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Pokémon The Objective Truth of the Universe (Legends fic)

Blackjack Gabbiani

Merely a collector
Pronouns
Them
Partners
  1. shaymin
(before we begin, please be aware that this fic spoils the events of mission 26. Also I got the impression that Cogita is only in her mid to late 40s so that's how she is in this story)







A clash of gods should be felt through the land, Cogita thought with some dismay as she looked up at the clear sky. She would have thought the sky would at least turn red again, or some lightning would sear through Hisui, but instead it was as if nothing was happening. Only if one kept eyes on the Temple of Sinnoh, or what remained of it, could anybody tell the utter catastrophe that had happened.

It was Volo; there was no doubt in her mind. The merchant, or whatever he truly was, believed it to be his birthright as a member of the Sinnoh bloodline to control the power of the gods. But Cogita was also of the Sinnoh people and he had never mentioned her having such a role.

She had suspected he was up to something for some time, the way he always followed that newcomer from the sky, how he always seemed to be there when it was time to discuss legends, but she had just thought him lazy and shiftless for leaving the work to others. His outburst when she revealed that she was in possession of the Pixie Plate had sent a shiver through her, though at the time she didn't fully understand why. Things only fell together when that energy burst from the summit. It wasn't laziness, as least not as straightforwardly as that, it was a sense of superiority. He thought himself entitled to everything, even the universe itself, even the fabric of reality and the renegade that had once threatened it.

She sighed, stopping at the gate of Jubilife. Something she had passed had caught her eye and it felt odd to pass it without attention. Volo's picture had been one of the first added to the photography studio's display, and he stared out from the image with a smile, happily posing with his Togepi. Cogita frowned back. What would happen to that Togepi, or Togekiss now? And the rest of his team, his trusted companions; where would they go now?

"...A passionate flame burns out fastest," she murmured at his image. She had said something similar to the lost one from the rift just a few minutes before. The visitor had wanted to know more, to talk to her further, but she could only admit that she did not understand Volo's thinking, and likely never would. At the time she had smiled sadly, concerned for the lost one more than anything else. But looking at Volo's captured smile, she felt a strange pang of pity.




The sky was still blue when she returned to the Ancient Retreat, and she was lost in the thoughts surrounding it. The day was long already and still had a ways to go. Deep in thought, she at first didn't notice that she wasn't alone, until she nearly tripped over a familiar backpack.

"Volo. Show yourself." She tried to keep her words as even and free from judgement as possible, not knowing what to expect from him.

"Mistress Cogita...you finally deign to present yourself." The voice came from around the side of her hut, and she found him lying against it, wearing an unusual ancient-styled outfit. His hair, usually hidden under his cap, was up in an elaborate sculpt in the image of the Original One's crest, and his one visible eye was notably red. At the first glimpse, she took a step back, but it wasn't the red of a ferocious Alpha's eyes.

He had been crying.

Volo sneered up at her. "Will you only stare? Is the sight of a fallen aspiring god one to gape at? I had everything and I would take everything and everything was below me, and now there is only the void!" But he made no effort to get up, only remained where he was with a defeatist resignation.

So she didn't move either, other than to steady her pose and avert her gaze away just a bit. "You'll likely want to get cleaned up. If you're going to be here, I want you to help me make dinner."

"Do you think you have the right to command me?"

"If you want to share in it then you'll help me. But it's your choice if you don't. You'll have to fend for yourself for dinner then." She brought a hand to the side of her head. "But I will offer you some tea. It can calm the nerves, and you seem like you'll need that."

He jolted, pulling his legs to his chest as though he meant to bolt to his feet, but remained there instead. "And you mock me! I devoted my entire life to the Original One and get nothing in return! This farce continues even in the one person I believed I could--"

Before he could finish, Cogita was before him with a cup of tea, the everpresent and somehow always fresh cup from her fine set. "I thought I could trust you as well. But it seemed your loyalties lay elsewhere."

With another glare at her, he took the cup and drank deeply. Perhaps the tea set itself was a type of unexplained power, for it was always nicely hot. "...I thank you for this. But it cannot change what happened."

"And you wish to." She held the saucer in expectation that he would place the cup back, but instead he set it in the dirt next to him. "Our ancestors, the Sinnoh people, knew the wrath of that creature and yet it answered to you like an old friend."

His hand tightened around the handle so severely that she feared the porcelain would snap. "A being that knew the wrath of the Original One, the full power of Arceus itself..." He swallowed heavily, giving Cogita the impression that he had intended to spit after saying the name of the overarching deity. "When did you figure out that I had such a beast by my side?"

She smiled and knelt next to him. "The lost one told me. Well, others described it, but the lost one gave me its name. The forbidden name, cast from history..." Her hand fell to his, to try to take the cup back from his grasp. "Here, I'll refill this."

But instead of surrendering the cup, he grabbed her wrist with a sudden violence. "You will not leave!" The order was loud, sharp, and undercut with a shake to his voice, and his glare was watery, betraying his uncertainty.

Cogita met his gaze calmly. It would have been straightforward to turn him away. Even if he attempted to lash out at her, he was in no mindset to truly harm her, even if he intended to. "You're welcome to come with me. You know the teapot is never far."

His grip loosened but didn't release. "Mistress...did I not serve you faithfully? Did I not perform every duty asked of me?" The words were on a shaky breath, and his gaze was directed at the ground. "I've done everything I was told. Was it not enough?"

She decided not to remind him that just the day before, he had neglected to bring her three pieces of wood. Or to chastise him for shirking his regular work with the guild. "You were a devoted student, but to gain the attention of the Original One--"

At the mention of the being, he slammed his fist into the ground. "Does it have no heart?! Answer me, mistress, is there no compassion within the heart of the creator?" Before she could respond, he grabbed her wrist again and this time pulled her down towards him. "I devoted my entire life to that monstrous deity, even commanding its most fearful opponent, and still no response!" Turning with a ferocious vigor, he ground a heel against the ground to work his way to his feet, looming over her with eyes wild. "Tell me, mistress! Tell me what will impress this beast!" He grabbed at her chin, denying her the chance to look away. "Tell me what I have to do to get its attention! Tell me what will finally permit me to meet it!"

Despite his hands squeezing her wrist and chin, despite being forced to kneel from being knocked off balance, Cogita remained calm. If Volo had ever intended to bring her harm, she reasoned he would have done so already. Although some part of her had to consider that she really had no reason to believe that. She stared back at him, eyes heavy in dull impatience. "Volo, your zeal has overtaken you. I am not the subject of your wrath and you are well aware of it. If you lash out at me, you will lose the one conduit you have to those legends you hold so dear."

Immediately the grip on her chin loosened but didn't entirely retreat, and it did nothing to calm the fury across his face. "Then tell me! Give me the answers I need, or what good are you?"

She shook her head, his hand still clinging. "Is that the question you mean to ask?"

"I..." Something in her question had caught in his mind, and he let his arms fall to his sides. "Mistress, I..." For just a moment, all emotion drained from his face and he stared at her with hollow eyes before they filled again with a near distress. "Then what good am *I*? I devote myself to a creature who cares nothing for me...for any of us..." That anger shuddered through him again, though not as intense as it had just been. "It witnessed the devastation of our people and did nothing to stop it!"

"And in your attempt to lash out at it," she reminded him, "you turned to the embrace of the fallen one."

He stared at her but said nothing.

Cogita had to choose her words carefully, but this miscreant had his mind made up. "Even I do not understand the full scope of the fallen one's wrath, nor what fueled it. I scarcely knew of its existence. That is the folly of our ancestors, to have kept this information from subsequent generations." Experimentally, she reached out with the intent to touch his arm, but instead brought her hand to the charm he wore on a chain around his neck. "This symbol," she murmured, other hand closing around her own nearly identical charm, "even that has been lost, hasn't it? Perhaps it represents the tears of our ancestors. But if that is true, are they the tears of loss? Or joy, at knowing the Original One at all? Or perhaps it is just a symbol they thought looked nice. We can attribute meaning to all things, but in the end, we will never know everything. And that was your goal, yes? To know all the answers in creation?"

Volo nodded emphatically, lips pressed tightly together hard enough to turn them white. The redness of his eyes was still present, and it seemed that he may well up again.

She patted his charm and trailed her hand up the chain, tracing up his chest. "I doubt even the Original One knows everything. And you sought to replace it...what answers would you have from it if you had destroyed it?"

He tightened, as if the idea had only just occurred to him. To kill Arceus would mean he could never find the answers he sought from it. His hands balled into fists, his eyes darted to and fro, his breathing grew shallow and rapid. "I would have..."

Her hand laid flat against his shoulder, hoping it would serve as some sort of anchor, and she rose up from her kneeling position to stand across him. "Volo. Perhaps you are a lost one yourself. Not in the same way as our visitor, but lost just the same." After a brief hesitation, she brought her other hand up to rest on his other shoulder. "Your fascination consumed you like a brilliant flame, but you have not yet burnt out. You still exist, and thus you may still seek those burning answers. Pray that you are not spent in the search."

Volo continued to avoid looking directly at her. It didn't matter much to Cogita if he didn't make eye contact, but he wasn't looking in her direction at all despite her closeness. He seemed to be speaking more than he was, mouth moving with barely a sound, only "I would have..." repeated like a dim, faint mantra. Whatever he intended to end the thought with was unknown, likely even to him.

Cogita remained in place, but permitted a faint smile. She wanted to address him or prompt him for the conclusion to his repeated phrase but suspected she shouldn't. When she finally spoke, it was only "would you care for some more tea?"

His head drooped, but it was unclear if he was staring at the discarded cup or not. "...It will do nothing, but yes."

"Very well." After a beat, she took a step back from him, letting her hands trail midway down his arms before fully pulling away. He was shaking from some restrained emotion that would be dangerous if it was fully unleashed. "Please wash that cup, if you will, and I will brew a fresh pot. Something calming, to soothe the nerves." She picked up the saucer and headed inside with only a glance back at him.




Cogita wasn't sure why she had thought that Volo would join her inside, but for the entire brewing process he was nowhere to be seen. Suspicion grew as she watched the blend steep into the teapot. Volo was in a volatile state and he could be plotting any number of things, the two most likely in her mind being that he could have run away or that he could be lying in wait to attack, even though she had dismissed that idea already. It was confusing and perhaps only invoking her distant ancestors could settle her mind. The conflict in her was disquieting. Surely if he plotted against her...no, she decided, she had to have been correct the first time.

Nothing seemed disturbed as she opened the door, and Volo was waiting at her usual table, kneeling on the ground in the manner of the local clans and even the Galaxy team. Whatever was customary to their own people had been lost to time.

"The table is a bit high for such a reception. Would you be more comfortable with a chair, perhaps?"

He shook his head but didn't speak at first, instead toyed with the washed cup, turning it around in his hands. "...There is no meaning to this design," he murmured. "I had hoped there would be."

"And what would give you that impression?" she asked as she set the teapot down.

"Because it is owned by Mistress Cogita." Again he refused to look in her direction.

"Do you often assign deeper meaning to all that I do?" She tried to keep the amusement out of her voice but wasn't certain if she was entirely successful.

