An Inevitable Discovery
This piece is part 2 of the New Logora plotline.
Part 1: Marshaling the Volunteers
This post introduced the event to the participants.
The underground tunnel is cramped and sweltering, echoing with the chatter of trainers and the cries of pokémon alike. A few people have come kitted out for a serious expedition, headlamps glowing and backpacks bulked out with supplies, but most look like ordinary trainers, chattering and laughing with one another and goggling around at the tunnel's dusty interior. It doesn't look like anything special, really.
"Excuse me! Hello? Hello! Could I have your attention over here a minute please?" The hubbub dies down slowly, people near the back of the group standing on tiptoe to get a look at the speaker. He's a big, burly man, grinning from beneath a hard hat and a generous layer of Badlands dust. "Great," he goes on. "First of all, I'd like to thank all of you for coming out here on such short notice. I can't tell you how amazing it is to see so many people interested in our beautiful region's history. We'd never be able to pull off an excavation like this without all of your help, so again--thank you."
"Not that we weren't doing fine on our own," mutters a kid standing next to him, scowling at the assembled trainers with his arms crossed over his chest.
The speaker falters a moment, but his huge grin comes roaring back a second later. "Right, then. Let's get started. All of you should have received a map of the complex. Now, we don't know what this place was or what we might find, but we've marked some spots of particular interest for you to check out. If you find anything interesting, grab one of us and let us have a look. So, let's have a quick round of introductions, then."
His smile is lost on the others of his group, who are variously staring at the new recruits or, in one case, into their phone. The speaker points to the fiddling Revivalist. "That's Argild. He's been on this site longer than anybody else, so he's the man you want to talk to if you have any questions about the ruins or the Badlands in general." The man looks up from his phone long enough to give the group a wave and a fleeting smile, then goes right back to texting.
"Kozr and Ruxi were the ones who discovered the inscription, so I guess you could call them our local experts on the site." The man points to two Revivalists standing at extreme opposite ends of the group.
"More like I was the one who actually discovered it while Kozr was running around, getting in my way like always," Ruxi says in a carrying whisper.
"You? Discover it? You were obsessing over some worthless piece of graffiti while I was deciphering the real text!" Kozr snaps back.
"And this is Naritanu!" the lead Revivalist goes on, a bit desperately. He slaps the boy on the shoulder so hard he actually staggers, then shoots his elder a dirty look. "He's the expert on artifacts and ancient whatnots, so if you happen to find any, he's the one you'll want to bring them to."
"Show them to. Show them to. Do not attempt to remove anything that you find. Go get someone with proper training to handle it for you. And if I catch any of you trying to sneak off with something you've found I'll--"
"And I'm Treg! Don't be afraid to come to me with any questions. I'm happy to help. Okay, I think that's every--" He breaks off as a woman who'd been hanging around near the wall, talking on her phone, slides the device shut and comes over to join the group. Treg welcomes her with an enthusiastic smile.
"I'm sure you all recognize Evten," Treg says. "She's taking time out of her busy schedule to oversee this historic event. Maybe you'd like to say a few words to our eager volunteers, Lieutenant Governor?"
"Thank you very much for being here," the woman says with a thin smile. "But I'm sure you're all tired of standing there being talked at, aren't you? Why don't you let them get started with the excavation, Treg?"
"Sounds good to me!" Treg says, beaming. "You heard the Lieutenant Governor! Pick a spot on your map and get digging! Oh, and watch out for wild pokémon, too. I understand the unown are getting a little riled up with all the people tromping around in here. Just keep an eye out, okay? Stay safe. And have fun!"
"Wait!" Naritanu shouts as the clamor of voices starts up again. "You can't just go digging anywhere. It's very important not to disturb the delicate--"
No need to listen to him. Nobody else is, after all, and if you don't get moving, you're going to get left behind!
Part 2: Enter the Edge Specter
This post announced the start of the event's final battle.
Kozr and Ruxi's digging is not going well.
"Could you not lean into my light like that? Get out of the way!"
"You're the one digging in my way. I thought you said you were going to excavate that part over there."
"Oh no you don't. This is the best spot, and you know it. Don't you go trying to foist that crappy spot off on me just because you're mad I got here first."
