Back in the Smurf Village, the Smurflings were trying to ask Tracker if they could do a hiking trip sometime to Psychelia.
"Absolutely not!" Tracker said. "Papa Smurf would not allow us to smurf near that place!"
"But why not?" Snappy asked. "Aren't you the least bit curious to see what that place smurfs like?"
"Empath says that this Psyche Master does not like having outsiders smurfing around near the place," Tracker said. "It would be an insult, not to mention utter smurficide, for us to smurf such a daring journey."
"But Empath could smurf along with us and make sure we smurf our distance so that the Psyches wouldn't smurf us, couldn't he?" Nat asked.
"I don't think Empath would agree to that, Smurflings," Tracker said.
"Smurflings, Smurflings, Smurflings," Brainy chimed in with his usual lecturing tone, "as much curious as we are to find out where these legendary Psyches live, I would have to agree with my brother and say that venturing too close to the borders of Psychelia is particularly dangerous. I'm sure there are other important areas beyond the Smurf forest that Tracker and Empath can take you on a hiking trip to."
"Aw, gee, and I was smurfing forward to smurfing what the temple of this Psyche Master smurfed like," Sassette moaned.
"Who smurfs in such a place all day smurfing orders to those Psyches while he smurfs nothing?" Snappy asked.
"Papa Smurf smurfs most of his time in his laboratory smurfing experiments while the rest of the Smurfs smurf care of business," Slouchy commented.
"That's just not the same, Slouchy," Nat said.
"Yeah, even Papa Smurf smurfs out of that laboratory once in a while," Snappy said. "This Psyche Master doesn't smurf out for anything."
"I wonder how he even smurfs food," Sassette said.
"I'm sure these are all wonderful questions we would like to see answered, my little Smurflings," Brainy said. "But all the same, we should respect Papa Smurf's orders that we are not to venture anywhere near Psychelia, unless we want to find ourselves smurfing with the Psyches."
"Yes, Brainy," all four of the Smurflings said rather humbly.
Just then Smurfette appeared. "What is it that the Smurflings wanted with you two?" she asked.
"Brainy and Tracker said that Papa Smurf won't allow us to smurf a hiking trip near Psychelia so that we could smurf it for ourselves," Snappy said.
"We're only trying to relay orders that come from Papa Smurf regarding such a journey, Smurfette," Brainy said.
"And I for once would have to agree with Brainy on this," Tracker said.
"Oh dear," Smurfette said. "I was hoping to someday smurf this place for myself, just to understand what Empath was smurfing about when he smurfs about being in Psychelia."
"Smurfette, you're not seriously considering smurfing such a dangerous journey," Brainy said.
"Not by myself, Brainy, but with Empath smurfing with me," Smurfette said. "I know Empath will smurf me safe."
"Smurfette, this is not about your personal safety here," Brainy said. "This is about keeping our whole village safe from the Psyches, because Empath keeps smurfing us how dangerous the Psyches can be, particularly with the Psyche Master smurfing down our necks, and Papa Smurf and Empath would say that it's just not worth smurfing the risk, and furthermore..."
Brainy was interrupted by the sight of Empath flying into the village carrying Polaris with him. "Dabbler! Medic! Get the infirmary ready!" he called out as soon as he landed.
Smurfette rushed to join Empath as Brainy, Tracker, and the Smurflings followed him to the infirmary. Dabbler and Medic met him there with the door to the infirmary open.
"What's smurfing on, Empath?" Smurfette asked as he laid Polaris onto a bed.
"This smurf has found Polaris in the forest, being attacked," Empath said. "He lost consciousness. This smurf is going to try to revive him."
"That is a Psyche?" Tracker asked, curious of who he saw.
"A Psyche?" the Smurflings said to themselves. "Smurfabunga!"
"I'm going to tell Papa Smurf about this, Empath," Brainy said as he left the infirmary.
"What can we do to help, Empath?" Smurfette asked as she looked on Polaris.
"You can stay with him to help this smurf in his recovery, Smurfette," Empath said. "The rest of you should clear out and try to keep this information about a Psyche being in our village to our minimum."
