Ch. 7 Misgivings
Maya lay from the west, watching the fight unfold in front of her even from that distance. That part of the countryside, burned and crushed, and Kucheat Town, though miles away, was on fire. And to think, she thought to herself, that she once thought of herself as the goddess of destruction when all she did was more playtime than anything.
Perhaps all that was needed was a bit of wisdom in applying such power if that final bit showed anything.
Maya turned to her bandages, remembering the bitter herbs and Oran berries she was forced to eat. She flexed a bit and, though it still hurt, she does have the strength to do some things. And yet, her mind felt split on what to do with it. Of course, she could just run out of there since no one else but Kyle knew she was around. And besides, when would Kyle show a bit of gratefulness?
She stood back up while grunting, but she paused as an image came to her head. The picture of Kyle and Faith standing in front of each other, more confused than anything. In fact, she never saw Kyle like that at all. Perhaps, there was something more to him than seeing everyone around him like objects to use.
Maya shook her head and, with regret filling her heart, ran forward while shadow engulfed her.
Adrian and David climbed down Saria, with both of them grinning even as Saria approached the fallen Lucario. David picked him up and hugged him some more, laughing even as Adrian grunted. From a distance, A-Ninetales walked to Faith and patted her head, with her giving out a shy blush.
“Your plan actually worked, Adrian!” David said, putting Adrian down.
Adrian shook his fur a bit. “I’m glad that I was right. Otherwise, I doubt that we would’ve gotten away.”
“Eh, perhaps,” David said with a shrug.
The Lucario extended one of his arms up before pulling himself off the ground. He pressed against the purple Ninetales mask, his breathing coarse, and his knees shook. A thinner Aura bone appeared, and he leaned against it while he stumbled some more.
“You’re a stubborn one, aren’t you?” Saria said with a laugh. “And yet, you can barely stand. At this rate, you’ll get yourself—”
Saria blinked, with A-Ninetales sprinting towards her with wide eyes, Faith following not too far behind. At that moment, another Pokémon appeared, just as large as Saria and standing above the Lucario. This Lycanroc grunted, with bandages all over her body, even as Saria paused in confusion.
“Maya!?” both Adrian and David said at the same time, her paw slamming down so that they could not reach the Lucario, who looked up in confusion himself.
“You?!” Saria said, her teeth barred even as the ground rumbled and grew stronger.
“I’m not here to fight if that’s what you’re thinking,” Maya said as she picked up the Lucario and tossed him onto her back. “But I won’t let you capture him.”
“I didn’t need your help,” the Lucario said with a strained voice, leaning against the back of her neck.
“Sorry, but at this moment, you do,” Maya said, casting a quick glance at the incoming A-Ninetales and Faith. “Time to go, Kyle.”
Adrian blinked, the name ringing in his head even as his front left paw flexed a little. Maya and Kyle were consumed by shadows before they disappeared, with Saria turning all around. A second later, A-Ninetales and Faith came with his expression dark. Soon, he let out a sigh before he collapsed, with only a subtle quake.
“Are you OK?” Faith asked as she pressed one of her paws against his side. “You’re not hurt, are you?”
“I’m just exhausted with a headache, that’s all,” A-Ninetales answered before he gave out a laugh. “Sorry. I know I should chase after them, find out what they want, but headaches take me out like a truck. Plus, I haven’t had a fight like that in a long time. I’m glad that everyone here is OK. Especially you, dear.”
“It was a nasty blow, I’ll give you that,” Saria said, walking to the other side. “But I’m glad that you caught the gist of the plan.”
“Plan?” Faith asked, tilting her head as one of her ears folded to the side. “What plan?”
“Adrian, during the brief times he faced that Lucario, spotted that the spikes on his appendages grow and shrink depending on what size he is at,” David answered, flinging his arms behind his head. “He guessed that is how he was storing his excess power and growth and thought that, by attacking them directly, would cause him to involuntary release all of that energy and shrink down.”
Adrian rubbed his chin a little bit, deep in thought, before a smack to the head came to him. “Huh?!”
“I’m just glad that it worked and that using the Revive All Orb wasn’t for nothing after all.” David rubbed Adrian’s neck before he laughed. “You still owe me 7,200 Poké.”
“Yeah,” Adrian said with a nod even as Faith’s ears folded forward. “Still, while I can guess why you’re not going after hi-them, A-Ninetales, why aren’t you, Saria?”
Saria shook her head. “I can’t see through Maya’s Illusion like Daren can.”
