Bubblegum Boys & Skeletal Star
Drunken Memoirs & Grave Revelations
“Daaaaaaddy!!” Ciela exclaimed, racing up to the doorway. Orianna couldn’t help giggling softly as her father - Boaz - crouched to scoop Ciela up into his arms. The Hitmonchan had a wide grin on his face, and as he turned into the house Orianna heard the familiar key jingling and metal scraping sounds of her two brothers.
“How goes your time within the city walls, sister dearest?” the lower voice came from Exodus, her Aegislash sibling whom she’d Sketched King’s Shield from.’He always wanted to make sure I could protect myself and Ciela if he wasn’t there to,’
she reached her arms out to the sword; he responded by uncoiling his sash arms from his body and wrapping those silken arms around her as well. The hug was not brief, and Orianna took a great deal of comfort in pressing herself against his cool steel body.’Exodus did always give the best hugs,’
she pulled away and looked up into his warm purple eye, finally answering his question, “well, it’s going alright so far. We haven’t participated in too much yet, but we met quite a handful of new and interesting ‘mons!”
“And how’s it goin’ wit’ y’know Gage and Dashiell and th’ Telluriums’?”
Orianna pouted at Elohim, then playfully reached over and waved her hand about under his keys. The Klefki let out a laugh then darted backward, glowering at her, “oi oi oi c’mon now Ori-ann! Don’t go doin’ tha’ ‘ey? Jus’ tell me!”
“Hm it’s… okay. I don’t know, to my knowledge they haven’t, like… well… been involved with anything,” she muttered, kicking at the ground. Exodus and Elohim were silent, but then Exodus patted Orianna gently with one of his hands.
“I guess things are still quite strained between you and the male Smeargle. We best make haste back inside. Mother and father are patiently waiting.”
Orianna frowned at the ground, but nodded her head, ’I guess he’s… right. Things are still tense with Gage. I was sure he would’ve figured it out by now...’
Sighing, she followed her brothers into the house, where she was greeted by her mother Ruth. The Ditto turned ‘female’ Hitmontop scooped Orianna up off the floor, hugging her close.
“How’s my darling eldest daughter!” she exclaimed joyfully, and Orianna couldn’t help releasing a childish giggle at her mother’s antics.
“I’m doing good!” she replied, “Exodus and Elohim helped.”
Ruth laughed, “that’s good! You have older brothers who make it their duty to look after you, after all.”
“She sure do,” Elohim agreed, his keys jingling as he seemed to swell with pride. Exodus rolled his eyes, but from the way his lower lid curled up Orianna knew he was smiling.’Smiling to the best of his ability of course,’
she laughed inwardly as her mother set her down, ’since he doesn’t really have a mouth he can physically smile with.’
“Alright well time for lunch!” the Hitmontop announced.
Naturally, at the table, Ciela was seated happily in Boaz’s lap. As Ruth passed him she gave him a peck on his middle horn. A soft chuckle escaped him then he went back to paying attention to Ciela. The little Braixen was busy stuffing her face with carrots.
Orianna helped her mother bring the food to the table, while Exodus made quick work of putting down plates and silverware. Elohim got glasses and drinks. For the first moments, lunch was spent in relative silence. Orianna observed each of her family members for a few minutes. Exodus had allowed a mouth of sharp teeth to form a little ways below his eye. With that he munched on what looked to be metal scraps. Elohim was busy eating his meal in small bites, using a spoon and fork key on his key ring. Ciela was busy attempting to feed their father a spoonful of mashed potatoes, and like the good sport he was Boaz was letting her try - though he soon snatched the spoon from Ciela and fed himself.
” Ciela complained, and Boaz laughed.
“Well why don’t you feed me something like a carrot?”
Orianna smiled as Ciela happily complied, her large tail sweeping against the floor.
The Smeargle's golden eyes then turned to her mother, Ruth.
Truthfully Orianna had never seen her mother in any other forms aside from her Ditto and Hitmontop forms. It was due to that that Orianna had always thought that no matter what, there was an equal amount of distribution between the females of a species and the males of a speices.
Of course she had been wrong, but when it came down to it, Orianna had fought viciously to defend the fact that yes, her mother was in fact female and was a Hitmontop. That entire fight was part of the reason Exodus insisted she Sketch his King's Shield – so that she could protect herself without needing hurt someone, or get hurt herself.'That was before I found out mother was a Ditto, actually,'
she sighed softly, looking back down at her plate to contemplate whether to eat a forkful of potatoes, or a piece of the fleshcap, 'after that she and father decided they better explain to me about the fact that because mother was a Ditto, she could actually be anything she wanted – she even turned into a male Hitmontop to prove it but being in that form made her so uncomfortable...'
