Chapter 1: Prologue: Those Chosen By Legends
Eraqus sends his children to Radiant Garden City, praying that Terra will meet a Pokemon that does not dislike him on sight.
Giratina thinks about the boy he marked that day five years ago and how it forever altered his fate.
"Terra...did you get into another fight with Mawhile?" Eraqus asked with a sigh, helping his youngest child to his feet. It felt like every time he turned around, the boy needed saving from a Pokemon.
"I didn't mean to vati. Pokemon just don't like me much...at least none of yours aside from Meowstic."
"Are you certain you still wish to go on a journey, knowing you're a walking target Terra? Aqua may side with you, but if any of the Pokemon attack you..." Eraqus knew it was a moot point. Terra didn't mind taking a hit or two, so long as he was at least acknowledged. It was when a Pokemon flat out ignored his existence or looked own on him for whatever reason. Things had been fine before Terra had his near-brush with death at five.
"It'll be fine vater! I'll be with Terra the whole time and Professor Ansem wouldn't let something bad happen either."
"I suppose I couldn't stop you two even if I locked the doors. Just promise me that if you get upset Terra, that you won't run off and shut everyone out. You could get lost in Radiant Garden doing that since it is a big city with several acres of forest." Terra tended to shut down if he felt wronged as Eraqus had quickly discovered when he scolded his son without actually telling him what he'd done wrong. While communication got better as Terra matured, the boy could not always seem to articulate with words how he was feeling even at ten years of age.
"I won't run vati. I can still go to the Pokemon lab with Aqua right? You said that we could both start a Pokemon journey like you did at our age."
"I won't rescind my promise Terra. Professor Ansem is expecting both of you. I expect you both to be polite and well behaved. Good luck and Terra, make sure you especially contact me at least once every week." Eraqus said, watching with pride as his children set off for Radiant Garden City and the beginning of their journeys. A small fear in the back of his mind would not let go so he looked skyward, heart open to Arceus.
'Please, Lord Arceus...guide that boy to a Pokemon who will not resent him for whatever crime he is wrongly held accountable for. I do not know why since that day Pokemon have either feared or ridiculed him...but please, give him a companion who will never shun him for surviving that fall.'
If Eraqus's words reached the Alpha Pokemon, he did not know. All he could do was pray.
Watching unknown in the shadows of the world where things were mirrored and order kept, a large serpent-like Pokemon sang in sadness for its chosen human. Every generation or so, the legendary Pokemon of old would claim a human as theirs to watch over and protect. These humans would bear the aura of their legendary. The Pokemon was sad for it knew that few Pokemon would willingly see past its overwhelmingly 'frightening' aura to the boy beneath.
Unlike Rayquaza's chosen a boy who seemed to radiate good will and joy or even Kyogre's chosen of the lovely blue haired girl, the boy Eraqus prayed for had been marked by the 'Devil' itself. Thus did Giratina mourn for the boy it had saved five long years ago.
'Giratina...do you regret your claim upon the child?' A gentle voice called, as Arceus materialized before his third child. Arceus had heard the sad song of Giratina and could tell how immensely sad the boy's path made the great ghost dragon. Originally, the boy had been intended to be marked by Groudon. Had the boy not nearly perished, it was likely he would still be aligned to the Land Guardian.
'I do not regret saving the boy, only that being my chosen will make him suffer. I will not break a soul oath even if it hurts me to watch him suffer so. I will not risk killing any human just because I regret marking them for the rest of their natural life. I just wish that there were Pokemon who would see past ME and see the boy as he truly is.'
Arceus understood, for he too had once had a chosen. That child...Sora had been so pure and bright, genuinely wanting the best for humans and Pokemon alike. Sora would have begged him to help the boy as well, he was sure. All he could do was channel his energy and envelope it around the boy, hiding Giratina's aura. Giratina looked at him in disbelief and confusion as he felt his connection muffle.
'Unless he is in dire danger, your connection to him will remain hidden. That is the only chance I can give him to find a partner. Should all three beginner Pokemon reject him, the bond will reveal itself and only a Pokemon that truly sees him will come to him. This I do for not only you and the father, but for my lost sky.'
Chapter 2: Why Don't I Fit In?
Terra and Aqua arrive in Radiant Garden City where they meet new trainers Isa and Lea. After an accidental fire caused by Lea's Litten, they meet with Professor Ansem himself to receive their first Pokemon.
"Wow! Look at all the buildings Aqua! They're amazing! How long do you think it took them to build them?" Terra was looking around in awe at the antique buildings that littered the streets of Radiant Garden City, often called Radiant Garden for short. Each building seemed to hold so much history around it and the architecture soon had him doing little scribbles in his journal. Aqua knew he was lost in his own little world, but she was relieved. It meant he was ignoring the blatant staring of some of the local Pokemon. Many of them looked unsure what to make of him rather than the usual disdain or dislike.
"Terra, I know that you like old buildings but we really need to find the Pokemon Lab--look out!"
