The trek through Sandsong Desert was largely uneventful for Mike's first time in such an environment. He imagined being able to see Pokemon similar to Ruben in the desert attack the three of them, but not a soul appeared before them.
He definitely took notice at Syrup and Opal's state as they traversed through the sands. Syrup was definitely handling it without any complaint, so she must've had previous experience in the desert. As for Opal... she was the same as Syrup: Calm, collected, and cooperative. Was Opal also accustomed to the desert's blazing heat?
Mike had absolutely no problem with this heat, in fact, he could do fine in more extreme temperatures than this, but he was aware that not everyone was like him and required more water than he would in such climates.
The trio finally arrived at their location, which was a cave made out of a rock formation jutting out from the middle of the sandy desert. The color of the rock was identical to the sand surrounding it as it loomed over the three of them. Such a peculiar location: even if you were a bird flying over the desert, the chances of spotting this rock formation among the featureless desert was unlikely.
"Alright, looks like this cave's perfect for you two. Ya' better git to work and fill these bags. I'm gonna stay out here." Syrup laid the other essentials at the mouth of the cave.
"Hmm? Don't you want to assist me and Michael in digging up gems? I'm sure it'd go much faster..."
"Aw, naw, don't wanna risk a cave in. I had cheese this mornin' and if I passed gas around Mikey-boy, well... it'd spell trouble. 'Sides, I wanna see if I can do little somethin' for tonight, so let's meet up at the entrance aroun' sunset... now 'git!" Syrup waved her hand at Mike and Opal to venture into the cave, to which Opal did follow with a face of disgust.
But before Mike could even follow Opal into the cave, he looked back at his mother with an expression akin to: Really, mom??
Syrup replied by stomping the sand and yelling out a ferocious "Git'!" which made Mike turn tail and go into the cave to meet with Opal.
As the two of them continued further inside the rocky cavern, Mike decided to break the silence. "Um, sorry about my mom. Sometimes she's gross, but she's really nice."
"Oh, that is okay. She seems unique
, and I'm sure she's a great mother to you too... oh! This looks like a good spot to excavate." Opal stopped in awe as she gazed at the glittering stones that were set into the rocky walls. "Uncut, and yet they're so beautiful already... Aren't they amazing, Michael?"
"Wow... this is a pretty sight. Hey, how'd you know about this place?"
"Oh, well I used to come here when I was little. My mother told me this used to be where a tribe of Sandslash used to live at. But they died out after being preyed upon by Flygon and such... what a shame." Opal turned to face one of the glimmering walls. "Okay, stand back! I'm gonna start working now!"
Opal's tail blade began to glow purple and as she made slashes to the wall with such deft movements, Mike couldn't even see where she even cut. "Okay, this is gonna be a bit loud!!"
Opal pounded the wall with her lower body with such a force that a section of the wall crumbled loudly.
As the dust settled, Mike opened his eyes to see a perfect section of the wall reduced to rubble. "W-woah, that was pretty cool, how'd you do it?!"
"Aha... surprised? It's a couple of tricks I learned! 'Poison Tail' coats this blade of mine with an acid, so I can cut through this stone like a hot knife through butter. And then, I just use 'Bulldoze' to pulverize the separated section into what you see now. Help me out by picking up chunks that have gems in them, please!"
Mike and Opal were hard at work in destroying rock to collect its sparkling bounty. As the hours had passed, the bags began to fill up with riches. As the both of them were about to talk to pass the time, an ominous chill creeped up their spines.
"Whew... is it me or is there like some weight on our shoulders?" Opal asked Mike with a straight face.
"You don't even have shoulders!! But... now that you mention it, something feels really awful, and it reminds me of someone or something
...! Who's there?!" Mike swung his tail around with a blaze to quickly illuminate the cavern as much as possible, and it worked. There seemed to be a shadow in the middle of the floor that did not dissipate to Mike's radiant action.
"Y-you caught me! Lemme go, there'sss no need for the rough ssstuff!" The inordinate shadow rose from the floor and materialized itself in midair. It was a Haunter of sorts... a certain Haunter though, as it opened up its mouth and pulled a strange ornamental hat to place on its head. "Jusss' lemme have what I came for an' I'll leave, I promissse!"
Opal's eyes widened as she heard the words coming from the Haunter. "...? That can't be... father?"
"Ah! I wasss right! You are my daughter after all! Pearl, wassn't it?"
"Who are you and what do you want?!" Mike yelled at the ghost that was beginning to unease Opal.
"Hey hey! No need to ssshout! My name'sss Gold, and I wasss jussst lookin' to reunionate with my daughter."
"That's... get out! You're dead! What do you want with me?! Leave me alone!"
"Now then, that ain't no way to treat your father. True, I may be dead and without a body, but I sssee a new body in ya, ssso come over here and let daddy have it!" Gold creeped closer, but was cut off by Mike.
"Leave!!" Mike put up an intimidating face and stared down Gold, startling him for only a few seconds.
"Boy, I died onccce. I can't die again, ssso what good can you do?!"
"He can't, but I certainly can!" A darkish light streaked across Gold's body, effectively cutting him in two and splattering him left and right.
The assailant turned out to be Syrup, herself. "You two alright?!"
The two shadows gathered into one puddle in the middle of the floor and a face formed in order to look at its attacker. "A-ahhh! It'sss you!!"
"That's right, and I'm sure I could end ya once more if I tried hard enough!" Syrup cracked a crude knuckle out of her claws as she stared down at the mess of Gold.
"N-no! Leave me alone!!" Gold jumped up from the floor to 'swallow' his own hat and then slink away into the desert.
As Syrup looked at Gold creep away with such speed, she turned around to offer her own son a hand. "Sorry about that, looks like a bad fart came to haunt us. Need a hand with anything?"
Part 13 of "Reprieve" by