Contrary to Arthur's initial thoughts it turned out to be much easier to return home. Gary's Fearrow was more approachable than before thanks to Cornelius' Voodoo Magic, as Atiqo liked to call it.
With its help, Arthur was able to move Cecile's body onto the flying Pokemon, though he belatedly realized she was heavier than he calculated her to be. Were girls supposed to weigh this much?! Luckily her Eevee was still awake and could move onto Fearrows back on its own. He threw a final look into the area, making sure he hadn't forgotten anything important and then gave the Fearrow the order to go.
He wondered in the beginning if Fearrow could understand his speech, but whether that was correct or not, Fearrow spread out its wings high into the air and flapped several times with so much force that they entered the sky without further problems.
Arthur had first-class seats this time around. while Cecile laid in a secure area not far from him. Thanks to Fearrow's unique back-structure, turbulences wouldn't endanger them too much. The only thing that still worried him was that they were without seatbelts. Eevette sat in front of Cecile and made sure that nothing would come to harm to her human partner.
During this brief moment of peace, Arthur had finally enough time to think about all the things that had happened just now. He realized that so many crazy and mysterious things had happened since his accident in the Viridian Forest, he almost took them as a given slowly but surely. Maybe it was karma, and he was destined to live a life without peace.
But this was still a dangerous train of thought! If he let these things come and go as they occurred could he guarantee to remain unscathed all the time? That moment when Fearrow wildly attacked Cornelius without regard for life and death, even if those attacks hadn't been intended for him, that close distance still reminded Arthur of the danger and ferociousness that Pokemon could pose to humans.
The next time he met a wild Pokemon, would he be lucky enough to have someone like Cornelius to defuse the situation again? Or could he rely on a weird entity/spirit friend like Atiqo to escape with his wits? No, he knew the answer already. Nothing was a given. His memories from the Viridian Forest had returned in bits and pieces. However, the most impactful memories to him weren't the images but the emotions he felt during those times.
He felt despair, anguish, dejection, and also a will to defy his fate for a better future, for his family despite everything that fate had done to him ... was that a silly childish thought to fight against fate?
But was he truly defying fate at this moment or was he just following its orders like a mindless soldier?
-("Hey Buddy, what are you thinking about? Why make that glum expression? You know, if you keep up that face I will have to keep up the same face in my thoughts!"), Atiqo's cheerful voice broke into his thoughts suddenly.
-"That's a thing?", Arthur asked back in a confused manner?
-"No, of course not! Hahaha, I can feel you have something to share with your big brother Atiqo so spit it out, don't be shy. Your 'Hermano' is all ears for you!", Atiqo tried to ease the tensions he weakly felt in Arthur's heart through their spiritual connection.
It felt a bit unfamiliar for Arthur to hear the words 'big brother' spoken to him like that. Usually, he was the big brother that had to take care of his younger siblings. But he didn't think it was weird, Atiqo was in many ways the big brother Arthur would imagine to have in an alternative universe ... maybe a little less crazy though.
-("Hey, you called me crazy just now, didn't you?!"), Atiqo spoke up a bit and pretended to be upset.
-"N-no, of course not. I thought you were very wise and mature for your-, how old are you again?"
-("22. In the prime of my life! I have lots of experience under my belt, so you can ask me about all kinds of issues, even girls stuff ... if you know what I mean, hehe."), Arthur felt Atiqo having a smug expression on his ghostly face.
-"Sure ... I was just thinking about the stuff that happened in recent times to me - us. Just to get the hang of all events a bit more and not forget anything.", Arthur said though only telling half the truth.
How could Atiqo with his rich mature age not get what was going on? But this time he decided to take a step back and replied in his usual optimistic way:
-("Then you are right to ask your hermano here! Let's do a SWOT Analysis to grasp things in a more clearer and organized way."
-("SWOT, S-W-O-T Analysis. It's a tool used in the business environment, but we might as well adept it right here and now, hahaha my first business meeting in the Pokemon World! If my managers could be here to see me - they would be proud!")