"You got here first? You're not even supposed to be here! Argild said you were supposed to investigate the right-hand tunnel, but no, you--"
"Me take the right-hand tunnel? Me take the right-hand tunnel? Weren't you listening? I was supposed to go left, you were supposed to go right. Except you didn't, and now you're standing there getting in my light."
"You've got it completely backwards, idiot!"
"Oh, so now I'm the idiot, moron?"
Ruxi's shovel crunches in the dirt as she continues excavating a half-collapsed wall. "I said you're standing in my--" This time as she brings the shovel down it connects with a deep boom, and the ground begins to tremble, cracks spreading up the wall and through the floor around her.
"What did you do?" Kozr yelps, retreating and shielding his head with his hands as chunks of rock start to crumble from the ceiling.
"I don't know! I couldn't see what I was doing because someone was standing in my light!" She abandons her shovel and sprints up the tunnel after Kozr as the shaking grows worse and the cracks in the floor widen to dangerous chasms.
The two of them nearly bowl right into Naritanu as he comes rushing down a cross-corridor, Treg following close behind. "Kozr! Ruxi!" Treg gasps. "What's going on? Did you see what happened?"
"What happened, Treg, is one of those apes you decided to invite along must have disturbed something down there, and now the whole complex is falling in!" Naritanu snapped. "Congratulations, your lovely 'volunteers' have single-handedly destroyed our most significant find in the past two thousand years!"
"It was Ruxi!" Kozr gasps, falling in behind the other Revivalists. "I told her not to dig there!"
"You were complaining because you wanted to dig there!"
"Well if I had been the one digging I wouldn't have screwed things up!"
Still the shaking intensifies, sections of wall beginning to crumble and unown streaming through the resulting holes to confront the humans. Naritanu's sableye jabbers angrily and leaps to defend his trainer, joining Kozr's zangoose and Ruxi's seviper in driving the wild pokémon back.
"How much farther, Treg?" Naritanu asks, stumbling sideways and grabbing at the wall as a split opens up in the rock beneath him, releasing another angrily humming swarm of unown.
"Umm, well, I think we should be close to the entrance, but with all the walls falling in and the rubble blocking that passage back there... I don't know."
"You don't--" But Naritanu is cut off by a high-pitched screeching noise, followed by the sounds of battle from up ahead. A strange blue glow is shining through the breach in a half-crumpled wall up ahead, and Naritanu rushes to investigate.
Kozr and Ruxi, on the other hand, are intent on getting as far away from the shrieking noise as possible. They sprint off in the opposite direction but don't get far before a black wave of unown pours into the corridor, so dense that the distinction between the pokémon's bodies is impossible to see. The only thing visible through the black is the pokémon's eyes, wide and staring. The normally belligerent pair stops running and shrinks together nervously as they stare up at their foes.
"Treg, get over here!" Naritanu's standing at the hole knocked through the wall, staring into the blue light. "Do you know what this is?"
The big Revivalist has to crouch down to look. "Oh," he says. "That's not good."
Through successive holes in the wall it's just possible to see a huge, flickering blue shape looming in an empty space carved out by swirling unown. The mothlike pokémon screeches, the noise accentuated by the rasping of its blade-edged forelimbs, a sound like knives being drawn over one another. It bears down on a pair of trainers, one of whom clutches something pointed in her hand as though she intends to stab the giant bug. All around the unown swirl, sending bursts of hidden power in all directions, punching holes through walls and lighting the air with tension. "It's not real," Naritanu says. "It's just a projection of the unown, see?" The edge of the bug's wing sinks through a wall, its image flickering and dancing for a moment before the wingtip reemerges.
"I dunno, it looks pretty solid to me," Treg says, wincing as one of the specter's pointed appendages lances down at the trainers' defiant crocoal.
"Well, come on," Naritanu says, clambering through the hole. "I doubt we'll be able to get out of here until that thing's destroyed and the unown calm down a bit."
"You want to fight that? I dunno, Nari, even if it's just an illusion, that's--"
"I don't mean we ought to fight it. If there's one thing those rabble-rousing trainers are good for, it's beating things up. I'll bet the lot of them are on their way here right now, eager to punch a rare pokémon in the face. Now, what we will do is try to keep the unown from bringing this place down on all our heads while the trainers are dealing with the specter. You two!"
