Chapter 23: Taunts and Tales and Teleportation
The State's Eastern Coast – Jinia Town
The first thing Alex had done on his way south from his subtle return to his Alma mater was return home, to show Eric the cache of documents their granduncle had found on the Arceans. Once he'd read through several, including those detailing what had happened to Elaine, Eric understood his brother's disdain for the group, and admitted he'd been skeptical about what Alex had told him a few days earlier about Norstad. It seemed like something out of a story, a cult that powerful, led by a man so blatantly evil, but he couldn't deny hard evidence when it was right in front of him. He still didn't buy into that bit about Thor though.
He'd offered to go to Fornia as well, but Alex had convinced him to stay in Unova, to study, and run the lab instead. He also gave him a method of contacting Tao, and once he'd announced that the Redwood Lab was open again, something strange had happened. Applications from potential aides, who were really just students roughly Eric's age, came flooding in. Apparently, working at the lab of a Champion was a big deal, even if said Champion wasn't really running it. In fact, many people had started moving to Derrion Town, and the surrounding areas.
Curiosity about their newest defender brought them, but they stayed for the gorgeous views, and clean air. Alex headed south again once he'd said his farewells to his family after a last home-cooked meal, and before he left his home region, he found Tao, who was helping to repair New Tork City, resting atop the Empire building, it was the tallest in the city, and gave a decent view of most of the Unova region. From up there, the damage from the 'civil war' became easier to see. It had been extensive, and expensive. Saboteurs were also still an issue, as what few Arceans remained refused to give up on their Prophet's dream of bringing New Tork down.
Aside from that however, Tao had things well under control. Rosa and Nate were busy hunting the cabal down, and the sly dragon had informed his trainer that he'd ordered them to do so together because, once upon a time, he had helped Unovans find love, as well as balance. He had sensed that hunting the remaining Arceans would bring those two closer together. Hearing that from Tao had caused Alex to laugh for a full minute. Not just because after extensive discussion, Alex knew he had no conception whatsoever of what instinctual drive sparked most relationships, but because many Unovans had been waiting for that exact development. It was obvious to anyone that saw them together, except them, apparently. Hilda, he'd been told, had remained at the Plateau, and had a winning streak that was getting to be as long as his own. He'd rolled his eyes at that. He did actually lose battles. Sometimes. But never a six on six.
He asked the dragon what his infinite wisdom said about his own romantic entanglement, but the First Dragon refused to answer. That, was when Alex proposed a trade of information. He claimed to know why Tao was having such a hard time remembering the so-called 'dragon tongue', despite having access to Alex's knowledge of it, and also claimed he could solve said problem. In return for wisdom.
The dragon could easily tell when Alex was lying, but he'd agreed after a long few moments regardless. In this case, Alex wasn't bluffing. There was a benefit to being part psychic type, and sometimes, even Legendary Dragons needed an extra pair of eyes to see what their own could not. Through their mental connection, Alex had sensed a block on what he assumed was Tao's speech center, buried deep in his brain, and locked by…something. He also sensed his new Voice could remove said block, and make the dragon even stronger. Had it been any other Legendary, he might've paused, but the last Pokémon he worried about having more power was Tao. He had always ruled fairly. There was a reason Arceus had placed him in charge of an entire continent.
Instead of shouting, Alex whispered a series of dragon-words into the ear slit of his white scaled friend, words relating to memory, blockage, and the recovering of such things. For a moment, the dragon's eyes turned half white, and half black, before swirling into a familiar circular pattern, and regaining their pure golden color. The dragon thanked his trainer, as that particular memory block had been a result of being torn in three parts for thousands of years. It had been nagging at him subconsciously for ages, but he simply hadn't noticed the block.
He also quickly demonstrated that, while Alex may have had the Voice of a dragon, the First Dragon's would always be superior. He did more with one word than Alex ever could, but then, that was par for the course with Legendary Pokémon. That word had been 'Yol', and the torrent of fire Tao shot into the air around them burned hotter than any Flamethrower.
What exactly he remembered of the past, he did not say. Instead, he addressed the knowledge Alex had wanted in regard to his own relationship. His response was thus: "To understand how I guide lovers to each other, you must first dismiss the fanciful nonsense your species has created around the entire institution. There is no such thing as a 'soul-mate'. The concept of 'souls' is an ancient, outdated, and entirely human one. The body and mind are always connected, not separate, and what affects one will affect the other. This is how all of existence functions. In Balance. This is why maintaining it is so important. Death. Un-death. Immortality." He grinned knowingly at his trainer, who rolled his eyes. "They all affect the body and mind in different ways. The reality of my ability is simple. I use my Divine Sight to gaze into the…core…of a human, and then use my psychic abilities to divine something about their strongest, and closest, potential match. Then, I lead them to each other. The result is usually positive. But there are always exceptions. Sometimes, running across another strong match can tear the first apart."
He leaned down to his trainer, his massive golden eye towering over him as his soothing psychic baritone thundered in his skull. "You will be hard pressed to find a better match than that of fire and dragon. Though she may not have the typing, yours is as fiery a human as I've ever seen. She burns brightest in your presence, and you in turn are fueled by hers. It is a rare match. Cherish it, for it will not come twice."
