..........death to darkness
I had teleported.
That was the first thought that crossed my mind before the searing pain registered. At first it was only a dull ache that started within my back, but soon spread down the course of my entire figure, growing more intense by the second. It was then that I screamed. Everything seemed hazy. My eyelids fluttered from the pain as I forced myself to keep them open. I couldn’t fall asleep yet; not yet when there was something I needed to protect. Something even worth giving my life for.
Another scream. This one came from behind me. I wanted to turn, to see the figure of the voice that had called out to me, so lilting. But all I was able to do was grunt in acknowledgement before my body shook, wavered once, twice, then began to fall.
Through closed eyes I noted the soft fur that held me, and I couldn’t help but observe that it felt familiar. The voice called out to me again, further away this time, and I struggled to reply to it. I’m okay,
I tried to whisper, I’m right here
. But either the figure didn’t hear, or no words came from my mouth, for it remained silent.
It was dark. Dark and cold. I wondered if I was about to die. Had it been worth it? Had I stopped anything at all? Where was Virok? And what about Talzere? If I were to die here, what would happen to Deoxys? No one else could stop him. He would continue to terrorise the land until nothing of it remained, void of everything but a barren wasteland. The world would spiral downwards, and it would belong to the kind of nightmares one could hardly perceive.
Talzere would be lost.
Not to mention the little things that would haunt me. Jarre would be left without a best friend. His sickening brotherly feelings for Raze would rise to pure hatred. Or would he crawl back to him? No, that wasn’t Jarre’s style. Codan, who was like a father to me at times, would be devastated. Lani would most likely feel the same. Dash and Tali would mourn my loss; Altair would be crushed – though I got the feeling part of him would be all too glad to see me in the Farplane. And that left Rye… What would he do?
It was sudden, and so surprising, that I lost my current train of thought. Immediate warmth, bright and hot, flowed into my veins, bubbling throughout their spiral-bound path. It was hot; much too hot, and I became alarmed. My arms thrashed out wildly but were pinned back into place by my sides as the heat continued to spread. I tried to scream, but it was muffled. It’s too hot! Stop! Please, stop!
My plea was ignored, and I was bound tighter, continuing to thrash and writhe with the pain – for it was now agonising. I would indeed die here, by this searing heat. And then it stopped.
My eyes flew open and I sucked in a sharp breath of air, fresh and cool, cringing as it stung my lungs. The heat that was still flowing within me began to ebb away, until a cool calm had replaced it. What in the name of Arceus was going on? My body didn’t ache anymore. In fact, it didn’t seem to hurt at all. But I distinctly remembered being crushed by the large foot of the Electivire. Rye had been about to pass out and I… What was going on?!
A steady paw placed itself against my shaking arm and I looked up – straight into the emerald eyes of Rye. He was his old self again. My breath caught in my throat, unable to form coherent words, though there was so much I needed to ask. It was a shock to remember how he had once affected me like this. And apparently still could.
“Zanna, you’re alright. It’s okay now.” The slightest of smiles lit Rye’s face. It was almost impossible to see, but the edges of his mouth furled up ever so slightly. My brow furrowed with unasked questions, my mind still too slow to catch up with the words I wanted to say. It was still stuck on the fact Rye had his paw on my arm. “I healed you,” Rye answered for me, as if knowing what I was about to say. “I healed you, Zanna. I’m sorry if it was more painful than you would have liked…but it was the only way I knew how.”
healed me? How is that possible? I thought only Light Pokemon – and good ones at that – had the ability to heal?
Seeing my blank stare, Rye opened his mouth once more, and then apparently thought better and closed it again. “Too many questions that would be better left for later.” I followed his gaze upwards until I spotted the Electivire, trapped back against one of Rye’s barriers. And then, a familiar cry that I hadn’t heard in so long it now seemed like a distant memory. But it was one that made my heart sing with joy.
“Hey, Zanna! You look awfully beaten up. Why don’t you let us strong guys take it from here?”
The Torchic was grinning up at me from where he stood, a few feet away, keeping a very close eye on Virok. Codan was next to him and had the Electivire in a tight lock around his stomach, binding his arms to the side. Though Virok thrashed relentlessly, he didn’t seem about to let go. I unwittingly let out a sigh of relief. The cavalry had arrived.
