I figured I'd bring some life back into this old account and see where it goes from there. I've recently been working (very slowly) on my game, Nocturnal Sanction, which is posted in another thread on this site if anyone wants to check it out. Though not much activity seems to come here anymore. I come to wonder why...
But that's not what we're here for! We're here to read awesome fanfiction and critique in the most gruesome ways imaginable!............. no not really. XD But anyways. This fanfic will be one about Pokï¿½mon. And before you ask, no it does not involve a trainer mindlessly wandering around a region and collecting badges and all that nonsense... This story is far deeper, mysterious and more epic than that. (By the way, since I know many will say this, "Messanger" is not spelled wrong. It's my own word.)
So I suppose that's all there is. Onto the chapters! I'll be updating this post with each chapter that I write. So happy reading! And tell me what you all think.
Part 1 - The Beginning
To see Parts 3 & 4 of The Messanger of Time, go here! Look forward to the next part of the journey as the real story begins.
I figured I'd bring some life back into this old account and see where it goes from there. I've recently been working (very slowly) on my game, Nocturnal Sanction, which is posted in another thread on this site if anyone wants to check it out. Though not much activity seems to come here anymore. I come to wonder why...
But that's not what we're here for! We're here to read awesome fanfiction and critique in the most gruesome ways imaginable!............. no not really. XD But anyways. This fanfic will be one about Pokï¿½mon. And before you ask, no it does not involve a trainer mindlessly wandering around a region and collecting badges and all that nonsense... This story is far deeper, mysterious and more epic than that. (By the way, since I know many will say this, "Messanger" is not spelled wrong. It's my own word.)
So I suppose that's all there is. Onto the chapters! I'll be updating this post with each chapter that I write. So happy reading! And tell me what you all think.
Part 1 - The Beginning
The world is growing darker... Each day, I can feel life slipping away... It is nearly time...
Only the final one can prevent the great crisis... But can he do it?
This will be the ultimate test for him...
Good luck... Vincent Verona.
It is October 15, 1990 at Temporal Tower, the ending point of the Messanger of Time, Gerald Grey, who is in the form of a blue-flamed Typhlosion. He is followed by Lucas Crane, who has been alongside Gerald through his entire task. He is in the form of a Mightyena, and is a Messanger sent out by the Spiritual Council to take on the Spacial Task.
For those unaware of what the Spiritual Council is, they're a group of beings in a plain between life and the afterlife, who have been chosen to serve Arceus in protecting the various realms in existance. They send individuals called Messangers on lifelong tasks to prevent foreseen calamities from befalling these realms. Two of which, are Gerald and Lucas.
In the Spiritual World, most take on a human form as they serve the Council. Gerald would be in that of an average sized male appearing in his early thirties and having short, brown hair and dark blue eyes. Under normal circumstances, he would be seen in a somewhat thick attire, and he has a bold personality, but is known to make rash choices at times.
Lucas, however, is one of the more calm and focused nature. He would be seen normally as a tall man in his late twenties and having black hair slightly longer than that of Gerald's. Eyes of a deep amethyst color reflect his wealth of intelligence and wisdom, often fabricating ideas that have proven beneficial for the rest of the Council. He is known to suit primarily in a priest-like outfit, however he preferred the darker colors, which could come from the idea that 'darkness' is not necessarily an evil force, but harder to make proper use of.
This idea may also reflect on the fact that he is naturally born a Mightyena, as he appears in the physical world. The same is for Gerald, being that of a Typhlosion.
As the two reach the top of the tall tower long seen as a sacred monument to all who live in this realm, Gerald looks down at the necklace which he was given to hold contact with a close friend. He remembers the vow he made to one day return safely from his task. And he will do everything in his power to make that true.
But is that enough? He begins to wonder if he's followed the right path to finally come to this point. As he looks ahead to the shrine which awaits them, he takes his bag and pulls out five small objects in the shapes of teal gears. After looking at them for a moment, he walks forward and examines the shrine, seeing fine carved indentations which the gears would be placed in order to restore the proper flow of time throughout the realm.
He begins to place each Time Gear in the shrine, growing more tense with each one placed. As he takes the last one, he stares at it for what seems like forever. Lucas walks over to his side and nudges him, getting his attention and then nodding to him. As he reaches out to place it, his attention is caught by a deep growl behind them as they both turn, seeing what looks like Dialga. However, he is dark blue in color and the diamond which is normally clear, is a deep crimson red.
Upon the sight, Gerald lowers his arm and steps back from him. However, he only backs into the shrine behind him as he stares up at the deity of time in Primal form. The sheer sight of this dark entity sends chills through him as he faces fear in the eyes.
Lucas soon steps forward, staring up at Dialga as he stands inbetween him and the Typhlosion whom he swore to protect during their task. Not taking his eyes off the large creature, he speaks in a low tone. "It's now or never, my friend. Place it before it's too late."
Gerald looks at him, and slowly nods as he holds up the Time Gear and is about to turn to the shrine. But Dialga roars out and fires a beam of energy at them, the two barely dodging as they are separated by an explosion that could've destroyed them both.
Upon landing, Gerald drops the Time Gear in his paw, it rolling across the ground as it nears the tower's edge. He quickly rushes after it as it rolls over, about to jump after it as Lucas yells out to him and grabs him.
"Gerald, no! It's too late to go after it!"
Gerald growls and throws him back, looking over the edge as the a feeling of dread comes over him when the Time Gear hits the ground below, shattering into several pieces.
Lucas slowly staggers up, looking at him as he stares down over the edge in complete silence. "...Gerald?"
Gerald turns and walks by Lucas, speaking quietly. "It's over... I've failed..."
Lucas watches him, turning as he walks by, towards Dialga. "I'm sorry, Gerald... There was nothing we could do."
Gerald looks up at Dialga, who stares back down at him, no longer attacking as the task has already ended in failure. The Typhlosion growls lightly and clenches his paws. "This isn't the end... I may have failed, but we will find a way..."
Dialga snorts in response, turning and walking away. And soon after, Gerald drops to the ground, emitting a silvery glow. Lucas, seeing this, runs to his side and crouches down to him.
"Hey! Gerald, look at me..."
Gerald lifts his head to look up at the Mightyena, who stares into his eyes.
"I'll make sure it changes. You've done well, my friend... Just go back, I'll take things from here."
Gerald slowly nods and lays his head down. "...And to think, I was so close... to finishing it, once and for all. I guess, just like the others, It'll end empty-handed for me."
Lucas nudges him. "Hey, don't say that. You won't fall like the others have. I'll see to that."
Gerald grunts and chuckles a bit, closing his eyes. "You're a good friend, Lucas... Keep at it, wherever you go."
Lucas nods and smiles a little. "Farewell, my friend... I'll see you, in time."
Gerald smiles and lets out a breath as he fades away in silver particles, returning to the Spiritual World as Lucas slowly steps back.
He then turns to the shrine and sighs. "I guess... it's up to one more to finish the task. I just hope they can pick the right one..."
Lucas walks off, fading into the shadows as he prepares for the next to come.
- - - - -
"What... What do you want? ...No. No! I'm not going!"
- - - - -
~October 16, 1990~
"Vincent? Are you awake?"
A tall male, looking to be in his late teens, sits up on his bed and looks to the door. He has short, dark hair and deep blue eyes, and wears clothing of seemingly average style. A short-sleeved white shirt and long light blue jeans, looking almost a size large for him and held with a black leather belt which is hidden under his shirt.
"What is it, Joseph? ...Why do I get the feeling from your look that somemthing bad happened?"
Another man, nearly Vincent's height and in thin, silver robes, stands in the doorway. His blue hair is held by a silver band and he bears a long katana on his side. He looks back at the younger male with lighter blue eyes, having an uneasy expression.
"You've been summoned to the Council Chamber. It can't wait."
Vincent gets up and looks at him curiously. "What happened?"
"Come. I'll explain on the way."
As the two walk out, Joseph explains to Vincent what happened during Gerald's task, and how the Council Elites found him unconscious upon his return. He seemed to be brutally injured. By what, is not known. For what they knew, he returned with no incident. It is thought that he was attacked before they came to him. But as of yet, he hasn't regained consciousness.
Vincent looks down in thought. "But what could've happened..? And you said he failed his task? That's not like him..."
Joseph shakes his head. "I don't really know the details. But he may be awake when we get there."
Vincent nods slowly and looks ahead as they climb the stairs to the Council Chamber. As they enter, he looks to the room on the left, being the infirmary. He looks around inside, noticing Gerald on a nearby bed and running to him. He is seen to be in human form. "Gerald? Gerald, can you hear me?"
He slowly opens his eyes and looks up at Vincent, blinking and then letting out a small sigh. "How'd I know I'd see you here..?"
"What happened to you? Do you remember?"
Gerald slowly shakes his head. "I was attacked... He tried to take me... as soon as I came back..."
"Who? Who did this, Gerald?"
He winces in pain, trying to speak, but losing conscious again.
Joseph, who is watching from the doorway, shakes his head and sighs. "And yet more questions left unanswered..."
Vincent looks at him and shakes his head. "What is happening lately?"
Joseph turns to the hall. "I wish I knew. But we can't spend any more time here. The Minister's expecting you." He then walks out.
Vincent blinks. "The Minister... But he was just elected, yesterday. He's already assigned to a meeting?"
He decides to shrug it off and follow Joseph out, going down the hall to the main chamber. He looks around, the room seeming to be practically empty, other than a couple people in the seats and the Minister at his desk in the front.
As he walks over to the pedistal, he looks up at the Minister. Joseph goes to a nearby seat and sits down. The Minister, seeming to be somewhat impatient, is going through papers on his desk.
"...Minister? Is something the matter?"
"I'm expecting another. He seems to be late in his appearance."
"Another..?" Vincent turns to hear quick footsteps down the hall as he sees a shorter male with light brown hair and green eyes run into the room. He rushes to the other pedistal and pants. "I'm sorry, Minister. I tried to get here as fast as I could."
The Minster eyes him irritably. "Of course you did, James. And I don't suppose your mentor did his job at making sure you got here in time?"
A blonde-haired man dressed in all black runs into the room and looks up at him. "Not true, he was dodging the subject and decided to take a few side trips."
The Minister holds his hand out. "That's enough, Chris. I will hear no more of this. The fact of the matter is, under no circumstances should individuals ever be late to a summoning. The Elder will know of this."
Chris grunts and sits down next to Joseph, folding his arms. "It wasn't my fault..."
Joseph rolls his eyes. "Just accept it and move on so we can get to the purpose of this meeting."
The Minister nods and looks down at Vincent and James. "Now, you two have been called here under special orders."
Vincent looks over at James. "What kind of trouble did you get into this time, hmm?"
"No more than usual... I hope."
The Minister clears his throat and speaks again. "He is in no trouble. The situation calls for a different cause. And that is, you two are brought here to fulfill your role as Messangers. There is a task chosen for each of you."
James looks back up at him and tilts his head. "Oh? And what kind of task is this, might I ask?"
"Your task is that of the Peace Messanger. And as such, you will be sent to Earthrealm under said terms."
He nods slowly and looks over at Vincent. "And what of him?"
Vincent looks up at the Minister, having a feeling of tension as he can tell what he is about to say.
"We have received intelligence that Gerald Grey has failed the Temporal Task, yesterday. And because of this, a new Messanger must be assigned the task..."
James blinks and looks back at the Minister. "Wait. You can't be saying..." He looks at Vincent, then back at the Minister. "Do you realize just what you're putting him on?"
"We've no other choice. Vincent's records have shown his level of abilities in fulfilling his tasks. Regardless of a recent occurance, he is still in highest standards, and one of our best."
Vincent looks away in silence at his words. Having the memories of what had previously happened, he is uncertain he can take on such a task. But if it's what the Spiritual Council has chosen, then it is something he must do.
After a moment, he looks back up at the Minister. "I accept this task..."
James looks back at him and shakes his head. "You can't be serious, Vincent! You know what happened to the other three."
"There's no choice, James!"
He steps back, now quiet, and Vincent turns to him.
"It'll be okay... Trust me on this. I'll see to it that it gets done and I come back safely."
He sighs and slowly nods. "Fine... But be careful. I don't like this idea, one bit."
Vincent then turns back to the Minister and nods. "Go on."
The Minister nods and hits a switch, what looks like a hologram appearing in front of them. "Due to your current positions, you shall enter the world from a natural birth, and live your tasks."
James looks at the one in front of him and sighs. "I know..." He runs through the list, reading the names and then tapping one of them. "Done."
Vincent looks at him curiously. "That was fast..."
"It's intuition. I know this one will be right for me."
He shrugs and looks through his own list, going through the names and blinking as he overlooks one of them. "...Minister? What is with this one?" He taps one and the Minister looks over his papers.
"Chrissa Verona and Samuel Alicera... Wait, what is this? They shouldn't even be here. From this report, the documentary on these people was found destroyed two weeks ago."
James looks at him. "Don't tell me you're actually going to go with them."
"You know I always pick the ones that stand out the most to me. Perhaps if I go with them, I'll find out just what happened to their documents. Clearly, someone doesn't want us to know about them."
Vincent shrugs and nods to the Minister. "I choose them."
"...Very well then, if you insist." The lists then fade away and are replaced with several small orbs of varying features. "I believe you know what comes next. I'll leave it to you to choose."
James looks them over, then taps four of them, having them immediately disappear when touched, but also vanishing on Vincent's side as well.
"...Hey, I wanted one of those."
"You're too slow." James looks at him with a chuckle and he shakes his head.
"I'll get you back for this." He then looks over them, tapping four of them and naming each of them. "Time Crossing, Light Warp, Dimensional Scream... Dragon Taming, I suppose."
After the fourth one is selected, they fade away, the chosen abilities binding to both of them as they look back at the Minister.
"Right, then. It would seem you're both now prepared. If you will, please step forward." He then hits a switch, the large panel in the center of the room lighting up and then swirling around in a pool of silver energy.
Upon seeing this, the two move over and look down at it. Knowing that stepping onto it would send them to the physical realm and begin their tasks, they look at each other, Vincent taking a deep breath.
"...Are you ready, James?"
He slowly nods. "You, Vincent?"
He nods and looks back at Joseph and Chris, who are watching them silently. Joseph nods to him assuringly, and he turns back to the panel.
The Minister then speaks up. "When you're ready, you may begin. And the best of luck to you both."
After a moment, they look at each other again, then back at the panel and step onto it. It lights up and they turn back to Joseph and Chris, looking at them one last time before fading away, the panel then returning to its normal look as they are sent away. And on the following day, their tasks have begun...
~November 5, 1990~
"Hey, Sam..? Come look at this."
A tall man of average build, having short, dark brown hair and brown eyes goes over to the nearby tree and kneels down by a Latias, seeming to be injured and unconscious. He looks over the pokemon, placing his hand on her forehead and shaking his head.
"She seems to have been abused and abandoned here... Who would do such a thing?"
The shorter woman sitting next to the Latias sighs and looks back down at her with her amber-colored eyes, pulling her long black hair out of them to look at the extent of the pokemon's injuries. She would also notice the silver film on her wings, which she found somewhat interesting.
"I really don't know... It looks like she's malnourished though. Whoever she was with must've neglected her..."
Samuel stands up and whistles out, calling down a greenish-blue Flygon from the sky, then walks over to her and pets her head before looking down at the Latias.
"Sierra, could you help me get her to the house?"
The Flygon nods and Samuel goes back to the Latias, picking her up with Chrissa's help and putting her on Sierra's back.
"We'll have to go on Aerthos. Fly slowly, we can't risk her falling off."
The Flygon nods and Samuel steps back as she lifts off into the air, waiting for them. Chrissa waves, as a Dragonite descends down from the sky near her. It would be noted that he has darker green wings than normal, and his antennae are yellow in color.
The two walk over to him and Chrissa pats his back. "We're going home early, Aerthos. We have a guest."
The Dragonite looks up at Sierra, then nods and lowers down for the two to get up on his back. Chrissa pats him again and he takes off, a bit faster than the Flygon, which she and Samuel have become used to. They then head off southwest, leaving the Moonstone Range near Pewter, and heading towards their home. They are sure to keep at Sierra's pace as to fly together until finally reaching their destination.
It is a rather quiet and calm place in the outskirts of Pallet, where the two have an expensive-looking two story house set up. The patio is consisted of red bricks, which sits in a garden area of various plants, and a tall windmill standing nearby. The house is comprised mostly of a fancy-looking wooden material, along with the roof, which holds a solar panel on it.
As they land, Samuel and Chrissa carry the Latias into the house and set her on the bed in their room. Meanwhile, Sierra and Aerthos return to the sky to fly around again.
Chrissa proceeds to inspect the Latias' wounds, treating them as much as she can, while Samuel tends to the night's dinner and prepares a dish of fruits for the Latias.
Shortly, another pokemon enters the room. A Latios, whose wings are covered in a golden film. As he approaches Chrissa and the Latias, he looks over the pokemon, seeming to be in better condition than she was when she was found. And almost immediately, he recognizes her and quickly flies around to be by her side.
Chrissa looks at him curiously as he nudges the Latias with his nose, looking worried as he speaks in telepathy. "Larisa..? Come on, wake up!"
Chrissa shakes her head slowly. "It'll be a bit before she wakes up, give her some time..."
The Latios sighs and sits by the bed, laying his head by her. "It's been several months since I've seen her..."
Chrissa sits down on the bed, stroking Larisa's neck lightly, causing her to make faint purring in her sleep. "Lasuno... Is she the one that you talked about before..?"
Lasuno nods slowly. "She's the one I was with, when they captured us. Do you see her wings? She and I were of the inherent ones with that unique property. When they found us, they saw this and wanted to use us for our special powers..."
Chrissa sighs and looks down at Larisa. "So are you siblings, or..."
Lasuno shakes his head. "Siblings, no. There were many like us before. Different families that had what we do. Whether there are more, I don't know..."
Chrissa nods slowly and looks at him. "Well you two will be safe here. You don't have to worry about that."
He smiles a bit, having been keeping his eyes on the Latias the entire time.
After a short time, Chrissa speaks again. "So how are the children?"
"They're a bit of a nuisance when they're awake, I'll admit. But asleep, they're angels."
She giggles lightly at the statement. "Well they are my angels."
Lasuno smiles a bit and nods. "Though I still wonder about him..."
"Well, he is rather different, I'll say. It was a bit strange when the electronics started acting up that day. And even you said you could feel the energy from him."
She continues to stroke along Larisa's neck to comfort her. "But even if he is different, he's still my son. And I'll raise him the same as my other children."
Lasuno nods, his ears perking when Samuel walks into the room. He looks at the three, then walks over to the bed and sits down, looking at Larisa, then at Chrissa.
"How is she doing?"
Chrissa nods to him. "She's fine. She just needs to rest. But she shouldn't fly for a while, until she can regain her energy. Is dinner ready?"
He nods. "I've set some for her, when she wakes up. Ours is done, whenever you're ready."
She looks at Lasuno, who nods to her. "I'll be okay... I want to stay in here to watch Larisa."
She slowly nods and gets up. "If you need anything, we'll be out there."
He nods and the two leave the room to eat. He then hovers onto the bed to lay next to Larisa, who is sleeping soundly, seeming to look more comforted with him near her.
"Please be okay..."
Soon after finishing dinner, Chrissa gets up to check on the two in the room, noticing that Lasuno has fallen asleep. She watches the two, and can't help but smile at the sight of them. They look so cute together.
Samuel comes down the hall and looks into the room, hugging Chrissa while looking at them. "I guess it's the livingroom tonight."
She nods. "Yeah, they can have the bed. It's best we not disturb them."
They then go into the livingroom and lay down to sleep. Having left the pokemon to rest, they would likely be awake the next morning. So Samuel and Chrissa soon fall asleep, hoping for the best for them.
- - - - -
Later that night, Larisa finally comes to consciousness and opens her eyes, looking around and becoming curious as to where she is. Noticing she's inside a room, she begins to worry that she was abducted by more humans. But then she notices Lasuno on the bed by her, calming down just a little and then nosing him.
Shortly waking up, he opens his eyes to look at her, and then smiles a bit. "Hey there, Larisa..."
"L-Lasuno..? Is that really you..?"
He slowly nods and moves closer to her, and she begins to well up with tears, immediately hugging him tightly.
"I thought I lost you... I couldn't-"
"Shh, shh. I'm here, Larisa... It's okay..."
She looks into his eyes, then lays her head against him as he hugs her back.
"...So where are we? Is this a house?"
He nods again. "This is the home of a nice family. They rescued the both of us and brought us here."
She looks back at him, growing curious. "Both of us..?"
"Months ago... You remember when those people abandoned me on Moonstone Range, right?"
She slowly nods, distainful of the memory.
"When these people found me, they took me in and cared for me until I regained health. And after telling them of the ones that took us, they promised me they'd search for you. So they went back to the Range every day to look for you. Not missing one trip there, they finally found you after several months. And now, here you are..."
She stares at him for a bit, then hugs him again, even tighter this time. And he returns it.
"I'm glad you're okay, Larisa..."
After a bit, she finally lets go and looks at him again. "So you've been living here this whole time..?"
He nods and looks outside the room. "They've treated me as a part of the family. They even prepared some food for you, when you awoke."
"They made some... for me?"
Lasuno smiles and noses her. "If you're ready, that is..."
She smiles a little, then lets out a little coo, starting to hover, then straining and falling on the bed again, whimpering softly. And he puts his paws on her.
"...Perhaps I should carry you. You still need to rest a bit before flying..."
She looks up at him, then slowly nods. And he takes her onto his back, flying out into the livingroom and looking around. Chrissa is asleep on the couch, and Samuel is reclined in the chair, both covered in blankets. The two look to be in a deep sleep. So Lasuno and Larisa leave them alone and fly into the kitchen, where a large dish of fruit is sitting on the table.
Lasuno goes over and Larisa reaches down to pick up an apple, looking at it curiously and then immediately eating it, as though she hadn't eaten in several days. As she eats, Lasuno begins to wonder just how long it's been since she had had something to eat. But he is happy to see that she is getting food. And of something better than what their captors had been giving them.
After finally getting her fill, she lays her head down on Lasuno, and he smiles back at her. "Are you full?"
She lets out a low purr in response, and he chuckles a bit, turning his head to nuzzle her and then tossing out the remains of the fruit, putting back the uneaten items and flying through the livingroom again to go back to the bedroom.
Soon after passing through, Chrissa opens her eyes and looks down the hall towards them, smiling in relief to know they were okay, and then going back to sleep.
- - - - -
The next morning, Chrissa wakes up again and looks around, seeing that Samuel is still asleep, and getting up. She goes into the room, noticing that Lasuno and Larisa are no longer here, and then goes to the front door to look outside. She sees the two are flying around the garden, and smiles, going out onto the patio and watching them.
Soon, the two notice her and fly down to her, Larisa looking at her cautiously and keeping a bit of a distance.
"I see you're finally awake. Are you okay?"
She nods slowly, and Chrissa smiles. "That's good... I'm Chrissa Verona."
Larisa looks at Lasuno, who nods to her, then looks back at Chrissa, hovering forward. "...I'm Larisa. It's nice to meet you."
Chrissa nods, and Lasuno looks around. "Where is..."
"Sam? Oh, he's still passed out on the chair. I'll go get him."
She walks into the house, and the two follow her as she goes over to the chair, poking Samuel repeatedly in the head. "Wakey wakey, you lazy bum."
He mumbles in his sleep and shifts, and she pulls the blanket off him, making him flail in the chair and roll over.
"Alright, that's how it is?" Chrissa then goes to the side and pushes down the recliner with her foot, throwing him forward and out of the chair as he lands facefirst on the floor. And Larisa meeps, jumping back.
Samuel groans and glares up at her. "What's the big idea?"
She puts her hands on her hips and looks down at him. "Our guest is awake. Be a gentleman and say hi to her, dear."
He grunts and rubs his face, staggering up. "You could've been nicer. I was having a good dream."
"You always have good dreams. That excuse is obsolete."
He stares at her, and she points back at the other two, him looking at them. "Oh, right. Ugh, this is a terrible meeting."
And Larisa can't help but giggle at what's happening. He looks at her curiously. "...What?"
"Sorry... You're kinda funny."
He smirks and looks away, and Chrissa smiles. "Now, Sammy dear. Don't be shy."
Samuel then rolls his eyes and looks back at Larisa. "...Anyway. I'm Samuel Alicera."
The Latias smiles and nods. "And I'm Larisa."
After a moment of awkward silence after the introduction, Samuel speaks up loudly, "Anyways!" making everyone jump.
"I'm gonna get breakfast." He then goes into the kitchen, and Larisa and Lasuno watch him, then shrug.
Chrissa calls out as she runs in after him. "Don't start it without me! You never cook my eggs right!"
The two look at each other, Larisa giggling a bit. "They're silly."
Lasuno smiles. "But they're good. So it's much better than where we were."
She nods and purrs. "I think I'll like it here."
And they all continue with the day, talking with each other and getting better used to each other's company, Larisa now being a part of the family along with Lasuno.
But what lies ahead may be much more than they could ever have expected.
- - - - -
~Two Years Later~
"I don't understand... His task was set in this realm. Why isn't he here?"
A shadowy individual wanders a dark and empty plain in irritation.
"I've already searched every corner of the lands. There must be a mistake... Unless..."
The individual looks up at the silent sky. "...He was born in the other realm."
After a moment in thought, he speaks again, his green eyes flickering. "Not to fear... He will join us, in time."
He then holds out a stone and vanishes into the darkness, as Lucas watches from behind the hill.
"He's truly persistent... But why there?" The Mightyena looks around and sighs. "Things are so unclear. It makes so little sense."
After a short time, he pulls out a stone from a small pouch strapped to his side. "I suppose staying here will no longer do any good. Very well then..."
He holds up the stone in his mouth, soon fading away like the other individual. The area, now barren of any life, remains in a dead silence. It's as though time, itself, had stopped...
~July 9, 1992~
"Lasuno... She made it..."
Lasuno flies over to Larisa and looks at her. She is holding a blanket wrapped around a small black Latias, who is asleep with her wings closed in around her body. It would be seen that her chest crest is of a blue color, and her body seems to emit an odd power.
"So she did... I was afraid she wouldn't... I'm so glad she did."
Larisa purrs softly and looks down at the smaller Latias. "She looks so adorable... I've thought of a name for her..."
He looks at her curiously. "You came to a conclusion?"
She nods slowly. "It's Aurora..."
Lasuno smiles and puts his arm around her. "It's a nice name... It's settled then. Our daughter will be named Aurora."
Larisa giggles softly and nuzzles him. "I'm glad you like it, dear..."
He chuckles a bit and nods, then looks at the door as Samuel walks in, wearing very simple clothing and covered in dirt after having worked outside.
The Latios looks at him curiously. "Working hard, are we Samuel? Did you get something acomplished?"
He nods and smiles, holding up several laces with differently colored stones attached to them.
The two look at them with curiosity and Lasuno looks from them, back at Samuel. "Are those..."
Samuel nods again and places the stones in his other hand. "Your psychic energy really came in handy when working on these. I couldn't have done it without you?"
Chrissa pokes her head into the room, seeing them here, and walks in. "Is everything okay in here? Some meeting, and you didn't even call me."
Samuel chuckles a bit and puts his arm around her back. "Sorry, Chrissa. I was excited to show them what I finished."
"Oh? And what's that, Sammy?"
He looks down at the stone necklaces, then runs his hand over the group, each of them emitting a glow of their particular color before fading to normal again. He then picks up one of them... a deep blue stone, then looks at Lasuno.
"Our family bond. These necklaces, if used right, can be used to contact the others who have them. I don't really know the full extent of what they can do. But I'm sure they'll really help us. My gift to you all..."
They all watch as he goes over to Lasuno and puts the blue necklace on him. "Lasuno..."
He then goes over to Larisa and pulls up a red stone, putting the necklace on her. "Larisa..."
She smiles and he looks down at Aurora, then goes through the stones, pulling up a black one to match her color. He puts it in the blanket with her and Larisa speaks softly. "Aurora..."
He smiles and nods. "Aurora."
Samuel then goes over to Chrissa and picks up a teal colored one, looking into her eyes and undoing the necklace's magnetic clip. He then puts it around her neck and locks it again, and she smiles.
"My dear Chrissa..."
She giggles and hugs him, and he returns it, then steps back and looks at everyone.
He takes a green stone and looks at it, then puts it around his own neck. "Myself."
Chrissa smiles. "Samuel..."
He nods, then holds up a purple one and speaks again. "Christina Alicera, one of the eldest twins."
He holds up a yellow one. "Hector Alicera, the second of the eldest."
He holds up a light blue one. "Vincent Verona, the third of the four siblings."
He holds up an orange one. "Melissa Verona, the youngest of the four."
He then looks at a white one, holding it up. "One more..." They look at it. And after a while, he sets it back down. "Let's hold onto this one. I'm sure we'll find an owner for it. Someone truly trustworthy..."
They all nod and he puts it in his pocket. He then holds up his stone, then grasps it in his hand. And almost immediately, each of the others glow the same green color as his, before fading to normal.
They look at them in curiosity, and Chrissa holds his in her hand, the others then glowing its teal color and fading again.
She speaks softly. "They react to one another... To tell us who is holding theirs..."
Samuel nods, then looks at the other stones in his hand. "I wonder though..." He then takes his own in his other hand. "We each hold ours, all at once."
They nod and he closes his hand around his necklace, the others doing the same, and a field of psychic energy is projected through the room, easily noticable to each of them. They all look around and let go of their stones, the field soon fading away.
Larisa speaks in awe. "Wow... I didn't expect that."
Samuel shakes his head. "Neither did I... I wonder what it really does."
Lasuno looks at him. "You should be careful though. Psychic energy is dangerous if it gets out of control..."
He nods slowly and looks at his necklace again, then smiles, happy to have made something the entire family can share...
- - - - -
~September 26, 2001~
Vincent is laying on his bed, his hands clasped together and lightly flickering as he tries to manipulate the flow of the Spiritual energy in his body to his control. He has decided that he should work on using this energy now, while he is still young and his task is yet to begin.
Messangers who are born into families to live mortal lives don't immediately get full control over their powers. While they are trained in the Spiritual Council to control them, they temporarily lose this knowledge when they are born, in order to protect themselves and others around them while they are growing up.
Vincent, like most Messangers, matures much faster than normal people in the world. Through a series of dreams he experiences during his life, he begins to remember who he is and what he was born in the world to acomplish. By the time Messangers reach the age of ten, they would often retain the full maturity and knowledge they had before they were born. Vincent, however, has often succeeded in doing this earlier. Such has made him able to act sooner than others ever could, and finish his tasks much faster.
Most who see Vincent in this world would think he is much older than he really is... which would not be far from the truth. However, he makes attempts to act his physical age, often failing to do so and making a fool out of himself. It is noticable that his siblings have also taken to his actions and grown to mature quicker.
As he continues to channel his energy, getting his physical body to adapt more to his power, he is interrupted by a girl's voice calling out to him from the doorway, which causes him to lose focus and shoot a streak across the room.
Quickly jumping back as the energy narrowly misses her, the girl blinks and slowly pokes her head back into the room. She looks very similar to Chrissa, however much younger and with straighter black hair. This is due to her using a hair straightener on a regular basis.
"V-Vincent? What was that..?"
Vincent sighs and lays his head back into his pillow. "Don't you knock, Christina?"
She walks into the room and folds her arms. "Are you playing with your necklace again? Mom says not to mess around with that."
He looks back at Christina. "I wasn't playing with my necklace. I was..."
"...Playing with your necklace. Don't try to lie, you're bad at it."
He rolls his eyes and puts his arms back behind his head. "So what are you gonna do then? Tell on me?"
She leans down and smacks his leg, making him jump and fold them both back. "Keep it up and I'll just consider that."
He stares at her with an annoyed look and she looks back, noticing a glimmer of light in his eyes and staring at them.
"What's wrong with your eyes?"
"Nothing's wrong with my eyes."
He sighs and looks up at the ceiling. "Right."
"They're creepy-looking. You gotta do something about that."
"Christina, my eyes are not-" He then looks at the mirror on the door and draws silent.
"See, they're glowing. What did you do with your that thing?"
"I didn't do anything! This isn't from the necklace." Vincent sits up and stares into the mirror, his eyes flickering silver, then slowly fading back to normal. "...It's Spiritual energy..."
Christina rolls her eyes. "That stupid stuff again? Just admit you messed with it."
He looks back at her, then flicks his hand out, uttering a simple word, " Aqua," as a silver streak shoots from it, quickly turning into a torrent water and splashing all over her.
She jumps and is dumbfounded at what just happened. "You got me wet... What did you... Mom! Vincent's playing with his necklace!"
She storms out of the room and he sighs, laying back. "Lord Arceus, can't you show some mercy..? How can she be so naive?"
Shortly, Chrissa's voice is heard down the hall in response to Christina. "What do you mean, he's playing with his necklace? And why are you all wet?"
"He did something and splashed water on me!"
"Christina, dear, you can't do something like that with the stones. It looks more like he dumped a bucket of water on you."
A pause, and then Christina speaks up. "...Yeah, he did that."
Vincent grunts and puts his arms over his face. "She's just trying to get me into trouble."
"Vincent?" Chrissa comes to the door and looks inside at him, and he brings his arms down to look back at her. "Did you pour water on your sister?"
"Yes, mother, with my imaginary bucket."
She pauses, then looks around the room and then back at Christina, just outside the door. "There's nothing here. Are you sure you didn't just hose yourself down and you're only saying this to get him in trouble?"
Christina groans. "Mom, I swear! He did something!"
Vincent sits up again and shakes his head. "Mother, it's the truth..."
She looks back at him, and Christina peeks around her to look.
After a short moment of hesitation, he puts his hands together, then brings them back apart, creating a ball of silver energy between them and the two step back.
"...That's certainly not something from the necklace."
He shakes his head, then throws his hand towards the window, repeating the spell as the ball is fired outside and turned into another torrent.
Chrissa blinks at the sight and looks back at him. "You really are one of them..."
He looks up at her for a moment, surprised that she caught on so quickly. "...How long have you..."
"Since you were born. You constantly affected electronics around you. So Sam finally got to doing some research online and came to a conclusion."
"I heard my name!" Samuel calls from the livingroom and she looks down at him.
"Just talking to our son, dear!"
He comes down the hall into the room and looks between them, then down at Christina. "...Why are you wet?"
She folds her arms and grunts, and Chrissa walks into the room to sit on one of the beds. "Sammy? Do you remember that article you found before? On those people..."
Vincent turns to look at him silently and Chrissa nods. "...I think it's time we got to the bottom of this."
Samuel looks over at Vincent for a moment, which seems almost like an eternity, and he can feel his heart drop, knowing he can't hide it anymore.
"Dinner tonight. We'll discuss it then, when everyone's together."
Vincent slowly nods and Chrissa gets up, putting her hand on Vincent's shoulder and then walking out with Christina. "Come on, let's get you dry and into different clothes."
Vincent brings his legs up on the bed and rests his head on his knees, thinking to himself. Tonight, he'll have to tell them everything...
"Dinner's ready!" Samuel calls as he sets plates up on the dining room table.
Vincent, who has been in his room the entire time, looks at the doorway for a bit, then sighs and gets up and goes out into the livingroom. He watches as everyone goes to the dining room, then jumps as he is poked on his shoulder, turning around.
Standing behind him is another boy, around the same height as him, with messy dark brown hair and hazel eyes. He is dressed in what looks like amateur scientist clothing, and has a high tech watch on his wrist.
Vincent smiles a bit and shakes his head. "So what'd you create this time, Hector?"
Hector chuckles. "Nothing new. Still working. But word has it, you're the center of attention tonight. Something about a disorder."
Vincent eyes him. "...Oh? Who said that?"
Christina strolls into the room, speaking up. "I did!"
He stares at her for a bit. "Disorder, right... So who else did you tell this to, the neighbors?"
"Don't be silly. We don't have neighbors out here."
He rolls his eyes and Hector pats his shoulder as he walks by. "Come on, bro. Let's eat dinner."
Christina smiles and goes into the dining room, and he sighs and follows them, soon sitting down at the table.
Entering the room last is another girl, with very sleek black hair, seeming to be thinner and somewhat shorter than that of Christina's. She has a black hairpin in one side, and blue eyes like those of Vincent's.
She sits down at the table and looks around, Christina staring at her.
"Your hair's so thin and pretty. I want it..." She reaches over and plays with the girl's hair, and she slaps her hand.
"Don't touch it, I just washed it."
Christina pouts. "You're mean, Melissa."
Chrissa looks at them and shakes her head. "Be nice, you two. We have something to discuss."
"Oh right, Vincent's disorder."
Vincent stares at her, unenthused at her comment. And Samuel taps his spoon on the table to get their attention, before speaking up as he scoops mashed potatoes out of a large bowl.
"Vincent does not have a disorder. Now would you simmer down for the moment and allow us to continue?"
Christina sits back in her chair and folds her arms. "Fine."
Samuel eyes her for a moment, then looks around at the others, before speaking again.
"Now, I'm sure everyone knows by now what this is about, as Christina has probably already informed us."
She sticks her tongue out and everyone stares at her, as she shifts in her chair awkwardly, then goes to take a chicken leg and put it on her plate. Samuel then continues as everyone else starts putting food on their plates.
"Throughout Vincent's life, I'm sure we have all noticed strange incidences around him. There came a time when I went online to research these occurences, and I came to a conclusion from what I've read. However, it was not yet confirmed until earlier today."
Hector interrupts, "So... he does have a disorder."
"It's not a disorder!" Vincent exclaims, causing everyone to jump a bit in surprise.
Chrissa puts her hand on his. "Calm down, dear. We know this. And the next person to say this will go without dinner."
The other three siblings then immediately fall silent, and Samuel proceeds.
"Earlier, Vincent used something which at first was thought to come from the necklace. However, after speaking with Lasuno and Chrissa about it, this was confirmed to be false. Though psychic energy can form illusions and affect matter in the area, it is not actually powerful enough to take on the form of other elements, such as water. So we had to come to another idea..."
Lasuno and Larisa listen to the conversation as they ear their fruit in the kitchen.
"I don't quite understand the entire meaning behind this, but I've discovered beings which seem to call themselves Messangers. This may be too much to understand at your ages, but..." Samuel pulls out a few sheets of paper with notes detailing certain aspects of the Messangers, and places them on the table.
"Spiritual prophets have gone into predicting the coming of a force from the afterlife and the spiritual plane, into this world. However, little to no proof has actually been given of these predictions. So many people have simply dismissed them."
Hector interrupts again after looking over the papers. "They spelled messenger wrong."
Vincent shakes his head. "Not messenger. It's a different concept... Just let him talk."
Samuel nods and speaks again. "I was actually going to allow you. Information about this is very hard to come by. But if you are what you say, then you should know much more about it than anyone else."
He slowly nods and sighs, rubbing his head a bit. "Dreams are still a bit scrambled, so don't mind if I get anything wrong... Messangers are born into this world like any other being. They are brought here of a natural birth. However, upon arrival, they must start anew. They lose all memory of who they are, and live a normal life."
He looks around at them. "...Well, as normal as they can be with what they have. Through a series of dreams they have while growing up, they begin to remember who they are."
Melissa shakes her head. "Wait, wait. So where do these dreams come from? Does someone give you them, like in the movies?"
"...No, not like that. Your immortal spiritual being still remembers everything. However, these memories don't pass into your physical form until later on. The activities of your normal life interferes with them, thus they happen in dreams... while you're asleep and in your most calm state."
She slowly nods. "That... makes sense, I guess. What's immortal?"
"It means it doesn't die," Chrissa answers.
Melissa blinks, then nods again.
Vincent takes a bite out of his food, then soon continues. "The idea of the Messangers is from the Spiritual Council, which as dad says, exists in the spiritual plane. Messangers are sent into different worlds to take on tasks, much like an angel is sent here to inform people of a coming calamity. A Messanger's role is to actually take action, in order to prevent this calamity."
"So you're... an Angel Plus." Christina giggles, and Hector smirks at the comment.
Vincent rolls his eyes, but can't help but smile at what she said. "Call it what you want. The concept's the same. Anyway... A Messanger is given a certain time to inform others of what will happen, so that they can all work together in order to stop it. Though the very idea of just who they are may cause a bit of disturbance and disbelief... It's much harder than merely telling people and getting them to do what's needed. Getting them to believe you... is a different story."
Chrissa nods slowly. "Had I not seen what I have over the years, I might not believe you, myself. But even now, it's hard to grasp..."
Vincent sighs a bit. "That's what I mean... But it has to be done, or the calamity will befall this world."
Samuel speaks up. "So... What is this said calamity, anyway?"
He blinks at the question, beginning to think about it. "No one... really knows. All I can guess from is the name of my task. The Temporal Task. Something to do with time... Time going out of control. Time..." He goes silent for a moment and everyone looks at him, and he utters another word. "...Stopping."
Chrissa thinks about what he said. "It... isn't entirely hard to believe. This family's been studying and training dragons for a long time. But we could never actually learn the concept of one of them..."
Vincent looks at her for a moment, realizing who she meant. "Dialga..."
She nods. "Yes... Apparently Dialga controls the flow of time, along with another dragon, who controls space. Palkia, I think..."
Vincent takes another bite of his food and then speaks up again. "Dialga and Palkia... controllers of time and space. They're deities who were brought about by Arceus in order to keep the very universe we live in intact. Without them, it would inevitably fall apart."
Hector shivers at the thought, then looks at him. "And I thought I knew it all... You got it down. No wonder you pass all your grades so easily."
Vincent smiles a bit and shrugs. "School's still boring."
Chrissa eyes him, then Samuel clears his throat and asks a question. "I never really understood one thing... So you finish this task, and you stop this calamity... What happens then?"
Vincent looks at him for a moment. "...I go back."
He slowly nods, and the room falls completely silent as they take in this fact. The idea that he will eventually be leaving this world.
"...No." Samuel gets up and puts his napkin on the table, walking out of the room. Chrissa looks up at him, then quickly gets up and follows him.
"Sam, wait!" The two disappear down the hall, and Christina stairs at Vincent.
"Thanks for the bad news." She gets up, along with the others, and leaves the room. And Vincent pushes his plate forward, laying his head on the table.
Lasuno hovers slowly over to him and puts his paw on him. "You did the right thing in telling them now. It's better to do it sooner than later."
He looks up at him, his eyes teary. "I don't know what to do... I can't hurt them like this. I've put too many people through this already..."
"Then don't... Of all the things I've learned, one thing I know is... even through life and death, you have a choice, Vincent. You can choose whether or not to go back. And if you truly want to stay, then you can."
Vincent stares at him for a moment. It's true, he doesn't have to stay in the Spiritual Council. But he's also afraid of what may happen, should he leave.
After a short while, he takes his stone necklace and stares at it for a bit, then holds it in his hand, causing both Lasuno's and Larisa's to glow a light blue color.
In the two sisters' bedroom, Christina, who is on her bed, crying, slowly looks down at her own necklace as it glows light blue. She picks it up and sniffs, sitting up and looking at Melissa, whose necklace is doing the same.
Melissa looks back at her and sighs, slowly getting up from her bed and holding her hand out. "Come on... Let's go see him."
She slowly nods and takes her hand, getting up and they both walk out of the room, seeing Hector leaving his and Vincent's room and looking at them. His necklace has the same glow as theirs.
In Chrissa and Samuel's room, the two are sitting on the bed, Chrissa's arms wrapped around Samuel as he is rested against her, in almost a breakdown.
Soon, both of their necklaces begin to glow as Chrissa looks down at them, then taps Samuel's shoulder and he opens his eyes to look.
They then look back at each other, and Chrissa nods to him and they get up to go out.
After a short while, Vincent looks up to see his siblings at the entrance of the room. He then gets up and walks over to them, seeing Chrissa and Samuel coming into the livingroom. He looks at them all and takes a short breath.
"I'm going to make a promise to you all..."
They all remain quiet and listen to him as he speaks.
"When my task is over, and I return to the Spiritual World... I will find my way back here, to see you all again. I promise, I will not leave you..."
Soon, Christina slowly nods and steps forward, then hugs him tightly. "You better not leave us, Vincent..."
He returns the hug, and after a short time, she goes back and looks at him, and he nods to her in assurance. "I promise..."
She smiles a bit, and the others come over and hug him, a family hug, assured of his return, when the time comes...
- - - - -
"You've been keeping him hidden for quite a while, haven't you? Your persistence is becoming rather annoying... I came to you, believing that you would lead me straight to him. But you've shown so much resistance, even through the deaths of many in your little group."
"Perhaps you should... give up then... It's obvious we wouldn't tell you where we is... even if we knew."
The shadowy individual smirks and puts his hand on the wounded person, who is strapped to a stake.
"You couldn't be more right about that. That's why I'll take the liberty of eliminating each and every one of you. You serve no further purpose to me."
He steps back and his eyes flicker with a green light, the person closing his eyes tightly as he throws his hand out, releasing a green streak of energy, followed by the words, "Expello Phasmatis!"
And that was the end of him. The killing curse took its effect immediately, and the person dropped his head, his limp body still bound to the stake as the individual walks out, setting the shack ablaze and burning each dead and wounded person inside.
"I'll find you, in time. You can't stay hidden forever..."
~March 11, 2004~
"Vincent? You've been on there for quite a while. Why don't you say goodbye to your friend and shut it down?"
"One moment, mother." Vincent, who has been talking to someone over an instant messaging client on Chrissa's laptop, interrupts his conversation to send a message that he needs to leave.
"Well, you still have your phone, don't you?"
Vincent then responds with another message. "Of course I do, James. I'll talk to you more on there."
"Right then. Send me a message and we'll talk more."
And on the response, he closes the program and sets the laptop to shut down, closing the lid. He then gets up from the chair and nods to Chrissa, walking out of the room.
Several weeks prior to this day, Vincent had heard of another individual whom was talked about to be similar to him. So he asked Chrissa to use her laptop in order to search online for any traces of the person. And what he found was more than he expected... A direct address to contact James over a messaging service.
Since then, he has been talking to him on both the messenger and his own cellphone.
As he goes into his room and sits down on his bed, it is seen from the window that it is night. The clock on his phone shows 10:34pm. A logo shows 'Silph Networks' in metallic style lettering, over a dark blue background, which is set to represent the time of night. He figures it would be best to sleep soon, so he tells James that he'll be ending the conversation early.
"I should probably be going soon as well. I need to start getting up earlier if I'm going to go over there."
Vincent responds to the text message, "You did manage to convince him then?"
"Jack's a handful, but he'll do what I want with the right motivation."
Vincent raises a brow and replies again. "Motivation?"
"I told the Silph Corporation is hosting a convention in Saffron in a few days, and him being so into technology, he wanted to go there."
Vincent smiles a bit and shakes his head. "And you being in Cianwood, I guess I'm right in the way."
"That's the idea. So pretty soon, we get to see each other. And I get to meet your family."
Vincent looks over at Hector, who is asleep on the bed on the other side of the room, then back at the message on his phone and replies after a short moment. "I'm sure they'll be delighted to meet you. Though my brother may like to go to that convention too. Maybe if Jack will take him for a while and mother lets him go."
"Hah, I remember Hector. Who knows, maybe he'll be nice and take him along. I also have a present for you. Jack made it a while ago, but it wasn't up to his expectations, so he wanted to scrap it. I convinced him otherwise."
Vincent reads the message in curiosity. "Oh? What is it?"
"You'll just have to see when I give it to you. You'll love it. But Jack wants me to get to sleep now. He expects me to get on a timely schedule so we're up early for him to go. Says it'll take a couple days, and if we don't waste time, he can be there before it starts."
Vincent rolls onto his back and replies to James again. "Alright. I'll talk to you tomorrow then. Good night, James."
"Good night, Vincent."
He then puts his phone on the desk next to his bed and stretches out, looking around the dark room. "I guess I'd better sleep too... I just hope I can..."
He rolls over again and looks out the window. The sky is clear and a mass of stars can be seen, along with the moon which gives a small illuminating glow in the night sky. Even as simple as he lives, he always likes to wonder what this world holds for him in places outside Pallet.
Shortly, he rolls onto his other side and closes his eyes, soon falling asleep.
- - - - -
"A Messanger... I was told your kind would come to this world. But I did not expect one such as you to find me... You are not the one I was supposed to meet, are you?"
"No... The one you've been seeking is not me. However, I am trying to find him. I fear that he may soon be in danger..."
"So I have expected. I just hope we can find him before it is too late. Perhaps if we search together, we may help one another in finding him."
"I was thinking that might be wise. Very well, then... I'll go with you."
"What is your name, Messanger?"
"...My name is Lucas Crane."
- - - - -
~March 14, 2004~
"Come on, pipsqueak. We're gonna be late."
James digs through his drawers, until he finally finds a small box, and pulls it out. "Aha. Found it."
"I'm gonna leave without you!"
He jumps up and looks out the bedroom door. "I'm coming, Jack! Sheesh, you're so impatient!" He runs out of the room and into the garage, which looks completely packed with metal parts and various electronic objects. Waiting for him is a man of average height, with short black hair and dark purple eyes. He is wearing what would look like normal clothing, except for the various tools and high-tech gadgets attached to different areas of his grey jacket and black pants.
"Any longer and I would've left you here, James."
He rolls his eyes and Jack walks over to a small vehicle, which looks similar to a silver motorcycle, but it has no wheels. Instead are large circular pads mounted to the front and back of it, which sit flat on the ground. Painted on the sides are various different designs in dark colors to contrast to the rest of the vehicle.
He gets on and James climbs on behind him, putting the box inside a compartment in the back and then holding onto him.
"...James, how many times do I have to tell you, get your feet off the ground or you'll lose them."
James rolls his eyes and puts his feet up on the small mounts on each side, then Jack puts his key in the ignition and starts up the vehicle. And immediately, a large amount of heat emits from the two pads and it lifts up into the air, flying out of the garage. Jack then taps a button on it and the door closes behind them as they take off into the sky.
- - - - -
~March 15, 2004~
"I'm going out, mother! I'll be back soon!"
"Okay, don't be too long. You don't want to miss meeting your friend."
"Don't worry, I won't miss him."
Vincent goes outside and looks around, then runs down the stairs of the patio and out into the fields. He pulls out his phone and sees two text messages received on it.
He opens the first, sent at 5:08am, and reads it. "Hey, Vincent. We left Violet early and are coming close to you. I hope you're awake."
