Right. This idea's been brewing in my head for a while and I didn't exactly want to wait for the English names of the new Pokemon to write it. It's a bit scary, which is always fun. At least, I think it's scary, but I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to horror so maybe it's not scary at all for most of you =| At any rate, enjoy~ “Blasted heat!” yelled William, wiping the sweat off of his reddened forehead for the thousandth time. He had been out in the sun for the majority of the day, and he was quite certain he would melt if he stayed out in the open for a moment longer. The man unscrewed the cap of his canteen and drank from it, leaving just a little left for later. It wasn’t important to conserve water – it wasn’t as if he was lost or stranded. The automobile in which he rode went over large bump, jolting the man and causing him to lose the cap to his canteen. Swearing, he reached down, vainly searching for the cap in the constantly jerking vehicle. “Stop your whining; we’re almost there,” said Jacob, William’s fellow team member. The two were archeologists, and were traveling with a team to a remote location in the Isshu region’s desert. It had been discovered just recently by a traveling Pokémon trainer, so they were all excited at the prospect of being the first to see what was inside. It was very possible that fame and fortune awaited them within the mysterious structure, or an untimely death as some people liked to joke around the campfire. There were stories circulating of people vanishing without a trace in the desert. Two of them rode in the back seat of the off-road vehicle, with a driver and navigator sitting in the front seats. Two more cars full of team members followed behind them along with a truck that carried the vast majority of their supplies, and a completely empty truck followed behind that one. The team was headed by both William and Jacob under the supervision of a man named Nolan, and was being funded by Hiun University. After only another half hour of travel the team had arrived at their destination. What they saw there wasn’t at all the significant at first glance. Four pillars rose up out of the sand – all snapped in half or broken. Around the pillars sat four statues of blue stone – plump figures with tiny limbs and eyebrows painted red. The statues were partially buried in sand, and just few months prior the whole site was completely submerged. One of the recent violent sandstorms must have unearthed the ruins, which lead to its discovery. Will drank the last bit of his water before stepping out of the car. He was clad in a pair of hiking boots along with beige cargo pants – pockets filled with various useful things – and a white t-shirt worn under a beige button up shirt. His skin was fairly tan from his few years as an archeologist under his belt. He wasn’t even thirty quite yet, but he already had some respect within the community of archeologists. Will scanned the site with his brown eyes and placed a wide-brimmed hat upon his head. “First things first,” he started to say as he walked towards one of the statues. “Get some pictures of these things and try to figure out what they are...” He studied the statues for a few moments, noting how they all were more or less identical. The statues weren’t what they were here for, though, and William turned his site upon the four shattered pillars and what was in the center. Jacob joined the young man as they looked down the dark stair case. The steps quickly vanished into darkness, and there was no telling what awaited them inside, but their hearts were definitely racing. Around the stairs one could see bricks still mostly buried. It was quite possible that an entire structure of unknown proportions was preserved underneath their feet. Once they had a better look around it was probable that they would need to ask for more funding, as they could end up staying much longer than anticipated. “Let’s get some lights,” Jacob said as he and Will turned around and headed back to one of the cars. The team was already hard at working doing various duties around the site – recording data that needed recording, air samples, sand samples, everything. A pair of men lifted some ultrasonic equipment out of the back of a car and carried to the entrance to see if they could get an idea of how big the ruins were. Jacob fished a crate out of the back and placed carried it back to the stairs as well. Inside the box were a number of gray colored, metallic spheres – Pokéballs. He and William pulled out the ones that had lightning bolt stickers on them and proceeded to unscrew the caps on the balls, releasing bursts of white energy that began to take the shape of small, white ribbon-like creatures. They looked very much like fish, only they didn’t live in water. They hovered in the air, opening their red mouths and tasting the air. The yellow lines that ran down their bodies sparked to life – sparks of electricity flew, lighting the creatures up. They knew what their job was - they had been trained specifically to act as sources of