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Old March 29th, 2013 (02:20 PM).
apenpaap
Togepi
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Gender: Male
Chapter Seventy-Seven: The Day that Changed the World
Victory.
It was almost impossible to believe, but they had utterly defeated Team Plasma's far more powerful forces. As the low Sun shone on the Pokémon League and Team Plasma's castle, there was no-one there who wasn't amazed by how the battle had turned out.
Victory.
Many had died. There wasn't a single person, human or pokémon, who hadn't lost someone. Trainers, pokémon, friends, family members. In all that death, Aqua didn't think it was possible anyone felt worse than her. Yet there was only one word for it.
Victory.
Team Plasma still held all of Unova in its grip, even now that its headquarters were captured, and the resistance was nicely cooped up here in the Pokémon League for them to destroy. Yet, it was a stunning, crushing victory. Ghetsis, Zinzolin, Ryoku, and Bronius were dead, while Gorm, Rood, and Giallo had been taken prisoner, along with lots of grunts. What exactly had happened to the Elite Four, no-one knew. There were multiple stories going around about them, the most common of which was that they'd switched sides again when the Kyurems exploded, and had then quickly fled the battle before anyone could hold them accountable for their actions. Where they had gone, no-one knew; only that they weren't among the prisoners or the dead.
The greatest change was perhaps that everyone could feel the Kyurems were gone. For eight long months, the legendary on Team Plasma's side had pressed hard on everyone's minds, discouraging its enemies, encouraging its allies, and convincing those on neither side to support Team Plasma, and now suddenly its influence was gone. Aqua saw it in her allies. They finally had hope again.
Hope had rekindled the moment they saw the tower blow up. Most had no idea Boreas was in there, and wouldn't have cared much if they'd known, but everyone knew Ghetsis was in that tower. With the influence of the Kyurems suddenly gone along with Ghetsis, their courage had soared, while the enemy was in panicky disarray without their leader. Up near the tower's base, Ghetsis' pokémon had fled and left Giallo with his remaining steel-types, all of whom were almost blinded by the bright, low Sun behind their enemies. In the glorious charge of hope and fury Octa had led, they had captured Giallo himself.
Everywhere in the castle, the same scenario had taken place. Fleeing members of the resistance had caught their courage again and returned to fight once more. With the added luck that the castle lay north of the League and therefore in most places the Sun's blinding light was to their advantage, team Plasma found itself in a much harder spot than before. Aqua and the others who had just taken Giallo prisoner had descended the castle to attack the enemy from behind: as much as they'd wanted to look for Boreas' body, they knew they had to press their advantage and honour his sacrifice by delivering their victory. Finally, somewhere in the western part of the castle, a grunt couldn't handle it any more and had been the first to flee. His fear had infected others, and soon a huge part of Plasma was routing. Apparently some had even switched sides in the midst of battle and joined the trainers against their former comrades.
Sage Ryoku, fighting in the eastern part of the castle, had declared himself Team Plasma's new leader and regained control over much of their forces for a while. The grunts in this part of the castle regrouped and fought well, and for a moment it had even seemed as if Plasma might win after all. But then the news had come that Ryoku was dead, and chaos had broken out in the enemy ranks. Even now, Aqua wasn't sure how Ryoku had died, but the important thing was that the enemy had routed, and the remaining Sage surrendered not long after.
Aqua tried to focus on the great victory and their new hope, like everyone else. She tried to share in the triumphant feeling that was going around. It was easy enough to pretend she was glad they'd won; she'd always been good at acting cheerful even when she felt bad. Even so, if she was honest, she would have rather had a defeat Boreas had survived than this victory without him. On some moments, she felt numb inside and didn't believe Boreas was dead at all, half-expecting him to stand just around any corner with a smug, mischievous grin on his face, asking her if she had really thought he was dead. But on other moments the horrible truth began to sink in. She would never see him again. She would have to live her life completely alone, and a black pit of despair opened before her. Her broken leg with its improvised cast didn't hurt remotely as badly as that knowledge.
She tried to cheer herself up: she wouldn't be completely alone. Toxica was still here for her, and even if she was no substitute for Boreas she was a good friend. But she was all Aqua had left; even Selene had disappeared. Her body hadn't been found yet, but with every second the chance she and Lucius had survived lowered.
