• Welcome to The Cave of Dragonflies forums, where the smallest bugs live alongside the strongest dragons.

    Guests are not able to post messages or even read certain areas of the forums. Now, that's boring, don't you think? Registration, on the other hand, is simple, completely free of charge, and does not require you to give out any personal information at all. As soon as you register, you can take part in some of the happy fun things at the forums such as posting messages, voting in polls, sending private messages to people and being told that this is where we drink tea and eat cod.

    Of course I'm not forcing you to do anything if you don't want to, but seriously, what have you got to lose? Five seconds of your life?

Frontier Town Traveller's Haus - Dining Hall

“He… He hit us with something,” Archie finally admitted, “It looked like black lightning, but the feeling of it was bitter cold, like ice growing through my veins.”

He shook his head, and sighed. Might as well start from the beginning, “I had suggested Silver Ravine as a meeting point because I thought with the Dungeon Sapling so close, Betel could listen in and summon help if things went bad. But as soon as we’d entered, that Zweilous did something to cut us off from the Cloud. He tried to threaten us, but played it off as a test of our resolve, or something. Claimed hitting us was accidental, but by that point things were moving too fast for me to think to call bullshit. Then he taught us how to summon the shadow ourselves. I’d thought at the time that maybe this was the Shadow that had built up from previous run ins with Shadow Pokemon, but now I’m not so sure…”

The Oshawott’s frown deepened, he looked from Dave, to Koa, and then back again at the Poochyena, before continuing, “It was afterwards, when we could reconnect with Betel, that they got corrupted. It’s too neat of a coincidence. It’s… It’s my fault. I’m sorry Koa. I should have thought harder, been more responsible. I thought I had it all figured out, but I got played for the fool, and now everyone…”

He took a second to stop, and tried to recenter himself. Shook his head again, took a swig of his juice. He had to control himself, he couldn’t allow himself to sink into despair. He was better than that. He hadn’t survived the end of the world to lose himself in some corruption fueling pity party. So Archie took a deep breath, Dave had asked a follow up question about Seth. He’d focus on that for now.

“I think we’ve managed to forge something of an alliance with Seth,” he said, nodding. “He’s been active in Blaguarro fighting Cipher. I definitely want to ask him more about how he controls his own Shadows. The problem is finding him again, he kind of implied we’d only run into him when he wants us to… Though, he also said he might hide out in Silver Ravine for a little while, so I might head down there and see if I can find him at some point...”
"But I won't see him again, and I don't think anyone should. Especially if Mhynt hates him." He didn't know Mhynt very well but he trusted her leagues more than Alex, who'd done nothing but try and deceive them. He swallowed thickly. "Unless... Unless we can somehow try to get information from him. Use him somehow. He clearly knows more than he's letting on I think."
Christ. The kid wanted to try to use this guy? Someone with advanced knowledge of bizarre powers they didn't know much about other than that it literally fucking turned people into zombies?

Dave looked critically between Koa and Archie as they explained what had happened. That Seth was Shadowed as a human. That the feeling of it was cold. That they'd let this happen.

"So let me get this straight," he said. "He cuts you off from Betel, threatens you, and then attacks you, and then you go yeah, cool, teach us how to use the shady fucking despair zombie magic? You didn't see any red fucking flags there?"
Its not your fault. He wanted to argue with Archie and point out they'd only been there in the first place because of him, and he'd tried to demand information, but he couldn't find the strength to get into it. How was he supposed to make Archie see- Dave's voice broke into his thoughts before he could decide how to respond. Shame and anger and an awful mess of other emotions he was too exhausted to identify washed over Koa. His brain felt too sluggish to construct a coherent reply.

Dave wasn't there he didn't understand. He opened his mouth, then shut it, then opened it again. "Of course we did," he snapped desperately. "We didn't have a choice I..." His breath hitched. In the moment he'd thought Alex was going to kill them. He'd been ready for it. You screwed up you poisoned everyone. Stupid. It had been stupid and reckless and everyone else paid the price.