light. With the Electric-type Pokémon in tow the duo began their descent into the darkness. ------- The air was very stale, as was expected. William sighed in relief as the temperature took a noticeable plummet. The Pokémon, referred to as Shibis, began spreading out inside of the room. One Shibi hovered closed to each man while the rest spread out in a way that would light up the entire room, intensifying their light. Before doing anything further both men took out devices that read the air, and would let them know whether not there was anything harmful in it. The device beeped after a moment and flashed a green light, which meant that it was safe. The room was completely empty and the floor was covered in a thick blanket of sand. The walls were bare and featureless, but constructed of the same sand-colored stone that made up the stairs and pillars up above. It could also be assumed that the floor was also made of the same stone. William shot Jacob a questioning glance and raised his brow. William half expect a room full of treasures and artifacts, and thought for a moment that maybe someone had made it to the site before them and made off with the valuables. He mentally kicked himself for not finding ulterior sources of funding that would get him to the site sooner. Jacob simply shrugged and continued walking. Jacob was a bit older and had more experience. His attitude reminded will that the fact that they were even there documenting their discoveries was significant, and would grant them much praise and limelight. ”That’s right – not the end of the world,” Will thought to himself and walked further into the room. There was a hallway that broke off to the left, and up ahead was another staircase that led further down. “I’ll see where the staircase leads if you go check that out over there,” Jacob said. William replied with a nod and ordered two of the Shibis to follow him along with the one that already hovered slightly in front of him. Jacob’s steps echoed off of the walls as he descended the stairs as Will explored the room that branched off to the left of the main one. It was just as plain as the rest of the place so far, but still. There was some excitement in the knowledge that there was no knowing how much there was to explore. The ground beneath Will gave way as he took a step. His legs fell through the floor, causing him to call out, which in turn causes sand to fly into his mouth as the rest of his body was sucked in. He fell for less than a second and landed on a large mound of sand, which wasn’t the softest landing, but there were many worse things to land on top of. “Will?!” Jake yelled, running over to William. The younger man coughed and spat sand out of his mouth, groaning slightly as he stood up. “You ok, Will?” “Uh,” he moaned. “Yeah, I’m fine…” He peered up at the hole that he had fallen through as the two Shibis floated down through it from the level above. “Guess we should make sure we watch our footing in here…” he muttered, looking around the room he was now in. He spotted that staircase that Jacob had descended, along with another that went down even further. Not from away from him was another mound of sand, which alerting the men to the existence of another hole just ahead of the one Will had fallen through. A feature in the wall out of the corner of Will’s eye caught his attention and his turned to see what it was. The Shibis followed his line of sight and illuminated the object on the wall. It was a face, seemingly made of stone that didn’t seem so different than the stone that the rest of the building was made of. It was oval-shaped, with a flat line serving as a mouth, a sausage-like nose, and two iris-less eyes. There were no details on the mask besides the very simple facial features. “Huh,” Jacob said as the two men went up closer to inspect it more thoroughly. It seemed to be carved into the wall, which meant that it could not be removed – at least, not right then. “There you go, Will,” Jake said while nudging the younger man. “There’s more to this place than you think.” “Yeah, guess so,” Will chuckled, rubbing his shoulder which was still a bit sore from his fall. Looking around he didn’t see any other faces on the wall, which was a bit peculiar as the face on that wall wasn’t in any sort of special location like the center of the wall – it was simply off to the side. “Right, let’s go back up and see what the guys have found,” Jacob suggested. William nodded and followed, ascending the stairs back into the main room. As they left Will smiled, catching sight of another face on the wall. “Look!” he said, pointing. It had been on far wall closest to the stairs, which would explain why they missed it. He didn’t have to look at it any closer to realize that it was identical to the one on the level below, and it was even in a random location as well. Will couldn’t help but grin as he left went up the stairs; back up into the scorching sunlight. ------- By dinnertime a line of lights had been installed inside the main room, and could be activated at the flick of a switch thanks to