The Path of the Aura: Intertwining Crossroads

Chapter XI (11): Connecting to What Was Lost

Location: Celadon Forest (Core)

Date: October 17th, 2011

Time: 3:03 PM

Sceptile unsheathed the massive buster sword on its back and charged directly at Lucario, moving surprisingly quickly for one wielding such a heavy weapon.

Lucario saw this coming, but was in too much shock to decide to retaliate against this. Instead, he only chose to evade.

Sceptile closed their distance in only a few seconds, beginning to slash relentless at the Aura Pokémon, swinging the buster sword in one hand with relative ease, despite its weight and the fact that it is a two-handed weapon.

Lucario evades each and every mighty sword swing, never using Aura Vision for this. He steps back as Sceptile moves forward, the buster sword striking and rending tree trunks in two in the crossfire.

On a relatively thick tree, Sceptile's weapon lodges into it. Lucario steps back far enough to be out of the buster sword's range, and the Forest Pokémon attempted to remove the sword from the tree.

Lucario, recovering from his shock earlier, deliberately chooses not to fight his "friend" while it's vulnerable and dislodging its buster sword from the tree. Instead, he attempts to get some necessary answers out of it.

"You don't seem like yourself!" Lucario mentioned what was on his mind. "Are you acting out on something?"

Sceptile, once it dislodged its sword, had this to say.

"I've lost someone important in my life, and I can't get it back."

Lucario strongly believes that Sceptile is referring to that specific day, when it was captured by Team Rocket in this very forest. He thinks of Tiny, and grew somewhat worried when Sceptile was oddly specific and mentioned "someone" rather than "some things".

Both Pokémon remain in a standstill, Sceptile still holding onto its massive weapon, letting its tip rest on the ground so that it wasn't weighing it down unnecessarily. The Forest Pokémon begins to ponder about what occurred during that day, over a year ago.

"Those humans, with the sanguine "R"s on their uniforms… They destroyed my tree house, while Tiny and I were inside." Sceptile began to recall, speaking in a monotone. "The Koffing and Weezing clumped around us both. One Weezing in particular enveloped my right arm."

Lucario looked at Sceptile's right arm—or lack thereof, to be more precise—and figured that the explosion mutilated its arm. It didn't say anything further about that matter and listened attentively as Sceptile continued.

"You were there when the explosion occurred. I assumed you died trying to rescue us both."

Lucario seemed almost alarmed to hear it say that. "(You thought I died?)" He thought solemnly.

"The explosion knocked us both back violently. I lost my right arm in the shockwave and endured significant burns across my body. However, Tiny sustained worse…much worse, but I didn't know it yet. The two of us escaped underground to avoid further danger."

Lucario pondered heavily at what Sceptile had just said. It now realized that before his capture, that was Sceptile he heard beneath the earth, adjacent to Giovanni's Steelix that resided down there as well. He disregards how they managed to avoid the Iron Snake Pokémon—be it out of dexterous evasion and placement underground or simply dumb luck.

However, he still had this one critical question to ask, one that was on his mind:

"What…happened to Tiny?" He said soberly, almost hesitantly.

"…" Sceptile appeared melancholy and looked down at the ground, thinking about what happened next and recalling it vividly.

17.1: A Blue Flame Dies Young

Location: Celadon Forest (Base Level)

Directly after the events that occurred in the forest—the capture of Lucario and Wanderer under the criminal organization Team Rocket—, Sceptile's left hand emerges to the afternoon surface of the earth. With that one arm, it shuffles away enough dirt before hoisting itself out of the hole it created, with Tiny feebly gripping and clinging onto its back.

Sceptile placed itself adjacent to the corner of the hole in the dirt from where it emerged from. It scraped dirt that clung onto its burns, flinching somewhat when it had to touch them, greatly resisting the urge to cry in pain when touching its own raw flesh.

As it did so to whatever parts of its body had dirt clinging onto it, Sceptile pondered over what happened to Lucario during the explosion.

(Sceptile's Flashback)

Sceptile opened its eyes for a brief moment, noticing Lucario running towards it. Its eyes widened quickly, yet Tiny's eyes remained clamped shut, its being fully cringed for fear of death.

"…Lucario…?" Sceptile said at the sight of the Aura Pokémon, here of all places.