Alex pondered the dragon's words, and then finally bowed, thanking him for his insight. Evidently his opinion of Jessica Gladstone had risen during their training in his home dimension. It's not that he wasn't glad, he was more curious as to how he hadn't noticed, and then, slowly, he recalled the long hours he'd spent focused on perfecting his martial arts forms while his love and Tao had been off in the rock garden behind the temple. He'd assumed they were meditating, but evidently, they'd talked as well. It hadn't seemed strange, as the dragon had often isolated them from each other when teaching.
Once Alex departed from the building, he continued on his way south, riding on Shruikan, who had never seen their home continent from the air. Not with his own eyes, anyways. The eastern coast of the States was, in a word, gorgeous. New Tork was not the only metropolis on the way south, but Alex had no intention of going near a city. He got enough challenges from flying trainers as it was. Something as unique as a Black Salamence would be mobbed in a foreign city. In Unova, the locals had quickly learned to associate the massive dragon with the Champion who rode on his back, clad in white. While many still wanted battles, far more often he was asked for autographs, or given Holociever numbers so he could set up future battles.
Jinia Town was the largest town on the eastern coast, and the last one of significance before the Swamp. Alex hadn't stopped there last time, as he'd been in a rush, but this time, he decided to pay a visit. He rode in atop Leo however, though that didn't really do much to stay subtle. His golden-furred Luxray attracted almost as much attention as his giant black dragon. They stayed at the Pokémon Center that night, before heading further south towards the grassy plains north of the Swamp in the morning.
He soon discovered that he was not the only returning trainer who wanted to continue south the next day. There were tons of other trainers, some he knew from the last time he'd been down here. They had made it to the Sage. The vast majority however, had not, and were new trainers who had been invited due to their skill, and not their station as Champion. Evidently, Oranguru had lowered the standards one had to meet to attempt to cross into the Swamp.
Not only that, but Alex soon discovered, over a bowl of Leaf with several other Champions, that these new trainers were all given guides of some sort to the Sage himself, rather than wandering the Swamp aimlessly until they had a vision, or went mad from having too many. Eventually, Alex had, at the behest of the other primarily grass type Champions, singled out a girl, clearly from Unova, and used his 'natural charisma' to find out why she was here. Said charisma consisted of 'Hey', and the question 'What brings you down here?' He was clearly a wordsmith.
It was clear she recognized him, and she even claimed that they'd battled once, but after a few hundred road battles, the faces start to blur. She didn't seem to mind his lack of recognition, and answered his blunt question about her purpose for being here, claiming that she had come to learn from the Sage. He was half tempted to ask why she hadn't gone to Tao instead, but he had a feeling that was none of his business, and wisely avoided prying.
The returning trainees shared a look once Alex explained what he'd heard, and a few were understandably irritated. Getting to the Sage in the first place had been difficult for all of them, many had experienced their own personal hell as they'd relived past traumatic events, and come through them, again, unscathed. But now these new trainers, not even Champions, were getting a free pass to an island that had been cramped with a few hundred humans. Now, there would likely be thousands.
They decided to head out at midnight, while the newbies slept, and found they weren't the only Champions with that idea. The returning students had figured space would be limited, and Arceus only knew how many had already reached the Sage. By the time their mixed group of flying types reached the Swamp's edge, the first light of dawn was filling the sky. Then, they saw her.
The purple-haired woman from their last exam was standing on the open plains before the Swamp, arms crossed, her Dragonite by her side. She waved down the group of twenty or so Champions, and once they landed, she began explaining what they'd evidently missed in the two months they'd been gone.
"I know many of you may have mixed feelings about these newcomers," she began, eyeing those who nodded at her words. Alex remained impassive, stone-faced. This woman had acted like a sifter before, separating the skilled from the unworthy. He had no doubt she was doing the same thing now. "Understand that they are here because they wish to learn from the Sage, and nothing else. They will not be competing to become his top student, though they have that option, many have chosen to avoid potential death, and simply be guided to the Sage."
She looked ready to say more, but a familiar sound cut her off as a helicopter, blades whirring away with obnoxiously loud noise and wind, set down beside the group of Champions. They collectively groaned as they saw the symbol on the side of the machine, and Alex looked down, embarrassed. There was only one news network global enough to be interested in a story in this place. Naturally, they had a HQ in one of the largest tech-savvy cities on the planet. New Tork.
Thankfully, it wasn't John Crimson who stepped out of the chopper, but rather a woman, blonde hair, curves in all the right places. The men amongst the group eyed her openly. Some looked away quickly, fighting their instincts. Others did not. Alex just chuckled, as he recognized the woman who'd been summoned by Joey after his first attempt at an interview. He couldn't really blame the others for staring, her cleavage remained glorious, but he'd already developed an immunity. Praise Arceus.
The purple haired woman crossed her arms, and glared at the blonde. "We've already had this discussion. No."
The blonde frowned, and then turned her gaze to the crowd of trainers, several of whom looked ready and able to 'assist' her in whatever way they could. A familiar feeling of 'oh shit' tingled up Alex's spine as he saw her eyes catch his hat, and then his face. She smiled, and waved obviously. "Champion! Alex Redwood! Remember me?" The group slooowly turned to look at the white and black clad trainer as Alex moved up to the two women.
The examiner eyed him with a severe look. "You know this…floozy?"
