AGNPH Stories

My Name is Kaine by servussmith


Story Notes:

This is my EXCELLENT ADVENTURE! contest submission

Chapter 4

Life carried on in this unorthodox manner for a good while, and during this time I also learned how to survive in the middle of nowhere, hack computers, breaking and entering (we practiced on actual houses and sometimes even drove to a larger town to practice on more sophisticated security), stealth, and impersonation (something I was naturally very good at). I also mastered ranged combat with a variety of weapons, mostly simulated with hot paint and rubber rounds though occasionally we would go to ranges or the wilderness and do live fire exercises. It was fun, and I became pretty damn good with a few of the weapons, even learning to shoot a pistol with my off hand, but I still favored getting close and personal with a spear or knife. It was during one of our wilderness outings that something huge happened. We were having a combined match where we used our preferred melee weapons, spears, and a gun of our choice using hot painter rounds.

I dove behind a tree as the red 'bullets' zipped by me. I took a moment there behind the tree to assess my situation: I was screwed. I was down to half a 'cell' in my sidearm, a simulation plasma pistol. Plasmas are heavy for pistol use, and only get twelve shots to a cell, but they shoot straight and have the stopping power to floor a charging aggron or take down a mobile infantry trooper if you place the shot just right. I've heard they also have a reputation for exploding if they overheat. Regardless, I had six shots left and Uncle Abi was still a hundred yards away bunkered behind a boulder across the field from me with way more shots left in his assault rifle. There was no way I could cross that gap to engage him with a spear or disarm him without taking a chest full of hot paint. It was not humanly possible for me to win. But then again, I wasn't human, was I?

Slowly a grin spread across my face and I holstered my pistol. Turning to face the tree I dug my claws into the bark and climbed up the side of the tree. Once I was up in the branches I leaned ever so slightly around the trunk to check out the boulder and the tall grass around it where I knew Uncle Abi was hiding in a gillie suit with his spear covered. At this point I had two options, open fire on where I guessed he was, or try something unorthodox. Focusing, I created a duplicate of myself standing at the base of the tree and then drew my pistol again. My copy then ran around the tree and across the field. Almost immediately Uncle Abi opened fire, revealing his position to the right of the boulder. My copy vanished and I fired on him, it was wide to the left as he had begun moving as soon as my trick had been revealed.

Leaping from the tree along with a pair of duplicates, we hit the ground and scattered as hot paint once again flew around me. We all moved into the open field, weaving and dodging wildly as Uncle Abi and I fired on each other. My gun clicked empty and I hurled it at Uncle Abi just as his stopped firing and my duplicates vanished. He dodged my gun as he ditched his own and we both met in the middle of the field with our spears. We danced around each other, each pushing against the other's guard and being pushed in turn.

In one of my pushes I managed to land a kick on Uncle Abi's chest, forcing him to stumble backwards as I flipped into a back handspring. As my hands touched down I grabbed some moist earth and flung it in Uncle Abi's face as he lunged at me. His attack faltered as the dirt peppered his face and struck his goggles, partially blinding him for a split second. I slipped past his spear and thumped him hard in the side of the head with the edge of my spearhead.

He stumbled past me and I let out a victory cry. Suddenly I felt something strange, like an electric tingling in my bones. My illusion vanished in spite of my best efforts and a soft glow encompassed my body. I felt myself grow and change then. When the glow faded I knew what had happened; I had evolved. I felt stronger, and I sure as hell looked stronger. Even with the short fur covering my body it was obvious I was just as ripped as Uncle Abi, and I was also a little taller than him now. I heard a laugh behind me and turned to see Uncle Abi laughing at me. "What?"

"Your hair." He snickers, "You look like the lead singer of a goth hair metal band."

I reached up and sure enough, my grey shoulder length curls had exploded into the stereotypical zoroark mane of a ponytail that reached all the way down my back. "Suddenly I realize how it is possible for a zoroark to hide her babies in her mane."

Uncle Abi smiled that kinda sad looking smile he gets every now and then and he nodded, "Yep, it's quite a do. I recommend we get it cut as soon as possible."

I began searching through the grass for my painter pistol, "Agreed. It's ridiculous."


Back at the house, and one heck of a haircut later (I also trimmed off all the extra shoulder fur), I read the flyer that had been set before me, "State Melee Competition? What is that?"

"It's the closest humans come to fighting a pokémon battle themselves." Uncle Abi replied with a grin, "Using any melee weapon you battle another opponent to the 'death'. Everything is simulated using shock suits so nobody actually dies. However, I think it is an appropriate challenge for your finally becoming an adult."

