My Guardian Angel (PG-13) (Special Chapter 01 is up!)

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    Default My Guardian Angel (PG-13) (Special Chapter 01 is up!)

    Hiya! What better way to make my first post than by posting my fan fic? I hope you all enjoy reading it!

    Notes:

    PG-13: This story is rated PG-13 for violence, death, and some language here and there (nothing vulgar, though). There’s nothing in here extremely graphic, but there will be descriptive scenes.

    Legendaries: This fan fic revolves heavily around the Legendary Pokémon, and not just a few, but about a good 70% of them are involve in one way or another. If this isn’t your cup of tea, or you’re hoping for the Legendaries to take a back seat in the plot, I suggest you don’t read.

    Updates: I write slowly, very slowly, and then there are times where I don’t have time to write. If I don’t update in a while, it merely means I don’t have the time to write, not that I forgot or abandoned this story. Starting November though, I expect to be writing a lot more, so stay tuned for that!

    Comments: Comments are greatly appreciated. I’m having fun writing this, but it’s more fun to write it and know that other people are enjoying the ride as well. Even if you only read a snippet of a chapter or just browsed through a few lines, please comment; it’ll make my day. ^-^

    _____


    PM List

    - No one so far

    ______

    Chapter Index

    Book One: Threads

    Chapter 1: To Know Your Place
    Chapter 2: Proposition and Consequence
    Chapter 3: Where their Loyalties Lie
    Chapter 4: The Dividing War
    Chapter 5: Supernova
    Chapter 6: Foretaste

    _____

    My Guardian Angel


    Book One: Threads


    Chapter 1: To Know Your Place



    Against the black backdrop of the sky, shards of fine, crystalline ice flew from the passing comet and showered the night. The Hoenn air thrummed and vibrated as the colossal boulder of heated stone fell from space and into a deserted field off the coast of Gulf Kaiorga. The garnet trail of fire that had streaked across the sky and made the luminescent stars hazy flickered and eventually went out as the comet sizzled and cooled off in the ten-foot crater of charred earth and grass it had created.

    Curious Taillow flew from the canopies of the trees that dotted the vast meadow to inspect this oddity. Were Pokémon fighting, and this giant stone was the result of one of their attacks? Or were humans invading their home from above? They crowded around the massive rock, flat, yellow beaks to one side as they cocked their heads in interest. Their ruby chests and necks seemed to glisten with the strange, ethereal glow the copper comet emitted. Navy feathers began to puff out; forked tails twitched anxiously. This rock was strange, foreign… alien. The dozens of birds looked at each other with wide, jet-black eyes. Was investigating this weird object such a good idea?

    CRACK!

    The foot-tall Pokémon jumped into the air with ear-shattering shrieks. Even their high-pitched wails of fright, however, weren’t shrill or loud enough to drown out the series of cracks that splintered the air. Now high in the air, they checked the comet with panicky glances. On the boulder, they saw spider-web cracks that widened and grew until, eventually, slabs of rock began to split and fall to the ground. The air around the comet morphed from uncomfortably warm into the blistering heat that had consumed it when it was in flight. More animalistic screeches were let out as most of the Tiny Swallow Pokémon high-tailed it back to their safe nests. Those who lingered behind finally took flight when a teal-colored tentacle wiggled free from the meteor’s core.

    Soon, a ruby one joined in on the dance for freedom. Next, a green hand popped out. Together, the tentacles and the hand grasped either side of the comet, desperate to destroy the prison that still trapped the body they were attached to. Pulling as one, they caused the rock to grunt until, with a Herculean effort, the comet was split into two. Steam immediately rose when the core of the meteor, brimming with heat, was exposed to the Pokémon World’s cool air and breeze. The fog was blown away, though, when the creature inside rose into the air and greeted this new planet with pinprick pupils. His blue-green, oval head swiveled this way and that. The two trapezoid-shaped ears he bore were perked and alert. When it was clear that there was nothing around (other than the quivering foliage of trees), the alien landed outside the crater with thin and spindly legs. Deoxys, as he had always dubbed himself, looked down and quizzically felt the carpet of greenery. How strange, was his thought. Deoxys looked back at what had been his home for the past three years. The meteor looked just like how his asteroid home had after that nearby star collapsed: broken and empty. However, he was alive; he had survived, and maybe this strange, new rock could replace his home, even if its ground was soft and its stars weren’t so bright and close.

    The space dweller turned away from the cold pieces of stone at the bottom of the crater, the amethyst sphere in his chest reflecting the dying embers of his home, and began to rise into the air. With one last look at the field he had disturbed, Deoxys began to fly north, not knowing where he was going but positive that he could find somewhere to rest and recharge.

    For a long while, all he passed were forests teeming with Pokémon and more vacant fields. Once or twice, he stopped to inspect the creatures until they were scared enough to run back to their homes. They fascinated him, made him want to explore more. He had always been the only living thing in his small asteroid. Interacting with others, even if it was merely a “greet and run,” made him feel a bit less lonely.

    It wasn’t until he stumbled upon a village that his interest was truly piqued. Dozens of quaint wooden houses were spread along the area, most of them sporting fences that surrounded them and their acres of land. The dirt-paved roads were empty at this time of night, the windows of the houses dark. When he flitted around, he saw more of those Pokémon creatures huddled in the small, rectangular barns behind some of the houses. Although he saw some feathery creatures of orange asleep in wired coops outside the barns and chocolate-colored puffballs that sported two dozing heads near the rooftops, what really made him stop and stare were the pink creatures huddled in the middle of the fenced field. Plump and round, they were sleeping peacefully and unaware of the chilly gust that swept their home. Occasionally, the wind would make their long tails move, causing the bells at the ends to tremble a short tune before they went quiet again. Stray leaves would also pass and snag themselves on the two, small horns that protruded from each head; their four udders would wobble with each snore. Despite all of that, they slept on with no idea that a curious alien was creeping towards them.

    Deoxys descended into the swaying, canary-yellow crops on the other side of the Miltank herd, hesitant about coming any closer. Unlike the other Pokémon he had encountered, these were asleep, and he could observe them for a while if he was careful. He didn’t want to scare the bovine off by just popping in.

    Twin tentacles began to move the stalks of grain aside…

    “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” echoed a voice.

    Small pupils darted to the right and left until the foreign being figured out the words had come from behind him. Deoxys whirled around, tentacles and hand poised at his sides. Eyes narrowed as he saw the newcomer lazily float in the air. Yes, he was curious about what this foot-tall creature was, but anybody who managed to sneak up behind him was dangerous, as dangerous as those collapsing stars. The more he watched the bipedal, salmon-pink Pokémon hover in front of his face, the less curious and more alert he became. The crop stalks hardly moved when the creature’s long tail brushed against them, and those celestial blue eyes would never leave him, even when the stranger’s small and pointed ears twitched to some faraway sound. Not even he, Deoxys, could be so silent and stealthy.

    Finally, after an eternity of black and blue eyes locked together, the furry creature spoke. “Now that I have gotten your attention, let me introduce myself; I am Mew, one of the great Arceus’ oldest children.”

    Mew swept one of his short arms in a bow before straightening up again. Deoxys cocked his head, managing to understand the deity’s words but still confused as to why he was here. Mew floated in closer, his cerulean gaze no longer so humble. The wind that had blessed the farm seemed to still until all Deoxys could feel was the psychic’s presence; even the Miltank’s chiming bells could no longer be heard.

    “Since your landing on our planet, you have been watched by unseen eyes,” the New Species Pokémon breathed, then grinned when he saw Deoxys’ eyes widen in shock. Mew backed up but still kept his satisfied smirk; his tail curled around him, as though it was a snake slithering around its master. “We don’t know how things work where you come from, but we have an order here, one that you now must follow if you plan to stay.”

    Deoxys, though able to understand Mew’s speech after analyzing the language the Pokémon he met in the forest spoke, could not speak Pokémon tongue. Instead, he slipped out of his defensive position and inclined his head, showing he understood. Where else was he supposed to go if he was run out of this planet? He was not sure his body could endure another long trip through space. Luck had been on his side; no meteor showers or passing asteroids had hit him. What if his luck had been spent?

    The pink pixie widely smiled a smile of superiority. “The Council of Legends will be glad to hear you’ve agreed to listen.”

    Then, Mew flew up, high above the now swaying crops. Deoxys followed the Psychic-type’s movements with his eyes until Mew motioned with a flick of his tail for him to do the same. Cautiously, the alien floated up and joined the god at his side. Once again, Deoxys got the feeling of every living thing freezing to make Mew’s powerful presence known.

    “Do you see the mountain range in the horizon?” Mew asked, almost ethereally with the absense of a breeze.

    The ruby and aquamarine creature craned his head to see the ridges of brown, but a steady glow of lights on the other side of the mountains caught his eye. They bathed part of the night sky a milky-white, seemingly unwavering. Deoxys started in mid-air. Was that a star? By the blinding light that surrounded it, it looked liked it was about to collapse.

    Deoxys began to back up, only to be stopped by a force he couldn’t see. Limbs paralyzed and the orb in his chest dimming, Mew faced him and disapprovingly shook his head. His eyes, brimming with the psychic energy he wielded so easily, never left his face as he circled the trapped creature.

    “No, no, none of that,” he scolded in a condescending manner, unaware of Deoxys’ worries. Gazing back at the mountainous range before them, he continued to tell his captive, “There are a multitude of caves that you can hide in while the Council of Legends decides where to place you. You’ll be safe from humans, and there are no Pokémon in the mountains who will be able to bypass the shields I will place.”

    A series of unintelligible squeaks and screeches broke the quiet: Deoxys was trying to verbally communicate his protests since his body could not. Doduo began to stir from where they roosted. Miltank softly mooed, questioning why their sleep was being disturbed. Now sporting a deeply-etched frown, Mew snapped his fingers; Deoxys’s mouth was shut with an audible snap. In a deep crevice of his mind, Mew could imagine Arceus reprimanding him for being so harsh to this queer being. However, he didn’t care at the moment. The fact that a less powerful creature was disobeying his orders made him grind his teeth in anger.

    With his tail now whipping around his frame like a hissing Arbok, Mew narrowed his eyes and took hold of one of Deoxys' frozen tentacles.

    “I guess you will have to be taken there,” he sighed, as though forced to talk to a disobedient child. Mew shut his eyes in concentration, and right after he felt his power bubbling and coursing through both of them, their images flickered and disappeared with a twinkle of light.

    Deoxys sensed that he was tumbling and turning. Head spinning, he felt himself being compressed from many different directions, making him struggle for each breath. With his vision dark and his body still immobile, he could do nothing but stumble and fall into a heap when his frozen feet touched ground. Being roughly pulled up, Deoxys suddenly regained his mobility and vision. Immediately, without even taking a glance at the cave they had materialized in, the asteroid dweller flew away from Mew. His whole body still quivered from the deity’s psychic energy, a chilling reminder of how powerful Mew was, despite his childish appearance. The way Deoxys backed up to the rocky wall of the cave actually made his kidnapper chuckle.

    This is where you stay, for now,” the furry psychic said nonchalantly, indicating the damp walls, the stalactite-infested ceiling, and the stalagmite-covered floor. Deoxys looked around but was unable to see more than the dripping points of the structures through the blanket of darkness. He had lived on an asteroid, where stars and moons always bathed his home in a veil of light; why was this creature putting him in such a polar-opposite place? As anxious as he was, though, Deoxys was no fool, so he chose to stay quiet, merely breathing in the stale, unmoving air that suffocated him.

    “I’ll come back to announce what our verdict is.” Mew, invisible in the blackness, faced the direction the cave entrance was located at. Deoxys stared blankly at where he assumed his kidnapper was, then jumped back when a trail of glowing violet appeared a couple of feet away. The tendril of power avoided the rocky outcroppings with ease until it rounded a bend and disappeared a second later. A glimmer of light that stopped to steadily let out a sheen of fuchsia told Deoxys that the barrier Mew had mentioned was in place.

    “Stay here,” were the final words he heard before, just like that, he was left in his grim prison.

    _____


    Even when Mew Teleported into Arceus’ Chamber, the biggest and most elaborate room in the Hall of Origin, and let out a disgruntled sigh, not a sound could be heard. The Species Pokémon gazed at the moon-white walls and the granite pillars that stretched thirty-feet high to connect with the sloped dome that was the ceiling. Already he felt the dampness and decay of the cave fade away to become a distant memory in his mind. With the light that shone from the curved windows of the ceiling warming his fur, the ancestor of all Pokémon floated beyond the six pillars in front of him (the ones that formed a circle in the middle of the room) and into the center of the chamber, where the golden outline of a star invaded a part of the smooth, limestone floor.

    Immediately, he heard the clicking of talons and the flap of wings from up above. Ho-Oh and Lugia, perched on two of the six pillars that did not connect with the ceiling, let their conversation die to gaze at him, silver and rainbow-colored feathers glimmering as they craned their heads. Celebi jumped down from on top of a pillar and became a blur of emerald as she descended towards the floor in a lazy spiral. The small hedgehog that was Shaymin wrinkled her nose when the pixie of time fluttered too close for comfort and scurried towards Cresselia, who was floating beside her grim counterpart, Darkrai. Jirachi shook her head with a small smile and went over to comfort Manaphy, who had been frightened by Celebi’s dizzying antics.

    Of course, no matter how many Legendaries there were in the room, the pixie of ancestry could never ignore the great god in the center. With his flowing silver fur putting the polished walls to shame, their ten-foot-tall father was automatically the center of attention.

    Then again, Mew thought, his spinning, golden wheel that encircles his waist and the four jades on each point always seem to magnify his majestic features.

    “Arceus,” Mew addressed the Alpha Pokémon when he halted in mid-air. He gave a bow and held it, allowing him a view of the god’s pointed, topaz hooves. “I talked to the alien, as you requested.”

    Every member of the Council of Legends drew in closer, their breaths hushed.

    Was this strange creature a danger to Johto if he was allowed to stay? Lugia and Ho-Oh thought as one.

    Was this alien powerful enough to possibly become a Legend? Celebi thought with a deep scowl on her face. The prospect of ruling alongside one who wasn’t even a Pokémon was a sour one.

    Could this foreigner possibly take advantage of the weaker creatures in this world? Cresselia wanted to know.

    “Please, do not jump to conclusions,” their quadruped leader calmly told them. As their father, he could feel their agitated thoughts, their worries, and immediate mistrust as though they were his own. His children relaxed though still shared meaningful glances. When it was clear their minds were relatively silent, Arceus returned to Mew. “What have you observed?”

    The Kanto pixie straightened and said with a hint of boredom, “This alien is like a human child: curious and lost. He doesn’t seem too intelligent or resourceful.” Mew inclined his head to the side, a frown now stretched taut over his face; he was clearly frustrated that he didn’t have Deoxys completely figured out. “Power wise, it’s hard to tell. Even when my Psychic immobilized him, I could not delve into his mind to see how powerful this creature is. If I was able to, I might have also been able to decipher his strange language. I did manage to catch the name “Deoxys” very briefly through telepathy, however.” With a final sigh, Mew was done.

    Not a minute had stretched of silence before Lugia spread his three-tipped wings and descended carefully to the ground. His long tail swished back and forth in his anxiousness, the two navy-colored spikes at the end threatening to send Shaymin and Jirachi flying. “We cannot allow this creature, this “Deoxys,” to stay,” he gruffly voiced. His coal-black eyes glittered with determination, and the two rows of blue spikes along his back were raised. Craning his long and elegant neck, he saw Ho-Oh, still on the pillar, nodding in agreement. “To underestimate his power is foolish. Who’s to say he’s not masking his abilities? Johto can lie in ruins if we’re too proud and dismiss the possibility.”

    Cresselia came forward, the violet, celestial rings attached to her sloped back and arms shining while the twin crescents on either side of her head glowed like stars against the sky. Raising her yellow beak towards the Johto trio masters, she nodded to them before saying, “Lugia and Ho-Oh make a convincing argument. By disregarding this otherworldly being solely on Mew’s account, Pokémon and humans alike will be endangered. If we force Deoxys to return to space, we can avoid any possible catastrophes.”

    Arceus acknowledged her words with a bow of his own head, then saw that the shadows next to him shivered and moved. He gracefully moved to let Darkrai have the floor. The Pitch-Black Pokémon let his forest-green orbs sweep over the Council of Legends, as though they all opposed his unspoken thoughts, then focused on Cresselia. The ruby spikes around his neck bristled ever so slightly; the billowing white shadows on his head lengthened. “Should we run out Deoxys, without evidence that he’s the monster you’re speculating, simply because he could endanger the humans?” Darkrai sent a sharp glare towards Lugia and Ho-Oh, the tattered edges of his body wildly flapping with unseen wind. “Wasn’t it humans who destroyed the Tin Tower? Isn’t it humans who pollute the lakes that Suicune purifies?”

    Ho-Oh flapped her garnet wings so hard that the emerald tips threatened to fall. Like a flaming phoenix, the Rainbow Pokémon landed on the chamber’s floor. With golden tail feathers fanned out behind her, Ho-Oh regarded the nightmare creator with a steely, amber gaze. “Do not drag your past into Council affairs, Darkrai! You know perfectly well you were banished from Alamos Town due to your own nightmare-spreading frenzy.”

    Fisting his hands, the Sinnoh Legendary growled, “You seem to forget that at the time there had been a hallucination-inducing sickness spreading. My nightmares were simply amplified, although it seems that humans and you neglect to take their epidemic into account.”

    Shaymin hopped closer to the center but was unable to ask her brethren to cease their feuding. As powerful as she was, to be looked down upon by the others, especially those already with heated tempers, made her lime-green fur and the lilac flower nestled among it shake. The Gratitude Pokémon turned her white snout towards Arceus, but the god merely stood back and watched his children settle it out. Manaphy beside her also stayed back and settled for twirling her antennae with her flippers and watching the ends glow. The blood-red gem on her cerulean abdomen flickered, meaning she was unsure about what to do about the quarrels as well.

    “Shouldn’t we consider the fact that Deoxys could be capable of intelligent conversation? That we may be able to understand him?”

    Jirachi floated to the scene, much to Shaymin’s relief. Long, butterscotch-yellow tassels fluttered behind her small gray body as she rose into the air and faced her quarreling brothers. “Is it really fair to choose Deoxys’s faith for him if he is able to communicate?” The wish granter turned when someone slightly scoffed, making the two teal wish tags on her star-shaped head flutter.

    Celebi, who had been silent behind Mew until now, came forward. The cerulean-tipped antennae in his swept, green hair bobbed with his scornful chuckles. Delicate filmy wings flittered as the time traveler joined the Council. “Jirachi, tell me if I have missed your point completely,” hints of sarcasm were evident in his tone and in his china-blue eyes, “but exactly what would the Pokémon world gain if we let this creature stay? Even the weakest Pokémon have something to contribute. This Deoxys hasn’t shown a speck of usefulness, yet you are offering to let him choose his position in the matter?”

    The Hoenn Legendary frowned for only a second before composing herself. “What I’m merely saying, Celebi, is that we should not judge Deoxys’s mental capacity without a second thought to the matter. Yes, he may not seem resourceful, powerful, or useful now, but by observing him longer, we may come to a sensible and thought-out conclusion-”

    “Is that what you really want, Jirachi?” barked Ho-Oh, the golden feather crest on her head bouncing with each harsh word. “Do you really want to let Deoxys stay long enough for him to be able to show what’s he capable of? At what cost would that be? Destroyed towns? Interference with weather patterns? Possible time rips? All for the sake of deciding whether he can stay or not?” Lugia brushed his wing against his counterpart’s to sooth her sizzling temper.

    “No, it is not,” the Wish Pokémon responded curtly. Jirachi tiredly rubbed the top point of her head, the only point that did not harbor a wish tag, and looked over at Arceus. She respected his decision in keeping out of Council matters (other than giving the final verdict in decisions), but she wished that he would assert his authority over his children more often. Maybe that way, Council meetings would not turn into battles of self-interest and prejudice.

    “We cannot endanger the Pokémon and human populace merely to welcome in a curious alien,” the Time Travel Pokémon drawled. “It is, after all, our duty to protect this world.”

    Shaymin growled beneath her breath as Jirachi, taken aback at her sister’s cynicism, formed an uncharacteristic scowl and began to say, “We are not welcoming anybody, yet we are not supposed to rightly refuse someone a chance to establish themselves on Earth.”

    “Our duties don’t always allow us to be fair with everybody,” Mew replied loudly so that his voice echoed against the pristine walls of the chamber for everybody to hear. Calm and cool, he hovered beside Celebi and continued, only the slightly narrowing of his eyes betraying his kind façade, “We must put Earth and its inhabitants first and foremost in all of our decisions, not outsiders. You cannot allow kindn…”

    The Kanto Legendary trailed off. His whip-like tail stiffened when a horrendous chill ran down his spine. Small ears flew back at the same time Mew let an undignified snarl rise from his throat. Dismissing Jirachi with a mental flap of his hand, he faced Arceus, bowed, and said with a hint of a growl, “My barrier has been shattered. Deoxys has escaped.”

    Arceus nodded once, his jade eyes troubled.

    _____


    Panic made Deoxys’ heart flutter in his chest. Though knowing he shouldn’t, the alien looked back.

    Amethyst glittered all over the cave mouth he had just left, remnants of the barrier that had kept him prisoner. Rocks had turned to pebbles and pebbles to dust before he had managed to exert all his power and escape. Was he tired? Deoxys wasn’t sure. Adrenaline coursed through his veins and kept him flying farther away from the ocher mountain range. Yes, he was out, but did that mean he was in the clear? He bet his tentacles that he wasn’t.

    Water had stretched below him, calm and undisturbed, but now, a mass of land took its place, along with a flare of bright, and familiar, light. Deoxys halted and let out some frightened calls that pierced the air. He had been so hell-bent on escaping the cave before Mew could notice, so afraid he would be taken again, that he hadn’t noticed he had been flying right into the heated star that was ready to implode. Frozen with fear and indecision, he looked back at the mountain range then towards the halo of light that seemed to touch the dark sky. The double-edged sword loomed in his mind’s eye, spinning and spinning close. Would getting incinerated be better than whatever Mew had in store for him?

    Deoxys chanced a look below him, automatically squinting to see through the blinding glare. Were those creatures moving down there? Moving in the core of a boiling star? Despite every nerve of his body telling him to fly the opposite way, Deoxys inched closer; he faintly noticed that he didn’t feel the heat of the celestial light. Yes, there were creatures moving around the rectangular, silver protrusions of the star! The space dweller felt his mind flip in shock. How was it possible?

    Suddenly, Deoxys was propelled backwards by an invisible gust. Flipping before stopping when the shock of the hit dwindled, he steadied himself and wildly looked around for his attacker. He caught sight of a green serpent, its blood-red fangs bared and the yellow rings adorning its spiked body glowing with rage, before another Air Slash nicked him in the abdomen and sent him spinning downward. Rayquaza, ruler of Hoenn’s skies, clenched his three-clawed hands and followed his target. His spade tail swished as he stopped himself in mid-descend; an aurora had appeared in the night sky.

    As the otherworldly lights of purple and pink danced alongside the stars, Deoxys began to change, the sphere in his chest going out. His tentacles and hands thickened into slabs as thick as his body but as flexible as his first limbs. Spindly legs bulged as his chest and head hardened and grew until the alien was encased in a suit of red and green armor. The violet orb flared to life and was ready to serve its Master’s Defense Forme.

    Rayquaza snorted in indignation, the emerald plates on his body spinning while the twin, flat-ended spikes on his head twitched. “You dare trespass in my domain, no doubt to attack the fair city of LaRousse, and then mock me by putting on disguises?” he roared, fire-yellow eyes on the verge of smoldering. All twenty-three-feet of him bristled as he reared and let loose a torrent of sapphire energy.

    Deoxys shielded his body with his broad arms. Specks of burning blue and white showered his head. While he closed his eyes and felt the specks burning his face, his arms unpleasantly tingled. Ignoring the smell of charred skin, Deoxys endured the last of the Dragon Pulse before beginning to flee towards the city. The Sky High Pokémon snarled at the sight and flicked his tail. A gust picked up around him, its chilly breeze doing nothing to cool his out-of-control temper, and with another slap of his tail, it was sent cantering towards the scared foreigner.

    Deoxys felt himself be picked up by the Twister, then tossed around as the currents grew faster and stronger, eventually merging into walls of spiraling white that never let him go. The captive, curled into a protective ball, saw from the center of the twenty-foot-high funnel a blur of green coming his way; those electric eyes, already envisioning him at the bottom of the ocean, left him with no doubt.

    He was going to have to fight for his freedom.

    Tendrils of fuchsia wove through the threads of night a second time. Deoxys’ bulky arms thinned into two tentacles while his head lengthened back into an aerodynamic spike. Chest and legs were now thinner and raven-black. His jewel began to glow and power his Speed Forme.

    Tentacles whipped about his head, too fast to be effected by the violent gusts that swirled all around him. Then his body began to spin in unison and against the Twister’s current. The wind fluctuated and began to unweave itself from the tight cone it had shaped. Wobbling as though on a shaking spindle, the Twister collapsed and thinned out until only wisps of air caressed Deoxys’ face. Seeing the trespasser close his eyes for a second of bliss made the dragon’s blood boil. With a malicious grin, he slithered towards the morphing creature and clamped down his midnight-black jaws…

    On nothing.

    The serpent started, and calculating eyes searched the sky for the red menace. Before Rayquaza could draw a breath, tentacles were wrapped and tightened around his windpipe. Deoxys straddled himself on the beast’s neck and refused to let go. The deity roared in anger and haphazardly flew around to try and buck the alien. With the wind beating his face, Deoxys flipped forward, his grip on the Legendary still strong. Infuriated eyes narrowed into slits when Rayquaza found Deoxys now sitting on his snout.

    “You cowardly little-!”

    Then all the hot-blooded Flying-type could see was stars, his head ringing from the Zen Headbutt that had cut off his rant. Deoxys reared back in pain, cringing and mentally cursing himself for not realizing that a recoil was obvious when he was so close to Rayquaza. Magenta sparks still dancing around his head, the Psychic-type flew high into the air and looked down, then quickly regretted it.

    The speedy alien looked away, but it did not clear the horrible image that had assaulted his eyes. With fangs alight with the aurora above, he saw them for all their ganet glory. Their points, sharpened into non-existent ends, had been dripping with saliva as thick as the fury in his horrible, golden eyes.

    BAM!

    With the Scary Face still etched into his mind, Deoxys felt himself falling. As gravity took him to the unforgivable ocean below, pain wove its way through his chest. The sticky, neon-green liquid that was his blood sluggishly dripped down from the slash on his neck and down towards the cracked gem in his chest. Deoxys raised a tentacle to the orb, feeling its energy dim, spreading weakness and exhaustion throughout his body. Not daring to touch the throbbing wound that wound around his throat, he struggled to stop his descent, forcing his eyes to stay open and scout for his enraged foe.

    There he was, circling above him like a vulture at high noon. Fangs were split into a satisfied smirk as Rayquaza watched the outsider steady himself. That expression screamed that he wouldn’t be let go, not until ten thousand leagues separated Deoxys from the sky. Green and garnet tentacles twitched with mixed emotions. On top of fearing for his life, he was outraged that everybody on this planet wanted to control him, subdue him. Was he being here such an enormous inconvenience? Or were they all simply trying to eliminate any outside competition they saw in order to keep whatever hierarchy of power they had in this planet intact?

    It didn’t matter. He had traveled for light years, through forming galaxies and asteroid belts, in order to find a place he could call home.

    This place was it, and he wasn’t going to be forced back into space, to be cold and alone, by this beast!

    Extremespeed propelled him towards the snake that dared run him from his home. The wind that had whistled with his fall went silent until he no longer felt a breeze. His beating heart, Rayquaza’s breathing, all had disappeared in the vacuum his attack created. Even the tremendous thump! that reverberated when the Dragon-type was sent flying had been totally muffled. When Deoxys did stop, the black that surrounded him returned to be the night sky. The gentle lap of waves returned, followed by his enemy’s now labored breathing. So riled up he was that it took him a moment to realize that shimmering, broken dragon scales were raining down.

    By that time, the silhouette of Arceus caught his eye. Hidden behind a haggard and fuming Rayquaza, he came towards Deoxys with the calm aura that made the asteroid dweller lower his writhing appendages. As effortlessly as though he had wings instead of hooves, the Alpha Pokémon hovered between the two beings.

    “That outsider should be punished!” spat the sky ruler. Although hunched up to stop the aching on his bruised side, he still bared his fangs and narrowed his eyes with every word. “How dare he come upon LaRousse with his evil intentions. If not for me-!”

    “You,” his creator cut in, authority ringing in that single word, “should have been with the rest of the Council, as I had asked. Ruler of the heavens you may be, your duties as a Legendary are just as important. Besides, Groudon and Kyogre can guard Hoenn for the time you are gone.”

    Arceus flew towards Deoxys, glancing from the rivulets of green blood that ran down the side of his neck to the lithe body that had managed to stand against Rayquaza’s own.

    “If you choose to stay here, you must obey the laws of our world. Though it’s still not certain whether you will be allowed to make your home on Earth, I will lead you to a place where you may rest and live away from the rest of the Pokémon. Foreigner you may be, you do not deserve this hostility.”

    “Home on Earth… rest of the Pokémon…”

    Deoxys stared then nodded numbly. The aurora above LaRousse faded away when he morphed back to his Normal Forme. Maybe, just maybe, these “Pokémon” creatures weren’t all so bad, if he managed to stay away from those that were.

    “What about you, Arceus?” Rayquaza asked at length. “Haven’t you abandoned your duties if you are here?”

    “Do not worry. I assigned Mew and Celebi temporary charge. As my oldest and wisest children, they will make sure the meeting will continue as smoothly as it should.”

    _____


    A/N: Deoxys will show up later, but he won't have any major apperances until much later in the story. With that aside, comments and criticism are greatly appreciated! ^-^

    Next chapter? The Council meeting goes on, but Mew and Celebi decide to touch upon a different, more controversial topic that may very well endanger the human race.
    Last edited by Phantom Kat; 14th June 2010 at 08:38 PM.

  2. #2
    WhatWasOnceIsNoLongerWere Phantom Kat's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Guardian Angel

    Chapter 2: Proposition and Consequence



    For a while, silence reigned over Arceus’ Chamber. The Legendaries looked at each other in mute shock before redirecting their gazes at the spot their father had disappeared from. None of them really thought that Deoxys was capable of such power, even when they considered the fact that he had survived a travel through space. To break through Mew’s barrier (or obliterate it, as some of them saw it) was something only a select few could hope to manage. And then, they realized with a start, he had enough power still to hold his own against Rayquaza, the most ruthless of their brethren. It wasn’t until the psychic remnants of Arceus’ portal settled to the floor and disappeared that a deity finally spoke.

    “That alien,” Ho-Oh managed to say, his regal features stuck somewhere between fury and awe. “That alien…” She trailed off, not knowing how to put what just happened into words. Instead, Ho-Oh straightened and screeched to her kin, “See what this Deoxys is capable of?! He bypassed Mew’s barrier, faced Rayquaza, and lived to tell about it!” Lugia quieted his sister and decided to continue the declaration in a calmer manner.

    “Deoxys is powerful. Dare I say it, as powerful as some of us here. Now that we know what he’s capable of, do we still want him on Earth?”

    The trio master directed his last question towards Mew and Celebi, the only ones not gathered around the center. Now, though, both pixies rose into the air and hovered above their siblings. The creases in their brows and the firmness of their chins had not changed since Arceus named them the Council’s temporary leaders.

    “Do you not see?” Mew asked of his brothers and sisters with a slight shake of his head. “Did you not hear Arceus’ words as he projected them to our minds? Deoxys’ fate has already been sealed; Father decided upon having the alien join us as a Pokémon. Is there any use in foregoing this meaningless debate?”

    None could deny Arceus’ words just as no one could deny his fatherly nature. With what Deoxys had been through, Arceus was sure to treat him as his own child; even some of the Legends sympathized for Deoxys’ wounds and shook their heads at their brother’s horribly violent nature.

    “Now,” Celebi announced, stoic expression morphing into a satisfied smirk. “Mew and I have a more pressing matter to attend to, one that involves humans rather than Pokémon. I am, of course, talking about Purgatory.”

    With all eyes on her, the time manipulator ascended and seated herself on a pillar’s top. Feeling very much like a queen upon her throne, she nonchalantly waved a hand in the air. “Purgatory, as we all know, is a world separate from our fair Heaven,” Celebi motioned to the Hall of Origin, the center of the world above the clouds, “and from Earth.”

    As Mew joined Celebi at her side, Jirachi floated back towards the shadows and pursed her lips in disapproval. They were delivering their “proposal” as though reciting a script. Exactly for how long were they thinking about this?

    “Purgatory,” Mew continued, unaware of the wish granter’s thoughts, “is used to hold human souls until their one-on-one Judgment with Arceus. Will they be reincarnated as humans, as Pokémon, forced to be the servants of Death’s minions, allowed permanent residence in Heaven, or destroyed?”

    Mew’s becoming playful, Jirachi noted, the pillars’ shadows hiding her scowl. Which means he’s enjoying whatever they’re planning.

    “However, despite the efforts of Arceus, Death, and his Dusknoir guards,” contempt rang when Mew mentioned the Grim Reaper then quickly disappeared, “too many souls are accumulated in the dimension, and with more and more humans dying in their Region War in Johto, souls are going to spend centuries in Purgatory. Those of sinful humans get worse, and those of the pure are stained by them.”

    “Our proposition,” Celebi picked off before the Legendaries could speak, “is to destroy those sinful souls without Arceus’ Judgment, thus sparing the pure and keeping Purgatory orderly.”

    Jirachi could feel her jaw dropping open in shock and outrage. Before she banish the surprise and react, Darkrai chuckled hollowly.

    “I must say,” he remarked, sounding as gleeful and snide as Celebi had moments ago. “That has to be the most remarkable idea either of you have ever proposed.”

    Cresselia frowned at the smile her counterpart wore. Their relationship had always been shaky, for their views conflicted since their creation, and now, she cocked her head with a cynical glare. “Enlighten me on exactly how this idea is so magnificent,” she commanded dryly.

    The Dark-type didn’t miss the look. Instead of countering with his own, sarcastic remark, he spoke while motioning with his hands, “A sinful soul will always be a sinful human, even when their memories are wiped when reincarnated.” It wasn’t fact but merely his opinion. To his advantage, it was also Cresselia’s, who always looked out for humanity to try and keep them all as pure as possible. “Do you want those sinful souls to be reincarnated again and again to plague towns and cities? If what Mew says is true, pure souls will turn sinful in Purgatory, which will just make this cycle deadlier.”

    The Lunar Pokémon, for the first time in a long while, could not find something in Darkrai’s words to complain or correct. Cresselia tilted her head in thought until she finally found the words she was looking for. She agreed with everything he said, but that didn’t mean she had to admit it so bluntly. “There might be truth to your words, Darkrai,” she carefully said (Cresselia saw the Pitch-Black Pokémon give an all-knowing grin). “But how do we go about deciding which souls have sinned? Arceus has been the solve giver of Judgments since time began.”

    Again Jirachi opened her mouth to speak, and again her chance was snatched away.

    “Isn’t it obvious?” Ho-Oh asked loudly, slightly annoyed. “Mew and Celebi have already thought about that. They are the ones who are going to make those extra Judgments. Arceus is likely to say yes, seeing as how they are his first created.”

    “Do you have any other candidates in mind?” Mew offered, arms crossed.

    The phoenix chuckled and shook her head. “No I don’t, so you don’t have to get off your pedestal. As long as you don’t get rid of half of Purgatory’s population at once, I have no qualms.”

    “Yes,” Cresselia agreed. “As long as the sinning souls are disposed of with no mass wipeout, I suspect that this will be very beneficial.”

    “Sounds good, sounds good,” Manaphy chorused, no longer quiet now that the majority of the Legendaries agreed. She admired her older brothers and sisters and trusted their judgment more than her own.

    “Enough! Absolutely not!” Jirachi finally cried, her long, butterscotch tassels billowing behind her like flames when she soared to the center of the chamber. Jirachi locked her eyes with Mew and Celebi (both unaffected by the dragger-like glare) and then to the rest of the Council. “You are proposing to destroy souls, what Arceus reserves only for the truly horrible, to simply stop them from mingling with the ones you consider pure?! We cannot, will not, resort to a holocaust because of bias.”

