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Creative Writing Share your fan fiction, stories, poems, essays, editorials, song lyrics, or any other related written work. All written must be your creation. Start a new thread, and keep replying to that thread as you add on more chapters. Anyone can join in at anytime.


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Old 12-23-2009, 12:06 AM
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Default Re: My Guardian Angel (PG-13) (Take a look at the Character Profiles!)

Chapter 4

The Dividing War

Present Day: October 29th, 1725

“You Kanto scum!” cried a voice hoarse with exhaustion and thirst.

“Scum?!” came an equally harsh, cracked retort. “You Johtonians are as blind as ever!”

Only the two soldiers heard the exchange above the thrumming of bullets and the clang of metal that ravaged the once peaceful settlement of Cherrygrove, Johto. Most, if not all, of the abandoned, wooden cabins were either burning or beginning to give off foul-smelling, silver smoke, and it was clear they were going to end up like the charred and trampled remains of the settlement’s flora. Whatever official or government buildings that were still standing were used as temporary headquarters or watch posts, though that didn’t mean they didn’t sport crumbling walls or collapsed halls.

Mark Antony Colfax heavily sighed from on top of his Rapidash mount, the grip on his reins tightening. The sergeant hated to admit it, but things were not going well for the Johto side. Where were the hearty soldiers he had trained ? Where were those eager and loyal Johtonians from his trusty Regiment 66 that were willing to do anything and everything for their region? It seemed that his soldiers had grown tired and lazy during the two years of constant fighting. Mark Antony closed his amber eyes and jumped off the white, one-horned mare. The flared bottom of his high-collared, silver uniform fluttered like a proud flag, and by the glint of his unsheathed sword, the dirty row of buttons that led from his collar to his yellow waist sash glittered like gold. Beneath the fringe of his spiky, chestnut hair, Mark Antony scanned what laid in front of him. If the constant haze of smoke that had settled over the battlefield bothered him, he didn’t show it. Instead, a wry grin made its way across his handsome features.

“Hawkeye,” he addressed his horse Pokémon, “charge in there with a Fire Spin.”

With her brimming, orange and red mane and tail of fire now seething with a low hiss, Hawkeye galloped forward. Before the Kantonians behind the targeted, wooden shack could reload their rifles, the Rapidash’s fire shackles around her hooves flared to join the rest of the writhing storm of scorching ruby. Mark Antony watched the collapsing pile of wood burst into flames and heard the horrified yells for only a second before he raised his sword high in the air.

“Regiment, fallback!” The twenty-five-year-old’s voice rang and penetrated the whizzing gunfire like a knife. With a turn of the heel, he ran towards the direction of their headquarters, the kicked up dirt furthered dirtying his leather boots and gray pants; the golden stripe down each pants leg was hardly visible beneath the grime. In a flash of white and dimming scarlet, Hawkeye rode up towards her master. Mark Antony swiftly regained his seat on the saddle and turned the Fire Horse Pokémon around to make sure his troops were retreating.

They were, but their runs were slow. Those who had Pokémon mounts were at the rear of the retreat, making sure no Kantonians decided to follow them to take down a few more soldiers. Much to their relief, the opposing side was also retreating to their headquarters: the abandoned hospital on the other side of the small town. Their red and blue uniforms, as bloodied and torn as the Johtonians’, were soon out of sight. An angry Mark Antony watched them go and had the irresistible urge to rip his faded green headband and throw it on the floor. Here they were, already counting all the soldiers in need of medical attention and worrying about their diminishing first aid supplies, and the Kantonians had a hospital to go back to! It made his blood boil as hot as his mount’s mane.

“Come on, Regiment!” he cried while turning Hawkeye to the front. “Back to the base!”

Two years ago, Mark Antony would have been answered by tired groans, but the regiment had learned by now that any complaints would only further fuel their sergeant’s ire. Mark Antony got only half-hearted nods in response instead, not that he noticed. His hardened eyes were set on the two-story building in the distance, its spiral that grew from the dome ceiling amazingly intact. On it, bronze miniatures of Ho-Oh and Lugia intertwined and looked down at the faded white building and the dug watch posts that surrounded it. To his relief, the soldiers on watch were alert and uninjured, and they raised their heads when the Pokémon beside them perked their ears at the approaching army. Leaving the base in the hands of a few watchmen and their Pokémon was risky, but it had turned out fine in the end. Still, he was going to leave more men behind. Cassius Bradley, the Kanto Regiment 12’s lieutenant, was crafty. If he left the base so vulnerable a second time…

“Sergeant Colfax?” came a voice to his right.

Corporal Edward Cox pulled up beside him on his own Rapidash mount, green-gray eyes troubled beneath his locks of messy, dirty-blonde hair. His uniform of a silver jacket and pants were in better shape than Mark Antony’s, although the sash that had been around his waist was gone; Edward had resorted to carrying the sheath of his sword in one hand. Mark Antony turned towards the thirty-year-old man.

“Yes, Corporal?”

“Do you intend on continuing to the settlement of New Bark?”

Mark Antony considered the carefully-voiced words for a moment before replying, “I don’t yet. We need to talk it over.”

Edward let a small frown overtake his features. “Do you think we can take it?”

The young sergeant looked over the walking troops. “I used to think we could defeat Cassius’ regiment in a night,” he answered, the hint of a growl rising in his throat. “But I don’t know what to expect from them anymore.”

“They’re human, Mark Antony,” Edward told him, looking at the same troops but with empathy in his gaze. None of the privates could hear their conversation over the chats among themselves. Relieved chuckling and thankful prayers that they still lived to fight another day hummed in unison with muffled footsteps of boot against mud. The corporal’s stare drifted towards the slate-gray clouds above them, idly wondering if the incoming rain would douse the fires they left behind. “And so are you.”

“So because we’re human we need to have our expectations lowered?” The chestnut-haired man fixed Edward, the only person of a lower ranking that could get away with speaking to him in such a manner, with a leveled gaze. “You’re expecting us to lose against Cassius’ regiment?”

“Oh no,” the man said with a chuckle, which startled the mare he was riding. “I fully expect us to win. Cassius is much too arrogant for his own good, and his soldiers are no better.”

Mark Antony smiled a bit and laughed. “Haven’t you always said that I’m the arrogant one?”

Edward returned the grin. “Yes, I have.” He then became sober. “Which is why I fear you’ll push these soldiers too far too soon.”

Amber eyes narrowed in irritation. “We’ll decide on a plan of action once we get to base.”

Edward sighed as he watched Mark Antony pass; he knew his superior had already made his decision.

______

The regiment was now gathered in the once grand foyer of the town hall, their mounts tied up outside and receiving some well-deserved rest. Inside, those who weren’t huddled against the walls to be tended for their injuries or outside on their watch posts were waiting for their sergeant and corporal to speak. They leaned over the railings on the second story, their body weights threatening to send the rusted bars to the floor, while others decided to lean against the granite pillars that supported the second story and the dome roof. All of their faces were as serious as the visages of the mayors painted in the faded and ruined portraits on the walls and floor. By now, they didn’t expect any words of praise, and the encouraging remarks Mark Antony would shout were always a bit intimidating, especially with the wild look he would gain in his eyes.

“Regiment,” Mark Antony started from where he was in the middle of the foyer, a desk set in front of him and Edward stationed at his right. The twenty-five-year-old paused and looked down at the map he had spread over the wobbling desk. Worn until the edges fluttered at the slightest touch and the drawings and notes on the parchment were recognizable only to the writer, Mark Antony analyzed it once more, eyebrows creased, before he continued. “Tonight did not go as planned.” He briefly glared at the dirt-washed carpet on the floor, its once glorious ruby now a pathetic shade of gray. It was not like him to state the obvious, but the bitter taste of defeat was still fresh in his mouth. Edward was watching him from the corner of a worried green eye.

Although it isn’t the sergeant I’m worried about, he dryly thought with a glance at the soldiers. Even those who were being bandaged shared a look of dread.

“The Kanto regiment was better prepared, better organized, while we were scrambling like ants. In Johto! Cassius’ regiment was supposed to fall tonight, but we fell short.” Mark Antony’s cold glare swept the room. “Are you all really loyal to Johto?”

“Of course we are!” a voice shouted. A private from the second floor leaned even closer to the center, half of his body precariously dangling over the rail. The man regained his composure after his companions muttered to him to behave. Though his face was in shadow, his rigid stance and balled fists showed his anger. When he spoke, his voice was as strained as his whitening knuckles. “We fight for Johto! We fight for our people!”

When Mark Antony said nothing to his disrespectful private, more and more similar shouts rang out. All made the walls of the building shake with the men’s pride. Even those who could not get up from where they laid injured on the floor banged their fists or clapped their hands in support. Edward narrowed his eyes in annoyance, something that went unnoticed by the now excited regiment, and was about to shout for them all to get at attention until he caught sight of his sergeant’s steadily reddening face.

“Idiots,” the amber-eyed man muttered under his breath. He then faced his regiment again and shouted as he slammed his fist against the desk, “YOU IDIOTS!”

The yells stopped only for Mark Antony’s booming voice to overthrow the silence.

“Patriotism?” he scoffed at them. “Over the past year, the Kanto forces have taken over our border and majors towns like Blackthorn and New Bark. We have been behind their tails and doing nothing to hinder them for all this time, and yet you all stand here, shouting about loyalty and pride? Instead of spreading your cockiness about, learn to focus in the battlefield! Learn to steel your nerves in the heat of the fight! If not, leave this regiment and face those citizens left homeless after Kanto’s ruthless takeovers!” He gritted his teeth, his face receding to its normal peach color as he regained his cool temperament. Was he cold when he spoke to his privates? Yes; he knew it from day one, but he never thought the day would come when he would lose his professional poise.

“Our goal had been to take down the Kanto regiment tonight. We failed, which is why in a few hours, we will attack again while they are recuperating at their hospital base. First, a handful of you will go with me and Corporal Cox to scope out the area, and then all those who are able-bodied will go and carry out the attack once the signal for an all clear is sent.” Mark Antony raised a hand to silence the already rising protests and finished with, “Those who will go scouting will be informed in an hour after I and the corporal discuss the matter. You are all dismissed.”

Without another word, Mark Antony snatched the map from the desk, turned his heel, and walked down the hall to the right and entered his office, Edward trailing behind him.

_____

“They’re right, you know,” the corporal told the sergeant, taking a seat on the beaten sofa that took up the right wall of the small office. Behind a scarred nose, Edward looked at the younger man taking a seat behind a desk. To his trained gaze, Mark Antony looked as worn as the peeling cream wallpaper and the scuffed hardwood floor of the room.

“Right about what?” the distracted man dryly asked, spreading his map again but this time studying it so deeply his brows became one fine line of concentration.

“They’re right that this is a suicide mission,” Edward elaborated, although he suspected he didn’t need to. As distant as Mark Antony acted, he knew the sergeant was well aware of what his men thought.

“In what way is this a suicide mission?” Mark Antony asked, still not looking up from the map and his tracing fingers. “Our men are capable enough to carry this out. They just need to be pushed and reminded that this could very well decide whether Kanto will gain control of Johto.” Now, he did look up, his mouth set as fine as his eyebrows. “And if I’m not mistaken, weren’t we supposed to discuss our candidates for the scouting mission?”

Edward took no notice of the question, though he did mentally smile; it seemed that Mark Antony realized that this was a continuation of their previous conversation. Instead, he fished out a cigarette from one pocket, a lighter from another, and began to smoke. With the freshly lit joint now dangling from one side of his mouth, he said, “You know fully well that there are not many men left without injuries. With lack of medical supplies and food, by tomorrow, they won’t be able to lift their weapons without shaking. They’re capable of carrying out this mission, but for how long? Long enough to defeat Cassius’ regiment before their surprise wears off?”

Mark Antony intertwined his fingers and met Edward’s eyes. Those sounded more like facts than questions to him. “We trained our regiment hard, all for tonight. Even if they’re not in top condition, we can’t just wait and fight another day. With Cassius, if we let him go, I don’t think they’ll be another day.”

“But it’s not just Cassius, is it, Mark Antony?” Again, his question was more of a statement. Edward tapped off some of the cigarette’s ashes as he watched the officer’s eyes narrow into dangerous slits, his fingers tensing into claws that dug into his skin.

