The Waning Spirit
If Ariana had known better, she would think Professor Augustine Sycamore was flirting with her niece.
Never mind, he totally was.
Inwardly face palming, she interrupted the professor trying to woo her niece into something.
“Long time no see,” she drawled.
Instantly recognizing her voice, Ash Ketchum shot up from her seat at a desk and faced her in surprise.
“Aunty Ariana?” she exclaimed.
Grinning slyly, she came over to her niece and slid into place next to her. Ash turned a bit to look at her questioningly.
“Augustine,” Ariana almost raised an eyebrow at Ash’s use of the Kalos’ professor’s first name. “This is my Aunt Ariana. Aunty, this is Professor Augustine Sycamore.”
Ariana held out a hand, examining the man that was obviously interested in her niece. She gave a sharp smile that the other returned more nervously as he shook her hand.
“Pleasure to meet you, Professor. I found out my niece was here and I have to talk to her about something urgently.”
“By all means!” he exclaimed with a polite grin. “Feel free to use this area. Ash, I’ll just step out then, alright? If you need me, I’ll probably be out in the back.”
Ash grinned widely back at him and gave a small wave, and soon enough it was just her and her niece in the room.
“So…he’s handsome,” Ariana commented.
“And not my type,” Ash answered wryly, knowing what Ariana was implying. “He is handsome though, and I’m completely flattered that he’s interested in me.”
Ariana frowned at her niece. “Can you like not be interested in older men? What about boys your age?”
“I’m not interested? Too immature? Boring?” Ash lazily smirked at her aunt. “I could go on, but you look ready to throw me out of a window.”
“I’m just saying,” Ariana grumbled. “I’m not particularly thrilled at your choice of men. Surge, Morty…and I even heard about Pryce!”
“That was one date,” Ash rebutted. “And it was more of a just a rock out at a concert. You’d never know, looking at him, but Pryce is a hardcore rocker.”
Ariana glared at her. “Oh? And what about Norman? Wasn’t he married?”
“Doesn’t count. He and his wife are swingers. And I was curious.”
Ariana threw up her hands in disgust, deciding she probably wouldn’t win this. “Fine! Whatever. Anyway, I need your help on something.”
Now looking entirely too smug, Ash found a chair and sat down, looking inquisitively at her aunt.
“Yeah? What’s up?”
Ariana took a deep breath. Actually, she hadn’t told her niece the truth about her being in Team Rocket, or the fact that the three idiots known as the JJM unit (and specifically as Jessie, James, and Meowth) were allowed to shadow her because Ariana wanted a close eye on her and to know what she was up to, as well as the fact that Giovanni admitted that he got a kick out of reading the reports and JJM’s repeated failures and Ash’s repeated, exasperated wins.
“There’s really some things I need to tell you…”
So Ariana confessed to her role in Team Rocket, as well as her high rank in the organization. Ash’s face flickered through several emotions, too fast for Ariana to keep track of, before settling on blank.
“Well, at least you’re really high-ranking. That’s actually kind of cool,” Ash admitted at last. “Please tell me you get to order around those three idiots.”
Of course Ariana knew just who she was talking about. “I do actually,” Ariana briefly looked mischievous.
Satisfied with that, Ash nodded in acceptance and Ariana was both completely surprised and pleased at that.
“Can I ask what that has to do with you needing my help?” Ash brought the problem back at hand.
“Giovanni recently got married,” Ariana revealed, remembered the text Archer sent her. “He’s got a pretty wife I want to help out with something.”
Ash looked surprised at that. “He did? Well…he is a handsome bastard, and pretty rich and charming,” she grudgingly admitted. “I can say I kind of have a little crush on him, despite being an evil jerk. Who’s the lucky lady?”
Ariana, ignoring her niece’s comment about Giovanni and that little confession, took out her phone and looked up Harry’s picture, showing it to her niece afterwards. Her niece’s eyes widened.
“Oh wow. She’s really pretty.”
Ariana nodded in agreement. “Her name’s Henrietta Potter –well, Henrietta Rocketto now. She also prefers to be called Harry.” She put away her phone. “She had a godfather that she was really close to, but something happened and he disappeared through some sort of portal. I’m assuming he’d gone to some dimension or other, and I need you to help me find Cyrus, who might know more about this, and especially and hopefully more on Dialga and Palkia, which might be able to help me.”
