Chapter 124:

Dream Drop Distance

The wind that had died when I shot Luna began to pick up again.

It began to blow through the empty town at high speed. It scraped against the brickwork and the ground to create long, drawn out, whale-like cries that reverberated through the twilight drenched sky.

Air currents gathered around me and Darkrai, circling us like sharks swimming around in the ocean.

They tugged at my hair, my clothes, and my skin, as though the winds desperately wanted my attention.

I bet it must have looked very dramatic. Me facing Darkrai, standing in the eye of the storm.

It was everything I wanted.

The gusts tried to pull on Darkrai as well, even though it looked like a breeze would tear his form apart, Darkrai remained floating in place.

As I looked at him, my guts told me it would make perfect sense for the winds to fail to get a grip on him.

It was as if the creature itself were a void in reality, something vomited out by God and given shape.

I couldn't exactly pinpoint what about Darkrai made me feel that way.

His smoke-like tendrils and foggy darkness weren't something alien to me— many Ghost Pokémon radiated the same macabre substance. Neither his posture nor size were particularly menacing either, yet for a reason unknown to myself, his mere presence uprooted a primal fear within me.

I chalked it up to me being in a dream.

After all, emotions were usually amplified within dreams, and considering I was dealing with the literal Nightmare Pokémon, I suspected he was altering his own presence to be more… nightmare like. That, or I was losing my mind.

Despite the inherent creepiness that Darkrai radiated, I managed to cognitively distance myself from that feeling, putting those emotions inside a metaphorical box and pushing that box to the edge of my consciousness.

"The rules for the battle are simple," I showed him the three Pokéballs clutched within my left hand. They contained a dream copy of my own team. "You know how battles work, right? I challenge you to a fight."

Darkrai didn't respond to me, leaving me wondering for a few anxious seconds if he was perhaps unaware of how Pokémon battles functioned. But even though I was scared, I teased, "Unless, of course, the Nightmare Pokémon cannot live up to his name."

Although it was hard to see with his entire body being made out of smoke, I could vaguely see him nod. The radiant blue eye dipped slightly lower, never losing its penetrating glare.

As he did that, I felt goosebumps. I had to fight off the urge to flee or to break out with a laugh.

This was it. My first contact with a legendary Pokémon.

Nonverbal contact, but contact nonetheless.

"Whoever is down first loses. If you win I will tell you everything. About the bomb, about the Festival, and about the Space time anomalies." I didn't know jack-shit, but he didn't know that. "If I win, we will become friends." I grinned like a Chesire cat.

A low guttural noise echoed through the air around me. A voice that was caught between sounding gentle and civilized, and a chainsaw being torn in half.

In spite of his odd voice and lack of visible mouth I could perfectly understand his words. "I accept, Dream walker."

My eyes widened.

So he can talk, after all.

"Then let the battle begin!" I said.

I threw up Midna's Pokéball.

Darkrai wasn't one to wait. Immediately, dark purple energy crackled around him in a swirling pattern. Reality around the creature became distorted, folding into a sphere that was captured between Darkrai's two hands and bursting with energy.

As the Pokéball reached the top of its trajectory, I looked at the sword I was holding in my hand.

The sword was beautiful as it was simplistic. The blade looked ever as sharp as it had done in real life, and the distortion effect that covered the real sword was present as well.

It felt exactly the same as the real sword had in weight, feel, and presence.

Darkrai followed my gaze to the sword, his expression remaining almost impenetrable, yet I could feel the distrust radiating outwards.

He was expecting me to pull some shit.

I winked and tossed the sword aside. It clanked against the brickwork a few times, leaving marks on the ground before it came to a standstill.

The distrust coming from Darkrai didn't dissipate, not even when the Pokéball exploded into light and released the Zorua.

The sword lay there uselessly on the ground. Small cuts ran through the bricks where it bounced, confirming that despite it being manifested from my own imagination, it was also as sharp as the real thing.

Dream Midna was awaiting my commands. There was a slight trace of worry, but she managed to hide it behind a dirty grin.

"Make your move." Darkrai commanded while assessing Midna.

My mind was still on the sword.

If I could manifest the sword and all its properties, what would stop me from manifesting—

A dark smile spit open my lips as I whispered the words.

Darkrai's head turned to face the sky.

Above us, in the eye of the storm, a cylindrical metallic object phased into existence, floating on the winds as if it were held by invisible strings.

It was the size of a small truck and had an almost completely smooth surface. Its tip was round whereas the other end transformed into an almost fishtail-like propeller.

Holy fuck. Was the only thought on my mind.

My jaw dropped, my mouth felt dry, and for a second, I didn't even dare to breathe.

Immediately the air became charged with power, as if gravity had increased tenfold.

The wind lashed out with spite at the alien object.