He then looks at the next message. "Vincent, wake up already! We're at New Bark, so get out of bed already!"
He then looks at the time sent, 6:28am. It is now 7:04am, meaning James would already be very close. He rubs his eyes a bit, then replies.
"Sorry, I overslept. I'm outside right now. Just tell me when you get to the town."
He puts his phone away and stretches, then hears a high ringing behind him, turning to look as a small hovercraft comes down from the sky and flies off a distance, before landing on a nearby sidewalk, away from the grassy field.
James quickly gets off, then immediately jumps and run away from the craft and falls into the grass. Jack rolls his eyes and looks down at him.
"You impatient twit. You know the air above the ground is very hot when we first land. I don't want to have to replace your shoes again because you decided to rush off and they melted."
James sits up and beams at him. "You're more worried about my shoes than my burning feet. I see how it is." Vincent blinks and walks towards them.
"My apologies, I just can't feel remorse for idiots who get what they deserve."
James gets up and folds his arms. "I love you too, Jackie."
Jack smirks and takes a box and tosses it to him, then puts his hand on the handlebars again. "Yeah yeah. I'd love to stay and chat with your friend, but I'm gonna be late as it is. I'll come get you tomorrow. Don't get into too much trouble."
They hear shouting from the house and Hector runs out, looking overly prepared for this occasion. Jack looks at him curiously, then realizes who he is. He pants as he reaches them. "Sorry, I hope I'm not too late..."
Jack looks down at him from the craft, somewhat surprised at the many things he has on him. "You're... Hector, right?"
He looks up at him and nods. "Yeah, that's me. Jack?"
Jack nods, then smiles. "Hurry, we have no time to waste."
Hector quickly runs over and gets onto the craft, looking back at Vincent. "Tell mom that I left already. Don't worry, I'll be good."
Vincent slowly nods, and Jack looks back at him for a moment. "...Feet off the ground."
Hector blinks and looks down, then puts his feet up and looks back at Jack, who shifts the gear on the craft forward, and it lifts into the air again, before flying off as James and Vincent watch.
Vincent then finally speaks up, causing James to jump from his sudden voice. "That's your brother, huh?"
"Don't surprise me like that! I didn't even know you were there."
Vincent looks at him, chuckling a bit. "Sorry, I guess I should've warned you."
James nudges him, then tosses the box to him and he looks at it curiously, opening it up to reveal what looks like an advanced cellphone. He pulls it out and looks it over, seeing that it would closely resemble that of an smartphone, which have rarely been seen in the world.
"Is this what you were talking about..?"
He nods and smiles. "Jack spent a few months modeling that and setting it up. It actually works quite well and does a few nifty things, but he just didn't think it was good enough for him. I think it'll do good for you though. All you have to do is transfer service from your phone to it and you'll be set."
Vincent smiles a bit and puts his hand on James' shoulder. "Thanks, it's a great gift."
James nods, then pulls out a similar, but more advanced, phone to it. "This one, Jack made for me. I quite like it."
He chuckles a bit, then puts the phone and its cord in his pocket, then walks back to the house, James following. He has never been much into phones, and has used them for only communication. But he is deciding to try it. After all, it couldn't hurt him.
As they get to the house, they are stopped by another voice and then turn to see Christina running towards them from the town. Samuel is seen behind her as he jumps down from Sierra and runs after her. The Flygon watches them and then flies off into the sky again.
"You're rather early... Did you really take the first meeting time?"
She smiles and nods. "Of course I did. I got up bright and early and dragged dad out of bed to take me."
Samuel yawns, then looks at her and pokes her shoulder. "Bright and early... You woke me up at three in the morning just for that. And you simply wouldn't let me go back to sleep."
She looks up at him. "Sorry, dad... I was excited."
"Well, you're lucky it was for such an occasion or I wouldn't have done it."
James looks between them, confused, and Vincent speaks up. "So... what did they say?"
She looks back at him and smiles, looking almost ecstatic. "They accepted me! I'm in! Starting next week, I'll be taking music classes in Saffron. Aerthos and Sierra have already agreed to give me a ride there and back, and keep watch so mom and dad don't have to wake up so early anymore."
"Which means I can sleep again..." Samuel walks by them, then stops and looks at James for a moment. "You must be... James, right?"
He nods and holds his hand out, Samuel shaking it. "Pleasure to meet you, sir."
Samuel smiles and nods to him. "Always good to meet friends of Vincent. You seem quite mature for your age too. Just like him."
James chuckles a bit and shrugs. "Fast growing these days, huh?"
"Of course..." Samuel then looks at Vincent. "I guess Hector's already gone then, if your friend's here, right?"
He nods, and Samuel sighs. "That boy's so persistent. But that's a good thing. He pursues his dreams and interests." He then yawns again and opens the door to the house. "Now I'm gonna go back to sleep for an hour or so. I need to catch up on my sleep."
They watch as he goes in, followed by Christina and Vincent calls to her. "Hey, sis."
She stops and looks at him, holding the door open.
"Congrats on getting in. I'm happy for you."
She smiles. "Thanks, Vincent. I'll try my best."
He nods, then she goes inside and he looks back at James. "...So."
James blinks and looks back at him. "So?"
"We... could go to the Western Forest. I haven't been there in a while."
James looks across the field at the nearby forest, staring at it for a bit. "You do realize that place has been known to be dangerous, right? Even people in Johto refuse to go in there. It would take a skilled trainer to even make it through there in one piece."
"Pfft. Pokemon Trainers are overrated these days. Putting pokemon into little pokeballs and carrying them around isn't a good way to treat them. They should be raised with care and allowed to roam free when they please."
James snickers a bit. "You really must have been born a pokemon before. You have that distinguishing nature that people normally don't have."
Vincent shrugs. "If only I knew." He then walks away from the house and James follows him. "Either way, I'm sure we'll be fine. The rumors talk about a Celebi living there, and I've read some things about them. They don't seem all that bad."
"Well, if we notice something, we should get out while we can. I'm still not all that comfortable about this, Vincent..."
- - - - -
"I see him now... He's going into the forest."
"Good. Approach him carefully. Attacking directly would be a foolish move, especially on him..."
- - - - -
"See, there's nothing scary about this place. It's just really messy and hard to just walk through."
James looks around, then sits down. "I guess you're right. But man... I've never hiked through such a place like this. I need a break."
Vincent nods slowly and sits down by another tree, then looks at him. "Hey. Do you know anything about your task yet?"
He shakes his head. "The Peace Messanger... Such a name doesn't really tell me anything. But I have read up on some things. Apparently two different countries are wavering and starting to turn against each other. So maybe my task is to make 'peace' between them? I don't know..."
"Make peace between two countries... How do you even get that many people to listen to you?"
James shrugs and leans back against the tree. "I dunno. But what about your task, Vincent? Have you learned anything about it?"
"I'm not sure... All I can convey is that it would have something to do with Dialga, the ruler of Time. I get the feeling I may have to meet him, eventually... But how I'll meet him, I have no idea. I just hope we can finish our tasks before it's too late."
James nods, then twitches when he hears a pile of dead leaves crumble behind them. He quickly gets up, and Vincent does the same, the two looking around.
"...Did you hear that, Vincent?"
"Yeah... I get the feeling we're not alone here. Someone's definitely watching us."
After looking around a bit more, a green flash comes from behind a nearby tree, and a streak of energy is shot towards Vincent, James immediately seeing it and throwing his hand out. "Praesidio!"
Vincent jumps back as the green energy hits an invisible sheild in front of him and dissipates. He looks in the direction it came from. "Was that..."
"That was a spell that almost hit you. No question about it."
"Then that means..."
The two immediately release a silver stream of energy, which quickly forms into two swords, each curved in a way that the back ends have three points and the front, sharp end curves inward to a point at the top. In the hilt is a glowing blue gem, shining brightly with Spiritual energy.
Vincent quickly swings his sword, parrying another attack from a pitch black sword, and throwing his assailant back. In front of him now is a man cloaked in all black and a hood over his head to where his face can barely be seen. And two others in the same cloaks come out of hiding, surrounding them.
"These people... Could they be..."
"Vincent, watch out!"
Vincent quickly ducks forward as one of the men jumps at him from behind in an attempt to slash him with his sword. He then spins around, swinging his sword and taking a direct hit to his stomach. The man gasps and he looks up at him as he vanishes into a dark cloud, which quickly fades away.
The other two men stay where they are, now growing more cautious as one of their own as been quickly slain. Vincent then stands up and looks around at them, growling a bit. "What brings them here..?"
They step forward and Vincent and James back up closer to each other, watching them closely.
"I don't know, but they're clearly after us."
One of them throws his hand out, firing another streak of energy at James, and he quickly swings his sword to deflect it. The other man then releases another streak, followed by the words, "Expello Phasmatis!" And Vincent, immediately hearing him, quickly holds his sword in the way, causing the spell to bounce off it and hit a nearby tree. Upon contact, the tree is seen to gradually whither away as if it has grown completely dehydrated.
James turns to him, growling. "How dare you use that on my friend!"
He then runs ahead and Vincent calls out, "James, wait!" as the other person who was facing him fires the same spell. Vincent swings his sword in the way, causing it to backfire and hit the caster, killing him immediately as he fades away like the first one did.
James jumps forward, using one of his selected abilities of Speedster to quickly reach him and slash at him. The man, taken off guard, is sent back from the force of the attack, not taking as much damage as the first one did, but still wounded. He staggers, sticking his sword into the ground as he nearly falls over and catches himself. But he is given no chance to fight back as Vincent swings his sword out and releases a blade of energy to finish him off, making him fade like the others.
The two pant a bit from the sudden attack and look at each other. And Vincent speaks in a low tone.
"Them being here means this world has become far more dangerous than we thought... We'll have to be very careful, from now on."
James slowly nods and casts his sword away, Vincent doing the same. "Let's not tell anyone of this. They will just get in the way and be led into unnecessary harm..."
"Right... Let's head back. I get the feeling these ones will leave traces. We should get out of here, immediately."
James nods again, and the two run off, leaving the forest to go back to the house.
- - - - -
"Heheheh... I found you..."
~November 3, 2006~
"I'll be back, father! I'm going to the market!"
"Alright, Vincent, be back in time for supper."
Vincent walks out the front door and looks around outside, before going off into the town to buy a few supplies.
- - - - -
"You... dared try to attack me? You're a courageous one, I must admit. And quite powerful too... But your courage also led to stupidity."
A Moltres lies on the ground, wounded as it stares up at the shadowy individual, who walks slowly towards it and kneels down. His clothes, which seemed to be charred at first, have quickly restored to normal and the burns on his body have healed.
"I'm rather tempted to end you right here. However, you may just become useful... After witnessing your power, I've decided that you are just what I need for this very situation."
The Moltres blinks and stares him in the eyes, uncertain of what he means but also somewhat nervous. He grins as he places his hand on the bird pokemon's long beak, and his eyes glow green.
"That's right, don't avert your gaze..."
The Moltres then lets out a loud squawk as its own eyes flash the same color as his, cringing and closing its eyes as its will is quickly overtaken due to its injuries, and it is forced under the individual's control.
"Heheh... That was much easier than I expected. You'll make such a good pet." His hand then glows as he spreads an energy through the pokemon, recovering it of its injuries as it opens its eyes again.
"...Come. Let us get to work." He jumps onto the Moltres' back and it squawks loudly, before lifting from the ground and taking off into the sky, leaving the Indigo Mountains.
Lucas, who had just come to the area as they left, growls a bit. "We're too late..."
A Salamence looks at him with a somewhat worried look, and he puts his hand on the dragon pokemon's neck. "It's not your fault, my friend... But we must make haste. I have a feeling that he already knows of his whereabouts."
He gets on the Salamence's back, but is then stopped by another creature. He looks towards it, then shakes his head. "I must go after him alone. If you follow, you will draw too much attention."
"...Very well then, Lucas. But be very cautious. I do not like this a bit..."
He nods slowly, then pats the Salamence and he takes off, following the individual towards the south.
- - - - -
Vincent walks back from the market, carrying two bags of groceries as he goes towards his home. Meanwhile, he is talking to James via messaging on his phone. It is something he has been doing nearly every day since he was given it as a gift. But his attention is soon drawn away as he notices several people in the area, looking towards the sky.
He stops and looks around at them, then follows their gaze as he looks up, noticing what looks like a large, flaming bird flying in the distance. After looking at it for a bit, he soon realizes what it is.
"...A Moltres? What is such a pokemon doing in a place like this?"
Another person, who overhears him, speaks up, causing him to jump a bit at the voice. "Moltres is known to fly through the skies of Kanto. But few have ever actually seen it in real life."
He looks at the person, noticing him to be a somewhat elderly man with a white lab coat. "Oh... Professor Oak, I didn't even notice you."
The pokemon professor smiles at him and nods. "Apologies, young man. I heard about this event and couldn't help but come out and see it for myself. It's a rare gift to witness the arrival of a legendary pokemon."
Vincent slowly nods, then looks back up at it, seeing that it's getting closer to the town. He hears many people speaking amongst themselves about it, but then quickly remembers what he was originally doing.
"I have to get going. My family's expecting me." Professor Oak nods and waves to him as he runs off, to the outskirts of the town. In the meantime, he is keeping his eyes on the Moltres, which seems to now be circling the town as if looking for something.
"What could it be doing...?"
- - - - -
"You certainly are legendary to these people, aren't you? Good... While we have their attention, why don't we put on a little show? If my memory serves me right, it's... there."
The individual points towards in the western part of the town, and the Moltres immediately flies towards it. However, after a short time of flying, he notices another pokemon approaching, looking closely at it and then growling.
"How did I know he would trail me here?"
- - - - -
"Oh dear... A Salamence in this area? Now that is a bit unheard of." Professor Oak looks in the direction of the two pokemon in the sky, noticing them to be over a specific part of the town now.
"It couldn't belong to the family of dragon trainers, could it? But then why is it..."
- - - - -
Vincent stares up at the two, beginning to get an unnerving feeling as he now picks up speed towards his house.
- - - - -
"Time's served you well, hasn't it Lucas?"
Lucas glares at the person from the back of the Salamence, saying nothing.
"...I've finally found the location of Vincent. Do you know what happens now?"
Lucas looks down towards the house below. "...Vincent. So it has been you, all along..."
"Took you long enough to realize, Lucas. But it's too late now. On this day, the final Temporal Messanger shall fall, and the task will come to its ultimate end."
Lucas averts his gaze back to the individual and growls. "You won't do such a thing... Salamence!"
Salamence fires a Dragonbreath at the Moltres, who swiftly dodges the attack and then the individual taps him. In response, the fire pokemon's wings flare up brightly and it releases a powerful Fire Blast towards the house before Lucas gets a chance to make another action.
- - - - -
Vincent, seeing the sudden attack by the Moltres, stops and gasps as an unbelievable occurance happens. His home has now been struck by the attack, and quickly bursts into flames.
"...This didn't just happen..."
Immediately upon instinct, he rushes to the house, seeing all three of his siblings running out. He goes over to them and throws down his bag.
"Are you all okay?"
Christina coughs a bit and pants. "I-I think so... Where's mom and dad?"
They look around, and Vincent realizes that they're still inside. "They didn't come out yet..!" He runs towards it, then stops and turns back to them. "Get Aerthos and Sierra down here! We need to put out this fire! I'll try to find mom and dad!"
They nod, then Vincent runs inside the house, looking around. "Mom! Dad! Are you in here!?"
No response is heard. He frantically searches through the rooms in search of them, until finally reaching Chrissa and Samuel's bedroom, where the two are seen lying on the ground, with burns and other injuries from the flames. He runs over to them, seeing that Samuel's are far more severe.
"Mom..? Dad, are you okay?"
Chrissa gasps a bit and looks up at him. "Vincent... Samuel... didn't make it..."
Vincent's heart drops after hearing this, and he looks at Samuel. "No... That can't be true..."
"You need to get out..."
He clenches his fists and then takes her arm, getting her to her feet and then putting her over his back to escort her out. "I'm not leaving you here, mom."
Chrissa pants and tries to hold on as Vincent walks out of the room as quickly as he can. As they go down the hallway, Chrissa begins to hear a cracking sound, and immediately acts upon it, using what energy she has to jump and kick Vincent away before the ceiling caves in.
The only thing Vincent can hear from her is a loud shriek as he falls to the floor a distance away. He quickly gets back up and looks back, seeing that she is now buried under the burning wood.
"Vincent! There you are!"
He turns to see Larisa and Lasuno flying to him. Larisa is carrying Aurora in her arms as the smaller Latias appears to be unconscious.
"We have to get out of here! The entire house is going to collapse!"
Vincent growls deeply, then looks back at the fallen wood, a tear falling from him. "I'm so sorry..."
He then turns and runs out, the others following as they make it out of the house. The ceiling above the livingroom caves in behind them as they barely escape. Vincent runs down from the patio and drops to his knees in the grass, coughing from the exposure to the smoke.
Christina and the other siblings run over to him and Melissa kneels down to him. "Did you see them in there..?"
Vincent clenches his fists in the grass, crying. "They didn't make it, Melissa..."
Christina gasps, in shock at what she heard. "What!? No! That's not possible!"
Hector looks back at the house, then growls. "What kind of cruel joke is this? I want to know who did this!"
Vincent slowly comes to his feet and turns his gaze up to the sky, where the Moltres is still flying over them. And the others look towards it as well.
- - - - -
"What a pity... He didn't die from that. I always knew you Messangers had nine lives."
Lucas growls deeply. "You inferior creature... You'll pay for that."
The individual sneers and turns back towards him. "Oh really? Come and get me then, if you're so confident."
Lucas pats Salamence, who charges forward, and the individual smirks, casting a black sword in his hands and then swinging it out, creating a powerful sheet of dark energy that flies towards them.
Salamence, unable to react to this, is struck by the energy and is knocked down. The Moltres then fires a Flamethrower and Lucas responds by creating a barrier of energy. Salamence then regains his composure, and flies forward once more. And the individual's eyes glow before he throws his hand out. " Arteriam!"
A large burst of compressed energy comes from his hand, hitting Salamence off guard, and sending him off into the sky. And the individual smirks. "Heheh... I love explosive endings."
- - - - -
Vincent growls and his body becomes engulfed in silver energy as he then focuses it, glaring up at the Moltres. The others look at him, becoming curious, and the individual turns down towards him.
"Oh..? Show me what you've got then, young Messanger." He pats the Moltres, and it charges another Fire Blast, before releasing it at full power.
Everyone ducks out of the way, but Vincent stands his ground and then releases a wave of energy to hold the attack back. He then casts a sword in his hand while maintaining the energy, and swings it out to release a blade that knocks the Fire Blast back at the Moltres.
The individual, seeing this, quickly jumps off and cloaks himself in dark energy as he fades away before the bird pokemon is struck with its own attack. It lets out a loud squawk and what seems to be a small green burst comes from its body, before it closes its eyes and shakes its head.
The spell over it is now broken, and the Moltres slowly opens its eyes, looking around and then flying off.
Vincent then falls back down after the large amount of energy he used, and the others quickly go over to him. The threat is now gone, but what happened can never be reversed. Chrissa and Samuel will never come back after this.
- - - - -
~Hours later, at sunset~
"Were you able to locate the bodies?"
The fireman nods and looks back at the remains of the house. "They're pulling them out right now. It's unfortunate that they couldn't be saved though. I feel really bad for these kids..."
Vincent, who has been sitting on the bumper of one of the fire trucks, looks towards what used to be his home and sighs. Christina looks at him, then soon gives him a tight hug, and he closes his eyes, holding back his tears.
"I couldn't save them... I was right there and I couldn't do a thing..."
"Vincent... Don't put this on yourself. You did what you could," Christina says.
He hits his fist against the truck. "But it wasn't enough!"
Melissa turns to him and smacks him. "Would you quit blaming yourself? None of us were able to stop this from happening! We all lost our parents! So quit making this just about you!"
Vincent glares at her, and she goes to sit by him. "We're all suffering from this, Vincent. But do you think mom and dad would want us to mourn over this forever? I'm sorry for hitting you, but you've got to get a hold of yourself..."
Hector comes over and looks at them. "It may not be much, but..." He places his hand around his own necklace, causing the others to glow with a yellow light, and they look at them. "Do you remember when these were given to us?"
Vincent looks back at him in silence, and Christina speaks quietly. "Mom and dad said this was our family bond... That we could never be separated with them."
Hector nods. "They'll always be with us..."
Vincent stares at him for a bit, then gets up and walks off. And Christina looks at him. "Where are you going?"
"I have to find something. I'll be back."
He then goes to the house and ducks under the caution tape surrounding it, walking inside. A nearby fireman looks at him and shouts out, "Hey, you can't go in there!"
But he ignores him and continues, going into the livingroom. He looks around, then goes to a small dresser, kneeling down to it and opening one of the drawers. He then pulls out a box and opens it, seeing the white necklace still completely intact.
"It is still here..." He takes the necklace and sets the box down, then puts it in his pocket, getting up again and looking around. The fireman runs into the house and looks at him.
"Hey, I know you're going through a lot right now, but you can't be in here. It's too dangerous."
Vincent looks at him for a moment, eventually nodding a bit and then walking back outside with him. He goes back over to the others and they look back at him.
"...I won't stay here."
Christina stares at him. "So you're really going through with it then..."
"I have no choice, Christina. I know the one who attacked us has something to do with the task. I have to find them and stop them before it's too late. Otherwise what happened will only be the beginning of something far worse."
Christina sighs and leans back against the truck. "You know, I really hate that you're a Messanger. I wish we could just live a normal life."
Vincent goes over to her and puts his hand on her shoulder. "Don't worry, Christina... When it's all over, we can. And we'll be able to be happy. Just give it some time."
She looks at him for a bit, before finally uttering, "...Okay."
He then hugs her, then looks back at the others. Larisa then flies over to him. He looks at her curiously, noticing someone missing. "Where's Lasuno?"
"He went to take Aurora to Altomare... He wants to help, but he doesn't want her to have to get involved. I'm still worried that she may have lost her memory from the fire. She didn't seem to know who any of you were when she woke up..."
Vincent sighs and shakes his head. "I hope she'll get better. But at this point, it may be for better that she doesn't know what's happening. She may try to go with us."
Larisa slowly nods. "I'm sure she'll remember eventually..."
He nods and looks back at Christina and the others. "I'm going to take the Western Forest into Johto. I want to try and get a hold of James in Cianwood. He may be able to help."
Christina nods a bit and stands up. "Alright then... I'll search around to see if I can find anything that might help. If you're going to do this, you're not doing it alone."
Melissa jumps down from the top of the truck and looks at them. "I'll go with Christina. I'm sure Aerthos and Sierra can take us to search from the sky." She looks at the two dragon pokemon nearby, who nod to her.
Hector gets up from the ground and stretches a bit. "Don't leave me out."
Christina looks at him. "But how would you get around? I don't think they can carry all three of us."
Larisa shakes her head. "Lasuno will be coming back soon... He might be able to help. I'll go with Vincent though. He shouldn't wander alone after everything that's happened..."
Vincent turns to her, almost wanting to tell her not to but knowing she's made up her mind. So he goes over to her and strokes her neck. "Just be careful, Larisa... I don't want you putting yourself in a position where you'll be in danger."
She smiles a bit and nuzzles him. "Don't worry, I'll be fine. You just worry about yourself."
He slowly nods and looks back towards the others. "Okay... So we know our course of action. Everyone just try to be safe and don't do anything rash. If you get a hint of danger, don't take any chances. From here, we're all on our own."
Christina pokes him. "I know that. You don't have to be so dramatic."
Vincent sighs. "I just don't want anything to happen to any of you, okay?"
"We'll be fine. Stop worrying so much, you'll give yourself a heart attack."
Melissa goes and hugs him, and he soon returns it. "Let's just make mom and dad proud, alright?"
He looks at her for a bit, then slowly nods and smiles. "Of course... I'll do anything for that."
"Lucas, you fool... You almost got yourself killed."
Lucas sighs and gets stands up, looking at Salamence, then at the other creature. "I didn't expect him to display such power... That was beyond what I could've been prepared for."
"Well next time, be a bit more careful. You shouldn't risk your life like that."
He goes over to the Salamence and strokes his neck, and the dragon pokemon closes his eyes, still recovering from the damage he sustained from the attack.
"I'm sorry, my friend. That was a selfish act of me..."
The Salamence looks at him and shakes his head, nuzzling his hand in reassurance. And Lucas smiles a little, sighing in relief.
The creature then speaks up again. "Vincent has left his home. I examined the town last night. The residents have been working on taking down the house. But no one who lived there appears to be in the area."
Lucas looks back and slowly nods. "I expect he left to search for the one who did all this. But if so, he could be walking right into danger. I will keep an eyes on him. I'm still not entirely certain he can do this. Especially after what's happened to the previous Messangers who have taken this task."
"Give him your beliefs. If you lose hope, you will never know if he could have or not."
He nods, then looks back at the Salamence. "I suppose I shall take my leave. It will be very difficult for him. I hope he can pull through."
He gets onto the dragon pokemon's back and pats him, and he takes off into the sky, the creature watching before it leaves as well.
- - - - -
~November 29, 2006~
Larisa looks around, the two having arrived at the port of Olivine, which is located in the western part of Johto. She is growing curious as to Vincent's reasoning for being in such a place.
"Is this the place you were led to?"
He slowly nods. "There is supposedly a ship that leaves this place and goes directly to Cianwood, where James would be meeting us."
The Latias blinks and looks at him. "Wait, that's the person you've been talking to, right?"
"Indeed. Apparently he has done research, and believes he has come to a possible answer for the conclusion of his task. So we will be meeting with him, and then taking the ship out to the deserts of Orre."
Larisa nods, somewhat confused, but she accepts it.
"His brother, Jack, has agreed to purchase two passes onto the S.S. Aqua. One for James and one for me. He said to pick it up at the docks before I go on."
Larisa smiles a bit. "That was nice of him."
He nods, then follows the GPS on his phone to the area of the docks, where a large building is seen in front of them. "This must be the place..."
His phone beeps and the battery icon flashes red. "...Well that's unfortunate. It's nearly dead."
He puts it in his pocket and they go into the building. After finally reaching the front desk, Vincent talks to the receptionist.
"I'm here to pick up a pass that was purchased for me."
"Do you have identification, sir?"
He nods and pulls out a card from his pocket, placing it on the desk, and the receptionist looks it over, then enters it into the computer. She then opens the registry and hands him a pass, along with his ID.
"Here you are, Vincent Verona. Have a great day."
Vincent smiles and takes them, then walks out of the building. He then looks at the pass and blinks. "Wait... This isn't a pass for the S.S. Aqua. It's... an international ferry pass?"
Larisa looks at it curiously. "What does that mean?"
"Well, it's valid for any participating ship. So I suppose that means I could take it anywhere and board... Why would he send me this?"
He shrugs and goes to the dock of the S.S. Aqua, looking up at the ship. "That would be it."
Larisa looks at it and backs up. "Wow... Doesn't it look a bit grand?"
Vincent chuckles a little. "I guess it does. But I've seen the S.S. Anne before it was reported to have sunk. It was much more impressive. A luxuary liner that sailed around Kanto."
"I see..." She nods a bit and looks at him. "So when does this leave?"
Vincent walks to a sign by the dock and looks it over. "It should be leaving withinin the next hour. But they stop accepting guests half an hour before it departs. So we should probably go on now."
Larisa looks back at the ship. "Okay..."
They then go to the attendant of the ship and Vincent shows him the card. He then scans it and soon presses a button, the rail lifting to allow them passage. "Enjoy your trip sir."
He nods and the two go onto the bridge. Shortly, they are escorted onto the ship and given a key card with a room number on it.
"Let's see... Floor 2, room 28." They wander down the halls until they find their room, and Vincent slides the card in the door before going in. The room is fairly small with a fancy dark carpet, and has a single bed sitting across from a desk with a chair. There is a small refrigerator placed at the edge of the desk, and a lamp is at the other side.
Vincent goes in and sits in the chair, resting after having been walking for hours. And Larisa flies to the bed to lay down, letting out a purr.
"It's so soft and comfy!"
He smiles and shakes his head. "Silly Larisa..." He pulls out his phone and sets it on the desk, then puts his bag down and takes out the charging cord, plugging the phone in. He sends James a message to tell him he's on the ship, then sits back in the chair.
After several moments of relaxing and talking to James, Vincent gets up again and looks at Larisa. "I'm going to explore the ship. Do you want to come?"
The Latias pouts and looks back at him. "Does that mean I have to get off?"
He chuckles a bit and folds his arms. "Well unless you intend on carrying the bed with you, then yes. But if you want to stay in here alone, I suppose you could."
She sticks her tongue out and hovers up. "You're such a joykill."
Vincent shakes his head and walks out. "We'll be back here later, then you can lay there as long as you like."
"Wait, does that mean you're not?"
"I've grown to become acustomed to sleeping outside a lot of the time. I find it to be somewhat comforting to sleep under the stars."
Larisa nods slowly. "Makes sense..."
Vincent smiles and goes down the hall to the upper deck of the ship, looking over the railing at the sea.
"...The ocean connects the world and all its landmasses. Continents, regions, even places yet to be discovered... They're all bound by the sea, and what the currents bring in are never the same. You never know what you might find, carried in by the world's water..."
Larisa blinks and looks at him. "I've never heard you speak like that... Where'd you get that?"
He chuckles a bit. "Just something that came to me."
The Latias smiles a bit and looks out at the ocean. Vincent then turns back to Olivine, which they had left a few minutes ago. As they come to leave the bay, he looks at Larisa.
"I'm glad you came with me. I'm glad all of you are helping me."
She looks back at him and smiles, hugging him. "We're family, Vincent. We'd never leave you to do something like this alone. Besides..."
She holds up her stone necklace. "As long as we have these, we're never truly apart."
He smiles and nods. "Of course..." He looks at his stone, remembering the ones who gave it to him... the memory of his parents lingering in his mind. He then looks back at the ocean, in thought.
- - - - -
"Hey, bonehead. Wake up. I don't wanna hear you whine when you miss the ship tomorrow, so you gotta be up earlier."
James mumbles lightly as he's shaken from his sleep by Jack. "Just a little longer, mum..."
Jack smacks him and he yelps, rolling off his bed and onto the floor. "Mum ain't here, remember?"
He groans and stares up at him. "She makes a better alarm clock than you..." He tries to kick at his legs and Jack jumps over his foot.
"Come on, James. Your breakfast is gonna get cold." Jack walks out of the room and James rubs his eyes, still groggly.
"Breakfast does sound good..." He gets up and stretches, going to the dresser and pulling out a set of clothes.
After a few minutes, James walks out into the livingroom and looks at Jack, who is on the couch, eating. He sits down and takes a plate off the coffee table, having three sausage links, two strips of bacon and two fried eggs. A cup of pineapple juice sits on the table by where the plate was.
"You don't normally make a breakfast like this. What's new?"
Jack swallows his food and takes a drink from his cup. "News flash, you're going out to do your task and I might not see you again. I want to at least do something nice for you."
James looks at him. "Well you're as cheerful as ever."
He puts his plate on the table and sighs, sitting back. "It's been a long night, James... Thinking about everything and knowing the inevitable. I may not have been the nicest person to you since dad died and mom left... but you're still my brother. And you always will be."
James smiles a bit and gives a light punch to his arm. "Hey. Just like Vincent, even when I finish my task, I'm gonna find a way back."
"You'd better. Otherwise I'll have to hunt down this Spiritual Council of yours and drag you back here by your hair, dead or not."
James smirks. "At any rate, I'll be able to screw up more of your projects. So that's always a plus."
Jack eyes him and shakes his head, pushing his head. "Don't get cocky. Remember what you're supposed to do now. I sent you an email with information on the two sides that might help you. Check your phone when you get the chance."
James nods, then starts eating.
- - - - -
"Are those the Whirl Islands?"
Vincent looks out at the four islands off in the distance as the ship passes, then looks at his phone, pinpointing their location and nodding. "They seem to be... They're quite a bit smaller than I had imagined though."
Larisa stares at them for a while, taking in the sight of the mountainous islands surrounded by several whirlpools. The tides and stormclouds that cover the islands would appear to make it dangerous for anyone to approach them. Still, she wonders what kind of secrets they could possibly hold.
As the ship continues to sail, the islands eventually disappear behind them and the sea around them appears empty once again.
Vincent puts his phone away and looks at Larisa. "We should be at Cianwood by tomorrow. James has been telling me of things he learned about his task. It seems there are two countries who have been conflicting for a few years. Apparently Orre was caught right in the middle of it, and is now the battleground for an upcoming battle."
Larisa blinks. "But... The battle is between two countries. I thought you said it was world calamities you're meant to act upon. Countries and regions fight all the time, there's really no stopping all of them..."
After hearing this, Vincent realizes her point and looks down in thought. "That is true... How could this conflict be different from any other? Now that I think of it, it doesn't really make any sense..."
He thinks about it for a while, before reaching into his pocket and pulling out his phone to call James.
After several rings, he finally answers in a rushed voice. "Hey, Vincent. Sorry for the wait, I was getting dinner and didn't hear my phone right away."
"It's fine, James. Hey, can you check something?"
"Well, sure I guess. What is it? You normally don't make calls."
Vincent looks at Larisa, who is listening to him. "Larisa brought up a very good point that made me begin to think about your task."
James walks into the kitchen to continue preparing his hamburger and places his phone on the counter with the speaker on. "Oh? What was it?"
"What, exactly, is the intent of the two armies in this war? If you were sent on this task to stop them, the outcome of their fighting must have an impact on the world."
"That's... true. I never really thought about that."
"James, you're a Messanger. You really should consider things like that."
James opens the refrigerator, putting away the various condiments he was using, and yelling across the kitchen to his phone. "Hey, don't give me that, smart one! You had to have your Latias friend bring it to your mind before you even thought of it, so I don't even wanna hear it!"
Vincent shakes his head leans back against the railing of the ship. "Well, we're both gonna hear it if we don't look into it. We're short on time, so you might want to get on that." He suddenly stops talking and listens. "...Is that popping I hear?"
"Crap!" James quickly closes the refrigerator and runs over to the stove, turning it off and pulling his nearly burnt fries out of the oil. He puts them on the plate by his hamburger and blows out some smoke from the oil. "Ahh, look what you made me do!"
"Did you burn something again?"
James grunts and cracks the window open to let the kitchen air out, then gets a bottle of ketchup. "Shuddap. This requires great finesse..."
"James? I've fried potatoes, it really isn't that hard."
"Shut it or I'll pour hot oil on you when you get here!" James puts ketchup on his plate and then takes it into the livingroom, having grown annoyed and somewhat embarrassed at his cooking mess up.
And Vincent chuckles a bit. "Well anyways... You should look into it today. We'll be arriving at the port tomorrow morning."
"I shall spend the rest of the day tearing apart the internet to find their deepest secrets... while downloading music."
Vincent rolls his eyes. "You do that. Tell me if you find anything."
"You'll be the first to know. And... probably the last." James snickers and takes a bite out of his hamburger. "I'll talk to you later, Vincent."
"Good luck, James." He then hangs up and looks at the time on his phone. 7:28 PM. "...We should probably go for dinner too."
Larisa nods and looks around, seeing that the deck is now practically empty. "Looks like everyone else has."
Vincent puts his phone away and looks towards the door to the entry hall. "Right... Let's go."
They go back inside and towards the dining area, where they have dinner and then return to their room for the night. The ship would be arriving shortly after dawn, so they decide to sleep early. They need to be ready for the day to come, when they would meet James and prepare for the approaching task...
- - - - -
"Soon... Soon, my lord. You shall have what you seek. Then we shall take our true prize..."
The shadowy individual smirks and stands up, overlooking the barren desert from a high cliff, as the winds blow and dust picks up into the air, the area of a battle soon to come...
Early in the morning, Jack has already woken up and is getting prepared to go. He soon walks out of his room and into James', down the hall, seeing him still deep asleep. He walks over to his dresser and picks up his phone, seeing that the alarm has already long since gone off.
He shakes his head and puts it down, looking back at James. "You gotta get a better alarm, boy..."
He walks out of the room and pulls a device from the hall closet, which has a cord attached to it and a small rod at the end of it. On the device, there is a dial and a red button below it.
He then goes back into the room and over to James, putting the rod in his hand and then adjusting the dial. He looks at James, then presses the button, sending a jolt into his hand and through his body. This causes him to yelp and flip over, rolling off his bed and onto the floor.
When James finally regains his composure, he shakes his head and looks up at his older brother. "What the heck, man!? Not cool!"
Jack smirks and picks up the cord, wrapping it around the device. "I warned you last night that if you weren't up when I came to check on you, you'd get a surprise awakening."
James grunts and staggers up, sitting on his bed. "I was up late, researching! Give me a break."
Jack scoffs and walks out of the room. "Get ready, James. You've got a big day ahead of you. And I'm sure your friend, Vincent, won't want you to miss the boat.
James groans and rubs his eyes, sitting on his bed for a minute before finally getting up and looking at his phone. The time shows 5:48 AM. He sighs and unplugs it, putting it in his pocket. "Just another couple hours of sleep... I'm not ready for this."
After several moments, James comes out of the room, carrying a large backpack which has been stuffed with things for the trip. He drops it down by the coffee table and falls onto the couch, laying back and closing his eyes.
Jack looks at him from the kitchen and chuckles lightly. "You look a little tired, there. When did you finally pass out?"
"Three..." James mutters, almost seeming about to die in his spot.
"Three. That was smart. Can't do much on two and a half hours of sleep, brother. What were you even researching?"
"Historical facts about..." He yawns, mid-sentence. "...the two countries and what they're capable of... I needed to learn the reason for stopping the battle, and what could come, should it go on."
"And did you find anything?"
James shakes his head. "Absolutely nothing. It almost seems pointless to interfere, unless I'm just asking for an early death. But the Council seems adamant about stopping it. So there must be some reason I'm not seeing."
Jack turns down the temperature on the stove and shifts the bacon in the pan around. "Seems like a load of crap to me. Maybe your 'Council' overlooked something and this whole thing is merely a mistake."
James opens his eyes to look back at him. "Yeah, that's very likely. A group that serves Arceus, and has been around for two thousand years, overlooked something as crucial as this."
Jack shrugs. "Hey, I'm just saying. Maybe something went wrong, somewhere. Did you even bother asking the reasoning for sending you in the first place?"
James sighs and lays his head back. "No..."
Jack eyes him for a moment, then goes back to making the food. They are silent for a while, until he is finished preparing breakfast. He then sets two plates up and brings them into the livingroom, sitting down by James and putting his plate on the table.
"Eat up. We've got an hour until the ship arrives."
James looks at it and slowly nods, picking it up and beginning to eat. He soon sets the plate down and looks at the clock on the computer's screensaver. A bouncing, green, digital clock shows 6:12 AM.
Jack looks at him.
"What if they were wrong... about the task? And I'm just doing this for nothing..."
"I was half kidding about that."
James shakes his head. "No, I'm serious. What if they were?"
Jack stares at him for a moment, the somewhat worried expression concerning him. "...Then I don't know. But don't worry about that, James. What's important is that you try your hardest. And don't let anything get in your way of doing what you must. I believe in you, man. So you believe in yourself."
James slowly nods and looks back at the computer for a few seconds, before taking his plate and finishing his food.
After resting for a short while and making final preparations, James looks back at the time. It is nearly 7, and Jack has been in the garage, checking up on his craft and making sure it is running as expected. He makes some minor prepares and then checks his phone on the shelf.
He goes to the sink to wash his hands, then walks into the house. "Hey, James! It's time to go!"
James looks down the hall and gets up. "I'll be right there!"
He grabs his phone off the table and picks up his backpack, before going into the garage, where Jack seen drinking from a bottle of water. The younger brother walks over to the craft and puts his bag in the compartment in the back.
Jack then goes and sits in the seat, James getting on behind him and setting his feet up on the mounts. He then starts the engine and the two take off to the port.
- - - - -
"Hey, Vincent... Look at the sunrise."
Vincent walks out onto the deck of the ship, where Larisa is hovering by the rail and staring out at the sea. The sky is starting to light up as the sun is seen just over the horizon, bringing with it the light of dawn that reflects off the water.
He leans over the rail and gazes out at it, smiling a bit. "I never really got to see this when we were at home... Even when we were at the port, it just didn't look the same. Not like this..."
Larisa makes a soft purr and nods slowly. "...I wonder how everyone's doing... How Lasuno's doing..."
He looks back at the Latias, then puts his arm around her, giving her a hug. "I'm sure they're fine... They can take care of themselves."
She looks down, leaning into the hug. "I know... But I can't help but worry."
Vincent slowly nods and looks out again. "Yeah... I wonder when we'll see them again? I hope soon..."
The two stare out for several moments in silence, until a male's voice on the loudspeaker catches their attention.
" Now approaching Cianwood Island. We will be docking in approximately ten minutes. There will be a thirty minute interval before the ship sets sail to Gateon Port. Returning passengers are advised to board at least five minutes beforehand to confirm their partonage. Thank you for sailing with us on the great S.S. Aqua."
Vincent looks back at the entry hall, then at Larisa. "We'll be seeing James there. Are you ready?"
She nods. "Of course."
He smiles, then turns to go to the cabins, checking his phone and seeing that he has one message.
"Hey, Vincent! I'm on my way to the port. Meet us at the end of the dock. You should be able to pick us out from the other people by the craf"
The message cuts off at the end, and Vincent blinks. "Strange..." He shrugs and takes it off the charger, then the two leave the room and go towards the exit, where many of the passengers are gathered to leave.
As the ship arrives at the dock, the voice on the loudspeaker is heard again. " Now arriving at Cianwood Island. Watch your step when getting off the ship. And we hope you enjoyed your voyage."
Vincent and Larisa watch the other passengers get off, before going behind them and leaving the ship. As they get down to the dock, Vincent gives the attendant his keycard and then walks down the dock to look for James.
After several minutes of searching through the crowd, the two see am arm waving over everyone, as someone shouts out Vincent's name. They soon realize it to be James, and go over to him. Jack is sitting on a bench near a light pole, where the craft is parked several yards away to prevent any damage to anything when it's active.
"Took you long enough to see me. I told you, look for the craft."
Vincent shakes his head. "Yeah, that didn't stick out so much. By the way, your message cut off."
James blinks and pulls out his phone, looking over his messages. "Huh... That's the first time I went past the limit."
"Yeah, there's a 140 character limit for text messages. It's kind of a network issue, but Jack still needs to put some kind of block to keep it from going past it."
Vincent nods slowly. "I see..."
"Oh! Speaking of which, Jack? About that chip."
Jack gets up and goes over to them. "I didn't forget. Let me see your phone really quick, Vincent."
Vincent looks at him curiously, then hands him his phone. He then turns it off and takes off the back cover. After finding a certain spot in it, he places a small chip inside it and closes it again, turning it back on and giving it back.
Vincent watches as it boots up, then notices the clear difference where the service provider has been wiped.
"...What did you do?"
"I realize that you won't be able to pay for your service any longer, due to the current circumstances... That chip I put in wipes your phone's address out of the system and hacks the server. That way, you'll keep your phone on without paying for it."
Vincent stares at him and he folds his arms. "...It's kind of illegal. Which is why you probably shouldn't contact the providers or any authorities with it... It might get you in trouble."
He puts the phone back in his pocket and nods. "Very well..."
"I'm sorry about what happened with your parents. No one should have to experience such a thing."
Vincent sighs and shake shis head. "Nothing can be done about it now... The only thing we can do is move on and try to make the best of things."
James puts his hand on Vincent's shoulder. "Don't worry, my friend. I'll be here until the end."
Vincent smiles a bit. "And so will I..."
James nods, then looks at the ship. "So, fifteen minutes."
Vincent looks at the clock over the station. "...Technically ten. We have to get on five minutes before, for confirmation."
"Right... So, ten minutes."
Larisa looks between them. "Not much to go on..."
Jack shrugs a bit. "We could get something for breakfast. You can take it on the ship."
James looks at him and nods. "Yeah, we could. How about it?"
Vincent nods as well. "We should have time."
James smiles and pats him on the shoulder, then they go to the station.
- - - - -
"I found the two. Just as expected, they would be meeting at his home."
"Good... Follow them onto the ship. I don't like this one bit."
"Very well, my lady." The man gets up and walks off.
- - - - -
"Hurry, we've got one minute left!"
James turns back towards Jack, who is standing by the craft.
"Blow them away. Make me proud and come back home safe."
He nods. "Thanks, bro. Don't worry, I'll come back."
Jack smirks. "You'd better. Remember our little deal."
A voice over the loudspeaker speaks, making an announcement. " We are now accepting the last passengers onto the S.S. Aqua. Please board immediately to make your reservation."
Larisa looks at the ship. "We have to go now."
James looks at her and nods. "Right... I'll see you later, Jack!"
Jack waves to him. "Good luck."
The three then run to the ship and Vincent and James show the attendant their cards. He scans them and looks at the two. "Are you boarding together?"
James nods, and he takes a keycard, giving it to him. "Enjoy your trip."
He nods again and they go onto the bridge to the ship. James looks back at Jack, who nods to him, and he smiles and waves to him, before getting on.
And following behind them, another man gets on, keeping his eyes on them.
"So, what room this time?"
James looks at Vincent, then at the keycard. "Oh! Right. Uhh, floor 1, room 36. Huh, we must've gotten on late."
Vincent looks around. "Seems so. Everyone must've already gotten settled. We probably should too. We'll be at Gateon Port by noon, tomorrow."
"Right then." James nods, and the three go to their room. As they enter, this one appears larger than Vincent's room during the last trip. There are two beds, one on opposite sides of the room, and between them is a long desk with two chairs, and a lamp set in the center of it. And under the desk, where the lamp is positioned, there is a small refrigerator.
James walks in and puts his bag on the desk, then sits on one of the beds. "Haven't seen a two person room on this ship. I suppose it's not that much different than one, though."
Vincent nods and walks in, just before Larisa darts past him and onto the other bed.
"It's just as comfy as the other one!"
James looks at her and chuckles. "Enjoying yourself, there?"
Vincent smiles and sits down by her, putting his bag on the floor by the bed and then stroking her neck. "I think she's grown in love with this ship."
Larisa makes a small purr before saying, "Don't tell Lasuno..."
Vincent blinks at that, then he and James both break into laughter. James reaches over and pats her. "Don't worry, your secret's safe with us."
The three stay in the room for a while, occasionally talking between each other about recent events, then eventually bringing up the important subject of James' task.
"...So what have you learned of the two sides?"
James shakes his head and reaches into his bag, pulling out his phone. "Only a few things that might explain why we'd want them not to fight. But it's not adequate enough information to really help us stop them."
He pulls up a document, then hands his phone to Vincent, who looks it over.
"Historical documents about the countries Chora and Nero. Two countries that have worshipped separate ancient entities of the land and sea... So they're fighting because of Groudon and Kyogre?"
James sits back against the wall. "Keep reading, it gets better."
Vincent reads through the text, seeing the occasional images representing different groups within the countries and descriptions on what their armed forces are trained in.
"Each side is specially trained for combat using power from the two entities... But the thing stopping them from using this power on the world is each other."
James nods. "Whoever won this battle would be able to expand their armies further, and they would be capable of having an impact on the balance of nature."
Vincent shakes his head. "But isn't that what Team Magma and Team Aqua tried a few years ago and failed to do? How do we know this isn't the same futile attempt by just some other group of people?"
"Because these people are infused with this power, themselves. Apparently they're all descendants of ancient worshippers who lived alongside Groudon and Kyogre. If either of them were to gain full control, they could either drown the world or eliminate all sources of water. Regardless of the outcome, many people would die from it. And I wouldn't be willing to bet these people would survive much longer after that either. They're humans too, whether they have powers or not."
Vincent hands the phone back to James. "So we'd need to bring them to their senses and get them to see what would really happen."
James sighs and puts his phone away. "Easier said than done."
Larisa looks between the two and shifts a bit, having grown slightly uncomfortable from the awkward silence.
Then suddenly, there is a knock at the door, and the three turn to look, growing curious. Vincent gets up and walks towards it. "Who could this be..?"
James shrugs. "Room service, maybe."
"We had no requests. Unless you decided to order lunch. Which wouldn't surprise me."
James rolls his eyes and Vincent opens the door cautiously, looking out. Standing behind it, there is a man of average height wearing a grey cloak with the hood down. It would appear there is something around his neck, but whatever it is, it is tucked into his cloak so as not to be seen.
James sits up and looks at the man somewhat suspiciously. "Why does he look so familiar..."
The man looks at James, then back at Vincent, before speaking in a low tone. "I need to speak to you, Vincent... The Council sent me to contact you."
Vincent blinks in surprise and takes a step back. "The Spiritual Council? What would they need to send someone for?"
The man looks around, then walks into the room, pushing Vincent out of the way and then closing the door, looking back at him. "There's been a mistake. They won't give me any specific details, due to the classification of your tasks. But I'm asked to keep an eye on you two for the time being. So I'm going with you."
James sits back against the wall, eyeing the man. "If you'd ask me, I'd say the Council's gone goofy as of late. Nothing seems right anymore."
The man folds his arms and sighs. "There's been a lot of stress lately since you two took on your tasks. People simply can't handle it anymore. Even the Elder's will is starting to falter."
Vincent looks down, in thought. "Strange... I wonder what's going on there?" He then looks back at the man, beginning to recognize him. "You're... Lou, right? Lou Ethelstan."
He nods slowly. "Yes... I'm sure you remember, I only joined recently."
Vincent nods, then goes to sit down on his bed. "I do. If you don't mind, I need to ask a few things about what's happened recently."
Lou looks at him, then walks over to the desk and pulls out a chair to sit down. "Of course. I've nothing but time."
Vincent nods, and they proceed to discussing the current events of the Council to learn about everything that has gone on since Vincent came here. Their talk goes on until night, when they finally decide to go to sleep, having prepared for the following day, when they would finally arrive at Gateon Port...
As Vincent is coming to his consciousness, he is roused by a voice over the loudspeaker. Though he is unable to distinguish what it says at first, until he is shaken awake by someone. He slowly opens his eyes, partially disoriented as he hears a male voice call his name.
"Vincent, wake up already! We're gonna miss the port!"
He blinks, staring at the figure curiously, until he realizes it to be James, and jumps up. "The port? Oh right, Gateon. Umm..."
