Chapter 15: Surrender your life
Kraal’s teeth glistened in the morning light and a low growl escaped his lips. He stared, unblinking, at Raze and Scythe. He could tell that Marilai was much the same, but she wouldn’t be able to hold out forever. The deep wounds on her back and stomach drew her energy, he could tell. The sharp pang of her breathing trickled through his ears, almost like she had a death wish. Kraal instantly winced. Don’t think like that…she’ll be okay…we’re a team.
He stole a furtive glance at the Glaceon who turned and smiled meekly.
“What are you waiting for, mince meat? Got your leaf tied in a knot?”
Kraal growled again. It was the Taillow who had addressed him. That bird certainly had a foul beak. “Female’s first.” he retorted.
Surprise flitted across Raze’s face before slowly transforming into anger. “Scythe! Get the brats!”
“With pleasure.” Scythe’s voice was low and menacing. Her eyes glistened madly at the two dogs in front of her. It was as though she was barely a Pokemon anymore, like she was…something else.
The onyx Absol leapt deftly towards Kraal who dodged and stood protectively in front of Marilai. But she didn’t wait to regather her energy. She bounded after the Leafeon and grazed his tail with her jaws. Kraal let off a small yelp. Scythe growled menacingly again. Kraal barely looked up in time to dodge her next attack.
“Kraal!” Marilai’s cry drifted over to him.
He looked over to see Raze beating down on the poor Glaceon. “I’m coming, hold on-Arrggh!”
Scythe’s paw connected with the side of his head and sent him reeling. Stars dancing in front of his face, Kraal eyed the Absol cautiously, waiting for the next attack. Two seconds passed, three…nothing.
As his vision cleared, Kraal was able to see her face clearly for the first time. Her eyes, which had always been a bright, ruby red, were now completely black; whites and all. The Leafeon jumped, startled. What was wrong with her? Slowly, he noticed that everything about her was beginning to darken. Her fur, nose, tail and everything, until she was a dark grey all over. Kraal backed away slowly and bumped into Raze.
“Hey, mince meat! Back off, or I’ll…” But the bird stopped dead as he saw what Kraal did.
Marilai looked up at Kraal. “What is it? Why have we stopped?” But as her eyes caught on the Absol, she let out a small gasp and shrank back.
Kraal turned his burning head slightly towards Raze. “What’s wrong with her, bird?!”
Raze stared back, almost hypnotised, as if not even realising that Kraal had insulted him. “Turn…and run.” he said slowly.
Kraal looked startled. “What? Why?”
Raze just shook his head as he backed away. “Nothing can stop her…when she gets like this.” The Taillow then spread his wings and sped off from the ground, leaving a small cloud of dust in his wake.
“But what is she?!” Kraal called after him. But either Raze was too far, or he didn’t want to answer. He sighed roughly, but it caught in his throat as Marilai spoke.
“Um…Kraal?” The Glaceon nudged her head gently towards the Absol.
“Ahh!” His mouth dropped as he took a few more steps back. “You know what the bird said?” Kraal murmured absentmindedly. Marilai nodded as she followed Kraal hastily. “Well, I’m starting to think he’s not that stupid after all.” As his paws crunched a twig, the Absol seemed to snap out of her reverie. “RUN!” he shrieked towards her.
At the exact instant that Marilai turned, Scythe let out a high pitched scream. Not just any normal scream either, this one sounded as though it came from a demon. The two dogs had to stop in their tracks and cover their fragile ears with shaking paws. Kraal gritted his teeth so hard that they hurt. I’m not going to die…I’m not going to die…
but no matter how hard he tried, the piercing wail echoed through his thoughts, causing complete and utter despair. What’s happened to me?
He thought slowly, suddenly dazed. Why do I feel so weak?
He looked down at his paws in double vision, as they swam before his eyes. He managed to turn his head slightly so that Marilai was in view. The poor Glaceon looked exactly as he did, and the wounds wouldn’t be helping. Suddenly, a new voice interrupted his thoughts.
“Kraal...can you hear me?”
The Leafeon looked around dazedly before realising that the voice had been in his head. “Lieutenant?”
The sigh on the other end confirmed his thoughts. “How many times do I have to tell you? Call me Rye.”
“Rye…” Kraal sent back, “Something is wrong. I…we…feel weak. Scythe has turned.” A sharp intake of breath came from the other end. “You know about this, Lieutenant?”
Rye must have been thinking hard, because he didn’t pick up on the ‘lieutenant’ part.
“It wasn’t meant to be for years…” A low voice came across. “We were told…she was safe…”
Kraal struggled to take this in and keep from fainting at the same time. “The bird, Raze, he sounded like he knew Scythe did this a lot. Could it have happened before?”
Silence surrounded him for quite some time, then, the faintest whisper. “Mass murders in Hark Town…could it really be…?”
Kraal listened intently. Clearly, the Lieutenant knew more than he was letting on. “Rye…what should we do?”
