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Old September 25th, 2017 (9:13 AM).
Twilight-kun's Avatar
Twilight-kun Twilight-kun is offline
Pokémon World Champion
    Join Date: Mar 2011
    Age: 26
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    Nature: Naughty
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    Another story that came to mind while writing After the Ashes and is loosely tied to it.

    When a boy named Ezra met a wounded Arceus and nursed it back to life, he didn't expect the pokmon to take a shine to him and take him under its wing.

    Cover Art

    Chapter One

    Ezra was jolted awake by loud shouts and the sound of a crowd moving through the city.

    Such occurrences were not uncommon, but the boy couldn't think of any recent celebration that would warrant a drunken mob, which drove him out of his dark corner within the city's labyrinthine alleys.

    Like many other children before him, Ezra had ran away from his place of birth as soon as he was able and had taken to life on the streets.

    You learned quickly in such an environment, or else you wouldn't last long, and unlike many before him, Ezra was a natural at sneaking around and getting into places children weren't allowed.

    Well, technically weren't allowed, as children were expected to help when called on by their seniors whether they were street urchins or well-groomed sons and daughters of those with rank. Such rules were enforced by the magical creatures that had been tamed over the years.

    Ezra had long since endeared himself to most of the city's watchdogs and most of their chases were for show, but that didn't spare him from getting caught and punished anyway.
    One such creature was a female pichu with a notched ear who had attached herself to him and followed him everywhere.

    Shadowing the crowd, Ezra picked up a few interesting bits of information.

    "Did you hear? Damos killed Arceus and ensured the survival of our city!"

    Arceus was a name the boy had heard before. Legends had told of its generosity that had allowed the city to flourish in the first place and the thought of turning on such a benefactor didn't sit well in the boy's gut. The fact Pichu bristled on his shoulder showed she didn't like it either and Ezra gently rubbed her notched ear to soothe her.

    "And it's now buried in the old ruins."

    "Good riddance. Now we can focus on getting the crops in and get ready for winter..."

    Ezra broke off from shadowing the mob and scampered up a nearby wall, taking to the rooftops for faster traversal. He glanced up at the palace that dominated the eastern skyline before turning his back on it to head in the direction of the old palace.

    Which lay outside the city walls, within the nearby forest that had long since swallowed it.

    Venturing outside the city limits - especially after dark - was dangerous enough without either an armed guard or a creature to protect you. Ezra leaped into the branches of a tree growing by the wall without a second thought and vanished into the gloom.

    Plunging into the forest, Ezra again clambered to a higher level, since most of the larger dangerous creatures couldn't climb the thin trees and the ones living in the leaves were asleep.

    He paused outside a cave when Pichu let out a squeak. Sounds emanated from within and Ezra glanced at Pichu, who nodded encouragingly.

    Entering the cave, Ezra noticed the opening had been widened, with loose bits of rubble littering the floor. Carefully brushing a foot along the ground to avoid stepping on any sharp rocks, Ezra froze as he stepped in something warm and wet. The scent of blood filled his nostrils and he gulped.

    Venturing forward seemed less and less fun, but Pichu shocked him when he turned to leave.

    "I don't want to become lunch," he hissed at the mouse, who was emitting a soft yellow glow in the gloom. She rolled her eyes and motioned for him to continue forward.

    Ezra hesitated before giving in to his curiosity, going further.

    He rounded a corner and stopped, staring at the scene in front of him.

    A massive four-legged creature lay on a bed of moss, sides rising and falling slowly as it breathed. Its body was covered in all manner of wounds - some scabbed over, others still oozing blood.

    The most prominent feature of the creature was a golden ring around its middle, one Ezra recognized from pictures.

    "Arceus..." he breathed, awestruck.

    The creature stirred at his voice and Ezra ducked back around the corner, hands clasped over his traitorous mouth. To his horror, Pichu jumped off his shoulder and scampered towards Arceus, chattering excitedly.

    "You don't need to tell me, little one. I knew he was there the moment he set foot in this cave. Come out of hiding, child. You have nothing to fear from me anyway. If you're here to kill me, I merely ask that you make it as quick and painless as you can."

    Ezra rubbed his head as a voice sounded within it. He wasn't sure whether it was male or female, young or old. It was surprisingly relaxed and not at all what he expected.

    Slowly stepping into view, Ezra moved carefully, hands out to his sides to show he was unarmed. It was a trick he'd picked up from the city's creature tamers, who found it easier to approach them if you didn't show any aggressi-

    "You look like an idiot."

    Ezra straightened up, scowling. "Oi!"

    Arceus slowly lifted its head and looked at him. The glowing red eyes bored into the child before slowly blinking.

    "A child? They send a child to finish me off? I'd be offended if I wasn't so tired."

    Pichu clambered onto Arceus' body and licked at one of its wounds gently. Ezra frowned and took a step forward.

    "How can I help you?"

    The question hung in the air and Arceus blinked in surprise.

    "Help? Why would you help me?"

    "You're hurt! Why wouldn't I help you?" Ezra said, taking another step.

    "You are a human, like the one that tried to kill me."

    "Damos?" Ezra asked, remembering the name one townsperson had uttered.

    "No, not him. It was...someone else. Can't really think straight at the moment."

    Ezra reached Arceus' side and frowned. "How did you get here, anyway?"

    Arceus sighed and winced in pain, shifting on the moss. "My children brought me here and went off to gather berries. Kinda surprised they let you in here, actually."

    Its gaze then fell on the Pichu climbing on it.

    "Ah, no wonder. She was with you."

    "What's she got to do with it?" Ezra asked.

    "She doesn't pick just anyone to follow. There's something about you she likes and the rest know better than to argue with her."

    The ground suddenly erupted with several small geysers of dirt and several bidoof and another pichu climbed out of the holes, holding all manner of berries. They glanced at Ezra, then at Pichu, then proceeded to ignore him, depositing their berries within reach of Arceus' head. The other pichu ran up to the notch-eared one and Ezra noticed its coat was a darker shade of yellow than the other.

    Arceus ate a few berries and relaxed, sighing softly before it glanced at Ezra.

    "Well, boy, what are you going to do now? Lead your kin here to kill me before I get my strength back?"

    "Don't lump me in with them," Ezra said, crossing his arms. "I don't like them any more than you do."

    Arceus glanced at the various bruises covering the boy's limbs and after a moment, it pushed some berries his way.


    Ezra blinked in surprise before taking a Sitrus berry. Biting into it, he winced as the flavor flooded his mouth and he almost spat it out. He wasn't used to such flavor and it took him a few seconds to swallow it. Catching his breath, he finished the berry and grabbed another and in a few minutes had eaten three more.

    "Most odd," Arceus said, watching as the boy's head drooped from a mixture of good food, the warm interior of the cave and exhaustion. "Who are you?"

    But the boy had already fallen asleep and didn't answer.


    "Do you have a name, boy?" Arceus asked.

    The child looked up from where it was helping the spiky-eared pichu grind some berries into a mixture with a frown.

    "I do, but nobody ever uses it," he said with a shake of his head as the pichu offered him a berry.

    "Well, it would be nice to call you something other than 'boy' or 'you'," Arceus said, wincing as it shifted on its bedding.

    The boy carried a few bowls of mashed berries over to the pokmon and watched carefully as it licked the bowls clean, yet seemed hesitant to speak.

    Arceus simply gazed at the young human, who had risked the wrath of his kinsmen by helping the pokmon they had sworn to destroy.

    "Most people just call me Ezra," the boy said after Arceus had finished eating. Taking the bowls, he said down and began cleaning them with the help of a totodile and cyndaquil. Giving the cleaned dishes to a pikachu-colored pichu, the boy then glanced at Arceus, who had taken on a thoughtful look.

    "Do they treat you well?" Arceus asked. The boy went still, arms resting on his knees.

    "They treat me the same as the other dregs of society. Children are ignored, but are still expected to help with whatever needs doing that can't be handled by the creatures."

    "Pokmon," Arceus corrected absently, mind churning.

    "Pok...mon?" the boy asked, sounding it out slowly. "Does that mean anything?"

    Arceus chuckled softly. "Some time, many centuries from now, you'll be able to carry those creatures you call monsters in your pockets."

    The boy snorted in disbelief. "I do not believe you." He glanced at the two pichu and totodile. "They'd never be able to fit."

    Arceus smiled and extended a leg towards the child. "Would you like to leave this place and come with me to my home?"

    The boy stared at Arceus with a frown, before turning away, drawing his knees to his chest.

    Time passed and the sun slowly sank, bathing the world in a warm amber glow.

    The boy hadn't moved and Arceus hadn't repeated its question.

    Finally, the boy exhaled and flopped onto his back, staring up at the sky.

    "Yeah," he said softly. "I'd like that very much."


    Arceus shivered violently and the boy paused his activities and stared at it curiously.


    Arceus abruptly vanished and the boy stood up in alarm.


    A moment later, Arceus reappeared, but...

    The boy's legs failed him and he sat down hard.

    The golden ring around Arceus' body was gone and the pokmon was covered in wounds, ranging from gouges to scratches.

    "Well," Arceus said bitterly. "There's that settled."

    It blinked and shook its head, glowing briefly as it healed itself. "Mhhh...feels so good to have my power back," it said happily, turning towards the boy. Seeing the state the child was in, the mirth melted from Arceus like water off a piplup. "What's wrong?"

    "What was that?!" the boy cried, throwing his arms wide. "You get up all panicked, then poof, you vanish before coming back almost instantly - what happened?!"

    "Oh. Cyrus remade reality and had to be smacked around a bit before things settled down."

    The boy stared at Arceus in disbelief.

    "You're an idiot," the boy grumbled.

    Arceus embraced the child and nuzzled him tenderly. "Sorry for doing that, but it would've been far too dangerous to have had you by my side. Things got a little dicey and I had to remove my limiter to handle it."

    The boy glanced at Arceus' bare body and frowned. "Limiter?"

    "It's what keeps my phenomenal cosmic power in check, otherwise I'd probably be erasing things and making new universes every time I sneezed or whatever."

    "I've never seen you sneeze," the boy said doubtfully.

    "That's how you know it's working," Arceus said, nuzzling the child's head.

    "Sod off," the boy grumbled, pushing Arceus' nose away from his hair. " that you don't have it-"

    He blinked and then stared at the gleaming golden ring that adorned Arceus' body once more.

    "Show off," the boy growled, before getting a thoughtful look on his face. "So, when you say "remade reality..." What do you mean by that?"

    "Cyrus was a man who wanted to create a perfect world for himself. He gathered Dialga, Palkia, Giratina, Azelf, Uxie and Mesprit and did just that, but in doing so, caused all of reality itself to connect, opening up holes to them. Sure, it meant he got a lot of support from alternate versions of himself, but it also meant fifty times that number came through to stop him. It pretty chaotic and..." Arceus faltered before continuing. "Some universes were flat-out destroyed."

    The boy stared at his hands, flexing them. "Would we have known?"

    "I do not know."

    "But it's over. Cyrus is gone, right?"

    Arceus nodded and the boy smiled.

    "So there's no need to worry about it any more."

    "It's not that simple..."

    Arceus trailed off when it got a look at the boy's face and noticed the wetness in the child's eyes.

    "'s not something we need to trouble ourselves with. We came out relatively unscathed and that is what's important."

    The child grinned and lifted his hands towards Arceus' face.

    Rolling its eyes, Arceus lowered its head to the boy's waiting grasp and gave the boy a light nudge, receiving a kiss in return.

    "I'm just glad you're back," the boy said. "Please don't do that again. Not without telling me first."

    "I promise."


    There were times when Arceus descended from the Hall of Origin to mingle with humans, disguising itself as one of them to observe them.

    A few times, it had taken the boy along with itself and they passed themselves off as a father and son while they went around whatever town they decided to visit.

    During one of their earlier trips, Arceus had made a startling discovery about the boy.

    He had spent so long among pokmon that he didn't know how to interact with humans, to the point he didn't even speak the same language as they did. Arceus was careful to point that out during subsequent visits and Arceus had taken some time to educate the child in the basics of human behavior.

    "Running at them excitedly, jumping onto them, and kissing them is not how you greet them," Arceus had explained with some amusement.

    The boy had pouted and crossed his arms. "But that's boring. Why are humans so strict about physical boundaries?"

    Arceus paused, frowning. "Social norms, such as hygiene and nobility status probably had something to do with it. The latter was more prevalent in the older eras and I do believe they've more-or-less phased that aspect out while enforcing the former. It's also about manners."

    The boy rolled onto his back and lifted his arms above his head to touch Arceus' legs. "That's a shame. You learn so much about someone via physical touch and proximity."

    "Unfortunately, humans have evolved beyond such understanding," Arceus said sadly. "Whether or not it was for the better...varies from person to person, and pokmon to pokmon."

    "Well then," the boy declared. "From this day forth, I am a human no longer!"

    Arceus blinked before shaking its head in amusement. "You are, of course, welcome to such thinking. You'll still have to abide by humanity's laws though."

    The boy scowled. "But I'm not a human and their laws don't apply to me."

    "They do," Arceus said sharply, causing the boy to blink at the tone shift. "There are laws in place to protect humans and pokmon alike. One of them does allow a human to use their pokmon to defend themselves if they feel threatened."

    "Oh," the boy replied, staring up into Arceus' eyes. He looked away, exhaling hard before he took a breath and nodded. "Alright," he said cheerfully. "I can do that, at least."

    Arceus nodded and gave the boy a nuzzle, who gave his nose a kiss and a hug in return.


    Arceus and Mew watched as the boy scampered around the Hall of Origin, climbing all over the various other inhabitants and chattering away a mile a minute.

    "You really know how to pick them," Mew remarked. "Haven't seen the Hall this lively since...I wanna say...the Time Crash?"

    "We were lucky to come out of that relatively unscathed," Arceus said. "That boy is the result of the Crash, which caused my run-in with Marcus Gishin to go...differently."

    "How so?" Mew asked curiously.

    "Well, I didn't go to sleep for thousands of years, for one," Arceus said. "Instead, I was rescued by pokmon and nursed back to health by that child."