    The dual-type looked over to Shaymin, who was staring up at her with wide, green eyes. Jirachi’s confidence waned at the sight. Yes, her Grass-type friend was shy and timid when among the oldest Legendaries, but she still expected her to back her up. Still, Jirachi’s determined voice rang when she demanded, “Do you, Shaymin, also see that this is not the way to fix Purgatory? That this is a crazy notion!”

    Though her snow-white face hid it well, the Gratitude Pokémon blanched. Shell-shocked, her stare automatically went to the two Legends running the show. Mew and Celebi simultaneously raised brows, challenging the smallest of their siblings to defy them. Their cold, stony expressions made Shaymin shirk back. They were centuries older than her, and every wise and powerful year shone in their narrowed eyes. Young and inexperienced as she was, was it smart to speak against them?

    “Shaymin…”

    Turning, the hedgehog met Jirachi’s amber eyes. It wasn’t the betrayal in them that stung her heart but the plead that laid in their depths. To see Jirachi so vulnerable and knowing she was the cause was too much for Shaymin to bear. She guiltily lowered her eyes and said nothing.

    “I will inform Arceus of our decision, then,” Mew announced. “Sinned souls will be Judged and disposed off in an orderly manner to bring order to Purgatory.” He paused and glanced at the chamber’s occupants. “This meeting is over. Thank you all for your time.”

    Shaymin looked up, an apology forming on her lips, but Jirachi had already teleported away without a simple farewell.

    _____


    Jirachi had never been one for violence, but the moment she got away from Heaven, she wanted to slam her fist against a wall again and again until it crumbled. Frustration, betrayal, and anger coursed through her veins like white fire, making the two wish tags on her headdress tremble. Fisting her hands, the Legend took a couple of deep breaths and calmed down. She was not Rayquaza or Ho-Oh, who resorted to violence when faced with blood-boiling situations. Jirachi was calm, level-headed, and dealt with problems in a rational manner.

    With that mindset, the Steel-type looked around her, slightly comforted by the cave she called home sweet home. But again, she didn’t want to wallow in her emotions. There was a half-formed plan weaving in between her thoughts, one that she would have called desperate at any other time, and going through with it might help solve this mess. Jirachi flew past the glowing, green crystals embedded in the rocky walls, past the trickle of water that filled the small pond at the center of her home, and to the forest outside. Flying through the tree canopies that hid the cave entrance, she hovered at the edge of the thick forest.

    Morning was breaking on the horizon, but the cluster of trees and their leafy foliage blocked out the thin rays of growing sunlight. The giant, deathly-still grass was covered in shadows as dark as the nearly-black trunks of the trees. Somewhere among all of the plants, there were Bug Pokémon; she could hear their morning chatter all around, like a never-ending symphony that did not want to be found. If the overgrown canopies didn’t cast enough of a shadow, the mountain in which her home was carved into blanketed the area in velvet-black.

    “I’ll be back,” she told the forest and its unseen singers. A small part of her didn’t even want to go. It would be so easy to just go along with the rest of the Legends’ decision.

    Then Jirachi remembered the conniving glint in Mew and Celebi’s eyes and dismissed the ridiculous idea.

    She breathed in the smell of oak and rot before holding her short hands before her. Jirachi called upon every star, every moon, and every galaxy hidden behind the sun’s glare into the tips of her fingers. Power she had only wielded a handful of times flooded into her palms, lighting them up like miniature suns. Closing her eyes, the psychic envisioned the invisible veil that separated Earth from her destination. With the celestial energy in her hands, she brushed her fingers against the air and could feel the barrier. She felt death, sin, and the purity of all the souls that had passed from this world to the next. Goosebumps rose all along her arms; her wish tags stood on end.

    Jirachi moved her hands counterclockwise, tracing a circle to carefully undo the seams of the barrier. Although her ability to manipulate space allowed her to do so, the barrier still fought her, screaming, You are not Death! You are not his servants! Why do you wish to enter, stranger? But she kept on until she had completed the portal and left her home to enter Purgatory.

    “I will not be long,” she told the portal. Through the beads of sweat that trickled down her forehead and into her eyes, she saw the tattered edges of the veil flapping, revealing and obscuring the forest scenery on the other side. With some flicks of her wrist, the edges slithered to the center of the opening and wound around themselves until only the light of Earth could be seen through the cracks. Though it was safer, she dared not completely close it; what if she was too tired to create a new portal after her business was taken cared of?

    It wasn’t until she was sure that the gap between Purgatory and Earth was strong enough to keep souls and Pokémon out yet weak enough for someone of her power to re-open it without too much trouble that she noticed the odd sheen of red on her hands. Startled, she turned them but found it wasn’t blood. When the glow was seen on her abdomen and legs, Jirachi was quick enough to figure out that the source of color was coming from up above.

    A scarlet and orange sky greeted her to this strange and new dimension. The wisps of gray that never seemed to move did nothing to remind her of the sky on Earth. Shaking her head to clear the cobwebs of gloom from her thoughts, Jirachi looked at either side of her. To her right, she saw a mountain range that she could not help but compare to Rayquaza’s fangs: sharp and a blood-stained garnet. Beneath the landmarks, there was nothing but barren fields of hard, cracked earth.

    While the scene on the left wasn’t much better, there was some kind of spiral that reached for the sky. The hesitant Pokémon took off in that direction, knowing from talks with Arceus that Death lived in a tower of some sort. The flight was dreary and tedious, as there was nothing to see except mile after mile of desolate land. Once or twice, she could have sworn that she saw a human walking below her, but upon a second glance, the wandering soul was gone like the nonexistent wind in Purgatory. As though to reassure her that she wasn’t going crazy, she spotted Dusclops guards every couple of minutes. Their gray, stocky bodies stuck out like sore thumbs over the yellow plains.

    At least they’re always there in case I need directions, she couldn’t help but think tartly. She had spent less than an hour in Purgatory and already the scenery (or lack thereof) annoyed her to no end. She loved lush, secluded forests and the freeness of outer space, not this dimension that made her feel as though she was trapped in some twisted, frozen hourglass.

    With no warning, the flat desert beneath her dipped to form a large and deep valley. Here, she saw souls, all of them in the guises of the humans they once were, walking around the village hidden in the deep bowl of earth. Jirachi, startled by the sight of the wooden houses, complete with fences, gardens, and mailboxes, stopped dead in her tracks. If it wasn’t for the gruesome sky, the parched terrain, and the Dusclops guards and their servants around every corner, she would have thought she had accidentally taken a wrong turn and ended up back on Earth. Things like leisure conversations going on in the streets and kids playing in their yards could be seen everywhere. They had work buildings, churches, and schools (all of them worn and weather-beaten as though they had been taken straight from their places on Earth) to allow them to live life as they would have before their deaths. The souls didn’t even seem to see the guards or the world they lived in as they went about their “lives.”

    All of it boggled the Legendary’s mind until she focused on the tower at the far end of the valley. Flying above houses and buildings, she reached the odd structure. With stones a decaying gray, it started normally enough with a thick, wooden door built into the cylindrical base. When she slowly flew up, the tower veered off to the right, then to the left, then back again like a drunken serpent. In the process, the tower walls ranged from missing some bricks to having nothing but the twisting, stone stairwell inside. Jirachi shot towards the room on the tower’s tip, which was curiously enough intact (even the pointed roof had most of its dusty-red shingles). Dodging the bricks that had decided to separate from the walls and stairwell to float around, she perched on the sole window of the room. Unsure of how to announce her presence, she tried knocking on the stone, but when she heard the knock was quieter than a pin drop, Jirachi decided to call out into the dark room.

    “Hello?” she tried. “I’m sorry to disturb you, Death, but I need to urgently talk to you. It’s of grave importance.”

    There was no answer. Jirachi leaned in, squinting against the overwhelming gloom that covered every inch of the place. Other than a faint, metallic glint in one of the walls, there was nothing but black, black, and more black.

    “Hello?” the Legendary repeated, more hesitant than ever.

    Again, only silence answered. Putting a hand against the window’s edge and the other on her forehead, Jirachi mentally slapped herself for her stupidity. It hadn’t even crossed her mind that Death might be out collecting souls or attending pressing matters in other parts of Purgatory. She might be waiting for weeks, even months, for him to return; she could already imagine countless souls destroyed by that time.

    "Yes?”

    With a yelp, Jirachi jumped back from the Pokémon that suddenly materialized in her face. Almost tripping on her tassels, she gripped the side of the window and straightened herself with as much dignity as someone who had just been scared senseless could muster.

    “Good day,” she greeted the phantom inside the room. The red eye centered in his cylindrical head narrowed as the three silver spikes on either side of his neck flared out; he was not happy. He rose higher into the air, exposing his rotund, dark gray stomach and the golden zigzag on it that stretched into a frown. Getting a glare from both his ruby eye and the two yellow ones on his abdomen, Jirachi decided to square her shoulders and respond with her own, firm look.

    “Death,” Jirachi addressed the Dusknoir. “I have something urgent to discuss with you. It has to do with something the Council of Legends agreed upon no more than a few hours ago. I-”

    “I have no interest in talking with you, Jirachi,” Death told her. He turned and flapped a thick, gray hand to her as parting. “Good day to you, too,” he added sarcastically.

    Jirachi grinded her teeth at the slap to the face. She was not going to tolerate another dismissal. Soaring into the room after him, she pointed a finger at the ghost’s back and barked, “Death, this is a serious matter that cannot be ignored!” When he did not turn, the space wielder ordered in a booming yell, “Halt and face me, Death! Do not walk away from a Legend!”

    The Ghost-type obeyed, though his grinning eye and the short laugh that echoed from deep within his stomach still taunted her. “Jirachi, you have no right to call yourself a Legend while Purgatory is in this state. Do you see forests and meadows from where Shaymin has blessed the land with her power? Are there any stars that you and Cresselia have put or any oceans that Lugia has brought forth with his rains? You and your ilk are just hatchlings with power.”

    “This is not Earth,” the dual-type hotly responded.

    “The souls that reside here think it is,” was the reply. Dusknoir approached her, only to pass by and peer out the window. Jirachi turned and looked on from behind, watching the wandering dots below. “There are houses and buildings to try and simulate their past lives on Earth. We have even created illusions of a soul’s family and loved ones to fool them further. Throughout their stay, they believe they have never left Earth. In this manner, when their time to be Judged finally comes, they will be as though they barely moved on. Or so, that was the plan.”

    Here, he glanced at her, sadness softening his glare. “Eventually, some notice the lack of weather, of changing seasons, and life beyond them. Eventually, they come to realize that this is not Earth and that they have died. They call it ‘Hell’ and make their way out of their settlements and into the open land. Most of the time, my guards manage to return them and enchant them anew. Other times, souls are lost in the harsh vastness of Purgatory. Of course, when their Judgment comes, Arceus always manages to find them. By that time, they have wallowed in their ill discoveries for many long years, however.”

    Entranced by the oblivious souls, Jirachi shook her head and sighed. “I never knew that. I always thought… Never imagined…” She trailed off, shook her head at her own folly, and turned to the melancholy reaper. Death began to wander back into the room, which Jirachi now saw was bare for anything but a scythe hanging on a wall; it’s curved blade had been the shine she had seen earlier.

    “I came here to help, Death,” she began again, drifting a few steps behind him. “The Council of Legends, or rather, Mew and Celebi, intend to steadily wipe out those souls they think of as sinned; they believe Purgatory is too crowded and unorganized. I am afraid that Arceus will agree to this because they are his oldest children and thus, the wisest. Is there anything you can say or do to prevent this?” Her voice had dropped an octave when she began her plead. “It seems that I’m the only one who objects, and my voice goes ignored without anybody else’s to aid me. I have no doubt in mind that this will end badly for the human race.”

    Death’s eye narrowed. “It’s true that Purgatory becomes crowded, even with other settlements besides this one spread throughout the dimension. Dusknoir guards are only used to make sure no rips in the barrier occur and to keep the souls in their proper areas. They do not have the power that I do, the power to lay enchantments needed to raise the land for a new settlement. I would create many more if my job of collecting souls did not drain my power and time. Even now, though I’m here, I can do nothing more than teleport.”

    Jirachi raised a hopeful brow. “So if a Legendary was able to have your powers, this crisis could be solved? With more homes and room for the souls, could we avoid this looming catastrophe?”

    With a sigh that was half sad, half frustrated, the ghost laid a hand on the hanging scythe and said, “I’m sorry, but I do not trust a Legendary to wield this power. Purgatory is my domain, and I will rule it only beside a being who will follow my orders and nobody else’s. They need to be loyal, trustworthy, and most of all, understand the true value of power and responsibility.” Death traced the two, v-shaped cuts engraved on the edge of the scythe’s blade then ran his fingers down the four-foot-long ebony handle. “I have this made and waiting for the soul that I deem worthy to be all of that, but no one of that nature has come.”

    Deflated, the space Legendary asked, “Is that the only way you would be able to prevent this mess?”

    “There’s nothing else I can do. The Council has made up its mind.” When Death saw Jirachi lean against the wall, drained from everything she had to endure that day, he floated up to her. “Is there anybody else who disagrees with this?”

    The Psychic-type looked up, surprised to see Death sympathetically staring down at her. She only answered with a mumbled, “I’m sure that Shaymin shares my opinion; I could see it in her eyes, but she’s much too timid to talk against Mew and Celebi.” The harsh thorn of betrayal dug into her heart.

    “Well, I’m glad to hear that there are truly Legendaries out there who are not wrapped up in their own issues, even if they do not speak out,” the Grim Reaper admitted. At the smile she heard weaving through his words, Jirachi faced him again and realized he wasn’t as cold as she previously thought. The face on Death’s stomach didn’t seem as angry, and that harsh shine to his eye was gone. “I apologize for assuming you were one.”

    As much as the words chased away the ill feeling of betrayal, Jirachi dismissed them with a weak wave of her hand. “You were right to assume. Like you said, look at this place! No stars, no moon, no atmosphere, all of the things I could have created centuries ago are absent. It’s my responsibility to take care of Pokémon and humans alike, even when Earth is no longer their home, and I did not uphold to my duties.”

    “It’s never too late to start,” Death advised. “You can still give Purgatory and its residents all of that.”

    “But first I have to sort Mew and Celebi’s mess out!” she cut in, again anxious. Jirachi now hovered above him and glanced out the tower’s window. “No matter what it takes.”

    “What do you plan to do?” Death probed. He unhooked the scythe from the wall and began to skillfully swing it about. It was a habit he had formed over the past century. The paranoia that the perfect assistant would come yet the scythe would be dull and powerless, unable to be used, haunted him like a nightmare. As he inspected the ivory skull nestled at the top, Jirachi looked away from the hollowed, pitch-black eye sockets.

    “Talk to Arceus about alternate ways to improve Purgatory’s state,” she answered. “Either he wasn’t aware of what we Legends can do for this dimension or he neglected to mention it, he will listen. He might also be willing to help with finding you an assistant.” Jirachi bowed and said, “Thank you for your help.”

    The reaper met her eyes. “Go fulfill your duty, Legend.” He closed his eye and nodded towards her. “Though I am powerless, I feel not all is lost for the souls in Purgatory.”

    His version of a compliment, Jirachi realized with a small smirk.

    With a wave, the psychic flew out the window. When her tassels fluttered out of sight, Death took one last look at his scythe and placed it back on its hook on the wall. He was sure that one day, it would be in hands other than his own. Until then, he would rule over Purgatory with nobody but his shadow at his side.

    _____


    Sitting on the ledge of a mountain so much more different than the one back home, Jirachi could see the Purgatory village in the distance. Looking over her shoulder, she saw the faint glow of power that kept the barrier rip from opening. It was so close, but in a way, it was so far from her grasp.

    With a short flight, she could be back on Earth, in her cave, or soaring through the skies to find Arceus.

    Yet something compelled her to stay.

    Jirachi glanced at the ruby and orange sky and couldn’t help but compare it to a melancholy sunset. With the clouds never moving and the harsh glare forever beating down on the hardened plains, she truly wondered whether this dimension was frozen in time. Leaning back, she immediately straightened when she felt the sharp rocks protruding from the mountain’s rocky, garnet surface.

    “This is so different from Heaven and Earth,” she thought aloud.

    What must it feel like to look up and see no moon or sun? That, more than anything, made Jirachi shiver. Didn’t these souls deserve the same world as the souls in Heaven? Didn’t they have the right to live under a cluster of stars and a joyous sun just as those deemed worthy enough to live in an internal paradise did?

    Yes, she answered her question. Yes they do.

    “Where have you been hidden?” Jirachi asked the forsaken world. “I could have helped sooner.”

    “You! Up there!”

    The wish granter grasped the edge of the ledge and looked down. Ten-feet below was the madly waving figure of a male soul. When the Pokémon just continued to stare, he jumped up and down and resumed his shouting.

    “You! Legend! There’s something you need to know!”

    “What is it?” Jirachi questioned, coming down. “And how did you kn-?”

    “Never mind that!” the man shouted. He adjusted his collapsing top hat over his sandy-brown hair. Everything from his suit, dark dress pants, and polished shoes were covered in a fine layer of yellow dust (Jirachi even had to wonder if brown was his natural hair color). If he had been alive, he would have been huffing and puffing. His semi-translucent form and the fact that that he was in Purgatory told the Legendary he was a soul, and because of that, the stranger kept on talking in the same anxious tone without a hitch to his breath. “My friend is in trouble! I don’t know where he is!”

    “Be calm, be calm,” the Steel-type told him. “Where was your friend sighted last?”

    “Celebi and Mew took him!” the being cried, ignoring her words. Jirachi stiffened at the names and began to demand where this had happened, but the silver-eyed man (for all souls lost their eye color when they passed on) was too caught up to stop. “They just took him! I knew they were coming back for me, so I high-tailed it!”

    “Where did-?” the Legend started to say but was cut off. Déjà vu settled into her; hadn’t she been interrupted enough today?

    “I’m lucky to have made it this far! I saw no Dusclops guards anywhere…”

    “But where did this take pl-!”

    “… They might be behind me as we speak! I swear that-!”

    Uneasy and nervous to the point of trembling, Jirachi snapped and took hold of the soul by his shirt collar, screaming in his face, “For the love of Arceus, from where was your friend taken?!”

    The soul clamped his mouth shut and obediently pointed to another small range of mountains behind him. He was then unceremoniously dropped to the dirt when Jirachi took off towards the bloodied needles, her psychic aura brimming with ferocity.

    _____


    A/N: First of all, thank you for commenting, David and everybody else. :)

    And meet another very important character of the story: Death. Jirachi and Death's discussion turned out very different than I had expected, as well the revelation of the scythe and Purgatory itself. I'm very happy how it came out. I just hope I don't stray too much from the outline I already have. xD

    There's a pun in there, if somebody can spot it. :p

    Oh yes; I'll be making profiles of the three worlds (Purgatory, Earth, and Heaven) soon and will add more as the story progresses.

    What it's in store for next chapter? A very dangerous fight and maybe (depending how the chapter turns out) the entrance of a main character.

  3. #3
    May Still Have Hope TeamGalacticMercury's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Guardian Angel (PG-13) (Chapter 2 is up!)

    Nice chapter! There were some grammar issues, but it was really good!

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    WhatWasOnceIsNoLongerWere Phantom Kat's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Guardian Angel (PG-13) (Chapter 2 is up!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Fire View Post
    Nice chapter! There were some grammar issues, but it was really good!
    Thank you. :3 I hope you stay tuned for more. Also, what sort of grammar issues did you notice? I would like to fix them and avoid repeating them. ^^;

    - Kat

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    WhatWasOnceIsNoLongerWere Phantom Kat's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Guardian Angel (PG-13) (Chapter 2 is up!)

    Chapter 3: Where their Loyalties Lie



    More than ever, Jirachi felt she was trapped in a cursed hourglass. The sands of time were pouring down much too fast, disrupting the flow and threatening to shatter the delicate glass. Celebi and Mew had started destroying souls; she felt it deep in her heart. Curling her fingers, she stole a glance at the dreary, ruby sky above her, knowing that Arceus was still beyond the frozen clouds, helping Deoxys find a home.

    While sand billowed around her speeding frame, obscuring her view, her emotions were unmoving. The anger and horror had been frozen in place the moment the male soul had weaved his tale. There was no time to think things through or wonder how her brother and sister were bold and conniving enough to do this. Even if she did, Jirachi didn’t think she would ever come to a conclusion. Both of them had always been a mystery, preferring company with each other and Arceus rather than with the rest of their brethren. Were they snobbish? No, she didn’t think that was the case. Arrogant? Possibly, but the way they held themselves and manipulated the conversations around them made it seem as though they had a right to be as controlling as they were.

    Manipulative. Controlling. Maybe Celebi and Mew didn’t portray themselves as arrogant siblings but rather manipulative and controlling parents that wanted to morph their children into the mold they saw fit, even if it meant going behind Arceus’ back.

    Jirachi snapped back to the present, a slight shiver traveling down her spine; she felt a source of great power near, though she couldn’t be sure whether it was one of her siblings. More alert than ever, she looked around.

    Before her eyes, looming closer and closer, was the mountain range. The light brown, almost orange, fangs of stained earth ran towards the right and left, each fiercer looking than the others. Their sides, from afar, seemed to be worn smooth until only a faded rust reflected the glaring sky above. It wasn’t until she got closer that she realized that the mountain sides were actually slabs of rock overlaid over one another, much like cracked roof shingles. There were points in the strange pattern that splintered pieces of stone rose up from the mountain, and when they overlapped, piles of the needle-like structures laid precariously in the shadows the rock slabs caused.

    “Wait… those aren’t shadows,” she realized, before clamping her mouth shut; if Mew and Celebi were around, she didn’t want to reveal her location just yet.

    They’re caves, the Legend continued mentally. She then corrected herself upon a closer look. Or more like alcoves or caves in the mountain.

    With nothing but the wind the flight created whistling through her tassels, Jirachi dared to swoop closer to the mountain side. Sure enough, what she had thought were shadows turned out to be pitch-black openings hidden by the shingle-like rock slabs and the protruding stone needles that crisscrossed the entrances. The Legend paused and looked around. The soul’s friend was nowhere in sight and neither were her headstrong siblings. Mentally, she cursed herself for not drilling him for more information. Yes it was urgent to stop Mew and Celebi, but going in with nothing but blind rage was a mistake on her part.

    And here she thought she was levelheaded and rational.

    With a sigh mounting on her lips, Jirachi weaved through upturned rock slabs, grasped the stone needles, and peered inside the overwhelming darkness. She wished she possessed night vision or that it was safe enough to call forth a psychic orb of energy to light her way. Unfortunately, neither was an option, so she had to settle for squinting her eyes and rubbing noses with the needles. Her ears strained for a sound, any sound that told her that this mountain was the one the soul had come from. If she had to search every mountain in this chain until she found her brother and sister…

    A gust of wind hit her face before it was gone. Jirachi blinked, then looked inside the cave with shining eyes. There was no wind in Purgatory, so somebody inside had caused the gust, not a passing gale. Her breathing slowing until it only rattled in her throat, Jirachi carefully wheedled herself through the gaps the needles made. Grunting softly, she reached into the cave and pulled herself in using the protruding stalagmites for support. One broke midway though her squirming, however, and losing her balance, she fell into the cave with a sharp cry of pain.

    In a crumpled heap, the Legend picker herself up, bumping against the point of a needle that had chipped off and slashed her side. If it was stained red, she couldn’t see it in the shafts of light that filtered in; everything under the Purgatory daylight had a crimson tint to it. Throwing it aside, she tried to hover, only to have her head collide with the roof.

    “These are Arceus-forsaken tunnels, not caves,” she whispered bitterly, faintly realizing she sounded like Ho-Oh or Darkrai.

    With one hand on the tunnel wall, she walked in deeper, the other in front of her and feeling for those stalagmites that were scattered around. More than once, some of the cave wall chipped off in her grip, and she would wrinkle her nose as plumes of dust surrounded her. When it happened for the fifth time, a seed of fear bloomed in her chest. The possibility that the tunnel could cave in at any given moment was now mocking her. With steely determination, though, she pushed the thought to the back of her mind and kept on stumbling through the dark. Just like every other misgiving she had since her arrival in Purgatory, it had to wait and could not be pondered on at a time like this.

    After what seemed like an eternity of hearing nothing but her own breathing, the hint of a chuckle came to her ears. It grew louder when she quickly shuffled through the tunnel, not even pausing to avoid the rocky outcroppings in her way. The edge’s sudden appearance was more than enough to stop her. Jirachi gripped a stalagmite, hid behind it, and tried to see what was going on among the shadows.

    She managed to conclude that what laid in front of her was one huge, empty chamber dotted with tunnel entrances. Then, a bright, emerald light chased away the darkness. Behind the luminous Celebi came Mew wrapped in light of bright magenta. The two Legendaries shared a look that spoke of the responsibility they had decided to take on and of the satisfaction they were going to get out of it. Both effortlessly meandered towards the human figure suspended in the middle of the gargantuan, hollow room of stone. Glimmering tendrils of pink and green held him up by his arms like a rag doll. Locks of ebony hair were limp over his extremely pale face, but the light his chains shed illuminated the terrified look he was trying to hide. With his white dress shirt torn in numerous places, his leather vest held on by a single button, and dust-coated black pants and shoes, he looked as tired and haggard as his friend.

    “I think you should be honored,” Mew started, putting a finger under the soul’s chin and tipping it so that they were face-to-face, “that you should be the first one to be Judged by us.”

    Frantic, gray eyes looked away from the deity’s piercing blue. Celebi scowled and forcibly took the man’s face in her hands, forcing him to lock gazes with her. “Don’t turn away from Judgment, coward!”

    The word ‘coward’, more than anything, made the soul react. Faded eyes hardening, he dared to retort, “I’m no coward!”

    “Yes, you are by far the bravest soul who has graced the planet,” Mew mocked him, disgust spreading over his facial features like a plague. “You, who left your family for dead when your house was consumed by flames.”

    Just like that, the man’s face was wiped of its indignation. A feeling of guilt and remorse now assaulted his eyes. “I went for help,” he tried to explain. When silence met his ears, he burst out, “I went for help!”

    Mew and Celebi shared an unconvinced glance then returned their gazes to the soul. “You ran when there was a chance to lead your family out,” Celebi spat. “You heard their cries from the smoke-filled rooms. You are a coward unfit for a second chance of life, Willard McGrady.”

    “I WENT FOR HELP!” Willard bellowed, willing the Legendaries to understand. Ghostly tears leaked from his shut eyes and trailed down his cheeks, before falling down into the black abyss below. Despite the fact that his tears turned to rivers, Willard could not feel them. He had discovered long ago that each tear was merely a phantom of a real one he had shed back on Earth; he had cried so much when he lost everything that even two hundred years later, Willard could still cry.

    “Unfortunately for you,” Mew dryly quipped, coming closer, “help never came.” The god floated over to Willard’s right, where bindings of rose-pink constricted his wrist.

    “So there’s no afterlife for you, and there never will be,” the Grass-type said on a fading breath. She floated towards the soul’s left, the bright, jade chains that wrapped around his left wrist beginning to tighten until a tendril of power slithered down his arm and towards the man’s neck. Willard had settled for letting his tears cascade down his face in silence, but upon feeling the chain extend and wrap around his windpipe, he let out a gasp. Not only was the energy snake beginning to cover his eyes as it wound itself around his neck and then up his face, but he was suddenly freezing cold. Willard shivered when he felt Mew’s bindings wound around his right, paralyzed fingers. They were mocking him, treating his soul like a toy that could be cast away when bored with, but he was too horrified to care.

    “Uggh!” Celebi grunted, pushed away by an unseen force. She flipped backwards, the green chains on their captive ceasing their movement, and touched her chest. Spots of blood appeared on her emerald and lime-green torso, and her hand hovered over a cut before she grasped the air and pulled. The invisible star materialized in between her fingers, and the rest of the Swift attack on her chest vanished in a sudden flare of aura, leaving nothing but crimson cuts. Mew stopped the manipulation of his own chains and instead locked glares with the figure that had appeared in the chamber.

    “Jirachi,” Celebi growled when her sister rocketed out of her hiding spot. “How dare you interfere?!”

    “How dare I?!“ Jirachi screeched. She closed in on them, her body alight with a crystalline shade of azure. “You have no right to do this!”

    “Delaying the inevitable is foolish!” Celebi barked back.

    But the space dweller dove straight towards Willard and grabbed his left wrist, sending a surf of her aura into him. Cerulean destroyed pulsating green with multiple flashes of white.

    The dead man yelled when he felt himself falling. Fear coursed through his still heart, and he looked up to the pink bindings that held him up, his free arm dangling uselessly at his side.

    Without warning, Mew zipped by his face and clobbered his sister with a Mega Punch. A teeth-chattering crack! reverberated in the room, making Willard clamp his mouth from crying out in shock. His very hairs stood on end, and even the fear running through his body stopped dead in its tracks. Jirachi stopped her fall and soared back up, a hand gently cradling her stinging jaw. Tasting the blood that stained her lips, she stared at the Kanto legend with mixed emotions. However, when Mew stared back with a cold but otherwise emotionless expression, her anger rose a notch. She had hit Celebi with a Swift attack, but the pain the Johto legendary felt was laughable; if anything, the Swift was just a way to announce her presence.

    But Mew… Jirachi had felt the power behind the punch and knew that if she hadn’t tilted her head at the last second, her jaw wouldn’t just be broken but lodged somewhere in the wall behind her. Mew hadn’t even batted an eyelash when the sound of shattered bone split the air.

    “You will not harm him!” she declared, trying her best to bypass the lisp her broken jaw now created. The blood on her mouth dribbled and flew when she faced Celebi, then Mew, in her rage. “I still sense Arceus with Deoxys; you have not told him of this matter, and therefore, you have no right to perform your ‘Judgment.’” Jirachi almost spat the last word. She paused, the ache in her jaw bringing a forlorn look in her eyes. “Truthfully, I do not see why you think you must resort to this matter. I have found out by Death that by merely beautifying the landscape and bringing life to the atmosphere, the pure souls will not grow hostile.”

    “Little sister,” Celebi addressed her, “do you truly think that a simple change of scenery is going to change them? Why do you think there are wars? Dictators? Murders? Second chances are useless.”

    “I’m not saying it will vanquish human evils. I’m saying that placing the human race in peril solely because of an opinion is dangerous and ill-though out.” Jirachi gritted her teeth. “And to go behind not only your fellow Legendaries but Arceus himself! You’re no harbingers of salvation but manipulators who have tasted power and want more!”

    Mew cocked his head, and his eyes would have been coated in that innocent gleam he mastered if a congratulatory smirk wasn’t present on his face. “Manipulators? Spot on, Jirachi, spot on.” His faux smile was gone and replaced by a scowl. “But do not mention power as though it’s an object; power is a title. Celebi and I truly know that we can help the Pokémon World. We have so much to offer, so much to correct! But with Legends such as hot-headed Ho-Oh and grudge-ridden Darkrai, Earth will never prosper as how we want it.”

    “And when Arceus is ultimately left to decide, he doesn’t have the heart to sacrifice,” Celebi put in, her hand aloft. Tendrils of green lifted Willard again, and much to his horror, the binds tightened with every word the angry pixie hissed. “But with this eradication, it’ll become easier to convince the rest of the Legends to bigger things. Arceus will see our potential!”

    “If he doesn’t, the rest of the Legends will back us up.” Mew said it with such certainty that Jirachi felt her wish tags stand on end. Hovering in the middle of the chamber, with her jaw sending agonizing bolts of pain throughout her face, she could finally start to imagine what lengths Mew would go to get what he wanted.

    Despite her older brother’s unwavering determination, she stood her ground. “I’ll never allow you to do such a thing. Arceus and the rest of the Council will know about your doings before the day is done.”

    The Psychic-type, unsurprised by her words and tone, closed his eyes and shook his head. “You and Arceus are much alike. You think with your hearts and are unwilling to sacrifice for the greater good.” He opened his eyes, Mew’s ears flicking back. With an unbecoming snarl set loose from his throat, he shouted, “But you will not stop us!”

    Without another word, Mew thrust his glowing hand into Willard’s intangible chest. Ignoring the cold that swirled inside the depths of the soul, he spread his fingers and let snakes of power slither freely. Willard yelled in agony and arched his back as the sensation of being ripped apart flooded him from every direction. The chill that came with being dead began to intensify, began to smother him and make him gasp in desperation.

    “No!” Jirachi dove towards them both but was thrown out of the way by a flurry of pulsating leaves. The Hoenn legendary pushed herself forward, one arm protecting her face, as the leaves danced around her to leave stinging cuts that tore her tassels and dotted her body with blood. Amber eyes squinted through the storm of jade then widened when Celebi rammed into her. With her breath punched from her lungs, she couldn’t stop her sister from trapping her against the cave wall. Before she knew it, the rocks were digging into her spine, and the blood dripped down from the cuts on her face to blind her. Still, Jirachi met Celebi’s stony blue eyes.

    “We must rid ourselves of our nuisance of a sister, Celebi!” their brother yelled above Willard’s pained bellows. “Jirachi will never agree with what we’re doing! She’ll ruin our plans!”

    The Grass-type turned around, mouth dropping open in shock. “Kill, Mew? You want us to kill our sister?”

    Mew shoved his other hand inside Willard, and it slid in easily. The soul was growing weaker and translucent; already the man’s screams began to fade into the forgotten crevices of the mountain. The tendrils of pink were like magma, fire-hot and writhing, looking for a way to escape but knowing they were not allowed to. Now, the deity grasped two of his power vines and told them, Break free!

    Jirachi tried to lurch into action; she sensed Mew’s sudden spike of energy and saw Willard’s eyes widen into saucers. Celebi put a hand on the Legend’s chest and called upon a Leech Seed to entangle Jirachi’s limbs and secure theme against the wall. The Steel-type struggled against the twine-like plants, grimacing as they slithered and steadily took her energy. As helpless as she was, Jirachi couldn’t help but witness Mew’s snakes do as they were told.

    Willard burst into fragments of twinkling light, his screams masked by the sound of the energy vines bursting forth and fiercely whipping each other in their dance of freedom. As the disappearing shards rained down and his yells were lost among the shattered remnants of his soul, Mew fisted his hands and called his power back with a wiggle of his fingers.

    “Yes, kill, if that is what it takes to keep the Pokémon World in one piece,” he finally said. He whirled around and locked eyes with the frozen and horrified Jirachi. “You brought this on yourself, Jirachi. Your duty is to help your brethren keep order, make decisions and sacrifices, but you have not. What use are you, then? They’ll be more Legendaries, but there’s only one Earth.”

    Celebi, absorbed by Mew’s words, doubled over when Jirachi elbowed her in the stomach. The slip of concentration loosened the Leech Seed vines enough for her sister to escape, the plants left torn and limp by the Confusion she had sent running through them in her burst of adrenaline.

    “Arceus will know about this!” she yelled, whipping around towards her brother.

    Only to get a Psychic in the face.

    Rivulets upon rivulets of amethyst light assaulted her, manifesting a ringing in her ears that made her briefly black out. Gasping like a fish out of water when she could force her eyes open, the Steel Legend felt bolts of paralysis grip her limbs. As she fell like a stone, Celebi and Mew popped into her view, their hands aglow with unleashed power. Jirachi fisted her hands, which made her entire torso shutter in protest, and sharply flew up in a twirl of yellow and pulsating blue. The cerulean grew brighter and climbed up the trembling, rocky walls, dislodging boulders that soon cascaded down upon Mew and Celebi. When she saw that they dodged the debris with ease, she reached out and swept her arms down. Immediately, the rocks fell with the intensity of meteors.

    Jirachi flew towards the tunnel she came from, flinching when she heard Celebi’s yelp of pain. When the walls of the tunnel surrounded her, she shook off the guilt blooming in her chest and instead intensified her aura so it was powerful enough to destroy the obstructing stalagmites in her path. Dust sprinkled her face, making her determined eyes water, but she plowed through. Her second plan of the day was tumbling in her head. If she could get out of Purgatory and back to Earth, Arceus would not be hard to lo… She stopped the thought. She had no idea where their father was, only that his presence was accompanied with that of Deoxys’. Could she afford to wait until he came back to Heaven?

    A growing light behind her answered her question.

    “Don’t think you’ve best me!” Mew’s ringing voice hollered in rage.

    Jirachi did not let her eyes stray until she felt intense heat on her back. Whipping her head around, she saw Mew flying towards her, his palms harboring an unstable Shadow Ball. Like his anger, the maroon tendrils were out of control and whipping the air. When their eyes met, the sphere grew brighter, tighter, and it was thrust into Jirachi’s stomach. Mew held the Shadow Ball against her abdomen, watching with an anger-contorted face the way her third eye fluttered madly behind its eye lid. Jirachi grasped her brother’s wrists with twitching fingers and let her long-winding tassels touch the tunnel’s walls. The ceiling started to gain thin, splintering cracks, and the stalagmites not destroyed by her began to collapse into piles of rubble.

