A breeze that felt like it came from a fan swished through the leaves of too-perfect trees. Sixteen Pokemon stood in a circle in the field of repeatedly-swaying flowers. Recognizable Fire-, Grass-, and Water-Types curled around a bizarre, pink and blue being that looked almost, but not quite, like a pony. It could have been the setting for the most epic Pokemon battle ever, with fifteen beloved creatures facing each other in a circle, and one unknown creature in the center of it all. They were not here to engage in combat however; instead, they were there to debate.
"[Heheheh,]" Kuro chuckled. "[Well, you have an interesting plan, Bronygon, but I'm afraid it won't work.]"
Hanzo turned his trident-decorated head her way. "[Oh?]"
"[Humans are the cruelest animals in the world,]" Kuro explained, curling her scaly paws beneath her body like a great, leathery cat. "[It won't matter what you do with the world. Unless you intend to completely remove the free will of humanity, you won't get your utopia.]"
The oddly-rendered pony turned to her more quickly than his blobby body should have allowed. "I don't intend to remove free will," he said, "Just modify it a little. Set the default to good, if you will."
"[Is that even possible?]" Jake the Wartortle asked. He had perched upon on Curt's back, and put a claw under his chin. "[I mean, well, you can manipulate reality, so with that being said-]"
"[You still shouldn't do it,]" Eric protested from Curt's feet. The tiny tortoise looked intently at the Pokemon-turned-pony with his yellow eyes when he said, "[Do you have any idea what repercussions manipulating even a single seed might have?]"
The response was immediate. "[Yes, actually. He did a lot of research and is willing to recode things if need be,]" Hanzo answered, folding his paddle-like wings over each other and nodding sagely.
"[Isn't that a lot like saying, 'we'll fix this next upgrade?']" the Wartortle asked. Ringo nodded his pointed, fiery head. Then, after a pause, he spoke something that had been on his mind for a while.
"[Yeah…why did they program Porygon-Z to look into alien dimensions, anyways?]" he wondered aloud. He bounded over to Porygon-Omega very much like a weasel. "[Did they ever tell you?]"
The pony looked still in thought. Its pupils dilated and contracted, like a parrot focusing in on a nut before crushing it with its strong, sturdy beak. After a while, the strange movement stopped, and Bronygon's eyes returned to being stationary rings of black and yellow circles.
"No," it said.
"[That is troublesome,]" Jake commented. "[I mean...there must have been some seriously evil intent behind that.]" He resumed his "thinker" pose on Curt's back, using his fluffy tail like a cushioned seat.
"[What if they intended to take over the world all along, and Bronygon's been dancing to their tune this entire time?!]" Draco exclaimed, flailing his clawed, scaly paws.
"[Back on topic,]" Cassandra reminded. "[We can't let Bronygon manipulate the fabric of our reality.]"
"[He kind of already did,]" Kuro pointed out. "[Not like anything we say's gonna stop him.]"
Nick objected with a fluffing of his plumage and a sudden turn towards the Venusaur. "[She means, most likely, that she doesn't want Bronygon taking anybody else away. Allowing people a way out of this world, even willingly, would lead to more cases like that.]"
Josh turned to her. "[Well, I have nowhere else to go. I've tried getting a job, but every place rejects me.]"
At this point, Eric trotted over to Samurott. "[It took me a while to get a job, too. Just keep trying,]" he advised. Bronygon responded immediately after.
"Yes. The world is set against you. Wouldn't it be much better if you got all your dreams instantly?" Bronygon asked.
Callista dropped down from one of the branches.Her suprisingly human eyes glared at Bronygon. "[No, not really. It's kinda fun to work for a dream...you just have to be willing to work for it,]" the monkey stated.
Josh the Samurott pointed his shell-decorated head down. "[Actually, she has a point. Maybe if I just tried a little harder, I could get a job. That's not the fault with whoever made the world; it's mine, and I need to fix it.]" A wave of muttering and nods followed him.
"[Yes, that's it!]" Dsarvess said. She pushed the Choice Specs up upon her pointed nose when she added, "[Just keep trying; that world's not as bad as you think it is.]"
"[It's just kinda boring,]" Matt the Grovyle said. He hung himself upside-down from a tree as he added, "[No offense, but can't we make the world more fun? Why aren't flying cars real, yet?]"
