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Secrets

(completed 02/15/2011; collaboration; Pokémon)

The fic in this mission is "Secrets", by Ryusei Bloodmoon. This was a cowrite between JulyFlame and Makari. Makari owns Katrina and Samuel, and JulyFlame owns Library, Sally, Jason, Shauna, and of course July. No one, including the author, claims possession of the fic.

Thanks to Galle, Guvnor, Caddy-Shack, Atosen, and Artell for betareading.


Calpurnia Library watched the corridor outside of her response center with some interest. The horrifying bedsheet had been tied off to the side, which allowed her to watch July, Sally, Jason, and a multitude of other children dedicate themselves to the pursuit of carefully vandalizing the generic surface walls and floors with what was undoubtedly ill-gotten chalk.

Her partner was taking advantage of her temporary superiority in height to draw a red and blue checkered border up and down the corridor above the children's heads. Jason was drawing the Sunflower Official, which surprised utterly no one (though both July and Library were becoming tired of this still ongoing obsession), and Sally was drawing parrots right by the doors. A few of the little girls who were slightly younger than Jason were, with the help of a little boy, drawing an overly pink unicorn.

After the last tantrum a few days ago, no one was saying anything about the pink unicorn, because sometimes a pink unicorn is just a pink unicorn, and has absolutely nothing to do with a Mary Sue, especially when a four year old is shrieking until she is blue in the face.

Several minutes more of watching passed, and July entered the response center. "Hey, Cal, do you know if there're any more—"

[BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.]

Library sighed, and went over to mute the alert, accepting the mission.

"—cookies. Damnation."

"Yes, there are, but you should have them go back to the Nursery."

July poked her head out the entryway. "Sorry, kiddos, y'know what that sound means. Sally, Shauna, take 'em back to the Nursery, okay?"

The two young girls were officially junior agents after the previous Christmas when July, in an attempt to minimize the collateral damage her friend Cody from DoSAT would do, deputized the entire gaggle of children present at the time. It hadn't succeeded at all in her original goal, and had instead ended up with sending the Department of Personnel into a fervor of if recruiting agents that young was allowed, and resulted in the oldest two of the group remaining as junior agents, on highly probationary terms with strict terms in an attempt to let the two girls get themselves out of being agents by being unable to follow those terms.

Unfortunately, Shauna and Sally were competent.

The kids shuffled down the corridor, taking the chalk along. Library watched them go out of sight with a bit of relief. She turned to look at July. "What is the canon for this mission?"

"Pokémon." July was grinning. "I'll get the stuff."

Library gave her an odd look, and went over to the console to read over the available information herself.

July collected their equipment, the backpack, and walked towards Library. A knit hat that resembled a dead fish was snug on her head, its tail resting on the head of the sledgehammer resting on her shoulder.

Library could only shake her head at it. "Are you ready?"

"Yep! Let's go."

Library opened the portal.

July stepped through the portal, and emerged into the fic. This time, there was no stumbling.

"Was the hat really needed?" Library asked. She entered a step behind July, giving it an askance look.

"Yes. It is needed." July carefully adjusted her hat.

"And why is it needed, again?"

"Because the important trainers, the player characters, in the game canon have hats."

"So it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact you have been wanting to wear this hat on a mission."

"Definitely not."

"—honestly I don't see why you won't just tell me what your problem is, Samuel— ow." The stumbling had to go somewhere, and to Kat it went. She tripped over the edge of her own portal, nearly faceplanted into the earth, and bounced to her feet, not particularly inconvenienced until she spotted the other two.

Kat frowned. She glanced back, at her quietly seething partner, then over at July and Library, obviously bemused. "Hey, you're the people with that godawful bedsheet what pretends to be a door and I don't suppose you'd mind my asking what in Ra's name you're doing here?"

"A mission, I believe," Library replied. "Have the Flowers assigned us to the same one?"

"It's certainly looking like it." Kat made a displeased 'hmph'. "Ugh, I keep getting stuck having to be rational. This is the travesty with the glaring inaccuracies regarding legendaries and the chocolate-orbs style of writing, right? No wrong inputs anywhere?"

"Legendary Pokémon, florid prose, calling attacks? Sounds like the same one to me," July said. She looked over at Kat's partner. "Uh, hi!" After a moment, she added, "I'm July. You?"

"Samuel." His answer was terse, the acknowledging nod curt.

Kat rolled her eyes in his general direction. "I'm Kat, if you're interested. The fact that this 'fic apparently needs four semi-competent Agents does not fill me with confidence."

"It could just be a processing error," Library suggested. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Samuel. I am Calpurnia Library."

Beside her, July's expression looked moderately outraged before mellowing once more. "Any reason why your partner is a grumpy guts at the moment?"

"I can only guess, and he's not sharing." Kat shrugged, thinking it over. "My best guess is something about it hits close to home, but cursed if I know what."

"Native to the canon? Extreme Pokémon fan?" July suggested.

Library gave her partner a slight look.

"What? He looks like he's only..." July glanced back at Samuel. This didn't help her attempt to estimate his age. "...only, well, Pokémon has a wide demographic." As she said this, she managed to trip over the silver hair which slithered through the darkness, rustling through the bushes and trees. "Gah!"

"Sure does," Kat agreed. "You wouldn't believe the people I used to run into— er, that's beside the point. Pretty sure he's not full human if at all, though... well, I suppose we'll just have to find out at the worst possible moment."

Footsteps lightly tapped on the dry ground as the god's little feet pattered its way up the little hill to Sendoff Spring. Fog began to collect around Arceus as the god ran headlong into it.

Samuel didn't seem to mind the continued references to him in the third person. This was probably for the best. "It'll be fun," continued Kat, not at all convincing. "Like your hat."

"My hat is fun."

Library's expression suggested that she did not find Kat's speculation courteous. "Perhaps we should start on this assignment instead of standing around to talk?"

"Sure, sure, we'll hurry on to the gallows." Kat fished through the bulky bag slung over her shoulder for a few moments. "You guys have all your relevant tech, right? I suppose we should sort who'll keep charges, and— anyone else got a Pokédex? Could be handy."

"Nope, this is our first Pokémon fic. Never had the reason for one before. A CAD should be able to fill in for one, though, right?" July set her backpack down momentarily to pull out the Canon Analysis Device. Oddly, for a CAD, it looked to be in fairly good condition.

"Should do," Kat agreed reluctantly. "But the 'dex is native. Not to mention good for hours of entertainment later. Charges?"

"I'll be writing them down," Library told her. She was paying attention to the words with one eye. "July's handwriting is horrid."

Behind them, Arceus was described as moon-haired, and for a brief moment it took on a lunar quality.

"It isn't that terrible," July sounded indignant. "It's legible."

"Occasionally." Library was already beginning to take down charges.

"Right."

"Better than not at all." Thus freed of most of her usual obligations, Kat settled for flipping open her Pokédex and looking smug. "I think that's all that needs to be taken care of. I can probably trip Samuel if he makes a break for it. Shall we?"

"It would probably be an idea, considering the story has been going on while we talk."

Dark hands snatched Arceus, one hand covering his mouth while the other grabbed him around the stomach. The god was a second away from using 'Judgment' before a husky laughter rippled in his ear and the hands let him go.

"Pff. Details." Kat tipped her head to the side, carefully considering the scene laid before them. "Wait a mo', what's that? Looks kinda like a... dog? Where did dogs come into this?"

"The same sentence as named attacks?" July's response was remarkably unhelpful.

"Wha— oh, wow, that's special. Wordplay. Ha. And, by the way, d'you have something against named attacks? Only it's the second time you've mentioned them."

"Not really, it's just silly when the Pokémon are calling them and not the trainers. Last I remember, that's a Digimon thing, not Pokémon."

"I see where you're going with that."

"Where'm I going with it?"

"Well, first it'd be entirely the wrong continuum for that which I suppose we could charge for. Second, though, it brings up a new way of thinking about Pokémon-human relations, especially in battling, and regarding techniques—" Kat was unfortunately cut off here, as Samuel reached over to cover her mouth.

Arceus stumbled forward and tripped in the grass, turning around to face his assailant. Giratina crouched down in front of him with a little smirk. The Renegade rolled his eyes at Arceus' clumsiness and straddled him.

"They better not use that epithet the entire fic," the brunette Floater said sourly. "Especially if it stays capitalized."

Library, still keeping an eye on the Words, only shook her head slightly in moderately bemused amusement at her partner.