“Of course it’s not just Cassius,” he replied tartly. “It’s all of those Kantonian forces, all of Kanto itself, that needs to be stopped. They invaded our land, believing that Johto hid Sinnoh refugees from their last petty scuffle with them. They started driving out citizens from their homes to search despite us insisting we had no refugees on our lands. They were the ones that forced us to attack them, and then they have the audacity to blame the destruction of our towns on our refusal to cooperate?” He scoffed at the acid-filled retelling of the past two years of war, then spat, “May Arceus curse them.”

With a sigh that expelled a cloud of smoke, the corporal straightened, his cigarette now held between two of his fingers. This time, he chose not to say anything. Mark Antony must have cruelly laughed at the privates’ pride in their region because his own was so strong that it put theirs to shame. Edward had no doubt that it was this overpowering feeling of regionality that had propelled Mark Antony to the top and made him this intelligent, if intimidating, man. His decisions had always carried some risk.

But nothing like this.

Then again, what did he expect in this crucial period in the war?

“I know what you’re thinking, Edward,” came the voice that startled the older man from his reverie. “I can see it in that distant gaze of yours.”

Mark Antony, for the first time in a long while, wore a smile free of arrogance and cockiness. The grin was sad in the way the young officer softened his eyes as he recalled a memory that already seemed like decades ago.

“You’re wondering how one of the army’s drummer boys became this cold-hearted sergeant at such a young age. What could cause a man to become so emotionally detached in such a short amount of time?” Edward averted his friend’s gaze. To be frank, the sudden change in Mark Antony’s usual steel eyes unnerved him. Still, he heard the man’s words as clear as day.

“I saw, even at that young age, how Kanto was waiting for us to slip up and give them the opportunity to snoop in our business and meddle for a chance to gain control. That scuffle they helped us with against Hoenn in 1607? After it was over, their embassy here grew larger, both in government officials and in stationed military. What happened when some of our plans for military weapons were stolen by the pirates of the Orange Islands in 1700? Kanto helped us get them back but kept a copy of them as payment for their help. They were manipulators then, and they will continue to threaten our land of Johto if they are not stopped.”

With that said, Mark Antony stood up and made for the door. “Now come, we made our decision as to who will accompany us on our scouting mission.”

It wasn’t until his superior opened the door that Edward blinked and spoke up. “We? I didn’t decide anything.”

All the slightly frazzled blonde received was a smug grin.

“Then maybe you shouldn’t have talked so much, huh?”

_____

A/N: ("regionality" is a made-up word from "nationality". Just thought it would seem silly to put nationality when the land masses are considered regions.)

I know, a pretty short chapter, but I accomplished what I wanted to in this chapter. Really, it's more of an introduction to a new character than anything. I was going to add a bit of Chapter Five, but I wanted the focus of this chapter to be Mark Antony, not what happens later. And yes! Finally, Mark Antony arrives! Been waiting to write his chapter since I finished outlining the story back in September.

Sorry if there are a lot mistakes in this chapter. Been nasally congested since Saturday, and I wanted this up before I went to visit my sister for a week soon (probably tomorrow). Like always, I hope anybody reading enjoys this new chapter! ^.^

What is in store for the next chapter? Why Jirachi comes back, but she's not in the best of shape. With Mark Antony's help, she makes a history-altering decision.
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Last edited by Phantom Kat; 12-23-2010 at 12:46 AM.
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  #47  
Old 12-23-2009, 02:31 AM
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Default Re: My Guardian Angel (PG-13) (Hey look! Chapter Four is up!)

Awesome chapter PK!!! Mark Antony seems like a very interesting character. I'm really glad we finally get to meet him. I wonder how the war between Kanto and Johto will go.... I wonder how Jirachi is gonna get help from him too..... XDDD
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Old 12-31-2009, 02:49 AM
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Default Re: My Guardian Angel (PG-13) (Hey look! Chapter Four is up!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShionRasenka View Post
Awesome chapter PK!!! Mark Antony seems like a very interesting character. I'm really glad we finally get to meet him. I wonder how the war between Kanto and Johto will go.... I wonder how Jirachi is gonna get help from him too..... XDDD
Thanks. ^.^ Yeah, Mark Antony is a pretty interesting guy. After this, he's one of the character who pretty much drives the story on. About the war, it's only going to be in the story for about two more chapters. It's not important plot-wise, but you'll learn more about it.

Hehe, the Mark Antony/Jirachi encounter has been one of those parts I've been itching to write about. xD

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Old 01-18-2010, 03:09 AM
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Default Re: My Guardian Angel (PG-13) (Hey look! Chapter Four is up!)

Song for this chapter: Negai, Yami no naka de from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha.

_____

Chapter 5

Supernova


Even after the sun had completely set, the air was saturated with acrid smoke. Mark Antony looked at the distant view of the battlefield from the cover of a row of bushes. Behind him, Corporal Cox and six of their finest men waited for him to speak. As they did, their eyes analyzed the surroundings, a part of them wondering if the trees were even real. The small forest they were currently hiding in had been far enough from their battle with the Kantonians to escape a fiery fate. To see leafy canopies and flourishing bushes after days of traveling through wastelands and abandoned towns was enough to take their breath away.

“The direct route to the hospital is too dangerous,” their leader finally spoke, his whisper a smidge louder than his men’s bated breath. “We’ll have to go around it, through this forest, in order not to be seen. It’ll take longer, but this is why we’re here: to find out what is the best route for the regiment to take.”

“Sir,” a private spoke up. Though his voice was soft, it was not hesitant; he was one of a handful of soldiers that did not fear the sting of his superior’s words. “With the Kanto regiment at their base, we may have the opportunity of raiding the Pokémon Center for food and medical supplies.”

Mark Antony turned, a thoughtful expression on his face. Pokémon Centers were a fairly new business in Johto and might not have much medical supplies to offer; they had only been built when the war started for traveling Johtonian regiments to heal their fighting and scouting Pokémon. Then again, little medical supplies were better than no supplies at all. Without saying a word, he regarded the man who had spoken then looked back out into the battlefield. Try as he might, the twenty-five-year-old man could not see the aforementioned building.

He grinned. “It doesn’t seem it was anywhere near the battlefield. Perhaps the Center escaped being torched to the ground.”

Again, Mark Antony turned around, but this time, a determined frown was etched on his features. “The Center is not among the burned and collapsed buildings I see, but it could be in another part of Cherrygrove. Keep an eye out for it; our men and Pokémon are in dire need of supplies.” The sergeant walked onto the dirt trail his men were on. Unsheathing his sword, he told them, “And just because this forest seems desolate, it does not give you reason to let your guard down.”

All eight of them, their weapons in hand, began to walk through the beaten path carved out by forest Pokémon. The blood stains and mud that coated their uniforms were hidden beneath the shadows of the trees’ canopies; any moonlight that did seep through the smoke and dense leaves bathed the thin, almost-black tree trunks. The sound of their muffled footsteps was in unison with the faint rustle and chirping of Pokémon hidden around them. The men ignored the buzz of nature. As long as they didn’t spot the flash of red and blue that made up the uniform of a Kanto-owned Pokémon, they didn’t consider themselves in any danger.

An hour had gone by in silence until one private stopped with a startled gasp and sniffed the air. While everybody else turned to look at the soldier with raised eyebrows, Mark Antony smelled what had alerted the private. The faint odor of charred wood and leaves that drifted on the wind was accompanied by a stronger smell of burning meat and spices. Mark Antony stepped forward a few paces and squinted, trying to pierce the gloom.

When he couldn’t, he leaned on his sword and simply said, “There are some people camped a little way’s off. They could be Cherrygrove citizens who stupidly decided to ride out the takeover or stationed Kanto soldiers on the lookout for us. Either way, we have to be the ones with surprise on their side.” Mark Antony gave Edward a glance, who nodded in acknowledgment.

“Okay, Private Kisubo and Private Toren, both of you…”

As the corporal assigned positions, Mark Antony leaned against a tree, still trying to see past the thick black that covered the forest. A couple more steps forward did nothing to help. As nonchalantly as though he was mounting his horse, he sheathed his sword and nimbly heaved himself up a tree limb. With his boots now precariously balancing him on a thick branch, he straightened and looked towards where the campfire aroma was coming from. Mark Antony tipped his head for a better look at a flicker of red he saw from the corner of his eye.

It was gone by the time he turned.

Edward’s faint words faded completely when the sergeant’s curiosity took over. One hand hovered over the hilt of his sword while the other laid over the trunk of the tree for support. Mark Antony sniffed the air, then frowned. The odor of smoke and meat was weak; the stillness of his bangs and the tied ends of his headband told him it was because something had interrupted the breeze that carried it. The branch he stood on creaked as he turned around to tell Edward. Mark Antony froze, though, when the screech of a raptor tore the air in two. He whirled around, narrowly avoiding falling eight feet to the ground, and whipped out his sword. The bird of prey flapped himself out of his dive at the sight of the blade but still brandished sharp, ivory talons.

“Kanto,” Mark Antony hissed at the sight of the ruby vest on the Pidgeot. The beige bird whipped his head back, the flowing scarlet and diamond-white feathers on his scalp writhing like snakes, and gave a great downbeat of his wings. Whatever breeze Mark Antony had felt before intensified into a tremendous gust that knocked him off his feet. The man grabbed the tree branch he had been standing on as he fell, but the Pidgeot grabbed it in his talons and snapped the limb like a toothpick; a taunting trill was let loose from the Pidgeot’s rose-colored beak at the sight of the human’s shell-hocked face. The forest rushed around him in a mix of colors until Mark Antony landed back-first on the ground.

“Sergeant!” Edward exclaimed, running to his friend’s side.

“I’m okay,” his superior muttered as he jumped to his feet despite his throbbing spine and chest. Steadying himself with a quick breath that sent a ripple of pain to a possibly-broken rib, he looked over to his privates. When he saw they merely avoided the Pokémon’s gusts and talon swipes, he yelled, “Don’t hop around like schoolchildren! Fire! Fire your weapons! The enemy is already aware of our approach!” The disappearance of the campfire smell told him that much.

Fired shots made the trees around them quiver. The privates, now braver with the command to defend themselves, took cover behind the trees, the canopies’ shadows hiding their well-toned forms. Edward had his own sword out and was poised for any incoming attacks, including those of Kantonian soldiers. Mark Antony’s grip on his own blade tightened in frustration. The Pidgeot was deftly dodging the whizzing bullets with an Agility that allowed him to weave through the canopies and fire an attack whenever he was seen. One of the privates was caught off-guard when a Gust came at him from behind. The attack swept him off his feet and straight into the tree he was hiding behind. The Flying-type let out a screech of triumph before propelling himself towards the fallen soldier, talons menacingly curled. In the blink of an eye, a shooting pain ran through the Pokémon’s stomach and up his chest to settle as a burning sensation that made him shriek in agony. Mark Antony came in running, the empty sheath of his dagger shoved into a strap in his boot, and kicked the Pidgeot squarely in the abdomen.

“Damn bird,” the spiky-haired man spat at the grounded flier. Mark Antony pinned the massive fighter by running his sword through one wing and standing on the other. When he looked down at the bird’s pained chocolate eyes, what little sympathy he could have felt was shoved to a dark crevice of his mind. Pokémon were intelligent creatures, and those who didn’t want to obey their masters could escape. The Pidgeot that writhed at his feet chose to follow his master.

He leaned over and yanked the dagger from the Pidgeot’s stomach. Ignoring the agonized wail, he did the same with his sword and turned towards Edward, who had come up to him with the rest of their troop in tow. “The Kantonians are closing in,” the corporal told him, only the slightest dimming of his eyes betraying his cool exterior; the privates that helped their nearly-knocked-out comrade to his feet weren’t so discreet. “We need to move out.”

“You’re right,” Mark Antony agreed, nonchalantly cleaning his sword and dagger on the grass before placing them in their sheaths. “We’re not sure if the camped Kantonians are two or two dozen. Only a fool would take the chance with our numbers.” Looking towards the west, he traced the path they had taken so far in his mind and knew with certainty that there was a barren expanse of land that bordered the River Cerre a little way’s from where they were. If they reached the desolate field, any Kantonian Pokémon would lose the cover of the shadows and tree canopies.

Then again, they themselves would be left wide open.