"I could make you a flying car," Bronygon said. "Such a thing is really quite plausible."
"[Really?!]" Matt responded. Cassandra, meanwhile, pointed her tiny Mudkip body at Bronygon like a cartoon hound.
"[Yes, and people are working on it. Someone has been looking at government files, and I think I know who,]" Cassandra accused. Andy the Charizard blanched, despite not having the slightest bit to do with this conversation aside from the debate.
"[Wasn't me!]" he said. The Mudkip turned to him, producing the awkward image of a blue, salamander-like creature looking up at a giant orange dragon.
"[You're fishy, too, but I was talking about Bronygon,]" the Mudkip countered.
"[Your choice of words is a little off, Cassandra,]" Eric the Turtwig observed. "[Either way, best stick to the topic at hand: do we accept a world in which we get all of our wishes-]" he tried to snap with all-but-absent fingers- "[like that, or is the world fine as it is?]"
Callista, with her flame-tipped tail supporting her entire body from the limbs of one of Bronygon's virtual trees, spoke up: "[Isn't there a middle ground, somewhere?]"
Nick the Blaziken nodded. "[Yes, there must be a way to satisfy everybody,]" he responded.
"[Yeah,]" Josh the Samurott agreed. "[What if Bronygon made a way for people to go to his world if they wanted? That way, everybody would be happy.]" Samurott were not exactly known for smiling, but his sparkling eyes said more than bared fangs ever could.
Dsarvess shook her pointy head. "[You were so optimistic before, Josh. 'If I improve myself, surely I'll succeed!' Wouldn't the thing you're describing be an easy way out for people who just need a little hope?]"
"[I wouldn't mind,]" Draco said. "[I mean, as long as nobody worried about us, wouldn't everything be okay?]"
"[This goes back to what I said before,]" Eric stomped his minuscule foot into the grass. "[Bronygon here is a time-space aberration that has already messed with the fabric of reality enough. He should stop there, not do more with it.]" There were a few nods and mutters of agreement before Hanzo countered.
"[That's not how the world works,]" the penguin said. "[Progress happens. There is no 'stop there.' There is no 'not do more with it.' Progress may come with drawbacks, but-]"
The penguin suddenly stopped his speech. Jacob the Emboar barged through the ring, huffing smoke from his snout. Hanzo nearly toppled over as the giant, bipedal pig thundered over to Bronygon. The pink, horselike being looked the fiery pig in the eyes. The massive boar towered over the pony; had anybody not known what Bronygon was capable of,
"Yeeeeesss?" Bronygon asked.
"[Hey, speaking of progress, Ponymon,]" he started, "[you're probably capable of giving us whatever we want, right?]"
"[That I am,]" the ponylike being replied.
"[How about showing us that?]" Jacob suggested with a snort.
The others looked at each other. They had not thought to ask about that. Bronygon had turned them into Pokemon; there was little reason to doubt that he could grant their wildest dreams. Still, he could easily have been bluffing; what if his power was limited only to Pokemon?
"Actually, I was hoping somebody would ask. You see, I did manage to change three individuals into their desired forms," Bronygon said.
The digital pony monster put his hoof up in space. He moved it down; the sky, trees, and grass unzipped into another world. If one looked, the gap had zipper teeth and everything, leaving a jagged imprint between the two worlds. All it was missing was a tab.
Some of the Pokemon gasped when they saw what was on the other side. On their side was a placid, albeit boring forest. The other side was a dark world of fire and brimstone. The smell of sulfur permeated the air from the crack. Tortured screams echoed from an unseen source in the smoke. It was a far cry from the too-perfect, but otherwise idyllic world that they had all been sent to. In all regards, the world on the other side was Hell.
Slowly but surely, three different entities crawled out of the portal. A black-furred, muscular being with the face of some carnivorous mammal, four large, leathery wings, horns, and runes that glowed crimson against his black fur stepped out first. A mermaid with long, brown hair and a finned tail with emerald scales was curled up in his arms like an over-sized kitten. The last, a magnificent white dragon, towered above the mermaid and infernal creature.
"So that's where they all end up…" the dragon muttered. "Perfect." The Pokemon noticed him scanning the crowd for something; after a brief nod at the Venusaur and Charizard, he turned to the pony in the middle. Bronygon proceeded as though the comment had never been made at all.