My brain reacted at the sight of my friends and tried to stand from the position on my side. I was stopped, however, before I had even raised a foot in the air.
“You need to lie down,” Rye told me. “My healing process is slower than yours; you won’t be fully healed yet. Don’t move until I tell you to.” He released his hold on my arm and stood, taking a step back. I blinked, following him with my gaze, still unable to speak. I must have looked panicked because he paused, and then came back to kneel by my side. I thought he was going to place another barrier beside me, but was surprised when he lifted a paw and held it gently against my cheek. I flinched at the contact and hoped he hadn’t noticed. His paw was still so warm…so soft. But it wasn’t the same as it used to be. It sent a cold shiver down my spine. Rye’s brow furrowed somewhat, but I couldn’t be sure because as soon as it had appeared, it was gone. His paw dropped from my cheek and he stood once more, averting my eyes. “Rest.”
I could have punched myself. Why did I even have
that reaction? It’s not like I was afraid of him. …I wasn’t afraid of him. Was I? But there were so many things within him now that I should be afraid of. My mind was telling me not to trust him; that Darkrai could be using him as a ploy. I very well knew this could be true, and was probably the best explanation. But my heart told me it was the same Rye I had always known. He was still in there; I knew it. So then why…why was I afraid of him?
“Let go of me, you bastard!” Virok had started up again and this time his curses were directed towards the burly Dragonite that was binding him. I could see Codan’s face crease in concentration. It was obviously taking a lot of energy to hold the Electivire down, but he wasn’t too concerned. Ignoring Virok’s words, he turned his head in my direction.
“Rye, I need you here.” The Dragonite then gave me a warm smile, glad to see me again.
It’s good to see you, too,
I thought to myself. But I was sure by the look on my face that he knew. It was good to see everyone again. Only now wasn’t the time for a bittersweet reunion. My eyes glowered at Virok. There would be time enough for that later.
Jarre left Codan’s side and strode towards me, past Rye. As the two passed, their arms – or rather Rye’s arm and Jarre’s wing – brushed in contact. It was hard to discern, but I felt the glares from both sides, and the imminent feelings of dread that emanated from them. Nothing had changed there, it seemed. If anything, Jarre probably resented Rye much more than I did, and much more than before, for him leaving me like that. He knew the toll it took upon me both physically and mentally, while Rye did not. I got the feeling that Jarre would never forgive Rye now. He’d only made things permanent between them. No easy fix would present itself in this case. I also got the feeling both preferred it that way. The only common ground they had was me.
“Zanna,” Jarre whispered to me upon arrival, forgetting for a moment that Rye had even existed. “Are you okay?” As the Torchic peered down at me, I tried to now find the words within. My voice was slow, and groggy, but at least they were words.
“I’m alright, just…” Confused,
I completed in my mind. Confused and hurt. Betrayed. Savagely torn apart. Take your pick.
I managed a quick snort and Jarre narrowed an eye, as if missing something. “I’m just a little sore,” I replied grimly, wishing I could tell him what I thought. But I didn’t want to burden others anymore. I’d done more than enough of that since arriving in Talzere. Maybe everyone would be better off if I just shut my big mouth, became a mute, and focused solely on saving the world. That’s what they all needed, right? Worldly attachments to this place wouldn’t sit well with me now, and I didn’t need them. Let me do this on my own. Part of my mind thought this was incredibly foolish, and the nagging voice of a conscience that I had started to tell me off, but I pushed it aside roughly. What good had it done me so far?
“We all know that’s not true, Zanna.”
Crap. He had seen through my facade. I probably wasn’t doing a great job of covering it up, anyway, especially after Rye’s very painful healing attempt. I was still on edge. “I’m fine for what I need to do,” I told him, a hint of steel entering my tone. I didn’t want to have this conversation now. I wanted to avoid it for as long as possible, or altogether. But Jarre wasn’t going to let this go. It was the first time I felt a real pang of irritation at my hot-headed friend.
