Love and Sacrifice: All hell breaks lose

Blade looked at the 'Xero' system, delicately turning the two parts over in his hands. "Are you ready?" He asked his steelix. It had taken him a long time to not only figure out the system, but to find the parts to build it. As far as he knew, this was the only existing model.

The pokemon nodded slowly, lowering its head down to Blade's level. The hybrid had explained that this new metal thing would join their minds and help them fight better, but the pokemon could not understand how their minds could be joined as they were not psychic. But Sahn trusted Blade.

"This might hurt..." He warned the steelix, placing the tiny attachment right between the first joint of the pokemon's neck. Its eyes widened in pain, then shut tightly, before it shook its head a little and nodded again. "You okay?"


"Good." Carefully, Blade placed his part behind his left ear, doing his best to conquer the pain and not black out. He had never felt anything like that before, like his mind was being picked to pieces and rearranged. When it was done, he too shook his head, trying to adjust his thoughts. "Alright Sahn, this is it." Picking up the controller, he took a deep breath. "Ready?"


Blade pressed the button. Again, Hybrid and pokemon went through similar jolts of pain, except this time they let loose tortured screams. How did such a level of pain exist?

"Uhn..." Blade slowly lifted himself from the ground, trying to hold his head still with one hand. The aftershock faded rather quickly, and he looked at his pokemon with blank, empty, yet somehow determined, mercury eyes. "Let's go."



*Hello?* Shadow peered at the vid-screen.

*Umm, hi Shadow!* Merideth's face popped up on the screen. Noticing his slightly sleepy expression, she winced slightly. *Sorry, forgot you sleep in the day.*

*I don't mind.*

*Oh...Well....Oh yeah! I was wondering, have you heard from Blade recently?*


*Oh...* She said again, all cheerfulness in her expression disappearing. *I haven't heard from him for weeks, and his sister said he was working on something called the... Zero system, and-*

*The Xero system?* Shadow interrupted. *Are you sure?*

*Yup. But anyway, I haven't heard from him, so if you do, could you tell him to call me? I'm really worried. His father died recently, and he's been going through a lot of stress. And he's been acting really weird...* Realizing that she was rambling and that Shadow probably knew already, Merideth stopped right there. *Well, bye!* She cut off the link.

/The Xero system... How did Blade get a hold of those files?/ Shadow released his pokemon. "We need to find the steel hybrid. He built a Xero System."

The two nodded solemnly. After their last discussion with the dark hybrid, they had stopped any unnecessary talk with him, realizing that he would not listen. Their relationship was strictly business, nothing more.

He recalled them, and was about to slip out of his room when Kenji and Indenki appeared at the door.

"Going somewhere?" Indenki asked.

"I need to find Blade." Somewhat wary, but not showing it, Shadow looked at the two. Indenki's overall expression was unreadable, but his eyes were grim, and somewhat disturbed. Kenji was outwardly upset. "What happened?"

"Swift just contacted us. He's on his way here as soon as possible, along with Aita. It seems Blade has been attacking civilian settlements, as well as Y-Faction bases." Indenki frowned a little now.

"In other words, he's been destroying everything in his path," Kenji added, folding his arms across his chest.

For a split second, Shadow's mask fell and disbelief could be seen in his eyes. "Blade? That's not the Blade I know..."

"Yeah well, whether he's the one you know or not, we have to do something about him." Kenji idly kicked against the doorway with the heel of one of his feet. "We can't have him doing that. Civilians don't think well enough of us as is."

Shadow nodded slowly, still a bit confused. Were they all talking about the same person? Why on earth would... The Xero system. The dark hybrid's ears pressed against his head and his tail froze.

"You and I will go and investigate." Indenki directed at Shadow. He noticed a change in the older hybrid's attitude, but decided they could discuss it later. "Kenji can stay behind and keep track of Arasia while we're gone."

"Okay," Kenji replied, looking up from the floor.

"We need to leave now though. We'll take my zapdos again."


"JOSEPH!" Squeezing herself out of a hole in the round, Erian ignored the dirt covering her and ran over to her brother, oblivious to the battles going on all around. "Joseph..." Kneeling by his side, she dusted off her hands, then took one of his in hers, squeezing it tightly. "Joseph-sama, you'll be alright. Just hold on."

They had been fighting against a Y-Faction base, struggling to keep it from completely taking over their region, but they were losing, and they were losing badly...

"What was that you called me?" Her older brother asked, his brown face strangely pale and drained of blood, blood that was pouring out of the gash in his back that had him paralyzed from the waist down. The savage dodrio that had attacked him now lay dead a few feet away from the siblings. "You never used that high a level of respect with me... Why now?"

