It was a quiet night when Deoxys descended from the heavens.
Believed to not be of this world, it went on a rampage, leaving death and destruction in its wake.
Finally defeated by an unknown force, the tragedy of unparalleled magnitude it created remains in the heart of every human.
To make sure that something like this will never happen again, every wild PokÃ¨mon powerful enough to cause such mayhem must be captured, controlled or killed.
Needless to say, this year has been a bad year for Legendaries. This year has also been a bad year for Champion Trainers.
But my year... Has been... THE WORST!
Author's Chapter Notes:
Unforgiven Killer Zerobi
Despite relishing in the newly discovered feelings of a long sleep and a big healthy meal, Lucario was exhausted. He had traveled with a hurt body before, but normally his legs would have escaped grave damage in what he assumed was a simple stroke of luck. Such was not the case with the gunshot wound currently adorning the spot right above his kneecap, which even after Celebi's efficient healing required some time on its own to be fully restored. If not for the fact that Mew's aura grew clearer with each mile he forced himself through, he would be taking breaks far more frequently. However, even with a clear goal in mind, he was not sure of how long he could keep up with the eager Celebi, who seemed to be speeding up ever so slightly when he wasn't looking.
Lucario gasped hard, drawing in the humid air around him. A dense fog had fallen, turning the once colorful plains into a grey, dull and ominous landscape. Celebi seemed unusually pleased with it, claiming that it would make it more difficult for her to be seen by anyone, all while giving the plant life enough moisture to last them until the end of the season. Not certain of the extent of her powers, Lucario guessed that she was the one responsible for the mist and was simply boasting about her creation.
"Haah... That cave seems like... A good resting place..." Lucario panted, looking back at Celebi. Unlike Mew who was positively glowing against nearly every backdrop, she had blended in perfectly with the haze and grass, appearing to be a hovering plant rather than a legendary Pokémon. However, by now he had become rather good at recognizing her, and had no problem picking up the annoyed expression she took on at his request.
"Again!?" Celebi burst out with stress apparent both in her voice and across her features, "This is the fourth time! Nightfall is still hours away, and we are nowhere near sis and Mew!"
"Excuse ME for only wandering a few miles after getting shot in the leg!" Lucario snapped back while pointing his finger accusingly, "In fact, you're the one who told me I needed rest!"
"Indeed - Which is why I once again urge you to stay behind!" Celebi pleaded and put her hands together, "Please, it is of vital importance that I speak with sis as quickly as possible!"
"Same as with Mew and I, then," Lucario insisted stubbornly, "Do you know how far I went just to talk to her? Plus, I'm not letting you hog any of the glory for defeating Giovanni."
"Who?" Celebi asked as she calmed down, trying to remember how she had been coerced into moving at such a slow pace in the first place.
"Precisely," Lucario replied with a quick nod, "And if anyone asks, you ONLY healed me afterwards and played no part in fighting him!"
"... What difference does that make?" Celebi asked curiously. She often had trouble understanding Lucario's way of thinking, and found it ironic that she was the one asking the amnesiac all the questions.
"Let's just say, my track record's not looking too good right now," Lucario mumbled as he closed his eyes and scratched the side of his head in annoyance, "I keep getting my hide pulled out of the fire by someone... Or something. I mean, I'm grateful... It beats dying... But this victory's mine. I rightfully earned it!"
"I see..." Celebi sighed, realizing that the Gallade was not the only one she knew who had a prominent ego, "... The sad truth is, I doubt anyone will be impressed with your feats of defeating a human who was not even using any Pokémon."
Lucario shrugged as he lowered his head, silently walking towards the cave with a gaunt expression. Celebi suddenly felt ashamed. Just because personal glory was not important to her, did it give her the right to belittle those who sought it? What she cared about might not interest him at all, but that still did not make it worthless in her eyes.
"But still... You protected me," Celebi said confidently as she slowly followed him, "That must count for something, no?"
"Hmpf..." Lucario huffed as he walked into the cave, trying to convince himself that his efforts had not been in vain. Relieved to see that the cave was empty, he was about to lie down and immediately go to sleep when he suddenly noticed a subtle smell in the air. It was something familiar, something like putting on an old jacket that had not been washed for decades.
"... You!?" a voice suddenly sounded above. Looking up in surprise, he saw a black figure let go of the ceiling as it gracefully landed right in front of him. Some of the mist had seeped into the dark insides of the cave, but Lucario had no problem recognizing the fiery red top of the creature, reflecting slightly upon the dull silver of its sharp claws.
"Lucario! You're alright!" Zerobi shouted happily, "Man, I had you taken for dead after I saw Raikou running by!"
"Really?" Lucario responded cooly, a big smile creeping up on his face, "Why're you here, then? Mounting a rescue operation, or were you just planning on retrieving my body?"
She moved to hug him, before suddenly hesitating and stopping herself.
