AGNPH Stories

Leon: Rebirth of a Hero by noxxi


Story Notes:

My first story.Please Review and comment on my mistakes so I can fix 'em!It starts out a bit short and bad on the earlier chapters, but rewrites for them are being done as I write this. So, if you don't get too hooked by them, please read on, and give this a chance.Reviews are very much welcome. But, if It's gonna be a bad one, please explain what went off so I can work on it. If It's just like 'Hey your bad I dun liek you 111eleven', then please refrain from reviewing.Anyways, enjoy.Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.Comments, questions, or anything like that? I can be reached by pressing that 'contact' next to my penname and sending me an email.

Chapter 18


In the silent and seemingly empty darkness of a dark castle's halls, a single figure eerily floated amidst the dimly lit walls. It was serious and still. Judging from its stance, it was waiting for someone.

"I'm here," Someone had arrived from behind it.

The figure just turned around, inspecting the one that called it with its yellow eyes, red pupils glowing in a malevolent way. "Excellent... Have you got what I requested?"

"Yes..." The one that just arrived answered from the shadows. "At the Boreal Ring, at two in the morning. That's where the next attack will be..."

"Good," The Mismagius floated forward, revealing himself. "Now, you will tell your friends that we are aware of the attack. Make plans for another one at Freya's Square...That is where Hell will die."

"Y-You can't do that!" The other one answered. "I...I refuse!"

"Really?" II answered. "Then perhaps I should pay her a visit..."

"No! I'll... I'll do it. Just...Don't hurt her."

"Excellent," II said with his sinister grin. "But I should warn you... Another outburst like that, and I might not be so forgiving..."

"I understand," The other one answered submissively. "I... I will go and do as you command. By your leave." And saying this, he turned around and left.

"I understand that you wanted to see me?" The Lucario arrived at the scene and saw the retreating shadow. "Who is that?"

"Someone who will do as I command," II answered. "Or else I will hurt someone very dear to him."

"Knowing you, you'll do so anyways, right?" Bernard asked. "It's not like you to keep your word... Or any promise you make."

"That is not for you to judge," II replied, amused at Bernard's attitude. "Now, on to the topic at hand... Form a team; We are reopening the wasteland facility."

Bernard seemed surprised at the news. "We are? For what reason?"

"Recover King, find another lot of E.L.G.A. XV, and... 'dispose' of X."

The Lucario looked down and shook his head slowly. "I will handle the first two, but the last is up to you. Treachery's not something I enjoy."

"I don't think so. Finding King, and disposing of X are up to me. You can handle the search for the lot."

"You do remember King's gone insane from all those experiments with LEA... He's practically one of them."

"Again, that is not for us to decide. Form your team," II said. "We depart in a week." Saying this, he vanished. Bernard walked away, thinking of who he would chose. Nero and XVI were there, for sure. But, who else?

Shortly after, a cane emerged from the shadows.

"Did you hear that?"

"Yeah," The Reply came from the darkness. "I saw and heard everything... I'm disappointed, though. I never thought he'd go as low as to turn on his friends."

"He is doing so for someone he cherishes," The first one answered. "Much like you are assisting me for the same reason."

"Yes...I'd do ANYTHING to save her from that fate..."

"You can not change what destiny has already deemed. You can change the how, you can change the when... But you can not change the what."

"I don't care," The one in the darkness answered. "I joined you for them. And I will save both of them, even if you say I can't..."

"That is the spirit I want you to show when we are there... Now, let us vanish from this dark and hopeless place."


Far away from there, in a cave in the Sinan Forest...

"Umm... Hello?" The voice sounded in Leon's dream. This time it was a different one, however. It was softer, and far more feminine than the one that usually talked to him.

"Who are you?" Leon was confused. He had heard the other voice plenty of times, but this one was entirely new to him.

"Who am I?!... Okay, now I'm hurt. How can you not remember? I was with you from the start!"

"You... Were?"

He heard the voice huff in indignation. "What?! Of all the rude, inconsiderate things we did together... This is the worst. You know why? Because I'm on the receiving end of it."

"Don't say that!" Leon couldn't explain why he gave that answer. "I'd never forget you!"

"Really? Then what's my name, hero kid?"

"You're... You're..."

"Ah, you know what? See you later. I got the wrong dream, anyway."

The source of the voice was gone, and Leon was left alone. He was waiting for his dream to end in silence as usual, until the silence was, much to his surprise, broken.


He opened his eyes to find himself less than an inch away from an Absol that was looking at him with a wide smile. He flinched and moved back in surprise, fully waking up.

"Hey, what's wrong?" Estelle asked. "Did I scare you?"

"N-no," Leon stuttered. "No. You just... surprised me."

"She did that to all of us," Sasha said from the leaf bed she was lying on. The leaves had withered, probably from the cold of the Glaceon that was using it. "I'm surprised you didn't hear her."

"That's right," Tiffany added from behind Leon. "I didn't know you were such a heavy sleeper, Leon."

"What can I say?" Leon said in a casual way as he approached and hugged her. "I'm full of surprises."