    "So that's where you were these past weeks. And you brought him here," Mew noted. "Why?"

    Arceus watched as the boy waved his arms animatedly, talking to Dialga about something or other and then glanced at Mew. "His living conditions were...less than ideal. No parents or support, no roof over his head, days without eating..."

    "So you bring him here, where there's even less support and all those other things you mentioned," Mew said in disbelief. "I will ask again: why?"

    Arceus smiled slightly as the boy glanced in its direction and grinned.

    "I was given a chance to make someone happy and took it," Arceus murmured.

    Mew stared at the Alpha Pokmon, eyes narrowed. "You...almost sound...infatuated with him," it said slowly.

    Arceus blinked in surprise. Then it took a moment to think about the situation. "You may be right."

    "People and pokmon are gonna talk," Mew warned. "Some will probably be uneasy about a relationship between a pokmon and one of its creations."

    "Relationship?" Arceus said with a bark of laughter. "Never gonna happen."

    "Of course, you say that now..." Mew said.

    "I have a relationship with all of my creations," Arceus said cooly.

    Mew raised its paws defensively. "I'm not judging you. You do whatever makes you happy, and if that child is able to make you laugh and smile, the least I can do is support you both."

    "Thank you. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to prevent my ward from becoming a time traveler. DIALGA!"


    Arceus woke up at a startled yelp and opened its eyes to see the boy backpedaling away from a hovering mass of glitched geometry.

    "'M, I'd appreciate it if you didn't terrorize my ward," Arceus said politely.

    The mass of glitches paused before a screaming face came to the surface and let out a wheezing gasp of laughter.

    "Ward? Are you joking? What need does a god have for a ward?"

    "He saved my life," Arceus said simply, causing the hovering error to go silent in thought.

    Arceus glanced down at the child hiding behind its leg and smiled. "Pay 'M no heed. It's merely a curiosity."

    'M morphed into an odd bird with pale purple/gray feathers and chuckled. "A curiosity, indeed! Understatement of the century there, my dear Arceus."

    "That's the name of the game when it comes to you," Arceus replied. "What brings you here?"

    The bird-type shrugged. "Was in the area and decided to drop by." It peered at the boy curiously, tilting its head. "Never thought you'd pick one of them up though. How did he save your life, O Invincible One?"

    Arceus ignored the barb and gently pushed the child forward. "When Marcus betrayed me, I was buried. I was dug out by pokmon and carried to safety and then this child found me. He ignored the orders of his kind to care for me and helped me regain my strength."

    "And you repaid him by stealing him away?" 'M said shrewdly.

    "I came because Arceus offered me a better life!" the boy said defensively.

    "Ah, it speaks!" 'M cackled. "Splendid, splendid. And quite quick to leap to your side," it added. "How sweet."

    The boy's ears heated and he glanced at Arceus before looking back at 'M, who flapped its wings.

    "Well, it's been nice seeing you again. Unfortunately, I've got places to be and not a lot of time to get there before the window closes, so if you'll excuse me..."

    The bird flapped its wings before forming back into a shapeless mass before it twisted out of existence.

    The boy sat down and leaned against Arceus. "I didn't understand any of that."

    Arceus sighed heavily. "Neither do I, honestly. 'M is a byproduct of the time crash from a while ago and it's been poking around seeing what's going on in different universes. It's merely a force of curiosity and wants to know everything. Whether or not it's malevolent...depends on the universe, I suspect."

    The boy stroked Arceus' leg lightly and raised an eyebrow. "So it takes on aspects of the universe it currently occupies? That'd explain the odd bird form, I suppose. Kinda wanna see what other forms it takes now. Something to ask next time it pops up, I guess."

    Arceus grimaced, not really looking forward to it.


    The boy stared at the gift Arceus had gotten him curiously.

    "A pok ball?" he said in surprise. "Whatever for?"

    Arceus knelt in front of the boy, leaning down to nuzzle him affectionately.

    "I do it as...a way of solidifying our bond," Arceus said.

    The boy stared down at the ball again, turning it over in his hands. He then looked up at Arceus with a smile. "I..." He ducked his head, ears burning. "I'm not entirely sure what to say here."

    "An exchange of vows, usually. At least, I think that is the human equivalent to what is happening here."

    "I see," the boy murmured, resting his head against Arceus'.

    I am here for you and nobody else.
    When I smell your scent I'll always melt.
    My heart is in your hands.
    Nobody can take care of it like you can.
    From this day forward,
    You shall not walk alone.
    My heart will be your shelter,
    And my arms will be your home.
    My promise to you is simple,
    I'll endure until the end.
    I'll be your one and only,
    Your lover and your friend,
    I'll listen and I'll nurture,
    I'll fight and I'll be true.

    I'll do my equal share and I will never give up on you.
    I'll try to do my very best,
    To fulfil your every need.

    I'll walk beside you hand in hand,
    I'll help you to succeed.

    I'll be your constant equal,
    I'll give you room to grow,
    I'll tend to you when you are sick,
    Build you up when you are low.

    I stand before these witnesses,
    And I say unto you,
    No matter what hard times we face,
    Our love will make it through.

    The boy touched the pok ball to Arceus' forehead and the Alpha Pokmon dissolved into pure white light. The ball wobbled for a few seconds before it beeped successfully.

    The boy cradled the pok ball to his chest before he kissed it and opened it.

    Arceus curled its neck around the boy and the two shared their thoughts with one another on a level only they could understand.


    Arceus was many things.

    Infallible was not one of them.

    The being paced back and forth in front of a store, staring at the various knickknacks on display in the large window.

    What to get for its partner?

    The young boy never asked for anything, seemingly content with watching Arceus work, offering his own suggestions now and again whenever a problem caught the Alpha Pokmon's attention.

    Toys and clothing were meaningless. The boy had all the playmates he could ever hope for among the Legendary and Mythical pokmon that called the Hall of Origin their home.

    Arceus paused, head tilted.

    Perhaps that was the answer.

    Teleporting, Arceus appeared back in the Hall.

    Looking around, it spotted the boy deep in conversation with Manaphy and Lugia, balancing Phione on his head while doing so.

    Arceus took a moment to watch, admiring the boy's smile, which came easily and naturally to his face. The boy's eyes landed on Arceus and his smile turned radiant.

    Handing Phione to Manaphy, he made his way to Arceus and hugged the pokmon's leg. Arceus lifted the boy onto its back and turned its head to look at him.

    "Dare I ask what you were plotting with those two?" Arceus asked, giving the boy a nuzzle.

    "We were discussing the possibility of organizing a get-together. Manaphy hasn't visited Lugia in a while and they've finally managed to coordinate their schedules for a meeting," the boy said.

    "Oh," Arceus said, taken aback. The boy frowned briefly, touching Arceus' neck.

    "What's wrong?"

    Arceus sighed before gazing at Manaphy and Lugia. "Well...I was planning on taking you to the temple of the sea for our anniversary, but if you were already making plans..."

    "Ah," the boy said. "I see. I'm sorry."

    He leaned against Arceus and stroked its neck tenderly. "Would it help if I said I don't care where we go as long as you're there with me?"

    Arceus smiled, nuzzling the boy's hair affectionately. "It helps, even if it's quite a silly sentiment."

    "There's nothing wrong with the classics."
    YT|dA|After the Ashes: Sasha's Story|Ailette's Story|Walking with Gods
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    Old September 26th, 2017 (8:59 AM).
    Twilight-kun's Avatar
    Twilight-kun Twilight-kun is offline
    Pokémon World Champion
      Join Date: Mar 2011
      Age: 26
      Gender: Female
      Nature: Naughty
      Posts: 5,433
      "We're back!"

      Mew and Celebi turned from their chess match to see Arceus and Ezra rematerialize in the Hall of Origin.

      "Welcome back," Mew said, before doing a double-take. "Dear me, what on earth happened to Ezra?"

      The child was wearing what could best be considered an eyesore, consisting of a patchwork frock coat, with red, yellow, green, maroon, pink and peach colors strewn over it haphazardly. Under that was a plain white shirt with question marks on the collar. A pair of yellow yellow trousers held up by red suspenders and a pair of orange spats over green ankle boots completed the ensemble.

      "Arceus picked it out," Ezra said, twirling around gleefully. "Isn't it great?"

      Mew and Celebi exchanged glances before raising their eyebrows at Arceus.

      "What?" it said defensively. "Ezra said it looked good, so we went with that as a basis."

      "Ezra, have you ever actually owned a piece of clothing?" Mew asked.

      "Only what I could scrape together out of the discard piles in the market," Ezra said with a shrug. "Nowhere near as comfortable as what I'm wearing."

      Celebi rubbed its temples while Mew pinched the bridge of its nose and sighed. "Arceus, when was the last time you looked at what humans were wearing?"

      "With how often trends change, it really doesn't matter," Arceus pointed out. "Ezra can wear whatever he wants and I don't want to hear any complaints from any of you. You don't even wear clothes."

      "But think of our eyes!"


      Ezra and Arceus wandered around the city of Pewter in the Kanto region, taking in the sights.

      Or, in Ezra's case, the smells.

      "So much history here," the boy said with a happy grin. "Smells like home."

      Arceus silently vowed to get someone to clean the Hall of Origin - Groudon, probably, via lava - and stopped by a billboard with a map on it, gently grabbing Ezra by the scruff of his shirt to keep him from scampering off.

      "They have a museum here, but it has an entrance fee," it said.

      Ezra glanced at the disguised pokmon. Clad in the guise of a human, Arceus didn't appear nearly as majestic as Ezra would've liked, but after living with the legendary pokmon for several dozen centuries, the boy had grudgingly come to accept why Arceus didn't waltz around in its true form.

      "Museums... That'd explain the smell," Ezra mused. His eyes wondered over the map before falling on a particular building.

      "And they have a gym!"

      Arceus stared at it before turning around to scan the rest of the city it could see. As it expected, there were in fact guide posts to direct eager trainers to one of the Kanto League Gyms.

      "I take it you'd like to go challenge it?"

      Ezra hesitated. "Are there any mew that'd like to battle? Aylen and Citlali said they'd be busy for the next few decades for some reason."

      Arceus' eyes went blank for a second, communicating telepathically. Shaking itself, it stroked its chin before smirking. "I have a plan."

      "Brock, there's a challenger here asking for you!"

      Brock turned from his medical books to glance at Forrest, frowning.

      "They do know I'm not the gym leader, anymore, right?" he asked, getting up.

      "I think he's foreign - Sinnoh, I think."

      The siblings fell into step as Brock collected his pok balls.

      "How many badges?" Brock asked.

      "None from Kanto. Eight from Sinnoh."

      Brock let out a whistle. "No small feat, that," he mused.

      Arriving at the gym, the doors opened onto the battlefield and the siblings stepped through.

      Brock took in the challenger's appearance and blinked. Something about the child felt familiar, but he couldn't place his finger on it.

      "You do know I'm not the gym leader here, right?" Brock called.

      "Sorry!" the boy said with a sheepish chuckle. "I'm a little behind on the times."

      Brock glanced at Forrest, who nodded and took his place between the two.

      "How many pokmon do you have?" Brock asked.

      "Just one," the boy said.

      "What's your name and place of birth?" Brock asked, pulling out one of his partners. Inwardly, he marveled at the notion that the kid had gotten through Sinnoh with only one pokmon...

      Or else he was acting like him and went with a new team for every region...?

      "I'm Ezra, from Michina Town," the boy said, pulling out his lone pok ball.

      Brock blinked in surprise. "I don't suppose you've heard of a woman named Sheena or her husband Kevin, do you?"

      Ezra nodded. "They're good friends of mine. Are you ready to battle?"

      Brock held up his hands apologetically. "Sorry, sorry. Let's begin. Lycanroc, stand by!"

      Ezra stared at the rock-type canine and grinned. "Lovely! Arceus! I choose you!"

      "What-" Brock said in disbelief before the Alpha Pokmon materialized on Ezra's side of the field.

      "What." Brock stared at it in disbelief, before crossing his arms. "Nope."

      "What?" Ezra asked.

      He jumped in surprise as a circle of rocks appeared around him, trapping him.

      Arceus whirled at Ezra's yelp and it glared at the geodude who had trapped its partner.

      "You know who I am," Arceus hissed in fury. "And if you're smart, you will release my beloved or I will destroy you at every point in your personal timeline."

      "Let him go, Geodude," Brock said, waving his Ninetales and Flygon off. Clapping his hands together, he bowed deeply.

      "Sorry for the knee-jerk reaction. I usually don't see pokmon of your caliber in use by trainers, so I was worried that he had captured you through force."

      Arceus stared at the gym leader with narrowed eyes for a moment before turning to Ezra.

      "Are you okay?" it asked, nuzzling him fretfully.

      Ezra stroked Arceus' nose and kissed the pokmon on the forehead tenderly, smiling. "I'm fine. Just surprised, that's all."

      Glancing at Brock, he rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. "Sorry about that. Can we battle now?"

      Brock stared at Arceus, still trying to wrap his head around the concept before shaking himself. " mean...isn't Arceus kinda...ya know...unbeatable?"

      "Yeah," Ezra said with a grin. "But that doesn't mean my other gym battles were easy. Although I used a mew for some of them...Volkner was very surprised when I used Groudon. Fantina got into a shouting match with Meloetta and Cynthia spent most of our fight talking about history with Celebi..."

      Brock stared at the kid in open-mouthed bafflement, getting flashbacks to another kid with a penchant for tripping over Legendary pokmon every other day of the week. Then the last part of Ezra's statement hit and he pinched the bridge of his nose with a sigh.

      "Are you telling me you're the Champion of Sinnoh?"

      "I won the Championship tournament after the Sinnoh League Tournament, yes, but I turned down the role since I would much rather like to travel. So...I guess it's honorary?" Ezra said with a shrug.

      "Interesting," Brock mused. "Alright. Battle. I'll be sticking with Lycanroc. One on one. Sound fair?"


      Forrest raised his hand before dropping it. "Begin!"

      "Lycanroc, Rock Wrecker!"

