I guess 2020 hasn't really turned out the way anyone expected, huh? Well, we can only hope that things will get better, and until then, take certain precautions, stay healthy and try to make the best of things. I'm sure we can get through this.
Well, maybe I can brighten your day a little with a new chapter of Reflecting Balance! That's right, Chapter 59 is ready!
It's been over eight years since I first posted the original version of the first chapter, and I'm really excited that we've gotten this far! We're getting close to the end, and I'm not sure how many chapters are left or how long it'll take to write them, but I will finish what I've started.
For now, here's Chapter 59! I hope you guys enjoy it!
Chapter 59: You haven't earned those 'treasures' of yours, you know?
It was nighttime in Fenix Town, and most of the Pokémon living there were currently fast asleep. Inside Kala's room in the rescue team HQ, Elina was sitting on the floor next to the sleeping Abra, seemingly having trouble sleeping. She knew that once Chiaki and his friends returned from Wyvern Island tomorrow, they would have the seventh Axis Tower crystal with them. And then…
She was distracted from her thoughts by Kala muttering something in her sleep. Kala shifted around a bit, before sleepily opening an eye.
"… You're awake?" Kala asked, looking over at Elina.
"Yes," Elina responded via telepathy. "What were you dreaming about just now?"
"Oh… Well, there was this forest, and some kind of building…" Kala explained, yawning. "And as I walked up to the building, there was this weird ghost that threatened to kill me unless I beat her in a battle… it was really weird."
"That does sound weird…" Elina responded, tilting her head slightly.
"But, enough about that," Kala said. "Why are you having trouble sleeping?"
"Well… I'll probably be leaving this town soon," Elina explained.
"Oh?" Kala responded, trying her best to stay awake.
"Yeah… Soon, there won't be a reason for me to stay here any longer," Elina telepathically replied, before sighing.
"… There won't be a reason for you to stay…?" Kala inquired.
Elina was quiet for a moment, as she contemplated whether or not to explain the full situation to Kala. There wasn't anyone around who could hear them right now, and it was doubtful that Kala would allow this information to fall into the wrong hands.
"She wouldn't accidentally blurt it out in her sleep, would she?" Elina thought to herself, before shaking her head. "No… I should have more faith in her than that."
When Elina had first asked Kala to teach her how to communicate via telepathy, Elina had been afraid that Kala would refuse. They hadn't even known each other that long, and Kala already had plenty of work to do with having to teleport rescue teams to mystery dungeons every day. Even so, Kala had only needed a little time to think things over before agreeing to help Elina.
While there seemed to be no progress at first, Kala continued to support and encourage Elina, and even let her spend the night sleeping over in her room at times.
"Kala has been so kind to me…" Elina thought to herself, affectionately glancing over at the Abra.
Kala had fallen asleep again while waiting for Elina to respond to her question. Elina watched her for a few moments, before reaching out and gently touching Kala's shoulder.
"Hmm? What?" Kala muttered as she opened her eyes again.
"Ah, Kala… You can keep a secret, right?" Elina asked telepathically.
"Uh… Yeah, sure," Kala responded, yawning.
Elina nodded her head, and closed her eyes as she telepathically explained her situation to Kala. Kala quietly listened to Elina's story, taking a few moments to go over this information in her head.
"Whoa…" Kala said. "Are you sure about that?"
"Positive," Elina responded, nodding her head.
"Huh…" Kala replied, blinking a few times.
"I will tell him the truth tomorrow, or maybe the day after that," Elina explained. "And then, we'll return to Axis Tower."
"But… how are you going to…" Kala responded, seeming unsure how to phrase her question.
"That's the part I haven't figured out yet," Elina replied, shaking her head. "I… I guess I didn't really want to think about it…"
"That's understandable…" Kala responded, placing her hand on Elina's hand. "He's your friend, after all."
"I… probably shouldn't think of him that way," Elina replied, looking away.
Kala tried to comfort Elina as the two of them just sat there for a while, until Elina eventually fell asleep. Since there wasn't anything else she could do at the moment, Kala decided it was best to get more sleep as well.
"… All right, we'll give you four of our Oran berries for two of your Reviver Seeds," Yukio said.
"Okay, we have a deal," Blitz responded, nodding his head.
A new day had begun, and the rescue teams that had spent the night on Wyvern Island were getting ready to continue their mission. The four rescue teams were taking the time to exchange some items, while the other dragon Pokémon were helping the Altaria pack up the cooking gear. Azure was doing some warm-up exercises to prepare herself for the battles that awaited inside the mystery dungeon of the Sky-High Mountains, while Chiaki and Liz watched her.
"Looks like she's already pretty fired up," Liz commented.
"Yep," Chiaki replied, chuckling. "Azure is always ready for another adventure."
"Yukio is sort of like that too," Liz said, glancing over at the Weavile for a moment. "He can be a bit impatient, though."
"How so?" Chiaki asked.
"Well, he likes to get work done and he likes to fight," Liz explained. "So, on slower missions, he can get a bit restless."
"Hey, Liz! We're done here!" Yukio shouted, waving at the Emolga to make sure he got her attention. "Get over here!"
"Oh, looks like it's almost time for us all to head out," Liz commented, smiling at Chiaki. "Good luck to you and your team!"
"Thanks!" Chiaki responded, smiling back at Liz. "Good luck to you too!"
Liz waved at Chiaki before running back to her teammates. Chiaki also ran over to his own teammates, who were taking another look at their current selection of items.
"Hmm, this looks good, right?" Blitz asked, looking over at his teammates.
"I think so," Sera replied, nodding her head.
"Is everyone good to go, then?" Indigo asked, looking around at the rescue teams.
The rescue team leaders each replied in affirmative, and the dragon Pokémon each went over to the teams they had accompanied yesterday. It was time for the four rescue teams present to make their way up the Sky-High Mountains so they could retrieve the stolen prizes for the annual Wyvern Island flying tournament, and more importantly, an Axis Tower crystal.
"All right, everyone!" Indigo said, grinning. "Let's do this!"
One by one, the four rescue teams entered the mystery dungeon.
Back in Gale Wing Village, Aeron was taking a look around. It had been over a month since he was last home, after all. Aside from the current situation with the stolen flying tournament prices, things were pretty much the way they usually were. He looked over at the Tropius shopkeeper, who was currently talking to a Togekiss. He decided to go talk to the two.
"Oh, hello there, Aeron!" the Tropius said, smiling at the Aerodactyl. "I haven't seen you in a while! Where have you been?"
"Ah, well…" Aeron responded, taking a moment to explain what had happened.
"Oh my!" the Tropius replied.
"Yeah," Aeron responded, glancing at his wing. "But I'm mostly fine now. That Audino and her crew are really amazing at what they do."
"I see!" the Tropius cheerfully replied. "I'm glad you were able to get help quickly!"
"So, the rescue team that found you are among the teams headed for the Sky-High Mountains, right?" the Togekiss asked.
"Yes, they are," Aeron responded, looking over at the Togekiss. "They're probably making their way through the mystery dungeon as we speak."
"Hmm, I do look forward to hearing all about it from Aria when they get back," the Togekiss replied, humming to herself.
"Yeah, I'd like to hear about their adventure too," Aeron said. "I'm sure Indigo at the very least will be eager to tell us how it went."
"Oh, most definitely," the Tropius responded, giggling a little.
Blitz and his teammates gradually made their way through the mystery dungeon, fighting off wild Pokémon along the way.
"You doing okay, Chiaki?" Azure asked. "Are the flying type Pokémon giving you a rough time?"
"I'm fine," Chiaki responded, sounding a bit winded. "Those Pidgeot sure were fast, though…"
"Agility is the worst," Sera grumbled, her fur looking rather disheveled.
"Yeah, that move is pretty annoying," Indigo commented. "Best to beat them before they can use it."
"Anyone need an Oran berry?" Blitz asked.
"Nah, I think we're good for now," Sera responded.
"We can take a break once we get to the halfway point," Indigo said, looking around. "We'll be there in a few more floors."
"… I don't know about you guys, but that felt like more than 'a few' floors," Sera commented as she and her teammates reached the halfway point, before noticing that they weren't the only team currently taking a break from the mission.
"Oh, hey there," Mirage said, waving to Blitz and his teammates.
"Oh, hi Mirage!" Chiaki responded, waving back.
"Good to see you're all doing well," Angeline said, looking over at Blitz and his teammates.
"What about the other teams?" Sera asked, while Azure helped fix up her disheveled fur. "Have you seen them?"
"I don't know about Sting's team," Mirage responded. "But Yukio's team did come by here earlier."
"They didn't stay long," Megara commented. "Yukio seemed to be in a bit of a hurry to get back out there."
"That sounds about right, based on what Liz told me," Chiaki said, tilting his head slightly. "I hope they're all okay."
"We should probably get back out there too," Mirage said, glancing over at the path leading into the next set of floors.
"Do we have to?" Cordyceps asked. "The mushroom would rather stay here."
"Rescue teams are prepared to finish any mission they take on, even if they are at a disadvantage, are they not?" Angeline asked, looking over at Cordyceps.
Cordyceps stared blankly at Angeline for a moment. Chiaki wondered if the Parasect was trying to think of a reply to what Angeline had said to him.
"We made it this far, didn't we?" Megara said, glancing over at Cordyceps.
"Just barely," Cordyceps responded, looking at his teammates. "You guys kept shielding the mushroom from attacks from those flying-type Pokémon."
"Well, yeah," Mirage replied, looking a bit confused. "I mean, we can handle those attacks better than you can."
"Exactly," Cordyceps responded. "The mushroom shouldn't have come along on this mission in the first place. The mushroom is only slowing you down."
"Cordy…" Mirage said, gently touching one of Cordyceps' claws.
"Perhaps the mushroom was never suited to be a rescue team member in the first place," Cordyceps said, looking away. "Lately, the mushroom has complained a lot about our missions…"
Mirage looked over at Blitz and his teammates for a moment, who seemed a bit unsure of what to do.
"Um… Do you want some time to yourselves?" Blitz asked, rubbing the rings on his forelegs together.
"Yeah, you guys go on ahead," Mirage said, nodding her head slightly. "We'll catch up later."
Blitz nodded his head, and signaled to his teammates to move on to the next part of the dungeon, with Indigo seeming eager to get back to exploring. Angeline watched the group leave, before walking over to a corner of the room to at least get some distance from Mirage and her teammates while they talked things out.
"Cordy, do you remember when we first met?" Mirage asked the Parasect. "It was thanks to your help that I was able to complete my first mission!"
"Of course, I remember," Cordyceps responded, staring at Mirage. "You took on a mission that was too difficult for you to handle on your own."
"Hey, I had just moved to Fenix Town," Mirage replied, crossing her arms. "I wanted to earn money to send to my family, and going after that outlaw seemed like a good idea at the time! Besides, I had no way of knowing that the outlaw would bring back-up!"
"Well, I helped you because you helped me first," Cordyceps commented. "It only seemed fair to the mushroom."
"Still, after that was all over, you could've just walked away," Mirage said, smirking. "But you didn't."
"… That is true," Cordyceps responded.
"Tell me, Cordy, why'd you accept my offer to team up back then?" Mirage asked. "I mean, at that point, I was still pretty much a stranger to you."
"Well… The mushroom doesn't know how to explain it," Cordyceps responded. "There was just something about you that left an impression."
"Something that left an impression, huh?" Mirage replied with a slight smile. "I guess I could say the same for you."
Mirage looked at her rescue team badge, the platinum colored half of it shining brightly.
"We've come a long way since then," Mirage commented.
"… Yes, we will," Cordyceps responded. "The mushroom knows it has complained a lot recently, but… I will try to get better at this."
"You're already doing fine," Mirage replied with a reassuring smile. "I know there are probably ways I could be a better rescue team leader too."
"All right, then let's all work to better ourselves together," Megara said, shrugging slightly.
"Sounds like a plan," Mirage responded.
The team looked up to see Angeline walk over with a smile on her face.
"Ah, I guess we kept you waiting, huh?" Mirage said, looking up at Angeline. "Sorry about that."
"It's fine," Angeline replied. "It seems you needed a moment to recover your morale."
"Well, I think we're good to go now," Megara said, standing up. "How about you, Cordy?"
"Yes, the mushroom is ready to keep going," Cordyceps responded.
"Good to hear," Angeline said, nodding her head. "Well, let's go, then."
"I wonder if Mirage and her teammates are doing okay?" Chiaki wondered as he and his teammates continued making their way through the floors.
"I'm sure they've got things sorted out," Azure responded.
Azure suddenly stopped walking for a moment as her ears twitched, with Frederick bumping his snout into her tail before he realized that she had stopped moving.
"Hmm… You guys hear that?" Azure asked, glancing around.
"Hear what?" Sera responded.
The rest of the group stopped for a moment while Azure tried to determine where the noise was coming from.
"I think… it's coming from over there," Azure said, pointing in the direction the sound was coming from.
The group cautiously made their way over to see what was going on, and soon saw that Sting and his teammates were fighting off a large number of wild Pokémon in one of the rooms.
"They must've walked into a Monster House," Blitz said, observing the situation.
"Well, what are we waiting for?" Azure asked. "Let's go help them out!"
Frosty was trying his best to take out some of the wild flying-type Pokémon with his Icicle Crash attack, but their increased speed from their Agility move made it even more difficult to hit them. Melody and Aria the Altaria were trying to shield Sting from attacks from flying-type Pokémon while pushing them back with a sound-based attack, boosting the strength of their attack by singing together.