"I'm pretty sure Giratina is technically classed as the Renegade Pokémon," Kat offered helpfully, pulling Samuel's hand away. "Still, while one might refer to a Squirtle as 'the tiny turtle,' capitalizing that is just ridiculous. And all Renegade brings to mind is that time in—"

"Don't," Samuel advised. "You might be taken literally."

Kat opted not to finish her sentence.

"I'm glad you got here. I was afraid Heatran had held you back," Giratina lsaid quietly. The Pokemon touched Arceus on the cheek lovingly.

July frowned. "Wait. Aren't they both Pokémon? That makes no sense. And I thought this was Sinnoh? What would Heatran be doing up here? It's one of the Hoenn legendaries last I checked, so this is a bit out of its usual range, isn't it?"

"Heatran's Sinnoh," Samuel corrected, a bit brusquely.

He added nothing further. Kat took it upon herself to duck away from him and elaborate. "Though it would be superbly out of its territory to be sure. Heatran lives in volcanoes, or at least a volcano, and since we have Sendoff Spring here, it wouldn't be too far out of the way to assume that Heatran should be in the Survival Zone. Or thereabouts."

"Right. Got it mixed up with whatsitsface, Groudon. Never played third gen region and I'm still working my way through Diamond," July said, mournfully. "Every time I turn the DS on I end up having to babysit and the last time I tried to play while watching them Jason managed to sneak into a Board meeting. "

Library wrote down the fact of Heatran likely being out of its territory, with a small question mark at the end of the charge. "You have bad timing, July, and you really should know better than to not keep a close eye on him."

"I almost got caught by Cresselia coming out," Arceus grumped, pushing his glasses up.

"She'd probably be 'round Newmoon, rather than Sendoff, though 's debatable given she wanders..." Kat glanced at the human-shaped thing that purported to be Arceus, and did a classic double take. "Why in his own name does the local god-equivalent wear glasses?" she demanded of the world at large.

"Perhaps because glasses are stereotypically held as a sign of intelligence," Library suggested, "though sometimes July leaves that stereotype as being questionable."

"Hey! No fair."

"I wasn't the one who tried to use a mini-Balrog as a flamethrower," Library reminded.

"That was over two years ago!" July paused a moment. "Jeez. It's been that long?"

"Yes."

"Gyaaaargh," was July's reply, though the fact that she had just spotted the use of Renegade in regards to the fic's Giratina was possibly an alternate cause.

The dark gray-haired Renegade sat back, landing on his rear to let the Alpha sit up. Giratina held a slight smirk on his face, which prompted his lover to question it.

"Wow, you've been 'round a while— waitwaitwait, hold the phone." Kat stared at the pair of characters, then squinted briefly at the Words. Indignation ruled. "Oi, what are we even doing here?"

"Oh nothing...," Giratina said, smiling all the more. This caused the bespectacled Pokemon to frown slightly, along with the grass surrounding him.

"No idea," July said distantly. She was staring at the scene, looking more than slightly disturbed at the frowning grass.

"July, stop staring at the landscape, it won't help." Library added a charge for 'overly expressive and empathic landscape' before she turned her attention to Kat. "Perhaps it's because July's knowledge of the canon is slightly outdated?"

"Maybe?" Kat tore her focus away from the grass as well. "I still think it's weird. Unless this pair is replacements or something along those lines, in which case, joy and stabby death. If they aren't, though, sense there is none. Hey, ellipsis abuse."

"It would be much easier if you could come to the Hall...," Arceus said. Giratina didn't have to elude the several thousand bounty hunters coming for the legendary god.

"Wait, what?" July stared at her fingers as though she was running the numbers in her head. "Several thousand bounty hunters? How does that make sense? Why would there be so many bounty hunters going after a Pokémon? That many Pokémon trainers going after a legendary would make sense, but not bounty hunters. Charge!"

"Entirely ridiculous," Kat agreed, nodding sagely and squinting at the Words in morbid curiosity. "I'm getting the feeling that's this fic in a nutshell— oh she did not just."

He had hidden the fact that he could shift to a human shape--similar to Latias and Latios--for so long.

July started to bite at one of her already frayed nails. "Er. I know this. I think. Wasn't that only illusion stuff in canon? Not actually shapeshifting?"

"Yeah. And it was a unique mix of Latias' physical and psychic properties, if I recall correctly, but don't take my word for it." Kat prodded at the Pokédex until it displayed what data it had on Latias. "There we go. Yep, light-refracting down." She offered the 'dex to July for her to see. "So basically what we have is a baseless excuse for pretty-boy sex."

July nodded, and took the Pokédex in hand. "Which doesn't even make sense since technically Giratina and Arceus are sexless, in the games. Not sure about the anime canon. D'you know?"

Kat pondered this and, eventually, shrugged. "Dunno. Haven't watched the movies in ages and ages, and not even the recent ones."

"While people to tend to arbitrarily assign gender to them, and indeed various legends might identify as feminine or masculine, most are quite technically sexless," Samuel said, sounding vaguely as though he wished to throw up.

Library sniffed slightly, continuing to write down the charges. "I do wonder why they decided to make them so effeminate, in that case."

"....Let's go over that later, Library. Maybe Trojie can help me explain or something."

Trying to hide from the other legendaries that roamed around plus hiding from hunters meant that his treks east to Giratina were becoming more and more difficult. Everyone was scared of Giratina so no one readily sought him for a fight.

Samuel was pretty clearly considering homicide.

"We've got a complete lack of logic, don't we? But we already knew that." Kat gave up trying to make sense of anything and instead sidled in her partner's direction, idly fishing in the bag. "I don't suppose anyone has a leash? Or, failing that, some rope?"

"Would a sledgehammer work?"

"Depends. Is this for bribery or threatening?"

"Depends." July grinned widely.

Kat matched the grin. "I like you," she declared. "Hey, Samuel. Mind behaving until we have enough charges for a takedown? Please? We don't want to have to sledgehammer you."

The highly displeased Assassin nodded grudgingly, though Kat would have sworn he was growling under his breath. She wasn't going to think about that.

"Well, she might not want to but I— Ouch! Library, what was that for?"

"You know perfectly well."

"I was kidding. Mostly." July shrugged, and began to scan the Words."Eeeegh.... No no no no no please no more inappropriate plant bits...."

The fuchsia-eyed male watched Arceus pout, the smile not fading from his face.

"Fuchsia's a legit color in its own right," Kat put in, though she sounded dubious. "Though incorrect for this situation if I recall correctly."

"You do," Samuel allowed.

"Oh. Right." July had the temerity to not look embarrassed in the least. "That's good."

"Why is it incorrect, Kat?" Library paused her writing for a moment.

"Fuchsia is pink leaning to purple, yes? That shade is found nowhere on any sort of Giratina. Not even shiny. Hey, July, can I have the 'dex back?"

"Sure." She passed it back over. "Saaaay, since when do Pokémon get lip piercings or any sort of piercings and how would a Giratina have a lip piercing when, last I checked, they do not have lips?"

"Logic doesn't exist here, that's how." Kat snickered at the phrasing. "The Words do make it sound like his finger's possessed of a will of its own, though."

"It could be possessed," Library suggested.

"How would that work out?" July stared at her hands, and then her partner. "I'm pretty sure author wraiths are an all or nothing thing."

"It could be an especially unmotivated author wraith."

"Too much trouble to control the whole character, so it settles for controlling a limb or two here and there? Be kinda funny. Dunno if it's possible, but the thought's amusing." Kat fiddled with the Pokédex, mostly for lack of anything better to do. "Aw, c'mon, author, stop calling 'im that."

July rolled her eyes at the scene before them. "A 'black priest-like coat'? Really? Really? You're having them be all..." July was unable to decide on a word. "Gah. Just. No. Think we should charge for the piercing moonlight and the rainbow droplets?"

Arceus sighed and waved the mist away. "Well, I suppose. I fought a Feraligatr the other day. Some hotshot trainer barraged the gate and tried to catch me." He shook his head and pulled his long silver hair out of its ponytail, letting it flow all over his black priest-like coat. The moonlight pierced through the mist, making rainbow droplets flicker all over Arceus' body.

"Yes," Kat managed before breaking into giggles. "Clearly this is how the lip piercing happened. The moonlight did it."

"Did you get rid of it...?"

"It was afraid of me, but it didn't show its trainer. I spared its life."

"So merciful, Arceus. I'm glad you're a god and not me. I cannot imagine being aas you are."

"Yeaah, I have no idea what's going on here." July pulled her CAD out, and pointed it at Arceus and Giratina, just as Arceus crawled onto Giratina's lap, nestling into the Renegade's strong embrace.

[Arceus. Pokem— Huma— Poke—]

The CAD grew uncomfortably hot. "Yow!" July tossed it away, and began to blow on her burnt hand.

