Broken Expectations


Celebi. In front of him was Celebi. The great messenger of time. Prophet of doom and fortune. Struck down as if little more than prey.

Fear struck at Nip's chest like burning claws. His fur bristled, but he couldn't look away from the horrifying scene. He felt Shimmer push past him, bumping against his side as she hurried towards Celebi, healing energy already at her fingertips. He paid her little mind, his eyes still stuck on Celebi. Were they breathing? Were they alive? What could do something like this to a god?

It seemed the villagers had similar questions. Around him, he heard hushed whispers, uncertain mumbles, and panicked mumblings. He ignored them, the blood pounding in his ears drowning out their sound.

Oh Yveltal, he silently prayed. What could do such a horrible thing?

"Out of the way!"

A yowl, louder than any other voice, finally cut through the fog of panic.

His head held high, Jhorlo carefully picked his way through the crowd, each pawstep careful. He did not look at any of the gathered pokemon, keeping his gaze forward as the two purrloin moved ahead of him in sync, clearing onlookers out of his path. Near Muse, he came to a stop, staring down at the Celebi with an unreadable expression.

"What happened?" He asked Lecha, his voice silky smooth. "Has anyone seen what did this?"

"Don't bother me right now," Lecha snapped, her voice uncharacteristically sharp. "I need focus if you want me to save the fallen god. Twi! Prep a rawst and sitrus poultice. Shimmer, keep using that healing pulse. We need to stabilize him before we can move him."

Jhorlo stared a moment longer, his eyes narrowed to slits. For a heartbeat, Nip thought he might strike Lecha for daring to talk to him like that. But instead, he turned back to the crowd, raising his voice.

"Pokemon of Theran Village. Please return to your daily routine, if you would. Standing around gawking will help no one. Allow Lecha to do her work, and then perhaps when she is done we will get our answers."

A few pokemon quieted to anxious mutters, fidgeting and glancing between the felled god and the mayor. They seemed like they didn't want to leave, and Nip couldn't blame them.

Jhorlo cleared his throat and spoke again, his voice dropping into the slightest of growls. "That was an order from your mayor. You all have work to do, and waiting here helps no one. For the sake of the village, and all the pokemon who live here, return to your work. Or at least return to your homes and stop crowding the square. If something important changes, we will summon you all, understand?"

Reluctantly, a few of the pokemon began leaving, casting glances over their shoulders. Ruffle returned to her berry stand — or what was left of it — and heaved a sigh before beginning to inspect the wreckage for anything salvageable. From the back of the crowd, Chip approached her and began to speak in a low voice before raising a paw and waving in Nip's general direction.

"Haru, Muse, Nip! Why don't you three come over here and help sort this mess out."

Nip suppressed a wince, trying to ignore the tiredness in his limbs. Muse turned and began to walk towards the bibarel, and Nip looked over his shoulder back at Celebi. Anu was there now, having brought a sturdy wooden board to place Celebi on, in hopes of safely transporting them into Lecha's hut. Reluctantly, he turned his attention back to the ruined stand.

"Can you believe it?" Chip said when they drew close, keeping his voice low. "Celebi. Here. In our lifetime. When was the last time anyone heard of gods just appearing?"

"Did you call us over to gossip?" Haru grumbled. Nip shot a glance out of the corner of his eye. Despite her tone, her expression betrayed stormy feelings, surprising Nip. The way she had talked before, he was surprised she'd feel anything about the appearance of a god among them.

"Right. Sorry," Chip mumbled. "Anyways, I figured we could clean up while, well, while we wait. Y'know? Be good neighbors and all. Figured Nip could help, too. Doubt there would be any point in returning to what he was doing right now, right?"

"That's quite fine, I think," Muse said. She turned her head to look towards the medic hut. Shimmer was just disappearing through the entrance. She kneaded the ground anxiously before returning her attention to the small gathering. "I believe Whisper would be fine with that arrangement. I… don't want to go too far away, myself."

Sensing that he would not get out of more manual labor, Nip sighed and began to pick over the splintered bits of wood. He, Haru, and Chip spent some time in silence, gathering pieces up and into a neat pile. At some point, Toshi joined them, taking one quick look before falling in order. Muse kept her eye on Nip, occasionally casting glances back to the hut. Ruffle worked her away around the group, gathering the smashed berries and inspecting them to see if anything was salvageable. At some point, her mate joined her and began helping, consoling the shaken Ruffle. But her eyes, too, betrayed troubled thoughts. Was she upset about the berry stand? Celebi? Or perhaps something else entirely.

