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Also, I find it an eye-opener about her death, that, instead of grieving for her death, we should instead think of the times we were happy with that someone.
Anyway, I could go on, but meh...
As usual, it was a great re-read.
Here are my comments about this chapter.
Just curious, but did N 'caught' her, or did Aqua just 'joined' him?
Wow... There...gonna battl---kill each other...!? o.o
Aqua is a strong Vaporeon, huh?
It was yet another great chapter~!
Keep at it~!
I think I first heard that interpretation in a latin text by Seneca I had to translate on my exam. I find it a very comforting way of looking at death.
Chapter Forty-One: In the Dead of Night
Boreas woke up in sweat, feeling nauseous and horrible. He trembled with fury, self-loathing, and guilt. He had barely slept the past week because of the way his dreams tormented him, and tonight was no different. The dreams were of course about Aqua, as most of his dreams had been since meeting her. But for the past week what used to be a source of very pleasant dreams was now a source of nightly torment. The dreams by themselves weren't even that bad, except for the one where he relived their fight. In fact they were quite similar to the ones he used to have before finding out she had betrayed him. But the way they made him feel was completely different. They only reminded him of what he'd lost now.
Boreas wanted to be alone. He stood up and silently sneaked away from the camp where his companions were sleeping peacefully. The eternal semi-darkness of Chargestone Cave was the same whether it was day or night. He pointlessly walked for a bit until he reached a deep gorge. Down in the depths mighty sparks flared occasionally. He sat down at the edge to look into it.
He felt as if his life had fallen into a deep, black gorge of despair, much like this one except more metaphorical and with less lightning sparks. Just ten days ago, his greatest worry had been Octa's silly determination to let his family choose his mate. Now his best friend was furious at him, his second-best friend was dead, and his girlfriend... Well, she was his girlfriend no more. He still couldn't believe the girl he loved had joined Team Plasma. It was treason of the worst kind, and he hated her for it, yet he cringed in shame and guilt when he remembered the things he'd said to her. Now that the fury had disappeared he felt horrible about his words and deeds. He realised he would never have reacted like that if it hadn't been for the fresh wound of Capella's death. Of course, he would've been furious at the treason regardless, but never in such a horribly nasty way. And Capella would've stopped him, and she wouldn't have gotten angry and given up even if he had insulted her like he had insulted Octa.
The horrible things they had both said during their fight kept echoing through his mind, even when he was awake. And it had only gotten worse as his sleep deprivation caused him to be only half awake at best. There was nothing he could do to take his mind off it: most of his other memories just weren't powerful enough. Those of Octa and Capella were quite powerful but only made it worse because they reminded him of what he had lost; memories of the blissful days he had had with Aqua were even worse. There was nothing he could do in the present to take his mind off it either: the dark environment of Chargestone Cave offered no distractions and neither his companions nor he were in the mood for conversation. Even the future offered no relief: his hopes and dreams seemed to have shattered or become hollow. Becoming the Champion would never bring back Capella or make Aqua's treason, or at least the things he'd said to her, undone. The awesome glory of helping Black become the most powerful trainer in Unova seemed empty and bleak. Stopping Team Plasma seemed impossible. Even getting revenge for Capella and his destroyed life didn't seem to hold that much appeal now that his anger was gone. It didn't matter anyway: he realised now how much luck they'd had not to lose any party members before, and that they should really all have been dead five times over already. Team Plasma was just too mighty, there was no stopping them. Aqua had probably been right when she had said Team Plasma was the winning side.
Aqua had said she had joined N out of loneliness. The realisation that she was lonely because Boreas had chosen not to go with her crushed him with guilt. She would never have joined N if he had been there. He had made the wrong choice, and it had destroyed his life. He'd gladly give up what little was left of it to have made the right choice. The things that had happened since he made his choices, the things that had been said could never be reversed. Aqua would never forgive him, and he would never forgive her. And he wouldn't forgive himself either.
Everything seemed to be gone now. Happiness, joy, hope, and love. Anger and hate had taken their place at first, but now even they had gone. Boreas was left with nothing but mountains of sorrow, guilt, and despair. He stood up and looked into the depths of the gorge. He'd jump in without hesitation if it meant undoing all this. In fact, as he looked into it those depths felt very attractive even if they didn't undo anything. He longed for his despair and guilt to be gone, and couldn't help but think that just a small step forward would take them away forever.
What did he have to live for? He had lost everything, and there was no way to get it back. A shiver went through him as Aqua saying he had only been interested in her looks echoed through his mind, and he cringed as he remembered his reply. Was he really only interested in her looks? She was gorgeous, there was no doubt about it, but Boreas was sure he'd been interested in more. He loved talking to her, listening to her, and had supported her when she was at her weakest... How could she say he was only interested in her looks?
With regret he knew exactly how she could say that as he remembered his reaction to her choice. He had called it treason and yelled at her for it, deeply insulted her. Yet, though he still thought it was treason, he had to agree that it was typically her choice. It was something she really believed in, and he had hated her for it, despite his claims of loving her.
The memories to the happy, carefree days he'd spent with her in Driftveil made him feel even worse, if such a thing was possible. The gorge seemed to beckon. Just one step forwards, and it would all be over. No more despair, no more guilt, no more sorrow, no more horrible memories. Just one step, and gravity would take care of the rest. He'd never even feel the impact, it'd be quite painless.
He lifted his paw, but something in him held him back. But he asked that something what he had to lose. His life was over and he was dead inside, he might as well make it official. He stepped on, put his paw into the empty air, and tumbled into the gorge.
Aqua trembled with anger as she remembered the names Boreas had called her. She had made the choice to fight for what's right with her friends, and he dared call her a traitor for it? She couldn't believe she had once loved him. Clearly that had been a complete mistake, and she'd only liked him because he was the first person she'd talked to in ages. Obviously she had never really been in love at all with him, so what did she care about his opinion? He was just some annoying, close-minded Glaceon who had joined the wrong side. She didn't care at all about his opinion or him.
So why was it she trembled with fury and had to fight tears whenever the things he'd said echoed through her mind? Clearly it must just be that she was sensitive to others' opinion of her. She would've reacted the exact same if Octa had said that, or-
Oh, who am I trying to fool? Aqua sighed, obviously I was completely in love with him, before I found out what a bastard he really is.
She remembered the happy days she'd spent with him with pain in her heart. After all those months of sad loneliness, she had been completely mesmerised by the cute, witty, charming and kind Glaceon. She remembered how happy and flattered she had felt whenever she'd caught him staring at her. She had been so sure she would have a wonderful future with him... She had thought he felt the same way about her, but now she knew better. He had been interested in nothing but her looks. If he really loved her, he would've accepted and supported her choice, as she'd expected him to do.
Or was he right? Maybe I did betray him... A small voice inside her said.
Never! He just couldn't accept my choice, accept me! He wants to dominate me and direct my choices, but I won't let him! She furiously silenced the voice.
It had taken her just one day, one single day, to become miserable after she'd said goodbye to Boreas when he left Driftveil. She'd been utterly mistaken: loneliness felt even worse with lovesickness added to it. Her feelings told her to get to Mistralton as soon as possible, though she knew it would take Boreas more than a month to get there too.
Three days after they had said their goodbye, Aqua had stopped at the riverbanks for the evening when it had all become too much and she'd cried.
"Hey, beautiful," a voice said sympathetically, "don't cry, I'm sure whatever it is will get better."
Aqua turned around with start and saw a Jolteon grinning at her charmingly. "Don't sneak up on me like that! Who are you and what do you want?!"
"Sorry. My name is Diego, and I want to bring a smile to those pretty cheeks. Surely whatever it is will feel better if you share it with me."
"Diego?" Aqua frowned.
"Yes, that's my name. If you don't like it, feel free to think of a nickname."
"Oh, no, it's just that name reminds me of someone. Some bastard Zoroark who once hung my boyfriend from a Ferris wheel by his tail."
The face Diego made caused Aqua to burst into laughter. "Yeah, I know it sounds bizarre, but there's a long story behind it."
"Yeah," Diego grinned, "It certainly does sound bizarre. So, that sounds like it was painful to your boyfriend. I mean, he could lose his tail that way..."
"Oh, not to worry. His tail was still attractive. Uh, I meant attached." Aqua blushed at her little slip.
"Well, that's great. So, where is your boyfriend then? I'd love to hear this story from him."
"He's travelling to Mistralton with his trainer. I'm travelling there separately because I don't like humans."
A cunning grin flashed over Diego's face, but was immediately exchanged for a friendly smile. "Don't like humans and headed for Mistralton? Well, isn't that a coincidence, I don't like humans either, and I'm travelling by Mistralton with a friend - he's a pokémon, of course. Why don't you travel with us?"
Aqua's heart brightened at the chance of travelling with companions, especially the nice Jolteon. "I'd love to! I hope your friend won't object..."
"What, object to such a pretty girl joining us? Never. C'mon, let's go to the place where I agreed to meet him."
Diego took her to a clearing nearby where they waited for his friend while they chatted amicably. Finally a Slowking entered the clearing.
"Norin," Diego immediately greeted the Slowking, "great to see you again!"
The Slowking frowned in puzzlement for a moment, then greeted Diego. "Hi, Diego. I see you had more luck with finding new friends than I did."
"Yeah," Diego grinned. "This is Aqua. Aqua, this is my friend Norin."
Aqua greeted Norin. "So... You two were actually looking for new friends? Why?"
"Well," Norin explained, "we are on a mission. A mission to make a perfect world. Did you tell her yet, Diego?"
"No, you tell it better."
"Okay. Well, Aqua, have you ever heard of Zekrom?"
"Of course," said Aqua, "it's one of the legendary dragons that were created when the original dragon of Unova was split into two."
"Yes. The original dragon was split into two by the foolish humans commanding it. Humans are unlike pokémon, selfish and evil, and so they caused the dragon to split by their enmity. Zekrom embodies ideals, and I have a dream of a perfect world where humans and pokémon are separated. An ideal world, where pokémon can finally be perfect beings. But I won't achieve that by force: I will reawaken Zekrom, and together we will defeat the most powerful human trainers. Then everyone will see how perfect free pokémon are and liberate their pokémon."
"But what about people who don't liberate their pokémon? And why do you need me?"
"You underestimate Zekrom's power. And I need you to help me become friends with Zekrom and to get to Dragonspiral Tower, where we can summon it."
Aqua thought it was great she could actually do something about the humans in this way, and very much wanted to help Norin, but there was one problem. "I can help you along, but I have to stay behind in Mistralton. I promised my boyfriend I'd wait for him there. But I'd be delighted to help you until then."
Aqua had thought for two weeks that N was a pokémon, before Diego finally dropped the illusions masking the both of them. Aqua had been furious and attacked both her new friends. But she realised that even with the deception they were still the only friends she had at the moment. She didn't want to go back to being lonely and alone. Besides, Boreas hadn't really told her anything bad about N, and she couldn't help but agree with him, and he really had a good plan. She had a very hard time to trust a human, though. But N explained that he had been raised by pokémon ever since he was a child. He believed his parents had been pokémon, and he had been born in the form of a human to be able to convince the humans their ways of treating pokémon were wrong. Ghetsis and the other Sages had decided to help him and created Team Plasma to fulfil his dream. He considered the Sages as wise, good men, though flawed and on occasion too cruel. Aqua wasn't sure whether N's parents could really have been pokémon or that he had just been abandoned to pokémon as a child, but either way he wasn't raised by humans but by pokémon. His behaviour was very inhuman, and it was easy to think of him as a fellow pokémon.
Diego, on the other hand, had not really been able to explain his behaviour satisfactorily. Apparently he hadn't even told N about what he'd done to Boreas, and the human was as angry as Aqua at him for it. Aqua had scolded and Scalded him furiously for the way he'd tormented Boreas. But of course forgiveness came a lot easier to N, as Diego had been his lifelong friend and he didn't love Boreas like Aqua did.
"Hey there, gorgeous," said Diego as he sat down next to her.
"What do you want, Diego?" Aqua snapped.
"I just want to cheer you up a bit. You know I rather see a gorgeous smile then a gorgeous frown on that pretty face."
"Save it, Diego. I'm not going to cheer up, not after what happened."
"I think you will if you place it into perspective: you lost your boyfriend, but he was a git anyway. He joined the evil human oppressors and called you a traitor for joining the right side. He even tried to kill you, I saw it with my own eyes. You've got your friends to help you through this. Maybe I can even be more than just a friend to you..."