      The canine leaped into the air, the rocks on its neck glowing before firing at Arceus.
      Brock gaped in disbelief as the deity went sprawling.

      "Ow," Arceus said, deadpan, getting back to its feet. "Oh, the indignity of fighting. What a world."

      Ezra giggled. "Hyper Beam!"

      Brock discreetly stepped away from being in line with his Lycanroc and covered his face as the beam blasted the pokmon past him, down the hall, and out the back of the building.

      "Oh dear, was that too much?" Arceus asked. "It's always a challenge to properly regulate the strength of my attacks." Reaching out with its power, it brought Lycanroc back from wherever it had ended up, depositing the unconscious pokmon at Brock's feet.

      Brock knelt by it and was surprised to find it merely asleep, rather than knocked out. With an amused sigh, Brock returned it to its pok ball.

      "Well, that went a little better than expected," he said. Glancing behind him, he was startled to see the damage from the Hyper Beam had already been repaired. Shaking his head, he strode over to Ezra, who was stroking Arceus' leg.

      "Well, that was...different, but congratulations on your victory," Brock said, holding out the Boulder Badge. Ezra took it, giving it a cursory sniff before tucking it away.

      "Sorry for the trouble," Ezra said, mirroring Brock's bow, much to the older boy's surprise.

      "N-nah, it's fine, really," Brock said. "I was the one who leaped to conclusions and didn't think things through."

      "No worries," Arceus said lightly. "We all make mistakes."

      "Don't remind me," Ezra and Brock muttered simultaneously, before blinking in unison.

      "Someday, I'll probably ask one of the lesser trio if they'd like to battle and I'd like a rematch. You can handle an Entei or Regi, right?" Ezra asked Brock.

      "In...theory, yes," Brock said slowly. "But I'd like some advance warning. Do you plan on going to other gyms?"

      "Might wander around," Ezra said. "Dunno about challenging the rest though. I prefer the open road."

      Brock smiled slightly. "I know the feeling. Enjoy your journey, Ezra of Michina Town."


      Ezra ran through the torrential downpour on Akala island and cursed his luck.

      Spotting a cave, the boy ducked into it and shook himself to get most of the water off his clothing.

      "Sheesh," he grumbled, swiping water off his arms and hands. "And here I thought Kyogre's showers were bad...guess I know where she got the idea for them..."

      He paused as he noticed that he wasn't alone.

      A blond-haired boy decked out in tattered red and black clothing was sitting with an umbreon and lycanroc in front of a fire.

      "Ah," Ezra said. "Wasn't aware this cave was taken. I'll go find another then."

      A burst of red light from his belt startled him and Arceus towered over the boy.

      "You will do no such thing," it said.

      Ezra sighed, throwing up his hands. "Fine, fine."

      Walking around Arceus, he blinked in surprise to see the other boy had a gobsmacked expression on his face.

      "Arceus, stranger. Stranger, Arceus," Ezra said, waving a hand.

      "Well met," Arceus said politely. "Sorry for barging in like this."

      "Who are you?" the other boy asked.

      "He is Ezra, and we are cold and tired. May we share your fire?" Arceus asked.

      "O-of course."

      Ezra sat down and practically stuck his hands and feet into the fire to warm them, sighing and wiggling his toes.

      "So what're you doing out here in this weather?" Ezra asked.

      "None of your business," the boy snapped, before glancing at Arceus, who glowered at him. "...Mostly staying out of the weather," he grumbled.

      "Do you not have a family?" Arceus asked.

      The boy's face darkened. "Yes, but they were...not that kind. Even though they say they're doing good."

      "Do they work for the Aether Foundation?" Ezra asked, reaching a hand out to umbreon, who sniffed his fingers before nudging them. Ezra stroked the pokmon's head and smiled. "She's lovely."

      "What's your name?" Arceus asked the boy, sitting down beside Ezra.

      "Gladion," he replied, watching them warily.

      "Nice name. Based off a flower, isn't it?" Ezra asked. "Usually it's something boring, like Rose or Lily."

      "Lillie is my sister's name," Gladion said, eyes narrowing.

      "Lillie is a fine name and a lovely flower," Ezra said.

      Umbreon and lycanroc snickered and Arceus rolled its eyes.

      "You'll have to forgive him. He's still not entirely used to dealing with people," Arceus said, giving Ezra an affectionate nudge.

      "I am too used to dealing with people," Ezra said with pout. "It's just that most of them are butts."

      "You see my point," Arceus said to Gladion, as Ezra stuck his tongue out petulantly.

      "I'm not entirely sure what I see," he said. "I're Arceus. And...I just...what?"

      "Arceus took me in a while back and I've been with it ever since," Ezra said, resting his hands on his knees.

      " had Arceus in a pok ball," Gladion said. "How?"

      "Because we trust and love one another," Ezra said. "Plus, it keeps others from trying to capture and control it."

      Gladion rubbed his temples. "Everything I know is crumbling down around me."

      "Oh, believe me," Arceus said, "It's probably nothing like what you imagine it to be."

      Gladion shrugged. "Not much else I can really say at the moment." His eyes landed on his umbreon, who was in the process of getting her belly thoroughly spoiled under Ezra's deft fingers, and softened. "I guess I can understand where you're coming from though."

      "How progressive of you," Arceus replied. "But what about your third pokmon?"

      Gladion pulled out a Premier Ball and stared at it before throwing it into the air. "Null, meet our guests."

      Ezra paused in his petting to stare at the odd pokmon before he slowly got up and approached it.

      "This is Type: Null," Gladion said. "Created by the Aether Foundation to destroy creatures from another dimension."

      Ezra held out his hand and Null pressed its helmeted head against it before growling softly.

      "It's in pain," Ezra said, gently running his fingers over the helmet. "What is this?"

      "A limiter, to keep its power in check," Gladion said. "It was deemed a failure since it couldn't control it and was frozen. I stole it to see if I could help it, but I haven't made much progress."

      "A pity," Arceus said, rising up. "Another man-made pokmon designed for combat."

      Ezra glanced at Arceus with a frown.

      "I may be able to help," Arceus said as its ring glowed.

      Null lightly pushed Ezra away and the boy went to stand by Gladion, whose entire posture was tense.

      Arceus gazed down at Null before enveloping it within its power. With a crack, the helmet fell away and the golden glow sank into Null's body.

      The crest on Null's head, no longer restrained, flared as three clear spikes emerged, flashing in a variety of colors. The same effect happened to the tail as well. The pokmon's head fur turned from gray to silver and it rested on its four limbs comfortably.

      "That'll do, I think," Arceus said, stepping back. Gladion approached Null and touched its neck before running his hand over the sides of the pokmon's head. "Instead of having all that power cooped up inside, it's now focused in those spikes and membrane. Much like me and my plates, it can shift its Typing to best counter an opponent. Quite intriguing, that."

      "It's called the AR System, modeled after your own Multitype ability," Gladion said. "But they were never able to fine-tune it. I do believe that the production name was RKS or something similar."

      "Aw, you have a fanclub," Ezra said, nudging Arceus.

      "A fanclub dead set on creating a killing machine," Arceus said. "I think I'll go poke around Aether Foundation and see what else they're up to."

      Before either boy could say anything, Arceus vanished. Ezra growled and fingered Arceus' pok ball.

      "Is Arceus always like that?" Gladion asked, turning from Null.

      "Only when it's grumpy," Ezra said. "So do you want to give Null a name? It's no longer...ah...defective."

      Gladion stared at the pokmon before stepping in front of it. "Do you still want to travel with me and see Alola? No longer as Type: Null, but as...Silvally?"

      Silvally let out a bark and licked Gladion's face, much to the boy's surprise.

      "I think that's a yes," Ezra said with a grin. "Nice name too. Very pretty."

      Outside, the rain lessened and they went to the mouth of the cave, watching the clouds break apart.

      "So, what will Arceus do to Aether Foundation?" Gladion asked.

      "Depends on what it finds," Ezra replied, scooping up umbreon and stroking her fur. "What do they do?"

      "Help pokmon. On the surface, anyway. It's the labs under the water where the seedier projects fester," Gladion said as Silvally nuzzled him.

      A flash of light from within the cave got their attention and they turned to see Arceus standing with two pok balls floating around it.

      "I took the liberty of freeing the other two Nulls from containment and will be taking them with me," Arceus said. "A quick scan of everyone's memories let me send those who deserved it to jail and the others I left to do the legitimate businesses. All the research on the Ultra Beasts was sent to the International Police, which I'm sure they'll find most helpful."

      "What about Lusamine - my mother?" Gladion asked.

      "Whisked herself off to Ultra Space as soon as I arrived. No sign of your sister though," Arceus said.

      "Probably with Hapu and Acerola," Gladion said. "She'll be distraught."

      "For what it's worth, I'm sorry I couldn't help more," Arceus said.

      "You've already done more than I could ever hope for," Gladion said. "Lillie's been talking about going to Kanto, so we may take some time away from Alola and let things sort themselves out in the meantime."

      "I wish you two the best of luck," Ezra said, walking over to Arceus.

      "Ezra," Arceus chided.

      "Hm? Oh! Right," he said sheepishly, letting umbreon go, who walked back over to Gladion, who chuckled.

      "See you around, Ezra," Gladion said.

      "Likewise," Ezra said before Arceus spirited him away.
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      Old October 20th, 2017 (12:11 PM).
      Twilight-kun's Avatar
      Twilight-kun Twilight-kun is offline
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        Arceus poked around the Hall of Origin and scowled, pushing its temper down even as its frustration grew.

        "You realize, Ezra, that hiding from me is pointless?" Arceus asked as it walked past ornate pillars that lined the walls. "Now, please, come out so we can talk face-to-face."

        The Alpha Pokémon was greeted with silence and Arceus was glad it had ordered all of its children out of the Hall until further notice, because this was starting to become absurd.

        "Very well."

        The entire place turned translucent, revealing Ezra's hiding place. The boy leaped to his feet and glared at Arceus, arms folded tightly over his chest.

        Arceus sat down where it was and merely stared at the boy.

        Time didn't pass in the Hall unless Arceus willed it and it was more than willing to keep the place in stasis until-

        "Fine," Ezra seethed, baring his teeth. He stalked over to Arceus and sat down, crossing his legs.

        The expression on his face made Arceus tilt its head.

        "You look like an idiot," it said mildly.

        Ezra lifted his chin stubbornly, refusing to reply.

        "So you don't like being ordered around," Arceus said after a few more moments. "Even more so if it's someone related to you."

        Arceus glowed for a moment before taking on the shape of an older man. Arceus had done some guesswork and approximated what Ezra's father could have looked like and judging from the boy's expression, it had succeeded far too well.

        "Talking about it helps," Arceus said gently.

        "There's nothing to talk about," Ezra said, looking anywhere but at the figure in front of him. Arceus subtly manipulated the laws of physics so that it was always in Ezra's vision and the boy closed his eyes before opening them, as Arceus had turned his eyelids transparent.

        "Screw you," Ezra grumbled, scrubbing at his eyes.

        Arceus raised its eyebrows. "The implications of such a statement while I am in this form are many."

        A brief crack formed in the mask the boy was wearing and Arceus saw a glimpse of the child's life before they had met and Arceus winced internally.

        Ezra's shoulders slumped and he sighed, idly dragging a hand down his face with enough force to leave a trail.

        "With how my life was, is it any wonder why I preferred the company of pokémon?" Ezra asked, staring at his hand before gingerly touching his face, flinching at the contact with a frown.

        Arceus didn't say anything and the boy switched his attention to his feet before drawing them close, wrapping his arms around his legs and resting his chin on his knees.

        "Ezra," Arceus said, "You're going to have to get used being told what to do. That is how things work here and in the rest of the world."

        "I know that," Ezra snapped.

        "Then why didn't you listen to me?"

        Ezra looked away. "Instinct," he muttered.

        Arceus noted the heat rising in the boy's ears curiously.

        "So that means it's time for training then," Arceus mused. "A pokémon training a human. What an odd twist on that idea."

        Ezra glanced at Arceus before frowning. "Could you at least look like someone else? Yourself would be ideal."

        "Myself would be impractical," Arceus said, resuming its natural form. It watched the tenseness leave the boy's body and his fingers twitched before he unfolded himself.

        Walking over to Arceus, Ezra laid a hand on its leg and leaned against it with a sigh.

        "What is it?" Arceus asked.

        Ezra jerked away, ears blazing. "N-nothing," he squeaked.

        Blinking, he shook his head before looking up at Arceus with a tentative smile. "I don't suppose we could start off slower this time?"

        "We won't leave here until your first instinct isn't to flee from a crowd of people," Arceus said. "We have as much time as we need."

        Ezra sighed in relief, hands reaching for Arceus again, much to the Creator's intrigue.

        Something to look into later, Arceus mused, before leading Ezra back to his studies.


        Ezra stood on Arceus' back, massaging the Alpha Pokémon's body and neck.

        "So, what are your thoughts on man-made pokémon?" Ezra asked.

        Arceus hummed thoughtfully before answering. "I do not have a problem with it. So long as the creators are not trying to control the world through them."

        "That never seems to go well, does it? Mewtwo and Megearna, for example," Ezra noted.

        Arceus chuckled. "Correct. Besides, sometimes they're beneficial to mankind. Or in Mewtwo's case, other members of his species."

        "What do you mean?" Ezra asked, stroking Arceus' jawline.

        "The mew that fought against Mewtwo was never a fan of clones, always preferring natural-born pokémon. They were also rather cool towards Ditto, since they were originally created from failed attempts to clone it throughout history all over the world."

        "Why would people want to clone mew?" Ezra asked.

        "Same reason people target Legendary pokémon," Arceus replied.

        "Ah," Ezra murmured, idly digging his feet into Arceus' back, causing it to sigh in bliss. "So, mew vs Mewtwo?"

        "Because of that encounter, that mew eventually - albeit reluctantly - admitted that clones were just as fine as natural pokémon. They've since started following Mewtwo around and they've been learning from one another ever since,"
        Arceus said. "Even if mew's antics drive its sibling up the wall."

