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oh, all the echoes in my mind cry

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Breaking into Team Galactic's main base is, in the end, much easier said than done.

Personally, Cynthia thinks it would have been easier if they'd all just gone in with metaphorical guns blazing, but she gets outvoted by reasoning along the lines of oh my gods, Cynth, there are way more of them than there are of us and we need the element of surprise.

...so. Just walking in and destroying the place is, sadly, out of the question. The plan is to get in, free the Lake Guardians, and get out. Which is easier said than done. Much easier said than done.

Barry volunteers to wait outside with Lucas, to make sure they have a way out if (really, when, Cynthia is not great at things like stealth and avoiding discovery) anyone gets caught and they have to run very fast. This leaves the group actually going in to consist of Cynthia, Cheryl, Riley... and Dawn.

It's almost like old times, except that in old times, Cyrus was right here with them, and not blocking the path Riley had sworn up and down leads to where the lake trio is being held. And not, of course, the leader of the group that's trying to destroy Sinnoh.

(Riley and Cheryl had gotten separated from her and Dawn a few rooms back. Cynthia knows they're on their way, too, but—there's no time.)

Dawn, peeking around the corner, barely muffles a gasp before Cynthia tugs her back. "Is that—I swear I've seen that person somewhere before..."

"That," Cynthia whispers back, "is Cyrus. The leader of Team Galactic. And..." She trails off, shakes her head.

"And?" Dawn prompts.

"It's nothing." It's a lot more than nothing. "We need to get past them to—"

"Lake guardians."

"Yes. But they will see us, and they absolutely can't see me. Unless..."

"Unless...?" Dawn apparently decides not to question that right now. "Why can't they see you?"

"Long story. Ask me tomorrow." Assuming, of course, that there is a tomorrow, but. Cynthia didn't come this far to not be optimistic. "I hate to ask you to do this, but—"

"Sure thing. Can I borrow your Lopunny's knife?"

Cynthia stares at Dawn briefly like she's spontaneously grown a second head. "...no, that’s hers, and I think we may be talking about two different things."

"I'm just saying—" Dawn sighs. "Okay, fine, what do you want me to do?"

"Distract them. Ideally with a pokemon battle—they're good, but so are you. I don't need you to win, just to make the fight long enough and difficult enough on their end that they have to think and won’t be watching for anything else.”

Dawn squints at her suspiciously. "Then can I kick their ass?"

"Yeah. Just—be ready to run once I get back."

(Cynthia isn’t one to take things slow at the best of times. This scenario is quite far from the best of times. Riley had closed his eyes and set a hand against the wall and tried to locate the lake guardians from outside, and flinched away with eyes widening within moments. They’re in pain, he’d said. We need to hurry.)

She blinks, and Dawn’s gone to challenge Cyrus with a holler of “Hey!”

She closes her eyes, and leans against the wall, and listens to the person that used to be her best friend say in a near-monotone, “You must be the child so determined to stop us.”

“For the record,” Dawn retorts, “I’m fifteen. And I’m not just determined to stop you, I am going to stop you, here and now! Tuxedo, get their ass!”

“Rrrray!” Tuxedo growls.

“A battle, then?” Cyrus says. “If you insist.” There’s the sound of a pokeball opening, and a gasp from Dawn.

“Hey, what the fuck,” Dawn says, and Cynthia risks a peek. On one side of Cyrus’s office is Dawn, her Luxray by her side with fur bristling. And on the other, behind their desk… is Cyrus, and a very specific Crobat.

“Poison Fang,” Cyrus says, and their Crobat obeys, sinking its fangs into the Luxray. Tuxedo stumbles backwards, claws skidding against the metal floor, but it doesn’t look like she’s poisoned. That’s good.

Hands balled up into fists, Dawn shouts, “Thunder Fang!”

And Cynthia takes that as her cue to leave, dashing across the stretch of hallway open to Cyrus’s office. If they see her, they don’t comment on it—and there’s a nonzero chance they don’t see her at all, not when they are busy recalling their Crobat in favor of one of their relatively few pokemon not weak to electricity.

If only they still had a Rotom. (She still doesn’t know what happened to xyr between Cyrus’s disappearance and Lucas meeting a Rotom in the Old Chateau. But whatever it was, it is very clear that Tesla blames Cyrus for it.)

(She wonders if that’s why Lucas had volunteered to keep watch, or at least part of why.)

There’s another warp panel on the far side of the hallway, and Cynthia steps into it without hesitation, one hand on Helios’s pokeball. The panel takes her to a different hallway, somewhere in the building. It’s darker. Dustier. Something about it—maybe a lot of somethings about it—makes her feel like she’s being watched, even though this hallway is deserted.

She sends out Helios preemptively. The little Jolteon’s ears droop, and he rubs up against her leg with a whimper. Cynthia pets him, ignoring the slight shock from the static buildup, and keeps moving. At the end of the hallway is a doorway, darkened. She steps inside, fumbles on the wall for a light switch.

There’s—something here. Three somethings, trapped in three identical vats of a liquid Cynthia can’t identify and doesn’t really want to, hooked up to all kinds of tubes and machines. Mespirit is curled in upon faerself, visibly shuddering. Azelf’s eyes are scrunched shut from pain. And Uxie…

Uxie’s eyes are shut, but they always are. Still, Cynthia watches as fae extends one shaking arm to point to a button beneath faer prison and whispers in her mind, “freE uS.”

“On it,” Cynthia promises. The three are spread throughout the room, with Mespirit to the southwest, Azelf to the southeast, and Uxie at the far, northern side. She makes for the button, Helios trailing behind her with his ears pressed flat against his head, and slams it with as much force as she can muster. There’s an audible pop, and—something in the air changes.

Cynthia couldn’t say what. But whatever it is, it clearly is enough for the triplet guardians of Sinnoh’s lakes. First Azelf teleports out of faer containment. Then Mespirit. And then Uxie. Azelf and Mespirit exchange a look and independently hurl themselves bodily out the window.

Uxie lingers, for a moment. Fae says, “wE wilL noT forgeT thiS.”

And then, as footsteps approach, as Cynthia’s gaze slips away from the Being of Knowledge in favor of getting ready for another fight, Uxie dips faer head and follows the Beings of Emotion and Willpower in their flight.

“Nor will I,” Cynthia whispers.

 


 

PKMN Trainer "Diana"
Maelstrom - Corundum - Lunare - Milady - Celeste - Helios

PKMN Trainer Dawn
Twigsby - Tuxedo - Mesa - Glee - Blue

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