"Maybe that was foolish. Learning your use of the Pixie Plate..." The hostility rose in him but not enough to break his reverie, and his thought trailed off before it could go farther. "I thought I could put my faith in you."

She sat in her usual chair and looked down at him with a sad smile. "I believed the same of you. We cannot go back to what we were."

He set the cup down next to the offered saucer rather than atop it. "And what was that?"

Cogita had begun reaching for the teapot but stopped at his question, setting her hand on the handle instead. "You were an excellent pupil, in hindsight. I believe I underestimated your zeal to learn. Your zeal for a lot of things. Perhaps if I had seen the truth of you, I could have spoken plainer. We could have discussed your plans together."

"You would have stood in my way."

She poured him some tea, and then herself. "Naturally. But your way is misguided."

Volo's gaze followed the teapot, the closest he came to watching Cogita herself. "Wicked and vile, am I not?"

"Do you believe yourself to be?"

He laughed, loud and sharp, and unbeknownst to her it was the same laugh he had given at the ruined statue several hours before. "I am an affront to the Original One! A devoted servant who plots against his master! Either I am none other than God itself or I am no different from the renegade Giratina! And yet here I am, having no divine judgement, no banishment...only TEA of all things!" Almost to emphasize the shouted word, he jolted up, almost upturning the table in the process, and gestured wildly to himself. "I attempt that which no other in history has, and still Arceus refuses to answer! Am I that unimportant to it? Does it truly lack any heart within it?" He beat his hand against his chest. "Do you know how surely it refused me? The only acknowledgement it made of me?"

Cogita only shook her head and tried to remain impassive.

Volo's body shook with tension as he laughed again, louder and sharper than before. "Haha! Hahaha! I beseeched it with all my heart, all my passion, all my very being, and instead it turned its back to me!" He flung his arms wide and stared at the mountain with wild eyes, his voice crackling with emotion as he continued. "Instead of its most faithful servant, it turned to that...lost one! That miserable newcomer, the one who knows nothing of this land or our history or our people!" With a terrible swiftness, he grabbed the table entirely, knuckles white around the rim, and Cogita quickly picked up the teapot lest he upturn everything, but for the moment he only hunched over it to bring himself to eye level with her. "Mistress...dear mistress, do you know what it did? Do you know what blessing it bestowed upon the UNWORTHY?"

This time it was clear that he wanted her to answer, and she shook her head softly. "I do not. The lost one told me of no blessing."

"Of course not," Volo whispered, the sudden softness of his voice immensely unnerving. That tension in his shivering arms was rattling the remainder of the tea service, starting to spill the contents of the cups. "The true magnitude of that gift would be utterly lost on any outsider..." He drew in a hissing breath between his teeth and bit his lower lip hard, so hard that Cogita was surprised that it didn't draw blood, though it left a distinct mark. "It gave that unworthy one, your precious 'lost one'..." He drew another breath with an open mouth, and pushed back from the table to face the heavens, targeting the distant summit with his shout, "The most sacred of artifacts! It turned the Celestica Flute into the AZURE Flute!"

The Azure Flute...Cogita set the teapot back on the table, slowly, as the magnitude of the revelation sunk in. The lost one, visitor from somewhere and somewhen unknowable, had received an artifact so utterly sacred that a simple tune from it was said to be able to summon the Original One itself. And the lost one had said nothing of it. Either they knew nothing of the importance of such a thing, or they knew full well what it meant and wished to keep it a secret. Either was likely, she reasoned. She let her eyes close, hoping Volo would take it as a gesture of calmness and trust, and hoped that he wouldn't betray that trust. "I see. Which means that you did indeed catch the attention of the Original One. That itself is more than most will accomplish in all their lives."

He inhaled, shuddering and uneven, before dropping to his knees, still gripping the edge of the table. "And do you believe that makes it better...that it somehow sets anything RIGHT? That it MOCKING my devotion is all right just because it means it knows I exist?"

She paused for a sip of tea to center herself. "Volo...I never said that."

"What should it mean then?! Every day of my life I've devoted to studying that beast and the land it brought forth, and this is how I'm rewarded, by mockery?" He rested his head on the table, surprisingly lightly, and sighed heavily. "Is this what I was meant to be, just a plaything for it? Is this what my years of devotion..." He shuddered again, arms going limp to droop against the ground. "Mistress...is this my condemnation? Is this its divine punishment, to be a laughingstock? How could it dare be so heartless..." The last wasn't really a question but a defeatist sigh.

Cogita pulled the cup nearest him aside and rested a hand on his head. His piled hairstyle was beginning to fall flat, framing his deflated attitude, though she wasn't sure how long it would be before his mood would flash into something else. "Perhaps it is your role, as mine is to preserve the legends. Yours may be to uncover them. It would be beyond my scope to overstep my bounds as a human, just as it is yours, but that does not mean that you're not meant to study it. We are human, no matter what else. And a human cannot be a god."

He snorted in dismissal but didn't otherwise move. "Is that written?" he asked as she began to stroke his hair reassuringly. "There is nothing in the legends that limits us so. The ten companions of the hero were mortal beings and their descendants are deified even today. The hero himself is revered by both Diamond and Pearl clans, and isn't that a form of godhood, to live forever in the heart of the region itself? Death of the mortal body is nothing against the divine soul. I will continue on as long as I have to. Even if I must push forward for ten thousand years, fifty thousand, ten million years!" Despite the zeal in his voice, his body remained limp and dejected, only looking up at her to meet her gaze. "Mistress..." He dropped his head back to the table. "Tell me a story."

"Only if you come closer. Reaching across the table is uncomfortable. And take a drink of tea first. It will help calm you."

He followed the instructions without hesitation, sipping the offered drink and scooting forward, this time sitting straighter as if waiting for instructions. "Very well, Mistress. Begin."

She sat a little straighter as well, and bore a gentle smile. She wasn't certain which, exactly, story to tell, so she decided to make one up. "Not long ago, within living memory, there was a bold child. One with the blood of Hisui itself in his veins."

Volo's eyes narrowed. The story was to be about him. "Very well, so be it."

Cogita only continued, that smile not flickering. "That child so loved his homeland that he wished to know all there was to it. Every last corner of it, every moment of its history. But there were so few who remained who knew these stories, and as time progressed, that number grew fewer indeed." She took another sip, knowing Volo was already hooked on her words. "By the time the child grew into a young man, the world he knew had already changed so much. It was a world that had forgotten its past. A world where even the gods lay abandoned, where the creator's children were blindly worshipped by those who didn't understand their own loyalty. The two clans that divided the land claimed to know the truth, but the young man knew that they believed a falsehood. The true creator, he knew, lay beyond either clan's knowledge."

Volo sat silently, taking in every word. At some point he had closed his eyes, giving the impression that he was deep in thought, though Cogita knew he was still consumed with his passionate pursuit.

She took another drink and continued. "What the two presented as fact was, despite being very old, the young man knew to be a recent invention, compared to the sheer scope of the age of creation. Humans ourselves, merely a moment in time to a being such as it. And yet, the young man knew, we were special to it. Something that had caught its divine eye. And yet it no longer spoke to us. It no longer protected us. It no longer encouraged us. So the young man came to ask himself, 'why?'" Here, she chanced a look at Volo.

His eyes had tightened, his fists balled at his sides, and she could see the beginnings of tears again. And yet before she could ask if he wanted to hear more, he murmured "Continue" as if he knew.

"Very well." She straightened up in her chair again and drew in a deep breath. "The young man wished to understand all of it. The whole of the world, and most of all the creator. That lingering 'why' had to be asked of none but the creator itself, for it was the only being that could possibly know the answer. The young man would ask 'why' of the air, of the land, of time and space as they passed him by, and still it stood firm that only the creator could truly answer."

Had Volo inched closer? Cogita wasn't certain.

"And over time, as his 'why' remained unanswered, the young man's passion reshaped into something new. As much as he loved the creator, he came to despise it as well. This contradiction burned, a horrible flame within his very being, and his new discovery only fueled it. He had found a terrible secret, a creature, a god, locked away for its hatred, and the young man believed he had found a kindred spirit in that creature."

Volo's ragged breathing was audible, and his arms were trembling, but his eyes remained closed. He seemed to have gotten closer still.

"Somehow, through means even he didn't fully understand, the young man managed to break through the barrier between worlds, his powerful emotions reaching the imprisoned being. They both believed they had found a kindred spirit, one that could accomplish the goal of reaching the creator."

He seemed to whisper something, but Cogita couldn't hear it, only see the bitter expression across his face. And again he seemed to sense that she was about to ask if she should stop, for again he bid her "continue!" with shaking breath.

"Very well," she replied, though she wasn't certain if she truly should. "But I will stop if I deem it necessary to do so."

He bowed his head, hiding his expression.

"...The young man's heart had grown cold to the world. Though he had this being as his companion, though he had pokémon at his side that adored him, though he had people around him that thought of him fondly..." She chanced a glance at him at that and caught the shimmer of a tear down his cheek "...he believed himself to be alone. Despite his curiosity, despite his bravery, despite his boldness, because the creator would not answer his plea, he convinced himself that he was forsaken." Cogita closed her own eyes and took another drink. "The young man was, for many, a figure of adoration, and yet he had turned away from the world and refused to see what existed around him. He had a life and a mind most would envy, but without the creator's approval it was not enough for him. What he loved, what he hated, fervently consumed him until he lashed out at the very fabric of creation itself."

"I know this part." Volo's voice was harsh but whispered. "Skip to the end."

Cogita smiled sadly and reached down to wipe away a tear. "I can't do that. The story isn't over."

He shook his head. "My story ended when I lost to that interloper. Tell me the ending," he ordered through gritted teeth.

"If that was truly the ending," she reminded him, "would you have vowed to continue your quest?"

That seemed to be what it took for him to finally meet her eyes. Still kneeling, still breathing heavily, he reached out at her chair, penning her in place for a moment before choking out a sob and collapsing his head in her lap, crying out in a fool's despair. "Mistress...mistress," he repeated through forlorn gasps.

Cogita could rightfully say any number of things to him, but instead she remained silent and stroked his head. His oddly piled hair fell to loose strands at her touch. "You really are just as lost, even in a world you were born into." A world he would have undone in his zealotry.

Volo didn't respond beyond a faint whimper.

Just a few hours ago, Cogita had dismissed him as a scoundrel and told the lost one to spare no further thought for him. At that moment she wished she could have the selfish luxury to cast him away from her life, but that would be to turn away a desperate man. He was wicked, there was no denying that, but he was also in utter ruin. She thought back to the photograph of him and Togepi, of the broad smiles. Togepi only evolved if it had the utmost faith in those around it, if it could trust the hearts of its flock. And so it had to have that trust and faith in Volo. The empathic little egg would have looked into his being and seen something there that could be trusted, so Cogita would hesitantly trust him as well.

He was wicked, but he wasn't *only* wicked. He was dangerous, but not at all times. He was wild and zealous and obsessed, but he was also intelligent and passionate and curious. In all these ways, he seemed to embody Hisui itself, a harsh, beautiful land.

"Almighty Arceus," he muttered with a hitch to his voice, "please forgive my transgressions..."

