, we can see them again!”

“Well, with how we dealt with the mienshao, we’ll be seen as way too useful to let go.” Melinda said, which brought a little sting to our victory. The way back was mostly uneventful, but after some time, something caught Nisbeth’s eye.

“Uh, guys, remember that scraggy statue?” He said, pointing at something. We jogged to meet him and wondering where he was pointing at. The nearby tree, perhaps? Since there was no statue.

“What about it?” Audrey asked, looking at exactly where he was pointing to.

“Exactly that: It’s gone! I reckon it was right beside this crooked tree, and look! You can see the two footprints where he was standing!” Nisbeth said, gesturing to the things he mentioned rather dramatically.

“He’s right Bibarel.” Exploud said loudly as per usual.

“There seems to be no footprints here, and this path is fairly muddy. None of us could even budged this, so it must have been something incredibly strong that can also fly.” Bibarel said, looking fairly bewildered. “The only one who I know of that fits the criteria is Rayquaza, or The Watcher of The Skies if you’re into your fancy titles, but Serge said he fled the planet when he heard that…”

“The Devourer: It’s here!” Murphy said, suddenly looking terrified. This sense of fear proved to be quite infectious, spreading to the majority of us, including me.

“We need to hide! Bibarel, let’s just go back to your house or whatever, now!” I said, stuttering on a few of my words. Bibarel, however, looked mostly composed.

“We don’t know for sure if it’s The Devourer or not, and even if it is, it’s probably gone by now. Whatever it is, it seems like it doesn’t want to make public appearances. Let’s just stick together, investigate this for a few minutes, then return back to the headquarters.” He said, trying to calm everyone down, to mixed degree of successes. It was hard to argue with his logic, but it didn’t stop me from getting the occasion fearful shudder every minute or so. We could find no trace of the statue in the surrounding area, so with nothing else to discover, we walked back to Treasure Town fairly swiftly, not wanting to waste any time just in case we were wrong about The Devourer.

“Excellent job, both of you!” Audrey said shortly after we arrived. “The rest of the Excursion Club will be thrilled to find out about this!”

“Well, it’s the least we could do while we’re here.” Melinda replied politely.

“Actually, I can think of a lot less we could do.” I said, grinning at my sister.

“You two have been a blessing to us! The Guardian of Forever made great choices with the two of you.” Audrey said as I rolled my eyes.

“I’d rather he’d have chosen to leave the two of us alone, but you already know my position on that. It’s so much better at home given we did not have a daily life-or-death struggle.” I grumbled slightly.

“Look, I’m sure he’ll send you two and the other humans back home once all this is over.” Audrey replied, but I still felt uncomfortable.

“That turn-into-black-statue attack thing barely missed Melinda. What if we’re not as lucky next time? We probably can’t rely on the church to form a mob again any time soon either. Besides, we’re not any closer to finding Serge.” I said, as Audrey rolled her eyes.

“If he’s constantly on the run from The Devourer, then I don’t think we’ll be running into him any time soon. Just being honest with you here. Anyway, we should get some rest and get the first ship back to Newer Orleans tomorrow.” She said, which I was totally fine with. If The Devourer was on this continent. Just because it seemed too shy to make public appearances for now doesn’t mean it could all change later. If it was more dangerous than my kidnapper, then I’d say that nothing short of an entire army could bring that thing down.

Knowing that there would always be someone to keep watch made sleeping a little easier, yet I kept one eye open and gripped my pillow tightly throughout most of the night. What would it look like? What sounds would it make? Did it smell of anything? Thankfully, nothing too out of the ordinary happened for the rest of the night, though I did hear the occasional sound of the night watch changing shifts. At some point, where I could see the faint glow of the sun behind the ragged curtains as it peeked over the horizon, I heard the portcullis being opened. Shortly after a thud on the ground floor, I heard Bibarel mutter to himself, though I couldn’t quite make out his words.

“You’re up early.” He said as I entered the hall out of curiosity.

“Tough to sleep with that thing out there somewhere.” I said, still feeling sleepy.

“It might not be as close as we think it is…” He replied, holding up a letter. “I was going to announce this in an hour, but I might as well tell you while you’re here. I went alone to collect it, since we can’t have The Devourer knowing where I pick up Serge’s letters from. Risky, I know, but the alternative’s worse.”

“You’ll be caught one of those days…” I said, not having as much confidence in sneaking out alone like this.

“Anyway, Serge said he’s currently in Fremdesland, but he’s leaving very soon, so you probably won’t catch him there.” Bibarel said, which prompted the obvious question.

“So where’s he going?” I asked. If I knew, then being on the same island would be a good start.

“Wherever he can throw The Devourer off the most. He said that he’s been hunted down there for the past five days, so I guess you know what this means.” He said as it clicked pretty quickly in my head.

“The Devourer didn’t move that scraggy statue. So…what could have done so?” I asked as Bibarel shrugged.

“No idea. Seems like a dead end for now.” He replied as he looked at the map on the wall. “Serge has some otherworldly power as you’ve probably already figured out. He’s no ordinary typhlosion. Regardless, I’m trying to figure out where he might go to next. If given enough time, he can open a portal to travel between the continents, but there’s a limit to its range. I doubt he can travel to Mistet Ørkenen from there, which means he’ll likely travel to New Australia, State Broussard or Conviction next.”

“Ok, so should we just stay here and see if he turns up?” I asked, but Bibarel looked a bit unsure.

“Might be a good idea, though there’s always the risk that he could lead The Devourer right to us.” He speculated, but I could see no other option.

“So what else can we do? Besides, if The Devourer isn’t showing up in public places, then perhaps there’s nothing to lose by just hunkering down here until he eventually gets enough time to check in here. You said he was a friend of yours, so he’ll probably come by here eventually. If he knows you’re trying to find humans, then he’ll probably just pick them up right here. He’ll likely do everything in his power to keep us safe from The Devourer if he values us highly, so it probably won’t be that dangerous.” I said, as he thought about it.

“I’ll discuss it with the others when they wake up. Seems like a good idea actually, since it’ll avoid us all running around like headless chickens.” Bibarel said as I sat down on a nearby chair, almost falling asleep again. About an hour later, everyone else was up as Bibarel put forward my idea.

“Was hoping I could go home…” Murphy said, as I kicked myself. I didn’t think about him! How thoughtless of me! I guess he still has his ticket for the return journey.

“Surely The Devourer will come here eventually. There’s already a chance it could already know we have two humans here, and if they’re vital to stopping The Devourer, then it’ll surely try to get them killed here. It’d be safer for them if we stayed on the move.” She said, which seemed to cheer up Murphy. “You people and we of the Excursion Club should cooperate to try and guide Serge towards the humans if he shows up at either institute.”

“Why would The Devourer know we’re humans though? We’ve not bee flaunting our origins, and it’s never seen us before, surely. Even if you take into account that mienshao, who never knew in the first place, he can’t exactly tell anyone now that he’s dead.” Melinda said, though Audrey seemed to disagree.

“We don’t know that. Maybe it can detect humans in some way we can’t understand. Besides, we said we’d be meeting back at the Excursion Club headquarters.” Audrey replied, but Melinda was having none of it.

“Just send a letter then! They’ll understand, surely.” Melinda retorted, as Audrey stood face to face with her.

“Need I remind you that you’re under my wing, not the other way round.” She said as Melinda coughed slightly while still staring back at her.

“Or we can just stay here and you can go back and explain it to Charlie. This plan is sound, since you’d have us go on a wild goose chase, praying on the tiniest chance we’ll bump into Serge. Besides, there’s always a chance we could bump into The Devourer instead going by that logic.” Melinda said, standing firm, neither of them saying anything after that.

“…I just want to be away from that thing.” Nisbeth said, breaking the awkward silence.

“Which means…?” I asked, wondering if he was wanting to leave or stay.

“Er…I reckon we should just go back to Newer Orleans for now. Less chance of that thing finding us.” He replied. While he seemed on board with staying with the Excursion Club, it was clear to me that it was mostly for his own safety. Couldn’t exactly blame him for that though.

“Well, taking it down to a vote, that’s three versus one, so even if your brother agrees with you, you’re still out-voted.” Audrey said, but I knew that Melinda wouldn’t take this lying down.

“Group cohesion is important, but I have to come out and say this: You’re being supported by Nisbeth, who doesn’t seem to really be on board with the mission, and Murphy who openly just wants to go home and wants nothing to do with this. Besides, even if it was a hundred to one, well, what are you going to do? Drag me onto the ship against my will?” Melinda said, her voice slowly becoming louder.

“Look, I can just direct Serge to where you and Basil are, it’s really not that big a deal.” Bibarel said, as Melinda grunted.

“A house divided cannot stand…fine, I’ll come.” She grumbled, and walked off to gather her stuff.

“My sister was mostly right you know, but I suppose I can see where you’re coming from. If Charlie and the others have discovered other things, we might be able to figure out a bit more about what we’re dealing with.” I said, though truthfully, I was completely torn on this. On the one hand, staying on the move would make it harder for The Devourer or any of those statue makers to find us, not to mention it’d allow poor Murphy to sort his affairs out. However, this would make us less likely to bump into Serge, which was ultimately my goal. Not only that, but while I was hoping Murphy would be able to live happily just being an actor without all this constant danger going on, The Devourer likely had other plans. If Serge said it was threatening the entire world, then he couldn’t bury his head in the sand about it forever. Regardless, even if Murphy splits off from us, I’d find a way to get Serge to take him away from this doomed planet if worst came to the worst.

It wasn’t too long until we said our goodbyes to Bibarel as we made our way down to the shoddy excuse for a harbour. The ship hadn’t arrived yet, so we took the time to investigate the more natural statue on the beach that thankfully didn’t fill me with an awkward dread like the others did. The small beach was pretty quiet, which I liked, as it gave Melina and I the chance to stroll down it and admire the picturesque views without being interrupted by strangers.

“Can I be honest with you about something?” She told me as I gulped. I hated hearing those words from her, since I never, ever liked what she would say after those words.

“…Go on…” I said in a low murmur, as my eyes scanned across the cliffside we stood under.

“I totally get why you’re just wanting to get us away from all this. Under most circumstances, I would as well, but the world needs a hero right now. Lots of heroes, in fact.” She said as I tried not to roll my eyes in response.

“Not our fight.” I said bluntly, but surprisingly enough, she took my flat answer pretty well.

“Like I said, I get why you’re just wanting to go home. You’re right, it isn’t our fight…but it is Murphy’s. It’s Nisbeth’s. If the planet’s on the line, then it’s every denizen’s responsibility to do what they can to get rid of this alien.” She said, as I turned to look at her, seeing her frown slightly.

“What are you getting at?” I asked as she continued.

“What I’m saying, Basil, is that given Murphy’s position, him backing out like this is, to be blunt, pretty damn selfish and cowardly.” She said and I stopped.

“He’s just a kid, and I accidentally roped him into this. He’s not a bad person Mel’.” I said slowly and steadily, making sure every single word was heard clearly.

“…He’s seventeen, he’s not that young, and besides, he’s very good at fighting. At least Nisbeth is staying with us, even if he’s probably just trying to stay alive. He’ll probably run once things go south.” She said as I moved to stand in front of her.

“What’s gotten into you Mel’? You seem to really have it in for our allies here.” I said, trying to understand where she was coming and going with all this.

“Look, I just don’t have all that much confidence with Audrey leading us. Still think they’re making a terrible decision, but at least she’s taking the threat seriously. It’s just extremely aggravating when I do everything I can to help these people and they don’t put in the effort themselves. Ok, so most of them don’t know about The Devourer. Fine, probably hard to convince them that everyone on this planet could die, but Murphy knows all about this and still chooses to run with his tail between his legs! Couldn’t handle it when the going got a little tough.” She rambled as I started to get annoyed.

“Melinda…without him, I’d be dead! He’s not a coward! He’s still helped us while we’ve been here, never fleeing from danger.” I said loudly back. Thankfully, nobody was here to overhear.

“Ok, maybe I was being a little harsh there, but it comes down to this: Either you find a way to convince him to stay with us, or I will. Choice is yours.” She said firmly and ended that conversation right there. We noticed the statue of Floyd alongside a statue of a cyndaquil right behind him, which I didn’t notice earlier. They were somehow in great condition in spite of presumably being battered by the sea spray ever since it was built. Must have been looked after very well.

