(Epilogue of Episode VII)
As Lucario's eyes slowly opened up, he could not help but notice that he was still not seeing anything. The world was shrouded in the same darkness his eyelids had provided, and it took his scrambled mind a few moments to reboot and let him remember exactly where he was. Looking around the cave he and Mew had taken shelter in, he saw that unlike before there was no longer any light seeping in from outside. He knew now without a doubt that night had fallen, and that his daily rhythm had become screwed up beyond belief. Not that it was necessarily a bad thing - Mew had preferred that they travel by night, so if they had to stop for sleep at some point it would have to be during daytime.
He thought about Mew and looked around the cave, seeing nothing but faint outlines of how the walls were formed in the darkness. Still not sensing her aura in the least, he prepared his toes for getting stubbed on one of the million indents in the ground as he got up and began walking towards where he remembered the exit being.
A faint light began caressing the walls of the cavern as Lucario made it around a corner, seeing that while it was night outside, the world was bathed in an eerily white glow. By the mouth of the cave he saw Mew, floating motionlessly and staring into the sky, positively shining in the peculiar light.
"Hey," Lucario said quietly as to not scare her, "What're you doing?"
"The moon..." Mew responded breathlessly while still looking up, apparently aware of his presence before he had even said anything, "It is so bright, this night."
"Huh?" Lucario exclaimed, before following Mew's gaze to the lit sky. The moon was no longer a tiny circle hiding somewhere in the heavens, but rather a gigantic orb covering up large parts of the sky. Lucario shuddered as he remembered that he had always hated it when the moon came so close, worrying that it would be pulled in by gravity and crash down on them. Still, those worries were from an earlier point in his life, and he decided to man up and not make a scene about it. Silly superstition would have to take a backseat for the very real dangers he was facing nowadays.
"You really like looking at the moon, huh?" Lucario asked with a casual voice as he sat down next to her.
"Yes... It feels like seeing an old friend..." Mew spoke mostly to herself before noticing the strange expression Lucario was giving her, "Is that strange?"
"... Well... I've traveled far, but no matter where I went the moon would always be there come night," Lucario responded while trying to make sense out of what she had said, "So, I guess it's a familiar face... Just wish it actually did something."
"It made us talk, did it not?" Mew chimed in with a subtle smile on her face.
"I guess. You know, now that you mention it..." Lucario said as he thought more about what the moon meant to him, besides scaring him to no end when it was much too close for comfort, "Zerobi and I would often lie around and talk for hours on end while looking at the moon. Could've sworn she was more active at night than during the day."
"Unsurprising, if she was a Weavile," Mew said, still wondering what kind of Pokémon her best friend's sister had turned out to be. Lucario seemed to hold her in high regard, at least...
"Sure, but there was also a Zubat who was pretty cool who'd do that," Lucario continued as he thought further and further back through his journey, "And way before that, Ivy..."
"You seem to have a certain fondness attached to these memories," Mew pointed out as she finally looked at him instead of the sky, "Has your life as a Pokémon really been as terrible as you claim?"
"Hmm..." Lucario mumbled to himself and could not help but smile as several familiar faces passed through his mind, "... No. I guess not."
They became quiet as Mew continued staring at the moon. Lucario was about to suggest that maybe they should get moving, but felt that he was still just waking up and would very much prefer a few more moments to regain himself. Besides, Mew was completely transfixed at the glowing sphere in the sky, making him worry that she did not simply like the moon, but had a creepy obsession with it. Neither Zerobi nor Ivy would ever ignore him in favor of some far off satellite...
"I... Kind of miss everyone," Lucario said slowly as he felt himself hit by a pang of regret, "I wonder... Are they thinking about me?"
"On a night such as this... I believe that they are more likely to be thinking about the moon," Mew replied, sensing Lucario's anxiety and deciding to face him directly once more.
"... Yeah..." Lucario exclaimed while reluctantly looking up at the sky, his childhood fears creeping up on him once more, "Thinking about the moon... Could that be something that binds us all together, no matter where we are?"
"... If you consider that a binding force..." Mew whispered, unable to see how simply having the same thoughts at the same time could create a connection between people far away from each other.
As the two of them looked up at the prominent celestial body, another duo on a different part of the planet was busy doing the same.
- - - - - - -
"It is a natural phenomenon," Celebi explained while settling down on the ground, "The moon is drawn much closer once every month as it passes over Mt. Moon, and-"
"I know," Zerobi interrupted her before crawling into her sleeping bag, "I used to read about it. The origin of Moon Stones, right?"
