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.


56. Return to the Origin

The truth is rarely pure and never simple ~ Oscar Wilde -O-O-O- "When your enemy is about to die, never lie. Nothing crushes hope like the truth when its wrapped in a punch to the heart." - Akuze 'Kangas' Khan, infamous pokémon warlord. (2398). -O-O-O- Run! My every instinct screamed at me to listen. To run screaming for my life, to never look back and to forget about the thing floating before me. It was the only way I'd be able to survive. "I wouldn't do that if I were you," the thing said. It rolled back a paw and stared at it, almost as if it were examining its nails. "I'm a time traveller, remember? Anywhere you go, I can just pop up there without any notice, even have myself a holiday in between. Being able to teleport helps too, of course." I backed away and hit the wall behind me. "So what are you planning to do to me then?" It shrugged carelessly, like it was deciding between drinks. "Well, mostly my plan is to kill you. But who's to say I have to do that instantly? You know what I've found out after centuries of doing this? People just don't seem to want to die when they don't know what's going on. And more than that, I feel bad when I kill them before they know why I even put them here. I mean, I've lived since what was nearly the start of time and there's still lots I don't know. Living for only maybe two, three decades? That's got to be rough." I gulped and gave it a shaky smile. "Well, you could always let me live for another few decades, at least then I'd figure out a few things on my own." It smiled at me then threw back its head in a laugh. "I like you. You're one of my favourite pets, you know that? Most of them… they're so boring. Do exactly what they need to, then they just accept death so quickly that there's no fun in chasing them down. They don't even care why they're being killed. At least you fight back." I pressed against the wall in an attempt to get away from it. I couldn't force my way through concrete, no matter how old and disused it was. As the thing floated around in the air, I waited until its back was turned and ran for the door. It appeared in front of my face before I'd even taken two steps. I shrieked and jumped backwards as it tsked and shook its head at me. I remembered just what I was dealing with and decided that maybe annoying it wasn't in my best interests. "Are you afraid to die?" it asked me. I backed away from it, slowly turning until I could run somewhere else in the building. Upstairs, outside or even just across the room, anything so that I could get away from it. "Would I be doing this if I wasn't?" "Good point," it conceded with a grin. "Do you know how annoying it is to not be able to die? At least, not permanently. Do you even know how we were created?" I nodded quickly. Anything to stall it, though it seemed happy enough to do that on its own. "You were created to keep balance of things, weren't you? You and your race, with victini as your jailors. They watched over you and made sure you did everything right, until you went to war with them and wiped them out." "True, all true," it said, waving a hand as if it held a large staff. "But I'll give you the full story. May as well. If I were to die for a final time, I'd want to know as much as I could. And let's face it; you're pretty damn unlikely to escape this, so no harm. And even if you do manage to escape, I'll still be back to kill you at some point. I'll be the one to kill you, the only thing that's uncertain is when I'll do so." It spun around, almost as if it were dancing. I couldn't stand how happy it sounded, almost as if it were enjoying lecturing me on everything. "You see, the first god there ever was… the first one pokémon ever had at least, created many things. The Dialga, The Palkia, all of those freaky-ass powerful beasties. Manaphy were created to guard the seas from The Groudon's total wrath, Shaymin, the land from The Kyogre. Mew were created with the idea that they could mutate so much they'd eventually be able to create any pokémon. Then there's Victini. They came about after we were created; we needed something that could make sure the power didn't go to our heads, after all." It sighed and just floated there for a moment. Its wings weren't beating, yet it remained held aloft in the air. Everything about it gave off power, even the air itself seemed to run away from the pokémon's very presence. "There were only a few of us at the start. We were all partnered up; one of us, one of them – Victini. They were good partners," it reflected with a smile. "Then why'd you kill them all?" I asked. It shrugged. "Honestly? There's another side of the story you haven't heard. Some of us thought that we should be able to have further control over the timeline, to directly influence what was happening, rather than changing little things to create an effect hundreds, if not thousands of years later. Then the Victini, well they decided that if they were strong enough to guard us, why couldn't they take our power and use it better than we could?" It rested a hand underneath its chin and sighed. "You see, there's always two sides to every story. You just really happened