The built up-energy suddenly burst forth as I shot toward him, head lowered as I calculated my course. He was on two feet and easily side-stepped the attack, and I growled at myself for launching it much too far away. Pivoting, I came back around and tried again, but again he moved out of reach. I came to a halt, my teeth exposed as I felt the flames licking my lips through the gaps in my jaws, tinges of black, blue and purple sparking through at the same time. My rage was certainly at its most prevalent, and with hostile eyes, I charged forward, tearing through the air with jaws wide-set. I was sure I had successfully torn particles of the air as I came upon him, my mouth suddenly exploding with a burst of shadowy flames. It appeared in an enormous sphere, one at least twice the size of my head, followed by a short line of fire, the after-effect of my effort to call forth the flames.
The houndoom was evidently expecting some sort of physical attack, and therefore his avoidance of my lunge did him no good, my head having been tilted in his direction when the dark, fiery matter spilled from my mouth. It slammed into him with great force, the shadow ball element having been extremely effective in my current state, and he seemed to tense up involuntarily, blown onto his back legs before he toppled backwards. My breathing was rapid as I looked on from a short distance away, and before he even touched the ground, I was racing toward him once more. I prepared a toxic attack, spitting a somewhat weak version over his momentarily vulnerable body, and stopped, my eyes flashing before I dove at him, aiming for his neck as vicious snarls rippled from my throat. I snapped at his fur before he fired a weak shadow ball of his own, blowing me off his chest and he, to my great annoyance and slight surprise, rolled to the side and back onto his paws.
“Dusty, stop it!” he yelled, and I nearly faltered at the mention of my name, and the fact that he knew that too. He had tried to address me properly, as opposed to with his petty nickname, which inexplicably enraged me even further.
I felt myself vibrating with increasing anger as I felt my chest pump air into my lungs, the extreme rapidity surprising even me. I briefly thought that it was partly because of the physical exertion, but also knew it had a lot to do with my anger. The entire battle was fuelled by this same feeling, which I was not about to think deeply about, for fear of it ceasing if I noticed a flaw.
I growled again as I galloped his way, and I saw a flash of an urgent frown as he jumped out the way, not skilful enough to avoid the flamethrower I expelled by simply changing the position of my head. He was engulfed by the brief flames before he glared at me again, but I was glad he did. He had to get involved in this, otherwise I wouldn’t feel as justified and I would win without a proper contest. However, I wasn’t sure if that thought even bothered me—I was going to win regardless, and if it meant I had to play dirty, I had no objection.
“No! Tell me!” I demanded, temporarily paused. My paws were tense as they bored into the ground, and I watched as the houndoom, cringing, rose to a stand again. I reminded myself not to be surprised when he did so, as my attacks were of fire, the same as him, so expecting them to do a large amount of damage was unrealistic. He didn’t respond, and I felt my throat heat up with a new breath of smoke. “If you don’t tell me, I won’t stop.”
He stared at me, bewilderment and something else I didn’t want to consider in my state of mind on his face, and did nothing besides that. He just...watched. In response to this, my jaws clenching as tightly as they could be squeezed, I bounded forward, kicking up sprayed sand as I skidded, watching as it leapt into his eyes and occupied some of his mouth, separating his jaws in a shriek.
His eyes remained bound for just enough time for me to come upon him, slamming into him and tossing him back, my maw clamping somewhere around his collar bone. At this the houndoom reacted surprisingly quickly, and I felt the sting of fire as it washed over my body. But I was used to it, as he should have known, and the attack did not cause me much of a hindrance. When he bit down on my neck fur, however, cutting through my mane and reaching my neck to weakly catch it in his mouth, I growled, ripping away from him and rejecting his poor attempt to attack me.
As I came away, I felt a tooth tear my flesh, and although it was small, it began bleeding. The pain was hardly anything to take notice of; as I stared back at this houndoom, I could tell he was far worse off than I.
“Flair...stop,” he pleaded, but I was not going to listen. He needed to be taught a lesson.
“Not unless you tell me
,” I yelped, enraged. My eyes bulged and my mouth accompanied a harsher frown upon my jaws. He didn’t look at me as he seemed to contemplate, and he sighed a rough sigh. “I won’t stop, houndoom, until you—”
“I have an inside ‘mon.” The words came from his mouth in a sigh, as a shamed confession would, but I was failing to understand how that was something to link with shame. I wondered for a moment what he meant; did he have a personal spy who was a part of Team Rocket? “In the colony,” he clarified, and suddenly the picture began to make sense.