a generator. A few crocodilian-like Pokémon had been sighted in the main room that camouflaged effortlessly with the sand. They fled as soon as they were discovered, which probably meant that they wouldn’t bother the team, but now no one went down without a partner or a gun. Air samples taken showed no abnormalities with the air outside or inside the ruins, and the sand studied so far wasn’t remarkable in the slightest. The stone from which the structure was made seemed to have been made using the sand, which was expected. Ultrasonic readings showed that there were at least four levels, bellow their feet, and quite a few team members were willing to bet that there were more. Camp had been set up as a series of tents around the stairs. It was still unbearably hot, but temperatures would plummet as night settled in, giving the group some reprieve before making them wish that the sun was still shining. The tents were securely anchored into the ground, which ensured that they would be safe in case of a violent storm. The material that they were made of was extremely durable, which would prevent tearing. The team was perfectly prepared for any hardship that might come against them during the dig. After a few more hours of recording data and taking samples had passed everyone settled down for the evening. A Pokémon was summoned from out of a Pokéball to construct a fire – it was a red and black pig-like creature that was about as tall as a child, however, it was also very muscular and stood on only two legs. It stood over the fire pit and from its nostrils blew a stream of red hot flame, lighting the fire that would keep the team warm until they went to crawl into their sleeping bags for the night. “All right, team, here’s your dinner,” said Anna, the team’s anthropologist. It was she along with the two students she brought that had identified the crocodilian Pokémon in the ruins – which wasn’t at all a difficult feat, as the crocs were quite ubiquitous throughout the entire desert region. Anna tossed a can of food to each team member, which would then be cooked over the fire. “Someone will cook breakfast, I promise,” she added before taking her seat around the fire. All in all there were twenty-three team members, and all of them were currently situated around the fire. The talk was buzzing with excitement from the little they had discovered that day. Reports were already in the works, which a few of the team members got up and added to after they had eaten. With the sand unable to retain heat for very long the temperature dropped, forcing everyone to retire for the night. Nolan, the team’s supervisor, almost tripped over an object in the sand as he made his way to his tent. Looking down he saw sand-colored face on the ground, half buried still. “Hey! Everyone come look at this!” he yelled, summoning the rest of the team to him. “Just like the ones inside…” he noted as he bent over it. It moved when he pressed his fingers against its cheek, meaning that it wasn’t molded into some segment of the building that was underneath them. Nolan picked it up and dusted off the bits of sand that remained. “Kinda freaky, don’tcha think?” one of the students remarked as Nolan put the mask over his face and did a funny little dance. “Maybe,” he nodded, before passing the mask along for other people to look at it. He shivered as a light breeze blew through the camp, reminding him that he was on his way to bed. “I’ll see you all tomorrow,” he said with a wave. The rest of the team followed suit as soon as they had had a chance to look at the mask. William was the last to have a look at it, and set it against the stairs before going off to bed himself. Everyone including William fell asleep quickly, being so exhausted from their day. William was the first to rise the next day however, or so he thought. When he went back to mask he found it on the side opposite from where he had placed it before going to bed. He thought nothing of it, knowing that someone must have gotten up during the night to go to the bathroom and moved it. Will then noted to himself how they were lucky that there wasn’t a storm in the middle of the night, or the mask might’ve been lost once again. The young man shivered as reached into the crate of Pokéballs and pulled out one with the sticker of a flame on it. The fire pig yawned and stretched, not seeming to be bothered by the frigid temperature. It knew what Will wanted without being told and relit the fire. “Thanks,” William said before huddling by the fire in order to warm his hands. The creature itself radiated heat, being a Fire-type, and because it stood close to Will the man found himself comfortably warm after a few minutes. By then other people had risen and trudged out of their tents and huddled around the fire as well, warming their bones before starting their day. William decided to be the first to shower, and so he looked into the crate and pulled out yet another Pokéball with a raindrop sticker on it. He carried it to a small cylindrical structure in the back of the camp. The cylinder was