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The Quest for the Legends (ILCOE)

Not Alone

Waraider is not alone. He has never been alone.

Ever since he was created, he has heard voices. They’re a constant, comforting presence. He can’t see them, but he can hear them.

One warns him of danger, of things that might happen and things that are happening, that hurt, could hurt, could go wrong. When she talks, a chill runs through him, and he shivers; she must be an Ice-type. He can imagine her, icicles in her mane and tail, powdery snow swirling around her body. She’s a she; he’s not sure how he knows, but that’s how he imagines her. Her name, he realized one day – did she tell him? He’s not sure, but he knows – is Freezaroy.

Another asks questions, wants to know everything. Why is the grass green, where does the wind come from, where do the mortal Pokémon go when they die? Freezaroy doesn’t like that last question, but he asks it anyway, his attention flitting this way and that to everything that interests him, quick as lightning, and pays her no mind. Indeed, he’s an Electric-type. Bright, leaping sparks form a mane down the back of his neck. His name is Electhrone. Waraider knows; he doesn’t know how, but he knows.

Sometimes Waraider meets other Pokémon and talks to them, but many are wary of him. One of the voices wants to tell them everything, just to share it with someone and hoping they share in return, and her name is Mysticrown. But even when they listen to him they don’t stop being wary; in fact, they often start to act strange, especially when he talks about the voices, and then he realizes they’re avoiding him, don’t want to talk to him. Another voice appears, a voice that burns, a Fire-type, Emphire; she thinks he should attack them, show them the power that they’re so afraid of. But Natruler, who is soft and calm and comforting like the breeze in the trees and the swaying grass, says he shouldn’t hurt others. So he leaves them alone and retreats to some of the places that he likes where he feels a little better, and yet another one of the voices is dark and a little scary and his name is Darkhan and he tells Waraider to never, ever try to befriend those Pokémon again, because they hurt him, and they’ll surely do it again because they’re bad, bad, bad.

So he spends more and more time in his places, where the Pokémon all know of him and usually keep away. And then there’s another voice, Seasar, who says no one will ever want to talk to him or care about him, and when he talks, Waraider feels like he’s drowning.

But he is not alone. He has the voices. They’re the only friends he’ll ever need, and they’ll never leave him. He talks to them instead, and he understands them and they understand him. Mysticrown still wants to talk to other Pokémon, so he still does, sometimes. But he doesn’t need them. The voices are enough.

-------

One day he talks to a Pachirisu. “You’re a legendary Pokémon?” the little squirrel asks him, wide-eyed with awe, and Mysticrown says he should say yes, so he does.

“What’s that like?” asks the Pachirisu.

Waraider pauses to think, unsure how to answer. “Mew told me I should try to watch over mortal Pokémon and help them. But I’m not sure I know how.”

“Mew?” the Pachirisu asks, gaping. “You’ve met Mew?”

“Mew created me,” Waraider responds.

“Oooh. That’s so cool! How old are you?”

Waraider glances away and then back. “I was made only a few months ago. I still have a lot to learn.”

“Really? But you’re a legendary! Like what?”

He takes a breath. “My power,” he says. “I have a lot of power, but I can’t control it well yet. I don’t know what I should use it for. Mew said I could choose it for myself.”

“Wow! That’s amazing!” The Pachirisu lets out little sparks of excitement. “Can you show me what you can do?” she says eagerly.

Waraider hesitates, but the Pachirisu is looking at him, starry-eyed, and Mysticrown wants to show her. He gathers his powers and stomps one foot, and the earth shakes underneath them. He can just see the Pachirisu’s eyes widen further before she falls to the ground, shivering, and then lies still. Startled, Waraider prods her with a hoof, but she doesn’t respond.

As he stares at the little Pokémon’s unmoving body, Freezaroy cries out in despair. “You killed her!” she screams. “She’s dead!”

“Oh, no, you hurt her,” murmurs Natruler, not accusing, she’s never like that, just sad. “Can’t you help her, somehow?”

“You can’t help her when she’s dead!” Freezaroy howls.

“You idiot. Why can’t you do anything right?” Emphire snarls.

