The "A Challenger Appears" contest is now over. Submissions are no longer being accepted and a winner will be announced in the next chapter. Please see the Author's Notes below for more information.

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Chronicles of Unova

Chapter 27: Anthea & Concordia – The Boy Who Would Be King
Part 1 of 3

“Details on the cause of this horrific accident are still unconfirmed as forensics crews examine the crash site. As we reported at the start of the hour, all of the occupants of the vehicle have been confirmed dead by first response teams, save for the vehicle’s owner, famous film star Brycen. The actor is currently in critical condition in the Icirrus City General Hospital, but the staff there are not releasing specifics at this time. Brycen has performed in such landmark films as ‘When Dawn Breaks’ and ‘Poison-type Harry.’ The nation collectively holds its breath as one of its greatest treasures fights for his life. Live from Icirrus City, Channel 4 News.”

A crackle of static washed across the TV in the bar as the news report ended; the storming rain and heavy winds outside were distorting the signal. A pitch black night had fallen, and with it had come the rains.

It was a Sunday night in winter. The few patrons of the rundown pub were largely oblivious to the conditions outside, drowning their own unique demons in the amber reflection that stared back up at them from inside their mugs. The alleyway outside was wet and dirty, the city beyond it not much better. The bar itself was dry, but not much else. The ceiling leaked, the floorboards creaked, chairs were broken, glasses dirty, and the perpetual smell of cigarette smoke hung stained in the air. A sad, lazy melody drifted from an ancient jukebox in the corner of the room. This was no place for atmosphere or those of culture; this hole-in-the-wall served one purpose and one purpose alone. The “business” made its livelihood as a cyclical breeding ground for collective misery.

A young woman sighed as the report ended. She rose from her seat and stretched her shoulders, inadvertently straining her already-too-tight uniform against her breasts. She scowled as she remembered her constraint; if she didn’t know any better, she might have forgotten that that wasn’t what they were selling. Her co-worker beside her rolled her eyes and changed the channel.

“Shame about what happened to Brycen, isn’t it, Jen?” the one who remained seated asked. The woman who had risen shrugged and walked behind the bar counter.

“Not like it really affects us.” she replied. “I never cared much for his movies, and it’s not like he’s ever done anything for us.” she continued. Her friend sighed and rested her weary head on top of her hands on the bar counter.

“I dunno… I always thought he was pretty cute.” she said dreamily. “It’s a nice thing to pretend about though, isn’t it? Just imagine what it would be like; Brycen the movie star comes walking in that door one day and whisks us away in his limo. Wouldn’t that be something?” she asked. The girl behind the counter scoffed.

“Ha, yeah. Brycen the millionaire movie star is going to show up in this little shithole bar and decide that out of the four billion women in the world he could have, that he wants to spend his time and money on a couple of dead end waitresses like us. Keep dreaming, Viv.” she replied. Her friend chuckled and then sighed.

Jen and Vivian were waitresses at the bar. They were both in their early twenties and had both grown up together on the streets. Jen was Vivian’s elder by a couple of months, but the two had always been closer than sisters for their entire life. They had slight figures and modest assets; the requirements of their job forced them to highlight what little they had however. Vivian had shoulder length hair, while Jen wore hers much shorter. The girls had been through a hard life and were generally not much better off than any of the patrons they served. The two had gotten their job about two years prior and had made it their home ever since. Living dollar to dollar, the young women had resigned long ago that this was their role in life. Never anticipating the destiny that was about to befall them, they had come to accept the poverty, filth and crime that seemed to be the natural elements of what made up life around them. Unlike nearly all of the other women in their lives however, they refused to supplement their meager income by turning tricks. Through it all, even under enormous societal pressure, somehow they had managed to remain pure. It was a quality they held in proud esteem.

A dirty, drunken old man was passed out in a seat a few rows down from them at the bar. He was face first on the counter and hadn’t stirred in over an hour. They had assumed he was stone drunk as usual, as he was a regular customer at the bar, but having overheard their conversation, he grunted and lifted himself up.

