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Old 09-28-2010, 11:37 AM
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Stormecho Stormecho is offline
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Default Legend's Rage

Maaaybe someone even remembers my little fail of a fanfic that I wrote... a very long time ago.

Okay, it wasn't that long, but shhh. I decided it was horrible and revamped it, complete with actual subplots and potential character development. Yay~ And this is epically short compared to the chapters. :/ I feel like I should apologize for that.

Legend's Rage

Prologue

They arrived soundlessly, drawn by guilt and fury and the need for revenge. Strong emotions for stronger actions. There was no forgiving what had happened, what they saw in the eyes of the three that had been there from the start. The perfection of the balance they represented thrown off by the shadows that were left. There were not many – the birds came, flames and lightning and ice quieted by the gravity of the situation. Mew was there, blue eyes saddened by what fate had brought them all to. It was no surprise that a space had cleared around Ho-oh, and the sheer rage that radiated off the bird had ensured the others kept a wary distance from him and the heat that rippled off of him in waves. If there was any who had the ultimate claim to revenge, it was he, for they were his heralds, sent down to watch as humans grew in strength and ambition.

There was no question of leaving them in peace, of watching as the ambition grew and crippled those who would have let them live. Not even the protector of the forest could plead for peace. There were too many memories now, of burning towers and lives lost, reborn and then nearly lost again. Of balls that corrupted, of sleepers roused to anger and destruction, of greed that strangled those that would fly free. Too much, and as the mental barriers were released and the flood of disasters flashed through every mind, there was no hesitation.

At last, the most painful came, carried by the three beasts that had nearly been shattered, and even the knowledge that there had been a saviour for them was not enough. What could one human do against the ambition of so many? There was no forgiving all the crimes done to those who sought to protect and keep safe, and the balance had been skewed for too long. And so the memories were shared again, flowing in a continuing link through them all, and with little effort, the wave spread, touching the minds and hearts of those nearby. Images, flashing through so many. The wave continued, spreading even more, and the ripples were felt. Anger, hatred, and vengeance pulsed through them all.

At last, they cut off the flow. The stones had been dropped into the still pond, and now the world hungered for justice. They dispersed, traveling to the domains that they had held for thousands of years, and those they watched over understood and accepted their duty. From the depths of the seas, where Lugia swam tirelessly, to the sky, the word borne on majestic wings... Even the cities were affected, Latios and Latias gliding unseen through the streets. There was no question if the others would obey – when they asked, all would do their bidding gladly. One was absent, the newest, born unnaturally and who had once sought the same sort of justice, but he was alone, and unneeded now.

The change would be slow, but when they acted, there would be no stopping the surge of violence, and through the price of blood, true peace would be bought. There was no higher price, but it had been agreed upon, settled because of blood already spilt and crimes that had nearly broken the world. There was too little that was still pure, and that was the heart of it all.

There was no forgiving.
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Old 09-29-2010, 12:50 AM
Autumn Autumn is offline
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Default Re: Legend's Rage

FFFFF I LOVED THIS FANFIC ONCE UPON A TIME

WILL READ WHEN I GET THE TIME THOUGH.
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Old 09-29-2010, 10:19 AM
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Stormecho Stormecho is offline
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Default Re: Legend's Rage

YOU DID? :O I DID NOT KNOW I HAD FANS THAT WERE STILL AROUND

...*is flattered*
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Old 09-29-2010, 10:24 AM
Autumn Autumn is offline
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Default Re: Legend's Rage

the prologue's a bit more confusing than I remember it being but that was intentional I assume

also yes, you did/do have fans that are still around. <3333
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Old 09-29-2010, 11:03 AM
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Stormecho Stormecho is offline
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Default Re: Legend's Rage

Yeah, the prologue was intentionally cryptic and confusing. Such things are fun to write, and I felt it also would shift focus. Everyone can guess what the main plot is, what's causing all the conflict... and I'll keep it like that whilst entertaining myself with subplots. >:D

Here, have a chapter. I so wasn't dying to put this up minutes after the prologue. Really. *looks innocent* Ergh, I need critique for this. >> I wrote this part... about eight months ago, and my pride at revamping it died long since, so now I'm just fighting with my self esteem about if it's actually better or not. :/

Chapter 1: The Fall

Tala stared down at an arm marred by pale scars and the darkened remnants of burns. It was a rare time for contemplation – her days were busy, and she usually didn't have the energy to do anything but collapse onto her bed, but today's work had been lighter than usual. After a careful examination of a long, shallow gash on her wrist, she applied a leaf taken, with permission, from her Bellossom, and rebandaged it, before staring blankly at the wall. She didn't like not having anything to do. It felt strange, as if she hadn't done something right.

After a few minutes of staring, her eyes wandered over the rest of the room – a cheap wooden shelf in the corner, with books on medicine and the proper ways to treat Pokemon, the bed she was sitting on, a coffee table, a mini-fridge in the corner with food, both Pokemon and human... There was a rarely-used stove, as well, and that was it. The house had been quickly made, and she hadn't taken time to decorate it. As far as she knew, it could fall about her head in a minute, so what was the point of putting anything other than the neccessities in it? There was just a bathroom, and this room. It didn't even have the usual basement that one could escape to, the theory being that since she was a field medic, nothing would bother going this far to attack her.

There was the usual hum of the repel generators, designed to keep wild Pokemon away, but she had long since gotten used to the sound. There was nothing else to look at, and the windows showed the rather unnattractive view of a clouded night sky. Her fingers brushed the Pokeballs on her belt – it was dangerous to release them, especially if she was going to sleep soon, but they were high-leveled. The hesitation was hardly noticable, as she plucked one and released the Pokemon inside. The red light formed a large, lean canine, a faint scar visible on one leg. He shook his head, as if to lighten the weight of his rack of horns, and then sat down patiently. Tala stretched out a hand and splayed it against his furred neck, feeling the almost uncomfortable heat.

Her other hand went to her belt again, and the red light flickered once more, revealing her Bellossom, the red flowers on her head spinning slowly as she chirped a happy greeting.

“Sage, I want you to use Sweet Scent. Not too much, just something soothing.” she murmured, and began to stroke her Houndoom's neck, to calm herself. “Flare, you watch her, and if she looks threatening... blast her.” She hated having to issue such an order – she trusted her Pokemon, but Flare was a good ten levels higher than Sage, and the difference meant he would be less susceptible to turn on her...

“Bell.” the Grass-type chimed, and began to dance slowly, a delicate smell wafting through the room. Flare sneezed, but continued to gaze steadily at his teammate. Tala inched back, to give the pair some space in the cramped room, and turned off the light by her bed before sprawling out on it. She often slept in her clothes, rather than taking the time to change them – if an emergency occured, she was hardly going to be able to use the fact that she had been changing as an excuse for why she hadn't been fast enough to save a life.

She closed her eyes, and willed herself to go to sleep. Her muscles didn't hurt, she wasn't in all that much pain, and she lacked the usual, bone-deep fatigue, but if she stayed up any longer, she would be groggy in the morning, and she couldn't allow that. Eventually, she did fall asleep, as she knew she would. Her dreams were confused, filled with flitting shadows that often took shapes she refused to recognize, knowing that if she did, they would become real...

Beep.

Beep.

Beep-beep.

Beep-beep-beep-beep.

Beep-beep-beep-bee-bee-beep-b-

Her hand, groping around desperately, found something roughly circular, and she grabbed it and managed to open her eyes to look at it. Her Pokegear's screen was glowing, and after a moment she saw the words “Receiving Message”. Below it, there was the option to view... She tiredly pressed the button and squinted.

“-ala! Tala! Turn on your damn Pokegear alrea – oh. Good, you're up.” The man sitting at a desk looked as tired as her – his blond hair was sticking up in all directions, and she could see dark circles under his eyes. “I know you were supposed to rest, but we need you for something. Redrick will meet you halfway – you're at Blackthorn, right?” He rubbed a hand through his hair, making it even worse.

“...Nemian? Eugh. Yeah, I'm at Blackthorn. What happened? Where?”

“There were less attacks yesterday because they were somehow planning something big this morning... The Seafoam Islands are a wreck. Cinnabar too. Dewford's been swamped...” Fear made her stomach clench – all those islands, with so many people... Were they all dead? Nemian lifted a hand to stall her questions. “That's not the worst part. Celadon City... it's been completely razed.”

What?! But there were so many people there, so many trainers and medics already...”

“I know. I think they're targeting commercial centres, now that the Pokemon Centers are all destroyed. I don't know who revived them, but a whole flock of Aerodactyl appeared, and a collective Rock Slide... You can imagine. They tried to fight them off, but the wild Pokemon distracted the trainers long enough for more than a few buildings to collapse. What isn't rubble is blanketed with vines – Erika's Pokemon lost control. The gym looks like a thicket.” He poked at his desk, shook his head and sighed. “I need coffee. You will too. How're they holding up, with you?”

“Good. I'm worried about Sage, she's in the fifties, and we've seen that isn't anywhere near high enough... I have Flare around when I let her out now. I hate this.” she replied, now awake and nauseous. So many dead, so much ruined... “I envy the Elite Four. They had the privilege to train their Pokemon to the limit, and they've all changed to Master Balls too. They won't get any surprises.” She didn't care if her voice was bitter – her Pokemon were loyal. They didn't deserve to be twisted, to be forced to attack her for no apparent reason at all...

“Everyone envies them. But they're the ones keeping the regions together, you know. Now look, I really need coffee, and you need to get ready. Get whatever you can, but I know you don't have a good-sized bird Pokemon, so don't weigh yourself down too much. Couriers can send the rest of the stuff you need. Don't die, alright? We have few enough good ones as it is.” The screen flashed once, and then returned to the usual dull black. Startled by the sudden lack of light, Tala groaned and sat up.

She felt the weight of the Pokeball, dangling from its chain around her neck. She stroked the smooth surface, to reassure herself, and strained in the gloom to find Sage. The Bellossom's bright colours were far easier to look for than Flare's black fur. It was stupid, she could have just called out to know they were there, but she needed to see them. A glance at the windows didn't help her – the same clouded sky. There never was any sun or moon, not anymore. It was probably early in the morning, around four or three... Thinking about it didn't make it any easier to bear – she couldn't work like this. But she had to. Getting off the bed, she called out, “Flare, Sage, get out of the way.” There was the click of claws on the floor, and she cautiously edged over to the fridge, tossing the heavily wrapped packages into the bag by the door. It was always open, since, as this morning proved, she never knew when she'd be leaving. Most of her supplies were in there already.

A few rolls of bandages and some hastily collected leaves, the usual collection of medicines for status effects, and disinfectant... There. Red light briefly illuminated the room as she called back her Pokemon, then opened the door and left. It was nearly as dark outside, and a chilly wind bit through her thin sweater, but she didn't have the time to put on anything warmer. Yet more fumbling for Pokeballs, and as she pulled out the one she wanted, she felt a flash of regret. She might not be able to use this method as transport again, no matter how bone-wrenchingly painful it was.