If only our scouting Pokémon hadn’t been killed off in that Blackthorn battle, Mark Antony thought with gritted teeth. We could have found out how many Kantonians we’re actually facing!

“Everybody!” he said aloud. “Retreat to the west! If we make it out of the forest, we’ll leave the Kantonian Pokémon without cover! Corporal Cox, lead them out!”

Edward blinked and demanded upon seeing Mark Antony’s eyes alight with fiery determination, “Sergeant! What are you planning to do?”

“I plan to hold them off long enough to give you guys a running start.” When the blonde opened his mouth to retort, Mark Antony insisted, “I can take care of myself, you know. If you don’t go right now, you’ll kill us all.”

All Edward could do was nod and dash towards the west, barking a sharp order to the privates to follow him. The younger men looked at their officer with expressions muddled with confusion and shock but obeyed. Mark Antony watched them go, and when their backs disappeared, he dashed towards the wounded Pidgeot, one hand going for something that was latched beside his sword. The bird rose one dark-brown wing, a trill that was more pathetic than threatening stuck in his throat.

Or is it the blood bubbling in its chest that is making that sound? he idly thought, eyes as emotionless as his expression.

From his sash, he unclipped a ball about the size of his hand. The sphere was clunky at best with both halves made of dark-black metal that already began to rust in spots; the man concluded after a moment that it weighed as much as his sword. Despite its flaws, Mark Antony still took a moment to revel in the invention, finding it, for the umpteenth time, hard to believe that it contained a living, breathing Pokémon. When he had received it from one of the military scientists a few weeks back when his regiment was stationed at Blackthorn, the central headquarters of Johto’s military, the mere thought that this capsule contained a Pokémon was ludicrous. If that hadn’t caused doubts, the claim that this “Poke Ball” allowed humans to gain the Pokémon’s complete and utter obedience did.

But whatever misgivings he had about the new invention would have to wait until the Kantonians were stopped in their tracks.

Pidgeot began to struggle against his exhaustion and weakness when the man before him took out his sword. Mark Antony stabbed the raptor in the chest then rolled him over on his stomach when the body became lifeless. As a second though, he ripped the Kanto vest off and threw it off to the side; looking at it had made him sick.

Pressing the button in the center of the Poké Ball, Mark Antony felt the sphere wobble in his palm before its top half opened to let out a stream of white light. Ivory changed to dusty-gray as the light solidified into a three-foot-tall bipedal creature of crudely-stitched cloth. Blood-red eyes blinked up at the human, a muffled hiss making his yellow, zipped-up mouth quiver into a hideous scowl. The Banette used its stubby legs to back and crouch defensively, his stub of a golden tail bristled like a broom and the wisp of cloth that curled from behind his three blunt, head spikes whipping ominously behind him. Mark Antony stood in front of the Hoenn Pokémon, unaffected by the murderous glare that was sent his way.

“You see this?” he demanded, thrusting the Poke Ball into Banette’s view. “I have control over you. I am your master. If you decide to disobey, I’ll kill you on the spot. Disobedience to the Johto side is alliance to the Kanto side.”

Only an agreeing grunt left the furious Ghost-type.

“Good.” Mark Antony could now hear the Kantonians’ raucous yells of attack. They were growing close enough for him to be able to feel the thundering hooves of a Rapidash; he was not going to wait long enough to be able to see the rider. He stared down at the possessed doll, then pointed at the feathery corpse. “I want you to animate that body. Make it seem as real as you can.”

Banette grinned evilly; it was time to release his pent-up anger. He gripped the zipper of his mouth with one of his tattered fingers and pulled until a cackle was ripped free. Even as he pulled out a handful of nails from his maw, his maniacal laugh still rang through the grim forest, his eyes as bright as rubies. The military officer watched as Banette took the nails, all of them coated in a thick-layer of rust, and stuck them into his torso, arms, and throat. It wasn’t until he saw the wounds open and the blood trickle into pools of red that Mark Antony realized that it wasn’t rust that covered the phantom’s tools.

A tuneless hum now overcame the animated marionette. He hovered above the Pidgeot’s corpse and let his blood drip onto the body, eyes now simmering coals that illuminated the inch-long nails embedded into his body. The corpse twitched as its cream feathers were soaked to become a grotesque shade of poisoned garnet. It lifted itself into the air, head still bowed down, its own blood drowning the grass. Banette lifted his hands above his head and twitched his fingers. Wings shook then spread. Talons slashed at invisible foes. With a flick of his wrist, Pidgeot’s head snapped into position.

Mark Antony unconsciously stepped back, horror making his eyes widen and his face to become pallid. Even when his ears heard the bark of an order, he couldn’t will himself to take control. The Pokémon in front of- No, he couldn’t call it one of Arceus’ creatures, not anymore. Whatever he had in mind when that scientist told him Banette could move the dead, this was not it.

The shot of gunfire made him jump into action. Forcing himself to look straight into the eyes of the bird, of Death himself, the twenty-five-year-old commanded, “When the Kantonians arrive, attack.”

Banette gave a barely perceptible nod from within his trance, his mouth still agape in a silent shriek. Mark Antony walked around the Pokémon and took cover behind a tree, the Poké Ball back in place and his sword held in both hands. As he waited, kneeling on the blood-soaked ground, his eyes couldn’t help but travel to the Pidgeot.

When their eyes had met, the bird’s gaze had been glossy and clouded over by the white veil of death. The sword wounds no longer shed blood, but they leaked viscous body fluid that stank of decay. Feathers that had been stained with the Marionette Pokémon’s blood had fallen to the ground to curl up like withered leaves, leaving the corpse’s back almost completely bare. It was a vile monstrosity, but Mark Antony had no choice but to rely on the faux Pidgeot. He could never hope to defeat the incoming Kanto soldiers, even with Banette’s help. Ingenuity and the element of surprise had to be used to their fullest potential if he wanted to get out alive, even if it meant going against nature herself.

The ground trembled once more. Mark Antony pressed himself closer to the tree and the shadows it cast, a white-knuckled grip on his sword. He was unaware that the still-possessed Banette extended the tree’s shadows so that it covered the officer in inky darkness until he couldn’t see the shine of his blade. As the tendrils of black slithered and hid his form from view, the Kantonians broke into the clearing in a thunderous orchestra of galloping hooves and running feet. A single beat of time later, all sound ceased to exist.

Then, “By Arceus… What abomination is this?”

“Sir, it’s alive!”

“It’s… Damn it, sir! It’s one of our own!”

Banette swept his arms in an arc, that same, malicious guffaw escaping his unzipped mouth. Pidgeot flapped his wings, spreading the odor of rotting flesh into the air, and rocketed towards the shell-shocked Kanto soldiers. At the same instant, Mark Antony flew from his shadowed perch, sword at the ready. Expertly, he ducked Pidgeot’s massive wings as they flapped for a second time, avoided the bird’s sharp beak as it lunged at a soldier, and ended up to the side of the group of twenty Kantonians. The man nearest to him turned around, mouth agape in surprise, but was quickly rendered helpless when Mark Antony slashed at his legs. Going down as a crumpled heap on the ground, the Kantonian writhed in agony as Mark Antony kicked the man’s gun to the shadows.

“What the?!” the leader exclaimed, drawing his own sword out from its sheath. He ran at the Johtonian but was then knocked back by Pidgeot’s wings. While Mark Antony knocked a soldier’s rifle from his hands, he saw the red-haired, navy-clad leader regain his footing and rush at him again, this time with two more soldiers on either side of him. Mark Antony backed up then jumped towards one private and aimed for his abdomen. Much to his surprise, the other solider was faster than him and slammed his rifle into the backside of his head. The sergeant stumbled and barely managed to avoid falling to the forest floor. Mark Antony rushed to pick up his fallen sword when the sound of a fired shot blasted in his ears.

“Ugggh!” he yelled and withdrew his right hand, cradling it to his chest. The bullet wound bled rivulets of blood that stained the front of his silver uniform scarlet. Mark Antony fell to his knees at the sensation of needles running through every nerve in his throbbing hand. For the Kantonians, the moment of distraction was enough. The leader raised his sword, emerald eyes narrowed; the two soldiers raised their rifles and aimed.

Branches of trees bent then snapped off as Banette commanded Pidgeot to unleash a Twister. Mark Antony quickly latched onto a nearby tree trunk as the wind whipped his clothes and hair in an attempt to send him to the next region. From the corner of his shielded eye, he saw the three men collide with the trees behind them. Unfortunately for them, they were not unconscious. They were fully aware of their breaking ribs and the echo of a broken skull as they were slammed into the trees, picked up again by a well-aimed Gust, and then thrown towards the rest of the soldiers.

“Thanks,” Mark Antony huffed towards Banette once the hurricane gale settled until only the broken branches and fallen leaves on the forest floor twitched. Miraculously, his sword had been lodged between two rocks instead of being blown into a nearby canopy. On his feet again, he pulled it out, ignoring how his hand screamed in protest; the bullet still wedged in the shattered bone of his hand felt like it burrowed deeper. The twenty-five-year-old bit the inside of his cheek, successfully fighting back the urge to dig the shrapnel out himself.
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Old 01-18-2010, 03:17 AM
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Default Re: My Guardian Angel (PG-13) (Hey look! Chapter Four is up!)

When he turned towards the Ghost-type, an audible gasp left his mouth. Mark Antony saw Banette twitch the invisible strings of his dead puppet in a way that made Pidgeot gain a ravenous light in his eyes. He stepped back once, and that’s all the initiative Banette needed to give the mental order.

Pidgeot reared his head and flew over the two soldiers and their leader, who were too injured to move. The soldiers fired round after deafening round, but they could only watch in dismay when their bullets lodged into the bird’s unfazed corpse. Soon, they were out of sight when the massive raptor was on top of them. Talons dug into their chests for a perch before Pidgeot’s beak tore into meat and muscle. Those who were able-bodied ran away from the gruesome scene, their faces as white as sheets.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” Mark Antony bellowed at Banette, his hands shaking at the sight he had just turned his back to. He had seen death and gore just as much as he had seen the sun rise and set for the past two years, but the sight of humans being so mercilessly murdered by such an unfeeling creature sent chills running down his spine.

The possessed toy looked at him with eyes that tauntingly danced within blood-red flames. He raised a hand, and Mark Antony was lifted into the air.

“You’re under my command!” the Johtonian shouted, livid with anger and fear. Already he felt that his limbs were not under his control. They were as frozen as the blood in his veins.

Banette sneered at the human’s claim. With a twitch of a finger, he unhooked Mark Antony’s Poké Ball and held it aloft. Within seconds, it was crushed into pieces of metal that rained down upon the screaming, dying men. At the sound of the Poké Ball’s remnants hitting the ground, the ghoul grinned in satisfaction.

“You vile creature,” Mark Antony spat, ignoring how the bullets fired at him by the surviving Kantonians were eerily deflected back at them with nothing but Banette’s hellish gaze. What was this twisted Pokémon planning to do to him?

His world was suddenly tipped backwards with another silent command from the phantom. Mark Antony’s sword clattered to the ground when he was jerked back by an invisible string at the back of his skull. The chill that had settled on his limbs spread to his chest and grew until he found it agonizingly difficult to breathe. Like a fish out of water, he flailed and wished for air, growing increasingly terrified. From head to foot, he was numb, and not even the burning of his hand and broken rib were there to remind him that he was still conscious. Mark Antony didn’t doubt for a second that Banette could kill with the bat of an eye.

Every color of the forest suddenly rushed at him in an overwhelming wave of hues. Green turned to black. Brown turned to black. Through the sea of midnight, Mark Antony only saw Banette’s cold eyes of fire.

_____

When Mark Antony woke up, he saw the night sky above him was lit with orange. For a moment, he thought the sun was rising, but when the smell of gunpowder flooded his nose, he sat up, tensed. The fire among the stars was from war weapons, not the sun.

“What in Arceus’ name?!” he exclaimed. Mark Antony then began to harshly cough, which made his injured ribs rattle painfully. Mark Antony held his uninjured hand to his chest, greedily sucking in air. His whole body shook now that it wasn’t frozen by Banette’s power, and a giddy chuckle slipped out of him. The normally level-headed man sat there and laughed at the fact that he was still alive. This time, it wasn’t his training or intelligence that got him out of a scrape. The only reason he was still breathing was because Banette chose to spare him, for whatever reason. His fate was decided by a creature that was supposed to be under his control.

