"Aprender a volar significa amar el viento. żNo es ése tu juego?”
from Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (Castilian Spanish ver.)
- “Learning how to fly means loving the wind. Isn’t that your game?”
The Northern Wind's Game
Sandry’s death was painless and mourned by many.
In a way, she welcomed death with outstretched paws. With so many battles under her belt, with so much traveling over the years, Sandry’ body had grown tired. The lavender pelt she always kept so immaculately clean had grown rough and dark. The ruby gem on her forehead had dimmed as the Pokémon’s psychic powers became weaker. She was still an adult, but Irvin’s ten years of training had not been good to her. Maybe, if she had been one of his Pokémon on reserved rather than the lead for every important battle, Sandry could have lived another decade.
At the though, she mentally snorted. Though Sandry couldn’t see her forked tail, she felt its warmth as she wrapped it around her lithe body in smugness. No, Sandry would never give up Irvin’s love, attention, and friendship for a few more years of life. She knew the rest of his Pokémon had some inkling of envy for her. Sandry had been Irvin’s best friend and best battler. Even as she passed away in her sleep by the hands of a slow infection that had long ago numbed the body, he was at her bedside. She never saw those last moments of love, yet she felt his hands around her. Irvin had stroked her large, pointed ears, then the tufts of fur around her face. With his gentle caress, her soul calmly left the Pokémon World.
As soon as that thought escaped her, Sandry felt a weight come over her weightless soul. Suddenly, paws touched solid ground. Still reeling from the realm of unconsciousness she had been for Arceus knows how long, Sandry automatically began walking around. Her sensitive ears flattened against her skull at the scrape of her claws against the marble tile beneath her. The chamber was so enormous that the sound was harsh enough for Sandry to grit her teeth. Even that discomfort wasn’t enough, however, for the weight over her to disappear. Looking at her paws, her tail, she was indeed solid.
“What is this?” the deceased beast asked herself. Sandry tilted her head; her voice had a echo to it, making her sound hollow and distant.
“This is the Hall of Origin, Espeon.” The lilted voice was high above her head, wise but with a hidden grin Sandry found playful.
Between the pillars of a brilliant white that reached towards the domed ceiling, the Espeon saw the Legendary Pokémon Mew. Sandry immediately bowed her head and lowered her ears in a sign of great respect. Mew warmly smiled as he floated before her, short pink fur nearly glistening with his power.
“No need for that, Espeon,” the feline told her, coming to eye level once she raised her head. “We are merely Pokémon in a conversation.”
“If so,” Sandry remarked with the same smile the deity held, “please call me Sandry.”
Mew chuckled warmly and nodded. “If you wish, Sandry. Now, I assume you know that you just passed away?”
Sandry nodded, her smile now faltering for a moment. Despite what she had told herself of living a full life full of love and glory, her heart that no longer beat ached. Mew saw how her tail curled around her frame, as though to comfort. He put a paw to her head, his own long tail winding around her shoulders.
“Yes, it hurts, but you will not hurt for long. Soon, you will join those outside this Hall, in Heaven.”
The Espeon started. Her silver eyes — for every soul sported those tell-tale irises — widened in pure wonder. “I’m in Heaven?”
Mew’s small, triangular ears twitched hesitantly. “Yes, but I’m afraid you are not yet ready to join your fellow deceased. You see,” he continued, hoping to ease the fearful sheen in her eyes, “There is a complication with your case. Your soul is pure and gentle, so there is no doubt in my mind that you deserving of a place in Heaven. However, you have hurt many on your journey with your trainer, both in body and mind.”
Sandry averted her eyes from Mew’s cerulean gaze. She caught sight of her paws and the claws that had helped Irvin capture, hurt, and sometimes kill for the team he served: Team Rocket. She was no fool; Sandry fully understood that the things she was ordered to do were not right. For a time, as a naďve Eevee, she resisted
against his wishes. Then the happiness she got from him whenever she fulfilled an order grew to be too much for her moral compass to handle. Irvin wasn’t bad. His life had just gotten so rough that the Rockets were the only option. Just as he was good, Sandry had been loyal.
