More Than a Pair
Meredith pushed one of her thick brown curls out of her solid black eyes as she read over one of the books the scientists had left in their sparsely decorated room. Her best friend and only companion, Regina, was sitting on the floor besides her with a heavy book on her lap. It was night, which was when they let down their guard of stupidity. The scientists had taught them the basics of English and reading, so that they could communicate with their wards, but other than that they kept the two in darkness. Regina had been the one that taught Meredith most of what she knew, using her psychic abilities to scan the minds of their guardians and learn what she needed from them, passing the information to Meredith. At first, Meredith was simply hit with the information all at once and had it imbedded into her mind, but as the basics became second nature—listing off the names of Pokémon and their natural progression and the basics of language, Regina simply taught her face to face without forcing the knowledge on her. Meredith was thankful for that—it was very uncomfortable to just suddenly know something all at once, which was how Regina received information.
It’d been ten years since their initial meeting that night in the darkened labs, and while they’d grown up physically and mentally, not much had changed in their appearance from when they had first been pulled from the tanks. Meredith had long brown curls that fell down her back, long ears that turned towards sound, a long fluffy tail she kept wrapped around her, short brown fur from head to tail with a ruff of white fur spilling over her chest, and wide round black eyes that danced over everything. Regina was much different than Meredith—her green skin was mottled with white spots, her arms and legs segmented at their joints. Her face was mostly human, but dominated by large yellow eyes with black pupils. Tiny red antennae stuck out of her thick and short messy green hair, and her fingers were tipped with tiny yellow tips that had a tendency to stick to things. A small yellow tail stuck out from under her skirt. The scientists hadn’t offered them clothes until they were almost five years old, and now it was just enough to keep them covered—they were barefoot all the time.
“Hmm. Very interesting.” Regina very rarely spoke aloud, only when the scientists either prodded her to or when she was alone with Meredith. The rest of the time, she spoke in telepathy. Her voice wasn’t smooth like Meredith’s—it sort of grated on ears. Meredith was grateful for the fact most of the time she spoke psychically.
“What is it?” Meredith set her book down and scrambled to look over Regina’s shoulder. Regina had the pages open to two pictures—a Caterpie, like she was, and a large green cocoon-shaped Pokémon that Meredith recognized as a Metapod. “Isn’t that the next stage of a Caterpie?” she said, leaning over to point at the pages.
“Yes, it is. And I’ve been feeling the call to evolve for about a month now. Notice how I’ve been very sluggish and curling up into a ball when I sleep? That’s one of the signs that a Caterpie wants to evolve.”
“So when will you?”
“I can decide when to, and I’m thinking I’ll do it tonight.”
“Tonight! Won’t the scientists won’t to see this?”
“Of course they will! But Caterpie go into Metapod stage while nude. I can’t do it while someone’s looking, that would be too embarrassing. The cameras will catch it, they can look at the tape in the morning.”
“Oh. That makes sense. But you won’t be able to talk to me after you go into that stage, will you?”
“Not except for telepathically, and I won’t be able to hear you except faintly. It’s like a month long sleep. I’m thinking it shouldn’t take longer than that—Metapod become Butterfree within about five days, sometimes sooner. I’m significantly larger than a Caterpie and much more human, but the change should be near the same.”
“I’ve always wondered. Why do you have such strong telepathic powers? From what I’ve read, Caterpie have no psychic powers. I know that Butterfree have psychic powers, but they can’t do what you do.”
“I don’t know. It may be a side effect of the hybridization—that I have the powers from conception.” Regina pulled off her dress and dropped it to the floor. “Will you be okay, alone for a month?”
“I guess so,” Meredith said, not sure if she really would be.
“Might as well get this over with then. See you in a month.”
