Thank you for all being patient with me. I hope this doesn't happen again, but I seriously doubt it. Just as long as I don't announce anymore set deadlines, I should be fine. If it's not because of my short-attention span I've been having (or my addiction to TV Tropes), it may just be because I've been having a stressful semester. It's been killing me on the inside.

But enough about my angst, it isn't important.

Okay, while writing this chapter, I noticed just how long it got, it actually got slightly longer than chapter four. Well, while struggling to finish it up, I thought about it and figured, “As much as I'd like to, I'm not going to torture them with it. They suffered enough waiting two months for an update.” So I split it into two chapters. Be grateful.

Thus as a result, I'm not pleased with this chapter. May be subject to edits when it needs be.

Enjoy!

*~*~*~*

Chapter Sixteen: The Escape

“Escape, escape, from this sorrowful fate
You are not a flower of Hell
In that kind of place, don't bloom there, don't bloom there
Don't let them ensnare you”
-- “Naraku no Hana” (translated), Shimamiya Eiko, When Cicadas Cry Solutions

*~*~*

Under direction of Amber, Mew had to wait it out before she could heal her wrist. She wasn't told for how long, so the uncertainty of it all slowly creeped its way up to her brain. She didn't doubt the girl in the very least, but she grew concerned about Legion's suspicion of it. He was getting on their case, she could feel it in the pit of her core. It had been some time since he left her friends alone, and by then the agonizing vibes grew dull; his refusal to heal it was of arrogance, but him leaving them be was a sign he knew. The thought troubled her as she knelt there, firmly grasping it in place.

Taking a steady breath, she anxiously turned to the young lass. “Amber, I can't thank you enough for your help... but it hurts. It hurts so much, I can barely feel the pain now.” She lightly chuckled, wincing when her fingers twitched. “Can I heal it now?”

She slightly shook her head. “Not just yet...”

“But Legion's on to us,” she protested. “He would have already set it by now.”

Amber's eyes flitted over. “Like he would have allowed your wounds to heal?”

Mew felt a sting press against her heart at the revelation, and she flashed the cut on her arm in silent agreement. She was unsure why he decided to tear her body apart, whether it was to keep reminding himself it was still alive, or to torment Mewtwo to submission. Under normal circumstances, she would have already been dead from blood loss. If she was to return now in this state, she would only permanently end up back at Amber's side. However, Amber warned her about staying longer, implying she will be judged eventually. It seemed both she and Legion knew it, thus leaving her with no other choice but to die: painfully or quietly.

The girl stepped to her side, wrapping an arm around her shoulders in comfort. Sharply inhaling, the feline glanced over. “Why me?” she inquired dejectedly. “What is it about me that... attracted Legion in the first place? What does getting me pregnant with Mewtwo's child have to do with anything?”

Amber apologetically returned the gaze. “I don't know the details... but as you were the guardian, only you can control the Tree. After all, you are naturally immune to the Tree by contract.”

She frowned. “But wasn't it broken when I became mortal?”

“When it died,” came the amend.

Mew chewed on her lip nervously. “...does Legion know?”

“This was between you, Arceus, and the Lord. Legion only has so much knowledge about the Tree and you, he may or may not have known about your contract.”

Hanging her head, a puzzling thought came to mind. She somehow couldn't quite remember most of the day she became the guardian. She knew of Arceus' approach, the request, her accepting it sincerely before they entered the Tree... the rest was strangely blank. All she knew was there being more to it than just saying “yes”, like an agreement had to be made. “Amber, can you please tell me how I made this 'contract'? It's been so long... I'm sure if I ponder on it long enough I'll remember, but can you tell me anyway?”

The young miss smiled. “I'm sorry to say the contract is a rather sacred event when it comes to the Tree, that if you don't keep it you'll forget it. But you're right, eventually you'll remember... in a good few centuries here.” She slightly giggled when Mew's ears drooped, then added, “However, you got me here to tell you! So, what is it you want to know about the contract?”