“Talon.” Just his name, as he materialized out of the Pokeball, brown feathers ruffling. She moved forward slowly, awaited his usual trilled greeting, and then ran her hands through the feathers on his neck, checking that the loop of rope there wasn't too tight. Like always, there were no welts, and she sighed in relief. “We've got a long flight, but Redrick's meeting us at the Tohjo Falls. I'll switch there, so you don't have to bear my weight for most of the journey.”

A Pidgeotto was hardly the best Pokemon to use if you wanted to go somewhere. Even short distances were painful for both human and Pokemon. Still, she lifted her arm and winced as he lifted off the ground, circled in the air above her and then gripped her shoulder with his strong talons. The next, bone-wrenching movement brought her into the air as he flapped, and she bit her lip. It was hard on both of them, and she always felt guilty for keeping him in this smaller form. If he was larger, he would be a bigger target, though, and she couldn't bear him flying into a swarm like that. Another flap, and she felt her stomach clench. Flying was not the pleasant experience that so many others had, not when the Pokemon wasn't bigger than her...

Closing her eyes didn't make it any better, and through gritted teeth she muttered encouragements to Talon. “Newbark isn't too far... We can make it, and you'll fly easier once we meet Redrick. Just keep going, don't think about how tired you'll get.” She kept her eyes on the ground, watching for any movement. All the routes were quiet now, but that wasn't any help. Swarms didn't need to make noise. Not when, on the ground, there were hundreds of Caterpie and Weedle, ready to strangle any target with String Shot.

The path was clearly visible, winding between the trees below. It was dangerous to veer off it, even in the air, though it meant that the way was longer. There wasn't anyone else in the sky. There wasn't anyone on the ground. She was utterly alone, but there was the oppressive atmosphere that had settled on the land since the sky had clouded over, the feeling that she was being watched. A weary squawk made her look around – but she saw nothing, except...

There was a sort of shape, ahead of them, and she could only make it out because of the cloud behind it. Small, with odd... wings that stuck out stiffly to the side. Tala blinked, and it was gone. Probably a trick of the light. Something nagged in the back of her mind. A Pokemon that could be invisible... Well, it was gone now, whatever it was.

At least, when they were flying, there wasn't any sun to get in their eyes. The clouded sky looked eerie, and she had no idea which Pokemon had been to blame for that, but it could be convenient. Still, she missed the night sky, and the beautiful sunsets. The path curved around, leading to Newbark Town, which wasn't even a splotch in the distance. She sighed. It was going to be a long flight...

-------------

“Tell me, are they suffering?”

“I think so, sister. No longer can they heal quickly. We have crippled them.”

“What about that place? Where we were imprisoned?”

“It is being destroyed. Don't worry. When this is over, we will sleep by Celebi's monument, and no one will be able to harm us.”

“...Yes. There. We were released there. Will those three die?”

“They must.”
-------------


The Tohjo Falls were spectacular, and she had admired them before, but now Tala could only strain to try and spot a hovering orange dot behind all the mist and spray. The crash of water over rock drowned out even Talon's laboured breathing, and she sighed in relief as a bulky form suddenly blasted towards her. With a roar, the orange-scaled dragon circled around them, and then dipped below, great wings beating to keep him in place. Talon just dropped, his claws releasing their grip on Tala's wrist so that she sprawled on the Charizard's back. Carefully sitting up, she clung to the straps that criscrossed his back and shoulders, and used them to pull herself up to sit at the base of his neck. Talon landed behind her, completely secure on the Fire-type's back. She looked around for Redrick... and didn't see him. Great. Had he gotten so lazy that he had decided to only send Drake to meet her?

“I see my ever so charming partner has arrived to dazzle me with her presence. Your scowl, my dear, lights up the sky like so many stars,” said a disembodied voice from below. Tala made a face, tightened her grip on the leather harness and slowly leaned over. The spiky red hair was the only clue that someone was hitching a ride, and she stared in disbelief.

“You're... tied up. In flight. Why?” she eventually asked, hearing her own voice crack on the last word.

“What, not even a greeting? I'm hurt, Tala. Really. Disregarding my current state of anguish and grief, the reason I'm strapped to Drake's underside is because you are heavy-boned, and if we all sat on his back, it'd be harder for him to fly. Besides, we'd get in the way of his flapping.” The cheery reply made her frown even more, but she had to pull herself back up before the view of the ground unsettled her stomach too much.

“You're an idiot, Redrick.”

“My heart is breaking. I'm so sorry that my way of making us fly faster is annoying your sense of aesthetics. Just because it's not comfortable doesn't mean it can't work out. You should know, what with breaking your arm each time you take to the air,” he retorted, still far too happily for her taste. “Is your shoulder bruised much? There's a pouch with some cream to soothe it near his right wing.” She found it and pulled out the battered tube of cream, squeezing it and rubbing it on her shoulder, which had quite distinctive claw marks and rips in the sweater from Talon's grip. The Pidgeotto in question was calmly perching behind her, feathers ruffled by the wind.

Kanto passed below them, if she cared to look, but she didn't want to throw up, and Drake flew a lot higher and faster than Talon did. Looking down wasn't a good idea, even if she hadn't eaten yet. Still, the constant heat sinking into her skin was comforting, as was the steady thunder of wingbeats. A glance behind her proved that the Charizard's flame burned brightly, which was a good indicator of his bond as well as his level. Apparently, a Charizard betraying its trainer did odd things to the fire, not that she had ever seen it...

“What do you know about what's happened?” Redrick asked, interrupting her thoughts.

“The island towns are doomed, and Celadon's destroyed.” she answered flatly, trying to decide between keeping a look-out for any wild Pokemon and avoiding losing her stomach to the sickening drop below them. “That's all, right?” It hurt to be so callous, to speak without being able to think of the lives that had been lost, but to let herself grieve would have just slowed her down.

“That's all for now, yeah. But you know, we can guess which ones will get hit later...”

“Goldenrod. Slateport.” She sighed and brushed a hand through her hair as she thought. “Any city with a gym, after that. The Indigo Plateau as well. Redrick, are we really going t –?”

“Don't sound so depressed! Don't forget that everyone is working out a way to stop this. This is as bad as it'll ever get!” Redrick laughed, voice so cheery that she felt ashamed. Doubting herself, doubting the abilities of her Pokemon, doubting everyone who was working so hard... “We'll fix whatever's happening. Isn't that right, Drake?” The Charizard growled, and, rather than saying something about how Drake was agreeing with him, her partner swore.

Tala sat up, finally staring down at the ground. There were flickers of movement and colour around the trees, telltale signs that they were being watched from below. “Damn it. I thought we could get to Celadon without any trouble.” Her voice sounded flat to her own ears, but it had to be, because otherwise she would start thinking about what they were preparing to do. To survive, she had to close herself off... “Talon?” The Pidgeotto squawked and pushed off of Drake's back, wings effortlessly catching the wind.

The steady wingbeats stopped, and Tala tried to ignore the plummeting feeling in her stomach. Drake was gliding now, so they could hear the signal they were dreading. Talon soared above their heads, and even Redrick had stopped teasing to try and listen.

A hundred pairs of wings flapped as one.
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Old 09-29-2010, 07:07 PM
Autumn Autumn is offline
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Default Re: Legend's Rage

ahhh yes, now I remember this well :3 sorry that I can't offer up any criticism, though, because I generally suck at criticism and this is really well-written anyhow.
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Old 09-29-2010, 07:10 PM
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Stormecho Stormecho is offline
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Default Re: Legend's Rage

x3 It's okay~ If you do see any glaring errors, plot holes or me simply failing at logic forever, slap me in the face with them. :P

...You really think it's well-written? XD D'awww. I am flattered. Thank you. <3
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Old 09-29-2010, 08:42 PM
Autumn Autumn is offline
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Default Re: Legend's Rage

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormecho View Post
...You really think it's well-written? XD D'awww. I am flattered. Thank you. <3
Well I mean it must be, I have an attention span of zero so if anything can capture my attention for long enough to read it then it must be well-written~! of course, this is no exception.
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Old 09-30-2010, 11:22 AM
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Stormecho Stormecho is offline
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Default Re: Legend's Rage

Yay, second chapter! Where I proceed to italicize everything. Whee~ LR is set in a mix of game and animeverse, which will be made more clear in time. :P But I threw in a manga reference in this chapter's cryptic, italicized conversation of doom because I absolutely adore Pokemon Special. x3

Chapter 2: Black and White

It was hard to see everything happening at once. It was why Tala's eyes decided to focus on tiny details, like the rippling movement from the trees as Pokemon burst out of cover. The swarm was just a mass of colour at this point, but the size made her tense up. There was that stupid, stupid feeling of doubt again – could they actually do something? What could a few humans do to make a difference against this?

The swarm rose and turned towards them, and she could identify the Pokemon now. The usual field and forest-type ones: Beedrill, Butterfree, Pidgey and Spearow. Alone, or in a small group, they wouldn't have been a threat at all, but the swarm was large enough to be lethal. The edges were a blur of movement as the smaller, quicker Pokemon constantly darted around, but they were there to distract and hinder. It was the centre that she had to watch out for: the Pidgeotto, Fearow and Pidgeot were there.

“Tala, are the Butterfree above us?” Redrick asked quietly. She risked a glance above them.

“Shit. Yes, they are. Talon, use Gust. Don't fly, just stay back here. Keep away whatever they drop on us.” The graceful Bug-types were drifting sedately on the wind above them. It was an effective strategy: while they were harried by the rest of the swarm, the Butterfree could slowly immobilize them. Drake would be busy keeping them safe and away from the killing beaks and stingers, so Talon had to deal with deflecting the Sleep Powder and Spore that would fall.

“Tala...”

“What?!” she snapped, looking around for anything that would make their situation even worse.

“Hold on.” The Charizard suddenly dropped, and she bit back a scream as the ground rushed towards them. Then, he turned, spiralling while streams of flame surrounded them. Tala obediently clung to Drake's neck, feeling the heat of the Flame Wheel beat down at her. She could hear a discordant chorus of shrieks from above as they flew under the swarm before levelling out once more.

The heat faded and she dared to open her eyes. The bulk of the swarm was behind them, and the edge-fliers that were still in range to attack had fallen back because of the fire. The Butterfree couldn't have attacked because the swarm was in the way. After some searching, she found Talon, swooping low to reach them. Drake roared and used Flamethrower, the jet of fire causing more chaos in the group.

Her Pidgeotto was, for the most part, unscathed. She couldn't see any blood on his feathers, and he wasn't flying oddly. However, that could change, as a group of Spearow and Pidgey detached to follow after him. “Redrick, we need to help!”

