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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33. The More You Know

People are usually more convinced by reasons they discovered themselves than by those found by others ~ Blaise Pascal.

-O-O-O-

"There is one thing that everyone shall experience in our lifetimes; that sometimes the more you know about something, the less you actually want to know."

- Jessica Malnoir, Forbidire City Gym Leader and world-renowned author. (February 13th, 3011)

-O-O-O-

I often thought that my friends were legally insane.

Once Mia and Adryan met, I decided that I had to be the insane one, for befriending them all.

It all seemed to have started well enough; she met us just outside the pokémon centre and predictably threatened him. He seemed stunned until he told her he'd tie her up by her feet and dangle her upside down from a lamppost.

After that she told me she liked him more than me; the traitor that she was.

I looked out the window, watching the night sky for a while. We were in a small bar on the side of town; a remarkably modern building in the middle of such a basic location. It, like the gym, looked like an ancient temple from the outside, though it had transparent windows that maintained the outside's ancient appearance. We'd decided to go for a few social drinks and somehow it ended up a 'take the piss out of the soldier' night.

"I can't believe you named your charmeleon Scar!" Mia laughed at me, tears sparkling in her eyes as she clutched her stomach. "And here I thought you were at least slightly mature."

"I didn't name him," I grumbled, my ears burning bright red. "He overheard it in conversation and decided he liked it."

She laughed again. "You're being controlled by your pokémon. You sap. Next thing you know they're going to have you in a dress and doing ballet dancing."

Adryan burst out laughing. "I'd love to see that. Hey, I've got two psychics; think we can manage to achieve it?" he asked conspiringly as he nudged her in the side, a wide grin on his face.

"I'll fight you every step of the way," I growled, keeping a straight face. "Or I'll convince them to have you dancing alongside me."

"I'd like to see you try," he cackled. "Say Mia, do you have any psychics? We could have him bouncing on stage like a little ragdoll."

She shook her head and looked sad for almost a moment. Then just like that it was gone. "No; they've told me that I'm not allowed to have anything too dangerous anymore." She winked and wrapped her fingers around her wine glass. "They're afraid I'm likely to rain down hell on anywhere with people."

"Can I join you in that?" I asked. "We can fire Adryan out of a cannon first and make him splat against a skyscraper; that can be the first sign they're being invaded."

Mia smiled and placed her drink back on the table. "But that'd only work the once," she pointed out, her nose scrunched in confusion.

I shrugged and smirked as one. "Not if we glue his corpse back together and fire it at the next town."

"Hey!" he protested as we both started laughing. "What did I ever do to you? If anyone deserves firing out of a cannon, it's you."

"We should line him up with a few trampolines though," Mia decided, her hands making gestures to her words. "That way he can bounce off one, hit another and keep going, bouncing along all the while!"

Adryan snorted. "Or he'll just plough through them all and become a stain spread across the all."

She smiled again. "I think I can live with that."

"I'm so glad you're planning my death for me," I grumbled. "Do I at least get to know when this is going to happen?"

"Of course not," Adryan answered me. "That way you can live in fear for these next coming months."

"'Months'?" Mia repeated; one eyebrow over the other. "More like weeks. Being evil is something that needs to happen soon. You can't be evil over a period of years. Unless you're a dictator or just useless at being evil."

I rolled my eyes. "Yes, let's take advice from the clinically insane woman. If we're lucky she might not even sacrifice us to her strange, freaky God of the underworld."

"Nah, you're too thin and stringy," she told me without batting an eyelid. "He prefers the sacrifices to have some meat on their bones."

"Not even worthy enough to be used as a sacrifice," Adryan taunted me, his grin getting wider and wider. "What use will you have in life now?"

"Apparently only to serve as the butt-monkey towards all your jokes," I grumbled. "Letting you two meet was a bad idea. This amount of insanity should never be allowed to exist under one roof."

"There's yet more insanity to be had," Adryan warned me, his face deadly serious. "I haven't placed my underwear on my head and started declaring love for the Overlord as I run round in circles," he said, as his face broke into a smile once more.

Mia burst out laughing. "I'd like to see that. Is this insanity a ritual thing or just for kicks?"

"Oh no," Adryan said with a shake of his head. "It's reserved only for special occasions. You see, the Overlord is a massive pervert and wants all His best looking creations to appease him on that day."

"Obviously your Overlord is blind then," I quipped. "No one would want you running around with your underwear on your head."

"It'd be a sight to see," Mia commented. "You should start charging for it. Unless it's as bad as he says."

Adryan grinned again and rolled his eyes. "He just says stuff like that because he's deathly afraid I'll reveal the truth about him."

I pulled a face and remembered in one horrific moment that Adryan had access to all my memories up until the time I'd had Myos transfer them. I shook my head wildly, mouthing my pleas for him to stop talking.

Mia's eyes sparkled in mischief. "Now that does sound interesting," she said conspiringly. "Do tell; what secrets do you have to share?"

He tapped the side of his nose. "Ah, now that would be telling. I don't have a habit of spilling people's secrets... at least until I've had enough to drink."

I buried my face in my hands. "I hate you both," I groaned. "I have no secrets to be told. None! No more talking out of you Adryan!" I hissed in a whisper louder than I intended. "I'll lead you out into the middle of the desert and leave you in a pit of quicksand."

"Threats just mean that there is something to tell!" Mia gasped theatrically, loving every minute. I buried my face in my hands and prayed to whatever god that was listening that an onix would rear up and consume the bar whole.

Adryan grinned once more. "Ah, he's just all pissy because I've seen him naked."

My head snapped up, my mouth dropped open and it was like someone set a heat-bomb off in my face. My cheeks and ears burnt up as my stomach burnt with horrific cold at the mention of it. He'd seen my memories... it stood to reason that he would have seen me naked... he did say he was going to lord it over me but I didn't think he'd try and twist it into something like that!

Mia's eyes doubled in size and at any other time I would have found her expression comical. "Wait so... you and he?" she wondered, pointing between us both. "He and you? You're... I mean you're..."

"No!" I yelped, ears burning hot enough to melt ice. "No, nothing like that!"

"Denial!" Adryan cackled in singsong.

"Wow," Mia whispered, believing it completely. "So... you and he..."

"No!"

"... can I watch?"

I choked on my drink at her sudden question. Even Adryan's eyes went wide and he burst out laughing at Mia's look of complete innocence afterwards.

"There's nothing to watch!" I protested as I waved my arms frantically. "There's nothing like that going on! All that happened was some memory sharing with a psychic-"

She gasped and her eyes became dreamy. "That's so romantic," she gushed, blinking innocently up at us both.

"What?" I yelped, words dying in my throat as I looked wildly between her and Adryan for an explanation. "There's nothing romantic about it!"

"It's in all the romantic tales you know," Mia pointed out with a wide grin. "Two star crossed lovers decide that the only way they can further their relationship is by sharing their memories with each other."

I buried my face in my hands again and glared at Adryan between my fingers. "You never said there was anything romantic about it..." I growled at him.

