I've been waiting a long, long time for this one. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
~Chapter 46: Meeting with the Commander~
The aftermath passed by in a blur of sights and sounds that didn’t fully register in my head. I saw Groudon and Kyogre slowly making their way back to the cave. Lugia, Ho-oh, and Mew escorted them. Steven Stone said some things to us. Ajia talked with him a lot. We followed him down to the crowded docks where the Magmas and Aquas were helping the evacuees. Tabitha video called Maxie to update him, and Archie stole the tablet at one point, shouting boisterously. Ships came and went; teleporters regularly blinked in and out near the designated jump point. Even with the disaster over, tons of people were clamoring to get off the island, and I could hardly blame them.
At some point we found ourselves inside the Pokécenter on the southern shore of the island. We were finally able to drop off our teams for healing—out of everyone, Skarmory, Alakazam, and Aerodactyl were in the worst shape. Jet technically didn’t have that many wounds, but… I still worried about her. After how badly she’d been shaken up by the Aqua fight…
I sat there in a daze, staring numbly at the wall, my hair tangled to hell, my skin sunburnt, clothes stiff from salt, shoes full of sand. I had the urge to get up, to walk around, to help, to do something
, but I couldn’t muster the will. Not after everything that had happened. Not with how little energy I had left in me. It was a wonder I’d managed to keep going this long.
Ajia and Steven were just finishing up their conversation in the middle of the Pokécenter lobby. I decided to actually try listening to it as opposed to letting the words bounce off my ears.
“If you don’t mind, I’d like to give you some way of contacting me,” Steven said. “This Legendary business… I suspect there’s a lot more to it than I’m aware. I understand if you’re not comfortable speaking to me about it, but—”
“It’s fine,” Ajia said quickly. “I know we’re probably not gonna hear the end of what happened here today.”
They exchanged Pokégear numbers and Steven paused there with a hesitant look on his face. Like there were a dozen questions he wanted to ask, but he couldn’t bring himself to impose. In the end, he settled on, “Take care,” before turning and walking outside.
Ajia sat down on the couch next to me, looking pensive. A shadow had fallen over her usual bright, energetic air. For some time, she just sat there in silence, drumming her fingers on her knees.
“She said that it might be a few hours before she’s recovered enough energy to teleport us all the way home,” Ajia said offhandedly, and it took me a second to realize who she was talking about. This was the first time I’d properly registered just how far Mew had brought us. Hoenn and Kanto weren’t all that close—it was something like a 6-hour train ride. Teleporting clear to another region was literally unheard of.
“I’m not really worried about getting home all that soon,” I admitted. “Besides, we could always just find another way home. There’s probably a ferry.” Although… most ships in and out of the area were most likely delayed from the disaster. Maybe we could fly to Lilycove, and then… well, maybe it didn’t matter right now.
Ajia shook her head softly. “Mew doesn’t want to inconvenience us any more than she already has. She just needs a rest.”
I stared blankly. “It’s not that big an inconvenience.”
“That’s what I told her. But no, she wants to teleport us home, she just needs a rest now.”
Mew, insisting on helping everyone even though she was so clearly overwhelmed. Almost like…
With perfect timing, Ajia said, “I sometimes worry that I’m asking too much of her.”
I gave her a serious look. “She was asking a lot of you too.”
Ajia smiled weakly. “I have to help Mew, though. It’s my job to support her. However I can.”
“I dunno. I think it’s okay if you can’t always do that,” I mumbled. But was I only saying that because I wasn’t close with my patron? Things would probably be different if I were friends with Lugia the way that Ajia and Mew were.
…Yeah. If I were in her situation, I’d almost certainly be feeling the same thing.
“It’s what I signed up for. I can’t back down now,” she said quietly.
It was weird hearing her voice the same doubts that had been plaguing me all day. Weird to realize that maybe she was just as overwhelmed by it all as me. No matter how much she seemed in control.
The Pokécenter doors slid open and in walked Starr, looking every bit as tired and irritated as when she’d left to go on a walk earlier. With a heavy sigh, she flopped down onto the couch in between me and Ajia.
“Y’know what I could go for right now?” Starr announced.
I shrugged. “Sleep?”
She gave me a sideways glance. “Well, I was gonna say a week-long bubble bath, but sure, let’s go with that.” She exhaled long and slow, idly tapping her boots against the edge of the couch. “So this shi
t is life from now on, huh? No getting around it.”
Ajia blanched. “I wasn’t trying to drag you in, I swear.”
Starr waved an arm like she didn’t want to hear it. “Calm down, not everything’s about you, jeez.” She leaned her head back against the sofa so that she was staring at the ceiling. “I always just kinda brushed this stuff off or tried not to think about it, or figured that that was so far in the future that it basically didn’t matter. Not like I’d ever see it.”
Something flickered across Ajia’s expression, and she opened her mouth to say something, but then decided against it.
“God, I just… hate everything about this,” Starr said bitterly, clenching her fists. “Why should you two have to risk your lives like this? It’s not fair.”
“It’s not like we’re being forced,” Ajia said reassuringly. “We did agree to it. It’s our job.”
“It shouldn’t have
to be your job,” Starr snapped. “Make the stupid Legendaries save their own damn skins.”
Ajia clasped her hands in her lap, considering her words carefully. “If it helps, we’re not just doing it for them,” she said gently. “It’s for everyone’s sake.”
“I know, I know,” Starr said, waving a hand dismissively. “Really wish you’d be a little more selfish sometimes so I wouldn’t have to look like a dick.” She exhaled slowly, rubbing her temples. “I don’t even know where I’m going with any of this, I just…” She put an arm around each of our shoulders. “All in favor of moving to Unova?”
Ajia laughed. “Unova? Do you even know much Galarian?”
Starr snorted. “Nah. Figure anywhere’s better than here though. Anyway, there’s three of us. Aren’t triples the big format over there? We enter a few tournaments, kick some ass, make a ton of cash, get lots of fans… sounds like a plan to me.”
I couldn’t help chuckling a bit. Well, it was a nice thought at least.
Starr glanced between me and Ajia. “Yeah, I’m sure the moment we did, someone would start causing shi
t with the legends over there, if they aren’t already. And you two can’t exactly up and leave, so… guess I’m stuck here dealing with this mess whether I like it or not.”
“There’s nothing saying you have to be a part of it too,” I mumbled, doing my best to avoid her eyes.
