Thank you all for being very patient with me, I'm sorry it took me as long as it did, but I'm just grateful you're all understanding about my predicament at the moment. Last night I was fretting with myself whether-or-not to cut the current chapter in two, as to not torment you with a ridiculously-long chapter (which would be understandable, as this is now the start of the climax). However, I've run into a roadblock, so I figure I might as well slice it in half and hope it was for the best.
Well, without any further interruptions, onward with the plot—I mean story! The next chapter will be the long-awaited climax, no lie! When it'll be done... ehh, I don't know. Hopefully not as long as it's been torturing me with.
Chapter Nineteen: Last Chance
"It was a perfectly fine day, but I breathed in the cold breeze
In an instant, time stopped its needle
One-way, that cannot return twice
A lost child looks for a bright place"
- "Forest of Grief" (translated), Ayane, When Cicadas Cry: Festival
The morning meeting took a bit to assemble, but even then the discussions went all over the place. Everyone was clearly worried enough about the fate of their friends they desperately wanted to start the rescue that moment. Shaymin was quick to persuade them to settle for a plan before it could get out of hand, until they realized they didn't know where the Tree exactly was. Mewtwo resolved it by mentioning the Mystri Stage, which Uxie also confirmed in recognizing the surrounding area upon infiltration.
"Well then, why not draw out a blueprint?" Latios made a suggestion.
"There's no use in mapping out the ruins," he said, arms folded. "The Sinjoh Ruins have been eradicated by the crystals."
"What about the Mystri Stage?" his sister worriedly asked. "Is it still useable?"
He shrugged. "I couldn't feel it..."
"It could be because it became the Heart of the Tree," the clone explained, much to the surprise of the Sinnoh Legendaries. "Legion used it in the restoration."
"How is that possible? Only a Legendary can run it, and even then it's difficult to use!" Darkrai shook his head in disbelief. "Besides, it's forbidden, at least not without permission. It has to call us over—well, Dialga, Palkia and Giratina, to be exact."
The renegade snorted. "Arceus gave us that right since he hardly ever comes down here. But hell, I haven't used it. One of you folks always got to it before I could feel it calling, and that's after Dialga and Palkia have felt it." A few looked away, making him huff a little and return his attention to the front.
"It doesn't matter now," Uxie muttered. "The question is: who activated it?"
"He just said this Legion guy did," Deoxys scoffed. "Weren't you listening?"
"But Legion is no Legendary I know of."
Mew worriedly looked up at her mate, squeezing his hand. He caught her gaze when he hung his head. "He used Mew to do it."
Many of them murmured in astonishment. Shaymin's eyes widened, mouthing a little before finding her voice. "H-How is she still here? We aren't immortal anymore."
Mewtwo gently ran his thumb along the back of her paw. "Legion once told me he could keep Mew's body from aging at will. I know very little of what happens to the body during the activation of the stage, though from what I saw... it was painful."
"Um... isn't aura supposed to be used to create the Tree or something?" Zapdos questioned.
Mew shivered, then nodded. "In a way, though a base is needed. You can't create matter out of thin air, something else has to exist to become something else."
"That bastard made a giant freakin' crystal from the Mystri Stage?!" Giratina roared, startling most of the Legendaries when he shot up straight.
A memory of a gleaming blue object flashed into Mewtwo's head. "No... it was some kind of... shiny, blue material."
Entei snickered. "He said 'shiny'." Suicune lightly bopped him on the head to shut him up.
He hardly heard the beast speak. "Because it had this smooth look to it, I would say it was a stone. A very familiar stone... it had to have aura in it."
The small feline gasped, straightening up. "Sir Aaron's gloves had stones in them! They held aura! So that explains...!"
The Legendaries leaned in when she paused. "Explains what, Mew?" Latias pressed.
She shook her head. "S-Sorry, I was thinking of something else... but that explains the base. Legion didn't make the Heart out of the Mystri Stage. He may have combined the two."
"Isn't that still saying the Heart formed directly from the stage?" Heatran amended.
Mewtwo shook his head. "It looked intact last I saw it. The Heart just rests on it."
"Doesn't mean it didn't end up fusing together," Uxie pointed out, his grave tone of voice turning heads. "This is no ordinary demon. He apparently knows about the stage's abilities. It's possible he didn't activate the Mystri Stage, otherwise we would have noticed. If anything, he's keeping it awake, ready to use when needed."
Cresselia paled a little. "Um... d-doesn't the stage work according to the user's wishes and desires?"
The fairy darkly looked up. His expression was all it took for the group to become somber, their hearts feeling like stopping that very moment.
The meeting was quietly adjourned.
The following couple of days were difficult to handle with a hint of paranoia lingering on their shoulders. They continued to talk over finalizing the rescue plan while they fussed over their own recoveries in between. For the most part, they didn't suffer many long-term effects and were able to perform tasks without complaints, so Mesprit was able to relieve them from her care. It left her and Cresselia more time for Mew to be their main priority (since Mewtwo was showing positive signs and mainly just needed a good eye kept on his arm). But to their amazement, she was found to be well enough they had announced to the Legendaries that evening they were heading out first thing in the morning.
