The Path of the Aura: Intertwining Crossroads

Chapter XV (15): Dawn Over a New World

Location: My Village

Date: December 1st, 59 A.D.

Time: 10:18 AM

My village is a halcyon, remote settlement that resides in the middle of a desert, with the Red Sea present on its coastline. The villagers within this village went along with their daily lives, passing by day after day in time, living simple lives. This was the norm over the last decade, ever since I left this village on May 2nd, 49 A.D.

However, that norm would be broken on this day.

A rift in space opened up a few hundred feet above the earth, hovering a few feet off from being directly above my house of residence. An object emerged from that rift in space—a mostly dark blue, bipedal, canine-like object, clad in battle armor—, unconscious in mental state, and began to (reluctantly) free-fall towards the sandy surface below.

In only a few seconds, Xeno Lucario landed onto the sand, a few feet in front of the entrance of my house. He landed with a loud thud—the reason being his body mass was temporarily multiplied by his Steel-Type defense mechanism, which made each and every cell in his body exponentially more dense—, leaving a crater on his impact site. The puncture wounds that he sustained on his abdomen gradually leaked blood onto his fur, which in turn dripped onto the sand and gradually began dying it red.

The villagers—all hearing a sound similar to an asteroid crashing down—quickly rushed over to where Lucario was unconscious. None of them ever bothered to look up above to see a rift in space, which closed up as soon as Lucario hit the floor. The three Pokémon that resided within the rift—Dialga, Giratina, and Palkia—sealed off any connection that remained from this world and theirs, leaving the Aura Pokémon sealed off into this world.

All of the villagers, in a rather short amount of time, had gathered around the Aura Pokémon, laying their eyes on such an uncanny sight. They had never seen such a creature before, and discussed amongst themselves just what he was.

"What in the world is that thing?"

"It looks…like a jackal."

"If it's a jackal, then why is it blue?"

"No jackal on this world is blue."

"It's a big world. Maybe a blue jackal has yet to be discovered."

"If that's the case, then it might be a new species of canine."

"Is it male, or female?"

"…I have no idea. I can't tell."

"What is it wearing?"

"It looks like…armor… And is that a belt on its waistline?"

"Are those holes on its armor?"

"Is that…blood?"

"What caused that to it?"

Every single one of them was clueless as to what this being is. Since they couldn't figure out the identity of this organism by themselves, they decided to seek out the wisdom of the two smartest people amongst their village: the village chiefs Costas and Ian. Both brothers were finishing their morning breakfast nearby, and were called over just as they finished.

Both Costas and Ian arrived to the mass of people and made their way over through them, towards the crater in the sand. They both eyed the unknown entity that lay there, staining the sand crimson with his blood.

"Costas, do you have any idea what this organism is?" Ian inquired his brother.

"No, I don't." Costas's response was honest and clear.

The villagers, after hearing them speak, quickly interjected.

"Wait, you both have no clue as to what it is?"

"Are you both just as clueless as we are?"

Both brothers ogled away from the Aura Pokémon and looked back at the villagers. They nodded at them, confirming their assumption.

With the visor that Lucario had concealing his face—or more importantly, his blood red eyes—, no one was able to see his eyes open as he regained consciousness.

"Maybe if we remove its helmet," Costas suggested. "We'll know just what it is."

The instant Lucario realized that he was surrounded by people, his body sprang upright, and he stood back on his two furry feet. The people around him never see him spontaneously become bipedal, and they only lunge back and gasp when they see him awaken and react in the blink of an eye. Both Costas and Ian however, they remain stagnant and look back at the Aura Pokémon, an aura of calmness present amongst the two of them.

Before Lucario could utter a single word, the pain of his injury caught up to him. The seeping puncture wounds quickly weakened his ability to stay upright, and forced him to topple back onto the sandy floor as suddenly as he stood upright. He quickly removed both his visor and chest plate segments of his battle armor, in order to clearly see the damage that Dialga had inflicted upon him earlier.

"…Never mind," Costas said as he saw Lucario's bare face, still unsure of the Aura Pokémon's identity.

Lucario seemed more preoccupied with his injury now that he realized its significance. He placed both of his paws over the puncture wounds, and attempted to heal himself with the abilities that he possessed. However, the injury proved to be too traumatic to his well being, forcing his paws to shake slightly in shock, and disrupted his concentration over his aura abilities. He was unable to muster any aura on his paws, and only had them stain red as a result of placing them over his wound.

"I may not know who…or what you are," Ian said. "But I can tell, from that massive bite mark on you, that you're seriously injured."

"My brother and I can provide you with medical care at our home," Costas added. "Our house is directly behind you. And judging by the crater in the sand that you left with your body, you actually almost landed on it."

Lucario, looking back and forth between both brothers, pondered this option repetitively. "(Should I allow the most avaricious, detrimental, and power-hungry of species tend to my injuries?)"

Looking back and forth between the facial appearances of both brothers, Xeno could sense a fair amount of selflessness and serenity emanating from them, from their auras. And since his viewpoint on humanity, as it presently stands, is highly negative—due to what Giovanni and his Team Rocket organization does to his species and has done to them for years—, he found it abnormal of himself to actually think about trusting them. However, with his current state of being, he really doesn't have a choice in the matter.

Lucario, without saying a word, nods and decides to go with them. He attempts to get up again, but finds himself falling over onto his rear again, unable to muster the strength to regain his footing a second time on his own.

However, both Costas and Ian were there to offer their assistance. Ian grabbed both of Lucario's arms and helped him regain his footing. He then placed Lucario's right arm behind his back, holding it with his right hand, and held onto Lucario's waistline with his left arm, being careful not to dip his hands into Lucario's wound unintentionally. With every step that Lucario took, Ian supported most of his weight and followed alongside him. They both entered my former home and moved further inward, towards my former laboratory.

Costas remained behind to retrieve the helmet and chest plate that Xeno discarded earlier. Before he entered the house however, he had this to say to his fellow neighbors.

"You know, even though my brother and I aren't doctors…or veterinarians for that matter," Costas said. "We'll make sure that it receives proper treatment."

Costas concluded before following behind his brother's footsteps—as well as the trail of blood that Lucario was beginning to leave behind. The villagers disbanded and resumed their daily routines, knowing well enough that the unknown entity was now in the hands of the two wisest men in this village.

21.1: Noon over a New World

Location: My Laboratory (Recovery Room)

Time: 10:42 AM

Once Ian and Xeno made their way over to the laboratory's Recovery Room, Ian had him remove any equipment he had on his body: his battle armor and utility belt. The items were placed on a nearby shelf within the room, and Ian then helped Lucario onto a nearby hospital bed.

Ian had prepared, on a nearby hospital tray, various items for treating Lucario's injuries. He had sewing equipment, an anesthetic bottle, a needle, a sanitized cleaning cloth, and a roll of bandages, all necessary for his current task at hand.

Ian began with the anesthetic bottle and the needle, the needle being necessary to transfer a small dosage of anesthetic to Lucario's injury site. The needle was first stuck into the bottle, and then a few milliliters worth of anesthetic was drawn into it, enough of a dosage after he took into account Xeno's body mass. The needle was then inserted into Lucario's abdomen, where the puncture wounds were most concentrated.

However, Ian found himself having to put in an exponential amount of force onto the needle, just to pierce Lucario skin. Thankfully, he managed to stick the needle into him, before the needle had broken.

"Despite external appearances, your skin appears to possess…metallic properties," Ian said before injecting the anesthetic and removing the needle, setting it aside on the hospital tray afterward. "How is that physically possible?"

"(Does the word "Steel-Type" come into mind?)" Lucario thought sarcastically.

Costas eventually found his way into the Recovery Room, having followed Lucario's blood trail to where both Ian and the Aura Pokémon were residing in. He noticed the shelf that was stocked with Lucario's possessions, and placed Lucario's chest plate back alongside the other pieces of Lucario's battle armor. The helmet, however, he showed some curiosity over it, and attempted to put it on. Unfortunately, the helmet was too small for him and therefore didn't fit him at all.

The only thing that this attempt gave him was a glimpse at what was engraved on the helmet, around the inner area of the helmet, the area on the back of the helmet that touches the back of your neck.

Costas could see a red "R" adjacent to the number "2010".

"(This is set…almost two millennia in the future?)" Costas pondered. "(How is that possible?)"