“Please, Mew,” she started. Sandry raised her chin up high, ready to meet the great Pokémon in the eye. There was no need to be ashamed or fearful. “You must understand. I knew of my consequences, for both others and myself. But the first and foremost duty of mine was to be loyal, obedient, and protective of my master. I could not abandon that duty, even if I wanted.”
Those intense blue eyes softened a smidge. “Loyalty brings about many things, as I have seen through the centuries. Region wars, civil wars, it has all happened. The blame is not solely placed on you, I assure you. Like I stated before, your soul is pure. Proving you can take your place in Heaven should not be hard.”
Sandry sensed that Mew was still hesitant about something. The way his eyes lost some of their childish but wise twinkle unnerved the normally collected Espeon. Still, she sat up straight and asked, “What am I supposed to do?”
The New Species Pokémon shook away his uncertainty. Before him sat a very bright and determined soul. “You must earn the wings that must take you to Heaven. The Pokémon you must earn them from will test you on your kindness, bravery, and morals. He is not to be taken lightly; only he will be able to decide your fate. Do as he says, and you shall be fine, Sandry.”
“Thank you, Mew,” the fox thanked with a nod.
The god held a small smile. “Do not thank me until I see you within the clouds of Heaven.”
As Sandry smiled, her world blurred into a wash of colors. The pristine white of the walls, pillars, and floor collided then magically formed hues of green and rich brown. Mew’s pink completely vanished with one last wave of his small paw. By the time Sandry had enough sense to flick her tail in a farewell, marble tile had been replaced by waist-length grass. To her surprise, she felt the plants tickle her sides. While she had only been dead for ten minutes, didn’t being a soul without a body allow one to pass through everything? If so, why did she feel alive?
No, she wasn’t alive. Sandry still felt a dead weight in her chest where her beating heart was supposed to be. On top of that, there was this perpetual coldness that clung to her like a sheet. While it wasn’t uncomfortable, it made the hairs along her spine and tail stand on end.
“Where am I…?” she questioned, trying to see through the waves of lush grass. When that proved futile, Sandry leaped onto a small boulder to view her surroundings better. Among a rolling sea of grass sprouted tall, thin trees with shivering canopies. The horizon, bordered by a pristine, blue sky, showed no civilization. “Where did Mew send me?”
“To my domain, of course.”
Sandry whirled around. Lazily resting on the boulder the Espeon was sure was empty when her eyes passed over it was the embodiment of the northern wind. The majestic dog inclined his head to gaze into Sandry’s questioning eyes, his purple mane billowing with the two white tassels that served as his tails. The superior smirk on his snout seemed as gaudy and faux as his trapezoid headpiece.
“You’re Suicune,” Sandry said on a breath. Her feelings of awe and immediate dislike began conflicting with each other.
“That I am,” the Legendary Beast acknowledged. Suicune stood up stretched like a lounging cat and continued to look over her with those condescending garnet eyes of his. Sandry kept herself from growling and showing her teeth. She had a heavy feeling in the pit of her stomach that this deity was the one she was supposed to meet.
Still, she had to ask. “Are you the one Mew meant? The one I’m supposed to see about earning my wings?”
“Yes, I’m the one you’re supposed to appeal to,” Suicine told her. He looked over her. “And you’re the Espeon Mew sent word of.”
“Yes.” The answer was short and curt. The faster they got introductions out of the way, the faster Sandry could escape that never-wavering grin. It was not unlike that of Irwin’s Rocket superiors whenever her master had to appeal to them for journeying permissions and favors.
Suicune kept on analyzing her. “You seem like a very gentle soul, so why do you need my help to get to Heaven?”
The soul scowled. “Is that really any of your business?”
The Legendary Pokémon frowned, his tail tassels whipping behind like irritatingly. Maybe gentle hadn't been exactly right. “Yes, it is my business. I may be the incarnation of the northern wind and guardian of the seven points of existence, but I am also the one who helps souls in limbo gain passage to Heaven.”
