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TEEN: Power & Light [Four-or-More-Shot (won't be longer than like 5 or 6 though)]

DulceDeLeche Vanilla Cake

milk and sugar consumer
Joined
Oct 5, 2021
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They/Them
It's a fic lol, content warnings and basic premise below.

This gets updated on Serebiiforums before anywhere else.

Nimbasa, generations after Ghetsis' final defeat, is exploding, and the old borders that the city had with its surroundings are no longer capable of keeping it contained. Steadily of the years, the decades, the city has been eating the nature around it in the never-ending search for living space and profit. The Lostlorn Forest to the north has been victim to this more than any other place around Nimbasa. There, the Pokémon of the forest, organized around a now dominant tribe of Whimsicott, clandestinely push back against this march of human progress. They, with their collaborators in the city, including a human girl who falls inadvertently into their plots, struggle together to survive and create a sustainable future alongside the human world.

A fic filled with OC's on a completely invented plot, so all you have to be aware of is the general geography of Nimbasa City and the area around it.

Violence against people, Pokémon, and property. Threats of violence made against all three. This violence is carried out through bombings, through conventional Pokémon fighting, and through weapons. The intensity and frequency of this violence varies from chapter to chapter, but this is a story about violence in general and political violence specifically. Swearing is rated MATURE and is uncensored.

Let's do this




Part One
The Illusioned Mind goes to their home and lays in their bed, watches as their neighbor does the same, and imagines the space between them is meaningful. The Illusioned Mind notices the shore where the land meets the ocean and believes that “land” and “ocean” exist. The Empty Mind rejects these notions. The Clear Mind understands all things as aspects of the same face.

We live as though we are flowers in different pots, as though our Closeness is merely Circumstance. This is the deepest illusion. The Empty Mind rejects this. The Clear Mind sees through this and understands that all flowers are of One garden..


Mantsy did not fully understand what this meant. He was not sure if he agreed with it. There was no reason to ever live with the humans again, certainly no reason to ever live in the city again. What was left, after all this time, to do and say with them? There are, in fact, two worlds—more than that, even—and those who trespass or abuse their freedom to cross are chased down and taken out. As, perhaps, they should be.

But he tried to have faith in its message. Every time the Spirit—what he was calling the Spirit—talked to him, they always challenged him. He tried to maintain his discipline and not argue with them, because the Spirit never responded anyway,. Debate was another indulgent excess of the world that he should have detached himself from by now.

With his meditation over, fatigue had finally set upon him, and sleep came soon after.

⁂​
“Heyheyhey, look at this.”

Uno blinked as her body woke up from someone slapping her shoulder way too hard.

“What the heck, Suah?” She wailed her hand at Suah's general direction and sat up.

“Stop sleeping in class and looky-looky.”

Suah shifted her elbow on the table to show her what was on her X5, a shaky video of some neighborhood in Midtown. A bunch of people slowly walking around, their devices in front of their faces, all looking up towards the sky and above the roofs where a puffy white monster-thing was nearly blocking out the sun with it's fluffy girth. It was almost like a cloud, but more like a cloud made out of cotton swabs. It was this big ball thing with something like eyes and something like a mouth – just these darkened spots on the “face.” The mouth would move kind of like a mouth, and a sound like when someone blows over a glass bottle but much louder coming out of it in an attempt at a roar. Uno thought she could see arms and legs, little nubs where she could expect arms and legs to be, but the could have also just been the little fluffs of the cloud-body that she was imagining were arms and legs.

“Friggin' tourists, man,” Suah said through a small giggle.

“The cloud-thing?”

Suah hung her mouth open and tilted her head at Uno. “No, dumdum. The people taking videos.”

“In Midtown? Why would they go to Midtown? Nothing's there but a buncha townhouses.”

“No one who lives here acts like that.”

“Do you see a big marshmallow float above Nimbasa every day?” Liying quipped from across the table, bothering only a bit to look up from her own X5. She had it standing upright in front of her with her headphones connected, one earbud dangling off her shoulder.

Suah scoffed. “It's already happened a couple of times. It ain't new anymore. Only the tourists get crazy about it.”

“Yeah right.”

“Yeah, no, I saw a story about it on TV,” Urara said, poking her head in from Suah's left. “There's going to be a buncha national reporters and, like, newspeople coming here soon.”

“Gross.” Suah twisted her face and stuck her tongue out. “Oh ****, you think they might come here? What if another fluffy thing goes back to the, uh, construction place?” She pointed her thumb in the general direction of the north.

The sun began poking out from the overcast for the first time today and flooded the room with a bright yellow glow. Liying felt it hit her cheek and she paused whatever was on her X5 to stare out the window. “Who cares?” she mumbled. The Power & Light Development Site was at the horizon, the forest behind it. Empty, nude buildings, nothing much more than steel rods and stone blocks together in a way that only suggested civilization, sprouted out from the ground, above the sprawl before it. “Can't wait to go outside already.”

Urara swung her head away from her other two friends and leaned close to Liying. “Where are you guys going today? You leaving the city yet?”

“Yeah, today, finally. Just Route 5. No, like, big adventure or whatever. Just battling practice.”

“Sucks they're not going further away this year.”

“Yeah. That's only for the older students now.” Liying sighed through her nose and folded her arms. ”I hate it here, man.”

Honorable Emolga Preparatory was just a big building, ten stories of classrooms and offices and a cafeteria adjunct that looked exactly the same as all the other office buildings in the Elesa District and in Downtown and in Midtown and in the Forest District, surrounded at all sides by the great plains of roads and other office buildings. Liying's Pokétraining class was mostly reading and lectures at the first half of the year, and the second half they've been doing field work but have had to leave everyday to a faraway park or to a rented space at Small Court. They were always taking the school bus everywhere.