"Well, when we told Boreas we were mates, it was just a lie to hurt him like he'd hurt you, of course. But why don't we make that lie a truth? It's over between you now, after all, so we can both give in to the natural magnetism that's been between us ever since we first met."
Aqua felt pretty uncomfortable at that proposal. On the one hand she wanted to say yes. Diego was attractive, powerful, fighting for what was right, and strong. He had always treated her well and supported her, even when Boreas didn't. But another part of her realised she felt nothing for him, while her heart had burnt and in a way still burnt, for Boreas. Because even though she hated Boreas now, part of her was still immensely attracted by him. "No. Sorry, Diego, but I think we're better off as just friends."
"Okay. I understand, it is rather short notice, isn't it? I never asked you before, because I knew you had a boyfriend, but now that you're free I figure we can hook up. But of course I'll give you a while to think about it."
"Diego, that's not what- You had better take that paw off my hip right now or I'll take it off your arm," Aqua said only half-jokingly.
Diego quickly retracted his arm. "Okay, sorry about that. It's hard to resist touching such beauty."
"Well, you'd better learn resisting it, because I'm not at all interested in you in that way."
"Then what're you going to do? Go back to Boreas?"
"Never!" she exclaimed, though part of her wanted to. But she recognised that even if she forgave him for some unfathomable reason there was no way he'd want her back after the things she'd said and done. Maybe she had really betrayed him... Joining N after all that Team Plasma had put him through was very inconsiderate, she had to admit, even if it was the right choice. She trembled as the way he'd called her a traitor echoed through her mind. His voice had really ringed with the deepest sound of betrayal. She realised that maybe he really did love her, and had just felt incredibly betrayed by her choice.
"Hey, are you alright, handsome?" Diego asked.
"Yes," Aqua lied. "Yes, just leave me alone for a bit. I... Need to think about some things."
"Of course," Diego grinned. "You shouldn't rush into a relationship."
As Diego left her, Aqua remembered how Boreas had supported her when she'd needed him most. Falling asleep in his arms had been wonderful and she really began to question her sanity in questioning whether he really loved her as she remembered his passionate kisses. Of course he did. He loved her, and now she had destroyed any chance they might have at being together happily.
But, another part of her angrily brought up, even if he really did love her, he had still been horrible to her. She was a traitor, was she? A ***** and a filthy ****, and Capella's blood was on her paws? Even if they had loved each other, that was unforgivable. But then she realised just how it must've felt for him to have Capella, who he liked very much, die at Team Plasma's hands and then find out his girlfriend joined N. And then the things she'd said to him... She had tried to remain calm and explain the situation to him, but his words had infuriated her, and she had said some really mean things herself. She felt horrible and ashamed as she remembered it.
Boreas suddenly felt like his inner organs were being squeezed out through his mouth and arse as rope-like things caught him around his belly and heaved him up. He reached the top of the chasm and stood eye to eye with a furious Octa.
"Have you gone stark raving mad?!" Octa shouted.
Boreas was dumbfounded. In the year he'd known Octa, the Servine had never yelled at him. "O-Octa, I-"
"Yes, you! That's who it's all about with you, isn't it?! You!"
"Just because things aren't going your way for a bit, you decide to top yourself?! I have never heard of such a despicably selfish act, and am tempted to push you into that gorge myself!"
"The thought of how your suicide would affect us never even crossed your egotistic mind, did it?! Capella gave her life to save yours, and you would just waste her sacrifice by throwing your life away?! You would give us another friend to mourn?! How is Black supposed to deal with that?! How am I supposed to deal with that?! Hmm?"
Octa was right, Boreas hadn't tried to see it from that side yet. "I-I hadn't thought of that..."
"No, you hadn't, had you?! You stupid, inconsiderate, selfish nincompoop!"
"Octa, I'm sorry. I didn't realise you still cared..."
Octa took a deep breath. He stopped shouting and returned to his normal angry state: icy, snide, and calm. "You think just because you gravely insulted me and my family your death wouldn't affect me?Honestly, 'tis a shame such a smart mind is wasted on one as stupid as you."
"Sorry. Sorry for everything, I didn't mean what I said to you. And I shouldn't have tried to kill myself, you're right. But Capella's death and Aqua's treason just affected me so much... You don't know what it's like, the emotions blind me and fill my entire being. I-I wish I was like you, without these emotions bothering me!"
Octa's eyebrows raised in surprise. "You think I have no emotions? I am no emotionless automaton, of course I have emotions. I just have a far better control over them than you, my dear fellow. I am as sorrowful as you are about Capella's death, but I don't let that sorrow control me and make me a depressed wreck. I am furious about your attempt to kill yourself and the insults you hurled at me, but I do not let that anger control me and make me a raging maniac."
"Can you teach that to me?"
"Well, 'tis not like an easy trick one can simply be taught. 'Tis a form of self-discipline that requires a lot of effort and time to learn. I can only advice you to breathe deeply and try to calm yourself whenever your emotions threaten to overwhelm you. Always listen to your mind, not to your heart."
"I guess... Octa, what should I do about Aqua? I mean, she betrayed me and said all kinds of horrible things."
"Well, I do have some advice on that subject."
"Get over yourself."
"What?!" Boreas snarled angrily.
"Do you think your world view is the only valid one? Just because Aqua doesn't agree with you doesn't mean she betrayed you. I doubt betrayal was in her mind for even a moment."
"But she joined Team Plasma, the people who killed Capella!"
"Yes, she did. But let me ask you something important: how much do you love her?"
"I don't," Boreas lied.
"Poppycock. How much do you love her?"
"Fifty kilohearts!" Boreas sarcastically replied. "How am I supposed to quantify a feeling?"
"Close your eyes. Try to feel the full extent of your adoration for her. Now imagine it as a flame. Tell me how warmly it burns."
Boreas did so and resolutely stated: "It'd burn Moltres-wings to dust."
Octa whistled in amazement.
"And it's a bit too big and warm to be called a flame. More like the nuclear fires of a star, really."
"Well, if that is how you wish to characterise it, let me continue along that metaphor: if nurtured and allowed to prosper, a star can illuminate an entire solar system, and sustain biospheres of life on nearby planets. However, if not nurtured, a star dies. It does so in a supernova of unmatched catastrophic proportions, annihilating absolutely everything in its vicinity, vaporising entire solar systems. If your love is truly like the nuclear fires of a star, you seem to have two choices of how to handle it. Now I am getting tired, therefore I shall go to bed. Be warned that I shall never forgive you if you decide to make jumping into gorges a habit."
I just finished reading the latest chapter available in fanfic.
As usual, I'll let you know my comments about it when it reaches here in PC.
Re-reading this chapter made me feel sad.
Still, it's a great chapter, as usual.
Here are my reactions for this chapter.
Diego flirting Aqua really feels very eewy... x,x
Glad Aqua declined.
Somehow, I felt like Octa was gonna rescue Boreas.
And somehow, you made me realise how selfish suicide really is... o.o
All in all, another great chapter, and it was a really really nice one as well.
Keep at it~!
I'd say it contains the darkest bit of the story, though the latter parts slowly begin lightening things up a bit already. And of course, I'm glad you like it.
Chapter Forty-Two: The Highflying Girl
When they finally emerged from Chargestone Cave it felt like a huge blessing to them all. Capella couldn't have been more mistaken when she had said they would have a great time in the cave. Now that horrible place was her tomb, and the site of the violent breakup between Boreas and Aqua, two events that kept haunting Boreas. Seeing the Sun for the first time in weeks was simply delightful. While it didn't really solve any part of the mountain of troubles and horrid memories plaguing Boreas the light at least made them seem slightly less overwhelming than the eternal darkness of Chargestone Cave did.
It had been winter when they'd entered the cave, but by now spring had clearly started. Flowers grew, birds sang, and trees had regained their leaves. Seeing life go on everywhere made the pain of Capella's loss easier to bear. But not the pain of Aqua's treason. When Boreas saw two Pidgeys courting, he felt so incredibly jealous he was just about ready to kill them both. Spring brought many such reminders to Boreas, and it made his mood the worst in the entire team.
They arrived in Mistralton on a beautiful day in early April. They walked the last part of the journey to the pokécenter, through Mistralton, exhausted and limping with various wounds and broken limbs. Their walking the streets so battered up and exhausted caught the attention of a pink-haired human woman in revealing blue clothes and a middle-aged man with an odd greying-brown haircut and beard. They rushed over to help Black and his pokémon. The woman threw Black's arm around her shoulder to help him walk, as the deep cut on his leg had got infected and gave him a limp now.
"Are you alright?!" the woman asked with concern.
Black was looking at her with a stupid, mesmerised expression on his face. "I... I am now," he spoke.
"Don't worry, boy," the man said in a pleasant baritone voice, "Skyla and I'll help you to the pokécenter. What's your name?"
Black didn't respond but kept staring straight into Skyla's eyes. "Hey there. My name is Black."
"Right, Black, my name is Cedric Juniper, and this is Skyla, Mistralton's Gym Leader. And you are obviously exhausted and wounded, so we're bringing you to the pokécenter."
In other circumstances Boreas might have giggled along with his friends and Lucius at Black's obvious smittenness, but instead he felt ice cold jealousy freezing him, and he could barely resist freezing Black as well. "So, what's you name?" Black asked.
"Professor!" said Skyla, "I think he might have a concussion or something!"
"Heh, 'or something' indeed," Juniper chuckled, "I don't think the pokécenter can cure that, but at least it can heal their wounds. I wonder if he's the same Black my daughter has been talking about..." He inspected Octa for a moment. "Yes, he must be. That Servine clearly comes from Crimson Breeders: look at its pentafurcated tail- and backleaves and its long arms. I'm pretty sure only they have bred Servines looking like that."
"You're right, Professor. Did Minerva give a Snivy from Crimson breeders to this Black? That's a generous gift!" Octa basked with pride at this.
"Yup. Always gave her friends big gifts for their birthdays when she was a kid too. Well, boy, if your brain is still working, you're probably wondering if I'm related to Minerva Juniper. And I am: she's my daughter."
Black seemed to notice Cedric Juniper for the first time. "Oh, hello sir. I know your daughter, actually; she gave me Octa, my Servine."
Juniper chuckled as they reached the pokécenter. "Did she? Well, what a small world it is. As Skyla here just showed me with her plane. Skyla, I'll let you know if something comes up again."
"Professor, my plane is a cargo plane! You can't keep treating it as your private jet!"
"Aww, Skyla. If you keep frowning, your face might freeze like that, and that'd be a shame. We all have to help each other out, you know, both people and pokémon. Well, see you later. You too, Black."
"Sheesh," said Skyla as Juniper walked away, "it's hard to believe a happy-go-lucky guy like that could be a renowned pokémon professor. Well, Black, I take it you'll want to challenge my Gym, but first I want you and your pokémon to get a good check-up and rest at the pokécenter. I won't accept your challenge beforehand."
Boreas awoke from the first good night's sleep he'd had in weeks. When he had told Nurse Armageddon's Audino he couldn't sleep she had given him some pills that had sent him into a dreamless sleep. That, coupled with the pokécenter's cares and the soft room meant Boreas awoke in a better mood than he'd been in since Capella died. It was still darker and fouler than the average Garbodor's stool sample, but at least it was an improvement.
Boreas looked at himself in the mirror that hung in the room. A grim, sad Glaceon looked back. The cheerful, intelligent gleam in his eyes was gone, replaced by a frown and a sad stare. A large scar marred his left cheek and the tip of his tail was missing. The fur on his lower jaw was darker than it used to be. It was quite a change from the last time he'd seen his reflection. He tried to smile, but it looked awfully fake and just as gloomy as before.
When Black awoke he woke his pokémon and told them to gather round. It was clear he was going to say something, but he didn't seem to be able to start.
"Um," he explained. He was silent for a moment. "Guys, I have to talk to you about something. I... uh... basically, I'm not sure if I want to continue our journey. Capella's death made me think... It made me think about many things, but most of all about being Champion. It's what I've always wanted, but now I'm not sure any more... Capella's death made me think about the things that really matter, and I wonder if power is worth the chance of losing another on of you... So I'm considering returning to Nuvema. You can all come with me, of course. But I'm not sure, that's why we're going to continue until I decide and challenge Skyla today."
Boreas didn't know what he thought of it. Getting away from it all by returning to Nuvema sounded great. But on the other hand, that would also mean stopping their fight against Team Plasma. Which was probably a good thing, now that he thought of it. No more death, no more fighting, no more danger. There was nothing they could really do against Plasma anyway, and the chance of losing more friends or running into Aqua again...
