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  #76    
Old March 15th, 2017 (9:57 PM).
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Bay Alexison Bay Alexison is offline
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Wow, chapter starts with destruction already and Brandon going against Darkrai/Sam. Poor Brandon losing Marianne there. Good that Sam managed to break free, not great his Pokemon went against him and looks like he's outnumbered (agreed he shouldn't have spoken rashly either, just saying. =P) Looks like Brandon is in between the crossfire, he should get away when he has the chance
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Old March 31st, 2017 (6:20 PM).
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Spoiler alert: this is going to get violent.


Chapter Forty-Two: Haphazard

At that moment, with hundreds of feral, darkness-infused monsters swarming over him, clawing at his arms and gnawing at his legs, Sam really wished he wasn’t hobbling along on the short, squat legs of an excadrill, made all the worse for running by patches of incongruous flesh cropping up everywhere he got slashed and bitten. After a minute, his legs less resembled a part of one particular pokemon and looked more like misshapen lumps that could barely bend.

Using the last of his claws, Sam slashed clean through his waist, and wriggled away from the pursuing crowd while the limbs regrew. He expected a staggering jolt of pain to surge up his severed waist, but more unsettling was the complete lack of pain and blood from the wound. Even the pink drops that seeped out behind him less resembled blood than dollops of strawberry saltwater taffy.

His luck was poor – he wound up with the thin, spindly green legs of a floette, and they wobbled uselessly in the air as Sam dug down with his one good arm, closing himself off from the surface. He could hear the pokemon above scrambling after him, smashing concrete and scooping the rubble aside.

In the sheer darkness below the city streets, Sam could hardly see what legs he got each time he tried his luck, but by waving them around, he could tell if they would serve. The next set were far too large and stumpy, followed by a set that wasn’t a pair of legs at all, but the tail end of a whiscash. The short, squat feet of a raichu followed, then a pair of clawed bird’s feet.

On his last try, with the sounds of digging echoing through his tiny hole in the earth, Sam finally found a pair that would work. His long, powerful legs didn’t have knees. Instead, their lengths, from his ankles up to his thighs, were made of a rubbery white material with numerous flexible bulges like bungee cord.

Sam crushed his legs flat like two springs, and when the pokemon broke into his hole, he took a tremendous leap, soaring through all the pokemon and flying thirty feet into the air. In his wake, a dozen pokemon, including a mightyena, flareon, and a majestic ninetales, flew up and crashed to the concrete below.

As he started to fall, pokemon gathered in a ring beneath him. First, he severed his right arm, which was an amorphous fleshy mass flapping at his side. Then he hoisted his right leg above him, and brought it down in a powerful kick. The leg stretched a dozen feet and fell square on the back of a blastoise. Sam scrunched up his leg, landed on the back of the blastoise’s neck, and kicked off with all the strength in his compressed left leg. He felt the spine snapping beneath his toes as he leapt to the top of a ruined building, whose flat roof remained relatively level and intact despite all its other floors being smashed to pieces beneath it.

Sam steadied himself on the wobbling ruin and glanced at his arm to see why it was taking so long to regrow. It had, in fact, regrown, into a tiny white stump, no larger than his thumb had been. Sam flicked it off with a claw and waited for something better. The spectral arm of a haunter, which seeped from his wound like a noxious gas, seemed promising enough, but the shadow ball he flung from his ghostly fingers didn’t even slow the rush of pokemon charging the building.

He sliced at the arm, but his claws couldn’t cut through the ephemeral flesh. Stymied for a moment, he then shifted his slice further up took off half his shoulder. He was well rewarded for the extra loss. In place of the thin, ghostly arm grew a giant yellow cannon. Flames smoldered inside, flickering out of the edges like hungry snakes. Before he could wonder how to make the new arm work, he felt pressure building up where the elbow would be, right around the black ring bracing the arm. Then, with a tremendous boom, followed by a high-pitched whoosh, a tremendous fireball shot out of his arm and crashed into the pokemons’ front line.

Charred bodies flew into the air, and those behind the blast stumbled into a smoking crater in the street, left by the blast. Taking advantage of the confusion, Sam leapt down and cut the spines of four pokemon, half-charred by the fire but rapidly healing until Sam ended them.

For half an hour, Sam repeated this tactic, battering large groups with a fireball and darting in to paralyze a couple. However, as time wore on, the packs spread themselves out and charged from all sides. They kept Sam leaping from top to top of piling rubble, and every so often, he would trigger a small avalanche and tumble down a jagged slope. It took all his concentration to keep from scratching his arms and legs, and he took extra care to keep his claws intact. As a result, his aim grew wild. Fireballs shot out of his cannon at random, and he didn’t have time to slay any stunned by the blasts.

Sam dashed away from the destruction, towards a group of stable buildings. However, when he leapt to one rooftop, a splash of water, followed by a crackling white beam, shot past him. The water soaked the flat roof, and the beam froze it, turning the rooftop into a slippery ice rink. Sam’s flat feet slid across the ice, and he tumbled down into the alleyway between two huge buildings. Even with his legs, he couldn’t leap twelve stories.

As he sprinted towards one end, a swampert blocked his path. A fierce jet of water made Sam leap up, back, and to the side. He darted around the corner and found the path blocked, this time by a golem. It hurled a concrete slab at him, and he kicked it to pieces. He charged forward, but behind the golem stood a weavile – Jaeger – and an abomasnow. Shards of ice, like a storm of daggers, shot through the alley. Sam fired a shot from his arm, melting most of the ice, but a few shards slipped past, and one sliced through the middle of his leg. The flesh that grew there was rigid and gray, like steel. While he could still squeeze the muscles, the metallic kneecap kept the leg from bending properly. He limped down the alley, sidestepping another blast of water, and found the other ends blocked as well.

Sam ducked back into the alley with the swampert and bounded off of the walls, climbing steadily higher with each bound. However, ice coated the tops of every building, so slick a hockey puck could slide across it until the end of time. As jets of water blasted around him, tearing chunks from the masonry but leaving the ice untouched, Sam knew he had no way out.

But then, a wild idea struck him. He took his right arm, which now had only one claw left, and sliced through his back, carving off his lumpy shoulder blades. In answer to his prayers, huge red wings, in the shape of axe blades, sprouted from his back. With a mighty beat of his wings, Sam shot past the icy rooftop, so fast that the weavile standing sentinel on a radio antenna couldn’t react before Sam darted through a cloud.

Amidst the frigid, damp air, Sam took a deep breath and ventured deeper into the cloud cover. Projectiles and beams pierced the clouds, but none came near him. He was left in relative peace for a minute, gliding through the crowds and seeking a place where the battle sounded faintest. However, just as he was about to dive out of the clouds, a pokemon latched onto his back and bit off his right wing.

Sam twisted around and sliced the head off of a pidgeot, realizing as the crest feathers tumbled past him that it was Cloud. Then he shouted, reaching towards the sky, as he fell towards the earth. His one good wing fluttered awkwardly, battering against the back of his head, and the shifting winds spun him until he couldn’t tell which direction he was falling.

Closing his eyes, he focused everything on growing back on a wing, willing his flesh to save him. In answer, the golden-brown plumage of a pidgeot sprouted from his right shoulder blade, followed by a magnificent wing. Though the wings were shaped differently and offered different amounts of lift and drag, Sam managed to slow and angle his descent towards a tall building. He rolled to a stop, breaking the pidgeot wing, and came up just in time to see a mienshao leaping towards him, legs poised for a brutal kick. Sam blocked it with his left arm and felt the hollow cannon cave in. Sparks leapt from it as a shower of yellow shards, turning into drops of pink goo, fell across the rooftop.

Then, while Sam’s attention was on the mienshao, a skarmory came from behind and severed his right arm. Sam stared in horror as the claw, his only means of reshuffling his appearance, plummeted to the ground below.

A kick from the mienshao slammed into his chest, knocking him off of the building. But before the skarmory could slice his other wing off, Sam pushed back and flew through the concrete. He landed in an abandoned office building, its gray cubicle walls knocked over and the fluorescent lights flickering wildly with failing emergency power.

Now, both wings lay crumpled and dripping pink goo behind him, along with both his arms. “Come on, I need a sword,” Sam told the dripping flesh. A ripple passed through his right arm, and the tip of a sword formed at the edge of the jelly-like stump. Inch by inch, a long steel scimitar jutted out of the mass, followed by an ornate hilt with an ouroboros carved into the gold. The hilt was about a foot wide, the ouroboros encircling it as wide as his hand, and the eye of the ouroboros was not made of gold, nor of any jewel, but an actual eye, pale purple in color, and staring intently at him. All of a sudden, another field of view overlapped his own, from that eye’s perspective. He would’ve dropped the sword, had it not been fused to his body, as he beheld his gruesome visage.

At first glance, it resembled a muk, but no cesspool of sewage and filth looked more horrendous than his mismatched patchwork quilt of flesh, bumpy and ridged wherever different sections met. One bulbous insect eye glowered out of a deep wrinkled hole, and a horse’s eye stared wildly from the tip of his crooked jawline. Teeth of all shapes and sizes jutted from his misshapen gums. Patches of fur in all colors and textures sprouted all over his face, including a fiery red patch growing out of a hole on the left side of his head, about where an ear would be.

