The Path of the Aura: Intertwining Crossroads

Chapter XVIII (18): Dividing Crossroads

Location: Castelia City

Date: April 2nd, 2019

Time: 12:12 AM (Midnight)

Castelia City: a massive, man-made marvel of metropolitan ubiquity, where millions of people inhabit and thrive as they progress through their daily lives.

During this present time, the entire city was aglow within the darkness of its surroundings, with dozens of millions of individual lights combining their illumination and rendering the metropolis into a nighttime day. These lights were bright enough to shroud the roofs of many of the skyscrapers from the citizens looking up from below.

This masked a Pokémon in a brown cloak from being noticed by the people below.

This Pokémon, whom underneath its brown cloak is known by a select few on this planet as the Genetic Pokémon Mewtwo, stood tall on one of the tallest buildings of Castelia City. From its perch, it stared down at the calm, yet active activity of the human population within this urban marvel, of which there are a variety of.

Mewtwo could see the famous Royal Unova cruise ship leaving port and setting a course for passing through and directly under Skyarrow Bridge, with very wealthy and sophisticated ladies and gentleman enjoying their surplus of luxuries.

Mewtwo also noticed other ships besides the Royal Unova using the waters surrounding Castelia City. And from its ever-expanding catalogs of knowledge, Mewtwo easily identified the types of ships surrounding Castelia City. The smaller ships that it sees are reasonably-sized ferry boats, carrying at least a hundred people at a time, and transporting people before and after its roundabouts. The larger ships, which practically dwarf the ferry ships and double on the size of the Royal Unova, are used for transporting cargo from other locations to Castelia City, or vice versa.

Within the main streets of Castelia City, Mewtwo could still see lively activity from a small fraction of the human masses. It knew that most people were asleep during this time of day. However, it also knew that there was still sufficient activity to be done at night. Some people have their graveyard shifts during this time, or some people simply feel like strolling and recollecting themselves, often talking to their friends if they're accompanying them.

Within these same streets, business was still ongoing during midnight. People were still selling merchandise to the fraction populace. Some of these items were helpful trinkets or delicious snacks, such as the Castelia City's famous soft-serve Casteliacone. That treat however, left Mewtwo questioning the idea of shaping a snack in the form of the Pokémon Vanillite, and left it a lingering feeling of mild discomfort whenever it sees people finish that ice cream.

Until it eventually acquired one out of curiosity anyway, then that discomfort turned to sweet satisfaction.

"(All of this I would find minutely interesting…)" Mewtwo pondered with a soulless expression, "(…If I was doing this a few months ago.)"

Over the years, Mewtwo spent almost all of its time exploring the world, making sense of anything and everything about it. It observed the way that human civilization functions, the tools they utilize to benefit their everyday lives, and the history behind their entire race. It also analyzed the lifestyle of its own innate Pokémon race, how they acted in groups, where they inhabited, and what they did to pass their time. Finally, it also studied the way this world itself functions, from an environmental as well as a geological perspective.

But now that it has learned as much as it feels it'll get from this world, boredom has settled within the cloaked Genetic Pokémon, from the virtual lack of topics to delve for knowledge.

Mewtwo quickly has an idea of what to do now, and decides to sit down cross-legged and wrap its brown robe around itself in adjustment of its desired posture.

It decides to meditate on its entire past, starting with the day that it was born.


24.1: First Memories

The very first moments of life that Mewtwo recollected were when it was created within a laboratory, held within a cylindrical glass container that promoted its body with an external gestational slumber. It recalled awakening and opening its eyes before unleashing a small burst of telekinetic energy, which shattered its glass container and drained it of its pseudo-amniotic contents.

Mewtwo remained seated within the floor of its container, eyed by the staff of scientists that all had a part in his overall creation. They all explain to the newly born Genetic Pokémon that it was nothing more than a successful experiment, involving the cloning process of the New Species Pokémon Mew, and begin to congratulate themselves on their scientific success.

Mewtwo interprets their information and questions its destiny in the process. It ponders that this can't possibly be its destiny, to exist as a simple experiment of a cloned Pokémon. Once it came to this realization, it unleashed its power on the laboratory of its birth, as well as the scientists who created it, decimating them and ending their lives prematurely. Within moments, everything around it was reduced to conflagrated rubble, and Mewtwo stood in the middle of it, pondering its strength and how it is greater than that of Mew.

Before it knew it, Giovanni arrived to this wreckage via helicopter and personally introduced himself to Mewtwo. He says that he wants Mewtwo as his "partner" and is willing to help it control its power, because without doing so, Mewtwo would simply duplicate its destructive results, as was the case on this laboratory. Mewtwo recalled accepting Giovanni's proposition, if it meant tempering its powers.

Giovanni, as part of his "partnership" with Mewtwo, had armor assembled for Mewtwo, armor that would strengthen and focus Mewtwo's innate psychic abilities, even though Mewtwo believed that it would suppress its strength at first. And with this armor on during every battle or mission, Giovanni and Mewtwo worked "together" to overcome their obstacles or fulfill their tasks.

Eventually, Mewtwo was given its own room within Giovanni's Main Headquarters building: Room 29-6, placed directly on the 29th floor, with only Giovanni's room—the Registration Room—placed above it. Within this room is where it met Xeno Lucario—the name "Xeno" given to this dark-furred Lucario by Giovanni—, whom was registered as a member of Team Rocket under Giovanni's orders, making him the second admitted Pokémon in the organization's history to receive this arcane honor. Xeno was quick to discuss his plans with Mewtwo on escaping from Team Rocket, liberating as many of the Pokémon within here as possible, after he was brought here reluctantly when they killed off a couple of his friends and set a portion of his Celadon Forest home ablaze.

Mewtwo recalled that it didn't care about escaping at first, but was willing to help Xeno in his ideas—in his "Team Liberator" initiative—even though it wouldn't fully immerse itself within Xeno's plan. To aid this mysterious Aura Pokémon, Mewtwo accepted Giovanni's suggestion of adopting three Pokémon to use during its missions—a Duskull, a Larvitar, and Shinx—, and added those three to Xeno's chosen Pokémon—"Aqua" Lapras, "Terra" Garchomp, and his childhood friend "Wanderer" Lucario, whom was captured alongside him from their shared home.

The eight of them, alongside one more Pokémon that both Lucario and Xeno each received when they were promoted to Admin—Lucario's Aron and Mewtwo's Charmander—, underwent various battles, training sessions, and missions, all under the authority of Team Rocket, while Xeno was discreetly preparing for his eventual escape. And through the course of one year, every one of the Pokémon under Mewtwo's and Xeno's ownership grew in strength and evolved fully, except for Lucario's Aron and Mewtwo's Charmander, whom only elevated themselves one stage—to a Charmeleon and a Lairon—due to their late arrival into Xeno's cause.

Despite Xeno's unyielding urge to escape this Pokémon prison that he was unwillingly placed within, Mewtwo eventually escaped first, almost unexpectedly and in immediate response to a bitter truth.

Directly after another flawless victory in Giovanni's Viridian City Gym, Mewtwo questioned its destiny in life, and Giovanni told it that its destiny is to obey humans, as it was created to do so. Mewtwo, as it did before when it was born, quickly denies this destiny and responds viciously against this accusation by destroying the Viridian Gym, never caring if Giovanni was buried and killed within the rubble or not.

What happened after that was solely to support Xeno's plans of escape. It left behind its party of Pokémon—Charmeleon, Dusknoir, Luxray, and Tyranitar—within the Poké Balls that they resided within, as well as a detailed letter about its side of this story, and a belt for storing up to ten Poké Balls in. All of this was placed within a small brown package for Xeno to receive within Room 29-6, personally dropped off for him before Mewtwo crossed the vast Kanto oceans to its island of birth.

It strongly believed that, with the help that it decided to leave behind for him to inherit—as well as Xeno's reliable skills in leadership, martial combat, and strategy—, he would escape shortly after it, and escape with virtually all of the Pokémon inventory within Team Rocket Main Headquarters. What happened afterward for Xeno and his Pokémon colleagues was something that wasn't of its primary interest.

Once it returned to its island of birth, where the laboratory it destroyed—along with its damned scientists—still remained as a heap of ashen debris, it had an idea surge within its mind. It had an idea on what would occur if the roles of humanity and Pokémon were swapped. In other words, what would happen if Pokémon were the dominant species on this planet? It also pondered about itself, who it is and what was its destiny, both questions which secretly plagued it mind since birth.

Perhaps with this idea that it'll set in motion—"The Reign of Mewtwo" it recalled titling it—, its answers will be made clear.

Mewtwo recalled heavily the effort that it went through to get its idea constructed, given form, and shaped before it went into motion. It recalled constructing an elaborate palace on Kanto's New Island, with relative ease due to its herculean levels of genius and unrivaled psychic abilities, in only a fraction of the time that a construction crew of thousands of humans —and likely just as many Pokémon—would take.

Afterwards, it recalled creating an elaborate machine that could actually duplicate Pokémon, which was named the "Pokémon Replication System". The logic and understanding behind this machine was simple enough for Mewtwo to understand, especially when it used physical evidence—itself—as the archetype for the grasping of the science of genetics.

With this machine, it had another idea illuminate the virtually limitless brain cells within its mind. The idea was that cloned Pokémon were more superior when juxtaposed to their original counterparts, once again using itself as the physical evidence to support this hypothesis.

Also, it contemplated the theory that because its DNA was closely equal to that of Mew—the Pokémon from which it was cloned of—, and that Mew was capable of becoming one of each and every Pokémon at will, it could use its own DNA to reverse-engineer any Pokémon of its choosing.

However, because humanity created it through horrific gene-splicing and complex manipulation of its DNA, they made a tangled mess of its genetics, which was eerily and surprisingly stable enough to allow it to live normally and without any physical complications. So instead, Mewtwo chose that using existing Pokémon and cloning them would be easier and faster than using itself, untangling its own DNA, and assembling the blueprints for each and every Pokémon within its genetic strand.

With that being said however, the Genetic Pokémon still gave the latter attempt a try, and successfully managed to create three Pokémon from its own DNA. It created a Bulbasaur, a Charmander, and a Squirtle, all three of which seemed partially decorated with darkened, irregular "stripes" all over their own skin.

Its choices in these three Pokémon, for some unidentifiable reason, mildly perplexed it. Deep within its subconscious, Mewtwo had a lingering feeling as though they were important in its life, even though it had no memory whatsoever of this, no matter how hard its attempts at recollection were. It also ponders that perhaps this is why it chose Charmander as its fourth Pokémon, back when it was in Team Rocket. The reason was likely for some unconscious, subliminal mental fragment that was inaccessible to delve into, but there nevertheless, away from its reach.

Mewtwo quickly disposed of this needless thought as quickly as it had sprouted, and returned to more pressing matters.

In terms of harvesting existing Pokémon, Mewtwo believed that it's easier for the Pokémon themselves to come to it, to New Island, compared to search for Pokémon individually across specific locations on the entire planet. Also, it would be better to collect Pokémon that Pokémon Trainers possessed rather than wild ones, because then it could demonstrate first-hand its idea to a small handful of humanity.

And overpower any defiance in the process, which would likely come down to that.

All it needed was the right bait, the right incentive to lure in as many individuals as possible. With its marvelous acumen, it quickly contemplated kidnapping a well-known human being—the Nurse Joy of the closest human city from its location—and brainwashing her to serve it obediently.

Mewtwo has the Nurse Joy send holographic invitations displaying her human image, rather than its own Pokémon image, to "chosen trainers" nearby that city. Those that accepted must then arrive to New Island, Mewtwo's designated location.

However, it wouldn't make this so straightforward for them.

Mewtwo decided to conjure a powerful storm, which was placed between the city and New Island, with its incredible psychic abilities. Those who braved it are worthy to arrive, and showed admirable attributes in overcoming its obstacle.

In the end, only a select few managed to overcome its natural bulwark. And when the time was right, Mewtwo introduced itself properly to them, having Nurse Joy title it as "The greatest Pokémon Master in the world", as well as being the most powerful Pokémon in the world.

Almost naturally, one of the Pokémon Trainers disagreed on the idea of a Pokémon being a Pokémon Trainer—and especially a Pokémon Master. In immediate response to this, Mewtwo distinctly recalled Nurse Joy and itself saying simultaneously "Quiet, human. From now on, I make the rules."

Afterward, it shoved the trainer aside telekinetically, and then reflected the trainer's Gyarados's HYPER BEAM attack back at its sender. Mewtwo then recalled dismissing Nurse Joy from its brain-manipulating control, where she quickly falls from losing consciousness. However, a dark-skinned man with squinted eyes (Brock) quickly comes to her aid and catches her before the floor did.

Mewtwo then gave a brief speech at how Pokémon will never coexist as equals with humans, and that those Pokémon that are trained under human control are simply slaves that mindlessly obey their commands. Once again, it receives a quick disagreement by a Pokémon Trainer's Pikachu, and promptly sends that Pokémon flying, where its trainer catches it and takes the fall.

That trainer (Ash Ketchum) then decides to challenge Mewtwo to a battle, where it easily accepts, because it had planned for this likelihood beforehand. It exposes a stadium predetermined for this, and introduces its three cloned Pokémon, now fully evolved as a Blastoise, Charizard, and a Venusaur.

Two trainers, in rejoinder to this, chose to release their Venusaur and Blastoise. Ash follows suit and releases his Charizard, which quickly breathes fire at Mewtwo, but to absolutely no avail. Mewtwo can't help but say how poorly trained Ash's Charizard is, for attacking so instinctively.

After that, the two trainer's Blastoise and Venusaur clashed against its cloned Blastoise and cloned Venusaur, where Mewtwo's cloned Pokémon effortlessly dispatched their Pokémon with only one attack. Ash's Charizard took longer to dispatch because both his Charizard and Mewtwo's cloned Charizard clashed in the air, but eventually fell in battle nevertheless.

As its prize, Mewtwo decides to claim all of the trainer's Pokémon as its own and make clones from them. As expected again, one of the trainers (Ash Ketchum) defies it and is quickly launched to the man with closed eyes (Brock).

