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Old November 29th, 2012, 07:11 AM
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Ray Maverick
life without liberty; body without spirit
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Chapter 4: the Darkstar




They were forced to accept the Hashashin as part of their team, despite Brutalinax's protesting. The Shadow led them towards the southwest, and he wouldn't even let them rest at night; not that they wanted to rest, as they were afraid of the fates of the Pokemon on the lost mission. The Hashashin was walking silently in the front, not disturbing anyone. He didn't display a single bit of his personality the following days. Shango thought he truly knew where he was going, as he didn't ask for help from Sunny and her maps. His figure intrigued him greatly, so he approached him. He walked next to him and faced him with a grand smile.

"What's on your mind, Hashashin?"

"I miss my people," was the unexpected answer that caught Shango off guard. The Shadow seemed a bit sad for a moment, but his expression hardened.

"I miss my people, too," said Shango in reply. His thoughts flew from the ongoing conversation to Ascendio. It was highly possible that he'd never see him again. Maybe they would all die in the hands of the Fire Clan, trying to free the members of the R.O.F.L.S.

The Hashashin spoke as if he read his thoughts.

"Perhaps you won't see them again."

"And what about you? Are you afraid of death?"

The Hashashin started laughing. "I don't die that easily," he stated.

He was speaking the truth, surely. His tone made Shango think so.

"Why are you Hashashin so powerful?"

The Shadow chuckled again. "Define 'powerful'."

"They say ten of you can destroy an Empire," said Shango with a serious expression.

"That was in Chantalai Ancelotti's days. Now we're far more powerful," he replied with a menacing grin.

"If you're so powerful, then, why haven't you took down the Empires already, then?" Shango inquired, mildly sarcastic.

"That would greatly disrupt the balance of the world. Have you even considered the consequences of one of the Empires falling? No, the Hashashin are fighting for the liberation of Stygia, for freedom of the natives and for justice throughout the world."

"So far, I only hear you get paid to be the Cult's lackeys."

"You obviously can't see through things, if you believe so. We extort massive amount of wealth from them in exchange some thousands of lives, while earning their trust as well."

"Ah, I see where you're going with this..." and why should I trust what you're saying? he almost asked, but he held himself back.

"Exactly. When the time's right, we'll strike back."

A shout was heard from the back of the group. The furret got passed Shango with speed; he followed him with his eyes, only to fix them on a green figure laying on the ground a moment after. Cena leaned over the Pokemon, then looked at them.

"It's Maria, the personal Lilligant servant of Princess Rosa!"

The group ran towards the grass-type Pokemon. Cena informed them that she was alive.

"Get her some water!" ordered Brutalinax. Shango opened his small glass bottle and poured the remaining water all over the Pokemon's body. Sunny approached her and put her foot on her belly for some odd reason. Maria was panting heavily and muttering a phrase all over again, while looking upwards.

"Dear Kastor.."

"Oh look, she's crying," noticed the Hashashin in a rude tone. Then he looked at the Pokemon who stared him down. "What? Touchy..." he said and fell silent.

The Hitmonlee and Hitmonchan helped the Lilligant up and held her. She looked around, as if she had just awoken from a long dream.

"Who are you people?" she asked shyly and with a quite worried tone.

"We are from the Ionian Verdict, do not worry," said Chan.

"We are here to save you," stated Tahan.

A weak smile appeared in Maria's face. But it vanished right after. "Kastor is dead... he sacrificed himself to let me escape..." she started crying again. The Hashashin crossed his arms and looked away.

"They.. they are holding the others," she tried to say, but the Shadow interrupted her. "We know."

"Wait, what is the Princess doing here?" asked Brutalinax. The Hashashin acted immediately - he stared at the Lilligant with his pupils dilated in the scariest of ways.

"Wh-who is this?" she asked terrifyed, pointing at the Accelgor, whose face hardened. Shango wondered why he would do such a thing.

"He is an Hashashin," the Zangoose said. "He guided us here."

Sunny clutched Maria to prevent her from falling down again from the shock. The Hashashin spoke again.

"I really hate to break this to you people, but if we don't get moving, we'll only find remains of your old recon. mission," he said in a serious tone.

"As if you care," said Brutalinax out loud. The Shadow turned to face him with an expression that resembled stone.

"You're right. I don't care - let's just all sit here and have a picnic."

They soon got moving through the desert, giving the Lilligant all of their water sources to keep her from dehydrating.


***


"I see the camp!" shouted Cena, who had the keenest eyes of the team after Shango. "We will be there in one hour!" The Zangoose would've seen it, too, if he wasn't busy talking with the Hashashin. They were walking next to each other in front of the group; the others had noticed that, and had assumed he was doing his job as a Seeker, fishing for information.

