Back by popular demand!
Yes... this is volume 8 to the Inheritance series. I know I said it was the end but then... well the story was still unfinished. So after a (rather long) hiatus I have returned with a new story and new characters (as well as old familiars). This story carries on from the last volume so if you're a newcomer to the series I apologise but this is going to get rather confusing... but fear not it will all be explained (somewhere down the track).
Regardless, sit back and enjoy the new volume!
Volume 8: Ties That Bind
Sometime in the future…
The broken landscape stretched out into an endless night. A lonely moon hung by its last thread, a silent witness to the horrors that had unravelled that eventful day. Ideals ripped in two, dreams shattered and people's lives – the few remaining – thrown into utter disarray. The day the world ended...
Two teenagers silently hurried on through a deformed forest, hearts racing, limbs burning and lungs screaming for air. But still they pushed themselves onward. They wouldn't stop… couldn't. They had to keep moving, knowing that stopping meant the end. There would not be another chance. Not after what they had already done.
"Silver! They're getting closer!" daring to glimpse over one shoulder the girl of sixteen shrieked.
Her companion however said nothing. His head down and his breathing laboured he focused on the task at hand. Time was already not on their side, so the last thing they needed was holdups.
That was what he kept telling himself. Truth be told, he couldn't hear them. Where the forces of life should have filled his psy-senses he felt nothing. Just a black hole of nothingness. And it scared him.
"Rei, stop looking behind! Keep running!" his haggard order alerted his girl companion back to the task at hand.
But she was just too distracted. Too afraid. Her foot caught a tree root and before she knew it she was toppling forward in a slow motion dance to catch her balance. Gravity won and she hit the ground with a rolling thud.
"Rei!" Silver immediately skidded to a halt, barely avoiding the same fate as he tripped over her long legs.
The girl was beyond exhausted. She simply lay there on the ground, heaving and harking for air.
"Rei!" still the boy urged. "Get up! We need to move!"
It was the gleaming, red eyes that caught Silver's attention first. Dozens of them watching them through the darkness they'd just come from. Then glinting under the moonlight, white teeth and bone that protected their bodies and made them look like the very hounds of hell. Houndoom. An entire pack of them captured and trained to the peak of their ability in the service of the king.
The hairs on the back of Silver's neck stood on end. They were like ghosts… no… even ghosts had a presence. These creatures where just empty. Black holes that defied all laws of the psychic mind. Silver forced down a swallow despite his throat being bone dry. There was no way he could defeat them, not even Rei would stand a chance.
The girl had pulled herself to her knees, her face now drained of all colour. Her lips formed words of terror though she said nothing. This was it… it was over. The end of the road before it had even begun.
They'd tried but failed.
The leader of the pack stepped forward. Standing at least a foot taller than his companions, the Houndoom greeted the teenagers with a snarl. If they so much as twitched he would be on them. A single Faint Attack and a Flamethrower all it would take to bring them down.
No one was prepared for the giant Thunderbolt. Ripping up the forest and striking the pack head on, the air was suddenly filled with the snap of electricity and shrieking yelps. So bright the spectacle, the youths could do nothing but cower behind the safety of a tree, until finally the attack ceased and there was silence. The stench of cooked fur made the teens want to puke but still they dared peer out from behind their hiding place. Not a single dog had been left standing. In fact in their place now stood a Pikachu, watching them with great intent. With a torn ear and several shrapnel scars across its face there left no doubt as to what the Pokémon had gone through... and survived.
"Are you two ok?" a voice sounded and the teens spun to face a man in his thirties watching them with eyes of urgency. His ash black hair and stubble to match did little to hide his scars. The same sort of scars his Pikachu possessed. They were lucky to be alive.
"Fine," replied Silver with a curt nod.
"This way," allowing the Pikachu onto his shoulder the man signalled them forward. "We're almost there."
Despite their screaming legs and burning lungs they continued to run, whether it was for hours or minutes Silver wasn't sure. He'd long lost all track of time. Eventually however the man indicated for them to slow down where the forest stopped short of a cliff.
