Sorry for the long absence; I've had a lot of things to do, a massive amount of writer's block recently (The latest Karistaa Usko chapter's presently in Limbo), and a complete overhaul of my mythos, so I decided to do one more in the general Pokemon universe. As the July contest inspired me a bit to write this chapter, it's a contest entry (or, at the very least, Nowhere and Everywhere is since I'm not certain how long this inspiration will hold).As usual: Pikachu, Pokémon, Mother et al. are the property of Nintendo. The characters are mine, as is the plot.
Blindfolds to Reality
Blindfolds to Reality
*)Eastern Foothills - September 15, 2009, 13:11 KDT(*
Eoin had been granted leave by Nicolau to go a bit onto the route towards Mt. Silver for privacy purposes, and so today was out here relaxing. He leaned back against a tree, the nearby waterfall roaring in the distance. He kicked his feet up, happy to have them out of his suit for once. He took stock of everything that had happened in the three months since he and Lori came to the storm, mulling it over in his head, and wondering when the hell it would make sense to anyone.
As he laid there daydreaming, the sound of a machete cutting shrubbery in the distance rang in his ears. At first, he assumed it was an avian Pokemon taking off or landing. But when the sound repeated itself ad nauseam, he grew wary. He put on his suit, slowly so as not to try and announce his presence, and snuck out from his resting spot, towards the noise.
He came to a cliff on the top of the waterfall and, in the distance saw six Kanto soldiers bushwhacking their way through the slopes. Oddly, he noted that, while wearing appropriate camouflage, they seemed more prepared for a recovery mission than a combat mission. He hid himself in the bushes and watched closely. One of them, whom he assumed was a commander, barked orders to the others, reminding them not to damage anything from the target. That's incredibly odd, thought Eoin. Why would they come out here unarmed, especially since the army would likely have encountered the storm at some point?
As they moved, Eoin followed, deeper into the foothills, relying on trees and shrubs to hide himself and the suit he was wearing to (hopefully) not make them send more than a cursory glance in his direction. After half an hour, the squadron stopped, as did Eoin, who looked about his surroundings. He was a fair distance off from the beaten path, which given the direction he was going was likely the path the Chu undertaking the Ceremony of Ascension used. Shrubbery, Sitrus trees, and Bluk bushes surrounded him, although the trees were partially defoliated and oddly stunted for some reason. Looking back across the river at the soldiers, he noticed them setting up a tent with radioactivity symbols on it, and immediately realized what it was.
A decontamination tent? That'd explain the trees' odd looks... The berries here probably aren't safe to eat, he thought to himself. Question is, what the hell could be throwing off such radiation? And are the Chu exposing themselves to it annually?
He hunkered down to eavesdrop on the commander. He could barely make out what they were saying.
“It's too quiet around here,” spoke a soldier, assembling an M16. “What'd intel say?”
“Intel said we may ed up dealing with a bunch of Pikachu who worship it as a god or a few Magnezone that have become attracted to it from Mt. Silver,” said the commander. “They don't know if its power plant's containment has ruptured, or even what sort of material was used for it, so we're not taking any precautions.”
Power plant? thought Eoin. What're they chasing, an experimental spy plane?
“Geiger counters are ready, sir!” said another soldier. “...So far, no readings.”
“That may change as we get closer to the target, men. Now remember, as far as everyone's concerned, this operation didn't happen, and our objective doesn't exist. You breathe a word of this to anyone, and you'll be court-martialed faster than you can say 'radiation'! ...Olesson, is that decon tent up yet?”
“Affirmative, sir,” reported Olesson, hammering the tent down. “Ready to move out!”
As the group moved closer to their objective, so did Eoin.
A further ten-minute trek through the woods only increased Eoin's sense of dread, as the amount of stunted and dying plantlife increased dramatically. However, he couldn't hear any telltale clicking from the soldiers' Geiger counters, even as the two got closer to the same destination.
“No radiation, sir... I think this thing was at its half-life or later when it hit.”
Eoin stuck to the shrubs, stopping when a clearing became obvious before him. His eyes widened as he saw the target.
Bones and filled blackout suits were scattered about the area, almost all of them not from or that couldn't fit a creature that could be of this earth. In the middle of an impact crater in the ground and nestled near a slope of Mt. Silver was an utterly shattered flying saucer, spilling from which were several Thunderstone-like objects. The stones spilled from a breach in a section near what he assumed was the back end.
The soldiers approached gently. The geiger counters finally ticked slowly, promting the soldiers to examine them and the target in equal measure, disbelief plain on their faces. It was clear to Eoin that they hadn't been told exactly what the power plant was in or to. “Sir, readings in this area are about point-oh-six sieverts,” said one soldier. “Ionizing events about two a second. This thing's practically inert.”
“'Practically' my ass. Exercise caution. We need the thing as inta--”
The commander was interrupted by a crowd of Magnezone which swooped down from Mt. Silver without warning. One soldier pulled out his weapon and fired wildly with one motion; a Zap Cannon took him down, electrocuting him. The commander ordered a retreat, only to be cut off when a Sonicboom cut the means of communicating with his team off. Eoin quickly retreated from the bloodshed, snagging something on the sole of his foot along the way, as the screams of the doomed soldiers rang out in the woods.
