Aamira would never know how long she stood there with her arms around both Quill and Lucario, who were both looking slightly awkward, since they weren't used to Aamira showing her emotions so directly. She had stayed like that for a long time before she realized that Quill and Lucario weren't the only ones there.
After she finally released them, Aamira turned to Darkrai, but didn't dare meet his eyes. After all of the times she had accused him of being their enemy and doing whatever she could to prove it. Even so, she now realized the mistake she had made. Darkrai had been trying to stop Mew all along and when Mew had been disguised as Ralts, Aamira had helped to protect him.
"I'm sorry." Darkrai said, making Aamira jump.
She looked up at Darkrai and saw that he was extending his hand. She stared at him nervously, then after a short moment of hesitation, shook his hand. "I'm sorry too." Quill didn't see how she was able to bear touching Darkrai's hand when he himself had tried and felt that the coldness from it would burn him.
It happened the instant that Aamira took Darkrai's hand. 'I can't fight like this! Please, Darkrai. I can't even use Aura Sphere ever since Ho-oh gave me this scar. I'm sorry for everything I said before, but if either of us is going to make it through this, we need to do it. The moon is full; we can make the pact right now.'
Aamira pulled her hand away, immediately worrying that she might have insulted Darkrai by doing so, but he only seemed to be staring at her curiously. It took Aamira a second to realize what had happened. It had been so long since these thoughts from nowhere had entered her mind. She raised one of her hands up to her neck and felt that, sure enough, she was still wearing her scarf. After all of this time, it looked like she was finally able to use her Aura Reading abilities fully again.
'But I wonder why…' She thought to herself. 'From what I heard just now, I made that pact with Darkrai because I became unable to use my aura after Ho-oh gave me these scars. Becoming a Dark Reader was the only way I could control aura, even slightly. Even so…'
Aamira glanced down at her arm and nearly jumped when she saw that the scars had vanished. How had it happened? Something seemed to be nagging at her from somewhere in her memory, but she was having trouble willing it to the surface. Then it finally started to come back; a white dragon, the dragon's warm smile… But why couldn't she remember anything else?
"Are you alright?" Ruko asked. "You look shaken by something."
"No, I'm… just thinking." Aamira said.
A white dragon with blue eyes. She got a sense of what the voice had sounded like, but what had that voice said? That's right! She had said that Mew wasn't a bad pokemon and that Aamira had been carrying his treasure around with her. Could that be true? Aamira thought she would know it if she was. Slowly, the pieces started to come together.
"We have to find Mew!" Aamira said so suddenly that everyone nearly jumped.
"Why the sudden urgency?" Quill asked.
"He needs to know… something. What was it?" Aamira was started to get frustrated. It was better having her memory entirely erased. Having memories that only wanted to come back part way was torture. "He needs to know who I am. Or, who I was as a human. I think."
"You think?" Lucario asked. "You're not really giving us much to go on here. If you think it's urgent though, it's probably best to trust your judgment in this case."
"She's not entirely here, is she?" Hunter asked Ruko.
Ruko shook his head. "I'm afraid there may have been some damage, possibly reversible with time."
"Damage?" Aamira asked.
Ruko nodded. "When Mew caused you to toss aside your emotions, it caused your soul to shatter. Souls are the center of a person's aura. The energy contained within a soul is thousands of times stronger than any pokemon could wish to be able to control on their own. Putting something like a soul back together then isn't an easy task. All of the pieces are with you now, aside from the one which Darkrai still possesses, but they are still in shambles."
"This is the real Aamira this time, right?" Quill asked. "Not another split personality?"
"Yes and no." Ruko said while he tried to think of how best to explain. "Think of it this way. If you break a mirror, you can easily put the pieces back into place, but the cracks will remain. Fixing a mirror so that no cracks are visible is extremely difficult, but as long as the cracks exist in the surface, any image reflected in it would be distorted."
"So I'm a 'distorted image' of sorts of what I used to be." Aamira said.
"Do you remember what you saw when you were adrift inside the lake?" Ruko asked. "And do you feel at all peculiar the way you are now?"
"I was in some place that was really foggy, then there was this dragon pokemon, but other than that, I don't really remember much. As for how I feel now… I don't really know. It's really hard to describe, but it doesn't feel normal."
"As I expected." Ruko said. "Emotion, will, and memory are what hold together a soul. Since your soul is in shambles now, these things will likely be somewhat distorted for a while. My guess is that a strong enough resolve will help strengthen your will so that you won't want to stop in anything you find of great importance, but be careful all the same. I expect you two will keep an eye on her just in case?" he glanced over at Lucario and Quill.
"Of course!" Quill said. "Aamira would do the same if it was one of us instead of her."
"I… must apologize…" Hunter stepped towards Aamira warily. "I saw what that monster I had been hunting really was. Now I see why Ruko stopped me from chasing after you in the future, or, the alternate future, as it would be. There's a chance that if we go back that we could save you from that alternate personality of yours. Our world may be beyond repair at this point, but we could improve it greatly. I really should thank you for this. Just know that if anything happens and you don't have anyone else to turn to, that I will gladly fight along side you."
