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Old 10-05-2008, 01:04 PM
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Gardevoir Girl Gardevoir Girl is offline
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Default Re: Visions Of Fate [PG-14]

Yeah-huh. I'm back. If you don't like it, tough.

Song lyrics in this chapter are from ‘We’re Coming Home’ by the Rogue Traders.

Chapter Sixteen

Blood

Aurikara

“Aura! Aura, wake up!”

I rolled onto my back and swatted the hands away. “Mmf… no…

Aurikara, get your lazy tail out of bed now!

My eyes snapped open and I sat bolt upright, gazing around in a panic. Gradually the events of the previous night returned to me and began to relax. I focused and managed to make out the dark shapes of a human and an Eevee before me, obviously the ones who had woken me up.

What?” I murmured sleepily, rubbing my eyes with one paw.

“It’s time to go,” Emerald whispered. “I promised that I’d take you to see Will today, remember?”

“I don’t…”

You were already asleep when she promised,” Lynn hissed. “You fell asleep in Shadow’s arms and Emerald stopped talking to make beds for us all.

I blinked and looked down, realizing for the first time that I was sitting in a woven wicker basket lined with something soft. Another empty basket stood nearby, presumably Lynn’s bed, and beside that lay a thin blanket which Bane could have bounced on as he slept.

“It’s early enough that we can see what we’re doing but not be seen by anyone else,” Emerald whispered. “I’ve got a job at the pound and I sometimes help out at the police station by taking food to the prisoners on my days off, so I’m allowed to be there, but you aren’t.”

I paused, uncertain; everything seemed too planned. Seeing my expression, Emerald gave a faint smile. “I see you’re smart for your age. Well, if you’re thinking that it’s all too planned, you’re right. After Will left home, I came here and took my job so I could save you when he was caught, which was bound to happen eventually. And yes, I knew he would have at least one Pokémon with him,” she added as I began to interrupt. “And then I started helping at the police station so I could be ready for his capture. And as for Shadow… well, I saved him for a reason. But we’ve talked for long enough; let’s go!”

I quickly scrambled out of my bed and followed Lynn to the door, where Bane was already waiting. Emerald vanished through a doorway and reappeared seconds later, Shadow trailing behind her with Miracle in a towel in his arms.

“Everyone, I need you to keep as quiet as you can,” Emerald whispered. “Watch where you’re going so you don’t trip, and keep to the shadows if possible. All right, let’s go.” Her hand closed around the doorknob and she pushed the door open, letting us out into the darkened hallway.

*~*~*

With Emerald in the lead, we all crept through the city at a run. The journey seemed to go on forever, and at the same time took no time at all. Finally the human slowed to a halt and beckoned Bane forward. I watched as he bounded apprehensively toward the door in front of Emerald.

“Can you unlock this?” she asked in a whisper, motioning toward the lock.

Bane’s pearl began to glow with a faint light as he concentrated. Almost instantly there was a quiet click and the door creaked open. Lynn took the lead instantly, creeping through the entrance and returning a second later to say that no one was there.

“Inside, and quickly,” the girl breathed, motioning for us to pass her. I padded after Lynn and found myself in a plain room containing only a potted plant and an enormous wooden desk.

“Through here.” We hurried toward the door Emerald opened for us, finding ourselves in a long hallway. I glanced around and realized that the walls on either side of us consisted entirely of thick steel bars. Behind the bars were countless cells side by side, each ten feet in every direction and separated by a stone wall. Gazing into the nearest cell, I saw only a metal bed frame holding a thin mattress and, blocking one corner from view, a roughly built wickerwork screen. The floor was hard stone and the temperature seemed much lower than outside.

I shivered and stopped abruptly, catching a hint of a familiar scent. I backed away from the cell and sniffed the air. Suddenly I gave a squeal of delight and bounded down the hallway, ignoring Lynn’s growl of warning.

Master!” I cried, skidding to a halt before a cell identical to the others. The dark shape on the bed stirred and rolled over, his eyes barely open. Suddenly he snapped awake and dived from the bed, rushing to crouch before me.

“Aura!” Will exclaimed, barely managing to keep his voice to a whisper. “I’m so glad to see you! I thought Emerald didn’t manage to get you out in time. I was really worried about you.”

Bane and Lynn hesitantly approached the cell, Bane increasing his speed when he realized that Will really was inside. Lynn hung back, her expression disdainful.

“I missed you all so much,” Will breathed, gazing around at the three of us. “How are you? Is Emerald looking after you well? Have you met Miracle? What about Shadow? Are they being nice to you? Aura, are your ribs all right?”

“Slow down,” Emerald whispered, smiling as she came up behind us. “They can’t answer all your questions at once.”

Eventually we managed to assure Will that we were all fine and had met everyone of importance. He gripped the bars as he gazed at us all, his eyes overbright. “I wish I could hug you all,” he murmured. “If only I wasn’t locked in here…”

He slipped his hands through the bars and Bane and I crowded forward, letting him stroke us. Lynn reluctantly allowed him to touch her thick fur, but as he began to withdraw his hand I clung to it. I blinked up at him sadly, clutching his hand with both of my paws.

“When are you coming out?” I asked.

“I don’t know, Aura,” he said quietly. “Maybe never. They might let me out after a few years because I’m young, but it’s also possible that I might be locked away in different prisons for the rest of my life.”

“But you didn’t do anything!” I cried. “How can they do this when you didn’t do anything?”

Will heaved a deep sigh, suddenly looking much older than he really was. “I did something very bad. If I never get out, I’ll deserve it.”

I stared up at him pleadingly. “You don’t deserve it! You’re a good master and you never hurt me like your brother hurt Selena-”

A sudden gasp from behind me made me stop. Emerald was gazing at Will in horror. “You told them what Kevin did?” she said incredulously. “You told them about that and not about what you did?”

“I’m sorry,” Will said heavily. “I needed to tell someone about her. Emerald… we met her in Pastoria City. She was with her new trainer. And she looked at me like I was the Messiah.”

“She wasn’t scared?” Emerald asked.

“No. She wanted to come with me rather than her new trainer. But I think what she saw might have scarred her for life; she hasn’t spoken a single word since she arrived at the orphanage.”

An expression of sadness flickered through Emerald’s eyes. “I think she was hurt more by what Kevin did to her than what she saw. She trusted him, and he…”

“You should go,” Will interjected. “The sun will be up soon and someone might see you. I’m guessing you didn’t pay to free any of the Pokémon?”

“No, they’re all stolen or illegally hatched,” Emerald admitted with a hint of pride. “I’m joining the family business of crime.”

“Go,” Will repeated, tugging his hand out of my grip. I continued to gape at him in confusion, wondering what the heck he and his sister had been talking about. Before I could say anything Shadow had caught me up in his arms and we were hurrying away from Will. I watched despairingly as the distance between us grew, wondering when or if I would ever see him again.

*

Selena

“You know we’re falling to zero, hurting much more than it did before!”

What in the…?

“I’m always playing the hero, cleaning your mess as you walk out the door!”

I forced my eyes open to see clouds of steam pouring under a nearby door. It took me a moment to register that I was lying on threadbare carpet with a dirty T-shirt spread over me to keep me warm. Before I could think about anything else, another barrage of sound hit me like a bomb.

“We’re coming home, we’re coming home, you know it’s now or never!”

I think that’s meant to be singing,” Rarutos said dryly. It took me a moment to realize that she was sitting on the edge of a bed behind me, dragging a brush through her damp hair.

“No afterglow, this time I know, but I’m feeling kind of better!”

That’s singing? I’m glad I never learned.

The door exploded open, bounced off the wall and swung closed again. After a moment of silence, Marisa pushed the door open more slowly, wincing and rubbing her nose. “Stupid door… good morning, everyone!”

“It was until you started singing,” Rarutos commented dryly.

“But didn’t you notice the sun?” Marisa rushed to the single window and wrenched back the plain white curtains, allowing light to pour into the room. I stretched my arms and drew a deep breath of the dusty air.

“Aren’t Kirlia meant to dance on sunny mornings?” Marisa asked, her hands planted on her hips as she glared at Rarutos. “But you’re just as cynical as ever!”

I didn’t know she knew that word,” Rarutos said uninterestedly, curling a lock of hair around her finger. “Hey, Selena, how do you think I’d look with ringlets?

I’m staying out of this.

I clutched the T-shirt more tightly and drew it over my head, hiding my face from them. After a moment it was tugged out of my grip and I found Marisa looking down at me with a concerned expression.

“I know there’s a reason you act so scared all the time,” she said. “You’ve obviously told Raru, and I’m going to find out eventually, so why don’t you just tell me now?”

“Her trainer raped her,” Rarutos blurted out before I could stop her. Marisa spun to stare at her and I pushed my hair back from my face, giving her a look of pure venom.

I told her not to say anything!

“Tyler raped her?!” Marisa yelped, horrified. “Holy Arceus… and I thought him beating her was bad…” She scooped me up in her arms, squashing me against her chest in a suffocating hug.

“I’m so sorry you had to go through all that,” she squeaked.

I attempted to squirm free of her grip until she finally placed me back on the floor. Marisa brushed a tear away from her eye and gazed sadly at me. “How could someone do something so terrible?”

How many times have I heard that? At the orphanage, and then with Tyler…

But that’s not all, is it?” Rarutos piped up. She tossed her hairbrush aside and slid lightly to the floor, spinning in a graceful pirouette leap before coming to a halt before me. “I can sense something else troubling you,” she informed me. “It’s something to do with Will, but the way you think about him makes me think that it isn’t something bad he did. And yet… if he’s on the run, he must’ve done something bad.

Marisa glanced between the two of us suspiciously. “What are you talking about? Raru, what’s going on?”

Rarutos completely ignored her trainer, stretching out one hand to touch my forehead. “Will you let me look at your memories?

I hesitated, trying to form barriers around my mind with my telekinesis. I was much older, stronger and more experienced than Rarutos, so I knew she would not be able to break through. I felt her warm hand press against my forehead and sensed her trying to read my memories.

Come on, let me in,” she murmured, her eyes closed tightly as she tried to focus.

I grabbed her wrist and pushed her away. Her eyes flew open and she looked at me questioningly, but I simply shook my head firmly.

The younger Kirlia reluctantly stepped back from me. “There’s something Selena isn’t telling us,” she informed Marisa. “I think it’s something to do with Will.”

“Will?” Suddenly Marisa looked troubled. “Do you… do you know Will?”

I nodded reluctantly, deciding that I didn’t want Rarutos to blurt out my other secret. Rarutos, however, had something else on her mind.

“Why are you so suspicious of Will?” she demanded. “Ever since you saw that poster, you’ve been acting strangely when you hear his name. What did the poster say?”

Marisa paused, then quickly wiped the concern off her face. “It could be a different Will,” she said casually, but I shook my head. I already knew that the boy on the posters was the same one who had treated me like his sister.

The fear returned to the human’s eyes. I watched as she drew a deep, shaky breath and said, “All right. The poster… it said that Will was wanted… for murder. He killed someone.”

Rarutos’s eyes widened in shock and terror. She glanced quickly between Marisa and myself as though waiting for someone to yell, “Psych!” Marisa was looking solemn and I simply bowed my head, silently admitting that I already knew.

“He killed someone?” Rarutos asked shakily. “Are you serious?”

I nodded mutely. I could clearly remember that day. This time I reluctantly allowed Rarutos to place her hand against my forehead and I closed my eyes, drawing on the memory.

