Some Smurfs have gathered around outside the infirmary after Empath and Papa Smurf have entered into it with Polaris. "Can somebody tell me what's smurfing on here?" Brainy asked.
"It's Polaris, laddie," Duncan answered. "He just smurfed to the ground for no reason after me and him were sparring together. I just hope that the dear boy is all right."
"Gosh, Duncan, is it really that serious?" Clumsy asked.
"Of course it's that serious, Clumsy," Brainy answered. "Why else would Papa Smurf come to the infirmary with Empath unless it's something that could be life-smurfening?"
"Oh dear, is Baby Smurf all right?" Smurfette asked.
"Baby Smurf's fine, lassie," Duncan answered. "The Smurflings are smurfing care of the little darling right now. All I'm worried about now is our pale-smurfed friend and what's smurfing on with him."
"Well, that's not going to smurf well with my complexion if anything does happen to Polaris," Vanity said as he glanced into his mirror.
"And it's surely not going to be funny at all," Jokey said, sounding just as worried as everybody else.
"I hate not-funny-at-all situations," Grouchy said.
Tapper joined the group outside the infirmary. "I was busy smurfing in my tavern when I have smurfed in my spirit that I had to be here right now," he said to Duncan.
"Well, laddie, your prayers are certainly welcome in this situation," Duncan said. "Polaris had just smurfed down to the ground after our sparring session, and there was nothing wrong with him before that."
"Great Smurfiny Crickets, that's what I was smurfing in my spirit," Tapper said. "Empath must be worried that this could mean the end of his friendship with Polaris."
"We're going to find out what it is and see what we can smurf to help our friend out in any way possible, Tapper," Duncan said.
Tapper nodded with understanding. "We can only pray, my friend."
Polaris slowly opened his eyes and found himself lying on an infirmary bed, with Empath and Papa Smurf standing by him. Somehow he felt weak, as if even trying to move was taking a good deal of effort. "What...what had happened?" Polaris asked.
"You fell down after your sparring session with Duncan, Polaris," Empath answered. "This smurf had sensed that it was a very serious situation and this smurf brought you to the infirmary as soon as possible."
"Where's Baby Smurf?" Polaris asked. "This one was watching over him today and..."
"The Smurflings are now watching over Baby Smurf at this moment, Polaris," Papa Smurf answered. "He'll be fine, but he's just as worried as the rest of us are about you."
"So why did this one just fall down after a sparring session?" Polaris asked, curious to find out.
"This smurf had just thoroughly scanned you while you were unconscious, and has found out...that you are dying," Empath answered with some difficulty. "It seems as if every part of your body is beginning to shut down. At this rate, you have only a few days to live, maybe even less."
Polaris sighed. "Then it has begun. It is the degeneration."
"What do you mean, the 'degeneration'?" Papa Smurf asked.
"The Psyches are given a degenerative disease that's been implanted into us from the moment we were created by the Psyche Master, Papa Smurf," Polaris explained. "We can only live outside the collective conscience of the Psychelian community for about a year, after which time our bodies begin to shut down and we perish."
"So the Psyche Master allowed you to live with us in the Smurf Village...only so you can die a year later?" Papa Smurf asked.
"That is exactly what Polaris is saying, Papa Smurf," Empath said, realizing it for himself. "This whole thing is my fault. This smurf should never have given Polaris any reason to want to leave Psychelia in the first place."
"You should not blame yourself for what you have shared with this one all those years we have been together, Empath," Polaris said. "Somehow having to leave Psychelia to be with you seemed like...the inevitable thing to happen."
"We're not going to let you leave to join the Ancestors just yet, Polaris," Empath said. "We're going to find a way to beat this and make sure you're still living past today and tomorrow."
"This one is prepared to join the Ancestors, Empath," Polaris said. "The only thing this one needs is time to say his farewells to all the friends this one has made in the Smurf Village over the past year."
"Polaris, we are going to find a way to let you live," Papa Smurf said resolutely. "Just try not to smurf away from us before we can find it."
Polaris nodded. "This one understands and acknowledges, Papa Smurf."
Empath and Papa Smurf went off into another room to discuss the matter in private while Doctor Smurf came to tend to Polaris' medical needs. "The truth is, Empath, that I don't know how we're going to help Polaris if we don't know how Psyches were smurfed into being in the first place," Papa Smurf said.
"There must be something in your books that can help creatures like Psyches live long lives without the need of being in a collective conscience, Papa Smurf," Empath said.
"I will try to smurf for something in those books, Empath, but trust me, this whole matter is just a smurf in the dark, and if we don't have any idea how we can treat a Psyche with this...disease, I don't think any of our remedies would even matter at this point," Papa Smurf said.
