The chaotic atmosphere of New Bark Town was replaced by the solemn Kantonian camp in the outskirts. Currently, a silent Mark Antony was tied up in the middle of a tent. With his blade taken away, the tent bare of anything but him, and guards outside, he saw no reason to try and escape. Even though his ribs and hand had healed, the bullet to the spine had done something. Every now and then his fingers would twitch and curl painfully while his legs went through periods of numbness. The captive stared at the rope that bound his feet, wondering if the Kantonians were merely mocking him. He then looked up when the beige flaps of the tent parted.
Sergeant Cassius Bradley stepped in and knelt before the Johtonian, a fine eyebrow raised in question. Mark Antony glanced at the man’s polished boots and his meticulously clean, royal-blue uniform, his face as emotionless as stone. Cassius grinned even wider, emerald eyes threatening to dance out of their sockets.
“So this is the scourge of Johto,” the forty-year-old man remarked. His teeth, all of them as bright as his platinum-blonde hair, were shown in an acidic smile. “You really are the kid I imagined you to be.”
Mark Antony looked up, his head inclined. “As original as I had imagined you to be, Sergeant.”
The Kantonian ignored the remark. “I really do wish we had more time to talk. We might have had the chance if your regiment had caught up with us. This brings me to my main question.” Cassius leaned forward, shadowing Mark Antony’s indifferent expression. “Why are you here by yourself?”
“This kid doesn’t feel that you need to know,” was the response. Mark Antony flashed his own sickly-sweet smile. When he was grabbed by his vest collar, he barked, “Go right ahead and threaten me, you barbarian! From the day I donned my uniform, I knew I was dressing for my funeral.”
Cassius eyed his enemy’s blood-soaked vest and hand. “You’re a strange one, Colfax. Here I thought military power would make someone so young think they were… immortal.”
Noticing the intent stare, Mark Antony chose to lead the man away from the tempting subject of his injuries. “Apparently you, though, believe you’re a great deceiver. I must admit, you fooled me and my corporal.”
His plan worked; Cassius, the most prideful man that roamed the region, forgot about Mark Antony’s healed wounds in favor of mocking him with a loud chortle. He saw him as a child, not an equal (as shown by how he refused to address him by his sergeant title), which just made Cassius easier to fool. The Kantonian was a great strategist, Mark Antony thought, but off the battlefield, he was as self-absorbed as the kings of old.
“I’m glad you enjoyed it, Colfax, but did you enjoy the burning of New Bark more?” came the words that tore through his thoughts like a knife.
“Shut up!” Mark Antony shouted, his cool exterior completely lost. In his reawakened rage, he attempted to stand up, but he only managed to lose his balance. Face against the dirt, he heatedly continued, “Don’t you dare
mock New Bark and everything that it stands for!”
Cassius hauled the younger man to his feet in one easy movement and couldn’t help but smirk when the Johtonian’s unresponsive legs made him stumble into him.
“You know, Colfax, you may act as cold and distant as the rest of us officers, but you’re still just a kid who loves his region.”
Mark Antony snarled, once again being held by the collar. “If you don’t love Kanto then what the hell are you fighting for?”
“I would gladly sacrifice a few Kanto cities if it meant gaining control of your government and economy.” When faced with disbelieving eyes, he added, “I don’t look down on you because of your age. You’re unfit for your rank because you have the nativity of a child. You’re not going to save every inch of Johto. You’re not going to rescue every woman and child in the region. The entire picture is going to go up in the flames due to your thick-headedness. Can you even begin to imagine all those small towns you could have saved but ignored while on your way to Cherrygrove?” Cassius cocked his head before looking down at the stunned Mark Antony. “Then again, it’s too late to talk about it now, right?”
Pushing him back, Cassius ordered for a guard to lead Mark Antony outside by his tied hands. As the auburn-haired sergeant was forcibly straightened, he was met with the sight of a dangling blind fold.
