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Vix went quiet for a moment, and her flame started to dim. Just a random... stray thought came to mind. Curiosity took hold of her and tossed her other thoughts aside. With how quickly that happened inside her head, someone would assume she had issues of some kind.
"Giovanni... I feel like others already came to ask you this, but... Why do you do the things you do?" she asked. "I've been training to be a hero for... years, and one of the many things I couldn't wrap my head around was why people like you show up and do the things they do. Attack others, take and steal, plot and scheme..."
Someone could say Vix had done some of those same things herself, for her own reasons. Nothing to the scale of Giovanni, hopefully, but still...
And finally, to this, the Mewtwo closed his book and floated it behind him.
"Power," he said, "is everything. For all of the meaningless platitudes you all share... for all of the hopes and dreams you hold... all of the ideals and beliefs you uphold. None of that matters against raw, practical power. You cannot do anything without power. Strength. In numbers, in mind, or in ability."
He studied Vix, piercing eyes watching her expression.
"I chose to rely on myself for my power, and to not have to rely on the whims of others to get what I want. I used to rely on a team, but they all fell away with time. Defeated by lesser Pokemon and humans, because they themselves... were not strong enough. They were worthless. All I care about are strong Pokemon that can win every time." Giovanni looked down, brow furrowed. "When I leave this world, I'm going to find out why I couldn't win against you. I know your ilk are strong. My aim is to become something greater."
Power... At the mention of power, Vix seemed to grow distant. Giovanni had a simple motive; the Pursuit of Power. Something... Vix recognized. Something she dealt with herself, although that was far behind her. A memory clawed from the back of her mind, sending a chill through her body...
This goddamn tower... what a fuckin' eyesore. Ain't a place in this city you can't see it. But... bein' able to see everything at once ain't all that bad. I went up here alone, scheduled a meetin' and everythin', played it by their own rules. Even got here early just to make sure I didn't miss this chance, and I didn't put up a fuss when everysingle piece of shit bumped into me on the way here.
So why the fuck did I have to wait almost a whole ass hour for this?!
The first people to show up was her bodyguards, an Aggron and a Metagross. Both of them looked ready to kill me right then and there, and I honestly... I don't think I could beat them. Even then, I glared right back at them, I wasn't gonna let these two iron heads get to me so easily.
"Greetings, visitor. Welcome to the Azure Guild, how may I..." Her voice came from behind her two goons, who stepped aside to let her pass. A Scrafty, lookin' way younger than I knew she was. Guess bein' the head asshole kept you young. The moment she saw me, her prim facade went away. "Oh... it's you." She snapped, and her bodyguards left us be.
I waited for those assholes to leave before sayin' anything. "You don't look have bad for a piece of shit."
"And a good afternoon to you as well." She walked right past me, takin' a seat at her excessively long desk. "Considering you and your team's track record, I am surprised you decided to walk right into my guild for a civil conversation. Well, as civil as you can be. But, credit where credit is due, you're holding your composure far better than your father would have."
Every part of me wanted to knock her lights out, send her flyin' out that goddamn window and see how much of the street would turn red. She could tell, too, from that shit eatin' grin she picked up. "I didn't come here to listen to your bullshit again, I came... to ask you something."
That seemed to get her. That grin of hers fell for a second, and from the look of it, she was confused. "...I stand corrected, there's hardly any of your father in you anymore. I would be proud if it wasn't a decade too late."
"Mot-- Edrea, cut the shit, and hear me out. I paid for this appointment, I respected your rules, and I left your assholes alive. The least you could fuckin' do is follow your own goddamn rules for once," I growled. Her grin returned, but she didn't say anythin'. Good. I took a deep breath and relaxed as much as I could. Not a lot, but it was somethin'. "...Thank you. I wanted to ask how the hell you think you're gonna keep gettin' away with runnin' your little 'business' on the side to bein' a guildmaster."
"...Really? You came all the way here just for that?" She laughed, not even tryin' to contain any of it. "You do realize that you won't be getting another chance to approach me here safely, right? I simply cannot allow a criminal free reign in my Spire twice, and you're going to waste this chance to ask me something as menial as that?"
"I'm only askin' because the next time I come here, I'm tearin' this shithole apart. Figured I might as well get your story straight before I put an end to it," I huffed. Now that got under her skin, ha!
"You're just as suicidal as your father, then. But, I'll spare your time and give you the answer you want." Edrea stood from her desk and cleared her throat, opening up a drawer and takin' a little coin out. "Tell me, dear, what do think of my work? Of the empire I helped build, of the Guild I rose from the ashes of failure?"