Tears streaked down her lightly furred face, and she inched closer to him, laying her head on his chest and ignoring the blood seeping into her protective leather vest. "Because I love you. You're my whole family, you're all I've got. Please don't leave me..." Her keen ears could hear his heartbeat fading in his chest as it struggled to pump the little blood he still had through his body.

"Erian, I love you too, and you're all my family... But you can't fix the wound." He lifted his free hand and stroked her hair tenderly. "Be strong Erian, be strong. They succeeded in you where they failed in me. You are the right hybrid for the job. I was just here to train you."

She lifted her head from his chest and looked into his deep brown eyes. "No! You *are* here to train me! You will be! Don't die on me Joseph!"

His eyes closed, and he took a deep breath.

"NO! Joseph!" She shook his shoulders lightly.

"What?" He replied feebly, a small smile on his lips. "I need to rest..."

"No you don't! Stay with me!" She picked up his right hand again, squeezing it harder. "Please don't leave me alone Joseph. Don't leave me..." Sobbing softly, she tried to will him to stay alive, for all the world seeming like a little lost sandshrew.

"Adios... Erian. Kill those f**king b*stards for me..." It would be the first, and last time Erian would hear her older brother swear in front of her, for right then and there, he opened his eyes one last time to look at her, smiled proudly, his eyes radiating all the love and respect he held for his little sister, then closed them, a peaceful, joyful look passing over his face as he took his last breath, and died.

"No..." Was all she could utter, the salty tears flowing freely from her soft brown eyes, blinding her as she retracted her digging claws. Sniffling, she kissed her brother on his cheek, and gently caressed that spot before standing and commanding a soldier to leave the battle and take her dead brother's body with him to be buried. /Joseph, I *will* kill those b*stards, if it's the last thing I do./

Blind with rage and sorrow, two overwhelming and controlling emotions, Erian rushed into battle, disregarding everything she had learnt about defending herself and killing carefully. She was berserk; all she cared about was killing, killing the ones that had brought about her brother's death. In her detached from life state, she only noticed from a distance when she was paralyzed by a vileplume, and she only barely acknowledged her being dragged away by Y-Faction troops, swearing and screaming like a banshee. And she did not even really feel it when they drugged her, putting her in a dull, sleepless state so that they could imprison her without resistance. All she knew was that Joseph was dead, and that she too was alone.


Two days later.

"F***ing h*ll!" Xeth swore loudly, his tail burning with a bright and angry flame. Merideth's plan of switching pokemon had worked, but only for a little while. Yiana Naventa was smart, too smart, and she had caught on quickly, adjusting her troops. No matter how much they changed, she would have a new troop ready to defeat them. Rapidly, Corse was being taken over, and Merideth, Devin, Tevix, and Xeth had been moving closer and closer to the middle of the large continent, slowly having to withdraw from the resources of the areas closer to the coast.

It was in the middle of a battle, and Xeth's energy reserves were running low. When he had playfully explained to Kenji that he needed to eat a lot because he was a fire hybrid, he had not been joking. Food was his fuel, and he needed lots of it not only to keep his tail-light, his life source, still burning, but to use the powerful fire attacks he had been using. Recently, they had been short on food, and what they had was of extremely low quality.

"D*mnit..." He put out his tail flame so as to conserve energy. Xeth could survive for five agonizing hours without it, but then after that, his life would slowly start to fade. "Fire-spin!" Swirling pillars of flame shot out at an advancing amphoros, causing it to squeal in pain and attempt to retaliate with a lightning attack that Zeth's rapidash swiftly deflected.

"I owe you one," he thanked the pokemon, watching as his charizard swooped down into the chaotic jumble of Y-Faction and resistance troops, picking up an enemy soldier and using seismic toss on him, the fall to the ground instantly killing the human. "Go wreck a little havoc in there. I can handle myself," he told the Rapidash.

Worriedly, it started to leave, but then glanced at Xeth over its shoulder. "Dash? Rapidash?"

"Yeah, go ahead. I can watch my back myself."

Reluctantly, the horse pokemon rushed into battle, crushing enemy pokemon and humans alike with its diamond hard hooves. But Xeth was not able to watch his back just as well as he had told his pokemon, and in the midst of launching a flamethrower attack, a vaporeon got him from behind, drenching him in cold water. Before he could so much as blink, the world blanked out, and he felt nothing.


Three days later. ---------------------------

Restlessly leaning against Swift's back, Aita tightened her grip around her articuno, for while she was bored, she was also painfully aware of the fact that they were several feet above the ground, and that if she slipped, there was a chance that Swift or the articuno might not catch her in time to save her. "Do you have any idea what's wrong with Blade?" Aita yelled against the roaring wind .

