Empath carried Smurfette into Papa Smurf's laboratory, where he used his minds-eye to examine her condition. Her eyes had still not opened. "How is Smurfette smurfing?" Papa Smurf asked out of concern.
"She's still functioning, Papa Smurf," Empath replied, finishing his examination, "but there seems to be two personalities residing in her physical form — one that came from another physical form that got implanted inside Smurfette and is trying to envelope and devour the other, which is Smurfette's own personality. This smurf has no idea which of the two will take dominance, but they both cannot possess the same physical form at the same time for too long." He sensed some stirring from within Smurfette's brain. "The implanted personality is awakening inside Smurfette."
Suddenly her eyes opened. Smurfette looked at Empath with some disdain. "Where is Polaris Psyche?" she demanded in a voice that didn't sound like Smurfette. "I must be with him so that he and I will not be alone!"
"Who are you that took over Smurfette's body?" Empath demanded. "Are you Elatia?"
"That's who I am, Empath," she answered scornfully. "You are not helping us by not telling me where Polaris is. I want him to show me around this village if he truly cares about me."
"Polaris is safely held in our custody, Elatia, and he will not be released until it is proven that what he did to Smurfette caused her no harm," Empath answered.
Smurfette looked away for a bit as if listening to another voice inside her head. Then as Elatia, she said, "Smurfette has not been harmed for right now, Empath. She still lives inside this body and will be released when a new female body is found for my spirit."
"Unfortunately, you can't remain in Smurfette's body forever, Elatia," Empath warned. "If you keep holding Smurfette's spirit hostage inside her own body for too long, she could possibly die. Is that what you want Polaris to see you as — a selfish spirit who would kill another just so she could live inside a body that she doesn't belong in?"
"No!" Smurfette as Elatia shouted. "I won't give up this body until another suitable one can be found. That's all I'm asking of you Smurfs! Why can't you give me this?"
"Elatia, smurfing a new physical body for you is difficult to smurf, even for a sorceror as mysmurf," Papa Smurf tried to reason. "Smurfette is a Smurf who was created by another wizard who intended to smurf her to destroy us. It took her desire to change and my magic to transsmurf her from an artificial creation into being a real Smurf like the rest of us. The ingredients for smurfing a physical body are a little hard to smurf by, even in this forest."
"I don't care how long it takes!" Elatia snorted. "I just want a new body, and if I can't have a new body, I'll take Smurfette's body as my own. I'm sorry that Smurfette will have to give up what was hers, but she will understand that it's for a greater good than her own."
Empath, please help me, Smurfette's own personality pleaded out to Empath's own thoughts. I need your strength to smurf on a bit longer.
This smurf will continue to stand beside you, Smurfette, in spirit as well as in form, Empath replied through his telepathy. Remember that you also have strength from within to resist what Elatia is doing to you.
"You are trying to make Smurfette fight me, Empath," Elatia said boldly. "She will not succeed; if she continues resisting, I will simply destroy her as quickly as I took over her body."
"You don't know how strong Smurfette is, Elatia," Empath responded. "Her love for her fellow Smurfs and for all living beings is her greatest strength of all. She cares about everyone, and she would even care about you, in whatever form you happen to be. But the only thing she won't do is let somebody take over her own body and destroy her soul by force. She would rather give her life freely as a Smurf than be forced to do so for someone else. We can go back into the Imaginarium and have you removed from Smurfette's body without any harm so you can continue to live while we find a way to create a living female body for you."
"Please, Empath, don't make me go back in there!" Elatia pleaded, her eyes wet with tears. "I have been trapped in there for too long. I don't want to go back into a world of make-believe as just a spirit. I want to live in the real world as a real person right now."
We're going to have to stall Elatia as long as we can, Papa Smurf, until we can figure out how to resolve this situation, Empath suggested, communicating to him only through telepathy.
I will go and smurf with Polaris about why he smurfed this to Smurfette while you concentrate on smurfing Smurfette from being smurfed by Elatia, Papa Smurf responded to Empath, speaking only through thought.
Empath nodded and continued to monitor Smurfette while Papa Smurf left the laboratory.
Polaris was in the safehouse, meditating to keep himself from being overcome by anxiety, when Hefty unlocked the door, allowing Papa Smurf to enter. "How are you being smurfed in here, Polaris?" Papa Smurf asked, still angry but at least being civil.
"This one has been treated well, Papa Smurf," Polaris answered. "Tapper has returned this one's clothing which this one has left behind in the Imaginarium this morning, which Hefty has handed over to this one."
"I know that Empath trusts you with his very life, but what has made you decide to smurf this thing to Smurfette without even asking her?" Papa Smurf asked.