Don’t hate him for what you see…

*~*~*

I lay sprawled on the floor of my cage, silent tears trickling down my cheeks, feeling the cold metal searing my back. Kevin had simply pulled his pants back on, thrown me back into my cage and walked out. My entire body was aching and I had an overwhelming desire to scrub myself clean, but I had no water.

The sound of footsteps intruded on my thoughts. Within seconds the door was thrown open once more, flooding the room with light. Kevin approached my cage, a steel jug clutched in one fist, and knelt to unlock my cage again.

I summoned enough strength to crawl feebly into the nearest corner. Kevin caught me by the ankles and stretched my legs out until I lay sprawled across the cage floor again. He held the jug over me, tilting it to pour a steady stream of ice-cold water over my entire body.

“Clean yourself up,” he said shortly, using the last of the water to fill my bowl. The cage door clanged shut again and I listened to his receding footsteps, then used the bars of my cage to drag myself to my knees. Immediately I fell upon my bowl, thirstily gulping down as much as I could hold. The water was fresh and clean rather than the mud I was used to.

Eventually I straightened up, licking the last droplets from my lips. At least half of the water remained in the bowl, and I cast a furtive glance toward the door to make sure I was not being watched. Hesitantly I scooped up some of the water in my cupped hands and began to scrub myself clean.

Savouring the feeling of being able to bathe again, I threw caution to the winds and dipped my filthy, matted hair into the bowl. Clumps of it came loose in my hands as I washed as much dirt out of it as I could.

My bath over, I crawled back to my corner and curled up in a tight ball. It had not been a smart idea to wash my hair in my bowl; the next time I tried to drink, I would taste oil and dirt in the water. It was too late though; I would have to deal with that when it happened. I hunched myself against the cold bars, closed my heavy eyes and drifted to sleep.

The sound of quick, hurried footsteps brought me back to consciousness before long. I sat bolt upright, clinging to the bars as I listened. These footsteps sounded different to Kevin’s, as though the person was lighter and trying to keep quiet.

There was a pause, then suddenly the door creaked open. A slight, familiar figure slipped inside, closing the door quickly after themselves. I squinted at them, trying to identify them.

The figure froze, sensing another living creature in the same room. “Who’s there?” a voice whispered hoarsely. Their voice sounded male but not very deep, as though it was a prepubescent boy. My eyes widened as I recognized the voice.

“Will!” I cried, my voice sounding feeble in the darkness. My throat seared with agony; speaking caused me pain after the screaming I had done earlier. A single call was enough, though; the figure paused, then a burst of light illuminated the storeroom. Will had dared to turn on the light and he now hurried toward my cage, his footsteps echoing around the room.

“Selena?” Will breathed, crouching before me. I pressed myself against the bars to be closer to him, feeling tears spill from my eyes again. He reached for my hand and I stretched out my unhurt arm toward him.

“Selena… you look terrible…” Will whispered, gazing at me in concern. His eyes travelled past me and he wrinkled his nose in disgust at the state of my cage. “He’s been treating you horribly…”

I nodded silently, simply glad to be with him again. He squeezed my hand gently, then released it and drew a hairpin from his pocket, inserting it into the padlock on my cage.

“I heard you screaming before,” he told me as he worked. “I was waiting for a chance to get in here when my brother left. I snuck in the moment I got a chance and I’ve been checking room after room to find you.”

Suddenly a thud behind him made both of us freeze. Will slowly turned his head, finally realizing what had happened. Kevin had slipped into the room while Will was talking, making no sound at all until he had closed the door firmly behind him.

Kevin gave a humourless smile. “Well, well, if it isn’t my dear little brother.”

Will rose to his feet, fury in his eyes. “You can’t do this to Selena,” he spat. “You’ve been keeping her in this tiny cage, not bothering to clean it, letting her starve and freeze to death… I can get you arrested for this!”

Kevin’s expression didn’t change. “I can do what I want to her,” he said calmly, his eyes flickering briefly toward the floor before returning to Will’s face.

“You…” Will hesitated as he noticed his brother’s attention waver. He turned to look at me and I lowered my gaze, too scared to admit what had happened. I watched Will turn his gaze on the stone floor before his feet, which was peppered with drops of blood and…

“You monster!” Will snarled, taking a step back as he realized what had happened. “You animal! I knew you were cruel, beating her and locking her up like this, but actually forcing her to… that’s just sick and wrong. You’re despicable!” he screamed, throwing each word like a rock at his brother.

Kevin didn’t flinch as Will spoke. Finally he moved forward, bringing his hands out from behind his back to reveal the metal pipe he held. “She’s mine,” he said calmly. “I can do what I like with her.”

“You sick-”

Will never finished his sentence; Kevin abruptly launched himself forward and Will barely dived out of the way as the pipe came down on top of my cage. I recoiled, the shock travelling through my body like an electric attack. Will stumbled to a halt near a stack of empty cages, his eyes scanning for something he could use to defend himself.

“You don’t seem to realize that all of this has a purpose,” Kevin said conversationally. “You see, it’s a little-known fact that certain people in Veilstone City like to have Shadow Pokémon imported. Of course, there has to be somewhere to import them from, and it has to be beside the sea. And what better place to store them than this old, rickety warehouse?”

“Shadow Pokémon?” Will demanded. “What are Shadow Pokémon?”

“Pokémon with their hearts closed,” Kevin replied, approaching Will with his pipe ready. “They are the ultimate fighting machines.”

“But what does that have to do with-” Will ducked as the older boy swung the pipe down, then quickly threw his weight into Kevin’s stomach. The older boy doubled over and Will kicked his feet out from beneath him, taking the chance to rush to the opposite side of the room.

Kevin climbed to his feet as Will vaulted over a heap of steel boxes. “Selena is important too,” Kevin said, watching with faint amusement as Will resumed his search for a weapon. “There aren’t enough Shadow Pokémon being shipped over to deal with the growing demand. So a team of scientists in Veilstone City developed their own way of making normal Pokémon into Shadow Pokémon. It takes the most horrible treatment to make a Pokémon close its heart.”

“So she was your guinea pig?” Will demanded. “You were testing out your own method on Selena?”

“Well, she was going to be the first made here,” Kevin agreed, once again approaching his brother. “But for some annoying reason, I’ve managed to break her but not close her heart. There’s too much hope there for me to wipe it out. I tried everything I could think of, but nothing worked. And then,” he said, stopping just feet from Will, “I realized why. She only responds to you. She only cares about you. She only loves you. And it seems like you feel the same about her.”

Despite the seriousness of the situation, I couldn’t stop a blush from rising to my cheeks. Kevin had figured out my secret, and now Will himself knew…

“She’s my sister,” Will said fiercely, crouching behind the boxes where Kevin could not reach. “Of course I love her.”

Kevin chuckled lightly; an oddly chilling sound. “If you want to take it that way…”

I clung to the bars of my cage, watching anxiously as Kevin raised his pipe to strike. Will was completely out of my range of vision, so there was no way of telling if he knew there was an attack coming. Silently I prayed that he had found a weapon of his own.

A deafening clang reverberated around the storeroom and Kevin reeled back. Will had appeared behind the boxes, gripping what looked like a steel chair leg. He swung it at his brother; his weapon swished dangerously through the air, sounding much more lethal than the unwieldy pipe.

Kevin took a step back. “So, the innocent little kid isn’t afraid to fight back,” he taunted.

Will’s face was alive with fury. “I would do anything to save Selena,” he snapped. “I would kill for her.”

Suddenly he struck again, aiming the metal bar directly for Kevin’s head. The older boy barely managed to step out of range. He stopped a few feet away, clearly waiting to attack when Will tried to climb over the boxes.

Guessing Kevin’s plan, Will briefly took his attention away from his brother and vaulted clean over the boxes. He landed just as Kevin prepared to strike and raised his bar to block the attack. The two pieces of metal collided with a deafening clang.

“Should I kill you or just knock you out?” Kevin jeered, but the strain was showing in his face. Will was as light as a kitten and fast as a rattlesnake, his eyes alertly fixed on Kevin’s shoulders to see when he would attack. I watched in awe as he avoided most of Kevin’s attacks, blocking those that he was unable to dodge, never letting his brother inflict even a scratch upon him.

As Kevin began to tire, Will used his bar more and more offensively. At every pause in the fight, he swung it in a sharp arc so that Kevin was forced to dodge. He began to move backward, slowly moving closer and closer to my cage.

Finally Kevin’s legs hit my cage. Sensing defeat, he suddenly thrust his pipe at Will, who instantly blocked the blow. They seemed to freeze in place, both brothers pushing against the other’s weapon in an attempt to break his grip. Kevin leaned forward, the fight turning in his favour; Will’s youth and lightness may have been an advantage earlier, but he could not outmuscle his brother.

Suddenly Will twisted aside, swinging his foot at the same time and kicking Kevin’s feet from beneath him. His bar fell to the floor with a clang; he had broken his own grip to perform the manoeuvre. Kevin stumbled and began to fall, the pipe sliding from his hands as he grabbed for anything to hold him up. There was a sickening thud as the back of his head slammed into the corner of my cage.

All of the strength immediately left Kevin’s body and he slumped to the floor, completely motionless. A pool of blood began to spread steadily from his head. Will stood motionless for a moment, panting and sweaty, waiting for Kevin to rise.

Nothing happened. I listened intently; I could not hear Kevin’s breathing. Suddenly a thought occurred to me; I was not sure if it was wonderful or horrible, but maybe…

Will took a slow step forward, as though expecting his brother to suddenly grab his foot and leap up. He lowered himself to his knees, hesitated and stretched out one shaking hand, pressing two fingers against the side of Kevin’s neck. After a moment of silence, he swallowed hard and lifted his gaze to me.

“He… he’s dead,” he said shakily, looking as though he was about to throw up. “I just… killed my own brother.”
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  #42  
Old 11-07-2008, 10:33 AM
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Gardevoir Girl Gardevoir Girl is offline
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Join Date: June 25, 2008
Location: Trapped in my computer
Age: 28
Posts: 151
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Gardevoir Girl is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: Visions Of Fate [PG-14]

Sorry for the unusually long delay. My word processing program sort of, er, 'went to meet its maker'. In other words, it dropped dead. So I needed to get a new one, which didn't happen, and here I am stuck with Wordpad. No spell-checker, so my obsessive spelling seems to have a purpose after all, but please point out any typos you see so I can brutally murder them.

Also, the next chapter may not be entirely my own work. I will, however, be giving credit to the person who has already agreed to help me plan out a scene I'm having a lot of difficulty with. To that person... well, you know the words. <3

Chapter Seventeen

The Challenge

Rarutos

I broke my contact with Selena, struck dumb with horror. After a moment I became aware that Marisa was gripping my other hand, her eyes wide with shock. She had seen the memory at the same time as I had.

Slowly she released my hand, still gaping at Selena. The Kirlia lowered her head silently.

“Did… I just see… what I thought I saw?” Marisa asked haltingly.

Selena nodded, still refusing to speak. I glanced between her and Marisa, wondering if it had been my imagination. I cleared my throat, then remembered that Marisa couldn’t understand my language and switched to telepathy.

“Was it my imagination… or did she think of that boy as Kevin?” I asked.

Marisa glanced down at me. “What does that have to do with anything?”

“Because… that means that Tyler didn’t rape Selena. That Kevin guy did. And Will killed him… but he did it by accident, and he did it to save Selena.”