"Do you think Celebi is here for a reason, Dad?"

Toshi's voice shook Nip out of his thoughts. The younger bidoof had sat down for a minute and was currently working at a splinter that had managed to lodge itself in his paw. Chip bent down to sniff at the paw, before reaching down to carefully pull the woodchip loose. When he stood back up, he sighed.

"I don't know," the bibarel admitted. "Your Grandpa Catkin might would'a known. He studied the legends in the area, back in his youth. But I'm afraid I only ever really memorized the stories about old 'Gigas."

"Celebi always shows up for a reason. If he's here, and in that condition, it can only mean trouble for all of us." The words were out of Nip's mouth before he even realized it. Six pairs of eyes were on him before he even finished talking.

"Do you know something about Celebi?" Toshi asked. Haru scoffed and continued to work, though Nip didn't miss the curious glance she shot his way.

"Why wouldn't I?" Nip replied. "Celebi may be one of the lesser gods, but he's the emissary of Dialga, ruler of time. Even after the gods all vanished, Celebi still appeared to mortals from time to time, often in times of great change, or great peril, to offer a choice or to offer a warning. If he's here..." He paused, letting his words hang in the air, "then it means that something will happen that could alter the history of the world."

His words were met with silence and stares, no one moving as the weight of his words sank in. At least, until Haru let out a huff and continued to work. "You can't really believe that, can you? First off, that's assuming that someone like Celebi has our best interest at heart. And second, even if that were true — which I highly doubt — why would he come here, to a frontier village, to say something?"

"Why not?" Nip countered. "It means that this, here—" he swept his paw out, gesturing to the area around him "—is where the trouble will be. Or else there's someone here that can change it."

"You sure know a lot about these things," Chip said. "Did you study these sort of things?"

"Sort of." Nip scowled. "Not by my choice. But I guess the knowledge has come in handy. And… it is rather interesting, I suppose."

Haru paused to squint at him, but pointedly turned her back and said nothing more.

Muse was the next one to break the silence. "I just hope Shimmer is okay," she mumbled. "I should be in there watching over her. She still hasn't fully recovered from the mind reading accident. What if something goes wrong? What if she gets hurt?" Her paws worked at the ground as she glanced between Nip and the medic hut.

Before she could fret further, Toshi stepped up and comfortingly pressed up against her leg. "Come on, Muse. It's Shimmer. When have you ever known her to let something like that get her down? She'll be fine."

Muse glanced down at the bidoof, her fur still ruffled, but his words seemed to make her relax slightly. She sat down, taking a deep breath. "You… you're right. I shouldn't worry so much. Thank you, Toshi. It seems my fears were unfounded anyways. Look."

She tilted her head up, gesturing with her nose to the medic hut, where Shimmer was emerging. The kirlia turned her head back and forth for a moment, then made eye-contact with Muse and crossed the square. Her expression was tired and serious. But as far as Nip could tell, she was fine. And before she had slowed to a stop, she was already speaking.

"Celebi has awoken. Muse, I need you to get my dad, please."

Muse stood up. "Jhorlo? Now? But what about—"

"Nip can come with me," she said. "The others too, if they want. But… well, Celebi looks ready to talk. And we shouldn't keep him waiting."

Hesitating a heartbeat longer, Muse let out a grunt before turning to run off in the direction she'd seen Jhorlo go. Shimmer gestured for Nip and the others to follow her in the opposite direction.

Nip's heart skipped a beat as he stood up a bit straighter. He was about to be an audience to a god. The messenger of one of the greats, at that. His shoulders tensed as he thought about what he should say. Was there anything he could say to a god? Was it even appropriate for mortals like him or any of the others to be there?

He stole a glance at Haru and narrowed his eyes. Her expression was serious, and she began to move ahead of Shimmer. Was she going, too? What business did she have meeting with a god when she'd done nothing but decry them? Would she say something? Do something to put them in bad favor with Celebi? He flexed his claws without thinking. As he followed Shimmer, he just had to hope that Haru's presence wouldn't ruin everything.


The inside of the medic hut was exactly as Nip remembered. The same clean environment. The same pungent smell of berries. Just as he remembered it.

But one thing was off now; a god flitted about the room, floating unsteadily and mumbling under his breath. But as Celebi heard the sound of approaching pokemon, he stopped in place and slowly raised his head to stare. His pupils shrank as he looked all of them over, and a tense silence hung in the air as everyone waited breathlessly for him to speak.

