Regret

Death. War. Destruction. The world of the future lies in ruins. I got the chance to go back and stop it from ever happening, only to discover that I was the cause. This is how I destroyed the world.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5808527/1/Regret

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58. And Time Did Fall

Life lives, life dies. Life laughs, life cries. Life gives up and life tries. But life looks different through everyone's eyes ~ Anon.

-O-O-O-

"One by one, the powerful shall fall."

- Anon. (Unknown date).

-O-O-O-

The air was heavy with silence and the smell of gunpowder.

The celebi made a gesture and the pokémon it summoned remained still. The headless body of the kabutops bled onto the floor, staining the concrete crimson.

"Nice to see you made it back," said the celebi. "I was starting to think you were fleeing across the world."

She pulled her face into a squinting smile. "While you're still alive? I'm not that stupid."

It barked a laugh. "I beg to differ."

And just like that, chaos erupted once more.

Vines suddenly burst out of the ground around her. They sliced through a few of the ancient pokémon, cutting off limbs and faces. There was a colossal roar as the vines erupted from the walls, snatched aerodactyl in their grasps and suffocated them against the wooden framework.

The girl moved around the vines and leant behind a nearby column. "Not too late, am I?"

I glowered at her. "I'm missing an ear."

"I have burns covering twenty per cent of my body." She smiled quickly. "We're just started getting even here."

I heard the footsteps and reacted quickly. I grabbed her and pulled her out of the way just as a dinosaur charged into the pillar and smashed it into dust. The thing kept running, charged into a metallic beam beneath the pillar and stopped, huge head stuck between the metallic poles.

"Thanks," she said quickly, glancing back at it. She reached back and pulled a pistol free from her belt. "Here," she said, placing it in my hands. "Looks like you could do with the added help."

I checked to see if it was actually loaded first. "Nothing stronger?" I asked with a grin.

She rolled her eyes and fired the shotgun at the dinosaur's exposed back. Its body fell apart in pieces, legs still running without a body attached to them. "Like I'd trust you with that. How do we deal with our buddy up there?"

I glanced up at the celebi. It darted away from an irate Erra, spinning in between blasts of lightning. Scar leapt down from the roof, breathing white-hot flames down upon the creature. It teleported away from the blast, appeared on his head and steered him into the ceiling, freeing an aerodactyl and angering a few more.

"One shot," I said reflexively. I remembered first seeing the creature so clearly; the information that came to me without pause. Knowing that it came from an outside source just made the knowledge all that sweeter. "Take out its ability to time travel and live all in one."

She glanced back, drew her head in as a vine shot past her and breathed a quick, relieved sigh. "So blast its head off?"

"If you want to overdo it." The building shook with the weight of an impact somewhere around us. Loki appeared out of the shadows in front of us, pointed to the ceiling wildly and then vanished once more. I followed his gestures and watched as the entire roof seemed to sway and buckle. "This place isn't going to last long. We need to get out of here. But there's nothing but forests all around us."

"Only in one direction," the girl said with a shake of her head. "There's a quarry about a kilometre south of here."

"We'll go there then," I decided. "Alistair!"

He appeared nearby almost instantly. He crouched down, checked my injured ear and frowned.

[I cannot heal that for you, sir.]

That was like a blow enough, but I forced myself past it. "Not about that. We need to get out of here. The building's going to collapse. Can you let the others know at once that we need to retreat?"

He pulled a face. [I cannot. I can, however, enlist the aid of the girafarig and do so with her help.]

"Do that then," I said quickly. "We're retreating as of five minutes ago."

He nodded and disappeared with a flash of light. I grabbed the girl's hand and pulled her after me. "Come on!"

She didn't need much convincing. She lead us back towards the doors, sounds of battle continually attacking our ears from behind.

I ducked under a wayward blast of fire and had to leap over a number of outstretched vines. There was a rumbling in the floor not three paces away. We stopped just before it as a cradily burst out of the ground, screaming bloody murder, vines snaking around it.

I shot it in the face.

It fell backwards, screaming slightly, not fully dead. I ran past it, uncaring towards its plight. Freedom was the only thing I cared about.

Sunlight blared in my eyes as we reached the outside. There was the distant smell of trees and grass. Sounds of pidgey and taillow chirping in the trees were suddenly louder than ever. All the little things about the world I thought I'd never get to experience again.

Then the sun was blotted out by a draconic shadow.

The aerodactyl soared down in front of us, opened its mouth in a scream that showed off all its teeth and filled the air with the stench of death.

The girl hissed and pumped her shotgun. The dragon growled, dropped back into the air and belched green flames at us both. I rolled out of the way, aimed and tried to shoot the thing in the face. It soared above the bullet, shrieked at us both and pulled both wings back. It snapped them forwards and made little blades of air that tore the ground open, the earth bleeding mud from its gaping wounds.

