Song for this chapter: Theme of Love
One Last Plot
Arceus’ golden hooves came like crashes of thunder. Every Legend in the room lifted their heads and gazed at their father, unsure of what to feel. Some were irritated at being called back at such short notice, and others were simple bored and wished to go.
Yet something told them this wasn’t something that could be put off. They’ve had a meeting not too long ago. What was so urgent?
Perched on the towering pillars, Ho-Oh and Lugia noticed Arceus’s walk was a bit less graceful and sure. From the floor, Darkrai and Cresselia noticed the slight slump in the shoulders and the dullness of the gems that decorated the spokes of his wheel. Shaymin and Manaphy, at the feet of everybody else, were the only ones who saw Arceus’ hindered presence for what it was: a deep sadness that threatened to shake the deity to his core.
Ho-Oh opened her beak to demand why they had been summoned so suddenly, but Lugia draped a silvery wing to stop her. The phoenix narrowed her eyes but kept quiet when Arceus craned his neck their way. Those green eyes held the sadness Shaymin and Manaphy had seen. Taken aback, Ho-Oh lowered her head and settled on admiring her reflection on the pristine tiles below.
Playing the part of concerned children, Mew and Celebi stood on a pillar and watched the pathetic procession. It was amusing to Mew how they had a hand in reducing this once proud and majestic being into the bowed shadow before them. Of course, he expertly hid his grin with decades of practice. Celebi was having a harder time playing the role Mew wanted her to. Unlike their brothers and sisters, she knew why they were gathered here. The grim, hardened expression their father carried was not to be taken lightly.
She looked over to Mew and the solemn look he painted so well. Biting her lip, the time guardian looked over at Arceus again. He had stopped, but the echoing of his walk still beat off the hallowed hall. Looking over the Council of Legends, he began to speak.
“My children, those who have helped me through countless centuries, we have known since our existence that though we rule and watch over this world, we share it with humanity. As powerful as we are, we cannot let ourselves believe humans are incapable or harming us. We must not interfere in their wars.
“As some of you may have noticed,” Arceus gravely addressed the silent Legends, “Jirachi is not here with us.”
The only one who reacted to the sudden realization was Shaymin. Every petal on her head flower shivered and seemed to wilt as she paled. Manaphy blinked, not quite understanding why her friend looked so stricken with grief, or what grief really was.
“Shay…?” the youngling whispered.
Shaymin held the tears at bay long enough to send Manaphy an ashen expression of sadness and regret. When the child still looked lost, the Grass-type looked towards Arceus, hoping, praying, that that forlorn expression on his face was nothing but a sick joke.
Arceus felt her gaze. Craning his head, the deity sent a silent plead of forgiveness before bowing his head and letting the light that had gathered around his form condense into one point before him. Slowly but surely a battered body materialized for all to see.
“Sister,” Shaymin breathed upon laying sight on Jirachi’s cold corpse. Her world blurred with hot tears, and her heart painfully ached. There was nothing she could do but stare at her broken friend.
“Her body is covered with ash and gun powder,” Darkrai bluntly stated, but underneath the frankness of his words, there was an enraged undertone that made even Cresselia stop mid-scold.
The celestial counterpart gave Darkrai a glance before uttering to their creator, “Is she really gone?”
Arceus looked down at battered body. There was no need to answer for all the evidence laid before them as clear and grim as a deserted battlefield. The burns that mottled her skin still seemed like they simmered a dull red under the heavenly light that bathed them. That child-like face that was once so lively was covered with a thick blanket of ash and dried blood. On a pillar, Ho-Oh sniffed in disgust, but the scowl never reached her eyes.
“Is this why you’re lecturing us?” she demanded of their father. Refusing to glance at the pathetic little body, Ho-Oh fixed her orange eyes on Arceus. “Was Jirachi really killed by these humans’ scuffle?”
“It seems so.” Arceus took in a silent breath and said to his children, “Human affairs are human affairs. We, as their deities and guardians, must only oversee them.”
“What was Jirachi doing down there?”
All eyes switched to Shaymin. She defiantly traded glances with them, daring her siblings to say something. She repeated to Arceus, “Why was Jirachi in Johto? Why did she get involved?”
Mew’s saddened mask cracked for a minute, and his eyes narrowed by a fraction of an inch. He hadn’t counted for Shaymin, one of the youngest and most timid of his siblings, to speak up.
