"Took you long enough!" Latios grumbled irritably as Ho-Oh and Lugia arrived at Mt. Silver. They landed and sighed tiredly.
"It's not all our fault, you know!" Lugia griped, opening and closing his beak and flapping his wings in annoyance, "You try telling that bloated idiot back there that they don't make pants his size and see how fast you can get his brain to register it!"
"I beg your pardon?" Latios snapped back.
"The Slowking in charge of Lugia's shrine. Long story. Anyways, guess who else we found on the way up here?" Ho-Oh replied with a smile as the legendary dogs leaped into the scene. Celebi leaped up joyfully.
"Entei! Suicune! Raikou! He set you free! Just like I knew he would!" she cried happily. The three nodded.
"I'm going to miss him dearly, though. He treated us so well after rescuing us from that awful Cipher Corporation." Suicune murmured, "I remember his voice bringing me back from the darkness and such gentle hands for one of such ill repute!"
"He wasted no time using the Time Flute to call you, Celebi, to bring me to the light again. A man of action and great thoughtfulness is rare in this world. I only wish we could find ways to keep his heart from breaking so often these days." Entei added, "Such sorrow I find in the pains he is receiving on that evil group's account."
"He's got a good head on his shoulders, but he needs a good mate." the Raikou pointed out with a grin, "That red-head human has a gift for spotting Shadow Pokémon. Breed them together and let's see what kind of Pokémon we get!"
"Raikou!" the other dogs snapped at him, shocked at the words. He flinched and looked sidelong at them.
"What? I'm just saying we need more guys like Seth in the world! I say we breed him until he's too pooped to Snag a Weedle!" he cried in defense, "I don't think he'd complain that much!"
"Dude, too much information!" Jirachi groaned, covering his head where his ears would have been, "At least we're all here. So let's get to Kanto already!"
"Hold on a second. I'm sending something to Rui. Jirachi, you do dreams good. Help me project this into her dream." Celebi remarked, holding out a shining gold light the size of a small berry in her hand. Jirachi blinked and touched it, then recoiled.
"Holy Miltank! Why are you sending her that?" he cried, "That's gonna drive her bonkers!" Celebi frowned and continued holding it out.
"It will not!"
"Will you two shut up and send it already? We don't have all night to goof around!" Latios snapped. Jirachi griped and complained, but touched the light and sent it blinking out of existance, embedded into Rui's mind for a vision. "Now, can we please get out of here?"
"So the plan is to go to Kanto, find the legendaries of that region and have them meet us at Indigo Plateau at the appointed time?" Suicune asked, "Why?"
"Raykyoudon is about to appear and decide the fate of the world, ourselves, and himself." Ho-Oh answered, "If we aren't there to show him the good that he has within him, there is a chance that he will fall back to darkness and destroy us all. We must show him he can be pure and turn him into a legendary like us, or risk watching his power ruin the world like Groudon and Kyogre nearly did."
"That's what Celebi sent Rui. A vision of what is coming." Jirachi added. The Grass psychic jumped and hissed at him. "She wants Rui to help him stay in the light, too."
"Well, that's fine and dandy." Raikou growled, "But who in the Sam hill is Raykyoudon and how'd he get that much power over all of us?"
"Raykyoudon is far closer to a few of us than others." Celebi sighed, "You know him best as Seth Evice." The dogs gasped collectively.
"No! He can't be! Seth's human! How can he be a legendary Pokémon?" Suicune cried, "And Evice is the name of the horrible man who wanted us all captured and made into Shadow Pokémon! How can our master be related to that hideous, hideous creature?"
"Everything will come together at Indigo Plateau." Celebi replied, suddenly looking more mysterious, mature and ominous than any of the legendaries there in the clearing, "There Raykyoudon, Seth Evice, will either give the world the chance to go on and live, or destroy us all in a rage that is not his own. But, there is a greater threat that he will allow us to live and be free and happy, and die to ensure that his power never is used against us. In this fate, even I cannot predict the outcome, for it all lies within the choice in his heart.