As they joined the fight, Blitz made his fur shine to get the attention of the wild Pokémon. In the brief moment the wild Pokémon were distracted, Azure, Frederick and Indigo took the opportunity to attack. Sera used her Helping Hand to give her allies a power boost, while Chiaki waited for a chance to attack.
Working together, the two rescue teams and the dragon-type Pokémon assisting them were eventually able to take out all the Pokémon in the Monster House.
"Thanks for the help, guys," Frosty said, while picking up some of the items still laying around in the room.
"No problem!" Chiaki responded, smiling.
"Is everyone okay?" Sting asked, looking around.
The others all gave affirmative responses.
"All right, let's keep moving!" Indigo said. "We're almost at the top, now!"
Inside a certain cave on the Sky-High Mountains, a Braviary was keeping watch near the entrance. His eyes narrowed as he saw something in the distance.
"They're on their way…" the Braviary muttered.
"What's that?" the Yanmega asked, flitting around the stolen tournament prizes.
"Someone is headed here to steal our treasures," the Braviary responded, turning his head and glancing at the other three Pokémon in the cave.
"No! We can't let them do that!" the Charizard said, while hugging a medal close to his chest.
"We just have to chase them off, right?" the Hydreigon said.
"Yes…" the Braviary responded, nodding his head. "Get ready to fight, everyone."
Yukio and his team had already made it through the dungeon. Liz and Wilbur were happily snacking on some apples while having a friendly chat, while Yukio was impatiently looking around.
"The thieves are just up ahead, right?" Yukio said, tapping his foot impatiently. "Can't we just go challenge them?"
"Hey, I'm sure the other rescue teams will be here soon," Rosie responded, looking over at the dungeon's exit. "… Oh! Would you look at that!"
At that moment, both Sting and Blitz's rescue teams exited the dungeon.
"Ah, you guys finally showed up!" Yukio said, grinning. "What took you so long?"
"Hey, you can't expect everyone to be as fast as you," Sera commented.
"We would've been here sooner, but we had to deal with a Monster House," Indigo explained, shrugging slightly.
"Wait, what?" Yukio responded. "There was a Monster House, and I missed it?"
"Oh, Yukio, you're such a silly Weavile," Rosie said, chuckling a bit.
Shortly afterwards, Mirage and her team showed up as well.
"Ah, looks like we got here just in time," Mirage commented, as she and her teammates walked over to the other teams.
"… I don't think we have time for that," Angeline said, looking up at the sky. "Look."
Looking up towards where Angeline was looking, Indigo saw the Charizard and the Hydreigon flying towards them. As the two began to fire their Flamethrower and Dragon Pulse attacks, Indigo was quick to react.
"Wilbur!" Indigo shouted.
"I'm on it!" Wilbur responded, quickly moving in front of the other Pokémon.
Forming a barrier in front of him, Wilbur flew up to shield the others from the attacks.
"All right, everyone," Indigo said, looking over at the others. "That barrier won't last long, so let's get moving. Angeline, Aria, you should get into the air too."
"Understood," Angeline responded, nodding her head.
"Ah, let me just drop off some things…" Aria replied, as she began searching through her fluffy feathers.
"The mushroom can look after your things while you fly," Cordyceps offered. "After all, the mushroom probably won't do much fighting in this battle anyways."
"Oh, thank you," Aria responded, as she pulled her cooking gear out from her feathers. "Ah, hold on… I got a few more things in here…"
Aria quickly pulled a tuning fork, a small screwdriver, a deck of playing cards, a small stone tablet with what appeared to be part of some sort of ancient prophecy carved onto it, some ear plugs, some medicine for treating sore throats and a book titled "The Power of the Seven Treasures".
"That's a lot of things," Cordyceps commented.
"Well, you never know what might come in handy, right?" Aria responded sheepishly.
Angeline was already in the air, flying around dodging attacks from the Charizard and Hydreigon. Aria quickly flapped her wings and flew up to help out Angeline. She took a deep breath and prepared to attack, but before she could attack, she had to quickly move out of the way when she spotted something green flying towards her at high speed. After narrowly avoiding the Yanmega's attempt to side-swipe her, Aria did a quick, mystical dance in the air to boost her own speed and attack power.
"Everyone's in the air now," Indigo said, looking at the three dragons. "I better do something too…"
Indigo took a few steps towards the cave, and motioned for the rescue teams to follow her.
"While Angeline, Aria and Wilbur keep them busy, let's go take back the prizes!" Indigo said.
Blitz and Yukio's teams followed Indigo as she headed towards the cave, while Sting and Mirage's rescue teams decided to stay outside in case Angeline, Aria and Wilbur needed their assistance.
After stepping inside the cave, it didn't take long before Indigo and the two rescue teams came across the last of the thieves.
"So… You've come to steal our treasures," the Braviary said, as he stepped forward.
Behind the Braviary, the rescue team members could see the stolen tournament prizes, as well as the Axis Tower crystal.
"There it is…" Chiaki whispered, pointing to the crystal.
"Ooh, pretty," Liz commented. "We should try and grab it when the bird isn't looking."
"If you want to take them, you better be prepared to fight," the Braviary said, glaring at Indigo and the rescue team Pokémon.
"You haven't earned those 'treasures' of yours, you know?" Indigo said, glaring back at the Braviary. "Only the fliers who have proven themselves in the tournament may receive those!"
The Braviary suddenly began to rapidly flap his wings, whipping up powerful winds. The rescue team Pokémon had to brace themselves from being knocked over by the strong winds, with some even nearly getting blown out of the cave. However, Indigo managed to get around it and rushed at the Braviary from the side, headbutting him before he could react.
"Nice hit!" Yukio said, before running towards the Braviary. "Now it's my turn!"
"Let's get him!" Azure shouted, rolling towards the Braviary at high speed.
The Braviary tried his best to recover from Indigo's attack and dodge Yukio's attempt to punch him with glowing, frost-coated claws and Azure trying to ram into him.
"Hmph… It seems I can't unleash my full power within this space," the Braviary muttered as he flew up to the cave ceiling to avoid their attacks. "This won't do at all…"
The Braviary suddenly flew towards the stolen goods and grabbed the Axis Tower crystal in his talons, before flying towards the exit of the cave. As he flew past them, Chiaki reacted quickly and tried to grab the crystal, only to be pulled along as the Braviary flew out through the exit.
"What the… Chiaki!" Liz exclaimed, running out after him.
Upon exiting the cave, the Braviary whipped up another powerful wind, this time to help him fly faster. However, Liz was able to use this to her advantage by gliding on the Braviary's tailwind, hoping to catch up to Chiaki.
"Chiaki! What are you doing?" Liz shouted.
"I won't let him get away with the crystal!" Chiaki shouted back, holding on to the crystal as tightly as he could.
"Hmm?" the Braviary said, glancing down to notice Chiaki clinging to the crystal held in his talons. "Hey! Get off!"
The Braviary tried to shake Chiaki off, but Chiaki managed to hold on. With the Braviary slowing down, Liz saw an opportunity to attack. She formed a ball of electricity and flung it at the Braviary, shocking him. Being hit by Liz's Electro Ball attack nearly caused the Braviary to drop the crystal, and Chiaki with it, but he managed to keep his grip on it.
"Ah! Chiaki!" Liz exclaimed.
"I'm okay!" Chiaki shouted, still holding on as tightly as he could.
Blitz and the others observed the situation from below, trying to figure out what to do.
"We have to do something!" Sera said.
"Yeah," Blitz responded, nodding his head. "But there's not that much we can do from here…"
"Looks like those fliers are pretty occupied too," Yukio commented, watching Angeline, Aria and Wilbur fight the other three thieves. "Otherwise, I'm sure one of them could help…"
"Seems they're trying to bring the fight closer to here so the non-flying Pokémon can help fight them," Indigo said. "But they're still too high up at the moment…"
"Uh, guys?" Frederick said. "That Braviary just flew outside with the crystal, and the other 'treasures' are still in there, unguarded, right?"
"Hmm? Yeah, that's right," Azure responded.
"In that case, I think I know of something we can do," Frederick replied, smiling.
Aria had noticed the trouble Chiaki was in, and was attempting to reach him. However, it was difficult to get anywhere with the Yanmega trying to attack whenever Aria took her eyes off of her. Angeline and Wilbur were also busy trying to deal with the other two. Wilbur formed a barrier in front of himself as the Hydreigon fired another Dragon Pulse at him, while Angeline was trying to lure the Charizard down to where the rescue teams were while also swiftly dodging his attacks.
Suddenly, the Charizard stopped trying to attack Angeline, as something else had grabbed his attention:
"Hey! Look what I've got!" Yukio shouted, waving a medal in the air.
"My treasure!" the Charizard exclaimed, which also got the attention of the Yanmega and Hydreigon, who looked down to see what was going on.
Indigo and the other rescue team members were also in the process of dragging the stolen tournament prizes out of the cave for the thieves to see. The Charizard began flying down to grab the medal, with the Hydreigon and Yanmega following behind.
The rescue teams prepared to fight as the thieves flew down towards them. Angeline and Wilbur also flew down to assist, while Aria headed up higher to help out Chiaki and Liz. At this point, the Braviary had also noticed what was going on, and momentarily seemed torn between going back to prevent the rescue teams from leaving with the treasure, or to keep flying. He glanced at the crystal still held in his talons, as well as Chiaki who was trying to get into a better position by trying to move over to the Braviary's talons.
"As long as I can keep them from taking this, it'll be fine," the Braviary muttered, before he began trying to shake Chiaki off again.
"Whoa!" Chiaki cried out, as he lost his grip on the crystal.
"Chiaki!" Liz called out, as Chiaki began to fall.
Luckily, Aria had managed to get close enough, flying below Chiaki and allowing him to land in her soft feathers.
"You okay?" Aria asked, looking at Chiaki.
"Mm… Yeah, I think so," Chiaki responded, letting out a sigh of relief.
"Nice catch!" Liz commented, gliding up next to Aria.
Aria and Liz followed the Braviary, determined to not let him get away with the crystal. Liz began to charge up another Electro Ball, while Aria prepared a Dragon Pulse attack. The Braviary managed to dodge both attacks, and attempted to use another Whirlwind attack to blow his pursuers away.
"Uwah!" Liz yelled as she found herself unable to resist the Whirlwind, being blown back.
"Liz!" Chiaki shouted, almost falling off of Aria's back as he reached out and grabbed Liz's paw.
"You two okay?" Aria asked, briefly glancing at the two as Chiaki helped Liz onto Aria's back.
"Yeah, we're fine," Chiaki responded.
Aria continued to try to catch up to the Braviary, who kept trying to push them further away so he could escape. The Braviary briefly glanced down at the others once more.
The Charizard was trying his best to dodge Azure's water attacks, but in doing so left himself open to attacks from some of the other rescue team Pokémon. The Hydreigon was for the most part focused on fighting Indigo, while the Yanmega at this point had fainted after Megara managed to get a lucky hit on her with her Flamethrower attack.
Aside from the fact that one of his teammates had been defeated, there was one other thing that had the Braviary concerned as he looked around.
"Where'd the Salamence go…?" the Braviary wondered out loud.
He quickly discovered the answer to his question, narrowly managing to move out of the way as Angeline flew towards him. Angeline did try to knock the crystal out of his talons with her tail as she flew past him, but the Braviary managed to keep it in his grip.
"Aw, so close," Aria commented, before shaking her head and looking up at the Braviary with a determined expression. "Well, let's take him down!"
With both Angeline and Aria flying at him from different directions, it was even harder for the Braviary to escape. Unable to keep his eyes on both Angeline and Aria at the same time as they flew around him, Liz waited until she had an opportunity to jump from Aria's back and glide onto the Braviary's back.
"How's this for a shocking twist!" Liz shouted, before gleefully zapping the Braviary with her electricity.
Being shocked by Liz's electric attack, the Braviary dropped the Axis Tower crystal, allowing Angeline to swoop down and catch it in her mouth.
"We did it!" Chiaki said, smiling.
The battle wasn't over yet, however. The Braviary flew after Angeline, determined to take the crystal back. He didn't even seem to notice that Liz was still holding on to his back, ready to zap him again once she had charged up enough electricity for another attack.
"Give me that!" the Braviary shrieked, flapping his wings to create sharp blades out of moving air.
Angeline could sense the incoming Air Slash attack, and managed to move out of the way quickly enough to dodge them. The Braviary began chasing after her, but quickly realized he wouldn't be fast enough to catch up to her.
"Hmph, you're pretty fast," the Braviary grumbled, glaring at Angeline. "You think you're such a great flier, don't you?"
His focus on Angeline, the Braviary didn't notice an incoming attack. Liz, however, did notice and quickly jumped off the Braviary's back and managed to glide out of the way just before Aria rammed into the Braviary.
"Nice hit!" Liz commented, gliding next to Aria and Chiaki.
"Let's finish this!" Chiaki said, grinning.
Liz flung another Electro Ball towards the Braviary, which he tried to avoid while still recovering from Aria's attack. However, Chiaki followed up with his Swift attack, the golden stars shot out from Chiaki's paw catching up Liz's Electro Ball and leading it right to their target. The Braviary let out another shriek as their combined attack hit him, before he lost consciousness and began to fall. Luckily for him, Angeline flew underneath him before he fell too far, catching him on her back and carrying him as she began flying back down to the others.
The other rescue teams and dragons had managed to knock out the other three thieves, and looked up as Angeline and Aria headed back down towards them.
"So, I guess now we just need to make sure the spell is broken," Sera commented, looking over at the thieves. "Do we wait for them to wake up on their own, or do we give them some Reviver Seeds?"
"Well, before that, how about we head back to the village?" Wilbur suggested.