Setting that thought aside by putting the helmet back on the shelf, Costas then ogled Lucario's utility belt, which currently possessed each and every Poké Ball from his friends, as well as his own. But because he had no idea what they were for, he could only speculate.

"(I wonder what those capsules are for…)" Costas began to reach for them.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you," Ian said as he was sewing each and every one of Lucario's bite marks closed.

"Why?" Costas said before looking at his brother.

"Because it's looking at you alertly."

Costas averted his eyes from his brother and to the Aura Pokémon, quickly noticing how he was glaring at him, almost antagonistically.

"(I swear to Arceus, if you touch my Poké Balls…)" Lucario began to ponder with narrowed eyes.

Costas, receiving mild shivers from Lucario's piercing red glare, slowly retracted his arm and stepped away from the shelf.

"(…That's better,)" Lucario almost formed a smile before looking away.

"You know, instead of standing there and doing nothing, you could be doing something more productive at the moment." Ian conversed with his brother.

"…Such as?" Costas wondered.

"Go and make some medicine out of the Berries that we have in the Berry Greenhouse Room. And make sure that you use Rabuta Berries as the main ingredient."

"(Rabuta Berries?)" Xeno pondered. "(Aren't those the ones that positively influence the stomach?)"

"Also, every part of that Berry should be used," Ian continued, "as it is necessary to maximize its potency."

"Alright then," Costas understood his task at hand before leaving the room.

A few more minutes pass as Ian continues to sew and seal Lucario's puncture wounds. After he sewed the last bit of the injury, he wiped off any excess blood with the sanitized cleaning cloth. However, some coagulated blood remained on Lucario's yellow fur, but that would crumble and peel away in time, as it wasn't necessary to clean off at the moment.

"If you could please lean forward from your bed," Ian said before retrieving the roll of bandages. "I can apply these bandages over your injury."

Lucario, still trusting Ian with his life, obeyed and did as he requested. He reclined upward, and in doing so, found out how his strength was gradually returning to him.

Ian begins to unroll the bandage roll and revolve it around Lucario's abdomen. He wraps it around the Aura Pokémon a few times, elevating it upward and downward, so as to cover the entire vicinity of Lucario's injury. Once enough bandages were applied tightly, sticking durably well against each other, Ian tears the end off and sets the bandage roll aside.

"Alright, now you can recline back and relax."

Lucario did just as Ian requested and reclined back. In doing so, he felt the tightness that the bandages applied to his torso, but he never showing any discomfort towards them, because the bandages bended to the shape of their applied site.

"Well, I've done all that I'm able to in my part," Ian said. "All that's left is for my brother to bring the medicine that he's preparing for you, to seal up the holes made onto your stomach."

Lucario, feeling much better physically than he did moments before, actually felt thankful to the human being that magnanimously tended to his injuries, without so much as an incentive, or caring for anything of physical value in return.

"…Thank you…" Lucario spoke truthfully.

"Ah, so you are capable of speech," Ian spoke without a tone of bewilderment.

Lucario didn't expect this reaction from him. "You don't seem surprised?"

Ian just shook his head. "Speculating from the high-tech equipment you had equipped onto your being, I assumed that you were an intelligent life form."

Lucario briefly glimpsed his battle armor and utility belt that resided on the nearby shelf. "(All of that technology was manufactured by your species, not mine.)"

"You also understood everything that I said, so I strongly believed that you were capable of speech."

"Acute speculative capabilities…" Lucario muttered. "You're quite intelligent for your age."

"I suppose so," Ian said. "By the way, I couldn't help but notice that your mouth doesn't move when you speak. Why is that?"

Lucario felt as if he could share a few topics with this person. "I speak through telepathy."

"Telepathy, huh…?" Ian scratched his head at such an exotic ability. "So you're psychic?"

"Yes, I am," Lucario said before trailing off in thought. "(Although I strongly believe that I'm a lot more than that, after that prophecy that I recently learned about.)"

(Xeno Lucario's Flashback)





(End of Xeno Lucario's Flashback)

"(What responsibility have I been given?)" Lucario pondered.

A few seconds pass before Costas returns with the Rabuta Berry medicine that he was instructed to brew.

"Guess whose back?" Costas said rhetorically, and with an eerie sing-song voice.

"Oh good, the medicine's ready," Ian said.

Costas walks over to Lucario's bedside and hands over the medicine to the Aura Pokémon, whom easily retrieves it with his left paw.

"Thank you," he said sincerely.

"Holy crap, you can talk?!" Costas stepped back with disbelief, eyes widened with surprise.

"Well, there's the reaction that I expected…" Lucario said with a small smile, before drinking the medicine whole.

Costas, still discombobulated by Xeno's speech capabilities, looks over at his brother. "How long has it been able to do that?"

Ian just shakes his head. "If you paid enough attention to a few key signs, then you would've known. However, I shouldn't be surprised that you're this dim-witted, especially with the head injuries that you sustained during our childhood."

Lucario drinks every drop of the Rabuta Berry medicine and is already able to feel its beneficial effects sealing the holes in his stomach, as if by magic. He also enjoyed the taste of the medicine, and thinks about the Berries utilized.

Costas, setting aside Lucario's ability to speak, removed the empty cup of medicine from his paw. "Do you want to know what makes this medicine taste so good?"

"Is it the use of both Sitrus Berries for stronger recovery and Watmel Berries for an overpowering sweet taste?"

This time, both brothers were rendered thunderstruck. They didn't expect Lucario to know about these gene-spliced fruits.

"Yes…" Costas fought against his speechlessness.

"How do you know that?" Ian inquired.

"These types of Berries are plentiful from the world that I come from."

These words resonated within Ian's head. "You mean you're not of this world?"

Lucario shook his head temporarily. "No, I'm not. This world, compared to what I'm used to, seems far too…primitive. And aside from this laboratory and you two people, my assumptions seem to be leaning in my favor."

Costas recalled the engraving on Lucario's helmet. "Well, this is the year 59 A.D., and the engraving on your helmet said '2010', so I guess that's why you feel that this world is primitive."

Lucario remained silent temporarily. "(So I was sent back in time as well…by Dialga.)"

Costas, out of curiosity, decided to ask Lucario this question. "Since you're not of this world, what exactly are you?"

Again, Lucario felt open enough to share his information with them. "Back in my world, humanity calls my species 'Pocket Monsters', or Pokémon for short."

"(…Pokémon?)" Ian pondered.

"(Sounds…Japanese…)" Costas thought as well.

Lucario could sense the confusion from both people, once he had said a word that they've never heard of before. "(And Palkia sent me to this place as well.)"

"You know…" Ian decided to change the topic. "The three of us never properly introduced ourselves."

"My name is Costas, and my brother's name is Ian. We're the village chiefs of this location." Costas added. "Do you have a name?"

"…" Lucario, for privacy reasons, remained silent when they asked of his name.

Both brothers wondered why their new friend was eerily silent.

"…No… Not yet…" Lucario muttered. "I believe that I've said enough for now."

Lucario, feeling as if he possessed enough strength, decided to get up and off of his bed.

Before both brothers could say anything otherwise, they noticed that Lucario had no difficulty in moving about. They didn't even bother to say anything when Lucario proceeded away from them and towards the entrance door of the Recovery Room.

"(Until my injuries fully heal, I suppose I can stay here for the time being.)" Lucario thought as he gripped the doorknob and twisted it clockwise. "(To keep myself occupied, I could explore this underground laboratory for what it's worth. I might also tell those two village chiefs more about myself, depending or not if I trust them enough.)"

Lucario opened the door and walked out of it, disappearing from the vision of Costas and Ian as he proceeded down the hallway.

"Aw, I still had questions to ask it," Costas moaned. "I wanted to ask more about its past and home-world."

"You need patience, Costas." Ian scolded. "It obviously trusts us, but doesn't trust us enough yet. We just need to give it some time to grow accustomed to us. I don't blame it if it's fortifying its information and keeping it away from us."

"Eh…I guess you're right." Costas shrugged his shoulders and agreed.

Ian then turned around and faced the nearby shelf, eyeing the equipment that the Aura Pokémon possessed on his being when he came to his world.

"(What a mysterious Pokémon.)" Ian pondered, clueless as to what technology Lucario acquired, or how it functioned.

Location: My Laboratory (Prison Cell Room)

Time: 12:04 PM (Noon)

Xeno Lucario, after wandering across the underground laboratory for a small amount of time, stumbled upon the Prison Cell Room, a room that hasn't been needed for over a decade.

