Chapter Seventy-Five: To the Death
The storm raged around them as Boreas replied: “Yes. I swore I'd kill you when you hung me from the Ferris wheel by my tail, and I was an idiot to ever relent in that. You're evil through and through.” He carefully took a step back, as he didn't want to fight so close to his much stronger enemy.
“You're indeed an idiot if you think I'm the one who'll end up dead here.” Diego cautiously took a diagonal step forward.
Boreas realised Diego was trying to get into the building behind him to prevent having to fight in the storm, which was an advantage to Boreas, so he sidestepped and blocked Diego. “Am I?” asked Boreas, trying to buy some time. “I survived all our previous battles, you know.”
Diego laughed unpleasantly as he took a step in the other direction, only to be blocked by Boreas again. “Only because I didn't want to kill you. In Nimbasa you weren't important, so I let you live out of simple kindness. In Icirrus, my plan was to infiltrate your team, not to kill you. And this morning, I let you live because N was there, and he had enough doubts already.”
A ball of fire suddenly flashed in the corner of Boreas' eye, shooting towards him. In a reflex he ducked, even as he realised it was a mistake. Diego dived past him at the very same moment; Boreas quickly twisted around to have his face to the Zoroark, who was now much closer to the relative safety of the building. But they didn't fight yet: Diego was still too exposed and Boreas too close to his enemy to want to start. “So what about Opelucid?” Boreas cautiously walked backwards as he talked. “Why didn'tyou kill me there?”
Diego seemed uncomfortable with the question. He slowly walked backwards too: neither of them dared to turn their back on their enemy nor walk backwards faster, because if they tripped the other would win with barely a fight. “A mistake,” he finally admitted. “I had spent so much time pretending to be Zeph I had become used to it, and in a moment of confusion felt compassion for you. But it won't happen again. I have dealt with that weakness by dealing with N. You'll get what Team Plasma's enemies deserve.”
Boreas had actually suspected something like that. He gathered the storm to him, cloaking himself in hail and snow. “What you call weakness, others would call having a heart. You're bad to the bone, and deserve death.”
Their duel began as Diego reached the building: Boreas fired several Ice Beams at him, content he was at a safe distance by now. However, darkness swallowed all of them with a wave of Diego's paw. Boreas had to dodge a dark beam, and then created a powerful icy wind to freeze Diego with. But the Zoroark retreated into the building. “I'll just go tell Giallo of your little plan so he can protect Ghetsis!”
Boreas cursed. It was obviously a trap, yet he couldn't just run off and kill Ghetsis: with white Kyurem protecting him, that'd take a lot of skill and guile; and he just wouldn't have the time if Giallo could arrive at any moment. He sprinted after Diego, cloaked tightly in icy winds to at least give him a chance to dodge the Zoroark's inevitable ambush. He sent the winds in ahead of him to curl around the perimeter of the door, where Diego was most likely hiding behind, waiting to break Boreas' skull. Then he sprinted inside, turning to the right immediately, gambling Diego was on that side.
He wasn't, though; and neither was he on the left. Realising where he was, Boreas rushed away just in time for the Zoroark's heavy foot to land on his shoulder instead of his head as he dropped from above. He was slammed hard to the ground, but as Diego went for the kill he rolled under him, dodging the Zoroark's foot trying to crush his head and Ice Beaming him in the crotch. As Diego howled in pain and folded double, Boreas grabbed him by the head and pumped a pulse of cold right through his brain. But then severe pain filled Boreas as a sharp kick broke at least one of his ribs and threw him clear of his nemesis.
Boreas managed to jump to his feet despite the agony in his side and rapidly took a few steps back, away from the enraged Zoroark. But Diego put out his hands and before Boreas could do more than be surprised, arcs of lightning hit him, his flesh feeling on fire wherever they hit. He screamed in pain and wished only for it to end. He had experienced many types of pain by now, but this sheer agony might just be the worst. It went on and on, and when the torment ended at last, Boreas' body and mind needed to recover. But there was no time, as he could hear Diego running towards him, planning to end his life. Boreas rolled onto his side and froze the ground before Diego, making him trip and fall on the back of his head. They were both left lying on the ground recovering.
“That... Always works,” panted Boreas triumphantly. “But Zoroarks can't even learn electric attacks... How did you do that?!”
Rubbing the bleeding back of his head as he slowly got up, Diego said: “Electricity? Just because it looks like electricity doesn't mean it is.”
No electricity, then. Boreas realised the lightning had only brought pain, but hadn't made his muscles spasm nor burnt him; maybe it was some kind of dark attack intended to cause agony to its victims. As Diego put out his arms again, Boreas instinctively froze his fur down to a reflective coat. When the strange lightning hit again, it was still agonising, but also reflected back to Diego, who quickly stopped as he screamed in his own lightning.