"Wow, tough crowd. You'd think that none of ya had seen me before. Oh, wait."

There was a bright flash, and suddenly Celebi was gone. Before he could process the teleportation, Nip felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned his head, then sprang backward, hissing with fur bristling, as he found himself face to face with the little god.

"But that's alright, you mortals are always speechless when you meet me." Celebi giglged, then floated back into the air. "It's good to see your village doing so well. Looks like the rebuilding efforts went great!"

Shimmer blinked. "Wait, what?"

Celebi turned away, looking at Haru. He stared at her for an uncomfortably long time before flashing a grin. "Oh, I thought for sure you were a bibarel. Saku, right? Well, congrats on finding yourself a mate. I'm sure the kids will be lovely."

"E-excuse me?" Haru stammered. "I'm not Saku, you got me mixed up for my mom." She paused for a second. "Wait, how do you know Mom?"

But Celebi did not answer. Instead, he raised up into the air, so that he was hovering over the entire group again. "You guys are gonna be the talk of the world soon enough, you know that? Dialga has taken great interest in the events that have transpired here. Or will transpire? I don't remember. Maybe I hit my head too hard? I dunno. It's all relative to the moment. But I'm here for a reason. And, well, I might as well deliver it to you all. Time stops for no one after all! Not even me!"

Nip felt frozen in place. This was Celebi, messenger of Dialga. A powerful god for all to revere. But he was behaving so… childishly? Scatterbrained, maybe? Nip struggled to follow his leaps in logic. And from the looks of the other pokemon, they were equally lost.

Hoping for answers, he took a deep breath and stepped forward. "Celebi, you say you have a message for us. Please tell us, so that we might understand Dialga's will!"

He heard Haru huff behind him and suppressed a wince. How could she dare show such disrespect, when a god had shown himself here, physically in front of her, proving her wrong? Even if both his sudden appearance and personality were… disconcerting, did she dare risk being smitten?

Celebi, too, noticed her sound. With another flash of light, he disappeared and reappeared, lounging on the floor beside her.

"What? Enamored by my power, little bidoof?"

Haru squeaked and stumbled backward. "A-as if I would ever want anything to do with the likes of you! You come in here acting like you're something special, but you're just mocking us!"

Celebi placed a hand to his chest, a mock wounded expression crossing his face. "Oh, I'm hurt Haru. Hurt!" Another flash and he was on her other side. His voice dropped into a low tone as he slung one arm behind her neck, speaking directly into her ear. "You best watch yourself, dear. Not all of us take well to insults. If you stood before the great Dialga, you'd be nothing more than a sad little pile of bidoof ash."

In response, Haru growled, but before she could say anything more Celebi looped around to face everyone again. "Ah, if I knew how rude you guys would be, I never woulda agreed to warning you all. But a deals a deal, and I supoooose I should do my job."

The light flashed again, and Celebi was gone. Nip whipped around, ears swiveling as he tried to pinpoint where Celebi had disappeared to.

"Where did-" Toshi cut off as a commotion sounded from outside.

"Citizens of Theran Village, gather to me!" Nip startled at the sound of Celebi's voice. It came from far away, but was abnormally loud, booming loud enough to still be heard clearly.

Shimmer turned back towards the doorway. "Come on!" She urged before rushing out. Toshi and Haru stumbled after her. Nip followed at a slower, more cautious pace, his gut twisting with apprehension. Lecha followed slower still, bringing up the rear as they exited the building.

A small group of pokemon that had remained in the square after Jhorlo's dismissal was gathered now at the center. Celebi hovered unsteadily above them, his hands raised high as if performing some sort of ritual motion to make his voice louder.

Ruffle was there, as was Roselei. Whisper and Anu stood just in front of the group, the hawlucha placing her claws on her mate's shoulder as a sign of comfort. A few other pokemon that Nip recognized were also there. And from the north, Muse was rushing back. Jaques, Lotte, and Jhorlo followed just behind.

"Great Celebi," Anu said, lowering his paws to his side with palms facing outward. "You, voice of the forest, messenger to Dialga, the keeper of time-"

"Yeah yeah, I love the praises and all. Go on, tell me more." Celebi's voice had returned to normal, no longer thundering across the square.

Anu blinked and sucked in a breath, but with a sudden jerk, Celebi dipped downwards to place a finger to his muzzle.

"Shhh. Shhhh. Shhhhhhhhhhh. I was kidding. Come on. I may have all day but you don't. My life is eternal. Yours is a fleeting speck of dust."

