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MEW-CHILD: Ch.20: Absolution

by NonAnalogue

NonAnalogue With fire in her eyes, she faces her villain.
“Hey, Hyacinth.”

“Yes, Miss Rylan?”

“I thought the owner of the Seagallop ferries had already repaid your favor.”

“That is correct.”

“But you managed to scrounge up another private boat for us to use.”

“I did, in fact.”

“So, what, the Seagallop dude just owed you another favor out of nowhere?”

“Now, now, Miss Rylan. It’s nothing like that.” Hyacinth peered over the railing at the water, through which the boat was cutting an impressive wake. “For one, this isn’t even a Seagallop ferry.”

“Huh?” Mel joined them and leaned over until she could see the name painted onto the boat’s hull, being careful not to disturb Repeat, who was dozing in her bag. “The S.S. Cactus? I guess that explains why this one’s so big compared to the others.”

“Indeed! This was, at one time, a small passenger ship that sailed the Hoenn region. But it sank several decades ago due to mysterious circumstances.”

Mel shook her head. “Mysterious circumstances, huh? Scourge of the seas.”

“Then,” Hyacinth continued, “when Greater Mauville Holdings wanted to use the location of the wreck as a site for their Sea Mauville project, they worked out a deal with the Devon Corporation wherein Devon would salvage the wreck, clear the surrounding area, and get a share of the profits from Sea Mauville. Of course, I scarcely need to say what became of Sea Mauville.”

“Yeah, I already know all that,” said Mel, who didn’t.

Hyacinth eased back off the railing. They needed their hands to properly gesticulate their explanation, which already had more details than Mel ever wanted about Hoenn’s maritime history and corporate politics. “Nonetheless, Devon successfully retrieved the S.S. Cactus and spent no small amount of time and money repairing it until it was, if you’ll pardon the expression, ship-shape. Even though they salvaged it before either of us were born, it was only recently that the reconstruction was finished.”

One of these days, I’m going to learn to keep my questions to Hyacinth narrow and focused. “That explains why this ship is sailing – though I gotta say, at no point until right now was I worried about that – but I’m really more interested in why we’re on it.”

“Certainly!” Hyacinth pointed one gloved hand upwards. “Naturally, I had to make sure you understood the intricacies first.”

“Naturally,” Mel echoed.

“All I had to do was call in a favor with the president of Devon Corporation. He was more than happy to let us use this ship; it was in dock in Kanto and didn’t have another pending charter at the time.”

“Huh.” Mel arched her eyebrows. “Musta been one heck of a favor you did him.”

Hyacinth waved a hand. “Not really, to be honest. All I did was deliver a letter and a package for him. He tried to give me one of their communication devices as compensation at first, but I had no need for it.”

“So he settled on just owing you a favor, then.” Mel pursed her lips and fell silent for a moment, watching the waves pass by. “You do like your favors, huh.”

“I think you can scarcely argue with my results, Miss Rylan,” said Hyacinth. “After all, they’ve gotten me this far.”

“I guess so. Hey, what about all those favors you’ve been storing up from me?”

“Oh, don’t worry about those. I already cashed those in by borrowing Repeat while your memory was erased.”

“Oh, right. I guess that didn’t amount to anything, huh?”

“Such is the way things go. Anyway, moving on,” Hyacinth said, sitting down in one of the luxurious deck chairs and flipping through their endless notebook, “there’re a few items you probably ought to know before we make it to land. First, I took the liberty of contacting our mutual acquaintance Miss Izzy prior to our departure, under the assumption that more help would be better than less.”

“Let me guess,” said Mel, taking a seat nearby. “She immediately struck out on her own.”

“Correct. I had suspected that she would do so, but I figured there would be no harm in trying. Moving on, I also have spent some time recently looking into the background of Genesis’ leader.”

Mel shuddered. “Degree Absolute.”