"For Seth to die in this final stand and have any chance to return to this world as either human or Pokémon, or some strange mix of both, he must return to the beginning in a way that I do not know. And yet, I have a feeling that Rui is the key to his survival..."
Rui tossed and turned in her sleep, unable to find a comfortable position to rest in. Seth had given her multiple frowns, far less than the full out scowls he had shot at May for her blatant attempt to set her sleeping bag next to his own. In the end the bags were switched so both boys slept on the ends of the line of bedding, the girls snug in the middle.
Now he was fast asleep, Jupiter and Pluto curled up beside him for shared warmth and comfort. And Rui couldn't find peace for herself. She sat up, fluffed her pillow again and lay back down, studying his face. With his eyes closed and not holding her frozen as still happened whenever he looked straight into her own, she could take time to admire him and not feel embarrassed. Again he had eaten a great deal more than he appeared he could eat, but she merely assumed it was because of the DNA strands. If he could mimic a few Pokémon moves or powers, it probably took more energy from him than just doing normal things.
She hadn't found it odd that Seth hadn't wanted to sleep at first, wanted to stay up a little longer to work on the females that still seemed wild. Silver had returned earlier to say her last good-nights and switched the radio to a station that played a soothing melody. Poké Flute Station, she had called it. Seth konked out almost immediately, asleep before his head hit the floor. That struck Rui as a little weird, until Silver explained that she used the radio station as a way to wake up sleeping Pokémon and had no effect on humans save for relaxing them. Jupiter and Pluto grumbled as they tried to sleep around it, then had the Espeon switch it off completely. Seth continued sleeping for a few minutes, then woke suddenly and sat upright in surprise.
He refused to admit that the melody did the reverse to him what it did for Pokémon, but merely asked Rui quietly to never play the station on their Poké Gear and to please find him an aspirin.
Rui found herself growing drowsy as she lazily looked him over. It was comforting to know he was there beside her and a great deal more interesting than his sleeping in a separate bed whenever they stopped at hotels and inns back in Orre. Seth had rejected the comforts of a fluffy pillow offered to him in favor of the sturdy trench coat rolled up and set in its place. The Snag Machine lay safe in his pack, which rested beside his head. Rui reached out and lay a hand on his own, watching it jerk slightly, then relax, as if he knew in the depths of his slumber who had touched him. Comforted by that, she closed her eyes and slept, unaware of the dream that awaited her.
She stood on grass and gazed up in wonder at a huge stadium with banners waving and trumpets blaring. Before her were a long flight of steps leading to an enormous torch that remained unlit. Standing in front of the torch was Sera Evice, laughing evilly behind a fan she brought to her face. Beside her was Gonzap, grinning down at Rui. Why he smiled, she dared not ask, fearing the answer involved Seth in some form or another. She remembered how he had enjoyed the abuse he heaped on the Snagger in the lab in Orre, how he very nearly lost himself to the hulking brute before she had the gall to kick Gonzap in the privates.
Then there was Ein, beaming proudly. In his hand was something small and glowing. It was green, that much she could see from where she stood. What was he going to do with that?
Rui turned to her sides and found her friends' bodies battered and beaten on the grass, their Pokémon too exhausted to do more than fight for each breath, some even dead. She cried in horror and moved among the group, then fought back tears as she found Jupiter and Pluto among the dead Pokémon, bodies broken by some terrible force. Looking up in sorrow, Rui found the killer, a shadowy figure of a long, sinewy creature circling overhead, covered in a dark aura and roaring madly.
She ran from the dead and up the steps towards the Cipher Admins, determined to find a way to make them pay. Crying in a fury and grief that she thought could never be had, she met them at the top of the steps. She froze in an instant when she realized that, among the bodies of her friends and the Pokémon, Seth did not lie among them. Where was he, then?
"He is with us." Sera murmured in answer to her silent question and the three parted to reveal a tall rod that rose from beneath the unlit torch, transforming the bronzed bowl into an antenna dish. Bound to its base, hands high over his head and mouth taped shut, was Seth, eyes wide with terror and anguish as he struggled to free himself.
