Kuki's head spun when she woke up. She couldn't muster any strength in her body. She felt like closing her eyes and going back to sleep. Kuki wondered where she even was, but figured she must've been on a bed from the soft blanket beneath her.
She yawned, blinking twice as her eyes grew moist. Her surroundings told her where she was exactly. She saw the mirror drawer, her movies collection shelf and their TV sitting on the opposite side of the room. She was in her room like she'd never even left. However, everything looked way bigger than she remembered. Was she having a dream?
Kuki stared idly at the TV and yawned. After about a minute, she could muster enough strength to move her fingers, but something felt out of place the moment she moved them.
"Huh?" Kuki narrowed her eyes and raised her hand towards her face. There was a fuzzy blue paw in place of her fair skinned hand. She shouted with a gasp. "Huuuuuuuuuh?!"
Kuki jerked back. She felt even more fur when her paw brushed against her body. Her heart pounded uncontrollably in her chest as she pushed back against the wall beside her bed.
The cat-like ears on her head, the long rabbit-like hind limbs, the long tail with a life of its own... None of them were things she was supposed to have! Did she turn into Mew?
In her increasing panic, she let out the most horrified scream her small body could muster. Tears gushed down her muzzle, and her heart pounded even louder. It was loud enough that she could hear it through her ears.
It had to all be a dream, one she'd just wake up from soon. However,every sensation on her skin as her fur brushed against the wall suggested otherwise. That wasn't all. Her other senses were sharpened considerably. She could see, hear the breeze brushing against the other side of the lighthouse walls and even smell the cosmetics locked in the mirror drawer. Everything felt too real to be a dream, and that realization made her sob even harder.
She caught a glimpse of a pink figure darting into the room through her blurred vision. It was followed by an all too familiar voice.
'Kuki! Are you okay?!'
Mew held Kuki up and wiped her tears for her. It was only when Mew stood before her that Kuki realized how smallher current form was.
"Mew?" Kuki asked, her eyes half open and filled with uncertainty. She opened her eyes wider. "Is it really you?"
Mew smiled. 'Of course, it's me! Who else would I be? Oh, you poor thing. You shouldn't be crying like that.'
Kuki sniffled, but Mew pulled her into a tight hug before she could do anything else. Kuki's panic dissolved into the warmth of her body.
'There, there, Kuki. There's nothing to worry about anymore!' Mew said cheerily.
Kuki smiled back at Mew, though it didn't last. She remembered her current situation, and her heart drummed again. "Something's wrong, Mew. I-why am I a pokemon?! How…" Kuki leaned forward, but almost toppled over before Mew held her up again.
Mew patted her softly on the head. 'It's a really long story, Kuki. I promise I'll explain it all to you, but first you need to recover your strength.'
Kuki didn't have the energy to protest, not that she would have. She didn't take her eyes off her as Mew laid her back on the bed. Mew excused herself out of the room and appeared shortly after with a huge bag of berries.
Kuki was able to perceive the myriad of delicious scents from the berries all the way from her bed before Mew had even brought them out. Her mouth salivated in anticipation of the taste, and she instinctively reached her arms out towards Mew.
Mew chuckled at Kuki. She then pulled out a few Oran and Chesto berries from the bag. Kuki had grown impatient and crawled off the bed. She fell with a thud and whimpered.
'Kuki!' Mew dropped the berries and rushed over. She found her trembling with her eyes sealed shut. Mew sighed and rubbed Kuki's cheek to calm her down. 'Take it easy, dear.'
Kuki held onto Mew weakly, her breaths shallow and forced. She opened her eyes again when a tangy scent tickled her nose. There was a pink glowing Oran floating in front of her within reach.
'Here, Kuki. You're still weak, so eat it slowly,' Mew said, hovering the Oran into Kuki's paes.
Kuki nodded, then she sank her teeth into the offering. Her face melted in delight. The berry had a rich citrus flavor and was as sweet as three buckets of sugar. Mew must've found only the ripest ones for her.
Her strength rapidly returned after her first bite. Kuki knew berries had strange effects on pokemon unlike in humans. All the soreness in her body washed away so quickly! Kuki cooed softly at Mew, raising her paws towards the other berries.
Mew smiled and hovered more to her. It didn't take long until half the berries had been eaten. She didn't feel full no matter how many she ate, but she didn't really feel hungry anymore either.