The reply was immediate and alert. “If you can, escape. I’m coming, do nothing rash. May Arceus be with you.”
The signal cut off and Kraal was where he began; straining to stay awake above the noise. But it was beginning to get harder. Kraal felt like a heavy weight was upon him. It’s like no attack I’ve ever heard of…like something…dark.
Suddenly, Marilai’s voice drifted out of the din. “Fight it…Kraal…”
He turned his head slightly to see her teeth gritted, face strained in an effort to keep self control. “What is it?” His own, weak voice came as a surprise to him, but evidently not for Marilai.
“It’s like a leer attack,” she replied slowly, “Only much stronger. Amplified over ten times, I’d guess.”
“So, our defences are down…” Kraal concluded. Then his stomach lurched. There couldn’t be a good reason for Scythe to do that, nothing that involved them escaping harm, anyway.
As if the Absol was reading his thoughts, she spun around and eyed them icily. The high pitched scream had stopped, but left the two dogs struggling for air. “Little dogs…such cowards and all so innocent…” The manic voice trailed off.
That definitely isn’t Scythe,
Kraal thought. Her voice is so demonic and rings with evil…now even more so.
The Absol’s black eyes caught his gaze again. They gleamed in the approaching dawn, though they were still as dark as midnight. Scythe began to saunter up to them, baring her claws as she let off a low growl. Kraal backed away and flinched when his tail hit a tree. Left with nowhere to go, he could do nothing but cower and await their impending doom.
Kraal managed to open his eyes, which he had closed in all the panic. “Marilai, no!” he hissed, but she seemed not to hear.
“Get away from us this instant! What do you want?!” Marilai stood firm in front of Kraal, glaring at the large black mass ahead of them.
Scythe looked slightly taken aback. “What do I want? I want this world to belong to my master,” she purred serenely. “Is that so hard?”
Marilai scowled. “Deoxys will never claim this world, or anyone else’s! Not as long as we all stand together and fight!”
The Absol let off a soft chuckle. “My, my, you’re ambitious, aren’t you? But that shall never work. Already your armies are coming apart at the seams. You cannot defend yourselves forever. Sooner or later, you’ll slip, and when that happens…” She trailed off as a wicked grin spread across her face.
“NEVER!” Marilai cried.
Without waiting for an opening, she lunged viciously towards Scythe and was instantly batted away like a rag doll.
“Marilai!” Kraal’s choked scream rang feebly through the air. The Glaceon fell to the ground and her head slumped. “Don’t even think
about touching her.” Kraal took a battle stance and let out a deep, rumbling growl that filled the entire forest.
Scythe started in surprise, obviously taken aback by the large sound that came from such a small creature. “You want to fight? Small, helpless-arrggh!”
A sharp leaf smacked the Absol cold in the cheek.
“Come here and say that.” Kraal hissed in a menacing tone.
“Grrrr!” Scythe swiped at the Leafeon who dodged and countered with another razor leaf. She bounded out of the way just in time to see the leaves stick fast within a tree trunk. “Is that the best you can do?” she teased, “Try harder!”
Kraal’s eyes glowed red as he growled angrily. His tail and ears perked up and serrated claws protruded from his paws. “Feel the earth, tremble before the mighty winds, and know the wrath of leaf storm!” The Leafeon stood low and allowed the sunlight to consume his body. As it pierced through the trees, Kraal seemed to catch on fire and glow in a light so intense, that Scythe had to look away. His now white eyes flashed through the midst of swirling leaves and glared, glared with hatred and scorn at its enemy. Kraal was now protected by a barricade of leaves and bracken from the surrounding forest; an impenetrable fortress.
Scythe began to lose colour almost instantly. The darkness faded until she was normal again. Well, still black, but less demonic. The Absol glanced around nervously as she staggered on her feet. “Where…where am I?”
Her tone now held fear, but Kraal didn’t sense it. All his fury was unleashed in a single cry as the leaves exploded outwards and sliced through the Absol, leaving wide, deep gashes upon her. Scythe’s scream echoed and then stopped abruptly as she collapsed on the ground, battered, torn, and bleeding profusely.
At that moment, Kraal snapped out of his daze. He had no eyes for the dying Absol, only for the injured Glaceon still unconscious on the ground. Kraal ran over to her and nudged her gently with a paw. “Marilai?” His voice came out in a soft whimper and he jumped as a figure emerged silently from behind the bushes. Kraal looked up and gasped. “Lieutenant!”
Rye cut off the signal brusquely and turned to a Manectric beside him. “Can you carry me?”
“Of course,” It almost sounded offended, Rye thought. The Manectric lowered itself so Rye could climb onto it. Without a seconds delay, it dashed off towards the outskirts of Likera. “Where are we going, anyway?”
Rye listened to the soft thump of its paws before answering. “I need you to take me as fast as you can to Obose Woods. There’s trouble.” And too much trouble that I can’t possibly handle…
“Obose Woods?” the Manectric muttered. “A storm hit there last night, it could be messy. Are you sure you want to go?”