Just as he was within ten feet of saving his friends, the Koffing and Weezing immediately detonated, exploding with an immense shockwave since they were all concentrated so closely together. What could be seen by everyone is a spherical red fireball that gave a massive knockback to whatever was within fifteen feet of it.

No one even noticed Sceptile and Tiny flying away from the location, completely engulfed in fire.

(End of Sceptile's Flashback)

"(Could you have survived the explosion, Lucario?)" Sceptile pondered to itself. "(I suppose I won't know until I find—)"


Tiny fell onto the floor nearby Sceptile's feet, unconscious and breathing shallowly. Only then did Sceptile come into full light of Tiny's current state of being, and show grave despondency over its blue furry friend.

To put it simply, Tiny had unwillingly one-upped on Sceptile's burn and mutilation injuries. It sustained much more severe burns—burns which left multiple bald, roasted spots on its fur—, and instead of simply losing its right arm in the explosion, it also lost its right leg and the tip of its tail.

Because Tiny used PROTECT earlier to bulwark it and Sceptile from the projectile conflagrations of multiple Fire-Type Pokémon, Tiny was already made physically feeble to begin with. The explosion just added insult to injury, as well as injury.

Sceptile, with its remaining left hand, gently picked Tiny up, being very careful—as well as having considerable difficulty—not to touch any area of its body that was burned by the spontaneous inferno. Being equally as careful, it had the critically marred Emanation Pokémon rest on the top of its arm, superseding Tiny's condition over its own.

"Tiny…are you alright?"

Tiny's eyes were simply closed, its face cadaverous and its entire body dripping of blood, a worrying sign indeed for the Forest Pokémon, because it could feel the blood running down its left arm. It felt, much to its growing apprehension, colder than usual.

With more concern, Sceptile worryingly shakes Tiny's body, hoping for an answer, and temporarily absent of Tiny's physical state of being. "Answer me, please!"

Tiny's eyes opened, albeit with a despondent, hollow look in its countenance. "I can't tell you…how much pain…I'm in right now." Tiny spoke softly, straining itself just to speak.

Sceptile instinctively reached for a seed-like nodule that grew on its back, utilizing PSYCHIC instead of its remaining left arm—because Tiny was occupied by its arm. Its eyes temporarily flashed blue and it had one of its seed-like nodules plucked from its back and hovered before its eyes.

Much to Sceptile's disappointment, the explosion that Sceptile endured also targeted the seed-like nodules, leaving them burned to a crisp, rendering them useless. The Forest Pokémon simply threw this piece of itself away, where it crumbled into ash upon hitting the dirt.

As a substitute—a poor one to say the least—, Sceptile asks of Tiny's current condition.

"How are you holding up, Tiny?"

"…Had better days…" Tiny mumbled, hardly able to smile from the burns inflicted onto its face, before noticing what remained of Sceptile's left arm. "…You…?"

Tiny's response almost brought tears to its eyes. "I've had worse," Sceptile lied, concealing its growing emotional pain to the best of its ability.

"…Okay…" Tiny said incoherently, hardly caring if Sceptile lied or not.

"(*Sniff*)" Sceptile's eyes began to water, knowing well enough that Tiny's condition was already causing the Emanation Pokémon to falter physically.

"…Where's…Lucario…?" Tiny wondered, feebly rolling its eyes around itself.

"I'm not sure," Sceptile speculated. "It was in the explosion when trying to save us both. I honestly don't know if Lucario survived."


Sceptile honestly had no idea of Wanderer's current situation, so it had this to say.

"Wanderer might've been targeted by those people that attacked us." Sceptile never knew that it was beginning to cry. It was too focused on Tiny's wellbeing, which in turn was causing an emotional overflow within itself.

Tiny didn't seem to show any obvious interest in either Lucario's or Wanderer's current condition. It didn't seem concerned if they were alive or not. All that it knew was that its time here was numbered.

Tiny looked at the sky, for as long as its vision allowed it to, forming a small smile in the process.

Sceptile worried for its life, believing that Tiny will die momentarily. It seemed—quite literally—painfully obvious that Tiny's injuries were too great for it to cope with.

"…My fallen friends…I can see them…reaching out to me…" Tiny mumbled while reaching for the sky with its right paw, waiting for them to hoist it up.

Sceptile, out of confusion, looked at the blue sky above it, noticing nothing of relevance. The only thing that looking at the sky did for the Forest Pokémon was help it realize that Tiny was blood-starved to the point of hallucination.

"I'm coming…guys…" Tiny said before its right arm went limp.