Regina crossed her arms across her chest, setting her hands on her shoulders and crossing her legs at the ankles. She dropped her head to her chest as a fine film emerged from the suction pads on her fingers, sliding over her body and hardening into a thin shell, making her now half closed eyes look glazed. Slowly layers came over the first layer, encasing Regina in about eight inches of shell. The shell took on a greenish tint as it got thicker, obscuring Regina’s body totally. It took about twenty minutes before the shell became thick and fully hardened. Meredith saw Gina’s now shell-encased body start to tilt, and she scrambled to catch her and lower her slowly to the ground.
“Can you hear me?” she asked, tapping gently on the case. There was no reply from Regina. Meredith ran her hand over the casing, noting it was smooth under her touch. She could kind of make out some of Gina’s features under the shell, especially her half closed black eyes, but they were rapidly blurring as the shell darkened. Within an hour, she couldn’t see Gina at all.
She sighed heavily. Not even an hour and she was already lonely. She curled up besides Gina’s cocoon and fell into a deep sleep, the memories of her time in the tubes years ago reminding her that sleep was the best way to make time speed up.
The night scientist looked at the tapes that had been recorded over the past three weeks. All the scientists had been excited to know that their hybrids could naturally evolve without any prodding. There was considerable chagrin that none of them had been there to see it first hand, but the tapes were very accurate. The tape had been analyzed and re-analyzed until there was nothing more to be pulled from it. But now there was nothing going on in Room Fifty-seven. The Eevee spent most of her days asleep and the now-Metapod was in a deep stasis, and responded to nothing the scientists did.
He looked at the other tapes, where two other Anthromon were asleep on their cots. The head scientist had said that the Eevee would atrophy without stimulation from fellow Anthromon, and so he had proposed to merge the two rooms so that the Eevee would get to know her future teammates. But not when they were awake. He picked up the walkie-talkie by his left arm. “Observation to Team Twenty-four. Over.”
“Team Twenty-four. What is it? Over.”
“Take Vulpix Hybrid 65-38K and Pichu Hybrid 16-56X from Room Eighty-eight to Room Fifty-seven while they’re asleep. The head scientist wants them merged so they’ll get used to thinking of themselves as a team.”
“Roger, Observation. Over.”
Meredith yawned, stretching her arms above her head. She’d been asleep all night, since there was no one else to talk to here in her room. Gina had been encased for a little over three weeks, and bar the scientists coming in and prodding at her once in a while to check on her health, and making notes on Gina, nothing much had happened. She opened her eyes to take in the boring, starkness of her room.
And screamed at the top of her lungs when she saw two smaller forms curled up in one of the corners. Her screams didn’t shift Gina at all—who obviously was deaf to everything while in her cocoon—but it woke up the two in the corner with a shock and they both scrambled to their feet, staring at her with wide scared eyes.
The male was covered in yellow fur, his eyes black and solid but still very expressive. Large diamond like ears trimmed with black stood up from a mop of brown hair, and little red circles decorated his cheeks. He didn’t look to be much older than she was. A little, angled black tail stuck out from the back of his shorts, and hanging around his neck and standing out from the blandness of his black and grey clothes was a small, sun shaped badge. She immediately recognized him as a Pichu.
The female was dressed in the same kind of outfit she had on—a short dress that just kept her covered for modesty. Her eyes were almond shaped and a deep, reflective dark brown, standing out against the orange-brown that was her fur color. Her hair was in thick but tightly formed curls—three curls fell over her face with a mess of brown bangs under them that fell over her eyes and near her muzzle, and the rest was hastily tied back with a bow, long and straight until it reached her lower back where it split into six curls that tucked under like her bangs. She looked as if she was wearing mittens on her hands and socks on her feet, as they were a darker shade than her fur, and her ears were very fox-like. The most striking feature were the six tails that were currently wrapped around her legs, slightly shaking with fear. Meredith knew by the tails she was a Vulpix.
“Who are you?” she said softly, looking at the two shaking figures.
The Pichu looked at Meredith, a soft whimper coming out. “M-my name’s Roberto. And this is Augusta.” He made a small motion to the whimpering Vulpix, who looked younger than both of them.
“Were you named?” Meredith asked, curious. She’d had to select her own name, and it’d taken the scientists a while to get used to calling her by it once she’d learned to communicate to them what she’d named herself.
