AGNPH Stories

The Dimensional Balance Saga by Arcane_Reno


Story Notes:

Starts off clean, but later chapters get naughty. :P And no, this is not a Harry Potter crossover!

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.

Chapter 18: Deus Ex Machina

Deus Ex Machina

"I don't think I'll ever get the scent of flowers out of my nose," Cheri complained, her ears flicking as she swiped a paw across her muzzle. "I feel like someone crammed a" a what did she call it again? Bow-kay?"

"Bouquet," Shawn replied absently, fiddling with his poké dex. Strange, it was still acting up. Nothing he had tried on it so far had worked. Ever since they had arrived in Floaroma, the screen had shown nothing but criss-crossed green lines, and a message that read: Syntax error 417678: Energy signature incompatible with database. Reset buffers to clear manifold, or contact technical assistance. Attempt debug?

"Yeah, bouquet," Cheri said with a nod. "It feels like someone stuffed one up my nose!"

Shawn chuckled, punching the button to start the auto repair protocol once again, then snapping the "dex shut and putting it in his pocket. Unfortunately, "technical assistance" meant taking it to one of the poké mon professors for repairs, which was out of the question. He would try to talk it out of this unacceptable behaviour tonight. The little device was invaluable. "Maybe someone did while you weren't looking. With your nose, you could have a whole garden in there! Besides, I thought all girls liked the smell of flowers."

Cheri growled good naturedly. "Watch it, or I won't give you any more free rides! I might even make YOU carry ME. And I DO like flowers, but there's such a thing as too many."

Shawn gasped in mock horror. "FREE rides? I am offended! Surely the wonderful meals I serve to you are compensation enough?"

Cheri snorted. "Wonderful meals huh? Try dry and tasteless. Couldn't you at least get more of the poffin pops mix?" She licked her lips. "Now THOSE are good."

Shawn tsked disapprovingly. "They may taste good, but that stuff has the nutritional value of a bowl of sugar. Everyone else likes this new stuff too. You guys eat better than I do on the road!" He laughed softly, scratching her ears to a rumble of approval. "But, I promise I'll pick up more of my top secret spice mix at the next mart, mmkay?" This statement elicited an eager nod. "This one was out of one of the ingredients. Besides, "bland" for you is; "mouth on fire" for everyone else."

Cheri giggled. "Maybe, though it WAS rather funny when Marty ate one of my poffins by mistake. You…d think water types would be able to put out their own tongues!" She paused for a moment, looking at him with a sideways, half-lidded gaze. "I suppose the food is tolerable for now." Her voice lowered, taking on a purring quality. "But, there IS something else that can satisfy my appetite, that I haven't had in a while…"

Shawn laughed, giving her a friendly punch to the shoulder. "Naughty girl! Now that's a different kind of "free ride…, one that unfortunately we are not in the place for."

She rumbled, nuzzling against his chest and trailing a lick under his chin. "Not yet at least. All this travel has made me awfully thirsty though…"

He grinned, trying to ignore the beginnings of arousal her advances stirred, a tiny shiver running down his spine at the feel of her rough tongue bathing his neck. "Mmm, you offer a tempting prospect my dear, but one that sadly must wait. We have more ground to cover today."

"Mmm, ground to cover through a nice big forest, with plenty of" private" places." She licked her lips again, this time with a more sensual flair.

Shawn shook his head ruefully. "Work first, pleasure later I'm afraid."

"What if we run?"

"Oh? So now you WANT to carry me?"

"I never said I didn't like carrying you…" She batted him with her tail, tickling along his stomach and crotch teasingly as she crossed in front of him, making him shift uncomfortably with the growing bulge in his pants, trying to hide it by lengthening his stride along the dusty track.

"Well, I appreciate the offer gorgeous, but I think I'll walk for now. We're nearly there anyhow, and we might come across some interesting poké mon in here. Besides, I wouldn't want you to run me into another tree branch."

"That only happened once! I said I…d be more careful, and you ducked it anyway!" She huffed indignantly, tufted ears flicking. He chuckled, ruffling her mane to show he wasn't serious.

Riding on her back truly was a joy. It had been her idea, a way for them to cover ground a bit more quickly while he recovered from teleporting. She could only run so far before tiring of course, and then he would slide off to walk once more, but they had covered the remaining distance to Floaroma in remarkable time.

He scratched behind her ears absently as they walked, drawing a pleased murmur from the Arcanine. The offer WAS tempting. There was really no sensation quite like it. The feeling of powerful, rippling muscles flowing beneath his body as he clung to her mane, legs gripping her sides, her body heat pouring into him, whisked away by the rushing air" Ground and scenery blurring, the speed greater than that of the swiftest horse" Soft, muffled thumps, her padded steps making barely a sound on the road, even at their reckless pace, her racing heartbeat seeming equally as loud to the ear he had pressed against her neck"

It was much more comfortable than riding a horse too, even bareback. Cheri's plush fur and well proportioned musculature practically invited him on board. Her smooth, bounding gait seemed to flow, the two of them almost moving as one being. An orange furred lightning bolt, streaking over the land.

"How big IS this place anyway?" Cheri asked, eyeing the seemingly endless wall of trees. The entire forest was surrounded by an unbroken line of sturdy fence, designed to keep trainers from entering wherever they pleased. The authorities apparently liked to keep track of everyone going into Eterna forest, to ensure nobody managed to get lost inside its winding shaded paths. They would need to register at the forest gate, and sign out when they left at the other side.

"I'm not sure. The lady at the flower shop said it would take us at least a couple of hours to walk through though, and that's if we're quick. Did you not listen to that part?"

Cheri snorted. "No, I was too busy keeping her sisters from drooling all over you. I think that younger one would have tried to jump you on the spot when you smiled at her." This last was coloured by a soft growl, her eyes narrowing.

Shawn shook his head ruefully. There it was again, that same jealous protectiveness around human females. "Really? I didn't notice." He grinned at her, giving her another playful tap. "They just seemed to be enjoying making you look all pretty." Was it just a matter of respect? It often was with canines. Cheri had no cause to respect most human females, so by her reasoning, they had no right to approach him.