"Shame you woke up later than we did," Phoebe said, still laughing a little. "You missed Sasha's morning attitude."

"Sure, make fun of me," Sasha told the Espeon. "I have a very delicate sleep. It's only natural I get mad when I don't wake up by myself."

"Would have loved to see that," Leon chuckled before noticing Richard wasn't there. "Hey," He asked. "Where's Bitter?"

"He went out to get Lexy some food," Estelle answered. "He was a bit upset you didn't wake up with the others...He should be back any minute now! Hey, here he comes!"

The Luxray walked into the cave, carrying a sack in his muzzle. He walked up to Sasha and dropped it in front of her. "Here," He said. "I got you the best I could find."

"Thanks," She answered as she unrolled the sack with her paw. "You sho-" She didn't finish her sentence as she stared at a bloody lump that was inside. "hmm..."

"Pidgey," Richard answered. "It was the healthiest-looking one, too."

"Um... Thanks," Sasha answered slowly. "I know I can't be too picky, but... How can I say this? I don't eat other Pokémon... Some berries would have been okay."

"Right," Richard replied, looking a tad down. "I forgot..." He grabbed the Pidgey and tossed it at a corner. "Well, I'll be eating that one later." He turned around and headed outside. "Alright, I'm gonna go see what I can find. Any berries in particular?"

"Chesto berries, if you can find them. Otherwise, any ones are fine."

"Right," Richard left again. "Anyone else want something?"

"Anything you can get me, Richard," Phoebe answered.

"Alright. Anyone else?"

"Some Pecha berries for me," Tiffany said.

"Okay. Anything else? Anyone? So that's all you want, yeah? Then go out and get it. I thought I was clear enough last night." Before leaving, he turned to look at Estelle. "Anything for you?"

"Wow," The Absol's yellow eyes glittered with happiness. "You're actually going to bring me food, Kitty?"

"Just this once, 'cuz everyone's gonna go out and find their own food. I don't want to leave Sasha unattended, so you're staying and keeping watch."

"Got it!" Estelle sat straight in a serious way, but with her attitude that was more of an amusing sight than a reassuring one.

"Okay, then, move out." Richard looked back at the others.

"Let's go, then, Leon!" Tiffany told the Pikachu.

"You know what?" Leon answered, placing his hands on her shoulders. "Stay here. I'm your mate, and I'll bring you what you need."

"Well, aren't you a gentleman?" She answered as she smooched him, making some sparks come f his cheek. "Okay, then. You know what I wanted!"

"And I'll get it!" Leon finished as he took off after Richard, who had already left the cave.

"Better get moving," Phoebe said, disappointed as she, too, walked outside. "None of these 'gentlemen' offered to get me anything..."

Estelle, Sasha and Tiffany were left in the cave. There was something strange in the atmosphere without the other three gone. The quiet lasted too little as Estelle immediately broke the ice.

"So," She said. "Leon's your mate?"

"Yup," The Buneary answered. "I haven't known him for so long, but I think he's fantastic. You know how it's like to be in love, right? I mean, you have Richard."

Estelle laughed at the answer. "What?! Me and Kitty?! I wish!"

"You're not?"

"Nope," The Absol replied, lying down close to Sasha. "He's too weird about that. At first I thought he was afraid of girls, but I don't know what's up with him..."

"What do you mean 'too weird'?" Sasha asked.

"Yeah, like, he doesn't want friends... He doesn't want 'special' friends either... This one time I was in heat, and I got too flirty with him. He just ran away and hid from me for days. I don't know why he's like that."

"I like that about him," Sasha said. "The fact he seldom said a word and wanted no friends made him all the more mysterious... I used to have such a crush on him before..."

"Well, maybe he's a gentleman," Tiffany interrupted. "Like, he felt he was taking advantage of you or something."

"Could be," Estelle said. "I would have still preferred him over the Mightyena. They DID take advantage of me..."

"Well, he sure has changed since I last saw him," Sasha sighed. "He used to be fun to hang around with. Now he has this murky feel around him..."

"Oh he's still fun," The Absol replied. "You just have to get him in the right mood..."

"Ladies," Miaram had walked into the cave. How he had found them was a mystery. The turban was gone, leaving a large tuft of hair visible.

"Who-? Ah, great..." Sasha said, annoyed. "The crazy guy again. How do you know where we're at? Seriously, you creep. Leave us alone."

"I will... But you might lose any chance of finding a trail of your brother. You can if you want, but I don't think that'd be fair for miss Phoebe , now, would it?"

"What?!" Sasha tried to lunge at the Clefable but her leg didn't allow her to and she fell again. Giving up to her condition, she looked up at him. "What do you mean?! You know something about him?!"

"The stars might," He replied. "But then again, you don't believe in that..."

"Ah, there you go with that 'stars' crap again," Sasha growled. "You have nothing to say? Go away."

"Hey..." Estelle approached the Clefable "What's that about 'stars'?"

"I can hear what they say and see your future, girl," Miaram answered. "Perhaps you'd like to hear it?"

"Sure!" Estelle answered, excited. Sasha just held her against her head, annoyed.

