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Old 04-18-2018, 06:54 PM
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Join Date: July 20, 2008
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Default A Fine Day for the Apocalypse

Warnings: Just a little bit of cursing, courtesy Rick.

Author's Notes: It's Butterfree's birthday!

Or it was... exactly two months ago now... *cough*

In any case! I was going to do something kind of silly like I normally do, but the humor just wasn't working, so I ended up scrapping my initial ideas and going for something rather more melancholy instead. (We'll have no happy, uplifting birthdays here!)

After reading Chapters 74/75 of The Quest for the Legends, I was wondering what might be up with some of the minor characters who didn't end up making to (SPOILER) the fight between Mewtwo˛ and Chalenor/Chaletwo. Since (SPOILER) the Destroyer's pulse and Mewtwo˛'s power could apparently be felt quite some distance away, I figured they'd have some idea of what was up, but for one reason or another not be able to participate in the actual confrontation. I thought it might be fun to think about how they'd handle the situation, which led to this little thought-experiment story that's no doubt going to get thoroughly jossed when Chapter 77 is published. (Hopefully soon, yeah? ;) )

Anyway, a very late happy birthday to Butterfree, and I hope you enjoy a somewhat more speculatory, angsty bithday one-shot than usual!

This story is absolutely full of SPOILERS for the last few chapters of The Quest for the Legends! Don't read if you want to remain unspoiled.

A Fine Day for the Apocalypse

mark_g [One Week Ago]: It’s coming soon. Mrs. Riverstone wanted Robin home. There might be room in her shelter. We’re still searching.

--

Martha had wanted Robin home, And Robin hadn't even argued much about it, which was the worrying thing. Whatever had happened while she was out with Mark and May and the others, she still wouldn't talk about it.

Martha watched Robin through the window over the kitchen sink. She was nearly out of sight, still in the yard but only barely, with her pokémon as usual. Ryan was at the kitchen table, clattering away at his laptop with his letaligon stretched out under the table like a giant foot warmer. He said he was trying to map Mew's location over time, based on historical sightings as well as recent reports. Martha gathered he wasn't having much luck, but he was more than happy to talk about it, at length, with anyone who showed even the faintest interest.

It felt wrong that he was the only one here, that all the other kids had decided their work was more important than their safety. They were all out doing whatever it was that had robbed Robin of her smile and her giddy energy. Children, all of them, and Martha had strong suspicions about why Chaletwo had so specifically targeted kids with his recruitment campaign.

Legendary or not, Martha had some strong words ready for him, whenever this apocalypse blew over.

"Are you doing all right, Ryan?" she asked. "Do you need anything?"

"I'm doing okay, Mrs. Riverstone," he said. "But if you have any more of those cookies, I wouldn't--"

A tremor rippled through the kitchen, rattling the pots hanging over the sink. Martha grabbed the edge of the counter to steady herself. One of the chairs scraped noisily across the floor as Letaligon stuck his head out from under the table, making nervous grunts at his trainer.

"What was that?" Ryan asked. He was pressing his laptop down on the table with both hands, like he was afraid another tremor might knock it to the floor.

"I don't know," Martha said. She was already moving, already thinking, following the familiar cycle of triage and execution that had served her through so many years as Safari Zone warden. A tremor like that wasn't normal; they were nowhere near a fault. But a glance out the window both confirmed that Robin had felt the shake--she was in full flight towards the house--and found no sign of an attacking pokémon. If Martha hadn't been waiting for weeks for a sign, for the sudden start of the end of the world, it would have been nothing. She would have written it off as some freak seismic thing, just a minor shake, nothing to worry about, and she would have brought the cookies over for Ryan.

But the legends were about to go to war, supposedly. There was something else, too. Something didn't feel right.

"We need to get to the shelter," Martha said, one hand compulsively checking her pokéballs. "Now."

"What's--what?" Ryan soothed Letaligon with one hand, his palm leaving a wet splotch behind on his laptop.

"I don't know, but I feel like something's wrong. We'll go to the shelter, and if it turns out to be a false alarm, it's a false alarm. But for now, let's go."

A kitchen chair clattered and crashed against the floor; somehow Letaligon had gotten his horns tangled in it. Ryan stammered and clumsily hefted his laptop; Martha would have told him to leave it, but that argument would have wasted more time than letting him struggle with it. By the time he'd recalled Letaligon and gotten to the door the strange tension that had been nagging at Martha had turned into a very real crushing, sickening headache.