In Gale Wing Village, Aeron had dozed off while relaxing in the sun. He was in the middle of a dream about flying through the skies while strange-colored clouds whispered indistinctly, when he was suddenly woken up by a familiar voice.
"Ooh! They're back!" the Togekiss exclaimed.
Aeron slowly opened his eyes, and soon saw that the rescue teams and the four dragon Pokémon accompanying them had returned to the village, bringing back the stolen tournament prizes, the thieves and the Axis Tower crystal with them.
"They did it!" Aeron said, before he and the Togekiss hurried over to greet them.
It seemed the four thieves were starting to regain consciousness, with Wilbur holding out some Oran berries to them as they slowly got up.
"My heads hurt…" the Hydreigon complained.
"Huh? This is the village!" the Yanmega exclaimed, looking around. "But weren't we in a different place before?"
"Right…" the Charizard said, blinking a few times. "We were… in the mountains, right?"
Upon noticing the tournament prizes laying on the grass, the Braviary remembered what had happened. There was a look of realization on the faces of all four of the thieves as they realized what they had done.
"Oh! Oh…" the Yanmega said, looking around at the others. "Um… Are we in trouble?"
"It wasn't our fault!" the Charizard exclaimed in a panic.
"Yeah! That weird Sigilyph made us do it!" the Hydreigon added.
"... But we only fell under his spell because we let our frustrations, envy and doubt get to us," the Braviary said, looking away in shame.
"… Right," the Charizard replied, sighing.
"We've taken part many times now, but we've never won anything!" the Yanmega said. "It's so frustrating!"
"I'd been practicing for the tournament, hoping I'd win something this year," the Hydreigon admitted, before shaking his main head. "But part of me didn't think it'd really happen… and at this point, I'm guessing none of us will be allowed to enter the tournament."
"You probably got that right," Indigo responded, nodding her head. "While we'll need some time to discuss your punishments, I think it's pretty safe to say that none of you four will be allowed to participate in this year's tournament."
The rescue teams watched as Indigo and the thieves spoke for a bit, before Indigo and Wilbur led the thieves away, bringing along the tournament prizes so they could be returned to where they needed to be for now.
"Maybe I should talk to them later," Angeline said as she watched them leave.
"Talk to them about what?" Azure asked.
"I've entered the tournament plenty of times myself, and it wasn't until last year's tournament that I finally won something," Angeline responded. "If they put anywhere near as much effort into practicing as I do, then I can certainly imagine their frustration when things don't go as they hoped."
"Really?" Aeron replied, looking over at Angeline.
"Of course," Angeline responded, nodding her head. "But I also know that the fliers who do win, the ones who make everything look so easy, they must've worked really hard too to get to that level. Keeping that in mind, I'm able to keep moving forward and work on improving my own skills."
"Well, you certainly caught my attention during the last few tournaments," Aeron said. "I could tell that you were a worthy opponent from the first time I saw you."
"Thanks, Aeron," Angeline responded, chuckling a bit. "I'm going to try to do even better this year."
"I'll be cheering you on, too!" Liz said, smiling at Angeline.
"Same here," Chiaki replied, holding onto the Axis Tower crystal. "I kind of wish I could watch the tournament."
"Yeah, that'd be cool," Azure commented. "We should totally come back here to watch a flying tournament someday. Right?"
Azure and Chiaki looked over at Blitz expectantly.
"Um… Sure," Blitz responded, nodding his head slightly.
"For now, I guess we should be getting back to Fenix Town," Mirage said. "It was nice working with you guys."
"Likewise," Angeline responded, smiling at the rescue team Pokémon.
"Maybe the next time you visit, I'll also be able to show you my true flying skills," Aeron said, flapping his wings.
"We'll look forward to it!" Sera responded, wagging her tail.
"You have a lovely voice, Melody," Aria said. "Let's meet up and sing together again sometime. Of course, next time you should hear Ciel sing too."
"I'd be up for that!" Melody responded, smiling at Aria and the Togekiss.
"It's a promise, then!" Aria replied, smiling back.
After saying their good-byes, the rescue teams used their badges to return home to Fenix Town, disappearing in flashes of golden light.
"They seemed nice," Ciel the Togekiss commented, before looking over at Aria. "So, how about you tell me all about your latest adventure?"
"Yes, of course," Aria responded, smiling at Ciel. "How about we head home first? That way I can drop off some of the extra supplies I brought along, and then I'll tell you everything."
"Oh, honey, I keep telling you that you need to stop bringing along more stuff than you need when going on these missions," Ciel said, sighing.
"Hey, you never know what might come in handy!" Aria responded, blushing slightly.
The two of them began heading home, while Aeron and Angeline decided to walk around the town for a bit, while Aeron asked Angeline to tell him more about how the mission went.
Elina watched from a hiding spot near Stella's house as the rescue teams who had returned from Wyvern Island went to drop off the seventh crystal. She made sure no one noticed her as the rescue teams left the house and went their own ways. She considered following Chiaki, when she overheard something:
"This is great!" Bow said, admiring the seven crystals. "Just one more, and we can bring them all back to Axis Tower!"
"Yes…" Stella responded, looking over one of the letters from Samara.
"Is something wrong?" Bow asked, looking over at her mother.
"No, it's nothing," Stella responded, shaking her head. "It's just that Erebos will likely interfere with any attempt to return the crystals, and so it might be time to put together a plan to finally capture him."
"A plan to capture him?" Bow replied, tilting her head. "Does that mean Samara has completed the spell to seal him away?"
"Yes, she has," Stella responded, smiling. "She and Malefica are going to head over here so we can work out a plan together. They may arrive tomorrow, or perhaps the day after that."
After listening for a bit, Elina decided to leave before either of them noticed her presence. It seemed like everything was coming together.
"Tomorrow, I'll tell Chiaki the truth," Elina thought to herself, steeling her resolve.
The next few days would surely be eventful, in one way or another.
Hey everyone! It's time for another chapter of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Reflecting Balance!
Ooh, I'm really excited about this one! You see, this story was born from a particular idea that came to mind while my friends and I were discussing ideas for a Pokémon Mystery Dungeon centered story arc we were planning for the RP we were in. I kept building on this idea, gradually coming up with the story and characters of what would become Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Reflecting Balance. A few details changed along the way as the story evolved, while others stayed within the outline I had of the story.
Now, the idea I mentioned ties into a plot point that I've been keeping to myself since the story began. In other words, I've been keeping it a secret for over eight years. Until now.
That said, please don't spoil what happens in this chapter to anyone who hasn't read it yet, okay?
And with this chapter, the story finally enters it's final stage! To think we've made it this far! I hope you all enjoy this chapter, and that'll be excited to see what happens next! I'll do my best to bring this story to a conclusion I can be satisfied with, and that you guys will hopefully be satisfied with too.
Anyways, here is the new chapter!
Chapter 60: You need to know the truth about what happened that night.
Before heading home after returning from Wyvern Island and dropping off the Axis Tower crystal with Stella, Blitz and his teammates decided to spend some time together at the café to celebrate that another one of the crystals had been retrieved. Azure was also excited to tell her mother about the adventure they had been on.
"… Anyways, that was really clever of you, Frederick," Azure commented, grinning.
"Well, if somebody moved your treasure hoard, wouldn't you try to stop them?" Frederick responded, taking a sip of his berry juice.
The group continued to chat for a while, until Sera had to head home. Blitz and Chiaki left the café shortly after as well. The two walked next to each other as they made their way through the town plaza to get back to their home.
"Wyvern Island was really amazing!" Chiaki said, smiling. "I'd like to go back and explore more of it sometime!"
"Maybe we'll have more opportunities to do so once all the Axis Tower crystals are back and things return to normal," Blitz responded. "After all, the current distortions make going there difficult."
"Yeah…" Chiaki replied, nodding his head slightly. "I wonder where the last crystal could be? We've been to so many different places during our missions to retrieve the other seven, and we've met so many Pokémon…"
Chiaki thought back to the previous missions, and wondered what the Pokémon they had met in those places were doing now. Aside from Wyvern Island, which seemed unaffected so far, how much had the distortion spread in those areas?
As he and Blitz walked home, Chiaki continued to think about the different places they had visited, and hoped that the Pokémon living there were doing okay.
"Maybe once this is all over, we can go back to those dungeons and visit the Pokémon that helped us find the crystals," Chiaki thought to himself.
After returning home and lying down in bed, Chiaki tried to clear his mind and get some sleep.
The next morning, Blitz and Chiaki headed into the town plaza and met with Sera like usual. As they were heading over to meet with Azure and Frederick, the group couldn't help but notice that there seemed to be a few more Pokémon around than there usually was.
"The plaza seems kind of crowded, doesn't it?" Sera commented, looking around.
"Yeah," Blitz responded, nodding his head in agreement.
"Well, over at the café, I heard that the distortions have affected certain places pretty strongly, and some of the Pokémon living there have decided to come here and stay until things calm down," Azure said as she and Frederick walked over to the rest of the team.
"Ah, I see," Blitz responded, looking around at some of the unfamiliar Pokémon. "The distortions haven't reached the town yet, so it makes sense that they'd come here."
"Yeah," Azure replied. "It wouldn't surprise me if we see even more Pokémon showing up here in the next few days."
Chiaki could see a few rescue teams talking to the newcomers. He couldn't quite hear what they were talking about, but he assumed they were answering questions or giving advice or something. It was a rescue team's job to help others, after all.
"So, anyways, what are we doing today?" Azure asked.
Blitz and his teammates headed up to the rescue team HQ, and discovered that there were very few missions on the bulletin boards. Yukio and his teammates were in the process of picking out which missions they would take on today.
"Hmm… These look good," Yukio commented, having picked out two missions in the same dungeon.
"Agreed," Rosie responded, nodding her head slightly. "Shall we head out, then?"
"Oh, hey Chiaki!" Liz said, waving at the Mienfoo as she and her teammates walked past him and his teammates.
"Hi Liz!" Chiaki responded, waving back.
"Can't really talk right now, going on a mission," Liz said, following Yukio and Rosie towards Kala's room. "I'll see you later!"
"Okay, good luck!" Chiaki responded, smiling at Liz.
Blitz and his teammates examined the bulletin boards, looking at the few missions still posted on them.
"Hmm… Not much to choose from," Azure commented.
"I guess more mystery dungeons have been closed off due to distortions," Sera said, briefly glancing at the updated list of distorted dungeons next to the bulletin boards. "Fewer dungeons, fewer missions, I guess."
Blitz picked out some missions from the boards, before the team headed into Kala's room.
"Hey, Kala?" Blitz said, gently shaking Kala's shoulder to wake her up.
"… And then what happened…?" Kala muttered, before opening her eyes and glancing up at Blitz and his teammates. "… Oh."
Kala paused for a moment as she looked over at Chiaki, before sitting up and clearing her throat.
"You know… I should probably consider getting a new pillow," Kala said. "This old thing is kind of worn out…"
"Uh, yes… I can see that," Blitz responded.
"Maybe a pink one… or maybe light blue…" Kala muttered, yawning. "But enough about that… You're here for a mission, aren't you?"
"Uh-huh," Azure said, nodding slightly.
"Got it…" Kala replied, looking at the team once more. "So, who's going…?"
"I'll stay here," Frederick said, taking a step back. "Yesterday's adventure was pretty big, so I'm okay with just taking it easy."
"Ah, right…" Kala responded. "You were among the teams that went to Wyvern Island…"
"Yep!" Chiaki replied, smiling. "It was really amazing! We're definitely going to visit it again someday!"
"…" Kala stared at Chiaki for a moment, before composing herself. "So… I heard there were no distortions on the island?"
"Yeah, that's right," Sera said, nodding her head.
"Interesting…" Kala replied, rubbing one of her eyes. "Not much I can do with that information, though… Wyvern Island being outside of my teleportation range and all that…"
"Is there a way you can increase it?" Chiaki asked.
"Hmm… I suppose if I evolved, the extra power would increase the range…" Kala responded, before crossing her arms and looking away. "But even then, Wyvern Island would probably still be out of reach… and I have no intention of ever evolving, anyways…"
"Oh? Why not?" Chiaki asked, tilting his head slightly.
"… Mustache," Kala muttered.
"Um… What?" Chiaki responded, blinking a few times in confusion.
"Most female Kadabra and Alakazam have shorter mustaches than the male ones," Kala explained. "Since I'm trans… well, I guess you can probably figure it out from there…"
"Ah, yes, that makes sense," Azure responded, nodding slightly.
"Couldn't you just cut the mustache shorter?" Sera asked.
"It would grow back…" Kala replied, crossing her arms. "And besides, the rest of my body would change too…"
"I think I understand," Blitz said. "You think you'd be more comfortable just staying as you are."
"Yeah…" Kala responded, yawning. "Giselle told me she could offer certain treatments if I ever change my mind, but… I won't…"
"That's fine," Azure said, smiling at Kala. "Do whatever works for you."
"Mm-hm…" Kala replied, smiling back at Azure. "So… Where are you all going today?"
Sting stared at the entrance to the mystery dungeon in Nectar Woods, which was currently closed off due to the distortions. Melody and Frosty stayed close to their leader as they looked around at the distorted sections of forest around them. The only Pokémon they had seen since entering the forest were the ones seeking shelter in the big tree. Any other Pokémon living in the forest must've gone somewhere else, based on how quiet it was.
"Hey, let's get out of here already," Frosty said, looking around uncomfortably. "Looking at the distortions is making me kind of dizzy…"
"Frosty is right," Melody responded, gently touching Sting's arm. "There's not much else we can do here at the moment."