        "What else is family for?" Ezra asked.

        "Back massages."

        Ezra scowled at Arceus' lack of ears to pinch and settled for biting Arceus' neck instead.


        "Hey, what's that?"

        Arceus glanced at where Ezra was pointing as they flew over a desert in Kalos and frowned.

        "Trouble," it said darkly, adjusting course.

        The duo headed closer to the swirling dark clouds covering the land, plunging into them.

        Ezra pricked his ears, listening to the roars of pokémon, brow furrowed in concentration.

        "Unless I'm mistaken, that's Reshiram and Zekrom," he said, puzzled. "They're a long way from home."

        Arceus grunted, causing Ezra to pat its neck gently.

        "What is it?" he asked.

        "You'll see," Arceus said clearing the storm in front of them, revealing the combatants.

        Zekrom and Reshiram were facing a massive djinni, who was using rings to redirect their attacks, laughing and dancing around as it did so. Ezra noticed a crowd of humans cowering by what was once their homes.

        "Hoopa," Arceus called, coming to a stop. "What is going on here?"

        The djinni froze, hands hovering over its portals.

        "Nothin'," it said, not looking at the Alpha Pokémon.

        Arceus took in the decimated scenery and arched a brow, remaining silent.

        "I was entertainin' the humans," Hoopa said, gesturing to the crowd.

        Arceus stared at the terrified group of people, brow rising ever higher.

        "I'm guessin' you'd like me to fix this, then?" Hoopa said, sighing.

        "Oh, no," Arceus said grimly. "I have a much better idea."

        In the span of a moment, Arceus had pulled the majority of the djinni's power from its body, sealed it in a bottle and warped it away.

        A much smaller creature wobbled unsteadily in the air, getting its bearings.


        "Until you can learn to use your power selflessly, you will be confined," Arceus said. "You can no longer travel through your own rings, and their range and power has been significantly reduced."

        "I was selfless!" Hoopa said angrily.

        "Not from where I'm standing," Arceus replied, brushing aside some wooden fragments with a leg. "You will be living with these humans, serving them. If any harm comes to them..."

        Arceus' eyes glowed and its voice dropped to a growl.

        "Well, I'm sure I can find a nice dimensional pocket to put you in."

        What little color in Hoopa's face remained, drained away and it sank to the ground in a miserable heap.

        Arceus turned its attention to the humans, who had come closer. A few bowed in its presence, while others glared at Hoopa. A stone arched through the air towards it and Arceus deflected it back, striking the human who had thrown it.

        "Humans," Arceus said calmly. "Hoopa will be your guest for the foreseeable future. If it is mistreated, the same punishment awaits. Do not test me on this, my patience is thin enough as it is. Do I make myself clear?"

        "Yes, Arceus!" chorused the crowd.

        Arceus gazed at the crowd before pointing at one of the men. "Ghris, come here."

        Not bothering to ask how Arceus knew his name, the man came forward.

        "I am placing Hoopa in your care. And in your sons' and daughters' care until Hoopa is free for its confinement. Do you accept this charge?"

        "Gladly, my lord," Ghris said, bowing low.

        "Then accept my blessing and teach your ways to Hoopa," Arceus said, touching the man's head with a leg.

        A golden glow suffused the man and he blinked, staring at his glowing hands.

        "With this, you can control Hoopa to a limited degree and chastise it if needed," Arceus said, stepping back. "I trust you won't misuse it."

        Ghris flexed his fingers before gazing at Hoopa with a smile. "Of course not. I will treat it as if it was my own son."

        Arceus heard Ezra snort softly in disbelief from his position on Arceus' back and glanced at the boy for a moment before turning back to Ghris.

        "That is better than I had hoped. Best of luck to you."

        Arceus fixed the damage done by Hoopa, Reshiram and Zekrom's battle, idly noting a knocked-out Regigigas half-buried in the sand in the process and pulled it out.

        Ezra leaped onto it and climbed over it curiously, much to Arceus' amusement.

        "Alright, so... Hoopa," Ezra said, sitting on top of Regigigas, arms folded. "Why make a pokémon that can unceremoniously pull things from anywhere?"

        "Why not?" Arceus asked, studying the programming of the golem curiously. Making a mental note to have a Celebi update it to something within the past century, Arceus then turned its attention to Ezra.

        "Because of things like this?" the boy pointed out, waving his arms in the air. "A whole human settlement on the brink of getting erased just because...uh... Why was it battling legendary pokémon?"

        "I'll admit that was kinda our fault," came a voice, causing Ezra to squeak in surprise, almost falling off the Regigigas' head before the titan's arm came up to brace the child.

        Patting it gratefully, Ezra looked down to see Ghris and Hoopa approach, having sent people back to their homes and take stock.

        "Hoopa gave us riches and we started offering it food. In return, it granted what wishes it could with its rings. One day, someone asked how strong it was and then it started battling pokémon for our entertainment. The opponents got bigger and bigger until it came to a head, and see how that went..." Ghris said, sheepishly rubbing his head.

        " both sides were ultimately to blame. Although one took it much further," Ezra said in disappointment, resting his hands on Regigigas. "Old habits die hard and I hope both of you suffer equally."

        "Ezra," Arceus admonished. "Be nice."

        "No, he's right," Ghris said, glancing at Hoopa, who stared at Ezra curiously. "We both need to learn from one another."

        "Then I'll leave you to it," Arceus said. Ezra waved to Ghris and Hoopa as they flew off.



        Ezra blinked, pulling his head out of the clouds to see Arceus conversing with the notch-eared Pichu.

        "What?" Ezra asked, walking over and scanning Arceus with a critical eye. The pokémon seemed to be recovering nicely and would probably be able to walk soon.

        "According to this little one, you don't have any Aura."

        Ezra tilted his head. "What's that?"

        "It's...kinda like an energy field, I guess," Arceus said. "With the right potential and training, some people and pokémon can tap into and manipulate it in various ways. Usually, every living thing - and some not - has Aura in some way, shape or form, but you...don't."

        "So I'm dead then," Ezra said, rubbing his arms.

        "Hardly," Arceus said dryly. "It's more like there's a wall between you and the world, in a way."

        Ezra scrunched his nose. "Can't say I really care about things like that. As long as I can do what I like, I'm happy." His face fell. "Although I can't do that here, because I'm not old enough."

        "And what is it that you want to do?" Arceus asked.

        Ezra's eyes lit up. "I want to see the world!" he said, flinging his hands up. "I want to meet new pokémon! I want to be free."

        Arceus folded its legs under itself, regarding the boy silently.

        Ezra's ears heated up and he looked away. "A silly little kid's dream," he said with a sheepish grin.

        "My offer still stands," Arceus said.

        Ezra nodded and left to find more berries.
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        Old November 22nd, 2017 (10:06 AM).
        Twilight-kun's Avatar
        Twilight-kun Twilight-kun is offline
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          Citlali hovered beside Arceus, watching it curiously.

          "So, you and Ezra have been bonded for a while now," the mew said, rolling over. "What's that like?"

          Arceus folded its legs over one another, watching the boy as it conversed with Giratina and Shaymin.

          "Like any other relationship," Arceus replied. "We talk, we fight, we make out, we learn about one another's lives and what our dreams are, that kind of thing."

          Citlali crossed its arms, curling its tail around itself.

          Arceus glanced at it for a moment before smiling slightly.

          "Don't tell me you're jealous."

          "Absolutely not," Citlali scoffed. "I am content with the way my life is."

          "Even Mewtwo has found someone to share his life with," Arceus said mildly. "There's nothing shameful in admitting you want the same."

          Citlali rolled its eyes. "I've got plenty of tail to chase all over the world. Not everyone is cut out for a committed relationship and I will happily count myself among that number."

          "So long as you are happy with that arrangement," Arceus said, "Then I will leave you to it."

          Citlali nodded before teleporting away.


          Aylen popped into the Hall of Origin and zoomed over to Arceus.

          "In case you didn't know, Ash and his class are visiting Kanto to study Kanto variants of Alolan pokémon," the mew said.

          Arceus perked up at that while Ezra tilted his head.

          "Who's Ash?" he asked.

          "One of Ho-Oh's Chosen, I think," Arceus said. "Brought him back from the dead when Marshadow went berserk a while back."

          "I said I was sorry!" Marshadow called from where it was enjoying a spot of tea with Phione and Darkrai.

          "What's he like?" Ezra asked.

          Arceus shrugged. "Decent enough trainer. Goes through regions with a fresh team and takes on the various Leagues with varying degrees of success. Lost a lot of berries on his Kalos match though," it added bitterly.

          "I mean, you could always stop in and say hi," Aylen pointed out.

          "Care for a road trip?" Arceus asked Ezra as it got to its feet.

          "Sure," Ezra said.

          Without further delay, the duo warped to Pallet Town.

          "...Right, should've asked where Ash lives," Arceus muttered, looking around.

          "Should we go incognito?" Ezra asked, jumping off Arceus' back. "Ask around town?"

          Arceus turned into a nondescript male human with a shock of white hair with blonde highlights.

          "Show-off," Ezra grumbled.

          "You're perfectly capable of doing the same if you spent time practicing with your own power," Arceus reminded the boy, who stuck his tongue out.

          "I'm perfectly fine with the increased durability and mobility," Ezra said, stretching his arms and legs.

          Asking around town, they were eventually pointed to the Hanako Family restaurant.

          "Hello, and welcome," greeted a woman with reddish-brown hair. "How can I help you?"

          "We're looking for a boy named Ash," Arceus said. The woman took in the man's appearance and frowned.

          "Is he in trouble?" she asked carefully, crossing her arms.

          "Hm? Oh, no. No, he's not. It's just that my ward wanted to meet him," Arceus said, gesturing Ezra forward.

          "Swanky place you have here," Ezra said. Arceus facepalmed with a grumble.

          "I'm Delia, Ash's mother," the woman said with a slight smile. "He's currently with his friends in the back. I'll go let them know they'll be joined by two more, if that's alright?"

          Arceus stroked his chin thoughtfully before nodding. "I'll leave Ezra here then, if that's alright with you?" Delia nodded and Arceus smiled. "I have a few things to take care of. Ezra, play nice and try not to show off too much, alright?"

          Ezra blinked as Arceus lightly tapped his mind and he grinned, nodding. "Of course."

          Bowing politely, Arceus turned and walked out of the restaurant as Delia led Ezra to the back, where a group of Alolans were talking animatedly with one another.

          Ezra idly stroked the lone poké ball at his waist, feeling Arceus' warmth through the sphere and smiled as he introduced himself to the group.

          "Ash, this is Ezra, the kid I told you about," Brock said.

          "The one who beat you with a single pokémon, right," Ash said skeptically.

          Ezra tilted his head, wondering if Brock hadn't told Ash what pokémon he had used to beat him... Shrugging, he shook Ash's hand and politely introduced himself to the rest of the group, wishing he could use the pokémon's way of greeting them rather than the human's, but sitting through another one of Arceus' lectures on etiquette prevented him from moving.

          "Is it true that you defeated the entire Sinnoh League with only one pokémon?" the professor accompanying the group asked. Ezra noted his overall lack of clothing and silently gave him his approval before nodding.

          "Well," he said, catching himself, "not one pokémon for the entire gym challenge, but only one pokémon per battle."

          "That's still pretty impressive," Kukui said, crossing his arms. "Even with a full team, it took some doing to get through my Kanto challenge."

          "You've done the Kanto Gym challenge?" Ash asked in surprise.

          "About a decade ago, yeah," Kukui said, pulling his hat over his eyes. "Couldn't pass the island trials, so I decided to test my luck elsewhere. With similar results... But that led me to becoming a pokémon professor, so it wasn't all bad."

          Ezra stared at the food, not recognizing some of it.

          "Alola shares a lot of culture with the Kanto and Johto regions," Mallow said, handing him a plate with several different bite-sized portions on it, ranging from sushi, to burgers, rice, berries, sweet bread and what looked suspiciously like fried tentacool.

          Eating everything but that, Ezra enjoyed the meal well enough before Kiawe bombarded him with questions about his Sinnoh challenge.

          "What pokémon did you use?" he asked eagerly.

          "Uhm," Ezra said awkwardly. "That's-"

          "You can tell them," Arceus said as it popped out of its poké ball. Hardly larger than a litten, the Alpha Pokémon landed on the table and took a Malasada donut.

          Everyone who recognized Arceus - Brock excluded - gaped at it.

          "It's smaller than I thought it'd be," Kukui said, composing himself before leaning in to stare at it.

          "Being able to control our size is second nature to most legendary pokémon," Arceus said, nibbling its doughnut. "I'd rather not damage Miss Ketchum's restaurant, after all."

          "I appreciate that," Delia said, clearing some plates, aided by Sophocles and Togedemaru.

          Lana and Lillie stared at Arceus with varying levels of curiosity.

          "It's not going to bite you," Lana said.

          "Only if you ask politely," Arceus said, turning its attention to the girls.

          Lillie let out an eep and leaned away from the table.

          "She has trouble touching pokémon," Lana explained, causing Arceus to blink in surprise. Devouring the rest of the Malasada, it stepped closer to the girl, who froze, trembling.

          "And why is that?" Arceus asked gently.

          "I don't remember," Lillie squeaked.

          "A pity," Arceus murmured, turning away. "I hope you find out how that happened and regain your confidence. My children love to be touched and it's how most of them communicate." It nodded at where Shiron and Litten were curled up together, having dozed off after eating their fill.

          "So you're saying you used Arceus in your gym match against Brock?" Kiawe asked. "How did he battle?"

          "It was a one on one," Ezra said. "And he used a Lycanroc."

          "Hm..." Kiawe said, sitting back. "I've sparred against Ash's rockruff, and Olivia's Lycanroc... Thanks, I'm sure that'll help tomorrow."

          "Unless he uses another of his pokémon," Ezra pointed out. "Gym leaders are supposed to have many different pokémon they can call on depending on the skill of the trainer. No two battles are alike and ours was more for fun than anything else."

          "So you don't plan on taking any other gym on?" Misty asked. "Pity. I'd have liked to spar with you."