With a smile—something that Mewtwo knows it hardly ever does—, it creates black Poké Balls of its own, which quickly swarm the area and assimilate the Pokémon Trainer's Pokémon on contact. Not even Pokémon returned into their Poké Balls are safe, because even those Poké Balls were assimilated as well.

One Pokémon (Ash's Pikachu) gives Mewtwo's black Poké Balls the greatest challenge, and escapes them for as long as its electrical capabilities hold firm. However, it too is captured by them, and its trainer (Ash Ketchum) follows closely behind the black Poke Ball's path back to Mewtwo's "Pokémon Replication System" machine.

Rather quickly, Mewtwo's machine makes quick work in duplicating all of the trainer's Pokémon into stronger clones for its personal use. It then recalls explaining its plan of ruling the world with cloned Pokémon under its command. And almost quickly after that, Ash comes out of the smoke that resulted from Mewtwo's machine blowing up just after cloning Mewtwo's Pokémon. Mewtwo clearly recalls Ash saying "You can't do that Mewtwo, I won't let you." After that, all of the captured Pokémon appeared from the smoke and followed behind him.

For some reason, Mewtwo can't comprehend what went on within that human's mind when Ash suddenly decided to charge at it and attempted to punch it TWICE.

On the first time, Mewtwo deflected him back with psychic energy, and onto his rear end. And on the second time, when Ash got back up and repeated his action, Mewtwo applied more force and sent him high and flying up towards a wall. However, before Ash collided with a wall, a red bubble of psychic energy caught him and cushioned his impact, before it popped and he endured a gruesome...two foot landing.

The cause of this interference was Mew, who laughs at Ash's "fall" before creating another bubble to playfully bounce on. Mewtwo easily recalled popping that bubble with SHADOW BALL, and sending a few more of those projectiles at Mew, before explaining that it was created from Mew's DNA.

Shortly after that, both Mew and Mewtwo clash in martial combat. At one point, Mewtwo's SHADOW BALL attack successfully makes contact with Mew's tiny body, causes it to squeak in pain, and sends it flying across the clouds above. The SHADOW BALL technique never dispersed after impact, due to its surprising density, and simply carried the New Species Pokémon along for the ride.

Mewtwo smiles and even chuckles at its accuracy, before Mew manages to send the attack back at its original sender. The attack proved far too fast for Mewtwo to avoid, and collides with it, causing Mewtwo to fly back and crash into its stadium's stone seats. It was clear that a serious challenge would come from this, when Mewtwo vindictively emerged from the rubble within a blue energy dome of its conjuring.

Mewtwo explains that it and its stalwart, replicated Pokémon will dominate with their superiority. Mew quickly—and unsurprisingly—disagrees and says that true power of Pokémon comes from the heart, from within, and not from genetics. In response, Mewtwo blocks the abilities of all of the Pokémon in the area with its psychic abilities, leaving itself and Mew free of this handicap, so they could fight at full force.

All of the Pokémon fight, except for Ash's Pikachu, which willingly chooses to remain pacifistic at this.

Ash, from his high perch, looks on at the carnage unfolding below. He sees Pokémon employing various methods of inflicting harm upon each other: punching, kicking, biting, head-butting, tackling, throwing, swiping, wrestling, etc. He also sees his Pikachu refusing to fight against its clone, taking blow after blow with discarded martial retaliation. Eventually, those Pokémon tire out, with Ash's Pikachu refusing to fight as is, all while Mew and Mewtwo clash their might in the sky.

Ash precariously climbs his way down the high platform structure that Mewtwo flung him onto, as the other Pokémon Trainers clamor about peace and how it's wrong to fight this way. At this point, Mew and Mewtwo descend onto the center of the stadium's arena, locking psychic energy against each other. Also, by now, the other Pokémon collapse from fatigue and stop fighting altogether.

Mew and Mewtwo hover back somewhat and prepare their might for their final attacks. And as they fire their energy at each other, Ash steps between them both, shouting at the top of his lungs for them to stop. Their attacks make contact with him in the crossfire, and quickly engulf him. Mewtwo, utterly puzzled by this, recalls calling him a fool for interfering in the attack.

When the attack fades away and the smoke clears, Ash collapses onto the floor and turns to stone.

Pikachu, being the only Pokémon that remained idle through the battles that unfolded on this arena, immediately comes to Ash's side and attempts to shock him awake. All of the other Pokémon wake up by now, and see Pikachu continue to shock a petrified Ash until it's out of energy, as well as out of hope. All of a sudden, all of the Pokémon—aside from Mew and Mewtwo—begin to cry at his sacrifice. And astonishingly, their tears manage to return Ash back to normal, much to their relief and surprise.

Mewtwo is just plain perplexed by this, how the human was willing to sacrifice his life to stop them both. And somehow, through that confusion, Mewtwo comes to understand an important lesson. It realizes the error in pitting Pokémon against each other in this way, as well as how a life is a life, regardless of the form it takes in an individual. What truly matters is what you do with your life—what Ash just demonstrated—, and not how you are born with it—which Mewtwo implied.

With this drastic change of ideals, Mewtwo takes all of the clones with it and flies away, with Mew coming alongside it. He leaves behind the message "I will never forget what conspired here today. What this has left, is best forgotten", as well as a blue aura that engulfs all of those that remain within the arena, sending them back to where they came, with their memories of these events completely obliterated.


24.2: Returning Memories

A fair amount of time past after the events that unfolded in New Island. Mewtwo, with its heart softened somewhat by the selfless example that Ash Ketchum demonstrated before it, decided to take the Pokémon clones that it had created alongside it to a safer, secluded location.

The Mew that accompanied it earlier decided to leave during this, for reasons that only it possesses, which Mewtwo believes is merely something simple as wandering around the planet as a free, playful spirit.

So now Mewtwo, with its attention fully directed to the wellbeing of its cloned Pokémon, traveled from its birth land in Kanto, all the way to the Johto region, searching for a locale that is completely secluded and away from the mixed natures of humanity.

Eventually, within the Johto region, it stumbles across the location that suited its criteria: Mt. Quena.

The geography of Mt. Quena consists of extremely steep cliffs (Purity Canyon) that surround a massive forest, a few rivers (Purity River) and a freshwater lake (Clarity Lake), all of which are placed at the very plateau of Mt. Quena. The overall location was a near-perfect natural utopia that Mewtwo decided to call home for itself and its cloned Pokémon.

Everyone settles into their new lives on Mt. Quena, with Mewtwo watching over them as their Pokémon guardian. It recalls clearly that none of them can belong to the known world because they were not born in it, which is why they all reside here in seclusion, away from humanity. All throughout this, it has two Pokémon clones—a Meowth and a Pikachu—that it seemed to spend almost all of its private time with. A logical reason behind this is because their respective archetypes, from which they were cloned from, had some part in its overall change of heart.

Later on, it notices below the cliffs of Purity Canyon, a bus driving by that suddenly rises above the ground due to an extremely strong wind that catches it from below. The bus would've easily careened off course and crashed when the wind drops it abruptly and inevitably, as well as kill anyone within the vehicle. However, Mewtwo simply catches the bus with its telekinetic abilities before the wind had a chance to carry it off, and gently sets it back onto the road, earning questionable looks from the Meowth and Pikachu clone that were beside it and watching closely. They eventually ask why Mewtwo did what it did, and it tells them why.

Later on, Mewtwo notices the human it recalls quite well, dangling from a hot-air balloon that bears the image of a Meowth. Shortly after that, it notices a small armada of balloons and helicopters, all from Team Rocket, heading over to Mt. Quena. At another point, it stops its Pikachu clone from attacking its original archetype, explaining that Team Rocket is inbound.

Team Rocket, doing what they do best, capture the Pokémon inhabiting Mt. Quena, be they originals or duplicates. Team Rocket doesn't manage to capture the clones of Meowth and Pikachu because Mewtwo interferes against its former occupation and saves them.

Giovanni quickly makes itself present before Mewtwo, and after a bit of an introduction between them, Giovanni discusses Mewtwo's return to Team Rocket, because it clearly wants Mewtwo's immense power as its own, and is clearly displeased at Mewtwo's leave.

Mewtwo bluntly says that it would sooner die than serve Giovanni again. In response to this, Giovanni unleashes two machines to combat Mewtwo. They discharge enough power to knock Mewtwo down. However, Mewtwo isn't even fazed by this, and quickly disposes both machines before they had a chance to charge up.

Giovanni is only briefly impressed by this, before deciding to make Mewtwo choose. He offers two choices, for Mewtwo to join him and return to Team Rocket, or for the water of Clarity Lake to be taken under the name of Team Rocket.

Some retaliation occurs, but Giovanni's trained subordinates simply brush it aside. Giovanni repeats his offer once more, saying for Mewtwo to submit, or else everyone will pay for its defiance.

In response to this, both of the machines that Mewtwo disposed of earlier return, without any noticeable signs of damage on them. They create an energy sphere between them, the dimensions of which are large enough to envelop Mewtwo within.

In realization that its options are limited to virtually nothing, Mewtwo gives in and steps into the energy sphere. Giovanni however, likely over some pent-up aggression towards Mewtwo's past actions on him, electrocutes Mewtwo with both of those machines so that it remains immobilized. And because he's a villain—and therefore doesn't play fair—chooses to claim Mt. Quena anyway, along with Mewtwo as a bonus.

With practically anyone who chooses to defy him either immobilized or incarcerated, Team Rocket commences with the construction of a base on Mt. Quena. However, the Bug-Type Pokémon that considers this place to be their utopia, retaliate in swarms against Team Rocket. They actually manage to greatly hinder them, by using SLEEP POWDER on some of the workers, which causes a blow torch that one of them worked with to fall into a gas tank. The explosion is forceful enough to blow the doors free where Ash and his party were held captive in, and allow them to escape.

Ash, Misty, and Brock make it to the machines that were holding Mewtwo captive, and attempt to break it free of their energized grip. They successfully did so, when Mewtwo uses every ounce of strength it has, and when Pikachu uses THUNDERBOLT on one of the machines. However, the downside to this is that Mewtwo is now incredibly weak and drained of strength. Thankfully, they decide that throwing it into the Clarity Lake is what's best for it.

On their way over however, Giovanni immediately blocks their path. In response to this, both Misty and Brock send out their Pokémon and act as a distraction, allowing Ash and Mewtwo to proceed over to the lake. Giovanni attempts to follow, but can't due to the encumbering wildlife and clones surrounding and stalling him.

As Ash helps Mewtwo towards safety, Mewtwo asks Ash why he's helping it. Ash's immediate reply to this question is that Mewtwo choice of protecting his Pikachu is one possible explanation. Of course, he also says that you don't need a sufficient reason to help someone that's in trouble, because it's practically second nature to most people to help others. Mewtwo says that Ash may be one-of-a-kind amongst human kind, but Ash says that virtually everyone is, if given the chance.

Upon arrival to Clarity Lake, Ash displays surprising strength and actually tosses Mewtwo into the lake. Mewtwo gets a few flashbacks of Mew and soliloquizes briefly as it's recovering, coming to the necessary conclusion of itself that it is Mewtwo, the one and only of its kind, and therefore a real Pokémon.

Later, in his chopper, Giovanni asks for Mewtwo. And Mewtwo, now fully recovered, appears directly in front of him and displays a phenomenal feat of its psychic powers. It creates a large beam that practically destroys everything. Clarity Lake disappears from view—when in reality, Mewtwo moved Clarity Lake and the spring underground—, and Giovanni is left fuming and furious.

Afterwards, Mewtwo contemplates erasing the memories of everybody involved in this event. However, many of them object to this. Meowth points out that the Pokémon clones need to remember their past, especially if they're to have any kind of future. Ash gives Mewtwo his word that he would keep the sanctuary's existence secret, and Brock points out that erasing memories doesn't change the fact that the events actually happened.

Mewtwo acknowledges their wisdom, and decides to only use its ability of vanquishing memories to make Giovanni, and the rest of the Team Rocket operatives, forget about Mewtwo and the clones here. Afterward, the cloned Pokémon depart on their own as they intend to lead a new life as natural Pokémon in the wild. Ash and co. fly away in a Pikachu balloon, while Jessie, James and Meowth follow suit in their normal balloon.

At a later point in time, Ash, Misty and Brock are walking through a city in their travels. At one point, Ash swears that he hears Mewtwo's voice. Unfortunately, he is uncertain whether it was real or just a lingering memory flaring within his mind. Whether he believes it to be real or not, Mewtwo can be seen standing still upon a high flagpole on top of a building, watching over from above.


24.3: Hands Full of Purpose

Time: 12:40 AM

Mewtwo, still remaining seated in a cross-legged position on the roof of one of Castelia City's tallest skyscraper, spent a fair amount of time deeply contemplating those two critical chains of memories of his earlier past. And after doing that, Mewtwo recalled what happened after those events at Mt. Quena.

Now on its own, Mewtwo simply traveled across the entire world, choosing to observe all within sight, analyzing all that it was more than capable of doing, learning how the planet works from the inside and out, from virtually every single perspective possible.

It saw the world from a human's perspective—through their cultures, habitats, and lifestyle choices—, from a Pokémon's perspective—through their habitats, instincts, and lifestyle choices—, and even from nature's perspective—through various settings, weathers, and assortment of geological wonders.

Mewtwo strongly believed that, ever since a few months ago, that it's assimilated almost all of the information it needs to understand about this planet. And with a drastic lack of new material to absorb, it now finds itself incredibly jaded of everything, with virtually nothing of apparent interest to it. In the end, it only has a select few topics to cling onto in terms of relevance, with one of them being of significant magnitude.

It ponders the idea of locating Xeno Lucario, especially since their paths have never crossed again after that faithful day, when it left Team Rocket.

If it were to begin to locate him, Mewtwo is quite sure that Xeno is no longer in Team Rocket. From what it recalls about the attributes of its former colleague, the Aura Pokémon likely escaped from Team Rocket shortly after itself, knowing well enough that he was truly capable of doing so.

However, questionable as it may seem, locating him might not be the best choice of action for the Genetic Pokémon, especially when Mewtwo recalled the details of the letter it left behind for Xeno, one paragraph in particular.