“No.” he answered curtly.

“Talon's going to be attacked! We need to - “ She tried to sit up, unsure of what she was going to do, but certain that she had to get to her Pokemon, but at that moment, Drake made an abrupt turn, and she had to duck down as a Beedrill's Twinneedle passed over her head.

“Damn it, Tala, we're not risking our lives on your Pidgeotto! It's helping him and dying, or going on and hoping he gets out of this alive. You and I are medics. You know what that means?” She knew too well, but couldn't say anything, so he continued. “The Pokemon Centers are destroyed. Rubble. Thousands are injured and dying, and we are supposed to get to them and heal as many as possible. Are you going to say that a hundred of the lives you could save at Celadon are thrown away just because you went after your Pokemon?” She opened her mouth, but he went on furiously, “What about the thousand that will die this week, because you went to your death? Or the million, this year? You're good at this, and I sure as hell am not going to let you kill people because of Talon. Drake, use another Flamethrower and keep going northwest. Tala, are you listening!?”

What could she say to that? “I...” She could imagine him glaring up at her, though she couldn't see him. “You're right. I'm sorry.” Tala hated how meek and accepting her voice sounded. Talon was being hurt, and she couldn't do anything...

“Shit. That's not right either. Look, Tala, never apologize to me. Not like that. You're not the type of person to bully into an apology.” She could tell he was going to say something else by how he cleared his throat, but a swirl of colour and the flapping of wings made her cling to Drake's neck. The Charizard, not affected by her tight grip, banked to one side and slowed down enough to look over his shoulder and spit a series of Embers. Tala flinched at the intense heat right over her head, but the swarm apparently backed off once more.

“Oi, Drake, let me see.” Redrick demanded, disgruntled. “It's not like them to back off like that...” Drake obediently hovered, turning so that Redrick could presumably take a look.

Tala lifted her head. The swarm, in its myriad glory, had turned its back on them. The wild Pokemon were gathering, as if to look at something. Her stomach clenched. What could distract a swarm from the humans it was preying on? Unless the leader was hurt... A vicious scream rang out, and she jumped, startled. “Just what's going on over there?” she asked, voice trembling.

There was a flurry of movement, and a bird Pokemon suddenly charged through the swarm, wings held close to its body. It was a Pidgeotto, but only when she saw the distinctive jagged teartracks did she realize. Talon, feathers spotted by dark blood, was flying back towards them. She could only stare, horrified. Her poor, poor Pokemon was hurt... Tala glanced at the swarm, which was moving sluggishly. None of the Spearow or Pidgey had moved to attack. It as if they were waiting for something.

That “something” screamed as it flew after Talon, and whatever wild hope she had of her Pidgeotto escaping to relative safety vanished. A massive bird churned the air with its wings. Its sweeping crest of bright yellow and red feathers was dissheveled and it too was marked by spots of blood, if not as greatly as Talon. It darted after Talon, and she foolishly sat up, nails digging into her palms. She couldn't do anything – if she shouted, he would be distracted and slow down. The Pidgeot curved a graceful arc in the sky, easily overtaking Talon even though her Pidgeotto was flapping wildly. She felt like she was going to throw up. The swarm wasn't bothering to hurt them, because their leader was preoccupied. Talon was the distraction that was keeping them alive...

Redrick muttered something, and when she strained to hear, she caught a string of quiet orders. Her partner was apparently more worried about Talon's predicament than she had first thought.

“We're going to have to try and reach him, and distract the leader long enough for him to get away,” he told her suddenly. Tala gaped.

“I thought you said we couldn't risk our lives to save a Pokemon...”

“We won't be,” Redrick said firmly. “They won't be able to see us.” He muttered something to Drake, and then announced, so that she could hear, “Smokescreen. Follow that with a Double Team, and find Talon. I'd ask for a Substitute, but that would tire you out too much. If anything gets close, use Roar.” The Charizard growled an affirmative, and after a moment, thick, black smoke began to pour from his mouth. Tala quickly covered her mouth and nose, coughing a bit – it was not the most pleasant thing to breathe in. Unfortunately, she had to grip the leather straps quickly, as Drake suddenly surged forward, wings flapping at a speed he hadn't shown before. Looking back, she saw two afterimages flicker into sight, flanking them.

It was a good strategy, raising the chances of their getting to Talon unharmed. Bird Pokemon relied on their eyesight, and with both smoke and two illusions, it was doubtful that they would be able to get close enough to attack. Still, despite the odds, Tala couldn't look at where Talon circled, desperately trying to fight a foe that outmatched him. The squawks and angry buzzing of the swarm didn't seem to distract the two opponents, even as smoke shrouded them both.

“Tala, we're close. Call to him, will you?” Redrick's voice was hoarse, and he coughed afterwards.

“But...” Her objection trailed off as she coughed as well. “Alright. Talon!” The smoke billowed, and with a tired squawk, her faithful Pokemon flew back. He was flagging terribly, and though his claws and beak were stained with blood from the Pidgeot, she knew he was far worse off. She barely felt Drake turn, too busy with running her hands through his feathers and finding out where he was wounded. There were deep gashes on his stomach and near his wings, but the rest were only long, shallow rakes from the Pidgeot's claws. He didn't pull away, though Tala knew that her prodding at them only hurt him more. She rummaged in her bag and pulled out disinfectant and a paste that she had made from her Bellossom's leaves. Midway through applying the paste, Talon suddenly grasped her hand in his beak gently.

She stopped, confused. “Talon, what -” He trilled softly, bumping against her, before shifting so that her hand rested on the rope around his neck. She knew what he wanted. Her eyes prickled with tears. “Alright. Just... don't die, alright? Come back to me.” The rope had taken its share of hits through the years, and was worn thin. She pulled on an especially frayed part and it snapped. Somehow, this wasn't the dramatic thing she had thought it would be. Redrick had no idea what was going on, but the smoke was slowly dissipating, and they had no more time.

The clear stone attached to the rope dropped into Tala's hand, glittering as white light enveloped her Pokemon. On shining wings he rose again, invincible in that one small moment of change... And then, with the next flap, his wings stretched out, pale brown feathers mixed with cream. His crest grew long, colours vivid red and yellow. She could still see blood, marring the image, but now he was a match for the leader of the swarm who flew out to meet him. They circled in the air, and for a moment she hoped – somehow – that the conflict would end. Of course, it didn't. A furious screech rang out and Talon lunged forward, talons outstretched. She turned away, not wanting to look. The swarm, distracted, hovered in the air around the fighters. For now, she and Redrick were safe.

“Eugh, the smoke's clearing,” Redrick said in disgust. “It's too windy to last long anyways.” He paused. “Tala... We were getting Talon. Can you explain to me why he, fully-evolved, is in the air again? You couldn't just put him in a Pokeball and let us be on our way?”

She flushed in embarassment. “He... he didn't want me to just heal him.” she explained. “The swarm would have caught up with us again, so he decided to kill the leader. You know that swarms lose their effectiveness if the Pokemon holding them together is killed...” Her voice trailed off. She rubbed the Everstone, keeping her eyes on it rather than on the fight occuring not far away.

“Oh yes, I forgot. You let your Pokemon push you around,” he retorted, exasperation in his voice. “You'll have to tell me how that works out one day.” She stayed silent, knowing anything else would aggravate him. “You'd think I'd have gotten used to this crap by now. Alright, let's keep hovering, in open air, in plain sight, and hope none of the swarm turn around and notice we're still here.”

Tala couldn't help looking back. It was hard to tell which Pokemon was winning – Talon could have been the wild Pidgeot's brother – and though her stomach roiled and she found her hands clenching into fists again, she couldn't look away. Their lives, at the moment, depended on Talon. It would have been smart, logical even, to leave while the swarm was distracted. To fly off, leave her Pidgeot to fight until he died. It would have been the sensible thing to do. If she hadn't been with him, Redrick might even have let it happen. She knew that.

Sentiment, the bonds of close relationships... The change in the Pokemon had cut all that away. Only a few individuals didn't have to worry about their Pokemon eventually going wild and attacking anything nearby. Talon would eventually turn on her. A part of her knew that. She couldn't believe it, though, not after what they had been through together. It was why, instead of flying away, she was watching her Pokemon fight against the leader of the swarm, regardless of all the strain of flying this far and carrying her.

Talon, she saw, was hurt badly now, his wings straining to support him. Evolution gave a burst of energy, but that energy was drained quickly, especially considering all the bleeding cuts he sported from the other Pidgeot's talons. He was no longer trying to dodge or circle, and was now just backwinging as the other Pidgeot approached. Just as the other struck at him with his talons again, his wings furled and he dropped, beak raking at the other's chest.

The other Pidgeot cried out, bleeding heavily, and began to fall too. Tala knew she should have been watching the swarm, to see if the unified Pokemon were still being controlled, but she couldn't tear her gaze away from Talon, who had taken so many hits and was, though no longer falling, barely keeping up in the air. Drake swung away from the swarm as chaos erupted – Beedrills and Spearow rammed into each other, flocks of Pidgey began to squabble and fracture, and the Butterfree began to sprinkle powder at random.

Talon had no more strength to avoid the Pokemon who were darting around, and barely managed to reach them. Redrick kept quiet as Drake began to head towards Celadon again, while she fussed over her Pidgeot's wounds. He was too tired to even bother snapping at her when she prodded at the more painful ones, and she used up a good amount of ointment cleaning and salving all the cuts. Once that was done, he leaned against her, vicious beak touching her shoulder gently, while she stroked his back and praised him. At last, so he could rest, she returned him to his Pokeball, and refused to talk when Redrick tried to coax her into a conversation. It was a long flight.

----------

“What are you looking at?”

“Isn't this what you wanted, in the end?”

“No... not really. Not all humans had to die. Just those who weren't worthy.”

“And Pokemon wouldn't die either, or go through this torture, right?”

“Yes, that's it.”

“It's almost the same, from my way of thinking. Oh well. At least you'll never have to worry about your Pokemon turning on you, eh, Lance?”

“Shut up.”

----------


Nemian looked no better at Celadon than he had when he had contacted her. His blond hair was still messy, and he was leaning on a Kangaskhan so heavily that Tala guessed he would have fallen over otherwise. There was a space for Drake to land, which he did carefully – one of his legs had acquired a nasty stab from a Beedrill's sting, and Redrick had trouble treating it until he was on the ground. Tala slid off with some relief.

“Did you run into a swarm?” Nemian asked, without waiting for Redrick to unhook himself from the Charizard's harness.

“How ever did you guess?” her partner retorted, voice muffled as he fumbled with the leather straps. Once he was free from the harness, he dropped to the ground and strolled over. “You look terrible, Nem. Get some rest,” he advised, running a hand through his spiky red hair. “Surely you have enough people running around to manage for a few hours?”