The Aura Pokémon proceeded across the massive hallway of this room, eyeing the individual prison cells in tandem.

"(This room reminds me so much of the basement floor holding cells in Team Rocket Main Headquarters.)" Lucario juxtaposed the similarity of both rooms, in terms of practical use.

Just before Lucario decided to leave the room altogether, he felt his injuries act up on him.

"(Maybe I should just sit down for a moment…)" Lucario pondered, holding onto the side of his abdomen with his arm.

Much to his physical relief, each and every prison cell had a couple of beds in them. He just entered an unlocked prison cell and sat down, choosing to rest for a few minutes.

During that time, he decided to ponder about his future.

"(How am I going to return home? I don't even know where to begin.)" He thought before looking down at the grey, squalid floor below. "(I'm stuck here on this new, alien world. I don't have so much a lead as to what to do—)"

Something on the floor caught Lucario's blood red eyes. He notices a small, faint red spot on the floor—which easily stands out amongst the rest of the floor—, concealed over a thin layer of dust. He uses his feet to sweep away the layer of dust that resided on top of—and around—the dark red spot.

And in doing so, he unearths a dust painting that I made over a decade ago, an illustration describing a silhouetted being that I visualized in a dream. Lucario visualizes this dirt drawing for a few seconds, before coming to this sudden conclusion.

"(Some past prisoner must've drawn this out of boredom.)" He pondered before standing upright and walking out of the Prison Cell Room.

21.2: Roman God of War

Location: My Village (Outskirts)

Date: December 7th, 59 A.D.

Time: 1:07 PM

From across the horizon of the village, an impending army—numbering exactly 501 soldiers—marches across the desert. They continue moving until they are able to visualize the village across the horizon, where they all temporarily halt in their tracks.

Their leader, the Roman General Mars, visualizes the distant village with red hot intensity in his eyes.

"If we continue as is," One of his soldiers explained. "We'll arrive before sunset."

"I see…" Mars responded calmly, before grinning somewhat. "Upon our imminent arrival, the village will burn where it stands. And with their trump card thrown away so long ago, they are absolutely defenseless against our impending assault."

"Thank God for that tip the emperor gave us," Mars's fellow soldier said with relief in the tone of his voice. "Eduardo was banished from his home over a decade ago, and has just wandered the world ever since."

"It's a big world then, if we haven't seen one trace of him."

The legion of 501 soldiers proceeded onward towards their destination.

Location: My Village (My House)

Time: 5:39 PM

On the roof of my former home, Xeno resided there, fully healed from his injuries and no longer wearing bandages around his abdomen, after approximately a week had passed since he first sustained his injuries. He was on his back, his paws placed on the top of his furry belly, and his tail wedged over to his left side—so that it wasn't compressed by his body. His eyes looked on upward, observing the reddening sky.

In doing so, he was drifting off in thought, pondering over the powerful forces that brought him here in the first place.

"(Dialga is the Temporal Pokémon, and Palkia is the Spacial Pokémon. Dialga possesses the power to control time, and Palkia possesses the power to control space.)" Lucario mentally reviewed information that he knew about Sinnoh's Pokémon deities. "(They can only control what they specialize in.)"

All of a sudden, Lucario's eyes wrinkled somewhat when he realized a key detail.

"(If this is a new world, then there was a third force in taking me over here. It couldn't have been either Dialga or Palkia, because bridging worlds isn't in their jurisdiction. The only Pokémon capable of dimensional transport…is Giratina.)"

Lucario sat upright, looking across the horizon as he pondered.

"(But why would the three of them transport me here, to a new location, time, and world? What do they know that I don't? Do they know more about that prophecy than I do?)"

Lucario couldn't help but scoff at his last question.

"Heh… (Of course they know more about that prophecy. Spear Pillar is their place of residence, their territory. The inscriptions engraved on each and every one of those pillars, be they broken or intact, they are as familiar with as their innate special abilities.)"

Lucario decided to get up stand upright, his eyes gazing across the horizon, useless in need as Lucario continued to ponder on.

"(However, even if I have a prophecy to fulfill, I still desire my old home, with my friends that I've grown attached to. Right here, I'm alone and lost, and clueless in my next task.)"

Lucario put a paw to his chin, and realized something.

"(Of course, for all that I know, I was sent here for a reason, and even if I don't know my next task, it'll come to me in time. The prophecy foretells that I'll 'prevent the world from falling into the Void of the Dark One'. However, I only wish I knew more about the information that I was vaguely given, rather than ponder and speculate what I don't know.)"

Lucario stopped thinking to himself once he heard sounds originating from behind him. His ears twitched somewhat before his body did an about-face, so that he could see what was behind him.

Before his eyes, he sees an approaching force of 501 soldiers strong, all marching towards this very village. And in their way, all of the village residents—Costas and Ian included—stood in their way, hoping to fortify their home with their beings.

Lucario watches on to see what is occurring, listening attentively and accurately with his highly sensitive auditory perception, despite being hundreds of feet away from this commotion.

Location: My Village (Limit)

Time: 5:47 PM

The Roman General Mars and his Roman battalion of 500 soldiers menacingly approach the halcyon village, stopping before the village residents, whom stood as a wall before them.

Costas and Ian, whom stood in front of their people, spoke for their village, representing their opinions and thoughts.

"What business could you all have here?" Ian began.

"Judging by your equipment, I'd say your business here is hostile." Costas added.

Mars looks at the group of villagers before him and introduces himself. "I am the General of this battalion, Mars is my name."

"You have no business here." Ian stated bluntly.

"Go back to Rome, where your tyranny belongs." Costas added in a similar tone of voice.

"And why should I?" Mars grinned evilly. "Your juggernaut Eduardo is no longer a resident of your village, and he is your only competent form of defense. Without him, this village is under the mercy of anyone wishing to conquer it."

Both brothers remained silent, for they knew that Mars was right, even though they didn't know how exactly he had acquired that information.

"(News must spread quickly amongst the outside world…)" Ian thought.

"(I'm much too young to die…)" Costas groaned mentally.

"However, I was given strict orders by my emperor to obliterate this village, rather than conquer it. To him—to all of Rome—, he sees this village as a repulsive stain on his country, a stain that your trump card Eduardo left on us when he annihilated Mercury's legion over a decade ago, and splattered their blood over our civilization. Now my emperor wants that stain purged from this planet, and wants it done as swiftly and as barbarically as possible."

Lucario, having heard enough, decided to make himself a part of this commotion. He jumped down from the roof of my former house, discreetly, no one so much as seeing him jump, or see him proceed to the village multitude and join their numbers.

"This village will meet its end under my command!" Mars shouted. "I will see to it that this village doesn't see the light of another day, only the light of its fire as it combusts to nothing!"

Mars raised his hand to signal his army to prepare for battle. In an instant, each and every one of his troops unsheathed their swords, and those who had shields hoisted their shields forward. Mars unsheathed his sword as well, and was more than ready to annihilate the villagers and their home. However, he showed enough mercy to say this, the most clichéd phrase of antagonists.

"Any last words, before my battalion obliterates the lot of you?"

"…A few, actually…" Ian said.

Both he and Costas turn their backs at the opposing threat and look at the villagers behind them, never once seeing that Lucario was present amongst them—likely because he stood behind some taller people.

"Since we represent these citizens as village chiefs, we know what we're talking about when we have this to say." Ian began.

"It was a mistake of this village—of all of these citizens—to drive away our only hero," Costas continued, "all because we thought that he was a monster, imbued with power far greater than our feeble minds can ever comprehend, or that our feeble bodies will ever brandish."

"In banishing Eduardo—my brother—, we all rent our only defense against an eventual opposing force, such as this one that stands before us all." Ian followed.

"However," Costas turned back at the opposing threat. "We're not as submissive as we once were."

Ian did the same. "We will fight to the death if we have to, to prevent any scum like you from having your way."

The villagers just seemed to stay silent, especially after Ian said "fight to the death".

"…" Mars, after hearing what he believes to be chronologically excessive, sighs and shakes his head once they've stopped talking. "I asked for any last words, not any last speeches…"

Xeno Lucario, standing inconspicuously amongst the crown, attempted to make sense of what Costas, Ian, and Mars were talking about. "(Who is this 'Eduardo' person that they keep referring to?)" He pondered, slightly dumbfounded by the vagueness of this cited person.