Sceptile looks back at Tiny, seeing how its eyes are closed and its right arm is lifeless. Sceptile attempts to get its attention once more by shaking it mildly, only to realize that Tiny passed away in its arm.

A few of Sceptile's tears dripped down from its eyes and fell on top of the face of the Emanation Pokémon, once it knew for certain that one of its longtime friends had died.

Time: 3:20 PM

"After Tiny died, I had it cremated, as it did to its brethren long ago." Sceptile said, still staring at the dirt in the ground, before looking back up at the attentive Aura Pokémon. "In sacrificing its own life, it saved my own."

Lucario, bottling his emotions after hearing the fact that Tiny passed away shortly in his absence, comprehended quickly what Sceptile had to say, and had this to say in return.

"You have Tiny to thank—"

"For what?" Sceptile suddenly snapped in anger. "What do I have it to thank for losing my arm, you, and Wanderer to those humans? I would've rather have perished in the explosion! That way, I wouldn't be scarred with this loss!"

The spontaneous outburst caught Lucario off guard, but he continued nevertheless, in an attempt to mollify the Forest Pokémon—whom was gradually growing into a Fire-Type in terms of sheer emotion.

"...What matters is that I've returned after my absence. Wanderer is coming back here as well, once we meet again."

Sceptile remained silent and transparent of Lucario's remark, and decides to change the topic when it ogled its buster sword in hand.

"Do you want to know," Sceptile temporarily hoisted the massive blade up to his face, eyeing the sharpness of the steel, "how I came to wield this blade?"

Lucario seemed somewhat surprised at how quickly Sceptile discarded his words just now.

"I obtained this blade from the forgotten cargo of a traveling blacksmith, a few days after Tiny died." Sceptile sheathed the sword behind its back and looked back at Lucario. "For those few days in between, I lacked motive in my life. I ate, drank, and slept next to nothing. I just…lived like the trees that are abundant here. I can't tell you how many times I thought of suicide then, as I was recovering from my harsh injuries."

"(Suicide…?)" Lucario was stunned to hear Sceptile consider such a thing.

"However, all of that changed once I found this buster sword." Sceptile spoke sinisterly, its hissing accent intensifying somewhat. "With it, I secluded myself in this forest that I call home by driving out all of its inhabitants, by fury as I preferred."

"(That would explain the leveled area of Celadon Forest that I passed by…)" Lucario pondered.

"Anyone that would enter this forest, I would kill without hesitation, be they human or Pokémon."

"(…And that would also explain the corpse of the person and his/her clutched Pokémon.)"

Sceptile grips the hilt of its buster sword, never forgetting Lucario's existence here in this forest. "That goes for you as well, Aura Pokémon."

"And for what reason…?" Lucario asks, finding Sceptile's behavior to be unbelievably unstable.

"For forgetting the fact that Lucario, Tiny, and Wanderer have left this world."

Lucario was rendered discombobulated. Aside from the fact that Sceptile spoke of him in third-person perspective, it seems to deny what he's stated earlier.

To remind the Forest Pokémon of this decisive fact, he repeated himself.

"Do you recall what I said earlier, how I've returned from my absence, and Wanderer's on its way back as well?"

"Yes, however there's one problem with that." Sceptile said, unsheathing its buster sword, and forming a battle stance—much to Lucario's astonishment. "I don't see Lucario. I only see a slave to humanity. I highly doubt that armor was manufactured by Pokémon."

"How warped has your mind become, Sceptile?" Lucario shouted, just before realizing that words were going to get him nowhere.

"Last chance, Aura Pokémon. Leave this forest, or I'll use your skull as a pot for tree saplings." Sceptile demanded, never loosening its battle stance.

"(*Sigh*) I suppose there's no reasoning with you, Sceptile…" Lucario tilted his head down, in defeat of trying to negotiate with the arboreal threat. Suddenly, he his head back upward, with Aura Vision activated. He formed a battle stance, and said "I'll just have to pummel that irrelevance out of you!"

"Strong words for someone whose life is in my hand."

17.2: Rumble in the Jungle! Aura vs. Forest

Sceptile made its first move. By using PSYCHIC, it telekinetically commanded all six of its seed-like nodules to detach from its back and fire straight at Lucario, without altering its stance in the least.

Lucario's Aura Vision, flaring stalwartly, sensed SEED BOMB coming and erected a protective bulwark, courtesy of PROTECT, without so much as moving a paw.