Kozr and Ruxi, who'd come rushing back to the others while their pokémon held off the unown, exchange a nervous look. "Stay here and help out anyone who's struggling. We'll meet up again after the battle. And if you see Argild around, tell him to find us, would you?" He doesn't stick around to hear their nervous mutters of assent.
The two Revivalists watch as he rushes off, Treg trailing along behind, and heads for the thick of the chaos.
After a moment Kozr says, "You know none of this would have happened if you'd just paid attention and gone to dig where you were supposed to."
"Didn't you hear Naritanu? I had nothing to do with it, idiot."
"Whatever. You and that limp noodle you call a seviper had better not screw this one up. I don't want to get blamed for your failure again."
"Seviper is twice the pokémon your mangy zangoose is, and you know it! Just make sure that thing doesn't get in our way!"
The two of them stare at the massing unown, their pokémon waiting nervously just ahead. As the drone of the psychics' gathering power intensifies to be almost deafening, Kozr finally says, "How about next time you decide you've found some ancient prophecy you just keep it to yourself, huh?"
Part 3: The Edge of the Inevitable
This post wrapped up the final battle and announced the distribution of the participants' rewards.
The edge specter will not fall. Attack after volley of attacks slams into it, fire and lightning roiling around it and determined bodies bashing themselves against its flickering form, but still the apparition and its guard of unown hang in the air, filling the cavern with its wingspan and their dizzying spinning. A blue scythe arcs down into the ground mere inches from a spraylet, nearly pinning its leg—or worse—to the floor.
It won't go down. It's just an illusion, the Revivalists shout from the tunnels, just a defense conjured up by the frenzied unown, but the number of fallen and wounded pokémon the trainers whisk back into their poké balls is frighteningly high for something that's not supposed to be real. It won't go down, but it will bury them all here before they have a chance to escape.
Something shoves Clara hard, nearly knocking her to the trembling floor. She whirls around, expecting a frantic cluster of unown to wheel away after colliding with her back, but sees only Naritanu storming past her and pushing Jack out of his way. His sableye peeks into the room around the crumbling doorway, a grin splitting its face as its trainer elbows through the gaggle of volunteers and pokémon.
"Well, this is just fantastic," Naritanu says, staring straight at the shuddering, shifting specter but the ice in his tone cutting through every volunteer present. "Not only are you all greedy, ignorant and needlessly destructive, but it turns out the lot of you are completely useless in a battle, the one thing I thought you hooligans might be good for. My confidence in your assistance is positively soaring." He massages the base of his throat as though the group's incompetence has brought on a sudden pang of heartburn, his fingers brushing against the necklace hanging there.
Lights flash in the edge specter's sunken sockets, in the eyes of the unown looping erratically around its wings, from somewhere down the passage from which the party had emerged. A horrible, rasping scream issues from somewhere beneath its mask, and its scythe-arms reach out impossibly far as they jerk toward first one trainer, then another. Incorporeal blades glide through solid rock and yet screech and scrape as though dragged across the stone; every movement draws a trail of ever-widening cracks across the surface. Something rushes into the room and between the gathered volunteers, but they have no time to see what it might be—one of the edge specter's scythes has stopped directly above their heads, its tip poised to lash down and pierce someone's skull. The other blade hangs lower and twists sideways, pulling back to swing edge-first into Naritanu's neck. The boy remains where he is, still standing tall, still glaring at the phantasm, still touching his throat in annoyance rather than out of fear of losing his head.
Something explodes behind the edge specter. A rush of shadow energy cuts through the swirling unown and knocks out the lights strobing from their eyes, then a red and black blur surges out of the darkness and slams into the apparition before it can strike either of its targets. The specter goes down in a screaming, hissing tangle of wings and legs and blades, four heavy hooves trampling it into the floor of the small cavern.