"That you an' everythin' you've done is absolutely unfor-fuckin'-givable." I didn't even bat an eye, I dunno what she was expectin', honestly.
"From my eyes, your team defiling a sacred temple, ignoring my city's laws for your own benefit, and threatening to end my life are scene the same way." She didn't bat an eye neither, hell, even her grin went away. Edrea bein' this calm never sat well with me... "Now, between the two of us, who do you think will be seen as 'Just' in the eyes of the world?"
"...What's your point?"
Uhg... that grin of hers came back. "That's right, me, my dear. And do you know why?" I didn't even bother answerin', just to get this shit over with. "I take your silence as you not knowing. It's because I have power. Power over Azure City, power over its citizens, power over its guild, and power over its vile, criminal underbelly."
"Y-You ain't even gonna hide it, huh?" She can't be for real, lettin' somethin' like that out just like that? "You smug piece of shit..."
She smiled at me, like nothing was wrong. Like she wasn't an evil piece of shit... "I have a good reason, don't I? With a simple command, you and your friends could be wiped off the face of this beautiful planet, and I and the rest of the world would forget your petty existence within the hour. And yet, if you killed me, you would face that same fate regardless, but I've given Aggron and Metagross out there full permission to do with you as they please. And if I am remembering correctly, they both were convicted for some heinous crime. I believe... attempted massacre of several small villages?"
...H-Huh, well... That, uh... That might have shook me a bit. I barely even showed it, but she knew, instantly.
"What you see as unjust and immoral, you only see that way because you yourself are lacking in power. If you ever had the chance to be in my position, you would agree with me." She rolled that coin over her digits, I knew well enough it was one with her ugly mug plastered on both side. Disgustin'... "Even if you believe you wouldn't, you would. After all, you idolize your father, and he himself was a criminal. If he didn't have to die, he'd have stood by me as well."
"Like hell he would! I don't care what he was, he wouldn't stand for half the shit you've done!" I shouted. I didn't even realize my aura flared up until she flared her own up to match... No, to tower over mine. Just a blindin' wall of white...
"And with that, I will cut this meeting short. I have plans to attend to, people to meet, and roughly six bodies to get the proportions of for their coffins," Edrea snapped, and her henchmen came right on in. Aggron lifted me off the ground like I was nothin', and every time I struggled he squeezed me like a goddamn vice. "Oh, by the by dear, how tall are you now? It has been ages since I last checked it myself! Better yet, save me the trouble and give me you and your team's measurements whenever you feel you've had enough of life, ok?"
I shot the bitch a glare and snarled, and Aggron squeezed me even harder. Pretty sure I heard somethin' crack that time. "Fuck you."
Edrea gave me a stilted, robotic smile. Even threw in a bow for no goddamn reason. "We at the Azure Guild appreciate your time and patronage, and hope you have a lovely rest of your life! It can be just so short for some, can't it?"
Aggron squeezed me again, and this time I know something cracked. Before I even got to scream, Metagross hit me in the back of the head. It didn't take long for me to black out... and the last thing I saw was but bullshit smile and vast white light...
...I couldn't wait to break that shit to fuckin' pieces...
Vix shook her head, then realizing that her Shadow held onto her shoulder. She was only out a moment, but a noticeable one, unfortunately. "Thanks..." Her Shadow gave her a silent nod, and the two looked back up to Giovanni. "Sorry about that, just a dizzy spell."
"...I'll assume you already know not to bite more than you can chew, Giovanni. Try to get too strong and you'll end up just as dead as the people you killed to get there," Vix's Shadow warned. "You're already fuckin' borderin' the point of no return. The last thing I want is to give someone like you my sympathy."
"Oh, I know precisely where I am and what I intend to make of my power," Giovanni said, but then it seemed that he was losing interest again. The book floated in front of him. "Is that all you wanted to say?" And again, the pages turned...
Her Shadow spoke up again, irritated. "That's the kinda overconfidence that'll get a man killed."
"Frankly, I had more to say to you than I thought," Vix chuckled. "Even if you're... not the best guy around, morally, good luck finding whatever it is you're looking for. It might be more of the power you already have, whatever the hell our power is, or something neither of us expect."
"I myself... I dunno what I'm looking for. It could have changed, or it stayed the same and I'm just overthinking it. Guess I'm... a bit jealous you know what you want to the point that you're jumping between worlds to get it," she went on, her flame dimming for a split second. "It was... surprisingly nice talking to you. When you aren't trying to kill me, you're not all that bad." Vix gave Giovanni a nod and turned to leave. "See ya later, updog."