"I can't understand why you're helping us, Hashashin," Shango was saying.

"And you wouldn't understand if I told you," was the reply.

"Test me."

"It'd take me three days."

"Can you at least tell me your real name?"

"It's Bart, if you want to know it so badly."

Brutalinax then approached them and spoke with a loud, commanding voice. "Hey! Can it with the chatter! We're approaching the camp!"

The Accelgor turned to the Garchomp. "I seriously hope you're not planning a full frontal assault on it."

"That's exactly what I'm planning."

"Just a piece of advice, strategy genius, if they see us, their prisoners will be dead long before we know it."

"Alright, then what do you suggest we do?" Shango asked before the Garchomp could explode.

"I will sneak inside by night--"

"No, I don't trust you. Cena will come with you," yelled Brutalinax.

"Cena can't follow me inside the camp," the Hashashin said, looking at the rodent behind him. Then he looked at the Zangoose. "Only this guy - Shango, right? - can follow me inside."

Shango's heart jumped with excitement, but he did not show it. A special mission, with an Hashashin? That would be interesting. Brutalinax stared at him. "Will you be alright?"

"Of course, you can count on me!"

***

The group hid behind a hill, and when the night fell, the Shadow and Shango departed for the camp under the starry night. They had agreed that flames from inside the camp would be the signal for attack. They were now walking on the dry sand that was burning hot from the sun that scorched it all day.

"What's the plan, Bart?"

The Accelgor smirked his eyebrows as if he was bothered by Shango calling him by his real name. The stars were reflected on his big black eyes.

"We sneak into the Fire Clan's turf and contact your friends, see what's up. Then we kill their master and set the camp on fire - our allies will attack."

"But how will we deal with so many enemies?"

"We will think of that later. Now, I suppose you can jump higher than six feet?" he asked with a subtle smile.

"You bet!"

"Alright, then... We will leap into the camp from that hill next to it, see?"

Shango looked at where the Accelgor was pointing; a pile of rocks next to the camp. The pointy spear logs that surrounded the camp were were about six feet high at that point.

"Yeah. Let's go," said Shango, but Bart held him back in the shadows the hill provided.

"Wait. The guards will see us." He looked up in the sky. "See those clouds? We'll wait for the sky to be covered, then we move."

Shango looked up as well to see clouds in the horizon that were coming towards them. He smirked. "That'll be in hours..."

The Accelgor sat down on the ground with his eyes fixed on the Fire Clan's camp. "We can't do otherwise."

So, they sat down. Shango had laid down with his hands behind his head as a pillow. The Hashashin stood as immovable as a statue, staring at the camp for hours with a determination unknown to Shango. The Zangoose had gotten the evolution stone Nightingale had dropped in the crime scene and started fiddling with it to spare himself from the tension before the mission. Bart eventually noticed the stone.

"What's this?" he asked, with his eyes wide open in surprise.

Only then Shango realized the Hashashin could recognize the item. It was no use lying now.

"Your friend Nightingale dropped it. I was spying on him," he said blatantly with a plain expression that baffled Bart.

"You mean, he didn't notice you spying on him?!" he shouted.

"Actually, not..."

"I am starting to lose faith. Maybe he's gotten old, after all these centuries..." then he started laughing.

"Well... don't you want it back?"

The Accelgor stared at the shiny rock the Zangoose was holding with a worried smirk. "No, thanks. You can keep it."

"Good, because I wouldn't ever give it to you."

Their laughs echoed through the wastelands. A wind stream blew some dust from the ground, carrying it around like a menacing ghost spirit that foretold death and desertion.


***


The clouds had now covered a big part of the sky, blocking the moonlight; meanwhile, to their good fortune, the area was shrouded in a thick mist. The Hashashin suddenly got up from his spot and motioned at Shango, who launched himself up from the ground. They both dashed through the mist, seemingly not know where they were headed; but the Accelgor found the pile of rocks in just five minutes of navigating.

Climbing it up was no challenge for either of them - they quickly jumped above the spear fence and landed quietly inside the camp. Shango observed the ground and its holes; it seemed to be a huge extent of just holes. He could barely see the other end of the spear logs in the dark.
He glanced at the Accelgor next to him, who read his thought - how will we find them?

"We'll just search the holes," he whispered. "Don't split up."

And they went peering inside the holes in the ground. They seemed bottomless, and the dark of the night didn't help them at all; Shango thanked his eyes for being so keen - without them, he'd surely fall in one of those traps. The two of them kept wandering all around the camp for an hour, searching for a sign of their allies. Shango was getting fed up with searching, but then something happened; the Hashashin was no longer next to him, out of a sudden. He wondered if he already had betrayed them, but decided that stopping to think about it would only mean wasting time, so he continued his search.

