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…"This is the place?  If you knew where it was, why didn't you come here sooner?"

Mayn sighed, "Because I wasn't sure where Taent was HIDING.  I've looked through here before.  He'd hidden so well that I hadn't found him…or he hadn't decided to use this place yet.  Either way, he's here now, waiting for us."

Grathiam frowned, "But when he left, he said you knew EXACTLY where he was hiding."

"I know.  I know.  We've fought in Dark Crater before.  That's what he meant.  I just hadn't known that this was his CURRENT hiding place.  He can move QUICKLY when he wants to."

The two of them hurried into the large cave system, both worried about what would happen.  Grathiam looked around as they made their way through the place, "Why is this cave system called Dark Crater?"

"The name is from the farthest point in here.  There's a massive crater that hit and buried itself so deep that magma flows in it."

"…wouldn't Magma Crater be a better name, then?"

"I would say so, but I'm not the one who first found the place.  I didn't get to name it.  Find the ones who DID."

"Alright, alright.  Don't get up at ME."

"…sorry.  I'm just nervous.  I haven't been able to take Taent down since he began…and I'm eager for this to END…"

Grathiam nodded, his troubled gaze turning into a scowl, "And he'd BETTER tell me where Kayli i…is…what the…KAYLI!!!!"  Grathiam rushed ahead, eyes wide.  That had been Kayli up ahead!  THAT HAD BEEN KAYLI UP AHEAD!!  He pushed himself as hard as he could, "KAYLI!  IT'S GRATHIAM!  KAYLI!!!!!!"  Mayn was following close behind him, worried over something.

They caught up to Kayli, but her back was turned to them.  She turned around with a scowl, her eyes dark, "…YOU…"

Grathiam flinched at the new gaze, "K…Kayli?  Kayli, a…are you…Kayli, it's me.  It's Grathiam."  He fished out the water stone he'd been carrying this whole time, "Kayli, I…I was going to—GAH!!"  He ducked out of the way as she shot a blast of ice at him.  Grathiam got up, "I don't want to FIGHT you, Kayli!  Wake up!  It's me!  It's GRATHIAM!  You wrote you LOVED me in the cave floor back home!  I love you, too!  Please listen!  I was going to ask you to m—AUGH!!!"  He jumped again as she shot at him once more.

Mayn shook her head.  She knew that handiwork.  She got over to Grathiam, "We'll have to knock her out.  I won't be able to wake her PROPERLY if she's going to fight us like this.  I—UGH!!!!"  She winced and looked back to see a grovyle standing beside Kayli, snarling at her and with the same darkened eyes.

Grathiam's eyes were WIDE, "K…KAIL?!  You're ALIVE!!!!"

"And you're DEAD."  He growled.

Grathiam scowled and got up again, looking at Mayn, "I…I can't fight Kayli.  I need you to take her on.  I'll deal with Kail."

"…very well."

Grathiam jumped at Kail, shooting a blast of fire right at his head.  He JUST missed, but a tiny bit of flame hit the leaf on Kail's head.  His eyes widened and he grabbed at it, panicking, "FIRE!  FIREFIREFIREFIREFIRE!!!!  PUT IT OUT!!!!  SOMEONE PUT IT OUT ALREADY!!!!"

Kayli snorted and HIT Kail, flattening him on the ground, "Better, you dimwit?"

"…" Kail felt his head, "…the fire's out.  Yeah."  He glared at Grathiam, "Believe me, you're gonna pay for thaaaAUUUGH!!!!"  THIS time, Grathiam had hit him square on with an INTENSE blast of fire.  It was strong enough that Kail went down with that single hit.

Mayn scowled and shot out a blast of…energy.  It hit Kayli's head so hard that she became dazed, her vision swirling in front of her.  Mayn took advantage of her momentary confusion and hit her again with that blast.  Four of them made Kayli fall.

Once they were both down, Mayn sighed, "Bring Kail close so I can work on them both at once."  When they were close, she started to glow.  Grathiam stepped back to watch her glow brighten more and more…untilshe FLASHED.  The flash died off, and Grathiam's two friends woke up, their eyes back to normal.

Kail groaned, "Ow…my HEAD.  What…I remember…ice."

Kayli groaned as well, "Someone struck me and…everything went BLACK.  Where…where am I?"

Grathiam grabbed Kayli's neck in a tight hug, smiling wide as he whispered, "I love you, too, Kayli."

She blinked and looked down at him, "Grathiam?!  Grathiam, you…what did you say?"

Grathiam just smiled and held out his water stone toward her, "Kayli…I know this is sudden…especially after what just happened to you, but…I've been working so hard just trying to FIND you…so I need to ask now, before something else happens.  Kayli…will you marry me?"