I plan on changing the world. I wish to see the roles of humanity and Pokémon swap places. The effects of this should prove interesting. The time for this to occur should be brief. And when I've successfully done so, I'll find you. For your sake, I hope that you've escaped by then.

Part of Mewtwo has doubts of returning to the Aura Pokémon when it has failed and then abandoned this idea of global domination, dismissing it eternally due to a narrow and speculative viewpoint of human nature, one acutely and irregularly shaped by the first people that it came in contact with. Mewtwo believes that it's not proper of it to return to Xeno as a failure—or at least someone who relinquished its idea—, where its viewpoint to him might be forever tarnished and irreversible.

Of course, Mewtwo also pondered the idea that Xeno himself was looking for it, obviously without success since they've yet to cross paths again.

Perhaps Xeno was fully aware of the fact that what Mewtwo foreshadowed within its letter never actually occurred. If that's the case, then Xeno would've decided to search for it. He decided to look for it directly after he'd escape from Team Rocket, filled with questions that needed answers, or a thirst of curiosity that needed quenching.

And yet…this doesn't sound like the Xeno Lucario it has once worked with, nor does it seem like the best use of his time, especially because Xeno lacked a proper lead to follow it by.

Nevertheless, Mewtwo still believes that this thought has to have at least resonated within Lucario's intricate mind at some points between then and now. If that's the case, then what would he have thought of it? Would Xeno consider it a Pokémon that never fulfilled its word? Would he think of it as worthless, someone who is unable to keep a promise, someone who's unreliable and unable to complete any task, no matter how simple it may seem?

The answers to these questions were relatively simple and instantaneous, when Mewtwo contemplated it.

Xeno Lucario is not the type of Pokémon that would immediately think this way about it, about any Pokémon, regardless of their background.

For all Mewtwo knew, Xeno could care less about what it had written years ago that never truly occurred. For all it knew, Xeno had long since forgotten the very words of that letter, and the message that Mewtwo left it before leaving Team Rocket. What he probably cared more about, more than what its thoughts that mere ink on paper explained to him, was to see his good friend Mewtwo again. That sounds more like the Xeno Lucario that it worked alongside with, someone who cared deeply about the Pokémon that it has befriended, someone that he would happily work with until the end, whatever it may be.

His good friend Mewtwo…

His good…"friend"?

The word "friend", Mewtwo pondered, isn't exactly the proper term to accurately describe their relationship. It would sooner use the words "acquaintance", "colleague", and "roommate" before the term "friend" would properly fit. Xeno likely wouldn't do the same, but Mewtwo would.

Mewtwo and Xeno Lucario… The word "Colleague" sums up their connection much better than "friend", in its opinion.

However, if the two of them aren't the best of friends—or so Mewtwo believes—, then what reason would Xeno have of looking for it anyway? The lack of a concrete lead to follow was painfully obvious when the amount of time elapsed is accounted for. This, when properly complimented with Mewtwo's choice of activities—wandering this planet Earth in solitude and assimilating all of the information in its path, seldom crossing paths with other people or Pokémon and therefore remaining enigmatic towards them—made Mewtwo virtually untraceable.

It was clear, Mewtwo believed, that Xeno did not choose to spend those years looking for it. But then, if that was true, what did Xeno choose to do?

Mewtwo, being prodigious of mind, already contemplated a plausible theory.

Xeno Lucario spent his time liberating Pokémon from Team Rocket.

Already though, Mewtwo calculated an obstacle that would occur with Xeno's actions. After the events that took place in the Main Headquarters of Team Rocket, Giovanni would've likely reinforced security against him and his heightened movement, preventing lightning from striking twice in the same spot, and making a repeat performance next to impossible without running severe repercussions.

That being said, there is another way Lucario could liberate Pokémon from Team Rocket, a method that was far easier to accomplish, much less precarious, and would even aid in inhibiting the problem before it began.

Xeno Lucario likely took it upon himself—alongside his Pokémon colleagues that are probably inseparable friends now—to train the Pokémon that he liberated from Team Rocket Main Headquarters. In doing so, he would take it upon himself to fortify the Pokémon that he liberated, while simultaneously strengthening himself and his friends in the process.

This was the better use of his time, Mewtwo believed, for the benefit of the hundreds of Pokémon that Lucario likely liberated from Team Rocket. They would all become much stronger than they ever were before, greatly reducing their chances of recapture. This would also allow them to pass on their knowledge to other Pokémon, be they close friends, eager souls, or even the next generation of Pokémon.

How much time that Xeno's monumental effort of selfless generosity would take however was unclear to Mewtwo, and would require a fair amount of calculations in its part.

If Xeno Lucario finished this monumental task of training the hundreds of Pokémon that he liberated on that faithful day over eight-and-a-half years ago, then he would've finished quite recently. Based on its calculations, which basically consisted of a herculean amount of possible and inevitable factors, alongside time variations imaginable—far too many to list, but not beyond the realms of its comprehensive abilities—, Xeno Lucario should have finished by now. He should've completed this task on the date of…

Yesterday.

If that's true then, what would Xeno wish to do next, with the Pokémon group that accompanies him?

Once again, the answer came quickly to it, once it recalled its past experiences.

Xeno Lucario, with his party of Pokémon, would return to Mt. Coronet's Spear Pillar, the site of the prophecy that Wanderer wished to decipher in its entirety. The utter vagueness of the prophecy would lure them there, where they would likely receive the answer that they've been hungering for. This is the first task that they would do, outside of "Team Liberator".

Perhaps Mewtwo should reunite with Xeno. And because it's dexterous enough to anticipate where they'd be next, it should take advantage of this prediction, before this chance abandons it.

If Mewtwo chooses to leave Castelia City, to fly from the Unova region to Mt. Coronet's Spear Pillar in the Sinnoh Region, odds are that it'd arrive in time to return to them. And when it does, the most likely outcome would be a proper reunion between them all, regardless of past actions or emotions.

Mewtwo, after a long and dedicated mental recollection and calculation, finally uncrossed its legs and got back upright and on its feet, its brown cape uncoiling from it and waving slightly in the strong winds.

It looks up at the night sky, contemplating the length of this flight journey ahead of itself. It knows that it was just past midnight, and the time it would take—by its computation—to fly from Castelia City to Mt. Coronet's summit would allow the sun to rise somewhat from the east. So if it wants to arrive to Spear Millar by morning, then it shouldn't dawdle around here any further.

Mewtwo was just about to focus its mind and power for high-speed flight, when all of a sudden…

"Are you sure you want to do that?" An authoritative, cautious voice was audible behind Mewtwo's right side. "Flying underneath this pitch-black shroud seems a little…reckless, doesn't it?"

"Don't listen to it! Go right ahead!" A wild, almost maniacal voice, audible from behind Mewtwo's left side, eerily complimented the first voice. "Fly blind across the night sky! Don't give a fu—!"

…Two voices startled it and forced it to freeze in its tracks.

"(That's…impossible…)" Mewtwo pondered with its sharp, mauve eyes opened wide. "(No one should be able to sneak up on me without being detected by me!)"

Mewtwo began to turn its body to face these two voices, ready to attack if needed. And what it saw indubitably…

"(So what exactly is behind—?)"

…Were two disembodied, hovering, white-gloved hands, one right hand and one left hand, each the size of a compact car.

Or to be more specific, one right hand manipulating one of the digits of the left hand.

"You moronic, uncontrollable, bastard! Are you already forgetting why we're here?!" The right hand attempted to correct its left hand doppelganger, by pulling the middle finger back until it was bending ninety degrees backwards.

"Heheheheh…" The left hand didn't seem to feel any pain from this at all, and found it amusing instead. "Of course not, I know exactly why we're here! You, on the other…hand, seem to be forgetting."

"…" The right hand loosened its grip enough for the left hand to squirm out of it and relax. The right hand then faced Mewtwo, to the best of its ability because of a complete lack of proper facial expression.

"…" Mewtwo just stared on at the two disembodied hands with widened eyes and a gnarled countenance, never witnessing such a bizarre sight as this in its life.

"…Oh! Uh…sorry that you had to see that…"The right hand curled up somewhat in embarrassment at letting its frustration overpower it. "I should introduce us first. My name is Master Hand."

The right hand uncurled and pointed a finger towards its somewhat obtuse counterpart.

"And the name of my left-handed brother over here is Crazy Hand."

In response to its right-handed equivalent's introduction, Crazy Hand jitters somewhat with the tips of its fingers coiled tightly inward.

Mewtwo, being a Pokémon who views logic and reason as absolute, finds the existence of both of these entities to be doubtful.

"(Did I ingest a fermented Berry reflexively and am now hallucinating these two beings?)" Mewtwo digressed in thought. "(…No. That's impossible. I would never be so insentient with such basic actions, and I'm not one to doubt my intelligence either.)"

Master Hand, taking note of Mewtwo's unwavering glare, approached the Genetic Pokémon slowly, only hovering a few feet forward, so as to appear as warm and welcoming as possible, without stirring any unnecessary martial conflict.

"You seem puzzled by the two of us. It's written all over your pale face." Master Hand said. "Is it our presence that disquiets you?"

Mewtwo's countenance unraveled ever so slightly at the disembodied right gloved hand. "In its entirety," It assures them. "Two hovering anomalies that are capable of telepathic speech and levitation—despite an apparent lack of proper cranial and cerebral placement or presence from what I can detect—stand before me on an unknown agenda, one that I've yet to decipher."

"…" The intellect that Mewtwo emanated from its sophisticate vocabulary and word choice astounded the Embodiment of Creation.

"And that's only the surface of the ocean of this logical dilemma that your presence has created for me." Mewtwo added.

Crazy Hand, jittering slightly before stepping forward and directly adjacent of Master Hand, decides to chime in on this conversation.

"Do you find the two of us…frightening?!" Crazy Hand stiffens itself in the shape of a hand that bears claws.

Master Hand, in immediate response to this, drops onto the floor of the roof of this building and taps its fingers on it in annoyance. It knew from brotherly experience where this was heading, and simply waited for this moment to pass.

"No." Mewtwo stated bluntly.

Crazy Hand relaxes itself and then suddenly curls up into a fist and launches itself over to Mewtwo's face, stopping mere inches from popping Mewtwo in the nose.

"How about now?" It said confidently.

Mewtwo's heart rate didn't jump a beat, and it didn't even blink at the Embodiment of Destruction's childish stunt. Its eyes, glued at the pallid knuckles of Crazy Hand, simply relaxed somewhat at this idiotic behavior. Its brown cape only fluttered somewhat by the thrust of air that Crazy Hand was responsible for. "No…" Mewtwo muttered in a softer volume, but with equal bluntness in its tone of voice.

As a last attempt, Crazy Hand spontaneously backed off at an upward angle, causing itself to rise about a few times higher in the air. Then, it opened itself fully horizontally, with its palm facing directly down, before slamming the roof floor of the building with a snapping slap of sound, embedding itself a couple of inches into the impression that it made on the cement.

"…" Mewtwo, without expressing its emotions externally, waited for this tedious moment to pass as badly as Master Hand did.

Crazy Hand, lying motionless on its imprint, silently listened to the rhythmic drumming that Master Hand's fingers made on the gravel from a few feet to its right side, imagining them to be a drum roll that increased the attention and excitement of this next act.

Before Mewtwo's eyes, Crazy Hand suddenly displayed an impressive feat of flexibility, by bending all five of its fingers about seventy degrees upward and off of the ground.

Mewtwo's face, albeit rigid and unmoving, concealed its true thoughts on this stunt.

"Double-jointed fingers…" Mewtwo began. "Interesting, but by no means disturbing to me."

In defeat, Crazy Hand coiled into a fist and hammered itself on the roof once in frustration before relaxing. "Damn it! You're no fun."

With no apparent warning, Master Hand suddenly rises from its stagnancy and brushes Crazy Hand away, causing its left hand parallel to roll onto its "back". All Crazy Hand does in response to this is laugh somewhat and relax.

"Alright, enough of this. You've digressed enough." Master Hand said to its brother before facing Mewtwo. "I sincerely apologize for my brother's behavior."

"Apology accepted," Mewtwo understood and responded quickly. "Its constitution is in its name, after all."

Mewtwo briefly eyed Crazy Hand and noticed that it was wiggling its fingers and chuckling somewhat as it was "belly up" after Master Hand brushed it aside.

Mewtwo's eyes homed back onto Master Hand. "By any chance, did it ever suffer any mental injuries during early development—assuming there is any sort of organ structure within you both that even minutely resembles a brain?"

Master Hand briefly glimpsed at its brother and took note of its actions. "…You could say that." It responded vaguely before facing the Genetic Pokémon. "But that's not important right now. What is important is our reason for being here before you."

Mewtwo was completely attentive to this ethereal right-handed white glove, and crossed its arms before it, waiting for its response.

Master Hand took a few seconds to pause and ponder the right words to say, before stating its purpose here straightforwardly.

"My brother and I are hosting a tournament of highly skilled fighters that inhabit virtually every corner of this universe." Master Hand said. "Our competition is being held on another planet, a remote one, millions of light years away from here, and we've come here to personally invite you to participate in our concourse of champions."

The word "tournament" didn't stick to it mind as well as the words "another planet" and "universe" did. The mere mention that there was other planets—that there was extraterrestrial wisdom beyond the confines of Earth—for it to take its time to study and understand, that was what interested Mewtwo more than a simple martial tournament, where the likely outcome was effortless victory in its part due to its incredible telekinetic abilities.

However, before it began to grow further curious at this opportunity, its better judgment—fueled from past experiences—flared within its mind. Mewtwo was not an idiotic Magikarp that would clamp its feeble jaws on the cheap lure of an Old Rod on the first chance that it had, and knew now how to smell a trap before it was sprung or even contemplated by its enemy.

This elevated distrust to the alluring requests of others was likely elevated a notch by the negative actions of a certain man: The Boss of Team Rocket, Giovanni. Because of this, even after Mewtwo contemplated the pros of expanding its wisdom beyond this tellurian biosphere, it felt as though this was a path that would be reluctantly repeated again. The potential cons of imprisonment and slavery to these two hands—their overall strength an enigma to it—illuminated stalwartly within the recesses of Mewtwo's mind, and kept its curiosity on a tight leash.