By the time he snapped out of his daze, the sword had grown fully out of his body, along with a blue, muscular humanoid arm. Thick fingers were fused to the hilt, and the sword’s long purple tassel wound itself up to his shoulder. On his left, a similar arm bore a kite shield with an ornate, geometric design of purple circles and gold bars.

Emboldened, he sliced off his legs with the sword and imagined the hitmonlee legs he had a moment ago. The stumps gurgled, then grew into the desired shape. Sam felt new strength gathering in his chest, burning within him like a bed of coals.

The building shuddered, and a fine spray of rock flew through the office. The skarmory flew in, its wings cutting through concrete. Sam met the wings with his shield, knocking the bird to the ground, and he shoved the point of his sword through its neck. Oddly enough, he could taste its blood, as though the sword were a long tongue, and its flavor was as intoxicating and rich as red wine.

Caught up in the sensations of his new body, Sam didn’t snap out of his power-induced frenzy until there was nothing left to slice. Piles of pokemon corpses towered around him, replacing the buildings, which had been smashed to dust and stray pebbles. At the top of one, he saw the body of Luna, sans head and both its front legs, impaled upon the spiky shell of a chestnaught.

Sam stood in a pool of blood, and his arm was stained red all the way up to his shoulder. His legs had been gnawed and slashed into gelatinous lumps, and a quick glance at his face, from the sword’s eye, nearly made him vomit.

As Sam turned to leave, Darkrai materialized above the tallest pile, staring down at him.

“Are you still unwilling to work with me? I really don’t have anything against you.”

Sam gathered sparks of energy in his sword and flung a shimmering bolt of green sparks at Darkrai. It swayed aside and glowered at him.

It raised both arms, and black ichor seeped out of the corpses, swaying like snakes as they rose towards Darkrai. Its body, which had seemed like a cloud before, now appeared as dark and solid as a dead star.

“Very well,” Darkrai said. “Then I will make your death as painless as I can.”
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  #78    
Old March 31st, 2017 (10:29 PM).
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Bay Alexison Bay Alexison is offline
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At the top of one, he saw the body of Luna, sans head and both its front legs, impaled upon the spiky shell of a chestnaught.
This is totally not okay. Nope nope nope. ;_;

Yeah, you're right that this chapter got pretty violent fast there, but that's expected when you have a legendary making a whole bunch of Pokemon tearing at you. The ouroboros sword especially sounds gruesome and unsettling. I think only a chapter or two left? Getting close to the home stretch!
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Old May 15th, 2017 (4:57 PM).
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Wow, I can't believe it took me six weeks to finish this chapter! Well, half of it was Masks... probably isn't a good idea to start another fic when you have yet to finish one. More importantly, however, was that I didn't know what I wanted to put in this chapter. The action was dragging too much, and I couldn't just pad it with tons of dialogue. I think I found a solution I'm content with. We'll see. In any event, I hope you all enjoy the chapter that was far too long in the making.


Chapter Forty-Three: Suffering

Darkrai flung a hail of tiny dark pellets at Sam. He leapt to the left with the last of the springiness in his legs. Wherever the darkness touched, chunks of the street were sucked into nothingness, leaving behind a surface like a golf ball.

Sam leapt at Darkrai, but he was too slow. Two pellets thudded against his shield with tiny metallic pings, and a third buried itself in his right leg. With a snap, the air itself was sucked out from around him, leaving him breathless for an instant. He swung at Darkrai, but his sword missed by a few inches.

As he fell, his limbs grew at rapid speed. Pink goo gushed out to replace his arm and legs like marshmallow in a microwave. This time, he got the limbs of a greninja, dark blue and slimy frog’s legs that leaked viscous drops of water. Bunching his new fingers together, Sam made three spinning blades of water and flung them at Darkrai. One flew wide, but the rest sank into Darkrai, leaving jagged black gouges that sealed themselves up like smoke.

Darkrai flung a larger black sphere at Sam. He pushed a jet of water out of his foot, leapt high into the air, and made a single, longer blade in his left hand. With it, he severed his left leg and right arm, letting them flop to the ground while more greninja limbs grew in their place. Then he launched himself forward. A spray of water washed away streaks of blood on the cracked concrete wall behind him. Wind whistled across his face as he lunged towards Darkrai, sank two blades of water in its chest, and dragged them in a long arc up to its face. The cuts vanished the moment the blades left them.

As Sam soared overhead, Darkrai grabbed his left leg and smacked him on the ground, until all that remained of him was runny pink goo. Darkrai let the slime slip out of his fingers and turned away, facing Brandon, who had crawled under a chunk of masonry.

As it readied another black hole, ice sprouted from the concrete beneath it, encasing the dark specter in a shimmering white prison. Sam, transformed into an ephemeral white specter with luminous yellow and blue eyes, jagged blue horns like glaciers, and a red band holding his waist together, floated out of the concrete like a shivering breath.

Sam glided to the top of the ice encasing Darkrai and showered it with white dust, like the coldest wind-driven snow where the sun shines a few hours out of a year. The air crackled, liquefying near the ice block, as the dust danced across its slick surface. The ice rumbled, shrinking slightly and turning pale blue, with a smoldering black void at its core.

Then, with a shudder, the ice crumbled. Chunks of icy prison hissed and sputtered, like eggs on a frying pan, as they tumbled across the broken ground. A long shadowy arm yanked Sam out of the air and squeezed him tight. No matter how he wriggled, Sam couldn’t slip free of Darkrai’s grasp, which felt icy cold even to his body.

Darkrai reached out with its other hands. With a shudder, the long, slender fingers became sharp as razors. With a lazy flick, the longest finger sliced clean through Sam’s neck. His head tumbled, looking at his own body as he fell. The torso wriggled and melted into pink slime, each drop freezing against the chilled concrete.

Sam landed face up, staring at the dark, cloudy sky, wondering when the faint light of the hidden sun would suddenly go out. He felt completely numb, deprived of all sensation below his smooth, crystalline chin. Looking down, he could see the shiny black edge where his neck ended and the emptiness began.

Darkrai leaned over him, blotting out the light. “Rest in peace,” it said, staring at him solemnly with a blank blue eye. “I’ll be joining you soon enough, I hope.”

Then it turned away. Craning his gaze past his chin, he could see Brandon reaching for another pokeball. He reached for him, and to his amazement, he saw a thin green vine sprout from the ground, growing towards Brandon. Another pushed through the rubble to his left, then another and another. The sounds of shifting rubble told him a forest sprouted up behind him.

Darkrai stopped and stared at a vine. Then he sliced one in half. It collapsed into a pile of pink goo, quivered, and grew again. The forest of vines grew agitated, swaying wildly. Darkrai flung his arm in a wide arc, and every tentacle shriveled up, vanishing into the dirt.

The ground shook. Cracks split the earth, and from them, vines the size of train rails rippled out and wrapped themselves around Darkrai, pinching it into two murky clouds. The vines wriggled out of the ground like worms, crawling end over end towards Sam’s head. They wrapped themselves around him, burying him in a writhing green pile. He felt his face melt, squeeze through the holes in the pile, and reassemble itself at the core. Two bulbous, blank eyes grew out, staring at the dark specter.

With a thought, Sam’s new tentacles cracked like whips, slapping at the dark clouds as they merged. When dark spikes shot out at him, tentacles from his body pulled him to the safety of a crumbling office floor, halfway up a building split in two. Darkrai followed him up, showering the structure with a flurry of black holes. As the building trembled, Sam sent vines down the concrete pillars, holding the building steady. Glittering pink flowers sprouted from every vine and showered the air with acrid orange pollen. Darkrai floated, unharmed, through the paralytic mist.

“I’m done fooling around,” Darkrai said. “Fighting both of you at once would be a pain, so I’ll end it right now.”

Darkrai pointed at the ground beneath the building. A massive black vortex consumed the lower floors of the building, grinding it into atomic dust and crushing it into oblivion. Inch by inch, the roof sank closer to the void. Sam reached with his thickest vines for the nearest building, but they dropped under the black hole’s extreme gravity. He felt himself sink into the concrete, then he fell through it, tumbled past a crumpled plastic desk and scattered pieces of metal, and turned into gelatinous mush as the gravity ripped him apart.

Closing what remained of his eyes, Sam thought only of escape. The air around him rippled, and suddenly, the pressure was gone. Opening his eyes, he saw that he had moved about a quarter mile away from the sinkhole. He tried to move, but his lower half had fused with the street, forming a tar-like pink rock. Pulling himself free, he transformed into a sleek, nimble gallade. He tested the blades of his arms against a window and sliced clean through it without cracking the glass. Then he examined his reflection, which was only blemished by the cracks in the glass, and marveled at his sudden control. With a thought, the flesh rippled and reshaped itself into a squat, slimy politoed.

A sudden, rumbling crash drew his attention back to Darkrai. The specter loomed over Brandon, twirling a black hole in one hand and reaching towards him with the other. Quick as thought, Sam honed his arm to a razor’s edge, transformed his legs into the fiery jets of a blaziken, and rocketed through an alley. His arm, a razor sharp sword with an eye on the pommel, darted towards Darkrai’s left eye and passed through without resistance. Sam tumbled past, landing in a heap amidst the wreckage of an ice cream parlor.

Darkrai plucked him from the wreckage and held him up in the light like a limp ragdoll. It poked at the dripping pink flesh with a long, clawed finger and watched a thick, gooey strand stretch as it drew the finger back.