          "Maybe some other time," Ezra said with a grin. "Arceus and I have an anniversary coming up that'll probably eat up a few weeks."

          "Anniversary?" Kukui asked blankly.

          Ezra smiled, idly rubbing Arceus' poké ball. "Yeah... We've been together for a long time now."

          "Together?" Lana asked.

          "Married, in a sense," Arceus said.

          "You're...married to Arceus?" Sophocles asked.

          "Mmhm," Ezra said, stroking over Arceus' back, tracing over its golden limiter ring slowly. "I owe a lot to Arceus."

          "If anything, it is I who has a debt that I could never repay," Arceus said, nuzzling the child's neck.

          "You already have, many times over," Ezra replied. "You've shown me so much more than I ever hoped to see."

          Arceus looked away, blushing and Ezra stroked over its back tenderly.

          "So what do you plan on doing after this?" Kukui asked.

          "After our anniversary, we'll probably go to Johto and spend time with Lugia and Ho-Oh," Ezra said as Arceus curled in his lap.

          "I've met them both," Ash said, perking up. "Met Ho-Oh at the start of my journey and got a Rainbow Wing from it and ran into Lugia in the Orange Islands."

          "I heard about that," Ezra said. "Rayquaza griped about it for a long while before going off to give Lugia a piece of its mind."

          Ash winced. "Oh, that doesn't sound pleasant."

          Arceus shrugged. "When someone messes with your domain due to those under your watch misbehaving, what else are you going to do?"

          Ash nodded. "Makes sense."

          Arceus looked outside and got to its feet. "And with that, it is time for us to depart. Good luck with the rest of your week."

          Ezra said his goodbyes and the duo vanished.


          Ezra clung to the ring around Arceus' body as they flew through the air.

          Arceus - now sufficiently recovered - had explained to the boy that every few centuries it went all over the world to see how things were going and had been side-tracked with the fiasco in Sinnoh on the way to its next stop, in a region across the ocean from the landmass Michina Town had been in.

          Intrigued, Ezra had asked to come along, having decided to take Arceus up on its offer of taking him away from his old life.

          Ezra was now mildly starting to regret his choice. He hadn't been told leaving the ground would be involved and the boy suspected Arceus had withheld that tidbit on purpose.

          "Climb on and hold on," had been the only warning he'd received before they'd taken flight.

          Yet the view from on high was something Ezra couldn't ignore and he stared slack-jawed as the planet unfolded beneath them.

          The boy had thought the city streets that he had grown up in were never-ending, but once he saw the endless blue and green world below, he realized he'd grown up caged.

          Pushing those thoughts away, Ezra felt Arceus start to descend and he watched the ground zoom up to meet them.

          Moments before Ezra was sure they'd splat against the ground, Arceus shed its momentum and trotted to a halt.

          It shook itself, inadvertently causing Ezra to topple to the ground in a heap with a yelp of surprise and Arceus blinked in surprise before craning its head down to nose at the prone boy.

          "Sorry about that. Force of habit."

          Ezra's hand lightly pushed the inquisitive snout aside and he pushed himself up, bracing himself on his elbows.

          "I'm fine," the boy said, getting his legs under him. He tried taking a step and almost fell again before Arceus' leg arrested his topple. Gripping it, Ezra shook his legs to get the feeling back in them and grimaced.

          "You haven't ever ridden a pokémon before, have you?" Arceus asked.

          "Like that? No," Ezra said, enjoying the feeling of life coming back to his legs before he looked around. "Where are we?"

          "Kalos," Arceus replied. "At least, that's what the locals call it."


          Ezra jumped in surprise as a massive red and black bird dropped out of the sky, landing on the ground before it spread its wings and bowed its head.

          "Welcome back to our humble land. How was your trip?"

          "It was uneventful, Yveltal," Arceus replied, before glancing at Ezra. "Well, mostly."

          Yveltal tilted its head before focusing on the boy. "What's this? A human? How did this come about?"

          "I'll tell you once Xerneas joins us," Arceus said.

          Yveltal hesitated before glancing at the mountains.

          "What happened?" Arceus asked.

          Yveltal shook its head. "Nothing bad. She's currently helping a Carbink colony with its sacred diamond."

          Arceus nodded in understanding. "I see."

          Ezra stared at the giant pokémon in awe before reaching out to touch it. Arceus firmly pushed him back.

          "I wouldn't do that if I were you."

          "Why not?" Ezra said with a scowl.

          "If anything living touches me, it dies," Yveltal said.

          Ezra's hand snapped back to his chest and he cradled it, squeezing his fingers. His eyes roamed over the pokémon and then he noticed the dead patch of grass it was sitting in.

          "Ah, I see," Ezra said.

          "Arceus~!" came a new voice, shortly followed by a large blue deer-like pokémon trotting into view.

          "Xerneas," Arceus said warmly. "It's good to see you."

          The two exchanged nuzzles before Xerneas noticed Ezra.

          "Oh my, you didn't tell me you had a son!"

          Ezra's face darkened and Arceus shook its head.

          "He is not my son. Merely a human who helped me out in a tight spot."

          Both Yveltal and Xerneas looked alarmed.

          "I think it's time you told us what kept you," Xerneas said, finding her voice first.

          "Gladly," Arceus said. "Shall we walk?"

          Arceus finished its story and Yveltal shook its head. The Destruction pokémon had perched on Arceus' back, one of the few places it could sit without leaving a trail of death behind it.

          Xerneas had Ezra riding on her back and the boy stroked her silken fur, causing the deer to chuckle.

          "Not something you feel every day, is it?" she asked, glancing back at him with a smile.

          Ezra's ears warmed and he shook his head. "No. Usually it's rough stuff," he said, plucking at his coarse shirt.

          "I've noticed," Xerneas replied dryly. She giggled as Ezra shifted uncomfortably on her back and shook her head. "Don't worry about it. Your butt is hardly any rougher than Yveltal's talons."

          "...Thanks?" a bewildered Ezra replied.

          Watching them, Yveltal rolled his eyes. "Typical," he muttered.

          Arceus raised an eyebrow. "Do I detect a hint of jealousy in your tone?"

          "N-no," Yveltal said, looking away. Tucking his wings close, he pulled his neck in and failed miserably at not looking longingly at Xerneas.

          "You know you'd lose nothing by asking, right?" Arceus pointed out gently.

          "Except if she rejects me, I have to live with that for eternity," Yveltal said gloomily.

          "Truly, being you is suffering," Arceus said dryly. "Work up the nerve by the next time I come 'round or I'll ask her for you myself."

          As Yveltal sputtered indignantly, Arceus gazed around the landscape.

          "I see you and Xerneas have been through a few cycles since my last visit. How have those gone?"

          Composing himself, Yveltal idly preened a wing. "Usually uneventful. The Cells warn us of any major issues and Zygarde answers those we can't get to in time ourselves."

          "Ah, Zygarde," Arceus mused. "Rarely around when I pass through. How have they been?"

          "As stuck up as ever," Yveltal said bitterly, before taking on a more thoughtful tone. "Well, not entirely... The red core has been studying humans a little more. Especially since they started spreading out and making new towns and villages. Blue has been keeping its distance and I'm not sure where or what Purple, White and Black have been up to."

          "A pity," Arceus said. "Perhaps I shall have to arrange a meeting or look for them myself one of these days."

          "With or without your newest addition?" Yveltal asked, once again looking at Xerneas.

          "With," Arceus said. "He's been quite eager to get away from Sinnoh and he could do with more interactions with...anyone, really."

          "Hm..." Yveltal said. "Perhaps some day you can bring him back and we can have a proper get-together."

          "I'm sorry I can't stay," Arceus said. "Plenty of work to do."

          "No need to worry," Yveltal replied with a wave of its wing. "Go, we'll keep an eye on Kalos in your absence."

          "Thank you," Arceus said. Raising its voice, it called to Ezra.

          Ezra reluctantly dropped off Xerneas' back, giving her one last pat on the way down.

          "Before you go, Ezra," Xerneas said. "I have a gift for you."

          Ezra turned to look up at her and she lowered her head before pressing her muzzle to the boy's forehead. He went stiff, eyes wide and Xerneas' horns lit up in a myriad of colors.

          Arceus watched the proceedings closely, surprised.

          The glow faded and Ezra gasped, stumbling back. Catching his breath, he stared at Xerneas, who blinked shyly at him.

          "I...uh... Thank you," he said, dipping his head.

          "I hope you enjoy it," Xerneas said, before glancing at Arceus, who inclined its head and she relaxed with a smile. "Come back any time."

          Ezra nodded and walked back to Arceus, who knelt down so he could climb up. Waving farewell to the two Kalosian pokémon, Arceus and Ezra leaped back into the sky and continued on.
          YT|dA|After the Ashes: Sasha's Story|Ailette's Story|Walking with Gods
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          Old April 24th, 2018 (1:50 PM).
          Twilight-kun's Avatar
          Twilight-kun Twilight-kun is offline
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            Ezra woke up with a jolt.

            Sitting up, he instantly noticed he was no longer in the grandiose Hall of Origin and as he got to his feet, he noticed a chill in the air that had nothing to do with the cold. He glanced around, taking note of the oddly shifting sky, the undulating floor and strange thickness to the air that made it slightly difficult to breathe. Wherever he was, humans probably weren't common.

            "Alright," he said aloud. "What's all this then?"

            A light chuckle caressed his ears, shortly followed by a voice. Ezra felt something immaterial brush over him and he felt an involuntary shiver course through him.

            "You take kidnapping in stride. Most others would be freaking out about now."

            "MissingNo.?" Ezra mused. "Didn't expect to run into another one of you so soon."

            "You've heard of us?" the voice asked in surprise as a form took shape. A kabutops skeleton barely held together by an oozing black substance clattered to life in front of the boy before swiping at him with one of its claws.

            Ezra didn't move and the claw stopped a hairsbreadth from the boy's neck.

            "You won't defend yourself?"

            "If you wanted me dead, you'd have killed me before I could have done anything about it," Ezra said, pushing the scythe away from his neck. "What's with the theatrics?"

            "You're no fun," MissingNo. grumbled, stepping back before it began pacing around the child. Stopping behind the boy, it then casually draped its forelimbs around the boy's shoulders. "So, tell me about yourself. Us glitches have so little to do around here and the windows of interaction are ever-so-small and hard to pinpoint."

            "That's a shame," Ezra said, idly running a finger along the bones resting on him before lifting it in his hands, turning it this way and that. "I'm sure there's a place for you in one of these worlds."

            "Would you say that if you were dead? Figuratively speaking."

            "Humans kill pokmon, pokmon kill humans. Pokmon kill pokmon, humans kill humans," Ezra said with a shrug. "We all die at some point whether we want to or not. I'm not all too pleased with being kidnapped, mind, but you haven't gone out of your way to make me miserable or harmed me, so there's that going for you at the moment."

            "The way you touch a glitch without consequence or care makes me think attempting to kill you would be fruitless," MissingNo. said. "Arceus knows to make its playthings durable and everlasting so they don't burn out. Consider me extremely jealous of that."

            "Oh?" Ezra asked with a small grin. "You don't have a playmate or lover of your own?"

            "Glitches don't work like that, child," the kabutops replied as it withdrew its appendages from Ezra's body. The boy turned to look at it and blinked as he reappeared within the Hall of Origin.


            The boy turned to see Arceus getting to its feet and within seconds it had embraced the boy and started nuzzling him fretfully.

            "Are you alright? Where'd you go? What happened?"

            Ezra grabbed Arceus' face with his hands and grinned. "I'm fine, sweetie. Really. Just met with a MissingNo. and we talked for a bit."

            Arceus stared into Ezra's eyes and blinked slowly. "A MissingNo.? So it wasn't the one from before?"

            Ezra sighed and caressed Arceus' jaw lightly. "No. They seem really lonely though, always eager to find ways from their...weird...glitch dimension place and maybe settle somewhere. Or conquer it and plunge it all into chaos. I was getting conflicting vibes from it."

            Arceus stared at the boy, mildly bemused. "You're taking it quite in stride."

            "Why waste effort freaking out or worrying about it? So long as they find a way to be happy..." He shrugged and kissed Arceus' nose. "Maybe I'm stupid like that. Naive, or a hopeless romantic who only wants or expects the best from people."

            "If only it was that simple," Arceus grumbled. "My job would be so much easier."

            "You'd never survive in such an environment," Ezra said with a smirk. "You'd probably go mad from boredom and start conflicts yourself just to spice things up."

            "I only did that once!"

            Ezra snickered, kissed Arceus again and scampered off with a giggle.


            Arceus and Ezra landed on the shore of Lake Valor in the Sinnoh Region and took stock of their surroundings.

            Not seeing anything in the immediate vicinity, Arceus then looked out towards the island in the center of the lake thoughtfully.

            "What is it?" Ezra asked, following its gaze.

            "Just making sure Azelf is alright," Arceus replied, touching the surface of the lake with a hoof, causing the entirety of it to become smooth as glass. Ezra leaned over Arceus' side to peer into the depths of the water curiously. Numerous water-types darted around the lake bed and Arceus let out a satisfied snort before touching the water again, restoring it to its default state.

            "Does it have something to do with the Time Crash?" Ezra asked, stroking Arceus' neck lightly. The Alpha Pokmon nodded, idly leaning into the caress. "I'd be worried too."

            Arceus suddenly perked up and glowed, transforming into a human, which caused Ezra to unceremoniously fall to the ground. Ezra sat up with a scowl to see Arceus looking towards the west, towards a line of trees. Getting to his feet and brushing himself off, Ezra picked up the sounds of someone approaching.

            "-something there!"

            A boy burst through the trees and looked around, blue eyes alight with curiosity. He was wearing a red beret, black vest over a white shirt, a red scarf around his neck and a simple pair of jeans. He scratched his head as he looked around before he saw Arceus and Ezra and walked over to them.

            "Are either of you pokmon trainers?" he asked. Before either could respond, an irritated voice rang out from the trees.

            "Hareta! You know you can't just go running off like that! Hareta!"