Zerobi instantly regretted interrupting Celebi, as she did not want to cause a greater rift than the one their earlier fight had opened up. The quietness between them was awkward, making her realize that she would need to be the one to start conversation. Seeing how it was her sister she was talking to, she thought it would be a good idea to divulge one of her personal secrets, to maybe strengthen their bond... And make herself forget about the worst of them.
"You know, when I was small..." Zerobi whispered as her lungs ran out of air much more quickly than usual, "... I was afraid of the dark."
"So was I," Celebi responded, not wanting to appear judgmental, "But... As a Sneasel, You were able to see in the dark, no?"
"Well, yes, but it wasn't that," Zerobi said while closing her eyes, "It's that I knew true horrors would never be found in daylight. They would seek the darkness."
"That was quite assertive of you!" Celebi said happily, relieved to think that foul creatures such as Darkrai would not be able to get to her attentive sister with ease, "So? How did you get over it?"
"... I began to seek the darkness as well..." Zerobi said harrowingly, realizing that she had become what she feared so much as a child. She exhaled deeply and saw her breath take form in front of her. Like a wild beast, it rushed around for barely a second before silently dissipating into the cool air.
An impulse to indulge in her pleasures came upon her, once more being rejected as she visualized Celebi's smile in her mind. The familiar sensation she had been given from cutting into the Garchomp and Lucario was still clawing at her, begging her to do something about it. The idea of continuing the rest of her life without it was almost as horrible as the thought of murdering her only family member just for a moment of delight.
"What is bothering you, dear sister?" Celebi suddenly asked, making Zerobi twitch in fear. Had she been found out? Her sister was a legendary after all, could it be possible that... But if she truly knew, would she dare sleep unguarded mere decimeters away from the sharp objects that would claim her life in an instant?
"The fact that you actually used the term 'dear sister', dear sister?" Zerobi tried joking about it, despite feeling so low.
"I can sense that something is wrong," Celebi lied. As powerful a psychic as she was, her dark-type sister was still a complete mystery to her, and it was eating away at her like nothing else. She had delved into the very fabrics of life, analyzing everything from below the skies and above the earth, and yet her only sister that she has been seeking her entire life was still unknown to her. Perhaps this way, she could find out more about what makes her sister the way she is...
"... It's in the past," Zerobi responded slowly, still not sure as to where this conversation was going, but certain that she needed it to stop, "You know... I did stupid things to some people way back... Wish I hadn't."
"Should we seek them out so that you can apologize?" Celebi asked, thinking that this might be a good opportunity to find out more about Zerobi through her friends.
"That might be a problem, seeing how they're all dead..." Zerobi said with a hint of aggression in her voice, thinking that perhaps this would get her sister to back off.
"In that case, it is truly unnecessary for them to still be bothering you," Celebi continued both undaunted and surprisingly cheerful, "Remember, dead Pokémon do not cry!"
"... No..." Zerobi said slowly as she pulled her legs closer to her chest, exhaling deeply once more. The wind caught a hold of her breath, sending it flying away from her face before it had time to fully disappear. She watched it move higher, rising towards the moon before vanishing.
"Dead Pokémon..." she whispered slowly, "Cry forever..."
- - - - - - -
"This night..." Eve whispered as she peered outside, her eyes automatically fastening on the great glowing orb in the sky.
"Yeah," Snivy replied, not looking but hearing the strong wind smashing against the window, "Just like back then. I remember, despite being thoroughly intoxicated."
"It's funny..." Eve whispered again.
"... What?" Snivy responded, faintly remembering something about her embarrassing him in front of his peers that night and wondering if she was referring to that in some convoluted way.
"If not for Evolution's Gate, and what happened..." Eve said as she stared longingly at the few clouds passing above them, "We would never have met."
"True," Snivy muttered as he fell back into the bed, "Still the most terrible thing that has ever happened."
"Yes..." Eve continued, still in half a daze from simply being so tired yet being unable to sleep due to her troubled mind, "But knowing what we know now... If we could go back and change things... If that meant us never coming together..."
"Please, Eve," Snivy said while waving his arm around dismissively, "I love you, but unlike the possibility where I would be able to somehow prevent my pestering sister from ever being born, there's no question about it."
"I know that!" Eve replied quickly as she spun around to face him, "Just... If you were able to go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?"
"... Hmpf. If I could change the past in order to alter the present..." Snivy said cockily before a very familiar sardonic smile spread across his face, "... I would aim to change the future, instead."