He could feel his lover's many legs and wings wrapping around him even though they were in their human forms. "I sometimes wish I was in your position, where no one really went after you."

Kat caught the CAD, juggling it from hand to hand rapidly in an effort not to burn herself. "If you're going to throw very hot technology could you not do it at me?" she requested in one breath, indignant. She turned away from the characters, hoping it would encourage the CAD to cool down. This brought Samuel into view; he still looked grumpy. Well, not much to be done about that, if he planned to continue being so close-mouthed.

She sighed, glanced down at the CAD, and froze. "...huh."

July huffed. "Well, sorry, I didn't mean to throw it at you. It still have the reading?"

"Not the one you're after." Kat tapped at it a few times to see if that would help. "You sure this thing works right?"

"Yup. We don't use it often, and Library checks it between uses since it seems to like her." July grumbled slightly at that.

"Well, it's telling me I work with a Giratina." Kat eyed Samuel with some trepidation. "Y'look awfully human to me, Samuel, but I'm pretty sure we've had this discussion before."

"One picks up many interesting things, travelling," was Samuel's version of an answer.

Blankly, Kat offered the CAD back in July's direction. "I don't even know what to say to that."

"Say to what?" July tapped the CAD gently and aimed it in Samuel's direction once more. "...Huh. Interesting. Maybe try with the Pokédex?" After a moment, she added, "D'you know you're reading as being a bit OOC?" This was presumably towards Samuel.

He shrugged. Kat aimed the 'dex in Samuel's general direction. It beeped mournfully. "Well, it's pretty sure he's a Pokémon, but I think the humanshape is confusing it. Poor thing." She flipped the 'dex closed and petted it a few times. "Samuel? Pretty please at least give us an outline of what's the what? Else I'll have to hound you and badger you and that just won't be pretty."

"Fine." Samuel thought for a moment, choosing his words carefully. "It is canonical that many legends are not quite unique. I am a Giratina. One who got lost, in the mess of spacetime, and wandered for many years. Here we are."

Library looked over at the others. She, unlike them, had been paying attention to the fic and was still taking down charges, as well as notes. "Perhaps we should continue focusing on the mission instead of each other?"

"Pff. Responsibility." But Kat turned her attention back to the action. "Let's watch the travesty unfold. What'd we miss? More glaring inaccuracies?"

"More affection, as well as something about Shaymin, whatever or whoever that is," Library said.

"Another legend," Kat filled in. "Seems like they're all getting involved, no matter how pointless, ridiculous, or implausible their presence would be."

A loud bird-like scream erupted overhead, causing the kiss between the two to break off abruptly. Arceus gasped and looked up.

"Moltres!" the god whispered in horror. If the phoenix saw the Alpha here, the legendaries would all rise up against Giratina and kill him.

"Uncanny timing, Kat," July said with a mix of sounding impressed and being sarcastic. "And apparently Moltres is a phoenix now. And the thing with killing Giratina? Sense, that doesn't meet it even halfway, man."

"Library, can you note something about not differentiating between a phoenix and, uh, any other firebird?" Kat asked hopefully, completely ignoring the sarcasm.

"Of course. I'll also add another tally for the unnecessary and inaccurate epithet."

Arceus turned to Giratina. "You have to go. Act like we were fighting."

"Wait, how does that make sense? Wouldn't... Oh forget it, charge it, Library."

"I'm not your servant," Library replied, airily.

"Right. Please add it to the charges?"

"That will do."

"Arceus, you'll get hurt. I won't--."

"Do it. JUDGMENT!" Light screeched up in thousands of tiny arches as the god's Pokemon form replaced the beautiful silver-haired man. The Alpha's face let two tears shed before it was closed off into black skin and a white and black helmet. Forgive me.

"We're having that body-parts-with-free-will thing again," Kat observed. "And light making noise. And... wow. Just wow." She glanced over at Library, curious. "How many charges do you have so far?"

"Twenty-two or so, at the moment."

"And it's still the first chapter. That's... that's just ducky."

"Yes, isn't it? On the bright side, we'll be able to read the charges later. July just memorizes them when she's supposed to note them down."

Kat looked faintly guilty at this. The upcoming spectacle, however, was enormously distracting.

Giratina roared over top of the god as darkness clashed with light. "SHADOW FORCE!" The gray, red, black, and yellow Pokemon reared as shadows encircled him, making the now red-eyed male disappear.

Library capped her pen, and took the remote activator out of July's backpack. "Perhaps we should go into the next chapter, before we have no choice?"

"We're gonna get the same place anyway, aren't we?" Kat studied the Words for a moment and made a face. "Agh, forget I said that. Sudden place changes are not fun. Please, be my guest."

Library nodded, but paused for a moment. "There isn't exactly any place for humans in the next chapter, are there?"

"Uh. No. In fact, humans will probably be very remarkable." Kat dug into the bag with her free hand. "Can you find your DORKS faster?"

Library looked over at July.

"Front pocket with the energy bars."

Arceus hung his head but turned away from his lover to face Moltres as the flaming bird descended.

Library pulled out the DORKS, managing to not take any of the energy bars out along with it. "Here we are. Would you like to do the honors?"

"Sure. I can probably figure out a setting for some sort of Pokémon. No guarantees on the sort, though." Kat eyed the device a little dubiously.

"Why no guarantees?"

"Because all same sort would probably look weird and I'm pretty sure I know where the random setting is."

"Only 'pretty sure'?" Library's voice was taking on a warning tone.

"Reasonably certain!" Kat defended.

"Okay," July looked at Library nervously, "Kat, maybe you should just do the thingy now?"

"Can do." Kat set about fiddling with it, eventually finalizing the settings with a flourish. "Even better, at least one of us should have opposable thumbs," she added helpfully, and activated the DORKS.

"...Huh." July looked over at the others. "I'm a Blaziken? That's interesting."

Library looked at her hands. "What am I supposed to be?" She sounded disconcerted.

"Looks like an Abra to me," Kat said cheerfully. "Which means we had best get this done before you feel the need to fall asleep."

"Katrina," Samuel interjected darkly, "was this wholly necessary?"

Kat turned, nearly tripped herself with her own feet, and giggled. "I swear to you I had it random. This has nothing to do with my fondness for Mudkips."

Samuel blew a bubble at her, distinctly irritated.

July stared at the Words. "Okay, let's just get going before the chapter shifts."

Library opened a portal into the next chapter, helpfully at ground level.

Ever eager, Kat lunged for it, and this time really did trip over her own paws, hitting the dirt a few inches from the portal. Samuel stalked past her, as well as a small cute Pokémon could, and made it through the portal with no problems whatsoever. Kat grumbled, and hauled herself upright. "I give up. What did I wind up with?"

"A Luxray," July said. "I've got one in my team for Diamond. You're kind of ruining the effect by tripping over yourself, though."

"Like I could intimidate anyone. Besides, look at you. You're still bipedal." But there was no rancor in Kat's tone, and she made it through the portal without tripping on anything else.

July and Library quickly followed.


There was a definite location difference, from the moonlit grassy hill to a less-determinate place where Arceus sat on his haunches with a light sigh. He stared up at the sky, watching the Clefairy and Clefable dance around in the light of the moon.

"Wait a minute," said Kat, following Arceus' line of sight to where Clefairy and Clefable were dancing mid-air. "That is so wrong."

However, even this rare sight did not lift his mood.

"How, precisely?" Library asked.

July eyed the dancing Pokémon. "Probably has to do with the whole court set up, I'm guessing."

"But they shouldn't be up," Kat complained, tail twitching mostly without her say-so. "If he's looking up, the Clefs shouldn't be there, they don't bloody well levitate."

"Of all the things, you pick this to grouse about." Samuel shook his head and scowled at his small blue feet.

"Oh, right, sure, that too, I guess," July muttered.

Library noted the charge down.

July snorted at the Gardevoir, which was talking to the fic's Arceus. "Man, this is so pretentious. What is the use of a court set up for a Pokémon?"

"None," Samuel muttered with some exasperation. "Human formality is not universal. It's a shame so few writers seem to know this."

"This is only a conceit of formality," Library noted. "The way Arceus is replying isn't consistent with what the author is trying to convey; he should be speaking more formally with the Gardevoir because as it is, this is far too familiar."

"So in short, we have inconsistency within rampant idiocy?" Kat sighed. "Peachy. Ducky. And other sarcastic adjectives. Also I really want to tack something about misogyny on that Gardevoir but I can't quite place it. July, you have any ideas?"

"Uh..." July studied the words for a moment. "The Gardevoir is being very maternal? Does that count? I'm not sure we can really pin anything for misogyny, really."