As he was peering inside another bottomless hole, he felt an odd presence behind him; as he turned around, somebody pushed him inside the hole. Before he went down, his eyes caught a quick glimpse of a Pokemon in a white cloak, with a hood covering their head.

He kept falling and falling, until he landed on his four feet, without harming himself. Another advantage of being a Zangoose. He clutched his head, as if it was killing him in pain. In fact, he was trying to find a hint as to where he had seen that figure again... then he realized that Pokemon, with the exact same structure and cloak, was on his dream last night. So it was not the Hashashin who pushed me... But whoever is this man, and what does he want?

Shango would try to find some answers later. He was able to climb back up, but his subconscious pushed him forward; his instinct was telling him that something lay just ahead. A scent of burning flesh reached his nostrils, but that didn't hinder him. He glued himself to the rocky wall inside the shadows, with his senses in full alarm and his eyes opened wide to receive any possible suspicious movements in the dark ahead. He perked up his ears, realizing a voice was echoing in the cave.

The Zangoose put on his hood and started pacing quietly towards the voice; he was more silent than the predators of the Ionian forest. His ears suddenly caught another voice, a feminine one this time. Intrigued, but still careful, he walked deeper into the darkness until the voices became really clear. He could now see that the cave was turning to the left, and that light was coming from there. He peered from the corner to see something that would make his heart race.

Deep underground, the Fire Clan had created a massive chamber entirely made from tristanite, a legendary mineral which had a silver and turquoise glow and was said to be fireproof, light and frankly indestructible. In the far end of the chamber, there was a massive statue of a Pokemon that was relatively small in real life; Shango recognized it as the Victini, the God the Fire Clan worshipped. The walls of the chamber had paintings of otherwordly beauty on them, carved onto the tristanite like jewels; however, nobody could touch them, as an eight feet crater separated them from the ground of the chamber itself. A blue, vibrant light was coming from the bottom of those craters, but something told Shango it wasn't the time to find out what source of energy would be projecting such glow.

Two figures were standing in the middle of the chamber, the statue of the Victini towering above them. A Typhlosion and a Weavile in a dress. Shango immediately recognized the Princess of Hesperia, but he was not aware of who that Typhlosion was; in fact, it was the first time he was seeing a Typhlosion with his own eyes. He seemed extremely powerful at first sight. Shango also noticed he was holding something on his tightened fist.

"For the last time. How did you know I have control over the darkstar?" the Typhlosion asked Rosa, who had crossed her arms. She looked unharmed, thankfully.

"You're gonna have to ask my daddy!" she shouted back in a stubborn tone that would annoy the most drunken Pokemon.

The Typhlosion circled around her slowly. "You do know, that if you take a single step, I'll vaporize you." his voice was sounding menacing as it echoed inside the chamber. Rosa looked at him with an expression full of anger, her piercing eyes burning him with her own passion.

"That's why I haven't ran away, you moron!"

"And if you don't tell me how you and your father know of this, you're going to stay here for an eternity."

"Let's see if you have the patience to deal with me, you oversized mutant of a Pokemon!"

Just then, the Typhlosion jerked his head upwards for some odd reason. A second later, a shadowy figure landed on his shoulders, throwing him down; his hand let go of a dark stone that was sent away with a clinging noise that echoed all around the chamber. Shango recognized Bart the Shadow, trying to land a hit on the struggling Typhlosion, but he was soon hit by a blast of fire that sent him flying next to Rosa, who took immediate action; she bashed her small body againist the Typhlosion who'd just stood up, and despite her size, she threw him back again, making him fall onto the crater, directly into the source of the blue light. As the roars of the mighty Pokemon faded, Shango walked forward from the shadows into the chamber, with his eyes fixed on the dark stone.

He felt a massive, uncontrollable power emanating from it as if it could destroy a thousand armies. The Zangoose's green eyes were reflected on the dark stone as he approached it, kneeling over to pick it up from the ground.

"No!" screamed the Hashashin and started coughing as he was immobilized on the ground with his body burning. "Don't touch it!" Shango raised his head and looked at him under his hood. It was the first time he had seen the Hashashin being worried - but why? Rosa, too, had noticed him and screamed for him to stop, but the stone was drawing him forward like a Volcarona being drawn to a distant light. He touched the black stone, picking it up from the ground. His own reflection was now clear on it, then it disappeared as if a curtain was covering it. He tightened it on his fist, it touching his claws and imbuing them with its destructive power; he felt a deep connection with the gem, as if he was actually made from it.

He raised his head to look at the other too with a slight mocking grin, now that he had touched it. The Accelgor stood up, still coughing, although the flames had been put out. Part of his body was black and rotten, but he still seemed to be healthy. The Weavile approached Shango with a strange expression.