For a moment, Sandry forgot her vexation to twitch an ear in confusion. “Seven points? There’s only four Cardinal Points.”
Suicune smiled again now that he saw a chance to prove just how knowledgeable he was. Immediately Sandry regretted the question. “You’re right; there’s North, South, East, and West. On top of that, however, you have Heaven, Purgatory, and Earth. I can pass through them as easily as wind itself, which is why I am the only one that can grant you access to internal paradise.”
Sandry huffed at his matter-of-fact tone. “What do I have to do?”
“Uh-uh,” Suicine reprimanded with a shake of his head. “You must answer my
question first: what have you done that made Mew uncertain?”
“I was a Rocket Pokémon, which resulted in many things I am not proud of.” Sandry gave him a narrowing of her eyes. “For such a renown god like yourself, I’m sure you can fill in the blanks.”
The dog inclined his head, hiding the glimmer of hurt in his stare. It was time to cut to the chase, before she reduced him into a smoldering pile of ashes with those eyes of hers. “You’re not the first one of your kind I have met, and you won’t be the last. Let’s get started with your ordeal.”
Suicune flashed her a toothy grin. Sandry was about to respond with her own scowl when a gust swept across the field. The soul blinked then felt something touch her shoulder. Sandry whirled around to find Suicune’s tail tassels twining around her frame. His snout tickled the tuft of fur on her cheek. The cape of gusts that always surrounded the deity went through her while still managing to make her shake. With his paws as silent as the element he easily wield, Suicune closed in on her until his hot breath made Sandry shake anew.
“Hold on tight,” he whispered. “We’re going to travel.”
“What in th-?”
In a whirlwind of colors that assaulted her senses and almost made Sandry lose her balance, Suicune encased them in a funnel of wind. Throughout the hair-rising journey through the sky, Suicune’s body pressed close to hers. If she was in the right mind, Sandry would have tried to move away, despite the fact that the wind buffeted her towards his body. However, because her mind was somewhat euphoric with this sensation, the soul actually found his warmth against her body comforting; the chill Sandry was encased in since she died was alleviated.
When their paws touched ground, Sandry held back a sad sigh and instead gave a small bound to give her some space. Suicune scoffed at his charge’s displeased face when Sandry saw where he had taken them. Patting over to her, he remarked, “It may not be the grand towns you have visited in life, but this is where your ordeal is going to take place.”
Sandry took a good look at the village that was in shambles, and immediately wondered what they were doing here. Those wooden shacks could have been blown over by Suicune’s sigh. The cracked and yellow ground was as brittle as the crops she saw to the east. The Espeon turned to glance at the Northern Wind again. For the first since she had met him, emotion overfilled his red eyes. Sorrow, compassion, and something else Sandry was afraid to identify as uncertainty glimmered. As though the world was weighing him down, he sighed and continued to look at he village from the hill they appeared on.
“As the incarnate of the northern wind,” he started with a far-off tone, “I am the deity that watches over crops. I am the being that brings in the rain clouds. I am in the being that spreads the seeds to the lands. There are times when, however, all my efforts are not enough to save some villages. The world is simply too vast for one Suicune to traverse and gather what is needed.”
“And this is one of the aforementioned villages, isn’t it?” Sandry finished. Her glance caught a child exiting one of the wooden shacks and promptly looked away when he noticed he was as thin as a rail. Though he wasn’t bloated with malnutrition, he was certainly in dire need of food.
“Yes, but that’s going to change.” Suicune turned to look at her and smirked. “You are going to help me. You will be my second wind.”
“Well that might be a bit difficult.” Sandry gave off her own confident smile. Suicune was a deity, a legend she had been told bedtime stories about. There was no doubt in her mind that he could turn her into anything he desired. She just liked being smart to those that annoyed her. Sandry didn’t know what it was, but she felt Suicune would not just announce that she wouldn’t give her her wings for acting as such.