My mind turned to the past, replaying the reel that showed me of when I completed the task of telling the colony about Izante, and about my experiences on the ship. ‘That would make sense...but why would he take that long to tell me something so simple?’
A snarl worked its way onto my face as I hissed, “Why was that
“You wouldn’t understand,” he proclaimed, staring without a hint of excitement. His face was blank and empty, as if I had done something to greatly offend him.
As I spat his fur from my tongue and breathed out the dust that had accumulated in my nostrils over the course of the fight, I couldn’t imagine what it was that I had done. However, I thought it best not to dwell on such things, and my eyes wondered back to him, our chests heaving.
We both stood, breathing hard, as our eyes sparked with the unspoken rivalry we had somehow created in that moment. It lasted several seconds, and in that time neither of us blinked. I turned away as my eyelids came down, and when I opened them again, my glance was cast somewhere into the depths of the forest. I noticed that, up ahead, the vegetation broke off and continued in a particular pattern, with trees less frequent but still enormously abundant, and a canopy woven of protective leaves and intertwining branches. Without the opportunity to focus more on it than I needed to at that point, I returned my glare, the impact lessening with each passing moment as his did the same.
The seconds continued to pass, becoming increasingly casual as we broke the line of sight and mine dropped, scanning the dirt. When another few moments provided something of little worth, I nodded inwardly, accepting that I probably wasn’t going to get any more information out of him. At that point, as I noticed my breathing decreasing and my neck beginning to pulse with the small wound, I turned away from him, beginning to advance in the direction we should have been heading, which was to my left and his right. I began to pad off, head lowered as a result from the exerted effort and the mood I found myself in, my paws each narrowly escaping a scrape against the ground as they swayed low. My tail was little to be concerned about; in its halved state, it could not have reached the ground unless I sat. The thought was patronising and angering, and once again I found myself wondering how it came to be halved.
The question gripped me tighter than I would have realised, and I began to scan the events of the hunt Shard, Zhol and I had been on. Surely, I had figured, it was the scyther who had delivered the severing slice, but as I flipped through the many moments, I realised that there were hardly times that he and I were in each other’s company. It seemed a little senseless to blame him when he could have had no part in it, but I didn’t entirely close off the possibility. Instead I tried to figure out at which point I had felt a portion lighter than any time before that. I was unable to deduce such a thing, given how I was too distracted by those sandslash and... ‘Hang on...it was around then that I noticed it was a half.’
I thought to the events before the battle with the ground types, remembering the rockfall that had occurred shortly after I so skilfully caught that buneary.
I was in a wicked panic as I whipped around and absorbed the sight of my trapped tail. I squealed with desperation, swiping at the ground as if it would lift the rock and make it roll off the edge, but to my horror the reality of the situation dawned on me.
I was stuck.
I told myself, ‘that’s a start...’
I hardly needed to strain as I freshly recalled that it had been Zhol that set me free as her strong claws had descended onto the rock that threatened my tail’s wellbeing.
“You saved my life!” She whirled around and barely skimmed my face before zipping to my side and hesitated before slicing through the boulder and releasing my tail. I was overwhelmed and strongly grateful, and I wanted to find Zhol all the prey in the world to drop at her feet and watch her indulge in.
‘That’s right. She broke...’
At that point, a frown settled deeper into my brow. I blinked a number of times, replaying the scene in my head several times. ‘Wait...’
She whirled around and barely skimmed my face before zipping to my side and hesitated before slicing through the boulder and releasing my tail.
I reiterated to myself, and as realisation flooded into my mind, it occurred to me that I had not heard a boulder shattering. In the midst of the smashes of other boulders and rumbles and yells, it was hard to tell, but I had not heard her claws shatter rock. In fact...it seemed utterly ridiculous, looking back, that she was able to “slice” through a rock. Even a sneasel’s claws would need to be trained for such exercises before the feat would be possible, and something told me that hers were not. My dance of violence with the ground types was shortly after, and that was when it came to my attention that I had merely half a tail. Planting my feet, I whirled around and began to stalk back the way I came, determined to conclude this mystery.
The houndoom strode toward me a few metres to my left and stopped, watching me pass as I failed to meet his curious gaze. “Party’s this way,” he informed.
“I’m aware,” I uttered, jabbing the words through his skin as I proceeded. A number of paces on, I heard him raise his voice, as we had been separated by a few metres.
“Then why are you going that
“I have to confirm something,” I explained briefly, hissing as I kept walking. I knew that if I returned to the site we had fought those wild pokémon at, I could potentially find the other half of my tail still pinned beneath that rock. That would confirm everything. The thought of insignificance and pettiness crossed my mind, only to be dismissed without consideration.