At the thought, he immediately became sober, then furious.

“That bastard,” Mark Antony shakily growled, cursing the scientist that had given him the Poké Ball with every fiber of his being. “That incompetent, lowly bastard!”

He would have sat there for hours if a glance at his blood-stained uniform didn’t remind him of who he was. Mark Antony stood up, but unlike the last time, his feet still wobbled and threatened to send him toppling to the ground. Stubbornly, he shook his head to dispel any lasting memories of Banette and looked around. A curse was muttered when Mark Antony didn’t find his sword.

I guess I have to make due with this, he mentally sighed while slipping out his dagger from the sheath attached to his right boot. The small weapon felt like a twig in his calloused hand.

“Now then…” The amber-eyed man trailed off when he didn’t recognize any of the surroundings landmarks.

What landmarks? a snide part of his thoughts quipped.

For once, Mark Antony had to give that part of his mind some credit. Indeed, the only landmarks near him were the hundreds of charcoaled tree stumps that had long since finished smoldering. Looking down, the sergeant kicked up the blackened dirt and watched how it crumbled off in heavy clumps riddled with burned pieces of leaves.

“A battle took place here,” he muttered to himself. Mark Antony observed the wide expanse of field, now nothing more than five miles of scorched land, then a nearby tree stump. He traced the smooth grooves at the top. “Battle Pokémon cut this whole forest down in order to battle unhindered. Fire Pokémon then incinerated the fallen trees into ash.”

Mark Antony’s eyes clouded over, and even when he looked up to glance at the town a couple of miles from the dead forest, they were unfocused with thought. Faintly, as though he was recalling a legend from an ancient tome, the fire that engulfed the buildings further fueled the thought that kept turning in his mind.

There was no doubt about it. The only force with such strong Pokémon on its side was Cassius’ Kanto regiment. Charizard, Arcanine, Pinsir, Scyther, they were all rumored to be under his command. They had defeated a Johto regiment in this very spot and were now laying waste on New Bark Town. Even from this far, Mark Antony could make out the Johto flag mounted on top of the most important research facility in the region. It was not down, but he was sure that if he blinked, it would be lost in a sea of flames…

“But wait!” Mark Antony yelled out in surprise, the realization literally knocking him off his feet. Sitting on a stump, he stared at the hell-consumed town with wide eyes. He tried to speak, but his mouth had gone paper-dry.

But Cassius is back at Cherrygrove! he silently reasoned, hands now gripping his locks of matted hair and staining them with blood. How could he be here, in New Bark Town, so quickly?! Mark Antony breathed in the smell of the deceased forest in an effort to calm down.

Something else dawned on him.

This battle has been fought days ago… We’ve been deceived! Cassius was never in Cherrygrove! That was their plan! They led a part of his regiment for who knows how long to derail us from Cassius’ path!

“I should have seen Cassius with my own two eyes,” the officer rasped, gripping the hilt of his dagger so tight he thought the bullet in his hand would rip right through. Whatever pain that racked his hand was washed away by his fury. Mark Antony jumped to his feet, the stinging of his ribs just making him growl in frustration, and faced the fire-stricken sky. “Damn it all! Damn it all to Hell!”

And that was when Mark Antony saw something fall from the heavens.

As bright as a miniature sun, it lit the smoke-filled clouds when it streaked through them. Mark Antony leaned forward, mouth agape in awe. He squinted and tried to see past the veil of light that surrounded it. After a second, he flinched. Whatever kind of energy it was, it hurt to look at it for long.

“It’s a fallen Pokémon,” he reasoned, anger momentarily shadowed by hope. His legs automatically began taking him to the west, where the strange object was falling towards. “It was probably shot down.”

His jog turned into a sprint, then a full-fledged run that sent pangs of pain to run rampant through his chest. More than once Mark Antony had to force himself to keep running or fall victim to his injuries. If this was a Pokémon, he could possibly force it to help him back to Cherrygrove. Though his stomach tied itself into anxious knots at the mere thought of another Pokémon, he knew there was no other choice. Walking back would take him at least two days, yet that was if he wasn’t spotted by Kantonians. With nothing but a dagger he could barely grasp in his shot hand, the chance of returning back on his own was laughable.

“They’ll trip over themselves for the chance of capturing the elusive Mark Antony Colfax, the youngest sergeant to date,” he couldn’t help but remark. He unconsciously chose that moment to grip his dagger too tightly and suffer the excruciating pain of the bullet grinding against his cracked hand. Mark Antony let out a gritted curse and continued running, deciding to keep his mouth firmly shut from now on.

Then the air trembled and gave a low hum like the plucked string of a cello. Mark Antony stopped as he saw the streak of light suddenly plummet like a missile about a mile from where he was. The hum evaporated then came back as a sonic boom that threw him into the air. The twenty-five-year-old was flipped backwards and thrown on the ground, where he gripped his chest and squirmed in agony. When Mark Antony opened his tearing eyes, he held his breath, his body paralyzed in a half-crouched position. Try as he might, though, all he heard was silence.

“Dead?” Mark Antony asked in a rare moment of ineloquence.

He half-crept, half-jogged the quarter mile to the twenty-foot wide crater on the outskirts of New Bark. The closer he got, the hotter it became. By the time he looked over the rim of the crater, a sheen of sweat was visible on his brow. Every upturned rock and clump of dirt was seething with heat, and as Mark Antony stood up, the sole of his boots sent a wave of warmth throughout his entire body. With every hair on his head standing on end, he gazed at the undistinguishable lump in the middle. Was that small mass of yellow and gray really a Pokémon that could help him? Again, his stomach did unpleasant back flips. The earth around him, burned scarlet with whatever energy aura the creature had been surrounded by, simmered and crackled in warning.

“Death by Pokémon or by Kantonians?” his voice sounded, almost inaudible among the consistent sizzling of the earth.

Mark Antony gripped the double-edged sword and decided to approach the listless Pokémon.

As he began to walk towards the middle of the impact site, the charred dirt left behind clear imprints of his footprints before collapsing into fine crumbs. Sweat now dribbled into his eyes and to the front of his uniform to mix in with the blood that stained it. Mark Antony gripped his jacket and fell to his knees. Each breath was now labored and struggling to leave his parched mouth. Through hazy vision, he saw the lifeless Pokémon was no bigger than an infant. Uncertainly, he stood up and walked towards it, each step now hissing with heat. Mark Antony grunted when sweat trickled down his hand to pour into his bullet wound.

“You… better… be… helpful,” were his exhausted and frustrated words that made his ribcage ache.

Once he got his sweat-soaked hair out of his eyes, he looked down.

“What…?”

For a moment, Mark Antony really thought he was looking down at a baby. The small Pokémon was wrapped in two tattered tassels the color of gold while her small eyes fluttered against unpleasant dreams. Without even thinking about it, Mark Antony scooped up the bundle and looked into the Pokémon’s silver face and the bloodied cuts that marred it. She trembled in his arms, and the two cyan tags that dangled from the tree star tips on her head shook as though to dispel the nightmares that plagued her.

“What are you?” he finished, words now soft and difficult to get out. Vertigo claimed him and forced him onto his knees again. However, even through his blurry and unfocused eyes, the Pokémon’s injuries were as clear as day. He traced a rather large gash on her cheek and felt her flinch.

You’re hurt, he mentally said now that his mouth only allowed him to release raspy breaths. Mark Antony looked down at the Pokémon, seeing helplessness and fear in that shuddering mass of injuries. Yet, despite the defenselessness, he sensed the inkling of something that told him this was not a Pokémon that should be manipulated for human gain. A sacred being was in his arms, and the thought of forcing her to do anything was lost.

Immediately, the overwhelming heat dissipated around them. Mark Antony, his breathing hard, saw the Pokémon’s face was strained with effort.

/I am Jirachi,/ came the telepathic call. The human felt the edges of his brain fizzle at the power’s touch. Goose bumps rippled his flesh.

“Jirachi?” Mark Antony echoed, the unfamiliar name rolling off his tongue in the same manner he recited the names of the Pokémon deities of his region; he didn’t know what made him realize that Jirachi deserved the same amount of respect as Johto’s Legends.

/I beseech you; help me./ Amber eyes opened to gaze at their potential savior. /My body cannot last much longer./

“What can I do?” the sergeant asked, oddly detached from the scene. He felt like the little kid he was so long ago reenacting one of his old bedtime stories. It should have felt silly, but with the gravely-injured Jirachi in his arms begging for his help, it felt anything but.

/Hide me away so I can recuperate./

“You’ll die,” he bluntly told her. “I’ll get you medical help instead.”

Either Jirachi found his frank words true or she had no energy to retort, she simply closed her eyes.

/I leave my life in your hands, human./

“Mark Antony,” he told her. “That’s my name.”

But Jirachi had already fallen into a restless slumber.

Mark Antony held the psychic close and looked towards New Bark Town. Somewhere in the midst of battle was a Pokémon Center that could save the life of this goddess of the sky. Were the chances of reaching it in one piece good? No. Even if he somehow managed to get to it without being shot on the spot, there was no guarantee the building was still in the hands of the Johtonians or even still standing.

“I have to try, though.” Mark Antony then looked down at the sleeping Legendary, each difficult breath rattling in her chest. “Are you really a deity like the Beasts of Legend?”

Jirachi only shivered in response.

_____

A/N: The first episode of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha is so similar to this chapter: unsuspecting human finds an injured creature in need of help, but at the same, it's more than it seems; the human then goes off to a medical facility. I thought the similarity between the two was so cool. ^^

Everything except the meeting with Jirachi was improvised writing. I SO did not expect to put in such a creepy scene like Banette's. It was a nice addition, though.

Chapter Six: Mark Antony makes his harrowing journey through New Bark Town with an injured Jirachi in his arms.
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Old 01-18-2010, 02:30 PM
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Default Re: My Guardian Angel (PG-13) (Chapter 5 has been released!)

Hey PK! Glad to see you got the next chapter up! I hope you had a good Christmas and New Years!!

That was an AWESOME chapter! That Banette was UBER CREEPY. I was SO not expecting it to do all that. I wonder how Mark Antony and Jirachi will get on?? XDDD
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Old 01-18-2010, 11:44 PM
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Default Re: My Guardian Angel (PG-13) (Chapter 5 has been released!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShionRasenka View Post
Hey PK! Glad to see you got the next chapter up! I hope you had a good Christmas and New Years!!

That was an AWESOME chapter! That Banette was UBER CREEPY. I was SO not expecting it to do all that. I wonder how Mark Antony and Jirachi will get on?? XDDD
My holidays were awesome, thanks. ^^ lol, I was writing this chapter on my laptop at my sister's apartment, she looks over my shoulder and is all like, "Mark Antony?" I was all like, "^^; Yeah, I'm writing a story."

Hehe, me neither; the scene snuck up on me as I was writing. :p I actually have fan art of that scene on my laptop; I just need to finish linearting and coloring.

Yeah, me too. I haven't decided whether Jirachi is going to be almost non-responsive through Chapter 6 or will tell him some of what has happened. Oh well, we'll see. And omg, I've been dying to write the next chapter for quite a while. Everything I"ve built up from Chapter 4 will come to an end. x3

- Kat
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Old 02-20-2010, 04:58 AM
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Default Re: My Guardian Angel (PG-13) (Chapter 5 has been released!)

Song for this chapter: Forestaste from Pandora Hearts.

_____

Chapter 6

Foretaste


He had to be crazy, Mark Antony reasoned. The human shook his auburn head and looked behind at the crater he had just climbed out of. Despite the constant sounds of bombardment in New Bark Town, Mark Antony’s world had turned silent. Every rock, every pebble, had ceased its sizzling to coolly lay at his feet. Gusts of air once again blew across the scorched land to ruffle his locks of hair and Jirachi’s wish tags as freely as though the barrier the injured Legend had put up had never existed.

“This is crazy,” Mark Antony muttered to himself, looking down at the crater again. The crash sight was no longer an unbearable inferno, but his heart thumped erratically and urged him to drop the Legendary and run in the opposite direction. Then again, his heart also made his hold on Jirachi tighten.