Ash blinked at her. “But why me?”
She gave her niece a look. “You’re like a Team magnet. You attract us like bees to honey, and you always somehow manage to meet each boss of every Team one way or another. You’d somehow magically draw Cyrus without doing much of anything, I bet.”
Ash sheepishly rubbed the back of her head, grinning slightly at her aunt. “Yeah, I guess that does happen…Alright, I guess I’ll help you go looking for that guy. There’s no guarantees or anything, but we might as well get started and look for him. We should try around the places where we know were the main Galactic bases.”
“Where to first then?” Ariana asked her.
Ash thought about it, frowning to herself as she crossed her arms.
“…Eterna City. Let’s head there and try looking around.”
Ariana smiled. She knew Ash would come through for her.
Ash, after having called Serena to let her know she wouldn’t be in Kalos for a bit and having visited Clemont and Bonnie to let them know the same (Ariana’s “What is with you and gym leaders?” had her grinning), went to go find the Kalos professor who had let her stay in his abode kindly. Though she could tell her aunt was getting impatient, she did like and care for Augustine very much and it was only polite to let him know where she was going. Plus, her aunt had interrupted them talking and working on something important.
But, as soon as she was done, she let her aunt drag her and her Pikachu out of there and to the nearest Rocket base, conveniently located in the same city. She wasn’t all that surprised to find out that the Rockets seemed to be everywhere; it figures that they would have some sort of placement in every region.
After pestering her aunt for a Rocket shake (and getting a promise to get one in the Sinnoh base they were heading to), Ash was then wowed by their transporters and what they were capable of doing.
“This is pretty cool,” Ash admitted after Ariana explained to her what they were and how they worked. “Well, here’s to rapid transportation.”
She did as Ariana had instructed her, and the rush of sensation was thankfully quick. Holding tightly onto Pikachu, she took in her new surroundings after opening her eyes, seeing a similar but slightly different setup to where she’d just left. The transporter next to her was activated and soon enough, her aunt appeared beside her.
“Alright, ready?” Ariana asked her. “We’ll get you your shake, and then you can walk around the city while I have to report in and find out what’s been happening while I was gone. Then we can go searching for Cyrus together, okay?”
“Sure,” Ash agreed, and was soon enough enjoying a Rocket shake while she walked around the streets of Eterna City, with Pikachu having his own. She was surprised he hadn’t swiped the ketchup bottle…
Maybe she should got vis..it…Garde…nia…
Her thoughts jumbled up as she found blue hair, light blue and the shade of skies, walking around a corner. She ran towards it and hid around the corner, peering to see the person. Just as she thought, Cyrus –strangely in something outside of his usual suits and Galactic uniform –was apathetically appraising the Eterna Historical Museum.
Damn. That was quick. She really did have some sort of magnet attached to her, attracting these people…
Cautiously, she followed the man, who walked a long way until they were outside the city and towards a more secluded area that had trees all over. To her surprise, the old Galactic building was intact, if seeming abandoned.
As far as she knew, the old Galactic Team had been disbanded until it had been reformed and changed into a legal, non-profit organization under Saturn’s direction, and based in Veilstone City. So why was Cyrus here?
Actually…after that whole debacle with the Sinnoh Legendaries and Galactic (and consequently Cyrus) failing to make a new world, Cyrus himself had disappeared afterwards. There hadn’t been any sightings of him.
Until now, and of course it had to be Ash who’d found him.
She followed him up until he entered the base, debating quickly with herself. Her aunt would probably disapprove, but honestly –Ash did this all the time. And apparently everyone else knew that too, otherwise her aunt wouldn’t have come to her for help with this. Glancing at Pikachu, she could see he already exasperatedly knew what she was going to do.
Heading in, she only glimpsed Cyrus turning a corner and followed him quickly, making sure that her footsteps were heard. Might as well alert him to her presence and get a quick confrontation on. When she caught up, Cyrus was scowling and waiting for her at a dead end, allowing her to corner him.
“So this is where you’ve been hiding,” Ash noted blandly.
“What do you want?” Cyrus narrowed his eyes at her.
She scoffed. “Believe me, I wish you wouldn’t be needed, but I need your help in tracking down Palkia and Dialga for something important. Being who you are and what you know about them, I figure it would be best to get you to help.”