-"What about your parents?"
-("Ah, yes. Them as well. Actually, they would freak out about my current circumstances so let's not talk about that, haha.")
-"What do we do for this analysis? How can it help me organize stuff?", it was a weird situation to discuss business topics while flying on the back of a Fearrow with an unconscious passenger on the side with a person than only existed in his head ... but maybe that was how every business worked?
-("First you list out your strengths and weaknesses to establish your current status quo. Then you try to find possible opportunities you can leverage to elevate your position or possible threats that might endanger your current position. After this is done we can weigh out possible countermeasures for all situations. Let's start with our strengths: - you have me!")
-"Weaknesses: sometimes very unreliable and doesn't have a body. Also takes up mental space."
-("Did you call me fat just now? That hurt bro. Opportunities: My unparalleled wisdom regarding the Pokemon World!")
-"I want to add to weaknesses that you are disillusioned sometimes. Threats: Your knowledge is not entirely compatible with reality. This could cost us more time than it brings gains Atiqo.", Arthur had already heard about his friend's weird explanations that Pokemon were just digital game creatures produced for masses of children to play with all around his world. A huge franchise that captured the hearts of - wait, that was enough exposition.
Arthur couldn't make heads or tails around this phenomenon. He would have liked to laugh it off and congratulate Atiqo for his rich imaginations. But was that the whole truth? Atiqo did indeed have strange but ingenious ideas that helped them out of their situations a bunch of times. And he didn't look like he was joking either ... but that didn't mean Atiqo was a god or something. Neither was he omniscient or else their situation wouldn't be as bad as it was. His knowledge about Pokemon was higher than average maybe but only in limited areas probably, they didn't have the time to explore the depths of his useful mind-database so far.
Atiqo wanted to retort and say he wasn't disillusioned, but maybe ... he was indeed - just a little - a tiny bit. Almost negligible.
And so they discussed back and forth and gathered a couple more points into their analysis along their trip back to the mansion. Arthur didn't have a pen and paper to write the points down but he remembered that he had something even better!
He pulled out his PokeDex and noticed something strange going on with it. It looked a bit different than usual. It was still foldable but the keypad Arthur was used to seeing had disappeared somehow. The whole item now looked like a portable game console with a touch screen instead and some buttons on the side. The light bulb was still there though.
-("This ... this looks like a Nintendo DS, no this isn't it. It's the upgraded PokeDex design from FireRed and LeafGreen! I am sure! The PokeDex seems to have had an upgrade."), Atiqo concluded absentmindedly.
Arthur couldn't follow his friend's thoughts and aside from the new touch function the PokeDex didn't reveal any other differences. It still answered most questions with the same sound [Access Denied!], so Arthur gave it up and focused on continuing his SWAT Analysis on the touch keypad.
#Name: Arthur McNeal
#Strengths: - / - #Weaknesses: - / - #Opportunities: - / - #Threats: - /:
#S - / - young growing body with a sharp perception and awareness
#W - / - currently injured
#O - / - big potential growth through training
#T - / - talent for cultivation is low - /
#S - / - One Pokemon Partner: Sniebel (Sneazel)
#W - / - currently heavily injured
#O - / - might recover former strength and become a huge asset
#T - / - no possible recovery and may be forced to be released into the wilderness - /
#S - / - PokeDex (?) with high capabilities
#W - / - no access to all functions
#O - / - mighty source for information
#T - / - unknown technology, might have risks involved- /
#S - / - Two Mercenaries in command (forced by but fearful of Gary)
#W - / - weak and maybe untrustworthy
#O - / - backdoor into the underworld
#T - / - status is unknown, position might be lower than a Pokemon's, backstabbing possible - /
#S - / - Friends with Gary and Blue Oak
#W - / - can't bother them too much
#O - / - Make use of their connection in various ways
#T - / - overreliance on external help- /
#Name: Atiqo Rodriguez
#S - / - healthy mature 22 year old manly spirit with lots of rich experiences
#W - / - no body, sometimes unreliable and disillusioned
#O - / - helpful advices, two minds better than one
#T- / - current existential status unknown - /
#S - / - high business acumen
#W - / - no resources and capital, poor
#O - / - starting a business to gain personal capital and wealth with unique ideas from another universe
#T- / - not trustworthy for loans as a spirit lol, very different business environment - /
#S - / - Immense Pokemon knowledge (games)
#W - / - not compatible with reality
#O - / - possible information source in special topics and areas
#T- / - costs time and research to filter useful knowledge - /
#S - / - connection with a hologram (?) / member of a secret organisation from the future
#W - / - current status unknown
#O - / - unknown but possible potential for help/resources
#T- / - unknown destiny against dangerous entities e.g. 'the Emperor' - /
("So, here were are.")