“Um... pretty much how I made the contract with the Tree.”

Amber's smile grew. “There are only a couple of things you had to transfer to the Tree in order to become one with it: blood and aura. Both of these have to come into contact with the Heart for it to register, and because it's so sensitive, usually all that's required are just a drop of each. But those small drops are what taps you into its life-force through crystals, and makes you the master control.”

Glancing down at her palms, the Legendary felt a lump stick in her throat. “So then... how did Legion do it exactly?”

“He formed the Heart with bare hands—your hands. This in turn introduced the blood and aura into its system.”

Mew felt herself grow pale. “So then... he can control the Tree?”

“He can...” The girl gently grasped her small paws. “However, that means he can also lose control of it. What he doesn't realize is that upon reviving the Tree, both his and your aura were used, more or less.”

She perked up, still frightened at the facts. “But what does this have to do with anything?”

Amber tilted her head. “Oh? You don't know?” She giggled, confusing Mew even further. “Your aura has a mixture of Pokémon and human aura. And of course, human aura can kill the Tree if there's enough of it.”

She scarcely heard the last sentence when her heart skipped a beat. Gaping at the girl, who was stifling her laughs, she mouthed for a few moments before finally breathing out, “...what? I-I got... human aura in me?”

“You've had it for a while, about a good, mmm, few months now.”

Shaking her head, she flinched upon loosening the grip on her injury. She had to take a few breaths before speaking up. “...why haven't I noticed this?”

Steadying her, Amber responded, “There was no way you could have known without the Tree. But as you didn't know... maybe you aren't as linked to it as you used to be.” She shrugged. “Maybe.”

Mew just caught herself from letting loose a frightened whimper. “I-Is this a good thing? I mean... is the Tree going to reject me?”

“Not exactly. It's feeding right now.”

“But I thought human aura is forbidden in the Tree!” she exclaimed, throwing her hands about. Hissing and tensing in pain, she squeezed her wrist once again.

The girl sadly hung her head, taking back the Legendary's paws. “It is... it was never meant to hold humans. While it feeds on both humans and Pokémon alike, human aura cannot be used to control the Tree, or it goes berserk. However, it is used instead in emergencies... at the cost of a life.” She slightly paused when Mew winced. “You are thankful enough to have only done this twice... the third time you tried, you did not have enough human aura to help balance out its gorging. When it backfired, you absorbed it, and you've had it since. So now, running through the Tree's veins are three types of aura: yours, Legion's—a demon, and man's. None of them can mix in a good way, so it's impure.”

Amber suddenly trailed off, avoiding the feline's gaze. She immediately grew worried, taking her silence as not a good sign. As much as she didn't want to hear anything about it anymore, her anxiety got the best of her. She leaned in, shaking her hands to get her to continue. When the lass drew in a slow breath, Mew felt her heart sink. “The Tree's sick, and is slowly growing out of control,” she sighed in a melancholic tone. “He's using his minions and those of Pokémon to fuel it, but there is not enough of your pure aura to neutralize it... It's only a matter of time before the Tree begins to kill. Your friends are going to die.” She glimpsed over at the wide-eyed stare of her companion. “You will die.”

It was very clear Mew was upset at this reveal. She had not thought about the consequences despite knowing them, but she didn't know of its current condition either. It was hard for it to sink in because of how horrific it was. Inside her was a catalyst as a result of a backfire, the very essence the Tree made sure with all its might to rid itself of except when needed. Then upon recreating it, Legion unintentionally poisoned the Tree, thus sealing their deaths. She didn't know what to say, at how to express herself.

The girl watched as the feline's expression intensified into a mixture of anger and sadness. Her body was trembling from the emotion, her fingers digging into her palms, which she allowed her to do. She just hung her head in apology, briefly looking away. “However... there is some good news...”

“How can there be?!” Mew gave the sudden scream that made her flinch. Her claws sunk into her skin when she clutched harder. “You told me yourself we're going to die! How can there be any good that'll come from this?! The Tree's gone berserk, and there is no way I can neutralize it like this!”