“Guess what today is?” were Cassius’ final, malicious words.
Seconds later, Mark Antony was walking through a sea of inky black, all the way hearing the whooping yells of Kantonian soldiers. Their crude remarks and beastly chortles flew past him. Despite the way his legs threatened to send him toppling to the ground with each spastic sting of his spine, he marched on, his head held high and his steps always sure. Minutes were hours in his blinded world; each step was a leap away from life.
Sometime during the infinite march, he was stopped and told to stay in place. Cassius’ footsteps past him until they faded among the single cock of a rifle. Every soldier in the camp settlement was now silent and turned into one, solemn entity.
“Any last words?” Cassius yelled from somewhere in the pitch of night.
Mark Antony, as tall and proud as ever, replied, “I’ll see you in Hell!”
The single round was fired, and he fell to the floor.
In the dank interior of his tower, Death started, then closed his single eye in a smirk. He turned away from the window and teleported in a cloud of curling smoke.
He had been growing tired of waiting.
“This wouldn’t have happened if she had listened.”
Celebi turned towards her elder brother. Mew’s features, though shadowed by the heavy smoke New Bark Town expelled, were clearly contorted in fury and something else the forest spirit identified as… satisfaction?
“Mew!” she exclaimed, grabbing the pink feline by the shoulders and turning him to face her anxious, cerulean eyes. Mew raised an eyebrow, staring at her hands as though challenging Celebi to continue holding him in such a manner. The Grass-type released him like a hot coal but still held her demanding stare.
“Jirachi was the only one who knew of our exact plans. With her out of the way, there will be no opposition.”
“She’s our sister,” the time traveling pixie responded as they both descended towards the ravaged town.
“I hardly knew her,” was Mew’s curt reply. The New Species Pokémon turned towards the shocked Celebi, the small embers that still dotted the sky rushing past him and illuminating his coy grin. “Besides, isn’t she your sister, too?”
Knowing what he was implying, Celebi turned silent. Then they both stopped in midair, their gazes connecting. Jirachi’s extremely faint aura had skyrocketed into their radars for a reason they couldn’t pinpoint. All they knew was that it felt like a drastic shift of power, much like when they took the life essence of nature to fuel their own attacks. Mew gained a rather pleased smile and dove deeper into New Bark, now knowing exactly where to go. Celebi was on his tail, weaving through the wreckage once they were following the street. When she reached the remains of the Pokémon Center, Mew was already floating over a lifeless body.
“Let’s go back to Heaven.” He deftly used his psychic powers to levitate Jirachi’s corpse for his horrified sister to see. Celebi swallowed, reaching towards the battered body with her powers.
Unsure of how she felt, Celebi teleported away with Mew and her sister’s remains.
Moments later, a baby’s cry broke the silence they left. Now that Jirachi’s body has been forcibly expelled, the soul the Legend had thought would not last much longer was overtaking hers. Although she fought with every fiber of her being, everything that she’d gone through that night had taken too much of a toll. On top of that, this human, though young as she was, wanted to survive.
She should have never underestimated the power of the human soul.
A/N: I had this chapter finished since Monday, but it seems proofreading took longer what with some art club stuff, solo and ensemble, and other stuff. Oh well, it's here!
This... is the turning point in the story where the main plot finally begins. Actually, it's in the second book where the plot gets going, but the next chapter sets some of it up. This chapter, I think, is the point where you'll decide whether to continue reading or not. ^^;
Oh, Full Metal Alchemist refrences!
1. The part where Mark Antony said he knew he was dressing for his funeral is similiar to what Wrath told Mustang in the manga about Hughes.
2. The last line is a refrence to what GreedLing told Wrath in Volume 14. Hehe, I luff GreedLing.
What's in store for Chapter Seven? Well Mark Antony, unfortunately, does not get to meet Cassius in Hell because Death and those in Heaven have something in store for him. He's not the least bit thrilled.