"I thought-" You didn't think. He sucked in a sharp breath. "Shadow isn't zombie magic, it's a power- We- I. I was planning on trying to make sure that- I mean I thought we could already be tainted and if we didn't do something we would be corrupted anyway and if we could figure out how to stop it at least we wouldn't be powerless." The words came out in a mess. Get a grip. "Either that or he would kill us I guess. But it worked too," he added, trying to convince himself. A hollow affirmation. "We were able to use it."

He curled his paws, digging into the table, forcing himself to stay steady. "Shadows are a natural power here. We can't hide from it." This time he managed to speak firmer.
Archie looked down at his cup, clasped between his two paws, nodding along with Koa’s halting explanation. He’d felt so desperate for answers. The Oshawott had had no experience with Shadow prior to coming to Forlas, so he’d, stupidly, grasped on to the first potential source of information for how the force worked in this world.

“I thought we were already corrupted,” he said, a little quietly. “I thought our options were to learn to control it, or remain blindly in the dark until we fell to it. We tried to be careful, all we wanted was for him to show us how to call on the power, since that would tell us if it was already within us or not.”

Certainly, there’d been plenty of red flags. The Oshawott just thought he’d accounted for all of them. And by the time he realized he was way out of his depth, they were far too far along the process to back out. From the outside looking in, it sure did look like they’d fucked up start to finish. But in the thick of it, he’d thought he’d been making the right choices. Well, they did say that the road to hell was paved with good intentions. And here he thought he had the potential to be leader material. This had all been a pretty sobering wake up call.

“I won’t make any excuses,” he said, “People got hurt because of my failure. Wes, Odette, Steven, Leaf, Koa, Nova, Ridley.”
Last edited:
Koa ventured a look at Archie, trying to ignore the pit in his stomach. Archie was right. There wasn't any good excuse, was there? If had just been him, but the team had been the one to suffer. "...I'm sorry too." The words felt paltry in comparison to what had happened, but he couldn't think of anything more to say.
Dave took another hard sip of his coffee and then set the mug down, squeezing the handle tightly. The coldness in his chest was suffocating again, his body shivering, and the warmth trickling down his esophagus wasn't actually fucking helping.

Fucking idiots. Yeah, sure, they'd thought things would work out great. Brilliant. Fuck over everyone, and now everyone was liable to get turned into a raging beast by inane supernatural powers, and none of this had to happen, if they hadn't come up with this stroke of fucking genius plan and just figured everything'd be fine. Dying got you out of here, apparently; how the fuck would you get out if you got zombified?

He considered several biting responses, teeth clenched. The coldness was dark and numbing and all-empowering. Somewhere in his brain, a primal instinct was panicking, drowning, barking out a strangled alarm.


For a hot moment he wanted to just unleash on them and let it happen, and with that moment came a flash of memory, of holding a child and imagining just swinging her into the wall--

He took a sharp breath, mind reeling in a dizzying freefall, and forced himself to just stare at the mug and breathe. What the fuck. What the fuck.

"Powehi said he'd stop us from going fully Shadow, didn't he?" he said. "Fucker better be right." Another deep breath. "So, uh, what was all that about Seth getting Shadowed as a human?"
For a second, it almost seemed like Dave was going to throw his coffee mug at them. Or else lunge across the table to try and rip their throats out with his teeth. Archie positioned himself closer to Koa, watching the Poochyena carefully. He held his breath, waiting for the moment… Only for it not to come. Dave deflated somewhat, the shadow edge faded from his voice again. The threat of violence, at least for the moment seemed to subside. The Oshawott slumped forward in his chair again.

“He didn’t explain the process in detail,” Archie said, figuring the change of topic to Seth was probably for the best. “Only that the result is similar to how it effects Pokemon. More aggressive, less empathetic. More susceptible to commands, too. Seth and Cipher are from the same world, originally. He passed through the portal Cipher is using to come here when he escaped… I’m not actually sure how he became a Lycanroc.”

