Thanks for the comments, everyone! I really appreciate you sticking with me.
And would you look at that; we're done!
Echoes To Come
The moment they entered the sealed dimension, two spherical barriers of translucent white light flickered into existence around them. Immediately Darkrai struck at the force field, but he could not break through, and upon attempting to summon energy for an attack he found he could not.
"Don't bother." White Darkrai floated calmly before them, at this range looking somewhat worn out but still with a steady bearing. "I've been waiting for you."
"If your plan is just to trap us, it won't work." Mew glared at the white Pokémon, who stared back as emotionlessly as he was colorless. "The others will come and finish you."
"I will not allow them to enter this dimension."
"You don't have control of—"
White Darkrai's flat voice cut through Mew's own. "I do. And should Arceus try to force his way in, his power will destroy the dimension and kill us all."
"So what, then?" taunted Darkrai. "You're too scared to fight us, so we're just going to sit here?"
"I am not afraid to fight you. I plan to wait until Jirachi en—"
White Darkrai's words were lost in a great rush of sound as Mew released a monstrous flood of concentrated energy, a tremendous burst that decimated her cage of light and swelled outward, spitting pink flares in every direction. Mew herself was wrapped in a vibrant, flame-like aura of the same hue that hummed with power and increased the very pressure of the air tenfold.
In a fraction of an instant, before White Darkrai could even assume a fighting stance, Mew crossed the distance between them and struck him down. The spectre crashed into the dirt of the crater he and Celebi had created, rising swiftly and unleashing a fast pulse of energy from his palm. But Mew either avoided it or had already followed him down, because the next second she smashed her arm into his face and sent him skidding along the earth. He hovered up out of his tumble, and Mew shot after him; the two traded volleys of energized projectiles until abruptly White Darkrai looped back and dove at Mew with claws outstretched. She spun sideways to evade him and aimed a kick at his head as he sailed by, but he ducked and turned to grab her in one hand.
Before White Darkrai could take any action, ghostly blue fire seemed to alight on Mew's own body, and her foe released her, wounded as though the flames had been real. Then Mew's psychic power seized control of the doppelgänger himself, and she sent him flying back earthward. It looked as though Mew was going to force him to slam into the ground once more, but an instant before he did, White Darkrai broke free of the telekinesis and sent a sharp mental recoil coursing through Mew's mind. Before she could recover, White Darkrai snapped from the forest floor to directly in front of her at a speed too great to register and sunk a fist into her gut.
Mew doubled over, and White Darkrai delivered a powerful blow to her back with his hands laced together, but she did not allow herself to be knocked down. Halting her descent with a great surge of will, she whirled and struck White Darkrai's broad chest, pushing him back with disproportionate strength, and then pursued her reeling opponent and began to rain open-palmed strikes upon his head and upper body.
Eventually White Darkrai steadied himself, batting Mew away with a swing of his arm. He drew back and fired several jets of light at her, but the strength of his attacks was diminishing—his battles with the two powerful Legendaries had taken their toll. Mew deflected the lasers with her bare hands and closed in; White Darkrai feinted then intercepted Mew as she made to dodge and grabbed her by the head, heaving mightily and slinging her downward. Mew mentally summoned a shockwave in the air even as she fell, buffeting her opponent back so he was unable to press his advantage, and then followed up with a lightning-fast flying ram against which White Darkrai managed to cross his arms in an X shape to defend himself. He retaliated with an uppercut that forced Mew back, and then he began to charge energy, shouting a moment later, "Dark Override!"
But Mew hit him before his attack could even materialize. She accelerated rapidly and caught up as he attempted to dash away, driving at him again and again and leaving him not one opportunity to attack back; her speed was so great it was past perceptible at times, and she seemed to disappear and reappear as she changed the angle of her assault over and over. White Darkrai parried her blows at first, but soon he began to slow, and Mew scored increasingly more hits.
The bleached clone finally succeeded in disengaging, staggering backward in midair after finally repulsing Mew with an indiscriminate wave of energy. "That's enough," he growled, and he held his arms out before him. "Midnight Black." A swirl of shadowy energy formed around him and began to thicken, its smoky composition undulating, twisting, and spiraling; trails of the condensed darkness wisped off in every direction, and with White Darkrai at its center, it had the appearance of a negatized corona.
"Fire something powerful!" shouted Darkrai across the distance they had separated. "Now! Finish him before he attacks!"
Mew didn't hesitate. She yelled, "Millenaria!" and a torrent of what looked like shining, molten gold rushed from her arms and slammed into White Darkrai. Mew sustained the barrage, but just when it looked as though White Darkrai's efforts would be defeated, a gaping hole of black nothingness opened between him and Mew and swallowed the golden energy whole.