"Black, old chap," Octa spoke, "as much as it pains me not to pursue our chance at glory, I agree we should most definitely consider returning to Nuvema, at the very least for a long break and perchance to retire from our endeavour entirely. Capella's untimely demise has affected us all severely..."
"Yeah, I-I guess you're right," said Toxica. "It's just not the same without Capella. I don't know if I can continue like this..."
Lucius scowled and looked at each of their faces in turn. "That's funny," he snarled, "I didn't notice all your balls were cut off during the battle!"
"What?!" Boreas exclaimed.
"You're a bunch of weakling cowards! Did your spirits die with Capella?! Is your ambition suddenly gone?! You're just gonna go home to whine about her being dead?! Well, if that's the way y'all think, I'm done with this team! You guys may be ready to give up, but unlike you Capella's death has only made my resolve stronger! I will find Team Plasma, and make them into a funeral pyre for Capella. Sages, grunts, pokémon, N, that lovely girlfriend of yours, pup. And I will get to the ****ing pokémon league, and enter that ****ing Hall of Fame! And if you guys are too wimpy to do that, I'm leaving the team the moment you give up, and I'll let myself be caught by Cheren, or another real trainer!"
It was silent for a moment, then Boreas, Octa, and Toxica started arguing with him. They fell silent, however, when Selene said: "I agree with Lucius."
It was so rare that Selene said something that both made sense and was directly connected to the situation at hand that they all stopped arguing. "You... You have an opinion?" Boreas blurted out.
Selene looked as surprised as Boreas did. "Yes... I believe I do. I agree with Lucius. We can't stop now, I want to defeat the Champion. And stop Team Plasma. I think this must be important."
Lucius laughed. "There, that crazy old chicken is being saner than all of you together. Good job, you crazy bird!"
"But Selene," Toxica argued, "you can't really agree with 'im. I mean, what's becoming Champion going to get us?"
"Power," Lucius spoke, "and glory and honour and recognition and all that. The entire region looking at us reverently, because we proved we are the most powerful pokémon in all of Unova! If we continue we can have enough power to avenge Capella and much, much more!"
"We shouldn't give up," Selene nodded. "I think I'm certain of this. We can't give up just because we've hit a little trouble. If I'd done that when- uh, never mind. So anyway, I agree with Lucius."
They began arguing again, but Black interrupted them. "Okay, I see not all of you agree with me. But I haven't decided yet anyway. Let's go challenge Skyla first."
Though Mistralton was only a small city, the Gym was quite hard to find. It turned out to be inside an aircraft hangar on the city's busy airport. From the inside the hangar was quite unique: the huge hall contained two platforms raised high up in the air on poles. A huge blue cannon stood on the middle one and on the ground. The cannons were large enough for a human to fit in, and pointed at the platforms. Skyla stood on the highest platform, waiting. Black tried shouting at her, but she was too far away to hear.
"Selene," Black said, "go to Skyla and try to find out if I'm really supposed to fire myself out of these cannons."
Selene flew up and came back a while later. She simply nodded.
"Well," Black said dubiously, "I guess it must be safe... But I'll return you all to your pokéballs for a moment."
Boreas was released from the bizarre world inside his pokéball on the highest platform. Black looked quite bruised up.
"Hee-hee," giggled Skyla, "did you enjoy flying with the help of the cannons? They're my pride and joy!"
"Well, they are quite a nice pair of cannons," said Black.
"Well, the cannons may be fun, but battling is even more fun! We'll use three pokémon each, no switching out. Amelia, go!"
She threw a pokéball with a graceful pirouette, and a Swoobat appeared, soaring through the air. "Selene," Black commanded, "you're up first!"
Selene looked up quizzically. "Am I? I don't see myself there..."
"He means you have to kick that Swoobat's ass, crazy bird!" Lucius barked.
"Oh, I see!" Selene took off and pursued the Swoobat. Boreas thought Selene was a very wise choice for the battle here. Just like with Elesa, their immobility was a big disadvantage, but Selene's wings solved that problem. Her type advantage was good too.
Neither Selene nor Amelia the Swoobat was a very graceful flyer. They flew around the large hangar flapping their wings loudly in powerful, rather than dazzling aerial combat. Still, they raced through the hangar, trying to get the better of each other. They pecked and bit each other, bashed into their enemy, hit the other with their wings.
Suddenly Selene plummeted down, falling to the ground like a brick. She was too far away for Black to return her to her pokéball, so it seemed she was going to crash into the ground. The Swoobat dived down even faster, using her wings to catch up to the plummeting Murkrow and rescue her. As soon as she caught up, Selene suddenly regained complete control of her flight, powerfully hit the Swoobat with her wings, circled around her and dug her claws into Amelia's back and wings. Lucius and Boreas cheered for her, but Toxica seemed unimpressed and Octa frowned disapprovingly.
The battle continued with low swoops and high flies, but after the powerful dark-type attack Selene had unleashed on Swoobat she had such great advantage that the battle was practically over. It wasn't long before Skyla recalled her pokémon.
"When I think about a match with a fabulous trainer like you, it's like walking on air!" Skyla said as she threw another pokéball. "It's your turn, Orville!"
With a flash of light a gleaming metallic Skarmory appeared. "Uh oh, that's a steel-type..." Boreas mumbled, remembering Ryoku's Ferrothorn that had been nearly impervious to damage thanks to its type.
"No problem, pup," Lucius said, "my flames'll easily burn through that armour and roast the bird inside."
"Well, that's not much good to Selene, is it? And besides, you'll have to catch it first. That won't be easy without wings."
"Yeah, well, why don't you go give up and cry back to Nuvema, huh?"
Boreas' emotions were already stretched to their limit and the urge to attack Lucius was very hard for him to resist. "What is your problem, Lucius?!"
"What's my problem, pup?" Lucius scoffed, "I could ask you the same thing. We have an opportunity at power, fame, fortune, and glory and you just want to throw it away to go crying like a newborn?!"
"If you like power that much," Boreas hissed, "why don't you join the Sages? Their plan sounds just like your thing!"
Lucius was furious at the suggestion. "Because they killed Capella, you dipshit! So maybe their cause is surprisingly good, what does that matter? I'm still gonna kill them all and everyone who helped 'em along."
"Lucius," Black commanded as he recalled Selene, who had just got badly beaten up by the Skarmory, "it's your turn!"
Lucius turned his furious glare away from Boreas and instead paid attention to the big metal bird that was rapidly swooping to the platform. A gigantic wave of flame erupted from his mouth. The Skarmory tried to avoid it, but it was too big even for a pokémon of its speed and it was caught right in the wave of flame, yet it emerged still flying though its conductive metal armour had to be baking it on the inside. Lucius breathed in to produce another inferno, but Skarmory's speed paid off and it swooped over Lucius, leaving long, deep cuts in his back with its metal claws.
But Lucius jumped at his opponent, his teeth ablaze with intense flames, and bit into its tail, leaving a red-hot mark before Skarmory managed to shake him off, nearly dropping him over the edge. They began a powerful, rough melee combat. Under normal circumstances Skarmory's metal armour would give it an immense advantage, but Lucius' teeth and claws were ablaze with flames, heating the metal bird's armour up with every hit and roasting the creature's flesh inside.
For a while the battle seemed to be going to Skarmory's side, as the cuts it left on Lucius forced him ever nearer the edge. But then the battle's tide turned as Skarmory's armour heated up further and further. In the end Skyla was forced to retract it as it began screaming in pain, being baked from the inside.
"This is my last pokémon," she said, sending out a Swanna, "but I never give up hope!"
The moment Swanna appeared from the pokéball it unleashed a beam of bubbles on Lucius. The speed at which the bubbles moved meant the barraged Lucius powerfully with lots of water and soaked him as they blasted him back. The fire-type roared and yelled in pain, but there was little he could do any more.
"Boreas, it's all yours!" said Black.
Boreas pounced at Swanna to pin it down before it could fly away, but it took off immediately, recognising a faster and more agile opponent. Boreas almost jumped over the platform's edge as he missed, but managed to catch himself. His opponent, now soaring through the air, blasted him with the Bubblebeam. Though they were only bubbles, the force behind them was immense and it felt more like a beam of golf balls blasted at him with great force than bubbles. His skin was bruised by the great force, which felt as if it left marks on his bones. Boreas disrupted the Bubblebeam with a pulse of cold, then jumped out of the way, hit the head of the beam with an Ice Beam, freezing the nearest bubbles and turning them into a beam of hail the size of golfballs instead. He tried to let the cold spread up the beam to its user, but that was impossible due to the air between the bubbles and the speed at which they flowed. So he quickly stopped doing that, as the last thing he needed was for those bubbles to be solid and thus do even more damage.
He tried to hit his opponent with Ice Beams, but it was too far away to be hit by them. On the other hand, the small platform allowed him little space to dodge the Bubblebeam.
He tried to control the copious amounts of air in the large hangar, to whip it up into an icy storm, but that was not easy. The air was standing still here, lazy and stagnant; quite unlike the stormy, busy air he had used the last time he'd tried to control it. It didn't want to move, but he prodded it on with Icy Wind, slowly getting it to get off its lazy arse and start moving about, first as a calm breeze, then as a stiff cool wind that gyred through the Gym. Boreas found it increasingly easy to control and use it. He directed the winds to his opponent to interfere with its flight. Of course, he couldn't precisely control the unpredictable, chaotic air, but giving it a nudge and a suggestion for the general direction of what he wanted it to do worked just as well.
The bubbles stood no chance of survival in the roaring winds that now howled through the hangar and Swanna was having heavy troubles staying afloat. Skyla shouted commands at it, but it couldn't even hear her over the rapid winds. This was amazingly easy, Boreas thought. The air itself seemed to want to move and make a storm, all it needed was some encouragement to actually do it.
His opponent swooped to the platform, battling the fierce winds. But it didn't even have the mobility to dodge the five Ice Beams Boreas shot at it as it struggled against the winds and was hit by all. Thoroughly weakened, it managed to land on the platform, only to be taken down by two more Ice Beams.
"Wow," Skyla cheerfully spoke as she almost lost her balance to the storm, "you're an amazing pokémon trainer! Being your opponent has been a new source of strength to me, as you won an amazing victory. Here, you earned the Jet Badge!" she handed Black a badge shaped like a feather.
"Thanks," said Black.
"Y'know, I heard some things about you from the other Gym Leaders!" Skyla continued. "Six badges already, eh? Brycen and Drayden had better watch out..."
"Actually..." said Black. "I'm not sure if I will continue my quest."
"But why?" Skyla asked with concern. "You're a great trainer, you have real potential. I'm sure you could make it to the pokémon league, and then who knows?"
"I just... Don't know..." said Black.
"Well, don't you want to continue for your fans, then?"
"Yeah, that guy with the long green hair standing in the hangar's doorway, he watched our entire battle. He must be a fan of you."
This was a great re-read. Finally, a break from all those sad-things inside that cave. =/
Selene was full of lols on this chapter. xD
Anyway, onto my comment.
That's an eye-opener!
The battle was good. Great to see/read that Boreas managed to perform a great match, despite the things they ran into.
All in all, a great chapter, as always. But this time, it's even greater, for finally, they're out from that cave!
Keep at it~!
They really, really deserve a break right now, don't they? Well, that's more or less what part seven, which begins next chapter, is about; giving them all a relatively calm break between the darkness of part six and the developing war of part eight.
Part Seven: If Winter Comes, Can Spring be Far Behind?
Chapter Forty-Three: Better to Have Loved and Lost?
“What do you want, N?” Black angrily asked when he got to the door. “And where are your pokémon?”
“My pokémon are not here,” N stated, “because I don't want to have another fight. Battles are cruel and unjust, and our previous battle was even more so. I have to talk to you, I don't want to fight you, so I thought it was wise to leave my pokémon at the city's edge.”
“And how d'you know,” Lucius growled, “we won't just kill you now that you're undefended and be done with Team Plasma?”
“Because you wouldn't do that to an unprotected man. And because Team Plasma wouldn't be done without me, they would just change their plans, much for the worse of everyone. Speaking of their plans: that's what I want to talk to you about.”
“Really?” Black asked. “You're going to tell me Team Plasma's plans? Why?”