“This place commemorates the place where The Sound of Perseverance entered our world and met The Guardian of Forever. May we be eternally grateful for his sacrifice. May his example live on within all of us.” I sighed and chuckled slightly at this strange worship, given we met the guy in a silly looking scizor costume back in our world.

“The man we saw may not be the most…well, heroic guy, but I think Murphy could learn something from Floyd, or at least the idea of Floyd.” She said as we saw the ship on the horizon slowly sailing towards us on top of sparkling ocean. If we weren’t leaving so soon, I could have happily just sat down here and soaked up the view. Wonder if it looked this pretty when Floyd met Serge here? Guess Floyd would have got a kinder welcome to this world than I did.

Boarding the ship, we started sailing back to State Broussard as I started to worry about Melinda. This wasn’t too unlike her, however. As kind as she was to her team, she did not tolerate a lack of effort from them, and had benched several team members in her career as a trainer. Still, the fear of getting side-lined clearly worked in tandem with her encouragement. Regardless, could this be the start of the circumstances wearing down on her? Seems like she was serious about wanting to keep us all united, which I understood. Regardless, as I looked over at her, then at Murphy, I started to become more concerned about their futures. Who knew what life would throw at them next? Well, whatever it is, I’d do everything in my power to help make sure that the next event would be a good one.
Pokemon: Incarnation - Chapter 18
Note: I'll be away until the 16th of July, so I can't respond until then.

Basil and the others eventually score a victory for the Excursion Club, but can't seem to agree on what to do next.
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Pokemon: Incarnation

Chapter 17: Roll The Bones


Unlike most nights, I woke up before my sister, probably because I was catching constant gusts of wind all night thanks to that sorry excuse for a window next to me. I gently woke her up as I heard the sound of footsteps in every direction just outside of our door. I guess it was time to get a move on and see what I have to kowtow to next.

“Wonder what they're discussing...” Melinda said, seeing Bibarel and Audrey speaking to each other in the opposite end of the hall. Naturally, there was a good chance they were speaking about us, given otherworldly people were in demand right now. Walking up to them, they noticed us and both gave us friendly smiles.

“Ah, hello you two! We were wanting to speak to you both about what's going to happen today.” Audrey said, still sounding friendly.

“Obviously, it's not safe to leave Treasure Town without at least three of us escorting you. Clearly, one wasn't enough to protect Neerav. In fact, I wouldn't consider anywhere safe, but on the other hand, there's no use in keeping the two of you locked up here. From what Serge has told me, meeting up with us here would just lead The Devourer right to us, and dead humans are no use to Serge.” He said as I grunted slightly.

“Trying to get into his way of thinking?” I said somewhat bitterly.

“Well, it helps me figure out what he might do next. Also, good to see a couple of humans that can speak our language. The human we had spoke in words that didn't belong to anywhere at all in this planet, and it was only because of that and his actions making look horribly inexperienced and out-of-place that we were able to figure out he was a human.” Bibarel said, thinking for a while. “I'll be putting an investigation team to see if there's anything different about the black statue or to see if there's anything more we can learn from it. As for you two, I'd recommend some combat training at the local dojo. I'll have Exploud and Murphy go with you, if that's ok with Audrey.”

“...Yeah, that'll be fine.” She said, thinking about it. “I think Nisbeth would be more useful investigating anyway.”

“You can explore the town with them afterwards, just as long as you stay to the crowded segments and not go off exploring to anywhere too isolated. Huh, that's just like what Chatot told me when I joined the guild.” Bibarel said, chuckling to himself slightly. “In fact, you can help by putting up these wanted posters for the mienshao.”

“'The Bibarel Guild warns you that he has the power to turn people into the mysterious black statues you've heard about, and is not responsible if this happens to you. Approach with extreme caution. If you have any information, please contact the Bibarel Guild.' How grim.” Melinda said, reading the wanted notice.

“The statues only appear in the countryside from all over the world, so this mienshao, or anyone else who has this terrible power, is clearly only attacking mostly isolated targets. Stay close to one-another and you should be safe, but be ready to flee or all attack together at a moment's notice if the worst comes to the worst.” Bibarel said as he called Exploud and Murphy over.

“I was wanting to speak to Audrey about something...” Murphy said, running over.

“Of course.” Audrey said, looking as Murphy with concern.

“I think I want to leave.” Murphy said bluntly, looking like he had very little sleep the night before. “I don't think I can do all this. I'm only good at acting, and even then, I could be better. I reckon there'll be someone much better than I am for this.”

“Nonsense Murphy, you're wonderful at this! Don't you want to help destroy The Devourer?” Audrey asked.

“Honestly, I kind of wish I could forget all of this.” He replied, sounding a little miserable.

“Hardly got the most motivated crew with you Audrey.” Bibarel said, frowning slightly.

“Hey, I didn't expect them to get cold feet here! I could tell that Melinda's brother wasn't really into it, but I honestly didn't expect this from Nisbeth and Murphy.” Audrey said, seemingly ignoring that most of us were standing right next to her.

“You kind of lured them in with promises of casual adventure and theatre connections, them wham! 'Sorry, you can't do those things, you gotta help us kick this alien off this planet!' Yeah, I'd be pretty annoyed too.” I said, frowning at her as she sighed at me as the jaw on her head snapped a couple of times.

“Basil, I'm trying to be nice and friendly despite the circumstances. Please, stop making it harder than it needs to be.” She replied, her eyes narrowing at me slightly. “It's not like we chose for The Devourer to come here.”

“It just feels like I'm being pushed around by everything and everyone right now, and all things considered, I'm no closer to finding Serge.” I said, still feeling in a huff.

“And that is why I told him to only summon humans who were completely willing to help us...” Bibarel muttered under his breath. “Just please go along with us you two; it's in your best interest.”

“I'll decide what's in my best interest, but I'll play along for now.” I said as Bibarel continued to mutter things about Serge getting the wrong people under his breath.

“...How long have you guys been arguing for?” I heard Exploud say from behind loudly.

“Right, Exploud, take these three around town to put up these wanted notices, then spend five hours in the dojo. We want these humans to be as tough as possible so they don't get taken out as easily as Neerav did.” Bibarel said, wanting to get things sorted out quickly.

“Sure thing boss.” Exploud replied, and wasting no time, we were lead away. We left the guild behind us and walked down the flight of stairs and into town. It looked even goofier than it did from the top of the hill, as I found it hard not to laugh at all the egotistical buildings. Regardless, I couldn't afford to laugh out loud too much if I didn't want to draw attention to myself. Even Melinda was clearly finding their architecture quite laughable as I saw her mouth shudder and waver in the same way where she tried to hide laughter as a human.

The locals around us spoke with a more familiar accent that seemed to resemble the way English people spoke after living in France for several years, which made the place seem a little less foreign and more comforting to me compared with State Broussard, not to mention the weather was somewhat cooler, the thick layer of clouds shielding us from the sun's wrath above us. Putting up wanted posters on shop windows and lamp posts was oddly relaxing, and would have helped take my mind off things if it weren't for the artists impression of the mienshao on the cover of them. It was too early to tell, but that pokemon must have something to do with The Devourer.

“Hey, Basil, what does this remind you of?” Melinda said with a cheeky smile on her face as she held the bone in her hand tightly before rolling it across the ground.

“Yeah, yeah, Roll The Bones, very funny.” I said, smiling slightly as she went to pick it up.

“So, it's been a long time since you did 'the rap.' Wanna do it for old time's sake?” She said as I rolled my eyes and groaned, trying to hide my smile. “Go on Basil, go on! Nobody here cares about these things from what Bibarel told me.” She continued, playfully nudging me in the side.

“Oh, fine then...ahem...Jack. Relax. Get busy with the facts. No zodiacs, no...” I said, trying to recite the whole gloriously cheesy and out-of-place rap segment in the Rush song, but sadly, my memory failed me in the second half as I trailed off. “Mel', you have a skull for a head and a bone as a weapon: You're way more suited for this than I am!” I said, laughing playfully, and feeling happier that the other two were out of earshot.

“Well, it's a lot more fun to watch someone do the rap than saying it yourself.” She said before calming down a bit. “Seriously though Basil, I'd probably be as grouchy as you are about this if you weren't here. I mean, obviously, I wish you were home so you'd be safe from all this, but at the same time, I'm glad your with me.”

“Trust me Mel', I think you're the only reason why I haven't gone crazy in this mad world. Regardless, if we get through this, then this will be a conversation piece for the rest of our days, so I in the end, I can't really hate this too much.” I said, pinning up a wanted poster.

“Well, like you always said when training me, you can only do the best with the cards you're dealt with. On that note...” She said and cleared her throat. “Why are we here? Because we're here. Roll the bones!”

“Why does it happen? Because it happens. Roll the bones!” I replied, joining in on the sing-along, only to see Exploud and Murphy look at us as if we just escaped an insane asylum.

“...Is that a human thing?” Murphy said flatly and quietly with the most neutral possible facial expression.

“You think that's weird? Look around you! Now that's bizarre!” I said, with a cheesy grin still plastered on my face as I gestured towards the buildings, though I was careful to keep my voice down.

“...Good point.” Murphy said as Exploud sighed and shook his head.

“We get that a lot from foreigners. Anyway, dojo's this way.” Exploud half shouted and lead us there. Passing by a newspaper stand, I asked the others to hold up for a moment as I read the title.

“'Michael Rutherford forced into hiding after some Pale Communion members attempted to assassinate him while making a speech in Syrinx. Two law enforces and three Pale Communion members were killed in the attempt, with seven more with severe injuries. Mr Rutherford has confirmed that he will be continuing his work, but will no longer be making public appearances.'” I read out loud, not really caring about how annoyed the vendor was about me not buying the newspaper.

“Hold on, the Syrinx mayor is a human?” I said, pointing to a picture of an emboar on the front cover.

“Pretty common knowledge.” Exploud said, scratching his head. “Been here for the last fifteen years and helped transform New Australia from a lawless continent that was falling apart at the seams to the envy of the entire world. He's the only human to have ever come here twice, since he was also the one who founded civilization there in the first place. According to him, he screwed up the first time, so he came back to put things right and decided to stay. Oddly enough, he retained his human body the first time he was here, yet not upon his return.”

“...Then, with all due respect to our kidnapper, why the fuck didn't he just ask him?!” I said angrily, having to stop myself from shouting. “Sorry, it's not your fault this happened.”

“I remember Bibarel saying that if Serge forced Mr Rutherford to take part in this, then he'd have to abandon his post, and given the natives there are almost as crazy about humans as the people here, the entire continent could descend into anarchy. It was anarchy before he returned, so I get why Serge left him alone.” Exploud responded. Well, I can understand the reasoning, it still sickened me: At least this human had something to lose from this conflict, whereas the rest of us did not.

“Michael Rutherford eh? I take it he's not that Michael Rutherford, right? Y'know, from Genesis.” Melinda said to me as I thought about it briefly.

“Nah, it can't be. He died fifteen years ago, and there was no point in time where the news reported him missing. Besides, he's English, not Australian.” I said, though the idea itself was pretty amusing.

“Shame, would have loved to meet him.” Melinda said, chuckling to herself.

“Hey Exploud, you're pretty old to be an explorer.” Murphy piped up suddenly.

“I tried retiring once. Almost went insane after a month, so I decided that I would die an explorer, regardless of how stupid it seems.” He said simply as I noticed a large building to my right with the top side of it being in the style of the many statues of Floyd I saw across the street corners.

“Is that some kind of church of Floyd?” I asked as Exploud nodded slightly.

“Humans in general to be more precise, but Floyd's obviously the most prolific of them. The church always seemed to be a weirdo club. We try to tell them what Floyd was really like, but they're having none of it. There's a service on this evening, so check it out if your curious, but I'd keep your identity to yourself. There's always some person claiming to be human to try and exploit them, but they've wizened up to their tricks by now.” He explained as I looked at the church carefully as we walked by. If I could somehow prove I'm human, I could perhaps get a lot more assistance with my time on this planet...

“Anyway, here we are.” Exploud said, as we stood in front of the dojo, clearly run by a marowak. Well, I guess Melinda could get some good advice, though given I still couldn't get the basics down, I was questioning how much use I was going to get from this. I walked inside behind the others and saw that the building was made almost entirely of furnished wood. The marowak who was most likely the owner looked even older than Exploud looked at us and welcomed us in.