Mew and everything surrounding her was lost as from behind the Dark Void a gigantic swath of pure white light was spat as if from some great dragon's mouth, obliterating everything in its path and blanking out space and sight will all the brilliance of a sun.
Eventually the light dimmed and started to dissipate. When it had faded entirely, Darkrai could see Mew lying still on the earth, her eyes shut as though she were just resting in her forest home. For an instant Darkrai thought—but no, her body still moved subtly with signs of breath. As for White Darkrai, he now appeared beyond exhaustion. He didn't move or speak, and his breaths were ragged; Darkrai was close enough to see his chest heave in contrast to the steady rise and fall of Mew's. At length, the foe turned to face his mirror image.
Instantly, Darkrai smashed through the barrier surrounding him, and it only took him a millisecond to reach White Darkrai and slug him across the face. As he recoiled, the Pokémon's white coloration vanished as if painted over by an unseen hand until at last none remained—White Darkrai was gone, and in his place stood Reverse Darkrai once more. Darkrai couldn't help but bark a laugh before flying at Reverse Darkrai and knocking him sideways. The doppelgänger was quick to recover, and lunged at Darkrai as he approached again, trying to impale him with a spike of Dark energy formed over hand, but Darkrai caught his arm and stopped the jab. He proceeded to strike back with a similar energy construct, a flexible blade of light that extended from his forearm as if an elongation of the ridges there; Reverse Darkrai caught it on his claws, but before he could counter Darkrai punched him again in the face with his free hand.
Moving back, Reverse Darkrai swiped his arms through the air in a cross shape, and an invisible force slashed at Darkrai with the same pattern. His adversary advanced swiftly, but Darkrai surprised him by seizing him out of his rush and whirling into a throw toward the forest below. One of Reverse Darkrai's arms snapped out and caught hold of Darkrai an instant before he fell past reaching distance, and together they tumbled down, each aiming a flurry of blows at the other.
They reached ground level and separated, flying in opposite directions. Knowing his enemy was doing the same, Darkrai charged energy even as he turned, shouting "Dark Pulse!" and releasing a torrent of shadow-force into which he poured all his strength, one final effort intended to end the battle and destroy the Darkrai of the Reverse Moon once and for all.
He did not so much as see if it met its target. The instant he completed his pivot and faced Reverse Darkrai he was met with a pulse of energy similar to his own, but blindingly white and so condensed it looked solid, which hit him with force hundreds of times greater than anything he could have produced himself and exploded, striking him finally to the earth.
His ears ringing from the blast, his head spinning from the fall, Darkrai found he could barely move, so much strength had the energy sapped from him. His mind was frozen; how could Reverse Darkrai have summoned energy so powerful? Then he saw the shadowy clone out of the corner of his eye—but now he wasn't entirely so shadowy. His right arm from fingertips to just above the forearm was hued white, with the coloration fragmenting further up and gradually breaking apart as if to reveal the black beneath it. As Darkrai watched, the white faded; slowly this time, as if being siphoned off into the air. When it disappeared completely, a flash like lighting accompanied it and made it clear that all traces of White Darkrai's power were gone.
Darkrai's attack had hit Reverse Darkrai, and he looked utterly drained—yet he was still standing. "Damn you!" spat Darkrai, struggling to rise. Then he stopped and laughed darkly. "You think this is over? Somehow I doubt you can control who gets in to this dimension. What's your plan for fighting Arceus?" Reverse Darkrai didn't respond, instead advancing, in his eyes an expression of obvious distaste at what he was about to do, and held his hand over Darkrai. He paused just one moment more, then drew on his last remnants of energy and prepared one last pulse of Dark-type power.
Suddenly, he was illuminated from behind by a flash of white light as a surge of electricity coursed through his body. With a look of complete disbelief on his face, Reverse Darkrai pitched forward and collapsed face-first to the earth beside Darkrai, who could only stare with an expression akin to his doppelgänger's at the Pokémon who floated there, grinning widely.
"Hi!" said Rotom. "That was pretty awesome, huh?
* * *
A slender figure stood silhouetted against the night sky, gazing silently up at the hole in the stars that was the Reverse Moon. A second indistinct form leapt easily up to stand beside him on the ruined stone structure. "Looks like they got him." His tone was nonchalant.
The first being gave no response. The second's teeth glinted in the starlight. "Guess it's our turn."
A third figure joined them. "Finally!"
* * *
Darkrai was in utter shock; forming an actual thought any time soon was only a remote possibility. He was, for once in his life, absolutely speechless.
Rotom was much less so. "Master Arceus said I should come here with you guys! He just sent me along right after you! He said to stay out of the fight, but it kinda looked like the bad you was gonna kill you, so I came over to help, and look! I beat him! This is so awesome. I'm really, really excited and—" Rotom mercifully stopped talking as a swirl of colorless light illuminated the space beside them. From the insubstantial portal stepped Arceus, his expression grim.