I took a look at the date of the competition. "Well it is on my eighteenth birthday."

"And to celebrate the occasion I'll pay the entrance fee and cost of the simulation weapons." He added with a grin. Suddenly his expression got deadly serious, "If you come out the ultimate victor, you'll be a Red Hydreigon."

It took a moment for me to realize what he had just said. When I did, you could have knocked me over with a feather. "What?"

"I'll make you a Red Hydreigon if you come out the state champion with no losses."

I stared at him, expecting him to crack a smile or something that would tell me he was joking, but he was serious. "You can do that?"

"Yes. Why do you think that most of our identities were kept a secret?"

"To avoid retribution." I told him, "So that you could live a normal life. At least that's what the history books said. They also said the unit was disbanded at the end of the war."

"That is the official story, but the truth was that the same people who created our unit were worried about having a need for us again. So they gave us orders to disperse and select individuals in the population to train up in secret." He chuckles a bit bitterly, "Technically I'm supposed to train up a human, and my partner would train the pokémon. In your case she would have taught you how to use your moves more effectively, to channel your energies more efficiently, and ultimately be one of the most powerful warriors on the planet. Unfortunately she is no longer with us, so you'll just have to settle for my side of the deal. Once you become a Red Hydreigon, the government will outfit you with top of the line armor and pretty much whatever the hell else you want. They also have drugs now that they can give you that increase your reaction and speed to near pokémon levels, but I doubt you need any of that stuff."

I didn't know what to say in response to that. I could tell that whoever his partner was, and whatever she was, he missed her a lot. However, I didn't have to say anything as Uncle Abi stretched and grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge. "Anyway, I'll let you decide what sort of weapons loadout you want for the competition. No projectile weapons allowed unfortunately, and you have to be able to carry the full loadout for at least the first two minutes of a match. I'm gonna go for a walk."

I watched him leave, and then went to my room to study my Gospel. I lay on the bed, unable to focus on the scriptures before me, my mind caught up in wondering about Uncle Abi's past. I had never really asked him about it. I had merely accepted that he had been a part of the Red Hydreigons because, well, he just seemed badass enough to be one. I hadn't really thought about the fact that all of the Red Hydreigons had been paired with pokémon partners, a partner who was very obviously not here.

Who was she? What was she? What would life have been like with another person here? What was she like? These questions and hundreds of others raced through my mind, and I knew that I could not get the answers I wanted by lying there in bed. I climbed to my feet and snuck to the door, avoiding the squeaking boards, and crept through the house, looking for any sign that Uncle Abi had returned. When I was sure he was not in the house I hurried to his door and quietly pushed it open.

He had kept his room Spartan, it was only a bed and a small table. His clothing was all tucked away in the closet, so there was no need for a dresser. There were three photographs on the dresser. The first was of Uncle Abi when he was younger standing with what must have been his parents and sister at the beach. The second was of an even younger Uncle Abi with a pokémon egg in his lap.

The third was what really caught my attention. It was of a woman in a short, yellow sundress holding a flower. She had dark brown complexion that offset her hair which was dyed a spectacular shade of blue that was pulled back in a thick braid. She was slender, pretty, and obviously athletic, but that wasn't what caused me to stare at her the way I did. It is hard to say now just what about her did it, but everything about her seemed to shine with something intangible. The way she held herself, she just seemed to be so sure of herself, so confident, but without a hint of vanity. The playful smile that she almost hid behind the white rose she had touched to her lips, the way the corners of her eyes scrunched up a little with her smile, like she was thinking of a prank to be played. Everything about her drew me in and made me wonder, who was she?

"What are you doing in my room?"

Jumping in surprise, I dropped the photograph. The glass frame shattered on the hardwood floor and Uncle Abi let out a string of profanities, pushing me aside to get at the fragmented frame. I watched as he gathered up the bits and pieces as well as the photograph. I caught a glimpse of some yellow legal pad paper in the mess, but when I bent down to get a closer look and help pick up the pieces, Uncle Abi whirled on me, snarling, "Out. Now!"

I stumbled backwards from him in surprise. In all the time I had known him, I had never seen him angry at anyone, and he had never been harsh with me even when we were training. I scrambled out of there as fast as I could and didn't stop running until I was sitting in the loft of the barn. I knew I was in deep shit. I had only gotten in trouble once before, when I had used my illusion ability to buy some liquor and had gotten drunk while Uncle Abi was at his job working in the silver mines that Lincoln lived off of. My punishment was a workout far more brutal than anything I had ever done before or since, and I was doing it drunk so I ended up hurting myself plenty. It wasn't over until I had blacked out from heat stroke. I woke up with an IV in my arm and a warning never to drink again. I still can't pick up a bottle of whiskey without shuddering. However, he hadn't been angry then, just cold. He was angry now, and I was scared shitless.