They looked at each other for a moment, before Eve turned around and continued looking at the sky. The lack of attention started annoying Snivy a bit as he sat up, only to immediately fall back into bed again.
"I don't like it when you get gloomy like this," he muttered with a tinge of jealousy in his voice, "Remind me to put the curtains up before we go to bed tomorrow."
"Sorry," Eve said with a smile as she turned away from the window, "I'm just so glad that we're here together, even after all that's happened."
"Me too," Snivy mumbled before closing his eyes, "Now, let's sleep."
- - - - - - -
"Finally," Zoroark said, sighing out loud as he leaned back in his chair, "Go on, give me the report."
"Oh..." an unexpectedly meek voice came from behind him, "It's me. Astrid."
Zoroark turned around halfway and glanced lazily at the strange Eeveelution behind him, looking at him with innocent eyes. Zoroark still had problems telling the physical condition of the unique Pokémon, but could deduct from past experience what the problem was.
"Shouldn't you be sleeping?" he asked bluntly, scratching his head and only now noticing that he had developed a subtle headache at some point during his work, "Bad dreams?"
"Oh? N-No..." Astrid stammered while fidgeting around, remembering that he had been advised in the past not to show himself in public. Even so, being cooped up underground for so long had led him to miss the nightly skies quite a bit, and had figured that a little peek would not hurt... As long as no one knew about it, of course.
"Shouldn't you be the one sleeping, Zoroark?" Astrid asked casually, impressed at his own ability to seamlessly change the subject.
"While there's work to do?" Zoroark asked in return while giving off a short shrug and looking down at his workspace. Archaic mission logs... Tactically useless information regarding their opponents... An old magazine he'd found lying at the outskirts of their base of operation... Nothing of any genuine importance.
"Oh..." Astrid said quietly, wondering if maybe he could be of any help, "What kind of work?"
"Uh..." Zoroark mumbled in return, trying to think of something smart to say, "Just revisiting some old mission logs. When it comes to a delicate operation like this, keeping in touch with the past is very important."
"Oh..." Astrid repeated before giving off a curious expression, "More important than sleep?"
Zoroark sighed tiredly once more, unable to tell if Astrid was being unusually astute or, like him, simply in the mood to waste time. In his exhausted mind, he slowly realized that despite outward appearances, the two of them might have more in common than he had first thought.
"Astrid," Zoroark said before turning around to face Astrid directly, "You've also had quite a traumatic past. How do you make yourself fall asleep?"
"Huh?" Astrid exclaimed confusedly, "I just lie down, close my eyes, and... You know..."
"Really?" Zoroark asked with an impressed tone, "No bad memories or fear of nightmares keeping you awake?"
"Oh... Well, there is that," Astrid admitted as he pushed the image of Zerobi out of his mind, "But I just think about something else instead! Like, a time before all that happened! Happy times!"
"Happy times..." Zoroark repeated with a tinge of disdain in his voice. Bitterness struck him as he realized that even a heavily traumatized outcast of society was more content with life than he was. He gazed at the miniature clock by his workspace. 01:52. 56 hours straight without any sleep, which meant he should be collapsing from exhaustion any time now. A part of him actually looked forward to finally being given a moment of rest, but another part knew exactly what his sleep would entail...
"Yes. I suppose that could work," he said, trying to think of a way to get rid of Astrid while he still had the power to do so, "I'll try it as soon as I've taken care of the report, and then-"
"Wait..." Astrid interrupted him, something Zoroark would never have let happen if not for his tired state, "You've also been trauma-matic?"
"... Traumatized?" Zoroark interpreted with a quiet snicker and decided to lie, "No, no. You're thinking of yourself or that Dragonite that came by earlier. Go back to sleep, I've got to finish this by tomorrow..."
Zoroark turned around again and started rummaging through his things in an attempt to look busy. Thinking of the Dragonite and her issues made him subconsciously pull out his old notes regarding the legendary trio, complete with full biographies and potential weaknesses. From what he had found out, there was no shortage of traumatic experiences among those three either, between the Gallade's infamously poor parents, the death of Pikablu's entire family and everything that had happened to Kabutops.
Quietly, Zoroark wondered if at the very least a forgotten relic of an ancient era was as unfit for this world as he was.
- - - - - - -
"Again with the moon?" Pikablu asked, wondering once more if maybe he shouldn't have taken the longer trip to stay with the Gallade.