to see the same one most of the time. "Anyway!" It reclined in the air, almost like it was sitting down. "We went to war, things happened and only one of them survived. But that's not my point! You see, there was little use in creating something that could travel through time and alter it if they grew old and died. We don't ever change, you see. I was like this when I was born, others of my kind are now exactly as they were when they were born. We're constant, whilst time is ever-changing. It was the only way to make sure that we wouldn't die out and leave the timeline to screw itself over." "You don't age then?" I asked it. "You're born as big as you are?" It shrugged. "Everything's made differently. What's the point in making us able to age if we have to be constant? You see, because time keeps us as a constant, we can't die. While we can actually die, we never stay dead." "What's that supposed to mean?" I asked it. I was slowly making my way towards the door. I knew it wouldn't be long before I could escape out of them. Then the celebi vanished from in front of me. "It's hard to explain," it said, directly behind me. I span around and found it floating there, blocking the only way between me and the exit. "I know!" it exclaimed, snapping its fingers. I was surprised it even had any to snap. "There's this programme you humans have on your television. It has this really strange guy in a big, long blue trench coat that has sex with a lot of men whilst fighting aliens." I frowned. "It rings a bell," I said, searching for a new exit. "Well," said the celebi. "Would you believe I actually met him? Long story short, I pissed off The Palkia one day and in his rage, he threw me into another dimension where pokémon don't really exist. And then lo and behold, there's that man in a blue trench coat. He saw me and told me that I was a 'fine specimen of otherworldly beauty'. Then he decided that we should spend the night getting to know each other. "So I killed him." "You killed a television character in another reality?" It was insane, even for my life. "Exactly!" the pokémon spun around and winked at me. "Except, well, he didn't stay dead. A few seconds later he gasped and suddenly came back to life. Let me tell you, when I put a hole in someone's chest, I generally don't expect it to repair itself and for the person to get up moments later. Anyway, I wiped his memory of me just before The Palkia pulled me back here. But the point of this is that whoever that guy was, he's like us celebi. We can't stay dead. When we die, our bodies can be repaired, then we come back to life again. It can be pretty slow when we're not placed somewhere special, but when we are, we heal pretty fast. "But there's one big problem when we die. The first few times, our bodies take as long to repair as we have been alive. So if we've been alive for a year and we die, our bodies take another year to repair. Eventually we get better at repairing, but…" It sighed and actually managed to look sad. "None of us knew. Can you imagine, living for like twenty years, then staying dead for another twenty? There's an afterlife for us pokémon, you know? I'm not sure about humans, but when we die, we see the afterlife, even get to experience it. "If it takes twenty years for our bodies to repair themselves, that's twenty years we spend in the afterlife. Then we're ripped out and placed back into these bodies once more." It pointed at its head. "Can you imagine remembering that all? After that, we stay dead for half of our lifespans. Then it keeps halving until we're pretty much coming back to life in seconds." "That's… horrible," I said, unable to help myself. After so long hating on the creature for what it had done, it was strange to see things from its side. I frowned, hearing my thoughts and became aware of a little pressure on my brain. I smacked at the air between us and bared my teeth at it. "Nice story, but don't press on my emotions to agree with you." It shrugged. "Force of habit. But can you imagine what we have to go through, whenever we die? We didn't even know this at first. The first of us to die was nearly fifty-five years old when he died. Imagine our surprise when that amount of time later, he came back to life. Since then, we've realised just what happens. So when more of us are born, we kill them." "You kill your young?" I wasn't sure whether to be horrified or intrigued by that. "It helps," it said with a shrug. "That way, they're only in the afterlife for a few minutes, at most. When they live, they don't have to carry around this massive weight on their shoulders, knowing what lies for them in the beyond and knowing that they'll never be able to reach it." I glanced backwards and saw no escape route. Only more empty space. I glared at it all and tried to figure out a new way. Maybe I could go up a flight of stairs and leap out of a window. "So where does this all fit into your master plan involving GS Balls?" It smiled again. "That's a bit further down the line. You've heard of The Arceus, haven't you?" "The current pokémon god?" I said with a nod. "It beat the other one about a thousand years ago, didn't it?" "Correct!" the celebi laughed, throwing its hands into the air. I half