Robin met them just outside, pale and out of breath. She'd kept Luxray out, prowling alongside her with fur raised and sparking. Martha didn't tell her to recall him while they piled down into the shelter, even though he was in serious danger of upsetting a shelf of canned food where he crouched in a protective huddle around Robin.

The shelter was cold and too bright, lit by one glaring LED lamp that left long shadows in the corners but turned the flat white paint on the walls almost incandescent. The air was filled with the sweet, sappy smell of new-cut timber from the bare joists overhead.

The psychic pressure had only gotten worse, and the lamp had taken on a shimmering halo, warning of an incoming migraine, but Martha forced herself to take stock anyway. She hadn't been serious enough about buying supplies. There was enough to last a month, maybe, if they minimized the time their pokémon stayed out. Hopefully they wouldn't need much food or water at all--Chaletwo claimed his apocalypse would be over quickly--but she didn't trust him to know what he was talking about.

Of course, she'd trusted enough to build this shelter, taking him at his word that there was some chance of riding out the war. But foolish hope wasn't going to stop her from stocking up on drinking water.

"There's no signal!" Ryan already had his laptop open on his knees. "The wi-fi, it's not--" He sounded strangled. He shot Martha a pleading look, then glanced up at the ceiling, maybe realizing how silly it was to have expected router to be installed in the underground bunker.

Robin had her Pokégear out, too, even though it couldn't be receiving. She had it clenched white-knuckled in her hands, open to some chat app.

Martha scooted closer to her daughter and nudged Luxray aside to work an arm around Robin's shoulders. Luxray stared at her with disapproving golden eyes, but he didn't try to stop her.

"They think it's Rick," Robin said tightly, staring at the Pokégear's tiny screen. "Him and his Mewtwo clone, the one his brother used in the League finals."

Mrs. Riverstone wanted to tell her they would be safe here, but she'd promised herself long ago that she wouldn't lie to her child.

"Mom, I told him. His brother, it was May's tyranitar that killed him, and I..."

Martha's chest filled up with ice. This was it, she thought, the great something Robin had been keeping from her.

"It's okay," Ryan said. He was talking to Robin, but it was Martha he was watching, nervously. "They weren't planning to go after Mewtwo˛ anyhow. It would have happened no matter what. And Mark and May... they're fine. You were right, he deserved to know what happened. What he did after... That's on him."

So Robin had been talking to him instead of Martha. No surprise. He was close to Robin's age, and though Martha hoped Robin knew she wouldn't judge, no one wanted to think they'd disappointed their mother.

"I wanted to be just like her," Robin said, to Martha or Ryan or maybe no one at all. Martha could feel her shaking. "I thought she was so cool, and I--when I found out, I was just so confused, and angry, I--"

Luxray rumbled and butted his head against Robin's shoulder when she started to sob, but all she did was curl inward, still holding the Pokégear tight with both hands. There was nothing Martha could do but sit there and hold her while she cried and the psychic force bore down like the judgement of some wrathful god. She didn't know what Robin was talking about, really, and probably wouldn't until her daughter had calmed down a bit. She had a feeling, though, that after all this was over--they would survive--after all this was over, Martha got the sense that she would need to have words with more than just Chaletwo.

--

th31337 [Today 14:18]: guys did you feel that?

darkboyouen [Today 14:18]: @mark_g what's happening?

alank22 [Today 14:21]: Mark?

alank22 [Today 14:21]: May?

darkboyouen [Today 14:26]: ...anybody?

darkboyouen [Today 14:26]: Do you feel that?

darkboyouen [Today 14:27]: It feels psychic.

alank22 [Today 14:28]: yeah feel it over here

alank22 [Today 14:28]: Sparky says he thinks it might be Mewtwo2


--

Tyranitar hardly noticed the shake. They couldn't keep him in a room that would break under an earthquake, so nothing big happened. He hadn't tried to use earthquake, but he knew it wouldn't work because humans were smart.

So maybe he felt something happen, or maybe it actually didn't. After a few seconds he put his head down again.

There wasn't much to do. There were other pokémon in other cells, but they didn't want to talk to him, and he didn't really want to talk to them, either. The humans came and tried to talk to him way too often, and them he really didn't want to talk to. They asked so many questions, it was hard to keep up. It was hard not to say something that would make them angry at Trainer. He couldn't do that. He'd already failed Trainer too many times.