"As tempting as this offer is," Mewtwo said before uncrossing its arms, turning its back, facing its brown cloak at Master Hand, and then walking over to the edge of the building to prepare to fly away. "I'll have to decline, due to my past experiences in these types of positions."

Master Hand anticipated this and knew exactly what to say here. "Are you referring to your first meeting with the Team Rocket Boss Giovanni?"

Mewtwo stopped abruptly and stiffened its face when it felt its internal organs tighten uncomfortably at the sound of Master Hand's telepathic speech. It quickly did an about face to face Master Hand, its brown cloak waving in the wind before shifting behind its body. "What did you just say?!" The genetic Pokémon muttered before returning to its earlier spot.

"Your 'partnership' with that man Giovanni," Master Hand twitched its first two fingers and air quoted at muttering that dubious relationship between Giovanni and Mewtwo. "You eventually escaped from him and abandoned Team Rocket altogether when he cockily told you of what he genuinely saw in you, that you were created from a laboratory to serve him and benefit his criminal organization."

Mewtwo, able to keep track of the times where it was rendered utterly dumbfounded due to how infrequently it occurs to it, adds another line to its mental tally. "And how in Arceus's name do you know that?!"

Crazy Hand decided to roll back onto its palm, before creeping on the ground as if it were a Caterpie, by hunching the back of its body forward, and then the front of its body forward. It approached Mewtwo and tapped it a few times in the foot with its index finger.

Both Master Hand and Mewtwo, for the wellbeing of their sanity, simply disregarded this behavior as quickly as it noticed it.

"We've been observing you for some time, during critical moments in your life." Crazy Hand let the truth come out without worry. "We've observed your destruction of the laboratory from which you were born, your first meeting with Giovanni of Team Rocket, your time with that virtuous dark-furred Lucario that Giovanni nicknamed Xeno, your eventual departure from Team Rocket, your brief attempt at global supremacy at New Island, as well as your selfless actions on Mt. Quena."

How both of these hands were able to monitor it so closely bothered the Genetic Pokémon. Master Hand, observant as it was, could see that perplexity written all over its rigid face.

"If you must know," Master Hand added. "The reason as to why we remained undetected to your telekinetic radar is because the both of us possess some proficiency in psychic abilities. Mind you, we're nowhere near the level that you're at. However, for us, it's enough to allow us to communicate telepathically, fly and levitate, as well as camouflage ourselves from your extrasensory perception. And that's merely scratching the surface of our might."

Mewtwo only found this mildly interesting, and figured that the only reason for spying on it was so that they could observe its strengths and pit it against other opponents to see how well it would perform.

However, it held firm in its choice of action, and decided to repeat that assertion.

"My response you're your invitation is unchanging," Mewtwo stated. "I respect your effort and your time invested onto me, but I'm declining this offer, and I'll be taking my leave now."

Mewtwo once again turned its back on Master Hand and proceeded over to the edge of the building. The right hand, however, was still attempting to have Mewtwo change its mind.

"Mewtwo, I understand that because of your lingering distrust and spite over Giovanni, that your judgment on my offer is clouded and premature."

Mewtwo simply ignored Master Hand's feeble effort at persuasion, and stopped when it was at the edge of the building, where one more step forward would make contact with nothing but air.

"But I must ask of you—beg of you even—to reconsider and accept! This offer is far more important than you realize!"

Mewtwo rolled its eyes and groaned slightly at hearing how Master Hand was begging it to reconsider, when it had already declined the invitation and dropped the topic onto the floor. And now that the topic had shattered, they were still lamenting over the broken pieces.

With the power of its mind, Mewtwo began to hover off of the ground, its feet no longer touching the ground and supporting its weight. However, before Mewtwo could hover high enough into the sky to break the sound barrier, two more entities appeared directly in front of it, darting across the air at high speed to cut it off of its path.

One of them was the red Eon Pokémon Latias, and the other was the blue Eon Pokémon Latios.

"Stop right there, Mewtwo." Latios spoke with mild irritation. "For someone as smart as you, you're being awfully stupid about this. You're delaying this unnecessarily, letting your past experiences shroud your better judgment."

Latias added the truth to the matter, and didn't allow its feeling to get in the way, unlike its blunt brother. "Those two are the first steps to the path of your destiny."

Mewtwo, setting aside the fact that it couldn't sense these two Pokémon approaching it either—just like with both Master Hand and Crazy Hand—, simply decided to focus on what Latias had said earlier. "It is my 'destiny' to go with them? Could you be more…specific?" Mewtwo said with the slightest hint of doubt still lingering within its telepathic voice.

Both Eon Pokémon waste no time in saying what needs to be said.

"A great crisis will eventually make itself known in the incoming future." Latios said, barely leaving any time to pause between its words.

"The forces involved that are going to counteract this looming crisis—the three of us, alongside Xeno and its comrades, just to name a few—are already beginning to initiate their places in this overall plan." Latias added, highlighting those already involved.

"Whether you wish to be a part of this or not, you are needed." Latios continued. "And those two hands behind you are your guides, which you are mistakenly choosing to abandon."

Mewtwo, understanding now that this is all part of a similar agenda instead of a potential lure, hovers down and back onto the floor of the roof. When its feet once again touch a solid surface, it turns around and faces both Master Hand and Crazy Hand.

Both hands—Crazy Hand in particular—were now hovering alongside each other, one being relaxed and the other being…fidgety.

Mewtwo finds them all difficult to trust, and faces Latias and Latios once more, two Pokémon that it distrusts less. Both Pokémon hovered down to Mewtwo's level of height, possessing facial expressions that suggested that they're trustworthy.

Mewtwo disregarded this when it pondered one question that needed an answer.

"Who are you all working for?"

Both Latias and Latios simply looked at each other with concerned, uneasy faces, and contemplated if they should remain tight-lipped on the matter or not.

Both Master Hand and Crazy Hand remained as they were, proficiently shrouding any signs of emotions—mostly because they don't have faces to display them with.

Mewtwo briefly looked at both hands and then at the Eon Pokémon duo once more, seeing more of a psychological response from them rather than a pair of white-gloved hands. It ponders the reason behind their dispositions, and quickly formulated a logical hypothesis.

Their faces were mild signs of submissiveness, which Mewtwo believed to be the result of their superior. Their superior must possess great power, either benevolent or malicious power which may or may not have a great influence on their overall wellbeing, depending on their actions and their ability to follow orders. Their faces suggested that in telling the identity of their superior, they may be either disobeying an order, or unsure if the inquiry should be addressed or not with the orders that they've been given.

Regardless of that however, Mewtwo's undeniable acumen already allowed it to perfectly identify their leader.

"We…" Latias stammered heavily, unsure if it should even say anything on the matter or not. "We both…work…for…"

"Arceus, the Original One," Mewtwo said with absolute certainty.

Both of the Eon Pokémon looked at the Genetic Pokémon with widened eyes, unsure as to how it knew the name of their superior so quickly, and on the first guess.

"The answer should be obvious because even powerful Pokémon, such as the two of you, have some lingering fear of Its greater power." Mewtwo stated.

Both Pokémon showed mild faces of admiration over the keen insight that Mewtwo possessed.

"So, this impending crisis is great enough for even Arceus Itself to be involved in." Mewtwo said.

"That's just about the truth of the matter." Latios confirmed Mewtwo's statement.

"Well then," Mewtwo turned around and proceeded closer over to the hand duo before it, facing the two of them with a sliver of trust, just enough for it to say this. "I suppose I should just comply with your logic, and enter this tournament that the two of you are hosting."

Both hands, showing their gratitude over Mewtwo's acceptance, actually gave the Genetic Pokémon two thumbs up.

Mewtwo, from what it observed of human behavior, believes that this action is a display of pride over the choices of others. However, Mewtwo is extremely shallow in terms of emotions, and finds this somewhat unnecessary.

"Before you depart with them though," Latias said. "There's just one more matter to attend to."

Mewtwo faced the red Eon Pokémon. "And what would that be?"

"A companion," Latios continued, "someone to guide you through their tournament, who knows already how it works."

Mewtwo shows some curiosity to this matter, and turned to face the hand duo once again. "Who did you two have in mind?"

"A Pokémon who has some experience with the first tournament that we held," Master Hand began.

"'First tournament'?" Mewtwo's face suggested this question.

"Oh, that's right! We never mentioned to you that the tournament we're invited you to is our second one." Master Hand admitted before returning to the main topic. "Anyway, this Pokémon that will accompany you—though it never actually participated in our first tournament as a fighter—has some experience with our first tournament because it was indirectly a part of it. And because it enjoyed itself in our first tournament, it was more than willing to return for our second tournament."

"And who is this Pokémon that you're referring to?" Mewtwo waited for the answer.

"You actually already know this Pokémon," Crazy Hand said, "because the two of you have a strong history together."

Mewtwo only had to ponder the identity of this Pokémon for a couple of seconds before the blood drained from its face and down its first and "second" neck.

"Hello, Macro Mew!" A charming and borderline-obnoxious voice was audible before Mewtwo's ears.

Almost instantaneously, the source of that adorable voice hovered over directly in front of Mewtwo, making its presence known to the Eon Pokémon duo, to the hand duo, and especially to the Genetic Pokémon.

Before Mewtwo's eyes, it sees a bipedal, miniscule, and pink Pokémon, with extremely fine fur that is virtually unnoticeable to the naked eye and to the touch. It possesses a long and lean tail that ends in a rounded tip. Its paws have stubby, three-fingered digits that are on equally stubby arms. Its feet, in contrast, are very large in comparison to its body, and possess oval-like markings nearby the three toes on each foot. Finally, it possesses triangular ears and soft blue eyes.

All too well from its past experiences, Mewtwo knows that the Pokémon that would accompany it in this new voyage would be Mew.

(National Pokédex entry #151: Mew, the New Species Pokémon. It is a Psychic-Type Pokémon that measures in at 1' 04" and weighs in at 8.8 lbs. Because it can use all kinds of moves, many scientists believe Mew to be the ancestor of Pokémon. However, the better hypothesis from scientists is that it possessed the DNA of every single Pokémon within itself.)

"…" Mewtwo just stared at its biological Pokémon archetype, concealing its overall emotions and thoughts on Mew within its mind and away from its face.

Mew stared at Mewtwo all the same, only with curiosity and friendliness in its clean little heart.

"Looks like we'll be spending a lot of time together on this new tournament," Mew said with adorable glee. "Hopefully, our past clash on abandoned ideas won't get in the way of our path to becoming good friends."

"…" Mewtwo still stared blankly at the New Species Pokémon, apparently immune by its unbelievable charm.

Mew, for no apparent reason aside from simply being cute and cuddly, flipped itself upside down to look at its dark genetic double from a different perspective, before flipping itself back upright and giggling somewhat.

Mewtwo's eyes narrowed slightly on the New Species Pokémon before it muttered telepathically.

"Just…don't get in my way." It said hollowly.

Mew only smiled at this. "Is that all? That's easy as pie."

That last word—that last magical three-letter word that Mew mentioned—caused Latias's face to drop and saliva to drip down its mouth.

"Mmm…pie…" Latias trailed off.

Before Mewtwo's eyes, Mew disappeared from view, only to place itself directly on top of Mewtwo's head. Its upper body rested between the stubby, horn-like ears that Mewtwo possessed, while the extended feet of its lower half rested on Mewtwo's shoulders. Its tail even found support on Mewtwo's being, in the form of wrapping itself around Mewtwo's "second neck" a couple of times.

"I'll just remain right here on the top of your head," Mew chimed happily, "out of sight, and out of your way."

Mewtwo knew from past experiences that Mew was the type of Pokémon that would cuddle up to you if it so much as develops a friendship with you, regardless of whether you like Mew or not. From this, Mewtwo already knew that Mew was already growing attached to it—and not just from its present physical standpoint—and would only grow from here.

Mewtwo briefly fantasized how others would view their relationship, as well as their personality traits that complement each other so well. Others would see Mew, a Pokémon that is joyful, lovable, and emanating kindness with every movement, hanging out with it, a Pokémon that is stagnant, serious, and emanating a surplus of intellect.

This uncanny combination and complementation of opposing emotional and mental traits reminded Mewtwo of a couple of other figures that were present nearby them.

Master Hand and Crazy Hand, as well as Latias and Latios.

Mewtwo ogled the hand duo first, noticing quite clearly their dispositions based on their emotional traits. Crazy Hand's fingers were constantly dancing alongside each other, unwilling to stop anytime soon. Master Hand's fingers were curled up somewhat within itself, twitching ever so slightly if observed closely enough. With Mewtwo's incredible sense of acuity, it could clearly see that Crazy Hand was a carefree spirit, uncaring of whatever trouble it might get itself into. It also noticed that Master Hand was forced to carry the encumbrance and responsibility of its brother's actions, alongside its own.

Next, Mewtwo ogled both a distracted Latias and an annoyed Latios—hesitating somewhat on Latias when it caught a glimpse of its dopey, dribbling expression. For the most part, their personality traits are mostly similar to those of Master Hand and Crazy Hand, down to how one of them can drive the other crazy. However, they do have some noticeable differences when compared to the hand duo. The biggest difference from Latios when compared to Master Hand is that Latios absolutely despises digression, where its short temper overcomes its emotions when it gets even partially impatient. From Latios's sister's perspective, it is wise as Latios, albeit easily unfocused by materialistic items that deeply fascinate it. The biggest of which is the humble pie, a man-made food dish whose variety of flavors and styles shake Latias's constitution to the core.

Mewtwo can't help but ponder how unusual this "magnetic" attraction of positive and negative emotions is, as well as how automatically it has gotten itself into it. Perhaps it's for the best in terms of keeping Mewtwo occupied, depending on Mew's behavior.

It suddenly decides to make like Latios and return to the main topic rather than make like Latias, and digress without a moment's notice.

Mewtwo talked to the blue Eon Pokémon. "These future events that you've stated before," Mewtwo began. "Where does Xeno Lucario and its colleagues fall into this?"

