Hi again! Welcome to the final chapter! It's more of an epilogue than anything, since it's much shorter than the other two. Finally everything will be explained XP.

"One life stamps and influences another, which in turn stamps and influences another, on and on until the soul of human experience breathes on in generations we'll never even meet." -Mary Kay Blakely

Chapter 3: A Toast to the Broken Wishbone

"…So they kicked our butts, and then they just freaking left! Poof! Gone! That was it!" Chili ranted on, the girl who stood there being enraptured by his tale and elaborate motions that went along with it. "Apparently we weren't even worth stealing from or anything! Argh! It still gets me all fired up just thinking about it!"

"So, then you guys retired as Gym Leaders?" asked the girl, looking a bit sad. She sat down at the only vacant table.

The redhead calmed down, his expression more serious. "Yeah. It was too much really, trying to run both the restaurant and the Gym simultaneously, at least right now. This is our real passion, so we stuck with the restaurant. But we all need to get stronger…the unobtainable Trio Badge…" He suddenly perked up, pumping his fist into the air. "No! One day we will make the Trio Badge shine again!"

Chili whipped out his notepad and began to jot down the girl's order. While he did so, he heard one of the TVs running in the background, apparently set on the popular gossip show The National Gymquirer.

"Here is today's letter. From someone going by the name Cafélover! Thank yooou!" the lady announcer declared brightly, before reading the letter aloud. "Recently, I saw Striaton Gym's three Gym Leaders, and they were all out of order! Like, Chili was Cilan, and Cilan was Cress! Hmmm. Well, I'm not saying you're crazy, but...are you sure they weren't just standing in front of a mirror?"

Cress was passing by the TV and heard the letter too. "Honestly, that's the best content they can acquire? It's a wonder this show stays on the air at all." He changed the channel, and then continued on his way to another batch of waiting customers.

The restaurant was packed today, but these days it almost always was. Business had been booming since they had entirely dedicated themselves to it. People loved the new battle shows: every two hours, a randomly selected Trainer would fight alongside a Striaton sibling of their choice against the other two in a double battle. If the Trainer and his chosen sibling won, they got both the usual battle money and a free meal.

The day flew by. Chili remembered when the day, or even just a night, would drag on forever…Now he was tidying up the kitchen, while his brothers were cleaning the dining area.

"It's…been awhile," Cilan commented quaintly, as he swept the floor. "Since we've heard from Lord Ghetsis, I mean."

"Perhaps we should go check on him again?" suggested Cress, dumping some silverware into the sink. "He is often unwell these days, after all."

"He's always sick these days," Chili amended, wiping off a spoon before tossing it into the sink. "But he doesn't like it when we drop in all of a sudden. He definitely wasn't happy about it last time."

"But what if something has happened to him? What if he's too ill to call us?" Cress countered, pointing a knife at Chili before putting it into the sink the rest of the dishes.

"You're overreacting, brother," said Cilan, waving a fork at Cress before wrapping it up with the other silverware in a cloth napkin. "He had both his Pokémon and his technology with him. He…should be alright…"

There was an uncomfortable silence between the three brothers.

"So…dinner?" asked Cilan quietly, breaking the imposing quietness. "What should we have, I mean?"

Before Chili could voice his opinion, he heard something scurrying. He glanced over and saw a big purple rat Pokémon dashing across the floor.. A Rattata! How did that get in here? Chili swiftly slammed it against the wall with an Extrasensory attack, instantly killing it.

His brothers soon came in to inspect his handiwork.

"That won't be enough for us to eat," Cress said flatly.

"Ah, I hope that bloodstain won't be too hard to get out," said Cilan. "What would the customers think?"

"At least it didn't leave a dent or anything," remarked Chili, picking up the dead Rattata and tossing it to Cilan. "Should make a good appetizer anyway. Anything tastes good with the right spices, and it'd be a shame to waste fresh meat. Have fun."

"And where are you wandering off to?" asked Cress, as Chili sauntered away from them.

"To the woods," Chili replied, not looking back at either of them. "I need some fresh air."