"Rampant stereotyping?" Kat suggested hopefully. "Characterizing based on appearances only? ...I'm grasping at straws here, aren't I."

"Just slightly." Library looked up from her noteook. "I don't believe it, in and of itself, is worth charging, for now."

"Oh, well."

"Oh, Giratina? I heard about that, my lord." Gardevoir frowned worriedly. "Forget me for speaking out of turn, but you should have asked Master Entei or Mistress Ho-oh to accompany you. Giratina is very strong, but I am glad that he did not hurt you, my lord." She touched Arceus' golden semicircles gently, bowing slightly.

Continuing her tradition of irrationality, Kat shuddered, looking as disgusted as a Luxray could. "Let me guess. That doesn't creep the rest of you out."

"Nope."

"No."

"Ooh, berries." July eyed the words with interest, when the Arceus requested a bowl of Oran berries.

"None for you," Kat said crossly.

"Aw. Hang on, wait, how— no— why would a bunch of Pokémon have dishes?"

"Because most of these authors are blithering idiots," grumbled the severely displeased Samuel.

Had Library been human shaped she likely would have been raising an eyebrow at Samuel. "Do we really need to resort to insulting the writer?"

"What else do you call someone who imposes human standards – moralities, conveniences, hierarchies, and the rest – on a society very obviously composed of non-humans?" Samuel wanted to know, perhaps a bit snippier than was warranted.

"Someone who isn't informed enough to be aware that there is more than just one standard for society and culture to exist by," Library replied, archly. "Badfic writers aren't the only ones who suffer from that problem, and I would hardly call Kipling a blithering idiot."

July cast a look between Library and Samuel as she began to follow the Arceus, doing her best to look completely and utterly nonexistent to the several Bagon, Mr. Mime, and Electivire that were in the Hall as workers, for whatever reason. "This is just peachy," she muttered quietly.

"He was hardly raised in the information age," Samuel pointed out. "The internet, and the resources it makes available, causes an incredible difference in the environments. The morals and views of then are not those of now. Ethnocentrism and the like are excusable when there exist few or no opportunities to learn otherwise, but not here, and not now."

"Isn't it just?" returned Kat, who was keeping the majority of her attention on not misplacing one of her feet. They had, after all, doubled in number. Soon enough, though, they followed their target into his large chambers of white, gold, and black, and Kat glanced up and snickered. "Hey July. You're being dismissed. Along with... oh yeesh... his contingent of Wigglytuff who attended to his every whim. Yikes."

"Egh. And oh, really? If the words insist...." July said, teasingly, and she moved to join the Pokémon who were leaving. "You won't mind being left with them arguing, then? Library doesn't bite. Usually."

"The ability to access those resources doesn't mean there is the same ability or inclination to properly process or consider it; a difference in morals or not, it won't necessarily result in people becoming suddenly open to different ideas which require more than a few minutes of consideration to properly understand. Ethnocentrism or not, the fact that the author is trying to apply a relatively romanticized courtly aspect of human culture to this story is better than if they used some form of the 'noble savage', misguided or not."

"...get back here," Kat nearly whimpered. "This can't end well. It really can't."

"Oh, fine," July turned back around to join Kat. "It's not like I was going to leave you with her alone for that long."

"Any long would have been too long," Kat protested, desperately pretending to have made sense.

Samuel made a squeaky noise that might have been a growl on any other creature. "A writer, more than most, has a duty to do his or her best, especially when it's fanfiction. If a writer will not go to the trouble to do proper research, if a given writer will not give to his or her work what so many others can, have, and will, then that writer has no business writing. I'll allow that this particular concept is somewhat better, relatively, than the 'noble savage'. It still has no business being applied to Pokémon."

"The fact that the writer decided to apply anything at all shows that they put at least some thought into it, proper research or no. Better an attempt which fails than nothing, which gains nothing in experience or understanding."

"Apparently this thought didn't involve the source media at all," Samuel said acerbically, but nodded to Library respectfully. "A good point. It assumes, though, that this writer will actually learn something from the experience."

"They decided they weren't very good at writing; according to the profile, they concluded their fiction was full of Mary Sues and was also an example of terrible writing," Library stated, serenely.

July squinted at Library suspiciously. "Why didn't you say that earlier?"

"No one ever asked."

"Augh," said Samuel, and subsided into incoherent, displeased muttering.

Brightly, Kat added, "It was enormously amusing."

"Yes, it was," July said, somewhat distantly. She was staring at the halo the Arceus had just set down so that he could curl up somewhat, in a distinctly covetous manner. "So you know, Library, halos aren't canonial for Arceus. Pretty sure."

"Oh, that is shiny," Kat said appreciatively, following July's gaze and looking speculative. "I might have to fight you for it. Though might I recommend any ganking be done when Arceus is not, in fact, present?"

"Wasn't planning on it yet. And if you take it while we're in the fic I'll just find you later and knock you out for it. What was your RC number again?"

Kat took a deep breath and paused halfway through, reconsidering her plan to give July exactly what she'd asked for. "It's an irrational number," she said finally. "And... I don't have a counter to your argument. Except my shoe. And maybe Samuel."

"Is he 'specially prone to hero stunts or rescues?"

"He's 'specially prone to stupid," Kat muttered.

"First, I didn't hear any better ideas from you, Katrina, and second, you can protect your own loot," Samuel put in.

"Okay, good to know." July almost sounded chipper.

"July, let's not injure our newly met coworkers, shall we?"

"But it's a halo! Shiny, and all that stuff."

"Very shiny." Kat considered. "I have no real sledgehammer defense," she said eventually, "but I could probably make it quite troublesome for you to recover it, for no purpose other than to be bothersome. Unless, of course, you wish to make it worth my while not to."

"Keep in mind she is easily amused."

"I won't bust both your kneecaps?"

"You have a unique relationship to the concept of bribery." Kat hmphed, thoroughly affronted.

July was probably grinning. "Is that a no, then?"

"A little more carrot rather than stick would be appreciated, but I and my limited weaponry are not going to stand in the way of a crazy Blaziken with a sledgehammer."

"Stick is quicker and I only have so many carrots."

"Darn you," Kat said, after a few more moments of careful consideration. "Darn you like an old sock. You win this round."

July only grinned widely.

"This passiveness is beginning to become annoying," Library said, as she scanned the Words. "It's creating needless secrets and drama."

"Sounds like high school. Guy's got nifty curtains, though."

"I wonder—"

"No, July, we are not stealing the curtains."

"But, the—"

"Ssh!"

There was, quite abruptly, an extra person in the room. The Words had, apparently, failed to note the manner of Giratina's appearance, and had instead simply produced him from out of thin air when the time was right.

"...Yeek."

"Ssh." Library wrote down yet another charge.

A sudden swish of the misty curtains surrounding Arceus' circular bed made the Alpha lift up his head suspiciously. A light-blue light covered the god, and a little laugh slipped through the night.
"So jumpy still...?"

"Dunno 'bout you, but I get twitchy about strange winds and voices in unoccupied rooms," Kat muttered. "'s not jumpy, is common sense. Uh, do we need to be not here?"

"They've been totally oblivious to us before, we just need to keep quiet," July whispered. "Be happy it's a big room thanks to being poorly described."

Kat nodded, and shut up.

Giratina's human head poked out in a rift where the curtains came together. Arceus' eyes widened and he leapt for his lover, turning into his human form by the time the two hit the floor.

Samuel made a quietly displeased "Kip." Kat inched toward him, waiting for an excuse to use her newly superior height and weight.

"If you have your best interests in heart, July, you will be explaining this canon to me later." The 'or else' was in Library's tone.

"Can't you just play the games?"

"And how long would that take?"

"My first Sapphire run took me less than thirty hours," Kat put in, mindful of her volume. "And they're good in little bite-sized portions, so..."

"I am not playing something that will take that long."

"What? That's short for a JRPG," Kat protested.

Library gave Kat a disapproving look in response.

Kat was not particularly put off. "Could be worse," she offered. "Could be Tales."

July snorted. "I don't think anyone at HQ would ever have enough time to play that."

"Less discussion, more paying attention to the words please, July."

"Don't apologize. I understand," Giratina replied, stroking that beautiful silver mane.

"We want to pay attention?" Kat grumbled, and stepped on Samuel, who was looking dangerously close to murderous.

"The more we pay attention, the more charges we will accumulate at a faster rate; therefore, if we pay attention, we will be able to leave sooner."

Kat didn't have a good answer for that. Huffing, she turned away and pointedly focused on the action.