"Honestly…" Mars stops and looks at each and every citizen of the village. "…After hearing such an unnecessary discourse, I'm just itching to slit each and every one of your throats with my—"

Mars abruptly silences himself when he notices a pair of blue ears shifting behind a village citizen. The abnormality of this sight quickly filled the Roman General with curiosity.

"What the hell is that far back, that thing with the blue, pointed ears?"

Whatever Mars was referring to quickly caused everybody to look behind their shoulders. When they did, they noticed the Aura Pokémon amongst them, seemingly lost in thought.

"(Why do they keep referring to him as this 'juggernaut' and 'trump card'?)" Lucario continued to ponder to himself.

"Bring that anomaly up front!" Mars commanded the village citizens, briefly pointing his sword at them in the process. "If you value your lives for what little they're worth, you'll do as I say!"

Costas, knowing well enough what Mars was talking about—especially since the words "blue, pointed ears" was used—, turned around and faced the citizens behind him once more.

"Do what he says," Costas spoke his mind. "Hopefully, we'll live a bit longer."

"Costas!" Ian scolded his brother, after hearing Costas's uncertainty.

"What? I'm only doing what you said, representing the citizens as village chief," Costas back-lashed his brother with his words. "Most of us don't even think that we'll survive. You can tell just by looking at their countenances."

Ian turned around and faced the villagers, quickly realizing that his brother was right. "God, I miss my brother…" He spoke under his breath.

All of the villagers proceeded backwards, until Xeno Lucario was up front. Costas and Ian remained in front of the villagers, and they were now simultaneously by his side. Costas was by Lucario's left side, and Ian was by Lucario's right side. They all eyed Mars and his gradually elevating levels of astonishment—except for Lucario, who was still lost in thought.

Before the eyes of Mars and his battalion of 500 soldiers, they witnessed a creature unlike anything they've ever seen.

"Dark blue fur, exposed bones, bipedal stature…" Mars mentally highlighted specific details of this abnormality. "I've never seen anything of the sort in my entire life! What the hell is it?!"

"(How powerful is that 'Eduardo' person any—?)" Lucario stopped thinking to itself when it saw Mars ogling at him. He eyes the Roman General in response to this and thinks "(What the hell are you staring at?)" with mild irritation.

"A visitor, whom arrived on the first day of this month," Ian explained to the Roman General.

"It had severe abdominal injuries when it first arrived," Costas continued. "They were treated for and it recovered quickly."

"…" Mars was silent for a few seconds before leaning over to one of the soldiers adjacent to him and whispering to his ear. "Have you ever seen such a creature before?"

"Never," The soldier responded. "In my wildest dreams, I didn't think it was possible for a dog to be bipedal and/or have dark blue fur."

"It must be an extremely rare species," Mars speculated.

"(Lucario aren't extremely rare species,)" Xeno responded in his thoughts, hearing their discreet conversation with his sharp sense of hearing. "(We just live in areas that humans have yet to study in better detail.)"

"How much do you think someone would pay for it, if we managed to capture it?" Mars continued.

"It would easily fetch you riches beyond belief," The soldier assumed. "If skinned, its fur alone would likely bestow upon you your exact weight in gold."

"Yes, but how much do you think it'd be worth alive?" Mars wondered.

"(You people are too materialistic…)" He pondered with bitter resentment at their conversation.

"Maybe I should try calling to it," Mars said.

"Yeah, why not," His fellow soldier agreed.

Mars held out one of his hands towards the Aura Pokémon, but never stepped forward in the process. And in a tone that made Xeno seem as if he were Mars's pet dog, the Roman General began to communicate to the Aura Pokémon.

"Hey there, little blue doggy," Mars began to speak with a cutesy, friendly tone of voice. "Do you want to come home with us? Do you tire of this heat, and these backwater people? Huh?"

Lucario's response to this degrading behavior was immediate and surprising.

"You can bite my blue, furry ass and take whatever hair lodges onto your teeth back home with you." He retaliated with a glaring countenance.

The village citizens immediately "oohed" at Lucario's spiteful remark, and both Costas and Ian chuckled somewhat at what they heard. They never thought that Lucario had this type of sassiness in him.

Mars's Roman battalion exclaimed amongst each other at how this exotic animal before them was surprisingly capable of human speech.

"(What did you just—?)" Mars thought with a vein of anger forming alongside his forehead, his fists clenched with forming rage. "(Did that bitch just speak right now?)"

"All of you people are nauseatingly identical," Lucario began telling what surplus he had on his mind. "You are all flawed, fraudulent beings, whom enjoy governing over your own species, and hoarding everything in sight as if it was premeditatedly intended to belong to you, regardless of what it may be. You all utilize whatever power you can hope to obtain to cause absolute turmoil to whomsoever you please, and respond fiercely when your 'control freak' tactics backfire, as is occurring presently. Whatever doesn't comply with your species, you choose to decimate instantly, so that your flawed political sovereignty remains uncontested and unmoved."

"…" Mars didn't know how to respond to the surprising wisdom—as well as stalwart word choice—that Lucario surprisingly had.

The village citizens, as well as both Costas and Ian, didn't know what to think about Lucario's tremendous opinion of humanity.

"However, I've learned recently that not everybody is plagued by the negative correspondence that you all embrace."

Xeno looked at the villagers behind him, eyeing each and every one of them quickly and at least once. He eyed both Costas and Ian in the end, and with more time than the villagers.

"Both Costas and Ian, the village chiefs of this rural community, displayed selfless kindness and a willingness to help me when I required it, without so much a care in the world for any form of incentive or repayment in return."

Both of the brothers that Lucario referenced couldn't help but feel emotional by Lucario's gratitude. They only knew until now how thankful Lucario truly was to them.

"These kinds of people—gallant, impartial, and obliging—are gems amongst the rough that human nature has become. These kinds of people are eternally and unenthusiastically targeted by the nature of people that you all are."

"(Authoritative, intelligent, and virtuoso?)" Mars pondered what he believes he is, as well as his country as a whole.

"People that are anecdotal, imprudent, and uncouth—the ones that are sufficiently egomaniacal to believe that they are fictitiously authoritative, intelligent, and virtuoso."

Mars's eyes widened when he heard Lucario's word choice. "(It's like it's reading my mind!)"

Lucario, having made more than enough of his point to Mars, re-faced both Costas and Ian.

"Costas… Ian… Thank you, the both of you, from the bottom of my heart." He said, smiling affectionately at the two people that healed him when he was injured.

"No problem," Costas said with a smile as well.

"We only did so because we knew you required our aid." Ian spoke truthfully.

"We never cared otherwise if you repaid us or not." Costas added.

"Heh heh…" Lucario couldn't help but chuckle (non-telepathically) at Costas's last sentence. "It's actually quite queer that you suddenly decided to mention that."

Both brothers raised a curious eyebrow to the Aura Pokémon.

"I'm actually about to repay the both of you, as well as this village."

Lucario turned away from both Costas and Ian and re-faced Mars and his bloodthirsty legion. He then decides to step forward, stopping when he's twenty-five feet away from Mars. Once he stopped, he eyed Mars with a stagnant facial expression.

"Hang on a second…" Mars was slowly beginning to comprehend what Lucario is thinking of doing, based on what he had said and why he stepped forward somewhat. "You're not thinking of doing what I think you're thinking of doing, are you?"

Lucario simply nodded at Mars, knowing well enough that he was catching on.

"You actually think…that you can defeat my battalion of 500 soldiers?" Mars began to smile at the ridiculousness of the idea.

"I don't think that I can. I know that I can." Lucario assured him, still retaining the dormant facial expression that he had before.

Mars, as well as his battalion of soldier, suddenly cackle at Lucario's sureness. And during their laughing, the village citizens can't help but feel astonished at Lucario's bravery and nobility—or question Lucario's "stupidity".

Costas and Ian however, they both think otherwise.

"Costas," Ian talked to his brother. "Doesn't this strike you as…nostalgic?"

"…" Costas pondered what Ian could be talking about, and immediately recalled a past event that Ian was referring to.

(Costas's Flashback)

"Do you want us to help you fight?" Costas asked with no fear and total bravery.