'Okay Kuki, I think that's enough for now. Let's save the rest for later, okay?' Mew patted her on the head and sealed the berry bag.
Kuki wiped the corners of her mouth and frowned with flushed cheeks. "I wasn't—there's no way I could've eaten all of that!"
Mew giggled, flicking off a berry bit on Kuki's muzzle. 'If you say so.'
Kuki grumbled. She looked up at Mew with lowered eyes. "Umm… did you turn me into a pokemon, Mew?"
Mew jerked back slightly. 'Wh-how did you know?'
Kuki raised her brows. "Um, It's not really hard. I sorta look just like you right now."
Mew brought a paw to her cheek and laughed nervously. 'Oh, yeah. You're like a mini me now. A mini mew!'
Kuki tilted her head. "Why did you turn me into a pokemon, Mew?"
Mew's smile faded. She closed her eyes for a moment and sighed. 'You'd been asleep for the past year and a half.'
Kuki gasped. "What? Wait then how old am I now?!" she counted on her fingers with furrowed brows. "I'm already fourteen… I slept through my birthday!"
'Well, sorta. That's not all that happened though,' she said, taking Kuki's paws in hers. "I'll tell you everything now, so listen carefully."
"I… I died?"
'No… not really,' Mew said hurriedly as Kuki began to shudder. 'It's sort of like how a caterpie turns into a metapod and then evolves into a butterfree.'
She turned into a metapod? Kuki found that comparison a little confusing, but chose not to question it. At least her body wasn't trembling as much anymore.
'Look on the bright side, Kuki! Now, you'll be able to do all the things I can do!'
"All the things you can do?"
'Yeah! So, there's no need to be upset about it or anything, okay?'
Kuki pursed her lips. "But…"
Mew hugged Kuki again and patted her head softly. 'It's okay, Kuki. You're here, and that's all that matters.'
Kuki didn't know what to think, but at least the warmth from Mew's embrace was comforting.
'So, how're you feeling now, Kuki? Are you thirsty or are you still hungry? You can finish the rest of the berries if you want. We can always get more later.'
Kuki eyed the berry bag and pursed her lips. "I don't really feel hungry anymore. But I sort of feel weird though," Kuki said, running her paws against her fur. "I think I'm even seeing colors I didn't even know existed before."
Mew chuckled. 'That's totally normal, Mini Mew.'
"You're not gonna start calling me Mini Mew from now on, are you?" Kuki asked with flushed cheeks.
'Oh come on, it sounds adorable!'
Kuki hummed, then stared down at her feet. She drew her brows close and tried to take a step forward, but she ended up smacking her face on the ground while trying to bend down on all fours.
'Kuki!' Mew quickly pulled her up. 'Are you okay? What… were you doing?'
Kuki looked up at her and groaned. "I was trying to move. Why are my arms so short?!" she whined, flailing her arms.
Mew laughed light heartedly, which brought another groan from Kuki. 'Well… it's not like we ever need to use them for anything, right? We're psychics and all. If you need something—' a rubber ball flew into her paw '—you just make it come to you.'
"Ooooooh, yeah that's right!"
"My, my, you can't even walk… how am I gonna take you to see Uxie now?'
Kuki gasped and her tail sprung up. "Aunt Uxie?! I can't remember the last time we saw her. Are we gonna see Aunt Mersprit and Azelf too?! Aunt Uxie is kinda boring."
'Oh silly, she's not boring. Well, only a bit. You know, we're not actually sisters.'
"Aunt Mesprit said you were though," Kuki said, tilting her head.
'Well, it depends on how you look at it. Arceus made them right after making me, so they are my sisters if you look at it like that… Anyway, enough about them. Let's get going now.'
Mew waved her paw and surrounded Kuki in a pink bubble. 'There we go. Until I teach you how to levitate, I'll be carrying you around like this. I hope it's comfy in there.'
Kuki gasped and pressed her paws against the wall of the bubble. It felt smooth and elastic. "Whoa! I haven't been in one of your bubbles since I was like… five! I've missed this so much!"
'Weren't you always the one saying you could walk around on your own whenever I bubbled you?' Mew asked with a hum.
Kuki's turned the other way with flushed cheeks. "That was before. Besides, I can't walk right now anyway!"