simply a curtain set up over a mat. He undressed and pulled back the curtain, stepping inside. He opened the Pokéball, letting loose a small beige chimp with a blue head – it had a tuft of hair atop its head that looked like a fountain. The chimp looked up at him a smiled. “Warm water, please,” Will asked through chattering teeth. The monkey nodded and scampered up to the top of the curtain, perching upon the circular curtain rod. The monkey had been a much appreciated gift for the team. On most operations such as the one they were on the team members went without showering, which wasn’t pleasant for the first week until you got used to the smell. The monkey was especially special because it was one of the few Water-type Pokémon that could control the temperature of water. It was, of course, another mouth to feed, but it was well worth the exchange. The monkey waved its arms in the air, summoning a miniscule dark cloud over the top of the shower. After a moment it began raining down on Will. He sighed in relief as the warm water ran down his body and he proceeded to bathe as quickly as possible. After a few minutes he stepped out of the shower and redressed himself. Feeling fresh he walked back towards the fire, where he could smell the beginnings of breakfast. He walked past Anna, who probably wanted to use the shower next. By the time she got back breakfast was ready and was being served. It was a pancake for each person along with a helping of eggs, which was quite nice and not very common. Most of time breakfast came in the form of an instant packet of porridge. Breakfast was over with after a few minutes, and by then the sun had risen fully over the horizon, beginning another day of assault. The majority of the day’s work would take place inside of the main room of the building, since there wasn’t at all much to do outside, besides study the statues further and take more soil samples. The team headed inside, flicking on the lights and illuminating the room. It was much colder down in the old building, so the team brought jackets with them to stay warm until the sun made it slightly warmer. They worked tirelessly in the main room, taking new soil samples and studying the walls, despite the fact that they were mostly bare. A couple of people were at the back of the room studying the face on the wall, wondering why the one found outside was a proper mask and not simply a molded out of the stone. After a few hours an old skeleton of one of the crocodilian creatures was found buried in the sand. It was good news because they could carbon date the bones. It wouldn’t give them a date as to when the structure was abandoned, but it would give them a better insight to how long the structure had been vacant – unless the previous occupants happened to keep the crocs as pets. It was also possible that it was never abandoned in the first place, and the occupants had simply been trapped by a bad storm. This meant that they could find human remains, though if there were any they would no doubt be found on the lower levels. William and Jacob continued their exploration of the structure along with a couple more of the team while the rest worked in the main room. The Shibis lit the way, and the group was sure to watch their step in order to avoid falling into holes like Will had the day before. They were down in the third level when they came across a creature larger than they had seen so far. It was a reptile as well, and had the same sand-colored scales as the smaller crocs, but it was larger and stood on two legs. It was the evolved form of the smaller reptiles, and was also fairly common in the desert. It stared at them for a moment, unmoving. The fire pig was with the group, and put itself between them and the crocodile Pokémon, flexing its arms – daring the creature to make a move. “That’s a big sucker, isn’t it?” Michelle, one of Anna’s students remarked. “Yes, it is,” Anna agreed. “It’s alone, and there’s too many of us so it won’t bother us. They’re typically are found in packs, though... I’m wondering if they have their own ecosystem in here or if they’re getting in somehow from the outside…” “Either way, let’s just be careful…” Jake said as they cautiously continued on their way. The group had made it all the way to the sixth level within an hour. They saw more faces on the walls as they went, all of them in random locations. Down in the sixth level they discovered several faces on the walls, much more than on any other of the levels. It was there that they found a small room. Inside of which there were no faces, but that wasn’t what shocked the group. As the Shibis swam in and illuminated the room they caught sight of a large gold casket. “Look at this!” Will said excitedly, rushing into the room with the others on his heels. The sarcophagus was gorgeous to say the least, and it appeared to be made from real gold. It shone brilliantly, as if it had been made just the other day. The head of the casket seemed to have possibly been carved out of lapis lazuli. The coffin was faceless, but on the forehead was a