"Let's see, then..." The seer replied, closing his eyes. Minutes passed as he, from the looks of it, focused on his prediction. Estelle just waited for his answer, humming excitedly in a childish way. "Ah!" Miaram finally opened his eyes and spoke. "Yellow- eyed Absol, your future is an interesting one! Laws beyond our understanding command me not to reveal it all, but here is my prediction: You will never lose that smile of yours. In the darkest moments, you are the one who will lift anyone's mood. Unlike most of your kind, you enjoy talking to others, and easily open up to anyone, but beware- - That is not always a good thing. Your guiding star and spirit are those that represent joy, and as such, you try to spread it to others whenever there is a chance. The love of your life is a soldier: A strong and often misunderstood one that will eventually strive for your heart... You are also the one that will help an enraged and vengeful soul find peace. And that," He finished. "Is what I am allowed to say." He kept silent, awaiting Estelle's response.

She jumped happily. "Kitty falls in love with me!"

"A Soldier, I said," Miaram corrected. "But not necessarily the one you are thinking of."

"Owww..." Estelle pouted. "And I was getting my hopes up..."

"Who else?" Miaram looked around, then back at Sasha. "Want to know more about your future again?"

"If I say 'yes', will you go away?"

"Depends. I probably will, however."

"Fine," The Glaceon answered in a dull tone. "I need to kill time, anyways..."

"Let's see, then!" Miaram closed his eyes again and perked his ears. Everything fell silent once again. After a while, Sasha was starting to lose her patience.

"Hurry it up, scammer!"

"Aha!" Miaram opened his eyes. "Traveling beauty of the north, that's a shaky fate that awaits you! Here is what the stars above speak of you: Your hunger for adventures and your search for your lost sibling will lead you to many places. Your attitude, however, does not change, even in the worst times. To those you know, you are friendly and open, but to strangers, you are arrogant, impolite and rude. You are the one to give that final push when choices have to be made, and are not afraid to stand up to a challenge, even when you sometimes know it is impossible to beat. Your guiding stars are those of the beauty, yet the spirit that guides your steps is that of the adventurer. In your life," he continued. "Love and happiness come forth from suffering... Suffering that you, more often than not, will bring upon yourself because of your attitude: When you least expect it, in the most painful of times, someone will be there- - You will have a shoulder to cry upon. Even if you think tears only mark you as a child, what will befall you will make you cry like one. The trails you are following in your search are the right ones. And remember, girl: Stay away from the beach."

"Alright, you know what I just heard?" Sasha retorted. "I heard you ramble about what you think is my future. And what with my attitude?! I'm adorable, you know? You didn't even tell me what I wanted to know. And, like I said, I hate beaches."

The Clefable was about to answer when a stream of lightning whizzed past him. He didn't flinch or react to it at all. Slowly, he turned around to see a Luxray growling angrily with his fur bristled, sparks forming around his paws.

"Impolite of you, wasn't that?" Miaram said calmly.

"Life's taught me to ask questions later," Richard replied. "Who the hell are you? Estelle, I thought I told you to keep watch."

"He doesn't look like a bad guy!" The Absol answered.

"It doesn't matter what he looks like," Richard growled, looking at Miaram. "Go away, before I rip at your throat..."

"I was about to leave, anyways," The Clefable answered. "Goodbye, boys and girls!" Saying this, he vanished in a flash.

"Who the hell was that?" Richard asked, annoyed and confused.

"Some guy that won't leave us alone for some reason," Tiffany answered. "He showed up two days ago and has been stalking us since then."

"I don't know him, but I hate him," Sasha said. "Calling me 'arrogant'. Who does he think he is?"

"I liked him," Estelle added. "He seemed nice."

"Anyways," Richard said as he picked up a pouch he had brought and placed it in front of Sasha. "I brought you as many Chesto Berries as I could. I hope you enjoy them."

"Thanks, Richard..." Sasha answered, opening the pouch and taking one of the berries. "I really like these," She said with her mouth still full, making some of her words impossible to understand.

"That's really not too ladylike of you, Sasha," Tiffany pointed out.

"Sorry," She replied as she swallowed. "I'm feeling too hungry."

00At first, I didn't get why he was being so kind at her when he was so rude at anyone else... Maybe he wanted to make amends for her brother's death... After all, he always thought it was his fault, even if it wasn't.00

"I also got you this, Estelle," The Luxray said as he approached Estelle and dropped another pouch in front of her.

"Whatcha get me, Kitty?"

"Some more Chesto berries, some Rawst berries and some meat... Got that unfortunate Pidgey over there some company," Richard said, looking at the carcass on the corner.

"Aw, you're the best!"

"Hey," Leon and Phoebe arrived.

"Hey, you two," Sasha greeted back. "So, Phoebe...That creep that says he can see the future came again. Says I'm 'following the right trails'."

"Well, that's good news, I guess," The Espeon said as she approached Sasha and lied down in front of her. "Wish he'd stop being so strange..."

"He also said I'm 'arrogant'. Can you believe it?"