Alex gave the blonde a nod, and then met the examiner's sharp gaze. He had no earthly idea what a 'floozy' was, but knew a derogatory term when he heard one. "I do. She's from Unova. In fact, if it wasn't for her and her cameraman, I might never have run into Ghetsis at the PNN, Reshiram and Kyurem wouldn't have been freed, and Tao would not have been reunited."
The cameraman in question was, of course, Joey who had evidently stopped training at the Dragonspiral tower, and was now outfitted with a camera on his shoulder. His Raticate had a similar device strapped to its back. The symbol of balance remained on his t-shirt, and his shorts, as always, remained the same. He grinned, and waved over-excitedly at Alex as he saw him. Alex waved back, smirking. He knew how badly Joey was crushing on his coworker. Evidently Tao had guided him, as well.
The purple-haired proctor looked between the three of them, and then settled on Alex. That same nervous feeling returned. He had no idea why this woman always put him on edge. "They want access to the Sage, so they can…'document' his training with their devices."
At that, Alex frowned. The last thing they needed at the compound was the distraction of being on live TV. Especially with so many new, untrained recruits. He turned to the blonde then, and met her gaze evenly. "Go home, Haley. I'll give you a story when I come back, but this…this place isn't for the modern world. There's no PokéMart in there. It's literally just a Swamp. A girl like you wouldn't last five minutes in there. The Krokoroks here are human eaters."
"And this clearly dangerous Swamp is taking in thousands of skilled trainers." Haley countered, "The world has a right to know where their loved ones are disappearing to."
Alex nodded. "It does. I agree, but this is something to learn about after the training is done. Not during it. You have my word, exclusive interview. With you, not John Crimson. But only after we're done in here. It could take a while, though, so you should go home, and find a better story. Like where the Swords of Justice have run off to."
She raised a manicured brow at him. "What, they've disappeared?"
He raised a not-so-well-kept brow at her. "Nobody has seen them since that Beheeyem invasion fiasco. Anywhere. They're not around Unova. If you really want to give people a story, find out where they've gone. We could've used their aid this year, no?"
The blonde nodded, sighed, and then snapped her fingers. "Joey, we're going home." She glanced back at Alex as she left, and he resisted watching anything but the back of her head. The view was, of course, glorious, but he had never been an 'ass man' as his fellow males so eloquently put it. "You'd better keep your word, Champion."
"When have I ever not?" Alex said as the chopper began taking off again, and headed north. He sighed. "Bloody reporters…"
"They're not the only ones to try to enter." The woman said, once they could hear themselves think. "But I do appreciate you getting rid of them. They've been pestering me for two weeks."
"You were about to tell us something else…?" Alex prompted, grinning.
The purple haired woman brought her plain wooden staff down towards his head. By pure instinct, he caught it, and she seemed genuinely impressed. "Not bad. You've improved."
Alex smirked. "I try."
The staff spun with a blur, and he grunted as it slammed into his stomach. He'd seen it coming, but he wasn't nearly fast enough to block it. He was however, fast enough to tighten his abdominals to take the hit. It had moved past his guard far too easily. "Do. Or do not." The woman said, smirking down at him.
"There is no try…" The Champions groaned, in unison. It was a lesson Oranguru had drilled into all of them. Painfully.
"Right, listen up!" She began again, pushing Alex back to the front of the crowd. "Things are a lot different this time around. For you veteran disciples, you have the chance to gain access to the air space over the Swamp." The trainers shared a look. More than a few had been shot down by absurdly powerful Hyper Beams because they'd tried flying. "Don't worry, our snipers know who to target, and who to let pass…of course, this gift does not come free." She grinned down at them, and Alex noticed it was similar in many ways to the way Leo grinned at his prey before pouncing. He felt the large cat's ball hum on his belt. Evidently that was a compliment.
"To gain access to flight in the Swamp, your task is very simple." The woman gestured to her Dragonite. "Beat him, and you may fly with the best." The Champions murmured again. This woman had been absent during their first stay here, but the few times she had appeared, usually after shooting down a student breaking the 'no flying' rule, she'd let her Dragonite battle some of the more eager Champions with their own dragons.
While the absurdly proportioned dragon looked silly, its power had been monstrous. On the level of the Sage, or at least very close to it. It had taken down renowned dragon types with a single blow, usually a Dragon Claw. Naturally, this had made everyone even more uneasy in her presence. Alex stepped forward, smirking. "Challenge accepted. One on one?"
The purple haired woman grinned. "No substitutions. Will you be using your Charizard? Or perhaps that lumbering black beast you rode in on?" Blaze and Shruikan immediately began arguing, via their telepathic link, over who would fight the Dragonite. Blaze had seen it first, but Shruikan needed the battle experience. They were silenced and shared their surprise with the examiner as Leo sprang forth from his ball, and snarled at the Dragonite.
The woman raised both eyebrows, and walked towards the Luxray, who was sparking with electricity already. "I didn't know you had such a…fierce warrior on your team…oooh…his eyes are…uncannily similar to yours, actually." She said, looking up at Alex, comparing the two.
Alex smirked, and his normally blue eyes turned red and gold. "They are, aren't they? I like his colors, too. Black and gold just…it just works."
The look of awe at his Luxray's coloring faded, but the smirk remained. It was his turn to unnerve her with his gaze, and though she'd never admit it, a chill went up her spine. Those eyes had fire in them. "Dragonite. Go." She gave the command once she returned to her side of the imaginary field they were using. There would be no 'ring outs' here.