Starr let out an exasperated sigh. “Jade, don’t be an idiot,” she said, tightening her arm around me. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Mew teleported us back to Kanto later that evening. Spirits weren’t exactly high. Not with two more Legendaries captured and Sootopolis City wiped from the map. Starr crashed the instant we got back. Ajia went to talk with her dad at the main Ranger HQ. Rudy wanted to check on a few other competitors at Indigo, and Darren went with him.
I couldn’t sleep. Too much had happened. So much my head felt like it was going to burst. And I didn’t feel like talking with anyone either, including my team. I let them all out when we got back to the ranger cabin, numbly recounted what had happened, and then wandered off in the woods by myself before I could be tempted to talk it out.
The Rockets had gotten Rayquaza. Because of course that had been their plan all along, and we’d only realized once it was too late. And… Stalker had gotten Latias. Not only that, but he’d done it purely out of spite
, because she’d stopped him from catching Rayquaza.
Would it have been better if he’d
gotten Rayquaza instead of Ender? No, I wasn’t going to let myself consider that. It was wrong either way.
He’d used us. Played us. I’d known for almost a year. Ever since the night that Starr revealed who he really was. And I’d known that she and Ajia despised him for things that had happened in the past. But those things didn’t feel real until I saw
it happen right in front of me.
I told myself I was going to think about anything else. Anything other than how betrayed I felt. I knew that I’d get over it in time, but part of me didn’t want
to get over it. I wanted
to be angry at the things he’d done.
Probably the most annoying and confusing part was the random flashes of calm that came seemingly from nowhere, almost like an insult. It took me some time to figure out that I was feeling them from Lugia. It was probably sleeping at the bottom of the ocean right now, recovering its strength from that brutal fight. Which made sense, but it was still annoying. How could Lugia be so calm? After everything that had happened? All our failure… Latias gone… Sootopolis destroyed… Stalker using
<Your anger is distracting. What do you want?>
Dammit, I’d let my focus drift to Lugia too hard. I really was gonna need to get a better handle on that.
<Nothing. I wasn’t trying to talk,> I said shortly.
<You’re clearly bothered by something,> Lugia said flatly. <What is it?>
I groaned. <What do you mean, ‘what is it?’ What else
would it be? We failed. We didn’t stop them. Latias got captured, and I was right there, and I couldn’t save her.>
I felt Lugia struggling with its words. <I’m bothered by what happened to Latias as well,> it said slowly and deliberately, and there was a noticeable heaviness to its words. <Mew is particularly devastated. They were quite close with Latias. I don’t… feel that I’m in the best position to comfort them.>
A twinge of guilt hit me. I wasn’t even thinking about how Mew had lost a friend. I hadn’t even known Latias that long, but… she’d been trying her hardest to protect us. And she was someone else that Stalker had hurt, so I guess I’d… related to her in a way.
But it wasn’t just what happened to her. It wasn’t just the way Stalker had strung us along and played us for fools. No, it was the fact that after all of this, I still didn’t have any clue why
he’d done it. He kept talking like it was so important for us to stop the Rockets, and I refused to believe that it was all just an act. There was something missing
there. And I knew I needed to forget about it, I knew
No. I couldn’t just let this go. Not without getting answers. Even if I had to march right up to the Johto HQ and demand them.
And then for whatever reason, it dawned on me—I could actually do that
. What was stopping me? Mahogany wasn’t that far. Stalker wouldn’t turn me away.
<I’m going to talk with the Johto commander,> I said without warning.
<Why?> Lugia asked, utterly perplexed.
<Because I need to give him a piece of my mind,> I said
Lugia was unimpressed. <That sounds like a pointless and unnecessary risk.>
<Look, I know
him, alright? He’s not going to do anything to me.> Did I know that? Did I?
<And it’s not pointless, I need answers.>
Lugia was silent for some time. <You intend to inform Mew of this, then?>
What? Mew? Why—<I’m flying
, not teleporting,> I said heatedly. The last thing I wanted to do was inconvenience Mew with my own personal BS. And contacting Mew would mean telling Ajia what I was doing, and I really didn’t want to do that
Lugia made the mental equivalent of an eye roll. <I’ll inform Mew of it anyway.> It considered something for a bit and then added, <Also you must remain in contact with me while you are there.>
I exhaled slowly through my teeth. <Alright, fine.> That probably wouldn’t be possible anyway. I was heading to a Rocket base. There’d be a psychic shield, like always. I didn’t feel like telling Lugia that, though.
Lugia’s presence faded into the back of my mind, and I was alone once more. Standing in the middle of the darkening woods, forced to stop and think about what I’d just said. I’d barely put any thought into it at the time, but now I was committed.
“Guess I’m… going to visit Stalker,” I said to myself.
The flight to Mahogany was longer than I’d been acting—nearly an hour. Maybe it was stupid of me to pass up the opportunity to save that hour by teleporting, but it was too late to change that. I opted to fly on Aros. Even though everyone was fully healed, he’d been the least worn out by the end of the mission. And he seemed like the least likely to ask questions. Swift and Firestorm both probably would have had reasonable things to say. And I didn’t want to risk getting talked out of this.
Aros didn’t even complain that much at first. For most of the trip, the only sound was the buzzing of his wings as we crossed the Tohjo Mountains, following the light of the moon in the darkening sky. It wasn’t until we were descending on Mahogany that he finally spoke up.
“*I still don’t get what the point of this is,*” the Flygon said after we landed in a quiet, semi-wooded area on the eastern edge of town. “*I mean, we already knew Stalker lied to us. What’s talking supposed to do?*”
“I need answers,” I replied shortly, sliding down from his back. “I need to know why he’s doing all this.”
“*Humans lie all the time. Why is this instance so special?*”
I spun around. “We trained with him for months, you can’t possibly be surprised that I’m upset.” Maybe he
was used to being let down by humans, but we’d trusted
“*I’m just saying, you might want to chill,*” Aros said with a bored tone.
“You’re telling me to chill?” I said incredulously. “You’re like the least chill one on the team.”
Aros was silent for several seconds. “*I’ve been trying to work on that,*” he mumbled.
I froze. He sounded genuinely hurt. I’d crossed a line, hadn’t I?
“I… you’re right, I’m sorry. That was uncalled for.” It wasn’t the only uncalled for thing I’d said within the past day, either. I exhaled slowly and added, “I was kind of a jerk yesterday.”