Her expression softened, and she tossed her head with a chuckle, her tail waving like a fluffy flag. "True. But that was really annoying, getting all those flowers out of my mane! I like the scarf a lot more. I suppose they were just being nice though."

"Mmhmm, and they didn't even charge me for them." The oldest of the three sisters had mentioned something about, "spreading the scent of flowers…, and waved away his offer of payment. "It really didn't look that bad you know. Not that you even need accessories to look beautiful." The aforementioned scarf was once again wound loosely into her mane, as it always was when they were travelling through towns, the black silk contrasting delightfully with the creamy fluff.

"Oh, you flatterer!" Her tail wagged harder, thumping against his leg as she rubbed her body against him, nearly knocking him off balance. He steadied himself on her shoulder with a laugh, awarding her a quick peck on the lips before striding forward.

Cheri barked indignantly. "Hey! Come back here and do it properly!" He grinned to himself. Oh, he would be in for it when she got him in a private place. She apparently realized he wasn't going to cooperate, as she bounded up in a rush, whacking him across the backside with her tail as she fell into step once more. It only served to widen his smile. It was nice to get an opportunity to slow down and take part in some romantic play with her.

Their stay in Floaroma had been pleasant, but brief, including only a single night at the poké centre. The town had little of interest to him, though he might have stopped to take a closer look at the wind works, had they been home to the kind of poké mon that would have rounded out his team. As fascinating as it would have been to examine the advanced form of energy collection, he had ignored it in favour of moving on, after replenishing their supplies at the combination poké mart and flower shop near the centre.

Shawn's journey up to this point had been marked by a strange urgency he couldn't explain. He wanted to get to Celestic town, true, but this' inner tugging" was odd. It was as if some small part of him had escaped, and was somewhere up ahead, waiting for him to catch up and reclaim it. Kirin had kindly forgone her turn of walking with him so that he could run with Cheri, and the whirlwind of travel had blurred the time together. They had only stopped once along the way, to allow both him and Cheri to rest, and the others a chance to train and exercise.

"Three days. Has it really only been three days?"

It seemed far longer somehow. The shock and pain of Marek's betrayal and death had faded, but still lurked somewhere deep inside, like a tiny splinter embedded in his flesh. It probably always would. Like Nina's death, the image of Marek stepping off that cliff would remain locked within, a scar that would never completely heal. A lesson, as it were. A mistake to avoid making again.

Mistakes were too costly. This mission" he had no room for more mistakes.

Somewhere up ahead, he just knew he was heading towards something important. But" what? Would Celestic town have some answers? The Powers were so elusive, preferring to do their work in the background to avoid unwanted attention. Could some old ruins really give him the clue he needed?

In any case, Eterna would be a nice breather from the rapid travel. He still needed to round out his team, and the ancient forest would be a good place to look. The tugging sensation wheedled constantly, like tiny fingers plucking away at something inside him, but it seemed a little less urgent at the moment. What did it mean?

"I guess I'll find out when the time is right."

After a few more minutes of walking, they reached the Eterna forest's South gate. It was a fairly small building, marking the only break in the fence line along this side. The poké dex map was explicitly clear about this. Well, it was when it was WORKING. He would need to get a map from the visitor centre.

The glass door of the building slid open automatically at their approach, lacking only a flashing "welcome" sign. Cool air circulated gently from a ceiling fan, carrying a lingering scent of flowers. Not surprising. Multiple blossoming plants lined the walls, and several smaller bouquets sat upon the desk along the side, nearly obscuring the petite woman who sat behind it. Cheri sneezed, shaking her head as if to try and rid herself of the scent. "Can we make this quick?"

Shawn nodded, stepping up to the counter. "Excuse me."

The woman started, looking up from the pages of a paperback novel, apparently noticing him and Cheri for the first time. "Oh! I'm sorry!" She hastily snapped the book closed, shoving it discreetly under the counter. But not before Shawn caught the cover. He stifled a laugh. "High Flying Passion in Fortree? Steamy." The picture on the front showed a half dressed woman cradled in the wings of a large Pidgeot, the pair either locked in an apparently sensuous kiss.

The woman regained her composure, tucking a loose hair into place behind her glasses, smiling brightly in spite of the hint of a blush rising to her face. "How may I help you?"

Shawn carefully schooled his features, pretending he hadn't noticed. "Just a map of the forest please."

"Oh, of course." She opened a drawer, pulling out a neatly folded sheet of paper, her glasses slipping down in the process. "And, um, I'll need you to sign in too. Can I have your trainer card please?"

Shawn flashed her a smile, trading the card for the map. "Sure, no problem." He couldn't resist adding in a serious tone, "I'm hoping to find a rare flying type. You might say I have a bit of a passion for them."

She almost dropped his card, the blush rising back into her cheeks as she returned the ID. "Th-that's" fantastic," she said in a strangled voice. "G-good luck with that!"

He gave her a salute and a grin, then joined Cheri, who sat by the door leading to the forest with an impatient look on her face. She sneezed again. "What was THAT all about?"

He ruffled her headfur, the Arcanine standing to follow as the second door hissed open. "Just a little joke," he murmured. As the door closed behind them, he finally allowed himself to release the bottled up laugh, making Cheri look at him quizzically. "Let's just say our flower loving friend in there has a strong…interest" in feathers."

Cheri's lips parted in a canine grin. "Flying types? Interesting" Can't really see the attraction myself. My" interests' keep their feet on the ground. Well, MOST of the time!"

Shawn returned the smile. "What, you didn't like the levitation trick?"

"Not when I…M the one you're levitating!"

"Hey, all's fair in love and sparring."

"I'll keep that in mind next time I'm on top." She glanced up, looking at the patch of sky visible between the encroaching tree-tops. "Which should be right about…" She trailed off, her gaze carrying a lustful glint as she licked her lips.