Sceptile's SEED BOMB technique made contact with Lucario's PROTECT bulwark and detonated forcefully, coating the entire area in front of Lucario in a layer of thick dust, kicked up by the loose forest soil.

The Forest Pokémon was unable to transcend the dust cloud with its eyes, until it utilized Aura Vision itself to bypass this optical obstacle. In utilizing this technique, its eyes gleamed gold, its horns resonated and radiated minute amounts of green aura. And armed with its buster sword, it charges towards Lucario at high speed.

Lucario, with his Aura Vision ability, sees Sceptile coming beyond the sand veil and simply remained put with PROTECT.

Sceptile, charging forward, sees Lucario's defensive intent and positions its buster sword for a forward thrust. Channeling power into it, the buster sword glows brilliantly silver, imbued with the FEINT technique.

Lucario can't sense Sceptile's intentions in time—because Sceptile's speed is too great—and suddenly finds his bulwark shattered. Sceptile's momentum kept it going forward, and its buster sword catches onto Lucario's chest plate, just below his chest spike. The armor holds firm and doesn't give under the momentum, and Lucario is only flung back from the attack, astonished somewhat at Sceptile's surprising speed and power, as well as the resistance of his battle armor.

Once Lucario stops himself from moving backward by planting his padded feet onto the dirt, he suddenly finds Sceptile above his head, about to drop down with the buster sword angled down towards him. Lucario, thinking quickly, used DIG to bury himself deep enough underground, moments before Sceptile's sword could pierce him. All Sceptile's sword pierced was the hole of dirt on the floor.

"(Evasive little bitch…)" Sceptile pondered an expletive at Lucario's evasion. "(I should do something about it.)"

Sceptile temporarily lets go of its weapon, leaving it positioned as it is. All of a sudden, the Forest Pokémon begins to generate a monumental amount of green aura surrounding it, stretching as far as four feet from its body. It concentrates it all into the palm of its left hand and then slams it into the dirt, adjacent to the hole that Lucario left.

With FRENZY PLANT in effect, the ground suddenly rumbled with the sound of shifting earth underneath the surface. Within seconds, thick thorny roots shot out of the earth, dozens of feet in length. Lucario came out of the earth as well, coiled tightly in the neck by one of the thorny roots, having difficulty breathing yet still able to nevertheless.

Lucario attempts to break free from the roots by tearing them apart with his paws. However, he found them much tougher in structure than they seem.

As Lucario is trying to break free of FRENZY PLANT, Sceptile's stamina is replenished and it retrieves the buster sword that it left vertical on the dirt. It then rushes over to Lucario once more, with the weapon placed to its side as it ran.

Lucario, thinking quickly once more as Sceptile rushes over to his location with the buster sword brandished, manages to get the massive root over his mouth and then exhales ICY WIND to freeze it instantly. Once the roots crystallized from the cold, they were shattered with ease when Lucario tugged on them once, and then he dropped a few feet back onto the floor.

He sees Sceptile coming and only had one second to guard himself. He narrowly catches Sceptile's buster sword by raising his paws above his head, using the battle armor's gauntlets to stop Sceptile's sideways swipe.

"(Arceus-dammit, what is that armor made out of?)" Sceptile thought with gritted teeth.

"(What kind of power do you have to brandish such a weapon with only one hand?)" Lucario pondered, struggling to keep the sword away from his head.

Lucario, as he was preventing the weapon from reaching any closer to his face, pumped his body up by using BULK UP, creating a significant aura field around him. With his muscle mass increasing significantly by this technique, Lucario managed to shove the sword away. However, Sceptile didn't let go of its weapon, but it was reluctantly shoved away behind its back.

Before Sceptile could swing at the Aura Pokémon with the weapon in hand, Lucario's fists already gleamed white, and it suddenly found itself enduring blow after blow of Lucario's MACH PUNCH technique across its torso and face.

Much to Lucario's surprise, Sceptile never flinched, and swung the sword horizontally once more, much quicker than expected. Lucario quickly protected himself from the sword by bringing up his gauntlets again. Despite preventing a deep laceration on his being, he was still flung to his right side. His back slammed into a tree, knocking some of the wind out of his lungs, but not enough to be temporarily stunned.