"Yes..." Kabutops responded while standing completely frozen with his head turned sideways upwards, "The moon... The sky... They are the only things remaining from my childhood."
Pikablu wondered what kind of terrible childhood one would have to have to only have the moon as a symbol of nostalgia, but already knew the answer as he looked at his old friend. To think that the same guy he had been joking around with all these years and shared so many drinks with was actually ancient...
"I remember first breaking the surface... Falling on my back so I could gaze upon it better..." Kabutops reminisced while budging even in the strong wind, "The incredible vastness... I felt so small..."
"If you were anything like your kids back then, you WERE small," Pikablu chuckled, remembering when he was able to carry Kabuta and her brother in the palm of his hands and suddenly felt a pang of nostalgia himself, "But... Did you really have leisure time back then? You told me every moment was a struggle just to survive."
"Yes..." Kabutops answered slowly, finally turning his head away from the sky and facing Pikablu, "Something you should be familiar with."
"Hmpf," Pikablu scoffed, "If only I could've found relief in simply looking at the moon..."
"It was... The only solitude I could find," Kabutops continued while fighting off the urge to once more lose himself in the great void above, "So quiet. So peaceful. I dreamed of growing wings so I could reach it."
"Hey now, why the hell are you getting all sappy with me!?" Pikablu growled, knowing that this was not what he had in mind when he had decided to hang out with one of the guys and once more cursing himself for not having chosen the Gallade, "Who do you think I am, Astrid? Let's talk about that hot piece of *** we saw yesterday!"
"That kind of behavior is the reason why you are sleeping with me tonight," Kabutops said, probably smiling somewhere underneath his armored shell, "Any hopes of Anne forgiving you soon?"
"Bah! She should let me live a little!" Pikablu groaned while angrily crossing his arms, "I'm starting to think she liked me better when I was suicidal!"
"... Indeed, you have changed..." Kabutops nodded before once more turning his head to the skies, "You are starting to become more and more like the Gallade, every day..."
"H-HEY!" Pikablu burst out with a hurt tone while pointing at him, "You take that back, right now! At least I still care about people, damn it!"
- - - - - - -
"I'm sure he's all right..." the Charmeleon muttered, wishing to move on to a different subject. He had long since realized that he was powerless in his struggle to soothe her mind, and could only keep it apart from her aching thoughts as much as possible.
"How could he be?" Ivy asked while glaring at the moon with a weak yet defiant expression, "We might as well have sentenced him to death, chasing him away like that. All because of that stupid prophecy..."
"Accurate or not, you did what you thought was best for everyone," the Charmeleon tried comforting her, "That took a lot of inner strength."
"I placed all my faith in the elder, and gave none to Lucario..." Ivy continued talking while seemingly ignoring his words, "What kind of friend am I?
The Charmeleon sighed. He knew that there was no slowing her down after she had been stirred up like this. Whoever this Lucario had been, he hoped the Pokémon was aware of just how much pain he was causing the sweet Ivy.
"He was right..." she whispered sadly to herself, "I'm a monster..."
"Come now, that is the worst lie I've ever heard," The Charmeleon said with a reassuring voice, "Everyone makes mistakes. A monster would have placed true malice behind its actions."
"Like that mattered to him!" Ivy snapped at him before realizing her misguided aggravations and slouched down, "Oh, you don't understand... The look in his eyes... Sadness... Regret... Complete helplessness..."
But the Charmeleon knew those eyes all too well. He was staring into a pair of them right now.
- - - - - - -
"It... It is not as peculiar as you might think," Mew said with a shaky voice as she turned her gaze back to the earth, sensing more of Lucario's anxiety and fearing that his opinion of her might be sinking, "Enjoying the moon, that is."
"Hey, I'm not pointing any fingers," Lucario said with a casual nod. The only thing bothering him about this scene was the massive body of doom looming above them, not even a light year away from bringing about the apocalypse.
"... I told you about the fate of my mother..." Mew whispered while facing Lucario.
"Oh yeah," he responded with a shrug, "Sorry about that."
"Worry not. My mother was fully aware of what would happen, and had assigned me a godmother..." Mew said as she suddenly lowered her voice, "... The moon reminds me so much of her..."
"Big and round, eh? Sounds like a typical stepmother, all right!" Lucario snickered, but stopped himself as he saw a pained expression develop on Mew's face.
"Sorry, again," Lucario apologized, not exactly sure of why. He had been stepping on toes left and right and not cared about it ever since he became a Pokémon, why would this be any different? He did not know why, but something about Mew had begun to still his brash nature.