But the edge specter has not fallen. Its assailant trots away after the thorough stomping and turns around to stare it into submission, but still it rises, driving its scythe-blades into the sides of the cavern and hauling itself back up. As the specter drags its battered form into an upright position the scythes sink further into the walls, tearing yet more fissures into the rock with ominous cracks and rumbles. The edges of the apparition flicker and twist erratically, blurring its shape back and forth between vaguely mothlike and completely unidentifiable. One wing beats at an impossible speed, struggling to keep it airborne while the other twitches uselessly at its side; part of its skeletal mask is damaged beyond recognition, nothing but formless blue energy pulsing and shifting where half of a face should be. It howls a challenge at its newest attacker, its rasping voice broken and shuddering but still defiant, still furious—
"Blindside again, Ramfere," Naritanu says, and his pokémon disappears with an angry bellow. There is another rush of wind as it gallops past its trainer, all but invisible beneath its veil of shadows. The battered specter brings a scythe down on the space its foe had occupied moments before, blade whistling keenly as it slices through thin air, and then another burst of darkness off to its right sends it crashing to the ground beneath Ramfere's hooves. There is a scream, a sound like shattering blades and snapping bones, a surge of violent blue light that washes out the whole cavern—
—then silence. As the searing light fades and the volunteers blink their vision back into focus they see the strange ramfere standing alone in the center of the room, pawing the ground and snorting irritably at nothing in particular.
The edge specter has fallen and the unown have vanished, taking with them the extensive damage to the cavern and its surrounding tunnels. The rough stone walls are once again solid and unblemished, every last crack that had spider-webbed across their surface having sealed itself without a trace. Even the scattered books have returned to their shelves, and the dilapidated bundle of tattered blankets and broken jars in the corner looks undisturbed—still dusty and forlorn, but just as it had been when the trainers had first entered.
Naritanu rubs his eyes, the better to give the assembled trainers a withering glare, then points at Kathira and addresses his pokémon. "Enough, Ramfere. Come back. You, give me that artifact. Yes, you," he adds when Kathira gives him an angry glare. "You people have done enough. You shouldn't have picked that up in the first place. Sableye, bring it to me. Carefully." The imp cackles and skitters out from its hiding place, ducking between Ramfere's legs just as the larger pokémon is enveloped in a multicolored glow. Sableye snatches the stone blade from Kathira without giving her a chance to protest, and Ramfere, now back to its familiar stocky shape, canters over to Naritanu's side. A red and black stone is just visible nestled in its thick wool.
"Is that... you... you had a mega stone this whole time?" stammers a voice from the back. "You could... you could've mega-evolved your ramfere from the start, and you made us fight that horrible monster?"
"Ramfere and I don't like fighting," Naritanu sniffs, focusing on the item Sableye has brought him rather than the speaker. His ramfere bleats loudly, stomps the ground and lets off a burst of electricity, causing a dustley to abandon its attempt at a curious sniff and scurry away in terror. "Besides, it wasn't even a real monster. If it had been there might've been some excusing your utter inability to stop it, and I wouldn't feel as bad about having to clean up behind you."
"Now wait a minute, kid," says another volunteer, stepping forward into the cavern with her fists clenched. "We all agreed to come down here and do whatever we could for you guys, and if you're going to repay all that by withholding your help and then heaping a bunch of insults on us then—"
"Insults and a big reward!" says Treg, bustling into the room behind the volunteer with Argild and Lt. Governor Vargas crowding in behind him. "We'll be repaying you with insults and the rewards we promised you at the outset! Er, I mean— wait— not insults, not that part, but the Revivalists will see to it that you all receive your compensation, and our deepest thanks." The big man grins sheepishly and pulls Naritanu away from the angry volunteer; the boy grumbles audibly but complies, still scrutinizing something on the side of the blade. "Scathing criticism is Nari's way of saying that he's grateful for your assistance, and that he understands that Ramfere couldn't have finished that thing off so fast if you all hadn't weakened it first." Another grumble. "Sorry, folks, real sorry! He's really not all bad, honest, it's just that he... he's very... him."
Argild nods solemnly as Treg finishes his red-faced apology. The lieutenant governor pockets the phone she's been fiddling with, moves to stand by the boy, then addresses the gathered volunteers with a broad smile. "I'd like to apologize to you all for my colleague's brusque attitude. He should absolutely know better than to be short with the people who have selflessly offered us their assistance, and we'll talk to him about it... again... later. In the meantime I'd like to take a moment to thank all of you—" she pauses to grab the angry volunteer's hand and give it a hearty shake "—for your help and for your bravery. I couldn't have asked for a more dedicated team in the face of an unexpected attack. We have your compensation and teams of paramedics waiting just outside in the main tunnel. If any of you are not in need of medical assistance, however, and if I may ask for your time and your generosity just once more, we still need to locate..."