"Arceus already has them covered." Latios assured the Genetic Pokémon. "And if everything goes as intended, you and your friends will reunite when it matters the most."

…Friends?

Apparently, Mewtwo alone feels the need to unnecessarily downgrade its relationship with Xeno.

"I understand." Mewtwo says plainly before facing away from the Eon Pokémon duo for the final time, and locking eyes with the hand duo once more. "Mew and I are ready to leave this planet whenever the two of you are."

"As you wish…" Master Hand began, before hovering over to Mewtwo's left side.

"…Genetic Pokémon," Crazy Hand ended, before hovering over to Mewtwo's right side.

Mewtwo—alongside the Mew that perched itself on top of its head—looked at both open hands with bewilderment, unsure as to why they placed themselves in such a way where a simple clap between them can…

"You know what's coming now," Mew told Mewtwo, "but don't move a muscle."

Mewtwo simply closed its eyes and bowed its head down in defeat.

"(*Sigh*) Oh fu—"

CLAP!

Both Master Hand and Crazy Hand clasped their hands—their entire bodies—together, with both Mew and Mewtwo between them. However, instead of harming—or perhaps crushing—both the Genetic Pokémon and the New Species Pokémon, all four of them became something else entirely.

The four of them, under the unknown abilities of both hands, suddenly transformed into pure white energy, a bright ball of light that could be seen so easily in the night sky by the human populace below, were it not for the camouflage of the other thousands of lights that the city produced in excess.

Before the eyes of both of the Eon Pokémon, this ball of pure energy suddenly rocketed upward, breaking the speed of light in a split second. It soared into the night sky, into the starry landscape, into the cosmos, all in mere seconds. All that remained on the roof of this building in Castelia City was a disappointed Latias and a successful Latios.

"We're done here," Latios said with a small smile. "We should return to Arceus now and—"

"(*Sigh*)" Latias continued to look up at the night sky, where the four of them involved in this tournament traveled across.

Latios approaches its sister with brotherly curiosity. "Is something the matter?"

Latias suddenly jerked its head to Latios upon hearing it speak. "Huh? Oh. I was just pondering…" It looked back up at the sable horizon that surrounded this planet. "…how I would've loved to enter that tournament of theirs."

Latios, not normally a Pokémon who agrees with its sister, embraces the rare moment where it is in full agreement with its Eon Pokémon counterpart. It mimics its sister's actions and looks up at the night sky as well, eyeing no trace of the four of them whatsoever. "I actually wouldn't mind entering that tournament myself."

"Do you think there will be a next time?" Latias inquired. "Will they host a third tournament after this one that they've put Mewtwo in?"

"Well…they said that that was their second ever tournament." Latios speculated. "Odds are that they'll continue hosting other tournaments from here. And maybe, if we have the time to, we could enter in it."

Both Eon Pokémon faced each other and grinned, Latias grinning more than its brother.

"That's very reassuring." Latias said with its teeth exposed from its smile.

Latios, not the type of Pokémon that emanated its emotions so brilliantly, simply nodded at its sister. "We should return to Arceus now to report what we've done."

"Okay, but can we pick up some pie while we're here?" Latias was shaking its body with glee, its stubby tail waving left to right with the motion of its body. "Mew brought up that mystical three-letter word, and I've been holding onto that topic since. It honestly won't be hard of me to get one. I'll just transform into one of those human females and purchase one from one of the bakeries below us."

Latios's smile disappeared at this recurring problem, and it rolled its eyes. "Honestly, Latias… How you haven't gotten sick of those human-made dishes—let alone, gotten fat from them—is as much a mystery to us as what's to come in the distant future."


24.4: Dragons Full of Order

Location: Mt. Coronet (Spear Pillar)

Date: April 2nd, 2019

Time: 12:04 PM (Noon)

Within the summit of Mt. Coronet, the three Deities of the Sinnoh Region—Dialga, Giratina, and Palkia—stood facing the entrance of Spear Pillar. The site where the rift they made earlier—where Dialga threw Xeno Lucario into—no longer existed once they ceased to fuel it out of their combined powers.

All that remained were Lucario's party of twelve Pokémon, frozen in time, with their present monochrome coloring proof of Dialga's earlier influence.

All three of them turned their massive bodies around and looked down to face these twelve Pokémon that Xeno holds dear to his heart.

Both Giratina and Palkia face Dialga. But before they asked it to use its powers to reset them back in time, they paid full attention to the injury that Dialga sustained earlier from its brief struggle with Xeno.

"That injury you've sustained hasn't stopped bleeding yet," Giratina noticed, eyeing briefly the blood that dripped down to the floor a few times out of the minute.

"You haven't healed it yourself yet?" Palkia suggested.

Dialga could feel the full extent of the injury that Xeno's FORCE PALM left on the right side of its face, directly between its right eye and the right side of its lower jaw. It could feel that its flesh had torn considerably there, not necessarily down to the bone, just deep into the skin at some points. The blood still dribbled from this wound and onto the floor, only having coagulated in some places, a sign that it's already healing well.

"It's only a scratch," Dialga spoke seriously and truthfully. "An injury like this is nowhere near enough to topple time."

Dialga quickly eyed Lucario's assorted party of Pokémon, whom still remained frozen under the Temporal Pokémon's incredible chronological abilities.

"I won't let this minute inconvenience stop me from accomplishing our mission. I'll reset their time now, and feign nothingness of this injury before them." Dialga looked at both Giratina and Palkia. "Are the two of you ready?"

Both Pokémon eyed Xeno's temporally stagnant party of Pokémon, ready as they'll ever be.

"Good." Dialga muttered one word before doing the same.

The Temporal Pokémon effortlessly began to emanate aura within the diamond on the center of its chest plate. In doing so, all that it had to do was focus on the party of twelve Pokémon with its eyes. And with its power over time, the monochrome coloring that engulfed the twelve of them vanished, along with their place frozen in time.

All twelve of them are forced to take a moment to adjust to what occurred before they were frozen in time and after. To them, it was as if their memory had skipped, and they were unable to recollect what occurred in between.

However, they were all very quick in recollecting themselves, and immediately noticed the presence of the three Pokémon Deities of the Sinnoh Region: the Temporal Pokémon Dialga, the Renegade Pokémon Giratina, and the Spacial Pokémon Palkia.

"What the hell what that all about?!" Tyranitar, hot-blooded at their actions, was first to speak its mind.

"What did you just do to us?!" Luxray followed suit.

Dialga wasn't even fazed by their spite. "I simply used my temporal abilities to prevent any unnecessary interference from the twelve of you."

For the Pokémon in the group that placed logic over anger, they looked at the scenery of Spear Pillar, noticing quickly that something was missing.

"Where's…Giovanni?" Aggron droned an inquiry.

"He was here moments ago," Dusknoir recalled.

"But now he's nowhere to be seen," Metang's red, robotic eyes detected no trace of human presence anywhere.

"I'm responsible for that, actually." Palkia spoke up amongst the Pokémon.

"Did you do something to him?" Charizard responded.

"I did, actually." Palkia showed the slightest hints of a smile and satisfaction on its face. "I bitch slapped him over the horizon with my tail."

"Was he even a threat to you?" Aqua Lapras wondered.

"With my abilities, he was no more threatening than a Magikarp flopping in the water." Palkia said smugly.

Some of the other Pokémon in the party notice Xeno's complete absence from Mt. Coronet's Spear Pillar.

"What happened to Xeno?" Terra Garchomp said, scanning its surroundings with its incredibly acute sense of vision. "I don't see it anywhere."

Wanderer Lucario quickly activates its Aura Vision ability and scans the entire area surrounding it, disregarding the aura that its comrades were emanating, as well as that of the three Pokémon Deities of the Sinnoh Region.

"I don't detect its aura either. It's no longer present in Spear Pillar." Wanderer said before disengaging its ability.

Giratina responds to this straightforwardly, without any need to conceal the truth. "We sent it to another dimension, under our combined attributes of dimensional transportation, space, and time."

The truthfulness of the Renegade Pokémon silenced most of Xeno's party. The only Pokémon that didn't seem surprised by this was Absol, only because its senses were hinting it of something that Giratina didn't tell them yet, or was leading up to.

"I can smell Xeno's blood within this area," Absol detected. "There are also traces of hemorrhaging on the stone floor."

All three Pokémon deities swiveled their eyes over to the blood stains that were present nearby them, never considering the thought that this could give enough evidence for them to speculate what occurred during their frozen state in time.

However, they knew well enough that they shouldn't try to conceal this anyway, because the three of them were given simple orders to be truthful to Xeno's party of Pokémon, while simultaneously being vague about certain delicate topics.

"How do you know its Xeno's blood?" Combusken decided to ask the Disaster Pokémon.

The irrelevance of asking a question with such an obvious answer caused Absol's solitary right eye to close halfway. "My Arceus, Combusken… Do you really need to waste your breath asking me how I know this?" Absol faced the Young Fowl Pokémon with its serious countenance and a tone of voice to match. "I can distinguish the blood of a Lucario from that of any other Pokémon, because my past experience has burdened me with the ability to do so. Do you still remember that, when I explained my back-story to the group, when I explained how I used to vindictively murder any and every Aura Pokémon and Emanation Pokémon that I could find?"

Both Sceptile and Wanderer Lucario, being the only two Pokémon that shared this bitter experience amongst this group of twelve Pokémon, seemed to express the biggest physical response from Absol's past out of everybody else. The two of them closed their eyes and vividly recalled those events.

They remembered that it began with finding Xeno Lucario as a Riolu infant, targeted by Absol, who wished to kill it in battle when it fully matured. Both Sceptile and Tiny—now deceased—trained Xeno to be able to defeat Absol, and prevent any further massacres from occurring. Wanderer travelled far—from Sinnoh's Snowpoint City to Kanto's Celadon Forest—to view this battle first-hand, alongside hundreds of other spectator Pokémon that received word of this occurrence, not knowing that its old friend Sceptile was there. During the battle, Absol explained that its actions were fueled from vengefulness, caused by its parents dying against other Lucario over territory. And in the end of the battle, Xeno Lucario killed Absol, which is now known to be false because it is within their party today, as a repented Disaster Pokémon.

Combusken didn't appear to be deterred by Absol's indirect affront at its strength of reminiscence. "So I didn't experience those dark actions first-hand. It's easy of me to overlook them."

Before Absol could argue over its personal past with Combusken, their time was up.

"Just drop that topic already," Sceptile hissed at them in mild annoyance. "We shouldn't be digressing now, especially in front of these three Pokémon."

"Your friend speaks the truth." Dialga responded. "We haven't even told you about the resistance that Xeno put up against us."

All of the Pokémon loaned their ears—or their ability to hear without ears—towards the Temporal Pokémon.

"Xeno wasn't willing to go at first, only because its instincts acted first with violence rather than reason." Palkia explained.

"And that's only because I decided to freeze you twelve in time so that we could direct our full attention on it." Dialga added.

"It viewed both Dialga and I as enemies…" Palkia continued.

"…In an effort to remove my chronological abilities from you all." Dialga mimicked.

"Dialga had to bend time in its favor to flank Xeno and clamp down on its torso with its stalwart jaws in order to restrain it."

"However, Xeno proved resilient enough to detonate a FORCE PALM on the right side of my face, from pointblank range."

Now Xeno's party of Pokémon listening to this conversation knew how Dialga received that bloody injury.

"The pain of it all caused Dialga to reflexively clench its jaws, injuring Xeno forcibly and suddenly enough to cause it to fall unconscious." Palkia pointed out.

"Xeno was now subdued within my jaws in a manner I didn't originally intend." Dialga said.

Giratina, having waited patiently for the moment where it comes in, explains the rest of their involvement.

"I arrived here directly afterward." Giratina concluded. "The three of us, with our respective abilities combined for one task, created a warp in dimensions, space, and time, one where Xeno had to be transported to for urgent reasons. Dialga threw Xeno into that warp, and we closed it off, just before we knew our task was accomplished and Dialga chose to retune you back in time."

A few seconds passed for Lucario's party of Pokémon to assimilate the information that they heard. And when they did so, they all immediately formed a battle stance, showing reasonable spite over the fact that they took their leader away from them, and that Dialga injured Xeno, regardless if it was unintentional or not.

Both Palkia and Giratina were quick to support Dialga's choice of actions.

"There's no need for violence before us," Palkia began. "Xeno's injury is mild, and nothing that it can't recover from."

"There are reasons for our choice of actions as well," Giratina attempted to calm them down. "If you can just hear us out, then you'll understand what we did."

All twelve of Xeno's party of Pokémon relaxed somewhat, but still remained alert and on standby, in case they didn't like what they were about to hear.

Seeing this occur, both Dialga and Palkia walked back a few steps, knowing that this was Giratina's part now. Dialga, deciding that this was the best time to tend to its wound, focused its temporal abilities on the right side of its face, in order to drastically increase the rate at which its cells can rejuvenate and heal. From Palkia's perspective, it could see Dialga's flesh sealing off and healing at an alarmingly fast rate, one that was traceable by vision alone.

Giratina locked its eyes onto the pillar with the prophecy inscribed on it. And because it was the only one of the deity trio in possession of reasonable telekinetic abilities, used PSYCHIC to reconstruct it back to its original shape, in a matter of seconds.

All of the Pokémon once again noticed this same pillar held in shape by Giratina's PSYCHIC. Wanderer Lucario, having read the prophecy already alongside Xeno and assimilated its words as truth, could already feel the great weight of this situation, and begin to understand why these three Pokémon did what they did earlier.

"As one of few Pokémon that has learned the archaic language of the Unown," Giratina began, before using its telekinetic abilities to lift that pillar, and place it directly in front of Wanderer, careful in setting it on the floor so as to not damage it any more than it already was. "Translate the prophecy inscribed on this pillar once more, and recite it to your friends, so that they take this truth to heart and share in what you're feeling."

Wanderer, feeling its body react to this pressing matter in the form of shallow breathing and a harder heartbeat, simply nodded at Giratina and then eyed the inscription on the pillar before it. "It shall be bestowed with the key to unlocking the true potential of Pokémon. It shall be the catalyst to shattering the limit of four moves. It shall know unfathomable power that will rival the Original One. It shall prevent the world from falling into the Void of the Dark One."