Waraider shakes his head, frozen. He can’t think. Not this Pachirisu too. Not this. Seasar is making his eyes water; he feels his legs shaking as Freezaroy keeps muttering, “She’s dead she’s dead she’s dead…”

Before he can decide what to do – he never knows what to do – he’s running. It’s Freezaroy who told him to run, Seasar who tells him to keep going and never stop. He runs all the way across the plains and into a thick forest, where the undergrowth ensnares his hooves; when he falls, he scrambles back to his feet and keeps running, despite the way his body aches and his muscles strain and his legs tremble. He runs until he collapses by a lake, gasping for air, eyes squeezed shut as Seasar’s water tries to trickle between his eyelids.

When he awakes, beams of bright, warm sunlight fall between the leaves of the trees overhead. He’s weak and exhausted and drained. When he raises his head, Seasar is standing by the side of the lake, leaning down to drink. Water flows up his mane, along his back and cascades down his tail.

Waraider blinks, his mind still hazy. He’s never seen any of them before, but there he is, just as Waraider has always imagined him. And then, as his mind starts to clear, his heart soars. He can see him. He’s really there. Sometimes when he’s talked to other Pokémon, he’s wondered if – but no! Seasar is standing before him, plain as day. He pushes himself to his feet; Seasar turns his head, but doesn’t say anything, and why would he, because Seasar’s the one who keeps talking about how Waraider has no other Pokémon to be with, but he does now. He reaches forward to touch Seasar’s snout – he’s solid, he’s there – and then Seasar says, quietly, “You killed that Pachirisu.”

Waraider flinches back as the memory resurfaces. Suddenly Freezaroy is there too; she must have been behind him. “She’s dead,” she murmurs, eyes shining. “You can never be around other Pokémon again like this. You can’t control your powers. You could kill someone else.”

“Why are mortal Pokémon so fragile?” snarls Emphire from the other side of him, her mane and tail blazing, red eyes glinting. He backs away as she rounds on him. “How were we supposed to know it’d kill her?”

“That poor Pachirisu,” Natruler says, and he turns yet again to see her standing in the shade of a tree. “Perhaps… perhaps we can help her?”

Waraider thinks no, of course not, he can never help anyone, it’s impossible – and then he realizes it’s not, because Natruler is there, she’s a Grass-type, lots of Grass Pokémon have healing abilities. She can fix it; of course she can! His heart pounding in excitement, he turns, trying to remember what direction he came from, and then bounds back out of the forest, the others following closely behind him. This is how it should be. This is how it was always meant to be. They’re with him, and they know what to do, and he will never be alone again.

-------

When they reach the place where the Pachirisu was, though – he remembers it clearly, the plains, between that hill and the mossy rock, where the purple flowers grow – she’s not there anymore. He looks around in confusion. The sun is shining brightly, not a cloud in the sky. A faint breeze wafts through the grass. The wind and the weather couldn’t have blown her away.

“Where is she?” Electhrone asks, looking around.

“A predator picked her up and ate her,” Freezaroy mutters. Waraider remembers the Pokémon that live here, though – he hasn’t seen any predators before.

“They probably come here sometimes anyway, with all that prey around,” Electhrone suggests.

Maybe. How long was he collapsed in the forest? It couldn’t have been very long; it’s still daytime. Unless he was there for the entire night? He doesn’t know.

“Maybe she wasn’t dead,” Mysticrown says. “Maybe she stood up again, just like you stood up again in the forest.”

“Maybe she didn’t,” Freezaroy says.

“She left,” Seasar says dully. “She’ll never want to see you again. You hurt her and then you left her for dead. Why would she?”

“These Pokémon always assume the worst of you,” Emphire says, nostrils flaring.

“She didn’t deserve you anyway,” Darkhan hisses, unfurling his leathery wings. “Forget about her!”

Waraider shakes his head. He has always tried not to listen too closely to Emphire and Darkhan, but it’s harder when they’re there in front of him, his friends.

“Maybe she tried to find you when she woke, but she couldn’t,” Mysticrown says.

“She must have been very confused when you were gone,” Natruler agrees.

Yes, that’s probably it. She liked him, didn’t she? She’d thought he was amazing.

“And then you attacked her and left her,” Seasar points out.

“Why would you do something stupid like that?” Emphire growls. “You knew you couldn’t control your powers.”

“I’m sure she forgave you.”

“But if she’s wary now, that doesn’t make her bad.”

“She asked you to show her your power!”

“She got exactly what she wanted and she has nobody but herself to blame!”

