The lakes in the Shinnoh region had always been, naturally, linked to legends. Rare Pokemon flocked to the lakes to drink from the cool, crystal clear waters; even some as rare and elusive as small packs of Suicune with their young had been filmed quenching their thirst from the beautiful, pure waters. Humans had lived around the lakes for so long, rumors of monstrous beings living in the dark depths of the lake caves was only natural; despite all the evidence brought in for the contrary, it was still widely believed that something was there. It wasn't until Cyrus came along and not only discovered, but captured the three legends of the lakes that the Lake Trio was truly believed in. After Cyrus was done with them, however, he left them to the dark, dangerous world beyond the Galactic HQ's walls.
I had been running for what felt like hours, but had only been a few minutes. I knew that Galactic would, if they could get their hands on me again, use me as a weapon. Frankly, it frightened me beyond my worst nightmares to think that they might use me for their evil schemes. Azelf had possessed the most strength when we were released, and he had fled as fast as he could manage; pulling up dust and disturbing the trees.
As far as I know, Uxie died; hounded at by a pack of Mightyena until I felt his consciousness fade. I did what I could; trying my best to cause trees and rocks to impede his pursuers, but it wasn't enough. I was saddened greatly, to say the least, to know that I might never see my brother again. I didn't have much time to mourn, though, I myself was miles from my own home, and I could barely move. It was using all the power I had to simply levitate, and I was expending that quickly as I tried to rush to the safety of Lake Valor, hoping beyond hope that Azelf would be there. His life force was around somewhere, I could feel that much, but I did not have the energy to figure out where.
I didn't feel my own complete exhaustion hit until I was at speed.
Unable to keep myself airborne, I tumbled along rocky ground painfully, adding extra cuts and injuries to my already beaten body. I slid to a stop meters from the tree line in a soft patch of grass and gave an exasperated and frustrated cry.
All around me I could hear Pokemon moving in, predators of the night that could smell a free meal, innocents that were curious as to what had just happened. I heard the footsteps of something large very nearby, and I started to cry as the world around me became as cold and cruel as I had always imagined.
So these were to be my dying moments, crying, alone and helpless as whatever predator could get its teeth on me tore me apart.
The last thing I heard before I fell into blissful darkness was a deep snuffling by my ear.
I was surprised to wake up again, but even more amazed to be in a wicker basket full of soft pillows and covered in blanket and bandages. I was heavily wrapped, my arms, chest, one of my legs, and both of my tail tips, covering the crystals embedded in the fur. I could smell iodine in the gauze. I sat up quickly, my joints and injuries screaming their protest at my swift movements and making me cry out in pain. Something large had evidently been stirred by my movement and cry, and it shifted in the dark room. I heard heavy, thudding footsteps which stopped short of me, was sniffed at by a large-lunged nose, and then heard the footsteps move out of the room, even pausing a moment to open a wooden door that creaked on its hinges. I heard a human speak, muffled through the walls, and then heard the footsteps return, this time accompanied by an extra set. A light flicked on in the space beyond the door, and a human carefully crept 'round the rectangular wood before kneeling next to my current bed.
"Awake, are we?" He asked, as if asking a child. I only nodded meekly; Galactic had pounded an undeniable fear of humans into me that currently rivaled my fear of Dark types. The human chuckled. "You took quite a beating, and I didn't know what to treat you with, so I made do with Oran Concentrate and bandages. It's a good thing you were out, too; Oran Concentrate has citric acids in it and it hurts like hell on open wounds." He leaned forth to check one of my bandaged limbs. "Smells like iodine, too."
My eyes were becoming accustomed to light now, and I looked past him at the door, which was carefully nudged open. The human looked behind himself, chuckled, and motioned the Pokemon in.
"Don't mind Tiburon, he's the one who found you and brought you back." He said as a Garchomp looked into the room from the door. He had a thick black collar around his neck with a tag hanging from it and, I admit, he was a more welcome sight than the human was.
"Yeah, he was out hunting for Rattatas, the little buggers are almost a plague in this area and he likes fresh meat, and instead he stumbled upon you. You seemed to be in over your head, so he brought you home for me to deal with." It was now that the human seemed a little disgruntled, like the Garchomp had done something disagreeable. "Honestly, if he'd simply gone to Nurse Joy you'd have gotten better care; there's only so much I can do." He seemed to think for few moments before sighing. "Ah well, no real harm done I guess." He said, returning his attention back to me. "Let's get your dressings refreshed, shall we?" He asked rhetorically as he lifted me tenderly from the soft, warm basket.
