Where their Loyalties Lie
More than ever, Jirachi felt she was trapped in a cursed hourglass. The sands of time were pouring down much too fast, disrupting the flow and threatening to shatter the delicate glass. Celebi and Mew had started destroying souls; she felt it deep in her heart. Curling her fingers, she stole a glance at the dreary, ruby sky above her, knowing that Arceus was still beyond the frozen clouds, helping Deoxys find a home.
While sand billowed around her speeding frame, obscuring her view, her emotions were unmoving. The anger and horror had been frozen in place the moment the male soul had weaved his tale. There was no time to think things through or wonder how her brother and sister were bold and conniving enough to do this. Even if she did, Jirachi didn’t think she would ever come to a conclusion. Both of them had always been a mystery, preferring company with each other and Arceus rather than with the rest of their brethren. Were they snobbish? No, she didn’t think that was the case. Arrogant? Possibly, but the way they held themselves and manipulated the conversations around them made it seem as though they had a right to be as controlling as they were.
Manipulative. Controlling. Maybe Celebi and Mew didn’t portray themselves as arrogant siblings but rather manipulative and controlling parents that wanted to morph their children into the mold they saw fit, even if it meant going behind Arceus’ back.
Jirachi snapped back to the present, a slight shiver traveling down her spine; she felt a source of great power near, though she couldn’t be sure whether it was one of her siblings. More alert than ever, she looked around.
Before her eyes, looming closer and closer, was the mountain range. The light brown, almost orange, fangs of stained earth ran towards the right and left, each fiercer looking than the others. Their sides, from afar, seemed to be worn smooth until only a faded rust reflected the glaring sky above. It wasn’t until she got closer that she realized that the mountain sides were actually slabs of rock overlaid over one another, much like cracked roof shingles. There were points in the strange pattern that splintered pieces of stone rose up from the mountain, and when they overlapped, piles of the needle-like structures laid precariously in the shadows the rock slabs caused.
“Wait… those aren’t shadows,” she realized, before clamping her mouth shut; if Mew and Celebi were around, she didn’t want to reveal her location just yet.
the Legend continued mentally. She then corrected herself upon a closer look. Or more like alcoves or caves in the mountain.
With nothing but the wind the flight created whistling through her tassels, Jirachi dared to swoop closer to the mountain side. Sure enough, what she had thought were shadows turned out to be pitch-black openings hidden by the shingle-like rock slabs and the protruding stone needles that crisscrossed the entrances. The Legend paused and looked around. The soul’s friend was nowhere in sight and neither were her headstrong siblings. Mentally, she cursed herself for not drilling him for more information. Yes it was urgent to stop Mew and Celebi, but going in with nothing but blind rage was a mistake on her part.
And here she thought she was levelheaded and rational.
With a sigh mounting on her lips, Jirachi weaved through upturned rock slabs, grasped the stone needles, and peered inside the overwhelming darkness. She wished she possessed night vision or that it was safe enough to call forth a psychic orb of energy to light her way. Unfortunately, neither was an option, so she had to settle for squinting her eyes and rubbing noses with the needles. Her ears strained for a sound, any sound that told her that this mountain was the one the soul had come from. If she had to search every mountain in this chain until she found her brother and sister…
A gust of wind hit her face before it was gone. Jirachi blinked, then looked inside the cave with shining eyes. There was no wind in Purgatory, so somebody
inside had caused the gust, not a passing gale. Her breathing slowing until it only rattled in her throat, Jirachi carefully wheedled herself through the gaps the needles made. Grunting softly, she reached into the cave and pulled herself in using the protruding stalagmites for support. One broke midway though her squirming, however, and losing her balance, she fell into the cave with a sharp cry of pain.
In a crumpled heap, the Legend picker herself up, bumping against the point of a needle that had chipped off and slashed her side. If it was stained red, she couldn’t see it in the shafts of light that filtered in; everything under the Purgatory daylight had a crimson tint to it. Throwing it aside, she tried to hover, only to have her head collide with the roof.
“These are Arceus-forsaken tunnels, not caves,” she whispered bitterly, faintly realizing she sounded like Ho-Oh or Darkrai.