“To Hell with this!” he finally yelled to himself, turning on his heel and beginning to run towards New Bark Town. Of course, he wasn’t going to sprint into the line of fire, but maybe running would dash away the thought of leaving Jirachi to fend for herself.

Mark Antony kept that up until the sound of exploding bombs and the distant yells of men finally reached his ears and brought him back to the reality that was the Region War. Skidding to a halt, he panted and clutched his burning side; it seemed he had forgotten about his injuries during the run as well. Not even realizing that the pain in his ribs had turned from constant stabs to dulled pangs in seemingly minutes, the sergeant quickly hid behind a sagging tree. Peeking from behind it, Mark Antony eyed the entrance of New Bark Town, which was now nothing more than a crumbling arc of white stone with its writing faded and blackened with ash.

“How dare they barge into one of the most important towns in Johto!” he lividly hissed under his breath. Childhood memories of visiting the town with his family and being completely in awe over the technological advances that flourished were crushed by the realization that Kanto had probably burned it all to the ground. New Bark Town, Johto’s beacon of ingenuity and hope for a better future, was in the hands of the region that wanted to tear his homeland apart piece by piece. Mark Anton hadn’t grasped what the fall of New Bark meant for the future of Johto until now.

Jirachi moved in his arms; his fingernails were digging into her. Mark Antony started a bit and apologized. This time, he noticed that his injured hand flexed and unflexed without the excruciating pain of before. Though the sensation still made his teeth grind against each other, his hand could now ball into a fist without feeling like he was closing his hand around a sharpened blade. The man stared at his twitching fingers, amazed that they weren’t bone-white and jerking with pain, then at Jirachi.

“I know what you’re doing,” he told her, hazel eyes gaining a shadow of guilt. “You’re healing me instead of yourself because you know, and I know, that I’m your only hope.”

After checking for any Kantonian soldiers, Mark Antony ran under the collapsing arc of stone and entered New Bark Town. Immediately, the air was again throbbing with incredible heat that took his breath away. He took a step back, eyes tearing when all he saw was flames of brilliant orange. After a steadying breath, Mark Antony reopened his eyes to gaze at the mournful site of the beloved town, or what was left of it. Every house on either side of the cracked and rubble-littered cobble stone street was on fire. The smoke that curled from the roaring flames had turned into a toxic fog that swirled around the pieces of rubble and abandoned carriages on the street, almost managing to hide a handful of corpses from view.

Again, Mark Antony felt nothing but fury and deep sadness for those civilians caught in the crossfire. He cared not only for Johto’s magnificent towns but for its people, even if his aloof exterior didn’t show it.

“But they’re not my priority right now,” he firmly told himself. Mark Antony took a deep breath, fighting every urge to just go out and pummel any Kantonian he saw to the ground. The idea of freeing the town by himself was ridiculous; the notion of saving Jirachi, though, was just a bit less impossible.

Mark Antony looked down at his charge and caught sight of the uniform he proudly wore. He creased his eyebrows in thought. After a few seconds of thinking it through, the sergeant gently laid Jirachi on the ground and took off his sash to get rid of his flared jacket. He was left with the dark-gray vest and simple leather belt he wore underneath. With one fluid movement, he unsheathed his dagger and cut a long strip of cloth that he wrapped Jirachi in, making sure every part of her was hidden.

“There. We’re a lot obvious now, huh?”

With that, Mark Antony began running through the street, his sash and empty sword sheath abandoned. A fog of smoke now danced around his feet then covered him in a semi-transparent veil minutes later. His coughing spasms went unheard as the sound of gunfire and explosions was deafening. Mark Antony squinted against the wall of smoke and dust, only able to see faint shapes of buildings. No amount of waving dissipated it, and the sound of war was so great that it all meshed into one chaotic orchestra that played from every direction. The sergeant found a lamppost to lean on and sighed, still trying to see through the poisonous veil that blanketed the town.

But he then jumped to his feet. Fire materialized within the smog, and it was coming towards him. The mysterious flame bobbed closer and closer until Mark Antony discerned an echidna walking out to him, his olive-green back the source of the fire. The Cyndaquil raised his elongated snout to him, revealing that half of it and his underbelly were cream in color. The human stared at the creature’s shut eyes then at the man that finally stumbled into view. His small Pokémon worriedly looked at him and the way he gripped his limp, bleeding arm. The stranger’s lab coat had turned from a pristine white uniform to a torn, bloodied rag that hung over his gaunt form. When he looked up, strands of white hair hanging over glossy, blue eyes, his unsteady steps halted.

“Ko… Komali,” the man rasped, addressing his attentive Cyndaquil with those exhausted eyes of his. “Is someone there?”

Mark Antony cautiously walked towards the injured man, holding Jirachi close to his chest in case he decided to run. By the light of Komali’s flames, he concluded the stranger was completely unarmed; he only saw muddy, brown pants and a cotton shirt that stuck to his sickly-looking body. As Mark Antony approached, the Fire Mouse Pokémon kept his eyes on him, abnormally-long snout poised to open and attack if need be. The twenty-five-year-old felt his insides tighten, and his healing ribs tingled in apprehension. However, the sight of the elderly gentleman bleeding to death before his very eyes willed his feet to take him closer.

“Are you a Johtonian?” Mark Antony asked, ignoring the part of his conscious that insisted that it didn’t matter.

The man looked up at him and smiled. “I’m surely no Kantonian, if that’s what you’re asking. I’m one of the finest professors in this here region, I am! I’m-!”

Mark Antony caught the professor with one hand as he lost his balance. Komali squeaked in alarm and rushed over to the sitting pair, though he spared a glance at the wrapped bundle in Mark Antony’s arm. The chestnut-haired young man didn’t notice and sat cross-legged on the street, Jirachi in his lap and his hands already taking off the civilian’s tattered lab coat.

“If you keep bleeding, you’ll die,” Mark Antony bluntly informed him as he expertly tore the coat into manageable strips. He took the man’s bleeding arm and began to fasten a makeshift tourniquet on his bicep. “Why are you still here? Didn’t you have enough time to escape before the regiments clashed?”

“They took away our research Pokémon,” he mumbled almost inaudibly. “I had to get them back…”

“But they were already gone,” Mark Antony glumly finished while tying the tourniquet and arranging the rest of the cloth strips as bandages. He felt the older man slouch in guilt.

“They did; only this little guy was left to help me.” The man nodded over to his Fire-type Pokémon, who had now decided to sit by his side. This time, Mark Antony spotted the Cyndaquil eyeing the hidden Jirachi. Warily, Mark Antony cradled the Wish Pokemon again and helped the stranger to his feet. When he was sure he would not end up toppling over his rescuer, the professor faced Mark Antony and shook his hand. “Name’s Professor Caleb Newman.”

“Mark,” was the officer’s response, opting to not reveal his full name. Every year he had spent in the military told him that lying would be safer, for Newman as well as himself. Plus, he couldn’t help but feel that every Kantonian and Kanto-owned Pokémon would swarm towards him if he dared utter the truth.

Professor Newman’s gaze was clearer now that Mark Antony’s tourniquet stopped his wound from bleeding. Though still pale and soaked with sweat, he managed to look at the younger man straight in the eye. “If you don’t mind me asking, Mark, what are you still doing in this once glorious town? Running into the heat of the battle, no less!”

This actually caused Mark Antony to ruefully smile despite himself; maybe this man wasn’t as out of it as he originally thought. The small grin faded from view a second later when he looked down at Jirachi’s prone and covered form. Against his chest, the mass of cloth barely fluttered with Jirachi’s labored breaths, and with a feeling that knotted his insides, he wondered if the short intervention had caused Jirachi her life. Then again, according to Newman, he had been walking right into the line of fire.

“I’m trying to find the Pokémon Center,” he said after a few moments of nothing but the sound of explosions in the distance. Amber eyes trailed to the helpless bundle in his arms. “This Pokémon needs help.”

“You do know the chances of the Center still standing are slim to none, do ya, boy?” Newman took a step towards the determined officer, but Mark Antony stepped back, muscles taught with tension.

“I have to try,” he rebutted with conviction. The professor approached Mark Antony again. This time, he was met with a hardened glare that stopped him dead in his tracks. Instead of trying again, he reached out his hand.

“Mark, you have to trust me. I won’t hurt a hair on that little Pokémon’s head. If I see it, maybe I can help.”

“You’re not a doctor,” Mark Antony stated, but he knew that Professor Newman was the next best thing. When the elderly man took a vial of alcohol from one of his pants pockets, Mark Antony begrudgingly approached him. He stood before the professor, one hand hovering over the strip of cloth that hid Jirachi’s face. Newman stared back, cerulean eyes full of curiosity and concern.

“She’s not a normal species of Pokémon,” Mark Antony began. “She fell from the sky and told me she was going to die if I didn’t help her.”

Newman said nothing at the soldier’s odd words and was instead transfixed at the sight of the goddess Mark Antony finally revealed. A wrinkled hand gently caressed the Legend’s cut-riddled face then the two tattered wish tags that hung from her star tips. Jirachi’s eyes struggled to open when she sensed the stranger’s hand, but all she could manage was a whimper that warbled in her throat. Newman retracted his hand, mouth still agape in awe, and continued to size-up the Pokémon before him. At their feet, Komali anxiously paced around them, half-closed eyes glued on the gravely-injured Psychic-type. Mark Antony watched the Cyndaquil make his rounds until his eyebrow twitched in irritation.

“Are you going to help her or not?!” he yelled at Newman, eyes shadowed by a steaming glare that told of all the anger, frustration, and utter hopelessness that coursed through his veins. Anger from thinking of who could harm such a helpless creature made his hands, and Jirachi, quiver. Frustration that was aimed at Newman and his ability to just stand and stare made him lean closer to the professor with the intent to murder. Beneath all that, the fact that he was standing in the middle of the torn street and asking a complete stranger for help morphed into the utter helplessness that rattled his bones. It was a strange cocktail of sensations for the accomplished sergeant to feel, which made it all the worse.

“Of course I’m going to help her,” Newman replied, seemingly unfazed by the metaphorical daggers that were sent his way. With a torn handkerchief he had fished out, the elderly Johtonian began to apply the alcohol on the cuts that peppered Jirachi’s once angelic face. “This will only make sure the cuts are not infected, if they aren’t already, but like you said, she’ll die without proper medical treatment.” His voice then dropped into a solemn note. “She might still die, though.”

“Well then take me to the Center,” Mark Antony insisted, stealing a glance at the blade strapped to his boot. If all else failed… “You know this town better than I do.”

Newman cocked his head, a wry smile sliding across his features when he saw Mark Antony’s dagger. “Relax, you won’t have to resort to such barbaric schemes. Follow me, and I’ll lead you to the Pokémon Center, or at least to the spot where it’s supposed to be.”

With Komali now knowing that the powerful deity he sensed might be alright, the Pokémon breathed out a sigh of relief and followed his master. Newman, with the Cyndquil’s flames once again lighting his way, unsteadily walked to his left, where he knew a street leading to the west side of town was located. The arm that cradled his injured limb reached out to sense for a pole that sported the street signs he was looking for. Mark Antony watched the man touch destroyed house after destroyed house until he uncertainly walked towards him, an eyebrow raised in suspicion. He smoothed his frown over and tried to banish the thoughts that this Professor Newman might be a Kanto spy that was leading him right into enemy hands. Such thoughts could possibly make him run in the opposite direction or kill the guy, effectively wiping out the only chance of finding the Center without stumbling in the dark. Military intuition and human instincts were now at war with each, and all of it made his temples throb in protest.

“Mark! I found the street!” came Newman’s voice within the toxic fog.

The sergeant blindly stumbled to the gentleman’s side and followed him down the desolate street. It looked just like the street they left behind, but Newman, apparently, knew that this street led towards the Center. Again, Mark Antony wondered if he could trust this man. He knew of many soldiers who had the potential to kill even when they were injured as gravely as the professor. Who said the guy didn’t have a blade of his own tucked into one of his pockets?

Deliberately falling behind a couple of steps, Mark Antony spoke up. “Why are you helping us? You obviously have no reason to go to the Center; your wound needs the attention of human doctors. Your Cyndaquil is in perfect condition as well.”

Newman stopped and wobbled in place for a heartbeat. Mark Antony tensed and waited for the man to fall to the ground, but instead, Newman regained his balance by taking a step forward. He turned around, his sweat-stricken face alight with the joy all scientists developed when they were met by an elusive opportunity.