Cogita stroked down his jawline, down his neck, and felt his pounding pulse. "And if it doesn't forgive you?"

He turned his head the other way, almost facing away though he wasn't facing her to begin with. "Then what good could it be?"

She sat up a little straighter, but kept threading her hand through his hair. "Its veracity depends entirely on how it views you, one human?"

"There is none in creation more devoted to it than I, so who else?" When she didn't reply immediately, he sighed. "Mistress...what else could I have done? I gave my life and mind and soul to it and it refuses to so much as look my way. It MOCKS me, mistress...it mocks me and still yet demands loyalty..."

Her hand stopped, resting against his cheek. "Does it? Has it ever asked anything of you? Or have you decided that for yourself?"

Volo shook his head. "I will not have this. I will not be mocked from you either."

"I do not mock you, Volo." She had addressed him by name countless times since they had met, but to use his name at that moment seemed to carry a weight to it. "I ask simply who placed that burden on you."

With another sigh, he leaned back on his heel to face her. There was a defiance in his eyes, but it was surrounded by the weariness of his expression. "Mistress. Is it not the role of all true Sinnoh people, of all Celestica people, to serve Arceus?"

She paused for a second, thinking over the vast legends. "We are stewards of this land, this history. That is our servitude, as passed down from our ancestors. But the extent you have gone...that is written nowhere."

Volo's fists tensed again. He rose to his feet and turned away, giving the impression that he was about to leave, but instead he only brushed dirt from himself. He lightly beat a fist against the table, not hard at all, and picked up his cup to finish off the tea within before setting it back, on the saucer. "...Mistress. I will leave soon. You know I cannot remain here."

"I know you will not. But you're perfectly capable of doing so." She stood as well and gathered the empty cups. "Would you like more tea while you're here?"

"No thank you, mistress."

"As I said, you're welcome to stay for dinner, if you aid me in making it."

He drew a deep breath and held it for a moment, debating what he should say. "...Thank you, mistress. I will stay for a short time."

Cogita smiled, brightly this time, and regretted that Volo couldn't see it. "Very well. Go pick an ear of corn from the garden, and fill a pot with water from the stream. We'll work together."

Another sigh, but he nodded.




Save for Cogita instructing Volo on the specifics, neither of them spoke much during the preparation stage. Only once everything was set up atop her wood stove did either of them break the silence. "You're quite skilled in the kitchen," she remarked. "I barely had to show you anything. You impressed me."

"I do travel alone. I've had to do it all myself." Volo had taken to examining the many plants trailing along the walls.

"You travel with your pokémon. Why do you not recognize their presence?"

He shook his head. "They're alongside me. But that's not the same thing. I traveled with the Ginkgo Guild as well, but they're not with me."

Cogita followed his gaze to a plant with thick green leaves with a touch of pink where they met the vine. "So what are they then, if they're alongside you but not with you? Surely if they lent their aid in the temple, they must at least be your allies.

"I don't know." He jerked his arms up, hands against his head. "I thought I would have all the answers by now."

"That the Original One would grant you any information you wanted."

"Yes! Or that I would..."

She waited for him to finish, wondering if he would own up to his attempt to wipe out the world.

"--that I would create the answers myself..."

Her eyes narrowed. His degree of responsibility seemed to ebb and flow, how much of his plan he was willing to admit to despite her knowing all of it. "Volo. Lost Volo...you may not like the answers you find. Especially now."

"It doesn't matter if I like them or not," he groaned, and though she saw only his back, she could swear he was rolling his eyes. "I want to know everything."

"Then you must have your own answers for things." Gently, she touched his arm.

With a sigh, he brought his hand to hers. She had taken her gloves off, and he considered that he had never touched her bare skin before. "For any who came to seek me out as a deity?"

"Yes."

"Whatever I said, whatever I wished, would be the truth. There would be nothing unanswered."

Cogita leaned against him. "So, what would you say about that plant there?" she asked, pointing with her other hand.

"I already know what that plant is. That's chubane, something rodent pokémon find repellent. I saw that you powder it up to spread in your garden."

"But what would *you* say it was, if you were asked as a god?"

He laughed, but she saw with a peek at his face that his expression hadn't changed. "You want to know what I would say if something other than a human asked me."

"That's up to you. Would your answer change depending on who was there to hear it? Or would there be nothing but the bare facts?"

Volo took his arm from hers and shook his finger in that way he had, but the tone of it was entirely removed from his usual merry teasing. "Now, first, would it even have the same property in my world? And if I wished it, would I change it? Perhaps I could even make it have different properties in different regions. In Hisui, in Hoenn, who knows?" He chuckled. "Well, I would, of course."

For all his posturing, he didn't seem to have any specific answers. She took a step back, releasing her touch, and covered it by walking to the stove to stir dinner. If he was attentive, he would know it was too early to do so, but he didn't seem to make any note of it. "It's funny. Dragon types seem to love chubane. Perhaps your Garchomp would like some. You're welcome to cut off a few leaves."

"And dragon types don't live in this enclave. They would have to come far afield to feast on what you've provided." He snipped a leaf off by pinching it with his fingernails.

"Everyone has their place. But who knows what lies beyond the next hill? I suppose humans and pokémon have that in common." Setting aside the spoon and replacing the pot's lid, she asked "Do you think the creator gets lonely?" and watched him carefully at that question.

Again, Volo sighed. "Mistress, is that not the fate of all things? To know that, ultimately, we are utterly alone?" He turned to face her. "You live here alone, only temporary company flitting by. Yet you have never claimed to be lonely. Perhaps you are a god then, if you are above that." His gaze was on the floor, nowhere near her. "The myths and stories you keep are all the company you need. And yet a god could not be so foolish."

"Volo. Answer me something. Not as if you were a god, but answer me as yourself as you are now."

"Of course, mistress." He turned the leaf over in his fingers, starting to ball it up at the stem.

"Look at me first, and then I will ask it."

Hesitantly, he looked up, trying to keep eye contact to a minimum. "This will be no ordinary question then."

"I'm afraid not." She faced him fully and folded her hands in front of her. It felt odd without her gloves. "Volo. You speak of your place as bearing the blood of the Sinnoh people. That this entitles you to do as you please with the world, even with the gods. I am also one of the Sinnoh people, dating back across the ages. Do you believe that affords me the same privilege, to declare myself the next deity of the universe? That I can decide what becomes of creation, of Arceus itself?"

His first inclination was to look away, but only briefly. He took a step towards her, meeting her eyes again. "You, no. You seek no answers, you do not question your own teachings, you only remain in this place and keep to yourself."

Cogita watched his body language carefully. He was resolute, but had only the faintest whispers of the zeal he'd shown a short time before, so with confidence, she moved towards him as well. "You said those traits perhaps made me a god myself."

Volo smirked, but his eyes showed no merriment. "I never said that was a good thing either. A god that does nothing for its creation ought not to exist. Such a being is either a waste of adoration or a tyrant."

"Do you find me either of those, having sought my council for years?"

His fist balled around the leaf, and a drip of juice fell from between his fingers to the floor. "What I find you is a contradiction. You speak of the importance of sharing our history, our legends, with the people of the world, and yet you barely leave this enclave. You maintain rather than discover." He gestured at the interior of the retreat, and with a slight raise of his wrist it became a gesture at the region outside. "I'm out there exploring every last corner of Hisui, uncovering the true words written by our forebearers, the *true* heirs to this land, while you sit here and...drink tea and do little else!" He wrenched his eyes shut. "...I can't tolerate to live in a world like this. Where those with the most important information keep it to themselves."

"I have planned with the lost one to share my knowledge with the Diamond and Pearl clans."

"An action you could have taken at any point!" Volo demanded, glaring at her with a fire in his eyes. "And any lorekeeper before you. When they first came to our shores, where were our people? What did we do with that knowledge? Did we use it to protect ourselves? Did we share it with the newcomers to propagate the truths of their new home?" He shuddered, his outrage moving through his whole body. "We didn't even speak it among each other! There ought to have been no point that I *learned* these things. It should simply be known, to all of us, as a fact of the world."

Cogita listened to it all, taking in every detail of his demeanor and inflection of his voice, watching as his tirade wore him through and he grabbed onto the nearby chair as if was all that could keep him upright. The leaf fell to the ground, utterly crushed up. "Please, have a seat before you collapse," she bid, putting his hand over his and guiding the chair out from under the desk.

He sat rather lopsided with the desk, trying to face vaguely in Cogita's direction, still shuddering, still overwhelmed by the sheer force of his emotions, his breath heavy and staggered.

Briefly, Cogita thought of a myth surrounding the Being of Emotion and pondered if it wouldn't be merciful to have it rid him of that burden, but the thought disgusted her. If he could never feel that rage or zealotry again would be one thing, but he could never smile fondly at his Togekiss again either, never feel the joy a new discovery would bring...if he could never feel, he could never learn better. That the world was worth it. She shook her head as if it could dispel the intrusive thought. "Volo. Tell me when you are ready to hear my reply."

He looked down at the fallen leaf before trying unsteadily to pick it up, but managed to grasp it between two fingers. "It's ruined...but I think Garchomp will still eat it." Almost apologetically, he tried to smooth it out. "I'll have to step outside for that. He would be too big for this place."

Cogita thought there was plenty of room for Garchomp, but if Volo wanted his space, that was fine. "All right. I wish to speak with you further. If you decide to leave, let me know before you do."

Volo worked his way to his feet, stabilizing against the desk and seeming sturdy enough as he headed to the door. He didn't answer Cogita's request, just shut the door behind himself.

She waited a minute before peeking out the door, and was pleased that he was not only still there, over by the workbench, but also offering the crushed leaf to Garchomp as intended.

"...If I was to release you, would you feel a thing?" he asked the dragon as it licked the spare juice from his hand.

Cogita tensed up. He wouldn't, surely...

"I wonder, what would you do? Would you follow after me? The lost one, that interloper...I'm certain I heard footsteps trying to follow me." He leaned his forehead against Garchomp's and pet it with his free hand. "But that damnable device, that Arc Phone, the professor called it..." He shook his head against the dragon. "I wonder what sort of reaction I would have gotten. Anger, bargaining, disappointment...I suppose the interloper had thought me a friend before that..." He sighed heavily and straightened again, this time petting Garchomp with both hands on either side of the dragon's face. "Mistress Cogita thinks that you're my friend. Is that what you believe...?"

It didn't sound dismissive, Cogita thought, but it didn't sound in agreement either. It sounded as if he was genuinely curious what the answer was.

Garchomp snorted and lightly headbutted Volo before licking him across the forehead. Volo took a step back as if confused but kept his hands where they were. "Are you...No, that's not possible. I would have known something like that by now."

But the dragon shook its head and waggled a claw at Volo in a mirror of his signature manner, toothy grin giving it a playful appearance.

Volo sighed and recalled Garchomp to its ball, shoulders slumped as he knelt by the stream to wash his hands and face.