"Don't spoil your appetite for dinner," said Cress in a mock-lecturing manner.

The redhead waved back offhandedly. "Don't worry. I'm always hungry."

Chili stepped out through the back door of the restaurant, and gazed up to the night sky. Not even the pearly moon could be seen tonight, and there was too much light pollution here for the stars to shine through. It was cold tonight, too, but that was fine. He leaned up against the restaurant, still gazing skyward.

Target the Striaton Triplets, Lord Ghetsis had told them, all that time ago. Observe them, study their speech patterns, their movements, every detail about them. Then don their appearances, pretend to be them, even on your missions. Excel, so that each of you can fool the other triplets, and make them think they've developed another personality. Use your powers further to make them think they're going insane, further weaken them, make them turn on each other. Then, my Shadow Triad, when the time is right-

The Shadow knew the words by heart, even though the mission was long since completed. Now they were in the perfect position to spy on the other Gym Leaders and other important figures, just as Lord Ghetsis had planned. Even now they were gathering valuable information for him. And if they were ever caught, it only meant that it was time to hunt for new masks…But they would rather not have to do that again anytime soon…

(The triplets cringed back in shock and terror, upon seeing for the first time their true forms…Yet, there were also looks of relief. For now the triplets knew it wasn't them, it was never them…)

And…Lord Ghetsis was dying. They all knew it, as much as they tried to deny the subject. Endless periodical fights with that second Trainer would not change that. Lord Ghetsis, the one who had rescued them from the burning forest when they were mere weeks old, the one who they had served for almost all of their lives, was slipping away. And…

(…But the reprieve soon evaporated, as their Pokémon were swiftly disposed of with a few quick slashes and bites. These baby Pokémon, bred or caught only for battling newly-minted Trainers, were nothing against highly trained ones like themselves…)

The Shadow and his brothers had never liked humans, other than their Lord Ghetsis of course. They were the ones who hunted down and killed their mother, simply because they despised her kind. She gave her life protecting them. But they hadn't been old enough to pursue their own prey, so soon they became very hungry…and then more humans set fire to the forest they lived in, just because they had Fire-type Pokémon and they could.

(The triplets' meager defenses stripped, now the true conclusion of the mission began. They bolted toward them like thrown lightning, claws and teeth poised to strike at vulnerable flesh…)

So yes, they wholeheartedly supported the separation of Pokémon from people, so such horrid things never occurred again. So, when their Lord Ghetsis gave them this mission to torture some hapless humans, they gladly complied.

(…It was supposed to be a quick, clean kill, just like all the others. A suffocating bite was all that was needed. It was harder to clean up a blood-spattered scene, though they could always disguise the scene until everything was fully taken care of…)

They each had their own human to impersonate and torment. He chose the red-haired one because that human used Fire-types, and he hated fire and Fire-types. Plus his general happiness and liveliness annoyed him beyond any sane nerves. He wanted to see how long it would take to break such an insipid creature.

(…But then the blue-haired one pushed his brothers back, and took all the blows himself. In the process his neck was slashed, and red sprayed everywhere as he fell to the floor. His brothers raced to him, but by then he couldn't even speak, could only look up to them with sad, scared eyes that pleaded for them to run…)

Oh, it was fun at first, seeing the redhead's confusion and annoyance at finding objects rearranged or misplaced (their powers made it easy enough to hide from any searching eyes). It was even better to see the shock and horror on his face, as he came to believe that lies were truth (their powers fooled cameras as well). Provoking the red-haired human with outrageous actions and venomous insults, then forcing the boy to fall to his knees with yet another carefully controlled Extrasensory attack to his brain…there had been something so satisfying in wielding such precise control over another. He had rarely been able to savor his prey - either he had been so famished that he devoured his victim immediately, or Lord Ghetsis wanted them to dispatch their targets as efficiently as possible.