Selena nodded eagerly, looking relieved that I had figured it out. Realization dawned in Marisa’s eyes at the same moment as I came to a sudden conclusion.

“Will is innocent,” I announced. “He did kill someone, but it wasn’t murder. Kevin was the guilty one. What he was doing couldn’t possibly have been legal… could it?” I turned to Marisa, still uncertain about human law.

Marisa slowly shook her head. “Murder means killing someone on purpose, but Will did it by accident. And Kevin could be arrested for mistreating Pokémon at the least - if he was still alive, I mean.”

“We could clear Will’s name,” I said slowly. “He wouldn’t have to run any more.”

“But he can still be arrested for manslaughter,” Marisa sighed. “And I doubt anyone would listen to us, Raru. We’re both still children, and we don’t really know the whole story. If only Selena would talk… they’d probably listen to a witness.”

“I’m not a child!” I said indignantly. “I may only be a few months old, but I’m more mature physically than you!”

“You’re a Pokémon, and you’re not a witness,” Marisa pointed out. “They won’t listen to you even if you’re fully grown.”

I crossed my arms, fuming silently. Marisa picked up on my mood and said quickly, “Let’s just go and meet Mark and the others for breakfast.”

Before I electrocute her. I wonder if I can still do that now that I’ve evolved?

I raised my hand and focused, feeling a faint crackle of electricity around it. I could definitely still use Shock Wave after evolving. With an evil smile on my face, I followed Marisa and Selena out of the room.

*~*~*

Mark picked up on our mood the moment Marisa sat down beside him. She and I were both shaken by what we had just seen and Selena looked more subdued than ever before. I glanced around the café in an attempt to distract myself, but I shouldn’t have bothered. The walls were bare and painted a dull khaki colour and most of the tables were empty, giving me absolutely nothing interesting to look at.

Mark leaned forward in his seat, gazing at Marisa’s face. “Hey, are you all right?”

“Huh?” Marisa said blankly, staring at him as though she had just noticed him.

I kicked her from my seat beside hers, sending her a silent telepathic message. “Smooth move. Now he’s going to ask what happened.”

“What happened?” Mark asked almost instantly.

Marisa glanced at me and I rolled my eyes. “I didn’t have to read his mind to know he was going to say that.”

“Nothing happened,” Marisa lied unconvincingly. “I, uh… I just… Raru doesn’t like my singing.”

Mark raised one eyebrow at her. “And that is what’s making you so unresponsive? I may have only known you a week but I’ve never seen you so silent.”

Eruri stared hard at me around the menu. He was once again wearing his headband, although I couldn’t remember seeing Mark pick it up from beside the pool. I sensed him attempting to read my mind and quickly threw a barrier around my thoughts.

You can tell me the truth,” Eruri said. “I won’t tell Mark if you don’t want me to.

I knew that he could easily break through my barriers if he wanted to, but I didn’t feel him trying. He wanted me to tell him myself. I glanced briefly at Marisa and when she didn’t reply I slid from my seat to the floor. Eruri followed as I motioned to him, and Selena and Ruka silently watched us leave.

Once outside the café, I sank down on the kerb at the edge of the road. “First I want to ask you something,” I said as Eruri imitated me. He pushed his hair back and watched me intently.

What happened in the Gym?” I asked, finally voicing the question that had been annoying me for a week. “Why were you shaking like that? Why did Mark have to take you to the hospital?

Eruri bowed his head and lifted one hand to his chest, using one finger to gently trace a long scar I had never noticed before. “[/I]This is why,[/I]” he said quietly. “It happened just over a year ago. I was in a rough fight and my opponent nearly killed me. I can’t get overemotional or exert too much energy, because when my heart starts to beat faster for too long I get sick. Is that what you wanted to know?

I nodded silently, amazed. He hasn’t had an easy life…

Eruri leaned back casually, leaning on his elbows to stay up. “So why are you and Marisa so quiet?

I paused. “Promise me you won’t tell Mark.

I promise,” Eruri said solemnly. “I won’t breathe a word to him or Ruka. And I won’t tell them telepathically either,” he added as an afterthought.

I drew a deep breath and began to describe Selena’s memory.

*~*~*

Eruri straightened up as I finished talking. He had listened intently to my every word and had not interrupted once. “Wow,” he finally murmured. “I knew Selena had been beaten, but I never would have thought… that explains how different she seems to the young Ralts she used to be. And… you said she loves her old trainer’s brother?

I nodded eagerly. “Imagine! A human! She’s in love with a human!

Imagine that,” he repeated quietly, but I could tell that he wasn’t as stunned by the fact that his half-sister loved a human than by the rest of the memory. He leaned his head on one fist and stared into the distance, his eyes empty of expression.

You don’t seem surprised,” I pointed out.

Eruri shook his head, snapping back to awareness. “No, not really,” he said. “It’s more common than you’d think. But humans disapprove of that sort of love and try to stop it. I’ve seen some horrible things on television…

Amazed, I shook my head. “I don’t get it. How could a Pokémon love a human? I mean, Marisa is like my sister… like an annoying, clumsy sister, but still a sister. But I could never imagine loving her romantically. It’s just… sick!

It’s not that different to a Pokémon loving another Pokémon,” Eruri said mildly. “Charmeleon and Monferno are different species, but they can still fall in love with each other. And we’re both similar to humans; would it be so disgusting if we fell in love?

If we fell…?” I stopped, my eyes widening in shock as Eruri leaned closer. An involuntary gasp escaped me as his lips gently touched mine, sending an electric thrill throughout my entire body. I felt like I must be glowing like a light bulb. All too soon I felt him draw away and, realizing that my eyes were closed, I opened them again. His face was barely two inches from mine; he gave a mischievous smile and returned to the café.

My breath was coming in short, sharp gasps and I felt the blood rush to my cheeks, causing them to burn bright red. My lips were throbbing as though someone had just punched me in the mouth, but I savoured the feeling. I was still thinking about the kiss as I stood up and slowly returned to the café.

“Where’ve you been?” Marisa demanded the moment I stepped inside. Eruri was already back in his seat; he smiled at me as I approached the table. I licked my lips absently and climbed back onto the empty chair, wishing I could sit on the opposite side of the table.

Mark glanced between Eruri and myself as I tucked my hair nervously behind my ear. Gradually a smile appeared on his face and he elbowed Eruri. The male Kirlia grinned guiltily up at his trainer in return.

“What’s going on?” Marisa asked, gazing suspiciously at me.

I quickly pasted a smile on my face, hoping that my lips were back to normal. “Nothing,” I said innocently.

“Don’t nothing me,” Marisa said sternly. “Raru! What did he say to you?”

“I don’t think it’s what they talked about that matters,” Mark said mildly.

My trainer stared blankly at him. “Huh?”

Before he could explain what he meant, Selena caused a distraction by scrambling into Marisa’s lap and hiding her face in the human’s shirt. Only seconds later a shadow fell over the table and I looked up to see a teenage boy standing over us, a puzzled expression on his dirty face. He looked a few years older than Marisa but not as old as Mark, his dark hair untidy and his torn and faded clothes a similar shade of blue to that of his eyes.

“Excuse me,” he said to Marisa, “but I thought I recognized that Kirlia you’re holding. Do you mind if I have a look?”

Marisa glanced uncertainly down at Selena, who was still hiding her face from the humans. Eventually she gave a reluctant nod. The boy bent down and lifted Selena’s hair off her back, exposing the livid scars.

“I thought so,” he said triumphantly. “This is my Kirlia. I adopted her months ago and I’ve got the papers to prove it.”

I felt as though an icy hand had closed around my heart. No… it’s Tyler and he’s come to take my sister away…

“And you are…?” Marisa prompted.

“Tyler,” the boy announced, confirming my fears. The hand around my heart clenched tighter, squeezing away all of the happiness I had felt only moments before. At the same moment, I watched Marisa’s grip tighten on Selena, drawing her closer protectively.

“She’s mine,” Tyler repeated. “Give her to me.”

“She doesn’t belong to you,” Marisa snapped. “You abandoned her! You ran off and left her in Pastoria City! You don’t deserve her!”

Tyler’s eyebrows furrowed slightly at Marisa’s words. “Wait a minute… how did you know that?”

“She told me,” Marisa lied. “She also told me she’s never spoken to you. You don’t know anything about her because she never trusted you!”

I wouldn’t have been surprised to see steam shoot from Tyler’s ears. “I challenge you to a battle!” he roared. “If I win, you have to give Selena back to me!”

Marisa glanced down at the Kirlia in her arms. “No,” she said defiantly. “I accept your challenge, but whoever wins has to give Selena the chance to choose who she wants to stay with. Do you agree with that?” she asked Selena gently.

The Kirlia lifted her head, glanced nervously at Tyler and nodded. Under Marisa’s glare and Mark’s solemn gaze, Tyler seemed to deflate slightly.

“What’s the point of battling, then?” he murmured, then drew himself up to his full height. “Fine. You’ll referee?” he shot at Mark.

“Sure,” Mark said, shrugging.

“Meet me by the fountains in half an hour,” Tyler said, turning to walk away.

*~*~*

A cool breeze ruffled my long hair, causing me to shiver slightly. I began to rub my arms to keep myself warm as I glanced around, waiting for Tyler to arrive. Selena had refused to leave Marisa; she was curled up in my trainer’s arms, her alert scarlet eyes staring fixedly down the road.

“Maybe he chickened out?” Marisa suggested.

Mark shielded his eyes from the sun and squinted at an enormous clock atop an ancient building. “No, we’re early.”

Marisa began to pace back and forth; she would have wrung her hands if she hadn’t been holding Selena. “He’s probably out training his Pokémon,” she said anxiously, “and when he gets here he’ll be so strong that my team will faint right away, and then Selena will want to go with him because we’re too weak to protect her… who are you going to choose, anyway?” she demanded of Selena.

“Don’t pressure her,” Mark said. “She’ll decide when she’s ready to decide.”

Selena pushed aside her emerald hair and met my gaze, panic in her blood-red eyes. Instantly I knew her dilemma; she was afraid to refuse Tyler, and at the same time she didn’t want to upset Marisa. With each second, the moment when she would have to make her decision was drawing closer.

Marisa thought she was doing the right thing by Selena, but in reality she was putting her in an extremely difficult position. Refuse to go with Tyler and stay with her family and friends, and maybe receive a terrible punishment from Tyler… or go with Tyler out of fear and avoid the punishment, only to spend the rest of her life with someone she is terrified of?

“This was a bad idea,” I piped up, drawing Marisa’s attention away from the fearful green lump in her arms.

“How so?” the human asked.

“If Selena chooses you, she’ll be with her family and the ones she trusts, but she’s afraid of repercussions from Tyler. If she chooses him, she’ll disappoint you, and although she’ll avoid being punished by Tyler, she’ll have to live with someone she’s afraid of. I know you thought you were doing the best thing, but you actually put her in a really difficult situation.”

Horrified, Marisa’s chestnut eyes flashed down to Selena. “I’m so sorry! I didn’t realize… I thought this was best for you, so you got to choose instead of being forced to go with anyone. I made a huge mistake, didn’t I? I should have refused the battle.”

“You did the only thing you could,” Mark said reasonably. “It’s true that she’s in a bad position. It’s also true that she’s not being forced into anything. You couldn’t have refused the battle. By the rules laid down by the Pokémon League, if one trainer challenges another, they have no choice but to accept.”