“Got anything better than fake lightning?” Boreas taunted.
“Yes,” Diego grinned. “Real fire.” He breathed a blazing ray of flames. Boreas dived into the room to his side to dodge the fire, and found himself in N's room. Boreas quickly cooled down the air in the large room full of toys and began forming a storm as he rushed for cover behind N's large, curtained bed. When Diego appeared in the door, Boreas threw a model train lying about, accelerating it with a strong icy gale to hit Diego like a comet. The Zoroark stood absolutely still when he saw the train speeding towards him, and knocked it to pieces with a perfectly timed chop of the arm just before he was hit.
“Come now, Boreas, aren't you too old to play with toys?” Diego mocked as he walked into the room. Boreas focused his small storm's full intensity on Diego now that he had no cover at all, using the full extent of his ice powers, which unleashed a huge cloud of mist that obscured the Zoroark for a few moments.
“Completely ignoring cover?” mocked Boreas as his view of Diego being pelleted by the rain of liquid air returned. “I thought you were smarter than this.”
Diego tried to continue on, but was rapidly freezing in the intense Blizzard, stumbling to his knees. Boreas was rapidly getting exhausted, but unleashed all his anger in the Blizzard, relishing the chance to finally give payback to Diego. The Zoroark's eyes froze over, and much of his skin was showing severe signs of frostbite as he finally collapsed completely. Boreas panted victoriously.
Too easy, way too easy! Warned a voice in his head, and at that moment his saw something big move fast from the corner of his eye and dived under the bed, receiving only a kick like the impact of a heavy mallet on his thigh instead of being entirely grappled by the huge Zoroark.
“Guess what?!” Laughed the Zoroark triumphantly as Boreas scurried away under the bed despite being teary-eyed with pain from his leg and side now. “I am!”
Boreas weakly Ice Beamed Diego's foot, too exhausted by the Blizzard he'd wasted on an illusion to do much more right now. He knew the Zoroark would probably throw the bed over soon, which would give Boreas a few seconds to either fight or flee, as it was toobig and heavy even for Diego to do so easily. But he did no such thing; he just stood there as Boreas breathed rapidly to regain his stamina, racing his brain to try and think what devilish scheme Diego might be up to this time. He felt very warm with exhaustion and his breathing barely seemed to offer relief. In fact, as some time passed, both got worse and worse. That bastard set the bed on fire! He suddenly thought and moved to scurry out from under the bed on the side opposite of Diego's feet. However, he changed his mind and went towards Diego's feet instead, confident they were illusions and Diego was actually waiting on the other side to kill him the moment he emerged.
His suspicions both turned out to be right: the bed was ablaze and Diego was on the other side of it, standing atop one of the chairs so his real feet couldn't be seen before. Boreas blew the fire on the bed with a strong wind, igniting Diego's arm. He yelled in pain and surprise and rolled over the floor while Boreas quickly climbed on top of one of the tall bookcases, gave a strong push against the wall, and jumped off onto another one as it fell. Unfortunately Diego was too quick and wasn't crushed by the bookcase as Boreas intended. He jumped off the new bookcase to dodge the Flamethrower aimed for him that ignited it, and hit Diego in the throat with an Ice Beam.
The larger fox collapsed, choking and clutching his throat, and Boreas jumped onto him, planning to finish it. But there was a flash of darkness just before he landed, his entire body flared with pain, and then an impact like a meteor to his stomach punched him away; he landed hard, model train tracks digging into his back and feeling dreadfully nauseous. Diego and Boreas both got up slowly, hurt badly. The entire room was wrecked by now, and most of it was on fire.
“How appropriate for you to ruin this room,” spat Boreas, “since it's where you ruined N's life with your brainwashing!”
Diego growled. “And what do you know about it? Nothing! I educated N to be our weapon, yes, but I always did so with kindness and friendship. N had everything he could ever wish for!”
“Except freedom!” snapped Boreas. “He was a sentient being, not a tool for you to use, no matter how many excuses you think you have!”
“N would never even have lived without us, have you considered that? He was born only because Ghetsis needed a 'hero'. Since Team Plasma gave him life, his service as our tool was just repayment. And he even failed at that task!”
“Every time I think there might be some good deep within you, you once again show me the monster I've sworn to kill far too many times.”
“Enough talk! I will enjoy seeing the light leave your eyes, Boreas!”
Octa was beginning to realise everything depended on Boreas. When a few of his family had managed to break through and joined them against Giallo, he had had hope the might of Equinox might actually bring them victory, or allow others to get behind enemy lines as well. But after the enemy's surprise wore off, they became very deadly once again. They would have stood some chance against Ghetsis' and Giallo's normal teams, but Kyurem and Metagross were terribly powerful. He had already seen two distant relatives get instantly frozen to the bone and then shattered by Kyurem's sheer power. Octa and his father were now fighting Kyurem together, leaving Metagross to Aqua and Toxica.