Waraider squeezes his eyes shut as the others argue, back and forth, all at once. He doesn’t know who is right. Maybe…? But what if…?

Mysticrown wants to try to find the Pachirisu and continue their conversation. Natruler thinks so too, so that he can apologize for hurting her. Electhrone just wants to know where she went, but Seasar thinks there’s no point and she won’t want to see him again anyway. Darkhan thinks he should stop talking to mortal Pokémon, just stop, and Freezaroy agrees. Emphire… he’s not sure what Emphire actually wants. She’s mad at the Pachirisu for not being here anymore, mad at him for using his powers carelessly, and for running off like that for no reason when he could have seen she was fine if he’d just waited a bit longer, and for not being able to make up his mind.

They won’t agree on what to do or where to go. When they’ve all said everything they have to say, they look at him, and he backs away. He can’t betray any of them. They’re all his friends, the voices who are always with him – but now that he can see them, could they leave?

So they go to one of his favorite places. They all like his favorite places. Mysticrown wanted to find the Pachirisu, but he didn’t know where to find her anyway, and maybe he’ll find another Pokémon to talk to. Or, then again, he might not, so Darkhan doesn’t object.

When they’ve been there too long, they go to another place, and then another. They’re all happy with that, and that makes him happy. If they just do this, keep doing this, exactly like this, then they’ll be fine.

-------

As they graze in the serene woods, Chaletwo appears. Darkhan doesn’t like Chaletwo, but then again, Darkhan likes no one. Where Mew was kind and patient, though, Chaletwo was always restless and angry, and Waraider is wary as the other legendary surveys his herd through closed, leathery eyelids, scrutinizing, as if he’s evaluating them for some higher judgement.

“So it’s true,” Chaletwo says at last. “There are eight of you now. Care to enlighten me?”

Waraider blinks in confusion. “They’re my friends.”

“Yeah, that’s nice,” Chaletwo says; he doesn’t sound like it’s nice at all. “But where did they come from? Did you make them?”

“They’ve always been with me, but I can see them now,” Waraider explains.

“What’s that supposed to mean? Did you create them or not?”

Waraider shifts; Chaletwo is making him uncomfortable, but he’s not quite sure why. At last, he shakes his head. “I didn’t make them. They just are.”

Chaletwo sighs. “Sure. Look, I’ll be straight with you. You can’t just create seven new legendaries. Mew and I planned out very carefully who the legendaries should be after the – after the disaster, and where they should reside to keep the regions in balance. There weren’t supposed to be eight unicorns running around Ouen, all right? I gather they’ve stayed close to you so far; is that right?”

“They’re my friends,” Waraider repeats, glancing at the others; they nod, all at once, and he feels warmer. “We’ll always be together. They’d never leave me.”

“Great. Let’s keep it that way. And no more creating extra legendaries Mew and I don’t know about, all right?”

“I didn’t make them,” Waraider says.

“Well, did someone else make them?”

“No. Nobody made them.”

“Right, if you say so.” Chaletwo doesn’t sound like he means that. Waraider doesn’t like him, not at all.

“Who are you to come here asking questions?” Emphire spits.

“We were not made,” Darkhan says, beating his wings.

“Fine, whatever. I’ll leave you and your… friends to it. Good job working out your powers, at any rate. They look great; not exactly creative, but you pulled off the different types okay. And I’m sensing full legendary power from all of them, except the Dark one of course. Can barely tell it wasn’t us.”

And then he gives a casual wave of his bony hand and disappears.

Good job working out his powers? Confusion swirls in Waraider’s head. He wants that, more than anything, but if it were true, then…

Emphire tosses her head. “How dare he? Like we’re just things that you made.”

“Don’t listen to him,” Darkhan hisses. “He’s Chaletwo. He doesn’t care about you.”

“He thinks you’re a freak,” Seasar says.

“But…” Mysticrown begins to say.

“What if…?” Electhrone asks.

“No!” Freezaroy screams. “No!” And Mysticrown and Electhrone look away from him again.

“Chaletwo was mistaken,” Natruler says softly. “He only said what he thought was true.”

“But it’s not!” Freezaroy snaps.

“It’s not.”

“It’s not.”

Waraider takes a deep breath, closing his eyes. “It’s not.”

Mysticrown and Electhrone are silent.