He gave me another grin. "You never asked. If I'm given the chance to know everything about someone, why would I want to pass up such an opportunity?"

I let my head rest on the table and didn't bother looking up at them as I grumbled, "I hate you both."

After that night I decided Adryan was never allowed to meet any of my friends again, or if he did, I had to have the filthiest dirt imaginable on him to reveal to his friends in payback.

Though I doubted I could twist something the way he could and have people believing it.

Mia giggled by my side and I groaned, attempting to shift her weight a little around my shoulders. It turned out that she had a far weaker tolerance to alcohol than I would have imagined – which also meant that she brought up the topic of Adryan and I more and more. She was convinced it was Gospel, even as I attempted to distract her with other topics of conversation.

"I had a psychic once, you know," she revealed as I tried to lead her to her room. She was a heavy drunk – something which I didn't dare ever point out to her.

"He died," she said, rolling her head to the floor. "I had an espeon – I was a lucky girl and found an eevee – that's such a funny word, don't you think? Eevee. Eevee. Like 'eeh' and 'vee'." She started giggling once more before she realised she was meant to be telling a story and blinked slowly. "But yeah, I raised him up into an espeon. But then... there was this thing in The Seafoam Islands – have you ever heard of them? They're really cold. Like really cold. I could have cut glass with my nipples!"

I laughed awkwardly and pulled her up again. "You know what Mia; why don't you tell me this when you're sober? You'll remember what embarrassing conversations you've come up with then."

She frowned at me. "Are you – are you trying to say I'm embarrassing?" she stumbled, swaying on her feet.

I chuckled nervously and knew I had to choose my words carefully. Telling a sober woman something bad about herself was bad enough – when one was drunk, I really was treading a thin line over my impending doom.

"Very embarrassing," I said before I could stop myself. My brain finally played catch-up and I winced before quickly trying to cover up my slip. "You're drunk Mia; when is someone not embarrassing when they're drunk?"

She giggled once more. "That-that's a good point." She swayed on the spot and giggled once again as I tried to get her room key off her. After managing to rummage through her bag and pockets to find the damn keys with her giggling and making comments all the while, I succeeded in getting her door open.

I lifted her up once again and tried to guide her into her room.

"So... so you and Adryan aren't together then?" she asked, stumbling over her own feet and making me nearly trip over.

"No," I sighed more than said. "That's just Adryan being his usual, show-grabbing self."

She smiled and blinked drunkenly. "So you're not with him then? I mean... I wouldn't mind if you were, because you know I'm your friend and all, which means that I wouldn't want to watch at all." She burst out laughing again and leant on me again. "You're definitely, totally not with him then?"

"How many times Mia?" I groaned as I set her down easily on the bed. "There's nothing going on between us. There never has been, nor will there be."

"That's... good," she decided as she fell back on the bed. She laughed and shouted at the room to stop spinning, threatening to cover it all in cement in some effort to try and reason with it. Which resulted in her swearing at the walls when I returned to give her a glass of water.

"You're insane," I told her, unable to stop myself from laughing. "You are actually insane."

She laughed and pointed in my face. "You know it! Being insane... being insane is fun! Being drunk is fun! And you know what else there is about being drunk?" she asked, leaning on her side and smiling up at me. "It makes people do stupid things. I had wine, you know?" she asked, giggling to herself all the while. "Wine makes my clothes fall off."

I suddenly felt incredibly trapped and awkward. "Mia..." I started uncertainly. "You're not trying to flirt with me... are you?"

She laughed and rolled onto her back. "Am I not allowed to? You're not... you're not shagging Adryan... and even if you were, that wouldn't be so bad. And I so totally wouldn't want to watch, because that would be weird, and creepy and hot."

I laughed softly once more and pushed the glass of water to her lips as I forced her to sit up. "Sleep this off Mia," I told her, as seriously as I could manage. "You're drunk. And you're my friend. I'm not going to sleep with you and let this all be some sort of weird drunken thing that spoils our friendship."

She put the glass back down on the table with more force than she meant to as she rolled her head towards me, grinning impishly all the while. "Are you sure you're not gay? Most guys would sleep with a girl when she's drunk and when she's drunk... or you're saying I'm not attractive," she said with a frown. She blinked at looked up at me, one eye open more than the other in drunken haze. "And I hope you're not saying that, or I'm going to hold your face against one of those indoos-indess-industrical sand paper machines."

"Industrial," I corrected her with a small laugh. "And you're repeating yourself now. Go to sleep woman. I'm not doing anything because you're my friend. And I've gotten drunk and slept with friends and ruined everything before. You're just drunk. You don't really want to sleep with me."

"That's true..." she said and I ignored the subtle implications her answer had. "Your friend is funny though. Shame..." she sighed.

"Shame about what?" I asked, intrigued.

She said nothing and instead grunted as she leant back on her bed, groaning something about spinning rooms. "Thanks," she finally managed to croak. "You're a nice guy, have I told you that before? I mean, you're really nice; you helped me to be and stopped me being silly. Have I told you that you're nice before?"

"Go to sleep Mia," I told her, aware that she hadn't answered my question.

She smiled once and rolled over on the bed, groaning at the covers as she tried to pull them over herself. I laughed to myself at her antics once more before I did the gentlemanly thing and left.

After I stole all her socks in payback for Slateport.

I got back to my room a few minutes later, only to find Adryan's cranidos eating the shower curtains. Adryan himself was attempting – and failing – to win a tug of war game with the plastic from the growling creature, cursing every deity he could no doubt think of.

I leant on the doorframe, folded my arms and cleared my throat before he noticed me. He looked up, grinned and yelped as he lost his grip on the curtains and fell backwards on the floor. "Ow..." he groaned as the cranidos sped past my feet, shower curtain trailing behind it.

"That was... entertaining," I said, unable to find a better explanation.

"Yes, everyone fear my mighty manliness, right?" he groaned as he pushed himself to his feet, scrambled on the floor for the pokémon's poké ball and hastily recalled it before it could consume more plastic. "Remind me never to try and do that again."

"It was funny though," I pointed out.

"I'm sure," he grumbled as he picked up the sheet and stretched it out, assessing the damage. "You're back sooner than I thought," he commented as he bundled up the curtain and threw it on the floor. "Nothing came of you and your friend then?"

I shook my head. "She's my friend. I can't take advantage of her like that. Why does everyone seem to think I've got such a one-track mind?"

He grinned and waved a hand in the air. "Well, speaking for myself, I've seen most of your mind. You do seem to like just having a night of fun and then just running off on your merry way."

I shrugged. "Yeah... well, I do have some depth, you know?" I defended, a scowl beginning to set in on my face. "Maybe I like the thought of having Mia as a friend. Besides, I think she liked you more anyway."

He snorted once and then looked at me, visibly shocked. "You're serious, right?" he asked. Once I nodded a sheepish, silly grin appeared on his face as he laughed about it. "Can't say I blame her, but I doubt that."

"She pretty much said so," I related with a grin. "She said it was a shame about you... or something. I don't know - drunken mumblings I guess. But you two got along well enough," I pointed out. "Even though you were both sat there taking the piss out of me constantly, you seemed to hit it off." I felt an impish smile take over my face. "You don't have a girlfriend, right? Why not her?"

