Disclaimer: I don't own the Pokemon franchise. Enjoy.
—Cheren and Bianca—
"Something's not right with this city." Cheren pushed his glasses further up his nose. "We've already reached the port and there's no one in sight. Whatever happened must've occurred not too long ago."
Bianca gazed around the docks forlornly before she spotted something they should've seen earlier. Tugging on Cheren's coat sleeve, she spoke in hushed tones, "Footprints over there by the steps! Both human and Pokemon!"
"The snow must not have covered them in time." Cheren observed as he made his way sluggishly through the snow. Once he neared the prints, he realized, upon closer inspection, they were of a Pokemon far larger than any they had seen in all of Unova. They were in a pattern indicating that the Pokemon had approximately six legs and a dragging tail. The reptilian footprint indicated that the Pokemon had been most likely a Dragon.
"Could these be N's?" Bianca pointed to the footprints on the left of the Pokemon's.
"If these are, then he has found himself a new partner, which I don't think is likely. Reshiram did not seem like the Pokemon that likes being replaced." And then something occurred to Cheren. "Bianca, do you remember what Cynthia said when she mentioned N's appearance in Sinnoh? Her exact words were, 'a green-haired man with a Dragon-type Pokemon'. She didn't specify a name or a Pokemon." Cheren paused in his rush to convey his theory and took a breath to calm himself.
"Who else do we know besides N that has green hair?"
Bianca's eyes widened in fear at the new possibility. Before she could voice her thoughts, however, the ground suddenly began shaking violently.
"What-!" Cheren fell to his knees in the snow, as did Bianca. "What's going on!"
"Look!" Bianca pointed forward into the distance and Cheren looked up from the ground. They could see the city's gym through the snow. Then the ground stopped shaking and they watched in silent horror as the gym was suddenly enveloped in a deep, black shadow that blocked the entire building from view.
Every pore in Bianca's being screamed for her to turn and run. Cheren felt his knees begin to shake. The brave duo refused, however, to leave before they found out whether or not their terrifying conclusion was true.
"Let's go, Bianca." Cheren spoke the very words she had been thinking and she nodded. He grabbed her hand and they made their way slowly towards the gym, not a single person in sight.
They could be hiding or...
Cheren saw a trail of footprints leading away from the gym as if the person had been running away from something. Then a few feet before the doorway of one of the small houses, the prints stopped abruptly.
They could have just disappeared.
"It's a lake."
Hilda was impressed at the sight. Upon nearing a space in the trees, she had suddenly felt a tug on her mind, similar to how she felt whenever she communicated with Zekrom. She had stumbled through the space and come across a small clearing. At the edge of the clearing was the beginning of a vast lake.
Then Hilda realized that the wind was no longer whipping her face and back. Everything was calm, quiet. Not a single wave disturbed the surface of the lake. In the center of the lake was an island. On the island was a cave. Hilda felt the tug on her mind again.
"Beartic," the Pokemon grunted in answer. "Think you can swim?"
Beartic set his burden down near the edge of the lake and stepped without hesitation into the water. He waded out a few feet, then turned back and looked at Hilda inquiringly.
"Hold on. I got this." Taking off her shoes and socks, Hilda placed them into her travel pack. Then she stepped into the freezing water. It reached her knees and she took a shuddering breath. After getting used to the water, which meant waiting for her toes to completely numb over, she turned back to the man.
She wondered if dumping an unconscious person into insanely cold water could wake them up.
Pushing those unconventional thoughts to the back of her head, Hilda reached down and used all her strength to heave the man over her shoulder and wade to where Beartic awaited her. Setting the man down as gently as she could on to the Pokemon's back, she marveled at her own capabilities, then wondered if it was because he had been lighter than she anticipated.
Beartic started swimming towards the cave.
Hilda took out another poke ball. "Go, Simipour!" Once he appeared, the monkey jumped up and down with anticipation at the edge of the lake. "Sim, I need you to help swim me over to Beartic. Don't worry, he won't bite." She added the last bit when she saw Simipour look uncertainly in the large polar bear's direction.
Simipour jumped into the water, splashing Hilda bodily. She squealed at the coldness. The monkey crooned apologetically. Irritated, Hilda did her best to dry squeeze out her wet clothes, but to no avail. At first, she was about to give Simipour an annoyed look, but then she saw his wide, pleading eyes and she relented. "Of course I'll forgive you, Sim. What are you thinking?" Then she latched on to his back and the water monkey began swimming to the island.