'I know his name,' I said telepathically to the human, 'and yet you have failed to supply your own.' He looked down at me in mild amazement that I had just talked to him, and I simply raised a brow in return.
"I-I'm Jason." The human replied nervously. "Do you have a name, little miss?"
'Mesprit,' I stated bluntly, 'Psychic type. I have the ability to drain all emotions from others through touch.'
Jason suddenly held me out at arm's length, and I giggled.
'It's not like an aura or hidden venom in my skin, I must want to do it, not simply touch you.' I informed to calm him. 'You are quite safe, young human.'
"'Young'..?" He parroted. "But you're-"
'The size of a kitten?' I interrupted. 'I'm fully grown, have been for thousands of years. I may be small, but that does not make me young. Raichu stay small for about twenty years before they pass on, as do Mawile; and Mew stay roughly the same size as I for almost one hundred and fifty years, why should I be any different? Size is not always an indication of age.'
"Alright, alright; don't lecture me for being assuming." Jason said irritably. "I just figured, since you let the complete hell get beaten out of you, you were not very mature."
I stayed silent at this, looking away miserably as he walked through the house to the kitchen, his Garchomp following. He couldn't possibly have known about my brothers, or what had happened to Uxie...
I didn't want him to see my pain.
Jason had finished in removing all the bandages before he spoke next. He was astonished that I had managed to take so much damage and still be conscious, but I simply excused it as superficial damage. Granted, even small cuts can kill you if you get enough of them, but I didn't want to show any weaknesses to this... stranger. He said nothing more on the matter, wrapping my wounds once again in soft cotton fabric. He was gently rubbing my head and I was, in turn, purring at the odd, yet pleasant sensation shortly after finishing redressing my wounds.
'You certainly know how to get a girl comfortable.' I mused.
He only chuckled. "I'll make you as comfortable as I can until you are ready to be released back into the wild." He said.
'I need to find my brothers.' I firmly stated. 'I'll search forever if I have to, but I must ensure they are well.'
Jason only nodded. "I guess I understand," He said quietly, his scratching nail slowing slightly, "if I lost Tiburon, I don't know what I'd do..." He trailed off quietly before returning to his normal self. "Anyway, it's best not to dwell on such things. Would you like something to eat?"
I shrugged. 'Not really.' I said. 'I just want to get some more rest.'
"Alright, to the basket it is. Tiburon, while I tuck her into bed, go and get ready to head into town."
Tiburon tilted his head.
"We're going into town today, and it's almost eleven. I can't have a dirty Pokemon parading around town, can I? What would the lady Garchomp think if they saw you like that?"
Tiburon looked down, noticed the dirt smeared all over his front and motioned to brush it off before snorting disgustedly and leaving the room.
"He'll be in the backyard turning on the sprinklers in a minute." Jason said. "C'mon, let's get you some shuteye. I'll grab a few bites for you to eat when you wake, alright?"
'I... Yes, alright,' I mumbled in reply.
"Something wrong?" He asked while opening the door to the room I woke up in.
'I don't want special treatment.' I grumbled. 'You'll only grow attached to me, and then you'll be upset when I leave.'
Jason shrugged before putting me back into the basket, tucking the soft blanket over me and rubbing my head gently.
"Get some sleep; we'll talk more when you wake."
I nodded, curled up, and closed my eyes to sleep, which happened sooner than I expected.
My dreams were calm, for a short while. Dreaming the dreams of Pokemon everywhere; food, freedom and, strangely for me, fighting; eventually, however, my dreams turned into nightmares.
At first, I was alone; alone in a small, dark cage with a muzzle over my mouth and chains around my arms and legs. I could barely move within the confines of the tiny cage, and the muzzle over my face panicked me. A familiar face came into view, grinned in a calm, self-righteous way, and I felt myself be lifted.
"About time you awoke, Mesprit." I heard him say. "I wouldn't want you to forget the sight of your kin being broken."
He turned my cage to face into a room in which Uxie was on a bench, all appendages spread-eagle and bolted down tightly. A man in a lab coat entered the room, picking up a scalpel and leaning over my brother. I could see the scalpel clearly, a sharpened shard of Umbreon bone, and I reeled away, trying to avert my eyes as the blade cut into Uxie's tail accompanied by his screams of pain. A gloved hand reached into my cage and turned my head forward.
"You will watch, Mesprit!" The human snapped. "This is only a taste of what will happen if you resist Galactic!"