“What the hell are you?” he asked.

Between thin, gasping breaths, Sam answered hoarsely, “I don’t even know anymore. What the hell are you?”

Darkrai shrugged. “I never knew.” Then it cupped its other hand, forming a billowing black hole between its fingers. “Doesn’t it hurt, being alive?”

Sam gave a weak chuckle. “I don’t feel pain anymore, no matter how much you beat me up.”

Darkrai shook its head. “Not that pain. You’re nothing more than a tool, a key for the Alpha Ball. And now that it’s open, you have nothing left. No hopes. No dreams. No purpose. Nothing. Doesn’t that hurt?”

“I don’t need someone to give me a purpose.” Sam clenched his hand. “I’ll make my own.”

“And how did that work out for you last time?”

Sam coughed and spat at the specter. “You’re the reason it’s all ruined.”

“I’m the reason you made it this far,” Darkrai snapped. “Think about it. Mewtwo orchestrated everything. Everything from the scholarships to the brawling rings, Mewtwo has fingers in every pie. Do you really think anything that happened to you was just chance?” Darkrai drew Sam closer to its pale, blue eyes. Its smile was like a scar across the night sky, empty and lightless. “Every moment of your life was carefully orchestrated to forge the best possible key. Night and day, you were watched and guarded, all without your knowledge. And when you were ready, you were used and discarded like the tool you were.”

Sam roared and lunged at those cold, blue eyes with human fingers. Darkrai dug its own fingers into Sam’s stomach, pumping its noxious, frigid black ether into Sam’s body. He felt strangled from within and about ready to explode, like a balloon blown to the breaking point. His skin blackened and fell off in delicate flakes. Spots swam before Sam’s eyes. His throat felt dry as ash, and he strained to breathe out as his chest expanded.

“This time,” Darkrai said, “I’ll make sure to end your suffering.”

Sam’s peripheral vision darkened and the blackness crept closer and closer to the center. He squirmed and beat at the air, but he couldn’t break free of Darkrai’s icy grasp. His field of view dwindled until he saw nothing but those pale blue eyes staring at him without the faintest trace of emotion.

Visions swam before his eyes. First, he saw a cavern lined in metal cables, and countless rows of chairs welded to the walls. He was seated in a chair, with two needles stuck into the back of his hands. Pain shot up his arms, and he felt the icy, bloated pain doubled by the memory.

He blinked. Two figures stood before a sleek wooden desk. One was a short, wiry human with a crooked black nose, a missing tooth, and lots of faint, blotchy scars. The other was a sleek, nimble pokemon with glossy blue and black fur, a twin of the one Darkrai spoke with except for its pale green eyes and the black ring around its right eye.

Sam struggled to keep his eyes open, to keep the last glimmer of light, but he blinked again. This time, he saw the pokemon bent over a pool of water, examining its reflection. Water tumbled down from a huge waterfall, shrouding the scene in mist.

He blinked again. The pokemon’s face became a man’s, with long, brown hair, a slender nose, a thick square-set jaw, and ragged hunting clothes. Only the pale green eyes and circular dent in his face, ringing his right eye, claimed the pokemon and the human were the same. This time, it seemed as though he were staring up at the face through the surface of a pond, and the human was tumbling down the falls. Blood speckled the surface of the water and left billowing scarlet plumes as the drops descended. The human had a hole in his neck.

Seeing the wound, Sam blinked in surprise. The hole vanished, and the man was no longer falling. Instead, he knelt over a still pool in the middle of a forest clearing.

Another blink replaced the human with a noble yellow pokemon, with a flowing golden mustache, long pointed ears atop its hairless skull, and a gleaming spoon in each hand. Purple aura wreathed it like a crown of fire.

“I’m sorry,” he heard it say, “But you are too dangerous. Forgive me sister.”

Another blink replaced the scene with a vista of ramshackle wooden huts. Humans and pokemon felled trees, hoisted lumber, and matted straw on rooftops, chatting amiably and sharing food. The yellow pokemon concerted their efforts and lifted the heaviest beams with its psychic powers.

Sam wanted to see more, but his eyes burned. He blinked one eye, hoping to preserve the image, but his head swam, and he involuntarily blinked the other. When his sight returned, the village was just a bare patch of land, and the inhabitants had dwindled to a dozen filthy, fearful pokemon huddled in holes and beneath trees.

His eyes, still burning, blinked in rapid succession. Images flashed before his eyes, too rapid and hazy to see anything but general colors, hues of scarlet and gold one image, a sparkling green crowned with blue on the next. The last image, a shadowy gray with a harsh white light flickering overhead, came with a distant, echoed voice.

“I’ve finally done it,” a man said, his voice gnarled and thin from old age. “Now humanity shall be saved from itself, and it’ll all be thanks to you.”

“I’ve finally done it,” Darkrai echoed as the last of the light faded. “Now he’ll be next.”

For a groggy second, Sam thought he meant the old man from the vision, but then he remembered the pact between Darkrai and the white-robed pokemon. Sam gritted his teeth and strained every muscle in his arms, reaching for the icy black hand stuck in his belly, but his fingers were lifeless black lumps, unable to grab anything. They fell in powdery chunks as they brushed against Darkrai’s hand.

Icy tendrils crept through his veins, up his neck and towards his brain. His vision went completely dark, but he could see the afterimage of Darkrai’s eyes burned into his retinas, flashing and flickering like ghostly blue candles.

Then Darkrai screamed. The hand was wrenched out of his stomach, and in a flash, the cold receded. Sight returned to him all at once, making him blink at the bright, sunlit sky above him. The sun had just risen through a long, open street, and in its light, Sam saw a hole, about six inches wide and lined with glowing blue light. Through that hole, about ten paces from where Sam lay, stood a black figure, radiant amidst the dawn sky, holding a sniper rifle. His crimson hair floated in the wind, like the clouds overhead, and his pale green eyes glittered in the darkness of his face.

Darkrai looked down at the hole in its chest. Then it turned around. Though Sam couldn’t see its face, he could hear the menacing smile as it said, “Took you long enough, dad.”
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  #80    
Old May 16th, 2017 (4:55 PM).
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So I noticed several references concerning pink goo and can't help but think

Spoiler:
Sam actually has characteristics of ditto. If so, wow took me long enough lol.


Darkrai calling a certain special guest dad also caught my attention. Seems things are coming full circle. Also Brendon seems to still be in the crossfire there. He's going to have fun see how the finale will go down welp.
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Old June 4th, 2017 (6:57 PM).
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It is about time I wrapped this one up. It'll take a few more chapters yet, but at least I'm making progress.

And yes, Bay, took you long enough.


Chapter Forty-Four: The Powers Collide


Arkus frowned at the billowing black shade that loomed before him. “You don’t have any right to call me that.”

The white-robed figure materialized out of an empty alleyway and stepped into the morning light. “Then what about me?”

She pulled the hood from her face, revealing her blue-furred, canine face and piercing red eyes. Though she smiled, Sam could see her hatred, like glittering shards of ice in her gaze.

Arkus peered at her for a minute. Then his eyes slowly widened, and a grin spread across his face. Tears welled up in his eyes and ran down his cheeks in gleaming rivers.

“Ch – Chihiro? Is that you?”

“Yes dad, it’s me.” Her voice felt like frost on glass.

“Thank god! I thought you would’ve been damaged like the others. Please tell me your mother’s alright as well.”

Chihiro flinched, and she scowled for a second, but it was replaced with a sickeningly sweet smile so quickly Sam wasn’t even sure he saw the scowl.

“Of course, dad. She’s waiting for you.”

Arkus walked forward, arms outstretched. Sam glanced back and forth between the tear-filled zoroark and the swirling ball of blue aura Chihiro was hiding behind her back. When her muscles tensed and her arm started forward, Sam leapt forward, turned his body into a huge, gelatinous tentacruel, and snatched up Arkus. The blast caught Sam in the back, searing through his flesh as he was knocked through a crumbling building. A steel beam, warped into a point by the fires, pierced his left side, and a concrete slab drove the point deeper, but Sam wriggled free of the wreckage, dragging Arkus with him.

Arkus shook rubble out of his fur and staggered to his feet. A gash on his forehead trickled blood down his muzzle, leaving a red smear where his tears had been.

“What did you do that for?” he asked, rubbing his temples.

Sam staggered to his feet. Most of his body had changed into a human form, but his back was a gelatinous blue crater where the aura struck him. The dead cells sloughed off his body and landed on the ground with a wet plop.

“You’re welcome,” he said dryly. When he looked at Arkus, he saw all the overlapping images, the human and the lucario, and a name, older than any other living creature came unbidden to his lips.

“Keith?”

Arkus backed away. “How?” Then he shook his head. “No, I haven’t been that for a long time. I’m Arkus.”

Blue light flashed in the corner of Sam’s eye. He whirled, turned both arms into shields, and took the blow aimed at Arkus. Both arms were ripped from his shoulders, but the sphere of light glanced off the metal and flew off into the sky.

A dark whip struck like a snake out of a shadow, aimed at Sam’s throat. Arkus grabbed it with his right arm and crushed it in half. That was when Sam actually saw the right arm, fused with veins of silver along the forearm. A blue diamond point, glowing brightly with aura, jutted from the top of his hand. Arkus grabbed at his right shoulder and fell to his knees, grimacing in pain.