Roberto nodded. “One of the scientists on the project got tired of calling us Vulpix Hybrid 65-38K and Pichu Hybrid 16-56X, so she named us after her brother and sister.”
The Vulpix spoke up. Her voice was soft and gentle. “W-what’s the green thing in the corner?” She pointed at Regina’s cocoon.
“That’s Regina. She’s a Caterpie. Well, she was a Caterpie. Now she’s in Metapod Stage. It should take another week or so for her to become a Butterfree.”
“Butterfree?” Augusta tilted her head, looking confused. “What’s that?”
Meredith reached for the book on the table that Regina had left and started flipping through the pages. It was a children’s primer on Pokémon, and Meredith was very grateful that it wasn’t one of the very complicated volumes that Regina normally used. “I’ll show you what I’m talking about.”
The lone scientist in the Observation Room grinned and started writing notes in the folders spread in front of her. This was going to make the boss very happy.
By the end of the week, Augusta had learned to read a little, and Roberto was catching up quickly to Meredith’s level. Meredith had drilled them mostly on Pokémon—the only reason they’d known what they were was because they’d been called by their hybrid names. Roberto was quite ecstatic to know that he’d evolve one day into a Pikachu. Augusta had taken quite the liking to Meredith, and spent much of her time with her, learning the names of Pokémon.
Augusta was sitting under Meredith, being read to from the more advanced volume, when a cracking sound filled the air. All three Anthromon turned to see the green cocoon—they’d placed it on one of the blankets—with a large crack running down one side.
“Regina!” Meredith squealed, dropping the book and scrambling over to where her best friend lay. There was no reply, but the shell cracked more, and she could see what looked like a dark blue hand under the surface.
“What’s going on?” Roberto asked, setting his books down and coming over.
“It’s Regina—I think her evolution is finally complete!” Meredith was quite glad that she’d heard the scientists say that when Regina emerged they would not interfere in the rebirth. There was a sound like scrambling, and a soft psychic voice invaded Meredith’s head—one she hadn’t heard in a while.
::Erg…this is very hard work….::
Meredith smiled, hearing Regina’s voice. Roberto and Augusta had much more violent reactions. Roberto leapt up, looking around for the source, and Augusta started crying hysterically in fright. “What’s talking to me?” Roberto screeched, as Augusta curled up and put her hands over her ears.
Meredith realized with a start that Regina had spoken to them as well—since she was used to only Meredith being in the room, she’d naturally projected to everyone there. “It’s Regina. She can…mind speak. I guess she didn’t realize that you and Augusta were here.”
Augusta whimpered again, but Roberto seemed to calm down some. He looked carefully at the green cocoon, which had split open. With a violent ripping sound, a blue hand thrust through a crack on one side, and a relieved sigh floated out. The hand—covered in sticky clear fluid—reached for the hole and started to push, ripping the casing further.
It’s like watching a person being born, Meredith thought as a gush of clear fluid stained the blanket under the cocoon. Another hand thrust out, and then, fighting its way through, Regina’s head emerged. Long navy curls were plastered wetly around Regina’s now blue face as large red eyes squinted at the lights. She kept kicking, fighting against the shell that held her, until she lay free of the now useless cocoon, panting on the blanket. She was nude, blue from head to toe, with purple antennae peeking out from her hair. Limp black and white structures lay on her back, twitching involuntarily before unfurling into large fragile looking wings.
Regina looked up at Meredith weakly, still breathing hard but looking with amusement at Roberto and Augusta. ::It appears we have company.:: She shivered a little. ::A Pichu and a Vulpix, yes?::
Meredith picked up one of the other blankets and lay it over Regina—both to keep her warm and so that she could have some modesty. “They’re named Roberto and Augusta.” Looking at Augusta and Roberto, who were both looking at Regina in shock, Meredith smiled softly. “Roberto, Augusta, I’d like you to meet Regina.”
Back to Foxtales