We were trapped by it. I could hear more of the creatures coming after us, circling around and calculating our doom.

There was a mighty roar and a blur of flaming orange tackled into the aerodactyl. It screamed, plummeted towards the ground and created a trench with its body. In the air, Scar snorted, spun around and roared at everything else. He took a breath and fire exploded from his mouth. A little fireball zoomed from him and shattered the earth as it hit, sending pokémon and rock flying everywhere. He smirked, flapped his wings and soared into battle again, wings and tail shining like steel.

"Let's move!" the girl hissed, grabbing my hand. She led me further away from the building, towards the quarry she'd pointed out. The trees blurred into an unholy mesh of brown and green. I could see them moving slightly, inching towards us, branches trying to snare us in their grasp.

I heard the girl's warning a little too late.

My feet carried on moving without any ground underneath them. One minute I was upright, the next I was rolling down a gravelly mountain. I landed what felt like seconds later, bruised, scratched and bloody, yet still somehow alive.

"Damn," she muttered as she stood back up. She brushed herself down, glared up at the hill of stone and frowned. "Nice going, klutz. Did you never realise you need ground to run on?"

"Did you not realise running towards a hill might end badly?"

[Do you both not realise we're being hunted?]

I spun around at Gemini's mental voice. I found her stood behind us, cut and looking worse for wear, but still alive. Alistair teleported in with Erra and Lacey seconds later, with Loki appearing from a shadow just after them. Scar roared up ahead, smacked an aerodactyl with his tail and shattered the creature's neck. He planted his feet down on it and rode it into the ground, snorting acrid smoke at the destruction he caused.

"It'll keep hunting us," the girl said. "We need to kill it. Who knows how long it'll stay dead for, but even a year would be a nice rest."

I glanced at her. "And you know this all because?"

She smiled. "You're not the only one that had a meeting with our friend. I thought I'd managed to escape after it told me everything; told myself I was lucky. Then little things made me realise that maybe it had let that happen. Whispers in the back of my mind. Then I met you in Lilycove and realised it was probably just setting us up to take us both out at once. So I planned an ambush for it."

"Some ambush. I lost an ear!"

She rolled her eyes. "Carry on complaining and I'll take your other one. Where is he?"

"Where's who?"

I found my answer as a flash of light appeared next to her. A massive venusaur landed on the floor, growling at something we couldn't see. Atop it was a little spoink, snorting weakly and looking exhausted.

"Good job," she said and recalled the little psychic. She glanced at me and rolled her eyes. "You think they never let me near the pokémon in that gym? A few of them were still alive; no harm in saving them and keeping them for myself."

I said nothing. It wasn't the time. There was a long silence.

Then the aerodactyl beneath Scar shrieked.

He hissed, stomped on its head and splattered the ground with blood. He growled at its body, pulled his foot up and satisfied with his work, smiled a little.

Then a flock of them descended from above. One or two seemed different, not aerodactyls; feathery and like ancient birds. They shrieked all the same, claws and sharp-tooth filled jaws striking for us all.

Scar roared and took to the skies once more. He dove into the middle of them all, wings shining silver and fire bursting out of his mouth. One or two fell instantly. The others screamed and tried to leap in for the attack.

Erra flitted above him, zapping stragglers with lightning bolts. Scar spun in mid-air, smirked at her then grabbed a feathery one by the neck and threw it into the others. Erra split into ten, circling around them all and shooting bolts of lightning that leapt from pokémon to pokémon.

All of a sudden, it seemed like the lights to the world went out. The only light was from Erra's attacked or Scar's flames. There was an unnatural cold to the air that floated down, but my breath didn't frost. Everything just felt wrong.

One of Erra's lightning bolts lit up the sky. All around us were coffins, floating in the eerie dark. They shone gold in the brief sparks of light; ancient designs coating them with unnatural beauty.

And with a moan, each of them sprouted ghostly arms. Red eyes burst into life from within, glaring down at us all.

Lacey snarled and appeared behind me, slicing one in the face. I recoiled, grabbed my gun and tried to fight off what I could. It was no use. They were ghosts. There was nothing I could do against them. Lacey hissed and melted into the shadows again. She appeared behind one, kicked it and splintered the entire coffin. The thing cackled maniacally as purple flames poured out of the coffin and covered her. She hissed, scowled at the burns and continued to attack the coffin, pulling it apart.

Loki appeared atop one, claws bleeding black and drove them into the thing's face. It hissed, grabbed him with ethereal arms and threw him into the air. An aerodactyl grabbed him in its mouth, shook him like a ragdoll and spat him back into the ground. Scar landed atop the ancient dragon, drove his claws through its head and threw it into the ghostly coffin.