“Uno!” Suah whined, hitting Uno's shoulder with the back of her hand again. “You missed the end of the video, like, six times. Looklooklook.”

“Stop hitting me!”

Uno had been listening quietly to Liying and Urara. She turned back to the X5, waiting until the video replayed back to the part when she stopped paying attention. Now the cloud cotton marshmallow beast was floating right overhead, slowly eclipsing the sun and casting an unnatural shadow over the crowd. A wave of 'Wow!'s and 'No way!'s flowed out of the crowd as the camera turned up to catch the beast's “belly.” The person recording – Uno thought to call him a “cameraman” but that seemed like a silly thing to say – laughed while going “That's crazy!” before the video ended and began to replay again.

Suah giggled. “It's like a parade float.”

Uno didn't laugh with the guy recording or with her friend. Looking at it on her friends' X5s and on the news and on her own Pokétch when the odd news piece snuck its way on her feed just made her nervous. It gave her the same feeling as looking up at aa massive skyscraper or going on an aggressive rollercoaster. But she didn't want to say she was afraid of it because that made her feel like a baby. There was fear, maybe, but something else that she didn't like was there too.

For whatever reason, Suah didn't pull back when the video replayed, so they both silently decided to watch it again. The parade float reared up again and moved to block the sun. And as the horrible shadow began to cover the people again, there suddenly rang out throughout the classroom, all through the school building, everywhere outside a furious percussive BOOM. It shook the windows and the tables – nothing more awful than that, but enough to make the students in the class cry out in surprise and fleeting terror. In the distance came the sound of crumbling stone and glass.

“What was that?” Uno said in a trembling voice.

“A bomb? An explosion somewhere?” Urara said, halfway out of her seat, hands clutched to the arms of her chair, slowly settling herself back down.

Some of the students began suggesting that they do the fire evacuation drill and leave, but Mr. Hasegawa told everyone to wait until a message came from the school intercom. A strange, unsettling sensation – the need to go pee for ten minutes – came over Uno, but she had to wait for Mr. Hasegawa to say something about what happened before she could ask to be excused.

⁂​
Her father pulled up to their parking space, calmer now finally and not talking about the bombing anymore. As he said at the end of the conversation, best to just forget about it. No one had been hurt, thankfully. He had called the receptionist at the office that was bombed. She was fine. He called his friend who worked there. He was also fine. Everyone there was fine – they were all out of the office when it happened.

“I'll make the special spicy noodles tonight,” her dad said cheerily as he got out of the car. “Ya' like that idea, hun?”

The closer they were to their house, the more uncomfortable Uno's school uniform was. Especially after today. She just felt like she was constantly sweating, not really from how hot it was but from this ugly sensation of her stomach bubbling and her heart bopping out of rhythm. She tried to hold on to the new line of conversation her dad was throwing at her. “Let me try to make them tonight.” She tugged her backpack from the trunk and let out a big breath. “I wanna try it myself once, without help.”

He gave her a weak smile and let his head hang, watching the pebbles of the parking lot pass his feet for a minute. “Yeah, I suppose you're big enough, right? You've watched me do it a hundred times.”

“That's what I've been saying, man.” She tried to give back a weak smile and tried to walk with her back a little straighter.

They walked past the apartment office, and the landlord waved to them as they passed the window. The adults from all over complex greeted them as she went by, and her dad greeted back, as he always did after picking Uno up from school, taking the same path to their house. For her part, Uno never really learned her own apartment number or their neighbors' or how the numbering system worked. She only knew her way around through habit and instinct. Maybe that's why all the neighbors said hello to them at the same time every day too. She never really did learn any of their names.

Once at their door, her dad stayed behind to collect the mail. She went to her room, shut the door, and started to undress. The burgundy-red school girls' jacket flew to the bed, its proper place. The silky gold and red plaid lining shined under the room's ceiling light. The also gold and red plaid tie went on top of it, just as shiny. She unbuttoned her white dress shirt, and it didn't come off so much as peel off, damp with sweat all over the back and chest. So were her leggings, her bra. All of her was sweatier than usual. The wind came in from the open window behind her and it was cool, but the way it flowed over her bare, wet skin made her nervous. She put on an old baggy shirt and sat on her school jacket, taking another big breath and wiping her forehead, wishing for her body to be normal.

A big picture of her mother hung about her desk on the other side of the room. It was in a beautiful frame, almost royal in the way it curled and swirled in these floral shapes—made out of brass if Uno remembered what her father said correctly. Her mother was a simple bench in a park somewhere – nowhere here in Nimbasa – with a grassy hill gently swelling up behind her. She had a small smile and was dressed humbly, a beige dress with long, gaping sleeves. More like a large curtain than a dress. She looked happy.

Uno felt herself calm down.