“Some’un like Brycen would’n give a crap about you two bein’ bums, ya dumb broads. He would’n help ya ‘cause yer a couple uh sluts.” he slurred out in a semi-conscious stupor. Vivian lazily flipped the old man off with her free hand, not bothering to lift her head from the counter, but Jen was much more irate.

“Shut the fuck up, Frank. How many times do we have to tell you we don’t do that?” she said angrily. The man snickered without lifting his drunken head.

“You ain’t no different than anybody else, Jen. Everybody’s got a price and you ain’t no exception. Just takes a bigger man than me to name it.” he replied. Vivian had heard enough and stood up.

“Come on, Frank. You’re drunk again and we know you’ve spent all your money. I think it’s time for you to go on home.” she said sweetly. She walked up and tried to help him stand, but he was resistant.

“Aww, you ain’t gonna make me go out there in that rain, are ya, lovey?” he asked pitifully. “I’ll freeze to death out there!” he complained. Vivian smiled and helped him stand.

“No no, you’ll be fine, Frank. Up you go, come on. We’ll see you again tomorrow I’m sure.” she replied. Vivian faced him in the right direction and gave him a little push. Frank began clumsily walking towards the door, but he wasn’t making very good progress.

“I’m gonna… I’m gonna find that pot uh gold, I tell ya. I’m gonna do it and then you won’t be able to kick me out…” he mumbled in his drunken slur. “I’ll be back, and I’ll name your price, Jen! Jus’ you wait’n… ‘n see…” he continued, hiccupping as he went. Jen rolled her eyes from behind the counter while Vivian laughed at his comments.

Just as Frank reached for the door, it opened unexpectedly and a flash of lightning struck outside. The noise combined with the unexpected movement of his target caused Frank to lose his tenuous grip on balance and fall. A man stood in the doorway, his features obscured by the darkness of the night outside.

“Hey you asshole, what’s the big idea?!” Frank managed to stutter as he uncoordinatedly tried to pick himself up off the floor. The man in the doorway seemed to not notice him at first however, sizing up the room and its scarce occupants from behind an icy gaze.

The man was extremely tall, nearly filling the entire doorframe with some help from his billowing cloak. The coincidental lightning strike that had hit just as he opened the door gave him an ominous air. Having scoped out what he needed to ascertain about the room, he looked down and noticed the drunken man on the floor yelling at him.

“Oh, terribly sorry, my friend. Did I startle you?” he asked quietly in a deep, powerful voice. Frank glared at him but took his hand as the man offered him help up. In a surprising show of strength, the mysterious man grasped Frank’s wavering hand and lifted him to his feet in one fluid motion. Frank seemed completely oblivious about what had happened; one moment he was on the ground, and the next he was on his feet again. The man offered a polite apology again and sent Frank on his way through the door, all the while ignoring the drunkard’s continued bitter mumblings about “naming Jen’s price.” Closing the door behind himself, the mysterious man entered the bar and stepped into the light.

The man wore a glistening black trench coat, soaked from the rain, and had long, flowing green hair. He wore an eye-patch over his right eye and carried himself with a regal air. He slowly began walking towards the bar, but took long strides and reached it in only a couple of paces. He took a seat and looked across the room at the now curious women.

“Evening, hon’. You’re a new face in here. What’s your name?” Jen asked as she walked up to take his order. She smiled and leaned on the bar opposite him, revealing even more of her chest than her uniform already did. The man smiled and reached for her hand.

“Ghetsis.” he answered. “My name is Ghetsis Harmonia. The pleasure is mine.” he said regally. He kissed the top of her hand and Jen blushed.

“I’m Jen and this is my sister Vivian.” she said politely as Vivian joined her behind the bar. Ghetsis cocked an eyebrow in surprise at the remark however.

“You girls are sisters?” he asked. Jen stood back up and pursed her lips.

“Well, no, technically not biological. That’s just how we explain it though.” she replied. Ghetsis smiled and, releasing Jen’s hand, reached for Vivian’s now as well.

“Well it is a pleasure to meet the both of you regardless.” he said as he kissed the back of Vivian’s hand in turn. The ladies smiled politely and nodded.

