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Nero was waiting patiently by the bridge near the southern entrance to Tao.  The Skorupi kept looking across to the other side of the bridge each time he heard footsteps, checking to see if it was the Pokemon he was meeting with.

Finally this proved fruitful as he noticed Pauline beginning to cross the bridge.  In place of her normal attire, she was wearing the cream and tan collar that belonged to her newly joined organization.  “Hey Nero,” she spoke cheerfully as she strode over to him.

“Hey Pauline,” he replied as he raised a claw in her direction.  “How was your first official meeting of the Order of the Sun?” he asked curiously.

“It was nice…” she trailed off as she looked up before glancing back at her team’s leader.  “It’s certainly interesting to learn about.”

“I’m glad,” Nero replied as he and the Glameow exchanged a smile before his teammates expression changed to one of concern.

“And you’re okay with me joining another group while I’m still a member of you’re team?” she asked as she eyed him carefully.  However, to her relief, the poison Pokemon just smiled toward her.

“Pauline if you have other interest’s outside of the team that’s fine,” he spoke as he waved his tail slightly, as if dismissing the problem.  “I’m not going to force you to be focused on being a merchant twenty-four seven.”

A sense of relief washed over the Glameow upon hearing this as her tail swished happily behind her.  “Thank you, Nero,” she replied with a smile that Skorupi was happy to return.

The two then turned towards Tao as they heard commotion of all sorts.  They could hear various yelling and even noticed various Pokemon running towards the center of town.

“Care to check it out?” Pauline asked as she swiftly turned towards her team leader.

The Skorupi seemed to consider the possibilities for a moment before nodding.  “Yeah,” he replied simply as he began to march into town, the feline quickly following his lead as they crossed the bridge.

It didn’t take long before the pair made their way into the crowded center of town.  They barley had room to move as Pokemon of all variety’s had gathered.  The majority of them seemed to be quite emotional, including crying, hugging and screaming.

“What’s going on?” Pauline asked in confusion as she twisted her head from side to side, looking for anything that would reveal the source of all the commotion.  Her teammate didn’t answer her as he silently continued to observe what was going on.  He was trying to focus on what the crowd members were saying but kept hearing roughly the same words over and over again. “You’re back.”

The Skorupi continued to ponder silently on this before he came to a connection, as he looked around at all the hugging Pokemon.  ‘Wait…could that mean that these are the Pokemon that went missing?’ he asked himself.

He didn’t wait any longer as he began to shuffle through the crowd.  Pauline turned around to see that her team leader had taken off on his own.  “Hey, where are you going Nero?” she called out as she tried to pursue him through the packed crowd.

The poison Pokemon didn’t respond as he kept scuffling through the center of the village.  ‘If I’m right, then that means Kari should be here too,” he thought as he kept on the lookout for any sight or sound of her.

He managed to get separated from the group slightly before he stopped.  Walking further into the village was a Girafarig, which he quickly recognized as Kari.  A smile began to spread across his face as he began scuttling towards her.

As he did so however, he realized that something was off about her.  The normally excitable and cheery Girafarig seemed scared as she skittishly made her way through the village, head hung low as she walked.  This caused the Skorupi to hesitate before taking action.  “Kari!”

The psychic Giraffe jumped in surprise as she whipped her head around to see her partner staring at her.  “Oh…Nero,” she spoke quietly before a smile began to spread on her face.  “I’m back!” she added as the smile took a goofier turn.

Nero began to smile back as he started crawling towards her.  ‘Maybe I’m just imagining things,” he thought to himself as he stopped just in front of her.  “You sure are!”

“There you are Nero!” Pauline’s voice called, startling Kari again as the Skorupi turned to see the Glameow running towards the pair.  She skid to a stop however upon noticing Kari.  “Oh, is this your partner you were telling me about?”

“Yep,” he spoke with a smile as he turned back towards the Girafarig.  “Kari, this is Pauline,” he spoke as he indicated towards the feline with his tail.  “She joined the team while you were away.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Kari,” the Glameow replied with a slight bow.  Kari simply stared back at her new teammate, both hesitantly and in confusion.  A smile quickly forced its way onto her face however as she bobbed slightly on her front hooves.  

“Nice to meet you too Pauline!” she replied happily as she continued to move her front leg’s merrily.  “Welcome to Team Tranquil Venom!”

This caused both the Skorupi and Glameow to smile happily.  However, Nero noticed bandages on both of the Girafarig’s front leg’s as she danced about.  “Kari, what happened to your legs?” he asked, concern clear in his eyes.