I climbed higher into the rafters and cast an illusion of shadow around me. Anyone looking would only see a dimly lit group of rafters and maybe a translucent shadowy mist. It wasn't a cloak of invisibility but it was pretty damn close. After a while I heard the barn door open and shut. I glanced down to see Uncle Abi taking a seat on a weight bench. He didn't look angry, just tired and old. He turned his face towards the ceiling and sighed, "Come down from there, Abel."

I frowned and dropped my illusion, "How did you know I was up here?"

"Process of elimination." Uncle Abi replied with a weary smile, "And a good guess."

I carefully leapt out of the rafters and rolled across the ground to lessen the impact. When I stopped I took a seat on the ground across from Uncle Abi. "I'm sorry for snooping, and for breaking the picture frame."

Uncle Abi just nodded, "I know. It was an accident that the frame broke. You were only snooping because I never told you much about me and you got curious." He smiles slightly, "I'm actually surprised it took you this long to try and find out more about my past."

I nodded in return and then we sat in silence for a long time. Finally I asked, "Who was she?"

"Her name was Opal, she was my wife and closest friend. Cancer took her from me not long before I first saw you." He said sadly, "I married her as soon as I got back to the states after the war. We had known each other for our entire lives, and had wasted so much time already looking elsewhere for our soulmates..."

I did some quick math in my head, well, it was quick for me; it actually took me more than a minute to figure out just how long they had been married. I suck at math. "You were married for 35 years and never had kids?"

Uncle Abi's head sags, "We tried, my god, we tried. Legal, illegal, it didn't matter we tried everything. But... they did things in the initial Red Hydreigon program, things that were illegal under national and international law then and still are. The survival of the nation and its people was the first and only consideration, any side effects that didn't impede combat effectiveness were considered secondary. One of those side effects was infertility. It was absolutely impossible for me to give her the child she, we, wanted."

"Why didn't you adopt?" I asked, trying not to sound incredulous. Having been up for adoption, I knew that one of the reasons people came to adopt was being unable to produce their own. That and having been adopted myself, I was something of a fan of the process in general.

"She..." Uncle Abi smiled as a tear rolled down his face, "Even though she could have still had one through someone else's seed, she didn't want one that wasn't mine too. For similar reasons she didn't want to adopt."

I didn't know what to say, though it did set me to thinking about my own future. Except for that one crush I had on Hannah, I had not really thought much about girls, was too busy to be honest. But in that moment, I knew that I would kill to have a woman like Opal.

After a couple minutes, Uncle Abi wiped his eyes and sighed, "Well, enough about my past. Let's talk about your future. Have you decided on a load-out?"

I shook my head, "Too busy thinking about your pokémon partner, and then about Opal. I know I want a spear like the kind I always practice with."

"You could just go with that." Uncle Abi pointed out, "You've never really needed any more than that before."

"I think I want a kukri as well. In a belt sheath." I replied, fiddling with one ear. "Just in case I need something I can use at extremely close distances."

Uncle Abi stood up and clapped his hands, "Alright, I'll make it happen. Come on, let's get something to eat, I'm starving."

I smiled, "How about eggs? I could really go for some eggs. And bacon."

"How about I throw in some pancakes?" Uncle Abi asked, helping me to my feet.

I nodded enthusiastically, "Heck yeah."

We never really talked about Opal much after that, but I did notice that Uncle Abi put the picture of Opal out in the hall in a new frame hanging from the wall. However, that frame didn't have the yellow paper in it, I checked one day when Uncle Abi was at work. For a long time, the desire to know what that paper contained would nag at me, but I never dared to snoop around Uncle Abi's room again.


When my birthday finally rolled around and we headed off to the State Melee Competition in Sawsbuck City, I was really nervous. Not about the competition, mind you, but being around lots of people. Lincoln was a small mining town, a crowded place around there had twenty people in it. Sawsbuck City was more like Jackson, the city I had grown up in. there were going to be thousands of people at this event alone.

When we arrived at the stadium where the event was being held, I was chewing on my claws like there was no tomorrow. Uncle Abi glanced over from the driver seat and slapped me upside the head, "Chill out. Unless somebody I know shows up, you have nothing to worry about at all."

I nervously fingered Rio's feathers which I had used to tie back my hair into a loose ponytail, "What do you mean?"

