Post 77Gateon Port||Night||Stormy Weather
Eldes breathed a small sigh of relief. Finally. All posturing was gone and set aside. Michael snapped his Espeon to his side and began to gather his things around the room. Each of Eldes' own pokemon had watched in silent horror, unsure of how to stop the fight from escalating. In truth, Oasis had been too petrified by the likeness her trainer had taken to his ruthless twin. The hateful, pointed stares from Lucky hadn't helped, but she knew that no amount of apologizing would have aided Eldes the night Michael had arrived.
Michael bid the other pokemon a quiet farewell as he prepared to leave, each unable to really respond out of sheer shock and sadness. Eldes followed the boy with his eyes, silently urging the Michael out the door as he paused in the threshold. "Take care Eldes. I hope you are happy in the life you have chosen."
And with that, he left.
Michael was out of his life."I'm uh..."
Banny began awkwardly, shrinking a little under the cold, emotionless gaze. "I'm going to uh... keep lookout for a bit."
Koikoi quietly agreed, following the Azumarill up the stairs. The tension, it seemed, hadn't lifted as Oasis and Atticus drew closer to their trainer."Did you really want that to happen?"
Atticus began, his voice even, level and rational. The large dog eyed the void that had consumed his trainer, carefully picking out a tactic to retrieve the man he loved and respected from its depths. "Eldes?""For Michael to leave?"
he snapped back, finally breaking from his stance at the door to the desk Michael had been busy mutilating. "Yes. That's exactly what I wanted.""Eldes--""Atticus, no. I've had enough fighting. I'm done arguing."
The ginger stopped in front of the Arcanine, his stare narrow and dangerous. "Drop it."
Atticus remained unfazed by Eldes' anger, as he had fully expected it. "I followed and believed in you, Eldes, because I knew you were nothing like the man you had left behind in Cipher,"
Atticus quietly began. "The cruelty that was the legacy of your family was a stain on your soul, to be sure, but nothing your determination and decency could overcome. I thoroughly believed, as did everyone else here, that you were better than that. Better than your despicable father and far more level-headed than your wayward brother."
The mention of Ardos in such a foul light shockingly didn't improve Eldes' mood. "We're TWINS, Atticus!"
Eldes roared, earning a flinch from the other pokemon in the room aside from the stoic fire-type. "Stop talking about Ardos like he's a plague! He's my BROTHER!""That doesn't give you an excuse to lower your own standards to fit his,"
Atticus deftly replied. "You wouldn't have been happy if you had stayed by his side. You know that. Lamenting over it might give you enough justification to spurn Michael but deep down, you know you wouldn't have ever been able to fully agree to Ardos' dogma. You spent years feeling guilt for doing what you did in Cipher, you've spent years feeling guilt even after paying for those crimes. If you had truly abandoned your moral compass, you would have sought out those scouts and found a way back to Citadark. Or just left them to kill Michael on their own."
Eldes' face twitched as Atticus reached and attacked the one final thing that would cause a reaction. He was... right. As much as he lamented not choosing to stay with his brother, he knew deep down that it was all for naught anyway. No matter what, he wouldn't have been happy continuing Father's work, even at Ardos' side. No matter what, he wouldn't have been happy at all.
He could never be happy...
The realization and admittance hit him like a bag of bricks. His chest collapsed and his legs buckled, the lack of sleep and mental stability finally taking its toll as the emotionless void of his soul was suddenly filled to the brim. He had been damned the moment he'd left Cipher, doomed to be persecuted, loathed and tortured by most of the other people he'd met. With Ardos, he would have been a fugitive and... it would have happened anyway. Their relationship would have been strained as Eldes would have been forced more and more to abandon his morals and ethics and he would have come to resent his brother likely almost as much as he resented their shared father. He would have been alone, just like he was now. He was just... doomed to be miserable.
A gentle pressure on his back told him otherwise, though; he squeezed his eyes shut to block out Oasis' terrified expression. She had been the only pokemon to stay with him through everything, even when his Ninjask had opted to leave. His pokemon had been ardently and aggressively protective of him, even at his worst moments... and he supposed he shouldn't have been surprised now. "Eldes..."
she began gently, though the fear was still evident in her trembling voice. "You aren't Ardos. You never have been. If you were capable of being like him, I..."
The pressure of her hand eased; she was backing away. Eldes flinched; was she leaving him now, too? "Would you turn me?"
The question was so far-fetched, Eldes opened his reddened eyes to stare at her. "If it... meant that you could go back to Ardos now and... and be with him and the Isle, would... ?"
She swallowed and shook her head. "If you were willing to do that, it would show that you were ready to really commit again to Cipher. Ardos... might really take you back. Especially since his scouts have probably seen Michael leave... alone. Would you...?"