The girl was screaming orders somewhere nearby. The brief flashes of light illuminated a hulking scorpion that fought for her. It drove its tail into a coffin and thick, purple venom poured out of its tail and flowed out of the empty tomb.

Slowly the unearthly ghosts were being beaten back. Then in the middle of the clearing, a hot flash of light washed over the air. I barely clamped my eyes shut in time. Even when I opened them again, I still felt blind.

Flying in the middle of everything was a huge moth. Fire dripped from its wings, setting alight to the stony ground beneath it.

The girl hissed and directed a dustox towards it. The larger moth glanced at the smaller.

And the dustox burst into flames.

The girl sighed as the ashes of her pokémon floated away on the wind. She motioned for her scorpion to keep attacking the coffins. Lacey and Loki were helping it, slicing apart the ghostly enemies. Her venusaur was snatching fliers from the sky, flinging them into others and restraining some for Erra or Scar to attack.

She grabbed a pistol from her belt and fired at the thing. It fluttered away and spat flames back at her. She barely managed to leap out of the way as they bathed the rock behind her, melting it onto the floor.

She glanced at me, pale and worried. "Any ideas?"

Alistair leapt at the moth and brought bladed elbows down on its face. It spun away from the blows and tackled him in the back. He took the blow, spun with it, grabbed the thing by a few wings and threw it towards the floor. It shrieked, fanned its wings quickly and blew fire in every direction. He leapt away as Gemini formed a brilliant yellow barrier around the thing. Another was added, then another. Finally the thing was encased in a box of yellow energy, firestorms raging within.

Gemini wittered and sunk to her knees under the strain. Alistair brought both his blades together, sparks flying. He rubbed them together furiously, the sounds of scraping bone filling the air. Finally they gleamed with incomparable sharpness. He leapt at the moth as Gemini lowered the barriers and sliced two wings and a leg off the thing. It shrieked, took to the air, wobbling all the while and covered him in sticky string. He frowned at it, sliced manically at it and tried to free himself. The thing chittered and all of a sudden, the string burst into flames.

Alistair teleported away quickly. The thing focused on Gemini, wings beating fire as suddenly Alistair appeared above it, singed and angry. He landed on its back, pulled back its head and speared it in the face with a blade.

"Ideally that," I said to the girl. She frowned as the thing carried on fighting. Behind her another ghost collapsed to the floor and another aerodactyl plummeted from the sky. "I don't like this," she said quickly. She spun around at the newly grounded aerodactyl and shot it in the face. She cursed, reloaded her shotgun and quickly aimed at another creature. "Where's their ringleader? He's pulling these things out of their times to die; he's gotta be sat around her somewhere, waiting."

The thought had crossed my mind. I tried to pay it no attention. I glanced around at the battles around us. We were winning, but only by a margin. I levelled my hand and fired at the moth. The bullet tore through one of its wings. Screeching angry curses, it spun around, wings whipping up silvery winds. I ducked behind a pile of stone as it sheared the air around me, slicing through stone and the top of my hair.

The girl ducked behind the stone next to me, glanced over the top and came back down laughing. "You're bald atop your head."

"Thank you," I growled, checked the pistol and tried to fire at the thing again. A cradily burst out of the ground near it, snarling violently, vines thrashing everywhere. One grabbed Alistair and smashed him down into the rocky floor. He hissed, grabbed the vines and teleported away, severing them from the body.

Loki bounced up to it, fists dripping flames once more. He drove them into the ancient pokémon's face, dug his clawed feet into its neck and sliced violently at its spine. The thing opened its mouth to scream and he reached in, grabbed its tongue and ran away as quickly as he could. The cradily screamed in pain, pulled back against him for only a second before he tore its tongue clean from its mouth.

It stopped screaming a second after her venusaur sliced it in half with a vine. It remained in place, slapping things away with its vines, charging power all the while.

"She's cursing," the girl explained quickly. "It's the strategy honed into her. It slows her but ups her defences and attacks. So she remains put, batters things with her vines or just absorbs all the energy she needs. Nothing much can get past her."

That was when a kabutops leapt at it and sliced off a few vines. The venusaur hissed, rose up and collapsed back down upon the pokémon. It squealed under the new weight, flailed uselessly and before my eyes began to dry out. Its very skin seemed to collapse on itself, leaving the thing just a wrinkly sack of bones as the venusaur's injuries healed over.

"Remind me not to get on her bad side," I said with a shudder. I glanced up and counted at least seven ancient fliers circling around my pokémon. One screamed, sensing weakness and tore into Erra. I saw a little wing drift away from her body, blood spurt from the wound and was nearly blinded by the lightning she shot off. The thunderclap that followed almost deafened me, then she landed atop the thing and did something that made it collapse into the ground as quickly as a falling rhydon.