    “Release me, or rubble will soon rain down!” she gritted through her teeth. The growing Giga Impact made dust shower them both.

    “You wouldn’t dare,” Mew outright laughed at her, the tension in his face gone and replaced by his sly smile.

    “You’ll never do anything like that,” came Celebi’s voice. The time traveler popped out from behind Mew with a scornful chuckle, although the grin on her face after she grew silent was less enthusiastic than her brother’s.

    “Neither will you!” their sister retorted, her voice beginning to break as she strained to endure the slowly burning Shadow Ball while maintaining her Giga Impact under control.

    Celebi’s face darkened, and she punched Jirachi in the abdomen with her own glowing fist. The volatile Shadow Ball flashed white before propelling Jirachi backwards in an explosion that made the roof above their heads collapse in chunks of stone. She crashed through the tunnel’s entrance, through the stone needles she had carefully squeezed through before, and rolled down the mountain side with her torn tassels wrapped around her body. Stopped by one of the mountain’s upturned slabs, Jirachi wiggled her hands out of the tassel-cocoon she was in and pulled herself up using the rock’s edge. A sharp pain split her body in half, but she did not dare look down at her scorched stomach.

    Celebi and Mew materialized above her. Ruby cuts and dust peppered their bodies, but the U-Turn had allowed them to escape relatively unscathed. Jirachi hunkered down, hiding her small form in the shadows, and turned towards where she thought her half-sealed portal laid in the sky. With no time and space to bend in Purgatory, she could not Teleport away from this mess. A frantic flight was her only option.

    It’s not the only one, a thought broke in. I could fight just enough to slow them down and escape.

    Her heart clenched in indecision. Mew and Celebi were a part of her, and she was a part of them. To fight them would be like fighting herself.

    “The shadows do not suit you, Jirachi.”

    The wish granter gasped and looked up to see Celebi’s mocking, azure eyes. She tensed, waiting for Mew’s arrival, but when it didn’t come, she questioningly searched the skies.

    “I wanted a word with you, in private,” her sister hissed, jovial eyes now slits, “which is why I sent Mew to the other side of the mountain to look for you.” Celebi descended until she was standing on the raised slab of stone Jirachi was hiding beneath. “Understand this, Jirachi: I am not like you. What separates you and I is that I see Mew’s plan in all its glory, and I will do what it takes to help him see it through.”

    “You are not ready to do such a thing,” Jirachi fiercely whispered back, discreetly wounding one of her tassels around her injured third eye. Celebi, too consumed by her anger, did not notice.

    “Why do you say that?” she barked.

    “I can see the indecision in your eyes, the slight hesitancy in your actions. I do not know what has come over Mew, but you are not him…” Her true eye began to painfully open beneath her tassel. Jirachi hid her wincing by plastering a mocking smirk that rivaled Mew’s. “You are just like me, Celebi, and Mew will realize it. Maybe Ho-Oh will take your place.”

    “How dare you!” Celebi screeched. She lunged at Jirachi like a wild Persian. Jirachi jumped into the air and waved her tassel aside to let loose her Flash Cannon. The Grass-type had a second to squeak in surprise before she was slammed against the rock slab by the silver crescent of power. Jirachi dodged one of the many stones that took flight in the explosion and ignored how the pile of rubble below her shifted and groaned. Instead of guilt swelling up inside her, it was fear. Mew and Celebi had proven by now that they did not share her morals.

    The word kill echoed back into her mind, and it wasn’t until now that it made her blood run cold.

    Jirachi’s wish tags fluttered in warning. Feeling the spike of power behind her, the Steel-type sharply leaned to the right and dodged the Water Pulse the incoming Mew launched at her. Without even taking aim, she pointed her pale fingers and snapped a Thunderbolt into existence. Crackling and hissing like a firecracker, the bolt of topaz disappeared then materialized above Mew’s head. The cat-like Legendary managed to twist his body out of the attack’s path, but his tail got zapped and allowed the electricity to race up his spine. Though he grounded his teeth and his right eye threatened to twitch, Mew continued to chase Jirachi; the burnt tip of his tail left a trail of smoke in his wake.

    Jirachi wrinkled her nose at the increasing smell of scorched fur; Mew was catching up. From the corner of her eye, she saw Celebi flying to their brother’s side. With the aura that surrounded her now emerald tongues of flames that fluctuated with her anger, the forest guardian was a chilling sight. When Jirachi looked ahead, a glimmer of silver was visible against the red backdrop of the sky.

    The portal! The pure elation and utter relief was like wind beneath her wings.

    Until she felt the wind caressing her face and whipping her tassels and wish tags about. Jirachi softly gasped as a crisp, bright green leaf danced around her head. In the blink of an eye, the wind had picked up to trap her in a twister made up of the most beautiful forest leaves she had ever set eyes on. Once she turned and saw the time traveler’s eyes alight with revenge, however, Jirachi was reminded of the Leaf Storm’s approaching wrath.

    She had to get out.

    Fast.

    Up and up she decided to go. The dew on the spinning foliage glistened like sharpened knives the closer and close they got. With the twister beginning to close in on itself, it began to get dark. A deep roaring filled her ears and made her breath rattle in her chest. Just when it seemed that Jirachi would reach Purgatory’s hellish sky after all, the Leaf Storm spun faster and began to fall apart like a house of cards. The tip of the cyclone was now a tumbling mass of leaves that smashed her through a collapsing wall.

    The Hoenn Legendary took a deep breath and briefly relished the shadows’ absence, only to be overwhelmed by the swarm of leaves that struck her body. Pain flared up whenever a leave touched her skin and refused to let go. Like parasites, she felt them drain her of energy and leaving behind the most awful burning sensation. By the time Mew came up to her, Jirachi was clothed in the acidic leaves from head to foot. Celebi had her eyes shut and was quivering with the effort to maintain the powerful attack (although Jirachi guessed it was her anger that made her shudder like the leaves she was controlling).

    Now only able to hover just feet off the ground, Jirachi reared her fist back for a Thunderpunch. Mew was much faster, though, and hit her squarely on the stomach with his own Sucker Punch. She spun in the air then stopped herself long enough to hit her brother with an Iron Head. The metallic cling that rang when she hit his head and made him fly back in a daze set her teeth on edge. Above them, Celebi slumped in exhaustion, causing her aura to recede into a thin veil of light around her body. Immediately, the leaves on Jirachi’s body shriveled up and fell in a shower of dead copper leaves. The space dweller hissed as the inflamed welts they left behind throbbed, but she was now able to reach the portal.

    “A weakened portal,” Mew remarked as he snaked after her. His tail came slamming down on her in a powerful Pound attack, only for his target to spin away at the last second. The New Species Pokémon snorted at her small feat. “That was a good idea; you’re going to need it.”

    Jirachi waved a hand over the shimmering platinum vines and watched as they unwound themselves to reveal a washed-out image of Earth. The blurry trees and faded mountains in the background were like a breath of fresh air. She began to fly through, then was shoved forward from behind. Both her and Celebi tumbled over the long stalks of grass. Just as her sister twisted her arms behind her back, Jirachi felt the presence of space and time all around her. The infinite and powerful feeling flowed through her veins at her telepathic command, rekindling her ability to Teleport.

    But another power, one she knew as well as her own, blocked hers right in its tracks. Celebi swallowed her with her aura as Jirachi lay face down on the earth. The Steel-type began using Cosmic Power, and her growing aura pushed out Celebi’s green. The fairy of time was flung back, and Jirachi propelled herself into the air.

    She smashed face first into the ground when Mew landed an Ice Punch on her exposed back. For the first time throughout the whole battle, her scream of pain was loud and shrill. That single punch sent a shockwave of agony towards every bone in her body, followed by an icy sensation that bit into nerves. It reminded her how exhausted she was, how the slashes that adorned her body bled and throbbed. If any other Pokémon had injured her so, the cuts would be superficial, the pain laughable! Jirachi, ruler of the Regis, manipulator of space, could not be taken down so easily.

    Yet that was the difference between normal Pokémon and them, the Legendaries, the gods. Pokémon would attack, but it was only their elemental powers or their bodies that would inflict the pain. Mew, Celebi, and the rest of her ilk, on the other hand, infused their attacks with their aura, even when it didn’t seem like it. They knew where to concentrate it, where it would hurt the most.

    Jirachi cringed. The Mega Punch felt like it had snapped her spine in half. The cold had now transformed into sheets of ice that spread and cascaded down her arms, reawakening her infected injuries so they could burn anew. She lay still on the ground, trying to concentrate and gather enough power to Teleport. She doubted that she could pinpoint Arceus’ location in her state. In her mind, she saw her power sputter like a flame, threatening to die out and leave her alone. Anywhere that allowed her to hide and recuperate would be good enough.

    “I can’t allow you to get away, not while you still have the idea of telling Father of what you saw,” came Mew’s eloquent, calm voice.

    “But kill, Brother?” she cried, struggling to get up. When had she gotten so weak? Now that she was still and no longer flying and fighting for her life, the adrenaline in her had waned until she could only feel pain and her tired limbs. “Do you truly think that the solution is to kill me?”

    Jirachi turned her head to try and see the furry Legend but only managed to glimpse his tail among the skyscraping grass; it was slowly curling and uncurling, a sign that Mew was deeply contemplating something. Celebi was seen in the shadows of a tree, mentally restraining herself from doing anything until Mew reached whatever decision he was juggling.

    “You’re not going to quit, are you?” When the Wish Pokémon realized it was an actual question and not one of his usual trailing statements, Jirachi firmly shook her head.

    “I promised you, Celebi, and our great father that I would stop this ridiculous scheme.”

    Mew landed on the forest ground without a sound. When Jirachi could no longer hold her head up, he knelt and lifted it so that their eyes met. She expected everything and anything except for his soft, melancholy pools of blue. Did he truly care for her? Was he pitying his confused sister? Or was it all just another façade he had perfected over the centuries? She never found out because his next words dashed all thought.

    “My dear sister, you are a slave of Father’s morals and philosophies. I love you, but you will always be loyal to him and his ideas, not to this Earth and its inhabitants.” He lowered her head and backed up until he jumped and hovered in the air, all the while keeping eye contact. “Your loyalty burns strong within you, so it’s only fitting that you burn along with it.”

    He waved a hand, and the grass directly below him started to smoke and burn. The greenery around the fire lit up and began to spread their tongues of fury before the first ringlets of smoke could reach for the sky. Among the hungry trails of garnet, Jirachi could make out slivers of Mew’s rose-colored aura. The smoke and flames thickened as they advanced and made the air hazy and hot, blocking her view entirely. In the blink of an eye, the Heat Wave was upon her.

    Mercilessly, the inferno washed over her body, heedless of her yells and screams. It melted the ice that half incased her, but the small relief of cool water evaporated away soon after. Crackles and dull roars filled her ears and muted her cries, dropping her into a silent world that only allowed her to smell her burning skin and feel the intense heat that crept up every inch of her body. She couldn’t move without feeling as though her muscles were going to stretch and melt away. A careless breath would lead into an endless fit of coughing, which would then leave her gasping for air.

    In her desperation, she managed to convert her remnants of power into one small orb of light that enveloped her. The sphere’s lilac walls blocked the wave of heat and masked her pain with a veil of numbness. Blissfully shutting her eyes, Jirachi was Teleported from within the hell on earth.

    ______


    Throughout his space travels, Deoxys had seen beautiful, icy comets and extraordinary galaxies that spanned for light years, but when Arceus showed him Birth Island, he blinked and automatically determined it rivaled many of space’s wonders. Quirking a smile, he left the floating Arceus and descended onto the small island. When the tree’s emerald canopies came within his reach, he caressed their huge, broad leaves then their tall, lanky trunks. The palm trees, unaware of this strange creature, kept on swaying on the light, salty breeze that came from the east, the rising sun bathing them in the growing rays of orange. Deoxys touched the ground and looked down in surprise.

    Arceus’ red eyes softened and immediately thought back to his Legendary children; it was on this island that he had seen their first smiles, their first bouts of curiosity. Already, as the alien ran through the light-beige sand with his tentacles, he thought of Deoxys as one of his own.

    “You’ll learn that Earth has many things to offer,” the great deity told him as he came down beside him. Arceus nudged him so that Deoxys focused his attention on what laid a couple of hundred feet away. Red and green tentacles obediently went to his sides, and his eyes began to analyze the cave that was nestled between numerous palm trees. He floated towards it, following Arceus and the hoof prints that trailed behind him. After a while, Deoxys, too, began to walk, if only to watch his own footprints appear in the glistening sand.

    “This place, Birth Island, is a very special place to me,” Arceus spoke, his voice as smooth as the deep-blue ocean that surrounded the untouched haven. “It is here where I created my Legendary children. These sands were Groudon’s means of getting used to the earth. The ocean around us was the home of Manaphy’s first waves.”

    Wistfully, the Alpha Pokémon looked around him then at his newest charge. Deoxys had been watching the fistfuls of grass that dotted the area shudder in the breeze until Arceus had stopped speaking. He now looked up, understanding deep within him that Birth Island was more important than its peaceful surroundings let on.

    They now left the warm sunlight to be wrapped in the cave’s comforting chill. Unlike the mountain’s cave, this one, Deoxys pleasantly found, was not dank and cramped; the tunnel was spacious enough for both him and Arceus to go through without bumping into the stalactites above. Though his visibility decreased the deeper (and lower, for he felt a change of altitude) they went, cracks in the rocks above them allowed in shafts of light to light their way. The DNA Pokémon felt the rays and compared them to suns that were just the right distance away.

    “This is going to be your home for now, and your permanent one if the Council comes to the consensus that you are allowed to stay,” the god said, the echo in his voice magnified by the cave. The authority that was always in it sprang up to be heard. “No one will disturb you, for only myself and my Legendary children can find this place, and they do not come here. They did, when they were young, but all but the youngest have put Birth Island into the deep recesses of their minds.”

    A spacious chamber of stone, as large as Arceus’ own, opened up before them. Deoxys’ eyes widened when he saw crystals of all sizes embedded into the walls of his new home. Their pulsating, turquoise light provided the room with a slightly ominous atmosphere that reminded him of his asteroid home and the many stars he would see from all directions. He flew to the center of the chamber and looked up to where a constant trickle of water seeped in to form the pond he hovered above. The water shimmered with the light that the cave crystals gave off, yet the tranquility was somewhat broken by a low sound. Deoxys could hear the constant pounding of the ocean’s waves on the north wall of the cave. His heart leaped in excitement at the realization. No longer would he live in constant silence.

    Arceus announced his coming by the clap of hooves against the stone floor. “Though this is your home, you are welcomed to explore the rest of Birth Island.” The Normal-type chuckled as he looked at the chamber. “If I remember correctly, this is where Jirachi spent most of her time during her first century. According to her, her home in the mountains looks much like this.”

    At the mention of the wish granter, Deoxys cocked his head in confusion. Arceus noticed this and smiled down at him. “You have much to owe her for. If it hadn’t been for my daughter’s words, I fear the Council of Legends would have decided right then and there to banish you from our planet. Even if they do not admit it, most of them were affected by her stand. Jirachi spoke of giving you a chance to live among us, and if you could, speak for yourself instead of letting us do it for you. ”

    “Jirachi…” the outsider tried to say, but all that came out was screeches only he could understand. Deoxys frowned. Here was someone he had never met defending him, and he couldn’t even communicate the gratitude that now weighed his heart?

    With that thought forefront in his mind, he extended one of his tentacles and wrapped it around Arceus’ neck. The god did not attempt to get away but merely watched as the foreigner scrunched his face in concentration. Arceus did, however, breathed a small gasp when images of galaxies, stars, and everything in between flashed before his eyes, and his ears were bombarded by screeches identical to those Deoxys vocalized.

    He could understand them now.

    “A copy of my DNA is now within you,” were the suddenly intelligible words when the tentacle was retracted from around his neck. Deoxys’ smile was giddy; he had never conversed with anybody before. “My language is now yours.” After getting his excitement under control, he solemnly said, “Tell Jirachi I’m grateful for her defense. Being among all these amazing sights and creatures truly vanishes my lonely times in space. As beautiful as they are, galaxies will not respond back.”

    Arceus mirrored the chuckle attached to his last words before nodding. “I’ll tell her that.” With a farewell that told him he would return once he had word of what the Council decided, the Creator teleported away in a column of cerulean brilliance.

    “Jirachi…” Deoxys now said aloud. He gazed at a particularly large crystal on the wall, its luminous depths entrancing him and making him wonder what kind of Pokémon this Legendary “Jirachi” was. “Rest assured that I’ll repay you for your kindness.”

    With the words left lingering in the air, Deoxys wandered out to explore Birth Island, unafraid of the risen sun.

    _____


    A/N: The battle scene was like pulling teeth: a slow and painful process that's worth it at the end. This chapter is very important, so I was taking extra care that it was written how I wanted it to be. Mew and Celebi certainly turned out better than I thought, so that's a plus. :)

    What about Chapter Four, you may ask? Well, though Jirachi, Mew, or Celebi are not in this one, you're going to be introduced to our second main character of this fan fic, and let's just say he's not the nicest guy around. And remember that war the Legends mentioned that the humans were currently in? You're going to be dragged right in the middle of it.


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    WhatWasOnceIsNoLongerWere Phantom Kat's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Guardian Angel (PG-13) (Chapter 3 is up!)

    Chapter Four

    The Dividing War


    Present Day: October 29th, 1725

    “You Kanto scum!” cried a voice hoarse with exhaustion and thirst.

    “Scum?!” came an equally harsh, cracked retort. “You Johtonians are as blind as ever!”

    Only the two soldiers heard the exchange above the thrumming of bullets and the clang of metal that ravaged the once peaceful settlement of Cherrygrove, Johto. Most, if not all, of the abandoned, wooden cabins were either burning or beginning to give off foul-smelling, silver smoke, and it was clear they were going to end up like the charred and trampled remains of the settlement’s flora. Whatever official or government buildings that were still standing were used as temporary headquarters or watch posts, though that didn’t mean they didn’t sport crumbling walls or collapsed halls.

    Mark Antony Colfax heavily sighed from on top of his Rapidash mount, the grip on his reins tightening. The sergeant hated to admit it, but things were not going well for the Johto side. Where were the hearty soldiers he had trained ? Where were those eager and loyal Johtonians from his trusty Regiment 66 that were willing to do anything and everything for their region? It seemed that his soldiers had grown tired and lazy during the two years of constant fighting. Mark Antony closed his amber eyes and jumped off the white, one-horned stallion. The flared bottom of his high-collared, silver uniform fluttered like a proud flag, and by the glint of his unsheathed sword, the dirty row of buttons that led from his collar to his yellow waist sash glittered like gold. Beneath the fringe of his spiky, chestnut hair, Mark Antony scanned what laid in front of him. If the constant haze of smoke that had settled over the battlefield bothered him, he didn’t show it. Instead, a wry grin made its way across his handsome features.

    “Hawkeye,” he addressed his horse Pokémon, “charge in there with a Fire Spin.”

    With her brimming, orange and red mane and tail of fire now seething with a low hiss, Hawkeye galloped forward. Before the Kantonians behind the targeted, wooden shack could reload their rifles, the Rapidash’s fire shackles around her hooves flared to join the rest of the writhing storm of scorching ruby. Mark Antony watched the collapsing pile of wood burst into flames and heard the horrified yells for only a second before he raised his sword high in the air.

    “Regiment, fallback!” The twenty-five-year-old’s voice rang and penetrated the whizzing gunfire like a knife. With a turn of the heel, he ran towards the direction of their headquarters, the kicked up dirt furthered dirtying his leather boots and gray pants; the golden stripe down each pants leg was hardly visible beneath the grime. In a flash of white and dimming scarlet, Hawkeye rode up towards her master. Mark Antony swiftly regained his seat on the saddle and turned the Fire Horse Pokémon around to make sure his troops were retreating.

    They were, but their runs were slow. Those who had Pokémon mounts were at the rear of the retreat, making sure no Kantonians decided to follow them to take down a few more soldiers. Much to their relief, the opposing side was also retreating to their headquarters: the abandoned hospital on the other side of the small town. Their red and blue uniforms, as bloodied and torn as the Johtonians’, were soon out of sight. An angry Mark Antony watched them go and had the irresistible urge to rip his faded green headband and throw it on the floor. Here they were, already counting all the soldiers in need of medical attention and worrying about their diminishing first aid supplies, and the Kantonians had a hospital to go back to! It made his blood boil as hot as his mount’s mane.

    “Come on, Regiment!” he cried while turning Hawkeye to the front. “Back to the base!”

    Two years ago, Mark Antony would have been answered by tired groans, but the regiment had learned by now that any complaints would only further fuel their sergeant’s ire. Mark Antony got only half-hearted nods in response instead, not that he noticed. His hardened eyes were set on the two-story building in the distance, its spiral that grew from the dome ceiling amazingly intact. On it, bronze miniatures of Ho-Oh and Lugia intertwined and looked down at the faded white building and the dug watch posts that surrounded it. To his relief, the soldiers on watch were alert and uninjured, and they raised their heads when the Pokémon beside them perked their ears at the approaching army. Leaving the base in the hands of a few watchmen and their Pokémon was risky, but it had turned out fine in the end. Still, he was going to leave more men behind. Cassius Bradley, the Kanto Regiment 12’s lieutenant, was crafty. If he left the base so vulnerable a second time…

    “Sergeant Colfax?” came a voice to his right.

    Corporal Edward Cox pulled up beside him on his own Rapidash mount, green-gray eyes troubled beneath his locks of messy, dirty-blonde hair. His uniform of a silver jacket and pants were in better shop that Mark Antony’s, although the sash that had been around his waist was gone; Edward had resorted to carrying the sheath of his sword in one hand. Mark Antony turned towards the thirty-year-old man.

    “Yes, Corporal?”

    “Do you intend on continuing to the settlement of New Bark?”

    Mark Antony considered the carefully-voiced words for a moment before replying, “I don’t yet. We need to talk it over.”

    Edward let a small frown overtake his features. “Do you think we can take it?”

    The young sergeant looked over the walking troops. “I used to think we could defeat Cassius’ regiment in a night,” he answered, the hint of a growl rising in his throat. “But I don’t know what to expect from them anymore.”

    “They’re human, Mark Antony,” Edward told him, looking at the same troops but with empathy in his gaze. None of the privates could hear their conversation over the chats among themselves. Relieved chuckling and thankful prayers that they still lived to fight another day hummed in unison with muffled footsteps of boot against mud. The corporal’s stare drifted towards the slate-gray clouds above them, idly wondering if the incoming rain would douse the fires they left behind. “And so are you.”

    “So because we’re human we need to have our expectations lowered?” The chestnut-haired man fixed Edward, the only person of a lower ranking that could get away with speaking to him in such a manner, with a leveled gaze. “You’re expecting us to lose against Cassius’ regiment?”

    “Oh no,” the man said with a chuckle, which startled the mare he was riding. “I fully expect us to win. Cassius is much too arrogant for his own good, and his soldiers are no better.”

    Mark Antony smiled a bit and laughed. “Haven’t you always said that I’m the arrogant one?”

    Edward returned the grin. “Yes, I have.” He then became sober. “Which is why I fear you’ll push these soldiers too far too soon.”

    Amber eyes narrowed in irritation. “We’ll decide on a plan of action once we get to base.”

    Edward sighed as he watched Mark Antony pass; he knew his superior had already made his decision.

    ______


    The regiment was now gathered in the once grand foyer of the town hall, their mounts tied up outside and receiving some well-deserved rest. Inside, those who weren’t huddled against the walls to be tended for their injuries or outside on their watch posts were waiting for their sergeant and corporal to speak. They leaned over the railings on the second story, their body weights threatening to send the rusted bars to the floor, while others decided to lean against the granite pillars that supported the second story and the dome roof. All of their faces were as serious as the visages of the mayors painted in the faded and ruined portraits on the walls and floor. By now, they didn’t expect any words of praise, and the encouraging remarks Mark Antony would shout were always a bit intimidating, especially with the wild look he would gain in his eyes.

    “Regiment,” Mark Antony started from where he was in the middle of the foyer, a desk set in front of him and Edward stationed at his right. The twenty-five-year-old paused and looked down at the map he had spread over the wobbling desk. Worn until the edges fluttered at the slightest touch and the drawings and notes on the parchment were recognizable only to the writer, Mark Antony analyzed it once more, eyebrows creased, before he continued. “Tonight did not go as planned.” He briefly glared at the dirt-washed carpet on the floor, its once glorious ruby now a pathetic shade of gray. It was not like him to state the obvious, but the bitter taste of defeat was still fresh in his mouth. Edward was watching him from the corner of a worried green eye.

    Although it isn’t the sergeant I’m worried about, he dryly thought with a glance at the soldiers. Even those who were being bandaged shared a look of dread.

    “The Kanto regiment was better prepared, better organized, while we were scrambling like ants. In Johto! Cassius’ regiment was supposed to fall tonight, but we fell short.” Mark Antony’s cold glare swept the room. “Are you all really loyal to Johto?”

    “Of course we are!” a voice shouted. A private from the second floor leaned even closer to the center, half of his body precariously dangling over the rail. The man regained his composure after his companions muttered to him to behave. Though his face was in shadow, his rigid stance and balled fists showed his anger. When he spoke, his voice was as strained as his whitening knuckles. “We fight for Johto! We fight for our people!”

    When Mark Antony said nothing to his disrespectful private, more and more similar shouts rang out. All made the walls of the building shake with the men’s pride. Even those who could not get up from where they laid injured on the floor banged their fists or clapped their hands in support. Edward narrowed his eyes in annoyance, something that went unnoticed by the now excited regiment, and was about to shout for them all to get at attention until he caught sight of his sergeant’s steadily reddening face.

    “Idiots,” the amber-eyed man muttered under his breath. He then faced his regiment again and shouted as he slammed his fist against the desk, “YOU IDIOTS!”

    The yells stopped only for Mark Antony’s booming voice to overthrow the silence.

    “Patriotism?” he scoffed at them. “Over the past year, the Kanto forces have taken over our border and majors towns like Blackthorn and New Bark. We have been behind their tails and doing nothing to hinder them for all this time, and yet you all stand here, shouting about loyalty and pride? Instead of spreading your cockiness about, learn to focus in the battlefield! Learn to steel your nerves in the heat of the fight! If not, leave this regiment and face those citizens left homeless after Kanto’s ruthless takeovers!” He gritted his teeth, his face receding to its normal peach color as he regained his cool temperament. Was he cold when he spoke to his privates? Yes; he knew it from day one, but he never thought the day would come when he would lose his professional poise.

    “Our goal had been to take down the Kanto regiment tonight. We failed, which is why in a few hours, we will attack again while they are recuperating at their hospital base. First, a handful of you will go with me and Corporal Cox to scope out the area, and then all those who are able-bodied will go and carry out the attack once the signal for an all clear is sent.” Mark Antony raised a hand to silence the already rising protests and finished with, “Those who will go scouting will be informed in an hour after I and the corporal discuss the matter. You are all dismissed.”

    Without another word, Mark Antony snatched the map from the desk, turned his heel, and walked down the hall to the right and entered his office, Edward trailing behind him.

    _____


    “They’re right, you know,” the corporal told the sergeant, taking a seat on the beaten sofa that took up the right wall of the small office. Behind a scarred nose, Edward looked at the younger man taking a seat behind a desk. To his trained gaze, Mark Antony looked as worn as the peeling cream wallpaper and the scuffed hardwood floor of the room.

    “Right about what?” the distracted man dryly asked, spreading his map again but this time studying it so deeply his brows became one fine line of concentration.

    “They’re right that this is a suicide mission,” Edward elaborated, although he suspected he didn’t need to. As distant as Mark Antony acted, he knew the sergeant was well aware of what his men thought.

    “In what way is this a suicide mission?” Mark Antony asked, still not looking up from the map and his tracing fingers. “Our men are capable enough to carry this out. They just need to be pushed and reminded that this could very well decide whether Kanto will gain control of Johto.” Now, he did look up, his mouth set as fine as his eyebrows. “And if I’m not mistaken, weren’t we supposed to discuss our candidates for the scouting mission?”

    Edward took no notice of the question, though he did mentally smile; it seemed that Mark Antony realized that this was a continuation of their previous conversation. Instead, he fished out a cigarette from one pocket, a lighter from another, and began to smoke. With the freshly lit joint now dangling from one side of his mouth, he said, “You know fully well that there are not many men left without injuries. With lack of medical supplies and food, by tomorrow, they won’t be able to lift their weapons without shaking. They’re capable of carrying out this mission but for how long? Long enough to defeat Cassius’ regiment before their surprise wears off?”

    Mark Antony intertwined his fingers and met Edward’s eyes. Those sounded more like facts than questions to him. “We trained our regiment hard, all for tonight. Even if they’re not in top condition, we can’t just wait and fight another day. With Cassius, if we let him go, I don’t think they’ll be another day.”

    “But it’s not just Cassius, is it, Mark Antony?” Again, his question was more of a statement. Edward tapped off some of the cigarette’s ashes as he watched the officer’s eyes narrow into dangerous slits, his fingers tensing into claws that dug into his skin.

    “Of course it’s not just Cassius,” he replied tartly. “It’s all of those Kantonian forces, all of Kanto itself, that needs to be stopped. They invaded our land, believing that Johto hid Sinnoh refugees from their last petty scuffle with them. They started driving out citizens from their homes to search despite us insisting we had no refugees on our lands. They were the ones that forced us to attack them, and then they have the audacity to blame the destruction of our towns on our refusal to cooperate?” He scoffed at the acid-filled retelling of the past two years of war, then spat, “May Arceus curse them.”

    With a sigh that expelled a cloud of smoke, the corporal straightened, his cigarette now held between two of his fingers. This time, he chose not to say anything. Mark Antony must have cruelly laughed at the privates’ pride in their region because his own was so strong that it put theirs to shame. Edward had not doubt that it was this overpowering feeling of regionality that had propelled Mark Antony to the top and made him this intelligent, if intimidating, man. His decisions had always carried some risk.

    But nothing like this.

    Then again, what did he expect in this crucial period in the war?

    “I know what you’re thinking, Edward,” came the voice that startled the older man from his reverie. “I can see it in that distant gaze of yours.”

    Mark Antony, for the first time in a long while, wore a smile free of arrogance and cockiness. The grin was sad in the way the young officer softened his eyes as he recalled a memory that already seemed like decades ago.

    “You’re wondering how one of the army’s drummer boys became this cold-hearted sergeant at such a young age. What could cause a man to become so emotionally detached in such a short amount of time?” Edward averted his friend’s gaze. To be frank, the sudden change in Mark Antony’s usual steel eyes unnerved him. Still, he heard the man’s words as clear as day.

    “I saw, even at that young age, how Kanto was waiting for us to slip up and give them the opportunity to snoop in our business and meddle for a chance to gain control. That scuffle they helped us with against Hoenn in 1607? After it was over, their embassy here grew larger, both in government officials and in stationed military. What happened when some of our plans for military weapons were stolen by the pirates of the Orange Islands in 1700? Kanto helped us get them back but kept a copy of them as payment for their help. They were manipulators then, and they will continue to threaten our land of Johto if they are not stopped.”

    With that said, Mark Antony stood up and made for the door. “Now come, we made our decision as to who will accompany us on our scouting mission.”

    It wasn’t until his superior opened the door that Edward blinked and spoke up. “We? I didn’t decide anything.”

    All the slightly frazzled blonde received was a smug grin.

    “Then maybe you shouldn’t have talked so much, huh?”

    _____


    A/N: ("regionality" is a made-up word from "nationality". Just thought it would seem silly to put nationality when the land masses are considered regions.)

    I know, a pretty short chapter, but I accomplished what I wanted to in this chapter. Really, it's more of an introduction to a new character than anything. I was going to add a bit of Chapter Five, but I wanted the focus of this chapter to be Mark Antony, not what happens later. And yes! Finally, Mark Antony arrives! Been waiting to write his chapter since I finished outlining the story back in September.

    Sorry if there are a lot mistakes in this chapter. Been nasally congested since Saturday, and I wanted this up before I went to visit my sister for a week soon (probably tomorrow). Like always, I hope anybody reading enjoys this new chapter! ^.^

    What is in store for the next chapter? Why Jirachi comes back, but she's not in the best of shape. With Mark Antony's help, she makes a history-altering decision.


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  7. #7
    WhatWasOnceIsNoLongerWere Phantom Kat's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Guardian Angel (PG-13) (Chapter 4 is up!)

    Song for this chapter: Negai, Yami no naka de from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha.

    _____

    Chapter Five

    Supernova



    Even after the sun had completely set, the air was saturated with acrid smoke. Mark Antony looked at the distant view of the battlefield from the cover of a row of bushes. Behind him, Corporal Cox and six of their finest men waited for him to speak. As they did, their eyes analyzed the surroundings, a part of them wondering if the trees were even real. The small forest they were currently hiding in had been far enough from their battle with the Kantonians to escape a fiery fate. To see leafy canopies and flourishing bushes after days of traveling through wastelands and abandoned towns was enough to take their breath away.

    “The direct route to the hospital is too dangerous,” their leader finally spoke, his whisper a smidge louder than his men’s bated breath. “We’ll have to go around it, through this forest, in order not to be seen. It’ll take longer, but this is why we’re here: to find out what is the best route for the regiment to take.”

    “Sir,” a private spoke up. Though his voice was soft, it was not hesitant; he was one of a handful of soldiers that did not fear the sting of his superior’s words. “With the Kanto regiment at their base, we may have the opportunity of raiding the Pokémon Center for food and medical supplies.”

    Mark Antony turned, a thoughtful expression on his face. Pokémon Centers were a fairly new business in Johto and might not have much medical supplies to offer; they had only been built when the war started for traveling Johtonian regiments to heal their fighting and scouting Pokémon. Then again, little medical supplies were better than no supplies at all. Without saying a word, he regarded the man who had spoken then looked back out into the battlefield. Try as he might, the twenty-five-year-old man could not see the aforementioned building.

    He grinned. “It doesn’t seem it was anywhere near the battlefield. Perhaps the Center escaped being torched to the ground.”

    Again, Mark Antony turned around, but this time, a determined frown was etched on his features. “The Center is not among the burned and collapsed buildings I see, but it could be in another part of Cherrygrove. Keep an eye out for it; our men and Pokémon are in dire need of supplies.” The sergeant walked onto the dirt trail his men were on. Unsheathing his sword, he told them, “And just because this forest seems desolate, it does not give you reason to let your guard down.”

    All eight of them, their weapons in hand, began to walk through the beaten path carved out by forest Pokémon. The blood stains and mud that coated their uniforms were hidden beneath the shadows of the trees’ canopies; any moonlight that did seep through the smoke and dense leaves bathed the thin, almost-black tree trunks. The sound of their muffled footsteps was in unison with the faint rustle and chirping of Pokémon hidden around them. The men ignored the buzz of nature. As long as they didn’t spot the flash of red and blue that made up the uniform of a Kanto-owned Pokémon, they didn’t consider themselves in any danger.

    An hour had gone by in silence until one private stopped with a startled gasp and sniffed the air. While everybody else turned to look at the soldier with raised eyebrows, Mark Antony smelled what had alerted the private. The faint odor of charred wood and leaves that drifted on the wind was accompanied by a stronger smell of burning meat and spices. Mark Antony stepped forward a few paces and squinted, trying to pierce the gloom.

    When he couldn’t, he leaned on his sword and simply said, “There are some people camped a little way’s off. They could be Cherrygrove citizens who stupidly decided to ride out the takeover or stationed Kanto soldiers on the lookout for us. Either way, we have to be the ones with surprise on their side.” Mark Antony gave Edward a glance, who nodded in acknowledgment.

    “Okay, Private Kisubo and Private Toren, both of you…”

    As the corporal assigned positions, Mark Antony leaned against a tree, still trying to see past the thick black that covered the forest. A couple more steps forward did nothing to help. As nonchalantly as though he was mounting his horse, he sheathed his sword and nimbly heaved himself up a tree limb. With his boots now precariously balancing him on a thick branch, he straightened and looked towards where the campfire aroma was coming from. Mark Antony tipped his head for a better look at a flicker of red he saw from the corner of his eye.

    It was gone by the time he turned.