Aqua had been unsure of what to do, overwhelmed with Boreas' death, and had so far just walked after Toxica a bit, and Toxica had been helping Octa find the rest of his family. They had many dead to mourn, among them Octa's father and his brother Marcus Aurelius, and were generally quiet and sombre, which fit well with Aqua's own mood.
Gaius was addressing the others on a large courtyard in the castle, and Aqua really couldn't bring up the attention to listen to him. Her thoughts went to Boreas instead every time. She'd never see his cheeky grin again. She'd never have to wonder if he had gone insane again, like when he had asked her to marry him in battle. She'd never share a laugh with him again.
Anger welled up in her. Idiot humans. Why had they drawn Boreas into their stupid conflict? If it wasn't for them, he would still be alive... But she knew that wasn't fair. This was just as much about pokémon than about humans. She sighed. If only he had been a little less heroic. She felt so horribly alone without him, she wanted to follow him. She knew they wouldn't be together that way... But at least she wouldn't have to go on without him.
She tried to distract herself from these thoughts by listening to Gaius. It seemed he was admitting he was an idiot to everyone, which she supposed was a good thing. He said he would refuse any nomination of him as the new leader of their house, which she also supposed was a good thing. She really found she couldn't care less about all this, though.
“Hey,” whispered Toxica, “how are you holding up?”
“I've been better.” Aqua was a bit startled at how bitter she sounded.
Toxica softly touched her shoulder. “I'm so sorry for you... You'll really feel better eventually, you know, even if it seems now that you'll never stop being sad. Time heals all wounds, even this one. Eventually, things turn out alright.”
“Yes,” said Aqua to stop Toxica's babbling, while she inwardly thought: ********. This will never be alright. There was no way a world without Boreas would ever be a happy place. And he wouldn't be coming back either, so the only way this would ever be alright would be if she could travel back in time and experience the blissful year she'd had with him again. Although she had wasted far too much of that time fighting with him and not being there. She should've cherished what little time they had together, stayed with him all the time. She would never get over her loss... And if somehow she did, if she eventually ended up feeling over him the way she had gotten over Lothario, wouldn't that be even worse? It seemed so terrible to just forget him like that. She couldn't imagine herself being so unfaithful she'd stop feeling horrible about it and maybe even love someone else...
She realised she was crying about him for the first time. So far she had kept her grief hidden inside, but now the tears ran through her fut. She quickly dried them and took on a neutral mask. She really didn't want to cry in front of Octa's even smugger relatives. She tried to pay attention to them instead. It seemed they were discussing who should be their new leader. Some names were mentioned, but no-one actually nominated anyone, and no-one no-one put themselves forth either.
Until Livia spoke up. “I nominate my brother, Octa!”
The word “What” was uttered by a lot of people. Octa among them. They all talked through each other. Someone pointed out he wasn't even a member of their house any more.
“Who cares?” said Livia. “Today we reached victory because of Octa and Toxica! Octa is braver and wiser than anyone else here, and Toxica is every bit as noble as any of us. I believe he would make a great Lord if we reinstated him, and would cause a fresh wind to blow into our house at last.”
“Livia,” said Octa, “I am very grateful for this, but I do not want this honour. I'm not even a part of the house any more.”
“We need you, Octa,” said Livia. “We need your fresh look on things, we need your bravery and your wisdom. We wouldn't have won today without you and Toxica. Who else wants Octa as our new leader?!”
There was a moment of silence as they thought about it, then agreeing voices spoke up. More and more of them. Soon, most of them were cheering for Octa, though a few were booing him.
“See?” said Livia. “We want you to be our leader. Will you let us down?”
Octa looked around unsurely and made eye-contact with Toxica, who nodded. “No,” he said finally, “I shan't let down my house-”
“Long live Lord Octavianus the fifth!” cheered Livia, and many voices followed. “May his days be blessed.”
All of them bowed for their new leader, who looked around in amazement. Toxica too made a bow, with a smile. “Congratulations, my lord,” she teased.
“Please, I am honoured, but let me finish speaking,” said Lord Octavianus. “I shan't let down my house, but I do not want this honour. I left the house not just to escape the judgement of others, but that of myself. If there is no other way I shall accept this honour, but I ask you to elect an even more suited candidate.”
“There is no-one better suited!” Livia argued.
“Yes, there is, my dear sister: you.”
“Me?!”
“Yes, you. Livia is far wiser and braver than me, and has the advantage of actually being a member of the house. I believe she, like me, is willing to let a new wind blow through our house, but she also has a healthy respect for our traditions. When the order to retreat was given, she was the only one who remained with me. If you are willing, have her as a leader instead.”
