A very great chapter!
A very GREAT ending. xD
Before the battle, Selene was full of lulz. xD
The battle was very well done. Quick but still detailed and not even sounding rushed.
Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it. It was fun to just let my mind drift in crazy directions and have Selene ramble a shaggy frog story to Toxica.
Oh well, awaiting for the next chapter~
Here it is:
Chapter Sixty-Seven: Brain and Brawn
Boreas burst into Octa's room. “We need to talk.”
The Serperior frowned. “The civilised thing to do is to knock on one's door and request entrance.”
“Yes, I know. But I'm bursting into your room and telling you we're going to talk and we're going to do it right now.”
Octa sighed. “I know what this is about, my dear fellow, and I ask you not to get involved in it. I already had a word with Toxica.”
“So I heard. As did the entire rest of the League. That shouting match also sounded like she didn't make you see reason, so that's why I'm here instead.”
“Do not presume to lecture me on reason,” said Octa icily.
“Look,” said Boreas, “this is really very simple. Do you love Toxica or don't you?”
“Of course I do. However, you are naïvely mistaken. My dear fellow, 'tis not as simple as that, and I'm afraid love has nothing to do with it.”
Boreas sat down. “Of course it is. And why would it be any less simple than you loving her and she loving you?”
While Octa seemed calm at first glance, Boreas could clearly hear the hint of suppressed emotion – probably anger and maybe sadness - in his voice. “Because much though I wish I could give in to my love for a commoner like her, there is too much at stake for it. Our love is detrimental to me, and has already eroded much of my nobility.”
Boreas rolled his eyes and gave Octa a disbelieving look. “You can't seriously be back to that rubbish again.”
“Rubbish?!” said Octa angrily. “Yes, I thought 'twas rubbish as well; you actually had me convinced of it. But now there is empirical evidence to suggest 'tis no mere rubbish.”
“My failure on Victory Road, of course. I'm sure you remember when I simply lay down and waited for death to come in the darkest hour.”
Boreas did remember it, with a pang of regret. It was not one of his proudest memories. “How we lay down and waited for death, you mean. Following my example... That wasn't your fault, Octa, it was mine.”
“Irrelevant. It makes my shame worse, as a matter of fact. I am of the house of Equinox; I should have led you on, never giving up hope. The fact I didn't shows how diminished I have become.”
“But it seemed certain we were going to die. It had all the looks that no amount of bravery would save us. And you even tried to get me to continue...”
“And then my heart faltered and I gave up too. The apparent hopelessness of the situation was no excuse; I should never have surrendered regardless; 'tis not becoming of one of noble blood.”
Boreas frowned. “So you blame Toxica for it.”
“No!” Octa almost shouted. “I blame myself! She is a truly wonderful lady deserving of love; however, I never should have broken tradition and courted her. 'Tis this breaking of tradition, my family's wishes, that caused me to diminish. An Equinox is nothing if he doesn't follow the rules. It was folly to presume to be wiser than thirty-four generations of my ancestors.”
“Octa,” sighed Boreas, “I've told you before: what's the point of following bad rules? You think following rules and being descended from the right people makes you a good person, but I think you're wrong. What's important is the choices you make.”
“Very wise,” sneered Octa, “but you are mistaken. And 'tis my life in any case; why do you interfere?”
“Because you're my friend, because Toxica is my friend, because I want you both to be happy, and... Because I promised Capella.”
“Yes, Capella. We found out about your family's habits shortly before she died, and promised each other we would get you together with someone you loved, not someone chosen for you. Since she's no longer around to help you with her wisdom, I'll have to do it on my own.”
“Ah, you promised,” said Octa sarcastically. “And merely a minute ago you explained to me the choices you make are important, not doing things because you are obligated to. And as you have clearly demonstrated in the past, promises are subject to this as well.”
Boreas frowned angrily. “If you want to play it like that, then alright: I choose to keep to that promise. Because I liked Capella greatly, and for some reason that escapes me right now I like you too. So I will make sure you don't throw your happiness away.”