Shawn bopped her lightly on the nose to cool her ardour, chuckling. "No, not NOW either! You, my dear, need to learn some patience." Did she really expect him to just drop his pants right there? Probably.

She shot him a disappointed look. "Fiiine. But later…" She shivered, the lustful glint returning, her tail waving furiously. Oh yes, he was definitely in for it later. "Later" could prove to be a lot of fun indeed"

He shook off the thoughts, steering himself back to the task at hand. There was that tugging still. Fainter, yet more" focused. He glanced down at the map. It was coming vaguely in the direction of that trail on the left" the one that wove through the forest's centre.

"Come on, let's go."



Shawn reached in his pocket and withdrew the map, halting in his tracks to study it for a moment. The light was muted to an emerald gold tinge under the tree canopy, but more than enough to read the brightly coloured chart. "Hmm, if I'm reading it right, then we're here…" he tapped the paper. "And that tree there, is over a thousand years old." He pointed to a particularly large specimen, its mighty trunk wider than Cheri's length from nose to tail, long branches drooping down and sweeping the edges of the path.

"Fascinating," Cheri said, stifling a theatrical yawn. "Does that tell you how far we have to go for some action? Or at least until we're out of here?"

Shawn somewhat agreed with the sentiment. Surprisingly, their forest explorations had been" dull. As peaceful as the forest was, filled with sturdy foliage and soft earthy scents, along with every possible shade of green, it felt" empty. He had seen plenty of signs of habitation. He could hear wild poké mon in the distance, birdcalls and insect buzzes, along with the odd cry or greeting call of something that likely walked on all fours. But they were all too far away to be distinct.

It was as if all the denizens of the forest were staying as far away from him as possible. Cheri hadn't even been able to smell anything close by, aside from a pair of Starly flying overhead.

"We're almost halfway, so probably a good couple hours to go," he replied. "Surely we'll come across SOMETHING before then." He wasn't too sure what "something" was just yet. But in a place as full of life as this, the chances of meeting a poké mon that would round out his team were high. Or, they should have been.

Even humans seemed to have vacated the forest. From what he…d heard, this was a popular spot for trainers, particularly those who had an Eevee in their party. Yet" nothing. They appeared to have the entire forest to themselves. "It's" almost eerie."

Cheri huffed, giving him an impatient look. …Can we keep going? That tree isn't going to turn into a poké mon. OR lunch."

"Well, it COULD," Shawn countered with a grin. "What if it's a thousand year old Sudowoodo?"

She snorted. "Why don't you blast it with water and see. Wouldn't THAT be a rude awakening!"

Shawn imagined the massive tree suddenly sprouting legs, its gargantuan limbs turning into flailing wrecking balls. Even with magic to protect him, such a creature would NOT be a pleasant encounter. "Hmm, I think I'll pass, thanks."

Cheri grinned wickedly. "Fine then. Don't blame me if you missed your chance to catch a monster of a Sudowoodo."

He laughed. "Pretty sure it's just another tree dear. I could ask it if you like."

"Sounds like a fun conversation. Or not. Let's keep going!"

"Right." He consulted the map again briefly, confirming their direction. "We need to take the left at the next path intersection."

She was already trotting off, tail held high. Shawn couldn't resist taking a second to admire the view, and his grin widened as she gave a little wiggle of her rump. A "come hither" gesture if he…d ever seen one. She knew he was watching. She looked back over her shoulder with a wink. "Come on handsome, I'm sure that tree will find someone else to talk to."

"Mmm, arm twister." He lengthened his stride to catch up, giving her tail a little tug as he passed. She gave him a smug look.

"None of that now, or I might forget what you said about later!"

"Sorry babe, couldn't resist. Consider it a promise."

She let out a happy bark. "I'll hold you to that!"

"Wouldn't have it any other way." He smiled, trailing his fingers through the creamy fluff of her mane. The scarf was now safely stowed away, to keep it from snagging on any stray sticks. "I ALWAYS keep my promises."

She purred, pressing against him as much as she could while walking, nuzzling against his shoulder. "My mate…"

They continued on for a few moments in peaceful silence, their feelings for each other not needing to be expressed in words. The forest had a" lulling effect, even with that ever present gnawing inside, that there was something waiting just around the next corner. He would get there when he got there.

The narrow path wound through the trees in a casual manner, barely wide enough to accommodate four people side by side. The edges of it fought a losing battle with the surrounding greenery, which the caretakers of the forest likely had to prune regularly.

Cheri took a deep sniff, testing the air. "There's something" strange, here. I can smell it. But it doesn't feel bad."

"I know, it's like there's something here that's throwing everything out of place. And it's not us this time."

She giggled, her head swivelling around as she searched for the source of the smell. "Maybe. I can't smell anything close either, but it feels like we're being watched. Yet" not quite. I don't know how to describe it."

Shawn eyed the surrounding trees, trying to put a finger on the sensation. "Yes' something like that."

On impulse, he drew his poké dex out of his pocket. The green lines had vanished, only to be replaced by a long line of-

He blinked, looking closer. It wasn't just numbers, it was a tiny, looping animation of a stick man, running in circles. "What the hell is wrong with this thing?" Underneath the image was a string of binary code, and the phrase: Ping influx from data node 177.432.1.88. Device query? Target sign exceeds parameter. Valid target scan failed. Command protocol?

He had no idea how to answer the question, filing it away under "later". Maybe it had been in the way of one of Marty's attacks, and its circuitry needed a good drying out.

"Care to tell me what the problem is?" he murmured to the computer, hardening his vowels in the form of The Speech easiest understood by inanimate objects.

He could have sworn the "dex let out a whimper. "Data packet incompatible. New Query?"

He frowned, tapping the power button thoughtfully, choosing his words carefully. "Diagnostic, run error report."

It spat out a choked buzz. "Error report feature disabled by external source. System failure in nodes B789, B790, B799." The screen suddenly flashed a deep purple, an alert noise chiming from the speaker. "Anomaly incoming. HOLD_ME.exe protocol initiated."