He laughed once more, sat down on the bed and looked up at me. "Well, among other reasons; you fancy her."

I flushed bright red and stared into the bathroom. "I don't know what you're talking about," I mumbled.

He barked a sharp laugh. "You couldn't have been more obvious! All you did was stare at her with doe-eyes the whole time we were in the bar! It's why I had to start tormenting you like that; you were getting far too lovely-dovey. I was starting to feel like a third wheel."

"So that's why you turned into a mega-ass," I said with a small frown. "Was there any need to make her believe we're going out? She still believes it!" I yelped as I pointedly madly in the vague direction of her room. "Do you have any idea how awkward it is to try and help your friend to bed while she's split between making drunken suggestions to you and saying she wants to watch you and one of your best friends have sex?" My face was burning with the memory of the humiliation alone. I sighed and my face dropped into an impassive facade. "Really Adyran? Did you have to say that?"

He bounced off the bed suddenly, wrapped his arms around me and rubbed his knuckles on my head. "Aw, so I'm your best friend am I?" he cackled in sickly-sweet tones. "I can't blame you." I knew he was grinning and shoved him away, making him fall backwards and bounce across the bed. He laughed and crossed his legs, a smirk on his face as he looked up at me. "You need to be able to take the piss out of yourself to have a sense of humour, you realise this?" he pointed out in sagely tones. "The more you can insult yourself, the less other people's insults affect you. If you can take the piss out of your sexuality too it just shows people you're comfortable with who you are.

"But I forget you're at the age of puberty and teenage hormones," he said with a devious grin. "Where it's a case of 'ooh, woman': erection! 'Oh, a man': erection! 'Oh look, a ham sandwich': erection!" he declared, laughing to himself all the while.

I crossed my arms and shook my head at him with a small, reluctant smile. "I'm guessing this is your way of telling me you were a sexually confused teenager? One that also had a lust for food by the sounds of it too."

He rolled his eyes and smiled. "Try and throw it back on me all you like; it just shows you can't take the piss out of yourself. Besides, if I'd said anything like that in front of anyone else, you'd have turned it all around on me. You just got that annoyed because you fancy her!"

"I don't fancy her!" I denied quickly, my face flushing hot once more. "Seriously, can I not be friends with a girl without people thinking I fancy her?"

"With you? No," he pointed out, grinning all the while. "Now be honest, how many times when we were out were you sat there, imagining her naked... imagining doing things to her naked body?"

"I... well, I mean..." I stuttered, heating up the entire room with my cheeks alone.

He laughed once more. "My point exactly. You fancy her!" he sang, cackling all the while. "You want to hug her! And kiss her! And marry her! You want little babies with her!"

"You're mad!" I spluttered. "Marriage? Babies? We haven't even so much as kissed!"

He lifted one brow above the other with a sagely gasp. "Ah, so you do fancy her then!"

"I... you... well... I hate you," I grumbled. He laughed once more and I felt the need to change the topic to anything possible.

"Have any of your pokémon ever died?" I asked, realising it possibly wasn't the best question to randomly ask. His laugh stopped abruptly and he looked up at me, his face somewhere between shocked and confused. "I mean, when I was walking Mia back, she started talking about one of her pokémon that had. I've already lost a wurmple and a makuhita. Surely you've managed a few?"

He shrugged, his voice losing all the humorous tones. "Well yeah, I'm not a magical trainer or anything. In total I've had six of my pokémon die – only one was through old age."

I sat down on my bed, pulled my legs up and then leant against the wall. "What were they?"

"First one was a shroomish," he related as he spun round to face me. "I only had her two weeks; I hadn't even got around to naming her when an altaria came along and decided that she was its next meal. That was in about the first two months of me being a trainer?" He looked confused a moment before he nodded to himself. "Four months later I lost a torkoal; I tried training him on a beach during a storm. A big wave rode in, swept up the beach and dragged him out to see," he explained, pantomiming his tale. "Poor Flint... never stood a chance at being able to swim."

I pulled a face. "You named a fire pokémon 'Flint'?"

He shot me a dark look. "I wasn't even eleven."

"Okay," I winced. "Sorry." Definitely a case of putting my foot in my mouth.

He shrugged. "It was two years after that when another died – a noctowl. Then a flaafy almost a year later and a toxicroak two years after that. I'll explain those to you at another time," he promised me with a wave of his hand. "Worst one was actually a few months ago – Scout, my linoone. I caught him as a zigzagoon when I was just starting out on my journey ten years ago. He was an amazing creature; he was always trying to push his limits and didn't seem to let anything beat him. He was determined to be an amazing swimmer and would swim wherever he could, just trying to improve himself as much as he could.

"He died a few months ago – just after I'd got back into Hoenn," he explained. "I knew he was old, but I thought he had another few years left in him. But one night he just crawled on my lap, went to sleep and just didn't wake up." He sighed, pinched the bridge of his nose and looked up at the ceiling. "I had him cremated, put his ashes in his poké ball and let it drift out to sea. I reckon it's the sort of thing he'd have wanted."

"Sorry," I whispered, not knowing what else to say. What could be said to console someone whose pokémon had died? 'Don't worry, there's plenty more scurrying round outside?' That would probably just get me a punch in the face.

Adryan plastered on a smile and snapped his head back towards me. "No, it's alright. We're going to outlive almost all our pokémon – there's only really a select few other than the psychics, ghosts and dragons that will be able to outlive us. But even still, watching our friends die never gets any easier."

"At least they weren't murdered," I griped, reflecting once more on the makuhita. "I liked that little fighter, you know? I know that when most pokémon attack and kill each other, it's just nature. But that shedinja was just so vindictive it might as well have been a person who killed it."

Adryan blew out a long breath, making his hair dance around his face. "I can't say what I'd do if someone killed one of mine. They're my friends, each and every one of them. And I'm pretty damn protective of my friends."

I smirked. "Really? I've never seen you protective over me? You've just lorded about the fact that you're seen my own memories of myself naked."

He chuckled. "You're telling me that if you had my memories, you wouldn't hold them over my head?"

"Point," I conceded. My face fell into a sad, contemplative frown as I began to think out loud. "I think the only way we'd avoid any of our pokémon dying though would be to own a whole team of ghosts. At least there's no chance of them dying again."

Adryan gave a scornful laugh. "Perhaps. But there's always the risk that they can just up and disappear on you. Most pokémon are bound to their poké balls, no matter what. Some ghosts can just decide they'd rather pass on than remain in service to a human, so they do exactly that and the poké ball can't stop them. At the end of the day, it's inevitable. We just need to make the most of the time we have and hope for the certain to be delayed as much as possible."

I nodded and the conversation vanished after that.

Hoorah for the truth in depressing, drink-filled conversations.

The next morning we left the desert town of Sandstream behind us. Mia had decided to remain in order to compete in the gym there and had told me she'd catch up once I got to Fallabor. She also said that she'd somehow managed to lose all her socks while she was drunk and couldn't for the life of her figure out what she'd done with them.