Aamira was somewhat taken aback by this. Unlike everything else, she could clearly remember coming across that other personality of hers. More than anything, she was just glad to know that she wouldn't become some evil-hearted monster. Probably. "Thank you, Hunter."
"We must be going." Hunter said. "You three go after Mew. Darkrai will show you the way into the dungeon beneath the lake. Ruko and I will head back to the forest. No doubt Lugia will want to know what has happened and the pokemon in the forest could most likely use our help."
"Hold on!" Lucario said just as they turned to leave. "I have to ask before you go. There's only one Ruko I know, and only one sword that I know like Amberwing. Are you… you couldn't be 'that' Lucario, could you?"
Ruko smiled slightly and took the amber sword from Hunter and hid it back inside his hollow cane. "You always were smart. If you wouldn't let bias cloud your mind, I daresay these two wouldn't have caught up to your Master Rank so easily. You always did have a habit for seeing what you wanted or expected to see. But yes, it is as you say, I am 'that' Lucario."
Aamira nearly ran towards Lucario, as he seemed to be about to collapse on the ground from shock. He managed to hold himself together enough to keep himself on his feet, at least, though he still needed a few minutes to think of what to say. "I ran, didn't I? I only thought I saw Mismagius… Because I expected it to happen, that's what I remembered."
"You finally understand." Ruko said.
"You could have helped us!" Lucario said. "You were my teacher, so shouldn't you have helped to fight Mismagius?"
It was then that Aamira understood. The Ruko they knew, being from an alternate future, seemed ancient to them. In their time though, he was a lot younger. This Ruko was in fact the king of Atra. Not only that, but also Lucario's father.
"I will explain everything. For now though, you must go find Mew. It is impossible to say what exactly Aamira saw while in the depths of the lake, but if she feels that finding Mew is a priority right now, there must be a reason behind it."
"There's a dungeon hidden near here, isn't there?" Hunter asked Darkrai. "Inside that dungeon, time moves the same as it would in the lake, so it's probably best not to spend too much time standing around."
Darkrai nodded and glided past all of them. He put his arm up to touch a certain point in space that rippled out in all directions. From the center of the ripples, a tear appeared in the air. Past it they could see a narrow passage that seemed to be suspended miles above whatever ground might have existed. If there was any ground, it was completely lost in the darkness.
"We will meet you back at the Sanctuary, provided everything goes well." Hunter said. "Good luck."
The three of them nodded and watched as Hunter and Ruko stepped through the faint multicolored mist surrounding the lake. The two of them vanished and Aamira turned back to Darkrai.
"I will stay here. If I were to go through the portal with you, you would have no way of getting back." Darkrai said. "You understand, don't you?"
Aamira nodded. "Don't worry. We'll definitely stop mew before he does anything he might regret."
The three of them hurried off into the passageway to the dungeon. They were surprised to see that the dark suspended passage wasn't as dark as they had originally seen. All around them were faint lights that looked a lot like stars, though it got progressively darker towards the ground until there were no stars left below them. Either way, the sky was lit up brightly as it was that seeing their way along the passage was no problem whatsoever.
Whatever doubts that Quill might have had about Aamira faded almost instantly. The second they entered the dungeon, she took off in the lead as naturally as she had ever done, defeating any of the pokemon that they came across.
One such pokemon that was extremely common was a species that none of them recognized. It seemed to be asleep and didn't seem to really bother them if they didn't get too close. It was pink and purple and was curled up in the air as it slept. There was something strangely like smoke that came from the top of its head.
"I wonder what that pokemon is called." Lucario said as they snuck by one, trying not to wake it. "It seems peaceful enough, but I wouldn't want to risk waking it up to ask."
"Musharna." Aamira said confidently without really knowing how she knew.
"Your Aura Reading ability came back to you so suddenly." Quill said. "Maybe it's just sort of going off randomly since you're not used to it now."
"Could be." Aamira said. She glanced down at her fur, which was still an odd, shiny color. Something so bright didn't seem very practical. She hoped that this was part of the after effect of being in the depths of the lake and that it would eventually fade. She wondered what other effects, aside from her sudden change in fur color and suddenly being able to read aura again being in the lake might have caused her.
As they got further into the dungeon, Quill noticed a sudden increase in the number of Vulpix. There had been quite a few of them on the way through, but the sudden increase was somewhat disturbing.
They had a very close call with one Vulpix which had snuck up behind Lucario. Before either he or Aamira could react, it had attacked with a powerful Fire Blast. Quill jumped between Lucario and the attack. He flared up the fire on his neck and lower back and with a sudden jerk of his neck, sent the Vulpix's flame off course to the left. He countered with his own Flamethrower, which was so strong that it sent the Vulpix running before it even hit.
"You just controlled the direction of the fire! Not only that, but it wasn't even your own fire. Where did you learn to do that?" Aamira asked.