"Hey! Did you see that?" Cheri exclaimed, breaking him out of his study of the device.

"What? Where?" he stuffed the malfunctioning hardware back into his pocket, scanning the forest for signs of movement.

"It went that way!" Without another word, Cheri dashed off of the trail, tail streaming behind her, disappearing in between two trees.

Shawn's eyebrows shot up in surprise, but he recovered quickly, gripping the hilt of his blade and pulling in Earth power to speed his sprint. He dashed after her, his surroundings blurring as he rapidly exceeded a pace any normal human could achieve.

Greenery flew by, tiny sticks and branches whipping at him, his shield keeping him from sustaining scores of scratches and cuts. He could just barely see her, flashes of orange cutting through the greenery as he followed the sound of her passage, surprisingly silent as it was for her size.

"Wait Cheri!" Shawn called, powering into a leap over a bush to keep his mate's fluffy tail in sight. "Don't-"

He skidded to a halt, almost running right into her as she stopped abruptly, her creamy tail-tip flicking past his nose and almost making him sneeze.

"I thought I saw it stop here, but…" She turned to face him, a puzzled look on her face. "It just" vanished. I thought it might be…" She trailed off, her tail and ears drooping slightly.

He glanced around, peering between the trees, speckles of sunlight dappling the forest floor around them, the scent of flowers wafting through the air. "Whatever it was, it doesn't seem to be-"

A soft giggle sounded from off to their left, both their heads swivelling towards the sound. A flash of pink shot away, like a mischievous will-o-the-wisp attempting to draw them into some devious game of tag.

"There!" Cheri cried, bounding off towards it, Shawn hot on her heels. "Cheri, stop! We don't know what this thing is!"

"That's what we're finding out, silly!" she tossed over her shoulder, all the while weaving around trees with fluid grace, her luxurious, vivid coat flowing with her motion, muscles rippling with understated power.

"Yes, but-"

A brief flicker registered in his mind, a split-second before a wall of pink filled his vision, making him hit the brakes as hard as he could without falling over, two sparkling blue orbs staring directly into his from inches away. "HI!"

"Holy-!" He stumbled back, instantly in a combat stance with his sword half-drawn, gaining his balance and some distance on the creature. Adrenaline coursed through him, years of training kicking his mind into gear, information registering in simultaneous bullet points. Cheri whirling around with a startled bark, clods of dirt flying behind her as she used her claws for traction, digging furrows into the soft loam" Trees hemming them in on every side, making movement difficult" Filtered sunlight trickling through the trees and dappling the ground" And this' pink thing, hovering now a couple of feet in front of him, giggling madly.

"Ha! I got you pretty good! Not as good as some, but still pretty good!"

Cheri skidded to a halt, staring wide-eyed at the creature, her ears perked and nostrils quivering. Shawn relaxed his stance slightly, still eyeing the poké mon warily, but now with far less alarm driving his actions.

It didn't have a remotely threatening posture, simply floating there docilely, one small pink paw over its mouth as it continued to giggle. The sapphire depths of its eyes remained fixed upon him, shimmering with amusement, its perky ears twitching slightly. A long pink tail flicked around behind it distractingly, like a hyperactive python on a sugar high. The appendage tapered, before ending in a bit of a bulge, although as a whole it appeared to be rather prehensile. "Is this really…"

"Mew," Cheri breathed, taking a cautious step forward with an awe-struck look on her face, staring at the other poké mon as if it were a glorious sight that she was afraid would suddenly vanish. Perhaps in some ways, it was. "It really IS!"

"Yup, that's me!" Mew confirmed, twirling in a rapid circle with a twittering giggle, ending up floating a couple of feet higher before once more descending to Shawn's eye-level.

He felt completely thunder-struck. Cheri could have suddenly sprouted wings at that moment, and he would have barely given the spectacle more than a passing glance. Mew, THE Mew, standing" well, not truly standing, but" right in front of him. There was no question of exactly what this poké mon was. To all his knowledge of this world, there was no other being that fit that description.

"Well" Um, this is a surprise," he said conversationally, attempting to mask his shock, likely failing gloriously. He wasn't entirely sure what protocol was applicable in this situation. The standard, respectful greeting had completely flown from his mind, and the time for it was clearly past. "What exactly do you do when one of the Powers jumps out and yells Boo!"

"Mmm, well, that WAS the idea," Mew said with a smirk, winking at him. "You humans look so funny when you're taken by surprise!"

Cheri padded up to his side, keeping her eyes on Mew the entire time, still seeming completely over-awed. Quite an unusual emotion for her, but not entirely surprising. It wasn't every day you saw something that many would consider a myth.

The silence stretched on for a moment, Shawn struggling to find words, absent-mindedly sliding his sword back into its sheath. He had been looking to encounter a legendary, but certainly not like THIS!

Mew folded its little arms over its chest, floating from side to side a bit and tilting its head in a rather bird-like manner, peering at him expectantly. "Well?"

"Well what?" he responded automatically.

"Aren't you going to ask me anything? Meaning of life? How to stop entropy? What's REALLY going on? You wizard types are always loaded with either questions or unimaginative requests, usually both."

"Um, yeah, sure. Why exactly are you here?" The first question that came to mind was a pretty mundane one, but it got his derailed train of thought back on its tracks, the wrench Mew's unexpected appearance had tossed into the workings of his mind suddenly popping loose.

Mew giggled girlishly. "That's easy! You were looking for me, so here I am! We ARE supposed to help when you ask after all."

"I find it hard to believe it's that simple." It never was with the Powers. At the least, you had to jump through hoops to even speak to one, and getting them to DO anything was usually a matter of dragging them kicking and screaming, as much as it was possible to do so with such beings.

"Of course it isn't!" Mew turned to Cheri, grinning wildly at the Arcanine, whose tail was now wagging slowly. "You've got a smart one here!" She nodded wordlessly in response, finally seeming to break out of her star-struck state somewhat.

Mew rotated in the air, stretching languidly and now floating on its side. "But, I guess I can answer THAT question properly. There's a few things actually, but mostly I'm just REALLY curious about you two. It's not very often I see a poké mon and human relationship like yours!"

