It was more curiosity than anything else, she never expected to find anything, much less anyone. After all, last she had seen, the ship had been partially vaporized.
Melody trudged through the broken metal and other shards, exploring the ruins of the Collector's ship. Every few steps she had to stop and brush the dust off her pants, or test her footing on something, or look up to make certain nothing was about to fall on her. It reminded her of when she was six and she had gotten lost in a cave. But the cave didn't have the treasures of the world shattered around her.
For a fleeting moment, she thought it looked like a bomb had gone off in a museum. But she was distracted by a sound behind her. Moving closer, she realised it was a human speaking softly.
"--left, just all of it, all of it completely gone..."
The steel control chair that had once served as the room's centerpiece lay broken to the side, with a limp figure draped over the seat. She took another step, craining her neck to see his face, but her step was in error and she fell to the ground, causing him to leap to his feet.
Standing and wiping the dust off, she saw that he was standing before her. Both saw the other's faces at the same time, prompting a shared word.
Melody spoke first. "My god...I can't believe you're alive..."
The Collector sighed, smirking slightly. "Festival Maiden...have you come to deliver some sort of divine retribution?"
His relaxed tone was, perhaps, the most unnerving thing about him. "...I came to see what was still here. I thought you were dead."
"If only, doll." He threw his arms wide, as though gesturing to the ruined room. "Were that it ended there."
She took a step back, looking around for something to defend herself with should the need arise. "...Look, I won't tell anyone you're here if I can get out of here without any trouble..."
"Trouble?" He smiled, chuckling to himself. "Trouble. What makes you think I would be the sort to cause trouble?"
Before she could think of what to say, he started laughing loudly. "Of course! I nearly destroyed the world, didn't I? Is that the sort of trouble you mean? Is it?"
She realised that, with the floor covered in debris, there was no way she could run. "...No, I didn't mean--"
Once again he cut her off. "Neither did I."
"I wanted Lugia. That was all." Chuckling, he started to walk away. "Two days ago, when it ended, I vowed to begin again. What a fool I was..."
Melody clenched her fists. "Of course you're a fool! What kind of an idiot would do something like this?!"
He sighed. "There is nothing you can say to me that I have not told myself in the past few days. This ship was once my sancuary, now it is my prison. I cannot leave the island for I know what will happen to me should I be found out. I cannot leave even the ship, for I have seen Zapdos circling overhead, and I know what it will do to me." A wry smile crossed his tired face. "...Come here for a moment, doll."
She knew better, she really did. But in that moment, when she stepped forward, she did so out of sheer curiosity. She was the Festival Maiden, after all, and if Zapdos was truly guarding the gates as this man said, surely it would rescue her if need be. "...what is it?"
There was a flash of gold in his hand, far too big to be the Ancient Mew card he had spoken of, and a gun was pointed at her chest. "Beautiful, isn't it? Fourteen-carat gold plating, pearl inlay on the handle...even the bullets were custom-made with a small sapphire on the back...Shame there's only one left now."
Melody finally let loose the scream that had been building in her the time he was talking. "Please don't kill me!" she shrieked. "I swear, I won't tell anyone you're here!"
An empty smirk crossed his face. "Perhaps you didn't hear me. There is only one bullet left. Do you really think I would waste it on the likes of you? The meaning of such a bitter end would be lost on you, Festival Maiden." He let his arm drop to his side.
As soon as the gun was pointed away from her, she slumped, relieved and frightened at the same time.
"You're probably wondering why I waited," he continued, echoing her thoughts. "I could have done this at any time, couldn't I?" He shook his head, ringlets of green hair swishing slightly against his face. "I had to wait. I have no other way of leaving a final request. But now that you're here, I must request it of you."
"...what is it?" Melody did not notice her hands trembling.
He turned back to her, smiling. Under other circumstances it may have been considered a warm smile, perhaps even friendly. "After I am gone, I do not wish to be spoken of ever again. I wish for whatever treasures remain from this ship to be taken away--I do not truly care what becomes of them--and the ruins of the ship itself cleared. There is to be no trace that I ever existed."
"...to be erased like that...after what you did, I don't think that will happen..." Slowly, Melody became aware that her knees had given out.
"Oh..." He seemed greatly disappointed. "...then as soon as possible. It will happen eventually, after all...all people fade into obscurity and dust sooner or later..." Another shake of the head, as though to clear his thoughts, and he extended his other hand to her. "Now stand up. I do not think you wish to be here for the finale."
She took it, having to lean against him to bring herself to her feet. "...there's nothing else?"
He leaned over, kissing her forehead. "That is all. I will rest easier that way."
In a daze, she was already nearly out the cavernous entryway when she stopped. "...what *is* your name, anyway?"
He smiled at her, from the control chair. "Now now, doll. That's cheating."
Melody was already clear of the debris and had her boat in sight when she heard the gunshot from behind her.