There are many readers who have been patient with me and put up with this long absence, and there are many readers who will like to scourge me. So if you are here reading this, I am so, so sorry. I don't expect to be forgiven for taking so long with this chapter, but writing it turned out to be a difficult task. What was originally all one huge chapter I have decided to split into three parts, because I realized it would not get finished otherwise.
Luckily for all of us, the second part shouldn't take long. I can 100% guarantee that much.
In the meantime, I really do not like the second half of this chapter, because it was one of the many banes of the past three years. But at least it's finished, and I'm just going to let it go as it is.
I hope you enjoy. And welcome to the climax.
Chapter Twenty: Requiem I
“Father in Heav'n, we do believe
The promise thou hast made;
Thy word with meekness we receive,
Just as thy Saints have said”
-- “Father in Heaven, We Do Believe”, Hymn 180, verse one
It was apparent they had outrun the cells, but the small group refused to cease their running. Giratina remained in the back for their sake, occasionally whipping his tail about violently in the off-chance anything was about to attack. Up front, Shaymin had gone into her Sky Forme, mainly to be less of a burden as she couldn't run far on stubby legs, but also as preparedness for any ambushes. Darkrai and Cresselia had been sticking close since the run, their hands tightly intertwined.
Within a short time, they came upon a fork in the tunnel. Growling, the dragon glanced behind him. “Dammit...”
Shaymin shuffled between the two entrances. “Oh, which way?” she muttered, growing a little frustrated herself.
“We have to separate,” the phantom said hurriedly, gesturing to the tunnel on his right. “Giratina and I will go down that way.”
“Way ahead of you,” he grunted, ducking inside.
The lunar swan held tight when her counterpart moved to follow him. “Darkrai, no! I won't leave you!”
He turned to her. “I'm sorry, Cress, but we don't have a choice.”
“Yes, we do! I don't mind being with Shaymin, or even Giratina... but I want to be with you!” With a sob, she threw herself at him, burying her face into his neck.
Her sudden motion made him freeze in place for a moment, feeling a barrage of emotions rushing through him. Given the situation they were in, the peril was growing by the second. He didn't know what to make of it, whether the current event brought out lost emotions in her, or if it was on a spur of the moment. He caught the terrier's eye to see how surprised she was at the sight, however, a closer look showed a softening of the gaze and the hint of tears forming deep in them. Glancing down at the swan, he took notice of how much she changed, physically and mentally.
He remembered the earlier years back when she glowed with health, where her down and wings would shimmer in the moonlight. Her attitude was different then as well. She had understood her duty, and held it with high regard, first if not second to caring about everyone. Toward him, however, she had developed a sassy attitude, possibly a trigger for the long rivalry. They had always argued over the dumbest things, and yet deep down she tried hard to get to know him, to learn about his motives, his likes and dislikes. Because of that, over time the arguments became scarce, and her attitude softened with him.
He wondered a lot about the sincerity of it. She was such a happy creature compared to his pessimism, it was apparent they were opposites. Despite that, she had given her all to finally get him to open his heart. Her determination to bring out his true self was one of the reasons he had fallen in love with her. Who knows if she had seen it from the start, he was good at keeping his emotions under control, so it took him longer to act. When he did, it turned out to be the turning point of his—their lives. Taking her previous examples to heart, he had given her a century of happiness they hoped wouldn't end. Entrusting her to bear his son was the best decision he had ever done.
Lost in the wave of memories, he almost didn't hear Giratina's impatient bark behind him. “Darkrai, move your ass, or I'm leaving you.”
On impulse, thus disregarding the fact there were witnesses, Darkrai cupped Cresselia's face, and pressed a passionate kiss to her mouth. She let out a muffled gasp, but held tight and returned it quickly and tearfully. Whether from the kiss or the awed stares, they both felt the awkward tingle run along their spines just to dismiss it, wanting this moment to be theirs to repair the bond between them. Unfortunately, that one random act wasn't enough to satisfy them both. While it did release some tension that had built up over the years and took away the doubts they had for one another, it was hardly enough to fully mend the relationship.
Reluctantly, the phantom broke the embrace, heart jumping at how profusely she was blushing. Her eyes sparkled when they opened, inwardly pleading for him to stay. Frowning, he shook his head. “I'm sorry, sugarplum,” he murmured, running a finger down her cheek. “I'll make it up to you... I promise.”
Though she felt happy he called her by her pet name, Cresselia was visibly trying hard to stop crying. “But Darkrai... this place is dangerous. We may not survive—”
“You don't know that,” he cut her off. When she flinched from the rough tone, he took a breath to calm himself down. “Have faith, dear. I never stopped believing, so why have you? Adam wouldn't have wanted that. He hoped to never see his mother cry, because of how beautiful she is when she smiles.”
She choked back a gasp. “...what? When... when did he...?”
