Several days have passed since Lyra began to train Hareta in the use of Aura. At least, it was assumed days were passing. The clouds covering the sky had darkened to a thick black and gray color, blocking out the sunlight completely. Because of this, police all over every region advised everyone to stay indoors unless going out on the streets was absolutely necessary and never to do so without a source of light. At the Sprout Tower, lanterns were placed around the garden so that everyone could see what they were doing. Thanks to Lyra's tutoring, Hareta was beginning to show real progress with using his Aura effectively.
On this day in Blackthorn City, the doors of the Pokémon Center slid open and several figures emerged from between them. They were Gold, Kotone, Empoleon, Luxray, Lucario, Grovyle, Minun, Bayleef, Pikachu, Geodude, Kirlia, Cubone, and Noctowl. Both Gold and Kotone turned around after stepping outside while the Pokémon stopped after putting a short distance between them and the two Trainers. Clair stood in the doorway with something in her hands. Everyone had bandages on and Gold had Hareta's backpack slung over his shoulder.
"Are you sure this is wise? You heard the warning that the police issued. It's not safe to be out right now and you're still recovering from that attack several days ago," Clair said.
"We know, and we appreciate everyone's concern for us. But we're concerned about Hareta, and his Pokémon are even more concerned than we are. And considering what had happened before the attack, he could be in great danger now. The longer we wait, the better the chance that we won't be able to find him in time," Gold replied.
Clair nodded, "I see. Then at least take these with you." She held out a pair of flashlights to them so that they would have an easier time navigating the mountain paths.
They both took one and Kotone said, "Thanks, Clair! And don't worry, we'll be fine. Just make sure that everyone in Blackthorn City stays safe until this blows over." Clair nodded and turned around, going back inside to check on her grandfather and everyone else staying at the Pokémon Center while Gold, Kotone, and the Pokémon made their way south.
Hareta stood in the center of the garden, his eyes closed. He brought his arms in front of his chest, one over the other as he focused in his head. After several moments of standing like this, he quickly brought his arms out to his sides as he raised his head skyward and let out a yell. As he did so, a blue flame began to form around him, spreading out until it had expanded to the length he could extend his arms. He lowered his head, his eyes opening to reveal that they were glowing a light blue color.
Lyra approached him from the side, Hareta turning to look at her as she applauded. She said, "Good work, Hareta. This state can often be tricky to attain, as it means connecting with the Aura within your body. As you continue to improve, you'll be able to unleash it while not needing to focus as much."
Hareta smiled, "Thanks, Aunt Lyra!"
Her tone then turned serious, "But be careful of how you use this ability. While you're drawing your Aura outside of your body, it not only can recover quicker, but you also use up more. If you use this ability recklessly, you'll end up tiring yourself out extremely quickly. Always bear that in mind before you unleash your Aura."
Hareta nodded, "Will do."
Lyra nodded back and said, "Very well then. Now that you have learned how to go into that state, let's work on offensive and defensive moves. Aura is a very versatile thing. By understanding its properties, one can use it to attack foes in more ways than just the well-known Aura Sphere. In addition, it can also be used to protect and even to heal. Anyone who has tapped into their Aura even once will be able to heal much faster than usual, and, through practice, can heal others, even from a distance. I'm going to teach you how to do all of this now, for I fear that we may be pressed for time. Now pay close attention. If you overuse your Aura and try to use it before it recovers, you'll grow even more fatigued than normal. So we need to work on establishing your limits as well."
From nearby, Jade, Ninetales (in her human illusion), and Sneasel watched the training. They wanted to stay nearby to help Lyra figure out ways to help Hareta when he struggled and to observe his growth in general. While doing so, Jade and Ninetales constantly kept watch for any of Faust's Darklings, agreeing with Lyra that they would be pressed for time, especially if his armies were to launch a full attack.
The Sinnoh region, the Pokémon League HQ
Cynthia stood in front of a table that was covered in various maps. Many of these were maps of the Johto and Kanto regions, as well as a few world maps, and they ranged between current day maps and maps found from long ago. As she looked the maps over, she murmured, "I'm sure I've pinpointed the exact location of the Sinjoh Ruins. The problem is going to be getting there, considering that area is barraged by cold weather and many mountains. I can't help but feel that it has a connection to what's going on now." Suddenly, there was a knock at the door, so Cynthia turned and said, "Come in."
The door opened and Bertha walked in. As soon as she saw Cynthia, she said, "Cynthia, you have to come see this. Something is happening." Cynthia followed her out of the room and to a room where Aaron, Flint, and Lucian had gathered. They were all gathered around a large monitor, observing something.
Aaron looked up when the two ladies entered the room and said, "Cynthia! Come take a look at this." Cynthia came over to the monitor, which was displaying a map of the Sinnoh region and noticed that there were clumps of dots at several points on the map.