Wanderer's colleagues did as Giratina said and were in fact taking this prophecy to heart. In doing so, they all realize that it is clearly mentioning Xeno Lucario, for no other Pokémon in existence or that comes to mind—not any common variety Pokémon, not any Legendary Pokémon, not even the Original One Arceus—perfectly fits into this prophecy as well as he does.

Xeno knew this instinctively when he read the prophecy for the first time in his life, and Giovanni eventually knew that as well, after witnessing the Aura Pokémon's potential first-hand—when Xeno was under his iron fist as an Admin of Team Rocket—and establishing that connection in time.

Giratina, as a last act of its telekinesis, set the pillar back in its original location, and fragmented the pillar's broken pieces back on the floor, gently so as to not crumble it any further than it is already.

"All we did for Xeno was guide it in its destiny," Giratina said. "Its path of the aura, you could say."

Dialga, with its face fully healed by its abilities to manipulate time, stepped forward alongside Palkia and remained directly beside Giratina. "We sent it to the world where the Void of the Dark One will originate."

"What kind of world is it?" Aqua Lapras asked curiously.

Palkia decides to explain this world, but in brief and with only the core details. "Put simply, it's a world that is parallel to this one. The only two differences between that world and ours is its placement in time, as well as its wildlife."

"…Such as?" Aggron muttered, curious as everybody else is, and wanting a bit more detail on this topic.

"That world is set about two millennia…in the past." Dialga said, in its element with the topic of time.

"The natural wildlife that inhabits that parallel world, when compared to this one, consists of powerless, plain creatures." Palkia continued, "None of which come close to us in terms of supernatural abilities."

"And yet…" Giratina concluded. "We sent Xeno Lucario, the Pokémon of Prophecy that you twelve know as your close friend, your benevolent leader, and your righteous moral archetype, to that new world, regardless of its choice in the matter or not. Because if we didn't, then, the urgent matters that are growing by the second on that world will eventually consume it, spread across that universe and our own, towards us, and obliterate anything and everything that is worth protecting."

All of the Pokémon that listened to these telepathic words were beginning to understand this pressing matter, as well as the obvious sense of urgency that these three Pokémon deities were emanating.

However, the choice of actions overall was still a bit difficult for them to accurately grasp. They still had a few questions about this topic, one of them being…

"Why weren't all of us sent alongside Xeno?!" Tyranitar asked brashly. "Whatever this 'Dark One' is, I'm sure we can all brawl with—I especially—alongside Xeno as a team."

The deity trio knew that this was one of many questions that would be unearthed at some point during this conversation. And when so much as one of them was mentioned, they felt as though the best action to take against this was to answer the question truthfully, as well as gravely, so that no premature assumptions or reckless actions would follow.

Giratina dropped its head to Tyranitar's height and looked at it square in the eye with a somber facial expression, one that suggested that you should think twice about your actions and act carefully when you initiate them.

"As all twelve of you stand, you're out of your league and asking for a guaranteed death if you so much as foolishly believe that your present strength is capable of matching that of the Dark One." Giratina spoke at Tyranitar's face, but was targeting everybody with its concrete word choice. "To Him, you're all nothing more than beached Magikarp flopping on the ground. No, wait, I'm wrong. You're all less than that at the moment. At least a flopping Magikarp will last longer, because it doesn't possess a pugilistic drive."

All of the Pokémon felt themselves sink a bit to the ground after hearing Giratina's honest opinion on their present state of being. Tyranitar however, felt as though it could still speak its mind on the matter, prove to Giratina—as well as both Dialga and Palkia—wrong.

Luckily, the Armor Pokémon had a surplus of martial experience to flawlessly distinguish when and when not to fight, even if it conflicts with its natural tendencies to crave martial combat. It still knew when an enemy was feeble enough to fell, or strong enough to obliterate.

That being said, Giratina's honest response of the matter did raise a question to another one of the Pokémon.

"Would you three fare any better?" Metang inquired.

All three Legendary Pokémon expected this question once more and responded with a downhearted "No" in unison.

Upon hearing this, everybody grew perplexed. They couldn't fathom how these three Pokémon, with their great strength that is virtually second to none amongst the Pokémon race, are so sure about themselves at the fact that they don't stand a better chance against this "Dark One" than any of them.

"What makes you so sure?" Sceptile asked.

"The Dark One is an entity that we don't fully understand," Palkia explained. "We don't know what motives He might possess, or what exactly He intends to do, with whatever resources and tactics that He might possess."

Dialga continued where Palkia left off. "All we know is that if Giratina, Palkia, and I were to fight the Dark One three-on-one, we would likely perish before so much as leaving any respectable damage on Him, despite our incredible abilities over dimensions, space, and time."

To hear these three Legendary Pokémon—Pokémon that have been blessed with the title "Deities of the Sinnoh Region" by people and Pokémon alike—deny outright their capability to win against this opposing force, caused Xeno's entire party of Pokémon to grow apprehensive of this "Dark One" that they were beginning to learn about.

"That's what Arceus, our Superior, has told us anyway." Giratina concluded.

Unsurprisingly, none of the Pokémon listening to the deity trio showed even the slightest hint of astonishment that the Deities of the Sinnoh Region were all under Arceus's command. From their past experiences, they understood Sinnoh mythology enough to know that Arceus Itself created these three Pokémon, which in turn created this world as it is known.

Also, now that they pondered about the earlier actions of these three Pokémon—where they transported Xeno Lucario to a parallel Earth from their own—, they all began to understand just how dire a situation this is, where Arceus Itself has to get involved in something that could potentially become catastrophic.

"Of course," Giratina resumed, recalling what the Alpha Pokémon has told it, and stating its honest opinion on the matter. "Arceus might've told us that because we're vitally important in the grand scheme of things—considering how there's only one of each of us—and doesn't want to put any of us three at risk."

"It doesn't want to put Itself at risk either," Palkia admitted, recalling from memory what Arceus has told the Spacial Pokémon. "Because, long story made short, if Arceus is vanquished, then eventually Pokémon as a race will follow alongside it, into the Void of the Dark One."

Upon hearing this, all of the Pokémon in Xeno's party fell silent. They knew now, unfalteringly, that this upcoming threat is one where not just lives are on the line, but all of existence. They appeared hopeless at the truth, unsure what they could do within their feeble power to counteract—let alone prevent—the Void of the Dark One.

"However," Dialga sensed their grim auras and knew exactly what to say. "There's still hope against this impending crisis."

All of the Pokémon listened on with rekindled faith at the three Deities of the Sinnoh Region.

"The key to this hope resides on Xeno Lucario, the Aura Pokémon of Prophecy."

Palkia continued from Dialga. "The prophecy inscribed on that pillar, once Xeno Lucario fits in place as the target Pokémon of its divination, is much easier to understand and support."

Giratina continued from Palkia. "Let's begin with Xeno Lucario. According to that prophecy, Xeno will know unfathomable power that will rival that of Arceus. That is to say that Xeno's power, when compared to that of the Original One, will be of the same potency, albeit branch out in various traits."

Dialga continued from Giratina. "However, as stalwart as Xeno has already become during its current age of twenty-six years old with eleven months, as hard as it is to fathom, its strength is still infantile and has yet to evolve."

Hearing this, as Dialga stated clearly, greatly perplexed Xeno's party of Pokémon. They worked alongside their lifelong friend, experienced many challenges and hardships that have tested their strength time and time again, and were fully comfortable with the fact that they believed they had Xeno pegged and understood. But to hear that Xeno—with his vigor, with his brilliant expertise of moves that will remain eternally distant from his own species, and with the ability to learn said moves almost instantly—is practically a baby in terms of growing power, left these twelve Pokémon with much to learn about the overall potential of their friend.

Before any questions could be muttered or pondered, the deity trio continued showering them with their cosmic wisdom.

"And yet, because of Xeno's strong sense of amity, the burden of this situation is not its own to bear alone."

All twelve of Xeno's friends almost knew what Dialga was going to say next.

"The twelve of you, because the Pokémon of Prophecy holds you all so closely to its heart, may have involuntarily become the catalyst to removing the lock on your normal Pokémon limits."

Twenty-two eyes widened—two for each Pokémon, except for Absol's remaining right eye and Dusknoir's single centered eye—upon hearing this.

Palkia decided to continue. "According to that prophecy, Xeno Lucario is able to unlock the true potential of Pokémon, with the key that—we believe—is its personal affinity to those that it values and will selflessly protect with its life."

A powerful memory played out within the minds of the Pokémon that met with Xeno during their brief careers in Team Rocket. They recalled how, when Giovanni stood in their way of escape, when the opportunity to do so was at its peak, Xeno stayed behind to stall him, so that they would all leave uninhibited. In doing so, they escaped from Team Rocket and from Giovanni, even though they primarily believed that Xeno was no longer to be seen again for his heroic actions towards them.

"From our discreet observations of Xeno Lucario," Palkia said, without any restraint in admitting this, "We can confirm that this applies to a total of sixteen Pokémon that it values within its life."

Effortlessly, the twelve Pokémon listening to Palkia's words knew already of twelve of the sixteen Pokémon that the Spacial Pokémon was referring to.

Themselves.

The remaining four unidentified Pokémon however, forced these twelve Pokémon in Xeno's party to huddle around each other into a circle and discuss amongst themselves which four remain.

Dialga, Giratina, and Palkia watched on at this ring of Pokémon huddled before them, waiting patiently for their minds to fit together the remaining pieces.

"It's painfully obvious that Palkia is referring to the twelve of us." Absol reminded everybody.

"But then…who of those four Pokémon…remain?" Aggron droned.

A few seconds of silence passed before half of this dilemma was answered.

"Latias and Latios, perhaps?" Sceptile suggested.

None of the Pokémon could see anything wrong with Sceptile's speculation, and agreed to it nevertheless.

"So then, which two Pokémon in Xeno's life remains?" Aqua inquired.

A few more seconds of silence passed where everybody pondered the missing two Pokémon of the sixteen that the deity trio referred to. This silence was inevitably broken when another connection was made.

"What about Mewtwo?" Luxray mentioned.

Once again, silence returned amongst the group, for digressed contemplation this time. They pondered to themselves how Mewtwo, during Xeno's time in Team Rocket alongside the Genetic Pokémon, already rivaled Xeno in terms of strength, with its power focused more on sheer brainpower and psychic abilities rather than an impossible technique repertoire. They can't begin to fathom how Mewtwo could grow any stronger, if it has a limit that can be broken, or is already broken.

They also pondered how the two of them were connected in terms of friendship. From Xeno's perspective, he truly saw Mewtwo as his friend, someone who he supported and would continue to support when necessary. In terms of actions towards it, Xeno was completely meditative and selfless, especially when he asked for a few favors from the Genetic Pokémon, the most notable favor was having Mewtwo accept Giovanni's proposal of three Pokémon—Dusclops, Luxray, and Tyranitar—, in order to strengthen Xeno's plans for Team Liberator.

On the other side of this spectrum however, Mewtwo's actions were far more pinpointed, and personal. For example, when Xeno asked for Mewtwo's aid in supporting his cause—which Xeno eventually explained to everybody in his group as time passed—, it seemed to not care about escape at all. It only cared about power, about growing stronger, and it accepted Giovanni as the catalyst in accomplishing this, for as long as it lasted until Mewtwo understood the truth.

It still viewed Xeno Lucario as a friend and did help Xeno out when he requested it from the Genetic Pokémon, but perhaps the term "friend" was too powerful a word to describe their bond. The words "acquaintance", "colleague", and "teammate" better describe Mewtwo's viewpoint of its bond with Xeno. Because ultimately, from the experience of all of the Pokémon that worked alongside it in Team Rocket, Mewtwo cared primarily about itself, its goals, and its problems, much more than others in general, despite what actions it took upon first glance.

When it trained with the party of Pokémon that it was bestowed with, it was just as beneficial to itself as it was to Xeno's cause.

"Xeno does value it," Terra assumed. "And if that's to be taken in as truth, then which Pokémon remains?"

For Wanderer, only one Pokémon comes to mind that Xeno has a stalwart connection with.

"Tiny Riolu," Wanderer said, the words itself weighing heavily in its telepathic voice.

All of the other eleven Pokémon looked at the light-furred Aura Pokémon as though it were crazy.

The deity trio listening in on this smiled at the fact that they pieced this conundrum together on their own.

"Tiny Riolu?" Metang droned. "Are you sure? It's dead, and has been for years."

Wanderer looked at the Iron Claw Pokémon, doubtless and sincere. "I'm sure, because no other Pokémon meets Xeno's criterion."

All twelve of Xeno's party of Pokémon, content with figuring out the remaining four Pokémon that Xeno treasures, disbanded from their ring formation and faced Dialga, Giratina, and Palkia as they originally were. The deity trio, upon seeing this action, strongly believes that all twelve Pokémon have figured out this problem, and decide to continue from where they left off.

"Yes, anyway," Giratina resumed their conversation, "For you twelve Pokémon that have worked so closely alongside Xeno, Arceus Itself has assigned a task for you all to accomplish, a test to definitively prove that Xeno has unconsciously unlocked your true potential, and therefore are able to join the Pokémon of Prophecy in the great crisis at hand."

All of the Pokémon listened on, practically feeling honored at this opportunity that they're receiving from the Alpha Pokémon, and willing to give it their all.

"As you may know from Sinnoh mythology, Arceus's phenomenal power is centered on Its sixteen elemental plates." Giratina explained."Each of those sixteen plates grants Arceus with the type attribute that each plate represents. And when Arceus's innate Normal-Type attribute is included, the Original One is able to wield all seventeen Pokémon Type attributes at will."

"Where are you going with this?" Combusken inquired, not quite seeing the purpose of this explanation yet.

"I'm getting there," Giratina calmly responded. "Anyway, these types of plates are as powerful as they are both arcane and archaic. Only a few sets are confirmed to exist. Arceus Itself possesses a complete set of all sixteen elemental plates, all of which form the symbiotic core and the origin of Its incredible power. Other sets that are confirmed to exist include the sixteen that are scattered across the surface of this Sinnoh region, as well as the sixteen that are submerged within the virtually unreachable watery depths of Unova's Abyssal Ruins. There have even been a few confirmed occurrences where individual plates have been unearthed from the Sinnoh Underground, but those are few and far between."