Amber inhaled deeply before speaking. “Another defuser—or neutralizer—is available that will at the very least counteract the aura and make it useless.”

The Legendary gasped a little when her heart fluttered. “There is? What is it?” she urged quickly. “Do we still have hope?”

The child managed a giggle, feeling the tension loosen up. “It's not a what, but a whom.”

Mew scowled a little, her ears drooping in slight disappointment. “'Whom',” she repeated blankly, then shook her head. “Whom else besides me can heal the Tree? None of the other Legendaries have that power, let alone know how it works.”

“Don't worry, you'll help him, but all it takes is just touching the Heart, really.” Laughing again, she continued. “And besides, the Tree has identified Mewtwo as a contributor, there should be no way he wouldn't know how to work it at all. And also because he has human aura as well.”

The feline opened her mouth to protest, only to freeze and review the statement. It sounded impossible, there had to be no way Mewtwo was linked to the Tree. She would have known by now if he was. She wanted to clarify it first, though all she could manage out were scattered mumbles. “...what? Mewtwo? But how can he... how... what?

Amber's smile grew a little bigger when some excitement came into her voice. “You can say it's in his blood, which would mean it's in the Tree as well. Normally he'd be kicked out by now, but as the Tree consumed human aura, it's more acceptable.”

“W-Well yeah, but... how'd he get the human aura? I don't think he's ever studied how to control aura. And you know Mewtwo has never liked humans.”

“I know... but his is natural, in an odd way.” She leaned in with a curious look. “Did he ever tell you about his origins? I take it he knows it, there were records that weren't yet destroyed.” When Mew shrugged and shook her head, her eyes closed as she let out a slow breath. “The fossil they used to create Mewtwo was missing some parts in its DNA due to age. To fill in the gaps and continue with the experiment, the scientists had no choice but to substitute the blank spaces with other DNA. They tried quite a good many strands, but they were all rejected for reasons unknown. Out of desperation and time, they went ahead and used human DNA knowing the consequences if they failed. It surprisingly worked, but given the age of the fossil, I don't doubt it was from a time when they were still revered by humans. Lots of Mew in that time of age came into contact with humans a lot, so it's possible some DNA was on the fossil.” Amber just shrugged. “I don't know whose DNA they used, but I probably have a good idea...” She slightly trailed off with a sad smile. “...Papa was proud of Mewtwo... if Mewtwo was a human to begin with, he could have been my baby brother, maybe.” Her eyes suddenly widened, a hand shooting up to her mouth in surprise. Looking back up at her confused companion, she let out a giggle. “I'm sorry... I got side-tracked there.”

Mew just shook her head in assurance. “No, it's okay, it explains a lot, actually... and that he was right after all.” She wiped at an eye the moment she felt the sting of a tear. “Now I know why I could never have invited Mewtwo over for long periods of time. The Tree recognized the human in him and had to get rid of him. But because he's still a Pokémon, it just spat him back outside. A normal human would have been absorbed, Mewtwo was just kicked out.” She chewed on her bottom lip, staring at their clasped hands. She twitched one of them out of curiosity to see if the wrist was still broken. Shivering under the small wave of pain, she glanced back up at the girl when a familiar question came to mind. “Um, Amber... how do you know Mewtwo? And not because you're a spirit, I meant personally.

Amber's smile slowly grew, her eyes brightening up. “Because I was there from the beginning,” she replied in a whisper. When the Legendary's brow rose skeptically, she explained further, “I kept him company, a few others and I did, and I taught him about the world. I showed him how to count, where I lived, what the sun, and moon and stars looked like. I taught him all I knew as a four-year-old. And then... he stopped smiling...” Her gaze had steadily averted to the floor, transitioning into a serene daze. It retained its dreamy look when she glanced back up, her grip tightening. “Mew, thank you for keeping Mewtwo company. As physical as I am, I couldn't be there for him. But I could watch over him, sometimes even read his heart.” Her smile became lovely and heart-wrenching. “He's grateful for you taking the time to look past his flaws and see who he really is. He doesn't know it, but you are the second one who knows him.”