Silver's eyes caught the horizon; the moon was setting, casting shadows of a pointy and jagged graveyard – the broken ruins of what was once Castelia City.
"How much longer do we have?" the man's voice broke Silver from his gaze and it was then that he registered the presence of two more figures- another man and a teenage girl with brilliant, red hair.
"A few minutes," the other man didn't take his eyes off a strange looking device in his hands. Blue numbers counted backwards on its display as he hovered over the edge of the cliff. His girl companion watched him carefully from her position further in from the ledge. She stood close to a Charizard under the light of its flaming tail that brought out the red in her hair. Legendaries, she looked so familiar. Silver found he couldn't take his eyes off her. There was something about her... a connection... he could feel it.
"Who are you?" his brow furrowed. "How do I know you?"
The girl gave him a gentle smile that sent shivers up his spine. "My name is Scarlett. You won't remember me but I've been looking for you since I was young."
"Silver, I think someone is coming," Rei's tug at his arm broke him from his gaze and all heads snapped around to spot the four Human shadows emerge from the forest.
Three were dressed as ninjas and then the fourth - their leader - stood with the serene stare of a sage. The spitting image of his father, it would come as no surprise that there had been no mother involved in his creation.
"N!" The man with the Pikachu immediately spat, his voice full of poison. The Pikachu on his shoulder started to spark, ready for his command, but instead he chose to direct his words to Team Plasma's leader. "Let them go, N."
The man with teal green hair simply shook his head. His arms and hands were covered in bandages, though they'd been sloppily wound so that one could see the patches of skin where he'd been burned horribly.
"It is not my place to grant them that favour, Ash. You know that. These kids belong to the New Order."
"They belong to no one!" This time it was Scarlett who joined in. "They're not slaves!"
But N had to sneer at this, "Can you honestly say the same about your Pokémon?"
"Haven't you done enough already?" the man named Ash spread his arms wide. "You've destroyed… everything."
Ash's words seemed to make an impact on the leader as his eyes suddenly became downcast. But soon after a determined glare swept over his face. "For us to move forward… to change… sacrifice is… necessary. One day you will understand."
A single flick of his hand was all it took for his triad friends to step forward. Silver immediately straightened. Oh he knew what to expect from them. They were his teachers after all, and they were masters in the art of fighting.
Ash's Pikachu didn't hesitate. Leaping from his shoulder it landed evenly between the two groups, hackles raised and teeth bared into a dangerous snarl. Scarlett's Charizard followed suit, instinctively pushing the Humans behind it.
The triad stepped up to meet them, not a single Pokémon on hand. No, they didn't need Pokémon, not when they had other methods up their sleeves.
"Silver," Rei cast him a glance and he nodded in reply. He knew as well as she that this was their battle. They took their places on either side of the Pokémon.
N let out a leer. "You cannot defeat me, you know that, Silver."
But the teenager could only scoff. "You not only have us to get through but you're also up against a Champion's Pikachu. I'll let you do the math."
Team Plasma's King knew he had a point. He rocked back on his heels, his uncertainty once again taking over as was always his weakness. "You've betrayed the Kingdom, Silver. You're a traitor to the order and traitors must be dealt with."
"Your so called 'order' ceased when you destroyed half of Unova, your Majestry," Silver spoke his master's title with a sneer. And suddenly he was no longer that shy little boy who had come to their kingdom those years ago.
"I see," N's serene head fell, as if to be hurt by Silver's words. "You are everything your parents had hoped you'd become."
"And what do you know about my parents?" Silver snarled but was cut off by a countdown coming from behind.
"Five, four, three," ignoring the standoff, the man with the device counted. "...two, one..."
BEEP BEEP BEEP! Its high pitch wail sounded across the clearing before at once it shot out a brilliant ray of blue light out over the cliff. All figures spun and stepped back at the spectacle before them. It expanded, twisting and spiralling, forming a whirlpool of light and super charged electricity.
Silver vaguely registered the King's reaction. What was this?!
"We only have a twenty second window! We need to move!" The man with the device signalled the kids forward.