"What?" He yelled back, letting himself fall to her side.

She repeated her question, carefully removing a lock of her pale white hair from her mouth when she was done.

"I have absolutely no idea. It's not his nature to be this violent." Was his reply, followed by a sort of shrug. He blinked, then peered down at the world below them. "I think we're getting near where we're supposed to meet with Indenki and Shadow."

Aita sighed in relief, thankful that they would finally get to touch ground and stay there.

"Not the flying sort, huh?" He asked wryly, noting her relieved expression.

"Only sometimes." She answered. She was not sure if he heard her because they started their downwards decent and the wind rushed past their ears loudly. Shutting her eyes against the painful sting of the wind, she waited to reach the ground. Never had Aita thought she would be so glad to see grass again.


"They're here," Indenki informed Shadow, emerging from the makeshift hideout they had created.

Climbing swiftly up a tree, Shadow watched as the two other hybrids started to land. He leapt down from the branch he perched on as soon as they had nearly touched the ground, and walked over to where they would land.


Aita brushed off her tail, then her clothes. Her ears picked something up, and she looked into the bushes. "Looks like we're not gonna have to look for them."

Folding his wings, Swift looked over to where she had been staring, and saw Shadow and Indenki emerging from the bushes. "Do we go after him tonight?"

"Hai," Indenki replied.

"Nani?" Shadow asked, for originally, they had not decided on a day.

Indenki nodded, then turned to the other two. "We created a safe enough place where we can rest, then at around nine at night, we will head for the area where Blade was last seen."

"Sounds like a plan," Swift replied, stretching his arms. "Got any food?"

Shadow blinked once, then looked pointedly at a wild rattata that was foraging around.

Aita paled a little, her skin going even whiter than it had been before, and she swallowed forcefully. Unlike some of the other hybrids, she had never been so far from shelter on a mission that she had to kill for her food.

Swift laughed. "There are plenty of other things that you can eat that don't walk around. Don't worry about it."

The ice hybrid looked up at the sky, wondering what was up there and whether it was laughing at her, as she suspected it was.


Groggily, Kaor opened his tri-color eyes. "Where...?" was the first thing that left his mouth as he put his hands out to hold himself up, encountering cold, hard steel. Confused, he sat up, wide awake, backing into a wall, also metal. Standing up, he looked around, realizing finally that he was in a cell... Three solid metal walls, a metal ceiling, and a fourth wall of bars with a locked door. "Fricking f**king h*ll!" He yelled, punching a wall.

The raid... It had failed. They had tried to break into the Y-Faction base to kill the soldiers by poisoning them, but somehow they had been expected, and killed mercilessly...

/But then why am I alive?/ Kaor wondered, sitting back down on the floor in the darkest corner of the cell, curled up. /Stupid question... I'm a fricking hybrid! They're gonna want to try and find some way to control me./ Shivering, he curled up tighter. /No more tests... I've had enough of those in my life.../ Desperately, he tried to stop the shivering, but they refused to cease, for the poison hybrid was thoroughly terrified. He had one too many bad experiments with labs when he was younger, and his fear of needles, and tests in general, still remained.

He shut his eyes again, wrapping his arms tightly around his body. "You're a soldier. Fight the fear Kaor, fight the fear," he said to himself, trying to stay awake and focused, but the sedatives that he had been given earlier kicked in again, and he fell back into a dreamless sleep.


"If he attacks us, we're going to either sedate him or kill him," Indenki instructed their group, mounting his Zapdos, but releasing his Raikou too. Their electric attacks would not faze the steelix, but they could distract the huge pokemon while he aimed for the hybrid.

"It shouldn't come to that," Shadow said. "Blade wouldn't attack us."

Indenki looked at Shadow, his dark blue eyes not telling the dark hybrid anything in terms of what he thought. "*If* he attacks us," he simply repeated.

Swift and Aita wisely stayed silent, mounting their flying pokemon. Shadow got on behind Swift, for neither of his pokemon were large enough to carry him to their destination, which they reached fifteen grim minutes later.

"There he is!" Aita exclaimed, tugging lightly on her pokemon's reins and urging it to descend a little. "He's attacking the town!" Surprised, she leaned to the side of her pokemon's neck, straining to see clearly. "I don't get it. Why would he do that?"

But her question went unanswered, and they all swooped down to where the steel hybrid and his massive pokemon tore down houses. The all too familiar stench of burnt lives, not only the bodies but all their possessions, filled the air, and screaming survivors ran, trying to escape the rampaging steelix. After seeing the damage of other towns Blade had attacked, Indenki knew this one had been let off easy. At least there were people still left to escape.