"As you can see," Bronygon said, "I have granted the wishes of three individuals from your world. Two of the three wished to be in Hell, so I added that modification, too."
"Actually," the dragon countered, "we weren't very happy in Hell. None of us were."
Sarah nodded. "I mean, I know I'm not supposed to enjoy my eternal torment, but…that's really better kept a fantasy." She flopped about on the grass. Even a futile motion like that was better than being eaten every five minutes. Or ten. Or however long it took to turn her into fillets.
The black, furry demon scratched his head. "Eheh…yeah, sorry about that. Sometimes I just can't resist…other times, I hate what I've become."
The three individuals were nonetheless evidence. They were certainly not Pokemon. Bronygon, it seemed, was indeed capable of converting forms like that. Moreover, he had made a fitting world for at least some of the residents.
"[I see,]" the Emboar huffed. "[Well, then…grant us all our dream forms, right now!]"
Bronygon stood on his hind legs. His blue forelimbs crossed over each other as he nodded his head.
"Your wish is my command," he said.
Instantly, a myriad of strange beings appeared in the Dream World. Some of them were instantly recognizable as Pokemon; for example, Nick and Dsarvess became a pair of Lugia- large, white, feathered creatures with long necks, powerful tails, and strange wings that resembled paddle-like fingers. Curt had gone from being a Meganium to another long-necked, green Pokemon - a two-legged, serpentine dragon with bright yellow, circular markings known as Rayquaza. The Quilava, Ringo, had become a sort of red-robed, anthropomorphic fox with gigantic ears that resembled a Pokemon, but nobody - not even Kuro, one of the biggest PokeManiacs there - could identify the species.
"Looks like a Fire-Type, if the colors are any indication," she (was that fox-masked being truly female?) commented. The closest thing anyone could describe her with was a silvery fox mask with an eye carved into the center. The fox's eyes were large, black pits of the dread void. A spiky mane of glowing purple ectoplasm flowed down the back of the mask. Ringo could only guess that this was a Dark-Type, if not Dark/Ghost.
"[Yep. Delphox, from Kalos,]" Ringo responded. He waved a stick before him; with a twirl, a flame ignited on the tip. "[And you look kinda like a Zoroark.]"
The elongated maw beneath the silvery fox mask opened. Out slipped a long tongue dripping with some black substance between liquid and gas, supported by an equally ghastly lower jaw that fit into the pointed muzzle of the mask perfectly.
"Emphasis on 'kinda,'" Kuro said. Her voice did not sound like her own, coming out of that pointed fox maw. "This monster's design was inspired by Zoroark, Thanatos Maero…and a famous criminal."
A giant cream-yellow dragon floated over to the Delphox. He had once been a Samurott formerly known as Josh; now, he had changed into a beast of transport called a Flammie. He could easily have carried two or three people upon his furry back. Otherwise, the scutes, fangs in his wide mouth, and long, sturdy tail cemented him as a dragon. With four avian, green-tipped wings, the dragon could fly an entire party anywhere. For now, however, he rushed over to the new fennec-esque Pokemon that had appeared in the area.
"Is that a new Pokemon?" Josh the Flammie asked. He trotted around Ringo like a giant, draconic puppy. "Wow...what else is there?"
The Delphox put a black-furred finger to his golden muzzle in thought. "Actually...let me see."
The vulpine Pokemon traced a finger in the air. A small streak of magenta followed his claw. He stuck his hand into the gap, making it look like his "robed" arm had vanished into thin air.
"H-how did you do that?" Kuro asked. The gap had sealed itself seamlessly. "More importantly, what did you just do?"
"Oh, well, after I learned that you guys were from another world, I found the concept extremely intriguing," Ringo explained. "I figured that being able to gap between worlds would be an interesting addition to a Delphox." Josh and Kuro watched as, after a few minutes of fumbling, an item emerged from between worlds.
"Ah, here we go," he said, taking a brown-covered sketchbook out of the gap. It had creases from being carried by Ringo's human form for a few months. The edges had gotten curled by repeated flipping. The Flammie and the odd, fox masked being could not take their eyes off of the battered thing. This book was the ultimate spoiler.
"Paw through it," Ringo suggested. "Or, well..." He flipped through the pages with Josh watching over his shoulder. The fox's hands were the most dextrous of any Pokemon there, at least.
