School just got out.

I guess being done with high school is kinda good, huh?

This one's kind of confusing. Cruce-EC is... Ethereal Cross Cruce. o.o

The one without any modifications to his name is the "main" Cruce.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
...

(You might have a hard time trying to figure me out at this point. I was just helping a very sweet girl try to find her way to a special friend. Now I'm helping a malevolent girl beat good guys up. I should add that she's evil. And I was just kicked around by the same evil. Now I'm helping them... Her name is Glace. She said that I am or could be "Anti-Cruce". I'm pretty sure that means there's another Cruce, but I don't ever remember having a clone... I don't remember anything. Maybe if I met this Cruce, we'd have some sort of cliché memory moment. I doubt it, but what do I know? The rules here are... nonexistent... There's a Safan called the Ice Princess who captured Safiri, and I've been trying to find a way to her ever since. I've gotten nowhere. Honestly, traveling with Glace might be the best move for now. But now I'm with Darkness...)

...

-Ancient Growth Base-

[A vortex of purple and black coloration springs from the snowy ground. The manifestation of dark energy vanishes, leaving behind Glace and Cruce.]

Glace: [She turns around, facing the strange opening and overhang of the tree's base. Icicles, black and blue alike, line its roof.] Such a big tree. It looks pretty with Her Iciness's touch.

Cruce: [Watching Glace.] Hmgh...

Glace: Stop being grumpy just 'cause you got your tush smacked around by us. You should be honored, you know. We decided not to make you into a little Nightmare!

Cruce: The Spirit Cross wouldn't even allow that, I'm sure.

Glace: Hehe, sounds like someone's underestimating the power of Lord Naught!

Cruce: Sounds more to me like you're "underestimating" the Crossblade.

Glace: ...Noooo, you're underestimating our Lord.

Cruce: [He grimaces with annoyance.] ...

Glace: Hehe! [She smiles in return.]

[At this time, Safiri, at the lead of her group, comes to a sliding stop in the snow before these two adversaries.]

Safiri: Ah-ha! [Steps forth with aggression.] Darkies at the sacred tree. Get your tails gone! Or else this will get messy!

Cruce-EC: [He is the brighter-colored Cruce.] Stops beside Safiri, giving her a suggestive look.] You are such a comic book character...

Rilia: Look out! It's that girl again!

Slianna: With another Nightmare!

Cruce: [He shows his face to the newcomers, his traits instantly identified as a darker variation of Cruce's Safan body.] !

Safiri: Oh. Cruce... [She steps back, her ears flattening, almost out of character.]

Cruce-EC: Who is that guy...? I don't know why, but it bugs me... just being around him. That fake Connection. It feels stronger now. Really strong...

Safiri: I-I think I may know why...

Glace: Ohhhohoho! This is perfect! Looks like we were just on time!

Cruce: [He squints his eyes to observe the four.] (That looks like Rilia and Slianna. Safiri's friends. Who is the plant girl? Is that another Safiri...? And that white and yellow fox... Somethin's weird there. I feel a little strange when I look at him.) [His tail flicks up.] (Wait a minute, is that...?!)

Glace: Hey you four! Long time no see!

Rilia: But we just met...

Slianna: Uhm... I think she was being sarcastic.

Glace: Guess who got her paws on an amazing new minion? This girl right here! [Now standing by the side of the quiet warrior.] Ohhhh, you Safans... I really hope you came with a plan B. Or C! Maybe R? U? Getting what I'm saying~?

Safiri: [She growls, lowering into a fierce stance.]

Cruce-EC: [He stands vigilant, ready to battle.]

Glace: I guess you don't.

Cruce: Are these your enemies?

Glace: They're our enemies. [She whispers to him.] Keep y'er yap shut. Say anything, and I'll tell Her Iciness. Now... [She speaks outloud.] Anti-Cruce. Would you care to defend the labor of our Princess?

Cruce: [Saying nothing for the sake of Fairy Safiri, he nods, standing tall whilst stepping forth and conjuring his Safa-magicked Spirit Cross. This action strikes fear into his opponents.]