"I know…" Sting replied, looking around. "Still, it worries me how much more of the forest has been affected by distortion since our last visit…"
"At least we know Queen Miele and the Pokémon in the tree are okay," Frosty said. "The distortions haven't reached the big tree yet."
"Who knows how long it'll stay that way, though…" Sting buzzed.
"Hey, try to stay positive," Melody said softly, smiling at Sting. "Based on how things have played out so far, it'll probably only be a few days before we get word on where the last Axis Tower crystal is."
"Yeah!" Frosty responded, grinning. "Everything will be back to normal soon!"
"Right…" Sting replied, nodding his head slightly. "For now, I suppose we should be heading back to town. Maybe there's something else we can do today."
Back in Fenix Town, Mirage and her teammates had just returned from a mission of their own. After picking up their rewards from completing the mission, something unexpected happened as they headed into the town plaza.
"Huh? No way…" Mirage said, as she noticed the young Zorua run up to her. "Why are you here?"
Mirage looked up to see her parents walk up her, while a few more Zoroark and Zorua stayed nearby.
"There you are, Mirage!" Mirage's father said, smiling at Mirage.
"You're all here?" Mirage responded, blinking a few times before finally realizing what was going on. "Oh, of course. You're here to escape the distortions like the others that have been showing up here, aren't you?"
"Pretty much," Mirage's father replied. "Things have been getting kind of crazy back home, so we all decided to head over here until things calm down."
"Things are that bad, huh?" Mirage mused, crossing her arms as she looked over the gathered Zoroark and Zorua. "At least you all made it here okay…"
"Plus, it was a chance to go visit you," Mirage's mother said, looking over Mirage. "Hmm, you seem different somehow. Don't you agree?"
"Now that you mention it, she's certainly grown a bit," Mirage's father commented, looking at Mirage. "You've gotten a lot stronger, haven't you?"
"Heh, well, when you're on rescue missions and hunting down outlaws, you get into a lot of battles," Mirage responded, smirking.
"You two are Mirage's friends, aren't you?" Mirage's younger brother asked as he curiously looked at Cordyceps and Megara.
"We're her teammates, yes," Megara responded, nodding her head. "I'm Megara, and that's Cordyceps."
"Nice to meet you!" Mirage's brother replied, smiling at Megara and Cordyceps.
"The mushroom is pleased to meet you too," Cordyceps responded.
"So, have you guys worked out where to stay while you're in town?" Mirage asked her parents.
"We were hoping that you could help us figure things out," Mirage's mother responded.
"Got it," Mirage replied, motioning to the other Zoroark and Zorua gathered to follow as well. "Come on, this way."
Mirage began leading the Zoroark and Zorua towards the rescue team HQ, figuring the Pokémon that helped arrange a place for her to stay in town after she first arrived there that could help her relatives and neighbors find a place to stay until the distortions were no longer an issue. She assumed that the Pokémon in charge of helping with that had a lot of work at the moment, because of all the other Pokémon that were also looking for a place to stay until things were back to normal.
"Hope we won't have to wait in line for too long…" Mirage thought to herself.
Stella had just returned home after heading over to the café to pick up some treats for when Samara and Malefica arrived. It seemed like River had to deal with more work than usual at this time of day, and Stella had a feeling she'd only be getting more to do over the course of the next few days as even more Pokémon from other areas affected by distortion came to seek shelter in Fenix Town.
As Stella stepped inside the house, she noticed that Bow had dozed off next to the chest that currently contained the seven Axis Tower crystals that the rescue teams had retrieved. Stella chuckled softly as she approached her daughter and gently touched her shoulder.
"Bow," Stella said.
"A dungeon…?" Bow muttered, before opening her eyes. "Hmm…? Oh!"
"I'm home, sweetie," Stella said, telekinetically putting away the bag of treats.
"I see," Bow responded, looking around. "Ah, right… I was supposed to be tidying up for Samara and Malefica's visit!"
"Were you using your psychic powers to do so?" Stella asked.
"Uh, yes," Bow responded, nodding her head. "I figured I could do some multi-tasking that way, but I must've overdone it a little… I'll get back to work now!"
"Don't push yourself too hard, dear," Stella said, patting Bow on the head.
"I'll be fine!" Bow replied, smiling up at Stella. "I'll just focus on one task at a time!"
With that, Bow's eyes began to glow as she telekinetically picked up a dust cloth, and resumed cleaning. It seemed Bow had things under control, so Stella decided to let her handle it on her own for now. Samara would likely be arriving soon, and then they could work out a plan to deal with Erebos. Knowing that, and that there was only one Axis Tower crystal left to find, Stella couldn't help but feel cautiously optimistic about events soon to come.
Of course, she would have to work extra hard these next few days to ensure the best possible outcome.
After returning from their mission, Blitz and his teammates headed for the café, where they met with Frederick.
"Oh, you're back!" Frederick said, walking up to them. "Just in time, too."
"What do you mean?" Sera asked.
Stepping inside the café, the rescue team quickly noticed that were a lot of customers in the café this early evening.
"Ah, Azure!" River said, waving at her daughter. "Good timing, I could use some help!"
"Okay!" Azure responded, running over to help out.
"I'll help too!" Frederick said, following Azure.
The remaining three team members stayed by the entrance, looking around.
"… Should we help too?" Chiaki asked.
"Hmm… I need to be home soon," Sera responded, glancing out the window.
While Blitz was trying to decide on what to do, Chiaki suddenly heard a voice in his head.
"… Elina?" Chiaki said, looking around.
"Chiaki, there's something I must tell you," Elina stated telepathically. "Can you come meet me now?"
"Now?" Chiaki responded.
"It's important," Elina replied.
"Is Elina talking to you?" Sera asked, having heard Chiaki's reactions.
"Yeah," Chiaki responded, nodding his head. "She wants to tell me something."
"Tell you what?" Sera replied, tilting her head slightly.
"I don't know," Chiaki responded, shrugging slightly. "She hasn't told me yet."
"Oh," Sera replied.
"She did say it was important, though," Chiaki said, looking towards the exit to the café. "I wonder what it could be about…"
"Well, if it's important, then you should probably go see her," Blitz responded.
"Yeah! Don't worry about me!" Azure shouted.
"Azure?" Chiaki replied, looking over at the Marill.
"We can handle this many customers, no problem!" Azure said, grinning.
"… Okay," Chiaki responded, nodding his head. "I'll go look for her, then."
"We can help you look!" Sera said, smiling.
Chiaki, along with Blitz and Sera stepped outside, only for Chiaki to hear Elina's voice again.
"Also, I wish to speak to you alone," Elina requested. "You'll likely want to tell your teammates later, but for now, I just want this to be between the two of us."
"Ah… She says she just to talk to me alone," Chiaki said, looking at his teammates.
"Oh, okay," Blitz responded. "I guess that's fine."
"I'll meet you back at the house later," Chiaki said, smiling at Blitz.
"All right," Blitz responded, smiling back. "See you later, then!"
"See you later, Chiaki!" Sera said, waving a paw at Chiaki.
Chiaki briefly stopped to wave back at Sera, before running off on his own to look for Elina.
"Wonder what she wants to tell him?" Sera said. "Could it be related to his missing memories?"
"It might be," Blitz responded, nodding his head.
"Hmm… Part of me kind of wants to follow him and listen in on their talk…" Sera admitted, her ears drooping down a bit. "Oh, but I guess we'd only hear Chiaki's end of the conversation…"
"Let's just leave them alone," Blitz responded, smiling at Sera. "Come on, I'll walk you home."
Guided by Elina's psychic powers, Chiaki soon found himself in a secluded spot in town with no one else around. He looked around, until he spotted Elina hovering nearby, looking at him.
"Elina…" Chiaki said, smiling at the Elgyem. "There you are."
"… Elina?" Chiaki said, tilting his head slightly. "Is something wrong?"
Elina closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
"Chiaki…" Elina said via telepathy. "There's something I need to tell you…"
"Yes, you already told me that," Chiaki responded, looking a bit concerned. "Did something happen?"
"It's about what happened at Axis Tower," Elina explained, opening her eyes and staring right at Chiaki. "The night the crystals were stolen."
"Huh?" Chiaki responded, blinking a few times.
"It's time…" Elina said, still looking right at Chiaki. "You need to know the truth about what happened that night."
"… Okay," Chiaki responded, nodding his head. "I'm listening."
"All right…" Elina said, motioning for Chiaki to sit down. "It all happened so quickly… Erebos suddenly appeared inside the tower that one night, and with his strange powers, he managed to defeat my father and the other guards…"
Chiaki sat down on the ground and listened closely to Elina as she told her story.
"Erebos didn't attack me… Maybe it was because he didn't notice me, or he didn't see me as a threat," Elina explained, looking away. "Whatever his reason, he left me alone…"
"That must've been scary," Chiaki commented.
"It was," Elina responded. "Anyways, after he had knocked out the guards, he started removing the crystals from their pedestals… he took the seven crystals surrounding the clear one in the center, and that's when… something unexpected happened."
"Something unexpected?" Chiaki inquired.
"Before I even knew it, I had somehow grabbed the last crystal before he could," Elina explained, looking down at her hands. "I didn't even remember teleporting… I just… I did it without thinking."
Chiaki looked at Elina in awe as she explained how she got the crystal away from Erebos.
"And then, I somehow managed to get outside… the gray cloak I was wearing protected me from the rain," Elina continued, wrapping her arms around herself. "I moved as fast as I could to try to get away from Erebos… I fled into the Meridian Forest, while he chased after me…"
"And then what happened!?" Chiaki asked, standing up.
"I tried to hide in some bushes, but then I almost got hit by a Shadow Ball attack, and I… dropped the crystal," Elina explained, closing her eyes. "I ended up leaving my hiding spot in the process of avoiding the attack, and as I tried to get up, I tripped on something as Erebos hovered right above me…"
"But you were able to get away from Erebos, right?" Chiaki said.
"Yes… I managed to teleport away…" Elina responded.
"That's good," Chiaki replied, nodding his head slightly. "But… what happened to the crystal?"
"Yeah, about that…" Elina responded, looking away for a moment. "Before I teleported away from that area, there were two things that I noticed…"
"Two things?" Chiaki inquired.
"Yes…" Elina replied, sighing. "The first was… what I had tripped on…"
"What was it?" Chiaki asked.
"A mystery dungeon trap," Elina responded, looking right at Chiaki. "Specifically, it was a Pokémon trap."
"… A… Pokémon trap?" Chiaki replied, feeling a sudden uneasiness as he repeated those words. "That's… the trap that turns items into Pokémon, right?"
"Correct," Elina responded, nodding her head.
Elina's gaze seemed to get even more intense after she had told Chiaki about what she had seen. Chiaki was starting to get a certain idea of what Elina was trying to tell him, but…
"And just before I teleported away…" Elina said telepathically. "I saw something in the bushes… Where the crystal should've been…"
Chiaki tensed up.
"Chiaki… What do you think I saw?" Elina asked.
"What you… saw?" Chiaki responded, taking a step backwards. "How would I know that…?"
Elina signed, and hovered closer to Chiaki. She gently placed a hand on his shoulder, and looked into his eyes.
"Chiaki…" Elina said telepathically, her eyes showing sympathy for her friend as she revealed the truth. "The last Axis Tower crystal… it's you."
"… Me?" Chiaki responded, staring blankly at Elina.
"The reason you have no memories of who you really are isn't because you lost them," Elina explained. "You never had any memories to begin with."
"Huh? No, that's not right…" Chiaki replied, shaking his head. "Because back then, I remembered your name…"
"True, I still don't understand how you were able to recall my name," Elina responded, moving back a little. "That's why I was so surprised when you first called me by my name…"
Chiaki thought back to the day he tried to catch up to Elina so he could talk to her. Judging from the look in her eyes back then, she did seem really confused that he had known her name. At the time, Chiaki had just assumed it was because she was already aware of his memory loss.
"Perhaps you felt some sense of familiarity with me from your time as the Axis Tower crystal?" Elina wondered, tilting her head. "That's my best guess, anyways…"
"I… I see…" Chiaki responded, blinking a few times.
"Anyways… I came here to keep an eye on you," Elina explained. "While I may not be an Axis Tower guard just yet, I still felt I had to make sure that one crystal was safe. And in your current form, Erebos would be unable to find you, as long as he never realized what had happened."
"Is that why… you didn't tell me anything, until now?" Chiaki asked.
"Exactly," Elina responded, nodding her head. "If you or anyone else found out, and you came across Erebos… He could discover the truth. Even if the chance of that exactly scenario happening was small, I couldn't take that risk."
"I… understand…" Chiaki replied, looking away.
"But now, all of the crystals are gathered," Elina stated telepathically, touching her hands together. "Once Erebos has been dealt with, we can return them to Axis Tower."
"Of course, there's still one other issue besides Erebos…" Elina said telepathically, looking at Chiaki with a look of discomfort. "All eight crystals need to be returned to their spots in order for their power to restore things to normal, and as you are now, I doubt it'll work…"
"… So, what do we do about that?" Chiaki asked, the question slipping out as the thought struck him.
"I don't know," Elina replied, shaking her head. "A way to return you to your true form... I have no idea how such a thing can be done."
"Really…" Chiaki responded, staring blankly at Elina.
"I suppose there's that urban legend about an orb that can turn Pokémon into items," Elina mused. "But even if such an item really existed, I don't think we could rely on it… Perhaps that magic user knows of a way."
"The magic user… You mean, Samara?" Chiaki asked.
"Yes, her," Elina responded, nodding her head. "I believe she would be our best bet."
"… Yeah," Chiaki replied. "If anyone would know of a way, it'd probably her…"
Elina moved closer to Chiaki once more, and gently grabbed his paw.