Leo's form had begun to glow as she'd walked back, and the two fliers on their team protested. Leo had fought Kurama after all, and this Dragonite deserved to face a dragon. Leo roared as his saber-toothed Mega Form crouched down into a battle stance. "He who strikes first gets the meal…" Leo's mental voice growled to the other two. Alex chuckled, and his two overeager battlers quieted. It was too late to change now.
Seeing his opponent had mega evolved, the Dragonite glanced at his trainer. She shook her head. Alex fought down his disappointment. He hadn't seen a Dragonite's Mega Form, and Dragonium crystals were exceedingly rare. If anyone had one though, it would be a trainer like this. He smirked at her. "Not a wise choice. Leo's Mega Form is…deadly."
The purple woman rolled her eyes. "You'll excuse me if I'm not intimidated. He may have a unique color, but I'll bet he's spent most of his life fighting flying and water types. He's never faced down a Dragonite." Alex just shook his head. A Black Salamence was, in his opinion at least, far deadlier than a Dragonite, and Leo often sparred with Shruikan.
Leo snarled at the woman's words, and she raised a brow. His new form's mane was, unlike his normal one, sleeker, though it extended under his jaw as well, not unlike a Pyroar's. Electricity shot through it, and it flared out. There was, in truth, a reason Alex had let his proud cat take the lead again. None of his team were as good at night battling, and though the sun was coming, the night was still their ally.
The Dragonite assumed the battle was on, and launched forward, its fists encased in fire and lightning, one claw for each. Alex frowned, as Leo dodged the fire one. The electric claw hit, and he snarled in surprise and pain. Usually such attacks didn't damage him much, but then his trainer realized, these weren't actually punches. Fire and electric type energy had covered the dragon's true attack, Dragon Claw.
He saw the purple haired woman moving her mouth, but no sound came out. The electric claw turned to ice, and he swore as he and Leo reached the same conclusion. She knew the dragon tongue. Normally, he didn't use it in battles, as it put a target on his back, and was unfair against trainers who couldn't power their partners up with their Voice. He did much the same with telepathy, though he kept their battle strategy silent, only shouting moves verbally.
He whispered his own words, and the sky darkened again, as dark, ominous clouds rolled in from seemingly nowhere. His Luxray grinned, and melted into the much heavier shadows as an Ice Claw sliced through an apparition of his form. Then, like the night hunter he was, Leo came out of the shadows from seemingly nowhere, his massive saber-teeth wreathed in lightning. They sank into the Dragonite's bulky leg, and then the cat disappeared just as quickly.
The woman frowned, but said nothing about his tactics. As far as using the Voice went, augmenting one's Pokémon was more of a legitimate rule violation than changing the weather. Plenty of Pokémon did that anyways, just by appearing. Leo struck again, this time with his claws. He and Alex had discovered that his bones were actually quite good at conducting electricity, and since his claws had the same composition as his teeth, they'd figured out how to use an entirely new move. Thunder Claw, they called it. He was still getting the hang of it without mega evolving, but in this form, Leo had no issues controlling his elemental typing.
Three red gashes appeared across the Dragonite's chest, and it roared in frustration, then glanced back suddenly at its trainer. It nodded once, and Alex knew they were shifting strategies. "Careful, Leo…use a distance attack this time."
While Leo much preferred physical attacks, his special ones were just as strong. He agreed with his trainer, and did as ordered. He didn't take opponents this strong lightly. A bolt of Thunder arced down from the sky, and the Dragonite hissed as he dodged it. The searing plasma had struck his tail, but it was a minor wound.
Suddenly, the woman shifted her head, right towards where Leo was hiding. Alex had enough time to swear, and his lithe cat was already moving in the shadows, but they might as well have been in slow motion.
The Hyper Beam tore across the grassy plains they were battling upon, and hit Leo directly. He began panting, and winced. It had hit his bulky abdomen, namely the muscles, and while nothing was broken, he'd almost been taken out in a single hit.
The Dragonite was panting as well, and Leo took the chance to hit him directly with a Thunder. That was the downside of Hyper Beam. Monstrous power, but it left a Pokémon unable to dodge, or attack for a moment. In a battle like this, that was a dangerous strategy. Evidently, the examiner had expected it to take Leo down.
She reached the conclusion the same time he did. Alex could see it on her face. The next hit would decide this, and he knew what move she'd be using. "Hold your breath…" Alex said, watching her. "She found you somehow, last time. Shield your mind, and hold your breath. Don't move."
Moments passed, as the Dragonite waited, a smirk that mirrored his trainer's on his face. Alex growled softly. They were waiting for him to strike, but, they didn't know where Leo was. He hoped. "Use it." He finally said to his partner. They might as well try. Their spherical Taijitu attacks had stopped Hyper Beams before, after all.
Leo powered up the Electro Ball, and Alex's Electrium flared from within his pocket. Leo would provide the dark type energy, as in this form, it was a part of him. The examiner narrowed her eyes. She had once mentioned her distaste for 'Z-Moves', after thrashing a particularly cheeky trainee on one of the rare times she'd visited. He had a feeling she didn't consider his new variant any better.
Darkness formed one half of the condensed ball, and the Electrium flared, powering the other half. Leo swirled the energy in his maw, condensing it. That, more than anything, was what made these moves so deadly. Unfortunately, they were also a bit flashy.