Nemian made a face. “Stop calling me that. The problem is that I don't. We've been spread thinner than ever before. The Elite Four of every region are rushing around to ensure people are getting where they need to. Orre's been opened up for travel, and we have to make sure the people going there will get there alive... What if, while I'm sleeping, another place gets attacked?” Redrick laughed, but Tala thought it sounded forced – a lot of his cheeriness seemed to fall into that category these days.

“You're a medic, Nem –”

“Stop calling me that.”

“And you're not responsible for the safety of everything and everyone.” Redrick continued, not fazed by the interruption. Drake, in the meantime, had decided to prop his head on Redrick's shoulder, making him sag from the weight. “In fact, we're not security guards or border patrols last time I checked. We're medics. We're supposed to heal, and that's it. The portable, messy, living version of Pokemon Centers. It's the Elite Four and the gymleaders who get the fun of keeping everything running. Would you put the duty of worrying about this on me, or Tala, or any of the others?” He didn't bother to wait for an answer. “No? Well then, stop putting it on yourself. You're already exhausted. Don't be so stubborn, or I'll tell Tala to sic her Pokemon on you.” Then, to the Charizard, he muttered, “Drake, get off. You're too heavy for this...”

Tala didn't bother protesting about being dragged into the mess to threaten her boss. Redrick enjoyed involving anyone nearby in conversations, regardless of if it concerned them or not.

“I give up.” Nemian said wearily. “I'm too tired to bother debating with you. Look, just find your tents and get to work. You don't need to worry about your Pokemon – we've got some Psychics and Sabrina projecting a mix of Calm Mind and Protect on the area. Nothing's going to go rogue on us right now.” He leaned harder on the Kangashkan, which began to shoot glares at Redrick and Tala as if it was their fault that he was working so hard. Tala wisely nodded and left before Redrick decided to be too outrageous.

She had been on the sites of disasters before. Where Drake had landed had actually been outside of Celadon. All the medics had their temporary quarters grouped to one side, not too far from where all the casualties were. That was where she headed now – there'd be a tent reserved for her, if Nemian's organizing hadn't gone awry. There weren't all too many people about – she spotted the Psychic trainers and their Pokemon seated together, and she cautiously skirted around them. A young, dark-haired boy, maybe twelve or so, was hanging around one of the tents. For a moment, she thought his eyes looked oddly blank, but then decided that it was her imagination as he straightened and ran up to her.

“Um... you're Tala, right? My name's Aaron Cross, and I'm supposed to be your assistant! This is your tent, and I can make sure your stuff gets taken here once the couriers are available.” He looked happy to continue babbling, but she held up a hand in an attempt to cut him off.

“...Aaron? Since when do I have an assistant? I never needed one before.” she pointed out. He smiled at her charmingly.

“We didn't have so many injured before. I'm still supposed to be in training, but all us trainees were kicked out to help you and get hands on experience if we don't die.” he answered, his cheerful attitude clashing strongly with the severity of the situation. With a sinking feeling that she was going to be trailing him all day, Tala sighed and entered the tent, throwing her bag on the ground. She sorted out medicine from food, pressganged Aaron to hold all her important supplies and then walked back out.

“I'm going to release my Pokemon.” she told him. “You need to stand back and look harmless. You can release yours later for me to look over them, but for now, just stay put and don't move.” Her Pokemon emerged – Sage, the red flowers on her head twirling; Flare, who stretched, lashed his thin tail and growled at Aaron; Shard, the rings on his body glowing a bright yellow. Talon was too injured for her to send him out, and he was too combat-focused to be useful. Another flash of light revealed Rai, the Mareep shaking and discharging sparks hidden in his thick wool.

Aaron, who had obediently stayed clear, raised an eyebrow at the Houndoom who was currently staring at him suspiciously. “Didn't you have six?” he asked.

“One's injured,” she replied shortly, reaching for the Pokeball that hung around her neck. Red light illuminated a tall, spiky form as a massive Feraligatr stretched and roared, tail lashing. She smiled as he lumbered over to stand beside her, head dropping to rest against hers. She reached up to scratch his snout gently. “Hey, Torrent. More stuff has happened. It's time to go,” she told him fondly, feeling him rumble his assent. Yellow eyes focusing on Aaron, who had backed away even more, the Feraligatr bared his fangs in a silent threat, which Tala decided to ignore. He had acted worse to humans who were standing too close – Aaron was out of striking range. He was safe for the moment. “So, my new assistant, this is Torrent. All of my Pokemon are a bit odd in temperament, but I'd say that you keep out of his way the most. He's jealous.” Another growl followed her statement and she laughed. “Just remember that and we'll be fine. Come on.”

The idea of someone following her around made her want to let Torrent intimidate him, but that wasn't fair. As long as Aaron didn't get in her way... Surrounded by her Pokemon and gripping one of the red spikes that sprouted from Torrent's back, she went out to challenge death.
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Old 10-08-2010, 12:41 PM
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Stormecho Stormecho is offline
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Default Re: Legend's Rage

CHAPTERSPAM YEAH

...Eeeeeurgh. I forgot how much I hated this one chapter. If I wasn't so horribly lazy, I would rewrite it. But I am horribly lazy, so I haven't gotten around to it yet.

The reason that it sucks can't really be pinned down to one specific thing, but I will say that I managed to not insert a cryptic, italicized conversation into it. That is clearly the root of all my hatred for it.

...But seriously, I really need to revamp this chapter at some point. But it has some redeeming qualities - namely, I can now ramble on and on about weird healing techniques using Pokemon moves and abilities.

Chapter Three - Insulation

The injured were out in the open air – open meaning the sky was visible, but everything was distorted by a glimmering shield of green. That was the Protect that the Psychic trainers and their Pokemon had put up, and Tala was relieved to have it there. She could hear Aaron walking behind her, his attempts at conversation somewhat hampered by the fact that Torrent and Flare flanked her, and weren't acting all that friendly towards him.

Still, she needed the distraction of his presence, really. Otherwise, she'd focus too much on the groaning and cries of pain that she could hear. She had to ignore that, ignore all the injured until she found out which ones she had to take care of. “Hey, Aaron.”

“Yes? What can I do?” he asked, and managed to step around her escorts to face her. She had to admire his lack of fear – Torrent was imposing, given his size and just how quick he was when he decided to bite someone. Even she had been frightened when he had first evolved.... She ignored the chance to sink into fond – or not so fond – memories.

“Get the list of areas where I need to go, and come back. Quickly.” she ordered, feeling a prickle of unease. The area had long since been divided into sections, and then organized by alphabet. It ended at F, because medics had a grim sense of humour and couldn't avoid the fact that those barely clinging to life would always, always end up there. The worst of the injured. The recipients of near-fatal blows and those whose minds had been shattered by Psychic attacks, those who had been possessed or cursed by Ghosts.... The almost hopeless ones. Only the best were constantly delegated there, and the utter newbies who needed a harsh wake up call before they started on their own assigned patients.

Aaron, despite being extremely cheerful for someone on the scene of a disaster, was also efficient – not only did he return with the list, and without taking too long, but he was followed by another medic. A dark-skinned woman with long black hair swept after him, a Weezing hovering beside her and belching small amounts of noxious fumes. As soon as she reached Tala, she crossed her arms and looked down her impressive and hawk-like nose at Aaron. “You didn't tell me you're working with Tala,” she said accusingly.

Aaron blinked. “Does working with her make a difference?” he asked cautiously, grey eyes bright and a neutral expression on his face. Tala sighed and shoved Torrent slightly. He shifted enough for her to swipe the list from Aaron's hand, and, ignoring his protest, started to walk off. Section E... That wasn't half as bad as F, as she knew well enough. Status Effects were common, but she could take care of most of them, thankfully. She could hear Aaron talking behind her, but she tried to focus enough on the list, which named not only her but the other medics. Nemian was assigned to F. Redrick, as usual, was also assigned to section F. There wasn't much change in the lists from place to place – unless there were too few people to handle a certain section, no one was ever moved. For example, she had a varied team, and with a Grass-type that could produce undiluted cures for a number of conditions, she had been shoved into the E section on her second day out of training.

There was a warning growl from Torrent as Aaron entered her line of sight once more, jogging to keep up. “Yes?” she asked, not slowing down.

“Um... Tala, Senica said that I should fetch another medic to work with us,” he replied, looking a bit nervous.

“And?”

“Well, I was assigned to help you, so I can't really take any order unless you approve of it,” he explained carefully.

“Oh. No, don't get another. We'll be fine,” she answered curtly. Aaron didn't look convinced, and was shooting desperate looks over his shoulder. Tala turned to look at who was following – but there was no need, as Senica stalked over.

“If I'm stuck with you, we need someone else,” she informed them both. “I can't drag you back by myself, and my Pokemon would just hurt you trying to carry you back.” Tala stared back stubbornly, noticing that the other medic's brow was furrowed.

“Drag? What?” Aaron looked understandably confused – apparently news about the peculiarities of some of the medics hadn't reached the trainees yet.

Senica frowned at him, and then turned back to Tala, keeping a wary eye on Torrent who was looking at her gesturing arms, gauging distance. Tala didn't bother trying to stop him. It was tiring to try and dissuade her Pokemon. They were always aggressive, always on edge, always ready to protect her from... anything. It had taken weeks to impress upon them the importance of not slaughtering Redrick when he raised his voice. She never admitted to herself that having such zealous protection was almost... comforting.

“Who would you be willing to work with?” Senica asked her, a faint plea in her voice. Tala grimaced. She couldn't make a scene in front of Aaron – he had no idea what he was dealing with, but his ignorance could be preserved a while longer.

“Get Redrick, later – when he has a break. He'll be thankful for the distraction,” she answered finally. Senica sighed, with some relief, which was annoying – was she really that hard to deal with? Surely Nemian worked harder than she did! Tala frowned at her, only to find the dark-skinned medic frowning right back, staring down her nose and reminding her all too much of a sun-darkened Pidgeot. Or maybe a Staraptor.

“I'll do that, then. Let's go,” Senica said, breaking off the contest and edging away from Torrent, who was trying to subtly move closer to her. The blue alligator Pokemon wasn't good at being sneaky, at least, and his intentions were clear, fangs showing in a display meant to frighten and intimidate. “I don't understand... He acts like a Meowth you've raised from an egg, but whenever anyone else gets too close, he tries to rip their heads off.” Torrent growled softly and the medic turned to address him directly. “Yes you, you zealous lizard. I haven't come here to assassinate your trainer or anything, and I'd like to keep my arms.” The Feraligatr glared daggers at her and she sighed again. “Starters are supposed to be nice and friendly,” she murmured. The Weezing beside her belched out a cloud of fumes, but Tala didn't bother to do anything beyond wrinkling her nose – the Poison-type knew not to accidentally release clouds of truly poisonous gas. No, it was saving that for when it would be needed to mix up antidotes.