Then the whole sky lit up with blue light. Sam’s entire body turned to metal, curving over Arkus. The metal creaked and groaned under the barrage, but it held. Sam thickened it and brought the edges together, forming a sphere. Arkus stepped over the creeping metal as the seams knitted themselves together.

“Run!” Sam shouted. Two human eyes and a lipless mouth stuck out on the inside of the metal.

“Run where?”

“Just run! I can’t hold out for long!”

Arkus sprinted forward, rolling Sam’s face up and down. Arkus stepped on Sam’s eye a few times as they tumbled over potholes and concrete chunks.

“Hey, watch the face!”

“Can’t you look outside? We need to know where we’re going.”

Sam moved his eyes outside, but the view made him nauseous. The world whirled in a gray blur, and he had to blink grit out of his eyes each time his face rolled onto the ground. Glass shards reached for his eyes, but he shifted them aside. Then he caught a glimpse of blue light racing towards them.

“Left!” he shouted. Then he realized he also moved his mouth outside, and Arkus couldn’t hear him. He split open, flinging Arkus to one side and himself to the other. The beam of light raced past him, searing away a chunk of metal the size of a car.

When Sam stood up and looked around, they were surrounded. Monks in white robes loomed over them on piles of rubble and the rooftops of cracked buildings. Chihiro, holding a flickering blue lance, blocked one alleyway, while Darkrai guarded the other exit with a spear of darkness.

“I don’t understand!” Arkus shouted at Chihiro. “Why are you doing this?”

“Don’t play dumb.” Her voice was calm, but the anger in it made Sam shiver. “It’s all your fault. Everything.”

Arkus walked towards Chihiro, his left arm reaching for her. “Please, I don’t understand. Please stop.”

Chihiro threw her lance, and before Sam could pull Arkus aside, a purple barrier sprung up in the lance’s path. It shattered against the barrier, and blue shards hissed against the concrete. Then Sinex Agents, clad in black battle gear marked with the Sinex phoenix, grappled onto the rooftops and piles. They struck at the monks with batons that crackled with Darkrai’s power. Some white-robed figures fell, revealing human and canine faces to the sun. The others brought quarterstaffs out of their cloaks and battled the ambushers. The monks were outnumbered ten to one, but the elevated position and superior training gave them the advantage. Agents fell like rain from the ruined buildings, chest and face smashed to pulp with a single swipe.

Then Mewtwo teleported in front of Arkus. He held a gray metal sphere in his hand.

“Take it, it’s ready.” He shoved the object into Arkus’ hand, and he took it out of stunned reflex. “You two take Darkrai. I’ll handle the rest.”

“But-”

“I’ll handle her, just go!”

As Mewtwo ran towards Chihiro, Arkus shouted “Don’t hurt her! You hear me?”

Mewtwo looked back, nodded gravely, and lunged at Chihiro. A purple blast flung her back, and she rolled across a cracked street.

Arkus called after her. He peered down the alley, standing on his tiptoes in vain effort to see his daughter. From Darkrai’s alley, a swarm of spears darted towards Arkus’ chest. Sam sprinted and shoved Arkus aside, taking a spear through the leg. Pink ooze dripped from the wound as it knitted itself together.

“I can’t do this alone,” Sam said. “I couldn’t even scratch him.”

Arkus examined the Alpha Ball in his hand. An intricate geometric line was etched in one loop around its surface, with a small, neat circle in the center. The cracks glowed a sullen, dark blue in his right hand.

“With this, we won’t need to hurt him,” he said, “But we do need to wear him out.”

“How?”

“Leave that to me.” Arkus tossed the Alpha Ball into his other hand and dashed towards Darkrai. He leapt through a volley of black arrows and flew into Darkrai’s chest. His right hand crackled as it passed through Darkrai, and the specter roared in pain.

Sam charged forward, arming his head with tauros horns and beefing up the rest of his body, but he passed through Darkrai like a bullet through a cloud of smoke. Sam skidded to a stop, morphed his body so he stood on two hooved legs, and punched at Darkrai, but the specter held him fast with a hand.

“I can’t kill you,” it whispered, “But I think they can.”

Before Sam could wonder what it meant, Darkrai opened its mouth. Down its throat was the bottomless pit of souls, a flickering blue candle in an infinite chasm of darkness. Sam thrashed madly in Darkrai’s grip, but the cold, dark fingers dug into his chest, freezing his muscles. Arkus raced forward, reaching for him, but Darkrai’s jaws closed around Sam, and he felt himself falling into the souls.

Sam landed on the bottom with a thud. He felt himself squished flat against the darkness, then he squished himself back into a ball.

He looked up at the dim pinprick of light at the top of the chasm. It looked even further away than last time.

“I got out once, and I can do it again.”

Sam started upward, but the other souls appeared above him. They threw him back to the bottom and buried him beneath their noisy, writhing mass. Sam felt as though he were drowning. The lungs he didn’t have burned, and flashes of color swam before his nonexistent eyes.

“You betrayed us,” the souls hissed. “You promised to help us, and you lied.”

“Let me go!” He wriggled, but the souls only pressed harder. He felt thin, drawn out, and immeasurably weary. “Please. Please stop.”

Those words were echoed in his mind. It was a feminine voice, one filled with fear. He saw the alakazam again, purple spoons raised in a cross and wreath with flickering purple light.

“It must be done,” both the alakazam and the souls said in unison. “Don’t make this any harder than it needs to be.”

The darkness and the souls disappeared as Sam was drawn into the vision. A forest pool sparkled in the green sunlight that danced through a dense canopy. All around him, pokemon sat on tree stumps and hung from branches.

He heard himself, in the feminine voice, say “I just wanted to be worshipped! I made them all! Why don’t they understand that?”

“You treat them like toys,” the alakazam said, “Shaping them to suit your fancies. And if they don’t do what you ask, you turn them into magikarp or stunfisk and leave them to flop around in the mud. I told you to stop. I warned you this would happen. But you never listened.”

Sam looked around. Throngs of angry pokemon glared at them. A few held magikarp in fishbowls or bellsprout in potted plants.

“This can end two ways,” the alakazam said. “Change the victims back, and we’ll treat you kindly.” He leaned forward and whispered, “Please don’t make me use the alternative.”

“Screw you!” Sam felt himself shout. “You never gave me what I wanted, so why should I?”

The alakazam’s eyes narrowed. “What did you want?”

“Praise! Admiration! Respect!”

The alakazam slowly shook his head. “You fool. You already had my respect.”

“Shut up! You were the one they praised, not me! The great Ty’mir, builder of cities and leader of all the pokemon.” Sam spat at the ground. “You get all the credit, but I’m the one that did all the work.”

Ty’mir stepped closer. “I didn’t build Palsitore for praise. Now, fix them, or face the consequences.”

Sam gave the crowd a contemptuous stare. “Fix them? I see nothing wrong with them.”

“Then so be it.” Ty’mir lunged forward and dug the point of a spoon into Sam’s chest. He looked down, shocked at first to see a tiny pink body with a long, thin tail and slender arms, then horrified when the flesh melted around the spoon. Drops of pink liquid plummeted into the forest spring, clouding its waters.

“Please forgive me, Lorende. It must be done.”

When Sam heard that name, his head felt as if it were cracked open and boiling water were poured into his skull. Memory after memory flashed before his eyes, but this time, they sank into his soul. The half-remembered human at the furthest corner of recollection brought a soft, tingling sense of joy, the forest glade sent shivers down his corporeal form, and seeing Ty’mir, a broken husk with sunken cheeks, trembling arms, and glazed eyes, made him regret he had no tears to shed. With each new memory, he felt less himself and more the pokemon whose memories he shared.

“Give in,” the souls said. “Arkus must die. It must be done.”

“No, not this time,” Sam said. “Not again.” With new-found strength, he pushed against the souls. The writhing mass bulged upward and then split apart as Sam forced his way up the abyss. Souls chased after him, clawing at him with arms like wisps of flame. Pushed on by the souls below, those nearest the top raced towards him, so fast they’d catch him before he reached the eye.

Feigning a dash upwards, he instead darted towards one of Darkrai’s arms. He pressed himself into the opening, forced his way into the hand and fingers, and wrenched Darkrai’s arm around. The hand plunged into the specter’s chest and wrapped its long, thin fingers around a handful of souls.

With the souls tangled, Sam pulled himself free of the arm and clambered up. The light grew into a flickering star, then dim, hazy sun, and finally, a window.

He got a hold of the edge when a soul grabbed him, weighing him down. He clung desperately to the rim of Darkrai’s eye.

“You’re not going anywhere,” the soul hissed. But as Sam watched, a part of his own soul, a murky, dark blue blob, started peeling away in its grasp. In it were his memories, Sam’s memories. He could feel Lorende’s temptation to leave it behind, and it nearly overpowered him as he felt himself slipping away, but with the last of his will, he let go of the edge, threw himself at the soul, and felt it let go. With more souls close behind, Sam reached for the opening and pulled himself through.
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Old June 4th, 2017 (10:25 PM).
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Bay Alexison Bay Alexison is offline
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Welp, Arkus and Chihiro's reunion didn't get off to a good start there. At least Mewtwo is on Arkus and Sam's side. Man, it's been a while since Ty'mir and Lorende has been mentioned, the price for admiration, huh? Glad you're makign sure there are a few more extra chapters since looks like you'll be connecting everything together now!
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Old June 15th, 2017 (7:06 PM).
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Chapter Forty-Five: Who Am I?