The Dragonite leapt into the air and hovered there on his tiny wings as the Hyper Beam built in his own maw, and Alex suddenly had an idea. Leo growled, but affirmed that he could at least try to do it.
The sky boomed, and had the clouds not been overhead, Leo likely would've had a much harder time calling electricity down from it. Especially while he was trying to use a complicated move. The Thunder attack slammed into the Dragonite, and it gave a pitiable whine as the electricity struck its wings.
The Hyper Beam shot at Leo then, and seemed to make contact, but after the smoke cleared, only a crater remained. Leo appeared behind the Dragonite then, not dissimilar to the way a Greninja did. The dual-typed Electro Ball was smaller than he could make it if he had time to properly focus and prepare, but it was still quite powerful. Powerful enough to slam into the Dragonite, and send it spinning into the soft earth below them.
When the dust cleared, a crater with horizontal swirling patterns surrounded the fainted Dragonite, who was lying on the bottom. Leo landed, and let his Mega Form fade as he trotted towards his trainer. Alex fed him one of his preferred treats, and the large cat purred, then rolled on his back, expecting a belly rub.
Alex obliged him, grinning, even as he felt the static charge run up his arms, and make his hair flair out. It was curly, so often it was deceptive as to how much he actually had up there, but when he pet his electric lion, it became quite obvious. He needed a trim. "How did you keep dodging, anyways?" Alex said, speaking mentally to his large cat. "You looked like that Zoroark for a minute."
Leo didn't respond for some time, during which the purple-haired examiner healed her partner, and made her way towards the two. "I did what the fox did. Used dark energy to make an approximation of my image that's so lifelike, it can fool the eyes of a Luxray. I call them Shadow Clones."
He purred as Alex broke into a laugh. "No. Just…no. Call them Anything but that. Please." Leo rolled onto his stomach then, purred against his trainer, and tapped his ball's button with his nose. He rather enjoyed the inside of his Pokéball, and he'd earned a nap. And he was definitely still calling them Shadow Clones. Alex sighed.
Looking up, Alex noticed the examiner waiting for his focus to return, and once he stood, she spoke. "Well done…I admit, I didn't think you had a chance. Not without your Charizard, and a type advantage. You've improved while you've been away."
Alex nodded. "I got some training from Tao and my Rayquaza…who should be here by now…but yea. I went to Norstad, too. Saved the world. Met some Legendary Pokémon."
She gave him a smirk, and that feeling of nervousness returned. "So basically, the same thing every other Trainer did."
Alex grinned. "It really is the best job in the world."
A smile cracked the usually stone-faced woman, and she gestured to the Swamp behind her. "Fly on in. The others know not to shoot you down."
As he stood atop his massive dragon's head, holding onto a head-spike that was taller than him, he could see he needn't have worried about Shruikan being able to fit in the Swamp. The Swamp's trees were gargantuan. They might leave a dragon-sized hole in the canopy wherever they descended, but he should be fine battling.
The air above the Swamp was, surprisingly, full of trainers. Evidently, he really wasn't the only one who'd improved. The examiner had demonstrated early in their training that they had no chance against her, something the usually proud Champions had not accepted until they'd actually lost to her. Alex had been no exception. Now, it seemed, many had passed the test to earn the right to fly. He sensed many more trainers below, however.
There were likely some who assumed they could follow the guides to the Sage without attracting attention, but Alex knew better. He'd spent three months in this Swamp, and had learned early on that the Swamp did what the Swamp wanted. There were no shortcuts to the Sage, not for those who, like the other Champions, had come to try and become his honored student.
Shruikan, as always, gathered looks wherever he flew, and thanks to his size, they created a swathe through the many flying types in the air. More than a few looked irritated enough to attack, but a glare from the massive dragon usually made them think otherwise. Deciding to check on his 'home' first, Alex had the large dragon descend on the western side of the Sage's Isle, only to find that his home away from home was occupied.
Alex felt Arthur's irritation rising, and sighed. He also spotted Red, and figured he could let the second most well-known trainer in the world give a chance to explain why his Mewtwo was sitting atop his wrecked home. The cat-like psychic type was meditating in the midst of the ruins of their little 'house' that had been made of wood, bark, and no small number of vines. A psychic barrier encircled the meditating Pokémon, who had evidently landed on the roof, and then pushed it downwards, demolishing everything.
It was repairable, but it would never be the same. Hydrus was just as irritated as Arthur, and as the rest of his team noticed, all except Terra were genuinely mad that their sleeping space had been crushed by the Pokémon arrogant enough to claim to be as strong as Arceus. Red's Mewtwo was something of a legend, and after Blaine had passed on and given his ball to Red, the only trainer he trusted with Mewtwo, the psychic type had grown…vocal. And disobedient. There was a reason Red usually kept him in his ball.
As Shruikan landed, he snarled at the meditating Pokémon, who opened one eye, and then the other as he did a double take. "You're going to pay for crushing our home…" Shruikan's snarls only made the Mewtwo smirk, and Alex patted his horn, before leaping down.
"Peace, Shruikan…" he said, speaking to the dragon's mind. "This is Arthur's fight…"
The dragon grumbled, but spoke to their Gallade. "Make sure my words ring true, sword-hands."