“One and the same.” Hyacinth pulled a pair of weathered photos from their pocket. “Curiously, Degree appeared on the scene out of nowhere – I could find no reference to her outside of her tenure with Genesis. However, I found something promising when I searched the missing persons records from around the date of her first appearance.” They held the photos up, and Mel craned her head in to see. One showed a woman, gaunt, with pale white hair and an uncaring expression; the other showed the same woman as a young girl, with a sparkle in her eyes and hair as dark as the night.

“That looks like her,” Mel said thoughtfully. “What’d you find out?”

“Not much. She was in the hospital for some time, and then disappeared shortly after being discharged. Her parents filed a report, but nobody was ever able to find her. Not surprising, since the next time she showed up it was in an entirely different region. Based on this, I suspect some form of trauma-induced psychogenic amnesia may be the culprit – her extended medical care and sudden disappearance line up with other such cases. Her parents reported that she went by the nickname ‘Moon’, though she obviously doesn’t anymore.”

Mel gingerly took the photos in her hands. “Huh. Good to know, I guess. You mind if I hang onto these? Never know when they might come in handy.”

“As you wish, Miss Rylan.”


“Boss.” If Repeat had teeth, he would have been gritting them.

“Hush, Repeat. This could go south easy, and I don’t wanna get distracted.”

“No, boss, I think this is worth distracting you over. The way it’s looking to me right now is that you’re trying to spy on Genesis by doing the exact same thing that got you found out the last time you were here.”

Mel let out a sigh. “No, Repeat, I’m not doing the exact same thing.”

“Do you want to explain how? Because you’re on the roof of their hideout, looking in through a rusted hole.”

“But it’s not the same rusted hole. Remember? The old one fell out under us.”

“Ah, yes,” Repeat said drily. “I’d forgotten.”

“Besides, this time Hyacinth’s gonna be backup if we need it. And we’re not just going to watch, either.”

The warehouse was largely the same as the last time Mel and Repeat had visited One Island, save for one of the holes in its roof being much larger and more Mel-shaped. There was no charismatic speaker pontificating to an enraptured crowd this time; instead, there was only a mishmash of machinery near the head of the room and four figures nearby. They were far enough from Mel that she couldn’t make out any details about them, except that one of them was wearing a familiar purple coat and two more were slumped in a sitting position on the ground. The fourth was the most active, darting here and there through the mounds of metal and giving them form.

With a tight grip on the edge of the hole, Mel lowered herself into the warehouse, dropping onto a stack of crates that shook as she landed but thankfully didn’t fall. As soon as she did, though, she knew something was wrong: it felt like a part of her mind had just disappeared. Her psychic sense no longer worked; once she’d crossed the threshold, some sort of block had wrapped itself around her head. Mel kept her eyes fixed on the quartet on the other side of the room. None of them turned to look at her. They don’t know I’m here, she thought. Then this isn’t something they aimed at me. It’s for some other reason… they’re trying to block someone else’s psychic power. Which means…

“Boss, are you good?” Repeat whispered.

Mel nodded and shook the thought out of her mind. Time to focus. She clambered down the stack of crates and crept forward, keeping cover in between her and the humans she was rapidly approaching. Once she could hear their conversation, she stopped in her tracks.

“Progress report?” asked Degree Absolute, a thread of ice undercutting her serene tone.

“I ain’t got much farther than the last time ya asked me that!” said the figure who was running around – it was Bill, Mel realized with a start. She squinted in their direction and tried to make out more detail.

Metal debris littered a full quarter of the warehouse, but in the center of the mess were two pods, each the size of a human, that were connected by cables as thick as Mel’s torso. The two figures that were slumped over were both leaning against the pods, bound and gagged with tattered rope and cloth bearing an uncomfortable amount of oil stains. One was unconscious and the other alert, watching Degree with an unreadable expression. Their identities became obvious on a closer look: the unconscious one was Izzy, while the other was Nia.

Why am I not surprised to see her here? Mel thought.