Aros didn’t say anything. The only sound was the gentle swaying of leaves in the night air. I found myself racking my brain for something positive to say. It was hard, shoving all the residual anger and confusion from the Hoenn mission out of my head, but…
“Hey, so… from what I saw, you were pretty awesome protecting the Aquas,” I said.
“*I did alright,*” he said gruffly.
“Better than alright,” I insisted. “There was ice freaking everywhere and you avoided all of it.”
Aros paused, considering it. “*Yeah. Guess I did,*” he said with the smallest bit of pride leaking through in his voice. “*It’s nothing special though.*”
I gave him my best attempt at a smirk. “I’ve never known you to say that you’re nothing special.”
His expression hardened. “*I’m an experiment. I’m supposed to be better than regular Pokémon. That’s not bragging, that’s just how it is.*”
I blinked. Oh. This was… more involved than I’d thought.
“*Back on the Rebellion, I was the strongest. Everyone looked up to me,*” he said, staring off at the half moon hanging over Mahogany. “*If I’m not, then… what am I?*”
Stygian had always said that the two of them weren’t enhanced clones. They had no special powers, no exceptional strength. Just a hard life full of harsh training that had left them tougher than normal.
I glanced away, unable to meet his eye. “You can’t just be you?” I said awkwardly.
He scoffed. “*What good is that?*”
“Good enough to me,” I murmured.
“*Yeah, what’s that
worth,*” he said with a snort. I glanced away, unsure of how to respond.
Several seconds passed. Aros’s wings flattened with embarrassment. “*I didn’t… mean that.*”
Another awkward silence. The Flygon’s tail swished back and forth distractedly.
“*I know everyone else thinks it’s stupid,*” he said bitterly. “*Stygian definitely
thinks it’s stupid,*” he added with a wince.
I shoved my hands in my pockets. “It’s really not that weird. Being strong is pretty important to a lot of Pokémon, and—”
I froze, staring at the irritated scowl on his face.
“*Don’t… don’t try to fix
this. You’re always trying to fix everything,*” Aros muttered.
I rubbed the back of my head. “Sorry.” I shuffled a foot against the dirt, biting back several comments that would probably just make things worse. I settled on, “Can I at least apologize for being a jerk in Sootopolis?”
The Flygon considered me for a bit before tossing his head like he was rolling his eyes. “*Fine, apology accepted or whatever,*” he said disinterestedly, but I’d known him long enough to catch the genuine tone underneath it. “*So what now? You go yell at this guy and then we head back?*”
I couldn’t help chuckling. “Yeah. Sounds good.”
We set off down the streets of Mahogany. It was a quiet, forested town—the kind of place that probably wouldn’t have many people at all if it weren’t for trainers and tourists. My memory of the Rocket base’s location was pretty fuzzy. Starr had pointed it out once when we’d stopped by here, but that was over a month ago. I got lost, of course. But eventually, I felt the stirrings of déjà vu in the back of my head as I passed by a certain shady-looking tourist shop. The tiny red R in the corner of the window gave it away.
I turned to Aros. “You staying out here?”
He tilted his head. “*You’re going in alone?*”
Right, the rest of my team was still back at the cabin. I was entering a Rocket base with no Pokémon. And yet somehow, I couldn’t bring myself to care.
I nodded and Aros shrugged. “*Suit yourself. I’ll check back later,*” he said before taking off.
If this was anything like the other Rocket bases, there had to be a members-only back entrance. I wandered around back and sure enough, there it was—a large metallic door that looked way
too heavy-duty for such a shabby building. I pressed the pager button on the door’s keypad. No response. I knocked on the door. Still nothing. I slammed my fist to the metal repeatedly. Come on. There had to be someone
guarding this entrance.
I was just about to turn around and try bothering the shop owner when the viewhole slid open. A tired pair of eyes surveyed me irritably. “Get lost, kid,” their owner said.
“I’m here to see the commander,” I said as forcefully as I could.
The guard raised an eyebrow. “On whose orders?”
“Just tell him Jade’s here, dammit. He’ll want to talk to me.”
There was a long pause while the Rocket peered at me closely. “You better be right,” he growled.
The viewhole shut and I was left alone. For how long, I wasn’t quite sure. Eventually, I heard what sounded like mechanical latches being undone. Then the entire door slid open, and suddenly I was face-to-face with Raikou, staring the hulking tiger straight in the eyes.
“Why, hello there,” a voice said. My eyes slid upward to see the person sitting on Raikou’s back, fixing me with an amused look. Lexx glanced around the alley behind me and added, “Came here alone, didja?”
“Yeah, I did,” I replied flatly.
“Well then, right this way,” he said, motioning for me to walk inside.
My eyes lingered on Raikou as I stepped into the base, the door sliding shut behind me.
“Sorry ‘bout security,” Lexx said casually. “We’ve just got to be careful. Now that the Kanto force knows we’re traitors, they’re gonna be out for our heads.”
“Not strong enough to fight them off?” I asked dryly.
“They’ve got three Legendaries and we’ve got three,” Lexx answered simply. “Unfortunately, one of theirs is a higher legend that could wipe the floor with all three of ours.”
That he could talk so callously about how they just captured Latias. Disgusting.
Lexx led me into a service elevator large enough to fit… well, to fit a six-foot tiger. He tapped his ID to the scanner, and the lift descended. A few seconds later, the door opened on a wide metallic corridor, and Lexx gestured for me to take the lead. I walked out in front, followed closely by Raikou. The sound of its heavy claws clicking on the tile floor echoed through the hallway, announcing our arrival. Any Rockets ahead of us darted out of our path. I kept my eyes focused straight ahead but still caught glimpses of huge tech labs through the side windows, with scattered Rockets staring at us from the doorways.
“Stand down, Sebastian gave the all clear,” Lexx said cheerfully. Half of the Rockets visibly relaxed, though a fair number of them were still staring in admiration at the Legendary in their midst.
“Do you normally just parade Raikou around the base like this?” I asked in a tone that maybe sounded too much like I was trying to start a fight.
Either Lexx didn’t notice or didn’t care. “Nah. Folks need the morale boost after that mission, though. Need to remember how far we’ve come.”
“Sakari,” a stern voice snapped. “Any reason you’re bringing a known rebel into the base?”
I turned to see a tall, middle-aged man standing around the corner, fixing us with a rather unimpressed scowl.
“She’s got an audience with Seb,” Lexx answered with a wave.