Then again, he wasn’t sure how he’d originally became an Oshawott when he passed from his first world into his second. Maybe it was just something the universe did when a human passed into a world without humans? Like a vast fisher kingdom, to exist in such worlds was to conform to their standards. If only Corey was still here, he'd probably have theories...
"Cipher is the group in Blaguarro responsible for all this," he added hastily, venom seeping into his words. Anything to move past the hostility coming from Dave. Fighting Wes in the moment had been one thing but he had no idea what he'd do if Dave got mad enough to actually attack. Squelching his guilt, he tried to focus on what Seth had said. "They did the same thing to Seth's world and he says they came here to get access to more of whatever they used to turn pokemon shadow. We have to stop them."

He frowned in thought. "Except... I don't see how we can even fight Cipher without something to beat shadows. Like Radiance. It took all of us to try and beat Seth, much less Wes. If Cipher has more shadow pokemon I don't know what we'll do."
“He didn’t explain the process in detail,” Archie said, figuring the change of topic to Seth was probably for the best. “Only that the result is similar to how it effects Pokemon. More aggressive, less empathetic. More susceptible to commands, too. Seth and Cipher are from the same world, originally. He passed through the portal Cipher is using to come here when he escaped… I’m not actually sure how he became a Lycanroc.”
Dave shuddered. Okay, technically this was just the same kind of bad as Pokémon experimentation in a world where they were all sapient. But the idea of it happening to humans in a world with humans sure hit closer to home.

"I mean, I guess under the warped logic of this whole place, where certain bodies are 'compatible' with the universe and human bodies aren't, a guy coming through a portal would find himself magically transforming into a Pokémon too. Why not."

He frowned in thought. "Except... I don't see how we can even fight Cipher without something to beat shadows. Like Radiance. It took all of us to try and beat Seth, much less Wes. If Cipher has more shadow pokemon I don't know what we'll do."
The gears creaked in Dave's brain. He squinted at Koa. "You had to... beat Wes?"
And there it was, one of the other parts of this conversation Archie wasn’t particularly looking forward to. The fight with Wes. Meowth was out of the bag now, though. Might as well get it over with.

“Seth and Wes are the same person, from alternate universes,” Archie explained. It felt wrong for him to be the one revealing that rather than Wes himself, but it was hard to explain the sequence of events without it. “That meant their shadows were compatible, somehow. Towards the end of the fight, Seth poured his shadow energy into Wes. It overwhelmed him, he evolved, and he turned on us.”

“Wes laid into Seth first, and then, when Seth wasn’t a target anymore, he knocked out Odette, he attacked me, and then he went after Koa,” the Oshawott continued, glancing briefly at the Electrike, “I think… Koa’s the only reason I didn’t lose consciousness, too. I tried to calm Wes down, but, in the end, Koa and Leaf had to beat the corruption out of him.”

The Oshawott had been damned useless in the end, by his own estimation.
Koa winced. Part of him felt almost bad bringing it up. Even after everything Wes had said. No matter how he felt, the shadows weren't really Wes's fault. Even if thinking about Wes still made him annoyed, after how he'd acted so superior. He shot Archie an uneasy look as he recounted the story, holding back his own annoyance at how everything had gone. He'd been so close to losing it like Wes. They all had.

"It's... Complicated. It was the shadows that caused it," he said quietly, a bitter edge in his tone. "They overtook him. Apparently defeating someone consumed in shadows helps suppress them I guess..." And something else had happened too, hadn't it? When he'd been lost in the haze of the fight, he'd heard Ridley's voice. "And I think we can snap each other out of it, somehow. It happened during the fight."

