The stars and the moon competed for attention in the sky, but both faded away to the nighttime fog. The nighttime lights mixed with the mist on the ground and washed the dirt road in wispy phantasms. To the left was a field of tall grass no more than a foot high. In the calm night, the wind didn't blow. The blades were still. To the right was more of the field, but in the distance, there were flitting lights in a small circle.
Darkrai floated listlessly over the dirt road. The ghostly plume of fog that radiated off of his head blended into the haze that surrounded him and the rest faded into the nighttime gloom. The most prominent feature of him tonight was his single, blue eye, the other one long lost to some ancient battle. He stopped to admire the glimmering lights. His heart sank. The wound in his broken eye ached.
You know, a voice said, you can go there, now.
He closed his eye. I do not believe I should, he replied.
Lodged in the middle of Darkrai's chest was a pink gem vaguely in the shape of a crescent moon. It glimmered dimly, barely visible against the fog.
Just not used to it yet, are you?
How could I be? I don't even know what happened.
He held his chest, tracing the gem with his pointer claw. He shut his eye again; his heart ached, and hot tears threatened to burst forth. But he pushed it all away.
You can't hide that from me anymore, Ray. Let it out.
Darkrai continued across the dirt road. His claw absently traced at the edges of his gem. It was tender. It had been weeks, yet he could still feel the phantom pain of a burning bruise. "Crystal," he mumbled.
Hm? What is it, Ray?
I still… remember how you felt.
Oh, this again? Crystal sighed. Ray, please. I'm right here. You needn't think such things.
Ray floated listlessly through the fields, drawn to the town again. When he realized how far he'd strayed, blades of grass brushing against his cape-like lower half, he flinched and flew two paces back. "No—" he said. "I… I must keep away."
Ray, it won't happen again. It never will. Not with me by your side.
But how do you know?
I know because I won't let it happen. Now, go.
Darkrai stared at his claws, clenching his fists. He knew that Crystal had no way to help him. It was just an empty promise that things would be alright. But he had to listen. How could he deny her? He had no better alternative than to wander for eternity. What was one more risk?
"Of course," he said, and then looked down at the gem in his chest. "Crystal…"
Just be kind. They will understand.
Darkrai had his doubts. With an uncertain stare, he floated toward the flickering lights of the town. His heart was all he could hear.
It took no time at all for a shriek to echo from the very edge of those lights. Darkrai winced, immediately covering his eye. He knew that its glow was what set them off. He turned back. This was a mistake. He should have just isolated himself as he always did. What're another few centuries in the dark? Soon they'll forget me anyway. That's fine.
No. Keep going.
I cannot. I'm terrifying them.
It isn't fair to any of us. Keep going.
But, I… He shook his head. He had no means to protest against her. With what little nerve he had left, he turned back toward the village.
Pokémon scattered in all directions, black silhouettes flailing in front of dim flames on the walls. They fled their homes and ran further into town. Torchlight flickered, but there were no Pokémon left to manage the flames. They burned alone.
The screams faded.
Ray stared at the ground. "It's as I predicted," he said. "I should never have come. I—" He stopped. There was still someone nearby. It was a weak presence, but he could still feel it. "Hello?"
He floated to a building to his right. Yes, there was a life force there. It was a bit weak, but certainly not fading. But why did this one not run like the others? Curiosity getting the better of him, he pressed his hand against the doorway. It complained with a creak but otherwise opened without resistance.
It was a simple hut of clay with the basic amenities: a small stove of rocks in the corner, recently put out; a simple table and some stools in the middle of the room with a small bowl of water in the middle; and a few cupboards, one left partially open with an Oran caught in the cabinet handle. Darkrai floated toward the cabinet, careful not to disturb anything, and pressed the berry back inside, shutting it silently.
Something shuffled behind him. He turned around.
"Ahh," Darkrai lowered his head and floated closer to the ground to look smaller.