The man rolled his eyes. “Why am I not surprised,” he said dismissively before turning to walk back into his office. “Tell Shepard to run this kinda shi
t past me next time, got it?”
“Head of base operations,” Lexx explained in a hushed voice. “Don’t mind him, he’s just on edge after the mission.”
In a way, it was mildly satisfying that even Stalker’s superiors were frustrated with the way he just did whatever the hell he wanted without caring if it bothered anyone else.
“Hey, so… no hard feelings about what happened in Hoenn, right?”
I jerked my head toward Lexx. “What?” Had I misheard him, or had he really just said that?
Lexx gave me a sideways glance. “You know, how we had to be on opposite sides, attacking each other and such. It wasn’t personal.”
Was he for real? Was that supposed to make it okay?
He was saying it like it was a given
that I wasn’t going to take it personally, and I didn’t have the slightest clue what to say to that, so I didn’t say anything. I just kept my eyes glued straight ahead so I wouldn’t be tempted to look at him.
<Have you arrived yet?>
I practically jumped through my skin. <Lugia?!>
<What’s that surprise for?> it replied, mild irritation in its words.
<I’m inside the Rocket base!> I almost shouted, immediately attempting to wipe the shock from my face so that no one would see it.
<‘And’?? All Rocket bases have psychic blockers, that’s the whole reason we can’t teleport inside. That should include telepathy.>
Exasperation prodded at me. <I told you this wasn’t telepathy, didn’t I?>
I paused. <Yeah, but you said it worked the same.>
<It does work the same.>
I scowled. <Clearly it doesn’t!>
<Well, it’s helpful for us, isn’t it?> Lugia replied defensively. <Don’t dwell on it too much.>
Ha. That was rich coming from Lugia. But still, it did bother me. The patron-chosen bond was not psychic, like everyone said it was. What was it? The Legendaries themselves didn’t even know. How could they not?
We reached the end of the corridor, where Lexx hopped down from Raikou’s back and strode over to a door on our left, scanning his ID. I could feel myself starting to sweat. This was it. This was why I’d come here.
<I’m almost to the commander,> I told Lugia. <I’m gonna have to pay attention to him, so I won’t be able to reply.>
Lugia gave a mental affirmation, and I felt its presence fade into the back of my mind.
The door slid open, and Lexx motioned for me to enter. Slowly, hesitantly, I did. And there he was. Seated behind a computer desk, talking with two other Rockets, wearing that same infuriatingly calm expression he always did.
“Stalker,” I growled.
He turned, staring at me with those cold eyes of his, and in an instant, all of the anger that I’d been suppressing for the past hour flared up at once. I stormed forward, oblivious to everyone else in the room, and slammed both palms down on the desk. “Why did you have to capture Latias?!”
Stalker was unfazed by my outburst. “She was in the way,” he answered simply. “And her antics are the reason the Kanto force has Rayquaza now.”
“Don’t give me that,” I said, glaring at him. “We were trying to stop them too. If you really
gave a damn, you would have helped us!”
His gaze was unflinching. “The only
thing that mattered was keeping Rayquaza out of their hands,” he said, like nothing was more true. “Gaining its power would have given my forces an edge over theirs. It would have benefited your side as well.”
“That doesn’t…” I shook my head, grabbing my hair. “Why can’t you just let us do this? You said you wanted the chosen to stop them, right? Then why do you need to keep catching more Legendaries?!”
I wasn’t expecting an answer. Part of me was convinced this was a waste of time. Why on earth had I ever expected him to tell me anything? But then, out of nowhere, he said, “Do you want to know what my plans were?”
I stopped, blinking. “What?”
“I’ve openly betrayed the Kanto force,” he said. “There aren’t many secrets left.”
Just that one question shattered my expectations to pieces. Here I was, ready to beat the truth out of him, and he just went and offered to tell me everything?
While I was still staring dumbstruck, Stalker stood up from his desk, gesturing for me to follow him. “Come on. Let’s go where we can talk privately.”
I stood frozen for several seconds, still unable to process what had just happened. Without waiting for my answer, Stalker turned and walked out of the room. After a few seconds, I finally shook my head to get ahold of myself before following.
Stalker took me to the lowest floor of the base and led me into a room containing a large, stark-white Pokémon holding cell, with tall glass panes that were probably reinforced with energy shields. He motioned me toward a seating area with a couple of armchairs around a small, circular table. I waited for him to sit down, then took the chair across from him.
“Where should I begin?” he asked, and it sounded like a genuine question.
Now that I was finally here, I couldn’t actually figure out what I wanted from him. My thoughts were a swirling torrent of anger and confusion, and it was too hard to get any of it straight.
“I just… why are you doing all of this? Are you really trying to take over as head of Team Rocket? Or do you just want control of the Legendaries that badly?”
Stalker raised an eyebrow. “Weren’t you accusing me of just that?”
I gave him a hard stare. “I want to know if it’s true.”
“Intent is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is action. You’ve seen my actions. Don’t you have your own conclusions?”
“No,” I said flatly. “I don’t have a clue what you’re really going for. Everything you do is weird and contradictory.”
His face fell slightly. It was almost like he was hoping
I’d be able to figure it out on my own. With a sigh, he leaned back in his chair and said, “I’ll start from the beginning, then. I’ve known for a long time that I’d need to use the power of the Legendaries. Ever since I first learned about the Legendary project, and—”
“How long,” I cut in.
He paused. “Why do you ask?”
“I don’t know, from the way you talk, it seems like you’ve been planning to take over Team Rocket since the day you joined.”
Stalker closed his eyes. “Of course not. I was only thirteen when I joined. Too young to make a difference on the team, and too young to even think about doing anything like that. I joined the team to get a Pokémon and a trainers’ license, that’s all.”
Only thirteen. It was hard to imagine that at one point, he’d been a scared, clueless kid just like the rest of us. But then, something didn’t add up…
“Why did you need to join Team Rocket to get a license?” I asked, raising an eyebrow. There was no way… he hadn’t failed the test like me, had he?
Stalker paused, looking contemplative. “I suppose that does sound odd.” He considered it for a bit, then added, “I was only passing for thirteen. I wasn’t old enough to get a license, so I must have been eleven.”
What? Was he seriously implying that he didn’t remember his own age?
But… wait, if he was passing for two years older, then that meant—
“You’re only seventeen?!” I blurted out.
He furrowed his brow. “I suppose I am.”