"Then this means that this smurf will have to visit Psychelia to see if there's anything the Psyche Master is willing to divulge to this smurf, Papa Smurf," Empath said.
"At least that's a start," Papa Smurf said. "I will stay here and smurf on my research for the answers until you return, while Doctor will smurf here in the infirmary to do anything to make your friend more comfortable before he smurfs away...if there's anything that we can't smurf to prevent it."
Empath nodded. "This smurf understands and acknowledges, Papa Smurf. You have been a great father to Polaris ever since you let him live in our village."
"And you have been a great friend to him since before then, Empath," Papa Smurf said, accepting the compliment.
Tapper and Duncan McSmurf greeted Empath as soon as he left the infirmary. "Empath, my good friend, what has happened to our friend Polaris?" Tapper asked.
"Is the laddie going to be all right?" Duncan asked.
"Polaris is dying, my friends," Empath answered. "It is a degenerative disease that has been implanted in all Psyches that activates itself a year after they leave the collective conscience of Psychelia. He only has a few days to live, maybe even less than that."
"Great Smurfiny Crickets, I feel sorry for the lad that he has to smurf through this," Tapper said.
"Surely you're going to smurf something to keep the boy from smurfing away before his time, right?" Duncan asked.
"That's what this smurf and Papa Smurf are going to find out, Duncan," Empath answered. "Right now, this smurf needs to go to Psychelia so that this smurf can find out some answers about this situation from the Psyche Master himself."
"Are you certain you can trust that the Psyche Master is going to smurf you the answers, my fellow Empath?" Tapper asked.
"Why should he even care about Polaris if he hasn't been smurfing under his thumb since he left Psychelia a year ago, laddie?" Duncan asked.
"I would think that someone who has smurfed through the trouble of creating Polaris and smurfing him life would also be concerned that he is dying without his care, Duncan," Tapper responded.
"There's no way to know whether the Psyche Master will give us the answers we want or those that we need, Tapper," Empath said. "The only thing we can do is to trust in whatever the Psyche Master has to say that will help us."
Tapper sighed, realizing that Empath was right. "I will smurf what I can, both physically and spiritually, to help our friend smurf alive so that we may have the solution to our problems, Empath," he said.
"Aye, may the spirits of the McSmurfs be with us on this smurfsome day," Duncan said as both he and Tapper watched Empath leap into the sky and fly off in the direction of Psychelia.
Meanwhile, Brainy was following Papa Smurf as he was heading towards his laboratory, with Clumsy beside Brainy. "Papa Smurf, is there anything I can do to help you in your research for the cure?" Brainy asked, sounding eager.
"Yes, you can, Brainy," Papa Smurf said. "I'm going to need you to tell Hefty that he's in charge of the village for the time smurfing while I smurf my research. I am under no smurfumstances to be dissmurfed while I am doing that. Is that understood?"
"You mean you don't want me to help you smurf through the books in order to find a cure?" Brainy asked, not liking what he was hearing.
"I am pretty capable of smurfing through the books by myself, Brainy," Papa Smurf said. "Can I trust that you will not interfere with that?"
"But why would I be interfere with your research if I am...," Brainy began to protest.
"CAN I TRUST THAT YOU WILL NOT INTERFERE WITH THAT, BRAINY?" Papa Smurf repeated in a firm loud voice.
"Uh...yes, Papa Smurf, whatever you say, I will not interfere," Brainy replied, not wishing to invoke the village leader's wrath.
"Gosh, Brainy, Papa Smurf seems pretty upset today with what's smurfing on here," Clumsy said as he and Brainy both watched Papa Smurf enter his laboratory and shut the door behind him.
"It's a life-and-smurf situation, Clumsy, one that requires an undivided attention that can't be distracted by the least little thing that can be resolved on its own accord," Brainy tried to explain. "That's what makes Papa Smurf a great leader than I can only aspire to become like someday."
"But what if Papa Smurf doesn't make you the leader of the village someday, Brainy?" Clumsy asked.
"Why would he not make me, the great and knowledgeable Brainy Smurf, leader of the village someday, Clumsy, unless it's to smurf that role to someone even greater than myself...like perhaps Empath?" Brainy responded, chuckling weakly when he realized the latter part for himself.
"But Papa Smurf is going to find out what the cure is for what Polaris is smurfing through, isn't he?" Clumsy asked.
"I am very confident that Papa Smurf will find the answer that we need in this most smurfful of situations, Clumsy," Brainy answered. "There's nothing about this that you need to worry about if it is in Papa Smurf's hands."
Just then, Hefty showed up at Papa Smurf's door. "What's smurfing on around here, Brainy?" Hefty asked.
"Didn't you hear, Hefty?" Clumsy said. "It's Polaris. He's dying."