Darkrai looked mildly confused at it, somehow managing to seem both disdainful and curious.

However, my visceral reactions must have betrayed me because Darkrai gave the object a glare.

"I win," I whispered.

Darkai, although not recognizing the object, did recognize my trembling body and my fear became his. I don't know what he thought it was in the end, but I was certain the worst case scenario Darkrai had come up with still fell short.

The nuclear warhead began to fall.

I shivered. My skin crawled and my body screamed at me to run.

Part of me wondered if I had made a mistake after all, and another part marveled at the beauty of my life.

Darkrai shot a blast of energy directly up.

It was all a dream, right? Surely I wouldn't permanently injure either of us.

A final thought was spent on creating a barrier as I shut my eyes.

Even with my eyes closed, I could see the terrible flash that followed.

For a second, I was experiencing a sensational singularity; I felt and saw absolutely nothing.

Not a thought remained in my mind, and even the thought of a thought wasn't present.

I didn't feel the ground rumble as the weight of the world crashed down on it.

I didn't hear the sound of particles being violently torn apart on a molecular level.

I didn't experience the blistering heat that burned away even the shadows produced by the flashes.

When I opened my eyes again the world was grey and silent. Alamos Town had been torn from the earth and vaporized.

The town, the mountain, the lake, and even the weather. Everything was… gone. It was as if I found myself in a world of ash. Behind me, my own shadow had been burned into ash.

I blinked, wondering if my eyes were playing tricks on me.

In front of me lay a heap of shadows and smoke that vaguely resembled Darkrai.

I had trouble believing my own eyes, and even the knowledge that this was a dream didn't stop me from convulsing and vomiting.

My hands were shaking, my heart was trying to tear itself through my esophagus, and my eyes teared up.

I had trouble standing up, and I was sure that if I had allowed it, I would have fallen into a deep sea of unconsciousness right on the spot. But I couldn't let myself lose lucidity, not now, after coming so far.

I wiped the vomit from my face and forced myself to stop shaking.

"You got this," I said aloud to comfort myself. "Just the last stretch,"

Still, as I looked at the flattened landscape, I found it hard to remain calm.

The world itself hadn't turned into a hellish landscape. It had been razed and grounded to dust. A sad pathetic miserable eternity of ash.

It's just a dream, nothing is real.

This thought comforted me somewhat. I dug my feet into the ash and got up.

The grey dust felt like sand underneath my feet. To me, it was just as real as anything else.

I walked through the ruined hell to the pile of Darkness.

Buried in the ash was the hilt of a sword. It was partially covered by dust, yet, as I kicked away a layer of ash with the tip of my shoe, the blade looked perfectly intact.

I pulled my gaze away from it and turned my attention to Darkrai.

The living Nightmare was lying in the centre of a small crater. I could hear him breathing, something that sounded eerily similar to a growl.

The smoke that emanated from Darkrai's body pooled around him like blood instead of flowing away from him in long tendrils like it usually did. The colours that made up his body looked faded, and the darkness was more opaque than it had before, like his form was falling apart.

He moved his head up. His movement was strained and slow, but he managed to level his gaze with mine.

A neon eye peered into mine with a new cocktail of emotions I hadn't seen before. There was awe, fear, dread, disgust, and uncertainty hidden in the sea of blue. The expression was strangely human.

A part of me felt like gloating. To smile and boast about how I had outplayed by turning his dream reality against him, to tell him how much of a gamble it had been for me, how alive I felt, and how that wasn't even the worst I could do.

I didn't do any of these things.

My smile wasn't a grin, but a pleasant invite. Or at least, I hoped it was.

To make things easier on him, I knelt down so we could see face to face.

"That was a fun battle."

Darkrai didn't speak, but I could read his expression well enough, and the language of "fuck you" was spoken universally.

"That was a nuclear bomb." I said, "one of the most powerful weapons is where I came from." I looked out at the ashen wasteland. "I think it means I won."

Now I was sitting in front of him and I noticed he wasn't actually as big as he had seemed. Or was it the effect of the bomb?

I extended my hand out to the creature.

"That means we are friends now."

Darkrai didn't look too happy with my offer of friendship. However, it was non-negotiable, I managed to grab his hand and forced him up.

Like a balloon being filled with air, Darkrai began to float a foot above the dust that made up the ground.

He looked badly hurt, his darkness scattered and crumbled, as if he might dissolve into a shadow at any moment.

To help with the slight issue, I imagined a Full Restore into existence. Compared to what I had done before, it was very simple.

As if it had always been there and I hadn't realized it, I was holding a green coloured spray in my hand.

It was odd how the dream world manifested itself, but after the nuclear bomb, I thought this was very underwhelming, but Darkrai looked at me with skepticism and distrust.

I tossed it to him. "Heal up." I frowned, "Actually, does that even matter? If you wake up you will be fine, right?"