The hybrids landed, surrounding the mad pair. Shadow released his pokemon, then, spying a ladder that led to the top of a burning house, he ignored the others and ran to it, climbing up so that he was somewhat on a level with Blade.

"Why are you doing this?" He asked as the others took flight, circling Blade in the air. He almost had to yell to be heard over the destruction.

Turning to look at him, the steel hybrid blinked. His eyes stared directly at the dark hybrid, yet it seemed that he did not really look at Shadow, that instead he looked through him. Did he even recognize Shadow? "Because I have to." His voice was dull, void of any life. "The Y-Faction and Team Rocket are not our only enemies; the people are. They shunned us; many of them still do. *They're* the cause of this whole war!" The steelix's tail crashed down on a building. "If it weren't for their foolish, selfish selves, we wouldn't have been created as 'perfect soldiers' to fight this meaningless war!"

Shadow's ears twitched, and he frowned slightly. This was not the Blade he knew... This was not Blade at all. That Xero system... Shadow knew it was responsible for this, but how? It was only supposed to heighten battle skills.

"They're not foolish, just scared. We all resent being created for a war, but that's how it is! The people need protecting so we need to fight, even if we aren't honored for what we do." Shadow looked beyond Blade and at Indenki, realizing that the electric hybrid did not want to waste anymore time. Defeated, the dark hybrid hung his head and sighed. He could hear people in the distance, people trying to rescue loved ones, neighbors, complete strangers, from the completely destroyed buildings. Why was he even thinking twice about trying to talk to Blade? How could he hesitate in carrying out his orders?

Indenki wanted to reassure Shadow somehow, but he had to get this done. The zapdos shocked the steelix, knowing that the attack would not hurt, but would at least grab is attention. "Stop what you're doing Blade!" Indenki said, flying dangerously near the steel pokemon's head. Irritated, it snapped at the large bird pokemon, but missed.

Shaking his head, Blade slightly narrowed his eyes. "You can't stop me." As if to emphasize that, the steelix's tail came down upon another house, close to where Shadow was perched.

Aita's articuno froze the steelix's tail, but it simply crashed out of the ice encasing. In wild, quick swoops, Swift and his fearow flew around Blade's pokemon, not attacking but doing a very good job at distracting.

"Stop it!" Blade frowned. The steelix's head swung around and snapped at Aita and her pokemon, but like Indenki and his zapdos, they dodged it. "If you don't stop, I'll be forced to kill you," he said, his voice somewhat monotone, cracking only slightly.

Ignoring what the steel hybrid had said, Indenki fired with his gun, hitting the steelix in-between one of its joints. Irritated, the steelix swung around with a roar, smashing several buildings.

"Fine then. Goodbye Indenki." Blade said in an eerily casual, `alright then' tone. The steelix glowed, and started to gather power for what Indenki suddenly realized might actually be hybperbeam. Right as the beam was about to shoot at him, Swift and Aita crashed into the steelix, diverting his aim, but although it missed Indenki, it went straight for the remains that Shadow stood on.


Erian looked up upon hearing the door to her cell open. "Siana!" She cried out, launching her self at the psychic hybrid, tackling her to the floor and hugging her tightly.

Already battered and bruised, Siana was not very appreciative of the ground hybrid's enthusiastic welcome. "Please get off me."

"Sorry." She scrambled off of her, then held out her hand to help the other hybrid up. "How'd you get caught?" Erian was sniffling slightly, but her eyes were dry.

Siana glared at her and settled down on one of the two beds in the cell. "I was saving Corvet's life. She'd snap like a dry twig if she was captured. There's a better chance of my keeping my mouth shut." She laid back on the hard mattress. "What about you?"

Erian's ears flattened against her head. "My brother Joseph died in battle, and I went berserk."

Siana nodded, understanding but not empathizing. "They didn't get your pokemon, did they?"



"Do you have any idea where we are?" Erian asked after a moment of silence.

"No. They have some sort of shield blocking my mind. I have no idea."

Erian climbed onto her own bed, curling up under the thin, stiff sheet she was provided with. "I'm going to sleep now," she announced, shutting her eyes and trying to sleep, but she couldn't. She had to admit she was glad that Siana was there, but psychic hybrid would not be a source of comfort. Erian was still alone.


It happened too fast for Shadow to be quite sure as to what was going on. One moment Blade was about to kill Indenki, the next he lost his footing as the building was hit by a powerful attack from the steelix. His lean body was thrown into the air by the blast, and he landed sharply on the smoldering rubble of the town, his head loudly cracking against a brick. The last thing he saw before everything went red and black was Blade looking at him, somewhat surprised, right before Indenki's zapdos plowed into him, knocking him right off the steelix.