“Because they involve you. Walk with me and let me tell you about how Unova came to be. The warring people of Unova were united under two heroes who were friends with a legendary dragon. The heroes ruled wisely for a number of years, but they were humans. Eventually their warlike nature became apparent and they fought a destructive war with each other. One foolish hero closed his mind to what could be and was content with what was, pursuing truth. The other hero realised things could be better and strove for a perfect, ideal world. Their war devastated Unova after the period of peace they had ironically begun. Of course, they died in the end and Unova had some limited peace again. Without the heroes' force of will keeping them in this world, the dragons went to sleep in two stones, a light one and a dark one. Each awaited to be reawoken by new a new hero once again pursuing truth or ideals. I am that hero and I will resurrect Zekrom to make my ideal world!”
Black began laughing. Octa said: “Surely you must realise this is only a myth. Not the actual truth.”
“You've been with humans too long, Octa. You've adopted their narrow-minded attitude.”
“Narrow-minded?” Octa arched an eyebrow. “Is reason narrow-minded? Scepsis towards unproven hypotheses is not narrow-mindedness, but the entire foundation of knowledge. If one does not apply scepsis systematically, one's mind shall unavoidably be filled with nonsense, rubbish and superstition, for one can believe any non-contradictory claim made, regardless of whether or not there is any evidence supporting it. Scepsis, my good sir, is the foundation of reason and civilisation, therefore it does not surprise me to see Team Plasma's king so thoroughly lacking in it.”
Boreas grinned at Octa's little speech. It was great to hear Octa put N down like that. It made Boreas realise how much he missed Octa's clever wit and especially his friendship. He decided he should soon apologise for how he had insulted him during their last meeting with N.
N grimaced. “But I do have evidence that the myths are true. It's all a big equation, don't you see? But what's more important is Black's role in this.” He turned back to Black. “You don't want me to succeed, do you?”
“Of course I don't!” Black gestured angrily. “You want to separate humans and pokémon, breaking millions of friendships! Not only that, but your Team Plasma is doing utterly evil things to get to their goal. I would oppose you even if I agreed humans and pokémon should be separated.; your Team Plasma killed Capella and tried killing me and all my pokémon several times!”
“If you want to stop-”
But Black wasn't done yet. “What right do you have to shove your opinion down everyone's throat anyway?! have no problem with you trying to convince people to release their pokémon, but forcing them to? What gives you that right?”
N closed his eyes for a moment before responding. “Many different values mix, and the world becomes grey. That is unforgivable! I will separate pokémon and people, and black and white will be clearly distinct!”
“If you were really a hero, you would celebrate the world's differences, not seek to destroy them all!”
“Maybe. Maybe not. We'll see. When I resurrect Zekrom, I will conquer the Pokémon League and defeat the Champion in the final pokémon battle. Then, between my authority as Champion and Zekrom's power, everyone will release their pokémon. The normal trainers first, then the Gym Leaders and other powerful trainers too. Trainers like you, who really love their pokémon, will release them too, and that does break my heart a little. But it is for the greater good. There is one way, however, in which you can prevent this. Zekrom and I can only be stopped by an equal and opposite force: Reshiram and you.”
“Me?” Black asked in surprise.
“Yes, you. I have known it since Chargestone Cave: you are the other hero. I am right, therefore you will fail; but in the highly unlikely case that I'm wrong, Reshiram can stop me if you awaken it. Then you must defeat the Pokémon League after I do so and stop me. If you can win that battle, I will know I was wrong and stop my cause. But I won't lose the battle. You must search for the light stone. Team Plasma is searching for the dark stone that will resurrect Zekrom. Good luck and may the best win.”
He began walking off when Boreas stopped him. “N, wait. I want to ask something... Uh... How's Aqua?”
“Physically she's alright, but you hurt her deeply mentally. She's very, very angry at you and very sad.”
“Oh... Tell her... Tell her I'm...” Suddenly he realised he was about to apologise to a traitor who was partially responsible for Capella's death. “Tell her nothing.”
N shrugged and walked off. It was silent for a while as they thought over his words. “Completely bonkers,” Black mumbled. “But he has provided us with a way of stopping Team Plasma that's within our reach. It's probably a heap of nonsense, but we have to stop him! There will be time to go back to Nuvema later. Now we must find that light stone, and we must earn two more badges so we can challenge the League if N does. Are you with me?”
All of them, one by one, nodded and told Black they would help him stop N. But something irked Boreas. “But what about the Sages? I doubt they'll give up so easily, even if N thinks they will...” But he also nodded, as he wanted to stop N too.
“Then I must go talk to Skyla. I'll tell her all this and she can tell the other Gym Leaders, particularly Lenora. If anyone knows whether there is any truth to this legend and where the light stone could be, it'll be her.”
As Black walked back to the Gym, Boreas decided he might as well get to the tricky business. “Octa? I'm sorry for what I said to you in Chargestone Cave.”
Octa sniffed haughtily and frowned. “Oh, are you? Well, evidently that solves everything.”
Boreas was startled by Octa's sarcastic reaction, he had expected at least a bit of reciprocation. “Yeah. I- I didn't have myself under control. I was filled with more fury than I'd ever felt, and I couldn't help but lash it out. I shouldn't have, especially not to you. It's just... Capella had just died and then Aqua was with N... I wanted to take revenge, and you were wise enough to step in and I just couldn't help it...”
Octa said nothing but just stared at him.
“Thanks for trying to save me from doing something really stupid... I wish you had succeeded in stopping me... You're a real friend for trying to stop me from ruining myself, and I'm so sorry for what I said to you...”
Octa still said nothing. Boreas wondered if their friendship was really over this time, but he refused to believe that. He cringed as he remembered exactly what he had said to Octa. “I shouldn't have threatened you. I can understand if you find that unforgivable; you were trying to save me from my own idiocy and I threatened you for it... What's even worse, I think I would've made true on that threat if you had kept stopping me... I feel like such a bastard for it. Maybe I don't deserve your friendship.”
Octa still said nothing, but Boreas could see cracks appear in his cold, stern exterior. “I'm so sorry for calling you haughty and arrogant, you aren't, not really. Just proud, and rightly so... I don't think you're an inbred twit at all, your family probably has inbred much less than others thanks to your extensive knowledge of your own family tree; and you are a very clever, wise person. Much wiser than me, that's for certain. I shouldn't have called you meddlesome: you were trying to protect me from my own stupidity and I should've realised it. Your ancestors aren't idiotic, if they gave rise to you they must've been great people. You were my best friend, and I want you to be that again because you are in incredibly good friend. I'm sorry for everything, Octa.”
It was silent for a moment, then Octa grabbed him and hugged him tightly. “I forgive you, my dear fellow,” he whispered. “You're quite right, this is not worth it to give up a friendship like ours for. But please don't say things like that again.”
Boreas awoke from another nightmare. 'Nightmare' was relative, of course, as most people probably wouldn't consider a dream that mostly consisted of kissing and having fun with a lovely girl a nightmare. But Boreas did; it reminded him of what he'd lost. Why? he asked himself furiously, why did she betray me? We could've had such a wonderful future together and she had to go and ruin it!
Yeah, she shouldn't have done that. But what about you? If you hadn't reacted like you did and just remained calm you could still have had a wonderful future together. All it would've required was you saying “Aqua, I don't agree with your choice but I can respect it. Now kiss me, my love.” If you hadn't acted like such a git you could still have had that wonderful future together.
With that disgusting traitor?
See, that's what I meant. I called her a traitor, a *****, a filthy ****, and a treacherous heartbreaker and tried to freeze her to death. Face it, I'm at least as guilty as her for throwing any chance at that wonderful future away.
That's not true! She joined Team Plasma, after all the things they'd done! They killed Capella, for a start.
She didn't know about Capella's death, though. And besides, do you really think Capella would want you to throw away your love to avenge her? I don't know what exactly she would tell me to do if she were still alive, but it certainly wouldn't involve breaking up with Aqua, I'm sure of that.
Even if she didn't know about Capella's death, that doesn't mean she isn't responsible. And what about all the other things Plasma did? She knew about them, she knew how much those bastards hurt me and yet she joined them!
Yes, that was awful of her, joining them despite what they'd put me through. But she's right: it's her choice, bad though it may be, and I acted incredibly horrible to her over it. The things I said to her...
She deserved them.
Maybe, but not from me! I am ashamed to think of them. She's right, if I really loved her I should've supported her and forgiven her. She trusted me to do that, and I betrayed that trust. Remember that night I spent at her burrow at the river? She may seem intelligent, self-assured, sexy, flirtatious, charming, cool, and so much more; and actually is most of those things, but she's surprisingly fragile underneath. She's like a tough wooden cabinet full of lovely delicate crystal glasses... And I took a mallet and smashed the glasses up using the key to her heart she'd entrusted me with... I filled the void in her heart, but then I cruelly left her heart empty again, and now she only has that bastard Diego to fill it with... She was clearly lying when she said she was his mate, but what if she really does hook up with him now? That would be horrible.
Let them rot together, the miserable gits. I don't know why I'm having these thoughts in the first place. Octa always tells me to listen to my mind, not my heart, and this time I'm going to do just that.
Don't flatter yourself into thinking this is a matter of your mind against your heart, both of these different lines of thought spring from both reason emotions. And of course, the heart isn't involved; it's just a pump that pushes my blood through my body. Both you and me are various areas of the brain, the same areas for the most part; only one of the other organs has a major impact on these thoughts. With a few rare exceptions, we're actually made by the same body parts.
Yes, I know that. Obviously I know that, because I'm arguing with myself here. That means I know everything you know... I think I'm going nuts, talking to myself like this.
It's a better kind of insanity than the kind that makes you insult the girl you adore and try to kill her...
I was not being insane! How could I just forgive her after all she did?
Remember what Octa said. Think about how much I love her. Is it really worth throwing that away?
What would I have me do, then? Apologise to her? Even if for some reason I did that, she would never forgive me.
Probably not. I've given her good cause to hate me forever. But it's worth a try if there's even the slightest chance of getting back together.
I don't want to get back together with that traitor!
Yes, I do. I love her, regardless of which side she joined. The time we were together in Driftveil was the happiest of my entire life. It's really sad that two people who are so perfect for each other have been forced apart by circumstances...
Circumstances she caused! She betrayed me to my worst enemies and I want nothing to do with her.
So that's it, then? I'm going to be unhappy and miserable for the rest of my life because I can't even apologise for being so horrid to Aqua.
I won't be unhappy for the rest of my life, because I will just get over it. I was with her for ten days, that's all. It was nothing.
That's rubbish. I am head over heels in love with her. It was not nothing.
I can go back to the way I was before meeting her! I was perfectly happy without her, I can be so again!
I didn't know what life with her was like before... I couldn't go without her now, having tasted of life with her.
I wish I'd never met her... If only I'd just stayed on the boat when I saw her. What kind of prat was I anyway, jumping off the boat just because I saw a pretty girl? I could've drowned. And that would've been a blessing compared to this.
So now I'm wishing I'd died. Just great. Things really have gone downhill fast since leaving Driftveil. If only I'd stayed with Aqua there...
If only humans wouldn't hunt wild pokémon... And if Team Plasma didn't exist.... We could've been so happy together...
But it's too late for that now. What happened happened, I can't change that. Only the future.
But I can't forgive her for joining Team Plasma. They've put me through too much.
I must try... And I must apologise to her, even if she doesn't accept it. The way I acted was disgusting...
Toxica lay awake too. She was lying on the ground, her regrowing flower folded for the night, but with her eyes open watching Octa sleep. Her eyes, well-adapted to see in the dark, traced his slender, serpentine form, watched his chest slowly move with his breath, and settled on his handsome face. She sighed at how attractive he was. Intelligent, charming, handsome, noble, charismatic, kind, and proper. She had been in love with him for almost a year now, ever since he'd evolved to a Servine. When she was an Oddish, he'd been her absolute hero. She had almost worshipped him, believing him perfect and amazing, and had been so embarrassingly obvious and in his face about it all in hindsight. She occasionally cringed with shame at how she had acted to him back then; it was no wonder he had never responded to her advances and Boreas was always so annoyed at her.
Evolving to a Vileplume had shifted her perspective by a surprising amount. Her obsessive, hero-worshippy crush had developed into a more mature love for him, and she had decided to give him more space and not hound him so much. Yet here I am, watching him sleep like some kind of creepy stalker, she couldn't help thinking.
Then, of course, Capella died and she was far too busy grieving for her friend to continue her advances towards Octa. In fact she still felt a powerful blast of sadness whenever she thought of poor Capella. Her death had devastated Toxica, and how could it not? She was always so friendly and kind and wise and always ready with help... The past weeks had been horrid, the only long period in her life when she hadn't been cheerful most of the time. She had never before had much trouble with being cheerful; she could never stop noticing how amazing and fun the world was. But Capella's death had knocked that out of her, and for a while the world had seemed like a sad, grey place full of death. But as she slowly got over Capella's death her old cheerful demeanour was slowly beginning to return to her.