Darkrai suddenly snapped his fingers. “Damn, I wasn't supposed to say that! He made me promise not to tell you, and I went out of my way to break it!”
“No, Darkrai, don't get angry over it!” The swan grasped his hands and held them close. “He's no longer here to say it. H-Had you told me sooner—honey, look at me—you had every right to pass it on. I would have known it was from him either way. He took after his father for a reason.”
Quickly getting over the shock, a smile appeared on his lips, and he hugged her. “Thank you,” he breathed out, allowing himself to cry. “Thank you for being his mother.”
In her heart, she could feel a burden lift itself from them, and replacing it was a familiar warmth she had nearly forgotten. She slowly parted from him, shooting him a tearful smile of thanks as she left with a speechless Shaymin. Darkrai painfully watched her go, but he sensed deep in his core all was well. He couldn't put a finger on it why he felt that way, or what made him tell her. He was sure it was his guilty conscious bursting at long last, though he could have sworn he had felt what may have been his long-lost posterity at their side, prompting him to say it instead.
He jumped when there was a tap on his shoulder, and he spun around to meet a neutral Giratina in the eye. “As sad as that parting is, I regret to inform you we're running for our lives. If what you believe is true, you two can be lovey-dovey later. For now, haul ass.”
He took one last glance down the passageway Cresselia entered and sighed, wiping at his eyes. “Did you see anyone with us?” he muttered.
The dragon's wings ruffled a little in annoyance. “Honestly, I thought I saw a kid that resembled you, but I was busy clearing my eyes—which doesn't mean anything, mind you—and he wasn't there when I looked back. Why?”
With a chuckle, the phantom just shook his head, and headed into the tunnel. “I'll tell you later.”
“No-no-no, you tell me now so you can get it off your chest,” he urged. “Who is this Adam? What do you mean Cresselia was a mother?”
He hardly glanced over his shoulder. “It never crossed your mind we had a child?”
“Tch, no. Nobody told us this—not that they tell us anything, anyway.” Giratina ducked his head to avoid cracking it against the sudden low ceiling. “All we knew was you two had gotten together. Honestly, I didn't believe it for a while, but thinking back on it now, you two were happy, weren't you?”
Darkrai nodded, feeling his gut twist up. “We were... we loved each other very much.”
“...care to say what caused you two to separate?”
“We didn't separate, we remained friends.”
“Bullshit, you two separated. Why was that?”
The ghoul began to slow down only for the dragon to prod him along. Hanging his head, he muttered, “Our son passed away.”
Giratina barely heard it, and took a moment to process the information. “Do you want to talk about it?”
“What, is it personal?”
Letting out a huff, he half-nodded in agreement. “All right, then, I'll shut up about it. But still, that was stupid of you to separate because of a child's death.”
“I told you, Giratina, we didn't separate,” Darkrai snapped, quickening his pace and turning the corner, hurrying for the exit straight ahead.
The dragon immediately slipped to his side to block his path, just scarcely catching the glazed look in the phantom's eye before he turned away. “So you say. What, you two never tried for another kid?”
“Why would we? Adam's death broke our hearts, we didn't have any pieces left to replace him with.”
“It's not replacing, you dimwit, don't you know anything about kids?”
Giratina caught himself from flinching at the cold glare he was being given, though he noticed it wasn't out of annoyance but of melancholy. He let out a long sigh before giving his answer. “No, I don't—just hear me out,” he added when Darkrai started to protest. “I may not have produced offspring in my life, but I've seen other couples with their kids. Most of the children ended up dying, leaving their family and friends behind. It's indeed very heartbreaking. Some never recover from it, but others know when to move on. About half of those parents who did would go on to have more kids, and only a small handful of them did it out of replacement.”
The specter folded his arms. “What are you trying to say, exactly?”
He rolled his eyes. “Okay, look, parents naturally love their children, and they do have that desire for more. It's implanted in their genes to have kids, you know? Well, I mean, I think sex is more desirable over kids, but the point is, they repopulate. Anyway, I'm getting off-topic. You're an idiot for separating from Cresselia.”
“We didn't separate!” he shouted. “She came up to me and asked that we would just remain friends! She's been through it as hard as I have been, stop making assumptions like that!”
“Well, ever since you 'remained friends', you haven't been happy,” Giratina countered with a sneer. “You and her were one of the happiest pairs I'd ever seen, though I didn't know why. Had you two just sat down and talked it over some more, you would have had more kids, and we wouldn't be here arguing over it.”
“Then why are you bringing it up?!”
“So you won't have this guilty conscious of yours if you die!” the renegade snarled. “Trust me, this is going to haunt you even worse in the afterlife than right now... and I don't want to watch you die anyway. We all can see there's something bothering you, you've never been the same. You love her, Darkrai, why did you postpone it?”