"This is taking too long," I said. "The celebi's tiring us out. It can heal itself as much as it likes, while we're forced to fight until we're exhausted."

The girl pulled free a knife and sliced at a cradily's snaking vine. The thing hissed and pulled it back just as her scorpion came charging past us, tail dripping venom. It leapt over us, landed on the pokémon and drove its tail straight through the thing's body. Another of the dinosaurs charged at it; the scorpion curled up into a ball, took the blow and tripped the charging dinosaur over. As it fell, the scorpion leapt upon it, salivating jaws ripping into the thing's exposed neck.

"What's your plan then?" she asked as if nothing life-threatening were even happening.

I glanced back up at the fliers. "How many shotgun shells you got left?"

I heard her count them as quickly as she could. "Ten. Why?"

Erra flitted away from the remains of one of the things. Alistair grabbed her, hands glowing blue and the bleeding from her side stopped. Above them, Scar roared another challenge. He grabbed one of the birds by the neck and bit into it, spraying the ground below with red-hot blood.

That left five.

"Give me six," I told her.

She grumbled as she pulled the cartridges out of her pocket. "You can't fire them with your gun. What are you planning?"

I glanced over the rock and called Alistair over. He nodded and let Erra go before he vanished. Another ancient creature was charging, this one aiming for Lacey. She was busy fighting off a kabutops, meeting sickled blades with her own razor-sharp leaves. Little bits of green were floating to the floor, but she managed to dodge most of the blows and hit the creature as hard as she could.

I aimed and by some miracle managed to hit the charging pokémon in the eye. It screamed, veered off course and slammed straight into the kabutops. Lacey glanced around, eyes wide until she saw me. She smirked, nodded and descended on them both, a flurry of leaves and blood-thirst.

Alistair was panting for breath. I grimaced and wondered just how long it'd be before we were all too tired to fight. I spread my hands and showed him the shotgun shells. "Do you think you can attach these to the fliers? The five ancient ones and the moth."

He glanced around, took note of their positions and nodded. [I shall do my best, sir.] He swiped them from my hands and disappeared in a flash of light.

I looked up and saw him land atop one of the aerodactyl. It shrieked, spun around in the air and tried to throw him off. He held his ground, punched it in the back of the head and vanished into the air once more.

"Scar!" I screamed into the heavens. "Aim for what Alistair's attaching to them!"

He roared in acknowledgement. He smacked an ancient bird away with his tail, spread his wings and took off even higher into the sky. He caught sight of the first of Alistair's traps, spun around in the air and bathed the creature in flames. It screamed and a second later, the shell in the back of its neck exploded. Flesh and blood rained down from the heavens.

Scar's mouth seemed to drop. Then instantly he recovered, smirked and took off towards the next victim.

Gemini teleported out of the way of the falling bodies. She appeared near me, panting, bruised and bleeding in a number of places. [This is ridiculous,] she growled, mental voice exhausted too. [We're wearing ourselves out. When we're weak, it will attack.]

"I know," I said grimly. "But it'll probably only show itself when it looks like we're winning."

It was then that I heard a scream and something wet and warm splattered against my face.

Gemini swayed on the spot. A kabutops stood above her, claws gleaming blood.

And on the floor was one of her heads.

The little head carried on biting at nothing, hissing and screaming all the while. Gemini fell backwards, unbalanced and screaming blue murder. Her eyes bled blew and the kabutops only twitched before its arms were ripped from its sockets with unholy power. It screamed for only a second before its own sickles sliced its throat out.

[I was… stupid,] Gemini said weakly. There was a gaping hole in her speech. Where I felt the subtle influence before, the thing always influencing me, there was nothing. There were no undertones for me to sleep. Nothing screaming hunger or fear. Gemini tried to pull herself back to her feet, but lacked to coordination. She was like a new born foal. She fell back down and looked at me weakly. [Should I feel something? I cannot feel fear, anger or sadness. Just pain.]

She groaned and collapsed against the floor. Blood still poured out of where her second head should have been. I grabbed it and tried stupidly to reattach the thing. I screamed for Alistair to come and help.

He appeared seconds later, hands bloody and with a set of yellow eyes hanging from his claws. His own eyes widened as he took in the situation. He crouched down, eyes shining blue until finally they dimmed.

[There is nothing I can do, sir.]

I dropped the severed head and collapsed to the floor. "She's… dead?"

He frowned. [I cannot tell. I cannot reattach the second head. Whether or not she can survive without it… I am unsure.]

I fumbled for her poké ball and managed to recall her. I aimed it at her severed head, but the laser wouldn't activate. It just screeched metallic noises at me and refused to take in the dead limb.

I crawled over to the dead kabutops, snarled at it and kicked it in its dead head. I hung the gun from my belt and picked up the severed blades. They were heavier than I would have thought. It took more than a moment to adjust to them. Finally I threw away one and grabbed the other in both hands.