Mew could take the information all in, but she had to step back from it for a quick review. She found it unbelievable that she had expressed her knowledge of Mewtwo since she manifested herself. It was strangely intimate for a child whom she had never-before seen nor heard of, it was possible she knew more about him than Mewtwo did himself. Only one answer came to her that was plausible enough for her statements to be true. Staring into the girl's eyes, she quietly inquired, “Are you his guardian angel?”

A sudden laugh escaped from Amber. “Yes, I am! I couldn't believe it myself when I was given the position. I guess it's because I'm the closest to family he's got, but he doesn't know it. He hasn't since before he was born...” She quickly shook her head to get unwanted thoughts out and swung their clasped hands joyfully. “That's why I'm excited for you two. It makes me sad to see Mewtwo lonely. Even if I had lived to die as an old granny, I'd still be sad. I'm so grateful to be here with you, the wife of my best friend.”

She was tempted to correct her, but left it be, not wanting to argue with her again about the difference between “life-mate” and “marriage”. Glancing down at their hands, she cautiously pulled the inflicted one away only to find it had healed. Her eyes slowly widened as she twisted and rolled her wrist around in awe, unsure what to say. After a few moments of silence and exercising her paw, Mew turned back to Amber when a random thought popped into her mind. “Amber... forgive me for asking you this, but... how did you die?”

“Depends on which life you're talking about.”

She blinked. “Uh... what?”

Amber gave a lop-sided grin. “Well, I technically had two lives—sort-of. Actually, more of a revival... It's complicated.” She entwined her hands behind her back with a giggle.

Mew tilted her head, still confused, but already intrigued. “Can you tell me anyway?”

The girl winked. “I'll tell you here soon. But for now, let's get you ready to go back home.” She pulled the Legendary with her when she stood up, swinging their arms around. Her voice then dropped to a whisper. “You are needed desperately now. I can't hold you back any longer.”

Home...

It made her heart ache, torn between wanting to go back and staying with the little angel. She knew she could only have one decision, and it was an important one. Selfishness wasn't an option, it didn't exist here. As homesick as she was and wanting to be back with Mewtwo and her friends, she was growing fond of Amber and the peace she held. However, on the other side, her loved ones were hurting, even possibly dying. It was the fate she didn't want to wish upon them. Even if they died and joined her, there was always the chance they'd be separated, and Arceus would show great displeasure at their failure to uphold their promise. Happiness didn't seem to exist either way. But she trusted Amber in that there was hope. That hope, however, couldn't happen unless she went back.

Mew felt tears sting her eyes, only to quickly blink them away and nod at the young lass, whom returned the gesture before dipping her chin in. “Mew, are you confident about this? You still do have agency here. You can choose what to do, but you'll have to face the consequences... and they may not be pretty.”

The feline took a long, slow breath. “I'm willing to go back. Whatever happens, happens. There's nothing I can do about it... now that I know what death holds for me.”

Clasping her paws with a smile, Amber led the way toward the Veil.

*~*~*

They didn't know how long they remained in the field for after Mew had left them. The Pokémon that didn't leave had found it was safe to return to normal life, and went about their business, avoiding the Legendaries for the most part. The only exception was Mewtwo, whom remained bound against the tree despite all the nudging and light tugging of the ropes that were done. He was still fairly weak, and though he had gained awareness, he refused to move or acknowledge them, preferring to stare blankly at the crystal spire next to him. His peers kept a close surveillance from behind their prison.

There hadn't been any signs that the barrier was letting up, nor that there were openings high above or underwater; not even Darkrai and Giratina could find a way to slip through it. It was slowly heating up in the enclosed space from the many bodies, though Shaymin informed the temperature would drop when the evening came. (She even told them to keep their mouths shut in the off-chance it was air-tight.) Their concern, for the time being, had been focusing on Manaphy's condition. The Sea Prince was getting his strength back, his wounds having healed to the best of Mesprit's and Jirachi's abilities and from being in the water. He had by now lost the will to cry, and at the moment chose to sit in Latias' lap and stare out into the open field. Though they worried about his emotional and mental status, the Legendaries found solace at knowing he wasn't by Death's door anymore.