All of the Pokémon listened closely at this information, already beginning to speculate where Giratina was going with this information.

"What Arceus wishes for you twelve to accomplish is to locate the sixteen elemental plates scattered across the Sinnoh region, retrieve them from their hidden locales, and gather them all back here on Mt. Coronet's Spear Pillar."

"What will this prove to Arceus?" Absol wondered.

"This task will allow Arceus to analyze various key traits amongst you all that are vital for this looming crisis. The Original One, if you all complete this task at hand, will see you all display patience, persistence, leadership, friendship, adaptability, tactics, and power, just to name a few. And only then will It know for certain that you all have had your potential unlocked by the Pokémon of Prophecy, and are able to play your roles against the Void of the Dark One."

All twelve Pokémon understood the weight of this task, and were in no ways deterred by the pressure of it all.

"Knowing what's to come after this test, do you all still choose to prove yourself before the Original One, in order to confront this upcoming threat first-hand alongside Xeno Lucario?"

Without so much as a second thought over the grave danger that looms in the future, all twelve of Xeno's loyal comrades nodded before Dialga, Giratina, and Palkia.

"Perfect." Giratina smiled and admired their valor. "Arceus Itself should already be able to see your honest courage."

"Where do we begin?" Dusknoir inquired.

Palkia continued where Giratina stopped. "Your task begins right here, in Spear Pillar."

All twelve Pokémon scanned their surroundings, unsure exactly what Palkia was referring to.

"On sixteen of the pillars within Spear Pillar, there are instructions that accurately pinpoint the locations of the sixteen elemental plates scattered around the Sinnoh region."

Wanderer already began to ogle each pillar individually, seeing that each one is written in the antediluvian language of the Unown.

"All that you have to do is read the pillar's individual instructions closely, travel to the locations that they describe, and the rest is nothing more than a dedicated scavenger hunt."

All twelve Pokémon understood what they had to do now, and were ready to act when this conversation was over.

Dialga suggested an idea. "The way we see it, you'll complete this task quickly if you all travel individually for the first twelve elemental plates, and then as four groups of three for the remaining four."

With nothing left to say in the matter, Dialga, Giratina, and Palkia activated their inherent powers and opened up rifts to their respective dimensions. The rifts of both Dialga and Palkia—blue and purple—were opened directly behind themselves. The rift for Giratina—pitch black—opened directly beneath its feet, on the floor of Spear Pillar, rendering the Renegade Pokémon to flap its ethereal wings to keep itself airborne.

Both Dialga and Palkia bowed their heads before the Pokémon of Prophecy's twelve closest friends, and then they stepped back to cross their respective rifts. Once they had entered their whole being back into their home dimensions, the rifts closed under their power, and no trace of their presence remained on Spear Pillar.

All that remained before Xeno's party of Pokémon was Giratina, who gradually began to descend within its respective rift in space and return to the Distortion World. Once Giratina's body began to cross the rift, the alternate atmosphere and gravity of Distortion World began to cause a physical change for the Renegade Pokémon. Its body began to glow a dark aura and shape itself into Giratina's Origin Forme.

All of Xeno's party of Pokémon watched as Giratina took its leave from this dimension and back to its own.

Before Giratina's head—and therefore its whole body—descended into the rift, it only said one word to Xeno's twelve friends…

"Arceusspeed."

…Before disappearing from view and closing the rift on the floor of Spear Pillar altogether.

Once silence returned to Spear Pillar, Wanderer looked at the pillars within its surroundings. Knowing now, from the words of the deity trio, that sixteen of them have the critical instructions for their assignment that Arceus has given to them, Wanderer proceeded over to one of the pillars, in order to decipher it.

The remaining eleven Pokémon watched on from a standby position, already accepting to heart having Wanderer Lucario as their second-in-command leader, especially because no one knew the language of the Unown better than it.

With this position of leadership that Wanderer Lucario knew it now had, it only said rhetorically "Where do I begin?" before stopping at one of the pillars and deciphering the Unown's symbols at a comfortable pace.


24.5: Villains Full of Spite

Location: Rome (Emperor's Throne Room)

Date: January 11th, 60 A.D.

Time: 11:35 AM

Within the elaborate structure of Rome's central palace, within the Throne Room of the Roman Emperor, both Nero and the hooded figure—unmasked before him—resided privately.

The two of them were drinking wine during their conversation on tactics in attempting to bring down two of the greatest threats that the Roman Empire has ever known: Eduardo and Xeno Lucario.

During their baleful tête-à-tête, a few ideas were exchanged as to how to eliminate these two powerful freaks of nature, either individually or simultaneously. However, those brainstorms belonged to Nero, and most of them were far more detrimental to his resources—great as they were—and practically suicidal to his ideas of a growing empire.

He remained strong-willed on the idea that he could overwhelm both Xeno Lucario and I with sheer numbers alone. The hooded figure quickly dropped the idea and then stomped on it until it broke, explaining it to Nero that great military numbers won't annihilate the two of them. Five hundred soldiers were no match for Xeno Lucario, and one-thousand soldiers were just as easily brushed aside by Eduardo.

The hooded figure explains that adding more soldiers before letting them loose unto the two of us won't change the outcome of the matter. Nero could unleash ten-thousand soldiers, or even a hundred-thousand soldiers unto the both of us, and the end result will be the same: another hollow victory for both Eduardo and Xeno Lucario, and further wasted men in Rome's part.

Nero quickly thought of another idea, about how he should have soldiers with greater skill clash against them. The hooded figure remained blunt and straightforward in shattering stupidity. He explained once again that the outcome will be the same, primarily because of the fact that the two entities that Nero is choosing to clash with are anything but ordinary.

With their aura-based abilities, the hooded figure explained, they can kill any normal opponent in a heartbeat. They can blow off the armor of their opponent in one second, peel away their skin in the next second, obliterate their muscle structure in the third second, and grind their bones into the dust in the fourth second, all with relatively little effort if they decided to.

What Nero has decided to clash with, as the hooded figure has made plainly clear to him, are two apex warriors with supernatural abilities, the likes of which are unfathomable for the human mind to comprehend and impossible to combat against fairly.

Nero finished his wine and set the goblet aside. "Alright, since you're so keen to put down my ideas when I so much as ponder them," he said with defeat. "What do you have in mind?"

The hooded figure finished his wine and set the goblet aside as well, smiling before Nero at the idea that he had contemplated. "My idea is simple in actuality, and will prove much more decisive in devastating Eduardo and Xeno simultaneously."

"Tell me then. I'm all ears right now." Nero listened closely.

The hooded figure's smile faded when he began to speak seriously before Rome's head figure. "You must match power for power. You need to have warriors that can fight at their unbelievable magnitude of prowess."

"…" Nero remained speechless at what he was hearing coming out of this man's mouth.

"To do so, I gratefully request thirteen of your finest military minds, preferably that they be aspiring students within that Military School that you hold here in Rome. A fresher, malleable mind from a new generation of soldiers might prove more moldable than the minds of soldiers already taught and in service. However, there should still be a leader amongst them, one who already has years of martial experience. One of these thirteen soldiers should be an active Roman General, and the remaining twelve should be under said Roman General's leadership."

A flood of questions entered Nero's mind, but he chose not to digress the hooded figure yet. "Of course, but…what do you plan on doing with them?"

"I will personally train them all into an elite fighting force, one whose combat prowess rivals Eduardo and Xeno, right down to their aura-based abilities. This attack force, once I've molded them into the definitive image of war, will be your trump card in ridding this planet of the two most powerful enemies of Rome, the only obstacles in your plans of expanding your empire any further than it already is."

An elite fighting force, one with the destructive might that could eradicate Eduardo and Xeno Lucario in one fell swoop, under his command to do as he saw fit.

The mere thought of this made Nero refill his goblet with wine in order to enjoy a second serving. "How do you plan on creating this elite assault force?"

The hooded figure decided to have another serving of wine as well, and refilled his goblet with the sanguine cocktail once Nero was no longer doing so. "Let's just say that…I have my methods, and we'll leave that branching of topic undisturbed for now." He said before savoring the extravagant wine.

In reality, Nero was far more interested in the results of this idea than the methods involved, and dropped the question as quickly as he dropped the red alcohol down his esophagus. "How long will it take to have this strike force ready?"

The hooded figure finished his wine and then set the goblet aside once more. "One year, or perhaps thirteen months if I account for any potential hindrances," he admitted. "During that time, I recommend you don't do anything stupid to piss the two of them off any more than they already are."

"Agreed," Nero set his goblet of wine aside, directly alongside that of the hooded figure.

To end this discussion, the two of them shook each other's hands, content with their meeting and the promised results to come. However, before the hooded figure could take his leave, Nero still had a lingering question in mind.

"You know, I never got to know your name," Nero said. "What is it?"

The answer came immediately from the hooded figure. "I don't have a name, because I was born without one."

Nero raised a skeptic eyebrow at him. "(How can that possibly be?)" He pondered flatly.

"Rather than a name, I was born with a purpose in life, a purpose that the two of us have in common."

"And what would that be?" Nero responded with curiosity.

The hooded figure smiled maliciously. "That purpose is to open the very gateways of Hell before both Eduardo and Xeno, and then casting them off through them, into a world of inescapable damnation."

Once again, Nero liked what he heard and smiled. "If thirteen months and thirteen soldiers is all you need to give them a one-way ticket to Hell, then I should've sought your service years ago."

The hooded figure stopped smiling long enough before his facial expression was shrouded by his black hood that he replaced over his head once more. "I'll be taking my leave for now." He said simply before turning his back on Nero and walking out of the palace.

Nero bid the hooded figure farewell before proceeding over to his throne, sitting down and contemplating what the world will see of Rome—and their emperor—after this assault force of thirteen Roman soldiers decimates Eduardo and Xeno Lucario.

He fantasized on the idea that centuries from now, history textbooks will give an autobiography on his legacy as the fifth emperor of Rome. Those books will describe his overall life in this position of power, highlighting his greatest achievement—the death of Eduardo and Xeno Lucario under his military forces—and making his very name immortal to future generations of the human race. In his opinion, that seemed much better than being described as a corrupt emperor, a tyrant over his people.

Or someone who decided to take the easy way out and commit suicide before any assassins could dispose of him themselves. Someone who would slit their own throat before…

"(Huh…now where did that thought come from?)" Nero questioned his mind when his fantasies trailed off on the idea of suicide.


Location: Rome (City Streets)

Time: 11:54 AM

The hooded figure, after taking his leave from the emperor's palace, simply walked outside and wandered to where his feet were taking him. Before he knew it, he had entered the bustling city streets of Rome, blending himself with the abundant people of the commerce.

This setting didn't spark any interest in the hooded figure. He just continued to stroll across the city streets. He walked past oncoming people as they passed by him, never looking at them in the eye or replying back with a formal greeting if anybody he passed by did so. And he didn't seem to acknowledge any merchants that attempted to get his attention either with the merchandise that they had to offer.

He just walked past all of this human normality, pondering to himself deeper matters, matters that will influence their little worlds, matters that only he and his superior are capable of unleashing.

"(Nero…)" He pondered to himself. "(You're even easier to manipulate in my favor than Claudius ever was. With you, I didn't even need to resort to more…decisive methods of influencing you. You may be a moron that will likely be crushed under the very citizens that you reign over, but until then, you will at least be a useful piece in the master plan of the Dark One.)"


24.6: Heroes Full of Friendship

Location: 28°N, 34°E (Solitary Tree atop a Hill)

Time: 12:30 PM

With nothing else to do during my absence, my brothers Costas and Ian simply stood by the shore of the Red Sea, the massive body of oceanic water that I flew directly over in order to reach an imprisoned Xeno Lucario at Rome. They stared on at the early afternoon horizon watching for anything within the sky that even remotely resembled a fifteen-foot-long flying dragon.

"How long do you think Eduardo's been gone for?" Costas asked Ian.

Without anything proper to measure time accurately, Ian merely speculated. "I don't know…a couple of hours perhaps?"

The amount of time that Ian presumed had passed by caused Costas to assume the worst. "You don't think…that Eduardo was too late in coming to Xeno's rescue, do you?"

Even though the idea seemed preposterous because of the immense power that the two of them possess, the great amount of time that passed by could suggest otherwise.

"Do you suppose that…" Costas looked away from the sky to face Ian and continued speaking, "…Rome was actually successful in killing Xeno? And with its death made known to Eduardo, do you think he's now leveling down Rome in unrelenting rage?"

Ian wanted to look away from the sky, face his brother, and deter him from this unnecessary doubt on the subject. However, before he actually did so, a very minute figure in the sky could be distinguished amongst the abundant cerulean sky and the marine clouds that take residence in it.

Costas, seeing that his brother looked at the sky with a different light, looked back at the sky and quickly spotted something standalone from the norm.

It only took a few seconds for said minute figure to be better identifiable before both Costas and Ian. Before their eyes, they could see a white-scaled dragon in the far off distance, wide pallid wings flapping two times per second.

"When Eduardo arrives," Ian began to smile, already assuming the better of me. "You can rain your question upon him yourself."

Before their eyes, I sliced my way through the sky at Mach 3, speeds that are unheard of for this time period. Within only a minute, I was flying directly above them, thousands of feet above the air, where the sonic boom caused by my flyby wouldn't reach them.

Once directly above them, I broke out of my sonic speed flight and began to descend down upon them at a rate of speed that I had full control of, my massive wings held parallel to the ground and aiding in my return to terra firma.

My brothers, seeing the draconic hulk of my present state of body about to land before them, stepped back slightly so that I wouldn't land directly on top of them. Of course, I wouldn't for the life of me actually do so, and odds are that my brothers knew that as well. They, however, felt the need to step back out of both caution and respect.

As well as (hope to) see the extra passenger that I was harboring.