Her Pokétch ringed and flashed from the inside pocket of her school jacket.
  • Yo your dad ok?
Uno texted Suah back as she left her room for a drink and a snack:
  • Yes? y would he not be ok?
She had barely reached the fridge when Suah texted back again:
  • uhhhh the bomb?
  • My dad doesnt work in that office
  • so what, mine either but dont u remember? There was a bomb at his place too like three weeks ago.
Uno sat down at the dinning room table with a glass of water and pre-packaged salad and rolled her eyes. She didn't really want to keep talking about this, but Suah kept on going.
  • and his bosses office got fckd up too a week later at the construction place. - Then the company headquarters or whatever got a bomb threat. - Oh remember the note my dad got?
  • Ok whatever but my dad doesnt work with yours and he doesnt go to the development site. He does a totally different thing with the company so what r u talking aboot?
  • Haha u said aboot
  • are u for real rn? Holy **** shut up
Her messenger app notified her that Suah changed her contact name to “aboot girl” surround by two sparkle emojis. Uno texted her back:
  • plz b stupid at me tomorrow plz
  • hahahahaha hey check this out
Suah sent a ten-second video.
  • whats this???
  • its a guy dutch ovening his pachirisu hahahaha
  • im not watching that u dumdum go get a lfe or sumthin
  • hahahahaha – Hey Im gonna videocall u later tonite i need help with history
  • Sure – what time?
  • After dinner so do it b4
  • K
Suah finally stopped texting her.

When she looked up from her salad for a quick second, she noticed something out of place mixed in with the her dad's usual office papers and mail. It wasn't normal printer paper, but something like a page ripped from an old dirty magazine. She reached out for it and unfolded it – inside was a message pasted in cutouts of individual letters from newspapers and magazines, all in different sizes and type fonts, pasted so haphazardly that the message was nearly illegible:

gho auai leav forrest suffer if (no) lissen
It was almost impossible to take seriously.

But Uno couldn't help herself. The heavy sweat came back again, and her breath left her. She focused on the one word that was written correctly and thought about how she and father would be made to “suffer.”

“Dad,” she called as she got up from the table and went to the living room, where her dad was sitting on the couch. “What's this?”

Mr. Minamoto tilted his head up from his laptop, which he balanced on top of his belly, and narrowed his eyes at the paper in his daughter's hand. “Oh, honey,” he started and slid his laptop to the end-table. “I didn't want you to see that. Honestly, it's a load of nothing.” His face fell, his ugly goatee drooping with his mouth.

Uno sucked her bottom lip into her mouth and bit on it. She refolded the letter solemnly, delicately like she was making origami. “It's the same one Suah's dad got, right? Mr. Jo, at their house? Or the same kind?”

He nodded. “It looks like it, doesn't it?”

Uno took the seat next to him. It was hard, barely comfortable. The couch was new, expensive, from a specialty store, like most of the furniture. Like the end table and the laptop. Uno felt herself collapse on her father's belly, and he embraced her as she cuddled up to him. She wasn't sure if he said anything, but he was there for her clutch. He was fat and bald and had an ugly goatee, and she had always liked to burry her face in his belly and play with his goatee and run her hands over his shiny head. And it would bring her peace.

“Everything's going to be fine, baby girl. I promise, ok? We're going to be fine. Really, it's probably a bad joke. There's nothing to worry about.”

She wasn't sure if she believed any of that, but hearing him say it all stopped the sweat and the nerves and the dread, at least a little. Being called “baby girl” and hiding in his fat – she hated it all. It made her feel like a hopeless baby. But she loved it too, because it calmed her. It brought her peace. Even as she imagined how it would be like to die in an explosion, to have the apartment brought down on top of them, to not die immediately from the blast but to be crushed by falling stone and screeching metal. To be trapped under the dead body of the building and bleed helplessly while no one rescued her. None of that was ever anything she actually experienced, only what she had seen in movies and television. In the news sometimes, but nothing in Nimbasa. Yet the thoughts were vivid and alive. The letter almost seemed to vibrate in her pocket, and its presence on her she couldn't ignore. But at least the base terror of what was happening was passing, leaving now a simple dread of the future. She could manage herself through that, she thought.

After a while, she felt better enough to do some of her homework. This week was all about the “historiography”—a word she didn't quite understand—of certain Pokémon legends. She was drawn to the basic Unova legend about Reshiram and Zekrom, even if she felt like that made her a little basic too – she was the only one in class who chose to focus on it for their assignments. But there was something about the war, humans and Pokémon choosing sides, something with real stakes in it that she found compelling. Or maybe she was just basic.

All that was done pretty quickly, though. Now was time to make dinner. The thought of now being able to do it on her own made her happy. She put on her dad's apron – what was once her mother's, he always said – and tied it in big loopy ears behind her. It was a soft beige, thick and protective, with two sentences sown into it. On the chest was written, “The rule of the upright and the wise favors the belly over the eyes,” bordered by flowers of many colors. Her mother wrote it. One the belly, much less expertly done, was one written by her dad, “Kiss the cook,” followed by an attempt at a heart.

She picked up her Pokétch just to see if anything important was going on. There were a couple of messages in her and her friends' group chat, which they titled “Executives at DumDum Clearing House dot com.”

Suah had sent the Dutch oven video to the group chat without any preamble and Liying and Urara responded a couple times just a minute later:
  • wtf cmon man
  • **** off suah I hate u so much
  • ur so gross stop sending dum **** in the group chat
  • begging u to get a life like fr
Suah responded only once before the other two kept going:
  • dont hate me cuz im sexy u losers u know u L~U~V me
  • why dont u go jump in traffic or something
  • ur such a loser I swear i cant believe it
Uno decided not to make comments and simply took a picture of herself to send to the chat:
  • Sup guys Im cooking!
Urara and Liying texted back:
  • u look cute
  • good luck wish I could have sum
Uno smiled but stopped when Suah texted again:
  • hey guys did u know that uno texted “aboot” to me earlier today? Lmaoooooooo
And for the next couple of minutes the other three girls all texted back and forth:
  • aboot
  • aboot
  • aboot
  • aboot
  • aboot
  • aboot
  • aboot
  • aboot
Uno set her Pokétch aside and tried to concentrate on the cooking.

