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Creative Writing Share your fan fiction, stories, poems, essays, editorials, song lyrics, or any other related written work. All written must be your creation. Start a new thread, and keep replying to that thread as you add on more chapters. Anyone can join in at anytime.


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  #46  
Old 09-17-2009, 08:16 PM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Ten Now Posted]

(CONTINUED FROM LAST PAGE)

The final Sunday night preceding Solonn’s first visit to the academy arrived, and he went to bed at its close thinking exclusively of what would await him the next day. What he most certainly did not expect to be awaiting him the next morning was a latios holding a tray of hot, buttered pancakes, hovering almost directly over him.

“Rise and shine!” Jal’tai greeted him cheerfully—and loudly.

Jal’tai’s greeting startled Solonn awake at once and startled him badly. “BWAAA!” the human exclaimed, flailing momentarily in the confusion of his shattered sleep. He very nearly knocked the pancakes right out of Jal’tai’s talons; doing an admirable job at concealing most of his amusement, the latios backed up and watched patiently as Solonn untangled himself from his sheets.

Sweeping a handful of matted black hair out of his face and trying to will his hammering heart to calm down, Solonn shot a bewildered, incredulous look at Jal’tai. “Good gods… why in the world did you think that was a good idea?!”

Jal’tai shrugged. “I figured that if you were anything like me, an ordinary alarm clock wouldn’t do the trick, so…” He held out the tray in front of Solonn with a lopsided, hopeful smile.

Still frazzled by the unexpected wake-up call, Solonn took the tray from Jal’tai without a word and started in on the pancakes. They were still quite warm, quite fresh; he vaguely wondered how Jal’tai had managed to slip in and cook breakfast without the smell awakening him. When he had nearly finished his breakfast, he asked, “What time is it?”

“It’s 5:00 a.m.,” Jal’tai replied.

“…Oh, you have got to be joking,” Solonn half-groaned, suddenly feeling quite drowsy again at the mention of the hour. The clock had read around 10:00, 9:00 at the earliest, when he’d awoke on the past several mornings. “I don’t think I got even seven hours of sleep last night…”

“Well, I did advise you to get to bed early on the night before I’d take you to the academy, you know,” Jal’tai pointed out.

“Which I did,” Solonn informed him. “A whole hour and a half earlier, in fact. I knew I’d be getting up early, but not this early… I’ll bet the sun isn’t even out yet, is it?”

“It’s about to be,” Jal’tai said. “Anyway, you will need to get used to early mornings. You’ll need plenty of time each day for the lessons you are to learn and the work you’ll be given, and so the school day can’t start late. You should be glad you’re going to be given so many hours each day with which to learn. You’ll be able to get through your courses much more quickly than you would if you were taught at a more leisurely pace.”

“Lucky me,” Solonn muttered, still somewhat irritable from having been jolted awake. He stirred the remaining maple syrup on his plate about with his fork for a brief while, tracing little patterns in it, not quite energized enough to think of anything better or more involving to do. “So, how long until we leave?” he asked eventually.

“In about three hours,” Jal’tai answered.

“…What? You woke me up before the sun, and we’re not even leaving for another three hours?”

Despite Solonn’s agitation, Jal’tai kept a remarkably even temperament. “This is the time at which you’ll be waking nearly every day from now on,” he told Solonn. “When you begin attending classes tomorrow, you’ll be leaving an hour earlier than we’ll leave today. I felt it was a good idea for you to start getting used to being up and around at this hour.

“Now, the idea of waking up hours before you have to leave might seem silly to you, but it’s important to have ample time to get yourself ready for where you’re going. You should be able to shower, get dressed, have a nice breakfast, and even have a little time to just sit back and relax before you leave each day. Rushing to an appointment is never a good idea; it can have very sloppy results. Why, you wouldn’t want to arrive there only to find you’d forgotten your trousers, now would you?”

A crooked smile crept across Jal’tai’s face, and he burst into uncontrollable laughter. Solonn only stared bemusedly at him for a moment, failing (or perhaps refusing) to see the humor in the little hypothetical situation that the latios had just illustrated. Slightly disturbed, he pushed his tray to the foot of the bed, then climbed off and left the room to go take a shower, leaving Jal’tai still laughing at his own joke.

Solonn emerged from the shower minutes later, trying in vain to calm the static in his newly dried hair (Thank the gods for hairspray, he thought to himself, eager to finish taming his hair soon) as he stepped out of the bathroom. There was Jal’tai in the den, perched oddly in the armchair and listening to his favorite jazz station with Solonn in his line of sight—he presently seemed not to be paying the human any mind, but still Solonn was feeling quite grateful at that moment for the bathrobe that he kept on a hook inside the bathroom door.

A sudden, brief fanfare sounded seemingly out of nowhere, clashing with the music that was coming from the radio. In a swift series of motions, Jal’tai silenced the radio and snatched something from the table nearby: a tiny, silver cell phone, which he answered just as it rang again. “Hello? …Ah, good morning, Ms. Kal!” he greeted the person on the other end of the line. Solonn stopped on his way to the closet, wondering about the occasion for the call and who this “Ms. Kal” might be.

“Is that right… So, the idea just struck you out of the blue, did it?” Jal’tai asked of Ms. Kal. There was a pause as she responded, and then the latios gave a short laugh. “I’m sure they’ll do just fine, and I know he’s going to appreciate this. This was a very nice thing to decide to do, you know, especially on such short notice.” There was another pause. “Well, we’ll be seeing you shortly. Goodbye.”

The latios ended the conversation and put down the phone. His eyes then shifted directly to Solonn, and he raised a questioning eyebrow. Solonn could tell from the way that Jal’tai was looking at him that the latios had probably not just noticed him then, and the notion that he was known to have been eavesdropping—and in his bathrobe, no less—was one that swiftly made him quite uneasy. Embarrassed, he hastened to get out of Jal’tai’s sight and dress himself.

Once dressed, he walked into the den to get Jal’tai’s opinion of the outfit; the latios noticed him with a slight delay and then looked him over for perhaps a second and a half at most.

“You forgot your tie,” he then informed Solonn.

The former glalie made a face at Jal’tai. Ties were easily his least favorite aspect of human-style attire; he found them utterly ridiculous-looking. He sometimes wondered just what kind of person could have decided that wearing a purposeless strip of fabric hanging from one’s throat looked even remotely good and how sane other humans at the time could have possibly been to agree with that person.

“Come on, now. It’s important to make a good first impression whenever introducing yourself somewhere new—hence the importance of dressing like a gentleman. My videos illustrated that point; do you not remember?” Jal’tai reminded him.

“Right, right…” Solonn said blandly, turning back toward the closet.

“Hey, at least it’s only a tie you need to bother with,” Jal’tai called after him. Solonn turned to face him with a somewhat dull expression. “Be grateful that you aren’t a lady,” the latios said with a wink.

Having absolutely nothing to say to that, Solonn shot Jal’tai a sanity-questioning look before departing the dragon’s company to finish getting himself ready to leave.

* * *

Solonn walked along a fairly new-looking, barely-worn cobblestone path that wound through the sprawling grounds in front of Convergence Academy. He was accompanied by Jal’tai, who was presently wearing his human disguise. Every so often, a red or yellow leaf from one of the trees that grew along the sides of the path fluttered down and landed on Solonn; he promptly brushed off the ones that he noticed, with Jal’tai removing the ones that he didn’t see.

As they got closer to the academy itself, Solonn noticed marble panels stretching across the face of the building at each of its floors. They depicted both humans and pokémon who were historically associated with wisdom, invention, and the arts, carved in relief. On the roof, several flags waved in the wind, lined up in a neat row and representing many different regions, with one of them representing the International Pokémon League. In the very center of them all, on a pole longer than those on which the other flags waved, there was a flag representing Convergence itself, bearing the unown character “C” in black over a background of silver and gold colors that intertwined into a spiraling shape.

At last, they arrived at the entrance, on either side of which a large marble statue stood. One of them depicted an elderly human man with flowing robes and a long, curly beard, while the other was carved in the form of a wingless, five-horned dragon pokémon. The two figures each had an arm outstretched toward the other.

“Aphilicus, a great human philosopher, and Meron, an emyril known to a number of pokémon cultures as the Father of Wisdom,” Jal’tai identified the two statues after noticing the intrigued expression with which Solonn was regarding them. “Two of the greatest minds in history and therefore fitting icons to represent one of the most important educational facilities in the world. Now,” he said then in a somewhat lowered voice, drawing the rest of Solonn’s attention from the statues with a tap on the shoulder, “I’ll remind you that you should make a conscious effort to speak human language most of the time. Almost exclusively, in fact. It seems much more fitting, much more natural for a human to speak in the fashion of his kind as a habit, Speech or no Speech, you understand?”

“Right,” Solonn said, nodding.

Looking pleased with Solonn’s understanding, Jal’tai then motioned for him to enter the school alongside him. The two passed through the doors and into a vast foyer. A nearly full trophy case stood against the far wall adjacent to the doors, while the other walls were covered in plaques with the names and achievements of star pupils engraved in gold and banners that sported mottos like “Knowledge Is Power!”. There was a round symbol emblazoned in the center of the foyer on the linoleum floor, bearing the intertwining spiral of gold and silver from the Convergence flag.

Footsteps sounded from the hall to the right, heavy-sounding with a faint clicking that suggested claws on the hard floor. Turning toward the sound, Solonn saw a nidoqueen making an approach. The pokémon soon reached Solonn and Jal’tai and stopped before them, smiling eagerly.

“Ah, hello, Ms. Kal,” Jal’tai greeted in a friendly tone.

“Hello to you too, sir!” the nidoqueen returned enthusiastically. Her gaze shifted to the unfamiliar human at Jal’tai’s side. “And this must be Mr. Layne, right?”

“Correct,” Jal’tai said.

“Hello, Mr. Layne. It’s so nice to meet you,” Ms. Kal said merrily.

“Nice to meet you, too,” Solonn responded. Remembering some of the etiquette lessons from Jal’tai’s instructional videos, he extended his hand to the nidoqueen. He knew that this custom was mostly just practiced by humans, but he also knew that it was fairly widely expected for humans to automatically do this as a habit when greeting someone new regardless of the species of the one to whom they were offering the gesture. Ms. Kal seemed indeed to have expected for him to do this; she took his hand readily in one of her own and shook it with a surprisingly strong grip.

“So, have they got it all set, then?” Jal’tai asked of the nidoqueen then.

“Oh yes,” Ms. Kal said, beaming. “They’re all ready to go.”

Jal’tai nodded and smiled. He turned to Solonn and said, “Ms. Kal is in charge of educating some of the academy’s younger students. She will not be teaching you. However… she and her class would certainly like to meet you. Come, let’s go and say hello to the children. Lead the way, madam!”

Eagerly, Ms. Kal turned back toward the hall from whence she’d come and began plodding forward. Jal’tai and Solonn followed her, the latter being especially careful to not follow too closely behind in order to avoid stepping on the nidoqueen’s tail. They soon reached a door with a placard that read “GRADE 1 (P) – MS. KAL”… but to Solonn’s surprise, they were led right past it. Though perplexed as to why the nidoqueen might have passed by her own classroom, Solonn guessed that she probably knew what she was doing, and so he kept silent.

Ms. Kal rounded a corner and continued onward, leading Jal’tai and Solonn behind her until she arrived at the entrance to a gymnasium. Seeming almost giddy with an unexplained excitement, she opened the doors…

Welcome, Mr. Layne!” shouted a chorus of voices in less-than-perfect unison. The source of the greeting was a small crowd of children representing numerous species—all pokémon, Solonn noted—perched upon rows of bleachers. The children in front held signs that mirrored the spoken welcome—or were supposed to, anyway. The “l” and the first “e” in “Welcome” were in the reverse order; the “y” in “Layne” was upside-down; and the student holding the “M” in “Mr.” forgot to turn up his sign until after all the other students had put theirs down.

Ms. Kal’s eyes shifted swiftly toward Solonn and Jal’tai, holding an alarmed and very apologetic look. “Mr. Layne is very pleased by your excellent welcome,” she said merrily, albeit rather hurriedly to the children. She cast a quick look at Solonn, a hopeful yet urgent look that seemed to say, “Right? Right?” Solonn took the cue and nodded, smiling warmly and managing not to look as vicariously embarrassed as he felt.

An aipom in the third row of the bleachers lifted a hand to gain the teacher’s attention—the hand on her tail, specifically.

“Yes, Ms. Chibbles?” Ms. Kal acknowledged her.

“Is he gonna be our new teacher? Did you get fired?” asked Chibbles.

Ms. Kal made an incredibly flustered face, her cheeks turning a shade befitting a bruised oran berry. “No, no, of course not, Ms. Chibbles,” she said hastily. “Mr. Layne is going to be a new student here.”

Wondering gazes and whispers flittered about among the students. “A grown-up’s coming to our class? He must not be very smart…” a totodile in the back row said very loudly without raising his hand.

Ms. Kal winced and blushed even further, giving Solonn and Jal’tai another apologetic look. “Please don’t speak out of turn, Mr. Cuomo,” she reprimanded the totodile, her tone falling quite short of assertive. “And no, Mr. Layne will be taught by Systan Exeter.”

The whispering among the students abruptly stopped. Ms. Kal smiled in relief, seeming to believe that she’d recaptured the respect and orderliness of the students, but it appeared to Solonn that it was actually the mention of Exeter’s name that had brought the hush over the crowd. He wondered just what sort of a person Exeter could be for the mere mention of their name to command silence.

“Well, then,” Jal’tai spoke up suddenly, clapping a hand onto Solonn’s shoulder and startling him so badly that the human nearly jumped at the voice and contact, “I’m certain that Mr. Layne enjoyed your surprise greeting and had a lovely time meeting you all.” Again, Solonn recognized the cue and nodded very consciously. “Have a nice day students! You too, Ms. Kal!” Jal’tai said.

“Bye!” she responded cheerfully, waving heartily. As Solonn departed the gymnasium with Jal’tai, he turned briefly and noticed Cuomo standing up in the bleachers and mocking the nidoqueen’s voice and the way that she waggled her rear end when she waved. Ms. Kal was utterly oblivious to the totodile’s actions.

Last edited by Sike Saner; 04-11-2011 at 05:56 AM. Reason: Revisions.
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  #47  
Old 09-17-2009, 08:17 PM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Ten Now Posted]

“Wasn’t that a lovely little thing that she decided to do there?” Jal’tai remarked. “Just a spur-of-the-moment, random act of kindness; she said the idea just hit her last Friday, and she simply had to try and pull it off for you. She’s a good person, that Ms. Kal. She’s only recently begun teaching here, but I think that given time, she’ll really come into her own here. The children certainly do seem to like her, that’s for certain.”

They seemed to like her, all right—in that she unintentionally amused them. Solonn’s thoughts didn’t linger long upon the nidoqueen and her class, however, instead turning to the matter of the one who would be his own educator. “What do you know about Exeter?” he asked.

“That’s Systan Exeter to you,” Jal’tai corrected him, but not harshly. “You should keep due etiquette in mind for the one who’ll be preparing you for the important tasks that lie ahead of you in life. Anyway, I know quite a lot about Exeter, actually,” the latios said, the white mustache of his human guise turning up in a smile. “Exeter is an old friend of mine and one of the primary forefathers of the Convergence Project. It provided a great deal of research into human industry and technology as well as a number of other key fields, research that was vital to the conception and creation of this city and that remains invaluable to Convergence and its citizens to this day. Exeter’s is a brilliant mind, and the unique abilities and properties of its kind give it unparalleled access to some very rich resources and broad varieties of information.”

Learning of Exeter’s intelligence and importance had the effect of stoking unease in Solonn regarding his new teacher. If Exeter was really as smart as Jal’tai claimed it to be, surely its classes would be at a particularly challenging level. “Just how difficult are Systan Exeter’s classes going to be?” he asked.

“I’ll be perfectly honest with you, Solonn: what you are about to undertake is a very intensive and demanding education. Exeter usually only tutors psychic students, particularly those of especially sophisticated mental development. It took very little convincing to get it to agree to tutor you exclusively for as long as is necessary, though. Knowing your reason for being here, it seemed glad enough to put aside its classes for a while in order to take you on; it cherishes the welfare and future of this city as much as I do.

“Exeter’s are tough courses, yes, the most rigorous ones provided by this school. But Exeter itself is not harsh at all—it’s one of the most patient and pleasant people you will ever meet. It wants you to learn all that you need to know and is willing to invest as much time and effort in your education as it must. All that it will ask is that you are willing to invest the same in yourself. Will you give it—and yourself—that much?”

Solonn nodded silently. He was still somewhat nervous, but now not about his teacher so much as the magnitude of his undertaking, which seemed to be looming larger as he prepared to confront it directly. “You know… I still can’t completely believe I’m doing this,” he said quietly. “I still can’t quite picture myself in charge of an entire city…”

“You needn’t try so hard to grasp these things all at once,” Jal’tai said warmly. “Everything you’re meant to be will come about in time.”

Solonn turned to look at Jal’tai, to regard the kindly, presently human face that smiled comfortingly back at him. He almost spoke, only to realize just as quickly that he didn’t really have anything to say. He gave a smile that was less than earnest, feeling that Jal’tai’s smile somehow demanded reciprocation, and then turned away, swallowing against a sudden lump in his throat.