As much as the clone wanted to tell them the reasons for her speedy recovery, he felt it was too personal to tell anyone else. He didn't doubt Mew had suffered the injuries they said she may have had, much like he never once questioned the miracle. He had a little issue with their clearance, but after they talked it over, he vowed never to let her out of his sight "to be on the safe side".
"Honey, this is a rescue mission. You will have to pay attention to everything else at some point," his beloved gave her reasoning later that night when he brought it up.
"I am just saying, Myriam, we need to be cautious about this," he sighed, readjusting the sling's strap. "Legion never once stated he was officially through with you."
"This isn't about me right now, Mewtwo."
"It might end up that way."
She shot up off the bed to wrap her arms around his shoulders. "I can take care of myself. I know the dangers now—"
"You do not know where he is or what form he is in," he cut her off, a slight frown on his brows. "He is more dangerous now because we do not know what to expect."
Mew averted her gaze to the window, watching Deoxys and Lugia trying to outwit each other in charades (or whatever the males were doing). She and Mewtwo had chosen to isolate themselves in the bedroom to talk things through after having let the others know beforehand. She was sure they hadn't been alone for more than fifteen minutes, and yet the chatter outside and down the hall had been nothing more than a low, buzzing background noise from the start.
Leaning her head against him, she murmured, "He may go after the others, though."
"I am aware of that... but he wants you more."
"But why? Why us?"
Mewtwo reached up to grasp a paw. "He wants nothing more than a body for himself and his followers. He claimed we would produce strong children... which is probably the ideal body for a demon."
She raised her brows in puzzlement. "What makes him say that?"
Shaking his head, he attempted to move the subject elsewhere. "Myriam, are you still willing to kill the Tree by any chance?"
Annoyed he avoided her question, she replied anyway, "I am. But I can't do it alone."
"Can we wait to purify it?"
"It's not purifying, we're neutralizing. That way, it'll make it easier to kill."
"Has this been done before?"
"We're just calming it down, so it has been done before... in a way." She grew a little worried at the thought, then reworded her answers. "Well... I suppose you can say that by purifying the Tree, we are making it neutral... though it depends on the strength of the one neutralizing it."
Mewtwo looked over anxiously. "To balance it out, will it have to drain our life-source?"
Mew's brows furrowed. "...it shouldn't... but..." She went quiet as she reviewed it to herself. Her eyes then suddenly widened, raising a trembling hand to her mouth. Before he could ask what was wrong, she pushed herself away from him. He watched as she sloppily drew the curtains closed, then hurried for the door, taking a quick peek outside before quietly shutting and locking it.
He immediately got up and started for her. "Myriam, what are you doing? We have to keep it ope—"
She crushed a hard kiss into him, pushing him back to the bed and knocking the breath out of him. She let out a moan, and teasingly slid her tongue inside his mouth. He lay there in shock, feeling her hug him tightly to sensually stroke her hips along his torso. Regaining movement in his arm, he grasped her face to pull her away for air.
"Myriam! What was tha...?"
He trailed off at the forming tears deep in her eyes, her hands clutching his shoulders. Never had she been so open to him before, it was as though she had revealed a hidden persona. Panting, she kissed him again with the same amount of passion, ignoring the dripping slaver. "I'm ready."
"Ready for what?" He winced when her tail lightly swiped across his abdomen.
"Please, Mewtwo... in case this is our last night... take me." She licked his chin fervently.
Mewtwo quickly rolled her off him before scurrying up against the wall. "Myriam, you cannot be serious!"
Mew gazed up with a hurt look, then crawled over to hug him around the middle. "Please, dear... I promise to be quiet. We can be quick about it, no one will notice."
"It does not matter," he breathed out, shaking his head. "This is not the time nor place to perform such an act."
"Mewtwo, what if this is our last night together?" she mewled. Her eyes skimmed along the numerous scars littering his body, fear squeezing her heart.
"That may not be the case. Besides," he reached down to cup her face and rub away the drying drool, "if we went ahead and became intimate, if either of us does die tomorrow... What if by some chance I end up impregnating you tonight?"
The question made her pause for a few moments. "...well... then at least it proves you are capable of having children."
"You are not getting it, Myriam."
"What makes you think you get it? You've never checked to see if you are sterile, your defense is because you're man-made." Mew turned her back on him when she moved to lie down, curling up a little. "If your clones could have children, chances are you can," she muttered. "...as for myself..."
Mewtwo's heart skipped when she trailed off, wondering if she was ready to tell him. He sat back against the headboard and gazed down at her, waiting patiently for her to continue. His hearing briefly picked up the voice of Suicune yelling outside for the others to shut up, but it only held his attention for a few retorts. His mate eventually started to tremble from what he thought was the cold. Scooping her into his arm to hold against his chest, he spotted a tear rolling down her face before she snuggled closer, fingers gently clawing at his collarbone.
She whimpered something indecipherably for half a minute until she glanced up. "Mewtwo... remember a couple of years ago... um, where I had been absent for a long time? U-Um... I... please don't take this the wrong way, I-I'm still a..."
He laid a hand on her cheek in comfort. "Slow down, Myriam. Calm yourself down first."