“Ah, I take it you're all from the Bibarel guild.” He said as he stopped scrubbing the floor. Like Melinda, he also looked like an alien to me, being considerably darker in colour and having the strange dark patch on his forehead.

“Well, just me, but these three are with us for the time being, so Bibarel will pay you.” Exploud explained as the marowak smiled.

“Good, good. Well, I know I can personally help her out. Handy being the same species. For these three, I'll quickly have them fill in a form so we can put you into the correct group.” He said as I was quickly handed one.

“Let's see, 'beginner, adequate, adept, expert...'” I read out loud before filling my own option: 'Complete no-nothing novice.'

“Well...Meowstic, did you completely skimp on training your abilities as a child and a teenager?” The marowak said, looking a bit worried as he looked over my details as I ranked myself as a zero out of ten in every area. “You said here that you had no physical disabilities either...well, I'm sure Alakazam can help you somehow.”

“Never needed to until now, so I never bothered.” I said, shrugging as I was lead into a different room. In spite of his species in general looking elderly, this alakazam looked very recently evolved, and shockingly young for his evolution stage. In fact, he didn't even older than I was.

“Oh hey there! I'll have a look at that little guy!” He said, sounding as lazy as he did cheerful as he took the form from my hands via telekinesis and read it. “...Huh. So you still haven't made any real progress with the absolute basics, huh? Well, unless you're even lazier than I am, I'm gonna teach you a technique you can use to really lay in a super-nasty headache to stun anyone that comes at you. Now at your level, you probably just want to run after that, but hey, it could save your life. It's so, so simple that even you could learn it in the space of a few hours, and that's with me helping out the other two here.”

“Does it involve briefly scrambling your opponents mind with a telekinetic jolt to the brain?” I asked as he smiled and nodded, recognizing the technique as being confusion, in professional battling terms.

“Someone knows their basic theory!” He said, looking impressed as he brushed his moustache.

“Trust me, if they put down general battle theory and knowledge in the categories, I'd have ranked myself a ten.” I said, not being shy to tell this stranger that I at least excelled in one area.

“Woah, we have a clever-clogs here! Now, I'm gonna be the test dummy for this. No, you don't have to worry about hurting me, but if you're lying about your ability just to whack me with something hard, I'm gonna be upset!” He said, laughing to himself. “Right, try going into the psionic plane. Can you do that for me?”

“Yeah, figured out how to do that a few weeks ago.” I said, telling him a half-truth as I tried to feel around for his brain, which I was having a lot of difficulty doing since it was protected by a skull.

“Now, you don't need to actually try and find the brain, just as long as you know it's just behind my eyes. Trying to get a good grip on something on the inside of a body is insanely hard: Not even I can do it. If it were common amongst people like us, we'd have probably taken over the world by now by ripping apart people from the inside.” The alakazam said, things suddenly taking a dark turn.

“Megalomania aside, what do I need to do?” I asked, trying to keep focused, which was easier said than done.

“Can you move even the tiniest thing with you mind?” He asked as I nodded.

“As long as it's super tiny, yes.” I said, thinking back to how I was able to detonate the explosive powder in the wood-grain of the weapon.

“Well, it's a similar principle here. All you gotta do is to suddenly reach forward to where you think my brain is and give it a shake. It barely moves the brain at all-” He was explaining, but I felt like finishing it for him.

“-But even the slightest shake can mess with bodily functions for a few seconds. I know what to do: it's doing it that's hard.” I said, trying to suddenly push forward and giving things a violent shake. From the looks of things, nothing happened.

“Hrm, I think I noticed something just in front of my head. You're misjudging the distance.” He told me as I tried again and again and again. Judging how far forward I needed to project this was very difficult because of the skull, which felt a hundred times thicker than the protective wrappings that I used on the weapon. To think that during a combat situation, I'd have to be able to do this with a moving target!

“Further forward...further...you need to push it further buddy or it won't do anything.” He said as I struggled to generate enough force to get inside of his head. Eventually, I grew so frustrated I just forced the sudden jolt of movement as far forward as I could and just hoped for the best, going with raw force over any form of accuracy. Judging from the alakazam staggering briefly, it seemed to have worked, though I was starting to get a headache of my own from all the strain it took me to pull that off.

“Well, you finally hit...someone standing dead still. It's a start though, so feel free to take a short break while I help with this drowzee here.” He said as I sat down on a stool and massaged my aching head. Well, it was progress at least, and something else to add to my repertoire of self defence. Sure, it was vastly inferior to using the weapon, but there may be a time where I can't use the weapon for some reason, or if I run out of ammunition. At least maybe now I wouldn't be totally defenceless without it. Still, most espurrs could pull off a confusion at the age of two, so I suppose it wasn't exactly anything to brag about.

Of course, I was doing all of this with my ears down. Only the best trained meowstics of either gender could keep them up for more then fifteen minutes at a time without them 'exploding', but I wondered how long I could do it for once I got a better feel for these kind of abilities. It might make pulling off a confusion a lot easier if I could snap them open for just a few seconds. Male meowstics were rather unpopular to use in professional battling compared to their female counterparts due to how their brains were wired. They simply weren't that cut out for blasting foes into submission, but had an impressive repertoire for doing pretty much anything else with their abilities. Perhaps if I become good enough, I could use them to back up my friends with psionic walls among other things.

“Feeling better?” The alakazam said, walking up to me as I pushed myself off the stool.

“Mostly.” I said, steadying myself in preparation for the next lesson. “Any advice about opening these things up? All I do is just get blasted back ten seconds after I try to open them.”

“I'll be honest little dude, you're best speaking to a meowstic about that. Though you could try if you close them quickly afterwards. It'll be something you should learn eventually if you live outside New Australia, and judging by your voice, you don't sound like you've ever been there in your life.” He replied as I thought about it for a moment.

“Is that an invitation?” I asked as I put my hands on my ears gently.

“If you want. Trust me; I can take a real beating.” The alakazam said as I smile nervously.

“Here it comes...” I muttered as I forced my ears open as my vision dilated heavily as I was able to see the psionic plane and everything that it was made up of. I felt my body stagger due to the energy coursing through it, so I had to make this quick. Thinking back to the techniques I learned I carefully used my right arm to aim just in front of his head and suddenly blip the targeted area forward and give it a sudden jerk of motion. Immediately afterwards, I jammed my ears shut and fell to my knees, feeling like I was about to blow up, though, thankfully, my body and mind calmed down.

“Nice shot there dude...ugh...” Alakazam said, looking very disorientated. I couldn't exactly say this was inhumane given Melinda's career which I fully supported however, so I was perfectly fine doing this to him. “Right, I think I want some revenge for that!”

“Wait, this wasn't part of the lesson!” I said as I saw the alakazam laugh with his long moustache bouncing.

“Oh it was! Don't worry, I'm not going to cause you any real pain.  You won't feel any if you do this right!” He said grinning widely as he lifted up a bunch of very small stones in front of him with telekinesis and held them above his head.

“You're not going to chuck them at me, right?” I asked nervously taking a step back.

“Duh! What else did you expect? The idea is that you'd block them with a psychic barrier.” He said as I stared at him blankly.

“...No idea how to do that. Look, I don't learn well under this sink-or-swim teaching.” I said, trying to calm down. “You need to tell me how to make them for me to stand a chance.”

“Ok, ok, fine...boring stuck-up...anyway feel for the area about twenty cementers in front of you.” He told me, and I was actually able to do this part without much trouble. Seems like I had gotten somewhat competent at being able to pinpoint an area in my surroundings, so maybe I didn't suck so badly at this after all!

“Right, this will be hard to describe if you can't see the psionic plane right now, but if you can see it with your ears up, then this should be fine...see how your vision is covered by wavy pale turquoise strands, right? Well, for an area in front of you, you want to stretch them out so that they're dead straight. How this works is that the stronger you can hold them straight, the stronger the barrier. Naturally, you need to be stupidly powerful if you want to stop an aggron charging at you, but, well, that's what running away is for, isn't it.” He said, laughing to himself as I tried to feel for those threads.

“This is hard...” I said, deciding to open my ears up for just a moment to take a peek. A second was all it took as I was able to feel the threads of the psionic plane, so I snapped them shut again immediately. Feeling a few of them in front of me I tugged on them tightly and felt them straighten as I saw a slight glimmer of light in front of my face.

“I think I've got it.” I said as alakazam gently lobbed a little stone at me. I held them tightly with my mind, but when the stone collided I felt the strands slip from my grasp as the stone landed on my foot, thankfully causing me to real pain.

“Well, better than nothing. If that barrier wasn't there, it'd have hit you in the face. See, you're not so bad at this: Just needed someone to show you the way.” He said as I smiled slightly. “A tip though: if you suddenly tense them when the stone's about to collide, it'll make it far more effective.”

“Let's give it a try then.” I said as I watched the stone he threw at me very carefully and suddenly pulled tightly with all of my mental strength just as it was about to hit. I smiled broadly when the next thing I saw was the stone land harmlessly in front of me.

“Keep all this up, and you'll catch up with your peers in about a few months!” The alakazam said, encouraging me on as I blocked the next stone. “Now, I'll make things more complex.” He continued, grinning as he lobbed one at a strange angle, forcing me to turn around and block it from the right, though I was unable to put up a barrier in time as it hit me on the forehead.

“Ow!” I said, rubbing my head as I saw the alakazam clearly get some kind of enjoyment from it. It was like this guy got enjoyment out of everything in life, and I must admit, I was rather jealous of that. For the rest of the training, I was able to get a little better at my barriers and my confusions, though unless I get much better, I'd probably still be relying on the weapon. I heard a small explosion from next door causing everyone in the room to jump in shock before I heard Melinda yell apology after apology.

“Oh no, please say you're ok!” I heard her yell as I ran to the room next door as she tried to help up the dojo owner. “Sorry, thought I'd try something new, I didn't expect that to happen!” She continued, as she struggled to get him to his feet. He didn't look horribly injured, but hardly looked in a state to be training any of his students for several days with a really nasty looking burn that covered almost all of his torso. I was amazed how well it showed up on his dark body, and I can't help but wonder exactly what Melinda done to him to cause that.

“I...I'm not sure whether I should be angry or proud...” He said weakly as Melinda helped him walk very slowly toward us. “How did you do that?”

“I could explain some other time, you should get someone to treat you.” Melinda said, and right on queue, a blissey came waddling quickly towards us and took him through to the medical room.

“Well...that's why I fire-proofed that room.” He said in a croaky voice, smiling slightly as he was helped inside.

“...Mel'...?” I asked as she put her hands on her forehead.

“I thought I'd try some experimental technique that I just thought up right there and then and...well, it worked far too well.” Melinda said, her voice wavering as she seemed to be consumed by guilt.

“Ah, he'll be fine with a couple of days rest.” I said, trying to relax her.

“Still two days I ruined for him.” She replied, still evidently feeling terrible about it. “I bed-bound a sixty-something year old Basil!”

“It was an accident Mel', he surely understands that, and also knows of the risks of doing such a thing. It's like back home when we're training your team: sometimes, shit like this happens. Can't get too hung up about it you know. Just move on and save that technique when we find someone who actually wants us dead.” I said, trying to get her to think straight about this.

“...I suppose...” She said as Murphy ran over to join us. Something I noticed about him that honestly just occurred to me is that he always ran everywhere he went unless he was walking with someone. Natural for a heliolisk really, so I shouldn't be surprised.

“I didn't like that very much...” He said, and it was at this moment where I realised that I, of all people, enjoyed combat training the most out of the three of us. Never thought I'd see that day. “My tutor kept saying that I was very good and nigh impossible to land an attack on, but I just wasn't feeling it.”

“It's like when I was doing maths in school.” Melinda said to him. “I could get As easily with barely any studying, but I just hated doing it. My parents weren't too happy when I decided to get into...well, my human career back home, but I made it work out.”

“I just want to go home now, I'm sick of this!” Murphy said fairly loudly, which had me looking over my shoulder to see if people were listening in on us. “All I want to do is to entertain people and make them happy, but everyone just seems to want me to scare others and them beat them up! I didn't run away from home for this...”