Darkrai screeched, wrenched his hand out of his stomach, and clutched at his face. A pink lump swelled up in its eye and splashed out like a giant tear.

“The eye!” Darkrai screamed between a toxic mixture of foul-mouthed curses. “Why is it always the eye?”

Before the pink lump hit the ground, it stopped in midair. It unfolded, revealing big, bright blue eyes, tiny limbs, and a long, thin tail. It looked up, right at Arkus, and said, “Phew! Made it out of there.”

Darkrai slashed at it with its free hand, but the pink pokemon disappeared, and appeared just as suddenly at Arkus’ side. The zoroark flinched away and eyed it warily.

“What – who are you? You’re not Sam, are you?”

The pokemon looked up and tried to stroke its chin with its tiny arm, but the stump, an inch too short, flailed uselessly in the air instead. It scowled at the arm and then gave a dejected shrug.

“I… I’m not sure. Maybe?” It stared for a moment at the arm. The flesh rippled, and in a flash, it turned into a human arm, as big as the rest of the pokemon’s tiny body. With the new appendage, the pokemon ran its fingers all along its smooth, soft face, stroking the tiny triangular ears on top of its head and gently poking its eyeballs. Then it suddenly asked, “Does the name Lorende mean anything to you?”

Arkus looked down, giving the broken ground a puzzled stare, and then his eyes lit up. “Lorende? What the hell happened to you?”

Darkrai’s arm darted out like an arrow. Arkus whirled, and the claws caught a handful of his mane. With a powerful tug, Darkrai yanked the hairs off of Arkus’ head. He bit back a yelp as blood sprayed from the torn scalp.

“Come on!” the pokemon shouted, pulling Arkus behind a building. “I have an idea.”

Once they were hidden from view, the pink pokemon teleported them both away from Darkrai. When the specter smashed the building to pieces, all it found behind its walls was rubble. It thrashed the other buildings around it in desperate fury, leveling what little remained of Palsitore.

A few blocks away, Arkus and the pokemon crouched behind a dumpster. A hunk of concrete caved in its lid, and garbage spilled out of cracks in its metal walls. The smell of moldy grease made Arkus cover his nose, but the pink pokemon didn’t seem to mind.

“You’ll have one shot,” the pokemon said as it changed shape. It grew taller and bigger, covered in black fur, with red claws and streaks of red in a torn mane. Pale green eyes, one encased in a white ring, stared back at Arkus like a mirror’s reflection, only no mirror showed his ring around his right eye. Even the tendrils of silver digging into Arkus’ arm were copied.

“Are you sure about this?” Arkus asked.

The shapeshifting pokemon gave him a nervous smile. “Don’t worry, I’m a good actor.”

Before the zoroark could say anything else, his clone ran down an alley. Arkus started after it, but he stopped himself. Instead, he clambered up the cracks in a building wall and crouched behind a vent. Though the roof was half-gone, caved into the crumbling structure, the vent itself was a bright, shiny box, with the installation instructions still fresh on its back.

Arkus peered across the streets and immediately saw the wreckage left by Darkrai. A smoking crater three blocks wide marked the specter’s rampage. As he watched, a slim black figure rushed towards the crater’s smoldering heart, claws lashing out. The smoke parted around it and recoiled with a thunderous smack.

The pokemon, startled by the counter, lunged aside and stumbled as the ground shook beneath it. As the body stumbled, so did the mind.

Who am I? The pokemon shook the question from its head. I’m Sam. Sam and no one else. I’m going to distract Darkrai and that’s all that matters.

Its pale green eyes flicked over to the ruined city around him. Smoke shrouded the city, and rubble lay strewn in heaps as far as his eyes could see. Trees and lamp posts alike were snapped in half or crushed beneath hunks of masonry, pools of water formed around the weakly bubbling remnants of fire hydrants. Strewn across the streets, hanging out of cracked windows, cradling each other, reaching towards the sky or an alleyway, skeletal hands clasped in prayer, were countless heaps of bones, charred black by the blazes, some crushed to powder indistinguishable from dirt and others with stringy bits of sinew holding them together like classroom displays, all of them staring, hollow-eyed, at the cause of it all. Him, her, whatever the hell it was.

It dimly realized that, no matter how this fight turned out, it would never be Sam again. His house was probably smashed along with the rest of the city, his mother one of the skulls staring at him.

No, even before that, he wasn’t Sam. He was just Project Omega, dancing on unseen strings, crafted for a single purpose, and denied his dreams at every turn.

The thought weighed him down, slowing his steps and clouding his sight. A sudden whip lashing out from a crack in the street caught him in the arm, drawing a spray of pink goo that the pokemon hastily covered up.

“You’re slowing down,” Darkrai said with a slow, cynical chuckle. “Where’s that friend of yours, the annoying one that keeps torturing my eyeball and never dies. Shouldn’t it be on the front lines, not you?”

“I sent it away,” the Arkus clone growled. “You’re my problem to fix, no one else’s.”

“Your problem?” Darkrai’s glared at it. “I was your solution! You made me to destroy all the humans that were hurting you. And how did you repay me?”

The pokemon struggled to recall what it saw of Darkrai’s memories and said, “You were an accident, and you were too dangerous to keep around. I’m sorry.”

“You’re sorry!” Darkrai roared. “You brought me into an existence painful beyond even my imagination, with thousands of voices constantly shouting in my head, and then you break me into millions of tiny pieces and slowly gather me up to do it all over again.” The specter doubled over, covering its eye with one hand. “You know what the worst part is? I was actually happy for a little while. At first, when I came back, it was just me and that kid, Sam. That was when I realized that life wasn’t endless suffering, and that I was the only one who had to suffer all the voices. And just when I was starting to think that everything would be alright, the voices came back.”

Tears black as the emptiness between stars spilled out from between Darkrai’s fingers. It chuckled softly. “You know, I don’t care about killing you anymore. I just want you to end it.” Darkrai stood up, opened its arms, and puffed out its chest. “Go on, do it! Put an end to all my suffering! It’s the least you could do.”

Sam hesitated, staring at the outstretched arms. Inch by inch, he crept forward, arms poised to strike. He licked his lips, momentarily forgetting his own inner turmoil as he prepared to rip apart the specter that had haunted him for weeks.

A purple light shimmered before his eyes. Then, in a rush, he saw five scenarios play out in tandem. Him, lunging into the specter and getting impaled by hundreds of spikes, him dodging only to get decapitated with a slice of its claws, him running to the side and getting tripped by black fog, him leaping on top of a building, only to get sucked into a black hole waiting for him, and the future he chose out of instinct.

Sam flung out his own arms. “No, Darkrai. It would bring you peace, but that wouldn’t be fair.” The words came to his tongue like a play’s script, and his body moved as if he were on the stage again. “I made you, and I am responsible for you. I won’t let you die, when I can bring you happiness.” He tapped a knuckle on his chest. “Kill me. That should keep all those voices quiet.

Darkrai floated forward an inch and stopped. Its hand darted back, as if it touched a bed of coals. “You lie!” it shouted with a trembling voice. “You’re… just trying to trick me! Liar!”

“Have I ever lied to you?” Sam grinned even harder and stepped forward. Darkrai flinched back, and then drew cautiously forward.

“Why?”

The question echoed in Sam’s head. Every nerve in his body screamed at him to run or fight, but the vision of the future he saw gripped him like train wheels on a track. No matter how much he leaned against his bonds, he kept driving towards the end he saw. Doubt and fear gripped him, and his head felt as though hot pokers were shoved through his eye sockets.

“Because killing you won’t fix my mistake.” Sam reached out and put a hand on the specter, about where he imagined a shoulder would be. His hand burned where it touched the rippling dark fog, but he didn’t even flinch. He screamed at himself to run, but another voice, a feminine voice that at once calmed him and raised his hackles, told him to trust the vision, her vision, his vision, their vision.

“It would put an end to your suffering, but it wouldn’t change the fact that you’ve done nothing but suffer.” Sam shouted at the voice to be quiet, but it insisted, firmly and sweetly, that he needed to listen.

“Instead, I’ll give you the life you deserve to have, even if it means my own death.” I’m going to die, he screamed at the voice. The more he struggled, the stronger the inferno raged in his temples. Lights flashed before his eyes, blotting out the darkness before him.

“So, go ahead. I’ve lived long enough.” The voice told him there was no running from who he is, who they are. He insisted that she was just a voice in his head, like all the others, but even as he thought it, he knew it wasn’t true. The feminine voice wasn’t separate from his own, it was the other side of the coin, a second sound from the same mouth. He knew everything she would say before she said it, and even as he spoke, the debate raged ten points ahead, into the future, circling around until he was forced to admit the truth.

Darkrai drew its hand back. Its face twitched and swayed from glee to confusion, anger to grief, in a flickering maelstrom that made its eyes blur. At the same time, Sam felt his own rage boiling over, at being forced on this track chosen for him, at being pushed around by a voice in his head. Though he knew it was the best future, calculated to preserve the greatest number of humans and pokemon alike, and one crafted to preserve his own life, he rebelled against it. He heaved against the tracks, forcing his arms towards his chest inch by halting inch. Darkrai stopped, confused at the sudden strain on Sam’s face.