Cogita closed the door, feeling as though she had intruded on something private. He truly didn't understand the thoughts of his partners. But then, his own goals were different from theirs. He wished to uncover the ultimate truths of the universe, while they wished to protect their friend. She considered as well what he had said about the lost one believing Volo to be a friend. That was how that poor child had talked about him, after all, and must have felt utterly gutted by his actions. The conversation in the hall lobby earlier had been brief, but highly emotional. Cogita had wanted to dismiss any sort of pity for anybody who would do something so extreme, but couldn't help but feel something terrible in the pit of her stomach at just how utterly detached he had become. Shouldn't she have felt this earlier? What responsibility did she--no, none of this was her fault. Volo was the only one to blame for his own actions. That much was clear. But he felt betrayed by the world, and that included her, and even though she had done nothing against him, she wanted to understand why he believed it.

She busied herself with tending to supper again, and a few minutes later, Volo returned and took his place at the desk, facing away from her. "I would like you to speak now, but I will likely ask you to stop. You will respect when I tell you this."

Not the best reaction, but as good as she could anticipate. With a deep breath, Cogita summoned up her words. "Volo, I wish to ask you something."

"Again with this." He rotated a hand in a circle almost sarcastically. "Proceed."

"If you were here when the clans arrived, would you have been the one to tell them of our history? If no other did so, would you have taken it entirely upon yourself?"

He let his hand fall back to the desk. "If nobody else takes up the responsibility of what has to be done, then of course. Isn't that the credo that all in this land live by, that we have no room for any who only take and who give nothing in return?" He leaned back to view her upside-down, and his long hair trailed nearly to the ground, fully fallen loose from the elaborate style he bore earlier. "You believe you're above that, don't you? Continuing to keep our ways stagnant, to keep them to die. And if the truth dies, what remains alive?"

Cogita shook her head, wanting a comforting cup of tea more than anything. "Even before they split into two clans, there was deep distrust among them. Our ancestors thought it best to keep that information to ourselves lest the newcomers lash out at any different from them. Goodness knows that the clans could not tolerate even dissent amongst themselves. Do you think they would have welcomed anything an outsider told them?"

Volo's hand balled up and his eyes shut, but he said nothing.

"You are a highly intelligent man. I doubt you would have taken a risk like that. Although you have, of course, recently surprised me with the risks you *are* willing to take." As soon as she said it, she regretted it, and continued speaking to cover it up. "Volo, you desire a perfect world, but that does not exist. It cannot exist, because we will always have different viewpoints."

"I desire the truth, no matter what it is. No matter how horrible it may be. Because what I do know of the truth is we serve an arrogant deity, one who regards us as less than nothing. My devotion has been unmatched and it still spurns me."

"You say this though you sought out the renegade, knowing it would desire revenge."

"Of course!" He whirled around, pulling himself up to his feet in a fluid motion to face her, face slightly red from sitting in such an unusual position. "Mistress, when I sought out Giratina, it was as though I had known it my whole life. Longer than my whole life. For the first time in creation..." He sighed and slightly bowed his head. "Mistress, I dare call it my soul mate. Its desire to reach Arceus, who had so betrayed it, surpassed even mine, but that was only one element. It knew my loneliness. It knew my frustration. It knew my despair. But it knew also my joy, my passion with life, even things like my amusement."

"It shares your sense of humor?" The idea planted quite the mental image in Cogita as she thought of the renegade waggling its finger in his way, or whatever it may have in place of fingers. In truth she had little concept of what it looked like, save for the broken fragments of the statue.

Volo smiled, and for the first time in what seemed like hours, it seemed to have happiness behind it. "It does. Or it did." The joy vanished, and his expression darkened. "And then it left. Abandoned me when the interloper defeated it, as if all I was to it was a means to a single battle..."

That did sound bad, but Cogita wished to keep his thoughts from straying. "Think of things from its perspective. The last time it was defeated may have been when it was banished. Perhaps it wanted to think about things on its own."

He covered his face with his hands and drew a deep breath. "Mistress, I have no illusions about why it left. Such cowardice, such arrogance itself...abandoning the one who--"

But Cogita was suddenly beside him, leaning against his back with her hands on his shoulders. "Volo, again I reiterate that you are not alone."

He dropped his arms and leaned into the touch. "Mistress, you're trying to distract me."

She wanted to ask if it was working, but instead just nodded against his back. "This path you're on. Where do you see it leading you? Most importantly, where does it end?"

"It ends before Arceus itself." The reply was immediate. "I either get the answers I seek, I create an entirely new world, or Arceus itself strikes me down. There is no other option."

Strikes him down? At that, Cogita pulled Volo a little closer, her hands trailing down his arms. "Oh, lost one. You poor thing. You poor thing..."

Volo took a hesitant step with one foot but left the other in place, halfway accepting and halfway rejecting her affection. "It's the only possible ending. It cannot banish me as it did the renegade, because it knows that I can enter and leave that distorted world myself. So if it refuses to answer what I have for it, one of us must fall. And I refuse to let it be me. My most fervent wish, my very being, will be sated. I will get what I want."

She shook her head against his back, her hat pushing a little away from its neat position with the motion. "And I will not let you be lost in such a way. No further than you already are." Her hands had rested on his own, and she gave them an encouraging squeeze.

"Mistress," he sighed. "You want me to believe that I have never been alone, but if that was the case, I would know it. Please don't pretend to demonstrate affection to prove some imaginary point." But he didn't move any further away.

"Truth filtered through your own experience," she murmured against him. "Because it doesn't match what you believe, you reject it. Perhaps through that lens you will understand why our people did not approach the clans when they first arrived on our shores. They already fought among themselves, even before their leaders met Dialga and Palkia and believed them to be the Original One. Being told something else, even the truth, would have met with violent rejection, just as you do, because it wasn't what they believed. That is what I was trying to tell you earlier."

He tightened his hands around hers but it didn't seem to mirror her encouraging gesture, more of an act of frustration. "They deluded themselves into believing that inferior deities could ever be Arceus. Even Giratina's power is something they were ignorant of."

"Are you so confident that you make no mistakes? That your perspective is the objective truth of the entire world?"

"Haha...oh, mistress, you truly are a sly one. You're trying to draw me out and I won't have it."

She remained leaning against his back, holding his hands. "You called me a contradiction earlier, yet you're such a contradiction yourself."

"Perhaps that's the curse of the Creator ignoring us. We become imperfect, in a forsaken world." This time he took a full step away, trailing away from her touch, but turning to look at her. "Mistress, you know as well as I do that this world needs to change."

"The world is changing every day."

He rolled his eyes. "I knew you would say that. But you know what I mean by it as well. Don't ignore that. The world needs a guiding hand, lest we lose the light of the Original One. Even if we must force that hand ourselves."

His words brought an odd smile to Cogita's lips. "You speak that way and still act as though you hold an objective truth. If a hand is forced, it's no longer guiding. You claim to want Arceus's guidance and love, but speak of controlling or even destroying it in the same breath. Earlier when I mentioned that if your plan had been successful you would have been unable to discover any of the truths you seek from it, you became very agitated, as if you had never considered that before. Then you claimed later that you could simply rewrite any truth you wanted." She reached out to touch his face, but brought her grip around his chin, lighter than he had done to her earlier. "Volo. Your plan, in the end...you're making it up as you go along." Her voice was light, but at the last part, her expression shifted into a frown. "You would endanger all of creation for something you didn't think through all the way. And then you think of yourself as forsaken when you drove all love for the Original One from your own heart."

He grabbed her wrist, not hard or threatening, just enough to pull her hand away. "Mistress, is that what you believe of me?" His expression was furious, but his voice was incredulous. "Is that, after all this time, truly what you believe of me?!" He released his grip and looked away from her, disgusted. "My devotion to Arceus is unmatched, beyond any in creation, beyond you or any deity, and you still claim that I drove it from my own heart?" He slapped a hand over his chest, over his heart. "There are no others who are as devoted to Arceus as I am and you tell me this!"

In truth, Cogita wasn't certain what she had expected when she said what she had, but his reaction both surprised her and yet came off as neatly as if she had scripted it herself. She mirrored his gesture over her own heart and looked deep into his eyes. "Devotion and love are not the same thing. I am devoted to my role in preserving our history, and I love our history, but they are not the same. Lost one, in the depths of your soul, what do you truly feel for Arceus? Do you love it, as your words claim, or despise it, as your actions show?"

His hand tightened, balling the fabric of his odd garment, and he kept his eyes averted from her. He moved his mouth a few times but the movement had no words to it. Finally he turned entirely away from her, his posture defeated. "...In all truth," he spoke, voice eerily soft, "it is both. I desire to see it pleased with me. I wish to know its light for myself. It's driven my entire life, ever since I realized that it was a true being..." He sighed. "Again, something I ought never to have *learned*. Something so crucial needs to be a part of all of us, written on every atom in all of creation, something we never have to question or doubt. But regardless..." He cast his gaze up, seeming to peer past the roof above them to the outside sky. "The concept of Arceus is comforting. An all-knowing being that brought forth all things ought to surely love us in return. And yet I also despise it. I want to see it destroyed for the sin of forsaking its creation. It betrayed its own child, it saw its followers dwindle in number from disaster, saw falsehoods and deceit arise, and all the while did NOTHING to protect what it had created." He looked back at her, and it was clear that he was holding back something wild. "I hate it. I hate it with all my body and being. And yet I need its approval." A smile, something both malicious and joyful, crossed his face. "Am I a hypocrite, or is it? Surely if it is, then all creation must be as well. And thus it would need to be set straight."

Cogita closed her eyes. What Volo had said was a lot to take in. "...In all creation, I have never met anybody like you. Though I would imagine your conundrum is commonplace. The apparent contradiction of an all-seeing deity who does nothing to intervene in the ills of the world...but then, we assume that it is all-seeing to begin with." She smiled a little bit, but it was the sad smile she found herself so often using recently in dealing with his affairs. "Even in the most ancient of writings, and even earlier of verbal tradition, we simply don't know that. It may be, or it may not." Finally she looked at him, taking in his frustration. "And to one who seeks the ultimate answers, the ultimate 'why' in everything, to be so certain of something like that...I can understand why you would consider it to be so hypocritical. But..." She reached out a hand, the implication that he should take it. "...Volo. Please understand that you are not the objective truth of the universe. Even Arceus may not be. Those answers you seek, you say that you would take the truth regardless of what it may be, but I can tell you wouldn't. Not if it contradicted what you already believe. If you encountered a truth that you couldn't accept, after all you've done to achieve it, you would consider all you've done to get there to be wasted. And I don't want that to happen. I don't want you to fall into despair."

He stared at the offered hand. "Mistress, don't mistake what I've said for despair."

With a step towards him, she nodded slightly. "It's clear that you're hurting. But your pain doesn't give you the right to harm others. Please understand that." If he wasn't going to take her hand, she decided to take his, and held it with a light touch. "Volo, I'd like for you to stay here for the next few days. I don't believe you're in any condition to be left alone, and I think our continued conversation will do you some good."

"Please don't do this," he muttered. "I don't want to hear it."

She gripped his hand a little tighter. "I know you don't. But I think you need to."

"Don't pretend to care." He again looked off, disgusted, but he didn't let go of her hand.

"I do care. And you're well aware that I do. You can't insist that you know the minds of others."

Volo shook his head, still averted from her. "I want to find Arceus. That's all I care about. I'll keep myself safe until then. Anything else would be self-defeating. Just stop it; this shallow pretense of yours..." But he finally squeezed her hand, just a little bit.