"I might have to kidnap you for a while in the future, have some random plot so that the entire world can get riled up to rescue you. At least you'd be with me until they came."

The Alpha gasped. "You wouldn't!"

The purple-eyed dark one would've roared in laughter if he wasn't a sneak in the Hall. "You take things so serious, Arceus." He did manage a smirk, placing a long finger on the shorter Pokemon's lip.

The bespectacled one pouted again. "You treat everything like a joke. I should known that by now."

"How many times has the author used epithets, again?"

Library examined the charges for a moment. "Far too often."

"It's actually a good idea."

"Giratina!"

"Alright, alright, I won't do it." The Renegade waved his arms in submission, kissing Arceus to show his 'sincerity innocence and apologies'.

The god pouted more but not for long as Giratina sat up and embraced him. Arceus smiled and nuzzled the dark one, enjoying his gentle touches as the shadows began curling around the Alpha's inner thighs and up his slender stomach that was bare due to the god transforming into pajama pants with little crescent moons on them.

July snickered at the mention of the pajama pants. "Okay, that's just ridiculous."

"Seconded." Kat stared at the pajama pants, torn between fascination and horror, and very nearly didn't notice Samuel's attempted escape until it was too late. "Ah, no you don't—" She lunged, dragged the Mudkip back, and promptly sat on him. "Give me an excuse to figure out sparking. I dare you."

"Isn't that asking for trouble later when we're finished?" July grinned – or at least tried.

"Aww buggrit." Kat made a quietly unhappy sound. "One of these days I'll learn not to do that."

"Aaah...Giratina...not now, they'll hear us," Arceus whispered, swallowing a moan creeping in his throat from his lover groping him on the black- and white-tiled floor.

"Well then let's go on my plan of kidnapping you." A smirk pressed against the god's jawline followed by a lusty nibble on his ear that hid behind strands of long silvery-white hair.

"Giratina..."

The Renegade was chuckling softly again. "You're the one straddling me so what I am supposed to think."

"You're supposed to think th—" July was whapped lightly with the charge notebook.

"July. Don't give the fic ideas, please."

"This is starting to feel uncomfortably like voyeurism." Kat shifted her weight to better pin Samuel, who was proving difficult to keep a hold on.

"I bet Trojie feels like this all the time."

"Slasher?" Kat asked curiously. "Yikes, imagine having to deal with this every day."

"I dunno, it could be worth it," July said. She was watching the scene with slightly more than professional interest. "At least some of the time."

"Well... maybe. Pretty-boys yes, purple prose and the rest no."

There was a sigh and a quiet murmur that sounded oddly like the word 'pervert'.

"We cannot do that here." Arceus blushed and stared down.

Giratina lifted up his chin with a long-fingered hand, leaning in for a kiss. "Then where...?"
"Sendoff Spring...no...Moltres was still patroling for you. Lake Valor...ah...Azelf..." Arceus looked up at his beloved. "Reverse World."

The gray-haired one sobered. "Arceus, I am not taking you there."

The god pressed his hands against Giratina's firm chest. "Please...you need your link and the others would not come there immediately."

The Renegade frowned deeply, his hand withdrawing to touch Arceus'. "I am afraid that the world will taint you...or vice versa. Your purity will eliminate my home...and my presence."

"If Arceus's 'purity' could potentially do that, then why is—" Library looked over at Samuel for a moment and then back at the two humanshaped Pokémon "—this Giratina risking being nearby?"

"Death wish," grumbled Samuel, once Kat had shifted enough to allow him easier breathing. "Only reasonable answer."

Arceus suddenly looked afraid and he pulled his lover close, digging his nails into Giratina at the thought of losing him. "No!" he whispered, pulling on the shadowy one's clothing frantically, as if by saying that, his lover had doomed himself.

"My lord, is everything all right in there?" he heard Gallade's voice call out.

"Wouldn't it have made more sense if that bit had been switched around?"

"How d'you figure that?" asked Kat.

"Because there's absolutely no indication there was any reason for Arceus to act that way, otherwise."

"It'd make more sense for Giratina to be clinging?"

"No, if the two paragraphs were switched." Library sounded patient.

"Oh, hey! That actually would make a bit more sense. Though then there'd be a bit of dangling with the 'as if by saying that' and so on."

"Wouldn't be there then, probably." July attempted to steal the pen and charge notebook, but met with no success.

"You have a point. Do you know what I've just realized, it's you two who have the opposable thumbs. I find this interesting." Kat eyed her paws a little ruefully. "Right. Focus. Mission."

"Opposable thumbs means we're better," July said, not entirely teasingly.

"I question your logic. I can theoretically see through walls," Kat said.

"I have actual thumbs and not theoretical ones."

Something poked July's leg, hard. "Hey!'

"July, later." Library looked up at her partner, the pen brandished in hand. "And be quiet."

Arceus' bright eyes lifted up to Giratina's and the two plunged their lips together in a deep kiss, tongues gently touching each other. The Renegade's teasing yet dominating caress together with the Alpha's submissive and gentle one. Oh, it nearly made the god faint.

Kat thought better of saying something about claws not quite being thumbs, and instead watched the plunging lips with equal measures of interest and horror.

July stared. "Well, that's... uh, that's..."

"A charge?"

"Yeah, that. Also I don't think kisses are supposed to be like that."

"They aren't." Library wrote the charge down. "Good kisses aren't like that."

"That's a— hey, how do you know that about kissing?'

When the kiss broke, he was panting slightly. "Gallade will come in. Hurry to the Torn World." He retreated from his lover.

Giratina came closer on his hands and knees, their faces inches apart. "When will I see you again?"

"I'm sure I should be curious but I think curiosity may lead to pain here. And that should be the Distortion World, if memory serves. Do we charge for that, or let it slide? It could be just a figure of speech..." Kat trailed off, and shook herself. "I'm making excuses for it. Sorry."

"I say charge," Library said, after a moment. "It contributes to the urpleness of the prose."

Arceus looked anxious, his eyes flickering from his lover to the door and back again. He clasped Giratina's hands in his own, kissing them. "Soon, my love. Hurry."

"Well, you're the one with the list." Kat shifted her weight again, and this time the breath went out of Samuel in a gasp that sounded suspiciously as if he might have liked it to contain words. "Gah, how much longer is this thing?"

Library nodded, and added it as such.

"Nooooo idea." July scanned the Words. "This is chapter two, and there are.... awbugger, three more chapters left."

"Oh you've got to be kidding me." Kat did similarly, and moaned quietly.

While she was distracted with pitying herself, Samuel wriggled determinedly until he'd freed himself from captivity, and stalked toward Library with all the wounded dignity a foot-high, vivid blue amphibian could muster. "We need to be not here," he said succinctly.

Library nodded in agreement as she checked the words, and opened the portal quickly. Samuel hopped through almost as soon as it was formed, not particularly bothering about location.

July and Library followed soon after, Library barely missing tripping over July, who had tripped and was now on the ground.

"Oh," July said, between bouts of spitting out dirt, "this is nice."

Kat followed after shortly, once she'd noticed they were going places, just missing the incoming Gallade and Scizor. In her haste she barely saw July in time, and the resultant scramble to avoid stepping on anyone lead to Kat winding up a tangled heap of limbs and tail a few feet away. Samuel sauntered over and sat down atop her, adding insult to injury.

July managed to prop herself up, and laughed at the (other) clumsy agent. Library, for her part, was quivering with barely suppressed laughter.

"You try being suddenly quadripedal," Kat grumbled. She did not try to dislodge Samuel, though she undoubtedly could have. Neither did she make any move to right herself, apparently resigned to her fate for the moment. "Anyway, what now?"

Library reviewed the listed charges, and read the Words of the coming chapter. "We should probably see this chapter out; at the end of it we should have enough charges."

Kat stared into the distance, ostensibly trying to read the Words herself, but found it exceedingly hard to unfocus in her current position. "How much longer is it? And can we just note the charges from here, you think?"

"Not much longer. This chapter contains a brief run which Giratina interrupts and attacks, and the two end up in the Torn World."

"Er, do we actually want to follow them there?" Kat asked with a frown. She shifted a leg that had begun to cramp, but was otherwise content with her position. "I mean... hmm. Well, I don't think the place is inimical to human people, but it basically plays hacky-sack with the laws of physics..."

"The Distortion World is technically a parallel world tied to this one." For once Samuel was elaborating without being asked. "It was and is intended as a balance. While it is not any kind of habitable, nor obedient to the laws that govern this place, it will not harm you."

"That's good," July added. "We're doing that ourselves, so we don't need any extra help there. Right, Kat?"