Octa softly mumbled in his sleep, and Toxica giggled like a little seedling at how incredibly sexy that was. When she was an Oddish she had on occasion kissed Octa's cheek while he slept, but now she held herself back from doing that, recognising it was a pretty creepy thing to do. Remembering all the things she did as an Oddish, she really had to wonder about her sanity back then. Who knew a simple Leaf Stone could change so much? It made her wonder what she would've been like as a Gloom, and she felt some regret at having been a Gloom for barely half a minute before evolving on. Not too much, though, she liked being a Vileplume now, but if she could do it over she would probably have to a Gloom a week before taking the Leaf Stone so she could at least have experienced it for a few days.
She realised she was never going to get any sleep watching Octa, so she tore her gaze away from him and rolled onto her back. A sky full of stars was above her. Octa had explained the stars were really balls of hydrogen and helium undergoing nuclear fusion quadrillions of kilometres away. She looked at a pretty, bright yellow star in one of the points of a pentagon of stars. Capella had once told her she'd been named after that star, and Toxica found it strangely liberating to look at it as she fell asleep.
This is somewhat of a short chapter, for me at least.
Anyway, it was still a nice re-read.
I'm glad that Boreas got the guts to apologize and fix his friendship with Octa.
She was secretly kissing Octa when she was still an Oddish...? o.o
I'm a bit glad she now realized how 'creepy' she was back then... xD
Fanfiction.net says it's in the mid-range of lengths, but at this point the annotations (which are counted as part of the chapter in terms of word-count) there get so long that the word-count thingie isn't very accurate any more. So yeah, it's probably one of the shorter chapters.
Chapter Forty-Four: Reunion in the Grasslands
Thick rain poured down on Route 7's high grasslands, soaking Black's team entirely. The copious amounts of water didn't just come from above either: the high grasses reached as high as Black's head and were very wet, so water came from above, below, and the sides. Black didn't even bother wearing his raincoat, as it would've had about as much use as wearing it while swimming. His pokémon didn't care any more either, as they couldn't get any wetter and it was pretty warm anyway. Only Lucius was in an intensely foul mood, even for his general bad disposition, hating all the water soaking him.
The grasslands were like a thick jungle of grass and other plants. There were many different kinds of grasses and tall flowers, the thing they had in common being that they were all very tall and none of the pokémon could ever look over them, while Black only occasionally managed to. It was strange how there were no trees or shrubs, only these tall grasses and flowers though the land was not worked by farmers. Occasionally a pokémon would scurry away from them, hiding themselves between the plants. They were passing through a field of huge sunflowers when Octa suddenly stopped. Boreas stopped too.
"Octa, what's wrong?" he asked.
Octa smiled. "Nothing is wrong, my dear fellow. Much the opposite, as a matter of fact: I recognise this location."
"Recognise it?" Boreas asked non-understanding as they walked on to follow Black.
"Indeed. Together with my father, Lord Publius Cornelius. I was but a recently-hatched Snivy when he took my brother, my sisters, and myself on a journey through these fields. I shall never forget the view from the top of one of these sunflowers over the sunlit fields... 'Tis a pity it rains like this, for the view is quite splendid when the weather is clear and the day luminous."
Boreas imagined Octa as a cute young Snivy climbing into one of these sunflowers and giggled. "You mean you really climbed into one of those sunflowers?"
Octa nodded and smiled wistfully. "Indeed. 'Tis too bad those flowers shan't hold my weight any more if I were to try it again..."
Boreas thought the idea of his pompous friend climbing a sunflower was hilarious, so he decided he was going to try to convince him do it. It wouldn't be very hard to convince him, judging by the nostalgia in Octa's voice. "I'm not so sure of that. Look at these flowers, they're huge and strong. And you're pretty slender and light. They could probably support you."
Octa smiled with childlike glee and seemed ready to climb a flower, but then he suppressed his smile. "I... I don't think it could hold me."
"Don't worry, some of these flowers are big enough to be called trees. If they can hold themselves up, surely they can hold you."
"They could not be called trees, no matter how pantagruelian, for their stems are herbaceous and do not contain any lignin."
"Right, but either way, they could probably support your weight."
"Wwwell..." Octa seemed almost unable to resist the temptation. "I don't think I should. It would not be very proper."
"Oh, c'mon. What's the harm of a little bit of light-hearted fun? It'll be just like when you were young."
"I..." a determined grin entered Octa's face. "Oh, sod it, I'm going to climb that flower!"
Boreas chuckled as Octa began climbing a sunflower, using the leaves as footholds. The stem was indeed strong enough to support him at first, but bent as he climbed higher. Boreas held the stem to help support it, and soon Octa reached the flower. Black and all his pokémon looked on in disbelief as Octa laughed happily while he looked out from the flower. Then the stem cracked and he fell onto the ground.
"What on Earth got into you, Octa?" Black asked.
"I was merely scouting ahead," Octa explained blushing.
As they all walked on, Octa started walking next to Boreas again. "Well, wasn't that fun?" Boreas asked.
"Hmm, yes, quite," said Octa as he brushed the mud off himself. "'Twas most certainly an interesting flashback to my early childhood. Though the weather is far less aestival than it was last time, and the flora seems smaller than it seemed then."
"So, if your father took you here when you were young, you must've been born near," Boreas wondered.
"Crimson breeders is indeed located on Route 7, and with it of course my ancestral home. Though 'tis not quite proximal to our current location, for 'tis still several days of travel away."
"You must be excited to get back home! I mean, you haven't been there in more than a year."
"Indeed, my dear fellow, I am rather looking forward to a reunion with my family and shall endeavour to visit as we pass by."
"I'm looking forward to it too. You talk about your family so much; it'll be fun meeting them at last."
"You... want to meet them too?" Octa asked with concern.
"Well, yeah. I mean, if we're going there I'd love to meet them."
"Hmm," Octa pondered. "I suppose you could all meet my family... Though I'd have to teach you the proper etiquette first... Hmm, come to think of it, I don't think you could do it."
"Of course I could! I'll be all proper and all that."
"I wasn't just talking about you, though it does concern me that your rapid temper might cause you to forget proper etiquette. Think about the others: Lucius would likely deliberately offend my family merely for the fun of it. Selene just shan't understand. Toxica..." his voice trailed off.
"I'm sure they'd do much better than you think. Especially Toxica, if you tell her the etiquette you want her to follow, I'm sure she'll do so precisely."
"Well... Yes... But... There might be other problems. Though I suppose I could give you a chance... Fortunately it won't be a direct issue for several days."
As they walked, they heard the rustling sounds of pokémon in the grass to their left. Usually those sounds would quickly disappear as the pokémon scurried off, but this time the pokémon kept close for quite a while. Black suddenly seemed to realise this and the fact that his team now had only five pokémon, as he hushed his pokémon, grabbed a pokéball, and started sneaking to the sounds, ordering his pokémon with gestures.
Boreas sneaked through the grass, approaching the rustling sound. He could see it now vaguely through the grass, quite big and dark. He parted the grass and yelped in surprise when he saw a large, bipedal black fox with long black and crimson hair. He recognised the shoulder tufts pointing up like spikes and the dark purple eyes flaring with malice immediately.
"You!" he exclaimed.
"You!" Diego exclaimed as he immediately jumped into a defensive stance. Boreas now saw the rest of N's team too. Anger, adoration, embarrassment, hate, love, contempt, sorrow, and loads of other emotions all fought to be first as he saw Aqua. Her face tried on several different expressions for a moment, then settled on cold contempt.
"What's going on?" Black asked as he emerged from the grasses. "Oh, it's you."
"Uh," spoke N, "hi."
They sort of stood there, not sure what to do. Boreas and Diego both waited for the other to attack, but relaxed a bit when he didn't do that. Aqua was looking somewhere else, pretending she didn't see Boreas. But then Diego shot her a glance that made Boreas shiver: he looked almost hungry as he looked at her.
"I..." said N, "I guess we'll be going on. We'll see you later."
With a sneering smile, Diego turned and followed N. But Boreas was too busy struggling with the flood of emotions that Aqua unleashed in him to even bother thinking about fighting his nemesis. Aqua was following N, still not giving Boreas a single look. Part of him wanted to do the same, part of him wanted to apologise deeply to her, part of her wanted to kill her, part of her just wanted to look at her as she walked by, and all these parts tried to make their preferred course of action happen.
"Wait!" Boreas blurted out. N and his pokémon stopped and looked at him in surprise, including Aqua, though she quickly turned her gaze away to look at a raindrop dripping from a strand of grass.
Boreas was quite aware he was expected to say or do something now, but he couldn't get himself to say more. N shrugged and was about to walk off when Boreas managed to say something else. "Aqua, can I talk to you in private?"
It took her a while to answer. She opened her mouth several times, then retracted her answer and closed it. She almost turned to look at Boreas, but eventually she softly said: "No."
Several emotions struggled for power as she turned away and began walking off morosely. But he felt he really needed to apologise and didn't care that everyone would hear it. "I'm sorry, Aqua. I'm so sorry!" Aqua stopped and looked at him. "The things I said and did were unforgivable. I don't agree with your choice at all, but I should've been supportive of it. After what we had together it was wrong of me to treat you like that. I was just... I was crushed by Capella's death three days earlier. I... My life for those three days had been a pitch-black cave of despair, and the thought that I would be reunited with you was the only light in my life... When you showed up with them, I-I- my emotions just went berserk... I-I tried to control it, b-but" tears where streaming over Boreas' cheeks now, "I-I couldn't. The things I said and did to you... Th-that was the worst day of my life, Aqua, worse than the day my family died or even the day Capella died... I behaved profoundly horrible to you, the most wonderful person I know, and I tried to kill you. It's unforgivable, and I just want you to know how sorry I am for it, even if you can't forgive me and never want to see me again."
Only the sound of the rain was audible for a while, but Aqua looked Boreas straight in the eyes. He could see a great sadness in there, and she was crying too. Finally she spoke, her voice trembling. "Y-you're right, Boreas. What you did was indeed unforgivable. I-I want to forgive you, because I really believe you're sorry, but I just can't... I keep hearing the horrible things you said... But you're not the only one to apologise. It was my own fault too... I should've been more considerate of your feelings. Joining N, right though that choice was, without even considering your feelings was very bad of me. I should've realised how it must feel like high treason after all Team Plasma has put you through... Maybe it was high treason... I-I am sorry for it. And for the things I said and did too... I tried to keep calm, but you just... Infuriated me beyond control. I said some very hurtful things to you, things I should never have said. I-I don't believe for even a second that you really are only interested in my looks, for instance. I-I just didn't have my anger under control... Like you... Turning to Team Plasma was horribly inconsiderate of me... All this is my fault, and I-I wish you can forgive me for it, but I don't even think I can forgive myself..."
Boreas felt very moved by her heartfelt apology, but part of him kept seeing her as a traitor and an accessory to Capella's death. "I'm sorry, Aqua... But I don't think I can forgive you... Though I will try..."
Aqua nodded, crying. "I try to forgive you too, but it's so hard... Even if it's ultimately my fault."
"No, it isn't! Well, I guess it is... But it's more my fault for overreacting so horribly. I should just forgive you..."
"We'll both try forgiving each other," said Aqua, "because the days I spent with you in Driftveil were the happiest of my life..."
Boreas sighed. "Mine too, mine too... Things were so amazing then, just you and me and nothing else..."
It was silent for about a minute as they reminisced. "So..." Boreas asked, dreading the answer, "what happens next? With us, I mean..."
Another long silence fell. Then Aqua said: "Well, I think I can see two possibilities. The first is that we don't forgive each other and carry on as we have for the past month: enemies. We try not to be as hateful of each other as we were, but... No "us" of any kind."
"No..." Boreas said breathlessly, "please... I don't want that..."
"Neither do I. It might be the easiest option, but I want to avoid that no matter what. I have a second idea, though. We try to forgive each other and part as friends. We carry on on our respective sides, but we avoid directly fighting each other at all cost and try to remain friends no matter what. And after all this is over and one side has won... Maybe then there can be an "us" again, but until then we'll always have Driftveil..."
Boreas nodded. "I like that better," he said. "But I have an even better idea."
"What is it? What happens?"