Terra was startled as Aqua tackled him to the ground, his journal tumbling through the air where he'd been standing. Terra watched in horror as flames engulfed the entire journal. That journal had been given to him by Frau Cinderella while he'd been really sick and contained all his notes about architectural design as well as his sketches. A lump formed in his throat as intense heat wormed behind his eyes but he refused to scream at Aqua, she had just saved him from being barbecued. Aqua seemed as upset as him if not more as she got up and glared at the approaching Pokemon.
"You had no right to attack my brother! Trainer Pokemon are not permitted to attack non trainers or non-wild Pokemon without provocation!"
"Litten!" The small cat hissed, eyes narrowed distrustfully at Terra as the boy stood up and picked up the charred remains of his journal quietly. Something about the boy felt all wrong. Most humans had a legendary who watched over them, but he couldn't tell who cared for this boy.
"Sorry 'bout him! Litten just suddenly ran off on me."
Aqua watched as a boy with apple red hair came running around the corner with a Pokeball in hand. Behind him was another much calmer looking boy with hair similar to her own. Aqua scowled at the boy after seeing that Terra was trying not to cry over his journal. It was bad enough that their father's Pokemon treated Terra like a plague some days, they didn't need it from another trainer.
"You're apologizing to the wrong person. It wasn't me that your Pokemon nearly roasted."
Lea winced at the declaration. It really shouldn't have happened to begin with. But Litten had started tailing the kids the minute they entered the city. The boy who was nearly struck by Ember had unshed tears in his eyes as he picked up several charred fragments of what looked to be a journal. Lea got the feeling that he wouldn't be crying if that book hadn't meant a lot to him.
"Sorry about Litten trying to attack you like that kid. I really don't know what got into him. My name is Lea. Got it memorized? This is Isa, one of my best friends. Kid?"
Terra couldn't hear him, his mind was racing as he tried to put the pieces back together. Terra felt a numbness consuming him as a dread set itself into his heart.
'No one will want me. Coming with Aqua...what was I thinking? Pokemon have...disliked me since I can remember. None of them will let me be their trainer and I'll have to go home anyway. I'll just...go...home. Litten is one of the starters and it was willing to singe me before meeting me.'
"Terra?" Aqua was worried. When Terra got really quiet like this...his mind was planting doubts into his head and that usually led to exactly what their father had warned against. Terra was getting ready to bolt off blindly. Thankfully, Isa seemed to realize something of what was happening. Isa calmly walked up to Terra and placed a hand on his shoulder, drawing the younger boy out of his head so that blue eyes met turquoise.
"Don't let your doubt stop you from even trying. You came to Radiant Garden to become a trainer didn't you? If you give up over this then how can you expect to become a trainer and grow as a person?"
"How can I be a trainer when every Pokemon I meet hates me for existing?!" Terra snapped, voice harsh and cold as he met Isa's gaze. The emptiness felt like it was swallowing him whole. Then a larger, gentle hand landed on his head and instantly the emotions rushed back and for the first time in years Terra felt himself start crying uncontrollably. Aqua ran over and wrapped her arms around her brother, trying to soothe him as the owner of the hand spoke.
"Terra, have you considered that you are NOT the problem? In my expert opinion, the fault lies with Lea for not taking better care with Litten and with Litten for attacking an unarmed boy. Tell me, have you ever done anything to provoke the Pokemon who attack you?"
"N-no, that why I know they hate me. They don't even let me say hi or pet them before the bite, scratch or hiss at me." Terra said once he'd finished crying. It felt relieving to let the tears flow. Slowly, he turned to Lea and Litten and smiled sadly. "It's okay Litten. I'm not mad, just sad that you disliked me instantly. Lea, thank you for apologizing anyway."
'Why did I get so upset? I've never broken down like that. Is it because everything is new all at once or because like Frau Cinderella said? That I was keeping everything inside too tightly.'
"At any rate, I believe you and Aqua are due at the lab." Professor Ansem said with a warm smile, guiding the two soon to be trainers to the large castle-like building. Terra's eyes widened and he felt the knot in his chest loosen quickly as he took in the building and pulled a napkin from his pocket to sketch it out.
"This is the Pokemon lab? It's so amazing! It's like a castle!"
"I am pleased you like it young man. Try not to mind too much if you see some loose webs. My Spinarak likes to make nets for storing berries we feed her." Ansem was relieved that Terra's love of buildings was taking his mind off the confrontation with Litten. Hopefully at least the grass type, Rowlet would like the boy. Terra was definitely a steady boy for the most part, so long as his calm wasn't shattered. Grass types seemed appropriate at any rate.
The walk to the main lab was full of tension from the residential Pokemon but nothing but wonder seemed to have Terra's attention. Ansem had never before had so many questions about the lab's architecture, let alone from a boy about the same age as his own sons. Speaking of whom...oh dear, right on though.
"Yo, look out if you don't wanna be roadkill!"
The three looked up and Ansem quickly pulled the children aside as a black blur raced down the banister. With a click, a boy with black spikey hair and orange-red eyes landed on the floor with a skateboard in tow and a smirk.
"Not bad pops. These Ven's fellow newbies?"