"I mean there is a possibility that I may not be the only Red Hydreigon testing his or her pupil at this event." He replied with a chuckle as he unbuckled and got out of the van.

Great, now I had to worry about blowing my cover and the fights. I sighed and got out of the van as well. I followed him to the entrant's table, where officials were waiting to lead fighters to booths where they could get suited up. A thin blond haired man looked us over and asked for our registration. We handed it over and he gave us directions to our stall.

It was a small cubicle set up outside the arena where contestants could change into their shock suits in privacy. I looked at the skin tight suit and realized this was going to be tricky. I have claws, and while convincing others that they aren't there with my illusion ability is pretty easy, you can't convince an inanimate object very easily.

I've only ever done something like that once while rock climbing, saved my life and neither Uncle Abi nor I could really explain it. I was more than a hundred feet up the cliff wall and had failed to put on my safety harness because my head had gotten a bit too big when the ledge I was hanging from crumbled. I fell backwards away from the cliff wall with a curse.

I was in free fall, it couldn't have been more than a couple seconds but that short time stretched into eternity as I shut my eyes. I prayed for wings, and even gave them to myself via my illusion. I spread the illusionary limbs wide and too my surprise, they caught the wind and flipped me around. I tilted them and flared them wider, feeling the wind pull on my new limbs as I fell, albeit much slower. I flapped them once before I hit the ground, going much slower than I should have been. It still hurt like hell, but nothing was broken in the fall when I should have been a broken mess of fur and gore. I wasn't able to replicate it, and both Uncle Abi and I labeled it a miracle and moved on.

Uncle Abi tapped my shoulder and I was pulled out of my musing to find Uncle Abi holding up a pair of nail clippers. "These ought to deal with the claws at least in part."

I sighed and took the clippers, and after cutting my hand and foot claws nearly to the quick I stripped down to nothing. Literally nothing, not even my fur coat covered me any more since we shaved it off yesterday and went over me again with a razor this morning. That was not fun and I felt ridiculous without my illusion. Even with my claws cut down I have to be careful as I put on the shock suit, basically it looks like a latex body suit that leaves little about the wearer's body to the imagination, however it is made of the same material as body armor so it keeps the simweapons from piercing the flesh and also can provide an electric shock when a simweapon makes contact with it.

Once the suit was on, Uncle Abi looked me over, and then laughed. "You know, in hindsight a cup probably would have been a good idea. For decency."

Like I said, the suit leaves nothing to the imagination. Let's just say I'm a gifted individual and leave it at that. I'm also kinda proud of that fact. I shrugged, "I doubt I'm gonna be the only person unintentionally flashing their goods out there, and I would hope that the people watching will be more interested in watching the spear in my hands than the one between my legs."

Uncle Abi rolled his eyes, "Except unlike them, I know you could be a little more discrete if you really wanted to be."

"Fine, I'll be a little less bold about it." I chuckled, modifying my appearance slightly with an illusion. That was the nice thing about the shock suit, although it showed everything, it also covered everything but my head. As a result, the only things I needed to cover with illusion were my claws, head, and, for decency's sake, my crotch. I grabbed my simweapons and headed for the door. "Let's go check out the arenas."

The arenas were areas in the stadium that were fenced in by tall Plexiglas shields that protected the audience in case simweapons went flying. There were eight of them set up in the stadium, and there were lots of people milling about around the arenas and in the stands as well. Officials seemed to be testing the registering equipment that monitored the shock suits and recorded all the hits in each battle, and determined the effectiveness of each hit based on the force of the blow, location of 'wound', edged or blunt, and if it was edged, the cutting motion is taken into account as well. The computers would even account for blood loss from numerous cuts! Pretty crazy actually. Regardless of the computer's amazingness, it was going to hurt being hit without even clothes to blunt the blow and the thin shock suit would only block cutting, not force. Naturally, I would be doing everything in my power to avoid being hit.

Suddenly there was a call put out over the loudspeakers for all the entrants to assemble and have their simweapons and gear registered and calibrated. We headed down towards where the officiating systems were along with dozens of others. I looked at the wide variety of weapons choices ranging from dual knives to war axes, from war hammers to reaping scythes. The entrants were just as diverse, coming in every size and shape and race and gender. Looking them over, I wasn't very worried by what I saw. Most of them looked like they would be a piece of cake, though there were still quite a few that looked like they would be a hell of a fight.

Then I saw him. His face was lean and he was broader than me, with just as much a sculpted body as me. Strapped to his left arm was a long, edged shield, more of a broad arm blade really, and in the other he held what looked like a bladed whip with a short spear tip on the end. His eyes were narrow and he looked like he was doing exactly what I was, examining the competition and assessing threats. He locked eyes with me and he grinned a huge predatory smile as he made his way over to me. As he got closer I realized that he was a good bit taller than me, probably about 6'4" compared to my 5'10".