(…And the other two brothers were now enraged as well as terrified. They struck back with chairs and desks and forks and knives as they tried to drive them away. The damn humans were astonishingly resilient creatures, still standing even with all their lacerations. Cilan was the more aggressive one, guarding his weakened and feverish brother. But the Shadow's own brother was getting angry, and launched a full-powered Extrasensory at his chosen human. The green-haired brother let out an ungodly scream, and then fell to his knees, eyes blank, blood oozing from his ears and eyes…)

But…perhaps there was a reason why prey should be quickly consumed. The more he had gotten to know the red-haired boy, the more he realized how similar the human and his brothers were to himself and his own siblings. The more they saw happy people and Pokémon together, the more they understood why some Pokémon deliberately chose to be with humans. The more people they saw in general, the less loathsome they seemed to be. The more they drove their own chosen humans into madness and misery, the less fun it became…until it wasn't fun at all. It became painful, in fact, especially as they started seeing things without the help of their powers, as their cries grew increasingly delirious and desperate. But these were Lord Ghetsis's orders…

(…And Chili screamed too, as he rushed to his fallen siblings. The red-haired brother cried for them to get up, as a lone Dodrio head will call to its other heads even if both hung dead beside it. The Shadow took this opportunity to unleash an unrestrained Extrasensory attack himself, causing Chili to screech and hold his head and eventually slump over. But then Chili got up again, snarling, red eyes furious and wild yet strangely vacant, like a mad beast's…)

I don't want to be like this! Chili had said. I want to be a good person! Chili had said, all of them had said. They all wanted to make up for their pasts, though theirs weren't even that bad. They all had wanted to do so many things, could have done so many things, if-

(…Chili lashed out at him, thrashing and screaming and clawing and even biting off part of his ear in his frenzy. The Shadow eventually slammed him into a wall with another Extrasensory attack, and heard a sickening crack. Chili just laid there, befuddled, bleeding, still not dead, bleating out his brother's names over and over again helplessly…)

The Shadow and his brothers always served their Lord Ghetsis before all others, including themselves. They served him even if they didn't completely agree with him, although that was rare, or at least it used to be. Even when he raved incoherently, even when he lashed out at them either verbally or physically, they still obediently served him. Even when Ghetsis wanted to hear all the bloody details of those final minutes, even when they didn't want to talk about it, didn't want to think about it, they complied and-

(…and then Chili had no voice to cry out with, as the Shadow's fangs fastened down on his throat. But those eyes, those red eyes spoke of fear and despair and rage and yearning far better than any words could, even in their hazed lunacy, even as those red eyes dimmed and drooped, and the blood flooded the Shadow's mouth and the floor…It wasn't supposed to be like this, it wasn't supposed to be…)

But Ghetsis was dying. Perhaps he was already dead and they didn't even know it yet. They served Ghetsis above all else but once he died…Could they be good?

The Shadow chuckled to himself. Chili's ideas were infecting him again, as they always did. What was the way that humans put it? You are what you eat? But who devoured who, in the end?

He chortled darkly at the absurdity of it all, before his expression became somber again. They had to trick and devour - that was simply their nature. The problem with hunger was that it always came back. But he would not waste this life he had consumed. This life came with dreams and desires, its own hungers, and he would sate all of them. Once his service to Ghetsis's life was done, he would fully devote himself to serving this one. Yes, the Striaton Trio would be famous the world over!

Swallowed by others' dreams, the illusion he created slipped. For a moment, a dark fox Pokémon with a long red mane and ice-blue eyes stood there instead of a red-haired boy. Then, as quickly as it dropped, the illusion reformed, and the Zoroark decided to return to the restaurant instead of the lightless woods. There were far more important things to do than merely filling his own stomach.

IIIIII

So what did you think? Didn't traumatize you guys too badly I hope. I love the Striaton Trio and yet my first story focusing on them ends up like this...I'm not even sure what to say.

Does everything make sense? What do you think of the Zoroark Shadow Triad?

Extrasensory is an Egg move, btw. Vulpix/Ninetales learns it, and there are wild Vulpix in Unova (at the Abundant Shrine), so I figured it wasn't too much of a stretch.

Thanks so much for everyone who has come this far and read the whole story! I hope you enjoyed it despite the morbid ending. I did warn you this was probably the evilest thing I've ever written...

Cya!