"That is correct. You do remember promising me you would cease riding that skateboard indoors if I let you choose Gastly as your partner yes?" Ansem answered calmly as he leveled his son with a look. Vanitas at least had the sense to look a bit guilty. Terra tried hard not to, but the laugh slipped from his lips before he could think and he came fully back out of his shell.
"That was pretty cool! How did you manage not to damage the banister with the skateboard?"
"Easy; I coated the bottom of it with a layer of fruffles that Froakie loaned me. Pops's assistants would ream me if I actually damaged the lab. Well, maybe not scarface. Name is Vanitas." The black-haired boy answered with a grin. Ven's hunch to liven things up had gone off well. The brunet was smiling from the heart now in such a way he could see life in his blue eyes instead of that lost gaze.
"I'm Terra and this is my sister Aqua. Did I hear right that your partner is a Gastly?"
"Yup. I picked her because I helped raise her after she hatched. As a result we're pretty close. Did you know that if a bond is strong enough you don't have to trade Haunter to get Gengar? My goal is to prove pops right. Any idea what starters you guys are going to start out with?" Vanitas asked, hoping to keep Terra focused on the conversation and not on the very dangerous Pokemon that was creeping up behind him.
"I know that I plan to start off with Popplio. Water types are my favorite and I bet Primarina would love to be a performer with me."
"My answer isn't so clear," Terra admitted. "I guess that...my partner will be whichever one actually wants to be paired with me. It isn't right to force the issue if none of them do though. If one doesn't like me, I'll just go home and help dad run the gym I guess."
Ansem listened to the children converse, a pang of sorrow echoing in his heart. Terra was putting on a brave face, but he could tell the boy just wanted to cry again or run from the rejection. Ansem's eyes however, stayed firmly fixed upon the large Pokemon that was now observing Terra carefully. Garchomp was usually very open and friendly with the children who came to the lab, but with Terra it was almost like she was investigating him. If the land shark moved to hurt the boy though, Ansem would step in himself. It as one thing for a Bidoof to tackle the boy in the ribs, it was another for a Garchomp to bite him. Thankfully the mood was about to brighten considerably.
"DAD! You won't believe this! My partner already picked me and likes to sleep in my shirt!" Ventus cried, happily running into the room with a sleeping Rowlet poking its head out of his shirt. It was rather comical.
"So that's where Rowlet got off to. I suppose that just leaves seeing whether or not Litten will partner with you Terra."
"It won't." Terra said so confidently, that Ansem felt alarm bells in his head. Something was out of place. Externally, Terra looked so calm as he said it but one look at the boy's eyes and he knew he was ready to bolt from the lab or find a dark room to cry in. As if the mention of its name called it, Litten came out of the main lab with Popplio. Popplio instantly flung itself onto Aqua's head, rubbing against her hair making the girl laugh. Litten looked at Terra and Terra looked back. Ansem half expected the fire kitten to attack, instead it lifted its head in an almost condescending manner and turned on its heel back into the lab.
"See? Pokemon just...don't like me. It's like all they have to do is look at me and I'm nothing to them but someone to ignore or use for target practice. It's okay. I'll just go home. You can't force anyone to like you. Thank you for letting me come to the lab Professor."
"Terra--" Aqua tried to stop him, but Terra was already running. Tears filled her eyes as she tried to follow her brother only to lose him at a fork in the road. The darkness of night was falling quickly. Even Popplio seemed sad and worried as she tried to wipe her new partner's tears. Ansem felt a sense of dread when he caught up to the girl. A ten-year-old boy was lost in Radiant Garden, with no Pokemon or guardian and was suffering from an emotional overload and there were plenty of wild Pokemon who would likely do the boy harm.
"Dad...is that boy going to be okay? Rowlet and I could go look for him."
"No. I want you both to stay in the lab. Garchomp, you and I will look for Terra. Hopefully nothing empathic has caught wind of his high emotions just yet." Ansem said, motioning the large Pokemon to his side. What should have been a day simply to get new trainers underway had very quickly turned into a search and rescue. Garchomp nodded, wishing now that it had not been so wary of the boy. Now that it had seen the boy's respect for a Pokemon's desires, it felt the wariness unfounded.
Terra didn't know why had made him run off like he had, but he felt very foolish for it now that he was lost in one of the many parks in Radiant Garden. It was getting dark enough the street lamps were being lit. Feeling increasingly lonely, Terra sat at the base of a lamppost, hoping the wild Pokemon would see he wasn't a threat and leave him alone. Sitting there by himself, the tears fell freely as he buried his face against his knees making himself as small as possible. Terra didn't even budge when it started to drizzle, a light mist of rain falling from the skies as if to mirror his mood. Terra didn't so much feel sad now as genuinely hurt that Litten hadn't even let him say hello before deciding he was worthy of that much. Popplio had automatically leapt at Aqua and he was happy her partner was so eager to meet her, but is still stung that she was accepted as easily as he was rejected. The sound of footsteps gradually got his attention, and he looked up with trepidation. All Terra could do was pray the owner of the silhouette was friendly.