"We can go retrieve our weapons and—" Ian asked with no fear as well, but was silenced when I lifted my right hand and wiggled my finger horizontally, telling them "no" with body language, not even bothering to look at them, because I needed to watch the enemy army with the intensity of a hawk.

"The only favor I'm asking you two to do for me…is to survive by staying back and out of this fight," I spoke somberly to them.

"…" They didn't understand my words at first, but after a few seconds, they knew what I meant. They knew that I wanted them to live, even if I have to die to try and fulfill my order.

"If we three fight and I die, I don't want you two to die with me in battle." I told them my reasons for them to sit this fight out. "So for your safety…and as for these soldiers…" I said before turning my head to my right side, keeping an eye on both my brothers and the Roman Army. "They're mine…"

(End of Costas's Flashback)

"Are you referring to when Eduardo singled himself against Mercury's Roman legion?"

"Yes, that's it." Ian retorted. "And when he did, he annihilated the opposing forces, all by himself."

"You don't think…" Costas had a thought arise within his head, "…that this…Pokémon…is as powerful as he is, do you?"

"It just might be," Ian said.

Lucario, having heard Mars and his battalion roar in laughter for over a minute straight, remained calm and composed. He knew well enough that all of this laughter would quickly reverse into fear, once he unleashed himself upon them.

Mars's laughter died down enough for him to be able to speak properly. However, he didn't fully stop laughing, so his speech had the occasional chuckle inserted between words in his sentences.

"Very well then, he heh…" Mars responded with stifled laughter. "Since you're clearly so cocky and willing to relinquish your life alongside your newfound friends, I challenge you to do so!" Mars laughed harder than before, almost gasping and choking himself in the process. "I challenge you to face me, and my legion of 500 soldiers, and be torn apart under their overwhelming might! Do you accept my challenge?!"

Xeno, having clearly heard what Mars had said, smiles faintly before he crouches ever so slightly, and then crosses his arms over his face. He inhales once, sharply and through his snout rather than inspiring through his mouth, concentrating and focusing his inner aura, prepping himself for it to flare forth.

"Ha hah… What is it doing now?" Mars said, feeling that the Aura Pokémon has lost his mind, and yet remaining simultaneously curious in the process, because he wondered what this stance implied.

The villagers continue to watch on, unsure as to what Lucario has planned within his mind.

However, both Costas and Ian began to sense that something chaotic would occur, and took precautions with their fellow citizens. They signaled the villagers to step back, saying that they shouldn't stand so close to a spectacle that hasn't occurred on this village in over ten years. Because both Costas and Ian were the village chiefs, they had the authority that reinforced their tactics, and everybody did as they said. And with the villagers obeying their orders for safekeeping, Costas and Ian followed behind them, once they retreated to a safer distance.

None too soon after the village residents retreated back, the earth itself began to resonate with Xeno's stockpiling aura. The sand surrounding Lucario's feet began to kick up and disperse, growing greater in intensity until it resembled a dust devil—a small, desert-based tornado. The floor began to rumble at Lucario's power, rivaling a small earthquake in terms of intensity.

"Ha ha hah…! He heh…" Mars, upon seeing the spectacle that Lucario was producing, eventually stopped laughing altogether, alongside his fellow soldiers. His eyes began to widen and his face simultaneously began to frown, in response to what was occurring before him.

All of a sudden, with nothing more than a battle cry from his mouth rather than his mind, Lucario's aura spontaneously erupts forth and began to flare as a field surrounding his entire body, expanding about six feet from any given point on his body. The sand's immediate response to his blazing blue aura was as violent as the jet engine-like bellowing that his aura produced as it surged across his body. Dust and debris were flown away, all around Lucario, forcing many whom couldn't brave sandstorms—or valued their eyesight—to shield their faces. The sheer power of it all formed a crater upon and around Lucario's feet, the earth below proving feeble and dispersing outward at his might.

"It's exactly as we thought, Costas!" Ian shouted under the sounds of Xeno's force, seeing him displaying tremendous aura capabilities through the sleeves that shielded his eyes from the raging sand.

"It's just like Eduardo!" Costas shouted with astonishment as well, hardly audible and shielding his eyes with his arms' sleeves as well.

"…Oh shit…" Mars cursed under his own breath, never expecting this from the Aura Pokémon. "There's another freak of nature?!"

As brilliant as this display of power is, Xeno was simply intimidating his opponents and making a statement at how easily he could end their lives at this very moment. Once he sensed that he had installed sufficient dread to his enemies, the entire exhibition subsided. Lucario's aura field dispersed into the air, the sand stopped spiraling in his self-made gale and settled back down to earth, and the rumbling of the earth itself subsided. All that remained was the sand crater that Lucario stood stagnantly atop of.

"…" Mars was rendered silent, along with his entire legion. They began to fear the Aura Pokémon, unsure as to what he'll do next.

Lucario, his battle strategy already set, uncrossed his arms and formed a battle stance. His Aura Vision ability quickly activated, as he wanted it to, causing his dreadlock-like appendages to hover horizontally, his eyes to gleam a soul-piercing gold, and the veins surrounding his eyes to swell with extra blood flow.

"Challenge accepted," he said simply before using TELEPORT to disappear from view. All that remained of his former trace was a slight updraft of dust that he kicked up with his technique.

Before Mars made sense of Xeno's warp technique, his ears suddenly responded to the sounds of chaos erupting forth behind him. He does an about-face, and sees that Lucario is directly behind his battalion. However, there was no longer one single Lucario. There are three of them now, Lucario having used DOUBLE TEAM immediately after using TELEPORT to warp and prior to Mars looking behind himself. Each of the three Lucario began to demolish Mars's squadron of soldiers, utilizing moves that distinguished the Pokémon from each other.

The first Lucario was curled up into a tight ball and encased himself in a conflagration of his own creation, utilizing the Pokémon technique FLAME WHEEL in the process. He was rolling fiercely and plowing through any soldier that stood in his path, burning and crushing them in the process. The fire that encased him didn't harm him in the least, and vastly increased his destructive capabilities.

The second Lucario utilized LEAF BLADE on his left paw, and METAL CLAW on his right paw. With two blade-based techniques in his favor, he hacked and slashed his way across Mars's legion, while simultaneously avoiding each and every one of their bladed attack attempts with ease—because his Aura Vision ability granted him extrasensory perception. The armor and shields of the soldiers proved to be useless, as Lucario penetrated through all of them, without staggering from the effort of digging his attacks into them. Within his wake, he left a trail of blood, dead bodies, rent appendages and shredded metal.

The third and final Lucario favored brute force and utilized them with the various Ground-Type techniques in his arsenal. He would utilize EARTHQUAKE to disrupt the footing of the soldiers and cause them to lose their balance, EARTH POWER to send them flying sky high—before they landed to their deaths, and DIG to escape being surrounded when necessary.

The onslaught of the three Lucario continued, with the soldiers having difficulty in retaliating properly against them for two main reasons: scarring intimidation and unpredictable use of attacks.

The vast majority of the soldiers that still remained decided to stop the FLAME WHEEL Lucario in his tracks. They clustered together, erecting the shields that they had, and concealed themselves within them. Lucario, sure enough, stampeded over towards them, and quickly contacted them. However, much to his surprise, the shields and the soldiers held their ground and endured.

Lucario eventually realized that his rotation speed was slowing down, with the fire from FLAME WHEEL dispersing into the air before disappearing altogether. He plopped onto the sand below, face down and uncurled, his technique surprising nullified as quickly as it was used.

The only price that this cluster technique had for the soldiers was that their shields were severely singed and damaged, warped under the heat and the force that Xeno mustered. However, that didn't matter to them, since they no longer required this defense. They simply discarded their shields and surrounded the torpid Aura Pokémon as quickly as they could, gripping tightly the swords that they already had in hand.

When Lucario stood upright, he was already surrounded and targeted by the blades of the soldiers. The soldiers already had their swords elevated above their heads, ready to smite Xeno where he stands. However, Lucario reacted quickly enough and utilized IRON DEFENSE to drastically increase the density of his body, amplifying the Steel-Type properties that his body possessed.

When the razor edges of the soldier's swords came crashing down, they all shattered upon impact with the Aura Pokémon's body, fragmenting like sheet glass upon impact. The resonating force of the failed attack blistered the hands of the Romans and caused them to bleed. Lucario hardly even felt the strike of their weapons, and grinned smugly.