It was a frail-looking Liepard, barely able to walk. Darkrai recognized the signs of age and time-something he personally did not have to deal with-plaguing her body. Her legs shook like leaves. She hobbled toward the doorway frantically, but her body didn't cooperate. She collapsed with a whimper and Darkrai instantly approached, almost dragging himself against the ground to get to her level.
"Are you okay?" he asked.
The Liepard stared at Darkrai with wide, tired eyes. "No," she said in a whisper.
"I'll help you. What do you need? Where is your family?" He held out a hand. Liepard stared at it, paralyzed. "It's okay. I—"
A shockwave followed by searing pain crashed into Darkrai's side. He grunted and pulled away, turning to the source. He saw another Liepard—fit and much larger—glaring at him from the entrance. "Get away from her!" he hissed.
He rushed at Darkrai, fangs bared. The weaker one hobbled out of the house and down the road. Liepard watched her go but kept one eye on Darkrai.
Ray's heart thrashed against his chest. He felt the darkness rising up. The force that bubbled within his chest, inherent to his natural abilities. No, stay down, stay down…! Darkrai said desperately.
"I'll kill you right here," Liepard said, hissing. "You'll never torment this village again."
Liepard crossed the room in one leap, darkness enveloping his paws. Darkrai couldn't hold it in anymore. A black aura emanated from his entire being, swallowing everything inside the house in a void. Liepard screamed, but it died away into a whimpering moan. They both went blind.
The void dissipated.
Darkrai covered his face. "No—no, not again—" he said. "No…!"
The Liepard was on the ground, trapped in a deep slumber. The old Liepard outside screamed in anguish, knowing what had just happened. Liepard was trapped in the Dark Void, tormented by nightmares that would never end until their final breath.
"No… no…! NO!" Darkrai screamed. He descended upon the Liepard, grabbing him by the shoulders, shaking him violently. "Wake up! Wake up!" he begged. "I SAID WAKE UP!"
In his frustration, he tossed Liepard across the room where he rolled on the dirt roughly, yet he did not rise. He shook his head, trying to apologize, but the words didn't come out. It wasn't as if he would be able to hear it.
Crystal… help… you always woke them up… you always… you always… no, you're gone, you can't…!
He heard a distinct buzzing outside. His entire body froze in place. He couldn't hear Crystal anymore, either. He couldn't concentrate enough to hear her voice.
The dark night suddenly became darker. Black fog washed across the ground. More screams filled the village, of those few who remained behind. Darkrai, without thinking, floated out of the building.
"Tzz, tzz, tzz," the newcomer chuckled. "Where has he gone, where has he gone? Ahh, I sense him, I sense him!"
Darkrai's eye followed the source of the darkness, identical to the source of the noise. A strange creature with two large, needle-shaped arms, and two more that were shaped like stingers to add to the large stinger that his kind normally had. A Beedrill—some mutated, supersized sort, unhinged. Darkrai heard of such legends—a Mega Evolution. Yet, such a form was tainted this time. Dark clouds oozed out of its exoskeleton from cracks that hissed with darkness that somehow made the night shine by comparison.
"There you are, my prey."
Beedrill buzzed another corrupted, twisted laugh. Plumes of dark fog fell out of his mandibles.
"The lunar one tasted so sweet," he said, buzzing closer. "But what does such a dark entity like you taste like? Do you bleed? Does your blood run dark? Or is it red… just… like… hers? Ohh, such a shame that you took her away from me so soon. How did you do it? She cast her light toward you… and her breath faded before I could take it from her. Lunar Dance, was it? One last desperate attempt to save you with her own life. And then you took it! You took her spirit.
"I want it. I want to hear her die again! I know you have her! Give her to me!"
Darkrai's arms twitched. He readied his Dark Void—if anybody deserved an eternal nightmare, it was this murderer. But he was too slow. In that single movement, Beedrill was right in front of him. His arm's tip plunged into Darkrai's abdomen.
Darkrai shouted and tried to grab Beedrill. He moved out of the way too quickly, pulling his arm from his torso. Blood—indeed, it was red—gushed from Darkrai. He clutched at his belly and fell forward, barely able to keep afloat.