"Oh? You know about that?" Shawn asked curiously, a bit surprised at the seemingly offhand nature of Mew's attitude. None of the Powers he had ever met had been so" casual, or had possessed such a strong playfulness, which Mew seemed to have mile wide streak of.

"Of course I do! I'm the progenitor after all! I have a VERY strong" interest" in such things. Mating is great! And to find a pairing like yours, this is a rare treat!" It flipped upright again, hovering a bit closer, the seemingly ever-present grin nearly stretching from ear to ear.

"Progenitor? I'm not entirely sure what you mean."

"I helped Arceus with making all the poké mon! It was great! I have a bit of DNA from all the different poké mon species inside me. None of your guys' though. We didn't do any of THAT here, we just copied the existing template. But all the other poké s are kinda like" I dunno, my kids or something, and it's so much fun watching them fall in love and do what comes naturally! Especially when it's with humans! Even being different species doesn't stop you from loving each other. It's awesome!"

His adrenaline surged with a sense of danger, a sudden, flickering twitch in the corner of his vision his only warning, reflex making him throw his hands up in defence as a blur of pink streaked towards him, his reaction slow from the close range"

Too much! He recoiled instinctively as the bulb of Mew's tail-tip slapped him hard across the face.

The disarming nature of this poké mon had made him drop his guard completely, the sudden attack coming out of the blue. It didn't hurt, his shield protecting him from the blow, but it flipped him back into combat mode, dancing back and grabbing his sword hilt again.

"And now you're trying to mess everything up!" Mew shouted, little paws balled into indignant fists, tail lashing furiously, an oddly cute form of anger flashing across the pink poké mon's features. Cheri's cry of warning was already too late, his mate stiffening at the assault on his person, although she made no further move to attack.

"What was that for?!" he yelled, his heart pounding as he restrained himself from instantly drawing his blade in self-defence, Mew making no further threatening actions.

As rapidly as it had appeared, the anger vanished, Mew's entire demeanour transforming with quicksilver suddenness. Peals of laughter rang out as the enigmatic psychic floated away from him, waving its arms placatingly.

"Hee he, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, you didn't deserve that. It's not you really, it's your species. Or really, just a few of them."

He simply stared, at a loss for words once more, this entire scenario seeming completely surreal. "Is this a dream?"

"Nope! You're not dreaming, and yes, I CAN read your mind if I want to. No, I didn't read your mind, I just read your face. Maybe," Mew said with a giggle. It might as well have been another slap. He hadn't felt the slightest touch of telepathy, yet it was already in his head?

"Yup," came the same voice, although not audible this time, sounding only inside his mind. "But it's kind of bad manners. Don't worry, I won't do it unless I have to." He felt what seemed to be the mental equivalent of a condescending pat on the shoulder, before the touch faded away, seeming as if it were being made pointedly obvious for his benefit.

He blinked, feeling completely off balance. Mew had managed to breach his mind that easily? Yet, the fact that the Psychic poké mon hadn't done anything was surely an indication of good, or at least not harmful, intent. Then again, the Powers' interpretations of "not harmful" weren't always the same as that of mortals.

Mew shook its head, looking mildly annoyed for a split second again, once more speaking aloud, gesturing animatedly. "That Cyrus guy" it really bugs me what he's trying to do! All this great stuff, and he wants to destroy it? For no real reason other than he thinks it would be better? Honestly, he's playing right into Darkrai's claws! Yeah, that's part of why I'm here too…"

He still felt like he was playing catch up, shaking off the residual shock of what had just happened, latching onto the last statement like a drowning man grasping a piece of wood. "Which means' what, exactly? That you're here to tell me a bit more about what's going on? What I can do to stop it?"

Mew perked up, left ear twitching slightly as it clasped its paws behind its back. "Well" sort of. I really can't get too involved. Arceus is antsy about such things. Understandably though. Darkrai can be a stickler about their little "rules' when it suits him, and would jump at the smallest opportunity to muck things up. Wow, that reminds me, it's been ages since I've talked to Arceus!"

The seemingly random ricocheting from thought to thought was making Shawn's head spin. From the looks of things, Cheri was experiencing the same. Did Mew just spout out whatever popped into its head? "This is exactly why dealing with the Powers is always' a bit of an adventure."

"So, what exactly CAN you tell me then?" That might be simpler than trying to pry for answers.

Mew looked thoughtful, tapping its tail-tip on its cheek, smooth brow furrowing slightly. "Hmm. No beating around the bush with YOU, is there? Let's see, what CAN I tell you that you don't already know? Ooh! I've got it! Did ya know about the distortion world?"

"That place is real?" Cheri asked incredulously, finally breaking out of her state of mute awe.

Mew nodded emphatically. "Yup! Although it's probably not anything like whatever you've heard."

"Care to fill me in?" Shawn asked, unfamiliar with the term.

Cheri turned towards him, a hint of uncertainty in her eyes. "It's" well" It's SUPPOSED to be a myth. My mother told me a story once, about a place where this world met another one, where Arceus fought with Darkrai, and the consequences of that battle..." she trailed off, looking at Mew for confirmation.

The pink poké mon made a face, squinting upwards at the tree tops, tail drooping slightly. "Weeellll, that's KIND of what happened. Things get a bit jumbled over the years. It's nice to hear that story hasn't been totally forgotten though!" Mew grinned, bouncing in the air a bit. "But, yeah, distortion world! It's really, really cool! And there's something in there Cyrus wants. It would be really bad if he got it. So try not to let him get in there, okay?"

"Stopping him IS what I'm here for after all," Shawn said, feeling a bit frustrated with the half answers. "Can't you give me a bit more to go on than that?"

The edges of Mew's lips curled up in an amused grin, brilliant blue eyes sparkling. "Nope! I can't get too involved, remember? I'm linked too strongly to Arceus, so even talking to you is a risk. But it's worth it. It's fun!"

