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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53. Memories

Remember me and smile, for it's better to forget than remember me and cry ~ Anon.

-O-O-O-

"Everything unravels eventually. Be it time, patience or even your beloved sweater, soon enough it will be reduced to tiny little strands. The key isn't to hold onto the strands until there's nothing left, but to let them go so they can form something else that someone else may be able to enjoy."

- Thorton Modnar, Battle Factory Brain 3003-3012. (October 19th, 3007)

-O-O-O-

"What the hell am I supposed to do now?"

I buried my face in my hands as I stared out of the windows in the pokémon centre. The windows were covered with the constant drizzling rain, the grey sombre sky reflecting my mood with almost eerie precision.

I'd tried researching as much as I could.

I came up with nothing.

There were little things on the internet – little spots of hope that were talking about some sort of weird pill or treatment that was being discovered or researched that could somehow help me. Every lead was a dead end though. Some more literally than others, with all of the test subjects dying within a few days. My own days were numbered, but I knew I'd rather live out a longer life rather than taking a pill and only having a couple of days.

There wasn't a single thing I could do, it seemed like. I scribbled out another line of useless information in a notepad and glared at the paper, as if it were to blame for everything wrong in my life.

Pain in my head stopped me from doing anything more. I hissed, slapped the side of my head and wondered just what the hell hated me that much that it would give me such a thing to suffer through.

Briefly I wondered whether or not one of my own psychics could have done so. Or maybe even one of Marsha's. It wasn't like I saw anything or anyone else in my dreams, after all. For all I knew, they could have used it all as an elaborate ruse to get rid of me.

I pulled the thought as quickly as I could. It wouldn't do me any good to become so paranoid I was distrusting my own pokémon. I told myself it wouldn't have happened – I had both Alistair and Lacey on my team. Alistair would have been too honour-bound to let something like that happen to me – I got the feeling he'd try and settle any problems he had with me through a duel. Lacey on the other hand wouldn't have let anything happen as it would interfere with her own plans. She seemed to want to see how everything was going to play out – with me out of the picture, she wouldn't have been able to see that much.

Something powerful was out to kill me. I decided it had to be the celebi. I couldn't think of anything else that would want to kill me so much. The only problem was trying to figure out a reason why it would do such a thing to me.

I sighed and tried not to think about it. Thinking hurt my head. My pokémon were busy being healed and helping the tumour to kill me wasn't exactly in my best intentions. I threw my notebook in my bag and checked myself into the pokémon centre, intent on getting at least one night's good sleep since leaving the Cluster.

The meat rips with a sound I've grown so accustomed to. It sounds like someone tearing paper.

Only this sounds a lot wetter and comes with a hefty stench too.

The smell of roast swallow drifts around me, fills the little camp I have with a fragrance I haven't dared to think about in a long time. Yet it feels safer here, all the way in Mossdeep. It's taken me nearly three months, but I've managed to get from one side of the country to the other.

I tell myself I'm just trying to survive.

I know that really, I'm just seeking revenge.

My mantine flutters around near the sea, breaking the surface and gliding over the ocean in quick leaps. A buzzing remains by my side – a large vespiquen that never seems to leave my side. I know I should normally be afraid. My every instinct that I've grown up with and nurtured tells me that I should be running. Yet I know she belongs to me. Little details about her still elude me – what the hell is its name? – but I know for certain she's loyal to me.

A little shuppet floats around nearby, drifting through shadows and cackling as it scares things away. It glances at me, pokes it tongue and phases through a house, scaring whatever lies within. I curse, hope that there's no one inside – living or otherwise – and decide I need to train it more.

The weight of two empty poké balls in the back of my pack feels heavy, even when it's not on my back. The weezing and the zangoose – my pokémon – that no longer travel with me.

That woman and her damned gyarados saw to that. I still don't know whether or not she meant to kill them. Her demeanour every time told me that she thought it no more than a joke. Yet each time she outsmarted me and got away while knocking me out.

I rub my head, feel the scarred over cut at the back and tell myself it's not going to happen again. Even if I have to kill her, I'll make sure she doesn't do the same.

Yet a little part of me wants to let her live. She's outsmarted me twice. It's something I've never really contended with – nothing ever seems to be able to outsmart a sniper at long-range. I respect her, but I hate myself for it.

Something like glass smashes in the distance.