Mew gulped down a few breaths, leaning into his palm. "...i-it was horrible, Mewtwo... they did things to me... I had never been so scared..." She hiccuped on a sob and wiped at an eye. "I used to force myself to forget terrible memories. But this... I can't get it out of my head. There is no way I can, not while I keep having dreams... and after I found the scar..."
He tightly bit his lip, trying hard not to tense up.
"Honey... your hand's shaking."
He quickly lowered it to her back, turning his head to hide his teary eyes from her. "Sorry... you were saying?"
She was quiet for a long, painful minute while he felt her stare. He struggled not to show signs of his lament, hoping there were enough shadows to hide him from view until he could compose himself. When he shifted a little in place, the rosy feline startled him by reaching out to touch his face. He refused to meet her in the eye, shivering beneath her fingertips and holding his breath.
"You know about...?"
He nodded slowly.
"...for how long?"
Mewtwo choked on a sigh. "O-Only a few days," he stammered out, his eyelids drooping.
She leaned in. "How?"
He shook his head. "It does not matter... even if I had never known, I can feel how frightened you are in here." Upon placing his hand over her heart, she pressed it closer without hesitance like she was treasuring it. "...you would have never been ready to tell me."
She fiddled with his fingers. "...I-I'm sorry, Mewtwo."
"Do not apologize," he interjected. "I should be apologizing to you. I visited you only a few times not long after I had gotten word you returned. You never once showed signs you knew I was there..." His hand gave her paws a squeeze, then released them. "I left you alone to be in the care of others because I did not know what to do. How was I supposed to know they could not help you either? We left you to die... we betrayed you..."
She took him by the chin and pulled him down for a kiss. It was gentle this time, not a hint of passion was on her lips. It was unfortunately short-lived; he scarcely returned it when she broke away, caressing along his jaw.
"No... it was my fault for not communicating," she murmured. "I saw you all come visit me... and I just stared through you all. I-I wanted to say something, really... I just could not bring myself to speak. My mouth... it refused to open the entire time. It was like I became dumb, you know? Which I suppose is what happens when someone goes through something terrible..."
Then Mew became at a loss for words, eyes showing signs of distress when she slid down to lay on her side. A bit unsure what to do, having frozen up a little when she distracted him from his own sober thoughts, he moved to kneel over her. She jerked a little at his sudden movement, blinking up at him in disarray. Carefully, he lowered himself to let his elbows support him up just as he touched her cheek. He felt a rush of heat rise to her face when she glanced down at his figure, and he realized in slight embarrassment his mended arm was resting on her lower abdomen. Quickly, he flipped onto his good side to give her space, though he saw with surprise she looked a little disappointed.
Scooting closer to throw her arms around his neck, she sighed out, "Mewtwo, please promise me something."
"What kind of promise?"
"I don't care, just give me a promise."
He rested his chin between her ears while he thought on it, then curled his arm around her and looked her in the eye. "Myriam, darling, I make this promise to you that you shall have a long and happy life from this point on."
She frowned deeply. "You don't know that..."
His gaze softened to a sad look, and he silently kissed her. A small disgruntled whimper escaped her, but she let herself go without another protest when she opened up to lick his lips. As sensual as it was, he refused to allow her or himself to harden the kiss as such, and instead deepened the lip-locking. They laid there for what felt like ages, breathing each other in while their bodies steadily tightened the space in the need for warmth and physical contact. When her tail deliberately brushed along his lower abdomen, Mewtwo tightened his hold of her neck in warning.
"Dear, there is a time and place for everything," he mumbled against her mouth. "For now, the kisses are suffice enough."
She parted for a breath. "Just the kisses?"
He nodded, stroking the back of her head in apology. Her eyes dropped for a brief moment, then she pushed herself off the bed for the door to open it a crack. Glancing over at him, Mewtwo gave her an amused smile as he sat up, a quiet groan rumbling in his throat. "Cresselia will be checking on us at some point anyway. She is not going to be pleased if the door was locked, let alone if she caught us."
Mew shifted a little in place before returning to him. He reached out for a hand only for her to straddle above his injured arm, straightening up to be eye-level with him. She trembled when he dropped his hand to rest on the small of her back, lightly pressing her to him. Hesitantly, she leaned in to snag a small kiss, reaching down to tug at the sling, almost desirably.
"You're scared, aren't you?" she murmured, looking at him beneath her lashes.
The clone pressed his forehead to her with a sigh. "Myriam... even if this somehow resulted in a pregnancy... I do not want Legion after you."
His eyes widened when his heart clenched. "Are you mad, Myriam?" he breathed out.
"I do not want to run anymore, and I do not want you to be alone with him again." Mew kissed him once more, holding him by the jaw. "We may die tomorrow... but I do not want him to win the battle over me..." With a shaky inhale, she tearily met his gaze. "Take me, Mewtwo... just for this moment."
It was still obvious from the look in his eye and his posture he believed it wasn't the right time for intimacy. She just frowned a little, wrapping her tail around his as she closed her eyes to lean against him. Upon him drifting his hand up along her figure to take her by the chin, she let out a small mewl which was stifled by his mouth. Yielding, she hoisted herself slightly above him, hardening the kiss and grasping him further until his fingers accidentally skimmed the claw marks on her neck.