Orianna raised her head, her eyes focused on her father. There was a hint of concern in his eyes, “are you alright?”
“Oh uh-- y-yeah! I was just thinking, that's all...”
The Hitmonchan's brows narrowed back, but he didn’t ask Orianna anything more on the subject. Ciela had distracted his attention once again and now he was cutting up a larger fleshcap for the little girl.
Orianna went back to picking at her plate, her appetite lost after the memories that had come back to her, ’and then, on top of that, because I’m determined to make everyone see things my way, my favorite forms to go into are all ones that aren’t known to have… females within their species.’
“Say, say Ori-ann-” the Smeargle lifted her head to look at Elohim “- how’s y’know ya Transformin’ comin’ along? I know ye c’n’t really change int’ ‘nythin’ tha’ aint’ humanoid.”
Orianna pressed her lips together, then set down her fork, “well I-I’m getting better at solitary control. Like changing my arms--”
“Into biiiiig Machoke arms!! Like Bubblegum!!” Ciela interrupted, then quickly covered her mouth with both hands before she spat out all her food in excitement. Orianna blinked at her sister, the smallest smile crossing her lips as Ciela swallowed and stood up in Boaz’s lap, “and and and she helped Tea-bag fix a cart!!”
“Ciela!” Orianna whined, shaking her head, then looked at her mother with sheepish eyes, “Tea-bag’s name is actually Teagan. He’s a Bisharp we met, and he has a brother named Samehk who’s… a Kirlia. And he is ridiculously tall. Impossibly tall, and--” she blushed involuntarily, causing her father to get her a suspicious, one eyebrow raised look, “I-I mean we’ve met a Ralts named Kalaghata but he’s unnaturally tall for a Ralts, and his partner, a Kirlia named Saroja. Kal’s th-the same height as her. And then there’s Gage and Dashiell… I mean you know, we’re staying at the big boarding house with them and Lucian, Alistair, Luella, Shauntel… oh and! We met a Fennekin named--”
“TINY!!” Ciela yelped, “TINY ASTRA!!”
Ruth laughed, shaking her head while Exodus buried his ‘face’ in his large ribbon hands, “oh heavens this child…”
“You’ve made quite a handful of new friends!” Boaz beamed, and Orianna couldn’t help but return her father’s smile, “so let me get this straight, you met Kalaghata, a Ralts, Saroja and Samehk who are both Kirlia, a Fennekin named Astra and a Bisharp named Teagan.”
Orianna nodded her head as Ciela whispered to their father about how he wouldn’t believe that Astra was even smaller than she was, then went on to tell her father each of their new friends’ respective nicknames: Cobalt, Pale Blue, Sam, Tiny and Tea-bag.
“Oh! Actually we also ran into another Braixen named Aimi, and her… bodyguard of sorts Connor. He was a Furfrou. He scared Ciela,” the Smearlge muttered the last bit, still miffed at the Furfrou for acting the way he did when the four of them first met.
“Curly and Angry fluff ball!”
Everyone at the table held back laughter at Ciela’s choice of nickname for Connor, though Orianna wondered what Samehk had done to actually get himself the most normal nickname.’Maybe she just really likes him or something,’
she decided, then turned her gaze to her mother, “s-so anyway. Back to my Transform… I still can’t really change color all that well unless I do solitary transforming. My paint changes colors now though.”
“Oh it does?” Ruth had perked up at the mention.
“Yeah! Well when Ciela and I ran into Connor and Aimi, uh, cuz he scared her I instinctively turned my arms into Gallade arms, and my paint turned green. I-I mean it’s possible that happened before too, I just never noticed.”
Orianna swelled a little, ecstatic to hear the pride in her mother’s voice. She’d Sketched Transform from her, after all, and after Orianna nearly broke her own back from trying to Trasnform into a quadroped, Ruth had always been nervously keeping track of her daughter’s progress.
“I haven’t tried Transforming into another quadroped since I nearly broke my back so, you don’t have to worry mom. I know better, I wouldn’t try that without you or dad or Exodus around, cuz I know there’s no one else that would really be able to help me with getting out of that kind of mess, and I would panic too and make it worse so…”
Exodus’ arms suddenly wrapped around Orianna and she could feel the coldness from his sword body as he leaned against her. She immediately took comfort in the action, then she and the Aegislash set about clearing off the table. Boaz carried Ciela off upstairs.