“Do you know who you hold in your hands?” he asked, his words nearly silenced with wonder.

“Jirachi,” the twenty-five-year-old simply answered. “She told me her name was Jirachi.”

“My boy, just her name speaks volumes of the deity she is. Jirachi in the ancient tongue of our ancestors means to desire. Long ago, humans and Pokémon desired light in their darkness, so she created the stars to illuminate their way. Her powers of space bending is only matched by her power to grant the wish of any being.” Newman hobbled towards him, the foul smoke and his blood finally taking a toll on him. Mark Antony supported the man by the shoulder while Komali pulled on his owner’s pants leg to stop him from falling.

“Do you see the wish tags on her head?” the scholar asked him once he stopped swaying from side to side. He waited until Mark Antony stroked the delicate talismans before continuing. “Each of them is imbued with enough power to grant the user any wish they desire. Those who take them without her permission are forever doomed to be ravaged by the power in it. She would use one on her own if she could,” Newman said when he saw Mark Antony about to comment, “but the wish tags are powerless if she is.”

The army officer opened his mouth then closed it. Mark Antony settled on eyeing the Legendary Pokémon in his arms as though trying to spot the remnants of the stars she created in her hands. Then he caught sight of the bare star tip on her head.

“It looks to me that she used to have three wish tags,” he drawled out in puzzlement.

“Yes, Jirachi is said to have three wish tags on her headdress.” Newman’s own eyes clouded in thought. “She must have trusted a very important being with one of them.”
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Old 02-20-2010, 05:02 AM
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Default Re: My Guardian Angel (PG-13) (Chapter 5 has been released!)

/A human who knows so much about me?/ a feminine voice appeared in the air. Within the exhaustion, there was a small smile in her words. /I am honored./

“Jirachi?” Mark Antony stroked her blanched face, trying to get her to open her eyes. Jirachi wormed an arm out of the cloth cocoon to clutch one of his fingers, reassuring him that she was there even if she couldn’t see him. Newman leaned in closer, if that was possible, his eyes now as wide as saucers. His own hand hovered above her, fingers twitching as he debated over whether to touch this elusive creature. Instead of risking another suspicious glance from Mark Antony, he retracted his hand and settled for observing her.

“Did you really give your wish tag away?” was the first thing that was out of Newman’s mouth. This was received with a dirty look from the chestnut-haired man. Mark Antony would have clobbered Newman for not seeing that a missing wish tag was the least of Jirachi’s worries if his hands weren’t full.

Jaw set in irritation, Mark Antony continued on walking down the street with a call for Newman to keep leading the way. The older man started at the abrupt departure and quickly took his place at the front. A couple of minutes were spent on going around collapsed house walls and craters created by Pokémon attacks, and the two humans had thought Jirachi had fallen back into her restless slumber until the back of their minds tickled with her presence. They kept on walking, but their eyes had been drawn back to the Wish Pokémon.

/I… don’t remember who I gave my wish tag to,/ Jirachi confessed to them. Her tone told of decades she had spent on pondering the question in vain. /Even though it is a part of me, for some reason, I cannot feel its presence./

While Newman was left to muse on this mystery, Mark Antony asked, “Why are you healing me? You should use your remaining power on yourself.” Discreetly, he flexed his shot hand, silently marveling at how his bones only throbbed in protest, and touched the side of his abdomen. Crusted blood was felt on his vest, but the rib he was sure had been on the verge of puncturing through his skin could no longer be felt. The answer to his question had been swirling in his mind all this time, but he wanted to know exactly why Jirachi thought that by saving his life, hers would in turn be saved.

/You already know the answer to that question,/ Jirachi told him, her words still veiled by a smirk. /Your wounds in comparison to mine are superficial. While my remaining power can fully heal you, my own injuries will still be as grave./

Mark Antony nodded then thought of something. “You don’t seem to have a hard time communicating anymore.”

/I no longer feel the need to create a barrier around myself. I feel safe in your arms./

This caused the young human to blush.

“Mark,” Newman’s voice rose above his Cyndaquil’s anxious squeaks. “There it is, the Center…” When he turned, the scholar’s face had gained an ivory-white shade that relentlessly drained his color. Mark Antony barely had the time to grab the man’s shoulder before Newman collapsed on the floor. Komali looked up as Mark Antony laid the man down on the street, his middle and forefingers deftly picking out the professor’s weak pulse on his neck.

“Calm down, calm down,” he shot at the stressed echidna. “Newman just collapsed from blood loss. The walk over here exhausted him further, so that didn’t help any.” Mark Antony looked up and saw the square outline of the Pokémon Center. An intake of breath ceased his chest and made his heart start to flutter madly behind his newly-healed ribs. “Stay here with your master.”

Komali looked at him, his hackles rising in protest, but then looked down at Newman and decided against going after him. Mark Antony, hypnotized by the building that was coming closer and closer with each running step he took, paid him no heed. He held Jirachi close to his chest, and even in her weakened state, the Psychic-type felt his heart pounding madly with glee. Jirachi managed to tilt her head up, eyes opened a crack, and see the change in his expression when he stopped seconds later.

“What in Arceus’ name…?” Wide eyes turned into infuriated slits. “No. No! This is not how it’s supposed to be!”

Mark Antony walked through the blown doorway and the only wall of the building that was still standing. Boots crunched the wooden remains of the rest of the Pokémon Center and the sea of broken glass that sparkled with pools of medicine. With each step, the smell of charred oak and human flesh wafted over him, undoubtedly more toxic than the silver smoke that hung over the scene. Standing on a small mountain of wobbling wood, the new vantage point allowed him to make out where Pokémon had charged in with their monstrous claws and started to conjure their hellish flames. On their way, the brutes had left crushed and charcoaled corpses that forever wore masks of terror and desperation. Some were merely citizens and staff, as he had expected the moment his nose picked up the grotesque odor of cooked flesh, while others sported the tattered remains of the Johto uniform.

At that moment, the true horror dawned on him. Every civilian in this place had been scarified for the two measly, Johtonian soldiers he saw among the rubble. The clerk buried beneath the boards of his counter and shelves might have only greeted the soldiers as they entered. Doused in the liquid remains of the windows, the dead twins in the corner might have marveled at the soldiers’ weapons and begged the men to let them see them up-close. Through it all, the two nurses, their bloodied and bruised corpses only recognizable by their white dresses, had tried to heal the Johtonians’ wounds.

For a while, he stood there, frozen in place, until he realized that the mound he stood on wasn’t entirely made out of shrapnel. The sight of a mangled hand reaching out of the wood made Mark Antony utter a gasp and lose his balance. A hiss of pain slithered from his lips at the sensation of dozens of glass shards sticking to his back; a slight turn of his head revealed he had missed a rusted nail to the head through sheer, dumb luck. Jirachi struggled in his iron grip, trying to see what was wrong, but Mark Antony was already getting to his feet and brushing the glass with a hand.

“I’m okay,” he automatically told her, rubbing away the tears that sprung into his stinging eyes; the smoke had begun to settle over the decrepit remains of the Center. Never one to beat around the bush, the words, “There’s nothing here to help you,” were out of his mouth before he could stop them. When he caught what he had said, Mark Antony closed his eyes and clamped his mouth shut in anger. For the first time in his military career, he was caught without a backup plan. What had made him neglect to think ahead he couldn’t exactly pinpoint. All he knew was that Jirachi made him feel as though he could achieve anything despite the stacked odds.

It was probably my healed injuries that fueled my confidence, turning it into cockiness, he bitterly snapped at himself.

He tried to tell himself that he always knew that the Center was most likely destroyed, but the prideful part of him was simmering with self-loathing.

/Mark Antony, cease your shaking. This is not your fault./

The human’s amber eyes snapped open, and they trailed to his trembling hands. Mark Antony looked upon the wreckage again. He felt he needed to say something, an apology or even a prayer despite the fact he wasn’t religious, but nothing came to mind; Mark Antony couldn’t even muster up the energy to apologize to the Pokémon who had healed him and was now destined to die in his arms. All he wanted to do was get away from the scene before his self berating reduced him into a pathetic shadow of his former self.

/Wait!/ Jirachi shouted in his mind. Mark Antony stopped his journey to the door and looked down, his face still marred with anger. /I sense something that can be of use. Over there, by the western side!/

“What is it?” Mark Antony asked, his glare softening at the thought of finding something of use in the debris. Despite the glimmer of hope, he had no idea what Jirachi thought could be salvage. Could it be a vial of medicine that had rolled away from the falling walls and the trampling of Pokémon?

/It’s buried beneath that mountain of debris,/ she directed him. Mark Antony eyed the pile of wood and tried to knock off the section of wall that made up the top. Glass shattered when he finally managed to push it off, and now he got to his knees to look through the pieces of wood. Something small in the middle was outlined by the light that trickled through the pieces of debris. Somehow, the bigger pieces at the bottom had helped form a small alcove in the center that kept the rest from smashing whatever was in the middle.

“What is it?” the human asked, more annoyed than perplexed. Why was Jirachi wasting his time on digging out some bundle when he could be out tracking down something else? He was a man of action, one who had grown to learn that time was of the essence.

/It’s a human baby on the last threads of life./

Mark Antony pulled back from the wood pile to stare at her, about to protest that he couldn’t try saving another life on top of hers. To his surprise, the Legend was gaining a sheen of china-blue light that covered her body.

/By saving it, you will save my life./

Jirachi managed to fully open her eyes, the glow around her body beginning to brighten and pulsate in waves that rolled towards her extremities. Mark Antony saw her butterscotch irises growing into a hue of slate-gray that revealed the fearful shine she had been hiding. When he was about to ask what was going on, she gave him one of her rare glares; her wish tags rustled with the sudden surge of power.

/You helped me immensely since we met, but now it’s time for me to carry out my last resort. My body is ready to give out on me, and there’s nothing you can do. Her eyes, now holding just a tint of melted amber, softened. /Mark Antony, if you want to help me, rescue that baby./

Wordlessly, the sergeant laid her on the ground and managed to weave his hands into a space in the pile of wood. His fingers met burnt oak and gnarled nails before they encountered the wrapped bundle. With a hitched breath, he eased the bundle out and held it in his hands. Mark Antony breathed out when he was, indeed, holding a baby in his hands. The infant’s grimy body was mottled with bruises, cuts, and minor burns that the tattered blanket had no hope in protecting her from. When he put a finger to her quivering mouth, the weak, uneven gasps were like caresses from a feather. A pink ribbon was still tied to her fair hair.

He sat there, mind going blank. Never in his life had he held something so delicate in his hands. Jirachi, though helpless, always had the aura of a deity about her. The moment he had held the Wish Pokémon in his arms, he knew she could’ve controlled his very will if she wasn’t critically injured. However, this baby was just that, a baby. If he dropped her, she would die. If he did nothing, she would die. Mark Antony, the type of young man who aspired to become a military hero rather than a future father, was at a complete loss at what to do.

Jirachi managed to get on her wobbling feet, the energy that now masked her injuries giving her the strength to stand. Mark Antony stared at the abandoned strips of cloth at the Legendary’s feet then at her. Why did she look ready to die before his eyes even though she could stand? She easily met his befuddled expression with a small smile, but Jirachi’s face had the appearance of aged parchment. When she rose an inch off the ground, she seemed as lifeless as a strung puppet.

“You’re… stronger,” he told her, feeling goose bumps rise along his flesh. No, stronger wasn’t the right word. With her haggard face and the way she let her limbs hang lifelessly, she resembled an animated corpse. Mark Antony visibly cringed at the fresh memory the comparison brought on and decided to divert his attention to the baby in his hands. Instead of being shocked that the infant girl gained the same cerulean glow, Mark Antony grew annoyed.

“Okay, Jirachi, what the hell is going on?” he demanded. The way she calmly met his eyes with her exhausted ones just furthered angered him. His goose bumps evolved into full blown chills, however, when tears began to leak from her eyes. Jirachi brushed them away and shook her head at herself. Yet the tears could not stop flowing, and the psychic ended up turning her face away when a sob shook her shoulders.

I’m sorry I couldn’t keep my promise, Death, Jirachi mentally voiced, feeling her heart tear in two at the mention of the reaper and the oblivious souls he was in charge of. For how long would their world be absent of stars? After she left Death’s tower, Jirachi had no doubt that she could get rid of the perpetual gloom the denizens had to suffer through, but now it seemed they would never have the Earth they thought they had.