“Yeah…” Marisa said, calming down slightly. “I did the only thing I could. Maybe I can draw out the battle to prolong the moment… if Tyler has more than two Pokémon, will you help me?” she asked Mark.

“I can’t, I’m the referee. But I can do this…” Glancing around discreetly, he unclipped the two spheres from his belt and pushed them into the girl’s hand. “If you want to know who’s in which ball, just squeeze it in your fist. Ruka’s ball lets off a faint aura that you can sense if you really try.”

“Thank you,” Marisa whispered. She tipped the orbs into her pocket with Sutanu’s and dragged Mark into a one-armed hug, trying not to squash Selena between them.

“He’s coming,” Mark said quietly, gazing over my trainer’s shoulder. She released him at once and spun around, her cheeks drained of all colour. I stared down the road at the dark figure, watching it grow larger as it approached.

Tyler held his head high as he walked, his eyes burning with the passion that the thought of battle ignites in every trainer. He came to a halt before Marisa and Mark. Selena shivered and huddled into Marisa’s arms, trying to escape her trainer’s eyes.

“How many Pokémon do you have?” Tyler demanded of Marisa.

She drew herself up to her full height and glared at the boy. “How many do you have?” she retorted.

“Four, not including Selena,” Tyler said. “And any of them can beat your entire team in one hit.”

If it was even possible, my trainer’s face became paler at these words. “I doubt that,” she said, trying to sound confident even though her voice was shaking. “I have four as well, and we’ve beaten everyone who challenged us without even breaking a sweat.”

Tyler seemed completely untroubled by her claims. “If you weren’t lying, you wouldn’t be so nervous,” he said simply.

Abruptly he spun to face Mark. “Conditions?”

Mark hesitated for a moment. “Double battle, no items used,” he said, thinking as he spoke. I knew he was trying to tip the battle in our favour without being obvious about it. “If you recall a Pokémon during the battle, it counts as being defeated. Is that all right?”

Marisa nodded silently and Tyler said, “Agreed.” He turned and strode away.

Marisa glanced anxiously at Mark. “I’ve never been in a double battle before!” she whispered desperately.

“Don’t worry, it’s easy,” he said distractedly. “Get both of your Pokémon to target only one of Tyler’s, so you can knock it out as quickly as possible. Ruka and Eruri work well together in double battles.”

Tyler had come to a halt a short distance away. Mark gave Marisa a brief hug and murmured something in her ear before hurrying away to stand halfway between the two trainers, out of the way of the battle.

Marisa let out a slow, shuddering breath. “I really don’t want to do this,” she whispered.

Tyler had paused for a moment and was now reaching for something on his belt. He raised both arms and flung two spheres into the space between us. Both objects burst open and expelled a flood of dazzling light, which arced toward the ground and twisted itself into the shape of two creatures.

As the light faded, one of the creatures rose up and hovered two feet off the ground. Its metallic blue body resembled a UFO, with a single bone-like horn between its narrow crimson eyes. It flexed its thick and powerful arms threateningly.

From the second burst of light, a rather thickset feline took form. The white glow gave way to dark fur; short and a shade of aqua over some of the body, but longer and black over the head, shoulders, legs and rear. Slowly the lion-like creature stretched its thick legs and yawned, flicking its long star-tipped tail.

“Tyler has chosen Metang and Luxio,” Mark called. “Marisa, your turn.”

Trembling, Marisa reached into her pocket and withdrew a single sphere. “All right… Sutanu, Rarutos, you’re up!”

She tossed the ball lightly into the air and a third jet of light exploded from within it, landing a few feet away and shaping itself into the familiar skunk-like form.

I drew a sudden gasp of shock, remembering a conversation with Ruka on our last night in Pastoria City. Look at him and concentrate. Concentrate…

His aura…

A Dark type would naturally have a dark aura; it was what prevented me from being able to use my powers on him. But I had been able to sense his dark aura before evolving, and it had simply been a stifling force. Now a definite sense of hatred and cruelty radiated from him, and I realized that I could actually see his aura, just as Ruka had said I would.

A black haze hovered around the Pokémon’s body, distorting his features and blurring his outline. It was much darker and heavier than any normal Dark Pokémon could possibly have. It was anything but natural; only humans could cause something like this.
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Old 07-16-2009, 07:41 AM
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Default Re: Visions Of Fate [PG-14]

I am fully aware no one reads this here.

This chapter contains twelve months’ worth of work. I had one heck of a struggle overcoming my writer’s block, but as you can see, I managed it - all in the hopes that one day, the person I wrote it for might read it. This chapter is dedicated to the real Selena, a child who wasn’t even conceived when I started writing, but for whom I feel this story was always written. Selena, if you ever read this, remember that you’re the luckiest girl in the world to have a mother like my best friend.

Sorry if my writing is a bit rusty (and the chapter is shorter than usual). As always, italics for Poké-speak, no italics for telepathy.

Chapter Eighteen

Selena’s Choice

Selena

“Rarutos, what the heck are you doing? Get out there!”

I watched from Marisa’s arms as Rarutos gaped in shock at Sutanu, barely noticing Marisa’s urging. Everyone was waiting for something to happen, but Rarutos didn’t look like she was about to move.

“Raru!” Marisa hissed.

I closed my eyes and allowed energy to bubble up in my consciousness. A tiny jolt sped from my mind to Rarutos’s like a spark of electricity, causing her to jump in shock. She spun to face Marisa, who motioned urgently toward the battlefield.

Oh, crud,” Rarutos muttered, allowing her telekinesis to engulf her body to transport her instantly onto the battlefield. She faced Tyler’s Pokémon boldly without any sign of fear.

“Marisa has chosen Stunky and Kirlia,” Mark announced. “Let the battle begin!”

“Sutanu, Scratch attack! Go for the flying saucer thing!” Marisa ordered instantly. “Raru, try a Confusion on the cat!”

Both Pokémon obeyed instantly, Sutanu charging at the Metang with a fierce expression in his eyes. Rarutos simply lowered her head and focused, causing Luxio to hiss violently and stagger back from the force of the mental assault.

Metang merely closed its eyes as the skunk’s claws raked its metallic skin. As Sutanu leaped back, Metang’s blood-red eyes opened and, on a command from its trainer, it swung forward one arm in a rapid and powerful punch. Sutanu tumbled back with a squeal, his claws sending clouds of dirt into the air.

“Bullet Punch?” Marisa breathed in awe. “I’ve never seen that move before…”

My heart dropped like a rock. I don’t think Marisa can do this…

Tyler was already looking confident. “All right, Tonio, show that Kirlia your Bite attack!”

Luxio lunged forward with a vicious feline snarl, aiming directly for Rarutos, who vanished instantly. Tonio sailed straight through where she had been and she rematerialized behind him, her crimson horns glowing with energy.

“Magical Leaf!” Marisa ordered, and Rarutos raised her hands to fire a jet of emerald leaves. Tonio spun around to face her as the leaves collided with him, slicing deep into his flesh. A vicious snarl freed itself from his throat and he lunged, sparks dancing around his lithe body as he charged at Rarutos.

A blast of electricity surrounded the pair, blinding me and preventing me from seeing what was happening. Rarutos seemed to have frozen; in any case, she certainly wasn’t attacking. Suddenly she was tumbling away from Tonio.

“Raru!” Marisa squeaked fearfully.

Rarutos slid to a halt, electricity still coursing through her body and making her twitch and shake. Tonio’s breathing was ragged and he stumbled abruptly, dragging one foreleg as thought it was unwilling to obey him.

Marisa paused, confusion in her eyes. “Raru, are you all right?” she called hesitantly.

“Take Down!” Tyler ordered confidently. Sutanu squealed again as Metang’s heavy steel body slammed into him at full force, sending them both reeling away from each other. I glanced up at Marisa, sensing that something was wrong, but her eyes were still fixed on Rarutos.

Despite the lack of orders, Sutanu took action the moment his claws found a purchase on the ground. He charged at full speed toward his attacker, his jaws parting to exhale a thick fog of gas which trailed behind him as he ran.

“What on earth are you doing?” Marisa screeched, her attention finally drawn away from her fallen Kirlia. “Sutanu, I didn’t tell you to do anything!”

Completely ignoring her calls, Sutanu dodged a Bullet Punch and clamped his jaws closed on Metang’s elbow, abruptly cutting off his Poison Gas attack. His claws dug into the creature’s tough skin and in an instant he was on its back, his teeth sunk firmly into a gap in its metallic armour and his claws ripping furiously at it.

Metang crashed to the ground, eyes squeezed shut as it endured the furious assault. Marisa took a step forward, gripping me tightly with one arm and reaching for her pocket with the other.

“Leave it alone!” she yelled.

The battle seemed to have come to a halt; Marisa, Mark, Tyler and Tonio were all watching Sutanu’s wild rage. My eyes flew back to Rarutos, who was beginning to stir.

Marisa shifted me in her arms and raised one hand, her fist tightly gripping Sutanu’s spherical prison. Sutanu’s eyes flashed to his trainer and in an instant he twisted aside, forcing Metang in front of himself. The jet of red light glanced harmlessly off the Pokémon’s steely body.

Rarutos emitted a groan and I realized that she was on all fours, her arms and legs trembling in the effort to support her. Slowly she lifted her head and stared at Sutanu as he ripped mercilessly at Metang.

“Dark,” she growled through telepathy, her silent voice a warning in my mind. Marisa started; she had received the same message.

A wild scream ripped free from Sutanu as he thrust his claws repeatedly into Metang’s armoured body, uncaring of how little he could harm it with each strike. Now Marisa was beginning to panic.

“Sutanu, stop it!” she cried desperately. “Sutanu! Sutanu!”

As abruptly as the assault had begun, the fire in Sutanu’s eyes died. He dropped to the ground beside Metang, blinking in confusion. “Huh? What happened?

“Call him back quickly!” Mark urged.

Sutanu gazed at Marisa in surprise even as he faded into crimson light. His shapeless body was drawn quickly into the sphere in his trainer’s shaking fist. I watched as the ball clicked closed, then turned my stare to her pale, fear-stricken face.

“Resume the battle!” Mark yelled.

Marisa quickly sucked in her breath and withdrew a different Poké Ball from her pocket, squeezing it briefly in her fist. “All right, Ruka!” she cried, flinging it into the air.

Rarutos finally staggered to her feet as the dark jackal-like form materialized. The two glanced at each other and turned as one to face their opponents. Rarutos wore an expression of pure hatred, her eyes burning with passionate rage.

“Marisa has chosen Lucario,” Mark announced.

“Tonio, Spark! Metang, Bullet Punch!” Tyler bellowed.

Metang sped directly at Rarutos, but Tonio stumbled and fell as he tried to follow. Rarutos let out a yell as she threw herself to one side, narrowly avoiding Metang’s attack.

You’ll never take me down!” she cried, firing off burst after burst of leaves at its back. It spun through the air, straight toward us. At the last moment, Marisa threw herself to the ground and Metang flew over her head, colliding with a lamppost.

I clung helplessly to the human as she straightened up. Rarutos was trembling slightly as she stood facing Tonio, who looked in almost the same condition. Rarutos’s special ability, I realized. They’re both paralyzed.

Slipping Metang’s ball back into his pocket, my old trainer tossed a new one onto the battlefield. As the new glow faded into silvery fur and a feline shape, I shivered and curled up more tightly.