Kat nodded agreement, scraping her head against the ground a bit in the process. "...ow. Yes. No help needed. Samuel, please get off?" Once he'd done as requested, Kat slowly began to detangle herself.

"Now all we have to do is wait for them to arrive," Library said.

July turned and looked downwards at Library in surprise. "What? Really?"

"Yes, the Arceus and his companions are going to stop here when the Giratina attacks."

"How do you know that?" July narrowed her eyes.

Library rolled her eyes in response. "I read ahead before I portalled us out, of course."

"Clever." Kat planted her front feet solidly and pulled herself all the way to standing. "Are we setting up an ambush, then?" She shook her limbs out a bit, then glanced over to Samuel. He was curled up close by, as displeased as ever with the situation. "You got thoughts?"

"Many, but I will wait for now." He nodded to Library.

"It shouldn't be too long now," Library said. Her eyes were unfocused on their environment, reading the Words instead, already writing more charges down. "Do you have any idea how a Pokémon would bathe naked when they already are? Or is it presuming that the clothes they appear to be wearing in human form are real? In which case, why in the world would Pokémon have clothes, much less the same pretensions or views on nudity that we have as humans? It doesn't make sense for bathing together to be particularly special or romantic for Pokémon if they have no clothing and sexual taboos that accompany such."

"Guess it's t'do with the whole human society model that's been pressed on or something," Kat mumbled, entirely uncertain. "Illogic. I don't think I wanted that mental image, either."

"Who are Liza and Tate, for that matter?"

"The twin Gym Leaders of Mossdeep City, in Hoenn," Kat said promptly.

"...Why would Arceus care about the two nearly finding them when they are able to take human form in this fic, or even bother to know their names, let alone who they are?"

"They're psychics. Maybe they'd be able to tell that they weren't looking at humans...?"

"That still goes back to her point about why Arceus would know who they are in the first place," July pointed out.

"Iunno." Kat fidgeted. "Maybe Gym Leaders are a big deal? ...I'm justifying again, sorry. I think that's just honest illogic. Charge?"

Library nodded, already writing it down, just as they heard a loud crack of treebranches.

Samuel leapt to his feet. The difference in height between sitting and standing was negligible as a Mudkip. Kat might have giggled, save for that she was busy trying to figure where the sound had come from. "We don't have a plan!" she yelped.

"We're going to need one!" July looked alarmed. "I don't know about you, but I don't want to fight two legendaries at once!"

Arceus tumbled to the ground but landed nimbly alongside Rapidash, who whickered and turned around.

"Who does?" Kat turned a circle on the spot, frantic but with no good place to direct her energies. "We could handle one, maybe, since they're so... off... but two?"

"Leave the Giratina to me," Samuel said.

July looked over, and down, at Samuel. "I'd feel better about that statement if you were more than a foot tall and at least had thumbs, considering that thing's gotta be like, fifteen feet tall!"

"We can remove disguises," he pointed out. "Not to mention, even locked into the form of a human, I know my own kind. Warped, distorted by the fic, yes, but still Giratina. I can use that."

July looked dubious at the suggestion that someone with a sword would be able to take on a fifteen foot tall powerful dragon thing, even with that sort of inside knowledge. "D'you have any idea why Assassins have suicidal tendencies, Library?"

"You fail to recognize me, old nemesis?" Giratina's shriek rang out through the trees.

"It might be overexposure to your presence."

"Hey!"

"Do you have a better plan? I don't have a better plan— waitwaitwait." Kat stared at thin air, nearly vibrating with the effort it took to stand still and skim Words. "Okay, okay, it's doable. Look! What if we stay out of the way of this fight? They'll both be weakened, and then maybe we can catch the Distortion World portal? Or..." She trailed off, still reading but apparently distracted by something else within the text.

"Or what?" July looked at the text. "It's not like we can do what the game protagonists do, and catch them with other ridiculously strong Pokémon or something."

"I dunno, Blaziken are pretty crazy most of the time." Kat shook her head, focused on reality again. "Yeah, that was me hoping you had an idea. We're going to have to decide soon if not now."

"No, my lord. I'm not leaving you to...to this...this monster!" Rapidash spat at Giratina, who laughed huskily. She narrowed her eyes and did away with her fear, charging at the Renegade.

"Rapidash, no!" Arceus barked, stepping forward.

He couldn't stop his lover from rearing back his head and using Draco Meteor. Blue, black, and red comets collided with Rapidash, sending the fire horse toppling into the ocean water. Giratina turned slowly to Arceus and smiling as the golden mask that framed his face now overtook it,
letting only his eyes show through.

Library looked towards the fallen Rapidash. "This is reminding me oddly of Romeo and Juliet, but with even less logic and sense to it. And look, there's the tear, now..."

A ripping noise was heard behind the god, and Arceus looked back, seeing a large rend in the dimension form. He turned his head back to Giratina, eyes widening as the Renegade in his Origin Forme surged toward him.

"Shouldn't have that form in this world," noted Samuel, and started slowly toward it.

Kat looked to Library. "I guess we're going then?"

Library nodded. "Unless you've come up with a plan in the last few seconds."

"Nope!" And with that, Kat headed after Samuel, counting on the fact that the characters were absorbed in the fight to keep them unnoticed. "Ought to be fun."

"It sounds like Cordelia's definition of fun, if any," Library said, lightly, under her breath, referring to July's friend Cody in DoSAT; Cody considered thermite something to play with. She and July followed.

Once through the dark tear in reality, they were away from the characters and had a few precious moments to breathe. The Distortion World seemed barren, and breath-mistingly cold. The platform on which they had landed was, like all the rest that could be seen, flat, rusty red dirt, floating in a dark blue void which looked to go on forever. At least gravity where the Agents had landed seemed to be functioning more or less as expected; nearby platforms were vertical, or upside down, or in one case at an angle above. A pool on one of these 'fell' toward another, creating a beautiful if unnerving arc of water overhead.

"Oh, this is so much prettier than I thought..." Kat moved toward the edge of the platform, placing each paw carefully, and peered over. She jerked back seconds later, falling back on her haunches. "And that is downright terrifying."

"Eck." July moved over to the center of the platform, far away from the sides.

Samuel didn't seem to mind so much. The fin on his head was twitching a little, but overall he didn't seem nearly as agitated as he had all through the fic. "Are you three sure you can handle the Arceus imposter?"

"No," said Kat, brightly cheerful. She paused to stare at the Words again. "I had half a thought when I was looking earlier... If I can... Who has the RA? And do we want to be human?"

Library pulled the RA out and offered it over to Kat.

"I vote human. Human is good. I like being human," July mentioned.

Kat prodded at the RA a few times, and discovered that paws were far less optimal than fingers for operating twitchy technology. "...er. Maybe the DORKS first."

Library pulled the DORKS – it currently pretending to be a Net Ball – out of the bag and held it out.

A Look from Kat, who brandished a paw to make the lack of thumbs more obvious.

"Oh! Right, I'm sorry, Kat." Library said, sincerely. She quickly and deftly manipulated the DORKS, returning them all to their original forms.

"Much appreciated!" Kat stretched up and out, luxuriating briefly in arms and fingers. She quickly started programming the RA Library had passed over, though, aware that they were rapidly running out of time. "Can you two handle the charge list and the Arceus while I do this thing?"

Library looked over to July, who was still staying well away from the long drop. "If July manages to not be crippled by her fear of heights, we should be able to manage long enough. And what 'thing' is it that you're planning, anyways?"

"There's a Rayquaza, in chapter 5, who seems like he's actually sensible," Kat explained. "If I can get his cooperation and get back here fast enough without breaking anything, it might just save our behinds. Samuel, what do you— uh."

Samuel had returned to human with the rest of them, but something was subtly wrong. Kat couldn't quite place it until, with a slight pop, something at his wrist sparked brightly and fell to the ground.

He glanced down at the thing, then over at Kat, with something that might have been worry. She simply stared. Samuel remained human-shaped for perhaps a second more, before his form simply gave way to something much larger and far less human.

Kat gulped. The 'dex, the CAD, and Samuel himself had all told her this, but she hadn't quite comprehended until now. "Oh boy. Giratina."

July looked up at the towering Giratina that was now taking up a majority of the platform, and stared for a minute or so. "Well. I'm sure this is going to gain us at least a minute's worth of distraction. Can you talk like that?"

Samuel shook his armored head slowly, as if he'd had to think about the answer. After another moment, he curled his tail around a bit in an effort to make sure the humans still had room on the platform.

"Gold eyes," Kat noted. "None of this fuchsia nonsense. Anyway." She prodded at the RA until it produced the portal she wanted. "I'll be back soon's I may." With a wave, she bolted through, leaving July and Library alone with the Giratina.