"Um, sure. Fun," Shawn replied. Trying to keep things on track with Mew seemed like a lost cause. "So if this' distortion world" is his goal, what about Spear Pillar, and summoning the space and time poké mon?"

"Oh, that." Mew waved its paw dismissively. "That's all just so he can get TO distortion world. That's what he really wants, and he's not going to let anything get in his way. You have to stop him before he gets there, but not too soon before either. Otherwise everything could collapse!"

"That was kind of the plan."

"Mmmhmm!" Mew nodded, a knowing look in those expressive orbs. "I know, you've just got EVERYTHING under control, don't you?"

Cheri chuckled softly at Shawn's rueful sigh, as Mew once more got the better of him. It felt like he was being lead in circles by the nose.

"Seriously though," Mew said, waving a paw. "If I COULD step in myself, I would." Mew's face shifted briefly, with a flash of complete sobriety and almost" sadness? Mew muttered something that sounded like, "It's too bad for those three…" but he couldn't be sure. Almost immediately, the serious expression was swept away, returning to the cheerful grin. "But, you're our best shot! So don't waste it!"

"Right, no pressure," Shawn said with a wry grin.

Mew giggled. "Aww, you should be used to that by now! You've been doing this for how long now?"

Shawn snorted. "Like it gets easier. Okay then, tell me this. How directly is Darkrai involved here? Should I be expecting to run into him?"

Mew's ears twitched. "Not likely. He can't get too directly involved either. That's why we have to step lightly, or risk upsetting the balance. He IS influencing Cyrus though, and they're planning to make something that should never be made." A small smile broke through Mew's worried expression. "But, that something could be bad for Darkrai too!" The playful psychic rolled on its side in the air, covering its mouth as it giggled mischievously.

Shawn waited a moment, letting out an internal sigh of frustration as Mew seemed content to leave the statement hanging. "Well, what is it?" He hoped his frustration didn't show too much in his voice. The Powers could be touchy about manners. Of course, Mew hadn't shown the slightest hint of concern for the usual protocols.

Mew winked. "Oh, I'm sure you'll figure it out. Just remember, we have to follow the rules too! We're poké mon, and we have the same basic vulnerability. Darkrai isn't going to take risks unless he has to." The psychic shrugged. "I guess it's a risk for me to be down here too, but I don't think you'll be any trouble." The floating pink poké mon flashed him another wide grin, eyes gleaming.

Shawn couldn't resist tossing a jab of his own, even as he puzzled over the fragment of information. It was impossible not to feel at least a little at ease around Mew. "Are you sure? I'm certain Cheri could tell you how much trouble I can be…"

Mew covered its mouth, letting out another of its girlish giggles, making eye contact with Cheri and giving the Arcanine a nod. Cheri grinned back. "Oh, she already has. But you won't be THAT kind of trouble, or I wouldn't have brought you here."

Shawn raised an eyebrow at Cheri, which she either didn't notice or chose to ignore. "Oh? What's going on between those two?" Something clicked into place about Mew's statement. Poké mon. Vulnerability. Following the rules. They could be caught. Just like in the world of the games. Though, it would likely be far more difficult than that ever was. Was this' something that could overcome that difficulty?

Another thought rose to the surface. "Brought us here? Wait, so that feeling" that was you? Ever since…" He trailed off, recalling back to when he had first felt the sensation. No more than a few hours after Marek's burial.

Mew nodded. "Yup, that was me! Right after that little problem you had with that other guy." Mew's eyes suddenly widened, pink paws waving in the air as the Psychic type floated backwards a bit. "Oh! I almost forgot! He wanted me to tell you something."

"Wait, what?" Shawn exclaimed in English, unsure of what he was hearing. Mew's "forgetfulness' seemed unlikely, but that was less of a surprise than the latter part of the statement. Mew had spoken to Marek?

"Your friend." The tip of Mew's tail curled into a lazy loop, then straightened to dangle beneath the floating poké mon. "He said…" Mew's brow furrowed in concentration, as if trying to remember a minute and trifling detail. It clapped its paws together gleefully. "Oh yeah! That was it. He said he's sorry for being a coward, and that you shouldn't blame yourself. He said he's free now." Mew beamed, floating a little closer, tail-tip suddenly lashing up in a playful swipe, passing well in front of him but still making him blink. "So you can just stop moping!"

"Marek…" The oddest sensation swept through him, Mew's light-hearted taunt sliding off as he stared off into space above the twitching ears. "So" He is in Timeheart." Even though his mind had known this, the confirmation was like an outpouring of soothing water over his conscience. Relief. He would not forget, but" perhaps he could forgive his own mistake.

"So!" Mew waved at him, calling his attention back from his brief moment of introspection. "I've answered some of your questions, now it's your turn to answer one of mine!"

Shawn eyed the legendary being a little warily. "I suppose that's fair…"

Mew's expression changed, a strange gleam entering those brilliant, intelligent orbs, its mouth forming a wicked grin. "What did it feel like, the first time you two mated?"

Shawn forced his jaw closed, a familiar burning sensation creeping up along his face. "What kind of question is that?"

Mew shrugged, sticking out its tongue comically. "A simple one silly! Fine then, I'll ask her!" Mew spun, facing Cheri, the Arcanine's tail thumping madly as they made eye-contact, her tongue lolling out in a canine grin. Shawn merely stared, getting the impression he…d been discarded in favour of a more cooperative conversation partner.

He could only watch helplessly as the two conversed mentally, occasionally looking over at him with smiles that were decidedly" predatory. Cheri apparently decided demonstrating would be better, pantomiming the act of pinning him down as she hunched her hips, a blissful look on her face. He folded his arms, carefully schooling his features. No. He would NOT give them the satisfaction of showing his embarrassment!

As a distraction, he pulled out his "dex once more. No luck. The screen looked like it was experiencing either a haemorrhage or a nervous breakdown. Possibly both. Random swirls of colour floated psychedelically across it, the odd string of numbers bouncing in between. Beneath the mess, the phrase: Please remove from power node area! flashed on and off in brilliant fuchsia.