The voice over the loudspeaker chimes again. "I repeat, we will be arriving at Gateon port in ten minutes. There will be a one hour layover before we set sail to Tangelo Island. Please make any preparations you need while we are docked. For those of you leaving, we hope you enjoy the region of Orre."
James goes to his bed and picks up his bag next to it. "I'm sure you don't want to wind up in the Orange Islands, now hurry."
Vincent grunts and rubs his eyes, looking over at Larisa. "...I wouldn't mind visiting Shamouti someday." He puts his hand on the Latias, stroking her neck lightly, getting a small purr in response. He smiles, and speaks softly.
"Larisa? Are you awake?"
She whines a little and shifts. "Not now Lasuno... Gimme more time..."
Vincent blinks, then chuckles a bit and continues stroking her neck. "Larisa, it's me."
After a bit, she opens her eyes partially. "Vincent..?"
He nods. "Yes, Vincent. Did you forget where we were already?"
She lightly huffs. "Of course not. We're... on a ship. Right?"
"No, we're in Slateport. I had to carry you to the hotel when we docked."
Larisa jumps up and looks around. "Where!?"
James looks at her and scoffs. "Not quite. We're nearing Gateon Port. We'll have to get off in a few minutes."
She sighs and closes her eyes. "Phew... I thought I overslept."
Vincent smiles and pats her head. "Not so much. But we need to hurry."
She looks at him, then nudges his shoulder. "Meanie..."
He blinks, then quietly chuckles and gets up, hugging her. "I'm sorry."
She pouts, but then makes a small coo in response, just before a knock is heard at the door. They all look, and Vincent calls out. "Come in."
As it opens, Lou is seen standing outside, carrying a small shoulder bag, and he walks in. "Are you ready to go?"
Vincent nods and gathers up his bag and other items. "Just about. Sorry to keep you waiting."
He nods and looks at James, who nods to him in assurance. "We'll be right out."
"Very well. I'll be at the bridge." He looks back at Vincent for a moment, then walks out and down the hall. After a minute, the three are ready and leave the room, going to the bridge to meet with him. When they arrive, they turn in their cards and get off the ship."
As they all get to the dock, James looks around. The port is rather large, appearing to have several commercial buildings including shops, resturants and other convenient places. And beyond these areas, where the paved plaza ends, is a wide expanse of barren desert, going as far as they can see.
"...They weren't joking when they said it was nothing but dirt. How does anyone survive that?"
Lou goes to a nearby stand and takes a pamphlet, reading through it. "They don't. There are various tour vehicles they take around the region. And those rich enough afford their own."
James looks at him, then takes a drink from his water bottle. "Huh. Wonder when the next bus comes then?"
Vincent looks around the area, taking a few steps before resting his hand on a rail. He starts to ponder how they'll get around, since taking a tour bus isn't exactly the quickest and safest way to get where they'd need to be. He leans back against the rail, in thought, before he suddenly gets a surge through his head and winces. The others look at him, noticing him cringing, and James runs over.
"Hey! Vincent, are you okay?"
His eyes shut tightly, he takes little notice to James' call, as a vision runs through his mind...
Two men in pale blue cloaks walk along the dock, having departed from a large ship with a rather peculiar label on the side, inscribed in a different language. They speak to the occasional individuals they pass by, gathering different information about the area, until they come to an outside food stand. The two speak to the server for a few moments before one of them notices someone watching them from behind a distant signpost.
He nudges his partner and points at the man draped in red clothing, who quickly ducks back out of sight, and the two look at each other. They nod and then run off towards the ship, jumping the rail that Vincent is leaning against as the food server calls out to them, before the vision cuts out.
Vincent jumps away from the rail and yelps, panting as he looks back towards it.
James, who had ducked back to get out of his way, stares at him with concern. "...Vincent? What happened?"
Vincent looks back at James for a moment, before speaking again. "They're already here..."
James blinks and shakes his head. "Are you talking about Chora and Nero...?"
He nods. "There was a ship from Nero here earlier. Two people who got off it were wandering this place to get information when they noticed a man who looked to be of Chora descent spying on them. We may not have much time..."
James looks towards Lou, who is staring at them curiously. "How did you find this out?"
James shakes his head. "One of the abilities Vincent has is the Dimensional Scream... He can recall visions of the past and the future, related to certain things he touches."
Lou looks at Vincent for a moment, registering what James said, before speaking again. "The past and the future? How can you tell when it is?"
Vincent blinks at the question and James speaks up. "He can't. It just happens-" As he comes to realization of this, he looks back at Vincent. "...at random."
Vincent looks in thought. "...It could've been either one. I never really do know."
Lou nods slowly. "Then we might have time. If it was the future, we can still prepare."
James shakes his head again and takes a step forward. "But if it was the past, we may already be too late. We can't take the risk and just cruise on through. This is serious. We need to do what we can to make sure we make it. We can't waste time here."
Vincent nods and looks at Larisa, who is listening to them and growing concerned now.
"Come on then. Let's find a way to get through the desert first. We can't do anything without transportation."
James looks around for a bit, before speaking in a quieter voice. "I have an idea... Come on."
He runs off and the others follow him, Vincent becoming curious, yet somewhat suspicious at what he's thinking of doing."
As the four run through the port, they are glanced at by several people, taking notice of Larisa and talking amongst themselves about the Latias' impossible sighting in Orre. She looks around uncomfortably, then at Vincent. "Everyone's staring..."
Vincent looks around and sighs. "You're considered a legendary pokemon, Larisa... It'll happen a lot. You remember when people in Pallet first saw you."
The Latias shakes her head. "I wish I didn't... So many little kids were touching me..."
Vincent can't help but smile a bit at the thought, finding it somewhat funny. But his mind is pulled back to reality as James points ahead.
"There. That's where we're going."
Vincent looks ahead curiously. "A... motor vehicle lot? But how would you get one of these"
James rolls his eyes and stops outside the small building in the middle of a lot full of different vehicles. "I'm linked to Jack's bank account, I get a share of money. That's how."
"You're hardly even old enough to drive."
"But he's old enough." James points to Lou, who blinks and looks at him.
"Are you serious? I can't drive."
Vincent shakes his head. "He doesn't have a license either..."
James pulls his phone out and snaps a picture of Lou, then runs through different menus on it before giving it to Vincent. "You said?"
He looks at the phone, seeing Lou in the driving system, then stares at James.
"My brother's a hacker and a machine expert. You didn't think he could make something like this?"
Vincent folds his arms. "He's gonna wind up in jail eventually. Watch."
James scoffs and takes a small device out of his bag, then taps a few things on his phone and the device prints out a card, which he gives to Lou. "If they ever catch him. He's completely undetectable."
Lou takes the card and stares at him. "You're not really going through with this are you?"
"Look, Jack taught me how to drive his craft, I just never got validated. But he designed it just like a motorcycle. You just need to get one for me and I'll take it from there."
Lou shakes his head. "You people and your technology... In my time, that stuff didn't exist."
"You gonna give me a hard time? I'm just asking a little favor."
"Fine, fine! I'll do it." He walks to the building, and James looks at Vincent and shrugs. They both then follow him inside.
A middle aged man of medium height is walking around inside, talking to two people, before he sees the four enter and waves in greeting. He nods to the other two individuals and then walks over. "Hi, what can I do for you fellows, and your... rather interesting pokemon here?"
Larisa huffs and looks away, and Vincent pats her. James looks at her, then back at the man. "I'm getting my friend a present here. We're looking for a bike, preferrably with a trailer if possible."
The man nods and walks outside with them. "I believe we have a few left. They're quite popular among families who want to travel."
James nods and they walk over to the area where the motorcycles are parked. As they look over them, James asks, "Which is the cheapest here?"
The man walks over to a red one and puts his hand on the handlebar. "This one here is two thousand dollars, and it runs quite well out in that old desert. But I wouldn't recommend having a lot of people in the trailer. It would slow you down a lot."
James nods and looks it over for a moment, then back at Lou, who is standing somewhat awkwardly about the situation. He then looks back at the man. "We'll take it."
The man smiles and nods, before taking them back to the building and over to the main desk. "Can I see your license, sir?"
Lou blinks, and James nudges him, before he quickly puts the card on the desk. James then takes out another card and gives it to him, and he scans the two. After a moment, he gives both cards back and goes a cabinet, pulling out a keychain and giving it to Lou. "I hope you enjoy your new motorcycle, Mr. Ethelstan."
Lou shifts a bit and nods, before walking out with the others, and James pats his shoulder. "Was that so hard?"
Lou sighs and gives him the key. "Are we done here? We're wasting time, staying."
Vincent nods. "We should go now."
"Right. Let's go." James runs to the motorcycle and looks back at the building, seeing the man now preoccupied with the two customers he was talking to before. He then nods to the others and they climb into the trailer, and he gets on the seat in the front. After adjusting things, be puts the key in and starts it up, just in time to see the man look outside at them.
"Uhh... Okay, away we go!" He drives off and the man runs out of the building, shouting to them with words they can't hear as they leave the lot.
James looks at the mirror as he goes. "...Is he following us?"
Vincent looks back, then shakes his head, and James sighs.
"I think I painted a target on this thing. Let's get out of here before he sends someone after us."
Vincent slowly nods and sits back against the rail of the trailer. They soon leave the port and venture into the open desert, going towards the north.
- - - - -
"My leige, the army of Chora has been sighted near Phenac. What are your orders of action?"
"They are approaching with haste. Had their scout not come upon us, we would have more time to prepare. Send the first regiment to intercept them. We must stall them at least another day."
"Very well, my leige. I take my leave..."
- - - - -
"Hey... James? We should stop here."
James looks back at Vincent, who is looking around the area with concern. After a moment, he pulls over to a large boulder and stops, shuting off the motorcycle. He gets off and stretches, looking around.
Larisa is asleep in the trailer, laying on a blanket and covered with another. And Lou is leaned against his bag with his cloak over himself, asleep as well. Vincent looks at his phone, see where they are, then puts it in his pocket and gets out of the trailer. "We'll be able to reach Agate Village by noon if we wake up and go straight off."
James nods and walks around for a bit, before pausing and turning towards the east. "Hey look... There's a river over there."
Vincent looks in the direction and blinks. "Yeah, there is... If it's what I think it is, we could actually follow that to Agate."
The two run over to it and stop at a ledge, overlooking the huge river that flows off to the south. It's hard to tell just how wide it is in the darkness of the night, but it's easy to tell this is the river that divides the western section of Orre from the rest of the region.
Vincent kneels down and puts his hand in the water, then jerks it out. And James looks at him with a smirk. "Cold?"
"Just a little... I suppose it's to be expected." He gets up and shivers a little. "Definitely a desert. Hot in the day and cold at night..."
James nods and walks back towards the motorcycle, and Vincent follows. As they get back, James pulls out a blanket from his bag and puts it over himself. He looks back at Vincent, who sits against the boulder. "Hey... Do you have another blanket. It's only going to get colder as it gets later."
Vincent shakes his head. "I'll be okay."
James stares at him, then pulls another blanket from his bag. "Come on, man. Don't be an idiot."
Vincent looks at him as he throws the blanket to him, and he catches it. "...Thanks."
James nods and goes to the boulder with his bag, setting it down and then laying down, using it as a pillow.
"You know, you're really nice for letting her use both of your blankets."
Vincent smiles a bit and covers himself, laying back against the boulder. "She's helped me through a lot. And she didn't even have to... She should have better than this."
James looks over to him for a bit. "...So should you. You didn't deserve what happened to you and your family."
He sighs and shakes his head. "What's happened has happened. It can't be changed, so you have to learn to accept it... It'll be okay though. We're strong..."
James turns back to look up at the sky. "I guess... That reminds me though. You chose the Time Crossing ability, if I remember right. Why? You never use it."
Vincent looks at the stars in thought. "...I feel I will need to at some point. I don't know, but I just get the strong feeling that it will come in use."
James nods slowly. "And the Dragon Taming? What's that about? Your family has a tradition of just that. Seems kind of redundant that you chose that as an ability, especially since it only works once."
Vincent shrugs and chuckles slightly. "I really don't know... I couldn't think of anything else. You took the Speedster ability I wanted."
James blinks and looks back at him. "What are you on about? You're one of the fastest moving people in the Council. I was just kidding when I called you slow before. Frankly, I'd need the Speedster just to keep up with you..."
Vincent sighs and shakes his head. "I guess. But it could've helped some."
James rolls his eyes and shifts a bit on the ground.
After a moment of silence, Vincent speaks again. "I've always wondered... where your brother gets the space to build all the things he does."
James smiles a bit. "There's a solitary island a ways from Cianwood our dad owned. It has a facility run by a computer called ATHER, that helped him with his projects. When he died, he passed the facility to Jack, since he took such an interest in what he did."
Vincent nods slowly. "I see... Why is it called ATHER?"
"Uhh... Active Terminal for Human Emulation and Realism, I think. It's artificial intelligence. Jack's still improving it, but it's quite an impressive piece of work. In fact an operating system based on it is what runs your phone."
Vincent looks at him curiously. "So Jack not only made the phone, but also designed its interface?"
James nods. "Yep. He could technically hack it from the facility if he really wanted to. But I doubt he ever would. No reason."
"...That's nice to know." Vincent rolls to his side and closes his eyes. "We should get some sleep... It'll be a long day tomorrow."
James looks at him, then stretches his arms and closes his own eyes. "Yeah... Goodnight, Vincent."
- - - - -
"You two have traveled quite a ways..."
The shadowy individual walks over to Vincent and James, looking down at them for a moment. "I've grown quite tired of living in this fake shell... It's time for a change."
He kneels down over James and puts his hand on his forehead, closing his eyes as it radiates black energy. James shifts uncomfortably in response, but doesn't wake up. And the individual opens his eyes again, standing up again. "The time will soon come for me to reclaim my body... You've controlled it for long enough... James."
He turns and walks off, a gust of wind blowing his black hood back, revealing his dark brown hair in a style very similar to that of James'. And immediately, he fades into the darkness, leaving the party alone.
"Are you certain they came here?"
"I am. The ship was routed to this region and they were still on it when it arrived."
"Then we should hurry... I expect he will be here as well."
- - - - -
After having driven two days through the Orre region, stopping at Agate Village for supplies and food, Vincent and the other three come to the canyon town of Pyrite for a break.
Entering the town, the four come to realize it to be a place home to many rogues, due to its low maintenance and apparent vandalism on several buildings. As they wander through the town, Larisa gets an uncomfortable feeling, remaining close to Vincent.
The Latias looks around cautiously. "You know... I don't like this place one bit."
Vincent strokes her neck softly to try and comfort her as he looks around the town as well. People in the alleys eye them as they pass by, a fair few of them catching his suspicions as he holds Larisa close to his side.
They soon come to a far point of the town where a chasm can be seen dividing the common area from a massive white dome can be seen looming over all the other buildings. Only a small bridge can be seen connecting the two sides of the chasm, one they are unwilling to cross.
However, to the right of the forbidding chasm appears to be a tall, white building next to the canyon's cliff. This place is seen to be less uninviting than the rest of the town, leading to the four to come to it with curiosity. The front of the building shows four large letters, ONBS, and in smaller text beneath them says, Orre News Broadcasting Station.
Outside the building is a rather large man who looks at them with caution as they approach, standing still in front of the door with his arms folded. As they come to him, he speaks in a deep and opposing tone, yet in a somewhat welcoming manner.
"What brings you guys to this place? Do you have an appointment?"
James looks at the man for a moment, before responding. "Actually, we're not from here. We're traveling the region, trying to find out what we can about two groups who may have been around here. Have you seen any suspicious activity?"
The man lowers a brow at his question as if he'd asked something completely obsurd. "Do you realize where you are? Pyrite Town is the motherload of scoundrels and other nutty people. Suspicious happens every day."
Vincent puts his hand on his face and sighs, then steps up. "That's... not exactly what he was saying. Let me put it to you this way. We believe there are other people from other countries in this region, who could potentially bring danger too the people here. We're asking if you or anyone else have noticed anything... out of the ordinary."
The man stares at them suspiciously, lowering his voice now. "Are you guys crazy? Do you know what a story like that's gonna cause with people like these around? Go take your nut-job plot somewhere else before you start a riot."
Another male's voice on a nearby speaker chimes in, sounding younger. "Is everything okay out there?"
They all look at the speaker, and Vincent soon realizes there is a camera above it that has been watching them. The large man goes over and pushes a button by the speaker. "We got these guys here telling some story about a bunch of people coming and terrorizing the region."
After a moment of silence, the other voice finally responds. "Bring them in, please."
"You sure, Nett? We never met these people."
"Yes, I want to talk to them."
The man turns back to them, staring at them for a bit, before stepping aside. "Go on in then."
They nod and walk into the building, taking immediate notice to the air conditioned interior in comparison to the desert climate outside. As they look around, they notice this place has been well-maintained, unlike the rest of the town. The floor is made of polished marble tiles, and the walls are clean and white, lined with lights that go to the back wall, which turns to a hallway to the right. There is a service desk in the middle of the room, where a teal-haired girl is seen alongside a Breloom.
As they walk to the desk, they are greeted by the girl. "Welcome to the Orre News Broadcasting Station. My name is Megg. How can I help you."
Vincent is about to speak, before the phone rings, and she blinks, motioning for them to wait, before picking it up. "Yes, Nett?"
James eyes her, then pulls out his phone and goes through some things on it.
After a moment, she looks at them. "Okay. I'll send them up."
She hangs up the phone and smiles to them. "Sorry for that. I understand the director is expecting you. If you take the hallway behind me to the end, there is an elevator that will take you to the top floor, where his office is."
Vincent slowly nods and looks at James, before walking around the desk. "Thank you."
They all go down the hallway and to a tubular elevator with a glass door, which opens as they approach it. As they go in, Vincent presses a button on the back wall, causing the elevator to lift up several floors before stopping. The door opens soon after, and they walk out, looking around.
They are now in an open room similar to the ground level, the difference being this one has windows viewing outside, and in the back is another door. As they come to it, Vincent knocks on it, soon hearing the young male voice respond. "Yes, come in!"
As they open the door to walk into the smaller room, they take notice to the brown carpet floor beneath them and dark brown walls, which are lined with shelves and tables. A large, wooden desk sits in the back, occupied by a young man with short, dark brown hair and wearing a red button-up shirt, bearing a tag labeled "ONBS" and the name "Nett" below it.
He looks towards them, appearing somewhat busy, but waving them over regardless as he stands from his chair. He holds his hand out to shake each of theirs, then looks at Larisa with a somewhat surprised look, making her look down in discomfort.
After a brief moment, he says, "Welcome to O.N.B.S. My name is Nett. And you are..?"
They each introduce themselves, and he smiles. "Nice to meet you. My apologies if this place isn't what you may have expected. It's been reconstructed a few times over the last couple years."
Vincent shrugs, taking no mind to this, and speaking up. "Hey, listen. We can't stay, so we wanted to just ask... What do you know-"
"About Chora and Nero?" Nett interrupts, before walking around his desk towards a table by the wall, where there are several papers scattered about around a laptop.
"Well for starters, I know that the two countries are on the same continent as this region, actually on either side of us. We at ONBS have been keeping our eyes and ears open to the happenings around Orre, and have come to realize things have become quite different lately."
Vincent takes a step forward. "How different, exactly..?"
"Since the defeat of a cyndicate that once caused chaos in this region, the people have believed that they could live in peace. After all, the experiments with these Shadow Pokemon have ceased."
Vincent nods slowly. "Yes, I've heard about Cipher... But what happened since then?"
Nett pulls up a program on the laptop and fidgets around with it, before motioning for them to come over.
"Chora is a country descending from the worshippers of Groudon, and Nero is descent to the worshippers of Kyogre. These two countries have been in disagreements since the early ages, so the history says. And Orre has seen its fair share of these disagreements. But only recently has it been directly involved with them."
Vincent looks over the map, showing various points of the region where there have been attacks from either country. There also appears to be a scaled map showing the country of Nero to the coastal northwest of the region and Chora to the east, in the mountains range.
"...So these have been reported to be points of interest with the two sides."
Nett nods. "That's right. There have been several explosions, people winding up attacked when trying to interfere with their affairs, and even some records of battles between smaller groups from both sides."
Vincent blinks. "And the public doesn't know what it is?"
"We haven't been given a substantial amount of evidence to bring to the public, proving that these activities are, in fact, from Chora and Nero. They only hear the rumors that have gone around, many of which have been dismissed. Which makes me curious as to how you know of this."
James shakes his head. "We can't really... explain how we know. There's still so much we don't know, which is why we need more information about them. There should be a way for this to be stopped. If one of the countries is to be victorious in this war, it could lead to catastrophic changes in the world."
"Wait, wait, wait. What do you mean catastrophic changes?"
Vincent looks back at Nett. "These people possess abilities that are beyond that of the normal individual. It's an ancient lore in their countries, and they've come to master them. The only thing keeping them from lashing out on the world... is each other. And if one of them is eliminated, who knows what could happen?"
Nett stares at him for what seems like forever, before turning to walk to his desk. "I think that's enough. The guard was right, you are telling crazy stories."
James growls. "We're not lying! Every word is the truth!"
Vincent nudges him. "Hey, calm down... There's no sense getting worked up about it."
James looks at him, then grunts. "I should've expected something like this in such a place." He storms out of the room, and Vincent looks back at Nett, who is watching them intently. He shakes his head, and walks out, Larisa and Lou following him.
As they leave the building and go back through the town, a group of people come out of a nearby alley and stop in front of them. The person in front, a muscular man in a rider's jacket and jeans, wearing a bandana on his head, smirks as he eyes the four.
"Woah woah, hey fellas. Where're you off to in such a rush? Got some plans?"
Larisa moves closer to Vincent, staring at the group and growing nervous. He puts his hand on her paw and stays in place. "...We don't want any trouble, okay?"
The leader chuckles and takes a step forward. "You gave me a look. You were askin' for trouble since you came here. You think we're just gonna let ya waltz out of here for nothin'? I might be up to makin' a deal... if you got something of value for us."
Vincent glares at him, then moves to try and pass him while holding onto Larisa. But the man smacks his hand down on his shoulder to stop him.
Immediately in response, a silvery glint flashes in Vincent's eyes, and he releases Larisa's paw, grabbing the man's hand and spinning around to forcibly slam him to the ground. Everyone in the group gasps in shock as their leader is apparently taken down with little effort. Vincent then jerks the man's arm behind his back and puts his foot on him, growling. "Stay down..."
The man struggles, being an unbelievable sight for his size in comparison to Vincent, and he grunts. "Alright, alright! You don't have to get all wild about it!"
James, Lou and Larisa just stare at Vincent in surprise to his unexpected lash to the person, and he looks around at the group of people, who back up slowly. But shortly, someone's voice is heard in the distance.
"Hey, hey! Is there a problem here?"
As everyone looks towards the voice, they see an older man, probably in his fifties, in a blue and red uniform and carrying a baton. Vincent lets go of the man and stands up, looking at the apparent person of authority. And one of the other people in the group speaks up. "No, Chief Sherles, nothin's going on. We were just leaving."
Sherles raises a brow, and they all immediately turn to walk off, the downed leader stumbling up and pushing Vincent away, before going off with them. Vincent glares at him as he leaves.
After they're out of sight, Sherles puts his baton away and walks over to the four. "I hope they didn't cause you too much trouble."
Vincent looks back at him, then slowly shakes his head. "No... We're fine."
He nods, appearing a little concerned. "This town has a history of outlaws, so much so that outsiders refuse to come here anymore. And I might suggest you do the same. It isn't safe for the faint of heart."
Vincent looks back at the others, who come over to him, and he sighs. "Let's go... Before things get worse."
James nods. "Right. I have suspicions that things are about to get a lot worse in a little bit..."
Vincent eyes him suspectingly, and he walks over to the motorcycle, which they left behind a small cliff to keep from being noticed by other people. He then looks back at Sherles, who nods to them.
"Farewell to you. And be careful."
He nods back to him and starts off, the other two following him. Sherles watches them as they get on the motorcycle, and soon drive away.
- - - - -
"Hey, Nett? Look at this..."
Nett goes over to the computer where one of the employees is and looks at the screen, before growling. "Those guys hacked us! Right under our noses!"
- - - - -
As night falls, James pulls off to a cliffside near the edge of the canyon. They've made a large bit of distance from Pyrite, and now feel safe enough to rest.
As the four stay the night, they discuss what they've learned about what has happened.
"So we know that Chora and Nero are already fighting," Vincent brings up. "But it really seems that they're just all over the place. How are we going to find out where they'll strike next?"
James leans back against the cliff. "That guy, Nett, showed us a map of where they've attacked."
"Yeah, but I didn't look at it enough to really make sense of anything..."
He pulls out his phone and goes through a few menus, before giving it to Vincent. On the screen is an exact copy of the map that was on the laptop.
"...Wait, did you..."
Vincent looks at James. "You're just as bad as your brother... When did you even do this?"
"When the girl up front was on the phone, I decided to do some work of my own. So I broke into ONBS' network and downloaded all the data I could find about the recent occurances."
"...That is so wrong. You know what'll happen if they manage to find us."
"They won't find us..."
"That's not the point, you should have some morals, James. You know, hacking into secure, official servers is something you shouldn't do."
James sighs and drops his head back against the cliffside. "You're worrying to much. It's really not like I'll be here for anything bad to happen. Once my task ends, I'll go back to the Spiritual World and everything'll be fine. I won't have to deal with this world."
Vincent stares at him, not believing what he had heard. "What did you just say..?"
Lou shifts a bit, knowing where this is going. And Larisa puts her paw on Vincent's shoulder. But James just looks at him with a serious look.
"We're Messangers, Vincent. We come here, we do our task, we leave. It's how it works. There's no sense in staying so attached to people here because you're just going to ditch them in the end."
"Is that what you think? Even when you grew so close to Jack, even when you had a connection to the family you grew up with here. Is that really what you see in it? Just a fake bond?"
James shrugs. "I care for Jack. But pretty soon, I'm just gonna have to let go. And you should too. If you keep going on, trying to fix what happened, lingering on about your parents, it's just gonna destroy you. You'd fail your task here just like you did your last one. Emotional sentiment..."
Vincent throws the phone at him and gets up, walking off, and Larisa hovers up, quickly following after him.
After being hit, James grunts and shakes his head, before looking back towards Vincent. It takes a bit before he realizes what he started. "...I'm sorry, Vincent! Really!"
But Vincent ignores him and walks around the canyon, out of sight. James sighs and closes his eyes. "What did I do to deserve all this..."
Lou eyes him for a moment. "Being in the Council is no easy thing... Ever since I joined, I've noticed just how much we all can be affected by what goes on. And it makes me wonder if I made a right choice..."
James shakes his head and looks at the ground. "Yeah, but... I wish it didn't have to always be like this."
Soon, he reaches over and picks up his phone, brushing off the screen and looking at it. After a moment, he looks closer, examining the map. He then taps the screen, and moves his finger to draw a line between all the places that were targeted in order, eventually forming an incomplete circle.
"...It isn't random. There's meaning behind it... And their next target..." He quickly stands up. "We need to find Vincent and Larisa. Now!" He runs off, and Lou blinks and gets up, running after him and calling out to him.
- - - - -
Vincent comes to a stop and clenches his fist, staring ahead. "He shouldn't have said that..."
Larisa flies around in front of him and looks at him. "Maybe so, but this isn't going to make anything better."
Vincent growls and hits the cliffside with his hand. "It wasn't like him... He never says things like that. He may be a prick at times, but that was cruel."
The Latias sighs and moves closer to put her paws on his shoulders, and he leans back against the cliff, looking to the side and at the ground.
"...Did I ever tell you? About my last task?"
She slowly shakes her head. "No..."
Vincent is silent for a bit, then goes on. "During my last task... I was sent to a different realm to prevent an attack on a forest of innocent pokemon. It was meant to be a task of less urgency than most, but I went to take part in it."
Larisa listens as he continues to speak. "When the real task began, my family in that life was ambushed by a dark group... I lost someone I was close to, and driven out of the forest. And as I traveled, I searched for a way to try and bring peace back to the forest. But it wasn't enough..."
He closes his eyes and winces. "...When I finally returned to the forest, it was already too late. Everyone who lived there had been slaughtered in the attack, bringing about the failure to my task and crushing me. Once I returned to the Spiritual World, I felt I couldn't do it again. That this failure had made me too weak to continue being a Messanger. But many others helped me to realize I had more to strive for. That I could still come back and serve my role. And so I was chosen later on to come here. To serve this task, when no one else could."
Larisa looks into his eyes as he opens them again, and he shakes his head. "That's why I broke when James said what he did. But... that's not the person I know in him. Something must have driven him to it."
The Latias moves closer to hug him, being all she can do, and he lowers his head, returning the hug.
After a short time, the two hear James' voice call out to them as he and Lou run towards them. Vincent looks up towards him, staring in silence.
When they reach them, James looks at Vincent, appearing remorseful now. "Look, I'm sorry... I shouldn't have said that, I don't know what I was thinking."
Vincent sighs and shakes his head. "You crossed the line there, you know that?"
Larisa lets go of him as he steps towards James. "Why did you say it?"
"I..." James looks down. "I really don't know. After we left Pyrite, when we were driving off, something came over me. The reason I stopped was that I was actually feeling really angry. I knew if I kept going, I could wreck the motorcycle and hurt us. But when we were talking... I just don't know what happened. I let my negative feelings take over."
"And yet you brought up emotional sentiment."
James shakes his head. "...I think that was aimed more towards myself."
Vincent stares at him, before walking over and lightly smacking his arm. "Let's just let it go. It never happened."
James looks back at him for a bit, then nods slowly. "Right..."
Lou looks between them and then butts in. "Okay, we settled the whole thing. Now wasn't there something urgent we needed to bring up?"
James looks at him, quickly realizing what he came to say. "Crap! That's right." He looks back at the other two. "We gotta go. I checked out the map again, and they're coming here as we speak. Pyrite Canyon is their next target."
Vincent blinks, the news immediately registering to him. "Are you sure about this?"
"Yes, they'll be in the area any-"
Before he can finish, the four are split apart by a purple Flamethrower, and they quickly turn to the source.
Three people dressed in red cloaks are seen in the distance, along with a Lampent hovering above them. They take no time in directing another attack, the Lampent firing a Shadow Ball towards them. But they quickly dodge the attack and cast their swords, while Larisa gets into a stance.
One of the people calls something to the other two in another language, and they nod, all of them surrounding the four. Vincent looks around at them, holding onto his sword.
"So much for talking sense into them, if they can't understand us..."
The person shouts another order to the others, and immediately, the three slam their fists on the ground, creating a massive tremor as a hole breaks open below them. Vincent, quick to respond, immediately jumps out of the way, pushing James and Lou to the side. As they fall to the ground, he spins around with his sword, releasing a blade of energy in all directions and striking the three.
The tremors stop as they all fall backwards, and the Lampent charges another Flamethrower in response. But Larisa immediately releases a Mist Ball at it, creating an explosion of flames that takes it out.
As James and Lou stand back up again, the other three individuals are starting to stagger up from the attack. But as they hold their swords out to get ready, a ring of black energy bursts up around them. And the only thing they hear are the raspy yelps of the assailants, before the energy disperses, leaving nothing left in its place.
As they all look around, they begin to sense an even larger threat, soon coming to see the faint image another person standing atop the canyon cliff in the darkness, dressed in a black cloak with its hood up.
Lou squints his eyes to look at him, before slowly stepping back. "It's you... You're..."
The individual turns his gaze to him, before uttering in a quiet tone. "You've much outlived your usefulness." Immediately after, he disperses into darkness, and reappears behind Lou. He thrusts his hand out to hit his back, shouting, "Expello Phasmatis!" And not a second later, Lou flashes green and is launched off into the cliff with incredible force, before falling limply to the ground.
Vincent looks at him in shock and runs over to him. "Lou!"
James stares at Lou, not believing what just happened right in front of him. He then turns to the individual, grasping his sword. "Who are you!?"
Lou soon fades into silver particles as Vincent kneels down to him, and he growls, turning back to the attacker. He is barely seen smirking, as he brings his hands up to pull back his hood, revealing his face. He appears astonishingly similar to James in every way, other than his hair being much darker.
Vincent stands up and glares at him, and James' eyes grow larger as he steps back. "No way... How could you have survived?"
The individual chuckles quietly and stands there, taking delight in James' and Vincent's bafflement. "You never have learned. It's not surprising, really... I am but an embodiment of darkness. I do not die, nor do I live. But oh how I have taken much pleasure in tormenting you so very long ago... You remember, right? How I lived within you, and used you as a puppet, long before you were inducted into that Council of yours?"
"Shut up!" James runs over and takes a swipe at him, but he steps out of the way and grabs onto his arm, throwing him to the ground.
"Here's a lesson for you, James... You cannot protect against yourself. And no matter what you do, I will be here every step of the way. You created me. And I will forever be your living hell..."
He disperses into darkness again just as Vincent starts to run towards him, and soon after, James yells out as his body bursts with dark energy. Vincent gasps and stops for a second, then instinctively rushes over to James, the energy fading away to leave him lying motionless.
Vincent drops down to his side and puts his hand on him. "James! James, can you hear me?"
Larisa looks on at the scene in shock, not sure what to do now. As the sword in James' hand fades away, Vincent looks to see it being replaced by a jagged black one. And Vincent slowly stands up, hearing the faint laugh from him.
James staggers up to a kneeling position, holding onto the sword, and then comes to his feet. He stands still for several seconds, before turning his gaze towards Vincent, his eyes visibly glowing a pale green. "...It's good to be back at last."
Vincent steps back, staring at him with both shock and anger. "It's not possible..."
"Hard to believe, Vincent? That your best friend has been reclaimed by his inner darkness. How torturous must it be to lose one you care for right in front of your eyes, and you can do nothing about it? If I recall... it happened before, did it not?"
Vincent stops and glares at him after hearing this. "...That was you? You're the one who rode the Moltres? You're the one who killed my parents!?"
James smirks and turns to walk off a few feet. "You take forever to catch on. As always, you're just one step behind. You're so easy to manipulate. It makes me wonder just how everyone sees you as such a threat. If anything, you're more of a threat to the Spiritual Council."
Vincent growls and casts his sword. "I've heard enough..."
Larisa moves to come closer to Vincent, and he holds his sword out, making her stop where she is. "...Stay out of this, Larisa. I will deal with him..."
James turns back to face him. "It burns you so much, doesn't it? How a cruel fate could befall just one person, forced to bear witness to the destruction of everything around him. Hatred fills your heart, and you just want to lash back and erase it all. But I believe if you truly knew yourself, you wouldn't think in such a way, would you?"
Vincent steps forward, holding his sword in front of himself, and James grasps his own. "Gonna come after me now? Strike me down, I dare you. I'll release your friend the second that blade makes contact, and you'll get to watch him die, by your own hands."
Vincent slowly stops, and James smirks. "Heh... Can't do it?"
Larisa glares at him, wanting to intervine, but conflicted when she knows what could happen from it. And Vincent growls deeply, lowering his sword.
James brings his own sword down as well, and grins. "Emotional sentiment..." He rushes forward, and strikes Vincent across the chest with his sword, ripping apart his shirt and making a rather deep wound as the jagged blade tears through him. He stumbles back and Larisa screams out his name, before James thrusts his hand out, blasting him back with an enormous burst of dark energy.
Vincent hits the ground and rolls several yards, before coming to a stop on his stomach, bleeding profusely as he starts to lose consciousness. Larisa rushes after James, attempting to attack, before he throws his hand out and fires a green streak of energy. "Crux!"
On impact, she screams and falls to the ground, shaking violently for several seconds as immense pain rushes through her body. He then walks towards Vincent, holding his sword out and ready to attack. And just as he loses consciousness, he hears another person's voice call out to him.
The rest now plays in the hands of this unknown savior...
"My lord... They have taken him to Dialga."
"Good... Things have gone as planned. Let us commence..."
- - - - -
"Vincent! Vincent, can you hear me? Vincent!"
As Vincent starts to regain consciousness, he groans to the sound of a female's voice shouting to him. He soon opens his eyes, his vision blurred as he looks around, disoriented. After a while, he begins to focus, noticing he is laying on flat, deep blue stone.
Larisa, who was hovering by him, immediately grabs him in a tight hug. "You're awake! Oh, I couldn't be any more relieved..."
Vincent struggles, gasping from being nearly crushed in the Latias' tight grip. And she blinks, then quickly lets go of him. "Oh! S-Sorry..."
He coughs and falls back on the ground, taking a few deep breaths before looking up at her. "I missed you too..."
Larisa makes a small purr. "I thought I lost you... If it wasn't for that dragon, I... I don't know what would've happened..."
Vincent looks at her curiously. "Dragon...?"
- - - - -
"Eriah, we need to act now. James has already been overtaken. He's too powerful."
A large, black dragon comes down to Lucas and Salamence, who are flying above Pyrite Canyon, overlooking Vincent and James. She is seen to have emerald green eyes and the undersides of her large wings are shaded a deep crimson. She nods slowly to him. "I will take Vincent away from here. You need hold James off."
Lucas looks towards her. "This will be our farewell then. From here on, you must watch over Vincent. His journey will be long and perilous. He will need your guidance."
"Indeed... I wish you luck, Lucas Crane."
He nods and looks towards the two below, just in time to catch the sight of James' fatal attack to Vincent. He shouts out to him and immediately pats Salamence, making him dart down towards them. As James steps towards Vincent, he soon stops to see the dragon pokemon flying towards him, and jumps back to avoid what would've been a rather brutal bite.
Salamence roars and releases a powerful Dragon Pulse at James, who holds his sword in front of himself, being blown back by the attack but having protected from much of the damage.
As they fight, Eriah flies down to Vincent and looks him over, clearly seeing that his breathing is faint. There isn't much time now, and she levetates him onto her back. She then looks at Larisa, who hovers up, still in pain from being stricken by James' curse. But the Latias turns to face the dragon, yelping in surprise and fear from the large creature.
However, Eriah shows no sign of hostility, and merely looks towards the north. She flaps her wings and takes to the air, before flying off at high speed. And Larisa shouts out to her, following her as fast as she can.
It isn't long before they are long out of sight of James and Lucas, as Eriah races towards a distant island in the north...
- - - - -
"...So that's how it happened."
A deep voice echoes through the area. "Had she brought you here much later, you may have been lost."
Vincent and Larisa look up towards one whom they see as Dialga, standing atop a nearby cliff. As Vincent sits up, he looks around at the area he's in, taking note of its entirely blue color as he finds himself in a small valley surrounded by a crescent-shaped mountain range.
"And you... saved me, then?"
"I have been able to reverse the effects of the wound to the point of never having been created. However, I highly suggest that you take care in the future. I cannot further mend your reckless acts."
Vincent sighs and rests his arm on his knee, before realizing what he is sitting on and jumping to his feet.
Below him is a huge, circular shape inscribed into the stone, patterned with an intricate design looking very much like an analog clock. He stares it over, stepping off it as it appears to be glowing faintly. "Is that..."
Dialga stares down towards the pattern. "That is, indeed, the Temporal Seal. It is the very thing that maintains the flow of time throughout this realm. And it is also linked to the task for which you have been set on."
Vincent looks at the Seal a bit longer, before turning his gaze up to Dialga. "Then that means this is the Northern Flare Continent."
"You are correct."
Vincent slowly nods and looks down in thought. "...What happened-"
"James has been forced to retreat. The Spacial Messanger is currently confronting to the countries of Chora and Nero to stop their conflict. You will not have to worry."
Vincent looks back up at him, having taken surprise at this. "Lucas is here? But his task is in the Dusk Realm."
Dialga turns his gaze off towards the ocean that is seen in the distance. "Indeed. However, the Spacial Task is linked to the Temporal Task. They are but of the same nature. And until your task is completed, he cannot proceed with his."
Vincent grows silent, looking down with a sense of discontent. "...So then both tasks ride on my shoulders. If I fail, then so does he..."
"You may take comfort in knowing you are not alone. And as you progress, you will find many allies."
Larisa looks at Vincent, who still seems uncertain, and she moves over to hug him. "Vincent..? I'll always be here with you..."
After a while, Vincent sighs and finally returns the hug, shaking his head. "I know... But the further I get, the more dangerous it will become. I don't want something to happen to you or the others."
"Something will happen to everyone if we don't help you..You know you can't take this on alone, so let us help."
Dialga closes his eyes, his low growl being heard across the valley. "Vincent... You must leave here."
Vincent looks back up at him. "What..? Is something happening?"
Dialga lowers his head, and soon, the blurred image of someone standing in front of him can be seen. As Vincent looks closer, it starts to become clear. A tall person is seen facing Dialga, wearing a pitch black cloak and speaking in a quiet voice to him.
Dialga growls deeply and the Temporal Seal begins to flicker. "Leave now, Vincent... Leave!"
Vincent and Larisa move back slowly, and Vincent's eyes flicker as a split image surges through him, making him realize what is happening. He immediately grabs Larisa's paw and turns to run off. Meanwhile, Dialga appears to be growing enraged as he opens his eyes. What were once a bright, ruby red are now a dark maroon and filled with rage as he glares at the individual in front of him.
Only a faint laugh can be heard from the person as his fades away, just before Dialga releases a deafening roar, causing Vincent and Larisa to fall forward. They both look back to see his appearance begin to change. His blue color becomes darker as the lighter blue lines on his body begin to distort, flickering before they start to turn a bright orange. And the most noticable change is that of his chest diamond, which has now turned to a deep red color.
Almost immediately on this change, the island begins to radiate a powerful ominous energy. Vincent looks in disbelief as the deity of time has now entered a Primal state. He quickly scrambles to his feet and runs off towards the ocean along with Larisa. And as they come to the shore, he looks around for anything that could get them off the island. But there is nothing in sight. As he turns back towards Dialga, he can see a field of energy building up around him, and he acts on instinct, diving into the water.
Larisa blinks and yelps, then dives down after him, just as Dialga unleashes a massive blast across the entire island and several miles out across the sea, vaporizing any living thing in the vicinity and turning the area dark as night.
Having been hit by the shockwave of the blast, Vincent is quickly knocked out by the force. Larisa, seeing this, takes action and brings him up to the surface.
"Vincent, wake up!" She shakes him desperately, but gets no response, and whimpers. "Vincent!"
The area, having now grown deathly silent, radiates an overwhelming aura, causing Larisa to pant weakly as she looks back towards the island. All she can see in the pitch black area is the dim orange glow from Dialga's body lines and the red glow of his diamond.
And as she finally fades out, the two drift off into the open ocean, left to the mercy of the vast water...
- - - - -
In a thick, snowy forest, a Suicune ventures off to the land's shore, overlooking the sea which spans as far as the eye can see. The quadrupedal water pokemon leans down to take a drink from the water, which glows in a greenish light to its touch.
As the Suicune drinks, it eventually notices two figures drift to the shore in the distance. It lifts its head to look towards the unknown entities, and cautiously walks towards the two. As it approaches, it finds itself upon a male teen and a Latias, who are both unconscious.
The pokemon curiously leans down to nudge the person with its nose, getting no more than a slight groan. It then takes a step closer and places a paw on him, radiating a soft aura over him, before moving back a few feet.
As the person starts to regain consciousness, the Suicune snorts and turns off, running away and disappearing deep into the forest.
- - - - -
As Vincent wakes up, he finds himself in a brightly lit area which blinds him the instant he opens his eyes. He yelps and covers his face with his arms, trying to compose himself.
As he starts to get a sense of where he is, he begins to feel many things.
A sense of loneliness...
A feeling of loss and hopelessness...
He quickly sits up and looks around, quickly being brought into the reality he's in and learning that he is surrounded by a blanket of snow and countless trees. He takes several deep breaths and rubs his hands together, putting them over his mouth to try and warm them up.
As he looks to his side, he notices Larisa lying next to him, her body shivering in her sleep. Clearly, she is far colder than he is. As he reaches over to touch her, he can feel that her feathery down is nearly frozen.
He moves over to her and puts his bag down, actually surprised he didn't lose it in the sea. As he rummages through it, he notices that everything inside is still wet, including both of his blankets. He comes to realize that covering her in one would only make it worse for her. He slams the bag back down in irritation, not knowing what to do now.
The only thing that comes to his mind is to try and carry her somewhere warmer first. He closes his bag again and straps it over his shoulder, then moves in front of her, taking her up over his back and leaning forward to try and steady her. He then staggers off into the forest.
After walking for several minutes, he starts to feel weaker, having taken a lot from the cold while trying to carry Larisa through the forest. He comes to a large tree and uses his foot to brush some snow away and clear an open spot. He then sets Larisa down, before collapsing by her and coughing.
He puts his hand on her again, feeling that she hasn't gotten any warmer. He growls a bit and sits up, placing both hands on her. He then closes his eyes as his palms glow a faint orange, uttering a single word, "Aestus," as he uses what energy he can to warm her body. He moves his hands around her body to massage her as the warmth spreads across her.
He continues to hold the spell for as long as he can, before he is forced to stop it so he doesn't pass out. He drops his hands on the ground, using them to stablize himself as he pants heavily. He looks at Larisa, then moves closer to hug her tightly, feeling that it may be too late.
But soon, a small glimmer of light comes from her in the form of a soft whine, and Vincent looks at her again with a blink. He then feels a sudden surge of new hope as he now knows she is starting to come to. He holds his arms around her and closes his eyes, uttering once more, "Aestus Magnum!"
His entire body then glows as he radiates heat all around himself. The snow within several feet of them melts and the bark on the tree turns a darker color as the temperature in the air rapidly increases.
As the glow starts to fade, faint purrs can be heard from Larisa as she begins to wake up. After a short time, she slowly opens her eyes, seeing him still holding her, and then brushing her muzzle against him.
He then opens his eyes to look at her for a moment, then smiles in relief to see that she's awake.
After a short while, the two hear footsteps through the snow, and look around, before turning towards the sound. It is then that they see an elderly woman with greyish green hair and sea green eyes walking towards them alongside two younger men. Each of them is wearing a thick, hooded, white cloak. The older woman is also carrying a staff that is oddly adorned at the top to look similar to the head of a Hoothoot.
She calls out to them immediately after realizing what they are. "Goodness, what are you two doing out in a place like this? You must be freezing!"
Vincent looks up at her curiously, but is too weak to say much of anything. She looks at the two men with her and nods to them, and they run over to help him and Larisa up. She then walks over to them. "Come, come! Let us get you to someplace warmer."
After walking a ways through the forest, they come through a stone archway that leads to a more open part of the forest, which appears to have many treehouses.
As Vincent and Larisa look around, the other three take them to a nearby home. The old woman opens the door and they all walk inside. The two men then place Vincent and Larisa onto two separate beds.
As Vincent looks around, he sees that this is a fairly small place, having no electronic appliances. These people appear to rely solely on the natural resources.
"...Where are we?"
The woman sits in a chair by the table and looks at him and Larisa. "This is the village of Arborville. It's a small and quiet place outside the Northwind Forest, where you two just were."
Vincent blinks and looks back at her. "...Is this Johto?"
She nods and smiles. "You must have drifted in from the ocean. That must've been quite a trip you took, young man. You've got to be quite cold."
Vincent sighs and looks at Larisa. "Yeah..."
The woman looks between them, before getting up. "I've got just the thing for you."
She then walks outside. A moment later, she comes back in with two steaming cups and places them on the table. Vincent and Larisa look at them, before going over.
"Not to worry, it's herbal tea. It's a village specialty."
Vincent sits down in a chair across from hers, and she does so as well. He picks up a cup and blows on it, before taking a sip, then nods to her.
The woman then speaks up again. "My name is Towa, by the way. My apologies for not introducing myself earlier."
"Vincent. And this is Larisa."
Larisa coos softly in response, and Towa smiles to her. "Glad to make your acquaintance. So where are you two from?"
Vincent puts the cup back down. "We lived in the town of Pallet, in the Kanto region."
Towa blinks at that. "You live in the Kanto region? But why were you in the sea here then? This is quite a ways from your home..."
Vincent looks down. "It's... a long story."
Larisa looks at him, then goes over to hug him, and he closes his eyes, remembering all that has happened since he left home. Joining James on his task, meeting Lou and traveling through Orre. Then the point when James was taken away, and Lou was slain. And finally, the arrival to Flare, and Dialga's turning point. It is all vivid to him still. And it all happened so quickly.
Towa looks at him with concern. "If you wish to talk about it, I would be happy to listen. I can see you've gone through a lot, by your expression."
"More than you could imagine..." Vincent looks at her again. "I'll have to start from the very beginning..."
She slowly nods, and he soon begins.
- - - - -
~Three Weeks Later~
"Hey... Larisa? Do you see that, just up ahead?"
Larisa looks through the snowy field, towards the small town that sits in the distance. The two have been traveling through Johto, having blankets over them to keep warm from the weather. "Is that... New Bark?"
Vincent nods and smiles. "We finally made it back. If we go through there, we'll make it back into Kanto. And then..."
Vincent stares at the town, which has a quaint and peaceful feel under the dim light of the moon. It almost feels just like Pallet.
"I'm glad you came with me, through all this. Without you, I could never have made it this far..."
Larisa looks at him for a moment, before moving over to nuzzle at his shoulder. "I could never leave you."
He smiles a bit and strokes her neck. "...Merry Christmas, Larisa."
The Latias blinks, then giggles lightly and hugs him. "Merry Christmas to you too."
The two soon go ahead, to the town of New Bark, where they would be staying one more night on their journey back home. And once they finally arrive to Pallet, it will be a clean slate for them... a new year and a new beginning. From here on, Vincent's real task will start. He is determined to find out what happened to Dialga, and restore him and James... as his role as the Messanger of Time is about to begin...
-The first part of The Messanger of Time has come to an end. But the story is only beginning.
Read on to Part Two, where the real adventure starts, and everything we once knew changes...-
Part 2 - The Messanger of Time
~January 1, 2007~
"There's Pallet! Right through the trees!"
Vincent blinks and looks ahead from Larisa's voice, seeing an opening through the trees. "Hey... You're right. That was fast..."
Larisa smiles and pokes his arm. "Getting distracted again? Come on, we're home now."
Vincent chuckles quietly, somewhat embarrassed by the comment, but then nodding in agreement. "Right. Let's go." He starts off, then slips over a bed of snow and falls backwards, and Larisa meeps in surprise.
"Vincent! Are you okay?"
He groans lightly and rubs the back of his head. "Stupid snow..."