“I’m afraid I must remind you that we have no time to waste,” Degree said. “Plus, remember, the sooner you finish your device, the sooner your assistance will no longer be required.”

Bill rolled his eyes but redoubled his efforts. “I dunno why you want me buildin’ one’a my prototype transporters,” he muttered. “Can’t swing a Meowth without hittin’ one’a my updated systems nowadays. Coulda just bought one’a them, but no, you had to go and kidnap me. Whatever gets me outta here and back home quicker…”

Degree only smiled in a way that didn’t quite reach her eyes.

“Fine, fine, it’s just about done anyway. You’re gettin’ your machine,” Bill continued, adding “scarier than Team Rocket” under his breath.

The clicking of Degree’s boots cut through the stagnant air as she cleared the distance between her and Nia. “And then there’s you,” Degree purred, undoing Nia’s gag. “You and I have crossed paths many times, haven’t we? You even disguised yourself as a member of my flock for a while. But your incursion here cannot go unchallenged – I will not tolerate spies. And to think that you would have escaped me once more if that headstrong trainer and her Exploud hadn’t charged in and distracted you.”

“Lemme go!” Nia hissed, straining against the rope. Her movements were interspersed with wincing, like her head was hurting. “You got no reason to do this!”

“Oh, is that so?” Degree crouched and ran a finger up Nia’s chin. “Everything I’ve set up for today was for one purpose. The psychic dampeners lining the building, abducting Bill to get his machine, all of it was to find Mew.”

Nia froze.

“And now,” Degree said, “much to my surprise… Mew, you’ve simply presented yourself to me right away.”

Mel took in a sharp breath. Huh.

“I’m… I’m not…” Nia stuttered.

Degree stood up and adjusted her gloves. “Oh, don’t bother to deny it, Nia. Not much of a pseudonym either way, was it? You might as well have just named yourself ‘the noise cat Pokemon make.’ But here you are. Mew. In the flesh, so to speak. And we didn’t even need to capture the Mew-child to get to you.”

“But the Mew-child is here anyway.” Mel darted out of her hiding place as Repeat slipped into her bag, her head low and her elbow out in what would have been an impressive tackle if Degree hadn’t weaved out of the way. “You’re not keeping all these people here any longer.”

“Well! If it isn’t Melanie Rylan! This is quite the reunion today, isn’t it?” Degree said, her eyes narrowing. She caught a punch Mel threw and shoved her backwards. “And – am I understanding you right? You’re the Mew-child? How enlightening! As it stands, you’re almost right! I’m not keeping all these people here for much longer. As soon as Bill finishes this machine, he’s free to go, and he can take that interloper with him. You can even go too! The only one I need here… is her.” She nodded at Nia. “That’s all! Surely you can’t begrudge me that. After all I’ve been through,” she added with an icy smile.

Mel glanced at Nia. “What’s she talking about?” she asked, taking a step towards her.

“I…” Nia grimaced and looked down. “I dunno—”

“LIAR!” Degree threw her arm out, and her fist resonated against the metal of the pod. “You know exactly what happened.” She stalked closer, her footsteps suddenly uneven; Mel jumped in her way before she could get to Nia. “I don’t remember anything, Melanie. Did you know that?”

Mel didn’t think it would have been a good idea to mention that Hyacinth had suspected that exact possibility.

“Something happened when I was younger. Trauma. My memories, my life, my partner… they were all taken from me. I was dying. And this… this creature,” Degree spat, “saw me there, in the cold, and it left me there.”

“I—I didn’t!” Nia cried. “You don’t understand!”

“What, exactly, do I not understand?” Degree said quietly. “Because you didn’t help me, I lost everything… I even lost Pete!”

“Pete?” Mel muttered to Repeat, who’d squirmed out of her bag and back onto her shoulder.

Repeat shrugged. “I’m just as lost as you are.”

“You don’t get it!” Nia said, her eyes wide. “That’s me! I’m Pete!”