When I was about ten feet from touching the ground, I flapped my wings a few times per second to slow my final descent. And with enough force—and body mass—to shake the floor for a split second, I land on the floor below me with all four limbs, before hoisting my upper body upright so that I stood bipedal before my two brothers.

They immediately scanned my entire body, hoping to see Xeno Lucario on my presence somewhere. But upon first glances at my massive, white-scaled state of body, they couldn't see any black or blue or yellow body part of him on me anywhere.

"Is something the matter?" I responded to my brother's fervent glares with my earth-rumbling tone of voice.

"Well…actually, yes…" Costas eyed every single white scale on my body, trying to find any blue fur that he knew wasn't my own.

"What happened to Xeno?" Ian almost hesitated to ask.

Their concern over Xeno's wellbeing was extremely understandable, because I pushed myself past what I appear to be capable of in order to attempt to save him. However, their darting eyes and apprehensive responses did leave me questioning their judgment, and I responded to this with guaranteed assurance.

"Well firstly, Xeno Lucario's not dead. It's perfectly fine overall." I told them. "I arrived—by the skin of my protruding teeth—to its rescue, and then gave it a ride back here."

My brothers, after hearing my words of promise, already speculated where Xeno was on me.

"Xeno Lucario is on your back, isn't it?" Costas assumed.

I simply nodded at his hypothesis and dropped down on all fours again, signaling Xeno Lucario with body language to dismount already.

Only…he didn't exactly respond to this.

Before I assumed Xeno had actually slid off my crested back during Mach 3 flight, I knew that Xeno was still mounted onto me. I could still feel his body resting on my back—thankfully with nerve endings that weren't damaged from past ordeals. However, when I concentrated more on how he's resting on my body, I noticed one thing that he's doing.

He's clinging onto me, with paws gripping scales like a vice.

Both Costas and Ian were already looking at Xeno Lucario before I did, taking to mind what they were seeing of him a few seconds before me. And when the three of us were properly ogling him—I having to swivel my neck until the tip of my snout was facing 180° behind me—, we all noticed his present state of mind.

Xeno Lucario was frightfully wide-eyed, unable to blink at the moment. He was flat against my back, stiff of body and trembling somewhat after enduring a flight speed that is three times the speed of sound. The paws on his front limbs and hind limbs were gripping tightly onto the scales on my back, likely for fear that he would've slid off at such ludicrous speeds.

"What's wrong with it?" Ian inquired.

"I think Xeno's in shock." Costas assumed, upon first glance.

"Or on an adrenaline high," I believed.

Before our eyes, Xeno's grip on me loosens slightly. And in doing so, he slowly slid off of the right side of my back and fell on his back, directly onto the grassy floor. His body relaxed a bit when he was on the floor, likely because he's somewhat thankful that he has finally hit ground.

"Holy…crap…!" He said with widened eyes glued onto the sky. "You're…ridiculously fast…!"

"Are you alright, Xeno?" I show concern for his present state of mind and body.

Lucario, stunned of mind and relaxing of body, looked at the three of us in the eyes and nodded. "I'm fine… I'm just…calming down after that…exhilarating ride."

I remove my scaled hands from the dirt floor and regain my bipedal posture before positioning my tail within Xeno's arm reach. "Do you need some help getting back up?"

Lucario didn't say anything for a few seconds in order to regain his normal composure. "Yeah, sure…"

Once his paws were gripped on my tail for support, I hoisted him up in the air with zero effort, high enough for him to stand on his two feet again when he no longer needed to hold onto my tail.

Almost immediately, when Xeno felt comfortable standing bipedal again, both Costas and Ian suddenly embraced him in their arms. Both brothers, knowing well enough of the hazardous bony protrusion that resided on his sternum, hugged the Aura Pokémon from a different angle. Costas hugged him from the left side, while Ian hugged him from the right side.

Despite his eyes widening at their sudden choice of action to encircle him with their loving hold, Xeno Lucario did nothing to repel them. In fact, he put his arms around each of their backs, just as they did with him, because the emotional moment that was present now was appropriate and much needed.

Ever since Xeno first met Costas and Ian, he knew that they cared deeply for him. If they didn't they could've fatally struck him when he was most vulnerable, when he first entered this realm under the combined power of Dialga, Giratina, and Palkia. But instead, they immediately showed generous hospitality for him. They took him in to the laboratory of their banished brother—into the laboratory that I've abandoned against my will—, tended to his wounds, and gave him food and shelter for his week-long stay on this remote town in the middle of apparent nowhere. And because of this selfless act from a pair of complete strangers, Xeno learned that some humans can be trusted—Costas, Ian, and I—, and some humans can never be trusted—Giovanni.

It would seem fitting then that Xeno repaid their kindness by warding off Mars's invading Roman legion when they arrived.

Now feeling left out at seeing this tender moment, I immediately wrapped my massive arms around them, brought my head and neck down beside them, and embraced them as they did with Xeno. The only problem with this was that I had to bring them up to my level of height. And with my heightened level of strength, holding the three of them in my arms and hoisting them up a body length in the air was virtually effortless in my part.

Thankfully, the three of them didn't seem to mind my addition to this group hug, especially with this current state of body. They embraced me—Xeno's liberator—all the same, for as long as the moment lasted.


A few minutes later…

The need for a proper introduction between the four of us wasn't necessary in any way, because the four of us already knew each other well enough to already begin to regard each other as close friends.

So instead, I decided to ask the Aura Pokémon some questions that I wanted answers to. My brothers decided to listen in on this as well.

"Xeno, before you grazed your razor-sharp claws across my human face," I began. "How did you get your severe injuries from before?"

"I'd be more than willing to explain it to you all," Xeno said. "But I'll warn you that when I'm finished, you'll be just as confused as I once was."

"I can handle it." I respond with outright confidence.

"I'm sure you can," Lucario replied.

All three of us listened closely at the experiences that Xeno was about to recall before us.

"The injuries that I miraculously survived from were caused by a man in a black cloak."

Immediately, the eyes of my brothers and I widened when we realized who caused the injuries on Lucario.

"…Did I just say something important?" He assumed after reading our facial expressions.

"A man in a black coat…" I droned at the notorious identity that I knew Xeno was referring to. "We've encountered that same person before."

"I see…" Xeno understood, but chose not to digress from his topic. "Anyway, during our…brief clash, he told me a few things, the most important being who he works for."

"Who he…works for?" Costas repeated Xeno's last four words.

"Yes. Anyway, what this…uh…" Lucario couldn't find a proper title to describe the nameless man in the black cloak.

"Hooded figure?" I toss one out for him, what my brothers and I have been referring him by, ever since I first encountered this sable anomaly.

"Why not," Lucario simply shrugged his shoulders at this. "What this hooded figure told me was that he works for his superior, the Dark One."

"The…Dark One?" Ian repeated Xeno's last three words.

"I've honestly never heard of this 'Dark One' before," I told Xeno.

"I'm honestly not surprised." Xeno understood if there was any secrecy involved in the hooded figure's part. "But what I am surprised about is what the hooded figure told me that the Dark One sees of me."

"Do tell," Costas was listening attentively.

Both Ian and I were doing so as well, knowing how important this information was starting to become.

"If the hooded figure's words are to be believed, then the Dark One sees me, the 'Pokémon of Prophecy', as a threat to His plans of global conquest."

Two eyebrows—one from each of my brothers—and a scaled eyebrow-like protrusion—myself—were raised upon hearing this. Our eyebrows were raised not because we assumed this to be a boast from Xeno. It couldn't be anyway, because the experience in his part was too precarious and life-threatening for him to lie about any part of it.

Instead, they were raised because this "Dark One"—an entity that none of us know in any key details—views Xeno Lucario, the "Pokémon of Prophecy", as a genuine threat. For reasons why exactly, we four could only failingly speculate until we all have solid—and likely treacherous —leads.

"There must be something special about you, for the Dark One to name you as a great danger before His plans." I said. "Of course, I wouldn't know how powerful you pose to be against the Dark One, until I've been in my brother's shoes and seen your abilities first-hand."

"I can say the same about you," Xeno smiled and digressed slightly to give his truthful opinion on me as well.

I smiled back at him, but only the emotional aspect was taken in, because the physical aspect of my smile would just come in as nightmarish to most.

Lucario resumed where he left off. "I can say that I know for certain that I'm a genuine threat against both the hooded figure and his Superior."

"What makes you so sure?" Ian inquired.

"Because before the hooded figure left me for dead," The Aura Pokémon looked at Ian. "He explained to me my entire life story, right up to the moment where we first met."

Upon hearing this, I recalled the recent moment in time where the hooded figure stood before my brothers and I within my underground laboratory, where he told me the name "Xeno Lucario" and a few key points about the Aura Pokémon.

"Then these antagonistic forces at work are very stalwart, for them to know everything there is to know about you." I said. "And for all we know, much stronger than we currently stand."

"You're absolutely right," Xeno assured me. "Of course, even though we're unsure of the forces at work in the shadows—or exactly how stalwart these forces are exactly—, I know that I'm involved in this, from the prophecy that I recently learned involving me."

The three of us listening in on Xeno never removed our ears from him, unable to now because of the decisive information he was telling us.

"It shall be bestowed with the key to unlocking the true potential of Pokémon. It shall be the catalyst to shattering the limit of four moves. It shall know unfathomable power that will rival the Original One. It shall prevent the world from falling into the Void of the Dark One." Lucario recited the prophecy, word for word, as he had already accepted it to heart and to his drive.

"The Void...of the Dark One?" I muttered the secrecy that this topic presently held over us.

"The forces at work that sent me here are confident that I can fulfill that prophecy." Lucario explained. "Unfortunately, I haven't the slightest idea where to begin. And I don't think they do either, or else they would've told me on the spot."

"Well, I know one thing, where you shouldn't begin." I explained. "Because of the fact that you survived your conflict with the hooded figure, we can immediately deduce that the strength of the hooded figure is equal to—if not greater than—your own, and likely my own as well."

Both Costas and Ian looked at the two of us with an unsettling amalgam of disbelief and dismay. They know from first-person viewpoints of our abilities in unchained action that the two of us are easily the most powerful individual beings on this planet.

For there to be these forces at work, with powers greater than those of Xeno and I, under our radar and plotting life-changing matters, quickly left the two of them unable to properly picture this greater scheme of things.

"And with the Dark One as his superior," Xeno added. "He's likely beyond the strength of the hooded figure, and resting on levels so mind-bogglingly absurd that we can't so much as scratch Him before dying."

Despite the sheer weight of this matter, how there seems to be no hope whatsoever to counteract this, I didn't choose to cave in under the pressure. I didn't wish to sit idle and wait for the day to come where the world knows the Void of the Dark One.

And neither did my brothers or Xeno.

I crossed my arms and pondered our altered future. "If that's the case, then all we need to do is strengthen ourselves beyond our current level of power, to combat this looming threat, and prevent this 'Void of the Dark One' before it's made known to the world."

At first, all three of my listeners looked at me as though I spoke impossible nonsense. However, when they pondered the matter over—Xeno Lucario especially—with bit more open-mindedness and imagined how this idea would hold up in the future, they realized that it's the only method that we have to even hope to act against the hooded figure and the Dark One.

"If this is our only tactic against the Void of the Dark One," Lucario looked at me in the ash-black eyes. "Then the burden of this impending threat won't just be yours or mine to bear alone."

Now it was my turn to look at him with the same look that they gave me earlier. "What do you mean?"

Xeno Lucario looked away from me and eyed both Costas and Ian, with sanguine eyes that immediately became golden eyes, caused from the immediate activation of his Aura Vision ability.

With his eyes now seeing the aura that surrounded all physical objects, seeing and comprehending the aura of my brothers was effortless for him.

Both brothers felt slightly uncomfortable at seeing him looking at them the way he was doing so right now, with auric eyes that stared deep into the soul and dreadlock-like appendages that vibrated like dragonfly wings, humming obnoxiously on both ears, and meeting in the middle.

"You may not know it until now, but the aura that I've been sensing from the two of you is exponentially greater than those of average human beings." He said before disengaging his Aura Vision ability.

Both my brothers and I were astonished to hear Xeno say this.

"Are you saying…" Costas found it somewhat difficult to speak through his sudden surprise. "Are you saying that…both Ian and I are capable of amazing aura-based feats, such as the two of you?!"

"Absolutely, but all that's needed is proper training from an experienced teacher." Xeno said with a small smile formed on his face.

It only took a couple of seconds for my brothers to realize that Lucario was also saying that he was willing to teach them what he knew.

"But…what's compelling you to do so?" Ian wanted a reason for an important matter as this.

Lucario just answered truthfully to this matter. "It's just out of an act of kindness, from one friend to another."


Before we begin to contemplate any ideas as to where to begin with our future training, Xeno Lucario still has one key detail he has yet to play before us, the trump card within his memory that would permanently alter our viewpoints on the targeted subject.

"Hang on a minute! There's still one last topic that I need to explain." Lucario said before looking at me. "And Eduardo, you of all people—or dragon in your present state—should know this."

"And what would that be?" I asked with curiosity.

"The facial identity of the hooded figure."

Without so much as thinking about it, I knew that this was vital information, since the hooded figure has been hiding under a shroud of mystery from us since we first met, and knowing anything as to what he looks like would prove imperative to us in the long run.

"Xeno, I want you to explain his countenance to me in as much detail as you possibly can." I suggested. "Leave no single detail to chance. I want you to paint me a mental picture, with a thousand words if you must."

Xeno understood the tone of urgency in my deepened voice, but knew that in this case, fastidious detail wasn't necessary.

"I understand your need to know this, but I actually don't need to go into unnecessary detail on his identity." He assured. "Because with only five words, I can perfectly describe what the hooded figure looks like."

Knowing what was coming next, I could feel my massive reptilian heart beat slightly faster from anxiety. "I'm ready." I tell him.

He simply shook his head and denied my confidence. "No you're not. Not for this."

And so, when Xeno Lucario finally described what the hooded figure looks like…

"He looks…"

…All that I could feel was my body growing numb from the truth.

"…just like you."

THE PATH OF THE AURA: INTERTWINING CROSSROADS

TO BE CONTINUED…


"I don't know what the future may hold, but I know who holds the future." —Ralph Abernathy

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