"It was something I've been working on since arriving at the Sanctuary." Quill said. "I never had much luck with it, but I guess I've gotten better since I evolved."
Quill scratched behind his ear, trying not to act too embarrassed. "Well, I don't think it's that big of a deal, really. You should see Lucario's Dragon Pulse. It's much more impressive, I think."
"I learned Dragon Pulse as a replacement for Dark Pulse soon after I was freed from the scepter." Lucario explained. "I didn't like how Dark Pulse made it possible to lose control of myself at times, so I decided to stop using it. Thinking about it now, though, it would probably be a good idea to have a dark type move to deal with ghost and psychic types.
"We'll just have to make do for now." Aamira said. "I'll cover you with my Sucker Punch if I need to. I really would like to see your Dragon Pulse though."
She didn't have to wait long. Soon enough, Aamira was attacked by a Dragonair and Lucario immediately came to the rescue with his Dragon Pulse. With Dragonair's ability to fly, it was able to ignore the boundaries of the narrow path. In spite of this, Lucario was still able to pull off an impressive victory.
They continued to the heart of the dungeon without too much of an incident. There were a few times when they had nearly been knocked off the narrow path by sudden attacks from flying pokemon, but they were able to recover.
Up ahead they heard what sounded like a loud roar. Soon, a couple of figures fighting in the distance appeared. There was an area where the path gradually widened so it became as big as a good sized corridor in most normal dungeons. In the center of the path was a Riolu who was fighting off what must have been the largest Gengar that they had ever seen.
The Gengar glided around the platform, attacking the Riolu with every move it had. The Riolu, who had the same confident grin throughout all of the excitement, easily dodged every attack and was able to successfully counterattack once the Gengar became solid and came close enough.
They watched as the Gengar started to glow and transformed into a Garchomp, which flew at much higher speeds than the slow ghost pokemon. This, they figured, was Mew, constantly using Transform to try to throw off his opponent. Even so, the Riolu barely batted an eye as he adjusted flawlessly to the difference in speed and strength and knocked the Garchomp out of the air with a well-timed Aura Sphere.
Before Mew hit the ground, he transformed again. This time, he became a Houndoom. For the first time, the Riolu's smirk faded and he flinched slightly at the sight of his opponent. In this brief span of time, Mew managed to land an attack with Flamethrower. Riolu stumbled backwards, but managed to right himself again and attacked with Force palm. They saw the Houndoom's muscles seize up as it was paralyzed and it collapsed onto the ground. It started to glow again and this time transformed back into Mew. Aamira was only slightly surprised to see that Mew's fur color had changed as hers had.
"Heh! I told you that the mock power you have was nothing compared to the original!" Riolu said with a triumphant grin.
"You beat Mew…" Aamira said. "And you made it seem so easy."
Riolu looked in her direction and his grin widened. "Ah, so you're impressed? I suppose you'll want my autograph now, eh? It's to be expected, I guess; all of the girls back home were really impressed by my amazing skills."
Aamira looked too stunned to speak suddenly. It was as if someone had dressed up Machop as a Riolu and somehow bribed mew into losing a battle just to make him look good. Even so…
Riolu laughed. "I'm only joking! Honestly, I might look young, but I'm over three hundred years old. Three hundred and fifty two to be precise. Of course at my age there are much more important things to do than impress the girls. Besides… Ugh, if Arcanine had heard what I just said…" he seemed to become suddenly panic stricken and not at all like the confident and powerful Riolu from a few minutes ago.
"Do you ever stop talking?" Mew floated weakly into the air and seemed determined to continue their battle, even though he clearly didn't have the strength.
"Hey, you shouldn't move!" Riolu said. "You're too badly hurt to keep going. Come on, Mew. We were friends, weren't we? There's no reason for us to keep fighting like this."
"Mew." Aamira walked and stood near the other Riolu. "You knew me as a human, didn't you?"
"Ah, a human." Apparently he really didn't ever stop talking. "I thought there was something strange about you at first."
"You didn't notice the odd fur color?" Quill asked. He ignored this question.
Mew didn't seem to be too surprised to see Aamira here, though he seemed to still be thinking about how best to get out of this situation. One Riolu was bad enough, but with him and three more pokemon, there was no way he would get out of her without losing consciousness if he had to resort to fighting. Some ultimate power this had turned out to be.
"We… er, that is to say, I knew you back then. Sort of." Mew said. "You didn't like the life you had, so I offered a way out in return for your help. Of course, Darkrai was constantly interfering."
"In other words, I knew I probably wouldn't survive what you were trying to do, but agreed to help you regardless, is that it?" Aamira asked.
Mew nodded. "So don't go acting on regrets on your decisions now! It was your own fault that you erased your memory before you were supposed to!"
Aamira nodded. "I understand, but that's not exactly what I meant when I asked if you knew me. Ruko told me a while ago that according to the legend, I would carry around the treasure of the pokemon who would become our enemy. He also mentioned that this pokemon had a friend who was the only one he could ever turn to. I immediately thought it was Darkrai because I carried his Nightmare Gem and because of Cresselia, but he was referring to you. Shortly after he said this, he also returned a valuable possession of mine to me."