Everyone in the warehouse fell silent, even Mel and Repeat, who recognized the moment as striking even if they didn’t know why. It was eventually broken by a low chuckle, which grew into full-on laughter. “So Pete was you?” Degree said, her tone equal parts amused and angry. “Pete was… Mew? That changes everything, doesn’t it?”

Nia smiled, her eyes gleaming. “Yeah, see? I’m still your partner! There’s no need for all’a this!”

“Oh, no no no, Pete. Nia. Mew. Whatever you want to be called. This makes everything worse.” The word flew from Degree’s mouth like a bullet, and Nia took a strained breath. “My partner, the Pokemon that was more important to me than anything in the world… left me for dead. Only a legendary could be so… heartless. I should have known you weren’t an ordinary Ditto to begin with.”

Huh, a voice in the back of Mel’s head said. A Ditto named Pete. Now isn’t that a coincidence?

Nia struggled against her bonds even more, though the rope showed no signs of breaking. “Wait! I didn’t give up on you! I was the one who showed that hiker where to find you! It’s… it’s ’cause of me that you were even saved in the first place!”

“Hold on.” Mel held up a hand. “If you’re gonna be having this argument past me, I need to get something straight. Nia, you’re Mew?”

“I guess there’s no point in denyin’ it now,” Nia said with a sigh. “Yeah. I’m Mew. And I’m sure you know what that means… kid.”

Mel shook her head. “We can have that talk later. I wanna ask you about what Degree is saying. You’re legendary, in every sense of the word. So why…”

Degree’s smile broadened as she saw where Mel was going.

“Why did you have to go get someone else to help a kid in trouble?” Mel asked. “What was keeping you from just helping her yourself?”

“Well… I…”

“Go on, Nia,” Degree hissed. “Answer the question.”

Nia swallowed. “There was… there was a guy there, and he…”

“He…?” Mel prompted when Nia faltered.

“He had a Master Ball,” Nia muttered, meeting nobody’s eyes.

And that was when Mel knew. She knew exactly what had happened – and not because of any psychic power, but because she’d had the same urge all her life. “So… you ran,” Mel said, more to herself than to anyone else. “You didn’t wanna get yourself captured, so you bolted.”

“I don’t like to admit it,” said Nia, “but yeah. Yeah. I ran away. I knew you’d understand, kid. I mean, the guy botched his first throw, but he mighta had more, and then I’d be real stuck. You saw what happened to Uxie and Mesprit—”

“No.” Mel turned her back on Degree Absolute, facing Nia, shadows drawn across her face. “I don’t understand. Because you ran away from someone in trouble. I run away all the time, Nia. I’ll own that. Repeat and I, we’re not a well-oiled fighting machine.”

“Guilty as charged,” Repeat added.

“So we run from lots of stuff. But whenever someone’s in trouble? When Janine needed us to stall Neo Rocket for her? When we all got cornered in the ruins? I’m not about to turn my tail. If someone needs help, I’m not going to just… leave them. Even if it means we get blown outta the water.” Mel inclined her head towards Repeat, who morphed a serrated edge and made quick work of the ropes binding Nia. “That’s the difference. Now, go and hide before she—”

Degree shoved Mel aside and punched Nia in the jaw.

Nia’s feet left the ground and she reeled backwards, slamming against one of the pods.

“That’s for what you did to me,” Degree said, shaking the pain out of her fist. “But that’s only the beginning. You’re not going to elude me again. Because of you, I lost everything. And I’m going to make sure you lose everything too.” She snapped her fingers. “Bill! Open it up!”

With one shaking hand, Bill, who had wisely decided to hide behind a pile of scrap metal, pressed a key on a laptop in front of him. The doors of the pods opened with a hiss as smoke billowed out. Degree hauled Nia up by the collar and bodily threw her into one of the pods, the door slamming shut immediately after. Nia jumped to her feet and pressed her palms against the glass set in the door, her screams coming out muffled through the metal.