I couldn't help but stare, mortified, as the doctor continued to cut into the gemstone on my brother's tail, every slip or miss causing more blood to spill across the bench and making him cry out louder and louder.
The scientist moved out of the room, and Uxie's screaming had ended. I could see him twitching in pain, the ends of his tails covered in blood, but he'd passed out from the cruel blade. The man's face came into view again as he turned the cage.
I snapped awake in the basket of cushions and blanket, lifting my head to look about the room in terror. Couch, coffee table, fireplace, larger basket of soft padding that was most probably the bedding of the human's Garchomp... I sighed, trying calm myself; a nightmare. It was only a nightmare.
'Thank Arceus,' I mumbled to myself. The dream, the... nightmare, was only a recollection of what had happened; but torment is still torment, and it upset me greatly. I, we, had been helpless against Team Galactic's torturous experiment.
Helpless to stop them from creating a Red Chain.
I gently rose from the bed of pillows, using my own psychic power to move, and stretched wide. I brushed a dreadlock of fur from my face and left the room, nudging out the door slowly and looking about curiously. Jason and Tiburon weren't back, I could hear that much, but I wanted to explore this home more, make myself acquainted with the residence I would call home for the next day or so, until I could leave. I inspected the bathroom, sparkling clean as it was, found my way to Jason's bedroom, only guessing it to be thus due to the sheer amount of his scent that wafted from the room. Eventually I found the room in which food was prepared, the kitchen I believe humans call it, and even the living room. The only room I hadn't found yet was the laundry, the room in which humans washed their garments, and I didn't think it worth my time looking for it. The living room had a sliding glass door to the backyard, and I gingerly slid it open and shut behind me, looking about.
The yard was a little messy, with a pit in one corner that looked like Tiburon had dug it, possibly to bury the skeletons of his nightly hunts. There was a large sturdy leather ball with teeth marks on it, most likely Tiburon's plaything. There was a bowl that I could have easily lain down spread-eagle in full of water near the house, and a paved walkway encompassed the houses' outer wall. Beyond that, a carpet of thick, lush emerald colouredgrass. I smiled a little, and my eyes fell upon a tree in the middle of the yard, its branches covered in bright pink blooms. A Cheri tree; possibly four years old, judging by the height. I heard the sliding door open and shut, and Jason stepped into view next to me.
"Yeah, I've had that tree for as long as I've had Tiburon," He admitted. "They're his favorite fruit, and I thought it'd be a nice treat for him." He scratched the back of his neck lightly before continuing. "Never once had it bear fruit. I've watered it and fertilized it, but it refuses to go beyond flowering.
"It'd be a miracle if it bore fruit."
I eyed him for a moment, thinking over his words as my eyes drifted back to the tree.
"Anyway, I brought you something to eat from the store," Jason said, reaching out and taking me into his arms like a kitten. "I didn't think you'd be awake yet, but since you are, you should eat something and keep up your strength."
I only nodded as he turned and opened the door with a foot, stepping back inside and closing it again. He walked us into the kitchen, where Tiburon was already curled up on the tiled floor gnawing at a large bone. I gave him worried scrutiny.
"Don't worry; I bought the bone for him in town." Jason assured. "Tauros flank with spices. It's a special treat I buy him for good behavior."
''Good behavior?' ' I probed worriedly.
"Not tearing up the house, using the back corner of the yard and not the lawn as his toilet..." Jason informed, opening the refrigerator and extracting a box. "Not terrorizing others in town..." He added. "I'm so thankful he learned that one, it was getting hard to keep up with paying to get him out of custody."
Jason put the box on the counter and opened it slightly before putting it into a microwave to heat it. He typed in the time, pressed start, and then put me on the counter.
"Now; what would you like to drink?" He asked me. "Water, juice..?"
'Water will do me fine, thank you.'
He nodded and fetched a pitcher of water from the refrigerator, and then a large cup from a cupboard, which he promptly filled. He put the cup on the counter next to me, returned the pitcher to the fridge and grabbed a straw from the pantry cupboard, dipping it into the cup for me. Greedily I drank my fill, wetting my palette and quenching the building thirst that I had started to feel shortly after I awoke. I released the straw from my mouth and licked my lips faintly, the taste of the plastic utensil lingering on my tongue. Jason smiled and pet my head, refilling my cup with more water from the pitcher.
"Now;" Jason began firmly, "I am unsure what you eat, whether you are carnivorous or not, and so I have bought both meat and berry foods."
'I am omnivorous.' I informed him. 'Though I have always preferred meat.'