Aamira reached into her bag and pulled out the music box. She opened the lid and set it on the ground, letting it play on it's own as she spoke. "I don't know who this friend of yours was, but this music box was yours at one point, wasn't it? You gave it to that friend of yours."
Mew stared at the music box, his eyes somewhat glazed over and unfocused as if trying hard not to reflect on something that he wished he didn't have to remember. "It is my music box. I gave it to a human child years ago. Being a legendary pokemon, I easily lost track of time. I assumed by the time that I returned to her world that she would just be entering into adulthood, but more timed had passed than I realized. I don't know what happened to her, but I never saw her again. She said that she would return to that lake every day until I came back. I waited and waited, but she didn't return. Instead, you appeared years later."
"I appeared at the lake where you two met." Aamira said. "And I had this music box?"
"No, not right away." Mew said. "Darkrai and I both acted as guardians of sort who preferred to watch over you from a distance, though we ended up as rivals of sort in the end. We didn't officially meet until shortly before you left for Atra. You had two human friends who you had started to meet by that lake though. One day, you told them about a strange package that had shown up for you. There was no note or anything. Inside it was the music box that you now have. She must have sent it to you, for some reason."
"But you don't know why she left?" Aamira asked. "Or why she didn't try to find you?" Mew shook his head. Aamira couldn't even tell where this was leading, but she had the feeling that it was important. "I have an idea. I'll try using my Aura Reader abilities. Maybe that would give both of us some answers."
She knelt down next to her music box. She couldn't help but think of how ironic it would be if her abilities wouldn't work the one time she needed them to, when they had been going off so frequently just before. She touched the top of the lid and only had to wait a few seconds before she heard anything. Unlike other times when she had heard something like a thought, this time she got the feeling that the words that came were from a song. Listening carefully to the music box, she heard that it actually matched fairly well to the first part.
Once the song on the music box started to replay, Aamira sang along with it. "By the morning light, I'm gone, but never feel alone. Listen closely to the wind, it sings of the warmth it brings."
This was all that Aamira had heard, but as soon as she was done singing, Mew immediately picked up where she had left off. "Oh, sing for me now my brave hero as your flames shine through the dominion of ice. Oh, sing for me now, brave hero and dragon of white."
Aamira suddenly remembered a dream that she had had so long ago. In it, she had been a baby Riolu, barely a hatchling, held in the arms of a Lucario who she assumed was supposed to be her mother. The presence of the music box in that dream led her to believe one thing.
"I think your friend was an adult by the time you came back to the human world. I think she might have been my mother."
Mew seemed to really look at Aamira for the first time. His ears fell slightly as he realized the sudden possibility. Although he had expected that she would have grown up, somehow he kept picturing his human friend as the child that she had been back then and never would have imagined that she had actually gotten married and had a child of her own.
But now he realized, it really did make sense. Aamira was an Aura Reader and so was his friend. The abilities of an Aura Reader worked differently for humans than it did for pokemon; they could only be passed down through the family, usually only to the youngest sibling, though he didn't understand how that could work.
"I didn't know…" he said. "I couldn't have know… I'm so sorry… But I was convinced… That pokemon who told me about the curses of Uxie, Azelf, and Mesprit was always reliable in the past. She said it had to be an Aura Reader…"
Mew seemed to have suddenly come to a horrible realization, though when Aamira tried to question him on what it was, he clammed up and refused to speak. He wouldn't even tell him what kind of pokemon it was that gave him the advice to try to undergo these curses. All he would do is mumble something about someone who was up ahead of here.
"Should we keep going?" Lucario asked.
"We should." Aamira said. "I don't think that Mew was the one to blame for anything that's happened before. He was just being used as a puppet for someone else. I don't know why, but we have to find out. It can't be that they're up to anything good."
"Maybe this has something to do with your mother then? And your whole past by extent?" Quill said. "I know it sounds weird, but that's really the only thing connecting you and Mew. Maybe if we find the real culprit, you'll finally get a few answers about your past."
Aamira didn't answer right away. She just didn't know how. Being torn between her dreams and nightmares about memories that might not even be real, and spending all of this time with her present life conflicting with her forgotten past. Maybe it was important for her to know, but after a while she managed to make up her mind about it. "I don't want to remember. Just meeting that monster that was made from my old memories told me all I need to know about my past. Although… I guess there must have been some good details, as heavily outweighed by the bad as they may have been. I'd like to know more about my past, but remembering entirely is something I don't think I would ever wish for again."
"Well, let's get going then!" Riolu said, and was returned with some confused looks from his new allies. "Aw, come on! I'm on the same mission you all are on. I want to find the pokemon who tricked Mew as much as you do!" His voice trailed off and it was hard to hear what he said, but it sounded like he was saying that he had a good idea of who it might be. "Besides, two friends of mine have already gone off ahead."