Unaware that Mark Antony had grown silent, too unnerved by her sudden display of weakness, Jirachi glanced at the sky, rephrasing her last thoughts. No, they will have that Earth. It’s just going to have to wait a little longer. Despite the conviction, there was still that little thought at the back of her mind that reminded her she didn’t even know if what she was about to do was going to work. Arceus had mentioned it in passing, but his tone had told her that the claim was mostly fueled by the myths humans loved to make about the Legends to emphasize their deity powers.

In between her tumbling thoughts, Jirachi had ordered Mark Antony to hold up the infant, who had now started twitching at the sensation of the Legendary’s power flowing into her weakened limbs. Jirachi lightly touched the baby’s shut eyelids with her fingers and locked gazes with Mark Antony. The twenty-five-year-old did not look away, although he did gain his own melancholy stare; he still had no idea what was making her cry.

/When my body vanishes, get away from here./ The spacer wielder stressed the last words with every fiber of her being. /When my aura grows stronger, those who did this to me will find this place. If you stay, they will kill you./

“You never told me who tried to kill you,” the observant officer shot back. “I don’t like being kept in the dark; who did this to you?”

Jirachi wasn’t sure if the tears in her eyes were new or if they were the ones who had refused to fall. /I once admired and aspired to be like them./ Before Mark Antony could remark on the vague answer, she continued, /Do I have your word that you will leave me once this is done?/

Mark Antony focused his gaze at a piece of glass and nodded with gritted teeth. When he felt Jirachi’s eyes on him, he looked up and sighed, his jaw relaxing and his eyes losing their daggers. “Understood, but,” he added, gaze shadowing as he looked at the ground again, “why do I feel like I need to protect you, even before I knew who you were? What sort of power have you cast on me?”

/Mark Antony, I have cast no spell on you./ She smiled down at him, and the beginnings of a laugh twitched her lips. /Is it so hard to believe that you helped me because I couldn’t help myself?/

“Yes,” he told her, subconsciously rubbing his right hand. Jirachi lightly touched his hand and felt him cringe when her fingers brushed the blood-stained bullet that peeked out from the wound. Her knowledge of human wars was limited, but his darkened stare told her of the danger and betrayal that were always on the forefront of his mind. The Legendary slowly withdrew her hand, the smile wiped off her face.

/I’m going to take over this infant’s body since her soul is leaving as we speak. I’ll be able to recuperate without being detected. I don’t know how long it’ll take or even if it will work, but it is the best option available. Now, Mark Antony,/ she addressed him, /shield your eyes and keep the baby aloft./

Immediately, the silver that was shining in Jirachi’s irises exploded into a brilliance that washed over her. The human looked away, vision blurry with the tears that had sprung into his eyes. In his hands, the baby had grown almost too warm to hold. Jirachi pressed her hand harder against the baby’s shut eyes as first her tassels, then the rest of her body, began to turn into platinum smoke. Mark Antony heard the fluttering of her tassels and wish tags dwindle to be replaced by the sound of the baby’s regular breathing. Her triumphant smile was lost in the fog she had become, and as silently as dawn itself, she settled over the infant’s twitching form.

Mark Antony reopened his eyes and looked at where Jirachi had been floating moments before. His amber eyes only met the twinkling remains of her power. Wordlessly, he brought the sleeping infant to his chest, his hand tingling as the warmth in her began to settle. Her hair and scarred skin glowed like the faintest, yet most beautiful stars above them. The military officer caressed her cut cheek, then stopped. He couldn’t stay here or take the baby (or was it Jirachi now?). Reluctantly, Mark Antony placed her behind an overturned table that miraculously escaped being trampled to pieces. He knelt there for what seemed like forever, just staring at the helpless being that slept in her raggedy blanket.

Finally, Mark Antony got to his feet and began to run back to where he had left Professor Newman.

Jirachi knows what she’s doing, the mantra was repeated again and again; the thought that Jirachi had only managed to mask her uncertainty well didn’t cross his mind. Only the tales of the mighty Legends of the Regions silently played, keeping him from turning back and scooping up the baby in his arms. Those myths of the Legends moving continents, creating seas, and bringing life into the once desolate planet of Earth had to hold some grain of truth after all he had just witnessed.

“Newman,” he said, jogging to a stop. Mark Antony knelt beside the unconscious man. After a glance at the professor, though, he stopped himself from jumping to his feet. The fresh, gunpowder-coated fingerprints shone as clear as day from the man’s neck. With a barely perceptible turn of his head, he noticed Newman’s Cyndaquil was nowhere in sight.

Damn it, he cursed, his eyes now lowering into furious slits.

The faint sound of a gun being cocked reached him.

Damn it!

The next thing he knew, a bullet was lodged into his lower back. Mark Antony fell on his side, his spine aflame with pain. He planted his hands and tried to get up, but the crippling sensation of his vertebrae splitting in two forced him back to the ground. His hand reached for the blade on his boot, the sound of running footsteps and the jiggling of weapons coming closer and closer.

Mark Antony grasped the blade of his weapon as someone grabbed him by his hair and jerked his head up. The sensation jarred his injured spine and effectively made him drop his blade. He saw the navy uniform of a Kantonian soldier before the butt of a rifle collided with the side of his head, drawing him into darkness.

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Last edited by Phantom Kat; 06-06-2010 at 01:33 AM.
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  #55  
Old 02-20-2010, 05:14 AM
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Default Re: My Guardian Angel (PG-13) (Chapter 5 has been released!)

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.

Finally.

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.

“Mew…?”

“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.

Nothing.

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.
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Last edited by Phantom Kat; 02-20-2010 at 05:53 AM.
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Old 02-20-2010, 03:54 PM
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Default Re: My Guardian Angel (PG-13) (Chapter 6 is up for reading!)

Awesome chapter PK!! Those FMA refs were great! ^^ Mark sure didn't have an easy end, eh?? The part with Jirachi trying to take over the baby's body is interesting. I wonder how that's going to go?? And I wonder what Death and the others have in store for Mark?? Can't wait for the next chapter!!
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Old 02-21-2010, 07:12 AM
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Default Re: My Guardian Angel (PG-13) (Chapter 6 is up for reading!)

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Originally Posted by ShionRasenka View Post
Awesome chapter PK!! Those FMA refs were great! ^^ Mark sure didn't have an easy end, eh?? The part with Jirachi trying to take over the baby's body is interesting. I wonder how that's going to go?? And I wonder what Death and the others have in store for Mark?? Can't wait for the next chapter!!
Nope, Mark Antony doesn't get a break. *thinks off some of the future chapters* And the whole "take over the baby's body" will become clear, although not for a long while.

I can't wait to get started on the next chapter. Mark Antony will finally wear the clothes I always draw him in. However, I have to tweak my plans for some of the next chapters a bit because I added that Poke Ball scene in Chapter Five. ^^;

- Kat
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Old 02-27-2010, 12:00 AM
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Default Re: My Guardian Angel (PG-13) (Chapter 6 is up for reading!)

I added Mark Antony's character profile! They contain spoilers to Chapter 6. 8)

Also, I'm going to be doing Special Chapters throughout the story, just one-shots that deals with some things on the story, like character history. The first one I'm doing is about the original history I had for Mark Antony. Trust me, it was very different from I wrote here. xD

- Kat
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Old 02-27-2010, 02:19 PM
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Default Re: My Guardian Angel (PG-13) (Chapter 6 is up for reading!)

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I added Mark Antony's character profile! They contain spoilers to Chapter 6. 8)

Also, I'm going to be doing Special Chapters throughout the story, just one-shots that deals with some things on the story, like character history. The first one I'm doing is about the original history I had for Mark Antony. Trust me, it was very different from I wrote here. xD

- Kat
Oooohhhhh, that sounds like a neat idea!! I can't wait to read a chapter on Mark!! ^^ I'll take a look at his profile too!!
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Old 03-19-2010, 02:55 AM
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Default Re: My Guardian Angel (PG-13) (Chapter 6 is up for reading!)

Song for this chapter: Distortion World from Pokemon Platinum.

This is the perfect background music for Purgatory. 8)

_____

Chapter 7

Judgment Day and Beyond


When Mark Antony reopened his eyes, all he saw was a sea of red.

He tried to blink away the bright spots that danced in front of his eyes, but the burning color of ruby that was everywhere around him made it impossible. Frustrated by his surroundings and his spinning head, Mark Antony spit out the sand from his mouth and picked himself up. After he did, he sat there, licking his lips as his eyebrows furrowed in thought; he couldn’t taste the sand. Deciding it was because the earth itself was so dry and lifeless, the soldier stood up and looked around. Despite his cool exterior, he bit his lower lip in worry. All he saw among the desert was a blood-shot sky and mountain peaks that looked too sharpened to be real. Mark Antony turned every which way, but the scenery was the same.

“Where am I?” he questioned aloud. Mark Antony walked a couple of steps forward, noticing how his footsteps collapsed into mounds of still sand within seconds. His eyes strained against the harsh red that threatened to swallow him into the depths of this extremely alien land. The mountain peaks were as far and foreboding as ever, and no other silhouettes rose up to greet him. “Hello?!”

His yell faded in a heartbeat.

Mark Antony let out a frustrated sigh and began to trek through the desolate wasteland of scarlet. He kept his eyes on the lookout for anything that hinted humanity or Pokémon life, but it was useless. The land was so dry that there was no hope for footprints to survive for more than a breath. No burrows, tunnels, or plant life decorated the land. Those fang-like mountain peaks were the only things that rose up towards the sky. When the constant sound of empty, crunching sand began to grate on his nerves, Mark Antony looked up towards the sky, trying to find a speck of a cloud or feel a gust of wind.

Rippling goose bumps made him stop in his tracks. He had raised his right hand to his head and saw that there was no dried blood or bullet in sight. With a sharp gasp, he stumbled back and landed on the sand, his hand still aloft in utter horror. Mark Antony turned it this way and that, but there was nothing to be found. Upon closer inspection, his skin was borderline translucent; the red-tinted light the sky gave off didn’t seem to have any effect.

“Am I…dreaming?” he guessed, honestly at a lost as to what was going on. After finding a Pokémon deity and witnessing some mystical method of human possession, Mark Antony couldn’t be sure what was real and what was not.

Between his pale fingers, he saw the outline of some small shapes. Unable to believe his eyes, the sergeant jogged towards them and stopped when he clearly saw they were the tops of towers set into a deep valley. Mark Antony rocked on the edge, and his eyes scanned the small civilization hidden in this twisted place. He stilled as he watched people going in and out of their wooden houses. The utter normalcy chilled him to the bone, but he still leaned even closer, noting that the style of dress ranged drastically from one cluster of people to another.

Just then, a blur of silver rushed out from below him. The creature planted his two thick pillars for feet on the ground, and the wave of supernatural power knocked Mark Antony backwards until he lay sprawled on the ground. An eye as scarlet as the sky above looked down at him, and the three gray flaps on the Pokémon’s face fluttered in a grunt. Mark Antony stared up at the Dusclops and the pale, gargantuan hands that picked him up by the collar of his vest, which he now saw was mysteriously free of blood, grime, and tears. The white wisps of cloth that flowed from the phantom’s head and back were whipping with his displeasure.

“So this is where I dropped you,” he said to himself; his hollowed body echoed like an aged drum.

“Pardon?” Mark Antony couldn’t help but growl at the strange creature. Placing his hands on the Dusclops’ massive grasp, he began to struggle. “Let me go!”

Dusclops scoffed, his sole eye shining in slight amusement. “Yes, I’m going to let you wander around after spending an eternity locating you,” he sarcastically remarked. Ignoring Mark Antony’s protests and demands, the guard began to float back down towards the hidden village.

“Who the hell are you anyway?” the soldier kept on going, digging the heels of his boots to the cliff side in hopes of slowing the ghost down. Dusclops briefly stopped and looked at his burden with a glare. Mark Antony smiled smugly when he saw that the Pokémon was annoyed enough to give him his full attention. “You can’t just drag a person wherever you please. Who do you work for? Who’s calling the shots?”

“Death,” came the solemn answer.