The phantom's brows twitched from scowling too long, and from the bubbling emotions. Turning away, he hurriedly exited the tunnel and rounded the corner. Shaking his head, the dragon followed, keeping his eye on the Legendary who soon stopped in the middle of the field. He paused a few feet behind him, shivering at the heavy aura he was giving off, and waited, not daring to prod him about it. Even with the crimson hue that bathed the area, the faint scent of rain helped add an atmosphere of hurt around the two. It made Giratina shift from uneasiness.
The silence ended when Darkrai finally murmured, “Adam was the turning point of our lives. We actually didn't plan him, not for that night, anyway. But when Cress told me the news, I was surprised, yet that shock was gone the moment I held the egg. In my hands was life she and I created... all from one simple night. Parental pride got the best of us very quickly, we were excited to welcome him to the world.
“When he hatched, we cried. I never knew newly hatched Pokémon were so beautiful, so pure. And considering what species he turned out to be, it was a wonder, maybe a miracle. I was never that pure.” He swallowed down a sob before quietly chuckling, keeping his head hung. “Adam proved to be quite a handful, so much that Cress and I rarely ever got alone-time. And by the time we did, we were always exhausted. Sometimes at night, if the day was really long, she would jokingly tell me it was all my fault, but she counted her blessings. Our son would eventually settle down after several years, and she and I discussed about having another child.”
A shaky breath expelled out sorrowfully, causing something inside of Giratina to twist. “Cresselia suggested for me to take him on a father-son trip, to show him the world outside of our island. And so I did. We were supposed to be gone for a few days... but it would be several before I dared to show my face to my worried mate. Right after I told her the horrible news, I fled, hiding myself far outside of Sinnoh. I... I lost all track of time. I couldn't remember where I was or why I chose it to begin with. And yet, I knew why my heart kept breaking to smaller and smaller pieces. I may have been close to death when Cresselia finally found me years later—and forgave me. But she wished for us to be friends... she felt it was for the best. It was then I realized that sometime during those long months of grief, I had closed off my heart to her, which would explain why it hurt so much. She had been trying to contact me, and I couldn't answer. I remember wanting to hold her, to tell her we could still be together...”
Darkrai covered his face with a hand, vainly holding back the tears. It would be a few moments before he spoke again in a cracked voice. “I-I screwed it up... everything was my damn fault. I should have just let us be seen or transported elsewhere. What was I thinking? The humans weren't doing anything, they were just walking by! Adam would have liked to see them, but I feared their greed! How was I supposed to know a tree would crumble at that exact moment, with him under it?! I realize now it was a stupid mistake to travel through that dangerous forest, but I was convinced it was a shortcut, a freaking shortcut! The forest wasn't that big, we would have made it through in five minutes or less!”
Giratina started to fight with himself about whether to calm the phantom down or continue to let him vent his feelings. Though the confession should have made it better, it became an awkward scene, he didn't know what to do except stand there and stare. Eventually, the hidden sobs racked his core deep enough to bring a few stray tears, which he turned away in attempt to hide them.
They were like that for a few minutes, letting out the feelings they had so desperately tried to hold in. It wasn't how Darkrai wanted it, but he was grateful he had someone to lean on. Even when he was shivering from the tears, the phantom found strength to go up and pat his shoulder awkwardly, shooting him a small smile of thanks. The renegade, as astonished and embarrassed as he was to get caught, only nodded and with a wing returned the gesture.
He had to clear his throat before he would speak. “Sorry I made you go through that,” he muttered, darting his eyes over briefly. “I didn't know...”
“You meant well, Giratina,” he assured him quietly, hesitantly wiping at an eye. “I wish it hadn't been told to you, but I didn't have a choice... did I?”
“Not exactly.” The dragon let out a small huff. “Remind me to keep my mouth shut next time around.”
A sudden reverberating explosion prevented the specter from responding, startling the two to swerve around for the source. They were confused for a few seconds as to where it had come from until Giratina saw movement from above. With lightning-fast reflexes, he shoved Darkrai away with his tail and blocked an attack from Palkia by snatching his arm tightly with his wings. The claws were inches from his face, he could feel a power surging through the limb to power them up.
The Spatial Legendary chortled in amusement. “You are one quick son-of-a-bitch.”
Tossing him aside, the renegade regained his composure. “What the hell do you think you're doing?” he snapped back.
Tilting his head, a smirk twitched from the corner of his mouth. “I ambushed you, what did you expect? It was I, however, who did not expect the fabric of space to be as loud as it was, but what can you do.”
The phantom's brows furrowed in confusion as he shuddered. “Palkia, are you okay? What happened the last couple of days?”
He scoffed, not bothering to break eye-contact from Giratina. “Have you two already forgotten? Dialga and I have waited for you all to show up.”