She shook herself in an effort to dry off, though it was even more futile than her last attempt. Giving up, she decided to take out her socks and shoes and put them on. At least they were dry. By the time she finished, Beartic had already gone into the cave. Simipour, however, remained by her side. He refused to budge unless Hilda went with him.
"What's wrong, Sim? It's just a small cave. You've been to Chargestone Cave haven't you? There were Electric-type Pokemon there and you still went through with it. I trust in you." Then Hilda stepped past the cave entrance with Simipour at her side. "See? That wasn't so-"
The ground suddenly began to shake.
Hilda reacted fast. There was a great rumble in the cave and she heard rocks shift. Immediately, she grabbed Simipour's hand and leaped forward. Behind her, she felt a rush of air and dusts propel her forward.
The cave was smothered in darkness.
—In the Darkness—
Hilda did not move from where she was on the cave floor until the sounds of moving rocks died down. She felt movement beside her and was relieved to hear the shaken hoot of Simipour. She reached for a Poke ball at her belt.
The fiery ape was bewildered for a moment when all it could see was darkness all around him. Then he exhaled a fireball from his mouth into the ceiling of the cave and light blanketed the entire area.
Beartic came into sight and Hilda was glad to see that he was safe as well.
The rocks had only collapsed around the cave entrance.
The polar bear had placed the man down on the ground and was standing on all fours over his body. So the Pokemon had been prepared to shield the man from harm using its own body. Hilda was inwardly impressed.
"Sunny Day won't last very long..." Hilda murmured. "I guess we'll have to go without light sometimes." She hoped, however, that they wouldn't end up having to stay long enough for there to be more than one 'sometime'.
Then Hilda walked over to the unconscious blonde man and knelt beside him. She touched his forehead. It was cold like a dead man's. Alarmed, she called her Pokemon over, "Darmanitan, sit here please."
The Pokemon hesitated for a moment. He wasn't used to associating with absolute strangers. However, Hilda's coaxing eventually led him to obey.
"Thanks." Feeling rushed back to her toes the moment Darmanitan sat down beside her. Then she lay down beside the unconscious man.
"Who are you?" she asked as examined his features more closely. It was a very serious one with a frown line here and there, but otherwise clear of any other signs of age. She felt almost shy looking directly at him. It was obvious that he was a man and not an adolescent teen because of the way his face was set and the firmness of his jaw. At the same time, he looked young because of his smooth skin, not a single trace of a beard or mustache.
She touched his forehead again and thought it felt warmer than before, which was a relief. Then, out of curiosity, her hand shifted to touch his blonde hair. It was messy and some parts stuck out in messily. It wasn't like Cheren's, all straight and neat. It wasn't like N's either, so elegant and long. It was soft to the touch like satin and Hilda wondered vacantly to herself why she was feeling up the hair of a complete stranger. Then her hand felt something wet in his hair and she pulled her hand away.
It was blood.
She shot up, startling the Pokemon around her. Without considering anything in her travel pack, Hilda did the first thing that came to her mind.
She began tearing off strips of cloth from her shirt.
A few minutes later, Simipour looked over her shoulder to assess her handiwork. Hilda sat back to appreciate her attempt at wrapping a head injury.
"Not so bad if I do say so myself." Hilda joked. It was of course the best she could do. Simipour crooned in her ear.
Little did she know, Simipour was crooning in sympathy for the yellow-haired man. What a surprise he was going to have when he woke up. What was he going to do when found out his head resembled a watermelon?
Now that she had managed to fix an immediate problem, Hilda relaxed and lay back on the dusty cave floor. It didn't take long before she remembered that Zekrom was still circling the skies. "I wonder what he's going to do now." She thought aloud, more to herself than to any of her companions. She considered calling for him, but decided against it. Zekrom was one of Unova's strongest Pokemon. He was not good, however, at breaking down cave-ins without destroying the entire cave.
She settled with sending him the message that she was perfectly fine.
Zekrom did not answer.
—In the skies—
The black dragon flew in circles as he tried to connect with his partner. Their link had been severed the moment she'd stepped into the cave. A mysterious force was interrupting it.
Then the earth shook and Zekrom watched as the cave entrance was suddenly blocked by large rocks. He had given a roar of frustration. He knew he could not do anything to save his partner without hurting her. Why was this happening? Who dared challenge him with this act of great power?
Then he spotted the shadows. That was the source. It would feel his wrath.
Zekrom gave a roar of battle. Then he plunged down towards Snowpoint City at such high speeds that he pierced the clouds.
—Cheren and Bianca—
They were almost there to the entrance of the gym when the swirling darkness suddenly dissipated. The gym doors began to open.