expected confetti to appear out of nowhere. "That holds the power now. And part of that power is being able to decide the fate of the rest of pokémon. Do they live or do they die? Do their powers stay the same, or do they get changed? That four legged goat didn't change anything when it attained power. That's why we need someone who knows our perils to take over – to enact our plan!" "That's why you let out the original celebi," I deduced. "That's the only one of you strong enough to beat The Arceus, isn't it?" It teleported in front of my face, grabbed my cheeks and laughed. "Close, but not close enough!" There was a hum and suddenly something knocked me off my feet. I landed on the ground a few feet away, rolled into a wall and stayed there for a moment, winded. The celebi appeared in front of me again, reclined in the air as if lying on a couch and shook its head at me. "You were doing so well too!" It barked a laugh at me as I tried to see where my fallen poké ball had rolled to. Nowhere that I could see. The time devil floated down and took up my vision again. "We've got a better plan for all of that. You see, to take on the title for godhood, really, you've got to have a few special tricks. Regigigas is able to create followers out of rock, ice or metal. Arceus can split itself into different copies that represent the elements. Being able to pop back and forth through time just isn't enough to cut it against those sort of skills. But, there's always one alternative to tricks, isn't there?" I coughed out what tasted like blood and glared up at it, knowing exactly what it was talking about. "Brute force." "Bingo!" This time, confetti really did appear when it threw out its hands. It gave me a confused look when I stared blankly at the paper. "What? I'm psychic, remember? I can read your thoughts quite easily, dark adaptation or no. Plus, being able to pop back and forth through time almost imperceptibly helps." "Back to my point." It slammed one fist into the other. "Brute force is the key now." "What pokémon are you going to use for that then?" Try as I might, I couldn't think of anything strong enough that would be able to do something like that, as well as being able to be tricked or enthralled by a few celebi. "You won't have ever heard of it. After everything that's happened, it really hates humans. In fact, it wants to destroy them all. So we get both our goals; we can die and so does the rest of the world. Without a world to look after, we don't have to exist to look after it." It smiled and placed its hands behind its head. "I don't get why honestly. You humans are so useful. None of this would have ever been possible without you guys. Because you were all so inquisitive, you went out, found what you needed to and messed around with it. And now, you've saddled yourselves with mewtwo." The name was like another language to me. I blinked at it from my place on my floor and tried to push myself up to my feet. "What? I've never heard of that before." "Of course you haven't," the celebi said. "Why would have you? Everyone that knows about it is dead or under its thrall." It laughed and shook its head. "To think, everyone was so confused when that Champion in Kanto decided to waste his life away living atop a mountain. No one ever thought that he'd encountered something he shouldn't have. Mewtwo hates humans. He wants them all dead. And right now, he's our boss." "Your boss?" That was surprising. I managed to push myself to my feet and winced at the bruises I could feel already forming. "How? I mean, why the hell would you actually let that pokémon control you? How do you know it's even going to let you all die when – if – it beats The Arceus?" It shrugged. "We have our ways. Favour for a favour, that sort of thing." I didn't like the tone of its voice. Just like that, I realised what it meant and exactly what they were planning. "You're going to double cross it. Wait until its beaten Arceus, or until they're both worn out, then send in the thing you let out of the GS Ball and let it beat them both." It gave me a look that betrayed just how right I was. "I don't know what you're talking about. We're planning on honouring our agreement." It was that busy on pretending to be innocent, I saw an opening. By some small miracle I saw the poké ball I'd dropped. It had rolled right nearby where I was standing. I leapt at it, managed to grab it before I hit the floor, rolled and threw the thing before I could even stand back up again. It was another miracle when Lacey popped out of the ball. She didn't need instructing on anything. As soon as she saw the celebi, her eyes narrowed, she hissed and then she threw and arm at it. There was a massive gust of wind that rattled everything in the place, yet the celebi just vanished from where it was and reappeared behind her. She hissed, spun around with her hand outstretched and went to slap it. It ducked underneath her blow as she vanished out of existence. The celebi floated up into the air as she appeared beneath it and sliced at nothing. It sighed at her, almost like it was disappointed before it kicked her in the back of the head and sent her flying across the room. She crashed into the wall, groaned and fell