Cruce-EC: [He grits his teeth and pulls his head back.] Nngh! She--... she wasn't lying! And he has the Crossblade. We might be in trouble...

Rilia: Ooof, I don't like this.

Safiri: Grr, don't give up! We outnumber 'em! This ain't the real Cruce either! That cute little twerp is right here with us! [She gives him a brief smirk.]

Cruce-EC: [He blushes, looking away momentarily.] Hah... Mm. [He glares ahead at the dark clone.]

[A standstill as each group faces one another. Glace breaks the silence, opening her mouth and releasing a prompt ice beam upon Safiri. A narrow stream of ice proves to be too quick for the plant-like Safan. She is swept off of her feet for a moment. Swift reactions come from Slianna and Rilia.]

Rilia: [With bright bubbles of aura shining on her paws, she begins a ranged assault, launching these small bits of energy at her foes.]

Slianna: [Her approach is more direct. As Rilia's ranged attacks keep Cruce and Glace occupied, Slianna silently moves to afflict Glace with a few of her attacks. Unfortunately for Slianna, she is caught in the process.]

Glace: [Spotting Slianna, she hops backwards, blowing sub-zero air, which serves a dual purpose: to propel her backwards and harm Slianna.]

Slianna: [She cries out as the deadly sting of the cold bites into her bones.]

Safiri: [Utilizes her super speed to rescue her friend. Quick as a bullet, she bolts up to Glace, leaping at the Nightmare Alpha and viciously tackling her down.]

Cruce: [He watches Glace carefully, striking at the ground with the Crossblade. A swift wave of radiant white energy forces Safiri away. Cruce, however, is quickly apprehended by his counterpart...]

Cruce-EC: [Using what mental magic he knows to hover briefly, his body emits a high-energy shock wave, bumping the other back far enough. He proceeds to cast a spell... This spell is released in the form of many small, pink orbs of light racing around the dark counterpart and shooting through his body haphazardly.]

Cruce: [Nearly overcome by the mayhem of the spell, he musters up the strength to dispel its effect. His body radiates a gleam as he twists around once, shooting upwards with a diagonal slash, a trail of black and white plasma following the path of his blade and remaining plastered onto the air for a couple seconds before vanishing. His opponent is launched back, though his attack continues. He comes crashing down, flip after flip, before slamming his blade into the snow, a splash of the same, swirling black and white plasma ensuing.]

Slianna: [Narrowly avoids becoming engulfed in this attack. She rendezvouses with Rilia who has screamed for assistance. The reason for this: Nightmares have begun to catch up with the four.]

Safiri: [She is now racing around Glace, evading each attack from the Pokémon.]

Glace: [Annoyed, she continues to blow shards of ice at her sonic-speed adversary.]

Safiri: [Abruptly bashes into Glace, taking one of the ice shards directly. She sends the Nightmare flying towards the Anti-Cruce.]

Cruce: [The world slows around him. He spots Glace. Instinctively, he hurls himself up while tossing the Crossblade into the air, wrapping the tip of his tail around it. He manages to catch Glace by the back of her neck, followed by performing a somersault in midair. His tail releases its grip on the blade, which dives into the snow, erupting with condensed energies. Glace regains her bearings as he lands, letting her go before he hits the ground. The two of them land upright.]

Glace: [She blinks, wide-eyes showing through.] …

“Safiri!!”

Cruce-EC: [From the clearing whiteout of snow, he emerges, pummeling his counterpart with a furious snarl.]

Cruce: [After a couple rolls, he is pinned down by the lighter Cruce.] Mph!

Cruce-EC: You hurt her!! You hurt Safiri! Son of a b***h!

Cruce: [He tries to face away from the other, noticing Glace's eyes on him...] (Th-this is the other Cruce... Why's he... ...Glace is watching...)