The psychic giraffe let out a squeak as she stopped bouncing and looked down at the bandaged legs.  “Oh, that!” she exclaimed with a nervous laughter.  “I just ran into some thorns in a jungle we had to travel through, it’s no big deal!” she added energetically as she turned her front body away from the two.

Nero kept a watchful eye on his partner, partly in concern and partly in suspicion.  “You had to travel through a jungle?” Pauline asked curiously.  “How was that?”

“Oh, it was kind of neat I guess,” Kari proclaimed dismissively as she completely turned away from the two, her tail bobbing slightly.  “Hey if we’re going to keep talking about this can we take it back to the base?” she asked as she tilted her head towards the two.  “It’s pretty crowded here.”

Nero continued to observe her carefully as she suggested this idea.  “I don’t have a problem with that, is that okay with you Nero?” the Glameow asked, snapping the Skorupi out of his thoughts.

“Oh yeah, that’s fine,” he added as Kari smiled and bobbed her head in response

“Ok, then let’s get going!” she exclaimed as she galloped ahead.  Nero began scuttling forward with Pauline walking by his side. The Skorupi hung his head slightly before he stared after the psychic giraffe again.

This hadn’t gone unnoticed by the Glameow as her gaze shifted between Nero and Kari.  The Girafarig continued on ahead of the group, almost as if she was trying to get out of the village as quick as possible.

“On second thought…” Pauline spoke as she stopped walking. “I think I’ll just head home and let you two catch up.”

Both founding members of the team turned around at hearing this.  “You don’t have to do that Pauline,” the Skorupi spoke as he gestured with his claws.  The Glameow simply shook her head in response.

“It’s fine Nero!” she exclaimed with a small smile.  “You two haven’t gotten to see each other in a while so I’ll just let you two catch up for the night.  We can meet up again tomorrow.”

The Skorupi kept looking forward before Kari spoke up.  “Well if you’re sure about this.  It was nice meeting you Pauline!” the Girafarig spoke as a smile came over her face as she bobbed on her front hooves.

“It was nice to meet you too Kari,” the feline smiled back at the psychic giraffe, who almost instantly began galloping away again, leaving the Skorupi and Glameow behind as they locked eyes for several seconds.

“Come on Nero!  What’s taking you so long?” Kari’s voice impatiently called back as Pauline nodded her head in her direction, signaling for the Skorupi to go with her.

Nero silently nodded back as the two went their separate ways.  This seemed to satisfy the Girafarig who began taking off again, keeping her distance between herself and her team leader.  This caused the Skorupi to grimace slightly, still confused and bothered by the odd behavior Kari was displaying.

‘Something’s bothering you Kari,’ Nero thought to himself as he continued to scuttle after her.  ‘And I want to know what it is.’

-----

It was sunset now as the founding members of Team Tranquil Venom had arrived back at their team base.  Kari had continued to lead the pair before she arrived in front of the door and pulled it open with her tail and trotted inside as Nero continued to try and catch up.

As the Skorupi entered, he found Kari slowly pacing through the base as she re familiarized herself with her surroundings.  “Good to be back?” Nero asked with the smallest of smiles.

“It is,” the Girafarig replied back quietly as she continued to pace around the base in a small circle.  Her teammate took this moment to walk over towards a small shelf and opened a drawer; pulling out the gift he had gotten for her and placed it on top of the shelf.

“By the way, I got this hat for you while you were gone,” Nero spoke as he indicated towards the stripped hat.  The Girafarig quickly turned in curiosity as she slowly walked over to examine the cream and brown hat with a surprised look on her face.

“Thank you...” the Girafarig spoke quietly as she carefully flipped the hat on her head. “That was really nice of you Nero!” she exclaimed as a smile spread on her face before she began trotting back across the room, tilting her head slightly that now housed her new hat.

The Skorupi smiled slightly at his partner.  “I’m glad you like it,” he spoke as he reached back into the same drawer and pulled out a folded up piece of paper.  “I also have your letter.”

Kari stopped almost instantly as she turned towards her partner.  “You guy’s really got those letters?” she asked curiously.

“Yeah, there was a big crowd outside of the merchant’s hut to make sure everyone received their letter,” Nero spoke as he looked at the letter from Kari as silence fell between the pair.  “So you guys really were in the past?”

“Yeah…crazy right?” the psychic giraffe replied with a forced laugh as she looked away from the Skorupi.  Nero kept his focus locked on her as he prepared to speak again.