“Then do not interfere in my life,” said Octa, “how can I possibly be happy if my relationship with Toxica makes me less noble?”
“Don't you realise that even if that were true, you are being very egotistic? You're breaking her heart because you don't want to make a bit of a sacrifice!”
Octa looked confused and surprised. “Well... I, I hadn't thought of it in that manner...”
“D'you know who you sound like with all this? Your great-aunt. But if you can't break your family's rules because it'll weaken you, why are you even talking to me? I'm just a common Glaceon, after all, with not a clue who his family is beyond his parents' names. Your ancestors would never consider me more than a lowly subordinate, our frienship is against your family's traditions too.”
“An obsolete idea only practised in the past and by those determined to repeat its mistakes.”
“Yeah, and so is the idea you have to love who your family tells you to! What's such an important distinction between friendship and love that makes one okay but the other not anyway?”
“You are unlikely to birth my children. I can't take their noble blood away from them. Now please,” said Octa, with almost breaking voice, “leave me alone.”
Boreas ignored it. “That's crap, Octa, and you've known it for ages! Your descendants won't be any lower for descending from Toxica! She's every bit as good as any member of your house.”
“YES!” Boreas startled heavily as Octa shouted furiously. “YES, SHE IS! BUT I WON'T BE IF I CONTINUE LIKE THIS! My love for her has embarked me upon a descent from greatness! If I continue like this, I'll end up cowardly, weak, and mundane... And so will my descendants.” Octa suddenly turned away from Boreas and added with breaking voice: “Leave me in peace now, please.”
“Oh, so your genes are actually going to change because of what you do in life? That's a form of evolution I've never heard of. You're not worried about your descendants, they'll have the same genes no matter what. No, the only person you're worried about is you.”
Octa was still turned away. “Leave me alone,” he said in a muffled voice.
“You're worried you won't be able to admire yourself in the mirror any more, you're worried the great Octavianus VII of the house of Equinox will be remembered as just some ordinary fellow. If you're remembered at all.”
“You're being incredibly selfish! And for no reason at all-”
“GET OUT!” Octa shouted, fury in his eyes. “LEAVE ME ALONE!”
Boreas was shocked by the sudden outburst and staggered back, but was determined to continue. “No, I won't! The only reason you're this furious is because you know I'm right, and it hurts!”
“Get out, or you'll be the one who is hurt!”
“I'm willing to be hurt to help you,” growled Boreas.
“I do not want your help!” snapped Octa.
“Octa, you don't like to lie. So tell me, honestly, that you don't love Toxica and that you're trying to preserve your noble blood for anyone but yourself! I will leave if you do!”
For a moment it looked as if Octa was going to attack him, but then the anger seemed to leave him and he looked deflated and weak, letting his head hang. “I cannot. Please forgive me, my dear fellow...”
Boreas was surprised by the sudden moodswing, but remembering how he had felt when he had discovered Aqua had joined N, felt more sympathetic towards Octa. “I can forgive you, but it's not me you should be asking for forgiveness; it's Toxica.”
“I'm sorry, my dear fellow, but I fear I cannot do that... You see, in life one has to ask oneself an important question: who am I? I have known the answer for a long time; I am a descendant of the great Equinox. It defined who and what I am, my behaviour, my thinking. I cannot give that up, for it is who I am.”
Boreas put a friendly paw on Octa's neck. “Nonsense,” he smiled, “that's not really who you are. You're my best friend. You're Toxica's lover. You're, well, Octa. The Snivy who took care of a little Eevee when he had no-one else in the world to turn to. Who's had my back ever since and saved my life many times. You've fought to help others from Team Plasma. You've always been there for me; that's who you really are, not the distant descendant of a long-dead hero.”
“Thank you, my dear fellow... But the reason I am who I am is my blood; it makes me who I am; therefore I can't relinquish it.”
“Landorus, Octa,” snapped Boreas, “you descend from Equinox by thirty-five generations. How much of his genes do you think you actually have? Tell me, how much is one divided by two to the thirty-fifth power?”