            Ezra and Arceus watched in bemusement as the boy whirled around and sped off with a burst of speed.

            "Curious," Arceus mused. Ezra glanced at him with a smile.

            "I saw it too," he said, crossing his arms. "He was also raised by pokmon."

            "And nobody has sat him down and properly educated him," Arceus said, nudging Ezra with an elbow. Ezra glowered at him and stuck his tongue out.


            The boy was back, this time with a green-haired girl wearing a black shirt and short pink skirt trailing along behind him. Upon seeing Ezra and Arceus, she bowed low.

            "I'm sorry if Hareta was bothering you," she said, turning a glare that had no sting behind it on her companion. "He's..."

            "A child of the forest, I know," Arceus said. "Or at least primarily raised by pokmon." His voice then got a tad darker. "A practice I thought was abolished centuries ago."

            "Hareta has the weird ability to befriend just about any pokmon he comes across and uses that to help Professor Rowan with his studies near Sandgem Town," the girl replied. "My name is Mitsumi. I'm also one of Rowan's assistants."

            Arceus looked like it wanted to argue the point, but it glanced at Hareta, who was deep in conversation with a pair of bidoof and a bibarel and didn't say anything.

            "His pokise is almost perfect," Ezra noted, watching the boy's hands as they moved in time with his speech.

            "Po...kayce?" Mitsumi asked blankly.

            "It's part of how pokmon talk to one another," Ezra explained. "They're much more animated than people realize."

            Mitsumi stared at him, then at Arceus curiously. "Are you two friends of Rowan? He primarily studies evolution, but I'm sure he'd be interested in that as well, or at least send it to the expert on it."

            "Never heard of him," Ezra said cheerfully. Arceus shrugged.

            "Nothing more than hearsay."

            Hareta finished his talk with the local pokmon and wandered over. "The pokmon here say you're strong," he said, looking at Arceus, who kept its face neutral. It knew its creations wouldn't tell anyone about its disguise, but it sensed that this boy - much like Ezra - had a strong intuition about people.

            "I am," it said, "But Ezra here is the one currently learning about pokmon. Perhaps you'd like to battle him?"

            Ezra shot him an alarmed look and Arceus merely flicked its eyes down at Ezra's waist and clapped a hand on the boy's shoulder.

            "That'd be fun!" Hareta said, pulling out a pok ball before running back a couple dozen yards with Mitsumi following suit.

            "I don't have any pokmon," Ezra murmured, taking his place on the other side of the impromptu field. His hand brushed against his belt and he blinked as his fingers met the surface of a pok ball.

            "Try not to destroy the lakeside," Arceus said, before going halfway between the two trainers. "This will be a one-on-one battle. Are both sides ready? Send out your pokmon!"

            "Deoxys, come on out!" Hareta said, hurling his ball into the air.

            Arceus blinked in surprise as the DNA pokmon materialized on Hareta's side of the field. It had been a more recent discovery and one Arceus wasn't completely familiar with.

            Ezra threw his own pok ball and an absol coalesced before him. It glanced back at Ezra and nodded before barking a challenge at its opponent.


            "Constrict!" Hareta ordered. Deoxys' limbs unrolled into two distinct strands of red and green before it lunged at absol.

            "Agility!" Ezra called. He studied Deoxys curiously, taking note of its limbs before grinning.

            Absol dodged its opponent, ducking underneath its grasp before leaping away, landing low to the ground, tail lashing in excitement.

            Hareta stroked his chin before punching forward. "Zen Headbutt!"

            Deoxys' head glowed and it moved towards absol, who dodged with contemptuous ease and Mitsumi shook her head.

            "It's too fast for Deoxys to hit," she said. Hareta glanced at her before grinning.

            "Not a problem; Deoxys, Agility, then Constrict!"

            Deoxys' entire body slimmed down and it abruptly vanished from view, kicking up a cloud of dust as it did so.

            Both Ezra and absol's eyes went wide before Deoxys reappeared behind the Disaster pokmon, swiftly ensnaring it with its tendrils.

            "Crunch!" Ezra said, flexing his fingers. "Then Agility again!"

            Absol wiggled its head and bit down on one of the limbs holding it, causing Deoxys' grip to weaken as it flinched. Kicking free, the absol then blurred out of view.

            "Night Slash!" Ezra ordered.

            "Bind!" Hareta commanded.

            The two pokmon collided, kicking up a cloud of dirt. When it cleared, the two pokmon were twined together, with Deoxys using its limbs to hold absol's glowing horn at bay. The two strained against one another, but neither could really affect the other.

            "That's enough!" Arceus called. "It's a draw."

            Hareta and Ezra relaxed before recalling their pokmon. Ezra stared at the absol in his hand for a moment before tucking it away. Walking over to Hareta, the two boys exchanged handshakes.

            "We should do this again sometime," Hareta said. "You seem to like pokmon a lot. That absol was very fast."

            "I was surprised by Deoxys," Ezra said. "How did you meet it?"

            "I saved it from Mars," Hareta said, and Ezra stared at him blankly. "The Team Galactic commander, not the planet."

            "What did you say?" Arceus said, stepping forward. "Team Galactic is here?"

            "I've run into them a few times here and there," Hareta said.

            Ezra reached out to Arceus, but it moved out of his reach and growled to itself. The boy noted the danger signs and grimaced before turning to Hareta and Mitsumi.

            "I'm sorry, but neither of us are huge fans of Team Galactic," he said, watching as Arceus stalked towards the trees. "We really have to go, but I hope we meet again."

            Bowing, he then took off after Arceus, who teleported as soon as they were out of sight.


            Ezra stared at a Pokmon Contest poster on the wall of a pokmon center in Slateport City curiously.

            "I'd love to give that a try," he said, getting Arceus' attention. The disguised Alpha Pokmon raised an immaculate eyebrow thoughtfully.

            "And who would you ask to participate with you?" it asked.

            Ezra fidgeted with the bottom of his vest, ears burning. "Well..." he said shyly, looking up at Arceus. "I was thinking of asking you."

            An interesting variety of emotions flickered across Arceus' face and it gazed at the poster for a moment.

            "I'm not...entirely sure that'd be fair," it said after a moment. "My mere presence would probably unnerve the other competitors and you wouldn't get a satisfying experience from it."

            Ezra pouted, crossing his arms. "It only seems fair that being able to show off your pokmon would mean using one you're exceptionally close to."

            "This coming from the one who spent several decades befriending every pokmon that stopped by the Hall of Origin," Arceus said with a grin.

            "Yes," Ezra said with a dismissive wave of his hand, "but I'm not married to any of them."

            Arceus stroked its chin thoughtfully before ruffling Ezra's hair. Crouching down to meet the child's purple gaze, Arceus took and stroked the boy's hands tenderly.

            "Well, if you want to show me off the way you have in mind, I don't think Contests would be the way to do it," Arceus said. "However," it said, raising a finger as Ezra's face fell, "Kalos has things called Tripokalons - Showcases - where the bond between a trainer and their pokmon is shown in various different ways. Only drawback is that it's girls-only."

            Ezra's eyes gleamed mischievously and Arceus tilted its head curiously.

            "Do contest halls have dressing rooms?" Ezra asked, peering at the poster again.

            "What are you thinking?" Arceus asked warily, standing up. Ezra grabbed its hand and tugged it towards the doors leading outside.

            "I'll show you once we get there," Ezra said with a grin.

            A few minutes later had the duo ensconced within the dressing rooms of the Slateport Contest Hall. The rooms were open to anyone for ease of practice and Arceus had been rather startled to learn every room had its own set of clothing options for both sexes and it was curious to see what-


            Torn from its ruminations, Arceus turned to see Ezra step out from behind the curtain.

            "What do you think?" he asked, twirling around.

            A loose white midriff-baring shirt with pink and blue highlights over a black undershirt covered the boy's torso while a pair of white shorts with similar highlights to the shirt hugged the child's hips. White ribbons were laced around his arms while a bow sat at his neck and hip. White, blue, and pink-striped sleeves and leggings ending in pink gloves and blue shoes covered his arms and legs. Striking a pose, Ezra grinned at Arceus' dumbfounded expression.

            Blinking away impure thoughts, Arceus cleared its throat. "Sylveon suits you," it said. "I'm surprised you didn't go with absol or umbreon."

            "They're cute enough, but not exactly girly," Ezra pointed out.

            "I think you could make it work," Arceus said dryly. "Besides, I'm reasonably sure we could still participate in the Showcases without having to hide your gender, as that'd just complicate things."

            "Maybe," Ezra said. "It's not like I plan on going through the entire thing though. Could you really imagine me as Kalos Queen?"


            Ezra snickered before staring at the racks of clothes. "How much do you think this costs? Because I kinda want to take it home to play around with some more." He glanced slyly at Arceus. "And I imagine you wouldn't mind me trying on some other outfits in private, hm?"

            Arceus swept the boy up in its arms and nuzzled the immortal child. "You know I love you for you. The clothing is always optional."

            "I'm well aware," Ezra giggled, nuzzling back.


            Monsieur Pierre stared down at the boy in front of him in surprise before leaning back in his chair, hand stroking over his blond goatee slowly.

            "So, you wish to partake in a Pokmon Showcase, cher petit garon?"

            Ezra raised an eyebrow. "Oui, s'il vous plat."

            Pierre's lips twitched before letting his eyes roam over the child and his brow furrowed. "You are aware, of course, that Showcases are reserved for jeune femmes, yes?" His blue eyes flicked to the man standing behind the child, who met his gaze evenly.

            "I'm aware," Ezra replied, pulling out a stack of notes from his bag. "I even did a little light reading over the past few days-"

            "Weeks," Arceus coughed into its hand. Pierre blinked as Ezra then flicked through the notes and handed him a sheet.

            "As you know, Showcases were originally created to choose a partner for the King of Kalos," Ezra said, crossing his legs and arms as Pierre skimmed the notes.

            "And there are males listed among the King's partners from ages past," Pierre mused. "And while the rules say young women, it does not ban males from participating." He handed the notes back with a nod. "Very well. Welcome to the Pokmon Showcase, Ezra of Michina Town. You'll be eligible to participate in the next Rookie Class showcase three days from now in Gloire City."

            Ezra nodded, getting to his feet. Shaking Pierre's hand, he then left with Arceus.

            "I notice you didn't tell him you were responsible for the fact some of the Kalos King's partners were male," Arceus said as they walked down the street, glancing shrewdly at its ward, who blinked innocently at him.

            "And you were responsible for almost letting me become part of the Kalos Royal family," Ezra said dryly as he laced his hands behind his head.

            Arceus grimaced. "I do apologize for that. Lucky for you, the Kalos Queen at the time wasn't a huge fan of children and talked her husband out of adopting you."

            Ezra narrowed his eyes. "Are you saying I'm a bad kid?"

            "You haven't been a 'kid' for over five hundred years," Arceus said, tousling Ezra's hair affectionately. The boy's ears heated and he looked away.

            "Come on," he said, running ahead. "I'd like to raid the nearest Boutique for costumes."

            Shaking its head with a rueful grin, Arceus followed the boy.


            Ezra lowered the Azure Flute from his lips as the lights around them returned to normal and he bowed low as the crowd erupted into cheers.

            "A marvelous performance from Ezra, ladies and gentlemen!" Monsieur Pierre said, taking center stage as Ezra and Arceus went back to stand beside the other competitors. "Now then, let the voting commence!"

            Ezra watched as a storm of hearts flowed from the audience and he closed his eyes, hands clasped behind him, relaxing with a smile on his face.

            He and Arceus had decided to recreate the latter's birth for their performance and Arceus had given the boy a crash course in playing the Azure Flute with some help from Meloetta for two strenuous days before taking the third to rest and relax before the show.

            When their turn had come, Arceus and Ezra had merged their minds and tuned out the crowd, only focusing on their performances.

            "And we have our winner!"

            Ezra's eyes opened and he saw everyone looking at him.

            "Congratulations, Ezra from Michina Town, on an overwhelming victory!"

            Ezra looked up at the holographic keyhole over his head and stared in surprise at the nearly-solid coloring.

            Kelfki flew from the end of Pierre's staff to hover in front of Ezra and he took the offered key, looking at it for a moment before smiling.

            Stepping forward, he held the key up.

            "I would like to give this to second place," he said clearly. "I do not plan on participating in the complete Kalos Showcase circuit and as such would not want to rob someone else of their chance to begin."

            The crowd broke out into murmurs and Pierre smiled slightly before tapping his cane on the ground.

            "Well, this is certainly a first!" he said. "Well then, will Miss Aria step forward?"

            Ezra turned to see a young woman with a fennekin step forward and he walked over to her.

            "You two did well," he said, holding out the key. "I wish you and your little one the best of luck on the road ahead."

            "T-thank you," Aria said, taking the key and admired it, holding it up to the light.

            Ezra nodded before following the others off stage.


            "Hey, it's Ezra, right?"

            Ezra paused as a voice called to him and he turned to see a green-haired girl approaching him, with a glaceon and leafeon flanking her.

            Her hair was pulled back and was arranged into the shape of a pair of leaves on the left side of her head. She wore a green top with wrist-length black sleeves that left her midriff exposed, with a blue gem resting in the center of it. A pair of skintight black pants hugged her swaying hips, where another pair of blue gems rested. A green half-skirt flared behind her and she tilted her head to the side as she stopped before him.

            "Your performance was quite admirable," she said, resting a hand on her hip. Her pokmon chirped greetings at him, which he returned.

            "As was yours, Miss Sara Lee," he said with smile, crouching down and extended his hands to the eeveelutions, who glanced at their trainer for permission to approach; at her nod, they nuzzled into Ezra's hands. "Very clever use of ice and grass moves," Ezra noted, admiring the pokmon's glossy coats.

            "Just Shin, please," she said with a grimace. "Sara Lee is just my stage name." She glanced at Arceus, who was watching their exchange quietly. "You've trained him well," she said with a polite bow.

            "I didn't do much; most of it was very last minute," Arceus said.

            Ezra sat down on the ground, crossing his legs under him and chuckled. "He's very modest when he gets complimented." Arceus rolled his eyes and Shin giggled.