"If you insist…" Aamira said.
"Geez, you're too serious! Lighten up a little, will you? I mean, I know you're not my direct descendant or anything, but I'd hate to grow old and die thinking that all Riolu of the future will spend all of their time acting like you and the other fellow!" He ran off ahead of them before any of them could reply. It took a few minutes to click, but Lucario managed to be the first to figure out who this newcomer was.
"He said his girlfriend was an Arcanine, didn't he?" Lucario said. "Come to think of it, it was the same for the first Riolu, who was created by Uxie, Azelf, and Mesprit. And what he said earlier about the false power Mew had gotten not being as good as the real thing…"
Quill let this sink in for a moment. He suddenly remembered why that Typhlosion from the vision that Darkrai had shown him had looked so familiar. What were the odds, from the time of the first Aura Reader and Guardian pair, that they would be a Typhlosion and a Riolu and after who knows how many years later, he and Aamira would form a team together.
"We should get going…" Quill finally said. "He's almost out of sight already."
It only took one attack from some strange, furry, bat-like pokemon to put them entirely out of sight of Riolu. Seeing as how they still had the same number of allies as before and that Riolu was already so strong on his own, neither of their groups had really lost much from their untimely separation. Seeing as how they were both traveling with the same goal in mind, they would probably meet up some time later.
Eventually they came across something that didn't seem to belong at all. It looked like some sort of gateway, but the elaborate frame on it reminded them of the Looking Glass. There was no path beyond here. Stepping through it would probably transport them somewhere entirely different.
"Are you ready for this?" Aamira asked both of her teammates. The two of them nodded, though they both looked uneasy. She wondered if she looked as uneasy as they did, but figured it didn't matter much.
Aamira stepped up to the iron gate, which swung open the second she touched it with one of her paws. It felt like they were taking a leap of faith, stepping through a gate onto a path that they couldn't see, but they went through regardless. Was the floor invisible, or was there really no floor? Whatever it was, they really were able to walk past the gate. Quill turned as he walked through it last to find that the gate had vanished behind them.
"Where are we?" Quill asked.
"I have a feeling I've been here before…" Lucario said.
Aamira wasn't listening. Up ahead was a pokemon who looked vaguely familiar, although not exactly how she had remembered him looking from before. His claws had gotten much longer and he now had dark brown spikes covering his back in place of the sandy colored brick pattern and partially concealing the scars he got from when Honchkrow had attacked him. Apparently evolution did nothing to get rid of them.
"Sandshrew?" Aamira said. "Or, Sandslash, as I assume you would go by now?"
Sandslash's ears twitched and he turned to face Aamira. He looked as though he had been crying, but he glared ferociously at the three of them nonetheless.
"What are you doing here?" He demanded in a less than steady voice. "You weren't supposed to be the ones to come here. How is it that you're all still alive?"
"Don't tell me, you've been the one behind all of this from the start!" Quill said. "I know you had your reasons for your betrayal, but I just couldn't accept it if it was really you right from the beginning. There's just no way!"
"And why's that?" Sandslash demanded. "Because I was too small and weak before? Because I couldn't see? Because—"
"Because you weren't that kind of person!" Aamira interrupted. "And I don't think you are now either. What are you doing here?"
Sandslash seemed to be glaring at them more ferociously than before. "That's none of your business!" He said with an angry wave of one of his claws. "Just get away from here now! You're not supposed to be here!"
In spite of the bravado he was trying to put on, all of them noticed as he suddenly started to shake. Something told them that he wasn't here of his own free will. Whatever it was that was keeping him here had obviously frightened him.
"Oh come now, Sandslash, dear." The three of them turned to the voice of the new pokemon who had appeared. It was probably one of the most beautiful pokemon that any of them had ever seen. She was a Ninetales, though she didn't look like others they had seen. Her tails were much longer than an average Ninetales' and her fur had this strange ghostly blue glow. "Is that any way to welcome our guests? They're here now, so we might as well allow them to wait here with us."
"You're that Ninetales from the lake!" Quill blurted out without thinking.
She stared at him for an uncomfortably long amount of time before finally replying. "So Darkrai showed you the vision of his creation, did he? Yes, I tried to warn those foolish legendary pokemon to stop what they were doing. They just wouldn't listen, however, and it cost us our home."
"Is that why you're doing this?" Lucario asked. "You want revenge on the legendary pokemon for driving you away from your home?"
Ninetales laughed and sat on the ground in front of them. "Oh, don't be ridiculous!" She flicked the end of one of her tails in Aamira direction and Aamira's bag immediately started fighting to pull free from around her neck. Aamira pulled on it has hard as she could, but eventually the thing that Ninetales was trying to pull out came loose from the bag and flew in her direction. She looked up at the beat up old diary, flipping a few pages and shaking her head, disappointedly. "My granddaughter didn't do well to keep this book in good condition, it seems. Such a pity; I had written down all of the great events of the world in this book."