"Quick! Over here!" Cheren pulled Bianca into a cover of trees. It was a mediocre hiding place, but it was better than standing directly in front of whatever monster may have exhibited that much energy.
A familiar man stepped out of the gym. He wore a conspicuous cloak bearing the pattern of two staring eyes. The hated insignia of Team Plasma was engraved on the cloak's clasp. His green hair was unmistakable.
"Ghetsis," Cheren hissed. "So I was right."
Bianca suddenly clasped both hands over her mouth because she nearly screamed at what happened next.
Out of nowhere, a towering and decidedly vicious Pokemon appeared beside Ghetsis. If there were an angel of Death, then this Pokemon was certainly its earthly form. Its form appeared almost skeletal with the golden rings around its long neck. Its wings were bat-like and could touch the trees on either side.
Cheren scanned the Pokemon with his Pokedex and wasn't surprised to find a question mark on the screen. "Stay low, Bianca." He whispered to her. They peered through the foliage at the massive Pokemon and its unlikely partner.
Ghetsis suddenly broke into laughter, which caused the hairs on the backs of their necks to rise. It was as cold as the snow they were standing in up to their ankles. He continued to laugh as he began walking forward, the Pokemon following him silently.
Then Bianca made the mistake of stepping back and breaking a fallen twig.
Ghetsis whipped his head towards the sound.
Without any warning, the Pokemon opened its mouth and shot a ball of energy to where they were.
Cheren wrapped his arms around Bianca and threw both of them bodily into the open, successfully avoiding the ruined trees. Coughing, Cheren tried to get back to his feet but found that his legs refused to obey him.
"Well, well." Ghetsis began advancing on the fallen Cheren. "It's the one who tried to arrest me. I seem to recall you very well. You and that Alder…" Before he could get too close, however, Bianca threw herself in between them.
"Don't. You. Touch him!" Bianca whispered savagely. She had a look in her eyes that she did not have before. It made Ghetsis stop in his tracks.
"Little girl. You are of no importance to me. Why do you place yourself in a situation you can easily avoid?" Ghetsis asked in a curious voice. He sounded almost like a child asking about the birds of the sky or the fish of the sea. "I don't understand people like you sometimes. You are willing to sacrifice your lives for something the person you are sacrificing for may never be able to pay back. Foolish-"
"No!" At Bianca's cry, Ghetsis fell silent. "It's not. It's something you may never understand even if you tried! Haven't you ever thought about doing something for someone without expecting them to pay you back?"
Tears began to form in her eyes even though she knew how pointless they were. "I'm doing this for him because I love him."
Ghetsis did not say anything for a moment. He just looked at her. Then he said, in a low voice, "Stupid girl."
The Pokemon behind him opened its mouth.
"NO!" Cheren screamed. "BIANCA!"
But the blow never came. There was a screech as the giant Pokemon was suddenly taken down by a black form from above.
"What!" yelled Ghetsis and whipped around.
It was Zekrom! Cheren watched in amazement as dragon fought dragon, claws glinting in the sun, mouths open in a roar. They crashed into the trees and into a few small houses. Zekrom had the advantage of surprise.
"So the girl is here too." Cheren heard Ghetsis mutter. "The next time I see her, I'm going to get rid of her for good."
Zekrom was strong. He was a graceful and grand Pokemon. He was, however, smaller and less violent than the other dragon. Before long, the black dragon was being overcome little by little. Finally, the deciding blow was done and Zekrom was slammed into the gym. He fell down in a heap.
Cheren found he could move his legs again and he and Bianca rushed over to the wounded Pokemon's side.
"Zekrom, get up. Come on." Bianca urged him.
"If you faint now, Hilda will be in danger." Said Cheren.
The Pokemon's eyes remained closed. He did not move.
"Oh, Zekrom." And Bianca's tears began to fall. "Don't give up on us now. We need you."
"Zekrom-!" Cheren began. He was suddenly slammed into the side of the gym, along with Bianca. The blow rendered the girl unconscious on impact, but Cheren managed to hold on to consciousness for a few more seconds.
He heard Ghetsis speaking, though nothing was making it through to his mind. As he drifted into unconsciousness, Cheren thought he heard the cry of another Pokemon he did not recognize. And then he closed his eyes and was lost to the world.
—Several hours later, In the Cave—
Hilda had fallen asleep, the remnants of her shirt barely covering her back. Her hat lay somewhere in the coils of Serperior. Her hair was splayed messily all around her head. She had let out the rest of her Pokemon before asking Musharna to use Hypnosis on her and now they were all lying around her and the man. The cave was still bathed in light due to the heat rock Hilda had dug out of her travel pack and given to Darmanitan to hold.