After they considered it for a moment, there were many cheers, so Octa said: “Then I resign as our leader and nominate Livia as my successor.”
Livia squinted. “Don't think you're rid of it that easily. I want your help and your advice. Yours, and Toxica's. I will accept only if you promise you'll help me.”
Octa and Toxica both agreed.
“Very well, then I accept.”
Now it was Octa's turn to start a cheer. “Long live Lady Livia the seventh! May her days be blessed.”
There was much cheering again, this time with much less booing mixed in. Livia was about to begin giving some kind of speech when Octa quietly said to her:
“I'm sorry, my dear sister, but I have to leave for now. It is time I honoured the hero who has truly brought us this victory. I shall go find his body, that we might bury him with the greatest honour.”
Lady Livia nodded. “I understand. Go quickly; I have to think of something to say to them.”
Octa retreated quietly amidst the cheers, and Aqua followed him. “I'm coming with you,” she said.
“I do not think it would be wise,” said Octa sadly. “Boreas' remains are likely to be gravely maimed after that explosion... I don't think he would want you to see him like that. Go to the pokécenter and have yourself healed, that you may remember him as he was in life, rather than in death.”
Aqua rolled her eyes. “No, Octa, I'm coming with you. I want to see his corpse, no matter how badly mangled. Or I'll torment myself with the idea that he could still somehow be alive until the end of my days. Besides, I owe him at least this much.”
Octa nodded. “Alright, I understand.”

Aqua clambered through the grim rubble that filled a courtyard. She and Octa had been searching for quite a while. First they had searched in the ruins of the tower itself, but they had only found the Light Stone and the twisted remains of N's golden throne and Ghetsis there; no Boreas. This was not all too unusual, as the explosion had scattered debris of the tower over a large area and Boreas was presumably among it. It just meant a larger area to search. Aqua and Octa drew comfort from each other while searching, even though they said as good as nothing to each other. They had never really gotten along, but right now their love for Boreas bound them.
“I wonder if he suffered much...” said Aqua finally as they combed through the rubble in the courtyard bit by bit.
“I doubt it...” said Octa. “The explosion would've killed him before he even felt the pain. I'm sure his death was quite painless...”
They passed one of the large, ornamental shields that hung on the walls everywhere; it was blackened and dented in from the explosion. They nearly passed it by when Aqua suddenly noticed it was lying on top of something. She felt ice-cold. “Octa...” she said, pointing.
A single, badly burnt, broken hindpaw and a burnt tail which missed its tip stuck out from under the shield. Aqua suddenly couldn't hold her tears in and wailed loudly. The true extent of her loss only now hit her. Boreas was gone forever, only this burnt piece of meat left of him.
Octa bowed his head solemnly. “Farewell Boreas, brilliant and brave,
a Glaceon too good to be stuck in a grave...”
A very small giggle almost made it through Aqua's tears; how like Octa to think up an epitaph for him on the spot. She wanted to say something, anything, but was too torn up with grief and tears to do so. Octa softly embraced her, and they cried together. After a moment, he let go.
“Why don't you go back?” he proposed tearfully. “You have seen his body... But you needn't see all of it. I shall take it back myself.”
But Aqua couldn't leave from Boreas' side. She shook her head firmly.
“I see,” said Octa kindly. “You should do this the way that feels best to you... Help me move the shield off of him...”
They slowly moved the heavy, charred piece of steel off of Boreas, expecting to see something resembling meat that's been left on the grill far too long below. But instead they found Boreas protected from the heat of the explosion by the shield, his body still intact. The end of his paw and tail were only burned because they had stuck out from under the shield. The rest of his fur was still blue and unburned.
However, a metal spike had stabbed right through his chest, which was died red with blood. He had many smaller wounds too, including a bad-looking over on his head, and much of his body was bruised. Lying below him were the remnants of several large pillows; they had been partially burned and ruptured by the impact and were flat now. Despite his many wounds, Boreas' face looked peaceful; there even was a small smile around his lips. Seeing him looking more or less intact, Aqua's heart made a jump of joy, and she held her own breath as Octa rushed to listen to Boreas'. But far too much time passed. Octa shook his head sadly and got up, and Aqua sank into despair again.