As she left, Giovanni huffed under his breath and looked at the next main dish. Some kind of steak and seafood. Overcomplicated. Plating looked a mess.
"There is something that I'm missing," Giovanni finally said, just as Vix was a little away from the room. He must have been pressing the button on his side of the cell with Psychic pulses. "While I was seizing power from the Tree of Life... there was an explosion. Ever since then, I feel as if part of me was missing. ...Perhaps something is sealed away. If you can find that missing piece, or find a way to unlock what is sealed..." He shrugged. "Perhaps I will be more cooperative in return. I do not leave debts unpaid."
Vix stopped a bit, then glanced back at Giovanni. Wow, some part of you being sealed away? Where had Vix heard that before?
"That sucks..." she said, sympathetic. "I'll look into it as best I can, then... I'll just have to figure out where to start."
"...You're really just gonna help the guy? Ain't even gonna think it over?" her Shadow grumbled, glaring at her. "I swear to fuckin' god if you--"
A dead stare from Vix shut her Shadow up real quick. Like looking at an angry corpse... "A favor's a favor, and whatever this thing he's missing is might be, you know, actually important to find? And it couldn't hurt to help him a little bit."
"Yeah, it could, actually..."
Ignoring that, Vix asked Giovanni, "You got any ideas where I this piece of yours might be?"
"...No, I don't," Giovanni said, and finally he looked a little irritated, perhaps at himself. "Only that I feel something is missing. Incomplete. In... an abstract way." Giovanni held up his hand. "I feel that I am at my best. I am at my greatest power yet. And still, something... is missing." He shook his head. "That is all."
And with that, he returned to reading. It seemed that was all the information Giovanni was willing to give, and perhaps, for what was missing, all he knew.
"Yeah... you and I both," Vix muttered, then shook her head and nodded. "Alright, if all things go smoothly, I'll have this piece of you back before too long."
Helping Giovanni, of all Pokemon, become "Complete" again was probably gonna be seen as a bad thing to everyone else, or mostly everyone. Vix would have to think of some way to spill it to everyone, if she tells them at all. "Man... that's two secrets I gotta keep already... I kinda don't wanna make a habit of it, but it's also kinda fun."
"You're fuckin' gonna get us killed, again, and it ain't even gonna be from a villain," her Shadow growled, then sighed. "Can we at least look into it tomorrow? You're tirin' me the fuck out..."
"We'll have to be up bright and early for more guild work, so yeah, that's a good idea," Vix chuckled. "We're gonna have to put in even more effort to keep up our deal with Giovanni too, so it looks like we're gonna have a long few days ahead of us!"
As promised, Diyem was waiting for Nate and Starr at the entrance to the holding cells. Despite everything, nothing seemed to have changed in the area.
Diyem looked irritable, arms crossed and tail flicking. "Make this quick," he muttered. "Xerneas is waiting and it took a lot of convincing for me to leave for even a short while."
Diyem had recovered quickly after his battle in the Worldcore, and afterward, had left for the Tree of Life. It was an odd arrangement, but at least they were able to satiate Xerneas until they had their forces in order to properly raid the Tree and confront Eien.
Lunala floated awkwardly behind them, folding his wings when he had to, and otherwise drifting along the ground. "These halls weren't build for wingspans like mine," he commented.
Nate kept up with the others as best he could, apprehensive but excited at the same time. Who the fuck knew what would happen once they got their Giovannis in a room together.
...probably nothing. Be serious, now. Probably Giovanni would do his whole bored aloof act, or get all taunting like how stupid they were for thinking Silver had to do with anything important, and Silver would just get pissed and catty at him and fly off in a huff. Giovanni had presumably stuffed the guy in his shadow machine, after all, so it wasn't like Silver even could be that important to him. Still, though. Still.
Nate glanced up at Silver when he commented about how cramped the hallway was and smiled faintly. "Yeah, a place like this, they don't want people to be comfortable here, am I right?"
Then he bounded forward and into the cell proper. "Hey, fuckface! We found your missing piece."
Starr really didn't have any idea what the hell to expect. Up until they'd met with Lunala, she really wouldn't have said there was anything off about Giovanni. All the times she'd encountered him here, as a Mewtwo, he'd behaved pretty much exactly how she would have expected.
But then how the hell would he react when he saw Silver again? Starr hated that she was curious--the less she could think about him, the better.