He looked down at me with that Joker grin and said one sentence that made my blood run cold, "I know what you are."

For a brief moment, I was absolutely terrified. How could this stranger know what I was? My illusion was perfect! "What?"

He chuckled, "You are a Black Paladin. You are a Disciple of St. Gideon, the hero of St. Thomasberg."

I went from frightened to confused in .6 seconds. I knew the legend of the Saint Gideon. In the very early days of the United Aetheryan States there was a war between the fledgling nation and its pagan enemies, who eventually would become the Halissian Confederacy. At one point during the war, the pagans had breached the national capitol's gates and were in the process of sacking the city. One of their main objectives was the destruction of Great Temple, the spiritual cornerstone of the early UAS. The Aetheryan army had fled to the far side of the city, leaving only the Temple Guard to protect the holy temple. The Guard were fighting a losing battle against the pagan horde. Then St. Gideon entered the battle. Gideon was a foreigner, a convert to the faith from the dark lands across the southern sea. As the pagan hordes breached the outer courts of the temple where Gideon had gone to pray with his samurott before the walls had been breached in a surprise attack, he took up a spear and charged the enemy even as the Temple Guard were falling back to the inner courts. He stood alone with his pokémon in the outer courts and fought with the strength and ferocity of a six hydreigons. They say the bodies piled up so high that the horde had to climb over them as if they were wall. The pagan horde managed to force Gideon back to the entrance of the inner courts after slaying his samurott. With his spear blunted by use and heavy from fatigue and bleeding from a dozen wounds he continued to fight. Finally, he fell with a spear between his ribs.

However, the story doesn't end there. According to legend, there was an earthquake and a great light burst forth from the Holy of Holies. This light moved like water through the temple and into Gideon, and he rose from the ground, a bright silver corona around his head and fire in his eyes. Angels appeared around him, white serpents with golden wings like skarmory and bladed tails of bronze, and he charged the terrified horde again with the angels beside him and threw them out of the temple with the blade of his samurott. At the same time, the Aetheryan army rallied upon seeing the light from the temple, and the angels that accompanied it. A great defeat was turned to an even greater victory as the Aetheryan army chased down the pagans and slaughtered them in the fields outside the city. Gideon did not live long after the battle, dying of his wounds as the sun rose. His body was burned as was fitting for a warrior, and his shell blade was kept as a symbol of the Aetheryan military to this day in their insignia. As fantastical as the account may seem, even the ancient Halissian accounts say that the Aetheryan's won that battle through the use of their 'arcane magicks' and a 'foreign conjurer who summoned daemons to battle on his behalf'. After that time, there wasa small part of the Temple Guard made up of foreign converts until the secularization of the government and military in the year 1904 when the temple was demolished to make room for an extension of the capitol building and the Temple Guard was disbanded in spite of fierce opposition from the Orthodox Aetheryan sector. This small part was called the Black Paladins.

However, as far as this person's statement was concerned, it meant that he knew I was not Aetheryan by blood, but not that I was a Chimeran. I tilted my head to the side, "How did you know my mother was not Aetheryan?"

The young man shrugged, "It just came to me, that you are not what your outer appearance implies. I've always been a good judge of people. I guessed that you were religious, but I know that the blood of a warrior runs in your veins. That is in your eyes."

With that I knew that my illusion was not seen through, although he may have sensed it somehow. I smiled and gestured to his weapons, "That's a very interesting loadout you have there."

To my surprise, his grin grew even wider, "It is isn't it? I'm a student of a very rare school of combat based on dance."

I raised a brow, "You're a dancer?"

"Yes!" He laughed, stepping back to give me a shallow bow, "Horatio Iglesias, student to Herod Hunt and Tao the Meinshao." He gave me a crooked grin and added, "I sing too."

I chuckle and return the bow, "And I am Abel Ben-Gurion, student to my Uncle Abi Ben-Gurion. I consider myself something of an actor, and I'm looking to master sleight of hand as well."

"A fellow warrior artist!" He laughs and claps me on the shoulder with his left arm, "Come on, let's get our gear calibrated, and then we will talk more about our training!"

