-"Make yourself ready, we are almost there!"
Cecile shouted to him, while Fearow was making little dive into the green scenery below them. She grasped her goggles and put them tightly onto her eyes while looking forward to the next moments with a mischievous smirk.
Arthur felt a foreboding sense of danger rising in his guts but just as he was about to open his mouth it happened!
That small dive turned into very sharp dive all of a sudden and Arthur mustered all his strength into his hands and fingers to hold onto the feathers, that separated life and death for him.
Of course Cecile wasn't such a crazy maniac as to make such dangerous stunt without having absolute control over the situation, but all that mattered to Arthur right that moment was to not fall into air accidentally!
Sounds were hard to make out because of the swift turbulent air but Arthur could swear Cecile was happy as hell about his current plight. Couldn't she have warned him about this more clearly?!
As sudden as the maneuver came, it left as well. Fearow chose a patch of green land somewhere and flapped its mighty wings to settle safely without further interruptions.
Arthur was the first to quickly back out of the Fearow Flight Express and after feeling the soft tickling grass on his hands and making sure their surroundings were secure he collapsed silently on the ground.
-"What's up? Was this your first ride or what? Hihihi....", Cecile laughed all the while and made fun of Arthur.
He was too weakened to rebuke her or give her any other kind of remark. The young boy felt he had exchanged years of his life to survive this ordeal, his mind aging in a short span of time. In addition to that he needed some time to acclimate properly to this new environment.
-("Take your time buddy, haha, I am sure she didn't mean ill will towards you.)
-"Easy to say for you, not having a body has his perks ...", Arthur grumbled in his mind.
-("Ouch, shots fired! Hahaha, deserved it I guess. Luckily your ears didn't pop up haha."
-"Why should they pop up?", Arthur asked.
-("Did you think it's normal for people to fly at high speeds in the air?? We aren't Pokemon Arty. I haven't been long in this world, but the last I looked people still walked on the ground rather than fly in the air.", thinking that Arthur didn't get his point, Atiqo elaborated,
-"Humans aren't meant to stay for long periods of time in the air bud. Our physique limits us, and at a certain height the decreasing air pressure could kill us. Our ears maintain a certain balance for us, but srsly I wouldn't want to test where my limits lie, hahaha. I guess that Fearow has a kind of built-in safe zone where the air pressure stays the same but as to how that works ... no clue at all.")
Arthur's face paled a little. Did he have another close encounter with death??? If he were to somehow leave that safe zone, would that spell his death?
During their flight Arthur only glimpses of the land below. He saw skyscrapers and lots of building before the scenery changed to lots of green and blue. He had also seen flocks of flying Pokemon but sensing the strong aura of Fearow they must have tacitly decided to avoid their path.
-"So, whats the plan now? Where do we head next?", Cecile approached him and asked cheerfully.
Arthur looked up warily, almost anticipating her next move that might endanger his livelihood.
But he remembered that time was tight and answered carefully:
-"I will head out and look around to locate the keepsake. It's best if you stay here and-"
-"You didn't let me speak ou!"
-"My answer will be the same."
-"Why? Someone should take care of your Fear...some. He can't stick around on the ground with us all the time."
-"That doesn't change fact that I am responsible for you!"
-"I can take care of myself!"
-"Judging by your past record, I don't think so."
-"Grrr..", Arthur gnashed his teeth in frustration but he couldn't retort that argument.
Just as he was about to give in, he heard a familiar whisper in his mind and a brilliant idea came to be.
-"I have a better idea. I will move on the ground, while you scout from the air! I will try find the location of my lost item once I get a better grasp over my position and you can follow me from above to look out for any kind of danger I could face! I am sure Fearow's keen senses coupled with your directions will make our trip much safer this way.", he finished presenting Atiqo's idea.
At first Cecile was just about to reject anyway, but hearing about her role and task to stay in the air she couldn't find a good reason not to support his suggestion. As much she wanted to have the last say in this matter, she didn't dare become irrational in this situation and let her ego cloude her judgment.
-"Fine, we will have it your way. But the moment I see any swarms, packs, crowds of Pokemon you can bet your butt that I will drag you back home! Damn, why did I agree to this again?", slowly but surely Cecile realised the gravity of the situation again. She would definitely get punished for this if her family ever got wind of their little trip.
She wasn't worried about going alone into the park, her Eevee and her Fearrow would protect her in any case. However, she wasn't that sure about Arthur's current status. Maybe it had been too reckless to let him move so soon after his attack after all.