Kayli's eyes went absolutely WIDE  She wrapped when she could of her neck around Grathiam's entire body, smiling, "YES!  Yes, I…I will."

Mayn slid up beside Kail, talking quietly, "Isn't that sweet?"

Kail chuckled, "Yeesh.  Not my style…but yeah.  It is.  I—hey wait!  Who're you?!"

She chuckled, "My name is Mayn.  Grathiam just helped me free the two of you from some nightmares that were making you fight against us.  A dark pokemon named Taent took over your mind."

Kail growled, "…Taent I remember.  I was chasing him down after I found out he was the reason Telrick's Tower had BEGUN collapsing."

Mayn smiled, "Tell me, Kail…is the future bright?"

"So far?  Yes.  Very much so."  He smiled, "And once this is over, I'm asking Marrim the same question Grathiam just asked Kayli.  NOT like he did, though.  I'm not that sickeningly sweet."

Mayn shrugged, "I kind of like it."

"…wait.  You do?"  Kail frowned, "…um…do MOST women?"

"Heh.  Marrim, whoever she is, will appreciate you being yourself more than any sort of SHOW, Kail."

"…I guess.  I—hey, how do you know my name?"

"Grathiam shouted it during the fight, and I've known you and Gareth came from the future for a while now."

"You know Gareth?  Is he here?  I've been meaning to join up with him again."

She sighed, "We're on our way looking for him.  He leapt into a portal after Taent when Taent left.  I'm worried he might be under that darkrai's influence already."

"Wait…Taent could have Gareth under his control?!"

"Yes.  Easily."

"That's it.  I'm coming with you."



The new quartet continued along…mostly following Mayn since she had the most experience with this place.  They came to a large clearing but…it had a wall of ICE in the center.  In the middle of that wall of ice was…Gareth.  He was frozen solid.

Kayli winced, "I…I can get him out safely.  Just give me a moment.  She went up to the wall of ice and…began to SING.  Every time she hit a specific pitch, a different spot of the ice would crack…until the whole thing looked ready to fall at a single touch.  She stopped singing and leaned forward, touching it with her nose.  The ice turned into SNOW and exploded in a flurry that blinded everyone for a moment.  While they were blinded, Kayli screamed.

Grathiam's eyes were wide, "KAYLI!!!!"

The snow settled to show Gareth with the same darkened eyes…and Kayli unconscious at his feet.  He grinned, showing them a bit of her FLESH in his teeth.  It was only a little, but the sight made Grathiam get HYSTERICAL.  Kail slapped his cheek with a glare, "Gareth's not himself.  Now help me knock him out!"

Grathiam winced, but this is GARETH we're talking about!  I can't fight h—"

"He's gonna knock you out and make you one of Taent's slaves!  You want that?!  This is to FREE HIM!"  He took a fighting stance, glaring at Gareth, "You think I WANT to fight him?  He's my partner too.  We HAVE to."

Mayn frowned, "I'll need the two of you to deal with him.  Kayli's almost enveloped in another nightmare.  If I don't tend to her, we'll have two pokemon out to get us again."

Grathiam winced, but nodded, "Alright.  Just make sure she's safe."  He stepped up beside Kail.

Gareth laughed, "Oh, this is gonna be FUN!  Maybe now I'll get a DECENT fight!  One weakling and one COWARD.  Heh.  Look at you two.  So pathetic.  I can't believe I was ever partnered to EITHER of you."

Kail snarled, "I know it's the nightmare talking, Gareth, not you!  You can FIGHT it!"  He lashed out, sending a barrage of razor sharp leaves at Gareth.  Gareth took the blow and looked himself over, grinning wider at the cuts he now had.

"Heh…that tickled.  MY turn."  He breathed in and heaved out a huge amount of water at Grathiam, who couldn't dodge it in time.  He shouted out, trying to dive to the si—"UGH!"  Kail SHOVEd him out of the way and took the blow instead, snarling.  Gareth grinned, "The weakling took the coward's hit.  Touching.  Let's see how you like THIS."  And he shot a chunk of ICE at Kail.
Grathiam bolte upright and heaved a fireball at the ice, hitting it and making it explode before it could reach Kail.  The two nodded to each other and SHOT for Gareth, needing to close the distance in HOPES of cutting down his attacks.  Kail grinned and dove, sliding into and under the ground for a split second, only to come up again right in FRONT of Gareth an tackled him, shoving him against the ground.

Grathiam followed up with as strong a headbutt as he could muster, ramming Gareth into a WALL.

He still didn't faint.  Gareth gingerly got back up, glaring at them both, "You…think…that's going to beat me?  I won't go down like tha—UGH!"  He fell as a chunk of ice crashed into his skull…and he stayed down.  Grathiam and Kail glanced over to see Kayli standing up again, glaring at Gareth.