She turned to Aaron and asked, "What is this showing?"
Aaron replied, "Remember that weird creature we saw the other day? We had it analyzed and, according to the readings, all those dots stand for similar creatures. I have a feeling something big is going to happen, Cynthia. What do you think?"
Cynthia looked back at the screen for a moment, her blonde hair hiding her face from side view, then turned back to her fellow elites and said, "I agree with you, Aaron. We'd better alert the police to increase the regional security precautions, and we should be ready to move out just in case. Lucian, can you contact Frontier Brains and the police?"
Lucian nodded, "Of course, Cynthia." With that, he left the room to go contact both with their findings.
Cynthia, meanwhile, turned back to the screen and thought, "What is happening now? First the sun gets blocked out, then it almost feels like there are small distortions occurring around us, and now this. Is this because of the gods, or is an even greater force behind it all? And more importantly, are we going to be able to handle whatever this crisis is?"
Later, a room in the underground control center
A man with spiky blue hair and cold, unfeeling eyes stared up at a monitor on the wall. He was wearing futuristic-style clothing and a vest that had a 'G' on one side. Suddenly, a woman with purple hair tied back in two places in the back walked up behind him and said, "Master Cyrus?"
Cyrus turned around and said, "Yes, Jupiter. What is it?"
Standing up straight, Jupiter replied, "It seems that the Pokémon League has increased the level of the police warning. According to the Elite Four, there are possible sightings of unusual creatures around the Sinnoh region. Because of this, they, along with the Frontier Brains, are on standby in case something happens. This may be attributed to what B-2 reported a few days ago."
Cyrus nodded, "I see. Thank you, Jupiter. Until further notice has been given, we will remain here and continue to scan these unusual occurrences." Jupiter bowed to Cyrus and turned around, leaving the room. After the doors closed, Cyrus turned back to the monitor and thought, "This couldn't be related to Dialga, Palkia, or that unusual Pokémon that Hareta and his father know about. But at the same time, this is something on a level close to theirs. I wonder if we can count on Hareta to come through again, even if the only thing he cares about is having fun..."
Hareta walked into the chamber he had been using for sleeping and sat down on the side of the bed. Lyra suggested that he stop for a little while to let his Aura recover naturally. He had overused it a bit during the training and Lyra, having determined his limits, decided that it would be best to rest. Sneasel came in shortly after he sat down, followed by Ninetales, and he smiled at both of them.
Hareta laid down to take a quick nap, Sneasel snuggling up next to him while Ninetales dismissed her disguise and laid down at the foot of the bed again. As she lightly shut her eyes, she thought, "Everything we've researched about the Dia family really is true... Although we didn't know about the prophecy. Perhaps we would have been better prepared if we had known."
In a temple area
Hareta opened his eyes, pushing himself off of the ground and looking around. He was standing on a cracked stone platform with two large statues nearby. Everything below the platform was pitch black, making it impossible to see what was below. "How did I get here...? I thought I was taking a nap!" Hareta muttered to himself.
Standing up, he took another look at the statues and noticed there was some kind of blue line reaching from one to the other, and the statue on his right was holding an orb of some sort in its hand. After examining it for a moment, Hareta held out a hand towards it and focused his Aura on the orb. He then began to move his hand in the direction of the other statue, the orb sliding along the line as it was pushed. Once it reached the other statue, the blue line disappeared and the statue turned to its left with the orb, the platform Hareta was standing on moving after it. Once it stopped moving, another line, which was more complex than the previous one, appeared between two other statues. "I think I get it now..." Hareta murmured, realizing that this must be some kind of a test.
After getting past that pair of statues and another set, the platform Hareta was on touched solid ground and he got off. Walking forward a bit, he found a bridge that looked like its pieces were scattered. Walking onto the first segment, he used his Aura to manipulate a nearby segment and position it so he could leap across to it. He continued doing this to move forward until suddenly, one of the segments he was on turned completely black and disappeared right out from under him! Hareta fell for several moments until he landed softly on a stone platform. Standing up, he looked around a moment before he sensed something behind him. Turning around, he gripped the hilt of the Tsumugari as he noticed black smoke a few feet behind him. As he looked at it, he heard the sound of a sword being unsheathed and raspy, metallic breathing.
A figure then moved within the smoke, coming towards him and revealing itself. The figure appeared quite intimidating: it was a little shorter than Mitsumi and was carrying a blood-red sword in its right hand that looked somewhat like a twisted version of Tsumugari. It wore a helmet that covered almost its entire head and light black armor that sent shivers down his spine. The pale arms of the figure were exposed to the air, revealing the runic symbols adorning them, its fingers had claw-like extensions at the ends, the front of the upper section of the armor looked like it had metallic ribs, and black cloths ran down between the legs, which were surrounded by lightweight armor and black boots. Although the figure was terrifying, Hareta drew Tsumugari, knowing that a fight was coming.