Before she could change her mind though, the boy in question had already turned around and made his way through the bushes and trees in front of his path.
While Cecile was up in the air following behind on the back of her Fearsome, Arthur cautiously walked around the ground trying not to trip and injure himself even more. Some stray Pokemon appeared in the trees or dashed from to place to place thus rustling his environment, but none seemed to have evil intentions towards him.
As far as Arthur could remember from his brittle memories, the Green Garden was maintained in specific ways to attract weaker Pokemon and repel aggressive Pokemon that might harm people.
This way it was easier to research or catch them here. Lots of young children caught their first Pokemon in such environments. Of course that meant that most Pokemon that lived in these areas weren't very strong. It wasn't absolute, but a rule of thumb in the Pokemon World was that Pokemon that feasted upon other Pokemon were usually much stronger for some reason he didn't know.
The Green Garden was thus the home of smaller and weaker herbivores. Though it was likely that even then some Pokemon ate others from time to time. At he risk of getting killed of course. If a carnivore type Pokemon were to appear the rest of the herbivores might gang up to kill that 'invader'. Who knows.
Arthur picked up a red object from his pockets and opened up a display. Of course he had lied about needing to locate his position or attempting to familiarising himself with his surroundings.
-"Hehe, with this little baby here I will arrive at my destination in the blink of an eye", Arthur mumbled under his breath while checking upon his red PokeDex from time to time.
An arrow appeared on the small display which pointed at a direction somewhere north-east. After every 5 seconds or so the display would refresh to account for his ever changing place on the ground.
-("Srsly, this PokeDex is even better than Google Maps! I wish I had something like this back at home."), Atiqo's voice rang in his mind.
-"You don't have PokeDex there? How do you scan your Pokemon then?"
-("Arty! We don't even have Pokemon there, why should we have something cool like a PokeDex then? I mean, I have a lot of merch in my home, anything from the 1.Gen to latest Gen of Pokemon, but they are just Toys after all."), Atiqo responded with a sad underlying tone.
-"Oh right, no Pokemon ....", Arthur remembered he was housing a ghost from another dimension- ehh universe. After spending so much with his family again Arthur regained that feeling of familiarity with Pokemon in his world. On the other hand he felt strange when Atiqo talked about his home World where according to Atiqo Pokemon didn't exist at all. Instead they other kinds of creatures inhabiting his planet that were less 'awesome'.
-"Well, I guess it should be much safer over there, right? I mean you don't have to bother with fire -spitting creatures that could potentially ruin your whole city into ashes ...", Arthur got a shiver talking about fire.
-("Come on Arty! Fire Pokemon are awesome! A bit of heat shouldn't distract you from their amazing power they can display. Aside from that it depends on the usage of this Power instead of the power itself whether it's bad or not. People or Pokemon can use their forces to do more harm than good and vice versa, yes, that's why we have the law, governments and the police guarding our peace. This shouldn't be different no matter which universe I get sucked in, right? With great power comes-")
-"-great responsibility. I get it. Well, I guess you are right."
-("Wait, you have Spiderman in this universe?!"
(Spider-who? You just recited Spinman didn't you? That comic book hero who got bitten by a radioactive Spinarak and turned into a Human/Pokemon vigilante. I read that comic when I was younger."
-("Spinman? Really? Whatever..."), Atiqo was weirded out by this revelation and turned silent. It was better not to pry further into this topic he thought.
-"We are almost there!"
The PokeDex showed them that they were approaching the position of the mysterious source of energy they had been looking for all this while. Arthur felt the excitement radiating off of Atiqo's spirit. Arthur knew his companion hadn't told him about everything that happened to them. Why did he posses a mysterious PokeDex that urged him to find random stuff in random places? Why was Atiqo thrown into the Pokemon World ending up in Arthur's own body?Through their conversations Arthur didn't get the feeling Atiqo was much of an important person back on - wherever he came from.
And why was his mind stuck in a huge turmoil ever since their symbiosis took place? Arthur might have died a couple of times without Atiqo's timely help but his regular headaches haunting him made it hard to have any good feelings towards their common ordeal. Hopefully this discovery could clear some of his questions...
Similar thought swirled in Atiqo's non existing head. He may appear with a confident smile all the time, but ever since that meeting with Cornelius in his apartment on earth he hadn't felt like being in control of his circumstances. His positive and light hearted attitude was mostly a distraction from his current surreal experiences.