The two walked through the halls of the academy in silence broken only when a stream of preteen humans emerged from a classroom they passed, the students chatting animatedly as they diverged and made for their next classes. Noise filled the air as the same event occurred in several locations throughout the building simultaneously. Several of the passing students shot looks at Jal’tai, clearly recognizing him—or recognizing Mayor Whitley, rather. Most of them kept going, continuing to look back at him over their shoulders but nonetheless intent on getting to their classes in time. A small handful of them did not, however, and they stopped before him and Solonn.

“Is it really you?” one of them, a short blond boy, asked incredulously.

“Well, I’ve always been me, as far back as I remember,” Jal’tai responded, then laughed. Solonn nearly laughed as well, but not at the joke itself so much as the irony of it. Jal’tai was being recognized for not being himself; the students would never know who the “me” to whom Jal’tai referred actually was.

The blond boy’s eyes widened, and he exchanged significant looks with the other students. “What are you doing here?” he then asked, apparently the unofficial spokesman of the group.

“Well, young man, Mr. Layne here and I have a very important appointment with the staff to get to. I’m afraid we really must be moving along, as a matter of fact… Good day to you all, students!” he said, bidding them farewell as he began to lead Solonn away.

“Bye!” the blond boy called after Jal’tai. A couple of the other students echoed the farewell. Solonn looked over his shoulder and saw a few of them waving at him and Jal’tai, and he waved back.

As the halls began to empty once more, Solonn found himself brought before the doors of an elevator.

Systan Exeter’s class is on the top floor,” Jal’tai informed him. “Many of his old psychic students would simply teleport up there, but we’ll just have to make do with the elevator.” The doors opened after the press of a button and the passage of a few moments, and the two stepped inside. “Just be glad you’re not being made to take the stairs,” Jal’tai said with a small laugh.

They arrived at the sixth floor, and Solonn found his anxiety peaking as they approached Exeter’s classroom. He tried to distract himself with his surroundings, his eyes darting over the framed photographs that lined the walls. They depicted various noteworthy people, from past and present educators at the academy to important figures in Convergence to people who had worldwide fame or accolade. His mind failed to truly take in the sight of the photographs, however, and instead directed his eyes forward and locked them there upon the swiftly approaching door that stood between him and the place where he would apparently soon undergo the most stringent training that he had ever known.

“SYSTAN EXETER – INTENSIVE EDUCATION,” read the placard on the door. Jal’tai gave Solonn one last reassuring smile (which only slightly succeeded in its aim) and then pressed a button beside the doorknob. A faint tone sounded within the classroom.

“Come in,” a voice called from behind the door a moment later. The quality of the voice surprised Solonn a bit; it bore striking similarity to the soft chime of the doorbell that Jal’tai had just pressed.

Taking the cue, Jal’tai opened the door and stepped inside. He stood just within the room for a moment, beckoning Solonn into the classroom ahead of him. With no small measure of apprehension, Solonn did as he was directed, passing through the door gingerly. Once he was completely inside the classroom, he saw Jal’tai close the door behind him; involuntarily, Solonn imagined it sealing itself shut and melting into the wall, trapping him inside.

Shaking such thoughts from his mind with only slight success, Solonn swept his gaze over the classroom. It was much smaller than he had expected, and there was nothing at all on the pale blue walls. The classroom was almost entirely bare, in fact; it contained only a single desk and chair near the center, a longer desk up near the front on which there sat a number of devices that Solonn couldn’t identify, and a vast screen mounted on the wall above that desk.

There, hovering before that screen, was Systan Exeter itself. Solonn hadn’t really had any idea of quite what to expect his new teacher would actually be, but he was certain that nothing even remotely like the porygon2 whom he now beheld would have ever crossed his mind.

It was then that Exeter glided effortlessly toward Solonn, who went stock still as it approached him. “Welcome, Mr. Layne,” it said in its chiming voice as it stopped before him. It appeared to have nothing at all in the way of a mouth, and no other part of it moved when it spoke, either. Solonn found himself rather reminded of Oth, who had not spoken with a mouth, either. Unlike Oth, however, Exeter’s audible speech was comprehensible to him; it didn’t need to resort to telepathy in order for him to understand it.

Solonn knew that he couldn’t shake hands with Exeter since it didn’t possess any. At a loss for any other way to greet the teacher, “…Hi,” he said somewhat awkwardly.

The porygon2 cocked its head slightly at Solonn, staring appraisingly at him through large, bright eyes. Finally, it lowered its head respectfully; when it looked up once more, there was something peculiar playing about its eyes, something almost suggesting a smile, only without the involvement of a mouth. “I’m most glad to meet you, Mr. Layne, and I’m even more pleased to be able to teach you.”

“…Thanks,” Solonn said, still gathering his wits.

Exeter made an odd, jingling sound that might have been laughter. It then turned its attention toward Jal’tai. “You’re looking well today, Mr. Jal’tai,” it said.

“Why, thank you. You’re looking quite well, yourself,” Jal’tai returned.

It was then that Solonn realized something very significant in what the porygon2 had said—it had referred to Jal’tai by his true name, his lati name, not the human name that Jal’tai normally used in public. Solonn turned toward Jal’tai and saw that the latios had done away with his human mirage and was now hovering there in his true form. He stared speechlessly at the latios in surprise—Jal’tai revealed himself as he truly was to virtually no one, humans and pokémon alike, such was his strict maintenance of his human disguise and identity.

Jal’tai noticed the way that Solonn was staring at him. “No need to worry, Michael,” he assured him, interpreting that look correctly. “As I said, Systan Exeter and I go back quite a long way. It knows me for whom and what I truly am; it’s one of the very few here who do.”

Solonn’s eyes shifted between Jal’tai and Exeter, and he found himself feeling strangely singled-out all of a sudden. Those two knew each other by name, as he knew them. The only identity that was not known by everyone present was his own. Jal’tai had only referred to him by his human name in the porygon2’s presence. Exeter didn’t know the true identity of its new student, and Solonn suspected that it likely never would.

“Say… why don’t you give him a little preview of what you have to offer him?” Jal’tai suggested then.

The porygon2 gave another of its mouthless smiles. “Certainly!” it said brightly. It glided over to its desk and set itself down on a flat, gray, circular pad surrounded almost completely by the devices arranged there. Its eyes closed, and then, much to Solonn’s surprise, it sparkled, became transparent, and then disappeared completely.

“What? …Where did it go?” Solonn hissed at Jal’tai.

The screen over the desk suddenly came awake, showing an image of Exeter in front of a flowing, liquid-looking, emerald green background. “I’m right here!” the porygon2 said cheerfully, its melodious voice magnified greatly.

Solonn could only stare at the screen that somehow contained the teacher. He might have asked Exeter how it had done such a thing, but he found his brain and his mouth refusing to cooperate.

Exeter gave another of its peculiar little laughs at Solonn’s plain bewilderment. “Give me a subject,” it then said.

Solonn supposed that the teacher was addressing him and tried to think of something, but he was still a bit discombobulated; no suggestions seemed to want to come to him.

“How about… dragons?” Jal’tai suggested once it seemed clear to him that Solonn was drawing a blank.

Apparently Jal’tai’s suggestion of a subject was something that Exeter found particularly amusing; its musical laughter tinkled on for several seconds before subsiding. Once it managed to fall silent once more, the porygon2 nodded in acknowledgment. Exeter’s form then darkened to the green shade that surrounded it, its outline fading until the porygon2 blended into the background completely and vanished. A second later, the flowing green field was replaced by an image of a mountain range. Sweeping classical music began to play as a salamence suddenly surged upward from behind the mountains and began soaring over their peaks. The salamence rushed across the screen, filling its view completely; when it cleared, a desert scene was revealed, through which a pack of flygon sped along, their wings buzzing.

A few more cinematic scenes depicting different varieties of dragon pokémon in their natural environments played, then gave way to a screen on which small, three-dimensional representatives of numerous dragon species perched along the sides. Exeter returned to this screen at its center; some of the tiny dragons merely turned their heads toward it, while others among them hissed or growled at it in disdain.

“Please select a species for further discussion,” the porygon2 prompted.

“Let’s have a look at the dragonite,” Jal’tai suggested.

Exeter acknowledged this and then turned toward the tiny dragonite at the upper right corner of the screen. The teacher, along with all of the other dragons, vanished as the dragonite increased in size until it took up most of the screen. It came to stand at the center, where it remained as Exeter began to describe various qualities of that species from offscreen. As the porygon2 continued narrating, the camera focused on the dragonite from several angles, and then the view of the model of the dragon was replaced by a series of video clips of its species in action.

Exeter was also asked to provide brief packages of information on the salamence and drathlon species before Jal’tai decided that that was enough for the day. The porygon2 terminated the dragon program and then rematerialized within the classroom as the screen went blank once more.

“That was only a small example of the sort of lessons Systan Exeter has in store for you,” Jal’tai told Solonn then. “Now, this is not the only method that it will employ; it will provide a variety of different types of lessons. Also, I’m afraid that dragons will not be a focal point of your education. I just really happen to like that particular program,” he admitted with a chuckle. “Figured you might like it, too.”

Solonn did think that it was fairly interesting, even if he wasn’t overly interested in dragons. It seemed that learning under Systan Exeter might not be quite so unpleasant as he had anticipated. At the very least, it looked as though it wouldn’t be as boring as he had thought it might be. Given the porygon2’s pleasant, even cheerful demeanor and the fact that he found what he’d seen of its teaching methods to be pretty interesting, he now imagined that the experience ahead of him might actually even be kind of enjoyable.

“Well, I suppose we’ll be taking our leave now,” Jal’tai said. “I’ll let Michael here have a look around the academy for a while longer, and then it’s off to enjoy a nice, relaxing evening.”

Exeter turned toward Solonn and smiled once again. “I hope you’ll enjoy your time here, Mr. Layne,” it said. “Farewell, and I’ll see you tomorrow!”

“Goodbye,” Solonn said, and then he followed Jal’tai out the door.

* * *

Last edited by Sike Saner; 04-11-2011 at 05:44 AM. Reason: Revisions.
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Old 09-17-2009, 08:18 PM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Ten Now Posted]

Solonn had never quite managed to really guess what he could expect from his education with any certainty. As it turned out, neither what he’d learned of school from Morgan nor the demonstrations that he was given when he first visited the academy were altogether representative of the experience into which he entered when he began attending Systan Exeter’s classes.

The main difference that he came to recognize between his own experience at school and what he’d known of others’ experiences was the schedule that was demanded of him. A day’s work at school for him was nearly twice as long as those that Morgan had to endure, and unlike her, he had to attend classes seven days a week. He learned also that most of the students were offered vacations during the late winter and the spring, as well as a long one spanning nearly three months over the summer, but he would not be given such long breaks. He would only be given the option of taking up to four days off each month; beyond that, he would only be excused by illness.

Solonn had learned of his demanding new schedule on the very first day that he began attending classes at the academy, and he had initially been less than pleased about it. He knew that he was being prepared for a very major responsibility, and it did make sense to him that such an undertaking would require a lot of time and effort spent to adequately prepare him. Yet still, he couldn’t help but find the sheer volume of time that he was to devote to his education rather daunting—he was concerned that his mind might turn to mush from being made to do almost nothing but study and work.

However, there were factors that, in time, combined to make the new daily routine more tolerable. Systan Exeter was someone who clearly enjoyed its job, and as such, it seemed infinitely patient and determined in its endeavor to see to it that its student would come to enjoy the classes at least somewhat as much as it did. Solonn did have to admit that its teaching methods weren’t exactly boring; Exeter’s lessons were delivered in a number of engaging and even occasionally entertaining manners, sometimes using its ability to manifest itself through interactive educational programs, other times involving Solonn in more practical forms of learning. While the time spent in class was undeniably long, the variety in the lessons, as well as the enthusiasm, patience, and understanding of the teacher, made the hours less monotonous for him than they could have been.

Another thing that helped make the long sessions at school more endurable—and helped greatly—was the hour or so each evening spent in the presence of Neleng and her therapeutic mindsongs. Following an appointment with her, the mental exhaustion that came from being forced to adjust to longer, busier hours was greatly alleviated, leaving Solonn in a revitalized and much clearer state of mind, allowing him to enjoy the rest of the evening in peace and calm and to awaken the next morning far more ready to face the day’s work than he would have been otherwise. Solonn suspected that his new schedule might devour his sanity if it weren’t for the psychic oasis that Neleng provided for him every evening, and so he was quite grateful for her aid. He didn’t want to go a single day without her services, and she was all too happy to oblige.

To Solonn’s surprise, it was not Exeter alone who educated him; there were lessons of certain natures that the porygon2 could not teach, typically requiring a type of hands-on teaching that it simply could not provide, wherein other tutors were brought in to momentarily take the helm. On rare occasions, usually during Solonn’s short breaks from schoolwork, Jal’tai himself would instruct him. The latios liked to take Solonn on “field trips” throughout Convergence in order to get his successor as acquainted with the city as possible and always had stories and anecdotes to tell about the sites visited, having witnessed the birth of many of these places firsthand.

Solonn’s education consisted of training in a wide variety of skills and subjects, ranging from very basic to very advanced. He was taught far more than he had ever expected to need to know, a fair amount of which he came to find quite fascinating, and he found a number of the skills that he learned to be quite enjoyable. He was exposed to a number of human languages, which his possession of the Speech allowed him to acquire swiftly. He was instructed with a particular emphasis on the history and inner workings of the International Pokémon League, the powerful organization that funded and managed the Convergence Project and to which he would one day be in direct service.

For nearly four years, Solonn was trained in this way. Finally, the day came when he was declared ready by both the staff at the academy and by Jal’tai. According to them, he was now sufficiently prepared to take on this office—this new life—even if he could barely believe it.

One late morning the following week found him in what was presently Jal’tai’s office and what was soon to be his own, pacing back and forth across the round room, awaiting the arrival of those who were to witness the event that was about to transpire there.

“You needn’t be working yourself into a frenzy, now,” Jal’tai told him evenly, perched oddly over his chair behind his desk. When the witnesses arrived, he would need to put on his human disguise, but he seemed utterly unconcerned about the matter for the time being. He had no reason to worry, and he knew it—he would be given fair warning when his guests showed up; no one was allowed to simply barge into the mayor’s office unannounced. He only wished that the human in his company could be at the same ease as he was. “I’ve already explained to you what’s going to happen; it’s not going to be any big deal, really, I assure you.”

Solonn only grunted distractedly in response, then resumed the mantra that he’d been repeating in his mind in an effort to keep himself focused and his nerves in check. It was proving to be only moderately successful, however.

He hoped that he would be able to stave off any possibility of fainting or otherwise embarrassing himself in the presence of the very important people who would soon be there. Jal’tai had indeed outlined what he could expect from what was about to happen there on this day, and it was, as the latios had said, really a very simple and quiet affair. Its lack of extravagance didn’t diminish the significance of the turn that his life was about to take, however, and it seemed that the magnitude of this day would not be coaxed off of his shoulders no matter how much he tried.

It was a small mercy when the witnesses finally arrived; though the significance of what he was about to do still attended Solonn’s thoughts diligently, he no longer had to endure the anticipation of it any longer, at least. Four humans were admitted into the office; Solonn recognized them immediately as senior members of the IPL, very powerful and important people. There were two men and two women, all of them older and expensively dressed. To his surprise, they were accompanied by none other than Exeter, who smiled brightly and proudly in its mouthless fashion as it hovered alongside the league representatives.

Jal’tai, now disguised as Rolf Whitley, appeared to rise from his chair and greeted his colleagues heartily. The representatives took a couple of minutes to exchange a few friendly words with him and to greet Solonn as well. Then one of them produced a portfolio, within which there were a number of documents. Solonn looked with a mild amazement at the sheets of paper as they were taken out of the portfolio. It still seemed incredible to him that within these pages lay the power to transfer the leadership of an entire city.

The documents were handed to Solonn for him to read. They outlined a contract of sorts, binding him to the authority of the IPL and to service to their Convergence Project, while bestowing upon him the right and authority to govern Convergence as a community that was independent from the rest of Hoenn. The documents also contained an oath of service unto the city, and Solonn was made to read this as well as all of the terms illustrated within those documents aloud in order to help prove that he acknowledged and understood it all.

Once Solonn had finished reciting the contents of the documents, he was told to set them down upon the desk. Jal’tai rearranged them so that the last page sat on top of the stack. One by one, the league members each signed their name on the topmost sheet. Systan Exeter came forward and signed the document as well, dipping the end of its “beak” into a small pot of ink and quickly rendering its name in unown-script.

Solonn was rather intrigued by the fact that Exeter was acting alongside powerful league members as an apparent equal. He had learned much about the IPL, including the identities of those who comprised it and the varying degrees of authority that they all held. Nowhere among their number was Exeter mentioned, and no indication had been given to suggest that it was a part of the IPL. As far as he had been made aware, the closest involvement that Exeter had had with IPL business was its part in the development of and continuing research for the Convergence Project, but that did not truly constitute league membership as far as he was aware.

Before Solonn could give that matter any more thought, his turn to sign the document had come. Jal’tai handed him the pen, and Solonn stepped forward, allowing his gaze to fall upon the empty line beneath the sweeping signature that spelled out Jal’tai’s human name. He could feel the first, slightest slick of sweat forming between his fingers and the pen, and the space around him seemed to have gone preternaturally silent save for the strong, persistent rhythm of his pulse pounding in his ears. He hoped that the others in attendance weren’t too aware of his anxiety.