"Just a short time ago, you begged me as if I was Arceus itself, acting as though I had the secrets of the universe myself. Your mood has shifted far too much for me to trust that you'd be stable enough to return to the road. Please just stay the night. Dinner will be ready soon." She brushed her other hand against his face. "Volo, there are people who care deeply about you, and your pokémon certainly do. Please don't reject that."

"..." His expression grew dour, thoughtful for a moment, before replying. "...I'll stay until the morning. Admittedly I'm exhausted."

"Good!" She smiled brightly. "You can have the bed. I think you need it tonight. I'll be fine."

He put a hand over hers, lingering for a moment before gently prying her hand from his face, and pulling back his other hand from her grasp, but remained where he was. "You don't seem the sort to sleep on the floor, and neither of your chairs would be conducive to sleep."

Cogita laughed and resisted the urge to imitate his finger wag. "Why Volo, it sounds almost like you care about someone else."

"Finding answers is my life," he dismissed.

"Oh of course, how could I forget." Her tone was playful and light. "Now, would you mind stirring dinner again?"

"If you take the lid off too often, it won't heat properly."

"It's all right. I've made this same dish many times before and it's always turned out. You trust my counsel, after all."

"Please don't," he muttered, but did as she asked regardless.

He was quite a sight, she thought as she watched him at such a domestic task despite his elaborate outfit that echoed the creator itself, adorned with holy symbols and the like, and wondered how it would have looked if his hair was still up in the elaborate style that echoed Arceus's crest. She sat on the foot of the bed and allowed herself a moment that was just for her, despite her company. When she saw that he had replaced the lid, she gestured for him to sit at the desk chair again.

Even after doing so, Volo sat in silence, staring off at nothing for a bit. After a few minutes, or what seemed like it, he asked "Mistress, earlier when you told me your story, you spoke of my love for Arceus. But a moment ago, you doubted that it could be love at all. Why?" This contradiction didn't seem to anger him like others had.

She leaned back, her own gaze falling up at the ceiling, and she supposed she was looking at the sky beyond it just as he had earlier. "Whatever your feelings truly are, you believe they're love. And I suppose that's all that mattered. For the purposes of the story, of course."

"Of course..." he echoed softly before lapsing into silence again.

Cogita decided to buffer the subject matter with something more idle. "How is the soup looking?"

Volo looked up at her. "Is that what it's meant to be? It's far too thin to be a proper soup."

"Like I said, it always comes out fine. It's something I make when the world doesn't make sense. Always brings me back to center."

He sighed, but it seemed more comical than before, at least to Cogita, as if he was exasperated rather than frustrated. "Whatever you say, mistress."

"Does that surprise you?"

"What?"

She leaned on her arm a bit. "That I find things not making sense."

Volo shook his head, long hair moving more than she would have thought at the gesture. "Everyone does."

"Mm. Your vision of me is hard to understand, but it's good that you see me as typical in some regards. After all, you haven't ever stopped calling me 'mistress' even when I tell you I'm just Cogita." She chuckled. "You wondered if I wasn't a god myself."

"You said that before. You've said it more than I did."

"It's not every day that I'm spoken of like that. It stood out to me." Sitting straighter, she looked him up and down. "On the subject of things that stand out, where did you get the idea for that outfit? It seems very familiar, almost nostalgic, but I can't think of anything specific. It's quite the distinctive look, though. You look priestly in an ancient way, but not any of our lineage."

He stood, suddenly seeming uncomfortable, and rubbed at an arm. "I don't want to talk about it. It's something Giratina told me of and that's all I'll say."

"It spoke to--ah, of course it did." Just as the other deities had spoken to the clan leaders. Cogita wished to ask them about the experience more in depth, and suspected Volo had already done so, but that he intended to keep what he had learned from them for himself. "I do wonder what that must have been like."

"Overwhelming." The terseness of his reply and averted gaze told Cogita that she likely shouldn't ask further. "Mistress, why do you harbor me?"

"Oh? You came to me in search of shelter, didn't you?"

Volo remained visibly agitated, but the change of subject seemed to have lessened it somewhat. "I came here to speak with you. When you weren't here, I nearly left, but I couldn't think straight."

She had her doubts that he could at that moment either, but it was moreso at least. "You're already doing better," she told him with a gentle smile. "When I arrived, you were..." No, best not speak of specific actions, "worlds away from being able to hold a proper conversation. And now you're here speaking to me like you used to."

He sat back down and let his head droop forward. "We can never go back to how things were, can we? I threw that away today."

It was the truth, naturally, but she still felt she had to keep his thoughts diverted. "Every day changes from the one before."

"It's too big to come back from."

"Is that why you think you have to leave? You're always welcome to share a cup of tea with me."

Volo glanced away for a brief moment before resting his head in his hands, covering his face. "Mistress, I would have wiped you out with the rest of the world. How do you still insist that your kindness towards me isn't artificial?"

As much as she wanted to keep him diverted, it was an unmistakable roadblock, both his distrust of kind intentions and what would have been the results of his actions. She, too, looked away, eyes falling towards the trailing vine of the chubane plant he had toyed with earlier. "Volo...I may never be able to convince you of my genuine feelings. You may always be plagued with doubt about the sincerity of others. And they will doubt you as well, as a consequence of your actions." It was harsh, but she had to say it, and was sure to follow it quickly. "And sometimes people may deceive you, or try to. But just as your joyful presentation wasn't always a mask, people will be genuine in their interactions towards you, just as they are with everyone else."

Not removing his hands, he shook his head. "That doesn't answer my question."

Ah, he wanted to know about her specifically, and that would require much more thought. "...what I know of you..." No, that wouldn't do. "I trust that..." That either. Nothing seemed to be suitable to say. He would have killed her in that zealous pursuit of answers. That was the truth, and it couldn't be ignored. After sitting in silence for far longer than either of them would have liked, she finally had to admit "I don't know. I don't know what to do about that. You tell me the truth of your intentions, and yes, it's upsetting to know that." The subject was uncomfortable, in a different way than everything else had been, and she shifted slightly, unconsciously, as if her muscles were trying to distract her mind somehow. "I've been concerned about you for a while now. I wish you had been honest with me."

"You would have stood in my way."

"Well, yes, naturally I would have and I said as much earlier. Hopefully I could have had this talk with you before things got so serious. But I do care about you. If I had known you saw the world so severely, I would have tried to intervene beforehand for your sake as much as anybody's."

By then he had stretched out, legs long in front of him and arms hitched to the side, and was again staring at the ceiling. "And you say you care. You say you would do this because you care."

She nodded. "Absolutely."

"You know there is only one way to truly stop me. Would you be able to do so?"

The implication sent a cold chill down her spine. "I don't think it would come to something so extreme. And before you ask me how I'm so confident in that, look at how we're talking calmly now. We're not exactly at each others' throats. We're sitting here having a polite conversation."

"After the fact. After I already failed."

"And yet you stated your intention to continue your mad quest. That hasn't stopped us from conversing as normally as we can."

He sighed, the slight shake of his head rustling his hair as it cascaded over the back of the chair. "So you intend to stand in my way through conversation." It wasn't a question but a flat observation. "And you also know that I'll leave soon."

She looked away, towards the stove, and hoped that if he was looking at her that her gesture could be covered as thinking of dinner. She doubted that he could truly achieve his aim. "I...believe you will come to change your mind. You will always seek knowledge. That much is clear." She folded her hands on her lap. "I will not doubt that you'll come to find answers for your burning questions. But what I do doubt is that your zeal will remain so inflamed. Some answers that you seek, Volo, lay inside you."

He rose his head for a moment to stare at her but rested it back. "Mistress, don't. Please don't."

"It's true though!" She still didn't look at him. "And I'll be here for you when you find those answers. Be they from yourself or from history."

"I know you will," he sighed. "Know that you may wait forever."

She shrugged, looking a bit offhanded compared to her usual upright demeanor. "I'll be here. That's all there is to it."

"Ugh..." He worked his way up a normal sitting position and glared at her, catching her gaze as well. "Mistress, you're as obstinate as I am, aren't you?"

"I must be. Because I'm not going to give up on you," she said with a smile.

"I'd love to know what goes in on your mind to think that I need to be saved from anything," he said with a faint smile. "If anything, you should be worried about Arceus."

"I have confidence that both of you will be all right."

He watched her, taking in her relaxed pose and manner, and sighed again. "Perhaps I'll never understand you. Even when I have Arceus at my command, even if I have to become a god myself, I will never understand you."

Back to 'if' now, she noted. "Some things are beyond anybody's comprehension. At least it makes sense for that to be the case. Otherwise, being a god would be terribly boring. If a god understood everything, there wouldn't be any fun in life."

"So you're telling me that I may not get the answers I seek even if I overthrow Arceus and take its place."

"Perhaps. But I'd also find it boring if I could never have a good meal every now and then." She gestured to the stove. "It should be ready by now. Please, join me."





She had only two bowls, the spare not with company in mind but in case the first wasn't clean. They didn't match, and neither did the plates or random tableware. Every piece was unique, Cogita would put it. It was sloppy, Volo would put it.

There wasn't much to look at once served. Dinner was boiled vegetables and the water they came in, and it was bland, utterly without any real taste. "I don't understand," Cogita murmured as she dragged her spoon around the bowl. "Everything usually tastes wonderful. I prepared it the same as always..."

"It's obvious to me," Volo chastised. "But I'll see if you can figure it out. In the meantime..." They were outside at the table again, so when he stood up, Cogita for just a moment feared he was about to leave. But instead, he headed for his discarded backpack and retrieved a large berry and some crunchy salt, and into the house for a brief moment to get the cutting board.

Of course, Cogita realized. "The Pixie Plate always gave everything such a wonderful flavor. No wonder the dish is so mistaken."

Volo minced up some of the berry and pressed down on it with the flat of the knife, drawing out some juices and letting them dribble into Cogita's bowl before adding the fruit, and powdered some salt across the top. "There. It should taste much better now."

She stirred the new ingredients in and took a sip. It was much more vibrant, the berry lending a sharp taste that wasn't too sweet, a little on the tart side, but it was mitigated by the savory salt. "Mmm. Thank you so much."

"I suppose that's a difference between us," he told her as he added the same ingredients to his own bowl. "You keep lore without thinking about it, reciting the same things. I learn how to apply information through usage."

Cogita hadn't been expecting him to use that against her. If anything, she had expected more mockery about her reliance on the Pixie Plate. But he had left an opening as well, and as they ate in relative silence, she tucked away the fact that he had aided her without hesitation. By the time she answered "Perhaps," well over a minute had passed since his remark and he didn't reply further.

He seemed distracted by his own thoughts, and she figured it would do well for him to have that moment, just so long as she could divert him if need be. Immediately after finishing, he headed to the stream to wash the bowl.

"Oh, you're welcome to more if you wish. You've had a taxing day and likely need to keep your strength."

"I'll be fine. Please don't affect concern."

Still with the denial. She was glad she finally had more tea, at least. The silence continued.



It was late evening, and Volo had taken a seat at the everpresent campfire. Cogita, another cup of tea in hand, sat next to him. "Are you sure you don't want any?"