    Edward’s faint words faded completely when the sergeant’s curiosity took over. One hand hovered over the hilt of his sword while the other laid over the trunk of the tree for support. Mark Antony sniffed the air, then frowned. The odor of smoke and meat was weak; the stillness of his bangs and the tied ends of his headband told him it was because something had interrupted the breeze that carried it. The branch he stood on creaked as he turned around to tell Edward. Mark Antony froze, though, when the screech of a raptor tore the air in two. He whirled around, narrowly avoiding falling eight feet to the ground, and whipped out his sword. The bird of prey flapped himself out of his dive at the sight of the blade but still brandished sharp, ivory talons.

    “Kanto,” Mark Antony hissed at the sight of the ruby vest on the Pidgeot. The beige bird whipped his head back, the flowing scarlet and diamond-white feathers on his scalp writhing like snakes, and gave a great downbeat of his wings. Whatever breeze Mark Antony had felt before intensified into a tremendous gust that knocked him off his feet. The man grabbed the tree branch he had been standing on as he fell, but the Pidgeot grabbed it in his talons and snapped the limb like a toothpick; a taunting trill was let loose from the Pidgeot’s rose-colored beak at the sight of the human’s shell-hocked face. The forest rushed around him in a mix of colors until Mark Antony landed back-first on the ground.

    “Sergeant!” Edward exclaimed, running to his friend’s side.

    “I’m okay,” his superior muttered as he jumped to his feet despite his throbbing spine and chest. Steadying himself with a quick breath that sent a ripple of pain to a possibly-broken rib, he looked over to his privates. When he saw they merely avoided the Pokémon’s gusts and talon swipes, he yelled, “Don’t hop around like schoolchildren! Fire! Fire your weapons! The enemy is already aware of our approach!” The disappearance of the campfire smell told him that much.

    Fired shots made the trees around them quiver. The privates, now braver with the command to defend themselves, took cover behind the trees, the canopies’ shadows hiding their well-toned forms. Edward had his own sword out and was poised for any incoming attacks, including those of Kantonian soldiers. Mark Antony’s grip on his own blade tightened in frustration. The Pidgeot was deftly dodging the whizzing bullets with an Agility that allowed him to weave through the canopies and fire an attack whenever he was seen. One of the privates was caught off-guard when a Gust came at him from behind. The attack swept him off his feet and straight into the tree he was hiding behind. The Flying-type let out a screech of triumph before propelling himself towards the fallen soldier, talons menacingly curled. In the blink of an eye, a shooting pain ran through the Pokémon’s stomach and up his chest to settle as a burning sensation that made him shriek in agony. Mark Antony came in running, the empty sheath of his dagger shoved into a strap in his boot, and kicked the Pidgeot squarely in the abdomen.

    “Damn bird,” the spiky-haired man spat at the grounded flier. Mark Antony pinned the massive fighter by running his sword through one wing and standing on the other. When he looked down at the bird’s pained chocolate eyes, what little sympathy he could have felt was shoved to a dark crevice of his mind. Pokémon were intelligent creatures, and those who didn’t want to obey their masters could escape. The Pidgeot that writhed at his feet chose to follow his master.

    He leaned over and yanked the dagger from the Pidgeot’s stomach. Ignoring the agonized wail, he did the same with his sword and turned towards Edward, who had come up to him with the rest of their troop in tow. “The Kantonians are closing in,” the corporal told him, only the slightest dimming of his eyes betraying his cool exterior; the privates that helped their nearly-knocked-out comrade to his feet weren’t so discreet. “We need to move out.”

    “You’re right,” Mark Antony agreed, nonchalantly cleaning his sword and dagger on the grass before placing them in their sheaths. “We’re not sure if the camped Kantonians are two or two dozen. Only a fool would take the chance with our numbers.” Looking towards the west, he traced the path they had taken so far in his mind and knew with certainty that there was a barren expanse of land that bordered the River Cerre a little way’s from where they were. If they reached the desolate field, any Kantonian Pokémon would lose the cover of the shadows and tree canopies.

    Then again, they themselves would be left wide open.

    If only our scouting Pokémon hadn’t been killed off in that Blackthorn battle, Mark Antony thought with gritted teeth. We could have found out how many Kantonians we’re actually facing!

    “Everybody!” he said aloud. “Retreat to the west! If we make it out of the forest, we’ll leave the Kantonian Pokémon without cover! Corporal Cox, lead them out!”

    Edward blinked and demanded upon seeing Mark Antony’s eyes alight with fiery determination, “Sergeant! What are you planning to do?”

    “I plan to hold them off long enough to give you guys a running start.” When the blonde opened his mouth to retort, Mark Antony insisted, “I can take care of myself, you know. If you don’t go right now, you’ll kill us all.”

    All Edward could do was nod and dash towards the west, barking a sharp order to the privates to follow him. The younger men looked at their officer with expressions muddled with confusion and shock but obeyed. Mark Antony watched them go, and when their backs disappeared, he dashed towards the wounded Pidgeot, one hand going for something that was latched beside his sword. The bird rose one dark-brown wing, a trill that was more pathetic than threatening stuck in his throat.

    Or is it the blood bubbling in its chest that is making that sound? he idly thought, eyes as emotionless as his expression.

    From his sash, he unclipped a ball about the size of his hand. The sphere was clunky at best with both halves made of dark-black metal that already began to rust in spots; the man concluded after a moment that it weighed as much as his sword. Despite its flaws, Mark Antony still took a moment to revel in the invention, finding it, for the umpteenth time, hard to believe that it contained a living, breathing Pokémon. When he had received it from one of the military scientists a few weeks back when his regiment was stationed at Blackthorn, the central headquarters of Johto’s military, the mere thought that this capsule contained a Pokémon was ludicrous. If that hadn’t caused doubts, the claim that this “Poke Ball” allowed humans to gain the Pokémon’s complete and utter obedience did.

    But whatever misgivings he had about the new invention would have to wait until the Kantonians were stopped in their tracks.

    Pidgeot began to struggle against his exhaustion and weakness when the man before him took out his sword. Mark Antony stabbed the raptor in the chest then rolled him over on his stomach when the body became lifeless. As a second though, he ripped the Kanto vest off and threw it off to the side; looking at it had made him sick.

    Pressing the button in the center of the Poké Ball, Mark Antony felt the sphere wobble in his palm before its top half opened to let out a stream of white light. Ivory changed to dusty-gray as the light solidified into a three-foot-tall bipedal creature of crudely-stitched cloth. Blood-red eyes blinked up at the human, a muffled hiss making his yellow, zipped-up mouth quiver into a hideous scowl. The Banette used its stubby legs to back and crouch defensively, his stub of a golden tail bristled like a broom and the wisp of cloth that curled from behind his three blunt, head spikes whipping ominously behind him. Mark Antony stood in front of the Hoenn Pokémon, unaffected by the murderous glare that was sent his way.

    “You see this?” he demanded, thrusting the Poke Ball into Banette’s view. “I have control over you. I am your master. If you decide to disobey, I’ll kill you on the spot. Disobedience to the Johto side is alliance to the Kanto side.”

    Only an agreeing grunt left the furious Ghost-type.

    “Good.” Mark Antony could now hear the Kantonians’ raucous yells of attack. They were growing close enough for him to be able to feel the thundering hooves of a Rapidash; he was not going to wait long enough to be able to see the rider. He stared down at the possessed doll, then pointed at the feathery corpse. “I want you to animate that body. Make it seem as real as you can.”

    Banette grinned evilly; it was time to release his pent-up anger. He gripped the zipper of his mouth with one of his tattered fingers and pulled until a cackle was ripped free. Even as he pulled out a handful of nails from his maw, his maniacal laugh still rang through the grim forest, his eyes as bright as rubies. The military officer watched as Banette took the nails, all of them coated in a thick-layer of rust, and stuck them into his torso, arms, and throat. It wasn’t until he saw the wounds open and the blood trickle into pools of red that Mark Antony realized that it wasn’t rust that covered the phantom’s tools.

    A tuneless hum now overcame the animated marionette. He hovered above the Pidgeot’s corpse and let his blood drip onto the body, eyes now simmering coals that illuminated the inch-long nails embedded into his body. The corpse twitched as its cream feathers were soaked to become a grotesque shade of poisoned garnet. It lifted itself into the air, head still bowed down, its own blood drowning the grass. Banette lifted his hands above his head and twitched his fingers. Wings shook then spread. Talons slashed at invisible foes. With a flick of his wrist, Pidgeot’s head snapped into position.

    Mark Antony unconsciously stepped back, horror making his eyes widen and his face to become pallid. Even when his ears heard the bark of an order, he couldn’t will himself to take control. The Pokémon in front of- No, he couldn’t call it one of Arceus’ creatures, not anymore. Whatever he had in mind when that scientist told him Banette could move the dead, this was not it.

    The shot of gunfire made him jump into action. Forcing himself to look straight into the eyes of the bird, of Death himself, the twenty-five-year-old commanded, “When the Kantonians arrive, attack.”

    Banette gave a barely perceptible nod from within his trance, his mouth still agape in a silent shriek. Mark Antony walked around the Pokémon and took cover behind a tree, the Poké Ball back in place and his sword held in both hands. As he waited, kneeling on the blood-soaked ground, his eyes couldn’t help but travel to the Pidgeot.

    When their eyes had met, the bird’s gaze had been glossy and clouded over by the white veil of death. The sword wounds no longer shed blood, but they leaked viscous body fluid that stank of decay. Feathers that had been stained with the Marionette Pokémon’s blood had fallen to the ground to curl up like withered leaves, leaving the corpse’s back almost completely bare. It was a vile monstrosity, but Mark Antony had no choice but to rely on the faux Pidgeot. He could never hope to defeat the incoming Kanto soldiers, even with Banette’s help. Ingenuity and the element of surprise had to be used to their fullest potential if he wanted to get out alive, even if it meant going against nature herself.

    The ground trembled once more. Mark Antony pressed himself closer to the tree and the shadows it cast, a white-knuckled grip on his sword. He was unaware that the still-possessed Banette extended the tree’s shadows so that it covered the officer in inky darkness until he couldn’t see the shine of his blade. As the tendrils of black slithered and hid his form from view, the Kantonians broke into the clearing in a thunderous orchestra of galloping hooves and running feet. A single beat of time later, all sound ceased to exist.

    Then, “By Arceus… What abomination is this?”

    “Sir, it’s alive!”

    “It’s… Damn it, sir! It’s one of our own!”

    Banette swept his arms in an arc, that same, malicious guffaw escaping his unzipped mouth. Pidgeot flapped his wings, spreading the odor of rotting flesh into the air, and rocketed towards the shell-shocked Kanto soldiers. At the same instant, Mark Antony flew from his shadowed perch, sword at the ready. Expertly, he ducked Pidgeot’s massive wings as they flapped for a second time, avoided the bird’s sharp beak as it lunged at a soldier, and ended up to the side of the group of twenty Kantonians. The man nearest to him turned around, mouth agape in surprise, but was quickly rendered helpless when Mark Antony slashed at his legs. Going down as a crumpled heap on the ground, the Kantonian writhed in agony as Mark Antony kicked the man’s gun to the shadows.

    “What the?!” the leader exclaimed, drawing his own sword out from its sheath. He ran at the Johtonian but was then knocked back by Pidgeot’s wings. While Mark Antony knocked a soldier’s rifle from his hands, he saw the red-haired, navy-clad leader regain his footing and rush at him again, this time with two more soldiers on either side of him. Mark Antony backed up then jumped towards one private and aimed for his abdomen. Much to his surprise, the other solider was faster than him and slammed his rifle into the backside of his head. The sergeant stumbled and barely managed to avoid falling to the forest floor. Mark Antony rushed to pick up his fallen sword when the sound of a fired shot blasted in his ears.

    “Ugggh!” he yelled and withdrew his right hand, cradling it to his chest. The bullet wound bled rivulets of blood that stained the front of his silver uniform scarlet. Mark Antony fell to his knees at the sensation of needles running through every nerve in his throbbing hand. For the Kantonians, the moment of distraction was enough. The leader raised his sword, emerald eyes narrowed; the two soldiers raised their rifles and aimed.

    Branches of trees bent then snapped off as Banette commanded Pidgeot to unleash a Twister. Mark Antony quickly latched onto a nearby tree trunk as the wind whipped his clothes and hair in an attempt to send him to the next region. From the corner of his shielded eye, he saw the three men collide with the trees behind them. Unfortunately for them, they were not unconscious. They were fully aware of their breaking ribs and the echo of a broken skull as they were slammed into the trees, picked up again by a well-aimed Gust, and then thrown towards the rest of the soldiers.

    “Thanks,” Mark Antony huffed towards Banette once the hurricane gale settled until only the broken branches and fallen leaves on the forest floor twitched. Miraculously, his sword had been lodged between two rocks instead of being blown into a nearby canopy. On his feet again, he pulled it out, ignoring how his hand screamed in protest; the bullet still wedged in the shattered bone of his hand felt like it burrowed deeper. The twenty-five-year-old bit the inside of his cheek, successfully fighting back the urge to dig the shrapnel out himself.

    When he turned towards the Ghost-type, an audible gasp left his mouth. Mark Antony saw Banette twitch the invisible strings of his dead puppet in a way that made Pidgeot gain a ravenous light in his eyes. He stepped back once, and that’s all the initiative Banette needed to give the mental order.

    Pidgeot reared his head and flew over the two soldiers and their leader, who were too injured to move. The soldiers fired round after deafening round, but they could only watch in dismay when their bullets lodged into the bird’s unfazed corpse. Soon, they were out of sight when the massive raptor was on top of them. Talons dug into their chests for a perch before Pidgeot’s beak tore into meat and muscle. Those who were able-bodied ran away from the gruesome scene, their faces as white as sheets.

    “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” Mark Antony bellowed at Banette, his hands shaking at the sight he had just turned his back to. He had seen death and gore just as much as he had seen the sun rise and set for the past two years, but the sight of humans being so mercilessly murdered by such an unfeeling creature sent chills running down his spine.

    The possessed toy looked at him with eyes that tauntingly danced within blood-red flames. He raised a hand, and Mark Antony was lifted into the air.

    “You’re under my command!” the Johtonian shouted, livid with anger and fear. Already he felt that his limbs were not under his control. They were as frozen as the blood in his veins.

    Banette sneered at the human’s claim. With a twitch of a finger, he unhooked Mark Antony’s Poké Ball and held it aloft. Within seconds, it was crushed into pieces of metal that rained down upon the screaming, dying men. At the sound of the Poké Ball’s remnants hitting the ground, the ghoul grinned in satisfaction.

    “You vile creature,” Mark Antony spat, ignoring how the bullets fired at him by the surviving Kantonians were eerily deflected back at them with nothing but Banette’s hellish gaze. What was this twisted Pokémon planning to do to him?

    His world was suddenly tipped backwards with another silent command from the phantom. Mark Antony’s sword clattered to the ground when he was jerked back by an invisible string at the back of his skull. The chill that had settled on his limbs spread to his chest and grew until he found it agonizingly difficult to breathe. Like a fish out of water, he flailed and wished for air, growing increasingly terrified. From head to foot, he was numb, and not even the burning of his hand and broken rib were there to remind him that he was still conscious. Mark Antony didn’t doubt for a second that Banette could kill with the bat of an eye.

    Every color of the forest suddenly rushed at him in an overwhelming wave of hues. Green turned to black. Brown turned to black. Through the sea of midnight, Mark Antony only saw Banette’s cold eyes of fire.

    _____


    When Mark Antony woke up, he saw the night sky above him was lit with orange. For a moment, he thought the sun was rising, but when the smell of gunpowder flooded his nose, he sat up, tensed. The fire among the stars was from war weapons, not the sun.

    “What in Arceus’ name?!” he exclaimed. Mark Antony then began to harshly cough, which made his injured ribs rattle painfully. Mark Antony held his uninjured hand to his chest, greedily sucking in air. His whole body shook now that it wasn’t frozen by Banette’s power, and a giddy chuckle slipped out of him. The normally level-headed man sat there and laughed at the fact that he was still alive. This time, it wasn’t his training or intelligence that got him out of a scrape. The only reason he was still breathing was because Banette chose to spare him, for whatever reason. His fate was decided by a creature that was supposed to be under his control.

    At the thought, he immediately became sober, then furious.

    “That bastard,” Mark Antony shakily growled, cursing the scientist that had given him the Poké Ball with every fiber of his being. “That incompetent, lowly bastard!”

    He would have sat there for hours if a glance at his blood-stained uniform didn’t remind him of who he was. Mark Antony stood up, but unlike the last time, his feet still wobbled and threatened to send him toppling to the ground. Stubbornly, he shook his head to dispel any lasting memories of Banette and looked around. A curse was muttered when Mark Antony didn’t find his sword.

    I guess I have to make due with this, he mentally sighed while slipping out his dagger from the sheath attached to his right boot. The small weapon felt like a twig in his calloused hand.

    “Now then…” The amber-eyed man trailed off when he didn’t recognize any of the surroundings landmarks.

    What landmarks? a snide part of his thoughts quipped.

    For once, Mark Antony had to give that part of his mind some credit. Indeed, the only landmarks near him were the hundreds of charcoaled tree stumps that had long since finished smoldering. Looking down, the sergeant kicked up the blackened dirt and watched how it crumbled off in heavy clumps riddled with burned pieces of leaves.

    “A battle took place here,” he muttered to himself. Mark Antony observed the wide expanse of field, now nothing more than five miles of scorched land, then a nearby tree stump. He traced the smooth grooves at the top. “Battle Pokémon cut this whole forest down in order to battle unhindered. Fire Pokémon then incinerated the fallen trees into ash.”

    Mark Antony’s eyes clouded over, and even when he looked up to glance at the town a couple of miles from the dead forest, they were unfocused with thought. Faintly, as though he was recalling a legend from an ancient tome, the fire that engulfed the buildings further fueled the thought that kept turning in his mind.

    There was no doubt about it. The only force with such strong Pokémon on its side was Cassius’ Kanto regiment. Charizard, Arcanine, Pinsir, Scyther, they were all rumored to be under his command. They had defeated a Johto regiment in this very spot and were now laying waste on New Bark Town. Even from this far, Mark Antony could make out the Johto flag mounted on top of the most important research facility in the region. It was not down, but he was sure that if he blinked, it would be lost in a sea of flames…

    “But wait!” Mark Antony yelled out in surprise, the realization literally knocking him off his feet. Sitting on a stump, he stared at the hell-consumed town with wide eyes. He tried to speak, but his mouth had gone paper-dry.

    But Cassius is back at Cherrygrove! he silently reasoned, hands now gripping his locks of matted hair and staining them with blood. How could he be here, in New Bark Town, so quickly?! Mark Antony breathed in the smell of the deceased forest in an effort to calm down.

    Something else dawned on him.

    This battle has been fought days ago… We’ve been deceived! Cassius was never in Cherrygrove! That was their plan! They led a part of his regiment for who knows how long to derail us from Cassius’ path!

    “I should have seen Cassius with my own two eyes,” the officer rasped, gripping the hilt of his dagger so tight he thought the bullet in his hand would rip right through. Whatever pain that racked his hand was washed away by his fury. Mark Antony jumped to his feet, the stinging of his ribs just making him growl in frustration, and faced the fire-stricken sky. “Damn it all! Damn it all to Hell!”

    And that was when Mark Antony saw something fall from the heavens.

    As bright as a miniature sun, it lit the smoke-filled clouds when it streaked through them. Mark Antony leaned forward, mouth agape in awe. He squinted and tried to see past the veil of light that surrounded it. After a second, he flinched. Whatever kind of energy it was, it hurt to look at it for long.

    “It’s a fallen Pokémon,” he reasoned, anger momentarily shadowed by hope. His legs automatically began taking him to the west, where the strange object was falling towards. “It was probably shot down.”

    His jog turned into a sprint, then a full-fledged run that sent pangs of pain to run rampant through his chest. More than once Mark Antony had to force himself to keep running or fall victim to his injuries. If this was a Pokémon, he could possibly force it to help him back to Cherrygrove. Though his stomach tied itself into anxious knots at the mere thought of another Pokémon, he knew there was no other choice. Walking back would take him at least two days, yet that was if he wasn’t spotted by Kantonians. With nothing but a dagger he could barely grasp in his shot hand, the chance of returning back on his own was laughable.

    “They’ll trip over themselves for the chance of capturing the elusive Mark Antony Colfax, the youngest sergeant to date,” he couldn’t help but remark. He unconsciously chose that moment to grip his dagger too tightly and suffer the excruciating pain of the bullet grinding against his cracked hand. Mark Antony let out a gritted curse and continued running, deciding to keep his mouth firmly shut from now on.

    Then the air trembled and gave a low hum like the plucked string of a cello. Mark Antony stopped as he saw the streak of light suddenly plummet like a missile about a mile from where he was. The hum evaporated then came back as a sonic boom that threw him into the air. The twenty-five-year-old was flipped backwards and thrown on the ground, where he gripped his chest and squirmed in agony. When Mark Antony opened his tearing eyes, he held his breath, his body paralyzed in a half-crouched position. Try as he might, though, all he heard was silence.

    “Dead?” Mark Antony asked in a rare moment of ineloquence.

    He half-crept, half-jogged the quarter mile to the twenty-foot wide crater on the outskirts of New Bark. The closer he got, the hotter it became. By the time he looked over the rim of the crater, a sheen of sweat was visible on his brow. Every upturned rock and clump of dirt was seething with heat, and as Mark Antony stood up, the sole of his boots sent a wave of warmth throughout his entire body. With every hair on his head standing on end, he gazed at the undistinguishable lump in the middle. Was that small mass of yellow and gray really a Pokémon that could help him? Again, his stomach did unpleasant back flips. The earth around him, burned scarlet with whatever energy aura the creature had been surrounded by, simmered and crackled in warning.

    “Death by Pokémon or by Kantonians?” his voice sounded, almost inaudible among the consistent sizzling of the earth.

    Mark Antony gripped the double-edged sword and decided to approach the listless Pokémon.

    As he began to walk towards the middle of the impact site, the charred dirt left behind clear imprints of his footprints before collapsing into fine crumbs. Sweat now dribbled into his eyes and to the front of his uniform to mix in with the blood that stained it. Mark Antony gripped his jacket and fell to his knees. Each breath was now labored and struggling to leave his parched mouth. Through hazy vision, he saw the lifeless Pokémon was no bigger than an infant. Uncertainly, he stood up and walked towards it, each step now hissing with heat. Mark Antony grunted when sweat trickled down his hand to pour into his bullet wound.

    “You… better… be… helpful,” were his exhausted and frustrated words that made his ribcage ache.

    Once he got his sweat-soaked hair out of his eyes, he looked down.

    “What…?”

    For a moment, Mark Antony really thought he was looking down at a baby. The small Pokémon was wrapped in two tattered tassels the color of gold while her small eyes fluttered against unpleasant dreams. Without even thinking about it, Mark Antony scooped up the bundle and looked into the Pokémon’s silver face and the bloodied cuts that marred it. She trembled in his arms, and the two cyan tags that dangled from the tree star tips on her head shook as though to dispel the nightmares that plagued her.

    “What are you?” he finished, words now soft and difficult to get out. Vertigo claimed him and forced him onto his knees again. However, even through his blurry and unfocused eyes, the Pokémon’s injuries were as clear as day. He traced a rather large gash on her cheek and felt her flinch.

    You’re hurt, he mentally said now that his mouth only allowed him to release raspy breaths. Mark Antony looked down at the Pokémon, seeing helplessness and fear in that shuddering mass of injuries. Yet, despite the defenselessness, he sensed the inkling of something that told him this was not a Pokémon that should be manipulated for human gain. A sacred being was in his arms, and the thought of forcing her to do anything was lost.

    Immediately, the overwhelming heat dissipated around them. Mark Antony, his breathing hard, saw the Pokémon’s face was strained with effort.

    /I am Jirachi,/ came the telepathic call. The human felt the edges of his brain fizzle at the power’s touch. Goose bumps rippled his flesh.

    “Jirachi?” Mark Antony echoed, the unfamiliar name rolling off his tongue in the same manner he recited the names of the Pokémon deities of his region; he didn’t know what made him realize that Jirachi deserved the same amount of respect as Johto’s Legends.

    /I beseech you; help me./ Amber eyes opened to gaze at their potential savior. /My body cannot last much longer./

    “What can I do?” the sergeant asked, oddly detached from the scene. He felt like the little kid he was so long ago reenacting one of his old bedtime stories. It should have felt silly, but with the gravely-injured Jirachi in his arms begging for his help, it felt anything but.

    /Hide me away so I can recuperate./

    “You’ll die,” he bluntly told her. “I’ll get you medical help instead.”

    Either Jirachi found his frank words true or she had no energy to retort, she simply closed her eyes.

    /I leave my life in your hands, human./

    “Mark Antony,” he told her. “That’s my name.”

    But Jirachi had already fallen into a restless slumber.

    Mark Antony held the psychic close and looked towards New Bark Town. Somewhere in the midst of battle was a Pokémon Center that could save the life of this goddess of the sky. Were the chances of reaching it in one piece good? No. Even if he somehow managed to get to it without being shot on the spot, there was no guarantee the building was still in the hands of the Johtonians or even still standing.

    “I have to try, though.” Mark Antony then looked down at the sleeping Legendary, each difficult breath rattling in her chest. “Are you really a deity like the Beasts of Legend?”

    Jirachi only shivered in response.

    _____


    A/N: The first episode of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha is so similar to this chapter: unsuspecting human finds an injured creature in need of help, but at the same, it's more than it seems; the human then goes off to a medical facility. I thought the similarity between the two was so cool. ^^

    Everything except the meeting with Jirachi was improvised writing. I SO did not expect to put in such a creepy scene like Banette's. It was a nice addition, though.

    Chapter Six: Mark Antony makes his harrowing journey through New Bark Town with an injured Jirachi in his arms.


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    WhatWasOnceIsNoLongerWere Phantom Kat's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Guardian Angel (PG-13) (Chapter 5 is up!)

    Song for this chapter: Forestaste from Pandora Hearts.

    _____

    Chapter 6

    Foretaste



    He had to be crazy, Mark Antony reasoned. The human shook his auburn head and looked behind at the crater he had just climbed out of. Despite the constant sounds of bombardment in New Bark Town, Mark Antony’s world had turned silent. Every rock, every pebble, had ceased its sizzling to coolly lay at his feet. Gusts of air once again blew across the scorched land to ruffle his locks of hair and Jirachi’s wish tags as freely as though the barrier the injured Legend had put up had never existed.

    “This is crazy,” Mark Antony muttered to himself, looking down at the crater again. The crash sight was no longer an unbearable inferno, but his heart thumped erratically and urged him to drop the Legendary and run in the opposite direction. Then again, his heart also made his hold on Jirachi tighten.

    “To Hell with this!” he finally yelled to himself, turning on his heel and beginning to run towards New Bark Town. Of course, he wasn’t going to sprint into the line of fire, but maybe running would dash away the thought of leaving Jirachi to fend for herself.

    Mark Antony kept that up until the sound of exploding bombs and the distant yells of men finally reached his ears and brought him back to the reality that was the Region War. Skidding to a halt, he panted and clutched his burning side; it seemed he had forgotten about his injuries during the run as well. Not even realizing that the pain in his ribs had turned from constant stabs to dulled pangs in seemingly minutes, the sergeant quickly hid behind a sagging tree. Peeking from behind it, Mark Antony eyed the entrance of New Bark Town, which was now nothing more than a crumbling arc of white stone with its writing faded and blackened with ash.

    “How dare they barge into one of the most important towns in Johto!” he lividly hissed under his breath. Childhood memories of visiting the town with his family and being completely in awe over the technological advances that flourished were crushed by the realization that Kanto had probably burned it all to the ground. New Bark Town, Johto’s beacon of ingenuity and hope for a better future, was in the hands of the region that wanted to tear his homeland apart piece by piece. Mark Anton hadn’t grasped what the fall of New Bark meant for the future of Johto until now.

    Jirachi moved in his arms; his fingernails were digging into her. Mark Antony started a bit and apologized. This time, he noticed that his injured hand flexed and unflexed without the excruciating pain of before. Though the sensation still made his teeth grind against each other, his hand could now ball into a fist without feeling like he was closing his hand around a sharpened blade. The man stared at his twitching fingers, amazed that they weren’t bone-white and jerking with pain, then at Jirachi.

    “I know what you’re doing,” he told her, hazel eyes gaining a shadow of guilt. “You’re healing me instead of yourself because you know, and I know, that I’m your only hope.”

    After checking for any Kantonian soldiers, Mark Antony ran under the collapsing arc of stone and entered New Bark Town. Immediately, the air was again throbbing with incredible heat that took his breath away. He took a step back, eyes tearing when all he saw was flames of brilliant orange. After a steadying breath, Mark Antony reopened his eyes to gaze at the mournful site of the beloved town, or what was left of it. Every house on either side of the cracked and rubble-littered cobble stone street was on fire. The smoke that curled from the roaring flames had turned into a toxic fog that swirled around the pieces of rubble and abandoned carriages on the street, almost managing to hide a handful of corpses from view.

    Again, Mark Antony felt nothing but fury and deep sadness for those civilians caught in the crossfire. He cared not only for Johto’s magnificent towns but for its people, even if his aloof exterior didn’t show it.

    “But they’re not my priority right now,” he firmly told himself. Mark Antony took a deep breath, fighting every urge to just go out and pummel any Kantonian he saw to the ground. The idea of freeing the town by himself was ridiculous; the notion of saving Jirachi, though, was just a bit less impossible.

    Mark Antony looked down at his charge and caught sight of the uniform he proudly wore. He creased his eyebrows in thought. After a few seconds of thinking it through, the sergeant gently laid Jirachi on the ground and took off his sash to get rid of his flared jacket. He was left with the dark-gray vest and simple leather belt he wore underneath. With one fluid movement, he unsheathed his dagger and cut a long strip of cloth that he wrapped Jirachi in, making sure every part of her was hidden.

    “There. We’re a lot obvious now, huh?”

    With that, Mark Antony began running through the street, his sash and empty sword sheath abandoned. A fog of smoke now danced around his feet then covered him in a semi-transparent veil minutes later. His coughing spasms went unheard as the sound of gunfire and explosions was deafening. Mark Antony squinted against the wall of smoke and dust, only able to see faint shapes of buildings. No amount of waving dissipated it, and the sound of war was so great that it all meshed into one chaotic orchestra that played from every direction. The sergeant found a lamppost to lean on and sighed, still trying to see through the poisonous veil that blanketed the town.

    But he then jumped to his feet. Fire materialized within the smog, and it was coming towards him. The mysterious flame bobbed closer and closer until Mark Antony discerned an echidna walking out to him, his olive-green back the source of the fire. The Cyndaquil raised his elongated snout to him, revealing that half of it and his underbelly were cream in color. The human stared at the creature’s shut eyes then at the man that finally stumbled into view. His small Pokémon worriedly looked at him and the way he gripped his limp, bleeding arm. The stranger’s lab coat had turned from a pristine white uniform to a torn, bloodied rag that hung over his gaunt form. When he looked up, strands of white hair hanging over glossy, blue eyes, his unsteady steps halted.

    “Ko… Komali,” the man rasped, addressing his attentive Cyndaquil with those exhausted eyes of his. “Is someone there?”

    Mark Antony cautiously walked towards the injured man, holding Jirachi close to his chest in case he decided to run. By the light of Komali’s flames, he concluded the stranger was completely unarmed; he only saw muddy, brown pants and a cotton shirt that stuck to his sickly-looking body. As Mark Antony approached, the Fire Mouse Pokémon kept his eyes on him, abnormally-long snout poised to open and attack if need be. The twenty-five-year-old felt his insides tighten, and his healing ribs tingled in apprehension. However, the sight of the elderly gentleman bleeding to death before his very eyes willed his feet to take him closer.

    “Are you a Johtonian?” Mark Antony asked, ignoring the part of his conscious that insisted that it didn’t matter.

    The man looked up at him and smiled. “I’m surely no Kantonian, if that’s what you’re asking. I’m one of the finest professors in this here region, I am! I’m-!”

    Mark Antony caught the professor with one hand as he lost his balance. Komali squeaked in alarm and rushed over to the sitting pair, though he spared a glance at the wrapped bundle in Mark Antony’s arm. The chestnut-haired young man didn’t notice and sat cross-legged on the street, Jirachi in his lap and his hands already taking off the civilian’s tattered lab coat.

    “If you keep bleeding, you’ll die,” Mark Antony bluntly informed him as he expertly tore the coat into manageable strips. He took the man’s bleeding arm and began to fasten a makeshift tourniquet on his bicep. “Why are you still here? Didn’t you have enough time to escape before the regiments clashed?”

    “They took away our research Pokémon,” he mumbled almost inaudibly. “I had to get them back…”

    “But they were already gone,” Mark Antony glumly finished while tying the tourniquet and arranging the rest of the cloth strips as bandages. He felt the older man slouch in guilt.

    “They did; only this little guy was left to help me.” The man nodded over to his Fire-type Pokémon, who had now decided to sit by his side. This time, Mark Antony spotted the Cyndaquil eyeing the hidden Jirachi. Warily, Mark Antony cradled the Wish Pokemon again and helped the stranger to his feet. When he was sure he would not end up toppling over his rescuer, the professor faced Mark Antony and shook his hand. “Name’s Professor Caleb Newman.”

    “Mark,” was the officer’s response, opting to not reveal his full name. Every year he had spent in the military told him that lying would be safer, for Newman as well as himself. Plus, he couldn’t help but feel that every Kantonian and Kanto-owned Pokémon would swarm towards him if he dared utter the truth.

    Professor Newman’s gaze was clearer now that Mark Antony’s tourniquet stopped his wound from bleeding. Though still pale and soaked with sweat, he managed to look at the younger man straight in the eye. “If you don’t mind me asking, Mark, what are you still doing in this once glorious town? Running into the heat of the battle, no less!”

    This actually caused Mark Antony to ruefully smile despite himself; maybe this man wasn’t as out of it as he originally thought. The small grin faded from view a second later when he looked down at Jirachi’s prone and covered form. Against his chest, the mass of cloth barely fluttered with Jirachi’s labored breaths, and with a feeling that knotted his insides, he wondered if the short intervention had caused Jirachi her life. Then again, according to Newman, he had been walking right into the line of fire.

    “I’m trying to find the Pokémon Center,” he said after a few moments of nothing but the sound of explosions in the distance. Amber eyes trailed to the helpless bundle in his arms. “This Pokémon needs help.”

    “You do know the chances of the Center still standing are slim to none, do ya, boy?” Newman took a step towards the determined officer, but Mark Antony stepped back, muscles taught with tension.

    “I have to try,” he rebutted with conviction. The professor approached Mark Antony again. This time, he was met with a hardened glare that stopped him dead in his tracks. Instead of trying again, he reached out his hand.

    “Mark, you have to trust me. I won’t hurt a hair on that little Pokémon’s head. If I see it, maybe I can help.”

    “You’re not a doctor,” Mark Antony stated, but he knew that Professor Newman was the next best thing. When the elderly man took a vial of alcohol from one of his pants pockets, Mark Antony begrudgingly approached him. He stood before the professor, one hand hovering over the strip of cloth that hid Jirachi’s face. Newman stared back, cerulean eyes full of curiosity and concern.

    “She’s not a normal species of Pokémon,” Mark Antony began. “She fell from the sky and told me she was going to die if I didn’t help her.”

    Newman said nothing at the soldier’s odd words and was instead transfixed at the sight of the goddess Mark Antony finally revealed. A wrinkled hand gently caressed the Legend’s cut-riddled face then the two tattered wish tags that hung from her star tips. Jirachi’s eyes struggled to open when she sensed the stranger’s hand, but all she could manage was a whimper that warbled in her throat. Newman retracted his hand, mouth still agape in awe, and continued to size-up the Pokémon before him. At their feet, Komali anxiously paced around them, half-closed eyes glued on the gravely-injured Psychic-type. Mark Antony watched the Cyndaquil make his rounds until his eyebrow twitched in irritation.

    “Are you going to help her or not?!” he yelled at Newman, eyes shadowed by a steaming glare that told of all the anger, frustration, and utter hopelessness that coursed through his veins. Anger from thinking of who could harm such a helpless creature made his hands, and Jirachi, quiver. Frustration that was aimed at Newman and his ability to just stand and stare made him lean closer to the professor with the intent to murder. Beneath all that, the fact that he was standing in the middle of the torn street and asking a complete stranger for help morphed into the utter helplessness that rattled his bones. It was a strange cocktail of sensations for the accomplished sergeant to feel, which made it all the worse.