“What’ll you have?” Jen asked. Ghetsis maintained his confident smile and closed his eyes.

“Just a glass of water please, my dear.” he said. The women were surprised by his unusual request but didn’t argue with it. Vivian drew the water in the least dirty glass they had and set it beside him. Ghetsis smiled and paid for it immediately.

“Anything else?” Jen asked. “Anything to eat maybe?” Ghetsis shook his head however and continued smiling.

“No, thank you. You’ve both been lovely.” he said. The women were understandably surprised by his polite demeanor and strange order in comparison to how their clients usually behaved, but they weren’t going to argue with the pleasant change of pace. Leaving Ghetsis to himself and his curious order, they went back to their work.

The night continued to drag on and several hours passed. Midnight came and went and still the strange man sat at the bar, occasionally pecking at his lone drink. Jen and Vivian never exchanged further words with him, but they occasionally felt a strange sense on the backs of their necks. Whenever they would look over, the man was simply staring into the somewhat clear glass; they couldn’t shake the feeling that when they looked away however, his gaze would drift over to them. Their suspicions were in fact the truth, but Ghetsis never let them catch him staring. Eventually the early morning came and it was time to close the bar.

Most of the other patrons had left by this point. The rain had stopped and the jukebox had been silent for over an hour. Sunrise would not be for several more hours; the only light outside was from the reflection of streetlights against the smog in the sky. Ghetsis still had not stirred, and more than half of his drink remained untouched. Vivian approached him as Jen began closing up.

“Um… sir?” Vivian asked somewhat apprehensively as she approached. “We’re closing up for the night. You need to leave now, please.” she said. Ghetsis turned to face her, having broken his concentration, and shot her a fiery, piercing gaze. It was unnerving and sent a shiver up her spine. As quickly as it had come however, his stare softened and a small smile crept upon his lips.

“Of course. Thank you for your accommodation.” he said politely. Rising to leave, he tipped his hand towards her and headed for the door.

“H-have a good night…” Vivian stammered as he left. He either didn’t hear her or didn’t respond however, leaving without saying a word.

“What a weird guy…” Jen muttered under her breath from across the room. Vivian sighed and went to help with the final tasks before they could close up.

Around ten minutes later, the girls were nearly ready to close for the night. The tables had been cleaned and the glasses all washed and put away. Only one final task remained to be done before they could retire to their second floor apartment above the bar: taking the evening’s trash to the dumpster behind the building; this was not nearly as trivial as it would normally have been however.

The portion of the city they had grown up in was dangerous and rife with crime. In the middle of the night, under a moonless sky, the silent, remote back alley was a dangerous place for a pair of attractive young women such as themselves. Having collected their baggage, the two went out together for protection, just as they did every night. They stepped out and shut the door behind themselves.

“Going to be a cold winter…” Vivian murmured idly as they headed around behind the building. The winter air seemed particularly cold, prompting her remark, but it mostly served just to calm her nerves. Jen nodded but remained silent.

The typically rather menial task was still largely safe and trivial, even under their unique circumstance. Nothing like what they feared could happen had ever happened to them since their childhood, and they didn’t necessarily ever expect it anyway. It was just a good safety precaution given the environment in which they lived. Something felt off that night however. Maybe it was just the lack of moonlight, maybe it was just from stress, but Vivian couldn’t help continuing to feel something strange. That same strange sensation of being watched that they had felt while Ghetsis was in the bar continued to dog her; it was as if the sensation came from his mere presence and not instead from his eyes. They began heading around behind the building, but Vivian was apprehensive.

“Hey… do you hear something?” she asked. She slowed her pace a bit, but Jen kept walking.

“No…? What is it you hear?” she asked nonchalantly. Whatever Vivian was sensing didn’t seem to be having the same effect on Jen.

“Wait, wait, shh…” Vivian whispered. A soft rustling noise was coming from around the corner behind the building. “There it is again.” she said.