The lucario stared, but stayed silent. Good, Nip thought. At least someone in this village knows how to be respectful. But the respect did little to put his heart at ease. The way Celebi was behaving. None of it lined up with the stories he'd been told as a child. Celebi was supposed to be calm. Elegent. Perhaps a bit emotionless. But the god that he saw in front of him was anything but.

Celebi held his position for just a few seconds longer, before returning to his original position. "Now, as you were saying?"

"Right…" Anu brought a paw to just below his chest spike. "I, Anu, ask of you, what brings you to our quaint village?"

For just a heartbeat, there was a mischievous gleam in Celebi's eyes. When he spoke, it was once again in the cacophonous voice that made Nip's ears ring. "I have been sent here with a message… of doom!"

A few pokemon gasped. Nip's fur began to bristle, and he could see even Anu's tail starting to dip like he wanted to tuck it between his legs. But a squeeze on the shoulder from Whisper made the Lucario hold strong.

Celebi let his words hang for a little longer, then continued back in his normal voice. "Although… I don't actually know what time I ended up in. Maybe the doom already happened. I dunno. Then it would make this point all moot. Let me think. Was anyone supposed to die? The square does seem to be in mostly good shape. Hm…" He pointed at someone near the front. Nip stood up on the tips of his toes and could see he was gesturing to Vale. "I don't remember seeing you so… either I'm just in time or way wayyyy too late."

"E-excuse me?" Vale stuttered. Static made his fur fluff up. Then he growled, eyes blazing with anger. Roselei stepped in front of him before he could do anything rash, though.

Celebi returned to his echoed voice. "Okay, okay, here's what we'll do. Stop me if you've heard this one before. A bunch of strange pokemon show up, cause chaos, and then a bunch of pokemon die. Sound familiar?"

"Some of it does," Vale growled, turning away from Celebi now. He began to stalk towards Nip. Alarm seized the sneasel's chest, and he stumbled backward.

"Is more death coming, Celebi?" Vale growled. "Just say the word. Say it, and I'll rip his throat out."Sparks danced at the manectrics jaws. Those snapping jaws that could crunch bone and snap necks and rip flesh. Nip's breath came shallow.

"Vale!" Whisper snapped, stepping away from her mate. "We don't have time for this. Stand. Down."

"But you heard him," Vale argued. "More death is coming."

"That's an order, Vale. Think. We haven't heard the whole story yet."

"No no, go on," Celebi said. "I wanna see a fight. It should be interesting."

A vine reached up to brush Vale's side. Roselei walked up to stand beside him. "Just a moment ago, you were ready to round on Celebi himself. Calm down, Vale. Let us hear the whole story, first."

The manectric growled, his lips curled into a nasty snarl, and for a heartbeat, it looked as if he might spring on Roselei. But the roserade kept her composure, and finally he backed down, pointedly turning his back on Nip.

"Aww, I was looking forward to that," Celebi whined. "But I know how it would have turned out anyway. Or probably, at least. I only saw one of you two. Maybe you just went and changed history. But no. He's not one of the strange pokemon I was talking about. Trust me, you'll know them when you see them."

Nip's heartbeat slowed and his breathing began returning to normal. But the apprehensive feeling in his gut remained. He brought his claws up in front of him, staring at his palms, only distantly listening to Celebi now.

"Anyways, I should wrap this up or something. So I'll just say this. Trouble is coming. Biiiig trouble. Trouble that will affect the entire world if you don't do something. Big scary pokemon are gonna come here and kill you all. Or something like that. I don't remember the details. But it sure was scary. There was fire and screaming. And blood. Oh. Can't forget about the dead bodies. At least I think they were dead. I dunno. I wasn't there for long before the little scary guy started chasing me. And then I woke up here. Funny how that worked out. For me. Anyways. Do something or I'm going to be very, very cross with you. If there's any of you left, anyways."

Celebi stood up straighter, dusting his hands off. "Anyways. I think that just about covers everything I needed to tell you? I should get going before the big wispy guy gets angry- oh right I wasn't supposed to say that. Whoops. Forget I said anything about that. Just remember the warning of doom and all that. Fix it so Dialga doesn't get mad at me."

"Wait, Celebi!" Anu reached out towards the little god, but he was already floating upwards. "If you have any care for us mortals, tell us what this danger is, so that we may prepare. Please!"