"Master Arceus!" exclaimed Rotom happily. "Yeah, now we can leave!"
"We are leaving…" said Arceus. "Immediately."
Darkrai found his voice at last. "What? Why immediately?"
Arceus walked over to him, the golden ring around his midsection beginning to glow. "So as to not be caught in a dimensional collapse, explosion, or inversion."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" yelped Rotom. "What?!"
"The Reverse Moon phenomenon hasn't disappeared," said Arceus. "If that means Reverse Darkrai was not the cause of its altered state, then given his prior knowledge of the space/time freeze it's likely this is a trap. I want you out of here." The intricate band's illumination dimmed, but from it came a cluster of shimmering, hovering lights which floated towards Darkrai of their own accord. A portion of the sprites dove into his body and immediately he felt his strength return; he stood as the remaining lights went to Mew and Celebi, who in seconds were revived.
"Master Arceus…" said Mew as she approached them. "I'm sorry I couldn't defeat him."
"The fault is mine," said Arceus. "If I had been able to detect the presence of ‘White Darkrai,' I would have had both of you and Jirachi fight from the start, and no lives would have been risked." He bowed his head. "Please, forgive me."
Mew put a hand to his head. "Come on, Master Arceus. No one's blaming you."" She smiled. "The only thing I'm mad at you about is you not sleeping enough."
"Did Darkrai beat him?" asked Celebi, looking down at the unconscious Reverse Darkrai.
"Actually, I did!" chirped Rotom. Then his face fell. "But we've got to get out of here, 'cause the dimension is gonna BLOW UP!"
They were distracted from Rotom's theatrical impressions of an explosion by a groan from Reverse Darkrai, who got slowly to his feet. In the blink of an eye, bands of light had spun outward from Arceus, encircled the clone, and cinched themselves around him. He only laughed. "You guys should really get going; this place is about to be pulverized. Of course, the idea was for you to be here when that happens, but I don't really care."
"Thanks for the advice," said Mew with a touch of sarcasm. "Feel like filling us in on the rest of your plan?"
"I don't have a plan. I already told you that." He smiled knowingly. "Good luck with whatever comes next, though… you'll need it."
"I didn't take any luck to beat you," said Darkrai. "You were lucky you had someone stronger to fight for you."
"I hate to say it, but that really was me. Not anymore, though—he's gone." Reverse Darkrai looked at Darkrai almost thoughtfully. "You know, I'm going to miss having you to mess with."
"What are we going to do with him?" queried Celebi.
"Leave him here," replied Arceus. "I'll make sure he doesn't escape. Now—"
Before Arceus could utter the words let's go, a noise like a scream rippled through the dimension's sphere; there appeared a thin crack in the air itself, little more than a barely perceptible line, which split and spread into rows of what looked like squares of sky. Then, starting at the top and moving quickly downward, orderly at first then accelerating into complete chaos, the squares folded in on themselves and shattered with great crashes—the dimension was falling apart. Arceus shouted something inaudible over the sound of time and space breaking apart, and just as the earth began to shake, they started to teleport away. Looking up at the widening hole in the sky-dome in the instant before the five of them vanished, Darkrai could have sworn he saw a pair of solid red eyes fading away as the scream consumed everything…
Reverse Darkrai looked on as the dimension crumbled around him, a million shattered fragments of sky rushing down amid a cacophony of unearthly noises. He smiled briefly as the ground at his feet began to collapse. Then, he was gone.
* * *
The group reappeared at a starlit Spear Pillar, where Jirachi and Deoxys awaited them. Rotom immediately began zipping around in something of a victory dance.
"Some force disrupted Lords Dialga and Palkia's control and destroyed the dimension," said Arceus. "And that force was something far more direct than the Reverse Moon itself… The Tree of Beginning is back where it belongs, by the way," he added. "And, to you who fought—Darkrai, Rotom, Lord Celebi, and Lord Mew—thank you."
"So we still have battles ahead…" mused Mew.
"We'll handle them," said Jirachi. "And next time I'll be there." She was pouting slightly.
"Yeah!" piped up Rotom mid-loop-the-loop. "We'll take 'em on!"
Arceus glanced at Darkrai, who was looking up into the night sky, where the Reverse Moon still hung beyond sight. "Something on your mind, Darkrai?"
I will find you. "Nope," he said aloud, adding, "Hey…call me Lord Darkrai."
So, I hope you enjoyed it all in all! It's not quite the usual, I know.
I've got several chapters of Dark Sanctuary ready/almost ready to post. What do you think--should I post one right away?