Cruce-EC: [He hears screams from Rilia and Slianna. All of the Nightmares have overtaken them. The Core has returned as well.] Ahhh, this isn't right!! [He shuts his eyes with intensity, yelling as he does so. A power manifests.]



[The universe reverses itself...]



[Time has receded. ]

Safiri: [Time has returned to the point where Safiri is encircling Glace. The events repeat themselves, the only person recognizing the events being the brighter Cruce. Safiri delivers a forceful tackle to Glace.]

Cruce-EC: [This time, he manipulates his current form's magic specialty, which happen to be magic of time and magic of the mind. His own telekinesis captures Glace before his dark counterpart can perform the attack which downed Safiri. With a mental grasp on Glace's physical body, he proceeds to smash her into the snow, chaining his and Safiri's attacks together.]

Cruce: [He raises a brow.] (Damn, he's quick. His powers are a lot different than mine...) [Cruce stands ready as the counterpart advances on him, stopping a safe distance away before commencing the casting of a spell.]

Cruce-EC: [Managing to pull the spell off, a ring of purple encircles the dark counterpart, stunning him momentarily.]

Cruce: Ack!! [He stands stiff, dropping the Blade.]

Cruce-EC: [While this foe is stunned, he grasps the Crossblade with the very same telekinesis. His previous senses have informed of the oncoming Nightmare threat. Timing this next move with acuity, he hurls the Crossblade to Rilia and Slianna's positions, accurately bringing the Blade down on a small crowd of Nightmares before them. The magical eruption from this attack replicates the previous ability used on Safiri.] ...Tough luck. I know how the Crossblade works.

Cruce: ! [He is alarmed, though he refuses to let this impress him.] Yeah? So do I. [Normally, his next idea of a move would be to call the Crossblade back. Instead, rather, he warps to the location of the Blade itself, appearing with it already in his mouth, and slashing forth, a forceful shock wave blasting Rilia and Slianna away.]

Cruce-EC: [Thinking quickly, and for that matter in the physical world, his telekinesis manages to play its part again by catching the two airborne Safans.] Gotcha... [He sets them down before facing the other Cruce, noticing an ice Core approaching from behind.] Not that thing too...

Glace: [Now surrounded by the enemy, she stands, scanning around.] Hooph~! Nothing quite like a good brawl in a chilly place like this. [A brief dark corridor takes her to Cruce and the Core.] ...Why hello there, Anti-Cruce.

Cruce: [He motions with his head to Glace, gesturing "hello", or "whassup", in this case.] (This is the other Cruce... I wouldn't have thought there was another. He knew how to use the Blade. 'Also predicted a move of mine... But he fights nothing like me. He's all about magic. I don't even see him using a Crossblade.)

[The four heroic Safans now stand side by side, awaiting the first move to be made.]

Safiri: C'mon! Come at me! What, are you afraid?!

Glace: You think Darkness is afraid? Oh brother... I said it before, and I'll say it again. Your ignorance is painful to me.

Safiri: I'm about to bring on the pain a lot more then whatever it is you have...

Slianna: [She looks closely at the darker Cruce, trying to identify any signs of unrest...]

Glace: Hmmm~... [She smiles wide, watching Cruce.] You know what you're doing in battle. Let's finish this.

Cruce: Mm? (She wants us to finish it? I thought we were suppose to scare them, not kill them... Ugh...)

Glace: Cover me. [She stands back, near the ice Core.]

Cruce: [He nods, moving forward and facing the opponents, his Blade ready...]

Cruce-EC: Watch out... I can't start casting anything. That Core will take us by surprise...

Slianna: That would leave us open.

Safiri: Then this is gonna go on forever... We should give 'em the scoot.

Rilia: You mean flee~? Eep! Fine with me!

Safiri: I'm no coward. But this is wasting time! We need to save people already...

Cruce-EC: Good idea. With as many Nightmares as I've seen, they have a big shield for us to widdle away at... [He takes a step back.]

Safiri: [She does the same, prepared to dash away.] I hate leaving any battle, but... We've got bigger concerns.