Aaron looked quite confused, and Senica turned and clapped him on the shoulder. “Don't worry, you'll probably figure it all out soon,” she told him. “Or go insane with the rest of us. Granted, we have good reasons to need padded rooms.” Aaron didn't look all too pleased at this prospect, but he followed them both willingly enough as Senica led the way to their patients. There weren't many tents here, but it was a nice day, and only those who had been Frozen were kept under the canvas roofs, where the heat trapped there was useful. Aaron made a quiet sound of sympathy at the sight of so many beds, so many humans and Pokemon laid out, some corpse-like in their stillness.

“Yes, it's not a pleasant sight,” Tala said grimly, feeling the usual determination. She would save them – no matter what state they were in, she would save each and every being here, human or Pokemon. Who they started on was the medics' own choice, so she picked out a pale and sweating girl that looked barely older than ten. Several small wounds, roughly circular, dotted her arms and neck. She struggled to move, murmured something, and then stopped, groaning.

“Is that... is that poison?” Aaron asked carefully. Tala answered, since Senica was looking at the wounds carefully.

“Yes, it is. Problem is, we don't have Antidotes to cure all types of poisoning now, so we need to guess at what Pokemon caused it, and then create the proper antidote ourselves. That's why Senica's here.” Senica grunted in agreement, peering at the wounds.

“These aren't caused by fangs – they don't match. So that takes out a good deal of Pokemon. Probably a horn, or a spike. This girl looks young, so she probably didn't get far if she was on a journey, and there are plenty of weak Pokemon near towns that could do this. It could be the Beedrill line, or maybe the Nidoran....” She turned to the Weezing. “Make some of a Weedle's venom, then get the antivenom and let her breathe it in,” she commanded, crossing her arms as the purple ball of gas wheezed. It was hard to tell that it was actually doing anything, except for the fact that its regular little puffs of noxious gas had disappeared entirely, pulled inside so it could create the required venom.

The process took little time, but Tala and Senica watched the Weezing with anxious eyes, while Aaron tried to tend to the comfort of their patient. He was good at that – wiping her forehead with a cool cloth, speaking soothing words, making sure she wasn't directly in the sunlight. When Senica's Pokemon was finally done, it floated over to the girl and let out a fine mist, completely unlike the usual gas – it settled on her gently, and she breathed it in. Tala turned away. “Senica's alright with this – we need to worry about the others. Come on.”

Her own first patient was a Ninetales that had been paralyzed. It couldn't move, its limbs stiff and tails splayed out. Tala, with permission, took a few of the leaves from Sage's skirt and carefully tore them up, before putting them in the Fire-type's mouth. The fox chewed reflexively, and while it did so, Tala turned her attention to its stiffened legs.

“Rai, help me with this.” The Mareep trotted up, creamy wool crackling with electricity. He bleated as she slowly tried to work the Pokemon's legs. It snarled and she quickly let go as its body heat rose. “That must hurt so it's... severe paralysis. Rai, send weak pulses to the muscles. Sage, enhance the leaves it ate.” She was commanding them out loud for Aaron's benefit – sometimes she thought her Pokemon knew what the problem was and what to do with it before she did. Rai moved until his muzzle brushed the Ninetales' fur, and tiny sparks jumped from his wool to the fox's legs. It jerked, but Sage acted at that moment, a green halo surrounding her briefly before flickering out – and then appearing around the Fire-type. Just as she could call certain types of powers from Berries, she could do the same from her leaves, and now she was enhancing the leaves to heal paralysis.

The Ninetales gradually relaxed, the rigidness of its body fading into something more natural. It wasn't as instantaneous as being healed with a Parlyz Heal, but it took about the same time as eating a Cheri Berry, with the same sort of effects. Rai drew back and cut off the weak jolts he had been sending to the fox Pokemon's muscles, and bleated again.

“That was fast. And not that hard....” Aaron remarked, his tone suddenly a great deal more respectful. The Ninetales lifted its head, looked at them and then got to its feet and leaped gracefully to the ground. Rather than leaving, it whined and flattened its ears, taking a few steps and then looking back at them. Torrent leaned forward and growled, but it lacked the threatening tone that Tala was so used to hearing.

“I think it wants us to follow. Its trainer or teammates might be here,” she observed, already following it. Over her shoulder, she told him, “That was easy – probably only a strong Thunder Wave. Almost too easy... anyone could have taken care of that.” She wasn't sure if her eyes were deluding her, but for some reason his grey eyes looked unfocused, as if he wasn't looking at anything at all. The moment passed, and he smiled at her.

“But everyone says you're one of the talented medics. Nothing can go wrong,” Aaron said confidently, and Tala wished he could share that confidence with her. Running a hand through her short brown hair, she wished she could trust the creamy-furred Fire-type in front of her. Once, she would have happily trusted any Pokemon she met, would have been confident that they wouldn't hurt her on purpose.... And now she was suspicious of almost all of them. It hurt, to think about the possibilities, to fear what had once been so normal.

The Ninetales stopped beside a human, about her age, with short hair and a strained expression on his face. Someone had strapped him down – there were red marks on his arms where the straps chafed. As she watched, he suddenly thrashed, as if trying to get away from an invisible enemy. Tala felt her insides clench with worry.

“I see....”

“He's confused,” Aaron offered tentatively, and she nodded. “But I thought... that you could snap out of that?” His eyes were on her, nervous and concerned and fearful, and she had to remind herself that she was the senior medic, and he was trusting her to know what to do.

She sighed, feeling the bitter taste of knowledge and experience. “Pokemon can use their moves on each other, because they've long since adapted to status effects and the types of things that would kill humans. Humans aren't used to that. Even an Ember, something so weak a Pokemon could shrug it off, would hurt a human badly. And status effects... those are serious, especially the ones like confusion or curses. Those aren't easy to heal on Pokemon, let alone humans.”

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, before opening them again. The Ninetales was looking at her, dark eyes wide and understanding and sorrowful, as if the Fire-type had read her mind. Then, it licked its trainer's hand, and then looked back at Tala. Her breath hissed out as guilt squeezed at her. “Alright.” she said aloud. “Alright, I'll do it. I'll try.”
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Old 10-21-2010, 11:43 AM
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Stormecho Stormecho is offline
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Default Re: Legend's Rage

I FEEL THE NEED TO POST EVERY CHAPTER SO PEOPLE CAN SEE HOW LONG IT TAKES TO UPDATE AFTER THIS, YAAAAY

I haven't finished Chapter Five and it's been months, damn it. >> Insert my usual rant about how much this chapter sucks, though I was really happy with it when I finished it. The subplot is starting to sneak in, though I think I've been way too subtle and my too subtle foreshadowing will soon bite me really hard once I keep going. Warning, loads of italics thanks to Tala, Redrick and telepathy. I should stop making pissy characters who emphasize half the stuff that comes out of their mouths.


Chapter Four – Funeral
The boy struggled again as they watched, crying out and thrashing around. Tala couldn't look away – he was her age, this could have been her if she hadn't been more careful – and she jumped when Aaron touched her arm, whirling around. “What is it?!” she snapped, ignoring his shock. His forehead was furrowed and he was frowning, looking more at the confused trainer than at her.

“Um... what do we do?” he asked carefully. “You've dealt with this before, right?” If he was seeking reassurance, she didn't give it to him.

“We need a Psychic-type. Those can mess with minds and cure something like this easily. Problem is... we don't have a Psychic-type. Or a Ghost Pokemon for that matter – they can screw with your head as well, and probably cure what they like causing... Shard's no good for this. Maybe I could find someone with an Alakazam or something like that once Sage calmed him down...” Wait. An idea struck her, and she wondered why she hadn't thought of it before. Was she so addled, so stressed out that she had completely missed the usual order of things? While Aaron was just a trainee, here to watch and learn from her, surely he had thought of it... Staring at him, she watched him shift nervously.

“What's wrong?”

“Aaron, tell me one thing... You're training to be a Pokemon medic, right?” The boy nodded. “You know whatever rudimentary stuff you learned to take care of wounds isn't going to work, right?” Another nod. “Then why haven't you taken out your Pokemon?” she hissed. She wasn't sure what she expected of him, what she thought was the reason, but thankfully the dark thoughts she had been harbouring weren't close to the truth. Aaron flushed and looked down.

“I... I forgot. Sorry.” he mumbled to the ground. It was good that he wasn't looking at her, because he didn't see Tala punch him in the stomach. Not hard enough to do anything beyond make him double over and gasp for a few seconds, but it got his attention. She kept a careful eye on Torrent, in case he decided to sidle over and accidentally bite Aaron's hand off. Once Aaron was straightening, looking bewildered and eyes watering, she took a step back, shooting a dark look at her starter to make sure he knew she was watching him. That made the Feraligatr settle back down, golden eyes half-closed as if he hadn't been planning anything at all. With that done, she turned back to her trainee.

“Don't fucking do that again.” she told him, voice rising. “Don't do that! Don't forget. You can't. There's nothing worse that you can do right now than slip up. Your Pokemon can fucking help you, that's what they're there for. To keep you from slipping up. Because you can't. No mistakes. Ever. Mistakes cost lives.” He was looking at her, confused and shocked, and she almost growled in frustration. It wasn't that difficult to understand. A mistake could kill someone. Forgetting to do something, messing up, could kill more than one person. Being too slow could kill hundreds... The answer to that solution was to be perfect, to never mess up, never make a mistake. Tala knew, in a detached way, that it was impossible, but that didn't stop her from trying.

“Alright,” he said meekly. “I won't forget again.” Tala would have kept glaring at him but a warm muzzle nudged her hand, and she looked down to see the Ninetales staring at her.

“Yeah, I know...” Another anguished cry from the trainer made her wince. She had more important things to do than berate Aaron. “Alright, fine, just don't do it again. What Pokemon do you have?” He still looked down, a hand drifting to his stomach. She snorted – she hadn't hit him that hard. He reached for a Pokeball on his belt and released it, the red light taking on a tall shape. Tala raised an eyebrow as the Pokemon tensed, holding up the blades on its arms as if expecting an attack. That only made Torrent growl warningly, with her Houndoom's deep rumble only a beat behind. She flapped a hand in her team's general direction, hating the long moment where they didn't comply before both fell silent.

“A Psychic-type, just when we need one... convenient. Next time, tell me when one of your Pokemon might be able to help. We wouldn't have wasted any fucking time.” He flinched as she turned her gaze towards the Gallade who was staring at her, eyes flat, betraying nothing. She groaned inwardly. She hated dealing with Psychics...

And why is that? She jumped at the dry voice in her head, even though she had been half-expecting it.

Tala glowered. “Because you always do that. All of you. Without any warning.” she hissed, but already her irritation was switching targets – she was just arguing when she could be saving the nameless trainer's life...