A million strange forms assailed Josh and Kuro. There were chunky creatures that resembled hunks of ice; a peregrine falcon had been dipped in the fiery paint decor of a racing car; something resembling a bat and a dragon fluttered about in an unknown cave. More of his sketches concerned something called "Mega Evolution;" it looked like Absol, Charizard, and Aerodactyl, among others, had undergone temporary evolutions, or perhaps mode changes like Giratina.
"What's that one?" Josh asked. His ivory claw pointed to a sketch of a bandy-legged frog. Its triangular head had a racing fin of sorts, making the frog look aerodynamic. Its long, sticky tongue wrapped around its neck like a scarf. Josh guessed that it was probably a Water-Type, but the absence of color made it hard to tell. It just seemed natural that a frog would be water-related.
"Oh, Greninja," Ringo responded. "Yeah, that's a popular one, too."
The Flammie's eyes sparkled. His fanged mouth spread into a grin. Faster than one would think a dragon could move, he hovered over to the pink pony, four feathery wings not even beating upon the dead wind. Big as a Flammie was, he stooped down to look into Bronygon's yellow eyes.
"Hey, Bronygon!" Josh called, "can I be a Greninja instead?"
The pink pony turned to him. Without a mouth to move, it stated, "You aren't supposed to know about that."
"And yet he does," Ringo asserted. His voice was almost flat as he challenged, "So, are you going to grant his wish or not?"
There was a pause. Bronygon considered the idea, his blobbly body still as a statue. All the while, the fox-masked creature watched intently. A grin crossed her maw as Bronygon's pupils dilated and contracted, processing the request.
"The damage in space and time could be phenomenal...but this is my world, designed to hold all of your dreams," Bronygon finally said.
That was all that needed to be done. In a puff of smoke, the giant yellow dragon was replaced with a lithe, blue, humanoid frog. He flexed his new body a little, and examined his new limbs and digits with his new, yellow eyes. His tongue, wrapped around his neck like a ninja's red, trailing scarf, retracted into his mouth.
"Woah...thanks!" he said. He began jumping around the area, sticking to anything his suction-tipped toes would allow. Most of the people present barely got a good look at him. Eric gaped like a goldfish as if to say something, but Andy took the words right out of his mouth:
"You shouldn't have done that," Andy said, pointing a finger at the pony. The balloon animal of a Pokemon turned to him.
"Why, whatever do you mean?" Bronygon responded. "He knew about it already; I wouldn't want to go back on my word. We can edit the world in post, just in case."
"'We?'" Andy repeated. Unlike Kuro, Josh, and Ringo, he had become a young man in a dark blue, starry scarf that flickered with the night sky whenever he moved. On his head was a medium-brimmed hat, also covered in stars, with a badge in the center and sunglasses. A mark like a galaxy swirled in the center of his leather jacket; otherwise, his blue jeans and black, star-decorated sneakers stood out. With the push of a trigger, a massive blade suddenly extended from a device shaped like a blocky gun in his right hand.
"Yes," Bronygon responded. "'We.'"
Andy was not the only humanoid after Bronygon had changed everybody into their ideal forms. Much to the surprise of some of the Pokemon present, many of Bronygon's victims had opted to become human. The white dragon became an Asian man in a dark blue and silver robe with mint green markings around his eyes; he did not look particularly threatening, and bore no weapons. Matthew became a heavily-muscled humanoid sporting muscles so large a shirt could not contain them, messy black hair, and an eternal grin of sinister teeth. Eric barely changed at all from his fedora-wearing self, with a thick, leather-bound tome as the only new addition.
"Huh? What is this?" Eric asked, looking at the book. There was no title, and when he flipped through the leather-bound tome, all the pages were blank. He thought he remembered a similar book from somewhere, but could not place where.
"You'll see," Hanzo said. He had become much like his normal self, curly red hair and all. His garb of choice was a long, white lab coat. A utility belt of test tubes wrapped around his waist. A plaid shirt was visible beneath his lab uniform.
Hanzo was not the only one utilizing technology as a human. Cassandra had suddenly donned a mechanical suit that concealed her entire body. The only part that was not made of bronze plating was a red helmet with a green face shield. An arm cannon covered her right arm from the elbow up. Even though not much of her body was visible, it looked much better on her than the slimy skin of a Mudkip.