    “Of course I’m going to help her,” Newman replied, seemingly unfazed by the metaphorical daggers that were sent his way. With a torn handkerchief he had fished out, the elderly Johtonian began to apply the alcohol on the cuts that peppered Jirachi’s once angelic face. “This will only make sure the cuts are not infected, if they aren’t already, but like you said, she’ll die without proper medical treatment.” His voice then dropped into a solemn note. “She might still die, though.”

    “Well then take me to the Center,” Mark Antony insisted, stealing a glance at the blade strapped to his boot. If all else failed… “You know this town better than I do.”

    Newman cocked his head, a wry smile sliding across his features when he saw Mark Antony’s dagger. “Relax, you won’t have to resort to such barbaric schemes. Follow me, and I’ll lead you to the Pokémon Center, or at least to the spot where it’s supposed to be.”

    With Komali now knowing that the powerful deity he sensed might be alright, the Pokémon breathed out a sigh of relief and followed his master. Newman, with the Cyndquil’s flames once again lighting his way, unsteadily walked to his left, where he knew a street leading to the west side of town was located. The arm that cradled his injured limb reached out to sense for a pole that sported the street signs he was looking for. Mark Antony watched the man touch destroyed house after destroyed house until he uncertainly walked towards him, an eyebrow raised in suspicion. He smoothed his frown over and tried to banish the thoughts that this Professor Newman might be a Kanto spy that was leading him right into enemy hands. Such thoughts could possibly make him run in the opposite direction or kill the guy, effectively wiping out the only chance of finding the Center without stumbling in the dark. Military intuition and human instincts were now at war with each, and all of it made his temples throb in protest.

    “Mark! I found the street!” came Newman’s voice within the toxic fog.

    The sergeant blindly stumbled to the gentleman’s side and followed him down the desolate street. It looked just like the street they left behind, but Newman, apparently, knew that this street led towards the Center. Again, Mark Antony wondered if he could trust this man. He knew of many soldiers who had the potential to kill even when they were injured as gravely as the professor. Who said the guy didn’t have a blade of his own tucked into one of his pockets?

    Deliberately falling behind a couple of steps, Mark Antony spoke up. “Why are you helping us? You obviously have no reason to go to the Center; your wound needs the attention of human doctors. Your Cyndaquil is in perfect condition as well.”

    Newman stopped and wobbled in place for a heartbeat. Mark Antony tensed and waited for the man to fall to the ground, but instead, Newman regained his balance by taking a step forward. He turned around, his sweat-stricken face alight with the joy all scientists developed when they were met by an elusive opportunity.

    “Do you know who you hold in your hands?” he asked, his words nearly silenced with wonder.

    “Jirachi,” the twenty-five-year-old simply answered. “She told me her name was Jirachi.”

    “My boy, just her name speaks volumes of the deity she is. Jirachi in the ancient tongue of our ancestors means to desire. Long ago, humans and Pokémon desired light in their darkness, so she created the stars to illuminate their way. Her powers of space bending is only matched by her power to grant the wish of any being.” Newman hobbled towards him, the foul smoke and his blood finally taking a toll on him. Mark Antony supported the man by the shoulder while Komali pulled on his owner’s pants leg to stop him from falling.

    “Do you see the wish tags on her head?” the scholar asked him once he stopped swaying from side to side. He waited until Mark Antony stroked the delicate talismans before continuing. “Each of them is imbued with enough power to grant the user any wish they desire. Those who take them without her permission are forever doomed to be ravaged by the power in it. She would use one on her own if she could,” Newman said when he saw Mark Antony about to comment, “but the wish tags are powerless if she is.”

    The army officer opened his mouth then closed it. Mark Antony settled on eyeing the Legendary Pokémon in his arms as though trying to spot the remnants of the stars she created in her hands. Then he caught sight of the bare star tip on her head.

    “It looks to me that she used to have three wish tags,” he drawled out puzzlement.

    “Yes, Jirachi is said to have three wish tags on her headdress.” Newman’s own eyes clouded in thought. “She must have trusted a very important being with one of them.”

    /A human who knows so much about me?/ a feminine voice appeared in the air. Within the exhaustion, there was a small smile in her words. /I am honored./

    “Jirachi?” Mark Antony stroked her blanched face, trying to get her to open her eyes. Jirachi wormed an arm out of the cloth cocoon to clutch one of his fingers, reassuring him that she was there even if she couldn’t see him. Newman leaned in closer, if that was possible, his eyes now as wide as saucers. His own hand hovered above her, fingers twitching as he debated over whether to touch this elusive creature. Instead of risking another suspicious glance from Mark Antony, he retracted his hand and settled for observing her.

    “Did you really give your wish tag away?” was the first thing that was out of Newman’s mouth. This was received with a dirty look from the chestnut-haired man. Mark Antony would have clobbered Newman for not seeing that a missing wish tag was the least of Jirachi’s worries if his hands weren’t full.

    Jaw set in irritation, Mark Antony continued on walking down the street with a call for Newman to keep leading the way. The older man started at the abrupt departure and quickly took his place at the front. A couple of minutes were spent on going around collapsed house walls and craters created by Pokémon attacks, and the two humans had thought Jirachi had fallen back into her restless slumber until the back of their minds tickled with her presence. They kept on walking, but their eyes had been drawn back to the Wish Pokémon.

    /I… don’t remember who I gave my wish tag to,/ Jirachi confessed to them. Her tone told of decades she had spent on pondering the question in vain. /Even though it is a part of me, for some reason, I cannot feel its presence./

    While Newman was left to muse on this mystery, Mark Antony asked, “Why are you healing me? You should use your remaining power on yourself.” Discreetly, he flexed his shot hand, silently marveling at how his bones only throbbed in protest, and touched the side of his abdomen. Crusted blood was felt on his vest, but the rib he was sure had been on the verge of puncturing through his skin could no longer be felt. The answer to his question had been swirling in his mind all this time, but he wanted to know exactly why Jirachi thought that by saving his life, hers would in turn be saved.

    /You already know the answer to that question,/ Jirachi told him, her words still veiled by a smirk. /Your wounds in comparison to mine are superficial. While my remaining power can fully heal you, my own injuries will still be as grave./

    Mark Antony nodded then thought of something. “You don’t seem to have a hard time communicating anymore.”

    /I no longer feel the need to create a barrier around myself. I feel safe in your arms./

    This caused the young human to blush.

    “Mark,” Newman’s voice rose above his Cyndaquil’s anxious squeaks. “There it is, the Center…” When he turned, the scholar’s face had gained an ivory-white shade that relentlessly drained his color. Mark Antony barely had the time to grab the man’s shoulder before Newman collapsed on the floor. Komali looked up as Mark Antony laid the man down on the street, his middle and forefingers deftly picking out the professor’s weak pulse on his neck.

    “Calm down, calm down,” he shot at the stressed echidna. “Newman just collapsed from blood loss. The walk over here exhausted him further, so that didn’t help any.” Mark Antony looked up and saw the square outline of the Pokémon Center. An intake of breath ceased his chest and made his heart start to flutter madly behind his newly-healed ribs. “Stay here with your master.”

    Komali looked at him, his hackles rising in protest, but then looked down at Newman and decided against going after him. Mark Antony, hypnotized by the building that was coming closer and closer with each running step he took, paid him no heed. He held Jirachi close to his chest, and even in her weakened state, the Psychic-type felt his heart pounding madly with glee. Jirachi managed to tilt her head up, eyes opened a crack, and see the change in his expression when he stopped seconds later.

    “What in Arceus’ name…?” Wide eyes turned into infuriated slits. “No. No! This is not how it’s supposed to be!”

    Mark Antony walked through the blown doorway and the only wall of the building that was still standing. Boots crunched the wooden remains of the rest of the Pokémon Center and the sea of broken glass that sparkled with pools of medicine. With each step, the smell of charred oak and human flesh wafted over him, undoubtedly more toxic than the silver smoke that hung over the scene. Standing on a small mountain of wobbling wood, the new vantage point allowed him to make out where Pokémon had charged in with their monstrous claws and started to conjure their hellish flames. On their way, the brutes had left crushed and charcoaled corpses that forever wore masks of terror and desperation. Some were merely citizens and staff, as he had expected the moment his nose picked up the grotesque odor of cooked flesh, while others sported the tattered remains of the Johto uniform.

    At that moment, the true horror dawned on him. Every civilian in this place had been scarified for the two measly, Johtonian soldiers he saw among the rubble. The clerk buried beneath the boards of his counter and shelves might have only greeted the soldiers as they entered. Doused in the liquid remains of the windows, the dead twins in the corner might have marveled at the soldiers’ weapons and begged the men to let them see them up-close. Through it all, the two nurses, their bloodied and bruised corpses only recognizable by their white dresses, had tried to heal the Johtonians’ wounds.

    For a while, he stood there, frozen in place, until he realized that the mound he stood on wasn’t entirely made out of shrapnel. The sight of a mangled hand reaching out of the wood made Mark Antony utter a gasp and lose his balance. A hiss of pain slithered from his lips at the sensation of dozens of glass shards sticking to his back; a slight turn of his head revealed he had missed a rusted nail to the head through sheer, dumb luck. Jirachi struggled in his iron grip, trying to see what was wrong, but Mark Antony was already getting to his feet and brushing the glass with a hand.

    “I’m okay,” he automatically told her, rubbing away the tears that sprung into his stinging eyes; the smoke had begun to settle over the decrepit remains of the Center. Never one to beat around the bush, the words, “There’s nothing here to help you,” were out of his mouth before he could stop them. When he caught what he had said, Mark Antony closed his eyes and clamped his mouth shut in anger. For the first time in his military career, he was caught without a backup plan. What had made him neglect to think ahead he couldn’t exactly pinpoint. All he knew was that Jirachi made him feel as though he could achieve anything despite the stacked odds.

    It was probably my healed injuries that fueled my confidence, turning it into cockiness, he bitterly snapped at himself.

    He tried to tell himself that he always knew that the Center was most likely destroyed, but the prideful part of him was simmering with self-loathing.

    /Mark Antony, cease your shaking. This is not your fault./

    The human’s amber eyes snapped open, and they trailed to his trembling hands. Mark Antony looked upon the wreckage again. He felt he needed to say something, an apology or even a prayer despite the fact he wasn’t religious, but nothing came to mind; Mark Antony couldn’t even muster up the energy to apologize to the Pokémon who had healed him and was now destined to die in his arms. All he wanted to do was get away from the scene before his self berating reduced him into a pathetic shadow of his former self.

    /Wait!/ Jirachi shouted in his mind. Mark Antony stopped his journey to the door and looked down, his face still marred with anger. /I sense something that can be of use. Over there, by the western side!/

    “What is it?” Mark Antony asked, his glare softening at the thought of finding something of use in the debris. Despite the glimmer of hope, he had no idea what Jirachi thought could be salvage. Could it be a vial of medicine that had rolled away from the falling walls and the trampling of Pokémon?

    /It’s buried beneath that mountain of debris,/ she directed him. Mark Antony eyed the pile of wood and tried to knock off the section of wall that made up the top. Glass shattered when he finally managed to push it off, and now he got to his knees to look through the pieces of wood. Something small in the middle was outlined by the light that trickled through the pieces of debris. Somehow, the bigger pieces at the bottom had helped form a small alcove in the center that kept the rest from smashing whatever was in the middle.

    “What is it?” the human asked, more annoyed than perplexed. Why was Jirachi wasting his time on digging out some bundle when he could be out tracking down something else? He was a man of action, one who had grown to learn that time was of the essence.

    /It’s a human baby on the last threads of life./

    Mark Antony pulled back from the wood pile to stare at her, about to protest that he couldn’t try saving another life on top of hers. To his surprise, the Legend was gaining a sheen of china-blue light that covered her body.

    /By saving it, you will save my life./

    Jirachi managed to fully open her eyes, the glow around her body beginning to brighten and pulsate in waves that rolled towards her extremities. Mark Antony saw her butterscotch irises growing into a hue of slate-gray that revealed the fearful shine she had been hiding. When he was about to ask what was going on, she gave him one of her rare glares; her wish tags rustled with the sudden surge of power.

    /You helped me immensely since we met, but now it’s time for me to carry out my last resort. My body is ready to give out on me, and there’s nothing you can do. Her eyes, now holding just a tint of melted amber, softened. /Mark Antony, if you want to help me, rescue that baby./

    Wordlessly, the sergeant laid her on the ground and managed to weave his hands into a space in the pile of wood. His fingers met burnt oak and gnarled nails before they encountered the wrapped bundle. With a hitched breath, he eased the bundle out and held it in his hands. Mark Antony breathed out when he was, indeed, holding a baby in his hands. The infant’s grimy body was mottled with bruises, cuts, and minor burns that the tattered blanket had no hope in protecting her from. When he put a finger to her quivering mouth, the weak, uneven gasps were like caresses from a feather. A pink ribbon was still tied to her fair hair.

    He sat there, mind going blank. Never in his life had he held something so delicate in his hands. Jirachi, though helpless, always had the aura of a deity about her. The moment he had held the Wish Pokémon in his arms, he knew she could’ve controlled his very will if she wasn’t critically injured. However, this baby was just that, a baby. If he dropped her, she would die. If he did nothing, she would die. Mark Antony, the type of young man who aspired to become a military hero rather than a future father, was at a complete loss at what to do.

    Jirachi managed to get on her wobbling feet, the energy that now masked her injuries giving her the strength to stand. Mark Antony stared at the abandoned strips of cloth at the Legendary’s feet then at her. Why did she look ready to die before his eyes even though she could stand? She easily met his befuddled expression with a small smile, but Jirachi’s face had the appearance of aged parchment. When she rose an inch off the ground, she seemed as lifeless as a strung puppet.

    “You’re… stronger,” he told her, feeling goose bumps rise along his flesh. No, stronger wasn’t the right word. With her haggard face and the way she let her limbs hang lifelessly, she resembled an animated corpse. Mark Antony visibly cringed at the fresh memory the comparison brought on and decided to divert his attention to the baby in his hands. Instead of being shocked that the infant girl gained the same cerulean glow, Mark Antony grew annoyed.

    “Okay, Jirachi, what the hell is going on?” he demanded. The way she calmly met his eyes with her exhausted ones just furthered angered him. His goose bumps evolved into full blown chills, however, when tears began to leak from her eyes. Jirachi brushed them away and shook her head at herself. Yet the tears could not stop flowing, and the psychic ended up turning her face away when a sob shook her shoulders.

    I’m sorry I couldn’t keep my promise, Death, Jirachi mentally voiced, feeling her heart tear in two at the mention of the reaper and the oblivious souls he was in charge of. For how long would their world be absent of stars? After she left Death’s tower, Jirachi had no doubt that she could get rid of the perpetual gloom the denizens had to suffer through, but now it seemed they would never have the Earth they thought they had.

    Unaware that Mark Antony had grown silent, too unnerved by her sudden display of weakness, Jirachi glanced at the sky, rephrasing her last thoughts. No, they will have that Earth. It’s just going to have to wait a little longer. Despite the conviction, there was still that little thought at the back of her mind that reminded her she didn’t even know if what she was about to do was going to work. Arceus had mentioned it in passing, but his tone had told her that the claim was mostly fueled by the myths humans loved to make about the Legends to emphasize their deity powers.

    In between her tumbling thoughts, Jirachi had ordered Mark Antony to hold up the infant, who had now started twitching at the sensation of the Legendary’s power flowing into her weakened limbs. Jirachi lightly touched the baby’s shut eyelids with her fingers and locked gazes with Mark Antony. The twenty-five-year-old did not look away, although he did gain his own melancholy stare; he still had no idea what was making her cry.

    /When my body vanishes, get away from here./ The spacer wielder stressed the last words with every fiber of her being. /When my aura grows stronger, those who did this to me will find this place. If you stay, they will kill you./

    “You never told me who tried to kill you,” the observant officer shot back. “I don’t like being kept in the dark; who did this to you?”

    Jirachi wasn’t sure if the tears in her eyes were new or if they were the ones who had refused to fall. /I once admired and aspired to be like them./ Before Mark Antony could remark on the vague answer, she continued, /Do I have your word that you will leave me once this is done?/

    Mark Antony focused his gaze at a piece of glass and nodded with gritted teeth. When he felt Jirachi’s eyes on him, he looked up and sighed, his jaw relaxing and his eyes losing their daggers. “Understood, but,” he added, gaze shadowing as he looked at the ground again, “why do I feel like I need to protect you, even before I knew who you were? What sort of power have you cast on me?”

    /Mark Antony, I have cast no spell on you./ She smiled down at him, and the beginnings of a laugh twitched her lips. /Is it so hard to believe that you helped me because I couldn’t help myself?/

    “Yes,” he told her, subconsciously rubbing his right hand. Jirachi lightly touched his hand and felt him cringe when her fingers brushed the blood-stained bullet that peeked out from the wound. Her knowledge of human wars was limited, but his darkened stare told her of the danger and betrayal that were always on the forefront of his mind. The Legendary slowly withdrew her hand, the smile wiped off her face.

    /I’m going to take over this infant’s body since her soul is leaving as we speak. I’ll be able to recuperate without being detected. I don’t know how long it’ll take or even if it will work, but it is the best option available. Now, Mark Antony,/ she addressed him, /shield your eyes and keep the baby aloft./

    Immediately, the silver that was shining in Jirachi’s irises exploded into a brilliance that washed over her. The human looked away, vision blurry with the tears that had sprung into his eyes. In his hands, the baby had grown almost too warm to hold. Jirachi pressed her hand harder against the baby’s shut eyes as first her tassels, then the rest of her body, began to turn into platinum smoke. Mark Antony heard the fluttering of her tassels and wish tags dwindle to be replaced by the sound of the baby’s regular breathing. Her triumphant smile was lost in the fog she had become, and as silently as dawn itself, she settled over the infant’s twitching form.

    Mark Antony reopened his eyes and looked at where Jirachi had been floating moments before. His amber eyes only met the twinkling remains of her power. Wordlessly, he brought the sleeping infant to his chest, his hand tingling as the warmth in her began to settle. Her hair and scarred skin glowed like the faintest, yet most beautiful stars above them. The military officer caressed her cut cheek, then stopped. He couldn’t stay here or take the baby (or was it Jirachi now?). Reluctantly, Mark Antony placed her behind an overturned table that miraculously escaped being trampled to pieces. He knelt there for what seemed like forever, just staring at the helpless being that slept in her raggedy blanket.

    Finally, Mark Antony got to his feet and began to run back to where he had left Professor Newman.

    Jirachi knows what she’s doing, the mantra was repeated again and again; the thought that Jirachi had only managed to mask her uncertainty well didn’t cross his mind. Only the tales of the mighty Legends of the Regions silently played, keeping him from turning back and scooping up the baby in his arms. Those myths of the Legends moving continents, creating seas, and bringing life into the once desolate planet of Earth had to hold some grain of truth after all he had just witnessed.

    “Newman,” he said, jogging to a stop. Mark Antony knelt beside the unconscious man. After a glance at the professor, though, he stopped himself from jumping to his feet. The fresh, gunpowder-coated fingerprints shone as clear as day from the man’s neck. With a barely perceptible turn of his head, he noticed Newman’s Cyndaquil was nowhere in sight.

    Damn it, he cursed, his eyes now lowering into furious slits.

    The faint sound of a gun being cocked reached him.

    Damn it!

    The next thing he knew, a bullet was lodged into his lower back. Mark Antony fell on his side, his spine aflame with pain. He planted his hands and tried to get up, but the crippling sensation of his vertebrae splitting in two forced him back to the ground. His hand reached for the blade on his boot, the sound of running footsteps and the jiggling of weapons coming closer and closer.

    Mark Antony grasped the blade of his weapon as someone grabbed him by his hair and jerked his head up. The sensation jarred his injured spine and effectively made him drop his blade. He saw the navy uniform of a Kantonian soldier before the butt of a rifle collided with the side of his head, drawing him into darkness.

    _____


    The chaotic atmosphere of New Bark Town was replaced by the solemn Kantonian camp in the outskirts. Currently, a silent Mark Antony was tied up in the middle of a tent. With his blade taken away, the tent bare of anything but him, and guards outside, he saw no reason to try and escape. Even though his ribs and hand had healed, the bullet to the spine had done something. Every now and then his fingers would twitch and curl painfully while his legs went through periods of numbness. The captive stared at the rope that bound his feet, wondering if the Kantonians were merely mocking him. He then looked up when the beige flaps of the tent parted.

    Sergeant Cassius Bradley stepped in and knelt before the Johtonian, a fine eyebrow raised in question. Mark Antony glanced at the man’s polished boots and his meticulously clean, royal-blue uniform, his face as emotionless as stone. Cassius grinned even wider, emerald eyes threatening to dance out of their sockets.

    “So this is the scourge of Johto,” the forty-year-old man remarked. His teeth, all of them as bright as his platinum-blonde hair, were shown in an acidic smile. “You really are the kid I imagined you to be.”

    Mark Antony looked up, his head inclined. “As original as I had imagined you to be, Sergeant.”

    The Kantonian ignored the remark. “I really do wish we had more time to talk. We might have had the chance if your regiment had caught up with us. This brings me to my main question.” Cassius leaned forward, shadowing Mark Antony’s indifferent expression. “Why are you here by yourself?”

    “This kid doesn’t feel that you need to know,” was the response. Mark Antony flashed his own sickly-sweet smile. When he was grabbed by his vest collar, he barked, “Go right ahead and threaten me, you barbarian! From the day I donned my uniform, I knew I was dressing for my funeral.”

    Cassius eyed his enemy’s blood-soaked vest and hand. “You’re a strange one, Colfax. Here I thought military power would make someone so young think they were… immortal.”

    Noticing the intent stare, Mark Antony chose to lead the man away from the tempting subject of his injuries. “Apparently you, though, believe you’re a great deceiver. I must admit, you fooled me and my corporal.”

    His plan worked; Cassius, the most prideful man that roamed the region, forgot about Mark Antony’s healed wounds in favor of mocking him with a loud chortle. He saw him as a child, not an equal (as shown by how he refused to address him by his sergeant title), which just made Cassius easier to fool. The Kantonian was a great strategist, Mark Antony thought, but off the battlefield, he was as self-absorbed as the kings of old.

    “I’m glad you enjoyed it, Colfax, but did you enjoy the burning of New Bark more?” came the words that tore through his thoughts like a knife.

    “Shut up!” Mark Antony shouted, his cool exterior completely lost. In his reawakened rage, he attempted to stand up, but he only managed to lose his balance. Face against the dirt, he heatedly continued, “Don’t you dare mock New Bark and everything that it stands for!”

    Cassius hauled the younger man to his feet in one easy movement and couldn’t help but smirk when the Johtonian’s unresponsive legs made him stumble into him.

    “You know, Colfax, you may act as cold and distant as the rest of us officers, but you’re still just a kid who loves his region.”

    Mark Antony snarled, once again being held by the collar. “If you don’t love Kanto then what the hell are you fighting for?”

    “I would gladly sacrifice a few Kanto cities if it meant gaining control of your government and economy.” When faced with disbelieving eyes, he added, “I don’t look down on you because of your age. You’re unfit for your rank because you have the nativity of a child. You’re not going to save every inch of Johto. You’re not going to rescue every woman and child in the region. The entire picture is going to go up in the flames due to your thick-headedness. Can you even begin to imagine all those small towns you could have saved but ignored while on your way to Cherrygrove?” Cassius cocked his head before looking down at the stunned Mark Antony. “Then again, it’s too late to talk about it now, right?”

    Pushing him back, Cassius ordered for a guard to lead Mark Antony outside by his tied hands. As the auburn-haired sergeant was forcibly straightened, he was met with the sight of a dangling blind fold.

    “Guess what today is?” were Cassius’ final, malicious words.

    Seconds later, Mark Antony was walking through a sea of inky black, all the way hearing the whooping yells of Kantonian soldiers. Their crude remarks and beastly chortles flew past him. Despite the way his legs threatened to send him toppling to the ground with each spastic sting of his spine, he marched on, his head held high and his steps always sure. Minutes were hours in his blinded world; each step was a leap away from life.

    Sometime during the infinite march, he was stopped and told to stay in place. Cassius’ footsteps past him until they faded among the single cock of a rifle. Every soldier in the camp settlement was now silent and turned into one, solemn entity.

    “Any last words?” Cassius yelled from somewhere in the pitch of night.

    Mark Antony, as tall and proud as ever, replied, “I’ll see you in Hell!”

    The single round was fired, and he fell to the floor.

    ______


    In the dank interior of his tower, Death started, then closed his single eye in a smirk. He turned away from the window and teleported in a cloud of curling smoke.

    Finally.

    He had been growing tired of waiting.

    ______


    “This wouldn’t have happened if she had listened.”

    Celebi turned towards her elder brother. Mew’s features, though shadowed by the heavy smoke New Bark Town expelled, were clearly contorted in fury and something else the forest spirit identified as… satisfaction?

    “Mew!” she exclaimed, grabbing the pink feline by the shoulders and turning him to face her anxious, cerulean eyes. Mew raised an eyebrow, staring at her hands as though challenging Celebi to continue holding him in such a manner. The Grass-type released him like a hot coal but still held her demanding stare.

    “Jirachi was the only one who knew of our exact plans. With her out of the way, there will be no opposition.”

    “She’s our sister,” the time traveling pixie responded as they both descended towards the ravaged town.

    “I hardly knew her,” was Mew’s curt reply. The New Species Pokémon turned towards the shocked Celebi, the small embers that still dotted the sky rushing past him and illuminating his coy grin. “Besides, isn’t she your sister, too?”

    Knowing what he was implying, Celebi turned silent. Then they both stopped in midair, their gazes connecting. Jirachi’s extremely faint aura had skyrocketed into their radars for a reason they couldn’t pinpoint. All they knew was that it felt like a drastic shift of power, much like when they took the life essence of nature to fuel their own attacks. Mew gained a rather pleased smile and dove deeper into New Bark, now knowing exactly where to go. Celebi was on his tail, weaving through the wreckage once they were following the street. When she reached the remains of the Pokémon Center, Mew was already floating over a lifeless body.

    “Mew…?”

    “Let’s go back to Heaven.” He deftly used his psychic powers to levitate Jirachi’s corpse for his horrified sister to see. Celebi swallowed, reaching towards the battered body with her powers.

    Nothing.

    Unsure of how she felt, Celebi teleported away with Mew and her sister’s remains.

    Moments later, a baby’s cry broke the silence they left. Now that Jirachi’s body has been forcibly expelled, the soul the Legend had thought would not last much longer was overtaking hers. Although she fought with every fiber of her being, everything that she’d gone through that night had taken too much of a toll. On top of that, this human, though young as she was, wanted to survive.

    She should have never underestimated the power of the human soul.

    _____


    A/N: This... is the turning point in the story where the main plot finally begins. Actually, it's in the second book where the plot gets going, but the next chapter sets some of it up. This chapter, I think, is the point where you'll decide whether to continue reading or not. ^^;

    Oh, Full Metal Alchemist refrences!

    1. The part where Mark Antony said he knew he was dressing for his funeral is similiar to what Wrath told Mustang in the manga about Hughes.

    2. The last line is a refrence to what GreedLing told Wrath in Volume 14. Hehe, I luff GreedLing.

    What's in store for Chapter Seven? Well Mark Antony, unfortunately, does not get to meet Cassius in Hell because Death and those in Heaven have something in store for him. He's not the least bit thrilled.


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  9. #9
    WhatWasOnceIsNoLongerWere Phantom Kat's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Guardian Angel (PG-13) (Chapter 6 is up!)

    Song for this chapter: Distortion World from Pokemon Platinum.

    This is the perfect background music for Purgatory. 8)

    _____

    Chapter 7

    Judgment Day and Beyond



    When Mark Antony reopened his eyes, all he saw was a sea of red.

    He tried to blink away the bright spots that danced in front of his eyes, but the burning color of ruby that was everywhere around him made it impossible. Frustrated by his surroundings and his spinning head, Mark Antony spit out the sand from his mouth and picked himself up. After he did, he sat there, licking his lips as his eyebrows furrowed in thought; he couldn’t taste the sand. Deciding it was because the earth itself was so dry and lifeless, the soldier stood up and looked around. Despite his cool exterior, he bit his lower lip in worry. All he saw among the desert was a blood-shot sky and mountain peaks that looked too sharpened to be real. Mark Antony turned every which way, but the scenery was the same.

    “Where am I?” he questioned aloud. Mark Antony walked a couple of steps forward, noticing how his footsteps collapsed into mounds of still sand within seconds. His eyes strained against the harsh red that threatened to swallow him into the depths of this extremely alien land. The mountain peaks were as far and foreboding as ever, and no other silhouettes rose up to greet him. “Hello?!”

    His yell faded in a heartbeat.

    Mark Antony let out a frustrated sigh and began to trek through the desolate wasteland of scarlet. He kept his eyes on the lookout for anything that hinted humanity or Pokémon life, but it was useless. The land was so dry that there was no hope for footprints to survive for more than a breath. No burrows, tunnels, or plant life decorated the land. Those fang-like mountain peaks were the only things that rose up towards the sky. When the constant sound of empty, crunching sand began to grate on his nerves, Mark Antony looked up towards the sky, trying to find a speck of a cloud or feel a gust of wind.

    Rippling goose bumps made him stop in his tracks. He had raised his right hand to his head and saw that there was no dried blood or bullet in sight. With a sharp gasp, he stumbled back and landed on the sand, his hand still aloft in utter horror. Mark Antony turned it this way and that, but there was nothing to be found. Upon closer inspection, his skin was borderline translucent; the red-tinted light the sky gave off didn’t seem to have any effect.

    “Am I…dreaming?” he guessed, honestly at a lost as to what was going on. After finding a Pokémon deity and witnessing some mystical method of human possession, Mark Antony couldn’t be sure what was real and what was not.

    Between his pale fingers, he saw the outline of some small shapes. Unable to believe his eyes, the sergeant jogged towards them and stopped when he clearly saw they were the tops of towers set into a deep valley. Mark Antony rocked on the edge, and his eyes scanned the small civilization hidden in this twisted place. He stilled as he watched people going in and out of their wooden houses. The utter normalcy chilled him to the bone, but he still leaned even closer, noting that the style of dress ranged drastically from one cluster of people to another.

    Just then, a blur of silver rushed out from below him. The creature planted his two thick pillars for feet on the ground, and the wave of supernatural power knocked Mark Antony backwards until he lay sprawled on the ground. An eye as scarlet as the sky above looked down at him, and the three gray flaps on the Pokémon’s face fluttered in a grunt. Mark Antony stared up at the Dusclops and the pale, gargantuan hands that picked him up by the collar of his vest, which he now saw was mysteriously free of blood, grime, and tears. The white wisps of cloth that flowed from the phantom’s head and back were whipping with his displeasure.

    “So this is where I dropped you,” he said to himself; his hollowed body echoed like an aged drum.

    “Pardon?” Mark Antony couldn’t help but growl at the strange creature. Placing his hands on the Dusclops’ massive grasp, he began to struggle. “Let me go!”

    Dusclops scoffed, his sole eye shining in slight amusement. “Yes, I’m going to let you wander around after spending an eternity locating you,” he sarcastically remarked. Ignoring Mark Antony’s protests and demands, the guard began to float back down towards the hidden village.

    “Who the hell are you anyway?” the soldier kept on going, digging the heels of his boots to the cliff side in hopes of slowing the ghost down. Dusclops briefly stopped and looked at his burden with a glare. Mark Antony smiled smugly when he saw that the Pokémon was annoyed enough to give him his full attention. “You can’t just drag a person wherever you please. Who do you work for? Who’s calling the shots?”

    “Death,” came the solemn answer.

    It was Mark Antony’s turn to scoff incredulously. “Death is no stranger to me. I cannot count how many times people have told me that death was what awaited me.” His smile faltered when the back of his mind prickled and tried to drive a recent memory into his conscious. Now that he thought about it, what was he doing before he woke up in this land of red? For some reason, he couldn’t find the pieces between leaving the Pokémon Center and winding up face down in the sand.

    Dusclops chortled when he saw Mark Antony’s expression shift from confident to downright worried. With his charge too distracted to put up much of a struggle, the ghost easily dragged him down the cliff’s side. “Trust me, boy, this is the end of the line. There’s no turning back now.”

    Wham!

    Dusclops flew back when the boot came in contact with his chin. Mark Antony was dropped to the floor, where he landed in a crouch and immediately took off. He had no idea where he was heading. His fight-or-flight response had just been too strong to ignore this time around, especially with his suddenly throbbing head. Something the Dusclops had said really hit home, whatever home was. It had sent his heart racing and his anger over the brim. Even as he felt the Pokémon’s power swell behind him, there was no room to care.

    The wayward young man found himself behind an old-style wooden cabin, his back against the backdoor and his eyes staring at the water pump nestled in between two piles of firewood. Mark Antony straightened just as a woman walked from the front of the house, her faded blue bonnet askew and only being supported by her hair bun. Mark Antony stood up as her pale-red skirt brushed past him but backed up when he noticed that she didn’t give him the time of day. She wandered over to her clothesline and began to drape the imaginary clothes that were bundled in the crook of her arm. He walked in front of her and stared at her unseeing silver eyes. Though different in color, he was reminded of the burning irises of the possessed Banette.

    “Hey, snap out of it!” he harshly whispered, taking the woman by the shoulders and shaking her like a rag doll. Mark Antony shook her for all he was worth, eventually winding up knocking her bonnet from her head and loosening her fair hair. Nobody deserved to be puppets like he had been.

    Mark Antony was pulled back then held up in the air. A familiar voice snarled in his ear, “Are you trying to get me in trouble? I-!”

    “You’re doing a marvelous job on that on your own.”

    A presence blanketed them, which sent Mark Antony’s body into a full-blown case of the shivers. Dusclops gave a start and turned around to face the newcomer; Mark Antony, with the phantom holding him by the back of his vest, could not.

    His capturer stiffened but still managed to speak calmly. “This soul tried to escape. It was fortunate that I caught him before he shook this one from her trance.” Dusclops cocked his head to the female soul.

    “So she is under a spell!” Mark Antony shouted, craning his head to address both Dusclops and the newcomer.

    “Shut your trap, you damned-!”

    “That is enough!” the stranger bellowed.

    A surge of unseen power swept the area. Mark Antony was dropped to the floor as the Dusclops jumped in shock. The sergeant turned around, but the view of the stranger was blocked by Dusclops’ hovering form. He moved out of the way as the ghoul backed up with every shouted word that slapped him in the face.

    “Due to your incompetence, this soul wound up in the middle of Purgatory! Also,” the stranger continued rather cynically, “as I recall, I had told everybody that I would be the one to transport him here. And no, you weren’t doing me a favor by going against my orders. Now be off!”

    Dusclops’ eye was redirected to his hulking feet; then it landed on Mark Antony as a simmering coal. When he flew off towards another area of the village, Death revealed himself and floated towards the enraged Mark Antony. When the cyclops approached him, the man was on his feet and poised to defend himself. Death inclined his head, anger fizzing into amusement. Mark Antony only tensed at the Pokémon’s silence, unsure what the narrowing of that single eye meant.

    “Do I really need to ask what I want from you?” the frustrated young man asked at length, his fists still held in front of him. He had a feeling that Death needed no questions, since it seemed at a glance that he had all the answers. No amount of asking was going to get them faster, as he had learned in the short amount of time spent in Purgatory.

    “No, as you had just realized,” the Dusknoir finally answered. He uncrossed his arms and came closer, the flaps around his head twitching as he prepared himself for the long explanation he was going to give. Mark Antony looked up, his shivers going up a notch and now overtaking his entire body. It wasn’t nerves or fear that shook his knees like rattles. Something within this creature made his entire being jump.

    “I’m guessing you know why my body is doing that?” Mark Antony prodded in order to gain entrance to the explanation he knew he was going to receive.

    Death, now fully entertained by the former human’s cheeky manner of speaking, chuckled; Mark Antony raised an inquisitive eyebrow when the face on the Pokémon’s stomach opened in a grin. “This isn’t really the place I had planned to explain to you what just happened, but due to the circumstances, it is better not to dawdle. Relax and listen to what I’m about to say.”

    A bit reluctantly, Mark Antony lowered his fists and sat down on the back step of the cabin’s door. Death floated back a foot, the female soul now gone, but that did not relieve Mark Antony’s shivers. The twenty-five-year-old endured it, knowing an explanation was going to make it worth it. However, what he did not expect was Death suddenly placing a massive hand on his forehead and tilting his head back.

    “Before I can fully explain what this place is and what you’re doing here, I need to bring some of your memories to the forefront of your mind.” A short pause where only Mark Antony’s ragged breathing was heard followed. “Will you allow me?”