I am sorry, the Gallade said gravely, barely having to look up at her. He relaxed, arms at his sides and the threatening blades extending from them not pointed at anything in particular. There was a moment of silence while Aaron looked away, probably hoping she wouldn't yell at him again. What would you have me do?

That brought her up short for a moment – the Psychic Pokemon she usually encountered were often snobbish about the extent of their knowledge, and she tended to just try and focus on someone else while they did... whatever it was that they did. She didn't know. “Um... You know how to confuse someone, right?” That earned her a hard look and a nod, and she grimaced right back. “I thought you already knew.”

My partner is inexperienced. You are his mentor. Guide me.
Tala blinked at his solemn tone, and then shrugged. There were more important things to worry about – wondering why a Psychic was being polite could wait until she was half-asleep.

“I'm no expert on it, but from what I've been told... you take whatever you messed up to confuse someone, and you reverse it. I guess...” It seemed pretty simple, now that she thought of it – simple until she considered what could possibly have been done to make someone struggle and hurt themselves. The Gallade nodded as if that explained everything and stepped forward, red eyes closing to concentrate. “Quiet one, isn't he?” she muttered to Aaron, who had an odd look on his face. He was probably feeling sick... though she really hadn't hit him that hard. He was just a wimp.

--------------------------------
“Humans really are helpless.”

“Not really. Humans have guns, the ability to prod and cut things until they reveal the answers they want.”

“...I guess you would know.”

“What do you think of your mission?”

“Your choice is... different than what I thought I'd be facing.”

“This needs to happen. They need to be convinced that what they are doing is wrong.”

“With just one...?”

“It will be enough.”

“...This is all going to plan, of course. Everything that I've reported...”

“Of course.”


-----------------------------

Somehow, everything had gone smoothly. The Gallade – Aaron had shrugged when she asked if he had a nickname – was more than capable with dealing with confusion. All it had taken was two minutes of watching the Psychic-type stand there and suddenly the trainer had relaxed, going completely limp. To tell the truth, it furstrated her. Sometimes, it seemed like the Pokemon could do most, if not all of the work, and that the humans just got in the way. Maybe that was just the impression she got from dealing with her own Pokemon, who had gone through this so many times that they knew what to do by heart, but still... were humans really all that neccessary? Tala didn't voice that thought, not that she expected Aaron to give her a thoughtful answer. At least that infernal cheeriness had been pricked like a bubble, which meant she could think without being bothered.

Maybe she was being ungrateful, but there was something about Aaron that bothered her. A quality that she couldn't place that made her want to bash his head against a wall. It wasn't really his cheerful mood, or the apparent thoughtlessness he had just exhibited, but it was there, as annoying as if he had been smug or arrogant.

Something brushed against her hand, and she looked down, mystified, only to find Rai carefully nudging her palm. She had never gotten into trimming the Mareep's wool, and thus it sparked constantly – she had to be very, very careful about touching him. Scratching his muzzle, she looked over at Aaron, who was gazing at nothing in particular, with his Gallade standing nearby and doing... the exact same thing.

Which was just great.

“Hey!” she called out sharply, clapping her hands as loudly as she could manage. That got its intended effect: Aaron jumped, and the Gallade blinked before turning reproachful red eyes on her.

That was not neccessary.

“It was,” she retorted, glowering. “Don't we have something to do?” Torrent chose this time to swagger beside her, tail curling around her legs as he glared at both assistant and Pokemon. His golden eyes held no tolerance whatsoever, and though the Psychic-type didn't look fazed at all by the many-fanged threat, Aaron winced after a brief moment.

“Sorry,” he responded, not sounding very sorry at all. Still, Tala decided to settle for it, resting a hand on Torrent's shoulder to let him know his help was no longer needed. Snorting, the Feraligatr moved to inspect the patient now simply sleeping, ignoring the boy's Ninetales as if the canine was no more than a fly. Tala might have once found the scene funny – Torrent chose what to take offense at very carefully, and ignored everything else blissfully – but now she saw it as a delay.

“Come on.”

The sight of those she had to tend to, so many still and pale bodies laid out in neat rows and columns and numbers as if they were already dead, always made her feel sick. That feeling didn't fade now, and she didn't pay all that much attention to Torrent's immediate absence. He usually trailed her, but if he wanted to take a look at something, or avoid Aaron, she could certainly understand that. There were some patients she avoided on sight. The sweating, fevered ones, always too pale and limp, were poisoned, and she didn't have anything to do with those. Of course, those that were visibly tended to had no need of her, but she had to check over a great deal of them just in case. They had long since run out of ways to mark who was healing and who was still in need of help. Supplies were always far less than the demand, and the casualties only grew.

There were no simple wounds here. Burns and paralysis were the easiest to treat, and even that was only relative. Poisons were varied in duration and intensity. Sleep was the impossible 'standard' status effect. A Pokemon could wake up in a few minutes, but a human... a human slept deeply, just slept, but none of the patients they had that had been affected had shown any signs of stirring. She thought they might sleep until they died. Beyond the standard ones were those like attraction and confusion. The former was not really a problem – it didn't affect humans except to lure them in and occasionally make them momentarily stupid about how cute a Pokemon was. It caused deaths, but never anything that ended up here.

She stopped at someone who had been badly burned. There were no Pokeballs or anxious Pokemon waiting beside her – it could have been someone who didn't have any Pokemon, or maybe they were just all dead. Aaron was still trailing anxiously behind her, and she rounded on him suddenly.

“You know how to heal these?” she demanded sharply.

“Uh – yes, I do.”

“Good, deal with the smaller ones.” Raising her head from examining the burns, she called, “Torrent! Get over here!” There was no rumbling growl of assent, but she saw the Feraligatr turn from whatever he was looking at and lumber towards her. She laid a hand on his blunt snout, rubbing it affectionately while she talked. “The nice thing about burns is that a lot of the time, they're from inexperienced Pokemon that burn themselves as well as their trainers. But an agitated, trained Fire-type can do a lot more damage... and we don't have much we can do except soothe the pain.” She looked over at Aaron, who looked like he was listening intently, eyes wide and nodding occasionally. “What do we use for burns?” she prodded.

“An ointment, made up of Rawst and Oran or Sitrus Berries,” he answered, grey eyes serious. “But we're running out, aren't we?”

Tala sighed, glancing up at the sky. Over the disaster area, it was clear, the Psychic shield making it look rather greenish rather than clear blue. Looking over in any direction made it clear how fragile that little patch of blue sky was – heavy, grey clouds surrounded it. There was no end to them. There never was. “We need sun. And rain. And we don't have either.” It almost seemed like the world was dying... “Even back when we had them, Berries were expensive. They don't grow here, we had to get them shipped or waste a lot of money on trying to grow a tiny patch from seeds.” Bending over the nameless girl, she motioned to Torrent, who paused, jaws opening. The temperature dropped for a moment as frost formed on his fangs, and then he breathed out a fine, cold mist onto the injuries. Aaron watched carefully, and when the Feraligatr had stepped back, he approached and knelt, spreading the greenish ointment onto the smaller burns.

“What about Apricorns?” he asked cautiously, not looking up. Tala snorted.

“What about Apricorns?”

“Well, they grow here. Maybe the juice or pulp could be useful for healing. Pokemon eat them, right?”

That made her pause. “Apricorns...” she repeated, feeling cross. Why hadn't she thought of that? “I'll go tell Nemian once we're done for today. I'll even say that it was your suggestion.”

That only got a nod from him, and, sighing – she seemed to do too much of that – she turned her attention to their patient.

There was no way to know how much time passed, both of them bent with aching backs and stiff legs – when she looked up, the sun was a distorted gleam, already sinking behind the clouds. She made to get up when the girl they had been healing suddenly moved, her hand closing on Tala's wrist. Torrent started forward, but she motioned him back with her free hand, stomach churning. “Yes?” she said, voice soft, trying to be soothing. “What is it?”

The girl's blue eyes were glazed, but they stared through her. The grip on her wrist tightened, though she still could have freed her arm with ease. “Please...” Her voice rasped, low and urgent. “My Flareon... he's alright, isn't he?” Tala flinched, eyes stinging. “I raised him... raised him, since he was a baby. We were going to beat Erica...” A pause as she breathed in, her arm trembling. “Where is he?” Tala couldn't meet her eyes, hating herself for what she was about to do.

“You were badly burned and unconscious,” she recited, looking down and prying open the other's hand, getting her to let go. “You had some minor wounds besides the burns, mostly scratches. You were found in Celadon.” She choked out the last, most important word: “Alone.” She couldn't continue, couldn't say to her face that the Flareon had attacked her and was dead or running wild himself. Standing up, she pulled free and turned away, moving to get herself as far away from that confused, accusing gaze as possible.

She walked blindly, not caring where she ended up – she just needed to get away. She was only dimly aware that Aaron followed, and for once, the presence of her Pokemon was no comfort. If she hadn't been in Blackthorn at that moment, if she had continued on that stupid journey to the gyms, she might have wound up just like that girl – injured and alone, her Pokemon as good as dead. Flare moved forward to nuzzle her hand, and Sage chimed a note, both trying to improve her mood. She didn't stop until she felt a hand on her shoulder – when she whirled around, expecting Aaron, she found herself looking at a face that was only slightly more welcome.

“Woah, don't glare like that!” Redrick protested. “I'm not here to pester you or anything. That's his job.” A wave of his hand indicated Aaron, who was looking caught somewhere between pity and complete confusion. “In fact, I'm not here to talk to you at all.” Tala blinked and then tensed up as Redrick leaned forward, a grin spreading across his face. “I'm here to tell your Pokemon that it is, in fact, lunch time and I thought they might want to rest.” Still grinning triumphantly, he passed a hand through his red hair and then turned away, flapping a hand at Aaron. “You can rest for a bit as well.”

“But... all those people...” Aaron protested, grey eyes serious. Redrick managed to lose the smile for a moment, nodding.

“I know, there are a lot that we couldn't help. But we need to eat, and sleep, and all that. Being a medic doesn't mean you stop being mortal.” Tala had the feeling he was directing that comment to her as much as to Aaron, and was about to point it out when something heavy settled on her shoulder. Torrent grumbled loudly, apparently ignoring that he was pushing her down, even if only by a little. Knowing she had been tricked, Tala sighed.

“Redrick...”

“Don't say anything, my beloved banshee,” he drawled, grinning at Aaron, who still looked confused. “I know that I can get them all on my side in this case. You need to eat. And they are hungry, and they know you are too, and I can always suggest that your delightful bruisers of Pokemon can just stuff food down your throat. So, I think I've won, right?”

She glared. “And what was all that garbage about doing my duty and saving thousands that you spouted on the way here, huh? Should I just do what I'm supposed to when I feel like it?!” Torrent shifted, rough snout nuzzling the back of her neck for a moment comfortingly. The rest of her Pokemon were just watching silently – it was almost eerie. Aaron coughed.