Oh look, toys,” the Pokémon purred, lifting one delicate forepaw and flexing it. Razor-sharp claws sprang from the toes as broad ears twitched forward.

Speak for yourself,” Rarutos snapped. “You’ll be Ruka’s chew toy before long!

“Tyler has chosen Glameow,” came the call.

All four Pokémon leaped forward simultaneously, Ruka aiming a powerful open-handed blow that Tonio barely avoided. Glameow’s claws swiped at Rarutos, but she threw herself to one side just in time, catching hold of the slender cat’s long tail.

Tonio’s body lit up with a blast of electricity as he tackled Ruka, temporarily hiding the battle from view behind a wall of lightning. When the light cleared, I immediately saw that Rarutos had attacked at the same time; both Glameow and Ruka were shaking off the sparks from electric attacks.

“Felicity, Faint Attack,” Tyler instructed calmly.

Glameow instantly braced her paws against the ground, wearing a distinctly evil smile. She sprang, her tail coiling behind her, and Rarutos ducked to avoid the attack. My eyes widened in shock as Glameow simply vanished, her tail whipping through the air for a moment before it too disappeared.

“It’s going to reappear soon,” Marisa called. “Both of you, watch out! Ruka, finish off Tonio with Aura Sphere, but don’t let down your guard!”

“Stop them in their tracks, Tonio! Discharge!”

Not more electricity,” Rarutos groaned as Tonio began to gather energy. Ruka had pulled back and was preparing to strike, but she was too late. With a wild cry, Tonio unleashed a blast of lightning that filled the entire battlefield. Marisa crouched low over me and I clung to her, eyes tightly closed.

When the lightning fizzled out, Rarutos was standing closer to us, looking like she’d tried to escape by teleporting. Her entire body trembled and she was panting heavily. The final blow came when Felicity burst out of nowhere; with a victorious yowl, the hateful cat drew back needle-filled paws and sliced into Rarutos.

The Kirlia swayed and collapsed in a heap. A soft cry escaped Marisa before she ran onto the battlefield, shifting me onto one hip so she could scoop up her friend with her other arm.

No more,” Rarutos slurred, then passed out.

I hadn’t even noticed that Ruka had managed to strike down Tonio, but by the time Marisa was back in place, Tyler was throwing his final ball. Another jet of light arced out, shaping itself into a hunched form. Powder-blue skin and toxic barbs replaced the light, and the creature lifted its head to bare sharp fangs at Ruka. Brutal-looking claws dug into the dirt.

“Tyler has chosen Nidorina.”

Marisa gritted her teeth. “Right,” she murmured, too softly for anyone but me to hear. “I hope Eruri can handle this fight.”

She knelt down and laid Rarutos on the ground. Moments later Eruri was standing beside his usual battling companion.

“Marisa has chosen Kirlia,” Mark said. “Resume the battle!”

The four Pokémon faced each other. On a command from their trainer, Felicity and Nidorina both launched themselves at Ruka. She crouched low, ready to endure their attacks.

“Um- um- do something!” Marisa cried, clearly unsure of what the unfamiliar Pokémon could do. “Uh, Iron Tail! And Magical Leaf!”

Eruri raised his hands, focusing. A jet of glittering leaves knocked Felicity off-target and she swung around, hissing and spitting ferociously. Nidorina darted at Ruka, claws bared, but Ruka spun around and her tail slammed into Nidorina’s side. The snarling creature dived for Ruka again and this time she met her head-on, striking with an open-handed attack to block the smaller Pokémon’s charge. I heard Ruka’s wrist crack and she gave a scream of agony, but Nidorina was already sinking sharp fangs into her arm.

Felicity advanced on Eruri, cruel glee in her eyes. “I want to play with you,” she crooned. “How about this? I’ll be the cat and you can be the mouse.

She sprang, but Eruri caught her in midair with telekinesis. The cat struggled, startled, but Eruri only lifted her higher.

Eruri smiled calmly. “Don’t you watch cartoons? The mouse always wins.

Then, with the tiniest flick of his wrist, he blasted her backward. Ruka ducked just in time for Felicity to slam into Nidorina, sending them both sprawling on the ground.

Ruka struggled to her feet, clutching her injured arm to her chest. Mark’s face was pale and he looked ready to leap onto the battlefield for his Lucario, but he stayed motionless. I prayed silently that her wrist was not broken; I would not wish that pain on anyone.

At least, not anyone still alive.

“Psychic!” Marisa called victoriously. “And Ruka, Detect!”

Eruri aimed a telekinetic strike at the opponents, but they had already recovered from the last attack and the force only knocked Felicity back a few feet. Nidorina was racing at Ruka again, but the Lucario deftly dodged each blow from the lethal claws.

“Flatter, Tina,” Tyler ordered. “Felicity, Attract.”

Nidorina sprang onto Ruka’s chest, knocking her down and staring into her eyes. Felicity calmly sat back on her haunches and raised her head, letting out one singing note. Eruri’s shoulders stiffened and he lifted his head, unable to help listening.

“Don’t listen, Eruri!” Marisa yelled. “Confusion! Ruka, Aura Sphere! Let’s finish this!”

Ruka staggered to her feet and blinked around, dazed. Eruri’s eyes were fixed on Felicity, who stretched her delicate body and purred. Ruka glanced between him and her opponents with a strange expression on her face.

“Aura Sphere!” Marisa commanded again.

Don’t listen to her,” Felicity purred, sparing Ruka a glance while still showing off to Eruri. “You’re with us, right? Help us take down that Kirlia.

“Eruri, help her!” Marisa begged. “Tell her to attack them!”

Eruri paid no attention, and Ruka was looking back and forth between the human and the Glameow with an increasingly confused expression. Tina crept around her and lunged at Eruri, but he managed to toss her back with an absent-minded Magical Leaf attack without taking his eyes off Felicity.

“Ruka, come on! Get them!”

Help us,” Felicity commanded.

“Ruka!”

The Lucario screwed her eyes closed and gave a roar of frustration, flinging both paws into the air. Twin surges of dark energy exploded from her palms, slamming into both Eruri and Felicity. Her partner slumped to the ground and Felicity skidded back with an enraged screech.

Marisa recalled Eruri, her expression fearful. “Ruka, please attack them!”

Ruka blinked, coming to her senses abruptly. Tina was already on her, kicking roughly, but Ruka swiped with her tail and tossed the Nidorina through the air. The poison pin Pokémon crashed to the ground before her trainer and, now looking murderous, Felicity shot toward her only remaining opponent.

Die!” she screamed, claws flashing in the sunlight. Ruka tried to dodge but she was out of breath, almost completely spent. She managed one last feeble Force Palm with her unhurt arm, then Felicity flung herself at the Lucario’s legs. Ruka crashed to the ground and fell still.

My heart plummeted. Marisa lost… and the battle is over, so now I have to choose…

Felicity stood panting, her eyes wild with bloodlust and hatred, but she calmed down as Tyler’s hand fell on her head. She gazed up at him and purred contentedly, showing none of the ferocity she had displayed less than a minute before.

Marisa watched the last of the light vanish into the orb in her fist, her expression distraught. “I’m sorry, Selena,” she said quietly. “I failed you. You won’t hurt me if you decide to go with Tyler. He can probably protect you better than I can.”

My fists tightened on her shirt. She’s lying. I know she’ll be upset if I leave. But Tyler has that Glameow, and I know she’ll find a way to hurt me if I stay with Marisa…

There was a soft groan from somewhere below me. I looked down to see Rarutos rubbing her head at Marisa’s feet, her eyes still closed.

“Did we win?” she murmured. “I know we did. Eruri wouldn’t have lost. He wouldn’t fail his sister like that.”

“We lost, Raru,” Marisa said bitterly.

Rarutos bolted upright. “What? We can’t have! What happened?”

“Tyler’s last Pokémon confused Ruka and she knocked out Eruri by accident,” Marisa sighed. “She couldn’t win by herself after that.”

Tyler had recalled Felicity and was coming toward us. Mark was already at Marisa’s side, looking anxious and twitchy but knowing he couldn’t ask for Ruka back without giving away that they had cheated. Marisa noticed his worry and handed him the orb. “Can you make sure Ruka’s wrist is okay?”

Looking grateful, Mark accepted it and carried it a short distance away.

“Time for Selena to come with me,” Tyler announced. “You’re such a weakling, there’s no way she’ll want to stay with you.”

Marisa bit her lip as she glanced down at me, then slowly she lowered me to the ground. “I’m sorry,” she whispered, then straightened up.

“Who do you want to come with?” she asked.

Rarutos was watching me intently as I frantically weighed my options. No matter which way I thought about it, there was always something bad to cancel out anything good. I sucked in a breath to steady myself, then let myself come to the only decision that made sense to me.

Before I could take a single step, something moved at the edge of my vision. I turned my head and noticed for the first time that a small group had gathered to watch the battle. They were starting to drift away, but my eyes abruptly locked onto the only one who was not leaving; the one who was standing riveted in shock, just as I was.

A triumphant grin spread over Tyler’s face as I started to run. I didn’t stop to see it turn into confusion, but ran straight past him, my mouth opening in a silent cry as I flung myself into the arms of the girl who had been watching me. She hugged me tightly and kissed my forehead, then whispered, “It’s been such a long time. I’ve missed you, Selena.”

I looked up as the others started to gather around. Emerald gave a nervous smile. “Um, sorry for interrupting your conversation. I guess Selena was really happy to see me.”

“Who are you and how do you know her name?” Tyler demanded.

Emerald offered one hand. “I’m sorry. My name’s Emerald Barren, and I’m her old trainer’s sister.”
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Old 07-18-2009, 05:25 PM
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Default Re: Visions Of Fate [PG-14]

HEY! i read this, and i enjoy it very much. ^_^
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Old 08-27-2009, 05:12 AM
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Gardevoir Girl Gardevoir Girl is offline
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Default Re: Visions Of Fate [PG-14]

Nina is dedicated to Rose, my beloved white cat who was lost to cancer three and a half years ago. Believe it or not, the character was originally intended to come into the story a year and a half ago. My brain planned faster than my hands could write.

Italics for Poké-speech, no italics for telepathy.

Chapter Nineteen

Night Of Shadows

Selena

“Wow,” Marisa said for the twentieth time. “I can’t believe you just arrived in the nick of time like that.”

We’ve heard,” Rarutos said wearily.

Emerald smiled and stroked my hair. I had refused to let go of her and was now sitting curled up in her lap, completely ignoring the others. Everyone was seated around a table in the same café we had eaten in that morning, although this time our table was more crowded.

“I guess I was lucky,” Emerald replied. I knew she could understand what Rarutos had said, but we both knew it was best to keep her skill secret.

“Some kind of luck,” Tyler muttered angrily. “She was going to choose me.”

“Heck no,” Marisa snapped, flaring up instantly. “She was turning toward me when she saw Emerald.”

“Actually,” Emerald began, then stopped. Everyone turned to face her and she blushed under their combined stares.

“I was just going to say… I know her really well, and I know what she really decided before she saw me. I could tell by the look in her eyes.”

“Me too,” Rarutos said smugly.

I tilted my head to see her and she shrugged self-consciously. “I’m just having them on,” she told me, making sure only I could hear. “I don’t have a clue what you were going to do, but I’m trying to make them think you picked Marisa. What did you really decide?”