"Yeah.", Arthur helplessly shrugged his shoulders,
"So our conclusion is that I am a young boy with nothing but potential on his hands, and you are a ghost with limited capacity to help us out. Enlightening, truly."
("Do I hear sarcasm in your voice? I can't make it out with all that half-heartedness! Come on Arthur! Don't give up hope, I am sure we can make a 180 degree turn if we manage to contact Cornelius again somehow.")
"Sigh, you're right. I am mostly worried about this Emperor guy. Even that Lord that Cornelius was preaching about couldn't stop him. And they are from the future ... I mean, how are we supposed to go up against this!?"
("What's up with one or two mighty entities, you know where I come from we eat-")
"You don't understand. Nobody does ... forget it, sigh."
Atiqo felt some negative undulations developing inside Arthur's mind. But he wasn't sure if he would make matters worse by talking more, so he kept his silence instead. He didn't want to push his young friend too much. Their situation truly didn't look very bright.
The rest of the journey remained uneventful. Flocks of flying Pokemon came across their way sometimes but Fearrow was able to keep them at bay. They underestimated Fearrows prowess by several degrees due to his friendly nature up until now. But he was Gary Oaks Pokemon Partner after all, so there was no way that his Fearrow would be incapable to brush off some low-leveled Pokemon, as Atiqo started calling them.
Atiqo wondered if there was an Avian Pokemon Task Force that controlled the area they were moving in. It would be dangerous if there wasn't. But then again, why did nobody come and stop them? Was it normal for kids to fly around on Pokemon?
After a while, the Oak Mansion was back in their view. They didn't find anyone waiting for their arrival on the ground, so it was a good sign that their actions hadn't been caught yet. Fearrow made a quick and graceful landing and their feet made contact with the hard soil again. Sweet sweet ground.
Now, the next problem needing to be addressed ... Arthur glanced back towards Fearrow, Cecile was still lying peacefully on its back. Safe and sound ...
"So here are you guys! Have you lost your mind?!", a female shrieking voice reached his ears. Luckily it wasn't mother, that might have been problematic.
"Didn't I explicitly prohibit you from going outside the mansion?!", Daisy marched down the entrance of the mansion towards their little group, clearly looking upset.
"I-I am sorry Daisy, we just wanted to play a little .."
"Sorry what? Sorry that you aren't dead yet?! Listen, we might have an Energy Vein that runs deep under our house for a long distance into all directions, but I am not sure how intensely you are affected by the energy pollution, and how far you can go outside without collapsing like a corpse!", she put a strong emphasis on that last word to make her point clear.
"And you aren't a lab rat Arthur, we aren't testing your limits here, we just want you to be SAFE. Understand, you man?"
Arthur gulped down a little and was about to respond when another voice whispered in an evil tongue to him.
"Yes ma'am. It's just that ... it's just that Cecile really wanted to play with me, and when I told her how dangerous it would be to leave the house ... she made me use some weird creme on my skin...", Arthur felt awful stabbing his friend in the back like this, at least he viewed her like this right now. They hadn't spent a lot of time until now together, but Cecile treated him like an equal and wasn't too judgemental despite her superior background. She was loads better compared to someone like Rico Nevarez who flaunted his family reputation constantly around.