"I understand that this is a lot to take in," Elina said telepathically, looking at Chiaki with a hint of sadness in her eyes. "It's… difficult for me too."
"Elina…" Chiaki said, looking at Elina.
"After all, if you do return to your original form…" Elina continued, looking away. "You… the Mienfoo known as Chiaki… might cease to exist."
Chiaki didn't respond. Elina wasn't sure if he even registered that last part. All of this information had to be pretty overwhelming for him, so Elina wasn't surprised by Chiaki's reaction.
"… You know, there's still some time," Elina told Chiaki via telepathy. "We can't really return the crystals until Erebos has been dealt with. So, until then, try to make good use of your time."
Chiaki still didn't respond.
"… I guess you need some time to let this all sink in," Elina said telepathically, moving away from Chiaki. "I'll give you some space."
Elina floated away, leaving Chiaki by himself. Chiaki stayed there for a while, unable to sort out his thoughts. He pressed his paw against his chest and closed his eyes. He could feel his heart beating. After a while, he slowly raised his head and opened his eyes.
"… What time is it…?" Chiaki wondered out loud, as he looked around.
It had gotten darker out. How long had he been talking to Elina? How long had he been standing here like this?
"… I should get home," Chiaki said to himself. "Blitz is probably wondering why I'm not back yet…"
Chiaki began making his way back, walking through the town plaza. A lot of thoughts were stirring in his head, but he tried to ignore them for now. Right now, he just had to get home. Blitz was surely waiting for him, after all. Chiaki could sort out his thoughts once he had returned home.
Nice strat. When you've got a way to nullify attacks, might as well use it!
"Ah, I see," the one with the long legs responded, not noticing the way Chiaki was curiously looking up at the upper half of his body when he spoke, in an attempt to try to figure out where his mouth was.
The mushroom is right to remain wary about these things!
A short distance away from all the buildings, were the other three rescue teams and a few of the local Pokémon. As they walked closer, one of the Pokémon, a female Garchomp, turned to look at the newcomers. As he looked up at the bipedal dragon-type Pokémon, Blitz noticed that there was a slight glint to her scales.
Awww. That whole scene was sweet. And it was nice to get a little bit more background for good ol’ Cordy.
Interesting that the Dream World has been brought up now. I’m wondering if that’s going to factor into things any further than it has now.
And the reveal about Chiaki, dang... I should probably put up a spoiler for this bit, heh.
If what Elina says is true (the matter of him already knowing her name before she told him techincally does leave a little room for doubt), then holy macaroni. I think this is the very first time I’ve ever seen “used to be an item” as an origin for a character suddenly finding themself in a PMD world, and the ramifications here are especially interesting. I mean, in a sense, Chiaki’s just learned that he might very well have what amounts to a terminal illness. He’s being faced with possibly having to sacrifice himself to save the world. That’s a pretty freaking heavy weight to fall on a person right there, and it looks like it’s already starting to have something of an impact on him.
Sike Saner: Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I'm glad you're enjoying the story so far, and yeah, that reveal has certainly left Chiaki with a lot to think about.
On that note, hey everyone! It's been a while, hasn't it? Well, the wait is finally over! A new chapter of Reflecting Balance is finally ready!
I felt posting a new chapter today was kind of appropriate, as today happens to be the tenth year anniversery of the Pokémon roleplay I've mentioned a few times, and like I mentioned in the previous chapter, it is partially thanks to that roleplay that this story even exists. You see, during a brainstorming session for a PMD arc, we bounced around a few ideas, until I had a particular thought:
What if an item of importance to the setting (something like the Time Gears or something similar) got transformed into a Pokémon by a Pokémon trap?
And from there, I began developing the idea for this fanfic.
So, with that little bit of backstory out of the way, I guess you're all curious about what will happen next. Well, let's find out!
This chapter also features the appearance of characters who were introduced in Sirena's special episode.
I hope you'll all enjoy this chapter! Feel free to leave a comment if you have any thoughts!
Chapter 61: I think I know what’s going on.
Stella and Bow watched the night sky as it got later into the night, seeking guidance from the stars about the future. After a while, Stella suddenly sensed something nearby.
“Ah, they’re here,” Stella said, looking over at Bow. “I’ll go greet our guests; you can keep watching the stars.”
“Mm-hm,” Bow responded, absent-mindedly nodding her head.
Stella got up and headed down to the first floor. She walked over to the front door and looked outside, to see Samara and Malefica at the entrance.
“Sorry if I kept you waiting,” Samara said, smiling at Stella.
“Don’t worry about it,” Stella responded, shaking her head. “Come on in.”
The two ghost-type Pokémon floated into the house, with Malefica quickly heading for the second floor.
“Is Bow up there?” Samara asked.
“Yes,” Stella replied, nodding her head. “She should still be watching the stars.”
“I hope Malefica does not disturb her,” Samara said, sighing. “She can be a difficult one, at times.”
Samara floated upstairs to check on her apprentice, and to her surprise found that the Misdreavus was just patiently floating next to Bow, watching her with a curious expression.
“You see anything yet?” Malefica whispered to Bow.
“Hmm…” Bow responded, still keeping her gaze fixed on the stars.
“I guess Malefica has taken a liking to her,” Stella commented, looking at the two.
“Yes, it seems that way,” Samara responded.
“How nice,” Stella said, smiling. “It’s probably fine to leave them be for now. Shall we begin our strategy meeting?”
“Sure,” Samara responded, nodding her head. “Also, I’ve made the arrangements to ensure that Erebos does not return again once we’ve sealed him away once more.”
“Oh, is that so?” Stella replied.
“Yes,” Samara responded, taking out the magic box. “Once we’ve captured Erebos, I only need to bring this to him.”
“I see,” Stella replied, examining the box. “I can feel the power emanating from it. You’ve done a great job.”
“Thank you,” Samara responded, putting the box away. “It took a while, but I was finally able to complete it.”
“Hmm… Thinking about what’s to come, I almost feel a little excited,” Stella said, chuckling a little.
“Well, we are faced with a rare challenge,” Samara responded, smirking. “Everyone is counting on us, so we’d better come up with a good plan.”
Stella and Samara began their discussion of what to do, while Bow continued watching the stars with Malefica by her side.
Chiaki was lying in his bed, trying to get to sleep. No matter how much he tried, he just couldn’t get the conversation he’d had with Elina earlier that night out of his mind.
“The last Axis Tower crystal… it’s you.”
Elina had finally told Chiaki the truth of who, or rather, what he was. Part of him found it difficult to believe, but he didn’t think Elina was lying. She seemed so serious about it.
“Maybe… it was a misunderstanding?” Chiaki thought to himself. “She was being chased by Erebos, so maybe she misremembered what she saw because of the stressful situation…”
As Chiaki continued to think about it, he gradually realized that it was unlikely that Elina had made a mistake. Looking back on everything that had happened since meeting Blitz and Sera, Chiaki realized that some of the things he had experienced made sense if he really was the Axis Tower crystal.
“Back in Nightmirror Forest…” Chiaki thought. “What was it that the illusion of me said again?”
Chiaki couldn’t remember the entire conversation at the moment, but he did manage to recall a few words that had stood out to him.
“Deep down, you know that there’s somewhere else you should be, don’t you?”
“Part of you already knows the truth, but doesn’t want to accept it!”
Chiaki opened his eyes, staring up at the ceiling.
“The truth… is that what they meant?” Chiaki thought to himself, sighing. “Although, the one who made the illusion couldn’t have known that, since I didn’t know the truth at that point…”
“Still, for them to be able to figure that much out, maybe a part of me really did know all this time…” Chiaki thought.
Chiaki remembered the time they retrieved the first Axis Tower crystal from Harmony Forest, and that strange feeling he got when he touched it. Did the Axis Tower crystals recognize each other, somehow? And then there was that dream he had after he got knocked out during the mission on Mt. Frostbite, in which he saw the crystal that had been frozen, and got the feeling it was calling out to him…
“It must be true…” Chiaki thought to himself. “I’m… an Axis Tower crystal…”
Chiaki glanced over at Blitz, who was asleep.
“How do I explain this to the others?” Chiaki thought, closing his eyes.
When Chiaki had returned home after his conversation with Elina, Blitz had been curious about what they had been talking about. Chiaki had managed to avoid the question by saying he’d tell everyone about it later, but he wasn’t sure how to tell them. Telling them he was one of the Axis Tower crystals that had accidentally been transformed into a Pokémon… how would they even react to that?
“Hmm… I’ll figure it out tomorrow…” Chiaki thought, trying to clear his mind once more so he could get some sleep.
Chiaki wasn’t entirely sure when he had finally fallen asleep. When he woke up the next day, he found that Blitz was already awake.
“Oh, you’re awake,” Blitz said, looking over at Chiaki. “Good morning.”
“Good morning…” Chiaki responded, yawning. “What time is it?”
“I’m not sure,” Blitz replied, shaking his head. “When I last checked the position of the sun, it seemed like it was getting close to noon…”
“Huh? Why didn’t you wake me up earlier, then?” Chiaki asked, looking surprised.
“I tried, but you seemed kind of tired,” Blitz responded. “So, I decided to wait for you.”
“Oh… Thanks,” Chiaki replied, blinking a few times.
“So… Should we head out, then?” Blitz suggested. “The others are probably waiting for us.”
“Yeah… Let’s go,” Chiaki responded, nodding his head.
As the two began their walk into town together, Chiaki couldn’t help but wonder why Blitz didn’t ask him about last night. Was he going to wait until the whole team was gathered?
“I have to tell them…” Chiaki thought to himself, clenching his fist. “I should just… tell them that I’m an Axis Tower crystal…”
“Blitz! Chiaki!” Sera called out, interrupting Chiaki’s train of thought.
Sera had been waiting for them in the town plaza, along with Azure and Frederick.
“Hey guys,” Blitz said, as he and Chiaki walked over to them.
“What took you guys so long?” Azure asked, looking a little annoyed. “Don’t you realize that we have to get to the HQ early if we want any missions these days?”
“Calm down, Azure,” Sera said, looking over at the Marill.
Chiaki took a deep breath, figuring it was time to explain the situation to the others, but as he tried to speak, he suddenly felt as if the words were stuck in his throat. He tried again to find the right words to explain himself, but the words just wouldn’t come to him. The thought of telling the others the truth had left him unable to say anything.
“What’s going on?” Chiaki thought, staring down at his paws. “My paws are trembling…”
Chiaki quickly hid his paws behind his back so that the others would not notice.
“I’m sorry,” Azure said, sighing. “I guess I’m just feeling a little stressed out by everything going on… I need to fight something.”
“Well, no one can blame you for that,” Sera responded. “The situation has left a lot of Pokémon feeling on edge.”
“It’ll be okay,” Frederick said, nuzzling up against Azure. “I heard that Stella is working on a plan to capture Erebos.”
“She is?” Chiaki asked, snapping out of his thoughts.
“Yeah, I heard it too,” Azure responded. “Apparently she and that Mismagius from Silver Woods are working on it.”
“I see,” Blitz replied. “So, we just have to wait, then.”
“Yeah…” Chiaki responded, nodding slightly.
“In the meantime, why don’t we head over to the dojo?” Blitz suggested, smiling. “Doing some training there might be a good way to relieve some of that stress.”
Chiaki couldn’t help but notice the knowing look Blitz sent in his direction as he said that.
“Sounds good to me,” Azure responded, perking up. “Tell Hercules to find me some opponents that can take a hit!”
“Guess I’m up for some training,” Sera said, stretching.
“Yeah, sure,” Frederick said, nodding his head.
“He’s not going to bring it up?” Chiaki thought, tilting his head slightly.
“All right, should we get going, then?” Blitz asked.
“Huh? Oh, yeah, let’s go,” Chiaki responded, nodding his head.
As they were walking to the dojo, Chiaki couldn’t help but feel a little relieved that Blitz hadn’t asked any questions about last night. At the same time, he couldn’t help but wonder why he didn’t bring it up.
“I have to tell them…” Chiaki thought to himself. “But… I guess I don’t have to tell them right away?”
Chiaki sighed, and decided to let it go for now. Perhaps Blitz was right. Maybe some training at the dojo would help him clear his mind. He could try to figure out how to explain things to the others later.
At the rescue team HQ, Kala was mumbling in her sleep and hugging her pillow as she felt someone touch her shoulder. Kala slowly opened her eyes and looked over to see Elina standing next to her.
“Oh, hello there,” Kala said, yawning and rubbing her eyes.
“Hey,” Elina responded via telepathy, staring down at the floor.
Kala sat up and looked at Elina.
“So, I’m guessing you told Chiaki the truth?” Kala asked.
“Yes, I did…” Elina responded, nodding slightly.
“I see…” Kala replied, letting Elina sit down next to her.
“Everything will be over soon,” Elina said telepathically. “I guess we just need to wait for Erebos to be captured…”
“Mm-hm…” Kala responded, looking at Elina thoughtfully. “You okay?”
“Not really…” Elina replied, shaking her head. “But… even if I feel bad for Chiaki, there’s no other way things can end.”
“Yeah, I suppose that’s true,” Kala responded, sighing. “I wonder if Chiaki will really be able to accept this?”
“Well, if he truly has some recollection of being the Axis Tower crystal…” Elina replied. “… and he wishes to protect his friends, then surely he will…”
“Hmm, even so… It’s got to be tough to accept,” Kala responded, crossing her arms.
“I know…” Elina replied, nodding her head solemnly. “I feel conflicted too… Perhaps if I had just stuck to my original plan of observing Chiaki from afar and not gotten too close, then maybe this would’ve been a little easier.”
