Chapter 6 – The Sought-For Matter
Having earned the beauty ribbon in the normal rank, Solonn’s next goal was to obtain a ribbon in the super rank. The next super rank contest was slated for the fourteenth of November. Solonn lamented the long span of time that separated him from the opportunity to gain his next ribbon, but he also recognized its value. He would have even more time to rehearse than he’d had prior to his last contest, time that he was sure he would need in order to sufficiently prepare him to compete to the higher standard now demanded by his higher rank.
Though Solonn would have more time to prepare for the upcoming contest than he’d had for the previous one, he would have less time to train with his coordinator. It was now early September, and a new school year had begun, leaving Morgan with less time to spend at home.
Morgan wasn’t the only one who was being drawn away from home; Eliza was a second-grade teacher at one of the local elementary schools. With both of the Yorkes away during much of the daytime, Solonn now found himself left home alone for several hours on end nearly every day. Even Morgan’s other pokémon were not around to keep him company; most of them preferred to remain in their capture balls at nearly all times. Sei was an exception, but she seemed to prefer to go out into the city (doing gods only knew what; she never spoke of what her excursions entailed) while the humans were away.
Not that Solonn exactly minded the solitude, though. He readily made use of the quiet time afforded by the absence of the others in order to meditate upon his connection to the element of ice, which in turn aided him in conceiving and practicing new ice displays. Solonn quickly grew to treasure these hours alone, time that belonged strictly to himself and his element. The only thing he could think of that would make him enjoy those sessions more was if he were able to operate Morgan’s stereo and thus enrich them with music.
One Tuesday morning, Solonn was preparing to begin another of these sessions, initiating a ritual he had devised that now preceded each period of solitary rehearsal. He was about to enter the meditative state that would allow him to more quickly achieve a very strong and deep connection with his element when he heard a peculiar sound: a sort of scrabbling noise coming from just outside the backyard’s fence. Solonn would normally have dismissed such a sound, but the noise that immediately followed it—distinctly a vocalization of some sort, and one that sounded rather puzzled—made it hard to ignore. Solonn listened closely to the scrabbling noise, noting a change in its quality as its source transferred whatever action it was that was making that sound onto another type of surface.
There’s something on the fence…
Solonn knew at once, but could not even begin to guess what that something could be. A second later, however, the mystery solved itself when six clawed, purple fingers appeared atop the fence, closely followed by the rest of their owner’s body.
Solonn was now staring into the huge, crystalline eyes of a sableye who now sat atop the fence. He cocked his head at Solonn, his face holding a quizzical expression.
“Who’re you?” the sableye asked in a perky, slightly rasping voice.
Solonn gave the sableye a bemused look. “I could ask you the same.”
The sableye chuckled weirdly, giving no other response to Solonn’s retort. He then sprang from the fence and onto the trunk of the sitrus tree in the backyard, clinging to the bark with sprawled limbs. He scrabbled up the tree and sat down upon one of its branches, letting his short legs dangle off the side.
Solonn could not even begin to figure out what in the world the little creature was doing, but he quickly decided that he had better things to do than to bother with the sableye. He closed his eyes and commenced his meditation, determined to ignore the presence perched above him. He might have succeeded in this endeavor if it weren’t for the overripe sitrus berry that burst against the top of his head a second later.
Solonn turned a flat, annoyed glare upward. The sableye above him was grinning, showing an incredible number of tiny, pointed teeth. “What do you want, exactly?” Solonn demanded of him.
The sableye stared down at Solonn for several moments with his brow furrowed, feigning deep thought. “I think I want to throw more fruit at you,” he replied finally. With a faint whoosh
, the sableye seemed to turn into smoke and shadows, then vanished in a faint attack. There was a split-second’s worth of the sound of rustling amidst the branches before the sableye reappeared on the branch above Solonn, both arms laden with more sitrus berries. He proceeded at once to throw them at Solonn, but they collided in vain with the glalie’s deep blue protect aura.
“You’re no fun,” the sableye pouted. He clambered down the tree trunk and sat down next to Solonn, drumming his fingers on the ground for a brief while. Then he began poking Solonn in the side, prodding at the gaps in the glalie’s armor.
With an exasperated sigh, Solonn turned to face him. “Could you leave me alone, please?”
The sableye left Solonn alone—for about five seconds. Then he emitted a massive groan of boredom. A second later, he climbed back up the tree. He hung upside-down from a branch for a moment and then dropped down right onto the glalie’s head.
Growling deep in his throat, Solonn tried very hard to ignore the sableye, who was now dancing atop his head. There is definitely something wrong with that creature’s mind,
he determined with absolute certainty. As far as he was aware, sane, normal people typically did not just enter someone’s personal space and begin pestering them with no reason or explanation.
“Is there any reason why you need to be doing this to me?” Solonn asked, somehow managing to keep most of his impatience out of his tone.
“Hm? No, not really,” the sableye answered airily. He continued to skitter around upon Solonn’s head for a few moments more, then crawled headfirst down the glalie’s forehead and lowered his face between Solonn’s eyes, grinning. “Hi.”
“Go away, please,” Solonn said through gritted teeth.
The sableye shook his head solemnly, continuing to stare right into the glalie’s eyes. Suddenly, he recoiled, pulling his head back as though something had just taken a swipe at it. His faceted eyes flashed; he’d have been blinking in surprise if he had possessed eyelids.
“Hmmm…” the sableye said as he brought his face even closer to Solonn’s.
“What in the name of all gods are you doing now
?” Solonn demanded.
“I’m seeing you in a whole new way…” the sableye said in a voice that suggested that he was trying to sound mystical. “Hmmm…
very interesting. Very interesting, indeed…”
“Are you quite
finished bothering me?” Solonn said, at the very limit of his patience.