As if in response, Arthur popped free of his ball. He'd been quiet on the trip south, and Alex knew Xerneas' words still rang in his head. The Sage knew who he was. Why had he not told him? That thought had steadily grown more and more irritating. Thus, now that they were finally here, he was ready for some answers, and was in no mood to deal with Red's Mewtwo.
Blue psychic power surrounded Arthur as he walked up to Mewtwo, who blinked in irritation as the Gallade marched through his barrier. Arthur stared him down, his face an inch from the genetic Pokémon's. "Get. Out. I won't ask nicely again." There was a low 'oooo' sound from the few trainers besides Red that had come to, evidently, see what the Mewtwo would do next.
Red came up to Alex who was already moving towards the two psychic types. "I'm sorry, he just…he randomly popped free of his Pokéball a few minutes ago and vanished. Then I found him here. I have no idea why he's doing this…"
The Mewtwo gave his trainer a brief, irritated glance. "This does not concern humans. Go away. This is between me, and the little prince. The Dragonslayer." Mewtwo smirked again, and before anyone could blink, he was suddenly sent flying to his right, and everyone else's left. Arthur's Night Slash was humming, and radiating dark type energy.
He glared towards the hole in the foliage the Mewtwo's body had caused. "I told you to get out." His right arm, the arm which had struck first, was shaking, and Alex blinked as he sensed his Gallade was dangerously close to losing himself to rage. Where had that come from?
Given that their telepathy was being broadcast audibly, everyone noticed how mad Arthur looked. Around the compound he'd been, by far, the most active of Alex's team. Sparring every day, with humans, Pokémon, anyone really. He'd trained relentlessly, as he had been convinced that he was their team's weak link at the time, due to his inability to mega evolve. That was no longer the case now, though.
This Mewtwo in particular had often mocked the Gallade, 'sparring' with him in his Mega Form, which gained the fighting type. Arthur had withstood the verbal abuse though, and kept his cool, something everyone had admired. The Gallade's noble demeanor and nickname had only irritated Mewtwo, and Arthur had become the focus of his irritation on a daily basis. It had been good training, but the harsh words often struck a nerve he had, until now, ignored.
The other Champions around the area, evidently brought by Red, or just curious to see what his Mewtwo was doing, all visibly flinched as the genetic Pokémon's voice rang through the area. "So…you've gotten proper training…" The two sides of the Mewtwo-sized hole in the foliage were wrenched apart with psychic power. His eyes were shining blue, and the Mewtwo approached Arthur slowly, levitating above the ground.
The gathered trainers, Alex included, winced again as the Mewtwo turned his gaze towards Red, lifted the human into the air, and forcibly drew a Mega Stone from his bag. They all knew which one it was. Mewtwo raised a finger, and Red's keystone activated the Mewtwonite X. He sighed contently, as he finished mega evolving, and flexed his larger muscles as he landed before the Gallade. "Go on then, little prince. Hit me with everything you have. Make your dead mother proud."
Arthur's eyes flared blue, and the area between the two psychic types began to break apart as each one called on their power. Sparks flared as their auras brushed against each other. Arthur did not mega evolve however, despite being given the chance to do so. Mewtwo's eyes narrowed, and he began to form a sphere between his palms. Arthur did the same, and his sword arms were glowing gold.
The gold light formed a similar orb between his palms as he condensed the energy into a sphere he knew his opponent could not match, and though Mewtwo's grew darker as he poured more of his awesome power into it, Arthur's only grew brighter.
The force of the psychic shout disrupted Mewtwo's concentration, but Arthur's held fast. He gave his opponent a grim smirk as the Aura Sphere Mewtwo had been forming vanished without his focus. The Foggy Swamp Sage descended through the canopy above them, staring down each fighter, before focusing on Arthur, who had kept the shining ball of power between his hands. "I said that's enough, Arthur…"
The Gallade seemed to growl, but then paused as a single, massive claw rested on his shoulder. Shruikan brought his head down to the Gallade's level, and met his gaze, nodding once. Arthur sighed, and let the energy go.
The Sage sighed, and pointed at Red, specifically one of his Pokéballs. A red light shot at the Mewtwo, who seemed ready to attack the Sage, but was forcibly returned to his ball instead. It shook violently, but the Sage's deep pinkish aura of psychic power kept it shut. He turned his gaze to the Gallade, and his trainer.
"You two. Come with me."
Alex gave a nod, and bowed, but the Sage had vanished with what he assumed was Teleport. He let the rest of his team out of their balls, and then turned to Red. "They're going to start reconstructing my home. Help them out, if you can, hmm?" He gestured to his wrecked hovel. "This is partly your fault." Red simply nodded, keeping the brim of his hat covering his face.
Arthur gave Red a pat on the shoulder before following Alex. "Know that I blame your Mewtwo for this. I know you wouldn't do something like this with no provocation. You're a good trainer. One of the best, in fact. Many have failed to tame a Mewtwo. Don't let this incident keep you from trying. You'll reach him…eventually." Red met the Gallade's gaze for a moment, and then nodded.
The walk to the Sage's chamber would take several minutes, and Alex spoke quietly to his Gallade as they moved. "Are you okay? I've never seen you that angry…"
The Gallade flinched, a frown on his usually happy face. "I…I just…I have no excuse. I lost control, for a moment…I let his words get to me…"
Alex stopped, and faced his Gallade, putting a hand on each shoulder. "Anyone would have. I know how much you liked meditating in your room, and I know my own emotional turmoil hasn't helped with yours."