small face that resembled those that covered the walls of the structure. “That is certainly the most beautiful sarcophagus I’ve seen,” Jacob said in marvel. “It’s in excellent condition.” On the other side of the wall gray bundles were propped up against the wall – mummies. There were twelve of them – all carefully wrapped in bandages. “Looks like we’ve got our human remains,” Anna noted with a grin. “We can see just when these bodies were put here. Jake wandered to the nearest one and with a gloved hand carefully took a peek at the face beneath the bandages. The section of cheek he saw was dark and dry, like all mummies, but it was wonderfully preserved. They looked very much younger than any of the mummies he had found before. “These must be the relatives of whoever’s inside that thing,” he noted, putting the bandage back in place. “…Or not…” William said after a grunt. He had carefully opened the sarcophagus, only to find that it was empty. “Weird,” the student muttered, looking a little uncomfortable. It was probably her first time in the presence of not just one human corpse but several. “We’ll need to get set up down here as soon as possible,” Jake said. “Let’s go back up and tell everyone what we’ve found.” The group left the room and went back up the many staircases that would lead them up to the first level. When they had reached the second level, where William had fallen the day before, he noticed that the face on the wall was no longer present. Taking a Shibi with him he saw that where the mask had been was completely smooth, showing no sign that anything had been there at all. Scratching his chin he went back up to the first level. “Hey, who took the face off of the wall downstairs?” he asked. The team members looked up at him with puzzled looks. “No one,” one of them answer. “Well, it’s gone!” Will exclaimed, thinking that maybe someone who was outside had taken it. That was when he noticed that face near the stairs was also gone. “And that one’s gone too,” he pointed out. “That’s not possible,” one of the members said. “Joe and I were just looking at that a minute ago – no one could have come and taken it.” Everyone was silent now, wondering what could have happened to the faces. They weren’t on the floor, which was the first place that they checked. It was definitely strange, but it was simply creepy when Anna pointed to the wall behind Will. When he turned he saw a face there. It was identical to all the other faces in that it was expressionless, but the difference was that everyone knew that it had not been there before. “…Someone go check on the mask outside,” Jake said as Will went up closer to the mask. There was no way to remove it from the wall – it was as if it had always been there, which it hadn’t. “It’s still here!” someone called down from above. Still, something strange was going on. No one spoke for at least a minute until Nolan decided to speak up. “What did you four find down there?” “Ah, right!” Anna exclaimed. “We did find something very interesting,” she spoke enthusiastically, trying to get some energy back into the room. She looked over to Jacob to let him explain. “Uh, yes,” Jake nodded after clearing his throat. “Down on the sixth level we found a room – inside of it was this brilliant sarcophagus and a dozen mummies in really good condition.” At this a cheer rose up from the teammates. “Really?” Nolan said, a grin on his face. “That’s an amazing find!” It really was now that the four thought about it. Nolan now had something truly interesting to tell Leroy Fox, his superior and funder over at the university. “We’ll need to get a setup down there as soon as possible,” he added. “Oh!” Anna said, waving her arm at Nolan. “On our way down we also saw a Waruvile – the evolved form of the smaller Pokémon we’ve been seeing. I’m suggesting further caution when going down to the lower levels.” The team nodded halfheartedly, still on a high from the big discovery down on level six. Who knew what else was down there, waiting to be discovered. ------- The day continued on with no more interesting discoveries made. William had settled into mindless work, still thinking about the mysterious faces, and Jacob knew that the younger man was thinking about them. Will hadn’t stopped thinking about them, which prevented him from being in a celebratory mood like the rest of the team. “You’re still hung up on the faces?” Jake asked, settling down next to the younger archaeologist. “Faces don’t just move like that, Jake,” he replied. “Honestly, weirder things have happened on the planet we call earth, especially in creepy old ruins. Haven’t you heard the reports from digs around the world of the writing on walls coming to life? Some are even saying that they’re Pokémon,” he said. It was true. It was a strange world in which they lived. “Yeah, I’ve read them,” Will said. “I’ve also read the couple of reports of how the magical letters spirit people away and they’re never seen again.” “Oh, for God’s sake,” Jake moaned, rolling his eyes. “There’s all sorts of scary stories floating around, especially