The sableye seemed to take a moment to consider the question. “Almost,” he responded. Then he planted a very juicy kiss right on the diamond-shaped patch of bare hide in the middle of Solonn’s forehead. With that, he sprang off of the glalie’s head and onto the lawn, then turned and gave Solonn a Cheshire grin. “Buh-bye!” he said cheerfully, then scampered off across the lawn, scaled the fence, and disappeared over the side.
Supremely baffled by what had just transpired, Solonn breathed a sigh of relief now that the sableye had left the scene. Don’t try to make sense of that,
Solonn advised himself, you’ll only end up with a headache for it.
Giving the sableye no further thought, Solonn gratefully sent himself into the sweet serenity of his meditation.
* * *
The sableye scampered through the alleyways of Lilycove, anxious to get home as quickly as possible—he had made quite the discovery while pestering that oversized glalie. The sableye’s eyes held an peculiar sort of sight; if he looked hard enough, it showed him things beyond a person’s appearance—including secrets. Among the glalie’s secrets, there was one in particular that was quite remarkable, and the sableye knew that he wasn’t the only one who would take interest in it.
In no time at all, he arrived at a modest brick house, a place that he had called home for only a few days. He hurried up the walkway, pausing before the front door. Summoning his faint attack technique, he felt a momentary tingling of dark-type energy throughout his body before it swept him into a quick transformation. His solid form changed into shadowy wisps of black vapor before disappearing altogether. He then reappeared inside the house, returning to his previous form once more on the other side of the door.
Once indoors, the sableye began screeching excitedly to inform another resident of the house of his arrival. In short order, a male human picked his way swiftly but carefully through an adjacent hallway and into the living room, dodging scattered cardboard boxes that were filled with the things that he still had yet to unpack. The human had apparently just emerged from the shower; his collarbone-length, auburn hair was still sopping wet, and he had only bothered to throw on a pair of boxers before going to greet his pokémon.
“Hey, Xi,” he greeted the sableye. “Back kind of early today, aren’t you? Are you feeling all right?”
<I’m okay, Daron!> Xi cheerfully assured the human, employing the telepathic skills that he had inherited from his gastly father. He chuckled effervescently, his multitude of pointed teeth flashing in another of his enormous grins. <I just found something really neat, and I just couldn’t wait to tell you about it! Oh, you won’t believe
“Is that right?” Daron said with a small laugh as he crossed the living room to the front door and scooped his pokémon up into his arms. He carried Xi over to the sofa and sat down. “So, what’d you find, hmm?”
Xi chuckled again. <You might not believe me if I just told
you… I have to show
you instead…> Xi told Daron, gesticulating dramatically and using the telepathic equivalent of his “mystical” voice.
Daron sighed. “Ah, that’s never pleasant… but, if you insist…” He lifted Xi up to eye-level. The sableye beamed at him, then pressed his palms against Daron’s temples. Daron braced himself for an experience that he knew would not be any less unpleasant than it had ever been before, forcing himself to stare unwaveringly right into Xi’s crystalline eyes. Those eyes lit up from within, and a sudden, painful jolt lanced into Daron’s head as Xi’s most recent memories rushed into his brain.
Almost as soon as the memory transfer had been initiated, the task was finished. Xi let go of his trainer’s head, and Daron produced a sound halfway between a sigh and a groan as he set the sableye down on the sofa cushion beside him, grateful that the process was such a quick one.
Xi looked up at his human companion with a grin. Daron was returning the sableye’s gaze with a positively awestruck expression, his brown eyes wide and staring.
“You did it…” Daron said. “I don’t believe it… less than a week on the job, and you hit pay dirt!” He let out a short laugh of sheer amazement and pride. “Great work, Xi!”
Xi gave a squeal of delight. <I knew
you would like it!> he exclaimed while cheerfully applauding himself for his discovery.
“Oh, I’m not the only one who’ll like it,” Daron said. “I’m gonna go call him right now,” he added. He rose from the sofa and made his way into the kitchen, retrieving the cell phone that he’d left on the counter and immediately placing the call that he’d thought he would never get to make.
a kindly-sounding, elderly male voice said through the receiver a second later. “What a pleasant surprise to hear from you, my boy! Have you quite settled in to your new home yet?”
“Getting there,” Daron replied. “I’ve still got a bit of unpacking to do, I’ll admit, but I’ve gotten pretty accustomed to this place already. Xi and Cleo love it here,” he added.
“Oh good, good!”
the voice on the phone responded. “So, tell me, my boy. What’s the occasion for this conversation, hmm?”
Daron smiled. “You might want to make sure you’re sitting down, sir.” He took a deep breath, then announced, “We’ve found it.”
Not a word issued from the receiver for a long moment. “…You’re quite certain?”
the old man finally asked.
“One hundred percent,” Daron said confidently. “Xi’s eyes don’t lie, and he showed me exactly what they showed him.”
“Well, he’ll need to show me, as well. Can’t be certain any other way, after all, and we mustn’t move ahead until we are indeed certain,”
the old man said. “You can transfer him here from the pokémon center.”
“Will do, sir,” Daron assured him.
The old man gave a sigh of happiness. “It’s a wondrous thing, my boy, to see our goals coming to fruition so soon…”
“It sure is,” Daron concurred, nodding.
the old man then said crisply, “once I have had my consultation with Mr. Xi, we’ll discuss our further course of action. Be on standby, my boy.”
“No problem, sir… And the authorities?”
“A non-issue, as I stated during our first meeting,”
the voice on the phone told Daron in an assuring manner. “You need only concern yourself with the task at hand. See to it that everything is carried out without a hitch, and both you and your partners will be handsomely rewarded.”
“You can count on us,” Daron said coolly, and then the old man on the phone terminated the connection.
* * *