“Murphy, after we go back to Broussard together, I'm going to give you a real big helping hand in what you want to do, be that stay in Newer Orleans or just go home to your family; I promise.” I said, but, surprisingly, Melinda didn't seem to agree.

“What about The Devourer though? We need all the help we can get to stop-” She said until Murphy snapped at her.

“You're just like Audrey and the others!” He shouted before storming off.

“Murphy, I'm sorry, I didn't mean it like that!” Melinda yelled, trying to catch up with him, but there were very few who could keep up with a sprinting heliolisk, so she gave up pretty quickly.

“When I spoke to him before we left for Conviction, he seemed to be pretty on board with all this...” Melinda said, looking upset at how things turned out.

“The young guy's been through a lot lately, he probably doesn't really know what he wants to do with himself right now. That's why I want him to just return to whatever made him happy: Besides, I kind of pushed him into this mess in the first place. Just think of the cavalcade of shit that has happened to him over the past couple of weeks: He befriended an alien, left home, started acting, got roped into the Excursion Club, learned about The Devourer and is now in a foreign continent. We're not the only ones to have our lives drastically changed.” I said, though Melinda was less sympathetic than I imagined.

“The Devourer is threatening the entire planet Basil, and we need all the help we can get.” She said as I scowled slightly. “Oh don't give me that look: you know he's just burying his head in the sand, and you're only encouraging him to do so.”

“Mel', if that's what you truly believe, then go find him and talk him out of what I said. Go on! He's not stupid, so he won't leave Treasure Town, and this place is a lot smaller than Newer Orleans, so you shouldn't have too much difficulty finding him.” I said haughtily, still frowning at my sister. “Kind of rich how you cared so much when you accidentally caused the dojo owner an injury or all the times you needlessly fretted what happened to your opponents pokemon, but not about what's going on with Murphy.”

“Because, unlike those examples you mentioned, we're not dealing with an alien that could end everything on this planet!” She said, snarling slightly at me which seemed a little scary given she was a lot taller than me now. “The stakes are far higher here, and we can't let stuff like that get in the way.”

“Then you should congratulate yourself for finding a way to wound the dojo owner that badly if you go with that kind of logic! Just think what you could do to our enemies if only you found a way to permanently cripple him! Why don't you...well, if you think talking him into staying with us so we can find a way to find Serge, then, well, do what you think is right. Final word ends with Murphy on whether he leaves or stays.” I said, calming down. As much as I loved my sister, we argued a lot, and it seems like our new bodies hadn't changed a thing in that regard.

“I should tell Exploud what happened. Besides, we should stay as a group, so hopefully Murphy will be safe.” Melinda said and saw Exploud wandering around, looking for someone.

“Trying to find the dojo owner? There was a...training accident. He's in the medical room.” I said to him.

“It happens sometimes. Anyway, know where Murphy is?” Exploud asked as we answered honestly.

“Ah, he should be fine. Still, let's look for him.” Exploud said as we left the dojo. Surprisingly, we found him within a mere three minutes as he just stood there drinking a bottle of water by himself.

“Oh, hello. Sorry for running off like that.” Murphy said, still sounding a little down over the argument he had with Melinda.

“Well, now that we're all together, shall we quickly check in with the rest of the guild? Won't take too long, and you can have the rest of the afternoon and early evening to yourself.” Exploud told us as we walked back to the silly looking headquarters and found the rest inside discussing their findings.

“I swore I saw the mienshao. It seems to be keeping an eye on us, almost as if it was hovering around the outskirts of Treasure Town.” Nisbeth said to Bibarel and a couple of other guild members. “It ran away super fast as soon as I caught a glimpse of him, and I never saw him again.”

“Well, it's a good thing we always kept together as a group.” Bibarel said as he noticed our arrival. “I hope your training went well. Sadly, Neerav wasn't cut out for being a pokemon at all, no matter how much time we sent him there.”

“Actually went quite well for me.” I said, not bringing up anything else that happened. “Anything else you found?”

“Not much I'm afraid. The statue itself seemed to be less defined, as if it was done by a less experienced sculptor. Nisbeth said he saw the mienshao briefly, but that was about it. The statue was still utterly unmovable, and we couldn't scratch it or leave any kind of mark on it at all.” He said as I started thinking of possible ideas.

“Any responses to the wanted posters we've been putting up?” I asked as he shook his head.

“We had to be honest, but I think this mienshao's mysterious power has scared everyone off looking for them.” Bibarel replied as I thought about things a bit further.

“Say, how did you find Neerav anyway? Did he just appear on your doorstep?” I asked.

“I first saw him when he was trying to speak with the high priest of the human church, an old blastoise, when they were walking into town. We don't get along very well since I've said that Floyd wasn't the perfect saviour that everyone thinks he is. Anyway, he said he found him a mile outside of town, and was just taking him in there so he'd be safe and had no intentions of actually looking after him, so I offered to take him off his hands. After a while, I put together that he was a human! What a stroke of luck!” He replied as I started wondering what would have happened if the priest figured out that Neerav was a human.

“Now, in the human world, we have so many more languages than this world does. Does the church know about this?” I asked as Bibarel shrugged.

“There's probably a copy of their book of Floyd or whatever those nutters call their book in the library somewhere.” Bibarel said as I went there right away.

“Hey Basil, are you heading anywhere with this?” Nisbeth said from behind when I was busy searching through the books, causing me to jump in surprise.

“Tell no one about this, ok?” I said, looking at him with narrow, serious eyes.

“Well, sure then...fine, I promise.” He said as I grinned slightly.

“Well, Bibarel said there was no response from the wanted notices. Sure, they've not been up for long, but you'd think someone would have responded by now, even if it's just to put forward information. It's clear that they're scared of this mienshao and what he can do, and I can't exactly blame them. Therefore, I'm planning to see if I can get a more...devoted group to hunt him down.” I said, smiling rather wickedly as I began to think of my scheme.

“...I don't follow.” Nisbeth said as I tapped him smugly on the arm, given I was unable to reach his shoulder.

“Well, the Pale Communion was good for one thing: It reminded me that it's far better to be on the side of a big crowd than all alone when a witch hunt is taking place.” I said as it clicked within Nisbeth's head.

“Oh...oh that's good! I don't think anyone else will be happy with that though, so your secret's safe with me. I'm not gonna help you with that though, since it seems a bit...well, manipulative.” He replied, showing both admiration and concern.

“That's kind of the idea.” I said, grinning at him. “The mienshao's probably fast, but I'm sure there'll be faster pokemon that will be attending that large church tonight. Regardless, I don't think it'll work if they don't know that Indian is a language that's only spoken in the human world: It'd then make a lot of sense to the priest that the scraggy he saw was speaking gibberish to him.” I said as I continued looking for the book. After a few irritating minutes, I was able to find it with the helpfully appropriate title 'The Church of Mankind.'

Scanning through the pages, I searched for mentions of language or anything that might help give evidence that Neerav was a human to these people. I snickered to myself whilst reading through all the bullshit praise and adoration they gave my kind, which almost made the read worthwhile, and eventually, I was able to find some words from Serge who had supposedly visited the human world to meet with Floyd briefly thirty years ago. Again, his supposed experiences were bullshit, but given that Serge saw nothing wrong with summoning some of us without permission and getting many of my kind killed in the process, I wondered how much of this was fabricated by the church. After half an hour of reading, I eventually found it, causing me to leap almost a foot in the air in joy.

'The humans came from countless different ways of life, each as incredible as the last, speaking in many different tongues and came in many different sizes, shapes and colours.' It didn't matter how false any of this actually was: I had the 'evidence' right here! It simply must not have occurred to the high priest at the time! All I'd have to do now is tell him, and hopefully let the priest do the rest of the work for me! Maybe this mienshao will be forced to give answers. Even if he doesn't know where Serge is, I'm sure that there'd be at least something useful he could tell us. Finally, after all the shit that life has thrown at me in the last three weeks or so, luck was finally on my side!

After quickly telling Bibarel that I was heading out for a couple of hours, he informed me that it should be safe as long as I'm back before nine since the streets were usually still busy until then. Leaving alone, I made my way quickly towards the church, dodging between the pokemon walking around. Maybe if I was quick, I could catch the priest before he gives the service, I could tell him about this and cause a big change in his script.

Arriving just outside the church, I started looking around for the blastoise. The service hasn't stared yet, and peering through the windows, I couldn't find anyone inside. Must be really early then, which suited me fine. The inside was fairly lavish, with paintings of humans on every wall, some depictions more accurate than others. One of them even had a long tail, another with hair over every single part of her body.

“Hello, are you curious about what's inside?” I heard someone say to me from behind. Just who I was looking for! Unless it was some other blastoise that I saw.

“H-hello! Are you the priest by any chance?” I asked, smiling at him.

“Why, yes I am! Come to learn about the history and greatness of the humans that elevated us from our animalistic roots and continue to watch over and protect us?” He asked as I nodded eagerly.

“Yes, yes I have! Although, I think I've made an important discovery.” I said as I noticed him sigh.

“If someone claims to be a human, they're probably lying. Trust me, we've had many, many individuals claim to be human to try and exploit us, and we're all sick of it.” He said, sounding like he's heard this song and dance before. Seemed like he'd be a tough nut to crack, but I wasn't going to give up that easily.

“I've never met this person, but after speaking to Bibarel about him, I think I've figured out that he's a human!” I said excitedly as he rolled his eyes.

“Don't trust Bibarel: He was one of the few extraordinarily lucky ones to have ever met The Sound of Perseverance yet is well known in Treasure Town for denying his divinity.” He said, sounding like he was losing patience.

“Please, just hear me out. It's a scraggy that Bibarel said you were taking to Treasure Town. Can't have been that long ago.” I said as he thought back to the time.

“...Go on...” He said slowly as I continued.

“Well, Bibarel said he was speaking gibberish and claimed he was very poorly adjusted to life in general. Sound familiar at all?” I said as the blastoise paused for a moment to think about it.

“Yes, but that hardly proves he was a human.” He said as I suggested to open up the Church of Mankind book to the correct page.

“Look here: The Guardian of Forever, who went to the human world says they spoke in many different tongues! What if it was not gibberish, but a language that is only spoken in the human world? It would also explain how he was not well adjusted to life here.” I said as he paced around the church grounds for a while.

“I did hear of the rumours that The Guardian of Forever was bringing humans into this world. If all this is true, then this will surely only be slowly incurring the wrath of the humans over time if he is bringing them unwillingly. They may be wise beyond measure, but they were never stated to be particularly impressive physically. I cannot imagine they will be willing to protect us after such transgressions against their kind.” He said, and I began to really like the way he was thinking. “Putting all this together would normally seem like a huge stretch, but it all adds up and makes sense...”

“The humans are indeed not safe here. The Pale Communion has been active outside of this continent, and I have heard they have been murdering people they believe are humans. That is not all, however. Did you hear what happened to Neerav, the scraggy who I believe to be a human?” I asked as he gasped slightly.

“The wanted posters! They say that he was turned into one of those black statues that I’ve heard about!” He said, his eyes widening.

“Consider this: What would The Sound of Perseverance do if he was still with us?” I said, feeling like I had started to crack him. “Do you think the humans would still watch over is if we did nothing to help protect the ones The Guardian of Forever brought here?”

“…What exactly are you trying to get at here?” He said, suddenly eyeing me with suspicion.

“Look, I’ve been really shy about attending the services. I learned all this by reading that book in my spare time before I went to work for Bibarel, but when I heard from him that some gibberish speaking scraggy was turned into one of those black statues by a mienshao, I started doing my own research and investigation, and all I’m saying is that this gibberish could be a human language, and that Floyd, or The Sound of Perseverance, whether that scraggy was a human or not, wouldn’t stand for it. He’d get out there and do something about it.” I said, hoping he’d listen to me.

“Hrm…I’ll bring this up with some of the frequent attendees to see what they think.” He said, clearly not wanting to jump to a rash decision. I respected that really, though I was still hoping they’d see things the way I wanted. Shortly, a few pokemon started walking into the church grounds from behind and was let in by the blastoise, who told me to wait outside. I didn’t want to be seen peeping in since it would likely arouse suspicion, but I was able to listen through the walls slightly, since they weren’t very will built.