“And even if I didn’t have that headache, darn adrenaline,” A-Ninetales shook his head, “whatever machine she is using to boost her Illusion’s power is enough that I cannot see through it.”
“But speaking of Maya, how did she get here already?” Saria asked, her voice growling. “Those stomps and throw should’ve broken every bone in her body. Plus, she was tossed halfway across the continent.”
“Given on what happened,” David guessed, the moon shining upon his eyes, “that Lucario found her and nursed her. Plus, as you two showed, distance isn’t that far when you’re hundreds of feet tall.”
“They do seem to be working together, aren’t they?” A-Ninetales said while rubbing his forehead. “How and why I cannot say. Especially since they disappeared without giving out answers.” He yawned, the moonlight reflecting on his teeth. “In any case, they’re gone, so there’s nothing to worry about for now. Besides, we should go to sleep now.”
“Oh,” Faith said, emitting a massive blush that made her head bright red. “I can’t get back to the hotel. Not at this size.”
A-Ninetales laughed, which caused the ground to shake a little. “Don’t you worry.”
A-Ninetales lifted up one of his legs and tugged Faith closer, with Faith blinking and wiggling. Her nose touched against the badge’s green A, with it glowing upon contact. Her eyes widened as the badge got bigger, slow at first before it increased in speed. Its size kept on growing, surpassing her size until the very center of the A was bigger than her.
She wiggled some more as she was pulled away, resting on A-Ninetales’s leg with him grinning at her. Finally, the A stopped glowing, and she was lowered back on the ground. She turned to Adrian, a bit over a foot taller than her, and she gasped.
“Consider it a favor fulfill for helping me,” A-Ninetales said. “Because this badge is meant to absorb excess growth, it can be used to absorb your excess growth as well as mine. Of course, the downside is that now I cannot shrink back to normal for now.” His tails swayed a bit as he shrunk down until he reached ten feet, with the A blinking red a few times before it became green once more. He sighed and grew once more, going up to twenty feet. “As such, I’ll stay with Saria tonight, which I was going to do anyways after that fight. You take my room spot, Adrian, especially after what you had to endure and what you help against.”
“O-oh my!” Faith said before she grinned and hugged one of A-Ninetales’s paws. “Thank you, A-Tales!”
“A-Tales, huh?” A-Ninetales said before smiling. “Has a nice ring to it. Have a good night, everyone!”
“I will,” Faith said, hopping a little.
She turned around but paused when David rubbed his chin while squinting. “There’s something off about that,” he said. “I confess that I don’t know much about how your badge work, especially since there’s no knowledge about badges being used to store excess size. What I do know, which I’m surprised that you didn’t catch, Adrian,” he poked his shoulder a bit, with Adrian flinching a bit, “is that what you just said doesn’t add up.”
“What do you mean?” Faith asked, turning her head before tilting it.
“First off, A-Ninetales grew to a hundred and fifty feet tall when we first met him,” David explained as he paced a little, with A-Ninetales and Saria looking at each other. “Then he used the badge there to shrink back to normal size by using it to store all of that height. OK, that makes sense so far. But then, just this moment, after going back up to a hundred and fifty feet tall, he used the badge to take yours,” he pointed at Faith, “excess size before using it to shrink himself back down, just not all the way. That’s where there’s a lie.”
Adrian rubbed his ear a little before nodding. “He’s right.”
“How is there a lie?” Faith asked, her tails low. “I mean, don’t you trust him?”
“It’s not that I don’t trust him,” David replied as he shook his head. “It’s that he doesn’t trust us with the real truth. Think about it for just a moment, Faith. If that badge blinking red means what I think it means, the excess storage there is full. HOWEVER, it reacted when A-Ninetales used it to store roughly a hundred forty-six feet, five inches this evening. So why can he suddenly use it to store two hundred nine feet, six inches before it said that it’s full again?”
Silence filled the area, with Faith blinking and the gears rolling within her head. Adrian rubbed his chin a bit, his eyes elsewhere even as David’s squint turned back to A-Ninetales and Saria. A-Ninetales, for his part, rubbed the front of his head while gritting his teeth while Saria shook her head.
A-Ninetales sighed and opened his mouth, only for Saria to cut in, “The truth is that his badge is getting faulty as of late. It’s not storing the proper amount of size it should be storing. Hopefully, when we get back to the anthro continent, we’ll be able to get a replacement, one that is more efficient. And perhaps the same for Faith as well. Perhaps that bow you usually wore around your neck would be used to store that size.”