I looked up at Emerald. She was smiling serenely, one arm curled around me and the other resting on the café table. She noticed me watching and resumed stroking my hair, then lifted it up to see my back.

“Her wounds have healed up well,” she observed. “You’ve been treating her gently. That’s good to know.”

I shook my head silently. Her expression became questioning and I pointed at Tyler, then mimed squeezing something.

Emerald’s expression darkened. “Tyler, was it? Do you hold her tightly when she’s scared?”

Tyler shrugged one shoulder. “I might. What’s it matter?”

Suddenly Emerald was on her feet, towering over the startled Tyler. “It matters because she’s been through far more than anyone should have to. It matters because she’s terrified of most males. It matters because by doing that to her, you’ve been bringing back the worst memories she has! That’s why it matters, you stupid, contemptible son of a-”

Her voice had risen almost to a scream, but she came to a halt as abruptly as if someone had slapped her. Quietly she resumed her seat, holding me close to her chest. “I don’t think you’re able to look after her properly,” she said, her voice calm again. “Maybe she’d be better off with someone else.”

She turned her gaze on me again. “How does Marisa treat you? And Mark?”

I glanced apprehensively at Mark and Emerald nodded. “She’s scared of Mark,” she stated. “And what about Marisa?”

A small smile creased my mouth and I mimed cradling something in my arms. Emerald’s expression cleared instantly and she looked approvingly at Marisa. “She likes the way you treat her gently. Maybe she should stay with you.”

Marisa looked proud. “See?” she shot at Tyler. “She was going to choose me!”

“Actually…”

Emerald and I looked at each other. I turned away, feeling guilty, and Emerald lifted her head again. “You’re both wrong,” she said. “She didn’t choose either of you. Either the decision was too hard, or she was too afraid of the consequences. She chose to run away.”

*~*~*

That evening I lay awake on the floor of our room, staring at a patch of moonlight. Only I had noticed as Tyler slipped away from the café, still shooting loaded glances at Marisa as he left. Everyone had been too busy fussing over Ruka to notice him. I had been as relieved as the others that her wrist wasn’t broken, but it hadn’t made me blind to everything else.

Rarutos was by my side, her breathing steady. The sound should have calmed me, but I felt too tense to sleep. Something was happening not far away; I could sense it, the turbulent emotions rolling over my body in waves, although I had no idea what was happening. My skin prickled uncomfortably and I rolled over, clutching the thin shirt Marisa had given me as a blanket.

Marisa, my new trainer. It’s a strange thought… maybe Tyler won’t come back for me. He should know that Emerald knows what’s best for me…

Rarutos gave a grunting snore and sat bolt upright abruptly, her eyes darting around the room. “Sultana!” she yelled.

I lay still, waiting for her to lie down and start snoring again, but apparently she wasn’t dreaming. Within a moment she was scrambling onto the bed, shaking the dark lump that was our trainer. “Marisa, wake up! Wake up, you great lummox!”

The lump stirred. “Huh? Raru?”

Rarutos flicked her hand at the light, which burst into life. I shielded my face, squinting until my eyes had adjusted to the brightness. On the bed, Marisa heaved herself into a slouched sitting position.

“What’re you doing?” she grunted.

Rarutos folded her arms, standing beside Marisa on the bed. “Did you hear what I told you during the battle today? About Sutanu?”

“Uh…”

I kicked the shirt off and clambered to my feet, stretching and blinking sleepily. Marisa scratched her head for a moment before Rarutos interrupted her thoughts.

“I saw him for the first time since I evolved,” she said meaningfully. “And just like Ruka said I would, I could see his aura. It’s dark and heavy and definitely not natural.”

The human blinked, not understanding.

“His aura!” Rarutos exploded angrily. “His life force! It’s like a cloud surrounding him! It’s thick and black like smoke! He’s seemed different since Mark brought him back from the marsh, and know I know something definitely happened while he was missing.”

“Like what?” Marisa was finally paying attention, her forehead creased in concern for her partner.

Rarutos shrugged. “Something bad. Maybe that scream we heard in the Pokémon Center…”

Shock and alarm dawned in Marisa’s eyes. I edged closer to the bed, unsure of what they were talking about. Rarutos’s eyes flickered to me and she knelt down, offering me one hand. The moment my fingers touched it, my head was flooded with images and sounds; a forbidden door, a shadowed staircase, a black-suited guard - and a terrible, inhuman scream of pain.

I flinched away, hands clasped over my mouth to hold back the scream that threatened to escape. Rarutos had already forgotten me, turning away to converse urgently with Marisa.

The girl bit her lip anxiously. “Raru, can you go and get Mark? Maybe he knows something.”

In a flash, my trainer and I were alone in the room. Marisa scrambled out of bed, wrapping the blanket around her shoulders against the cold. She crouched down and gathered me into her arms protectively.

Rarutos returned to the room on foot, Mark and his team trailing behind her. “What’s up?” Mark demanded the moment he was inside.

Marisa waited until the door was closed, then she picked up Sutanu’s Poké Ball from atop a nearby cabinet and squeezed it gently in her hand. “Rarutos just woke me up to say something about Sutanu,” she explained, “and we were wondering if you noticed anything odd about the Pastoria City Pokémon Center.”

Mark sank to the floor and ran one hand through his tousled hair. “Well, there were way too many photos and paintings of Croagunk all over the walls,” he mused, “and one plant by someone’s bedside looked like it had teeth. And there was that suspicious door…”

“That’s it!” Marisa cried, making everyone jump. “That door. Did you go in?”

“It said ‘no entry’,” Mark pointed out.

Marisa’s face fell. “So that’s a no.”

“I didn’t say no.”

Ruka coughed guiltily from behind him. The two glanced at each other and Mark continued, “Eruri kept watch while Ruka and I snuck in. There was a staircase behind every door we checked. I tried a few and found rooms full of cages at the end, a few with Pokémon inside. Eruri called us back out before we could see anything else. We almost got caught by the guard.”

“Raru and I went in as well,” Marisa said eagerly.

Rarutos shot her a glare. “She means I convinced her not to chicken out,” the Kirlia cut in. “We only checked one door before we got caught.”

“The sign said ‘chambers’,” Marisa added. “And when we opened the door, there was this awful scream from inside. It sounded like a torture chamber.”

Mark’s hand ruffled his hair almost of its own accord. “I’ve heard something,” he said slowly, “about Veilstone City, but I thought it was just a myth… What did Raru say about Sutanu?”

“His aura is heavy and black and he’s been acting way too cold and detached since you brought him back,” Rarutos informed Mark.

His brow furrowed. “This is not good.”

Everyone leaned forward as Mark began rumpling his hair more vigorously. He was starting to look like he had been electrocuted.

“All right,” he said eventually. “What I’ve heard is that Veilstone City likes to import-”

“Shadow Pokémon!” Marisa and Rarutos cried simultaneously. Both flushed when Mark glanced questioningly at them.

“We know that bit,” Marisa explained. “And we know about people in Sinnoh starting to make their own Shadow Pokémon by being really cruel to them. Do you think…”

Mark nodded grimly. “There’s a Shadow Pokémon factory beneath the Pastoria City Pokémon Center, and Sutanu fell into their clutches but somehow managed to escape before anyone tried to export him. The Great Marsh must’ve seemed like the safest place to him, so that’s where he ran to hide.”

His hand finally left his head, coming to rest on the floor by his leg. “I don’t want to believe it, but the evidence doesn’t look good. Raru can see his dark aura, he’s been acting unusually, and the way he lost control in that battle and only snapped out of it when you called his name…”

I shifted in Marisa’s arms. Ruka was almost asleep beside Mark, her head drooping toward his shoulder. Eruri was sitting alertly on Mark’s other side. Marisa was staring anxiously at the sphere in her hand as though her worry could cure her Stunky.

“How can I fix him?” she asked eventually.

Mark sighed. “To be honest, I’m not sure. No doubt the people who make the Shadow Pokémon know how to reverse it, but it’d be just plain stupid to walk up to them and ask how. But I guess if they treat Pokémon cruelly to turn them Shadow, maybe kind treatment will turn them back.”

Ruka’s head came to rest on his shoulder. He wound one arm around her and for a moment their bond was almost visible. It couldn’t have been stronger if they were blood relations; he clearly loved her like a daughter, despite their differences.

“I’d better get her back to bed,” he said to Marisa. “Maybe you should let Sutanu sleep on your bed tonight, okay? It might help.”

She nodded grimly and watched Mark half-carry his barely conscious Pokémon out of the room, Eruri sparing Rarutos a brief wave before he followed. Finally my trainer let out her breath in a sigh.

“I hope you two don’t mind sharing the room with a Dark type,” she said, pressing the white button on the ball. It ejected a flood of light which formed the now-familiar Stunky.

“You can sleep on the bed tonight,” Marisa told him, replacing me on the floor to lift him up. He blinked in confusion, then relaxed and curled up at the foot of the bed. I dragged the discarded shirt over myself again, trying to get comfortable on the hard floor.

“Emerald will know,” the girl muttered as Rarutos switched off the light. “I’ll ask her in the morning.”

*

Aurikara

“Wake up. It’s time.”

My eyes flew open at once. Everything was dark but I could detect pale hazes hovering around several patches of blackness, indicating that they were occupied. A heavier, darker aura hung in the air to my left.

A small paw closed around mine; although there was barely any light, I could still make out my brother’s sparkling fur. Two paws scooped us both up.

“Everyone remember what you have to do?” Emerald whispered from somewhere near the door.

Several voices replied in the affirmative. Although I had never heard Shadow speak, I sensed his thoughts joining with the voices.

Emerald nodded; I could barely see the movement. “All right. Keep really quiet.”

A thin sliver of light seeped in as she pushed the door ajar. “Lynn,” she whispered.

The Eevee swaggered to the gap in the doorway and sat back on her haunches, gathering a pulsing sphere of darkness in her mouth. She grunted as she fired it through the gap; almost instantly the light shattered, plunging us into darkness again.

“Quick!” Emerald pushed the door open and I felt Shadow move. Flying through the hallways without moving my legs should have been exhilarating, but doing it while completely blind filled me with more fear than I had ever experienced before. I clung to the Lucario’s arm and tried to pretend we were not moving.

We burst into the night air abruptly. My fear was forgotten as I stretched, sniffing for food. Several unfamiliar scents reached me but none of them smelt like food.

“Keep down and in the shadows,” Emerald hissed. Then we were moving again, our breath misting in the cold air, dodging the glow of streetlights and creeping through alleyways. Shadow moved while crouching low over my brother, concealing his pale fur. Eventually he had to stop and place me on the ground so we could cover the distance more easily.

I followed faithfully for a while, but as we turned down yet another alleyway, a bright glint caught my attention. My eyes swept the street until I spotted a silver coin lying a short distance away. A figure sprang down from a wall before I could move, pouncing on the coin with a gleeful purr.

I wanted that,” I complained, edging closer.

The creature raised her head and hissed. I ignored the warning and studied her closely. She was distinctly feline in appearance, her short fur a creamy white aside from her fawn-coloured hind paws and half of her tail. Set into her forehead was a gleaming gold coin.

As my eyes fell on the coin on her forehead, her back arched and she hissed again, more threateningly this time. I retreated a single step.

Why did you want that?” I asked, my attention now on the silver glint clutched in her forepaw.

Round and shiny,” the cat purred, tucking the coin safely into a tiny niche behind the one on her head. “Nina likes round and shiny.