The little peace there was ended when Deoxys loudly sighed. “God, it's dull around here. When's Mew coming back?

Many in the group turned to glare at the alien. Celebi, whose arm was in a make-shift sling from what little Mesprit could use, slowly shook his head. Without looking away from the lake, he murmured, “That was not Mew... she would never act like that. Whatever has her in its possession... has had her for some time.” He raised his uninjured hand to rub his cheek. “Did it ever say its name? It gave us a title, but as for the name, I can't recall it...” He ducked his head for a few moments, pinching his brow. “Ah. Mewtwo kept addressing her as 'Legion'.”

“So much for protection and guidance,” Giratina huffed. “But the name's rather familiar. Hey, Latios,” he grunted to the side, “know the name?”

The Eon Dragon solemnly glanced up at the Renegade Legendary. “Why are you asking me?” he calmly pointed out. “How am I supposed to know? My response is the same as yours.”

He shrugged his wings with a sneer. “Sheesh, sorry I even asked. But honestly, anyone feel the name is familiar or something, or am I imaging it?”

“Just your imagination,” Palkia grumbled under his breath, then scrunched his face in thought. “That sucked... Ah, forget it, I can't think of anything witty.”

Dialga briefly rolled his eyes. “You could have said 'your mom' and it would have sucked.”

“Shut up, I'm just not in the joking mood at the moment.”

Jirachi raised his head up a little to raise a brow questionably at the two giants, then sighed. “No, I just have only heard the name before. Actually, more like a word. It's a word, isn't it?”

“It's used when describing a large crowd of people like an army,” Darkrai defined, arms folded. “Usually a few thousand or so.”

“I'm not asking for the definition, genius,” Giratina snorted out. “It's a name, isn't it?”

More silence fell on the group as they shifted in their seats, some pursing their lips in thought. Then Shaymin gave a recitation, though she had been so quiet the whole time, a few did double-takes when she did. “'For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion; for we are many.'” She didn't bother meeting anyone else's gazes, sorrowfully casting her eyes instead at Mewtwo. “Whether it was a literal name or not, that man who was 'saying' it really meant it... there were many demons in him.”

Latias hoisted herself and Manaphy straighter as she fearfully turned to her brother. “Does that mean Mew has thousands of demons in her?”

“Well then, we should go grant them that wish to go into a herd of some swine, what do you think?”

Latios suddenly shot up and leered over at Giratina. “I have had it with you!” he snarled. “What is your problem that you have to mock us?”

He quickly defended himself. “I'm not mocking, I'm giving out reasonings!”

“To hell with your reasoning, the point is, you have been cracking inappropriate jokes to serious problems! It's because I have read my caretaker's Bible, isn't it? So that must make me an expert!”

“I never said you were an expert!”

Latios gave a harsh, mocking laugh, sending shivers down everyone's spines. “Oh really? Ever since the world ended, you wouldn't shut up about it! If I didn't know better, I would have thought you were interested, but I do know better! You know it quite well, and because you do, you chose to rebel, am I right?” He then gave a sharp smirk. “But I suppose that has been the norm to you, hasn't it?”

His sister released Manaphy to pull on his arm. “Latios, no! He doesn't mean it!” She gave a small squeak when he jerked away from her, then whirled around to stand before him. “Latios, please! Just let it go!”

“Listen to your sister, for Christ's sake!” the ghostly dragon exclaimed out, gesturing to the trembling female. “She has a point here!”

Yeah, and you're wasting all our air!” Deoxys blurted out with a snicker. Cresselia and Rayquaza slapped him upside the head while others shot him warning glances, making him wince further.