“So what sort of neat things did you do in the past?” he asked, causing his partner to jump a bit.

“What?” she replied, nervousness seeping into her voice as she turned back towards her partner.

“Well you wrote in your letter that you would do a lot of neat things back there and we could talk about it when you got home,” Nero spoke as he held the letter in his claw.

“Oh, I guess I did write that!” she replied with a laugh and a smile as Nero kept a steady gaze on her.  “Why don’t you tell me what you did first?” she offered.

“Nah I think so you should go first,” the Skorupi spoke with a shake of his head.  “I mean you said it yourself in the letter, you’d probably get to do a lot of things in the past that you wouldn’t get to do otherwise.”

It was clear from her body language that Kari was becoming more and more uncomfortable as she shifted her head from side to side.  “You would think so but it was honestly kind of boring!” she replied.

“Come on, there must have been something exciting!” the Skorupi continued to press.  “Not even the jungle that you mentioned earlier?”

The Girafarig had a blank look for a second before it was replaced with a smile again. “Nope, nothing of interest happened there, or anywhere, really!”  Kari replied as she shook her head.  

“Not even whatever hurt your legs?” he asked curiously as he indicated towards the wrapping just above her front hooves.

The Girafarig’s smile disappeared as she looked down at her bandaged legs.  “I told you Nero, I just ran into some thorns,” she spoke as she began to smile again.  Despite this, there was a clear nervousness evident in her voice now.  “It wasn’t a big deal!” she added as she tried to affirm her position.

This caused a silence to come over the pair before it was interrupted by a sigh from Nero.  “You’re a bad liar Kari,” he spoke simply, causing the Girafarig to grow even more nervous.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about Nero,” she replied as she took a step backwards.  “I’m not lying!” she exclaimed with a smile on her face.

“Stop it!” the poison Pokemon yelled as he slammed his tail against the ground, startling his partner.  “You haven’t been acting like yourself at all today!  You’ve been nervous and on edge ever since you came back!  Something’s wrong and I want to know what!”

Silence came between the two again as a stern expression remained on Nero’s face while Kari grimaced and hung her head as she looked away from her team leader.  A sigh could be heard as the Skorupi began to crawl over towards his partner.

Kari grimaced at this as she turned away and hung her head sadly.  Nero’s expression quickly softened upon seeing this as he felt a wave of guilt sweep over him.  He hadn’t intended to lose his cool like that.  

“I’m sorry Kari, I didn’t mean to snap at you,” he spoke quietly.  Despite this, the Girafarig kept her face turned away.  “It just seems like something’s really bothering you and it’s worrying me.”

Another silence fell between the two before the Skorupi spoke up again.  “Look Kari…whatever happened you can talk to me about it,” he offered in a caring tone.  “I’m your partner, your friend, you can tell me…I promise.”

Kari turned back towards her partner with both a pained and hesitant expression.  “You mean that?” she asked quietly.

“I do,” he replied simply as the two maintained eye contact for several moments before the Girafarig closed her eyes as she tried to compose herself.  Her expression was beginning to crack though as he face continued to contort into one of pain.

“Nero I killed someone!”  Kari finally blurted out as she opened her eyes and looked down at her partner.  The Skorupi simply stared back blankly at the now crying Girafarig as he tried to wrap his head around what she had just said.

“You…killed someone?” he asked weakly.  He didn’t even know why he asked; it was clear from her expression that she meant what she said.  The poison Pokemon assumed that something upsetting had happened to her while she was gone but this was more than he had expected.

‘She killed someone?’ he repeated in his mind as he continued to try and wrap his head around this situation.  ‘But…this is Kari, there’s no way she would do something like that!’

The weeping Girafarig interrupted his thoughts.  “I’ll understand if you don’t want me to be part of your team anymore…” the psychic giraffe sniffled weakly as she sat down in front of him while turning her head away.  

The poison Pokemon shook his head.  “Now hold on, this doesn’t make any sense to me!” he exclaimed as his partner turned back towards him.  “I know you aren’t lying anymore but…I just can’t picture you doing that at all!”

“Well it happened!” she cried out in response as tears were still rolling down her cheeks.  “I killed someone…” she trailed off weakly as she turned her head to the side.  

There was another moment of silence between the two before Nero spoke up.  “Tell me exactly what happened,” he spoke firmly.  