Here was better than wild, though. At least it was warm, and dry, and the humans brought food, good food like Trainer used to give him. It was lonely, but so was being wild. Other pokémon ran away from him. Even other tyranitar didn't like him. They weren't mean like they wanted to hurt him, but they didn't want to be near him, and they acted like there was something wrong with him. Some told him to go back and be with humans. Some were nice and gave him things, but they didn't really like him, he could tell. And that was only sometimes. The rest of the time it was just him, and when it was cold he got cold, and when it was wet he got wet, and when he was hungry there was nothing to eat.

Human prison wasn't so bad, and he was helping Trainer by being here. He had to find some way to have Trainer stop being mad at him, so then she would take him back.

Tyranitar stretched his head up and sniffed the air. He felt funny. There had only been a little shake, but it felt like something more was coming. Tyranitar grunted and shook himself, his back spines clattering and scraping against the wall. He itched all under his armor, which was the worst kind of itch.

Tyranitar heaved himself off the big metal shelf that was his bed. He wanted to move, but the room was too small for him to take more than a couple steps. His tail dragged behind, and he almost tripped on it when he turned to go back the other way.

What was this feeling? He knew it. It had happened before. He sniffed the air again, but there was nothing there. It felt like there was something wrong inside, like maybe he ate something bad. It was getting worse, too. The more he thought about it, the more it felt like--

Tyranitar stopped walking. The itch was getting worse, but it wasn't just an itch. It was wrong. Now Tyranitar remembered. This was the feeling he got from the bad pokémon. It was the bad pokémon who'd beat him, who'd made him let Trainer down, and it was back. Again.

Tyranitar pushed up against the front of his cell, straining so the forcefield sparked and shimmered with energy, and it even bent a little, so he could see farther down the hall. Nobody there. The feeling was getting stronger, though, so the bad pokémon must be coming closer. Why was it here? Was it going to kill Tyranitar this time? Had it figured out who Trainer was?

It had been here before. It came with a human, one Tyranitar had never met but who smelled too much like the bad human. That one was bad, too. He was angry, and he kept asking questions about why Tyranitar killed the bad trainer, about who made him do it and did a human tell him to? Was it another trainer? Who was it?

It was even worse than when the other humans asked him things. At least they didn't hurt him. The other bad human got mad and he shouted and he told the bad pokémon to hurt Tyranitar. That was wrong. The bad pokémon shouldn't be able to hurt Tyranitar, Trainer told him that. But he was too weak, so it did. This time the bad pokémon didn't throw tyranitar around, but it made him feel like his brain was getting crushed. It made everything hurt, and it got dark like Tyranitar was going blind,

Tyranitar backed up, then threw himself forward as hard as he could. It wasn't that hard, because there was no room for him to really jump, but it still made the shield shake and light up colors. He didn't want to be here if the bad pokémon was coming back.

The other walls were some kind of rock, not see-through, but they were still stronger than normal rock. Tyranitar had tried to scratch them, but he couldn't make a mark. He tried again, and roared when it didn't work. The bad pokémon was still coming closer.

He had to get out. Tyranitar snarled and punched the wall. He tried an earthquake now, and it made the room shake, but it didn't break anything. So Tyranitar used one dark pulse, and then another, and the shield over the front of the cell fizzed and glowed but stayed where it was.

The other pokémon were yelling at him. Tyranitar could hear them, even though he couldn't see them unless he went to the front of his cell. There were guard-humans running, which was strange because they didn't come the last time the bad pokémon was here, and that time Tyranitar was almost as loud as now.

The human who smelled too much like the bad human had come right up to the front of the cell, and Tyranitar had thought he might try to come inside. But no, all he did was stand outside and yell, I know you didn't do it on your own, I know you had a trainer, who is it? Who is it I'm going to find them, I'm going to find them and I'm going to kill them, and then I'm going to kill you, and the longer you hold out the longer it's going to hurt you stupid reptile, do you understand me? I'm going to fu*cking murder your trainer and tear their fu*cking head off and bring it here for you to see, and then I'm going to kill you, too.

And all the time the bad pokémon was hurting him, making it feel like he couldn't breathe, making him feel like his armor was squeezing and he was going to get squished out between its cracks, and how could he have told the human anything, even if he'd wanted to?

The guard-humans were standing and looking at Tyranitar. They didn't move when he tried to claw through the shield again.

"No sign of what set him off," one said.

"What, like you're wondering? What's setting everybody off?"