Jen stopped to listen and could faintly hear it too. The noise sounded like someone moving around on the other side of the corner. She motioned for Vivian to catch up to her and the girls slowly approached the bend. Cautiously peeking around the alley to where the dumpster was, they didn’t see anything at first, but the noise was now more distinct. Vivian began to grow more and more nervous.

Creeping towards the dumpster to finish their task, the girls continued to move quietly as so to identify the source of the rustling sound. As they got closer to the dumpster however, they realized it was coming from inside of it. Whatever was making the noise had stowed away inside, waiting for them. Vivian held her breath as Jen went to open the lid.

“Three…” Jen mouthed. “Two… one…” she continued. When the countdown finished, she quickly reached for the lid and flung it open violently. Backing away, she instinctively reached for the small vile of pepper spray she had learned to keep handy during moments like this in their childhood. Bringing the canister to bear, she was relieved by the sight she saw.

…Trub?” a hungry, doe-eyed little Trubbish asked. The confused Poison-type cocked its head in surprise at the girl’s strange behavior. As Jen relaxed her stance, the Trubbish went back to rooting through the trash for a meal.

“Oh…” Vivian murmured. She blushed as she realized how obvious the source of a rustling sound coming from a dumpster was. “Must have just been my nerves…” she said under her breath as a cop-out. She followed it up with a slightly embarrassed cough.

Jen sighed and hefted their bag of trash into the dumpster beside the Trubbish. The hungry Pokémon seemed fairly oblivious to the girls as it searched the scraps for something to salvage. Sighing as the adrenaline spike began to die down, Jen went to close the lid, but Vivian stopped her as she realized what she was doing.

“Hey wait, don’t do that!” Vivian exclaimed, reaching out to her friend’s arm to stop her. “Don’t just close it in there; how will it get out?” she asked. Jen cocked an eyebrow at the strange remark.

“The same way it got in, I guess. It’s a Trash Bag Pokémon; what’s wrong with it being in a dumpster?” she asked. Vivian shook her head and reached in to grasp the small Pokémon.

“Come on, Jen, we’ve got to help the poor thing. It looks half starved!” she protested. Jen remained confused and surprised by her friend’s reaction to discovering the Pokémon.

“We can barely feed ourselves, Viv; we’re not getting a pet, especially not a Trubbish. Put that thing back and come on inside.” she explained. Vivian began to pout however and held the Trubbish against her chest.

“Aww come on, Jen, just look at that little face.” she cooed, holding up the little Pokémon in her arms. The Trubbish had a fairly confused look on its face; the stench alone kept Jen away. She made a face and covered her nose as Vivian displayed it to her, but Vivian just laughed at her friend’s reaction.

“Ugh, god, Viv, get that thing away from me! Come on!” Jen said disgustedly. Vivian just continued to laugh.

“Well I think it’s a little cutie.” she said, turning the Trubbish around to look at it. “Aren’t you, sweetie? Yes you are.” she cooed. The Trubbish smiled at all the attention.

Jen was growing cold standing out in the winter night in her skimpy uniform. She was also beginning to get impatient with Vivian’s insistence on playing with the Trubbish however. She folded her arms and began tapping her foot, but Vivian was oblivious to the gesture.

“Viv, come on now, stop playing. We need to get back inside.” Jen explained. Vivian tossed the Trubbish up in the air a ways and then caught it, ignoring her friend’s protest. As the Trubbish left her grasp for a moment however, Jen noticed something peculiar about it.

“…hey, wait…” she murmured. “Viv, look at its back. I didn’t think those things had tails.” she said confusedly. Vivian cocked an eyebrow and turned the Trubbish around to look.

Low and behold, a peculiar black, bushy tail seemed to be sticking out from the back of the Pokémon’s body. It didn’t match the color of the rest of its body and seemed very out of place. Vivian was just as confused as Jen was by the discovery; in the distance, the shadows began to move…

“Hey yeah, that’s really weird…” Vivian murmured. She held the Trubbish up again and looked straight in its eyes. The Trubbish maintained its confused look, seeming to not understand the problem.