"Ah" so THAT…S it." The problem suddenly seemed simple. Mew. It had to be. The device was overloaded somehow by the presence of the legendary. Or perhaps Mew was deliberately doing this.

He sighed, pocketing the device once more and glaring back at the two poké mon, who hadn't let up in the slightest. He felt decidedly left out. "You know, I AM standing right here…" he protested.

Cheri shot him an amused smile. "We know, sweetie. And you just keep standing there looking handsome."

Mew giggled at this, adding in, "That's right! Girl talk."

Shawn raised an eyebrow. "Girl talk? I thought legendaries didn't even have a sex?"

Mew winked. "Wanna find out?"

Without waiting for an answer, Mew turned back to Cheri, making animated gestures with its' her" paws, seeming to indicate the size of something. His frustration frothed up again, though he couldn't help a mildly amused shake of his head. "Girl talk" always dangerous."

Cheri cocked her head curiously, then let out a chortling bark as Mew widened the distance between her paws considerably. "Well, that's certainly a very generous offer, but I think I like him the way he is. He does VERY well with what he has, and he…d look silly with all that!"

A cheery fire burned in his cheeks, the mortifying realization of exactly what they were talking about sinking in. "Oh god, it's worse than I thought…"

Both of them collapsed into delighted giggles at his expression of consternation, Mew pointing at him with its tail-tip. "Ha! You sure? It would be worth it to see THAT look again."

Cheri shot him a devilish smile. "It would. But I'm quite sure about this one. Trust me" he knows how to use it."

He groaned. "Can we please change the subject?" As flattering as it was"

Mew floated closer, giving him an impish smirk. "Hehe, you're right, he IS uptight! In more ways than one" Think we should give him a hand with that?" Cheri growled lustfully at this suggestion, Mew winking at him again as he let out a defeated sigh. "Okay, fine then, we'll change the subject sweetie. I believe you asked a question…" the little psychic stretched out, floating on its back toward him, legs splayed. "Does this answer it?"

A rapid shimmer rippled over Mew's lower regions, affording him an unobstructed view of a very obvious, very aroused female entrance. Mew giggled, naughtily swiping her tail between her exposed lips and flicking it in his face, making him blink as a tiny droplet of juice bounced off his nose, the scent of strawberries wafting into his nostrils.

He shifted uncomfortably, very aware of Cheri rolling on her back and laughing uproariously. "Yeah, I think that clears it up. Vividly." He would never hear the end of this, and the innuendo wasn't exactly leaving him unaffected either. Was Mew trying to work him up? "These two are partners in crime. A regular Bonnie and Clyde. Or maybe more like Laurel and Hardy…"

Mew gave him a devious look. "I happen to prefer this form. But maybe you…d like this better?" The shimmer sparkled across her groin again, leaving an impressively bulging sheath covered with short pink fuzz in its wake, coupled with a matching set of orbs. She" he" fondled them teasingly, cocking his/her/its head to the side, a brow raised mockingly. "No? Maybe this then?" The voice was deeper too, proving it to be more than just glamour.

This time, the shimmer passed across her entire body, leaving a tanned, voluptuous, busty woman, with cheery pink locks trailing down her back" and not a scrap of clothing. Ruby lips pursed in an amused smile, her azure eyes sparkling playfully as she thrust her hips suggestively in his direction, blowing him a kiss with a loud smooching sound.

Cheri sounded decidedly out of breath from her laughter. He had no choice but to stand and squirm with embarrassment as the females had their fun at his expense. Rising to the bait would only encourage them. He buried his face in hands with a sigh, shaking his head.

A rosy tail-tip tapped his shoulder, drawing his attention back to Mew, who also seemed to be having trouble getting her breath back to speak. He couldn't help but notice that she had not put back whatever decency shield she had previously worn over her groin. "Unless she only had it there to do THAT." Probable.

He gave her the most bland look he could summon, pointedly glancing at her slit, unable to stop himself. "What, you're not going to turn into a hermaphrodite?"

Mew smirked. "Well, since you asked…" the shimmer pulsed again.

He gulped, Cheri's snort of laughter not helping in the slightest. Should've known better. "No, no, it was just a joke!"

"Okay, okay…" Mew panted, still bubbling with stray chuckles. "You're so much fun to tease! And you can look alll you like…" This last was punctuated by a credible imitation of Cheri licking her lips, as she splayed her legs out carelessly.

"Glad to bring you such amusement," Shawn said dryly, choosing to ignore that last comment, along with the tightness in his boxers from the suggestive pose. Standard masculine reaction. Unavoidable. Mew already knew of course, but it felt like a victory to not let it distract him too much. "Now perhaps we can steer things in their original direction?"

"Mmm, I suppose you want some kind of magical quick fix to your problems?"

He shrugged. "It would be nice…"

Mew waved a paw at him, the action sending her floating back a few inches. "C'mon, you should know by know that things don't work that way!"

He smiled, glad to be on a topic that didn't involve the contents of his pants. "A guy can dream can't he?"

Mew chuckled softly. "Fair enough. You already know what you need to do."

He sighed. "Eventually, yes, but can you at least give me a clue about what to do NOW?"

Mew stuck her tongue out. "Easy. First your mate, then me!"

Shawn groaned at the joke, even as Cheri let out a rumble of appreciation, taking a half step toward him to enact that very scenario, before Mew forestalled her with a gesture, grinning. "No, no, seriously. I DO have something you might be interested in."

He waited, but evidently he would once again have to ask. He stifled a sigh. Trying to get info out of Mew was like beating an apple tree with a fly swatter. "And that would be…"

Mew's smile broadened. "How do you feel about Snowpoint?"

He let out a low whistle, a bit taken aback. "Snowpoint? That's miles away!"

Mew gave him a "no kidding" look. "Don't worry about that. You don't have to be there tomorrow, and I can take you part of the way." She looked wistful for a moment. "It's been ages since I've traveled up there too! I wonder how Uxie is doing?"