The Latias stares down at him and giggles. "Do you have to learn how to walk again?"
Vincent glares up at her and pulls him up. "It's not my fault Johto and Kanto have bipolar weather. It wasn't snowing when we left two months ago..."
Larisa shakes her head. "You should be used to it by now. One moment, it's clear, the next, it's a blizzard."
"I got that..." He moves his blanket down from his head and brushes the snow out of his hair, then looks back ahead. "Let's try this again."
The two go for a few seconds, before they hear the faint sound of approaching engines. Vincent stops to the sound and stares ahead. "Do you hear that..?"
Larisa nods slowly. "Yeah... What could it be?"
They look at each other, then rush ahead to the open plain, only to get sight of something disturbing.
A group of large trucks and bulldozers are approaching the forest from Pallet, leaving behind a crowd of people in the town who appear to be in distress. They go towards the trucks and stop in front of them, forcing them to a halt as one of the drivers moves his head out the window of his vehicle.
"Hey, what are you doing, kid!? You're gonna get yourself killed!"
Vincent shouts back to the driver. "What's going on here!?"
"What does it look like? We're cutting down this forest! Didn't you read the memo?"
Vincent tenses up at this, and glares at them. "You're what? With what right!?"
Another driver shouts from his truck. "Get out of the way, kid! We're trying to work here!"
Larisa looks at Vincent with worry. "What do we do..?"
Vincent growls and holds his arms out from his sides. "You won't touch the forest."
The second driver scoffs and starts his truck again, then proceeds ahead, followed by the others. And Larisa quickly pushes Vincent out of the way of one of them.
As they drive by, one from the back calls out to them. "Go back home! You're only getting yourself into danger!"
Vincent gets up and shoots a glare at them, his hands glowing. But Larisa moves in front of him. "Vincent, stop! There's nothing we can do..."
He looks at her, then growls and his hands stop glowing. He then runs to the crowd in the town. "I want to know who let this happen."
A woman goes to him and gives him a sheet of paper, before responding. "Apparently the officials from Saffron have made arrangements for a trade with Goldenrod by use of transport vehicles, and the Western Forest is in the way of that..."
Larisa flies over as Vincent looks over the sheet. "A trade... But couldn't they simply do that with the Magnet Train?"
Another man speaks up. "That's what everyone says. But they make an argument that the train is meant for passangers and not shipment of cargo."
He looks up at the man. "That's crazy..! Don't they realize how many pokemon they could drive out of their home by cutting the forest down?"
"It's just empty words to them... They're concerned about profit."
Vincent crumbles the paper and gives it back to the woman. "They need to quit trying to destroy the natural terrain just for money. Didn't they learn when they tried to blow their way through the Silver Mountains to get to Blackthorn Ridge before, and the rockslide happened? If places were meant to be accessed, they would be already."
The woman shakes her head. "Tell that to them..."
He and Larisa look back at the forest as the bulldozers in the front of the group start moving in to knock down the trees. He growls at the idea of not being able to stop them from taking out the forest he's spent much of his life wandering in.
But as they're just about to touch the trees, a green light is seen emanating from deep inside the forest, drawing the attention of the crowd and many of the drivers. As everyone looks towards the source of the light, a wave of teal energy spreads in all directions, causing a massive distortion in the area.
Vincent immediately runs towards the forest, just in time to see a small, green creature fly out above the trucks, and release a bright light. And just as it happens, everyone that is in the vicinity is taken away by a mysterious power, vanishing into thin air.
But Vincent is only able to get a short view of it, before he grunts loudly and drops to one knee. Seeing this, Larisa quickly rushes over to him, calling his name.
"Are you okay!?"
He shuts his eyes tightly as he feels a surging pain run through his head. "I-It hurts..."
"What..? What is it?" The Latias hovers down to his side as he pants, then he soon falls forward, unconscious. She goes down and puts her paw on him. "Vincent!"
Many people from the crowd run over after seeing him fall, one of them calling out, "Hey, what's going on!?"
- - - - -
Vincent looks around, seeing himself in a ravaged valley, in darkness. "Where... am I?"
Soon, light steps can be heard behind him, and he turns around to see a Grovyle approaching him. As the pokemon stops a distance away, the two stare at each other in confusion.
Vincent is the first to speak, asking in a quiet tone, "Who are you..?"
The Grovyle continues to stare at him, going from confusion to caution. "I might ask the same to you."
After a moment, Vincent hesitently responds. "...I'm Vincent Verona. Where... are we?" He looks around the area, and the smaller pokemon immediately grows tense at the name.
He looks back at him. "Did that... mean something to you?"
The Grovyle closes his eyes tightly and shakes his head, before fading out slowly. Vincent runs towards him, shouting, "Hey, wait!" But it's too late. The pokemon is now gone. He sighs and looks around again, before several voices are heard from all directions.
He winces at the shouts which seem to flood his mind, before he drops to his knees and yelps out.
- - - - -
Vincent yelps and jumps up, having been lying in the ground. He looks around, noticing he is surrounded by several people.
Larisa quickly moves out of the way of him and looks at him with concern. "Vincent... What happened to you..?"
He looks at her, then bows his head. "I... really don't know. I think I passed out. And then... there was this dream."
Vincent thinks for a moment. "There was a Grovyle... The place was dark and lifeless, but he seemed like he knew me when I told him my name..."
"...I see." Larisa hovers closer to him. "I don't know about a Grovyle, but..." She hugs him tightly. "You scare me when you just go unconscious like that. I don't know what to do, and panic..."
He looks back up at her, then sighs and returns the hug. "I'm sorry, Larisa... I'm okay now."
A man from the crowd chimes in. "Wait, wait. You're Vincent? The Vincent who used to live over there?" He points off towards what looks like a small garden area surrounded by a wooden fence.
Vincent stands up and stares at it in silence, remembering that it is the exact spot where his house used to be.
The man soon speaks up again. "Hey, I'm sorry for what happened."
He looks back at the person for only a moment, before he turns and pushes through the crowd to go to the garden, Larisa following him quietly. As they reach the outside fence, they walk through a small gate. Inside, there are various potted plants placed, and envelopes wrapped in plastic film strewn along the fence. In the middle of the garden, surrounded by the many flowers, are two stone tablets.
The two go to the tablets and look them over. On one says, "Samuel Alicera - 8/12/1970~11/3/2006," and on the other, "Crissa Verona - 2/6/1971~11/3/2006." They stare at them for what seems like forever, and Vincent steps forward, kneeling down in front of them. He closes his eyes and grasps his stone necklace in silent melancholy.
Larisa looks at him, then moves forward to wrap her arms around his neck in an embrace. As the two remain to pay their respects, another teenaged boy from the crowd overlooks them, dressed in a black jacket and jeans. His only thoughts go to the two who have, not long ago, lost something dear...
- - - - -
As Christina and Melissa stand in an open field, staring at their necklaces which both have a light blue glow, they begin to realize what is happening.
Christina looks at Melissa. "I guess Vincent made it back home..."
Melissa slowly nods and takes hold of her necklace. "Then we'll have to be here to keep helping however we can."
Christina takes her own necklace and nods in return. "Right... Let's keep going. We won't let him down."
The two stones then release a wave of energy through the area, a calming aura that spreads through them, and Sierra and Aerthos flying just above them. They then let go of the stones and they soon stop glowing, the energy fading.
The sisters look at each other, then turn to the city. They are about to start off, when Melissa notices something glowing in the sky above it. She taps Christina's shoulder and points to it, and the two stare at what looks like a tiny dark purple ball of energy.
Before they have any time to react, the ball explodes and releases waves of energy throughout the city. Immediately after, a crash is heard as something appears to shoot down to the ground from it.
The two dragon pokemon above instinctively fly down just in time to cover them from what would've been a harsh impact from the waves of energy. As they do, they are hit with a force nearly strong enough to blow them into the girls. But they are able to stand their ground until it is over.
Melissa and Christina look at the Dragonite and Flygon and immediately run over as they stagger.
"Aerthos! Sierra! Are you okay?" Christina calls to them, and the two shake their heads, disoriented for a moment. They then look down to the sisters, and nod reassuringly.
Melissa steps towards Sierra and puts her hand on the Flygon's head. "Thanks for protecting us... That was brave of you two."
Christina nods and looks up at Aerthos with a smile, and he snorts proudly.
After a moment, they all turn towards the city again and look at the cloud of dust that has risen since the event. Christina grows anxious at this, and speaks up. "Should we check it out..?"
Before Melissa can respond, they hear sirens coming from all all over in the city.
"...I don't think we'll be the only ones doing so."
Christina nods slowly, and they all rush into the city. As they reach what they believe to be the crash site a short while later, they come to see a large crowd of what seems to be over a hundred people surrounding a crater the size of several yards.
As they make it through the crowd, they look into the hole in the ground, noticing something small beginning to move in it... a black, quadrupedal creature staggering up and having purple sparks all around it.
Melissa comes to the edge of the crater to inspect it closer, it eventually becoming clear to be a dark-blue-ringed Umbreon with deep, red eyes. Christina goes over and looks down at it, blinking at the unexpected sight.
The small pokemon shakes its head and looks around at the crowd, appearing shaken and confused. The sparks around its body continue, as it stands still, seeming unsure of what is happening around it.
As several sirens are heard approaching, the crowd of people is scattered by officers running through to the site. One of the officers comes out of the crowd, and calls out to Christina and Melissa. "Girls, I must ask you to step away from the crater! This site is being closed off for investigation."
They look at the officer, then Christina looks back at the Umbreon, who seems to be growing annoyed at being surrounded by so many people. It quickly runs out of the crater and towards the crowd, before being stopped by a burst of flames passing in front of it.
The small pokemon turns to see a couple officers with a Growlithe between them. The canine pokemon growls at the Umbreon, who braces itself. The sparks around its body intensify as it becomes agitated. Then, it does something that no one expects.
"Who are you people!?"
Many of them gasp at hearing the pokemon speak, and Melissa squeaks. "It talks!"
The officers appear dumbfounded at this too, but they keep their positions, in an attempt to keep the civilians away from the Umbreon, and it away from them.
One of the officers runs to the girls, before stopping when Aerthos and Sierra fly down to protect them from the apparent threat.
The Umbreon growls as he fades away, before reappearing in the distance. "Typical of you all to gather at something like this... Can't you all leave me alone!?"
The Growlithe blinks, then its ears twitch and he looks towards the new location of the dark pokemon. A female voice is heard from the crowd. "Arcanine, go!"
In response, a much larger canine pokemon emerges at high speed, stopping at the opposite side of the Umbreon. Behind the Arcanine, a familiar female officer with blue hair and eyes runs out to come to its side.
"We don't want to hurt you! If you come with us willingly, we won't have to use force!"
The Umbreon grunts. "The last time I dealt with cops, they tried to tase me. I don't think so!" His body sparks erradically and he stomps on the ground. Right after, several purple beams shoot up in a line at high speed towards the Arcanine, managing to catch even it off guard as it is blown into the sky with great force, howling in response.
The small pokemon then fades and reappears above the Arcanine, as he flips around with his tail covered in the energy, slamming the much larger pokemon down and knocking it unconscious. He then drops down next to it afterwards and staggers, the sparks now intense as he strains.
Christina and Melissa run to the baffled officer, followed by the two dragon pokemon. And Christina calls to her. "Call off all your pokemon, Jenny! He's only going to keep attacking if he feels threatened!"
The Umbreon looks at her and shudders, and Jenny turns to face her. "Er... We must remain persistent and see to it that he comes to us!"
Christina stops in front of her. "Screw your protocol! You keep this up, more harm will come than good! You wanted him to come willingly, well this isn't the way to make that happen!"
The dark pokemon stares at her as she argues with Jenny, and he yelps out and drops to his side. Christina then turns to him, and quickly runs over to keel down next to him.
"Hey! Are you okay..?"
The Umbreon looks up at her. "N-Nice try there... But I don't feel like going..."
She sighs. "Then you don't have to."
"What are you talking about..? Are you trying to trick me? 'Cause I'll drop you right here if you are."
Christina shakes her head and puts her hand on him. "Oh, cut it out... You look like you're about to explode. You probably wouldn't even be able to do something to me."
The Umbreon huffs and stares at her defiantly, though the sparks die down. "Crazy girl."
She rolls her eyes, then looks back at Melissa and the two dragon pokemon. She then nods to Aerthos, who flies over, and she looks at Melissa and motions for her to go to Sierra. She looks back at the Umbreon.
"What's your name?"
The pokemon stares at her for a moment, before speaking. "...Umbros."
She nods a bit. "Umbros... I'm Christina. We're gonna get you out of here."
The officers, primarily Jenny, stare at them suspiciously as they are unable to tell what they're saying or what they plan to do. Melissa jumps onto Sierra's back, and Christina strokes Umbros' head as he looks at her with confusion.
"Are you serious..?"
"It'll be fine. I'll take care of you."
Umbros sighs. "Fine... Not like I can really move anyways."
Christina then picks him up and jumps onto Aerthos' back, and Jenny immediately runs towards her, calling out. "Hey! What do you think you're doing!?"
The two sisters tap Aerthos and Sierra, and they both take off from the ground before any of the officers get the chance to get near them. Even the flames that come from their squad of Growlithe and Arcanine are unable to reach them as they fly off from the site and away from everyone.
Umbros looks at Christina with uncertainty, but then closes his eyes as he decides to accept what is happening. He awaits what is to come next, as they fly off towards the south end of Cerulean to escape...
~Oak Pokï¿½mon Research Laboratory~
"And that concludes our coverage of this bizarre incident. We'll bring you more as this story develops. In other news..."
Vincent turns away from the television after having watched a news feed about the events in Cerulean. He looks outside the window for a moment. "The Dragonite and Flygon they talked about..."
Larisa looks at him. "You think they could be Aerthos and Sierra?"
He nods slowly. "It's too much of a coincidence. It has to be them. Which means Christina and Melissa are there as well."
"Well, that's good, right? That means we can find them."
Vincent nods slowly. "It's been a while... I wonder how they're doing? And Hector... He and Lasuno are out there too."
Larisa lowers her ears at the mention of Lasuno's name, looking down. He turns to look at her for a second, then moves over to stroke her neck. "You miss him, don't you?"
She slowly nods. "Very much..."
Vincent wraps his arm around her to hug her. "It'll be okay... Once we find them, we'll all be together again."
She makes a quiet purr and closes her eyes. After a short time, Professor Oak walks into the lobby with two cups and a bowl on a tray. "I brought you two some tea."
The two turn to him, and Vincent smiles as he sets the tray on the coffee table and takes a seat on the couch. They then go over to sit down with him
"Thanks again for letting us stay here a while, Professor Oak."
Oak smiles and nods. "Of course. But young man, you really shouldn't be wandering around in the cold with just a blanket. It's really not good for you, or your friend."
Vincent sighs and takes one of the cups, blowing into it. "I don't exactly have anything warm to wear. Almost everything was damaged in the fire, so we took what we could salvage and left."
"And I would assume you never planned anything before you left here, did you?"
Oak looks at him, then gets up. "Would you allow me a temporary leave?"
The two watch him as he walks out of the room, then look at each other. Vincent then takes a drink and Larisa leans down to the bowl, taking a sip. She then squeaks and jerks back, taking a few deep breaths, and Vincent blinks.
"No, it's cold!"
Vincent rolls his eyes at her sarcasm. "That's why you're supposed to blow on it and let it cool down first, silly."
Larisa shoots a glare at him, and he shrugs with a smile. "...Oh, shut it, you."
After a while, Oak comes back and calls to them. "Would you two come with me please?"
They look at him curiously, then get up and go out into the hall with him. He walks them down to another room and takes them inside. In this room, various shelves and hangers standing all over the place, all of them having different types of clothing ranging from pants and shorts, to shirts and sweaters, and even jackets of all sizes. Vincent looks around the room curiously.
"What is this...?"
Professor Oak walks through the room and then turns back to the two. "People have made donations over the years to allow new trainers and others in need of essential items to be able to have them. There is quite the selection to choose from. Since you have lost much recently, I believe it is only right that I let you have this small gift. Pick anything you see fitting."
Vincent looks back at him in surprise, but then feels a sense of reassurring gratefulness at this offer. "I don't know what to say..."
Oak smiles with a nod. "You needn't say anything. It's the least I could do for you. Your family has, in fact, given this town more than just their kind assistance. It would be terrible to let that go to waste. Consider this my own thanks."
Vincent smiles a little, and Larisa looks at him.
"Awww, are you gonna get all bubbly and mushy inside?"
Vincent blushes and looks down, shaking his head. "S-Shut up..."
The Latias giggles and hugs him, and Oak can't help but utter a laugh at it. Soon enough, they hear the doorbell ring, and Oak looks outside the room.
"I believe I should get that. Oh, do take your time!"
Vincent looks at him again and nods, and he walks by them and out of the room. They then look around the room, examining the different kinds of clothing.
After a short while, Vincent finally comes out of the room, dressed in a new attire. He now has a black fabric, zipped-up jacket, lined down the sleeves with a light-grey band which comes up and across the back of the collar, behind the hood. His necklace is tucked inside the jacket, over a plain, black t-shirt. He has loose, black jeans held with a belt, and laced, black leather shoes.
He looks at Larisa, who looks him over and giggles. "Well... You certainly do like your black."
He rolls his eyes. "It's warmer in the winter. It'll help. I picked out a couple sets for when it gets warmer, so I'll be fine."
"Just a couple?"
Vincent shakes his head. "I don't exactly feel like carrying twenty sets of clothes around with me while roaming around, especially since I need to be prepared for anything that comes. And having a bunch of things on me makes me just a bit less mobile."
Larisa sighs and nods. "Yeah, you're right... I just wish we didn't have to be roaming like this."
He reaches over and pets her head. "We won't have to forever. When all this is over, we'll be able to settle down and be at peace again."
The Latias coos softly and looks at him with a small smile. "Okay..."
He picks up a greyish-blue bag and slings it over his shoulder, then the two go down the hall and into the lobby. Here, they see Oak with another, familiar, individual. A male of Vincent's age, with medium-length, pitch black hair and wearing what appears to be a black, goth-style outfit. He has brown eyes, which look at Vincent and Larisa as they come into the room.
"Hey, Vincent. How're you doing?"
Vincent blinks and eyes him curiously. "Heeey, it's... you. Uhh... Raven, right?"
"Yep, that's it."
"...You were watching us before, when we were in the garden."
Raven nods and gets up from the couch. "Yeah. I heard about you guys before and what happened. Just wanted to know if you're okay."
Vincent shrugs a bit. "Better now... How come you're so interested? Seems like you're kinda following me around now."
"Actually, I came here to pick up my pokemon I left with Professor Oak yesterday."
Vincent narrows his eyes at this. "Your... pokemon? That means you're a trainer, then?"
Raven nods again. "Yeah, kind of. I got my buddy Pika a couple years ago, but I haven't gone out anywhere yet. Been too busy to do anything until about a week ago."
"...I see. To each their own, I guess."
Raven looks at him with curiosity. "You don't like trainers, do you?"
Vincent shakes his head. "It's not really that. Just the idea of putting pokemon into little capsules sort of peeves me. But if they seem to be fine with it, whatever."
Oak looks at them for a moment, then stands up. "Some people have their own ideals. Vincent's family trained and cared for dragons for many years, but never put them into pokeballs. And that's fine too."
Raven looks at him. "Yeah, I guess it doesn't matter, as long as they're taken care of."
Vincent nods slowly. "...So, where is your Pikachu, I'm assuming it is by the name?"
"Oh, right! Yeah, he's in the field outside. Could we go get him, Professor?"
Oak smiles. "Of course. Come with me."
Oak leads the two outside and into the fields nearby. After a time of walking around, they come to a small pond where some of the pokemon are wandering around. And under a tree, they see a Pikachu sleeping, its color a darker yellow and the black on its ears spiking off where they turn yellow.
Raven calls out to the small pokemon, whose ears twitch to the sound. It soon opens its eyes and looks around, then ahead to see him, and smiles. The Pikachu then jumps up and runs over, jumping up onto his shoulder.
Vincent watches with a bit of curiosity as the Pikachu nuzzles against Raven's head, and smiles a little at the sight. "I suppose he is happy then..."
Raven looks at him. "Of course he's happy."
Vincent nods slowly, then looks at Oak. "Hey... I think it's about time for me to go now."
The Professor nods and smiles to him. "Come back any time, young man."
Raven eyes him curiously. "Where are you planning on going?"
"It's... kind of hard to say."
"Come on, it can't be that bad."
Vincent sighs and turns off. "You wouldn't believe it if I told you. It's better I didn't tell anyone."
Larisa looks at him and puts her paw on his shoulder. "Vincent..."
Raven folds his arms, and Professor Oak looks between them. "...I think I should be returning to the lab now."
Vincent looks back at Oak, who nods back to him, before walking off towards the lab. He then turns to Raven, seeing that he doesn't appear willing to just drop the subject.
"Is it that bad to be a little concerned?"
"Why are you concerned? What's so significant about me that you have to know?"
Raven puts his arms down. "Because you lived in my hometown. I have every right to want to help out people here who need it."
Pika looks between them and blinks. "...Pi?"
Vincent eyes him, and responds, "It's Vincent..."
Pika blinks at him, and Raven furrows a brow. "Woah, wait... Did you just talk to him?"
"...You understand pokemon."
Raven stares at him. "...Okay. I can get that, you talk to pokemon."
"It's not that... uncommon."
"Just a bit."
Vincent rolls his eyes and turns off. "Look, can I go?"
"Why won't you let me help y-"
"Because you'll get yourself killed, alright!?"
Everyone immediately falls silent. For several moments, the place seems to have become as quiet as a graveyard. And then, Larisa moves in front of Vincent.
"Vincent... Please try to calm down."
Vincent looks at her and shakes her head, and Raven speaks up. "No, I get it. You just don't want me getting involved because it's too much for me. But sometimes people try anyways. See you around, Vincent."
He walks off, and Vincent looks back at him as he disappears off in the distance. He sighs and turns back to Larisa.
"...Let's go. We've stayed too long..."
Larisa looks at him with a low, sad coo, then the two go off to the north, heading towards the exit of the town.
After a while, Raven turns back towards the lab. He stands there for a moment, and Pika looks at him with concern. He then shakes his head. "No, they're not going off alone."
He walks on, intent on getting back to Vincent, even if he has to follow at a distance so he isn't seen. Something about him has made him uncertain... And he wants answers.
- - - - -
"Hello there, Jack..."
Jack looks up from his desk, having been working on a device in his factory. And what he sees makes him drop the needle in his hand and step back.
"Surprised?" James smiles and walks towards him. And he squints his eyes, in disbelief.
"But... I thought you'd gone. What happened, did you just not go back?"
"Oh, you're not wrong. In fact, you're more right than you know."
Jack stares at him. "What do you mean? Why do you have that tone in your voice? And why are you wearing... black?"
James scoffs quietly and walks around Jack. "Hmm... Perhaps you won't understand."
He keeps his eyes on him, clearly concerned. And James turns around to face him.
"Let me just make it simple for you. I am not the brother you knew. James... Yes, he is gone. And in his place is someone who should've been here all along."
Jack backs up, into his desk. "What..?"
"Allow me to introduce myself. I'm James' inner darkness... The part of him he cast away without a second thought, just because I was too... what's the word. Controlling? But he was just naive. If it weren't for me, he wouldn't even have been where he was all this time. And now, he's served his purpose. I'm here to reclaim what is mine. And you..."
Jack stares at him, his hand on the desk behind him to grab at a screwdriver. And James steps forward.
"...I need your assistance. You see, a certain old friend of ours is in the way of what I seek. You remember Vincent Verona?"
Jack keeps his eyes on him, grasping the screwdriver in his hand.
"What I need you to do... is simply to, let's say... create something. Admittedly, he's far too cautious around me to make attacking him a remotely possible task. But you? He trusts you... Therefore, what I need from you, is a weapon that can weaken him just enough for me to finish the job. Think you can do that... brother?"
Jack grunts. "Not for you... You're not my brother. You're just a psychopath in my brother's body." He swings around and makes one swift movement to send the screwdriver into James. But just an inch away from his body, his hand stops.
James stares at him with a smirk, his eyes glowing as his hands held out towards him. "...So close. Yet so far away." He closes his hands, and Jack yelps out, his wrist feeling as though it were being crushed and he drops the screwdriver on the ground. James then swings his hands out and smacks his chest, sending him backwards over the table, and into the shelves behind several yards away, causing the tools on it to fall to the floor as he then falls into the mess that was created.
James steps around the table and kneels down to Jack, placing his hand around his neck and picking him up.
"I'm gonna be generous... just because we're related. I'm gonna let you go for now. But I will return, in time. And when I do, I want you to make a decision. You will either help me, or you'll face a hell unlike anything you could imagine."
Jack looks at him, disoriented now, before he drops him. He then turns and walks away, soon fading away, and Jack eventually loses consciousness on the floor...
"Do you see them?"
"No... It should be clear."
Christina pokes her head out from behind a tree and looks around the area, before walking out with Umbros behind her.
Melissa looks back at them and sighs. "That was kinda close, wasn't it?"
Umbros glances towards the city to the north for a moment, then looks up at Christina. "...Why'd you help me? You could've left me back there, but you risked your lives to get me out."
Christina looks down at the Umbreon and then shakes her head. "I don't need a reason to help others, do I? You were in trouble, so I came and got you out of it."
Melissa smiles a bit. "Christina isn't fond of the police either."
Christina looks back at her and rolls her eyes. "They don't listen to reason. Of course I don't like them."
"You just say that because you and Aerthos almost got arrested for scaring a clerk at an ice cream parlor."
Aerthos snorts and Christina shoots a glare at her. "I told you he got scared of Aerthos! We didn't do anything wrong. It's not my fault he's crazy and called on us just for him being there!"
Melissa giggles and Christina pushes her backwards in annoyance. Umbros watches them with a smile and then sits down, sighing.
"The police where I'm from are much too few to handle the crime that goes around. They don't use pokemon... but they have different weapons to take down criminals with."
The two look at him with curiosity, and Christina asks, "Where is it that you're from, Umbros?"
His ear twitches and he loks back at them. "...Black City."
Melissa blinks at hearing this. "Wait... Isn't that in the Unova region?"
Umbros nods. "Yeah, it's... wait, where is this?"
"This is the Kanto region... We just got out of Cerulean."
The Umbreon stares at her in surprise. "That's... like halfway around the world. How..."
Christina kneels down to him and strokes his head. "Do you remember how you got here?"
He shakes his head slowly and looks down. "I just remember I was being attacked... I don't know who it was, I couldn't see his face. He had a cloak on... But while I was trying to fight him off, I kind of blew up... And then, I blacked out, and woke up in a hole in the ground."
"You don't remember appearing from that light and crashing into the street..?"
Umbros shakes his head again.
Christina narrows her eyes and looks in thought. "Strange..."
"...I want to get home. I want to get back to my friends." Umbros whimpers and lays down. And Christina looks at him, feeling sympathetic at what he went through. She pets him softly and looks up at Melissa.
"You think we should help him, don't you?"
"I thought so... We really should try and get him back home, somehow."
"Yeah..." Christina looks back at Umbros, who looks at her with a longing expression. And she picks him up, holding him in her arms. "Don't worry, Umbros. We'll help you get home."
Umbros whines quietly and buries his muzzle in her shoulder, saying nothing in response. But she can tell that he is grateful at her words. She stands up and turns back to Melissa, who nods back.
After a short time, they start hearing the sirens of the police approaching, and they look towards the city.
"We should go before they find us, Christina..."
Christina nods and they get back on the two dragons, before flying off to the southwest.
- - - - -
~January 8, 2007~
"Well... Here we are, Lasuno."
Hector walks up to a large, metal building on a barren island, and looks around. The area is surrounded by countless windmills, and is filled with vehicles of all different types. Ranging from private jets, to motorcycles, and even hovercrafts.
Lasuno peers around the area, then back at Hector. "...You said you were certain he could help us? But this looks like just a tech lab. Who is it, exactly, we're looking for?"
"It's someone I've known for a couple years, just trust me."
Lasuno stares at him for a moment. "Right..."
The two approach the door, and Hector knocks on it. Soon, a deep, male's voice chimes in over the speaker. "Please state your name."
He blinks at the sudden response, but then speaks up. "Hector. I'm here to-whaa!"
A laser shines on him, moving down his body to scan him, and then the door opens. "Welcome, Hector Alicera."
Hector stares at the door for a bit. "...That was intrusive. Uhh, okay..."
The two go in and look around, before the door shuts behind them. The inside of the building is open. The majority of the building seems to be one large room, with the exeption of a hallway that goes off to the side, leading to a few smaller rooms. The floor is made entirely of concrete, and the walls are almost completely metallic, echoing the loud sounds of various machines running throughout the room. There are tables and shelves spread around, containing equipment of all types.
After several minutes of looking around, they finally come to a shelf which appears to have been heavily impacted, having a mess of tools on the floor in front of it. And in the mess, Jack is seen laying in a puddle of blood, unconscious.
Hector, upon seeing him, immediately runs over and kneels down to him. "Hey, Jack! Jack, can you hear me?"
Lasuno flies over and looks at him, and he soon groans and opens his eyes. "Ugh..."
Hector moves over in front of him, and puts his hand on his shoulder. "Hey, are you okay?"
Jack looks up at him for a moment, then scoffs quietly. "...Yeah. I'm... fine." He brings himself up, then grunts and falls back down, appearing to be in near-critical condition and his arms covered in cuts.
Hector catches him and pulls him up with Lasuno's help, the two getting him to his feet as he pants.
"What happened to you, Jack?"
He groans and starts walking towards his desk, being held up by the two. "...I fell, that's what. ATHER, clean this crap up."
The deep voice from before speaks on the loudspeakers in response, "As you wish."
Hector looks around, then notices a machine on three wheels roll towards the mess they left. He then looks at Jack.
"You... fell. In a pile of tools."
They reach his desk and he slumps down in the chair, laying his head back in exhaustion. He then points to the bottom drawer. "Get... the red box out of there."
Hector opens the drawer and pulls out a first-aid kit. He then sets it on the desk and opens it, and Jack reaches in to get out several bandages. After treating the smaller cuts, he gets a roll of gauze and starts bandaging the more severe wounds.
"...What are you doing here, Hector?"
Hector folds his arms. "Well I was gonna ask if you could help with something. But you don't really look in the shape to do that."
Jack soon finishes and sets the roll on the desk, before reaching for a water bottle and taking a drink. He then looks back at Hector.
"What do you need?"
"I don't want to push-"
"What do you need, Hector? I'll be fine."
Hector sighs and brings his arms down. "Look, I'm trying to help my brother with something. Vincent? Ever since the fire, I've been searching for a way to help with his task. But I haven't come to anything. So I figured, the one who would know most about what's going on, and might be willing to help-"
Jack eyes him almost sternly at the mention of Vincent, and being asked to assist him in his task, which makes Hector stop in his sentence and blink.
He takes another drink from his bottle. "It's not that I don't want to help. But since my brother left, I haven't really been thinking straight. I'm still really edgy about the whole idea. It's like this Spiritual Council gave me a family member... only to take him away after everything we've been through. James and I were very close, as you might've noticed. What will you do once Vincent finishes his task and leaves forever?"
Hector shakes his head. "Vincent promised he'd come back..."
"Did he now? Well, let's see if he holds up to that." Jack gets up and walks off, and Hector runs over to follow him.
"Hey! So you're just gonna leave us like this? I thought I could come to you for anything. You did say that before."
Jack stops and sighs, before turning back to him. "Look. I have nothing against you, Hector. You're a good person and a good friend. You're one of the most intelligent people I've met. But when it comes to these Messangers and all that crap, I want nothing to do with it. I'm sorry."
"...Will you at least do it for me? Please..."
Jack stares at him for several moments, then rolls his eyes and turns off. "ATHER, get him a computer. Give him access to Drive F and the internet. Answer anything he asks you."
ATHER responds, "Right away, sir."
He then walks off again. "I'm going to sleep for a while. Do whatever you need."
Hector watches him, and soon speaks up. "Thank you, Jack..."
Jack goes into the hallway and disappears around the corner, and Hector shakes his head. He looks back at Lasuno. "Sorry you had to see all that."
Lasuno eyes him. "Perhaps a better approach next time would help?"
"I didn't know he'd be all flustered over this..."
"And you never thought he might miss James?"
Hector pauses for a moment, then sighs and goes over to the desk, sitting down. "I guess..."
A few minutes later, the machine that earlier came to clean up returns with a tablet, and holds it out to Hector. He looks at it and blinks, then takes it and puts it on the desk. "Thank you."
He then opens up a window and starts going through files on it.
After an hour of searching and finding nothing, Hector groans and buries his face in his hands. "Why is it so hard?"
Lasuno eyes him quietly, and he sits back in the chair.
"ATHER, are you sure there aren't any reports at all?"
"I have no record of any Temporal anomalies, other than the events at Spear Pillar, last year."
"...And that was just Team Galactic being a bunch of morons. There's nothing else..?"
Hector sighs, and Lasuno hovers idly around the desk. "Do you think, perhaps, that the Messangers' tasks are among events which lie outside any common human knowledge? I'm sure if something major were about to happen that people knew, it would have been brought up long before we ever got here."
He looks over at the Latios and folds his arms on the desk. "And what if it's just something that hasn't been heard about yet? There have to be some clues to what it could be. People can't just go off nothing."
"I hear Messangers have ways of learning what others could never know about their own world. That's how they can do their tasks in secret."
Hector shakes his head. "Then how are we supposed to help?"
"Maybe we're not supposed to help yet... Maybe we're supposed to be there with him when he does need our help."
Hector goes silent for a moment, before picking up the tablet and closing out of the folders he's in. He then pulls up the map. "ATHER, can you tell me where Vincent is?"
"Searching global satellites and tracking Vincent's cellular position..." After a moment, ATHER speaks again. "Vincent appears to be located near Diglett's Tunnel just east of Vermilion."
Hector zooms into the area where a pointer can be seen showing Vincent's location on the route. "Wonder when he got back to Kanto..."
"Vincent is documented to have entered Kanto's Western Forest, January 1, 2007."
"...You keep reports? That's kind of invasive..."
As he goes through the recent stories reported in the area, he pulls up one that catches his attention specifically. After reading it over, he appears to become somewhat tense. "Hey... Lasuno? Come look at this."
Lasuno looks at him, then hovers over to look at the tablet.
"Recent appearances of individuals wearing uniforms relating to that of Team Rocket have been reported in the area of Celadon and Saffron as of January 3, 2007. It is now known that they have overtaken Saffron's police force and newscasting service, so no stories have been published to the general media. This information has been recorded by an individual working for Silph Company, who has bypassed Team Rocket's security..."
Lasuno blinks, clearly confused. "Team Rocket? But I thought they disbanded several years ago, shortly after their takeover in Goldenrod..."
Hector nods slowly. "So did I... Seems some of them just don't know when to quit."
"And Vincent's right near there, too."
Hector continues looking over the stories around the local area, before coming to one that was reported in Cerulean, just a few days ago.
"...Didn't we hear about this one? About the Umbreon in Cerulean?"
Lasuno nods, and Hector reads through the articles pertaining to the event, until he comes to one that was posted just yesterday. As the two look it over, Hector's eyes become wide and he sets the tablet on the desk, getting up from the chair.
"We have to go. Now. ATHER, tell Jack something came up. We're leaving."
"Good luck, sir."
Lasuno looks at him, and the two immediately rush to the exit, leaving the facility. Hector then gets on Lasuno's back and the two fly off towards the east in a hurry.
The tablet appears to be closing all the windows on its own, the last one being open for just a second longer showing a report of the wanted individuals being sighted in the area of Celadon...
"You really have an apt for following me around."
"You're not stopping me, are you?"
"I suppose I should've..."
Vincent and Larisa come to the port city of Vermilion and look around, the sun shining in the middle of the sky, signifying that it is around noon. They'd been traveling for days, and just passed through Diglett's Tunnel as a shortcut here. However, they weren't particularly alone on their travels.
Raven stops behind them as they enter the bounds of the city, panting lightly. "You're too fast..."
Vincent looks back at him and rolls his eyes. "That... tends to happen when you're trying to get away from someone. Why are you following me anyways?"
"I told you why. Whatever you're doing, you're not doing it by yourself. I don't give a crap what you say."
Vincent shakes his head. "Whatever... Get yourself killed, then."
Larisa looks at him and sighs. "Can you calm down..?"
He eyes her for a moment, then looks down. "Fine..."
After a moment, they go on, eventually finding their way to the Pokï¿½mon Center for a break. As they enter, it appears there is a fair number of people inside. Most of them are sitting at tables near a large, flat-screen television on the wall, where the news can be seen.
The three go to an open booth nearby and sit down, and Vincent puts his arms on the table.
"...It's been a while since I've been to a city like this."
Raven looks at him curiously. "What other city is there like this?"
He looks around for a moment, before sitting back in the seat. "Olivine..."
"You've been to Olivine?"
Vincent nods slowly. "About a month or so ago."
Raven squints his eyes at this. "Wait... So you left and traveled all the way across Johto? What for?"
"There was... someone I needed to meet. An old friend who needed help."
He is quiet for a short time, finding it odd that he chose to help someone else so soon after having experienced something as terrible as he had.
After a bit, he speaks up again. "...Did you get to help this someone?"
Vincent looks down at the table in silence, and Larisa looks at him, then puts her paw on his back. Raven, having realized what may have happened, decides to leave it alone.
Vincent sighs quietly and closes his eyes, and Raven stares at him with concern. "Hey, if you don't wanna talk about it..."
"It's fine. I've just been really tense lately and I've been taking it out on you."
Raven sits back in his seat, looking at him quietly. And he takes a deep breath, before looking up at him.
"...I'll tell you the whole story, since you insist on knowing. But don't jump on me when you don't believe it."
"Hey, I've known some crazy stuff."
"Not this crazy..."
Vincent stares at him, then shakes his head. "Okay then..."
- - - - -
"...So, wait... You say you're some kind of spiritual being who came to this world to stop something?"
"And it's gonna happen soon. But you don't know what it is yet?"
He nods again. And Raven sits back in his chair, eyeing him. "...Alright, then."
"See?" Vincent gets up and starts off, and Raven calls out.
"Hey! I didn't say I didn't believe you!"
Vincent turns his head back and stares at him. And he sighs. "It's just... hard to really grasp. I don't get a lot of it. But that doesn't mean it isn't possible... Some of it did make some sense."
Vincent narrows his eyes and turns around to face him.
"Look... I don't really understand a lot of what you said. But that doesn't mean I don't want to try and help. You can't just blow me off because of that."
"...Why are you so insistent on it? Just because I lived in your hometown doesn't exactly add up to me. So are you going to try and help everyone in Pallet whenever something comes up, for that reason?"
Raven shrugs. "I could."
Vincent stares at him, clearly not buying it. "What's your real reason?"
"It's... my own reason. You don't need to know."
"Fine... Then don't expect me to go along with it. Follow me if you want, but I'm not gonna bail you out if you get into trouble. You're putting yourself in more danger than you could know."
"Good. I wouldn't have it any other way."
Vincent rolls his eyes and turns towards the television, curious to what everyone appears to be interested in.
The news is showing a large crowd of people standing outside a gate, which is being boarded off by several police officers in an attempt to keep the people from passing through. There seems to be a great deal of disturbance, as the news anchor speaks up.
"It has been four days now, since this sudden outbreak has occurred, and officials are continuing their efforts to keep the countless upset visitors at bay. It is still unclear as to what is occurring inside the gates of Saffron, and those who are working outside have refused to disclose any information. At this time, it appears to be an endless struggle to find out who is actually responsible for these events."
Raven gets up and looks at Vincent. "...You wondering about it too?"
Vincent nods. "This is much too fishy... These officials are clearly hiding something that the public needs to know."
"Think we should see what's going on?"
"Might as well..."
The three soon take off from the Pokï¿½mon Center, and head north to leave the city. Though it is unclear what they will run into once they get to Saffron... they are prepared for anything.
- - - - -
~ Celadon Cafï¿½ ~
Christina and Melissa have been sitting at a table, taking a break from their wandering and eating a small lunch. It's been nearly a week since their arrival at Celadon, and since then they've learned of the suspicious activities that have gone on in the city, as well as the lockdown of Saffron. They have spent much of their time here trying to learn about what has really been happening, but have had little luck.
The two look around the cafï¿½ at the other people who are there. It seems as though everyone is going about their day, entirely oblivious to what has been happening. And they begin to wonder if the rumors of such activities are really even true, or merely a rouse to start commotion.
Still, it's not something they want to simply dismiss until they've checked into everything they can. They go back to talking amongst themselves, ignoring the three men in dark grey jackets and fedoras walking into the cafï¿½.
"So what do you think, Melissa? Think it really is true? That whatever's happening here has some connection to what's in Saffron?"
Melissa sits back in her chair and sighs. "I'd like to think so. But lately we haven't even come across anything remotely interesting. It's bothering me, really. I mean, the city just ten miles away is completely locked down and no one's able to get inside. Yet everyone here's acting like nothing's happening..."
Christina nods. "Does seem suspicious. But this has been going on for days. Perhaps the only way we can find out what's really going on is..."
"...by going to Saffron?"
She nods again. And Melissa sighs. "I've kind of been thinking the same thing. We may have to go there."
Christina takes a drink of her iced tea and glances around, before noticing the three people sitting at the bar. They seem to be talking amongst themselves, rather secretively, making her stare at them in curiosity. And Melissa turns back to look at them as well, before turning back to her.
"Something the matter..?"
Christina shakes her head and takes another drink, looking at Melissa. "I don't know... Something's... odd."
"You're telling me... I feel like it just became ten degrees cooler in here."
She puts her cup down and looks over at Umbros, who's been sitting in another chair at the table, and looks back at her curiously. She shakes her head and sits back in the chair, glancing back at the three men.
It can soon be seen that one of them is reaching into his jacket pocket, and Christina shifts her gaze at Umbros, who is staring at her. He seems to be growing concerned at what she's doing.
It doesn't take long, before the man pulls out a pokeball, then jumps out of his chair and tosses it, releasing an Alakazam and causing everyone to jump in surprise and stare at it. The other two spring up and release their own pokemon as well, an Arbok and a Crobat.
The waiter at the counter comes over and shouts to them, "Hey! What's going on here?"
The first man glances back at him, and the Alakazam lifts its hands, using Psychic to toss the person backwards, and making several other people gasp in shock.
Christina clenches her fists, and Melissa looks at her, then at the three men who are starting a ruckus. She doesn't want to speak up and make herself stick out from the other people, so she keeps quiet and waits to see what'll happen.
Umbros, however, is staring at the three intently, seeming to grow annoyed from the commotion.
"Alright, everyone! This is how it's gonna be! I don't want anyone interfering with us. As of now, this place is ours, and everyone who stands up to us will receive the maximum punishment. So I suggest you make yourselves comfortable until we decide what to do with you."
Melissa mutters, "Who are they to try and pull this crap..?"
Umbros growls and, without hesitation, vanishes. And they suddenly see the Alakazam get shot off into the wall with great force. Everyone looks where it once was, seeing Umbros standing there, his rings flickering as he turns his gaze to the Arbok right next to him.
The snake pokemon's owner glares back at him. "What is this!? Arbok, poison sti-"
Umbros reacts before he can finish his command, and his eyes glow, before the Arbok is tossed through the window. He then looks at the Crobat, who releases a soundwave from its mouth, causing Umbros to yelp and shake his head.
The first man reaches into his other pocket to pull out a second pokeball, and Christina immediately grabs a salt shaker off the table and tosses it at him, smacking him in the face and making him fall to the floor. Melissa blinks at her sudden action, as she gets up from her chair and runs to the fallen man.
Umbros is soon able to recuperate himself and growls at the pokemon flying above, who flaps its wings and sends two blades of air at him, which are easily dodged. He then jumps up and flips forward, smacking the Crobat down with an Iron Tail and knocking it out quickly.
The other two men quickly call their pokemon back and make a run out the window the Arbok was thrown out of, before they are stopped by a roar and immediately jump back in, frightened.
Melissa looks to see Aerthos and Sierra outside, growling at the two, and smiles, running over. "Thanks, you two!"
Christina kneels down over the person, who has a nice red mark over his cheek bone where the glass shaker hit him. She speaks up in an aggrivated tone. "Who are you, and what do you want here?"
The man grunts and chuckles lightly. "Look at the little girl acting all high and mighty, and- hey, hey!"
She digs through his pockets and pulls a wallet out, opening it up to look inside. And what she sees is something she could never have expected...
"...You're from Team Rocket? A little ahead of your time, aren't you?" She glares down at him, and he tries to reach up to grab his wallet. But she jerks it away and then smacks him across the face with it. "I've seen enough..."
She reaches into the same pocket she pulled the wallet from, and pulls out a keychain, before throwing the wallet at him and standing up. He looks up at her and tries to make a move, before she stomps her foot down on his knee, making him yelp.
She then looks at the people behind the counter. "What are you waiting for? Are you gonna call someone or not?"
One of them blinks, then nods and goes to the phone. And Christina looks through the keys, finding a remote attached to them. "...Tell them these freaks are from Team Rocket. See if they believe that story." She looks at the other two people, who glare at her. "And you two? Consider yourselves lucky I give you the same treatment as your friend here..." She goes over to the door, followed by Umbros, and looks at Melissa.
She blinks, then runs over to her. "Umm... right, yeah."
"Hey, wait! Who's gonna pay for the window?"
Christina glances back at the waiter, then at the two men. "I'm sure these nice gentlemen can cough up some money if you ask them nicely. You should watch and make sure they don't get away though..." She walks out, along with the others, and Melissa looks at her.
"Christina? You can be really scary sometimes..."
She takes the remote and starts pressing a button on it as she walks through the parking lot. "I don't deal with idiots... Especially those ones. The pathetic lot wasn't even worth fussing over, yet they acted so tough..."
Melissa stares at her and sighs, and they soon hear a beep come from one of the cars. They then walk over, seeing a silver car which looks similar to that of a Kia GT, with seemingly no damage.
"Seems they take care of their car, at least..." Christina clicks the remote, unlocking the car, and then looks up at the two dragons flying just above. "Can you two follow us?"
They nod, and she gets into the driver's seat. Melissa climbs in the front passenger's side, and Umbros gets in after her, jumping to the back seat.
"...Where are we even going, Christina?"
"Where else? To Saffron. If these guys are related to the ones there... if Team Rocket's really back, and is in Saffron, we can expect to be dealing with a load of trouble when we get there."
She looks at her as she starts the car up and checks the gas, seeing that it's nearly full.
"Are you sure you can even drive this? You only learned a few months ago..."
"Don't worry... It'll be fine."
Melissa shifts a bit, and pulls the seatbelt over herself. "Yeah, and then we'll crash into a pole, or fly ourselves off an overpass..."
"You worry too much." She pulls out of the lot and into the street, then drives off towards the east.
- - - - -
~ Saffron Southern Gate ~
Vincent, Raven and Larisa look over the bushes at the huge crowd outside the gate. It seems as though there are even more people here than what they saw on the news.
"Well, here we are."
Vincent looks over all the people, and then at the guards in front of the gate. "Wonder how we'll get around."
Larisa looks at him curiously as he stands up from the bush. He goes over to the crowd, soon followed by the others.
"I'd assume talking to them won't get anywhere. I doubt they know any more than anyone else."
Raven nods and looks over to the guards. "...I don't suppose you plan on trying to break through, do you?"
"If things go wrong, we may have to..." Vincent walks around the crowd, coming to a spot where he's able to make it through to the front. A few people glance at him as he passes, but no one says anything and seem too preoccupied with their bickering amongst each other and with the guards. At this point, it appears that the guards have stopped trying to reason with them, and have taken to merely making sure no one enters the city. He makes an attempt to talk to one of them himself.
"Excuse me... sir? What's going on here? Why is the city blocked off?"
The guard looks at him and seems to grunt out of annoyance. "Look, we've explained this to everyone already. There's been an incident in the city, and we've been told to lock it down until further notice."
Vincent eyes him suspiciously at his tone. Something is clearly off... but he can't tell what it is. "...What incident?"
"I don't have authorization to give you that information. Why don't you just go back where you came from? It's difficult enough already to deal with all these other-"
The guard looks at Larisa as she makes it through the crowd to Vincent's side, and she blinks, staring curiously back at him.
Vincent looks at Larisa, then back at him, and between them again. "What?"
The guard stares at Larisa for a moment, and she hovers back uncomfortably, before he shakes his head. "Nothing. Just do me a favor, go home."
He turns to walk off, and Vincent reaches over to grab his shoulder. "Hey, wait! Why were you looking at her like..."
He grunts and releases his grip before falling to the ground... a surge going through his mind.
In a vast mountain range, a large plant with a red R at the top can be seen. As the scene goes into the building, a stretch of hallways is seen, which eventually lead to a large room. Inside, there are several different machines running, and people dressed in labcoats.
But as the scene progresses further into the room, two large tables can be seen encased in glass tubes, where two familiar pokemon can be seen... Larisa and Lasuno. And they appear to be greatly injured.
A woman with long, black hair can be seen, overlooking the room from a balcony, wearing a red button-up jacket over a small, black shirt. Her eyes, piercing black, are staring at the two with intent.
The vision, almost as quickly as it came, disappears, causing Vincent to cringe as he comes back to reality. Raven comes through the crowd and looks down at him, then kneels down to his side.
"Hey, are you alright?"
Larisa comes down to him, concerned, and places her paw on his shoulder. "Vincent..."
Raven stares at him curiously. "Who?"
Vincent gets back up to his feet and stares at the guard, who is looking back at him in confusion. "...You're the ones who did this to her..."
"I'm sorry, I don't quite under-"
Vincent quickly jumps forward and throws his hand at him, hitting him in the chest with his palm and launching him back with a burst of energy. The man, unsuspecting the attack and unable to do anything about it, yelps and skids across the ground, causing an uproar in the crowd and the other guards turn to look. Raven gets up and looks at him.
"Hey, what are you doing!?"
Vincent runs to the guard and grabs his collar, and the others rush over to try and stop him. But he holds his hand out to them, his eyes glowing as he glares at them. They all stop, and he turns back to face the one on the ground. "Didn't think you could hide your identity forever, did you?"
He jerks the man to his feet and turns to the crowd. "Everyone! I'd like to formally introduce you all... to a member of a certain organization you've all believed to be gone."