"No sign of that, either."

"Just sedate him and let's go, then. We haven't got time for this!"

Tyranitar crashed his shoulder against the shield. He couldn't reach the humans. One went over to a glowing thing on the wall and made fingers at it, the way humans do. Tyranitar didn't know what it meant, but then the ceiling hissed and powder started falling down. He knew that. Butterfree used powder all the time.

Tyranitar ducked his head and covered his face, but the powder fell all over him and the floor and down in the cracks in his armor and even though he tried not to breathe he had to breathe, and then it was in his nose, too.

The humans were already going away. Tyranitar tried to roar, but his voice was almost gone. He tried to grab the shield, but his claws slipped right off and he fell, and when he tried he couldn't get up.

He was weak. Tyranitar pushed against the floor, but he couldn't even lift himself a little bit. Everything got dark, and then he realized his eyes were closed, and it was so hard to get them open. He had been too weak to win for Trainer, and too stupid to do what she wanted, and he was still weak and still stupid. Now the bad pokémon was coming and probably it would kill him this time. Tyranitar could feel it in his head, even stronger now. Much stronger than last time.

Tyranitar was weak, and he was never going to see Trainer again. But maybe that was okay. Trainer didn't need weak pokémon. If Tyranitar couldn't be strong, then this was exactly where he belonged.

--

brightshadezz [Today 14:31]: Alan and I are going to teleport to the signal

brightshadezz [Today 14:31]: hopefully Mark and May are already there

brightshadezz [Today: 14:31]: Leah, are you there?

alank22 [Today 14:36]: Leah are you coming?

alank22 [Today 14:36]: We have to go now. Sparky's ready.


--

Carl was used to tremors. They were so common in Crater Town that even a big shake wouldn't wake him, despite how light he slept these days. He'd rise in the morning with no sense of what had happened until he saw the report from the local monitoring station. When the room shook, Carl paused, the notes he'd been writing ending on a weird scribble where his hand had slipped. He would have gone right back to work if the Pokégear on his desk hadn't gone off. The screen lit up with a message from one of Chaletwo's kids: "guys did you feel that?"

The little device started buzzing nonstop with speculation, and by the time Carl got off the phone with Mayor Daniels there was a strange feeling in the air. Chaletwo's kids might actually be right. It might actually be happening.

Whatever it was, exactly. What was Carl supposed to think when a boy showed up in town, babbling about some legendary's plan for world domination, and then turned out to be right about the dragon trapped under their feet? What was he supposed to think when the boy showed up again, babbling like before but now claiming something entirely different was going on?

Carl saw three options: one, the boy was lying or insane. Two, he was telling the truth. Or three, the boy was lying or insane, but unaware of it.

Carl spared a glance for the safe that still held Volcaryu's ultra ball. He could have gotten it open if he'd really wanted to. He'd been tempted after that boy showed up a second time, so desperate to be sure Carl wouldn't take the dragon for a joyride. It must have been dreadfully important to Chaletwo to keep the other legendaries out of his way. But it would be dangerous to let the dragon out without a better understanding of what was going on, dangerous in unknown quantity, and it wasn't like even a super-powered fire dragon would stand a chance against something that could kill just by looking at you. Volcaryu stayed where it belonged.

The Pokégear was still buzzing with notifications while Carl grabbed a bag from the cabinet behind his table. The name Leah caught his eye, and he paused.

alank22 [Today 14:36]: Leah are you coming?

alank22 [Today 14:36]: We have to go now. Sparky's ready.


Carl gave himself a moment. Now more than ever it was important not to rush. That was one thing Chaletwo's little cabal could stand to learn. But that's what the psychic got for recruiting children--and one young and impressionable gym leader--for its master plan.

Carl carefully pecked out, "Can't. Felix is down. I'm heading to the center now. You go. I'll catch up."

It wasn't a great alibi, but Carl doubted anyone would be thinking clearly enough to doubt it. It was hard enough for Carl himself to keep his wits about him, with the way the air was pulsing fit to split his skull.

The girl would be joining the rest of Crater Town in the underground shelter, of course, and her alakazam was safe in police custody. Carl had been very careful to impress on Constable Wilder the importance of keeping this particular trainer under close watch, in case any of her friends got wind and decided to come and break her out. Wilder had been kind enough to loan him the girl's Pokégear, too, protocol be damned. Depending on how things went down today there wouldn't be any protocol left to damn anyway.