“Trubbish, what are you–” Vivian started to ask, but as the words left her lips, the Trubbish began to smile. Its grin was unnerving and revealed its rows of sharp teeth. It blinked its large, oval-shaped eyes, but when they reopened, they were glowing bright red. Vivian gasped as the Trubbish began to change form.

“What’s going–” Jen started to ask in a panic, but before either of them could say more, the Trubbish belched out a massive cloud of noxious smoke. The fumes quickly engulfed the girls and blinded them. Choking on the gas, they both fell to the ground unconscious in a matter of seconds; the Trubbish leapt from Vivian’s slacked arms and landed back in the dumpster, still grinning wickedly.

From down the alley, a pair of tall, dark, shadowy beasts began to approach. They were each over 5-feet tall and had glowing red eyes, similar to the Trubbish. The monsters snarled as they approached and moved to inspect the girls as the fumes cleared. Seeing its family, the Zorua that had tricked the girls broke its Illusion and hopped down out of the dumpster.

The pair of Zoroark bent down and sniffed at the unconscious girls. Satisfied that they were fully out, the Illusion Fox Pokémon each took one in their clawed paws and hefted them over their burly shoulders. The Pokémon exchanged a few terse growls in their language before nodding at one another and backing away into the shadows again. The bar was never closed that night; the Zoroark retreated undetected.

* * *

“I knew you two weren’t sisters…”

Consciousness began to return to Jen’s mind. Her sight was blurred and her head spun, but she could feel her senses returning to her slowly. A noxious odor of brimstone filled her nose, though she couldn’t identify it as such. Her arms and legs hurt and she couldn’t move them when she tried, but she couldn’t tell exactly why. She was aware of the fact that she was sitting, but not much else beyond that. More and more definition began to come to her as she slowly reawoke.

When they finally came to, the girls found themselves in a hazy, stone room. Shadows twisted and the only light came from torches along the walls. The environment was certainly frightening by itself, but fear truly set in for them when they realized they were bound to the chairs they found themselves seated upon. Their feet were tied to the legs and their hands tied behind their backs. Dreading the worst, they began to panic.

“Viv?” Jen whispered. “Viv?! Vivian, wake up! Wake up!” she continued. Vivian was regaining consciousness now too; the sights and senses Jen had just identified began to set in for her as well.

“W-where are we? What happened?” Vivian asked groggily. The same sense of panic began to slowly set in for her as well as she began to figure out what was going on.

“We must have been kidnapped! We’ve got to get out of here!” Jen continued to whisper frightenedly. As the girls began to inspect their bonds more closely, they realized their work uniforms were gone. Their clothes had been replaced with lavish silk gowns. Not exactly a downgrade, but it confirmed that their captors, whoever they were, had at least some interest in their bodies; not something that boded well for the defenseless young ladies.

“Oh, you two won’t be going anywhere just yet…” a mysterious voice said from behind them. The voice was of a man and was quite deep. Jen recognized it somehow but couldn’t place it.

“W-w-who are you?” she asked timidly. “What do you want from us?” she continued. The man chuckled and walked between the chairs in front of them. As he came into view, they both recognized him instantly.

“You–… you’re the man from the bar.” Jen stammered as she saw him. Ghetsis continued to smile and turned to face them. He wore a wicked grin and tipped his hand to them as he had when he left the bar.

“Indeed I am…” he crooned half mockingly.

The girls had now shaken their disorientation completely and had fully regained their senses; completely rational thought was still a bit beyond them however as fear continued to grip their minds. The only thought on Jen’s mind was escape; Vivian remained fearfully quiet and let her childhood protector guide the situation.

“What do you want from us? Why did you bring us here?” Jen asked. Ghetsis continued to smile but remained silent.

“…well?” Jen asked again after a moment of silence. “Are you going to do something or just stand there? What do you want?! What’s going on?” she began to shout. Ghetsis still remained quiet, his grin growing just the slightest bit wider.

“Please sir, don’t hurt us.” Vivian spoke up fearfully. “We’ve been through so much in our lives, please don’t take that last bastion from us.” she pleaded. Ghetsis snickered at the idea but continued to say nothing.