With the soldiers further overwhelmed by Xeno's stalwart defenses, the Aura Pokémon took this opportunity to decimate all of his surrounding enemies in one blow. His body, almost spontaneously, began to radiate a shining red light, centered mostly from within his core and spreading in intensity across his body.

Lucario, once the light completely enveloped his body, smiled devilishly at the technique he plans on using next. "I hope you all enjoy fire, because fire is what you'll be eternally surrounded by, where I'm about to send you all."

Lucario inhaled once and held his breath. And in an instant, the energy that Lucario had built up within his body was unleashed. The result of this involved a revolving fire pillar of herculean proportions. It stretched dozens of feet high into the sky, as well as in circumference, with Lucario—the source of this conflagration—being in the center of it all.

The Aura Pokémon, despite the intense heat and his Steel-Type properties, was unscathed from his own technique, having already acquired the discipline and control needed to utilize it in the first place. The same could not be said about the surrounding soldiers that were caught within the technique. Their armor, clothing, and weaponry quickly melted away, their flesh was then roasted away, their blood evaporated and turned to steam, and their bones were incinerated to ash. All of this death occurred in a fraction of a second. They never even had a chance to scream.

Once Lucario's hellfire receded, all that remained was an Aura Pokémon, his fur smoking somewhat from the technique, covered with small traces of pale black ash—the remains of the soldiers that he cremated. The sandy ground that he once stood on melted and cooled into a transparent glass, albeit that same glass was impure and fragmented immediately under Lucario's weight.

Lucario shook his body to remove the ash that clung onto his body, and then exhaled before hyperventilating, his body exhausted after using such a destructive technique. His Aura Vision ability also receded, the energy required in using it temporarily drained from his body.

"(I've always wanted to use BLAST BURN in battle,)" Lucario thought, smiling with his mouth wide open and panting heavily in the process. "(Sure it leaves me temporarily exhausted beyond belief, but the end result? It's completely worth it.)"

The second Lucario, with its stamina still plentiful, moved on from bladed weaponry and began to break-dance—of all things—on the sandy floor. The centrifugal force that he generated quickly caused the air around him to revolve at tornado-force winds, which in turn caused another SANDSTORM to kick up. The sand from this SANDSTORM however, quickly spread across the entire battlefield, consuming the three Aura Pokémon and the soldiers that remained alive, blinding the enemy—but not any of the three Lucario.

The third Lucario, with all of the power that he possessed, channeled it for one final attack: the most powerful Ground-Type attack in his arsenal. He leaped high into the air, soaring above the SANDSTORM that his second Lucario duplicate created, and then descended back down, somersaulting forward as he came back down to earth. A fraction of a second before he hit the floor, he clasped his paws together, and slammed them onto the sand upon impacting the floor.

The earth trembled even harder than before as Lucario's FISSURE technique began to take effect. The sand before them erupted outward and split apart, forming a massive crevice that was dozens of feet deep in the process. The few Roman soldiers that remained found themselves falling into this crevice, becoming trapped below once they hit the bottom.

The sand, because of its delicate properties, couldn't support becoming a crevice for an extended period of time, and began to refill itself as quickly as it was formed. The soldiers within the crevice found it impossible to struggle free, once the sand made itself present around their bodies. The sand, once it buried and consumed them entirely, suffocated them when they ran out of oxygen, crushing them in the process and killing them instantly.

The SANDSTORM descended back down on the floor, revealing the filling sand-based crevice to the villagers and Mars. There was no longer a trace of anyone alive from Mars's legion, and those that were dead and (somewhat) in one piece, were targeted by the first Lucario.

Once his stamina—as well as his Aura Vision ability—returned to him, Lucario focused his psychic abilities and used TELEKINESIS to lift each and every deceased soldier off of the ground. With telekinetic proficiency, Xeno had each and every fallen warrior plopped on top of the filling crevice. All of the soldiers were buried by the filling sand, and once the crevice was filled, no trace of Mars's legion remained.

The three Lucario assemble together and face the village, seeing how each and every person was watching them in awe. Before Lucario knew it, a few of the villagers began to clap, and then a few more villagers joined in. Eventually, a full-blown applause was made, people cheering and whistling to be heard. They all acknowledged Xeno as their hero—Costas and Ian included—, and knew better now to accept him, rather than fear him.

Especially because they knew of his nature before the clash began, when Xeno explained his opinions of humanity. The same however, could not be said for Eduardo, because the villagers at that time didn't know what to make of my power and my choice of actions after I had made the two of them known.

Lucario, in response to their applause, disengaged his DOUBLE TEAM effect and Aura Vision ability in tandem, no longer requiring them. He bowed down to his audience, as if he were an actor in a stage play. The villagers continued to cheer for him, thankful of his actions.

As for Mars, he simply stood stagnant nearby this scene. His jaw was dropped, his mind failing him in making sense of what Xeno just did to his legion.

"(That dark blue bastard… It just annihilated my entire battalion with ease, with the most improbable display of power that I've ever seen.)" Mars thought as his hands began to curl up and tighten into clenched fists. His teeth gritted harder than he ever thought possible, almost coming close to fracturing them in the process.

Lucario stops bowing at the village citizens and faces Mars. "Anything you want to say to me, Mars?" He said, sensing the hostility that Mars was building up within himself, but never needing to bring up his guard at him nevertheless.

"…" Bulging veins began to form on the top of his head, as well as on the back of his clenched fists. He knew just what to say to Lucario. But in saying so, he'd be admitting defeat, under his own doing, for challenging him in the first place.

"Just say what's off the tip of your head. I already know what it is anyway."

Mars couldn't fume up any more if he wanted to, and found it becoming increasingly painful to his body in doing so—especially since he was beginning to blister his sword arm in clenching his fists with his sword in hand. He relaxed his body, and figured he should just cooperate with Xeno…or likely end up just as dead as his soldiers are now.

"Challenge…completed…" He whispered and slurred his words together in a failed attempt to keep whatever pieces of pride he still had a hold of from falling out of his grasp.

Xeno, as a taunt, tilted the left side of his face towards Mars and put a paw up to his ear, shaping it as a funnel so that he could hear better. "I'm sorry, could you repeat yourself one more time? I don't think the people here heard you properly."

"I said 'Challenge completed'!" Mars fumed once more, shouting this time out of unyielding frustration.

"That's better," He said before walking back towards the village, never looking back once at Mars, no longer seeing the Roman General as a prominent threat when there was only one of him now.

Mars began to fume once more at Lucario turning his back on him and treating him as though he were nothing.

"No one makes a fool out of me!" He barked spitefully, gripping his sword's hilt tight with the rage he was feeling, to the borderline of warping it around his fingers. "I don't care if you're human or a monstrosity who somehow learned of our language! I'll lop your bitch-like head in two, right down the middle!"

Mars recklessly charges towards Xeno as he proceeded back towards the village citizens. To Mars's point of view, Lucario appears unaware of the impending threat approaching from behind him.

However, from Xeno's perspective, it's exactly the opposite.

Both Costas and Ian could tell from Lucario's facial expression that he was clearly aware of Mars's choice of action. Not only was Lucario clearly aware, but he was almost annoyed by the fact that Mars lacked something beneficial: common sense. Because, rather than Mars simply accepting a loss as is and returning home, he would now attempt to risk it all out of something as basic as vindication, on an opponent that he has no hope of defeating, and never will.

"(Your adulterated nature of humanity will never change…)" Lucario pondered with a bored facial countenance, his eyes were half-opened as he heard smothered footsteps in the sand as Mars come closer and closer.

Mars, before contacting the Aura Pokémon, leapt into the air, and had his sword gripped tightly with both hands. The weapon itself was raised behind his back, Mars planning on delivering an overhead chop to the Pokémon that swiftly desecrated his authority. Before landing, Mars arched his sword forward and over his head, hoping to see Xeno's head split in two, like a parted pistachio shell.

However, all Mars saw was a blur of blue and black fur. He felt his sword catch onto something that he didn't aim for, and then he felt something strike his lower jaw. The force of that impact was severe enough to do two things to him: disarm his weapon, as well as send him flying into the air before crashing hard into the sand with a loud grunt from air forcibly escaping from his lungs, a full ten feet away from the Aura Pokémon.