“It’s all meaningless,” he said bitterly. “Why should I help you? Why should I care? This world is pathetic and useless. You and everyone else are but ants. In the end, our existence is meaningless.”
Ash blinked and just stared. What the hell? Was he really serious?
She began to laugh hysterically, prompting Cyrus to glare at her. She then stopped abruptly before glaring back and looking at him in disgust.
“Arceus, you’re so pathetic,” she uncharacteristically degraded the other, making him inwardly surprised (even if he didn’t show it). “You’re even worse than before! Forget it. Who needs you? I certainly don’t really need your help. Never mind, you’re not needed at all! So do the world a favor and continue to be a hermit and lock yourself up in here, hopefully starve yourself to death and leave this ‘pathetic world’ behind. You can help make it less pathetic that way. If you’d died, no one would care or miss you, so you might as well.”
She turned on her heel and stormed away, missing him flinching and watching her with eyebrows furrowed and slightly despaired eyes.
Ash bounced a ball against the wall, glaring at it. Pikachu was currently napping by her side, snuggling up to her waist. With her legs crossed as she sat on the bed, Ash caught the ball one last time and sighed deeply. She looked down at her lap thoughtfully.
After that confrontation with Cyrus, she’d returned back to her aunt, only to find her aunt looking concerned about something. She didn’t mention anything about Cyrus, only going to the Pokémon Center when she was directed to, and grabbed a room for herself. It would slightly be weird (not to mention probably too daring) for her to stay at the Rocket base, considering that by then she was a known Rocket enemy.
Now she was brooding in her room.
She had been rather mean. She wasn’t usually like that, but she had been fed up with Cyrus’ attitude. He was like this last time too, only he’d become worse overtime, it seemed. So she couldn’t stand it and had cruelly blurted that out. And even if some of that was true, she didn’t have to say it at all.
Knocking on her door interrupted her thoughts, and Pikachu stirred a little. Caressing his head, he went back to sleep and she got up to get the door, only to look at the man behind it in surprise.
She hadn’t expected Cyrus to come after her.
Alarmed, she grabbed and pulled him into her room, looking back out quickly and hoping no one had seen him.
“What were you thinking?” she asked in consternation once she’d closed the door. “Anyone could have recognized you or something!”
“What did you want me for?” he demanded instead.
Irritated, she stomped over to her bed and sat down, careful not to wake her slumbering Pikachu.
“My aunt –turns out she’s one of the Executives from Team Rocket,” that caused his eyebrows to raise slightly, “and she sort of needs to get into contact with Palkia and Dialga. A, uh, friend of hers recently revealed she had a relative enter a portal and wasn’t seen again, and my aunt thinks he might have gone to another dimension or so. She wants to check and see if he has, and rescue him if possible,” Ash summarized.
She watched as Cyrus stayed quiet, looking like he was thinking it over. And then, to her utter surprise, he nodded. Trying not to sound hopeful (or be hopeful for that matter), Ash asked him again, to be sure of his answer.
“You’ll really help?” she cautiously asked.
“Yes,” he said simply.
Well, she wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth.
Though caught off guard at Cyrus’ appearance and how quickly Ash had found him, Ariana was definitely very pleased about it. She had the three of them gather together and quickly get to work on thinking up ideas and hopefully forming a plan.
“We could try to retrieve the Adamant and Lustrous Orbs,” Cyrus monotonously suggested. “My plan nearly worked last time, if it weren’t for some interference.”
He glanced at Ash, who clearly ignored him.
“If I remember, you needed the three Lake Guardians to form the Red Chain to control them though,” Ariana hmmed in thought. “And all that took time. Time we don’t have.”
“So what were you planning to do when you found them though?” Ash deadpanned. “It’s not like they’d stay still for you or want to listen.”
“Oh, that’s where you come in again,” Ariana said cheerfully. “Since you’re such a Legendary magnet too, and you’d probably get them to stay long enough to listen to you.”
Ash fidgeted somewhat, while Cyrus gave her a suspicious look that her niece also ignored. Ariana probably looked rather smug in comparison though. But then her niece looked thoughtful, causing her to watch her closely.
“We could…we could head to Michina Town,” Ash hesitantly suggested in a halting voice.