Rye just nodded. The Manectric held no interest for him anymore. His mind was now full of what Kraal had said.
“Scythe has turned…”
He scowled and repeated his own words to himself. “We were told she was safe…” And my father had promised…could he break it so easily? Or is something else the cause of this?
So many questions had to be answered. The sooner he got there, the faster he could pump them out of Scythe.
“Faster,” Rye said to the Manetric. “It’s important.”
“Faster?” He raised an eyebrow. “Do you have any
idea how heavy you are?” When Rye didn’t answer, it sighed. “Fine, if you insist. The storm clouds are still rumbling. I’ll use their energy to boost my speed.” The Manectric closed its eyes briefly and released its senses to perform agility. As soon as that was accomplished, it called on the storm clouds for strength. A bolt of lightning hit the Manectric and shocked Rye, too. But it was no more than a tickle to the Elekid.
Mixing the power of lightning with the agility, the Manectric’s paws moved more rapidly, until the scenery was no more than a single, continued blur.
Rye smiled. That was more like it.
A deafening crash sounded just metres from where they stood. “What was that?” Rye said instinctively.
“I have no idea, and I don’t want to be held in the crossfire. Good day to you.”
“Peace be with you.” Rye answered.
The Manectric nodded and turned swiftly, racing away across the plain.
Rye breathed in deeply and cautiously parted the bushes, stepping out from behind a tree. The scene he saw was not
like he’d imagined.
“Lieutenant!” Kraal’s weak cry reached him. He was gazing up in surprise, but also flicked his eyes back to the unconscious Glaceon. Marilai.
“What happened to her?” Rye instantly knelt down to feel the Glaceon’s forehead. “She’s running a fever,” he said, eyeing the puncture wounds across her body. “We’ll have to take her back to the PRA.”
Kraal looked up quizzically. “Why there? The Missionary would be better for this, and I’m sure—,” But Kraal stopped as Rye picked Marilai up effortlessly and cradled her within his arms.
“The Missionary is what I don’t
need right now. You can either come with me, or go back.”
Kraal was pondering his answer when a small shriek reached them.
“Wait! Don’t leave me!” A battered Pidgey came up anxiously behind Kraal.
Rye raised an eyebrow in surprise. “And who is this?”
“This is Quoll,” Kraal answered, eyeing the Pidgey with a slight smile. “She was also a victim of Scythe and Raze’s attack.”
The Elekid jumped as Kraal mentioned the two Pokemon. He glanced around anxiously. A black mass lay on the ground, unmoving. That must be Scythe, but where…?
“Where is Raze?” Rye asked with uncertainty.
“He flew off when Scythe turned,” Kraal replied. “And good reason too. She is not to be messed around with…hey! What—?”
Rye strode over to the Absol and placed Marilai gently on the ground, feeling the disaster Pokemon’s forehead. He frowned and pressed his head against her chest. “She’s dying…” he murmured, “What have you done?”
“What??!!” Kraal cried. “What do you mean?! She was trying to kill us! Kill
us, Rye! Doesn’t that make any sense to you?”
Evidently, it didn’t. The Elekid shook his head, pondering. “She must
be kept alive, if we are to find out…” he trailed off as he became aware of the Leafeon and Pidgey listening to him.
“If what?” Kraal asked. “So she can try to kill us again?!”
Rye shook his head. “No, I just…I need you to trust me.” His voice was firm now.
It was no statement, Kraal realised, but an order, and he was bound to follow.
He sighed. “So what do we do with her?”
“I’ll send out a distress signal. Someone will come soon enough.” She’s far too important, to jeopardise the mission…
Rye closed his eyes and sent out a call with his mind. “There. Let’s go.” He scooped up Marilai again and made for the trees, Kraal and Quoll following behind.
“I still don’t see why we have to go to the PRA,” Kraal tried to reason; “It’s farther away, too.”
Rye smiled slightly. “I have business there, you know that.”
“You’ve only been asked to track the target and find out about her past. Surely, if you’ve placed the tracer, we can go back to the Missionary and do it from there?”
Rye heaved Marilai close to him to hide the expression on his face. They mustn’t find out what I did to the tracer…
”I still have business,” Rye repeated firmly, “Come, or stay.”
Kraal paused and then sighed, giving in. “Fine, but we’re doing this with you now.”
“Fine.” Rye answered stiffly, trying to hide his irritation. That was just what he needed. His team-mates keeping tabs on his whereabouts as well as Zanna’s. Rye smiled again. He simply refused to think of Zanna as a target, not now that they were friends. But how was he to hide this?
They’ll find out after a while,
Rye thought, but I am intrigued about her past. Maybe that will sustain me enough to keep the project going.
But as they moved more quickly, Rye couldn’t help the creeping, clenching feeling that formed within his chest. He couldn’t help but feel that it was wrong.