Score one for the soldier.

Irenui was flying around above us both, clearing most of the sandstorms in the area. It let us see further into the distance, though I still kept my mask on and Erra out, just in case. I was only letting Lacey out during drills or at night – she'd spent most of the days picking sand out of her hair whenever we stopped and trying to bury Loki a few thousand feet beneath the surface whenever he decided to throw handfuls of the stuff at her. Xander was becoming a lot more active at night, and thus less so during the day, which meant that he too stayed inside his poké ball for most of the day.

Whenever Loki was out he managed to play with Adryan's cranidos, which often ended up in sand fights, the cranidos charging Loki and the ghost darting out of the way and letting the ancient creature ram into something – be it wall, sand dune or pokémon. After they were both nearly eaten by a large hippodown for disturbing it, Adryan and I decided that only one of them were to be out at a time. Whenever they were together, they were worse than a room full of two year olds.

It meant that I spent most of the daylight hours with Erra and Scar. Which was harder dealing with than I thought – they were such polar opposites that it was hard to find a happy medium to accommodate them both and keep me sane at the same time. Scar would happily – and relentlessly – attack anything that he felt like; which often happened to be a passing trainer. Erra, on the other hand, would be reluctant to even try and fight a gnat; for fear that it might do her some horrible injury. The cuts along her side had healed up and were beginning to scar, but unlike other pokémon who wore them with pride, she seemed to use her battle scars to prove to me she couldn't battle.

It was no small amount of effort to keep myself sane. Adryan was busy trying to train his cranidos to do simple things whilst he tried to get his other pokémon to continue training. Whenever his gardevoir was around I could constantly feel its presence at the back of my mind, probing and trying to make me leave. I tried to ignore it as best I could, pretending it wasn't happening and not wanting to bother Adryan with it, if only because I thought he would believe her over me.

On the plus side though, I had discovered that Scar actually responded to his name quite readily. Whenever I said it – be it intentional or just in passing – he would perk up and glare round at me. Controlling him in battle was another story though. I could point out a few things for him to do – if I was lucky, he'd listen. Most of the time he did his own thing, which often resulted in me having to recall him into his poké ball when he tried to attack any humans.

I finally threatened to bury his poké ball far beneath the sand if he continued to try and attack other people. He responded by breaking out of his poké ball the next time I recalled him and breathed flames on the surrounding sand, hot enough to burn it and create small glass fragments.

I gave him the credit that my earlier threat would be useless after that. Adryan's only advice for me was to keep persevering with him and to keep reassuring Erra in her abilities. He told me it would work better if she knew I had complete confidence in her as she'd be able to pick it up for herself, rather than having to have me keep telling her I trusted her.

Though when she would shy away from battling even the pokémon that decided to attack us, I knew I would have a hard time actually putting full confidence in her.

"Scar, stop that!" I barked as he tried to burn a small trapinch that had come too close. The last time he had attacked a wild trapinch its mother – a fully grown flygon – had taken offense and knocked him out with one blow. It was only by the timely intervention of Irenui that myself, Adryan and all our pokémon didn't end up in little pieces on the floor.

The charmeleon turned to sneer at me, though nonetheless left the small pokémon alone. He seemed to remember me dealing with his injuries and pointing out his opponent's weak spots well enough to at least listen to some things that I said.

I shook my head as he hissed and stomped through the desert, thrashing sand around him in his wake. "So how'd your competition go?" I asked Adryan. "You said you went to Fairfrost, right? With a big competition for ice pokémon?"

He looked confused a second before his eyes lit up. "Oh, right!" he said as he tried not to trip over the cranidos running around his feet. "We did alright, I guess. Siren came sixth out of twenty competitors. I don't think that's too bad considering the town's gym leader was there, as well as Glacia."

"Who's Glacia?" I asked, intrigued.

"One of Hoenn's Elite," he told me. "She's into her icy pokémon, hence why she was competing in an ice pokémon tournament." He grinned and rolled his shoulders. "So really, I think I came fourth. No one really stood a chance of beating them – though some people did come close."

"Denial," I muttered, meeting his sharp look with a smirk. "You came sixth. Admit it. Excuses can't change the fact that you're a loser."

"And you're not? You act like your nuzleaf is the best and hardest pokémon to defeat in the world, yet she gets trounced pretty damn often, from what I've seen," he pointed out, his face falling. "Just because you can kill most of us where we stand doesn't mean that you're so much better than us."

I flinched and rubbed the back of my head. "I... uh, didn't mean it like that."

"I know," he told me as he threw an arm round my shoulders. "But it's just fun to mess with you!" He ruffled my hair and laughed as I shoved him away. "A little perspective goes a long way, soldier boy. Just be thankful I point it out in a teasing way; I could always just completely demolish you if you want to? It might be a bit more reminiscent of your own time, right?"

I nodded distantly, reflecting on how true his words were. I placed my hands behind my head – successfully avoiding Erra on my shoulder – and stared up at the sky. "You know everything about me," I said, thinking out loud. "But how much do I really know about you?"

He looked at me, one eyebrow above the other. "I hope this isn't you trying to get me to share my memories with you. Because, that just isn't happening."

I dropped my arms to my side, genuinely surprised. "But... why not? I mean, you've got all mine. Are you afraid by what Mia said? It's not some sort of romantic cliché idea; I just don't think it's fair that you know everything about me. A few days ago I didn't even know you had a sister."

He shrugged. "That isn't going to convince me otherwise. At no point did you say it was a deal I had to payback." He tapped the side of his head. "My memories are just that; mine. There's thing I don't want people knowing and they're staying up there, locked away from all you nosy bastards." He winked at me before chiding his cranidos for trying to burrow into a trapinch hill. "I don't want someone having my memories, if only because I don't want someone to have that amount of power over me."

"And I do?" I growled. "I only wanted you to see the world I came from – not every damn memory and thought I ever had! Do you not think it's slightly creepy to know that you've seen everything I've done, through my own eyes?"

He laughed. "'Think'? I know how creepy it is. I'm the one that has to suffer seeing such things whenever I close my eyes. Do you know how weird it is to try to sleep and have your memories buzzing around in my brain? There are certain things I don't really want to see before I go to bed, thanks."

My mouth dropped open as I looked at him and my ears began to burn again. "Great," I muttered and turned my gaze away. "My best friend thinks about me naked."

It was his turn to turn bright red. "Not like that!" he spluttered, waving his hands wildly.

I grinned. "Well at least I know I can have some form of payback on you for everything you know." He spluttered again and glared at me half-heartedly before he turned away, refusing to talk about it anymore.

"So what do I actually get to know about you then?" I asked.

"Ask what you want to know," he told me, cheeks slowly returning to normal colour. "If I don't mind you knowing, I'll tell you. Otherwise, you're not going to know."

"I still think I should get to know everything about you too," I muttered, mutinously. "It's only fair."