The PokeDex blinked faster and faster the closer they got to the origin of the signal. Arthur walked several meters ahead finally arriving at a tall tree, while throwing weird glances at the arrow on the display.
-"The mysterious signal come from ... this tree?"
-("No! This can't be!"), Atiqo immediately refuted his question. He had built a kind of expectation for the thing they were looking for. A spaceship? Fine! An alien grave? Super! A random 5 meter tall tree in the middle of nowhere? What the heck?! How was he supposed to get back home??? The tree didn't feel magical at all and its barks appeared like every other tree in this forest!
While Atiqo suffered from a sever case of 'short-circuitness', Arthur moved his eyes from the tip point of the arrow to a place above their heads. His sight also caught on to some deep marks on the bark itself.
-"I am not a tree expert but these marks look strangely fresh.", he remarked.
Atiqo awoke up from his stupor and noticed the markings as well as a small area hidden in the thick leaves of the tree.
-("You're right! And do you see that patch of green over there around the leaves and branches? It looks quite artificially made for my taste.")
They both realized that there was more to this tree than met the eye. It might have looked normal on purpose to conceal its true value!
Arthur gritted his teeth and began climbing up the tree despite the various risks involved in this endeavour. He hadn't fully healed yet so every strain he put on himself hurt double as much as usual! But this was a necessary price he had to pay - both he and Atiqo were sure of it.
Every child knew how to climb in Kanto, it wasn't always useful against Pokemon, but every additional tool in the survival kit could be a potential life-saver! It only took a couple of seconds to reach that weird place on the tree.
As he approached the structure the clearer his sight became and the mystery fully unfolded! It was indeed an artificial construct, a crude but still practical one. A head sized hole was reflected on Arthur's eyes. The interesting thing was that the hole was filled with sticks and leaves in its entrance. Looking from afar or from the ground it could have been easily overlooked or get mistaken for some kind of shrubs!
In reality it was a well covered hideout. Hidden in plain sight.
-"Who made this thing? And how is it ... uhhh... connected to that signal???", Arthur asked out loud while breathing a bit heavy.
Atiqo didn't answer yet, some cogs began moving in his mind but they didn't form a clear picture yet.
Arthur reached out for the hold and grabbed as many branches and leaves away as he could. In the blink of an eye the hole revealed a small stash of miscellaneous things stacked on top of each other. The foundation was made of small berries, a couple of flashy metal things caught his sight, PokeCoins. Aside from that there were also rings, gems, pearles gathered aorund. Was this the hidden stash from a thief?
-("Arthur, look, do you see that red gem?!"), Atiqo exclaimed suddenly.
Arthur moved his eyes around until they got stuck on a palm sized red gem sitting in the corner of the hole. His body unconsciously moved in its direction and pulled out that shiny little treasure to bask in the glowing rays of the sun. Somehow his senses tingled weirdly when his skin came into contact with the object. This thing was more than just some valuable piece of rock, his guts told him so. It was as if a huge tornado swirled inside that little object, but he probably just imagined that he thought.
Arthur pulled out his PokeDex and as he moved it near the gem to scan it, the Dex started behaving weird.
[BEEP. ENERGY CRYSTAL IN CLOSE PROXIMITY DETECTED BEEP.][CODE 1256 ACTIVATED BEEP.][ENERGY ATTRACTOR INITIALISED BEEP.][STARTING ASSIMILATION PROCESS BEEP.]
Suddenly a ray of light shot out from the PokeDex and hit the unusual gem right in the center, the light radiating from their point of contact was so bright Arthur had to let go of the Dex to shield his eyes!
Nonetheless, the Dex stayed stuck in midair, still summoning forth that bridge of mysterious light without end! If anyone else had been present to observe this moment they might have noticed how the small gem was losing its bright luster with every second that this process continued! At the same time the PokeDex was giving off more and more light, slowly its shape and contours changed as well!
However just as fast as this phenomenon appeared, it disappeared. Both the Dex and the gem fell on the ground of the hole and seemed as listless and inanimate as any other object in their surroundings. No evidence remained that might have alluded to their extraordinary nature at all.
Arthur looked back into the hold as he realized that the dangerous part was over. Who would have expected for such a reaction to occur just like that?!
He grabbed for the PokeDex and was about to confirm if everything was alright and if anything had changed when a strangely familiar voice entered his ear from the side:
-"Hey Lad, long time no see! How are you doing?"