July watched Kat leave. "There is something very, very, very, extremely unfair about this but I'm not quite sure what."

"It might be due to the fact that she left us here, woefully unprepared, to charge and then take down an overly powerful creature that could kill both of us quite easily while we have no way to do so back."

"Yeah, I'm pretty sure you're onto something, Library. Will you help me beat her up after all of this?"

"No, July, that's extreme, brutal, and inhumane. We can file a complaint instead."

"And you're calling me inhumane?"

Library seemed very unamused, but was prevented from saying anything as another rift opened and the fic's Giratina entered, dragging the Arceus with its tail hooked about the now-unconscious replacement Pokémon.

With single-minded fixation, Samuel watched the other Giratina until it had set the Arceus down and was no longer attached. As soon as it was clear, he took off in a rush, closing distance rapidly. He slammed into the replacement, sending both tumbling through the abyss in a mess of spikes, shadows, and space-time rifts.

July watched in awe, before she turned to look at where the Arceus was. "Okay, Kat has our remote activator, and we're sort of stuck here, while the Arceus is over there. I have no idea what to do." She threw her hands up in the air, and turned towards Library. "You have any, Cal?"

"Yes." Library grinned triumphantly, and reached into the backpack, to pull out another remote activator. "Always, always, carry a spare."

July grinned back, and Library opened a portal – another appearing right in front of the Arceus. "Let's go!" Library went through, and July followed.

They closed the portal, and July smacked the Arceus lightly with her sledgehammer against its side. "C'mon, pokestu! Wakey wakey!"

The two Giratinas tumbled by, keeping up no pretense of actually obeying the laws of physics. They were so thoroughly wrapped around each other that it was near impossible to tell which was which, but blood was definitely flying amid the scuffle.

"C'mon, lazy butt, wake up!" July set the sledgehammer down and punched the Arceus in the face.

Its eyes fluttered open after a moment of confusion, and Arceus brought its legs under it, looking around in some sort of extremely pathetic looking confusion.

The expression of pathetic confusion grew even stronger once it saw the two Giratina tumbling through the void. "Gi-Giratina? How are there two of them?"

July rubbed her temples. "Oh for the love of..."

The Arceus stood up completely, and once more the two young women were being towered over by a very powerful legendary Pokémon.

Library immediately began stepping backwards, carefully, until she had a healthy distance between herself, the Arceus, and the platform's edge.

July looked around hopefully for Kat, feeling painfully aware that she was very close to a creature that could very easily kill her and leave no sign of even a body. "Library, I think we should start with the charges now!"

Library cleared her throat, and looked at the charge list. "Arceus! We represent the Protectors of the Plot Continuum, known informally as the PPC, and we are charging you and Giratina – the one of this story – with the following charges: possessing physical human forms which in the anime canon is only a psychic representation created by a Latias, with it being indirectly implied in the canon that it is a rare ability that not all psychic Pokémon are able to utilize, being 'moon-haired', amongst other inappropriate metaphors, the repeated and continued use of epithets in an inappropriate fashion where they are sorefully overused, the repeated use of 'male' as a noun, the misplacement of the legendary Pokémon Heatran, the overly expressive and highly empathic nature of the landscape, abuse of ellipsis, the highly improbable and implausible high number of bounty hunters, numbered in the story to be thousands, incorrect coloration on a Giratina that is neither normal or of a 'shiny' nature, causing a Giratina to possess body piercings for body parts that it does not possess, the issue of Pokémon calling their own attacks before using them, multiple counts of purple prose, the inability to distinguish between a firebird and a phoenix, nonsensical fights, flying body parts, causing Clefairy and Clefable to levitate, the setting up of a courtly situation for a non-human society consisting entirely of wild Pokémon—"

The Arceus was beginning to look extremely woeful, and was no longer standing at its full height, sagging on its haunches, its neck lowering.

It was at this point that a portal opened near Library, and Kat skidded through, throwing up red dust. Behind her, at a safe distance and a more leisurely pace, followed a tall, shirtless man with distinctly inhuman eyes. "I have cavalry!" she announced between gasps for breath, and only then did she really pause to take in the situation. The man behind her had been doing so all along, and in fact seemed quite concerned at the current attitude of the Arceus.

Library turned and looked for a moment, before she curtly nodded and continued with the charges. "—the possession of dishes and a bed by this court, giving Arceus a halo—" July shifted subtly, holding the backpack between her ankles, on the ground. "—producing Giratina out of thin air, inexplicable pajama pants, the illogic in the form of a death wish, poor kissing in the form of plunging lips, and giving Pokémon human mores."

The Arceus, at this point, was clearly distressed.

"The Giratina is specifically charged with entirely senseless violence in a scenario designed to only evoke further angst and conflict between all parties when other nonviolent and logical options existed that would have been far more prudent and result in less angst and far less of a resemblance to the feud of the Montagues and Capulets in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Arceus and Giratina are additionally accused of being replacements of actual Arceus and Giratina."

"Which, the usual consequences..." Kat fidgeted, trying not to look at the very unhappy Arceus.

The man behind her folded his arms, watching and listening, but apparently he didn't feel the need to make input yet. Kat devolved into incoherency.

July gripped her sledgehammer uneasily.

Almost as if to punctuate the ominous silence, the struggling pair of Giratina slammed heavily into one of the vertical platforms, nearly shattering it. Some of the rubble wound up floating, but neither paid the scattered rocks much heed, even when they impacted. One of them had its spiked tail wrapped around the other's, and squeezing tight. An unearthly roar rang out, clearly pained.

Library looked towards the fighting Giratina – a strangeness and rarity that she realised was only possible due to the PPC – and back at the piteous looking Arceus that was barely standing before her and her partner. It looked utterly wretched and unsure as what to do, between the charges and the Giratina it was in love with fighting another Giratina.

After a moment of thought, Library spoke, quietly. "If you had to choose between your lover, and the Pokémon who served you and were under your protection, or were supposed to be, at least, which would it be, Arceus? He attacked them for no real reason, while they didn't understand what was going on because they were not informed and were doing their best to serve and protect you from someone they thought was your dire enemy."

The Arceus quivered for a moment, and stared at the fighting Giratina. A few minutes passed, and at last it said, extremely sorrowfully, "I love Giratina. However, my duty is to them, but I have allowed poor Rapidash and Suicune to be injured and hurt by my inaction. I have all but betrayed their loyalty. I don't deserve their respect, much less the right to live."

"But— how can you— that's too—" Kat was making a face at the Arceus that could best be described as woeful. Regrettably, she hadn't reacquired coherency.

The man she'd fetched finally abandoned his impassivity, brushing past her to stand before the Arceus. "Yes," he said bluntly. "You've messed up. Doesn't give you the excuse to wallow in self-pity, though."

The Arceus managed what was almost a baleful look in the man's direction before it replied. "I did so much wrong, though..."

Library sighed. "If you like, you are welcome to join us."

"Join you in doing what?"

"Helping canon. There are a great deal of authors out there who write works based in worlds they enjoy, but not well. They might change the base nature of some characters to act out desires that run entirely contrary to the world, or add people and things that destroy its integrity and the internal logic on which it runs. Sometimes they improve, and the effect on the canon lessens. Sometimes they do not. We're there to ensure that worlds go the way they are supposed to, with their integrity and spirit maintained, even if things aren't completely perfect. Nothing can be perfect, after all, but intent does matter a great deal."

"And if I do not?" The Arceus' voice held only the slightest quaver, but the Pokémon did not sound unsure.

"I'm afraid we might have to kill you, in that case, to preserve the canon. Regardless, you can't stay."

"I think I'd like to join you," the Arceus said, after awhile. "Especially if it means I would be able to help others, like I should have been doing in the first place, instead of ignoring those around me and being selfish."

The grip on July's sledgehammer loosened.

The man-shaped Rayquaza nodded approvingly.

"Awesome!" Kat bounced a bit on the spot, and grinned widely. "Even better, this means we only have one more thing to worry about here." She looked up and over, to where the two Giratinas were still fighting. One was definitely getting the upper hand, but it was impossible to tell which one. "I wish I could help him, but... that might just make things worse."

July nodded.

Library looked at the Rayquaza and then at the Arceus, before she looked at July and Kat. "I think we still need to recover the original Arceus and Giratina for this canon, correct?"

"...oh, we do, don't we." Kat groaned quietly. "Right this instant? Where would they even be?"

"I don't think we should immediately." Library indicated the Arceus, and the fighting Giratina. "Adding one more Giratina to this mix would surely be dangerous, and I don't think letting the Arceus meet each other would be wise, for that matter."