“… I could see that leading to different problems,” Kala said, looking over at Elina. “I mean, if a strange Pokémon kept following you like that, wouldn’t you eventually ask one of the other rescue teams to scare them off?”
“Ah, well… When you put it like that…” Elina responded, looking a little embarrassed.
“Anyways, it doesn’t really matter at this point, does it?” Kala said. “What has happened has happened, there’s no changing it.”
“Yeah, you’re right…” Elina responded. “The situation isn’t going to change, so… Chiaki and I… we both have to accept it.”
The two stayed in the room for a while, Kala trying her best to comfort Elina. While Elina was mature for her age, Kala knew that this whole situation must’ve been hard for the young Elgyem to deal with. Kala hoped she could help Elina at least a little bit, even if only by supporting her throughout the rest of it.
At the dojo, Blitz was watching his teammates do some training. Sera was working on improving her reflexes and reaction time, jumping out of the way to dodge incoming attacks. Azure was fighting against two Pokémon at once, smacking one of them into the other with her tail. Frederick was trying to improve the strength of his attacks.
Blitz was keeping an extra close eye on Chiaki, who was currently sparring with Lotus. He frowned as he observed their battle, before noticing Hercules walking up to join him in observing the others.
“… You see it too, right?” Blitz asked, looking over at Hercules.
Lotus kept dodging Chiaki’s attacks without much effort, but that wasn’t the strange part. Chiaki’s face was almost expressionless as he kept trying to land a hit on Lotus.
“Something does seem off about his movements,” Hercules responded, nodding slightly. “He usually seems to be having fun when training here, but right now…”
“I wish I knew what was bothering him,” Blitz said, rubbing his forelegs together. “But I know that if I ask, he won’t tell me.”
“I see…” Hercules responded, looking over at Blitz. “So, what are you going to do?”
“I’m not sure,” Blitz replied, shaking his head. “I suppose I’ll have to wait until he’s ready to tell me, but who knows how long that will take? It took me a really long time to open up to the others… and even then, it wasn’t until they had already learned the truth from you.”
“I already forgave you, you know,” Blitz replied, looking over at Hercules. “Besides, things have gotten better since then.”
“I can tell,” Hercules responded, smiling at Blitz. “You seem more confident than before.”
“Yeah, I guess I am,” Blitz replied with a thoughtful expression. “Being with the others makes me feel stronger, somehow.”
“Well, that’s what having good friends is all about,” Hercules responded. “They can help you grow and broaden your perspective, helping you discover things you might not have discovered on your own.”
“Hmm, I guess you’re right,” Blitz replied, nodding slightly as he glanced over at Sera. “I feel like Sera has changed a lot too.”
“She has certainly matured quite a bit these past few weeks,” Hercules commented. “I’m pretty sure it’s because you in some way inspired her.”
“Really?” Blitz asked, looking up at Hercules.
“Like I said, that’s what friends do,” Hercules responded, grinning. “You inspired her, and then she inspired you.”
“Hmm, I guess you’re right…” Blitz replied, looking over at Chiaki again with a thoughtful expression. “So… Maybe there’s a way I can help Chiaki find the strength to speak up about what is troubling him?”
“I’m sure you can,” Hercules responded, petting Blitz’s head. “Just keep looking out for your friends, and follow your instincts.”
“All right,” Blitz replied, nodding his head.
Blitz kept watching Chiaki, who seemed almost desperate as he kept trying to land a hit on Lotus.
“I don’t really know what to do…” Blitz thought to himself, his expression becoming more determined. “But I’ll think of something.”
Sirena was reading through a book she hadn’t read in a while, about a group of friends living on an island and going on adventures together. Flare and Volt were also in the room, playing a board game, while Yoru was taking a nap. As Sirena was reading through a part where one of the heroines, a Kirlia, had to take part in a dancing contest hosted by a Honchcrow in order to obtain an important item, she suddenly heard a noise coming from outside. Shortly afterwards, Amethyst stepped into the room.
“Sirena? We have visitors,” Amethyst said. “I think they’re friends of yours.”
Curious, Sirena headed to the front door, and was surprised to see a familiar face outside.
“Svanhild!” Sirena exclaimed, as she spotted the Swanna.
“It’s nice to see you, darling,” Svanhild responded, looking at Sirena fondly.
Sirena quickly noticed that Svanhild wasn’t the only one standing there. There were two other Swanna standing to the left and right of Svanhild, looking at her curiously. Sirena hadn’t met either of them before, but it was easy to guess who they were from previous conversations with Svanhild.
“I’m guessing you two must be Svanhild’s sisters?” Sirena asked, as Flare and Volt curiously approached to get a look at the visitors.
“That’s right,” the Swanna on the right said, nodding her head. “I’m Sigrid.”
“And I’m Bianca,” the Swanna on the left said. “It’s nice to finally meet you.”
“Ah, it’s nice to meet you too,” Sirena responded. “So, um… What brings you all here?”
“Well, distortions have been getting worse lately,” Svanhild explained. “It’s started affecting our home, and since it is likely going to get keep spreading, we figured we might as well fly on over to Fenix Town since we’ve heard distortions haven’t affected it yet.”
“Oh, I see,” Sirena responded, glancing over in the direction of the town plaza. “It seems quite a few Pokémon from other places are doing that lately…”
“We also happened to come across Irvin on the way here,” Svanhild continued, briefly looking behind her. “I believe he should be catching up to us soon enough.”
“Irvin too, huh?” Sirena replied, sighing. “The situation has really gotten bad…”
“Ah, but there is also a bright side to this,” Svanhild said, chuckling a bit. “We finally have an opportunity to meet each other’s families, and we’ll get to spend more time together!”
“Oh! You have a point there,” Sirena responded, blushing slightly. “Spending time with you… I like that a lot…”
Flare and Volt seemed unsure what to make of this interaction between Sirena and Svanhild, while Sigrid and Bianca exchanged knowing glances. Amethyst just smiled and took a step forward.
“I look forward to getting to know you all better,” Amethyst said.
“Same here,” Svanhild responded, nodding her head. “By the way, where is the rest of the family? Not home?”
“Well, Yoru is here,” Sirena replied, glancing towards their room. “I guess he’s still napping.”
“Should I go get him?” Volt asked.
“It’s fine, no need to rush,” Svanhild responded, shaking her head.
“Our parents are out shopping, they should be back soon,” Sirena explained. “And Sera is hanging out with her friends somewhere. She’ll be back in a few hours.”
“Ah, I see,” Svanhild responded.
“Whew… I finally caught up…” another voice said, and the group looked over to see that Irvin the Feraligatr had shown up.
“There you are,” Svanhild said.
“Yeah…” Irvin responded, taking a moment to catch his breath. “Hey, Sirena.”
“Hi, Irvin,” Sirena replied, smiling.
“Ah, so that’s the other friend you told me about,” Amethyst said, looking over at Irvin.
“Whoa, he’s huge,” Volt commented as he looked at Irvin. “Is he really the same age as Sirena?”
“He’s a year older than us,” Svanhild explained.
While Svanhild continued to talk to Sirena and her siblings, her sisters moved closer to Irvin.
“You know, I don’t really understand Svanhild’s tastes,” Bianca whispered, briefly glancing over in the direction of Sirena. “I think Pokémon with feathers are much more appealing.”
“Oh, don’t be like that, Bianca,” Sigrid responded, shaking her head. “I think it’s nice that Svanhild has found someone like Sirena. And it seems Sirena returns her affections as well.”
“She definitely does,” Irvin whispered, nodding his head. “Having spent plenty of time around those two, it is pretty obvious that Sirena’s got a crush on Svanhild. Although Sirena herself hasn’t quite figured that out yet, so don’t mention it around her.”
“Oh, so that’s how it is,” Sigrid said, chuckling a little. “Mm-hm-hm… Don’t worry, we won’t say anything.”
“Yeah, it’ll be more interesting to wait and see how long it takes her to figure it out,” Bianca added.
“Glad we’re all on the same wavelength, then,” Irvin responded, grinning.
“What are the three of you whispering about over there?” Svanhild asked, looking over at them.
“Oh, nothing,” Sigrid responded, shaking her head.
“Hmm… Fine,” Svanhild replied. “Anyways, I suppose we should be heading over to see if we can figure out where exactly we’ll be staying for now. Apparently, the rescue team HQ should be able to help us out.”
“All right,” Irvin responded, nodding his head. “How do we get there?”
“Amethyst told me how to get there,” Svanhild replied.
“Excellent,” Sigrid responded. “Show us the way.”
Svanhild told Sirena she would be back to see her soon, and that she looked forward to getting to know Sirena’s family better while spending these next few days together. Sirena smiled and blushed as she returned the sentiment. Svanhild, her sisters and Irvin then began making their way towards the town plaza so they could get to the rescue team HQ.
At the dojo, Hercules and Lotus were watching as Blitz and his teammates fought against another one of the dojo’s Pokémon. A mole-like Pokémon with brown fur and claws covered in steel was giving the five of them quite the challenge, even with both Azure and Chiaki having a type advantage against the Excadrill. The Excadrill kept making use of his claws to drill into the dirt floor of the area, leaving his opponents to try and predict where he might pop up next.
“Do you hear him?” Frederick asked as he moved closer to Azure.
“I’m trying,” Azure responded, her ears twitching as she tried to track the Excadrill’s movements.
“If he tries to go for me, I might be able to blind him with a flash of light,” Blitz said, glancing around.
“Are you can pull that off in time?” Sera asked. “Ground-type attacks are super effective against you, so if he lands that attack…”
“Don’t worry,” Blitz responded, shaking his head. “I’ve got this.”
“But what do we do if he doesn’t attack you?” Frederick asked.
“Guys, I hear something!” Azure shouted, her ears twitching. “Prepare yourselves!”
Looking around, the ground saw the Excadrill emerge from the ground, popping up near Sera and Chiaki.
“I’ve got this!” Chiaki exclaimed, dashing towards the Excadrill.
Chiaki attempted to punch the Excadrill, only for the Excadrill to raise his arms to block the attack with his steel claws. Chiaki let out a pained yelp as he accidentally scraped his right arm against the steel claws.
“Whoa, you okay?” the Excadrill asked.
“Ah… Just a scratch…” Chiaki responded, wincing in pain.
“Should I go get the first-aid kit?” Lotus asked Hercules.
“Yeah, you do that,” Hercules responded, before waving to Chiaki. “Hey, come over here.”
Chiaki told the others to continue training while he walked over to Hercules. Hercules examined the scrape on Chiaki’s arm as Lotus returned with the first-aid kit.
“It’s nothing serious,” Hercules said. “Let’s just make sure it doesn’t get infected.”
“I’ll handle it,” Lotus said, calmly placing the first-aid kit down and opening it. “This might sting a little.”
Chiaki winced as Lotus began to clean the wound.
“Relax, this will not take long,” Lotus said, not looking up from her task.
“Mm-hm…” Chiaki responded, looking away.
“Don’t feel bad,” Hercules said, looking at Chiaki. “We all have bad days once in a while. It can really throw you off.”
Chiaki didn’t respond.
“… There, this should do,” Lotus said, as she finished cleaning the wound and prepared to bandage it.
Chiaki nodded his head slightly, staying still while Lotus bandaged the wound.
“Thanks,” Chiaki said, looking at his now bandaged right arm.
“No problem,” Lotus responded, closing the first-aid kit. “It should only take a few days for it to heal.”
Chiaki nodded, and looked back over at his teammates. It seemed like Azure had managed to hit the Excadrill in the face with her Bubble Beam attack as he emerged from the ground, and Sera and Frederick were using the opportunity to get their own attacks in.
“Seems they’ve got it under control,” Hercules commented.
“Mm-hm…” Chiaki responded, nodding his head slightly.
Chiaki looked over at Blitz, who seemed to be instructing his teammates on what to do.
“Why didn’t he ask…” Chiaki muttered, realizing a second later that he had said that out loud.
Chiaki glanced over at Lotus and Hercules, who had both heard what he said.
“If it’s bothering you, then you should ask him,” Lotus said, shrugging slightly. “He won’t know what you’re thinking unless you say something, and vice versa. Neither of you can read minds, after all.”
“… Right,” Chiaki responded, nodding his head slightly. “I’ll do that…”
As they were leaving the dojo after finishing the training, Chiaki tried once again to think of a way to explain things to his teammates. However, when he tried to open his mouth to say something, he couldn’t get the words out.
“Not again,” Chiaki thought, shuddering a bit. “Why do I feel so strange? What’s happening to me? I don’t understand…”
“Chiaki, are you okay?” Sera asked.
“Huh?” Chiaki responded, looking over at his concerned teammate as his train of thought was interrupted.
“Your breathing got all weird for a moment there,” Azure commented, giving Chiaki a stern look.
“Ah… It did?” Chiaki responded, blinking a few times.
“It did,” Azure replied.
“I heard it too,” Frederick said, tilting his head. “Is something wrong?”
“Uh…” Chiaki responded, taking a step backwards. “I… I didn’t mean to worry you guys…”
“Wait…” Sera said, as she realized something. “Is this about whatever Elina wanted to talk about last night? You didn’t tell us how that went.”
Chiaki tried to say something, but couldn’t. The words felt like they were stuck in his throat.
“That’s enough, everyone,” Blitz said, stepping in. “This isn’t the time for this.”
“Huh? What does that mean?” Azure asked.
“Chiaki will tell us everything when he’s ready, isn’t that right, Chiaki?” Blitz said, glancing over at Chiaki.
Chiaki stared at Blitz for a moment, before nodding his head slightly in response.
“Good,” Blitz said, smiling. “So, let’s drop the subject for now, okay?”