Mayn hurried up to Gareth and went to work on him the same way she'd freed Kail and Kayli.

When he woke, was GROGGY, "Ugh…what…what happened.  That tunnel was so disorienting…I…I got dizzy the moment I left…and then…black."  He looked up, "Oh…Grathiam?  You made it through too?  I hadn't noticed before…"

Kail snickered and put his hand on Gareth's shoulder, "Hey partner."

Gareth blinked, eyes widening, "K…KAIL!?  KAIL!  You're alive!"  He laughed and hugged Kail for a second, "How?!  You went back to the future to keep Taerin busy while Grathiam and I finished saving the Tower!  The only reason I survived is because Telrick MET me!  How did you—"

"Telrick in the future.  I actually had to FIGHT him, Gareth.  I'll tell you all about it when we have some free time.  Right now we have to get to Taent and STOP him."

Gareth blinked, nodding, "…right.  Taent.  He's the reason Kayli tried to attack m…Kayli?"

She smiled, "I'm better now.  Mayn helped me."

"…oh."  He looked at Grathiam, "Does that mean we won?"

Grathiam shook his head, "No, but it means we're gonna have a MUCH better chance of it now!  Come on.  Taent can't be much farther."



"…of course you'd free them first.  You know something, Gareth?  I think I despise you the most."

Gareth snarled, "I'm not to fond of YOU, either.  You're the reason TIME was going out of control, now you're messing with SPACE.  What's your DEAL?!  You'd KILL millions just to see this world of darkness happen!"

Taent shrugged, "I intend to live in a world where I will be POWERFUL.  If it wasn't for you, I'd have that by now.  Even when you went back in time to save Telrick, I hated you.  You DO remember that trip, don't you, Gareth?"  He smiled.

Gareth nodded, scowling harder, "You BET I do.  We would have had a clean shot if you hadn't been around. I wouldn't have lost my memory."

Taent shook his head, "Correction.  If you hadn't shielded Kail, you wouldn't have lost your memory.  It would have worked so well…"

Grathiam frowned, "What?"

Kail turned to him tapping his shoulder to get his attention, "The first time Gareth and I went back, Taent was the reason we fouled up.  He attacked us as we jumped through…it damaged the portal we were using, and Gareth shielded me from the attack.  He should have DIED from it, but His will to live was so strong that even when I woke up and he wasn't with me, I knew he was still alive somewhere.  That attack, with the portal getting damaged, is probably what turned him into the totodile he is right now."

Gareth snorted, stepping ahead, "You're DONE, Taent.  Give up.  You can't take on five at once."

"I don't have to."  He smiled.  The area went dark, then relit, showing several more pokemon surrounding them, "You think I'm stupid enough to face you alone?!  Enjoy your deaaauuugh!!!  You little MONSTER!"  He tore the massive thorn from his shoulder, glaring at Gareth, "I'm going to kill you MYSELF for that.  I—AUGH!!"  He tore another thorn from his other shoulder, and his eyes flashed, "FINE!  SLEEP!"  Grathiam shoved Gareth to the side and took the brunt, smiling at Gareth.

"He won't get you as long as I'm around."  The attack had left Grathiam feeling dizzy, but he was still awake.

Gareth nodded, but pushed Grathiam back, "Please.  He's MINE."  He chucked a large rock at Taent, but THIS one Taent dodged.  He shouted out angrily and rushed them, and Gareth met him head on

Taent had his hands outstretched, and brought them down on Gareth the moment they were close enough.  Gareth reeled back from the strike, but held his ground, firing off a column of water to retaliate.  Taent scowled and shook the water off, running at Gareth again, but he was blinded an instant later by a thick screen of smoke.  Gareth looked over at Grathiam and nodded.  Gareth and Kail rushed forward, Kail diving into the ground with his favourite move while Taent was blinded.  Kail CRASHED into Taent's side, sending the dark pokemon to the ground with a hard grunt.  Gareth closed the rest of the distance and SLAMMED into Taent, sending him back further.  He jumped up and shot another blast of water at Taent, grinning when the blast shoved him up against a wall.  He chanced a glance back at his friends, and found them doing just fine with who they were up against.  Half of them were stuck in a nightmare, and Mayn brought herself up to the task, dealing with two of them straight off.  Those two noticed what was going on and just FLED.

Gareth looked back at Taent, who was starting to pick himself up.  Gareth heaved another thorn at Taent, then another, effectively pinning the darkrai to the WALL.  He blasted Taent with more water, and smiled as Taent finally went LIMP.

He'd lost.  It didn't take long for his friends to finish the rest of the pokemon, and Mayn flashed as she got closer, "There.  He shouldn't be able to press his influence on ANYONE else now."