"(Oh how predictable,)" Lucario thought negatively. "(I can't go ten feet in a straight line without crashing into a tree. They're scattered all over the…)"

A bolt of realization struck Lucario's mind when he thought of the word "tree". He recalled his experience with jungle combat and decided to use it to his advantage.

Before Sceptile could rush over and strike him with its buster sword, Lucario already used EXTREMESPEED to evade possible mutilation, leaving the Forest Pokémon to cut only wood and not flesh.

Sceptile suddenly heard the rustling of the leaves of the trees above it, and looked upward to see what was causing them.

Like a pinball, Lucario was ricocheting across the trees around Sceptile—a tactic that he used on Absol years ago, only this time he used EXTREMESPEED for greater movement.

Much to Sceptile's surprise, it couldn't pinpoint Lucario's exact location with its Aura Vision ability. The reason for this was not because of Lucario's EXTREMESPEED, but because of the fact that in the middle of this discombobulating ploy, the Aura Pokémon replicated himself with DOUBLE TEAM, increasing his numbers twelve-fold. In the golden eyes of the Forest Pokémon, Lucario and his duplicates appeared as a ring of dense aura.

With twelve Lucario swerving around Sceptile, it decided to wipe them all out with one single technique. It suddenly began to channel green aura once more. Only this time, the energy assimilated the surrounding foliage, rending the thousands of leaves off of the surrounding trees. These same leaves surrounded Sceptile, swirling around him with a violent gale.

With LEAF STORM armed and ready, Sceptile discharged all of the revolving leaves through the gale, causing them to dart out at everything surrounding the user of the technique.

The leaves, despite their virtual nonexistence in terms of weight, managed to do momentous damage one fired at high speed by the gale that they were riding. The leaves penetrated the bark of the trees, as well as the Lucario doppelgangers into nothingness. The whole area surrounding Sceptile was scarred with leaves in seconds, leaving no trace of Lucario.

"(Where are you, Aura Pokémon…)" Sceptile thought upon sensing no trace of the Aura Pokémon in the destruction.

Sceptile suddenly hears a shifting of the earth directly below and looks down. With Aura Vision, it senses Lucario coming to resurface and attempt to clobber it from underground. With the buster sword in hand, it holds the hilt high and the blade upside-down, having the tip pointed down at Lucario.

Just as Lucario was about to resurface, Sceptile timed its reflexes right so that it brought the blade down on Lucario's head as it sprouted from the ground. The buster sword, sure enough didn't even scratch the surface of Lucario's helmet, but did in fact keep Lucario pinned onto the earth, prevented in rising up to the surface.

"Now you're mine, Aura Pokémon," Sceptile said smugly.

Lucario, despite being halted in his tracks, didn't seem all that bothered. He struggled somewhat to free his left arm, and then grinned balefully when he stretched his paw to Sceptile's face and retracted his first and third digit simultaneously—giving him the middle finger.

"Now you're pissing me off…" Sceptile rebuked at Lucario flipping him off.

Sceptile removed the sword it had on Lucario's helmet and attempted to drive it down with more force. Once it dropped the sword downward once more, it was absolutely astonished at the fact that Lucario suddenly ceased to exist.

"(…Another duplicate…?)" Sceptile thought, its sword embedding itself twelve inches into the dirt.

Lucario—the original—used FLY to soar above and beyond Sceptile's field of Aura Vision, knowing well enough that Sceptile was close, but never as adept as he was in using similar abilities. Once he noticed Sceptile's realization of his underground duplicate being a decoy, he descended downward, dive-bombing with FLY.

Sceptile suddenly senses Lucario descending downward from above and looks up. It catches a glimpse of the Aura Pokémon front-flipping downward, before he extends his right paw out and having it spontaneously combust in fire. Lucario was only within fifty feet of the Forest Pokémon by the time Sceptile's eyes saw him.

Sceptile has no time to react to this and simply says "Oh fu—" before he was axe kicked between the horns on its forehead, knocked unconscious by Lucario's BLAZE KICK technique, its Aura Vision ability abruptly turned off.

Once Lucario's two feet touched the dirt, Sceptile's whole body did the same. Its buster sword remained stationary in the dirt, when Sceptile stabbed the floor earlier.

Lucario was within kicking distance of Sceptile, but decided not to inflict further damage onto it because it would be pointless.

"(I've only been gone for a little over one year, and you're mind has deteriorated to borderline schizophrenia.)" Lucario pondered, looking at the Forest Pokémon.