"Is smurfing him in our village dangerous, Empath?" Smurfette asked.
"The Psyche Master considers all Psyches to be his personal property, Smurfette," Empath said. "If this smurf knows what those Psychelian Guards will do, they will most likely report this to the Psyche Master, drawing his attention to having him retrieved as soon as possible."
Smurfette gasped. "I'm not sure I like the smurf of this, Empath!"
"Right now, this smurf is curious as to why my friend here, Polaris Psyche, has escaped from Psychelia," Empath said. "This isn't what a Psyche would normally do."
Smurfette held one of Polaris' hands as she knelt by his bedside and looked at his face. It was like she could feel the same sadness that came from Empath whenever he talked about Psychelia just from that expression alone. She could only hope that nobody would have to live in such a dismal place.
The two Guard Elites quickly entered the Psyche Master's chambers. Somehow they sensed that he knew of their failure and wanted to hear it straight from them. "Why have you returned without the runaway Psyche?" the Psyche Master demanded.
"We have encountered a problem, Psyche Master," one of the Guard Elite answered. "An outsider member of Species 0002 has fought with us over the possession of the runaway Psyche and has taken him. He has the same power and skill as a trained Psyche."
"I know of whom you speak," the Psyche Master said. "He has most likely taken the runaway Psyche back to his village to offer asylum. We cannot permit him to do so."
"What are your orders, Psyche Master?" the other Guard Elite asked.
"Take a squadron of the Guard Elite to this village and confront its leader, Papa Smurf. Give him and his people the opportunity to release the Psyche unto you. If they refuse, use force to release him from their grasp. But do not under any circumstances annihilate them. Is that acknowledged?"
"Psyche Master, these people are savages," one of the Guard Elite objected. "Surely by eliminating them, they would no longer pose a threat."
"Species 0002 is my concern, not yours," the Psyche Master countered. "If I wanted them destroyed, I would have ordered all of Psychelia to do so already. With only one member of their species possessing our power, they would be greatly outnumbered. You have your orders. Make sure they are carried out."
"This one acknowledges, Psyche Master," each of the Guard Elite said as they bowed before the Psyche Master and then left.
Despite Empath's orders, news about the Psyche being in the Smurf Village had quickly spread to the rest of the populace. They began to discuss among themselves things such as what this being looked like and what it would mean for the entire village to have such a visitor. Even Hefty with his team of workers at the village dam heard the news. And Hefty for one was not happy to hear it.
"That's just great," he muttered. "We already have one star-smurfed freak in this village; why would we need two of them, and one that obviously isn't a Smurf?"
There was pretty much a crowd gathered outside the infirmary by the time Papa Smurf got to its entrance. "Why are all you Smurfs just smurfing around here for?" he asked, sounding rather annoyed.
"It's the Psyche that Empath had smurfed into the village, Papa Smurf," one of the Smurfs answered. "We wanted to see for ourselves what he smurfed like."
And pretty much the other Smurfs in the crowd have said similar things until Papa Smurf silenced them.
"This is a rather delicate situation we're smurfing here, my little Smurfs," Papa Smurf said. "It would be best if you all left Empath and this Psyche alone and let us handle this. Return to your own duties at once!"
"Yes, Papa Smurf!" they all said in unison as they departed from the entrance of the infirmary.
The village leader went inside and found Empath and Smurfette sitting beside Polaris Psyche lying on a bed. "What is the meaning of this?" he asked Empath.
"Papa Smurf, this is Polaris Psyche," Empath said. "This smurf found him being chased after and attacked by the Psychelian Guard Elite. He was unconscious by the time this smurf has reached him and this smurf is trying to resuscitate him."
"Smurfette, I would like to smurf a moment alone with Empath," Papa Smurf said.
Empath understood what Papa Smurf wanted to speak to him privately about. "This smurf will take Papa Smurf into the next room, Smurfette," he said. "You just continue to sit beside Polaris and monitor his condition and let this smurf know if he awakens."