“It’s not,” he repeats.

He hasn’t done anything of worth at all with his powers. Surely if he simply believed Chaletwo, that would be wishful thinking. He knows they were always there. He had nothing to do with it. Chaletwo is wrong.

-------

Waraider decides to learn to fight – well, Emphire and Darkhan want to, and while Natruler is a little reluctant, even she doesn’t disagree. He doesn’t know much, but the others teach him. It’s something they can do together, all as one, and it helps him understand and practice his powers – helps all of them. They take turns acting as opponents, always in the same order. Because it’s always the same, they never have to think about it or make a decision after the first time, and that’s good. It makes things easier.

One day, as they spar, he hears a familiar chittering voice from the ground.

“Waraider!” calls the tiny Pachirisu. “I haven’t seen you since you knocked me out with that Earthquake! I was watching you practice and wow! Who are the others?”

“We’re his friends,” Mysticrown says.

“His only friends,” Darkhan adds.

“I’m so glad you’re okay,” Natruler trills softly. “We thought you might have died.”

The Pachirisu looks between her and Waraider in confusion. “Thanks, but… how did you know about that?”

“I was there,” Natruler says.

“We were all there,” Mysticrown explains. “But we were invisible.”

The Pachirisu blinks. “Invisible friends?”

“And what of it?” Darkhan snaps. “It doesn’t make us less real.”

The Pachirisu shakes her head quickly. “No, I didn’t say anything like that! I… that’s so cool!”

Mysticrown beams at her. “That’s very kind.”

“How do you turn invisible? Can you show me?”

For a split second they all look at Waraider, and then they look back.

“We’re not showing you,” Darkhan growls. “Go. We’re here for him now. We’ll never leave.”

The Pachirisu’s face falls. “But… I didn’t…”

“You want us gone?” Freezaroy says, her eyes shining.

The Pachirisu’s ears droop. “No! Nothing like that! I just… I just thought turning invisible was cool.”

She glances miserably at Waraider. He averts his eyes. He knows Darkhan only wants to protect him, to make sure he doesn’t get hurt again, but…

“We didn’t mean to lash out,” Natruler says. “I’m sorry.”

“You are welcome to be our friend, too,” Mysticrown says.

“Can’t I… can’t I just talk to Waraider?” the Pachirisu mutters, fidgeting, glancing at him only to look away again.

“You want to separate us,” Darkhan hisses. “It will never happen! Never!”

The Pachirisu shrinks away. “Why aren’t you talking, Waraider?” she asks, in a small voice. “Why is it just them?”

The others look back at him, again. He looks at each of them in turn; aren’t they going to say anything? “I… I’m sorry,” he says. “It’s better this way.”

“Leave him alone,” Darkhan snarls. “Who are you to tell him when he should talk?”

Again she flinches, shaking her head. After giving Waraider another sad glance, she backs away, turning.

“No! Don’t leave!” Mysticrown calls after her, but she has already skittered away and disappeared into the tall grass.

Waraider expects Emphire to speak to denounce her, but she doesn’t. The silence is hollow and empty.

“She was just like the others,” Darkhan says after a second. “I’m glad she’s gone.”

“She was the last one,” Seasar murmurs. “And now she’s gone. No one else will ever –”

“And that’s fine!” Darkhan interrupts, flaring his nostrils. “We’re all he needs.”

“Well, you drove her away,” Emphire growls.

“No, no, we can’t fight!” Freezaroy whinnies.

Waraider closes his eyes and shakes his head. After a minute, the others quiet down. Only Seasar still talks: “She’s gone. She’s gone forever. She thinks we’re all freaks and she left. Nobody likes us or wants us.”

“I know,” Waraider says quietly, without opening his eyes. “That’s just the way it is.” Seasar is always so sad. He wishes he could help him.

“Let’s do another battle,” Darkhan says after a moment. “We need to know how to protect ourselves if they ever try anything.”

Waraider nods. They can already do that; they’re so strong all together, so much stronger than any mortal Pokémon. But practicing fighting is good. Seasar isn’t sad while they’re fighting. And nobody argues. In battle they’re a team, complementing each other, with so many different powers. They’re unstoppable.

Yes. No matter what other Pokémon think, he still has them. They’re his friends, and they always know what to do. With them by his side, everything will be fine.

Because he is not alone, and he will never be alone.


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