“Not much,” mumbled Octa.
“That's right, it's as good as zero. I'll bet you I contain about as much of his genes as you.”
“You're a different species,” said Octa.
“Oh yeah,” said Boreas. “So I am. Still, don't you see that 'blood' stuff you keep talking about is poetic rubbish? It's just simple logic.”
Octa was at a loss for words. “But... Please, my dear fellow, you are not helping. You're only lowering my morale with this.”
“No. I've never argued against your belief your ancestry makes you a better person, but now it's hurting you and Toxica, so I'm forced to try to end it. But let me tell you: you're a good Serperior. Not because of who you descend from, but because you choose to be. You choose to be utterly loyal to your friends, you choose to fight to try to make the world a better place, you choose not to give in to terror.”
“Tell me,” said Octa snidely, “for how long have you embraced this philosophy of choice you're spouting?”
Boreas blushed. “Well... To tell you the truth I made it up just now. But it sounds good.”
“Yet you will likely have forgotten about it in a week or so.”
“No, I won't.”
“You will; mark my words. However, I should know better by now than to question your chaotic nature. I shall take your words under consideration, for you may have made a good argument. However, right now I do think I should retire to bed, for it is late.”
“Fine,” said Boreas. “But I really want you to think about it.”
“I shall,” said Octa. “Goodnight, my dear fellow.”
“Goodnight.” Boreas slowly walked out of the room, concerned but happy he had made Octa think twice about breaking up. He sighed deeply as he closed the door behind him, suddenly overcome with exhaustion. He slouched back to his room, worried about Octa. He yawned loudly as he entered his own room and went straight for the bed. As he crawled under the big, warm blanket, a pretty blue face suddenly popped up next to him.
Boreas' worries seemed to melt away in front of Aqua's enchanting smile, though not his tiredness. “How did it go?” she asked.
He pet her face a bit, enjoying the feel of her soft fur. “It wasn't easy, but I think I got through to him. He's going to think about it...”
Aqua chuckled, a sound that made Boreas feel happy just like that. “You must've been very persuasive; I didn't think you could do anything after that lengthy shouting match they had earlier.”
“Well...” said Boreas, having trouble keeping his eyes open. “It took a lot of convincing...”
“And it tired you out. Well, go on, my love, sleep and rest here in my arms.”
Boreas snuggled up to her closely, relishing in the contact with her, and kissed her goodnight. “Goodnight... My lovely Aqua...”
As he drifted off to sleep, he felt Aqua softly petting him. On the border of sleep, he could only think of how much he loved her, and then felt regret remembering he still hadn't told her...
As they walked into the main League building, Boreas' mind was elsewhere. He had dreamt about the day they had teamed up with N that night. It had refreshed his guilt over his plans to kill Diego, but especially his guilt for not having told Aqua yet. As he woke up with her sleeping peacefully in his arms, he felt like he didn't deserve her love. But what if she felt the same? It would be terrible if she thought he didn't deserve her love too and broke up with him. Yet he loved her too much to keep deceiving her; he was going to tell her today. He just needed to find a good moment for it. It certainly wasn't when she woke up, nor during the incredibly silent and awkward breakfast that followed and involved Toxica shooting dagger-like glances at Octa.
They had reached Marshal's tower while he pondered this. The room inside was quite ugly and metallic, with a metal platform on rails that took them up; it felt a bit similar to a factory floor. There was a simple fighting ring at the top, surrounded by ropes and then tall fences. On the other side of the ring stood a huge, muscular man. He stood so still and was so huge he could easily be mistaken for a statue.
Black said: “My name is-”
A loud, deep voice like thunder interrupted him. “Do you wish to challenge me?”
Marshal's voice took Boreas back more than a year, to a fierce and stormy day in Nimbasa when he had heard that same voice say the exact same thing. “Well, well,” he chuckled, “I was wondering if we'd see him again here...”