"Seth!" Rui cried and tried to move to him, but her feet felt cemented to the floor. The Snagger writhed, trying to pull himself towards her.
"Rui! Help me! Please! I want to go back!" she could hear his voice even though he was gagged. It rang through her mind, a cry filled with despair. "Help me! I don't want to change! Rui, kill me; don't let them change me! I want to go back! Let me go back!"
"Back to what? To where?" Rui cried back, "What do you mean?"
"Trust me, Rui! Let me go back! If I don't go back, I'll never return! Please! Let me go back!"
Rui hesitated. She didn't want to lose him, but she didn't know where he was to go. There was a chance that letting him go would mean never seeing him again.
When Rui didn't answer, the Admins turned to Seth and began to close in, covering him and hiding him from her sight. "Noo! No, please! Help me! No, I don't want to change! I don't want to be a monster! Please! Let me die! Let me die! Noooo!" Seth wailed in a tortured voice that suddenly became a howling as a bright green light erupted from within the tight circle of Admins.
"He is complete. After all these years, Raykyoudon is born." Ein intoned as the three stepped back to reveal what had happened. Rui gasped softly and gazed at the creature that stood before her.
It was slightly taller than Seth, and its flesh was darker, more stone gray in color than anything else. It almost resembled the color of his jeans and shirt, though lighter. It was still slender in build, that couldn't change. Its hands consisted of three fingers and a thumb, all ending with claws. It made her think of Blaziken's hands. The creature's legs were well shaped, ending with almost raptor-like talons, though it stood on its three toes, the hind talon held in the air. It had a tail, long and whip-like, with what appeared to be a fin at the end for swimming. The creature appeared very humanoid, even wearing a loincloth of black fabric over itself, suspended by a leather band that hugged its waist. Rui blinked and noticed that it wore a cape as well. No, not a cape. They were wings, deep blue, like Seth's trench coat, folded around its body and held in place around its shoulders by interlocking claws at the joints. The ends of the wings formed coattails, much like the Snagger's jacket had. It had hair; long, flowing, and silver-gray in color, and though she couldn't see enough to help her judge the length, she guessed it ended midway down its back.
After the shock of seeing this beautiful new creature wore off, Rui slowly lifted her gaze to its eyes, afraid of seeing the truth she knew it to be.
It gazed back at her with golden eyes, devoid of the soul that she had loved upon first sight. The face remained the same, even that strip of white carried over, almost dividing his face in half. But the life and spirit that had been in his eyes was gone, sucked from his body upon his 'completion'.
The legendary Pokémon, for that was what he was now, that stood before Rui was Seth, no longer Seth the caring human who hid his emotions and sometimes failed on purpose, dropped tiny kisses onto her neck and shoulders when they were out of sight just to tickle her and lift her hopes, and tried to redeem himself every chance he found. Now only Seth as Project: WSLY, key to the Earth Seal, the bringer of doom upon the world, existed.
"Seth... please don't be gone." Rui whispered in faint hope. The creature only raised a hand to the heavens and she followed with her eyes, watching in horror as the antenna glowed, strange dark energy crackling around his body as the sun turned blistering hot, scorching the earth and burning the forests, humans and Pokémon alike roasting in agony, their screams pounding into her ears and adding to her own.
He dropped his hand and raised the other, bringing floods and hurricanes that could only be described as the wind and water's rage against earth. Whole cities were washed away, millions drowning in its wake, cries for mercy going unheeded as the terrible god wreaked destruction, the sinewy shadow circling overhead and roaring in victory. Rui prayed alongside the suffering, wishing for the horrors to end.
He ignored them all, raising both hands and spreading his wings, the leathery flesh unfurling to full length.
And the wind ceased to blow.
Water ceased to flow.
Sunlight ceased to glow.
Earth ceased to grow.
The planet spun dead in space, its elements controlled and mastered by a single Pokémon that, heartless and soulless, used the power to end all life...
Rui knelt alone in darkness, tears still flowing down her cheeks as she held the tattered remnants of Seth's jacket in her arms, the silver visor he so loved wearing lying before her. She couldn't think of how she could have stopped such a terrible thing from happening, the sorrow of it all too overwhelming for her.