"I don't know," Boreas stated as he walked closer to Aqua. "I haven't the faintest idea what happens, all I know is that it starts with you and me walking off together. After that, who knows?"
Aqua raised her eyebrows. "What, now?"
"When else?" Boreas smiled.
"So by this idea, we would have no plan, no idea of what will happen. It's just an uncertain gamble into a chaotic future. I love it, let's go!"
They began running off together through the grass, ignoring those they left behind and most of their questions. But Boreas felt he at least owed Octa, who was trying to keep up with them and threw a question after them: "My dear fellow, where are you going?"
"I don't know!" Boreas laughed.
"Well, when will you be back? Will you be back?"
"I don't know!" Boreas stated. "We'll see what happens later."
"But how will you find us again if you wish to return?" Octa asked with concern.
"Don't worry, Octa,"said Aqua. "A captured pokémon wouldn't know this, but humans are really easy to find in the wild, even at great distances. The noise and smell they carry with them makes them very easy to find. We can find Black back, don't worry."
The sounds of Octa's pursuit fell behind. "Goodbye then, my dear fellow!"
They stopped running after a while and just walked together, unsure of what to say to each other. They walked through the tall plants and pouring rain in awkward silence. They weren't sure how to behave to each other, as each still harboured a powerful core of hate, yet wanted to forgive the other and kiss them more than anything. Suddenly a bolt of lightning provided an entry into a conversation about the weather, a nice and safe subject neither of them had put much emotional stock in. The conversation gradually eased up as they both felt more and more at ease with each other. Talking to Aqua like this was like a breath of fresh air after spending several minutes under water to Boreas. He had forgotten how much fun it was to talk to Aqua, and for now he had completely forgotten his spiteful anger towards her. They laughed and had fun together as they talked about absolutely nothing. Boreas was getting completely immersed in the amazing company. He had to restrain himself not to stare deep into her pretty black eyes, or give her hips more than the occasional glance, or intricately look at the way her muscles moved under her gleaming blue fur as she walked.
Aqua sighed. "It's so nice to talk with you like this again... I had more or less forgotten what it feels like to simply be with you..."
A shiver of pleasure shot up Boreas' spine as their tails briefly brushed against each other. The momentary physical contact made him realise just how much he was in love with her again. "Yeah..." he sighed, "I can't believe I jeopardised this just out of stupid anger... I was being such an arse."
"No," said Aqua, who corrected herself: "Well, yes. But it was largely my fault. I was being very selfish and inconsiderate. And there was Capella's death, I'm sure you would've been much more understanding if she hadn't become a casualty..."
The horrifying image of Capella's mangled body exhaling her last breath as she lay in his arms with no more skin on her skull hit him again like a heavy mallet crashing into his heart. Tears shot into his eyes and he could barely continue walking. His former hate against Aqua came back in force, much though he tried to tell himself that she'd had nothing to do with it.
"What's wrong, Boreas?" Aqua asked with concern, and Boreas saw her approach him through a veil of tears.
"Nothing, stay away from me!" He said with spiteful sharpness.
"I'm sorry," Aqua spoke sadly, "I shouldn't have brought Capella up... I know she meant much to you, and I would've done anything to save her if I could've..." Suddenly she embraced Boreas. He struggled for a moment, still irrationally angry at her, but then relished in the contact with her soft body and cried on her shoulder.
"I-I'm sorry, I shouldn't have got angry at you again... I-I saw her death before me again, Aqua... She died in my arms after saving my life..."
"Did she?" Aqua whispered in his ear as she rubbed his back. "I didn't know that..."
"W-we were fighting Sage Ryoku's Lilligant together, when his Tangrowth suddenly picked us both up by our tails... I tried to Ice Beam it, but it was still smouldering with Lucius' flames and my ice only brought it relief... Then that bastard ordered his Cradily to Hyper Beam us both... Capella and I looked each other in the eyes, and as I saw her smile and the fatality in her eyes, I knew what she would do... That look on her face... She knew exactly what would happen, yet she so bravely did it to save me. I tried to tell her to save herself, but she'd already spit flames at the vine holding me... She-she tried to save herself next, but she was too late: I only saw a blinding light with her as a smoke-like wisp in it and felt a searing pain as the tip of my tail was caught in the beam and annihilated... I thought she'd been vaporised, but it was much worse: the Hyper Beam blasted most of her flesh off her front side. But her backside was turned away from the beam and more or less alright, so when she landed next to me with that side to me I thought she was alright and I hugged her... And then I saw her... The image will never leave my mind, Aqua. Most of her flesh had been blasted away; I c-could see what was left of her organs and saw her skull instead of her face... But she was still alive. Her badly damaged heart beat a few more times and her one remaining lung drew one final breath before she died... I tried to tell her to evolve, but... Well... Sh-she died there in my arms..."
"Oh, my poor, poor Boreas..." Aqua whispered breathlessly in his ear as she softly nuzzled his hair and rubbed his back to comfort him.
Boreas kept shedding his tears on her shoulder. Feeling the pain of Capella's death again was crushing, but sharing it with Aqua like this was strangely liberating. He hadn't told anyone about what had precisely happened more than a month ago, as fact that she was dead mattered more to the rest of the team than the precise details, and it was far too painful to hear for them. He lay on the ground, shaking with tears in Aqua's embrace, but slowly calmed down.
"Thank you..." he said, "I've had no chance to tell anyone yet and you don't know how much that helped..."
"I think I do, actually," Aqua whispered back. "You did the same for me when I told you about Lothario's death..."
Now he remembered. "Oh yeah... I did... Wow, that was ages ago."
"Less than two months actually, my love. We only met each other two months ago to the day."
"It feels like a lifetime," said Boreas. "I wonder how much different my life would've been if I hadn't jumped out of the boat to go talk to a certain gorgeous Vaporeon."
Aqua giggled. "Not that different. I was quite interested in you too, remember, and would probably have followed you to talk to you if you hadn't come to me. I mean, I was very lonely at the time and longed for someone to talk to. Besides, you looked quite attractive and fun to talk to, my clever, heroic, handsome Boreas..."
Boreas sneered. "You can leave the 'handsome' out of there. I don't imagine I look too handsome with the tip of my tail missing and a bloody great scar on my face."
Aqua brought her face in front of his. "The bit out of the tail is a shame, but it doesn't change anything about how much I like you. And as for the scar..." She began tracing it with her front paw. Boreas was even more aware than before of how close she was holding him, their bodies pressed close against each other. "I like it. It looks pretty good on you, actually. A clearly visible memory of great heroics in battle. It makes you look..." She was now talking with her face barely ten centimetres away from his, giving him looks that made his blood boil. Her tongue seemed to beckon him as she talked. "Dangerous. Rakish. Who knows what could happen to me while someone with a scar like that is holding me?"
"What indeed?" Boreas whispered as their lips softly touched each other. The feeling of the kiss was intense and overpoweringly wonderful, and they immediately wrapped all four legs and their tails tightly around each other as they kissed passionately, never wishing it to end.
Them being together again. It was really heartwarming. <3
All in all, a very nice re-read.
A bit short for me, but the emotion of this chapter was very satisfying.
Thanks and keep at it~!
Chapter Forty-Five: The Ancient and Most Noble House of Equinox
Octa was looking cheerful for the first time in days. He had been gloomy and depressed ever since Boreas had left without saying whether he'd ever come back. Toxica had tried to cheer him up and make up for the leaving of his best friend by spending a lot of time with him and talking to him a lot, but it seemed she just wasn't a replacement for Boreas. Octa remained gloomy, though she could understand why: she missed Boreas too and hoped he'd come back soon.
But when Black had seen the road to Crimson breeders and told his pokémon he'd see if they could rest there for the night, Octa's mood had changed radically. The prospect of getting to meet his family again for the first time in a year clearly brightened his mood. He was chatting amicably with Toxica when a Servine jumped out of the bushes they'd passed by, Leaf Blade drawn.
“Halt, miscreants! How dare you intrude upon land possessed by the most noble house of Equinox?!”
Toxica yelped in fear and surprise. Lucius growled threateningly, while Selene on his shoulder was clearly more interested in one of the moons in the sky. Black hadn't noticed the Servine, though, as he was a bit ahead. Octa drew his own Leaf Blade and crossed it with the other Servine's. “Ha, miscreants?!” he replied in grandiose voice, “you shall pay for that, you surreptitious serpent! You're naught but a petty bandit, attacking weary travellers like us!”
The attacker trusted forward, but Octa dodged the blade with an elegant twist that made Toxica's heart do little jumps in her chest. Octa, using his opponent's temporary disorientation, trusted his own blade to his enemy's abdomen, only to have it parried swiftly. “How dare you, sir,” the opponent asked, “to insult a Servine of noble blood by referring to him as a bandit! Forsooth, I shall have you know I have cut men to pieces for insults less than that.”
Octa parried his strike and immediately reposed with a swift flash of his own blade, giving the other Servine a shallow cut. On the arm. Octa grinned. “My little sister is quicker with the blade than you, sir.”
The other Servine grinned too. “Of course she is, she's faster than anyone in the family.” Both sheeted their swords and suddenly hugged each other. “Octa, it's jolly amazing to see you again!”
Toxica looked at their hug, dumbstruck with surprise. “Marcus, how I've missed you!” Octa laughed.
“What the hell's going on?” Lucius asked with annoyance.
Octa disengaged from his hug with the other Servine. “Marcus, let me introduce you to my companions. These are Toxica, Selene, and Lucius. There's also Black, our trainer, who I believe hasn't noticed you holding us up yet, and Boreas, a Glaceon who is not with us at the moment. My friends and Lucius, this is my brother, Marcus Aurelius the second of the house of Equinox.”
“Good morrow,” Marcus greeted each of them. Now that Toxica looked at him, he did look remarkably similar to Octa, but his face was broader, his voice higher in pitch, and he had light blue eyes rather than Octa's camel brown eyes. Though Toxica found him less handsome than Octa, he was still considerably attractive to her and she found herself worrying whether her flower still looked good after its recovery from the cuts it had received in battle against Ryoku.
Toxica extended her hand. “Hi. Fancy meeting Octa's brother.”
To her surprise Marcus didn't just shake her hand, but he knelt and kissed it. “A pleasure to meet you, milady Toxica. I invite you, as well as your friends, to join us in our ancestral home.”
Toxica felt like her brain was boiling and her heart trying to jump out of her mouth. She stammered incoherently for a bit as Octa's almost equally handsome brother got up and released her hand. “You only mentioned your friends' first names, Octa, what are their houses?”
“I'm afraid they do not belong to any houses,” Octa grinned apologetically.
“Commoners? Oh dear. Great-aunt Galaxia shan't like that, you know.”
“I know, I was considering inventing some houses for them to silence her potential misgivings.”
“Heh, don't bother. The old hag knows every house, even of different species of pokémon, and shall see through your lies at once.”
Octa's brow furrowed. “My dear brother, our great-aunt may not be the most pleasant creature on the planet, but that is no reason to talk about her like that.”
“My apologies. 'Tis easy to speak ill of another if said person thoroughly irritated one that very morning.”
Octa nodded. “Fine, I accept your apology. Now let us go on, Black is probably quite a way ahead already and might start worrying about us.”
Toxica had never before seen pokémon live in a home that was larger, richer, and more decorated than their human owners'. Crimson breeders' central house, where the owners lived, was a rather plain wooden building with a permanently dirty floor and few, and pastoral, decorations inside. It had a pleasant charm about it that made you think a pleasant little houses in the mountains, but Octa's ancestral house was by comparison a palace. It was much larger, made mostly of stone, even of marble and granite in places. Its high, arched entrance was supported by lavish columns and statues of various Snivies, Servines, and Serperiors. After welcoming them into their house, Octa reunited with various members of his family, all at least as graceful and elegant as him, with oddly ritualised yet affectionate greetings. Then Octa introduced them all to his family one by one, and soon Toxica was struggling to remember the loads and loads of different forms of courtesy and address Octa and Marcus had quickly run her though as they walked the final bit to their home...
“Address everyone except my father and me as “sir” or “milady”. Address my father as “Lord Publius Cornelius”. As my friend, there is no need to address me as “sir”.”
“Unless Great-Aunt Galaxia is in the room.”
“Indeed. Don't speak unless spoken to to any of my family members. If you need to ask anything of them, ask me instead.”
“Unless Great-Aunt Galaxia is in the room, in which case, don't ask it at all.”
“Indeed. When encountering a member of my family, bow deferentially to them. Never touch anyone, nor make eye contact with them. Treat every member of the family, including myself, with the highest respect and as an utter superior.”