“Orianna!” he called and she quickly passed the plates in her arms off to Elohim who had no trouble carrying them, and darted to the bottom of the stairs.
“When you’re done clearing the table, just come upstairs. I want to show you how to clean out Ciela’s ears.”
Hurriedly Orianna helped her mother clear the serving dishes off the table, then hurried upstairs to her parents’ bedroom. She could hear Ciela’s muffled complaints and her father’s soothing words.
“I know you don’t like it Ciela but you can’t have soot building up in your ears,” Orianna padded into the room as her father spoke, “even if you can’t use fire at all, your body will still make some soot as a basis for you to burn off.”
“Nnn…” Ciela’s head was tipped to the side. Orianna stood near Boaz, noting how he held Ciela’s ear back slightly so that he could get to the inside of it. The cloth he was using was a little wet, and he had a bowl of water next to him, sitting on the bedside table. He was making careful circular motions, wiping away the black soot that built up in Ciela’s ears overtime.
“So uh… how often do her ears need to be cleaned?” Orianna piped up, looking up at her father. A smile tugged at his lips as he dipped a clean part of the cloth in the water and proceeded to clean out Ciela’s ears more.
“Ideally once a week - at the very least. I think when it gets colder her body will naturally start producing more small amounts of charcoal, so make sure you keep plenty of sticks around for her to munch on. It will help feed the fire in her body, but of course, will generate more soot. The fact that she can’t burn off the charcoal residue properly is what causes it to become soot in the first place.”
Orianna nodded her head, and her father continued, tipping Ciela’s head to the other side so he could clean out her left ear, “sometimes there is little to no soot build up. That’s especially true if she doesn’t eat sticks. However she needs to eat sticks to at least keep her body temperature normal. Too many sticks and she’ll overheat, and soot will fall out of her ears. For the most part, if you check her ears at the end of the week and there’s only a little bit of soot build up, clean it out anyway. Better safe than sorry hm?” he gave Ciela’s cheek a pinch and she whined.
“Okay, I’ll check her ears at the end of next week then. Which works out pretty good since it’s Friday today.”
Boaz chuckled and Ciela hopped down from the bed, scurrying off downstairs calling for Elohim. The Hitmonchan then set a heavy hand on Orianna’s shoulder.
“You haven’t had more trouble with Gage, have you?”
Orianna’s ears shot up in surprise, then she quickly shook her head, wrapping her arms around her father’s waist and pressing her face against his abdomen.
“N-no, um well… no, just, earlier I was thinking back to when you and mom explained to me that she was a Ditto…”
“Oh darling,” he murmured, leaning over her so he could hug her more easily, “that happened long in the past.”
The Smeargle said nothing, just pressed her face more against his stomach.
Minutes later, Boaz and Orianna made their way back downstairs. The two girls said goodbye to their family and headed back toward Andalusst. As they went, several other Pokemon darted by, a few that Orianna recognized.
They were chattering excitedly about some Festival and Orianna quickly grabbed Ciela’s hand to prevent her from taking off after them.’A festival huh?’
she smiled down at Ciela, ’sounds like fun! I should definitely take Ciela there.’
Dashiell huffed as he carried two large crates of glasses into the back section of the bar at the Avalodge. Gage trailed behind him, carrying a crate of his own.
“You need a hand with one of those, Dashiell?”
The gruff voice belonged to Alistair, a dark Hawlucha of the shiny variation. His back feathers were black and the ventral part of his wing was bright red. Dashiell deliberated, then nodded his head.
“If you don’t mind, Alice.”
The Hawlucha shook his head and easily took one of the crates from the Machoke. Though Dashiell was strong enough to carry both, he’d been carrying crates back and forth all morning, and now his muscles were feeling the strain.
“Gage, come over here,” Lucian’s voice caught Dash’s attention and he looked over to see what the elegant Zangoose wanted with Gage. The Smeargle went over, his tail swishing excitedly and Dash could see that Lucian had set out a few items often used to make drinks. The Machoke leaned against the counter.’Looks like he’s gonna’ show Gage some more basics, judging from what he’s got set out already,’
the Machoke mused, crossing his arms over his chest. He would take a breather for now.
The Zangoose lifted a cocktail shaker out from under the counter and after setting it down, dropped some ice cubes into it. Gage watched closely of course, and Lucian looked up at him, his eyes and expression emotionless as usual.
“As you know we usually put ice in first. That’s to make sure…”
“The whole drink is chilled,” Gage finished, and Lucian’s mouth twitched at one side.