Carl shook his head as he shut the gym's door behind him, didn't bother with the lock. It had been sheer luck he'd caught her, seen her walking down the street plain as punch, thinking Chaletwo's mind-foolery would keep her covered. And how many times had it? How many times had she gone wandering through his town--hell, maybe even challenged him in his gym--and no one had noticed?

It was only his hunch that there might be something fishy with the other kids Chaletwo had killed that had saved him. Leah's name was there in the paper, and her picture with it, and for all that she was supposed to be dead she was still out and about, using the PC system, the pokémon centers, under her own damn name. Fraud, which was enough to land her under Constable Wilder's watch. And they never would have caught her if he hadn't found that photo and recognized her through the haze Chaletwo had put on him and everybody else. Carl was darkly pleased at that. He didn't care for pokémon messing with his head.

Chaletwo must have done a number on the girl, same as the boy who'd wanted to catch Volcaryu. She protested the whole time Wilder was booking her, saying she needed to be able to help Chaletwo, once it had been established that Carl knew who she really was. All that frantic loyalty, when after all Chaletwo had killed her, made her family forget her, turned her into a living ghost. And she still believed he was on her side. All of them did. A funny tremor sets up, and what's the first thing they do? Try to get in contact with the boy, Mark, and ask what Chaletwo thought about it.

Of course Mark's group had gone quiet the moment all this nonsense started. Whoever would have guessed?

Carl snorted and stuffed Leah's Pokégear into his pocket. Psychic suggestion was a hell of a drug. If Chaletwo could put the whole damn region under a spell of forgetfulness, it was no surprise he could mislead a bunch of preteens. And now Chaletwo'd gotten what he wanted, by the feel of it--a throbbing pulse that had set up shop just above Carl's left eye. He had to be the most powerful pokémon in the entire goddamned world.

It was a fine day for the apocalypse, all puffy clouds and deepwater-blue sky. The mountain had gone quiet after Volcaryu's capture, stopped spitting clouds of ash and smoke. Sometimes the wind carried a nose-curling whiff of sulfur, but it was nothing like it had been in all the decades Carl had spent in his gym.

Carl drew his pokéballs without thinking, and a second later his pokémon were standing in front of him. He handed out master balls from the bag he'd brought, two or three to each that could throw. "You know what to do with these," Carl said. "Remember what we practiced."

There were nods, a couple noises of assent. A stoic bunch, his crew. No hand-wringing or histrionics. He was proud of them. "Be ready to fight," he said, and recalled all but Charizard.

Carl hoisted himself onto Charizard's back, and she took off without instruction. She knew where they were going.

The mountain fell away below them, Carter Town diminishing to toy-sized. There was a knot of people moving near the edge of town, slowly but surely disappearing into the shelter. It was a nervous herd, but orderly; Mayor Daniels had things under control.

Carl imagined the girl down there, protesting the whole way to safety, no doubt. He should be grateful to her. She'd given him time.

Time to build a shelter to protect his town. Of course, he'd gotten the idea from Chaletwo's chat-group, and since Chaletwo had approved it, it would probably leave them no safer than anywhere else.

Time to make a plan, but not enough to make a good one. Not enough to get an exception on the master ball limitation so he'd be able to buy more for himself. He'd had to ask the townspeople for their old and unused, for master balls borrowed from younger, confused relatives.

Time to warn others, but only covertly. They'd never all gotten together, hadn't been able to properly coordinate. He'd had to move carefully to avoid tipping off Chaletwo's group, seeing as they had one gym leader and one gym lackey among them. It was also tricky to convince people that a legendary pokémon was trying to take over the region, maybe the world. He'd been beating off skepticism just this morning.

Time, but not enough. Carl wasn't sure who might show up to aid him today. Some people would, assuredly, with the weight of Chaletwo's power making it clear that something dire was underway. But what would they do when they got there? No way to know.

Carl watched Ouen unfurling below, green forest and green field, yellow dusty-brown of beaten trainer trail. He felt like Chaletwo must have grown, must be a hundred meters tall by now, visible from the air like some living skyscraper. Certainly his power had grown as much, with the way it was beating on Carl's skull.

Quite possibly he'd underestimated Chaletwo. He'd thought that after all, even the most powerful pokémon was helpless against a master ball. And hell, he might be able to kill with a glance, but he could only incinerate one person at a time.