“Well look,” he continued, shifting his gaze in Rye’s direction. “He just came back, out of nowhere, and you’re telling me you’re okay?” He snorted and wagged a wing through the air. “If I were you I’d be in turmoil! You can’t keep going on like this forever, Zanna. Pushing everyone away when they’re trying to help is the last thing you should be doing. Remember, we’re all in this together. Since way back when we first met in Likera. Since then…everyone is here for you
That last word sparked anger in me that I hadn’t known was there. It wasn’t that I hated them for risking their lives for me, but it wasn’t their job. Everyone around me either ended up dead or severely injured, and I’d had enough. “Yeah, well I don’t want them to be. Look around you, Jarre! See this mess? I
got everyone into it and there’s no way I can get them out. You would all be better off just leaving me be. I have Altair guiding me, I can do this by myself.” My teeth were set rigidly within my jaw, not inclined to move. Jarre gave me a sorrowful look before shaking his head.
“You don’t get it, do you? We’re not here just because you’re this almighty Light Pokemon. We’re here because we all care for you; you’re our friend, Zanna. We wouldn’t risk our lives for someone that meant nothing to us. Sure, we all believe in the greater good you can bring Talzere, but it’s more than that. For each and every one of us you represent a hope. A hope that flares from within, making us feel as if we’re worth something. It isn’t just Talzere we fight for, it’s the right to keep our place in this world. The right to be
something.” Jarre lowered his voice and looked at me with pleading eyes, and I was certain I saw hints of tears welling from within. “Through you we found ourselves, and I don’t think any of us want to lose that.”
Through all my stubbornness and hurt, Jarre’s words struck a chord. I felt shameful for thinking I could cast my friends away like that. I wasn’t being selfish keeping them nearby, and neither were they. They genuinely cared for me because they had found something worth fighting for. They had found themselves. No wonder they would go to any length to save Talzere, to protect me. I was everything to them. For each of my friends, for the residents of Talzere, I was this beacon of hope. I had known that. But until now I hadn’t realised just how much. I made this place a world worth living. And Darkrai would be damned for eternity if he thought he could take that away from me – from them. No, this world belonged to everyone, each just as deserving as the last. And I would see to it that it stayed that way. I would pay with my life to make that dream come true.
“Fine,” I said, resigned. “I’m the furthest thing from alright. But I need to be strong for Talzere, you know. I can’t show weakness now. And when Rye needs me the most…” I paused and shook my head. “No, I can’t show weakness.” I let a small smile consume my face as I looked to my best friend beside me. “Let’s give them a fight worth dying for, eh?”
The Torchic appeared momentarily stunned at my resolution, but nodded his head in agreement. “Sure, as long as we’re not the ones going down. Just you watch, Zanna, we’ll handle things here.” He placed a wing lightly upon one of my paws. “Wait and recover, I’m going to help Codan.”
“Wait!” I blurted, suddenly realising an important factor I’d been missing. Jarre stopped mid-step and turned towards me, a quizzical gaze on his brow. “Lani and Dash. Where are they?”
I watched as Jarre paused, thinking, before he slowly shook his head back and forth. It was all I could do to watch the tufts of his feathers drift lazily through the air. When his voice came it appeared broken; distant. “I’m sorry, Zanna. I haven’t seen Dash since we split up, and I’m not sure where Lani is. But I’m sure the two are safe somewhere. You know that Sneasel, always jumping headfirst into action. I’m sure he’s found trouble already.” He flashed a grin before whipping around back towards Codan and I hadn’t the heart to press him for more information. I just hoped they were all right.
Time would surely tell.
“You’re heavier than you look,” Dash puffed irritably from under Lani’s large bulk. The phrase “love handles” simply was not enough in this situation. More of her to love; more like more of her to lose,
the Sneasel thought. But he continued through the building at a steady pace, nearing the med wing.
Dash’s sensitive ears were able to pick up sounds as he approached; the sounds of rash arguments. It was not a surprise, seeing the trouble they were bound to encounter at any moment. But it was something they just couldn’t afford. “Unbelievable,” he muttered under his breath. Even now Pokemon were still self-absorbed in their own worries rather than the wellbeing of those around them. Until his return the Sneasel had hardly known just how much the Marble City was cut off from the rest of the world. Now he knew.