It was Mark Antony’s turn to scoff incredulously. “Death is no stranger to me. I cannot count how many times people have told me that death was what awaited me.” His smile faltered when the back of his mind prickled and tried to drive a recent memory into his conscious. Now that he thought about it, what was he doing before he woke up in this land of red? For some reason, he couldn’t find the pieces between leaving the Pokémon Center and winding up face down in the sand.

Dusclops chortled when he saw Mark Antony’s expression shift from confident to downright worried. With his charge too distracted to put up much of a struggle, the ghost easily dragged him down the cliff’s side. “Trust me, boy, this is the end of the line. There’s no turning back now.”

Wham!

Dusclops flew back when the boot came in contact with his chin. Mark Antony was dropped to the floor, where he landed in a crouch and immediately took off. He had no idea where he was heading. His fight-or-flight response had just been too strong to ignore this time around, especially with his suddenly throbbing head. Something the Dusclops had said really hit home, whatever home was. It had sent his heart racing and his anger over the brim. Even as he felt the Pokémon’s power swell behind him, there was no room to care.

The wayward young man found himself behind an old-style wooden cabin, his back against the backdoor and his eyes staring at the water pump nestled in between two piles of firewood. Mark Antony straightened just as a woman walked from the front of the house, her faded blue bonnet askew and only being supported by her hair bun. Mark Antony stood up as her pale-red skirt brushed past him but backed up when he noticed that she didn’t give him the time of day. She wandered over to her clothesline and began to drape the imaginary clothes that were bundled in the crook of her arm. He walked in front of her and stared at her unseeing silver eyes. Though different in color, he was reminded of the burning irises of the possessed Banette.

“Hey, snap out of it!” he harshly whispered, taking the woman by the shoulders and shaking her like a rag doll. Mark Antony shook her for all he was worth, eventually winding up knocking her bonnet from her head and loosening her fair hair. Nobody deserved to be puppets like he had been.

Mark Antony was pulled back then held up in the air. A familiar voice snarled in his ear, “Are you trying to get me in trouble? I-!”

“You’re doing a marvelous job on that on your own.”

A presence blanketed them, which sent Mark Antony’s body into a full-blown case of the shivers. Dusclops gave a start and turned around to face the newcomer; Mark Antony, with the phantom holding him by the back of his vest, could not.

His capturer stiffened but still managed to speak calmly. “This soul tried to escape. It was fortunate that I caught him before he shook this one from her trance.” Dusclops cocked his head to the female soul.

“So she is under a spell!” Mark Antony shouted, craning his head to address both Dusclops and the newcomer.

“Shut your trap, you damned-!”

“That is enough!” the stranger bellowed.

A surge of unseen power swept the area. Mark Antony was dropped to the floor as the Dusclops jumped in shock. The sergeant turned around, but the view of the stranger was blocked by Dusclops’ hovering form. He moved out of the way as the ghoul backed up with every shouted word that slapped him in the face.

“Due to your incompetence, this soul wound up in the middle of Purgatory! Also,” the stranger continued rather cynically, “as I recall, I had told everybody that I would be the one to transport him here. And no, you weren’t doing me a favor by going against my orders. Now be off!”

Dusclops’ eye was redirected to his hulking feet; then it landed on Mark Antony as a simmering coal. When he flew off towards another area of the village, Death revealed himself and floated towards the enraged Mark Antony. When the cyclops approached him, the man was on his feet and poised to defend himself. Death inclined his head, anger fizzing into amusement. Mark Antony only tensed at the Pokémon’s silence, unsure what the narrowing of that single eye meant.

“Do I really need to ask what I want from you?” the frustrated young man asked at length, his fists still held in front of him. He had a feeling that Death needed no questions, since it seemed at a glance that he had all the answers. No amount of asking was going to get them faster, as he had learned in the short amount of time spent in Purgatory.

“No, as you had just realized,” the Dusknoir finally answered. He uncrossed his arms and came closer, the flaps around his head twitching as he prepared himself for the long explanation he was going to give. Mark Antony looked up, his shivers going up a notch and now overtaking his entire body. It wasn’t nerves or fear that shook his knees like rattles. Something within this creature made his entire being jump.

“I’m guessing you know why my body is doing that?” Mark Antony prodded in order to gain entrance to the explanation he knew he was going to receive.

Death, now fully entertained by the former human’s cheeky manner of speaking, chuckled; Mark Antony raised an inquisitive eyebrow when the face on the Pokémon’s stomach opened in a grin. “This isn’t really the place I had planned to explain to you what just happened, but due to the circumstances, it is better not to dawdle. Relax and listen to what I’m about to say.”

A bit reluctantly, Mark Antony lowered his fists and sat down on the back step of the cabin’s door. Death floated back a foot, the female soul now gone, but that did not relieve Mark Antony’s shivers. The twenty-five-year-old endured it, knowing an explanation was going to make it worth it. However, what he did not expect was Death suddenly placing a massive hand on his forehead and tilting his head back.

“Before I can fully explain what this place is and what you’re doing here, I need to bring some of your memories to the forefront of your mind.” A short pause where only Mark Antony’s ragged breathing was heard followed. “Will you allow me?”

The soul’s breathing slowed when the realization that this creature was not like Banette hit. He uttered a dry, “Yes,” and waited for whatever he was going to feel.

To his surprise, it was neither painful nor mind-blowing. With a deep breath, everything he had been trying to remember came back. Death retracted his hand and observed Mark Antony’s blinking eyes and then the way they lowered to his shaking hands. The Johtonian then looked up, cocked his head to one side, and muttered, “Of all the things I could‘ve forgotten, you would think I would at least remember my own death.”

The Dusknoir waited for a few moments before speaking. “This is Purgatory, the place where all souls go to await Judgment. Normally, you would be transported here immediately after death and put under our spell.” He did not miss Mark Antony’s darkened expression. “This spell makes souls believe that these tiny villages that dot Purgatory are their homes. It is vital that all souls retain the same mentality as when they were on Earth so they can be Judged properly.”

Still seeing Mark Antony’s less-than-pleased scowl, Death simply said, “Ignorance is bliss in this desolate world. I have seen more souls than I care to count spiral into insanity when they manage to break free of my spell. Some are never found in the vastness of Purgatory.”

Flinching, the former human looked away to glance at the souls he saw passing by. “So that’s what that crazy thing was shouting about. He was trying to make me into one of those silver-eyed drones.” His tone was indifferent with a hint of amusement, as though he had known that no such fate would ever befall him.

“You’re not that different from them.” When Mark Antony looked up in question, Death conjured a floating disk of emerald fire. As its surface flattened and shined until it was a mirror, the executed Johtonian leaned forward. Platinum eyes blinked back at him until the mirror went up in a plume of smoke.

“My eyes are the same as theirs,” he realized, leaning back. “But why did you stop that thing from putting me under the spell?”

“I stopped that Dusclops because I have other plans for you. You are driven, headstrong, and loyal to those you serve. I can make use of your attributes.”

Mark Antony stood up and looked towards the sky. Instead of the scathing remark he expected to say to someone who wanted to control him, he sighed and ran pale fingers through his hair. Was this the beginning of the shock of finding out he was no longer among the living? Whatever the feeling was, it made him realize that he had no say about what was going to happen to him next. “What did you have in mind?”

“I’ll answer that once we get to Heaven. We have an appointment with Arceus himself.”

“Heaven? Arceus?” Mark Antony asked, going over to Death. “You must be pretty important to meet Arceus.” His critical tone was lost among a bout of shivers and the awe that was beginning to build within him.

The Pokémon put a hand on the soul’s shoulder. “I’m Death, a Dusknoir imbued with the power to keep this place in control. That’s why you’re shaking so; the soul recognizes the one who will decide its fate.”

Death then waved his free hand in the air to create a rip in the space of Purgatory itself. In it, Mark Antony saw pearl-white towers, buildings, and walkways that wound around clouds. The vision then zoomed into a magnificent palace. Details blurred when he found himself thrust headlong towards it. A pop! signaled the closing of the portal, a sound no soul paid attention to.

_____

Mark Antony’s eyes stung when he opened them. The abrupt change from merciless scarlet to blinding white made him squint and look at the floor. Death began to help him to his feet, but he practically dropped him when he saw who was at the front of the grand room. Mark Antony got to his feet, opened his mouth to shout a complaint, but was silenced by the room he found himself in. Though it was empty of feuding Legendaries, Arceus’ Chamber was filled with the ambiance of power and might.

“Where is Arceus?” the Dusknoir demanded to the pair of beings that watched them with identical, superior expressions.

Mark Antony looked up and saw Mew and Celebi on top of one of the pillars that overlooked the chamber. Childhood bedtime stories and the faded depictions he saw within the old books jumped into his mind. Their real-life counterparts inclined their heads; Mew’s small grin smoothed into a solemn frown.

“He’s out dealing with other matters. Celebi and I are in charge while he’s away.”

Death did not look pleased by the answer. He crossed his arms and looked up with an agitated whip of his small, wispy tail. “I hope he informed you that I might come with a potential assistant.”

The word was enough to make Mark Antony divert his mesmerized stare to the phantom. “Assistant?” It was then that he also realized he could understand these Pokémon. Looking down at himself, he concluded within his haze of amazement that it had something to do with being dead.

“Yes, he did mention it before leaving,” Mew drawled with a disinterested flick of his ears. However, his china-blue eyes gained a dangerous sparkle when they caught sight of the soul. With the grace of a Persian, the Legend was flying towards Mark Antony. The twenty-five-year-old stepped back when Mew’s snout threatened to touch his nose.

“So this is your candidate?” he purred. “An unfeeling, self-absorbed war hero?”

“I-!”

Mew silenced Mark Antony with his sudden scowl and piecing stare. “I suggest you keep silent. This is your Judgment, after all.”

“That was not the agreement,” Death stepped in, more than a little perturbed now. “Arceus agreed he would allow me to choose any soul I saw fit with no Judgment.”

Mew floated back, but Celebi flittered to his side from up above. “Arceus isn’t here,” she remarked harshly. “Father left us in charge of Heaven and all his duties. So step aside and let us see his life.”

The time traveler raised a lime-green hand, but Death pulled Mark Antony back before his entire life was laid for the Legendary Pokémon to Judge. Celebi blinked then growled at the interference. Mew’s forehead merely wrinkled in displeasure and thought. Holding his sister back with a look, he analyzed the grim reaper with eyes that betrayed his playful appearance. “Do you really think that he would be of any use?”

Death held a strange shine to his eye, much like a faint grin that said he knew more than he was letting on. “I had been observing the human’s war for quite some time. My eye was drawn to him, and I created a connection that would allow me observe him, follow him. This soul is headstrong, loyal, and bright. He has seen his fair share of hardships. It’s only a shame he died so young.”

Mark Antony felt like he needed to say something, but truth be told, Mew’s stare scared him. His spine was sent into a frenzy of chills when the New Species Pokémon gave him his full attention. Still talking to Death, Mew snidely commented, “Yes, a shame.”

“Just leave him here with us, and we’ll find a more suitable afterlife for him,” Celebi logically said. When she tried to mimic Mew’s devilish grin, a sickly-sweet smile was born instead. “He’s too brash, conniving, and cruel to be given such power. He might even be too sinful to reincarnate.”

Mark Antony finally found his voice, though it wasn’t filled with its usual vibrato. “Too sinful to reincarnate?” he echoed. “What do you mean by that? I’ll be stuck in Heaven for all eternity?” When Celebi’s smile was reflected back at him, he instantly knew that it wasn’t Heaven they had in mind. Like a blow to the stomach, he realized that Celebi was not as divine and motherly as the bedtime stories depicted. He stepped back and gave them one wave of his arms. “Oh no, I will not let some damn pixie gods decide what happens to me.”

“You dare spout your nonsense in these hallow halls?” the Grass-type hissed, the irises of her eyes lighting up in a brilliant shade of sapphire. “To Mew?” Mark Antony found it interesting that Celebi didn’t mention herself.

“Yes! I do!” he shouted back, completely forgetting where he was or who he was talking to. The fact that he could be sentenced to an eternity of Arceus-knows-what if he didn’t speak up overshadowed Celebi’s cold fury and Mew’s solemn expression, if only for a second that was long enough to shout things he would later regret. “My afterlife shouldn’t be decided by the likes of you!”
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