“Clever to the very end...” said Octa, indicating the protective shell of the shield and pillows Boreas was encased himself in. “The explosion's shock was still too great to survive, however...”
Or he died of his wounds while we were wasting time fighting and listening to Gaius talk... added Aqua in her thoughts, which made her feel even more horrible. She wondered how he'd received those wounds in the first place... And how he had managed to win from Kyurem. But most of all, she wondered if he would still have been alive if they'd been here earlier.
“I-I wonder what his final moments were like...” said Aqua, crying slightly. “He looks so peaceful...”

Past
Boreas looked up at the ball of energy about to explode and realised it had been a good life. He couldn't have asked for a better one.
There was a bright flash of light. It came from outside, and a moment later there was a huge, thundering noise and the tower shook. Boreas wondered if it was the other Kyurem exploding; this one would do the same any second now, and he was at peace with that. However, looking up at it, he saw something else: behind it hung one of the large, ornamental Team Plasma shields. He had an idea, incredibly enough, and got up, cringing against the pain. He was at peace if he would die now, and knew it almost certainly wouldn't work, but the small chance of staying alive was worth not lying down and spending his final moments in a somewhat pleasant way. He would probably still die, but at least his body might be preserved better and still be recognisable, which might help Aqua move on if she was still alive.
He pulled Ghetsis' body off the throne, grabbed the two large pillows, and dragged them over to the wall. He fired an Ice Beam behind the shield, snap-freezing the wire that held it up, so the shield fell down. Knowing he had only seconds, he put the pillows behind him, up against the wall, and drew the shield up in front of him, hiding behind it entirely and freezing himself to it and the pillows. The shield would absorb most of the blast and he might be thrown clear of the explosion as it destroyed the tower instead of being crushed against an unbreaking wall. Maybe he would even survive the impact on the ground if he landed on his back, where the pillows would offer some protection. It was a huge long-shot, but there was little harm done with it.
If he didn't make it, it had still been a good life. A moment when he and Aqua had laughed about something until they cried came to mind. He couldn't eve recall what they had been laughing at, but it was a happy memory.
There was a blindingly bright light, a terrible impact, searing heat, and then nothing.

Present
Aqua felt overwhelmed with sorrow. She really would have to face this life alone. She just couldn't think of anything that would ever make her happy again. Crying loudly, she embraced Boreas' lifeless body, sobbing on his cold shoulder, her ear in his neck. “What will I ever do without you?” she cried. “I can't live like that...”
Of course, he remained silent. As he always would. Aqua grieved, now softly, still holding him. If she let him go, it would somehow make it even more irreversible, and she just couldn't face that right now.
Very faintly, on the edge of her hearing, she imagined hearing an incredibly weak thump in his neck. Why did she torture herself like this? The more she had these kinds of thoughts, the worse the truth hurt. She was all alone in the world.
But she perceived another thump, and another quickly after. She held her breath and pressed her large, sensitive ear even closer to his neck. It took almost three seconds, but there was another weak thump; and it wasn't her own heartbeat, as it was much louder and faster. Boreas' was incredibly weak and irregular and seemed like it could just stop at any moment, but it was there!
“By the depths!” Aqua instantly sat up and formed an Aqua Ring around Boreas. She had to keep him alive as long as she could, and this would give him some energy to survive a little longer. “He's alive! Octa, go get anyone with medical skills, right now!”
“Aqua...” said Octa, in terribly sad voice. The smug git clearly thought she was crazy.
“NOW!” she shouted. “His heart's still beating, but won't be for much longer, so GO!”
“I'm sorry... But 'tis-”
“No, it's not my imagination, I really heard his heart beat! My ears are a lot bigger than yours, so trust me, please!”
“I shall.” Octa at least wasted no more time, giving her the benefit of the doubt and racing off.
Aqua was left alone with a near-dead Boreas, working hard to make the healing veil of water as strong as possible. It was obviously nowhere near enough to save him, but it might just be enough to keep him alive for an extra minute or so needed to reach a nurse. It had to be. “You're going to be alright, Boreas,” said Aqua. “Really, you are. Your heart is going to keep beating until the nurse comes and rescues you, do you hear me? You're not going to leave me behind, you'll stay with me. You're going to wake up and give me that charming little smile of yours.” She rambled on like this, trying to convince herself it would somehow help.