With one hand on the tunnel wall, she walked in deeper, the other in front of her and feeling for those stalagmites that were scattered around. More than once, some of the cave wall chipped off in her grip, and she would wrinkle her nose as plumes of dust surrounded her. When it happened for the fifth time, a seed of fear bloomed in her chest. The possibility that the tunnel could cave in at any given moment was now mocking her. With steely determination, though, she pushed the thought to the back of her mind and kept on stumbling through the dark. Just like every other misgiving she had since her arrival in Purgatory, it had to wait and could not be pondered on at a time like this.
After what seemed like an eternity of hearing nothing but her own breathing, the hint of a chuckle came to her ears. It grew louder when she quickly shuffled through the tunnel, not even pausing to avoid the rocky outcroppings in her way. The edge’s sudden appearance was more than enough to stop her. Jirachi gripped a stalagmite, hid behind it, and tried to see what was going on among the shadows.
She managed to conclude that what laid in front of her was one huge, empty chamber dotted with tunnel entrances. Then, a bright, emerald light chased away the darkness. Behind the luminous Celebi came Mew wrapped in light of bright magenta. The two Legendaries shared a look that spoke of the responsibility they had decided to take on and of the satisfaction they were going to get out of it. Both effortlessly meandered towards the human figure suspended in the middle of the gargantuan, hollow room of stone. Glimmering tendrils of pink and green held him up by his arms like a rag doll. Locks of ebony hair were limp over his extremely pale face, but the light his chains shed illuminated the terrified look he was trying to hide. With his white dress shirt torn in numerous places, his leather vest held on by a single button, and dust-coated black pants and shoes, he looked as tired and haggard as his friend.
“I think you should be honored,” Mew started, putting a finger under the soul’s chin and tipping it so that they were face-to-face, “that you should be the first one to be Judged by us.”
Frantic, gray eyes looked away from the deity’s piercing blue. Celebi scowled and forcibly took the man’s face in her hands, forcing him to lock gazes with her. “Don’t turn away from Judgment, coward!”
The word ‘coward’, more than anything, made the soul react. Faded eyes hardening, he dared to retort, “I’m no coward!”
“Yes, you are by far the bravest soul who has graced the planet,” Mew mocked him, disgust spreading over his facial features like a plague. “You, who left your family for dead when your house was consumed by flames.”
Just like that, the man’s face was wiped of its indignation. A feeling of guilt and remorse now assaulted his eyes. “I went for help,” he tried to explain. When silence met his ears, he burst out, “I went for help!”
Mew and Celebi shared an unconvinced glance then returned their gazes to the soul. “You ran when there was a chance to lead your family out,” Celebi spat. “You heard their cries from the smoke-filled rooms. You
are a coward unfit for a second chance of life, Willard McGrady.”
“I WENT FOR HELP!” Willard bellowed, willing the Legendaries to understand. Ghostly tears leaked from his shut eyes and trailed down his cheeks, before falling down into the black abyss below. Despite the fact that his tears turned to rivers, Willard could not feel them. He had discovered long ago that each tear was merely a phantom of a real one he had shed back on Earth; he had cried so much when he lost everything that even two hundred years later, Willard could still cry.
“Unfortunately for you,” Mew dryly quipped, coming closer, “help
never came.” The god floated over to Willard’s right, where bindings of rose-pink constricted his wrist.
“So there’s no afterlife for you, and there never will be,” the Grass-type said on a fading breath. She floated towards the soul’s left, the bright, jade chains that wrapped around his left wrist beginning to tighten until a tendril of power slithered down his arm and towards the man’s neck. Willard had settled for letting his tears cascade down his face in silence, but upon feeling the chain extend and wrap around his windpipe, he let out a gasp. Not only was the energy snake beginning to cover his eyes as it wound itself around his neck and then up his face, but he was suddenly freezing cold. Willard shivered when he felt Mew’s bindings wound around his right, paralyzed fingers. They were mocking him, treating his soul like a toy that could be cast away when bored with, but he was too horrified to care.