Convergence and its mission for the future of relations among the world’s peoples would present a considerable duty unto him in the years to come. For now, though, all that was being asked of him was a name written on piece of paper. Bearing this in mind in an effort to keep things in perspective, he drew a breath and set the pen to the paper. He did not exhale until his signature was rendered there by his hand, shining back up at him in fresh, still-glistening ink. He frowned at it slightly; it was not particularly tidy, especially not compared to Jal’tai’s. Solonn didn’t even think it actually resembled the way his name looked in writing. Jal’tai had told him before that it was all right, that many people’s signatures only marginally resembled their written names. Still, the semi-legibility of his own signature bothered Solonn, if only as much as he allowed it to in order to distract him from other, more pressing thoughts and feelings.

“There you have it,” Jal’tai said softly then from Solonn’s side. He took a rubber stamp that sat on his desk, pressed it into an inkpad, and stamped a blank space on the document with the pokéball emblem of the IPL in red ink. To the room at large, the latios said, “Let the records show that on this day, August the 26th, 2022, authority over the city of Convergence was hereby transferred from myself, Rolf Alan Whitley, to Michael Layne.”

The words reached Solonn through a hazy delay, as did the smattering of polite, reserved applause that arose around him. With one simple act on his part, he had signed his life away to this city and the cause for which it stood. In a ceremony that had not even lasted the span of an hour, he had been given the reins of an entire community—a duty to a mission that could conceivably bring about reform in societies all over the globe and secure an everlasting place for himself in history.

Was that really it? he couldn’t help but wonder.

Last edited by Sike Saner; 04-11-2011 at 05:45 AM. Reason: Revisions.
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Old 09-17-2009, 08:19 PM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Ten Now Posted]

After a round of congratulations and farewells from the league representatives as well as from Exeter, the guests departed. Jal’tai resumed his true form, wearing as wide a smile as he could manage.

“I’m more proud of you than I quite know how to express, my boy,” he said, almost breathless with joy.

“You’re proud of the fact that I read a few sheets of paper and then scribbled a name on one?” Solonn joked.

“Oh, you know better than that,” Jal’tai said lightheartedly, cuffing the human about the shoulder. “You’ve come a considerable way to get to this point, given years of your life to prepare yourself for this day. Your dedication to our cause is nothing short of wonderful,” he said rather dreamily.

Solonn gave the gushing latios a funny look. “Whatever you say,” he responded, leaning backwards against the desk and staring at his shoes.

“Here,” Jal’tai offered pleasantly, “why don’t you take a seat?” He gestured toward the large chair behind the desk. “It is yours now, after all.”

“Yes,” Solonn acknowledged, feeling oddly weary and excited at the same time, “it is, isn’t it?” Semi-absently, he strode around the desk and sat down in the chair. It wasn’t quite as comfortable as it had looked to him, but it did feel better than just standing. His eyes swept over the desk; it was very tidy, and much of what was there showed at least some sign of belonging to Jal’tai. Solonn distantly wondered what the desk might look like after a few months in his possession.

“So, then. Have you memorized what you’re going to say?” Jal’tai asked then.

“Yes, I have,” Solonn responded promptly, managing to resist the urge to bite his tongue. He tended to memorize things fairly well, and what he’d had to memorize for the occasion that would be upon him very soon was really quite short and simple. Nonetheless, nothing quite struck at his certainty like another person questioning it. He knew it was only meant as a friendly reminder, but it still bred at least some doubt in him about his sureness. To avoid letting his mind stick on the matter, “How soon until they arrive?” he asked then.

“Probably well within the next hour. They’ll want to get this done fairly soon so that it can be given the post-production treatment it’ll need,” Jal’tai answered.

“And this’ll air tonight?”

“Yes, they’ll be showing it on the evening news, as well as the nightly news. It will also air during commercial breaks in other programming over the next few days,” Jal’tai told him.

“Hm. Terrific,” Solonn said dryly. He noticed that his ponytail had fallen over his shoulder, and he idly fiddled with the hair for a moment before tossing it back behind himself. He had allowed it to grow quite a bit longer in recent months than he had once worn it; it now hung a fair distance between his shoulder blades. He didn’t particularly like having it pulled back as it now was, but wearing it this way was just one of those things that, for whatever reason, was considered more befitting of an authority figure—much like the suit that he was presently wearing, one which he found fairly ridiculous-looking. Solonn had come to reckon that the occasional submission to things that he considered absurd and things that he couldn’t care less about was simply one of the costs of being in a position of authority.

He mused on this and other random thoughts as he waited for his next task to be upon him, trying not to overanalyze what he was about to have to do. He was left alone for part of this time after Jal’tai resumed his mirage and excused himself for a few minutes; the latios had only just returned when the next guests to the office arrived.

Entering the large, round room was a small camera crew, consisting of a couple of humans and one pokémon, a blaziken cameraman who wore a rather ratty blue baseball cap backwards. Lights were set up around the desk, where Solonn remained sitting while Jal’tai positioned himself near the door, out of the shot. There was a brief moment of annoyance for Solonn as one of the humans came around the desk and, without warning, attacked his face with a bit of makeup, then scrutinized him for a second before she scampered away. Solonn tried hard not to look at the makeup artist as if she were mad, but he failed in that endeavor.

It was a strange notion to him that an entire city would see what he was about to do, perhaps even seeing it more than once. The thought of it threatened to unnerve him, but he reminded himself that at least the eyes of the city were not actually present there in the office with him. They’re not here, he reminded himself silently. Don’t think about them.

He was grateful for the brevity of the statement that he was about to give; as one of the humans nearby began a countdown, he quickly reviewed it in his head. He was also grateful that Jal’tai had offered to compose those words for him; it definitely helped to take some of the pressure off of him.

The countdown ended, and the camera that was trained on Solonn began filming. Steeling himself imperceptibly, the human looked directly into the lens and spoke his very first words to the city as its leader.

“Hello, Convergence,” he said evenly, congenially. “My name is Michael Layne. On August 26th, I was appointed as your new mayor. In taking on this office, I have pledged myself to the continuing efforts not only to keep this city alive and prospering, but also toward the ultimate goal of bettering the entire world by our example here.

“I swear that I will ensure the maintenance of our city’s unparalleled harmony among all peoples, and I will lead us in our endeavor to promote equality in civilizations beyond Convergence. I am fully dedicated to our local well-being as well as to our city’s purpose on a greater scale.

“Though young and a newcomer to public office, I am ready, willing, and able to serve you. Rest assured that I will do all in my ability to meet your needs and expectations. We now enter a new era in the history of Convergence, and we enter it together. Best wishes to you all and to our future.”

Oh, thank the gods… Solonn breathed a sigh of relief as the crew ceased filming, grateful that he’d managed to avoid tripping on his words. Now he could only hope that he hadn’t unwittingly pulled an odd face, that the makeup lady didn’t decide that he didn’t look right after all, and that anything else that would force him to redo what he had just done wouldn’t happen. To his relief, though, everyone seemed pleased with his performance and left without demanding another take from him.

“See? Now, that wasn’t so bad, was it?” Jal’tai said, appearing as a latios once more.

“Meh,” Solonn responded. “Of course, that isn’t the last time I’ll have to make an appearance on TV, now is it?”

“No, it certainly isn’t. I’m afraid many occasions of public speaking lie in your future, televised or otherwise,” Jal’tai replied. “But then, you’ve known what came along with the job description for some time now, have you not?”

“I know…” Solonn responded somewhat airily. “I’m just glad I don’t have to do any more such things today.” He sighed and reclined as best as the design of his chair would allow. “I cannot wait for Neleng tonight, let me tell you…”

“Oh… Well… I’m afraid that your appointment with Neleng will have to be canceled for tonight,” Jal’tai informed him.

Solonn frowned worriedly. “What? Why?”

“Something has come up,” Jal’tai answered noncommittally.

Solonn gave Jal’tai a concerned and rather suspicious look. “Why don’t I like the sound of this?”

“I haven’t a clue, but I suspect that like everything else you’ve been through today, it won’t be quite the tribulation you might imagine.” Jal’tai turned and made for the door, taking on his human disguise yet again as he stopped before it. “Don’t worry about it for now, all right? Why don’t we go get some nice lunch, hmm?”

Still a bit wary of what was going on, of whatever it was that the latios was conspicuously omitting from discussion, Solonn didn’t respond to Jal’tai’s offer right away. Finally, “Sure,” he said, then rose from his seat. As he accompanied Jal’tai out of the office, Solonn wondered if he might somehow manage to extract information from the latios over lunch about what had usurped his schedule for the evening.

* * *

It was late afternoon, and Solonn was sitting alone back at his suite with the television on, though not really paying any attention to it. He had had no luck in finding out what had changed his plans for the night; Jal’tai had simply sat there (or rather he appeared to sit there) during lunch, smiling in a knowing manner at Solonn over first his sandwiches and then his parfait, somehow managing to redirect the conversation whenever it tried to turn toward the coming evening.

Jal’tai’s evasiveness had persisted throughout the rest of the day, all the way up to the point when he had brought Solonn back to the Convergence Inn; then, vaguely mentioning that he had very important things to attend to, the latios had departed his company.

Now Solonn found nothing else to do but sit there with a human-made sitcom that he found abysmally boring blaring at him (he had found nothing on any of the three hundred and fifty other stations at the time that he had cared for any more than it, though) and the same host of questions endlessly circling his mind like gnats. He wondered what in the world was going to happen that night. It was apparently so important that he’d had to cancel anything else that he’d wanted to do, yet no one had felt it necessary to let him in on exactly what it was for which he’d had to put everything on hold. He wondered how much longer he would continue living in this hotel suite now that he was the mayor. He wondered why whoever it was that made sitcoms like the one that was presently playing had thought that adding disembodied laughter to the program would make it seem any funnier.

Finally unable to endure any more of it, Solonn turned the television off. Just as soon as he’d done so, he received a peculiar message from the computerized voice of the suite.

“Please stand on the transport tile and wait,” it instructed him.

Perplexed, Solonn was initially unsure about following the instructions, vaguely wondering why he was being asked to do such a thing. He decided fairly quickly that he might as well go along with it, however, and soon came to stand directly on top of the tile just as he was told.

The tile activated, and he found himself in the corridor outside—and not alone. Standing there was a uniformed man with salt-and-pepper hair, one whom Solonn recognized as the chauffeur who was employed to transport him and Jal’tai around town.

“Follow me, sir,” the chauffeur said simply, then turned and made for the nearby elevator with no further instruction or explanation. Though growing more baffled by the second by what was going on, Solonn nonetheless quickly followed the man into the elevator and then out of the hotel to the waiting vehicle.

Solonn found himself driven across town, eventually arriving at a relatively modest but nonetheless stately mansion. Having been brought here several times over the past couple of years, Solonn recognized this place at once. This was where Jal’tai lived.

The chauffeur exited the vehicle and then let Solonn out, as well. He escorted Solonn up the walkway, stepping aside only when they reached the front doors. Almost as soon as they’d stopped there, the doors opened unexpectedly—and Solonn was immediately blasted by an explosion of confetti and the shouted word, “Surprise!”

For a very long moment, Solonn only stared wildly at the mirage-human standing right inside the door. Then he shook off the black and gold flecks of paper covering him (most of them, anyway), spat out a few more of them, and demanded, “What in the world was that for?!”

Very slowly, a smile crept across Jal’tai’s presently human face, spreading into a full Cheshire grin. He then burst into uproarious laughter. “You silly boy, it’s for you! Come on in,” he then said, stepping back a bit from the door. Still eying Jal’tai warily, Solonn stepped into the mansion.

He was relieved to find that there were no more startling surprises once he entered Jal’tai’s home. There were surprises of a more pleasant nature about, however. He’d always thought that Jal’tai kept a nice household, but on this night, he was more impressed with it than usual. Everything in sight had been tastefully decorated in black, silver, and gold.

As he was brought further into the house, he saw that there were many other people about, some of whom he knew and recognized either as people whom he knew locally or as league representatives, while others among the crowd were totally unfamiliar. Solonn guessed that these must be friends of Jal’tai whom he hadn’t met before.

He heard music that grew louder as he continued to follow Jal’tai, and he found its source as they entered a spacious living room. At one end of the room, a seven-piece, multispecies band was playing light, easygoing jazz of the sort that Jal’tai liked. The moment Solonn entered the room, however, they stopped playing; the chattering of the guests ceased a split-second after, and soon all eyes were on Jal’tai and Solonn, who had made their way to the center of the room.

“Our guest of honor has arrived!” Jal’tai announced needlessly, beaming at the crowd of surrounding guests. The moment the words left his mouth, the guests all erupted into applause. Solonn winced involuntarily, expecting another confetti attack or some other, equally bizarre surprise from the guests, but luckily they seemed content to merely applaud him—until Jal’tai decided to lead them in a cheer, which Solonn endured with a somewhat forced smile.

At Jal’tai’s cue, the band resumed playing, striking up a somewhat livelier tune than they’d been playing previously, and the guests seemed to go back to milling amongst themselves. Jal’tai took a few moments to systematically hunt down every person to whom Solonn had not yet been introduced and rectify that unfamiliarity, then shepherded Solonn over to a presently unoccupied sofa, asking the nearest person to them to go fetch a couple of drinks as the two took their seats there.

“So. What do you think of this little surprise I put together for you, hmm?” Jal’tai then asked Solonn.

What Solonn thought was that it was kind of an odd surprise. But, it was the thought that counted, after all, so, “It’s nice,” he said, nodding approvingly. “How long were you planning this?”

“Well, I always knew I wanted to do something special for you when this day finally arrived,” Jal’tai answered, smiling. “As for the elements of the party itself, the invitations were sent out just over a week ago, around the time the decorations were purchased, and I booked the band over the weekend. Saved them from having to play another wedding, the lucky souls,” he added with a laugh.

Solonn responded wordlessly in acknowledgment, and the two were silent for a little while after that, watching the band, watching the crowd. The man who’d been sent after drinks returned; Jal’tai and Solonn received them from him and thanked him as he left their side. Jal’tai stared into his drink for a moment, seemingly deep in thought. He took a small sip of it, and then turned to Solonn with an unreadable expression.

“I’ll be leaving town tomorrow morning,” Jal’tai told him, sounding rather hoarse all of a sudden.

It took a moment for those words to sink into Solonn’s mind. When they did, he was somewhat at a loss for how to react. He’d known for quite a while that Jal’tai had planned to leave Convergence once he was no longer its leader, but Solonn hadn’t expected that he would leave quite so soon after stepping down from office.

“After I leave, this will be your home, of course,” Jal’tai went on. “I’ll help you move in tomorrow. It won’t be any real trouble for me—I’ve decided to leave much of what’s here to you, so it’s not as though I’ll really have much in the way of moving myself out to bother with.”

Somewhat overwhelmed, Solonn merely sat silently for moments on end, finding himself unable to respond to what Jal’tai was saying. The way things were unfolding was strangely difficult for him to quite get his head around; after years spent in preparation for the life he was only just entering, everything suddenly seemed to be happening so fast…

“Are you all right, my boy?” Jal’tai asked concernedly.

“…I’m fine,” Solonn responded after a pause. He hesitated again, then admitted, “Part of me does kind of wish I’d known when you were leaving a little further in advance, though…”

Jal’tai smiled sadly. “I would certainly have told you had I been sure of it myself.” He sighed. “I’ll admit that I’d been procrastinating over the matter for longer than I really should have. I’ve been… quite reluctant to leave my city,” he all but whispered. “In the end, I knew that if I didn’t simply go, then I might not be able to bring myself to do it—hence the last minute decision. I’m terribly sorry if this inconveniences you in any way…”

“No… no, it’s not a problem at all,” Solonn assured him quickly. It was plain enough for him to see that the decision to leave Convergence behind had been a supremely difficult one for Jal’tai; though the human mirage that Jal’tai wore revealed only moderate sadness, Solonn strongly suspected that the latios behind that façade was on the verge of tears. He didn’t want to let Jal’tai feel even remotely guilty for springing this news on him on such short notice; Solonn felt rather sorry for even mentioning that the lack of advance warning had bothered him. He also didn’t have the heart to question why the latios found it necessary to leave, though he certainly did wonder. Knowing as he did how having a resolution questioned could shake it apart, Solonn mindfully kept that question to himself.

Jal’tai held Solonn’s gaze with a look of faint relief, then gave an earnest, albeit weary smile, grateful for Solonn’s understanding. He knew that the human at his side would never realize just how much of his unspoken compassion was being recognized, having been kept ignorant of Jal’tai’s psychic qualities ever since having his memory rewritten. But it was recognized indeed, and greatly appreciated.

“Oh, look at me,” Jal’tai then said, still sounding a bit constrained, “glooming up your nice party like that, shame on me! Come on,” he suggested in a slightly brighter tone as he stood, “why don’t we go mingle a bit more?”

Though still somewhat concerned for Jal’tai, sure that the matter of his departure was still weighing upon him, Solonn nonetheless humored the latios’s pretense of resumed lightheartedness. Throughout the remainder of that evening and well into the night, he chatted with the guests, took in the music, and accepted the gifts that the attendees had brought for him, and he allowed himself to enjoy it all—or rather, he managed to appear to do so. All the while, though, the better part of his mind was preoccupied with thoughts of what was soon to befall both himself and the latios who had preceded him—what one would gain and what the other would lose.