Almost on cue, appearing from his own fabric rip came Dialga, a dark expression on his face as he towered over Darkrai. When his gaze shot between the two surprised Legendaries, he chuckled huskily. “Well, well, the cowards came back. Wanted a do-over to abandon us properly, I presume?”
The similar haunting words of Regice came back to their attention, and they stared in disbelief at the two guardians. “You too? You two think we left you behind?” The ghostly dragon shook his head. “We never would have dared to ditch you guys, but we didn't really have a choice.”
“Ah ha, so you do confess!” Palkia exclaimed, his eyes lighting up. “This is easier than we thought, we were hoping to beat it out of you.”
Darkrai peered them in the eye, noticing something was off in the gazes and aura. Upon passing a glance at his companion, he knew they were both sensing the same thing. “You can't fool us, we know who you really are. It doesn't take a genius to know Dialga and Palkia wouldn't say such things about us.”
“You haven't been around them for as long as I have,” his companion muttered to the side, though he quickly added, “but they aren't as harsh about it.”
The two deities laughed darkly through their teeth. “Then identify us,” the Spatial Legendary remarked, “and we will let them go.”
A bead of sweat developed on his temple, but the phantom held his head up high. “You are followers of Legion, who else would you be?”
Turning to look at one another, the guardians smirked wickedly, and glinted back at them. “I suppose that was... obvious,” Dialga drawled. “No matter how hard we have tried, we could never get their personalities down. We contemplated on possessing the others, but Legion was very specific.”
“Quit stalling, demon!” Giratina barked out, gritting his teeth. “We called you out, now let them go!”
His stare hardened. “You really need to learn to keep your mouth shut.”
“Now, now, he has a point,” Palkia said, waving a hand. “They did identify who we are.”
“Then there is no reason why you should be stalling!” the dragon snarled, the spikes on his wings pointing at the giants.
The grin on his face sharpened, and his eyes glowed menacingly. “However, they did not identify us by name.”
Darkrai's eyes blazed in response, his hands clenching tightly. “You tricked us!”
He cackled, the winged plates on his back fanning out. “On the contrary, you tricked yourself. I merely asked a simple request, and you blew it. Thus, we keep the bodies.”
Giratina's wings spanned out as well, kicking up a small wind. “Then we'll fight you for them!”
The duo crowed some more. The phantom turned to his companion with a look of horror on his face. “You can't be serious,” he gasped out.
He side-glanced at him. “It's not like we have a choice, do we?” he muttered bitterly.
“Yes, we do! We don't have to fight them!”
“We must, Darkrai.”
“They're our friends!”
“Not at the moment, they aren't.”
Darkrai started becoming hysterical at the thought, shaking his head swiftly the entire time. “Y... Y-You can't be serious! It doesn't matter who took them over, they're still our friends, Giratina!”
“Enough of this nonsense, we have a duty to uphold!” Dialga snapped out of his laughter, the jewel on his chest glowing brightly. “We shall kill you and be on our way! There are two spirits here who are just dying to take over your bodies for themselves!”
“I thought we went over this,” Palkia grunted to his rival, scowling. “You said I can get another body if it is bigger than this one.”
“Yes, yes, I know the agreement,” he sighed loudly in the middle of his statement. “You got lucky.”
“I just realized something,” came the addition at the end, much to the Time Guardian's annoyance. “The body you have is bigger than Giratina's.”
“That means I get to have his body, and you can keep the one you have! The other two don't care who they get.”
“Will you shut the hell up, I am trying to concentrate here!” Dialga barked, ramming his side. He looked over at his targets just to find they had disappeared. “Hey, what the...?”
Palkia cracked his knuckles. “No problem, I got this. Oh, you may have to throw up a shield—just in case,” he added.
When Dialga braced himself, he let out a bellow, and gathered power in the space surrounding him, his body quaking under the pressure. The pearls on his shoulders powered up, and when they reached their limit, he roared again and clapped once. A visible ripple extended out in a conical fashion, ripping apart anything it touched. Two shadows near the exit suddenly writhed, and anguished cries were heard echoing on the waves. Forced from the ground back to physical forms were Giratina and Darkrai, rolling in violent agony on the grass. The sight caused the attacker to laugh maniacally, though his counterpart rose a brow.
“Did you even do it right?” he questioned off to the side.
Palkia choked for a second, swerving to glare at him. “That was a warning, you smart-ass!” he growled, then repeated louder, “That was a warning shot! I recommend you surrender, or you shall perish!”
Giratina's growl came out more of a gurgle when he slowly lifted himself up. Darkrai hurriedly shook his head, reaching out to stop him, albeit weakly. “D-Don't do it, Giratina. They're trying t... to get us riled up to attack.”
The dragon glanced down at him, a stern frown on his face. “We can't out-run them, what with the powers of time and space on their side,” he pointed out. “There's no other way.”