Tiburon gave a snarl and a mighty crack echoed, indicating he'd succeeded in snapping the bone he was gnawing on, the sound of him working the marrow from the bone filled the kitchen.
"Well, with that settled, I'll just prepare your food."
Lunch had been simple, a sandwich of Tauros beef, some cheese, lettuce, and of course my large cup of water to wash it all down. It was a nice change from the food I was used to, berries and the occasional caught Rattata. He didn't talk much as he watched me eat; only mumbling a little when he helped me get the straw into my mouth, my paws filled with the sandwich.
Dutifully he took the plate from my paws when I had finished, putting it into the sink to wash later.
'Thank you for the meal, Jason.'
He shrugged. "Hey, you want to leave and I want you to get better, feeding you helps both our goals, win-win."
I eyed him skeptically, unsure of his words. Still I was having trouble with trusting this human, as I would have trouble trusting any human, though I figured that I could at least trust him to take care of me while I recuperated. Tiburon sniffled at me on the counter curiously before giving my forehead a lick, something I firmly dejected.
'Eeew...' I protested, reeling from his tongue. 'Quit it..!'
Jason sighed. "Now I have to give her a bath, thanks, Tib."
The Garchomp sniggered at me as I was picked up and carried from the room, his ploy clearly working as he'd planned. In retaliation, I telekinetically pulled his legs out from under him as we left the room.
We entered the bathroom and I was put on the porcelain sink top. Jason gently lifted my arms, his mind expecting me to hold them there as he started to remove the bandages that were wrapped about my middle. In the sunlight, and now with me being more accustomed to being awake, I could see the remains of what it had been holding. A scar, about an inch long, ran across my left side. It had been a vicious wound, so Jason's memory told me, and I remembered it well.
Especially the man who had inflicted it so gleefully.
I whimpered, my mind recalling the pain and the very thoughts that had been in his head; he had intended to kill at least one of us, to stop anyone else from creating a Red Chain, or us from breaking the chain he created. We tried, despite our weakened states, to stop him from releasing the guardians of space and time, but the twins themselves stopped us before we could interfere.
Weakened beyond anything we had ever felt before, we entrusted the children who had forced his hand to stop his madness.
The world was still here, so I could only assume that they had succeeded.
Jason was gentle as he cleaned my fur, like he was cleaning a child. He was obviously worried that I was still in pain from my wounds, and though I did still feel a slight throbbing, the pain I felt from my memories and feelings hurt more. I felt something probing, touching at my mind, and I inspected the new intruder.
'Mesprit?! You're alive? Oh thank Arceus; I've been trying to get contact with one of you, either of you, since last night!' His worried projection replied.
'I'm fine, Azelf.' I replied. 'I've been weakened by the injuries of last night's savagery, and a human has taken me in until I am well again.'
He seemed relieved.
'I... I've not heard any about Uxie.' I sent. 'I felt him under attack from Mightyena, and I did what I could, but...'
'Worry not, Mesprit, I took care of our brother.' Azelf said. 'While he was under siege, I found a nearby trainer telepathically and sent him to the rescue. Though Uxie is now entombed within an impressively potent Poke Ball, he is safe.'
'You're both alive...' I mumbled, literally now in tears. 'I... I'm so relieved. I have no idea what I would have done if... if one of you had...'
'Ease yourself, sister; you need not cry. I assure you we are safe. I, too, have taken up with a human, though only because my home is still besieged by Galactic gang members.' He said, trying to calm my battered nerves. 'After all we have been through, I am not sure if I would leave her, either.'
'Though humans wronged us, and threatened the very fabric of reality, not all are as cruel as those who did us harm. This one... she has a team of Pokemon, each as courageous as the last, and all of them love her dearly. The Pokemon that the Galactic kept felt nothing for their masters, no loyalty or love, especially those of that man you fear. Humans owe us for the wrongs that were done, but... I feel that this human is someone who I could really learn to stay with. As with all trainers, there is a will to succeed, but she and her Pokemon show such courage that I have only seen in one other; the boy. I feel that I could belong here, with her.'
'We live forever, Azelf; what will you do once she is gone? Return to the lake you called home?'
He seemed to give a sly smile. 'I... I would stay with her family, to protect her kin. Is that not a cause worthy of my time, to ensure that her children and her children's children grow into people the polar opposite of the man who wronged us so brutally?'
I nodded, my tears returning and puzzling Jason as he washed my tails; I'd tuned him out completely. 'Yes, brother,' I replied, 'it is. I was so quick to judge all humans as swine that I...'