backwards, dazed and out of it. I flinched as the celebi slowly turned to face me. I wanted to run towards my pokémon, but the celebi's gaze on me was pretty much paralyzing. "I know, I was hoping for more too," the celebi said. "You can let out some more pokémon too. I'd always be happy to knock out a few more." "Shut up," I growled at it. It threw back its head and laughed. "So full of anger! See, that's what I like so much about you! Out of everyone we could have used, you were just so perfect for what needed to be done! All that anger that's been cultured; it's really quite remarkable what can happen in the space of a brain and a few years." "Shut up!" I screamed and threw a poké ball at it. It bounced off the thing's head and exploded open, dumping Gemini almost on top of it. There was a long silence as both the psychics looked at each other, the tension thick enough I could almost see it. Gemini broke first. She roared and kicked at the thing. The celebi just blinked from existence and appeared a few paces away. Gemini spun around, eyes glowing. Little bits of debris started to cluster towards her, orbiting her, spinning faster and faster. I jumped back and grabbed onto the first stable structure I could find before I got pulled in too. All the while the celebi just sat there, no expression on its face. With the sound of an explosion, the debris went flying at the celebi. It gave it one simple look, gestured with a hand and sent everything crashing through a wall. Gemini appeared behind it with a flash. Electricity discharged from her horns as her tail snapped onto the celebi's back and clamped down on its wings. Her tail shook the celebi like a rag doll, yet the whole time the celebi remained motionless. With a little explosion of dust, the celebi disappeared, revealing the real one floating behind her, watching with an interested smile. "Hello to you too." Gemini snarled and reared back again. The celebi sighed and just teleported away yet again from another attack. "Really?" It asked, clearly bored. "How long is it going to be until you give up? I might not be getting any older, but you'll probably have forgotten who you are by the time you've finished." [You killed my foal.] Her voice was deadly calm, enough so that it made me shudder, though I wasn't even the target. I moved around them as subtly as I could, aiming to get Lacey and run the hell out of there as quickly as possible. [You made him experience a hell that should never be inflicted on any living creature. I will make you pay until you regret every second of torture you inflicted!] I made it to Lacey as the celebi burst out laughing. "Regret? Why would I ever have that? Everything I've done has worked out perfectly. Your spawn was just collateral. And I wouldn't be going anywhere if I were you." I froze; Lacey draped across my shoulders and gave a nervous glance towards the celebi. It fixed its gaze on me, shrugged and spun around Gemini. "Would you honestly leave this one here to deal with me? Actually, yes, you probably would. But you realise what's outside this building, don't you?" I took a quick glance towards the hole that had been opened up in the wall. Laying all around the building was a massive forest that encompassed as far as I could see. Images of people strangled by trees sprang into my mind and I shuddered. "You raised this one well," the thing said as it turned back to Gemini. "At least this one realises danger and knows its place." [Do not dareto-] The celebi gestured with a hand and instantly Gemini stopped speaking. She looked as shocked as I was, her eyes flickering blue. "You're starting the bore me," the thing said. With another gesture, Gemini was knocked off her feet, into the ceiling above and then back down into the floor. It floated up a little and became just a shadow in the sun looming above it. There was a deathly stillness to the air moments before a huge blast of energy hammered down into Gemini, destroyed the floor surrounding her and left her at the bottom of a small crater. "That's better," the celebi said, theatrically wiping its forehead. "Don't worry, she'll live," it said as I glanced towards her. "Really I should have done to her what I did to her kid." It stopped and smiled like a serial killer. In a way, I suppose that's what it was. "It was pretty funny, actually. It thought it could help the trainer to do so much, but well, I think you've learnt that it's kinda tough to best something strong in battle." It had mentioned before that special skills were used to beat the previous pokémon gods. Brute force was the last option. Maybe I could use it in the same way, I figured. Try to exploit something about the celebi, if not, attack with all guns blazing. First, I needed to distract it a little longer. "So that trainer, just what did you want him to do?" It shrugged. "Simple, meaningless things really. He did it quite well too. All he had to do was become a public figure, spread fear and mentions of a horrible future to everyone and that would be that. His job was done, so he was… fired." I winced at the way it said that. I didn't want to know just how fired he was. "So that was his entire goal? What did you get out of that?" "Progress." It smiled and