“Goddamn it, answer us!” Jen shouted. She was becoming extremely flustered from Ghetsis’ refusal to talk, combined with the stress and fear of her capture. Ghetsis cocked an eyebrow and, still grinning, held up a finger. Jen’s loud noise spurred another loud noise; from behind the girls, a baby began to cry.

Blank, confused looks instantly set upon Jen and Vivian’s faces. The sound they were now hearing was so utterly unexpected amongst the sheer terror of their environment, they had no idea how to respond. Their fear began to melt away, replaced by confusion and a lack of knowing what to feel.

“… is that a–” Jen started to ask, but Ghetsis stepped forward and grasped the backs of their chairs. He turned them around so they could see the other side of the room behind them. From where Ghetsis had appeared when they first woke up, a modest crib sat all alone in the middle of the room; a baby’s cries were coming from inside.

Now it was Jen and Vivian who were silent. Ghetsis continued to smile unnervingly as he went to the crib and pulled out the crying infant. Holding the baby in his arms, he began rocking him gently to pacify his sounds. The baby calmed down and began falling back asleep; Ghetsis continued to hold the child in his arms however, much to Jen and Vivian’s surprise.

“Please don’t shout.” Ghetsis murmured. “You’ll wake him again.”

The girls were dumbstruck. The fear that had first gripped them was beginning to subside, but the confusion they felt was only growing stronger. Wherever they were still obviously wasn’t home, and they were still bound; Jen spoke up again to get some answers.

“Sir, what do you want from us?” she asked slowly and deliberately. Ghetsis smiled and continued to hold the baby in his arms. Holding him out for them to see, Ghetsis finally began to speak.

“This is my newly adopted son, N. He was born just days ago to a terminally ill mother and an absent father. I have taken him in as my own.” Ghetsis explained. He laid N back down in the crib and began to pace about the room.

“Allow me to begin from the top. My name again is Ghetsis Harmonia. I am a professional visionary, and I seek to change the world.” he explained matter-of-factly. “I am in the early stages of creating an organization that will allow me to do just that. It shall be known across Unova as ‘Team Plasma.’ Someday, it shall become the most powerful force of action in the entire world, and I shall be at its head. However, none of this shall come to pass without N, and this is why I need your help.” he continued.

Ghetsis spoke with a royal, commanding tone to his slow, deliberate style. He held his head high as he walked and made sweeping gestures with his hands. Jen and Vivian were enraptured by his quality of speech, almost forgetting the conditions in which they found themselves. Ghetsis continued.

“As a pure, moldable infant, N holds within himself the potential to reawaken a great power. It is only with this power that Team Plasma may succeed in the way I have envisioned. Tell me… are either of you familiar with the Prophecy of Unova?” he asked. Jen and Vivian both slowly shook their heads “no,” almost dazed by his flowing words.

“Ahh, very well; no matter though. You shall learn in due time.” Ghetsis sighed. “The Prophecy of Unova is ancient lore of our region, drawn from the time when the land was first created. It tells of a Hero who mastered a powerful dragon, and brought his ideals into practice with it. Putting a few other details aside, this dragon had extraordinary power, of which I need for my organization. I believe that, if raised and nurtured properly, N could become this Hero foretold in the prophecy, and you two are going to raise him to do just that.” he finished. Jen and Vivian were stupefied.

“We’re… we’re what?!” Jen stammered. “We’re not going to raise your kid for you, you lunatic! Let us go!” she exclaimed.

“Yeah! Why should we help you? What about our own lives and our job and our home?!” Vivian chimed up.

“What about them?” Ghetsis responded without missing a beat. Jen and Vivian were silenced by his commanding reply.

Ghetsis smiled at the reaction his brief answer had garnered. He put his hands behind his back and began pacing again, chuckling under his breath as he went.

“You insult me to suggest that I would leave the training of my own son, a Hero-to-be, to a pair of randomly picked strangers, especially those from a background such as yours. I am nothing if not calculating and precise, my dears; you shall learn that about me very quickly.” he began. “I have been watching you two for several days now, learning as much about you as I could to gauge you as candidates for this most important of jobs. You two are uniquely qualified, believe it or not, and I plucked you from that rat-hole for my own specific reasons.” he continued.