I was working under the assumption that anything done in the dream wouldn't affect my real body, but I wasn't an expert. If I were wrong, the radiation would kill me soon. The thought of not.

"You shouldn't be able to do any of this, Dream Walker," Darkrai said. His voice sounded somehow more grave than before. "What are you?"

"In this world, I am a god," I indulged him. He gave me an incredulous look, and I couldn't help but to let out a cackle. Was this how it felt to be a super villain?

"I'm kidding, my name is Dust and what you just saw is a little bit of lucid dreaming. I'll tell you about it later. This isn't the worst thing I could've summoned, trust me. I could have gone full on Death Star, but I didn't want our first meeting ruined." I offered him a slightly apologetic smile.

The Full Restore was absorbed into Darkrai's body. His skeptic gaze didn't fade like his injuries did.

"I've wanted to meet you for such a long time, you know?" For once, I was completely honest. It was hard maintaining my facade of control and not letting my excitement slip through the cracks, but part of me was fanboying and loving every bit of this dream.

I mean, I was talking to Darkrai. In a fucking dream.

For a moment, I thought back to my old life. How miserably boring it was. I knew exactly how each day was going to be. My entire life, even.

But here, in this nightmare reality, I was in the dark. I only had vague ideas about the world, and even less about the future. Nothing was safe.

God, I loved this world.

"You wanted to"

"Of course," I said, spinning around. "Alamos Town is in danger."

"Because of you," Darkrai growled. "You admit to your crimes."

"Huh?" I scowled. "No. Look, I get it, my Aura is messed up, and any precog ability you have is also going haywire, but I can assure you I'm not involved in what's causing this mess."

"Liar!" The accusation hung in the air.

The scene around us shifted. The air began to shiver, reality became fluid again, and a second version of reality was being transposed over this one.

A reality where someone was clawing out his own eyes right in the middle of a desolate Alamos Town.

I looked at the scene with abject horror, but also fascination.

A second Darkrai appeared, floating right above the tortured soul. This Darkrai was translucent and only half present. Like a ghost, or at least more of a ghost than the real one.

The screens were muted and sounded faded, yet I could pretty easily imagine what sound he was making.

Red tears streamed down his cheeks while his own fingers poked deeper into the eye sockets.

"The Egg," Darkrai's echo demanded.

The man kept sobbing.

The image was blown away by a non-existent wind and a new vision was constructed. I saw myself, the version from yesterday, leaving Poké Bowls while my clothes were wet from Greninja's blood. My expression was drowning in guilt, and as my echo walked past, I could feel his shame become my own. But it didn't last long. I steeled myself. I did what I had to do, I reminded myself, and I wasn't in the mood for self-doubt.

"The Egg," the real Darkrai demanded. "You have it!"

"What egg? What are you talking about?" I asked, feeling uncertainty set in. Nobody had said anything about an egg.

Then it hit me.

Once again, another piece of the puzzle fell into place, this one unknowingly given by Darkrai.

Things started to click, details that were odd, bits and pieces I picked up, and my own prior knowledge.

I knew something was going to happen here. Palkia and Dialga would come to this place and fight each other. I knew this thanks to my Meta knowledge, but I just wasn't exactly sure how they were going to happen.

In the anime, it had been because of Arceus' awakening, but here, like many things, not everything lined up perfectly, and I was pulling and following strings without knowing where exactly they would lead.

Spacetime was fragile around Alamos Town. I was almost certain of this being true. All the myths pointed towards it, from the town's rich history to the way space seemed to almost bend over the town. The evidence all but confirmed my gut feeling.

In the last couple days, the fragility of spacetime had increased drastically, to the point of inducing seizures and giving me multiple vivid visions.

I wasn't the only one who experienced it. Darkrai had sensed it, and he was trying to do something about it.

There was a mysterious dude and a bunker— some kind of plot? Something that caused the breakdown of space time?

Like… an egg?

The empty box I found in the secret bunker. The labels warned for Distorted Local Reality, Aura Infusion, and Highly Reactive materials.

I had assumed it was a bomb, but what if it was something else?

An Egg.

My mind went back to the incident all the way back in Jubilife City. It felt like that had been ages ago and with everything that had happened, it might as well have been.

There was an experiment there with an Egg, and back then, I experienced shockwaves that were eerily similar to what I was seeing here, just on a smaller scale.

My mind was racing through all the options and presumptions.

Assuming Team Galactic perfected the formula, they could have gotten one of those eggs here.

The previous one, when it hatched, had exploded into a beam of energy that vaporized the entire building, reducing it to ashes. The Shine had been visible from all of Sinnoh.

But if that were the case, then why? And where was the egg now?

Another thought struck me.