Mel had hit the ground hard after Degree had pushed her, and Repeat was trying his best to get her back to her feet. Before she could get her head to stop spinning, Degree had jumped into the other pod. The machines hummed into life as sparks jumped through the air. Smoke filled the inside of each pod, erasing both figures inside from view; Nia disappeared banging her fist against the glass while Degree only showed a wide smirk.

When Bill had originally built the first prototype of a transporter more flexible than the ones made by Silph, it, to put it tactfully, had not gone as planned. He, like many young engineers, had decided to test the machine on himself, and were it not for the intervention of a passing trainer, he likely would have spent the rest of his life as a human-Pokemon hybrid. Which Pokemon it was depended on who was telling the story: some say it was a Clefairy, others a Nidorino. Bill himself, when asked, claimed he just got stuck inside a Kabuto costume.

That ill-fated prototype had been immediately dismantled, but the rumors persisted. It was that same prototype that Degree Absolute had forced him into building once more.

The machines quieted. Mel rose to her feet, trying to keep her balance. “What do we do, chief?” Repeat muttered into her ear.

“I… am not sure,” Mel said. She lowered her center of gravity and took a deep breath. No telling what’s about to come out of there.

The smoke swirled around inside both chambers, and both doors slid open. Only one person stepped out.

It was clearly Degree Absolute, but, at the same time, it was clearly not. Pink, nearly white, triangular ears poked out from the top of her head. A thick tail extended from her back and wrapped around her legs, which themselves had bent, turning digitigrade. Her hands were knobbier, with only three fingers each and bulbous fingertips, and her face had pushed forward, approaching something feline.

“That’s better,” Degree growled, the words stumbling over each other as they left an unfamiliar mouth. She extended her arms and closed her eyes , then frowned. “Right. The inhibitors…” One eye cracked open, and with the flick of a finger, the sound of something shorting out surrounded them.

When it died down, Mel gasped; it was as if she could suddenly see again – her psychic senses were back, and Degree’s mental presence in the room almost drowned her out entirely. It surrounded her mind, pressing in from all sides. It was interfering with her head, freeing memories that had long since been forgotten, and she could see…

Visions of a Lombre and a young girl in the middle of a war zone. A Klefki being surrounded by a group of people all wearing the same uniform. A Heatmor running for its life. A Cubone letting out a wave of psychic power and collapsing. And… and a Mew and something else, at the center of a barren island. They were talking, agreeing to keep something locked away in its mind, but promising each other that there would be a way to free it…

Mel grimaced. Nia musta been good at keeping everything hidden, but Degree… she doesn’t know how being psychic works yet… It’s all too much…

Degree rose into the air, her eyes glowing. “I did it,” she said, and Mel couldn’t tell if she was talking to her or not. “This was my goal. I stole everything from Mew. Its life, its memories, its very being. I took what it owed me.”

Taking a step forward felt, to Mel, like she was walking through glue, with how oppressive Degree’s psychic power was. “Seems to me,” she grunted, “you’re gonna have a lotta people wondering where Mew went off to. Or do you think your cult’s gonna worship you now?”

“Hm?” Degree looked up, as if she’d forgotten Mel was there. “Melanie. You’re smarter than that. I do not care one bit what they think. What could they possibly do to me? I have… I have Mew. I am Mew. But what…”

Something was coming. Mel braced herself.

“What do I do now?”

Mel and Repeat exchanged a look.

What do I do now?!” Degree howled. A psychic pulse blasted out of her, missing Bill and the pods by inches. Boxes and crates all the way to the warehouse’s entrance were shredded into wooden splinters. “All this time, I… I had a goal! My goal was to make Mew pay! And I did! So why… why do I feel so empty? Like nothing’s been fixed? What am I missing?!”

And Mel realized.

There were times when Mel could have sworn that Repeat knew what she was thinking, and the same was true in reverse. Of course, she was psychic, which made it easier than for other humans and Pokemon. Even so, reading minds wasn’t something that Mel could normally do, but sometimes – rarely – Repeat’s emotional state synced up with hers so well that they operated as one.