    The soul’s breathing slowed when the realization that this creature was not like Banette hit. He uttered a dry, “Yes,” and waited for whatever he was going to feel.

    To his surprise, it was neither painful nor mind-blowing. With a deep breath, everything he had been trying to remember came back. Death retracted his hand and observed Mark Antony’s blinking eyes and then the way they lowered to his shaking hands. The Johtonian then looked up, cocked his head to one side, and muttered, “Of all the things I could‘ve forgotten, you would think I would at least remember my own death.”

    The Dusknoir waited for a few moments before speaking. “This is Purgatory, the place where all souls go to await Judgment. Normally, you would be transported here immediately after death and put under our spell.” He did not miss Mark Antony’s darkened expression. “This spell makes souls believe that these tiny villages that dot Purgatory are their homes. It is vital that all souls retain the same mentality as when they were on Earth so they can be Judged properly.”

    Still seeing Mark Antony’s less-than-pleased scowl, Death simply said, “Ignorance is bliss in this desolate world. I have seen more souls than I care to count spiral into insanity when they manage to break free of my spell. Some are never found in the vastness of Purgatory.”

    Flinching, the former human looked away to glance at the souls he saw passing by. “So that’s what that crazy thing was shouting about. He was trying to make me into one of those silver-eyed drones.” His tone was indifferent with a hint of amusement, as though he had known that no such fate would ever befall him.

    “You’re not that different from them.” When Mark Antony looked up in question, Death conjured a floating disk of emerald fire. As its surface flattened and shined until it was a mirror, the executed Johtonian leaned forward. Platinum eyes blinked back at him until the mirror went up in a plume of smoke.

    “My eyes are the same as theirs,” he realized, leaning back. “But why did you stop that thing from putting me under the spell?”

    “I stopped that Dusclops because I have other plans for you. You are driven, headstrong, and loyal to those you serve. I can make use of your attributes.”

    Mark Antony stood up and looked towards the sky. Instead of the scathing remark he expected to say to someone who wanted to control him, he sighed and ran pale fingers through his hair. Was this the beginning of the shock of finding out he was no longer among the living? Whatever the feeling was, it made him realize that he had no say about what was going to happen to him next. “What did you have in mind?”

    “I’ll answer that once we get to Heaven. We have an appointment with Arceus himself.”

    “Heaven? Arceus?” Mark Antony asked, going over to Death. “You must be pretty important to meet Arceus.” His critical tone was lost among a bout of shivers and the awe that was beginning to build within him.

    The Pokémon put a hand on the soul’s shoulder. “I’m Death, a Dusknoir imbued with the power to keep this place in control. That’s why you’re shaking so; the soul recognizes the one who will decide its fate.”

    Death then waved his free hand in the air to create a rip in the space of Purgatory itself. In it, Mark Antony saw pearl-white towers, buildings, and walkways that wound around clouds. The vision then zoomed into a magnificent palace. Details blurred when he found himself thrust headlong towards it. A pop! signaled the closing of the portal, a sound no soul paid attention to.

    _____


    Mark Antony’s eyes stung when he opened them. The abrupt change from merciless scarlet to blinding white made him squint and look at the floor. Death began to help him to his feet, but he practically dropped him when he saw who was at the front of the grand room. Mark Antony got to his feet, opened his mouth to shout a complaint, but was silenced by the room he found himself in. Though it was empty of feuding Legendaries, Arceus’ Chamber was filled with the ambiance of power and might.

    “Where is Arceus?” the Dusknoir demanded to the pair of beings that watched them with identical, superior expressions.

    Mark Antony looked up and saw Mew and Celebi on top of one of the pillars that overlooked the chamber. Childhood bedtime stories and the faded depictions he saw within the old books jumped into his mind. Their real-life counterparts inclined their heads; Mew’s small grin smoothed into a solemn frown.

    “He’s out dealing with other matters. Celebi and I are in charge while he’s away.”

    Death did not look pleased by the answer. He crossed his arms and looked up with an agitated whip of his small, wispy tail. “I hope he informed you that I might come with a potential assistant.”

    The word was enough to make Mark Antony divert his mesmerized stare to the phantom. “Assistant?” It was then that he also realized he could understand these Pokémon. Looking down at himself, he concluded within his haze of amazement that it had something to do with being dead.

    “Yes, he did mention it before leaving,” Mew drawled with a disinterested flick of his ears. However, his china-blue eyes gained a dangerous sparkle when they caught sight of the soul. With the grace of a Persian, the Legend was flying towards Mark Antony. The twenty-five-year-old stepped back when Mew’s snout threatened to touch his nose.

    “So this is your candidate?” he purred. “An unfeeling, self-absorbed war hero?”

    “I-!”

    Mew silenced Mark Antony with his sudden scowl and piecing stare. “I suggest you keep silent. This is your Judgment, after all.”

    “That was not the agreement,” Death stepped in, more than a little perturbed now. “Arceus agreed he would allow me to choose any soul I saw fit with no Judgment.”

    Mew floated back, but Celebi flittered to his side from up above. “Arceus isn’t here,” she remarked harshly. “Father left us in charge of Heaven and all his duties. So step aside and let us see his life.”

    The time traveler raised a lime-green hand, but Death pulled Mark Antony back before his entire life was laid for the Legendary Pokémon to Judge. Celebi blinked then growled at the interference. Mew’s forehead merely wrinkled in displeasure and thought. Holding his sister back with a look, he analyzed the grim reaper with eyes that betrayed his playful appearance. “Do you really think that he would be of any use?”

    Death held a strange shine to his eye, much like a faint grin that said he knew more than he was letting on. “I had been observing the human’s war for quite some time. My eye was drawn to him, and I created a connection that would allow me observe him, follow him. This soul is headstrong, loyal, and bright. He has seen his fair share of hardships. It’s only a shame he died so young.”

    Mark Antony felt like he needed to say something, but truth be told, Mew’s stare scared him. His spine was sent into a frenzy of chills when the New Species Pokémon gave him his full attention. Still talking to Death, Mew snidely commented, “Yes, a shame.”

    “Just leave him here with us, and we’ll find a more suitable afterlife for him,” Celebi logically said. When she tried to mimic Mew’s devilish grin, a sickly-sweet smile was born instead. “He’s too brash, conniving, and cruel to be given such power. He might even be too sinful to reincarnate.”

    Mark Antony finally found his voice, though it wasn’t filled with its usual vibrato. “Too sinful to reincarnate?” he echoed. “What do you mean by that? I’ll be stuck in Heaven for all eternity?” When Celebi’s smile was reflected back at him, he instantly knew that it wasn’t Heaven they had in mind. Like a blow to the stomach, he realized that Celebi was not as divine and motherly as the bedtime stories depicted. He stepped back and gave them one wave of his arms. “Oh no, I will not let some damn pixie gods decide what happens to me.”

    “You dare spout your nonsense in these hallow halls?” the Grass-type hissed, the irises of her eyes lighting up in a brilliant shade of sapphire. “To Mew?” Mark Antony found it interesting that Celebi didn’t mention herself.

    “Yes! I do!” he shouted back, completely forgetting where he was or who he was talking to. The fact that he could be sentenced to an eternity of Arceus-knows-what if he didn’t speak up overshadowed Celebi’s cold fury and Mew’s solemn expression, if only for a second that was long enough to shout things he would later regret. “My afterlife shouldn’t be decided by the likes of you!”

    Mark Antony clamped his mouth shut as an electric-blue aura rolled up and down his body. Celebi picked him up into the air with one angered thought. She snarled, her beautiful features contorted into an infuriated mess. The Johto Legend watched him like a bird of prey, waiting for him to utter one more insult about Mew so that she had enough of an excuse to obliterate his soul from the from face of all three worlds.

    “Let him be your assistant then.”

    Death, Celebi, and Mark Antony turned to Mew. The feline’s brow was twitching in annoyance, and his tail slashed the air with audible snaps. “Let this poor excuse of a soul rule Purgatory alongside you. Let him forever endure a life of hard labor, death, despair, and starless skies. His soul reflects that desolate world of yours perfectly. Obliteration is too much mercy for the likes of him.

    “Mark Antony Colfax,” Mew continued, expecting Mark Antony’s silver eyes and the growing glimmer of fear he could see within them. “By putting you in Death’s hands, humanity will forever be rid of a plague like you. Nevermore will they be scourged by your existence.”

    The soul was dropped to the floor with a grunt from the time traveler.

    “That settles it then,” Mew announced with a clap of his paws, his smile toxic. “Now leave, Death. I’m sure your duties don’t allow for more conversation. Besides, more pressing matters are to be attended here before Arceus returns.”

    Mark Antony picked himself up and turned his back on the proud Mew and murderous Celebi. “Get me a freaking scarf or something already,” he muttered to Death with chattering teeth. “You, this place, and those gods over there are going to send me into shock soon.”

    “I’ll file a complaint,” Death laughed, which caused his charge to do a double take. Mark Antony sighed; he was just reminded of Edward’s short chuckles. The corporal had been the only one who could get away with laughing at him in such a teasing manner.

    Noticing the past tense in his thoughts, the auburn-haired man closed his eyes and shook his head. He and Death were then engulfed in a cloud of smoke and luminous emerald flames. When nothing of them remained, Mew and Celebi flew towards the top of one of the pillars.

    “What will we do with you?” Mew addressed the pillar’s top.

    Jirachi’s body materialized on the platform. Brother and sister looked at each other, nodded, and put their hands out above the cold corpse. It started glowing white, and the aura then fluctuated between jade and rose pink. Little by little, Mew and Celebi were erasing any trace that their powers were Jirachi’s undoing.

    _____


    Death and Mark Antony appeared inside the tallest tower in Purgatory. Mark Antony blinked at the bleakness, wondering if the surroundings would forever change in intensity. Massaging his eyes, he leaned back and almost fell through the window that overlooked the small village below. Taking a peek behind him, Mark Antony bit his lip and edged away, settling for clasping his hands behind him and watching as Death wandered deeper into the room.

    “Here.”

    From the darkness came flying something long and thin. With honed reflexes, Mark Antony reached out and caught the ebony handle. He winced slightly; whatever he had caught sent a paralyzing shiver down his spine. Once he shook away most of the chills, he inspected the scythe with morbid interest. He traced the three-foot blade that curved in an arc with a finger that didn’t bleed and then probed the ivory skull at the tip with an inquisitive, platinum gaze. The dark orb nestled inside stared back from behind the empty eye sockets.

    “What’s t-this?” he asked, though he was already piecing two and two together. The slight stutter was a result of the chill that had escalated from his hands to his jaw.

    “That’s your instrument now. Instead of taking lives, you’ll be guarding them.” Ignoring Mark Antony’s perplexed look, Death then said with a smirk intertwined in his words, “And you need a new uniform. You no longer take sides. You will protect every life I assign you equally.”

    The soul opened his mouth to protest, but the words were whisked away by the smoke that suddenly soared around him. It was gone before he realized that his body, or soul, rather, no longer needed to cough. Waving away the puffs of smoke, Mark Antony stepped back and examine himself with distaste. What had been left of his Johto uniform was replaced with an ash-gray, swallow-tailed coat that was buttoned over his vest and dress pants of an inky black. His boots blended in with the gray stones at his feet, no matter which way he turned. The only thing of his ensemble that didn’t seem grim was the brown leather shoulder strap that went across his chest and over his back. A feel behind him told him there was a sheath of some kind to insert his newly-obtained scythe.

    There was one other thing he noticed about his uniform.

    “Do you find this amusing?” Mark Antony dully asked with a tug at the olive-green scarf that was wrapped around his neck and tied by a golden clip.

    “Do you find that warm?” the Dusknoir countered with a nod to the scarf.

    Mark Antony only grunted because he was, in fact, free from his shivers.

    “The scarf allows your soul to ignore my aura and the scythe’s.”

    “Okay, but why the outfit?”

    Death shrugged. “With these clothes, you show no allegiance to a region or group of people. You are simply a servant of Death, a guardian angel that protects every life assigned to you with no prejudice or bias.”

    “Yeah, that,” Mark Antony stopped him. Slamming the butt of the scythe’s handle down, he leaned on it and glared. “I thought I was going to help you gather souls like me and bring them here. Isn’t that what you do, what you want me to use this scythe for?”

    The ghoul met his glare with a serious, leveled gaze. “I and my Dusclops guards can handle bringing the souls here. However, there are humans on Earth who are not ready to die. As tame as space and time are, as carefully watched as the time stream is, there are those who die before their time. Why? Not even the gods fully understand the universe. This is why I need an assistant that can watch over these humans and protect them until the danger has passed. I need someone with good judgment, courage, and wit.”

    “Is it really necessary to put so much effort into saving a handful of people?” the new assistant asked, not totally convinced.

    “Not doing so will cause unforeseen futures. Their futures might potentially conflict with someone else’s, causing rips in time.” Death inwardly smiled when Mark Antony’s already pale face morphed into a fearful expression.

    “And I’m supposed to prevent this?” he asked skeptically.

    “You did prevent Jirachi’s death, after all.”

    Mark Antony’s raised eyebrows snapped down to form a suspicious glare. “How do you know about that?”

    Death put a massive hand up to calm him. “The moment Jirachi fell to Earth, I began to keep an eye on her, though I should have done so immediately after our conversation.” There were undertones of guilt in his words. “That’s when I noticed you and your potential.”

    The soul absently nodded, his eyes troubled and his mind too preoccupied to ask what Jirachi had been doing in Purgatory. As much as he disliked showing he was unsure on something, he asked, “Did I really save Jirachi?”

    Death mentally frowned and decided to word his words carefully. “By hiding herself inside a human, she’ll be able to regain her power over time. How long that will take, only Jirachi knows. Now,” he announced loudly when he saw Mark Antony was losing focus, “training starts now.”

    “Training?” Mark Antony exclaimed, his solemn stature replaced by his usual stubborn self. He eyed the collecting slivers of smoke in Death’s hand with a frown. “You haven’t fully explained what I’m supposed to do.”

    The Dusknoir gave his newly-created scythe an experimental swing. “Then we should get started, shouldn’t we?”

    “Right,” was the miffed response he got. Mark Antony straightened and took hold of his scythe; Death floated over and righted his own.

    Before the phantom could begin speaking, however, Mark Antony whirled towards him, remembering one of his questions from before. “I have to ask, though. How can I understand what you Pokémon are saying?”

    Death gave him a look equivalent to a raised eyebrow but answered all the same. “Souls are more attuned to other souls and their auras. The Legendary Pokémon and ethereal beings such as myself and my Dusclops guards have auras that are easily read by souls due to their sheer power. That is why you can understand us.”

    “What about normal Pokémon?”

    Death tilted his head in thought. “Though I’ve never witnessed this myself, I would assume a soul could understand a Pokémon better than a human. However, it would not be enough to understand their every word.”

    Mark Antony cocked his own head. “Interesting,” he trailed off with furrowed brows.

    “Can we start now?” interrupted the grim reaper.

    Silver eyes were raised, and Mark Antony straightened. “Yes, we can start.”

    Death gave him the same look as before and continued.

    “To protect the humans you are assigned to, you’re going to temporarily take the soul of a Pokémon with your scythe and store it in the orb inside the skull.” Death touched the macabre object on his scythe, and Mark Antony did the same with his own. “You then inhabit the Pokémon’s body and use its skills to protect the human.”

    Fingers were retracted from the skull in surprise. “I’m going to become a Pokémon?!”

    “In a way,” Death admitted, the face on his stomach grinning from ear to metaphorical ear. “After your mission is done, I’ll retrieve you and return the Pokémon’s soul into its body. If done correctly, the soul will suffer no ill-effects.”

    “Do I have to utter some sort of incantation or something?” Mark Antony guessed.

    “No, nothing that complicated,” Death said with a shake of his head. “Your scythe will know how to extract and store the soul. All you have to do is create the perfect opening for the soul to escape the body without harming either one. You cannot falter or be unsure.”

    “Sounds just like the army,” the student mused with a melancholy smirk. Automatically, he gripped the scythe tighter and slipped into a fighting stance his father had drilled into him since he was four; the scythe was the worn staff his father had forced into his hands.

    The pitter-patter of feet made him look into the darkness of the room. Mark Antony saw big sapphire eyes staring into his own before the Pokémon’s ruby body emerged into the light. The Ledian cocked his head, two black antennae twitching in interest. From his four spindly arms, fists were raised in greeting.

    “A Ledian,” Mark Antony marveled. He stepped closer and couldn’t help but expect the Bug-type from his beige belly to the four black spots that adorned his closed wings. Death smiled; he guessed the twenty-five-year-old was either shocked that a living, breathing Pokémon was in Purgatory or feeling the first bouts of homesickness. Ledian stood there, calm, if a bit amused.

    “This Pokémon was more than happy enough to help me in your training,” he told the soul.

    Mark Antony turned from where he was crouched in front of the ladybug. “Really? What’s in it for him?”

    Death glanced out the window. “I promised he could see his master one last time.”

    Silver eyes were lowered. “Oh.”

    “Lei Lei!” Ledian comforted him with a pat on the shoulder.

    Death came to them and put a hand on Mark Antony’s other shoulder. “He’s right. This is a training session in where sad times are not to be contemplated. Stand up and take your scythe in hand.” Once Mark Antony did so, and Ledian stepped away a couple of paces to allow for some room, he continued, “Clear your mind and hold your scythe above your head. Then give Ledian once downward slice.”

    Death floated back and raised his own scythe above his head. Mark Antony had to rein his instincts in to avoid jumping back when the sickle came flying down in a graceful arc. Mark Antony raised his scythe as Death leaned against his.

    “Just like that?” the sergeant questioned, the sickle shining above his head. Ledian looked on with a determined frown, his body stock still.

    “Just like that.”

    Mark Antony returned his gaze to the Pokémon. Death had said that the scythe knew what to do, that all he had to do was swing, but the scythe didn’t feel any different. A sigh mounted his lips and left with the words, “You better know what you’re doing.”

    The menacing sickle came down and passed through Ledian’s body like the ghost that had crafted it. Ledian collapsed on the floor and laid motionless at Mark Antony’s feet. Raising his scythe, the assistant saw a glowing blue sliver of light wrapped around the blade. It pulsated and tightened around the metal like a child hugging its favorite blanket. By the light of the sliver, Ledian’s prone, lifeless form was illuminated.

    “That’s the basic form of a soul,” Death told his mesmerized charge. “When not brought here or to Heaven, this is how they look. They can only do one thing: struggle to get back to their body. Pick the soul off, and hold it in front of the skull.”

    “I can’t help but think that this is some form of disrespect,” he sarcastically quipped as he picked the soul off with his fingers like he would a piece of string. Mark Antony blinked then stumbled forward when the soul gave one tremendous tug towards Ledian. “Whoa! Hold on there!” He turned to Death, who looked like he was inwardly chuckling at his trouble. “How in Arceus’ name do I hold on to it?!”

    “Just tighten your hold, and tell it to stay still. Remember, you are now in control, and the soul will know that.”

    “Stay still,” Mark Antony firmly told the wiggling mass in his grasp. He gave an opposing tug, and the soul reluctantly stilled. Mark Antony held it up to his face then in front of the skull. It slithered through one of the eye sockets and settled inside the orb. “Now why couldn’t my soldiers be as loyal as you are?” he asked as he examined the orb and the cerulean brilliance that swirled within it.

    Another tug pulled at his body, but this one had wrapped around his waist and thrust him backwards towards Ledian’s body. Mark Antony only saw Death easily catch the scythe he dropped in surprise before the darkness that had started to creep around the edges of his vision enveloped him.

    _____


    He had thought that that the darkness was going to knock him out for a long while, but Mark Antony blinked the world back into focus only a breath later. Death stared at him from high up in the air, his body and the two scythes he held absolutely colossal. Mark Antony picked himself up, and when four hands helped him up instead of two, he knew what had happened.

    “Was a warning too much for you to say?” Mark Antony acidly remarked. His antennae quivered as he realized the words he had just spoke weren’t in English. Blue eyes widened, and he muttered a few words to himself in fascination.

    “You might have hesitated if you were told, and the soul would have slipped your grasp,” the grim reaper simply explained. The glare he was given was not lessened. When Mark Antony settled for just shooting him a dirty look, he elaborated, “When a body no longer senses its soul anywhere near, it will suck in the nearest soul in a last ditch effort to survive. ”

    “How selfish,” Mark Antony quipped as he turned around and inspected the four-foot-body he now occupied.

    “No soul can occupy an empty body; it will end with the destruction of both the soul and the vessel. Your scythe, though,” he held it up, the blue light in the orb casting his face in shadow, “imbues you with the power that allows you to fully control the body with no side effects.”

    “I’d hate to be destroyed after you just convinced Mew and Celebi not to wipe me off the map.” He had been about to say, “let me live,” but his mind automatically corrected it before the words were out of his mouth. Now that he had a real body again, that creeping feeling he had been feeling since he saw his pale skin and colorless eyes manifested itself into a heart that painfully ached. The sensation of breathing once again made him realize how much he had missed it. Even if the air provided by the atmosphere of Purgatory was thin and stale, Mark Antony thought it was the most refreshing thing ever.

    “I’m fine,” he insisted when he saw Death’s stomach contorted in a concerned frown. The expression became blurry as tears brimmed and spilled down his face. Frustration boiled when he couldn’t stop the flow of tears, and the wings on his back spread open and buzzed madly. “I just need a breather.” There was a moment of silence. “It’s funny,” Mark Antony started to say, his wings lying flat on his back and his antennae drooping. “I had said to Cassius I was prepared to die, and now I’m here wishing that this Ledian’s body was my own.”

    “Nobody is truly prepared to die,” the Dusknoir told him as he traced Mark Antony’s scythe; he knew such a proud man did not want to be looked down upon right now. “It’s human nature to always strive to be better and fulfill everything and anything. No matter how long you live, you will always feel that life was cut too short.”

    Mark Antony inclined his head towards his teacher, each heartstring pull taught with the strange feeling that it was the end of the world for him. He didn’t know what was worst: never being able to live again, to travel, sleep, to know that the next day would be another chance to make something of himself or knowing that he would never be there when Johto was savaged by Kanto. Each realization was as depressing as the other. “Am I going to get used to this?”

    “Think of it this way.” Death ignored the scythe he was expecting to wave a hand to the window and the bleak scenery that was forever present. “Yes, those souls down there live in ignorant bliss, but they, until their Judgment centuries from now, will never be able to live on after death. Each day will be filled with repetitiveness of their every day lives, and they do not have the power to do more. You, on the other hand, will have the chance to experience new things, to evolve, and see the world change. It’s your choice, however, whether you want to move on or not.”

    Silence reigned for a few minutes. A sigh was then heard, and Mark Antony faced Death again. It was hard to tell which emotion was prominent in those wide eyes, but his half smile was less vague. It wobbled on his face, threatening to give away to the ache of the heart that wasn’t even his, but his stubborn, determined demeanor made it stay in place. “I’m sure as Hell not going to sit here and mope. I’ve never been one to do that, and I am not going to start now.” He heaved another sigh to calm his fluttering heartbeat. “Now what more do I need to learn?”

    “Exactly what I wanted to hear,” Death remarked, beaming. “All you have left to learn is how to use the Pokémon’s abilities. Concentrate on finding that part of your mind that holds the Pokémon instincts. Right now, your soul is subconsciously suppressing them.”

    Mark Antony nodded with one last wipe at the remaining tears on his face. He was silent once again, but this time, he was racking his mind for something he had never felt before. When after a few minutes passed without nothing jumping out at him, Mark Antony tried a more practical approach.

    I want to fly, he mentally declared, raising a brow and awaiting some kind of sign. How do I go about doing that?

    Some muscles on his shoulder blades itched, and he instinctively spread his wings out. Buzzing soon thrummed the air when Mark Antony let his mind show him all the other wing muscles he was unfamiliar with. He then let his train of thought wander and ask the questions while he jumped and hovered in the air. His own human instincts were holding him back, so why not let them take a backseat?

    “Seems like you got the hang of it,” Death observed with a look up. Mark Antony flew above him, his two upper fists vanishing and reappearing as he let loose a Mach Punch at an invisible foe. “Make sure you don’t completely mask your human self. Your knowledge and skills are sharp and will serve you well. Just learn to have an even balance of both types of instincts.”

    “Right,” his assistant agreed distractedly.

    “Time for your first mission then.”

    Mark Antony flew back in surprise. “Huh?!”

    Death just grinned and motioned for him to land. When the Ledian touched the floor, Death suddenly thrust his intangible hand into Mark Antony and dragged his soul out by the scarf. The assistant rolled to the floor and barked in his normal tongue, “Will you quit doing that?”

    “No time for apologies,” the grim reaper told him, and with one flick of his wrist, Ledian’s soul was sent back into its fallen body. The Pokémon began to stir, and Mark Antony’s scythe was forced back into his hands. “We have to head out, so you can get started. Time is of the essence.”

    “Exactly where are we going?” Mark Antony asked, mad but disoriented enough to hold back a glare. Standing up, he propped himself with his scythe and ignored how the room still spun.

    “Lavender Town, Kanto.”

    Death sent him a warning look, but Mark Antony waved it off with a gritted, “I know. I have to protect everybody equally.” He then remarked as they were pulled into the grim reaper’s newly opened portal, “It doesn’t mean I have to like it."

    _____


    A/N: Yesh, finally, Mark Antony gets his scythe (and his strange outfit that I've grown to love). And for anybody who's reading, you finally know why I titled this fic "My Guardian Angel." It all makes sense now, huh? Again, a lot of this chapter was completely written on the fly, especially the training bit. Turned out well, I think.

    What's in store for Chapter Eight? Mark Antony gets thrown into his least-favorite region and is forced to protect a kid who seems to seek out trouble rather than avoid it.

    Next up is a special chapter about Mark Antony.It's all about the backstory I scrapped months after I thought of this fic, and it gets to feature a region I know next to nothing about: Orre! Yep, that's going to be fun. :D


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  10. #10
    WhatWasOnceIsNoLongerWere Phantom Kat's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Guardian Angel (PG-13) (Chapter 7 is up!)

    Song for this chapter: Mt. Moon from Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow

    Why didn't I use the Lavender Town Music? 'Cause that one is more fitting for the next chapter. ;)

    ____

    Chapter 8

    And I Could See



    “This seems like a very cheery place,” Mark Antony remarked when they materialized above Lavender Town, not even trying to hide his immediate distaste. Silver eyes glanced at the small, wooden houses scattered below them. “Even our poorest towns in Johto aren’t as run down as this.”

    Death gave his assistant a slight narrowing of his eye, but the soul was not deterred from his small rant. Although they stood two stories above the town, he could see the shape of the houses, the very earth on which their foundations stood. Every fiber of his being that was still anchored on Johtonian pride made him compare this Kantonian settlement to the ones in his home region. “Their house windows are cracked while the earth could not be dryer. There is not a house whose walls are not deteriorating, and on top of that…” Mark Antony trailed off, his gaze lowering in confusion and realization. From where they floated, invisible to everybody, he saw the scant population of the town going about their daily lives. However, despite the everyday chatter that floated up to them and the laughter they heard every now and then, there was something that unsettled him and made him feel as though his scarf had been ripped away. “… I feel despair and fear all around me…”

    Death offered Mark Antony an understanding nod of his head. As the soul subconsciously clutched his scarf with one hand, eyes troubled, the grim reaper explained, “I know; I can feel it as well. You no longer have a physical body, Mark Antony. Your soul is so much more attuned to everybody else’s, whether be it Pokémon or human, now that it’s not restricted by blood and flesh.”

    “Maybe this person I’m supposed to guard is not the only one in need of help,” Mark Antony muttered, too wrapped up with these new feelings to realize he was pitying civilians of a Kantonian town. He looked away from a crowd of children playing near the town square and faced Death with a frown that was slightly less deep than the one he wore before. With a sigh that made him realize that he really did care for the people below him, Mark Antony took one look at the cloudy sky above him and fished his scythe out from the strap on his back.

    “So who am I guarding?” he asked the Dusknoir, finding himself sitting cross-legged in the air. Standing above the town like he had been doing stirred a rather unpleasant memory of being held up in the air by Banette’s invisible strings. With the scythe in his hands, however, its arching blade gleaming in the limited sunlight that managed to bypass the clouds above, the feeling of helplessness that came with the recollection wasn’t as strong.

    Death beckoned him with a large hand and began to descent down to the town square. Mark Antony straightened and followed him, finding the act of flying surprisingly smooth and as natural as holding a sword in his hand. They were now skimming the wooden housetops, and the soul noticed right off the bat that the wood that made up the houses was of very poor quality. He glanced at the small mountain range to the south of Lavender Town, wondering why the people didn’t try and cut down trees near there instead of using the parched, frail oaks that he could see lined the path.

    They were immersed in the town square seconds later, and the chatter intensified and became more coherent. Despite the fact that the markets were merely raised, wooden stands in front of houses, there were so many that if Death and he stood next to the small fountain in the middle, the sun-bleached, fabric awnings over the stands blocked out the view of the houses. As the townspeople passed by them -- and through them, much to Mark Antony’s surprise and annoyance -- Death began to scan the surroundings critically. Jumping on the lip of the fountain and giving the Kantonians a sour look, Mark Antony tried to pick out whoever he was suppose to guard. He tried ‘feeling’ for the human’s distressed soul, but after a minute that resulted in him feeling silly, he straightened and crossed his arms.

    “There,” the ghoul pointed just as his assistant was about to remark that they should just pick anybody they saw, seeing as how they all seemed in need of help. Shutting his mouth, Mark Antony looked towards the stand Death was pointing to.

    At first it wasn’t clear which person within the small crowd was supposed to be his charge, but as civilians began to part, the twenty-five-year-old saw that the grim reaper was pointing at a fair-haired boy behind the wooden counter. With the way he organized the baskets of vegetables and bid the customers farewell, it was hard to believe he only seemed thirteen-years-old. Death and Mark Antony drifted closer, the latter’s face scrunched up in confusion and puzzlement. He was startled when the boy sharply looked up at their approach, his olive-green eyes slightly narrowed. They were much too intense for that pale, still child-like face.

    “I thought he couldn’t see us,” Mark Antony addressed Death in a hiss. He gripped his scythe, thinking at the back of his mind that he could knock the kid unconscious to stop him from seeing them. The sergeant relaxed when the kid blinked a couple of times, muttering something under his breath and pulling the cuff of his long-sleeved white, almost yellow, shirt nervously. He went back to tending the bushels of vegetables.

    “He can’t,” was the Dusknoir’s answer. “You can wish to appear before him if you concentrate, and you will seem as real as a human.” An imaginary eyebrow was raised as he trailed off on a thought that had surfaced in his mind. “It is possible, though, that he has a sixth sense.”

    “Sixth sense?” Mark Antony’s brows were furrowed. “That’s ridiculous. The idea of psychics telling the future, of people who sense the supernatural, is all superstition.”

    Death was amused, and the mouth on his stomach opened in a silent chuckle. “Have you already forgotten that you yourself are something out from a book of lore and superstitions?”

    The guardian gave his boss a brief glance before shouldering his scythe with a defeated huff. “You don’t have to remind me,” he muttered back. “It’s strange enough that I’m to be someone’s protector for all eternity. I do not need someone telling me my existence is a contradiction to what I’ve always believed in.”

    “I hope you enjoy my company more in the centuries to come,” Death remarked. The small smile that graced the ghost’s words made the assistant grind his teeth. “If not, it’ll be a very lonely eternity.”

    “So where is the Pokémon I’m supposed to take over?” Mark Antony cut in, his voice slightly raised to stop Death from putting in any more last words.

    “Right behind that counter.”

    Still giving the boy a weary glance, Mark Antony floated around the stand to peer at the sleeping Pokémon slumped at the kid’s feet. Curiously, Mark Antony touched down and knelt before the small, bipedal reptile. It wasn’t the creature’s brown scales or the twin spines on his back that made him tilt his head in bewilderment. He probed the loose-fitting skull the Ground-type wore, paying no heed to the fact that his finger passed through the white bone. The Pokémon shifted in his sleep and held his bone club closer to his chest as though it would drive away Mark Antony’s chilly presence.

    “What in Arceus’ name…?” Mark Antony exclaimed. He turned to Death, who had simply followed him through the stand. The boy paused in his work for a second to let a shiver run down his spine. “What Pokémon is this?”

    “A Cubone. They are native only to the Southern Kanto Peninsula, which means this little guy came a long way.”

    “It doesn’t seem very strong,” the soul commented with a small frown. “Or nimble.”

    “I’m sure its attacks will help you.” Death waved towards the sleeping Pokémon. “Now take its soul with your scythe, store it within the skull orb, and begin your mission. I’ll take care of your scythe while you’re gone.”

    “How long is this going to take?” Mark Antony took his stance and raised his scythe, his entire being shivering in apprehension. He found the sensation silly in a way. For years, he had been in charge of protecting Johtonians, even before he became a sergeant. Why was the prospect of taking care of one person, a kid no less, looking so daunting?

    Was it because this time around, he had no idea what the enemy was?

    “There’s no way to know,” Death said, effectively snapping him back to reality. “If you are in the body for more than two weeks, I’ll take you out to ensure the body does not reject you and leave itself soulless and vulnerable. Eventually, you’ll be able to do that by yourself, but I don’t think it’ll take that long. Ivan’s soul is too worked up for his premature death to occur days from now.”

    “Ivan’s his name?”

    “It won’t matter what his name is if you let him die while you wait to get started,” Death curtly told him, crossing his arms expectantly.

    “If you keep frowning in such a manner,” Mark Antony pointed to the ghost’s abdomen before turning his back to face the sleeping Lonely Pokémon, “it’ll stay like that.”

    Ignoring whatever response Death said, Mark Antony brought down the blade of the scythe before his mind allowed him to over think the situation. The harmless sickle passed through Cubone’s solid form, but his body seized up as though stricken. Ivan heard the creature’s muffled gasp and knelt down to inspect.

    “You must be having a bad dream,” the thirteen-year-old said when Cubone’s body went limp and Mark Antony was plucking the silver soul from the blade’s tip.

    “This whole thing is like a bad dream,” the guardian muttered, throwing Death a perturbed frown. The Pokémon’s soul intertwined around his fingers and flew into the red orb mounted inside the scythe’s skull.

    “You don’t like your job already?” asked the Dusknoir.

    “It would be more enjoyable if you didn’t talk,” his assistant quipped.

    Mark Antony offered a smug smile when he was pulled into Cubone’s body, his scythe tossed to an exasperated Death.

    _____


    For a while, he felt nothing. Then Mark Antony was being shaken from side to side. A voice he didn’t recognize called to him with a name that wasn’t his. After a minute, he opened his eyes and wondered for a second why there was a helmet over his head. When he touched the side of it and felt bone and two protruding horns, Mark Antony nodded in recollection. With a head that felt a tad too heavy, he stood up on short, hind paws. Ivan caught his falling form with a word of concern, but the Cubone shrugged his hands off with an annoyed, “Cu!” and a wave of his bone club.

    Ivan laughed, much to Mark Antony’s chagrin. “Come along,” he said as he balanced the two baskets, one with the bag of profit and the other with the few vegetables left. Mark Antony couldn’t help but scowl at Ivan’s Kantonian accent; he had hoped he would never hear the dreaded dialect again. “It’s time to close up shop.”

    Mark Antony grabbed the edge of the basket beside him and began to follow the boy towards the house behind them. As he did so, he turned this way and that, muttering in his new Pokémon tongue about how Death had just left him. Then again, he thought. According to Death, they couldn’t be seen by Pokémon and humans. By being inside a Cubone’s body, he could have gained the inability to see him. Mark Antony once again looked around him, growling at the thought that the Dusknoir could be anywhere around him without him any the wiser. This caused Ivan to glance at him with a raised eyebrow.

    “You alright?” When the Ground-type just huffed, throwing one last glare at the darkening surroundings, Ivan merely opened the door of the small house and set the baskets inside. Mark Antony began to walk up the rotting steps, but the Kantonian stopped him with one of his brown boots. He looked up at the boy with a questioning tilt of his head.

    “Have you been sleeping too much, Den?” he joked as he wiped off his dirty hands on the equally-stained chestnut pants that were tucked into his worn boots. “Maybe Father was right; you do need to get out and battle the wild Pokémon to keep yourself awake.”

    Despite not being the ‘Den’ Ivan was referring to, Mark Antony still took offence and waved his bone club while saying nobody in their right mind would open a house door and not go in, forgetting all the while that he couldn’t be understood. Ivan looked on in amusement.

    “We’re not going in,” he explained in a sudden hushed tone. Ivan glanced at the house before quietly shutting the door. “We’re going to Mr. Walker’s house, remember?”