"Mewtwo!" she immediately gasped, almost in a begging tone.
Parting, they eyed each other anxiously. Mewtwo trembled a little at her pleading gaze, spotting the hint of want in her watery depths. Glancing over her shoulder, he watched her lower their entwined tails to the bed where they sensually stroked. Returning to her eyes with a slight shudder, he let out a slow sigh. Tilting back her head, he pressed into her lips a little harder than before, bringing a drawn-out moan from when their tongues grazed from a single brush. Easing her mouth open, he stole a quick glimpse from her, gently lowering her to the mattress.
"Myriam, we need to be as quiet as possible," he huskily whispered, shifting to kneel over her to put weight on his uninjured arm. She shivered the moment he nuzzled her, his movements slow as he kissed along her shoulder. "...if it becomes too much, let me know, and I will stop," he added in a faltered tone.
Mew nodded and nervously swallowed. "I-I understand, Mewtwo..."
She immediately bit on her knuckles to repress a startled whimper when he tentatively ran his hand up a breast, throwing her head back with fluttering eyelids. He craned his neck to lightly lick her bottom lip, and she allowed him to casually trace along her tongue before they enclosed their lips to keep it covert. Her hands reached out for his arms, fingers tangling into the sling.
Having come by to check on them for the night, Cresselia raised a brow at the sight of the door nearly closed. She moved for the knob when she heard the bed creak accompanied by soft gasps. The noise made her pause, her breath catching. Feeling she was going to regret it, she carefully opened it a little to peek in, first noticing the curtains were a bit disheveled like they were drawn in a hurry. She followed the light over to the bed, her heart jumping at the sight of Mewtwo bowed over Mew, lost in a deep kiss.
She knew it was wrong to spy on them (even though she had eavesdropped on Mewtwo's heartfelt apology days before), but it brought a sense of sadness over her. Though flustered as she pulled back to cover her face, the scene unintentionally brought back memories and long-lost desires of intimacy. She found herself thinking back to Darkrai, musing over what could be going through his mind at that moment.
Cresselia hadn't realized she was staring off into space until Latias came up from behind. "Is something wrong?" she innocently asked.
The lunar swan quietly pulled the door nearly-shut to give her a smile, waving her hands around. "Nothing to report!"
Tilting her head, the dragon pointed at her face. "Then why are you blushing?"
Frowning at the wide grin, she moved to look inside the room only to be shooed away. "I want to say good-night to Mew," she objected.
Shaking her head, Cresselia muttered, "Sorry, dear, not tonight... there's always tomorrow."
"How do you know there is going to be a tomorrow?"
She meditated on it, but never expressed an answer, watching the young female head back for the front room. Her thoughts drifted back to Mewtwo and Mew, wondering if they knew tomorrow's outcome. She had known for a long time the two were close friends, even having that belief their relationship was similar to how hers and Darkrai's was. It was only a few months ago she had noticed tension between them, and the looks of longing from afar. She had once asked Mew about it only to have her deny and contradict herself within a minute's time. While she never pushed the matter any further, it was then and there she knew the two held a special bond like what she shared with her counterpart.
There was a creak beyond the wood. "Mewtwo—ah!"
"Please keep it down, dear."
"I-I'm sorry... I'm just nervous..."
A quiet gasp of breath sounded alongside slight movement. "Mm... we'll be okay, right?"
"If you want to stop—"
"No... please don't..."
Cresselia shivered, silently closed the door, and went to her room. As much as she wished they wouldn't, it was their one night together. She couldn't control how intimate they were going to be with one another, and even if she could, she wouldn't stop them.
But she knew it was sure to break a heart if either of them were to die tomorrow.
The group gradually woke up at dawn (some were forced to by Shaymin), and had a breakfast no one was in the mood to eat, but were persuaded otherwise. They had a morning prayer afterwards for guidance and protection, then once the last "amen" was uttered, they solemnly headed for the Tree. For the most part, they all were bunched together in their own small group of friends, holding hands or just making sure they kept some form of skin contact. None of them dared to speak a word, even when Entei randomly started bursting into song a few miles in. As bothersome as it was, no one had the heart to stop him, though after a while, Suicune barked at him to be quiet.
"I'm just trying to brighten the mood!" he whimpered defensively, hanging his head. "None of you even joined in."
"Well, Entei, we're happy for you trying to cheer us up," Latios started out, smiling back at him, "but even then, your choice of music is rather... obscure, to put it lightly."
"You don't like it?" he muttered, looking like he was ready to tear up. "It just came to me..."
"Well, when you put it that way, it does explain the uniqueness of it—"
Deoxys quickly leaned in. "Yo, Latios, I'm all happy you're trying, and I'm letting you finish, but Cresselia has one of the best mood killers of all time." He then shrugged and ducked before the swan could reach over to (lightly) smack him.
There were a few snickers at the comment, but it did little for the group. Though it encouraged some to strike up conversations, they became too melancholic, so they retained their silence and just stayed close together. Mewtwo began noticing a familiar chill when everything quieted down, knowing Mew was feeling the same thing when her tail tightly curled around his.