It was not out of gratefulness from her saving his life; he had been treating Zerobi all the same right from the start. He knew it could have nothing to do with pity, either, thinking back to all the times he had made Rukario cry without any plans of stopping anytime soon. It was not even out of fear of pissing off one of the most powerful creatures in all existence; everyone from Brendan to Zoroark had only served to fuel his ire and caused him to tease them even more.
Rather, it was that despite being one of the most powerful creatures in all existence, she seemed so fragile. It was as if she would shatter if he was to go at her without holding back. But even so, why would he suddenly care about something like that...?
"She is dead," Mew suddenly said, before quickly slapping her hands to her mouth in shock, "Sorry, I should not have said that. She is not truly dead, but... Gone, rather."
Lucario looked at her strangely, too confused by his own feelings to say anything. Mew still got the message.
"She is occupied with a very important mission, and as such cannot be with me," Mew explained, trying to sound as clinical as possible and not let her true emotion show, because the last thing she wanted was to force the poor sap whose life she had irrevocably altered to pity her.
"Oh," Lucario said flatly, "When will she be back?"
"... Well, she will not," Mew replied before noticing that she had subconsciously sunk down, and straightened herself up, "Perhaps I should explain more thoroughly. Tell me, do you know anything about Darkrai?"
"Uh..." Lucario muttered as he went through the seemingly millions of meaningless names for Pokémon he had heard throughout his journey, "... No?"
"Darkrai is an ancient Pokémon that has caused trouble throughout history," Mew explained in a shortened way so Lucario would at least get the gist of it,"My godmother Cresselia took it upon herself to hunt him down and bring him to justice."
"Sounds valiant enough," Lucario said, "But she'll be back after getting him, right? Unless she... You know... Heroic sacrifice?"
"It... Is not quite that simple," Mew continued explaining, "Darkrai is a very dangerous opponent who can twist your mind and use your emotions against you. In order to combat this, Cresselia..."
Suddenly, a vision passed through Mew's head. Feelings of joy coursed through her as her loving godmother came to see her, bathing her in the beautiful smile she had come to love so much. She kissed her on the forehead like usual before turning away, nodding towards Lugia in a secret signal. What did it mean? The sensation on the forehead was fleeting, and the next time-
"... Did what?" Lucario asked, snapping Mew out of her memories.
"... She went into training..." Mew whispered slowly as she began losing her breath, "... And systematically destroyed all of her emotions."
Another vision. Feelings of joy coursed through her as her loving godmother came to see her, but something was amiss. She leaned forward to receive her usual kiss, but was left hanging. Looking up, she saw her loving godmother staring down at her, a peculiar shapeless form where her smile had once been. She sat frozen as her godmother leaned towards her, before coldly turning away from her. What did it mean? She cried all night after that, as Lugia explained-
"You can do that?" Lucario once more interrupted her thoughts, sounding surprisingly interested, "Like, just, take away your feelings of hunger? And pain?"
"Do not even think about it," Mew said sternly, "She is incapable of caring for another being ever again. It is a fate worse than death, and if only there had been some other way to finish Darkrai..."
"Did it work?" Lucario asked before figuring out a more likely scenario, "Or, you know, WILL it work?"
"... No," Mew replied bluntly and closed her eyes in sadness, "Darkrai takes pleasure in the misery of others. So, after Cresselia had sentenced herself to a personal hell in order to defeat him, he made a point of avoiding her... Forever. Forcing her to endlessly wander the globe as a lost soul without a purpose in life..."
The two of them became quiet for a while; Mew too distraught to continue and Lucario letting it all sink in.
"... Man, first your mother, and now your godmother? I'm..." Lucario started, visibly cringing as he tried to stop himself from saying the last word, "... Sorry."
"Please, do not be," Mew said, sad to see that she had gotten him to pity her after all, "I am fine, this was all very long ago. Rather, I am grateful to always have the moon as a reminder of how she used to be, once upon a time."
Lucario looked back at the moon, its fearful form covering the sky. For some reason, it did not intimidate him as much anymore. The celestial body's calming effect on Mew was starting to rub off on him. Not because he cared anything about Cresselia, but because she did, and he cared about her.
"... Anyway, I came out here to tell you that I'm ready to go," Lucario said after a long period of silence. Mew nodded as she fetched their tool of transportation while he stood up and stretched his legs, knowing that as long and tough as this journey was going to be, at least he would have great company along for it.