"Life isn't fair," he retorted. "I'm not going to deny I'm a hypocrite like that; I'll happily know everything about someone, but I don't want people knowing much about me. The less people know about you, the less someone can hurt you."

His words were such a smack in the face. The whole time I'd grown up, we'd used that principal quite often. If you didn't trust someone, you let them know nothing about you. Even those you did, you didn't reveal much to. In a world where countries were at war, people weren't above extracting information from people. The less they knew, the less could be taken from them. And the safer you were.

"I've had that philosophy for a few years," he told me before I could call him out on it. "Things happen, you learn from them and it changes who you are. There's so many things that can pull a trigger on our emotions... our personalities, that will change us in different ways. If one of your pokémon died naturally or against a feral one, it would change you in a much more different way than if someone murdered it. Each thing can change you a little, though there's always one thing that can change you completely, almost overnight."

His words were true, I knew. It made me wonder if something had completely managed to change him, or if only a few things had happened. It was one of the things that annoyed me most about him – he shrouded everything behind a layer of false-humour; every time you got closer to realising what he was actually like, there would be another cloud of jokes to distract you.

I realised more and more that I'd let him know everything about me without ever knowing who he was.

It was yet another thing that made me consider that perhaps my old attitude was a better one.

"Alright," I said and let silence overtake us a moment. I wanted to know more about him; I wanted to know just exactly who it was that I was placing my blind trust into. But I knew it had to be a path of eggshells, one that had to be trod on with extreme delicacy. "So what's your surname then?"

He blinked, stared and then just burst out laughing. "Seriously? I haven't even told you that yet?"

I shook my head. "I've got Adryan. That's it. You know my full name and I'm still on one-name basis with you."

He snorted softly to himself. "I guess I'm that secretive that I'm even failing to realise how much I'm holding back. It's Flite by the way. My whole name's Adryan Louis Flite."

I stopped dead in my tracks. Flite? I had to know. I had to make sure it wasn't what I thought it was. "How do you spell that?"

"Spell what?" he asked, confused. "Adryan?"

"Flight!" I snapped.

"Eff-elle-eye-tee-eeh," he spelled out. "Why, what's up?"

I couldn't move. Flite. My old Commander's name was Flite. He pushed himself as far as he could, tried to make himself save everyone and do the best that he could, all because of something an ancestor of his had done.

"Is that a common surname?" I asked.

He shrugged and looked genuinely confused. "It's not majorly common, but it's not exactly rare either. Why the twenty questions on my surname?" He gasped and laughed to himself. "Am I the big bad you've been sent back to stop? Am I going to go silly crazy and ruin the world?"

"I... don't know," I whispered. It could have been him. It could have been his sister. Hell, it could have been anyone in their family! I cursed Commander Flite for his damn secrecy towards revealing exactly what happened! Why did he have to keep all that shut up and locked away! It wasn't like we were going to use it against him to hurt him!

Adryan and the Commander were so alike in that regard. It struck me like a tonne of bricks. It could have been possible. If Adryan managed to have children and pass his secretive traits down, it could have ended up with the Commander.

I had to know if it was possible.

"Do you have any kids?"

He looked at me as if I'd grown a second head. "Do I have any what?"

"Children," I hissed. "Do you have any?"

He burst out laughing. "God no! I don't have any. Probably never will," he said, slightly sad. Then just like that, humour was in his voice again. "Why, is there another Flite in the future? Are they a horrible leader that controls everything?" He pulled a face. "You didn't sleep with any of my grand-nieces or something, did you? Because that's just weird."

"No," I said with a shake of my head. He should have known. He had my memories, he should have seen Flite in them! "Do you really not know?"

He looked confused again. "Know what?"

I didn't want to reveal too much. "From my memories."

He shook his head. "I don't see anyone in there with my surname. If I did, I would have told you. Why, have I missed something?"

I stumbled for words. "I, uh, well. Are all my memories there? Are a few... missing?"

"I've already told you that, remember?" he pointed out. "It's like either Myos couldn't get hold of them, or maybe he even didn't want to share them with me."

"Or both," I muttered before I could help myself. "Maybe he decided you're not allowed to know a few things from my future, because you're from the present, or something?"

He seemed to consider the idea. "Maybe," he whispered. "So come on, tell me!" he begged, nearly bouncing round like an excited animal. "Who's this mystery relative of mine?"

"No one," I lied quickly. "I heard the name in passing a few times but never quite caught the full story."

"Huh," he grunted, unconvinced. "Are you sure you're not conspiring with Myos, or Willow, or even Ripper to make sure I don't know much of the future?"

I held back the shudder at the mention of his psychics. Somehow, I got the feeling they didn't much like me. Ripper was a different case – even though I'd seen him a fair few times while we were out in the desert, he never once came over to talk to me. I gathered that he wasn't too fond of me either.

"No conspiracies!" I promised him.

"Alright," he relented. "So if that's all you've got to ask?"

I grinned. "So, your sister?"

"Conversation over."

It took us nearly three days to reach the end of the desert. Along the way Adryan and I had tried to breech the subject of what needed to be done to change the future, though every time we came to a dead end, I became more and more resolute in my decision to not do anything.

However, the plus side to those days was that I was getting better at controlling Scar. I still couldn't get him to obey any commands, but he had started to listen when I pointed out places to attack creatures. Any order from me for him to burn or slash something usually ended up with him doing his own thing – or more often than not, attempting to create flame-grilled soldier.

I envied Adryan for the way he commanded his pokémon with such ease. He explained to me that he went through the exact same process as I did with all of them – something I didn't believe until his attempts at training the cranidos were displayed to me.

They'd moved on from wrestling over plastic shower curtains; Adryan spent most of his time trying to avoid the creature's heavy skull. It, like Loki, was incredibly mischievous – though unlike Loki, it could charge into something head first and smash the something to smithereens. Adryan narrowly escaped receiving a broken leg; instead he ended up getting nipped every time he tried to feed the pokémon.

My attempts with Scar didn't seem so bad in comparison. At least his flame bursts were becoming less common and a lot less powerful – I had the feeling he was just doing it for kicks come then, rather than trying to injure me.

Xander's broken foreleg was healing well enough, though I kept him off it as often as I could. Lacey had spoken to Ripper at one point and ever since had become a lot more reclusive, as if she were planning something. I knew I needed to talk to her about it, but knew it couldn't be with Adryan around – or with any of his pokémon within earshot.

I found though that Erra had taken a liking to Lucy – Adryan's rapidash. I thought it was strange, seeing as the horse could spit flames, but they seemed to bond well enough.

Adryan told me it was because ponyta and rapidash were 'flight' rather than 'fight' pokémon. Apparently they were easily spooked and would bolt if anything managed to scare them. I asked Adryan how he got her over it, though he told me that I wouldn't be able to train Erra the same way and let the conversation die there.

"Your electabuzz scares me," I mentioned one day as we headed up towards Fallarbor. Far off in the distance I could see what looked like snow, yet Adryan had told me it was actually ash, raining down continually over the town.

His electabuzz kept to the trees, only poking her head out occasionally when she zapped something from her hidden location. Occasionally her blasts would miss and end up striking the surrounding environment; often raining down leaves, branches or even rocks down upon us.