I leap to my feet instantly, kick sand over the fire and glance around for any threat. The vespiquen hisses something near my ear, mandibles clacking wildly. The mantine shouts as it glides in to shore, hovers around us both and stays at least a foot above the ground all the while.

The shuppet floats back to us quickly, cackling all the while. I curse, wonder why the hell I even decided to catch it and hope that it only knocked something over in an empty house.

Then I hear the screams.

I curse and glance back to the ocean. The tide's too strong right now. If we went out in it, I'd be crushed and left for sharpedo bait at the bottom of the ocean. I need to stay alive and right now, that looks like it means I have to fight my way out of a little island.

It's been about an hour since the tide came in and got violent. It cycles every four hours.

I need to survive for three hours until I can escape.

It sounds simple enough to the ears.

Until I remember the hordes of things ready to eat me and my pokémon.

I check my gun. Loaded. Three clips weigh heavily in my pockets. I've got a shotgun nearby with maybe thirty spare shells if I'm lucky. After that, I'm pretty much boned.

I do have the sniper rifle lying in my pack. But I need to unpack and assemble it. It might not take long, but I don't want to risk one of the fast ones coming up too close.

"Get ready," I tell my pokémon. "We've got a battle on our hands in a minute."

Strangely enough, nothing comes our way. We're left in silence, waiting there, increasingly agitated as the screams continue in the town. I frown, convinced someone's either dying or they're luring people in. I sigh, wonder just what the hell's going on when something grey and rotting shambles out on the hill above. It notices us, moans and takes a step, only to fall down the hillside and land in a crumpled heap at the bottom.

It takes a lot for me not to just laugh at the thing then and there. It groans feebly on the floor, still reaching at me and my pokémon. I roll my eyes, stalk forwards with my gun still trained on it and with all my body weight in one blow, stamp down on its rotting face.

Dark, dank blood splashes everywhere. I pull a face, shake what I can off my shoe and glance around. There's nothing else there. The screams have stopped, but I don't know why.

I know I shouldn't investigate. But I need to. If the things are here, they might be nearby. I'm not safe on the seafront. The sea's too dangerous to escape in. The only other way out would be through the things if they came. I don't want to risk it.

I nod for my pokémon to follow me and jog towards town. Rotting dead line the floors, each of them showing signs of battle. All of them are dead and down, this time for definite.

I'm not alone.

I wonder just who the hell I might find when I pass by the remains of a store. Mirros line the entirety of the inside, reflecting me back at myself.

It's strange – I'm older than I remember.

Something moves behind the mirrors. I jump, then grip my gun tighter and inch closer. I spot blonde hair that seems quite long. The face is soft, yet hard at the same time.

Whoever she is, something about her seems familiar. I step up on my tiptoes, catch her face and lose my breath for a moment. I recognise her!

It's not the woman who killed my pokémon. It's someone else.

Someone familiar.

I just can't remember who.

Then like a shot, it hits me.

When I woke up I was still a little shaken. The woman with blonde hair remained in my mind's eye. No matter how much I tried to think of something else, she remained there in my mind, red warning bells going off at the same time.

There's no way in hell Marsha should have been there.

I rolled over in my bed and reached for my phone. It was a little after oh-four hundred and still dark outside. I had no idea whether or not she would actually be awake. But I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep after seeing such a thing.

I hit the call button and rolled back over, waiting for her to wake. It took all of five rings for her to pick up.

"What?" she grunted, half asleep.

I coughed; suddenly realising I'd likely woken her. "Urm, were you asleep?"

"No," she drawled and I could practically hear her eyes rolling. "I was busy refining my stamp collection. Of course I was asleep, you nitwit! And I was having a really weird dream too." She stopped, left me in silence for a moment and finally grunted. "I think you were in it. Weird."

I bit my lip as more warning bells went off in my head. There were too many coincidences dancing around.

"The celebi," I finally said. "Why are you after it?"

She sighed. "Is that what you're phoning about? At this time of the morning? Really?"

"Really."

"You know why. Part of my job-"

"Is it really about your job though?" I wanted to ask if she was from the future too. It didn't seem right for her to appear in weird dreams I was having that seemed to be from the world I grew up in.

"Is it really – of course it damn well is!" Something crunched in the background, like she was strangling a plastic bottle with her free hand. "You think I'd really waste my time hunting down a create of legend if I wasn't being paid for it? Do you know how many people have wandered into the forests in search of something like Celebi or Mew and never come back? What the hell's bringing this on?"

