A Softer Place

Lira was born on a planet called Volcan IX, a harsh world, of magma and roiling lava. Rock turned to lava, then geysers of superheated water would wash over and return it to stone. Everything was always moving, always changing on Volcan IX. Lira was a pokemon, and a fire pokemon at that, so the environment was tolerable for her at least, but the steam was still dangerous, and the other larger pokemon were always to be feared. At all times Lira had to be alert for Charizard or Magmar, two of the most fierce and dangerous pokemon on the planet. While she had many siblings, she was never very close to any of them, for you never knew when they might get eaten, or killed by geysers, or disappeared by the strange black ships and their strange suited passengers. Early in her life, Lira’s twin, her brother who had hatched at the same time as her was snatched away by a swooping Charizard. Lira could never again bring herself to care for any of her other siblings.

Lira did what she could, mostly focusing on survival over all other concerns. She was a hearty pokemon, given to surviving what would destroy others. While others tried to win through superior power, Lira did her best to survive, to endure. It kept her alive, still moving when others might have been destroyed. Day to day, Lira ate, she hid, she trained, and she slept. There was nothing else for her, the will to live being her only driving force. Into this world stepped Kevin.

When Lira first met Kevin, she did not know his name. Nor did she know what a human was or really anything about them. She had known of the black ships that took pokemon away, but they were rare, a thing of legends and stories. When she was creeping across a lava pond and suddenly one of those same black ships crashed into the stone ground on the other side, she was stunned. She did not know how to react. She tried to hide, to avoid being seen, but out of the ship came several strange shapes, like yellow blobs with one great black eye and four limbs. One of the blobs pointed her way, and she knew she had been seen. She prepared herself, thinking that they would attack. Instead, they fired a strange cannon at her, and the thing that struck her didn’t even sting. A moment later however, everything changed. Her body, that which she had forged into a living wall seemed to vanish, transforming into red light. The world too disappeared, everything being consumed by this blue and white sphere that had stuck her. She was pulled inside, her shape reforming in a strange void. She tried to escape, ramming her body this way and that, but the void absorbed this force, and everything was too strange. She imagined that this was like what her brother had experienced, consumed by a Charizard. She accepted it, giving up. It was too hard to do otherwise. A crack of light, one that led to the outside world closed, and their was darkness in the void. Lira cried, and then she slept.

When Lira awoke, she was no longer in the void. She was in a place unlike anything she had every experienced, a soft place. Their was soft food in front of her, soft cushions upon which to sit or lay, even the floor itself had a bit of give to it. She still appeared to be trapped, but the place was nice, kind in a way that Lira had never experienced. She ate the food, and rested on the cushions, and moved across the ground. For the first time in her life, Lira relaxed, if only for a moment. Into this place of peace and tranquility stepped Kevin.

It was hard at first, trusting Kevin. He came in, a big guy, a human, which was something that Lira had never seen, only heard of as the enemy. When first he came, Lira attacked, burning him. He left. Then he came back and she hit him with some rocks. He was injured, bleeding, but he did not retreat this time. Neither did he attack however. He stood there, arms out wide, a look of serenity on his face. His face was bleeding from the rock attack. Lira shot some fire, and he grimaced, but he did not run, and he did not break his kind smile. Lira stopped attacking, and Kevin gave her some food. He put it down in front of her, then sat down against the wall, and just watched her as she ate it. She eyed him cautiously, but day after day Kevin was always kind, always there for her, giving her food, never attacking, never showing fear.

After some time she allowed Kevin to approach her, and the young man petted her bumpy head. It felt nice. His had was burned and red when he drew it away, but it didn’t keep him from breaking into a big smile, happy that Lira had trusted him enough to let him get this close.

Now it was not in this single moment that Lira began to love and respect Kevin. It was a slow process, with a hundred little moments just like that. Kevin started taking her out, showing her around. He would show off his new uniforms to her, teach her about his organization. Eventually he even showed her the pokeball he had used to capture her, teaching her not to fear the void, but always careful to stress that they were comrades now, and that he would never force her inside unless it was truly important. She was going to be his friend and help him fight evil, help bring the food and the soft places and the quite orderliness of this place she had come to call home to the cosmos.

Perhaps there would have to be violence at first, just like her capture on Volcan IX, but in the end it had been for the best. She and Kevin would be instruments of that violence, violence for the purposes of peace, forcing people and pokemon who did not know better to fall in line and become part of the imperium that they might be thus improved. There was never a moment where Lira decided this was her dream, but as time passed and she and Kevin became closer, she adopted it, coming to see the beauty and power of this place that Kevin worked for.