rubbed its hands together. "Make the humans panic and they tend to either group together to survive, or attack each other. So exploit that, sow the seeds of distrust between everyone and soon enough, it all boils over. Humans will be so busy attacking each other they won't realise that pokémon have had a change in leadership and the world is doomed until it's too late." "So is my future before or after that plan of yours blooms?" It gave me a look I didn't understand then burst out laughing. "Oh, don't worry. Your future's non-existent. You're never going to live long enough to see anything happen anyway." Its eyes glowed and something punched me in the stomach. I dropped Lacey, doubled over, coughed up blood and leant on all fours as the wind flew out of my lungs. "You see, there's a number of different ways I can kill you. Each and every one more fun than the last." It appeared in my face suddenly. "But, I suppose you know full well about that now, don't you?" I moved to punch it. It laughed and floated just out of my reach. I glanced away and saw the remains of the people's bodies it had already killed. I knew they had to have weapons on them. Mine had been taken from me. It was my only hope. I blinked and the celebi was floating above them all, spinning three guns around in its psychic grasp. "Looking for these?" it asked. It snatched one out of the air and investigated it with almost child-like curiosity. "I've always wondered, just how do these things work? Humans are so inquisitive, it's kinda unfair really. We know everything we need to, as well as a few things we don't need to. We accept what we know and act because of that. My species know we can't die, so we act because of that. Humans though… you always have to figure out the reason behind everything, even if you already know what happens." It closed an eye and pointed the gun, miming shooting something. "Before, I used to be so confused about why you did that." It dropped the gun and let it float in front of it, almost like a phantom spectre was grasping it. "But then I realised, that was what made you so brilliant! I mean, give a pokémon a rock and tell it they'll never make it bleed; they'll accept it and keep the knowledge. Give a human a rock and tell them it will never bleed and they'll do everything in their power to find out exactly why it never would." I snorted at the thing, air only just coming back to my lungs. "That's because it has no blood. How can it bleed if it doesn't have blood?" "Exactly!" It grabbed my cheeks, forced me to smile and then teleported onto my back and used me like a chair. "That's what I mean. You seek to understand everything, even if you know you never will. I admire that and that's why I try my best to tell you everything I know before I kill you all. I mean, you're going to die anyway, so no harm in letting a few secrets spill out, huh? And so far, everyone seems to always accept death a bit more if they realise they know everything I can tell them." It teleported again, back to the floating guns. It grabbed one, held it again and squeezed the trigger. It went off with a bang loud enough to scare the celebi into dropping it. It looked at the gun on the floor, over to the bullet hole in the ceiling and burst out laughing. "See that? That's awesome! That comes from humans seeking to understand things. There's a few pokémon every so often that want to learn like humans do, but for the most part, we're always comfortable knowing what we know. "Which brings me back to my original point." The guns all grouped together on invisible strings and before my eyes were squashed into one misshapen lump of metal. With a flick of its wrist, the celebi sent the lump flying into a corner of the building. "Humans like to learn about things. Natural things, unnatural things, other humans and even pokémon. They have to learn about it all. That knowledge has brought about a lot of things, like porygons. Castform too, though let's not get into that. The main thing humans have done is create mewtwo. The problem is… they made it too… human. "We psychics are limited, you see." It floated down and sat on Lacey's unconscious body, shifting long white hairs out of its way. "It's a means to make sure we don't go crazy with our power. Because we always accept what we know at face value, we don't get annoyed at what we don't know. Now, imagine giving something with psychic power the equivalent of a nuclear bomb, then give it human characteristics, like needing to understand everything." It gestured with a hand. "On the one hand, it makes a good project." It pulled out the other. "On the other hand, bad idea. Create something that needs to know just why it was created? Going to drive it insane. Mewtwo doesn't know why it was created. Why it had to endure all those experiments. Why it's the only one of its kind. Because it's got human attributes, it doesn't even know whether or not it's human or pokémon." It disappeared from Lacey's back and sat down on the remains of a broken wooden pillar. "Now, factor all of that information in. Add to it that not only is mewtwo quite frankly the most intelligent pokémon in existence, but it can also learn anything it wants to by eating brains." I nearly