Beedrill laughed. "Perfect! PERFECT!" he said. "Yes, yes… oh, watching the life drain out of you… it is perfect… Vessel of the Lunar Spirit…" His arms both pointed forward. He accelerated again, going for the head this time. "Your life belongs to ME!"
For a second, the world stood still. Darkrai's mind was fading. Crystal… I'm sorry… he said.
Ray… no. Don't apologize. I'm glad… that I can still be with you. Even now. But…
The needle was mere inches from Ray's skull.
A blinding, white light enveloped Darkrai. The needle bounced off of his body harmlessly; the reactive force sent Beedrill tumbling backward, disoriented.
"What?!" Beedrill said. He hissed, covering his compound eyes. "So bright!"
Pink sparks danced around the white light, coursing through the ground. Every dark cloud that it touched evaporated away in an instant. Beedrill flew further away to avoid the sparks, but just a single one licked one of his stingers. He screeched, like he'd been splashed with acid.
Ribbons of pink enveloped whatever it was that was transforming inside the light. Darkrai could see nothing but pink, no matter whether his eye was open or closed. Power poured through him. His wound closed; warmth filled his chest. His head felt hot, like it was ablaze with cleansing fire.
The light around Darkrai vanished in a single pulse, leaving behind nothing but his radiant, new form.
His arms hung listlessly beside him, as if still resigned in some blissful peace. The fog that enveloped his face, once white, was now golden. His back was a gentle turquoise, as was the cape-like bottom of his body, outlined in pink. A crescent-shaped, pink bow wrapped around his back, and two more went from his shoulders to his wrists.
His left eye was blue. His right eye, returned to him, was pink. The gem in his chest glowed bright in its new shape: A pink crescent partially enveloping a black gem, forming a circle.
Darkrai raised his head, staring at the corrupted Beedrill. Crystal… are you there?
But he did not hear her. He could feel her. Her presence was stronger than ever before. He did not need to hear her. He felt her will. He felt her thoughts. He felt her power.
"N-no matter! Not a trouble at all!" Beedrill declared. "I can still kill you… just like… THIS!"
It was the same move as before, a rapid step toward Darkrai. He held his hand out, creating a barrier of light in an instant. Beedrill bounced off, grunting.
"By the cleansing power of the moon," Darkrai said, raising his other hand in the air. Pink light gathered above it. "May your spirit find peace…"
Beedrill screeched, spun around, and fled, darkness clouding his form. His exoskeleton pulled apart even more, spewing the corrupting fog onto the village.
Darkrai fired. The pink light tore through the fog Beedrill emanated, eating away at it like it was nothing but bubbles. Beedrill rolled through the air, dodging the pink ball.
Ray flicked his hand back and the light followed Beedrill. This time, he couldn't dodge. The light touched his back and that was all that was needed. He screeched, more of those pink sparks dancing across his body. Plumes of darkness billowed out and evaporated, purged from his body. The corrupted Beedrill descended to the ground, barely able to fly. By the time he returned to the earth, his wings barely moved, but the clouds, too, were gone.
Darkrai's radiant form lit up the night. In that flash, he saw the outline of the elderly Liepard, staring at him in awe. He turned his attention to the motionless Beedrill, ready for the next onslaught. The bug was moving again, but in the fading light, it seemed that he was no longer in his Mega form.
"Ungh," Beedrill moaned. "What… what happened? Where'd the sun go?"
Darkrai watched for a while. More light circled around his claws and he floated ever closer to the Beedrill, hatred bubbling up in his chest. Darkness enveloped his claws where light once shined. Yes. He deserved the void. If there was anybody who deserved that fate, it'd be them.
The darkness crackled across his claws, but they never jumped off. They flickered and faded. Golden light took over in the form of a soft glow. A little thought in the back of his mind told him to back away. To take a second look. And so, he did. And he just saw a Beedrill, nothing more, dazed and confused and tired. It wasn't the same thing that had fought him.