I couldn’t help staring. He was only sixteen when the Rebellion began, not eighteen like I had thought. He was only fifteen when he became commander
. That seemed completely ridiculous, but how could anyone have known better? He easily looked that old. Older, even. And if that was his age on his trainer ID, then who would question it? And who exactly was going to argue that he wasn’t strong enough for the position when he’d single-handedly captured two Legendaries?
Either he didn’t notice the way I was gaping at him, or he didn’t care. He continued with, “Regardless, I didn’t begin pursuing this path until I reached officer rank and joined the combat unit. That was when I learned about the Legendary project, and when I realized that I needed to capture the Legendaries to keep them out of the Kanto force’s hands.”
There he was, talking like he needed to take control of Team Rocket in order to… prevent them from doing the same thing he was doing. It didn’t make any sense
“You already know all about the revolt thanks to Starr and Ajia. While the revolt was useful in weakening the Kanto force, I didn’t gain many allies from it. The people most likely to betray Team Rocket were those who’d already had their spirits crushed. They didn’t want to fight back—they wanted to escape. I’d thought that the Kanto commander would be different… but in the end, even he left.” He paused, eyes lowered, but everything else about his expression was perfectly neutral. I couldn’t tell if he was angry, or disappointed, or intrigued, or what.
After a few seconds, he continued, “It was in my best interest to leave the deserters alone, and start over with a new team where I could forge the ideal allies from scratch.”
“The Rebellion,” I said quietly, and Stalker nodded. Of course we were only ever pawns in his power play with the Kanto force. Why was I still looking for evidence otherwise? I knew there wasn’t any.
Stalker held up two fingers. “I created the Rebellion for two reasons. You already know the first goal: I needed to weaken the Kanto force, and strengthen my position within the Johto force. Preventing them from having access to the legends’ power was the simplest means.”
,” I snapped.
He paused, staring me in the eyes. The corner of his mouth twitched almost invisibly.
“Why’d you go out of your way to recruit kids
?” I repeated. “Was it just because we’d be less likely to question you?” I’d never questioned it at all until Starr called him out for it that night. And sure, it was slightly less weird now that I knew he wasn’t even two years older than me, but still
Stalker eyed me carefully. “I wasn’t lying when I said that I wanted to shape my recruits’ fighting style from the ground up. But also… kids would be more likely to have no previous history with Team Rocket. They would be more easily underestimated by the Rockets. And, yes, they’d be more likely to take me at my word.”
“So you were fine with getting a bunch of kids killed then,” I said coldly.
Stalker closed his eyes. “I understand that you’re upset, but I just said that my intent was to create allies. Recklessly throwing their lives away would have been counterproductive.”
A bit of the anger leaked out of me, and I couldn’t help wanting it back. “Did you… actually expect a bunch of kids to be able stop Team Rocket?”
“Of course not,” he said, and his words were yet another slap to the face. “There were dozens of things that could have gone wrong. And even if everything went right, it was still entirely possible that the Rebellion might not have managed to save a single Legendary.”
Stalker surveyed me closely in that way he always did before he was about to say something big, and I hated how easily I recognized it. “Weakening the Kanto force was only one goal. Arguably the less important one. My true goal was to create the ideal candidates for becoming chosen.”
Silence. Twice, I tried to say something in response, but the words wouldn’t come. It was like a bucket of ice had just been dumped on my head.
“In creating the Rebellion, I assembled a group of dedicated and impressionable young trainers, allied them to my cause, and gave them the tools they needed to fight the Rockets. Their innocence, idealism, and lack of previous history with Team Rocket would make them ideal candidates for becoming chosen. Even if the rebels hadn’t succeeded at a single mission, the Rebellion would have gotten the Legendaries’ attention in a big way, and handed them a large group of interlopers on a silver platter.”
Me being chosen. Rudy being chosen. That had been engineered
by him? Now even the Legendaries themselves were unknowing pawns in his game?
“Of course, the ideal scenario would have been for the rebels to join the Johto force eventually,” he went on. “Unfortunately, the attack on Midnight Stadium was a setback there. It wasn’t the worst-case scenario, because I knew the survivors were already primed for becoming chosen. But it did mean that I could no longer assume that I’d have access to any of the patron legends.”
We were just pawns. He’d never cared. He’d never cared. And yet…
“The attack on Midnight wasn’t the worst-case scenario?” I said incredulously, struggling to keep my voice level. “Then why the hell did you risk yourself for us? You fought Moltres
for crying out loud!”
Stalker looked unimpressed. “You were all valuable players in the fight against the Kanto force. Of course I was willing to risk myself. All that effort would have gone to waste if the Rockets had killed all of you.”
I sat back in my chair and clicked my tongue. “All
of us, huh? But some
of us dying was fine.”
Stalker folded his arms. “You keep changing your position on this. What are you trying to prove?”
“I don’t know, that Starr and Ajia were wrong about you? But you seem determined to prove them right.”
He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees and peering at me closely. “Let me ask you this: what will it change if they are
His gaze was unyielding. “My past actions aren’t going to be changed regardless of whether or not I thought of the rebels as nothing more than pawns.”
“Knowing how you felt about us might change how we feel about you, ever thought of that?” I said heatedly.
A long pause followed. Something shifted in Stalker’s eyes. “I did not wish for harm to come to the rebels,” he finally said, his voice cold and serious.
I snorted. “Yeah, that’s a committed answer.”
“It’s no concern of mine whether you find it to be an acceptable answer or not.”
God, talking to him was like pulling teeth. I was getting too heated. I couldn’t get distracted by my personal issues with what he’d done back then. Not when I still had so many questions.
So everything he’d done… it all came back to making sure the chosen pact went through. That still didn’t explain what he was doing now
I took a deep breath. “Why did you spend all that time and effort helping the Legendaries find chosen humans if you’re not going to help us now?”
“I have nothing against working together with the patrons,” Stalker said matter-of-factly. “They don’t seem too eager to work with me, though.”
“Then just let your captive Legendaries go free.”
“I can’t do that.”
“Why not??” I demanded, slamming a fist to my knee. “You keep saying that you need to use their power to topple the Kanto force. Why can’t you just work with
the Legendaries instead of using
“Do you honestly believe that the chosen and patrons working together will be enough?” he asked, fixing me with a stare so intense that it felt like his eyes were burning right through me. “You’ve read the Midnight Island legend. ‘Though none may prevail, what is set into motion shall be much greater indeed.’”