After a moment of walking towards him, the warrior ran towards Hareta with its blade at its side. Hareta responded in kind and they locked blades, pushing against each other. Although the warrior was taller than Hareta, it seemed as though they were about even in strength. After several moments of their blades scraping against each other, Hareta managed to push the warrior's away and attempted to slash him. The warrior dodged his slashes and put an arm against Hareta's face to keep him at a distance, only to get knocked back when Hareta hit it with a surge of Aura.
After the warrior stood up, it jumped on an angle in Hareta's direction, spinning as it did. Once it was close enough, it dropped suddenly, slamming its sword into the ground and creating a shockwave that threw Hareta near the edge of the platform. As he stood up, the warrior took on the appearance of Enta Dia, exactly as Hareta remembered seeing him except for the fact that he didn't look like a ghost anymore. Although it continued to attack him, Hareta couldn't bring himself to attack the warrior as it was, even though he knew it was an illusion. This eventually paid off, as the illusion soon gave away and the warrior returned to normal.
Taking this chance, Hareta focused his Aura into his legs and made a dash towards it, striking with Tsumugari as he got close. This knocked the warrior off its feet and sent it flailing off the edge of the platform. "Shoot! I didn't mean to do that!" Hareta exclaimed, running to the edge. He stopped partway and whirled around as he heard the warrior laugh at him, appearing from a cloud of blue mist above the center of the platform. "Oh, a practical joker, huh? Very funny," Hareta muttered. After it stopped laughing, the figure held out a hand towards Hareta and launched a beam of Aura at him, wanting to return the favor. Hareta retaliated with a beam of his own, just barely stopping the warrior's in time and dashing out of the way while they were stopped.
The warrior came at him with a combo of slashes, but failed to harm Hareta due to him deflecting the attacks with Tsumugari. Hareta then responded with his own series of strikes, though on his final strike, he transferred a bit of his Aura into Tsumugari and struck the ground in front of the warrior, the energy being released from the blade and sending the warrior towards the center of the platform. After it stood up, Hareta held Tsumugari over his right shoulder and charged towards the warrior while it held its blade back. The two blades connected, both fighters staring each other in the face for a moment before Hareta pushed the warrior's blade away and, before it could try anything else, brought Tsumugari up along the side of its mask, knocking it off as the warrior reeled back. The warrior was hunched over for a moment, holding its free hand over its face, before it straightened up a bit and looked directly at Hareta. As he saw its face, Hareta's expression was one of shock and horror. "It... It can't be. This guy... It's me?" Hareta thought.
Underneath its mask, the warrior's head was bald and its eyes were a pale orange, almost as if hinting that they were once a brown color. Its face also had several scars adorning it, especially the middle of it, but otherwise, the warrior looked like a paler, more teenage version of Hareta. While he was distracted by its true appearance, the warrior spun around with its sword in its right hand, then spun again while aiming for Hareta's legs. Hareta managed to recover from his shock in time to roll over the blade and looked back to see the warrior gathering energy around it. With an animalistic growl, it released the energy and destroyed the platform they were standing on, sending Hareta deeper into the darkness beneath them, screaming all the way.
Eventually, Hareta landed on another stone platform and he stood up after recovering from landing on his front. Looking to one side of the platform, he saw his dark doppelganger floating in the air and yelled, "Hey, who are you?! And why do you look like me?!"
His double flashed him a cruel smile as he said, "I look like you because I AM you! I am the evil part of you, all of your dark thoughts and everything you fear to be! You may be strong, but you'll never defeat me! As long as you exist, I exist!" As he was speaking, broken column pieces began to gravitate closer to him. Once he was finished, he moved an arm in Hareta's direction and one of the pieces suddenly flew towards him! Hareta ran away when he saw it coming, just barely avoiding it. The piece broke the part of the platform he had been standing on, leaving a hole in the middle.
Hareta's nightmare continued to throw the stone pieces at him, Hareta doing his best to avoid them, though he still got nicked by one or two pieces that knocked him to the ground. Once they were all used up, the evil Hareta suddenly appeared over him and began gathering Aura energy. Hareta attempted to retaliate with an Aura Sphere, but it was rendered useless when his evil side released the Aura it had gathered, breaking more of the platform and sending Hareta flying in the process. It then went back to hurling column pieces at him and the sequence repeated, both sides trading blows whenever they could, until the platform was broken completely by a burst of Aura from the evil Hareta.
