Re: Communication (PG-13)
“There,” Jal’tai said. He sounded no different than he had prior to revealing his true form, and he used a tone that was likely meant to be soothing, though it failed in that endeavor.
Solonn stared agape at him for seconds on end. Wide with astonishment, his eyes then began casting flitting glances back and forth between the hovering form of Jal’tai and the draconic statue nearby.
Jal’tai followed one of the human’s darting glances and then let out a chuckle. “No, no, dear boy,” he said. “That’s the female of my species you see depicted there. That is a latias. We menfolk are latios.”
The latios might as well have said anything there for all Solonn cared; there were very specific things he wanted to hear about from Jal’tai, and the difference between the males and the females of Jal’tai’s species was not one of them.
“What does that have to do with… with this?” Solonn demanded in a pained-sounding hiss, sweeping his gaze quickly over himself before returning his wild, bewildered stare to the dragon.
“Well, my dear boy, the matter of my species is actually quite relevant to what has been done to you, for it was by the transfigure technique, an ancient art which survives in practice today by none outside the lati race, that you were given this new form. A swellow could not have used the transfigure technique; on the chance that you might have known that, I deemed it necessary to reveal my true form lest you fall short of believing me when I told you how it was possible for me to transform you.”
Solonn hadn’t known what swellow were and were not capable of or why it should be any easier to believe that a dragon could possess the power to transform him than to believe that a bird could, nor did he care to know these things. Jal’tai’s explanation as to how the change was made held little meaning for Solonn and fell quite short of a satisfying answer.
Hoping that the other question would yield an answer that he could use, “Why, Jal’tai?” Solonn pressed in a brittle voice, the words more exhaled than spoken.
Lowering his head, Jal’tai drew back slightly from Solonn. “Forgive me, Mr. Zgil-Al,” he said soberly. “I sincerely regret not being more straightforward with you from the start. But there was only one way this could be done feasibly, and unfortunately, it did require me to keep you largely in the dark up to this point.”
The latios clasped his talons and met Solonn’s gaze steadily despite the way the human’s brown, bloodshot eyes pierced into his own. “The first thing you need to know in order to understand the situation is this: I am not merely a proud citizen of this great city. I am also the mayor and director of the Convergence Project, its guide and guardian.”
“Well, good for you,” Solonn croaked acidly. “And what is it about that, exactly, that required you to turn me into this?”
“Patience, my boy,” Jal’tai said evenly, unfazed by Solonn’s venom-laced response, earning a severely indignant look from the former glalie. “You must allow me to explain; it is crucial that you understand the circumstances that have come to include you and understand them completely, and not just for your own sake, either.”
The latios paused for a breath, then released it on a sigh before proceeding. “I love my city, Solonn,” he said wistfully. “I love it more than anything else in this world. The fact remains, however, that I will not be around to guide it forever. Therefore, it will become necessary for someone to one day take my place.
“This is where you come in, Solonn. Now, it may not be obvious to the eye of the beholder, but I am getting on in years… Soon, I will be retiring from my position as mayor of Convergence, and the city will need someone to take my office when I depart. That someone is required to have a very particular and very rare skill in common with me—it is rendered a vital necessity by the very nature of this place. My successor must be able, just as I am, to freely and fluently communicate with pokémon and humans alike. My successor must possess the Speech.”
To that, Solonn reacted immediately and strongly. In a flurry of very awkward motion, he scrambled away from the chair against which he had been reclining and began crawling backwards away from Jal’tai, compelled to put a healthy distance between himself and the latios as swiftly as he could manage. How did he find out?! he wondered fearfully. His mind was now racing much too fast to light on many explanations, but the only one that managed to come through seemed to be the only one that could be plausible to him anyway.
Just as soon as it had appeared in Solonn’s mind, it was confirmed. “Yes, Solonn. I am a psychic,” Jal’tai said, nodding. “But, no, that’s not how I learned of your gift. Not initially, anyway,” he clarified.
Lowering his talons and turning them palms-outward in a curiously human-like gesture, trying to appear as non-threatening as he could, Jal’tai began to glide slowly toward Solonn, his wings remaining rigid and stationary, suggesting that some less mundane force powered his flight. Solonn continued backing away from the advancing latios, but he soon found himself backed into a corner, trapped by a wall to his left, a large, oak dresser to his right, and Jal’tai before him, who had apparently accelerated his approach somewhat as he was now only a foot or so in front of Solonn.