Mew laughed briefly. She then hovered to the bubble and latched onto it. Kuki's heart fluttered when Mew lifted the bubble off the ground. She recalled her childhood memories, back when Mew would take her along and fly around over canyons and cities.
Kuki pressed her cheek against the bubble and sighed. Oh, I wish I could float around just like Mew… Hold on a minute.
Mew looked down and tilted her head. Her eyes glowed blue from the interrupted teleport. 'What's wrong?'
"Mew, teach me how to fly!"
'Fly? But you can't even shapeshift yet.'
Kuki squinted her eyes and failed her arms. "No I meant… like how you float around! Teach me how to do that. I bet I can totally do it just like you!"
Mew brought a paw to her chin and hummed. She lowered the bubble to the ground and popped it with a paw swipe. 'Well, I still don't know just how much like me you are now.' Mew ruffled Kuki's fur, a habit she seemed to be quickly developing. 'Self levitation was the first thing I learned how to do way back when I was even younger than you. It's probably not gonna be hard for you to learn it either.'
Kuki balled her fists and bounced on her feet in excitement. "Awesome! I'll be able to do it then?!"
'You're Mini Mew. Of course you can!'
Kuki bounced on her feet excitedly. "Tell me how! What am I supposed to do? How does it work?"
'It's a bit hard to explain. It's like trying to describe what color is to a zubat. It's something you have to feel for it to happen.' Mew said as she flicked her hand. 'Let's see, uhhh… Try jumping and then stay up in the air. Kind of like how a pidove takes off. 'Can you do that?'
Kuki hummed and waved her paw. "Oh, please! Watch me!"
Kuki leaned forward and stood on her toes. She raised her tail, kicked back with all her strength and leapt forward. Then she fell flat on her face. Mew snorted and Kuki groaned at her in response.
Kuki rolled back to her feet and did it again only to be met with the same results. She did it again and again, leaping back and forth around the room, almost crashing into the wall once had Mew not stopped her in mid air and lowered her back to the ground.
'Aww, look at you. You're like a buneary now,' Mew said with a chuckle.
Kuki grumbled and lowered her eyes. "This isn't working. Isn't there a faster way to get this right?"
Mew brought a paw to her chin and thought. 'Well I suppose there is one thing we could try.'
"Really?! Tell me, tell me!" Kuki sprung her tail up and bounced towards Mew. Her eyes gleamed with excitement.
'Here's what we're gonna do. I'm going to lift you up a bit and then let go. When I do that, you're going to make yourself float by yourself, okay?'
Kuki drooped her tail and tilted her head. "Say what now?"
'You heard me.'
"Wai- hold on! I'm just gonna fall if you drop me. I don't wanna!"
Mew giggled and patted Kuki's head. 'Then don't, and you won't.'
'You have to trust me on this one, okay?'
Mew held Kuki's paws and gave her a reassuring smile. Slowly, Mew drifted up with her in tow. Kuki shuddered, gulping as she looked down. She didn't take her eyes off Mew even once.
'Kuki, I'm gonna let go now.'
"Wait! I'm not ready!"
'I know you can do it Kuki. One, two, three, off you go!'
Kuki shrieked, gravity showing no mercy. She sealed her eyes shut and flailed. When that failed to slow her fall, she bit her lip and braced for impact.
Mew teleported to the ground and created a pink bubble under Kuki, breaking the fall. Kuki shivered like she'd walked through a blizzard for hours. After realizing she'd stopped, she heaved a relieved sigh.
Mew giggled and popped the bubble. Kuki eeped, but she somehow landed on her feet. Her legs felt like wet noodles, so she fell back and sat on her rear.
Mew hovered beside her. 'Are you alright?'
"Uh Huh. It was sort of scary though," Kuki replied with a nervous laugh.
Mew raised a paw to her cheek and furrowed her brows. 'Oh… maybe we should leave this for later then. I don't wanna make you go that again since you're scared.'
Kuki shook her head and puffed her cheeks. "It's cause you didn't tell me you were gonna catch me!"
Mew scratched her cheek and chuckled. 'Well you wouldn't have tried to levitate on your own if you knew I was going to. You'd have felt too safe.'
"How're you gonna teach me now then? Now that I know, the same trick isn't really going to work a second time.' Kuki crossed her arms and tapped her foot on the ground. A light bulb then lit up in her head. "Let's do it this way then! If I stop myself from falling into the bubble, I win! But if you catch me, you win!"