"Just…" I shook my head and realised how stupid I sounded. "It's nothing. Sorry I woke you."

"That it?" she growled. "You wake me up; question me about who knows what and now you think an apology will cover all of that? What's this really about?"

"Nothing," I said reflexively. I realised I wasn't going to get anywhere with any of this and knew that eventually I'd have to give her an explanation. "Look, I'll tell you another time, alright? Whenever Wally's better and we meet up again, I'll explain a few things for you."

There was a long silence that started to unnerve me. "Alright," she said finally, tone blank. I felt my heart race a little, scared of what it could all mean when she hung up and I wondered just whether or not I'd made a bit of a bad decision.

"This isn't going to end well," I said to myself. I ran a hand over my face, glanced again at my phone and lamented the sleep I wasn't going to get for the rest of the night. With nothing left to do, I hopped into the shower and decided that I'd make my way towards Mauville. It seemed like Marsha was going to be busy with Wally for a while and I felt like visiting Chris. I knew she could help me with a few things. More than anything, I was hoping that she would be able to help me narrow down the mysterious psychic that chose my brain as a play thing.

I made my way downstairs and collected my pokémon from the nurse working at the unholy hour. The air outside was cold, crisp and so fresh it felt like my nose was on fire.

Speaking of fire, I let Scar out of his poké ball for some company. He gave me a strange look once he emerged, almost like he already knew something was wrong. He sniffed at me, growled something I couldn't understand and poked his own head with a claw.

"I don't know how this has happened," I said, guessing it was what he was talking about. "Something has it out for me. Something psychic and powerful."

The mention of psychic made me remember Gemini. I let her out of her poké ball, watched her stretch and take in the new sights before she fixed her gaze on me.

[Finally. You would think it would be too much to ask for to not be contained in one of those capsules for extended periods of time.]

I rolled my eyes. "You needed healing. Easiest way to do that was to put you in your poké ball. And besides, there's pokémon that can let themselves out of their poké balls on their own; if it's such a problem for you, why don't you let yourself out when you need it?"

She faltered for words, snapped her head away from me and trotted away with her nose held indignantly in the air. I smirked to myself and heard Scar snicker a little beside me.

"So anyway, something powerful has it out for me," I continued to Scar. "Don't know what it is, but it's likely whatever was hiding in the Cluster and creating that really weird hazy fog. You got any ideas what that thing was yet Gemini?"

She shrugged. [I cannot tell. I have never encountered such a pokémon before. If we encounter it again, I may be able to tell you what it was.]

It was nowhere near as helpful an answer as I hoped she would give. I only had two real hopes left for figuring out what the thing was; either discovering it on my own, or actually meeting the thing and finding out from it first-hand.

I didn't know which one I wanted more.

Yet again I found myself at the familiar ranch. The sounds of pokémon all around were as loud as ever and nothing seemed to have even changed.

I rang the doorbell and stood there for a good few minutes until it was finally answered. There stood Chris, wearing only a large shirt, her hair everywhere and her artificial arm not even attached.

"What?" she grunted sleepily. "It's not even seven. I'm sleepy. Go away now."

"Chris?" I said before she could shut the door. She blinked, waking up slightly and squinted at me as if I were a hallucination. "Urm, hi."

She stared at me for a moment longer, pinched her shoulder and finally sighed. "So I'm not dreaming then. Great. What's up? I'm running on two hours sleep and no caffeine at the moment, so please say that something important has happened."

I rubbed the back of my head. "I suppose you could say that."

She sighed again, rubbed her eyes with a hand and pulled back the door. "Fine, come in. Give me a few minutes to administer caffeine into my veins and become slightly human. And make sure your girafarig doesn't cause a mess in my place. I've only just tidied up."

I nodded and slipped past her into her house. Gemini followed after me, remaining silent the entire time and moving carefully around everything in the house. She stood next to the couch as I sat down in it and watched Chris as she practically inhaled what seemed to be a metric tonne of energy drinks.

[I take it you trust this woman then?] Gemini asked me.

I nodded. "Yeah. She's helped me through a lot. I'm hoping she might be able to help figure out what the hell happened in the Cluster. She's also really good friends with Adryan, so I might be able to find out from her what's happened in Lavaridge in that place."

[And if she knows nothing?]

I stared down at my feet. "Well… it'll be nice to see my friends one more time, if this thing is really out to kill me."