And then at the point of exhaustion, when the morning couldn't get more gloomier with its threat of rain, they reached their destination. Much to their astonishment, the surrounding area was covered in crystal spires, looking much like how the campsite in Cherrygrove was. They flinched away like they were going to be bitten if they laid a finger on anything, huddling even closer and slowing down to cautious gaits. Murmuring amongst themselves, they pushed through to a clearing, jaws dropping and gasps of awe escaping out of impulse.
While the Tree itself looked like how it was prior to its destruction, even standing proudly against a landscape of mountains, it had a dark, twisted look to it. Thanks to the ubiquitous crystals, it held an eerie, ambient light like bloodshed instead of a peaceful, healthy green it once had. Whether or not it was because of the fog, the pathway to the Tree was uninviting, if not hazardous. The vegetation alongside of the trail looked normal, but a close inspection revealed a hint of sickness to them.
Darkrai's face contorted in horror once he assessed the area. "My God... the Sinjoh Ruins... It's gone. I-It's been overtaken by crystals."
Giratina swerved over to him. "This is impossible," he growled. "Where's the Mystri Stage? It's still here, isn't it?"
Everyone looked over to Mewtwo for the answer, whose hardened gaze never left the Tree. He gave his quiet response, pointing high above them, "It lies somewhere up there."
"What do you mean 'somewhere'?" the renegade snarled, squinting up at its height. "You don't know where the Heart is?"
"I'm sure there's a reason he doesn't know," Uxie said, floating up to his eye-level. "Just please, calm down."
"What do we do when we find it?" Heatran inquired of him. "We never did discuss it, did we?"
There was a moment's pause where everyone looked at one another quizzically.
"Well, for one thing, Mewtwo said the Mystri Stage was used to hold the Heart," Shaymin slowly mused. "Perhaps the Heart is removable?"
Mew shook her head. "It's stationary."
"Damn, there goes that idea," Lugia muttered.
"Wait, would removing the Heart kill the Tree?" Mesprit asked.
"Since when did we agree on killing the Tree? I thought this was a rescue mission!" Deoxys threw his hands up with a scoff. "Dammit, guys, I thought we covered all of this."
"You all can still stick with the rescue plan," the feline assured them. "Mewtwo and I will be the ones who'll do something about the Heart."
"You should have told us about this," the hedgehog sighed, shaking her head. "But no matter. Only a third of us are missing, I'm sure it won't take more than half of us to get them."
Most of them, after taking a good look at the Tree, glanced back worriedly. "It's pretty big," Latias squeaked, fiddling with her claws. "What if we get lost and are separated?"
"Or get caught or attacked, which potentially leads to our deaths?" Darkrai added, getting a small wary glare from Cresselia.
"And the moment we walk in, what if there's this ominous choir complete with those creepy instruments humans used greeting us, thus symbolizing our impending doom?" Everyone glimpsed over at Groudon with a look of dismay. He shrugged. "Just saying."
Giratina grunted, rustling his wings. "They have a point, most of them. Honestly, Shaymin, I think planning it out was a waste of time anyway."
"Can we just go-o-o already?" Zapdos moaned, trudging forward and dragging his sisters along. "The longer we stand here arguing about what to do, the easier it takes for them to find us—"
Suddenly, a beam of ice skimmed by his wing and ended up freezing a tree. With wide eyes, everyone watched as Regice loomed over a hill to peer down at them, the dots on his face flickering rapidly. "Trespassers detected!" he announced in a chillingly empty tone.
Articuno and Moltres screamed and yanked their brother back to the group. The others gaped as the ice golem raised his arms to power another attack. Regirock and Registeel were the only ones who dared to go forth. "Regice, what has gotten into you?" the ironclad Legendary questioned in a pleading manner.
The dots on his face gleamed when he turned to look at them. "You abandoned me, you all did!" He aimed the ice beam to encase their legs to the ground.
"We did not abandon you!" Regirock gasped, quickly pushing aside their predicament. "We were too weak, we had no choice but to retreat! But we would never leave you behind on purpose!"
"Believe us when we say we wanted to go back and get you!" his brother shouted out, gesturing to the group behind him. "They will testify of it if you will let us explain!"
"You do not care for us!" Regice snapped. "You left us to die, to be a slave forever!"
"What are you talking about?" Shaymin piped up. "Slave to what?"
"Do not play dumb with me!" He shot a ball of ice in the hedgehog's direction, though she jumped back in time. "Regigigas and I shall not let you pass!"
As if on cue, there was a rumble, and the gargantuan pushed past a tree, towering over them menacingly. Tilting his face down, he reached forward and made a grab for the nearest Legendary, who happened to be Latias. She let out a terrified screamed, her brother hurriedly snatching her by the arm to pull her away. Even if he hadn't, the giant wouldn't have touched her, as Groudon clutched at the out-stretched hand and wrestled it back.
"Think about what you're doing!" he growled through his teeth. "We're your friends, Reg!"
"You are no friends of mine," he rumbled, swinging his free arm to clobber him upside the head.