It was as if they were no more than annoying insects to the legendary, their every attack a hindrance at best, while Kyurem's were utterly devastating to them. They fought for their lives and those of everyone else, but could do little more than keeping it busy.
Kyurem's claw came for Octa, wreathed in deadly cold energy as he stabbed it ineffectively in the leg, but Kyurem flinched as it was hit by a powerful Energy Ball and Octa managed to barely dodge the lethal attack. It wasn't his father who had saved him, however, but his sister Livia, who was fighting Scizor.
Octa decided to help her defeat it, as it seemed they could with the two of them. “Thank you.”
“You're welcome, brother,” she replied as she parried Scizor's great claw with her blade. “Glad I get a chance to talk to you. Do we have any plan here, or is this a heroically doomed battle?”
“I do hope it's the first,” said Octa as he stabbed his blade through a small crack in the insect's armour; he had already explained the plan to their father, so he repeated it briefly to Livia as they fought Scizor together.
“I see,” summarised Livia as she nimbly dodged an attack. “So all we've got to do is keep our opponents busy so your friend can kill Ghetsis, if he somehow makes it past this other Kyurem?”
“Indeed,” said Octa. “I know 'tis unlikely, but it seems to be our best hope. Besides, my friend is sharper than most.”
Octa saw their chance and wildly attacked Scizor time and again, forcing it to focus on him, which allowed Livia to take advantage of the cracks in its armour and stab her blade deep into it. “I do not doubt it; 'tis still unlikely, but fighting for a good cause at unlikely odds is the duty of any Equi- of any good person,” she corrected herself.
Octa nodded. “Thanks. You do not oppose my decision then?” he asked as they slithered back to Kyurem, firing Energy Balls at it.
“Of course not, brother. I-” she had to dodge a huge Ice Beam, “-consider Toxica a friend, and could imagine no better choice for you to make. I do wish some pig-headed idiots wouldn't get all worked up about it, though. Once this is all over and we all have a chance to talk, I'll help you smooth things out.”
Octa was about to thank her again, but something horrifying happened: Lord Publius was hit by a gigantic lightning bolt from Kyurem. They furiously attacked it and rushed over, but it was too late: their father had died instantly from the tremendous shock.
“No!” cried Octa. “Father, no, you can't die!”
He felt agonising loss fill him with despair and fury. Enraged, he stabbed at Kyurem again and again, until it polarised itself so he got such a bad shock on his next stab all his muscles spasmed and he launched himself backwards. As he hit the ground away from Kyurem, he was snapped out of his rage and heard his kin say: “Lord Publius Cornelius is dead!”
As soon as they heard it, most of the house turned to Gaius. “Gaius, what are your orders? What do we do?” they asked, panicky.
Gaius looked at the battlefield with eyes wide-open with shock, looking at his father's corpse and Kyurem killing yet another family member with a single attack. “The day is lost!” he shouted. “There is valour in continuing to fight to the bitter end, but we have a duty towards our House! We cannot throw away our lives that might serve better later! Retreat! Retreat!”
The two foxes continued their duel even as the fire spread from N's room and lit much of the building on fire. Boreas' Blizzards only seemed to make the problem worse, as the wind helped the fire spread and the liquid air they produced fuelled the flames greatly. Boreas would have liked to just flee outside, as the fire terrified him and made the air painful to breathe, but he couldn't risk Diego warning Giallo of his plan. He had no choice but to fight wherever Diego chose to. However, even Diego had been forced to flee the burning room by now, and the corridor was rapidly becoming an inferno as well. Boreas fled into another room.
The fire had already spread to this room, but it wasn't entirely ablaze yet. The air was painfully hot as much of the carpet and decorations were burning. There was a balcony with a door to a higher floor and stairs going there, and a long, huge table in the middle of the room that was smouldering already. Diego nimbly jumped through the fire surrounding him, avoiding combustion, and clumsily stumbled into the room as well. Boreas dug his teeth deep into the Zoroark's leg, channelling cold through his mouth, let go and rolled under his opponent to dodge the attack trying to punish him, and Ice Beamed him into the small of the back.
Diego was hurt but not defeated and swirled around angrily, throwing a bolt of darkness at Boreas, which he parried, before spewing more fire at him. Boreas yelped and rolled to extinguish his smouldering fur, and was sent flying by a kick that broke another of his ribs. Standing up quickly as he tried not to let the pain overwhelm him, he saw Diego's terrifying visage as he approached; his dark-furred face twisted with hate and the fires reflecting in his malicious purple eyes. They stood before each other for a moment, then Boreas did what he thought his enemy would least suspect: attack him physically. He pounced the far larger Zoroark and dug his claws deep into the other's chest. Diego yelped in surprise and pain as Boreas drew eight long red cuts in his black fur. He jumped off the very next moment, before he could be grabbed, and ran for the stairs.
