Eight days had passed since the appearance of the bothersome sableye. Much to Solonn’s appreciation, the sableye had not returned since, leaving Solonn free to practice his art without any disturbances.
At his summons, twin spires of ice extended toward the heavens, catching the sun’s rays with a brilliant sparkle. They began a sinuous dance while their choreographer watched them with an expression of deep serenity playing over his features.
“That’s very pretty,” said an unexpected, monotone voice from above.
Surprised, Solonn turned toward the source of the voice. Overhead, a venomoth hovered, scattering a small quantity of fine powder into the air with every flap of her wings.
Another unexpected guest,
Solonn thought, his expression somewhat wary as he looked upon her. He could only hope that this visitor would not give him the same sort of company that the previous one had. “Er… thank you,” he said a bit awkwardly. He moved out from beneath the venomoth; the powder that was falling from her wings was beginning to irritate his eyes.
“Sorry to interrupt your performance,” the venomoth said, “but I was sent to give you something.”
The venomoth gave no further explanation for her next actions. Her wings suddenly made a dramatic shift from lavender to baby blue, and with a single, powerful flap, they tossed a cloud of pale blue sleep powder on a swift gust of wind at Solonn.
Taken by surprise, Solonn failed to do anything to avoid the attack and inhaled some of its dust before he could stop himself. He tried to retaliate at once, but his ice beam missed its mark, for his eyelids had closed irresistibly before he could aim it. He dropped to the ground, swallowed up in a profoundly deep sleep.
There was a faint rushing sound, and a mass of black vapors formed out of thin air just outside the back door. They solidified into the form of Xi, who clutched a great ball in his hands. His faceted eyes found the sleeping glalie, and he broke into a grin. “You did it, Cleo!” he congratulated, happily scampering across the lawn to join the venomoth.
Cleo’s pale blue eyes traveled downward toward the capture ball that Xi held. “Are you sure that’s the right one?” she asked.
“Uh-huh. I checked them all. This is the one!” the sableye answered with confidence, having scanned each of the capture balls and thereby having found the signature which designated the great ball as belonging to the glalie.
“And are you sure
you know how to use that?”
,” Xi said a little crossly. With a exaggeratedly demonstrative air, he aimed the capture ball’s lens at the sleeping glalie and recalled him into the device. “See? I told
you I could do it,” the sableye said triumphantly. Cleo merely rolled her eyes at him, eliciting a chuckle from her partner.
“Okay! We got what we came for,” Xi then said. “Let’s go!” With the great ball clutched tightly in his hand, he quickly scampered up and over the fence and departed the scene in gleeful haste, with Cleo winging her way close behind him.
* * *
Roughly three hours later, Solonn at last awakened from the sleep that had ambushed him, his eyes opening with something of a delay. Almost immediately, they registered the sight before them as unfamiliar. He found himself in the middle of a somewhat large, high-ceilinged, and presently rather dark room. The place was quite bare; there were no furnishings around him, and only a couple of scattered, human-made objects strewn about suggested that this place actually belonged to anyone. As far as Solonn could tell, he was presently alone.
He didn’t know what this place was or why he had been taken here, but he was quite sure that he didn’t want to stay to find out. He promptly ascended from the ground, the last traces of drowsiness from his induced sleep gone entirely in the face of his urge to get out of wherever he presently was as soon as possible. His gaze swept the room in search of an exit and found one in the form of a door in the wall to his left, near the back of the room. It was plainly too narrow to admit him, but Solonn wasn’t going to let that stop him. He was prepared to smash right through that door.
Without a second’s hesitation, he lowered his massive, horned head, ready to ram the door down and burst through its frame. With a surge of speed, he charged toward the exit—but unexpectedly, violently, he was caught short by some unseen barrier, one that arrested him smartly and sent him reeling harshly back. Partly stunned and taken utterly by surprise by the recoil from his thwarted charge, he wildly overcompensated to regain control of himself. He lost hold of his equilibrium entirely and ended up crashing face-first into the wooden floor, the boards beneath him splitting on his impact.
Solonn hissed and snarled in pain as red and white flashes played across the inner surfaces of his eyes and a shrill whine rang within his ears. He lay face down for a moment, wondering what in the world had just happened. Ignoring the throbbing in his head and the dizziness that came along with it, he lifted himself back up from the floor. He stared hard into the empty air before him as if trying to will the unseen barrier that had caught him there moments ago into visibility, but neither the force that had halted him nor anything that could have been its source would let him see them no matter how hard he tried.
Solonn was baffled by this phenomenon, but he was also determined to figure it out. He knew that his escape from this place, from the ones who had brought him here, and from whatever their intentions for him might be required him to overcome this obstacle. He approached the invisible barrier slowly and carefully, mindful of the recoil that it had given him when he’d charged it at full speed. He soon found it and felt it firmly resisting him as he pushed against it.