"You're her grandmother who wrote the diary?" Aamira asked. "But you look so… young!"
"Yes, well that is the effects of one who spends their life raised on the spring of immortality. Though, to be completely truthful, we weren't supposed to drink from that spring constantly as I did. Ah, I remember when I was just a little thing, the elders would be so furious whenever they caught me drinking the water when I wasn't supposed to. I assure you, I do age, unlike my lord, though at a very slow rate."
"You mean there's someone else you're working for?" Lucario asked.
"No, wait. You mean the Vulpine Lord, don't you?" Aamira asked. "Since you were alive back then, you must have met him in person. I know you said he didn't age, but don't you think that's just a little disillusioned? No Ninetales has seen him since he left the lake, right? He probably died a long time ago."
"Oh, don't be so foolish!" She said angrily. "He is truly immortal. I should know, as I was the one who told him the secret of our lake long before he was ever put in charge of our noble clan! I work for him even now. Just as you had, before your betrayal."
"What!" Aamira said.
"Don't listen to her." Quill said. "She's probably just trying to unnerve you. Even so, I think she really does know something about your past, even if she's not going to tell us the truth willingly."
"Me, lie?" Ninetales said, acting as if she was absolutely offended by this. "I will have you know, I have never lied in my long life. I was once called Silvertounge by my clan. Not because I lied, but because of my fantastic abilities of enhancing the truth. Of course, anyone who read my diary would think that I was really no more than an old scribe, traveling the world and recording events of what happened. Just because I left out the small parts I played, does that mean I lied about them? I should think not. Nor do I lie now. And you should know, aside from waiting for Atra's prince to show up, I'm also under orders to bring you back home. You've jeopardized an extremely important mission by your betrayal, only adding to my workload."
"But the prince of Atra…" Aamira glanced in Lucario's direction, but quickly looked back towards Ninetales, hoping she hadn't noticed.
"Oh, not him!" Ninetales said. "You should know by now that the true heir of Atra can only be a true Aura Reader. Someone with half an Aura Reader's aura wouldn't fit the position at all! Yours comes close, of course, although there were much greater plans created concerning your future, which I doubt you remember now."
"How do you know about my amnesia?" Aamira asked.
"Oh, my lord has known for quite some time." She said with a grim smile. "He's been keeping a close watch on you ever since Atra. He's been following your movements all along. But never mind that. Your friends there are useless to our plans. Maybe watching them suffer will help you remember your place. I'd advise you to not do anything rash, or you will only end up getting hurt as well."
"Is that a challenge!" Quill shouted, making the fire flare up on his neck and back.
"Oh and when did I say that I would be the one fighting you?" She said with a sly smirk. "Oh Arceus, dear. Please get rid of Aamira's meddling friends for me, will you?"
They heard Sandslash shriek from behind them and turned to see an enormous pokemon materializing right in front of their eyes. Everything about this pokemon seemed to radiate power. The three of them got an overwhelming feeling that they should run, but their sudden fear kept them held in place, barely able to move.
Arceus roared and a variety of plates appeared and started to circle around him at his waste. They had never seen anything like this. Aamira remembered a little about the legend involving Arceus creating the entire universe, but her memory, being worse than usual, didn't do much to help them. This was no doubt going to be one of the most challenging battles they had ever faced.
Arceus swung his head through the air and attacked the three of them with Draco Meteor. Finally coming back to their senses, they all counterattacked; Aamira with Aura Sphere, Quill with Flamethrower, and Lucario with Dragon Pulse.
Arceus ran circles around them and attacked with Extremespeed. Lucario nearly had all of the wind knocked out of him, as he took the brunt of the attack. While he was distracted, Quill countered from behind with Flame Wheel.
Arceus roared in pain and the plates surrounding him spun even faster than before. They all started to glow a dazzling white color and he attacked with some sort of beam attack. Aamira remembered now that Arceus had the special move, Judgment, which changed type depending on Arceus's types. The plates, she assumed, were what controlled his type. Right now, he hadn't really tapped into their power, so it was only a normal type attack. Even so, Quill was right in the path of the attack. Before the attack could land, Aamira ran out in front and blocked it. While it did a lot of damage, it did less to her than it would have to Quill due to her resistance to normal type attacks.
Arceus seemed to notice the flaw in this. The plates continued to spin until they came to a stop with a sky blue colored plate directly above Arceus. He started to glow and all of the rings and the skin on his stomach turned a pale blue color. Aamira had a bad feeling that this was the plate that turned him into a flying type. This was DEFINITELY going to be one of their most difficult battles.
What attacks between them did they have that were good against flying type attacks? Aamira couldn't think of any. Even so, they continued to hit Arceus with every attack they had. Eventually, Arceus used Judgment once more, this time aiming for Aamira. It was Lucario's turn to intercept the attack. Luckily, because he was part steel type, it didn't do as much damage to him as it would have done to Aamira. This, they assumed, seemed to make Arceus even more enraged.