“Um, I am hungry, so if you don't want to eat right now we could get you something for later...” He faltered as Redrick snorted, the sound scornful.

“Don't bother, she'll ignore it. Listen, Tala –” His gaze softened, though her retort hadn't fazed him at all. “You're right, we do what we have to... But doing what you have to means you have to take care of yourself so you don't slow yourself down later. I don't want to have to wake you up if you pass out over someone.” His sudden laugh invited her to take part, to joke about that little disaster that had happened back in the beginning of their work, when they had still been hopeful that whatever was happening would end quickly. Grimacing, she moved away from Torrent.

“Fine, whatever. Let's just stop wasting time.” The smile that bloomed across her partner's face almost made her feel guilty for forcing him to worry about her. He clapped her on the shoulder.

“There we go! Now let's fill our stomachs, and I know a nice diversion while we're eating as well... It'll make everyone feel better.” His green eyes sparkled with that pronouncement. Satsfied with his victory and confident that she would follow, Redrick dashed ahead. She followed at a slower pace, fidgeting. She could stay, she needed to help all those people. Aaron hesitated before falling into step beside her, managing to ignore Flare and Torrent flanking him.

“Uh, are you alright?” he asked awkwardly, scratching the back of his head. “It's just that, before, you looked...”

“Tired,” she finished for him, before he could say what he had meant. “I'm fine.”

“You did bring food, right?”

“Yes. No matter what Redrick makes it look like, I can and do take care of myself.” There was a quiet bleat somewhere behind her, probably from Rai. She kept her eyes fixed on the ground. “I never needed a little kid running around after me before, and I don't need it now, so you can stop bothering me!” She said it a bit more sharply than she had intended, and Aaron winced, an odd expression on his face. Shrugging – it wasn't like she cared if she hurt his feelings – she shoved him to one side and strode ahead, catching up with Redrick.

He led them to the very edge of the disaster area, examining the shimmering green wall that bordered it as if such an obstacle didn't matter. Tala kept well away, knowing how sensitive it was. Redrick hummed tonelessly, one of the habits that she hated. “A little fresh air should do us some good, you know,” he remarked carelessly. “I got clearance from Nem and everything. Aaron, I've heard you've got a Psychic-type?”

“Er, yeah...” A flicker of red light and the Gallade had returned. For a moment, he almost seemed hazy – but that was probably from the low thrumming of the massive Protect thrown around the area. He inclined his head and then waited in a nonchalant stance. Redrick nodded in approval.

“Right, so all we need is a small version of this shield. Calm Mind and Protect at the same time, should be easy enough.”

No.

Tala groaned. Psychic-types were always like this. Redrick raised an eyebrow. “No, it won't be easy?” he prodded.

No. There is also a Safeguard, to ensure nothing... The Gallade hesitated. So that nothing happens. A Calm Mind might not be enough. But I am quite capable of sustaining something of this sort, provided you stay close together. That explanation seemed satisfactory, because once Tala had called in all her Pokemon other than Torrent, and she had finally moved closer to Redrick and Aaron, the Gallade raised the shield. It was, surprisingly enough, not the green she was used to seeing but a pale blue. Not inclined to pay much attention, she waited impatiently as a small opening in the larger shield was made, and then closed behind them as the little group moved from sunlight into the gloom of heavy clouds.

Redrick claimed they wouldn't go far and they didn't – not beyond sight of the green shield and that brilliant patch of sky. Sitting on a rock, with the Gallade and Torrent standing guard, she finally ate something, barely tasting it. It wasn't difficult to spot what the Pokemon had done to Celadon. The tall buildings and elegant gardens were ruined, choked by rubble and surrounded by snaking, green vines. She found herself unable to look away, hating most the buildings that still stood, supported by wild greenery and somehow more broken than the houses that had toppled completely.

Aaron had been the first to finish eating, and he stood up suddenly, head tilting to one side as he looked at the city. His Gallade moved to stand beside, red eyes flat and expressionless. After a few minutes of that, the shield dropped for a moment. Redrick winced, eyes narrowing. “Hey –”

Look.

Those few buildings that still stood suddenly groaned, as if the city was something that was audibly dying. Slowly, one wall fell, surrounded by a blue glow, followed by another, and another, until a blanket of vines covered the destruction. Tala shook her head.

This place is dead. Humans will never live here again.

That statement was arrogant enough for her to scowl, hating the bitter truth that was there. “You never know. In a hundred years, maybe people will come back here and rebuild...” If humans were still alive then. That one act of destruction – so easily done as if a giant had simply swatted the buildings over with a massive hand – it bothered her. Even Redrick's mood was dampened as they turned back from the dead city. Back to life, and those fighting to live. Back to duty.

Back to the inevitable.
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Old 12-30-2010, 04:25 PM
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Stormecho Stormecho is offline
Maelstroms amidst steel
 
Join Date: June 25, 2008
Location: an ocean of procrastination
Age: 26
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Default Re: Legend's Rage

Ahahaha, I got this done and then forgot to update the thread. Typical. Well, now my non-existent readers are aware of how long it takes me to post a chapter. x3 This took ages to write, and I was so focused on getting the sudden horror that loads of bad stuff is happening. Forgive me the last part, which was my attempt at being totally cryptic and not giving too much away.

Chapter Five – A Wounded World

The day stretched on, the brief flickers of sunshine distorted, made into something rare and brief and utterly twisted. The blue sky was a welcome change from the clouds everywhere else, but the shield tinted all the light, so none of it felt... right. Tala had long since gotten used to it, as had Redrick – they simply didn't look up. Aaron, however, couldn't ignore it, and she found him staring up several times, frowning in thought. “Stop that,” she finally ordered, not pausing in studying a patient's hands. Blisters were beginning to form on the reddened skin, and her heart sank as she realized that she was dealing with frostbite. Aaron gave her another apologetic glance – it appeared he was good at looking pitiable – and drifted closer in case she needed something.

The patient was awake and complaining, but she felt he had a right to, even if he wasn't in mortal danger. “What Pokemon did this?” she asked carefully, and he grimaced.

“I was traveling with a group of friends for safety, you know? We thought if we got to a big city, it would be... safer. But one of them had a Glaceon, and it just snapped and started attacking. Our other Pokemon – they stopped it, but not before we got hit with Icy Wind. When we finally got here, they sent us all to this section for frostbite.” She frowned, and he, seeing an opening, added “And this fucking hurts, you know? Can you stop staring and do something about it? You have a Fire-type right there.”

Tala gritted her teeth. What he was asking was so simple, and if she had proper medical knowledge, she could have done something confidently, knowing she was right. But she – and everyone else – operated in a limited field. The Pokemon Centres held the useful documents, and they had all been destroyed. The trained nurses could pass on their knowledge, but specific, little things didn't matter as much as knowing how to keep someone alive for the next few hours. Berries and Pokemon and the old remedies only helped so much. So she was at a loss here. There was no time for experimenting, because he was still alive and would likely keep his hands – she had to be happy with that. “I can't,” she said slowly, hating the bitter shame in her words.

He stared at her. She knew what disbelieving question would spring to his lips, so she cut it short.

“Look, I don't know if applying heat to the rest of your body will help or hurt you, so I can't use Flare to just melt it, so shut up and sit there while I do what works,” she explained in a rush. “Aaron, get a bowl.” She didn't bother looking up – she could hear him running off. She hadn't dealt with frostbite often, but she knew that the ugly blisters would eventually harden and turn black – but she didn't think he was in trouble. Really, Aaron could do this.... All it required was patience, which she certainly didn't have. Maybe she shouldn't have been gleeful about having an assistant – she certainly wasn't glad, not when he was so annoying and inexperienced, but she had never been able to delegate before. There was still something about him that bothered her, that sometimes he was too absent, too focused on something else....

It could be just her general annoyance with people who wasted her time. It would be so easy to simply pass it off as that.

“So why can't you just heat up my arms, or whatever?”

She lifted her gaze from her patient's reddened hands and scowled at him. “Because the difference in temperature might fry your nerves. I can't be sure, so it's easier to just do what's always worked.” Not that she had to do this often, but at least she knew what the usual treatment was. “Just be glad we don't have to chop anything off.” He paled, and she tried not to look pleased that she had shut him up. Aaron returned quickly enough with the promised bowl. She set it on the ground and watched as Torrent began to fill it with water, the Feraligatr controlling what usually would have been a blast. That had been one of the hardest things when they were learning – all her Pokemon had to learn control, more than the power they had focused on before.

When the bowl was almost full, the Water-type drew back, giving enough room so that Flare could curl around it. Tala backed up as well, wincing as a wave of heat hit. The Houndoom looked quite fierce, fire roiling around his jaws and muscles tensed. She knew – from considerable experience – that his body constantly radiated heat, but whenever he used a Fire-type move, that heat increased. The water in the bowl hissed, warming up quickly, but only once it began to steam did he let the flames dwindle, a few spurting out to lick at the air. Tala waved a hand through the air over it, winced again and carefully picked it up. It was, expectedly, hot, and she was more than happy to set it down beside the trainer.

“Here. Dip your hands in this. Aaron, you might have to help him. Flare, stay –” A low, troubled whine made her heart twinge, but she fought back the impulse to give in. Damn it, he knew how to make her regret orders. “Stay. Keep the bowl hot.” And she fled before she could chance a look at him.

Sometimes she doubted if it was wise to keep her Pokemon out all the time. What if the shield failed? And it was difficult, to have an escort this large. Torrent was slow-moving out of water and when not on all fours, and though Shard and Flare could keep pace with her easily, there just wasn't enough room for them, the hulking Water-type and both Sage and Rai. Senica thought she trusted too easily, but she couldn't bear to keep her Pokemon trapped in Pokeballs all the time. And really – though she hadn't ever said this, as Redrick would have found someone for counselling immediately – if she had to die, she would rather have been killed by her Pokemon than the mindless fury of a swarm. Of course, she knew that act would cause them pain, and she didn't want that, but....

“Tala!” That was Senica's voice, harsh with alarm. She didn't even bother asking what was wrong – she just ran.

---
“This seems kind of unneccessary.”

“Does it?”

“I mean, I report directly to you anyways – there's no real point in bothering to –”

“Call it a hunch. Do not worry, I will not remain for long.”

“Really?”

“I merely wish to check something. You will see soon.”

---

She hadn't been sure what she was expecting to see – some sort of massacre, maybe, or a wounded Pokemon that had attacked everything around it – but when she came to a stop beside Senica, there was only one person, a simple human being. Defenseless, without a Pokemon, and hunched over on the ground. “What's wrong?” she demanded. The man wasn't someone she recognized, but Flare began to growl, red eyes fixed on him as he rocked back and forth. “Is he hurt?” Senica flapped a hand at her for silence, glaring daggers, and she shut up, watching the man. He looked like a medic, if anything, and apparently uninjured, but... something about how he held himself, arms wrapped around his knees, made her skin crawl.