The titan stumbled along, landing on a group of spires with a hiss. Mew and Mewtwo lurched at a sudden wave of pain through their insides, losing their sense of balance. The clone managed to swallow down his bitter nausea, but his counterpart was too shocked to catch herself. The nearby Legendaries swerved around when they heard her vomit, eyes widening in terror at the amount of blood.
"Oh, good God!" Deoxys exclaimed, covering his face.
"...wha... what's happening?" she gasped, clutching her stomach. "M-Mewtwo..."
Shaymin, ignoring how ill she was feeling, quickly put two-and-two together and turned to the giant. "Groudon! Avoid the crystals!"
"Oh, like I didn't know that!" he spat out, lifting himself up. Glaring over at Regigigas, his eyes widened at the sight of the Colossal Legendary rushing toward him, rapidly spinning a limb around. "No-no-no-no-no—" The Dizzy Punch connected squarely with his jaw, knocking him back over.
Everyone struggled to remain standing from the tremor made, though the two partially-frozen golems were freed when the ice shattered. They hurried to help Groudon until Regice slid in their way. "Leaving so soon? I did not get a chance to say 'good-bye'."
Registeel moved to shake sense into him. "Regice, we are sorry for everything we have done to you, but this is going too far! It is almost like you want us to die!"
"That is the whole point." Shoving his hand into his face, he froze an encasing around his head, and pushed him back.
Regirock caught his brother, immediately working to chip off the ice. "Regice, snap out of it!"
"Fight me, brothers! Fight me, or perish with your friends!"
"Regice, Regigigas, don't! We're here to rescue you!" Latias shrilled out, struggling against her sibling's hold. "Come help us find the others!"
The ice golem looked over at the young dragon, a menacing sheen glinting on his body. "How cute, a rescue mission," he coldly growled. "I regret to inform you all that you came out of hiding for nothing. Legion gave us the command to kill on sight. But unless you surrender to us, then I might show a little mercy. Regigigas may not be that lenient."
She swiftly shook her head and fought some more. "Why aren't you trusting us?!"
"Latias, enough!" Latios shouted, shaking her. "It's no use, he's gone!"
"No! Regice is still there, I know he is!"
A chilling laugh escaped Regice. "Silly girl, you are starting to GET ON MY NERVES!" He shot a beam of ice out of his hands in the Eon dragons' direction.
Kyogre swooped in to block it with his fin. "This has gone on far enough!" he snapped. "You want a fight, I'll give you a fight!"
"Kyogre, ya damn fish, stay out of this!" his rival roared from the side, trying to fight off Regigigas and his confusion at once. "It's under control!"
Ignoring the titan's remarks, he turned to the others. "We have no time to stand around and gawk. I'll stay here and hold them off. You all go on ahead, I'm right behind you."
Latias opened her mouth to protest only to have her brother clamp it shut. "Let me help."
"No, protect your sister. I have Registeel and Regirock on my side, it shouldn't take long." He flashed a toothy smirk. "We'll be fine. Besides, you need to all be on higher ground anyway. I predict a flash flood on its way. Can't have you being swept away on my watch."
A few Legendaries flinched at the sudden crack of thunder, but more began to fidget when it started to rain. Shaymin found the will to hurry on down the path, glancing over at the whale. "Good luck, Kyogre, Golems... Groudon. Be safe."
Saluting with a fin, he added, "Godspeed, chief."
She smiled for a brief moment, then leered at the hesitant Legendaries. "What are you waiting for, an invitation? To the Tree!"
At once, they gave their comrades a quick grin and shouts of "good luck" as they hurried to the terrier's side. Regice moved to stop them until his oppressors stood in the way. Groudon had grabbed a hold of Regigigas' arms, snapping out of confusion with a smirk. As the rain intensified, he noticed the hiss of steam coming off of his body.
Though he rolled his eyes with a groan, he commented to himself, "Well, look at the bright side, the pain will keep me focused and pissed."
"You're welcome, buddy," Kyogre dryly answered before smacking the ice golem into a tree.
With a wicked smirk, the Continent Legendary aimed a Hyper Beam into the colossal's back as he tossed him a few yards. "Hey, how about I shine a little light here?"
"No good, Groudon, it was to be raining today."
"Screw you, I've made it sunny loads of times fighting you!"
"If this was me, it would have been flooded minutes ago."
Groudon quizzically glanced over at his rival. "Then... was that flood prediction a fake?"
"It better be." He hurriedly threw up a bubble of energy when Regice blasted a Zap Cannon, allowing it to be reflected off.
"What the hell does that me—" Regigigas tackled him to the ground and proceeded to punch him.
They felt the quakes of the battle behind them, but they dared not look back as they raced for the Tree. Mew kept her eyes open for any possible entrances, hoping its immune system hadn't been alerted. Luckily, she found a crystal-studded tunnel some yards off the path, and warned the others who were ahead to turn around. Even before they all arrived at the entrance, it was unanimous she would lead them through. After a brief explanation about the white blood cells' feral state, and a special request they all were to keep quiet the best they could, they continued on.
Every now and then as a sign the raging titans and golems were becoming increasingly more violent, there were echoes of rumblings and the tunnel would quake. At worst, the two mates would waver and feel nauseated, but they still advanced on. Cresselia and Mesprit worried over them more and more, wondering what they could do to aid them in their temporary illness.