The plates started to spin faster around him again, this time coming to a stop with a bright red one at the top and his markings turned a bright red to match it.
"I have an idea, but it's risky!" Aamira said between Arceus's attacks. "What if we can knock one of those plates out of its orbit around Arceus?"
"That's insane!" Quill said, though he smiled. "What's the plan?"
"We need to combine our attacks and time it for right after the plates stop spinning after he uses Judgment. If we all use our strongest attacks, it's sure to work."
"Aim for the dragon type plate." Lucario said. "I'm not sure if types work the same way with these plates as they would with pokemon, but if I combine my Dragon Pulse with your Sucker Punch, which will, as you said a while ago, raise my attack, it should make it a lot more powerful. Combined with Quill's strongest attack…"
"Eruption!" Quill said. "I've combined Eruption with Sucker Punch before. With this combo, we can't lose!"
"Alright, timing is everything!" Aamira shouted as she dodged one of Arceus's Draco Meteors. "Just before the plates stop, we have to attack, but only if they stop on the dragon one."
"But which one's dragon?" Lucario shouted back.
Aamira attacked with Aura Sphere will looking at all of the orbiting plates, trying desperately to remember which was which. "That one! The sort of dull red colored one!"
Lucario and Quill nodded and attacked from all sides, trying to get Arceus to use Judgment one more time. Unfortunately, before they could get him to do it, he turned on Lucario and attacked with Overheat. Quill and Aamira were too far away to come to his rescue and Lucario was just recovering his footing from a tricky maneuver he was forced to make to get his attack to hit and couldn't dodge in time.
Quill and Aamira heard a loud shriek, but it didn't sound anything like Lucario's voice. They waited for the flames to vanish to see what had happened. Lucario had apparently been pushed out of the way by the Riolu who stood there now, doubled over with pain and covered in burns.
Aamira and Quill rushed to Riolu's aid, but he had already lost consciousness by the time he got there.
"There's no time!" Lucario hastily got back to his feet. "Look!"
They looked up at Arceus, who was preparing to use Judgment again. Quill tried to slow the attack down by controlling Arceus's flames, but against a pokemon like this, it was no good. The best they could do was hastily grab the unconscious Riolu and get out of the way as fast as they could, with Quill staying behind to act as their shield.
Lucario sat Riolu down off to the side so that he wouldn't likely be hit a stray attack and hurried forward to join Quill, who was just pulling himself together from that attack, and Aamira who had already run back to where they had been standing moments before.
The plates had already started to spin rapidly again. Apparently Arceus felt that he needed a really powerful move this time, because just as they had planned, it started to come to a stop on the dragon type plate. Mustering every bit of strength they had left, the three of them attacked with their combined attacks. Aamira attacked first and Lucario attacked second to give Lucario's attack the full benefit from the power boost. Quill attacked last since his Eruption took longer to charge up and gave it a final boost of power as their attack flew towards Arceus.
Their attacks hit the dragon plate, which, after a few seconds of their attacks pushing against it, was knocked out of the orbit and thrown at least two hundred yards away. This had apparently caused a sort of chain reaction, because with the dragon plate gone, the other plates fell out of their position. Arceus had started to feel the effects of their other attacks without his plates to give him strength, and tried to hold himself up with his knees. Only moments later, however, he had collapsed, apparently unconscious.
"NO!" Ninetales shouted, suddenly sounding so much older than she had before. They were all hit with a powerful Extrasensory and thrown back almost to where Riolu was still laying unconscious. "This is impossible! How could you… you CHILDREN defeat Arceus!"
Aamira was cringing from pain, much like Lucario and Quill were, but either she was imagining it, or it didn't hurt as much as it should have. In fact, if anything, she suddenly felt stronger than before. She glanced down to her wrist, which still had her Ravage ring on it. She never took it off, so it was no wonder why she had forgotten about it until now.
Ninetales walked closer to them, seemingly expecting them all to be out cold. "I'll just have to finish off her friends myself." Ninetales inhaled and started to glow, apparently about to use an Overheat of her own.
Before she got her chance though, Aamira was back on her feet and had attacked with Sucker Punch. Her attack, however, hadn't done as much damaged as she had hoped and Ninetales hadn't even been knocked off of her feet. She was getting ready to use another attack already, but by this point Aamira was exhausted and was desperately trying to find a way to end this quickly, but how?
At that exact moment. Ninetales was knocked back by a powerful gold and silver Aura Sphere. "Aamira! Catch!"
Aamira turned to see Roy, throwing something large and metallic in her direction. She caught it and was surprised to find that she was now holding the Aura Scepter. Where had Roy found it? How did he even get here? It didn't matter. All that mattered was that she had it now.
Aamira ran towards Ninetales just as she was getting up and brought the end of the Aura Scepter down on her shadow. She shrieked and immediately started to be drawn into the Pure Quartz at the top, though she was putting up much more of a fight than Mismagius had evidently, since even by using her own aura to help her, Aamira was having difficult preventing Ninetales from escaping.