Closing his eyes in determination, he began to slowly increase the pressure that he placed on the repulsion field. He gradually entrusted every ounce of his considerable weight to the barrier, exerting it upon the obstacle before him with all his strength. No matter how he pressed against it, however, the barrier would not yield to him. Still, he tried, despite how the pressure of his forehead against the invisible wall aggravated the pain from his recent fall.
Then, all of a sudden, the force that held Solonn at bay ceased resisting him altogether, causing him to pitch forward and fall onto his face for a second time. He exclaimed a muffled oath into the floorboards as the intensity of the pain in his head spiked sharply.
He heard a sound then and recognized it as that of quickly-approaching, human-sounding footsteps moving toward him from behind. He suspected that this signified the arrival of someone who was somehow involved with his abduction and detainment, probably coming to subdue him after hearing the commotion caused by his attempts to escape. Quite certain that he couldn’t get away from whomever was approaching, he prepared himself to fight his captor off. Growling a warning deep in his throat, he rose and turned to face—and to strike—whomever had just arrived.
But Solonn caught himself short of attacking as his eyes fell upon the newly-arrived human, and he let the elemental energy that he had gathered for his intended ice beam dissipate harmlessly. Standing there a couple of yards before him was none other than Morgan, breathing hard and casting furtive glances about herself every few seconds. Solonn noted at once how badly disheveled she looked: her skin was pale and drenched with sweat, her hair was mussed, and her eyes were swollen and bloodshot as if she had just spent an hour or two crying. Her right hand gripped the handle of a hammer that wobbled as her shoulders heaved; it looked ready to drop to the floor at any second.
“Oh, thank God I found you…” Morgan said almost voicelessly. “Now try to move toward me.”
Still quite dumbfounded, Solonn did as Morgan requested. He found as he moved forward that the repulsion field was indeed gone completely, allowing him to go unimpeded to her.
“It’s gone,” he noted aloud as he came to hover before her. “Some kind of invisible barrier was holding me here—you stopped it somehow, didn’t you?” Solonn asked. Morgan nodded. “Do you know what it was, exactly?” he asked.
“It was the mean look technique,” Morgan said hoarsely. “I found a sableye right out there.” She indicated the thick, maroon curtain hanging at the front of the room; Solonn had assumed it to be another wall, but now recognized it as something through which someone could pass by simply pushing it out of the way. “He was using that technique to keep you within a certain distance of him—until I hit him in the head with this.” She raised the hammer, then let it fall to the floor. “He’s out cold now.”
Solonn had told Morgan of the creature who had paid him a visit eight days ago, and she had told him the name of his visitor’s species. The image of the sableye flashed within Solonn’s mind… and was closely followed by that of the venomoth who had paid him a visit that very morning and drugged him with sleep powder—another unexpected guest within such a short frame of time. It seemed to Solonn like an awfully unlikely coincidence…
“Did you find anyone else here?” he asked Morgan. “A flying, purple pokémon, perhaps?”
Morgan shook her head. “No. I searched this whole place over. No one else here except that sableye… I didn’t find the rest of you here, either,” she added, her voice quieting considerably on those last nine words.
Solonn’s brow furrowed in sudden, troubled confusion. “The rest of… what? Morgan, what are you talking about?” he asked worriedly.
Morgan’s eyes closed, and she turned away. She opened her mouth to speak, but a strangled gasp was all that could emerge as whatever words she’d had prepared caught in her throat. “I’ll explain soon,” she finally managed in a constrained voice, then turned again to face Solonn. Her eyes were brimming with tears. “Let’s just get you out of here.”
Solonn nodded, then made for the curtain.
“No,” Morgan said, halting him. “That way just leads into another part of the building. We’ll go out that way.” She pointed toward the exit that Solonn had previously spotted. “That’ll take us outside.”
Solonn made his way over to the exit, and Morgan followed. “You’re gonna have to smash the door down,” the human told him as they reached the exit. Having already figured such, Solonn was already backing up for a charge as she spoke. Once he’d put sufficient distance between himself and the door for a full-velocity charge, he lowered his head (resigning himself to the certainty that this would reawaken the pain there), then hurtled forward in a headbutt attack. The door exploded from its hinges as he crashed into it, its frame bursting apart as he emerged violently into the sunlight.
Morgan quickly joined him outside. “Sit down just for a second,” she instructed him at once. “You’re much faster than I am—we can get out of here a lot quicker if you give me a ride.”
Solonn complied at once. As soon as he set himself down upon the grass, he felt Morgan clambering onto his back, using the gaps in his armor as handholds and footholds to climb up onto the top of his head.
Morgan situated herself there upon the glalie, sitting with her legs extended forward and her hands clutching his horns. She began at once to shiver quite severely in such close proximity to the chill of his body; noting this, Solonn took on a more conscious effort to focus his elemental power and keep his coldness to himself.
“Okay,” Morgan said, “okay. I’m going to tell you which way to go… you just concentrate on moving as fast as you can. Now, go! Hurry!”