Mel and Repeat knew what to do.

They knew what Degree Absolute was missing.

Mel drew one of the photos she’d gotten from Hyacinth from her bag, looked it over, then, drawing on powers she’d only become aware of recently, she changed.

“This can’t be everything,” Degree muttered. “I must be able to do something else…” She looked up.

A young girl holding a Ditto looked back at her. She was small and she had thick raven-black hair, and her hefty glasses reflected the harsh fluorescent light.

“Oh… child.” Degree cautiously floated a few feet forward. “You don’t belong here, child. Are you lost? Do you know where… where your home…” She faltered, then dropped to the ground. “You… I know you.”

The child watched her.

“I know who you are. Why do I know who you are?! I’ve never seen you before! But… you…” Degree extended an arm, her hand nearly brushing the child’s face.

The child didn’t flinch.

“Wait… you… your name is… Moon.”

The child nodded slowly.

“You’re Moon. No. No, that can’t be right. Moon is gone. Why do I know that? Moon’s gone. Because…” Degree’s eyes widened. “I’m Moon. I’m Moon. You can’t be Moon because…” She fell to her knees. “I remember. I remember it all. I remember everything!” She backed up, her eyes losing focus. “What… what have I done…?”

“Now, boss!” the Ditto said. The child nodded and charged forward, changing shape – into a larger human – before tackling Degree. Degree fell backwards, landing inside one of the pods, and the door slammed shut automatically.

“Now, Bill!” Mel called, once again in her natural form.

Bill, never one to argue with people who could take his head off if they wanted to, tapped a key on his laptop. The machines whirred into life once more and electricity bounced around the inside of the warehouse.

When it died down, both doors opened. Inside one was Degree Absolute, kneeling on the ground, sobbing. The other…


In the blink of an eye, Nia disappeared, replaced by a Mew; the Mew soared out of the pod as fast as it could towards the warehouse’s entrance.

“No.” Mel reached up and grabbed Mew by the tail. “You still don’t get it, do you?”

“Kid! What are you playin’ at?” Mew’s voice projected into Mel’s head, but it still bore hints of Nia’s accent. “Lemme go! It’s too dangerous here!”

“You’re a legendary Pokemon! When are you gonna start acting like it?” Mel said, fire in her eyes. “You running away is what started all this, isn’t it? So, what, knowing that, you’re just gonna do it again?”

“That’s big, comin’ from you!” Mew hissed. It tried to tug its tail away from Mel, but her grip refused to relent. “I’ve been keepin’ an eye on you all this time and I don’t care what you said, runnin’ is your thing too!”

Mel yanked Mew down to eye level. “Did you forget? I’m not disagreeing there. But I’m not about to hit the road in the middle of all’a this, like you were about to. Now you listen to me. This whole mess is your fault. So you’re gonna fix it.”

“How?” asked Mew, its eyes narrow. “Look, kid, we’re family, but I gotta say, I’m not likin’ how you’re talkin’ to me right now.”

“I don’t care if you like it or not!” Mel balled her free hand into a fist. “Are you telling me you can’t think of a single way to make this situation better?!”

“Boss.” Repeat’s voice was calm and level, and it cut cleanly through the argument. “I think I got something.” He climbed up to the top of Mel’s head, where he could stare down at Mew. “You were Degree Absolute’s Pokemon, weren’t you?”

Mew shifted its eyes away. “Well, not technically, but…”

“And was Degree Absolute right in what she was saying, that you disappeared right after she went through trauma?”

“I… I guess, but I just couldn’t bear to face her again—”

“Well,” said Repeat, “here’s your chance. Degree Absolute remembers the kid she used to be. She knows all about the childhood she didn’t get to finish. She recognizes everything that she’s done since taking over Genesis. She’s grieving. So you’re going to help her. You’re going to be Pete again for her. You’re going to make sure she ends up better than she is now. And you’re going to stay with her this time. Until she doesn’t need you by her side anymore, however long that might take. And you’re going to do it because she was your friend, and she needs help.” He glowered, his expression fiercer than most Ditto could generally muster. “Understand?”