Maybe that was wrong. Maybe Chaletwo was so strong now that he could wave a hand and murder Carl and all his pokémon before they even had a chance to wind up. It was absurd to begin with, thinking a fire-type gym leader, of all people, would have any chance against an overwhelmingly powerful psychic.

Still, they only needed to land one master ball. In theory. And it was no good sitting at home, hoping someone else would take care of the problem.

Carl leaned against Charizard's neck, squinting into the wind. Ouen stretched out beneath him, east and west and far down south to where he could just make out the sun glinting off the ocean. Carl couldn't have stayed at home through this. More than anything else he was tired of these damn legends dragging his home into their petty squabbles.

--

darkboyouen [Today 14:38]: Good luck, guys.

darkboyouen [Today 14:38]: Ryan?

darkboyouen [Today 14:40]: I guess you must be in your shelter. With Robin, right?

darkboyouen [Today 14:40]: Not much to report here.

darkboyouen [Today 14:41]: Diana took off to find out what's going on, so maybe you'll see her.

darkboyouen [Today 14:42]: I'm supposed to stay here and protect the city if Mewtwo2 attacks.

darkboyouen [Today 14:54]: Mark? May?

darkboyouen [Today 14:54]: I hope you guys are okay.

darkboyouen [Today: 14:58]: I'm sorry.


--

The earth shook and Letaligon stumbled, and she whirled without thinking, horns down and threatening, already braced against further seismic waves.

The air was loud with the sound of wings and the screeches of startled birds, but there was no one behind her and no rippling earthquake attack, not even one more shake. Letaligon turned left, right, always leading with her horns, moving quickly to compensate for the way her mask blocked her peripheral vision. Still nothing. The forest was as peaceful--boring--as ever. If it weren't for the dead leaves drifting down from overhead, the birds only now returning to roost, she could have believed she'd imagined everything.

Letaligon snorted and raised her head, and after a moment she set off again, moving through the forest like she actually had somewhere to go. Perhaps she should have turned back, gone looking for the herd to make sure what she felt wasn't part of an attack on them. But any attack powerful enough for her to feel this far away would have other signs as well--smoke, or light, or the sounds of angry letaligon. Whatever it was, it hadn't bothered anyone enough to raise the alarm. She could ask if anyone knew what it was later.

Letaligon tossed her head, then twisted her neck sideways, gouging a tree trunk as she went past. This place was covered in signs, deep cuts from her horns down to faint scratches from her leta-claws. They were the only leta-marks out here. She'd kept away from the herd as much as she could, back when she was a leta. That's how a human had managed to find her, and to capture her before an adult arrived to drive him off.

Once she'd known these woods down to the their scruffiest bush, to the twig. Now nothing was the way she remembered. Never mind how the plants had grown, trees fallen or new ones sprung in their place. She'd grown, and nothing looked the same from her new height. She couldn't squeeze through the same thickets, under the same bushes, huge and armored as she was.

That wasn't what was bothering her now, though. The muscles were tight in the back of her neck, bunched and chafing against her armor. Letaligon wheeled, again looking for an attacker, and again there was nothing. The tremor hadn't been the end of it, though. There was something else, something she couldn't describe but knew she felt. Letaligon stood still and listened furiously, tasted the air and thought and thought. What was it? She new, she knew, she almost knew...

And then she did. Letaligon gasped and took off running, and this time she did have a direction. Psychic pressure throbbed inside her skull, growing stronger, calling her on through the forest.

It had to be a legendary pokémon putting out a call like that. Nothing else would be strong enough--half as strong--a tenth as strong. There weren't many left wild, from what she remembered. Was this it, then? The last fight? Legend warring with legend until only one remained?

She should probably be worried. There was nothing she could do if the war had begun, if dozens of legends were fighting each other at maximum power. All the same, she'd trained for this. She had fought legends. What good was it not to try?

Letaligon stretched her legs into a gallop. This was the fastest she'd run since returning to the herd. There was no reason to run like this out in the woods where she was the strongest fighter for miles, no threats to outdistance. It felt good, bounding through the trees with low branches rebounding from her armor, tangling thickets grabbing for her horns but torn away by her momentum, the sheer weight of her evolved body.

The psychic power in the air throbbed steadily, but Letaligon saw no sign of whoever was making it, could hear no sounds of battle. If the legends were warring, surely she'd be able to hear it from miles away. The fight might be going on on the other side of the region. She might need to run all day, all night, another day and another night to reach it. She could do that. What was the point of her power, her speed, if she never got to use it?