Arceus looked down at her determined, yet fearful eyes. “I do not know. Jirachi was kind and caring, so the sight of feuding humans might have been enough for her to swoop in and help.”
The Gratitude Pokémon didn’t know what to say, didn’t know what to feel. Shaymin shifted her gaze to the floor, laid down, and buried her head in her paws to cry. Manaphy came closer, antennae drooping in sadness she didn’t really comprehend. She looked from the sobbing Legend to Jirachi’s body and decided to stay where she was. Something about this whole scene told her she wasn’t suppose to interfere.
Arceus nudged Jirachi’s body with his snout, feeling, one last time, for any signs of life. Unforgiving cold radiated off her body and nothing else. The god couldn’t keep away the lead weight of dread upon his heart. Why wasn’t there even an inkling of power within this bruised corpse? He himself had filled Jirachi with power, life, and vitality. Arceus knew the incredible and resilient soul she had.
The Alpha Pokémon shook his head. An alien emotion rose up within him, threatening to fill his heart and flood his thoughts.
Anger. This emotion that left a bad taste in his mouth was anger against the humans that killed his child with their petty fighting.
Arceus looked away. It was useless to feel anger. Nothing could be gained from it.
“Jirachi shall be buried in her home mountains of Hoenn,” he stated to the others. With a crane of his majestic neck, he glanced towards Ho-Oh. “Inform Suicune that Jirachi is now in a deep sleep and will awaken once the centennial comet arrives. She’ll roam the regions and spread the rumor on the north wind to Pokémon and humans alike. I fear the knowledge of Jirachi’s death will only arouse anger and more turmoil.”
Ho-Oh nodded in response and continued to keep her eyes fixated on the floor.
“You are all allowed to leave. Mew and Celebi, thank you for taking care of this Hall in my absence.”
The pixie duo gave small nods of acknowledgment.
Darkrai swept the room with one last cursory glance before melting into the shadows the pillars cast. Lugia and Ho-Oh stretched their enormous bodies and flapped their wings to bring about a wind that whisked them away in the blink of an eye. Cresselia teleported without a word, taking the young Manaphy with her.
The hedgehog shook her rumpled fur and stood up. Her red and puffy eyes pleaded for the impossible. “Arceus… Can nothing be done?”
Arceus met that troubled gaze with surprising difficulty. Like every parent, he wished he could take away the pain and feel it instead. “I’m afraid not. One cannot bring back the dead.”
Shaymin swallowed and nodded. “I understand.”
Arceus bowed his head so his snout touched hers. “I hope you do.”
Day had not risen yet, so instead of taking flight in her alternate form, Shaymin was teleported away with Arceus’ power.
With the rest gone, Mew and Celebi were to take their leave. They had so much on their mind that they almost missed Arceus’ golden hoof tapping against the floor. The pixies turned, Mew’s face threatening to break out into an irritated frown; Celebi and him had important matters to attend to, and yet their father still wanted to talk?
His sister refrained from gulping. Though her features were well-schooled, Celebi suddenly wanted to look down to hide her worry. Was he aware of what they had done?
“Mew, Celebi,” the grand deity started with a cordial nod. “Once again, I am grateful for taking my place during my leave.”
“It was our pleasure,” Mew responded.
The feline inclined his head in mock respect so that his frustrated features were not seen. As of late, he only had so much patience with their Creator. Every mask he wore in front of Arceus was itching, wanting to be taken off. It was only centuries of practice that allowed them to stay.
“We were honored to do so,” Celebi put in.
Unlike her brother, it took some well-pushed buttons to take off her masks. Her pleasant smile was still in place, and her cerulean eyes still shone with kindness that hid thoughts of dead sisters and destroyed souls. However, she didn’t know how long she could on without having her eyes drift towards Jirachi’s corpse.
Arceus gave a warm smile, yet his serious stance did not relax. “Everything is well in order, but there is something I inquire about.”
Mew straightened, his smile now a bit too forced. Celebi’s eyes darkened a smidge.
“I feel Death’s presence here. Tell me, why did he come?”
Mew could gave chortled in relief. And here he thought the mighty Arceus was actually astute!