The man began to stir.
"Ugh, my head." He sat up stiffly. "What-?" he touched the bandages on his head. Whoever did this for must've been terrible at it, he mused. Then he noticed his craggy surroundings. He was in a cave? How-
Hilda shifted in her sleep and her hand touched his.
He gave a start, but did not move his hand. "Did you do this for me?" He asked the sleeping girl lying beside him. She had torn her shirt for him. He spied a discarded coat nearby and shook his head in amusement. "Silly girl, that coat would've worked just as well."
Then he heard a growl from beside him and he turned his head to find himself face to face with a Pokemon that resembled an ape with flaming eyebrows. Seeing its small hostility, Volkner raised an eyebrow at it. His unspoken message seemed to have been relayed successfully and the Pokemon stopped growling, though it still seemed highly suspicious of him.
He was suddenly curious. Shifting his attention away from the ape, he looked around at the various Pokemon surrounding him and said, "You're all very strange-looking. I've never seen any like you in this region before." Then he looked down at the girl. "Just who are you, girl? You don't belong here."
His eyes shifted to her hand, which was still touching his. He should've moved his hand already. So why hadn't he? Perhaps it was because she resembled a sleeping child, innocent and oblivious to everything around her. However, if he leaned in a little more, he might begin to notice the distinct arch of her eyebrows or the ordered messiness of her hair, how it splayed across her forehead as if each individual strand knew where to go…
He groaned and put a free hand to his bandaged head. "What are you doing, Volkner? She's just a kid."
Suddenly, the girl groaned and then she muttered something in her sleep. What did she say? It sounded something like-
"N…" Her hand curled around his and he did nothing to stop her. "Why…? Why did you…" She gave a deep exhale. Then her eyes began to flicker open.
Volkner then spoke his first words to the girl. "Hey."
He used a gentle tone, so unlike how he would normally speak to a fellow trainer that he surprised even himself.
"What's your name?"
She sat up faster than a flick of Serperior's tail. "You're awake." She said dumbly, still caught in the vestiges of sleep. "Wait! Wait…I mean…you look nice now." She smiled. Then she realized what her words sounded like to her own ears. "Wait! Wait!"
He laughed, much to her extreme embarrassment. What in the world was he going to think of the person who saved him now! First impressions were always important…
Then Hilda realized he had asked her a question. "It's Hilda," she answered She opened her mouth and was going to ask for his when she realized she was holding on to his hand.
She gasped instead and mumbled an apology before letting go immediately, now almost permanently unable to look him in the eye. Somewhere in her mind, Hilda wondered where in the world had her confidence gone?
A minute of silence passed between them, the longest Hilda remembered ever having to endure.
Finally, she brought herself to ask, "What's yours?" She looked up only to look away again when she was caught in his direct gaze. For some reason, it was frustrating for her to look him in the eye.
"Volkner," he said. His voice was a mildly deep tone and Hilda decided she liked listening to him. "I want to thank you, but I don't know how."
She thought about what that entailed for a moment. Here she was with this stranger who owed her a rather big favor. What could she possibly ask from him in return? And, as she thought about it, Hilda quietly inched over to her coat and slipped it over her ruined shirt. At least this Volkner had been enough of a gentleman not to mention her lack of cover.
Then she had an idea. "Why don't you show me your Pokemon? I have a national Pokedex. Besides, I didn't get to meet any Pokemon near the lake since I guess Beartic was a little too intimidating." Though it was probably because Beartic knew how to roar and keep wild Pokemon away.
"So that's the name of your bear? I'd scan him myself, but I can only assume it won't give me any information. Did you say you have a national Pokedex?"
"Only those who have beaten the elite four have one." Hearing his impressed tone, Hilda looked up, pleased at the idea of having that sort of impact on him. She could meet his eyes now.
Then a memory tickled her brain. The elite four... something about... Then it occurred to her. "Have you ever met Shauntal? She mentioned you while we were battling."
His expression changed to a shocked one before he quickly recovered. "So she's one of the elite four now…"
"How long have you known her?" Hilda brought her knees close to her chest. It felt like they were going to be here awhile.
"I battled her once. And I won," Volkner turned away from her to look at a spot on the cave wall. Hilda took that moment to observe him. His pride in his achievement was obvious, satisfaction evident in his expression. He looked…very handsome like that. "It was a tough battle, electrifying! She was one of the few people I actually thanked for challenging me. There was one other…She probably has a national Pokedex like you by now." His eyes took on a nostalgic look. He seemed to be looking at a scene from the past. "She should be around your age."