Mew clapped her paws and smiled. 'Of course, it becomes much more fun if we turn it into a game! Let's add one more rule to spice things up. You only need to levitate by yourself once to win, okay? However, it's game over if I catch you in my bubble ten times, okay?'
Kuki balled her fist and punched the air. "Deal!"
'That's the spirit, Kuki!'
Mew held Kuki's paws and teleported them to the courtyard. The stench of burnt ashes filled the air around the courtyard, and Kuki gasped when she found a burnt circular patch on the grassy field.
Kuki held her snout and scrunched up her face. "What the heck happened here?! The grass… it's all ruined! Mew, did you use flamethrowers here or something?!"
'Oops! I forgot to clean this place up. Stand back a little, Kuki.' Mew shifted into a pidgeot and blasted the ashes away with a gust. She morphed back to her normal form and stuck her paw into the soil. A green wave radiated from her and reverberated back and forth across the field, sprouting a new grass bed until it completely blanketed the burnt area.
Mew placed her paws on her hips and smiled proudly. 'There! Nice and done!'
Kuki's eyes gleamed after watching the display. She bounced on her toes and clapped her hands repeatedly. "Teach me how to do that too!"
'Oh you, one thing at a time, Kuki,' Mew said, poking Kuki on the snout. 'Right now, we're trying to learn levitation.'
Kuki rubbed her nose and gruffed. "Fiiine!"
'Let's begin our game now, shall we?' Mew held Kuki's paws in the same fashion as before. Kuki looked back at her with a smirk. Her paws weren't trembling anymore. She had fire in her eyes.
Mew steadily hoisted them up until they were halfway up the height of the lighthouse. Kuki glanced at the ground beneath them, exhaling to calm her rapidly beating heart. She looked back at Mew then nodded. Mew smiled, then released Kuki's paws.
Kuki's fur danced in the turbulence and she spun around during her descent. She flailed her eyes to correct her fall and maybe even levitate, but she found herself looking at the familiar pink walls of the bubble again just a moment later.
'Looks like this counts as my win!' Mew chimed, sticking her head into the bubble.
Kuki leaned back against the bubble and huffed. "I'm gonna win next time!"
'We'll see about that.' Mew pulled her head out of the bubble.
They did seven more rounds and Mew had won every single one of them. Mew was starting to feel like she'd won already. While Kuki was fired up at the beginning, she had a frown by her ninth loss in a row.
'Only one round left Kuki,' Mew said with a wavering smile.
Kuki huffed when Mew popped the bubble. She clenched her paws at first, then she relaxed them and lowered her eyes with a sigh. "This isn't working. What am I doing wrong, Mew?"
Mew patted her on the head. 'Hey, it's alright if you don't get it now. We can always do this again when we get back. We won't be at Uxie's place for long, okay? Besides, we still have one more round to go, so you still have a chance, Kuki!'
Kuki gazed at her halfheartedly. "You think so?"
'Of course, so don't worry about it, okay?' Mew gasped and raised a finger. 'I know what will help! Why don't you try thinking of yourself as a kite? Kites float around right, so if you pretend to be one, maybe you'll levitate too!'
Kuki's eyes lit up and she smiled. "That's a good idea! I wanna try it!"
Mew chuckled. 'Alright then, up we go!'
Mew teleported them high up into the sky till they were almost near the clouds. Their island home looked tiny from up there, and Kuki almost felt dizzy from the altitude. She drew a breath and fixed her eyes on Mew's.
'Are you ready?'
'Remember. You're like a kite, my little kite.'
Kuki chuckled. "Let's do this!"
'Off you go then.'
Kuki dropped like a rock when Mew let her go. She gritted her teeth and forced her eyes open, watching the island below gradually grow in size. She spread her limbs wide like an emolga and pursed her lips.
I'm a kite! She repeated to herself. It wasn't hard to picture being one as she recalled when she and Mew were playing with the one she made the other day. Kuki closed her eyes, recalling how she couldn't get it into the air by running like she saw on TV, then Mew had to create a gust for her instead. It was quite an enjoyable day, even if the fun was cut short by bad weather.
Kuki snapped out of thoughts when her name was called. She found herself floating a few feet off the ground when she opened her eyes. Mew was already on the ground with a bubble ready for Kuki to land in.