"I don't know you that well," Phoebe replied. "My guess is you're not, but I don't know..."

"Hey..." Leon approached Tiffany, sounding disappointed. "I couldn't find the ones you wanted..."

"It's OK, Leon," She answered, getting up and reaching into her bag. "I still have a few."

"Well, that's good, but still..."

"Don't worry, Leon. You'll do better tomorrow..."

"You can have some of mine if you want," Sasha told the Buneary.

"Thanks, Sasha..."


Morning hadn't arrived yet as the darkness before sunrise covered the dark and frightening Mansion that stood above the many other houses in the place. It was surrounded by a gilded fence of a most elegant design, and the gardens outside were neatly cared for. Inside, in a large, clear room lit by a rather expensive- looking chandelier, several flying- types were gathered.

"Don Krow," A Murkrow with one of the coins that would usually be found on a Meowth hanging from his neck approached. At first glance, his feathers were as dark as most of his kind, but gained a purplish tint whenever light shone on them, and his eyes were a dark blue. Despite the fact he was a Murkrow, there was an air of respect and nobleness around him.

"What is it, Nocturne?" The answer came from a Honchkrow that was lying on a nest of pillows at the other end of the room. His feathers were purple and he was rather thin, red eyes gleaming with malice. Four Altaria were around him, caressing him while humming softly. "I hope you bring me good news..."

"Yes, Don Krow," Nocturne answered, making a bow. "Like you ordered, we have found Aria and Bolero. "

"Excellent," The Don answered. "Where are they?"

"They are in the Sinan forest," Nocturne replied, keeping his head down. "They plan to perform in Neri's grand festival the next week, that's how we found them."

"Typical," Don Krow said to himself. "They can't resist a chance to get the spotlight... Bring them to me. Aria, at least."

"But what about Bolero?" Nocturne asked.

"He is not so necessary... If he accepts to come back, he is welcome, but if he refuses, you may kill him... What am I saying? His disrespect does not deserve forgiveness. I want him at the bottom of a lake."

"But, Don Krow!" Nocturne moved closer in a way that resembled begging. "Surely, you can allow him this fault after all he has done!"

"Is my most loyal underboss questioning my command?" The Don said in a cold and spiteful tone.

"N-No!" Nocturne replied, frightened. "I was only trying to... I'm sorry."

"Go and get them," Don Krow commanded. "Aria will be no problem. She will come back with no objection, but Bolero... Be careful when you deal with him. There is a reason for which we knew him as the 'Gentle Death'. Now, begone! And don't come back without Aria, understood?"

"Y-Yes, Don Krow." Nocturne finished with a hopeless sign before turning to the Murkrow that were behind him. "Let's move..." He took off flying through the window, followed by all the other Murkrow, except for one who stayed behind and approached the Don after they were gone.

"Don Krow," He said as he approached the Honchkrow.

"Yes? Something you wish to say, Alvise?"

"Nocturne can't be trusted. He will not dare carry out the task you have given him... I'm afraid his friendship with Aria and Bolero can only make it more difficult. He'll turn on you before he dares attack them..."

"Go, then, and make sure he does. And if he does not, I think you know what my command is."

"Yes, Don Krow," Alvise said with a slight bow before flying out through the same window.

Later that day...

"Alright, time to go get yourselves something to eat," Richard told everyone else in the cave. "You," He said, looking at Tiffany. "You're keeping watch on Sasha today. What do you want me to get you?"

"Um... Sure, I guess..." The Buneary replied. "If you or Leon could get me some Pecha berries..."

"I'll try to find them, seeing how your mate's so useless he wasn't able to."

"Hey!" Leon exclaimed. "... Well, yeah, I couldn't get them... I'll get them today, though. I promise."

"Let's get going, then..." Richard finished as he walked out the cave, followed by everyone but Sasha and Tiffany.

Leon took a right towards the place he had searched the day before. Today, the Pikachu was determined to get his love what she wanted. He walked a few steps before noticing Estelle was following him.

"What's the matter, Estelle?" He turned around to face the Absol.

"You wanted to get Tiffy some Pecha berries, didn'tcha?" Estelle replied. "I know where they are! This way!" She took off running deeper into the woods.

"Estelle, wait!" Leon called out, running after her.

"Why are you so slow, Leon?" Estelle called back tauntingly. "Speed up a little!"

"Slow, huh?" Leon replied to himself as he got down and started running on all fours, making him much faster.

"Yeah! You heard me, Slowpoke!"

Leon sped up. He was running so fast he felt like his heart was going to explode. Chasing after Estelle was far more tiring than he thought at first. No matter how fast he ran, the Absol always seemed to run faster. Finally, he got close enough to her. He jumped at her and grabbed hold of her with a satisfied "Gotcha!"

"Nice, Leon!" Estelle commended the Pikachu as she stopped. "You're faster than I thought! Anyways," She gestured towards the thick group of trees that were further ahead of them. They were incredibly close to each other and the road between them seemed to tighten more and more the further ahead it went. That was a much darker part of the forest, and gave Leon the impression nothing good could be found there. "The Pecha trees are this way!" Estelle continued. "But you'd better follow close behind me, Leon! It's incredibly easy to get lost here!"