An agonising dark bolt hit Boreas from behind and his legs gave way for a moment so he tripped onto the stairs face-down. He rolled over instantly as Diego now ran for him, and Ice Beamed the Zoroark's already bleeding leg. Diego cursed loudly and tripped too; unfortunately right on top of Boreas. Eighty kilos of Zoroark landed on top of him and dug the stairs into his back like blades, crushed the air out of his lungs, made his broken ribs burn even more, and his spine feel near-breaking.
They both tried to recover first and hit the other, but breathing was impossible with his heavy nemesis pressing on his ribcage, so all Boreas could do was cool his body down to hurt Diego. But the Zoroark put both hands to Boreas' throat, ignoring the severe frostbite he incurred in doing so, and squeezed with incredible force. Boreas couldn't breathe at all as his windpipe was crushed, even when Diego shifted his weight off his chest.
“I win again,” said Diego with an evil smirk as Boreas tried futilely to unclench his hands. He couldn't die now, when his friends were counting on him! He didn't want the final thing he saw to be his own suffocating reflection in two malicious purple eyes.
Boreas stopped struggling against Diego's iron grip on his throat and instead went for his left eye, putting his claw into it. It felt oddly tomato-like as he touched it, pressed hard, and violently tore his claw across Diego's face. Diego screamed in agony as his destroyed eye released a splatter of blood and clutched at his bleeding face with both hands. Boreas drew a breath, restoring his own energy, and blew his enemy away with a violent pulse of cold.
Diego lay on the smouldering ground, screaming and clutching his face as Boreas panted through his crushed throat, working hard for each breath. He tried to get up, but his entire oxygen-starved body protested and barely responded to him; he was only half up by the time his infuriated foe, his face drenched in madness and blood, sprinted at him. “MY EYE! MY EYE! MY EYE!” He cried like a madman. “I'll personally kill all your friends for that, once I'm done with you!”
Boreas didn't have the energy to attack and fled up the stairs, dodging lightning, but his furious enemy followed him. As he neared the top of the stairs, a tremendous impact to the back of his shoulders sent him sprawling. He looked just in time to see Diego's fist coming before it hit his face. In that instant he realised he would need to use an attack, as he would black out anyway, and would be skinned alive if the furious Zoroark wasn't taken care of. He used all his energy for a powerful blast of wind, Diego's fist hit his face with a terrible impact that sent fragments of his teeth flying around in his mouth, and just before his consciousness left he saw the Zoroark falling backwards as the wind blew him away, off the stairs, and hitting the burning table three metres lower on his back. The already weakened table collapsed and Diego disappeared into the burning wreckage as Boreas blacked out.
Lucius dodged beams and tried to keep his footing against the shaking Earth as he fought with Garchomp. The great dragon was an incredibly tough opponent, and he and Selene were just being overwhelmed by it. Some resistance guys finally fighting Ryoku's other pokémon at least took them off Lucius' back, but it wouldn't be long before the dragon killed him if this went on.
Boreas stumbled through the corridors as fast as he could in his disoriented, concussed state, with his shoulders, face, and a leg hurting very badly. As he had woken up in utter pain and with the world spinning around him, he'd seen Diego rise from the burning rubble that was the table like a furious demon. Parts of his fur had burnt off and showed bad-looking burns under them and one of his arms bled and hung limply, but the Zoroark's one-eyed face was one of pure hate and determination. Boreas knew he could finally risk fleeing from his opponent and taking the battle outside, as there was no way now Diego would just let him walk off while he went and warned Giallo: he would obviously do nothing rather than murder Boreas in the most painful way possible.
But even standing was hard for Boreas, and he'd had to spit out many broken teeth, the salt flavour of blood constantly in his mouth. His face bled at least as badly as Diego's and the world wobbled like a ship in a storm as he made his way through the corridors of the building's upper floor, which weren't burning yet. He hallucinated strange glowing orbs floating past and heard a mumbling noise as he stumbled into a wall. He was very lucky Diego was badly wounded too by his fall on the burning table, slowing him down.
He stumbled through corridors and rooms, looking for an exit, the bloodthirsty Zoroark always in pursuit. At last Boreas found a window, opened it, and climbed through, ending up on the building's roof. The storm had free reign here, making its wet and loose roof tiles even more dangerous. The roof was pretty irregular, with some higher and some lower parts. The strong gale of fresh air at least partially cleared up his mind and made it spin a little less. He could see the great battle being fought far down, as well as the tallest tower. The clouds were dark and boiling, taking on all shades of black, dark blue, and purple. Low in the south, there were brighter and yellower spots, showing the Sun was in fact up.