“What? Oh, yeah,” Faith said while blushing. She went over to David and nudged his right arm. “Can you give that back to me?”
“Huh? Ah.” David untied the bow off and wrapped it around Faith’s neck, tying it up. “Sorry. Didn’t think about it. I was thinking of other stuff.” He squinted some more at A-Ninetales before shrugging. “Eh, whatever the answer is, I hope that it won’t cost any of us.”
A-Ninetales nodded and smiled. “I’m sure it won’t. But, in any case, when morning comes, we’ll be at the other side of town. That way, you’ll get your message from your wife along the way, David.”
Faith nodded. “Sounds good. Have a good night!” She spun around, walking toward Kucheat Town with her tails held high. David sighed while pressing his hand-paws against his hips, yet he couldn’t hide a smile and walked behind. Adrian hummed a bit before following as well. “Wasn’t it great? Being able to fight alongside the great A-Tales!”
A-Ninetales and Saria sat there and watched the trio walking towards the smoking, burning town. Soon, they disappeared from their sights, and the two sighed, with A-Ninetales yawning once more. Then, Saria walked up to him, nuzzled his cheek, and lay beside him. He smiled and lay on top of her, with her head between his legs.
“Thank you, my dear,” A-Ninetales said, licking the back of her head a bit.
“I know that you wanted it private,” Saria said, leaning her head back so that it’s under his chin. “And I hope that Faith hasn’t gotten it along with your Flash Fire.”
“Based on what she told me, I doubt it,” A-Ninetales said, his tails around her own. “She didn’t say anything that indicated that Jirachi copied that as well. Still, we should get Glorfindel to check on her, just in case.”
“Right,” Saria said before closing her eyes. “There is one thing that I overheard, which I forgot to mention just then. Maya, before she left, said the name of the Lucario. Fairly certain that the other two heard it as well.”
“And what would his name be?” A-Ninetales asked, tugging her close.
“She said that his name is Kyle.”
“Kyle. Hmm.” A-Ninetales closed his eyes as well. “Faith said that she knew of a Lucario named Kyle herself. Said that he was her boyfriend before he disappeared.” He shook his head a bit. “It might be a coincidence. But then, why did that Lucario stop his attack against Faith?” He paused for several seconds. “I can’t think when I have a burning headache and a desire for sleep. Good night, my dear. I’ll think better about this in the morning.”
Faith, Adrian, and David approached the broken-down gates of Kucheat Town. Faith turned from side to side, spotting no Pokémon guards standing by the entrance like there were a few hours ago. David shrugged and walked through with the others following, entering the dust and smog-filled town, the sky more orange than blue.
The streets were twisted and turned over, yet Faith and the others walked on it rather than the broken sidewalks. Faith turned downwards, avoiding the shattered walls and fallen buildings, and David slowed down to rub her back a bit. They turned to one of the buildings on fire before Faith put it out with Flash Fire, and she smiled a bit at how well it survived. Steel-type Pokémon went from building to building, trying to reinforce the remaining structures even as Water-type Pokémon used water moves to remove the remaining fires.
As they moved further into the town, the damages became fewer, with more intact buildings and fewer flames. Finally, in time, they went to the Raichu’s Nest, which survived with only tiny cracks on its brownish-yellow walls. Even so, they remained quiet as they climbed up the stairs until they entered their room.
“I never realize that a macro fight would cause so many damages even from a distance,” Faith said, climbing onto a bed.
“Considering how destructive an average Pokémon fight can be, I’m just happy that this much is saved,” David said, brushing aside ceiling debris off from the other bed.
“Still, so much was lost, lives and buildings,” Faith said, laying on her bed. “I wonder what happened to those guards who force us to write paperwork after paperwork?” David shrugged. “And how will they recover from this?”
David rubbed his chin. “Eh,” his tone was mixed in sadness and bitterness, “I’m half-expecting more deaths because of all of the looting. And when I looked at the buildings that suffered the most, I couldn’t help but observe that those were the ones that held the food and water supplies. There will be starvation, but only if this town gets too prideful in accepting help from other places. Not because of the standard ‘don’t pity me’ pride,” he added when Faith opened her mouth, “but because I’m certain that the other towns’ demands will involve revealing the anthro technology’s secrets.”
Faith nodded. “Do you think this town’s leaders will do so?”