Koa shook his head. "Anyways, it doesn't matter how good we get at suppressing shadows though. Even if we manage to it's useless unless we can fight them too. This shadow energy can't hurt other beings using it."
“Seth and Wes are the same person, from alternate universes,” Archie explained.
Okay, okay, what the fuck. There was a TV show in his universe and then a real guy in Wes's universe and now apparently another real guy in a different universe altogether? You could literally just bump into your own alternate universe fucking doppelganger? Christ. There'd better not be another him out here somewhere as a criminal outlaw.

He had noticed Wes had evolved, on that dream beach. It'd just seemed fair enough, something that would happen given they were all Pokémon (that would be an interesting fucking experience). But no, apparently he'd gone full werewolf, transform and go berserk. Jesus.

"So..." He furrowed his brow. "So you did manage to just beat it out of him, no Radiance or anything. He went Shadow enough to attack but you could still just snap him out of it. I guess that's what Powehi meant about stopping us from our 'hearts closing entirely' or whatever the fuck? Any zombification is temporary and easily reversible, relatively speaking?"

Dave exhaled. The cold that was still lapping at his paws was finally beginning to fade. He took another sip of his coffee.

"I mean, yeah, let's go figure out Radiance and all that, but good to know we're, you know, probably actually fucking making it home with our brains in one piece." Or as much as that could be said of any process where his brain would go from somehow fitting into the head of a Poochyena in a different universe to being back in his own head.
"I guess?" Koa shrugged. "It's sort of reversible, at least for Wes..." Except for Drapion. Despite some small progress he felt like he couldn't do enough to help him. "Except whatever Cipher is doing seems different than how it affects us. Whatever they did to Seth isn't the same as what we can do. He's in control but it's like he's always having to fight it off or something." A memory of how that cold darkness felt when he'd fought Wes rose to the front of his mind. Did Seth feel that all the time? Had Wes felt that?

A wearied sigh escaped him and he rested his head on the table. "But yeah, it seems temporary or whatever for us. Just... if you're ever fighting and you feel this kind of cold negativity... try to focus on something else." Not that he'd been able to pull it off, but maybe Dave would.
It was a good sign that they were able to bring Wes back from the brink. Still, the fact that it required infighting to do so was worrying. Hopefully they could find an easier method. Koa’s words had definitely helped him when he was feeling overwhelmed, but it hadn’t been enough for Wes. Maybe there was a point at which words would no longer suffice? Nova did say that battle was how Pokemon opened their hearts to one another. Maybe if he just kept that in mind, it would make things easier next time…

If there was a next time. Hopefully there wouldn’t be a next time.

“The people around you can help,” Archie said, “Koa helped me, when the shadows almost overwhelmed me, too. Pulled me back from the brink.”

Hopefully Dave had people who could do something like that for him. Did the Poochyena have many friends among their group?
Dave nodded slowly at Koa's words. Maybe he should talk to that Seth guy and learn more. Or to Wes.

"Well, if it sounds like there's ultimately no harm done using this thing, and it makes it easier to fight other Shadow Pokémon, then why not. Assuming Powehi's thing works, anyway. So long as you're vaguely intelligent about it and don't rack up enough of the shit to go berserk."

He suppressed his vague nausea with more coffee. Pretty fucked up, but what wasn't over here.

He looked between the two other Pokémon at the table. "You said you were human, right?" he asked, looking at Koa. "A trainer? So like... a teenager?" He hoped to God it wasn't younger than that, anyway. He looked over at Archie. "And... what about you?"
“I was an Oshawott in my previous world, too,” Archie said. “A member of the Adventurers Guild, based out of the Treasure Town branch.”

He hesitated a bit. He’d told people bits and pieces about his life before his last world, but he’d never actually verbally acknowledged his own humanity. But, he’d probably said enough that people were able to guess, at this point. And, honestly, it was just the three of them there, really.

“In my life before that, I was a Ranger,” he said, “Or at least, I think I was. My memories of that time are… Fuzzy.”
Koa turned to Archie, intrigued. He'd be called from another world before this one? And a human? "A ranger? Like a pokemon Ranger, helping wild pokemon?" Or were Rangers where Archie was from different? A twinge of sadness filled him. What would it be like to have no real memories of wherever you came from?