"I understand, Empath," Smurfette said, looking at Empath briefly before her attention was turned back to her patient.
As soon as they entered the next room, Papa Smurf went straight to the matter at hand. "Do you have any idea what you have smurfed by smurfing this...Psyche into our village?" he asked, trying to keep his voice low.
"That Psyche happens to be this smurf's friend, Papa Smurf," Empath said. "He escaped Psychelia, and this smurf wants to know why."
"As soon as 'your friend' awakens, Empath, I want you to smurf him home as soon as possible," Papa Smurf said.
"Papa Smurf, he was being attacked by the Psychelian Guard Elite," Empath said. "Those energy spears they carry emit powerful charges that can cripple a person. He has to have time to fully recover from the attack before he can be returned to his people."
"All the same, I don't feel comfortable smurfing this...Psyche in our village," Papa Smurf said.
"Papa Smurf, please don't tell this smurf that your experience with the Psyche Master has colored your opinion about the Psyches to the point that you would hold grudges against them," Empath said. "This Psyche is this smurf's friend...he isn't like the others."
"This is not about my prejudices, Empath," Papa Smurf shouted before speaking a little lower again. "This is about the safety of the village. If the Psyche Master even knows that we're smurfing one of his Psyches in our village, he's going to attack our village."
"This smurf is hoping it would not come to that, Papa Smurf," Empath said. "But if it does, this smurf was hoping that you would offer a defense that would allow us to have some time so that Polaris could recover, or at least get him out of the village as soon and safely as possible."
"I will smurf what I can, and I will warn my other little Smurfs about what may be smurfing," Papa Smurf said. "But make sure that when the time smurfs that you smurf the safety of the Smurf Village first and smurf this friend of yours home soon. Is that understood?"
Empath nodded. "This smurf acknowledges, Papa Smurf," he said.
"Empath," Smurfette called out, "Polaris is awake and wants to smurf with you."
Empath went back to Polaris' bed where he saw that Polaris' eyes were now open. He was taking a look around the infirmary when his gaze was fixed on Smurfette. Polaris could sense that Polaris had never seen a female Smurf before and that his reaction upon seeing her was similar to Empath's. Smurfette then rose from her chair and allowed Empath to sit in it so he could talk to Polaris.
"Empath," he began to speak. "You have changed your appearance since the last time we met."
"Salutations, Polaris," Empath greeted. "How are you feeling?"
"Barely functioning," Polaris replied with a groan. "This one would not have escaped the grasp of the Guard Elite without your help."
"This smurf will always come to your rescue, Polaris," Empath said. He then turned to Papa Smurf and Smurfette, who understood that he wanted some privacy. They both walked off into the other room and left Empath and Polaris alone.
"This was not exactly how this one wanted to visit your village, Empath," Polaris spoke. "This one has brought you and your people nothing but trouble."
"Polaris, why are you running away from Psychelia?" Empath asked. "As a matter of fact, why are you still remembering this smurf? The Psyche Master should have wiped your memory of this smurf and everything this smurf shared with you completely from your mind."
"The Psyche Master has tried to erase this one's memory of you, Empath," Polaris explained. "But the bond between us could not be broken as easily as bonds between fellow Psyches can. This one had an overwhelming sense of incompleteness, of emptiness, without you in this one's life in Psychelia. It is what is drawing this one to find you."
"The bonding ritual," Empath realized. "This smurf should have known it was never meant to be used with beings that were not Psyches."
"We were both ignorant of the consequences, Empath," Polaris said. "It is probably the reason that the Psyche Master forbids us to have physical contact with alien races. By this one's bonding with you, you have permanently contaminated this one to the point where this one now feels like an outsider among his own kind."
"That was never this smurf's intent, Polaris," Empath remarked. "It just makes this smurf wish that the bonding ritual had never happened. You would have been much better off never knowing who and what this smurf really is."
"Empath, this one does not regret ever knowing who you really are," Polaris said. "You have allowed this one to know the truth of your own people, which the Psyche Master has forbidden the other Psyches to know. This one is grateful in that you would have such confidence in this one."
Smurf to Part 4