* * *

Last edited by Sike Saner; 04-11-2011 at 05:46 AM. Reason: Revisions.
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Old 09-17-2009, 08:20 PM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Ten Now Posted]

The August sun shone brightly, bearing down on Convergence from high in the sky. It was just before noon, but to Solonn it felt like it could have been almost any daylight hour; he had not slept the night before.

He stood there in front of the mansion that was soon to be his own, distantly staring at the lone moving truck that was parked at the end of the driveway and the plain black car parked behind that truck. A pair of movers made trips back and forth between the truck and the house, taking a few of Solonn’s things from the truck, then returning to it with a few of Jal’tai’s things. It wasn’t long at all before the job was done completely; Solonn didn’t own many possessions, and there were very few of Jal’tai’s that the latios had not opted to leave behind.

Shortly after the last of Solonn’s possessions were brought into the mansion, Jal’tai emerged wordlessly alongside the movers. He stopped beside Solonn, remaining silent for several moments, staring pensively into the sky.

“My Goddess, how I’m going to miss this place…” he finally whispered.

Solonn said nothing in response, casting a somber gaze downward. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a very faint shimmering; when he looked toward its source, he saw that Jal’tai had resumed his true form.

“I’ve taken the veil off of your eyes only,” Jal’tai assured Solonn before any concerns could be raised about his decision to drop the mirage. “This is most likely the last we will ever see of one another… I want your final memories of me to be as I truly am.”

He laid his taloned hands upon Solonn’s shoulders and sighed heavily. His eyes shone with unshed tears as he held the human’s gaze, and slowly, a warm, broad smile curved across his face. “You’ve come such a long way from the day when I first met you,” he said wistfully. “You have made me so very proud, my dear boy, prouder than I’ve ever been of anyone in my entire life. I know in my heart that you’ll take good care of my city, that you’ll serve and guide it with as much love and devotion as I always did…”

At these words, the latios could hold back his tears no longer. In a sudden motion, he wrapped his arms around Solonn in a long embrace. Solonn closed his eyes, feeling his own tears escape from them as he held on to the silently weeping dragon.

“I will miss my city,” Jal’tai breathed, “but I will miss you even more.”

“I’ll miss you, too,” Solonn responded truthfully, realizing now more than ever just how much he would miss the latios once he was gone.

At length, Jal’tai finally let go of Solonn, drifting slowly back from him. There was sorrow showing plainly through his features, but there was also pride, and it showed stronger still. “Take care, my boy,” he said softly. “You are the heart of this city now.”

Solonn nodded in acknowledgment. “You take care, too,” he said, his voice brittle.

Jal’tai smiled at him. “Farewell,” he said.

“Farewell,” Solonn returned.

Slowly, reluctantly, the latios turned away. He glided silently over the driveway, stopping to hover above the black car, invisible to all but Solonn, as a human mirage was seen to enter the vehicle by all others present at the scene. The engines of the two vehicles hummed to life, and the car and truck began to move out. Jal’tai gave one last, wistful look behind, and then he followed them away.

Through tears, Solonn watched Jal’tai vanish into the horizon. Now, with the latios gone, Convergence had truly fallen into Solonn’s hands, and he felt the weight of that burden more than ever now that he carried it alone. As he turned away and entered his new home, he couldn’t help but disagree with some of Jal’tai’s parting words. Solonn was now the leader of this city, but he felt that, in truth, Jal’tai would always be its heart.

_________________________

Systan is not actually part of Exeter’s name. It’s simply a title akin to Mr. or Ms., but used of a genderless person. The term was actually adopted by porygon from an alakazam language.

And yep, emyril and drathlon are species of fakemon that I invented. Neither of them has any further relevance to the story beyond those passing mentions, though. ^^; Here’s some information about them in case you’re curious:

Drathlon (dragon + athlete)
Type: Dragon/fighting
Warrior Pokémon
Height: 5’11’’
Weight: 216 lbs.
Evolution: None
Ability: Pure power
Appearance: Drathlon is a bipedal, humanoid dragon. Its scales are mostly green, with yellow scales covering its throat, chest, and abdomen, and its eyes are also yellow. Its hands and feet are clawed and have five digits each. It has spiky, red-and-black "fins" running down its head and neck, its back, and its tail, as well as along its arms and legs.
Shiny form: Brilliant yellow-orange rather than green, with the red in its “fin” replaced with bright blue, and with all the yellow parts acid green instead.

Emyril (emerald)
Type: Dragon/rock
Guardian Pokémon
Length: 14’10’’
Weight: 1,654 lbs. (I should probably make it heavier... ^^;)
Evolution: None
Ability: Diamondscale (Think of pure power, but affecting defense instead.)
Appearance: Emyril is a stocky, wingless, quadrupedal dragon with an almost ceratopian look about it. It has jewel-like, diamond-shaped scales of deep green and bright yellow, with a pale grey belly. Its eyes are tiny and lit from within with a deep red glow. It has a short face with a beaklike mouth, and five wide, flat horns protruding from the back of its head.
Shiny form: The green scales are a dark yellow instead, with the yellow scales becoming paler, almost white, and the eyes are blue rather than red.

Next time: Solonn finds himself in a place that he had not expected to see again—and what transpires there is even less expected. See you then!

- Sike Saner
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-=CHAPTER 17 POSTED=-
Banner by Saffire Persian

The Origin of Storms
-=COMPLETE=-

Last edited by Sike Saner; 04-11-2011 at 05:47 AM. Reason: Revisions.
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Old 09-18-2009, 03:10 AM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Eleven Now Posted]

Awesome! Wow. Jal'tai seemed really sad to leave. He deeply cared about Solonn-kinda like a father, actually. Wonder where the old Latios went?

And I think I know what'll happen next, but for the sake of others I won't say it >:3
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Old 10-15-2009, 03:00 AM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Eleven Now Posted]

Grassy_Aggron: Yeah, I was definitely going for something of a paternal vibe with Jal'tai. Good to know that that came through effectively to you. ^^

Thanks for reading and for replying! ^^

_________________________

Chapter 12 – Silence in the East


Restlessly, he soared, his weary eyes sweeping the land below as he wandered with no destination. He had done almost nothing else for months now, pausing only to tend to his physical needs, never staying in any one place for long.

Such had been the case ever since the day of his homecoming, the day he’d hoped would bring his redemption. He’d brought himself before the ones who had set upon him the task of doing good to balance against the crime that he’d committed so long ago, and there he had testified to them about all the work that he had done and the fruit that it had yielded.

Of course, he had been very consciously selective of the picture that he’d let them see of his achievements and how they had come about. His censored version of events had nearly fooled them, too. However, he had overestimated his ability to shape the truth in ways that favored him—and had also underestimated the silent, indignant protests that had lain deep within his own conscience, a conscience that had refused to sit quietly in submission to his denial any longer. He had been betrayed before the ones to whom he had made his appeal on that day by his own sense of right and by the love that had empowered it and allowed it to win at last.

Upon learning the whole truth of what he had done, they’d sentenced him to a permanent exile. They had rendered him physically unable to return to his native land. They had also decided to bar him likewise from other places, those where his greatest crimes had been committed and where those to whom he had done the most harm were most likely to reside.

And so, from the day that he was cast out into the world, he did nothing but wander. He was tormented in his every waking moment, as well as in the dreams that came whenever he actually managed to get himself to sleep, by regretful thoughts of how things might have turned out differently. He couldn’t stand to stay in any given place, for it was not where he longed to be. He often found himself drifting in circles, passing over the same areas so often that eventually he became quite aware of and familiar with the kinds of things that went on in those places.

Thus it was that he readily noticed that something was strange in this land on this day. His interest piqued, he descended in order to try and figure out what was going on. The scene that he found there perplexed him deeply and troubled him much more deeply still. He attempted to counteract what he’d found, but not even his most potent and sophisticated methods yielded any success.

With a mind that raced with questions, he left the scene, hoping to find some possible solution or assistance elsewhere. He instead found a scene that was identical to the one that he’d just left behind. A search of the entire region only yielded more of the same, a widespread problem that neither he nor anyone else around could solve.

Driven by a dark suspicion, he departed that part of the world for another, dearly hoping that what he found there would contradict what he had just seen in the previous region. To his immense sorrow and fear, this region—fully separated from the one that he had just left behind—was swiftly and steadily following suit.

The scope of this phenomenon was all too clear. He was greatly sickened by the notion that he was powerless to stop or undo it. And yet… it wasn’t that there was truly nothing that he could do. It was just that he could only do very, very little. With only power enough to reach so terribly few, it became a matter of deciding whom he would try to reach.

Immediately, his heart knew without a doubt where he wished to begin. Without another moment’s hesitation, he shattered a bond of power between himself and someone nearly half a world away…

* * *

Months had passed since Solonn’s appointment as the mayor of Convergence and Jal’tai’s subsequent retirement from his position in the International Pokémon League, and the IPL had been pleased with Solonn’s service throughout that time. The city prospered under his guidance just as it had under his predecessor, with the quality of life for its citizens kept high; it seemed that Convergence was capable of thriving under virtually any leadership. Confident in the abilities and competence of Jal’tai’s successor as well as in the stability of the city that he managed, the IPL had thus decided that the next phase of the Convergence Project could commence. The time had come to begin revealing the existence of the integrated community to the public.

Knowledge of the city would be given to the league’s members, starting with those in in the highest ranks and proceeding downward from there, before being released to the world at large, the IPL had decided. The Apex League, the highest echelon of the IPL’s organized battle division, had known about the Convergence Project from the start, as had the governing bodies outside of the IPL. The regional champions and elite trainers had been made privy to this information shortly thereafter. The next step would be for the lower IPL members, those who operated at the city level, to be informed.

The various forms of pokémon-based competition over which the International Pokémon League presided were all, as usual, seeing a great deal of action at the time. Gathering all of the league’s members into one place at one time, even those of just a single region, was therefore no easy feat. The IPL had thus determined that it would be easier, more practical, and more convenient to set up these informative meetings around the schedules of the lower-ranking members, letting them in on the Convergence Project singularly when they weren’t tangled up in other business.

It was suggested to Solonn that he could introduce his city to them himself if he so wished. He was given a choice of two ways by which he could go about conducting these meetings: he could either convene with the lower IPL members via satellite, or he could go and meet with them in person. The IPL had decided that none of them would actually be allowed into the city itself until they were properly briefed.

Solonn had rather liked the idea of traveling to places that he had never seen before. Being a new member of the IPL as he was, his superiors had kept him busier than his predecessor had been in the same office, wanting to see if he was truly IPL material. Solonn’s service to the Convergence Project generally kept him bound to the city that he led; he only ever left Convergence on IPL business, such as he was doing now. Any chance to step out of town, however briefly, was something that he appreciated, and so he had gladly taken the league’s directors up on the option of speaking with the lower-ranking members in person.

His tour would take him to every city in the area in which the IPL had any presence, any place where there was a gym, a breeding center, a pokémon laboratory—or a contest hall. So it was that on this day, his tour brought him to a place that he’d never really expected to see again: Lilycove.

Ever since the day when he’d been delivered from that place and the dangers therein, his thoughts had often turned toward the people whom he’d known there, wondering what had become of them, wondering what would become of them. However, from the moment that he’d taken on the role of Jal’tai’s successor and the form that came with that role, he had doubted that he would ever have anything to do with any of those people again.

Such thoughts were once more first and foremost on Solonn’s mind as he stood ready for departure to Lilycove, waiting for his personal teleporter to be available to serve him. Solonn knew that he would not be in town long; this was strictly a business trip, and he would be leaving town as soon as he’d concluded his meeting there. He figured that it was therefore very unlikely that he would see anyone whom he had once known while in town today, not out of a large city that was home to thousands of people.

He considered also that it had been years since he had had anything to do with any of them. For all he knew, the humans whom he had known in Lilycove, as well as the pokémon if they had been freed from their abductors, might have gone to live somewhere else during that time. Perhaps Morgan and her family had determined that they, like him, would be safer if they left the city.

“The guy’s sure taking his time, isn’t he?” remarked a voice to his immediate left. Solonn turned slightly to acknowledge Byron, a bodyguard hired to escort him during his travels. He was shorter than Solonn, but much broader; his muscle-bound physique was meant to be intimidating, Solonn figured. However, Byron’s slightly untidy, ash-blond hair and his round, smiling face somewhat softened the stern and serious air that he might otherwise have possessed. The bodyguard held a manila folder containing dossiers filled with information about Convergence that Solonn would use as visual aids in his presentation.

“Cliff will be ready soon enough, I’m sure,” Solonn responded, hoping that that prediction would come true even as he spoke it aloud. He wanted as little delay in getting to Lilycove as possible; whether it was out of interest in seeing it again after so long, getting his business there over with as soon as possible, or both, he wasn’t altogether certain.

Still, he maintained at least some patience through resignation to the fact that the delay in getting to Lilycove would be just as long, if not longer, if he were to rely on a different mode of transportation. Solonn figured that whatever Cliff was doing at the moment could be excused since the convenience that he provided was well worth the wait.

“Sorry about the wait,” said a high-pitched voice then, its source being a clefable who wore an acid-green fanny pack strapped around his waist. It was Cliff, who had just entered the lobby from a nearby restroom; neither Solonn nor Byron had even known that that was where he’d been.

The clefable came to stand with Solonn and Byron, motioning for them to draw very close to him to ensure that they were both caught in the teleportation field that he was about to create—an unnecessary action, as both of the humans had gone through this routine several times before and therefore knew what they were supposed to do. They gathered close to Cliff just as soon as he was in their midst.

“Okay, Lilycove, is it?” Cliff asked. Solonn nodded in confirmation. “All right, let’s see… that’s about, oh, two hundred miles south-by-southeast of here, right?”

Solonn gave Cliff a dull stare. The clefable had insisted on joking in the exact same way prior to the past few teleportations. Byron was quite fortunate in his inability to understand Cliff, Solonn thought; it spared the bodyguard from having to suffer the old “I have no idea where we’re supposed to be going” bit.

“Nah, I know where it is; you know I’m just playing with you,” Cliff said, taking a moment to laugh at his own joke before proceeding. He then closed his eyes, and after a moment’s focus, a teleportation field was summoned that swept the three travelers away from the lobby of the Convergence Tower and into the parking lot of their destination.

Last edited by Sike Saner; 04-11-2011 at 05:48 AM. Reason: Revisions.
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Old 10-15-2009, 03:00 AM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Eleven Now Posted]

The very moment Solonn materialized in Lilycove, his gaze traveled upward along the face of the building that filled almost his entire view from so near. The Lilycove Contest Hall was almost exactly as he remembered it, minus only the crisper definition that the stronger eyes of his prior form had given the picture. He stood staring at it for seconds on end, his body and mind transfixed by the feelings and memories that the sight of this place brought back.

“You two just go on in and take care of business while I have a smoke, all right?” Cliff spoke up then, breaking Solonn’s reverie. Without bothering to wait for any sort of reply, the clefable pulled a lighter and a pack of cigarettes out of his fanny pack.

“They’re not going to let you do that…” Solonn muttered, to no response from Cliff. At every single one of the stops on this tour so far, Cliff had tried to take a cigarette break in the vicinity of whatever IPL building Solonn had happened to be visiting, and on each of those occasions, the clefable had been reprimanded by the personnel at those facilities for doing so.

At that moment, the contest hall’s doors opened. Out stepped a red-haired woman in a navy blue pantsuit. She trotted quickly toward Solonn and Byron on her high heels, offering a hand to the former before she had even come to a stop before him.

“Hi, good afternoon! I’m Mrs. Penn, the director of Lilycove’s contest hall, but you can call me Meredith,” she introduced, telling Solonn nothing that the name tag that she wore hadn’t already. Her eyes shifted over toward Cliff, who was leaning against the building, smoking in silence with an odd sort of pensive look on his face. “That clefable should know that this is a no-smoking zone,” Meredith said with a frown.

Cliff cast an annoyed glance at the director. “Just call the office when you’re ready for me to come and get you,” he told Solonn, then left the scene in a golden flash.

“Come on, then, right this way…” Meredith said once the clefable had left, motioning toward the entrance of the contest hall before passing through the automated doors. Solonn followed her in at once, with Byron close at his side.

While the contest hall had looked the same on the outside as it had all those years ago, it seemed very different on the inside from what Solonn remembered. Everything was still in its old place—the receptionist’s desk; the posters on the wall; the large doors leading into the auditorium; and the smaller, more secluded entrance to the backstage area for the performers’ use—but the atmosphere was much more subdued, lacking the noise, excitement, and activity that he recalled from his previous times here. He had simply never seen it so empty before—there was no contest today, no coordinators, performers, or spectators waiting excitedly for the show.

He found the contrast from what he remembered strangely unsettling, making the contest hall seem somehow unfamiliar and wrong to him. He tried to maintain his focus, to keep his mind on the matter at hand rather than on the past. But in a place like this, where such vivid memories had been forged, he couldn’t help but think of the times that he’d spent here—as well as of the one with whom he’d shared them.