"You talk about her like she's your daughter," Hilda laughed. "I'm almost seventeen already. We should count as… well... maybe not adults yet but close." She disliked how she hesitated for a second. Was she that reluctant in even the idea of becoming an adult?
"I'm already twenty-four. It's natural to think that way of people so much younger than me." He looked at her then, his gaze suddenly calculating.
Hilda found herself looking away again. He was just so hard to understand at times. It was almost like playing tennis, exchanging glances back and forth. "What's it like?"
"Being an adult," Hilda shifted so she was leaning against Darmanitan's big, warm belly. She felt him snoring gently. "What's so different about it?"
"Well…" He shifted as well from where he was sitting only to sit on Serperior's tail. Immediately, she retaliated with a hiss. "Whoa, boy! Sorry!" She continued to glare at him for a few more seconds before sliding her tail safely to her side.
"She's a girl." Hilda was trying hard not to laugh out loud, her sides shaking in her restrained mirth. When she quelled the desire enough for her voice to start working again, she said, "Don't worry. She's always like that. She doesn't hate you or anything. Ha-ha!"
"I'll try to remember that." Volkner said wryly. "By the way, I think my head feels better now. Can you help me take off the bandages?"
"Oh, right," Hilda was mortified now to remember her terrible job of wrapping his head. "I'll get those off and you can forget I ever did that to you. I'll die if you mention that to Cheren or Bianca..." She suddenly remembered that they were still out there somewhere, possibly still searching for her in the snow...
She motioned for Volkner to dip his head down for her. Then she began un-wrapping him almost fervently.
He must've seen the change in her expression because he asked her, "Did something happen to your friends?"
For the time being, she didn't answer his question. She continued to unwrap his head. When she finished, the bandages fell to the floor between them.
"Your hair..." Her hand reached up to touch the area of his head visible to her. "There isn't any blood. That's good." As she finished searching for any remaining wetness in his hair, Hilda couldn't help her fingers from lingering.
She heard Volkner take in a breath and the moment was broken. Hilda quickly retracted her hand and thought they were going to fall into another round of awkward silence when Volkner asked her, slowly at first... "Where…are they? They came with you?"
Figuring that he was asking about Cheren and Bianca, Hilda replied, "They should've reached Snowpoint City by now." She was about to ask him if he had been trying to go there too until he beat her to it.
His eyes lit up like he'd been struck by a volt of electricity. "Snowpoint! I have to warn them!" He made as if to stand up, but then grabbed his head and sat back on his haunches with a groan.
"This isn't good," he muttered. "I need to warn Candice...about that man!"
Hilda immediately perked up at his last words. "What man? What did he look like? Did he have a dragon Pokemon with him?"
Volkner looked at her then. "You know him?"
"His name is N. He should be around my age. Tell me," Hilda could hear the desperation in her own words, though she could do nothing about it. "Did he do this to you?" If he had…then Hilda did not want to know what that meant.
He was looking at her in that calculating way again, as if he were thinking hard on what to say to her next, which Hilda didn't take as a good sign. When he spoke, he spoke as if he were choosing each word carefully. "He had green hair and he also had a dragon Pokemon with him. They match your description. He did not, however, look the same age as you. He was much older and he wore a strange cloak." At this, Hilda was flooded with relief. So N hadn't just randomly attacked an innocent man. "He didn't even need to tell his Pokemon what to do. It was like they shared a mind."
The full weight of Volkner's words quickly descended upon her. Relief was quickly replaced by foreboding. Hilda knew, with all her soul and mind, that the only other man besides N who shared green hair was…Ghetsis! She wanted to throw her transceiver to the ground at the very thought of him. What Volkner was telling her was that, somehow, Ghetsis had managed to acquire his own dragon Pokemon, to which he could connect with mentally.
Volkner's news had not been good news at all.
"I'm going to take out my Pokemon and break away those rocks. We need to get out of here sooner or later." Hilda watched Volkner force himself to his feet. "Besides, I feel like something's pulling at my mind in here. It's suffocating."
Hilda was surprised that he felt it too. But, for her, once she was inside the cave the tugging had stopped. Why was he feeling it now?
"Go, Electivire!" A furry, yellow creature appeared beside Volkner. It was half as tall as Serperior, but two times wider in muscle. Volkner gestured towards the rocks and the Pokemon obeyed.