"I'll stay as close as I can," Leon replied nervously as he and the Absol walked into the darker part of the woods. "So, Estelle," He asked nervously, trying to distract himself by chatting with her. "You're from around here?"

"Yup," Estelle answered, not paying much heed to Leon's nervousness. She didn't seem to be frightened in the least. "I'm from this forest. Like almost any other Absol is... Or was, being honest. Me and my sister used to live together not too far from here, but after I met Kitty, I went to live with him. I still visit her, though."

"So you have a sister? Is she like you?" The idea of how different this Absol was compared to IX already amazed Leon. He couldn't imagine another one like that.

"Nah, she's more serious. Even though the Mightyena did all those things to us, she forgave them. But she rarely jokes around. I might sound like the little sister I am, but she's no fun."


Meanwhile, Richard and Phoebe had gone the other way. He was carrying the same green bag that was lying by that crate in his cave the day before. Neither of them had spoken a word to each other for the time they had been out. Everytime Phoebe was about to say something, she felt that lump at her throat. Even if she tried with telepathy, she just couldn't think of a way to address the retired soldier. It was only after so many tries from her that Richard broke the silence.

"So," He said in a low tone, forcing himself to talk. "How's life in Selenia? Changed since I felt?"

"Well, some parts," Phoebe answered. Keeping up with the conversation, as she discovered, was far easier than starting it. "Krow's still waging open war with the rest of the 'families', and Doome can't get to him, because somehow, the proof always disappears... He's a General now, by the way."

"General?" Richard answered, chuckling. "As if 'Yes, sir, Major Doome, sir' wasn't hard enough to say..."

"Birman's still thinking he's a ladies man. But no one pays attention to him since he evolved. Got a little fat... And Alan's still trying to act cool all the time. He wants to try surfing someday now."

"He'd be the first non-chu electric- type to achieve that," Richard said. "Guess it's a goal to best himself..."

"And, what else? My sister's still a nymphomaniac slut when mother is not watching, and the 'sky kid' is the talk of the city."

"'Sky kid'?" The term called to Richard's attention.

"Some poor Minun that fell from the sky a few days ago," Phoebe answered. "We have no idea who she is or where she comes from, but when I last checked before heading here, she was out cold."

"Ah, same old Selenia," Richard said in a mixture of nostalgia and anger. "The best place to go if you want to lose your money, your time, and your sanity... But I have to admit, it is an interesting city."

"We miss you over there... It'll be nice to have you back, even if it is because we're chasing after Blackfang."

"There," Richard stopped in front of a Chesto tree. "Those are the ones she likes." He slammed himself against the tree, making five berries fall off. He did it one more time, and five other berries fell. He started picking the berries up and placing them in the bag.

"Can I have some of those?" Phoebe asked.

Richard looked back at her, then gave the tree one last slam, making more berries fall. Without a word, he pushed them at Phoebe. He took a moment, apparently thinking of words to say. His expression suggested he had been thinking of whatever he was going to say for a long time. Finally, he turned around so that he was face to face with her.

"Look," He started. Just talking seemed to hurt him. "About Misha... I'm sorry. It should have been me." 'Damn', he thought. 'That really didn't come out like it was meant to.'

"You're sorry," Phoebe gave him a bored look. "Didn't we go over this two days ago?"

"I still wanted to tell you and Sasha. Even if you say there's nothing to be sorry for... Give me a break. You know how rare it is to hear me say something like this."

"If it makes you stop it, then yes," The Espeon answered. "I forgive you." She picked up the berries that were left for her and stored them in her own bag. "Look... I miss him all the time, okay? You two were there in the happiest moments of my life, and I don't need you to remind me of him... I'll never forget all the things we did together... It's sad, but," She looked at him, tears forming in her eyes. It was a strange moment. All of a sudden, she pressed her muzzle against the Luxray's. Richard opened his eyes in surprise for a few seconds before kissing her back. Finally, she pulled away from Richard and just stared at him. "Thanks..."

"And that's as far as we can go," Richard answered. "I'm not going to betray him like this."

"I get it," Phoebe replied, composing herself. "I-I'm sorry about that. For a moment, it was like remembering those days."

"You're not the only one who misses him..."

"Here we are, Leon!" Estelle stopped in front of the Pecha trees. "Here's all those Pecha berries Tiffy wanted!"

"Thanks, Estelle," Leon answered. "You want me to get you some berries too?"

"Nah, I prefer Rawst," The Absol answered. "There's plenty of them around here. I'll go and pick some myself. Thanks, Leon!" She wandered further ahead, humming happily before suddenly turning back. "I almost forgot! Call me once you're done so you won't get lost!" Saying this, she turned around and kept walking.