“They want us to hurt them!” the phantom gasped out, shakily getting to his feet. “We hurt them... we hurt our friends!”
His wings drooped a little as his expression softened. “I know.”
“I ask you one more time: surrender or perish!” Palkia barked, his hands clenching tightly. “We were ordered to kill if any of you refused to cooperate! Do not get it in your heads we will be more lenient than Legion!”
“Calm down,” his rival snorted, rolling his eyes, “the more you get riled up, the less you keep control of—”
“Yes, yes, I KNOW!” he snapped out, glaring at his companion. “But these two are pissing me off!”
“They have not done anything yet.”
As the two went back into an argument, Darkrai watched as a small smirk molded itself on Giratina's mouth. “What are you thinking?” he whispered, leaning in.
With a quiet chuckle, he bent down, raising his wings up to act as a canopy. “It seems our demons have anger issues,” he snickered through his teeth.
“More like he's impatient,” the ghoul gave his insight, though a brow rose. “What are you suggesting? Stalling some more?”
His head bobbed from side-to-side. “Somewhat. We can do a little keep-away and make him break.”
“Giratina, he has ability to distort space. He can make it where we run around in loops and never get anywhere.”
“But you felt what happened. The real Palkia would've focused on one small area where we were instead of everything.” His eyes sparked. “He has no idea what to do with the powers.”
“We know that, but what is the plan?”
“We make a rip in the fabric of space and shove him in there.”
Darkrai crossed his arms defiantly. “I am not trapping a friend in between dimensions. And besides, who knows what he would do to it.”
“What if it's antimatter?”
The specter gaped for what may have been a full minute. He searched Giratina's face for any sign he was just spitting out ideas or making jokes. “...you don't mean...?”
“None of them will be able to get out without my consent. We'll keep them in there until after everything is over and done with.”
“I-Is that even possible?!” he wheezed out, realizing he hadn't been breathing the whole time. “And can you even open one up?!”
“The Distortion World was pretty much an antimatter dimension,” the dragon scoffed. “Not that you would remember or even know, you never visited.”
Before Darkrai could find the words to speak again, there was a roar beside them. Whipping a wing away, the two stared up at a poised Palkia with wild eyes and bared teeth about to smash his fists into them. Quickly, they jumped backward so the ground would take the impact, feeling the violent vibes of the attack even in levitation.
“NO MORE TALK, NO MORE STALLING! YOU ARE GOING TO DIE NO MATTER WHAT!”
Though it was obvious he wasn't thrilled with the Spatial Legendary's sudden actions, Dialga went ahead to follow behind, the diamond on his chest-plate glowing brightly. Giratina was too focused on dodging Palkia's fist-swinging to notice. Darkrai's eyes widened, knowing time was about to be affected.
“Dialga, snap out of it, please!” he begged, unsure what to do in this situation. “We're sorry we left you behind, we didn't mean to! But you asked us to go on, you and Palkia both! You all did!”
The scarlet eyes seemed to have widened in remembrance for a split-second, but the possessed look remained dominant. “You waited too long to rescue your friends. No matter what you do now, the rescue attempt will have been all in vain.” A horrifying grin flashed on his face. “You should know how death works. Your friends were already dead when we possessed them.”
“YOU LIE!” Giratina shrieked out, startling the phantom. He looked over to find him headbutting the smaller Legendary in the chest, knocking him into the rocky walls. He noticed the same smile on Palkia, and he couldn't help wondering if these two demons were giving the same exact message.
“What he said,” he muttered, feeling a wave of anger rise up inside him. His fists shook at his side.
Dialga cruelly laughed, though the echoes weren't his. “Do not worry, your body will be in... good hands. Wish I could say the same about your spirit.” Letting out a roar, he charged forward.
Darkrai sharply slipped into a nearby shadow to transport himself several feet behind the beast. Phasing back to his solid form, he watched him glance around in puzzlement before his eye glinted upon spotting him. He noticed the fins spreading out on his back when he turned around.
“I do not wish to fight you, Dialga,” he announced boldly, knowing Giratina wouldn't be happy with him.
A wicked smirk flashed on the dragon's face. “Let us see.”
The specter braced himself, feeling a rise of power emitting from Dialga's body. The gem burned to a white light, a ring of indigo light illuminating above his head. The two other Legendaries, claws interlocked as they tried to shove the other off, briefly looked over when they felt an unknown weight in the atmosphere. Giratina would have slammed Palkia into the wall had he not eyed Darkrai's erect stance, looking as though he was before a firing squad. He bellowed at him to move out of the way, though time was being stretched closer and closer to a halt the more the deity's attack powered up, slowing down his speech the moment he enunciated his first word.