Hilda got to her feet. "Darmanitan! Help him."
Before either of the Pokemon could reach the blockade, however, a voice sudden called out in Hilda's mind. Stop!
She gave a yelp and fell back to her knees. It was like listening to metal sound. She looked up and saw that Darmanitan and Electivire were looking all around them in surprise, while Volkner had fallen to a knee as well, one hand gripping his head. When she looked behind her, she was surprised to see all her Pokemon had their heads lowered toward the ground.
Hero of Unova. We finally meet.
"Who...are you?" Hilda asked once she got her voice box to work.
I am Uxie, creator of all knowledge in the Pokemon world. Your fear is misplaced. I am not the enemy here.
"You…" Volkner was fighting to stand back up. "You only appear when Sinnoh is in danger. That Pokemon I saw earlier, what was its name?"
His name is Giratina…His origins lie in the Distortion World. He is a violent and territorial Pokemon. Ghetsis discovered Turnback Cave, where the barrier between our world and Giratina's is weakest, and summoned him.
Hilda couldn't keep from making a noise. It was so typical of him. Of course he'd try and gather power in another region. He was just that evil. "Do you know how we can get Giratina to go back to his world? Ghetsis can't have complete control over him, can he? I can't imagine such a powerful Pokemon yielding to that man!"
Ghetsis' will is stronger than you think. There is, however, a way to bring Giratina back to his original world.
Of course there was a way. There had to be a way. Hilda clenched her hands into fists. Otherwise Sinnoh and Unova were doomed.
"Tell me, Uxie. I'm prepared to make any sacrifice to stop him." The determination in Volkner's voice bolstered her own. He understood what was at stake.
First, you must locate Turnback Cave. Even I do not know where it is, though I know there is a road called the Spring Path that leads to it. Once inside the cave, you will know where to go.
"That's it?" Hilda questioned. "It sounds too easy. Find the cave and go inside. There has to be something else besides that."
"What about the remaining lake guardians?" Volkner added. "Are they unable to help?"
Azelf and Mesprit are still asleep. They are the beings of emotion and will. They are not needed in this battle.
Hilda was unsatisfied with Uxie's answer. "What do you mean? Emotion is needed in judgment. And will is needed for the strength to go on. As humans and Pokemon, we need all three components to work together. I've seen what happens when people act based on knowledge alone." She pictured the very man who was causing all this trouble and was filled with the desire to go up to him right now and sock him a good one in the cheek.
Uxie was quiet, upon hearing her words, for a much longer time than Hilda anticipated. She was suddenly struck with the idea that she may have angered the Pokemon.
Quiet your unease, Hero of Unova. I am simply contemplating your words. My explanation for my instructions is this: Once you find the place where the barrier between our world and Giratina's is weakest, you must open a gateway to the Distortion World. To open this gateway, however, a price must be paid.
Giratina's world is a dark and lonely place, full of shadows. Emotion and will have no place there and only a meaningful sacrifice from a person of worth can create a proper gateway. Otherwise, the Distortion world will begin consuming ours'. Once the way is open, Giratina will begin to break free of its bonds with Ghetsis, as its instinct to protect its territory from intruders is far greater than that of any mortal man.
If Ghetsis had possessed a special item, he may have had complete dominance over Giratina. However, the key lies with you, Hero of Unova.
"What?" gasped Hilda. "You mean one of those orbs the Shadow Triad handed me two years ago? But Ghetsis himself ordered for me to have it!"
Perhaps he knew he may one day go too far in his quest for power and he placed responsibility in your hands. It is both a selfish, yet thoughtful thing to do.
A thoughtful thing…Hilda's eyes widened in horror. "Uxie, what…what did Ghetsis sacrifice to summon Giratina?" Her heart began to beat fast, her breathing grew shallow. No…it couldn't be…
I believe it was his son.
Hilda went numb at Uxie's words. She put her hands to her ears, refusing to believe it. No! The one man who could answer her question was gone! No, no, no!
Why was she even here? What was the point?
Suddenly, two hands grabbed her shoulders and spun her around. Electric blue eyes gazed into hers.
Volkner brought her close to his face. "Listen to me. Stay calm. Uxie's telling you more right now. He's saying that your friend's still alive."
Volkner's eyes were clear and his gaze acted almost like a guide to calming down. Gradually, her breathing slowed and she nodded. When Volkner brought his hands down from her shoulders, she surprised him by grabbing his sleeve instinctively, just so she could have something to hold on to.