⁂​
It was time for another festival. There always was every other full moon or so; the Whimsicott found every reason under the sky to have a festival, but the true reason they held them was to spread the spoils of the forest around. That was not something Mantsy needed or desired, but they continued to invite him and to set aside the most delectable spoils for him at every such festival. No Whimsicott had been able to convince him to attend for great long while, but the chief Whimsicotts were particularly insistent this time, and he was finally won over when second- and third-hand whispers informed him that some old friends were interested in having him there.

He prepared himself for all the attention he would get, not just from the Whimsicott – the leaders and commoners alike – but from the other Pokémon of the forest, who came to these festivals to dance and delight with the Whimsicott, to enjoy the fruits of the earth with them that only the Whimsicott knew how to cultivate and gather, and for the protection of the hidden grotto that the Whimsicott colonized for this purpose. Very few of those who were not Whimsicott and Cottonee had seen a Ferrothorn, a creature of the cave as those of the forest would say in the Whimsicott's language – “yu-Cafifeyi.” They would have only known of his presence through the rumors of their parents and the oral tradition of their elders. His great size, his great age, and his obvious great power at first would bring them fear. Only the blessing of the Whimsicott made Mantsy approachable, and once the initial terror subsided what was left was a bright fascination. They would want to ask questions, wonder aloud to him what the way of world was like back in their parents' and grandparents' age, plead with him for a demonstration of his power, and to touch his steel body and awe at its luster.

That was all tolerable, even enjoyable, for a night or two, but not beyond that. And the longer he would hide from their eyes, the deeper their curiosity would ferment for the next time he appeared. The Whimsicott had stopped acting this way over a generation ago, but Mantsy did not enjoy talking to them so much, then or now.

A familiar face came to usher him to the grotto from his perch, a young Cottonee named U. Ylsmin ma Cyldoon ma Shyldoon ma Mudhal yu-Nimbasayi yu-Raduahkhan sen-Rysyl, called by many simply Senrysyl, “The Runner,” and by others simply “Ylsmin.” He was a clumsy boy that was not trusted with much besides taking things and people from here to there and back again.

Mantsy loosened his grip on his tree and lowered his body to the grass with a dull thud, hard enough to shake the ground for a moment between him and Senrysyl.

“I'm ready,” Mantsy grumbled. Senrysyl boweda – he tilted his whole round body down and up again – and led the way, taking care to go slowly so that Mantsy was always closeby.

Even after passing through the path to the grotto inumerable times, Mantsy never understood how it was that, at one moment, he was pushing himself through a mass of leaves in a bush that never seemed to end and, at the next moment, was suddenly in an earthern tunnel with a room at the end. But it was so. As Senrysyl floated before him, he was joined in the tunnel by a thin crowd of other Pokémon appearing from the leaves. Other Whimsicott and Cottonee were there, as were many other of those of the forest, and they did slow their gait to turn to him and gaze. His mighty spikes shook the dirt as he swumg his thick vines, and the sound echoed like a warning growl through the tunnel.

As he passed the threshold into the grotto itself, the five chiefs, sat at the very end at a plain office table, stood respectfully from their seats by, in fact, standing on the seats. The chief of chiefs of the Whimsicott, sen-Caleem yd-Djalaatun Ua. Heshyr ma Heshyr ma Heshyr ma Heshyr ma Heshyr yu-Gabayi yu-Hamdamkhan sen-Myntafic, known commonly as Heshry Semyntafic, “Heshyr the Puffy,” jumped from his seat to the table itself, stepping on and over the piles of food that it held. The foldable plastic table wobbled underneath him and nearly made him lose his balance. His regal fluff, his princely white mane, the most wide in the Whimsicott community, bounced behind his head. And he then called the grotto to attention for his announcement.

“Oh, my! Tufyl yu-Gyamun! Brothers and sisters of the Forest! Our great friend has graced us with his presence! Raise your food and your voices for our dear Mantsy!”

From there, the Whimsicott and the Cottonee immediately erupted in full, sincere cheer, throwing food up high above their heads, whether it was in their arms or their mouths. The other Pokémon, waiting for a cue from the Tufyl, soon followed in the same cheer. Mantsy silently, gratefully, regarded the crowd in the grotto before he took his place in the far corner, thankful that Heshyr did not say his complete Whimsicott name. Senrysyl bowed at him and fluttered away to begin his next duty.

Heshyr and the other leaders took their seats again and the festival resumed. The plastic office table shook again as they went back to feasting on the piles of food before them. Mantsy took note of the table itself, a very strange thing to see in the grotto. In previous festivals, there would have been a stone and earth platform that they would stand behind. They must have stolen it, Mantsy thought, from a raid. Of course the chiefs would save it for themselves.

They did, in fact, save the biggest table for themselves, but, as Mantsy observed, there were other suspicious looking pieces of furniture. School desks, large circular meeting tables, wooden end pieces, flimsy metal stand of the sort that the humans would take to the shore. Along with the traditional earth and stone platforms, those objects lined the perimeter of the grotto, holding on top of them the gifts of the forest and the Whimsicott– berries, nuts, ground vegetables of all kinds. And among those treats were other surprises – bags of chips, of cookies and other sugary junk, plastic baskets of pre-made salads, soda cans and bowls of juice, and fruits and vegetables of kinds that were not native to this forest.

They've been busy, Mantsy thought.

Senrysyl, at dependable intervals, floated back and forth between him and the food, bringing him selections from all over, balancing it on a wide porcelain plate, often dropping naked food on the dirt or spilling drinks from their cup. After a while, Mantsy told him to stop bringing him the human processed junk – he never did care for how much sugar and grease the humans tended to eat. He was not very hungry at all, actually, but it would be direspectful to not take part.