But he had no time to admire the view as Diego was climbing out of the window too. Boreas added strength to a gust of wind and slammed the window shut hard, making Diego's hand go through its glass. His arm got cut by it, and some glass-shards remained stuck in it. Unfazed, Diego stepped onto the roof. Boreas tried to make him slip, but he kept on walking, keeping his balance. Boreas Ice Beamed him, and his only response was to quickly wave his paw and block it with a dark-attack. Boreas felt terrified; he had never known Diego to be this determined and quiet and hateful, and he knew he would pay dearly for the eye once the Zoroark reached him.
So he cooled the storm down, making it snow and hail, and gathered it to him, both cloaking him and preparing for a very powerful Blizzard. Diego did the same as he approached; the little light there was just died near him as both his paws were enveloped by ink-black darkness. Diego stopped when there was about five metres between them. “That hurt,” he said simply, “very badly. But I'll make sure Aqua suffers at least ten times as much before I end her miserable, treacherous life too.”
The storm around Boreas went faster and faster, like an icy tornado. “You evil git, what has she got to do with it?! She's not the one that hurt you!”
“True,” said Diego. “But I will kill you quickly, as I can't wait to snuff you out. Her, on the other hand, I will have the time to have some fun with...” He grinned for the first time since Boreas had taken out his eye.
Boreas was disgusted and horrified. “To think I thought only this morning there might be more to you than pure evil...”
“I think I'll start with the eye. Except in her case, I'll remove it a lot more slowly. Starting with pulling out her eyelashes one by one. Then her eyelids. Only then will I take out her pretty black eye. Then the other one. Next, I'll break her paws. Slowly, of course, starting with each of her claws, and then-”
“Enough!” interrupted Boreas. “You can talk about your sick plans all you like, but it won't happen anyway. In a moment, you'll be dead.”
“Wrong,” said Diego, “but one of us will be anyway. Goodbye, Boreas.”
Boreas made the storm lash out at Diego with all the cold he had in him as Diego threw the sheer darkness formed around his hands. The tremendous force of Diego's attack made it like attacking a wall with his storm to Boreas. He cringed and strained to make the icy hurricane blow harder towards his enemy, as the wave of black approached. He blindly fired a few Ice Beams into the massive clashing of energies, and from the other side the dark lightning responded, poorly aimed and missing him. Boreas had to remain focussed on giving his all as the battle turned to a clash of wills. The front where his Blizzard had collided with Diego's Dark Wave was a raging, crackling freakshow of energies that slowly moved away from him when he really tried his best, and towards him when he let his focus slip for even a moment.
Keeping it up was incredibly taxing, but Boreas had no other choice. If he stopped, Diego would win and he probably wouldn't survive being hit by the front. But this stalemate was clearly bad too; he felt his energy drain by the second. He very cautiously moved a step back, and the front instantly moved towards him. He strained hard and managed to stop the raging clash of energy about two metres in front of him. He felt with his rearmost paw that the roof ended right behind him: it suddenly dropped very steeply, almost vertically. He jumped back, despite the risk of falling to his death, began to fall down, grabbed a roof tile on the sheer face of the building, just below the edge he'd fallen over. The front flew over him, leaving the air smelling of ozone.
Boreas' handhold was slippery from the rain and he had to struggle not to fall until he remembered he was a Glaceon and simply froze his paws to it. He hung to the roof's side, waiting for Diego to either come look over the edge or turn about and leave. He could hear Diego's heavy footsteps come closer and got ready to blow him off the edge and make him fall to his death the moment he checked if Boreas had really fallen. The wind howled, rain pattered, and thunder roared, making it harder to hear the Zoroark's steps, but Boreas knew he would be close soon.
A heavy thud and accompanying pain shook Boreas' brain, made him yell out in pain and surprise, and made him involuntarily loosen his paws. He realised he was falling and quickly put his front paws to the roof tiles that were passing acceleratingly fast, freezing them to it. He hang almost three metres below the edge of the roof now, his rear legs dangling in mid-air as the side of the roof ended at navel-height, only a sheer depth beneath him.
There was a cold laughter and Diego looked over the edge, holding another roof tile in his hand. “How stupid do you think I am, Boreas? I knew it wouldn't be that easy.”
Boreas' head was full of a ringing noise, and he felt blood dripping through his hair, but he remembered his plan: he made the storm suddenly blow from behind Diego. The Zoroark wasn't blown over, though.
“Really? I'm kneeled, you know, because I already knew you were going to do that. You've been getting predictable.” He tossed the roof tile a little into the air and caught it again. “Leading to your death. Don't worry, I'll tell Aqua you loved her before I kill her.” He threw the roof tile at Boreas, who had to make a very powerful wind to blow it off course before it hit him, tiring him further.