“Michina Town? Why there?” It seemed Ariana hadn’t been the only one who had caught Ash’s reactions.
“There’s ruins there that might help us find things out,” she mumbled, but the other two managed to hear her.
“Fine,” Ariana agreed, since there wasn’t anything else they had to go on. “In the meantime, if we see any of the Lake Guardians, catch them. Even if we can’t form a Red Chain, we can still try to get their help somehow.”
Ariana glanced at her niece one more time though, wondering what she was hiding.
Ash looked out of the window of the train compartment they were in, watching as the scenery passed her by. Remembering Michina Town, she remembered the events that happened there, as well as thinking of how long it had been since she’d been in that town.
She then glanced to the man sitting opposite her, also staring out the window. Since agreeing to help, Cyrus had strangely practically stuck to her side, staying with her and following her at all times. Hell, she’d had to deal with him following her to the bathroom, and creepily staying outside and waiting for her. She wasn’t even sure if he would have stayed there and not have followed her in, if she hadn’t insisted on it.
But decked unusually in blue jeans and a black turtleneck, he looked like a normal person. Even if she had to get used to his casual wear, and his strange behavior, she couldn’t help noting how handsome he looked.
And there went her common sense, and she just wanted to hit herself. She was not going there again.
She hadn’t thought like that since the last time she’d been in Sinnoh and had just met the guy, and before she knew he was the boss of Team Galactic (okay, that was a lie –she still thought he’d been handsome then).
“But you have the personality of a fish,” Ash grumbled under her breath.
“You say something, Ash?” Ariana asked in amusement, and Ash flushed red in embarrassment, glaring at her aunt in annoyance.
She also ignored Cyrus’ stare boring into her. “No, it’s nothing, Aunty,” she said dryly.
“Why are we really going to Michina Town?” Cyrus suddenly asked.
Ash flinched. She reluctantly began telling the other two about what happened there and how she met Arceus, earning herself two wide-eyed looks from the other two. At least she’d managed to get some type of reaction from the normally stoic Cyrus.
“I didn’t hear about this,” Ariana frowned. “Usually, minus the time in Unova, the JJM unit keep a track on you and follow you around, allowing me to find out what you’ve been doing.” Okay, that Ash hadn’t known but should’ve figured, once she’d learned her aunt was Team Rocket. “Their reports about the Dialga and Palkia incident was vague enough, and then there was this whole ‘shadow pokémon’ they mentioned but never elaborated much on either.”
Wincing, Ash then started from the beginning, starting with the whole thing with Dialga, Palkia and Darkrai in Alamos Town, and ending with how it all came to be with meeting with Arceus. Incredulous looks were thrown her way.
“I don’t think I like the idea of letting you travel around anymore,” Ariana frowned. “You get into too many things.”
“Oh, come on! I mean, all that was kind of bad…but it’s really nothing compared to the whole Mewtwo versus Mew fight from a long time ago,” Ash shrugged. “I mean, I was like dead for a minute or so.”
“Dead?!” her aunt straightened up, and Ash wanted to face palm at herself.
“Oh…that was off the books, wasn’t it? I forgot you wouldn’t probably have a report on that,” Ash said weakly.
“You tell me exactly what happened right then! In fact, I want to know every single time you met a Legendary, and you better tell me everything! Apparently, I need to know a lot more than what Jessie, James, and Meowth have been telling us!”
Ash wondered if it was too late to find an escape. Looking at Cyrus for any type of support, all she got was a curious, burning stare that said he wanted to hear too. Ugh.
So she started from the beginning with Ho-Oh, and just barely ended with Team Flare and the whole Primal Groudon and Kyogre (and Mega Rayquaza) stuff that had just happened.
“I’m definitely going to rethink you continuing your journey,” Ariana glared at her after she was done.
Ash coughed nervously, only glad to notice the train slowing and stopping.
“You know, let’s talk about that later, okay? Bye,” Ash said rapidly, hand shooting out to grab Cyrus’ and then running out of the compartment and off the train. By the time her aunt would have caught up, Ash hoped she would have calmed down (and hopefully forgot about keeping Ash from traveling). Ariana did seem somewhat cooled when she reached them, but Ash only just realized she was still holding Cyrus’ hand. When she went to let go, she hadn’t been prepared for Cyrus to grip her hand and keep holding it.
