Pokémon PI (Part 2 of 5)

This is a fanfiction. Pokémon is the intellectual property of Gamefreak. I am simply writing an original story in their world.

This fanfiction is rated PG-13 for mild language, frightening imagery, and scenes of violence.

A gust of cold wind blows past me, my trench coat billowing open while my hat threatens to fly away. I stop my hat with my right hand while closing my coat with my left, the chill air causing my teeth to chatter. Snowbelle City is one of the coldest parts of the country, and I’ve got no love for the cold. Beside me, Ebony seems content, her dark fur keeping her warm even in these conditions. She’s a mystery to me sometimes – she never seems hot or cold, no matter the temperature outside. I’ve never figured out if this is common for umbreon or if Ebony is just unique.

I’ve knocked at the door twice now with no answer, and I’m beginning to wonder if the client forgot I was coming today. A few people walk by while I wait, everyone wrapped up in heavy coats while fluffy hats or earmuffs conceal most of their heads. Cold weather is cold in more ways than one – it isolates people, forces them to put up walls and defenses that make everybody seem distant.

I’m snapped out of my thoughts when the door finally opens. My client stands in the doorway not at all dressed for the cold. Instead she’s wearing a dress; not a cocktail dress by any means, but I can tell with one glance that this is her all dressed up. She’s got some makeup on – applied a bit too thickly – and her hair is down and wavy. She’s likely no older than forty, but her desperate get-up and worn features make her appear aged beyond her years. The look on her face tells me that I wasn’t who she was expecting.

“Am I interrupting something?” I ask.

“Of course not!” she says, clearly flustered. She motions for me to come inside. I step in through the door and immediately start taking in details. The house is clean and well-decorated. but the broom and mop propped up in a corner tell me that this happened only recently. There are cookies baking in the oven and the smell wafts over the whole house.

“Are you selling the place?”

“No,” she answers. “It’s just that I’m expecting someone to come by-”

“Clearly a male someone,” I point out. “Unless you think I’m your type. And trust me, ma’am, you’d be wrong.”

“No, no, not at all,” she says. “We’re getting sidetracked. I haven’t even properly introduced myself. My name is Cora.”

She extends her hand to me, and I grasp it. Her handshake is tight for an instant, and then falls away immediately.

“Amber Milliarde,” I introduce. “I prefer Milli.”

“Well Milli,” Cora says. “When the other detective arrives I’ll tell you what I know.”

My eyes are wide behind my glasses. This other detective is who she’s trying to impress. It can’t be who I think it is.

There’s a knock at the door. Cora rushes over, then calms herself and straightens out her dress. She doesn’t want to seem desperate or rushed, though both of those things would be understandable after her daughter’s disappearance. She’d been gone for days – the fact that she’s worrying about making a good appearance for any man tells me something about where her priorities lie.

She opens the door and the other detective walks in. He’s wearing a black leather jacket over his clothes, an old police uniform tailored to resemble more casual attire. His hair is styled, and I can smell the product over the scent of cookies. When he takes off his jacket and hands it to Cora, he gives her a handsome smile and thanks her with a strategically-placed hand on the small of her back. Cora blushes, he smiles again, and my insides turn as I try not to gag.

Outside, his pangoro guards the door, too large to come inside. At nearly seven feet tall with three hundred pounds of muscle, this bear Pokémon could rarely fit anywhere. It’s chest is covered in white fur while it’s arms, legs, and back sport black fur. Some of his fur hangs down like the tails of a coat, and the fur around his neck is raised like a collar. He leans back by the front door and casually chews on a strand of straw, content to watch outside.

Cora tries to make introductions. “Detective Milli, this is-”

He interrupts with a flourish to make a point of introducing himself to Cora, taking her hand and kissing it rather than exchanging a handshake.

“Good to meet you, miss. My name is Detective Ugg Lee. But you can just call me Lee.” Cora blushes and acts coy. It takes her a couple of moments to realize that I am present, at which point she coughs and quickly walks over to me.

“Detective Lee, this is-” I too choose to interrupt her. This charade is ridiculous.

“We know each other,” I explain. “Lee and I work in the same field, so we often end up working the same cases.”

“To my delight,” he offers.

“And my dismay.”

The awkward silence is not broken until the oven beeps, indicating that the cookies are done. Cora rushes to the oven to take out the cookies. Meanwhile, there are more footsteps upstairs.

“Is there someone else in the house?” I ask.

“My oldest daughter, Branwen,” Cora answers. “She and Narcissa share a room.”

“Branwen and Narcissa,” Lee says, testing the names on his tongue. “What lovely names. Very much apart from our modern age. You call the youngest one Sissi, is that right?”

“Yes,” Cora says, and her composure breaks momentarily. She places the pan of cookies aside to cool and her breathing begins to shorten. Before the tears begin to flow, Lee steps over to her and sits her down at the kitchen table. He pulls a chair next to hers and wraps one arm around her shoulder, grasping her hand with the other. His gestures suggest a familiarity I know they do not have, but Cora is either too grief-stricken or too enchanted with Lee to mind.