Once again, he wondered if Morgan still lived in this city, and if so, where she was at that very moment and what she was doing. He also wondered once again if she had ever been reunited with her other friends. It pained him to a fair extent that he would leave Lilycove today with those questions still unanswered. He also ached in the knowledge that he had returned here safely, yet they, whom he was sure had been wondering all this time what had become of him, would never know it.

Lost in those thoughts, he almost failed to notice when Meredith had stopped before them, having arrived at her office in the very back of the building. He followed her in without a word, taking the seat provided for him in front of the director’s desk, while Byron stood silently at his side.

The bodyguard handed Solonn the folder. Solonn let his gaze linger upon it for a second, then opened it. As he was doing so, a rather nasty itch overtook his eyes out of nowhere. He set the folder down on the desk quickly and then proceeded to try and relieve the sudden irritation. He managed to calm it fairly quickly, though his eyes still watered a bit afterward.

“Oh, allergies?” Meredith asked. “I sympathize; I get them too around this time of year.”

“Hm. Well, normally, I don’t,” he told Meredith, blinking rapidly in an effort to stave off another itch that was threatening to happen. “It could be something in the air around here, I suppose.”

“Mm, could be,” Meredith said with a shrug. “Tissue?” she offered, gesturing toward a box of them that sat on her desk.

“No, but thank you,” Solonn said. He figured that he and his dignity could endure doing without a tissue so long as his nose didn’t decide to get involved. “So,” he then said, “I assume you’ve been given some idea of why I’ve come here today, yes?”

“Mmm-hmm,” Meredith confirmed, nodding. “There was mention of some sort of major project the league’s put together. They didn’t go into details… Are you sure you don’t need a tissue?” she asked again, more concernedly this time, for Solonn’s eyes were clearly bothering him once again.

Solonn gave a noncommittal reply as he rubbed his eyes, harder this time and seemingly in vain.

“Actually, maybe you ought to try and rinse those out,” the director suggested. “The men’s room is up the hall to the right; I’ll wait here while you take care of that.”

“Good idea,” Solonn said, rising from his seat. He left the room with Byron accompanying him, straining to keep his eyes open as their irritation grew steadily worse. He quickly made his way to the restroom, halting Byron as the bodyguard attempted to enter the room along with him.

“You can stay out here,” Solonn told him, wincing and screwing his eyes shut as he did so; they had ceased to merely itch and had begun to burn. “I doubt there’s anyone in there, and I’ll only be a moment.” With that, he stepped into the restroom and shut the door behind him, then forced his eyes open long enough to spot the sinks and rush toward them.

Solonn gritted his teeth as he quickly shoved his hands underneath the motion sensor that activated the tap. He gathered handfuls of the cool water that flowed forth and brought them to his eyes, rinsing them vigorously in hopes of flushing out whatever was irritating them so badly. His efforts yielded no success, however—rather than relenting, the searing pain only grew worse, until it became so intense that it was all he could do not to cry out.

The water shut off as he clutched his forehead, the pain in his eyes stabbing into his skull so brutally that he could not even think to wonder what in the world was wrong with him. But then… just as unexpectedly as it had come, the pain subsided, fading mercifully quickly until it was nothing more than a dull throb.

Not quite daring to trust the relief at first, Solonn opened his eyes very slowly. He had to quell an urge to immediately close them again, for the bright light in the room struck his eyes with a peculiar harshness. He continued to lean over the sink for a few moments, giving himself time to relax after his ordeal, before lifting his head and straightening his posture once more. When he did so, the reflection that greeted him from the mirror above the sink told him just what had been tormenting his eyes.

This time, he could not stifle his scream.

The face before him shook with shock and fear, staring wildly back at him with eyes of a piercing blue—glalie eyes.

How…? No, this can’t be happening now! he tried to convince himself in fearful confusion, but the truth could not be denied. The effects of Jal’tai’s transfigure technique were wearing off—years before they were supposed to do so.

The door burst open as Byron responded swiftly to Solonn’s cry; Solonn immediately turned to prevent the bodyguard from seeing what had happened to his eyes. “What’s going on?” Byron demanded concernedly.

Solonn was considerably hesitant to answer that question. He had kept the fact that he was not truly human a strict secret during his leadership of Convergence. He had never intended for it to ever be revealed, unsure of whether or not it was a fact with which the citizens would be able to cope. Jal’tai, as it happened, had already thought of this, and had assured Solonn that he had seen to it that the plan that he had formulated to deal with this issue could be executed without a hitch.

In a few years, when it drew close to the time when the transfiguration was supposed to wear off, Solonn was supposed to name a local glalie as the one who would one day succeed him in office—the very glalie whom he would happen to become upon his reversion. After Michael “vanished” without a trace, Solonn would “take his place”. By that time, Jal’tai had claimed, the climate of society might be safer and more accepting of a pokémon in a position of leadership.

But with the premature reversal of the transfiguration, things were already not going according to plan. Here Solonn was, cornered, with his secret betraying itself. He hadn’t had the warning that he’d been assured of, and now there was no time to set up a smooth transition of power from the one whom he’d pretended to be to the one whom he actually was.

Solonn had no successor to his office other than himself. The only way that he could think of that would make it at all possible for him to keep his position was if it were known that the pokémon whom he was becoming and the human whom he had been were, in fact, the same person. Someone would have to witness his change, and Solonn knew that that someone would have to be Byron. He could only hope that the bodyguard would not react too adversely to what he was about to see.

“Sir… what’s going on?” Byron asked again. Solonn heard him take a couple of steps closer.

As Solonn resigned and braced himself for the revelation that he was about to give, he saw the skin on his hands begin to turn a dark, flat gray, stiffening as it darkened. The truth could wait no longer.

“Don’t be alarmed,” Solonn said as calmly as he could manage and far moreso than he felt. “I’ll explain everything later… Just please, call Cliff. Now,” he commanded flatly, and then he turned around.

Solonn saw the look on the human’s face turn in an instant from concern to shock as their eyes met. Byron stared speechlessly as he watched a human being turn gray as graphite right before his eyes, a human being who looked back at him through glowing eyes. He stepped back from Solonn, tension written all over his stance.

“What… what the hell…” the bodyguard stammered, his voice trailing off. His eyes remained locked onto Solonn, holding his employer’s gaze with an alert stare. His arm twitched, his hand moving to his side, where a handgun and a nonlethal stun gun were concealed under his jacket.

Solonn noticed this, but tried not to let his eyes shift conspicuously toward the weapons or to let his focus be broken. He strongly doubted that Byron would shoot him, but reckoned that the bodyguard might well use the stun gun if he thought that Solonn might be losing control of himself and posing a threat. The fact that Byron hadn’t resorted to either weapon upon first sight of him told Solonn that the human seemed to still recognize him, at least, and would probably still listen to him as long as both of their heads were kept level enough.

“No time to explain,” Solonn said. He then gasped in shock and doubled over as a horribly cold sensation suddenly struck deep into his bones. “Just call Cliff,” he urged almost voicelessly. “Please, hurr—ahhhh!” He collapsed to his knees as what felt like hammer blows struck his temples; his hands flew up and clutched his head, feeling the cold, hard surface of the horns that had just erupted there.

Dizzy with pain and shivering violently, Solonn lifted his head with difficulty and looked up at Byron through eyes that streamed with tears. The bodyguard had backed up even further, standing right at the door and still staring warily at Solonn. However, there also seemed to be a hint of genuine concern in his eyes. One of Byron’s hands still hovered near his weapons, but the other now held his cell phone. Come on… Solonn urged him silently, barely able to catch his breath due to the cold. Call… please, for the gods’ sakes, call!

It was then that a strange sensation took hold of Solonn, one that was incredibly potent—and familiar. After years spent outside of it, he had returned to the embrace of the element of ice. In the midst of his agony, the reunion with his mother element was a wonderful escape, one in which he quickly lost himself completely.

He was utterly unaware of the sudden, intensely white flare in his eyes and of the massive, involuntary release of ice-type energy that accompanied it with a sharp, resounding crack.

The sound snapped Solonn out of his elemental ecstasy in an instant. The scene surrounding him returned to his focus and brought with it the sight of a partially ice-glazed man who stood fixed in a startled stance with an expression of sudden terror, no longer moving—or breathing.

“Oh… oh gods…” Solonn said in a brittle voice, staring aghast at the man whom he had just inadvertently flash-frozen. His newly formed heat-vision told him that not even the slightest vestige of the warmth that had once fueled Byron’s life still remained. Solonn’s element had returned to him before he was ready and able to control it, and as a result, someone had just died by his hand.

Trembling in horror as well as in his unrelenting pain, Solonn attempted to rise and get away from the scene, but his body couldn’t respond to that command. His joints were beginning to lock and fuse together. A faint swelling of light crept up into his vision; his eyes sought its source and found that a soft, sea green glow was now emanating from every square inch of his skin. The green light suddenly intensified in an almost blinding surge, and with the sickening sound of crunching bones, Solonn’s arms and legs collapsed in on themselves and were absorbed into his body in a single, violent instant. A split-second later, his spine shortened, a change that was less sudden but no less painful than the loss of his limbs.

Solonn’s reversion continued at an accelerated pace, and the agony of it was greater than any that he had ever known before. As his body expanded, reproportioned, and reconfigured in wrenching, spasmodic bursts, his pain manifested itself through an involuntary display of his command over ice. The ice that glued Byron’s legs to the floor spread rapidly over every surface of the room and formed jagged spires that jutted out all around their maker.

Solonn was almost unable to perceive anything other than the pain that consumed him, barely able to do anything consciously except to wish to the gods that the suffering that came with this change would end soon. As if in answer to his prayers, his mother element sent another surge of power through him, one that rebounded back upon him. With another loud crack, his mind was cast into nothingness.

* * *

Last edited by Sike Saner; 04-11-2011 at 05:49 AM. Reason: Revisions.
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Old 10-15-2009, 03:01 AM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Eleven Now Posted]

The next thing Solonn was aware of was a steady humming, one that grew louder as he reconnected fully to his senses. The pain that he had known prior to losing consciousness awakened along with him, but was far weaker now, barely more than a dull ache throughout his entire body. As his wits returned, he remembered the cause of this pain, which seemed to flare up a bit more at the memory of his reversion.

He also remembered the eyes that had stared emptily back at him after he had stolen the life from behind them…

His eyes flew open, and he sat up in alarm, his heart pounding and his stomach turning as he recalled what he had done. He realized at once that he was not where he had last been and that he was apparently alone here. A soft, off-white light glow filled his entire vision, seeming to come from the surrounding surfaces themselves. He saw dark walls and the flashing indicators of some unidentifiable equipment some distance before him, and as his eyes focused and made out the finer details of these things, he realized that the glow was not coming from those surfaces. The pale light was in the form of a wall of energy that stood between him and the other things in this place—one of many such walls that fully enclosed him, he recognized as he turned to look all around him.

Solonn rose somewhat awkwardly from the floor, lowered his head slightly, and experimentally prodded the energy barrier with one of his horns. He was immediately met with a nasty shock, one that did nothing to calm his nerves. He realized that he had been put in a containment field, imprisoned by it within some place that he didn’t even remotely recognize. He didn’t know where he was, but he had a terrible feeling that he knew why he was there. Someone must have opened that restroom door and found him there along with the man whom he had killed, he figured, and now he was being held captive for the life that he had taken.

With a very heavy heart, Solonn sank to the floor and closed his eyes in deep, solemn thought. He wondered where he would be and what might have transpired if Byron were still alive. He also wondered if he would be kept in this place forever, and if so, what would befall Convergence. If neither “Michael” nor the pokémon whom he truly was were there to lead its citizens, then who could?

Through closed eyelids, Solonn just managed to perceive a brief surge in the lighting around him. It was so quick that he might easily have imagined it, but he opened his eyes in response to it anyway without really thinking about it. What he saw surprised him to no small degree.

Bathed in the soft light of the force field and surrounded by the aura of her own body heat, she glowed like an apparition. Her deep blue eyes were unreadable as she gazed upon him, her mustache drooping in an expression that somewhat resembled a frown but suggested far more.

“It really is you,” she all but whispered. “I’d given up on ever seeing you again… and yet here you are.”

“Sei?” Solonn asked incredulously, his eyes widening; the alakazam nodded in response. “Gods, I thought I’d never see you again, either!” Solonn exclaimed almost breathlessly, a surge of relief managing to rise through him even in the midst of everything else that weighed upon him. “I’m so relieved that you’re safe… but what about the others? Were they also freed from the ones who abducted us?” he asked.

Sei’s brows drew tightly together. “What? Solonn… none of us were never abducted,” she said, sounding concerned.

A look of troubled confusion came over the glalie’s features. “…You were, though,” he insisted. “We all were, more than four years ago.”

“No, Solonn,” Sei said quietly. “No one was taken that day except for you.”

Solonn stared at Sei in disbelief, wondering how in the world she could fail to recall her abduction. Perhaps, he considered, the abductors had damaged her memory in surmounting her psychic abilities… “That can’t be true,” he said. “Morgan told me all that had happened when she found where they were keeping me.”

Sei said nothing in response to that, holding Solonn in a now deeply troubled gaze as she stood in silence. Her eyes narrowed, her stare sharpening. Then, very abruptly, she turned on her heel and sent a brilliant, multicolored wave of psychic energy crashing into the equipment behind her. There was a series of loud popping and hissing noises, and the indicator lights on the devices flickered madly before failing completely. A small plume of smoke rose from the ruined equipment, and the containment field surrounding Solonn disappeared.

The room was now very dark, but Solonn could still see Sei as she turned to face him, her expression unreadable once more.

“Come here,” she said soberly after a beat.

Growing more worried and confused by the second, Solonn rose from the spot and drifted over to her. “What’s the matter?” he asked softly.

Sei sighed. “I thought I sensed something abnormal about your mental signature,” she said. “Now with that anti-elemental field out of the way, I can be certain of that. Solonn… someone or something has tampered with your mind.”

“…What?” Solonn said almost voicelessly. “But… how? What do you mean by ‘tampering’? What could have possibly been done to me?”

“A number of things,” Sei answered, taking a step closer to Solonn. “If you’ll allow me to investigate your mind, I can find out exactly what has been done to it. I will warn you that it would involve opening your mind to me completely, including giving me access to your thoughts and memories.”

The notion of giving free access of his mind to another was a fairly discomfiting one for Solonn. But the notion that his mind could have been tampered with and that he could have been completely unaware of it up until this point was one that he found far more disturbing still. He could still only barely believe that such a thing could have happened to him and couldn’t even begin to imagine when, where, or how it could have happened. He trusted Sei and her psychic perceptions, though; if she said that something had been done to his mind, then he figured that there was a very good chance that she was right about that.

“Go ahead,” he permitted her.

Sei gave a quick nod of acknowledgment. Indigo light filled her eyes, and she became utterly still, barely even breathing. Solonn noticed a definite something within his mind as Sei projected her consciousness deep into it, something like a nagging, unbidden thought. Whatever it was exactly that she was doing to him was not painful, not even really uncomfortable—just very distracting. Sei moved too quickly through his mindscape for him to discern her exact actions there, but while she was too fast for his mind to ever catch, the foreignness of her presence would not let it abandon the pursuit.

After only a few moments, she ceased her psychic investigation, her eyes losing their glow. “My word… what a strange and incredible experience you’ve had…” she remarked. She looked up into the eyes of the glalie before her with a combination of outrage and pity on her face. “But there is something very wrong with the circumstances as you recall them.”

“What? What do you mean?” Solonn asked, troubled.

Sei sighed and lowered herself onto the floor, sitting cross-legged. “You might want to sit down, too,” she said. The glalie heeded her advice, descending gently to the floor. “You may not believe what I’m about to tell you,” Sei said, “but I may be able to prove it yet. You have known so much deception since we were parted… you deserve to reunite with the truth.” She took a deep breath before proceeding. “Solonn… the evening when you left Lilycove was not as it seemed to be. The one who led you away… that was not Morgan.”

Solonn’s jaws parted, but he was temporarily dumbstruck. He remembered that evening perfectly clearly, remembered the care, sorrow, and sincere love and concern for her pokémon friends that the person who’d bid him farewell then had shown—he couldn’t imagine how that could not have been Morgan. “That can’t be possible!” he finally managed.

“Morgan didn’t leave this city on that evening or at any time during the days that followed, not even for a moment,” Sei informed him. “When I returned to our home, I found her there along with a couple of police officers. She had contacted them the moment she had come home and found that you were gone. She was so concerned for you that she remained waiting by the phone all night after the police had left, as well as through much of the time that followed, waiting for any word on your whereabouts.”

“But… if that wasn’t Morgan, then who in the gods’ names was that?” Solonn demanded, still unable to believe that things might not have transpired as he so clearly recalled them.

“I can think of a possible suspect,” Sei answered quietly. “Someone you know who just so happens to possess the ability to pass flawlessly for a human.”

Solonn fell dead silent as Sei’s statement sank in. “No,” he said. “You can’t honestly accuse that man of such a despicable thing…” Unconsciously, he rose, letting his gaze bear down upon Sei. “If you’ve seen my memories of him, you would know what sort of a man he is. You cannot truly believe that he would do what you’re suggesting he did!”

“No,” Sei responded, unflinching in the glalie’s appalled stare, “I can’t truly believe it; I can only suspect it. However, evidence that may prove or at least support my suspicion might exist within your mind. There are parts of your mind that are artificially separated from the rest. They were so well hidden that I couldn’t have noticed them had I not investigated your mind so thoroughly; as it is, they still nearly eluded my detection. They are very well quarantined, sealed in a way that I may not be able to undo successfully. But I’m willing to try.”