The Pokémon of the forest came and went from him as Senrysyl did. Children with their parents, the newly christened adults full of ambition and hope, some elderly folk for whose lives Mantsy had been a part of from the beginning, and those few who had seen him at the previous festival. They came to pay respects, to ask his advice, to tell them stories of times past, of what their ancestors were like, to revist old memories with the elders, and to perform a move or two. Mantsy politely obliged to all save the last. He knew his own power and he knew that, with not much effort, he could annihilate the grotto as though a giant had taken the roof with his bare hands and pulled it to the ground. He knew he could render each Whimsicott and Cottonee into mere swabs and their entire population would be helpless to stop him. But, of course, he chose not to do so. That was always fun to say in response to those who asked for him to show off.

Soon enough, Heshyr the Puffy jumped back onto the table, pushing crumbs and fruit peels to the floor, and demanded everyone's attention once more. “Friends! Give thanks to Uakheedun sen-Djalyl and all They have brought us!”

He was interrupted by another chief, who said, “Uakheed the Great? Do you mean me, brother? I am humbled by your praise!”

And then another. “No, Uakheed. Surely, he meant me, Uakheed!”

And another. “Brothers Uakheed and Uakheed, clearly Sencaleem was referring to me, the oldest Uakheed at this table!”

And the last continued in the same manner before they all were overcome by raucous laughter, tumbling over themselves from their cleverness. They laughed, then the common Whimsicott and Cottonee laughed, and then no one else laughed, before they settled down.

Chief of Chiefs Heshyr the Puffy proceeded to say a great many things that were not important before he was finished and the normal course of the night resumed. A child Budew who Mantsy was talking to just before asked him what the joke was supposed to be, and Mantsy explained – how many times this was now, he lost count – that “Uakheed” was the Whimsicotts' name for what they called the Spirit, this ephemeral force that represented the energy of the natural world. Some claimed that the Spirit, the Great Uakheed, Uakheedun sen-Djalyl, talked, with a voice, directly to them. So important was the idea of this Spirit that the large majority of Whimsicott and Cottonee – certainly those who were supposed to grow up into someone important – were given “Uakheed” as their first name by their parents.

“So how does anyone tell anyone apart?” the Budew asked.

“They call each other by their second names, or their job or a title,” Mantsy replied and turned his face to the chiefs' table. “The insane man who keeps jumping on the food is named Uakheed Heshyr, and I and the other chiefs just say Heshyr. The commoners call him Sencaleem Ydjalaatun, The Chief of Chiefs, or Heshyr the Puffy at other times. I call him neither of those.”

The Budew payed whole attention as he spoke, and her parents were themselves attracted to his voice. Such was their focus that they did not see Senrysyl rushing to them from behind. The young Cottonee, his eyes covered by another pile of food and drink, bumped into the Budew's father but through enough effort Senrysyl kept the foodstuff from collapsing on top of the father and istead swung around so that it could fall onto the dirt.

“Oh! Nononono, augh!”

“And this little man is Uakheed Ylsmin,” Mantsy began again, “and we call him—”

“E-e, uh, Eelzmen?” the Budew answered, trying as best as she could to get the pronunciation right.

“Very good,” Mantsy said, bowing in admiration to her. “His job is to take things and bring them elsewhere. So we call him—”

“The, um, Delivery Boy?”

Sen-Zebyuan go-Julub, exactly.

Senrysyl picked himself and the foodstuff up from the floor. “That's very funny, Zayuades,” he said flatly.

“What does that mean?” the Budew asked again.

“It's something like sir,” Mantsy answered. “Don't call me that, Miss. That goes for you too, Ylsmin.”

“Whatever you say, Zayuades.

“And, if you please, I do not wish to eat anymore. Bring food to my visitors, the food saved for me.”

“As you wish.” And Senrysyl took his leave again.

The Budew and her family bowed humbly before him. He returned the gesture. The visitors that were coming to him had dwindled quite a lot since the festival started, but now that he was giving away the special food to those who were with him, they began to return, and Mantsy passed the rest of the festival watching the normal folk of the forest enjoy something they could only enjoy once in a rare occasion – for many, almost never, until this night.

⁂​
Heshyr Senmyntafic closed the festival by saying some parting words. Mantsy only caught the segments where he obliquely referred to what the Whimsicott and he “accomplished” today, but there were no specifics. Heshyr was many things, but he was, in the end, also a man of his word, and for that Mantsy was sincerely grateful. But by now his belly was full, and it was past his usual hour to meditate. The old friends did not meet him as he expected; he suspected that may have a been purposefully made gossip meant to convince him to go. He met Senrysyl at the mouth of the grotto, but a shaking voice from behind them stopped them from leaving right away.

“Good evening, old friend.”

“Old friend,” Mantsy returned, his own voice full of true warmth. “Where have you been tonight, you dustball?”

“Elder Hashyr!” Senrysyl said as he twitched awkwardly in place, then bowed by turning his body all the way down until his eyes were nearly to the ground. “Where have you been? Er, no, I meant to say, it is an honor, Zayuades!”

The Elder Hashyr chuckled. “Yes, I know,” he said, lilting his tone up.

“Why did you not gift us with your presence earlier? Your son had told many of us to expect you and the other Elders.”

“My good Ylsmin, there are as many reasons as there are strands of puff in Gyamun sen-Djalyl.” Heshyr the Father raised his head and leaned back his back like a sturdy tree facing a storm. “The most significant reason, however, is that we find our sons very boring, indeed. Now, please do me a favor and allow me to escort this fat metal bean to his home tonight. We have not had any chance at all to catch up.”