As he was the only one unaffected by slow motion, Dialga let loose the beam when he roared, time bursting around him. He had failed to see a gradual radiant film falling about his target's form. It glowed a brilliant blue by the time the attack reached him, activating a reverberating beat as it bounced back to hit himself instead. However, instead of pain from the impact, it felt as though an area in his brain blocked itself off, causing the beam to dissipate into nothingness, leaving everything unscathed.
“What the hell happened?!” he growled in shock, an eye twitching.
Giratina finally caught up with his voice, quickly locking up his jaw to stop a droning gibberish he wasn't consciously aware sounding out. Face scrunched up, he grumbled, “The hell was I saying?” His attacker had a brow raised, confused about what was going on, but let it pass.
Darkrai's aura faded the moment he slumped and gasped for breath. “There... I disabled your most powerful move. I-It should last... a while.”
It took a moment for it to register. Once it clicked in, Dialga snarled. “I am going to enjoy stomping your body into the ground!” He lunged for the phantom who managed to side-step. Gritting his teeth, he swung his tail into the phantom's ribs, knocking him across the field.
Shoving Palkia away, Giratina swiftly flew for the bigger Legendary, headbutting him aside. He barely found his balance when the spatial deity transitioned before him and kicked him down. With quick reflexes, his wings snatched the leg and flipped him over, taking care to harshly smack Dialga with his tail when he came up from behind. A maddening thought came to his mind, briefly forgetting the nature of the deceivers, only seeing them as they were physically.
“You bastards have no idea how long I've waited for a battle with us three all at once,” he venomously whispered, feeling a laugh bubble in his throat.
A fanged smirk appeared on Palkia's face as he picked himself up. “We figured you have,” he chuckled. “Three equally-powered legends fighting to the death.”
“Think of the chaos it would create,” Dialga added as he stood up. “We were forbidden to ever meet, and yet here we are.”
The specter scoffed, shaking the dirt off him. “Funny how it's like no one ever cares we're in the same area. We just go back to where we came from after it was all over.”
“It is a little bizarre, but it would have been a little too obvious.” The pink dragon's wings spread out even further, a menacing light glinting off them. “Now that we are far from the others, we can fight to our hearts' contentments.”
“I am afraid I am at a disadvantage, though,” the Temporal Legendary mentioned, his face darkening. “It was dick move to disable my signature attack.”
His rival nodded. “Such a shame. This could have become a more interesting fight.”
Giratina leered over at him to make eye-contact. “I personally would've preferred a hand-to-hand combat. The humans had a name for it.”
“Mano y mano?”
“The proper term is actually 'mano a mano',” Dialga corrected.
“Such a peculiar phrase. Humans were rather interesting, if stupid.” The two snickered. “They believed anything you told them without another thought.”
“Such close-minded creatures, and so prone to anger if you ever so much as told them they were wrong.”
“Had the unfortunate tragedy not happened, they would have killed themselves off.”
“How much you want to bet that was some 'tender mercy' so they would not have to subject themselves to such humiliation?”
“Even if it was, there would at least be a few humans still left.”
“Giratina, why the long face? I thought you despised the human race.”
“That is true, you always spoke ill of them.”
He never once looked away from Palkia when the two were bouncing off each other. No registered emotion had gone through him until they directly asked him to join. There was something off about this behavior. They were standing in the middle of a battlefield, and yet talked as though they were good friends—in which the thought triggered memories.
They never once liked each other. On Ho-oh's orders, they had no other choice but to learn to get along. Those two months in their dimensional home were very long and painful. Every day, he had fought the urge to beat them into submission when they got on his nerves over and over again. They had so many verbal arguments, it was a wonder they didn't knock off the balance of space and time. It was like a godsend when Ho-oh fetched for them for that meeting, he was in need of fresh air. Then the world died, and his hopes of being alone in his dimension were dashed. He was forever stuck with these two, the two deities he detested from the beginning.
And yet... as time went on in the group, as much as he liked his privacy, he had found himself beginning to enjoy the company of everyone. Dialga and Palkia still did piss him off, but it wasn't as bad as it had used to be. They never talked a whole lot on their own time, still he had become more tolerant. The two, who had such a huge rivalry since the beginning, managed to put aside their differences in their conversations—for the most part. They never looked like they were at each others' throats anymore, it was a surprising change. Before Giratina knew it, he couldn't feel the hate anymore from both them and himself.
He had seen these two as acquaintances, only to realize they had a stronger bond than that. If anything, they were friends. But his memories of his life before his exile never left him, always giving a little prick to remind him of who they really were: a unique trio created specifically to keep the world in balance. Without one or the other, everything would fall apart.
They were like brothers.
The two weren't far off saying he despised the humans, but he had never exactly wished death on the entire race. After all, he was in charge of being the caretaker of the dead, and damning the blackened souls. It was his curse, a curse he further defiled by consuming flesh from time to time. While it made him a little more feared, it only added to his sentence in Hell. That wasn't his job to lure them in for food. An unsung legend of the dead fearing the Reaper; no wonder they kept going to Darkrai.