“Well, yes,” said Black a little nonplussed. “I'm here to challenge you. Again. Like in Nacrene City, because I'm pretty sure that was you. But this time, I-”
Marshal roared a guttural battle cry and threw a pokéball, releasing a green creature with a long tail and a mushroom-like head. “Hold on!” interrupted Black. “Tell me what you were doing in Nacrene, and why you won't let me fight N!”
“Fight, don't talk!” roared Marshal.
“Fine. Selene, you're up first!”
Selene jumped into the air, and Boreas' hope soared with her. There was no way a flying type like her was going to lose to a grass and fighting type like Breloom. It would be good to start the battle off with an easy victory. Selene floated over the battlefield in preparation for an attack, leaving the fighting type chanceless to even hit her at all.
Or so Boreas thought. Because Breloom launched itself into the air, twisted around, and caught Selene hard with the heavy end of its tail, sending her tumbling into the roof with great force. Boreas cursed under his breath as she whirled down slowly, like a leaf in autumn. But just before she would hit the ground, Selene spread her wings and swooped rapidly at Breloom. The effect of her attack was incredible: Breloom was thrown across the battlefield and caught by the ring ropes. It hopped to its feet and tried to hit Selene with a Jump Kick, but the crow dodged it. Selene flew at it again, her talons ready, and scratched it. Breloom fell down and didn't get up again.
Wordlessly, Marshall withdrew Breloom and sent out Conkeldurr. Boreas was surprised with its small size; he remembered it being huge, but it wasn't much taller than he'd be if he got up on two legs. But the comically red-nosed creature was very strong regardless of size. It had taken out their entire team almost single-handedly last time, after all.
Selene once again swooped down at her enemy. But as she came close rapidly, Conkeldurr swung one of its concrete pillars like a baseball bat. Boreas groaned as Selene was swatted out of the air like a fly.
Toxica stepped in, an Energy Ball in each hand. Conkeldurr growled in pain as it was hit by them, and angrily tried to smash Toxica with one of its pillars. Toxica nimbly dodged the great piece of stone coming down and slapped Conkeldurr with a burst of green energy. She emitted a thick cloud of pollen from her flower, but then Conkeldurr caught her with a punch that sent her flying into the ropes. Bruised and hurt, she got back up and dived immediately to dodge her enemy's body slam. She jumped on its back, and roots grew rapidly from her feet. Conkeldurr jumped up, but Toxica hung from its back by the roots. Judging by Conkeldurr's face and pained growls, it didn't exactly feel pleasant.
Conkeldurr maniacally tried to pluck Toxica from its back, but its huge, muscular arms weren't agile enough to reach its back. It waddled idiotically while trying to pick her off as it got visibly weaker. Marshall shouted a command, and Conkeldurr dropped on its back immediately, crushing Toxica under it.
Boreas stepped forward; it was his turn. “Long time no see,” he said, “remember me?” He cooled the air in the tower as he talked, hoping he could keep the burly creature distracted with talk while he made the battlefield more to his advantage. “I beat you, and this time I- Articuno's oesophagus!”
Sprinting away while at the same time hitting it with a powerful wind were the only things that saved him from being crushed by the heavy stone pillar Conkeldurr threw at him. Yet he felt a vicious pain as he was pelleted by shrapnel from its impact. He noticed a massive fist coming at him, and so he immediately dived under the legs of his opponent so the punch harmlessly hit his tail instead.
Boreas dug his teeth into Conkeldurr's leg and ran for it, summoning a snowstorm as he did. A mighty impact to his flank that threw him off his feet painfully told him he wasn't fast enough. Spun around, he now faced the furious, roaring Conkeldurr, which lifted up its heavy fists, ready to crush Boreas. Boreas Ice Beamed its belly, making it flinch in pain and giving him a chance to dodge the punch. He ran for the other side of the ring, gathering a storm, as he realised he had no chance unless he kept his distance.
He heard his opponent run after him, however, so he jumped into the ropes instead of stopping and was bounced back by them, past his confused opponent. He lashed out and enveloped his opponent in cold from behind, cloaking it in mist. Conkeldurr charged him furiously, so he froze over the ground in front of its feet, making it slip and fall. Cloaking himself in a fierce blizzard, he pounced his fallen enemy, but was knocked away by a huge fist.