'You did it, Kuki!' Mew chimed with gleaming eyes.
Kuki stared at her, then a smile slowly tugged at her lips. "I can't believe it! I really did it, Mew!" In her excitement, she did a flip in the air, but then she kept on spinning in place. "Make it stop, Mew!" she cried out.
Mew laughed and held Kuki in place, much to the latter's relief. 'I'm so proud of you, Kuki. I knew you'd be able to do it!' Mew said, hugging her tightly.
Kuki chuckled, then she squirmed out of Mew's hold. "This is so exciting! But how do I move around?" she asked while floating upside down.
Mew giggled and flipped her back upright. 'I'll show you how to do the rest of that later, but you'll probably get a feel for it yourself. However… Let's go down for a moment.'
Kuki tilted her head. "Why? Are we going to Aunt Uxie already?"
'Not yet. I just want to see if you can levitate on your own now, so I don't have to drop you from the sky every time.'
Kuki brushed her tail against the grass, watching in amusement that moving the new appendage had already begun to feel natural to her. She wagged her tail back and forth and even twisted it to form a spiral.
'Alright, Kuki, try levitating off the ground on your own. Oh, you mustn't jump to do it, okay? Else it wouldn't count.'
Kuki stopped playing with her tail. She took a deep breath and remembered the sensation of weightlessness again.
"Look, Mew, I did it again! This is so cool!" Kuki chimed, bouncing on her feet. "I'm gonna miss this when I turn back to normal."
Mew giggled. 'You won't have to miss it. You're going to always be a pokemon from now on!'
"Really?… I'm not gonna turn back? Being a pokemon is nice and all, but I dunno…"
Mew tilted her head, noticing Kuki's mood shift. 'Well I don't really know. Uxie can probably answer that for you. Besides, you'll probably learn to shapeshift just like me, so you can be whatever you want!'
Kuki rubbed her elbow and pursed her lips. "Oh… okay!"
Mew patted her on the head and smiled. 'Don't worry about it, Kuki. Everything will be fine. Come on, let's go.'
Kuki nodded. She hovered to Mew and then the two departed swiftly.
Mew teleported them to Nacrene City . They had to wait until it was midnight to make sure there weren't any people around. When the coast was clear, she teleported them into the library where they found Uxie stacking a pile of books.
'I had been expecting you, Mew,' Uxie said, turning around to face them.
Mew gasped. 'Whoa! How did you know I was coming?'
'I felt a surge of power from the direction of your home roughly a day ago. I figured you were bound to show up soon,' Uxie said with a half shrug.
Kuki peeked over from behind Mew. "H-hi Auntie!"
Uxie turned her eyes to her and drifted closer to the pair. 'Interesting. You're Kuki, aren't you?'
'Aww, don't be shy, Kuki. Weren't you all excited about coming before?' Mew said, caressing Kuki's head.
'Come, let me have a closer look at you,' Uxie beckoned with a hand towards her.
Kuki nodded. She hovered and sat in front of Uxie while avoiding eye contact. 'You're nervous because I look different than you remember, right?'
Kuki looked at her surprised. "Yeah! Being so small feels so weird!"
Uxie smiled and made a subtle hand gesture. 'Is that so?'
Mew hovered forward with her paw over her chin. 'Anyway, what do you think about her, Uxie? Is there anything about her right now that I should be worried about? Is she going to be fine?'
Uxie placed her hands over Kuki's cheeks. She tilted Kuki's head both ways and hummed again. Uxie then opened her eyes and locked her gaze with Kuki's.
Kuki's mind immediately grew fuzzy as she stared into Uxie's eyes. She wondered if Uxie was using hypnosis on her, but she could still feel her surroundings and Mew standing beside her.
"Why are you looking… At me like that?" Kuki asked in her drowsy state.
'Kuki, do you remember anything that happened while you were in the orb?'
"Whu…? Not really."
'What is the last thing you remember before you woke up today?'
Kuki furrowed her eyes and hummed. "Mew said something bad happened to me while I was waiting for her to take me somewhere. I don't remember though."
'I see,' Uxie said, letting go of Kuki's face.
Kuki rubbed her temple and groaned. Mew hovered over and held Kuki in her arms when she saw her wobbling in place.