He cast a glance at Dave, and hesitated. He was too tired to listen to some lecture about his age, and he wasn't at all sure he wanted to hear someone else call him 'kid'. "Oh uh... Yeah I'm a trainer back home. A team of six, traveled most of my home region by now. A place called Sinnoh." Probably a sufficient answer. Did Dave even have a Sinnoh? He dismissed the thought, thinking about multiverse things gave him a headache.

"Although I'm not sure how or what that has to do with this shadow stuff... What about you?" Dave didn't really feel like a trainer but then maybe things were different in his world.
Huh. Archie'd world-hopped multiple times? Was that what he was saying? What the fuck. Could they just get summoned somewhere else in the middle of this?

He'd never heard of a place called Sinnoh, but that was probably to be expected when everyone was from different worlds. Koa said he'd been around most of the region... so he was still on his first journey collecting badges? Was he fucking ten? He sure sounded more like a teenager. Or was this just a different-universes thing? Was there a way to ask that he wouldn't take as an insult if he was older?

"Yeah, no, I never got into training Pokémon, myself," he said. "Not a sports person. I'm a geneticist, doing research on both humans and Pokémon. Why my universe specially picked out me as the chosen one for a mission involving turning into a Pokémon and personally beating people up is a mystery for the ages. I've got some fucking questions about the criteria involved." Not least the bit where Koa's universe had picked a goddamn kid. How about mysterious universe-hopping chosen one rules don't validate kids' naïve ideas that they can go save the world and everything'll be fine.

He glanced back at Archie. "So, human ranger, from a different world than the one you came from? How'd you world-hop the first time?"
“Right, yeah!” Archie nodded, enthusiastically, to Koa’s questioning. “See, I lived in a place called Castelia City. It and its northern neighbor, Nimbasa, were the two biggest cities in the Unova region. Between them was a great desert, and it was home to many wild Pokemon.”

The Oshawott made a sort of vague gesture. He’d come back home from Ranger School, he’d studied abroad in, um… Somewhere… They’d only started talking about paving the road between the cities before he’d left. Those plans had blossomed into a full suburban sprawl by the time he came back. He remembered being appalled, looking at those plans. There was something specific about that desert, even beyond the habitats, that had made developing it like that feel like it had been breaking some great taboo. But what was it?

“So, there was a lot of pressure on the route connecting those two cities, to urbanize it, right? Build roads and homes and businesses and the like,” he continued, “But not everyone was sold on the idea. I was one of the people charged with preserving the natural environment.”

Dave’s follow up question brought a sudden stillness to the Oshawott. He lowered his paws back to the table, the light almost seeming to leave his eyes.

“My world died,” he said, after a moment, “But I didn’t want to die with it. I escaped through a portal. I followed…”

He lifted a paw to tilt his hat back and rub at a spot on his forehead where a headache was starting to develop.

“I remember falling for a long time, before I lost consciousness,” he held out his paws to either side, “And when I woke up, I looked like this.”
What were the criteria for picking people? He didn't have much time to contemplate before Archie spoke. Koa stared at the Oshawott, masking his shock. His world had... died? And his world sounded almost like Koa's own, at least in that it had a Unova. "I'm sorry," he said quietly. His stomach twisted at the thought of what Archie had suffered. It seemed like a lot of the team came from rough situations in their homeworlds.

Dave's question came back to mind. A Ranger that escaped the end of his world, a trainer, and a geneticist? "Maybe thats why you were chosen? But I'm not sure why everyone else was brought here then..." Or why he'd have been chosen. Did it have to do with his interest in legendaries? Jade had some kind of involvement, and Odette. Unless Dave's world had had some kind of apocolypse.

"Could be some kind of skill thing, like making sure there's a bunch of different people with different knowledge. Or some kind of compatability thing? Did you do anything crazy back home?"
Top Bottom