“Especially when Great-Aunt Galaxia is in the room.”
“Indeed. This also includes Marcus here. Though he is not currently standing on ceremony, I want you to treat him properly too when we are in my ancestral home, for he is of the house of Equinox as well.”
“Especially when Great-Aunt Galaxia is in the room.”
“Indeed. At dinner, use the cutlery provided to you properly; fork in your left hand, front paw, or wing; knife in your right. Only use a spoon for food it's specifically meant for, use a knife otherwise. Never speak with food or drink in your mouth, even when spoken to, and observe the proper ways to eat from me. Don't ask for a second plate or a refill unless asked. Don't spill food or drink, don't make digestive noises.”
“Will you please stop saying that? I believe the message is quite clear. Now, my great-aunt Galaxia can be rather troublesome. Her beliefs with regard to class are rather outdated, therefore she shall look onto you as servants as best. Be extra deferential and proper around her, and obey her every command. When inside, you can still treat me as a friend, but be more deferential. You can use the nickname 'Octa' when addressing me, but not when Great-Aunt Galaxia is in the room; use my full name or call me “sir” if she is.”
Toxica tried to remember the names of everyone she bowed to greet, but the long names featuring lots of c's, q's, and x'es quickly became one blur in her mind, especially since they were all the same species and had the same haughty bearing. She recognised many of Octa's features in his family, ranging from his face to his voice and mannerisms. After the introductions, Toxica found herself admitted into the house, and quite unsure of what to do. Almost two dozen Snivies, Servines, and Serperiors were home at the moment, and all of them wanted to speak to Octa and considered her and the others as if they were his pets at best. Since Lucius was a jerk and she didn't feel like dealing with Selene's particular brand of insanity right now, she pretty much sat on a chair clearly not meant for her species in a corner and just listened to Octa retell his adventures to his family. She really wished Boreas was here now, because though he could be quite annoying and she didn't get much time to talk to Octa with him around, he was also a pretty nice and funny person, and much more on her level than Lucius or Toxica, or even Octa, was. If Boreas was here, she thought, he'd probably be whispering some witty remarks now to make her giggle.
As Octa told his tale to his family, she looked around the room. It was lavishly, though not quite baroquely, decorated with loads of statues and paintings and beautiful marble. Most of the art depicted what clearly were members of the House of Equinox, recognisable by their pentafurcated tails and backleaves, curly collars, non-absent front legs, and faces similar to Octa's that seemed to be shared in the entire family, doing something heroic. A beautiful painting of Vigintus, Octa's ancestor who had belonged to Sir Edward Slateport, discovering Hoenn; the famous human sea captain himself only a minor detail in the painting's background, was especially drawing her attention. If Octa would look that amazing after evolving to a Serperior, she could barely wait.
It was a bit odd, now that she thought of it, that all Octa's family members seemed to have front legs even as Serperiors. She was pretty sure Serperiors normally had no legs at all, but Octa's family still had their front legs. Then again, she supposed it was quite useful as she looked at a painting of an ancestor wielding a Leaf Blade in one of them, duelling an evil-looking human wielding a metal blade. She remembered when she was an Oddish and had no front legs herself. While it never seemed that much of a problem at the time, having hands to do things with was a massive improvement and she couldn't even think how she would manage anything without them now.
She became aware of a piercing, withering stare fixated on her. An old Serperior, her tail and back-leaves curled and yellow with the autumn of age, was staring at her with a disgusted scowl that most people reserve for the insects you occasionally find instead of the nut when you open a pistachio. Though she had forgotten most of the names of Octa's family members, she did remember Great-Aunt Galaxia. She remembered what Octa and Marcus had said about her and resisted the urge to stare back or gesture to ask her what her problem was.
She tried to listen to Octa's stories or to marvel at the amazing room again, but Galaxia's stare was like two ice-cold daggers being stuck further and further into her flesh. Even cocking her head so that her flower covered her face didn't feel like it shielded her from that stare, perfected through dozens of generations. She knew Octa could stare like that too, but his stare was not nearly as piercing as Galaxia's. The house of Equinox had spent generations practising that stare to get fellow pokémon, and even their human trainers, to do whatever it was they needed, even at great personal risk, as long as it made them stop that stare. Even great men like Sir Edward Slateport had not been able to resist giving in to their companion's stare, and currently Toxica was having to fight her urge to listen to that stare and get out of the house to instead stay with the humans were Black was staying for the night. Her flower instinctively gave of pollen and a nasty smell and she sweated sap under that stare's pressure. She angrily decided to stare back, so she made eye-contact. It felt almost as if she was trying to win a staring contest against the Sun, except the discomfort was mental, not physical. Her eyes began watering and blinking within two seconds and she had to look away, completely unable to continue challenging Galaxia's stare.
She was about to give in and run away from the house when Octa, knowingly or not, saved her by talking specifically to Galaxia, forcing her attention away from Toxica. She breathed out, the stare's terrible pressure taking off her, and stooped a bit in the chair, delighted to be freed of it.
Toxica lay in the lavish bed she had been given for the night. The fact that this simple guest room was far more beautiful and richer than any other room she'd ever slept in was quite telling. The bed had a gilded frame with fake plants and even birds on it and the mattress was amazingly soft and warm. Several small artworks, mainly of family members as usual, were hung up on one wall, while the other three were covered in bookcases from floor to ceiling. It was amazing how many books were in this house; this was not at all the only room with walls fully covered in bookcases. Now at least she knew how Octa'd got his extensive knowledge of so many topics.
Things had actually gone surprisingly well. Though dinner began formal and Toxica had despaired thinking that no-one would say a word to her, her neighbours soon loosened up. She had got into a conversation with Octa's mother Claudia, his sister Livia, and their uncle Brittanicus. He was not technically Octa's uncle, he explained, but the husband of Octa's actual uncle, who had died several years earlier while exploring Mt. Silver's deep caverns with his trainer, and the family had since treated Brittanicus as their own son. His mother was a friendly, though slightly condescending Serperior named Claudia Marcella, and had come from a different family of Serperiors before being betrothed to Lord Publius Cornelius. Octa's sister Livia's wit was even sharper than her brother's, and she made several jokes that made Toxica giggle uncontrollably and Claudia frown and stare at her daughter.
Apparently, Team Plasma had even attacked Crimson breeders while Octa was gone, stating that their breeding of pokémon and selling them like inanimate objects was unethical. The entire family Equinox had helped their breeders defend against the attackers, fortunately without suffering any casualties. After some encouragement by Livia, Brittanicus had quite an amazing story to tell of his role in the battle, as he had led several pokémon in a flanking manoeuvre that had practically been the only reason they had won the battle at all, especially without casualties. Livia assured Toxica Brittanicus had still been very modest and downplayed the whole matter.
All in all, they made surprisingly good conversational partners, and Livia had even shown her around the mansion after dinner. The room that made the greatest impression on Toxica was a big room where an extensive family tree was beautifully painted on the walls. The intricate, green and purple tree wasn't oriented vertically as Toxica would've expected, but horizontally, from left to right; wrapping around two corners and making it almost halfway around the room before ending. It was a good thing it was drawn this way, as there would never have been enough room for the entire family if it had been a vertical tree. It was impressively detailed, showing all thirty-five generations of Octa's family, starting at the right of the door with Equinox I and his five children and running intricately through every generation before ending almost opposite the door with Octa, Livia, Marcus, and their brother Gaius, who wasn't at home, as well as a whole lot of cousins. Every generation except the current one had a small portrait of them painted by their name. Livia explained that this was because they hadn't evolved to Serperiors yet, so their portraits would be made later when they did. Toxica remembered quite a few of the names in the tree from Octa's stories, and Livia soon showed herself to be of the same stock as she began telling about various ancestors as well. Toxica had repaid her kindness by telling her about the adventures she'd had with Octa.
Now she lay in the bed comfortably, though it was clearly not meant for a Vileplume. It was far longer than wide, of course, to let a serpentine Serperior sleep on it comfortably, and even folded up her flower still made a bulge that the bed clearly wasn't designed to accommodate. But it could be much worse, she reflected, as the bed's softness didn't make it much of a problem. Before falling asleep, she shuddered again as she remembered Galaxia's powerful stare.
Since Black wasn't planning to leave until the afternoon, Toxica spent most of the morning with Livia, her new friend. Apparently breakfast was the only meal of the day not taken together, so Toxica just had a casual breakfast with Octa and his sister. They were soon cheerfully laughing about various stories the siblings had to tell about each other.
“...And seeing all those Leppas hanging off the tree's lowest branches, Octa and I somehow got the idea of a Leppa fight, throwing them at each other from a distance. So then I took an amazing, bright-scarlet Leppa, tossed it right at Octa, who was distracted by a Butterfree flying over...”
Octa winced at the memory. “It hit me right in the side of the head; it was incredibly hard. Honestly, my dear sister, you must have fired that apple out of a cannon instead of throwing it, for I can distinctly remember the impact nearly cracking my six-week-old skull.”
Livia and Toxica laughed, while Octa tried to hide his own laughter. “Well, you weren't quite so verbose in your reaction back then,” Livia giggled. “It was more like an indistinct scream of rage and pain as you ran at me, wielding that same Leppa like an axe.”
Octa blushed with embarrassment. “Well, I was only six weeks old, and my little harpy of a sister had just given me the worst pain I'd felt yet in my brief life...”
“Anyway, he couldn't catch up to me as I ran off, still holding a few Leppas, so he soon turned around angrily and returned to the mansion, when I felt one of the apples I was holding to be very soft, and decided to throw it at him as a teasing gesture of good-will...”
Octa winced even more. “The horribly spoilt thing exploded as it hit the back of my head, showering me in liquid rotten Leppa gone softer than a Tamato.”
Livia laughed. “Hey, at least that one didn't hurt you.”
“Not physically, no,” Octa spoke. “I still have deep emotional scarring related to spoilt Leppa dripping down my neck.”
After breakfast Toxica spent some time with Octa and Livia, before there mother Claudia surprised her by taking her apart. “You are attracted to my son,” she stated, surprising Toxica.
Her first thought was to deny it, but she knew there was little point. It had not been a question, but a statement, so Claudia had clearly seen it, and lying would only insult her. “Um. Well, yes... A bit, milady...”
“More than a bit. You quite obviously very smitten by him; 'tis hard to miss.”
“Oh. Am I that transparent, milady?”
“Quite, yes. Has Octa ever talked to you about this matter?”
“Well... No. I've never really admitted it to him...”
“That's strange. This should be as easy to recognise to him as 'tis to me, so he should have told you to avoid damaging your feelings over the long run.”
“Tell me what?” Toxica asked with a growing sense of dread.
“That it is impossible for him to reciprocate your feelings, even if he did feel the same way for you. Our family is kept pure-blooded and noble, so that our descendants can claim the same birth that we can. He shan't choose a Vileplume without a house as his mate, for he shall choose the mate his family, ergo us, choose for him.”
Toxica felt crushed.
“I understand this sounds harsh and cruel to you now, but 'tis far more cruel to rob his descendants of their nobility. Octa knows this and shall never allow himself to fraternise with anyone we do not pick as his mate. It has been our way for thirty-five generations, and so it shall be for hundreds more. I am surprised he never told you this to spare your feelings...”
“B-but...” Toxica stammered. “What about your husband's brother, milady? I mean, surely the family can't have chosen Brittanicus as his mate, 'cause they can't have kids together for obvious reasons...”
“Ah, but my husband made a big exception in the case of his brother Tiberius. You see, first of all, Tiberius had done his duty to the family already, choosing the mate chosen for him and procreating with her, despite not being attracted to females. When she and my husband's father died shortly after each other, the family, after much insistence of my husband, it's new leader, decided to choose Brittanicus, whom my brother had always loved, as my brother's second mate as a service to him. However, Tiberius' duty to the family had already been done, and there was no risk of contaminating the bloodline from the union with Brittanicus. Aside from the most obvious reason, Brittanicus is also a Serperior of noble blood himself. I'm afraid that even if you were to wait for Octa's mate to die, you could never be chosen as his second mate, for a union with you would risk contaminating the bloodline with your lower-class and Vileplume blood. I apologise, but 'tis our way. And I also apologise for my son's behaviour, not telling you this sooner, when you would not have wasted so much emotion on him.”