We headed down to where the simweapons were being checked and calibrated. They had a mannequin of sorts set up in a shock suit and having combatants strike the suit with their weapons. When it came time for Horatio, he stepped forward and unfurled his whip and lashed out at the mannequin. The point hit it squarely in the chest and it rocked backwards, Then Horatio twisted and the whip pulled back and lashed out again, this time spinning the mannequin around when the 'blades' of the whip caught the suit as they were dragged across it. As it was still spinning, Horatio darted forwards and struck with his shield in a flowing upward cut that would have disemboweled it if it had been a real person. This display caused a bit of a stir with the other competitors, but I just laughed, "Show off!"

Horatio grinned at me as the officials gave him the all clear and I stepped up. I didn't do anything fancy, just stab and slice with the spear, then stab and slice with the kukri. Horatio raised a brow as I walked back towards him after sheathing my kukri, "What? No display?"

"The less an enemy sees what you are capable of, the less they are able to prepare." I told him with a smile. Uncle Abi had a number of little 'wisdom packets', not all of them made sense to me at the time, like 'if you slap a nidoqueen on the ass, don't stay to watch it jiggle.' Even now I'm not entirely sure what that means, though I think it makes a little more sense to me now.

We made our way through the crowd of shock suit clad competitors back to where I saw Uncle Abi waiting. He smiled and shook his head. "You're Herod's Red Zweilous aren't you?"

That surprised both Horatio and I. It was the first time I had heard the term, but it wasn't hard to figure out what it meant. Horatio was the trainee of a Red Hydreigon. Horatio was the first to find his voice, "How did you know?"

"That whip is all I need to see to know you are a student of Tao. And where there is Tao, Herod is never far behind." Uncle Abi said with a snicker.

"Abishai!" A tall, barrel-chested man with a shaved head shouted as he approached, "How are you doing you sneaky little fucker?"

"Doing as well as can be expected for a single old man, Herod." Uncle Abi laughed, clasping forearms with the bigger man, "How about yourself, ya loud mouthed fudge packer?"

"Damn well! The studio is doing great and we are going to be releasing a student album soon." Herod laughed. "What have you been doing lately?"

Horatio and I stood dumbfounded as our trainers chatted and caught up on old times. While they were chatting, a pink furred meinshao came up and sighed, then chuckled, [Figures he would show up.]

Horatio jumped, "Master Tao, who is this?"

[An old friend and rival.] Tao replied with a chuckle, then turned to me and looked me over, [You look like you are very light on your feet, and remind me a bit of a very old friend.]

"Master Tao says that you look light on your feet and remind him of an old friend." Horatio told me.

I stared at him, "You understood him?"

Horatio takes a small ear plug out of his right ear, "Translator. Master Hunt gave it to me."

"Must have cost a fortune."

"Yep. Master Hunt said he would skin me alive if I lost it or broke it." Horatio replied with a chuckle as he slipped it back in his ear.

[I can promise you that this one is going to be a serious challenge for you, Horatio. Do not underestimate him.] Tao told Horatio quietly.

Suddenly I heard my name called out over the loudspeakers along with several others for the first matches. I grinned and slapped Horatio on the shoulder, "See you at the top!"

My first match was against a teen with a two handed sword. We took or places in opposite corners of the arena and waited for the official to give the signal. As soon as I saw the light go from red to green I shot forwards and lunged with spear outstretched. The kid was hardly able to lift his sword in time to deflect the stab, and I merely spun the spear around, slashing him across the chest so hard that he fell backwards onto his ass. I heard a loud bell marking a fatality and grinned.

My opponent looked up at me with wide eyes, "Holy fuck you're fast."

I smiled and helped him to his feet, "I have good genes and even better training. Better luck in your next match."

As I left the arena, I saw Uncle Abi nodding. Next to him was Herod Hunt and Tao who were both clapping. I approached them immediately as Tao was whispering something to Mr. Hunt. I didn't catch any of it, but I was curious. "What he say?"

"He says you are obviously Abishai's zweilous." Mr. Hunt replied with a grin. "And I agree. How exactly did he go about training you with a spear?"

"I just had him attack me and we sparred in the evenings." Uncle Abi replied with a laugh, "The first time I saw him use a weapon, it was a broken broom handle and he took down three teens that outmuscled him by about six hundred pounds all together, and that was before I started teaching him to fight. He is a bloody natural."

Horatio had come up on hearing this and laughed, "You mean your match is already over? Damn."

[You didn't miss much. It lasted less than fifteen seconds.] Tao said with a smile.

Horatio grins, "Well, my match is in about thirty minutes, so feel free to come by and watch."