Groaning in pain, he tried to get up when he landed hard, but his battered legs didn't cooperate. Conkeldurr ran for him like a stampeding rhino by the time he got up. Thinking quickly, he focussed the snowstorm around himself, making sure he was as good as invisible to Conkeldurr, then simply sidestepped. Conkeldurr punched blindly into the icy haze, and Boreas simply sneaked out of the side, repressing the urge to laugh at the fighting-type punching into the cloud. He walked to its other side and aimed a strong Ice Beam right at its neck. He fired it, and jumped onto its back, holding on as he kept Ice Beaming. It responded furiously and violently, but quickly calmed down and fell over.
Boreas heard Aqua cheer for his victory, and winked at her quickly before facing his next opponent: a thin, elegant white creature with long, oddly-shaped arms. Remembering what had happened last time he fought the Mienshao, he instantly put forth his paws to use a pulse of cold: a good choice, as the ermine had run for him so fast he couldn't even see it, but was intercepted and knocked down by the pulse just in time. He pounced it, slashing at it with his claws and ice cold wind.
He put his paws on his opponent's shoulders and channelled extreme cold through them, seeking to disable Mienshao's punches. Unfortunately it punched him off and began barraging him with rapid punches. Yet their speed and power was lower than before, so his tactic seemed to have worked. Unfortunately the rapid punches still felt like a rain of heavy stones battering down on his body. He slashed at Mienshao with his claws and pulses of cold to knock it away, then instantly followed up with an Ice Beam to its face.
He cloaked himself in the snowstorm to try and escape the attacks, but unfortunately Mienshao was a lot faster and smarter than Conkeldurr. It got several punches to Boreas' head, which made his snout bleed and his mind go foggy. But he kept fighting back and caught it with several Ice Beams, making it go down first.
Battered, wounded, and concussed he wasn't in a good form to defeat the Sawk that appeared. The blue, suited creature deftly dodged his Ice Beams and closed in. When its powerful fist connected with Boreas' chin and his consciousness drifted away, he wasn't really surprised.
Boreas woke up in a soft, warm bed in his room. He decided to skip the obvious “Where am I?” and “What happened?” questions for now, and asked: “Did we win?”
“Well, well,” chuckled Aqua, “Sleeping Beauty finally woke up! Yes, we won, albeit only barely. No thanks to me, though, Sawk punched me out pretty quickly after it got you.”
“Oh, that's a shame,” said Boreas, though he was mainly happy they had defeated another Elite Four. “But I'm sure you'll do well tomorrow. I know you're very capable of kicking ass.”
With a graceful jump, Aqua landed on the bed and on Boreas at a right angle, quickly rolling over so she faced him in a flirty, sexy pose. “Yes, you found that out first-hand, didn't you?”
Boreas blushed for several reasons. “Yeah, I guess I did. It's not really an experience I'd care to repeat. That fight was probably the only day I haven't enjoyed your company.”
“I wouldn't want to repeat it either,” said Aqua, petting his face. “By the way, you're still very cute when you blush.”
“Thanks,” chuckled Boreas, “but I'm afraid I don't have time for fun now. I have to go pay Gaius a visit.”
“The very same. I figure it can't be a coincidence that Octa's being an idiot right after he shows up, so I'm going to make him stop his meddling.”
“What if he doesn't listen to you?”
“Well, in that case he'll find out you're not the only one in this bed capable of kicking ass.”
As Boreas entered Gaius' room, he briefly wondered how many pokémon had rooms of their own in the League. But this thought was quickly pushed away by more urgent matters.
“I do not have much time to waste,” said Gaius in a voice that sounded oddly like Octa's, “and only agreed to receive you at my brother's request. So please do not tarry and make your point.”