Then, with a wrenching effort, Sam pulled free. He channeled all his rage into making himself huge, tall enough to topple buildings. Metal grew out of his back and arms, forming a sleek gray shell. Horns sprouted from his head, sharpened to points, and his stomach turned to marble. As an aggron, Sam towered even the largest of their species, with arms thicker than tree trunks. He raised them both over his head and brought them down on Darkrai. The specter, stunned by the sudden transformation, took the full blow. It vanished in a shower of rubble, leaving behind a crater deep enough to expose the rusty iron guts of the city.

The feminine voice screamed at him, cursing him for dooming them both and everyone else in the bargain. But even with the knowledge that all hope was lost, Sam finally felt the earth beneath his feet again. He felt himself, and in control. All the pain was gone, and in its place was a rush of euphoria that made him wobble on his feet. With a laugh that sounded like boulders grating against each other, he stomped into the crater and thrashed the edges to pieces. Putrid brown water bubbled out of cracked pipes, and wires hissed sparks like startled snakes.

A vision, half instinct and half the guidance of the other voice, told him Darkrai floated behind him, claws set to strike. He took a deep breath, felt a warm, gurgling sensation bubble in his gut, whirled, and roared. A column of blinding white light shot out of his mouth, giving off waves of heat like an oven, surged forward. It thundered with the peal of a thousand lightning strikes in chorus. The air shimmered and shook around it, making the city look like a smoke cloud.

Darkrai didn’t have time to dodge or sublime into gas. The beam struck it full force in the chest, hurling it across the street. Exhaustion struck him as the beam faded. Shaking, Sam assumed a human form and fell to his knees. He crawled his way up the crater, wrinkling his nose at the reek coming from the ruptured pipes. As his eyes crested the crater, he saw the real Arkus, running towards Darkrai with the Alpha Ball in his left hand. It glowed with aura blinding even from this distance, but even though he couldn’t see what was happening, he knew what will happen.

Arkus will stop, brace both arms, and double over as one of Darkrai’s tendrils slamsinto his chest. He will topple backwards and drop the Alpha Ball. Its light will be snuffed out, and the city will be drowned in darkness.

“You’ve doomed us all,” the feminine voice said through his own lips.

“No,” he said back. “I refuse to take the path given to me any longer.” He reached deep within himself, deep within the body he hardly understood, uncoiling strands of DNA locked away since the creation of pokemon. A shiver ran through his body as every cell tensed up, took in the new genetic instructions, and busied itself with creating dizzying chains of protein. Sam watched, half with fascination and half with horror, as his body stretched itself out like a snake, muscles bulging beneath tough, supple green skin. Lighter than air, the serpentine body floated off the ground and rippled in the wind like a banner.

“I will make my own future,” Sam growled as he sped towards Darkrai like an arrow.

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  #84    
Old June 15th, 2017 (10:16 PM).
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I don't think I've asked this before, but Lorende pretending to be Arkus made me realize something; can Arkus use Zoroark's ability to change into another Pokemon? Or he can't? Not sure if you brought that up before, so if you did I probably forgot.

I admit the POV this chapter got confusing to me at first since it seems you're mixing Lorende and Sam's thoughts there, but it serves it purpose considering they're, as you said, "the other side of the coin." But yeah, conflict of interest on what to do with Darkrai there. Looks like the battle with Darkrai is coming to its conclusion!
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Old June 23rd, 2017 (8:28 PM).
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Too tired to put any thought to what I say here. Enjoy the penultimate chapter.


Chapter Forty-Six: The Paths We Must Choose
One moment, Arkus stared up at Darkrai, groaning in pain from the blow to his stomach and watching as the specter wrapped a long, thin arm around the gleaming Alpha Ball, snuffing out its blue light with a squeeze. A blink of his eyes later, a green blur raced before his eyes, so quickly he thought he imagined it, until his eyes whipped around to follow the sudden motion.

So long that, coiled in midair like a furled-up flag, the green serpent towered over the piles of rubble. Below it, Darkrai struggled to heave itself out of a window. It lashed out with a black whip, slicing the serpent in half, but the two pieces turned into pink goo. Before it hit the ground, the goo merged, rippled, and turned deep crimson in color with black lines splitting its surface. The ball unraveled into a blocky behemoth, helmed with spiny red ridges, bearing two huge hands tipped with diamond claws, and thumping a tail like a slab of marble against the ground. Heat poured off of its skin in wisps of steam, and the air around it shimmered, making everything behind it, including Darkrai, appear as ephemeral and fragile as a dream.

With a swipe, far faster than the creature’s bulk suggested, the glittering claws sheared through metal, glass, and black fog with equal ease. Darkrai parted, splitting into five sinuous ribbons of smoke as it wriggled into the shadow of an alleyway. The behemoth battered through the rest of the building, stamped into the alleyway, and lit it up with a burst of fire from its craggy jaws.

Arkus stared, open mouthed, as the creature transitioned from one fantastical form to another, flaying Darkrai with a tangle of vines as a tiny green fairy, then slicing through space itself, creating a jagged black wound in the air above a cracked fountain, as a stocky white dragon with pink pearls glowing from its shoulders.

Then the Alpha Ball caught his eye. Sitting in a pothole rimmed with cracks and large enough to swallow a shopping cart, the Alpha Ball caught the faint morning light and threw it back in a dozen different hues. Its surface had an uneven, weatherworn appearance, as if a hundred years worth of waves had washed over it and tossed it in the sand. Arkus staggered towards it, picked it up, and stared back at the fight shaking the city to its foundations. Buildings toppled as white beams crackled against thick walls of shadow.

Arkus walked towards it, but a sudden quake sent him to his knees. Pain jolted up his left arm as he stopped his fall. His hand shot up out of reflex, and he lost his balance, rolling into the pothole and landing hard on his right shoulder. A splinter of rebar pricked his shoulder, drawing a fat drop of blood.

He looked for the Alpha Ball, but he couldn’t see it. In a panic, he flailed his left arm, ignoring the painful shocks shooting up his neck, and bumped against the metal sphere with his fingertips. Clawing for it, his fingers slipped and slid off the smooth surface until his claws found purchase in the thin grooves. He rolled it closer to his chest, wrapped his whole hand around it, and breathed a sigh of relief when the blue light flared back to life like an oil-soaked torch.

Pushing up with his good arm, Arkus staggered to his feet and clambered out of the pothole. Four blocks down the street, beyond a vista wracked by bolts of lightning, fields of icy daggers, and a smoldering meteorite, a red wyvern with a rippling gray mane and talons like steel tore at Darkrai. Then a black hole opened up the creature’s chest, and it flew apart into a fine pink mist. The mist rippled, congealed into a blob, and transformed into a bird with wings of fire.

Arkus felt his jaw drop. He looked down at his own hands, transformed only through incredible hardship, and wondered how Sam could change so readily.

“No, not Sam,” he muttered. “Lorende. But how?”

Arkus thought through everything Mewtwo told him during the ten minutes they hastily pieced the Alpha Ball back together. The original sample, bearing a remnant of Darkrai’s power, came from a sample of living tissue excavated from the Delta incident. With a shudder, he remembered all the cables, and the drills digging into his hands, feeding on the power within his bones, then the searing heat burning him from the inside as he drank the foul black blood of Ath and fed the darkness to the humans.

A seed of an idea took shape in his mind, one that grew as its roots entangled stray memories and shaped them into a cohesive narrative. Lorende, guised as a human, strapped to the same machine as row after countless row of humans, died, ripped apart by the grappling, incompatible powers that slew everyone else. No, not simply dead, but blown apart, reduced to a bloody smear on the walls and ankle-deep puddles on the floor, all burned and congealed into sticky black paste. No bones, no heads, not even clothes remained to mark the dead. Dead, destroyed, because of him.

Arkus’ head spun, and vomit crept up his throat. Choking it back, he flung himself up and tottered forward. The light of a thousand sunrises blinded him as Sam transformed into a golden phoenix, with wings of amber and gold. White flame danced like leaves from the tips of his feathers, fluttering into Darkrai’s chest and illuminating the phantom from within. But the darkness ate up the light and glared into the sunshine. A giant fist rose from the ground, snatched the whole bird in its grasp, and squeezed.

Arkus ran forward and plunged his left hand into the pulsing, dark wrist. He bit back a scream as his own power mixed with the aura locked in the blue diamond, releasing a horrid miasma that dissolved everything around it. The darkness shrank away from it, and the whole hand crumbled, dropping a smooth, lumpy hunk of metal.

The metal stretched out arms and legs and stood, turning its torso from side to side until its seven eyes locked on the specter. With a roar like steel mills grinding against each other, it balled up a fist, which crackled with electricity, and flung it at Darkrai’s head. The fist passed through, but the lightning shot through Darkrai like a salt bath. Sparks hissed on the ground as Darkrai collapsed and shied away, clinging to cracks and potholes.

The metal behemoth hunched over, turning brown and craggy as it transformed into a stout bull with massive brown horns, cloven hooves that could smash through boulders, and eyes orange like fall leaves. With a single stamp, the ground rippled. Cracks fused together, and holes swallowed up the rubble before slamming shut. In a two block stretch, the earth was ground was perfectly flat rock. The only three shadows were Sam’s, Arkus’, and the black puddle that boiled, baked in the heat of the sun. Steam hissed upwards, coalescing into Darkrai’s haunting form. His blue eyes, the color of dying stars, gazed at Sam with fear and sadness.