"This one knows it may be impossible for you to believe, Papa Smurf, but this one believes that Elatia was a living being that was somehow trapped inside the Imaginarium," Polaris answered.
"After 548 years of smurfing in this world, Polaris, anything that happens in the forest would not be much of a surprise," Papa Smurf said. "But if what you're smurfing is correct, you've still endangered Smurfette's life with this reckless decision of yours. Right now, both Elatia and Smurfette are smurfing with each other, trying to smurf control over her body."
"This one apologizes for endangering Smurfette, Papa Smurf," Polaris said. "This one wishes to know what exactly to do in order to make amends for her."
Papa Smurf sighed. "Elatia's personality wants to smurf with you, Polaris. Although I'm not sure releasing you from here would be a smurfy idea, I wouldn't know what else to suggest at this time." He called out to Hefty who opened the door. "Hefty, your duty to smurf over Polaris for right now is relieved. I'll be smurfing Polaris with me so that we can smurf care of this situation."
Hefty looked at Polaris suspiciously, but he nonetheless obeyed Papa Smurf. He stepped aside and allowed Papa Smurf and Polaris to leave the safehouse.
"Empath has told this one years ago about Hefty feeling jealous of Empath's minds-eye abilities and his mistrust of anyone with those abilities, including this one, Papa Smurf," Polaris mentioned. "He said that it was all because Hefty believed himself to be the most valuable Smurf out of all his own fellow Smurfs, primarily since he was the first one born among them."
"Hefty is allowed to believe whatever he believes, Polaris, as long as he knows not to let his beliefs smurf in the way of interacting with the community," Papa Smurf responded. "Nonetheless, you shouldn't allow Hefty's beliefs about you to undersmurf your own personal worth among others in the village. You are the only Psyche we have smurfing with us, and as much I have difficulty smurfing aside my prejudices for Psyches, I feel you may prove yoursmurf to be a valuable member of this village someday."
Polaris didn't expect to hear this from Papa Smurf. It was only about a month ago that Papa Smurf didn't even want Polaris to be in the village when Empath brought him home after he had escaped Psychelia and was chased after by the Guardian Elite. But now Papa Smurf was counting on Polaris for ways to protect the village in case something worse than Gargamel should attack. It would sour the relationship if anything terrible should happen to Smurfette beyond what he currently had done to her.
Elatia in Smurfette's body was still in Papa Smurf's laboratory, acting so uncooperative in Empath's presence, when Papa Smurf entered with Polaris. "Elatia, we have smurfed Polaris to interact with you for the time smurfing," Papa Smurf told her.
Elatia turned to see Polaris. "Oh, there you are!" she chirped, smiling as he reached out to touch her face. "I was beginning to believe the other Smurfs won't allow me to see you anymore!"
"Elatia, this one now knows what Papa Smurf has told this one about you being in Smurfette's body," Polaris explained, feeling uncertain about returning her affections. "This one knows you cannot stay in her form with her own personality being held hostage and unable to communicate with any other Smurf."
"But can you at least show me around this village?" Elatia asked. "I haven't seen anything real for a long time, and I don't wish to stay in here for too long, either."
Polaris thought about that for a moment, looking to Empath and Papa Smurf as if either of them would offer a suggestion. Neither of the two said anything, but he knew what they were thinking.
"This one will escort you around the village, Elatia," he finally said, guiding her gently off the table and onto her feet. "But if things get to the point where Smurfette needs to regain control of her body, this one is taking you straight back to Papa Smurf's house."
"I promise you, Polaris, that I won't do anything to harm Smurfette," Elatia responded.
Empath and Papa Smurf watched as Polaris left with Elatia in Smurfette's body. Papa Smurf could see that Empath was feeling uneasy as well about letting Polaris go about the village with Elatia in Smurfette's body, wondering how things will go before something wrong happens.
"We just have to be patient and trusting, my little Empath," Papa Smurf finally responded, more out of a need to say something than really knowing what to say.
Empath nodded in acceptance.
Though it was still rainy outside, Elatia was ecstatic that she was able to see the outside world again. "This place is so marvelous, Polaris!" she exclaimed. "I know from the other Smurfs how this village looks, but to see it for myself with these eyes and with this body...!" She danced around in total exuberance over her newfound freedom.
"Please try to control yourself, Elatia," Polaris warned, stepping in to stop her in midwhirl. "This one can sense your feeling of liberation, but you are still in Smurfette's body and this one would not want her body to be violated in any way possible."
"Oh, Polaris," Elatia giggled, gently touching his face. "You're such a noble being, to protect another female even within my presence. Come, show me the places that the other Smurfs talk about, including the tavern that this Tapper Smurf runs."