"Oooh. Fair point." Kat passed over the RA she'd hung on to. "That's yours, by the way."

"Thank you, Kat."

"No prob."

The Giratina pair was tumbling down towards their platform now, both looking a bit the worse for wear. One of them apparently realized the danger to the people below, and, with a mighty effort, pulled both in a different direction. With that force, that Giratina pulled himself free. For a moment, the two floated, barely drifting, in the void – until the first one flickered, and vanished in a wisp of shadow.

Shadows moved around the second Giratina, who was clearly intending to mimic the trick, but the first was faster. It burst from the darkness behind the other, dealing a heavy blow, and vanished again, this time with its enemy.

It reappeared a few seconds later, alone, and circled down toward those who waited. Shadows and rents leapt and flickered about it, as if it was too exhausted to exert full and proper control over its natural abilities.

Kat peered at it, and, a moment later, clapped. "Samuel's back!"

"Oh dear," Library murmured. She looked at the Giratina with some concern. "Samuel? Are you alright?"

Samuel considered this question for several moments before finally giving up and shaking his head.

Library pursed her lips for a moment, and fetched the DORKS from July's bag. "Would you settle on this platform, please?"

He was very careful about doing so, and once he was certain of his position, he directed a curious glance at Library.

Library carefully manipulated the DORKS, and soon in place of the injured Giratina, there was a very bedraggled looking Mudkip.

"D'awww," said Kat, and just as quickly clapped her hands over her mouth, though not soon enough to avoid a slightly put-out look from Samuel.

"Must you?" he asked tiredly, and sat down hard.

Library went over, and very gently picked Samuel up, being careful to not press on any visible injuries. "I think that I should take those two to the Marquis to be processed in as agents, and help Samuel get to Medical. Would the two of you be able to find the originals? Kat? July?"

"It can't get much worse," July said. Her expression didn't really suggest optimism, however.

"We can probably muddle through," Kat allowed, and was distracted for a moment by a flicker of light off metal. Investigation revealed it to be a rather emphatically broken piece of metal, which had likely once been a bracelet. It tugged at familiarity for some reason. "Samuel, don't you..."

"Ah," he said, remembering. "DoSAT may be better than Medical for first stop."

"Ah? Is there any reason why?" Library sounded dubious.

"I doubt I can force myself human right now," Samuel admitted. "And, while I'm exhausted now, my control is... poor. It would be better if it was locked down before I recuperated fully. That bracelet won't function now, so..."

Library nodded in understanding. "Then we shouldn't let that wait." She looked over to the Arceus, which seemed to be lost in thought. "We'll be going, now. I suggest that you become a human, since you're able. I doubt you would be able to fit through the portal I will be opening otherwise."

The Arceus blinked to attention, nodded, and was suddenly replaced by its overly pretty human form, his expression managing to be even more miserable looking than it was as a Pokémon.

Library carefully shuffled remote activator and temporary Mudkip around, and opened a portal into her and July's response center. "Recruits first," she said, with a soft smile.

The Rayquaza gave a quick shrug, and, with one last glance at the Arceus, boldly walked through. Kat waved.

Arceus followed.

Library turned to look at July and Kat before she went through. "Good luck."

"I hope we don't need it," July replied, automatically.

"But if you do..."

July grinned. "Then I know who to thank."

Library smiled back, stepped through the portal, and it closed behind her, leaving Kat and July alone in the Distortion World.

"So!" Kat said, brightly. "Where do you think our lovelies might be hiding? Plothole, probably?"

"No idea!" July drummed her fingers against her cheek. "Maybe try Sendoff Spring?" That kept getting mentioned more than it had a right to be."

"Y'might have a point. Shall we try it, then?" Kat gave July an expectant look.

"Sure." July pulled out the second remote activator from the bag once more and opened a portal to Sendoff Spring.

The portal lead out to the shore of the pristine lake. "Where, in this, would they be?" Kat asked aloud, more of the world at large than of July. "Unless underwater's a viable location, I'm not seeing any good possibilities..."

"For some reason I'm going to guess the giant weird looking abnormality that looks to be over there." July helpfully pointed out the direction.

There was a strange spot under the water that looked very much like a large air bubble, with shadowed distortions within it that were barely visible.

"How are we even supposed to get to them?" Kat demanded. She peered at the thing, equal measure incredulous and dismayed. "I dunno about you but I don't have a habit of packing gillyweed."

"Uuuuh, portal maybe?"

"Sure, go for the logical solution." Kat still looked dubious, but followed July's lead readily enough.

July used the remote activator, and attempted to make a portal into the underwater plothole. Once the portal appeared, two things immediately happened; one being a wave of water pouring out of the portal, and the other that the air bubble in the lake immediately disappeared.

A few seconds later, two very wet and dripping legendaries shot out of the lake, and left as soon as they possibly could, going in opposite directions. The Arceus looked especially displeased as it swam to the shore.

The Giratina, on the other hand, quickly disappeared into a rift, sending an angry splash of water up as it did.

"That was actually far simpler than I thought it would be," Kat remarked, "but I don't think I'm going to complain about it. Ugh. Y'wanna take us home?"

"Sure, but there's something I want to do very quick. Gimme a sec?"

"By all means. Am I coming with you to do this something?"

"Nah, it's a very quick thing." With that, July opened a new portal, and quickly ducked in, returning only a few seconds later, looking more smug than she probably should be allowed.

"Do I actually want to know what you just did?" Kat gave July a once-over and shrugged. "Well, time to go, I guess."

"Maaaaybe." July opened a portal to her response center, and motioned for Kat to go through first.

Kat scooted through, taking some time to admire the decor and forcibly ignore the lack of door. "Thanks for the ride. 's been fun. We should do it again sometime."

"Hopefully with less surprise at the beginning," July nodded. She reached over towards the small kitchenette area the RC had, and pulled out a small yellow plastic container, and offered it to Kat. "Also less injuries." She set her backpack down, and pulled out the halo. "Though I gotta say, it was probably worth it for this. So shiny."

There was a moment of eyeing the halo enviously before Kat shook herself and took the container. "Do I want to know what this is, either?"

"Sugar cookies."

"Thanks," she said, bemused. "I'll remember to share. See you around, then." Kat turned, and attempted to exit the RC without actually looking at the sheet hung over the door. She was only marginally successful.

"Bye!"

Kat stumbled free of the sheet and made her unbalanced way into the depths of HQ. She toyed with the idea of trying to locate Samuel in DoSAT or possibly Medical, but she realized she'd probably end up at the one he wasn't in, and the simpler solution was to locate their RC and wait.

That was, as usual, easier said than done, but Kat's preoccupation and an unfortunate encounter with her least favorite mini meant that it was sooner rather than later that she toppled over next to the ever-present ypur in her RC. He lowed, and lipped her ponytail, more in greeting than in actual curiosity. "Stop that," she muttered, without any real force.

"If you didn't sleep on the floor..."

"'m not sleeping," Kat protested, before properly processing that it was Samuel who had spoken. She bolted to her feet. "You're back!"

There seemed to be an extra person with him, though. Kat had to pause to scrutinize this extra person before she actually recognized him. "Oh!" she said finally. "What are you doing here?"

"I've been assigned to you two temporarily for training." He looked nervous, and a bit out of his depth, but that was probably to be expected. At least he'd cut the hair. Floor-length silver hair was rather impractical; now their recruit had a neat, short braid.

"Do you have a proper name now?" Kat asked hopefully.

"Yes. Miss Library mentioned it – 'Asher.' I didn't know what it meant, but I liked it." The newly-renamed Arceus in human form gave something like a nervous smile.

"It suits you," pronounced Kat. "Anyway, settle in." She dragged a folding chair in from the other room, and set it out in a clear space. "We probably won't be too exciting right off, but things'll speed up eventually."

Once Asher had sat, delicately and still rather uncomfortably, Kat turned her attention to Samuel, who had been leaning against the door watching with no small amount of amusement.

He crossed the small room and settled into the proper chair at the console, offering her a small wave in greeting. He was back to human, she noted, and though he still looked quite tired, he was uninjured. He sported a new bracelet, too, thicker than the last and clearly meant to endure more. "I'm glad you're okay?" she tried.

"Similarly." Samuel took a moment to look her over, though why she couldn't fathom – perhaps he was expecting her to spontaneously combust the moment she was out of his sight. Regardless, the moment passed, and Kat flopped down on the floor again, rather farther from the ypur than previous.

For once, she didn't feel the need to do anything save appreciate the silence and the peace.

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