“…So you really think that scraggy could have been a human?” I heard someone say, followed by a whole bunch of statements and rhetorical questions by a bunch of other strangers.

“Impossible: that meowstic is probably putting you up to something.”

“I doubt it. If he was just trying to do something for his own ends, why would be bother trying to convince us a dead teenager was a human? What would he stand to gain from it?”

“Maybe he’s just misguided. I mean, he has been hanging around with Bibarel, so he’s probably been influenced by that heretic.”

“Or, what if he was right? Like you said, we can hardly expect the humans to look after us if we don’t lift a finger to help some individuals in need. The risk is not to take action: the risk is doing nothing.”

“Enough!” The blastoise priest announced. “We must come to a decision before the others arrive: Will the church work together in finding this mienshao, or will we leave it to the Bibarel Guild.”

“We’re not law enforcement, and we’re not a militant organization. We should not become vigilantes over a wild rumour.”

“Even if the scraggy was not a human, sitting back and doing nothing isn’t what Floyd would have wanted. Didn’t it state that he wanted us pokemon to follow his example? Really, we should be encouraging the churches in Broussard and Fremdesland to really start taking it to those Pale Communion bastards!”

“We all know that’s illegal, and could even get someone killed! Also, we refer to him as The Sound of Perseverance.”

“You should know that we follow something higher than local laws, and when there are pokemon out there murdering each other, the greatest crime would be to stand back and do nothing.”

“All I’m saying is that we should follow Floyd’s example, and we can also call him by his name. I heard from people who knew him that he insisted on being called ‘Floyd’ when he was still around.”

“Well, among your bickering, I’ve come to a decision.” I heard the blastoise say loudly over the others. “We will bring this up with the others, and they can act as they see fit. As far as I’m concerned, Persian’s right: we can’t do nothing. Even if only a quarter of us go, that’s still way more of us than the whole Bibarel guild. I never liked Bibarel very much, but if there’s a common cause, I’m sure he’ll appreciate out help.”

“This’ll get us shut down…” I heard someone mutter quietly, straining my hearing as I heard the pokemon walk out of the door.

“Well, that’s one who simply couldn’t walk in Floyd’s sacred path. Well, time to let the others in.” The blastoise said as I carefully made my way into the gathering crowd without being seen by those inside the building and followed them inside. The pews had some very amateur carvings into them, and I couldn’t tell what they were even supposed to represent, and they seemed to be solely made for smaller pokemon, such as myself. The larger ones just sat in position, and it became clear that it they were designed so no one’s view would be blocked. There were bookshelves on either side of the audience, and I assumed they must have contained documents of human appearances.

“Greetings all, and welcome to tonight’s service.” The blastoise said, standing tall and firm as I saw the pokemon he was discussing my ideas with all sitting in the front. “This service will be very different from the others, since this will not be a service of praise and adoration, but one of action.” Craning my head to the left to look past the disgusting swalot in front of me, I could see some of the pokemon on the front row looking very excited, alongside a couple that gave of a sense of dread.

“Some of you may have heard of the lost gibberish-speaking scraggy I found. After some introspection and my discovery that he had been turned into a black statue as many of you probably know from glancing at the wanted posters, I believe that scraggy was, in fact, a human.” He announced, and, as I predicted, the entire building erupted into chaotic chatter. I couldn’t make out what anyone was saying since everyone kept drowning each other out, but I still sat there steadily, trying to hide my smug grin.

“SILENCE!” The blastoise suddenly bellowed and started listing off all the evidence I gave him carefully, putting up the best arguments he could. Now, these people would probably ignore me, but to have such an influential person effectively speak on my behalf here. Now, if this all follows through, I’d be able to wring some answers from that mienshao, or at the very least make this world that little bit safer for me and my friends. Perhaps this new active attitude from the church could spread beyond this continent, driving the Pale Communion even further underground, making the world safer for any other humans out there. Yet, Melinda and the others probably wouldn’t be happy at what I’m doing right now, but maybe she wouldn’t have to find out.

“The Sound of Perseverance is no longer with us, but the spirit carries on. His will and example is one that should be followed by everyone!” He said as I recalled no mention of Serge meeting Floyd in the Church of Mankind book, yet from what I heard of Floyd, he briefly met Serge. Guess that detail got forgotten, or was purposefully left out for some reason. “We cannot sit idly by and watch this…creature do this to a human! Even if I am wrong, and the scraggy is not a human, sitting back and doing nothing in response to a murder is something that The Sound of Perseverance would surely frown upon.”

“We must find this mienshao now!” I heard some yell out from the crowd. Just as I had planned. I went out in this world and took my chances, rolled the bones, and won. Maybe. I just felt high from the success I had with this. Aside from what this would hopefully accomplish, I got a strange kick out of being able to have this much influence over these people. Probably shouldn’t get too carried away with these notions, or Melinda would give me a lot of shit.

“Very well, we shall all set out in five minutes and commence our search for this mienshao and bring him to justice!” The blastoise announced to mostly applause from all the church attendees. Well, it’s probably best I report this to Bibarel and the others, since they’d probably want to know about this and make the most of the little army I recruited for them. Sneaking out carefully, I ran back towards the guild while the streets were still populated and swiftly climbed the stairs before scrambling down the ladder.

“Bibarel!” I said loudly to get his attention. “I was attending the Church of Mankind out of curiosity, as you’d expect from a human. I wanted to find out what they think of us, but they said that they figured out that Neerav was a human and are all banding together to hunt down the mienshao!” I said, gasping for breath, trying to make myself look more shocked than I actually was.

“…And you’re sure you had absolutely nothing to do with this?” He said, eyeing me suspiciously.

“No!” I instinctively said. “However, we should really take advantage of this golden opportunity! They’ll probably be leaving about now, so we should go with them, or at least monitor them. What if they just decide to just kill him and leave us with no information?”

“Hrm…” He responded, stroking his chin. “I guess this is a good thing, but…well, help me get everyone ready.”

“I’m on it!” I said, smiling to myself as the word spread quickly throughout the building. Melinda must have overheard what happened before I told her as she quickly took me to one side, not looking pleased.

“Did…did you just start a crusade?” She said hotly, hissing slightly as she spoke.

“…Yeeeaaaahhhh…” I said slowly, smiling sheepishly. “Look, this was a great move. Any remaining humans will be safer if this ‘crusade’ spreads to other lands, and it’ll make this world less dangerous. If these guys drive the Pale Communion even further underground, then they’ll be out of the way so we can focus our efforts on finding Serge and finding a way to defeat The Devourer. I didn’t even lie this time!”

“Well, I can see where you’re coming from but…well, won’t this get a fair number of people killed?” She said, sounding deeply concerned.

“This world’s already pretty damn lethal, I’ve hardly changed anything. Besides, better those scumbags die than anyone else.” I said, as I gathered my stuff together. “This should result in less suffering overall, so…shouldn’t that make you happy?”

“Well…” She said, and I could tell that she thought I was right, even if she didn’t want to admit it. “Look, I just think we should be doing everything we can to prevent people from dying here.”

“I’m not forcing them into this. They did it on their own volition, and I used no trickery. If they end up getting hurt over it, I can’t be made responsible.” I said, as we started walking to meet with the others.

“How odd – you seem to get really wound up over encouraging Nisbeth and Murphy to come along with you, even though they made the choice in the end.” She said as I turned around to stare at her.

“They’re friends: that makes things very different. Now come on: let’s enjoy being at the more desirable end of a witch hunt for a change!”
Pokemon: Incarnation - Chapter 17
Basil gets pushed around further by his leaders before he finally decides to try and solve the issue in his own way

Chapter 18: One Little Victory (Coming soon!)
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Pokemon: Incarnation

Chapter 16: Alien Shore


“Sleeping in again Basil? Just like your human self.” Melinda said, chuckling slightly as she woke me up.

“Didn't sleep well. Pretty hard when The Devourer's out there, so please forgive me.” I replied, grumbling slightly as we met in the dining hall for breakfast. Charlie was running up and down, gathering all the equipment he could find. I assumed it was because he didn't want to leave without a tool that could crack the secrets of the black statues, and a bottle of booze was noticeably absent from his left hand.

“Got a moment you two?” Jirachi said, yawning slightly as he took Melinda and I to one side. “Just advising you on a few things about going to Conviction since I used to live there. Audrey's only been there once before, so take my advice over hers. In hind sight, I really have no idea why Charlie didn't try to nag me into leading you guys there over Audrey. Anyway, don't expect people to call you Melinda and Basil. It'll be Marowak and Meowstic while you're there. They used to be fine with foreigners calling themselves by their actual names, but the loonies over there think their culture is under threat and thus refuse to call anyone by name.”

“That sounds stupid. How do families operate then? 'Hey, Pikachu, Pikachu wants some toast!' 'So does Pikachu and Pikachu, but Pikachu doesn't like toast so give him eggs instead!'” I said, with Melinda clearly trying to hide her laughter.

“I'd be offended, but I agree with you. It's partially why I moved here. Also, your humanity...you should keep it a secret there too, but for a different reason. The Pale Communion are pretty much non-existent there, given the locals think of your kinds as being like gods. Y'know, just like Dialga. Doesn't help that The Sound of Perseverance, or Flynn...Floyd, that was his name, supposedly beat up Dialga alongside The Guardian of Forever.” He said, sounding like he was struggling to stay awake. I'd suggest that he just rests on the ground instead of spending energy hovering there, but who was I to question how this jirachi operates?

“Speaking of Floyd, did I ever tell you that I actually met him? No one here believes me, but maybe you will...” He said, giving an awkward smile as Melinda and I looked at each other briefly.

“We have too. Don't ask us how the different stories of that strange policeman match up.” Melinda replied.

“It's why I believe the whole Floyd saving the world thing is bogus. I mean, come clean with me – did he look or act like someone who'd save us all from being frozen in time? One day, I was sleeping in my cave and out comes this strange looking snivy saying that he was a human and wanted to be returned to his homeland. Now our kind actually can't grant wishes, but I felt bad about disappointing the guy, so I tried a sort of lie, but he saw through it pretty quickly. After that, he just left and that was it, and some time later, I heard he was from the future and that he stared Dialga in the face and made him blink first, metaphorically speaking, stopped time from, well, stopping, and died.” He said, yawning.

“Well, when we met him, it was at a Halloween party, and-” Melinda said, with Jirachi raising one of his eyebrows.

“Halloween?” He asked us, letting us know that this human tradition hadn't made it to this world.

“Eh, a human thing. Anyway, he arrived a little late, had a talking sceptile pounce and hug him and stuff, and just sat in the corner watching everyone like he was still on duty.” Melinda said, but this didn't quell Jirachi's curiosity at all.

“You mean a civilized sceptile, right? Are they common there? It's a long shot, but I wonder if that sceptile had anything to do with the grovyle he was working with...ah, this is all making me tired. Anyway, be sure to be nice to Guildmaster Bibarel, he knew both the supposed heroes fairly well while they were around, so he'll hopefully be able to tell you where to find him. I'd better go set up the psychic alarm system while I, ahem, 'watch' this place while the others are gone. Good luck!” Jirachi said, floating by us.

“So...believe there's any truth to the whole creepy cop saving time itself? If it's true, then we technically owe us his life. If it happened thirty-five years ago, neither of us would have even been born by this point.” Melinda said as I thought about it briefly.

“Eh, probably grains of truth in it somewhere. Though, what he said about treating humans as gods though...” I said, slowly cracking a smile as I rubbed my hands together.

“Don't even think about it Basil.” Melinda said strictly as I rolled my eyes.

“You're not my mum Mel'!” I retorted as we laughed together as we walked downstairs to join Audrey, Nisbeth and Murphy.

“Just in time you two. Anyway, as I was saying, we're going to give you all some of Conviction currency. Don't spend more than you need to, as in, no gifts, no luxuries or anything like like that. If we end up with spare time, there'll be an exchange in Treasure Town where you can bring your own money to swap out.” She said, handing us all a small sack of money each. “I've got the return tickets for the journey, and I'll be keeping a hold of them.”

“So we can't go back when we want?” Nisbeth asked, not sounding the look of things.

“I'm the boss on this trip, and you will answer to me, Toxicorak.” She said sternly at him.

“My name is Nisbeth, in case you forgotten.” He retorted, grumbling slightly.