I froze. The Midnight Island legend—I’d barely even thought about those ruins since last year. “You… you really think that legend was predicting the future?” Lugia didn’t seem to think so.
Stalker raised an eyebrow. “Predicting? No, I don’t think it was a prediction at all. I think it was instructions
. And I’m the one making sure that it happens. Nothing that’s happened so far would have been possible if it weren’t for me.”
What? He was… making sure that legend came true? All the lies, all the manipulation, and it all came back to some 3000-year-old inscription on a rock, and no matter how badly I wanted to yell that that was ridiculous, the words wouldn’t come. I’d seen the proof—the chosen pact was real. I was a part of it, whether I liked it or not.
And there was also… the second legend. The writings in the basement, with the metallic orb that I’d taken. The writings that said the chosen pact would fail. Did he know? I sure as hell didn’t feel like telling him about the orb now
do you want the chosen pact to work?” I asked. “What is it for?
Stalker tilted his head, gazing at me curiously. “Do you not realize what all of this is really about?”
I threw my hands in the air. “No? Obviously??”
“I’m trying to prevent the Revolution.”
A heavy silence followed. I could practically feel the context struggling to piece itself together in my head.
Stalker leaned forward, staring me straight in the eyes. “What do you think this war is really about? Stopping Team Rocket? It goes a lot deeper than that. The Revolution is described as the total collapse of the balance between human and Legendary. That sounds like it goes a lot further than just stopping an organization from gaining too much power, don’t you think?”
I stared at him, and no matter how hard I tried to resist, I could feel my guard slipping. I wanted to just disregard everything he was saying, but…
“How is the Revolution supposed to happen? How do we stop it?”
And then I was yanked out of the moment by a rather obnoxious telepathic intrusion.
<You have been silent for far too long. What is he telling you?> Lugia demanded.
I groaned internally. <Hang on, he’s just getting to the good stuff.>
“You’re communicating psychically right now, aren’t you?”
I froze. Of course I hadn’t been able to keep my reaction off my face. Of course he’d seen it and knew what it meant. Dammit
, by the way, is part of the reason I can’t tell you everything,” he said, simply, closing his eyes. “There’s no reason you wouldn’t pass it on to your patron.”
I tilted my head. “What, so it’s perfectly fine for me to know all this stuff, but you don’t want the Legendaries to know?”
I had no idea what to make of that. Knowing him, he wouldn’t have said that if it wasn’t important. Was he worried something would… happen if the Legendaries knew his true motives? Would that make it easier for them to stop him?
“You know, I’m impressed you managed to become chosen,” Stalker went on with an offhand tone, even though I doubted it was genuine. “And also… surprised.”
I snorted. “Something you
didn’t see coming? I was starting to think that wasn’t possible.”
“I was surprised,” he continued, “because I didn’t think you had the resolve to follow a path like that for your own reasons.” I couldn’t even tell if I was supposed to be offended by that or what. When I didn’t respond, he added: “What are you fighting for? What is your ambition?
I hesitated. Was that a trick question? “I… I want to save the Legendaries.”
Was he for real? He
was the one who put the idea of saving Legendaries in my head, and now he wanted me
to justify it?
“Your ambition is sourced from others,” Stalker continued. “From Ajia. From your team. From your patron.” He paused, making eye contact. “From me.” I glanced away, refusing to meet his eye. “You’re using others to guide your path.”
“Hang on, hang on, and you’re
not?” I shot back.
Stalker was unfazed. No, not just unfazed, he looked pleased
. Was he trying
to get me to call him out? “I will use whatever resources I can to achieve my goals, but my goals are mine, and mine alone. I know what I’m working toward. Do you?”
Dammit. He knew
that I’d been reluctant to rejoin the fight. Of course he knew.
“Is that supposed to excuse the way you’ve been using everyone?” I said with my best attempt at defiance.
“You can say whatever you like about me, but do you think that the chosen pact is any less exploitative?”
I jolted. “Wait, what? Are you seriously
trying to argue that catching the Legendaries is the same thing as being chosen by them?”
“No. I understand that catching the legends is different than being chosen by them. When I say it’s the same, what I actually
mean is that it’s the same as them choosing you.”
“Wrong again,” I shot back. “The chosen pact doesn’t even work if both patron and chosen don’t consent.” Ugh, I probably shouldn’t have revealed that, but I was too determined to prove him wrong.
Stalker looked unsurprised—had he already known? “They’re still using you for their own self-interest. Do you really see yourselves as equals?”
I froze. Equals? How… how could we ever be equals? They were Legendaries
. And I was… I was just a human.
“How confident are you in your bond with your patron?” Stalker asked.
Why was he asking that? “I… It’s fine. Why?”
It was plain from the look on his face that he wasn’t fooled in the slightest. “I’d recommend working on that before this conflict has a chance to worsen.”
Whatever. Maybe it was true. I still didn’t need him
of all people saying it.
Neither of us said anything for some time after that. I kept my eyes firmly on the tile floor, refusing to look at him. Trying to come up with more things to say, more questions, more accusations, but none would come.
“I think we’ll leave it at that for now,” he said.
I immediately felt the urge to protest. To demand more answers. But somehow, it just felt like all the fight in me was gone. Stalker stood up and walked toward the door. My legs were on autopilot as I followed him.
“You’re welcome to come here whenever you like,” Stalker said. “Provided, of course, that you come alone.”
I gave him a suspicious glare. “Why?”
“It’s useful for me to have someone on the other side that I can talk to.”
“More like you can use me to get to the Lugia and the other Legendaries,” I muttered.
“Lugia is a patron. I have no desire to capture the patrons,” Stalker said, as if the very idea were ridiculous.
“Lexx has Raikou!” I shot back. “How do you explain that?!”
He fixed me with an unreadable expression. “Lexx captured Raikou of his own volition. For now, we’ll continue to make use of its strength.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Does that mean you’ll let it go eventually?”
“I make no promises.”
I shook my head. “Unbelievable.” I shouldn’t have been surprised. I really shouldn’t have.
Stalker opened the door to reveal Lexx waiting alone in the hallway outside, leaning with one foot propped against the wall. Raikou was no longer with him.
“Lexx will escort you out.”
At those words, Lexx glanced up from his phone, still wearing that stupid cheerful expression. I didn’t look at him or anyone else the entire time he led me out of the base. When we reached the entrance, he said something that my ears didn’t register, and then the door shut behind me.