choked right then and there. "It eats brains?" The celebi rolled its eyes. "Metaphorically speaking. It's a psychic, it basically telepathically rips the information out of something's brain and absorbs it itself. Now, putting a creature with that ability in a room with possibly the most intelligent human scientists of that generation?" I winced at the implication. The celebi laughed. "That's exactly the reaction I was expecting! See, pokémon like me, we hear that, we understand it, we say nothing on it. Only a few pokémon would be able to wonder why something like that happened. The fact that I can't…" It shook its hands besides its head and scowled. "It infuriates me! That I know I should think like that and yet can't actually do so!" It sighed and placed a hand on its head. "That's why humans are so useful for changing things. If you told a pokémon to do something, most of them would do exactly just that, not doing anything extra on top of it all. Tell a human? They have to figure out what every possible action might cause. They're like ripples in water, one causes more and more. All we need to do is tell you to do the most important thing, then everything else just falls into place then and there." While it was busy talking, I slowly moved to grab the emergency release on my bandolier. Once my fingers were within an inch's grasp of it, they suddenly locked up, almost like something invisible was holding them back. "Wouldn't do that if I were you," the celebi said lazily. "I've already defeated two of your pokémon without much effort. Two of your strongest too. Really willing to risk anymore? They might not survive it." I glared at it and pulled back my hand. It smiled at me. "Good. You're not as dumb as you look after all." I frowned at it. I had nothing else on me. My bag was somewhere, most likely lost forever. My pockets were empty and all I had on me were my pokémon. I glanced over at the dead bodies and wondered just whether or not they'd brought pokémon with them too. "These?" the celebi said, holding out a collection of poké balls before it, all floating eerily in the air. "Psychic, remember? You think it, I hear it. These are just collateral, really. Except these." It flicked two poké balls away into the air. They rolled in either direction of me, one landing near where I left Lacey and the other near what looked like a rattata hole in the wall. "Empty," it sighed dramatically. "As for the rest of them." A simple hand gesture and the remaining poké balls were reduced to dust. I flinched as I watched it, remembering Sophie. Everywhere I looked, it seemed like the celebi had the upper hand. Then I caught Lacey's hand moving. I smirked as she grasped the poké ball and continued to play dead. "You don't leave anything to chance?" I asked the floating creature. It grinned and leant back in the air once more. "Why should I? When I was new at this, I made a lot of mistakes. I've learnt from them. Even now, I might make some. But it doesn't matter, because if I use anyone after you, at least I'll have learnt from whatever might go wrong here." I glanced at Lacey and caught her eye. Slowly she pulled herself to her feet. "Mistakes like what?" I asked. Lacey was on her feet instantly. With shaking limbs she managed to throw the poké ball at the celebi. It spun around just in time to catch it in the face. The poké ball cracked open with blinding white light that encompassed the entire creature. Even when it was merely white light, it still looked bored. It gestured with a hand and the poké ball snapped in two, leaving it back where it was, a little more shaken then it would probably have liked to reveal. "That was unexpected," it muttered. It turned around and its eyes widened just a little when it saw the rest of my pokémon staring it down. It blinked, yawned and leant back in the air again. "Oh boy, more victims." Erra zapped it at the same time Loki vanished from sight. The celebi teleported out of the way, grabbed Loki from the shadows and kicked him into the magnemite. Alistair caught them as Scar leapt into the air and bathed the celebi in flames. It looked at the charmeleon just before the flames hit, threw up an orange barrier and watched without interest as the flames parted before they even met it. Another gesture and Scar was sent flying out of the air. On shaking legs Lacey tried to slash at the creature, but it just teleported behind her, kicked her in the back of the head and watched her crash into the floor. Alistair leapt at it, elbow blades glowing black. Everytime he attacked, he met only air. The celebi dodged or teleported between each blow, occasionally stopping to poke out his tongue or even just laugh. Alistair scowled, sliced at it and teleported at the same moment it did. He appeared behind it, brought down both blades on its head and splattered the floor with blood. The celebi drew back, holding a hand to its head. It sighed, floated up to the sunlight and became just a silhouette once more. With a flash it was gone, appeared behind Alistair fully healed, grabbed one of his elbows and snapped the blade off. He bit off his scream as quickly as he could, leapt into the air and kicked the celebi away. His hands shook as he tried