“Just getting in practice of blending into their culture and not sticking out like a sore thumb. As for the humans, I'd imagine that if they adjusted to our way of life here, then this should be easy, right?” She asked us, sounding friendlier.

“Trust me, I've not adjusted at all.” I said, giving a hollow laugh.

“Oh nonsense, you've done really well so far Basil. Anyway...” She said, as she went over a few things. Glancing at the others, I could tell that Nisbeth really didn't want to go through with this. I really felt for the guy though, since I doubt he dreamt of having all this responsibility thrown on him, but with the threat of The Devourer, returning home to his old life wasn't much of an option either. Regardless, I'd make sure things worked out for him ok in the end. Murphy also looked like he'd rather be elsewhere, more specifically a theatre. Looking back at Audrey, I began suspecting that she flat out conned him with her offer, but with The Devourer at large, it seemed like Murphy was also locked in here. Poor guys; if it weren't for me, they needn't have to worry about all this.

“Well, that should be everything. Meet up back here in ten minutes, and we'll head out to the docks.” Audrey said after she was done explaining everything as I got my possessions together and fit them all nicely in my backpack.

“For you.” I heard Jirachi say from behind after I left my room, handing me a few pouches. “Some powder for the weapon in case you get into trouble over there.”

“...I can't believe I almost forgot to restock on that!” I said, thanking him, though feeling very annoyed at myself for being so careless.

“That backpack looks heavy for you.” Melinda said, looking down at me.

“Sorry that I didn't turn into a bigger pokemon!” I said, grunting as I tightened the straps. Before long, we set out into town as I watched Jirachi close up the place behind me with an occasional look over my shoulder. When we arrived, I saw a pair of feraligators inspecting the hull of the ship from the waters, swimming around it carefully before giving someone a signal of some kind.

“All safe, you may board  now.” A furret announced as Audrey showed him our tickets as we walked across the gangplank.

“What was that about?” Melinda asked Audrey.

“Well, there is one group of pokemon that are very upset about ships being invented and developed over the past few decades. The sea fearing industry was purely controlled by a family of laprases before hand and charged extortionate amounts of cash. Naturally, they're very upset now that the wind has been taken out of their sails, so to speak.” She said, pointing upwards as the ships sails unfolded from above. “Ever since they sunk one of the ships here, the entire family are not allowed anywhere near our coast.”

“That's horrible!” Melinda said, shocked upon hearing this.

“How many died?” I asked, wanting to get more of the details.

“About twenty. After that, what little business they had left sunk. Seriously, what is it with me and puns right now...” She said, sighing slightly as I took a look around the ship. It was about the size of a small galleon, though given the many different shapes and sizes that pokemon come in, I couldn't tell how many passengers it could hold. It was surprisingly very much like the ships that were used in the seventeenth century in design, with a few local touches, such as a wider design and the fleur-de-lis painted on the sails. I must admit, I'd have loved to watch one of these ships being built by the people here.

“Isn't it exciting that we're getting to see another continent?” Melinda said to the rest of us.

“My parents are going to slaughter me...” Murphy said, sounding rather sad and filled with a faint sense of dread.

“It's what I've dreamed off, but...well, I'd have liked to have done this without the threat of you-know-what.” Nisbeth said, wandering off to be on his own.

“I've screwed up Mel'...” I said to her quietly as the ship made its way out of the harbour as I stared over the stern of the ship, keeping my eyes on State Broussard as it started to approach the horizon. “Look at the pair of them; they're miserable being here! I confess, I did exploit them initially, but after a while, I did truly want to see them achieve their hopes and dreams. Murphy, the acting prodigy! Nisbeth, being the explorer he always wanted to be...just that he needed me and possibly a midlife crisis to take the last chance to go out there and make his dreams come true before he got too old! I thought that I'd have helped make their lives so much better...should have told Audrey to get lost when making that offer to Murphy...” I continued, leaning my chin on the railing of the ship.

“You can't be responsible for their decisions Basil. They chose to go with you, they chose to become part of the Excursion Club. Not every choice works out in the end, such as my decision to stray from your plan for the finals.” She said, trying to make me feel better.

“Yeah, and they wouldn't have chosen to do so if I didn't badger them into it. I mean, neither of them were exactly unhappy with where they were, and now I've burdened them with all this nonsense. Face it Mel', I've been terrible to them, and I feel as though if I do something to make it up to them, I'll only dig them deeper in this mess.” I said, sighing heavily as I gazed at the sea below.

“You know, right now, I'm starting to identify with those Floyd worshippers. Maybe he'd know what to do right now.” I said as Melinda leaned on the railing next to me. Thankfully, it looked very sturdy, so there was no risk of falling overboard. “Speaking of Floyd, know what I did to try and find you back in our world? I went to the police and spoke to him. Turns out all the stuff he told me about this world was true, but I swore he was hiding something, so you know what I did? I got your team together, had Fearow track down where he lived and used the rest of your team to try and get the answers of out Floyd by force. Then, I was taken to this world. To think, I might have killed the career of this world's hero, since he'll have a lot of explaining to do.”

“Did you not even consider that you'd be arrested?! Could have gone to prison for several years, and good luck getting a respectable job after that!” Melinda said, sounding quite disturbed about what I did. “Are my pokemon ok?”

“They were when I last saw them, but that was over two weeks ago. Regardless, I knew the risks, but do you think I could live with myself if I didn't do what I thought was necessary to know what happened to you and to make sure you're safe? I couldn't live with myself if I didn't do what I did.” I said honestly, as Melinda smiled at me.

“That's honestly slightly creepy in a way, but I really appreciate it regardless. Still, you know I'm tough and smart as a human or a pokemon: I'll be ok  Basil, I promise you. We're going to find a way to defeat The Devourer, then we can go back to our old lives and win the British Isles cup for 2068. Besides, wouldn't saving their world be an excellent way to make up for what you've thought you've done to your friends over there?” She said as I rolled my eyes.

“Hey, convincing people to do things is my job!” I said and laughed, not wanting to give her a direct answer. “So how are the others at the Excursion Club like anyway, since you've known them for a lot longer than I have.”

“Kind of weird, but probably just a very foreign culture thing. The higher-ups all seem very nice to me, but I'm assuming that it's because they see me as a way to defeat The Devourer, given that they're not as friendly to their own. I mean, it's a miracle Charlie hasn't died of alcohol poisoning, and Audrey gets quite snappy with the lower staff members sometimes.” She said, gazing up into the sky upon hearing some wingulls caw loudly. “A part of me misses home. Really could use some Yes right now.”

“Like I said, I’m going to make sure we get away from all this. I mean, this out of body experience has been fascinating when it’s not horrendously dangerous, but I’ve seen and experienced enough here. Say, if they don’t freak out when they see what you do for a living, maybe Nisbeth could join your team. Let’s face it, you’re probably not going to win with Ursaring, and I think that Nisbeth would be a fantastic replacement.” I said as she frowned at me.

“He’s my first ever pokemon Basil, I’m not replacing him.” She said firmly as I slowly shook my head.

“Sentimentality doesn’t breed winners.” I said as Melinda looked over her shoulder to see some of the other passengers milling around near the bow of the ship.

“Well, if we stop The Devourer, that’ll be more worthwhile than winning thirty world championships in a row.” She said, looking at the strangers, probably thinking that their lives were in her hands.

“We’re just trying to find The Guardian of Forever for now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.” I said firmly.

“Promise me you won’t try to attack him on sight. I know you’re furious at him, and, well, so am I for getting Danil killed, but at least hear him out, won’t you?” She said as I grunted.

“Always the eternal peacekeeper, huh. Sure, I’ll listen to what he has to say, but I’ll be damned if I have to agree with even a single syllable of it. Were this a more conventional kidnapping by a foreign nation, it could lead to flat out war. If our people ever knew what was really happening and if they could travel here, I think The Devourer would be the least of their worries. Speaking of mankind, I know we were supposed to also keep our origins a secret on Conviction, but there must be something we can do with it.” I said as Melinda didn’t sound too happy about where I was going with this.

“We’re not going to try to get the locals to see us as gods Basil.” She said as I rolled my eyes.

“Why? It’s not like we’re going to see the people of Conviction again after this, and quite frankly, I could use something nice for a change. Would help to make up being chased around by the Pale Communion. Oh, and maybe we can convince them to help us find The Guardian of Forever.” I said, but Melinda was standing firm.

“Audrey told us not to, and she’s far more experienced about living in this world than we are. I say we just trust her on this.” Melinda replied as I looked over to her, speaking to Murphy near the starboard.

“I suppose you’re right, but I’m still going to think of ways to exploit this, with or without your help. Don’t worry, the last thing I’d do is drag you into this if you’re dead set against this.” I said, stretching my arms, smelling the salty sea air as the ship pushed on through the choppy waves.

“You’ve no idea how these people will react. What if they think sacrificing a human will bring back Floyd?” She said as I found myself unable to object to that.

“Well, I’ll keep tabs on their beliefs and customs before I do anything rash.” I said as I slowly walked around the ship. Nisbeth seemed content to just stand around by himself, as he seemed to stare constantly over the ship’s bow. Murphy seemed to have cheered up somewhat, and was speaking enthusiastically to some of the other passengers, hopefully keeping everything about The Devourer a secret.

“Enjoying yourself?” I heard Audrey ask me from behind.

“What do you think?” I said, not bothering to hide my sarcasm from my superior.

“I know we’re asking so much from you, but you should really at least try to enjoy this adventure we’re having.” She said as I sighed.

“Getting chased around by those bastards and narrowly escaping death is enough adventure for me. I’d totally pay for a safe guided tour for these strange lands though.” I replied, glancing over at her. “Write up an itinerary, and I’ll take a look.”

“Melinda seems more into this…” Audrey muttered to herself.

“Our people are varied, go figure.” I said, grumbling slightly.

“I trust you’ll be more polite to Guildmaster Bibarel. Consider that an order.” She said firmly as I scoffed at her.

“Wait, are you actually trying to pull rank?” I retorted, closing my eyes, and sighing heavily. “I think you’re forgetting something: You need us, but Melinda and I don’t need you, so I’d strongly recommend you take the opinions and thoughts of my sister and I very seriously. Try to get us to do something overly dangerous or nasty, and you’ll have to find another one of our people. Think about that carefully.” I said as I walked off before she could respond. There, that should give us some more bargaining room if push came to shove later on. She seemed friendly enough, but I had no real respect for her, especially with how she manipulated Murphy into this. If I was still around after things had settled down, I’d ensure she’d uphold her end of the deal to him.

Nothing much happened over the journey, though something strange I noticed is that, since there weren’t many bedrooms, the passengers took four hour sleeping shifts. Just my luck that some big and smelly nidoqueen was sleeping on the bed before me, and coupled with the next guest rudely demanding that I leave the exact second my sleep shift ended, I ended up being grouchy for the rest of the journey. Eventually, land came into sight during the late afternoon the following day and before long, the ship had arrived at the alien shore, pulling by  the only dock that the shoreline had. Even from here, this place seemed to be more primitive than State Broussard, with poorly laid out paths leading from the dock.

“Huh, see those statues to the right?” I said to Murphy standing next to me, pointing over to them, standing proudly on the beach. A small area was fenced off, though you could just walk around the fenced area quite easily. Inside the fence was the grandest of all the statues, and was unmistakably a snivy with a long, thin lead coming from the top of his head and falling behind it. A few pokemon were walking around there, a couple of them on their hands and knees outside the fenced area, as if they were worshipping the damn thing. “That’s Floyd, right?”

“It sure is.” Murphy said as I tried not to scoff at how the people here ended up worshipping some random high ranking police officer.

“You might have time to look around later, we have to see Bibarel now. Also, species names from now on, it’s considered polite here.” Audrey said as I rolled my eyes. Well, it’s not like that little tourist attraction was going anywhere, and these statues seemed pretty ordinary unlike those creepy jet black ones. Walking up the hill, we marched by a couple of signs directing us to Treasure Town, with signs leading back the way, directing people towards the dock and the memorial site for The Sound of Perseverance.

“Here we are.” Audrey said as we stood at the bottom to a flight of stairs carved into the large mound in front of us. At the top, we saw a goofy looking building with the top of it shaped and painted like a bibarel’s head.