“Ma’am, I think this would be a good time to tell us what you know,” I tell her. “Please start from the prediction you told me about over the Holocaster.”

Cora nods. “There’s a psychic here in the city. Or at least he calls himself a psychic. I’ve never really believed in that sort of thing, and to me he always just seemed crazy. But about five days ago now, I was on my way home and he encountered me on the street. Sissi was with me. He bent down right in front of her and said that she was going to go missing. That I was going to lose her forever. I chased him off, and I didn’t think anything of it after that.”

“Until your daughter really went missing,” Lee finished.

“You mentioned that Branwen and Narcissa share a room,” I recall. “Has your oldest daughter said anything about the night that Narcissa disappeared?”

Cora shakes her head. “Branwen was out with friends that night. She doesn’t know anything.”

Lee removes his arm from Cora’s shoulders and takes both of her hands. “I know this may seem like a callous question, but it’s important to our investigation. Do you or your daughters have any enemies? People you know who might want to hurt your family by taking Sissi away?”

“No, nobody like that,” Cora answers. “Sissi is a sweet girl. Branwen’s a bit dark but she’s got nothing but friends at school. That’s a style all its own these days. As for me, between work and taking care of these two girls by myself I don’t have time to make enemies.”

“I hate to ask,” Lee begins, “but where is the father during all this?”

A tear escapes Cora’s eye, and she quickly wipes it away. “I’m a widow. My husband died a few years ago. He was in Geosenge Town during the Team Flare debacle. An innocent bystander and they-”

“It’s alright, ma’am, we don’t need to know any more about that,” I say. “One last question. Is there any chance that Sissi just ran away? That there’s no kidnapping involved in this case?”

“Sissi would never run!” Cora exclaims, offended. “She’s a sweet little girl who knows it would ruin me for either of my children to go missing. Besides, how is a five year old girl going to jump out of a second story window? She’s got nothing to help her climb down, nothing to break her fall. And I was awake in the living room before she disappeared, so there’s no way she walked out the front door.”

“You were awake and you didn’t hear anything?” I ask.

“Sadly, no,” she says. “I was watching the new Diantha movie, The Aquarium. I don’t go to the theater often, and it finally aired on television for the first time that night.”

“Well,” says Lee, “I think I would like to investigate around the house. Maybe take a look at the girl’s room and then see what I can see outside.”

“I’ll pursue the psychic lead,” I offer. I look to Cora. “Do you know where he lives, or hangs around?”

“He lives in an abandoned house on the edge of the Winding Woods,” Cora says. “You can’t miss it.”

I stand up and head for the door, Ebony on my heels. I turn to look at Lee. “Call me if you get a lead. If we’re working together on this, we need to keep each other informed.”

Lee smiles, and I know he has no intention of sharing any findings with me. As always, this investigation will be a competition. I walk out the door, Lee’s pangoro nodding to acknowledge me. He growls at Ebony, who simply turns up her head and walks by without even looking at the much larger Pokémon.

“Keep your eyes open, Slim,” I say. “Lee’s gonna get himself in trouble with that widow.” Slim just keeps chewing on his straw.

Cora did not exaggerate when she said I couldn’t miss the house. The place is a wreck, sections of roof collapsing in while outside there are holes in the brick wall. The house is actually quite large, and if fixed up could be one of the nicest places in the city. Looking around, I can see that there are no other buildings around here. Proximity to the woods might be what left this place abandoned.

There is no front door, so I step inside. Broken furniture everywhere. The place smells like a pungent blend of piss and garbage. There are scraps of half-finished food all over the place, and scorch marks on the floor. The psychic has been cooking with open flames, by the look of it. No electricity for the oven. Only the gaps in the roof provide light, sunlight filtering through the broken beams in a staggered pattern that leaves much of the house to the imagination. Shadows are everywhere. Beside me, Ebony is alert, ready to come to my aid should anything here prove dangerous.

Something begins moving up my leg. Three gentle touches running from my ankle up towards my calf. I turn about quickly and stomp down, my boot crushing a hand. Ebony turns with me, growling threateningly at a man lying on the ground.

He’s thin and wiry, clothed in rags that are clearly the source of the piss smell in the house. Unkempt hair, some segments missing as if he’d torn them out with his hands. The raw scalp confirms it. He looks up at me and I get a better look at his face. Teeth missing, his cheeks covered in pimples he’d scratched up into scabs. His eyes unnerve me – they are crazed, darting about every which way, but I can see intelligence behind them. The man is taking in everything, every detail. Not to be underestimated.

“I just wanted to touch you,” he says, and I realize that he didn’t cry out when I stomped his hand. “I don’t get to touch many people. Too grumpy.”

“You touch a little girl named Narcissa recently? She’s missing from her home and you look like the kind of scumbag who’d take her away from her family.”