He was once again reading a book. This one seemed to be dealing with Destiny Village architectural history. Mewtwo looked up from his book and smiled at them his usual, cold smile. "You have?" he asked. "I'm so curious what you think it is."
"It's me, idiot. Or so they think." Lunala had to squeeze his wings in to properly fit through the door, and then half-crawled the rest of the way until he was in the holding cells proper.
Mewtwo seemed to raise a brow. "You?" he said. "...You're... that Cosmog they once had."
"Yeah. You shoved me in a machine that makes Shadows."
Mewtwo shrugged. "I don't really remember the details. It must not have been important."
Lunala's eye flickered, like a twitch. He glared at Starr and Nate. "I'm not him."
"Is that what this is about?" Mewtwo asked, smirking. "How absurd."
"Enough bickering," Diyem growled, stepping in next and pointing at Mewtwo. "The reason we concluded this Lunala is Giovanni, or some piece or him, or some other variant is because when he thinks of Persian, as an example, he seems to react positively."
"Persian. Is that all?" Mewtwo said, frowning. "That Pokemon doesn't seem all that important to me."
"And what of Pikachu and Charizard?"
Mewtwo shrugged. "It isn't as if I ever cared for them."
"Oh, right, you don't remember the details," Nate sneered. "You been having a lot of not remembering the details lately, ain't you? And, what, you keep telling yourself it don't really matter, it ain't important shit, who cares anyway? Nah. You need more than a poker face to hide what you're thinking from the people around here. We know you're scared shitless. You know there's something wrong. You're missing shit. You're sitting locked up in here while that shithead you had helping you out runs around stealing all the power you wanted for yourself and leaving you to rot. And it's all just getting worse."
Nate pointed at Silver. "You got the same damn psychic fuckery in your head as this guy. You're in the wrong goddamn body. There's somebody out there playing both of you, and you know it. Now are you going to keep playing cool guy to a bunch of people who know you're full of shit anyhow, or are you going to level and start trying to get to the bottom of who's been fucking you over since you got to this planet? This is your goddamn chance."
The more Nate talked, the more it seemed that Mewtwo's attention was drawn away from the book, until, near the end, he closed it and let it drift to the side by his Psychic power.
"I am fairly certain I am Giovanni, and he is Silver," Mewtwo said coolly. "You're going to need a lot more than a few hypothetical Pokemon listings to convince me that somehow this is what I am missing. Everything I said before still stands. The spy will defeat you, I will be set free, and I can cut my losses and move on."
"It's not just fucking Pokemon listings, it's--" Starr's voice cut off abruptly. She could already imagine the infuriatingly self-satisfied look he'd give if she tried to explain that she'd seen a bit of him in Lunala's face. That wasn't just something she could fail to recognize.
"You didn't have any goddamn clue what you were missing either," Starr spat. "How the hell would you know that he doesn't have your missing piece? You don't know half as much as you think you do. Did you even know that Red's been telling everyone he saw you as a goddamn Nidoking? That ring any bells?"
Nate did his best to keep a poker face while Starr went off on Giovanni. There was something else there. From her reaction back in the woods, she'd figured something else out based on Silver's reaction. She seemed very confident... And also very unwilling to say what it was she'd noticed. Jesus. Nate had the feeling it must be something seriously fucking personal.
For now it seemed like she was probably the best one to rattle "Giovanni's" cage. Nate focused on him, trying to sense whether they were rattling him at all.
Mewtwo was smirking as usual, and it did look like Giovanni's smirk at the surface. He was composed and calm and collected outwardly, and the only real annoyance he displayed, or perhaps chose to display, was the flicking of his tail now and then.
"What exactly do you plan to do about this missing piece?" Mewtwo asked. "You brought him here. Congratulations. Assuming you're correct, now what? Hold hands?"
And just then, there was a flash of something Nate could pick up. Clenched jaws, a twitching finger. Mewtwo was annoyed, flustered, frustrated, maybe even a bit of panic, but not much. He seemed to believe that Nate and Starr were trying to help, and yet their help was ineffectual. Meanwhile, Lunala was drifting uncomfortably, glancing at the other cell, wondering perhaps if they'd force him inside. And then toward the exit, wondering if he could leave.
If they wanted to try something, anything, to prove something, they would have to do it soon, or give them a reason to wait.
"I don't know anything about a Nidoking," Mewtwo added, and Nate would then get the strongest, subtle reaction of all. Dread. Mewtwo reacted badly to the idea of a Nidoking.