"Claire?" he asked and laughed as he looked to the trees. "Yeah, I think she thinks she's a ninja or something. She keeps out the way, attacking things from shadows rather than directly. Although... she hasn't exactly learnt the art of blending in yet. One time she tried to disguise herself as a big, brown rock. It didn't work out too well."

I laughed at the thought of it. A blast of hot breath thundered down my neck and made me shudder. I only just kept myself from freaking out and attacking the rapidash behind me. She snorted as she looked forwards, whining as her hooves managed to sink into little puddles.

"Suck it up," Adryan told her. "You're a rapidash. You can breathe fire and you're complaining about getting your hooves a little wet?"

She snorted and rubbed her head against his shoulder, giving him sad eyes. It only managed to make him laugh again. "You're a horse, not a dog. Growlithe eyes won't work on me."

She snorted again, ears flicking out to the side. She tried to complain to me, though I just laughed and stroked her nose. It seemed to cheer her up and I got a hot, gooey rapidash tongue draped across my face as thanks.

"That's why I refuse to bow to her whims," Adryan told me, laughing as I tried in vain to wipe my face. "She thinks she's some sort of growlithe or something. Hard to believe that she's meant to come from a line of prize-winning champion rapidash, isn't it?"

I thought back to a sport he'd explained to me before; where people would race rapidash round a track, often with up to twenty of them running at a time. Apparently it was a big, fun event for most of the posh, upper class people who could probably sneeze money.

"How did you manage to get her then?" I asked. "Surely you wouldn't have had the money to just buy her?"

He snorted. "You're right there. It was about six years ago; I decided that I wanted one of the show-winning rapidash. I mean, they could run faster than most other pokémon, and it's the old story of the hero riding in on a brilliant white rapidash that always gets the love interest, isn't it?"

I laughed. "Please tell me you didn't decide to get a rapidash to impress a girl."

"Not so much," he allowed, chuckling nervously. "But I broke into the pokéthlon dome in Johto where they're all kept."

I stared. "You... broke in to a stadium?"

He grinned. "I had help. But I found the stables and of course didn't realise how easily spooked rapidash are. Mostly all of them bolted, though Lucy here was too busy eating to care, weren't you?" he related as he patted her on the nose. "She was only a little ponyta at the time, so I high-tailed it out of there after I caught her and trained her on the sly until all the fuss about her went away."

"How long did that take then?" I asked, truly intrigued.

He grinned as he scratched the corner of his mouth. "Well, a few months at least. Then I used her in a battle against Johto's fire gym leader. They figured out who she was and I well-" he chuckled and flushed bright red. "Well, I kinda slept the problem away."

My jaw dropped. "You... you slept with a gym leader to make her drop the charges?" I burst out laughing as he hid his face beneath his scarf, truly embarrassed. "That's a new one. I should try that," I thought out loud as I scratched my cheek. I turned and grinned at him. "Well at least you could take it as a reassurance towards your skills."

The rapidash behind us whinnied and nudged Adryan's shoulder with her head. He laughed and patted her head, scratching just behind her ears. "I agree. Let's get away from this silly conversation. It's likely to give us all a mental illness."

"Don't try and hide behind your pokémon," I taunted him. "For all I know she could be telling you that she's hungry. Or needs a bathroom break."

He lifted an eyebrow. "Because pokémon happen to request those," he said, completely deadpan. "They wander off to do their business, or they're like Lucy here and just decide to do the do where ever they need to." He smiled. "I can't tell you the amount of times I've had her just unleash a flood of piss in public. There's nothing quite as bad as having your pokémon urinating in public without a care in the world. Worse still if it happens to be over a small child."

"W-what?" I asked, disbelieving laughter erupting out of my throat.

"Don't," he groaned. He shook his head and pulled a face at Lucy as he patted her head. "I'm pretty sure there's still a lawsuit going on."

She snorted and flicked her ears at him. He smiled and patted her on the face once before letting her bolt off into the wilds. "They need to invest in pokémon diapers," he whispered in her wake.

I smiled, "But would you honestly want to change one?"

"I'll hire someone to do that for me," he quipped. He placed his hands behind his head and grinned as he looked skyward. "That or invent some sort of scientific diaper that teleports it to another dimension or something."

I glanced at him, confused. "Do you even have the intelligence to do that?"

"No," he snorted. "But miracles do happen, right?"

My face dropped. "Not in my lifetime."

"Really?" he asked and winked as I looked back up at him. "You got your miracle wish, didn't you?"

I looked at the floor, serious and depressed. "And just look how that turned out."

I woke up that night to the sound of a scream.

I jumped up and fumbled in my sleeping bag, trying to find a weapon of sorts. Everything was deathly quiet once I managed to find my gun, making me all the more nervous towards everything.

I frowned as I detached myself from my bag and tried to remember who was meant to be on watch. My phone told me it was nearly oh-three hundred, which meant it was the second shift; Lucy and Scar were meant to be up and on guard.

I couldn't see my charmeleon around me which meant he had to be on guard. Loki was asleep curled round Xander and Erra was hidden away in her poké ball. I couldn't see Lacey anywhere, though it wasn't the first time that she'd wandered off by herself in the night. Sometimes she would come back with a few small herbs, other times with a big, wide grin. I had no doubt that half the time the nuzleaf wandered off to kill something in the night – I was just thankful that she didn't seem to be making another morbid collection.

The fire crackled by my sleeping back and I pulled a face. It danced with a bright orange glow, giving the only light in the small little campsite. It was the only light to be found as well as the only source of sound. It didn't seem right somehow.

"Adryan," I hissed as I nudged him with a toe. He grunted in his sleep and tried to hug my leg, succeeding in only grabbing hold of a shoelace. "Adryan," I grunted, losing all patience.

He snorted once and I noticed that none of his pokémon seemed to be there. It was as if everything had descended into a small, eerie calm with only me as the centre of it all. I'd experienced it far too much in the past and didn't want to be going through it again.

After nudging Adryan again I finally gave up and dripped some of the water from my flask over his face. He awoke with a start, flailing wildly and squinting at everything in the dark.

"Get up," I growled at him. His eyes widened at the sight of me a moment and I realised just what he was seeing; me stood over him in the dark, deadly serious and with a gun in my hands. I gave him a small sheepish grin before my face hardened again. "Something's going on," I told him.

He grunted as he placed his glasses back on his face. "What do you mean?"

"I heard a scream," I said as I checked our little camp again. "Where are your pokémon?"

"Hunting," he answered and fell back onto his small pillow. "It's probably something screaming just before Ripper or Willow killed it. Maybe even Myos. All the others are in their balls and Lucy's standing watch, right? If there was something bad, she'd have come and got us, right?"

I nodded. "True. I still don't like this though. Call it experience."

He grunted and turned over. "Then you go have a look. It'll turn out to be nothing and you'll have wasted sleep over nothing."

I frowned and jabbed him in the side with my foot. "Up. Now," I growled. "It's better to check it, just in case. There's pokémon that can get past Lucy and Scar quite easily."