"We appreciate it, but there is nothing you can do," the clone sadly said when it passed for the umpteenth time. "Let us just be thankful the entire Tree is not suffering. Otherwise..."
They shuddered at the thought.
The group limited the amount of times they entered open fields to only check for their missing friends, to see where they were, or if there was another tunnel they had to reach. It wasn't until Uxie pointed out the crimson glow steadily becoming brighter that Mewtwo remembered Legion's claim of the connection between the spires and himself. Upon out-right telling them the fact, the cross rants made him discouraged.
"Great, our cover's blown!" the alien scoffed, shaking his head. "You should have told us this, Mewtwo!"
"Keep your voice down!" Lugia hissed, smacking him.
"What's the point, everything's ruined!"
"It's not his fault!" Articuno came to Mewtwo's defense. "He's been through a lot, and he probably just figured this out!"
Zapdos flailed his wings in her face as he attempted to shush her. "Use your indoor voice, Art!"
"Then lower it to my tone of voice!"
"You sound like you've smoked all your life," Moltres smirked, elbowing him when he turned to glare at her.
Entei let out a loud gasp, earning him a lot of stares. "Zapdos, you've smoked?"
Suicune twitched. "Entei, until that blessed day comes when you can listen to what multiple people are saying at once, shut the hell up!"
Though taken aback by her snappish request, he took the time to think on it. "I don't think that's realistically possible to accomplish."
"I am this close to pushing you off a cliff in a desert wasteland—"
"Suicune, no death threats," Latios sighed. "You're just making things worse."
"Yeah, sis, you're making things worse!"
"I heard him!"
"What have I told you about keeping your voices down?" Mew stepped in, a little fidgety. "Can't you hear your voices bouncing off these walls? You're going to attract something!"
"Oh, I'm attracting something?!" she snapped, swerving her head around to glare. "You see these idiots here? They're apparently attracted to annoying others for the heck of it!"
The feline wrung her hands. "Suicune, it's not their fault," she whispered.
The beast snorted. "Yeah, like it was my fault Entei became this. You know, he used to follow orders very well, and he was capable of holding intelligent conversations and all that crap. Now he's become this blubbering idiot even after I took care of him for those godawful months!"
"Suicune, we can talk about this later—"
"You kidding?! This is the perfect time to get things off my chest since we're going to die anyway!"
Her brother started to tear up. "Y-You don't like me, sis?"
She leered at him from the corner of her eye. "I liked the old you! You were a great debater and powerful, tactical fighter, but now you're... this!" Slowly, she shook her head. "You're like that one clingy person everyone befriends because they felt sorry for them. Most of them get over that clingy stage overtime."
Everyone cautiously leaned in, holding their breaths. Some of them knew what she was talking about, though they held their tongues about it. The fire beast frowned some more, then pointed at himself. "Have I gotten over it?"
A vein throbbed in her temple. "Weren't you listening to a word I said?" she snarled. "See, this is what I'm talking about, Entei! You don't listen, not anymore! If only you hadn't made that turn, we wouldn't be having this argument, now would we?"
The two siblings stared each other down for a few moments until Suicune huffed, tossed her mane, and headed further down the tunnel. Entei remained glued where he was, eyes showing signs he was gazing off into space to push the awful feeling away temporarily, but he couldn't hide his sadness. Mew shivered where she was as did the other Legendaries, unsure what to do to lighten up the tension. Slowly, they followed after the North Wind, shooting the silent beast a sympathetic glance on passing. Latias moved to give him a hug, even encouraged him to continue walking. Deoxys, as much as he wanted to speak out about it all, possibly even tell off Suicune or crack a joke, decided to let it go, muttering to himself it wasn't worth it. (Cresselia patted him on the back much to the slight surprise of him and Darkrai.)
Not another word was spoken for the next few miles. Though the heavy atmosphere lingered on his shoulders much like with everyone else, Heatran couldn't shake off a different feeling. He had meant to bring it up shortly upon entering the tunnel, but kept quiet about it in the hopes it was a false alarm. The further they climbed, the more ill he felt. There was something very wrong about it all, he just couldn't figure out why.
Uxie happened to look behind him, taking notice of how slow he moved. "Hey, are you okay back there, Heatran?" he called out, flinching from the slight echo.
The Lava Dome Legendary waved an appendage. "I'll be fine, I prefer being in the back." He frowned and shuffled over to the wall, planting a foot against it.
Mesprit glanced over her shoulder at that moment, brows creasing in worry. She floated to her brother's side, grasping an arm. "Something's wrong," she muttered.
"Say what?" Deoxys grumbled upon passing, hardly looking at her.
"Something about a fog," Lugia responded, shrugging. "I don't get it."
"You two shut up and keep going," Moltres huffed, lightly pushing the sea guardian. "This tunnel's cramped enough as it is."
Suddenly, Heatran shoved her aside. The strength of the push took her and the on-lookers by surprise, she barely caught herself falling to the floor. Spinning around to yell at him, the phoenix ended up screaming at the sight of an orange Kabutops pouncing through the wall and landing with a squelch on him, right where she had been. The others either screamed as well, spat out curses, or advanced to help him, attacking the blob. Mew gasped and hurried over, fists glowing in preparation.