"Papa Smurf asked you to watch over the village while he is in his laboratory smurfing for the cure to Polaris' ailment, Hefty," Brainy answered.
"Oh, that's just great," Hefty said with some disgust. "Polaris is dying, and the whole village is going to smurf over backwards to make sure he doesn't smurf away."
"Gee, Hefty, why would you want Polaris to pass away?" Clumsy asked.
"That's not any of your business to know, Clumsy," Hefty answered roughly. "It's just that star-faces like him don't belong in our village, and it's time for Empath's friend to realize that."
"So you just want Polaris to die?" Clumsy said, not liking what Hefty was saying.
"Whatever differences there are between us and the Psyches, Clumsy, the fact remains that Polaris is a citizen of the Smurf Village, and he will be treated as such regardless of what Hefty thinks," Brainy said.
"But the one thing he will never be is a true Smurf, Brainy," Hefty said. "And nothing on earth is going to change that fact."
"Gosh, but what if Polaris does want to become a Smurf like us?" Clumsy asked.
"Like I said, Clumsy, nothing on earth is going to change that," Hefty said.
Empath finally reached Psychelia, and as usual, the Elite Guard were there at the entrance preventing his entry. "State your business for entering our domain or be sent along your way outside this place," one of the guards stated forcefully.
Empath sighed, as if this kind of greeting was becoming tiresome already. "The Psyche Master should already know what this one wants to discuss with him in private, fellow Psyches," he responded.
"Allow this outsider to enter," the voice of the Psyche Master commanded. "I will personally deal with his matters myself."
"This one acknowledges, Psyche Master," both of the guards said as they both stood out of the way and allowed Empath to head straight for the Psyche Master's chambers without any deviation or interference.
As soon as the doors to the chambers closed after Empath had entered, he said, "Empath Psyche, designation 1137-K, acknowledging his presence."
"That is not necessary for you to address yourself as that before me, Empath, since you are no longer part of our community," the Psyche Master said. "I know why you have come here, because of your friend Polaris Psyche. I am sorry to say that there is nothing I can do to restore him apart from his being returned to Psychelia to be part of the community. And to do so, he must willingly give up everything that he knows about you and the Smurfs that he chose to live among. Everything about the Polaris Psyche you once knew will be lost forever."
"But he doesn't wish to return here, Psyche Master, and this one will refuse to force him to return if that means saving his life," Empath said. "What this one is here for is to know how the Psyches were created in the first place."
"That is a very private subject that is not to be discussed among the Psyches in our community, Empath," the Psyche Master said. "You do realize that, if this information is to be shared with that community, it would destroy the very fabric of what the Psyches believe of themselves. Do you understand?"
"This one understands and acknowledges, Psyche Master," Empath responded.
"Very well then," the Psyche Master said, realizing that Empath could be trusted with the information about to be revealed. "The first Psyches were created with the essence of a Smurf that could only be found within the cellular structure of a Smurf, which means that there would have to be a Smurf willing to donate a sample of their genetic structure in order to create them. Being that I am the only Smurf available to donate such material, I have freely given of myself what is necessary to create that new life, although it had to be modified over many generations so that everything that I desire to be in a Psyche would not contain anything that would make them desire being where they originally came from."
"So you're saying that the Psyches...are all genetically-modified Smurfs?" Empath asked, trying to figure the whole thing out.
"That is what I am saying, Empath," the Psyche Master answered. "The Psyches were to be the perfect version of what the Smurf is supposed to be, but they cannot live outside of a collective conscience for more than a year, for they will soon fall apart and die within a matter of days. That is why I never wanted the Psyches to leave Psychelia, let alone even think that they are individuals with their own destinies. It is enough that they know that they are morally superior to the savage creatures that you and I have come from."
"So the degeneration is not a disease at all...it is just what you have put into the Psyches to make them obedient unto you and fear ever leaving," Empath said, realizing it for himself. "How could you smurf such a thing to your own children!"
"I did not allow you in here so you can judge me for my actions and decisions, Empath," the Psyche Master said in an ominous tone. "These are my people that I have created for my purpose, and I can do with them whatever I wish. If Polaris' decision to remain outside the collective conscience matters more to you than returning him here so that he could live, then you should be responsible for that decision and not try to lay the blame on me for something he chose for himself."
"That's it, then...either Polaris returns here and loses everything he knows so he can live, or he remains a free Psyche outside your control and he dies," Empath said, feeling like there was nothing the Psyche Master could do that would ever please Empath. "Very well then. You have given this one everything that this one needs to know about the situation. This discussion is over."
Empath turned to leave, but just before the door opened, the Psyche Master simply said, "I am truly sorry you have to be faced with this decision over the life of your friend, Empath."
Empath just simply glared at the visage of the Psyche Master before he turned and left.