'Well,' Leon thought, looking at the Berries above. 'These are the ones Tiffany wanted... Can't wait to see her face once she sees I got them!' He held out his hand and wind started to form around it. With a swift motion, the Razor Wind attack he unleashed cut the berries off. 'Okay,' He picked them up and put them in his bag. 'Now I just cut a few more off..." He repeated the process numerous times until he had about thirty or so Pecha berries. He was bowing to pick one more up when a Rawst berry rolled towards his feet. He picked it up and turned around to hand it to whoever had dropped it. Much was his surprise when he found himself staring straight into the blood- red eyes of an Absol.

"IX!" Leon dropped the berry and got ready to fight.

Lethe simply turned around and began to walk away.

"W- wait! IX!" Leon couldn't understand why Lethe was ignoring him, more so when he was pretty sure he was there to catch him.

Lethe looked back at Leon from the corner of his eye before letting out a disgusted huff.

"Aren't you here to catch me?"

"My world does circle around you," Lethe answered coldly as he kept walking away.

Leon was left speechless. Lethe's attitude had always been like that, yet that cold demeanor was something that always left an impact on him. Not knowing what to answer, he picked up the berry and held it out so Lethe could take it.

"Keep it," Lethe answered in disgust, not stopping to look back at Leon. "I don't want to eat anything you've touched."


Lethe kept walking forward, ignoring Leon, until that all- too familiar voice called to him.


The Absol froze when he heard these words. "Ah, no..." He grunted before turning around to see Estelle standing next to Leon. "What are you doing with him?" He asked Estelle in a severe tone.

"Leon's my new friend!" Estelle replied. "And he was with those Midnight Voices guys too! So that means you're probably friends!"

"He's not my friend," Lethe answered disdainfully before he kept walking on. "Take my advice, Estelle. Stay away from that freak..." His last words vanished alongside him in the darkness of the forest.

"Um... Okay! Whatever you say, Lethe!" Estelle called into the darkness. "See you later, grumpy!"

"Lethe?" Leon was puzzled. 'So his name's Lethe?' He turned to Estelle. "You know him?"

"Yup! Lethe's like, one of my best my friends! "

'He has friends?' Everything moment he was becoming more and more confused 'The serious, cold and uncaring IX has friends? Well' He shook his head before asking the Absol next to him. "Got the Rawst berries you were looking for?"

"Yup! Let's head home!"

Back at Richard's cave...

"Hey, I'm back!" Leon shouted excitedly as he ran towards Tiffany and hugged her with such strength he lifted her and made a turn with her. "And look what I got you..." He put her down and opened his bag, showing her all the Pecha berries he had gathered.

"Wow!" Tiffany's eyes glowed with happiness when she saw this. "You got me Pecha berries... And so many! Oh, thank you, Leon!" They held each other close before kissing in a loving way and lying down together by their bags.

"Cute," Sasha said as she watched the scene from the leaf bed.

"They are, aren't they?" Estelle answered before lying down next to her in the more withered bed . "So, whatcha do while we were gone, Lexy?"

"Nothing interesting," Sasha replied. "Talked with Tiffany, shared a bit of our pasts... What else can I do when I'm stuck here?"

"You could smile about it," Estelle said in an optimistic way. "Try to look at the bright side of what's happened to you!"

"What good thing could possib-"

At that moment, Richard arrived into the cave, followed by Phoebe. They both had an awkwardly sad look on their faces, which they changed as soon as they walked in.

"Hey," Richard approached Sasha and dropped his bag in front of her. "Here are your Chesto berries." He finished, walking towards the corner of the cave and lying down there, finishing what was left of the Pidgey he had brought the day before.

"I guess there is a bright side, Estelle," Sasha looked at her. "I'm being spoiled by my biggest childhood crush. That little Eevee in me is about to faint with excitement about this." She then turned to Phoebe who had sat down by another end of the cave, not saying a word. "And what's up with you?"

*Nothing,* She heard Phoebe's voice in her mind. *Just... I remembered something, that's all... I'm gonna call it a day now.*

"Well, looks like everyone's down today," Sasha murmured at Estelle. "Guess we should do the same."

"Yup! G'night, Lexy!" Estelle said, heading off to where Richard was and cuddling up with him.

"Not so fast," Richard told the Absol as he got up and walked towards Sasha. "Before you go to sleep: Is there anything else you want?"

Sasha thought for a moment before answering. "Actually, I'm a little thirsty."

Richard looked out to the dark forest, wondering how he'd be able to bring her some water. It didn't take much thought before figuring out what to do. "There's a stream not too far from here," He told her. "I can take you there if you want. Just climb on my back again."

"Sure," The Glaceon answered. Richard lied down low enough so she could get on him, then carried her out.

Night had fallen on the forest. It was even darker than it usually was, as the thick trees prevented but the thinnest stream of moonlight from filtering through. The only source of light was the light blue glow of smaller plants and mushrooms that were growing around the base of the trees. The atmosphere was calm, and the faint glimmer from the mushrooms somehow made it more relaxing , soothing, even. Everything was silent, save from the occasional squawk of a Murkrow in the distance as the Luxray walked through the woods carrying Sasha on his back.

"Thanks for helping me... Again," Sasha whispered at Richard. "It must be a pain, tending to me and bringing me the food I want."