    Mark Antony just nodded and half-ran, half skipped after the boy when Ivan turned on his heel and dashed through the town square. After nearly toppling when he mistimed a step, the Cubone leaned on the fountain to get his balance back. His paw patted the cracked stone a second, and then a third time, when he felt something amiss. While he could have shrugged his curiosity off and follow Ivan, there was something not right about the weathered fountain. Mark Antony jumped up to grab the lip of the structure but nearly ended up on his back at the action.

    ~ “This is so frustrating,” ~ he said beneath his breath once he righted himself with his club. ~ “Of all the creatures this region has to offer…” ~ Mark Antony turned towards the bone club, let a smile flitter over his reptilian face, and swung the bone over the lip until he found a notch the bone held onto. With a Herculean effort, he managed to lift himself up.

    “Den?” Ivan came towards him, but the Pokémon was too taken aback by what he saw to acknowledge the words.

    ~ “There’s no water,” ~ Mark Antony said to himself. The bottom of the fountain was not only void of water, but it seemed that not a drop of it had ever been there in the first place. The sight made his heart ache, for some reason he did not understand himself.

    “Did you want a drink of water?” Den’s master asked him, his words no longer as upbeat as before. Mark Antony found himself being lifted into Ivan’s arms and snuggled closer to the boy’s brown vest. “You know the fountain hasn’t provided us with water for three months now. I can’t blame you for checking, though. I always secretly glance at its basin in vain.”

    The boy tightened his hold on Mark Antony in excitement. “We’ll get to the bottom of this, Den. I’m positive that these latest supernatural incidents have something to do with this. Mr. Walker said some very strange things happened down at his property, something unlike we’ve ever seen.”

    When Mark Antony was placed back on the ground, he did a literal double-take that made the skull over his head rattle. ~ “You’re going WHERE? ~ he exclaimed, gobsmacked. By the time his utter surprise morphed into a state of teeth-grinding anger, Ivan was already running to the other side of the square and beyond. The guardian was left there, seething, before he took off after the boy. If all of his concentration wasn’t focused on keeping his balance, Mark Antony would have taken aim and clobbered Ivan with his bone club.

    ~ “If you’re listening, Death,” ~ he told the air with gritted teeth, ~ “Get me the hell out of here! This kid is looking for trouble, and he’ll get killed no matter what I do.” ~

    /Giving up already, sergeant?/

    Mark Antony stumbled but caught himself. When he realized that Death’s voice was a resonating tenor in his head and just that, he kept on running. ~ “You came back? I thought you were just going to leave me here and call it a day.” ~

    /I never left,/ was the response that reverberated in his head. /Like you probably inferred already, you can’t see me because Pokémon cannot. However, due to our ‘contract’ you agreed to the moment you picked up that scythe, I can communicate with you telepathically without revealing myself./

    ~ “‘Agreed’ isn’t exactly the term I would use for my situation,” ~ his assistant quipped back. Ivan up ahead, too excited on cracking the town’s mystery to pay attention to the fact that his Pokémon was talking to the thin air, exited the town square. A beaten path that led out of Lavender Town now yawned before them. Mark Antony saw this and picked up the pace, now seriously considering knocking the kid down so he didn’t have to run so damn fast. ~ “And like I mentioned before, this kid is out looking for trouble. How can I keep a person like that alive?” ~

    /By constant vigilance, answered Death. Mark Antony then felt his blood chill as the grim reaper grew solemn. Be warned, Mark Antony. The atmosphere in this town is not normal, but whatever is causing Lavender to emit this aura is too unstable for me to recognize./

    ~ “So there really is something supernatural going on here?” ~ Mark Antony shook his head to focus on the path he and Ivan were taking. Shock was splayed across his features when he saw the last house left behind. The dirt trail was now only meant to be traveled by wagons that could bypass the scattered rocks and potholes.

    /It’s a strong possibility, but I’m afraid I cannot stay and ponder it with you. My own duties have to be addressed. If need be, we’ll communicate. If not, I’ll be back once your mission is done.

    ~ “Wait! You can’t just le-!” ~ Mark Antony tripped on an upturned rock and fell face first into the gravel. When he picked himself up and didn’t hear Death’s voice anymore, he was glad that the only one who noticed his fall of dignity was Ivan.

    “I’m sorry, Den,” he apologized but not before he got a whack to the head. Ivan cringed and rubbed the forming bruise. “Yes, I guess I do deserve that, but we’re here.”

    Mark Antony took a few steps forward and couldn’t help but crane his head to the right. The mountain was the first that made up the mountain range that cut Lavender Town from the cities to the south. On top of one of the artificially-cut ledges sat a house that was much larger than the ones in the town, complete with a second story and a cattle pen as its neighbor. Ivan walked closer, seemingly oblivious to the precarious boulders above.

    “Mr. Walker!” he called. “Mr. Walker!”

    Mark Antony shoved Ivan out of the way before his grating, accent-slathered words sent the mountainside tumbling down. Looking up, the soul realized Ivan would surely try and climb the ridiculously dangerous mountain to meet this man and hear the yarn he had to tell. Mark Antony twirled his bone club, closed his eyes, and went though every attack this Cubone knew. Eyes were opened with a start when the attacks “Rock Climb” and “Rock Smash” flowed from a subconscious part of the Pokémon’s mind. He turned to Ivan, wondering how a merchant boy got his hands on the money to teach a Pokémon such moves and why he hadn’t ordered him to perform them in the first place.

    ~ “Wait… Is it possible that this Cubone isn’t his? Or even his family’s?” ~ Mark Antony thought. He shook his head. ~ “Does it matter? Such things are not my concern.” ~

    Ignoring Ivan’s inquiries, Mark Antony jumped on a boulder, held his club in his jaws, and then flung himself forward to grasp any available nooks his tiny claws could find. His very breath left him when he looked down and found the world below him small. Rocks tumbled down as he tightened his grip, willing himself to think of this as just any other mission. Nonetheless, his steely resolve was broken when he felt his stubby tail move and felt the claws he had instead of fingers. Who was he kidding? This was nothing like hiding in the bushes to ambush some Kantonians or running through a battlefield with his trusty sword in hand. Everything he did now, everything he experienced, was through a whole different perspective he was sure he could handle.

    After he managed to hold himself with one paw and retrieve his club with the other, he turned to the Kantonian below him. “CU! Cubone!” Ivan ran back as Mark Antony leapt again and hit a boulder with a mighty hit of his bone club. Rubble exploded in his face, catapulting him backwards with a ringing in his ears. Something at the back of his mind told him to reach out behind him, and Mark Antony yelped when he caught hold of a small ledge.

    ~ “Damn!” ~ were the words that left his mouth. Mark Antony then grinned a bit. ~ “Such explosive power makes me homesick.” ~

    The dust cloud settled to reveal Ivan unharmed at the foot of the mountainside and a pile of rubble in the boulder’s place. Mark Antony looked up and saw nobody had come down from the house to inspect the cause of the noise. He shrugged from where he hung at the side of the mountain. He personally didn’t care if he carved holes in this Kantonian landscape.

    Soon after that thought, another boulder fell at his power, and then another, and another. Every time the Rock Smash sent him back, there was something that always allowed him to Rock Climb back to safety. It was eerie, if the twenty-five-year-old thought about it, at how easily he used Cubone’s mind to benefit him. Was this how it felt to be a true Pokémon? Did these creatures effortlessly performed their attacks because their bodies were accustomed to the familiar movements? Was he becoming accustomed to this body more quickly than he thought?

    ~ “How disturbing,” ~ Mark Antony thought when he landed on the ground and found that he had successfully cleared a path straight to the house. ~ “I might become more of a Pokémon than a human by the time this ends.” ~

    The thought that he was no longer a human but a human’s soul came to him when he sat on the ground, emitting a giant exhausted breath that rattled his helmet. With his arms like lead and the rest of his body just protesting his every twitch, Mark Antony could do nothing as Ivan picked him up.

    “Wow, Den, I never knew you had it in you.” Ivan lovingly hugged the Cubone closer, much to Mark Antony’s annoyance. However, his cries of protest were just mumbles the human wouldn’t have understood anyway, and his attempts to free himself were lazy swings of his club.

    ~ “If you trained your Pokémon more, then I wouldn’t have collapsed of exhaustion!” ~ Mark Antony yelled, but his words fell on deaf ears. Ivan was practically sprinting up the mountain side, almost falling when his boots treaded upon the piles of rubble.

    “Mr. Walker!” Ivan managed to lift himself up onto the ledge with a hand and a jump. “Mr. Walker! It’s me, Ivan! I think I know what’s causing you trouble!”

    ~ “And what may that be?” ~ his guardian inquired with a sarcastic raised of an imaginary eyebrow. Ivan turned to him with a smile brimming with confidence.

    “Do you think Mr. Walker will be surprised that I can sometimes see the ghosts that cause all of this? He knows I can sense when something bad is going to happen, but this is something that can actually help us figure out what is going on.”

    Ivan continued towards the house while Mark Antony could have hit himself with his bone club. Couldn’t a minute pass without this kid getting himself deeper into trouble? Seeing what he wasn’t supposed to see surely wasn’t a good sign. He himself had seen a Legendary fall from the sky, and though he didn’t regret saving Jirachi, look where that had gotten him!

    Shaking his head, the soul straightened for a better look at Mr. Walker’s property.

    Mark Antony gazed at the house, and his heart quickened at the sight of blood splatters decorating walls and foggy windows. Pieces of broken wood led the way to the livestock pen like a trail of poisoned bread crumbs. Ivan dropped him at the sight of it, and Mark Antony was quick to scurry towards the scene before his legs could give out and Ivan regained the ability to shut his mouth and assess the situation. He trudged through a small patch of flowers that were wilting to the point of kissing the ground, and he spared a glance at the pile of shingles that littered the ledge. It seemed that even this house that laid on the outskirts of the town was not spared from the decay.

    “D…Den?” Ivan stammered, all of his child-like excitement vanishing in a breath of fear. The thirteen-year-old took a few steps towards the collapsed area of the fence and managed to trip on a board clawed to splinters. From his knees, he saw the dead Doduo on the ground. Every brown body was barely identifiable from each other. They were all opened carcasses that spilled sanguine blood and ripped organs. Their beige and black necks were twisted, snapped, or otherwise thrown aside. Ivan looked away, but his eyes landed on a mound of blood-drenched feathers.

    ~ “This is not the time to lose your nerve, Ivan!” ~ Mark Antony barked. A twinge of guilt bloomed in his chest when he saw the boy’s pale face turn a sickly shade of green. The boy had never seen something so brutal. His mind had set eyes on scattered innards, of pools of blood that made the very sky gain a shade of scarlet. Though Mark Antony could not smell a thing, he imagined Ivan was suffocating with the odor of warm meat.

    Deciding that getting mad at the kid was only going to make the guilt grow -- why he even felt guilty in the first place, he did not know -- Mark Antony walked towards the mangled birds for a closer look. When he passed the fourth chunk of meat, he concluded that whatever killed the flock of Doduo was not after prey. In fact, when he stood over a Doduo that had its side slashed open and its black neck wrung, the ripped patches of meat were all accounted for.

    ~ “Is this really the work of ghouls?” ~ he asked the air that was pungent with the smell of death. No matter which way he turned, there were no blood tracks or evidence of a skirmish. Every Doduo had wide, frozen eyes of terror, and it only lend to the idea that they never knew what had killed them in the first place. It was as though they had been shaken in the air until whatever child had picked them up threw them aside like toys.

    Mark Antony subconsciously touched his neck with a paw. Maybe it wasn't a ghost but a Pokémon with cruel powers and an unfeeling heart...

    "Hey! Get away from there!"

    The Cubone jumped a foot into the air and whirled around, club held out in front of him. Mark Antony relaxed slightly when it was only a middle-aged man standing before him. The stranger, garbed in a gray, long-sleeved shirt and threadbare pants stained with the blood of his flock, led a slightly-relieved Ivan away from the scene. Mark Antony was about to ignore him and investigate the bodies more when the man looked back at him with narrowed, brown eyes. Half-expecting the broad-shouldered farmer to come and drag him by the skull, the guardian begrudgingly followed the pair.

    “You’re alright, Mr. Walker,” Ivan said at length. Despite his blanched face, the boy craned his head to see the bloodied corpses, but Walker turned him away. His bushy brows furrowed, and if his hands were free, he would have run one through his graying, chestnut hair in worry.

    “This is not what I wanted you to see,” Walker admitted, the guilty tone that weaved his words making even Mark Antony cringe. He shouldn’t have been at the back of his house worrying about his silly, dying crops. He should have been there when Ivan reached his house to drive the kid away, away from the horrors that made him question his sanity.

    “Wh…what did that?” Ivan’s words were a whisper, but the same determination from before was coming to prevail the fear that had left him breathless. There was also an odd glint in his eyes that told of something only he knew. Mark Antony actually pushed the Kantonian so he couldn’t run back and see the corpses. Ivan wouldn’t be able to stay out of trouble if he fainted after all.

    Actually… No, he dashed the idea away. Death would probably clobber him with his own scythe if he thought more about it.

    When Ivan reached for the door, Walker steered him to the steps instead and made him sit.

    “Ivan, you shouldn’t have come,” the man began. “You shouldn’t have, not at all.”

    “But, Mr. Walker!” Ivan cried, not even questioning why they weren’t inside the house. “You said weird things were happening in your property, just like in town. You’re my friend, Mr. Walker! You were the one who taught me to read and write when Father couldn’t afford to send me to school. You were the one who gave me Den so he could help Momma cultivate our plot. I had to come and help!”

    Walker buried his face in his hands, suddenly looking every year of his fifty-three years. “Ivan, it’s too dangerous here. I shouldn’t have said anything about it.” He waved towards the house behind them with very troubled eyes. “Things inside my house come to life and fly around. It’s not safe.” Mark Antony saw Walker clutch his arm, his frown crinkling deeper into the folds of his sunburned skin. The gash could still be felt.

    “I gave you this Cubone not only to help your mother but so he could protect you and your family,” Walker continued. His voice was firmer, and he began to stand up with Ivan in tow. “Den here was the Pokémon of a very prominent, Kantonian soldier: my son. He gave him to me once he got back from Johto, and now he’s yours.” He turned to Mark Antony. “Take him back home. Make sure he gets there in one piece.”

    ~ “With pleasure,” ~ the Ground-type responded, not even perturbed that the Pokémon he inhabited was once in the possession of a Kantonian soldier. This was his chance to end this ludicrous mission. With a triumphant grin that threatened to split his face in half, he pushed Ivan towards the cleared path they had taken.

    “But, Mr. Walker!” Ivan yelled over his shoulder. “I can help; I know I can! We can go into town and say that ghosts did this!”

    “Ghosts…?” Walker echoed in question. His mind ran over everything he didn’t find among the carcasses of his Doduo, and he couldn’t even begin to explain the instances of when the objects in his house had come to life. Walker glanced at the mountains that served as a tunnel to the cities in the south. Spontaneous rock slides kept the townspeople from going through.

    “Yeah, ghosts!” Ivan responded. Mark Antony stopped pushing the kid when Walker fell into silence and his charge’s voice fluctuated between certainty and uncertainty. Ivan turned around, his face contorted into many different expressions. “Every time something new happened in town, something that couldn’t be explained, I saw shadows in the corners of my vision. Every day now, I get cold, and I feel watched.”

    His bottom lip quivered slightly when he recalled the chills that had racked his spine, his entire body, earlier that very day. He had tried to shrug it away then, but now that he was confessing what he saw and felt, a thorn of fear was growing within his heart. As though he could rip it away, Ivan clutched his vest.

    "Back there, in the pen," his words left his lips again. "I saw shadows surrounding the Doduo, and I could even hear that they were angry!"

    "Ivan..." The farmer walked towards the kid, his eyes wide with concern and newfound terror. "You cannot get yourself involved in this! I will go and inform the council of my problems, whether they're ghouls or not."

    Ivan angrily stared up at the man's face as though he was the phantom that had claimed the lives of the Pokémon. Even when his shoulders were clasped by Walker, his chin was stubbornly thrust forward. "You won't go; I can see it in your eyes!"

    "Ivan, please, go," Walker nearly begged. All the harshness his voice had carried was gone, but it seemed the green-eyed boy was oblivious to the man's plea. Mark Antony recognized the pride and loyalty on his charge's face; his own expression, after all, had often mirrored Ivan's. But the kid was crazy, raving mad, if he thought that he alone could put a stop to this.

    When Mark Antony tried to push Ivan along, the boy suddenly jumped over him and ran back towards the pen. Both he and Walker turned around as one and cursed.

    ~ "Ivan!" ~ Mark Antony ran after him. He tripped once, twice, but he didn't care. For some reason, his heart was thudding madly in his chest. For some reason, Ivan's dead body flashed in his mind and made him sick to his stomach.

    For some reason, he found himself wishing he was back in his normal form to take Ivan in his arms.

    Do I actually care about whether this kid lives or dies? came the mental question. When there was a beat of silence, another thought weaved itself into his mind. He reminds me of myself...

    "Stop terrorizing Mr. Walker's place! Get away from here!"

    ~ "Damn it!" ~ Mark Antony cursed upon hearing Ivan's commands echo around him. He slid into view and saw Ivan standing directly in the center of the carnage. He faced the sky but had grown silent with terror and the repeating thought of, What am I doing? Outstretched arms shook in their sockets. His chest nearly fell still with his shallow breathing.

    Then Mark Antony began to see the shadows Ivan had been haunted by all along.

    They crawled from the corpses like creatures of the night. Their forms morphed from the shadows the mountainsides cast. Once the air grew thick with their anger and frustration, however, their wispy forms evaporated to leave behind nothing but their overbearing presence.

    Without thinking twice, Mark Antony leaped in front of Ivan and emitted an animalistic growl from deep within his throat. Every Pokémon instinct in his mind swelled to the surface. The scales upon his body tingled with the supernatural energy that swirled around them and forced the pair to take deep, steadying breaths. Ivan took a step back, his mouth moving silently. A prayer? More demands? Mark Antony couldn’t tell.

    The air was now so dense with malice that even the human Walker felt it chill his bones. With trembling knees, he forced himself to walk towards Ivan’s paralyzed form. Mark Antony felt a shift in the air’s energy, and both him and Ivan turned around. While the human could say nothing, the Cubone waved his bone club, shouting in his Pokémon tongue for the farmer to stay away. Walker was deaf to the evil whispers that swirled with the wind. He grabbed the stock-still Ivan in his arms and tried to drag him back to the safety of the yard.

    “Leave the boy alone!” he bellowed, his eyes frantically searching his surroundings for a sign of the shadows Ivan could see. “You’ll never get what you want!” In his muddled thoughts, Walker believed with every fiber of his being that these ghouls were after Ivan and nothing else. “Go home! Go away! Go ba-!”

    He was cut short by an invisible hand crushing his windpipe. Ivan struggled when both he and the immobilized Walker were lifted into the air. His own breaths were getting harder and harder to get out, and each attempt at breathing filled him with horror. Ivan looked down at Mark Antony with petrified eyes. Though he himself began feeling a force crushing his chest, the guardian had enough strength to jump up and pull the kid out of Walker’s frozen grip. Both of them fell on the ground, and Mark Antony dragged a stumbling Ivan away.

    ~ “Forget about him!” ~ he told Ivan when the human saw an unconscious Walker drop to the ground. The man’s chest was rising and falling with difficulty. His throat was beginning to gain claw-shaped bruises that spread to his face and chest like poison.

    “Den, I see them!” he yelled as they exited the pen and began to run down the path Mark Antony had cleared for them. “They’re not just shadows anymore! They have shapes! And faces, too!”

    ~ “Death, if you’re here right now,” ~ Mark Antony addressed the cloudy sky. ~ I’m pretty sure Ivan’s sixth sense has manifested into something bigger.” ~

    “Den, we have to tell someone!” The soul was relieved that Ivan was sane enough this time around to run away rather than go back for Walker. Ivan glanced at the house but then quickly looked away before his newly-heightened sixth sense made him see something too terrifying for his frazzled mind to handle.

    But who will believe a kid? Mark Antony wondered exasperatedly. Even I find this situation hard to wrap my mind around.

    He at least knew now that Ivan really was in danger.

    _____


    A/N: Short chapter is short, but hey, it'll pick up in the next chapter.

    For some reason, this chapter was both hard and easy to write. Maybe it was because of some of the changes I did in this chapter. I had planned for something a little bit different. However, though, this works better. I'm surprised I got a chapter in before school ended. Hopefully, I'll get Chapter Nine before I finish school June 3rd.

    About four more chapters until Book One is finished. Oh man, I changed quite a bit of Book Two, and now I need to fit in new characters and other things. It's for the better, but I won't like going back and revising chapter outlines, even if it is by a bit. I should probably do that before I get started on Chapter Nine.

    Oh yes, the last page of this chapter marked my 100th page of My Guardian Angel, not including the Special Chapter. Damn it, it feels good to have gotten his far. 8) It's one more thing that inspires me to continue on writing.


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  11. #11
    WhatWasOnceIsNoLongerWere Phantom Kat's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Guardian Angel (PG-13) (Chapter 7 is up!)

    I would like to say that these special chapters are not meant to go along with the normal chapters of the story. They are stand alone one-shots, you could say. What is said or happens here are not applied to the main fan fic, although it might help you better understand some things.

    Also, I have never played Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness or Pokemon Colesseum, so the Orre and Shadow Pokemon in this are of my own imagination. If the story would have been written with this plot setting, I would have done research in order to keep the region and its elements as accurate as possible, but since this chapter is merely for fun, I decided to have fun and wing it.

    So this is the background Mark Antony had in my original plot draft of My Guardian Angel. I did, however, add his military position and motives to fill in holes. As you will read, Mark Antony's character is more... cold-hearted and harsh.

    Song for this chapter: Winter by Yasuhiro Takato. Lyrics are here

    _____

    Special Chapter 01

    The Scourge of Orre



    The knock on the door aroused Professor Lawrence from his reading.

    It was unusual for something as trivial as a knock on the door to distract him from his research, but whoever was knocking was persistent, bold, and probably willing to stay at his doorstep well into the night. Putting down his reading spectacles and closing his hardcover book, the sixty-six-year-old man rose from his revolving chair and crossed the living room. From the arched window at the top of the door, he saw a pair of sand-covered goggles resting on chestnut hair. Lawrence opened the door and leaned against his walking cane to he examine the young man before him.

    “You must have a good reason to come and see me if you braved the Harrow Desert and its inhabitants,” the lean man commented, his thin locks of white hair brushed away from his face by the night breeze he just let in. Whatever drops of rain that fell and picked up midair by the gust speckled his very wrinkled, now gray, lab coat. The stranger paid no heed to the rain that was pelting him and instead straightened his olive-green trench coat and locked his amber eyes with the professor’s graying blue.

    “I’m sorry to trouble you this late at night, Professor,” the twenty-five-year-old apologized with a slight bow; Lawrence quirked a bushy eyebrow, recognizing the Johtonian custom, as well as the accent. “But I was hoping that you could help me out.”

    Professor Lawrence, uncaring that the traveler’s clothes were getting soaked, stood there and pondered about whether he should let the man in or not. Finally, he let the traveler enter with a nod of his head. The sound of leather loafers against hardwood floor was drowned out by the shutting door and the stranger’s heavy, black boots striding in. Rather than frown at the fact that his furnished floor paneling was getting wet and stained with the globs of wet sand that dripped from the traveler’s baggy jeans, the old man was more interested in why someone would come to his home. With that came a suspicious glint to his otherwise glazy stare.

    As though on cue, something shifted in the shadows. The foreigner didn’t notice it, but Lawrence caught the slight movement and gave a barely perceptible shake of his head.

    “I suspected something more… elaborate,” commented the stranger, but despite his words, he seemed impressed by the large living room. Although the only furniture in the room was the professor’s desk and chair on a raised area of the room at the back and a forest-green loveseat at the corner, the air of wealth and importance was all around. The wood alone was a dark and rich honey shade, and that color only came from the oldest and most beautiful Nuez Trees that rested on Kanto’s beloved Indigo Plateau. An arm and a leg were surely the price to buy and export these magnificent trees.

    “I make do,” the professor answered with a shrug, making his way to his desk; though he was suspicious of his visitor, he did not fear turning his back to him. Once he was seated, his book and glasses in his lap, he waved a hand towards the love seat. “Now take a seat, and state your name and business.”

    “Name’s Mark Antony Colfax,” the Johtonian said as he took the invite, or rather order. Mark Antony was now noticing Lawrence’s cool gaze and posture. To say it didn’t make him wary would be a lie, but he had expected the professor to be as cold and aloof. Besides, he had faced much harsher things than an old man’s attitude.

    Mark Antony’s cocky persona, however, was mentally smoothed over as he remembered the reason he was here. As confident as he was, being his usual harsh self wasn’t going to get him anywhere.

    “I’m here,” he continued, unaware of the shifting shadows behind him, “to ask for your help. In Johto, I’m a sergeant of my regiment, and currently, we’re fighting Kanto for control of our own region.” Mark Antony glared at the floor as though it were the soldiers that were currently tearing up his beloved home. “Our regiments and our Pokémon aren’t enough. Battle after battle come and go, and we don’t seem any closer to victory than two years ago.”

    Lawrence cocked his head, waiting to hear the point to Mark Antony’s visit. Noticing this, the sergeant intertwined his fingers together and leaned forward in his seat, amber eyes shrouded in shadow. “Professor Lawrence, you are the lead scientist in the research of Shadow Pokémon. Although I know you have created no Shadow Pokémon yet, I’m confident that you will and that they will be stronger, fiercer, and faster than normal Pokémon.”

    “You want to be an apprentice and learn the art of Shadow Pokémon in order to win your Region War,” the man finished the thought. Lawrence quirked an interested brow, his solemn frown now not quite as harsh. Mark Antony raised his head in agreement, and his eyes were alight with malicious eagerness. He had heard of Lawrence’s claims that Shadow Pokémon could potentially have the ability to bring a region to its knees, and he liked the hellish idea.

    “Yes,” Mark Antony finally said, a sly smile stretching from ear to ear. “I have no plans to steal the information or cause trouble in Orre. My sole reason to create and use Shadow Pokémon is to rid Johto of the Kantonians. If you agree to help me, I can bring you the spoils of my victory: rare Kanto Pokémon, weapons, and technology.”

    When the strange shadow against the wall of the room moved again, this time, the twenty-five-year-old noticed it. Lawrence wryly grinned when he saw Mark Antony’s gloved hand going for a Poké Ball that hung among the cluster of spheres clipped to his belt. It was now his turn to lean forward with an all-knowing smile. His foreign guest enlarged the Poké Ball that now laid in his palm, his gaze darkening with his own suspicions and the hairs on his neck standing on end. “Your cruel ambition alone is enough to interest me, but can you handle a Pokémon embodied with nothing but darkness?”

    From behind the loveseat, something long and silky black shot out and wrapped itself around Mark Antony’s arm. The sergeant jumped in his seat and jerked around to face his attacker. An elegant canine face met him with glittering ruby eyes, and Mark Antony only had a brief second to release his Pokémon from its capsule when the Ninetales leaped at him with gnashing fangs of ivory. Pidgeot materialized above them as Mark Antony’s other arm was grabbed by a second, writhing tail. The other seven waved behind the sleek vixen like snakes never straying too far from their master.

    “Pidgeot!” the foreigner shouted towards the massive flyer above him. Ninetales arched her back and whipped her tails to her right. To Mark Antony’s great surprise, she managed to fling his girth towards the wall. The impact made his ears ring, his body ache, and he landed as a heap on the floor.

    Pidgeot gave an ear-splitting cry that shook the downy, cream-colored feathers on his chest. He gave one downbeat of his chestnut wings and was on Ninetales in a flash. Black tails and ruby and yellow head feathers whipped around in the scuffle before nine spheres of cerulean fire propelled Pidgeot to the wall. Mark Antony rolled out of the way as his Pokémon flopped to the ground with growing burns over his body. Mark Antony wrinkled his nose as the smell of burnt flesh rose from the Pokémon that struggled to lift itself to his shaking, pink talons.

    “And what was the point of attacking me?” he asked Lawrence, the professor rising from his seat. The demonic fox smiled once more with her abnormally sharp fangs and strutted towards her master. However, even when Lawrence didn’t respond immediately, Mark Antony found he was more intrigued than mad. As he rubbed his bleeding, bruised wrist and struggled to get back on his feet with aching limbs and back, he tried to think of a Pokémon that had shown more strength, more ruthlessness, than the smirking Ninetales in front of him. No other creature came to mind.

    “I don’t want just anybody working alongside me,” the old man answered offhandedly. “Now I didn’t lie,” Lawrence pointed out when he saw Mark Antony open his mouth. “I never said I didn’t succeed in creating a Shadow Pokémon. So, what do you think?”

    “It’s… amazing,” Mark Antony admitted, and the vixen flicked her tails in pride. Pidgeot, who had landed by his master’s side, clicked his pale pink beak at the shadow beast. Ninetales gave a sadistic grin as she was petted by the aged scientist.

    “The only Shadow Pokémon thus far,” Lawrence told him. “All the others have died or have gone mad until they found a way to kill themselves off. But not my lovely Ninetales. She was the perfect guinea pig in every way.”

    Ninetales leaned towards his hand as she was scratched behind the ears. Even the simple action was no longer normal. A grin that was once heartwarming was now forever evilly twisted. Mark Antony was oblivious to the cruelness, the utter hate that radiated off the creature. He saw only raw power and the potential to come back to Johto with a force that would bring the Kantonian forces to their knees.

    “So will you accept me as your apprentice?”

    The old man fiddled with his cane, a smirk tugging at the corners of his lips. “Yes, I will, although my idea of apprenticeship and yours might be different. You see, I can do everything on my own except capture and steal Pokémon I need for my experiments.” With a hand, Lawrence emphasized his frail body and the cane that was holding him upright. “I’ll leave that job up to you.”

    An eyebrow was raised. “Stealing, huh? Sounds like a fun job.”

    ___


    There was something in the man’s terrified face that put a grin on Mark Antony’s own. The lab assistant was mostly shrouded in the darkness of the lab, but by the shafts of dusty light that filtered in through the shattered roof, he saw the man’s tanned complexion; a native of Cinnibar Island, Kanto had faced his wrath. Or maybe it was how the man tried so hard to stop him and realizing that the Kantonians would soon face the same desperation. The mere thought sent him into a fit of spiteful chuckles that made his mount start below him.

    “It’s alright, Pidgeot,” he calmed the avian, the evil smile still spreading upon his face.

    The lab assistant rushed forward for one last attack, but Mark Antony swung the pipe he had picked up during the scuffle. With a teeth-chattering clang!, the man fell into a crumpled heap with a river of garnet blood oozing from the side of his head. Satisfied, Mark Antony threw the makeshift weapon to the side and took one last look at the ruins around them. Tables were overturned and were nothing but oversized splinters that cast shadows on the shards of glass that littered the floor. With the bookshelves and cabinets in ruins, papers and books were scattered and soaking up the spilled rainbow-colored concoctions at their feet. Pidgeot stared at the man, wondering if his master had managed to hit this one only hard enough to knock him unconscious, but he was then forced to fly upward by a kick to the ribcage.

    “Nice haul,” Mark Antony commented after they burst through the mess that was the collapsing roof. He weighed the bag in his hands and couldn’t help but grin as he felt dozens of Poké Balls tumble over each other.

    Suddenly, the clear night air was filled with the enraged voices of men. Mark Antony looked down at the barren landscape below them, the solitary lab they had just ambushed behind them. Hidden in the shadows of the towering sand dunes was the local law enforcement, “a laughable bunch of righteous fools,” as Mark Antony had called them on numerous occasions. These men were every bit as mysterious as himself. Their cream-colored overcoats and beige scarves hid every identifiable characteristic in order to blend in with their desert surroundings; Mark Antony was never sure if the men that chased him were the same bunch.

    “Please,” he scoffed when he heard the numerous clicks of guns. “Seven months is way too long to chase something out of your reach.” The chestnut-haired man looked up instead to the mountain range that was coming up. A smart maneuver here and there and the police, if such shifty people could be called that, would be out of his hair. Securing his goggles over his eyes, Mark Antony told Pidgeot to fly higher.

    Shots rang out. Pidgeot screeched in fright when one flew past and grazed his shoulder.

    “Steady! Steady!” the sergeant yelled to the bird. Waving away the flurry of feathers that burst into the air from the shot, Mark Antony hunkered down even more and shot an infuriated look at the men below. Even from this high up, he saw that the guns the men wielded weren’t normal.

    “Damn Orrians,” came the gritted curse. “How in Arceus’ name do they trump their own technology in mere months?!”

    A volley of shots were coming their way now. Mark Antony took one look behind him and ordered, “About face! Whirlwind!”

    His stomach gave one giant lurch when his Pokémon turned towards the attack and gave one mighty downbeat of his wings. Mark Antony felt himself being blown back, and if he didn’t grab hold of Pidgeot’s flank, he had no doubt that he would’ve fallen. Adjusting his askew goggles, he felt rather than saw the twister launch itself towards the incoming bullets. As though slapped away by an invisible hand, the bullets flew in different directions before exploding. The police didn’t even blink as their useless ammo rained down and disappeared among the sand dunes.

    “To the mountains!” ordered the Johtonian, forcing Pidgeot to turn around. He hoped speed would be able to beat whatever the Orrians had up their sleeves. Ignoring the way the bird warily eyed the men below, Mark Antony urged him forward. The intimidating landforms were coming closer and closer, and though the craggy cliffs looked too unstable for his liking, he knew he could manage to get through without a hitch.

    Pidgeot couldn’t help but turn his head, however, when flashes of white light caught his eye. Below, emerging from the shadows, came two blurs he undoubtedly knew was trouble. Mark Antony also redirected his gaze upon hearing the wind whistle an unnatural tune and promptly cursed. He didn’t recognize the flying Pokémon, but the shine of fangs and claws were enough to unnerve him.

    “Gliscor!” one of them cried, and before Mark Antony could discern more than the Pokémon’s obsidian bat wings, one of the monster’s thick pincers was thrust towards his face. With a startled yelp, the sergeant leaned back almost to the point of toppling off his mount. The violet menace was not deterred, even when Pidgeot attempted to peck him in between his yellow eyes, and did a complete one-eighty that whipped his long tail towards the enemy.

    Just as quick, Mark Antony unsheathed his sword and blocked the bulbous stinger. From the two prongs came oozing rancid poison that dripped down, effectively melting a patch of feathers from Pidgeot’s back. The great bird gave one giant lurch, threatening to send his master over the edge.

    “Damn bird! Don’t let such a petty wound distract you!” He grabbed a hold of a handful of tawny feathers and yanked. Pidgeot screeched and flew up, which knocked a surprised Gliscor back towards his arriving ally. This flyer shrugged his dazed companion off and nodded at Mark Antony with a menacing glare; due to the Honchkrow’s hat-shaped head, the human had the impression that he was being tipped off by a very malicious gentleman. Pidgeot blinked the world back into focus, tears of pain shaken away, and saw the massive crow rearing his head back. The cascading waterfall of white feathers on his chest swelled in preparation.

    “Up! UP!” commanded Mark Antony, bracing himself for the dodge.

    His heart rocketed to his throat when Pidgeot obeyed. Inches below them, a ray that blended into the dark night sky flew by as silent as the bird that launched it.

    “What are these Pokémon?!” Mark Antony cursed. He chanced a quick glance behind him and admitted that these Pokémon were completely alien to him, although that raven bird reminded him of a Murkrow and the bat of a Gligar. Was it possible that they were some sort of cousins from another region, like Hoenn or Sinnoh? Once again, he swore at the people of Orre and the connections they apparently had.

    Gliscor’s triangular ears twitched, as though sensing the human’s distress. Showing a grin that displayed all of his razor-sharp fangs, he swooped in and raised one of his pincers. Mark Antony swung his sword and deflected the suddenly-coated silver forceps. Metal and Metal Claw met and produced a hair-raising screech that caused both parties to cringe in pain. The scorpion hybrid flew back to nurse his ringing head, letting Honchkrow fly in with a surprising caw.

    The Astonish was enough for Pidgeot to jump in the air and take his eyes away from the enemy. Honchkrow narrowed his own in triumph and flew back with one downbeat of his wings. By the time the Normal-type regained his balance, the Big Boss Pokémon was already descending down in a corkscrew manner. The Drill Peck hit tender chest flesh and ripped it away in seconds. Pidgeot cried out and tried to flap out of the way, spreading the running blood in all directions. Honchkrow stopped his spinning and ate a dangling piece of flesh off his beak, absolutely delighted. Mark Antony gripped the hilt of his sword, his face reddening in anger, and with one fluid arc of his arm, he flung his sword into the crow’s chest.