I started to chuckle as the humor of the situation made itself clear. My laugh echoed across the flattened plane. "I swear, I don't have the egg, nor do I know where it is."

"Liar, you are with—"

Before the sentence could be completed, the world started to shake. The sky started to fade, losing its color while the ground beneath became a fluid mess of gravity and physics.

Trying to maintain consciousness was hard. It was as if I were falling asleep, but instead of drifting into a deeper slumber, my mind was pulled towards something alien, something unknown, something—

My eyes shot open.

Cold air filled my lungs, which immediately started begging for more. I was gasping while sweat was running down my forehead.

It felt as if I had just gotten the chance to lie down after running an entire marathon.

I started blinking. Light and colours assaulted me from all directions. The world itself was a blur of noises and sounds, and my own thoughts felt delirious and distant. As if my mind was still somewhere else, somewhere distant.

I brought my hand to my chest to confirm that I was still alive.

The warm feeling of my own beating heart confirmed that this was, in fact, real. Slowly, my breathing became slower, and my heartbeat began to follow suit.

I was half lying, half sitting on the floor.

The world wasn't ash; it was full of colors and sound. The thought of people, buildings and Pokémon being alive felt alien to me. As if the dream world was more real than this one.

My eyes darted from left to right, trying to find anything to focus on.

There were a lot of Pokémon and people around me yet I couldn't focus on the details.

Thoughts flooded back and with it came the realization that they were the ones who got through the fight against Clair the Dragon Queen.

The crowd was loud. Expressions on their faces ranged from fear, to dread, to anxious panic. They all looked at me like I was some disease they could catch if they came too close to me.

Clair was standing slightly closer to me, and although her expression was grim, she at least didn't look scared.

Still feeling out of it, I looked for my Pokémon.

I found Luna and Midna fawning over me. How did I not notice them?

Their words sounded distant. The green one was shaking me, trying to get my attention, but her words joined the buzz of sensations that my brain tried to filter into usable information.

Clair looked like she might attack me at any moment with her bare fists. No, not just her. Everyone was looking at me like that.

Then the shadow became visible, and I realized they weren't looking at me. They were looking at something behind me.

Darkrai hovered in the air, the same way he had as before. Low grunts were emitted from the beast as his eyes tore through the crowd with visible distrust while energy crackled between his palms.

In a daze, I stretched out my hand to it, trying to tell him everything was going to be okay. I opened my mouth to tell people that Darkrai and I were friends, that I had this under control.

Except words refused to leave my mouth. My brain was too fumbled and caught up in itself to form words, and the idea of structuring a sentence seemed an impossible task to me.

Energy fumed around Darkrai, not looking too dissimilar from the energy it had summoned in the dream world.

He was threatening them all with his glare, holding them off.

There were Pokémon in the crowd. Strong and tough ones that didn't back down but returned roars and growls. Yet no one made a move.

Then a figure appeared out of the crowd. Like the sea had done for Moses, the crowd split open.

She had long orange hair falling from her face in lush waves, almost like she was on fire.

With long and careful strides, she walked past me and faced Darkrai. She stopped in front of me and held out a long object in her left hand.

A sword.

"Stay away from my friends," Flamera said, her voice reserved and strong. "And leave this town."

Darkrai let out a threatening rumbling noise. The darkness that radiated from him increased, and I could swear the sky darkened a little.

Flamera gave him a grim nod and raised the object she was holding in front of her.

"If you won't stop haunting me, I'll fight you right here and now."

All of a sudden, the sword she was holding began to glow with a soft light. The blade that had always looked like a piece of beautiful metal had taken on a soft blue hue and radiated light that tore through Darkai's darkness like it was mere smoke.

I had no idea that the blade could glow, and neither did Flamera, from the looks of it.

She however recovered from her initial surprise and raised it even higher. She twisted her left hand so the top of the blade was aimed at Darkrai's body.

The glow grew brighter, its colour impossibly pure and clean. The darkness that surrounded Darkrai seemed to shrink away from her and the air around it, instead it retreated inwards, like it was afraid.

Yells and shouts came from the crowd. The blur increased, and I felt my own senses getting overwhelmed again.

Flamera's grim expression remained focused on Darkrai. The sword remained within striking distance of the myth.

Darkrai let out a defiant growl before it began to sink down, phasing through the cracks in the ground.

The darkness that had fogged my mind increased tenfold, as though the nightmare Pokémon were the only thing keeping me awake.

How ironic.

Flamera released a deep sigh and turned around to face me. "Don't worry, that Pokémon will no longer haunt you."

And that was when the darkness truly settled for me, and my mind drifted away into a dreamless sleep.

However, before the dark settled, the final piece of the puzzle fell in place.

I couldn't help but laugh.

A/N Beta read by Atomic. Written by yours truly.

Thanks for reading Welcome to the insane World of Pokémon.