Taent stirred, opening his eyes.  They went red for a split second, and he shouted out HARD.  The sound actually blew everyone back for a moment, giving Taent enough time to free himself.  But he was WEAK.  He knew it.  He glared at them, "You think you've won?  You think that's IT for me?!  You're all FOOLS."  A portal opened behind him, and he smiled, "I failed here, so I'll just try ANOTHER time period, where none of you exist any longer."  He took a step back, in pain…everyone tried to rush him, but he was already too close.  He reached for the portal.  All…all he had to do was TOUCH it, and he'd be free.

A deafening roar and a blast SHOVED him to the side.  He managed to JUST stay upright and looked to see the palkia he'd tricked stomping toward him.  Taent's eyes widened and he pushed himself, reaching for the portal again, "I…I won't…be…st…stopped."

Another roar, and Taent suddenly found himself frozen in place.  He fought the strange paralysis and managed to look to the side.  TELRICK.  Both were angry and heading for him.  He glanced back and saw Gareth and his friends basically upon him.  With one last desperate shout, Taent summoned enough strength to free himself of Telrick's trap and glared at everyone, "I…will…WIN!"  He managed to touch the port—"AAAAUAUUUUAAGHH!!!!"  A blast from Telrick AND his brother enveloped Taent, his body slowly getting pulled into the portal.  He was out in an instant, and…started to change.  Everyone watched in amazement as he started to take the form of a…a boy.  A human boy

Gareth's eyes nearly bulged at the sight.  Not because of the transformation, but because of WHO Taent was becoming…  Taent slid through the rest of the way, and portal collapsed on itself.

Grathiam just…stood there.  He was STUNNED, "Did…did Taent just…"

Telrick nodded, "He did.  I…I'm as shocked as you are."

Kail shrugged, "Well…when you think about it, it KIND of makes sense.  Taent did the exact same thing to Gareth, and he was a human that became a pokemon because of it."

Gareth looked at Kail, "You…you didn't SEE it…did you?"

Kail frowned, "See what?  He turned into a human.  Why?"

Gareth started to shake, needing to sit down, "B…because he…he turned…into…ME.  ME.  The human version of ME!!!!  I recognized him…I recognized MYSELF as a boy!  I…I'm TAENT?!  I can't be…that…no.  I can't…"

Telrick walked up to him and nudged him slightly, "Let me ask you something, GARETH.  Do you have any intention of carrying on Taent's work?"

"No!  Of course not!  If…if I did, I wouldn't have tried so hard to STOP him!"

Telrick's brother nodded, "Then I don't think you have anything to worry about.  You're who YOU are.  And I only see a good friend."  Grathiam smiled down at him.

The charmander quietly approached Gareth, "Yeah.  Besides, even IF you were Taent, this just means you got yourself a second chance, right?"

"…um…third, I think.  I was Taent…who got turned into human me…who got turned into ME.  Yeah.  This'd be my third."

Telrick smiled at something, but kept quiet.  He looked to Mayn, "Your quest is ended, Mayn.  What will you do now?"

She frowned, "I…don't know.  My entire life has been to STOP Taent…I never thought past what I would do if I succeeded."

Telrick's grin widened, "Why not stay in the Hidden Land with me?  It is a resting place for those who can travel time's pathways…and that reminds me."  He turned to Kail, "You have a friend WAITING for you in my Tower.  A celebi.  Marrim."

Kail's eyes widened, "She…she's…oh CRUD!"  He grimaced, "I gotta find a jewel to give to her!"

Grathiam—the CHARMANDER, chuckled, "Come back to Treasure Town with us.  I bet Curtis and Nathan have something in stock for you.  You asking her?"

"You'd better believe it."

Telrick paused for a long while, "…I'm going to miss having you around, Kayli."

Grathiam smiled at Telrick, "Actually, you won't.  If…I could live in the Hidden Land?"

Telrick frowned, "…I don't think that would be wise, little one.  Kayli has lived a LONG time…and I'm sure she would appreciate being released from her duties.  If I were to accept your offer, I would still have to perform the rite of passage…something I can do for someone who hasn't found someone to spend their days with, and that will help make sure they stay as loyal to me as Kayli has been."  He turned to Kayli, "What do you say?  Would you like a break?"

She laughed, "I'd be grateful, Master Telrick."

"Good.  Go home with your new family.  I can take care of the rest.  Kail?  You should come with me to see Marri—oh!  Right.  You need that stone, first.  Kayli?  Can you manage one last trip?"

She nodded, grinning, "I certainly can."
Everything you see is based off the game, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon-Explorers of Sky. I don't own any of it except the names I gave the characters. ^__^
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