“…Go on, then,” Solonn said after a beat, then set himself back down. He couldn’t abide by the fact that there were aspects of his own mind that had been hidden from him or by the fact that some of what he had known might have been a lie. Solonn still couldn’t bear to think that his last moments with Morgan had been wasted on an impostor, and he refused to accept for even a moment that Jal’tai, who had seemed to him to be so motivated by a sense of justice and fairness, could have been that impostor.

“Whether successful or not, this procedure will not be a pleasant experience for you,” Sei warned.

“I assure you, I’ve experienced far worse,” Solonn told her earnestly, the memories of all that had happened thus far on this day still fresh on his mind. “Please,” he said, “just do whatever you can.”

“Very well, then.” Sei rose to her feet and remained utterly silent and still for a moment after, gathering her strength and bracing herself for the task at hand. She took a couple of steps back from Solonn, then extended her arms forward and slightly upward and crossed her spoons in front of her as if forming crosshairs bearing directly upon Solonn’s forehead. Light bloomed within her eyes once more, but it was deeper in color and more intense than before. The spoons that she held took on the same glow as she focused her psychic power through them. Then, with a cry of effort from its maker, a bolt of psychic energy shot forth from the crossed spoons and struck the glalie’s head with a brutal impact.

Solonn’s vision was swallowed up by the rush of indigo light, and he heard his voice come roaring forth of its own volition. The psychic bolt drove into his brain, seeming to saw against the fabric of his mind as it strove to break through the barrier that stood before it. The pain that it caused him in the process was not only physical but mental as well, threatening to fray the edges of his sanity.

Sei snarled in her struggle to break the seals in Solonn’s mind, fearing that she wouldn’t be able to persist much longer. She felt her power beginning to ebb out of her grasp, her mind aching and longing to relent. She was sure that she could succeed if she didn’t let up, however, and so she ignored her brain’s pleas for rest. Knowing fully well how such overexertion could harm her, she nonetheless reached deep into her psychic energy reserves and drove her power onward with all her might.

A piercing cry exploded from the glalie’s throat as his suffering escalated into a sensation that felt like nothing less than his skull being blown apart. But in the next moment, the pain vanished without a trace, and a wave of utter tranquility descended upon his mind in its place.

That peace was broken almost immediately as all at once, the memories of what had truly happened in the wake of Solonn’s departure from Lilycove took their place in his mind alongside their fabricated counterparts. In a single instant, Solonn learned of a version of events that was very different from what he had remembered.

A morning that found him cast into another form without warning, without consent…

An attempted escape from a role into which he was forced…

A terrible punishment for his resistance, worse even than the agony brought by his reversion…


With a jolt, Solonn found himself pulled back into the scene surrounding him as Sei’s violent drive into his mind ended. He saw her crouching before him, panting and sweating heavily. “Are… are you going to be all right?” he asked worriedly in an unsteady voice, left quite shaken by the sudden rush of information that he had just received.

Sei only nodded in response, still fighting to catch her breath. Once she had done so, she looked up at Solonn, trace amounts of indigo light still lingering within her eyes. “Having compared those two chains of memories, I can tell with almost absolute certainty which of them is native to your own mind. It was the truth that had been locked away,” she said. “I think we have just learned a great deal about Jal’tai.”

Solonn looked deep into her eyes and started to respond, but found that words failed him at that moment. He didn’t want to believe that the best friend that he had ever known could have subjected him to the strange and terrible experiences that he now recalled… but at the same time, he couldn’t deny Sei’s findings. On some deep, subconscious level, even he could sense which of his memories were truly his own. He couldn’t pretend that what he had just learned was untrue.

“You now know the lengths that he was willing to go to in order to secure you in his endeavors,” Sei continued. “You should see that it’s therefore quite plausible that he impersonated Morgan so that he could lead you out of Lilycove, so that you would go where he wanted you to go.”

Solonn remained silent, still staring at Sei with eyes whose light was wavering with unease. Sei’s theory made sense to him, as much as it pained him to admit it. As he now recalled, Jal’tai had even admitted to having been at the theater where Solonn had been held by his abductors, saying that he had been prepared to get Solonn out of that place if Morgan hadn’t done so first. The truth, it seemed, was that Jal’tai had delivered him from that theater on that evening. Morgan hadn’t even been there.

Still… while it was true that the memories of Jal’tai doing terrible things to him were real, so were the memories of the years of guidance and friendship that the latios had shown him after. Solonn could not deny the worst of what had been done to him… but he could not deny the best of it, either.

He turned back to Sei. “I honestly don’t know how to feel about all of this…” he said, his voice breaking.

“I would imagine not,” Sei responded somberly. “I can think of few things as overwhelming as it must be to have one’s past undone in a single moment.”

Her eyes still held that faint light, and as she rose back to her feet, it steadied into a strong, even glow once more. “I’m afraid that the recovery of your memories is not yet finished,” she told him then. “I’m sure that you’re aware of a hole that still exists within your memory, are you not?”

Sei was right, Solonn recognized fairly quickly. There was a small frame of time from the morning that he had awakened as a human that was still missing from his mind.

“I suspect I know where that missing memory is hidden,” Sei went on. “There’s another section of your mind that is still sealed, a smaller one, but one that is sealed in a different way. As such, I’ll have to approach this seal somewhat differently, but I should still be able to break through it as long as I give it everything I can.”

Solonn frowned at her concernedly. “I know that it took a lot out of you last time… Maybe you should rest before you attempt such a thing.”

“Maybe so,” Sei concurred. “But as I said before, you deserve to reunite with the truth—the whole truth. You have suffered such injustice at the hands of a psychic being… let another psychic undo this wrong.”

Sei was concerned about the honor of her element, Solonn realized, just as he remembered her being back in the days when he’d lived with her. “Sei… I know that not all psychics use their abilities to do harm,” he assured her. Sei made a noise of acknowledgment, though she still wore an apologetic look. “Go ahead and try to undo that seal,” Solonn said. “But please, don’t push yourself too hard.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll be careful.” Sei once again crossed her spoons in front of her. She stared into Solonn’s eyes for slightly longer than she had the time before as if carefully plotting her course of attack. Then she sent another psychic probe lancing through his mind.

The sensation of it was every bit as unpleasant as it had been the last time, but there was something different about it this time. Sei’s effort to break through the barrier in her way was met with considerably more resistance than the last seal had given her. Solonn could feel the strain of her power within his mind; it was barely making any headway at all against the obstacle before it.

And then, with an alarming abruptness, the barrier gave way, hurtling Solonn into another lost memory…

* * *

Light suddenly filled his vision, unnaturally crisp and white. With a delay, his eyes adjusted to the brightness of his surroundings. Even then, they seemed unable to focus properly; his vision seemed dull and hazy.

Movement in the distance before him caught his attention. There, he saw a silhouette behind a translucent partition, seeming to pace back and forth. The barrier before the figure was tinted in such a way that not even the harsh light of the space outside it could shine through entirely, making the exact appearance of whatever was behind it impossible for Solonn to discern.

Curious about the figure behind the dark barrier, Solonn tried to move toward it—but immediately found that he couldn’t. Terror rose swiftly within him as he found himself completely paralyzed. He tried to call out for help but found his voice as unresponsive to his commands as his body was.

Solonn stared with wide, fearful eyes at the silhouette before him, which had stopped moving and now seemed to be staring intently at him. He wondered if the silhouette represented someone who could help him—or if it was the one who had rendered him so helpless.

Then something entered his sight that made him forget all about the figure behind the barrier.

Slowly, smoothly, an enormous pair of thin, spindly arms made of glinting metal and glossy, white plastic descended from above with a faint sound of mechanized motion. Solonn was consumed with a desire to scream and bolt at the sight of them as they reached toward him, but he couldn’t even do so much as shudder in his fear as the strange hands prepared to close around him…


* * *

Last edited by Sike Saner; 04-11-2011 at 05:51 AM. Reason: Revisions.
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Old 10-15-2009, 03:02 AM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Eleven Now Posted]

Before it could proceed any further, the unlocked memory playing within Solonn’s mind warped and then seemed to blow apart with a burst of agony within his head and searing red light within his eyes. He shouted involuntarily and heard another voice cry out likewise. His vision returned, and he didn’t understand the dark, blank picture that it was showing him until he realized that he had somehow ended up on his back and was now staring up at the ceiling.

Solonn ascended, his head pounding at the motion. He saw Sei still lying on the ground before him, her eyes wide and bulging as her breath came in pained gasps. “Sei!” he cried as he rushed over to her.

The alakazam looked up at him, her expression changing from agony to sorrow as her pain slowly dulled. “I’m so sorry,” she said very softly once she caught her breath. “There was some sort of anti-psychic mechanism there… it repelled me, forced me out. I’m afraid that I can’t restore your memory entirely.”

“It’s all right,” Solonn said. “You did the best you could.” He lowered his head, offering a horn to Sei in order to help her get up.

“That wasn’t even the memory I was seeking to unlock,” Sei said as she pulled herself upright with an effort. “It bore no relation to the events of the morning when you found yourself changed…” She sighed. “That’s even more of your past being kept from you, then.”

Solonn tried not to let himself look as disturbed as he was by this latest revelation. The memory that Sei had just resurrected within him was indeed unrelated to the morning when he had awakened as a human; its setting bore no resemblance to the Grand Suite, and it didn’t fit within the small frame of time that was missing from his memory of that morning. He didn’t know what the memory of the silhouette and the mechanical arms could represent and got the feeling that he might never know, but after seeing what her last efforts to unlock his memories had done to her, he definitely didn’t want Sei giving it another try anytime soon or perhaps even at all. He feared that if she pushed harder, so might whatever had repelled her last time—he could all too easily imagine it fighting back hard enough to end her life.

“I think all that really matters right now is that we’ve found each other again and know that we’re safe,” Solonn said then. Sei looked at him for a moment, then made a small, wordless noise of agreement, but still looked quite troubled. “How did you find me here, anyway?” he asked then, hoping to ease Sei’s mind somewhat by turning the subject away from his memories.

“Well,” Sei began, “shortly after I arrived here at the pokémon center, I thought I detected your mental signature. I could hardly believe it at first, but I followed it and was led here, to the ward for dangerous pokémon, and to you.”

A fresh pang of guilt swelled within Solonn as he learned the nature of the place where he currently was, realizing that his suspicions about why he had been imprisoned here within a containment field were correct. The reminder of what he had done to Byron sickened him to his core, and he turned away from Sei in deep shame as it finally hit him that in searching his mind so thoroughly as she had done, she had undoubtedly learned that he had taken someone’s life earlier that day.

“Be at peace, Solonn,” Sei said somberly, correctly interpreting his response. “You know that you didn’t mean to kill him.” The troubled look in her eyes deepened. “At any rate,” she added almost voicelessly, “it wouldn’t have made any difference if you hadn’t done so.”

Solonn turned back to face her at once, looking quite appalled. “How can you say that?” he demanded in disbelief. “He should not have died so young, so senselessly!”

“I’m sure he shouldn’t have, but he would have anyway.” Sei closed her eyes. “Something terrible has happened, Solonn,” she said gravely. “Something impossible… something unnatural.”

“What… what is it? What’s happened?” Solonn asked with a look of deep concern on his face and a chilling dread growing swiftly within his mind. Sei’s tone and the grave sorrow in her expression already told him that the answer would be painful.

Sei seemed unable to reply at first, but finally managed to find the strength to do so. “Earlier today, probably not long after you were brought here… something struck the humans of the city. I was enjoying another day out on the town, observing them, when it happened… I saw some of them fall as they walked, but others were stricken in their vehicles… there was chaos, Solonn. I sought help within their hospital, their police station, everywhere, but in every place I searched, they all simply lay there, fast asleep and fully insensible.”

“…All of them?” Solonn asked incredulously. “You couldn’t find anyone who wasn’t like that?”

“No, I couldn’t,” Sei answered sadly. “They all fell asleep, and we’ve not been able to find any cause for their condition or any means to awaken them. Once I realized that none of them could be reached, I began going around town and releasing pokémon from capture balls and PC storage—that’s actually what I was doing here in the first place. I sent some of the fastest fliers I could find out to other human settlements in hopes of finding some solution there, and I sent some of those who could teleport or otherwise force entry into locked buildings to help let out the rest of Lilycove’s pokémon in case… in case no solution could be found.”

A sorrowful sigh escaped her. “Unfortunately, it seems that no solution will be found. Some of those whom I sent out have already returned, and they tell of the same strange affliction plaguing the humans elsewhere. What’s more… we’ve also learned that this illness is terminal.” Her last statement was barely more than whispered, with what little of her voice that it held breaking on the last word. “The very old and the very young have already succumbed.”

For a long moment, Solonn was silent, an expression of horrified astonishment on his face. “Oh dear gods…” he finally whispered, lowering his gaze. He could never have imagined anything that could so effectively strike down an entire population, and yet it was happening. It was an almost unfathomably terrible notion to him that these humans could all be soon to perish…

Every last one of them.

Solonn’s eyes grew massively wide, and he inhaled sharply as the personal impact of what was happening hit him. “You’ve got to take me to Morgan,” he urged Sei, his voice strained with panic. “Now, by the gods!”

Without a second’s hesitation, Sei invoked her teleport technique. Solonn’s heart raced as the golden light engulfed him, knowing that he was about to reunite with Morgan at last… but under circumstances for which he would never have wished.

* * *

<Sei! It is fortunate that you—>

Both the telepathic voice and the rattling that accompanied it fell abruptly silent as their owner noticed that it was not Sei alone who had just appeared in its midst. Several of Oth’s many eyes stared at Solonn, as did the eyes of three others, though it was clear from all of their expressions that they all had far more weighing on their minds than the glalie’s return.

There they all were: the other four pokémon whom Solonn had known all those years ago. All of them were safe and sound—but of course they were, Solonn acknowledged. They had been safely together all this time, just as Sei had said.

The four of them were gathered in a small, unfamiliar room; they had apparently moved into a new home since he had last seen them. Oth hovered nearby in the center of the room. The others were all at the far end of the room, gathered around a small sofa with Aaron kneeling in silence at one end and Brett and Raze huddled at the other, the latter crying almost silently as the former held her with a foreleg around her shoulders. The shock and sorrow emanating from them all was palpable, hanging over the room like fog.

And there was Morgan, lying on the sofa with a little blue blanket draped over her sleeping form. Without a word, with barely even a breath, Solonn glided over to her. Though she was now a grown woman, the face that he saw as he looked down upon her was almost exactly like the one that smiled back at him from his memories. She wore an expression of utmost serenity, her eyes closed and the tiniest ghost of a smile curving her lips. It was hard for him to believe that someone who seemed to be in such blissful peace could be in the hold of something so strange and terrible.

“I don’t believe it… We were all sure that you’d never return,” Brett said in a soft voice as Solonn set himself down with a low, sorrowful hiss. “How did you finally find your way back?”

“That is a very long story,” Sei spoke up at once as she came over to join the others with Oth following at her side and helping to support her, “one that he will tell if and when he feels like it.”

Solonn silently thanked Sei, grateful that he had been spared the matter of his ordeal for the time being. He couldn’t have focused on the subject enough to relate that story to them anyway, not now. He could barely focus on anything other than the woman who lay before him, closer than she had been to him in nearly half a decade and yet so terribly distant in her unnatural sleep. Solonn was sure that she had ached with worry for him to no small degree during the time that they’d been apart. He had vanished from her life without a trace—neither of them had been given any chance to say goodbye to one another. Now history was repeating, in a sense, only he would have no time with her before she was taken away rather than the other way around.

“Nothing can awaken her?” he asked in a pained whisper, his voice carrying a plea that his question would be contradicted. “Nothing at all?”

<Nothing,> Oth confirmed sadly. <She does not respond to any stimuli.> A number of its eyes closed. <Her physical processes are slowing, steadily and irrevocably. Soon… they will cease,> it said quietly.

At the claydol’s words, Raze gave a strangled sob. The skarmory’s entire body shook as she sat there weeping, her head lowered so that it lay beside Morgan’s.

“Shh, it’s all right,” Brett tried to comfort her, but the brittleness of his tone told that he was trying just as hard to comfort himself. “At least she’s not suffering… at least she’s going peacefully.” Raze lifted her head and looked at him over her shoulder for a second, but then turned away, unconsoled.

<It is true that she cannot truly be awakened,> Oth spoke up then with a slight hint of hesitance in its mindvoice. <However… there is a chance that she can still be reached.>

Every eye in the vicinity other than Oth’s own turned toward the claydol. “Oth… what do you mean?” Sei asked.

<There is a method that could allow me to contact her within her subconscious mind,> Oth answered.

The others gained astounded expressions, their eyes wide. “Can you really do this?” Brett asked in a hushed tone.

<Possibly,> Oth replied. It gave a long, low rattle. <I have been attempting it all this time, but to no avail. I did not tell any of you what I was trying to do because I did not want to risk raising your hopes in vain. However, now that Sei is here…> Oth turned to face Sei even though its ring of eyes made such unnecessary. <With your assistance, I may be able to succeed in establishing contact with Morgan,> it told her.

“What do you require of me?” Sei asked.