Mew looked over Mel’s shoulder, at Degree, still collapsed in the pod. “I… I do.”

“And,” added Mel, “the two of you are also going to find the other people in Genesis and back them down from the ledge. I don’t need them after me again.”

“Can’t I just get Uxie to wipe their memories?” Mew said with an exaggerated pout.

“No.” Mel let go of Mew’s tail, ready to grab it again at the first sign of Mew trying to bolt. “So do we have a deal or what?”

Mew sighed. “Yeah. We do. But only ’cause we’re family, you know. Now can we be done here, kid?”

“I don’t think so. Sit down. Or… hover down or something.” Mel stacked a few planks of wood on top of each other and sat on it. “You and me, we got some talking to do. We’re family, like you said. So what does that mean for me?”


In another time, in another place, there was a child.

The time was ages and ages ago. The place was a lone island that would eventually be named by the humans ‘Birth Island’. The child was the scion of Mew – Mew and a mortal Ditto.

It was a special place to both Mew and its offspring, as it was there that the Mew-child was born for the first time. It lived its life, but as all mortal creatures did, it eventually died.

Its soul persisted, reincarnating into another creature. It lived. It died.

This process continued.

Eventually, though, the Mew-child stopped living full lives. It would be killed, or, worse, it would die trying to defend itself. Its reincarnations would happen faster and faster. As soon as the humans found out what face the Mew-child was wearing, they closed in.

And so, at this other time, on Birth Island, Mew and its child met.

They agreed that, for the first time, the Mew-child would reincarnate as a human.

Its memories, most of its powers, an entire facet of its being, would be locked away in its own mind, until the time came that the seal was weak enough for certain reminders to break it entirely.

Mew would watch it from afar, trying not to interfere. It was, admittedly, capricious, and only time would tell how well it kept that promise.

The Mew-child needed to keep living, free from the cycle of senseless deaths.

It was, and would be, the creature of past and future.


“…So that’s it,” Mew said, looking at the ground. “That’s everything. Look, I know we’re not on great terms right now, but I do care about you. I want you to be safe. You’re my kid, kid.”

Mel crossed her arms. “You got weird ways of showing it.”

“Mm. I gotta admit, I’m worried about you, kid.” Mew floated up near Mel’s head and began making lazy loops around her. “I mean… people know about you now. You can’t keep it secret forever.” It watched over Mel’s shoulder as Hyacinth finally entered the warehouse, immediately tending to the still-unconscious Izzy. “Every time the humans knew about you, you died.”

“The only people who know are us, Hyacinth, Degree, and No.2. Hyacinth won’t tell anyone, No.2 isn’t an issue anymore, and you’re gonna be keeping an eye on Degree.”

“Plus,” Repeat added, “I have a gut feeling that Degree’s not going to be in a hurry to tell anyone about everything she’s done.”

“Still.” Mew floated to a stop in front of Mel’s face. “As long as you know, it’s gonna slip out somehow. It always does.”

Mel frowned, running the thought through her mind. “So what are you suggesting?”

“Hear me out. We get Uxie. We call in a favor. We erase your knowledge of being my kid from your mind. Lock everything back down.” Mew spread its arms, pleading. “If you don’t even know, that’s the best camouflage. Or, failin’ that, you keep yourself hidden away somewhere real hard to get to. Like Mount Silver! Only guy who hangs around there is this mortal trainer named Red, and he can keep a secret like nobody else. But we need to keep you safe, one way or another.” It offered up a tentative smile. “So, kid? What do you think?”

No answer was immediately forthcoming. Mel stared up towards the ceiling and rubbed her temples. Eventually, she made eye contact with Mew again. “Okay,” she said. “Here’s my decision.”