Boreas woke up. That was strange. Opening his eyes in wonder, he found himself in a comfortable bed in the pokécenter. He was alive! He could barely believe it. An annoying pain in his chest let him know for certain: he really was alive. He took a deep breath, finding it incredibly enjoyable to have two working lungs again.
“Good morning.”
Boreas startled and looked for the voice's source. An attractive Umbreon lay in the next bed in the room. “Febby?!” he said joyously. “You're alive?!”
She smiled. “Don't sound so surprised, I'm not the one going around blowing up legendary pokémon while he's in the room with them.”
Boreas began to laugh, but felt the laughter die in his throat as he realised Aqua, Octa, and Toxica had probably not been as lucky as Febby and him. “Yeah... I knew you might survive, but your chances didn't seem good.”
Febby shrugged. “Seems lady Luck was on both our sides. Anyway, I shouldn't be wasting your time when the others are ageing ten years every second with worry.” She shouted: “He's awake!”
Boreas tried to quench the hope that rose in him, fearing disappointment. “What... Who?”
Febby just smiled and winked and pointed to the door.
Boreas turned to look, but at that moment a heavy weight fell on top of him and before he knew what was happening he was being passionately kissed by a pair of blue lips. His heart was overflowing with joy: Aqua was alive too! As their lips parted, Aqua and Boreas laughed and babbled incoherently, too happy to pay attention to what they or the other were saying, interspersing with more kisses. Finally, Boreas' chest began putting a bit of a dampener on his joy. “My love, I'm so glad you're alright... But I don't think I'm quite recovered yet. Could you get off me?”
Aqua rolled off of him with a mirthful laugh and put her front paws around him. “As long as I still get to hold you.”
“Well, then perhaps you now have time to notice us too?”
Octa and Toxica were standing next to his bed too. He said their names in sheer joy and big grins appeared on their faces. The next moment he was hugged from three sides and trying his best to hug back with only two arms. “Wonderful to see you again! What happened? How did you all survive Kyurem exploding?” He had never been so happy.
“My dear fellow,” laughed Octa, “Kyurem began flying to the throneroom moments before it began exploding. It must've known the danger to its master when a hero like you approached!”
Boreas chuckled and blushed. “Don't call me that.”
“But you are,” laughed Aqua as she nuzzled him, “and if you ever do something that heroic again and survive it, I'll kill you.”
Laughing and celebrating with his friends, Boreas suddenly realised they weren't all there. “Where is Lucius?” he asked with sudden fear. “Where is Selene?”
Octa sighed. “Well, I'm afraid they're-”
“Right here, pup,” said Lucius, coming through the door with Selene on his shoulder.
“-alive as well.” Octa rolled his eyes theatrically.
“You finally woke up,” said Selene. “It was about time, that was a really long nap.”
“He was-” began Lucius, “oh, never mind.”
Boreas greeted them warmly, happy in the knowledge so many of them had made it. If only Black hadn't died... “This is so wonderful,” he said. “I have so many questions for you all! Lucius, Selene, where were you?!”
Selene said: “We were going to the tower, but got l-”
Lucius interrupted. “Figured you guys'd have Ghetsis under control and decided to go after that bastard Ryoku instead.”
“We did?” said Selene. “Of course, I remember now. We looked for Ryoku.”
Lucius grinned. “Found him too, we did. He was beating a bunch of guys, but we came in, chased off him Garchomp, and killed a bunch of his grass-types. It was easy, really. But then we were surprised by his Tangrowth...”

Past
Lucius fought against a thousand vines. They pulled Selene away from him and wound around him. He had burnt a great many to a cinder already, but Tangrowth had a seemingly endless supply of the things. They had quickly wound around his neck and each of his limbs, choking him to death despite his struggles. They pulled hard on his limbs, making it feel like they were going to tear off. He fought hard but couldn't breathe and quickly began to black out.
But then, the vines writhed and let him go as they were suddenly on fire. Lucius was too weakened to do much and fell on the ground. Tangrowth took a few steps back and he was out of the mass of vines, able to see what was going on: Tangrowth was on fire. It was fighting a Charmeleon that had seemingly come out of completely nowhere. It wasn't the only thing that had suddenly appeared: more pokémon and their trainers were fighting Ryoku now as well.
Lucius looked for Selene, and crawled to her when he saw her lie about as well. She was still breathing. “Hey, birdbrain, d'you know what the hell's going on?”
Selene looked around in bewilderment. “No, except- don't you see something unusual?”
“No.”
“Precisely. What you don't see is the tower, which is gone.”