            "Instead of standing or sitting around uncomfortably, why don't you two go grab a drink together?" Arceus said, stepping forward.

            Shin and Ezra blinked before looking at one another.

            "Idon't have a problem with that," Shin said, cheeks pink. Ezra shrugged.

            "Sure, why not."

            "Splendid. I'll see you back at the Pokmon Center whenever you're done, Ezra. Try not to break my wallet, would you?" Arceus said, flicking a credit card at Ezra, who caught it with a grin as he got to his feet.

            "Well, since I'll be feeding Shin and her pokmon, I can't make any promises," he said cheerfully.

            Glaceon and leafeon perked up at that and eagerly twined around Ezra's legs, almost sending him back to the ground.

            "So, got any preferences?" Ezra asked Shin, who shook her head sheepishly.

            "Never been here before," she admitted.

            "Not a problem," Ezra said. "That just means we get to walk around until something catches our eye." He hesitated, taking in her outfit before adding, "Unless that's a problem?"

            "Hm?" she said, before noticing his gaze. "Oh! No, that's not a problem. I designed this outfit specifically for mobility and comfort in all kinds of weather."

            "I'd love to see more of it," Ezra said. Arceus facepalmed and Ezra glanced at him, then thought about what he had said. "Uh"

            Shin shook her head. "Don't worry about it," she said kindly, taking Ezra's hand. "Come on, let's go see what we can find."

            Arceus watched them go thoughtfully.


            Ezra and Shin Lee each toyed with their drinks, not looking at each other.

            They sat across from one another at one of Gloire City's cafs.

            "So," Shin said slowly, fingers clenching around her drink as she glanced at Ezra shyly. "What made you decide to partake in a Showcase?"

            The boy put his own beverage aside and laid his hands on the table, staring at them before curling them into fists. "My...I was in Slateport City, saw a sign for Pokmon Contests and wanted to take a crack at them, but wanted something that I could actively participate in rather than merely directing Ar - my pokmon through it."

            Shin raised her eyebrows, leaning forward. "And so you decided to partake in a female-dominant challenge."

            Ezra shrugged. "I had fun with it, as did Arceus."

            Shin nodded slowly, leaning back before slumping in her chair, the bracelets on her wrists clinking gently as she ran a hand over her face. "That...was something nobody was prepared for," she said with a shaky laugh.

            "I get that a lot," Ezra said.

            "So, like...was he a Ditto? Or a Zoroark? Something else entirely?" Sara asked, tilting her head to the side.

            "No, that was Arceus itself," Ezra replied, sipping his drink.

            "How?!" Shin blurted out, throwing her hands wide. "How does someone wrangle Arceus into a Pokmon Showcase?!"

            "By asking nicely," Ezra replied, ignoring the stares passerby were giving them, before getting a thoughtful look on his face. "And I suppose reenacting the creation of the universe for the Free Performance helped too."

            "Usually it'd take a Gothitelle to get those kinds of visuals," Shin said. "It was...astounding, to put it mildly. And your flute-playing skills were phenomenal."

            "I had a good teacher," Ezra said with a smile. "Even if she kept hitting me over the head with the flute when I bungled it," he added, rubbing his head sheepishly.

            "My dance teacher was the same way," Shin replied, resting her elbows on the table, head on her laced fingers. "But once I got my partners, it became a lot easier."

            "Your pokmon were remarkably well-trained," Ezra said.

            "Thank you," Shin said. "So, where does Arceus stay when it's not with you? Does he prefer pok balls or what?"

            "Arceus isn't usually picky, but it tends to prefer Luxury or Premier Balls, or walking alongside me, carrying me when I get tired. Sometimes it shrinks down and makes me carry it around," he said with a sour look on his face, causing Shin to giggle.

            "You two seem close," she said, green eyes meeting purple for a moment before flitting away. "That's good."

            Ezra narrowed his eyes and he took in her posture curiously, noting it was similar to that of a pokmon who...

            "Hm," he said, before speaking. "I see why Arceus wanted us to spend time together."

            One of Shin's brows quirked up. "What do you mean?"

            Ezra massaged the sides of his eyes before gazing at her. "Well, I do believe it was trying to get me a date, for one."

            Shin's face turned a light pink. "A-ah," she said, looking away. "I see..." She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. "And your verdict?"

            "You're a nice enough girl," Ezra said, "But I wander around a lot, especially with Arceus by my side, which makes having a relationship...difficult."

            "I see," Shin said, somewhat cooly. Ezra held up his hands.

            "But that doesn't mean that I can't spend a few years or more in one place, and Kalos is quite lovely - much like you, so I wouldn't opposed to spending more time with you and exploring the differences between a human relationship and a pokmon one."

            "So you're using me more as an experiment," Shin said flatly, crossing her arms. Ezra winced, again holding his hands up, leaning back defensively.

            "Of course not," he said, a little harsher than he intended, which piqued Shin's interest. "I'm just new to the whole thing and would like a guide, if that's alright with you."

            Shin slowly uncrossed her arms and regarded him thoughtfully.

            "Alright," she said slowly. "It's been a while since I've dated as well, so it'll be a learning experience for both of us."

            "I look forward to it," Ezra said.


            "I'm back," Ezra said, opening the door to the room Arceus and he had booked at the Pokmon Center.

            Arceus, in its natural form, was sitting on the bed, reading. It blinked in greeting at Ezra and the boy joined it after kicking his shoes off. Leaning into Arceus' warmth, Ezra sighed heavily.

            "That was a clever ruse of yours," he said, nipping Arceus lightly.

            "I was just doing what I thought was for your benefit," Arceus replied, nuzzling the boy.

            "Aren't you jealous?" Ezra asked.

            "Jealousy is not something most pokmon have towards humans, anyway," Arceus replied. "I knew that there'd be humans who'd want or form relationships with pokmon, so I made it a little easier for such a thing to happen."

            Ezra tilted his head. "Seems like that'd needlessly complicate things. What if the human was in a relationship with a pokmon and then pursued another human? Wouldn't the human get jealous that their partner was also with pokmon?"

            "I do not know, or care," Arceus replied. "What humans do with their lives is their business. It then frees up my attention towards more lucrative things, such as making sure you're happy."

            "I am happy," Ezra said. "With you."

            "Consider this a learning experience then," Arceus suggested. "Miss Sara Lee certainly seemed taken with you and you could do with spending quality time with the opposite sex of the same species."

            "She's definitelysomething," Ezra admitted, remembering the way she had acted around him. "May be a little awkward when I tell her my age though."

            "Humans decided thousands of years ago that once you were old enough to own a pokmon, you were old enough for everything else," Arceus said. "What a fascinating species."

            "So what happens if she and I reach the physical part of a relationship?" Ezra asked. "Human anatomy is quite different from pokmon anatomy and I'd rather not make a fool of myself."

            Arceus blinked, then frowned. "Iuhhm" it said. "I suppose we'll have to research that bit, won't we?"

            "That's gonna be fun" Ezra muttered, "Given that I look like a little kid."

            "Leave that to me," Arceus replied. "You, on the other hand, have some more time with Sara to look forward to."

            "Shin, actually," Ezra said absently, stroking over Arceus' ring, as he then told Arceus about their date.
            YT|dA|After the Ashes: Sasha's Story|Ailette's Story|Walking with Gods
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              #6   Link to this post, but load the entire thread.  
            Old July 3rd, 2018 (9:17 AM).
            David Luiz David Luiz is offline
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              Well written. Great post this one was.
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              Old September 15th, 2018 (10:54 AM).
              Twilight-kun's Avatar
              Twilight-kun Twilight-kun is offline
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                Shin and Ezra poked through a Shalour City Boutique in pursuit of outfits for Shin's next performance.

                "How's this?" Ezra asked, holding up a frilly blue and white-striped dress. Shin poked her head out of the rack of pants she had been perusing and studied it for a moment thoughtfully.

                "Does it come in something that goes well with green?" she asked, tapping her head. Ezra got a thoughtful look on his face before turning back to the rack. Shin watched him as his fingers danced over the sleeves of the dresses, muttering under his breath as he did so and she smiled slightly before turning back to her own row of clothing.

                Green and black with traces of blue and yellow had worked well enough for her debut, but she wanted to try something new. She eyed a pair of purple leggings thoughtfully before pulling them out.

                "What do you think?" she asked, turning around once again. Her lips twitched as she saw that Ezra had also chosen a purple dress. He stared at the leggings in her hand and nodded thoughtfully.

                "Well, that settles it then," Shin said with a giggle, taking the dress from him. Holding it against her chest, she checked the length. "A little short, don't you think?" she asked teasingly.

                "Isn't that what the leggings are for?" Ezra asked innocently. Shin rolled her eyes.

                "True, but while it's often unavoidable with dresses, I should at least make an effort to pretend to have modesty when performing," she pointed out.

                "Hadn't thought of that," Ezra murmured, stroking his chin, before lifting the hem of the dress. "Perhaps we could add extensions to this?"

                Shin imagined the design and nodded slowly. "That's doable. Thanks for the help."


                Shin Lee and Ezra strode through the flower fields on the outskirts of Shalour City, admiring the scenery.

                "So, what got you into Showcases?" Ezra asked as the two sat down. Shin released her glaceon and leafeon, who stretched, yapped at one another before running off into the flowers to play and explore. Shin picked a bunch of flowers and started braiding them together as she spoke.

                "I was a hyperactive child, always getting into mischief, so my parents decided to focus that into something productive, like dancing," she said, fingers moving deftly through a familiar series of motions. Within a few minutes, she had a crown of flowers which she set aside before starting on another. "Like any kid that age, I protested, but I guess deep down I knew they were doing it because they cared, so I doubled down and focused on it. Wasn't all that great at it until I got my first pokémon, which eventually became my leafeon. Being a daredevil, I started using pokémon moves in my dancing, dodging leafeon's razor leaves and vine whips." She smiled slightly, tying another crown closed. Moving to set it with the first, she blinked in surprise. "It's gone!"

                Ezra peered around her and tilted his head, before getting to his feet. Looking around, he spotted a flash of white in the grass. "There!"

                Whatever it was froze at the sound of his voice before bolting away. Ezra made to pursue, but Shin grabbed his arm and shook her head when he turned to look at her.

                "It's just a flower crown," she said, raising her eyebrows. "Nothing to get worked up over."

                Ezra blinked sheepishly. "Well, at least it'll look good wearing it." Shin's ears went pink and she looked away with a giggle.

                The two sat back down and Ezra watched her work for a while in silence. Shin occasionally looked up at him, looking like she wanted to say something, but never spoke. Ezra didn't push her on it and laid back on the ground, staring up at the sky, watching clouds float by.


                Arceus opened its eyes as the door to their room opened and Ezra came in.

                "I'm back!" he called, taking his shoes off. He placed a bag of clothing down by the wall and made his way to Arceus, giving it a hug and a kiss.

                "Welcome back," Arceus said, nuzzling the boy. "How was your shopping date?"

                "Enjoyable," Ezra replied. "Shin has everything ready for her next performance in a few weeks."

                "So why do you have clothing?" Arceus asked curiously. "Especially since you didn't seem interested in participating again."

                Ezra shrugged. "Doesn't hurt to have options. Besides, you never know when you may need a costume for a masquerade or something."

                Arceus chuckled and gazed at Ezra for a moment before curling around him.

                "Something up?" Ezra asked, rubbing over the Alpha Pokémon.

                "Well, since you seem to be getting along quite nicely with Miss Lee, I...have been considering leaving the two of you to your devices for a while."

                Ezra blinked in surprise and Arceus pushed its head into the boy's chest lightly.

                "Yet at the same time, I don't want to leave you," Arceus said with a sigh.

                "Isn't that what being a parent is all about?" Ezra asked. Arceus snorted softly and Ezra scowled affectionately. "Even though you and I are a little beyond that."

                "You're taking this remarkably well," Arceus noted.

                Ezra smiled and squeezed Arceus' legs lightly. "Well, it's not like we're being separated forever, or breaking up, right?"

                "Wouldn't dream of it," Arceus replied. "I just want you to be happy with Miss Lee."

                "I don't suppose you'd be willing to stick around for her next show?" Ezra asked.

                "I can do that much," Arceus said. "After that...well, we'll see. Barring any world-ending catastrophes, I suspect it'll be a while I see you again." Its tone then turned musing. "Granted, that doesn't mean I won't stop in from time to time."

                "So long as you don't pop in during intimate moments, that shouldn't be a problem," Ezra said, curling against Arceus' side.

                "Oh? Am I going to be a grandfather soon?" Arceus teased, causing the boy to scowl at it. "She's over fifteen?"

                "Turned fifteen last December," Ezra said.

                "I wish you the best of luck," Arceus said, nibbling on the boy's fingers. "She's quite lovely."

                "I've noticed," Ezra replied dryly.

                The two then settled down for the night and were soon asleep.


                Ezra sat on the side of a hill and watched as Shin practiced her Showcase routine.

                She had used Glaceon's Powder Snow to freeze a part of the grassy field into a stage and was attempting to use Magical Leaf and Ice Beam to set up her finale, but was having a little trouble with the timing. Leafeon was also suffering due to skating around on ice and every few minutes Shin stopped practicing to cup her pokémon's paws between her hands to warm them up.

                Ezra got to his feet and ambled down to offer help of some kind while Arceus watched the proceedings silently.

                Shin looked up at Ezra as he approached and he knelt down beside her as she warmed Leafeon against her body.

                "As you can see, I've hit a bit of a roadblock," Shin said with a sigh. "And it's driving me up the wall."

                "Is the ice rink absolutely necessary?" Ezra asked, stroking over Leafeon's fur, gently warming the pokémon with his power. Leafeon chirped at him and licked his hand, causing Shin to smile slightly before she got a contemplative look on her face.

                "Not...entirely," she said slowly. "I suppose I could have Glaceon use some fast melting ice to add some style to her performance while Leafeon and I dance normally..."

                Ezra glanced at Glaceon, who fretted at her partner's side. Leafeon flicked her tail at the Ice-type and mewled at her. Glaceon huffed before lightly nuzzling the other pokémon.