Arthur looked up, at that. "That's no-"
Alex cut him off. "We've had a rough week, my friend. Focus on the positive. Nobody got hurt, and you kept your head, in the end. Which is good because that attack, which was incredibly cool, would've seriously hurt an Oranguru."
Arthur looked down again, and sighed. "I don't know what it was…I just used Sacred Sword and pooled the energy…"
Alex grinned. He'd thought that's what had happened. "We'll work on it. Now let's go."
The Sage's compound was, they realized, much larger now. Several dorm buildings had been added, and several more were being built, just to accommodate all the new people. There was even a second mess hall, built onto the side of the first.
The Sage's chamber seemed unchanged, at least. They found him where he usually was, meditating in his wooden bowl-throne, perfectly balanced upon one of Swamp Tree's roots. Alex reached out to the tree, grinning. "Hey, Swamp Tree."
"Redwood, my man. Welcome back."
The tree's voice was as casually chill as it always was. "Thanks Swamp Tree. How've you been?"
A hint of sarcasm entered the tree's voice as it responded. "Pretty good, you know, pretty good. I've just been sitting here for two months. Being a tree. Winters over, so that's good. I love spring. It makes me grow taller."
"Yea?" Alex said, resisting a chuckle. "Do you ever, y'know, consider maybe not growing? You're already pretty large, Swamp Tree."
"Asking a tree not to grow is like asking the sun not to shine, Redwood. Trees gotta do what a trees gotta do." Even the Sage was smirking now, though Alex could tell he was trying to hide it. "You're one to talk. Look at you. Last I saw you, you could barely lift a pebble. You were smaller, too. What happened?"
"I'll tell you all about it." Alex said, as he walked up to the throne, and bowed. Arthur did the same.
The Sage opened his eyes, examined his student, and raised a brow. "So. A dragon. Well, nobody saw that coming, I'm sure." He shifted his gaze to one of the rafters in the hall, and the lead Passimian guard dropped down, and reluctantly handed over a very large, very juicy looking Sitrus fruit.
Alex had a feeling he'd just seen the conclusion of some sort of berry bet. The Sage split the fruit in half, and offered some to Alex, who broke his piece in half, and gave some to Arthur. They munched quietly, sitting together as Alex recounted their adventures in the land of ice and snow.
"So. Tao trained you to use your psychic powers, did he." Alex nodded, and the Sage sighed. "Well, he didn't teach you anything too damaging, so that's something. Besides, you showed control in Norstad. You could have that region worshiping you as a dragon-god hero, but you didn't stay."
Alex nodded again. "Norstad's better off being led by a hero of their own. And, Jess was better at using her powers. She surpassed me during our training. She also had help from her partner. Mine refused to teach me anything because you forbade him from doing so."
"For good reason," the Sage mumbled, "You had yet to unlock the other half of your potential. Now, we can move forward. Arthur, consider my ban lifted. Teach him whatever he wants."
Arthur smirked, as did his trainer. "With respect master," he said, "I think you already know what he wants. He's determined to learn it from you, and if I'm honest…it's been a while. I've kind of forgotten how…and I wouldn't have the first clue about teaching it to a human…"
The Sage raised a brow, and looked between the two. "Why? What does he wish to learn now?"
Alex grinned. He'd been shielding his thoughts, and it was nice to know the Sage hadn't pried, though he had no doubt his mental defenses would be no match for his power. "I want to Teleport, master. It seems like something that could be incredibly useful, to a trainer. Especially one with a power base to manage."
The Sage tossed the last of the fruit into his mouth, and raised a brow. "How?" It was weird, seeing his mouth occupied, and yet hearing him speak, undeterred by it.
Alex blinked. "Well, for one thing, I could continue my duties as Champion, and study here."
The Sage nodded, and then a look of understanding came over his face. "I see what you're after…it also lets you visit your woman. And anywhere else you can remember. Hmmmm." The large Pokémon stroked his chin, which had a respectable white-furred beard on it. "Very well. I see no reason to keep you from such a skill. You have proven that you can handle power. I'll expect you to bring her here, for training. If what you say about Pravus is true, she will need it as well, before you venture to Fornia."
Learning to Teleport wasn't exactly difficult, as he was, after all, a psychic type. It was an ability most of them had, and one Arthur was glad to remember. It would be incredibly useful in a battle. The trick, as the Sage showed them, was to tap into the global field of energy surrounding their planet, and use their psychic power to move along it. It was, in actuality, quite simple. All you needed was a clear image of your imprinted destination, though Alex soon realized, he could only go to places he'd already been, and remembered quite well.
That was fine, as it gave him a reason to travel the world. He'd gone back to his room once he'd gotten the hang of it, and while there, grabbed extra clothes, and shoved them into his bag. His shirt, pants, and robe didn't really need washing since they were clothes from Tao's world, but having extra underwear was always a good thing. He appeared back in the Sage's hall, grinning. "This…is amazing. Thank you, master." He bowed low.
The Sage seemed amused that the human was so glad to get underwear. Naturally, the Sage didn't need any. Teleportation was something most unevolved psychic types did with ease. Seeing a human use it was interesting, but his student had no issues picking it up. Once he'd done it successfully, he had the move down. "Remember there's a limit to how many times you can use it. Don't forget. Or you'll have to spend time resting wherever you end up."