Lucius looked at where it should be and saw nothing. “Gone?!” he laughed. “Mew's splanch, I guess Ghetsis was in it too! That's why all these idiots came back to fight, and why those grunts are fleeing!”
“Yeah,” laughed Selene, “I guess the glove's on the other foot now, hmm?”
“You said it. C'mon, let's get them.” Lucius tried to get up, but fell down again, nearly asphyxiated as he was and with his legs still poorly bled through. “In a moment. I think these guys have things under control right now.”
Selene agreed. “Yeah, I don't think we should be stealing their glory.”
At first, things seemed to go their way. But Ryoku barked orders both to his pokémon and to fleeing grunts, and Plasma's disarrayed forces got more organised again and struck back against the trainers. They were soon starting to get driven back, past Lucius and Selene. Lucius began to get up to fight with them, but he felt a wing on his paw. “Let's play dead for a while,” said Selene.
“No,” grunted Lucius.
“C'mon, it'll be fun.”
“What's wrong with you? This is no time to be goofing off.”
“Just play dead; trust me.”
“Hmpf, fine,” grumbled Lucius as he lay down. “Can't believe I'm following your advice, I must be just as mad...”
“Quiet, here they come.”
The trainers and their pokémon rapidly retreated past the Houndoom and the Honchkrow, some of them fleeing, some still fighting the enemy. Team Plasma's pokémon passed them by too.
Ryoku was ordering several grunts about now that they had pushed the resistance back. “Tell everyone you find that I'm taking over command of Team Plasma, and order them to stand their ground and stop fleeing; those who don't will be considered traitors. Remind them we outnumber the enemy.”
Lucius growled angrily, hearing Capella's murderer organise Team Plasma. If he was allowed to continue, Plasma could still win, as they did indeed outnumber the resistance; they were just losing because they were panicked without their leader. Now this jerk was going to take Ghetsis' place? Lucius so wished he could get to Ryoku to avenge Capella and prevent the battle from turning again in a single move, but of course that was impossible with Team Plasma's pokémon between him and...
Actually, he realised there was nothing between him and Ryoku: the pokémon had all passed by him and Selene, thinking they were dead. He looked at Selene, astonished she'd actually had a plan and done something smart.
She chuckled and nodded. “Well, go get him, then.”
Lucius grinned meanly and got up, approaching the skeleton-like Sage ordering grunts to spread the word that he was their new leader. Lucius surrounded himself with a big ring of dark fire as one of the grunts pointed to him and made Ryoku turn around in fear and call for backup. But it was too late for him.
“This is for Capella, you son of a *****.”

Present
Boreas felt slightly put off by the obvious glee in Lucius' voice as he retold how he had killed Ryoku. He supposed he shouldn't judge, as he had killed Ghetsis himself; but he couldn't imagine himself telling about killing Ghetsis with such joy. In fact, he now noticed he felt a little guilty about the killing itself. The memory of Ghetsis' fear as Boreas froze him to death was one that filled him with odd regret.
“Are you alright, my love?” asked Aqua. Boreas noticed Lucius had stopped talking and they were all looking at him.
As he looked at his friends, all alive and well, he felt happiness dispel his regret and realised this wasn't the time to feel bad; they had won, and except for Black they had all survived it. He smiled. “I'm going to be just fine.”
They all talked much more about all that had happened to them and told him about their parts in the great battle as Boreas ate a breakfast. Boreas too told his friends about how he had duelled Diego to within a hair's breadth of death, how tempted he had been to give up, and how he had gone on and killed Ghetsis. The others told him much more, and they all talked mirthfully, glad to still be together. At first Boreas kept up with their stories but after a while the words of the others went into his one ear, and out again the other. They slowly turned into a background noise.

Boreas woke up with a sleeping Aqua's arms around him and his friends gone. He felt a little ashamed that he'd apparently fallen asleep while they were talking, but they'd probably understand. After all, he had quite a number of wounds to recover from. He was glad Aqua had stayed with him and hugged her back gently. She stirred a little and mumbled softly, half-opening an eye.
“Shh,” he said softly, “go back to sleep, my love.”
“Hmm...” she mumbled half-asleep, sounding worried. “Boreas, stay with me...”
“Of course,” he whispered, “I'll stay with you always.”
She cuddled him a little tighter and smiled beautifully in her sleep. “...Good...”