"Alistair… take me to something soft and squishy."

The world vanished in a blur of blue. Almost instantly it appeared again, burning a fiery red. The heat was beyond what I'd ever felt. The huge moth fluttered in front of me, spitting out flames at the girl's venusaur.

I raised the blade and brought it down on the thing's back. It screamed as red-hot blood poured out. It landed on my skin, hissed and burnt little holes in my flesh. I ignored all the pain. I brought the blade up again just as it spun around and sliced it across the face. Its flesh and both its eyes fell apart, burning blood pouring into the wounds and instantly cauterising them.

The thing screamed and the entire world burned hotter than I thought possible. I smelt burning hair just before all the heat vanished and everything was suddenly unnaturally cold. Everything around me changed. Shadows loomed over the landscape and a hill of stone stood between me and the angry, buzzing moth.

Loki leapt up, grabbed at my face and garbled nonsense, head twitching violently. Finally satisfied, he patted my head, disappeared into the shadows and came back a second later, the other kabutops blade gripped in his hands.

He looked like a child trying to dress as the grim reaper for Halloween.

He growled, slung the blade back over his shoulder, nearly fell over with the weight of it and smirked. He disappeared again, came out of the shadows behind an omastar and started hacking away madly, cackling all the while.

Scar landed with an earth-trembling thud behind me. He sniffed me, snorted and then nodded towards the moth. It was fluttering on the floor, screeching wildly and shook with frequent spasms. My charizard smirked, laughed and roared something that felt like well done before he leapt at the dying thing and bit its face off.

"What now?" the girl asked me.

I spun around, surprised she was behind me. She smiled and wiped a thick coating of slime from her arm. By her side was a thick, oozing muk, snarling violently at the carnage around it. She nodded at it and it slithered across the landscape faster than should have been possible for moving slime. It leapt upon an omastar, covered it entirely and began to dissolve the unfortunate thing from the outside in.

"I'm out of pokémon," she told me. "That muk was the final reserve. Now they're all out and we're running desperately thin on the energy front."

I nodded and glanced over to my pokémon. Erra latched onto a kabutops' back and filled it with a thousand volts before taking off and doing the same to another. Lacey leapt at each one in between, taking apart their paralyzed bodies. I felt good about it. I wanted them all to suffer. Gemini may have been an annoyance most of the time, but she was still an ally.

If she was even still alive.

I held her poké ball for a moment and forced myself to clear my head. I couldn't afford to think about things like that. She was dead or she wasn't. That's all there was to it.

She glanced around the pile of stone and breathed a sigh. What remained of an armaldo shot past the hill and splattered against the floor some distance away. Her scorpion scuttled after it, chased by Loki and his makeshift scythe.

"That's the last of them," she said and fell back against the hill. "Wanna take bets on what comes after us next?"

I was expecting another apocalypse to start right then.

Instead there was silence.

It spread all around us, infecting the entire area until it felt like my pulse was the only noise in the whole world.

The roar that broke the silence was enough to make my eardrums pop.

Footsteps made the entire quarry shake. Little bits of rock from atop the hills scattered downwards, peppering the landscape. Out of nowhere a sandstorm began to swirl, scratching and biting at my skin. I hissed and pulled my shirt up over my nose and tried to breathe through my mouth. The sand still tried to cling to my eyes, taking every opportunity it could to invade them.

With another ear-shattering roar, the tyranitar revealed itself.

My heart stopped and sped up all in the same second. Pain shot through my chest and I was fairly certain I was having a heart attack. The girl's scorpion froze in place at the sight of it, scuttled back a distance and tried to scare it away with hisses and bravado. The tyranitar snarled and stomped on the floor. The scorpion screamed as a spiked rock exploded out of the floor and into its stomach. Purple, acidic ooze leaked out of it and bubbled against the angry earth.

The girl cursed and recalled it as quickly as she could. Loki leapt away from the beast, brandishing his new weapon. The thing glared and moved to stomp the ground again. Loki yelped and dove into the shadows just as a stalagmite shattered his toy and where he was standing.

"I don't suppose we can kill this with shotgun shells, huh?" the girl asked me.

I gulped. "If we can, that's news to me."

The beast turned to face us, eyes narrowing. The sandstorm whirled around us, coating the landscape in a swirling haze of beige. I had to squint to try and see the thing properly. It was like a looming shadow hidden beneath a veil. I was terrified into not moving. I couldn't move, or it would kill me. I couldn't stay put, or it would kill me.

Just as it seemed like certain death had come, there was a distant humming in the sandstorm. It started off small, far enough away that I didn't recognise it. Then all of a sudden a shadow exploded out of the sand, cut through the veil with a muscular tail and shattered one of the tyranitar's arms.