Cruce: [With the Blade in his mouth, he cannot explain the intentions of the group to Glace, who appears to be absorbing the ice Core's power for a powerful move.] (They're going to retreat then...? Why are they going into the Ancient Growth? I came from there, but... There was nothing there. Are they looking for something?)

Safiri: ... ...GO GO GO!! [She is the first to sprint away. The others follow suit, dashing into the frozen tree as fast as their bodies will allow...]

Glace: [Distracted from her focus, she yells out.] Hey!! Cruce, don't just stand there, get them! Go! Now!!

Cruce: [He commences the chase, hearing no snow crunching underfoot behind him...] (She's not coming?! Maybe I can get away! ...But if I leave their command, Safiri might get... killed, or something. I don't know what exactly Darkness can do... I know they have Nightmares. And those Nightmares could report back to others in command... I need to keep following these four.)

[The chase continues up to the frozen, downhill river which Cruce and Safiri of the alternate Safa descended. With better traction in his Safan body, Cruce is capable of climbing the ice. So are those fleeing from him, however.]

...

-Frozen Growth of Oaths-

[The enormous interior of the sacred tree has remained frozen in the elapsed time. Safiri, Slianna, and Rilia, along with the Cruce they are more familiar with, have made it to the large, icy lake. This chamber hosts a diversity of vines and trees within this larger tree, glowing walls and plants frozen over with a shady ice, as well as a dark sorcery.]

Rilia: [She takes a deep breath.] D-did we lose them?

Safiri: We might have. No one keeps up with me!

Cruce-EC: Yeah, you. We're not as fast as you...

Safiri: ...Well be faster! [She gives Cruce a rather irritating smirk.] Now... I see a frozen Growth, Slianna. If Maaya isn't behind this, I'd like to know who the other big baddy is.

Slianna: [Looking ahead at a scene near one of the branching, frozen rivers.] Mmmm, I think that might give us some clues...

Safiri: Huh? [She turns her head to the spot Slianna is watching.] Is that the Princess?! I knew she was behind all of this! C'mon, let's end this thing and get our friends back!

Cruce-EC: ...Be careful, Saf... (Danielle... This is gonna suck. Or be awkward. Or both. I know I'm going to have to battle her at some point. That might be now. Darkness, I don't know what you're up to. You have a lot more tricks, I'd think... Maybe all of this is because of them... In that case, I need to find out more. And the only person who would willingly give me the full story is Ageha, and I might not get to see her for a while. I wonder if she remembers everything too...)


[Without much discretion, the four make their way across the frozen lake, ready to confront the Shade...]

Danielle: What?! Oh, for the love of Naught... What do you mean you do not know?!

Fairy Safiri: [She and Danielle are standing at the ridge of the tiny pond she and Cruce emerged from, having come from the alternate Safa. Within the small pond, a glowing rendition of the Oron Mo, the Ecliptic symbol of the other Safa, is seen; it's presence is an anomaly here...] I-I d-d-don't know how to use it for that... It's beyond me. I got here with the help of a friend. It was Cruce...!

Danielle: ...You told me you knew this symbol. You told me that you could visit this other Safa... You lied. You dare deceive me? The Ice Princess of Darkness?!

Fairy Safiri: I didn't deceive you! I swear! I don't know what's happening anywhere! That's the truth!

Danielle: ... [A devious smile.] No. You do have the key to this...

Fairy Safiri: ...[She tilts her head, trembling.] ?

Danielle: Your Crossblade... [Her icy ears flick...] Mm? [She faces the other direction.]

Safiri: AH, COME ON! Don't bully an ancient fairy!

Rilia: You're so mean!

Danielle: Oh goodness. Now, now. These intrusions are beginning to anger me. But I welcome you, Safiri. Rilia. Slianna... And you especially, Cruce... to your demise!

Fairy Safiri: [Gasps.] Cruce...?

Cruce-EC: I'm not even going to bother asking you what's going on. I know you won't answer.