And so I did. He was facing of against an opponent with a short spear and shield, a pretty skinny guy actually. I could tell this wasn't going to be much of a fight. When the light turned green, he unfurled his whip and bounded across the arena, with the whip spiraling around him like a grey ribbon. As he got within range it he spun and the end of the whip lashed out as though it were alive and reached over his opponent's shield. With a flick of his wrist, the tip dipped down and struck his opponent in the neck. The bell rang as his opponent fell over from the shock delivered by his shock suit, and quite probably in surprise. I suspected then that such would be the fate of anyone who tried to use a shield against Horatio. The only way to avoid a quick loss against his whip would be movement, and although I was probably faster than he was, I doubted that his whip was much slower than my quickest.

I clapped for him as he left the arena, "Bravo, Horatio, there is clearly no hiding from your whip. So I'll just have to face it head on when the time comes."

"And your spear." Horatio replied with a mock salute.

I made a face and laughed before we left to track down our mentors, who had gone back to reminiscing and laughing over inside jokes and left.

The rest of the competition was a blur of battles, mostly unsatisfying and without a challenge. Normal humans are far too slow to be a challenge by speed, and most were of mediocre skill, so it was no surprise to either of us when the final match came down to the two Red Zweilous.

I took my place across from Horatio, and I could feel my pulse rising. Horatio grinned at me and the light turned green. In a moment, the entire world shrank down to us as we both darted into the center of the arena. His whip darted forwards, but ducked under it and disrupted it with a twirl of my spear, spinning into an upward slash but it was deflected by Horatio's arm blade as he spun around again, forcing me back so that I could evade his whip. He pressed forwards, his whip dancing through the air like the northern lights, and I danced in turn.

Ours was a lethal dance, as I weaved and vaulted his relentless lash. My spear spun wildly, flashing its circle of protection around me, and striking out whenever I could. Horatio laughed, his eyes flashing with a devilish light, one I knew likely danced in my eyes as well. You can never feel as alive as when you ride the razor's edge of battle. I leapt back away from him, launching myself back towards the edge of the arena. I leapt into a back flip out of reach of Horatio's whip as he spun like a crazed djinn, and planted my feet firmly against the Plexiglas of the arena edge. I put all of my strength into kicking off, launching myself high over Horatio's head. I could feel the roar of the crowd, a rising crescendo all around us, as I landed in a crouch and drew my knife. I whirled and threw myself at Horatio again, intentionally entangling his whip around my spear. Horatio's eyes widened as I whipped my spear out to the side and pulled his whip taut. My kukri crashed against his blade as he struggled to regain control of his whip. We spun and weaved, to dancers bound together in a violent tango as I fought to keep the whip taut and out of the fight while also seeking Horatio's flesh with my blade.. Our blades struck out, seeking blood but not finding even flesh.

I could feel something rising within me, something I could only describe as energy, and for a moment, I was afraid. Afraid that I would accidentally unleash a pokémon move, which would ruin everything. I could not allow myself to lose everything by revealing my true nature. With a roar, I struck out, using my head of all things, and butted Horatio up under the jaw. He faltered, stunned for a fraction of a second, whether by the blow, or the audacity of head-butting an opponent in an armed melee I don't know, but I didn't waste the moment. I slammed the butt of my spear up under his shoulder, knocking him around to reveal his open flanks to me, my kukri finished him with a slash that would have slid between his ribs to split his liver.

I could barely hear the bell over the massive roar of the crowd and the rush of blood in my ears. I stumbled back away from where Horatio had fallen under the force of my blows and the shock delivered by his suit. I laughed weakly, my entire body buzzing like an entire swarm of beedrill were bound up inside of me. I let my spear and knife fall to the ground. I could barely believe it, I had won. My knees suddenly buckled as the adrenalin stopped flowing and I fell on my ass with a laugh. It took everything I had to maintain my illusion as a couple officials came into the arena and helped Horatio and I out of the Plexiglas cage.

Uncle Abi met me just outside the arena and discretely pressed something into the palm of my hand as he took me from the officials and helped me away towards out booth. I glanced down at the object in my hand, it was a small insignia bearing three red heads. I was a Red Hydreigon.


After the awards, we bid farewell to Tao, Mr. Hunt, and Horatio, promising to purchase their new album when it came on sale. If I remember it correctly, it was a hell of an album, but I digress. We returned to our home in Lincoln and life returned to something resembling normalcy. I got fitted for some power armor and was able to order a plasma pistol for myself, a real one. But other than that, we merely continued our routines and I worked on finishing high school.

"Have you thought about what you are going to do with yourself after high school?" Uncle Abi asked me one day after our morning workout.

I shrugged and took a swig of water as I leaned against a wall. "I don't know. I really only like a couple things, Arceus, fighting, and literature." I tilted my head to the side thoughtfully, "Though I would like to be able to do something kind of like what you did for me. Be an inspiration I mean."