'You lost sight of the soul within the flesh.' He finished for me intelligently. 'Though not a difficult thing to do with what we have been dealt by their kind;' be began to add, 'we must remember that not all are alike. Every herd of amiable Miltank has an ornery Tauros. Don't judge all by the sample that we've been given. Many stories tell different plots, but hold the same moral; we're all different.' She could feel that, if he could, he would have nudged her gently as any elder brother would a distraught sister. 'I will explain all to Uxie when he is well enough, you need not worry about us, please, just find happiness. That alone will make everything we went through worth it.'
I nodded sadly, and felt him cut the connection between us.
"Mesprit..? Are you alright?"
I nodded to his question, sniffling away tears. 'Yes.' I replied. 'As are they.'
I spent a few hours more with Jason and Tiburon, observing them and their daily routine. I didn't go with them on their walk, instead retreating to the back yard and nestling in the Cheri tree, to observe the world around me. I wasn't far from Lake Valor, possibly only a few minutes flight.
That put me on the other side of the continent from my own home.
I sighed at this thought; it would take days for me to return to my home, even if I flew; and I did not know the lay of the land. For all I knew, I could fly right into a Galactic base, or worse, into their open arms at my lake home.
I heard Jason and Tiburon return home, and the blossoms in the Cheri tree I sat in reminded me of words he had said.
"It'd be a miracle if it bore fruit."
I gently floated down to the back door as Jason opened it, stopping at head-height and letting him see how serious my face was.
'Jason... I need to go.' I said.
He nodded, giving me a gentle scratch on my head. "It had to happen eventually, it was nice to have you for as long as we did, Mesprit."
I nodded faintly, before gently floating backwards to watch him for as long as possible before I zipped off towards Lake Valor.
I didn't want to see his crying.
I arrived at the lake, hiding in the tall growth by the edge of the crater. They'd really done the incredible, emptying the lake of almost all water. Magikarp still splashed hopelessly in the little pools left behind, the lucky few having survived the massive upheaval. A few Galactic gang members lingered about the lake, possibly lying in wait for my brother to arrive and capture him in a weakened state.
I wasn't about to give them that chance.
The jewel on my forehead shone, and clouds gathered overhead. I dragged every bit of condensation I could from the air, focusing it all above the lake, and made it all drop at once.
The Galactic goons never stood a chance.
Water fell like it were dropped from an enormous bucket. One lucky gang member saw it in time and fled for shore, but the others were simply crushed by the deluge. I fished their corpses from the settling water and threw them towards their counterpart on the shore, levitating towards the cave and making sure he couldn't see me.
The cave's depths smelled like my brother; something I expected of his private home. Gingerly I reached out to him, using the cave's mystical link to him to get my connection.
'Brother, may I ask a question?'
'Of course, sister.' Azelf replied humbly.
'I... I would like to harvest some of the power within your home, may I?'
Azelf chuckled. 'Is that all?' He asked, as if I'd asked nothing at all. 'I have been storing that power for four thousand years, since the last time I had to replenish the waters after humans had over harvested it; of course you may.'
I smiled, though I knew he couldn't see it. 'Thank you, brother.'
'Any time, little sister.' He said, before I cut the connection.
I rose into the air in the middle of the cave, feeling out to the very walls and drawing the power contained within to myself. Light flowed through the air, collecting before me like a pearl. After a moment, I stopped the flow and the energy condensed into a shining blue pearl that glowed without source. At this I smiled, collecting it in my paws, giving a quick thanks to Arceus for blessing me with the energy provided before leaving the cave. I took a quick moment to seal it shut, raising the very stones at the entrance to close it before I flew with all haste towards Jason's home.
Once I arrived, I looked down at the Cheri tree, at its blooms that refused to become fruit, and kissed the pearl.
'The cycle of life is precious, and should not be altered;' I mumbled to it, 'but sometimes it requires a helping hand.'
The pearl shattered into mist, which flew down to the tree and soaked into its trunk. I watched as the blossoms dropped their petals to the grass, and in their place Cheri berries started to swell with amazing speed, never once splitting. After they finished growing, I telekinetically tapped on the back door.
Jason stepped out, his mouth agape at the fruiting tree, Tiburon following with the same dumbfounded look on his face.
'A kindness returned.' I said from the roof, getting his attention swiveled in my direction. I smiled down at him. 'I would like to stay, Jason;' I informed him, floating down to him, my eyes never leaving his.
'And I would like to be named Cherry.'