"You're still alive..." she whispered, trying to look under his hood.

"Why shouldn't I be?" Shango inquired, with his voice sounding strange in his head, just like the Weavile's expression.

"That gem..." she begun to say, but the Hashashin had silently approached them. He had stopped coughing now, and his black pupils were as dilated as they could get.

"Give me that."

His ordering tone confirmed Shango's assumption - he was no longer his ally. He tightened his fist even more, feeling like he was harnessing a power beyond their world. Now he understood why the Typhlosion was holding it like that.

"Come and get it yourself," he whispered.

The Hashashin suddenly launched a shadow towards the Zangoose, but he was ready. He nimbly dodged it and charged against him, with darkness dripping from his claws. Rosa backed away as a fierce fight commenced; although the Hashashin was hit from the blast of fire before, he seemed to have recovered unnaturally quickly. They were now even, though, as none of them could get a hit on the other - the speed they were using was blinding. The darkstar had merged itself with Shango's right hand; he felt that hand was now stronger and faster, somehow. The strength and speed he needed to keep up with his opponent were massive, but he was able to muster it to counter him. He went on an assault of swift and powerful hits against the Hashashin's defenses, and one of them ripped through the membranes of his chest, making him grunt and throwing him back.

The Accelgor stood up rather quickly, but he was panting heavily.

"You... who are you? How can you keep up with me?"

Shango said nothing in return. A thought crossed his mind at that moment - he truly did not know who he was, and the darkstar that was attached onto his hand was guiding him through a path of light and knowledge, knowledge that seemed disturbingly familiar yet so far away, that he was unable to harness.

The Hashashin backed away with his eyes fixed on the dark liquid that was dripping from Shango's hands.

"This isn't over, Shango. We will return," were his last words, as he launched himself from the ground, touching the walls of the chamber and kicking himself higher, vanishing in the darkness above them. Shango stood unmoving for a second, then he fell on his knees, the gem escaping his hands. He suddenly felt dizzy, as if his head was overloaded with drunkening power.

Rosa kneeled next to him, clutching his shoulders; she removed the hood and looked him straight in the eye. His look was unearthly, like he had just waken up from a strange dream.

"Are you alright?" she asked and shook him.

"Uhh," he paused and blinked a few times, realizing that the darkstar was not in its rightful place between his claws. "I don't think so..."

"Power overload," she said half jokingly, getting on her feet; she picked up the darkstar from the ground. Then, she stared at the Zangoose who had just gotten up.

"How were you able to touch it?"

Shango was getting tired of this question, and suddenly he could see his surroundings extremely clearly. Just as sudden, rumble was heard from above. The chamber shook with quakes; Rosa got to the exit of the chamber, where Shango had came from.

"We'll figure out later. C'mon, let's get outta this place before it blows up or something!"

He simply nodded, letting her go, but he stood right where he was. During this time, more quakes shook the chamber, but he could only stare at the hooded guardian that was sitting on his ankles, on top of the Victini's left wing. Though the darkness under his hood was impenetrable, he appeared to be staring at him.

"Who are you?" he managed to shout, despite the dizziness. But the figure vanished right after; a corner of his subconscious was filled with that same hooded somebody, as if it was only a figment of his imagination. His eyes fell on the foot of the statue. A small red and white Pokemon was laying there unconscious. Shango opened his eyes wide, trying to decide if what he was seeing was real or not. He approached, with his steps echoing in the chamber.

He leaned over the Pokemon; it was an exact copy of the Pokemon represented by the statue above him. A Victini was laying there, breathing peacefully. Shango figured it was sleeping, and he wondered what had happened and why it was there. He didn't remember it being there when he looked at the statue for the first time.

He decided to take it with him; as soon as his hands touched the Pokemon's white fur, it was awake and looking at him with sleepy eyes.

"Who are you?" asked a feminine voice.

"I don't know. People call me Shango Maverick, but I'm not too sure anymore."

The Victini blinked, observing him in surprise. "My name is Tristana. I'm not too sure who I am either!" she said in a cheerful voice that made Shango give her a grand smile.

"Let's find out, then. The Pokemon who took you here aren't exactly good-willed," said the Zangoose and put the tiny Pokemon on his shoulder. He felt like it was the right thing to do - mainly because he felt like her power was similar to what he felt when he touched the darkstar. It seemed as if it was infinite, and he had instantly liked her by the way she was smiling.
__________________

"I'm surrounded by capable Pokemon who don't need me in battle. If they get themselves bloodied, and I am clean by the end of the battle, how long before they start questioning my bravery?"
- Garland Fordring, leader of the Exathian Gold Tribe

*****