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Old 08-23-2009, 05:44 AM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Nine Now Posted]

“…What?” Solonn thought he must surely have misheard the latios. “You can’t be serious!”

“I
am serious, Solonn,” Jal’tai said. “In order to replace me as the mayor of this city, you will have to be physically transformed into a human.”

“But… how is that even
possible?!”

“There is an elemental technique that has been practiced by my people for millennia—namely the transfigure technique—that enables the user to change the form of another thing or person,” Jal’tai explained. “Allow me to demonstrate…”

Jal’tai left the room momentarily. When he returned, he was carrying a small decorative pillow in his talons. “Watch carefully,” he instructed Solonn, then set the pillow down upon the floor. He extended his arms, keeping his talons rigid over the pillow. Slowly, spheres of mint-green light swelled around his hands; soon after, an aura of the same color surrounded the pillow.

The light began strobing then; Solonn winced, his eyes narrowing to slits to fend off the flashing light. He kept them open with an effort despite the discomfort, however, determined to see if Jal’tai could actually do what he was claiming to be able to do. With astonishment, he realized that he could see the pillow warping, shifting somewhat jerkily and unevenly into another shape.

With one final flash of green light and one last metamorphic spasm, the pillow was no more. Right before Solonn’s eyes, it had been transfigured into a plant sitting in an earthen pot, its many leafy tendrils spilling out over the rim.

“And that is how it’s done,” Jal’tai said, sounding somewhat winded, as he picked up the potted plant and examined it briefly. He cast a quick look upward at a particular spot on the ceiling. “This would look rather nice right about there, I think…” he remarked, then set the plant back down and turned back toward Solonn once more.

Solonn, meanwhile, stared dumbstruck at the plant. “Oh gods…” he said almost voicelessly. He had risen from the floor without realizing it and was now starting to back away from the plant.

“There’s nothing to be afraid of,” Jal’tai assured him. “If you choose to accept the change, I will do everything in my power to make it as non-traumatic an experience as I can. If you wish, I can render you unconscious during the actual transfiguration so that you can be sure not to experience any discomfort. Afterward, I promise that I will help you to become accustomed to your new form. Furthermore—” He inclined his head slightly further toward Solonn. “—the change is not permanent. It will wear off after about eight to ten years… perhaps by that time, such masquerades will no longer be needed in this world.”

Those reassurances fell short of quite comforting Solonn, and Jal’tai seemed to recognize this. “I know that physical transformation is not something to be taken lightly, but it’s also something with which you have had some prior experience, have you not? I happen to know that yours is an evolved form—perhaps you might try looking at this as just another stage of evolution.”

Jal’tai was right in one sense: this was indeed not the first time that Solonn had been faced with the prospect of transformation. However, Solonn had not accepted his last change hastily; he had only agreed to go through with it once it had truly seemed necessary. Furthermore, after comparing his memory of evolving into a glalie with the process of transfiguration that he had just beheld, he was quite certain that they would be two very different experiences.

“This is just… all too much,” Solonn said finally, wearily, as he set himself back down.

“I understand,” Jal’tai said softly. “I would not expect anyone to make such a major decision in any hurry.” He began to glide past Solonn then, moving toward the wall that bore the keypad and transport tile, but turned back before exiting. “You can stay here as long as you like,” he told Solonn. “And when you come to a decision regarding what I have offered to you, please call me and let me know. I won’t force you to decide one way or another… but I do ask that you consider what is at the heart of this matter. This community was born in the name of a better future, one in which the schism between humanity and all the other peoples of the world is bridged at last. Ask yourself: is this not a future that you desire to see made into a reality?”

Solonn winced, feeling as though a large weight had just dropped into his stomach. He did want to see unity between humans and pokémon, but there was still also the matter of what acting on that desire here would apparently require of him. He couldn’t even begin to decide what to do.

He finally pried his eyes away from the plant and turned quickly to face Jal’tai and ask him how he was supposed to deal with these conflicting notions, but he saw only a flash of green light. The latios had already gone, leaving him alone with the weight of this decision.

For the rest of the day, Solonn’s thoughts were monopolized by the matter of Jal’tai’s offer, and it denied him sleep throughout the night. He agreed with the latios’s mission, and he could not deny that he truly did want to help. But to
become a human… how could he readily accept something that he could barely believe?

As hour after hour was claimed by these thoughts, bringing the morning and then midday, Solonn found himself reckoning this situation by a previous one: that which had surrounded his evolution. He had initially dismissed the comparison, certain of there being a major difference between the two methods of change. As he considered the comparison further, however, he began to see similarities between the two situations.

The last time that he had been faced with the prospect of taking on a new form, he had ultimately determined that it was the right course of action, that it would offer the elemental skill that he would need to succeed in his contest performance. Now, with the matter of physical transformation having been raised once again, he would once more have to determine if it was the right thing to do under the circumstances.

He knew that if he did agree to the change, it would be for the purpose of joining in Jal’tai’s cause—again, he could not deny that it was one with which he agreed. The notion of being made human was quite daunting to him, but if he went through with it, then he could aid Jal’tai in his efforts toward fair and equal treatment for pokémon…

Solonn thought about some of the things that he had learned about the way that humans tended to view and treat pokémon—both from what Jal’tai had told him and from his own experience. His thoughts turned toward his own abduction by humans who had wanted to profit from his abilities—and the fact that they had not been content to merely take him but the rest of Morgan’s pokémon, as well. He thought of those pokémon, friends of his whose condition and whereabouts were still unknown. He thought about Morgan, separated from some of her closest friends, shaken and crying the last time that he’d seen her.

