The undead are upon us. The air fills with the sound of screeching Bidoof, blood red fangs gleaming in the moonlight. They come in a massive swarm, hundreds of rodent Pokémon bolting out of the forest. The ruined town lies before them, passive to the well-being of its former children. Their fur is suitably matted and coated in blood, organs poking out from torn flesh.
Scout and Leo flank me on either side, prepared for the worst. The bright stars above bathe them in cool, weak light. Scout unleashes an incredible stream of white-hot flames, creating a thick line between us and the undead. The horde surges onward through the flames, leaving those that perish behind. The fastest one leaps toward Leo, aiming for his face. He drives his weapon deep into its skull, tossing the body callously to the flames. A bright light pours from his waist, and a great burst of water sends the next few Bidoof flying backward into the oncoming drove.
I brandish my crowbar, feeling sweat gather on my neck as the flames and assailants converge on us. I slash five or so out of the air as they jump for me, getting one caught on the end of my weapon. It screams at me, trying to use its decaying front legs to climb towards me. I slam it to the ground with enough force to split open its skull, then swing the body back into the air to take out another as it jumps for me. Both land in the fire several feet away.
I feel Scout's body against my leg, and look down to see that she's allowed a large crowd to gather before her. She crouches down, one arm straight back behind her with the other pressed firmly to the ground. Generating a great flame around her arm, she brings it forward so that it doesn't quite touch the rubble below. Her strong legs suddenly propel her into her own flames, blazing through our enemies and sending Bidoof flying through the air. She breathes heavily, her face hidden from my view
Something flashes before my eyes, and I whip around to slam my crowbar into a crowd of ravenous Bidoof. Something latches onto my leg, and I press my other foot so hard against it that blood and gore splatter against my pants. I start to slam my crowbar down into the ones on the ground, destroying the skulls as fast as I can. Their screams of pain and insanity drown out anything else, driving me to keep fighting them. To kill the sound.
Another foolishly aims for my face, and I impale it on my weapon. I stare into its glowing amber eyes, surprisingly alive for something so horrible. I push forward harder, blinking hard as blood spatters across my face. It coughs a few times, blood spilling out of its mouth and onto my jacket. Its fur is lighter than that of the others, its flesh relatively intact.
A terrible scream rips through my brain, and I drop the crowbar to the ground. It remains implanted deep in the Bidoof's neck, making a loud clang against some metal remnant of my house. Scout is covered in the horrible creatures, their yellow fangs digging deep into her body, relishing in the taste of healthy skin. She screams again, her eyes wet with tears and wide with pain. Blood spurts out of her mouth, the swarm burying her beneath it.
I try pulling the starving beasts off of her, blood and grime burying itself beneath my nails. More keep coming, ripping my beloved partner's body to shreds. They begin to turn their attention on me, but I pay them no mind. Scout is the only thing that matters, and I have to save her. By now her screams have stopped, and sharp fangs are biting into my arms and legs. Pain overcomes me, but I can't stop trying to save Scout. My hands are useless; trembling and numb in the cold and the pain. They are just pieces of meat, serving no purpose but that of bringing my partner back.
The demons begin pulling me back, away from Scout and from the last thing I've ever cared about. I cry out into the frenzied night, my voice drowned out by the cacophonic chorus of the swarm. I reach pathetically to my left, grasping my crowbar faintly. It is too heavy for me to pull, and in my last moments of consciousness I see the last thing I managed to kill.
Leo's empty amber eyes stare back at me, blood dripping from his mouth as the Bidoof tear into his body. They pull the organs from his stomach, their maws drenched in blood. His body shakes a bit from their rabid movement.
Something echoes in my head, a strange voice that speaks in a language I've never heard, but one I understand completely.
Everything happens for a reason, Jay.
I wake with sweat plastered to my forehead, my heart pounding against the walls of my chest. I sit up, panting and trying to shake the last vestiges of the nightmare from my mind. The air is incredibly cold, but my entire body feels feverishly hot. I rub my face furiously with my hands, willing the images to go away.
"Everything okay?" I move my hands from my face, and blink into the dark, moonless night. Leo sits about a meter away from me, the flame of Scout's tail reflecting the concern in his eyes. My mind flashes back to his pallid face lying in the debris, blood dripping from his mouth as life abandons his body. "You look really sweaty…"
"Yeah, I-I'm fine. Just a nightmare," I manage to stammer out, my mouth full of cotton. It's over. None of that was real. The past day was the first I spent out on the road in a long time; it's only natural that I should have some sort of reaction. I lay back and press the palms of my hands into my eyes, pushing down so hard that it starts to hurt. Scout lies beside me, her body heat doing nothing to cool me down. I spread my arms out high above my head, staring up at the stars. Something hard and a little sharp pokes at my arms through my jacket, and I groan loudly.
I can't fall asleep, not in this state. I toss my blanket over Scout and stand up on the uneven ground. My legs nearly give way beneath me, but after a few moments of pitiful staggering I get my footing. Carefully watching the mountain of crap determined to make me fall on my face, I walk over to Leo and stand beside him. He looks up at me, one dark blonde eyebrow raised, but doesn't say anything.
We're like this for a long time. The forest on the other side of our ruined town is silent, filled with horrible creatures waiting in the dark without food or reason. The moment we hear a breath too loud, a rustle too unnatural to be the wind, we must wake up and fight. This strategy followed us for almost six months during the first outbreak, when we foolishly chose to fight our way back to Twinleaf.
We only got as far as Sandgem, where the Professor was kind enough to take us in. Without him we surely would have died a long time ago. Our journey made us weak, stripped us of all but our first Pokémon. Scout was suffering from a very high fever, and the Professor brought her back to perfect health. I feel a bit of guilt at leaving without really telling him, and make a mental note to apologize if we ever get back.
Suddenly cold, I sit down next to Leo and huddle with him for warmth. He accepts my presence, but doesn't share his blanket with me. I wasn't really expecting him to; I wouldn't if I were in his position.
"What happened earlier today?" He asks abruptly, making me jump. "I mean, I know we fought all those Starly and you caught a Pokémon and yay for you and everything, but…how did you know you needed to, uh, get rid of that kid?"
He doesn't need to speak so carefully, but I don't bother him about it. "She said she couldn't remember anything and that she felt really hot. As far as I know, and I admit I'm no expert, those are sort of big red flags."
Leo shakes his head ever so slightly, biting his lip. "Yeah, but…she might've just been injured, or sick, or something. I guess, I mean, I don't really know what I'm saying." He put his face in his hands, dragging them backward towards his ears to wipe off filth and exhaustion.
"I figured." I answer quietly, not wanting to stay on the subject any longer. He's trying to make me question what I did, but I refuse to. I can't afford to worry about little things all the time. If I don't keep my focus on the here and now, I will get myself killed.
We don't say anything for the rest of our shift, and after two or so hours Leo wakes up Prinplup and climbs back to his mat. I lie down too, but don't expect to fall asleep. Instead I just wait for the sun to tug itself over the horizon, trying my hardest not to think about anything.