What was the point, when after all her father had died before she could confront him? She could challenge for leadership of the herd, and she could win, too. None of the others had been trained. They didn't know a thing about proper strategy.

Leadership had never been what she'd wanted, though. She'd have to kill her sister, too, and what good was there in that? She wasn't much of a sister, shiny, just as she ought be, distant from the true-color freak, just as she ought to be, but kill her? Letaligon couldn't bring herself to feel any enthusiasm for it at all.

The air burned in her lungs as she ran upslope, over the long preamble to the mountains rising overhead. She was vulnerable, tiring, alone. A determined predator might bring her down. But when had it ever been different? She'd always been on her own, aside from her mother. And now her mother wanted her to stay, to live with people who'd never cared for her, to accept some letaligon who wanted to be her father. Like he could just step into that role after years of hiding, of cowardice, of letting her real father terrorize her and her mother. And her mother wanted her to forget that and treat him like he was worth any respect at all.

Letaligon jumped, landing gently atop a boulder taller than she was. Another jump to catch a crumbling shelf of rock, then up again, taking the slope in great leaps, not caring if unstable rocks shifted under her, if scree slipped and tumbled from beneath her claws. It wasn't like she was going to fall. And even if she did, what would it matter? She had her armor, and she'd seen much worse than this moss-frosted mountainside. It couldn't compare to what she'd had to navigate in the Pokémon League, small, smooth platforms hanging in empty space. She'd fallen there and not even lost. She'd won. She'd won, and she'd evolved, and at the time she thought she was going to keep on winning forever.

The psychic pressure beat against the inside of her skull, and Letaligon imagined a battle just on the other side of the mountains, pictured herself reaching the top, seeing, then throwing herself down the far slope, rushing faster and faster until she leapt and fell on the Destroyer from above. She wouldn't have to hold back. She always had to hold back around the herd, didn't want to really injure any of them, not when the one she'd wanted to hurt was gone. But fighting legendaries, she could do that. There was no way she could hope to bring down the Destroyer, perhaps, not with the power of many other legends behind it. But the world was ending anyway, wasn't it?

The air was thinning, but Letaligon couldn't feel its chill, warmed by her exertion. Condensation beaded on her armor as she labored up through cloud, white above, below, behind. She didn't need to see where she was going. There was only one direction that mattered: up.

There would be trainers fighting the Destroyer, no doubt. Her own, if he wasn't already dead. She could leave with him this time, if she wanted to. But he wasn't going to be a trainer much longer, was he? What use would he have for Letaligon, a fighter? There was the female who'd traveled with him, too. She appreciated power, but she'd never shown any particular interest in Letaligon.

There could be others, though. Letaligon could find a new trainer and go off battling again. She might fight in tournaments like she had in the League, or she might find another purpose, defending a gym or chasing down criminals. She could use her strength and grow stronger yet.

To what end? She'd grow stronger, yes. And when she was done she would have as little use for strength as before. She didn't belong with her herd and never had, but that was where her mother was, her only family. She didn't belong with her trainer, either, but it was a different kind of distance there, and at least she got to fight.

Letaligon could have spent the whole climb turning the matter over in her head, the same way she'd come back to it time and again since returning home. But the psychic pressure rose to sudden, searing prominence, and Letaligon cried out, instinctively flinching away from the sourceless pain. Her claws slipped, scattering loose rocks, and then impact jarred her out of herself for a second.

The mountain overhead was wrong, skewed at a strange angle. Letaligon pondered it until, slowly, it came to her that she was lying on her side, looking up from one eye only. A second later she jerked her legs in close to her body, heart hammering as she realized they'd been dangling over the edge and into empty space.

Only then did Letaligon realize the psychic call was gone. The mountain air was thin and still and empty. Her head snapped up, despite the complaint of spreading bruises, and she concentrated, like she might be missing it somehow, like it might simply have slipped below her awareness like a fading melody.

It was definitely gone. Letaligon staggered to her feet, ignoring sharp retorts from her abused legs, the dirt and pebbles caking her fur. She leapt again, moving faster than before, making sloppy jumps and lunges. Her claws slipped on perilous footholds, but she always regained her balance, claws digging furrows in the rock until they caught.

She'd been near the peak to begin with, and it took only minutes for her to reach it, panting and shaking as she stared down the far side. The far slope tumbled down into thick forest, trees that stretched on and on into haze and distance.