“Eventually,” David replied as he lay back. “After all, which is worse? Losing their control over anthro technology or facing a rebellion from its survivors? In any case, I’m glad that we’ll leave as soon as we get a response from Amber. I don’t want to see the ugly mess that will ensure.” He turned his head and flicked his ears a bit, with Adrian staring at the window. “Are you in shock that you were attacked?”
“It’s not that,” Adrian replied before he sighed, shaking his head. “You heard what Maya said, right?” David’s face became blank. “She said that Lucario’s name. I can’t believe what I heard, but I can’t think of anyone else but him.”
“She did?” David leaned up a bit, blinking. “I admit that I wasn’t paying that much attention. I was more surprised that she suddenly appeared and disappeared than to hear any words that she said.”
Faith rubbed one of her ears a bit. “If you managed to overhear it, why didn’t you say it then?”
Adrian’s ears drooped forward. “First off, I was expecting Saria to reveal it since I am certain that she heard it too. And second,” he turned to Faith, “I’m afraid of how you’ll react.”
“Huh?” Faith blinked.
“Can you please get to the point,” David said, his voice having a growl. “What is his name?”
“She said that his name is Kyle.”
The group felt a drop in temperature, with Adrian looking back and forth between Faith and David. Faith blinked, biting onto her paw a bit even as David leaned forward, his eyes wide. Faith then squeezed her paw together, with it shaking a bit.
“You-you think he is that Kyle?” David asked as he squeezed the bed a bit.
Adrian nodded even as Faith gave out a flat laugh.
“I-I,” she said, lowering her paw, “don’t believe it. I can’t believe it!” She hopped off from her bed, nose to nose with Adrian. “The Kyle I know is nothing like him!”
“The Kyle I know is exactly like him,” Adrian said, and he stood there, stunned at his sudden outburst.
“How dare you!” Faith said with a growl. “How dare you insult him!”
Faith leaped to the air, fangs barred, even as Adrian’s expression turned firm. Her head pointed downwards at his own, only for it to stop inches away. David sighed, pulling her out and leaning her back. She growled, wiggling against the grip around her stomach even as another hand gripped against her scruff.
“Easy there, Faith,” David said as he tightened his grip. Adrian glared at her, and he blinked. “Say, Adrian, care to explain why you think this Kyle is the one we know?”
“When I first heard the name, I thought I was mistaken,” Adrian said, never looking away from the glaring baby blue eyes. “But when I thought about it more, I couldn’t help but see how much it makes sense. Especially since it answers this question: why didn’t he attack you?” Faith blinked while giving out a light hmm. “You saw how he stopped himself and, later on, avoided you, even after giving him a reason to.”
Faith shifted her gaze before shaking her head. “While I admit that is an odd thing, Kyle would never act with such aggression.”
“But only when he’s around you,” Adrian said, and both of their ears folded back, glaring at each other. “When you’re not, I was always hammered down on how much of a waste of space by him, that I was weak, and I will never amount to anything.”
Faith growled some more, “That’s a lie! Whenever I talk to him about you, he always tells me that if you just apply yourself some more and lose your self-doubt, you’ll achieve great things!”
“Easy there. And besides, he has a point,” David said, and Faith wiggled some more. “Whenever I caught him by his lonesome, he brings up about how much my family business is failing. That, due to the mayor’s policies, we’ll be out of business within a decade. That’s part of the reason why I chose to stay: to spite him.”
Faith turned upward. “That can’t be true! The Kyle I know always expresses hope that you’ll succeed despite everything that happens! In fact,” Faith’s ears folded forwards along with her body, “he told me when he left that it’s to get stronger so that he can help you all out.”
“He couldn’t bother to let me know that day,” David said, shaking his head. “All he did was sneer at my decision.”
Adrian nodded. “And, in case you forgot, when Maya attacked us hours ago, she said that someone wants you specifically. Who? And why?”
David hummed a bit. “If we have to guess on the who, it’ll have to be that Lucario.”
“T-that still isn’t conclusive, Adrian!” Faith said, her paws squeezing against each other as though grabbing a rope. “That Lucario looks nothing like Kyle!”
“Did you forget?” Adrian asked as Faith raised an eyebrow. “Maya herself said that she was a pure Lycanroc before being attacked by a Zoroark during an anthro tech test, becoming part Zoroark. Even having her ability replaced with Illusion. So it’s likely that Kyle, seeing this, used the same tech to imbued traits of some Electric-type Pokémon into himself.”