I was left standing there in the cool nighttime air, staring blankly at the sky for several minutes. I just didn’t have the desire to move or think or anything. But I couldn’t stay there forever. Eventually, I let my focus drift back to Lugia and said, <I’m outside the base now.>
<Finally. What have you learned?>
What had I learned, indeed. A whole lot of garbage. A whole lot of personal stuff that wouldn’t be of any interest to Lugia. But there was one thing…
<Stalker said that… he’s doing all this to prevent the Revolution.>
I rubbed my eyes. <Don’t tell me you don’t know what it is either.>
<No, of course I’ve heard of it,> Lugia replied in annoyance. <It was spoken of in numerous legends. That just doesn’t make any sense. The Revolution is supposed to be the conflict between human and Legendary. Well, that’s what’s going on right now—how the hell does he plan to ‘prevent’ it if it’s already happening?>
I blinked. <What? I didn’t think it was happening now
. I thought things were supposed to get worse soon. Maybe that’s what he’s trying to prevent.>
<Decimating our numbers is a strange way of doing so,> Lugia replied dryly.
Anger suddenly flared up within me. <Why don’t
you Legendaries have any idea what’s going on?>
<You don’t know how the chosen pact works, why you were picked for it, what it’s even for. And now you don’t know anything about the Revolution? Maybe Sebastian is
preventing it! It’s not like we
would know any better!>
A part of my brain just wanted to let him catch all the Legendaries and be done with it because at least he
had a goal he was working toward, unlike the rest of us. And yeah, I knew that was stupid. I knew it spit in the face of the anger I felt over what happened to Latias, but right now I was too pissed off to care.
I felt a sense of heavy, heavy restraint coming from Lugia. It wanted to lash out. And I wanted
it to fight back. I couldn’t feel scared of Lugia while I was miles and miles away. Lugia couldn’t do anything to me. Not here. Not now. Not this time.
But in the end, all of Lugia’s anger and annoyance and indignation melted into a tired, smothering apathy. It just didn’t have the energy to care anymore.
<You are compromised. You should return to your allies.>
<I’m just fine,> I snapped.
<You are tired, you are hungry, and you are exhausted. You are not thinking straight,> Lugia said, slowly and deliberately.
Immediately, my brain struggled to generate comebacks, each one feebler than the last. I could actually feel
the fight draining out of me.
<I was going to return to them anyway,> I mumbled. A wisp of smug self-satisfaction drifted from Lugia, and I did my best to ignore it.
<Are you going to fly back?> it asked.
I sighed. <No. There’s no sense tiring my Pokémon pointlessly. You can tell Mew I’m here now.>
Sebastian sat unmoving for some time after Jade left, replaying their conversation in his mind, over and over. Considering the things he’d said, the ways she’d responded. He’d told her more than he’d initially planned to—that was intriguing. He couldn’t explain why, but it felt right that she should know. And it wasn’t as though it wouldn’t be useful. She was willing to listen. That alone would make her more valuable than the others.
Perhaps he should have told her more… But given the obviously volatile nature of her chosen bond, that was risky. The last thing he needed was to unintentionally fuel the events he was trying to prevent.
It felt strange to lay so much out in the open. Even if he hadn’t told her the true reason… the source of it all. He’d gone so long only able to talk about it with two others. Bringing in another was a tantalizing prospect. Maybe she could be a confidant someday.
No. He knew the reason why she couldn’t.
Slowly, Sebastian reached into his pocket and retrieved a minimized Master Ball. With the press of a button, he expanded it to the size of his palm and rolled it around gently. He’d been carrying this ball with him all day, and no one had even attempted to steal it from him. Had they just assumed that he wouldn’t be stupid enough to carry it around? Not that losing his friend’s Pokéball would have mattered too much, but it still would have been inconvenient.
Sebastian tapped the button again, and Latios appeared in a burst of white light. He gave a brief shake of his head before glancing around the room, realizing that they were back home now. His eyes were alert, his breathing steady. Nothing appeared pained.
Sebastian reached out to run a hand along the dragon’s neck. “Are you alright?”
Latios winced. “*Getting hit by Rayquaza wasn’t fun… but I feel fine now.*”
“Good. There’s something I need to tell you. I have your sister here.” He held up a second Master Ball. “I’m going to speak with her.”
Latios’s eyes flickered with some sort of conflicted emotions. Guilt, perhaps. Or longing.
“You miss her, don’t you?” Sebastian asked quietly.
Latios nodded, his eyes shifting back and forth. “*I… don’t suppose I could… *”
“I’m going to talk privately with her. Afterward, you two will be reunited.”
Relief washed over the dragon’s cobalt face. “*Thank you.*”
“I’m sorry that you two had to be separated in the first place. And that you couldn’t say anything when you two met on the battlefield.” He gave the dragon a pointed look, waiting for his response.
Latios stared downward. “*Our mission was more important.*”
Sebastian nodded approvingly. “Good. I’m going to recall you now. The next time you’re released, it will be with her.”
Latios paused, as though he wished to say something more, but then gave a nod of acceptance before he was recalled.
Sebastian was alone. He replaced Latios’s ball in his pocket, then stared long and hard at Latias’s, gripping the ball tightly with shaking fingers.
She’d ruined everything. Everything has been going perfectly, only for it to all fall apart at the last second. Why didn’t she understand
? Why didn’t anyone
understand? Why did everyone need everything explained to them? Things he couldn’t afford to explain. Things that would ruin everything if they knew. He couldn’t tell them. He had to be their enemy. That was just how it was
He should have captured Latias long ago. That was his miscalculation. He’d been prepared to deal with being an enemy to the chosen. But a rogue element like Latias fixating on him and only him—it was bound to backfire. Months of planning, all wasted
, because she couldn’t see the obvious truth.
Sebastian closed his eyes, forcing himself to take a deep breath. Anger wasn’t useful. He couldn’t allow it to color his interactions with her. That would only make it harder to gain her cooperation. She was here now. That meant he could explain everything to her—at least, so long as she had no way of telling the others. And he had the means to ensure that.
If he could make her feel special, trusted… she could become an ally. And he did have her brother, after all. That was all the leverage he needed.