“Uggh!” Celebi grunted, pushed away by an unseen force. She flipped backwards, the green chains on their captive ceasing their movement, and touched her chest. Spots of blood appeared on her emerald and lime-green torso, and her hand hovered over a cut before she grasped the air and pulled. The invisible star materialized in between her fingers, and the rest of the Swift attack on her chest vanished in a sudden flare of aura, leaving nothing but crimson cuts. Mew stopped the manipulation of his own chains and instead locked glares with the figure that had appeared in the chamber.
“Jirachi,” Celebi growled when her sister rocketed out of her hiding spot. “How dare you interfere?!”
“How dare I
?!“ Jirachi screeched. She closed in on them, her body alight with a crystalline shade of azure. “You have no right to do this!”
“Delaying the inevitable is foolish!” Celebi barked back.
But the space dweller dove straight towards Willard and grabbed his left wrist, sending a surf of her aura into him. Cerulean destroyed pulsating green with multiple flashes of white.
The dead man yelled when he felt himself falling. Fear coursed through his still heart, and he looked up to the pink bindings that held him up, his free arm dangling uselessly at his side.
Without warning, Mew zipped by his face and clobbered his sister with a Mega Punch. A teeth-chattering crack!
reverberated in the room, making Willard clamp his mouth from crying out in shock. His very hairs stood on end, and even the fear running through his body stopped dead in its tracks. Jirachi stopped her fall and soared back up, a hand gently cradling her stinging jaw. Tasting the blood that stained her lips, she stared at the Kanto legend with mixed emotions. However, when Mew stared back with a cold but otherwise emotionless expression, her anger rose a notch. She had hit Celebi with a Swift attack, but the pain the Johto legendary felt was laughable; if anything, the Swift was just a way to announce her presence.
But Mew… Jirachi had felt the power behind the punch and knew that if she hadn’t tilted her head at the last second, her jaw wouldn’t just be broken but lodged somewhere in the wall behind her. Mew hadn’t even batted an eyelash when the sound of shattered bone split the air.
“You will not harm him!” she declared, trying her best to bypass the lisp her broken jaw now created. The blood on her mouth dribbled and flew when she faced Celebi, then Mew, in her rage. “I still sense Arceus with Deoxys; you have not told him of this matter, and therefore, you have no right to perform your ‘Judgment.’” Jirachi almost spat the last word. She paused, the ache in her jaw bringing a forlorn look in her eyes. “Truthfully, I do not see why you think you must resort to this matter. I have found out by Death that by merely beautifying the landscape and bringing life to the atmosphere, the pure souls will not grow hostile.”
“Little sister,” Celebi addressed her, “do you truly think that a simple change of scenery is going to change them? Why do you think there are wars? Dictators? Murders? Second chances are useless.”
“I’m not saying it will vanquish human evils. I’m saying that placing the human race in peril solely because of an opinion is dangerous and ill-though out.” Jirachi gritted her teeth. “And to go behind not only your fellow Legendaries but Arceus himself! You’re no harbingers of salvation but manipulators who have tasted power and want more!”
Mew cocked his head, and his eyes would have been coated in that innocent gleam he mastered if a congratulatory smirk wasn’t present on his face. “Manipulators? Spot on, Jirachi, spot on.” His faux smile was gone and replaced by a scowl. “But do not mention power as though it’s an object; power is a title. Celebi and I truly know that we can help the Pokémon World. We have so much to offer, so much to correct! But with Legends such as hot-headed Ho-Oh and grudge-ridden Darkrai, Earth will never prosper as how we want it.”
“And when Arceus is ultimately left to decide, he doesn’t have the heart to sacrifice,” Celebi put in, her hand aloft. Tendrils of green lifted Willard again, and much to his horror, the binds tightened with every word the angry pixie hissed. “But with this eradication, it’ll become easier to convince the rest of the Legends to bigger things. Arceus will see our potential!”
“If he doesn’t, the rest of the Legends will back us up.” Mew said it with such certainty that Jirachi felt her wish tags stand on end. Hovering in the middle of the chamber, with her jaw sending agonizing bolts of pain throughout her face, she could finally start to imagine what lengths Mew would go to get what he wanted.