The other guards glare at him, having learned that their cover was just blown. And he grabs the person's coat, ripping it off him and revealing a vest with a badge having the distinguishable red letter R on it.
Everyone, once seeing this, immediately starts shouting indistinctly at the guards, now shown to be members of Team Rocket themselves. And the others behind him start running towards him. He then takes hold of the man's arm, and swings around, throwing him towards them and knocking them to the ground.
Raven goes over to him, looking at them and then back at him. "How did you know..?"
"Long story... Either way, we should go before they start coming after us."
Raven slowly nods, and the three rush past them, through the gate. Their passage into Saffron has been cleared, and what awaits them is unknown... They are now entering enemy territory.
"We're coming up on the gate to Saffron now. Won't be too long."
Christina nods as she shifts the gear in the car and speeds up down the street. It seems that there is no one driving along the way, giving an eerie silence to the area as they near Saffron. Though it wasn't surprising due to the gates being closed off.
"Luckily those guys left one of their phones in here to charge, or we'd be out of luck." Melissa looks at the GPS on the phone, seeing that they're now within a mile of the gate. As they look ahead, they spot a small group of vehicles lined up in a roadblock to prevent cars from passing through. They slow down to a stop about fifty yards away from them.
Christina puts the car into park and looks ahead. "...So how do you go about doing this? I don't think just breaking through is much of an option, do you?"
Melissa sits back in her seat and sighs. "Seems not."
But before they can begin to formulate a plan, the phone starts ringing, and Melissa blinks, staring at it. "Uhh..."
Christina looks at it, seeing a name in the caller ID... Darwin. They look at each other and Christina nods, before Melissa answers.
Immediately, a male's voice speaks up on the phone. "What's going on? Did you three wimp out? I should've known you weren't fit for the job."
They are silent, and Umbros pokes his head out from between the seats, in the back of the car. After a moment, the person speaks again. "Are you there?"
Melissa hangs up and looks at Christina. "Those aren't city guards..."
Christina stares at the roadblock, then rolls down her window. "Well, maybe breaking through just doesn't seem so bad. At least they think we're those three... for now, at least."
She pokes her head out and waves for Aerthos and Sierra to come down. Once they get to the side of the car, she looks at them, then back at the roadblock. "We're gonna need you in just a moment. On my signal, I need you two to direct an attack at those cars. Nothing really big, just clear us a way through, okay?"
They nod, and she looks at Melissa. The phone then rings again and they eye it. "...Time to settle this."
Melissa answers it again and the voice chimes in. "Who are those two pokemon? What's going on?"
Christina puts the car into drive and responds. "You guys better look out, cause things are about to get really ugly."
"Who is thi-" She reaches over and hangs up the phone, and Melissa looks ahead.
"You really think we can make it through?"
"I'd give it a fifty/fifty chance..."
She eyes Christina, who takes a deep breath, then drives on towards the roadblock. Upon coming near them, several of the people outside their cars are seen sending out various pokemon.
They aren't fazed by the small show of resistance, however, and upon coming near them, Christina waves her hand out the window. The two dragons then release their combined Hyber Beams at the center of the group, blasting a nice hole in the back of one of the cars and causing all the others to scatter from the attack.
Christina smiles and finds an opening in the mayhem they just created, then speeds through. Umbros looks out the back window as everyone seems to be trying to recollect themselves, and some of then move up to give chase.
Melissa looks in the side mirror, spotting them. "We've got some company, sis."
"Right, let 'em come." Christina picks up speed and races down the street while the others behind follow, a few of them easily catching up.
As one of them comes to the side, it moves over to try and ram them. And she tries to maintain control of the car. Melissa looks out the window at the driver, who smirks at them as he rams them again.
"Crap! He's gonna spin us off!"
Umbros moves over to the window. "Just a second..." He then disappears, ending up in the other car, shrouded in purple energy. "Hey, guys!"
The two in the car blink and look at him as he releases a Dark Pulse in the car and causes the driver to lose control.
The car is seen swerving off to the side of the street and then crashing into the wall. Melissa looks in the mirror in concern, just before Umbros reappears in the back seat.
Christina meeps in surprise and swerves just a bit, before bringing the car back into control. "Don't do that! You scared me!"
Umbros snickers. "Seems I scared them too. You're welcome."
Melissa sighs and lays her head back. "You're crazy..."
She eyes him in the rear-view mirror, before noticing the other cars behind them. She then pokes her head out of the window and calls out. "Aerthos, try an Ice Beam!"
The Dragonite nods and turns to face the others. He then releases a light-blue beam across the street, freezing a portion of it and causing the cars to spiral out of control. He then turns back and races after Christina's car, catching up once again with her.
Melissa and Umbros watch as most of the cars slide off and crash on either side of the street, while only a couple of them manage to make it across the ice in one peace.
Sierra takes the chance to make a move, stopping behind them and flapping her wings. She then roars out and a wind almost immediately blows over the street, sending sand everywhere to block out their view. She then flies back to meet up with Aerthos in following Christina, and Melissa shifts back in her seat.
"We've gotta get off this street..."
Christina nods and they spot an off-ramp where the street is about to bridge across a lower city road. She turns off and then pulls under the bridge, before stopping the car.
As they wait, they hear the others who were behind them race across the bridge, and she sighs in relief. "Glad we don't have to deal with them anymore."
They get out of the car and look around, then at the two dragons, who came to hide with them under the bridge.
Melissa goes over to pet them and they both nuzzle her hands, making her smile. "Thanks, you two. You did great."
Christina smiles and then looks at Umbros, who jumps onto the roof of the car. "Well... welcome to Saffron."
He laughs a bit. "Best welcome ever. Now I feel more at home."
"Right... Black City's like this, isn't it?"
He shakes his head. "Almost... It's a lot larger, and it's always cloudy there. We almost never see the sun..."
She blinks, then nods slowly. "I guess that would be fitting for an Umbreon..."
Melissa comes over to them and leans against the car. "I think we should get a move on. They'll be coming back once they realize we took this exit."
Christina looks at her and nods. "Yeah. We might as well keep going..."
They turn back to Aerthos and Sierra, and Melissa goes over to her side of the car. "Are you two ready?"
They nod, and she nods in return, before getting in. Christina and Umbros then get into the car as well and start off, the two dragons following.
- - - - -
"Raven, hold on."
Raven stops and looks back at Vincent, who appears to be staring off in the distance. As he looks towards the northwest, he can catch the sight of what seems to be a small sandstorm and the figures of two pokemon flying in the air.
Vincent looks intently at the scene, becoming curious. "Now what do you suppose that is...?"
Raven shrugs a bit. "I dunno. Could be anything."
"Yeah, but in a seemingly deserted city like this? Something's obviously up. And I'm willing to bet that has something to do with Team Rocket. Call me crazy, but I think I know exactly who those two pokemon are..."
Raven looks at him, then back at the pokemon as they fly down and disappear behind the buildings.
"...Let's go. I need to find out something." Vincent runs down the street in the direction of the incident, having his sights set on finding the certain individuals he'd been searching for since he returned home. And both Raven and Larisa follow after him.
After running through the streets of Saffron for a while, the three come to a stop when they hear an engine in the distance. They turn towards the sound, only to catch a glimpse of a Dragonite and Flygon flying over the buildings near them. And upon seeing them, they quickly go around the corner, in hopes of catching who Vincent has now confirmed to be his sisters... Though what he sees is rather unexpected.
Down the street, Christina is driving on, followed by Aerthos and Sierra, as she and Melissa are looking around the local area for anyone who might be around. However, after having driven for half an hour through the city, not a single person has been seen, making it seem as if all of Saffron has been deserted. They come to believe that everyone has locked themselves in their home to avoid any confrontation with Team Rocket. But they haven't even come by any of their members either.
Upon nearing an intersection, they finally get the sight of two people coming around the corner, along with... a Latias?
Christina blinks and looks closer at them, finally realizing who they are and coming to a screeching halt in the street by the three.
Melissa looks at them in surprise as Christina rolls down her window and calls out to them. "Hey, Vincent!"
Vincent looks back at her, rather dumbfounded, and then notices Melissa in the passenger's seat with her, waving at them. He runs over to the car, along with Raven, who speaks up to her. "Hey, Alice. How's it going?"
Vincent blinks and looks at him with a look of confusion. "Alice..? What are you..."
"Raven, I didn't expect to see you here. How've you been?"
"Just fine. Hey, wanna give us a ride?"
She nods. "Sure, get in."
Raven goes around to the passenger's side and then gets into the back, while Vincent looks between them, uncertain of what just happened. Christina looks back at him with a smile. "I'll explain along the way, Vincent... Larisa, it's good to see you!"
Larisa coos and smiles at her, then looks at Vincent, who nods back to her. She then goes up to meet Aerthos and Siera, who look quite happy to see her again. And Vincent goes in the back seat behind Christina.
When entering, Umbros looks at them both and, to their surprise, starts speaking. "Hey guys, join the ride!"
They both look at him, and Raven appearing even more surprised than Vincent. "The heck? You talk?"
"Got a problem with that, goth boy?"
He stares down at the Umbreon, before pulling a seatbelt over himself. "No, no problem."
"You look like one of those biker guys I know from a club back home. Look, ya better not give me any issues, alright?" Umbros smirks in a joking way, and Raven just idly nods.
Christina starts driving on, looking in the mirror back at the three. "Oh yeah, guys. That's Umbros. We found him in Cerulean. Umbros, that's my brother, Vincent and my friend, Raven."
Raven mumbles a bit. "Yeah, kinda met him."
Vincent shifts in his seat, looking down at Umbros, who turns towards him and blinks, then gives an intent stare back at him. He then blinks and shakes his head. "Sorry... You just remind me of something. I'm not sure what..."
"Uhh huh. You're just shocked I can speak. Don't hide it, it's okay."
Vincent folds his arms and sits back in his seat. "Actually I've known a few pokemon who can speak."
Umbros eyes him for a moment, then twitches his ears and looks between the front seats out the windshield. It is clear that even he is acting differently in the presence of Vincent, though it is unclear why.
Vincent looks at Raven, then towards Christina. "So how do you two know each other. And who's... Alice?"
Raven scoffs somewhat. "Alice is what we called her in music class. Raven's not my real name either, but I don't really tell anyone that."
"Wait, so you both went to that class?"
Christina smiles, taking a turn around a corner and speading up. "Raven was a basist. We performed together with me playing an electric guitar. Even Melissa was there, doing acoustic. Though unfortunately she wasn't able to go there as long as we were, since..."
The three siblings suddenly become rather silent, and Raven looks between them. "...Right. You don't have to bring it up."
Christina nods slowly. "Yeah..."
Melissa looks back at them, then more towards Vincent. "So what's gone on? It's been almost three months since we've seen each other."
Vincent sighs. "A lot happened... To put it into words, I..."
- - - - -
Melissa and Christina both appear shocked at his story, and even Raven seems rather surprised at what he heard.
Melissa looks outside her window. "...So you're saying James is now..."
Vincent nods slowly.
"I'm so sorry, Vincent... I know what he meant to you."
Vincent shakes his head. "I have to get through to him... But I just don't know what to do."
Christina looks at him through the mirror, then back to the road. "We'll think of some way. Don't worry too much about it."
He nods slowly, and Raven shifts in his seat.
"When you told me what you were, I thought it was cool and stuff. But I didn't know that kind of stuff happened. Why didn't you say anything about it before?"
"I didn't want to bring it up. Besides, why didn't you tell me you knew my sisters, so I didn't think you were just some crazy stalker out of nowhere?"
He eyes him for a moment, then shrugs. "Just cause."
"Just cause you wanted to creep me out. That's okay, no problem."
Melissa then decides to butt in. "So you two are yapping at each other. Meanwhile, we're pulling up on Silph Headquarters. I'm pretty sure Team Rocket's gonna be there. There's no other explaination for them holding up the city like this."
Vincent looks over at her. "Silph..? They already tried to attack them before and failed. What would they want now?"
"Who knows? But if they're there, then we'll definitely have to be ready for them."
He and Raven look ahead at the tall building they're approaching, seeing countless cars gathered around the lot, along with people seeming to be crowded in it.
Vincent stares at the scene, becoming somewhat concerned about the situation they're getting into. "Well... Now we know where everyone is."
Christina nods. "We'll have to be careful. I expect we'll be dealing with more trouble than just Team Rocket..."
As they drive on to the site, a growing tension arises among them, as they prepare for what stands right ahead of them...
- - - - -
In a darkened plain surrounded on all sides by stone cliffs, James comes to a stop in his movements, and looks up at the sky. He stares up at the moon with intent, the light reflecting off his pale, green eyes.
"The time is growing near, to take action... Prepare yourself, Vincent. For you're about to enter your biggest challenge yet..."
He smirks and walks on, soon fading away and leaving the valley in silence...
Christina pulls up to the parking lot of Silph Headquarters and looks around the area outside the car. It would appear that most of the parking spaces have been taken and there is a line of cars parked along the side of the street stretching about a block away.
After driving around for several minutes, she finds a spot halfway across the lot from the building, and parks, before everyone gets out.
"Well... I suppose it's better than nothing." Christina locks the car and then looks towards the tall building that is the Silph Headquarters. "It looks a lot taller up close than when we'd see it down the street, isn't it?"
Umbros jumps up onto the roof of the car to look at the building. "Yeah..." He then looks around the lot at all the other cars. "We... don't have to walk all that way, do we?"
Melissa rolls her eyes. "Would you rather walk down the street?"
"N-No! It's... too cold to do that."
Christina eyes him with a small smirk, then puts her black coat on. "Poor thing..."
Umbros looks back at her with a feigned whimper. "Let me have a coat..."
She furrows her brows at his act. "You have one! It's made of fur."
The Umbreon then blinks. "Oh! Right, I forgot."
Vincent makes a small chuckle and shakes his head at their bickering. "Are you two gonna keep arguing? Because I'm ready to go."
Christina blinks and looks towards him. "...Oh fine. Let's go then."
As they start off towards the building, they begin to hear the indistinct chattering of the crowd of people cluttering the back of the parking lot.
They start approaching the crowd, becoming awestruck at how many people are here. It isn't the entire city population, but the amount of people gathered in the single area is astounding.
Vincent stops to look around at everyone, and mutters at the sight. "How're we gonna get through this then? All these people here, and not one of them can do anything about Team Rocket."
Melissa steps ahead of him, staring at the crowd. "What are the police even doing? This has already been going on a few days."
Umbros then butts in with a sarcastic tone, "Probably at home, snacking in front of their TV or something."
She eyes down at him. "Do you really hate them that much...?"
"I have my own reasons to. Besides, I didn't see them at the city gate where they're supposed to be."
Vincent shakes his head, staring through the crowd. "No... It's more than that." He turns back to them. "Team Rocket was disbanded several years ago. For two years since, people thought they had peace. At least here, in Kanto. But they tried to make a comeback in Johto, and failed once again."
He then looks back at the crowd. "Now... There are remnants who seem intent on rebuilding again. And it's caused an uproar amongst everyone here. Members of Team Rocket have blocked off all routes in and out of the city. And the police here has their hands tied with trying to keep the citizens from getting involved. If anything, these people are making things worse because the authorities have been divided to handle them and Team Rocket."
They all look at him, and he shakes his head. "Something has to be done about them. Because this isn't enough."
Christina sighs in slight annoyance. "But what's there to do?"
"We have to try something. Let's see what's happening in the front."
Vincent walks ahead and begins to push his way through the crowd, followed by the others. They work their way through rows upon rows of irritated and confused civilians, before finally getting by them minutes later. There is seen to be caution tape surrounding the building several yards out, and behind it is a group of police officers working to keep everyone at bay.
As they approach the tape, one of the officers looks at them and motions for them to stop. "That's far enough, you guys. We can't have anyone coming in here now."
Vincent eyes him, then the building and back at the officer. "What's going on? Why hasn't this issue been dealt with by now?"
"There are officers deployed inside the building, but as of now, we don't have enough people or resources to bring them down. And ever since some kid exposed them to the public at the south gate, we've had people flocking from all over, getting involved. Officers from the surrounding cities are coming to assist us, but who knows how long it'll take for them to get here. For now, all we can do is wait and try to hold these people off."
He shakes his head and smacks his hand on one of the poles holding the tape. "What if that's not enough? I get the feeling this is going to be something more. It may be too late by the time they arrive!"
The officer stares at him, actually unfazed by his sudden shouting. "Sir, we're doing what we can, but you're just gonna have to stay-"
Before he can finish, they notice the flickering lights in and around the building, as a flash is seen from one of the upper floors, leading to a power outage on the top two stories. And Vincent narrows his eyes intently at him. "...Really? This is pathetic."
He ducks under the tape and darts towards the building, making the officer shout and run to stop him. But no sooner do Aerthos and Sierra fly down and roar out, causing the entire crowd to fall silent, surprised and some starting to become afraid of the two dragons that now stand in front of the building.
Vincent turns back towards the officer as all the others guarding the building direct their attention towards him. Even their pokemon have become unnerved by the Dragonite and Flygon, as they can do nothing but shout in protest at the teenaged boy who is about to break into Silph Headquarters.
The one initially chasing him stares at the two, and then back at him. "You don't know what you're getting involved with! Do not enter the building!"
He stares at the officer and backs up towards the entrance. "Sorry, officer, but... watch me."
He then turns off and runs through the entrance, and the others run after him, causing all the officers to start off after them. But they are immediately stopped by the growls from Aerthos and Sierra, and they just stand there, baffled at the idea of having let a bunch of teenagers get past them.
Christina turns to the two and calls to them. "Keep the others out of here as long as you can! We'll be back as soon as possible. When backup comes, let them in. We'll need their help in this."
They both nod to her and stand in front of the entrance as she runs inside, keeping a close watch on the people who are now looking nervously at them... many of which have run off in fear.
In the lobby, Vincent and the others scan the area but seem to find no one around. He runs to the elevator and presses the button on it, but gets no response.
"Crap... Whatever happened up there must've shut it down."
Melissa looks around, then points to the stairs nearby. "We'll have to go by foot. If we hurry, we might be able to get up there before things get worse."
Vincent sighs and nods. "Let's hope..." He runs to the stairs and ascends to the next floor, followed by the others. As they get up to it, they look around to see the same appearance that was in the lobby.
"They must have them holed up in the upper floors... We shouldn't delay."
As they go up two more floors, they notice the lights flicker once more, before going out. They look around as it is nearly entrely dark now, the only light coming through the windows down the hall. Christina looks to the ceiling. "What is going on up there?"
Vincent looks at the stairway to the next floor. "Could be any number of things... But something's obviously going wrong. Team Rocket has to be taking action up there. Illuminare..." His hands then release a glow that lights up the area around them. It's a faint light... but just enough to see. And they continue on to the upper levels.
When they reach the seventh floor, Vincent comes out of the stairwell, only to run into a man in a black Rocket uniform wandering the area. And immediately on site, the person reaches to take his arm, shouting, "Hey, haven't you read the memo!? Get out of here before-"
Wasting no time, Vincent smacks his hand on the man's chest, sending a pulse through his body that makes him gasp and stagger weakly. He then pulls his other arm free and uses both hands to thrust at the man, flinging him into the wall with an energy burst and knocking him unconscious.
Raven stares at Vincent somewhat wide-eyed. "Dude... You're scary when you do that..."
Vincent stands up and eyes the downed Rocket grunt. "I don't have any patience for these people... Especially after what they did to Larisa and Lasuno."
Larisa looks at him, her ears flattening back. "Vincent..."
He looks back at her, then sighs and walks on to the stairs going to the next floor. "Come on..."
They continue up the next flight of stairs and look around, noticing a pair of grunts standing guard down the hall. Umbros eyes them, then looks up at Vincent. "Lemme at 'em. I can take 'em."
Vincent blinks and looks down at him. "This isn't a game..."
"So? I can still take 'em on."
He rolls his eyes and then looks back at the two. "...Be careful."
Umbros smiles and phases over behind the two grunts, then shouts out, "Incoming!"
They both turn around, as well as the several people behind the windows in the nearby room. And Umbros releases a Dark Pulse at them, blasting them away and knocking them out.
Vincent then runs out and looks at the two, then at Umbros. "Could you possibly be less destructive..? We're inside a building."
The Umbreon blinks and looks around, seeing the various boards and papers he blew off the walls with his attack, as well as marks streaked across the walls. "Uhh... Oops?"
Vincent shakes his head as the others come over and look around the hallway. Christina then eyes Umbros intently. "You're a trigger-happy maniac, you know that?"
He lowers his ears and whines defiantly. "I can't help it!"
The door to the nearby room opens up, and a few men come out, dressed in white uniforms bearing the Silph logo on them. They look at the party with confusion, and one of them, a man appearing in his mid forties, speaks up. "Who're you?"
Vincent looks at them, before the lights flicker back on. He looks around, realizing the power has come back on, and then turns back to face the employees. "We're here to help get those Rockets out. You should get back in the room, it's not safe to be out here yet."
"Umm... Thanks? But exactly what do a bunch of kids intend to do about this? There're several dozen of them upstairs. I really don't think you could take them all on."
Vincent is about to respond, when they hear loud commotion from the upper floors, and a few more employees run down the hall from the stairway.
As they watch the oncoming people, the man they were talking to calls to woman about his age, who appears to be in shock. She runs to him and then clings to him in a shaken whimper. He wraps his arms around her and asks, "What happened? Did they hurt you?"
She shakes her head. "N-No... Someone fell out of a window... A girl fell out of a window!"
They all gape their mouths at what they just heard, and after a moment, Vincent turns towards where the others ran from.
"...This has gone too far... I knew it would be too late..."
He runs off towards the stairs as Christina calls out to him, but he ignores her and moves to ascend to the next floor... only to come across a rather shocking sight.
There are Rocket grunts lying all over the place, battered and unconscious. He kneels down to check a few of them, feeling a faint pulse at best, though others haven't been so lucky.
Christina and the others come up the stairs and stop, and she gasps, gazing around the area in disbelief.
"What... happened here?"
Vincent shakes his head and stands up. "I don't know... But it looks like someone flipped out and did our work for us. Must be why everyone ran out as fast as they did..."
He examines the area, before coming to a room with the door left wide open. As he enters, he sees scraps of documents and a ness of chairs, desks and machines, as if there had been a struggle here. By the open window lies two grunts, one having been stabbed in the throat and the other, in the side and barely conscious.
Vincent runs over to the two, seeing that the one with the fatal wound had bled out and been gone for a time. It's a brutal sight to come across. He leans down by the other, who gazes up at him with a pitiful look of suffering, as he coughs up blood. And although he has hated the organization for a while ever since learning what happened to Larisa, he can't help but feel bad for what's left of a man who'd been violently attacked.
He goes into his bag to pull out a towel, then puts it over the stab wound. The man grunts painfully and he hushes him quietly.
The man coughs again and Vincent pulls back a bit, before he manages to utter in a gagged voice, "We didn't mean it... She got... too close and..." He gasps for air, before choking once more and Vincent looks away in slight disgust.
After a short moment, the grunt manages to speak again, this time in a less audible voice. "We couldn't stop her... He... just went crazy after... After..."
Vincent looks back at him as he begins to drift off. "Who? What was his name?"
But before he could get an answer, the man's eyes roll up and his head falls against the floor, lifeless. He stares at him for a moment, before standing back up and backing away slowly.
Christina looks at him, clearly worried now. "...Vincent?"
He shakes his head and looks at the two dead grunts, then at the window. "What's this world come to now? This didn't have to happen..."
"Vincent, there was no way we could've stopped this..."
Vincent clenches his fists and turns to walk out of the room, before leaning against the wall outside and taking a deep breath.
The others come out and look at him as he stares at the ground. Larisa moves over to give him a hug and he sighs in frustration.
Outside, the sounds of several sirens can be heard echoing through the parking lot and down the street. And Melissa looks around, before turning back to Vincent. "I think backup's come... We should leave this to them. I don't think they'd want us interfering any more than we might have already."
He looks at her for a moment, before nodding slowly. "Right... Let's go then."
As they're about to leave, a small gust can be seen down the hall, and Vincent stops to turn towards it. After a few seconds, what is seen causes Vincent to tense up and every nerve in his body feels as though he'd just seen his worst nightmare... although it may not be far from the truth.
James stands there, staring at Vincent with a smirk, appearing intrigued by his rather low demeanor.
"I thought I'd see you eventually, James... What do you want?"
He makes a quiet chuckle and waves his arms out at his sides. "I came to merely check on an old friend. Nothing more."
The others look at James, Christina and Melissa seeming in surprise at the change in an individual they once thought was a good friend of Vincent's. Meanwhile, Larisa stares at him with an unnerving feeling, knowing exactly who he is and what happened to him. And Raven and Umbros, the ones who've never been around to know about him, watch on with a growing tension, remembering what they'd once heard about him.
Vincent takes a step forward, not taking his eyes off James, and almost seeming as if he were still unwilling to accept that his once best friend had, just one month ago, turned into one of his greatest threats. "Right... Checking up. Because this is just a casual meeting and nothing of it?"
"It could be. That's up to you. Of course I would think in your state of mind, it's not entirely possible, would it?"
Vincent glares at him with growing anger, and he grins in amusement at his response.
"How's it feel, Vincent? To see that you have, once again, failed to stop a tragic event, and are forced to bear witness to the atrocities that come of it? I would expect that, by now, you'd be used to it, am I right?"
"Shut up, James!" Vincent thrusts his hand out and releases a silver streak of energy, which is blocked when James throws his arm in front of him, and chuckles again.
"Still holding back, are you? You must really cherish your friend... It's a pity, really. I'd have thought you'd grown past this pathetic state by now..."
He growls, and fires off several more streaks, all of which are blocked or avoided, and the others jump in surprise at his display. Not only to his show of powers, but also to his outburst of anger, which is not like him to do.
Soon, James gives a nearly deranged laugh, before immediately throwing both of his hands out and creating a blast of dark energy at Vincent, who manages to respond by casting a sword in his hand and holding it in front of himself with his other palm on the blade just in time to block the attack, while being pushed back from the force.
He then swings the sword out and sends a sheet of energy at James, who jumps to the side to easily dodge it. It then strikes the wall down the hall and makes a large slit in it as though it'd been struck by the very sword that released the energy.
"Is that it? Shame... I expected something a little more."
James then phases in front of Vincent and swings his arms out to knock the sword from Vincent's hand. He then throws his palm to his chest to launch him backwards with a powerful burst that sends him through the nearby window and plummeting several stories to the ground.
The others yell out to him and run to the window as James snickers quietly, looking down at the sword which fades away in a silver light. He then cloaks in a dark energy and disappears soon after.
In the parking lot below, people scream at the sight of the person falling to his immenent death. It seems like a certain tragedy... until, from seemingly out of nowhere, a blue blur is seen racing across the sky and past the building, catching him just a few stories from the ground and then dropping out of flight across the parking lot. The figure is barely seen stablizing itself just enough to avoid a brutal crash into the ground, but still drops Vincent a few feet, making him land with a thud and a grunt.
After a short while, Vincent rolls over on the ground and looks up at his savior... the familiar sight of a Latios hovering over him, though appearing to be weak after having caught him. He almost can't believe who it was that saved him.
The Latios slowly nods, before staggering in his flight. And Vincent jumps up to grab him before he falls. "Hey... Are you okay?"
Lasuno makes a small shrill in response. "I'm... fine. You were a heavier than I thought."
Vincent sighs quietly and hugs him. "Thank you..."
After a moment, he then comes to realization. "Hey... Where's Hector? Is he-"
He blinks and turns around, seeing the older male running towards them. He comes to a stop a few feet away and pants lightly.
"Hector? But how did..."
"A certain friend helped me find you. Though when I realized that Team Rocket was here, I came as fast as possible. I hope I'm not too late."
Vincent looks to the ground for a bit, then back at Hector with a sigh. "Many of the Rockets here are dead, Hector..."
Hector blinks. "Wait, what?" He looks at Vincent, dumbfounded. "I know they were supposed to be arrested, but... What happened? Does it have something to do with that... girl?"
He shakes his head. "I don't really know... After she fell, apparently someone lost it and attacked everyone around. The one I spoke to... He was clearly remorseful of what happened. But he didn't make it... The police should be in the building now. If any of them did make it out, they won't get far. But I'm concerned about what happened..."
Hector folds his arms and looks down in thought. "It scared a lot of people when they saw her falling. But no one could get there in time to stop her. It was... gut-wrenching to see something like that..."
Soon, Aerthos, Sierra and Larisa are seen flying down to them, with the sisters, Raven and Umbros on their backs. Christina and Melissa jump down and run over to Vincent, calling out to him. And he looks at them with a blink as he almost immediately has Melissa impacting him with her arms around him tightly.
"Don't scare me like that! I thought you..."
She doesn't go any further, unable to muster the will to say what could've happened. But Vincent makes a faint smile and hugs her. "I'm okay, Melissa... Really."
Christina comes over and then smacks his arm. "She's not kidding, Vincent! You almost gave us heart attacks."
He blinks and looks at her, then sighs. "I'm sorry... It was foolish of me to try and do something like that. I'm..."
He lets go of Melissa, who backs up and looks at him as he stares down at the ground.
He doesn't say anything for a bit, but then clenches his fists. "I still can't bring myself to believe that he's become this way... I know, it's been well over a month, but..." He looks up at them. "What would you do if one of your best friends, whom you've known for many years suddenly becomes corrupted and turns into a cruel, murderous person?"
They fall silent for several minutes, unsure of how to respond to such a thing or how they can comfort Vincent. But their attention is abruptly averted to Larisa's cry as she is seen tackling Lasuno in a tight hug.
"Lasuno! I can't believe you're here! You've no idea how much I've missed you!"
The Latios, overwhelmed by her shrills of shock and excitement, grunts weakly. All he can do is wrap his arms around her and embrace her in a warm hug. "Hey... Shh, shh... I'm here now, dear. I won't leave you again..."
The Latias whines and nuzzles into his shoulder, and the others can't help but feel happy for the two, almost admiring how close they are."
Though they are soon brought to realization of their surroundings, once they notice the crowd of people running towards them. And Hector blinks and stares at them.
"Uhh... We probably shouldn't stay here..."
Vincent nods a bit and backs up. "Ehh, yeah... Let's get out of here before we become roadkill from all those people."
They all run off towards the car, and Christina quickly unlocks it, then gets in and starts it up. The others get in, except for Hector, who was the last to reach it.
"There's not enough room in there... I'll have to fly."
Christina nods. "Okay... Just follow us as closely as you can. Can you all do that?"
The two dragons, Larisa and Lasuno all nod. And Hector goes over to Aerthos to get on his back. Raven calls out, "Let's go already! They're not waiting up!"
Christina immediately shifts the car in reverse and backs out, then turns and speeds off through the parking lot, while the pokemon follow take to the air. They manage to make it out of the lot with the herd of animals in their dust.
Vincent looks back through the rear window to see that they've made it in the clear.
"We should get out of the city as soon as possible... Let's try and head to Vermilion."
Christina nods and drives off to the south, making her way towards the gate. They leave behind the incident with Team Rocket to get to safety. Though whatever lies ahead, no one can be certain...
- - - - -
"You've certainly resisted a lot more than I expected... It's no surprise, seeing as how you're the deity of time. But I do wonder... Just how long can you hold out, before the darkness overwhelms your will?"
Dialga growls lowly, glaring at the cloaked individual with glowing red eyes. And he just chuckles quietly.
"I suppose we'll just have to see how this plays out. But I certainly hope you don't take too long to come to my side. I may need you shortly..."
"Do you see anyone?"
Raven looks through the rear view mirror of the car and sees no one down the street as far as he can tell. He shakes his head and sits back in his seat. "Nope."
Christina nods a bit and continues driving, before Vincent points out a small restaurant just a short distance away. A sign in the lot titles it as, "Scarlet Shore Diner," a local seafood restaurant.
"We should be fine there, as long as we don't do anything to draw attention. Though the pokemon... They might have to try and stay out of sight. If they keep to the sky, people may not notice them very easily."
Christina nods again. "Right..." She soon pulls into the lot and parks in a spot right in front of the building. As they get out, the four dragons come down to them and they look at them. Hector jumps down from Aerthos.
"We staying here for now then?"
Vincent looks at him and nods. "Yeah... I think it's best that we try and plan a course of action. But we shouldn't stay very long."
Hector folds his arms and looks back at the dragons, and Lasuno nods in agreement. "We'll watch things until you come out."
As they go into the restaurant, they come to a table and sit down. Hector pulls out his phone to check it, then sighs and puts it down on the table, and Christina gives him a curious look.
"...Jack hasn't responded to my text in a while."
Vincent eyes him without a word, and Christina sits back in her seat with a small sigh. "Maybe he's busy?"
"He's always busy... Doesn't mean he wouldn't take the time to at least say that he is. I haven't gotten a word from him. I'm getting kind of worried. This whole bit with James really did a number on everyone, it seems."
Vincent finally butts in, sounding somewhat annoyed. "Look, can we not talk about James?"
They look at him in surprise, then Hector shifts a bit. "Sorry..."
There is a moment of awkward silence, before Melissa decides to speak up. "Hey... So what will we do now?"
Christina looks at her with a blink, then remembers what they were doing from the start. "Oh, right. Well we've got to find out a place to go from here."
She is then cut short when a waitress comes to the table with menus in her hands. The woman starts with a welcoming, before offering the menus to them. She then asks what drinks they want.
Hector responds first, "Just water, thanks."
Christina nods in agreement. "Same..."
Melissa, though, asks differently. "Berry juice, please."
Vincent then responds, "Iced tea, please..."
Raven then says, "I'll have a soda pop."
The waitress then walks off, and Christina looks around at the others.
"...So, where were we, then?"
Vincent rubs his face with his hand. "I think we're going to have to leave Kanto."
They all look at him, and he puts his arms on the table.
"I've been thinking it for a while. I didn't really want it to come to this point... having grown up here and all. Everything that's happened here. Everything that could've happened here. But if we're ever going to have any chance at doing the task, we're going to have to go to other places."
Everyone is silent for a time, until Christina finally makes a small nod. "That's true... We'll have to leave home, won't we?"
Vincent slowly nods and releases a small breath. He is clearly uneasy about the whole thing, but he knows there is no other choice.
After a brief moment, Melissa speaks up. "But where do we start? There's the whole world out there, and we're just on a speck of it."
Vincent sits back in his chair and looks in thought. "...I went to both Johto and Orre. They didn't seem to have anything that stood out to me." He sighs. "Unless... I'm missing something here."
Christina then has a thought. "Hold on... You said you met Dialga... right? But can't you go back there?"
Vincent shakes his head. "Yeah, except there are two problems, Christina. Firstly, Dialga's not exactly in the best state to sit down and have a little chat. And second, I have no idea where it is. I was unconscious when I got there. And..." He shifts awkwardly. "...I was unconscious when I left."
Christina blinks at that, and then sits back and mumbles. "Sorry... Just trying to help..."
Vincent sighs and looks at her. "Don't be... I'm just growing kind of irritated about this whole thing. You've no idea how much I'm stressing, trying to figure this out before it's too late."
Hector rolls his eyes. "Yeah, you're the one stressing."
Vincent squints at his sarcasm and stares at his older brother, who folds his arms nonchalantly.
"You don't think this is affecting us all? Come on, this is the world we're talking about. If we screw up, everyone's gonna be stressing. And that's not even the beginning of it. Vincent, we all have to work together in this. So don't act like you're the only one having it hard here."
Vincent shifts his gaze to the table, having no response.
Eventually, the waitress can be seen approaching them again. This time, carrying a tray with five tall glasses on it. She then sets them down on the table next to each one who ordered, and asks if they are ready to order.
Vincent shakes his head. "No, I'm not sure I'll be eating."
She looks at the others, who seem to agree and then nods, before walking away. Vincent then picks up his glass of iced tea and takes a drink.
Hector soon pipes up once again. "So we've got a little issue here. Yeah, we need to leave Kanto. But here's the question... How are we going to leave? We have no transportation other than a car... And I find it hard to believe the dragons will be able to carry all five of us around."
Vincent looks at him curiously, then grunts a bit at the added complication they have to deal with.
"...I made it to Orre because Jack gave me a pass for the ship. I could actually use that to board any ship I wanted. But... that's just me."
Hector shrugs a bit. "I don't suppose he'd be willing to pay for our tickets too. He's not even answering me, so we're kind of out on a limb."
"I... could do one thing, but it's a little dangerous. I haven't actually tested it very much."
They all look at Vincent, who fidgets with his straw. "One of my abilities as a Messanger... was called Light Warp. It casts a strand of light in a single direction, and wherever it lands, that's where I end up. Anyone who has physical contact with me would be taken with me when I do it."
Melissa eyes him with confusion. "What, would you try to use that to take us somewhere else in the world or something?"
Vincent stutters at that. "Ahh- no... It couldn't possibly go that far. But I could use it to bypass a ship's security and sneak us on board. Although... the car would have to stay. It's much too large not to be noticed."
Christina immediately butts in. "That's illegal..."
On this, Vincent shoots a glare at her and says in a mocking tone, "Oh, but you wouldn't know anything about that, would you, sis? Breaking someone out of a crime scene and fleeing the city with them... Your past dealings with authorities in your earlier years. And stealing that car to begin with? Would you really miss it?"
Christina looks dumbfounded, then furrows her brows at him. "Those were with good reason! And how many times do I have to say, Aerthos scared the guy. It wasn't my fault he was a lunatic who decided to call the cops because he was paranoid!"
Raven looks over at her. "You told me that was because you didn't pay for the tub in full and had already eaten part of it..."
Everyone then stares at Christina, and Vincent smirks. "Busted."
Christina immediately becomes flustered at what Raven says, then reaches out and slaps him across the face... making a very audible SMACK that draws the attention of surrounding customers in the restaurant- as if his yelp in pain from it wasn't enough to do so.
"...When I need your input, I'll freaking ask for it, you tard..." She utters quietly in exasperation.
Hector and Melissa both look surprised at her reaction, but Vincent seems to have expected it and merely makes a small chuckle.
After a while, the group finally settles down and Hector decides to speak again. "...Back to the subject. Vincent's ability seems to be the only possible way to get somewhere. So I'm all in."
Melissa looks at Hector, then soon nods slowly. "Yeah... It'd probably be best..."
Christina looks between them, then back at Vincent, who takes another drink of his iced tea, looking at them all with a feeling of uncertainty. He knows that he has one chance to do it right, and if he fails, it could be disastrous for all of them. She soon sighs and makes a small nod. "I guess it's our only choice..."
Raven looks at them, idly rubbing his cheek from the lingering sting of his recent run-in with Christina's palm. But he then nods in agreement. "I'm in..."
They look at Vincent, who shifts in his seat, then nods back to them. "Alright... But know, that once we do this... there's no turning back. And after we get on that ship, all there will be is the road ahead. I don't know when, or if we'll be able to come back home. So remember that."
They nod in reassurance, then decide to move to the next topic. Hector takes a drink of his water, then speaks up again.
"So now we know how we're getting out of here. Next is to find out where we're heading to."
Vincent looks at him, then shrugs a bit. "That... I have no idea. We could go anywhere. There aren't even any leads as to where we should try either."
Hector picks up his phone and starts scrolling through menus. "Well, the ports have a couple more ships going out today... The S. S. Tidal leaves for Slateport in almost two hours. And then the S. S. Legion will be leaving to Tilt Village later this evening."
Vincent listens and thinks for a bit, then says, "I guess Hoenn would be a start. It may not be the most promising area, but I don't think there would be anything more in Oblivia either."
Hector nods. "Then I guess we take the S. S. Tidal. But we should go soon, or we might miss it."
Vincent nods to him, then soon finishes his drink, before standing up. "Are you all ready?"
They look at him, then proceed to get out of their chairs as well. Christina pulls out two dollars and places them on the table for the waitress, before the group leaves the restaurant.
As they come to the car, Larisa and Lasuno are seen flying down to them. The pair comes to their level, and they look over at them. Christina leans on the car and says, "We're planning on going to the port. We've decided that we'll have to leave the region and go to further places if we'll ever have a chance with Vincent's task."
Larisa blinks at this and looks at Christina, then over at Lasuno, who has a serious look. The Latios then slowly nods in agreement. "I figured this would come sooner or later..."
Vincent slowly nods. "We're going to have to sneak onto a ship to do so, however... For the time being, you and the others will have to keep in the air. At least until nightfall. I suggest we all try to stay hidden. If any of the ship's security comes across us, they may card us..."
Lasuno stares at Vincent. "I hope you know what you're doing here... You realize what would happen, should you be caught."
"It's a risk we have to take. If we have to keep this world at peace, we can't play by the rules of... the people here."
Larisa then gets a smirk from his statement, and he eyes her intently.
"You're starting to sound like Christina..."
Christina blinks and stares at the Latias, who breaks into a giggling fit. She folds her arms. "Oh, shush! We all get the idea already!"
Larisa pokes her tongue out at Christina playfully, who shoots a sharp glare at her in response, and Vincent looks between them with a small chuckle.
"Okay... We should probably get to the port soon before it's too late. We have less than two hours before the S. S. Tidal leaves. So we need to get going."
Larisa looks at him, and then nods slowly. "Okay..."
Christina opens her door to the car and gets in, looking out at them. "Alright then... Let's get going."
The others then nod and get into the car, and Hector waves to Aerhos and Sierra in the sky, calling the two down before patting them. He then looks at the Dragonite. "Are you ready to go?"
Aerthos snorts and nods to him, lowering down and Hector climbs onto his back. "We'll be going to the port. I'll tell you two about the plan on the way."
Sierra looks at Hector, then at Aerthos with a soft chirr, and Aerthos responded in a small rumble. Hector then looks down at Christina, who has her head out the window to them. "Ready when you are."
She nods and starts up the car. "We'll see you there."
The four dragons move out of the way as she backs up, then they take off into the air as Christina drives off towards the south, where the Vermilion Port is.
About half an hour later, they come to the seaside and look out at the ocean, seeing various water and flying pokemon around the area. They begin to hear the sounds of low horns or ships in the distance, signaling that they are nearing the port. As Christina looks at the time on the radio clock, she learns that they have just over an hour before the ship is scheduled to leave, and continues down the road.
A few miles down the road, they finally reach a large parking lot in front of the massive port of Vermilion. Here, they get the view of numerous ships, large and small, and even boats docked at the bridges and along the port.
Christina comes into one of the parking spots and stays there for a while. She seems almost reluctant to turn the car off and the others look at her. Hector eyes the car as he brings Aerthos down next to it, along with the other three dragons. He then jumps down and goes over to the driver's window, looking in at her curiously.
"You okay, sis?"
She nods and rests her hands on the steering wheel, sitting back in her seat. "Yeah, it's just... This is really it. This is where we leave. And we may not come back for a long time... if ever. I don't know if..."
Melissa then reaches over to put her arm on her sister's shoulder, and she sighs.
"Oh, Christina... I know it's hard. It's hard for all of us, I'm sure... I mean, yeah. We've been around the region. We've even been to Johto a few times. But this time, we're actually leaving altogether... Look at everything we're leaving behind, too... This is where we were all born and raised. And now, within a day, we're going away."
Hector squats down by the window so he's more to their level. "Yeah... But just think. We're never really that far, are we? We're still connected to the things that keep us all together." He takes his stone necklace with the back of his hand and holds it out. The polished, teardrop-shaped stone gleams yellow in the evening sun.
She looks at the stone and then slowly nods, clutching the steering wheel in her hands. Vincent puts his hand on her seat and leans over from behind it. "Hey... It's gonna be okay, Christina. We'll make it back here someday. This isn't gonna be the end of it. I promise."
She takes a deep breath, then looks out at the port through the windshield for a moment.
"...Right. I guess we should go then..."
She turns off the car and then opens the door, Hector moving out of the way as she does. The others get out at the same time and stand by the car. Christina runs her hand along the roof and slightly smiles. "You know... I'm gonna miss this thing. The rides were kind of fun."
Vincent chuckles lightly at that and shakes his head. "Well, for what it's worth, we could always come back and get it if they don't tow it away."
Melissa rolls her eyes. "You know they will after it's been here a few days."
Vincent folds his arms. "Well... True. But we can always steal another one, right?" He teases.
Christina turns around and pushes him, shooting a glare in his direction. "Hush!"
The others get a laugh at that and she grumbles. Vincent then gets his footing again and looks around the lot. "Well, we should go soon. We'll have to find the ship first."
He then looks at Hector. "I also think one of us should actually board. The less of us who actually sneak on, the better, I think. It'll at least give us one cabin to hide in."
Hector slowly nods. "Right..."
Vincent reaches into his bag and pulls out the international ferry pass he'd received from Jack before, and hands it to Hector. "We'll meet you in your cabin later. Do you think you can handle getting on from here?"
Hector nods. "Of course I can. You just be careful until we meet up again."
Vincent nods back to him, and he pulls out his phone, then starts scrolling through the menus. "It says the ship should be... right over there." He points at the large, white ship a short ways off. Two red stripes can be seen across the bottom, the top one lighter than the bottom, and they form a curved pattern in the rear of the ship.
The others look towards it, recognizing it from previous television presentations they'd seen before. And Vincent nods to Hector. "Alright. We'll see you on-board."
He then looks towards the dragons. "Will you all be okay?"
Larisa nods in response. "Just don't get in trouble..."
Vincent goes over to her and strokes her neck softly. "We'll be okay... We'll see you tonight, alright?"
She coos softly and nods slowly, and then he looks over at Lasuno, who smiles to him. The four dragons then take off into the sky, and Vincent looks at Hector. He puts the pass in his pocket and steps back. "See you guys soon."
He then walks off towards the dock, and Vincent looks to the others. "Ready?"
They all nod to him and then head off towards the ship. But instead of going to the dock, they go to a small shack located a short ways from the ship.
They all go around behind the shack, and Vincent speaks in a low tone. "It's a bit far... But at least I can see the ship from here. I just need to find a place that isn't going to draw attention to us once we get on."
Melissa looks at him. "The roof?"
He shakes his head. "I can't see the roof from here..."
Christina points out a spot near one of the rear vents of the ship. "I don't see anyone there. They're probably all inside. We'll have to go inside and try to blend in if we do that though."
Vincent looks at the area and then nods. "Yeah. Alright, is everyone ready?"
They all nod and then put their hands on his shoulders. Umbros places one of his forepaws on Vincent's foot, and he looks down at him with a small chuckle. "Right... Let's go then."
He then looks at the rear vent. "I have to do this carefully... Too far to the left and we land in sight of everyone. Too far to the right and we wind up in the ocean."
He takes a deep breath, then thrusts his hand ahead, sending a silver streak of energy that shoots forward at high speed. It forms a straight and narrow path of light over the water and onto the ship. In a mere second, it strikes the right edge of the vent, just where it curves to the side. And before he can sigh in relief, the party is whisked off onto the ship in the exact spot where the spell landed.
As they appear on the ship, Vincent immediately pulls them back behind the vent to make sure no one sees them. He then leans back against the vent and sighs quietly. "That was close... I've never done that with other people with me before."
Christina looks at him. "But we made it, right? So there's nothing to worry about."
He nods slowly. "Yeah, for now. But we'll have to wait until everyone boards before we can move and find Hector's cabin."
She nods to him and they all sit down to rest. After a while, Vincent looks out and sees that most of the line has boarded now. "Hector's not there... I think he's on the ship now."
He pulls out his phone and sends a message to Hector, asking if he's in his cabin yet. And a moment later, he gets a response with the number 136.
"136... That's what we have to find."
He then gets another message with a picture of the ship's layout, and one of the cabins is highlighted in red. He gets up, with the others, and they go to the edge of the vent. As they look out, they see that no one is looking in their direction, and dart inside the ship.
Here, they find themselves in a hallway, surrounded on both sides by numerous doors. Vincent follows the map while keeping an eye out for anyone else coming their way. And once they find cabin 136, he lightly knocks on the door.
A moment later, it opens and Hector is seen standing on the other side. "About time. I thought they found you."
Christina rolls her eyes. "Please, it was only five minutes."
They begin to hear footsteps around the corner and Vincent rushes them all inside, then Hector shuts the door behind them.
Vincent looks back at the door, hearing the foorsteps soon fade off, and takes a soft breath. "Okay, I think we're safe..."
He looks around the cabin, seeing that it's a fairly small room with one bed, a nightstand next to the headboard, and a desk with a chair across from them. A round window is seen on the wall, looking outside. They go over to it and look in, seeing the port down below them.
Christina stares at the port intently for a moment, growing more anxious with each passing second. "...I guess this is it them. We say goodbye to Kanto..."
Vincent looks at her and nods slowly, then reaches over and puts his arm around her in a hug. "But we'll come back... Just you wait."
She slowly nods, and they hear the horn of the ship blow, signalling that they're about to leave. Vincent steps back and looks at his necklace, then puts his hand around it. And soon, all the others start to glow the light-blue color of his.
On the sight of this, Larisa, Lasuno, Aerthos and Sierra look at each other while in the sky, circling the ship. With the sound of the horn, they know that it's time to leave. And so they look back at the port one last time, before the ship starts to move and head off.
Vincent and the others look through the window at their homeland and notice it starting to move away from them. They watch port leave behind them as they move out into the ocean, towards their new destination... the Hoenn Region. And it would be there that they make a new start. The first step on the journey to take on Vincent's task...
...as the Messanger of Time.
Vincent is sitting on the bed, with his back against the wall, as he looks through his phone on various news topics in the Hoenn region. However, he hasn't come to anything that catches his interest yet. He soon drops his phone on the bed and lets out a quiet breath in annoyance.
Melissa looks at him from the chair by the table. "Still nothing?"
He shakes his head slowly. "No... I'm beginning to wonder if Hoenn really is the best place to start. I mean, what could possibly be there?"
Hector folds his arms, leaning against the wall by the door. "What could possibly be anywhere, Vincent? Sometimes you just have to go out there and look. Jack once told me, an idea isn't going to get anywhere unless you develop it. It's how he designed the system that our phones run on."
Vincent eyes him. "And that means something... how?"
"It means you won't ever get anywhere by just thinking about things. You have to go and try it for yourself. We're going to Hoenn now, so we might as well make the most of it."
Vincent slowly nods and then rubs his face. "Alright, then... But where do we even start?"
Christina looks over at them from her sitting position on the floor by the wall. "Guess we'll see when we get there..."