"We've already found it, Evten," Naritanu says, cutting her off and holding out the artifact.
The four Revivalists huddle around the object, obscuring it from the trainers' view as they lean in to inspect it. "That's really it?" Argild asks, frowning and pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose. "It doesn't look like much, does it? For a gift from a legendary pokémon, I mean. I hear Sinnoh's legendaries guard jewels the size of your head, and in Johto they leave behind rare, pretty feathers, things like that, but this is just made out of a rock..."
"'Just a rock'," Naritanu growls. "And I suppose my Logos Stones are 'just rocks', too, are they? What it's made of is irrelevant, you dolt. All that matters is what it does."
Another volunteer reaches out to touch Naritanu's shoulder, thinks better of it, and taps Treg instead. "I, er... I don't suppose you're going to tell us what it does, are you? What is that thing?"
Lt. Gov. Vargas clears her throat and turns to face the gathered trainers, holding the half-scissor out in front of her so everyone can see it but keeping the red thread wound around one finger so she can keep it safe. "Of course. It's only fair, especially after you and your pokémon gave your time and risked your safety to help us recover it. This, my Revivalists and our invaluable volunteers, is called the Edge of the Inevitable. I apologize if some of you came down here expecting to find a... shinier sort of treasure," she says, side-eying her deputy, "but this artifact is a boon granted to the Tanoby people by the legendary pokémon Moirexe." She pauses for a few beats before continuing, waiting politely for those who know the name to recognize it and those who don't to look surprised. "Moirexe herself has not been seen for centuries, although as it happens those unown elected to give you all a glimpse of her in these caverns this evening." Another pause for effect, and a smile as one or two of the volunteers gasp.
"Thousands of years ago, a catastrophe destroyed the legendary pokémon that gave Logora its power and its bounty, and tore the very land itself asunder," she continues. "And in the aftermath of that terrible time, even as so many of our ancestors fled the region and scattered themselves across the world, a small group of the remaining faithful remembered a promise made to them by Moirexe and her sisters. Gather the relics the three sisters left behind, and they will be summoned to aid the people in mending the broken legends. And now that we've retrieved the first one..."
"You want to summon Moirexe?" someone interrupts. "You want to bring that thing we just fought—the thing that almost cut my pindillo in half—back to New Logora for real?"
Naritanu glares in the direction of the speaker, but Evten simply smiles and shakes her head. "There's no cause for alarm, volunteers. The apparition you faced here was simply that—an apparition. The unown resting here were agitated by all of the activity and so created that specter to defend themselves; they could just as easily have dreamed up an entei to try and drive us off. The true Moirexe and her sisters swore in good faith that they would help restore the great graces of Logora. I hardly think death is the type to break a promise." She laughs at her little joke and doesn't seem to mind when no one else does.
"Well!" Treg claps his hands and beams around at their audience, eager to break the uncomfortable silence that has fallen. "Lemme just say again that we really couldn't have done this without you all! Please, make your way back to the main tunnel so you and your pokémon can get patched up. There're Revivalists outside with the medics who'll see to it that you're well-compensated for your effort... oh, and don't forget to stop by the Etaoin City headquarters later, if you get a chance! Everyone who helped out today is entitled to a selection of the rewards we usually offer volunteers there, too! You folks are the greatest!"
There isn't much left to do, really. The group files out, some of them hurrying toward the paramedics, some eager to get their hands on the incoming loot, some just glad to be on their way out of these claustrophobic tunnels. The walk back out to the main passage is uneventful, thankfully, and far simpler than it had been heading in—the way back is surprisingly straightforward, only a few turns every once in a while and not a cave-in or underground river in sight. There are people waiting outside to dole out cash, as promised, and several EMTs and pokémon center attendants are indeed on hand to tend to limping trainers and scratched-up pokémon.
As they gather their payment and receive their treatment, the volunteers are left to wonder just what sort of promise warrants so much fuss over half a pair of scissors.
Thanks to Negrek for writing parts 1 and 2 of this event!