“If I go out there I’m going to be killed for certain!” A female voice interrupted Dash’s immediate thoughts and he listened in as he neared the doorway, pausing to place Lani gently on the cool floor. “I can’t just rush out on a fool’s errand and go save everyone – those creepy things are out everywhere!”
Dash narrowed an eyebrow and leaned closer, curling his claws around the carved edge of the half-open doorway.
“Minako, I assure you that we’re a lot safer than those on the lower levels. That’s where they were stored! And call them Dark Pokemon, for Arceus’ sake! That’s what they are! For too long we denied the fact the Commander was making these beings, but the rumours were true. Now they’ve escaped it’s our job to help the wounded and there’s certain to be many. Let’s go. We have enough soldiers fleeing for their lives; they don’t need us to as well! We have the equipment and the knowledge, so why not use it to our advantage?”
There was a notable pause in the air before a small sound was uttered from one of the two in the room, presumably the one called Minako. Then silence.
“Excuse me!” Dash chose the brief moment of solace to burst into the room, deciding it was safe enough and that the two occupants meant no harm. The Pokemon before him, a slender Audino and a Grumpig, glanced at the newcomer in surprise. The one closest to Dash, a male, held out a purple paw to stop him in his tracks, a clear glare stretching across his features.
“Who are you and what do you want?” Obviously this was no time for formalities.
Deciding it was safe to give his name, the Sneasel dipped his head slightly in acknowledgment to the Grumpig’s question. “The name’s Dash. I have a Houndoom who is seriously injured right outside. Please, help her!”
The Grumpig, Teiran, lowered his paw momentarily and was about to speak when his partner spoke up. “Wait a minute…” The female, whom Dash recognised as Minako, peered up at him strangely. “Dash…your name is familiar. You were once one of the Agent Corps, weren’t you? Along with Taliana?”
“That’s…right,” Dash replied hesitantly, stifling his curiosity at the remark. “How do you know?”
Minako smiled and raised a paw, then lowered it to rest on her other arm. “Oh, of course you wouldn’t remember me. I’m sorry for bringing it up, and now’s not the time. Where is your friend, Dash?”
The Sneasel frowned tentatively, but allowed the two Pokemon to follow him out into the hall where the Houndoom, Lani, rested. They began surveying her immediately, years of medical practice masking their emotions, faces turned blank. The duration of training they had to go through to achieve this was phenomenal. The way these two looked right now…there was not a hope to tell what was running through their minds. It was strictly business. And that was how the Medical Clinic was operated. For if feelings got in the way of business, the situation could often become sticky.
Minako lowered herself to the Houndoom’s side and peered at her muzzle. Whipping out a paw, she held it steadily in front of the open maw. “Still breathing, but ragged. No obstructions. Slight bruising, tearing, suggests possible internal bleeding. Examinations required.” She turned to her partner for a nod of confirmation. “Retrieve the stretcher.”
Teiran backtracked into the room and withdrew a moment later with a large rectangular stretcher. It appeared to be made of a white non-slip material that was reinforced both on all sides and doubly underneath. The top surface was bare, with the exception of a brace. Minako took the brace from the stretcher and applied it to the Houndoom’s neck and head, careful to make sure there were no immediate breaks before doing so. If there were, the brace would at least keep everything intact and restrain movement.
“Alright,” Minako stated, stepping back to survey her handiwork. “Lift.”
This time it was Teiran who made action. The psychic Pokemon raised his hands to the air, careful to apply the right amount of kinetic energy needed. The dark gems upon his body began to glow a deep aqua, and his eyes followed suit. Pyschic Pokemon were revered in the medical force. Their use of telekinetic abilities were highly sought after and considered an invaluable asset. Without them, moving large Pokemon or obstructions would be merciless and quite frankly, impossible. But it was also a job that demanded a large amount of focus. If the pressure applied to the patient was too low, they would most likely be dropped, causing further injury. If it were too high, the patient could be crushed or suffocated. Just the right amount was needed to transfer the subject safely to the stretcher, where they would then be evacuated to emergency rooms.
[continued in next post]