“Why?” the phantom screamed. “Why don’t you understand? I have to kill him!”

“Because the voices in your head tell you to?” Sam growled. He stamped a hoof, and a tremor shook the ground. Five blocks back, a cracked building slumped over, leaning against a structure with its roof sliced off.

“Yes!” Tears black as charcoal dripped out of Darkrai’s eyes. “They won’t stop screaming! I can’t shut them up!”

“You think you aren’t the only one? I had voices in my head, telling me what to do, making my life hell if I didn’t do what they asked. You were one of them, remember?” Sam glared, but his eyes were unfocused. “And now I have another one, one with more control than you ever did.”

“Then what? What should I do?”

“Fight back!” Sam roared. “Shut those voices out and do whatever the hell you want to do.”

“But what if I want to kill Arkus too?” Darkrai’s voice quavered, and its gaze darted away from Sam’s burning orange eyes.

“I know you don’t,” Sam rumbled. “I know what you really want, what those voices won’t let you do.”

“Then just do it already,” Darkrai whispered. It sounded as mournful as a winter wind plucking the last brown, cracked leaf from a spindly tree. “Just end it.”

Arkus swallowed hard as he saw the pitifully hopeful look in the specter’s eyes. He staggered closer, but he tripped over his own feet. The Alpha Ball left a dent on the perfectly smooth ground when he used it to stop his fall.

“I can’t beat you,” Sam said, “not while you’re listening to them.”

“You’re asking me to just give up?” There was heat in the specter’s voice, but a hollow heat, like a digital bonfire, all image and no substance.

“No. I’m asking you to stop giving up. Give all those voices the middle finger and go to death with open arms.”

Darkrai grimaced and trembled. Inch by inch, its arms spread outward, and an uneasy smile split its face as tears ran like rivers down its spectral form.

“I’m ready,” it said weakly.

“Good,” Sam said. His flesh bubbled and turned whiter than wind-driven snow. A spiked yellow ring jutted out from his chest, his horns shrunk and pointed upward, and his head trailed off in a long mane like a pennant. Eyes the color of emeralds stared blankly down at Darkrai as seventeen plates, all in different hues, sprouted from the ground in a circle around the specter.

“Prepare to be judged,” Sam said. His words echoed as if each molecule in the air hummed with his sonorous voice. The plates glowed, each its own color, and the lights drifted upward, about a hundred feet in the air, mixing together until they formed a radiant white light.

Suddenly, strength surged into Arkus’ legs like boiling water. He sprinted forwards and flung himself in front of Darkrai, arms outstretched.

“No! No more!”

Sam frowned at him, and his eyes looked sharp as rose thorns. “Move. It has to be done.”

“It has to stop! How many have to die because of my mistakes? How many?” Arkus flung two of the plates aside. Their light went out, and the mass above flickered.

“Many more if you do not move. There is no time to argue!”

“There has to be another way! I made him, I can help him somehow!”

“There is no other way!” Sam’s voice rumbled like thunder. “Darkrai took everything I had. My home. My dreams. My identity. It must pay, before anyone else suffers.”

“I won’t let you!”

Darkrai’s scream pierced the argument. It raised both hands to its eyes as blue flames engulfed them from within.

“Oh god, they’re coming out!” Darkrai wailed. “They’re all coming out!”

Sam’s lily white face turned ashen gray with fright, and his mouth tightened into a snarl. “Move, or I’ll kill you with him.”

Arkus was rooted to the spot. Horror gripped him as he felt the aura rising like magma in the specter, bubbling and burning with malice. Then, with an earsplitting scream, Darkrai’s eye exploded.

The light of judgment slammed down like a gavel, but the aura rushing out of Darkrai broke it into a million glittering shards. A great cloud poured out, swirling and crackling with blue light. Eyes peered out of the maelstrom, and countless voices called for death, Arkus’, Sam’s, everyone.

Arkus felt his chest and skull tighten from the sudden pressure of the aura. Out of reflex, he flung up a barrier surrounding the maelstrom, but cracks shot across it the moment aura touched it. Pieces bulged out like bits of eggshell, but for the moment, it held.

“Guess I couldn’t change the future after all,” Sam said. Arkus glanced at him. He was back in human form, and he had a wide, sad grin on his face. “Well, I guess this is the end. Thank god.”
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Old June 24th, 2017 (5:54 PM).
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Bay Alexison Bay Alexison is offline
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A seed of an idea took shape in his mind, one that grew as its roots entangled stray memories and shaped them into a cohesive narrative. Lorende, guised as a human, strapped to the same machine as row after countless row of humans, died, ripped apart by the grappling, incompatible powers that slew everyone else. No, not simply dead, but blown apart, reduced to a bloody smear on the walls and ankle-deep puddles on the floor, all burned and congealed into sticky black paste. No bones, no heads, not even clothes remained to mark the dead. Dead, destroyed, because of him.
I remember this scene from your last story, still pretty gruesome.

I admit, something about Sam able to transform into arceus is kinda unsettling in a "oh my gosh he got powers from several legendaries now." I think it's because how he could abuse it if he wants to and that would make things way too easy for him if he wasn't busy dealing with Darkrai. I admit to liking the "give death the middle finger" line though haha. I also like that Arkus wanted to try to help for a moment there. Close to the finishing line!
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Old June 28th, 2017 (7:52 PM).
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What's months in the making, almost a hundred thousand words long, and finally done? This story. It feels so good to have another fic under my belt.


Chapter Forty-Seven: I Am Me

Sam calmly regarded the swirling vortex of violent, blood-thirsty aura contained within the flimsy, cracking black barrier of Arkus’ will. Manic cackles and death threats echoed as the swirling mass stared out with countless crazed eyes. “Hey, hold that for a minute, will you? I got something I need to take care of first.”

Arkus grunted something as Sam walked away, towards a heap of rubble in the middle of the street. He heaved a huge girder aside, clawed out a few handfuls of ground concrete, and shifted dust until he found a gray hand. Pulling, he wrenched the whole body free and set him on a concrete slab clinging to the side of the pile.

Brandon, hair ruffled and dusty, his glasses smashed on his face, and blood dripping like tears from all the cuts on his face, gave him a dazed, hazy-eyed stare.

“Sam?” he breathed. “Is that you?”

Sam took Brandon’s hand and brushed some of the dust away. “I’m here.”

“I – it was that thing, wasn’t it?” Brandon’s grip tightened. “That thing made you do… what you did, wasn’t it?”

“You’re right,” Sam said, putting a hand on his shoulder. “I – I’m sorry about Marianne. But don’t worry, Brandon. You’ll see her again, very soon.”

“Really?” Brandon’s eyes widened, and tears spilled onto his cheeks, running dull red as they picked up dust and dried blood. “Everything’s going to be okay, isn’t it? That – that pokemon will make everything better, won’t it? The one that beat the ghost haunting you?”

“Yes. It’s going to make everything better.”

“Hey!” Arkus shouted over the roar of the aura. “If you’re going to do something, could you hurry it up? I can’t hold this forever!”

“Oh shut up,” Sam called back. “You already ruined one of my moments, don’t ruin another.” Then he turned back to Brandon and whispered, “I have to go now, but I’ll be back, alright?”

“Back,” Brandon wheezed. “Yeah, back, like old times. You… me, Emily… Marianne, dad, everyone. It’s all… all okay. Just a dream.”

Sam walked up to Arkus and looked into the aura. The zoroark glanced at him out of the corner of his eye and grunted, “This is extremely painful.”

“Just deal with it for a while longer. We have to talk first.”

Arkus frowned at him. “Who’s doing the talking? Sam, or…”

“We’re one in the same, kind of. But that’s not important now.”

“But-”

“There’s only two paths that lead from this point,” Sam said, cutting Arkus off. “On the first, this aura is unleashed on the world, and it rips every living creature to atoms, down to the bacteria and viruses, and just for the fun of it, it’d split the planet open and spill its guts all over the universe.”

Arkus grimaced and tightened his hold on the walls. “And the second?”

“I die,” Sam said with a straight face. “After that, I don’t know. Nearly infinite futures branch out.” Sam shrugged. “Most of them suck.”

“Lovely,” Arkus muttered.

“Whatever future we get, though, is up to you. There’ll be so much leftover power that you could change the whole planet. Use it.”

“What do I do with it?”

“We’re out of time.” Sam walked towards the shield, and then through it. The thin, flickering barrier slipped around him like slime. Then Sam was lost in the swirling blue light. Over the din of voices and the howling of the wind, Sam shouted, “Come get me you motherpsyduckers! I’m right here!”

The aura glowed as bright as a star, and then the light seeped like water into Sam. His skin crackled with blue sparks, and the beating of his heart was backlit by the aura.

Arkus let down his barrier. Nothing happened. Then he stepped closer to Sam and saw that his feet had turned to pale blue crystal, smooth as glass and matching the contour of his clothes. As he watched, a thin sheet of crystal grew out from Sam’s soles, forming a circle fifty feet wide around him. The crystal chinked and creaked as it expanded. Arkus clumsily stepped back, tripped, and fell forward onto the crystal. It felt warm to the touch and pulsed in time with Sam’s heart.