Shaking her head, Latias tightly hugged him, gazing tearfully up at his darkened face. “Latios, please, I don't want another fight!” she wailed. “I'm tired of all the negativity in the group! I-I know we have been getting along the last few months or so, b-but there are still these fights, and I hate it! If we had not been fighting to begin with, we wouldn't be here! Mew wouldn't have had all those nightmares, and she and Mewtwo would be happy together! And we would all be happy together!” Sobbing, she buried her face into his chest. “I thought... I thought we were doing what Ho-oh and Arceus told us to do...” Digging her claws into his shoulders, she pulled away, tears streaming from her wide eyes. “I don't want to fail! I don't want to die!”

Latios sneered down at his sibling, slowly loosening up when he recalled the many arguments and battles the Legendaries had partaken in, and in remembering the civilians of Alto Mare. He treasured the days from when it was a peaceful city, where Latias could roam free without fear. It was when she was mugged that something inside him had snapped. He couldn't remember what happened next, all he knew was it took him most of the night to wash the blood and dirt off. It was a good few years before she stopped being afraid of him, but the deed had been done. He had little power to keep her innocence from being corrupted. Glancing up at Giratina, he wrapped his arms around her and led her to the water's edge for a seat. The renegade turned his back on him, folding his wings and hanging his head.

The group held their silence, feeling an uncomfortable burden on their shoulders. They stole sheepish looks from one another, unsure what else to say. Shortly afterward, Entei began sniffing and blubbering, large tears rolling down his face. Raikou raised a brow at him, inching away at the sight. “Erm... is something wrong, Entei?” he inquired.

The volcanic beast suddenly bawled, scaring the others from their solemn state. “I agree with her that we shouldn't fight, but... Oh, God, I couldn't hold it anymore! I'm sorry, guys, forgive me! Please don't yell at me!”

“What are you blabbing on abo—” Suicune grunted out, but then was cut off when she felt her paws being soaked. She and a few others looked down, barely catching themselves from screaming in disgust. Her brother just sat there in his urine, trembling in sobs. After sucking in sporadic breaths, she finally let out a cry of repulsion and bounded into the water. More followed suit until they were pushed up against the barrier, glaring at Entei.

The ones lucky enough to levitate or avoid the mess ended up laughing until the smell made them gag. After a few more complaints, the poor beast wailed, “Stop yelling at me, it's not my fault! I couldn't hold it any longer!”

Zapdos made choking noises and pounded almost frantically against the barrier. “Need! Fresh! Air!” He then paused in the middle of gasping, and stared quizzically at the psychic wall. He scanned the surface and banged the obstacle again, ears picking up reverberating twangs. “Hey, guys, check this out!”

Moltres scowled, watching him rhythmically beat the barrier. “Are you just that bored you have to entertain yourself?” she scoffed.

“You're not even listening!” He smacked it a few more times, a grin appearing on his beak. “You hear that? It's not as solid as it was. If we hit it enough, we can break through!”

The firebird knocked on it herself, and she blinked, repeating it a couple of times. “Well douse my flames, Zaps, you're right for once!”

Out of surprise, the Legendaries came forward to test it out, excited murmurs flaring up in the crowd. Darkrai crossed his arms after a few taps. “It's a good sign. If we wait it out, it'll be depleted before we know it.”

“To hell with your plan, let's smash it!” Cackling earnestly, Rayquaza headbutted the wall only to curse loudly.

“That's using your noodle,” Groudon chortled.

The dragon sneered at him, and without warning, smacked his head with his tail, sending him crashing into the barrier. A harsh vibration grated through the surface, forcing the Legendaries to cower in pain (though some verbally expressed it). When it gave out, they glanced up in awe to see a long, distorting crack. The sight of it dumbfounded them, but also brought hopeful smiles to their faces.

“Now that's using your noodle,” smirked Rayquaza. “But admit it, I thinned it out for you.”