Her consciousness was starting to slip. There was no way she would be able to keep a hold of Ninetales for much longer. Luckily, she suddenly wasn't the only one holding onto the Aura Scepter. Roy had appeared at her right and Lucario had appeared at her left, though he seemed to he struggling to stay on his feet.
Ninetales seemed to realize that she had met her match up against the three of them and that her psychic attacks wouldn't work on Aamira. She realized though that even though she couldn't move much more than just her face, she was still capable of attacking.
She opened her mouth and Attacked with Overheat, only to find that for some reason it wouldn't reach their target. All it accomplished was tiring her out even further. She looked past her three foes to find that standing behind them was a Typhlosion and Aamira's Quilava friend, both glowing brightly with their flames suddenly turning a blue color. So they had somehow managed to control her own fire and shield their friends.
"No, it can't end like this!" She howled and she was nearly entirely drawn into the scepter. "Please, my lord! Help me!"
But no help ever did come. Ninetales vanished inside the Pure Quartz, which continued to glow faintly before finally fading. All five of them collapsed from exhaustion, but the Typhlosion stood up instantly and ran over to Riolu.
"Young master!" He shouted. "Are you alright?"
Riolu had just regained consciousness and was staring up at Typhlosion's sad eyes. He gave one of his signature goofy smiles, which did nothing to reassure his friend. "What's the matter, Giga? We beat her didn't we? Although I thought for sure it was that Houndoom…"
"Please, don't talk. You need to save your strength." Giga said.
Riolu laughed. "Oh come on. It's not like I'm actually dying. I won't die until we get back to our own world. I've known it was coming for a while now, but I didn't know how exactly. All of those times you tried to teach me that being a hero didn't always mean taking all the glory, I never really understood. I think I understand now. I might not have played a big role, but that Lucario was pretty worn out from battling, wasn't he? Up against that Overheat, he probably wouldn't stand much of a chance. I'm glad I could do something to help, even if it was as small as becoming a shield."
"Even so, you agreed to battle Houndoom the moment we returned. Are you seriously saying that you're still going to go in this state, knowing you won't survive?"
Riolu nodded. "I've been waiting for it for a while. I'm glad I got to meet some of my descendants first. Unfortunately, I'm not going to live to see any of my own children hatch. Either way, I'm glad I had some impact on the things that have happened, in multiple times. Thank you for always taking me with you, Giga. I know I got annoying at times. You're the best partner I could have hoped for, and not just because you're an Aura Guardian. I know it sounds kind of cheesy, but you're my best friend too, so don't put that flame of yours out with your tears, okay?"
To their surprise, Giga actually gave Riolu a quick slap across the face. "You idiot! As if I was going to cry for an annoying pest like you! Stop making things sound so over dramatic!"
Riolu laughed, but didn't say anymore. He stood up shakily on his feet, so they could all see the real extent of his burns. To think he would go into battle like this was unthinkable. A second later though, Giga had started to glow.
"Oh, Aamira!" Riolu shouted. "I really am sorry about how I acted earlier. I just remembered that it made you really upset the first time we met, even though that hasn't technically happened yet. I thought it would be funny. Anyway, I hope you stay good friends with that Felix fellow, if you've met him already. Remember not to wander around after dark when the moon is visible!"
"Hurry!" Giga shouted. Riolu grabbed his hand and started to glow along with him. The next second, both of them had vanished.
"I had always wondered how it happened." Lucario said. "The first Riolu's story was famous in Atra. He valiantly defeated his arch enemy, Houndoom, every time they fought. Even so, he ended up dying in their final battle. Now I see it was because they came to our time to help us. He saved my life and he's going to die because of it."
"Don't say that; he's technically already dead, isn't he?" Aamira said. "Besides, if they can go through time all they like, it's not as if we might not meet again. The way he spoke before clearly seemed to suggest it. Maybe next time we'll be of some help to him."
"It was him!" Quill said excitedly. "My ancestor who became part of the tree back in Vine City was Giga! He was Celebi's guardian, which was why they could travel through time, that must be it!"
"Both of our ancestors working together, huh?" Lucario said. "I wonder if something like this could have happened by coincidence."
They both turned to the sound of some loud crying. Sandslash was hugging his brother tightly while Roy was doing his best to comfort him. Apparently he had gotten himself into more trouble than he had expected and in the end he ended up being threatened by Ninetales. If his crying was one thing, they had been drowned out by the multiple apologies.
Aamira stood up shakily and picked up the Aura Scepter. "I'm guessing that Ninetales was controlling Arceus before, which was why he had gone mad and attacked us. Being trapped inside here should have broken her control over him though. We'll have to find someone to guard this for us. Before that though, let's go back to the Sanctuary. I could do with a little rest."
Lucario and Quill nodded in agreement. Roy and Sandslash agreed to go along, though only because Roy had insisted that no one would blame Sandslash for anything he had done before. More than anything, they were all just glad that after all of this, they were finally going to have some time to relax. For everything they had done, it was the only reward they could have wished for.