A soft golden glow appeared and she looked up to see what was causing such beautiful light.
The figure of Seth, her Seth, the Snagger she loved, stood in the light, dressed in his usual outfit, even with another jacket like the one she clutched. He was watching her, a sad expression on his face.
"Why didn't you let me go?" he asked softly. "I begged you to let me go." Rui choked on a sob and rose to her feet, reaching for him. He drifted back from her. "You let me have a fate worse than death. I thought... I thought you loved me..." he murmured, hurt deeply. She could hear his pain.
"I didn't want to lose you again. I wanted you to live and be with me." she offered as an explanation, wincing as it sounded selfish to her own ears. "I wanted you to love me, too."
"What made you think I was going to leave you forever? Everything I do, I do because I love you." Seth whispered, fading into the darkness, "You have to let me go. It's all you can do to help me. Let me go. Let me go."
"Go where?" Rui screamed sorrowfully, running towards the retreating ghost of her partner. Angelic wings of deep blue feathers spanned from his back in a sudden burst, the light exploding brightly and blinding her as he vanished.
"To the beginning. So I can finally come clean and ready for what I should be." Seth replied cryptically, "To the beginning, to become Raykyoudon and Seth in one form, the form I want to be with you in for all my days..."
Seth was first to be startled as Rui screamed aloud in the throes of her nightmare, swinging one arm out and hitting him in the side. The Eons started and scattered, wild-eyed in fright. The other trainers sat up and looked around, trying to determine the cause of the commotion through their grogginess. The door flung open and lights switched on as Silver and her parents rushed in.
"What happened?" they exclaimed. Seth pulled Rui up and hugged her tightly, stroking her hair and murmuring softly as she sobbed, face buried in the front of his shirt.
"Nightmare. It's nothing. Go back to sleep, but thanks for the concern." he told the Summers and resumed rocking the shaken girl. Jupiter and Pluto calmed and decided to sleep in a heap where they fled. Silver looked at the Snagger in understanding and nodded, leading her parents out and switching the light off. Brendan sighed and flopped back into bed.
"What about? Does she get nightmares a lot?" he asked as May snuggled under her blanket and blinked sleepily up at the Snagger. Seth shook his head.
"Not really. When she does its usually about what happened to me a few months ago or what might have happened during our journey to stop Cipher the first time in Orre." he answered, "I thought she finally got over them. Guess not."
"Don't go. Don't go. I don't want to let you go." Rui sobbed, holding him tighter, "No, no. I won't let you go! Don't go!" She twisted the fabric of the shirt to keep him closer to her. Seth winced painfully, shifting to try to adjust to the sudden snugness of his clothes. "Don't go!"
"I'm not going anywhere, Rui. Now can you please... let... me... breathe?" he replied in a strangled voice. She loosened the grip but opted to climb onto him to hold him, sitting in his lap and attaching herself to him. "Ruuuuiii..." Seth groaned, "You're heavier than Jupiter and Pluto! Get back to bed!"
"I don't want you to go, but I have to let you go." she murmured between shaky sobs, "It's the only way. The only way you'll come back to me." The Snagger raised an eyebrow in puzzlement then shook his head.
"Rui, I told you already. I'm not going anywhere. Why would I? Fein hasn't completely ruined me yet, though I'd like to strangle him before he does it again in Kanto. There's no other reason I can think of to leave you, save for going to the bathroom." he explained gently as he began to pry her off, "And maybe for those fights that you don't need to be involved in, but other than that..."
"I dreamed you were turned into a monster." Rui whispered fearfully, looking up at him with tear-filled eyes. "And it was my fault. You begged me to let you go and I didn't and they turned you into a monster and you used your powers to kill the world. Everything died because of me, because I wanted to keep you." Seth looked confused and concerned, then lifted her face up to rub away the tears still falling down her cheeks.
"Rui, I'm not going to become a monster. Nothing that's happening now is your fault. And I'm not going to wind up destroying the planet because I live there too and destroying it would be bad." he told her plainly.