Eldes sat back on his feet, his expression exhausted confusion. Was she offering, or was she just... asking to see if he would actually go through with it? Of course, his instinct was no. He couldn't turn his most loyal companions and friends into mindless monsters. He may as well just let them get infected. She did make a decent point, though he doubted Ardos would really want him to do such a thing; he had only exiled Eldes to keep from having to kill him. "...No..."
was his soft answer. "...Of course not... Why would you ask me that...?"
Oasis' large orange eyes moistened and her mouth twitched with effort to keep from crying. She had always been a strong dragon, one with sass and spunk and personality. She had an emotional stability Eldes envied, as she rarely ever cried. But now... "I-I just..."
she stammered, "I just... wanted t-to make sure you w-were st-st-still yo-ou.."
She couldn't keep the sobs at bay any longer and broke down weeping. Watching his oldest companion shatter into incoherent tears wasn't something Eldes was prepared for in the least. "I-I thought that-that-that Gree-eevil had finally... gotten... That-- he'd--"
Eldes couldn't stand it anymore and basically threw himself onto her, wrapping his arms around the dusk-painted dragon's slight frame. "Wh-why did you say those hor-horrible things?!"
she cried. "You're better than that! You've always been better than that!"
He honestly didn't have an answer for her. "I--""GUYS!"
The alarmingly loud cry from above caught all of them off guard, temporarily stifling Oasis' tears. Banny bounced down the stairs, Koikoi close on his heels. They were both practically white with fear. "OUTSIDE! OUTSIDE NOW!"
With no other real choice other than to follow, they obeyed and met the two pokemon outside.
The storm cloaked the horizon on all sides-- they were in the eye, it seemed. Sparse moonlight filtered through the breaks and thinner sheets of clouds to reveal something moving through them. Eldes squinted to see something... bird-like...? It drew a little closer and then let out a chilling bellow from its maw-- a bellow Eldes knew too well.
Stunned into silence and stillness, Eldes watched in horror as the moon revealed the dark, abyssal feathers that stained the otherwise white Legendary. The dragon-like Legend let out another hateful cry and turned toward Ardos' fortress. "That... can't be--""Shadow Lugia,"
Eldes breathed. "That's... impossible,"
Oasis muttered as she sat by her trainer. "Michael purified him. He told you himself."
Eldes could only dumbly nod."Ardos will capture him,"
Atticus stated, urgency tinting his otherwise stoic voice. "We can't allow Ardos to have Shadow Lugia as a weapon again. That gives him the mobility and firepower to attack those Resistance groups he and Michael spoke about."
He was right. Shadow Lugia had been a faithful soldier to Father, going so far as plucking a cruise ship from the ocean. Would the modifications that Lovrina had put into the beast have held through all this time? How was he even a Shadow again? This wouldn't have been Ardos' doing-- he would have gloated when Eldes was last there. Could it have been Ein? Too many questions ran through Eldes' head as his pokemon demanded action around him.
Claws grabbed his collar and strong, lithe arms pulled him to face Oasis, her expression urgent. "Eldes, we have to do something."
She leaned closer and dropped her voice a little. "I know Michael hurt you. I know you're in so much pain right now. But we can't sit idly by while Ardos and his cult get Lugia back. If you can't do it as an IPF officer, then do it for the pokemon we helped destroy. We owe it to that Legend to get him out of that hell. We HAVE to!"
Eldes couldn't argue with that logic, but he shook his head nonetheless. "If Michael's method didn't work, I'm not sure what will,"
he admitted. "I don't remember anything about the purification process.""Then FUCK purification!"
Banny cried, his voice cracking a little from the strain. "We can just focus on getting him away from Ardos! That's step one anyway!"
Eldes turned back to watch as the dark splotch against the storming sky revealed the Legend being fired upon with... something. The Legend's angry cries echoed even past their pier; there was no way he could stop them now, nor was there anything he could do to free Lugia on his own. But... Oasis was right. If there was anything he owed to anyone, it was that Legend's freedom. He breathed in a small huff to steady himself and nodded."....You're right."
It took the rest of the night to pack the things they'd hoarded in the lighthouse. The rain had begun to pick up again, but no one was about to let that keep them from moving. With the pokemon packed, Eldes chose Oasis as his mount. He knew he only had a small window of opportunity to disappear from Ardos' scouts while they were busy with Lugia's capture and he needed to leave as fast as possible without leaving a trail. Giving the sturdy sanctuary one last look, he spurred the Flygon on into the sky, rocketing above the clouds and beyond. He had no real want to leave, but... for once, Michael would have been right.
He needed help.
[[Leaving post. HOLY CRAP ELDES IS FINALLY LEAVING.]]