Gaius looked oddly like Octa, yet was also different. He had a far more impressive air of grandeur about him, although it was slightly mitigated because Boreas had only ever seen him look as if there was a rotten fish glued beneath his nose. Boreas faked a smile, remembering Octa had told him to be diplomatic to Gaius when Boreas had asked him to speak to his brother. “Good evening to you too. I'm not here to make a point, just to have a little chat with you about Octa.”
“I figured as much. However, I do not have any intention to discuss my brother with the likes of you.”
Boreas forced his smile to broaden. “Come now, who better to discuss him with than his best friend?”
Gaius snorted haughtily. “Any member of our house. 'Best friend' is an empty boast, so do not employ it, for you know Octa far less well than I do.”
Boreas gritted his teeth, but kept smiling. “If that's true, then surely you know even better than me that this ridiculous idea he has is causing him to be unhappy, and you'll help me convince him to apologise to Toxica?”
Gaius guffawed. “Now I see why Octa requested me to speak to you: he wished for me to have a good laugh. So tell me,” he said, suddenly serious, “why should I oppose Octa's wise choice?”
“I already told you: being with Toxica makes him happy; isn't that reason enough?”
Gaius smiled wryly. “What has happiness got to do with it?”
“What has happiness got to do with it?! Listen to me, you-” Boreas remembered he was trying to be diplomatic, “-brother of Octa, don't you see love has everything to do with happiness?”
“I see,” said Gaius, “you are speaking of your own experiences, aren't you?”
“Well, yes. I'm in love with this girl, and I relish every moment of being with her. She makes me feel completely happy whenever I'm with her, or even whenever I think of her. When she smiles or laughs, the world feels like a better place. How can you claim to love Octa and yet try to take that away from him?”
“Do you have any progeny, sir?” asked Gaius, surprising Boreas.
“Children,” Gaius patronised. “Offspring. Cubs. Spawn. Larvae. Whatever word you wish to apply to them.”
“I know what it means!” snapped Boreas. “You just surprised me, that's all. No, I don't have any.”
“Do you and your partner intend to have any?”
Boreas stammered unsurely. He couldn't remember ever having talked about it with Aqua. He didn't really think he wanted them himself, considering the enormous amount of time and trouble it would be to raise a child, not to mention how easy it would be to screw up and have some poor Eevee grow up with a bad youth. Yet there was also something appealing about the idea. “I... I... Don't think we do. I suppose we don't. I think. Probably.”
Now it was Gaius' turn to be surprised. “You don't... Know?! How can you not have an inkling about such a major choice? Surely if you have any plan for your life whatsoever this choice must be one of the most important ones?”
“I guess I'm not really someone who tends to make long-term plans. What has it got to do with anything, anyway?”
Gaius sighed. “Well, Octa does intend to have progeny. You probably don't understand this, but both Octa and I already love these hypothetical nephews and nieces of mine; and this is unconditional. Therefore, we want that which is best for them. Answer me this: what is better for them? To be born with the same gift of nobility we have, or to have it brutally robbed from them and have them be born Oddishes?”
Boreas gritted his teeth angrily. “The best for them would be to have a father and a mother who adore each other and them, not a pair who were forced to be together by a family who treats them like breeding stock!”
Gaius' face hardened. “How dare you, sir?!”
Anger exploded in Boreas like a seething volcano. “No, how dare you! You think you're better than the rest of us just because of who your ancestors are?! Because of something completely trivial like that, which you didn't even have anything to do with yourself?! At least Octa really has the greatness he claims, but because of who he is, not who his ancestors are! You, on the other hand, are nothing but a petty, control-happy tyrant who has stuck his head so far up his own arse he's well on his way to becoming a Klein bottle!”
“This discussion is over. Get out!” snarled Gaius.
“Fine! I can see you're blinded with arrogance and entitlement; there's no reasoning with you.” He stomped out of the room, then looked back. “One last piece of advice: don't ever get in the way of my friends' happiness again if you ever want to feel warm again.”
Gaius slammed the door shut, nearly catching Boreas' tail in it. He began to walk back furiously, making it hail from the clouds above in anger. At least he'd remained diplomatic for a while.