She sat down and stared at me. Before long I was beginning to feel unsettled; she didn’t seem to ever blink. I shuffled another few steps back.

Did you say your name is Nina?” I queried nervously.

Beautiful Nina. Wonderful Nina. Pretty, pretty Nina.

Smiling eerily, she followed me on all fours as I crept away. “Nina is city guardian,” she trilled. “Nina is gatekeeper. Nina watches people come and watches people go.

Abruptly she stopped following and cocked her head, her smile fading. “Nina watched one boy come. Boy was surrounded by bigger people. Boy was taken somewhere by the big people. Boy never came out. Riolu is looking for boy.

I shivered; it was not a question. This cat was really scaring me now. “I have to go. My friends…

In a purr and a swish of air, Nina was gone. I spun around, realizing that Shadow had also disappeared while I was distracted. Suddenly I was completely alone.

Taking a deep breath, I began to run through the streets, trusting my memory of the last visit. Before long I found myself following a route that felt very familiar. I relaxed slightly, expecting to see the others at any moment.

Instead of the police station, yet another alley was waiting at the end of my path. Something was telling me I was in the right place, but the only things ahead of me were trash cans.

Trash cans…

Cautiously I stepped closer, wonder and curiosity guiding me. It could have been the darkness, or maybe my eyes playing tricks on me, but one of the cans seemed to have a small round hole through the side. I looked down; the ground was spattered with the occasional drop of long-dried blood. Most of it had been washed or worn away, but the parts that remained looked as though they had been made by wheels and large, clawed paws.

I turned away, shaken. This was the very place I had seen in a dream once; the place where three of my brothers and sisters had been murdered, where my mother had been shot.

My mother, Delilah. What would it be like to have a mother? I can’t imagine it, but it must be wonderful. But I guess Will looks after me like a mother probably would…

Remembering Will, I cast one last glance at the terrible alley and ran back the way I had come.

*~*~*

Navigating the endless streets was a lot harder than it seemed. I was completely lost when something white dropped from a window ledge, landing a few feet ahead of me.

Riolu is lost,” Nina mewed gleefully. “Riolu will follow Nina.

My name is Aura,” I said, jogging to keep up as the cat set off down the street.

Nina thinks Aura is a nice name. Nina was named by a human. Aura was named by boy, was Aura not?

Slightly confused by her speech, I hesitated a moment before answering. “Will named me, if that’s what you mean.

It is what Nina means.” She glanced over her shoulder, eyes glittering in pleasure. “Nina has led Aura to the place where boy was taken.

We were standing in front of the police station. I hadn’t even noticed that we were close. Bounding closer joyfully, I turned to thank Nina only to realize that she was already gone.

What a strange creature…

The door of the station was ajar, probably thanks to Bane’s work. Inside, the small group of my friends and family stood huddled in front of Will’s cell. Lynn greeted me in her usual fashion at the entrance to the hallway.

Where in the name of Arceus were you?” she snapped. “Hurry up, get with the others.

As I approached, I realized that Emerald was holding Miracle close to the heavy lock on Will’s cell door. Bane was bouncing near Emerald’s legs, looking slightly disgruntled.

Why aren’t you unlocking it?” I asked him.

The lock repels psychic power. It’s like there’s a Hypno inside, just waiting to attack.” He grunted unhappily and bounced higher.

Will was crouching on the floor of the cell. He stretched one hand toward me and I grasped it silently.

“Good work,” Emerald whispered. For the first time, I looked up to see what Miracle was doing. His paws were pressed against the lock and it was vibrating slightly as he concentrated.

Suddenly there was a crack and the lock exploded, making everyone flinch. Emerald shoved Miracle into Shadow’s arms and slid the door open. Immediately I sprang into my master’s arms, licking his face in delight and ignoring the repulsive taste of dirt and sweat. I buried my snout in his hair as he ran to the door, scooping up Lynn as he went.

I glanced back over him shoulder. Bane was bounding rapidly after us but Emerald had stayed behind, Miracle in her arms again. She was whispering to Shadow.

Will hesitated at the door. Without the sound of his footsteps I could make out some of what Emerald was saying.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered to Shadow. “I’m really sorry, but you have to. Please do it for your sons.”

Shadow’s face settled into a determined expression and he gave a brief nod. Emerald kissed his forehead before racing to where Will stood.

“Move,” she hissed. “Hurry! Get out and run!”

Will didn’t move. “What’s he doing?”

“For the love of Arceus-”

Shadow was on his knees outside Will’s former cell, taking deep breaths. He angled both paws at the ground, arms held stiff as though he was going to attack the ground. A tiny orb of black power flickered into life, causing the floor to shudder and sending waves of nausea through me.

“We have to get out!” Emerald breathed desperately. “He’ll be okay, he can protect himself from the blast.” She grabbed Will’s arm and thrust him outside, running with him.

“Blast?” Will repeated uneasily as Emerald pushed him along.

The ground shuddered more forcefully beneath us. I clung to Will, every hair on my body standing on end from sheer terror.

“He’s a Shadow Pokémon,” Emerald whispered breathlessly, her hair flying out behind her. “His aura is tainted, diseased. When a Shadow Pokémon uses Aura Sphere-”

The ground rippled and convulsed, sending all of us flying apart. With a horrific roar of ripping concrete, the whole world seemed to split open in an explosion of shattered bricks and black emotions.
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Old 10-05-2009, 12:49 PM
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Gardevoir Girl is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: Visions Of Fate [PG-14]

It's the one we've all been waiting for, the one that changes everything, the one I've looked forward to writing since I started to prologue. It took me a while to fine-tune it, and I nearly had to ask for a beta reader, but I was determined to finish it myself. So here it is, the slightly badly-written but hopefully still good chapter twenty. Dedicated, of course, to the real Selena.

Italics for Poke-speech, no italics for telepathy.

Chapter Twenty

The Abandoned House

Rarutos

I had barely slept all night. The explosion had come not long after our meeting ended, and even after everyone calmed down and returned to bed, my thoughts refused to stop whirling in circles around my head. The problem of Sutanu had bugged me at first, but during the explosion a wave of black thoughts and emotions had struck me. As far as I knew, it had happened to everyone; I was the only one, however, who had found something familiar amongst the thoughts.

Perched on the edge of Marisa’s bed, I dragged a comb through my wet hair while I pondered the strange poem. It had been so long since I last thought about it, but the explosion had somehow brought it back.

A hand fell on my shoulder. Selena had given up on drying her own hair and was gazing at me intently. I knew her well enough to know she was wondering what I was thinking about.

Last night I remembered a strange poem,” I explained. “I heard it first when I was a Ralts, while I was in the Veilstone City Pokémon Center. It was in a dream. Something strange about ash and shadows…

“What’s going on?” Marisa asked, back from whatever she had been doing out of the room. She kicked the door closed and made as if to leap onto the bed, stopping just in time when she noticed Sutanu asleep in the place she would have landed.

I repeated my words in telepathy as Marisa sank down on the floor. She nodded thoughtfully and I hesitated, wondering if I should recite the poem.

“What was it exactly?” Marisa asked, answering my silent question.

I sucked in a deep breath. “Through water, through ash,” I chanted, “shadow of a rash, inhabited by night and emptied of light.”

My trainer blinked, staring into the distance. “Sounds like a riddle to me,” she murmured. “What sort of dream was it in? You never actually told me.”

I struggled to remember. “I was surrounded by dark shapes, begging me to help them. I asked where they were… and that’s what they told me…” Suddenly my mouth was dry. I had always thought they had ignored me, but suddenly I realized they had given me the answer in riddle form.

Marisa seemed to be thinking along the same lines. “Maybe Mark can help us,” she suggested. “Come on, we’re meeting him for breakfast again.”

This time I was only too eager to toss aside my comb and follow.

*~*~*

“I’m leaving,” Mark announced once we were all sitting around a table.

Marisa’s mouth fell open. “What? But we need you!”

“You’re fine by yourselves.”

Marisa shook her head impatiently. “Not with battling. I mean we need your help to figure something out. See, Rarutos suddenly remembered a dream she had before we met you. It had a poem in it that sounds like a riddle.”

Mark shrugged. “I’m not that good at riddles, but I guess I can try. What was it?”

I repeated the poem and Mark stared into the distance, drumming his fingers on the table. “Say the first line again,” he said.

I repeated the line. Mark stared down at his hands, twisting the fingers as though turning the words around to see them properly. “Through water… maybe something sent over the sea, or brought from there. I have no idea about the other part.”

“What about ‘shadow of a rash’?”

Mark shook his head. I recited the rest of the riddle while he stared at the table, looking as though he was trying to burn a hole through it with his eyes.

“Could mean Shadow Pokémon,” he said finally. “Inhabited by night… plus the word ‘shadow’ in the second line. It seems like it’s hinting at Shadow Pokémon. ‘Light’ in the last line could be referring to love and hope, which Shadow Pokémon are emptied of.”

Marisa clasped her hands together excitedly. “Brilliant! But, wait…”

She turned confused eyes to me. “Didn’t you say you got that riddle when you asked where they were? But this is just saying what they were and maybe where they came from…”

I shrugged. “There might be more than just that part. I might’ve only heard a bit of it before I woke up.”

Marisa pursed her lips and returned to discussing the poem with Mark. Suddenly I felt restless. Sliding off my chair, I started to leave the café and found Eruri by my side.

Mind if I come?” he asked.

I shrugged and kept walking, too distracted to remember that I liked him. He kept pace by my side as I wandered down the street, trying to keep out of the humans’ way.

What’s on your mind?” Eruri asked.

That poem. There has to be something we’re missing. Can you figure it out?

He shook his head. “I’m not the riddle-solving type. Uplifting words and encouragement are more my thing.

I noticed a lump of brick lying on the sidewalk. “Was this from the explosion last night?” I wondered aloud, bending to pick it up. My fingers had barely touched it when a blinding light flashed before my eyes. I froze and suddenly the darkness rushed in, blinding me to the world.

*~*~*

A flood of images, in quick succession, raced before my eyes. A white Pokémon sprang from atop a wall. Smiling, a beautiful young woman bent down, reaching out to something just out of sight. Bound and gagged, an old man struggled on the floor. A young boy with haunted eyes fled from men on motorcycles. Shadows hid a hunched figure as it desperately rattled the bars of its cage. Only one thing was clear to me; all of these humans and Pokémon were connected to Shadow Pokémon.

*~*~*

Rarutos? Raru!” Two hands shook me desperately as I shuddered on the ground, my eyes wide but not seeing anything outside of my own mind.

*~*~*

“Through water, through ash…”

The room was plain and grey-tiled. A human stood with his face in shadow, a lethal black whip in his right hand. He raised it over his head before bringing it down, causing the hunched figure before him to scream in agony. Cries of desperation and terror filled the air as a nearby door swung open, carrying the stench of sweat and blood through the room. On the floor, a weakened Pokémon struggled against its shackles, straining toward freedom even as the last rays of hope were extinguished from its heart.

“Emptied of light…”


*~*~*

Eruri’s terrified face swam into view over me. I suddenly realized I was lying on my back on cold concrete, clutching the lump of brick to my chest. I blinked several times, clearing the stars from before my eyes as Eruri helped me to sit up. Suddenly my stomach lurched and I shoved him away just in time.

Emptied of breakfast too,” I gasped, wiping my mouth.

What happened?” he demanded.

I shook my head to get rid of the screams echoing in my head. “A vision. It’s been a while since that happened. I’m fine,” I insisted, pushing away his hands.