“Oh, I know the girl you mean,” he says. The psychic spits on the ground and puts a finger in it, beginning to draw something in the saliva. “I told her mommy that she’d be disappearing soon. I sensed it.”

“Right, because you’re psychic,” I say. I bend down to his level and meet his crazed eyes. “Prove it.”

He stares through my glasses for a few moments, my eyes obscured by those dark shields. I wait for the familiar sensation, the creeping and crawling feeling that comes with psychic intrusions. Instead the man’s hand lashes out and grabs the back of my head. I’m caught off guard and he pulls me close. His tongue leaves his mouth and he licks my face, the rough bumps leaving a trail of slime on my cheek and ear. Ebony quickly smacks him over the head, using her body to push him a few feet away from me. I take a handkerchief out of my coat and wipe the saliva away.

“That was not smart,” I warn him.

“I wanted to taste you, get a sense of who you are,” he says. His seriousness disturbs me. “You’re young, but not fresh. Seen a lot of things, you have. The aftertaste…there’s no place in Kalos that hasn’t caressed your face.”

His knowledge perturbs me, and I take a moment to push my glasses up, making sure they’re covering my eyes. But I know the tricks of the trade, and I decide to show him as much.

“Cora’s been pretty vocal about hiring me, hasn’t she? You did your research before I showed up. The whole thing with touching my leg and licking my face, all that’s just showmanship to throw me off balance. For a second I thought you might be a real psychic, but now I’m not so sure.”

He’s angry at me now, and I begin to feel the crawling sensation along the back of my head. The man’s eyes open wide and he seems to focus more, to try harder. I smile at him.

“So what do you see?”

He scrambles backward and curls up in a corner. There’s an empty bottle lying beside him and he throws it at me. Ebony leaps up and catches it out of the air, swatting it aside to shatter harmlessly on the wall a few feet away.

“What are you?” he asks. “Why can’t I see you?”

The minute I entered this field, I knew I’d need a leg up over the myriad of mind readers that work on the fringe of paranormal investigation. I decided to look at typings for the answer. All Pokémon – and to a lesser degree, all people – have one or two types that they are associated with. Types are the base elements of the universe, the bricks and mortar that link everything together. Psychics are aligned with the psychic type, the power of the mind. In the Pokémon world, psychic is a powerful type with few natural enemies. Even those things which are commonly known to be checks to psychic – bug and ghost types, specifically – don’t actually have any protection against the probing of a psychic mind. However, there is one type that has complete protection against intrusion.

Psychic depends on knowledge. Knowing the enemy, being able to see how they think. If a psychic can’t see, in the metaphorical sense, he or she is powerless. That’s how dark type resists them. Mysterious, hidden, shrouded in figurative darkness, those aligned with the dark type can’t be read like an open book. They can’t be read at all, and that renders psychic completely useless against them. If I wanted to face psychic enemies, I’d need the power of the dark on my side.

It took some searching, but I eventually found a pair of blackglasses, a powerful item normally given to Pokémon that empowers the darkness within them. As long as I wear them, my mind is concealed.

“Why can’t I see you?” the psychic asks again.

“You’ll see only what I want you to see,” I answer. I get down to his level again, grabbing him by the collar of his dirty shirt. I shove him against the wall to show I’m not playing games anymore.

“What did you do with the girl?”

He’s screaming now. My immunity to his power has thrown him off-balance. “I swear I didn’t take her! I just sensed that she would be gone. The eyes told me, the violet eyes.”

He’s ranting now. This has gone beyond his frustration with me – something far more sinister is causing the words to explode from his mouth. “They see everything, they know all things that have happened and will happen. The mind behind them is powerful and great, it warps reality and bends time, a psychic maelstrom of pure power and knowledge and it TELLS ME THINGS. It tells me that the girl is in the Winding Woods, woods bent and broken by the power behind the eyes.”

He’s losing it. Tears flow down his face and his hands are wringing unconsciously, incessantly.

“Stay with me,” I say. “Where in the Winding Woods? Whose eyes are looking at you?”

He screams and starts banging his head against the wall. I try to pull him back but now he’s filled with the strength of fear, and he pulls away from me. He scrambles past me, shoving Ebony to the side as he runs for the shattered bottle he had thrown before. The psychic lifts a shard of glass and raises it up towards the ceiling.

“I must become part of the whole,” he says. “My mind must join the maelstrom.”

I turn away as he slices his throat with the glass. I hear the sickening sound of flesh parting. He gurgles as blood floods his throat, and I can hear the crimson liquid running down onto the floor. The sound is followed quickly by a thud, and I know the psychic is dead.

Ebony walks over and nuzzles me. I can feel her shivering. She is as perturbed by this turn of events as I am. The scent of blood begins to mix with the odors of piss and garbage in the house, and I gag. It’s time for me to leave. I got more than I bargained for coming to investigate the psychic, but in the end I learned what I needed.

Narcissa is somewhere in the Winding Woods.

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