"Then be a teacher." Uncle Abi said taking a seat at the kitchen table with his bottle of water. "Hell, the most inspiring people I ever met were teachers. As a kid I was a weakling and school was the only thing I was good at. It was my teachers who inspired me to be anything."

"Really?" I asked incredulously.

Uncle Abi nodded, "Hell yeah, and the school system is full of kids who were just like you back before I took you in. Kids that for one reason or another are rejected and don't dare risk anything for fear of being rejected yet again or even just the fear of failure. If you want to inspire someone, be a teacher. Hell if you love books, teach them. Bring them to life for your students, share that love with them."

I nodded, "You know, I think I might try that."

Uncle Abi smiled and took a sip of water from his bottle. Suddenly his eyes went wide and he doubled over in a fierce coughing fit, spraying water across the floor. Water that was tinged with pink.

I let out a profanity and threw aside my water bottle as Uncle Abi fell over out of his chair, still coughing up blood onto the floor. I lunged forwards and picked him up as he suddenly passed out. I rushed him to the hospital as fast as I could, but by the time we arrived there he had slipped into a coma. The doctors told me that he was suffering from a severe autoimmune disorder. They said it was triggered by an excess of trace metals in his body. They were doing their best to stabilize him and to reduce the immune reaction.

I was sitting in the lobby when I felt a hand on my shoulder, and I looked up to see Mr. Hunt standing over me. He had flown to Lincoln in a private levcraft as soon as he heard that Uncle Abi had been admitted into the hospital. "The Red Hydreigon project is what's killing him. He won't be with us much longer."

I looked up at Mr. Hunt with a confused expression, "What do you mean?"

"His body is lined with nanomachines from the original project." He replied, "Eventually all the original Red Hydreigons die, their immune system destroys their body as it tries to remove the nanites that they ignored for so long."

"So you are gonna die like that too?"

"Well, no." He shakes his head, "My immune system doesn't work that well, I'll die of complications related to my HIV."

"Oh." I said quietly. "I guess he'll be seeing Opal again soon then."

"Yeah," Mr Hunt sighed as he sat down next to me, "He told you about her?"

"Yeah, she was his wife."

"And his pokémon partner."

I blinked in surprise and stared at Mr. Hunt, "But I saw pictures of her, she was a human."

"She was a zoroark." Mr Hunt said with a slight chuckle, "Abishai obviously didn't tell you everything. They were partners before the war, and lovers ever since." He tilts his head to the side, "I take that back, they actually got married so I guess they were more than just lovers."

He may have said more, but I don't recall hearing any of it, my head was spinning from this new revelation. Opal was a zoroark. I was a zoroark Chimeran. Uncle Abishai was human. They had wanted a child that was of both of them. Opal may have died, but I had become that child for Uncle Abi. That was his other reason for taking me in, I was the child they had wanted. I could have been angry, over being lied to by omission, but I wasn't. I was honored. Honored to have been considered a worthy heir to her legacy, to their legacy.

"You remind Tao of her you know."

"What?" I looked back up at Mr. Hunt as his words caught my ear again.

"You remind Tao of Opal." Mr. Hunt replied. "That's what he told me at the Melee competition. You move a lot like she did, and even carry yourself similarly."

I smiled, "I have more in common with her than you know."

I let the illusion over the eye closest to Mr. Hunt vanish momentarily. His eyebrows shot up in surprise, "Well, that explains that."

We looked up as a nurse approached us, "Mr. Hunt, Abel, I have some bad news."

We both nodded. Uncle Abishai was dead.


I looked around myself at the nearly sixty pokémon and humans gathered in assorted battle gear to honor the man who lay atop the pyre that had been set up deep in the wilderness. Warriors all, they were Red Hydreigons, and they were there to honor one.

"I am a newcomer among you." I told them, "I am honored to have known the man who lies before us, Abishai Mark Long. I called him 'Uncle', but we both knew that what I meant was 'Father'. He plucked me out of a back alley, saved me from the world, and gave me the strength not to yield. May Giratina accept his soul into Elysium, to be reunited with his love and likewise with his friends that went before him."

With that I threw the lit brand onto the pyre, igniting the fuel soaked timber. The flames rapidly grew to consume his body. I watched with more than a little moistness in my eyes. I had lost another father, but I wasn't alone this time. I was surrounded by brothers and sisters of battle. I was Abel. I was Kaine. I was a Red Hydreigon.
Chapter End Notes:fffff this story is sooo big i had no idea
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