to reattach the severed blade, but nothing seemed to be happening. One of his hands glowed blue as it held the severed blade to his elbow, slowly forcing them back into place. Loki grabbed the celebi after Alistair kicked it, bit down on its wings and dragged it into the shadows. Suddenly the building came alive with screams. Each and every shadow bled lucid green blood. Finally they appeared once more, Loki looking rather battered but with the remains of a wing in his mouth. He smirked at the celebi as it scowled, holding its hands over a few larger cuts. I caught Alistair's warning just in time. I scrunched my eyes shut and saw bright spots as Erra lit up the room. I peeled them open and found myself staring at ten copies of her, all floating round the celebi, fixing it with the same one-eyed stare. The celebi rolled its eyes and gestured at one. It exploded into empty air. The real Erra latched onto its back, glowed silver and dragged it down to the floor. All around me the air seemed to feel heavier as Erra and the celebi headed for the ground even faster. They hit it with enough force to send wood and concrete flying everywhere. Erra came out of the dust, clicking wildly just as it caught fire. The flames whirled around us all, sucking in all the remaining air. Finally they peppered out and revealed the celebi floating in the middle, somewhat lopsided and with both arms broken. Then I saw there's something orange glowing in its mouth. All the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end. Everything became quiet. The glow was almost hypnotic. I couldn't do anything but watch. Then an explosion tore through my ears. The glow headed towards us like a speeding train. Out of nowhere an orange barrier appeared. The beam smacked into it, sent cracks running through it like network of veins. There was a sound like metal breaking just as the barrier shattered and the beam flew off in every direction, peppering the building and bringing an entire section of the roof down nearby. My heart was racing faster than I'd ever thought. I glanced back and saw Gemini panting, barely able to stand and with a small smile on her face. And against all odds, the celebi still floated there, watching us. Everything done to it seemed to inconvenience it less than a zubat bite. "That wasn't nice," it said. Its throat sounded sore and burnt out. One of its wings was charred beyond recognition. It scowled. "So now you've left me with little choice. What does a leader do when his subjects rebel? He makes an example." It thrust out an arm. I flinched. Nothing happened. Then with a small smile, it started moving its hand between us. "Eeny, meeny, miny, mo. Catch a lopunny by the toe. If it squeals, slit its throat. Eeny. Meeny. Miny. Mo." It vanished and appeared in between us all. It winked, grabbed Scar and disappeared yet again. A second later it appeared in front of us again. This time, without Scar. It took a moment for my mind to process it all. "W-where is he? What did you do to him?" The celebi laughed. I noticed that somehow, it was fully healed. Everything we'd done was for nothing. "I made an example of him. A little trip through time, nothing big." It floated back and examined its nails. "Right now he's somewhere in the time stream having to deal with the biggest, meanest pokémon you've ever seen. I give him about five minutes until he's used as a toothpick by a big, ancient aerodactyl." Everything inside me seemed to die. All I felt was cold. "No…" I whispered. I couldn't get my head around it. "That's not possible." "Totally possible," it said with a laugh. "Ask your girafarig. I did it to her kid, after all." I glanced at her. She looked down to the floor, eyes shining, not saying a word. "How?" I whispered as I looked back. "How are you undamaged?" It smiled. "Hello? Time traveller. I'm gone for a second for you, but I could have spent a year on holiday. After I dropped off your lizard, I took a nice, healing vacation." It clicked its neck. "Just the trick, really. All those injuries have gone." It was true. Everything we'd done was for nothing. "Don't worry, I'll soon bring the rest of your pokémon to visit him." It smiled and met my eyes. "You though? You'll never get to see him again." "And why's that?" I growled. "You already dragged me through time once! As if you're against doing it a second time." It gave me a flat look. Then it burst out laughing. "Wow, the power of belief!" It shook its head and wiped away a tear. "A little psychic pressure here and there, a bit of blurring the lines and what do you know? You've created a whole set of memories!" Something about what it was saying felt eerie. It made my skin crawl and the back of my neck shiver. "What are you talking about?" It laughed again. "You! The ultimate project! The final project!" I wanted to throw something at it. "Shut up and tell me why you damn well took me from the future in the first place! Why didn't you save Alex and just take him instead?" Its eyes met mine again. They were brimming with laughter and behind that… pity? "Dear, sweet, silly human," it said. "You just don't get it, do you? You're not from the future. You never were."
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