“Well, I guess we know where his headquarters are.” I said, snickering slightly to Melinda. In fact, all four of us looked like we were trying not to laugh at this blatant ego stroking, but as we looked down the small hill and towards the rest of Treasure Town, it seemed like it was just part of their culture, since the streets were lined with building shaped after different species of pokemon. One in the shape of a chansey, one of a sneasel, and a large one in the shape of Floyd’s head could be seen from here, and that was just scratching the surface. They didn’t seem to be well built, and looked like they were made with more primitive techniques compared to the ones back in Broussard. I theorized this could be because the humans that wound up here were from longer ago than the Americans that founded State Broussard, and were introduced with older technology and also had more time to carve out their own culture instead of mimicking a human one.

“Bibarel, it’s Audrey.” I heard her say as I heard the sound of someone climbing from the inside of the building, leading me to believe that most of the building was dug into the ground. It made me wonder if the other buildings were mostly underground as a bibarel opened up the portcullis in front of us. He looked fairly old, yet far from retirement as he walked towards us and shook Audrey’s hand.

“Good to see you Mawile. I trust this is about you-know-what.” He said, drawling slightly.

“Yes, and you’ll be very interested in a couple of the guests I brought along.” She said as Bibarel lead us inside. “Must have been about seven years now since you took over this place after Wigglytuff retired.”

“It’s not going so well, but we’re still doing well enough to keep the place afloat. Still rather surreal to think I’d become the Guildmaster.” He replied as we carefully climbed down the ladder and ended up in the main hall. The floor here was a poorly treated wooden surface, as if they were doing the bare minimum to ensure people don’t get splinters in their feet, and seeing a couple of rickety chairs standing pathetically side by side to each other made me miss Broussard already. We were lead into Bibarel’s office as he sat behind the desk.

“So, discovered anything about what could lead us to The Devourer?” He asked slowly, looking a little stressed.

“Sadly, we’ve not done much, but we have found two humans, and they’re with us right now. The marowak here has adjusted very well to life here, and is very capable in combat. She learned very quickly. The meowstic however is having a lot of troubles, but has found a lot of creative ways to stay alive, given the Pale Communion has been onto him.” Audrey said as Bibarel walked over to my sister and I and inspected us carefully. While hardly the first choice for any respectable trainer, this bibarel looked like he was a veteran in combat and survival from the way he stared at us and his scar-covered body.

“Wonder how well they adapted compared to Floyd?” He said, smiling slightly. “Still, we have three humans now. I have one staying in the guild, who should be back any moment now. Once he returns with Exploud, I’ll bring him in here.”

“Wonderful! However, the thing we’re really wanting is to know where The Guardian of Forever might be.” She said as Bibarel chuckled slightly.

“Everyone calls him that these days. Much easier to just call him Serge. Just one syllable compared to right. Still, he was always a little strange when I knew him, always insisting on having people call him by his birth name. He’d have fit in nicely in Broussard.” He said, walking slowly back to his desk.

“Wait, who or what is Serge?” I asked.

“Who? He was a colleague of mine for some time here and was Floyd’s best friend while he was around. Very nice chap, though he was never quite the same after Floyd died, and eventually became obsessed with being The Guardian of Forever, keeping an eye on anything that might threaten the planet. Still, with The Devourer stalking around, he’s vital. He was friendly enough before he found out The Devourer was here, but he’s become pretty distant ever since. Makes sense, since he said in one of his letters that sending me a message through one of those New Australian communication devices or seeing me physically could lead The Devourer here. Still, he’s a wonderful person if you can catch him when he’s not stressing out over something, as rare as that is.” Bibarel said, occasionally peeking into a periscope that leaded up through the ceiling, presumably to see if there were anyone arriving.

“’Very nice chap?’ ‘Wonderful person?’ He almost got me indirectly killed, and I watched a human die that would have still been alive if he didn’t kidnap us and dump us on this planet!” I said sternly as Audrey cast me a glare. Bibarel sighed and rubbed his head, groaning slightly.

“Just as Serge said…he knew this was a horrible thing to do, but deemed it necessary to fight The Devourer. See, according to Serge, he discovered that humans were highly resistant to The Devourer, so he got the idea to summon as many as he could to help build an army to try and combat this thing. However, he could never specify a location for them, so the best he could do is dump them at random places on the planet.” He said as Melinda frowned slightly.

“Wonder how many of them were dumped in the sea. You said random places on the planet, and at least half this planet is covered with water.” She said as Bibarel slowly started looking pale beneath his fur.

“Golly, I never considered that. Look, I’m terribly sorry for what he done, this wasn’t my idea! I suggested that he should wait to see if the humans were at least willing and could find a way to specify a location, but he insisted that there wasn’t enough time. I swear that typhlosion has changed…” Bibarel said as I scoffed slightly.

“Wait, this grand ‘Guardian of Forever’ is just a typhlosion? Seems kind of…bland. Those beasties are pretty common where we come from.” I said, hiding a grin underneath my scowling face. If he’s a typhlosion then beating him to an inch of his life shouldn’t be too hard. I dealt with many of them given how popular they were among Yorkshire battling, so I know their capabilities inside out.

“He can do thing that no ordinary pokemon can do. The most obvious example is you two humans right there. He found a way to bring you two and many others to this world. He’s been rather tight lipped about how he can do all this though. Perhaps he’s afraid that The Devourer might find a way to use his power.” He said, visibly looking a little stressed.

“So, do you know where he could be right now?” Audrey asked as Bibarel shook his head.

“Sorry, he moves around constantly, presumably to keep The Devourer off him, and when I say ‘anywhere’, I mean ‘anywhere on this entire planet.’ He’d probably try to meet up with you or another human if he could. The process of sending me letters is very difficult. Supposedly, he writes them on the run and runs by a letterbox and puts it in. The Devourer hasn’t found me yet, so I think letters are safe.” He said, taking another look in the periscope.

“So…what exactly is The Devourer? What are we dealing with?” Nisbeth asked as Bibarel stalled for a bit.

“…We know very little about it. Serge said that The Watcher of The Skies saw it before from about two and a half thousand years ago and immediately fled the planet as soon as he saw its return. Serge himself is constantly on the run, so we can guess it’s stronger than them. Aside from that and knowing it arrived here on some kind of meteorite, we know almost nothing. It must have some access to the psionic plane since Serge refuses to use communication devices. Meowstic, I trust you know about this.” He said as I shrugged.

“Look, I can barely use meowstic abilities. I’m really useless here. Really, he should have just summoned Floyd again since he’s alive and well in our world, and being a well built policeman, it seems like he’d be suited to this.” I said, and unlike everyone else, Bibarel didn’t seem surprised at this.

“Serge described him as being too old, though I’m wondering if that was just a cover-up excuse. He’s terribly sentimental about him. In a strange way, I don’t really understand why. See, while most people here worship him as some kind of higher being, I knew the Floyd that came here just before he prevented time from freezing and dooming this planet and many others.” He said as he lowered his voice. “Honestly, while he’s probably a good person at heart, I thought he was a bit of an asshole. He was rude, grouchy, and a perpetual complainer.”

“Did he come here on his own free will?” I asked as he shrugged.

“According to Serge, he got a small degree of brain damage when he came here and forgot why he chose to come to this world, so in a way, it wasn’t willing.” He said as I smiled slightly.

“Well, I can totally relate to his struggles then.” I said, folding my arms. “Well, this has all been very interesting and-” I was suddenly cut off by the sound of yelling by someone from behind Bibarel, even though I couldn’t see anyone.

“Open up! NOW! Quickly! Please Bibarel!” It yelled, as I saw a second metallic tube next to the periscope, which must have acted like some kind of sound funnel. Bibarel immediately pulled on a nearby rope as I heard someone forgo the ladder completely and land loudly on the floor with a loud thud. Three seconds later, the door behind us was flung open as I saw a rather elderly looking exploud standard there, breathing deeply.

“Still moving so fast at your age. What happened?” Bibarel asked, trying to remain calm and orderly.

“It’s the human!” He gasped heavily. “You have to come and see!”

“Strength in numbers then. You five, come with us.” Bibarel said as we followed him up the ladder.

“I thought the Pale Communion didn’t exist here.” I said to Exploud as I followed him up the ladder.

“They don’t, or at least I don’t. Anyway, this seems beyond them.” The exploud replied. In a way, I was happy he seemed out of breath since I’m sure he’d be screaming his guts out like any regular exploud would. We moved out as a pack, marching swiftly with Exploud leading the way.

“Ok, what exactly happened?” Bibarel said as we were gestured to keep quiet by Exploud of all people. Seemed like Bidoof trusted his judgement given he seemed to be taking charge, as the rest of us followed suit and ceased our chatter.

“Keep an eye out for a mienshao. If any of you think you can knock it out from behind, don’t hesitate” Exploud whispered, looking like he was under a lot of physical stress keeping his voice that low. Looking around in all directions among the bushes and trees, I couldn’t see anything that could be a mienshao or hostile.

“What’s this mienshao? What did it do?” I whispered as Exploud pointed, looking rather disturbed.

“…That.” He said as I saw he was pointing to one of those black statues. I suddenly became fearful of that jet-black inanimate scraggy, as I slowly walked around it to see it’s terrified expression. Every one of these statues we saw looked shocked, terrified or both, and I was starting to piece together why that was. Unlike the other two statues, this one seemed to be far more detailed, and I could almost see every pore in its skin if I looked closely enough.

“…That mienshao…did it turn this human into this?” I said as I felt paranoia start to build up within me.

“I think so. All I saw was a sudden flash of what I could only describe as light that was also black, as unnatural as that sound. I heard Neerav scream and when I turned around, I saw a glimpse of a mienshao run away and as for Neerav…that’s all that was left of him. I ran back right afterwards to see you Guildmaster.” Exploud said as Bibarel inspected the statue.

“Poor Neerav…only fifteen years old as well.” Melinda said, sounding subtly furious beneath her sadness as I saw her clench her fists.

“See this, Melinda? See this Bibarel? This is why Serge has to pay for this! This Indian was a prodigy in his field, and had most of his life ahead of him!” I protested, pointing at what remained of Neerav.

“Basil, this is why we have to destroy The Devourer, regardless of how we feel about being taken here against our will. I can’t just have Neerav and Danil die and for their deaths to mean nothing.” Melinda said as half of us investigated the statue while the others kept watch.

“I wonder if this has something to do with The Devourer?” Nisbeth said as Audrey shook her head.

“Wait, are you suggesting that the mienshao is The Devourer? Doesn’t seem likely.” She replied.

“Well, no pokemon I’ve seen can do this to someone. This is clearly some otherworldly power we’re dealing with, so it must be The Devourer!” Nisbeth retorted as they began to argue. Regardless whether this had anything to do with our alien foe or not, it was extremely dangerous and should be treated as such.

“I want to go home…” I heard Murphy said next to me as I stood close to him.

“So do I, Murphy, so do I.” I said quietly to him.

“You know that feeling when you don’t want to do something but you know you have to, even though you’ll only end up upsetting people? This is like that, but much, much worse.” Murphy said, sighing, and lowering his head.

“Right, this has gone on far enough.” I said, keeping my voice down. “When we get a moment with Audrey alone, we’ll discuss getting you out of this mess and force her to uphold her end of the deal. If she refuses, then I’ll simply refuse to help. This would be full-proof if it weren’t for one factor: Melinda. Depends on whether Audrey will be ok with just one human. Alternately, you could just sneak home.”

“I dunno. I mean, if The Devourer isn’t stopped, there might not even be a home to go back to and…” He said, visibly shaking looking like he was about to cry, being torn between the different pressures pulling him apart from all angles. Poor guy: No one should have to deal with all this, especially not someone as young as him.

“Murphy, I’m here for you. Whatever you want to do from here, I’ll help you. If you’re staying with us, I’ll help make sure you’re ok. If you want to leave, I’ll help you escape. I’ll even help you write an apology to your parents for scaring them like that.” I said, moving to stand in front of him.

“Wish I just stayed home…” He said sadly as he sat down on a nearby rock.

“If you stayed at home, I’d be dead by now.” I said back to him, smiling slightly. “Still, Melinda’s definitely staying on the search for Serge, and I think Nisbeth will too. I’ve got a tough group with me, so I think I’ll be ok. If I were to make a suggestion, I’d recommend going back to Newer Orleans so you can continue with your acting while still being within a reasonable distance from your family. Also, if you change your mind and want to help us again, you’re within walking distance of the Excursion Club HQ.”