Chris shuffled back into the room before Gemini could say anything. She'd pulled on a pair of shorts from somewhere and fixed her hair into a ponytail, but still looked as half asleep as ever. "Here," she said, pressing a mug into my hands.

I looked down at the contents and pulled a face. "Uh, Chris? You realise you've left a teabag in coffee?"

She blinked, looked into her own mug and swore. "Sorry. I'm really not with it. I'll sort that out for you."

"It's alright," I said quickly, pulled out the teabag and put it in an empty takeaway container. "Really, it's fine. I could do with the extra wake up call."

"Right," she said sleepily, seemingly falling asleep as she breathed in the smell of her coffee. "I'm awake," she said as I waved in front of her face. "Just… let all those energy drinks kick in. Long night. A few eggs here hatched last night. Baby miltank are loud, let me tell you that. I spent most of last night helping their mother get them ready for the night. And securing the field so that wild pokémon won't be able to sneak in and eat them."

"Oh," I said, feeling guilty. Twice in the space of a morning I'd woken up two of my friends. "I can come back later, if you want?"

"It's alright." She shook her head, blinked and rubbed her face again. "I'm awake. It's all kicking in now. If I go insane, I've just drank too much energy boosters, alright?" She took a long swig from her drink before asking me, "So why are you here? Is this to do with Adryan and your falling out?"

I scratched the back of my head awkwardly. "Sort of. Not really. I don't know to be honest. How much of it all did he tell you?"

"Enough. Right now, I'm too tired to care about the arguments you might have planned for yourself. Your pokémon killed his; you kept quiet about it. Then you threw it all in his face when you found out that he'd been a bit silly with trying to figure out the future." She sighed and rubbed her head. "I swear, as long as I've known him, he's always wanted to save the world. I told him it would kill him but…" She looked away, pained and tried to cover it as quickly as she could. "I don't like what you did. I also don't like what he did. You're my friend, he's one of my best friends. All I can say is that you're both in the wrong, but you're both right to do what you did at the same time. I'm not taking sides in this."

I wanted to know if he'd mentioned to her that he'd killed an innocent just because he thought the man had killed his pokémon. Instead I kept my mouth shut. I knew better than to try and turn Chris against Adryan. Instead I sighed and stared at the murky brown liquid floating around in my mug.

[If you don't tell her what you came to, I will.]

I glared at Gemini, then stared at the floor again. "I honestly don't know where to start."

"How about after the fiasco in the old Magma base?" Chris suggested. "Ayd said you found a load of bodies and… mush in there. Then something happened that forced you two apart, then you turned up at his, took your gallade back and you vanished with some black haired woman."

I looked up sharply. "You know a lot about what's been going on, don't you?"

She shrugged. "Ayd and I are close. He's like a brother to me. I know all his dark little secrets and he knows mine. Despite everything he may or may not have done, I still trust him more than anyone."

"Right," I sighed. No pressure. I swirled my drink and decided that I should probably start from where she left off.

Instead what came out was, "I've been having really weird dreams."

Chris stared at me, unblinking for a long moment. Finally she groaned and fell back into the chair. "So you're telling me you came all this way, woke me up at this time of the morning to tell me you've been having weird dreams?"

I shook my head. "No, but – I don't know! It feels like they're more than dreams. But they're always around the future – the one I grew up in. I don't get it, but they're getting stronger and my kidneys always hurt after I've had the dreams and they seem more and more real."

Chris rubbed her eyelids. "Alright. I see why that's freaking you out. But honestly, I'm not an expert there. You'd have to ask someone that knows something about psychic powers to understand what's going on there. What about your girafarig? She tell you anything?"

I glanced at Gemini and shook my head. "Nothing. Aside from commenting that they're interesting."

Chris pursed her lips, glanced at Gemini and then back to me. "Interesting," she said.

"Exactly," I grunted. "But that's not the real reason I came here. I went to the Cluster-"

"You went to the Cluster?" Chris was on her feet and nearly spitting acid. "Are you completely insane? Do you have a death wish? What the holy hell were you doing in there?"

"Investigating," I said. "I got a lead celebi might have been there. The one that brought me here. I wanted to go after it. I was with the black haired woman – her name's Marsha. Everything down there was weird. There were almost no pokémon moving around in there. And there was a really strong signal or something in there. It was making a fog in our minds, making it so that we couldn't think. We were just following it, slowly falling prey to it until our psychics warned us about it all.