So it hurt even more what Atiqo suggested to him and what he was about to do.
"I wasn't really sure because that solution tickled on the skin a little, but I trusted her and I also felt much better afterward so I didn't think that -"
"WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?!", before Arthur could even comprehend what was going on, Daisy grabbed him by his shoulder and ran straight back into the house. He wouldn't have thought a girl her size would be this powerful, but she would have easily been able to throw his body off like a football! Daisy had an urgent look on her face, maybe a storm was currently raging in her mind, Arthur didn't know. They ran down a couple of stairs, made several turns left and right and then entered a silver metal door.
He didn't have time to make out his surrounding before she shoved him into a patient's seat you would usually find at a dentists place. Daisy moved around her place, using some instruments, typing stuff on a computer and so on so forth. A blending light shone on his face from a lamp above the seat.
"Ehh, could you please tell me what is going on?", Arthur had a nagging feeling that he might drop dead by the way Daisy acted.
"I have to run some tests, if nothing wrong has happened and my niece used the right reagents then you are fine but ..."
"But if she used the wrong flask, well, let's not talk about this, shall we?"
Urgh. Maybe, Arthur had been a bit rash to put all his trust (including his life) in a little girl's hands. What if she really made a small mistake, and confused to nearly identical-looking flasks?!
("...sorry?"), Atiqo apologized clearly embarrassed. It was his idea to enact the plan and use Cecile to attempt an escape from the mansion. They had succeeded after all, finding a weird stone that was able to summon another ghost from the future that foretold an ominous catastrophe they might have to stop ... well maybe it hadn't been that great. Yep, Arthur's life had been better off without all these problems stacking on top of one another.
Daisy walked to his side holding up an instrument that looked like a gun. She moved it up and down his body and the results made her face look a bit weird. Her eye brows furrowed very strongly ... so maybe he was fated to die now?
Before he had time to digest this, a question reached his ears:
"This is impossible ... this can't be true. Did you really use up some of my solutions? Or are you hiding something?", her face now closed in on his face, mere inches apart from one another.
Daisy was quite a beautiful women on a second look, Arthur might have blushed in any other situation because of how close they were to each other but right now ... his face paled a little and his heart rate must have increased noticeably. He also felt goosebumps rising up on his arms.
Daisy might have noticed something was up and pushed him deeper into a corner:
"Tell me Arthur, did Cecile really give you something to help you out? I can tell if you're lying, so don't bother to put up a poker face with me here.", she scrutinized him with an intense gaze.
Arthur's voice felt stuck inside his lungs, his thoughts were messed up and he was unable to form a coherent sentence. He was definitely looking suspicious! He also felt a mysterious aura emanating from Daisy's body that put him under intense pressure, wringing him dry like a wet towel! His concentration was crumbling down with every passing second and Arthur was about to spill the beans, when a strong suction force pulled him back into another space.
"Miss Daisy, I am deeply hurt you might think I could have lied to you! And would it be possible to keep some distance between us? I find you very attractive but we might want to postpone this for another time, how about it?", a pleasant and stead-fast voice left Arthur's mouth while a wide grin spread across his lips revealing his clean bright teeth.
"I mean, I wouldn't mind having a date with a mature woman such as you. It's just that we have more important stuff to take care of right now, like my possible deadly sickness, am I right?", 'Arthur' still kept up his glowing smile, together with the light from the lamp above he might have seemed like a little angel that couldn't harm a single fly or deceive even a baby!
Daisy's face twitched in several places when her brain finally registered what that little boy was talking about. She put up a smile that wasn't a smile, but she wasn't sure what she felt right now.
"Yeah, right. Haha, ehh, exactly. I mean, eh, your sickness, is gone.", it took her a couple of seconds to grasp her thoughts again, while quickly trying to remove this embarrassing moment from her memories. If her brother had been here to see this ... she might have just buried herself alive!