Arthur's head jerked sideways to the origin of the voice, a tremor ran through his mind. A tall silver haired man with astute looks smiled upon his face while standing on the very same branch and asked him:
-"Lad, did you miss me?"
Whether it was because of that mysterious man covered in a mix of metal and leather armour who had appeared out of the blue, or because he had lost his grip over the tree and was falling several meters onto the ground, Arthur still had to scream to let out his surprise!
-"Ohhhh urgh, shiiiiiit. Damned! That hurt!", Arthur cursed out loud with a horrible grimace.
-("Well, you are still alive, right?"), Atqio tried to console him. According to his understanding, the people in the Pokemon World had a more robust physique for unknown reasons. Even though Arthur had already been in an injured state, this incident would just add another day to recover on his pile of rest.
-"I agree with him lad, as long your spirit hasn't bitten the dust your body will remain invincible! Hahaha!"
Both Atiqo and Arthur froze on the spot, their thoughts standing still for a second.
-"Hahaha, did I surprise you maybe? Don't worry, I am already used to that, hahaha!"
It was then that both youths erupted at the same time:
-"WHAT THE HECK???? WHO ARE YOU?! No, first, did you just see what had happened?! I could have died Mister?!"
-("Cornelius! Y-you must be a ghost! I saw you die! Right before my eyes I saw you die when you exploded into those lights! How is this possible?! What the heck is going on??? No, wait ... DID YOU JUST HEAR ME?! Can you read my eh- his eh- our minds?!!!")
Cornelius appeared unfazed by their bombarding questions and responded calmly while holding his arms up:
-"Woa, woa, woa there. One question after another lads, Haste makes waste, haha. I understand that this whole situation must be very perplexing for you but how about we take care of the most important stuff first? I think you would want to discuss things in more appropriate environ-"
Arthur was about to agree with the man's suggestions when outraged voice filled his whole head:
-("DON'T YOU DARE FUCKING SCREW ME OVER AGAIN!!!"), Atiqo might have wanted to use more respectable words considering Arthur's presence, but it felt like he didn't care at the moment or rather his priorities lied completely elsewhere right now,
-(DON'T YOU DARE SCREW ME WITH ANOTHER ONE OF YOUR EXCUSES!", Arthur literally sensed the rage in Atiqo's words. The anguish, the confusion and helplessness Atiqo had held back in the depths of his soul gushed out in this second all at once.
-("Do you even see in what crazy situation I am in?! I am stuck in this boy's body for who knows how long as a ghost and the first thing coming out of your mouth is a damned excuse to escape again?! AGAIN?! You threw me out of my home, MY WORLD to this place FOR WHAT?!!! For ... what ...", Atiqo's voice quivered at the end.
He might have lost his usual cool for a moment but he didn't care. He had built up so many questions over time without any kind of outlet to release them all. Atiqo got separated from his family and friends without permission and came into contact with real Pokemon which was nice and all. But in the end he couldn't shake off the disturbing factors surrounding his transition into this world.
The bloody Cornelius nearing his death, the exploding light, that mind numbing trip through the endless darkness, it all came back. He need answers, and he needed them right now.
Cornelius' smile broke off and his cheerful aura turned bitter. His deep gaze met Arthur's eyes but his own vision went even further until he came across a young man in his twenties with short black hair and tanned skin. They both confronted each other and while Cornelius inherently possessed an imposing and powerful aura, Atiqo's stance didn't shrink back at all.
Maybe it was his young age that didn't know any fear, or his insane experiences that hardened him up against any kind of spiritual confrontations but Atiqo's unyielding expression told Cornelius that he did not intend to take a step back under any circumstances at all. He knew that expression very well from his younger days.
-"Sighhhh, alright lad, you have won. What do you want to know?", Cornelius let out a heavy sigh but the corners of his mouth went up a bit as he talked.
-("Why?"), Atiqo's tone softened after his emotions went back to normal.
-("Why everything."), Atiqo replied steadfast.
-"Sigh, well, this will take some time.", Cornelius answered back.
-"We have time.", Arthur replied in Atiqo's place. He was also very eager to understand their situation better.
-"I might not be so sure about this young one."
-"What do you mean?", Arthur asked worriedly.
-"I realised that I haven't properly introduced myself yet. Sorry for that lad.", he bowed down a little,"My name is Cornelius Sullivan, Archdeacon of the Ancient Order, servant of his Majesty, the Creator of all existences and his Sword and Shield to all enemies his Majesty may face. And the reason why this - no, why everything happened is because of his Majesty's nemesis - the Emperor.", his face grew solemn at the end.