“Good. I’ll make a basic Sex on the Beach, since it’s a relatively easy drink to learn,” Lucian continued, his voice modulate. It was always nice to listen to Lucian speak, as his voice was pleasant on the ears and controlled.
Gage’s tail flicked again in excitement and he paid close attention to the Zangoose. Lucian picked up a bottle of vodka and poured that into the shaker. He stopped, then picked up the bottle of peach schnapps, dashing some of that in as well.’Next is creme de cassis,’
Dashiell thought, watching as Lucian poured exactly that, ’and then orange juice and cranberry juice.’
Lucian poured both juices in at the same time, stopped pouring them at the same time, and put the cap on. He pushed the shaker to Gage, nodding at him, “shake it up. No need to do anything fancy.”
Gage snatched the shaker and held it easily in one hand, one finger on the cap and the rest of his hand wrapped around it. He gave the drink a good shake and set the stainless steel shaker back down. Lucian popped off the top with a claw and set the strainer on top, pouring the drink into a highball glass next to Gage’s arm. Lastly, he stuck a cherry and a slice of orange on the rim.
“And there you go. Sex on the Beach.”
The Smeargle’s tail wagged in delight and Dashiell pushed away from the counter, having caught the slight nod Lucian gave him.
“C’mon Gage, we’ve still got more stuff to move in,” he called, heading back outside to get the remaining crates, these ones full of juice and pop for the younger population of Andalusst.
“Huh-- oh yeah! Comin’ Dash!”
The two managed to finish the task just as more and more Pokemon started pouring into the Avalodge. Gage stuck his nose in the air as he and Dash lingered in the bar area, then turned his head to the face-painting section.
“Orianna and Ciela are here,” he muttered, and Dashiell turned his head as well to seek out the two girls. Orianna had her back to them, but she was easy to spot in her purple vest. Ciela’s hat was no where to be seen, so he assume that they had either left her hat at their parents’ house or that the hat was in their room at the boarding house he and the rest of the Tellurium’s lived in.’I’m still surprised they chose to hang out with us and the rest of the gang,’
Dash thought to himself, shaking his head a little as Ciela seemed to making it very difficult for her sister to paint her face.
Suddenly, a dark shadow swerved toward the two and Luella popped out of the ground. She placed one hand against Dashiell’s chest, but one look at her expression told the Machoke she wasn’t here to tease.
“They’re on the prowl,” she said, her voice low, “you best keep an eye on Ciela. You know that if she sees one of them, she’ll want to go say hi. I’ve noticed they have a lot of underlings running around, and a good number of sect leaders. Stay vigilant.”
The lanky Sableye sunk back into the floor and before Dash could ask Gage was already sniffing at the air, his blue eyes shifty.’This is a sudden amount of activity from them,’
Dashiell thought, setting a worried gaze in the direction of Orianna and Ciela, where the female Smeargle was finally getting somewhere with painting Ciela’s face.
“Hey, Dash. Those two Scrafty twins are here,” Gage hissed, a growl rumbling in his throat as he casually flicked his tail in the general direction of the two Scrafties.
Dasheill glanced over at them. The female was a shiny, and she had the star tattoos with the roman numeral ‘12’ inked overtop on both of her forearms. The male, Dash had run into before and the result… hadn’t been all that pretty.’If it wasn’t for Alistair I would have come out of that fight with more than a few cuts and bruises,’
the Machoke swallowed. He knew that the male went by the title ‘Gem’, and his star tattoo was on the back of his neck. He too had the roman numeral ‘12’ inked overtop of it.’Wait if he’s called Gem and his twin sister is a leader too then… would that make her Ini?’
he blinked, then started.
Gem was looking at him now. Dashiell could only stare back, a bead of sweat running down his forehead.
Then the Scrafty sneered.’Shit. Shit he recognizes me,’
Dashiell quickly looked away, but form the way that Gage growled he knew that the Scrafty was either already making his way over or was leering.
“Ah shit, there’s a Gardevoir with them now,” Gage muttered, then he grabbed Dash’s arm, pulling him away, “c’mon Dash, let’s go before all three of them decide to come over here.”
“R-right that’s a good idea,” Dashiell stuttered, allowing Gage to drag him off into the more crowded section of the Avalodge.’W-we need to find Ciela and Orianna, a-and keep them close,’
the Machoke again swallowed nervously, muttering to Gage to sniff out the two girls. Lucian had always told him it was better to be safe than sorry, and Dashiell was eager to have the two girls close to him and Gage, especially since Lucian and Alistair would be busy at the bar, helping the Ambassador serve drinks.