The harsh beating of wings was like music to my ears. The sand scattered away from the creature, revealing it standing guard in all its glory.

The flygon twitched.

It was the only movement it made before suddenly it had barreld into the tyranitar. The beast fell back with the blow, roaring violently as the flygon breathed green flames in its face. Its claws dug under the beast's scaly hide and ripped away tender flesh beneath, wings beating in tandem with each scream.

The girl looked like she was about to faint. I wasn't sure whether or not I was going to either. She pressed a hand over her heart and burst into nervous laughter. "That… that's just too impossible to be true."

"Yeah," I said reflexively. I had no idea where a flygon of all things would have come from.

It took a moment to realise just where it had come from.

"I know that flygon!" I shouted, pointing wildly at it. It had to be her! Adryan's starter! If she was there, it meant that he had to be alive! The celebi had to have been lying!

The air grew cold as the shadows seemed to bunch together. Black, liquid shadow seemed to coalesce into the form of a looming ghost with a haunting red eye. It floated there on the spot for a long moment before smiling just slightly.

"Allow us to offer a hand," Ripper said with a gentle voice.

I nearly burst out laughing. A little chuckle fell from my lips before I could stop it. "I knew it had to be lying! You guys could have come a little faster! We've only had to fight a goddamn army of ancient pokémon! Where the hell's Ayd?"

Ripper looked away. I felt sorrow punch me in the gut again. "Master Adryan is no longer of the world. This is his final request, as it were."

I fell backwards over myself. Hearing about Ayd's death from the celebi was one thing. I could have always assumed it was lying. But from Adryan's pokémon themselves? I couldn't question it.

He was dead.

Dead and gone.

Just like the celebi had told me.

"I…" I looked away from the ghost and found my remaining pokémon coming to find me. They were all looking worse for wear. Erra was missing a wing, Lacey had patches of hair that had been ripped out and a hand with missing leaves. A few of Loki's gemstones were cracked, Scar had a little tear in one of his wings and Alistair had a crack in his bladed helmet.

But most importantly, at least they were still alive.

"Is it just you two?" I asked Ripper.

The ghost floated backwards with a smile. "Not quite."

Irenui beat her wings and took to the sky. The tyranitar roared and picked itself off the ground, glaring bloody murder at her. From behind it there was a sharp squeal before a beam of ice struck it in the face. The tyranitar fell over, hit the floor with a loud thud and was a block of pure ice within two seconds. There was another squeal before something barrelled into the frozen pokémon and shattered it, throwing frozen blocks of tyranitar everywhere.

Above its frozen head, Adryan's castform did a little dance. His gardevoir appeared with a flash of blue light beside it, accompanied by the large form of his lapras. It moved awkwardly on the rocky floor, snarled at the ground and froze it over for something to actually move on. A tropius dropped down from the sky and form its back rolled off a large rock that contained his shuckle.

"Huh," the girl grunted in amusement. "The cavalry's really come by to save us, hasn't it?"

Behind us, Alistair screamed.

The celebi floated behind him, perfect calm on its face.

And in its hand was Alistair's severed arm.

"Well, this is nice," it said conversationally. "A bit sweet though. And you know what too many sweets give you?"

It speared Lacey with Alistair's arm.

"Heart failure."

I felt like I was experiencing that myself. I didn't know which one of my pokémon to go for first. Alistair was leaning on one knee, clutching the stump that was the remains of its arm. Lacey was face fist on the ground, twitching violently and with Alistair's missing arm blocking the hole in her chest.

I grabbed Alistair by the shoulders first. He was closest. He told me was fine and that it was 'but a flesh wound'. I snarled at him but said nothing of it. I was beside Lacey next, checking to see if she was even still alive. Blood was pooling all around her, staining her hair red. The celebi floated above us all, cackling madly.

I recalled Lacey and tried to do the same for Alistair.

[I will still fight,] he told me. He glanced at his arm laying some paces away from him on the floor, heartbreak in his face. He closed his eyes, shook his head and instructed Scar to do what needed to be done.

Yet again the smell of burning flesh took to the air. Alistair winced and once it was over, held a glowing blue hand to what was left of his arm. He flexed his remaining limb, tested his weight and glowered up at the celebi.

"Aw, I've offended him," it cackled. "Should I be sorry? Should I beg for forgiveness? Should I-"

Adryan's castform cut it off by freezing it solid. Hale laughed at the frozen celebi block, reared backwards and went to strike it. Within the ice, the celebi's eyes shone blue. Hale stopped dead in his tracks, spasmed in the air and dropped like a log.

I was barely aware that the gardevoir was trying to tend to it as Ripper and Irenui both leapt at it. Ripper darted into the shadows and appeared behind the celebi. With a snarl he grabbed both of its arms, pulled in either direction and removed them from the creature. He escaped just as Irenui charged into the thing, landed on it and pushed it into the dirt. She roared, snapped down on its head and came away with half its face in her jaws.