Faith’s eyes shook a bit as her heart felt stabs from within. A small part within clicked, like a puzzle coming together, while remembering that battle with her and the Lucario. That feeling of recognition from his face, the feeling of familiarity from herself, all made too much sense. And yet, she shivered.
“I-I’m sorry,” Faith said as she relaxed a bit. “I just cannot believe that Kyle, the one that I knew, would be something like a monster now, let alone always been something like this.”
Adrian’s expression remained even as David lowered her back onto the ground while rubbing his chin. “Then it’s settled then?” David asked, and Faith nodded. “Great job for having a civil argument that ended peacefully.”
Faith rolled her eyes. “To be honest, I have enough fights for one night. Let’s go to sleep then.”
David rubbed his chin, Adrian’s glare refusing to soften, and sighed. “I agree, but I think I should discuss this with Adrian privately.” He went over and picked Adrian up, who didn’t flinch even as Faith blinked. “Sorry.”
“It’s OK. I won’t stop you,” Faith said as she hopped back to a bed.
She lay down even as David bowed a bit and stepped towards the door. He gripped onto the knob and twisted it open, stepping out while carrying Adrian. Soon, the door closed, leaving her out of the view even as she rolled up and hopped off once more. She pressed her ear against the door, and words came from the other side.
“I must say, Adrian, I’m proud of you. You stood your ground without shedding a tear, which was always your biggest problem.”
“I wasn’t about to give in, especially about Kyle. If that Lucario really is Kyle—” a pause came even as Faith leaned upwards. “I hoped that he never returned to our lives.”
“Eh? I know that you have a bit of a rivalry, especially regarding Faith, but isn’t that too far? I mean, he was a bit of a bully—”
“He is a monster!” Another pause. “Sorry. I’m just afraid if he will finally show that side to her.”
Faith felt her anger boiling once more, squeezing the carpet again as she heard David say, “What do you mean? Truth be told, I never see you being so angry about Kyle. What did he do that—” He paused for several seconds. “Oh.”
“Figured it out?”
“I-I never knew. I honestly thought that—”
“That was a lie that he made me tell.” Faith blinked, Adrian’s voice becoming venomous. “And if I ever reveal the truth about it, then he’ll reveal to my dad that I have a Fire Stone.”
“But-but why didn’t you tell when he left. Surely, after he disappeared for a year at least and especially after you were disowned by your dear old daddy, you felt the urge to reveal it.”
“Because I didn’t think there was a point to reveal it. I knew how Faith would react if I ever said anything bad about Kyle. In fact, her bad reaction was lower than I expected. And I still don’t fully understand why he did it.”
Faith frowned, her anger fading away and being replaced with confusion. What was he talking about?
“In any case, you’ve shown a good amount of confidence. Taking a step away from her and being firm rather than crumbling, I’m sure that it’ll do you good in no time.”
“I can’t say if that is confident or not.”
“Be surer of yourself. Don’t let her jabs about choosing to be a Flareon rather than a Vaporeon bring you down. Then again, I doubt that she’ll be as mean-spirited about that again. I told her.”
“Eh? Who are you, and what did you do to Adrian? The Adrian I knew wouldn’t be so chilled about his crush knowing what happened between him and his daddy.”
“It’s something that I learned from Saria when we talked earlier. She suggested that I just roll with it rather than act so negatively to these teasings. Otherwise, I make myself look worse.”
“Eh, that took away all of the fun. Still, good advice.”
“And,” Adrian paused even as Faith stood on her hind paws. “And she told me about Glorfindel.”
“He is one of the magic users that A-Ninetales mentioned. A kitsune mage, as Saria called him. So she suggested that if I really wanted to turn into a Vaporeon, I go to him.”
Faith blinked and lowered her ears in shame before she stepped away from the door. Her throat swelled to the point that she couldn’t do much but cough as she climbed onto a bed. Then, before she knew it, tears fell out of her eyes, and she pressed her face against the pillow.
Memories flashed before her mind, remembering all of the times where Adrian stepped up to help her out. And yet, she couldn’t recall even half as many times where she repaid the favor. Heck, even after costing much of his money, time, and dignity trying to save her life a few months ago, all she returned, in turn, was grief and stress. Her heart screamed out about her abusing his love for her, wondering if she did deserve to be his friend.
“Adrian,” Faith said to herself through the pillow, half coughing out the words, “I am such a horrible friend.”
Here is the seventh chapter. Enjoy.