There was no sign of fighting. There was no sign of whatever hat put out that horrible pressure. Whatever had happened, it was over, and Letaligon had never even gotten close.

Letaligon stood there, stunned, looking hopelessly out at the empty forest. Then she threw back her head and roared, and roared, and roared. The sound echoed across the valley, over the innumerable motionless trees. No one answered. No one came. Letaligon roared until she was hoarse, until no more sound would come at all, and when the echoes died away she was still standing there, alone.

--

brightshadezz [Today 15:11]: its over, everyone

brightshadezz [Today 15:11]: come and see
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Old 04-18-2018, 09:13 PM
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Butterfree Butterfree is offline
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Default Re: A Fine Day for the Apocalypse

:D

This was a delight! I loved seeing your interpretations of all the characters (and their chat usernames, bwahaha) and the various speculation on display. I enjoyed your characterization of Mrs. Riverstone in particular; that scene was pretty spot-on overall, but this may be one of my favorite lines:

Quote:
Hopefully they wouldn't need much food or water at all--Chaletwo claimed his apocalypse would be over quickly--but she didn't trust him to know what he was talking about.
The Tyranitar scene gave me some legit feelings. Boy, all the hugs that he needs. His naďve worldview and lingering obsession with May and being stupid and weak comes through really strongly, and it's pretty heartbreaking. (This forum doesn't have censoring, by the way, so you don't need the asterisks!)

The Carl scene was deeply entertaining (although, it must be said, this is definitely not what actually happened). I loved his confidently reasonable but wildly incorrect reasoning about what's really going on and all the planning and scheming - he's such a protagonist of his own story here and it's great. I guess it was really bothering you that Leah didn't show up in chapter 75, huh?

I loved the descriptions of Letaligon finally getting to use her strength and speed, like at the League, feeling energized at the thought of fighting legendaries again - and then, of course, once again she shows up too late, when it's all over, and she's back to restless pointlessness. That was a lovely, cruel touch.

All in all, I loved reading this a lot! I was grinning pretty much throughout. Thank you for the wonderful present! I will do my best to get on with chapter 77. :D
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Old 04-19-2018, 04:16 AM
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Negrek Negrek is offline
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Default Re: A Fine Day for the Apocalypse

I'm glad you liked the chat bits! It was kind of wondering what kind of messages would be flying around after Mewtwo2 got superpowered that got me started on this.

Tyranitar is definitely the biggest woobie, and I'm looking forward to finding out the resolution of the May/Tyranitar subplot in Chapter 77. Will May own up? Will Tyranitar go free? Only you can make sure Tyranitar gets a hug, Butterfree!

Quote:
(This forum doesn't have censoring, by the way, so you don't need the asterisks!)
I am surprised because I didn't add any asterisks! Apparently that's just how the forums render the magic fuck? I'm intrigued, perhaps there's some rule that visifies invisible Unicode (against standard)?

I wasn't planning to write Carl at first... I figured the four POV's would be Martha, Tyranitar, Leah, and Letaligon, but as you guessed, I couldn't figure out why Leah didn't show up. Carl's excuse was actually the first one I came up with, like, maybe her alakazam just happened to be out of commission? But that seemed super unsatisfying, and other things I came up with (maybe she decided it was more important to stay and help people where she was, or maybe someone prevented her from going), but they didn't work very well with my conception of her character. I was stumped for a bit on who I should replace her with, because I could only really think of Victor or the Mew hunter and wasn't all that interested in either of them, but then I remembered Carl... and I was like "OHHHHHH Carl could be the reason Leah wasn't there!!!" It's a big stretch for sure, but Carl's scene was probably the most fun to write. I really enjoyed coming up with an interpretation of events that would be totally reasonable from his perspective but also 100% wrong.

Also, this whole thing ended up being a lot more down on Chaletwo than I kind of intended. But really, when looked at from an outside perspective, "I visit a festival mostly geared at kids, kill the person who seems most interested in catching me, and then I have them go catch legendaries for me," is just... Did you try anything else, Chaletwo? Anything else?

/unnecessary backstory no one asked for

Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed this one! I was worried about butchering the characters really badly, but even if they aren't really themselves, it's good that you found them entertaining anyway. Happy birthday again, and I will try not to be so absurdly late next year! (For the extra fail, I do and did as of Feb 18 have a complete present for you all ready to go, except I probably won't be able to post it for a couple years because spoilers fgggzzzzz)
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