The celebi took to the air again, skull exposed and bleeding. One of its eyes was hanging free from its socket. The other swivelled madly in every direction. A vine reached up and snatched its leg just as it went to escape. It glowered down at the venusaur. The muk slithered up behind it and threw up a cloud of poison over the thing.

The celebi screamed and writhed under all the pain. Blue filtered out from behind its skull, leaking into the air itself. The muk trembled with unseen force as the venusaur shrieked and was thrown clean across the clearing. With a final roar the muk exploded, covering everything nearby in fuming waste.

The celebi vanished. It appeared again, fully healed moments later, radiating power and hovering behind Ripper.

There were no one-liners. It didn't stop to casually fling death threats.

Instead it darted through him, glowing blue the whole while. He convulsed as it carried on past, stopped in front of Irenui and punched her in the face. One of her red tinted eye shields cracked under the blow. It teleported behind her, kicked her in the back, appeared again beneath her and punched her in the gut hard enough to make something crack.

It vanished again.

This time it appeared in front of Willow. It seemed to stop before her, taking her in. A smile crept across its face.

The gardevoir was shaking. Her bloodthirsty scream told me it was anything but fear. She leapt at the creature, screaming incoherently. It became a teleporting match of destruction. Every time they appeared again, her claws her dripping with more blood and green flesh. Every time, she seemed to be a little more worse for wear herself.

It carried on for a good minute before Leif rumbled. The tropius snatched the celebi from the air, bit down hard enough to break bones and threw it to the floor. With a roar, he fell down upon it, splintering the ground beneath him. He rumbled, lifted up a foot and continued to stomp down on the bloody mess of the legend beneath him.

When he finally stopped, there was eerie calm for a moment.

Then a blue glow snapped his legs in every different direction.

He collapsed to the floor with a scream. A bloody and beaten celebi hovered above him, dripping blood and puss down onto the floor. It flickered in the air and appeared in front of Siren, regarding her with a laugh.

"Is there anything sadder than a beached lapras?"

Her response was to freeze it solid.

I threw myself in front of Ripper when he went to attack the frozen block. "We need to kill it in one blow!" I screamed at him. "Can't you see? Everything else is just making it more angry! Get the tropius out of here! It needs healing!" My hands were shaking as I handed him the two filled poké balls I carried. "These two as well! Just do it!" I screamed before he could argue.

His eye narrowed. Finally he breathed a sigh. He took the balls from me, floated over to Leif and disappeared into the shadows. It was a long moment before he reappeared, floating above the frozen celebi.

"We need to take out its time travel and life in one," I told him. "Best bet is to just explode the whole damn thing."

I glanced backwards at my pokémon. They all looked eager to end this. As did the girl and her pokémon. Adryan's pokémon looked ready to murder it. Only his shuckle remained stationary. It had done nothing the whole time, merely remaining hidden inside its shell.

I wondered idly if Adryan had really thought things through when it sent that to help me.

It was then that the ice exploded and let loose the monster within. Psychic power rolled off it in waves. Stones from the earth started rising up from the floor. The leaves in the trees started leaning towards it. It was like a nexus; drawing in power from everywhere.

Gravity seemed to flip on its head.

Scar bounced down at my side, hissing at the sudden change. He grabbed me and hunkered down, Loki trapped underneath his body. Erra flickered from underneath Alistair, who leant down next to me. The girl's venusaur wrapped her in vines and held itself to the ground. Ripper was slowly being drawn towards the celebi. He grabbed Hale as he was drawn in and tried to flaot away from the power. Siren hissed and snatched them both, grabbing Ripper by the back of his neck in her mouth. Irenui flapped her wings, grabbed Willow and dug straight into the earth itself.

My hands were shaking as I tried to pry free the gun from my belt. I knew I had one shot. One shot that would kill the thing and end this for good.

One shot, with what seemed like a time limit of thirty seconds.

The gun wouldn't stop rattling in my hands. I tried to steady it as best I could. I had to aim for the base of its brain. Behind the eyes, at the very bottom of its brain. That was where the organ that let it navigate through time was. A little bit above that was the part of the brain that helped it teleport. Just behind them both was its spinal cord.

One shot.

No pressure.

I breathed out, took a long breath in and held it. I wished I had a sniper rifle in my hands. It would have made things so much easier. Easy or not, I had to take the shot.

I wasn't nervous. I was full-out terrified.

I saw my chance.

I pulled the trigger.

And the bullet bounced off an invisible barrier.

My heart almost literally fell apart. I watched the little piece of metal bounce across the floor as my pokémon tried their best to keep up grounded. Erra clicked wildly and tried her gravity tricks. It made everything feel heavier, but it didn't seem to be enough.