Sebastian approached the holding cell with slow, deliberate steps. He pressed a button on the control panel to slide open the release hatch, then held the Master Ball through the gap and opened it. Light spilled out of the ball, condensing into the form of a crimson dragon. She shook her head vigorously, feathers ruffling all over. Then her eyes snapped open. She jerked her head left and right, a look of dread slowly dawning on her face. And then her gaze fell on Sebastian. For several seconds, she didn’t move—she just stared up at him with those wide, golden eyes. Without warning, her claws snapped together, beads of light forming between them, expanding into an orb that she fired straight at his face. He stared unflinching as the Mist Ball crashed against the glass, exploding into glittering droplets. A ripple of soft light spread out from the impact, shimmering across the artificial Protect.
Latias recoiled backward slightly, eyes watering. She then took off zooming around the perimeter of the cell, claws digging into walls, dragonfire razing the corners. Latios had done the same when he’d first been brought here. Every inch of the cell was reinforced with the same shields. There was no escape.
After several minutes’ effort, Latias finally slowed to a stop in the center of the room, breathing heavily. Her eyes continued to dart around, searching for anything she’d overlooked, some weakness she could exploit.
“I’m sorry to keep you in here,” Sebastian said to her. “It’s just a necessary precaution. You have every reason to attack me, but I would obviously prefer if you didn’t. You won’t be trapped in here forever. Just long enough to have a conversation.”
The dragon glared up at him incredulously for several seconds. But then she turned away sharply and said nothing.
“I just want to talk. You’ll get to see your brother soon if you do,” he said, letting his tone rise a bit at the end.
Feathery ears twitched. Her wings trembled slightly. But Latias still kept her back firmly to him.
Sebastian closed his eyes. So she was going to be difficult about this. That was fine. He had more than enough patience to outlast her stubbornness, and this was far too important to let slide.
From what he’d seen, and how desperate she was to free her brother, he could guess that she wasn’t accustomed to being alone. She would not handle isolation well. So it likely wouldn’t take long for her to cooperate. Then they could begin forging something long-term.
He sat himself into the closest armchair and let his eyes slide toward a clock on the wall. Nine pm. It had been a very, very long day, and exhaustion was beginning to creep up on him. Normally, he wouldn’t expect sleep to come. But the tiredness was like a smothering tidal wave. His mind grew foggy, and within the fog, images of when it all began started drifting to the surface. The day that he lost everything. The day that he discovered his purpose. The day that he first began pursuing this all-consuming goal.
Until the haze of sleep eventually started to overtake him. His eyelids fluttered, then finally shut.
And yet, everything.
Threads of light sprawl out in an infinite web, twisting and twirling across the void. Each time he lays eyes on one, its light blinks out of existence, only to be replaced with uncountably more. And yet there’s still the same number.
Possibilities. Nothing but possibilities wrapping him up, surrounding him, penetrating every fiber of his being. He has no body. He’s nothing more than a presence. At the same time, the threads are
his body, and they always have been. Endless energy and light and possibility, spiraling in on themselves into infinity.
Infinity. Such a terrifying and beautiful concept. Something about it gives him an instinctive shudder. As if he’s seen it. Tasted it. Been torn apart by it.
The threads̊ begin to snap. Just one at first. ̈́Then another. Each one shakes him to his very core, as though it’s ̸ripping out a piece of his soul. He tries to cry out, but no one can hear him. There’s no one else around. Bǘt then who’s doing thḭs? ̲ Why won’t ̔they stop? The threads are snapping so fas᷊t, at this rate ͔there’ll be nothing̻ left. He can’t let ͎that happen. H̲e has to stop it. He tries reachi̼ng out with hands that aren’t there an̾d f̻eels nothing but fray͐͡ed cloth at th͗e᷅ e͘dge̼ of existence. ̨ This is wrong̺. It’᷿͐s nö́t jusͅt him, it’s ̔everyt͔ͩhing. ͂ Everything.
S͙omeone has to stop it. ̿͢T̪here’ll be nothing left. No̴th̃͜ing l̹eft. Not̡hing—᷃
T᷾oo la̡te.̮ The̹ͨr͙e’̖͠s̉ no ͠going ba̺ck. ̪ No ͙r͙eturņing what ͈ẉ̵͐᷄as ̉lost. ̜No un̴doi͎ng ͍what’s᷄ al͝ready̿ ͢be͔en ͎ͮͯdo᷀̚n̷e. ̯It͑’s b̿een l̐ike͇ thi̜s ͬfor ̞as lon͟g̽ as he ͎can remem͋be͖̒r, b̺̤uṫ͓… w̿᷅h̢y?
“W̰̺įl̹lͭͅ it͖̝ en̫d?”̚ som͔ͥ̈eon̮͡e ask̰᷾s.͒̾
In ȓẹͥ͟plýͭ, a tȩ̄r̘rif̤᷆yi̓ng̯̎͗ ̓and̘ ͏ͫha᷊teful͑ v̰̕o͉̥̒ī̬͏c̹͉e͈ rͩ͜e̕vȇ̱r̾berͅatḙ̗s ̹acro̠ss̻ ͖t̞h̔e ͡v͌oi̙ͤd:᷂͝
Ｉ̖̺̜̞͖͛̂᷅̑ͨ̈́̀̕̚͢Ｎ͖͏̴̖͓̰̬͛́᷅͛᷇͟͜͞Ｆ̧̻͔̱͙̟̑̈͌͐̋᷾͜͞͡Ｉ̛᷊͇͖̻̗̖͓̋̇ͥ͒̽̄̕Ｎ̶̦̠᷅̄́͐̀͆᷾̊͢͠͞ͅＩ̵̤̦̼̪̬̇͂ͥͧ᷉͂᷾̌͢Ｔ̧̢̳̣̖̪̤͍̗̝̱͑ͧ̾̄Ｙ̸̷̢̩͎̠̳̱̄ͤ̉᷅᷄̓᷃ Ｈ̢͔̮͚̯̤̘̱͕̌ͫͥ̄ͥ͞Ａ̘̹͍̹̩̾᷉̌ͭ̍̈̔̋̍̍Ｓ̸͇̟̱͇̖̫̤̪̬᷄᷃̋̋͞ Ｎ̰̰͕᷿̬᷿͓ͣ͊̍ͦ̈́̇͌̉Ｏ͖᷊̟͔͈᷄̋̍͐̓̎᷾̌͘͢ Ｅ̫͉͖̰̬̟᷄̆́ͬ̎̑͜͢ͅＮ̝̠͕͕̯͚᷊͎᷂͎᷉̅ͬͩ͢Ｄ̶͈͎͍̇̍ͩ͊̄̀̇ͩ
~End Chapter 46~
A boy sets himself an impossible quest.