Xeno Lucario, through his mind, replayed what he just did to his failed assailant. He swiveled 180 degrees to face Mars as the Roman General descended upon him with sharpened metal rushing towards him. He caught the sword with his right paw as it came down upon his forehead, the Steel-Type properties of his skin—fortified by his earlier use of IRON DEFENSE—preventing any lacerations from forming on his right paw. To conclude, he simultaneously disarmed Mars and sent him flying by using SKY UPPERCUT on his lower jaw, using his free left paw for the offensive technique—which he had curled up into a fist just prior to the uppercut attack.

Mars entire nervous system resonated negatively when he fell back down to earth. He groggily got back up, and clutched his lower jaw when he no longer needed his arms for supporting his weight. He immediately noticed that his lower jaw dislocated from Lucario's swift SKY UPPERCUT, and painfully realigned the joints of his lower jaw back into their proper sockets.

Mars looks back at Lucario, managing to notice him snapping his sword into two pieces with his bare paws before casting them aside.

Seeing Lucario effortlessly snap his weapon only made his temper snap as well. "I'm not through with you yet, you dark blue bitch!"

"Honestly, Mars… Where's your common sense?" Lucario tilted his head slightly at Mars, looking at the human with a curious façade, when he was using TAUNT on him in actuality. "Did I bury it in the sand, alongside your unsuccessful legion?"

Mars roared before recklessly charging towards his smart-ass of an opponent again, his fists clenched as he planned on striking Lucario with them.

"Resorting to a fistfight, Mars?" Lucario continued to mock at Mars's tactics, never moving away from his spot, knowing well enough that he didn't need to.

The distance between both combatants was shortened in an instant, and Mars began to deliver punch after punch at Lucario's face and torso with remarkable speed. Lucario's body tweaked slightly with each blow he received, however his composure remained solid.

And as this was going on, both Costas and Ian watched on from a relative distance.

"Ian, don't you think that the Pokémon should move out of the way?" Costas said his opinion to his brother.

"I don't think that it's necessary," Ian stated. "Mars's attacks don't seem to be having any effect on it."

Mars found himself growing more and more fatigued after every dozen jabs that he launched at Xeno. His knuckles grew more and more gnarled to the pain that was being inflicted upon them, but he just kept going, his rage overcoming his ability to register pain.

"In fact, it seems to be the exact opposite," Ian continued. "I can see that Mars's knuckles are blistered and bruised. And yet he'll continue striking it until they begin to bleed."

Lucario began to feel Mars's punches moisten his fur. He looked at Mars's knuckles every time the Roman General reeled them back to deliver another strike, and noticed that blood blisters began to form. With each punch that Mars delivered now, some of his blood stained Lucario's fur, most of it concentrating on his stomach and face—areas of the body that Mars is martially trained to strike.

And despite the pain flaring on each of Mars's knuckles, he kept on going, his rage overwhelming him, as well as his sense of touch.

Lucario was beginning to get annoyed of this, especially once Mars began to bleed all over him. When Mars was about to deliver another punch, Xeno caught Mars's fist with his paw, coiling all three of his paw's digits around Mars's knuckles, and holding on tight. Mars basically attempted to punch Xeno with his remaining fist, only to have it caught by Xeno's other paw. He gripped both of Mars's fists tightly now, but not tight enough to have his grip slip by the blood that was staining his paws.

Mars stared on at the harsh countenance that Lucario had, at the blood red eyes that stared fatally into his soul, almost seeing the equivalent of a hellhound. He gritted his teeth and looked at Xeno rancorously, never once letting fear assimilate his judgment.

His rage already beat his sense of fear to the punch anyway.

"Get your paws off of me, you damn, dirty d—!"

Mars was quickly cut short when Lucario kicked Mars in the stomach with both of his feet, hopping up and landing a double mule kick, one foot in tandem of the other, onto the stomach area of his breastplate. The DOUBLE KICK attack was so powerful that it not only dented Mars's armor, but it released him from Lucario's grasp and sent him flying back as well. Lucario, still remaining in midair, somersaulted backwards from this attack and landed on the sand with one knee and one foot.

Mars tumbled along the sandy surface for a respectable distance until he eventually regained his footing. However, he quickly dropped down to his knees and clutched his stomach with both arms. He was hunched over and coughing up a significant amount of blood onto the sand. His eyes were heavily bloodshot as he did so. The damage he endured to his abdomen internally being vastly greater than it seemed externally.

"(Unbelievable…!) (*Cough**Cough**Wheeze*)" Mars thought spitefully, his mouth dripping of blood and saliva with every cough. "(How has a bipedal bitch dropped me down to my knees?) (*Cough*) (Me! The great and powerful Roman General Mars! It should be entirely vice versa! I should have him by the neck, begging me for—!)"

Mars's mind fell entirely silenced when he felt a blood-soaked paw grip the backside of his neck, and then hold onto his entire weight. He became extremely discombobulated when he was being dragged over towards the Red Sea coastline.

Much to Mars's surprise, Lucario was effortlessly holding onto his neck with his left paw, and then proceeding over to the Red Sea.

"(What the…?)" Mars thought while simultaneously astonished by Lucario's strength.

"For the record, you're not great and you're nowhere near as powerful as you believe, especially when you're compared to me. From my perspective, you're only a megalomaniacal narcissist—egotistical and materialistic—who leeches life on pillaging the feeble and helpless. You're just a tormenter, a tyrant, to the eyes of your victims, and I was conveniently within your path of destruction, ready to aid those whom you targeted to beleaguer next. In inadvertently doing so, I quite literally brought you down onto your knees. I was your opponent today, and you lost outright."

"…" Mars paid enough attention to what Lucario said, and realized something about him. "…You referenced the same topics that I pondered…twice!"

"I can read your mind and grasp your thoughts," Lucario said. "It is one of the many abilities that I possess."

"And you…used it to take out my entire legion?" Mars speculated.

"Yes I did," Lucario admitted.

"And you…used it on me as well?"

"Absolutely not," Lucario said sourly. "Your martial tactics were so hackneyed and repetitive—inflamed from your poisonous rage—, that I didn't even need to waste my energy into reading your next move."

"…" At this exact moment, Mars didn't know whether to cry out of depression, or curse out of spite.

Xeno stops once he feels the waves of the Red Sea beach soak his feet, however he never lets go of Mars's neck. He stares on at the body of water, wondering how far it stretches.

"…Why are we here?" Mars wondered.

Lucario never answered Mars's question. Rather, he grinned somewhat, knowing well enough what he had planned for Mars.

"Oh, look at you! You're all squalid and sweaty!" Lucario mimicked Mars's degrading pet-like tone of voice that was used on him earlier. "You're covered from head to toe with sand. And is that blood that I see on your face and hands?"

"…" Mars rage began to build, however he was in too much pain to retaliate, and Lucario's grip on his neck restrained him too well.

"I think you need a good bath. Do you want a bath?"

Lucario, after degrading Mars sufficiently, decided to downgrade him further. He lightly threw Mars into the air, and then kicked him in the rear—as if he were a football—and sent him flying towards the Red Sea. Mars made a loud splash as he was assimilated into the water. However, he quickly appeared on the surface of the water, and was further astonished by Lucario's strength.

Before Mars's eyes, Lucario reactivated his Aura Vision ability and greatly focused his telekinetic abilities onto the water. He held his arms out, and swayed them up and down rhythmically, like the waves of the ocean. The water's response to this was immediate. The Red Sea began to grow a wave rivaling those of a tsunami. And once the wave was large enough, Lucario's body became stagnant. His eyes however, remained golden, because his active psychic abilities were the only thing keeping his SURF technique from returning to its former state.

Mars couldn't begin to fathom how Lucario was performing such a feat. The wave he saw before him was colossal—about the size of my house—and would likely bring him death if it were dropped on top of him.

Mars quickly pondered a question, and desired the answer to it.

"Your name… Tell me…" Mars talked to the Aura Pokémon. "What is your name…?"

Lucario, out of pity, figured he should just comply with this question.

"Xeno Lucario, the mysterious Aura Pokémon. That is my name."

"(Xeno…? Lucario…? Aura…? Pokémon…?)" Mars had Lucario's words stick into his minds adhesively. However, he failed to comprehend what Lucario spoke of. He didn't know what part of what Lucario just said was his name. He didn't even understand the words "Xeno", "Lucario", "Aura", and especially "Pokémon".

"Now I know for a fact that I'm in another world," Lucario rolled his eyes and muttered—albeit with an unrestricted tone of voice—, sensing the confusion emanating from Mars's mind.