"Then well, something knocked us out. There was this really weird sort of dream that we all shared, but little details in it all were different. Then later on, my psychics told me that somehow… whatever had done it had given me a tumour."

Chris sat there, stunned. It took her a couple of attempts to even form words. "You… you have a tumour?" she whispered.

"Yeah." I kept staring at the floor, as if the answer to all my problems would appear over it. "I don't know how. I mean, I remember there being really weird things in my mind. Then there was this sort of… room. A big screen was there and it played out little scenes of me dying. Every time it was different. I was never the same age, nor was I ever in the same place."

"That's… pretty precise," Chris said. She stood up and started pacing, sipping her drink as she did so. "I mean, that's nothing like what I've heard. I spoke to Adryan after what he did. I've researched all the medical journals they have on witness accounts of doing such a thing. Every time, it was always the same story. It was like a fog of pictures and videos. They could never really tell what it all meant, but everything stuck with them. From that they had to try and figure everything out. This is… this is just… are you sure you didn't purposefully look into your own future somehow?"

I snorted. "Why, if given the entirety of the future to look at, would someone focus on their own death?"

"Good point," she agreed. "This just makes no sense. Actually, it makes less than no sense. What the hell was even hiding in there that did that?"

I shrugged. "I was hoping you might be able to help there."

She snorted. "Because I'm such an expert on pokémon, aren't I?" She sunk back into her chair, ran her hand through her hair and sighed. "I don't know. The Cluster… it's connected to elsewhere. The tunnels go underneath the earth and can reach places like Sinnoh, Johto and Kanto. Maybe even Unova, but I'm not sure about that. It basically means that it could belong to a really strong pokémon from any country."

"Great," I sighed. "But it's got to be something that has some form of psychic power, right?"

"Yeah." She stared off into the distance, thinking. "I don't remember anything about that in any of the journals I read. I'll have to have another look." She sighed. "There goes my day off. Seriously, can you and Adryan both just decide next time to not stare into the abyss?"

"I'll remember that in my next life," I said flatly.

"Sorry," she said quickly. "But I worry. And there's nothing that I've found that could get rid of that tumour. Not even surgeons can- it's right on the bit of your brain that controls all your subconscious functions like breathing. They can't cut it out without coming too close to removing a little part of that brain and screwing you over. I mean, you're my friends and I can't just let shit like this happen without trying to find a way to help."

She sighed, growled and balled her hand into a fist. Finally she screamed and threw her mug clean across the room, shattering it on the wall opposite. "You stupid fucktards!" she screamed as she leapt to her feet, pacing wildly. "What the hell is wrong with the both of you? I mean, seriously? 'Oh look at the future, I can know everything there needs to be known, so what if it might kill me!'

"Did either of you stop to think that maybe, just maybe there's people that don't want to see you die? I mean you, creepy child-soldier from the future, did you stop to think that there might be a way to solve problems without putting your head through the portal? Then there's Adryan who's got a great job, a fantastic boyfriend and a pretty awesome life who throws it all away just for a chance to play hero?" She screamed again, balled her hand into her hair and sunk to the floor. "Morons! You're both utter morons!"

"It's not my fault!" I cried. "I didn't exactly want this to happen!"

"But somehow it did," she snapped. "Just… urgh! First Ayd does this, now he's getting so much worse and you've gone along the same lines-"

"Ayd's gotten worse?"

She sniffed and flopped down on the floor, staring up at the ceiling. "Yeah. He thinks I can't notice, but he is."

I found myself speechless. When I last saw him, he didn't look too different to normal. Maybe a little thinner and paler, but not too different. Of course, it wasn't like I'd made an effort to talk to him about it all since he pretty much said he wanted me out of his life but still…

I was about to say something when my phone bleeped. I growled at it and opened it to find a text from Marsha.

Mauville pokémon centre, one hour.

I glared at the screen and realised I'd have to leave right away to get there. I cleared my throat awkwardly. "Urm, Chris? I've got to go. Something's come up and I need to sort it out?"

"More about your hunt for a time traveller?" she sniped.

I flinched. "Something like that. I can put it off if-"

"Go," she said flatly. "Just… go sort out whatever it is you need to do, alright? Whether you wanted to screw around with psychics or not, it's happened now. Don't waste what's left of your life."