He suddenly lifted his head to stare at them, and she took a step back involuntarily. His eye sockets looked bruised, as if he hadn't been sleeping well. That wasn't the unnerving thing, but his eyes seemed to be locked on something behind them. She shrank back, welcoming the solid comfort of Torrent behind her. Senica wasn't as easily scared, and just knelt down. “Hey, Hunter. You remember me and Tala, don't you?” she said gently, words slow and soothing.

He nodded jerkily, still looking past them. Tala relaxed, assuming Senica would know how to deal with whatever problem he had, but his words shattered that illusion.

“You're real, right?”

Senica stared at him, and Tala shivered. There was something so wrong here. His lips twitched, and his eyes flicked behind them again. “You have to be real. I think you're real, not a dream – not a dreamdreamdream...”

She couldn't help it, backing up even more, hating herself for it. She could take wounds and death but not, not this. He noticed her movement, fixed his gaxe on her, and said wistfully, “He says sorry, in my dreams. He says sorry, but he does it anyways, so I can't sleep, and perchance to dream – the shadows move, you know, they move and chase me while he apologizes...” Her skin wasn't crawling anymore – she felt cold, shuddering because of his words, his detached tone, the look in his eyes.

“What the – what the fuck,” she managed to whsiper, her voice trembling. Shitshitshit, she had never thought that their shields were perfect, but Pokemon weren't supposed to go insane inside them – and never humans, but this guy... he terrified her. No, not him, but what she saw in his eyes, in the exhaustion and fear there.

“Tala! Get a hold of yourself,” Senica snapped, and she shrank back, clinging to Torrent as a lifeline. This was wrong, so so wrong... she wanted to throw up. Retch again and again, try to get rid of the sight of his eyes. There was a sickly sounding sob, and she dimly realized that the man – Hunter, Senica had called him – was laughing or crying, or maybe both, shoulders trembling with the effort. “Come on, he needs help –”

But she was backing away. She couldn't help him, couldn't bring herself to go near. She needed to get away. Ignoring the concern and rage in the other medic's voice, she turned and moved blindly away, falling into a stumbling sort of run. She had no fear of outdistancing her Pokemon – she could see Shard pacing her, paws tapping lightly on the ground. Gradually, she realized he was sheperding her, nudging her to the left or the right, and eventually she ended up in front of a startled Aaron, with her Houndoom beside him and his own Pokemon looming right behind.

“Tala! You – you look... terrible,” he said awkwardly. “What happened?” She stared at him blankly, and then closed her eyes, trying to block everything out. A warm muzzle pushed against her hand as Flare trotted over to her side, and Shard leaned against her leg, both of them doing their best to comfort them. How pathetic, really. She couldn't do this – could never do this. Why couldn't she go back to how it had started out, a girl and a Totodile on a path at night, possibilities all expanding from that one moment? Why?

She hadn't wanted to heal people and cover her hands with their blood, to see them die, to hear them ask for their Pokemon and feel that same claw of fear clench around her heart, a reminder that her Pokemon could die, her lifelines could be cut away. She hadn't wanted to be stuck with a partner who noticed too much or a crazy apprentice who bothered her in a way she couldn't pin down.

Back then – if she could just forget all of this and go back – back then, it had been so simple.

The slow, lumbering footsteps of Torrent – the Feraligatr's gait distinctive because of the dragging sound of his tail – announced that the rest of her party had arrived. Suddenly aware that Aaron was probably still staring at her, she muttered a gruff, “I'm fine,” turning away and scrubbing at the dampness on her cheeks. “It was just – it was nothing. You're done with this... this section?”

He let his breath out in a long sigh. She was suddenly grateful that he seemed so... meek – Redrick would have persisted in asking, but Aaron just accepted it. “Not... not quite. There's one last person I wanted you to take a look at. I... don't know what to do.” The Gallade – she had thought him almost a statue, just standing there quietly – finally moved, eyes flicking to the side and shifting his weight. Maybe he had said something to Aaron, maybe not. Regardless, she was too tired and shaken to bother asking.

“Sure, whatever. Show me.”

The walk was short, but before they had even gotten there she was feeling even more nervy. Shard – one of the most quiet of her party – was growling softly, and he bristled as he paced her. Rai had stopped at one moment and bleated nervously, and Sage's flowers spun ceaselessly on her head, too-rich scent wafting around her at erratic intervals. They knew something was up, something bad, and Tala knew she wasn't prepared to see someone going crazy again.

She wrinkled her nose, filled with relief, as Aaron led her to what was probably a female trainer. Her eyes were closed and she was breathing evenly, but her skin was covered in what looked to be a hundred tiny cuts, each shallow but bleeding. A few bandages had been tied into place, but otherwise, she had been left alone. Strange, but... It probably looked far worse than it was. “Why is that one even here? It looks like she got hit by Razor Leaf or something like that. I hope you don't have problems with bandaging wounds,” she managed to say mockingly, but the words dried up as Aaron solemnly pointed to a patch of bare skin on the girl's shoulder.

As if a tiny knife was gouging the flesh, a new cut opened up, done by nothing that she could see. A second one soon followed, both identical to the others.

Now she had her answer for why her Pokemon had been so uneasy – this was just... wrong. The same way that medic had looked, now that she thought of it. “What – what is it?” she demanded, clenching her hands into fists so they wouldn't tremble.

A curse, the Gallade suddenly answered. From a Ghost Pokemon.

“Can you stop it?”

The Psychic-type stepped forward, reaching out one bladed arm and holding it over the girl's head. There was a brief blue glow, and then he stepped back again. No. The Pokemon who laid it sacrificed its life to ensure the curse would continue. There was something like pity in those eerie, red eyes, but she ignored it. All she heard, all she cared about, was the denial.

“You're giving up,” she hissed, unable to look away. One of the bandages was growing steadily more blood-soaked, the cuts probably deepening over time. This close, she could smell the metallic reek of too much blood, see how it was going to stain and spread until the girl died.

She didn't want this – didn't want to do this, to be forced to do something, but standing there and watching her die was the only other option, and she couldn't, wouldn't do that. Being a medic was better than watching, wasn't it? It meant she was... a better person, right?

I am not. Was his 'voice' colder than before?

“You fucking are, she's going to die,” she gritted out, and ignored the muffled sound of protest Aaron made. Before she could move, the Psychic-type stepped away and towards her. He was barely shorter than her, and she couldn't look away from his gaze.

Very well, then. There was something old, wisdom stretching far beyond what she could comprehend. Save her.

She stared at him – he stared back, silent and unmoving. It wasn't a challenge. “Aaron, more bandages, whatever you have for cleaning, and then stay out of my way,” she said tightly. The Gallade slid past her without another word, and she focused on the girl in front of her, binding every wound, desperate to staunch the bleeding and close the wounds and fix it.

Why had this happened? What had this random girl, this victim, done to deserve this? She was still sleeping, her look of calm somehow worse than if she had been struggling as every new cut was carved into her skin. And yet she was surely bleeding to death – it wouldn't clot, and every time she paid attention to one, another would open, or five, as if the curse was mocking her. The Gallade had given up. She wouldn't. She wouldn't let her die – she was going to live if Tala had to drag her out of the mouth of hell.

When she closed her eyes, she saw red, and her mouth tasted of blood.

Aaron once tried to tell her something, but she ignored him, blocked out his words. He wasn't important – couldn't he see that she had a duty? That she had to do this?

Her fingers were covered in blood. She couldn't remember having ever seen so much before. The light was bad, wavering as if it was already dusk – but she didn't look up to check. She couldn't spare any time for distractions, for feeling how tired she was or noticing that her hands were shaking. That all didn't matter. There was the light sound of footsteps behind her – probably Aaron checking up on her, trying to see if she had given up yet. Her Pokemon weren't near her – that was strange, but maybe they had gone to check on other patients, or to eat or... something. More footsteps, closer.

“Leave me the fuck alone. Can't you see I'm busy?” she snapped.

She is dead.

Her head snapped up and she stared at the Gallade that had stepped out in front of her again. “Get away! You're wrong – you're wrong, you've got to be, she's still breathing, I can still save her...” The words came out in a rush, broken apart with sobs as she struggled to focus on the body in front of her. The girl, not the body, she was still alive...

Her chest didn't rise or fall under her hands. Tala froze, and then her fingers scrabbled to find a pulse, ignoring the feeling of blood dried and still wet on her hands.

When?

Why hadn't she noticed? Why? She was a goddamn medic, she was supposed to know, supposed to tell when people died –

You are also sixteen years old, said the voice in her head, soothing and infuriatingly calm. You were given formal training for a year and then sent out and expected to improvise. You are tired. Excuses – reasons for why she failed, obstacles and stumbling blocks that she couldn't blame her failures on because she could be better than this, save more lives –

His eyes were glowing blue, she noticed vaguely, a strange light that made his form shimmer and ripple like a mirage. Enough. You cannot save everyone. A pause, and then the voice sounded... more solemn, and she could have imagined regret in his eyes. You will not save everyone. I am sorry. She knew that – she fucking knew that, had known that all along, but couldn't she save one more person, just one more when she tried?

Her mouth opened, and she was about to tell him to shut up, to get out of her way, out of her head, but he stretched out a flickering arm, his eyes blazed with blue fire, and there was a sudden layer of meaning, hidden depths that yawned open for her to sense. Rest.

---
Muffled voices, like she was hearing them through water. “Holy shit, what happened?”

“There was... a girl. She was cursed. We couldn't do anything, but...”

“Yeah, yeah, I get it. She had to pick now to do this again, didn't she?” There is a slight shift in the world, but she can't force her eyes to open. A low rumble wove itself into the conversation. “Yeah, Torrent, just stand still and I'll just...” Something was under her, sturdy and immovable, and she clung to it. Why was she so... sleepy?

“Er... again?”

“It's nothing – she works too hard, you know? Come on, let's go –” The voices faded, and it was so hard to think...
---

The girl slid off of her Feraligatr's back, hitting the sleeping bag and still not stirring. She doubtless would wake up in the morning, well rested. Maybe not even bothered by the events of the day before – it was easy to believe, looking at her relaxed face. If one were to move through the uneasy peace of the medics' camp, they would see the brows of those meditating on the barrier crease in confusion. They would see medics and Pokemon gripped in nightmares, unable to wake up. They would see a Gallade, standing silent watch over the barrier – except when the light of the wavering shield flared, and for a moment, the Gallade was not.

They would see something like a phantom – no, two, curves reflected only when they passed through the light - slip through the shield, ghost through the camp on unseen, still wings. They would see Pokemon turn their heads, awaken and watch them pass. They would see the ghosts hover over some tents, as if in benediction, and pass through others unnoticed by the human occupants.

And through it all, many eyes watched them go.
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