-"Wait, this doesn't explain anything at all! Who is this Majesty, and what's his deal with that Emperor guy?"
Arthur's question might have triggered Cornelius as his tone took on a not so subtle zealous shade:
-"His Majesty is the beginning and the end! The radiant light to all man- and Pokemon kind! He is a transcendent being, an almighty shepherd, while we are his mortal flock!"
-("Okay, we understand. Very great powerful guy. What does that have to do with us exactly?"), Atiqo felt this conversation wasn't going anywhere so he interrupted him a bit.
-"The Emperor has been stuck in a stalemate with his Majesty for countless eons. Their conflict has been going on for so long that even our Order's records can't exactly say what the original cause of their battle had been. Nevertheless, it doesn't change the fact that the Emperor is the most dreadful and evil enemy all living creatures might ever face. That's because his goal entails the destruction of the whole World! The whole universe even!"
Arthur became stumped at the last words. Destruction of the world? Did he really say that just now? Why did the fate of the universe suddenly become a topic in this conversation????
Atiqo on the hand had another question in mind:
-("And what does that have to with me? I am sorry but I am not even from this same universe, why did I get involved in this conflict?"), he didn't want to sound cold but he wanted to hear an answer.
-"I ... I have to admit I am not sure about this as well. I was originally supposed to get teleported to our emergency hideout but instead I somehow landed in your ... eh-"
-"Yes. I, I didn't even know there were other universes in the first place, putting aside a universe where Pokemon don't exist in the first place. But I might have some speculations regarding this wonderous ... event."
-"Young Atiqo, there must be a reason for why I landed exactly on your doorsteps. Your universe even. Everything is connected. The only reasonable explanation must be that you were chosen! By his Majesty personally!", Cornelius voice gained more confidence the more he talked.
-("Wait, this doesn't make sense! Why should I get chosen??")
-"Listen Atqio, everything is connected! Even the universes! You are living proof of that, regardless of your current strange circumstances. If our universe were to perish through the hands of the Emperor, your universe and all the other innumerable ones that might exist would follow! Like a card house that needs each card to uphold the fabric of reality, everything would crumble into the cold and empty void if one card was obliterated!", his explanation was simple but held an omnious and foreboding underlying message. If the Emperor wasn't stopped all things would cease to exist.
A small but sharp thought suddenly went through Arthur's mind who had been silent this time around, as he felt that Atiqo urgently needed some clarifications.
He instantly gave voice to his thoughts:
-"Did you just say ... teleport?", a lot of crazy had happened to him and even crazier things might happen in the future but somehow this single word immediately stuck out for him. Maybe because it was one of the few simple concepts he could gather and comprehend from their baffling talk,
-"Teleport like in ... teleport teleport???"
Atiqo also quickly realized the weird nature of that word and thought back to how natural it came out from Cornelius mouth. When did teleportations suddenly become everyday sightings? As far as he remembered even the Pokemon World hadn't tapped into this complex technology yet.
Cornelius looked at them with his vision, his thoughts halted for a millisecond as he noticed his little fauxpas. His face made a weird expression and he chuckled clearly embarrassed:
-"Hehe, ahh yeah, teleportations. Maybe I should have told you earlier that I am ehh ... from the future?", he smiled at them apologetically and scratched his back out of habit.
Arthur's mouth widened up into a hole, and even Atiqo's spirit mouth showcased a huge opening gap. Both of their minds were frozen still as they still had to process the implications made by this revelation.
-"Yes, the future. 1000 years from the future to be exact, hahaha!", Cornelius tried shaking off the silent strange mood with a light laughter but it just added another eerie component into the mix.
A seemingly endless but actually short amount of time later:
-"WHAT THE HECK?!!!"
-("ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! THE FUTURE?!"
-"T-T-THOUSAND YEARS?!!!!", a shocked female and young voice shrieked, a small distance away from them.
Arthur, Atiqo and Cornelius all saw a young red haired girl in a flight suit standing next to a tree while pointing with one arm at them. Her arms, no, her whole body visibly trembled and her face showed obvious confusion, shock, astonishment and a hint of fright.
Her legs went limp all of a sudden and collapsed right on the very same spot. A little brown ball of fur climbed out from the suit and looked at Cecile's face. The Pokemon hit the face lightly with her paw but after seeing no reactions her vision went towards the trio of men farther away. Her head tilted sidewards in a very cute manner and Eevette gave out a questioning sound:
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