"Right," I said. "So, I guess I'll see myself out then? Urm, thanks Chris, you know for-"

"Don't worry about it," she said, waving an arm, still lying on the floor. "Just do me a favour? Go see Adryan sometime soon."

"Sure," I said quickly. "Thanks." I waved for Gemini to follow me out of the house, feeling guiltier than ever about everything. Maybe telling Chris about it wasn't the best idea, but I needed to tell someone. Adryan hated me, Mia was dead and I still didn't totally trust Marsha.

I told myself that meeting up with Marsha was best. If I couldn't figure out where the celebi was and whether or not I could put the world right, at least I might be able to ask the Unovian agent just whether or not she was more connected to the time pixie than she let on.

"Took you long enough."

I found Marsha waiting outside the pokémon centre in Mauville dead on an hour later. She gave me a quick once over, smirked and then nodded towards the distance. "We need to head out. Lilycove's our destination. The old Aqua base in underwater over there, but that doesn't mean the only way to get in is through the ocean. I want to check out a few things over there – see if something in there matches what we found in the Magma base."

"Alright," I said. "When we leaving?"

"Now," she said and before I knew it, the world vanished in a blurry haze. Not even a second later it reappeared again, leaving me completely confused and my internal organs in what felt like an alternate dimension.

I doubled over and held my gut. "Please tell me the next time you plan on doing that. Some warning would be nice."

She laughed. "But where's the fun in that?" Her jynx appeared beside her in a flash of light, murmuring softly to her. I straightened up and looked around the town, taking in the old style architecture and looming cliff face at the edge. The sea crashed down below, audible even from a distance and the entire town seemed to be in situ from centuries before.

"Lilycove's a strange place," Marsha told me. "Every building here is protected, so when they're refurbished or whatever, the outside has to remain exactly the same. It's nice, but weird at the same time. But it's peaceful though."

"I suppose," I grunted. "How many people fall off that cliff and to their doom each year though?"

She shrugged. "Not as many as you'd think. But off the top of my head? I dunno. Come on," she said as she started walking. "We need to get to the beach. There's a little hut there which leads into where we need to get going."

I raised an eyebrow. "And you know this all how?"

She smiled. "Information's part of my job. It'd be pretty stupid to send me somewhere without telling me what I'm expecting, wouldn't it? Now that I know Wally's safe and sound, I can carry on with my job without worrying too much about him." She put her hands behind her head. "So where were you earlier?"

"Visiting a friend. How'd you know it'd only take me an hour to reach you in Mauville?"

She reached into a pocket and held out a little machine for me to see. "GPS. Not hard to track your phone wherever it is. You didn't think I'd let you get away that easily, did you? You know a lot about me and everything I've done; I can't just let you run away without keeping tabs on you."

I glanced at Gemini. She gave me a look that let me know Marsha was telling the truth.

"Well who would believe me anyway?" I grunted. "Not many people are likely to believe Unova have spies working as Sinnoan gym leaders."

"There's always someone that out there that will believe something. No matter what it is, at least one person will always believe it." She slid her phone back into her pocket and walked on ahead. "So what was that phone call this morning about?" she asked over her shoulder.

"Nothing."

"You expect me to believe that?" she stopped in her tracks and whirled around to glare at me. "You had something to say. You told me you'd explain things. Now start explaining."

"Easier said than done."

"I don't care how easy or hard it is. You wanted to tell me something? Tell me! What are you so afraid of?"

I snorted. "If I told you that, then you really would get suspicious." Her gaze remained impassive yet strangely coercive. "Look, I just… something happened and it freaked me out. Basically it made me question who you are and how much of what you've told me is actually true. And well… if there's a link between us that I didn't think was there before."

She raised an eyebrow. "This sounds like a really cheesy movie line. You aren't about to declare undying love for me are you? Because I'm taken."

"Not that," I said with a laugh. "It just made me wonder how close you are to the time travelling thing we've been hunting."

"Not close enough," she grunted. "At least if I were closer, I'd be able to figure out what it was up to or just where the hell it was. At the moment, I'm completely lost. Why, is that the thing that's meant to link us?"

I faltered, afraid I'd given away too much. As kind and friendly as Marsha was, she did seem to be on top of things in order to make sure I couldn't double cross her. More than that, she seemed devoted to her job. Telling her I was a time traveller probably wasn't the best idea.

Still, I figured I had to trust her a little. I'd just start off small.