Seeing how stagnant Sceptile was made him look away and at the buster sword that was lodged onto the earth. He doesn't see the sword for what it's worth, only for what it's done.

"(I've only seen one of your victims, and I don't know how many more there are.)"

Lucario, turning off his Aura Vision ability, raised his left paw and pointed its palm at the buster sword. He began to conjure an AURA SPHERE, with the intent of destroying the weapon.

"(There won't be any more once I obliterate—)"

All of a sudden, Lucario felt Sceptile's left hand grip onto his left ankle. The AURA SPHERE disappeared from his palm, gradually along with his energy.

"You've dropped your guard, Aura Pokémon. I'm not finished with you yet."

Looking down, he could see Sceptile grinning at him maliciously, using GIGA DRAIN to siphon his power and rejuvenate itself. Because the technique was advanced and the Pokémon utilizing it was proficient with it, Lucario found himself drained within seconds.

"(…Crap…)" Lucario thought before his eyes rolled back from fatigue. He collapsed onto his back and on the dirt floor, unconscious and vulnerable.

Sceptile let go of Lucario's ankle prior to his descent onto the floor, and then got back up on its two feet once it rejuvenated its energy. With PSYCHIC, it retrieves its buster sword and catches it with its left hand. It looks down on Lucario and positions the buster sword so that its tips resides inches above the Aura Pokémon's neck, never thinking once about the Lucario it recalled, because it only sees an intruder within Celadon Forest.

Sceptile raises its weapon a few feet into the air and just as it was about to drop it down on Lucario's neck…


…it heard a voice echo across the forest. And just as quickly as the sound reverberated, a concentrated blast of light rammed into Sceptile. The Forest Pokémon, with sword in hand, was launched backwards, slamming and snapping a few trees—due to its momentum—before stopping at the fourth tree, its back slamming into the trunk.

Lucario was still unconscious, his body slowly regaining the energy that was lost in this vulnerable state of being.


However, that same voice echoed across Celadon Forest once more. And just as quickly as before, Lucario is hit by a ray of pink energy. The energy of that technique quickly gave him a brief pink aura, before it was assimilated into his body.

Lucario suddenly awakens and coils his lower body back before springing it forward, getting back up on his feet. In front of him, he sees Sceptile about one hundred feet away—as well as a few trees split in two—, with its back on a tree and the buster sword in its single hand.

He approaches the Forest Pokémon—sensing no danger from it because it's clearly comatose—, discombobulated, wondering what exactly caused this to it.

Lucario hears a mature voice speak from his left side and almost flinches when he hears it.

"It's not dead, you know. I just left it cataleptic with one attack."

Lucario looks to his left side and sees a rather exotic sight. He ogles a levitating Pokémon with a streamlined, flight-intended body. It has a blue lower body and a white upper body, with a blue face that has a white circle in the center. It has two blue wings on its back, stubby—useless—blue feet, and foldable blue arms. It has two white upward-pointing ears, red eyes, and a red triangle pattern above its belly. Overall, it appears to be a Pokémon hybrid of a dragon and a jet, with a mostly blue and white color scheme.

(National Pokédex entry #381: Latios, the Eon Pokémon. It is a Dragon-Type and a Psychic-Type Pokémon that measures in at 6' 07" in length and 132.3 lbs in weight. It is a highly intelligent Pokémon. By folding back its wings in flight, it can overtake jet planes. Likely, it's dexterous enough to win dogfights against humans.)

Lucario had no clue as to what this Pokémon is and chose to utilize his battle armor in order to provide him with the information. He mentally commanded the Pokédex program to activate and analyzed the enigmatic Pokémon, which was currently observing Sceptile. The scanning was quick, albeit details were scarce on this specific Pokémon.

This concise phrase listed what the Pokémon is and what it's basically capable of.


"(What are the odds of finding one here?)" Lucario pondered before shutting off the Pokédex program on his visor. "Did you have any part in this?"

"I just knocked it insensible as it was about to stab your neck with its weapon." The Eon Pokémon spoke with some haste in its voice, before turning to its right to face the Aura Pokémon. "Capture it with that Luxury Ball you have in your possession already, before it reawakens."

"How do you know what I have on me?"

"Let's just say that I've been watching you for some time now." Latios said without haste in its voice.

"…For how long?"

"Just capture the damn Forest Pokémon already!" Latios shouted impatiently. "You'll know eventually. But for now, it's not important."