Indenki fell to the ground with Blade, and the two of them wrestled viciously. Much to his surprise, Indenki found that underneath his warm exterior, Blade had a strong body, one very resistant to physical blows. The steel hybrid knew how to fight extremely well, and he currently had a not very sane mind underneath a steel skull. The most dangerous enemy was a crazy enemy.

Swift hovered over them worriedly, trying to find a way to pull them apart, but they were absorbed in their battle, rolling over constantly as one overpowered the other.

"Stop! I need to rescue Shadow!" Blade protested, trying to wrestle from underneath the electric hybrid.

"No! You need to stop! Look at what you've done!" Somehow, those wo

rds shocked Blade out of the Xero system, and he stopped struggling, allowing Indenki to pin him down. Looking around, his eyes widened at the damage that he and his steelix had managed to cause. "No..."

"Yes. You did this," Indenki said, getting off of the steel hybrid, who could only sit up in wonder.

"We're under attack!" Aita yelled. "The Y-Faction found us!" She landed by them along with Swift. "We need to go now."

Indenki swore under his breath as he realized that they were completely surrounded by a Y-Faction troop, both aerial and on the ground. "We have to leave Shadow and scatter."

"No!" Blade protested, about to run towards the ruins where the dark hybrid was, when both Swift and Indenki held him back.

"We've got to go," Swift said.

Blade looked defiantly at both of them, but then his glare subsided, and he climbed onto his steelix, the others going to their respective pokemon.

"Let's go!" Indenki yelled.

All at once, they scattered into different directions. Never before had Aita been in a battle like this, such a desperate, lost cause. "Ice beam!" She yelled hoarsely, ordering her articuno while at the same time shooting sharp icicles at the pokemon that had surrounded her. Where had they all come from? How had they got there so fast? She bit down a scream as an attack cut into her arm. So lost in the battle was she that she could not even tell what type of an attack it was.

Swift did his best to outmaneuver the pokemon that flew after him, at the same time going for the ones attacking his partners. He could not think anymore. This war... this war had to end. Tackling a pidgeot out of the sky, he grabbed one of his guns and shot at the human soldiers on the ground that controlled the pokemon. If they could just kill the soldiers... Then the pokemon would be easier targets.

He turned when he heard the screech of his fearow, and he saw it falling to the ground, tangled with a skarmory. "NO!" He screamed, then roared, his human side retreating into a far corner of his mind. Fighting instincts took over, and he killed with wild abandon. Even as bullets tore into his wings, he never slowed down. His mind turned the pain into further reason to go on, to kill these soldiers that had killed his partner, who were trying to kill his other partners.

Dimly, he recognized that Blade had separated from his steelix, and now held his own on the ground, trying to slash at soldiers and their pokemon, cutting through them while trying to dodge attacks. How much of the blood that covered him was his own? Aita looked about to faint, and while Indenki put up the appearance of being able to go on, it would not be long before he ran out of electricity.

Maybe if his human side had been more in control, he could have thought of some other way to save the other hybrids, but looking back, it was highly doubted. Realizing that Aita's articuno was a goner, Swift broke away from killing the soldiers and flew up to Aita, plucking her off her articuno. "Indenki!" He yelled, catching the electric hybrid's attention before throwing the ice hybrid at him. Deftly, Indenki flew over and caught her, and she clutched onto him, somewhat aware that she was off her articuno. "GO!" He yelled again.

Indenki frowned. Go? Retreat? No. Never. He looked down at Aita, and she shook her head. They had to stay. They had to fight.

Swift faltered, the damage done to his wings finally catching up with him. Struggling to keep in the air, he gestured wildly with his arms. "It's a lost cause!" He yelled over to Indenki, out-flying pokemon. His human side started to regain control, wondering if he was making a mistake. Was this worth it if they would not even accept that he was saving their lives? Saving Shadow or Blade would be too risky, but Aita and Indenki had been in the air, and he could distract attention from them.

They realised what he was doing, and they realised he was right. Aita held on tighter to Indenki, and with his last strength, the electric hybrid shocked everything near enough to him, knocking out the pokemon and killing some soldiers. Wrapping his arms around his zapdos' neck, he whispered to it to take him somewhere safe, and he only dimly heard Swift's last order.

With one last battle cry, Swift flew high up, enjoying the feel of the wind through his feathers one last time. Smiling, he thought of Merideth, then, eyes closed so that she could be the last thing he saw, he swooped down and self-destructed, taking most of the remaining pokemon and soldiers with him.