Heshyr the Son, the Chief of Chiefs, had sternly ordered Senrysyl to be at Manty's side and beck and call come rain or hail and to leave him for no reason, but all that was unimportant in the face of a request by the Father. “Absolutely, Zayuades! Please, uh, help yourself. Or, um, go right ahead and, eh, do as you wish. Not that you need my permission, but—have a good evening!”

Senrysyl bowed once again, this time so hard that he nearly spun himself completely around in the air, and fluttered away to the chiefs' table, bumping into every which Pokémon on the way.

“Whose child is he?” Elder Heshyr wondered out loud.

“I believe he is the son of one of sencaleem Sylakh's cousins,” Mantsy said.

“Charming boy,” Elder Heshyr said. He tucked his arms behind his back and began to walk ahead. “Come. There's much to talk about.”

From across the grotto, Heshyr the Son could be heard crying out, “My father?!” before lowering his voice once more.

“Is there?” Mantsy asked as he moved with Heshyr the Father through the tunnel, side by side. The old Whimsicott was an stately man – age had taken a toll on his brown skin, made it faded and somewhat loose, but Elder Heshyr carried it handsomely. His mane, the majestic cotton fluff that was the pride of all Whimsicott, had the look of a wilting flower than a full proud cloud. It was almost more like human hair than Whimsicott cotton. But he had long, heavy mint-green horns at each side of his head, and even at his old age they kept growing longer. There was nearly more horn than head.

As the two walked through the tunnel, they passed by the other Tufyl and folks of the forest, who all looked at them as though they were the most austere trees brought to life, taking one last glance at a sight they won't see again for at least several months. Pokémon with their bellies full, many for the first time in a long while and the last time for just as long, were able to find one last moment of wonder before the night truly ended.

“There is,” Heshyr the Father replied. “Or, really, something to show.”

“I thought your son had said all that had to be said,” Mantsy said, with an unusual tilt of his own in his voice. His old friend was being coy.

“He did and much more, but even he does not know everything that is important.”

“That is certainy true.” Mantsy paused the conversation when they came to the leafy threshold. They pushed forward, a sea of leaves enveloping them as they moved, and then as quickly as they came over them they disappeared. There was no one else but him and his friend. Perhaps the other Pokémon found the grotto through different means? Perhaps each was personal. Mantsy did not know, and no Whimsicott could tell him. Not that he would ask.

“Let's hike, old bean,” the Elder Heshyr said. “Stick close and you won't get lost.”

“Of course,” Mantsy replied. “Don't be afraid to ask for help if you're attacked in front of me.”

“I wouldn't ask you for help if every Garbodor in the land tried to bury me in their filth. Now, when you learn how to grow a good Lansat berry, then I may need your help.”

“Still fooling around with berries, old man? I think your son may have surpassed you in that skill by now.”

“One of his few talents, I suppose.”

The old friends barbed for a while as they weaved their way through the trees, turned blue by the deep night and the full moon, and eventually fell silent, with only the ground rumbling from Mantsy's feelers and the crackling of snapping leaves underfoot filling the air. Mantsy never felt the cold, really, and if Heshyr the Father was cold he didn't show it. But he was always told by the common folk that the forest's nights were bitterly cold, such that, in times past, the orphaned, the sick, the banished and outlawed, could be found by the next morning frozen dead from the cold. None remembered those times, but Mantsy did – the ages before the current Mutual Age, Khasrun go-Mytabaadjeel.

“How are you feeling, Mantsy?” Heshyr the Father said without prompt. He jumped and floated across the forest floor, from tree root to tree root, almost efortlessly, barely moving his arms or his head while his cotton mane trailed behind him like a comet's tail.

“Normal, I suppose.” Each swing of his feelers was getting slightly harder. The forest was bigger than it felt at first, and Mantsy had never traversed it all from farthest point to farthest point. Not even now, when there was less of it. But he was also much more tired than in the days of the forest's highest glory.

“Do you have any sensation of what's to come? Dread, maybe? Hope? A mix?”

Mantsy thought seriously about this. From anyone else, it was not a worthy question. For Heshyr the Father, he tried to look deep inside himself for some kind of answer. “I'm not sure. Normal, as I said. I don't feel any change.”

“Interesting,” was all Elder Heshyr said. It did appear as though he was about to say more, but something more pressing came to his mind. “We're just about there, at the peak of highest hill. Things will be clearer there.”

They came to a clearing just as the ground beneath them was about to swell to the hill's highest peak. A lone Sneasel stood there, studying the space before her, the sprawl of the unfinished Power & Light District and the orange and blue and green and purple lights of Downtown and the Stadium District glowing harshly in the far distance. The Sneasel took silent notice of the two briefly before looking off into space again.

Mantsy and Heshyr the Father joined the Sneasel in that space, and there Mantsy could see the Power & Light in its fullness, bared naked to him and the two other Pokémon by the white light of the moon and the stars. The skeletons of big stone buildings standing staunchly from the ground like dead trees, their wooden scaffolding, acres of cement and asphalt rolling out for acres like wild pasture. Black street and grey sidewalk, one day soon filled with the feet of humans and the rubber of tires, filled with urban sound and electric light the way water fills a lake. And by peering down further, they could see exactly where the development ended and the forest began – stone and pebble abruptly stopping and giving way to the dirt of the forest, the roots of the trees, and the foot of the hill. The shell of a future office building just behind this border, so close that the three could make out the entire roof.

“Look towards the South,” Heshyr the Father said simply.