“Why us?” Jen asked softly. “What reasons?” she continued in her daze. Ghetsis paused to draw breath before continuing.

“Consider what little you have to offer, dear girl. You two have nothing in your lives; no friends, no family, no lovers, no money, no place you’ve ever truly called home. This is what makes you valuable however. You two have nothing to miss and no one to miss you. Yet through it all, you both have somehow remained pure. These are qualities you can pass on to N, and they make my offer uniquely tempting for you.” he explained.

“In your lives there is nothing. There never has been and there never will be. You both can keep working at that dive bar until you are old and gray and never make a cent more than what you need to stay alive. I am a man of wealth; a man of power. I can offer you any material thing you could ever need, or ever want. You will have a whole new life here, free from the dangers and pains of the life you have always known. This is a golden opportunity for you two I am offering. You will make history as the mothers of the Hero of Ideals, and live a life of comfort and ease while doing it. You have nothing but to raise N exactly as I specify in order to attain these things, and you in turn are the perfect candidates for my own needs. You would be fools not to take it.” Jen and Vivian were stupefied in silence.

The proposition was truly a fascinating one. The sense of overwhelming fear and danger they had felt upon waking up had now completely left them. No thought occupied their minds beyond what Ghetsis had just told them. This actually was a chance for them to escape the life they had always known. That said, it was frightening and vastly new, and they couldn’t shake the fear that it was a thinly veiled deal with the devil. Jen’s mind went back to the previous night and her fleeting conversation with Frank.

“You ain’t no different than anybody else, Jen. Everybody’s got a price and you ain’t no exception. Just takes a bigger man than me to name it.”

The girls had been silent for well over a minute by now. They were both lost in thought as they pondered Ghetsis’ world-shattering offer. Ghetsis could practically read their trains of thought on their faces. He smiled as the gravity of his offer took effect. In a final show of good faith, he reached beneath his cloak and pulled out a switchblade. Calmly walking towards the still bound women, he cut the ropes and set them free.

Jen and Vivian shot each other a glance. It was a terrifying offer, but they could sense in each other’s eyes that they were thinking the same thing. Frank had been right about one thing at least: everybody had a price. Jen was afraid, but she knew somebody had just named hers.

“Alright… we’ll do it… we’ll raise your son.” she murmured. Ghetsis grinned devilishly and reached out to take her hand.

“Excellent decision, my dear; you won’t regret it…” he proclaimed.

Ghetsis returned to the crib and lifted the sleeping N back out. As Jen and Vivian rose from their seats, he approached and gently handed the baby to Jen. For all their time on the streets, neither of them particularly knew what to do with a baby. It was a completely foreign experience, but also seemed strangely natural. The girls looked down at N’s face and could feel that they had made a sound choice.

“Remember our deal now.” Ghetsis said. “You two shall live a life of ease, free from want or desire, but you must raise N exactly to my specification…” he explained. “…and the first thing to change shall be your names.”

Jen and Vivian perked up at the strange request they thought they had heard him say.

“You–… you want to change our names?” Vivian asked in confusion. Ghetsis nodded firmly and laid a hand on her shoulder.

“My son, the Hero of Ideals, shall not be raised by urchins from the streets. He shall be raised by queens, not by peasants.” Ghetsis decreed. “From here on out, you shall be known as Anthea Harmonia…” he explained, “…and you shall be Concordia Harmonia…” he said, turning to Jen. “The Goddesses of Team Plasma.”

Jen and Vivian were taken aback by the strange command. Their whole world had been so fundamentally changed so quickly, and now their very names would also change? They were hesitant to accept, but they knew there would be no backing out now. They nodded their heads silently and submitted to Ghetsis’ command. He smiled once again as the wheels of his plan began to turn.

And so Anthea and Concordia, the Goddesses of Team Plasma, came to be.

* * *

[Continued Below]