"But you are! You are going to be a monster! Ein had this thing that he said would make you complete and..." she babbled and Seth suddenly looked at her with a strange expression.
"What thing?" he asked in a cold voice. Rui sniffled and shook her head.
"I don't know. It was green and little, that's all I could see. But he said it would complete you and Raykyoudon would be born." she murmured and watched as Seth's face turned pale. He pulled away from her, trembling as he hugged himself.
"Rui... Where did you hear that word?" he asked in a faint voice, closing his eyes and wishing for his shaking to stop. She didn't know the Pokémon language, couldn't understand them like he could, so where could she have picked up that term?
"It was in my dream. Why? What's wrong?" Rui answered, her fears growing at the sight of her partner's reaction.
"Rui, that's what the Pokémon are calling me..." Seth whispered, the sound of that same fear she had in his voice.
With morning came the grim realization that, upon reaching Goldenrod City and it's train station, Cipher was definitely thinking ahead. The train had no power and, therefore, couldn't take them to Saffron. Silver's eye seemed to twitch, just for a bit, before she flew into a rage, screaming at the top of her lungs.
"Why the hell do these people like messing with the Power Center? I just finished fixing the damn thing five years ago! What kind of stupid, idiotic, half-brained, caveman, hair-scratching nitwit of a team would go and cut the power to the Magnet Train in Johto and Kanto? When I get my hands on them, they're gonna wish their ancestors never crawled out of the primordial sludge pool!" she raged as Seth and the others carefully stepped backwards from her. Silver paused to take a breath and continue but a sudden wind kicked up around them and the group held up their arms for protection. Dust swirled around them as Seth bent to let the wind rush over him, drawing Rui beneath to protect her.
"Whaaaa? What's that? It's like a dinosaur flying!" Brendan cried, peeking up at a large red Pokémon that descended from above to land among them. Silver jerked her head up and stared in frozen shock at it, face turning bright pink. May squealed from the winds and reached out for someone to grab onto. Seth jumped back from her and she grabbed Brendan instead, hugging him tightly and wondering if, maybe, she should just stick with what she knew.
The winds died and everyone straightened to see who or what had just decided to join them. A figure leaped up from the back of the Charizard, as that's what Seth identified it as, flipped gracefully through the air, and landed neatly before Silver, gazing at her with obvious seriousness. Silver blinked and turned her eyes down, suddenly quiet and docile.
"Hello, Red. I suppose this means that... you're here to..." she murmured. Red shook his head and looked at the wary group.
"Now is not the time. You're not ready to accept it completely. Maybe after all this you will be." Red replied cryptically and scanned the group. "So you four are the ones who rescued Silver." he declared at last with a small smile, "I heard about it all from the gym leaders I finished helping." A Pikachu raced from the Charizard and scampered up the trainer's body to perch on his backpack, looking at the group from over his head. "Thank you for rescuing my fiancée. I probably would have torn this new team apart to get her back." he finished. Silver blushed a deeper red as her friends cried in surprise.
"You're going to be Red's wife?" Brendan shrieked, "Why didn't you say anything about that? I thought you said you couldn't find him!"
"I didn't lie, if that's what you think." Silver snapped, returning to her normal attitude, "It was a pain to find him the first time, and I didn't even know I found him until after we started a battle!" She threw back a loose lock of hair and breathed deeply. "After hearing word that the legendary Champion, Ash Ketchum, now called Red, was hiding and training in the caves of Mt. Silver here, I took off to battle him. But during my hike through the caves, I fell down through a weakened floor into a pit and twisted my ankle. A trainer with a Pikachu on his head rescued me and kept me safe until I healed."
"Weren't you still posing as a boy then?" Seth asked, just as confused as the others but not willing to show it. The emotion still carried in his voice. Silver nodded.
"Yeah, Red found me out by checking my backpack for first aid supplies while I was konked out. After I was better, he told me that he knew what I had done and told me to change clothes if I wanted to battle him. I was so mad, I went with it, and told him he'd be sorry for battling me." she went on and then paused, turning pink, "We started the battle and went all out with our teams. The battle took hours, it felt like."