I heard the gallop of the fire and dark type behind me as he caught up, to my annoyance, and demanded, “What are you doing?”
I shoved him aside with a forceful timed lean and padded off. “I have to see something.”
“Have to see what?”
The frustration itched at my nerves. “I have to know what happened to my tail
,” I spat, knowing he would not understand.
“...Your tail?” he restated in a disapproving form of confusion. “Flair, you shouldn’t be doing that now
I refused to meet his eyes as he tried to catch them. “I’m not taking advice from an idiot.”
“Nobody’s asking you to take your own advice,” he responded, hardly intending the comment as a sarcastic one.
A growl rumbling in my throat, I spun around with planted paws and glared. “No, you thick-headed dolt; you’re
I could tell he was marginally smug after manipulating me to face him. I continued on and he shuffled after me. “What do you hope for that to achieve?” I didn’t respond as I let him prattle on. “You do know that...you’ve had half a tail for a while now. It was only a half when I found you in that “secret spot” your sneasel friend often likes to tuck herself away into.”
At his mention of Zhol, I growled again. Evidently it bothered me that he was aware who my friends were. I decided not to question him as I remembered his “contact” in the colony.
“Come on,” he began, stepping in front of me, forcing my legs to stop. He stared at me for a few moments. “What’s that gonna do? You have an Usster party to catch up with. Y’ know, a duty?”
I analysed his eyes for a few moments before brushing past him, hearing a sigh pass through his lips. “Go home, Idiot.”
“You’re wasting time.”
I paused, staring at the dirt in my head’s shadow. I could feel my half-tail brushing against my back legs as I stood, realising that he was right. I was wasting time. Time was what ended my friendship with Izante and revealed her identity. Had it not been for time, things could have stayed the same. I could name several times when I had wasted time I could have otherwise cherished with her, or my master. She was always in the back of my mind; occasionally I would hear her voice and spin around, ready to leap into her arms again. But every time I completed the turn, I saw nothing but a bush or a boulder. Sometimes it was another pokémon who had called my name.
At those points was when I regretted my failure to use time most effectively—to spend it with her, my dear, beloved human, and thank the great Arceus for blessing me with her company every day. But that time was gone. That time
had been cut short, and I had to revalidate the reason I looking for her: on top of the fact that I had no idea where I was to look, my destructive efforts on the ship of a powerful criminal organisation evidently earned me a bounty. I had known that since Zhol offered me a spot in her colony—that if I was to take my chances and look for Master, I would only be endangering her if we ever met up. I wasn’t willing to take that risk.
Heaving a sigh, I thought about the purpose of that party’s mission. Finding this abandoned hideout would give us the chance to find some kind of clue as to what the “Rokont Organisation” was about, perhaps, and lead us to some kind of importance. We had to find out why those three pokémon, Sed and Tooloo being two of them, were so keen on attacking me. I had assumed that it had something to do with this assumed bounty I had acquired after the incident on the Rockets’ ship. And perhaps we would figure out who exactly wanted all those pokémon captured, and for what reason. It certainly didn’t happen every day, although I did recall many strong and some rare pokémon, so perhaps it was a type of sweep: a trap to collect as many pokémon as they could and find use for some of them. I didn’t want to know what the intended fates for the rejects were.
I thought about my tail, and how insignificant finding its missing half to conclude something that didn’t even matter was. It suddenly seemed ridiculous that I cared so much about a hunk of fur when countless pokémon were in endless potential danger, and when I had a chance of helping eradicate that threat. Flashing to the thought of Izante and my master once more, I stared at my toes. I didn’t want to waste time anymore.
With a rumbling throat, I pulled myself around, mapping the road ahead as I returned to the path that felt right above my other choice. I could feel the houndoom’s smile shining through my back as I padded away, and I tried my hardest to ignore it. Whatever words spewed from his mouth, whatever actions radiated from his body—they were not to be taken into account. I refused to believe his advice or actions were of any sort of worth.
He caught up to me in no more than four bounds, and we pressed on through the forest, aware for anything we needed to be on the lookout for. Several places on my body hurt, including the sections that were damaged while on the hunting trip the other day, but truth be told...I was glad to have stopped fighting. Battling was a sport I thoroughly enjoyed, but as I kept my head low, somewhat ashamed of my recent behaviour yet still upholding opinion that I was fairly justified, I realised that I had probably made a mistake that, although cost us little, could have cost us more.
Continued in next post...