“Blitz…” Sera responded, seeing the look in Blitz’s eyes. “… All right.”
“I don’t really get it,” Azure commented, before shrugging slightly. “But okay. I’ll let it go.”
“Sorry if we made you feel uncomfortable,” Frederick said. “We were just concerned.”
“Yeah,” Sera responded, her ears drooping down slightly. “I’m worried, but… if you can’t tell us, then I guess there’s not much we can do about that…”
The group talked for a bit more, before they decided to head home for the night. While walking home, Blitz looked over at Chiaki walking next to him.
“Is your arm okay?” Blitz asked, looking over Chiaki’s right arm.
“Mm-hm…” Chiaki responded, nodding his head slightly.
The two continued to walk in silence for a bit, before Chiaki spoke up.
“Thanks…” Chiaki said, looking over at Blitz. “Back there, I…”
“Don’t worry about it,” Blitz responded, shaking his head. “I think I know what’s going on.”
“… You do?” Chiaki asked, tilting his head slightly.
“Yeah,” Blitz responded, nodding his head. “Having something you can’t tell anyone, because you’re afraid of what will happen once you do. Feeling like once everyone knows, then everything will change.”
“Everything… will change…” Chiaki repeated, looking down thoughtfully.
“Everyone might see you differently, and you don’t want that,” Blitz continued. “Because you like things as they are, and you want them to stay that way. You want to hold on to the things that have become important to you.”
Chiaki’s eyes widened as he realized something.
“That’s… how you felt back then?” Chiaki asked, looking over at Blitz. “That’s why you didn’t want Sera or anyone else besides Hercules to know about your past?”
“Yes,” Blitz replied with a wistful smile. “Even if it couldn’t last forever, I just wanted to hold on to those moments for as long as I could. To not be bound by my destiny, and just be a regular Shinx for a bit.”
“… I see,” Chiaki responded, staring wide-eyed at Blitz. “Back then, I didn’t really understand what you were going through, but… if these are the same feelings, then…”
Blitz smiled at Chiaki.
“Guess I got it right, huh?” Blitz said.
“… Mm-hm,” Chiaki responded, nodding his head. “I think I understand now…”
“… You know, I had a conversation with Bow shortly after my secret got out,” Blitz said, looking up thoughtfully. “She told me that she also had concerns about her future, and while our situations aren’t the same, knowing I wasn’t the only one to feel that way…”
“Uh-huh…” Chiaki responded, listening to Blitz.
“So, um… I guess what I’m trying to say is…” Blitz said, taking a moment to collect his thoughts. “Just take your time, okay?”
“… Okay,” Chiaki responded, nodding his head slightly.
As the two returned to their house and stepped inside, Chiaki thought over his conversation with Blitz.
“The fear of what will happen once everyone knows the truth…” Chiaki thought to himself. “So… That’s what this feeling is.”
Chiaki wasn’t sure exactly how his teammates would react to learning the truth, but he did have an idea of what was going to happen afterwards. After all, if he was an Axis Tower crystal, that meant he would eventually have to return to Axis Tower with the other crystals, which meant he wouldn’t be able to be with Blitz, Sera and the others anymore. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, he might not even be himself anymore if they found a way to restore him to his original form.
“I… I don’t want this…” Chiaki thought to himself. “I want to stay with everyone here! I want to keep going on missions, exploring new places, meeting other Pokémon I haven’t met yet…”
Chiaki sighed as he lay in his bed, staring up at the ceiling.
“But the Axis Tower crystals need to be returned to Axis Tower, or else the distortions will keep getting worse,” Chiaki thought. “And that will create more problems for everyone…”
After thinking it over for a while, Chiaki tried to clear his mind and get some sleep. At the moment, he just wanted to stay with his friends as a Mienfoo. For things to stay as they were for just a little longer. Elina had told him to use what time he had until Erebos was caught wisely, so maybe he could just spend that time with his friends like nothing had changed.
Unfortunately for Chiaki, things were not going to be that simple.
Definitely felt a sort of concern for Chiaki as I watched opportunities to tell the others about his condition pass him by. That's the sort of thing that can become more difficult the longer it gets put off. The anticipation can really get to you. Sometimes it's better to just rip the bandage off...
...but in this case, I think maybe it's better that it didn't happen that way, since it gave Chiaki an opportunity to sort through what he was actually feeling about all this that he might not have had otherwise. Blitz did a good thing for him with that talk near the end; it can do a world of good to have someone you can relate to, especially someone who relates to you as well.
Hi everyone! It has been far too long, but now I finally have a new chapter ready for you all!
I had hoped to have something ready for you much sooner, especially with this year being the ten year anniversary of when I posted the original version of the first chapter over on . However, this year has been a very difficult one for me. I won't go into details, but it has been really rough.
Anyways, on the subject of the anniversary, I've been working on multiple chapters, so maybe I'll be able to get something more done before the end of the year. I had some plans for some fun stuff to mark the anniversary, and I still plan on working on those, but I'm thinking I probably won't get those done before the end of 2022.
Well, for now, how about we get to what we're all here for? Here is Chapter 62! I hope you all enjoy it!
Chapter 62: Oh, not this 'destiny' stuff again!
It was the start of another new day in Fenix Town. As Chiaki was waking up, something felt off. He let out a grunt of discomfort as he glanced down at his bandaged right arm. Something felt… strange. He was about to reach for the bandages, when he heard Blitz yawn. He looked over at Blitz, who had also just woken up. Blitz sat up, and began grooming himself.
"Good morning," Chiaki said.
"Good morning," Blitz replied, looking over at Chiaki. "Sleep well?"
"Uh, I guess so," Chiaki responded, nodding his head slightly.
Chiaki glanced down at his arm again, deciding to hold off on checking under the bandages for now.
Sera was getting ready to head out. As she was checking her appearance in a mirror, she noticed Flare approach her. From his expression, it was clear that he wanted to say something.
"Is something the matter?" Sera asked, turning around to face him.
"I was going to ask that," Flare responded. "You seemed kind of lost in thought during breakfast."
"Oh… I see," Sera replied, looking away. "I'm just concerned about Chiaki…"
"Ah, right," Flare responded, nodding slightly. "Last night, you mentioned that he was acting strange."
"Yeah…" Sera replied, frowning. "Something's clearly wrong, but he won't say anything. Blitz said it was best not to push the subject, but… I still want to know what's going on."
"Well, that's understandable," Flare responded. "So, what are you going to do?"
"Isn't that obvious?" Sera replied, sighing. "I don't want to cause any problems for my friends by prying into their secrets again. So, I'll just have to wait until he's ready to tell us."
"I see," Flare responded, nuzzling Sera in an attempt to comfort her. "That's probably the best way to handle the situation for now."
"Mm… Yeah," Sera replied, nodding slightly. "Well, I'm heading out, then. See you later."
Flare watched as Sera went outside and ran off towards the town plaza. He hoped things would work out for her and her friends.
Bow was woken up by something tugging on one of her pigtails. She slowly opened her eyes and looked up to see Malefica hovering over her.
"What are you doing?" Bow asked, sitting up.
"I'm bored," Malefica responded. "Come on, get up."
"All right, all right…" Bow replied, rubbing her eyes and looking around. "Where's mom and Samara?"
"They went off somewhere," Malefica responded, glancing around. "Don't know where."
"Ah, right," Bow replied, standing up. "I guess they're out scouting out a fitting location to place the trap for Erebos."
"Yeah, that!" Malefica responded, grinning.
Bow walked over to a table where a map was laid out. A few locations were marked on the map, with Stella having asked the stars to reveal a few locations which weren't too heavily affected by distortion for their plan to stop Erebos.
"Hmm… Guessing they probably won't be back until late tonight," Bow said, looking over the map thoughtfully. "So, we're on our own today."
"All right!" Malefica replied, floating around in circles. "Come on, let's play!"
"Shouldn't we eat breakfast first?" Bow asked.
"Nah, I'm not hungry," Malefica responded, shaking her head. "I wanna play!"
"Mm, I'd still like to eat something first, though," Bow replied, smiling sheepishly. "I'll play with you afterwards, so can you wait just a little longer?"
"Hmm… Fine," Malefica responded, pouting. "Don't take too long, okay?"
"I'll try to not keep you waiting," Bow replied, nodding slightly. "So, behave yourself, okay?"
"All right…" Malefica responded, sighing. "I'll just wait over here."
Bow smiled, and began to telekinetically pick up a small stone knife and some berries.
"Hmm… Actually, maybe I should save my power for later," Bow thought out loud, quickly putting the items down on the stone counter.
"Save it for what?" Malefica asked, tilting her head slightly.
"I don't know," Bow replied, picking up the stone knife in one of her hands. "But someone might need my help later."
"Who?" Malefica inquired. "Help with what?"
"Well, since mom will be busy with the plan to stop Erebos, she won't have time to read the stars," Bow responded, beginning to cut up one of the berries. "If any of the Pokémon in town suddenly find themselves needing the town oracle's advice while she's away, I should do my best to help out."
"But there's no need for that?" Malefica replied, blinking a few times. "They know that you're not the town oracle yet. You won't be for like… many years."
"Yes, that is true," Bow responded, nodding slightly. "But time passes by much quicker than you think, doesn't it?"
"Does it?" Malefica asked, looking confused. "I don't get it…"
"Ah, well, I guess it might be a little hard for a ghost-type to understand," Bow replied with a thoughtful expression. "Since you don't age the same way most other types of Pokémon do."
"Yeah, that's one of the things that's great about us!" Malefica responded, grinning.
"I suppose it is," Bow replied with a slight chuckle as she continued preparing her food.
Blitz and his teammates had met up and were relaxing in a quiet spot away from the town plaza. Or, well, they were trying to relax. There were too many things on their minds keeping them from being able to properly relax.
"Shouldn't we be doing something?" Azure asked, sighing. "I saw some of the other rescue teams helping out Pokémon who came here needing a place to stay until the distortion stuff is dealt with… Makes me feel like I should be doing something too, you know?"
"Um… What would we do, though?" Frederick responded.
"I don't know," Azure replied. "The others seem to have things under control for the most part, but still…"
"I get what you mean," Sera said, her ears drooping down slightly. "So many Pokémon are being affected by the distortions way more than any of us are at the moment…"
"Won't the distortions eventually reach Fenix Town?" Frederick asked.
"Probably," Blitz responded, looking over at his teammates. "If that happens, I wonder where everyone is supposed to go?"
"Wyvern Island?" Azure suggested, shrugging slightly. "It didn't seem like the distortion had reached it yet…"
"How would we get everybody up there, though?" Sera asked, tilting her head slightly.
"Those big fliers would have quite a lot of work to do, to say the least," Azure responded.
"Well, hopefully the whole situation with Erebos and the Axis Tower crystals will be resolved before any of that happens," Sera said, smiling sheepishly.
"Yeah…" Azure replied, nodding slightly. "Hmm…"
Azure suddenly stood up.
"Sorry guys, but I think I'm going to head back to the café," Azure said. "At least then I can do something by helping out there."
"Oh, uh, that's fine," Blitz responded. "Do whatever you have to."
"No problem, we can spend more time together later," Sera said, smiling at Azure.
"Thanks," Azure replied, smiling back at Sera. "I'll look forward to it."
Azure quickly headed off towards the café. Suddenly, Frederick got up too.
"I think I'm gonna follow her," Frederick said. "I want to make sure she's okay, and I'm sure River would appreciate the extra help."
"Sure, go ahead," Blitz responded, nodding slightly.
"See you later!" Sera said, waving her paw as Frederick went off to catch up with Azure.
Chiaki had barely been paying attention to the conversation, glancing at his arm and tugging at the bandages. Just what was this strange feeling?
"So… How are things at home?" Blitz asked, looking over at Sera.
"They've been okay, I guess," Sera replied, thinking for a moment. "Met some of Sirena's friends yesterday, seems they'll be staying in town for a while."
"Sirena's friends?" Blitz inquired. "What are they like?"
"Well, they seem nice," Sera responded. "Sirena told me a bit about them before."
"Oh, I see," Blitz replied.
While Blitz and Sera's conversation continued, Chiaki began to quietly unwrap the bandages on his arm in order to see if he could figure out what the strange feeling that had been bothering him since this morning was. Eventually, he was able to get a peek at the state of the wound…
… and quickly had to cover his mouth with his left paw to avoid letting out any sound that would alarm his two friends.
"W-What is this!?" Chiaki thought to himself, staring at his arm in shock.
There were several tiny, transparent crystals poking out from the wound, shimmering in the sunlight. Chiaki then glanced over at Blitz and Sera.
"… Honestly, I feel a little silly for not realizing Sirena had a crush on Svanhild until I saw the two of them together," Sera admitted, chuckling.
"Well, since they're in different egg groups, I think it makes sense that you wouldn't have made that connection right away," Blitz commented.
It didn't seem like either of them had noticed anything yet. Chiaki slowly got up and tried to slip away unnoticed. He couldn't let them see this. Keeping his eyes on the two, Chiaki slowly moved backwards one step at a time, while Blitz and Sera continued their conversation. He had almost managed to sneak away, when Blitz spotted him from the corner of his eye.
"Chiaki?" Blitz said, looking over at the Mienfoo.
Chiaki quickly turned around and began to run, holding his arm to make sure they didn't see the state of his wound.
"What's going on!?" Sera said, standing up.
Blitz stood up, looking over in the direction Chiaki ran off in.
"Blitz?" Sera said, looking over at Blitz expectantly.
"… Let's go after him," Blitz responded.
"Right!" Sera replied, nodding her head.