    Honchkrow tried to emit a caw, but only a slight gurgling was heard. Blood began to trickle from his beak, yet the flyer had enough energy to straighten and ruffle his red-tipped tail feathers. Mark Antony pulled his sword out when he finally managed to get Pidgeot to fly straight, ducking a wing that unleashed a devastatingly chilly Icy Wind. Gliscor materialized from behind his comrade and lashed his tail, the air that whizzed around him suddenly darkening into pitch blackness.

    “Air Slash!”

    Gliscor was buffeted by air that caught the underside of his wings and sent him toppling backwards mid-flight. He cringed while his Night Slash dissipated. Honchkrow swatted the scorpion away before he was hit, but by the time he did so, Mark Antony and Pidgeot were already high-tailing it to the mountains with a well-executed Agility. Both foes shared a heated glance and took flight after them, their cloaked trainers below following. However, it was obvious that they were too far behind to catch up.

    Mark Antony didn’t turn back and see if he was being pursued. From experience, he knew it when enemies were too hell-bent on stopping him to think about quitting. It didn’t mater if they were currently huffing and puffing like madmen, though. Once among the mountains, he could easily lose them.

    Pidgeot stopped dead in his tracks and turned around to face the pursuers, who also stopped in mid-air. Mark Antony was about to demand why he had stopped, but the dreadful feeling that hung in the sky became strong enough for him to finally sense. In an instant, his body was incased in goose bumps, and a cold sweat had broken out on his brow. As though sensing the human’s growing unease, Honchkrow sent a crooked smirk only the malicious bird could pull off; even Gliscor shirked away from the crow.

    Then a horrifying screech rent the air, a screech that told of murder, vengeance, and death. Mark Antony couldn’t put his hands to his ears. His body had seized up in relentless shivers that immobilized him, made him dread the seconds that ticked by. Honchkrow stopped the blood-curdling caw, but the echoes were still all around him, as loud as ever. It wasn’t until Mark Antony heard the sound of a hundred pair of wings flapping above him and saw the sand beneath them bathed by approaching shadows that he cried, his voice too frantic for his liking, “Fly, dammit! FLY!”

    They were off in a heartbeat, but the spawns of the night were closing in, if the sound of their chill-inducing caws were any indication. Mark Antony ignored his pulsing heart and braved a glance behind him.

    The shadow upon the sky parted as the hundreds of Murkrow spread out. Crooked beaks snapped at them, their speed and lust for blood greater than the sergeant had expected. Pidgeot yelped when multiple tail feathers were nipped at and flew forward with a great gust of wind that pushed many of them back. Mark Antony managed to swivel around, switching his grip from neck feathers to back feathers, and swung his sword. Two of the Dark-types fell in a flurry of feathers, but five more took their place. All the human could do was curse and continue to keep the birds at bay with swings of his sword. That all changed when Pidgeot, with his command, put in another Agility and tore through the sky, forcing him to just lay low and hold on for dear life.

    They sped across the sky, but the Murkrow became bolder. In twos and threes they bombarded the Johtonian with unsheathed talons while another one would dive-bomb and try to pierce his back. Pidgeot would brace himself and flip to the side, batting the birds aside with his wings. Backward flips were executed when the Darkness Pokémon sped up towards the front, and sudden feints were made when a cluster of a dozen decided to attack all at once.

    They finally made it among the winding paths of the mountains. Mark Antony turned back to the front, swatting away a Murkrow pecking at his hair, and yelled, “Uproar!”

    Pidgeot reared his head back and filled the air with a caw that went from ear-splitting to silent when it continued to climb octaves. On either side of them, rocks tumbled to life from the mountain sides. Mark Antony took one look above them and knew that the plumes of dust at the top meant the mountains’ peaks were crumbling. “AGILITY!” he bellowed above the crash of boulders and the shaking of the mountains.

    In a heartbeat, they were gone. The Murkrow shook away the appalling cry from their heads only to be pummeled by the landslide.

    _____


    “No…!”

    Mark Antony shook his head, hoping the scene at the top of the hill was just in his head. The bag of Poké Balls numbly fell from his grasp. He ran towards the burning building, Pidgeot soaring after him, trying to make him stop. The trainer whirled around and hit the bird across the face with a fist. Pidgeot flew back, stunned and horrified.

    “Get away, bird!” he spat, suddenly rigid with anger and fright. “Don’t you dare try and stop me!”

    Again, Pidgeot was left dumbstruck and watched as Mark Antony ran up the path towards the hill illuminated by flames. By the time his Pokémon lifted his wings and flew after him, the trainer’s silhouette was beginning to fade into the orange and red. All the while, Mark Antony looked around him, knowing it was arson from the moment he had seen the house ablaze from the sky. There was nobody in sight, although knowing the cunning law enforcement in Orre, he wouldn’t be surprised if the perpetrators were watching from the shadows of the sand dunes around the hill. The thought made his blood boil as hot as the flames that ate up the doorframe and leaped onto his clothes. Without missing a beat, he unhooked a Poké Ball from his belt and released a Croconaw from it. The reptile turned in the air and pounded the ground with his short, thick tail. The Aqual Tail rose up as a wave of water as blue as his scales and as deadly as the fangs that jutted from his muscled maw. It crashed and swept the flames aside while ridding the air of the acrid smoke. With a wooosh!, the water hit the walls and collapsed to soak the hardwood floor. Eyes bordered by black scales watched Mark Antony sprint across the living room and stand against the bookshelf that spanned the entire back wall.

    “Croconaw, Hydro Pump!” The ruby scales that ran down Croconaw’s back stiffened at Mark Antony’s scowl. There was something in his expression that was darker than normal.

    Pidgeot entered the home just in time to see the cyan crocodile rear back and release a torrential twister from his gaping jaws. The attack drilled into the bookshelf and send the smoldering books flying as tattered pages and charred covers. Mark Antony wasted no time in going down the revealed staircase and into Professor Lawrence’s lab. The path down was free of any flames, but once he landed on the bottom stop and could see the cavern that laid beneath the house, he couldn’t help but bite his lip. Wherever machinery laid, there were pits of flame in their places. They grew, roared, and connected with each other through the papers and chemicals scattered on the rocky floor.

    “This is where it all started,” he concluded upon seeing the ashen craters that peppered the floor and walls. Croconaw hopped to his side and inhaled to send a shot of water towards the growing wall of flames, but Mark Antony stopped him with a shouted, “Do that, and you’ll forever ruin the machinery!”

    “Croc!” his Pokémon retorted, waving his arms to emphasize the fact that Lawrence could die if the machinery exploded from the flames. When Mark Antony stood on the step, the gears of his mind grinding to try and find a way to save the lab, Croconaw realized that his master had no intention of saving the professor. The Water-type narrowed his eyes and couldn’t help but bare his fangs at the human.

    Mark Antony looked down at his Pokémon, a nasty frown upon his face. “What?” he barked. “Think I’m a monster? Go ahead and attack me, but as you do, remember that this house will soon collapse when the support beams are reduced to ashes. Are you going to let that happen?” When he saw Croconaw’s dawning expression of horror, the trainer looked over his shoulder and ordered, “Pidgeot, go with Croconaw to stop the blaze.”

    Pidgeot chirped for Croconaw to follow him and flew back out the tunnel. The Big Jaw Pokémon gave his master one last, uncertain look and went out. When they disappeared, Mark Antony stepped into the lab cavern with a new Poké Ball in the palm of his hand. Calm and sure that he had the situation under control, he released the Cubone from within the sphere. The bipedal creature of brown looked up, his eyes fearful behind the loose skull he wore over his head. His grip on his bone club tightened when Mark Antony came closer, but he dared not back away.

    “Okay, Cubone, I didn’t snag you so you could just stand there,” the human told him, and for a heartbeat, the Lonely Pokémon thought Mark Antony was going to bring out the same Pokémon that had murdered his first trainer. Instead, Mark Antony pointed at the burning machinery. High-quality metal held the worst of the flames’ wrath, but it wasn’t going to last for long. “Use a Mud-slap to put out the flames. If you even dare harm the machinery, I will personally allow you to meet your dead and useless trainer.”

    Cubone stiffly nodded and brought his bone club close to his chest. Tears were brimming in his eyes, tears of hate, anger, and utter sadness. The Pokémon took a deep breath, hoping that one day, he would be strong enough to take his own life and leave this cruel human behind. That day was not today, however, and so he complied to Mark Antony’s order by sweeping the ground with his club. Rocks were picked up, torn away as though by the jaws of a monster, and then reduced to nothing but mud with a second sweep of the club. Cubone then flung the mud towards the first machine, half-hoping his attack would indeed cause damage.

    Partial hopes were dashed when the mud simply doused the flames in a wet coat of slimy gray. Mark Antony nodded and pointed out another cluster of burning machinery. Cubone swallowed his disappointment and repeated the attack.

    “Mark…!”

    The hoarse, smoke-effected voice was a familiar one. From behind a massive computer riddled with sparking wires came stumbling out Professor Lawrence. His lab coat was in tatters from claw marks and burns, and his pale, ash-stained skin was peppered with bleeding cuts and bruises. With no cane to help him walk and a right leg that was nothing more than a charred limb, he soon fell to the cave floor. Mark Antony leisurely walked up towards the elderly man, his hands in his coat pockets and his expression indifferent. Lawrence reached out for him, but he knew that his apprentice had no intention of helping him. Even so, he kept his shaking hand aloft.

    Mark Antony knelt down to the man’s eye level, tilting his head with that same, cold frown he always wore. “I think I learned everything I can from you, Professor,” he told him, his tone matter-of-fact. “There’s no reason for me to stay under your apprenticeship.”

    “So…you’re leaving,” the old man breathed out, finally lowering his hand. Glazed eyes met Mark Antony’s stony hazel.

    Mark Antony lightly shook his head. “No, Professor. It will be you who will be leaving.” Leaving Lawrence momentarily surprised, the trainer said to the Pokémon behind him, “Cubone, Bone Club this man out of his misery.”

    “Bo-!” Cubone cut himself off upon realizing that Mark Antony wanted this man dead. Who to say the man wasn’t going to do the same to him? Solemnly nodding, Cubone ran up to them with shut eyes. Mark Antony stood up and smoothly moved out of the way. Lawrence looked up, unblinking and stock-still. His eyes were forced closed when the Bone Club broke his neck and sent his corpse skittering towards the computer he had used for cover. Cubone looked at the lifeless body then away when his eyes landed on the man’s bent neck. When he did, though, he caught a glimpse of his blood-stained club.

    “It seems you managed to put out all the flames,” Mark Antony observed when he turned his back on the man he just murdered. “Good job.” Cubone did not even hear his words.

    A couple of hours later, Pidgeot and Croconaw returned, exhausted and with winded breaths. They stopped when they descended the steps, and their blood ran cold. Mark Antony straightened from where he was typing on the computer he managed to save, Lawrence’s body forgotten at his feet. With a few more clicks, he finished rebooting the computer and turned to greet his Pokémon. What was left of the extinguished fires swirled around him as smoke. The machinery that could not be salvaged had been reduced to a pile of metal parts and electrical wires. Everything else needed to be repaired or rebooted, but Mark Antony didn’t mind.

    This was his laboratory now. It was his turn to take over the professor’s plans, although his schemes weren’t the same as the dead man’s. All he wanted was an army of Shadow Pokémon that would eliminate the Kantonians from his region.

    And now, that goal seemed within arm’s reach.

    In fact…

    Without warning, Mark Antony grabbed Cubone by the spikes of his mother’s skull. The Ground-type let out a startled yell and struggled, not even realizing that he could use his bone club to attack. The sergeant grinned at the petty attempts of escape and addressed his two Pokémon at the steps, “This is my laboratory now, and with that, Shadow Pokémon will be under my control.” He stole a glance at Cubone, who was frozen in fear. “Starting with you guys.”

    Pidgeot and Croconaw shared a look then bolted for the stairs. Before Mark Antony could pull our their Poké Balls to recall them, a blur of onyx rushed out from the shadows and in front of the runaway Pokémon. Ninetales stood before them, all nine of her tails brimming with spheres of cyan fire. Mark Antony blinked in surprise and saw the Shadow Pokémon give him a fanged grin. Their eyes met, and the Johtonian knew what she meant.

    “So you realized that the professor was too weak for this project, too?” he questioned the fox. “That’s why you didn’t help him back there.”

    Ninetales nodded at her new master then fixed Pidgeot and Croconaw with a cold glare. Both of the creatures cowered under it, and they were sucked back into their Poké Balls once Mark Antony put Cubone down, his boot holding the small Pokémon by his short tail. Once he hooked the two spheres to his belt, he recalled Cubone and held the Poké Ball in his palm.

    He proceeded to place it on the capsule holder, a wide, cylindrical appliance that sported burns and broken plates of metals. The glass dome that once protected the Poké Ball inside it from harm was nothing more than shards of scattered glass that Mark Antony crunched on his way to the computer. There was a good chance that the machine was still in working order.

    Mark Antony stopped typing, realizing that being wrong would probably result in the machine frying the Pokémon inside the Poké Ball.

    The man shrugged. He still had a bag of Poké Balls he needed to retrieve from outside. Pokémon subjects were not in short supply.

    _____


    The sun had set, and Mark Antony marveled at how Pidgeot’s sleet-gray and onyx-black feathers blended seamlessly with the night sky. The sergeant ran a hand though the bird’s back feathers and couldn’t help but feel a thrilling shiver. It had been three months since he had transformed his Pokémon into their Shadow forms, but he still got chills at the sight of them. Their very fur, feathers, and scales teemed with a power he still could not comprehend.

    Pidgeot cocked its head, and its minuscule pupils bore into Mark Antony’s own. There was no disobedience, hatred, or fear in them. All of those feelings had been dealt with and erased that night in the lab. That stony stare was only fueled with the iron determination of fulfilling its master’s wishes, a stark contrast to Ninetales’ cunning gaze. Did something indeed malfunction with the equipment due to the raid? Were his own Pokémon lacking something Ninetales had? Did the professor add something else to the transformation process he himself knew nothing about?

    It didn’t matter. Whatever it was, he was glad that his Pokémon didn’t exhibit it. That was the professor’s mistake. Shadow Pokémon were not meant to be independent creatures of great power. They were supposed to be nothing but powerful drones incapable of their own decisions. Allowed one sliver of intelligence, and they would turn. Even now, Mark Antony was still debating about whether to keep Ninetales or just dispose of her. She was devilish as she was powerful. Who knew when she would decide he was also too weak to control her…?

    From the edge of his vision, Mark Antony made out flames. His heart skipped a beat, and subconsciously tightening his hold on his bag of stolen Poké Balls, he shouted, “Pidgeot, climb!”

    The Pokémon angled its wings and flew up at neck-breaking speed, Mark Antony hunkering down as his heart went up to his throat. Beneath them, the Flamethrower past by in all its ruby glory. Pidgeot now flew leveled, seemingly uncaring that its feathers had been seconds way from being burnt off its body. Mark Antony, however, risked a look behind him and saw an orange coming right towards them, the dark-green undersides of his wings catching the breeze and taking him closer and closer to them. From behind the Pokémon’s long neck, the Johtonian made out a head of unruly, dark-brown hair.

    Mark Antony took his gaze away from the Charizard and his master to look beneath him and figure out a plan of escape; Pidgeot couldn’t very well fight at full potential with him on his back. To his great irritation, they were flying directly over a city made out of small houses and various labs that rose as metal skyscrapers from the sand. Gripping Pidgeot’s feathers, he looked beyond the town, beyond the stadium on the outskirts, and towards the great desert that expanded over the horizon. If he could get over there, Pidgeot would be able to create a sandstorm big enough to cloak his retreat and confuse the trainer, whoever he was.

    Charizard’s roar shook the foundations of the buildings, but the sound then transformed into a rippling in the air. Pidgeot whirled around, face still expressionless. From behind his goggles, Mark Antony saw the Heat Wave swell and extend in rolling waves of heat. Even yards away, the fire was intense; his skin prickled unpleasantly, and his mouth was bone-dry.

    “Who the hell is this guy?” he spat the question before yelling, “Mirror Move!”

    Pidgeot flapped itself from its smooth flight and faced the Charizard with fearless, unblinking eyes. With another down stroke, flames erupted from the underside of its dark wings. Mark Antony yelled out in surprise and covered his eyes, but the searing flames were still dancing in his mind. The sergeant felt the air explode with heat, felt flames hover down to burn his clothing, and he knew that the two Fire-type attacks had collided. Charizard’s bellow of pain came soon after. Curiously enough, the strange trainer said not a word, even after Mark Antony reopened his eyes and tried to lock gazes.

    “To the desert,” he ordered his Shadow Pokémon with a kick between the bird’s ribcage. With feathers still brimming orange, Pidgeot took off to the designated direction.

    A guttural growl told them the Flame Pokémon took off after them, his muscled, lit tail whipping behind him like a serpent. Pidgeot turned its head for a split second and directed a downbeat of its wings towards the dual-type. From the folds of feathers came shooting out a flurry of golden stars that illuminated the buildings they were leaving behind. Charizard spouted out a sliver of orange fire that warped itself into a twister; it wrapped the Swift and send it flying uselessly behind him. The Fire Spin ended, and Charizard was gaining speed. Mark Antony, for once, felt he was losing the advantage.

    “Pidgeot!” he yelled above the wind. “Use-!

    He was cut-off mid-sentence when an Air Slash hit them from behind and sent Pidgeot careering forward with frantic wing flaps. Mark Antony tried to get his Pokémon under control, but when he looked up, the trainer’s face met his own. Harsh dark eyes locked with his before his Charizard conjured a Twister with a downbeat of his wings. Mark Antony soon found his world turned upside down when the column of swirling wind engulfed both him and Pidgeot. His hands gripped its neck feathers, but his arms still shook at the prospect of being tossed up into the air and left to drop. Pidgeot’s screech rang in his ears as they spiraled into the spinning world beneath them. They were shadowed by Charizard’s descending form as they fell.

    Still, his trainer said nothing.

    Mark Antony, teeth gritted and eyes half-shut behind his goggles, pulled himself next to Pidgeot’s hidden ears. The bird’s cry was louder than ever, and he wasn’t sure he could hear the wind rushing around them anymore. The sergeant took a deep breath, willing his heart back to his chest if just for a moment, and uttered, “Tailwind!”

    Something clicked in Pidgeot’s mind, and it forced its wings to straighten and its tail feathers to stiffen to produce one last gust. Unfortunately, they were both sent backwards from the unpredictably strong rush of wind that was released. Their forms were captured by the Twister once again. This time, the Shadow Pokémon’s wings were strapped to its sides by the winds. Now, they were too close to the ground for another attempt.

    Suddenly, the Twister was broken by a downbeat of Charizard’s wings. Pidgeot’s own were freed just in time for both it and his trainer to crumple onto the ground, some last minute flaps saving them from a crash landing. The Johtonian rolled from his mount’s back and onto the ground. Mark Antony began to pick himself up, feeling the gravel beneath his fingers. Disoriented, he got on his knees and saw the rows upon rows of seats that surrounded the stadium. He stayed on his knees, the dizziness and nausea almost too much to bare. Pidgeot’s cry was now waning from the depths of his ears, and he thought he could hear the clanking of the chains that held up the battle arena above the mile-deep crevice dug into the desert. Mark Antony shut his mouth, tasting bile and feeling his heart still rapidly shaking within his rib cage.

    A thump! that shook the ground and made the gravel jump told him that the Flame Pokémon just landed. Pidgeot ruffled its feathers and looked up as it got back to its talons, but Mark Antony could only crane his neck and hope that the sudden movement didn’t send his world spiraling again. He only got as far as seeing the trainer don a cap and jump from the Chairzard’s back when the lights of the stadium turned on. White bombarded his eyes and made him look down again. Eventually, the sound of crunching footsteps forced him stand up, albeit wobbly, and face his foe.

    It was then that he noticed he was facing the famous Red.

    The twenty-year-old tilted his red cap up to reveal dark-brown eyes too aged for someone so young. Red regarded the Pikachu that bounded from the stadium box, down the rows of seats, and onto the battle arena with a softening of his steely eyes. The yellow rodent rubbed against the blue jeans of his master affectionately then redirected eyes of dark amber towards Mark Antony, red cheeks sparking with electricity. Mark Antony gave the Electric-type a look of distaste then squared his shoulders and raised his chin towards Red. Despite being five years younger than himself, Red looked down at him with that unwavering stare of his. It made the Shadow Trainer growl in anger.

    “I’ve heard stories about you,” he began, his words a tad slurred with the dizziness he still felt in his throbbing head. “Champion of Kanto. The one who defeated Team Rocket those years ago.” Something clicked, and suddenly, Mark Antony’s world was no longer shaking on its foundation. Perfectly-focused eyes narrowed. “They’ve sent you to stop me, haven’t they?” He wasn’t sure who “they” were exactly, but he had known, deep down, after that night in the lab, that somebody else was going to step up to try and take him down.

    Red merely nodded, expression still stern.

    Mark Antony raised an eyebrow, waiting for the champion to elaborate and give a reason as to why he thought he would succeed when countless others before him had failed. Red stayed silent and only pointed at Pidgeot. Mark Antony frowned and looked at his Pokémon to find the bird was holding one mangled wing close to its chest. Anger mingled with shock clung to his face. He glanced at the Charizard; that Pokémon was stronger than any other he had faced if his attack managed to break Pidgeot’s wing beyond usefulness. Still, he smoothed over his scowl.

    “You may have forced me to stand and face you,” he addressed Red acidly, “but do not think I have already lost!”

    The young brunet closed his eyes as though to say he would never think of such folly. Red’s Pikachu bounded to the center of the arena with his lightning bolt-shaped tailed twitching in anticipation for the battle he knew was coming. Mark Antony stepped up and fished out a Poké Ball from his belt, enlarging it with an expression of cold fury. Pikachu’s black-tipped ears were flat on top his skull when Cubone was released in a haze of dark-violet. Everything about the materialized Shadow Pokémon unsettled the mouse.

    Cubone tipped its bleach-white skull so that wine-red eyes could meet Pikachu’s defiant stare. Its ash-gray skin blended almost seamlessly with the gravel at its feet, and its club was now stained with the blood of the numerous victims Mark Antony had ordered him to dispose of in the past three months. At the sight, Red’s eyes dangerously narrowed. Mark Antony smirked, glad he evoked some kind of reaction from him.

    “Bone Rush,” was the simple, confident order.

    Cubone chucked its bone club, and two more materialized in its paws. Pikachu rolled away from the real club and dodged the two new ones by jumping high into the air. Cubone conjured two more and ran up to the rodent. The rodent’s eyes widened when the Ground-type jumped to his height in a flash. Without so much as a grin of triumph, Cubone clobbered the Kanto Pokémon on the head with one bone then slammed the other into his stomach as Pikachu fell in pain. The Shadow Pokémon descended down with one last bone in its grip.

    It was its turn to be shocked when Pikachu, seconds away from hitting the ground, flipped backwards and delivered an Iron Tail to the jaw. All Cubone saw was flashes of silver dancing among the lights of the stadium before he landed on the gravel. Mark Antony sharply looked at Red and knew he had given no command to his Pikachu. With an order of, “Bone Club!” to the mindless Cubone, he gave the Kantonian a glare that the younger trainer immediately turned to.

    “Is that how the famous Red faces his opponents?” Mark Antony called to him. “Do you look down upon them so much that you don’t bother with Pokémon commands?”

    The champion raised his head towards him, the brim of his hat casting a shadow upon his serious stare. “We trainers should not control a Pokémon’s every move. We are merely their guides in times of trouble. They are our friends, not our tools.”

    Mark Antony gave him an infuriated look, as though the words had slapped him in the face. He had heard many people say the exact same thing, but hearing it from Red was much more angering. When Mark Antony met those orbs of brown, he didn’t see an accomplished trainer, a champion, a defender of the people. He saw a Kantonian with his self-righteous beliefs and his aloof attitude. He saw that superior look, that air around him that emitted confidence and cockiness. All of it made him think of the Kantonian soldiers that were currently making themselves at home in Johto.

    The shaking of the gravel beneath his feet alerted him to the Pokémon fight. Cubone had Pikachu nailed to the floor with a bone against his throat. The trapped Pokémon growled and braced his hind paws against the Ground-type’s stomach. Cubone didn’t need Mark Antony’s command of, “Finish him off!” The reptile pressed the bone club more and more against Pikachu’s windpipe, sanguine eyes glittering in glee. Mark Antony stood back, his stirring anger making it difficult to enjoy the upcoming victory. He knew Red had more Pokémon in his disposal, but he also knew the champion would be too shell-shocked to continue the battle after one of his “friends” died before his eyes. In mere seconds, he would use Cubone and Croconaw to take control of Charizard and fly back to the lab.

    But then Cubone’s pain-filled cry snapped him from his musings. It stumbled back and clutched its mother’s skull with trembling paws. No matter how loud it yelled, though, Pikachu’s Uproar still assaulted its ears. The aforementioned mouse jumped to his paws and took off with a Quick Attack that hit Cubone in the abdomen. Mark Antony took a step forward when his Shadow Pokémon was knocked down then sent skittering again with an Iron Tail. A glance at Red’s solemn face made his blood boil anew. Pride was rearing up its head.

    “Cubone, do whatever you need to do to win!”

    Mark Antony couldn’t help but step back when Cubone looked at him. Its eyes glowed like bloody rubies, and it emitted a strangled cry of joy. Immediately, Cubone dodged Pikachu’s Slam with a swift jump back. Pikachu looked up only to see the Shadow Pokémon hanging off of one of the colossal chains that connected the arena with the stadium’s stone structures near the seats. With that crazy, triumphant glint in his orbs, Cubone brandished its club and slammed it against the chain. Metal links shattered at once, and the arena gave a great upheaval as it tilted to the right and down to the darkness below. Pikachu tore off towards the crazed creature when Cubone jumped and ran in the direction of the next chain.

    “STOP!” his trainer yelled, but the arena shuddered in warning and made him lose his balance. Now on his knees, he watched, horror-stricken, as the Lonely Pokémon climbed up the next chain. The sound of the torn link still echoed in Mark Antony’s ears like an out-of-tune chord, and he immediately rose to his feet and reached for Croconaw’s Poké Ball.

    Charizard flew above him, already one step ahead, and Pikachu retreated back to his master. Cubone inclined his head at the sound of leathery wings and smiled under his skull. He jumped away to avoid Charizard’s jaws and threw his bone with all the strength he could muster when he was swatted away by the dragon’s tail. The chain was split in half, and the destruction trickled down so that links burst apart before everybody’s eyes. Mark Antony gave a cry of alarm when he was thrown on the floor and sent sliding towards the tilting half of the arena. The groaning of the floor and the sound of waves of gravel tumbling along with him drowned out his frantic heart. Mark Antony dug the heels of his boots and tried to stand up, but the gravel beneath him continued on sliding. The angle towards the crevice was becoming steeper and steeper, much to his growing horror.

    Pidgeot’s screech joined the symphony of destruction. Mark Antony saw it tumble over the edge, its unbroken wing flapping uselessly as it was swallowed up by the darkness. Croconaw’s Poké Ball slipped from his fingers and was lost among the gravel. Cubone had jumped when Charizard went for his master, smiling proudly all the while.

    He had finally been brave enough to take his own life.

    “Mark Antony!”

    The Johtonian looked up when a large shadow covered his form. On top of Charizard, Red held out his hand towards him, outright concern taking over his once solemn features. Mark Antony scowled up at him. He felt rather than saw the edge creeping closer and closer. Again, he tried to get up, but he was swept off his feet the moment he did so. Red leaned towards him, his frown taught.

    “Don’t be a fool!” he shouted. Something in his eyes softened. “Please, Mark Antony. This is not your end.”

    Mark Antony analyzed the Kantonian’s hand. No. There was no chance that he could grasp it and pull Red down with him as he fell. Already the ground was lost beneath his boots.

    “Go burn in Hell!” Mark Antony spat. “And take your people with you!”

    And he went over the edge.

    _____


    In what seemed like an instant later, Mark Antony started, opened his eyes, and was assaulted by pristine white. He uttered a cry and stumbled back, but a pair of strong, gargantuan hands held him by the shoulders and forced him to straighten. If he had been a dog, his hackles would have risen and his teeth would have been bared at the touch. The Johtonian whirled around, jaw set firmly in indignation. All fury, and his voice, evaporated at the sight of a red eye glaring down at him.

    “I see you came to your senses,” a voice purred from above him.

    When Mark Antony grasped his nerves and turned away from the cyclops, he saw a pink feline leisurely fly from behind one of the many columns of polished limestone that circled the center of the white chamber. Tiny, triangle ears were perked in fascination, but the creature’s cerulean eyes were just as malicious as the twisted grin on his small snout. Mark Antony, with the ghost behind him, could only stand in shock. The Pokémon flew past him and circled him with pure curiosity, his long tail winding around the man’s throat like a loving snake.

    “Who are you?” Mark Antony growled, hating the fact that his voice shook. This Pokémon radiated power, and it sunk into his bones and heart to make his entire being shake. No, it wasn’t only the god’s presence that made him shiver. There was a shroud of cold that embraced him and refused to let go. Feeling the cat’s tail caress his face, he couldn’t help but wrap his arms around his quacking frame.

    It was then that he found his clothes had changed.

    “You’re dead, or haven’t you noticed?” the feline chirped in his ear, a smile weaving into his words. “It’s the whole reason you understand my tongue.” The Legend flew back as Mark Antony expected everything from his ash-gray, swallow-tailed coat to the pitch-black dress pants that draped over his boots. He was startled back to his senses when the cat faced him again, and a green pixie joined the Legendary Pokémon from where she was perched on a pillar. The disoriented soul managed to twist himself out of the ghost’s hands and step to his left so that he could glare at the three strange figures. As he did so, he faintly felt something strapped to his back.

    “Who in Arceus’ name are you?!” he repeated between chattering teeth; the olive-green scarf that was wrapped around his neck could not keep the chills at bay.

    The green fairy let out a scornful laugh, her two transparent wings fluttering as she came closer to him. “We are his children,” her melodic voice told him, the tone suggesting he was an idiot for not knowing so himself. “I’m Celebi, the time traveling deity who has graced your region for centuries.”

    As a spark of recognition ignited his now silver eyes, the first Pokémon’s taunting smirk melted into a dangerous frown that shadowed his gaze. It seemed that the fact that Mark Antony had the nerve to stand there, unafraid and demanding their identities as though he was in charge, ruined his fun. “I’m Mew,” he curtly told him. “Arceus’ first child. Like I stated before, you’re dead, Mark Antony Colfax. Judgment has been passed before you, and it has been decided that you’re to be Death’s assistant,” he motioned to the Dusknoir briefly, “for now and evermore.”

    Mark Antony clamped his gaping mouth shut. Without warning, he stepped up and grabbed Mew by the fur of his chest. Celebi’s antennae stiffened in rage while Death looked on with an indifferent look, the yellow mouth on his stomach twisting into a thoughtful frown. The time traveler, her clenched hands already sparking with blue power, was waved away with a flick of Mew’s hand. Mark Antony only saw Mew in his haze of red, Mew and that superior look the Legend’s eyes held even now.

    “How dare you think you can decide my fate?” His steaming anger was enough to keep his cold-induced stuttering away. “Gods you may be,” he spat, “but what becomes of me is my choice and my choice only.”

    Mew took one look at Mark Antony’s platinum irises and pale skin before chortling in his face. “You ignorant, ignorant human,” the god chastised him, growing amusement making his tail twitch. “When you’re dead, you have no say as to what will happen to you. If I so wanted, I could eliminate your soul from existence, and a part of me wonders, ‘Why haven’t I done so?’ You’ve killed many people, Mark Antony.” The human’s name sounded like sweet poison on Mew’s tongue. “Your heart is as dark as the Pokémon you created. There is no remorse, no forgiveness, in your hostile stare. Surely the world would benefit from your complete absence.”

    The soul gasped when he was lifted in the air by an invisible hand that held his body painfully tight. Though he realized that he didn’t need to breathe, Mark Antony still found himself panicking when Mew’s psychic powers began to compress his windpipe. The scythe strapped to his back rattled as he kicked his legs and clawed at the deity that had floated from his hands. Mew took a moment to relish the struggle before intensifying his powers. Now Mark Antony screamed and held his head, doubling over in the air and wondering if he was really dead. He felt the coldness, the lack of a heartbeat, and the truth in Mew and Celebi’s words, but was the pain he was feeling just in his head?

    The pain that stabbed at his mind like many knives was real. Mew’s next words were just faint, insignificant words that were drowned out by his yells. Celebi watched on with morbid fascination. Death closed his eye and bowed his head, waiting for Mew’s unneeded torture to be over.

    “But at the end I said no,” the New Species Pokémon continued. “It would be too much mercy for the likes of you. You need to suffer for your sins against Pokémon and human kind, not be slapped on the wrist and disposed of. So I’ll take every grain of memory you have and leave you in the world of Purgatory with Death for all eternity.”

    Mark Antony wanted to protest, but even when the pain ebbed away, he had lost the words in order to try and hold on to the memories that were running through his fingers like sand. Each time an image presented itself, it evaporated away. Placed and people he tried to recall no longer had any meaning, and after a while, even their names were lost. Again and again the pattern was repeated, and again and again he tried to hold on to something; even the most insignificant of memories, like the smell of his childhood home, were grasped in vain.

    And every time they escaped his fingers, even he, cold-hearted Mark Antony, had the urge to cry.

    So it was when he was dropped to the floor like a forgotten doll that he looked upon the holy chamber with empty eyes. He tried desperately to feel angry at the beings that smirked before him, but every event, every memory, that had made him the callous person he was had been wiped away. Even the notion of knowing his whole life had just been discarded was gone in an instant. Mark Antony sat there, his eyes wide and fearful of everything he saw.

    At length, all he managed was a shaky, “What have you done to me?” His voice grew stronger, yet his eyes still met the floor. “Why am I here?“

    On the polished tiles, he studied his reflection. He saw faint scars with no explanation and eyes that pained for no reason. The skull perched on the top of his strapped scythe stared back tauntingly. Or was it in understanding? It, after all, was as hollow as him. Hesitantly, he stood up and reached for the scythe. Once he held it close to his chest, the feeling of having a weapon in his hands was a familiar tingle at the back of his mind.

    “Come.”

    Mark Antony jumped at the voice and turned around to face Death. The three gray flaps on either side of the Ghost-type’s cylindrical head had been flapping in silent anger for a while now, but they were still as he looked down upon the twenty-five-year-old with that sole eye of his. Death tilted his head and observed his new assistant. Interesting. Despite having no memories, the soul had a firm, determined look about him that was only hindered by the lack of a gleam in his eyes.

    “I assume you will tell me what I need to do?” Mark Antony probed, noting that the energy he felt in the scythe could be felt in the hand Death laid on his shoulder.

    The Dusknoir glanced at him curiously. “You do not wish to know who you are or what you’re doing here?’

    The gaze that met him was one of defeat. “I have a feeling I don’t want to know.”

    “And your name?”

    The soul smiled a bit. “Mark Antony.”

    Death glanced at Mew, not knowing whether that sliver of a memory was meant to comfort or torture. With that lingering thought, both he and his assistant disappeared in a plume of emerald fire. The two deities watched the curling flames wane and die away.

    “Helping humans.” Mew snorted at the job Death had waiting for the dead sergeant. “Despite having no memories, a human can never change. He’ll loathe the job.”

    Celebi’s grin faltered with an occurring thought. “What if he grows to like it?”

    Her brother shrugged, though a malicious smile was present on his features. “Then he’ll be nothing more than a forgotten memory.”

    With those murderous words echoing among the marble walls, both gods settled in to enjoy Arceus’ absence.

    _____


    A/N: Wow, did that turn out longer than I expected.

    This is how the story would have gone if I had used this instead of what I wrote in the official chapters: Mark Antony would have indeed grown to love his job, never knowing who he is but happy enough that he doesn't want to know. Death keeps this from Mew, so Mew never destroys his soul as he said he would. However, as the story would progress, Mark Antony would come to figure out his past, (by some events I never specified in my notes) and he would be conflicted with his cold past self and the caring guardian angel he is now.

    But that is not going to happen. :P

    After writing this chapter out, I miss writing about my official Mark Antony, but I cannot work on two things at once. So that's why I didn't start Chapter Eight yet. ^^; I need to update faster if I ever want to write the sequel sometime in this lifetime. *looks at the pages of notes*


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