That is correct. He is not dead. He is simply trapped within the Distortion World, lost. Once you open the gateway, you will be able to find him.
"Then we will go." Hilda managed to keep her voice from wavering. "But first, I want to find the remaining Lake Guardians. I feel they will help us fight the shadows in that place."
Your journey will take longer if you choose to go that path.
"I have no qualms." Said Volkner, which caused satisfaction to bloom in Hilda's chest.
Then, as her consort, you must show her the way.
"Consort?" Hilda peered at Volkner's face when he questioned Uxie's choice of word. His expression was a ruminative one.
Hilda herself wasn't very sure about it either. The word had more meanings than she was comfortable with. Or maybe she was just over-thinking. Surely, Uxie didn't mean it that way.
Hilda wondered if Volkner was thinking the same thing.
I will teleport you and your Pokemon to the clearing before the lake. Do not worry. You will see me again when the time comes.
A light surrounded them on all sides. Suddenly, it was like someone doused her with cold water and Hilda gave a yelp. The cave walls began to melt away from sight and for a brief moment all she could see was darkness.
And then sunlight hit her directly in the eyes.
Hilda exhaled sharply at how sensitive her eyes were after hours of dim lighting.
"Amazing," Volkner murmured. "So that's Uxie's power."
The two of them stood together before the lake in a contemplative silence, each considering their own thoughts on everything they had heard from Uxie.
Hilda realized all of a sudden that her journey had just gotten a lot more complicated than it initially appeared to be.
She felt something soft touch her leg, startling her out of her reverie. "Musharna, I almost forgot about you." She turned to face the rest of her Pokemon. "And the rest of you guys over there too. Go back into your poke balls." Good, she was getting back her bearings. "None of you guys want to go walking out in a snow storm like the one outside."
"That reminds me," Volkner's unexpectedly light tone of voice made Hilda look over at him. "I haven't shown you the rest of my Pokemon, have I?"
She finished calling the rest of her Pokemon back before agreeing, "No, you haven't. And I suppose you still owe me so…"
"Go, Raichu! Luxray! Lantern! Jolteon!" The four Pokemon appeared and Hilda momentarily forgot her worries as she marveled at the diversity of the Pokemon before her.
"This one's very cute." She knelt beside Jolteon, who growled at her. "And this one." She reached a hand out towards Raichu. "Hello. My name is Hilda and it's nice to meet you."
The large electric mouse turned its head away.
Hilda was not about to be put off, however. "I can tell we'll be great friends some day." She said it with a mixture of sarcasm and sincerity. Then, smiling down at the pleasant looking blue fish floating at the lake's edge, she said, "You're a nice one."
There was one last one left to scan. Hilda faced the great lion, electricity causing its black mane to stand up on end. She kept eye contact as she took small, but sure steps forward. She was reminded of when she met Zekrom for the first time. Luxray had a similar aura. Hilda was sure she could take it on.
Zekrom…In the back of her mind and in her heart, something was calling out to her, warning her, but right now she was too caught up in the eyes of the Pokemon before her. She was too caught up in the challenge.
"Luxray," She asked. "May I touch your head?"
The Pokemon gazed at her with wary red eyes. However, Hilda could see that her intentions were being conveyed successfully to the lion and, much to Volkner's obvious surprise, Luxray bowed his head just enough so Hilda could place her hand there with ease.
She thought she heard Volkner murmur something, but she wasn't quite sure. She could feel the electricity coursing through Luxray's fur. His head was warm. If only Zekrom could meet him, they would get along very well.
Zekrom…! Hilda realized, finally, the empty feeling in her chest and what it had actually represented. She had been feeling it for a while now, but she hadn't questioned it.
She could no longer sense Zekrom's presence.
"Volkner! We have to hurry!" Hilda ended up grabbing the lapel of Volkner's jacket in her desperation. "One of my Pokemon is in trouble! We have to get to Snowpoint City!"
What he did next was almost enough to completely breath through her haze of fear and uncertainty. He encircled his hands around both of hers and brought them slowly away from his chest. Then he spoke to her in a firm voice. "We will. The city isn't too far from here. Letting your emotions get the better of you is not going to help us. Maybe that's why Uxie was so reluctant to allow us to awaken all three guardians."
Hilda fought not to start crying right in front of this man. The feeling in her chest was starting to become unbearable. But if she did cry, he would probably be disappointed. Her eyes watered nonetheless.