Heatran, as much as he struggled against the gelatin hold, vigorously shook his head. "No, get out of here!" he shouted. "Go get the others before they catch you!"
She punched a hole through the mass. "We're not leaving you, Heatran!" she exclaimed, grasping one of his horns. She let out a surprised yelp when the blob shot out to wrap around her wrist.
He immediately bit it off to free her and headbutted her aside. "It's too late for me! All of you, go, now!"
They watched in horror as he was swallowed into its depths, and it seeped deep underground. Hardly any of them found the will to cry out his name or even weep. Mew floated over the spot it disappeared, the power in her hands wavering. Clenching her fists tighter, she served around to face the petrified group.
"Why are you still standing around, run!" she demanded.
After a fidgety start, the Legendaries scurried down the tunnel the best they could. Lugia and Giratina stayed in the back to be less of a burden and to help be the blockades for any possible attack from behind. There were a few random ambushes, though they bombarded them with special attacks before they could engulf anyone else. Suicune, who was still in the front, nearly skidded to a halt at the end when she came upon a large fork in the road, leading to several different tunnels. With a push by Zapdos (more like a harsh jab), she headed for one, only to turn around to face the others.
"I think we'll have to separate!" she called out.
"No shit, Suicune!" Deoxys exclaimed, rushing by her to randomly enter the tunnel she was going in.
Latios quickly placed a hand on her crest. "Ignore him, it's just a rush of adrenaline."
She rolled her eyes, and huffed, "Sure it is." After one last glance behind her, she went ahead and ran down another exit. Tightly grasping his sister's hand, the dragon pulled her along, going after the alien.
Impulsively, everyone broke into small, random groups. Mewtwo moved for a far-off tunnel when a harsh tug in his chest brought him to a stop. Whirling around, his eyes caught an opening a few levels above them. Mew, due to her blasting apart a cell that moment, nearly bumped into him, and swerved past for a nearby entrance.
"Mewtwo, what are you doing, hustle!" she cried out.
Tearing away, he hurried over to take a hold of her hand and pulled her along. "I know a better way."
She frowned, shaking her arm free. "You don't know this Tree better than I do. That tunnel will take us to the Heart."
"You have not been physically inside the Tree as long as I have," he reminded her. "Let us go up there."
Mew hardly glimpsed at it. "Mewtwo, this is still the same Tree. I know every single passageway, secret tunnels, where the best spots are for sunbathing, anything you can think of. I know it all better than I do the back of my hand—which I admit is rather pitiful."
He raised a brow. "That was your Tree, this is Legion's Tree."
"And I'm telling you, that way will take us to the Heart without any problems!"
They glowered at each other for a moment before they saw a cell in the shape of an Omastar leap for them from a nearby ledge. Sweeping her close, he spun themselves out of its reach, and shot up toward the tunnel. It started to pursue them, scurrying up the wall and pouncing when it got the chance. He dodged it with ease, though he was nearly caught off-guard by two new cells exiting the tunnel without warning, extending out their elastic appendages for them on sight. He and Mew pushed them back psychically when they passed on through, the clone picking up speed in the hopes they would lose them.
Unfortunately, it seemed the Tree knew where they were at all times. They were ambushed at every inopportune time, slowing them down and tiring Mewtwo out. After one narrow escape following another, his counterpart slipped through his grasp and quickly scanned the walls, patting the surface all the way down its length.
"Myriam, what are you—?" he started to ask worriedly, then was cut off by a yank on his tail. Promptly, he sliced the blob's tentacle off, and hurried up to his mate. "We cannot stop, we must keep going!"
"There's something here, I know it," she muttered through her teeth, slapping her tail at a spot above her.
After blasting apart a cell with a Shadow Ball, he exclaimed, "We are being surrounded, Myriam! There is no time for goofing off, whatever you are doing!"
She shot him a look before making a frustrated grunt and zipping to the other wall. After several smacks, her heart jumped when her paw slipped through a spot with ease. "Mewtwo, in here!" she called him over.
He obeyed, and the moment he reached her, she shoved him into the hidden exit, and flew in after him, spotting him stuck between two crimson orbs carrying him up. "What was that for?!" he shouted, struggling to free himself. "You could have warned me!"
If the mood was a little different, Mew would be giggling at how cramped he looked. She just instead pounced onto a nearby sphere close-by, and scowled. "You're welcome, dear."
Letting out an exasperated sigh, Mewtwo sat up the best he could, trying to avoid scraping his head against the side. He scanned the numerous glowing globes around them. "What is this, anyway?"
"This is a vein, and these are the blood vessels, you can say. The cells won't get us here."
"Are you sure?"
She bit her lip, shifting her weight. "Not really... I never saw them enter here before, that I know of."
With a slow nod, he studied the orbs once again, taking notice of how rubbery and warm they felt, and the irregular closeness of them. "No matter... we are on a quicker route to the Heart, I have to admit. Good thinking, Myriam."
She gave him a smug grin. "Told you I know this place better than my hand."
He returned it, only to falter when he thought of the others' safety, wondering if they were having as much success as they were, if not better.