“Well, we are going back there in a couple of days anyway. I’ll stay with you guys until then. Just stay with me, ok?” He asked and I was happy to agree.

“Of course Murphy. I dragged you into this and you saved my life. I mean, if I can repay you by just keeping you company, that seems like a gigantic bargain.” I replied as he gave me a quick hug.

“Thanks Basil. Even if this hasn’t been fun for me, it’s at least been memorable.” Murphy said. Seemed like this incident completely scared him off the ‘stop The Devourer’ plan. Seemed like Nisbeth, Murphy and I didn’t want anything to do with this, though there was a nagging thought in the back of my mind that wondered if we were just burying our head in the sand about all this. The Devourer would probably want us to return to our old lives and not put up a fight, but in the end, a volunteer is worth ten pressed men. Regardless, I’d be staying with Melinda, even if I would try to be the one to influence her to go along with what I thought was best.

After some more research on the statue and our failed attempts to move it, we returned to the Bibarel Guild and were given a temporary place to stay for the next two nights where we planned to continue working with him to try and discover more about the statues, The Devourer and the possible whereabouts of Serge. Nisbeth hadn’t been speaking much at all to anyone, only saying goodnight to me before crashing on his bed. Some of us didn’t even get beds, instead getting a pathetic pile of straw to sleep on. These people were clearly more primitive than I thought, or exceptionally tight with money!

With the Neerav incident lodged in my mind, I expected sleep to be a momentous task, but thanks to the poor sleep last night and the well-established security, I felt confident that I wasn’t going to get ambushed in my sleep, but would I ever feel safe or relaxed with a pokemon like that carrying a strange and terrible power? While I trusted the abilities of everyone around me, it seemed like everyone was wanting something different in life, and for the first time, I didn’t feel like the most likely person to bail on the mission.
Pokemon: Incarnation - Chapter 16
Right, exams are all done but I still don't have a replacement for my PC. Looking into replacing it now though, so hopefully I can get back on track soon.

Basil and company set sail for Conviction to ask the new guildmaster about The Guardian of Forever

Chapter 17: Roll The Bones pocket-fulla-shells.deviantart…
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  • Listening to: Queens Of The Stone Age
  • Reading: The screen
  • Watching: Wimbledon
  • Playing: Super Mario Maker
  • Eating: Saliva
  • Drinking: Saliva
This is a copy-paste from the Afterword on The Unknown Continuum/Scenes From A Memory, so if you've already read that, then there's nothing new for you here. Just thought I'd separate the part that would likely interest people the most and put it in journal form.




I am indeed planning to make a follow up to The Unknown Continuum. It'll be called Pokemon: Incarnation and it'll involve Super Mystery Dungeon this time round, although it'll be a considerably looser with the source material than TUC, and TUC was already kind of fast and loose with the games anyway.



But PocketFullaShells, a little bird told me that you said that Gates to Infinity was by far the best story of the PMD games, and that you didn't even like Super's story very much! So why are you not basing a follow up on Gates instead?”



The little bird is right. I do think that Gates had the best PMD story by a pretty significant margin (though episodes 2 and 5 from Sky were better,) but the problem with Gates in lifting stuff from it to make a story of my own is that Gates doesn't give me too much to work with. The oddity with Gates's story is that it uses a lot of tropes I typically don't like, yet because they executed them well, it ended up being quite good. A lot of the story dealt with negativity, but I already had Darkrai as a bit of a negativity entity and have Floyd criticise the very idea of 'negative emotions.' (if I were writing TUC now, I'd have put a bigger spotlight on this. Still, Floyd became the hero the world needed in spite of being full of fear and fury, so maybe it was implied. As a result, a lot of the core concepts for a potential Gates-themed story kind of get sunk. Also, I'd struggle to try my hand at writing the whole paradise thing without it getting political. I don't see how I could do it without heading down a road I don't want to go on. Even though Gates's story has its problems, there's not really much I think I could add to it. Its characters were much more well developed in general compared to the other games, so in a way, I'm not writing a Gates-esqe story because I like it.



Super's story is the exact opposite. I really liked a lot of the different directions it was heading down and the concepts used, but I thought they just fucked it all up quite badly in a lot of places. The pacing is so disgustingly terrible that it makes the other PMDs have great pacing by comparison, and it had some of the most lopsided use of its characters, such as making the likeable school kids completely irrelevant, and making the partner pretty much the sole main character was its death sentence. That being said, some of the concepts such as being treated as a child when it was implied that you were older, the partner not achieving his goal almost right away, multiple continents, possession, trust issues, poke-hell and aliens were some really great ideas. This really gives me a lot to work with and can lead to many different roads and possibilities for stories, characters, concepts, comedy and drama. I'm not planning to 'fix' Super's story by any means, since it'll be considerably more different from Super than TUC was to Explorers.



So, what can you expect from Pokemon: Incarnation? What am I aiming for here? First, I want to actually pace it well, given, like PMD stories in general, the pacing was off in TUC and SFAM. Too much arseing around in the beginning. I want to give the earlier chapters more substance and make every scene relevant to the story and helping you get to know the characters and develop them. I want to make the chapters a bit shorter too, aiming for about six to nine thousand words per chapter. Some of the TUC and SFAM chapters got pretty bloated, TUC25 getting over fifteen thousand words long. I'll aim for more distinct characters this time, and I'll probably spend a bit of time drumming the traits in outside the story so I can learn better to write them inside the story, to avoid getting another vanilla main character such as Serge. I'll also have a larger main cast this time, something I'll lift from Gates, to help lift some of the weight from the two main characters, something that really helped Gates out. In short, I want it to be better than The Unknown Continuum.



As for other details you can expect from it, I'll give you a little preview for some of the main cast.



Basil Squire: A twenty-three year old from York in northern England. A failed pokemon trainer who was constantly unable to get much from his team in spite of being a strategic mastermind, he ended up living in his sister's shadow. A fairly relaxed person, he cares about those within his circle, but doesn't really give a shit for anyone outside his friends and family, which often became a source for conflict. Very shrewd, he often plots his life events and plans out in meticulous detail, but often falters when unpredictable elements are thrown in. Still has a desire for adventure, like when he did during his trainer years. Absolutely terrified of goodras.



Melinda Squire: Basil's older sister, aged twenty-seven and professional trainer. Being great with pokemon, she was unfortunately not very good at strategies during battle, so she often gets Basil to do it for her. Extroverted, she often tries to help people with their problems as well as getting to know all sorts, almost to the extent of having a bit of a messiah complex at times, which often clashes with Basil's more insular, introverted nature. Always tries to take the good out of any new experience, whether the experience itself is good or bad. Unfortunately, her hunger for responsibility can often backfire, leading to much senseless stress.



Murphy: A local pokemon. Just graduated from school at the age of seventeen and is dying to see the rest of the world to fulfil his dreams of being an actor. Very energetic and often rather juvenile for his age, he often inadvertently causes a lot of himself and others around him, only tempered further by his distaste of any rule of regulation. In spite of this, he usually tries to do the right thing, albeit often doesn't think of others and the consequences too much. Is very fascinated about the history, legends and myths of humankind. Not sure what species he'll be yet.



Nisbeth: A laid back Toxicroak who lives in a shack at the edge of town in a swamp, aged twenty-nine. A complete slob, doing the bare minimum to get by in life. He's seen as a bit of a weirdo by the locals, but is ultimately pretty harmless providing you don't go out of your way to antagonize him. He's moral enough to not allow his laziness to harm others however, and still seeks out some company from time to time. In spite of all that, he might be keeping his eyes out for an opportunity of some kind.




However, one thing that is very important to the making of Pokemon: Incarnation, and it's not good news regarding the story. Come the end of July, I'll be on holiday for a month, and then it's off to university for me. As you can imagine, this will eat up a lot of time. Might not eat up much more time than work, at least for the first two years, but a lot of free time will end up going towards my studies, and after all that, I might feel too mentally worn out to write some of Incarnation. Now, this will depend on many factors. How will I feel when I live on campus? Will it make me feel more or less productive? How much time will university actually take? What will living next to the city do for other aspects of my life? As for now, I can't tell. I predict that I'll never stop writing Incarnation until it's over, but droughts of writing could be likely, so expect slow progress. Then again, my progress was all over the place in TUC anyway. Regardless, as long as I start it, I'll likely never abandon it, since I hate seeing a job half done. In short, I'll be very preoccupied, but I'm fairly certain there'll always at least be some time to write it.



Regardless of what happens, hearing your words and feedback always encourages me. Still, in a couple of day's time, I'll be going away for a week to walk the West Highland Way. Floyd has finished his adventure, so I think it's time for one of my own. Here's to the future, and for making Pokemon: Incarnation better than The Unknown Continuum.

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Pocket-fulla-shells
Andrew 'Justice' Williamson
Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United Kingdom
Current Residence: Scotland
Favourite genre of music: Metal/Prog/Game soundtracks
Operating System: Windows 7
Skin of choice: My own skin, I'm not in favour of transplant
Personal Quote: "Gimme a moment until I can put that thought into words..."
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:iconyarrix:
Yarrix Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2016  Hobbyist Artist
Happy Early Birthday!
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:iconmysticduskdragon:
MysticDuskDragon Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Hey, how are you doing?
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:iconexplorercyndaquil:
ExplorerCyndaquil Featured By Owner May 7, 2014
So Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire were announced today, you hyped for that? Personally, gen 3 was a huge nostalgia point for me, so I'm extremely pumped.
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:iconpocket-fulla-shells:
Pocket-fulla-shells Featured By Owner May 8, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
To put it bluntly, if I owned a Gameboy Advance and already played one of the Hoenn games, I would not even buy it. As much as I like Pokemon franchise (the games, at least), it's formulaic to a huge fault. Still 3 starters, grass water fire, still 8 gyms, no more no less, evil team to beat up and elite 4 and champ at the end to name a few traditions that should have been twisted about or flat out ditched long before now.

Remakes only made the issue even more in your face, and I sorely regretted taking many of my friend's advice on getting Heart Gold - they didn't even try to solve some of the issues that the original gen 2 games had such as level scaling and pokemon variety. Made me wonder why I just didn't play Crystal again.

Like I said, only reason I'm getting it is because I never played a Hoenn game, but as much as I dislike the idea of remaking games in a very formulatic series of games as it is, it's entirely possible it could cement itself as my favourite pokemon game, but that mainly boils down to how good the gen 3 games originally were unless they make fairy big changes (hopefully changes that improve them) to the games.
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:iconexplorercyndaquil:
ExplorerCyndaquil Featured By Owner May 8, 2014
Really, I don't see how the formula could change for the better. A curveball in the tradition would be very interesting to see, but as for these remakes, I am looking forward to the revisit to gen 3. The remastering of the tracks, the graphics, and possible the addition of recent gameplay mechanics could take these games and make them into something really special. Gen 3 was the generation that jumped out of the old formula as much as possible. There were new teams, a new set of Pokemon, a completely separated region, and a huge change in mechanics. Instead of a series of terrorist attacks that Rocket was notorious for, Aqua and Magma essentially tried to change the world to suit their own needs. Their actions seemed much more grandiose compared to Rocket.

Aside from that, there are a few annoyances I hope they rectify this time around such as the obscene amounts of WATER and the overwhelming number of trumpets in the OST. The OST in itself was great, but the mp3 capabilities of the 3DS could really do it justice.
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:iconkurtisthesnivy:
KurtisTheSnivy Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the watch~!  :D
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:icon42dannybob:
42Dannybob Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Happy Birthday :)
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:iconexplorercyndaquil:
ExplorerCyndaquil Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2013
Yo, can we get an update on continuum? I've been checking back every once in awhile but nothing has happened. Just want to know the state of affairs.
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:iconpocket-fulla-shells:
Pocket-fulla-shells Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I'm in the process of editing the spin-off to fix continuity, grammar and just to generally tighten things up. After I'm done with that, I'll add a new chapter and then get on part 21. I promise I'll get 21 done before the end of the year!
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:iconexplorercyndaquil:
ExplorerCyndaquil Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2013
Ok sweet. It will be interesting to see how those two are drawn together as well. Can't wait!
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