But Celebi ignored his pleas. He held his hands up, creating a square with his fingers. A beam shot into the air, and a square-shaped ripple appeared in the sky. He stopped just outside. "Good luck everyone, you're gonna need it! And remember! Reality is more than it seems, life is fleeting and worthless! Buy gold! Bye!"

And with that, Celebi vanished into the ripple, and the gate through time disappeared, leaving Celebi's parting words hanging in the minds of the distraught village pokemon.

Ruffle was the first to break the silence in a hesitant voice. "What… what should we do?"

Whisper's expression was unreadable. "Anu… this is your area of expertise. Was that really Celebi?"

Anu grunted. He didn't try to hide his troubled emotions. "He certainly looked like depictions of Celebi. But… his behavior, it doesn't line up with stories about him at all." He took a deep breath, then shook out his nerves. "Right. A plan. Regardless of… Celebi's personality, we can't deny the fact that he came here with a warning, and it would be foolish to ignore it. Whisper, I… I think our best course of action is to be vigilant."

"Have you lost your mind?" Vale growled. "You're going to take the word of that… that… whatever that thing was? I refuse to believe that that thing was Celebi How do we know he wasn't just trying to cause chaos and distrust?"

"Aw Vale, don't be like that," Shimmer chided, stepping forward. "You seemed perfectly happy to believe him just a moment ago, when you could spin the story to fit your desires."

Vale snarled, sparks dancing along his pelt. He didn't turn to face Shimmer, but Nip could tell from his crouched posture and wild eyes that he was more than ready for a fight.

"Enough!"

Jhorlo's voice brought silence to the small crowd. The purugly took slow, methodical steps until he was nose to nose with Vale. His eyes were narrow slits as he hissed at the manectric. "You. No matter how reasonable your concerns. You do not threaten my daughter. Do you understand me?"

Sparks danced for just a few heartbeats longer. Then Vale slumped, breaking his stare. "Yes, sir."

"Glad we could come to an understanding." Slowly, Jhorlo turned, walking back to stand beside Anu."

"That aside, both Vale and Anu have a point. It is hard to trust the word of a creature as chaotic as Celebi - or whatever he may have been. But it would also be foolish to ignore it entirely, when there may be a threat to our village's well-being. We can't just turn away any pokemon that passes by. It would ruin our reputation, and denying entry to any rescuers or explorers going about their job would be foolhardy.

"But at the same time, we cannot just let any pokemon go about as they please during these troubled times. Here is my proposal, though I am willing to modify it if you, the villagers desire. All pokemon that pass through must keep to the village square to do their business. Those that wish to stay the night will have a curfew. Does this seem reasonable?"

The pokemon muttered amongst themselves. Nip could catch bits and pieces of their conversation. Some seemed uncertain, but most seemed amicable to the idea.

"That brings me to the next point." The purugly turned, and Nip couldn't help but shrink back beneath his fierce gaze. "Our current…guests and prisoners. We cannot deny the fact that they could be the pokemon Celebi was talking about. I have misgivings about continuing their community service at the moment. Whisper, how have the sneasel and ninetales been doing thus far?"

Whisper quickly stood at attention. "Well, Jhorlo, the ninetales has been doing well. He's hardworking, and although he has his ornery moments, he generally seems to be interested in doing his best and seems willing to adapt to our culture. Though he does act up if Nip does not return before dark. It would be best if he didn't start an ice storm in the guard's hut, but I'm certain it's something we can work out with time."

Jhorlo's gaze was unwavering. "And the sneasel?"

Whisper hesitated, and Nip's gut twisted as the silence grew longer and longer. "He… does seem to be a hard worker. I can't deny that. But… he, too, has a temper. And one that he is not good at checking. I want to believe he's getting better. That he's understanding how to behave in our society. But I'm... concerned that all he's done thus far has been little more than an act."

"I see." He sat down and began to rasp his tongue over a paw. Nip wasn't sure anyone else saw the purugly's claws unsheath. Was Jhorlo threatening him?

"You know, Whisper," Jhorlo continued. "I know you've put a lot of work into this. No one can deny that you've tried. But perhaps it's time to admit that this sneasel is unfixable. I understand your hesitations on working with the Enforcers, but perhaps it's time to pass him off to them. I'm sure they know how to take care of someone like him."

Nip's breath hitched. His legs went weak, and he felt like a stiff breeze would knock him over. After all his hard work, putting up with intensive labor and barbed comments, would they just kill him anyway? Or pass him off to someone who would? How cruel could they be? He stumbled backwards, his fur bristling.