"No! After them!" N made his attempt at stopping them but the Pokémon blocked his path.
Silver soon found himself on the edge of that cliff, gazing down into a twisting whirlpool and through it a window... into another place... another time.
"Just close your eyes and jump!" Ash ordered from behind them.
"I'm afraid!" Rei's terrified eyes met Silver and he grabbed her hand.
"Come on Blue. We can't look back now. One, two...Jump!" He didn't hesitate. It was as though his legs were loaded with springs and he plunged off that cliff, taking his companion with him.
The whirlpool of light and energy swallowed them up and they vanished.
"Come on! It's already starting to close!"
Back on the cliff the battle was already beginning to get out of hand. N's Triad fought relentlessly against Charizard and Pikachu. Moving quickly to avoid the onslaught of Pokémon attacks they had little chance to throw out an attack of their own.
"Pikachu, Charizard, pull back!" Ash barked, grabbing Scarlett's arm and making a bolt for the same whirlpool.
It all happened so quickly that Scarlett hardly had the chance to react. One minute they were running and then the next a bang so loud that it shattered the scene. Then beside her Ash began to trip and stumble. His hand let her go and he hit the ground at her feet causing her to stagger backwards.
Her cry was suddenly drowned out by his light moan and the crimson liquid that seeped from his chest. For a moment she didn't register it. It was only when the large man stepped into the clearing, in his hand a smoking gun that it sunk in.
"Oh my Arceus! Ash!" Scarlett's heart raced to a screaming halt. "Ash!" She attempted to pull him up but his body was so heavy it refused to move.
He was yelling at her, telling her "Go! Go! Go!" But she didn't hear him.
The man with the gun was standing over them. His glare seething with fury. He was as big as a Machamp. "You stupid, brat! You've changed everything!"
But despite it all Ash still had the audacity to look up at him and give him a grin. "Now the stakes are even... Dad."
He took one final stuttering breath before his head sank into the ground. Ash Ketchum was no more.
The man turned his back to them, ignoring the screaming wails of the teenager; he simply threw his gun into the bushes and offered Team Plasma's head a scathing leer, "You're as useless as your good-for-nothing father. Take them back to the helicopter." And he walked away.
"No! No no no nonononono!" Scarlett couldn't move. Her world was frozen. She was oblivious to the three ninja shadows that stepped up to her. She was even oblivious to the urgings of her other companion –the man with the device- to get to her feet.
Suddenly her own Charizard was upon her, lifting her up and carrying her clear over the cliff where she saw the whirlpool had closed up and dissolved.
And it was then that she realised that all was lost. They were still in a future that couldn't be repaired.
Scarlett snapped awake to the sounds of the ocean and sunlight streaming down over her face. Groggy, she hesitantly pulled herself upright only to find that she'd been placed in a bed. Where was she? Had Team Plasma managed to catch her? But as her eyes made their way across the room she soon came to realise this was no Team Plasma establishment.
Painfully pulling herself from the sheets she passed across creaky old floorboards to French doors that opened out to a sunrise over the ocean. There was a figure down at the water's edge. Standing barefoot in the sand he watched the sunrise, not moving from that spot until the purples and reds of the sky became a familiar blue. Just enough time for Scarlett's mind to catch up with the events from the night before. There was old blood on her hands. Her body instinctively buckled and without even the time to find a bucket she threw up on the floor, not stopping until she'd completely purged her already empty stomach. Tears streaked her cheeks though she simply felt too tired to cry. Her mind unable to stop the constant reel of the night before; the whirlpool, Silver, the man with the gun and finally Ash. Her world had been shattered beyond repair. Everything she had lived for these past seventeen years ripped from her grasp so that there was nothing.
"Are you alright?"
Scarlett glanced up into the concerned face of her rescuer, the man with the device from the night before. He quickly vanished into another room before returning with a wet rag and a bag of ice. Scarlett followed his order for her to sit back down on the bed where he wrapped the ice up in the rag and placed it on her forehead. He looked pale, as though the sight of her vomit on the floor made him want to do the same.