Both Mantsy and the Sneasel did so, following the old Whimsicott's head for guidance as they tried to find something notable, something out of the ordinary. And then it revealed itself to them all at once, the silhouette of a four-legged, hooved creature. A Swasbuck was the first thing that came to Mantsy's mind, but as if it had armor and was much bigger, with a head like a three-pointed star. They all fixed their gaze to the dark shape and only faintly could they make out the movement of its head. It was noticing them as they watched it. And as quickly as they all began to share this moment, the dark shape bent its legs and launched itself into the night sky, a sharp green trail of light flashing behind it. Mantsy and the Sneasel flinched as the buildings were washed in a grass-green glow for one brief second. They went dark again, with only the moon and the stars once more, and seemed much darker and lifeless than before, like black ghosts rising up from a void.

“I see,” Mantsy said, nearly as soft as a whisper.

“Yes,” Heshyr the Father said.

“That creature feels familiar to me. It does not make much sense, but I feel as though I've seen it before.”

“It is familiar, old friend.”

“Is it a sign? An omen?”

“Yes, I believe so.”

“Of what?”

“Something.”

Mantsy blinked. “Yes, of course.”

“I have noticed a great many things like that for years now. They grow only more frequent with the passing of time. Signs, one might call them. I don't know. But things are changing faster than we can notice.”

“Power & Light is a lot bigger than it was years ago. That much is certain.”

“Yes, it is.”

The talk lulled. There was nothing more to see, but what was left to say was intimidating. “Heshyr,” Mantsy said. “You say the Spirit talks to you. What have they said lately?”

Elder Heshyr did not answer right away. “I am not sure. Uakheedun speaks in riddles and not of what is at hand. At least, not directly. Their messages are long and my memory fails me. And I am sorry, but it appears as though I am failing you right now, old bean.”

The old Whimsicott giggled and gave Mantsy a gentle grin. Mantsy bowed and lowered his voice. “You have never failed me, old goat,” he said. “I am sure the Spirit has a plan for us all.”

“Indeed, and I believe that my usefulness in that plan is nearing its end. That much does seem certain. Soon, I must leave its fruition to others.” The wind rose, and the leaves of the forest rattled violently behind them. “If I am right, you and this young, icy woman know each other. You both have much to say, and I am not needed to hear it.”

With that, Elder Heshyr swung his body to face both his friend and the Sneasel. “When I am needed again, I will be near. Do not doubt that. All I have for each of you now is a meager parting gift.”

He made a sharp move back and snapped his head forward, and a poofy explosion of prickly cotton balls burst forth with the pop of a firecracker from where the old Whimsicott once was. These were truly awful little things, and as they propagated in the air and tickled Mantsy's body, they gave Mantsy the sensation of a petrifying itch from deep within his being.

“Good night, friends!”

The wind carried the little things away from him, but he needed a minute before he felt like he could move again. Cotton Spore when he least expected it. The old fungus still pulls that trick off flawlessly, Mantsy thought. He let his guard down with Elder Heshyr, but he reminded himself now of the endless potential of all Whimsicott to be painfully annoying and the endless they derive from it.

He turned to the Sneasel, and, from the look on her face, he could tell she was passing through her own struggle against Heshyr the Father's parting gift, with the fur of her skin standing on their ends across her body in wave. When she was finally back, she huffed hard through her nose.

“Sifeng,” Mantsy began. “Hello.”

“Mantsy,” she returned. She folded her arms and kept her attention on the landscape in front of her. Now that he was really looking at her, Mantsy could notice that she was wearing a peculiar jacket, a black and blue curiosity, striped at the sleeves and with the word “SECURITY” written on the back. She wasn't wearing it when he contracted her. “How was your party?”

Mantsy was surprised she knew of that, so much that he didn't think to answer the question. “You weren't allowed in?”

Sifeng shook her head, but didn't change her expression. “The old man told me that no outsiders were allowed. He said it was tradition.”

“Well, that's true, but—” Mantsy left his thought incomplete. Other Nimbasa folk he worked with had been allowed in the festivals before. “You weren't waiting out here all this time, I hope.”

Sifeng shrugged, again with an unchanging expression. “It's fine. Y'know, it's a really nice place here.” Her slender head swiveled as she rambled. “The forest, I mean. It's really peaceful and all that, and a lot of things actually. I don't know, I get a really strange feeling from this place. A good one, I mean. Y'know, the humans call it—”

“Lostlorn Forest.”

“Yeah.” Sifeng focused on the brightest lights coming from the North. “Wow. Big Stadium and the Theater look so tiny. You can't even see Small Court.”

“I have not seen those places up close in many, many years. They have always seemed small to me.”

Sifeng then tilted her head back to look straight up. There was the full moon, the grey ridges of its face, and the sea of stars around it. “I've never seen the sky so bright like that. There's so many stars. I never realized how many.”

“In many other places on this Earth, they are brighter and even more numerous still. And many ages ago, you could go to an empty field, away from the humans, and see a sky peppered with stars. And behind them were clouds.”

“Clouds?”

“Yes. Not like the ones that cover the sun and give us rain. These were purple and orange, truly transcendental. They were the borders of the heavens themselves.”

“Mmm.” Sifeng lowered her head back down, and it didn't seem like her eyes were focused on anything in particular. “I was born in a Daycare in the city. My trainer doesn't do much travelling. Most of the time, we're in the house or at work. I mean, I'm not complaining, but, y'know. I just ain't never been away.”

Something like a dull sadness filled Mantsy's body. He did not know what to say to that and so merely recited a small fact about himself. “I was also born in a Daycare, or what we would call a Daycare now.”

“Mmm. You're pretty lucky, I guess.”