He pulled a face as he stood up. "Fine, fine," he sighed and grabbed his coat. "I don't see why we can't just send a pokémon to check this all."

"What would you do if something attacked them while they were out?" I pointed out. "We might be putting ourselves in danger, but at last we'll know what's happening."

He shook his head and smirked at me. "You always expect the worst, don't you?"

"Better to," I grunted. "Bring your torch. Mine's still in that damned tower."

He smiled. "You still haven't bought a new one? I thought you were always prepared for whatever?"

My lips were set in a fine line. "This isn't the time to be making jokes Adryan. Be serious. We need to keep our heads about us."

His face darkened into a scowl. "Well excuse me for trying to lighten the tone. I either make a few jokes here and there or become an emotional wreck because quite frankly, you're freaking me out. Which would you prefer?"

I bit my bottom lip and blew out through my nose. "Fine," I grunted. "But be quiet. And give me your torch. Or find a big, sharp stick to hit something with if it comes too close."

He reached into his pack and pulled out a long combat knife that made my eyes widen in surprise. It was a brilliant blade – I could tell as much by just looking at it alone. The sight of him with it made me slightly jealous I didn't have one of my own.

"I did pay attention in Rustboro, you know?" he said, smiling at my look of shock. "With you keeping on about what weapons to use, I figured out what one would be best. Bought it just before I went into the Cluster," he explained as he turned it over in his hands. "I've only used it to poke a few pokémon that came a bit too close though."

I pulled my mouth shut and nodded. "Let's hope that's all we need to do, huh?"

He made some sort of wisecrack as we set off. I woke up Xander and told him to stand guard in the camp before we left them. I made Adryan hand me over his torch quite quickly and tried to figure out where I'd heard the scream from. It had woke me up, I knew that much, but I couldn't tell where it came from, or even what it had come from.

I didn't know where to go and so followed my gut. It led us through a slightly beaten pathway of flowers and towards a grove of trees that all bore signs of slashes and small, tiny burn marks.

"Are those old?" Adryan whispered from behind me, desperate hope in his voice.

"Some are," I said as I traced my fingers along them. "Some feel new. We're headed in the right direction at least."

"And yet I can't help but feel like it's a one-way path to doom," he grunted.

I allowed myself a small smile. "Now who's being pessimistic?"

I knew that he was grinning behind me. "I guess you're just wearing off on me."

I heard something snap in the distance and waved my hand at him. "Shut up," I hissed, heart already beginning to race.

There was something there. I didn't know what, but there was definitely something ahead. I hadn't seen Lucy or Scar and started to get worried.

I hoped it was just one of them ahead, feeding on a fresh kill.

Lucy was a herbivore – that ruled her out. I prayed that it was only Scar feasting on something or me overreacting to a ledyba or something.

There was another twig snap ahead and something muttering up ahead. It sounded human enough. I didn't know whether to celebrate or run away screaming at that.

It turned out screaming was the end result.

We reached a small clearing and instantly a horrible smell attacked us. I flinched and covered my mouth with a hand as Adryan coughed behind me. Dead ahead of us was the person we could hear; dressed in dark blue jeans and a blue top, both stained with mud and a little blood. In his hands was a small knife, the blade tipped red in blood.

Beneath him was a corpse.

A large, golden pokémon corpse.

Lucy's corpse.

I sucked in a breath just as Adryan burst into life behind me.

"Lucy?" he yelped, forgoing subtlety as he raced ahead. I heard his blade clatter to the floor, forgotten as the man above her corpse leapt to his feet, brown eyes dancing with fear as I trapped him in the torch's light, gun trained on his head. Blood soaked the entire of his front and was even smeared across his face where he'd obviously used blood-soaked hands to wipe his brown hair from his face.

"Lucy?" Adryan wailed, kneeling by the pokémon's side and holding her neck, crying as he buried his face into hers. "No. No, no, no, no!"

I glanced at the pokémon only once. Her throat had been sliced clean open in what seemed to be three separate strokes where one alone would have been fatal. Adryan was sobbing into her head, rocking back and forth as he cried her name.

"I... I didn't do it!" the man pleaded, holding up his hands and dropping his knife. "I swear, I just found it like this!"

Instantly Adryan was on his feet. He grabbed the man by his collar and pinned him against a tree, glaring bloody murder in his face. "You really expect me to believe that?" he hissed, voice breaking and hoarse all at once. "You were standing above her body with a knife! You're covered in her blood!" He pulled the man back and slammed him into the tree, dazing him before Adryan reeled back and punched him in the stomach. "You did this!" he screamed, tears in his voice. "You killed her!"

"I-I didn't!" the man protested as Ayd pressed his arm into the man's throat. "I s-swear! I found it! I tried helping!"

Adryan slammed him into the tree once more. "Then why are you covered in her blood? You did this and you're lying to my face!"

"I'm not!" the man shouted again, his face revealing his fright. "I-I swear!"

"Then what happened then?" I growled. I kept glancing around us, just in case the man had friends or one of our pokémon found us but otherwise tried to keep my gaze on Adryan and the guy. I wasn't sure just what Adryan would do and honestly, I wasn't too sure about the man's guilt. The cuts on Lucy's neck just seemed too thin to be made by his knife.

"You're letting this creep talk?" Adryan snapped at me. "He should just be hanged like the pokémon-killing scum he is!"

"I want to know what he has to say," I said as carefully as I could. I didn't want to have him trying to attack me too. "It's possible he found-"

Adryan's head snapped round to me. "You're on his side?" he hissed, looking betrayed atop of heartbroken.

"I...I just found it," the man protested weakly. "I swear! I just found it! I tried doing what I could to stop the bleeding! That's why I'm covered in blood!"

Adryan hissed and pressed his arm further into the guy's neck. "Then why do you have a knife covered in her blood?"

The man looked at him, afraid and then dropped his gaze to the floor. "R-rapidash hair," he muttered.

Adryan looked even more livid than before. "You expect me to believe that? You 'found' her and did the good thing before deciding to take her hair? You killed her for it, you sick son of a bitch!" he raged as he punched the man in the gut yet again.

"What's so special about rapidash hair?" I found myself asking.

Adryan shot me a dark look. "It's used in lots of things. Violins, bow strings, even the little thing they play violins with." He turned back to the man and gave him a look of pure rage. "This sick fuck killed her for a few thousand poké!"

"I-I didn't!" the man protested. "I swear! I'm telling you the truth! Please!"

"You're lying!" Adryan screamed and dropped the man to the floor, only to kick him in the face. "You killed her and you're lying to my face!" He stepped over him, pulled him up by the collar and pressed his face close into the man's. "I should kill you right now," he hissed, lips pulled back in a snarl. "The world doesn't need any sick twisted fucks like you."

I swallowed. "I don't think he's lying," I whispered. Adryan's head snapped up and he glared at me within enough force to intimidate anyone. "Think; how could he have managed to cut her neck without getting hurt himself?" I said quickly, feeling a lot like a deer in the headlights.