"Try not to move too fast," he said. "You've gone through a lot."
The resident Minccino was already on the scene, working hard to clean up the foul mess Scarlett had left behind.
"Where am I?" taking her eyes off the scene Scarlett questioned.
"You're at my family's villa outside of Undella Town," The man replied.
Upon closer inspection Scarlett could see his dusty blonde hair was flecked with shades of silver-blue giving it a salt and pepper look. It had been formed into what reminded Scarlett of the rough shape of a Skuntank's tail. He had several days of regrowth on his face that otherwise revealed a somewhat bony structure and high cheek bones. But it was his steely, focused gaze that caught the most attention. Brilliant green eyes watched her, though there was a depth to them that indicated his mind wasn't always based in the present moment. He sort of reminded Scarlett of her dad in the years after her mother left. Had this man had someone close to him leave too? Is this what happened to them? They became empty shells of themselves?
For the first time, she realised she knew the feeling. Her stomach sank and she felt as though she was going to be sick all over again. The man must have noticed this because he suddenly grabbed her attention.
"We can change it... we can change everything."
Scarlett resisted the urge to bark out a laugh. "How? The portal is closed. There won't be another window for years." She may have only just met this guy through her uncle the night before, but she thought he'd be smarter than this. "How can you possibly expect we last that long? And what about Silver? He's lost… somewhere back there."
Without so much as a word the man turned and left the room. Shocked by his sudden departure, Scarlett dropped the ice from her face and followed him into a massive old house that looked as though it had seen better days. She followed him down a stair case and into a huge lounge area with a fireplace and an upright piano which he now tinkered around with.
Scarlett took a moment to take in the room with high ceilings and an ancient chandelier. It was obvious this guy had belonged to a wealthy family once. Probably before the war. A partially opened door drew Scarlett's attention to a library so big it could have fit her dad's entire cabin in it with room to spare.
Was this guy a librarian? A researcher?
Scarlett's eye caught the little yellow blob sleeping on the couch and she immediately gasped. "Pikachu!"
Bounding across the room she stopped short of throwing herself on the sleepy Pokémon who yawned quietly and shed a tear. Scarlett took up the seat beside him and gently pulled him into a hug. He was stone cold and just sort of flopped in her arms. She couldn't blame him. He'd just lost his most cherished companion. "Don't worry Pikachu, we're going to find a way to fix this... somehow." She sounded just like the teenage version of the Pokémon's old trainer and friend.
Scarlett turned back to the man who now stood in front of her, holding out a funny looking key attached to a chain. She had to blink for a moment.
"What is it for?"
"Just take it," he offered. "I need you to do something for me. I need you to go back and find me. Give this to me. I'll know what to do with it."
"I don't understand, how do you expect me to 'go back?"
"With this," he'd anticipated her reaction and unclipped a pokéball from his belt. It was gold and silver with the initials 'GS' above the button. The button he pushed with his thumb until it glowed red – as though to recognise who he was. Then all at once in a flash of white a small, green Pokémon emerged from it.
Scarlett immediately had to step back, her eyes simply unable to take it in. "Is that... no way!... Celebi! How is that even possible?!"
Ignoring her surprise the man simply spoke to the Pokémon, as though he had been training it for years. A legendary...
"Celebi, take her back with you."
"Celebi!" the small Pokémon responded with a happy chirp. Its eyes closed for a moment as if to be in deep concentration before it conjured what looked to be a waterfall in the middle of the room. The static cleared leaving a flat, vertical puddle that hung in mid air.
Scarlett was amazed. Was this for real?! She had to glance back at the man, just to make sure that what she was seeing was what he saw too. He nodded. "Celebi can only take one human with it. You're more important in the big picture than I am."
"Wait, I don't even know what I'm doing," Scarlett went to argue but he cut her off.
"Take Pikachu. Meet up with me and give me that key. I'll know what to do…" he repeated.
Scarlett was mortified, "But I don't even know your name."
And he replied with a weary smile, "It's Wilbur." He directed her to Celebi's portal. "Now go change history."