Vincent gets up and goes over to the window, looking outside. All he can see is the ocean below and the sky above, with the occasional Wingull and Pelipper flying around. Christina watches him for a moment, before speaking up.
"Hey... I was wondering."
He looks down at her curiously.
"When our necklaces were lit up... I saw your pocket glowing too. You still have-..."
Vincent reaches into his pocket and pulls out a lace with a white stone attached to it. Christina stares at it for a short time. It's the very stone he had retrieved from their house after the fire.
"Do you think you'll find anyone to give it to?"
He shakes his head. "I don't know... If I do find someone, it has to be someone special."
She nods slowly, and he puts it back into his pocket. The room is quiet for a time, before a sudden rumbling is heard. Christina blinks and looks around.
Melissa looks at Vincent in surprise. "Was that your stomach?"
Vincent shifts a bit. "...It may have been."
Raven eyes him with a small chuckle. "Dude, you're gonna start rattling the ship if that keeps up."
Melissa giggles and Hector smirks. "I think Vincent's gonna be on another task pretty soon."
Vincent rolls his eyes and goes to sit back down on the bed. "Yeah, yeah, hush."
Christina shakes her head with a small smile, before looking back at Vincent. "Hey... When's the last time you ate?"
Vincent blinks and looks at her, then sits back against the wall. "...I spaced it today."
Christina looks at him in surprise at this. "You... spaced it all day?"
"Yeah, I... wasn't thinking about it."
"We were just at a restaurant earlier. You didn't think to order something to take out?"
"I was conserving money..."
Raven looks at him and raises a brow. "What money?"
Christina looks back at Raven. "We all had access to our parents' account so we could do shopping whenever they were away. We agreed only to spend that money on things we needed, after what happened..."
Hector stares over at Vincent. "Looks like Vincent hasn't been keeping to that. How much have you been eating lately?"
Vincent shrugs a bit, growing uncomfortable. "I had some things here and there, alright? I didn't want to use too much, so I've been using it scarcely."
Christina sighs. "Vincent, it's okay to eat when you have to, you know... I don't care if you're special or not. You're still a person. I don't think mom and dad would want you to starve yourself."
Vincent stares off in silence at this. There isn't anything he can say to oppose her words. Christina then looks over at Hector.
"Could you go get some sandwiches? You're the only one who can order things here."
Hector nods and stands up straight. "Right. I'll be back in a bit then." He goes out into the hallway and shuts the door behind him.
Raven sits down by the door after he leaves and looks at Christina curiously. "So how do you know you have enough to last you?"
Christina peers over at him and then smiles a bit. "Our parents had a lot saved up. They were Dragon Tamers, actually. Our family policy was never to put a pokemon into a pokeball. But otherwise, they were as close to trainers as you could be."
She stretches her legs out and then continues. "They worked around Blackthorn. So they were going to Johto constantly. At times, they even took us along on trips there. We got to meet the gym leader Clair, and so many other people they knew. They did many things there. Mostly watching over the Dragon's Chamber. It was a home to many dragon pokemon, either born there or left there by trainers who couldn't look after them."
Raven thinks for a bit. "So your parents were there to help keep them safe."
Christina nods. "Yeah... They were pretty well known too. But we never spent much money. At least... not after the house was done. Mom and dad got lots of help building it, before we were born. It could power itself with its own sources of electricity. Meahwile, they made sure to keep payments to a minimum. Mostly getting food and internet. They were saving to pay for our classes later on. Melissa and I wanted to take music. And Hector..."
She giggles softly. "He was more interested in technical research. Our brother is such a geek."
Vincent smiles a bit. "But he is smart..."
Christina nods. "Yeah... But what about you? You never did take any of those classes."
Vincent becomes silent, and she sighs. "You know... The more you worry about it, the worse it's gonna become. You did promise to come back. So why do you keep acting like you won't?"
Vincent looks down. "...It's more that... I'm not sure. With everything that's going on, I don't want to go into anything else. Not yet... After my task is finished and we're settled down again..."
Christina puts her hands in her lap, not saying anything else. And he looks over at her for a moment.
"I will come back, Christina. I won't hold back on that promise. I just need to focus on what's happening now. Once it's all over, we can live normally."
She slowly nods. "Alright..."
As Hector returns, they all eat, before deciding to take a rest for the night. They know that they would have to be up earlier the next day to leave when the ship reaches Slateport. And they would have to be ready for when it does.
- - - - -
~Several hours later... late at night~
"Your resistance is intriguing to me... I never would've thought a physical embodiment of an entity such as yourself would hold out for this long. It seems this shell of yours is much stronger than I originally thought... You've even managed to avoid striking down that annoying dragon this whole time..."
Dialga growls deeply at the cloaked individual, not moving but glaring down at him with growing anger. But the person just smirks, taking no heed to the deity's warnings.
"Can you truly resist the chaotic powers much longer? The force which ever grows stronger within your very being... I'll say your time is about up."
Soon, a loud growl emanates throughout the island, causing every stone and every speck of dirt to radiate with blue energy... the power from the Temporal Seal within slowly being taken by the controlling force.
- - - - -
Vincent looks quietly around the timeless, dark plain as he comes to a stand. He knows this is the fourth dream he has had of this place since his time in Pallet, when he was affected by the mysterious presence in the Western Forest.
As he walks on, he soon comes to see the Grovyle he'd met before. It would appear that this time, they have grown familiar with one another. And the smaller grass pokemon is the first to speak.
"I see we meet again, Vincent..."
Vincent slowly nods in response. "...How are things where you are?"
The Grovyle folds his arms and looks around. "I would say they're about the same. However, Dialga's presence seems to have faded from here. Somehow... it feels as though he's gone missing. But no one dares venture to the tower to find him. Some have gone out before, but few have returned. The investigation team appears to be falling apart from this crisis. Many have given up hope."
Vincent shakes his head with a soft sigh. "I wish I were there right now to do something... But I don't even know how to get there. It seems I have to do something in Earthrealm before I can cross over to there. At least... I hope so."
Grovyle turns off and looks towards the decayed tower floating on a tiny island in the sky. "Yeah, well... there may not be much that can be done here either. So if you're to come here, you'd best think of a plan quickly. With time at a standstill, the pokemon here are gradually wasting away and succumbing to the darkness."
Vincent stares up at the structure in silence, overlooking the many pieces of it locked in a timeless stance, floating in place amongst one another to form the remains of Temporal Tower.
After a short time though, they notice a faint blue glow come from the structure, quickly drawing their attention and curiosity. But before they can say anything about it, Grovyle vanishes from sight, and soon along with the rest of the area. Vincent looks around and utters a quiet growl, knowing that their connection has, once again, been severed. But this time, it feels as though something has purposely interfered and cut them off.
- - - - -
Vincent opens his eyes and looks around, a growing tension being felt in the area. He pulls his blanket off himself and gets up, glancing around the room and seeing that the others are still asleep. So he gets up and quietly walks to the door, opening it and going out, and then closing it as slowly as he can so as not to wake anyone up.
He then goes down the hall and to the rear deck of the ship. A soft breeze can be felt, and the sounds of the small waves rolling past the ship are heard in all directions. It is a quiet night, and it would seem that nearly everyone on the ship is asleep.
Vincent goes to the guard rail and looks out over the ocean for a while in thought. He can't get over the feeling that something is about to happen. After a while of thought, he begins to hear footsteps on the deck and looks off in the direction they're coming from.
Christina can be seen coming from the cabins and looking at him curiously. She walks over and puts her arms on the rail, staring at the ocean for a moment, before speaking up.
"...So have you figured out anything we can do?"
Vincent sighs and shakes his head, looking back out. "No... The thing is, I'm not sure that my task is even supposed to end here."
Christina blinks and looks back at him, and he bows his head down. "The thing is, those who took the Temporal Task before me didn't come to this world. Each of them were sent to another place we call the Dusk Realm. There the planet has been paralyzed already. I've been in contact with someone who lives there for the past couple weeks. But at this point, hope there has seemed just a thought."
Christina then looks down over the rail for a moment, before speaking. "You said there were others... How many have taken this task? What happened to them?"
After a short time, Vincent looks back out at the sea. "I'm the fourth one to take on this task. The three before me..." He shakes his head. "I'm sure they were attacked by someone..."
He stares off in thought for a moment, before continuing. "All of them have been brought to failure from the attack. But only the last one has returned safely. His name is Gerald. But the other two weren't so lucky..."
Christina looks over at him, then shakes her head. "Sounds like this task is a lot harder than we thought, isn't it?"
"You didn't have to come."
"I don't care..."
Vincent looks back at her as she gazes out at the sea with a serious look.
"We're a family. It doesn't matter how hard it is. We're all in this together, and we'll finish it together. Whatever it takes."
He stares at her for a bit, before slowly nodding. "Right... But I have to ask you." He takes a deep breath, then exhales softly. "...If we're under attack... will you be prepared to defend yourself?"
Christina blinks and glances at him. "What do you mean..?"
"I mean... can you fight for your life? And strike down someone who threatens to take it from you?"
She grows tense at the question and turns around, leaning back on the rail. "I... don't know..."
Vincent shakes his head slowly. "Messangers have been taught to defend themselves against anyone who opposes them on their task... Death is no easy thing to deal with. We've already learned this. It is never the life of the one taking on the task that drives them so hard... but it is the lives of the many others who support them. And the countless lives of those who would be affected thereof. If you come with me and we're drawn into a battle... I can't always protect you."
Christina stares down at the deck with uncertainty. It's true neither she nor the other siblings have ever had to fight. And the few times they did, they had help from their pokemon. But she knows this will be personal. They will have to be able to protect themselves on their own. And she isn't sure if she can do it.
Larisa and Lasuno are soon seeing flying down to them, Larisa looking curious at Christina's expression. But she then looks up at the Latias and starts to brighten up a bit. "Hey, Larisa... Hey Lasuno."
Larisa makes a quiet coo in response. "Are you okay?"
Christina nods slowly. "Yeah... I will be. Just a lot to think about, that's all."
Larisa nods back and then looks at Vincent. "...How are you?"
Vincent looks back at her. "I'm okay... It's just the same as Christina said. There's a lot ahead of us, and we don't know what we can expect. We'll have to be ready for anything."
Lasuno looks at him for a moment. "But we will be ready, right? We've been working towards this for a while."
Vincent nods a bit. "Yeah..."
After a moment of silence, Christina speaks up in a different, suddenly more uplifting tone. "You know... I've always wanted to do something."
They all look at her curiously and she smiles a bit, fidgeting her hands. "Well... Melissa, Raven and I have taken music classes for a while now. Supposedly there's a place in Slateport that a lot of people go to. It's like an outside shopping center and draws a lot of people. But from what I've heard, not everyone who goes there is there to shop. Some go there to watch others perform various acts. So I thought about us trying out there." She looks down a bit. "Just a silly thought..."
Vincent shakes his head. "No, you should. I think you'd do great."
She blinks and looks back at him. "Really?"
Vincent nods slowly. "Of course... I've heard you play before."
Christina smiles a bit, but is clearly still somewhat nervous at the idea. "Well... Thanks."
Vincent reaches over and pats her shoulder. "Don't worry. It's only nerve-wracking the first time you go out there. But just get into it and let the music drive you on."
She nods slowly, then looks at him with sudden curiosity.
"...Vincent? You talk as though you've played in front of an audience before."
He blinks, then pulls back and leans against the rail. "I... may have."
Christina stares at him and folds her arms at this. He obviously isn't being very subtle, and she's easily picked up on it. "What aren't you saying?"
Vincent fidgets a bit and then lets out a soft breath. "...Back in the Council, most people have taken to musical performances. A number of us have our own instruments to play on stage."
He then lifts his arm and waves it out in front of himself, and a set of keys appear and roll out under his hand. They are transparent, and take the appearance of a regular piano. And the keys that are normally black are a deep blue, while the white keys are silvery, and seem to have a faint glow.
Everyone stares in awe at the musical instrument which has formed in front of Vincent, and he smiles a bit at them. "This... is my own instrument. I would play it now, but it's meant for staged performances in front of a large audience, so it's rather loud."
Christina looks over the keyboard, and then up at him, before slowly nodding. "I bet you're really good though..."
He shrugs at this. "I suppose so. I haven't played in decades."
She blinks, and then ushers a defiant huff. "You're so old!"
Vincent looks at her with a blank stare, which quickly turns into a sharp glare. "Hey! I'm only... probably a few centuries..." His voice lowers to a mumble at the end, before he snaps out again. "I'm not that old!"
Christina and Larisa giggle at that and Larisa then retorts back in a playful tone, "Old!"
Lasuno grins at Vincent, who puts his face in his hands, releasing a long sigh. "Alright, alright, I get the idea."
Christina reaches over and pushes him on the shoulder. "And yet you're still younger than me now."
He mutters and looks down, defeated, and then waves his arm out again. The keyboard then quickly fades away and he folds his arms. "That reminds me... You and Hector are turning seventeen soon. Like... in three days soon."
Christina blinks, and then nods slowly. "Yeah, we are..."
"...Any ideas on what to do then?"
She goes over to the rail and leans back on it again, shaking her head. "No... To be honest, I've been avoiding the subject because it's not really the best time to have any kind of birthday party, with all that's happening."
Vincent looks over at her. "When is the best time, if not now? It's your birthday, Christina. You only have so many of those in your lifetime. You and Hector should enjoy them when you get the chance to."
Christina sighs softly and rubs her arm. "I guess. It just seemed kind of awkward of a thing to bring up now."
Vincent shakes his head slowly. "Maybe now's the best time to bring it up, before everything does start taking a turn. Don't you agree?"
She looks at him, then nods slightly. "Yeah..."
He smiles a bit at her. "Christina... Whatever happens, don't ever worry. In the end, it will be okay. Always remember that."
Christina looks back at him and makes a small smile in return. "Alright, Vincent..."
- - - - -
"It's time, Dialga... He is in sight."
Dialga makes a low growl, his body no longer fighting off the control. His gaze is fixed to the south. And while it would be a great distance from the island, he can see a ship sailing across the ocean and going towards the west.
The cloaked individual waves his arm out. "Do it."
- - - - -
Vincent is staring out at the sea once more. Christina has gone back to bed and Larisa and Lasuno are resting on the roof of the cabins nearby, and Larisa is looking down at him quietly.
As he continues to gaze over the water, he begins to get a strong feeling of tension and pulls back from the rail. Larisa lifts her head in curiosity, noticing that something's come up.
"Vincent? What is it?"
He shakes his head and stares off to the north, as if to look at something in particular. "I can't tell... It feels as though something is coming... Every nerve in my body is tense, like something's going wrong..."
Larisa and Lasuno come down from the roof to him, and he keeps his gaze fixed in the direction.
"It's hard to tell... but I feel like we shouldn't be here... I can't..."
He winces and quickly shakes his head, looking back to the north. He then gets a split shot of something in that very direction... an island cloaked in darkness. And deep within a valley surrounded by tall mountains, a pair of red eyes can be seen... staring directly back at him, locked on his own. This causes him to grow almost an unbearable sense of danger, as he finally realizes just what is about to come.
He looks back at the two, and immediately shouts to them, "Go! Get the others up! Something's about to attack us!"
Larisa hovers back, and Lasuno narrows his eyes with clear concern. "How do you know..?"
Vincent clenches his fists and looks back to the north. "Don't... question it! Just go!"
The two hover back, then Lasuno nods to Larisa and they both quickly fly into the cabins, towards Hector's room.
Vincent growls quietly as he keeps his gaze towards the island. "I knew you'd find me eventually... I just didn't know it would be this soon..."
Dialga growls in response, then his eyes shine brightly, as well as his chest diamond. The fins on his back then start to expand as he opens his maw and builds up energy throughout his body, before concentrating it and firing it as a powerful beam... directly at the ship.
Upon seeing the rapidly approaching attack, Vincent can sense a great distortion in the field following the beam. It is clear what Dialga has just done... and that he would go through such lengths to use this attack proves just what he is willing to do to stop him.
With little can he do to stop the attack, all Vincent is able to manage is run for cover behind one of the vents as the side of the ship is struck. The attack nearly flips the vessel outright, and it shakes violently from side to side... as if just a mere fish in the middle of the great expanse of the water, with the shark being the deity of Time himself.
Vincent strains and drops to his knees as the distortion of time in the area greatly impacts him, his head feeling as though it were splitting in two and his mind racing loops. His vision blurs and then fades to white. And soon, he finds himself in a forest... a familiar forest in which he has ventured for many years of his life.
He looks around in disbelief at the scenery, knowing this place all too well. But why was he taken here? There is the scene of numerous vehicles driving towards the forest, and the many people in Pallet watching in distress. And then, the light... the green light. The very same light which carried off the group of workers who sought to tear down the forest.
Vincent watches on as waves of energy are sent throughout the forest. The trees around him flash as each pulse passes them. But this time, it seems to have less of an effect on Vincent than before. He takes a few steps forward as he can see a small creature appearing from the light. And soon, it hovers down to him, revealing itself finally. The one who had been protecting this forest.
Vincent looks in awe at the small pokemon. "You're... the one who's been here this whole time. The reason no one's dared venture into this forest. You're the one who took those people away... Celebi."
Celebi gives a brief smile and nods slowly to him. "You didn't think you had a particular interest in this place for nothing, did you?"
Vincent shifts a bit, suddenly uncomfortable. But Celebi then takes a more serious, and almost seeming to be a desperate tone.
"I can't stay for long, Vincent... I've been watching for a while, from the other side..."
He looks back at her with a blink. "The other side..? What do you mean?"
"Ever since Dialga's changed, time has been split in two. And... while I can cross between the timelines, I can't stay in this one for very long. The other timeline... It's unbearable to be in such a place..."
Vincent shakes his head. "But what do I do? How can I help you, Celebi?"
Celebi hovers back slowly. It appears that she is starting to strain to stay here. "You have to stop Dialga... Bring him back to who he was... It's the only way..."
Vincent runs forward to her. "But how?"
"It's all I know... It's all I can say..."
She begins to fade away, and Vincent holds his hand out to her. "Celebi! Take my hand! Celebi!"
But it's too late. With a final call, Vincent is forced back into reality. He looks around, finding himself back on the ship. And around him are numerous people, frantically trying to find out what just happened. And coming from the cabins are Larisa and Lasuno, along with the others.
He staggers up and gets to his feet, leaning against the vent for support, before turning to face them.
- - - - -
"Oh..? So they survived. Well then, let us see to it that they don't make it out of the next one..."
Dialga growls deeply as he stares at the damaged ship with great intent, and starts to charge for a second attack.
- - - - -
Melissa shouts out as she runs over to her brother, along with the others. "Vincent! What was that?"
Vincent grunts and steps out from behind the vent, turning his gaze towards the island in the north. Although no one else can see it, he knows well where it is.
"That was Dialga..."
Christina gasps in shock. "Dialga..!? Dialga attacked us!? But why? How did that happen?"
"He's not himself... He's become corrupt, and has set his focus on taking me out at all costs."
Hector looks around the deck. "He's doing a damn good job at that! What are we supposed to do?"
Vincent goes over to the rail and stares out. "...I have to stop him."
Christina stares at him, dumbfounded. "You've... got to be kidding! You'll die!"
"I have to! You need to make sure this ship makes it to shore. I have to see to it that Dialga doesn't land an attack that sinks it. There's no way around it."
He holds his hands out and a light forms in front of them, and Christina puts her hand on his shoulder, staring intently at him. "You'd better not get yourself killed, Vincent... Remember what you told me."
He looks back at her for a second, then slowly nods and looks ahead again. "Right..."
They all move back a bit, and Vincent faces the island, looking at Dialga. Hector goes over near the rail and looks in the same direction. "Go, Vincent. Before it's too late. And get back in one piece."
Vincent nods and then draws his hands back. And he soon sees Dialga start to glow again. He speaks in a low tone of warning. "Brace yourselves, everyone... Here it comes..."
Christina shouts out, "Everyone, get down!" She and the others crouch down on the deck and Hector grips the rail. Everyone else, in response to her warning, starts to kneel down. At this rate, they know better than to question someone who's trying to help, among everyone else who is of no use. But a number of them look towards Vincent, as though he were crazy to still be standing up.
But there is no time to react, as Dialga has now launched a second beam on the ship. And at the same time, Vincent releases a streak towards the island. As it comes past the beam, it suddenly turns from silver to a brilliant blue, following the path of distortion as a guide directly to Dialga. And soon, both of the projectiles would reach their mark.
The ship shakes violently once more as the attack strikes it directly in the side this time. And many screams can be heard. But amongst it all, the rocking causes Hector to flip over the rail and lose grip, then fall into the ocean below.
Vincent shouts out to him, but is able to do nothing in response as he almost immediately vanishes, following the path to the Flare Continent.
Christina screams out to Hector and jumps up, running over to the rail to look down for him. But he is nowhere in sight. And with Vincent now gone, there is nothing they can do to help him, as jumping down after him would be suicide.
- - - - -
The cloaked individual smirks as he watches the ship get struck by Dialga's second attack, and smoke starts to bellow from the side. But again, as if by some miracle, it seems to stay afloat.
But he then notices a smaller, blue streak of energy strike the side of the cliff where Dialga is standing. And soon after, Vincent appears in its place.
He looks around, then quickly up to face Dialga. And immediately, he notices the figure standing to his side, staring down at him with piercing green eyes. He then clenches his fists and glares back at him. "You..."
The individual makes a small scoff and then turns off, and Vincent casts his sword. "Don't walk away from me!"
But the person steps off and fades away into darkness, as Dialga makes a low growl, directing Vincent's attention back to him.
"...Do you know just how many lives you've just taken? Innocent people were on that ship! And several of them must of died from that last attack! I may have just lost my brother, to you!"
Dialga lets out another growl in response as his eyes start to glow once more. Vincent steps back and readies his sword. "No... I won't let you do this. You won't have your way with this world, Dialga! I will bring you back to your senses!"
Dialga roars out and releases a ball of purplish-blue energy directly at him. And in response, he jumps out of the way. But immediately after, Dialga launches another one at him.
This time, he is unable to react, and simply holds his sword in front of himself in desperate hopes to stop the attack somehow.
But a high roar can be heard from the distance as a blast of dark blue energy impacts the ball, and causes an explosion on the air. Vincent grunts and moves his arms to cover himself from the shockwave. And as it clears, he looks up to see a large, black dragon standing between him and Dialga.
He then stands up and gazes up at her in surprise. "Eriah..."
The dragon snarls back at him. "You're an idiot, Vincent! You're going to get yourself blown apart at this rate!"
He staggers and looks away. "...I had to protect my family..."
She stares back at him, before Dialga roars again and Eriah growls and gets into a stance. But something else gets in the way... Something around Eriah's neck causes Dialga to draw back, and simply usher a low, deep growl in anger.
The black dragon glares at Dialga for a moment, before turning back to Vincent and lowering herself down. "Get on... now."
He blinks, then with little hesitation and not a word in defiance, he quickly jumps up onto her back. She then rises up and looks back at Dialga for a moment.
He glares at her, his deep, red eyes piercing her threateningly. And with a snort, she flaps her wings and takes into the air, before flying off the island, as Dialga watches, not making a move. Clearly, something has vexed him. And this makes Vincent wonder just what Eriah did to stop him from attacking again.
Eriah flies out of sight of the island and to the southeast. and Vincent looks off to where he remembers the ship being. He only hopes that his family made it to safety, as he is taken elsewhere... only Eriah knows exactly where they will go.
"We've arrived, Vincent... This is the place."
Vincent looks through the thick fog. He and Eriah have been flying over the sea for several hours, passing through a fog which seemed to stretch on forever, and finally coming to an island which Vincent has never seen before.
The island is covered in a thin mist where the fog has cleared up. Here, he can see a vast plain of natural growth. Plants, hills and green grass cover the area for miles, and eventually lead to a dense forest which surrounds a large, white mountain range in the middle of the island. And in the middle of the range, one large mountain stands, scaling above everything else and passing into the clouds overhead, which cover the area like a blanket. Only small breaks can be seen where rays of sunlight pass through.
Vincent looks on in awe, taken aback by the sight he has come across. "What... is this place, Eriah? It's amazing..."
Eriah flies on, descending down over the island and soaring over the plains. "This, Vincent, is a very special place I've known for centuries. And it is also my home... That is, what remains after my kind was hunted to near-extinction. We called it Soul Island."
Vincent looks down at her for a moment, before gazing around the island as they fly over it. "Extinction... Eriah, I've heard of your kind before. There were documents recorded in the Spiritual Council. But even before, there still weren't that many of you, were there? What... happened?"
Eriah stares ahead in silence for a moment. It is clear that she is recalling past events, and Vincent begins to think he may have hit a sore spot in asking her. "...I'm sorry if that was out of line."
She shakes her head slowly. "No, Vincent... It probably would be better for you to know."
He stares down at her, and runs his hand lightly across her neck, although she wouldn't feel it much due to the scales covering her. But he does so anyway, just as a show of comfort.
"...Centuries ago, in the early years of the second millenia, my species flourished. There weren't many of us, as you know. But we were very well-known among the people. It was because of our role that we were highly respected. We were born of special heritage passed down for countless generations. We were in the service of specific beings- great beings known across the many worlds by nearly everyone. And one of them... was Dialga. He was the one whom my family served."
Vincent blinks in a bit of surprise at this. "So... Your role was supporting them and helping keep the balance of the elements of the world."
Eriah nods slowly as she soon lands on a small cliff near the base of the mountains. "Indeed... My family helped to keep the proper flow of time in the world, It was a small task, but it was one that was to ensure nothing went wrong, when Dialga himself couldn't be there to do it himself."
Vincent jumps down from her back and looks at her, and she gazes down at a particular blue-plated armor worn around the base of her neck. He'd noticed it before, but never had the chance to bring it up. But now, it can be easily seen that, inside the plate that covers her chest, a small stone is fixed in place. It is a transparent silver, and a faint blue glow can be seen emanating from inside it, having a power Vincent has felt many times.
"That... What is that stone?"
She stares at the stone in thought for a moment, before speaking again. "This is a powerful object which was fragmented from Dialga's own chest diamond, called the Sylverstone. In a way, it is linked to Dialga himself. But this stone... is what my family has used to correct any Temporal imbalances we've found around the world. So it must be protected with our lives. And the best way to do that..."
He stares up at her. "...Is to bind it to your own body. So that armor isn't simply to protect yourself..."
Eriah shakes her head. "No... It's to protect the stone from being removed from myself."
Vincent nods slowly and stares at the stone. Many things run through his mind about what he'd just learned. But one thing in particular comes up that he'd noticed before.
"Dialga... He restrained himself before. He wouldn't attack you..."
Eriah looks back at Vincent. "That is correct. The Sylverstone, being linked to him, holds a portion of his power. If he had damaged it, it would have extreme consequences on himself. Thus, as an act of self preservation, he refrained from attacking because of the risk it would've imposed."
"I see... So that's why..."
Eriah looks around and then turns to face a cavern a short distance away from them. "We should rest for the time being. A lot has happened."
Vincent looks back at her, then to the cavern she's facing. He then nods slowly and they go over to it. The entrance is fairly large, enough for Eriah to fit into when she crouches down. And inside is a large, almost perfectly circular room which is more than enough for the two of them to be comfortable inside. The wall on the left and right side of the cavern has a small ledge across it, almost in a particular order. It would appear that this is not a naturally formed cavern, but one that was created by sentient creatures.
Eriah lies down on the ground and watches as Vincent looks around the cavern, before going over to one of the ledges and sitting down against it. He looks back at her for a few seconds, before talking again.
"...Will we be able to see my family again? I'd like to know if they're safe. I want to know if they made it to port okay."
She slowly nods. "We can go find out. But I would advise against going back to Flare for the time being, until we know what we can do to help Dialga."
He nods and puts his arms on his knees. "Alright then..." He stares to the ground. While he is sure his sisters and Raven have made it to safety, he can't say the same for Hector. He just hopes, somehow, that he made it okay. But the worst thoughts come to him when considering what could've possibly happened to him.
- - - - -
"Hello again, brother..."
Jack, who had been working on one of his machines in his factory, suddenly clutches the wrench in his hand and looks over at James, who is standing several yards away from him.
"...What do you want?"
James grins and takes a few steps closer to him. "I'm merely checking up on family. Is that a sin?"
Jack narrows his eyes, and then goes back to screwing in a bolt on his machine. "My family's gone. Your attempts to get me to side with you fall on deaf ears. ATHER, check the engine now. See if it's running properly."
The voice over the speakers chimes in, "Will do, sir," and the machine starts up as Jack takes a step back and watches.
James eyes it for a moment, then folds his arms. "Still playing with your little toys, aren't you? You know, those could come in good use for other things."
"I'm not turning my factory into a weapons depot to get at Vincent because you decided to be a little twit and go on a killing spree just to make him miserable."
James shrugs and turns off. "Well, it was worth a try, wasn't it?" He turns his head back to Jack. "But you will help me. One way or another. Remember that."
Jack stares at him disdainfully, but his attention is drawn by ATHER once again. "Sir, you have an incoming call."
James makes a lighthearted scoff and walks off, eventually fading away, and Jack watches him until he's gone, sighing quietly.
- - - - -
Christina, Melissa and Raven walk into the dining area of the ship and look around, seeing that all the tables have been pushed to one side of the huge room, leaving the rest of the room wide open. It appears that many things here have been destroyed, as if a bomb had gone off in this very room. However, this isn't far from the truth. A massive hole in the wall confirms that one of the attacks hit here. They were informed earlier that the blast created a shockwave that impacted countless people who were here, and channeled the powerful energy down the halls into other rooms.
The three have spent much of the time after the attack, which occurred just a few hours earlier, helping people on the ship. But they had come to realize that there were many who weren't so lucky to survive the incident.
As they come to one of the tables, Christina peeks under the cloth on it to find Umbros crouched below it. He looks up at the three, his hindleg being wrapped in a bandage. A few nicks can be seen over his body.
Christina kneels down to him and shakes her head. "Still hiding, Umbros?"
The Umbreon stares at her and makes a small snort. "These people are weird. They're not like the ones at home. They keep staring at me..."
Christina sighs and reaches down to pet his head, and he lowers his ears. "...You still haven't told me why you were in here last night."
Umbros makes a quiet whimper. "I was scavenging... The poor Umbreon was hungry, okay?"
"You know what would've happened if you were caught?"
Melissa kneels down by her and looks at him, before reaching her arm out to lightly pet his ears. "I think something a bit worse happened by now..."
Umbros looks down with a soft sigh. "...There I was, in the kitchen. Of course everything was raw and didn't look very appetizing to me. I didn't touch the vegetables either. But then... everything shook."
Christina stares down at him and listens while continuing to pet his head.
"I went back out to the dining area, and everyone was starting to panic. Someone said we were hit by something. There were so many different ideas what happened. But before I could go and explore..."
Christina thinks for a second, then looks over at the wall, staring at the large hole in it. "...The second attack hit."
Umbros winces at the memory. "All I remember is seeing this blue explosion... I was shot into a table and blacked out. I think I hit the table pretty hard... It was destroyed when I woke up."
Melissa sighs softly and looks at Christina. "What do we do now..?"
She shakes her head and looks back at Umbros. "We'll be at Slateport in an hour, they said... They... sent a helicopter here with extra supplies to treat the people who were hurt and repair some minor damage to the ship so we'd make it. No one was ever prepared for this..."
She looks around, then notices a pair across the room... a boy appearing around ten, and a man with him. They look to be kneeling over a woman on the ground. The boy seems to have been crying, the man in tears still. The very sight of this is gutwrenching for her, and she turns away, letting out a soft breath.
After a moment, a man comes over to them, looking to be one of the security officers of the ship. "Excuse me, you three."
They all look up at him and Christina blinks. "...Yes?"
"I'd like you all to come with me, please."
Christina looks back at Umbros. "...Can you walk?"
The Umbreon crawls out from under the table and staggers up, but then flops onto his side with a soft yelp, and the officer eyes him in slight surprise.
Christina then sighs and reaches down, picking him up with a small grunt and holding him in her arms. "You're a bit heavy..."
Umbros grumbles and glares up at her. "Are you saying I'm fat? I can walk, you know!"
She rolls her eyes. "Fine." She starts to set him down and he clings to her, whimpering."
"N-No! It hurts..."
Christina smirks and then gets back up, holding him again. "Thought so..." She then looks back at the officer. "Alright..."
As they leave the room, they pass by several other people who've been caught in the incident. Christina and Melissa try not to look at them, only having the memory of what had happened to themselves, not so long ago. Umbros can't help but feel pity for these people, and Raven appears to have seen enough and is simply averting his gaze from them as they pass.
They come down the hall where various windows appear to have been shattered. There is glass swept against the walls to prevent people from stepping on it as they pass by. They take a flight of stairs to the upper level of the ship, and eventually come to a somewhat larger room than most of the cabins they've seen here.
As they walk in, the head officer sitting at the desk glances at them and then stops what he is doing and waves them over.
"Ahh, yes, you three. I would like to speak to you."
Christina stares at him a bit uncomfortably as they walk over to the desk. "I could've figured that much..."
The officer eyes her for a moment, before continuing on. "...I believe I owe you thanks for your assistance in treating the ones harmed by last night's attack. You were a great deal of help."
Christina makes a small nod in response, but says nothing.
The man opens the drawer in his desk and pulls out a card- the international ferry pass given to Vincent, and then passed to Hector to board this ship.
"I would like to know which of you this belongs to."
Christina shifts a bit and sighs quietly. "Neither, sir... It belonged to my brother, who... fell overboard last night." She doesn't mention Vincent, who was the real owner of the pass.
He furrows his brows and then places the card on the desk. "I'm sorry to hear that. You have my condolences."
She holds tighter onto Umbros, who winces a bit and looks back at her. After a moment, the man sits back in his chair and lets out a breath.
"I had confiscated this card from you earlier because you were seen on this ship without authority. Now, had the circumstances been different, I could have you arrested the moment we arrived at port. However..."
He shifts his glance between each of them, giving a passing look of curiosity at Umbros, before going on.
"Since... you were of help to us, I will, this one time, allow that to go. But I should warn you. If you ever try to board another ship this way, you won't be so fortunate."
He picks up the card and holds it to Christina, who steps over and takes it in one hand then quickly pulls it back to hold onto Umbros again. "...Thank you."
The officer nods, and then speaks up once more. "I must ask you, however... given that the circumstances are far too coincidental. Do you have any information for us about what could've attacked us?"
Christina falls silent and the others look at her. The officer stares at her expectantly, and then she shakes her head. "No, sir. I don't know."
He taps his hand on the desk for a moment, then nods. "...Very well then. You will be led to your cabin. You may pick up your belongings there and leave when we reach Slateport."
She nods slowly and the other officer goes to the door, opening it for them. They start to walk out, before the man at the desk pipes up again. "You may want to meet your pokemon soon. They appear to be growing restless outside."
Christina blinks and looks back at him, and he goes back to what he was doing, ignoring her gaze. After a moment, she then turns back and walks out with the others.
- - - - -
Vincent opens his eyes and looks around the area in confusion... He appears to have awoken in a dark valley. One which he recognizes quite well. He gets up and then stumbles over, looking down at his... paws?
He would soon realize that he has four legs, each with a glowing blue ring on the side. He looks himself over, seeing that he has nearly pitch black fur, and... a tail? As he looks it over, he waves it behind him and blinks with utter confusion.
"This is... unusual..." Vincent walks around, seeming not quite as awkward now that he's realized what he's become. As he comes to a cliffside, he comes to a spot where there would be water running down its side. But, as is everything else, it is frozen solid... motionless and seeming as if pleading to move. But time would not allow it.
He looks into the waterfall to see his own reflection, his ears standing tall and pointed, with the same blue rings around them that he has on his legs. He also sees that he has the same ring on his forehead, with a blue pair of eyes at its sides, which stare back at him through his reflection. It is true... he has become an Umbreon.
"This has to be another dream... What's happening here?"
He gazes around the area, then up into the sky, seeing the very island where he knows the remains of Temporal Tower stand. He steps back and then looks back across the valley, soon noticing a figure approaching... He pauses, then looks closer at it, coming to realization that it is the pokemon whom he'd been talking to each time he's come here.
Vincent runs forward, calling out to it. "Grovyle!"
The grass-type gecko blinks and stops in his tracks, staring at Vincent with uncertainty. "Do I... know you?"
Vincent soon stops and looks at him, then takes a step back. "...Oh." That's right... He doesn't recognize me...
Grovyle eyes him curiously, and he sighs, looking to the ground.
"Grovyle... It's Vincent. I don't know how I came into this form, but I seem to have awoken in this dream like this."
Grovyle stares at him and squints. "Vincent... But I don't understand. Why are you..."
Vincent shakes his head and looks back up at him. "I don't get it either. But I don't think we have very much time. We'll figure that out later..."
Grovyle pauses for a second, then nods slowly. "Right... Have you come to anything yet?"
Vincent shifts a bit and lets out a soft breath. "No... Not yet. But I did find someone who may be of help to us. She is of a species that existed long ago in Earthrealm. Eriah... And she bears something that I think will be essential to the task."
Grovyle folds his arms and looks at him curiously. "What is that?"
"It's... called the Sylverstone. It's an object which comes from Dialga himself. In a way... it's connected to him. I'm not sure what all it's capable of, but... I know it's important. It has to be."
Grovyle looks down in thought. "I see... Well, that's a start. But how do we know what to do with it?"
Vincent shakes his head. "I don't know... I will need to speak to her about it. But I'm sure it's a key of some sort. I mean... Dialga can travel between Earthrealm and here, right? What if... somehow, the Sylverstone can be used to do the same thing, somehow?"
Grovyle looks back at him, then puts his arms down and takes a few steps past him, looking out across the valley. "Somehow... Well if it can be, then that's the first step to getting anywhere." He looks back at Vincent. "But then what? What happens after you get here?"
Vincent looks down and his blue-ringed ears lower. "...I don't know. I'm trying to figure out what to do, but without knowing much about this place, there's not much I can do in Earthrealm."
Grovyle taps his foot on the ground and stares down at it in thought once again. "I'll try to find out more of what I can... We have friends here trying to search for ways to make a difference in this world. But our numbers are very few, amongst all the pokemon losing their minds in this eternal darkness. I just hope we can do something before it's too late..."
Vincent looks up and then turns around to face him. "I know we can, Grovyle... We just... have to find out how."
Grovyle turns his head back at him and stares into his deep, blue eyes, then makes a small scoff. "I like you, Vincent... You're one of the few I know who isn't a hopeless wretch. It must be nice, where you are."
Vincent blinks, then sighs and shakes his head. "Well if I don't do something soon, it won't be like that for long. It's only a matter of time before the warped effects of the Flare Continent spread to the rest of my world. Each day, I can feel time becoming warped. No one seems to notice it yet, but I know it'll get worse..."
Grovyle turns to face him. "Well then, let's do something about it, shall we?" He holds his arm out to him.
Vincent looks up at him, and then nods and smiles a bit. He moves one of his forelegs out and takes his paw with his own. "Right..."
He then twitches his ears and blinks, placing his paw back on the ground and looking around. For a moment, he could've sworn he heard something whisper to him.
Grovyle looks at him curiously. "Vincent? What is it?"
Mundus factus est obscurior...
Vincent blinks and turns around... the whisper seems to be coming from behind him. "What?"
Grovyle stares at him and steps closer. "...Vincent?"
"Darker... It's already happening..."
Tempus enim prope est...
Grovyle watches as Vincent takes a few steps forward.
Facias et nunc.
Vincent turns back to Grovyle and stares silently at him for a moment, and he looks back with confusion.
"Time's running out..."
Grovyle shakes head. "We knew that..."
Vincent walks past him and looks out across the valley. "No, I mean it's sooner than I thought. We can't delay much longer..."
"But how do we act when we don't know what we're doing?"
Vincent shakes his head and looks up at the sky, to Temporal Tower. "I don't know... But I need to find out soon."
Grovyle nods slowly to him. "Then go..."
Vincent looks back at him and then nods. "Be careful..."
Grovyle stares at him, before the dream disperses into a dark cloud. Vincent looks around as he starts to feel himself slipping away. His rings flicker in the darkness surrounding him, before he notices a red glow through the cloud. He stares at the glow, and starts to pace towards it. He increases speed gradually, starting to run towards it. But no matter how fast he'd go, he cannot seem to get closer to it.
And then... it disappears. And before Vincent can react, he is forced out of the dream, awakening in the cavern he had fallen asleep in before. He gasps and jerks forward, looking around himself and soon realizing where he is. It was, indeed, just a dream... and he is still in human form.
He sighs out softly and then looks back at Eriah, whose eyes are open and locked on him. The Sylverstone on her chest, which was glowing, fades back to its dormant state and he stares at her.
"...Did you see that?"
The large, black dragon nods back to him. "I did... The Sylverstone showed me many things... You've been trying to reach out to the Dusk Realm for a couple weeks now, haven't you?"
He nods slowly and then sits back against her. "What... was it? Why was I different?"
Eriah shakes her head slowly. "I cannot say... This is beyond my knowledge."
Vincent looks down and lets out a quiet breath. "...We have to go soon. I'm concerned for my family. Why don't we search Slateport tomorrow?"
She looks down at him, and then nods to him. "Very well... I will take you there."
Vincent folds his arms in his lap and stares outside the cavern, at the misty island which spreads from the mountains they're on.
The world is growing darker... It is nearly time... You must act now.
He thinks over these words. The very words he'd heard in the dream. And he knows... time is very quickly running out.
- - - - -
Excita verum sui... Quod tibi perdere.
Awaken your true self... Do what you were meant to do...
"Who... Who are you? What do you want!?"
"No, no! Stay away from her!"
- - - - -
Vincent is awakened by a nudge to his side and mumbles quietly. He opens his eyes and looks around the cavern, then over to Eriah, who he has been sleeping against. She looks down at him, and after a moment, he looks outside, seeing that it is now dawn.
"...I suppose it's time to go then."
She nods and he puts his hand on the ground, pushing himself to one knee, then standing up, stretching a bit. He then walks outside and looks out over the island. And soon, Eriah comes out behind him and stares out.
Vincent sighs quietly as he gazes over the forests and plains that spread out from the mountains they're on. "This really is a nice place, Eriah... I'm sorry that more of your kind isn't around to be able to see it."
She is silent for a while, before stepping over to the cliff. "What's happened is in the past. We need to focus on the present, or there will be even more losses to come in the future."
Vincent nods slowly and then looks at her. "Are you ready..?"
She nods and then lowers down to him. He walks over to her and lightly strokes her neck, before climbing onto her back. She then rises up again and looks back at the cavern. And a moment later, she quietly utters, "Rest well..." And then she spreads her wings and takes off from the cliff, ascending into the sky.
Vincent blinks and looks at the cavern for a second, then back at her, curious about what she meant when she said that. But he knows that if she hasn't told him now, it is best he not ask questions. Now, he focuses on what's to come ahead. As they fly over the island and into the fog spreading across the ocean beyond, he looks forward to their next destination: Slateport... where he hopes to find his family again.
- - - - -
"...You've got something to answer for."
Dialga glares down silently at the cloaked figure who stands before him.
"You refused to attack your dragon friend, why? What power does she hold over you that surpasses your binding?"
Dialga makes no response, and simply stares down at the person, his gaze locked as though to pierce his soul, perhaps enough to shatter the morale of any human being as his very presence would threaten the existence of all around him.
But the individual isn't swayed by his look. He simply takes a step forward and speaks again, his deep, quiet voice calm, but also imposing.
"Even now, you're resisting my grasp... You're proving far more difficult to sway than others, even moreso than one of your own. You've left the gate to the other realm open, as a fleeting effort to allow Vincent to one day pass through. I am not blind to what you've been doing. I know that his will is linked to those of the Dusk Realm. I would've thought you'd figured it out when I imprisoned your time-traveling pet."
Dialga growls deeply at this, these very words almost pushing his boundries. But he is unable to do anything else. And the person utters a quiet scoff in response.
"This power is far beyond any of you, far beyond even your blessed overlord. Arceus himself has done nothing to intervine, and yet... Chaos wreaks havoc across these lands. You will succumb to my power. And the realms will fall before me, one by one..."
Dialga keeps his eyes locked on the individual, who takes a step back and then fades away into darkness. And without any further response, he turns his gaze across the Flare Continent and stares out across the sea almost intently... either threatening the balance of the world... or hoping to protect it somehow.
- - - - -
"That's it, just up ahead!"
In response to the man's voice, everyone on the front deck of the S. S. Tidal looks out to see a mass of land ahead of them, and many cheer at the idea that they have finally made it back to port after such a horrific experience aboard the ship.
Christina comes out of the hallway inside the ship to catch the first glimpse of Slateport straight ahead, realizing that they will be docking soon. And sure enough, the captain's voice is heard over the loudspeakers, announcing to everyone on the ship.
"Attention, passengers. We will be arriving at Slateport in five minutes. Those who have not been injured, I ask that you remain on board until everyone who has been has left. There will be transportation and emergency support waiting at the dock, ready to take those in need of medical help. The rest will be given notice to leave afterwards, and then there will be a crew coming to pick up those who've passed and their loved ones."
His voice seems to trail off at the end. It is clear that he is uncomfortable to have made such an announcement, and nothing further is heard over the loudspeaker.
Melissa and Raven step out and gaze around the deck. A helicopter can be seen parked a ways away from them, having come to deliver necessary medical supplies for people who wouldn't have made it to port otherwise.
Umbros manages to stagger out to meet them, seeing that they have finally arrived and staring out at the sight of land, almost as if having believed they would never make it. He looks up at Christina, who takes her necklace in her hand and holds it for a moment in thought. And he can tell what's going through her mind.
The Umbreon goes over to her slowly and nudges her leg with his nose, making her look down at him. He stares up at her with a look of concern, a gaze of compassion for a friend whom he'd grown to care for after being rescued by her just over a week earlier.
After a brief moment, she smiles a little at him. "I'll be okay, Umbros... It's just hard to really think about it."
She looks out at the port which is slowly drawing closer to them. "...It's January 13th... Today, Hector and I turn seventeen. And really... we've never celebrated our birthday apart... I don't even know whether he's alive or not, or where he could be."
Melissa looks over at her and hugs her tightly, and she sighs quietly. "Christina... I believe he's alive. Our brother's always made it through many things. Remember when he fell off his friend's hoverbike last year? He hurt his leg and couldn't walk for a week, and our parents swore he would never be allowed to ride it again..."
Christina makes a small smirk at this. "Yeah, but they got over it after a month. Still, Jack must've felt so bad about it... He kept calling, and it kind of annoyed mom to hear Hector's phone go off all the time. Especially at dinner."
Melissa giggles a bit and nods. "Yeah... I'm sure he's made it to land somewhere and is just fine. He might be just as worried about us as we are him..."
Christina looks down at her purple necklace in her hand, the teardrop-shaped stone reflecting the sun's light almost like a mirror.
"You know, Melissa... You've always been the more optimistic about things than I was. And just think, two years from now you'll be seventeen too... Sometimes I think you've grown up faster than I have."
She stares at her older sister for a moment and then shakes her head. "No, I've always looked up to you... And I probably always will."
Christina looks back at her, and then to her necklace again. "...Why don't we give a birthday wish to Hector that he'll be okay? And let Vincent know... we're okay too. He must be so worried."
She nods slowly and looks down at her own orange necklace, then takes it in her hand and grasps it. And Christina does the same. The two emit a powerful glow, radiating a calming energy around them, a mixture of the two colors. And suddenly, they notice a faint, yellow wave appear and combine with the other two. A sign... And the two sisters look at each other in surprise.
Melissa nods and smiles to her. "I told you..."
Raven looks between them, the two celebrating the older siblings' birthdays, but also the fact that they're here, and never really apart while they have the bond through their stone necklaces. Umbros, however, appears to have a look of longing. But he tries to hide it in favor of the two, allowing them this fleeting moment when their troubles seem almost nonexistent.
- - - - -
Vincent gazes down at his own necklace with a blink, seeing it radiating the three colors in almost a swirl of energy inside the stone. He looks over at Eriah, who is still flying across the ocean, going towards where they know would be the Hoenn region, though it is still a ways off. After a moment, he takes his necklace in his hand while the other holds onto the large, black dragon he's riding.
In response, the stone soon projects a wave similar to that of his siblings', but with the added mix of light blue. He knows now, all four of them are doing the same. And he can't help but feel closer to his siblings than ever... a reassuring notion that drives him to want to see them again. And soon, he is certain that he will...
He gazes across the sea that expands seemingly endlessly ahead of them, looking forward to reaching his next destination, Slateport.
- - - - -
"...So, they're forever bound by their family ties. Such a childish ideology... Vincent thinks he's found the perfect family. But bonds only go so far before they must be severed. Even he knows he can't hold onto them forever. A Messanger will always be cursed to lose all whom they love. I believe the time draws near for us to break their little bond for good..."
One... by one.
- - - - -
Umbros looks around at everyone as he settles down at a table with Christina, Melissa and Raven. They've arrived at Slateport a couple hours earlier and have gone to rest in the lobby of a hotel building near the port. It can be seen that a number of the ship's passengers have come here as well and rented out rooms to stay in.
But they're not here to stay. Instead, they've come to look at some guides telling various bits of information about places in Slateport, as well as other cities around the Hoenn region. They find general information on places such as the Oceanic Museum, the local battle tent, the Pokemon Fan Club and the Slateport Market.
Christina sits back in her chair and puts the pamphlet she's reading on the table. "Well there isn't much here to consider going to... If only Vincent were here to give us some leads. But then again I'm not sure even he would know..."
Umbros puts his forepaws up on the table and looks over the papers scattered around it, but finds none of them of any interest, and Christina looks at him with curiosity.
"Umbros... Can you read?"
The Umbreon nods slowly and looks at her. "I learned to read and talk while growing up in Black City... Many pokemon there have done the same. I guess you can say it's kind of the freak show of all cities."
Melissa folds her arms. "Well it can't be that bad. I've heard of a few pokemon who can talk."
Umbros then lays his head down on the table and sighs. "I kind of wish I were back there right now. I just turned fourteen too..."
Christina blinks and eyes him with a furrowed brow. "When was this? I never even knew..."
"Four days ago... It was January 9th."
She stares at him in bafflement. "You're kidding! You never said anything to us."
"It was a bad time to. Besides, today's your birthday, so I figure now you should focus on yours."