<You will need only to synchronize yourself with my psychic frequency and provide a moderate boost of power.>

“All right, then.” Sei said. Her eyes closed, and all eight of Oth’s followed suit immediately thereafter.

Solonn and the others watched Oth and Sei with bated breath, wondering what, if anything, the actions of the two psychics would yield. None of the four who watched them were altogether sure of exactly what Oth and Sei were doing, but they all held a wary hope that the claydol’s method would indeed enable some kind of contact with the otherwise unreachable Morgan.

Seconds passed with no clear indication that the two psychics were actually doing anything at all. Then all of Oth’s eyes suddenly opened and emitted a flash of pale light that swallowed up everything in sight.

When the light subsided, the tiny room was gone. Solonn and the others now found themselves in a place that was very different, but also very familiar. A wooden fence enclosed them in a small field of vividly green grass, with clouds drifting through the sky above them. A sitrus tree stood nearby, its branches covered with delicate white blossoms… and beneath that tree sat Morgan, who was very much awake and staring pensively at a sitrus blossom in her hand, picking off a couple of its petals and letting them fly away on the breeze.

How… how is this possible? Solonn wondered silently, staring speechlessly at the sight of Morgan awake and well once more. Aaron, Brett, Raze, and Sei were looking upon her with equal amazement.

<This is a living dream,> Oth privately told the other pokémon using its mindvoice alone, almost as if it had picked up on the glalie’s unspoken question. <I have projected her dreamscape into our minds and stirred her own consciousness within it. Her body still sleeps, but her mind is awake in this place.>

It seemed to be the only good news that the circumstances would allow. Morgan could not be saved, but at least she could spend what little time she had left with the pokémon who cared about her—with all of them. Somewhere between illusion and reality, she would see a face that she’d surely thought lost forever.

Tentatively, Solonn rose and began to approach her. “…Morgan?”

At first, Morgan gave no clear indication that she had heard him, and Solonn feared that this attempt to reach her would be in vain after all. But then, she gave an unmistakable, albeit delayed reaction, a strange look crossing her face. Slowly, she lifted her gaze from the flower in her hand. Her green eyes met the glowing, blue ones before her and widened dramatically before filling with tears.

A smile of amazement spread across her face, and with a cry of joy, she jumped to her feet and rushed over toward Solonn. There was something strange in the way that she moved; she seemed almost to drift more than run, as if she were under less gravity. The moment she reached Solonn, she threw her arms around him as far as they would go, hugging him tightly. Solonn immediately made an effort to keep his coldness away from her, not knowing if it could affect her in this place or not.

Seconds passed before Morgan could find her voice as she stood there holding on to Solonn and crying in relief and happiness. “Oh my God…” she said finally. Her voice, like her movements, was peculiarly altered; she sounded faint, distant. “I thought I’d lost you forever!”

“I thought I’d never be with you again, either,” Solonn said quietly.

“I was so scared,” Morgan said almost breathlessly. “I didn’t know what might be happening to you… Are you all right? Did they hurt you?”

“Yes,” Solonn answered honestly, his tone sober as he recalled just how he had been hurt since leaving Lilycove. “But I’m fine now.”

“Oh, thank God,” Morgan whispered. “Thank God…”

She let go of Solonn then and stepped back from him. Her face was still streaked with tears, but she was smiling radiantly. Her gaze swept over the backyard, finding all of her pokémon gathered there with her. “We’re all together again,” she said happily, gratefully, and made a beckoning motion toward the others.

As they all drew in close to her in as much of a group hug as they could all manage, Solonn noticed the wind starting to pick up. He cast his gaze away from those around him and saw the scene surrounding him fade momentarily, very briefly losing color and definition.

Solonn had a terrible feeling about what the ebbing stability of the dreamscape might mean, and he shot a worried, questioning glance toward Oth. The claydol nodded insofar as it could, subtly and silently. Solonn looked away from Oth at once and turned back toward Morgan. He was very soon to part with her once more… but he found that he could not bring himself to say goodbye to her. He had never seen such pure elation on a person’s face before as he saw on hers at that moment, as she stood surrounded by some of her dearest friends. He couldn’t bear to shatter the joy of her reunion with him by telling her that it was not to last.

But there was, at least, something that he felt that he should tell her, something that he felt that she deserved to hear. “Morgan,” he spoke up. The human looked up into his eyes, still beaming brightly, her eyes still shining with tears of joy. “Thank you… for everything,” Solonn said sincerely. “For all the kindness you’ve shown me, all the caring… I never forgot it, and I never will.”
“Oh…” Morgan said, looking up at Solonn with wide eyes. She then embraced him very tightly once more. “You’re so sweet…” she whispered. “I should thank you, too,” she said earnestly, “all of you guys. You’re all such wonderful friends…”

She smiled again at those around her, and before their eyes, she began to literally fade away. “I love you all,” she told them, her voice growing fainter with each word. “I’ll always love you…”

The wind whipped up into a true gale then, pulling the sitrus blossoms from the tree. They alone seemed to keep their definition as the rest of the dreamscape faded into a blur. One final gust swept around Morgan’s vanishing form, and in a swirl of white petals, she was gone.

The room came back into focus as the dreamscape disappeared completely. Six living souls emerged from the illusion and beheld the reality that now surrounded them, the reality that now lay lifeless before them.

A stark, surreal quietness hovered as the full impact sank into them with a delay. Raze’s voice was the first to break the silence, a piercing cry of pure anguish. Her outpouring of grief brought likewise reactions from the others, and well into the night, they all remained gathered there in mourning around the friend who had just departed from their midst.

* * *

Last edited by Sike Saner; 04-11-2011 at 05:52 AM. Reason: Revisions.
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Old 10-15-2009, 03:03 AM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Eleven Now Posted]

The sun set over a cluster of pyres on the following evening in Lilycove. Solonn sat and watched them burning from a safe distance, his mind and heart very heavy with thoughts of the recent tragedy that was represented by those flames. Aaron, Raze, Brett, and Oth were all there with him, and hundreds of other pokémon were also gathered in mourning there in the streets.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a brief burst of golden light. “Hello, Sei,” Solonn said to its source in a hoarse, very weary voice.

“I delivered your message,” the alakazam told him, sounding equally drained.

“Thank you,” Solonn said with a sigh. He thought about how the people of Convergence might be reacting to the message that he had sent to them via Sei: that “Michael Layne” had perished along with all of the other humans in Lilycove. Solonn imagined that they would be saddened by the news but also that they would not be surprised by it. The stantler guarding Convergence had only been keeping it hidden from humans; the flying pokémon scouts who had searched in the west for aid had found the humans of the integrated community stricken with the same fate that had befallen those in Lilycove.

During the course of that day, more such scouts had returned with news that the same, terrible phenomenon had occurred in every human settlement that they had searched. The unnatural, fatal sleep seemed to have touched all of Hoenn—and according to the most recent reports, it had reached humans living in nearby regions, as well.

In the wake of these reports, rumors began to spread among the pokémon who had witnessed the phenomenon about its scope. Many of them began to believe that as widespread as the malady had already proven to be, it might very well prove to be a tragedy of global proportions.

Solonn was among those who found themselves possessed of such suspicions, and it was thus that he had decided not to attempt to go back and try to resume his position as the leader of Convergence. If humanity was truly vanishing from the world, then it was no longer necessary for the leader of that or of any other community to be able to speak to them. With such abilities no longer a requirement of the position, anyone with the mind and the spirit to lead the people of Convergence could do so. Solonn reckoned that in such troubled times as these were, they needed the guidance of one of their own number, not that of some unknown glalie who would have just seemed to come into their midst from out of nowhere.

In considering where and how he would carry on from here, Solonn knew that there was still a place in his heart for Convergence and that he might like to return there someday, but as just an ordinary citizen. He also felt a sense of belonging here in Lilycove and knew that he also liked the idea of coming to stay here with his friends. At the present, however, there was one place in particular where he knew that he most wanted to be.

“Just let me know when you’re ready,” Sei told him then. “I’ll take you as soon as you wish.”

“I’m ready,” Solonn said quietly. It had been nearly half a decade since he had last seen his homeland, his people, his family… He had thought about Morgan’s promise to return him to Virc-Dho once his contest career was over. Even though it had not truly been Morgan herself who had released him from her custody, Solonn knew that the real Morgan would also have ultimately let him go. He felt that she would want him to return to his home now that he could no longer serve the purpose for which he had agreed to stay.

<Please, Sei, let me transport him,> Oth offered. <You have done a great deal for these people during the past two days. You deserve a chance to rest.>

“Very well,” Sei said, then took a seat next to Aaron.

Solonn rose from the ground as Oth came to hover beside him, and then he turned to face the rest of his friends. “Maybe we’ll meet again someday. I hope we will… until then, goodbye,” he said, and a chorus of farewells echoed his own.

He gave one last, very faint smile to his friends, then turned toward the pyres in the distance. “Goodbye,” he whispered to one last friend as he gazed into the flames, holding her in his thoughts as golden light surrounded him. Your promise was kept, my friend…

_________________________

Next time: After nearly half a decade, Solonn is returning to Virc-Dho at last. See you then!

- Sike Saner
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-=CHAPTER 17 POSTED=-
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The Origin of Storms
-=COMPLETE=-

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Old 10-15-2009, 11:52 PM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Twelve Now Posted]

How sad! DX Poor Morgan...I wonder what the disease was? I hope they find out soon.

Nice job describing Solonn's transformation back into a pokemon. Now we know why Jal'tei did that...He saved Solonn's life. I can't wait for the next chapter! *Goes off to cry about Morgan*
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Old 11-01-2009, 09:42 PM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Twelve Now Posted]

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grassy_Aggron View Post
How sad! DX Poor Morgan...I wonder what the disease was? I hope they find out soon.
What was this disease, indeed...

And I'm glad to "hear" that the chapter succeeded in having an emotional impact on you. ^^

Quote:
Nice job describing Solonn's transformation back into a pokemon.
Thanks. ^^ I really enjoyed writing that scene--transformation scenes are one of my favorite things to write--and I was definitely interested in doing it justice.
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The Origin of Storms
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Old 11-13-2009, 07:15 PM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Twelve Now Posted]

Chapter 13 – The Serpent Denied


Light briefly filled the border cavern just outside Virc-Dho as Solonn and Oth materialized there. For both of them, this part of Shoal Cave was familiar territory. It was where Oth had been employed by Morgan to teleport her back home after she had acquired her new snorunt, and it was the place where Solonn had first encountered beings of another species and where other foreign creatures had later found him and taken him away.

It had been nearly half a decade since Solonn had last laid eyes upon this place. During those years, he at first would have never thought that he would be kept from this place for so long, and then later would never have imagined he’d be back here again so soon, if ever at all. He’d never quite known what to expect to feel when the day came that would finally bring him back home. That moment had now arrived, and he still didn’t know what to make of it.

Solonn turned slightly to regard the claydol at his side. “Thank you again for bringing me here,” he said earnestly to it.

<It was the least I could do,> Oth said. <I know that this is something you have long desired… and I truly believe that this is what she would have wanted, as well,> the claydol added, its true voice faltering as it rattled softly alongside those last words.

Solonn nodded silently in agreement. He, too, felt that Morgan would be glad to know that he had ultimately made it back to where he belonged, just as she had intended for him. “Farewell, Oth. Take care of yourself.”

<As must you. Farewell,> Oth said, then teleported away.

Solonn turned from the spot where Oth had been, his gaze sweeping the cavern as he sought the ice barrier that marked the entrance to Virc-Dho itself. He located it shortly and drifted over to it at once. Once there, he looked up over the expanse of the wall, which spread out to nearly twice his width and upward to nearly thrice his height.

Though sizable, the barrier did look smaller and less imposing than it had the last time he’d seen it, back when he was still a snorunt. This was not only because he was much larger than he had been back then but also because he now possessed power over it that he had not before. Now that he was a glalie, he could simply vaporize the ice wall and pass through the entrance that it blocked.

Solonn made to do just that, summoning his elemental power to the task. The barrier submitted at once to his desire to gain entry, dissolving in a wave from the ceiling to the floor. Solonn crossed the threshold and proceeded forward into the entrance tunnel for several yards before realizing that he’d forgotten to close the barrier behind him.

Were he not so drained in spirits after the events of the past couple of days, he might have at least cursed himself silently for his absentmindedness, but as it was, he went ahead and forgave himself. He looked back toward the mouth of the tunnel, restored the ice wall, then turned back away from it and began making his way deeper into the warren.

Though back in his native land, Solonn still had to find his actual home within it once more. Quite swiftly, he realized that this wouldn’t be too easily done due to the fact that he had only traveled the route that led from the surface exit to the cavern in which he had lived once, and that had been over a decade ago.

He had only a faint, sketchy impression of that memory by which to navigate, and that was rendered even more inadequate by the fact that things had plainly changed around here since he’d been gone. As he made his way through the tunnels, he occasionally passed relatively fresh-looking holes in the walls; they appeared to be offshoots of the tunnel that were still under construction. With these new landmarks, the picture that Solonn now received of this place no longer matched the one that he held in his memory.

Before long, Solonn acknowledged that he had no sure idea of where he currently was in the warren or where he was to go from there and resigned himself to the need to ask for directions. The situation seemed less than obliging where that endeavor was concerned, however; he searched throughout the tunnels for a considerable while without running into anyone at all from whom to seek guidance.

Undeterred, he kept searching, until finally he picked up sounds that suggested people out and about. The source of those sounds wasn’t particularly close, but he could identify the direction from whence it was coming. Now, at least, he had a decent sense of which way to go.

Solonn set off toward the noise, which grew louder and more defined as he drew closer. There were definitely people somewhere ahead; those were unmistakably voices, and in considerable numbers. At length, he arrived at the source of the chatter. Through another wall of ice, he could just make out a crowd of shapes moving about.

He removed this barrier as he had done to the one before it, remembering to close this one behind him as soon as he’d passed beyond it. Solonn now found himself in a large chamber, one that was easily the size of the cavern just outside the warren. Glalie were gathered here, dozens of them, appearing to be doing little else other than just milling about and chatting with one another. Solonn had just found his way into a gossip-hall, though he did not realize this; the social habits of the glalie were kept from their unevolved counterparts, and Solonn had not evolved until after he’d been taken from Virc-Dho.

Solonn was aware of many pairs of eyes shifting his way and locking onto him as he entered the midst of the people gathered there; whether their stares were due to his being considerably larger than any of them or simply due to the fact that his was an unfamiliar face (or very possibly for both of those reasons), he could not tell, nor did he particularly care. He also couldn’t tell whether those among them who now watched him were doing so out of mere curiosity or out of fear. Solonn hoped that it wasn’t the latter. He really wasn’t in the mood to have to chase one of them into a corner just to get directions.

He approached a small clique and brought himself to a stationary hover before them. The pupils of the three whom he now faced drifted upward to meet his own, and they all held his gaze expectantly and warily.

“Yes?” the centermost of the three spoke up.

“Sorry to bother you ladies,” Solonn said, making a conscious effort to sound as polite and non-threatening as possible. “I need your assistance in finding someone—do any of you know where I might find a Ms. Azvida Zgil-Al?”

He had hoped, of course, that one of them would respond in the affirmative, but he had also been prepared for the possibility of having no such luck with these three and thus having to move on. He had not been prepared for the response that he did receive from them: stares that went from warily questioning to unmistakably hostile. One of the three even hissed at him.

“Up to her horntips in hellfire, as far as I care,” the glalie in the center replied acidly, her eyes narrowed in a glare that she held upon Solonn for a brief moment more before she turned abruptly and began to move away from him, with her two companions following closely behind her.

Solonn was initially too taken aback by the hostility of the reaction to his question to know quite what to make of it, then found himself battling an urge to cut the three off and demand that they apologize for insulting his mother like that—and perhaps not using his polite and non-threatening tone this time. He managed with an effort to contain his outrage, certain that doing or saying anything that could potentially scare the locals would only make it harder to get any information from them.

He expected that he would have to ask the same question of others until he learned what he needed to know, but he wasn’t looking forward to giving it another try, not if the mention of Azvida’s name would garner the same response from everyone else here. Solonn wondered what his mother could have possibly done to get herself spoken of the way that she had just been, but he knew better than to ask. He was sure that he couldn’t trust that story coming from the mouths of people who disliked her, that the facts could too easily be distorted by their bias. He reckoned that he would simply have to wait to get that answer from Azvida herself sometime unless she made it clear that she didn’t want to talk about it.

Bracing himself for the possibility of more unfriendly responses, Solonn asked others among the crowd for Azvida’s whereabouts. Only one of those whom he asked responded with anywhere near the venom of the first glalie he’d asked, but they all still plainly displayed some degree of dislike or at least unease at the mention of his mother’s name. Those who gave any answer at all said that they had no clue where to find her, though whether they were honest in that claim or simply didn’t wish to be of any help where she or anyone who was associated with her was concerned, Solonn could not be certain.

Meanwhile, he also kept an eye out as he moved throughout the chamber just in case Azvida was actually there in person. He didn’t spot her, though, and wasn’t surprised that he didn’t; it did seem unlikely to him that she would want to be in a place that would probably not welcome her.