                "Practice makes perfect," Ezra said. "And we've got plenty of time to do so."

                Shin nodded before massaging Leafeon's paws one last time before getting to her feet. "Alright, one last attempt for today. You ready, girls?"

                Ezra went back to the hillside, sitting beside Arceus, who ruffled the boy's hair

                "You're getting better at interacting with humans," it said warmly. Ezra's ears heated and Arceus chuckled. "I'm glad to see how much you've grown."

                Ezra leaned against Arceus' side and the two resumed watching Shin perform.


                Heading back into the city from the flower fields, Shin and Ezra were chatting quietly, hands twined together. Behind them, Arceus walked slowly, letting them get ahead of it. Arceus stopped and sighed, gazing up at the sky, letting its eyes admire the world it had created all those countless years ago.

                "You alright?"

                Arceus twitched in surprise and looked down to see Ezra hugging him. Stroking the boy's hair as it looked into the child's curious eyes, it nodded.

                "Just lost in happy memories," Arceus said. Ezra narrowed his eyes, but didn't press the issue. Arceus then turned the boy around and pushed him forward. "Back to your girlfriend," it teased, causing the boy to stumble. Ezra whirled, jabbing a finger at Arceus.

                "You-" he said, only to bump into something sharp and he jerked slightly. Turning, he came face-to-face with a lucario, who was studying him closely. Arceus was happy to see that Ezra was unharmed, save for a hole in the back of his shirt from the pokémon's spike.

                "Hello there," Ezra said, tilting his head. "Are you lost?"

                The lucario sniffed the air around the boy curiously, the aura sensors on its head twitching.

                "He doesn't have Aura," Arceus said, stepping up to the boy's side. The lucario glanced at the disguised Alpha Pokémon and inclined its head respectfully before it stepped back.

                "Hey!" came a new voice. A girl wearing a red and white skating outfit rushed up, another lucario running behind her. She came to a stop beside the lucario and rested her hands on her knees, catching her breath. Standing up, she scowled at the lucario. "You can't just go rushing off like that! You had me worried, and-" She stopped, noticing Ezra, Arceus and Shin. Clapping her hands together, she bowed low. "Hello, my name is Korrina and I offer my most sincere apologies for the behavior of my pokémon," she said. "As the gym leader of Shalour City, I should be more diligent with my pokémon, but you know how they are."

                "Indeed," Arceus replied lightly, eyes twinkling in amusement as the lucario blushed. "I suspect he was drawn here by my ward, Ezra. He lacks Aura, which causes pokémon sensitive to it to notice."

                Korrina tilted her head before looking at her lucario. "Is that what's had you uneasy lately, Riley, Aaron?" The two lucario nodded, red eyes resting on Ezra, whose purple eyes met theirs. Something passed between the trio and they dipped their heads respectfully to him before turning to their trainer.

                She frowned, biting her lip. "Well, if there's anything you need help with, feel free to stop by the gym," she said, before noticing Shin. "Aren't you a Performer?"

                Shin nodded. "I plan on partaking in the Shalour City Showcase later today," she said. "Maybe get a key out of it."

                "I look forward to watching it," Korrina said. "Aaron is really fond of Showcases and they've grown on me as well. Riley's the odd one out, as he prefers gym battles."

                "I may stop by sometime then," Ezra said, getting Riley's attention. "While I don't really plan on partaking in all the Leagues, I do like having the odd gym battle here and there."

                "Splendid," Korrina said. "I look forward to your challenge." She bowed to them once again before skating off, followed by her pokémon.

                Shin watched them go before turning to Ezra. "No Aura?" she asked curiously.

                The boy shrugged. "I'm not sure why that's a thing, but I haven't noticed anything odd about it." He glanced at Arceus, who shrugged as well.

                Shin's worry melted away and she took Ezra's hands, squeezing them. "Well, shall we go relax for a bit before the Showcase tonight?" she asked.

                "Certainly," Ezra said, and the trio continued on.


                Ezra and Arceus sat in the upper balcony of the Shalour City Showcase, watching the various performances.

                "Cal had a good thing going with her Scraggy," Arceus mused thoughtfully, leaning on the railing.

                "Cal?" Ezra asked, glancing at it. "Could've sworn her name was Kiri Concetta."

                Arceus' lips twitched. "Sara Lee," it countered. Ezra shrugged and turned his gaze back to the stage, perking up as Shin appeared, flanked by her leafeon and glaceon. Throwing a kiss to the crowd, she began.

                Starting off with a Grassy Terrain, Glaceon then froze it with Powder Snow, which was then melted by a Sunny Day put out by Leafeon, throwing a myriad of rainbows through the evaporating snow. Shin danced among the shifting colors, arms extended, limbs moving in hypnotic patterns as her pokémon ran and leaped around her. A storm of Magical Leaves then sliced through the mist, winding around a pillar of ice before exploding outwards in a blast of cold, freezing them in the shape of a flower. The entire construct then shattered into a glittering array of shards and Shin bowed low.

                Monsieur Pierre then took the stage, congratulating the performers before the voting began. Turning the color of his PokéLume to purple to match Shin's key color, Ezra then glared at Arceus, whose caster was emitting a yellow glow.

                "What?" Arceus said innocently. "I'd already seen Miss Lee's performance before."

                Pinching the bridge of his nose, Ezra shook his head and watched as the different keyholes hovering above the performers filled. They faded away while the levels were even and the stage went dark.

                "The winner of the Shalour City Showcase is..." Monsieur Pierre's voice filled the room and Ezra bit his lip nervously. The spotlights snapped on, illuminating a single figure before the entire arena was flooded with light.

                "...Miss Sara Lee! Congratulations!"

                Arceus watched in amusement as Ezra let out a whoop, leaping into the air. It seized Ezra by the scruff of the neck as the boy nearly leaped over the railing and shook its head, smiling. "Patience, Ezra," it said admonishingly. Calming slightly, Ezra watched as Shin received her key from Pierre's klefki and the Showcase concluded.

                In her dressing room, Shin Lee let out a breath and sank into her chair. Placing her trembling hands on trembling knees, she gazed at herself in the mirror. The girl staring back at her looked like she'd been been poleaxed and she let out a laugh of relief.

                Her pokémon twined around her legs, jumping into her lap and covered her in licks and nuzzles, causing her to dissolve into helpless giggles as she fended them off.

                There was a knock on the door and she turned as it opened. Ezra and his guardian stepped inside, shutting the door behind themselves. Ezra was vibrating happily and she watched curiously as the boy's guardian lightly tugged on the boy's shirt collar and he relaxed slightly. Taking a deep breath, he nodded to her.

                "Your performance was amazing," he said simply. Shin's face went pink and she looked away, fiddling with the hem of her dress nervously.

                "You think so?" she murmured. "I wasn't entirely happy with it."

                Ezra blinked, stepping towards her. "Really? I thought it was beautifully executed and you did it in a such a way both your pokémon got to shine. Literally," he added after a moment.

                Shin nodded, before stifling a yawn, blushing as she did so. "Sorry," she said, shaking her head. "It took a lot out of me."

                Ezra blinked in sympathy and his guardian placed his hands on the boy's shoulders, giving them a squeeze.

                "Well done, Miss Lee," he said with a dip of his white-haired head. "I daresay that was one of the best Showcases I've seen this year."

                "Yet you didn't vote for her," Ezra muttered before yelping with pain as the hands dug into his shoulders. Shin winced and held her hands up placatingly.

                "It's not a problem," she said. "Really," she added when Ezra's eyebrows arched. He looked at her for a moment, causing her to squirm before he reluctantly nodded. Gazing at the key, she took a breath and stood up, walking up to Ezra, who tilted his head and looked up at her.

                She met his purple eyes and her hands lifted to his face, cupping it gently before she leaned down and gently kissed him.

                Ezra's body twitched at the contact and Arceus stepped back, hiding a smile. Turning, it quietly left the room as the distance between the two humans vanished.


                Shin held her Princess Key in the air, admiring it as she and Ezra wandered through the flower fields outside Shalour City. Holding the key to her chest, Shin wiggled happily before turning and hugging Ezra tightly.

                Pulling away from him, she smiled. "Thank you for your help," she said, eyes gleaming with something Ezra couldn't quite place. Leaning forward, she kissed him gently and he nuzzled her, causing her to giggle. "That feels weird."

                Ezra pulled back with a hurt look and pouted, causing Shin to blink before stammering an apology. Ezra waved it off with a sheepish smile, ducking his head. "Sorry," he said shyly. "It's just…this is all so new to me, ya know?"

                Shin gazed at him, her mind going back to the previous evening and she smiled, taking his hands in hers. "Neither of us were perfect then," she said, raising her eyebrows, causing Ezra's ears to turn red. "It's a lot of fun."

                Ezra nodded, turning his attention to the flowers, admiring them. The two came to a stop and Shin started braiding flowers as Ezra watched her.


                Ezra twitched in surprise before turning to see a silver-furred eevee with red eyes wearing a crown of flowers looking up at him, tail wagging shyly. Ezra glanced at Shin, who had placed her flowers aside and was watching silently, before slowly kneeling down, not wanting to scare the eevee away.

                "Hey there, little one," Ezra said gently. "You didn't have to bring these back, you know."

                The eevee looked at the flowers before flattening her ears guiltily. Ezra motioned the pokémon closer. She looked at him, tilting her head and sniffed the air before she stepped forward, tail wagging slowly. Once she was within reach, Ezra placed the crown of flowers on her head and smiled.

                "There, you see? A perfect fit."

                The eevee flicked her ears before chirping happily, dancing in a circle, which had Shin moving closer out of curiosity. Watching the little one's dance, she stroked her chin musingly. Noticing her, the eevee froze up, tangling her paws together before going down in a heap.

                Ezra helped her to her paws, smoothing her fur before making soft soothing noises to calm the pokémon. The eevee ducked her head shyly, hiding under Ezra's hands and he stroked her gently.

                "There, there," he said. "This is Shin, a trainer who also uses eevee. Well," he corrected himself, "Glaceon and leafeon, at least."

                Shin sat down, smoothing her glaceon-themed skirt as she did so, and smiled at the eevee. "You remind me of them when I first met them. While they're not as graceful as you, I imagine they'd like to meet you." She then perked up. "I know! Do you want to come with us?"

                The eevee's ears stood up and she nodded, red eyes gleaming.

                "But which of us gets her?" Ezra asked.

                Shin pulled a poké ball from her belt and placed it in front of the eevee.

                "That's for her to decide," she said. "Roll it towards whomever you'd like to travel with."

                The eevee looked between the two, sniffing the around each of them before bumping the poké ball with her nose, nudging it towards Ezra. She barked at him, waving her tail. Ezra picked up the poké ball and tapped it against the eevee's head. The ball opened up, sucking the silver-furred fox into it. Shaking for a moment, it then beeped successfully.

                Ezra then released her and she leapt into his arms, nuzzling him. Shin giggled.

                "Congratulations," she said. "You ever own a pokémon before?"

                Ezra shook his head and Shin sighed.

                "Something else for you to learn about," she teased. "Come on then," she said, rising to her feet. "Let's go find my wayward ones and introduce her."


                Ezra stared across the field at his Sinnoh League opponent curiously.

                The man named Tobias stood tall and proud, a confident smirk on his face as the referee went over the usual rules before calling for the two trainers to send out their first pokémon.

                "This'll be easy," Tobias declared. "Emerge, Darkrai!"

                The Darkness Pokémon appeared in a flash of dark purple energy and Ezra bounced on his heels excitedly before throwing his own poké ball.

                With a roar that shook the arena, Rayquaza materialized.

                Tobias' jaw dropped and even Darkrai seemed dumbfounded.

                "How in the-?!" Tobias demanded furiously.

                "I asked nicely," Ezra said before pointing up. "Dragon Ascent!"

                "With or without Primal Reversion?" Rayquaza asked, bathing itself in green and yellow energy.

                "Eh, we're in the League, so you may as well go all-out," Ezra said. Rayquaza grinned before blasting off into the air, cracking the arena as it did so.

                Tobias looked skyward for a moment before turning his gaze on the small child across the field, who was looking at Darkrai curiously.

                "Darkrai, Phantom Force," Tobias ordered. Darkrai flitted out of view as Rayquaza descended from the heavens like a green thunderbolt, striking the ground with enough force to completely vaporize the field.

                Darkrai rematerialized and struck at Rayquaza, who didn't even seem to notice, before getting smacked by Dragon Tail, sending it into the stadium wall. When the dust cleared, Darkrai sank to the ground, unconscious.

                "Darkrai is unable to battle!" the referee declared. Tobias blinked before scowling. Recalling his pokémon, he pulled out his second.

                "Latias, stand by."

                The red dragon coalesced with a trilling coo before seeing Rayquaza and it turned into a strangled squeak of terror.

                "Ice Beam!" Tobias ordered, but Latias was too scared to move and Rayquaza hammered her into the ground with Dragon Claw.

                Ezra frowned before recalling Rayquaza as Tobias sent out his third pokémon, feebas. The man's shoulders slumped and Ezra hesitated before sending out Meloetta.

                "Did you seriously only have those two powerhouses to carry you through Sinnoh?" Ezra asked as Meloetta beat the ugly fish into submission. Tobias nodded before sending out a bidoof.

                "I'm quite curious as to how you've gotten your own legendary pokémon," Tobias said as Ezra's Manaphy washed the bidoof away.

                "Grew up around them," Ezra said as Tobias sent out a togetic, which Ezra countered with Lugia, who Aeroblasted the fairy into next week.

                "Interesting," Tobias said, sending out a buizel, who was promptly fried by Ezra's Zeraora.

                "And the winner is Ezra, who will be moving on to the semifinals!" the announcer declared as the crowd went wild, thoroughly both confused and impressed with the legendary pokémon shown. Ezra and Tobias shook hands, with the former promising to sit down with the latter after the tournament to swap stories before they went their separate ways.
                YT|dA|After the Ashes: Sasha's Story|Ailette's Story|Walking with Gods
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