"Metroid," Andy commented, "Nice one, Cassie."
The helmeted head nodded. "Used to play it back when games were fun," she said.
Others among the cast had gone the route of non-Pokemon dragons. Jake the Emboar had become a light blue Chinese dragon with a greenish ridge extending from his horned skull to the very tip of his tail. His scales scalloped like those of a fish, and his tail ended in a tuft like a lion's. With regal whiskers moving like ribbons of their own accord, he was a sight to behold.
The Totodile finally became his dragon-sona Draco, a large, orange-brown Western dragon with yellow eyes, black scleras, and leathery, flapping wings. A column of spikes decorated his spine, and six horns framed his face. He looked himself over once, then twice, all with a grin that showed perhaps too many of his pointed teeth.
"East and West meet, huh?" Jake observed. The Western dragon on the other side of the circle nodded his head, ceasing his circling.
"I just hope we get like...the option to shift when we get out of this place," Draco said. "That would be a neat perk."
With everybody now in whatever form they wished, the debate could now continue. Sure enough, everybody coexisted more or less peacefully in the forms of their choosing: Kuro told Ringo about her fascination with a certain monster; Josh leaped around, only having the answer of "I dunno, but I love it!" when asked exactly what he was; Curt slowly got the hang of flying; Sato revealed that he had been after Andy and Kuro all along; the two Lugia were having a peaceful chat. Even Vyce, Matthew, and Sarah were getting along. For all intents and purposes, Bronygon's world was a peaceful place.
"So, shall we continue?" Bronygon asked. "I assume you all will have no questions that I could turn the world into paradise merely by thinking it."
"Umm…" Andy raised his hand. "I have a question."
Bronygon turned to the young man with the sunglasses. "Yes?"
"Y'know, you go on and on about Pinkie Pie," Andy observed, "but if she knew how you made our dreams come true, she wouldn't want anything to do with you."
Bronygon went deathly still. He levitated, but the only parts moving were his bizarre eyeballs. Those dilated like a parrot's, again, but anyone who looked into them for a few minutes would have noticed a rapidly increasing rhythm. If the eyes were an indicator that Bronygon was processing something, his processor had just overloaded.
"What do you mean...?" the pony-like creature wondered. His balloon animal legs trembled nervously.
"He's right," Curt said. "Pinkie Pie is always making people happy. Sure, she'll break every known law of physics, but it's all for a good laugh."
The pink pony started twitching, with one blobby leg moving up, then down, then sideways for no apparent reason. His pupils dilated and narrowed hypnotically like they had during processing, only now they had sped up. They swirled like an optical illusion turned by a hand crank.
"…Oops," Curt muttered. The pony before them sputtered numbers and letters in nonsensical order. All eyes, including the black, bottomless sockets of Kuro's fox mask, turned to the spastic, digital pony.
"Error…" Bronygon stuttered. Between his words were the beeps and glitches of a computer gone haywire. His rendered body broke itself up into blocky pixels that flickered with a horrid yellow, cyan, and magenta rainbow. "ErrrroooRRtgdfvhbn…."
Andy drew his sword. The dragons in the party arched and hissed at the malfunctioning digital Pokemon. Some of them, like Draco, began forming balls of fire in their mouths, while others sparked with lightning. The muscular humanoid tried to look worried, but his face had its tiger-like teeth forcefully bared regardless.
Perhaps most disturbing was the foxlike creature Kuro had become. One could swear that mask grinned while it said, "My, my…such beautiful chaos. Let me join in, won't you?"
Eric turned tail. No matter where he ran, however, he found himself in the same trees, the same flowers, and the same stale breeze. He wound up at the same place as before: facing the broken, spastic digital being. Clutching his book tightly, he sank behind the powerful white tail of one of the Lugia.
"Commencing emergency procedures…" the glitched pony stated. His twisted eyes became glowing spirals of yellow and black. "The aberRAtions in time and space must be reCTifIed. EXTERMINATE!"
"Hey, I didn't know you were a Whovian!" Andy shouted. He noticed the pony-like being, now completely insane, moving specifically towards Andy and those surrounding him.
"Now. Is not. The time," Kuro reminded. The mouth of her fox mask did not move. It remained pointed at the out-of-control, reality-warping pony that had entered their midst. This time, their dreams were the only thing saving them from certain death.
"It's never the time!" Andy complained.