Arthur glanced at his trainer once he sat back down, and Alex nodded. "Master, there's something else…when Xerneas thanked us for saving her, and her home, she told Arthur about his origins…or rather, she told him that you knew of them."
The Sage sighed, but shifted his gaze to the Gallade, who was looking down at his crossed legs. "She was correct. Since the moment you arrived, I had a feeling, but seeing you both now…it's clear my instinct was spot on. I did not tell you because…the situation is…complicated."
Arthur looked up at the Sage. "Who am I?"
Oranguru usually prided himself on being emotionally distant. Unattached. Wise. But seeing this Gallade, the sadness in his eyes, the lack of understanding…it moved him in ways he thought he'd been immune to. "Settle in, both of you." The Sage said, "This is going to be a long story…"
"Arthur, you hail from the land known as Albion. I'm sure you've heard of it. It's a nice place, really. Rolling fields of green, kind people, the weather is terrible, but then, that's just a part of living there. In actual fact, Albion is where your species first originated from, though you've all spread out over the eons. Your ancestral roots are in Albion, and you, young Arthur, were likely born there." The Gallade looked ready to respond, but stayed quiet. He needed to hear this.
"As I said…the situation in Albion is…complicated. Fragile. You see, the humans of that land have lived there for uncountable millennia, but, unlike any other society on the planet, they actually allowed Pokémon to rule over them, and hold positions of governmental power. Specifically, your line, Arthur. You are, in my best guess, the Lost Prince of Albion."
Arthur blinked. "What…? I…hmm…tell me about my mother."
The Sage nodded. "Your instinct serves you well. Several years ago, there was…a shift in the balance of Albion's power. A group of humans, for no discernible reason, rose up against you and your family. I know for a fact that your line always ruled with the inherent grace and kindness your species is so naturally imbued with. These humans though…they had a benefactor. A woman in the shadows, pulling their strings. She became Queen once your mother was forced to run, with a Houndoom on her heels."
The Sage sighed, and sank into his throne. "I will be honest…when they drove your mother to flee her home after they'd killed your father, I did not allow her to stay in the Swamp. She came to me with an egg, I'm assuming it was yours, but I could not let her stay. You see, to this day, there is a…dedicated…group of humans and Pokémon alike under the new Queen whose sole purpose is to hunt you down, and end any chance of the old line returning to power. Anyone who helps refugees of the 'royal family', is severely punished. I wasn't willing to start a war." The Sage kept his gaze on the floor. "I know that her egg hatched, and that she fled to Unova, seeking the protection of four Pokémon, three of which had, in the past, served her family."
Alex broke in then. There was only one quartet that could possibly fill that role. "The Swords of Justice…but they've-"
"Disappeared." Oranguru said, nodding. "I am aware. I know this much, young Arthur. Your mother fell to the hands of this group that hunts you, even now. I also know that shortly after she died, the Swords went missing. When you return to Unova, go to their grove. That is where my Future Sight led my gaze when I meditated on this. If there are answers, you will find them there."
The Gallade glanced at his trainer, and Alex nodded. There was no question. Arthur was going to the Grove immediately, to remember what he'd forgotten. He teleported away, and Alex sighed at his master. "He never stops."
The Sage smirked. "I know. I wonder who he gets that from."
Later that night, as Arthur handled his business, Alex returned to his 'home' to find that Terra had seriously outdone himself with reforging their hovel. The design was essentially the same, but the combined mastery of the earth and water that made up the Swamp from Terra and Hyrdrus allowed it to be molded in ways humans could never dream of achieving. Not without years of work. It was even big enough for Jess, and had passable shelter from the rain that would no doubt come as summer approached.
He recalled his tired team amazed at their work. Blaze and Leo had also helped sculpt the stone, so everyone was thoroughly exhausted, which was perfect, because Alex had a feeling his belt wouldn't be on all night.
He was finally free to Teleport wherever he wished. His possibilities were limitless. He went to Alola first, and bumped into Percy at a restaurant their family had visited on an earlier trip. Percy suggested he get something for his lover, and deciding to actually trust the fairy type, he let his random, wandering gaze, and the universe, guide him. It was a trick he'd picked up from Tao. Once his eyes read the familiar, and hilarious words on the random package they'd settled on, Alex knew what he'd be getting her.
"Thanks for the Tapu Cocoa." Jess said, smirking. He'd returned to the lady's dorm, only to find that her new roommate had invited her boyfriend as well. Naturally, Alex had enough to share.
Her roommate smirked. "Yes, thank you…it's seriously good." She pouted at her partner. "He never gets me anything."
Jess buried her face in his chest suddenly, and she stifled a giggle fit as Alex nonchalantly sipped his drink, and said, "I know what the ladies like." The boyfriend, whose name he hadn't been told, nodded, as he got the joke. Alex chuckled as well.
They'd Teleported away then, as upon hearing he could take her anywhere, his better half had demanded to see Lumiose again, namely because she needed to shop or something. He didn't mind. The great thing about Kalos, he discovered, was that everyone was ready to battle, and with mega evolution. Those fights were always interesting. Especially since he was down to Hydrus and Terra, whose stamina was quite impressive. Everyone else was still tired from constructing their home again.