Jal’tai settled himself onto the carpet before Solonn, folding his forearms in front of his chest, and continued. “I saw you, you see,” the latios explained. “The day before last, I saw what happened to you in Lilycove,” he elaborated, with a note of earnest sorrow coloring his voice on that statement. “I was out for a nice flight; as I mentioned before, I do make occasional excursions outside Convergence, just for a change of pace. I decided to alter my usual course a bit that day and chose to go eastward instead of the southward direction I usually take. My course found me flying over Lilycove, and there I caught sight of a most deplorable scene…”
A definite tinge of disgust entered Jal’tai’s words here, a disgust so strong that it held him from continuing for a few seconds. “I saw a sign out in front of an old, rather miserable looking theater, promising a real, live… ‘talking’ pokémon inside…” The word “talking” was ejected from the latios’s beaklike mouth with as much force and clear distaste as if it were something on which he had been gagging.
“I saw a small group of humans rush you into the theater through the back way,” he went on. “I slipped in after them, cloaked by my psychic abilities. I found you sleeping backstage, and I tapped your mind while you slept, just deep enough to learn if what the sign outside that wretched scene claimed was accurate, and thereby I learned that indeed it was.
“Even if it hadn’t been, though, I would have broken you out of there. The way you were being treated there, as a spectacle… it was sickening…” he hissed, his red eyes narrowed in vehemence. “I was about to make a move toward your liberation, too, but just then, a new human presence came onto the scene, one in whom I immediately sensed benevolent intentions regarding you. A quick tap of her mind told me that she was your friend and had come to rescue you from your would-be exploiters.
“You had awakened at this point, but your attempts to escape were foiled by a restraining technique, one cast by a creature whose presence I had not even detected. I went and searched about the vicinity for the caster and thereby found a sableye—a dark-type, able to evade detection by my psychic senses. I dispatched him at once by means of a dragon claw.”
Solonn’s eyes narrowed in sudden suspicion. “Morgan told me that she had taken him out,” he said.
Jal’tai sighed. “I am afraid that both you and Morgan were misled where that is concerned,” he told Solonn. “You see, your human companion happened to walk in onto the scene where the sableye had been hiding just as I was dealing with him—the summoning of the technique I used to take him down required me to shift my focus from my psychic element to my dragon element, thus forcing me to give up my invisibility, and so it was that Morgan saw me there. I should explain that my kind are… valued by humans—” There was another charge of the dragon’s particular brand of revolted emphasis on the word “valued”. “—due to our potent psychic and draconic abilities. Though I sensed virtue in this particular human, I was in no position to say the same about the other humans in her life, and I confess that I was unwilling to take a chance on whether or not her integrity was so strong that she would keep my appearance a secret.
“Hence, I found it necessary to modify her memory of that event. I quickly rendered myself invisible once more. Then I placed a hammer that I found lying nearby into her hand and implanted a memory of her using it to knock out the sableye, and I made her forget having seen me.” He briefly closed his eyes and lowered his head as if in shame. “I regret that action now. I should have given her the benefit of the doubt. I should have recognized just how honorable her nature truly was. I did come to recognize it, after watching her help to liberate you, and following her as she guided you to safety outside the city…”
The latios’s face took on a faint, wistful smile. “She, a human, actually chose to let you part from her company rather than allow you to remain and risk exploitation again… very noble… very rare. Anyhow… following the events of that evening, I knew you could go nowhere but west, and so I waited in the grass for you and then brought you here.”
“You could have told me all of this at the start,” Solonn admonished him. “And none of that explains why you needed to change me like this.”
“Actually,” Jal’tai said, “within what I have just told you lies the precise reason why your transformation was necessary. You were taken to be made into a spectacle by those humans in Lilycove because you were a glalie who could speak their language. For that quality, you were regarded as a freak—a valuable freak, yes, but a freak nonetheless—and you were treated as one.
“Now, you are a human who can speak pokémon languages—you have been speaking glalie language this entire time, as a matter of fact,” Jal’tai added. “My point is that humans sought to exploit and degrade you as a freak when you were a pokémon. They will not, however, do that to you as a fellow human. The unfortunate truth is that generally speaking, humans only hold true respect for their own kind. That is why I transformed you.”
“Without my consent!” Solonn shouted, throwing a feral look at Jal’tai.
“Yes, and I apologize!” Jal’tai responded swiftly, actually sounding quite hurt. “But that was only to spare you the experience of what would have been a very painful and disturbing process. The nature of my method is such that if the subject knows the change is coming, their brains cannot be made to ignore that it is occurring. With that in mind, I had a sleep-inducing drug added to your meal at Whitley’s. Once I was certain you had fallen asleep in here, I entered the suite. Then, using certain of my psychic abilities, I put a sort of… for lack of a better term, a lock upon your brain to separate it from your tactile senses so that you would not awaken while I changed you.”
“You did it that way,” Solonn said accusingly, “because you knew I would say ‘no’.”
(CONTINUED NEXT PAGE)
Last edited by Sike Saner; 04-11-2011 at 06:20 AM.