"There's nothing too big I can do for you," Richard replied. "I owe you a brother. And that's something I can't ever hope to repay."

Sasha sighed, giving him the same answer Phoebe had given him earlier. "Didn't we go through this two days ago?"

"That's the same thing Phoebe told me. But I can't forgive myself. Because of me... Because of how careless I was, Misha..."

The words annoyed the Glaceon. She let out an angry grunt before yelling angrily at him. "Enough with your self- pitying crap!" She barked. "You want me to say 'I hate you'?! Is that it?! You want me to feel sorry for you?! To tell you It's okay?!"

Richard was surprised by her reaction. "No, I ju-"

"Then shut up and stop thinking about it! In the words of an old guy I met while traveling: It's not the mistakes you made that you have to think about! It's what you'll do about it that matters! So man up! Whatever happened to that brave soldier I used to dream of?!"

"I'm sorry, I-"

"There you go again!" Sasha took a moment to clear her throat as her voice had become raspy from screaming so much. Finally calming down, she sighed. She would have liked to keep yelling at him, but she had spent her voice doing so and was forced to speak softer. "It's sad, Richard. You're just a shadow of who you were. It's hard to believe, but it seems you had more guts when you were a Luxio."

"I'm still what you said. But I'm burdened by this... Because of my mistakes-"

"Didn't you hear me? It's not the mistakes you made that you have to think about."

"You're right," Richard gave in on his apologies. "I shouldn't be focusing on what happened. But I already know what I'll do. I'm gonna chase Blackfang down and tear his guts out... Thanks, Sasha."

"See?" She replied, speaking calmly once again. "All you needed was to be viciously yelled at. Sorry about that, by the way."

"Well, it worked,"

Sasha laughed before nuzzling Richard in the back of the head. The spiky fur of his mane made her feel a slight itch. "By the way," She sniffed his mane. "You REALLY need a bath."

"Not in this life," The Luxray chuckled, glad that Sasha's anger was over. "If the water wants to clean me, she'll have to come and get me."

"There, that's the Richard I remember!"

"We're here," Richard told her as the stream came to sight. He approached the shore and slowly leaned to the side, gently putting her down. Sasha slowly approached the stream and started lapping some water. It was the first drink she'd had in two days, and she had to admit she was quite thirsty. Once she was done, she approached Richard and climbed back on him.

"Speaking of remembering," Richard told her. "You've changed a lot. You don't look or act like that little Eevee that would hide behind us... What made you change like that?"

"A lot of things," She answered. "The road made me change, but that's just part two, I guess. If I had to say what it was..." She looked up at the sky, which was clearly visible above them now. "A story my brother told me. You remember I used to be very shy, right?"

"Yeah, I remember." Richard told her as he started walking back to the cave.

"Well, before you met me, I was also very sickly. One step in the snow, and I'd be down with a fever for days. I was so scared of the world that I never wanted to leave the Mansion. That's when my brother told me the story of an adventurer named Freya Winter who lived a long time ago. She'd go around the world, doing all kinds of exciting things. Her adventures became legend, and she's the figure every adventurer aspires to be like. He told me I was no different from her, and that all it took for me to have a life like that was to lose my fear. He started taking me out with him on his travels, and I grew to love them, and lost both my fear and my sickness. When he went missing, I devoted myself to achieve what I heard in that story: Not only would I find my brother; I'd be like Freya. I started traveling, and the road changed me. I stopped being shy and scaredy, and in time, I even started to become a little bold. The one you see right now is what became of me after all the places I've been to and things I've done."

"Impressive," Richard replied. "It's strange, seeing you like this, yet It's also good. You've become independent... And if Misha could see you, I bet he'd be proud of you."

A flock of Murkrow flew by above them, almost invisible in the night sky. Some of them stopped in the branches of nearby trees, whilst others kept flying on.

"A lot of Murkrow around here," Sasha said as she saw the large amount that had gathered.

"Oh, they're up to something," Richard growled, upping the pace. "And I bet it ain't nothing good."

00Amazing. Sasha had done the impossible. She had actually put sense in Richard's head. How many times did I try that and wasn't successful? How many times were they, Richard?00

Meanwhile, back in the cave, Leon and Tiffany were resting, cuddled up together. Tiffany seemed to be fast asleep. Leon, however, couldn't sleep at all. He was convinced Tiffany was asleep until she spoke.

"Leon... Are you awake?"

"Yeah, and you?"

"Dumb question Isn't it?"

"Yeah," Leon chuckled. "Sorry."

"What a mess we got into, huh?" Tiffany asked.

"What do you mean?"

"A week ago we were making way to Lizean. Now we're involved in a revenge quest with Sasha, Phoebe, Estelle and the soldier guy."

"Well, that's the life of a hero," Leon told her. "Going out of your way to help others... And that's what we're doing... How was your day?"

"I stayed here with Sasha, keeping watch. We talked for a bit. It's amazing, the things she's knows..."


"Like, did you know that we're already in Selenia?"

"What?" Leon was confused. "How?"

"Because, even though it's not the city of Selenia, we are currently in the nation of Selenia. And I didn't know that... Or that Neri's river has the power to grant wishes?"