“Going up,” Sam said. His smile was half a grimace, and tears glistened in his eyes. The sheet of crystal lurched and started rising. Arkus peered off the edge and saw that more crystal, inch by inch, grew beneath him. Wind rushed through his fur as the platform sped upward, past the tallest building still standing, into the thin, wispy cirrus clouds, and then beyond, so high he could see the gentle curve of the world. In the twilight towards the west, another city shone like a swarm of fireflies crammed into a jar.

He looked back at Sam. The crystal had crept up past his hips, forcing him to turn his neck to see the landscape.

“Huh. You’d think we’d run out of oxygen, this high up, not that I get to breathe it much. Damn crystal’s getting higher.”

Arkus took a deep breath. The air felt neither cold nor warm, not a breeze stirred it, and it tasted just as fresh and thick as a dew-filled forest.

“I think I can see Yvenna from here.” Sam chuckled. “Out there, to the west. The university’s that cluster of dots off to the right. The big one’s their clock tower.”

“What now?” Arkus asked.

“I don’t know if I should tell you anything. My words could have catastrophic consequences that I cannot foresee.” He paused for a moment. He looked as if he wanted to put his hand up to his chin, but his shoulders stiffened under a fine glaze of crystal. He glared angrily at it and said, “I suppose it doesn’t matter. My advice is to pursue your dream with everything you got.” His eyes glistened, but no tears fell. “Mine’s dead. Brandon’s dead, my mom’s dead, everyone in Palsitore is dead no matter what we do, even if you tried to save them. That much I know.” His words caught in his throat as it turned to crystal. “Your dream,” he croaked. “Follow it at all costs. You’re dead without-”

His last sentence was cut close as his lips turned blue. His eyes bored holes into Arkus as the crystal crept up his cheeks, over his nose, and covered his eyes.

Silence fell. Arkus looked around at the world far below him as sunlight crept westward. The twinkling lights on the horizon faded as the sun touched them.

Then the silence broke. Crystal groaned as Sam’s arms rose. In cupped hands, a pool of glowing blue liquid splashed up, flinging droplets onto Sam’s smooth face. Arkus ran up to Sam and stopped short, staring at the liquid. A drop leapt up and landed on his cheek. The flesh beneath burned as if a hot iron was rammed through his skull.

Taking a deep breath, Arkus plunged his hands into the pool. Liquid fire shot up his arms, filling him, burning him from the inside. Each breath felt like lit gasoline rushing into his lungs. His heart sat in a frying pan, and with each beat, it was flipped and pressed into flaming oil. Every fiber of flesh burned and itched.

Make your wish. The low, sonorous voice shook his bones and cooked his marrow. It vaguely sounded like Sam, but rich and resonant.

“I – what?” Arkus gasped.

Make your wish.

The pain faded away. He could still feel himself burning, but it stopped short of his conscious thought. His body felt it, his brain felt it, but his soul was aloof and adrift, observing from some hidden part of himself untouched by the fire.

Make your wish.

“My wish,” Arkus whispered. His mind sped through two thousand years of his life, from hunting for his village to leading the greatest pokemon civilization ever created. And through it all, he knew what he wanted, ever since he found paradise on the other side of the river, to share that paradise with the world.

Make you wish.

He knew what the humans did. He felt the sickly taint strangling the minds of every pokemon in the world, flickers of Darkrai’s energy blasted across the world using himself as a battery. The thought of it made bile, as hot and corrosive as boiling acid, bubble up his throat.

Make your wish.

But, undoing all that would only rewind the clock. War would start again, and this time, it wouldn’t end without bloodshed. He didn’t need Sam’s clairvoyance to see that was no future he wanted.

Make your wish.

The voice was more urgent this time. A snap made Arkus look down. Crystal crept up his feet. As he watched, it swallowed up his ankles and kept climbing. He didn’t know how to fix the world, and he didn’t have much time to figure it out.

Make your wish.

Maybe he could turn all pokemon into humans, or vice versa. But then, that’s what Lorende tried to do, change people against their will. His mind raced through other ideas, from separating them forever to giving them endless resources to enjoy, but none of them would bring lasting peace.

Make your wish!

Arkus tried to step back, but his feet held him fast to the ground. Crystal had crawled halfway up his shins. The voice’s tone told him he was out of time. He didn’t have any answers. But maybe, maybe someone else would find them. Couldn’t he wish for that?

“Hear my wish!” he shouted at the disembodied voice. “I wish for a protector to watch over this world and everyone in it, pokemon and humans.

Then make it so.

His head felt empty, though still afire, as the voice left. Arkus fumbled for the power, felt it swell up in him like a tide of molten wax, and hesitated. What the heck would he make, and how?

His mind drifted back to the giant, white pokemon with eyes of emerald. With his arms outstretched, he felt power sparking in his hands. It leapt out to the crystal statue of Sam. Cracks split his face, and with a resounding chink, a jagged chunk from atop his head the size of two fists popped free and clattered against the ground. Light poured out of it, molding itself into the slender, radiant body he remembered.

The pokemon blinked, saw him, and knelt, pressing its head against the ground. “Creator,” it said with a voice that echoed like cavern walls. “I am yours to command.”

Arkus looked down. His knees were half-coated. For a moment, he was at a loss for words, but then he remembered why he made this thing.

“Watch over them,” he said. His tongue clung to his roof, and sweat beaded his brow. “Keep them safe.” Then, with an afterthought, he said, “Keep yourselves hidden. No good can come from humans knowing about you.”

“I obey.” Then it rose its head and asked, “What is my name?”

For a second, Arkus thought it asked for his name. He started to answer, but realizing his mistake, he tripped over his own tongue and said, “Arceus.”

“Arceus,” it said slowly. “Like your own. Thank you, Creator.”

Before he had time to wonder how it knew his name, more power welled up in him. His arms tingled as more aura shot into the statue and broke off another piece. That jagged fragment turned into a long, green serpent that glided through the air. Before he could speak, more sparks leapt forward, one after another, smashing the statue to pieces. Blue and red behemoths rose together, followed by smaller twin dragons of the same color. Three birds, of fire, ice, and thunder, flew into the air, three dogs of similar appearance bounded off, a serpent of shadow, a stocky dragon with pink pearls in its shoulders and a brother with a black diamond jutting from his chest, golems of stone, ice, and steel, with a fourth of marble that towered over them. More poured out of the fragments, but Arkus’ vision darkened. Crystal rushed up his chest, strangling him, then it clamped his throat shut. Eyes darting around, he struggled to move, but his arms remained outstretched in front of him, as if he were pushing a heavy burden.

Before the crystal sealed his ears, he heard Arceus say, “Rest well, Creator. We will take care of the world for you.”
***

Chihiro licked her lips anxiously as she felt a vast wall of aura pushing against her. That strong of a power would kill even her if she remained too long.

Her own vassals lay dead among the ruins, and though they made the Sinex agents pay dearly for their lives, she faced Mewtwo and four agents alone. Two charged at her, holding out batons that crackled with black energy, and she whirled around both, slicing one through the ribs as she went. He fell with a gurgle as blood gushed out his mouth.

Then, for a fraction of a second, Mewtwo turned his head towards the towering blue pillar that grew out of the ground. Fast as lightning, Chihiro raced forward, coating her hand in aura, and impaling Mewtwo on her arm.

Chihiro looked up at the pillar, muttered “You’re next,” and used her aura to open a rift. But before she could wrench her arm free, Mewtwo’s grip tightened around her elbow. The world around her shifted, and then, she was a thousand miles away, on top of a lonely mountain peak dotted with dying pine trees. A cold, harsh wind whipped through her fur, and snow crunched beneath her feet.

With a final shudder, Mewtwo went slack and slid off of her arm. The snow turned red beneath his crumpled body. She kicked the corpse aside, and it tumbled to a stop at the trunk of a pine tree split in two by the cold.

Chihiro looked towards the glimmering blue speck on the horizon, so bright and blue it made the clear mountain sky look murky and pale.

“It’s not over,” she said, turning away from the crystal pillar and trudging down in the snow. “It won’t be over until I kill you.”


To be continued in Part Two of the Sinex Redemption Saga:

SoulSwitch



Spoiler: Endnote from the Author
Perhaps you remember my first ever story posted on here? If so, then please, pretty please forget that ever happened. I shudder to remember how awful that mess was. Anyways, it so happens that I decided it'd be a brilliant idea to reuse that storyline for this particular series... it's kind of messed up when I think of it. The fifth entry came first, then the fourth, and after that I started at the beginning. Weird, huh?

So, for those of you that have been along since the beginning, and doubly so to Bay, thanks for being there. It wouldn't be much fun writing if there wasn't anyone to read my work. I fully intend to start working on Soulswitch, and I'll maintain progress on Masks Within Masks as well.

So, until next time, have fun.

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Old June 28th, 2017 (10:10 PM).
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Bay Alexison Bay Alexison is offline
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Woot, another story finished! I admit, for a while I thought how Arkus is too similar to Arceus and wondered if you'll tie that in somehow, and boy that is some request Arkus had there. I can see why he would wish that so that both humans and Pokemon can get some peace. Also glad you didn't forget Brandon there, love Sam calling Arkus out for ruining his moment with him lol.

I remember in one of my reviews I mentioned how there was a lot to track down (what seems to be a story of Sam dealing the morality of Pokemon brawling suddenly changes to several more plotlines). I still feel that to some extend, but I really did enjoy this wild ride overall. Again, great accomplishment finishing another story there and I look forward to SoulSwitch!
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