"That celebi we're after? It brought someone through time. I met her for a little while; she told me a few things. Then she died."

"Celebi behind that?" Marsha asked, intrigued.

I shrugged. "Maybe. I'm not too certain. I just need to find out. Put the demons to rest, you know?"

She sighed and ruffled her hair. "Well, if that's true, it explains a few things. But I've never known anyone that could travel through time, not personally at least."

"What would you do if you knew one of them then?"

She folded her arms as something flashed in her eyes. "Dunno," she said, face impassive again. "It would depend, wouldn't it? I mean, our official protocol is to report anyone we know like that, but… I guess it's always a bit hard to find one person in amongst the billions that live on the planet, isn't it? Especially if they don't actually exist." She threw her arms up and turned around again. "I really don't know. Guess we won't know until I meet one of these mysterious people, huh?"

"Yeah, I suppose so," I said distantly.

Then without warning, Marsha suddenly stopped. Gemini threw me a glance I didn't quite understand and even the jynx seemed a little unnerved.

"You're the one connected with The Celebi, aren't you?" Marsha said, voice no more than a whisper.

I felt something worse than fear hit me. "N-no! Of course not."

"Then why haven't I been able to find you on any database?" She put a hand on her head and sighed. "Look, I don't know why you're not in the systems. But don't treat me like an idiot. I was willing to pretend I hadn't figured things out until you dropped the really obvious hint like that."

"Oh," I said stupidly. "So… how long have you known?"

She shrugged. "Long enough. Before I met you again here in Hoenn. Well, I didn't know, but I suspected that something wasn't right. To be honest, I thought you were living under a fake name or maybe even a high-up government official. Now you've gone and dropped that bombshell…"

"Well…" I sighed and decided that there was no point now in trying to hide anything. "Alright then. Truth is, the celebi we're after is a busy thing. It pulled me from my time eighty years from now and plonked me here. All I know is I'm meant to stop my war torn, barren wasteland of a future from happening. And I'm a little freaked because I keep having really weird dreams where I'm in my future, but older than I am now and further in the future than when I left. And in the latest one, you were there too, which is more than a little strange."

She barked a laugh. "Well I'm definitely from this time zone. Unless everything I know is a lie." She glanced back and looked down at the beach. "I need to do this mission. When I report in, there's psychics around that scan my brain to let them know if I'm telling them everything. There's little things I can do to trick them, but it can't really go more than a conversation. You've helped me out on a lot, but you've given the game away now." She sighed and nodded towards the other end of town. "Get going. I've got this job to do, then I need to report in and they're going to be after you."

I balked and backed away a step. "So, how long do I have before your guys start chasing me to the end of the earth?"

She shrugged. "A couple of days, maybe? That's the longest I can delay everything for. This is me thanking you for helping me with Wally. Otherwise, I'd turn you in here and now."

"Uh, okay. Thanks, I guess."

She shook her head and walked away. "Don't thank me. Disappear."

I took her advice and walked as fast as I could to the other end of town. My heart was racing all the while. I knew it was stupid to press my questions as I did. But I needed answers. Answers I never got.

All it got me was running for my life from clandestine government agents.

[I don't understand why you didn't just kill her.]

I shook my head at Gemini. "Wouldn't do any good. Remember that trick she used with the dusknoir? She had to have learnt it from somewhere. Easier for me to disappear rather than me killing her. She's been nice to me, I don't really want to kill her. That and I don't want her buddies chasing after me in revenge."

[So where do you wish to go from here? Was she not our only lead in order to find our target?]

I shrugged. "Maybe. But think of everything that's been happening. It's all linked somehow. Once we figure out how, we can tie together where our friend might have vanished to."

I was on autopilot as I tried to make my way out of the city. Instead I ended up heading towards the edges of the cliff, near the large, looming lighthouse and watched the waves far below crash against each other.

I didn't understand why I'd walked there. My aim was to escape the city, yet I'd ended up trapped by the ocean, almost like in my really weird dream.

And like in the dream, I could hear someone trying to train their pokémon.

It was all a bit weird. I shook my head to clear it and told Gemini that we were leaving. As we tried to leave, a little tiny pig bounced along the grass in front of us, snorting a sound like laughter.

Not far behind the spoink was its trainer. As soon as I noticed her, I froze in place. It was like a ghost had come to haunt me.

A ghost, wearing a familiar trilby hat.

 
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