He was not sure what she meant by that. He did not think to ask her to clarify either. And she made no movement to suggest that there was to be more conversation on this topic. There was only one other topic left. Business. “How did everything go?” Mantsy asked, his tone dropping deep.

Without any hesitation, Sifeng said, “Perfectly.”

“Are you hurt?”

“Nope. Not a scratch.”

“What about your associates?”

“They're all fine. We all took care of ourselves.”

“And humans?”

“No one was in the office, if that's what your wondering. I told you there wouldn't be.”

“I know that. What about outside? Pedestrians?”

“Not a soul. Everything was clean and bloodless.”

Mantsy closed his eyes and sighed. “Was that luck or planning, I wonder?”

Sifeng huffed again and narrowed her eyes at him. “I knew when to do it,” she said in a snap. “Don't you worry about that, buddy.” Another huff, and she let her momentary frustration pass. “I'm not in this game to hurt people, or kill them, anyway. That's not what this is about.”

“Then we share the same mind,” Mantsy said with confidence, to put an end to all doubts between them. And for now there were none, and both Pokémon felt as though a heavy stone was take off their bodies.

Sifeng took a seat, her jacket shuffling as the fringe fell to the grass with her waist, draping over her tail feathers. It was like the sound of leaves, but more synthetic. Her ear feather twitched, twice backward, and then she spoke. “There's someone I'd like you to meet.”

She paused and began to play with her ear feather, flicking it back and forth with her claw. Mantsy reacted not at all and simply waited.

“Someone who can help. I think you'll want to meet her too. She works on the Force—I mean, as in she's police. She's a cop. She worked with her trainer in Downtown, and then they got transferred to the Elesa District. So she'll be in a good position to help out, if y'know what I mean.”

“Police? She'll work with me?” Against his trained discipline, his feelers woke up and arched high, and he pushed down on his weather-beaten spikes to face the Sneasel more directly. “I would never have thought—this is—this is truly important.” He reclaimed control of himself and turned away. “This will change many things.”

“That's what I''m hoping. I can bring her here in about a week, I think?”

“Bring her to the foot of this hill, where Power & Light ends and the forest begins. A friend will be there to meet her and guide her through the forest. He will now where to meet me.”

Sifeng widened her eyes. “I think it would go a long way if you were there to meet her in front of the forest, but that's just me. Do what you think you need to.”

And the two individuals rested there, no talk and no movement, with Nimbasa layed out in front of them. What did the city mean for her? Maybe she was looking out into the great distance to find her house, a game that the humans liked to play whenever they high enough to look down and take in the entirety of their town. That was maybe how the flying Pokémon felt like every day, to be able to at once see things as all one whole and then to be able to go down and perceive perfectly its different parts.

“I should go home,” Sifeng said, grunting from getting back on her feet. “Have a good night, old man.”

They faced each other fully for the first time tonight and bowed. Sifeng stretched her arms out and kneeled, lifting her heels from the grass, and Mantsy saw her begin to leap from her stance before she disappeared in a streaky white flash. As he stared down the hill, he could see very faintly where she, in her great speed, was disturbing the grass and the dust, but could not see her skinny body itself. What a blessing it was, he thought, to move in that way and not be seen. Yet another kind of feeling he would never have.

He thought about the new associate Sifeng would bring. Police. In his excitement for an associate from such an important source, he had briefly forgotten what he was always told as a young boy, what he had tried to tell the others: that police, enforcers of illegitimate human domination, were not to be trusted under any circumstances. But those willing to be traitors to help the cause were immensely valuable—that was another lesson he was taught and tried to teach. Trust should be given to those who ask for it and have earned it, and everyone must be given a chance to earn trust. Yet those who willingly chose to work for the forces of domination could not be trusted.

So many lessons, the truths he was brought to believe in, were so difficult to weave together, He wanted to ask the Spirit themselves what he should do, to be clear and concise, but he had never tried to directly 'talk' to the Spirit in a long time. The Whimsicott told him that tree would yield no fruit. And he was tired, too tired for more conversation, more exchanges of different thoughts and conflicting ideas. Too tired to go back to his perch. So he retreated only shallowly back to the forest, behind the peak of the hill, into the first tree he found, and assumed his meditative coil. It was not long before he heard the Spirit.

What the Illusioned Mind calls “injustice” the Empty Mind calls harm. What the Illusioned Mind calls “justice” the Empty Mind calls healing. The primary form of harm is thievery—its natural opposite is resotration. When what was once stolen is returned, that is what is called “restoration.” When one who has been harmed becomes healed, that is what is called “restoration.”

What was once stolen cannot twice be stolen—it can only be restored or carried farther away. When the Father steals and hands down what was stolen to his Son, the Son is not made a thief, but he does carry it further away. Thus the Son's responsibility is not to assume the burden of guilt but to restore. Thus our responsibility is to seek restoration, not to burden others with guilt. Guilt begets Punishment, and the great illusion of Punishment is that it is healing and lifts away Guilt. The Empty Mind sees that Punishment only harms and makes us all bearers of Guilt.

Thus the Empty Mind shuns Guilt and turns towards Restoration. Thus the Emtpty Mind chooses not Punishment for the thief, for Father and Son, but Responsibility to heal.


This had nothing in relation with anything that had happened. And besides, why do the Emptyminded shun punishment? Do thieves and murderers, those who harm in ways that cannot simply be “restored,” not deserve punishment? Mantsy thought so, or felt that he did.

Then sleep overcame him.
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A/Ns: Did not like how the way I tried to portray texting with the bullet points came out. It looked much better in Open Office. Probably won't bother to fix it though.
Going to sleep. Might have more thoughts later.
 
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