"Uxie?" Shawn wondered briefly, but decided to forgo asking in favour of pursuing the more pertinent information. "And what would I be doing in Snowpoint?"

Mew folded her paws over her chest, reclining in the air. "Well, there's this temple there" I'm not able to tell you much, but if you go there, you may be able to get some help."

"Help? What kind of help?"

"The kind of help I can't give you."

Stonewalled again. "So, you want us to go traipsing off to Snowpoint, to this temple, without any idea of what we're looking for?"

Mew stuck out her tongue. "Pretty much, yeah! And I'm not TELLING you to go there, I'm suggesting it. You DO have the choice not to go, but I strongly encourage it. I know you'll figure it out, smart boy!"

Cheri grinned. "Of course he will. With my help."

Mew beamed at her, snickering. "True, he needs the female perspective to overcome his male density." She bounced in the air, seeming not so much to levitate, as to simply ignore gravity.

Shawn chose not to justify the jibe with a retort. "Why only part of the way? Can't you just teleport us straight there?"

"Mmm, nope! That would attract too much attention. Darkrai can sense my movements, so he'll wonder why that place is important."

"In that case, isn't even coming here a risk?"

Mew shrugged. "Well, yeah, but only a small one. And it's worth it!" She twirled again, not appearing concerned about whatever consequences there may be for her "fun". Of course, any kind of window into Mew's thoughts was effectively boarded over by her seemingly flippant demeanour. Mew hovered back and forth, looking a little contemplative. "This place" it's kind of special ya know. Shaymin and Celebi have always taken a special interest in this forest, and it's" protected" in a way."

"Protected? How?" Cheri asked.

Mew tapped her cheek with her tail. "There's a big rock somewhere in the middle, it has a heavy concentration of their combined powers. Eevees can use it to evolve. But it also makes it hard for Darkrai to see in. He…d have to come in here himself, and he HATES doing that." She giggled at that, as if it were a kind of private joke. "ANYway, our conversation is pretty much safe, but I can't take you too close to Snowpoint. He'll be watching for where we leave to."

Shawn snorted, shaking his head. "From the sounds of it, you're going to take us as far from Snowpoint as possible."

Mew giggled, her tail reaching forward and patting him on the shoulder. "No silly! That would be just as bad! He…d think of that, you see. He…d think that either where we were was important, or that if it wasn't, we were trying to throw him off track! So naturally if we're as far away as possible from Snowpoint, he…d eventually figure out why. BEFORE you got there. No, somewhere right in between is best. By the time he realizes where you're going and why, it won't matter then, and he won't be able to do much about it."

"Well, great, but all this still doesn't tell me WHY you want me to go there," Shawn said, feeling annoyance brewing again.

"Nope! Can't tell you that!" Mew said in a sing-song voice.

"I thought this place was protected?" Now it was simply confusing. Mew's statements seemed contradictory.

Mew frowned, sobering a little. "I said it's PRETTY MUCH safe. I still need to watch what I say. He has ways of finding out these things. There's a reason your mate calls him Dream Stealer. If he thinks I've broken the rules' well, our current problems will seem small." She brightened again, waving her paws in the air. "But enough about that! Ya just have to trust me! If you do it right, going to Snowpoint will be a good idea."

Shawn sighed, accepting the answer as all he would get out of Mew. "Okay" let's suppose I do this. You'll take us partway there, right? But what's the catch?"

Mew's eyes sparkled, an impish grin crossing her muzzle. "Catch? What makes you think there's a catch?"

He grunted a half laugh, folding his arms. "You're joking, right? When is there NOT a catch when one of you agrees to do something."

Mew snickered, whizzing around him in a blurringly fast circle, Cheri's head whipping to follow, before she came to a stop in front of him once more, hovering inches away. "Hehe, ya caught me. There IS one small thing."

Shawn resisted the urge to roll his eyes, preparing himself for the worst. "Well, what is it going to be? Prevent the sun from exploding? Dive to the bottom of the ocean and fight some hideous monster? A kidney?"

Mew laughed again, smacking him in the chest with a paw. "Aww, don't be like that! It's nothing bad, I promise!" She met his eyes, the vivid orbs suddenly taking on a markedly different light, her voice lowering in pitch to a sensuous purr. "All I want from you" is to watch!"

Shawn blinked, a bit puzzled by the statement. "Watch what?"

Mew floated back a foot or two, grinning wildly. "Why, you two of course! I wanna watch you do it from up close!" She snickered, her grin taking on a decidedly different quality. "And maybe MORE than just watch. Mind if I join in?" She turned to Cheri, a knowing look hiding underneath the question.

Shawn felt heat rising to his face, only a little surprised. Of course. With all her talk about mating and how much she enjoyed watching, he should have known. Not to mention the constant baiting. Cheri giggled, shooting him a smoky look, her voice nearly purring. "Oh no, I don't mind at all" I…d be honoured to share him with you."

"Good! So it's settled then!" Mew cried, clapping her paws together with a wink at him. His mouth snapped closed on a protest. Cheri's agreement was enough. They were committed now, the bargain had been struck. Like it or not, they were going on a little trip, to the far northern reaches of Sinnoh. "I suppose I did ask what to do next…" At least shields had climate control"

Mew turned around, waving her tail in the air, a glow building up around her. "Just give me one sec" gotta set a decoy, and fix up their records so they don't miss ya." Shawn glanced down at Cheri, who met his eyes with a cheeky grin. He returned the gesture, feeling a little resigned, but not overly aggrieved. It was only once, and she wanted this! "I guess she's going to get her wish." Well, one of them at least.

"Ah well. Could be worse!" Mew hadn't been misleading, it was not a difficult form of "payment". It DID rankle to be talked about like he were some kind of toy though! And could he really just have sex with one of the Powers that Be? Apparently so. She had taken great joy in demonstrating just how" physical" she was.

"Okay! All set!" Mew chirped, spinning around in a swirl of tiny sparkles. "Here we go!" She waved a paw, and the world abruptly" flushed itself down a drain?

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