The psychic giraffe’s head whipped around with a look of fear on her face.  “I know you probably don’t want to talk about it,” her team leader interjected before she had a chance to refuse.  “But I can’t imagine this situation is as straight forward as your making it sound.  So I want to know exactly what happened.”

Kari looked down as she was beginning to shake before she slowly looked back towards her partner who nodded towards her with a supportive look.  The Girafarig took a deep breath before she nodded back.

“We were in past Tao…we were told that these Zoroark were going to attack the village and that everyone needed to help out in some way,” she began nervously as Nero watched her carefully, absorbing every word that his partner spoke.

“We were warned about two beaded Zoroark who could put anyone near them into really bad nightmares,” she continued.  I wasn’t fighting myself, I was laying down moondust traps to help the others.”

Kari began to shake again as she took a deep breath before continuing.  “I was by myself when one of them attacked me…I tried to hold it off but it latched onto my legs,” she said sadly as she nervously moved her front legs, wrappings on the lower part making it clear what the real source of the injury had been.

“I tried to get away but I couldn’t shake him,” she continued as her shaking only worsened.  “Then everything turned black and it seemed like this weird goo was surrounding me and swallowing me up!”

“An illusion of some kind?” Nero asked curiously.  The Girafarig nodded her head.

“I think so…I was so scared and I just wanted to get away,” she continued as her face was beginning to look more and more pained.  “I was moving, swinging my legs, trying anything I could to get away.”

“Finally I was able to move and the illusion went away and when I looked down…” Kari trailed off as he lip began to quiver and tears began to fall again.  Her Skorupi partner didn’t need her to continue as he could figure out what must have happened.

“I know it was an accident…but I still killed him…” the psychic giraffe sniveled weakly as she held her head down in disgrace.  Nero watched his crying partner with a sad look on his face.  

Kari flinched as she felt something tap her cheek.  She looked to see Nero’s tail placed on her cheek as he smiled up at her comfortingly. “It’s ok Kari…” he spoke.

The Girafarig wasn’t sure how to respond to this as she just stared at her partner.  “No it’s not Nero,” she spoke as she shook her head.  “I killed someone!”

“I know Kari, and believe me I wish you hadn’t killed him either,” the Skorupi replied back calmly, causing his partner to wince with guilt at hearing this.  “But it sounds like you didn’t have a choice if you were being attacked, and who knows who else may have been hurt by that Zoroark if you didn’t defend yourself.”

“But…” Kari trailed off weakly as tears were still coming down.  “But I promised myself I wouldn’t kill anyone!” she protested as she shook her head.

“Kari you would have died if you didn’t kill him,” Nero replied back sternly which caused her to pull her head back a little bit.  There was silence between the two before Nero spoke again.  “Do you think things would have been better if he killed you instead?”

Kari let out a gasp at this as she looked at her partner, who had a pained look on his face.  “I…” the Girafarig started before hanging her head again.  She didn’t want to be killed either but she couldn’t stop feeling so awful over killing someone.

“Hey,” her partners voice called as he placed his tail on her cheek again as he recomposed himself.  “I know it has to be an awful feeling your going through right now.  But think of how much more damage that Zoroark may have done if you hadn’t defended yourself.”

“Besides…” he trailed off as he looked into her eyes.  “I would have hated it if you had died Kari…” he spoke quietly before looking away, struggling to keep himself together.

Kari’s eyes widened in surprise at this before a smile began to form on her lips.  She then quickly flopped her front leg’s forward, pinning Nero between them as he let out a cry of surprise.  He then felt his partner rubbing her muzzle against his head affectionately.

“Thank you Nero…” she trailed off as tears began to stream down her face as she continued to rub against him.  A small chuckle could be heard from her partner as he rubbed his tail against her face in return.

“You’re welcome Kari…” he trailed off as the two stayed like that for a few minutes in silence.  “So are you feeling a little better now?” he asked.

“A little,” she replied with a small smile.  “We…don’t have to tell anyone else about this though do we?”

“No…this can stay just between us,” he spoke softly.  

“Good,” she spoke simply before she closed her eyes and nudged her head closer against his.  Nero smiled in relief that she had finally seemed to calm down a bit as he continued to softly rub his tail against her.

“Welcome back Kari.”
Oh look, that other team is reunited now too!

So yeah, I'm aware that PMD closed down , which is kind of unfortunate but so it goes. However, regardless of what I do with my teams in the future, I was always going to at least reunite them before either dropping them or continuing on with them.

*Insert obligatory complaint about submission title here*
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