"Maybe later. I want to think uninterrupted." Though then it seemed to dawn on him what she was doing. "You're sitting here with me? I would have thought you would have other priorities."

"You're rather the dominant force present here right now. It's a bit difficult to think of much else."

He looked over at her. "I meant your dress."

"Is that so? I have much shorter ones inside and yet I prefer to wear this long one that trails on the ground. By all rights it ought to be a mess, wouldn't you say?"

He seemed to be taking in her details before looking back towards the fire. "You must be a god, as I've said."

"I don't think you'd spend this much time with me if I was a god." She took a sip and he didn't say anything while she did, so she continued. "I've wondered though. What would our ancestors say? You prize our bloodline, after all. We've found ourselves in a fascinating position, in this distant era they could only dream of..."

Again he said nothing.

Cogita drew a bit closer to him, and rested a hand over his along the ground. "Volo. I know you'll leave. But I want you to return here someday. I want to speak with you after you've had some time for insight. After you've learned more of the world. Because I believe you can come to love it as much as I do. As much as the ancient Sinnoh people did."

He tried to ignore her gesture, even as she gave his hand a little squeeze. "...Mistress Cogita, I've made my intention clear. I need answers and I won't stop until I find them."

"You've already worn yourself out mentally." Another squeeze. "You need to think clearly before you continue any quest."

"I'm just tired. I'll be rested in the morning." He shook his head. "Please stop pretending as if you care."

Fine then. She drew her hand back. "I've wanted to ask you something. Or at least have you ask someone else something."

"I will not speak with the lost one."

Oh, that was a good idea. Cogita wished she had thought of that, even though he had already turned it down. But instead, it was time for her plan to go into action. "No, that isn't it. I want you to speak with one of your pokémon."

He slumped slightly, exhaling hesitantly. "Togekiss."

"You're a step ahead of me. Likely you know what I want you to ask it."

Wordlessly he stood and reached for Togekiss's ball, but stopped once he had it in hand, drawing it out in front of him but watching Cogita instead, seeming as if he was thinking of something to say before finally letting the fairy materialize.

Togekiss trilled and immediately butted against him, smiling broadly and trying to nuzzle his face. It seemed to be examining him at the same time.

He held a hand up to prevent the closeness. "Down please."

"I think Togekiss is trying to make sure you're all right. She's very insistent. But I still want you to ask the question." Cogita watched closely, and unlike before, she could see Volo's expressions as he interacted with his pokémon. She leaned forward as best she could to follow along.

But Volo remained silent, keeping his hand up and not addressing the need Togekiss seemed to have to interact with him. Eventually he let out "Please don't. I don't want to be disappointed."

"Lost one, please look at Togekiss. Do you see how excited she is that you're safe? The last she would have seen of you would be as she was knocked out in your battle. She would have seen you consumed by your zeal, and still she cares for you." Everything was as bright as day to Cogita, but still Volo denied it.

"It's not that she doesn't care," Volo told her, with some resignation to his voice. "It's that I...admit there's the possibility that she does."

He didn't want her to care? He didn't want her to care. Cogita's own warmth was something Volo saw as a front, a shield, a lie, but that Togekiss's affection may be genuine was somehow even worse. Suddenly the evening was a lot colder.

But Volo wasn't moving in any direction, staying almost locked in place. Even with the shadows across him from the campfire, his expression was visible, his eyes averted and mouth downturned. With every blink, his expression seemed to grow more dour, even if it was an optical illusion.

Finally, Cogita stood and approached, whispering "Volo..." to break him from his distraction. He snapped a bit to attention before falling back to his reverie. "Please, Volo..." She reached out a hand to his upheld one, drawing it towards Togekiss.

"Mistress, please..." he whispered as she placed his palm on Togekiss's face.

Togekiss trilled and leaned into the touch, as hesitant as its giver was.

Cogita withdrew her hold, giving Togekiss's cheek a gentle stroke as she did. "Volo, I'm sure you want to say something. Bring your heart to bear and understand that it's something wonderful."

As uncomfortable as he was, as much as he clearly wanted to avoid the issue entirely, he remained there. "Toge--...please think of everything you've done for me, everything with me, all the time by my side...I have never said that I wanted anything but an alliance."

But the fairy still looked happy, hanging on his every word.

Cogita retreated to the shadows, watching them still and hoping they would forget she was there. When Volo had conversed with Garchomp, neither was aware of her presence so they could talk openly, but it wasn't nearly as simple now. Not that it was simple to begin with.

As much as Volo was resisting, he continued once he seemed to feel Cogita wasn't hanging over his shoulder. "...Please, Togekiss, whatever you do, please don't tell me this."

And yet Togekiss continued to smile at him, chirping happily in a way he seemed to fully understand.

"You really think I'm your..."

The fairy nodded emphatically, anticipating the end of his sentence.

His hand balled up on her face but didn't move away. "Why would you ever want..."

Togekiss again butted against him, prodding at his chest. His hand fell away from its place.

"Did you ever consider," he asked with some astonishment to it, "that I might not return the belief?"

She shook back and forth, the negative gesture moving the fairy's full body.

"Heh, and your line can see into someone's heart, can't they?"

From where she was, Cogita was glad that Volo remembered that. The Togekiss line was famously empathic, in ways that other so-called happiness evolutions weren't. Others evolved when they themselves were happy, but Togepi evolved when it saw happiness in the trainer. It wasn't, to her knowledge, written down in the index the Survey Corp were working on, but it was well established in her own literature, alongside everything else she had been tasked to pass along. Perhaps, she mused, that was why it had taken her so long to be suspicious of Volo's actions, because she knew that his pokémon would have seen some spark within him she could believe in.

If he could believe in it too, of course. But then he was frozen in place by what seemed to be disbelief. "Togekiss, I never saw it as friendship. Only an alliance..."

The fairy refused to take Volo's answer, however, and nuzzled against him with a happy chirp.

Hesitantly, reluctantly, he wrapped an arm around Togekiss. "I wouldn't have thought..." he murmured. "And you've been by my side all this time. You believe that we can meet Arceus, that we can overcome it. I wonder," here he slid his other arm up, pulling the fairy close, "if I become a god, would that make you one as well?" The thought brought a faint smile to him, far from the zealous grin he'd borne earlier. "I rather like that thought. But what reason would you have for ever wanting to be my friend? You couldn't have known in advance that you would be rewarded like that. What would there be in it for you?"

Against his chest, Togekiss shook back and forth again. That wasn't what this was about, she made clear.

He fell silent, taking in what the fairy was communicating to him, and squeezed it a little tighter. Occasionally he would seem as if he was about to speak, but in all cases choked back his words, standing in a halted embrace with the creature that adored him more than anything. Finally, after what felt far longer than it had been, after what seemed the longest part of an excruciatingly long day, he cleared the silence, speaking faintly, directly to Togekiss.

Cogita couldn't discern the words, but whatever he had said had made the fairy very happy indeed, and she could only imagine that it was some sort of apology. Perhaps, she reasoned, that was her own wishful thinking, but it felt appropriate with everything that had happened. Something along those lines. Perhaps it was only her own bias that made her want it to be so, but it seemed right, after everything that had happened. If she was wrong, she didn't want to imagine it. Maybe, she thought, she should establish it a little further.

Volo whispered to Togekiss again, but it was cut off by the sudden surprise of finding Cogita's hand on his shoulder. "Mistress, this is a private moment."

She briefly squeezed his shoulder before pulling back. "I'm sorry too," she murmured, and realized too late that she had phrased it poorly.

He shook his head. "Please don't listen in. Go inside. I'll join you when I'm ready."

Had that confirmed that he had said what she thought, or was it merely coincidence? No matter. She followed his instructions, and unlike before, left him and his pokémon alone with only each other, fully closing the door with no intent to spy.

Inside, she sighed heavily and poured herself another cup of tea. There were always enough teacups, always enough tea, even if she couldn't access her always hot teapot earlier. She'd ask to use his sleeping bag, and if he refused she could always sleep at her desk. She had done so before, when her studies had lasted for days at a time. It seemed that those days had returned; in the wake of this new calamity, there would be much to study. She would contact the lost one, the other one, the child, and they could work together. Especially if the woeful Giratina was the next target to be surveyed. If anybody could capture it, something even Volo hadn't managed, it would be the one who bested it and convinced it to leave its summoner behind.

But she wished she could study Volo as well. There was so much to be learned from him as well. How he had been able to access the world on the reverse side of Hisui--or was it on the reverse side of the entire world?--and not only stand before the renegade but beseech it to join his mad quest...the very idea was fascinating.

Had he always been so utterly lost? As long as she had known him, he had seemed earnest, though wanting to do as little work of his own as possible. He would pour over books, but wanted the knowledge of others. Imagining him uncovering the secrets of the renegade on his own was an unusual thought, but he had done so. None of that knowledge had been preserved, at least none that she was aware of. If it existed, she wanted to know it too, and for a moment, Cogita wondered if it would be as tempting to her as it had been to him, the irresistible call of the void, of something so unstable that it couldn't exist amidst reality, and yet it had, even if its very presence had shaken what remained of the Temple of Sinnoh.

Cogita thought perhaps it was unsuitable to draw parallels between Volo and the renegade, but she couldn't help it, as distant as those parallels were. He wasn't isolated, but he believed he was, as little sense as that made to her. And lonely beings sought each other, especially beings united by their seeking answers from the same being. She wondered if the renegade had understood why it was being punished. Even a god was still a pokémon, and they varied wildly in their comprehension of the world around them.

What had it done to be banished? She had thought before that it was punished for the destruction of the Celestica people, but none other than Volo himself had pointed out that their statue of it was already apart from the others. Even if it had been the one to destroy them, they had already regarded it with apprehension. Even though they had still built a statue to it, it was held in a far different view than Dialga and Palkia. And being apart from them, isolated on a cliff, likely indicated that it had already been banished. Yet they had enough information on it to build a likeness, one that didn't seem to be guesswork.

But her thoughts were interrupted by the door closing. Volo entered alone, and didn't seem to have his pokeballs with him. For a fleeting moment she felt a chill, recalling his earlier words to Garchomp about possibly releasing them, and that he was wiping away a tear didn't help that perception, until he spoke.

"She's going to get some sleep. We have an early day ahead of us."

We. Good. She rose from her chair and took in the sight of him, so similar to how he had looked when she had first seen him earlier, disheveled and emotionally wrought, but there was something stronger in him this time.

"Mistress..." he beseeched without looking at her, "tell me a story."

Even the request, though the same from earlier, didn't have the desperation of something to cling to. She smiled with relief. "Once, not long ago, but longer ago than it may seem, there was a woman, a lorekeeper of ancient blood, who had been given a task of utmost importance."

A faint smile crossed his face but vanished quickly, his expression falling into thoughtfulness as he took in her words.

She continued. "The task was to speak to one who had fallen from the sky, but she had been told that it wouldn't happen yet. So the woman waited, and waited still. Eventually she met a young man, one enamored with the legends she kept, who sought her council." Taking a step forward, she watched his reaction, but he remained where he was. Another step. "The young man, another of the woman's ancient bloodline, was brash and spirited, and wanted to know everything of the world. Not only what she had to offer, but everything beyond, and he often got her to think of things in ways she wouldn't have considered."