That was it. There was nothing else I could do.

I looked forwards at the sight of the shuckle, still hidden within its shell. Slowly the force of the celebi's power seemed to draw it in. It teetered forwards, nearly going over. I saw the pokémon with glance out of one of the holes. It looked up at the celebi and its whole shell seemed to shine.

There was a sound like a gunshot.

I blinked and suddenly the shuckle wasn't there anymore. I saw it plough through the celebi. It carried on barrelling until it shined again and dropped to the floor some distance away from it, squashed celebi still covering its body.

In the nexus of the power, half a celebi's body dropped to the floor. Its brains were pouring out of what remained of its skull. One of its lungs was there, still trying to take in air. All that remained was half a head and less than a quarter of its torso.

With nowhere to go, the power it had collected exploded outwards. Even with the weight of my pokémon covering me, I was still sent flying. I landed in a heap some distance away, Alistair and Scar draped over my back, Erra on my head and Loki squashed beneath us all. The girl screamed as her venusaur nearly flattened her and Adryan's pokémon flew in every different direction imaginable.

I pulled myself up and found my arms were shaking too much to support me. In fact, my entire body was shaking as I stared over at the shuckle. It poked its head out of the top of its shell, glanced at the celebi, then at the remains covering its shell. It licked the meat tentatively before hissing and recoiling back into the dark depths it called home.

I burst out laughing. After everything, it was finally dead! I couldn't believe it was over. I couldn't believe that I'd managed to come out of it alive.

I couldn't believe a shuckle had killed a celebi.

I climbed my way out from underneath Scar and made my way towards what was left of the creature. Gemini had told me that they could be healed by taking them back to the pool of life. The one that healed them all. The one that apparently I'd been grown in.

There didn't look like there'd be much left to try and repair.

To make it even harder for them, I stomped down on what remained. Bone and brain squished under my boots and splattered everywhere. I reached down and made sure the required bits of its brain were dead. Just to be sure, I pulled them out, tossed them in front of the girl and let her blast them into dust with her shotgun.

Even if it could come back from that, it wouldn't be coming back for a damn long time.

Ripper floated up to me and glanced down at the remains. A long second passed before he turned to look at me.

"It is dead."

I doubled over with laughter. "No shit," I said finally.

He seemed to hum to himself. "Master Adryan asked us to help you. He said he knew it would come for you soon. He saw it. He made us swear to help you in whatever way we could. … I hope we have made him proud."

I looked up at the ghost. "I'm sure you have."

He didn't seem too convinced. "Your pokémon are with Master Chris. She will be happy to know you are still alive."

He turned and started to float away. He stopped just shy of the rest of his comrades and turned back to face me, almost like he'd forgotten something.

"There is one other thing Master Adryan said. He wanted you to know that only what sentenced you to death can relieve you from said sentence."

"T-thanks," I said after him, not too sure what he meant. He nodded, grabbed both Siren and Hale and vanished into his shadow. Irenui flapped out of her place in the ground, pulling Willow out. The two seemed to stop for a moment, noticing me.

I met Willow's eyes from a distance. She looked away, but I felt her voice in my head. [I do not blame you. Our master's murderer is dead. You and I were both used in sealing his fate. I will not hunt you when I am also guilty of the same crime.]

In a flash, her, the shuckle and the flygon were gone. I touched my head and felt the bubbling pain from my unwelcome guest dancing away.

"Remind me never to come to one of your parties again," she said with a smile. "They involve way too much death and destruction."

I managed a soft snort. "Serves you right for crashing in the first place. Though the next time I'm the guest of honour, warn me?"

She laughed. "Nice work back there. If it wasn't for that stupid barrier, you'd have gotten it. Real sharpshooter, aren't you?"

I smirked and said nothing. I made my way back to my pokémon and checked them out. They would live.

[Are you well, sir?]

I touched what remained of my ear and managed a small laugh. "I'm better than I've felt in a long while. That thing's not coming back for a long time to try and do away with us."

Just to be sure, I went back and stomped what remained into dust. Loki joined in, reclaiming his new scythe and merrily dicing the body apart. Erra poked the remains curiously as Scar hung back, conversing with Alistair in low whispers.

The girl walked to my side and stared down at the celebi's body. "For something that nurtured us, it didn't have much of a maternal streak, did it?" She smiled to herself and poked it with the toe of her boot. "And yet, that gooey, desecrated and broken body is somehow the most beautiful thing I've ever seen."

She hummed to herself as her pokémon loudly ate the remains of ancient pokémon nearby. "So Sharpshooter, I don't think we've formally met," she said cheerily. She spun on the spot and stuck a hand between us. "I'm Natasha. Natasha Keeper."

I grinned and followed suit. "Good to meet you. I'm Callum Swift."

 
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