If enough humans could be made to respect pokémon, he considered, then perhaps scenarios like that one would never happen again.

The glalie’s eyes drifted toward that paging device sitting a short distance across the room. There was his answer, it seemed. He had been given an opportunity to do something that he believed could be significantly beneficial to the world—he had to take it, he decided then, even if the knowledge of what it would require of him still terrified him.

He felt heavier than usual as he ascended; it was as though his body were less than willing to rise from the ground. With his heart hammering, he glided across the room until he found himself looking down upon the paging device. Once he had recalled how to operate it, he used it to call Jal’tai.

“Yes? What is it, my boy?” Jal’tai said once the connection went through.

“…I’ll do it,” Solonn spat out before his trepidation could have a chance to foil him.

Jal’tai didn’t respond right away, making Solonn worry that he had perhaps been too vague in declaring his acceptance. But then,
“All right, then,” the latios said simply, and the connection was terminated.

In virtually no time, Jal’tai arrived at the suite, entering by way of the transport tile and immediately coming to hover before Solonn.

“I know this was no easy decision for you,” the dragon said, “but in the end, you have made the right choice.” His mouth curved into a warm, proud smile. “We and our efforts will go down in history, Solonn. And someday, pokémon throughout the world will thank you for your selfless actions here.”

They were nice words, Solonn thought, but the glalie wasn’t feeling quite so long-sighted at the moment as Jal’tai was. He couldn’t quite look to the future and any praise and appreciation that lay there—he saw only the present and what it was about to bring and just wanted it to be over and done.

“Do you wish for me to put you under for the transfiguration?” Jal’tai asked him.

An image of the pillow’s rather spasmodic transformation entered Solonn’s mind along with an unbidden sense of what that sort of a process might actually feel like, and he shuddered. “Please do,” he responded quickly.

Jal’tai nodded in acknowledgment, then moved forward and placed his talons on top of the glalie’s head, giving a shudder at the contact with the glalie’s frigid hide. “There will only be a brief discomfort,” he assured Solonn. Solonn gazed nervously into Jal’tai’s eyes for a moment, hoping that the latios was right—and then his vision, as well as his consciousness, were extinguished in an instant by something that sent a shock through his skull and a burst of red light to the back of his eyes.

When Solonn awakened, the scene surrounding him had changed. He knew at once that he was seeing through different eyes, eyes that were much weaker and more limited in their range than the ones that he’d previously had. He shifted slightly, feeling soft surfaces all around him as his limbs stretched—yes,
his limbs. It seemed that Jal’tai’s technique had worked—that Solonn was now a human.

He lifted his head and saw that he was presently lying in a bed. The sheets that covered him prevented him from seeing most of his new form; he pushed them aside with one of his newly-formed arms in order to have a look at what he had become. He found that seeing the human body that he now possessed actually made it harder somehow for him to believe that the change had really occurred.

A shadow fell over him then; he looked up and to his left and saw Jal’tai there, smiling gently as he hovered in place.

“The transfiguration was a complete success,” the latios said. “Here—have a look at your new face with this,” he suggested, then offered Solonn a small hand mirror. The human took the mirror, and after a moment’s fumbling with it, he managed to catch his own reflection in the glass. “Do you like it?” Jal’tai then asked.

Solonn wasn’t quite sure what to make of his new form; he could still scarcely believe that he actually possessed it. He responded to Jal’tai’s question with a noncommittal noise.

“Well, given time, I’m sure you’ll get used to it,” the latios said as he took the mirror back from Solonn. “Come, now,” he said, offering Solonn a talon to help him up out of bed. “Allow me to show you around your new home and to help you begin to grow accustomed to your new form.”

Not knowing what else to do, Solonn took Jal’tai’s hand and allowed himself to be made acquainted with his surroundings, hoping all the while that he would indeed get used to this new way of life eventually.

On each of the days that followed, Jal’tai paid Solonn a visit, during which he helped Solonn to learn human habits. He brought a series of instructional videos that demonstrated the ways of human life, and he gave Solonn extra tutelage on certain points of those lessons. While Solonn found some of the practices of human beings to be quite strange (particularly where hygiene was concerned), he nonetheless allowed himself to be taught of these habits and picked them up quickly enough for Jal’tai’s liking.

Things carried on fairly smoothly in this manner until the eighth day following Solonn’s transfiguration. Jal’tai had just left after giving a brief lecture to supplement a segment on one of the DVDs, specifically a segment explaining the concept of money. Solonn was sitting in the den, reviewing that segment and trying out of semi-boredom to memorize whose portrait was on each denomination of the paper notes, when a sudden, incredibly strong pain awakened in his head completely without warning.

Solonn shouted in pain and alarm, wondering what in the world could possibly be causing this spontaneous suffering. It worsened with each passing second, making flashing spots explode within his vision and shooting a bolt of nausea down his throat.

Certain that something was terribly wrong, he tried to call Jal’tai, hoping that the latios could get help for him. He reached for the paging device—but as he did so, a powerful spasm tore through his body. His outstretched arm flailed wildly, knocking the device to the floor.

He tried to make a move to pick it back up, but he had still not quite regained control of his muscles. No sooner had he risen from his chair than he collapsed to the floor—and he did not get back up. The last thing that Solonn was aware of before he blacked out completely was a blurred, sideways view of the paging device lying just inches away.


* * *

Last edited by Sike Saner; 04-11-2011 at 05:39 AM. Reason: Revisions.
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