"What do you mean with its gone? Wasn't that the effect the solution was supposed to have? That's good news right? No deadness left in me?", 'Arthur' asked back with a relieved sigh.
"No ... with gone, I mean gone. Like it never happened. As if you had never been corrupted in the first place."
"It's another term we use for high levels of Energy Corrosiveness. Erasing the protective layer around a person's body is one of the more harmless things that could happen to someone, I promise you. I don't want to shock you too much, and it's not widely known. But when people become influenced by huge amounts of infinity energy without having any appropriate protective measures in place the cells in our bodies act very ... strangely. You could say, that someone becomes less of a human as times passes, thus the term becoming 'corrupted'. If you don't die before that at least."
"This sounds ridiculous. What is less than a human? What do you mean with that?" 'Arthur' had a perplexed look on his face. He had never heard about corruption taking place in the games.
"The cells adapt after prolonged exposure to intense infinity energy levels. Subjects are able to grasp infinity particles much more efficiently, their tolerance level towards highly saturated environments filled with infinity energy rises ... and they are able to transform energy into power almost as if they were ... Pokemon.", he eyes lost focus for a moment, as if they were remembering something deeply hidden in a corner of her mind.
"WHAT?", shock finally blossomed on 'Arthur's face. This was too unbelievable. People turning into Pokemon, this couldn't be true!
"Forget, I already said too much, and Blue will get angry if he finds out. To get back to your situation, it's simply impossible. Corruption leaves some clear evidence behind that we can detect with the right equipment but I can't find anything inside your body right now, as if your battle in the woods had never taken place. Except for your physical injuries, you're perfectly fine. And I don't have anything in my labs that could even faintly explain your current status. I hope you understand my skepticism.", her eyebrows furrowed again, while she read some data on the displays.
"Isn't there anything that could cure my condition this ... effectively?"
"Sure there is. It's just rare and expensive to buy. Only Blue has access to goodies like that, and it's reserved for incredibly dangerous occasions. Gary suggested using some on you, but Blue declined as there were still other options left to treat you. You can see by this, how rare and important such medicine can be. They are strategic resources reserved for a crisis."
"Ok, well, I was just lucky. Or maybe I have a latent healing talent, right? Hahaha, I could become tank with my incredible physique hahaha!"
"*Cringe* Yes ... you're right. Maybe you have a talent like that. For now I can't find anything that could pose any danger towards your health and I have no reason to hold you up like this. You're free to go Arthur.", she offered to him with a smile on her face.
"Thank you Daisy, I am really grateful. And about our date ...", 'Arthur' mentioned on the way out.
Daisy's face twitched slightly.
"... forget it. Treat it as if I never said anything.", he smiled back sheepishly and hastily ran out before the situation could escalate.
Daisy watched helplessly as that shameless boy escaped while leaving her in an uncomfortable state. Her thoughts wandered back to when she 'interrogated' that boy. She felt like having him completely under her thumb, she even released some of her aura to put pressure on him. She was after all Daisy Oak, a member of the Oak family and sister of the famed Blue Oak. Even if she was studying medicine she wasn't incapable of putting up a fight against her brothers.
Her sharpened senses, as well as the instruments, revealed high stress levels when she asked him if he had been hiding anything. Her training as a doctor allowed her to read his eyes like an open book. The pulsing of his blood flow inside his veins, the increased pupils ... something was wrong with that boy she had been so sure.
But then, from one moment to another, as if her experiences had failed her this one time the tables flipped around and crushed all her assumptions! Arthur's fluent responses, his balanced display readings even the way he shamelessly joked with her! Everything changed so fast, she couldn't make out truths from lies. He acted too natural to be just pretending. But was that the truth?
"It's as if he had exchanged positions with someone completely different or as if he got possessed by a ghost with skin as thick as a mask ... hahaha ha. I am getting tired. I sound like a lunatic, sigh."
She would have to talk with Cecile about this, maybe she could shed some light on the situation.
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