He was possessed, he thought. But from what?
He heard another moan to his right, echoing from the building he'd trespassed upon. His thoughts about Beedrill evaporated. Liepard!
Darkrai rushed into the home and mumbled to himself. "Lunar light, cleanse his spirit—" A gentle, pink glow enveloped Liepard. His moans rapidly subsided. Eyes flickered open.
"Huh?" he said. "What?" He jumped at the sight of Darkrai. "Cresselia!" he said, squinting.
Ray imagined that the Liepard's vision was blurry. The golden light he gave off, and the pink of his ribbons, must have been all that he could discern.
"You—you saved me! But—wait… you look… different than the pictures." He squinted a bit more, as if trying to clear his vision.
"I—" Darkrai hesitated. "I am… I am Darkrai."
"Cresselia is… part of me, now," Darkrai said. He looked down at his chest, pointing to the crystal. "She and I are both here. But… but now, I can use her power to… undo what I am capable of. Undo my horrible power…"
"Your… horrible power," Liepard said. "You… you hate it?"
"Absolutely," Darkrai said. "I want nothing to do with it."
"Oh." Liepard looked down. "I… I was dreaming that—"
"And it was just a dream," Darkrai said. "A dream washed away. There is no need to remember it." He looked back at the elderly Liepard peering inside.
Darkrai suddenly clutched at the gem in his chest. "Ogh." He winced. "It's tight…" Darkness wrapped around his body. In another second, it faded, and Darkrai was back to his usual form, with a crescent moon glowing in his chest. With the tension gone, the Pokémon of nightmares looked back at the larger, male Liepard.
The feline tensed.
Darkrai held his hands up in an attempt to prevent another clash. "I—I'll go," he said.
"No," Liepard said. "I… I'll vouch for you. To the others. Just wait here, okay?"
He stepped outside, giving him a nod, and left.
Darkrai stared dumbly, arms to his side. He sank against the wall, breathing steadily. He felt his abdomen—where he had been stabbed. It still felt bruised… but the wound was gone completely.
Ray, Cresselia said.
Darkrai gasped. I—I felt you! I felt as if…
You were wonderful, she said. I don't know how it happened… but you were wonderful. I saw it all. I felt it all… Ray. Think of how much we can do with this…
Darkrai covered his eyes, sniffling. He nodded.
Darkrai sniffed. What?
That darkness… from Beedrill. What…?
I don't know, Ray said. He rose up, gathering his composure. But I think it was after you, Crystal. Whoever made that darkness… needs to be stopped. Think of how many other Pokémon might be corrupted by it.
Of course, Cresselia said. We will seek it out, won't we? And purify them all, just like Beedrill.
Darkrai held his chest thoughtfully. He nodded. By the cleansing power of the moon, he said.
Cresselia giggled. Ray, she said, it's 'By the moon's cleansing light.' Not 'Power of the moon.'
O-oh. Is that it? He rubbed his hands nervously. I'll—I'll get better.
I'm sure you will.
Darkrai floated into the dark streets. He saw the villagers returning with apprehensive smiles led by the heroic Liepard from before. He explained to them what happened, and the villagers all gave him awkward nods and waves. As uneasy as the reception was, Darkrai held his chest, claws accidentally tapping on the gem. It glowed in response and warmth radiated through him.
Liepard pawed awkwardly at the ground. The villagers were hesitant to approach, but compared to the screaming of before, it was a substantial improvement.
Look at their smiles, Crystal said. They don't know what to think. You're terrifying. But your body language is so docile. I know that feeling, what it's like to look at a creature like you.
Ray looked down guiltily.
But Crystal went on. It's like when we first met.
And for a single, fleeting instant, Darkrai felt at home.
Thank you for reading! This piece was written as part of a gift exchange with a specific prompt. It had to contain a pairing of some kind (So, Darkrai and Cresselia) and had to be an homage, parody, or representation of the Magical Girl genre. I'm not sure what this counts as, but it definitely included it. I hope you enjoyed the ride!