In that moment, his expression seemed to change and Hilda wondered if it was because he pitied her. His tone was gentle like one he had used when she first woke up to see the man she had saved looking down at her. "I'm sure your Pokemon is still alive. Seeing as he wasn't there with you in the cave, I get the idea that you know he's capable of handling things by himself. Let's start walking now. We'll get to the city in less than twenty minutes if we hurry." Volkner quickly called his Pokemon back. Then he did something unexpected again.
Hilda was struck by a strange feeling in her chest when his hand closed around hers and he began leading her out of the clearing. No, it wasn't the feeling of a father or big brother holding her hand; she couldn't describe it. The closest thing she could come up with was the hand of a friend.
She figured that that was a start.
—Snowpoint City, Fifteen Minutes Later —
"There's no one here," Hilda whispered. Her voice still managed to carry in the silence despite that. The silence was as thick as the snow at their feet. "Is everyone still hiding? Ghetsis should be gone by now."
"I don't know." Was all Volkner could say in reply.
Then she made her way into the main part of the city, walking with growing trepidation at what she would see. Her hand was still locked with Volkner's.
At the sight before them, Hilda had to stifle a yell.
The glass windows of the gym were all shattered and there was a noticeable crack all along the roof. There were the vaguest hints of a large scuffle in the snow.
Hilda let go of Volkner's hand and ran as fast as she could towards the spot right in front of the gym doors. The snow was messiest there. She looked to her left and right and saw the ruined houses. The battle was between two very large Pokemon. And she knew one of them had been Zekrom.
Blood was mixed into the snow.
"Oh…" A noise came from Hilda's throat, though her ears barely registered it. "Whose..?"
"Hilda…" A voice spoke softly in her ear. "There are tracks around the side of the gym. They lead to the temple. Wherever your friends or Pokemon may be, they aren't here."
Her eyes shifted to look back at the blood, but a hand covered her eyes. "There's nothing more to see here. Come with me. I have the feeling your friends are still alive."
Hilda closed her eyes and put a hand over the one covering her face. As she pulled Volkner's hand away, she took a deep breath. Then released it.
"Okay, let's go."
—In the Temple—
The moment they set foot on ancient grounds, Hilda knew something was about to happen.
A deep groan suddenly echoed throughout the temple and the floor shook with what felt like heavy footsteps.
"Something's coming! Does the temple have a defense mechanism or something!" Hilda yelled over the noise.
"No! None that I heard of!" Volkner yelled back.
A huge shadowy figure suddenly towered above them and she saw Volkner instinctively reached for his belt. Hilda was about to do the same until she realized it wasn't doing anything to attack them.
"Wait! Stop!" She grabbed Volkner's arm. "It doesn't seem agitated."
Volkner stopped. Then he took a closer look at the colossal Pokemon. "This is the statue found in the lowest level of the temple. How is it alive?"
It was golem-like and imposing with grass growing on different parts of its body. It was one of the stranger looking Pokemon Hilda had seen. Were those various small, multi-colored orbs its eyes?
The Pokemon stood there watching them for so long that Hilda almost thought it had turned back into a statue. Then it turned slowly away from them and began walking deeper into the temple.
"I think it wants us to follow him." Hilda wasted no time in running to catch up with the Pokemon. When she noticed Volkner wasn't following, she turned back to call for him only find him looking at her in a way that made her feel embarrassed. "What? Is there something on my back? Come on!"
Waiting until they were a good distance away, he eventually started walking as well. Had Hilda not heard the words that echoed in his head? The golem had conveyed a message to him through telepathy and it appeared Hilda hadn't been told a word of what went on.
The message was sent to him the moment he had paused to look at the Pokemon. Its presence had penetrated his mind and its smooth, stony voice became one with his thoughts.
The human protects what is his, as all humans should do. Some humans, however, do not always do what should be done.
The Pokemon had paused for a moment before continuing, as if waiting for its words to sink in, and ending on a warning note.
The shadows within you are as strong as the light you possess. Take care not to let it consume you or else all will be lost.
With that the Pokemon had turned and left him with those words. Unknowing of everything that just happened, Hilda had run after the golem like an eager child. He had deliberated the message in his mind over and over. What was his...
Volkner wasn't sure he quite understood what the Pokemon was trying to tell him. He had no such feelings.
"Come on, Volkner! Hurry up or we're leaving without you!" He had nearly smiled at the way she called back at him. Her actions were definitely still reminiscent of a little girl's. He didn't have much to worry about.
Once he caught up with her, however, his long strides easily overtaking her smaller ones, Volkner was serious again.
What was his? If he hadn't understood what those words meant, then why was there just the slightest hint of satisfaction dancing in his chest?
A/N: Stay interested my friends.