“He finally found an assistant: the soul of a recently dead, Johtonian sergeant.” This time, the tiny Pokémon’s smirk was true. “If I may say so myself, he certainly seems capable of dealing with Death’s less-than-pleasant demeanor.”
A deep chuckle answered him. “I am glad to hear. Well then, I must meet this assistant and see for myself.”
Both Pokémon gods gave their father an expectant look. Arceus nodded.
“Yes, you may go.”
Mew took Celebi’s wrist and transported them out of the sacred chamber without a word. The fairy only had the time to look at her brother in confusion and shock before the world’s colors swirled around her like a ruined watercolor painting.
Mew’s almost-manic grin frightened her. Celebi could almost see the gears of his mind turning behind those twinkling eyes. Not even when he was plotting his Purgatory scheme had he been so gleeful, so eager to carry his plans out.
Her wrist was squeezed reassuringly.
And that soothed her worry more than anything else.
Celebi was let go immediately after the spinning stopped. The Guardian of Time stumbled in midair before regaining her bearings and looking towards Mew. As composed and graceful as ever, he merely spared her a glance then looked at their destination. Now his smile was tamed, and only his curling tail betrayed the utter enthusiasm he felt.
“Celebi,” he spoke, still too distracted with his scheme to spare the Legendary a look, “I’m in need of your assistance.”
The Grass-type mutely nodded, though he didn’t see.
If she didn’t know better, Celebi would have thought they were in any lush forest. Beneath the moon’s rays, it didn’t look like anything worthwhile. Then she had glanced at the cave in front of them and felt the lingering of a power she was all too familiar with. As her blue eyes traveled from the cave’s entrance all the way to the tip of the shadowed mountain, Jirachi’s presence filled her core. It sent a chill down her spine that she couldn’t manage to shake off.
“Mew,” she cautiously ventured, “what business do we have here?”
Mew finally turned around to look at her. He crossed short arms and leaned back in the air, as though he was about to lecture a class. The swishing of his tail slowed as he explained his thoughts.
“Celebi, I have come to realize that yes, we can change this world for the better, but it will take time.” Mew tilted his head to the moon above them but seemed to look beyond the celestial body, pass the wispy clouds, and towards a place in the heavens. “Though Arceus was not any smarter as to what happened to our sister than the rest, he is no fool. If we continue to go forth with our plans as quickly as we have, we will
be found out.”
A sigh was heaved. “We need to go about this carefully. I admit,” and here Mew frowned at himself, “that we have been too reckless as of late. Perhaps our visit to Purgatory was too soon. Perhaps our sister could have survived a bit longer without knowing the whole truth.”
At the mention of Jirachi and the possibility that she might have lived, if only for a little longer, made Celebi avert her eyes to the ground. Her heart still ached, and her hands still felt stained with blood. Jirachi had to be silenced, and Mew was much closer to her than Jirachi ever was, but family was still family.
Mew looked up from his pondering and shook his head at Celebi’s conflicted expression. Hopefully, she would learn that sacrifices had to be made in order to fulfill their duties as guardians of this world. Besides, their relationship with Jirachi was hardly strong. (Mew had always considered her an annoying, little sister that always seemed too eager to please.)
“The effects of what we are about to do,” he continued, slightly raising his voice. It worked, and Celebi started from her reverie, “are not going to be set into motion for quite some time. However, the matter is complicated and in need of a time deity like yourself. As knowledgeable as I am, time traveling and what changes in the past can do to the present are areas I do not know much about.”
Silence reigned as Celebi tried not to let her horrified disbelief show. As though trying to protect her powers from the grinning Mew before her, a hand flew to her heart.
“Mew…” Celebi trailed off then swallowed her shock. “I cannot use my powers for this.”
Mew’s patient expression turned dark, and Celebi immediately regretted her words. Yet her mouth was wired shut, her eyes set into narrowed defiance.
“I don’t think you quite understand.” His words were slow and dangerous but free from the malice he had shown Jirachi. (Celebi took this as a good sign but did not allow herself to relax.)
“Altering the time stream can cause many unforeseen consequences,” the forest fairy explained, unwilling to make eye contact; Celebi’s gaze lingered on a particularly interesting stalk of grass below. “Not even I will be able to set things right if things go wrong.”
When she looked up, Mew didn’t look quite so threatening anymore. A wan smile appeared on his face.