The snide comment was promptly ignored when everyone else excitedly looked at one another. Quickly, they bombarded the barrier on all sides with special attacks (though the larger entities slammed their bodies against it), giving their all. The cracking was inspiring and beautiful, bringing about joyful cries and laughs to accompany it on the spot. It was loud, crowded and hot, but they didn't let it bother them as their minds rejoiced at growing closer to freedom. Within minutes, they slowed to catch their breaths, happily marveling their work. They looked at one another with breathy chuckles, and slow nods, some fighting back tears. Bracing themselves, they let out spirited shouts and rushed forward at the webbed barrier. The impact shattered it to oblivion as they tumbled to the grass.

The surrounding Pokémon had dropped whatever they were doing to watch the Legendaries beat against their prison walls. When they broke through, they squealed out of surprise and ran for cover, but they went unheeded as the escapees expressed their mirth with cheers, dances, and tight hugs all around. There was a sense of victory present, of a battle won. It was a moment where they forgot their predicaments to congratulate one another.

It was only when Mesprit looked back to see Mewtwo seemingly unaware of their escape did the mood darken up. Pulling away from the group to rush to his side, she touched his shoulder. “Mewtwo, are you still with us?” she gasped out in worry. “Are you doing all right?”

There was a long moment before he closed his eyes, letting out a slow breath. She loosened up a little, still near to tears. Celebi floated up to her, sadly gazing at the wounds on the clone's thin form. The happy occasion now ended, everyone advanced solemnly to see the damage for themselves. They gaped down at the blood caked on his fur and the small streams still freshly running down. Manaphy stumbled forward, fighting back a sob as he grasped a paw and held it close. Mewtwo didn't even flinch.

Darkrai hesitantly stepped before the unresponsive psycat and reached out to lay a hand on his forehead. Almost immediately, he drew back to drag Cresselia in his place, pressing her paw to the same spot. She shivered just as quickly. “H-He's... fallen ill,” she murmured shakily. “I don't know if it's blood loss or shock... but he's gone through so much, I'm so surprised he hasn't...” Her counterpart released her so she could pull back. “He needs medical attention.”

“Or a body,” Giratina gave his insight. Some of his peers glanced over with confused looks. He then awkwardly corrected himself, “A familiar touch, is what I meant. We don't know what has been going on the past few days, however, if we take his words to Mew—or this Legion—into concept, his heart's breaking under pressure. You can't blame him for it. You'd go mad yourself if your loved one wasn't themselves for some time, wouldn't you agree?”

The swan found herself looking over at the phantom, frowning. “You have a point there... but unfortunately, Mew is inaccessible, and those of us with healing gifts are still weak. We are to resort to herbs for his health for the time-being.” She turned to spot an Omanyte peeking out from behind a bush nearby. It jumped when they made eye-contact. “Please don't be alarmed,” she cooed, clasping her paws together. “Tell us, are there any medicinal herbs here? Our friend here is very sick.”

The Pokémon took one look at Mewtwo before it squealed and scurried off for the lake.

The group stared in bafflement after it for a few moments until Deoxys broke the silence, scoffing and crossing his arms. “Nice going, Cress.

Shaking her head at him, Cresselia turned her attention back to Mewtwo. Frowning at the crystalline ropes, she reached out to pull them off only to back off when he gave a sharp hiss of pain. “Jirachi, Mesprit, how confident are you two?”

The Wish-Maker bowed his head. “I personally won't guarantee a good recovery,” he melancholy sighed out. “He's been in such critical condition for so long—not to mention he's several times our size—we may end up neglectful.”

“We'll do our best, Cress,” Mesprit spoke up almost hurriedly, giving an assuring smile. “If the two of us work together, we may at least be able to get him to his feet.” She shot an aside look to Jirachi. “Let's untie him.”

They were stupefied at the complexity, thickness, and hardness of the ropes. Instead of being tied on, it looked like Mewtwo was lassoed to the tree. The group stared at the crystal it was attached to, glancing over at each other worriedly. “We have to destroy it, don't we?” Articuno murmured, folding her wings.