Danielle: I will not speak to you. You played with a heart of Darkness as though it were a child's toy. You mean nothing to us... Our plans transcend the Crossblade. However, it seems we require such a Blade.

Cruce-EC: And I'm useless? That doesn't make any sense then.

Danielle: Perhaps not. Let us say... Another satisfies our needs.

Cruce-EC: Tch, I'll take a shot at that. Anti-Cruce, huh?

Danielle: [She gives a sinister chuckle.] ... [She does not mention this aloud. That very Cruce is standing behind the group.]

Cruce: [He is standing firm, the Spirit Cross absent from his maw as of now.] You're the Ice Princes...

Danielle: Why, yes yes. And you're the Alternate... The Anti. The... "Un"~... Hmhm.

Fairy Safiri: Cruce!! You turned into a Safan again!

Cruce: Glad I found you, Safiri...

Safiri: Wait... Wait wait stop stop STOP. WHAT is going on here?! [Looking back and forth between the Cruce and Safiri counterparts.]

Rilia: Two Cruces and two Safiris...? ...Dizzy already...

Danielle: Silence, Fairy. [She steps in front of Fairy Safiri.]

Cruce: Let her go, Princess. She and I have nothing to do with this world... Just leave us alone. Tell Glace that too. We don't want anything to do with your cause...

Cruce-EC: ("This world"? Is this guy... really me? Is he Anti-Cruce? That's what Darkness is saying.)

Danielle: Mmm, that is too bad, Dear. We may use anyone and anything at our disposal to meet our goals. And you, Alternate, are what we need to clean up the mess that is Light. So, my dear, would you please annihilate these peasants? [Comes closer to Safiri, suggesting she will harm her...]

Cruce: Mmgh... [He grits his teeth, watching the four heroic Safans, who are looking back at him with a questioning gaze.]

Glace: [From behind.] You'd better listen to Her Frostiness, you know. If you don't, you and that Safiri are gonna be wishing you were around a cozy fire. [She appears to have absorbed the Core's power, now radiating with its ice elemental energy.]

Slianna: ...This... Cruce isn't bad... "Anti-Cruce" isn't Darkness! You're using him! I knew it! There was no malice in his eyes!

Safiri: Hey, yeah! You jerks! Leave these two alone! They didn't do anything to you!

Cruce-EC: [One of his eyes close as he lowers his head.] (Th-the Connection... is spazzing out... I gotta stay awake here.) Hrk... Shoot.

Rilia: What's wrong, Cruce?

Cruce-EC: Nothing, just the Connection being weird again...

Danielle: ...I see no fighting... So this is how it is. One tears my heart to pieces, and another refuses to obey me. You Cruces are among the least useful pawns of power. I will save this for another time. For now, I must show this Safiri what it is like to be blessed by Darkness... Farewell, peasants... Come, Glace! [A chilly corridor of darkness spawns around her and Safiri. A shout for help is heard as the Fairy Safiri is taken away. Glace shakes her head, disappointed with Cruce's decision. Without a word, she takes her leave as well.]

Cruce: Ahh, no!!! Safiri!! [He swerves around the four, the lack of friction on the ice slipping him up a tad as he fails to reach the corridor in time. Having summoned his Blade along the way, a swipe of his misses, digging itself into the ice...] ...

[The four Safans watch quietly...]

Cruce: [Opening his mouth, he leaves the Blade wedged into the ice.] ... That's frustrating. That's really frustrating... [He turns to face his former adversaries.] ...That leaves us off on a rough start.

[Before any amends can be made, a swarm of blackness arrives. A massive wave of Nightmares has been called in. They vary from Scorpius to Pokémon this time.]

Safiri: Not this again!! We'll chat later! For now, you all know what to do!

Cruce-EC: Never fought with another me before. Another real me anyway.

Cruce: I'll go ahead and second that. [He pulls his Blade from the ice, rushing into combat with his new allies.]

...