in our line of work. If you think that evil Pokémon are watching us then be my guest,” he said before getting up and leaving. William stopped what he was doing, having gotten an idea from Jake’s last statement. ”There’s one sure-fire way to test whether or not we’re being watched…” he thought to himself. Getting up, he went up the stairs into the desert air. It was well past noon and it was definitely not cold anymore. Someone was cooking something that smelled pretty good, but Will ignored his stomach and rummaged through the crate that carried all of the Pokéballs. He found one that had no sticker on it at all, and even opened it to make sure it was empty. With the device in hand he trotted back down the stairs and walked straight for the wall on the far end where the face was watching them. “Will, what are you doing?” Jacob asked, but William ignored him. “Oh, come on, don’t be stupid!” Jacob yelled after him. This caught everyone’s attention, and they all stopped to see what William was doing. William walked straight up to the wall, unscrewed the cap of the Pokéball and threw it at the face. The ball hit its mark thanks to the fact that William played baseball from childhood well into his teens. The grey sphere cracked open, and to everyone’s surprise the face lit up and was sucked inside. “Holy!-“ someone yelled as every got up and rushed over to Will. The ball jiggled in the sand for a few moments before it expectantly burst open again, releasing whatever it was that Will had tried to capture. The face was floating in the air, only this time there was something behind it. It was a black shadow of sorts. The mask covered the creature’s core, but two arms were visible and a tail of sorts held the mask in place. “What the hell is that?” someone asked. “It’s nothing I’ve ever seen before,” Anna remarked. “If it’s a Pokémon, then it’s a new species!” “Yes, but what is it?!” “How should I know?” Anna shrugged, moving a strand of her strawberry hair out of her face. “If I had to guess then I would say we’re looking at a new Ghost-type.” “What do you want?” William asked, feeling a chill now that seemed to emanate from the creature. Most Ghost-types gave off a chilly aura, which further confirmed Anna’s speculation. The creature did not respond for a moment until it removed its mask, revealing a single red eye that floated within the darkness of its body, causing everyone to jump back, but that wasn’t the worst of it. “I do not think that you have the right to ask me that question,” said a voice. It seemed to come from creature. The voice was almost human, but also distorted and twisted as it echoed off of the walls in unnatural ways. It sounded like a woman. “… How can you speak?” Nolan asked, stepping forward. “I can speak because I was human… once…” it answered, turning to face Nolan and replacing the mask over its eye. “Once?” Nolan questioned. “Yes, once.” After a few more moments it spoke again. “What are you doing in this place?” “We’re researchers,” Nolan explained. “We’ve come here to understand what this place was and what happened.” “Why does it matter to you what this place is or what occurred here long ago?” “I, err…” Nolan paused. “It matters because we live in this region. This place is part of our history, and the people have a right to know what happened in the past.” The shadow-creature was silent for a moment before removing its mask once more. “There are some things in this world that should be left to the sands of time, human.” Another chill ran through the room. “Why?” Nolan asked. “Not all things that happen are pleasant.” “Doesn’t matter,” the supervisor said, shaking his head. “We want to know everything, including the bad. We can learn from our mistakes that way.” “So be it,” she answered, putting on the mask once again. After a moment Jacob spoke up. “…Will you tell us what happened here? What is this place?” “It is a castle. What is left of it…” “How large?” someone asked. “From what we saw you have only seen half of what there is to be seen.” “We? Who’s we?” “She means exactly what she says. All of the faces in this place, the mask outside… they’re all like you, right?” Will said, speaking up for the first time. “It is as you say.” “So you’ve all been watching us since we got here?” Nolan asked. “Yes.” “Why?” “Why not? To our eyes you are intruders of our resting grounds.” “Are you going to try to kill us or something?” Jake asked. “No. You interest us. We will continue to watch,” she explained. With that, the spirit wandered off, vanished through a wall. The chill vanished after a few moments, but everyone felt quite cold nonetheless. Uneasy murmurs spread amongst the team. “What do we do now?” some of them asked, but Nolan had an answer. “Keep working,” he said. “If they wanna watch, let ‘em watch.” “Yeah, but what happens when they’re tired of watching us scrounge around in ‘their resting grounds?’” William said, casting a dark glance upon the group. “If they wanted us gone, we’d be gone already,” Jake replied. The group muttered in agreement and slowly got back to work.