They both fell until they landed on another platform, which, except for the cracks in its surface, seemed stable. Hareta led off by firing an Aura Sphere at his evil self, which sent him sprawling across the platform. It flipped up after stopping and, as Hareta approached it, channeled its Aura into the ground, right underneath the spot Hareta was about to step on. Once he did, the Aura suddenly forced him to stop moving, Hareta groaning as he was suddenly surrounded by small chunks of stone. He struggled to escape the hold, but he couldn't break free in time and got speared by the stones surrounding him, falling to the ground in the process. His dark double ran towards him, attempting to skewer him before he could get up, but Hareta rolled out of the way before the blade could touch him and retaliated with a Focus Blast, sending his double flying off the platform, thought it soon reappeared in the center.
After a bit more of trading blows, Hareta leapt into the air as he ran towards his double, dashing at it while in midair. As he came close, he slashed at it, only to for the strike to be blocked. He quickly did two more slashes; although they were both blocked, the second caused the doppelganger to lose its balance and fall off of the edge of the platform. Before it could fall all the way, it grabbed Hareta's left leg with its free left hand and yanked him off the platform! Hareta eventually landed on a stone segment hard on his back. Immediately after landing, he went over the side, though he managed to right himself and grab onto the side before he fell further. He looked up to see his double coming towards him, its blade at its side. At the last second, he pushed off the platform and flipped around in the air, now being right behind his double. He quickly turned around and swung Tsumugari at it, only for it to vanish again.
After glancing to both sides, Hareta looked up to see his worse half reappear back up on the platform. It then pulled three column segments towards it and threw them at Hareta. As they came closer, Hareta took Tsumugari in a reverse grip and leapt towards the segment closest to him. He then dashed up the side, leaping towards the next when he was at the top and repeated the process until he got to the top of the third segment. He then leapt straight up towards the platform and, as he neared it, made a slash that had some Aura energy behind it. Even without the energy, he cleanly struck the dark double along its chest. While it was stunned from the slash, Hareta focused more energy into Tsumugari until some of the Aura extended past the tip of the blade. He then made a sideways slash with that extension as the double turned around, the Aura causing internal trauma. Stunned even further, the doppelganger fell backwards, wailing a bit as it fell off the platform. It landed hard on the segment Hareta had landed on before, raising some dust as it landed. A blue glow erupted from its chest, and a flash of light covered Hareta's vision as he looked down at it...
Sprout Tower, bed chamber
"(...Hareta! Hareta, wake up!)" The boy began to stir as he heard the voice of Sneasel in his ear. He moved his arms and pushed himself up, opening his eyes and realizing that he was on the floor. As he pushed himself into a sitting position, Sneasel jumped into his chest, looking extremely relieved and on the verge of tears. He noticed that Ninetales was sitting nearby, her face also showing relief. Hareta held an arm on Sneasel's back as she cried, "(I was so worried, Hareta! I heard you fall off the bed and then you wouldn't wake up!)"
Hareta patted her on the back saying, "Hey, I'm sorry to worry you. I'm alright now. Just had a bit of an out-of-body experience, I guess."
"An out-of-body experience, you say?" Hareta glanced up to see Lyra and Jade at the end of the bed, looking down at him. Lyra asked, "What do you mean by that?" Hareta explained what he had seen, including everything about his dark self. After he finished, Lyra said, "Hold still a second..." She then placed a hand on his forehead and closed her eyes, examining him with her Aura. After several moments, she opened them and muttered, "That's incredible..."
Ninetales asked, "What is it? What did you see?"
Lyra explained, "It seems as though Hareta's own Aura abilities have suddenly increased in strength. I thought I sensed a change in him while I was coming here, but this is not what I expected."
Jade spoke, "I think I know what happened. The dark version of himself that he saw was made of everything he feared and his dark thoughts. By facing and conquering over his own darkness, Hareta was able to let go of any fear he had about his own abilities, and thus they have completely awakened within him."
Lyra looked back at Jade and said, "You may be right, Jade." She looked back at Hareta and asked, "How do you feel right now, Hareta?"
Hareta looked down as he said, "Um... I don't think I can feel if my Aura abilities have gotten stronger or not, but I do know I feel more confident about using them."
Lyra smiled, "Well then, we'd better make sure you know how to use them so you can put that confidence to good use." Hareta nodded and followed Lyra out of the bed chamber, carrying Sneasel and being followed by Jade and Ninetales, who put up her disguise again.
Meanwhile, in a dark forest
Faust stood amongst the trees that were growing so close together that they blocked out most of the sky. He growled to himself, "Grr... How could that brat have managed to overcome his fears so easily? Now that he has erased any doubt about himself, he'll be able to reach his full strength in no time." He then began to walk along the forest path as he said, "Well, it matters not. I've already found what I was looking for. And now that I know where he is, I'll be able to make sure he ends up buried alongside his equally treacherous ancestors..."