"And he beat you?" May asked in a whisper, thinking how bad it might have hurt her pride and would explain why she was so meek around the great Champion.
"No, I beat him. Pikachu was the last Pokémon he sent out and I took it down with Sandslash, but barely. Red was more powerful than I had thought." Silver admitted, "After the battle, he walked up to me with an expressionless face and told me he was the Champion I had been looking for." Her pink deepened. "And that I was the Champion he was hoping for, too. He gave me this ring and said that I would be his wife in due time. Red would only marry the trainer that defeated him in fair battle. And I was the one to do it." she finished, holding up her hand with the diamond ring.
"Oh! That's the gift from the friend!" Rui exclaimed happily, "How romantic! Your prize for winning the battle was an engagement ring!"
"And the Pichu she carries with her." Red added, "Teeny Pik is the son of Pikachu, bred from a Wild Pikachu he found near the mountain." He grinned up at his beaming Pokémon. "Said she had a shock that wouldn't quit."
"Still doesn't! Hoo-hah! That's my girl!" Pikachu crowed and both Seth and Red laughed at the proud statement.
"Both of them laughed? What was so funny?" Brendan muttered, looking at the Kanto Champion and the Snagger.
"His Pokémon said..." Seth began but Red interrupted.
"Wait, you understand the Pokémon language?" he asked seriously, walking up to him. Seth nodded, suddenly defensive as the champion studied him closely. Red peered at him, standing a few inches taller than the Snagger. "You're the one... they warned me of..." he murmured softly, "Raykyoudon."
"Hey, back off. Don't call me that, Ash." Seth hissed, stepping back quickly.
"Long as you don't call me that." Red replied coolly and turned to face the Goldenrod Train Station for a few minutes. "So, the team that took over Kanto cut the power to the station? That's all right. I know another way to Kanto, but it's going to be rougher and we'll need Water Pokémon." The group waited impatiently as he turned and grinned. "Sorry, I never asked for your names. I've been away from my old friends for so long, I've completely forgotten my manners. I'm Red, as you all know now. What are your names?"
"Brendan Birch of Hoenn."
"May Thorne, Hoenn League Champion."
"Rui Roane of Orre."
"Short and to the point." Red remarked with a smile at the Snagger, "I like that." He adjusted his cap and thought carefully. "Yes, there are two routes to Kanto. The Indigo Plateau Pass and the Tohjo Falls. It'll be safer to go through the falls than the pass." he remarked.
"Why?" Rui asked, completely lost as to what had occurred between Red and Seth moments earlier.
"Indigo Pass is being taken by another group of Pokémon that shouldn't be disturbed." Red replied, "Tohjo Falls offers more ease of travel and we can sneak around to Pallet Town from there. Since my travels took me between Johto and Kanto, I was able to make a path from the falls to Pallet that people don't know about."
"All right. Any new e-mails from Nett?" Seth remarked to his partner. She checked the PDA.
"'Dear Wes and Rui, Professor Elm sends his thanks for the help in Johto and apologizes again to Seth for his rudeness. I wonder why? Anyways, Prof. Oak says that the Kanto region is going crazy, all the leaders there are waging war against Team Berserker and the Silph Corporation is being put under siege by grunts. On top of that, there's rumors going around of a strange new Pokémon that keeps them from using weather affected moves. It doesn't hang around long enough for a photo, but people are starting to panic. You're almost done. Keep it up!'" she read aloud and looked worried. "Strange new Pokémon? Could it be the one from my dream?" she whispered.
"It's settled, then!" Red declared with a laugh and thrust his fist into the air. "To Tohjo Falls and the rescue of the world!" The others followed suit.
"To Tohjo Falls!" All of them were careful to ignore Seth, who had promptly fallen to the ground and rolled in laughter, holding his sides, upon hearing the new team name being announced.
"By the fires of Ho-Oh, Cipher is going to kill me with laughter before they can conquer the world!" he howled, kicking at the air and squeezing his eyes shut so tightly, tears came through.
Little did the group know that the battle was far from over...
To Be Continued