Polaris felt Elatia tugging on his hand holding hers. She was looking at him with eyes that spoke of Elatia...but Polaris could still feel Smurfette's presence, acting as a barrier to prevent him from getting too close to this female using her body. He sighed as he allowed Elatia to drag him around like an unruly child being sent to bed.
"Is the village that you come from...the place called Psychelia...is that anywhere as beautiful as this Smurf Village that you now call home?" Elatia asked.
"This one has never thought of looking at what was once this one's home in terms of what you would call beauty, Elatia," Polaris answered. "Psychelia was designed with functionality as its purpose, to properly house those who are created in the image of the Psyche Master as well as the Psyche Master himself, in addition to protecting us from those who would dare invade or otherwise try to destroy the domain."
"The Psyche Master is a being you would call god, Polaris?" Elatia asked.
"The Psyche Master is a living entity who is both a physical being and an energy being," Polaris answered. "He has created us and has directed us in our daily lives to grow in our goal to serve him as he sees fit for us. We give reverence to the Psyche Master for all that he has provided for us, and we respond favorably to his discipline should we disobey him. If that is what you would call a god, Elatia, then the Psyche Master would be that definition of one."
"It's interesting that the Smurfs honor other gods that live among them and yet allow them to live freely without any fear of punishment," Elatia commented.
"Empath has told this one that even living freely in this community does not mean living without a set of basic rules and guidelines that govern proper behavior, Elatia," Polaris responded. "A rule that has no consequence for disobeying it, no recognition of how bad the consequences are, is not a rule at all, either here or in Psychelia."
Just then Jokey had approached Polaris and Smurfette. "Hey, Smurfette, what you're smurfing with Polaris on a day like this?" he asked with a hint of slyness, though he had no idea that Elatia had taken control of Smurfette's body.
Elatia pretended to respond in a way Jokey would expect from Smurfette. "Oh, nothing really, Jokey. I just haven't smurfed the opportunity to smurf Polaris around the village, and you know how busy Empath is, smurfing things that Papa Smurf has no time for smurfing with the other Smurfs."
"Well, how about smurfing open a little surprise I happen to have smurfed for you?" Jokey asked, presenting her one of his exploding giftboxes.
"That would not be necessary, Jokey," Polaris refused politely. "Smurfette has already accepted enough of your 'surprises' to..."
"I would be more than happy to smurf open your present for me, Jokey," Elatia interrupted, taking the giftbox from Jokey's hands. "You'll have to excuse Polaris...he's just trying to smurf out for me and make sure nothing unsmurfy happens to me!"
Jokey and Polaris watched as Elatia opened the giftbox, only for it to explode as usual. He laughed at her shocked expression when she realized what kind of present it was.
"Surprise!" Jokey exclaimed as he laughed. "I can still smurf you every time, Smurfette! That's one of the things I like about smurfing you my surprises."
Polaris just rolled his eyes while Elatia's expression changed from shock to humor, realizing that Jokey had not intended to harm or insult her. "You smurftainly do that well, Jokey. Thank you for your surprise...I enjoyed smurfing it open to find out what it was."
Jokey stopped laughing and just looked at her in bemusement. He basically didn't expect who he thought was Smurfette to ever thank him for playing a joke on her. Not that being thanked for playing a joke on whoever he played it on was an insult to his own talent...it was just something Jokey never expected to hear from anybody.
"This one believes Jokey would be more than surprised himself to realize that it wasn't Smurfette that he 'smurfed his surprise' on, Elatia," Polaris commented after they had walked away from Jokey. "You have handled that situation with a grace that only someone like Empath or this one could handle."
"Believe me, Polaris...after being inside a crystal for many years, allowing myself to be the butt of somebody's prank is the least of my problems," Elatia responded. She dipped her hands into a barrel full of rainwater and washed away the smudges on her face when she saw the reflection of Smurfette looking back at her on the water's surface, looking as if Smurfette herself was accusing her from within. She recoiled in shock and backed away from the barrel into Polaris' arms, frightened.
Polaris could sense a moment when Smurfette's spirit was active, trying to remind Elatia of whose body she was inside. "Do you want to return to Papa Smurf's laboratory?" he asked as he held onto her.
Elatia looked at Polaris as if he had made a dumb suggestion. "Of course not, Polaris!" she snapped. "I should be able to handle living like this...as long as Smurfette stops bothering me about being inside her body!" She shook herself free from Polaris and walked on ahead of him.
Polaris was beginning to wonder more about Elatia. She began to sound even more possessive about being inside another's physical form.