Volo wiped at his eyes again and finally looked at her, seeming almost hopeful.

"But the young man had stories of his own." She offered a still-bare hand. "And many of them. He had explored other legends, ones that the woman believed long ago lost. She would have gladly shared them, if he had offered them." Cogita's smile shifted, expressing regret, but was still distinctly a smile. "She would have gladly shared much with him."

This time, Volo met her eyes, and stepped forward himself to take her hand. There was an uncommon warmth to it that had little to do with temperature. "Mistress..."

"The world was changing around them both. The woman had kept her duty, but when the one who had fallen from the sky appeared, what was she to do? The role she was meant to play was over." Nothing on her face betrayed what she was thinking, if she was regretful or joyful or anything between. Instead she only clasped his hand between hers and brought it to her heart. "She would live as herself, giving all she could to the region she loved, the region of her ancestors, the region of legends and gods."

His other hand came to her face and again he murmured "Mistress..."

The touch didn't surprise her as much as she would have thought. "Her story, as with his, is still being written." She smiled softly at him. "I asked you not to call me that."

"Cogita." The whispered name hung in the air for a second as he bent in a little towards her, and after a moment more, they moved in to kiss.

She released his hand and moved an arm to behind his back, the other to his waist, and pulled him in closer. Her vision of him had changed much just in one day, and it was changing ever still. Regardless of what else there was to him, at the moment he was someone who needed closeness, and she felt an odd pride that he had trusted her so much. Breaking the kiss but only pulling back about an inch, she said "I'm glad you decided to stay the night. I think it will be good for both of us."

He kissed her again and she could tell he was smiling. "You know I'll still leave in the morning."

"You'll return. I know you will, in time." The hand that had been at his waist came up to toy with his hair, the side lock that hung over his eye. "I feel better about letting you leave than I did earlier. You've already learned so much..."

Her hand still on his back could feel him tense up at that. "Ssshh...please don't," he murmured, "please don't..."

"All right. Tell me what you want me to do." She rubbed at his back and let her other hand fall to his shoulder.

After a moment of thought, Volo traced up the side of her face with the usual teasing finger, and started to push her hat away, slowly, testing her reaction to it and only continuing when he saw her eyes narrow with a sly smile. "Cogita...I want you to take control. I want to understand why you have such faith in me. I want you to guide me."

Any number of commands came to her mind, the temptation present to misuse that power for something he didn't intend. She could tell him to stay, but knew he would refuse. She could tell him to turn himself over to the authorities, but he recognized none of them. She could tell him to give up his mad quest, but that would be a fool's errand. Whatever he was looking for was something between only them, something only they could share. And in that moment, with just the two of them present in the entire world, she wanted the same thing. Wordlessly, she nodded and took his hand again, and gently led him to the bed.




The first thing Cogita noticed when she woke was that she was alone. True to his word, Volo had left with the new day, and with her late waking hour, it was impossible to tell how long he had remained. He had drifted off with his head on her chest, listening to her heartbeat, and her with her hand threaded through his hair, and now all of it was a distant memory.

She wanted to think that perhaps he was just outside, but knew that wasn't the case, as much as she wanted to see him seated at the table, teacup in hand. It wouldn't come to pass, and the knowledge left a melancholy air to the waking day. With a deep sigh, she nestled further under the covers, taking the opportunity to think of everything. She had to let him go, because there was no way he would stay, and she had to have faith in him that he had learned to do better. If not by himself, then by his pokémon. They would remind him that he was truly loved, and he could never pretend that it was untrue. He couldn't deny it any more, she knew.

When Cogita finally left the comfort of the bed, she put on the dress she had bought in the village a few days before. The day seemed special enough for it, even though it would be the first uneventful day in quite some time, and perhaps that was enough. Her hat rested on a bedpost, and she left it where it was, going without it for the first time in a while, but she included her Celestica pendant and let it hang visibly on the chain rather than obscuring that element within her collar.

As she turned to make some tea, thinking of the cup she had made the night before that she didn't get a chance to drink, she saw a note on her desk.

The address caught her eye, because "Mi" had been written and scratched out, followed by simply "Cogita". She smiled sadly at the familiarity of it all, something she had asked him for and was finally granted only for time to continue regardless.

/Cogita:

Giratina spoke to me again. It wishes for the lost one to approach it. Somehow I don't feel angry at this and I think that's due to your intervention. It also seems that you were correct, that it didn't truly abandon me.

I'm glad you didn't either. I don't think I could have come this far without you, including yesterday.

I intend to speak with their professor. He seems a reasonable sort. In some ways he reminds me of you, and I hope he hears me out as you did.

But I also doubt that you'll see me again. That is, I doubt that I'll return to you. I planned it earlier, only now, I say so with regret. I didn't think I would, before we talked. If I do come back, it won't be for some time. This is a journey I have to take--

...I nearly wrote "alone". But I have you to thank for that realization as well. I have you to thank for a lot of things, and I honestly can't ever repay you.

I still intend to pursue the answers I seek. Even if it takes me centuries, I can't accept not knowing. It isn't what you want to hear, I know, but I doubt you would have taken me on and taught me so much if you believed that I would give up that easily.

Thanks to you, however, I'm much calmer now, and can think with greater clarity. I still carry a great and heavy devotion, and my path may lead me to ruin, but it's not for your lack of effort. Whatever becomes of me now, know that I will look back on my days with you with joy.

There is something I wish for you to have, to give to whoever you wish should bear it. You'll find it at your usual spot.

Maybe I'll return someday. If I do, I want to hear who you gave it to.

Your faithful pupil
-V/


Cogita closed her eyes, a gesture that shook loose a few welling tears, and folded the letter carefully before putting it in a drawer for safety. She knew she would likely read it many times over in the time ahead.

Outside at the teapot, the chain forming a neat nest for it, was the teardrop shaped pendant he had worn, nearly identical to her own. With a gentleness that the metal didn't need, she picked it up and pressed it to her heart. Whoever she would bestow such a treasure to would need to be somebody of utmost importance, but she considered the possibility that it may be fated to belong to somebody who didn't yet exist.

Setting the pendant back down, she poured a cup and stared out idly across the yard and down the long pathway, though there was nobody and nothing there to see for the time being. The teapot, like her, was always there, always waiting for whoever had need.
 

Joshthewriter

Charizard Fan
Location
Toronto
Pronouns
He
Well I’ve given you my thoughts on discord, but I figured a more public place would be better for the love this fic deserves.

Let me be completely honest here. This story blew my headcanon out of the water. It’s so good, such a perfect endcap to Volo’s story that I now look at this as the true “ending”.

Volo himself… he‘s such a complex character. Its difficult sometimes to portray someone as both conflicted and completely sure of themselves. You did a top-tier job though. Especially with the evolution you showed in Volo throughout the fic. You perfectly showed the pent up rage and frustration slipping away to reason as the fic goes on. He’s still set in his mind and his beliefs, but he’s less… hot about it, if that makes sense?

His relationship with his team as well, was adorable (particularly togekiss and the “private moment”). Honestly I wanted more interaction with his team a bit (especially on this read), but that’s probably just me enjoying the dynamic and wanting more of it.

A shame I‘ve been too busy to read many more of your stories. If this is anything to judge by, I’ll have to read some more!
 

Blackjack Gabbiani

Merely a collector
Pronouns
Them
Partners
  1. shaymin
Aww, thank you so much! I had fun writing it, and it was very rewarding.

Volo is, of course, very similar to Cyrus, who I also adore, so getting into his head was familiar. Not exact, of course, since Volo is a lot more openly and outwardly emotional while Cyrus tries to bury his emotions, and they would likely despise the other. But it still gave a sense of familiarity to the situation he finds himself in, something I've mulled over many times.

When I did the Giratina mission, it was the next in-game day after the summit, so when Laventon said Volo had spoken with him and gave the impression that Volo had calmed down considerably, I wondered what could have happened in such a short time to quell his zeal so quickly. That's not the sort of breakdown you can turn the corner from right away, so I figured something had to have intervened. Plus I has gotten the impression from their designs that he and Cogita both had to be Cynthia's ancestors and was a bit confused when Cogita seemed to just brush him off when you speak to her at the base. She did look regretful at least, but a lot of this fic had to be centered on getting HER to change her view as well as on changing Volo's mindset.

I'm glad you like it! Out of curiosity, what was your headcanon prior to this?
 

Joshthewriter

Charizard Fan
Location
Toronto
Pronouns
He
Basically that Volo went off and got himself disappeared into the Distortion world eventually. Which doesn’t contradict your story, but yours had so much more thought and care put into it that it completely blows my ”he Cyrus’d himself“ headcanon out of the water.

I did figure that he was a Cynthia ancestor though. And Cogita’s design feels very similar as well. Makes me thing someone at GameFreak had the same idea you did and wanted to hint at the two of them as a pairing. But it’s like you said, she’s very dismissive of him and it kinda cast doubt on that idea.
 

Blackjack Gabbiani

Merely a collector
Pronouns
Them
Partners
  1. shaymin
Haha, if you watch my playthrough I was very confused at how dismissive Cogita was when you talk to her in the Galaxy base. Honestly it didn't even match her prior behavior, even with her kinda acting like she wasn't taking him seriously. So she goes from thinking he's a slacker to taking this news that he just tried to kill God in stride as if it was somehow expected? It was a very strange scene, especially how she then launches us into a quest to find even more legends. Like "oh yeah learning all this stuff mentally destroyed my previous pupil but YOU'LL be ok" and I was like whaaaa...

And then like half the fanbase seems to think she's his grandmother or something and I can't figure that out either. Not only do they not interact in a way that would indicate that, she also didn't read to me as being all that old.
 

Umbramatic

The Ghost Lord
Location
The Yangverse
Pronouns
Any
Partners
  1. reshiram
Here for a belated Catnip! Also ignore I haven't gotten to this point in Legends yet, shhh, I've been spoiled for it several times over. This is also ironically, I believe, the first Legends fic I've read.

So it's fitting it's Volo Goes To Therapy ft. Cogita.

We start with Cogita going "I wonder what Gano- Volo's up to" and promptly finding him crying his eyeballs out. She then takes it upon herself to adopt him like a lost misbehaving puppy and yes, give him therapy.

This involves a lot and I mean a LOT of philosophical discussions between the two of them, but this isn't a bad thing - This gives a lot of good juicy, meaty insight into both their characters that's fun to watch.

Also the ABSOUTUTELY FUCKING ADORABLE Garchomp and Togekiss interactions were a highlight for me, they were so cute, Volo's mons love him very much even though he's a stinky man. Love the note on how Togepi line is different from other happiness evos too.

The one thing that confuses me slightly is the shippy bit. But it's mostly a me thing in thinking a Volo/Cogita ship makes more sense if they're both Weird Immortals as canon from my understanding kind of implies they are but your AN seems to imply Cogita isn't? IDK.

But at the end Volo leaves but sends a letter indicating he may have become a better person at the end of all this??? And Cogita is like "mission accomplished" and it's sweet.