[Back on the Pokémon side, groups have been organized. Many of them have opted to stay away from the Safan boundary, as they are clueless on the geography. Becoming lost is almost an everyday venture as an explorer. However, when Darkness is inserted into the equation, safety becomes paramount. Only three Pokémon dared to set foot beyond their world. The trio is quite appropriate for this type of exploration. It is Al, Adam, and Edge. Though the guild members are disappointed to see them leave so soon after arriving, Team Krossover feels as though this is redemption for their disappearance. They wish to prove themselves once again.]

-Crystalline Threshold-

[The Crystalline Threshold is the name given to the area connecting Chronic and Safa. The location is surreal, being a vast expanse of teal, crystal grass. {This field is extremely similar to the final encounter location of Ethereal Cross 1, where Cruce fought Nuvaaya.}]

Al: [Walking alongside Adam.] Heeey... this place isn't Safa, is it?

Adam: If it is, then Safa is very empty... I'd hate for it to be.

Edge: [Walking behind the two.] Grovyle told us that Safans are a little like us Pokémon. They have their own special abilities. I've never seen one, but from what I hear, I'm sure their world is nicer than this.

Al: I sure hope so! I can't wait to meet another race! It's so exciting!

Adam: It's good practice for Earth.

Edge: You two are devoted to reach Earth, aren't 'cha?

Adam: It's our ultimate goal as explorers.

Al: I couldn't believe it when you said that you knew a way there!

Edge: Hehehe, it's too bad all of this weird stuff is going on.

Adam: Our friends are more important than any goal of ours. [He frowns a bit.] We became too obsessed with that goal though. We vanished from everyone's lives just because of my selfishness...

Al: I got a little into it too. Don't blame yourself Adam. It was bad of both of us to leave everyone...

Edge: Didn't you say you have family worried about you, Adam?

Adam: Mhmm...

Edge: So you have a very righteous reason for doing everything that you did. Maybe you just explained it wrong!

Adam: I think I have to agree with you... Al or I didn't tell anyone why were leaving. We didn't explain it at all. It wasn't until we came back today that we told the guild what we've been up to all this time.

Al: And Grovyle and Celebi... We haven't seen them since we left town. I would have never known they worked with Light.

Adam: Al and I hadn't seen Darkness around fora long time.

Edge: I still don't know much about Darkness. I know it's dark. That's all though~. Say, what is this thingy here? [The three come across an immense, clear force-field spanning a length that does not seem finite.] It's...

Adam: A very large contraption!

Al: Can we pass it? I've never seen this before, so I'm not sure what it does... What say you, Edge?

Edge: Celebi told us that the Safans came to Treasure Town to meet up with Team Time. They told them that they went through a weird field...

Adam: Grass field? Or force field? As it goes, we've found our way to both.

Edge: Let's try it out. I think we can trust our Safan emissaries~!

Al: Give me a moment! [He laughs a little bit.] I have butterflies in my stomach. We've never explored another world before! We're not as experienced as you, Edge.

Edge: Hey, c'mon, that's too kind of you. You're the legendary heroes! I can't way to introduce you to Team Crimsongleam... Hummm I wonder if that's even possible...

Adam: We've been chasing a planet for so long now. But it sounds like this story is written out across universes.

Al: Whoa. Well put... [He smiles at his partner.]

Adam: Thank you! Wanna head through?

Edge: Let's do this!

[Spirits boosted with valor and excitement, the trio makes a dash through the force field... Their figures are not seen on the other side, as the mystical wall of dimensional matter ripples like water.]

...

(And now I'm not with Darkness. It seems like things change fast around here. I don't know what it is I'll run into next. I lost Safiri... I'm not going to let them get away with it. I'll gladly return fire, now that they've gone and made me upset. I should have known I was never going to get anywhere with them, so I'm sort of glad this thing ended earlier than anticipated. If I can, I'd like to fight Darkness with these people for a while. After all, there's another Cruce here. And I've already run into him. Another Safiri too. I can't wait to see where this takes me... I'd like it best if it took me home. Wishful thinking.)