Lucario, ignoring whatever frustration he may have building up within him from conversing with this Legendary Pokémon, retrieves the Luxury Ball from his possession. Eyeing Sceptile, he enlarges the Luxury Ball by pressing the button on its center.

"Let's just get this over with," Lucario said, preferring not to question his reluctance in this action.

Almost robotically, Lucario threw the Luxury Ball at Sceptile's head. The sphere made contact with the Forest Pokémon, rebounded, and hovered temporarily in front of it. Sceptile quickly converted into red energy, which was then assimilated into the internal circuitry of the Luxury Ball. Its buster sword and sheath remained behind, and lied on the forest floor beside the tree.

The sphere dropped onto the floor once it was engorged with Sceptile's essence and began to rattle a few times on the floor, its button flashing red as it swayed side to side. Seconds passed before the Luxury Ball subsided its movement altogether, its button light turning off. A futuristic locking sound was audible for one second.

17.3: Mental Reprise

Time: 4:03 PM

The Luxury Ball is thrown once more, into the air. It opens up and expels the red energy it has within. From that same energy, Sceptile rematerializes on both of its feet. It is temporarily in a daze, its vision temporarily blurred from the sudden exposure to the bright light of the forest.

Once Sceptile's vision readjusts after a few seconds, it sees Lucario standing before it, without his battle armor and possessions on. Sceptile automatically put its left arm behind its back to retrieve its buster sword, only to perceive that all it was gripping is air.

"Ahem," Latios clears its throat to get the Forest Pokémon's attention.

Sceptile sees that to its right side, three Pokémon were present, as well as its and Lucario's attachments—his battle armor, the Expert Belt, the Friend Ball and the Ultra Ball within a belt intended to store up to ten Poké Balls. It sees its buster sword sheathed, its tip lodged into the dirt. It sees Lucario's battle armor placed tidily in a pile in front of its sword.

Perched on the hilt of the buster sword, Latios had its hands on the weapon. On each of Latios's wings, Beldum and Torchic—informed earlier of Sceptile—were present. All three of them eyed Sceptile closely, watching its every move. Latios was ready to act in defense if necessary.

Sceptile set its arm aside and looked back at Lucario. Only this time, it paid more attention to the Aura Pokémon. In doing so, it noticed Lucario's current facial countenance: melancholy and sober.

"You endured a heavy loss after losing Tiny, one of your best friends, your left arm," Lucario began to summarize Sceptile's life after Lucario's absence, "as well as both Wanderer and I, whom were captured by humans—Team Rocket to be specific—and enslaved into doing their heartless acts of Pokémon brutality."

"(…Team Rocket?)" Sceptile had these two words resonate within its mind.

"Heartbroken to the point of mental instability, you decided to rampage Celadon Forest with a buster sword that you acquired from the forgotten cargo of a traveling blacksmith, driving out all of the populace in the process."

"(…Celadon Forest?)" Sceptile had these two words resonate within its mind.

"And ever since then, you hunt down anyone—human or Pokémon—intruding upon your self-claimed territory."

"…" Sceptile begins to recall its life as Lucario described it. It recalls what happened over the past year: the loss of Tiny and its left arm, the abduction of both Lucario and Wanderer, its obtainment of its buster sword, and the rampage across the forest.

Its eyes begin to water at how emotionally difficult that time was for it.

Lucario senses Sceptile's mental recollection, how it's reacting emotionally to its actions and experiences during the time of his absence from Celadon Forest. Tears began to form in his eyes as well, from the happiness of returning to his forest home and seeing a friend that he believed to have perished over a year ago.

Lucario spreads his arms out and says "Do you need a hug?"

Sure enough Lucario is quickly—albeit carefully due to his protruding chest spike hazard—embraced by the Forest Pokémon, whom begins to bawl uncontrollably behind his back. Lucario remains silent during this, crying and sniffling somewhat over the pain of the loss of Tiny, putting his arms on Sceptile's back as well. He found it easier to do so, since Sceptile's bulbous seed-like nodules were plucked off earlier.

Beldum, Latios, and Torchic watched on at this from the sidelines, and Latios was growing somewhat impatient, especially since it had to do something else here.

"(I wonder how much longer this tearjerker is going to last?)" Latios thought with impatience.

"When you don't understand the consequences of your acts, how can you be blamed for them?" —Orson Scott Card (570) ("Xenocide")

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