Christina sighs and shakes her head, leaning forward to pet Umbros' lightly. "That's wrong, Umbros... You only get so many birthdays in your lifetime. You should enjoy them while you can."
Melissa nods. "Christina's got something she wants to do for her birthday too, right?"
Christina blinks and stares at her younger sister, who just smiles back at her.
"Yeah, I knew you did." She reaches down to the table and picks up one of the papers, looking it over. "The Slateport Market is a lively place where a lot of people go not just to shop, but to put on their own performances for the crowds."
Christina sits back and looks at her, and Umbros looks between them curiously. "...What do you have in mind?"
"Well... I saw an ad about a store in town that rents out instruments. I know neither of us have our guitars from class. It would've been nice if we could've picked them up while we were in Saffron... But I think we could get a set from the store and play a bit while we're here."
Raven looks at Melissa for a moment, then at Christina. "I think it'd be fun. And hey, maybe Umbros can pound on some drums too."
Umbros stares at him and then lets out a small huff. "I don't do metal..."
Christina smiles a bit. "Come on, it's about having fun... I think it'd be good for us, with everything that's going on. We need a break."
Melissa nods and looks at Umbros. "Besides... I think it'd be cute to see an Umbreon jumping around, batting at a bunch of drums and cymbals."
Umbros lowers his ears and makes a pitiful whine, and Christina rolls her eyes, patting his head. "You don't have to... But it'd be nice to include you, if only to make it up for missing your birthday."
The Umbreon mumbles and looks up at her for a moment. "Fiiine..."
Melissa giggles a bit and looks at Raven. "You two can sing too. That's if you still have the voice for it."
Christina goes to sift through the papers. "You know I do..."
Umbros watches them and Melissa takes one of the pages, showing it to Christina and pointing at the ad for the local music store. She then sits back in her chair. "What should we call ourselves though..? We need a good name."
Christina looks at her for a moment, then examines the ad. "Oh geez, I don't even know..."
Raven folds his arms. "Something with shadow in it. It fits us."
Christina shifts her eyes to him and then stifles a small giggle. "Of course it does..."
He shrugs and grins. "Got a better idea then?"
After a moment, Christina puts the paper down and stares at the table in thought. And then, she utters a single word. "Shadowfang..."
Melissa blinks and looks back at her. "Shadowfang?"
She nods slowly. "If nothing better. I think it'll work." She looks at Raven, who nods back.
"Yeah, I like it."
Melissa looks at him, then back at Christina. "Well... I guess it'll work. Umbros?"
The Umbreon shrugs. "Might as well go with Umbra Sarcina and call it a day."
Christina stares at him. "Where'd that come from?"
He makes a small chuckle. "Nothing... I had this idea back home with a couple of friends. We have this group called Umbra Sarcina."
After a moment, she gets up and goes over to sit by Umbros. "You'll see them again. It'll just take some time."
The Umbreon sighs quietly and leans over to rub his nose in her side. "Thanks..."
She nods with a small smile and pets him, then looks at the others. "We should probably go to that store soon. It'll be night soon."
Melissa nods to her. "We should get something to eat too. I don't think we can play well on an empty stomach."
Umbros looks between them, and then lays his head against Christina, who puts her arm around him. He then closes his eyes and she looks down at him for a moment, stroking his back.
Raven looks at them and then glances at the papers on the table. "Whenever you're ready."
Christina nods and looks outside. It would be a while before they finally get up to leave, making their way first to a local restaurant to eat, before going to the store for the instruments.
By sunset, they would be ready to make their performance, when the market would be illuminated by the city lights. Though they would never notice the approaching black dragon who flies through the night sky, with their brother Vincent riding on her back... overlooking the seaside city with anticipation of seeing his siblings once again...
You know what song I've always wanted to play, Vincent?
Storm... It's so fitting, given everything that's going on. Don't you think?
That's a rather dim way to look at things.
I know... It's silly.
No, if that's what you want to play, then play it, Christina. Let the feelings out. I'll support you the whole way.
Right... I'll try. Thanks, Vincent.
- - - - -
Eriah flies over Slateport with Vincent in search of anything that draws his attention. He feels for some reason that his sisters and everyone else would stand out to him. He remembers distinctly that Christina had wanted to perform after they arrived, but despite what they just experienced, he hopes she sticks to the idea.
But so far, he finds nothing in particular. And it starts to bring his hopes down of finding them. Perhaps they're not even here? Perhaps they landed somewhere entirely different, and he may never find them.
He growls and shakes his head. He knows he shouldn't think such things, and he continues searching. He's looking over the various city lights, hoping any specific area would give him a hint. He remembers the market Christina spoke of. Supposedly it's to be found in the western part of the city, so he goes to look in that area. And as though by chance, as soon as he comes over a large, open area with numerous tents and makeshift buildings lit up by various different sources, he can hear the faint sound of electric guitars and drums in the distance. He follows the sound, and soon, amongst the instruments he can hear a familiar voice... singing over a loudspeaker.
He finally comes to the spot where he can see an entire setup of drums, guitars, amplifiers and speakers stationed around a raised, circular stage. It's as if they'd found the perfect spot to perform. And after their short break, he can see Christina, Melissa, Raven... and even Umbros taking the stage again and playing music. He finds it slightly amusing to see the Umbreon pounding in the drums in such a way with his four limbs. And in the background, the four dragons can be seen displaying various moves as special effects.
He watches on from the sky as they perform. It's almost as if they were naturals at this, playing various different types of music- though most of it seems to fit the metal genre, as it's been their preferred style for many years. And they appear to have drawn a rather sizable crowd as well.
Vincent finally taps Eriah and motions for her to land behind a building. They're using the performance to keep the crowd's attention away from them while they descend. Vincent feels as though he needs to show himself finally. And he's using this occasion to do it. For Christina's birthday... he will join them for one final performance before the end of their concert.
As Christina and the others are winding down after their final song, Vincent makes his way up onto the stage behind them. For now, no one can see him, and he starts by summoning his own instrument, the keyboard which he's used in many performances in the Spiritual Council.
Christina begins to bid her farewells to everyone, before suddenly, she is cut off by the echoing of a loud piano being played in a string of rising and lowering notes, as though it were broadcasted over the same speakers they've been playing over... which immediately grabs everyone's attention. The crowd looks around, unaware of where the sound is coming from, and then, as though knowing exactly what it is, Christina and the others turn back to see Vincent standing behind his set of glowing keys.
They all stare in shock at him, and he gives them a faint smile. Christina is wanting immediately to run over and hug him, but he gives a subtle wave of his hand and a nod to her. She then realizes what he's trying to do, and smiles with a small nod. She and the others turn back to the crowd and she steps forward to the microphone stand, taking a deep breath before speaking into it.
"It looks like we have one more song to play for you all. This one in particular is one I've wanted to do for some time, so I hope you like it!"
The crowd is heard murmuring in anticipation for what's coming next, and Christina looks at Raven with a nod. And soon, Vincent begins the song with a simple piano melody, followed by Christina's singing.
Can you see the storm coming closer now?
Tell me how it feels being out there.
Soon, the band breaks into a full play of Raven's bass guitar, Christina's electric guitar, Umbros' drums and even the occasional strum of Melissa's accoustic guitar to go along with the music.
Raven, as the secondary vocalist, approaches his own microphone and begins to sing, his voice being warped by a distorter built in it.
A moment's glimpse of his vignette,
As he shone the light on the falling wall.
Instant pictures of shattered persons,
Whenever he leaves there's a tainted mark.
The song goes on with Raven's continued singing, along with the play of the different instruments which takes the crowd's attention like a vice.
Flashbacks of his stark sleep filter out through smoke,
Revoking from past things less provoked.
Any which day, there is no relief,
Adhesive words, spoken silently...
The song cuts for a split second, and then with four powerful strikes of the drums, Raven finishes with, The shattered man.
And as though by a signal of the last strike, a field of darkness spreads from Umbros, covering the entire stage and releasing a gust of wind through the entire band which almost catches Vincent off guard. But as if planned, he continues to play with little hesitation, proceeding with the song.
Christina, after recollecting herself, proceeds with the main chorus, singing into her microphone over the sound of the guitars.
Can you see the storm getting closer now?
Tell me how it feels being out there.
I want to stay with you and I see clear now...
You're giving me no choice- let the rain pour down!
On the last note, Larisa releases a ball of mist into the sky, followed by Lasuno, who fires a brilliant beam of light at it and causes it to explode on contact. The combination of Mist Ball and Luster Purge actually creates a lingering effect of rain after the initial explosion, lasting several seconds as the song continues with Raven's singing.
He's holding for the moment of the fall,
Stolen knowledge by minds unformed.
Regulate the demolition of annexe for the differing thoughts,
Soon, Sierra begins to spread a mist into the sky, followed by a bolt of electricity from Aerthos, creating a contained display of an electric storm above the stage as Raven continues.
Discarded sparks left years ago,
Evoked a language much more austere.
Reverberating with figments,
He left a trace of translucence.
Both Larisa and Lasuno begin to use their psychic abilities to create distortions within the mist, causing various flashes and loud crackling while Christina repeats her chorus. And with the last line, they cause a contained explosion of electricity with the stormcloud which soon dissipates as Raven starts to finish the song.
There's a shattered man in a shattered land.
As Raven repeats the lines, the dark field begins to spin and create a tornado of sorts around them, nearly veiling them during the last part of the performance. Christina sings the chorus one final time, and then, she and the others take hold of their necklaces except for Raven and Umbros, who finish the song with a short instrumental. And with this, they all release a powerful pulse of light through the area which disperses the dark field and covers the entire area, giving a soothing feeling across the crowd with the echoing of Raven's last strum of his guitar... a true finish to their concert, and with a bang at that.
After the performance dies down, the crowd makes a cheer much louder than any earlier, which shakes Christina, catching her with great surprise. She'd never expected to get such a reaction, and it almost brings her to tears. Vincent, whose keys have faded away now, walks over to her and gives her a hug from behind, comforting her. And now, she can't help but start to cry. This is better than anything she could've asked for, and through her shaken voice, she says, "Thank you, Vincent... Thank you..."
The crowd continues to cheer and soon, Raven takes over and bids them farewell after the end of the concert. He then looks at Vincent and Christina and can't help but feel happy for the siblings. And after everything has finally settled down and everyone has left, they all begin to pack the equipment to leave.
Soon, a few men come onto the stage and call them out, and they look at them curiously. Christina, recognizing them, is the first to speak up. "Aren't you the guys from the shop we got these from...?"
They nod and one of them responds, "Yeah, we heard you wanted to do a big performance. And we couldn't miss something like that from a group of dedicated musicians, so we decided to come see it for ourselves after we closed up shop. I gotta say you were just amazing, especially with that last song. I never expected you to play Storm, of all things!"
A small blush is seen on Christina's face as she smiles a bit. "Yeah... It's something I wanted to play for a while. My brother happened to come at the right time to finish with it..."
The man looks at Vincent and takes a step closer. "That was some trick you did there. How'd you make that keyboard come out of nowhere?"
Vincent blinks and shifts a bit. "It's... complicated. I can't really tell you."
The man folds his arms. "You some sort of magician too or something?"
"Uhh... Sort of. Like I said, it's complicated. I'd rather not go into it."
Another person pipes in. "Well, whatever it was, it was great. I can't wait to see more."
Christina looks at him with a blink. "What... You mean..."
The first responds, "Yeah, whenever you want to play, just stop by the shop and grab some instruments. It's on the house. And I'll see if I can't get a spot open for even a real concert stage around here if you really want."
Christina looks at the others, who smile at her and then she looks back at the men. "Thanks! That's great!"
They nod and the first man waves the others over. "Hey guys, let's help them pack up."
They all continue to pack, and after taking the equipment back to the shop, Christina and the others say goodbye to the workers and leave.
It is now late at night and they come to a park, sitting down around a table to rest a while. Christina lets out a deep breath. "Wow... What a night..."
Vincent looks at her with a smile. "Did you enjoy it?"
"Of course! I loved it!"
He makes a small chuckle. "I'm glad you did... Happy birthday, Christina."
She smiles a bit and nods slowly. "Thanks, Vincent... I'm glad you're here. And you should tell Umbros too. His was a few days ago."
He blinks and looks at the Umbreon, who fidgets on the table a bit, and he utters a small scoff. "Happy birthday to you too then."
Umbros' ears lower somewhat and he nods to him. "Thanks..."
After a while, Christina begins to get a concerned look and she speaks up again. "Hey... What happened, Vincent? Can you tell us?"
Vincent looks at her with a furrowed brow, and then realizes what she means and sighs lightly.
"...After I got to the northern Flare Continent, where Dialga is, I found someone else there... I'm pretty sure it's the person manipulating him. But it really struck me hard, because we... the Spiritual Council... have been in a conflict with this person for some time. He's definitely not to be taken lightly. I only really heard his name once, as they'd just recently discovered it before I came on my task. But I just can't remember what it was..."
Christina looks down. "Well that's unsettling... So there's someone other than James out there to stop you?"
Vincent folds his arms on the table. "It seems so... But this is different. James and I fought a few of his people back when he first came to visit us in Pallet. It was in the Western Forest. And if they're here, that means this task just got a lot more dangerous. I don't know if I can risk having you get in that sort of danger..."
Christina looks back at him and then immediately pipes up with a sound of irritation. "You know that's not an option, Vincent. We said we'd come with you and that's that. So don't try and squeeze your way out of this now, just because it's suddenly too risky."
Vincent eyes her for a moment, then sighs. "Right... But for now, I think I will need to do this alone. There's something I need to find out, and it's best if I go by myself. Too many people will just make it harder to travel, and it's best if we split up for the time being to keep searching."
Christina stares at him with a look of exhaustion and shakes her head. "...Fine... But I want you to tell us as soon as you find something. We're going at this together. And I'll smack you if you don't, alright?"
He slowly nods. "I just need to return to Orre... I need to know something that happened there. I think retracing my steps will lead to some clues as to what happened to James, and how I can get him back. If I can find something there, maybe then he'll be able to help us again."
She looks at him with confusion. "But... He was sent on a task too, right?"
"Technically, that task was succeeded, with the help of an acquaintence of ours by the name of Lucas. If James weren't captured before then, yes, he would have returned to the Spiritual World. But I have the feeling something even greater is happening with him than I've already seen. But as a Messanger, he's not even supposed to be here now. Eventually that will come back on him. And I fear what may happen when it does..."
Christina nods slowly. "But how will you get there?"
"I have an ally..." Vincent looks up at the sky, and soon, Eriah can be seen flying down to them and landing by the table, looking at him, and then the others. And immediately, everyone backs off, as if afraid of her. But she eyes them with little movement, seeming to be used to this sort of reaction by now.
Vincent looks back at them. "She won't bite. She's perfectly tame..."
Eriah snorts at him and he smiles a little. "...As tame as she can be, that is. She's the one who helped me get away from Dialga. Her name's Eriah..."
Christina stares back at her and she eyes her back calmly. She then slowly nods and goes back to sit down at the table again. "Alright then..."
Vincent nods to Eriah. "She'll be going with me from now on. At least until my task finishes. She has ties to Dialga... So I know we'll need her if we're going to have a chance at this task."
Raven looks at Vincent and then at Eriah. "Some dragon..."
Eriah snorts again, this time puffing a blue smoke at Raven from her nose, which makes him cough and back off. "That wasn't an insult!"
Vincent shakes his head and lightly pats her muzzle with his hand. "She's... not like many we know. Don't take her lightly either."
Christina slowly nods, and he looks back at her. "We'll have to leave tomorrow. But let me know you're okay with your stone, okay?"
She nods back to him and smiles lightly. "Alright... You be careful too."
He looks back at the black dragon. "We'll sleep in the outskirts of the city for tonight. You should stay hidden until tomorrow. I don't want you to draw any unwanted attention from others."
She stares at him for a moment, before speaking in response, her calm voice catching the attention of the others. "Let me know when you're ready."
He nods and pats her lightly, and she then steps back, flapping her wings and taking off into the sky. He then looks back at the others. "Shall we then?"
Christina nods and they all get up, making their way just to the north end of the city, where they set up a simple camp and prepare to go to sleep. By the next day, they would be ready to continue their journey. Except this time, Vincent is looking for answers... And he won't stop until he finds them.
- - - - -
"...Let me go... Please..."
"But Serenity, we've only just begun. You haven't even experienced the full dose of shadow..."
"It hurts... No more...!"
A click of a button can be heard, and a machine starts running again, followed by a female's loud shriek which can be heard outside a massive, pyramid-shaped facility. And in response, Lucas descends down on his Salamence, looking inside with a low growl. He pats the dragon pokemon, telling him to wait outside, before running in, past a pair of guards which appear to have been put into a hypnotic state and don't notice him pass. The Salamence stares at them with a sort of glare, as if ready to attack them should they do anything suspicious...
Be careful, Vincent... okay? And whatever you do, you're not alone.
I'll see you soon.
- - - - -
It's been several hours since Vincent left Christina, Melissa, Raven and Umbros in Slateport. He'd found them at last, and confirmed of their safety. But he knows that for what he must do next, they cannot come... Not just yet. He needs to travel to the deserts of Orre to find out what truly became of James. But he knows not what he would come across. He just hopes whatever it is doesn't turn out to be something more than he can handle.
As he and Eriah finally reach land, they gaze upon the familiar sight of a port... One which Vincent had previously come to with Larisa, James and Lou, when they traveled here to take on the Peace Task. But they're not stopping just yet. They continue on past Gateon Port and into the desert which lies beyond. This time, rather than going north to Agate, they're cutting across the river and going directly south, towards the town of Pyrite and the canyon which surrounds it.
It's been about a month since he's been here, and the memories of traveling these lands with James are still vivid in his mind. He remembers coming to the rogue town of Pyrite to retrieve information on the countries of Chora and Nero. And then, things went straight downhill from there. When both countries invaded and attacked, it was then that James turned.
Once they come over the canyon, Vincent has Eriah stop and land. She remembers this distinctively to be the place where she found them before, and so she lowers to the ground. Vincent jumps off her just before she lands, and staggers a bit to regain his balance, before running over to the side of a cliff. He looks around, as if seeing traces of what happened before, even though nothing could be distinctively recognized of the event which unfolded here.
We're Messangers, Vincent. It's how it works. If you keep going on, it's going to destroy you.
He remains silent, examining the area, before running a ways off, Eriah keeping a close watch on him from where she is.
After we left Pyrite, something came over me. The reason I stopped was that I was actually feeling really angry.
"And yet you brought up emotional sentiment..."
Eriah motions a bit as he suddenly speaks in a low tone. She continues to watch him as he places his hand on the cliffside. He can very vaguely see a mark in the rock where Lou had impacted the cliff after James' killing curse. The green flash can still be seen, playing over and over again in his mind. For some reason, this in particular comes to his attention.
"It can't be just a coincidence... There's always some connection..."
You remember, right? How I lived within you, and used you as a puppet, long before you were inducted into that Council of yours?
He turns back from the wall, watching on as the memory plays as though it were happening again, right in front of him.
Here's a lesson for you, James... You cannot protect against yourself. And no matter what you do, I will be here every step of the way. You created me. And I will forever be your living hell...
A flash of black crosses Vincent's eyes, and he remembers this to be James' turning point.
It burns you so much, doesn't it? How a cruel fate could befall just one person, forced to bear witness to the destruction of everything around him.
He growls lightly, but tries to remain calm. Much of what happened here before caused him so much pain. The words that came from James after he was taken over... And it tortures him to admit every bit of it to be true. But furthermore, he realizes what comes next to be a key point...
Heh... Can't do it?
After a short pause, he finally utters again, as if speaking for James, "Emotional sentiment..."
Eriah moves towards him slowly, and he looks up at her, a somewhat distant expression is evident on his face as she stares down at him.
He takes a quiet breath and leans back against the cliff. "James once told me a bit about his past... It was while we were in the Spiritual World, sometime after we met. I remember we became friends some time before I set out on my last task. He was there when I didn't know any better... For some reason, I just can't remember much of anything before that point. Everything was just... cut off. But he was there to comfort me, to be my friend when few others were."
The black dragon motions down to him as he continues.
"What he told me, was that he lived much of his life before as a fugitive... I'm not sure, exactly, what happened. But something caused him to break, back then. He was never really himself. And because of it, he had unintentionally developed another side of himself... a dark side, you could say. One which he feared but could never get away from. It drove him to commit numerous atrocities... Murder, theft... But then when he'd come to his senses, he'd wished none of it had ever happened. And so, to cast off this darkness within himself and end it all..."
He falls silent, but Eriah understands what was to come. "...He took his own life... didn't he?"
He slowly nods. "Out of regret... It was after that, that the Spiritual Council came to him. They gave him a chance to fix it all. And it was a chance he couldn't turn down."
Eriah makes a small snort in response. "But this dark side survived."
Vincent sighs quietly. "It seems it was powerful enough to hold on even after James had passed... James spoke of it as some kind of emotional sentiment. That's what he always referred to it as, but I didn't quite understand why. I suppose it has something to do with his past."
He takes a few steps, looking down in thought. "But... what I don't understand is, why has it developed in such a way to come back like this? It's as if it had its own physical form. And a green light..."
Eriah stares at him as he shakes his head.
"Magic tainted by Chaos... But there is only a handful of people in existence which have that quality... They've opposed the Spiritual Council for some time, but we've never had much to go on as a means to stop them."
"You believe James' darkness could have been found by them?"
Vincent nods slowly. "It's possible... I don't see much of an explanation otherwise..."
After a moment, he looks back up at the dragon. "What became of Chora and Nero? It was Lucas who stopped them, right?"
She nods in response. "Lucas was able to talk sense into them. I hear he has knowledge on these things involving them and the lore they hold."
Vincent makes a small chuckle at this and shakes his head. "He was always a bookworm in the Council... Every day, when he wasn't busy, he was sitting in the library or at the chapel with a book in his hands... reading as if his very soul depended on it. I sort of envy him. He showed more discipline than many of us ever could."
Eriah smiles faintly and moves down to nudge him with her snout. "You'll find him, eventually."
He nods a bit and pats her. "He was sent out on the Spacial Task... while mine was the Temporal Task. They're connected in many ways because of that. So I know I'll have to find him sometime. I just wish he wasn't always wandering around like I am. Maybe then I could actually come across him and talk to him."
After a while of looking around the area, Vincent finally goes back to Eriah. "...I think we should go. There isn't much else here that'll help us."
She nods and lowers down so that he can climb up onto her back. She then spreads her wings and takes off into the sky again, flying towards the northeast across the desert region.
After a while of flying, Vincent begins to hear a faint sound... almost as if someone were crying. He blinks and looks at Eriah, who appears to be flying normally like nothing's happening. He looks ahead for a moment, getting a glimpse of a large, pyramid-shaped structure standing in the distance... a great, metallic building standing above a platform over a lake of tainted water.
Soon, he catches the sight of a few figures running from the building. As he gazes down to get a better view, what he sees immediately sets his nerves on end. He taps Eriah, who is also looking over the scene, and she immediately flies down towards them, letting out a roar to alert three black-cloaked individuals of their presence.
Vincent jumps down from the dragon's back, landing in-between the three and what appears to be a white Ninetales who was running from them. The pokemon seems to be very weak, and staggers when he cuts her assailants off.
At the sight of him, the three stop in their tracks, staring at him with hoods covering their heads. They then cast black swords at the ready, and in response he summons his own sword to fight them off.
After a moment, the three run in to attack in a gang assault. And Vincent holds his sword in front of himself, before slashing it out and releasing a blade of energy to stop them. He then draws back, then in a silvery burst of energy he seems almost to disappear as he rushes to one of them, striking him in the side, and then turning around to slash the one next to him. Doing a fair bit of damage, the two stagger. But the third manages to catch Vincent off guard and slash at him, the attack barely being parried by his sword. But it causes him to fall backwards quickly afterwards, the person running over for another attack.
He is stopped, however, by a blast of blue flame seeming to have come out of nowhere. They all look back to see the Ninetales they were chasing standing in a fighting stance, appearing to be very angry. But something doesn't seem right about the fox pokemon... It's as if something is troubling her from within, causing her to struggle for control over her own body.
The three cloaked people soon decide to draw back, and begin to fade into black clouds. But they are unexpectedly halted when several strands of dark purple energy are flung from the Ninetales, wrapping around them in a tight bind and keeping them from escaping. Immediately afterwards, the pokemon opens her mouth and fires off another powerful blast of brilliant, blue fire, combined with the distinct dark purple energy. Vincent quickly jumps out of the way before the inferno engulfs the three, causing them to release shrilled shouts before the hold on them fades away. A black cloud can be seen before the flames disperse, and the three are gone.
The Ninetales isn't finished yet, and with a loud cry of anger, her tails spread out and she releases several waves of uncontrolled energy from her body. Almost as if on instinct, Vincent rushes over to the pokemon, shouting for her to stop and grabbing her around her torso.
As though responding to his call, the fox pokemon appears to quickly calm down and her tails drop, before she falls into his hold weakly. After the tension seems to die down, he looks down at the Ninetales covered in a beautiful coat of soft, white fur, who makes a small whimper, now showing no strength to stand and is lying limp in his grasp. Each of her nine tails appear to have a blue tint at their tips, as they lie on the ground behind her.
He soon sighs and strokes her neck as Eriah flies down and lands next to them, looking down at the Ninetales.
Vincent soon looks back up at the black dragon. "...She was showing clear signs of being influenced by Shadow. I thought this facility was shut down when Cipher was eliminated, but apparently it's still around..."
She shakes her head and looks back at the building, seeing two people standing outside it but looking as though they're in some sort of trance. A Salamence is lying on the ground in front of them, seeming to have been attacked by the three who were chasing the Ninetales. But it appears to regain its consciousness soon enough and looks around with a light growl.
"...Perhaps it wasn't Cipher who imprisoned her, but these people instead."
Vincent looks back down at the Ninetales and continues to pet her, before hearing the shouts of the two people guarding the entrance, apparently having broken from their trance finally but then being stopped by the Salamence, who growls at them defensively. He looks at the dragon pokemon for a moment, before turning his gaze back to Eriah.
"We need to go... I don't know what happened here, but if we don't do something soon, she'll lose herself to Shadow. We must take her to Agate... There's a relic there that can be used to help her."
Eriah turns back to him, and then nods in agreement and lowers down to him. "Be careful with her..."
He nods slowly and then lifts the fox pokemon up onto her back, before climbing up himself. The pokemon, having passed out now, lies motionlessly on Eriah's back and Vincent holds onto her gently to keep her from falling off. He then looks back at the Salamence standing in front of the guards, who are glaring at them, not daring to make a move out of fear of being attacked. He then pats Eriah lightly and they take off into the sky again, now flying towards the west.
As they cross the desert and approach the forest area in the northwestern part of the region, Vincent keeps his watch on the Ninetales, intent on helping her any way he can... And once they reach the Relic Forest of Agate, he hopes to be able to do so...
"You know, I really gotta thank you, Jack. If you hadn't come to pick me up, I may have drowned out there."
Jack grunts and continues working on one of his machines. And Hector, who is wrapped up in a blanket, comes over to his side, nudging him with his foot.
"Hey, what's been going on with you? I mean... I know what's going on, with your brother and all, but Vincent's trying to get him back."
"I've told you I'm fine, Hector. You should be more concerned with getting better so you can get back to your siblings."
Hector folds his arms. "You just want me out of your hair. You know, you say you're fine and all, but I know you're full of it. Come on, man, talk to me. You helped me, so the least I can do is stick around for you a while."
Jack gets up and tosses his screwdriver on the nearby table, then grabs a towel and wipes his hands off with it, before throwing it at Hector.
"Look. I know you're convinced that your brother'll go and rescue James, save the world, Hell, even make things right for all I care. But I'm really not concerned about him, alright? I told you, the less I have to deal with this Messanger crap, the better. So let's just drop it."
Hector shakes his head as he walks past him. "You can't just run away... We were all dragged into this, Jack. You, me, my sisters. Everyone was brought into this."
"And I'm walking out of it because I have no further part in it. Now I'm going to get something to eat. Don't break something."
Hector squints as he walks off. "Break someth-... Why would I do that!? You know me better!"
Jack waves him off and goes into another room, and Hector sighs. "Whatever... At least you know me better, right, ATHER?"
The voice chimes in over the speakers, "I believe this would be a state of denial. A human conflict which subjects one to go against reasoning in any subject relating to the central concern."
"...You're very literal. If I were programming you, you'd be a little more fun to talk to."
"My apologies, sir. With limited resources, I-"
"Yeah, yeah, whatever." Hector rolls his eyes and goes to sit down at a desk, rubbing his eyes and starting to idly browse through things on the computer, hoping to do something to make his time here worthwhile.
- - - - -
"There. That's where we need to go, Eriah."
After gazing down to the village situated on a small cliff within the forest area which shows a vast difference from the rest of the Orre region, Eriah flies down towards what appears to be the entrance of a small cavern within the village.
As they land, several people from the village are watching them suspiciously from all over, mostly wary of the large black dragon they've never seen before.
Vincent brings the Ninetales down carefully, before looking into the cavern. He sighs, trying to figure out how to carry the fox pokemon without hurting her, but his thoughts are interrupted by a small whine coming from her. He looks down at her, noticing that she is starting to wake up.
As the white fox pokemon shifts in his hold, she first appears disoriented. But when she begins to open her eyes, she grows scared... afraid of her surroundings- afraid of where she could possibly be- afraid of the person holding her. Immediately, the Ninetales struggles weakly, attempting to get away from Vincent, who loosens his grip on her but tries to keep her still as much as he can. He calls to her in a calm voice, but she doesn't respond. Instead, she fires a blue stream of flames with a cry.
Eriah, seeing this, quickly shifts to the side to avoid being struck. Meanwhile, Vincent is trying his best to calm the pokemon, but his efforts are in vain. The Ninetales tenses up and releases a burst of purple energy from her body, causing Vincent to grunt loudly in pain. But he keeps his hold on her, shouting out, "Ninetales, stop!"
Finally, in response to his voice, the pokemon comes to her senses and draws back from him. She lifts her head to face him, staring at him with almost a look of surprise. But as he stares into her deep, blue eyes, he can see all the fear, all the uncertainty and tension... all the pain that she is in. He pants, having been weakened from the uncontrolled outburst. And soon, he loosens his grip on her, letting her go.
The Ninetales pulls away from him almost immediately and lowers her head, almost as if feeling guilty for having attacked him. Her eyes shut tightly and she releases a soft whimper. Vincent then moves his hand over her and lightly strokes her neck reassuringly. He speaks quietly to her, "It's okay... I understand what you're going through... I want to help you..."
Soon, the pokemon begins to show signs of comfort, and opens her eyes to look at him again. He gives her a faint smile, before turning to look around at the people watching them. Atop a cliff, he sees an elderly man with long white hair and a white beard, dressed in purple and tan robes. Eyeing him for a moment, the man soon nods to him and he then turns to look into the cavern ahead of them.
"Let's go, Ninetales... Once we get through this tunnel, I can make you better."
The white fox pokemon turns her gaze towards the cavern, staring into it with a bit of nervousness. Vincent lightly pets her head and then places his hand on her side. "Trust me... It will be okay."
She looks back at him for a moment, before he eases her to standing. He looks up at Eriah, who nods to him and moves aside. He then starts off towards the cavern, slowly, being sure not to rush the Ninetales in and wanting her to go at her own pace.
As they come to enter the cavern, they can see an abundance of growth inside. Various plants are sprouted from the ground, the walls and even dangling off the ceiling. The sounds of running water can be heard as they pass by a small, pure river flowing through the cavern. The path through the cavern is short, but they take their time passing through. The pokemon appears to be growing slightly more trusting towards Vincent as they walk, occasionally taking a step ahead of him but then slowing down to his pace again. He gazes down at her with a comforting look, and she can't help but grow a slight smile through her still tense expressions.
Outside, some of the village residents are approaching the cavern, eyeing Eriah warily, but she merely watches them unmoving, letting the few who go to enter the cavern proceed. Vincent and the Ninetales soon approach the other side of the cavern, seeing rays of light softly shining in from a small clearing in the middle of the thick forest.
They come out to find themselves on a stone path now, approaching a small pillar of sorts. As they come near it, Vincent looks around for a moment, then takes a few slow steps closer to it. Almost as if responding to him, the pillar can be seen glowing with a calm, green light. He places his hand on it, examining it for a moment, and then taking a deep breath. He then turns back to the Ninetales, who is staring at him with growing curiosity, but also suspicion about his apparent delay.
He walks over to her and kneels down in front of her, stroking her head slowly. "...Are you ready?"
The fox pokemon makes a small sound in response. One that, while nervous, tells that she trusts him. He then looks back towards the cavern, watching as the elderly man from earlier walks out. The Ninetales peers back at him, becoming somewhat more tense, but Vincent's continued petting assures her that she will be okay. He nods to the man, and he reaches into his robe, pulling out a rather old-looking wooden flute. After a short moment, he plays a short, rising tune, which echoes throughout the surrounding forest as if the trees themselves were sounding in sync with the flute.
A soft wind blows through the forest, rustling all the trees and plants in the area. Vincent gazes around the area while still kneeled to the Ninetales. But eventually, a daunting feeling falls over him as he realizes... the one he was hoping to find here is, in fact, longer be in this realm. He looks back at the pillar, which appears to glow a bit brighter, and then he closes his eyes.
Soon, a surge shoots through him, making him grunt lightly and the Ninetales eyes him, a bit concerned now. But he keeps his focus as he hears a faint voice... almost as if echoing in the forest among the wind blowing past them. A familiar female's voice speaking to him, in his mind.
You came again...
Vincent holds onto the Ninetales as tension builds up inside him.
I don't have long, Vincent... This is all I can do for you. I wish I could do more in return for you helping me, but-
It's okay, Celebi... You're helping someone in need. It's more than anything I could ask for.
...Thank you, Vincent. Hearing from you makes being in this forsaken place a little less unbearable...
I'll get you back here, any way I can. Just try to hang on a while longer.
Vincent sighs softly, feeling almost as if he weren't entirely telling the truth. But he's determined to do what he can to keep his word. Eventually, he begins to feel a power welling up inside him and he opens his eyes, looking back at the Ninetales.
Releasing her again, he then holds out his hand to her and she looks at it curiously. He nods to her slowly and she then places her forepaw in it, staring up at him. He puts his other hand over it and clasps it lightly, and then, she can feel an unusual energy flowing into her from him. She blinks, a bit startled from it, but notices that it makes her feel rather... calm.
The elderly man lowers his flute and watches them curiously, having not expected to see Vincent himself performing the purification. He folds his arms but says nothing as waves of energy flow from Vincent into the fox pokemon. The stone pillar begins to shine brightly and Vincent grasps her paw a little firmer, feeling somewhat drained as if he were giving her his own energy. But he keeps on, not stopping until he's expelled all the Shadow within her. She watches him, becoming a bit worried at his signs of weakness, and then she leans in to nudge his hand lightly with her nose.
Vincent smiles to her and soon, the Ninetales shuts her eyes tightly, tensing up a bit before letting out a yelp as waves of purple energy are released from her body with powerful force. Vincent jerks back a bit but holds onto her paw persistently as her Shadow energy blows past him. And eventually, she settles down as the last of it leaves her body and dissipates into the air. A high pitched screech can be heard, and Vincent winces from the sound of it, before the wind finally dies down and the stone pillar fades back to its dormant state.
Vincent keeps his grip on the Ninetales' paw, shuddering a bit and she slowly opens her eyes to look at him. Soon, she nudges his hand again with her nose and he finally lets her go, dropping both hands to the ground and panting heavily.
The white fox pokemon makes a small whimper and he looks at her, somewhat delusional but slowly regaining his composure. "...I'm okay, Ninetales..."
She lets out a soft and long whine and then buries her muzzle under his arm, and he can't help but smile a little, and just pets her comfortingly. He then looks back at the man, who steps over to them, and he sighs.
"I suppose you have questions... don't you?"
The man puts his flute back into his robes and then folds his arms, speaking in a scruff voice. "A few... But something tells me it may be better if I didn't ask."
Vincent shakes his head. "It's a long story... And it's one I'm not sure I have the time to really tell."
The man nods slowly. "Very well, then... As unexpected as it was to see a Shadow pokemon in these parts after so long, I suppose it's best to put my efforts into seeing that it doesn't happen again. I will contact the authorities and see if we can't get the Cipher Key Lair permanently shut down. Perhaps now they'll see reason to do so."
Vincent sighs and then looks at the Ninetales. "I'm sorry that you had to go through this..."
She blinks a few times and looks back at him, before nudging his chin with her nose, and he makes a quiet chuckle. "I suppose we don't have to worry about it happening again..."
The man takes a step back and Vincent looks up at him. "Thank you, umm..."
"Eagun, if you will. The elder of this village."
He nods in response. "Thank you, Eagun."
Eagun then turns off and walks back to the cavern, and Vincent looks back at the Ninetales.
"I think it's best we left too..."
She nods slowly and he soon brings himself to his feet. They then start off towards the cavern. As they pass through it, Eriah can be seen lying down outside, waiting for them. She lifts her head and Vincent smiles to her, giving a small pat on her snout.
"We did it... She's okay now."
The black dragon nods and looks at the Ninetales, who backs up and moves behind Vincent. He looks back at her and kneels down to her, patting her head. "It's okay... She wouldn't hurt a Butterfree."
The fox pokemon eyes her, and she simply stares back calmly. Vincent looks back at Eriah, then at the Ninetales again. "I never properly introduced myself, have I...? My name is Vincent Verona."
She blinks and lightly nudges his side with her nose, staring at him with a small sound. And he can't help but chuckle a little. "I'm sorry for the play... I've been able to understand you for some time. Though you've never really said much before."
The Ninetales furrows her eyes and then backs up, looking away with a rather embarrassed expression. He smiles a little in response and pets her softly. "It's okay... What's your name?"
She turns her gaze back to him, and soon and speaks in a way he, out of few in the world, can fully understand, as well as Eriah. To them, her voice is very soft and quiet. "...Serenity."
Vincent nods slowly to her and puts his arm on his knee. "Serenity... That's a very nice name. And... very fitting for someone like you."
Serenity blinks a few times and then smiles a bit sheepishly. "...Thanks..." She then fidgets her paw in the grass and he reaches over to rub one of her ears.
"You seem really nice. I can already tell you have a good heart. I can't imagine why those people would come after you, of all others..."
She sighs and makes a low sound. "I can normally fight for myself... But there were so many of them, and I just couldn't do anything..."
Vincent shakes his head and looks up at Eriah, who eyes him almost intently. "She is unique, isn't she? I don't think we should leave her here... If they attacked her once, they may come back to do it again."
The black dragon slowly nods in agreement, and he looks back to Serenity. "Hey... If there's anything I can do for you, tell me. I won't let those people come after you again, alright, Serenity?"
She lowers her ears and nods slightly. The fox pokemon mumbles a bit and then looks up at him. "Where will you go?"
Vincent sighs softly and shakes his head. "Now... I'm not sure. But wherever I go, I'll have to fly."
Serenity blinks and looks up at Eriah, rather hesitant. "...Fly..."
"You've never flown before, I suspect..."
She shakes her head. "No... I've done it before. It's just... been some time. Are you sure it's safe? She doesn't look that secure."
Eriah snorts roughly and Vincent blinks, looking back up at her. For one of the rare moments, she actually appears to be mildly irritated, something he's not had the misfortune to see from her since they met. He then looks back down at Serenity and pets her head. "I... assure you you'll be fine. I'll hold onto you if it makes you feel any safer."
The Ninetales looks down a bit. "...Just don't fall off..."
He smiles a little. "Don't worry... I'll make sure we're both just fine." He then looks up at the black dragon, who narrows her eyes in slight defiance, and he sighs a little. "Right... Let's go, then."
Eriah lowers down and he climbs up onto her back, then looks back down at Serenity. He reaches his arm out to her and after a moment's hesitation, she puts her paw in it and he pulls her up onto the dragon's back with him. He then puts his arm around her while keeping his other hand on Eriah for support. After the fox pokemon has given him a small nod, he taps Eriah and she then lifts up, slowly ascending into the sky and taking off. Where they're going is uncertain, but Vincent intends to explore the region a bit more before leaving. This time, his concerns are for Serenity, who seems to have grown attached to him after having been helped in such a way, as well as James, who he keeps his hopes on being able to rescue from darkness...
- - - - -
A day has passed, and the sun is beginning to rise over the horizon. Jack is working on one of his computers in the factory, having stayed awake the entire night and is looking increasingly stressed as the hours go by. He eventually stops his work and shuts off the monitor, leaning back in his chair with a deep, weary sigh.
But as he looks back into the monitor, he can see a faint reflection of himself... and behind him, standing with a taunting smirk, is James. He clenches his fist, having seen him many times now without any physical sign of him actually being there. It's at this time he believes he's merely hallucinating due to stress and lack of sleep over the past several days.
He growls at the reflection, before punching the monitor and shattering the screen, as well as knocking it off the desk. He then puts his arms over the table and buries his face in his hands with an irritable sigh.
After a moment, he looks over through the window of the other room, seeing Hector still asleep on the couch and eyeing him for a while. He then speaks up in a low tone, almost as if resenting what he is saying at this point.
"...ATHER. I need you to send a message to Vincent for me."
"William? I need to speak to you. A matter has come up, involving James. I can't come to anyone else about this."
"...Right. I will be there momentarily."
- - - - -
"Hector. Come here, please."
Hector turns from the computer monitor to look at Jack, who is walking out of the other room, holding something in his hand. He eyes him curiously, before getting up to walk over to him. Jack appears to be tense and exhausted, but is looking at him with a serious and stern expression.
"...Hey, man. You should really get some sleep. You're-"
Jack shakes his head. "I'll be fine, Hector... I need to give you something."
Hector folds his arms, staring at Jack with a concerned look, and he holds out an electronic stick to him. Hector furrows his brows and looks at it for a moment before taking it.
"It contains personal files and access to all my credentials, including the master pass to ATHER's data files and my savings account. I intended to give these to James before all this happened, but seeing as how things are how they are, I figure you're the better person to take it."
Hector looks back at Jack in disbelief at what he's saying.
"...ATHER is uploaded to a secure server stored in the technological city of LaRousse in the Hoenn region. With that, you can gain complete control over it and use it, modify it to your own preference. ATHER belongs to you now, as well as all of my belongings at my home in Cianwood. I hope you'll find better use for them than I could've."
Hector lowers his arm and stares at him, getting a sinking feeling within him. "Why are you doing this..?"
Jack sighs and walks past him, rubbing his forehead with his hand. "Look, Hector... There's something I need to do. I may or may not survive it to see what success you make of this, but it's something I've been holding off for a while."
Hector turns back to him as he looks up at the ceiling.
"...You were right. I can't avoid this. This hellish burden is mine to bear, whether I like it or not. My brother told me once what he was like before. How he was overcome by something so cruel, it drove him to killing countless in cold blood. It disgusted him, so he stepped up and did something about it."
Jack folds his arms and looks down at the ground for a moment.
"He accepted what needed to be done, even though it took his life. He didn't run from his fate. Now, I look like a coward, sitting here in denial. Not shedding the slightest care for what's been happening right in front of me all this time. The things that happened last month set me back. I didn't want to accept it. I kept telling myself it wasn't real. And all the while, James has been out there, being tormented by this emotional sentiment. I have to do something about it."
Hector stares at him for a while, and then walks over to his side, putting his hand on his shoulder. "Hey... If you do happen to make it out of this, you can always come find me. I won't abandon you, alright?"
Jack closes his eyes and makes a small scoff. "You're a great friend. I've been such a prick to you. I just hope you'll make it alright."
Hector looks at the stick for a moment, then puts it in his pocket. "I'll make ATHER into something amazing. Just you wait."
Jack smiles a bit and turns back to Hector, patting his shoulder and then walking off. "The hoverbike's outside. Try to make it back to land in one piece."
Hector blinks and looks back at him with a grumble. "Always assuming the worst..."
Jack smirks and looks back at him. "Well... You'll be alright. I'll see you around, Hector."
He nods slowly and steps back. "You'd better. I'll find you and smack you if you don't."
Jack scoffs and walks away, and Hector watches him for a second, before turning off and walking out of the factory. As the door shuts behind him, Jack stops and looks down with a deep sigh. Many thoughts run through his head at what's to come, and it only makes him more tense at the idea of confronting his fate.
- - - - -
Vincent overlooks the desert as he flies along on Eriah's back, while holding onto Serenity to keep her from falling. It's clear that the Ninetales has grown more comfortable around him over the past couple days they've been traveling, which makes Vincent feel a little happy about his new friend.
As they fly, Vincent is intently scanning the area for anything that might appear off to him. Any signs of something that shouldn't be there. But after a while, he begins to wonder if he'll find anything at all. It is then that he feels his phone in his pocket vibrate. He blinks, becoming curious suddenly as he taps Eriah's back for her to land.
The black dragon glances back at him and then descends into the desert below to land in the open area. Vincent releases Serenity and jumps down before reaching into his pocket to pull out his phone.
"Sorry... It's just that I never get any messages from anyone. If I'm getting one now, something must be up."
The two watch him as he opens up the message, and the person it's from immediately grabs his attention. "...It's Jack. He never contacts me, unless it's about James, and that hasn't happened since before we left their hometown to come here."
Serenity tilts her head curiously. The situation is obscure to her, but she seems to understand enough to wonder. "Well..?"
"He wants me to go meet him in his factory... He says it's urgent that he speak to me in person."
Eriah shifts a bit and Serenity blinks, holding onto her as the dragon moves towards Vincent. "Where is it?"
"He sent me a navigation link. It's on an island about twenty-five miles off the coast of Cianwood in the Johto region. It'll take a few hours to get there from here."
Eriah nods slowly. "If that's where you need to go, I'll take you there."
Vincent puts his phone back in his pocket and looks back at her. "I can't imagine what he'd want to talk about... He's been avoiding me ever since James turned."
Serenity moves over to Eriah's side and looks down at him. "Maybe we should go see what he wants?"
He nods and then goes over to Eriah, and Serenity moves back as he climbs up onto her. "Let's go."
The black dragon spreads her wings and then takes off once more, this time flying off towards the Johto region and leaving Orre behind them.
Over the course of the flight, Vincent becomes increasingly anxious about what Jack has to see him for. It only takes a few hours before they reach the Johto region, and Cianwood as the first island they come across.
The last time Vincent was here, it was a brief visit and he only got a glimpse of the area from the dock. This time, as he flies over it, he glances down at the seemingly quiet and peaceful town not unlike his own hometown of Pallet. Seeing it, he begins to think of the events which transpired only a few months ago.
It's as it he were traveling backwards in time...leaving the deserts of Orre and coming back to Cianwood. His thoughts lead him further to traveling the region of Johto once more before returning him home to Pallet. This makes him almost clutch Eriah's neck out of longing to be back home. But he knows well that his home is long gone. It makes him wonder if what happened was the turning point for his family which started to pull them apart.
Serenity, sensing his tension, lightly nudges his side with her nose and he quickly comes to his senses, before looking over at the smaller fox pokemon. He notices her look of concern, and lets out a small sigh before reaching a hand up to pet her head.
"I'm sorry. A lot's happened before and coming here made me think about how quickly things went by."
The Ninetales nods and utters a quiet sound to his pettings, leaning into his side. "If you want to talk about it sometime, I'm here."
Vincent smiles a little and nods to her, then looks back at the town below. He then looks off towards the west, catching the sight of a much smaller island a distance away. He then pats Eriah's neck.
"I think that's it, over there."
The black dragon nods her head, having already picked it up shortly beforehand, and turns off towards it. Vincent stares at the island almost intently as they approach it. Coming closer, he begins to notice a large building standing on it, accompanied by a few smaller buildings which he can only guess to be storage shacks of sorts. There are various vehicles sitting around the large factory, and many tall windmills standing in rows across the island. These would clearly be used to power the factory not too differently than the windmill and solar panels used to provide power to Vincent's own home.
As they come over the island, Eriah lowers down to it and Vincent speaks in a low tone. "We'll need to be careful here. I get the feeling this won't be the best meeting. I'll have to go in alone... Can you two wait for me out here?"
Serenity glances back at him and then nods slowly. "Alright... Just come out as soon as you can."
He nods in return before Eriah lands just outside the facility. Upon touching the ground, they hear the starting of various machines nearby and look around. Vincent jumps down and takes several steps forward, examining the area. He then turns back to Eriah and Serenity.
"...He must have some security here. Guessing from what James has said, his computer already knows we're here. Try not to make any sudden movements and you should be okay."
Eriah nods back to him and Serenity moves to lie down on her back, growing somewhat nervous. Vincent walks towards the factory, soon being stopped just outside the door by ATHER's voice.
"Scanning for material signature." A small laser shines down his body, then back up before disappearing. "ATHER unit Version 1.3 detected, profile identified. Welcome, Vincent Verona."
Vincent blinks and reaches into his pocket to pull out his phone, seeing the small LED on it flickering white for a few seconds. He then looks back to the door to see it open to him. "...Interesting."
Cautiously, he steps towards it before looking back at the two and nodding to them. He then goes inside, expecting what one would normally hear in a factory such as this, with many machines running at almost deafening levels. But surprisingly, it's rather quiet now. As he walks through the open room, he looks around to see that most of the machines are actually turned off, and it's become so quiet that he can hear his own footsteps echoing throughout the area. It's almost eerie to be in such a place, and after a short while, his attention is directed to ATHER's voice over the speakers.
"Jack is thirty meters left of you."
Vincent stops and turns in the direction, spotting the lights over a distant spot flickering before going to normal. He eyes them for a moment, then runs over to the area.
As he approaches, he comes around a shelf to see Jack sitting down with his back against it, looking rather stressed. He comes to his site and kneels down as Jack looks over at him.
He sighs and rubs his face with a hand, before speaking in a quiet voice, nothing like the confident and strong tone he normally has. "What took you so long?"
Vincent shakes his head. "I got here as fast as I could. What...happened to you?"
Jack lets out a halfhearted scoff. "Yeah. About that. Vincent, my brother's been tormenting me for months, on and off."
Vincent furrows a brow at this and moves in front of him. "What do you mean?"
"Ever since what happened, he's become...this crazy, manipulative person. He's not the James I know anymore. He keeps coming, trying to convince me to help him, but I keep refusing. I don't know how much longer I can take this. Hell, I even changed ATHER's security, hoping he would just go away but that didn't work."