Uxie shut her eyes back to slits again and looked at Mew. 'As I expected, her memories are impossible for me to reach. It is no coincidence that she emerged in your likeness.'
Mew narrowed her eyes slightly. 'What do you mean?'
'She can create her own genesis. It is still weak, but it is growing. You can sense it too, can't you?'
Mew sighed. 'Oh, so that's what it was? Here I thought it was going to be something scarier. If Kuki is just like me, that makes me much happier now.'
Uxie gave her a faint smile then hovered back to the book pile behind them. 'That's one way to see things, I suppose. You've created another Mew, one who may eventually be able to do everything you can do and possibly more. I don't know what the future may hold for you two, but I'd advise you do your best to guide her. I'll always welcome you here should you need some of my guidance.'
Mew nodded with a smile. 'You have my utmost gratitude, Uxie.'
Kuki finally gained enough strength to push herself off Mew. She looked at Uxie with worried eyes. "Auntie, am I going to be a pokemon forever?"
Uxie tilted her head. 'Probably, yes. Does being a pokemon bother you, Kuki? I suppose it's natural since it's much different than how you've lived your life to this point.'
Kuki lowered her eyes and clenched her paws. Mew pulled her close and smiled. 'It'll be alright, Kuki. Being a pokemon is great! You'll see.'
Kuki smiled wryly. Then she looked away and stared vacantly at the bookshelves in the room.
'Let's go home, Kuki.' Mew held Kuki's paw and nodded at Uxie. 'See you around, Uxie.'
Kuki waved her paw at her as well. "Goodnight, Auntie!"
'Goodnight, you two.'
Uxie sighed after the two left, staring blankly at a book she'd picked up. 'I wonder if more people were able to sense Kuki's awakening. To think that Mew was able to create another version of herself this way. I suppose now she'd feel less lonely about her existence.'
Uxie stared vacantly. She lamented not being able to see the Kuki's memories to confirm one last thing, but that would have to wait until later.
Mew yawned when they returned home. She plopped on the bed and stretched her hind limbs. 'Phew, I sure am sleepy! Let's go to bed, Kuki.'
"Okie." Kuki's eyes lacked even a shred of exhaustion. She wondered if it's because of how long she'd been asleep before.
Kuki joined her on the bed and imitated Mew in stretching her limbs and laid beside her. The bed felt softer and many times larger. Yet another thing she'd have to get used to.
'I wonder what I'm going to teach you how to do tomorrow. Maybe I can show you how to turn invisible, or how to make other things float!' Mew giggled, then yawned again. 'That will probably be easier, but it takes a while to learn. It's okay, though; we have all the time in the world, right Kuki?'
"Oh… yeah totally," Kuki nodded passively, only half listening to Mew.
Mew closed her eyes and smiled. 'I can't wait for tomorrow to come. We're gonna have lots of fun.'
Kuki stared vacantly at the wall for the next few hours while Mew slept soundly behind her. Something bothered Kuki, and her chest had been feeling heavy for quite a while.
Eventually, Kuki sat up and sighed. She glanced at Mew beside her then she turned her attention to the TV across them. She stared at it for a minute, then she got up and hovered to it.
Kuki furrowed her brows and sighed. She considered turning it on, but she decided against it. Doing so would probably wake Mew up. She'd have to distract herself some other way.
Kuki glanced at the movie shelf on the room side. Her mood lit up a little. She floated to the third bookshelf on the top and drifted to the CD case on the middle left. The weight of the case almost dragged her down when she pulled it from the shelf. She heaved a relieved sigh and floated back to the ground.
Even though she couldn't watch it then, The Lotus Prince always brightened her up. She began to hum the opening tune to herself as she ran her fingers across the case.
I can't wait to become a star too someda—
That thought was cut short as soon as it came across her mind. She dropped the case and stared at her paws. Can she even still become a star? Did she even have to now that she's just like Mew?
Kuki shelved those thoughts for later. She returned to their bed, curled up next to Mew, and went to sleep.
That will be all for this chapter. Thank you so much for reading this chapter and i apologize it took this long. Had a couple busy days, but i made it eventually. If you enjoyed the chapter and or want to share your thoughts on it, please leave a review down below. Your feedback is what keeps me going and i greatly appreciate it!
Update 20/03/20: Changed the last two paragraphs in light of a shift in story direction.