Boreas fired an Ice Beam at the one-eyed grin he hated so much, but Diego simply retracted his head for a moment, then threw another roof tile. “You know,” he said, “I could just hit you with a Dark Pulse now, but somehow it's funnier this way. A tricky fellow like you killed by a brick to the head?”
“If it's a triumph of brute force and stupidity over brains you want,” retorted Boreas, trying to reach the roof with his rear legs, as he couldn't climb with only his front legs: he needed both to keep himself hanging, “just you beating me in general would be a big one.”
Boreas managed to get hit in the shoulder instead of the head by Diego's next projectile. “Big words from a small Glaceon,” sneered Diego. “Especially one who is about to be nothing but a red smear fifty metres below. Or maybe I'll just leave you hanging here? You can't climb, so I'd give you the choice of death by hunger or falling.”
“Don't count me out yet!” Boreas tore his paws loose at the same moment he created a great upward wind, making him fly up rapidly, Ice Beam and kick the flabbergasted Diego in the face. He froze the ground under him and made the wind he was carried by spiral around, dropping Boreas on the roof's edge and blowing Diego off, aided by the slippery ground.
But the Zoroark grabbed Boreas' tail and his great weight pull him over the edge as well. Boreas pressed all four paws to the side of the roof and froze them to it, and both his tail and paws nearly tore off from Diego's weight. The ice creaked and seemed to let him go a little more every moment, as did the skin of his paws, with felt like it was getting torn off. Diego dangled in the depths under him, holding his tail with both hands. “Let go of me!” Boreas yelled as he tried to hit the Zoroark with an Ice Beam; but it was impossible to aim in that direction.
Diego's hands slipped down a little on Boreas' tail, and he struggled to climb up. “Sure, I'll just heroically sacrifice myself for the one who just took out my eye!”
Boreas felt a big hand grab a hold of his hip and dig its claws in as Diego tried to climb up. But at that moment their combined weight was too much: Boreas' left front paw tore loose from the ice, and his other paws quickly followed. Everything accelerated upwards rapidly as they were suddenly weightless. Diego grabbed Boreas tighter, realising the Glaceon's command over the winds was his only salvation, while Boreas fought to unleash himself.
Boreas tried to put his paws to Diego's head to take him out with a pulse of cold while creating a powerful upwards wind to slow their fall, but Diego intercepted one of his paws and headbutted him hard in his broken ribs. He also spread out his legs, increasing his air resistance to make him fall slower, which caused him to end up on top. Realising Diego was planning to use him as a pillow to break his fall, Boreas made the wind spin them around so he was on top, before also hitting Diego in the chest with a pulse of cold.
They had reached the ground at the bottom of the building, which was a very steep slope. Diego hit the ground first making him slightly cushion Boreas' fall; he bounced off diagonally, spinning, and hit one of the small wooden sheds here, crashing through it and hitting the ground on his back.
The impact was strangely mostly painless, but completely knocked the air out of him and filled him with nausea and a severe sense of weakness. The pain was strangely very dull, like a very bad headache. Yet he felt drained and weak and nauseous. He looked down and saw a sharp metal spike, died red now, protrude from a bleeding hole in the right side of his chest.
“Oh, not good...” he groaned. He now realised the spike had impaled him all the way through the chest and was still stuck to the ground on the other end. It was about two centimetres thick and protruded fifteen centimetres from his chest, and as Boreas moved a very slight bit, the dull pain it caused him increased sharply. He was panting rapidly, each breath giving much less oxygen than normal. He considered lifting himself off the spike, but immediately realised its presence like a plug in his body was all that kept him from instantly bleeding out right now.
He looked around shed, which had collapsed from his fall. It seemed to have been a shed for storing tools for outside construction before Boreas' fall destroyed it; spikes of the same type that had impaled him were used to mount the storage boards inside it. Boreas grabbed the spike with both front paws and very cautiously tried to see if he could break it off under his body. There was no movement to it, and only a throb of nauseating pain as he tried. “Bugger.”
While the spike's painful pressure inside the wound kept him from bleeding too much, he did realise he really had to get medical attention soon if he wanted to survive this. He carefully lifted his torso a centimetre, whimpering at the agony it caused, and directed a cold wind under him, hoping to make the part of the spike that was still attached to the ground brittle with cold so he could break it off.
After a minute of trying to free himself like this, his teeth clenched in pain, he saw Diego stumbling towards him. The Zoroark had clearly broken an arm, and possibly a leg as he walked very poorly, but laughed as he saw Boreas' predicament. “Bad luck, huh? I have half a mind to just leave you there. On the other hand... I want to kill you myself. So I'll just liberate you from that spike instead.”