Ariana caught that. “You know, Cyrus, you should have just used my niece to lure in the Lake Guardians. Better yet, you should have just used her to get Dialga and Palkia, because apparently she really does attract all Legendaries.”
Ash gave her aunt a dirty look, before huffing and beginning to walk away, heading to where the Michina Ruins were. She ignored how Cyrus was still holding onto her.
Closer to the ruins, she turned to them.
“There’s a couple who live here,” she revealed. “They basically guard the ruins. The one related to Damos is Sheena, and her husband is Kevin. I’ll see if they wouldn’t mind housing us a little bit, until nighttime when we can try to contact Arceus.”
“Why that late? Can’t we try it now?” Ariana was confused.
“I doubt he’d want to come in broad daylight,” Ash shrugged. “So we wait.”
With that agreed on, Ash led them to the building Sheena and Kevin lived in, and where the two had told her about the legend of Arceus and Damos. There, she introduced her aunt and Cyrus to the couple, and in return introduced the two with her to the couple.
“It’s great seeing you again,” Sheena said warmly. “It’s been a while, hasn’t it?”
“Oh yeah, it really has,” Ash agreed. “Thanks for this.”
“It’s no problem, especially with how high Arceus regards you. And you are a friend! You are definitely always welcomed here,” Kevin said as well.
Trying not to blush, Ash led the other two with her and they were sat at a table.
“Some tea?” Sheena asked considerately.
“Sure,” Ariana smiled, though she was looking around and observing everything she could.
“Tea would be nice,” Cyrus said quietly, and Ash glanced at him inscrutably.
Once they had tea, the couple left the trio alone while they had to go out and help in the town.
“This isn’t awkward at all,” Ash said sarcastically. She then drank her tea in a few large gulps. “Excuse me while I go look around the familiar premise.”
She stood up and left them, heading to where she remembered seeing the moving pictures and walls that had depicted the legend of Arceus in that town. She watched it only for a few seconds, before she noted she had a companion, turning and finding Cyrus nearby and looking around as well.
“I had no idea of this place,” he murmured.
“Yeah, kind of a hidden niche,” Ash attempted to be civil.
“It’s…beautiful,” he surprisingly said, something Ash wouldn’t have thought to come out of him.
Maybe Cyrus wasn’t that bad.
“Do you know what you’re doing?”
“Yes. No. Ugh, just leave me alone,” Ash was ready to pull out her hair. “Let me just try to figure this out.”
“And how are you going to get Arceus’ attention, much less get him to come here?” Ariana asked skeptically.
“I don’t know! Maybe something like this –HEY ARCEUS, I KIND OF NEED YOUR HELP! IT’S ME, ASH!” she first yelled up at the sky and threw her hands out to the sides. She then glared at her aunt, who rolled her eyes.
“I don’t think that’ll help,” Ariana said sarcastically.
“Maybe it did,” Cyrus interrupted, and they looked at him to see him looking up.
They looked up as well, seeing Arceus coming towards them from the sky.
“I…didn’t think that would actually work,” Ash said faintly.
“Ash Ketchum, you have called for me,” Arceus’ voice was clear as he towered over them.
Ash stepped towards him, only glancing back to see her aunt waiting in the back apprehensively and Cyrus staring in awe, breaking his usual apathetic façade.
“I need your help,” Ash turned back to Arceus. “There might be a person trapped in another dimension, but I don’t know for sure. And I would hope to bring him back, if he is there.”
Ariana finally stepped forward. “His name is Sirius Black. He had dark hair, and blue eyes. Rather tall…”
Arceus shifted his gaze over to her, and Ash could see her aunt shiver and look like she wanted to move away.
“I see,” he said, and she had a feeling that he really did (and might have skimmed her aunt’s mind somehow). “I know of whom you speak of.”
That had Ash and Ariana excited, and looking towards the pokémon eagerly.
“He resides in the Hall of Origin, my domain,” Arceus revealed, and Ash didn’t know whether to be happy or morose about the news. “If you wish, I can take you there and help you retrieve him back to here.”
Ash perked up. “Really?”
Arceus inclined his head. “Yes. I shall personally bring you to him and help you. It is the least I can do for you.”
Ecstatic, Ash threw her arms around the great pokémon and didn’t see the bewildered and awed looks from the other two.