Adryan threw the man on the ground. "He surprised her." There was grim determination in his voice and a cold, calculating look in his face. He picked up the man's knife and held it up, catching it in the torch's light a moment. "He surprised her and killed her. And now he's trying to tell me he didn't and you're on his side."

The calm in his voice... it was scary. For the first time I was actually worried that he didn't just accidentally kill Owen – he seemed perfectly capable of having planned it out in that moment in time.

He pointed the knife at the man who was trembling on the ground, too afraid to move. "He killed her. It's only fair he dies in turn."

The man screamed as Adryan loomed towards him. I dropped everything in my hands and grabbed Ayd's arms, shouting at him all the while.

"Adryan, no!" I screamed at him, trying – and failing – to stop him getting near the man. "Don't kill him! You don't know for sure!"

"I know perfectly well he did it," he growled, his voice low and dangerous. He kicked me in the shin from behind and threw me off him with ease, smirking darkly at the look of shock I gave him. "But I think since he's lied about this... there's a more fitting punishment to be had." He turned away and looked to the distance before he took a deep breath and screamed, "Willow!"

My stomach dropped at the mention of her name alone. I wanted to run away myself; I couldn't imagine how terrified the man must have been.

Everything became cold just before Willow appeared next to Adryan, anger almost radiating from the pokémon.

As soon as she arrived I felt pain spike in the back of my skull. [What have you done?] she hissed into my brain, stunning me into helplessness.

I tried to argue just before Adryan turned to her, his voice icy cold and angry. "Willow," he growled and got her attention easily. "This... this twisted fuck killed Lucy." I saw the gardevoir's hands twitch, almost as if she were itching to kill the man. "He shouldn't be allowed to live."

"We don't know if he did it for sure!" I protested, somehow finding the courage to get to my feet. "You don't know!"

"I know," Adryan growled, calm and yet angry at the same time. He didn't even turn to face me, or even acknowledge my existence. Instead he simply nodded at his gardevoir. "Kill him," he hissed. "You know what to do."

"N-no!" the man protested as she advanced. "I didn't!"

"Don't kill him!" I told Adryan.

He flashed me a dark smile. "I'm not going to kill him. He's going to kill him."

I looked at him, stunned until I saw movement from the corner of my eye. Willow stretched out her hand and the man got to his feet like a puppet on a string, moving awkwardly and without purpose. Only his face seemed his own to command and he used it to beg and plead for his life.

I watched, stunned and unable to move as Adryan calmly pressed the man's knife into his own hands. The man was crying as he pleaded for his life, his hand clamping down around the knife and raising it to his own neck.

"Please," he begged as the blade drew a small line of blood.

I saw Willow give the man a horribly dark look as he screamed and pressed the knife into his own throat. Blood sprayed out everywhere, showering the ground beneath him as he screamed until he severed his own windpipe, when they became nothing more than weak, wet gurgles.

Only then did I seem able to move again. "Stop it!" I screamed at Adryan. "He's dying! We don't know if he did it!"

"I know," Adryan hissed again and shrugged me off as I tried to pull him away. He didn't take his eyes off the man he was forcing to commit suicide, whilst even I couldn't look. "Don't act so high and mighty with me. It's not like you've never killed anyone before."

"Never like that!" I shouted. "I always made sure there was proof of their guilt! Even if they were, I never would do anything as cruel as that! He couldn't have killed a rapidash on his own without help!"

"That's a lie and you know it," Adryan said, refusing to look at me. "You've killed before, cold-heartedly. I've seen your memories. You've let people suffer before you've ended their lives. How is this any different?" He shook his head. "He killed her," he stated, resolute. The man finally stopped gurgling and slumped completely on the floor, dead as anything. Willow turned around and nodded just before she floated over to Lucy's corpse and bent down beside it, her eyes seemingly closed in prayer to her fallen comrade.

Pain stabbed the back of my mind again. [I told you I could do so,] Willow told me, her voice thick with grief.

I stuttered, unable to say anything. There was a sound behind me and we all spun round, only to see Scar standing before us, his tail making everything around him glow orange, highlighting the look of shock on his face.

I was so happy to see one of my pokémon that I threw myself at him, clasping him in a hug and not caring about the fact he might try to kill me. I didn't care. I couldn't care. I'd just watched Adryan force a man to kill himself because he believed he could have killed his pokémon. And he did it in such a malicious, evil way that managed to rattle me to my core.

I was afraid of him. I was afraid of the man that was supposedly my best friend – disturbed and petrified that I'd placed such trust in someone I realised I never really knew at all.

Scar rumbled something deep and low and I felt his confusion through his movements. Almost awkwardly he tapped his claws against my arm and I hugged him even tighter, refusing to let go. I couldn't take the fact that Adryan had done that. I couldn't take the fact that he'd managed to do that to someone he thought had killed his pokémon.

I couldn't take the fact that on some level, I knew what had really happened. I think that was what really scared me... what I really had the problem with.

Adryan was behind me with his rapidash – I could hear him crying and talking softly to Willow. I refused to look back at them – refused to let them see how deathly afraid of them I was.

"Take care of the body," I instructed Scar, stone-faced as I let go of him. "Do whatever you want to it – just make sure there's nothing left of it when you're done."

The charmelon looked conflicted between surprise and elation. I was letting him attack another human – albeit a dead one – yet it was obvious I didn't agree with it one bit. My reluctance and hatred of the deed was obvious to him, making him hesitate, as if it were all a test.

"Do it," I told him with a pat on the shoulder. "Do it, make sure there's nothing left and come find me afterwards, alright? There's something I need to do."

His claws flexed and his tail-flame burned with renewed vigour as I turned to leave him. He would enjoy his task – that much was obvious. But I knew that I wouldn't enjoy mine.

I left them behind me, somehow knowing exactly where I needed to go. It was almost like instinct led me to a little clearing full of poison ivy. The moon shone down on everything, basking everything in a brilliant silver glow.

In the middle of it all I saw a single figure; white hair shining silver in the moonlight, a single leaf on her head almost covered completely by hair and a face twisted into an eerie calm smile. It was Lacey sat in amidst all the poison ivy, almost as if she was meditating.

The nuzleaf's yellow eyes snapped open as she heard me approach, trying in vain to avoid all the poisonous plants. She smirked at my approach and stood up, unashamed of what covered her.

Blood.

"Somehow, I knew it was you," I said, devoid of emotion.

She smirked and flicked her wrists, splashing the plants with a few drops of blood. The three leaves that sprouted from each wrist were soaked in it, her white fur was stained crimson and a small burn wound covered one of her ankles.

She stepped towards me, avoiding the poison ivy with ease. She stopped in front of me, looked up and pulled her face into a self-satisfied smile, almost like she was sarcastically cheering me. Through it all, her meaning was obvious; what are you going to do about it?

I couldn't find words or movement to answer her unspoken question. She smirked in victory, tapped my arm even as I flinched away from the contact and walked away, leaving me alone in the empty darkness.

Her actions left me with only one thing left to decide;

Do I betray my pokémon, or my best friend?

 
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