“Is there something wrong, Giratina?” Palkia's voice reached his subconscious, returning him to the present. Something inside him jumped at the sight of his cool stare. “Have your ghosts returned? Funny, I thought you lost that position months ago.”
“Yeah, that is pretty funny,” Dialga blurted out, earning him a glare.
As truthful as it was, he looked away, wishing he could see the throng of terrified spirits that used to greet him. It was apparent the Tree was devoid of them, he would have already noticed a few here and there for a brief moment when they first stepped foot on the grounds. He instead settled, much to his relief, on Darkrai across the way, who was struggling to walk on his rarely-used legs, looking too nauseous to levitate. Giratina didn't know where he could have landed, though judging by the amount of blood pouring down his face, he sustained a serious injury. The phantom paused to catch his breath, giving them a few moments to gaze at one another.
A wave of fear fell upon him at that moment. Why was he so worried? Could it be they were so close to death? They were in such a fragile state breaking in, it was as though they were challenging death itself, he explicitly said so himself they could die. Were they immortal, they would be charging at each other carelessly, knowing they couldn't destroy their bodies so easily. Time had finally caught up to them here, reminding them of the danger they were in. He hadn't terribly injured himself anywhere, yet there was Darkrai, broken and ready to drop dead at any second. But his eyes gave it away that he wasn't afraid, despite having a mate waiting for him.
...no, Darkrai is afraid, overshadowed by determination for her—for their son. And for the future.
Giratina caught himself looking back to Palkia before he could return to his stoic nature. The demonic eyes flashed as a toothy grin spread on his face. “How interesting. Even Death has feelings.” He tilted his head a little. “Such a pity. You would have easily been one of our strongest had you just succumbed yourself to us.”
He scowled as hard as he could. “That was millennia ago, a heart can change over time. Not that you would know anything about hearts, considering you don't have one of your own.”
Hatred fell across the deity's eyes. “Not to worry. I will possess yours soon enough.” A glowing arm rose up into the air high as it could go, and he swung it down, releasing energy doing so.
Giratina reacted instantly. With a smirk, his forehead blinked a light blue before he disappeared into thin air as a shadow. The two deities and Darkrai gaped at the spot he was at, watching the blade tear through the space at Dialga. He moved to dodge it only to be caught by a blunt blow behind, shoving him forward. The spectral dragon immediately stepped back when the large Legendary took the attack head-on and crashed into a surprised Palkia. The collision caused the rend to backfire on itself when it hit the source of its power. A cracked pearl on his shoulder shattered as the surrounding space ripped apart and became distorted into itself, bringing about a strong pull toward the center.
What it opened up into shocked them, half-expecting there to be empty space. Instead, filling up that space were numerous amounts of floating, shapely eyeballs moving about in spirals in an orderly fashion. Their hypnotic, indecipherable chant steadily came to a halt as they individually paused what they were doing to look upon them.
Darkrai and Giratina gaped at the dimension, finding it nearly an incredible sight. Dialga and Palkia, once they found their bearings, were confounded. “What... what the hell is this?” the space deity breathed out.
Numerous eyes blinked at once, sending them into convulsions. “This is unreal,” his opposite growled. “I have never seen this place before.”
One of the nearby eyeballs dared to advance closer, its extensions squirming in excitement. It squeaked an untranslatable string of language, hints of tears shimmering in its depths. The others began to surround them like curious children, each chanting repeatedly in growing happiness. The large Legendaries started to swipe at them, bellowing at them to leave.
The phantom, who had fallen to his knees from lack of strength, found it hard to speak up. “A... Amazing... the Unown are still...”
“Persistent little bastards, I'll give them that,” the dragon muttered with a nod. “But... now that I think about it, it does make sense. Had they gone extinct, we wouldn't be here.”
“Do you think they know?”
After a pause to allow the deities' roars and the continuous chants to sink in, Giratina tilted his head down at Darkrai. “Eh... yes, and no.”
“STOP SWARMING, DAMN IT!” Dialga hollered. He quickly formed a silver ball of light in his mouth to fire it at the Unown, which they quickly dodged without interruption.
Palkia swerved over at the two with piercing eyes. “What the hell did you summon?! Is this some kind of a joke?!”
The renegade gave a slight shrug, hiding a smirk. “They seem to like you two.”
Letting loose a primeval call, his body violently shook as the ground and some crystals uprooted themselves. Swiping his arms before him, it shot forward as a shockwave directly at the specters. They attempted to leap out of the way until several of the Unown suddenly jumped in front and swiftly rotated in a tight circle in a glowing light. When the attack hit, they pushed it back with equal force, throwing Palkia and Dialga into the crowd. Because of their numbers, they caught them and held them into place, preventing a struggle. Several squeaked out in a demanding tone, and pushed them into their dimensional home.