“And why might it be difficult?” he prodded with the raising of an invisible eyebrow.
“I’m just a soul, an invisible imprint of what I once was,” Sandry said nonchalantly, looking at her paw and knowing it was invisible to everybody but herself and Suicune. That hollow feeling that gripped her insides was testament enough. “How would I move the gusts and clouds?”
“Do you not know that I can give you the powers to help me?” Suicune had a sincere incredulous look on his face. Never had his powers and abilities been questioned.
When Sandry grinned and flicked her pronged tail mischievously, Suicune tuned out what she said. With his own hidden smirk, he realized his chains were just being pulled. As the deceased Pokémon began to get animated with her speech, Suicune decided it was time to get the ball rolling.
Sandry’s words were cut off when the deity licked her on the cheek. If she was still alive, her blood would have rushed to her cheeks in a furious blush. Instead, she grew tense and shut her mouth in surprise. Before she could demand what that was about, the coldness that covered her began to shift uneasily until she was surrounded in her own gust of wind. With her tail flapping and her ears against her skull, Sandry looked at him with squinting eyes. Was it her, or was there more color to her now?
And was her head gem glowing again?
However, it was what she felt inside her that made her shift nervously. Warmth flooded every limb of her body, and the weightlessness that had flooded her when she died eased until she could feel the ground beneath her paws more firmly. Sandry bit her lip, but she couldn’t stop the tears welling up in her eyes.
“What’s wrong?” Suicune asked. The gears of his mind were frantic as he tried to think of a way to comfort her without upsetting her further. When no answer came to mind, he merely sat and settled for swishing his tail tassels.
Sandry frowned and looked away to stare at a pebble on the ground. Irvin had always forbade her from crying, knowing Rocket superiors wouldn’t pass up the chance to hurt her for being soft.
But when tears reminded one that they were truly dead, she couldn’t help but cry.
“I miss feeling alive,” she choked out with all the dignity she could muster. A sob forced her to take a breath, her first breath in what felt like an eternity.
Suicune gently said, all of his bravado from their meeting gone, “If you want to truly feel alive, be by my side and help this village survive. Make your last chance purposeful and meaningful.”
“How long will this last?” Sandry composed herself with a straightening of her back and a last sniffle.
Suicune smiled warmly, though Sandry missed it as she closed her eyes and felt the beating of her heart inside her and the gust that surrounded her frame. “Weeks, months, years; it’s hard to know for sure. Mother Nature and humans are unpredictable.”
Suicune was suddenly caught off-guard by a slap to his face. Though he barely flinched at the hit, the dog blinked in surprised and saw Sandry slink back to place; her choice of weapon, her tail, was curled around her.
“That’s for the peck on the cheek,” she let him know with a soft glare. “I don’t care if it’s the only way you could have transferred your powers. I hate being taken by surprise by someone so blasé and pompous. Now,” she continued with a determined glance at the village and the dead crops she saw, “let’s go.”
With her new powers telling her mind what to do, the Espeon darted towards the crops, her gust of wind propelling her forward. Suicune merely stared after her, determined to not let his shock show on his face. Never had one of his charges had been so… outspoken, for a lack of a better word.
Sandry had reached the bottom of the hill and looked back at him. Her long ears were laid back and irritation, and she stared at him with those eyes that screamed superiority. When she saw he wasn’t following she turned tail and began to walk into town, effectively missing the sad smile that graced his snout a second later.
How long this one was going to stay with him was all up to that determined soul down there.
Suicune looked towards the village. A lonely part of his heart hoped it would never flourish.
Because then where would he be? Alone on his rock, awaiting another soul to play his game, that's where.
A/N: I'll go over this for more proofread before midnight. For some reason I see mistakes easier on a forum than on a Word Document.
This idea had been in my mind for a while now, and it was acutally supposed to be a WAR IX entry but never got it done. My goal for Dream Cast was to get something on my pen drive done and posted because God knows so many unifinised ideas are in there. At least this one made it to see the light. ;)