"I don't even know what Neri is," Leon answered.

"Yeah, I didn't either, but it's a town not far from here... They hold a great festival around this time of the year."

"Did you like the Berries?"

"I sure did! You brought a lot... You're the best, Leon..." She tucked herself into his arms and fell asleep, Leon following shortly afterwards...


Richard was walking through the forest. It was still too early in the morning, and only he and Estelle had woken up. He went out to get Sasha and -against what he considered necessary- everyone else some food, while Estelle left to visit her sister. He didn't worry about leaving the cave unprotected as it wasn't long before Phoebe woke up. He stopped when he heard a rustle in the bushes.

Slowly, he got into a fighting stance and waited to see what would come out. Suddenly, a fireball emerged from the bushes. Richard quickly jumped aside and dodged it, then launched a Thunderbolt at the bush. A Houndoom leapt out, avoiding the attack and landing in front of Richard.

"You owe me for the other day;" XIV growled, angry at the Luxray that had easily frightened him off. "Today, I'll let my fire make you feel true fear right before I deep fry you!"

"I don't fear fire," Richard answered. "I respect it."

"Whatever you say! I'm gong to burn you so bad you'll beg me to kill you, and when you do, I'll just start biting your entrails out!" XIV finished, convinced that his words had left an impression in Richard.

"Done?" Richard asked, bored and annoyed.

XIV flinched at the way in which the Luxray coldly ignored his words. "What?"

"If you're done, I'll show you a thing about fire." He leapt at XIV and pinned him down. He readied himself to tear at the Houndoom's throat as small tongues of flame formed in his fangs.

"You can-?"

Richard was about to strike when XIV pushed him off and hurled another fireball at him. The Luxray jumped aside.

"So, you can use fire?" XIV asked, interested.

The Luxray just showed his fangs again.

"Ah, it doesn't matter. You're through... Guys!"

Ten more Houndoom leapt out from the bushes, quickly forming around Richard and surrounding him. They all opened their mouths and started readying their Flamethrower attacks.

Richard snarled. It didn't matter how well- trained he was in battle, 11-on- 1 was an impossible thing when he was surrounded in the way he was. The Houndoom were about to attack when the wind suddenly started to blow harder. All of a sudden, the command came from one of the trees.

"XIV... Cease your attack."

XIV looked at the source of the voice and reacted in surprise when he saw Lethe standing on a tree branch.

"IX?! What are you doing here? I thought you were on a vacation?!"

"What I do with my time is none of your business," Lethe answered with the same disdain he had talked to Leon with. "Vacation or not, I am your superior. And my order is that you leave."


"Are you defying me?" Lethe growled.

"N-No," XIV replied, turning around. "Let's go, guys! We'll get a shot at this guy later." He walked away, followed by the other Houndoom. Once they vanished from sight, Lethe leapt down, landing in front of Richard.

They stared at each other's eyes, red to red , not uttering a single word. Their stares semed to be the ones doing the conversation. Finally, Lethe talked.

"That's for keeping Estelle safe," He said, then turned and began walking in the same direction XIV had gone in.

"So you're one of them," Richard spoke. "You're here for the Pikachu."

"I'm not," Lethe answered, fading from sight. "I couldn't be less concerned about that disgusting freak."

Richard stood still, looking in the direction they had all walked away from.

**Those Midnight Voices are a puzzling crew, huh?**

'You got that right,' Richard thought.

**And... What about the Espeon?**

'What about her?'

**You like her?**

'I'm not gonna talk about that to you.'

**Or maybe the Glaceon?**

'What did I just tell you?'

**Fine, be lonely!**

His thoughts were interrupted as a Murkrow jumped out of the bushes and approached him.

"Hey," The Murkrow greeted.

Richard didn't answer. He just let out a growl, keeping his senses sharp to whatever the Murkrow might be planning to do.

"Have you seen an Altaria around here?"

"No," Richard replied, then began to walk away.

"If you do, let me know, okay? I need to find him."

"I don't care," Richard answered. "It's your problem."

"What an attitude!"

"I don't care if you don't like it either." Richard walked deeper into the woods and faded from view.

"Ah, great... Nocturne's gonna be pissed." The Murkrow groaned. "Scratch him... Don Krow's gonna be pissed! I gotta find them soon. Our deadline's tomorrow!"

Two more watched the scene from the shadows. Miaram was one of them, but the other one kept hidden in the dark, trying to avoid being seen.

"For a moment, I thought we were going to witness a great battle!" Miaram said, pleased.

"Yeah... But that Lethe guy's the one who's a mystery to me."

"He is a special one. He does not have a side in this fight. His side is whichever one his heart tells him is the right one."

"And that Fourteen... He's the one, isn't he?! He's the one who's going to hurt her! I should turn him to ashes right now..."

"Whether he does or doesn't is entirely up to what choices are made. Trust her judgement."

The other one let out a sigh. "I know I sound so obsessed about it... But anyone in my place would. After all, It'd be wrong for me not to care about the well- being of both my love...

...And my little sister."

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