Closing his eyes again, Boreas whispered: “We'll be together forever.”

25 January of that year was a date well remembered by the history books as the day the Plasma War's outcome was decided. A dark, violent, bloody day, yet also the day of the great victory; a day of great sorrow when hope died along with its heroes, and great joy as unexpected other heroes rekindled it from its ashes. A day of death, but also of life.
The resistance had many dead to mourn, and Black was probably the greatest loss. The new Champion had been a beacon of hope to them all, but his loss was felt strongest by his pokémon and his friends Cheren, Bianca, and White. He was buried by them in a small ceremony on the edge of the mountain pass with the Light Stone. Three of the Gym Leaders hadn't made it either, and many more lives were to be mourned.
Yet their victory was great. They had captured Team Plasma's headquarters and their entire leadership. The first thing that was done after the battle was to truly liberate the thousands of pokémon found in the depths of the Castle, who had been used to build it, to power it, and some were trained to fight for Team Plasma. Many of these pokémon decided to join them, and many of them found a friendly new trainer who had lost pokémon in the battle. Some of them even found their old trainers, who had thought them lost forever.
Unova was still ruled by Team Plasma, but they were in disarray without the Sages. At the same time, the disappearance of the influence of the legendaries made many of their supporters turn away from them, and the crushing defeat Team Plasma had suffered at the League showed everyone they were not invincible.
With the Sages dead or captured, many Team Plasma members with higher functions declared themselves to be the new Sages. In fact, several of them did so in each city. How many self-proclaimed Sages there were a few weeks after the battle of the League, no-one could say, but there were at least fifty of them. Ironically, thanks to the information captured with the castle, the resistance knew far more about Team Plasma than any of these new Sages did. The only thing all of them saw eye to eye on was that the resistance had to be destroyed, and a day after the battle of the League, the trainline with Opelucid was cut off as Plasma intended to hunger the resistance out, trapped as they were now in their distant stronghold in the middle of the wintry Black Mountains.
Fortunately, there were several months worth of supplies at the League, but even so the connection had to be restored. A plan was hatched to send a small force south through Victory Road to Opelucid in order to restore the train again. To their surprise, Boreas and his friends found themselves volunteering for a second trip through a wintrous Victory Road, and Cheren, Bianca and their pokémon went with them. The journey was hard, but this time they knew the way and didn't get lost. Since spring was approaching the landscape got less barren near the end. On a lovely day in April, they once again saw the rough, but pretty landscape of Route 10. Boreas found he could easily joke with Aqua about his stupidity the last time they had been here now.
After a journey through the wild canyons, dense forests, and flowering fields of Route 10, they came upon Opelucid. Team Plasma's rule had weakened significantly over the past three months; most of the people who had proclaimed themselves the new Sages were dead by now, usually assassinated by their peers as Team Plasma had fallen to infighting and split into many different groups all calling themselves Team Plasma. The populace of Unova no longer supported them and protests and resistance were common, held back only by the fear of retaliation.
When Boreas and his friends found Opelucid so tired of its incompetent, quibbling Team Plasma taskmasters, they began work to organise a revolt. The northern train station, where passengers and goods had once regularly gone back and forth to the League, was under heavy guard despite all Team Plasma's troubles. While fomenting an uprising, they also worked to play out the different factions of Team Plasma in the city against each other.
On the final day of April, their plan came to fruition. A conflict between three factions of Team Plasma escalated an hour before the uprising started. Team Plasma found themselves not only fighting each other, but also having a full-scale revolution on their hands, and were forced to draw most of their guard away from the northern station. This allowed Boreas and his friends to defeat the remaining guards and send a single train north to the League; at that point it didn't matter if Team Plasma reconquered the station, as the train could be powered from the League just as well, and even if they sabotaged the tracks, the rest of the resistance - returning in the train - would just stop the train a few kilometres before the city and walk the rest of the way.
With the city rising up against them and the resistance on their way, most of Team Plasma fled Opelucid. When the train arrived the resistance was welcomed as liberators into an already free city. The celebrations lasted many days.
With Opelucid liberated, the resistance could finally get out of their besieged Pokémon League. The Gym Leaders decided to return to their own cities in secret to help them throw Team Plasma off, just like Opelucid. Some of the others decided to stay in Opelucid, some to defend it and some because they were tired of fighting, while some spread out over Unova to help the Gym Leaders reclaim the cities, or to help the smaller towns throw off Team Plasma. There was fear for a while that Opelucid would be directly attacked by Team Plasma, as many of the new Sages said they would do so, but in the end all the various splinters of Team Plasma were far too busy with their internal power struggle and keeping some amount of order to commit to such an attack, even though there was less infighting between them now that they had all been frightened by the liberation of Opelucid.