Eventually, Solonn grew weary of asking and searching in vain despite how earnestly he still wished to reunite with his family. It seemed that no one here would be of any help, and he figured that he might be better off just looking for Azvida throughout the warren on his own. True, he might find himself lost more than a few times before having any success, but he was beginning to find that option preferable to staying here with the stares, the unsociable silence, and the dark things that he was sure were being whispered at that very moment regarding someone about whom he cared very much.

“Hey. I overheard you asking about an Azvida Zgil-Al,” a voice sounded from behind him, a male voice whose tone was difficult to read.

Solonn hesitated a moment before turning to face its source, half out of a desire not to startle this person in case he turned out to be friendly, half out of reluctance to possibly have to deal with another person who was not. There, he found a glalie hovering alone, looking up right into his eyes—just looking, not staring; the light of the newcomer’s eyes was soft, not seeming to burn into Solonn as that of many of the other eyes that he’d found upon him in this place had. There was, however, a peculiar look on this glalie’s face, one that Solonn found as hard to interpret as the newcomer’s tone had been.

“Yes, I was,” Solonn confirmed, speaking somewhat slowly, cautiously. “Do you know where I might find her?”

The glalie before Solonn only gave a quick, minimal nod in response, as if feeling the need to be inconspicuous about it. “Follow me,” he said in an undertone, then turned away, making for the exit at once.

It seemed to Solonn like a curiously sudden resolution of what had been a long and draining search for answers among these people, but he was presently disinclined to be picky. Help was help, he figured, and so he followed his newfound guide out of the gossip-hall without question or delay.

“All right, just keep following me and you’ll reach your destination just fine,” the guide said once he and Solonn were well away from the gossip-hall. “Now, I will warn you: it’s not exactly a short trip from here.”

“That’s fine,” Solonn said. “Better than staying back there, at least.”

“Ugh, I second that,” the guide said. “Hledas drags me there almost every day, but I usually manage to give her the slip pretty fast.” He chuckled to himself. “She’ll give me a good minute of hell for it back home, but I’d take that over listening to the idiotic chatter in that place any day.”

“Hm. What I heard in there was worse than just ‘idiotic’,” Solonn said.

“Yeah… Gods, you’d think people would let it go already; it’s been months now, for the gods’ sakes.” The guide sighed. “I hate seeing her treated like that. She’s a nice lady; always was.”

Solonn nodded in agreement. It was a relief to him to finally encounter someone here who regarded his mother the same way that he remembered her. “So, how do you know her?” he then asked.

“Old friend of the family,” the guide replied, by which he was indicating himself. “I’ve known her since I was a kid.”

He stopped and turned to face Solonn then, his eyes holding a peculiar, dancing light that suggested barely-contained excitement. “Now, how do you know her?” he asked, his voice reflecting that same strange, sudden brightness.

“Relation,” Solonn answered. “She’s my mother.”

The light in the guide’s eyes surged into full intensity at that response, and he burst into roaring laughter. “Ha!” he cried triumphantly. “Knew it, knew it, knew it!”

Solonn held a rather bewildered stare upon the guide, who was in the throes of a rather insane-sounding fit of joyous laughter. When that finally abated, the guide met Solonn’s gaze once more, relatively calm and quiet now but still wearing a massive grin.

“Yeah, I figured it was you,” he said once he’d caught his breath. “Always were a big guy, weren’t you?”

Flags rose within Solonn’s mind, and he found himself possessed of strong suspicions regarding the person with whom he was talking. “…I know you, don’t I?”

The guide grinned even more broadly. “Don’t believe I’ve bothered to introduce myself, Mr. Zgil-Al. Name’s Zilag Shal-Zirath,” he said, inclining his face until it was almost parallel to the floor in an exaggerated bow.

“Ah, of course, of course.” Solonn could not help but smile, even if only faintly. “Apologies for not recognizing you sooner…”

“Psssh, it’s fine,” Zilag said dismissively. “Neither of us is what we used to be, after all. I wouldn’t have expected you to recognize me just because I recognized you; I just happened to find someone your size asking around for Azvida and put the pieces together. Anyway, she is going to be absolutely ecstatic to see you,” he said, then resumed leading Solonn through the tunnels. “She thought you were lost forever—we all did.”

“Does she have any idea at all what happened to me?” Solonn asked. He thoroughly doubted that Azvida or anyone else here could possibly know of all that he had experienced in his time away from Virc-Dho, but he wondered if they did at least recognize that he had been abducted, that he had been taken into the custody of foreign beings. He wondered if they had assumed that he’d been alive all this time and had been wondering how he was doing or if they had eventually just presumed him to be dead.

“Oh yeah,” Zilag said. “She knows because I told her. Soon as I got away from my sister and her gang, I went and told her what they’d done to you. Azvida saw it necessary to bring in the authorities on the matter, but I tried not to get too worried. I was still sure that we’d find you right where Sanaika had left you—that is, until they found that you weren’t there…”

He gave a sudden shake, as if to snap out of a funk. “Whatever,” Zilag said brightly. “You’re here now, right? Looks like there’s a happy ending to all this after all.”

“Hm,” was all Solonn could say to that, in a tone that just managed to convey agreement. Zilag was right, really, he thought—after all that Solonn had gone through in the years that had separated him from this place, things were finally going as he had long hoped that they one day would. He found the fact that his family would now be made whole once again to be an undeniable light among the recent sorrows.

Last edited by Sike Saner; 10-10-2011 at 09:38 PM. Reason: Revisions.
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Old 11-13-2009, 07:17 PM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Twelve Now Posted]

As Solonn continued to follow Zilag, he noticed that their path had simplified dramatically. The tunnel sloped gently downward in an almost perfectly straight line at this point; there were no more offshoots branching away along its walls. The ice lining it was duller, its surface more uneven, suggesting that this part of the warren was not as well maintained.

Its neglected feel gave Solonn the impression that this route was not often traveled—perhaps, he could not help but consider, because people were inclined to avoid it. He wondered if Azvida might have encountered so much hostility from the public that she had felt it necessary to take refuge in this place—or if, worse still, she might have been forced to go to this place. Perhaps this was a place to which those who were rejected by the community were sent, a shunned place for shunned people.

He felt something seem to boil in him at the thought of his family being cast out like that. He still didn’t know what in the world could have turned so many people against his mother; he couldn’t imagine anything that she could have possibly done that would deserve that kind of treatment.

He had known better than to ask the people at the gossip-hall about it, but he reckoned that he could trust Zilag to give him a bias-free answer regarding how Azvida had come to be so unpopular. “Just what was it that happened months ago?” he asked. “What could my mother have possibly done?”

“Well, she didn’t actually do anything,” Zilag answered. “What happened was that this… this creature came asking around here for her—something that scared the hell out of the public. Since this thing was here looking specifically for her, everyone blames her for bringing it here.”

“That hardly seems fair,” Solonn said, frowning in disapproval. “Did she even actually ask for this ‘creature’ to come here?”

“Don’t know. She doesn’t really like to talk about that whole situation, so…” Zilag trailed off. Solonn made a wordless noise of understanding; he had suspected that Azvida was not inclined to discuss that topic. “At any rate, I doubt anyone really cares whether she actually summoned it here or not,” Zilag went on. “I think the thing freaked them out beyond all logic and reason.”

“And just what sort of creature was this, anyway?”

“Again, don’t know; I didn’t actually see it myself. All I know is what I’ve heard, and what I’ve heard is that it was big—as in, huge—and bright silver. A couple of them who claimed they got really close to it said they could see their reflections in its hide. I don’t know how much of what’s said about it is fact and how much is just exaggeration, though.”

Solonn couldn’t say how accurate or trustworthy the accounts of the mysterious creature were, either, but he went ahead and used the descriptions that he’d been given through Zilag to see if he could identify the being that had shaken up the community. Searching through his memories of the many species that he had encountered while living and working in Convergence and of those he had learned of during the course of his education there, he tried to guess what the creature could have been. He could think of only a couple of species among those of which he knew that could be potential matches. His memories of them weren’t perfect, but he recalled enough to recognize that any of those creatures would certainly have caused a stir among the people here.

“So whatever became of the creature?” Solonn asked.

“As far as anyone knows, it just left. Whether or not it ever did find Azvida is anyone’s guess.”

“If it left, then there’s really no good reason for everyone to keep holding it against her,” Solonn said with a considerable amount of disgust in his tone.

“I know,” Zilag said with a sigh. “But, like I said, they seem to be beyond logic and reason where all that’s concerned.”

Solonn said nothing more from this point, his mind too weighted with thoughts of what had befallen Azvida. At length, the long, monotonous path that he and Zilag traveled split off into numerous directions. Zilag led Solonn into a rightward branch and then to a dead end shortly thereafter.

“We’re here,” Zilag announced. That they were anywhere other than at a wall was questionable; the ice that stood before them was very thick and clouded with pale sediment, offering only a hazy view of nondescript darkness beyond. “Of course, we have to let them know we’re here if we want them to let us in… Hey!” he shouted at the top of his lungs, making Solonn wince.

Several seconds passed with no indication that anyone had even heard Zilag’s call, let alone that anyone was doing anything about it in response. “Maybe no one’s there right now,” Solonn said.

“No, they’re there,” Zilag assured him. “They don’t go out very much anymore, as you can imagine.”

Something in what Zilag had just said caught in Solonn’s mind; only now did it seem to register despite it not being the first time that Zilag had used that word. “…Did you say ‘they’?” Solonn asked; Zilag responded to this with a nod. “Who else is there with her?”

“Just her mate,” Zilag answered. Solonn abruptly turned to face Zilag, his eyes wide with surprise, but before he could say or ask anything about what he had just learned, “Ah, see? They’re letting us in,” Zilag said, and he directed Solonn’s attention toward the wall before them with the dip of a horn.

Slowly, the thick ice obstructing their way peeled away in layers, vanishing into vapor a few inches at a time. The two made their way forward a little bit at a time as the receding barrier gradually allowed until finally the last of it disappeared into the walls and revealed the open space beyond.

From what Solonn could see of it, the chamber at which they had arrived was quite spacious and orderly—it actually looked rather nice, he thought, not at all like the miserable hovel that the condition of the path leading to this residence had led him to expect. First and foremost in his vision and attention, however, was the unfamiliar male hovering right inside the entrance—Azvida’s mate, Solonn presumed.

“Hello again, Zilag… and who’s this?” the man asked as his gaze shifted from Zilag to Solonn and lingered there, raising a single, ice-glazed eyebrow.

“Go get Azvida,” Zilag said, grinning.

The glalie just past the entrance held an odd look upon Zilag for a moment, then turned around and set off into the chamber, disappearing into one of its diverging tunnels. Conversation in hushed voices was briefly audible from deeper within the residence, and then the unfamiliar glalie returned, accompanied now by someone who was very familiar.

Her eyes found Solonn at once and fixed their gaze there upon him; within their sharp, flickering light, Solonn could plainly see something at work behind them. Maybe she, like Zilag before her, had already guessed his identity, but perhaps she didn’t quite dare to believe it. There seemed to be something else in that stare, too, Solonn noted, but he couldn’t even begin to interpret it.

“He’s back,” Zilag told her, his voice quavering slightly with excitement.

Azvida’s eyes widened dramatically, and their light flared brightly. Her mouth opened, working mutely for a moment before she found her words. “Are you really…?” she finally managed almost breathlessly, trailing off as she continued to stare at Solonn.

Solonn found himself having to find his voice as well before he could respond. “Yes, Mother,” he confirmed softly.

“Oh…” Azvida’s voice cracked and trembled, her eyes giving a quivering, powerful glow. “Oh merciful gods, it’s a miracle!” she cried, then surged forward, her head lowered against Solonn’s side, shaking in dry, silent sobs.

“Well, I think I’d better be on my way,” Zilag said then, smiling at the reunited mother and son. “Hledas is probably going crazier by the moment wondering where I’ve gone to, and if I don’t get back to her before much longer, I won’t want to.” He punctuated that statement with a laugh, albeit a nervous one that told that he might not exactly have been exaggerating. “Take care, folks,” he said, then departed.

Azvida remained close to Solonn for a few moments more, giving a string of grateful murmurs unto the gods for his return. She looked up at him before she had quite calmed, her eyes shining with joy as she beamed brightly. “Welcome back, son,” she said warmly. She turned toward the main chamber. “Come on in, sit down and relax,” she said with a backwards glance. “You’ve most certainly earned it.”

Solonn followed Azvida away from the entrance and sat down with her in the main chamber. He noticed that the third among their number had not come to join them there, and glancing back from whence he’d come, Solonn found him still lingering by the entrance, restoring the thick wall that had been there in its entirety before joining the others.

“Here,” Azvida said, and caused a decent-sized chunk of ice to form in front of herself and the other two glalie. Each of them could have just as easily generated their own ice, of course, but it seemed that Azvida was in a rather generous mood at the moment. Solonn felt that he could certainly use some refreshments, and he thanked Azvida for providing the ice before he set about partaking of it, as did Azvida’s mate.

“I suppose you’re wondering who he is, aren’t you?” Azvida spoke up then, indicating her right, where her mate sat giving the occasional, mildly interested nibble of his ice. “This is Jeneth Avasi-Ra. We’ve been together for almost two years now.”

“Ah. Nice to meet you, Mr. Avasi-Ra,” Solonn said, inclining his head respectfully.

“Likewise,” Jeneth said. “Jeneth will do, by the way,” he added amiably. His full attention was now on Solonn; the ice before him lay forgotten for the time being. With a rather appraising look leveled at him, Jeneth said, “I never thought I’d actually meet you in person, you know? I’d always wished that I could—Azvida’s told me all about you.”

“…Thanks,” Solonn responded, doing an admirable job of concealing a sudden unease. The thought that Azvida might have truly told Jeneth all about him wasn’t one that he found particularly comforting.

“I’m sure the two of you will get along very nicely. I’m just beyond grateful that you’ll get the chance to know each other—just grateful beyond words that you’re home again,” Azvida said, and the glow in her eyes began trembling again. “I never stopped wishing that I’d see you again, but after finding out that it was the creatures from above who had you… Gods, I’d never worried so much in my life. I had nightmares about what might be happening to you out there—horrible, horrible things—and I couldn’t help but fear that I’d lost you for good.”

She sighed in what was a very long-due relief. “But the nightmare is over. You’re back where you belong now, thank the gods.”

“Seems everything comes back around in time, doesn’t it?” Jeneth said then, sending an odd, significant glance Azvida’s way. Azvida was dumbstruck at first, then shot him an alarmed, piercing look that plainly told that he’d crossed some line.

She took a deep breath and turned back toward Solonn, the sudden shock fading from her face as she did so. However, Solonn noticed that there was still something distinctly amiss behind her eyes; though she was clearly trying to conceal it, she could not help but look a bit troubled.

“I shudder to think what you might have endured out there,” Azvida said then, leaving the matter of the peculiar exchange that she’d just had with Jeneth behind without any explanation. “So, how did you finally manage to get back here?”

Solonn had thoroughly expected that Azvida would want to know about that, as well as about what had happened to him during his absence. He was somewhat reluctant to share all the details of his experience away from Virc-Dho, however—some of them were things that he didn’t really expect anyone to digest, after all, and some of them were of the nature that he would prefer not to speak or think of them ever again if he could help it.

He decided that he’d just give a minimal account for now and perhaps elaborate more on the story another time—perhaps. “One of the pokémon I met out there was able to bring me back. It would have been able to do so sooner, but I was dragged away from it and thrown into… someone else’s affairs. Eventually, I got away from all that and back to that pokémon, and… well, here I am.” Some part of his mind silently congratulated him for coming up with that succinct, euphemistic response.

Azvida nodded slowly, absorbing that. “You’re very lucky, Solonn,” she said. “It’s a good thing that there was someone around who could help you out—most of those who are taken by the creatures from above aren’t so fortunate. Gods, imagine if you’d shared their fate… some of the things that those creatures put people through are just horrible…”

Part of Solonn’s mind began to wonder at once how Azvida knew that, but he had another response to her words that was stronger and more immediate. “Not all of them were so terrible,” he said. “The one who took me was actually very nice, very reasonable.”

He paused and inhaled deeply before continuing; he’d known that talking about Morgan would be difficult, but he insisted on defending her character. “She was even willing to let me go once she realized that I wanted to, but I was stolen from her before she could. Stolen by pokémon,” he felt it necessary to emphasize. “I know she always wanted me to be happy, and I know she would have helped me return here… she just never got the chance…” His throat constricted painfully, and he could say no more.

Azvida held a saddened expression in silence for a moment, seeming to recognize the weight of that subject upon her son. “As I said,” she finally responded, “you were very fortunate.”

From that point forward, Azvida didn’t ask anything more of Solonn regarding his abduction, keeping the conversation geared toward things that had happened in Virc-Dho while he had been away. Among other things, she told him of how Sanaika and his gang had escaped punishment for what they had done to Solonn by fleeing up into Shoal Cave somewhere, never to be seen again. She also told of how she had met Jeneth and of how Zilag had been set up with Hledas by his parents, who had wanted to assure that “at least one of our children didn’t end up with a damned fool,” in Ms. Shal-Zirath’s own words.

Curiously, the discussion remained solely between Azvida and Solonn; Jeneth said nothing more in the wake of the comment that he apparently should not have made. He merely sat silently with something clearly working behind his eyes, something that he wanted to say but held back.

(CONTINUED NEXT PAGE)

Last edited by Sike Saner; 10-10-2011 at 09:39 PM. Reason: Revisions.
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