Despite her older brother’s unwavering determination, she stood her ground. “I’ll never allow you to do such a thing. Arceus and the rest of the Council will know about your doings before the day is done.”
The Psychic-type, unsurprised by her words and tone, closed his eyes and shook his head. “You and Arceus are much alike. You think with your hearts and are unwilling to sacrifice for the greater good.” He opened his eyes, Mew’s ears flicking back. With an unbecoming snarl set loose from his throat, he shouted, “But you will not
Without another word, Mew thrust his glowing hand into Willard’s intangible chest. Ignoring the cold that swirled inside the depths of the soul, he spread his fingers and let snakes of power slither freely. Willard yelled in agony and arched his back as the sensation of being ripped apart flooded him from every direction. The chill that came with being dead began to intensify, began to smother him and make him gasp in desperation.
“No!” Jirachi dove towards them both but was thrown out of the way by a flurry of pulsating leaves. The Hoenn legendary pushed herself forward, one arm protecting her face, as the leaves danced around her to leave stinging cuts that tore her tassels and dotted her body with blood. Amber eyes squinted through the storm of jade then widened when Celebi rammed into her. With her breath punched from her lungs, she couldn’t stop her sister from trapping her against the cave wall. Before she knew it, the rocks were digging into her spine, and the blood dripped down from the cuts on her face to blind her. Still, Jirachi met Celebi’s stony blue eyes.
“We must rid ourselves of our nuisance of a sister, Celebi!” their brother yelled above Willard’s pained bellows. “Jirachi will never agree with what we’re doing! She’ll ruin our plans!”
The Grass-type turned around, mouth dropping open in shock. “Kill, Mew? You want us to kill
Mew shoved his other hand inside Willard, and it slid in easily. The soul was growing weaker and translucent; already the man’s screams began to fade into the forgotten crevices of the mountain. The tendrils of pink were like magma, fire-hot and writhing, looking for a way to escape but knowing they were not allowed to. Now, the deity grasped two of his power vines and told them, Break free!
Jirachi tried to lurch into action; she sensed Mew’s sudden spike of energy and saw Willard’s eyes widen into saucers. Celebi put a hand on the Legend’s chest and called upon a Leech Seed to entangle Jirachi’s limbs and secure theme against the wall. The Steel-type struggled against the twine-like plants, grimacing as they slithered and steadily took her energy. As helpless as she was, Jirachi couldn’t help but witness Mew’s snakes do as they were told.
Willard burst into fragments of twinkling light, his screams masked by the sound of the energy vines bursting forth and fiercely whipping each other in their dance of freedom. As the disappearing shards rained down and his yells were lost among the shattered remnants of his soul, Mew fisted his hands and called his power back with a wiggle of his fingers.
“Yes, kill, if that is what it takes to keep the Pokémon World in one piece,” he finally said. He whirled around and locked eyes with the frozen and horrified Jirachi. “You brought this on yourself, Jirachi. Your duty is to help your brethren keep order, make decisions and sacrifices, but you have not. What use are you, then? They’ll be more Legendaries, but there’s only one Earth.”
Celebi, absorbed by Mew’s words, doubled over when Jirachi elbowed her in the stomach. The slip of concentration loosened the Leech Seed vines enough for her sister to escape, the plants left torn and limp by the Confusion she had sent running through them in her burst of adrenaline.
“Arceus will know about this!” she yelled, whipping around towards her brother.
Only to get a Psychic in the face.
Rivulets upon rivulets of amethyst light assaulted her, manifesting a ringing in her ears that made her briefly black out. Gasping like a fish out of water when she could force her eyes open, the Steel Legend felt bolts of paralysis grip her limbs. As she fell like a stone, Celebi and Mew popped into her view, their hands aglow with unleashed power. Jirachi fisted her hands, which made her entire torso shutter in protest, and sharply flew up in a twirl of yellow and pulsating blue. The cerulean grew brighter and climbed up the trembling, rocky walls, dislodging boulders that soon cascaded down upon Mew and Celebi. When she saw that they dodged the debris with ease, she reached out and swept her arms down. Immediately, the rocks fell with the intensity of meteors.