Once he had managed to get to a place where he was certain no one would see him, Chiaki began to inspect the wound. He gently tapped one of the tiny crystals with a claw, before grabbing one and attempting to rip the crystal off of his arm. He winced in pain as he felt his skin being pulled at along with the crystal.
"Come on…" Chiaki muttered, trying to ignore the pain. "Why isn't it coming off?"
After a few more painful seconds, Chiaki let go of the crystal. He paused for a moment to catch his breath and wipe away some tears of pain. He began examining his arm once more, wondering how exactly it had ended up in such a state.
"Should I go see nurse Giselle?" Chiaki wondered out loud. "Would she know what to do about these?"
Chiaki considered it for a moment, before deciding against it. He had a feeling that this wasn't something she could help with.
"Chiaki? What's going on?"
Chiaki's eyes widened and he turned to see that Blitz and Sera had already caught up to him. He quickly tried to cover the wound with his other paw, but it was already too late.
"What's… that on your arm?" Blitz asked, squinting at his arm. "It was… sparkling…"
"Ah… Um…" Chiaki wasn't sure how to respond.
As the two walked over to check on him, Chiaki reluctantly moved his other arm out of the way so they could see the crystals.
"What the…!?" Sera exclaimed, taking a step backwards.
"Are those… growing out of your skin?" Blitz asked, looking uncomfortable as he examined the state of the wound.
"I don't know what's happening either," Chiaki responded, shaking his head. "My arm felt strange this morning, and when I looked at it, it was like this."
"But how?" Sera asked, pointing a paw at the crystals. "This can't be normal! Mienfoo don't have crystals growing on them!"
Chiaki was about to repeat that he didn't understand it either, but then a thought popped into his head:
"But you're not really a Mienfoo, are you?"
Chiaki froze. For a moment he didn't even register that Blitz and Sera were still there as he let the thought sink in.
"So that's how it is…" Chiaki muttered, slowly turning his head to look at the crystals forming on his arm. "The Axis Tower crystal wants to return to its original form…"
"Huh?" Sera said, staring at Chiaki. "What did you just say?"
Chiaki looked over at Blitz and Sera. At this point, he realized that he couldn't keep the truth a secret from them any longer. Not after this.
"Um… How do I put this?" Chiaki said, still trying to find the right words. "You see, I… I used to be one of the Axis Tower crystals…"
"You… what?" Blitz responded, staring at Chiaki.
"Chiaki… What are you talking about?" Sera asked, her ears drooping down slightly.
"Elina told me the truth…" Chiaki explained, looking down at his arm. "You see…"
Chiaki began telling Blitz and Sera about what Elina had told him about the night the Axis Tower crystals were stolen, and of how Elina's attempt to prevent Erebos from taking the last crystal led to it accidentally being transformed into a Pokémon when she tripped on a Pokémon trap. Throughout his explanation, there were a few points where Chiaki had to pause and think about what to say next.
"And, um… I guess that's everything?" Chiaki said, finishing his explanation.
"No way…" Sera said, shaking her head. "This… this can't be right!"
"I found it hard to believe too," Chiaki responded. "But the more I thought about it, I realized… that it must be true."
"S-Seriously?" Sera replied, glancing over at Chiaki's arm. "I mean, I suppose that explains what's going on with your arm, but… even so…!"
Chiaki held his paw over the crystals, as if covering them up would make things go back to normal, or at least ease Sera's distress. Chiaki glanced over at Blitz, who hadn't said anything since he began his explanation. He seemed calm at a first glance, but his expression made it difficult to tell what exactly was going through the Shinx's mind.
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you right away," Chiaki said, looking away. "I just… didn't know how…"
"Wait…" Sera said, her eyes widening. "If the Axis Tower crystal is returned to normal, what'll happen to you?"
"I… don't know for sure," Chiaki replied, glancing down at his arm. "Elina said… I might disappear…"
"Disappear…?" Sera responded, staring blankly for a moment before shaking her head. "No! There's no way we're letting that happen!"
"Huh?" Chiaki replied, looking over at Sera. "But… all of the Axis Tower crystals need to be returned to the tower, otherwise it won't work."
"That's…" Sera trailed off, glancing around. "There's… got to be something…"
Sera looked over at Blitz, as if expecting him to have a solution.
"Hey, Blitz?" Sera said, looking at her friend pleadingly. "What… what do we do? There's got to be something we can do, right?"
Blitz slowly turned his head to look at her.
"… Why aren't you saying anything?" Sera asked, her ears twitching slightly. "C-Come on, Blitz…"
Chiaki looked on as Sera continued to plead with Blitz for an answer. Unconsciously, he reached for the wound with the crystals on it once more. Part of him wanted Sera to be right, but he couldn't think of any way it'd be possible for him to stay with the others while also being returned to Axis Tower with the rest of the crystals. It wasn't possible to be in two places at once, after all.
Sera was getting increasingly agitated, while Blitz tried to answer her and calm her down, but could barely get any words in. Chiaki thought he could see some blue sparks of electricity rippling around Blitz's legs, and if he looked closely, it seemed as if the Shinx was trembling slightly too.
Chiaki didn't know what to do. What could he possibly say to calm his friends down? If only they hadn't seen…
… Chiaki's train of thought was interrupted as he suddenly felt something wet on his paw. Looking down at his arm, he noticed that he had unconsciously been scratching at the tiny crystals with his claws, as if trying to remove them. A few drops of blood were trickling down his arm from that spot.
"Chiaki! What are you doing!?" Sera suddenly exclaimed, having noticed what had happened.
"I don't know!" Chiaki replied, shaking his head. "I wasn't thinking!"
Blitz flinched when he saw the blood, a certain unpleasant memory coming to the surface. Looking down, Blitz thought for a moment he could see drops of blood in the grass near his own paws. No, it was just his imagination. Blitz quickly tried to push the memory back down and ignore it, knowing he couldn't let it get to him at a time like this. He had to help Chiaki.
"Um… Maybe we should get back to our house…" Blitz suggested, trying to ignore how hot his fangs suddenly felt. "We should be able to get back without anyone seeing, and then we can treat this…"
Blitz took the old bandages and quickly shoved them into the treasure bag, before pulling out a red bandana of sorts from it
"This Power Band should do," Blitz commented, before offering it to Chiaki. "You can use this to cover your arm, just in case."
Chiaki nodded and took the Power Band from Blitz, holding it against the wound.
"Okay… Let's go."
The trio managed to get to Blitz's house without drawing too much attention to themselves, quickly heading inside.
"All right… Let me see the wound once more," Blitz said, looking over at Chiaki.
Chiaki nodded slightly and showed Blitz the state of his arm.
"Let's just… clean this really quick, and then we can put on some new bandages to cover it up," Blitz said, sighing.
While Blitz helped Chiaki cover the wound once more, Sera was pacing about inside the house.
"Okay, once it's covered back up, then what do we do?" Sera asked. "We can't just leave things like this!"
"Sera…" Blitz said, shaking his head. "I don't think… there's much we can do about this."
"Huh?" Sera responded, her ears drooping down. "Why… why would you say that?"
"Isn't it clear?" Blitz replied, gritting his teeth. "I don't like it either, but… sometimes, there's nothing we can do to change things…"
"No…" Sera responded, shaking her head in disbelief. "You're… just giving up like that?"
"I…" Blitz looked away, sparks rippling through his fur. "Some destinies can't…"
"Oh, not this 'destiny' stuff again!" Sera suddenly shouted, stomping her paw for emphasis. "I thought we were over that!"
"Destiny can't be changed, Sera!" Blitz shouted back with a pained expression.
"There is no such thing as destiny!" Sera snarled as she glared at Blitz. "You're just making excuses!"
"Sera…" Blitz replied, his tail twitching slightly. "Please listen…"
"Chiaki, don't worry," Sera said, ignoring Blitz and looking over at Chiaki. "I won't give up! We'll find a way to save you! If we work together, I know we can do anything!"
"S-Sera…" Chiaki responded, staring wide-eyed at her while tugging at the new bandages wrapped around his arm.
Sera ran up to Chiaki and nuzzled him. Chiaki blinked a few times, before petting Sera's head.
"It's going to be okay," Sera said, smiling at Chiaki. "Just believe in us, okay?"
Chiaki didn't know what to say. It was all happening so fast.
"We'll figure something out," Sera said, as if trying to reassure both Chiaki and herself.
Blitz sighed and shook his head, as Sera stepped away from Chiaki and made her way back to the entrance of the house.
"I'll be going now," Sera said, looking back at Chiaki and Blitz. "I need some time to think about things."
"… I think we all do," Blitz responded, looking away.
Chiaki was about to say something, but Sera had already run off.
"…" Chiaki stood there, staring at the door until Blitz walked up to him.
"Hey…" Blitz said, sitting down next to Chiaki.
"Blitz…" Chiaki responded, looking at Blitz.
"… I'm sorry," Blitz said, sighing. "This is… what you wanted to avoid, isn't it?"
"… You and Sera shouldn't fight," Chiaki replied, his voice barely louder than a whisper.
Blitz nodded his head slightly, before putting on a sad smile.
"Yeah… You're right," Blitz responded, hugging Chiaki. "Don't worry, I'll… I'll sort things out with her."
Blitz couldn't really blame Sera for her reaction back there. While he knew how cruel destiny could be, he had never experienced anything like this before, and as far as he knew, neither had Sera. It wasn't surprising that she'd find it difficult to accept. However, if she stayed like this for too long, wouldn't facing reality hurt even more? He certainly had to do something about that, but if he went after her now, he had a feeling she wouldn't listen to him.
"I'll talk to her tomorrow," Blitz said.
"That's good," Chiaki responded, sighing in relief.
"… How are you feeling now?" Blitz asked.
"… I'm not sure," Chiaki replied, glancing at his arm.
"Does it hurt?" Blitz asked.
"Not really…" Chiaki responded, shaking his head. "It feels really weird, though. That's why I had to look, see what was causing it."
"Understandable," Blitz replied, looking at Chiaki's arm. "We should probably keep an eye on it these next few days, see if anything changes."
"Well, we don't know what to expect here," Blitz replied. "This isn't exactly something that happens a lot. So, I think it's best to check it every day, in case something happens."
"All right," Chiaki agreed, nodding. "I get it."
"Okay," Blitz said, pausing for a moment to think. "Um… Do you need anything else?"
"Huh? Right now?" Chiaki replied, tilting his head slightly. "I… I don't know…"
"I see," Blitz responded. "Well… If you think of anything, let me know. I'll do what I can."
"Uh, okay," Chiaki replied, looking at Blitz. "Um, Blitz?"
"What is it?" Blitz asked.
"… Thank you," Chiaki said, managing to smile at Blitz.
"… No problem," Blitz responded, smiling back. "I'm here for you."
Now that Blitz and Sera knew the truth, Chiaki felt somewhat relieved, despite his reluctance to tell them the truth earlier. Knowing he had Blitz's support now felt somewhat reassuring, even if he still didn't know what was going to happen. The only things he knew about the near future was that they had to make sure Sera was okay, and that they would probably have to tell Azure and Frederick the truth soon as well. Perhaps it was best to focus on those things first.
After she left Blitz's place, Sera stayed around the town plaza. She didn't feel like going home just yet, and there wasn't really anywhere else she could go either. Her mind felt all cluttered as she tried to think of something that could help Chiaki. She just kept aimlessly wandering around the area as she tried to collect her thoughts. She continued to do so until…
"Sera! There you are!"
Sera's ears perked up as she snapped out of her thoughts. Sera blinked a few times, before looking over to see Flare approaching her.
"Sera, why are you still out here?" Flare asked. "It's dinner time."
"It is?" Sera said, looking up at the sky. It was only now that she realized that the sun was setting and it was starting to get dark. "Huh… I guess I lost track of time."
"Sera, did something happen?" Flare asked, looking concerned.
"…" Sera couldn't answer. Her ears drooped down slightly as she looked away from Flare.
"… I'll take that as a 'yes'," Flare responded, stepping closer to Sera. "Well, what's wrong? Is this about Chiaki? The stuff you mentioned this morning?"
Sera slowly turned to look at Flare, before quickly moving closer to him and burying her face in the fur around his neck.
"Whoa, Sera!? What happened?" Flare asked.
"I don't know what to do…" Sera said, her voice slightly muffled by Flare's fur. "Blitz is no help, so I have to…"
"Sera… Calm down," Flare said, nuzzling the back of her neck. "Can you tell me what happened?"
Sera glanced up at Flare and shook her head.
"I see…" Flare responded, petting Sera's head. "Well… Why don't we head home for now? Maybe you'll be able to think more clearly after a good night's sleep."
"Yeah… Maybe you're right," Sera replied, sighing.
"All right, then," Flare responded, giving Sera a reassuring smile. "Come on, let's go home."
As the two walked home, Sera continued trying to sort out her thoughts. There had to be something she could do. She considered explaining the whole situation to Flare, but remembered that Chiaki seemed to want to keep this a secret. Besides, Flare probably wouldn't know what to do either.
"It'll be okay," Sera muttered under her breath. "I'll definitely think of something… You're going to be okay, Chiaki…"
Sera took a few deep breaths to try and calm herself down. She didn't want to deal with her family asking her a bunch of questions she couldn't answer right now, or them trying to talk her into giving up on finding a way to help Chiaki. Telling her there was nothing she could do…
"Blitz isn't right about everything," Sera said to herself in a whispering tone. "He can be wrong about things, sometimes…"
Sera sighed and tried to clear her mind. She would just try to relax for the rest of the evening, which would hopefully help unscramble her thoughts so she could find the answer she needed. And hopefully once she had that answer, she could convince Blitz to help out too.