Boreas grabbed the spike himself, hoping he had made it brittle enough to break off, and gave it a strong yank. Tears of pain streamed through his fur and Diego approached, but the spike wouldn't break at first. Only when Diego was almost at him, there was a breaking noise, and Boreas could move again; enough to stand up anyway. Since Diego was so close by and surprised, Boreas froze a long, sharp point of ice to his left paw and slashed at his enemy, cutting a deep red cut into his already wounded leg. Every movement Boreas made hurt and made him lose more blood, but he was determined not to be killed by Diego, even if he wouldn't survive much past his archenemy. Diego managed to dodge his second slash and jumped back, but hadn't counted on the wounds to his legs and collapsed, falling onto his back.
Boreas tried to jump onto Diego to finish him, but hadn't counted on his injuries either. He cringed in mid-jump as the spike sent a terrible jolt of pain through his body and fell to the ground too. Diego got up. “You're much worse off than me,” he said, “so just surrender and I'll give you a quick end.”
Boreas rolled onto his side weakly and fired an Ice Beam at Diego. “Never! It's not as bad as it looks!”
Diego blocked his beam with a bolt of darkness. “You're right, silly me, being stabbed through the lung is quite alright; you've got a spare one after all, right?”
Boreas slowly got to his feet, panting rapidly and gritting his teeth against the pain. “Yeah, I do. And it's all I need to beat you.”
Diego shrugged. “Fine with me. But you don't seem to realise all I need to do to win is wait until you've bled to death.”
Diego limped away, his back actually turned to Boreas. Boreas saw his chance and Ice Beamed his neck, but Diego turned around and made his Ice Beam disappear at the very last moment. “So very predictable, Boreas,” he taunted as he walked away again. Boreas walked after him, groaning in pain and exertion with every step. His right front paw was closest to the spike and consequently hurt the most to move; he switched to a limp instead, slowly following Diego on three legs. He had to wheeze as if he was running a marathon just to keep going at this snail's pace, and had absolutely no air left to fight with. Diego, on the other hand, though he was limping, was in far better condition and moved fast enough to easily keep ahead of Boreas. At one point, he even stopped to hit Boreas with the lightning again; though it didn't feel that awful compared to the spike through Boreas' chest now.
Boreas really considered not following Diego any more, but what else could he do? He still couldn't get to Ghetsis without beating Diego, so his only alternative was going back all the way to the pokécenter; but Diego was faster than him and would just kill him from behind. He was simply forced to play Diego's game, even though he felt weaker with every step as he left a red trail. Even cooling down his wounds to slow the bleeding wouldn't work, as his blood, unlike that of others, wouldn't flow slower as it got colder.
Boreas followed Diego back into the building they'd just fallen off, trailing him slowly up the stairs, and felt his life slowly leak away with his blood. He felt very cold, but in an unpleasant way, and his paws were starting to feel numb. Unfortunately the gaping hole in his chest only felt worse. They slowly ascended back to the floor Diego had set on fire, now mostly burnt out and ashy. Boreas walked through the carbonised corridor and left the building again for the path to the tallest tower on the ascending wall. Diego was waiting for him in the same place again, but this time he wasn't surprised. Boreas wanted to say something, but he needed air so badly he could only gasp and try to stay upright.
“Did you enjoy our little walk?” Diego asked with a cruel smile.
Boreas couldn't answer, gasping for air.
“I hope you did, because it was your last. You don't look like you have much time left in the first place, so I suppose I should put you out of your misery now.” With his non-broken arm, Diego fired a beam of sheer darkness at Boreas.
Boreas parried with a pulse of cold. Diego looked mildly surprised Boreas still had some fight in him, and more so when Boreas parried another attack. Angrily, he tried a third time, to the same result as Boreas pushed himself to the limit to keep on fighting. “Why won't you die?!” he snapped.
Boreas wondered the same. It would be much easier to accept his defeat and let Diego put an end to the dreadful pain than to make it even worse by futilely fighting a far stronger enemy. “Several reasons, really,” he said calmly. Then:
“Because I swore to be with Aqua until I die, and postponing that moment even a little is worth any amount of pain.” Drawing strength from that thought, he managed to Ice Beam Diego in the shoulder to the surprise of them both. He parried the Dark Pulse Diego paid him back with, and Diego narrowly dodged his second Ice Beam, while he parried another lightning attack.
“Because I want to have many, many more arguments with Octa.” Walking forward slowly to take him closer to Diego, he created a small snowy tornado around the Zoroark, sidestepped a beam, and riposted with an Ice Beam to Diego's bad leg.
“Because,” he panted, fighting against the exhaustion and pain to keep going, “I don't want to give up the world to scum like you, and because I want to see places stranger than I ever imagined possible!” They rapidly exchanged beams, parrying and riposting as Boreas walked even closer.