Eoin slowed to a halt by where he was before. His feet hurt, and he wasn't sure he was ever going to wipe this memory from his mind. Wincing, he pulled his foot up to remove thorns from it. The past few months had toughened up his feet, but he still should've watched to make sure he wasn't running over thorns.
He spent ten minutes picking Bluk thorns out of his left foot. When he looked at his right foot, he saw, pinned by a thorn and soaked with his own blood, an odd scrap of fabric, barely a square centimetre and looking suspiciously like polyester. His finger gently touched it, and immediately it reminded him of silk in terms of feel.
...Dear Christ. The last thing I wanted was a reminder of that.
He pulled the thorns out from his foot, then spat on the fabric and tried to clean it off. The blood emulsified slightly and some of the object's normal grey color started to come through. With as little of a fragment as he had, he couldn't even begin to speculate as to what sort of garment or piece of furnishing it came from.
As he looked at the item, he heard a panicked yelp. He turned around to see one of the soldiers - the one the commander identified as “Olesson” - looking right at him. He looked shellshocked, his green eyes seeming to stare through Eoin rather than at him. On top of his head was a black crew cut, which matched his brown complexion. His body was visibly shaking, though Eoin wasn't sure if it was because of the recent lopsided battle, seeing a giant Raichu before him, or just an adrenalin rush. His right shoulder, both on his shirt and on his body, had a nice chunk ripped out of it, likely also from a Magnezone's attacks.
Eoin stood up and removed his hood, revealing himself as human. “Calm. I am a friend.”
Olesson looked even more perturbed. “W-what're you doing here, civilian?! T-this's...”
“I know. The Chu nearby treat it the same way. Name's Eoin Smith.” He held out a hand, still wrapped in his suit.
Olesson looked at it as if it were dangerous, then cautiously shook it. “A-Alvin Olesson, Private First Class, Kanto Self-Defence Forces.”
“Pleasure. Mr. Olesson, I'm not going to stop you from leaving here, nor am I going to leave here. I'm currently assigned to the Viridian Storm as a university assignment. However... I did see what happened to your commander and ally. I'm sorry.”
Olesson sighed and looked at Eoin. “I was lucky to get out of there. I retreated once the commander went down. I got hit by a sonicboom, but it was a glancing blow.”
“I'm not going to tell anyone about what I saw,” promised Eoin, sensing that's what Olesson wanted. “I'd sooner not have to relive seeing your commander's death. Nonetheless, the Viridian Storm isn't exactly fond of humans, so I would suggest finding someplace to ford the river before returning to civilization. Last thing either of us wants is to be seen talking to another human.”
Olesson nodded as Eoin put the hood of his suit back on. “We never had this discussion, right?”
“What discussion?” said Eoin earnestly. His own mind raced with things too horrible to describe. “While we're not having this discussion, do you think you could tell me what your superiors don't want that weather balloon for?”
“Classified, need to know,” said Olesson. “I didn't even know it was a UFO. We were told a cargo plane crashed here a while ago while carrying an experimental nuclear-powered plane nacelle.”
“That would explain why you were so hush-hush about it even in the woods.”
“You were eavesdropping on us?” asked Olesson.
“From the other bank. Your machetes kinda gave you away.” Eoin looked about. Still no sign of Chu or human life. “Now, listen... I expect the Chu to come by at any moment, and like I said, they don't like humans, especially not military-types like you. They'll also be suspicious if they find your decontamination tent still standing.”
“Affirmative,” said Olesson, understanding. He made to leave.
“Ah, ah, not so fast. I would like you to contact my partner, Lori Tanner, on shortwave radio at frequency 143.7, if you catch wind of the military trying to reclaim this UFO again. The frequency has all incoming and outgoing transmissions scrambled to prevent tracing. Again, I'll swear her to the utmost secrecy.”
“Why should I do that?” asked Olesson, getting defensive.
“Because Lori and I both have an interest in leaving the UFO unmolested. The Chu's tribal society uses it as the source of their thunderstones for a ritual they perform annually, and needless to say we'd rather there not be a breach of the tribe's secrecy or sovereignty.”
Olesson quickly understood. “Aha. You don't want there to be a war.”
“Precisely. The Chu would be wiped out, though they'd also likely deal a lot of damage to Kanto's infrastructure in the process. We're talking almost a thousand Chu here. So, it's in both sides' best interests to not move or disassemble the UFO.”
“Alright. I'll try and see what I can do to stall them, but I can't promise anything,” said Olesson, making to leave.
“I don't expect you to. Goodbye, Olesson, and good luck,” said Eoin, turning to leave himself. He slipped the small bit of fabric into a pocket on the inside of his suit.
Lori stepped out from the shrubs near the storm, her short-wave radio safely tucked away in her knapsack. As she did so, she saw Eoin stumbling towards her, looking exhausted. “Eoin, what happened to you?” she asked.
“A lot,” he grunted, not entirely painlessly. “Listen, Lori... There may be, at one point, someone who calls the phone who identifies himself as a soldier named Olesson. If he does call, I want you to immediately alert Nicolau and prepare to leave.”
“...Eoin? Nobody has my frequency,” said Lori. “The outgoing and incoming is scrambled; only you and I know it.”
“Trust me on this one,” said Eoin. “If he calls you, warn Nicolau immediately, and make to leave Viridian Forest.”
With this, Eoin stumbled off to rest. Lori looked at her knapsack curiously, then thought to herself, What the hell is going on that's so bad that he'd give my frequency to a soldier?