"(Another…world…?)" The confusion in Mars's mind ran rampant.

"…" Lucario gave Mars the half-eyed stare, finding the intelligence of the majority of humans of this timeline to be primordial. And rather than ponder over Mars's stupidity, he pointed his paw northward, his SURF technique immediately running over Mars, as if it were a car trampling over a squirrel in the middle of the road.

The wave, with all of the telekinetic power that Xeno put into it, traveled consistently north, upward on the Red Sea. It showed no signs of stopping—as if it were created from a sea-based earthquake—and would easily travel across the massive body of water, until it reached the northernmost point of the Red Sea.

Lucario disengaged his Aura Vision ability and was about to return to the village, however he heard Mars's words echoing in the distance. He alone was able to hear this with his sensitive hearing, and not the villagers.

"Xeno Lucario! I will seek your soul with every fiber of my being! I will hunt you down and personally cleave you in two! I will follow you with everlasting malice, no matter where you go! You, alongside that stunted village that you bulwarked, will feel my impending wrath, you insolent, justified, motherfu—!"

Lucario wasn't able to hear Mars's final word—the distance proving too great for sound to travel consistently—, but he knew well enough that it was a spiteful expletive.

"(*Sigh*) (Humans and their…colorful choices in spiteful expletives…)" He smiled with his eyes closed and his head shaking side to side briefly. "(Why they enjoy calling their targets a maternal rapist is an enigma to me.)"

Lucario returned to the village as a guardian, a victor, and as a war hero, one that the village citizens accepted quickly rather than drive away. They quickly embraced him with congratulatory remarks, full-body hugs—where Lucario promptly told them that they should avoid hugging him from the front, because of the bony protrusion on his sternum—, handshakes, tears of joy, and even a playful rub of the forehead.

All of this made Xeno feel good inside, for he now had a different viewpoint on humanity. He now understood and was beginning to embrace the flipside of human nature, the side where everybody is joyful, righteous, and selfless.

The side that is seldom seen on this world.

"So, you're name is Xeno Lucario?" Ian inquired.

Lucario nodded at Ian's assumption. "You can call me 'Xeno', 'Lucario', or both if you so desire."

"(It still sounds Japanese to me…)" Costas pondered to himself.

21.4: Dusk over a New World

Location: My Village (Limit)

Date: December 8th, 59 A.D.

Time: 10: 03 AM

Xeno Lucario, once he has his entire battle armor and utility belt strapped onto his being, is given a sack of assorted Berries by both Costas and Ian for his leave of the village. All of the villagers are present before the Aura Pokémon, bidding farewell to their second hero, who they now know the name of—but sadly, nothing much of anything else.

"Xeno, are you sure you want to leave this village?" Costas said to the Aura Pokémon.

"I was brought to this parallel world against my will, without a clear method as to how to return home." Lucario began to explain. "I wish to find a way to return home, and my instincts tell me that I'll find a way if I decide to roam this world."

"Where will you begin?" Ian inquired.

Lucario sighed through his nose and briefly looked at the sand below. "I have no idea," he admitted.

Ian, after hearing Lucario's lack of a path, had this to say.

"Why don't you go and seek my banished brother Eduardo?" Ian suggested.

The name that Ian mentioned resonated through Lucario's fresh memories of yesterday's events.

(Xeno Lucario's Flashback)

"And why should I?" Mars grinned evilly. "Your juggernaut Eduardo is no longer a resident of your village, and he is your only competent form of defense. Without him, this village is under the mercy of anyone wishing to conquer it."

(End of Xeno Lucario's Flashback)

"Isn't that the name of the person that Mars was referring to?" Lucario assumed.

Costas and Ian nodded.

"He is our adopted brother," Ian said. "His family adopted both Costas and I when we roamed the earth after our biological parents died."

"He is the youngest of us three," Costas added. "But the age difference between us three is only a few months."

This "Eduardo" person piqued Lucario's curiosity, and asking of him would satisfy it. "What kind of a person is he?"

"For starters, he'll turn twenty-seven years old by the start of the new year," Ian explained.

"(Assuming he's still alive…)" Costas trailed off in thought.

"He is a brilliant inventor, whom manufactured the laboratory and all of its technological contents from scratch as a small child."

"(One of which almost killed us with its gravitational pull…)"

"He is also a supernatural being, whom acquired his unfathomable abilities spontaneously, over a decade ago, in response to Mercury's invasion upon this village."

"(Why did the village have him banished…?)"

"He, of all of the people on this planet, should be able to help you with your dilemma." Ian speculated, having a lot of hope that I'd be up to the task.

Lucario understood the information that was said to him in a heartbeat. However, he still had a couple of questions to ask Costas and Ian.

"Why was he banished? Why did you people drive away your protector?"

"He was banished for the same exact reason that you just demonstrated yesterday," Costas explained. "He displayed abilities that were far too much for our feeble comprehensions to handle."

"Our people drove him out because they feared him, when they never should've because he fought for us and protected us." Ian continued.

"They understand that better now, especially after seeing what you've done for us, and hearing you reasoning behind your stalwart actions." Costas resumed. "My brother and I selflessly tended to your injuries, and you repaid us by eliminating Mars's presence."

"If Eduardo ever returns to this village, which I believe will never happen," Ian added. "We'll welcome him back and the villagers will beg for his forgiveness."

Lucario begins to ponder how a mere human can posses such power. "(How did he acquire his abilities in the first place? Did he have them ever since birth, and those said abilities remained dormant until needed?)"

Lucario then recalls a certain man in his life, one that he utterly despises.

"(Or did he acquire them through methods similar to what Giovanni did with my Pokémon brethren?)" Lucario's mental tone of voice was darker and spiteful.

However, before Lucario could begin to hate me, he realized something decisive.

"(No, he's not like Mars and their civilization of corrupt megalomaniacs. Eduardo isn't a maelstrom of destruction and tyranny with his power. He willingly chose to protect the people around them, rather than enslave them or obliterate them, with the abilities that he unknowingly acquired. Even when they turned on him and banished him from his own place of residence, he didn't do the same.)"

Xeno also had this to think about.

"(However, for all that I know, a decade of banishment might've hardened his heart.)"

"You're clearly showing interest in him." Costas said, seeing a ponderous Lucario before him.

Lucario heard Costas's words and nodded.

"Do you two happen to know where he is now?" Lucario inquired.

Both of them only shook their heads in defeat, clueless as to my current whereabouts.

"I didn't think so." Lucario muttered.

"Is that a problem for you?" Ian inquired.

Lucario shook his head this time. "No, not really… I can track him down on my own, utilizing the tracking techniques that I possess."

And with that, Costas, Ian, and the Aura Pokémon bid each other farewell through one group hug—similar to the one that I had with the both of them prior to my leaving.

Lucario turned his back on the village citizens and their two village chiefs before walking off westward, towards the setting sun, before it disappears altogether. He plucks one of the Berries from the sack he was given—a Sitrus Berry, his personal favorite—, and commences biting into it. The sweet, tangy flavor that the moist skin of the fruit provided him proved nostalgic and a fitting snack to enjoy for as long as it lasted.

"(Even though I'm seeking my way home from this new world, I'm glad you reside in this one as well as the world I came from.)" Lucario pondered contently at the Sitrus Berry that he was eating.

As Costas and Ian watched their mysterious new friend disappear over the horizon, Ian pondered about his banished brother…

"(How much of Eduardo has changed during his banishment? Does he now harbor any hate to the people that discarded him over a decade ago? Does he even care about his home? Does he even care about either Costas or I?)"

…While Costas pondered what would occur if Xeno Lucario and I ever met.

"(Is Eduardo actually smart enough to help Xeno return home? Has he been tampering with dimensional travel recently, or has he yet to have it come to him through his dreams?)"

Then, Ian pondered the possibility that, during my banishment, I might've changed for the worst…

"(Has he changed enough to become hostile? What would happen if Xeno met him, and Eduardo would only want its death rather than its return home?)"

…While Costas pondered the possibility of a brawl between Lucario and I.

"(If Eduardo and Xeno Lucario ever clashed, who would win?)"

However, all of this mental speculation only left them with an overload of questions about an incredulous future. For all they know, they were engorging themselves with unnecessary dread, rather than relieving themselves with hopes of a brighter tomorrow.

"Energy and persistence conquers all things." —Benjamin Franklin

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