After a long time of working and training again, Lira was asked if she wanted to commit to this life, to be a member of the Imperium and help Kevin and his comrades as an official soldier. Thinking of all that Kevin had done from her, thinking of the horrible place she had managed to leave, all thanks to Kevin, she accepted. She would be his shield, a knight that would lead the people to peace and safety, even if she had to drag them a bit.

On their first mission together they attacked a mixed world of pokemon and humans. The battles were intense and quick, Kevin in the thick of things. They were in the first wave of attackers and many around them began to fall before the defenders electric attacks and strange weapons of light. It was in this carnage that Lira evolved, adding a rocky exterior to her fiery exterior, becoming even more a defender of justice. She and Kevin made it through, and as they left the planet, all of the pokemon and humans defeated being led away to the holding cells, she thought about all the good she had done. She saw the same fear and resignation in the defeated as she herself had had, but she knew what there future held, she knew of the soft places that these prisoners would be taken to. She was proud. After this mission, she and Kevin were promoted. Their defensive abilities had been recognized on the battlefield, so they were assigned to be guards, defending the criminals and miscreants of a great new battleship on another mission of liberation.

It was certainly less exciting on guard duty, but Lira was happy all the same. She listened to the reports stream in of them successfully overpowering the enemies only real space vessel, sending down waves of landing pods. Suddenly however, something crazy happened. There was a strange message telling everyone to head to an escape pod, something that Kevin considered, but ultimately rejected due to his duty. Then a bit later it was discovered that that had been enemy propaganda, that some suicidal hostiles had decided to attack the capitol ship itself, apparently in miniscule numbers. Somehow they were enough of a threat that the whole ship was on high alert however. Lira imagined how terrifyingly powerful these foes must be if just a handful was keeping the whole ship on alert. She imagined Charizards, and other terrifying pokemon she had seen later in her life, like Salamence or Tyranitar. The folks on the other half of the ship must be dealing with true titans.

Interrupting this reverie another alarm sounded. There were attackers close by. Either the intruders had managed to traverse the whole ship unnoticed, which seemed unlikely, or their were multiple groups. Perhaps there was a whole bunch of little ships filled with terrifying trainers and pokemon. She imagined them destroying the soft room, returning the ship to magma and steam, a state of chaos. A fierce anger built in Lira, and she almost hoped she would get a chance to do battle with these bringers of chaos. She got her wish.

She had been resting in her pokeball, Kevin on duty, doing some kinda work on his terminal, when suddenly she was in the thick of things. She saw a fiery burning creature striking at Kevin. There too was a twisted creature that seemed half human and half machine. Seeing the wounds inflicted on her trainer, the rage built within her, and she began hurling rocks at the fiery creature. It was a frantic battle. Kevin fell under the blows and burns of the enemy. The enemy called in reinforcements. Another human, this one not machine, but seeming to tall and thin to be normal appeared, as well as a great bat. In addition a ghost of purple came along as well.

All of them together battled Lira, and Lira held. Attack after attack was launched, but again and again the damage was avoided or the attack dodged. The bat launched noises that confused her, distorting reality. In this state the fire creature struck again and again, and the ghost seemed to be doing something truly terrifying, something that cut through all of her well honed defenses. Through it all Lira endured. She struck again and again, hurling stone after stone from within her body out at her attackers, but they too seemed never to fall. The cyborg creature was doing something with Kevin. It was moving him around, lying against his body and manipulating his limbs. It was trying to use the pokeball, the symbol of Lira and Kevin’s bond against her, trying to prevent her from protecting Kevin. Even in all the confusion, even as she struck herself, and could not tell up from down, she resisted. For Kevin she would survive. She had more than herself to live for. She would not fall. Suddenly the ghost was there. Its eyes were huge. She could feel herself drifting to sleep. She tried to resist, tried to fight the feeling of slumber. She couldn’t. Her eyes closed. She had failed Kevin. He was going to be eaten, just like her brother.

In her dreams she saw the Charizard coming for Kevin. She saw it extend its claws, reaching out for him. This time however, she would not let it happen. She opened her eyes. She awoke. She felt Kevin around her. She saw he was OK. She saw the enemy down the corridor, along with another bizzare twisted sort of human thing meeting up with them. She had held the door, she had kept up the guard, and Kevin lived. She charged the fleeing foes. Alive, filled with joy of Kevin’s life, she charged.



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