"You..." Zerobi said as her eyes drifted upwards and her expression darkened, "... Have a hole in your ear?"
Instinctively grabbing his ears, Lucario suddenly realized the hole left from one of Silver's bullets was still there. He had not been feeling any pain from it, and thus had completely neglected to check up on it.
"C-Celebi...?" Lucario stuttered with a scared tone to his voice as he turned around, "I-It'll grow back, right...?"
"Of course it will!" Celebi assured him, the small legendary coming up from behind and into Zerobi's vision. At the sight of her smiling sister, all of her mental preparations broke as she found herself completely speechless.
"... Sis!" Zerobi exclaimed while taking a step forward, "You're here, too?"
"Yeah, she's the one who saved..." Lucario started, cutting himself off as he crossed his arms, "... I mean, she ran into me while I was busy beating up an old rival."
"Nice," Zerobi said with a nod, still looking at Celebi, "How'd you know he had been captured?"
"I... I did not," Celebi forced a response out of herself, "I simply followed his aura to find... You."
"Well, looks like it worked... Somehow!" Zerobi exclaimed cheerfully, turning to the side and beckoning them to follow, "Come on, let's go deeper inside, wouldn't do to have someone come in and crash the party!"
"Wait... Where's Mew?" Lucario asked as he looked around, a hint of disappointment crossing his face.
"Training," Zerobi responded with a smile, overjoyed to finally have company other than the pink legendary, "She's started to regain her powers, and is practicing flying and all that. She said she'd be back by night."
The three of them went deeper inside, Zerobi's smile never fading. She had expected to go through hell to get Lucario back, but had instead found both him and her sister alright. As bad as things had seemed after No Man's Land, she finally felt that things were turning alright once more.
They sat down, Lucario telling Zerobi about what had happened. Celebi remained completely silent and did not seem to be listening, presumably thinking about something else since he had already told her everything. He decided to leave out the parts regarding Zoroark's true gender, not because it was secret but mostly because he did not want to admit to groping someone next to two women fully capable of making mincemeat out of him.
"... And then, I suggested we rest here in this cave..." Lucario explained as he exhaled, "... Well, you know the rest. What happened to you two after you got out of No Man's Land?"
"Well, uh..." Zerobi mumbled as she fidgeted a bit, "We couldn't actually leave the forest right away."
"Huh?" Lucario exclaimed, not even having thought of the possibility until now, "After all I went thought to stay behind and let you escape!?"
"I thought you said you just weren't fast enough to outrun Zoroark," Zerobi responded while shrugging, "Anyway, moving around in the open with a seemingly dead legendary's not as subtle as you'd think... I need less reasons for the police to hunt me, not more!"
"Personally, I'd take the police over Raikou any day of the week..." Lucario muttered, twitching at the mere thought of electricity while wishing all his enemies were as weak as the four Mienfoo he trashed.
"Great minds think alike," Zerobi snickered, "I, uh, froze together a bunch of leaves and branches to cover her up, and told Pokémon passing by not to disturb my baby."
"Hahaha!" Lucario started laughing, Celebi suddenly snapping out of her trance and giving him a startled look, "No way! That actually worked!?"
"Almost," Zerobi answered with a confident smile, "Covering up her enormous tail was impossible, so one guy I ran into got curious as to how I was able to carrying around a Ditto like this."
"A Ditto?" Lucario repeated, surprised to hear there was another Pokémon with a tail like Mew's, "What happened?"
"Heheh..." Zerobi snickered as she thought back, "Let's just say, right now his headache's probably worse than mine."
"Argh, I'd kill for a nothing but a headache right about now..." Lucario muttered as the pain in his shoulder flared up once more, "You should've seen it! I was bleeding from my shoulder, which I couldn't move... And my leg, which I couldn't stand on! I swear, the blood was flowing out of me like a river! A miracle I didn't faint immediately!"
"Nah, you can actually lose tons of blood and still keep going for a while," Zerobi explained, trying to dismiss the thought of Lucario nearly dying again. She had promised herself to try and not worry so much about things any longer, and simply enjoy life for once.
"... Man, how do you know all this stuff?" Lucario asked, Zerobi clamming up as she realized she had accidentally drawn experience from her sordid past. She could not help but notice that Celebi was staring at her very intently, and she tried to think of a way to shift the subject.
"Well, uh..." Zerobi mumbled, "I went to school and got an education, you know. Battle Training... Type Recognition..."
"... Evolution's Gate...?" Celebi whispered quietly, her eyes slowly turning towards Zerobi.
A waft rushed through the small cavern as Zerobi inhaled, the frightening words ringing in her ears. She could not help but stare, completely frozen in shock. Celebi forced herself to look back, even though she was witnessing the absolutely last thing she wanted to see at that moment. She silently begged Zerobi, pleaded with her to look confused or shake her head in denial... To do anything but stare at her with quiet, horrified understanding.