“It shouldn't be an option,” Dialga said in bewilderment. “These are linked to the life-force of the Tree. There's no telling what'll happen if we kill a crystal.”

His rival raised an eye ridge at him. “'Kill a crystal',” he repeated blankly.

“You know what I mean! This is work of aura, I thought you knew that!”

“So you're suggesting that if one of these crystals are destroyed, it may lead to potential death?”

“To the Tree!”

Deoxys guffawed. “That's the dumbest theory I've heard. Okay, yeah, the aura part I can get, but just getting rid of one—count it, one—flippin' spire spells disaster for this humongous thing.

Darkrai stepped in. “Dialga does have a point. Aura keeps this Tree alive. If not done correctly, we can kill the Tree.”

But who the hell knows how to use aura here? Isn't Mew the Tree's guardian?

“Anyone can use aura, Deoxys,” Rayquaza scoffed.

Then you show us how it's done, smartypants!

Rolling his eyes with a groan, Heatran pushed by the alien to pause at the spire. With a side glance at the group, he dashed his skull into the side, chipping off an ample piece. The crystal flickered rapidly, turning to a tranquil color of green for a short moment before the glow faded. After a quick study, the Lava Dome Pokémon bit a chunk off, chewed savoringly and swallowed it. With a huff, he raised a foot and stamped it to dust before spitting on it. “You're welcome,” he gruffly grunted, stomping back to his place.

The Legendaries remained rooted where they stood, gaping at the pile with incredulous looks, some blinking stupidly at what they had witnessed. Giratina glanced down at Heatran, mouthing for a few moments before blurting out, “What the hell was that?! Was that it?! No fiery explosions or pieces flying everywhere?!”

Leaning away from the renegade, Deoxys nodded in swift agreement. “Yeah... what he said.” He then noticed a sinister glint from off to the side, and looked over. He exclaimed in surprise at the abandoned whip. “Oh God, it's still hideous! Heatran, do something!

Everyone looked over and froze upon seeing the bloodied weapon not far off from where they stood. A nauseous few turned away, trying to get the horrid memory out of their heads. It was only after Dialga got the courage to push himself forward and stomp it to pieces did the tension loosen up. After kicking them around, the time guardian returned to the others, twitching and shuffling his feet around in the grass.

Shaking her head around to snap out of her state, Mesprit snatched Jirachi's hand to drag him over to Mewtwo, only to pause before the clone. Though it was his first major movement, it wasn't what they were expecting from him. He was curling up against the trunk, clutching his stomach, staring feverishly at the ground, and cold sweat began to develop on his brow. He raised a shaky hand to his mouth, breathing heavily and swallowing in between. With a gasp stuck in her throat, the fairy rushed over to hold him steady, wincing at the intense body heat. “Mewtwo, you need to calm yourself down, stabilize your breathing!”

Cresselia spun around for the lakeside, reaching in to pull out a couple of thick weeds before hurrying over. She pressed them to his forehead, cursing softly at their short length. “Mesprit, Jirachi, clean those wounds, they may be getting infected.” When they jumped into action, she looked over her shoulder at the group. “Are there any herbs around here?”

A few cast their eyes about in response while others shrugged. Manaphy scurried for the lake, exclaiming out “I'll check for salveyo weed!” before diving in.

The swan scowled. “Latias!” she snapped out, startling the female. “You know the Tree well! Are there any herbs around here?”

She panicked a little, darting around nervously. “U-Uh, um... this is a huge field... I don't know which one we're in. They're somewhere, but I don't think they're in this specific field.”

“Damn it,” she hissed. “You bums go help her look!” she shot an order at the Legendaries.

Suddenly, Mewtwo lurched forward in a coughing fit, and she looked down to see blood drip from between his fingers. Her eyes widened in fright, unable to bring herself to gasp upon backing away. Mesprit and Jirachi paused for a look themselves, their faces immediately paling. When he was reduced to shivers, the psycat slowly pulled his hand away to allow the dark liquid to dribble out of his mouth.