Overall a very intresting character study of both Cogita and Volo! Nice job with both characters.
 

Blackjack Gabbiani

Merely a collector
Pronouns
Them
Partners
  1. shaymin
Aww shucks thank you!

Nothing in canon implies that Volo is immortal. I think that idea comes from something he says at the end, about how he intends to continue his plan even for centuries. But he could be speaking hyperbolicly, or maybe he plans to duck into the Distortion World to wait things out, who knows.

Also the shippy stuff is because I seriously think they've got to be Cynthia's ancestors.

Thank you for reading and reviewing!
 

K_S

Pokémon Trainer
A bit early but think of this as a birthday gift...

Line by line reaction

Posted only here because ao3 really doesn't like me.

I’ll admit walking in I am a bit behind and haven’t played the game yet. But I trust your narrative skills to guild me though, we’ll see how it goes.



To quote Ron here, it’s not as impressive as I thought it'd be (speaking of worlds shattering heroics). Cognita and Ron could probably make a club to compare their experiences. I’d say she was reading all the wrong books with her hypothesis but considering the time stamp of the tale… let’s say she has an advanced literary imagination and at least didn’t go “dark stormy night” territory.

Now normally in the ‘mon game it’s someone coming from out of town… (alpha/sapphire, the sun/moon sword/shield) I think diamond/pearl was one of the few that had it be a homegrown hero/local… so does that mean all locals of Shinnoh get a free crack at taming a Legend? I imagine there’d be a lot more young trainers in that region if that was the case.

Cognita’s in a particular position, realizing that she knew enough to be leery but not enough to know why… that’s probably not as uncommon after the fact but still… I wonder if she’d know what to do with him after he a) revealed his multifacetedness to her and b) nearly caused the end of all that they knew to forward his own goals.

Then she all but trips into him. The anti-crash hello.

So he just… threw his backpack and gauging by the thud afterwards figures he caught a Cognita… I know that’s not how it went down but considering one of the Legends mechanics is tossing bait/scent/rocks at wild ‘mon who’d of thought it round about works on people.

It’s less the sight of the fallen god and more the crater they make on impact… mild paraphrase from paradise fallen but still same idea.

I’m guessing the setting precedes the little red hen, hopefully Volo will take the hint here…

Loyalties? Cognita’s appealing to the baseline compassion by offering him hydration and possibly her own safety by offering him low grade anti-anxiety herbal supplement? Not knowing how much he confided in her is a bit of a hindrance since it’s hard to splice the games tale from his delusions here… ah well…

Cognita’s trust in Volo’s motives rather than in Volo himself seems a bit lunacy. Granted she seems possessed enough to know how to twist out of the grip and clonk him with the kettle if he scales this up to assault… But Volo’s waffling between disappointment at having lost his bid at ultimate power (and Cyrus like goals), fury, and sulking as his three default moods, and he wants an audience… not the safest combination but we’ll see how this goes.

Really Volo’s pleas strike an awkward cord if “was I not good enough” and “was nothing good enough” which inspire empathy, but then considering his actions… yeah bit of mood whiplash there.

Really Cog’ picky much. Not cutting scheming overlord much in the way of mercy when they flake out on their chores upstairs, mind…

And his outrage/rant is why she should have stayed a bit out of easy grabbing range.

So Cog’ is indulging the Minerva McGonagall/Maggie Smith glower… better men have fallen before it. Granted her calm discourse/disapproval is probably the only thing keeping Volo from haring out into the woods and kicking up evil plan B at this point… And perhaps her tea… but really we’ll see how she can ground him if at all.

While Volos spoken claims, the wanting to know the why of human/existential suffering and making a stand against a seemingly higher power via its opposite force, and Cognita’s rebuttal of “yeah doubt HE knows too” I think they’re both skating over the obvious… that knowing why is only part of it. Doing something after that knowledge is gotten (besides hitting the giant delete button which seems to be Volo’s after party goal, though I wonder if that wasn’t influenced by his exposure to Giratina) would really be the end game. Neither one of them mentions that.


While I get the idea of “invoking one’s ancestors” is more of praying to them/higher power/for patience calm, perseverance, that sort of thing, I just have this image of her grumbling about Volo and her ancestors shaking their collective heads and rolling their eyes in response.

Hmm I wonder if Volo’s flattery and faulty perspective, that everything Cog’ touches has inherit meaning/worth is a roundabout apology? Granted I imagine Cyrus would react very much the same way as Volo if he caught Cynthia using the red chain as say.. a curtain cord, for her trophy rack or something.

Funny how neither Volo or Cognita notice that his relationship with the Original One is the same he has with her.

You know, cynically speaking, giving the Lost One the flute was a great way to bail out on any further appearances. Don’t want to show up for every disaster? Give your summoning token to someone who has NO clue and then let the humans deal with things on their own.

The downside with talking to someone who sees things within things and clause and cause from the almost random, they can leap to the weirdest conclusions and leave almost everyone scrambling behind to figure out what the heck happened.

Cognita’s method, of appealing to his request for distraction while building up the lore of the present situation is an interesting method… and also watching Volo start to lose his brains again during the process as he really doesn’t seem to be ok enough to get the honest truth from his ah… mentor… at this point in his life.

Volo: I know there’s a quick time skip button, it’s flashing in the bottom corner with a plus sigil besides it.

Cognita: I’ve no clue what you’re talking about. (drinks tea then talks slower to make a point)

Cog’s got a point this sounds like Volo’s shoving a lot of this on himself. Granted ambition leads itself to this, self-appointed goals can twist beyond a sane scope without anything to balance it out… and Volo’s choices seem to have left him with no one. And he’s somewhat aware of that, even as he self isolates. Or rather seems to make that his goal.

I like how she gently points that out to him, even if they both go a wandering into the occasional mental tangent.

In regards to him venting at his garchomp, I think it amusing how Volo misses the little things. In destroying the leaf… well almost destroying it but fixing it imperfectly he really is just mirroring the behaviors of so many Legends in a way. Setting the good aside, near destroying it in inattention, then trying to smooth it out and offering the flawed item later down the line.

Also, he’s sort of making a fundamental mistake about relationships. Garchomp may decide he’s friends with Volo. It’s mainly Garchomps decision more than Volos. Now whether it’s a healthy two sided event, that’s on both of them, but Garchomps made up his mind and I get a sense Volo’s going to have to deal with it for now.

Imagining Giratina acting like Volo’s garchomp is quite the mental image. I think I’m blue screening alongside Cog' here.

And my kneejerk reaction is to say that if the war and tribes springing up was due to the whole “which legend is the real legend” argument is “how stupid could you be”… but then a glance at any history book, specifically on the topic of religious conflict, and yeah I can see it happening. I’m shocked Volo didn’t rip his hair out in sheer aggravation really, that must have smacked all his buttons (Arceus fanaticism, factual perfectionism, things making sense, etc) and I'm honestly shocked he didn't crack much faster all things considered.

My vote is for despise, after all Volo seamlessly BFFed with Arceus’ antithesis, but that’s just my humble opinion.

Or love-hate… that could be an answer too.

Cog’s got a point, pointing out his cherry picking data cropping tendencies, if the “universal” truth (42 right?) doesn’t appeal to him Volo is the type to tear it apart and replace, or ignore it. He’s not quite ready to deal with the enormous scope of… well what he’s after, and his own limitations derail how he could deal with it. Whether it’s natural human limitation or just a personality flaw on Volo’s part (or both) is something for the philosophers, but she’s got the baseline down pat. If he can’t deal with reality as it is without cherry picking it how is he going to deal with things bigger when he ascended.

Seriously if they’d had this talk a bit before so much would have been derailed. Granted she'd have to catch him on a low ebb of his manic cycle. But the whole plot of Volos betrayal feels like it could have been derailed or at least scaled down to a saner scale if only….

But then Cyrus’ own family said something to that effect in platinum.

I’m also noticing he’s calming a little, less rabid. Still would not get in touching range though…

I’ve seen Volos outfit and it give me flashbacks to Yggdrasil from TOS I’m thinking it was less “suggestion” and more prank than anything else.

Interesting use of dishware to show Cognita’s more of a glass full and Volos more glass empty sort of person, still someone doesn’t acquire glassware in that way unless they aren’t planning on being solitary, which makes her gentle pokes as Volos own cutting of social ties a bit… less solid.

Using a legendary item as a seasoning… I’m surprised Volo isn’t strangling as the realization is settling in. Granted the bad-tasting food might be slowing the impulse down. From a future away in the distortion realm I can hear Cyrus screaming in his stoic understated way.

Considering Volo’s hostility towards the ‘mon main god Arceus, Cog’s got a point. Volo’d likely not stick around with her if she was ascended. Might even begin to hate her in all honesty.

Kinda another indicator that he’s more Gitina’s chosen than Arceus’. You know running with that theory I wonder if Giratina’s wardrobe choice for Volo was less revenge prank and more to soothe it’s loneliness. After all before the split and Gir's fell they were likely close… And having a partner attired like that was something like familiarity…

Might be other thinking it though.

The interaction between Volo and Togikiss is rather funny. A more cuddly mirror to him and Garchomp… and the significance of his ‘mons loyalty is skating almost violently over Volos head and pulling triple axels…

At this point I vote Volo find the ‘mon’s world river of de Nile and set up a fishing stand… wonder if there’s such a place in the flip side as it were.

And we’re back to stories again I see. As the last was of the past perhaps this one will be hopes for the future.

Raises eyebrow. Well, I wasn’t expecting things to take that turn. Smooth bail out on how ah… intimate they were and avoiding all the rank raising details… And I swear I’ll stop. I will say… perhaps out of most of the outcomes… this one where they sleep together was one of the more morally grey ones and one I wasn’t expecting. It feels like an abuse of power of Cog over Volo as there were so many ways his “request” cold have been interpreted. But those are my raised hackles and it’s my issue and not a deal-breaker for this tale. Just… surprising… all things considered.

Hm so that’s how it ended. Well it was a fitting note from him to her… He's calmed, if only a little bit, and what happens is in his hands more than anything else I guess which is probably the most realistic ending for his arch all told...

I'll admit in closing not knowing the cast horribly well did put a damper on this fic as I had to listen to a few plot breakdowns and analyses to get everything. Which I did post facto to see how it stood on its own. All told you did carry most of the tale very well but some of the emotional umph was lost considering my distance from the original source material. Despite my own weakness coming in, I did feel for Volo. And despite disliking her last actions, Cog' as well. Both felt real to their situations, the scenario was carried well, and going from "who are these people" to wishing them well (and some sanity point acquisition for one specific soul) and wondering what happened after, it's quite the feet.

Thanks for sharing this tale.

KS
 
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Blackjack Gabbiani

Merely a collector
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  1. shaymin
Thank you for reading! Yeah I feel like this is best for people who've played the game to that point, but I'm glad it could be understood without that much.
 

Umbramatic

The Ghost Lord
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  1. reshiram
This is late and I've been meaning to do it a long while but FANART! Togekiss make great emotional support pillows

volo_cry_togekiss.png
 

Blackjack Gabbiani

Merely a collector
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  1. shaymin
!!!!! That's awesome! Thank you so much! I love it!
 
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