“In short:” said Boreas finally as he looked down to Diego's bad leg for a moment, then instantly Ice Beamed his throat instead as the Zoroark protected his legs, “because I want to live!”
Diego gasped and choked as Boreas hit his throat and Boreas immediately followed up with a lengthier Ice Beam to the Zoroark's upper legs, and then his shoulder to disable his limbs. Then another to his throat. Diego fell on his back and Boreas jumped on top of him, pinning him down as long as the muscles in the his limbs were disabled with cold. He Ice Beamed Diego's neck again to make sure he was entirely powerless.
Diego tried to fight back, to escape, but found he could do absolutely nothing now, entirely paralysed from the neck down by his frozen nerves. Boreas saw the realisation that by the time he regained control of the rest of his body, he would be dead in his enemy's face. “That's impossible... How can you beat me?!” He trembled, took a deep breath, and calmly looked into Boreas' eyes. “Fine. Do it, then.”
Boreas took a deep breath. He had won, at long last. Now was finally the time to pay Diego back for the hours he'd spent hanging by his tail from the Ferris wheel, for making Aqua join Team Plasma and trying to kill her, for the abuse of his brother's memory, and for brainwashing and killing N. He deserved to die, and freezing his brains with a continuous Ice Beam to the face really was far more merciful than he deserved. But it was what he was going to get.
So why did Boreas feel so untriumphant about it? This should be a happy moment, when he finally got rid of his greatest enemy, but it wasn't. Diego wasn't begging to be spared or trying to negotiate his surrender with Boreas; the calm look on Diego's face as he bravely faced death reminded him little of the cruel monstrosity who had done all those horrible things. It reminded him of his brother. Not his brother, he corrected himself; the Flareon he recalled Zeph as had never existed; was never more than an illusion. Yet he had many happy memories of him. He recalled the Flareon as his brother and friend. He had come here to kill Ghetsis, not whatever there might be left of that Flareon inside this horrid Zoroark.
“No,” he said, standing up. “I'm done with you. You were once my brother, and I know there's some good of him left in you, deep down. I'm not here to extinguish that little hope you have, but for Ghetsis.” He began to walk in the direction of the tower. “Leave Unova, right now. If I ever see you again I won't be so merciful.”
Boreas hoped sincerely whatever had been in Diego's mind when he was playing Zeph would win out. He knew he would always hate the Zoroark, but maybe he could become a good person somewhere. Of course, it was far more likely he was getting up right now as his nerves thawed. He would right now be looking at Boreas slowly limping away and sneaking up on him, planning to attack and kill him from behind. Boreas walked on, then suddenly grabbed a rogue wind, spun around on the spot and made it rage rapidly around him.
Diego, who was indeed standing only a metre behind him now, was surprised entirely by the sudden wind hitting him and was blown against the fence on the side of the wall, which reached to his waist. For a moment he was between falling and standing, then he lost his balance and fell over the edge. “So very predictable, Diego,” said Boreas.
The pain and exhaustion finally caught up to him and he collapsed on the spot.
Diego fell. He was furious the little runt had so completely predicted what he would do and surprised him, yet something in him knew it was no more than he deserved for betraying this chance he had been given. This time he fell much faster than last, without Boreas' power over air to slow him down, into a part of the battle. The ground came near so fast...
Right before he hit the ground, the Hydreigon fighting here jumped to its side. He landed on it, striking it down with the impact. It was a hard and painful landing, but he had escaped death. There was no time to feel triumphant, though, as Hydreigon's three heads roared angrily and one of its necks coiled around his wounded body.
“I'm Diego, a special emissary of Sage Ghetsis,” commanded Diego. “You are to follow my orders. Fly me to the throneroom; Ghetsis' life is in danger and he has to be warned.”
The Hydreigon's middle head roared angrily.
“I apologise for hitting you,” said Diego, “but it saved my life. Now fly me to the throneroom; that's an order in name of Sage Ghetsis!”
It slowly smiled, showing its thousands of teeth, and licked its lips. Diego suddenly felt afraid. These kinds of pokémon were very proud and hard to train; it was a small miracle they followed the orders of the Sages at all. Now that Zinzolin was dead, it was very likely this Hydreigon was basically a wild pokémon again and wouldn't follow Ghetsis' orders if he was here personally.
“On the other hand,” said Diego, showing no fear, “why don't you go back to fighting? I'll just walk.”
He tried to escape from its grip but it only tightened its hold. It now looked at him with distinct hunger and opened its mouth wide, showing rows upon rows of dagger-sharp teeth and a hungry throat. Diego let his fury over having lost to Boreas flow through him, channelling it into his hand where it became dark lightning. But the fight had left him badly weakened and the mighty Hydreigon barely felt it.
As the thousands of teeth came closer, Diego finally realised he hadn't escaped death at all.