-It’s time-

What was that?” I said loudly. The voice had come out of nowhere; it was familiar, but there was no one around who could have spoken the words. It was as though they were an after-effect of the vision.

I glanced at Eruri, who looked alarmed. “There was a voice. I think it was in my head,” I explained.

Eruri was looking concerned. “Maybe we should get back to the others…

Distracted, I nodded. “Sure. The others. Let’s go.

We resumed walking, Eruri trying to support me despite the fact that I continued to push him away. It wasn’t long before I realized that neither of us had been paying attention when we left the café. I had no idea where we were.

-Keep moving-

I ignored the disembodied voice. “Do you know where the café is from here?” I asked Eruri apprehensively.

He shook his head. “There are too many people around for us to be able to sense the way,” he added as I prepared to try. “I think we’ll have to try and find our own way.

My hand closed subconsciously over his as we began to weave through the crowds. It was like walking through a forest of legs; a forest that was continually moving, threatening to trample us if we stopped or made a wrong step. There were more humans in this city than I had ever seen anywhere, even in Veilstone City.

-Run! Hurry!- the voice hissed.

I broke free of the masses and darted into a less crowded side street, dragging Eruri with me. Both of us were out of breath and I could feel his pulse pounding wildly through his wrist. A wave of fear seized me as I remembered his disability.

-They are near… she is near-

Let’s rest a bit,” I suggested anxiously.

Pale-faced and beginning to tremble, Eruri shook his head. “Let’s not. We’ve been away from the others for too long. They might leave the café to look for us, and then we’ll never find them.

Should I carry you?

He grinned weakly. “I’ll be all right.

We had barely begun to make our way through the street when a flash of movement caught my eye. A white form dropped down from somewhere above, landing barely ten feet from us. She was a distinctly feline Pokémon, her eyes wide and curious, a serene smile on her face. In a flash I recognized her from my latest vision.

Kirlia boy and girl are lost?” the kitten purred. “Nina will help. Follow Nina!

She turned and, tail in the air, strode away on all fours. I glanced at Eruri and we set off in pursuit.

Why are you helping us?” I asked the Meowth. Eruri was beginning to take shallow breaths and I wanted to keep my mind off his crisis. It wouldn’t help him if I started panicking.

Nina glanced over her shoulder at us, a gleeful glimmer in her eye. “Nina sees all,” she intoned. “Nina wants Kirlia boy and girl to find boy and Aura.

I stopped dead. “What?

Nina is gatekeeper. Nina knows all.

Beside me, Eruri sank to the ground, breathing in ragged gasps and shaking wildly. A slight frown creased Nina’s mouth and she pounced, landing on two legs before Eruri and placing her paws on his shoulders.

Kirlia boy will close his eyes,” she commanded. “Kirlia boy will listen to Nina. He will close his eyes and breathe deeply.

Eruri looked barely seconds from losing consciousness, but he obeyed. Nina bowed her head until the gold coin on her forehead was level with Eruri’s mouth. As he drew a deep, shaky breath, the coin began to glow.

My own mouth fell open in shock. Nina was beginning to purr softly, her eyes closed as the light from the glowing coin flowed down Eruri’s throat. His breathing steadily became easier and his shaking slowed. Finally he opened his eyes, completely healed.

How did you do that?” I gasped. Nina leaped away from Eruri, beginning to lead the way on all fours again. Perplexed, the older Kirlia and I began to follow.

Uh, we’re not looking for who you think,” Eruri said as we walked. “We’re after a boy and a girl with another Kirlia. Do you know where they are?

Nina knows not,” Nina sang, succeeding only in convincing us that she did know but didn’t want to take us there.

She came to an abrupt halt before an old, abandoned building. “Kirlia boy and girl will wait here but will not go inside. Nina will bring other Kirlia. Maybe girl will follow too.

You said you didn’t know where they were!” I cried, but Nina wasn’t listening. Her head was hidden in a half-dead bush near the building. She yanked a silken scarf from amongst the foliage and shook twigs off it, letting the sunlight catch the variety of beautiful colours woven into the garment.

She draped it over one forepaw, gazing at us briefly. “Do not go inside. All will be lost if Kirlia goes inside too soon.

Before I could say anything else, Nina had grabbed the scarf in her mouth again and was racing away with it fluttering behind her.

*

Selena

The human voices had long ago faded into the background. I lay slumped in Marisa’s lap, my head resting on her arm, half-asleep from boredom. The conversation seemed to be going in circles.

Suddenly Marisa’s words broke through the monotony. “Where’s Raru?”

“I think she left with Eruri,” Mark said.

Marisa clambered to her feet. “They should be back by now. Do you think something happened? What if Eruri has trouble breathing again?”

I was gazing intently at Mark, waiting for his reply. His mouth tightened to a thin line. “Maybe we should go after them.”

At that moment a distraction bounded into the café, ricocheted off a wall and sprang onto the table between Mark and Marisa. I barely registered the creature itself; my eyes were firmly fixed on the rainbow scarf in its mouth.

My scarf! It’s torn and dirty, but it’s definitely the one Emerald gave me! But I thought Tyler still had it…

I reached for the scarf and the Pokémon leaped out of my reach, backing away toward the door and still waving the silk temptingly. I dived off Marisa’s lap and began to chase it out of the café. Marisa’s yells barely registered in my mind; all of my focus was on the flash of colour ahead of me.

Humans and Pokémon sped past in a blur of movement and sound. Footsteps pounded behind me but I poured on the speed, my hands grasping at the dancing rainbow and barely missing it. My own breath rasped in my ears.

My feet left the ground and suddenly I was flying, clutched in Marisa’s arms and moving faster than I could have run alone. “We’ll catch it,” my trainer panted.

Suddenly I spotted two familiar shapes ahead, standing outside an abandoned building. The rainbow streak shot past them and I dimly heard it screech something through the scarf in its mouth. Together all of us crashed through the soft, rotting wood blocking part of the doorway, tripped over something a few feet inside and landed in a tangled heap.

I was the first to disengage myself, crawling across Marisa to grab the end of the scarf. The catlike Pokémon holding it immediately let go, its eyes opening slightly. “When the time comes, follow Nina,” it whispered. “Nina will take silent Kirlia to the human boy she loves.

My heart leaped. An image of Will flashed through my mind and Nina nodded, then pretended to be unconscious.

How will I know when the time comes?

Marisa groaned and struggled free of the heap. “Well, that was fun,” she commented, “aside from the ending.”

At that moment Mark jogged through the door, stopping just short of the fallen bookcase that had tripped everyone else. “Eruri! There you are!”

He scooped his dazed Kirlia out of the Pokémon pile. Rarutos struggled upright and stared around.

“What is this place?” she asked.

Marisa lifted me into her arms. “An old building no one wants?”

“Or maybe a desperate attempt at a last adventure together,” Mark suggested, glancing sharply at Rarutos, “staged by someone who doesn’t want me to take Eruri away from her.”

Rarutos blushed. “It wasn’t me! We were lost and suddenly this creepy Meowth leaped out of nowhere and led us here. She said she’d bring you all if we waited, so we did.”

“If you were lost, why didn’t you teleport back to us?”

Rarutos was silent for a moment, then her face reddened. “Oh. I guess we’re so used to walking that we forgot we could.”

Mark glanced at his watch. “Look, I have to get going soon. I promised my parents I’d be there to visit them by Thursday and it’ll take a few days to get back to Snowpoint.”

“What day is it now?” Marisa queried.

“Sunday.”

My trainer snapped her fingers. “That’s right! It’s too easy to lose track of time when you’re a trainer. Anyway, don’t worry, I can handle Rarutos. Just say hi to your parents for me!”

Mark eyed her suspiciously.

After a moment of silence, the cheery grin vanished from Marisa’s face. “I miss my parents,” she admitted. “When you mentioned yours, I suddenly remembered that.”

Mark nodded understandingly. “Just because you’re a trainer, it doesn’t mean you can’t still visit your parents. Maybe you should drop by while you’re travelling.”

“I will. Thank you, Mark.”

Marisa smiled again, determination in her eyes. “Maybe I’ll do that right now! Want to come with us?”

“I have to get moving. But maybe we’ll meet again sometime down the road. Maybe then we can have a battle.”

Mark winked at us and smiled kindly at me. From his arms, Eruri threw a meaningful glance in Rarutos’s direction, accompanied by a whisper of telepathy directed at both of us: “Meet me at midnight by the fountains.”

The younger Kirlia opened her mouth to respond, but Mark had already turned and was jogging away. Rarutos turned to stare up at Marisa, who was watching silently.

Psst, silent Kirlia. Follow Nina now.

The Meowth was sitting up now, her eyes bright and tail twitching. The moment our gazes met she bounded away, slipping through a hole in one of the walls. I launched myself out of Marisa’s arms, stumbling slightly on the landing, and followed.

“Selena! Where are you going?”

Behind the wall was a staircase of rotting wood, which speared my feet as I climbed. Heavy footsteps announced Marisa’s presence behind me. Wood crunched loudly and she yelped, but there was no time for me to stop and look back. Nina’s tail was vanishing through a doorway and I had to push my shaking legs to their limit to keep up.

The place was a maze of doorways and dusty furniture. Finally I lost sight of Nina. Gasping for breath, I stumbled up the last step of the second staircase and fell to my knees, letting the equally exhausted Marisa grab me again. I pointed one trembling hand at a nearby doorway and Marisa wearily responded, shifting me to her hip and approaching the half-open door.

She pushed it further open and immediately my eyes fell upon the Meowth, who was approaching a young Riolu near the doorway. Nina smiled eerily and the Riolu’s eyes widened.

Master! This is the Pokémon that helped me last night!” he cried excitedly.

Marisa moved further into the room and stopped dead. A collection of dusty chairs and sofas were scattered about and a door against the wall had fallen off, revealing a stock of canned food inside. One of the cans was lying nearby with tooth marks imprinted in it. The far wall was mostly taken up by a huge window, which was covered by a sheet clumsily nailed along the top.

The Riolu was not the only inhabitant of this dilapidated place. Asleep on a sofa was a fawn-furred creature which vaguely resembled a fox, or possibly a dog or cat, but which I had never seen before. A familiar bouncing pig snored in a corner. On the floor between two sofas crouched two more unusual creatures, playing with wooden blocks. One of these was a Riolu with unusual colouring, the other a Lucario with a powerful aura of cold-heartedness and one arm in a crudely-fashioned sling.

The two humans drew my attention the most. Both had been sitting on the unoccupied sofa and conversing quietly, but they had stopped as we approached. One was clearly Emerald, her beautiful dress torn and her hair full of dust. The other was someone I had not seen in weeks but who I had missed more every day. He was dressed in faded, baggy clothing that he had clearly found here, but his exposed arms and face were so filthy that he looked like he was made of mud. His hair was longer than ever, and also more matted and greasy. But his eyes were the same, the eyes that widened in shock when he saw me and filled with alarm when he noticed Marisa and Rarutos.

Will leaped to his feet, torn halfway between running to me and reaching for something to defend himself with. Marisa and Rarutos were still frozen to the spot, but I wrenched myself free of my trainer’s grasp. Emerald stood up to watch as I crossed the room and threw myself into Will’s arms, hugging him with all my strength, letting my tears spill over and dampen his new clothes.

Thank you, Nina. Thank you for bringing me back to him.
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