"Help him with what? What's he trying to do?"
Jack lets out a light breath and looks up at him. "He's trying to take you out. Make you fail your task, and he wants to make your family suffer as well. I just had to send Hector away to keep him from getting involved."
"You're saying Hector was here?"
He nods slowly. "Just a few hours ago. I had to go get him when that ship sank, and he stayed here a while. I just gave him all of my things because I didn't know if I'd make it out of this alive."
Vincent looks down. He takes some comfort in knowing that his brother's okay, but is further disturbed by what Jack is saying. He looks back at him and puts his hand on his shoulder.
"Look, Jack. I'm trying the best I can to help James."
Jack makes a small chuckle and looks off. "Yeah... I've heard that before."
Vincent stares at him and then backs up as he pulls himself to his feet. He then stands up catching him when he staggers.
"Vincent. I don't know if he can be helped. The last time this happened, he had to kill himself to get out of it. What do you think is gonna happen this time? You think it's any different? That this emotional sentiment is just gonna grow old and go away just like that?"
Vincent sighs and shakes his head. He's been thinking about this for some time, and while he dreads the thought, he believes Jack may be right. But another voice catches his attention- one which he remembers so well and causes not only him, but Jack as well, to grow immediately tense.
"Wouldn't that be something? Yes, let's wait for James to grow old and maybe he'll retire and go off to live the rest of his life peacefully on a beach."
Jack reflexively reaches back and grabs a wrench off his shelf, then tosses it at James, who is standing just a few feet behind Vincent and smacks it away with a hand cloaked in black energy. He then smirks in response and Vincent eyes him coldly.
"...Welcome to the party, Vincent. I wasn't planning to have you two together, but not all goes as well as one expects, does it?"
"Shut it, James..." Vincent turns away from him and takes several steps away.
"Oh... It burns you so much, does it? The idea that you nearly got killed twice by your best friend. What happened to your skills, huh? I thought you were the best of the best in that helpless Council."
Jack looks over at Vincent. "Don't let him get in your head. Trust me, that's not a road you want to take."
Vincent clenches his fists as James goes on, his tone growing more aggressive with each attack.
"I thought you were such a great asset that they even wanted to make you Elite Messanger just to praise you, but you were too modest to accept such a title. But where is that strength now? What's become of the so highly regarded Vincent? Can't even finish his task because he doesn't have the will to accept what's to come."
Vincent growls lowly and James draws back just enough to settle down a bit. He then scoffs. "...Just like before. And your family will suffer from it all over again. Emotional sentiment..."
Vincent turns back to him with a fierce glare, as if he were about to lash out at him. But as though clinging to every fiber of his will, he holds back. Jack then eyes James and folds his arms.
"Emotional sentiment. Is that right?"
James shifts his gaze back to Jack and raises a brow in slight confusion.
"...Vincent. Please go, I need to have a private chat with my brother."
Vincent blinks and looks over at him, and he motions to him to leave.
"Are you serious? You won't last much more of this, Jack. You know full well-"
"Can it and get out, Vincent. This is between me and James."
Vincent stares at him for a moment, then growls before looking back at James, then turning and going off. After several moments, the two hear ATHER's voice announcing that Vincent has left. Jack then turns back to James, who is eyeing him with suspicion.
"Alright, brother. I see how this is."
"What?" James' tone is low and quiet, as he is failing to understand what Jack is saying. It would seem almost for a moment that the person under the dark and twisted mask is showing himself, but it's obvious that the true James is still buried deep inside.
"You keep saying that everyone's actions are drawn by emotions. It's a powerful sentiment, and it would be stupid to underestimate it. But what about you? How far do your emotions take you, James?"
James furrows his brows and watches as Jack walks by him. "What are you talking about...?"
"It's a paradox. One acts based on emotions, contrary to all logic and everything they believe. One single tick blows it all out of proportion. What makes you tick? What happens when you become overwhelmed? Do you repress your emotions and keep going? Or does a side of you show that...not many have seen before?"
James stares at him intently. He isn't saying anything, but he is clearly becoming concerned. Jack turns back to him with almost an intimidating look which makes James take a step back.
"ATHER... Arm all the generators. Prepare for a selfdestruct sequence and seal all exits. Begin the countdown."
James' eyes grow wide and he starts towards Jack. "No, you idiot!" He takes use of his Speedster ability to rush him. But Jack immediately grabs a knife from the open toolbox on the shelf and throws it at him.
James comes to an abrupt stop, staring at Jack with a somewhat shocked expression as he has the knife stuck in his arm. Jack then takes a few steps back and makes a small scoff.
"Not fast enough this time, brother..."
James growls and reaches for the knife, ripping it out of his arm as blood drips onto the floor. He then glares at Jack, clutching the knife with a look of anger as if he were ready to stab him. And Jack simply stares at the knife, then over at his wounded arm.
"Emotional sentiment... Makes you bleed just like the rest of us."
James throws the knife on the floor, causing the blade to snap from the handle before he clutches his arm. Jack folds his arms and he then fades off into dark energy.
Shortly afterwards, Jack shuts his eyes tightly and tenses up as all the generators around the factory set off alert sounds.
Outside, Vincent is sitting on the ground next to Eriah, when he feels his phone vibrate suddenly. He blinks and pulls it out, seeing a message from Jack, saying three simple words. "Get out, now."
He stares at it for a moment before ATHER's voice is heard over the loudspeaker.
"Evacuate immediately, the area will selfdestruct in thirty seconds."
Vincent jumps up and looks around as alert sounds are heard all over the island. Tremers can be felt in the ground and he clutches his phone. "Dammit! He's blowing the place up!"
Serenity climbs over Eriah's back and looks down at him. "What!?"
He growls and puts his phone in his pocket, before looking at her. "What's he thinking? Is he running away?"
Eriah lowers herself to the ground and Vincent then jumps onto her back. He looks over at the factory and shakes his head. "Damn you, Jack..."
He then pats Eriah's back and she takes off into the sky as ATHER counts down from ten. The tremers become more violent with each passing second, and on zero, all the generators in the area light up, and the building them releases a powerful white explosion, sending shockwaves throughout the area and nearly knocking Eriah out of the sky. The explosion rocks the island and causes fissures to crack open all over, destroying a large portion of the island and sinking much of it into the ocean. As a result, large waves are sent across the water, expanding out over the surrounding area.
As Vincent, Eriah and Serenity recollect themselves, they look to see what's left of the island reduced to large chunks of rubble and scraps of machines that were blown apart. But what then draws their attention is the large wave rushing towards Cianwood. They have no time to act on it as water floods across the beach and rushes inland to the town.
Vincent looks in shock at the scene and then taps Eriah frantically, and she flies towards the island quickly. As they approach it, they hear sirens going off all over the town and see helicopters flying around. The outer portion of the town in the way of the wave was flooded by water, although the damage isn't as bad as Vincent expected. Still, he clutches Eriah as he looks down at the scene.
But soon, he sees several helicopters coming towards them. Eriah snorts as the flying vehicles surround them and several people stand at the doors, pointing weapons at them. Someone calls over a loudspeaker, "Hold it right there! Do not make any sudden movements or we will be forced to take immediate action!"
Vincent looks around at them, holding onto Eriah. "They think we caused this...?"
Eriah growls lightly. "We sort of did..."
"We can't be here."
Eriah snorts and flaps her wings to fly off, and the person over the loudspeaker shouts, "Hey, freeze!" just as they open fire.
Although, as if following their command, a gust of wind blows across the area and the bullets slow down. Eriah tenses up and then instinctively, she roars out and the Sylverstone on her chest shines brightly. She, Vincent and Serenity then glow blue as the surrounding area suddenly comes to a complete halt. The helicopters are suspended in the air, their rotors not even moving. The bullets that were fired have ceased movements, and the town below has become utterly quiet. The waves have stopped and all activity is stopped entirely.
Vincent blinks and looks around as the three stop glowing, and is dumbfounded by what he now sees. "Eriah...? What did you just do?"
Eriah growls lowly. "This wasn't my doing... It's just what I was hoping wouldn't come to happen. Dialga's entering a greater primordial stage. Time is beginning to lose stability and cease."
Vincent tenses at that and looks at her. "You can't be serious..."
Shortly, he hears a call of his name in the distance. He looks in surprise as he sees Aerthos, Sierra, Larisa and Lasuno flying towards them. With them are Christina, Melissa, Raven and Umbros, and Christina is waving frantically at Vincent.
"Guys, what are you doing here?"
As they reach them, Christina shouts out to Vincent, "Look, we got a problem! This isn't the only place that's frozen!"
Eriah shoots a glare at her from what she says, and Vincent stares at her in bafflement.
"We just went to Mauville and when we got there, the whole city was at a standstill. Nothing is moving. We decided to leave and look for you, and there are other places that are affected too."
Vincent shakes his head. "It's happening already..."
Eriah snorts. "We need to go see Dialga."
Vincent jerks his head to her. "Wait, what? Eriah, he won't listen to us if he's this far gone. He may even attack you."
"He won't. He's focused intently on survival. Attacking me would put himself at risk. He won't do it."
Vincent clutches her and then Serenity noses his side. He looks down at her to see a slightly worried look on her.
"Hey...Vincent. I don't know what's happening but she's right. If something's not done, this'll only get worse."
Christina nods slowly, albeit somewhat surprised at the sight of the Ninetales. However, her mind is focused on the subject to ask questions.
"We have to do something. We'll go with you."
Eriah looks at her. "I cannot risk putting you at harm. When we get to the island, you must stay at the shore. Admittedly you'd be safer out here even if it means you're frozen as well, but Vincent still needs your help."
Vincent looks at Christina and she stares at him with a determined look.
"Please, Christina. Trust us."
She sighs and slowly nods. "Alright... But don't get yourself hurt. We'll be waiting for you."
Vincent nods and looks at Eriah. "Let's go."
The black dragon flaps her wings and then takes off towards the north, and the others follow her as fast as they can. Eriah is determined to reach the Flare Continent and Dialga before things get worse.
It was often said among my kind that service means more than simply assisting with small tasks. To make a decision, to do the right thing...when no one else can.
I had never hoped I would have to confront my own overseer this way...
- - - - -
A few hours have passed, and Eriah is beginning to see the Northern Flare Continent ahead. The others have been quietly following behind her for the later half of the flight, as she appears to be growing more tense at the sight of Dialga's home. It grows darker, the closer they get to the massive island, as Vincent clutches Eriah in response to the distortion of time in the area.
To Vincent and Eriah, the effects of the distortion weighs heavily, almost unbearably. But even the others feel a discomforting tension as they approach the island. The presence of something this powerful sets their nerves on edge. The idea, not only that they are becoming a part of something far greater than they could've hoped, but that they are coming in the face of the deity of time himself- a creature that, to most in the world, has been spoken of only in legends. But Vincent knows well, Dialga is as real as any other pokemon.
As they reach the shore of the island, Eriah lowers down to land. The water which flowed freely in the vast ocean behind them has all but come to a stop, the waves flowing very slowly and subtly against the blue stone on which they stand. It's as though they've entered a fantasy, and all around them it seems as if the whole world had come to a stop. An eerie silence fills the air, so much that they could almost hear one another's increasing heartbeat in the shadow of what could only be described as a twisted deity.
Christina looks around while clutching onto Aerthos' back. In a hushed voice, she utters, "I don't like this place..."
Umbros is sitting on Larisa's back, scanning the area quietly as his blue rings flicker slightly. It would almost seem as if he were overtaken by the same force which has driven Dialga into this state, the very presence almost filling him with anger. Larisa tenses a bit and glances back at him with a worried expression, before Eriah speaks up.
"Time is growing further afflicted by Dialga's declining state. The longer he remains this way, the more of the world will be pulled into this, until paralysis swallows it entirely. I know of another realm which has been affected by this already. It is believed that his task will take him there."
Melissa glances over at the black dragon with a furrowed brow. "To another world..?"
Vincent nods slowly and jumps down, taking a few paces around, and Serenity leaps down to gaze around the area as he explains.
"We call it the Dusk Realm. The Spiritual Council is particularly watchful of it among countless other realms, including this one...Earthrealm. It is in the service of Arceus that we try to protect these realms to the greatest of our power. But unfortunately, not every realm was so lucky to be saved from the dangers that befell them..."
Christina shakes her head. "But how are we gonna get there? It's not like we can just walk on in. Realms aren't joined together physically...are they?"
Vincent folds his arms in thought. "It is believed that due to events which occured three hundred years ago, the Dusk Realm and Earthrealm have been intertwined. I'm not exactly sure by what, but I've heard that Dialga has been using this to link the two realms together with a gate of sorts."
Umbros eyes him suspiciously as he continues.
"It is theorized that coming to this place, one could cross over into the Dusk Realm and arrive at the location where Temporal Tower resides...Dialga's domain there."
Eriah nods in agreement. "The Hidden Land, as they call it. Lucas once told me of it. Apparently it used to go by another name, long ago. But he doesn't remember what it was."
Melissa blinks in confusion. "Who's Lucas?"
Vincent turns back to them. "He's another Messanger, like me. Supposedly, he's in this realm as well, trying to find a way to help with this task. I have yet to find him."
She nods slowly and then glances around. "...This is worse than the Spear Pillar event, isn't it?"
Vincent sighs. "If Team Galactic were a real threat, the Council would've sent someone here to stop them. This is far more than they could've possibly done with everything they had."
Christina jumps down from Aerthos. "So you're going to confront him? Dialga?"
Vincent nods to her before looking at Serenity. "Indeed... But to do that, I need you to stay here as well."
The Ninetales blinks, then lowers her ears in response to this, and he pets her head lightly.
"I'm sorry, but I can't risk you getting in danger either. We'll be back as soon as we can."
Serenity murmurs quietly and presses her muzzle into his hand for a moment, before he walks back over to Eriah. He looks up at the black dragon, who lowers down for him to climb back onto her back. Then the two turn to face the others.
"You'll wait for us, right?"
Christina nods to Vincent, and he looks at Eriah. "The Crescent Valley should be just ahead. Dialga will be there, guarding the Temporal Seal."
Eriah snorts and spreads her wings out. "I know this. I just hope we can do something to help him. We don't even know who or what is doing this to him."
"We have to try. There's no other option."
Eriah nods and, after a moment, she takes off into the air, heading towards the north while the others watch them. Serenity looks longingly as the two leave, only hoping that they'd return quickly.
The flight, while short, seems to feel like forever. Traveling across the desolate land of the Flare Continent with not a thing to take their attention off the forbidding silence. It's almost enough to drive someone crazy, and as they draw closer to where the Temporal Seal is, Vincent grows more tense- not only from the idea of facing Dialga in an even darker state which almost killed him before, but from the effects of the Seal which he could feel since he arrived on the island. He can feel the growing distortion of time, which sends flashes through his head and makes him grip Eriah's back for balance.
The dragon glances back at him knowingly, and he closes his eyes. Visions begin to run through his mind at a rapid pace. Visions of the Dusk Realm, visions of himself as an Umbreon traveling with Grovyle in the morning sun, visions of many places shrouded in timeless darkness. All of which can be changed...the fate of everything resting on Vincent's shoulders.
As they enter the valley, the flashes become more vivid, and Vincent can almost see clearly into what seems to be the future. The sight of various relics, some of which he recognizes and others being a complete mystery, become clear to him. A small stone engraved with an intricate pattern, a statue depicting a Groudon, an ancient shrine bearing five carved slots, several teal-colored gears...and then a black stone of sorts.
Before Vincent can ponder, his attention is ripped back to reality by Eriah's call, and then a deep, echoing growl. He opens his eyes to the sight of a tall cliff below them, standing behind what he has long known to be the Temporal Seal, in a distorted blue color. And standing atop the cliff, bearing a deathly glare with fierce red eyes at them, is Dialga. His colors have become so warped that he is almost unrecognizable. The lines which were a crystalline blue are a tainted orange, tracing along a dark blue- nearly black- body adorned with dull gray ridges and a chestplate bearing the gleaming red diamond long known to preserve the flow of time throughout the realm. But now, the same diamond is twisting time, bringing it into a spiraling collapse.
Eriah stares down at him wordlessly and unmoving. The Sylverstone embedded in her chest flickers dimly in reaction to the very diamond it was created from, almost seeming as if it were losing its power. The two keep their eyes locked on one another, as if telling each other unspoken words, one threatening and the other pleading for reason. It seems to be forever that the two are simply locked in place, as though they themselves were frozen in time.
Vincent looks between the two, seeing Eriah's intent stare at Dialga, and Dialga's own intense desire to take her out of the sky being held back by his knowing of the consequences. After a while, Eriah finally speaks, in a quiet tone much unlike her usual.
"Have you ever felt so powerless that you believe your very presence is pointless to anything going on around you?"
Vincent looks at her quietly as she goes on.
"...I feel like a child in a corner, pleading to her parent- begging him to come to his senses among his hatred and rage...his will overpowering her and all reason lost to the desire to erase all around him, including herself. Dialga is too far gone. There is no talking to him."
Vincent looks back at Dialga, with his unyielding glare focused on Eriah.
"Can't you do anything? The Sylverstone is bound to him. Surely it can get through."
Eriah shakes her head. "The Sylverstone is just keeping him from attacking, but I don't know that it's enough to bring any sense to him."
Vincent shakes his head as Dialga utters a low growl, which sounds as though it were emanating from all around them. It would seem like he is holding back, with every fiber of his being, the desire to attack them. But at the same time, Vincent can't help but feel that he might be testing them. Urging them to find an answer, almost pressuring them to do so, right here and right now.
"There has to be something... Dialga knew, all along, that there would be a possibility. What can you do?"
The black dragon tenses up slightly. With each passing moment her nerves are being set more on edge. She feels as though she were failing Dialga right now- that she's let her emotions get the better of her and she is unable to think clearly about what she can do.
Service without restraint...
Vincent moves forward to place his hand along her neck. "You know you have to do something, Eriah. You're the only one, at this point, who possesses the ability."
She furrows the ridges over her eyes as Dialga presses on his intent glare towards her. "I know, I-"
"Eriah..." Vincent strokes her neck slowly. "I once failed a task due to my emotions taking over and causing me to flee my home. I nearly failed this one for the very same reason. Emotion is a very powerful thing. Please don't let the same thing happen to you...to us."
The dragon growls slightly and shakes her head, her gaze averting from the deity's as she falters ever so slightly. At that time, Dialga utters yet another, more fierce growl. The feeling is almost unbearable for Eriah, and she recoils. Vincent holds onto her, trying to get her to calm down.
...Doing the right thing, when no one else can...
She closes her eyes and lets out a quiet breath. "I hate serving sometimes. Especially during a time like this. You might be stronger than be for being able to take such drastic measures."
Vincent furrows his brows a bit. He can't help but utter a scoff, as if she said something profound. "You know that's not true, Eriah. I'm only a person."
"And I am but a dragon. Another mere living creature in the same world. Believe me, Vincent. This is no small thing. For you to tell me something such as this, at such a time. For you to be here, pushing me on."
Vincent shakes his head. "I wouldn't be able to do it if it weren't for you. You've helped me just the same."
"Doing the right thing..."
Vincent looks back at Dialga for a moment. "It is service, after all. Whether we like it or not, we have to. No one else can."
Eriah snorts a little, then looks back at Dialga. "That sounds like a curse." She stares at him for a while, which almost seems like forever. At that moment, she seems to be trying to talk to him. But this time, she's persisting- trying to find an answer even as Dialga is acting like a brick wall, blocking her out.
"Vincent? I need you to hold on."
Vincent looks back at her curiously, and she turns her gaze down to the Temporal Seal below them.
"...This will be risky. But it may be the only thing that works."
Vincent eyes the large pattern on the ground, which glows a dull blue. "You're not really going to..."
"I need you to listen to me."
He nods and grips onto her firmly, and she turns and flies back a ways. Dialga watches her intently, almost daring her to do something. She keeps her gaze off him and is staring at the pattern without aversion. "Twelve...the start of the new cycle."
The Sylverstone begins to glow faintly, and the part of the Seal marked XII glows in response. Dialga growls lowly and begins to exert waves of power, but Eriah persists. "...Five, the intervals which form each cycle."
The part marked V begins to glow as well, and the Seal, in turn, flickers slightly. "These were the keys to open the gate to the other realm. Do you remember, Vincent?"
"The Dusk Realm... So the Temporal Seal was the gate all along."
Eriah nods and then flies down closer to the pattern, and Dialga growls deeply, exerting more power to try and throw her off balance. But she doesn't falter as she lands at the center of the Seal. She speaks up, her voice seeming to echo through the area.
My name is Eriah, the Guardian of Sylverstone. I have come to pass into the other realm.
The Temporal Seal flashes in response and begins to shine brightly, almost blinding them both. Dialga then roars out and disperses a wave of energy that throws the two back. Eriah flaps her wings quickly and regains her balance, while Vincent holds onto her tightly, nearly falling off her back. But it's too late for the deity to stop them, as the Seal has already begun its process.
Eriah flies away from the pattern and looks back at Dialga, who glares at them in rage, before he is obscured by a beam shooting from the center of the Seal into the sky. The beam expands to cover the entire pattern, and Eriah and Vincent look up towards the sky.
Vincent takes a few small breaths, the exerting energy of the Temporal Seal having its effect on him but he keeps his grip on Eriah. "It's establishing the connection, isn't it? To the Dusk Realm?"
The black dragon nods. "Once it turns blue, the link has been made. The gate will be open."
Vincent nods slowly and watches as the clouds above are dispersed in all directions, and the light of the beam becomes brighter. But an unexpected thing happens- one that sets Eriah on edge.
Rather than turning blue as she said, the beam fades to a deep purple and releases powerful energy everywhere. Eriah recoils from the wave and then looks almost in shock. "This isn't supposed to happen..."
"Eriah? What's going on?"
Eriah tenses and shakes her head. "...Chaos."
- - - - -
Back at the shore, everyone looks around with growing tension as tremors can be felt across the island. Umbros growls and the rings on his body flicker as he recoils and jumps onto Larisa's back, causing her to make a surprised sound. Meanwhile, the others are gathering on the dragons to try and escape the ground. Christina calls, "Serenity! Get on, it's too dangerous to be down there!"
The white Ninetales looks back at her with a worried expression, and Christina sighs. "What am I saying..."
Serenity turns back towards the north, and before anyone can stop her, she suddenly darts off. Christina shouts out and Aerthos flies after her, but is stopped when a wave of energy blows past them.
The Ninetales crouches to hold her ground as the pulse passes her, and then she proceeds on, intent to find Vincent at any cost. At the same time, Christina's attention is averted by a man's call, and she turns to see where it's coming from.
- - - - -
Back at the valley, Eriah is taking off into the air as the Temporal Seal releases vast amounts of energy, and Dialga is heard roaring out deafeningly before dispersing his own power. At that time, the light from the Seal fades away, and Dialga is nowhere to be seen.
Eriah and Vincent look around for a moment as the area seems to settle down, just a little. Now, Eriah has become worried.
"Dialga just passed through the gate."
Vincent looks at her with concern. "...To the Dusk Realm?"
She shakes her head. "Now I can't be sure. That wasn't any normal occurance. Dialga never told me just how he was forming the link to the other realm. But that energy...was not of any realm. It exists between the realms, in an unstable environment. Dialga did tell me about it once."
Eriah nods slowly, and looks around the area as the tremors start returning. "Now it's running around here... We have to go. The island is no longer safe to be on."
Vincent sighs as she turns off and flies back towards the shore. Along the way, they are careful where they are flying, as random surges of energy disperse seemingly out of nowhere. Some are weak bursts, but others would've been powerful enough to knock her out of the air and do a fair bit of damage.
As they are flying, Vincent notices something on the ground, and calls for Eriah to stop. As he looks closer, he is shocked by what he sees.
The black dragon flies down immediately to the weakened Ninetales. Vincent jumps down just before Eriah lands, stumbling a bit and then running to Serenity's side. "Dammit, Serenity... I told you not to follow us."
She whimpers softly in response, and he puts his hand on her head with a sigh. "I'm sorry, Vincent..."
Eriah growls lightly and looks down at them. "Vincent, now isn't the time."
He slowly nods and then puts his arms around Serenity, helping her to her feet and bringing her up onto Eriah's back. He then climbs on, himself, and holds onto the Ninetales. Shortly after, the dragon takes off back into the air and flies back to the shore.
It doesn't take much longer before they reach the edge of the island and see the others flying off-shore. As they pass over the ocean, Eriah turns around and the Sylverstone shines brightly, before the island's image distorts and blurs.
Now, it seems as though things have calmed down. Though it is clear that right in front of them, the energy is still acting up, now being confined on the island itself as if held within a barrier.
Christina looks over at them and Aerthos flies towards them. "What just happened?"
Eriah stares ahead at the island. "What you just saw was an unstable force being released from the Temporal Seal. We tried to open the gate to the Dusk Realm, but...what we didn't realize is that Dialga, and the Flare Continent itself, were overtaken by something we call Chaos."
Vincent shakes his head with a sigh. "I've heard things about it. The Spiritual Council had documents on it since more recent times. Apparently Chaos exists in a place between all realms. It's not exactly a realm of its own, but at the same time it is. But we could never keep track of it to stop it when it acts up. It doesn't have a pattern, it's just..."
Eriah snorts in response. "Chaotic."
Vincent looks at Serenity, who is lying motionlessly next to him, and he strokes her back lightly. "Well this is great. Now we can't even approach the island without potentially being blown apart. Any hope we had of going to the Dusk Realm is pretty much lost unless we can find someway to stablize it."
Christina shifts a bit. "There...might be some way."
Vincent and Eriah look back at her questioningly, and she looks down.
"Before you came back, there was some guy who approached us. He seemed to know what was going on, but he never gave his name. All he said was to tell Vincent to go to someplace called the Tempora Archipelago."
Eriah blinks. "...It's been some time since I've been there. There's a Mew there by the name of Cereos, who guards the islands all by his lonesome. He's intelligent, but he's...rather hard to talk to at times."
Vincent looks at Eriah, then back at Christina. "Did you see what he looked like?"
"He was wearing all black and riding a Salamence. He had purple eyes too, if that says anything."
Vincent blinks and Eriah stares at her. "You know who that is, right?"
The black dragon nods slowly. "Lucas."
"Right... If he's going to the hidden islands, he must know something. Only problem is...they're never in the same place. They're always moving."
Eriah shakes her head. "The Tempora Archipelago has ties with Dialga. I can use the Sylverstone to find them, so it won't take too long. Lucas must've had help finding them too."
Vincent looks back at Serenity with a small sigh. "Alright... Just get us there and we'll figure out what to do then."
The Ninetales looks back at him, murmuring quietly as he pets her head. Eriah then flaps her wings and takes off, the others following. As she flies, she is completely silent, as she is using the Sylverstone as a guide to help her find the islands. They are looking forward to reaching them, hoping for any chance to reopen the gate so that Vincent can finally take on his task. This time, his objective is reaching the Dusk Realm, and he is intent on doing so, by any means.
"Who would've known we'd find them here?"
Vincent peers at Christina due to her question, then down at the expanse of small islands in the ocean below. After flying for several hours, they've finally found what they've been looking for: The Tempora Archipelago, situated a ways south of the Hoenn region.
The most notable thing about these islands is they appear to be almost entirely covered with forests, overgrown with trees, small and large, bathed in a deep teal blue, seemingly lambent in the light of the setting sun. The faint presence of something otherworldly can be felt here.
Christina stares at the islands, mesmerized by the view. "They look like not a single person has ever been here... This is amazing."
Eriah nods slowly in response. "That's because humans don't ever come here. It's difficult to explain, but they move, appearing only where people are not. It's as though they have a mind of their own."
Vincent gazes over the islands for a moment, taking in the sight as this is the first time he's seen something quite like this. "I think there's more to this place than the Council seems to know or lets in on. Just being here tells me there's something...unusual here. What, exactly, is their tie to Dialga?"
Eriah glances back at Vincent, before peering back down over the islands. "This place doesn't really have a name. The people who know about it call it the Tempora Archipelago because it isn't influenced by time. But there's much more to it than that."
Eriah flies down closer to the islands slowly, appearing somewhat cautious. "You see, these islands are bound by their own...unique rules which don't follow that of the rest of the world. Some say they don't really exist at all. But they play a key role in maintaining the stability of this world, as they help support the flow of time and the fabric of space."
Vincent scans the islands over as more of their scenery comes into view the closer they get, and Eriah soon comes to a stop.
"You're aware that without one, the other cannot exist, yes? Without time, there can be no space. Without Dialga, Palkia cannot live. And the opposite is also true."
Vincent glances back at her, then nods slowly. "Yeah... Lucas' task involves Palkia, I know that much for sure."
"Your tasks are more closely tied together than you might know. If he were to fail his task then yours would be affected too, even if you've already finished it. This is why you both need each other."
Vincent peers back down at the chain of islands below for a moment in silence, thinking about what she's said. She proceeds to fly down and the others follow, Christina glancing at Vincent with a somewhat worried expression. It seems that the more they do, the more they learn just what these tasks involve and it only makes them that much harder to complete. She's starting to come to understand what Vincent has had to deal with during his time in the Spiritual Council.
As Eriah finally lands on one of the larger islands, she glances around. They've arrived in a clearing just outside a thick forest at the base of a small mountain, where they can just barely spot a cavern under a growth of plants and vines. As the group dismounts its dragons, Vincent approaches the cavern and glances inside, moving some of the vines out of his way to see more clearly. It appears to lead into a long and narrow tunnel dimly lit by the glow of softly radiant white crystals of varying shapes and sizes along the walls, floor and ceiling.
Vincent turns back to the others, then to Eriah. "You're sure he'll be in here?"
The black dragon nods to him. "It's where he usually stays. After you go in, he'll find you. You just need to be patient."
Vincent nods slowly and looks at the others. "Are you ready?"
They nod and move over to him, and Christina looks inside. "Let's go."
Vincent looks back at Eriah, who nods to him and they slowly venture inside. As they step in, the light of the sun still peeking over the horizon shines through the tunnel, brightly illuminating the limestone passage and reflecting off the pale brown rock walls. The crystals glimmer in the light until the vines drape back over the entrance, obscuring most of the sun and leaving the tunnel once again dimly lit by the glowing minerals. Compared to the cool air outside, it's rather warm inside, the air somewhat humid from the moisture of the plants which has been contained in the tunnel for some time.
They wander through the passage, which winds around and goes on for a stretch before eventually leading to a large room. As they examine the area, there isn't much to take notice of, other than the occasional droplets of water from the ceiling, and rock pillars connecting it to the floor in random spots. There are a few paths leading out of the room, but none appear to show any significance over another, which makes Vincent start to wonder which he should take.
Christina examines the room curiously, unsure of what to make of her surroundings. There isn't a sound or the slightest movement other than the steady, soft plopping of water dripping into the puddles on the ground, making the faintly luminous cavern eerily quiet.
"How do we even know where to go?" Her voice echoes through the room, slightly startling the group with the sudden sound interrupting the relative silence.
Vincent shakes his head, letting out small sigh. "We don't. That's the thing. Even for someone who makes it to these islands, you don't just find Cereos. He always finds you. It isn't certain how, but he can see everything that happens in this place. The Council believes there is a Sight Panel here that he uses."
Melissa sighs and then moves over to a large rock to sit down, fidgeting with her jacket a little. "So we just wait? How long is this going to take, anyway?"
Vincent looks around the room, beginning to pick up the subtle feeling of something approaching. "...Maybe not too much longer."
"Well he'd better hurry! We don't really have time to waste."
Suddenly, as though in response to her demands, a teal blue Mew pops up out of thin air just a few inches in front of her, forcing from her a shrll screech and causing her to tumble backwards off the rock. The diminitive hovering pokemon folds his arms with a cheeky smirk, glancing down at her with deep purple eyes while his slinky tail waves in the air behind him. He breaks the momentarily silence, chiming in with a playful and rather mischeivous tone.
"Hurry up? You people have no patience, I swear. That other guy was so much less annoying. Why should I even bother helping you now?"
Vincent blinks in surprise and turns around to look at the Mew. "Does the world's preservation suffice?"
The small, catlike pokemon sighs weakly, as if all the fun in the whole world has just been snatched away from him. "You're so bo-o-o-oring too! Why do Messangers have to be so serious?"
Vincent stares at him, increasingly vexed, and Umbros twitches an ear in shared annoyance at the disturbingly blithe Psychic-type. "You're Cereos?"
"Yes I am! Cereos, protector of the Tempora Archipelamino!"
"Uhh..." Umbros gives the Mew a blank look.
Melissa stumbles to her feet, brushing herself off. "I think it's supposed to be Archi-"
"I know what it's called, you dummy! Sheesh, people can't take a cute little Mew seriously these days."
Umbros mumbles to himself, "I wonder why..."
Cereos glances down at him with a feigned look of disdain which fails to hide the impish twinkle in his eye. "Careful, Blackie. If I weren't so nice I might think it'd be funny to watch you dangle off the ceiling."
The disgruntled Umbreon turns his gaze away from him with a small, "Hmph..."
Vincent lowers his face into his hands with an exasperated groan. "Cereos..."
The Mew pops his head up from teasingly peering down at Umbros to face him and flits towards him, then utters an incoherent grumble. "Fiiiine. Ruin my fun, will you? This way."
He turns off and proceeds to hover into one of the tunnels, glancing back briefly to see Vincent's disparate companions following him. As they get further down the long tunnel, they suddenly stop as the faint sound of rumbling makes itself apparent. Cereos, who has been quite cheery this whole time, begins to evince distress, but continues on, his earlier insouciance fading with every step forward they take.
Vincent eyes him suspiciously before asking, "What was that?"
The Mew stares uneasily ahead as he floats through the tunnel. "With Chaos running rampant all across Flare, time throughout the world has been acting erratically. In places, it stops, in others, it moves faster. What we're coming to will correct that momentarily. But it can only do so long enough for you to get to Flare and open the gate. What happens then...I'm not sure. Time throughout this world may stop entirely due to the paralysis of the other realm, or they may even conflict in some way."
Vincent becomes very uneasy hearing this. The thought of possibly sending this realm into ruin just to have a chance to save it strongly disquiets him, and he fights back a wave of abhorrence at the thought of what will happen if he fails.
As Cereos hovers ahead, he turns around to face the others. They find themselves in an unusually neat room, one which contrasts sharply with the rest of the cavern they've seen so far. It's well-rounded and dome-shaped with a row of crystals lining the wall. A pond of still water fills a great portion of the room, with a small pathway leading to what appears to be a shrine naturally protuding out of the ground at its center.
Vincent gazes around in wonder at what he sees, a sight so simple yet so intricate. He proceeds forward, onto the path as the Mew drifts down to flank him as he aproaches. As they come to the shrine, Vincent studies the panel set atop it. A ring of what appears to be water reflects his appearance, surrounded by a pattern appearing somewhat like an ancient dial engraved into the equally ancient limestone. Four diamond-shaped gems are placed at the top, bottom and sides of the ring, exhibiting the colors in order of red, yellow, blue and green.
He turns his gaze back over at Cereos almost knowingly. "The Council was right. You do have a Sight Panel here."
The Mew nods and then hovers around to the back of the shrine, looking into its reflective surface. "You've seen your Elder use one of these, I expect. Try it."
Vincent watches him for a brief moment, before turning his intent gaze back to the panel, and the others watch from outside the lake with growing interest. He raises his hand and places his middle finger at the top of the dial and slowly traces around it in a full clockwise circle. The pattern then lights up and the surface fades into blackness, almost appearing a depthless abyss that's about to suck him in. He stares into it a moment before uttering, "Dusk Forest. Current time."
After a few seconds restively waiting, he turns his eyes back up to Cereos, confused and worried. "It didn't respond..."
"The realms were connected when you first opened the gate. But now they are blocked by the Chaos that cloaks the island. So the Sight Panel here can't reach across to see into the Dusk Realm."
Vincent pauses a few beats, before looking back down at the panel. "Flare Continent. Current time."
After a few seconds, the blackness shifts to reveal the world, then zooms into the familiar northern continent they've been to recently. Two ticks after, the surrounding pond begins vibrate and ripples flow across it, before a supernal mist rises up to fill the room. Vincent looks around in shock, but Cereos simply glances around, calm.
Through the etheral mist, they can see the lapis-tinted mountains of the Flare Continent encircling them. Vincent sweeps the spectacle with his eyes, witnessing the random arcing flashes of darkened lightning skipping across the tortured landscape. "This...isn't like the Sight Panel in the Spiritual World."
"This is a very different panel than what your Council has. A distant friend of mine there has told me much of your world."
Vincent continues to watch the surreal display before turning his attention back to the panel overlooking the island. "But how do we fix this?"
Cereos turns and stares down at him intently. "You're missing something. Eriah hasn't told you everything, has she?"
After a long pause, Vincent finally comes to a realization, uttering a single phrase. "The Sylverstone..."
As though responding to him, the panel lights up and the chaotic phantasm of the island washes away in a white light, before fading to a calm blue. On the surface of the panel, he can see the transparent silver stone hovering.
The Mew smiles admiringly and moves down to place his paws on the yellow and green gems at both sides of the panel, prompting them to illuminate together. He thereafter hovers into the air above them and waves his arms to the left. Following his guidance, the visual appears to flow in that direction a ways until it comes to reveal a discomforting, roiling mist, semblant of a dark storm. Inside, they can see inky purple energy crackling about wildly. Vincent stands up straight and moves to the edge of the pond to watch the nebulous display.
"That's Chaos. But...inside the Sylverstone?"
Cereos lowers his arms and faces him, drifting down in front of the storm. "You realize what's taking over Dialga, don't you? What do you think that does to the Sylverstone? You must have noticed its effects when it was near him."
"It grew weaker... But that means if Dialga stays this way for too long, the Sylverstone will lose all its power. Become consumed by Chaos. And what happens to Eriah?"
The Mew narrows his eyes as he stares at Vincent, as if he'd asked something absurd, and Vincent grasps the obvious answer to his own question.
"She's not said anything yet, but she knows what will happen. We all do- myself, her...Dialga."
Vincent stares at him wordlessly, and Cereos shakes his head, expressing decidedly genuine pity.
"Even as a deity, Dialga has flaws. Arceus can't create perfection. Even mild emotion is necessary to make sound judgments. Dialga can feel, to an extent, things like joy and sadness...even anger."
"And what does he feel now?"
The small Psychic-type folds his arms, floating down to Vincent's side, glancing gravely back at the storm in front of him.
"At first, he felt defeated. When Chaos began to influence him, he saw no use in fighting it. It was much too powerful. And as time went on, he began to subconsciously realize the things that would come of his turn. And he knew, even if he didn't want to admit it to himself, that Eriah would also die because of it. This drove him into a rage, and Chaos took advantage of it."
Vincent doesn't move- doesn't even look at Cereos at this point, and just stares at the slowly growing cloud of chaotic energy. He finds it difficult to take in what he's learning, but the big picture begins to take form in his mind's eye.
"So you're saying Chaos drove him to this state with his own rage. Rage and guilt over what he's become. What's happened to the world, and to his only friend."
Cereos nods slowly. "It's self-defeating. And it's a terrible thought. The more angry Dialga becomes, the more Chaos takes over him. In turn, it only drives his rage further. The Primal Dialga you've seen will be as nothing before what you'll face later if this continues."
Vincent clenches his fists and runs back to the Sight Panel. "Dialga. Current time."
Cereos quickly turns to him, frantic to stop him when he hears his command, but he's too late. Around them, the scene is ripped away with a deafening roar and a great storm blows over them- a very real force taking hold now as everyone ducks down to avoid being blown off their feet. A low, bestial growl resonates throughout the chamber as Vincent looks into the Sight Panel. In it, he can see two glowing carmine eyes, staring back at him, almost entrancing him. He can't bring himself to look away even as it terrifies him unlike anything he's faced before.
The Mew darts to the panel and traces his paw counterclockwise around the dial. In turn, the spellbinding horror freezes instantly and fades away as the mist surrounding them falls back into the now-violent ripples of the pond. The panel fades to black once more, then returns to its serene, reflective, normal state as the pattern around it ceases its effulgent glow.
As the winds calm down, the group looks around, shaken and disoriented as Vincent stares at his own reflection, panting quickly. Cereos shakes himself and hovers back up to Vincent's level, looking at him dejectedly.
"We're done with this, Vincent. No more visions, okay?"
Christina stumbles to her feet and runs over to take hold of Vincent, turning him around to face her, boring her eyes into his. "Vincent...snap out of it already!"
He slowly comes to his senses, his mind returning to his eyes as he focuses his attention on his sister, then lets out an exhausted sigh and staggers backwards to lean against the shrine.
"I shouldn't have done that... What was I thinking?"
Cereos grumbles softly. "You weren't. That's the thing."
Serenity cautiously makes her way over to Vincent, looking up at him worriedly, and he looks down at her, still somewhat shaken. He pushes himself from the shrine and kneels down to face her, stroking her head tenderly. "I'm sorry... I'm sorry, everyone."
The Ninetales quietly rubs her muzzle into his hand in reassurance and he sighs breathlessly, taking a moment to compose himself. "Cereos. I know the Sylverstone has to be used to stablize Flare. But how do we use it?"
The Mew looks down at him as he idly hovers over the shrine, already having regained his bearing. "I can focus the Sight Panel back on the island. Your friend already did his part after Palkia sent him here. Once you leave here, Eriah needs to focus her power, and through the panel, she can cleanse the land of Chaos for just a short time. You'll need to go back there and reopen the gate to the Dusk Realm. From there, you're on your own."
Vincent nods and gazes into Serenity's soft blue orbs a moment more before standing up and turning back to Cereos. "Right. We'll go see her now then. The sooner we do this, the better."
The small, floating pokemon pouts at this, his childlike demeanor beginning to resurface, but nods to him. "Alright then." He mumbles something they have a hard time hearing, but Vincent can barely make out something along the lines of, "Guess I'll go back to being lonely..."
He goes over to the Mew and pats him lightly on the head, and Cereos appears to enjoy it at first, but then pulls away with almost a glare. "I don't need your sympathy. Go, already. You're running out of time."
Vincent smiles slightly to him, backing up. "Right... I'll see you again, Cereos. And thank you."
The Psychic-type folds his arms, watching as the group starts off out of the room. They've only made a little progress back when a ball of light flies out from behind them and down the tunnel, and Vincent immediately takes notice of it, running after it.
A while later, they finally make it outside the cavern to see Eriah lying in the clearing, waiting for them. As she sees them emerge, she gets up and looks down at Vincent, who runs over to her.
"Cereos said he'll start the link to the Flare Continent. You're going to have to use the Sylverstone to cast off the Chaos so we can go back there."
The black dragon nods in agreement and looks around at the island surrounding them as it begins to glow a faint, teal blue. Soon after, Eriah closes her eyes and begins to focus. The transparent stone on her chest starts shining, glowing brighter and brighter until she releases a pulse of azure blue energy across the land.
In response, the island, along with the several others around them, turns phosphorescent for several moments before fading back to normal.
Eriah winces slightly, obviously trying to hide her pain, and Vincent takes a step closer to her as she slowly opens her deep green eyes. "...Are you okay?"
The dragon softly growls with a slow nod. "I am fine. You needn't worry."
He sighs and extends his hand to pet her snout. "I know what'll happen if Dialga stays this way much longer. I know you're getting weaker."
Eriah snorts in response and nudges his hand back. "I have more than enough strength to survive a while longer. If you do this right, you won't need to worry about my well being. I assure you."
He stares up into her eyes a moment, slowly nodding and turns to the others. "We should go, before the island becomes unstable again."
Christina nods and Eriah lowers her back to let him on. He goes over to her side and peers down at Serenity, who walks over to him with a confident look. "You ready?"
The Ninetales gives a small nod and he reaches down to take her paw, pulling her up onto the dragon's back. He then climbs up next to her and watches as the others mount their dragons. "Alright, everyone. Hold on, because this is going to be a fast ride."
Eriah snorts and stands up again, spreading her wings out and flapping them quickly. She releases a gust of wind under her as she takes off into the air and immediately starts flying to the far north. The others are quick to follow, already prepared for the journey back.
The group takes no time to survey their surroundings and sets their focus solely on reaching Flare. But as they fly over the nearby Hoenn region, Vincent begins to sense something discomforting. He squints down below them to see what he believes to be the city of Lilycove. However, it's the small islands which are situated off its shore that draw his attention. He can't help but feel as though something had happened here...something tragic. The sinking feeling persists until they pass the islands and he looks back at Eriah.
"Hey... I need to ask-"
The dragon speaks up to interrupt him before he can continue. "Some things should not be delved into, Vincent. There was a great disaster which occurred here over a decade ago. Lucas is aware of it but has elected not to speak of it."
Vincent stares at her in silence, wondering just what she meant. But she clearly doesn't want to talk about whatever transpired, so he chooses not to pry further. He looks ahead as they eventually leave the region and over the open sea. Their journey goes on for a few more hours until a familiar landmass materializes in the distance, breaking the monotony of the deep blue sea stretching out in every direction beneath them.
As they approach the Flare Continent, they notice the gloomy state it's been reduced to since the last time they were there. Many of the stone formations have been scored and crumbled by Chaos in the short time they've been gone, and it looks as though a terrible natural disaster swept over the island, with large portions of the land blackened, charred by Chaos lightning.
Eriah soars on over the island, this time the others following closely behind as they gaze over the land. As they approach the Crescent Valley where the Temporal Seal is, Vincent feels a growing sense of foreboding building within him and closes his eyes, knowing what's coming over him, and what it means.
Like clockwork, a vision comes to Vincent, and he can see the Dusk Forest. Here, there are many pokemon gathered around a tall hill, and atop it, he can see Grovyle and what he can make out to be a pink Celebi standing near a large stone. In front of the stone, he can see the faint outline of a mystical gateway.
As he studiously surveys the land and creatures shown in the vision, he notices that Grovyle and Celebi appear to look back at him, which almost surprises him. However, he nods in reassurance and mutters quietly, "I'm coming..."
He opens his eyes to see the Temporal Seal ahead of them, and Eriah soon lands next to it. He dismounts her with Serenity, and the others get off their pokemon, watching as she slowly approaches the faint pattern in the ground. She stares at it intently for a moment and Vincent walks over to her side. "Eriah...?"
She takes a soft breath before turning to face him. "I'm ready."
He slowly nods and steps back. "And so are we."
The dragon moves over the Seal and stands at its center, and the Sylverstone begins to glow, followed by the figures XII and V on the pattern. She begins to speak in a quiet voice.
My name is Eriah, the Guardian of Sylverstone. I have come to pass into the other realm.
The Seal responds by flashing brightly and the black dragon steps forward off it, then turns back to watch as the pattern illuminates the darkness around them. Serenity steps closer but stops, stepping back when Eriah moves her large tail in front of her, and shakes her head at the fox pokemon.
As they watch, a beam of light shoots up from the center of the Seal, before expanding over it like before. Vincent and Eriah watch intently as the light eventually fades from white to a deep blue, then disperses a pressure wave across the island, causing them all to stumble backwards.
Vincent steps closer and examines the luminous beam as it holds itself together, apparently stable. "It worked... We've opened the gate."
Eriah nods slowly. "The Dusk Realm is now just a few steps away."
He stares at the light for a moment in thought, before reaching into his pocket. He turns around to face his companions, then walks over to Serenity and slowly kneels down, once more joining his eyes with hers.
"Serenity... I need you to stay here for the time being. Where I'm going, I can't have you getting in danger. My siblings have already accepted the dangers ahead but you aren't prepared to face them."
The Ninetales blinks in disbelief at what she hears, her ears flattening as she steps back, staring at him. She lets out a small whimper, crushing his heart. He sighs deeply, steeling himself, and continues.
"I'm sorry... But for now, you have to stay here and watch over the island with the others. I will go with my sisters and Raven, but some of you need to protect this place."
The fox pokemon shakes her head and looks at him with a hurt expression. "You're just saying that... You're not giving me the chance to help you and I may never see you again after this."
Vincent winces and clenches his fist in his pocket. Soon, he pulls his hand out and gazes back at her. "Serenity. We will see each other again. Please trust me."
She lowers her head with her eyes clenched shut, shuddering slightly, and he reaches over to place a familiar white necklace over her. The small, teardrop-shaped stone hangs off the lace now resting on her neck and she opens her weeping eyes to glance down at it, soaking in the sight.
"This will keep us together... It's one of many stones my father made for my family, and it's the last one remaining."
The Ninetales stares at the stone for a moment before gazing back up into his eyes, reflections of the heartbreak in her own as he stares intently into hers, barely holding back his own tears.
"I'm giving this to you, Serenity. I'm giving it to you as a promise that I will return. Will you accept it?"
After a time which seems like forever, she makes a slow nod, though her expression remains one of anguish. He leans over to wrap his arms around her in a firm, reassuring embrace. And she closes her eyes, rubbing her muzzle into his shoulder until he slowly, ever so tenderly, ever so reluctantly pulls back and gets to his feet.
As he looks over at his siblings and at Raven, they all step forward. They are wordless, solemn, sharing in his pain as they prepare to face his task, his great burden, together. After a few moments pass, he turns his gaze to the other pokemon and brings his hand up to take his own necklace in it, holding it firmly. In response, the other stones begin to radiate that familiar, soft, light-blue glow.
Serenity gazes back down to her necklace, moving her muzzle to press against it softly as she closes her eyes, her deep blue oceans of tears, once more.
Vincent soon lets go of his necklace and the others stop glowing after, and he turns back to Eriah. The dragon gives him a slow nod and he tightly, curtly returns it, before looking at the beam of light.
"This is it..."
Serenity opens her eyes to look at Vincent one more time as he and his companions step forward into the beam, passing into the gate which will lead them to a place she couldn't possibly imagine...a faraway place where she cannot follow. As they disappear into the light, she stares motionlessly, wordlessly for several moments, before turning her tortured, lonely gaze back down to her necklace, the only thing she has left of him in this realm. She tries her hardest to keep her composure, knowing that no matter how far away Vincent is, he will always be right there with her, in spirit...
-The second part of The Messanger of Time has come to an end. But the true story begins here.
Continue onto Part Three, where Vincent and his companions venture into an unknown realm and face their biggest challenge yet...-
To see Parts 3 & 4 of The Messanger of Time, go here! Look forward to the next part of the journey as the real story begins.