“Impossible!” the Spatial Legendary growled, attempting to whip his head around. “What are these devils?! Where are they taking us?!”
“They're taking you home,” Darkrai responded, smiling gratefully up at the spinning creatures. “You are their masters, after all.”
“Are these imbeciles blind?!” Dialga snarled, unable to even move an inch in his confined space. “Do they not know who we are?!”
“Chances are they do, and they're bringing back the real Dialga and Palkia inside their own home,” Giratina said, knowing he was bluffing, but hoped it was the truth. “I don't know how long you can survive there if at all. But since your bodies are made specifically for phasing through dimensions, you should be fine.” He bent down at the phantom's level to hiss, “Wave to them,” and straightened back up to flap his wing in farewell.
Darkrai blinked, yet went along with it.
“Stop mocking us!” Palkia shrieked, an eye twitching at the surreal world he was in. “We are demons, hand-picked by Legion himself to handle this task! We shall never lose to these freaks of nature!” He strained himself to claw at them, but it was at that moment the Unown released their hold on them, so he ended up spinning around and flipping upside-down. “Damn, how do you work this dimension?!”
The Time Guardian slowly began rotating from the zero gravity, his limbs flailing about as he struggled to find his balance. “Shit, this is not good. Legion is going to exile us for sure.”
Giratina finally burst out laughing at the sight, startling his companion. “You are the most pathetic demons we've seen! What are you two, novices?”
“Shut up! When we get back there, I am going to—bwah!” Palkia's threat was cut short when a stray Unown smacked him in the face with a squeak before floating off. It made the spectral dragon laugh harder. “That is it, I have had it!”
“Good answer,” came a sudden retaliation from the side before the spatial dragon started to go into spasms as he screamed and clutched his head.
Dialga glanced over in annoyance. “What has gotten into you?”
“N-No! I shall never surrender to a mortal!”
Darkrai snapped his head up with a gasp. “Can it be?”
Catching his breath, Giratina grinned. “About time you showed up.”
“Why did you allow the Unown to release them?” He and the phantom glanced over their shoulders, taking in the outline of the real Dialga boldly standing there. “They're struggling too much, it's gonna be hard to take ourselves back. But no matter, we'll push ourselves back into this world.” And with a blur, he disappeared before their very eyes. It was seconds later the larger imposter started to thrash about as well, gritting his teeth and hissing out swears.
The Unown continued to circle them as they writhed and screamed out curses, watching carefully and squeaking strings of chants. The spectral dragon then noticed each of the Symbol Pokémon were developing a crimson glow. Using his wing, he tapped his companion on the shoulder before stepping back. Wordlessly and without taking his eyes off the sight, Darkrai got to his feet and hobbled backward.
Palkia seemed to have noticed their movement, and he bared his teeth at them. “Stop gawking, this... is nothing!” When one of the strange Pokémon floated by, his eyes widened in horror at the color it emitted. “What the...?”
Coming to an abrupt halt, the Unown let out a hum, the light growing in luminosity. Dialga let out an animalistic roar, shooting out a random Aura Sphere in desperation just for the Pokémon to dodge with ease. Then in unison, red beams shot out from their eyeballs, enshrouding the two in a bubble to immobilize. Volts of electricity immediately began electrocuting them, and having been caught off-guard, they were susceptible to the pain. Their screams were like nothing they had heard as though they were penetrating space and time. The two Legendaries vainly covered their ears and recoiled, biting back cries of their own.
The electricity and voices then trailed off, leaving behind their paralyzed bodies. The sphere then faded along with the sinister crimson glows, and the Unown resumed circling around the two deities. When it was apparent they weren't going to move, they tightened the circle, and slowly transported them beyond the exit. The two specters waited for them to place them on the ground before they approached. Darkrai shivered at their blank, wide-eyed stares, feeling there was something off about them.
Giratina took notice, frowning. “I think that was a little too much...”
The phantom sighed. “Doesn't make sense... what just happened, exactly?” He glanced over. “Are they...?”
“They better not be,” the dragon muttered, lowering a wing to nudge Dialga's side, flinching at the static. “I hope the Unown knew what they were doing, or a certain dimension is getting ripped apart.”
One of the Pokémon then squeaked and spun around, sounding and appearing rather happy. They looked up with puzzled expressions. “We... can't exactly understand you,” the ghoul pointed out, shaking his head.
It made a gesture as though it was smacking itself with an extension, then began spinning around above the motionless bodies. After blinking up at it, they turned their attentions to Dialga and Palkia, brows furrowed in worry. They flinched a little when the two closed their eyes, but nothing more came afterward. Gingerly, Darkrai stepped closer, reaching out to lift an eyelid.