But instead of acting defeated, Whisper puffed up her feathers and stood up a bit taller. "No. I'm not giving up after doing this much. I've worked too hard to give up now. Please, let me work with him a bit longer."

Jhorlo stared at her for a moment, then let out a long sigh. "Very well. You may continue to work with both of them. But their hours must be limited, and they will be under the same curfew that any passing pokemon would . And I would like to request one other thing from you." He turned to face Vale. "As you know, we do have one other foreign pokemon among us. Umbra has been staying with me for some time now. And while I do trust her, I would like to request a guard remain with her while she goes about her buisness, just in case she is one of the pokemon Celebi mentioned. Allow me to borrow Vale for the next moon until we can… ascertain what pokemon Celebi spoke of, or else that the threat has passed."

Whisper tilted her head. "If you believe that is the best course of action, I will defer to your judgment. But only for the moon. If you wish to use him longer, we'll have to discuss this again then. Fair?"

"Very," Jhorlo replied. "But we will be revisiting the sneasel's progress on the same day. Those are my terms. Not every pokemon is suited for village life, but when they wrong us on our territory, well. Someone has to pay the price."

Jhorlo let his words hang between Whisper and Nip before speaking louder, addressing the entire gathered group of pokemon. "This day has shaken many of you, I am certain. But in these trying times, we must remain vigilant in heart and in faith. Celebi may not have met our expectations, but we must believe that doesn't apply to all gods. Stay on guard, watch out for one another, and if you see any suspicious activity, report it to myself or Whisper. That is all."

With that, Jhorlo turned and began to pad methodically back home. Whisper gave Vale an acknowledging grunt, then the manectric followed after. Slowly, the crowd began to disperse, uneasy mutters filling the air.

Nip, however, did not move. Not until he felt a nudge along his back. He spun, letting out an alarmed squeak.

The gentle eyes of Muse faced him down. "Come on," she said in a gentle tone. "We should get you back to your cell, before any other... excitement happens."

For a second the thought of making a run for it bubbled up in Nip's head. Jhorlo had nearly sent him away, despite everything he'd done thus far. But if he tried to run again, Umbra would follow. And then she'd kill him if someone else didn't first.

And he was so, so tired.

With a bit of coaxing, he began to shuffle forward, his gaze kept to the ground. Despite all that, Whisper, of all pokemon, had insisted on giving him another chance. It didn't make sense. Even with everything he'd been told about her, he couldn't fathom why she'd be willing to help him now.

But that was only the tip of his iceberg of troubled thoughts. His mind drifted back to Celebi. To his fickle and flippant nature.

Celebi is one of the calmest, most composed gods of all, he remembered hearing once, on a cold winter night. He must be, to be able to travel through time undeterred by the horrors he'd see.

Nip had been taken to the Wall of Stories, a place within the caves where the elders painted their history. It was there where he'd learned of Xerneas and Yveltal and the Original One and many others. Including Celebi. But the Celebi in those stories was so, so different. Were the stories about Celebi wrong?

Here, in front of him, Celebi had proven to be anything but calm and composed. And if Celebi, a god known by most all, a common point in many pokemon cultures, was nothing like the stories, then what did that say about other stories. Were they wrong as well?

What did that say about Yveltal? What did that say about him? Everything he had done in his life, he'd done so because he believed it was just in the eyes of Yveltal. Or, if nothing else, that Yveltal would understand his flaws and his reasons, and make her judgment accordingly. But what if Yeveltal was as callous and flippant as Celebi? Or what if Yveltal was harsh and uncaring? What if she cared not for his reasons, only for his actions?

As he stumbled through the doorway into the hut, he didn't even look up to greet Tempest. His eyes were glued to his claws. Bits of shell and fluid clung to them, glistening even in the darkness of the nursery den. The unmoving form of a half-formed child lay at his feet. It would take a long time to wash it out, and even then, the image would still be seared into his mind-

He blinked and the vision was gone. The ground below him wasn't dirt and dried grass, but roughly cut wood. He was in the guard hut, not in the tribe. Not with the pokemon that he had spurned and run from, but amongst pokemon that hated him for different reasons.

For nearly the past moon, he'd put up with the hard labor, viewing it as a safe haven to protect him from Umbra. But his heart was never in it. It was just a means to an end. When it was over, he'd return to his lonely life and live wild, but free, until Yveltal felt it necessary to reclaim him.

But now, with his future uncertain, the guilt of what he'd done here, and the guilt of what he'd done all those moons ago, was catching up fast.