“Celebi, you are putting too much thought into this. You are the Guardian of Time and I am Arceus’ first child. Our knowledge and powers won’t allow for such petty mistakes.”
The sister felt the blush creeping up her cheeks and quickly bowed her head. Sobering, she mumbled to her chest, “It’s not that easy.”
Celebi gasped when fingers lifted her chin. Mew’s gaze met hers, and it wasn’t until that moment that she realized how much their blue eyes were alike. Mew couldn’t help but inwardly smirk when he saw his companion’s blush deepen.
“I trust you. I know you will never let any harm come to us or the time stream.”
“The change in the time stream will be felt,” was the barely-audible response.
“Only Dialga will be able to notice the change, if I’m correct, and he is much too young to care.”
Unable to nod, Celebi closed her eyes in agreement.
Mew smirked and let her go. “There, you see? We’re capable of handling this.”
“Now, Celebi, this is my plan. Listen carefully and point out anything you think will cause problems.”
And so the Voice of the Forest kept quiet as Mew told her his plot. Each word and gesticulation he acted out made her stomach turn. Arceus’ soft but stern voice echoed like approaching thunder within her mind. Yet the inside of her cheek was bit to stop any rising protests; her face still tingled from its blush, and her heart was still warm with her brother’s bestowed confidence.
It took her a while to realize Mew had finished. Celebi blinked then grew serious. His words were tossed back and forth in her mind. Archaic rules of time that only she could make sense of without being driven mad helped her breathe and analyze what she had just been given.
“Of course, the initial spatial rip causes some concern,” she began. “However, the concentration of power that still resides here should allow the spatial fabric much more resistance against accidental rips.
“Also, when a Legendary travels to the past, or future, their counterparts will temporarily disappear in order to avoid potential meet-ups and confusion. Yes, even the past I will disappear once we step foot into the past.”
When Mew saw Celebi dangerously downcast, he repeated one of his concerns. This made her push through her nagging conscience.
(It was so easy to ignore Arceus’ wise warnings for Mew’s words.)
“The destruction of it will be a slow and progressive realization to everybody. It will be much like remembering a once forgotten dream. The same will be for the humans. Even Dialga will not be able to discern between what was and what we changed without truly looking back on it, and with his arrogance, I doubt he’ll do so.”
“So everything seems to be in order?”
Celebi visibly cringed at the sheer, almost childish, glee in Mew’s voice.
“Yes, it seems so.”
The feline immediately turned to the cave carved into the mountain’s face. “Then let’s go. There’s no time to waste.”
They left the quaint forest and entered what used to be Jirachi’s home. Immediately, the air grew cold and stale; even Mew couldn’t help but feel the violent chill that ran up his spine. Celebi looked around, half-expecting Jirachi’s ghost to rise from one of the shining, sea-green crystals embedded into the walls. When nothing but their ethereal glow responded, she kept on flying with downcast eyes.
“It’s telling us we’re trespassing,” Mew muttered in an oddly subdued voice. He narrowed his eyes, but the hard sheen to them was gone as though the crystals had washed away the sinful thoughts that always clouded his mind.
Celebi chose to stay quiet, afraid that if she spoke, the cave’s unwavering chill would seize her again. Instead she concentrated on the narrow tunnel they were flitting through. Jirachi had done a good job on clearing away any boulders and rock formations, and she briefly wondered how she had managed to imitate the crystals on Birth Island so well. Celebi looked towards Mew and was surprised to find his face devoid of emotion. Was he actually unnerved about the haunting aura that hung over this place?
“If you’re wondering about the presence that is still felt here,” her brother tartly cut into her thoughts. “Stop it. Jirachi is gone.”
Celebi started, not even aware her brief glance had turned into open staring. Mew quirked an invisible eyebrow. “I’m sure you’re aware that this is just Jirachi’s lingering power.”
“Yes,” the time traveler mumbled. How could she admit that it was the guilty part of her heart that made her believe in such ludicrous things as Jirachi rising from the dead?
All wounds heal with time,
she told herself. You should know better than anybody else. This will soon be cast away like a nightmare.
She was relieved to find that the tunnel was left behind in favor of a large room. Celebi tilted her head and heard a steady drip drip
somewhere behind her. A glance below revealed a small pond (or lake? The limited light made it hard to see exactly how big the room was) shimmering beneath the glowing crystals.