It was now for the first time that Boreas and his friends had to split up. Octa and Toxica had given Livia their word they would help and she called on them to help her take back their home, which had been confiscated by Team Plasma after the house of Equinox had come to the resistance's aid. Lucius and Selene went with Cheren to liberate the capital while Boreas and Aqua decided to go to Nuvema Town with Bianca, as there was no Gym Leader there to organise the liberation.
It was the first time Boreas had seen Nuvema Town since his brother had showed it to him on the day his family had died. He recalled it far happier and more carefree; now there were now no pokémon at all in the town and most people stayed fearfully inside. Team Plasma had a heavy presence here, but the population was too small to be of much help against them. With Bianca and professor Juniper they tried to find a way to chase Team Plasma from the town, but their progress was slow. For a while, the task seemed impossible; Unova was so big, most of it could still be in Plasma's hands ten years from now.
But then hopeful news came, as Nacrene and Nimbasa had liberated themselves. It strengthened everyone's hope, but a true solution to their problems didn't appear until Octa arrived in Nuvema, about half his house with him. With their help, Team Plasma could finally be removed from Nuvema.

Boreas found himself staring at the forested edge of town. It was evening on a day in early June with strong wind and variable weather. Yet the occasional shower hadn't put a dampener on the town's celebrations; it had only been yesterday that Sage Pete had been forced to lay down his command over the city, after all. Bianca and professor Juniper were hard at work to get people used to the idea of being friends with pokémon again, and were going to teach them how to handle pokémon well. Boreas, Aqua, and Octa would move on tomorrow, going to Castelia to help Lucius and Selene. But for now, they could relax and enjoy themselves at the celebrations.
And Boreas kept looking at the forest. He had done so a lot during the month he had been here, always wondering if he'd still know the way, and what his family's old burrow would be like now, but he'd always been too busy to act on such curiosity. But now was the perfect time.
“Aqua, Octa,” he said, “will you excuse me for a while? I need to see something.”
Octa raised an eyebrow. “What do you need to see, my dear fellow?”
“Home,” said Boreas.
“I understand,” nodded Aqua. “I'll go with you, if you want.”
“So shall I, my dear fellow.”
Boreas smiled. “Thanks. It would be nice to have you there too.”
They walked to the town's edge. Boreas looked for the house he had stolen a sausage from, but almost didn't recognise it. “Looks so much smaller,” he laughed as he finally saw it. He could now easily have climbed through the window by himself to steal sausage if he wanted.
Feeling like a little Eevee again, Boreas ran up the grassy slope to the shrubs at the edge of the forest. He had to be quick, of course, as the humans would turn him into cheese and eat him if they saw him, he recalled with a chuckle. The origins of the tasty yellow stuff from a picnic basket their mother had once stolen from a bunch of humans had been a frequently debated topic among him and his brothers.
The shrubs hadn't shrunk, oddly enough; they had been allowed to run rampant in the past two years and grown huge, and would still easily let him hide himself. He looked back to the celebrating town basking in the evening Sun. “Look,” he said with a wink to a laughing Aqua and Octa, “a herd of humans.”
He led them on through the forest. He could still easily recall the way, though he felt like a giant and went about as fast walking as he could've run as an Eevee, so he proceeded quickly. Left at this tree, a little right at that tree, and over this small hill...
Was a beautiful patch of flowers. There was no sign remaining of the massacre that had occurred here so long ago. The small hillock was overgrown with gorgeous flowers of many colours that enjoyed the summery heat. The burrow was still there, modified heavily and showing the signs of several species of pokémon inhabiting it at different times. It didn't smell like anyone lived there right now, but something clearly had last spring.
Octa and Aqua stood next to him. “It's beautiful,” said Aqua.
“Indeed,” said Octa. “To think this is where we first met each other...”
Boreas nodded. He almost wanted to ask Octa to go stand where he had stood then, but he didn't; he figured it might bring back bad memories, as it hadn't been a joyful moment. He smiled happily at both Octa and Aqua, glad to have come back to this place and seen it once more. “Come,” he said, “let's get back to the party.”
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