Toxica's eyes filled with tears. Claudia was right: the arranged mating of Octa's family might be cruel, but for him not to tell her anything about it was even worse. She had spent a whole year fawning over him, thinking she had a chance. Claudia talked on, trying to give her some solace, but Toxica didn't listen and could only think about Octa. He was a cold-hearted, haughty, overly arrogant bastard, she thought. A miserable upper-class twit, and if he'd told her about this she wouldn't have wasted so many emotions for such a long time on him.
Oh my... I don't like that stare... o.o
I feel really bad for Toxica... =(
Anyway, it was a great re-read.
A bit weird since Boreas wasn't on this chapter when I first read it, but it was still good. Would have been more fun if you included what Lucius and Selene were up to. xD
Anyway, keei it up~!
Chapter Forty-Six: Celestial Tower Skirmish
A week after their stay with Octa's family, Toxica had still barely spoken a word to the Servine. He had not simply broken her heart; he had shattered it and jumped on the remains. If he had simply broken her heart, it would've been so much better. The sadness and rage she felt reminded her of the meltdown between Boreas and Aqua in Chargestone Cave. At least those two had made up a month later and were probably having some how's your father together right now, Toxica thought bitterly and enviously. They had had it so easy with their love-life, barely facing any difficulties at all, while she had fallen in love with some stupid dental from a family on an incredibly high Rapidash. She hadn't told Octa that his mother had told her about his family's ridiculous habits yet, figuring he'd infer it from her behaviour. Surely her anger was unmistakable? She had even tried giving him the same stare Galaxia had subjected her to, but it didn't have remotely the same kind of effect without thirty-three generations of practise backing you up. Yet, despite all her obvious signs of anger and broken heartedness, he hadn't even asked her what was wrong. This made her feel even more furious and sad, especially since she had no-one to share her troubles with. She wished Capella wasn't dead, or at least that Boreas wasn't off fooling around with Aqua.
The grasslands were now lower than they were on the southern parts of the route, allowing Toxica to see her surroundings. The White Mountains, which she knew they'd have to climb to get to Icirrus, were visible on the horizon; very small and blue with distance. A tall white tower was also visible, much closer than the mountains. The plains they were now on would soon pass into a thick conifer forest growing on the White Mountains' foothills, by the looks of it.
At some point they noticed some humans grouped together in the plain to their left. Curious, Black went to them to see what was going on and found Skyla among them, talking to the other humans.
“Skyla!” Black greeted her happily, “what are you doing here?”
Skyla turned around in surprise. “Oh, hi, Black! I guess it's a small world after all, running into you like this! I flew here, because there's a problem in Celestial Tower.”
“Then it's a good thing I came by, I'll help you solve it,” Black boasted.
“Hmm, I could use some help. Are you afraid of ghosts?”
“Me? Afraid? I don't know the meaning of the word.”
“It's a strong, unpleasant emotion caused by the perception of danger,” explained Selene.
“It's a metaphor, featherhead!” snarled Lucius.
“Nah,” said Selene, “it's an emotion.”
As Lucius and Selene bantered, Toxica realised she was afraid of ghosts. She had never met one, but the idea of a malicious gaseous lifeform which lives in the dark and loves being around graves terrified her. Not to mention the many legends about them actually being dead people or stealing your soul... Toxica looked around to see if the others felt the same way as her, but they didn't seem too worried. Lucius and Selene had it easy of course, being dark-types. But Octa wasn't worried either. Admiration for his bravery and fury at his eternal cold, emotionless state both clouded Toxica's mind.
She tried to shake her troubled emotions off to listen to Skyla's problem. Apparently Celestial Tower was the large white tower. It was a burial ground, so naturally it was home to some ghost-types, but since yesterday they were much more numerous and powerful than normal, and had attacked the people manning the tower and taken over the village around it, chasing the villagers away.
“...So the villagers called in the help of me and Brycen, as Gym Leaders of the closest cities, and here we are,” Skyla finished her explanation.
“Brycen?” asked Black.
“Oh, he's just here, finding more information from the villagers. Brycen! Where are you?! Brycen?!”
“Here,” spoke a masked man in bizarre clothes who stepped out of the crowd. He wore a sort of woolly blue toga over a tunic.
“Woah, you startled me!” said Skyla. “You're so quiet, sneaking up on me like that. Anyway, this is Black, a trainer who defeated me and offered to help us. Black, this is Brycen, Icirrus' Gym Leader.”
Black greeted Brycen and extended his hand, but the older man simply nodded curtly without saying a word or shaking Black's hand. “Let's go,” he simply said, and led the way to the tower.
“Was it something I said?” Toxica heard Black whisper to Skyla as they followed Brycen.
“Don't worry, he's not upset, he's always like that. He just doesn't like to use many words.”
The village around the tower was deserted and empty, their footfalls the only sound in the vicinity. The tower itself looked scary and threatening as it loomed over the village. Usually a human settlement had at least some wild pokémon in it, attracted to the humans' food, but this village was abandoned by even them. Toxica's entire instinct told her to run away from this place, and especially from the threatening white tower. Somehow it was even scarier because it was white than if it had been black. Maybe it was because, though Toxica mainly lived by day and slept by night, her species was naturally nocturnal. But there was something else about it, she thought. Something about the unforgiving, plain white that looked hard and unpleasant.
Toxica would've fled, but the three humans and their other pokémon were walking so purposefully and undaunted, that Toxica had no choice but to follow, albeit a bit behind them and rather uncertainly. Normally she would probably have gone to Octa and talked to him for a dosis of his reassuring logic and bravery in a situation like this, but she definitely wasn't going to do that now.
“It'll be best if we attack the ghosts from two sides,” Skyla whispered, “that way we have effectively surrounded them. I'll fly to the top and work my way down while you two work your way up from the normal entrance.”
“Yes,” said Brycen.
Black looked from Brycen to Skyla with a disappointed look on his face. “Uh... Wouldn't it be handier if I went with you, Skyla? I mean, Brycen here clearly can take care of matters on his own,” he hopefully said.
“Maybe,” said Skyla with a grin, “but how would you fly up there?”
Black looked at his pokémon one by one, clearly disappointed to find only Selene could fly, that she was only fifty centimetres, and her feathers looked so ruffled it was a surprise she could keep herself flying anyway, let alone carry an adult human as well. “Uh... Maybe Selene could fly me?”
Skyla smiled pityingly, climbed on her Swanna's back, and flew away to the tower's top.
Black looked disappointed. “Well, I guess it's just you and me then, huh Brycen? Brycen?”
Without saying a word, Brycen was already walking to the tower, releasing ice-types as he walked. “Oh, great,” mumbled Black, “Instead of going with Skyla and having a chance of her spontaneously hugging me in fear when a ghost pops up, I get to go with mr. Icebucket.”
Brycen's team consisted of Cryogonal, Vanilluxe, Glalie, Mamoswine, Beartic, and Glaceon. Toxica's eyes went wide in surprise at seeing a Glaceon, and her teammates had similar surprised reactions. Black caught up with Brycen. “Oh, you have a Glaceon as well?” he chatted. “I have one too, y'know. He's just not here right now.”
Brycen said nothing.
“So... uh... that's like, nice and all...” mumbled Black.
“Yes,” said Brycen.
Toxica did notice, though, that this Glaceon looked quite different from Boreas. The dark hair on her head was arranged in an odd hairstyle that resembled a crown of three diamonds or ice crystals, rather than Boreas' unruly mess of semi-long hair which mainly resembled a mop. For a moment she wondered if the difference might be because this Glaceon was a female, then she remembered Boreas had had hair like that too shortly after evolving before it had come undone. Perhaps this Glaceon was recently-evolved, or perhaps she had taken care to preserve that odd hairstyle, contrary to Boreas.
Toxica had no time to think about it, because following Brycen, they had entered the tower. While the deserted village was scary, the tower was even creepier; a terrifying atmosphere hung heavily in the greasy air. The fact that the tower was filled with gravestones made it even worse. Row after row of rectangular stones stood like giant stone teeth in the semi-darkness. A wide staircase made a half circle around the floor as it climbed to the next floor, high above. It was even more silent than the village, a terrifying deathly silent that seemed less like the absence of sound and more as if something was actively making negative sound to make it even more silent than silence itself. Toxica wanted nothing more than to run away screaming.
Brycen and his pokémon were already climbing the stairs. “Yeah, great idea now that you mention it,” Black sarcastically mumbled.
Toxica took a deep breath as they reached the second floor, which was even more full of graves. This time the stairs started on the other side of the hall, meaning they'd have to fully cross it. They began walking in a deathly silence.
“You know,” she heard Lucius' snide, Brooklyn-accented voice whisper, “apparently a Chandelure's flames burn up the soul, leaving the body behind as a soulless zombie...”
Toxica's eyes went wide with fear, and she felt tears stinging behind them. “Sh-shut up, that's not true!”
Lucius shrugged. “Hey, I'm just repeating something I heard, I don't know if it's true. And y'know, a Banette is a doll left behind and possessed by evil spirits, imbuing it with an insatiable wish to kill anything alive. Apparently. A Ghastly can spread itself invisibly through an entire building, get into your lungs, and then suffocate you at any time it likes. A Gengar is a dead Clefable, come back to this world to steal people's souls. A Yamask used to be human, and its mask is a cast of its face... When it gets really wistful, it'll look at it with a great sadness... And a great desire to do the same to others...”
Toxica couldn't hold back her tears of fear any more and began crying, though she knew that was exactly the effect Lucius was hoping for. “Stop it... Please...”
Lucius' grin only widened. “A Spiritomb was made from fusing 108 spirits together, and it's looking for a 109th to add to the collection. A Dusknoir-”
“Did you perchance not hear the lady?” Octa asked Lucius in stern tones. “Cease your efforts to frighten her at once, 'tis not a very comradely thing to do, is it?”
“Shut up, Octa,” Toxica barked, grateful for his help against Lucius but unwilling to admit it, “I don't need your help!”
“Oh dear,” said Octa with a sarcastic bow, “I do apologise for springing to your aid when you were about to burst into tears.”
“I don't need you, Octa!” Toxica hissed furiously, “What would I need you for?! You're nothing but an arrogant git with an insane family!”
“What is your problem?!” Octa hissed. “You have acted hostile and displeased all week! Is there any reason behind this uncivilised, hostile behaviour towards me, or do you merely enjoy acting like this?!”
“You know perfectly well what's wrong!”
“I do not! I am not telepathic, so how could I know the reason behind your hostile, intolerant behaviour?”
“Fine! Let me spell it out to you! You know who else is hostile and intolerant?! Your family!”
“Oh, what an absolutely brilliant comeback that is. Truly, Oscar Wilde would feel quite insignificant next to your wits.”
“It's not a comeback, you git! Your family prohibits you from foolin' around with anyone they don't choose! An' that means anyone who's not a Snivy an' anyone who's not of “noble blood”, because they think it'll make 'em less pure, an' that's the most insane idea ever!”
“Oh.” Octa looked down. “They... told you about that, then...”
“Yeah, your Mum did!”
“I... I can quite see how it would make you quite upset...”
“Quite upset?! You've been hiding that from me for a year, though you apparently knew I fancied you!”
“You made me waste so much feelings on you! If you had just told me when you first realised I fancied you, I'd have got pretty angry at such a stupid rule, but then I'd have moved on! Now I've been pinin' for you for ages!”
“No buts, I-” Suddenly Toxica realised she and Octa were alone on the floor. Except they weren't, as lots and lots of little flying purple candles with faces on them were surrounding them, and disembodied glowing eyes were behind them, staring maliciously. “Oh, bugger.”
Toxica woke up in a dark, rectangular hole. She started up, a terrible weakness inhibiting her every move. “Oh... What in the name of Darkrai's dandruff happened?”
Then she remembered the ghosts... And nothing after that. She looked around the pit she was in and saw a rectangular slab of stone stand at the head of it. “Oh no... No, please...” she gasped with dry throat, realising she was lying in a grave.
BUT YES, spoke a voice like slabs of lead falling onto the floor.
Toxica turned around with a shock and saw a robed skeleton. A single red light, like an eye, flashed inside the skull, alternating between the two eyesockets. “No... No... You-you're-”
YES, it spoke in a voice like an epitaph being hacked into a gravestone. I AM DEATH. THE GRIM REAPER. I HAVE COME TO TAKE YOU.
“Y-you can't!” Toxica squealed in terror. Her heart pounded loudly in her ears. “Yes, you really can't! My heart still beats! I'm alive!”
YOU WON'T BE FOR MUCH LONGER.
“Y-you won't kill me!”
INDEED. I WILL MERELY TAKE YOU TO THE OTHER SIDE. BUT THEY WILL KILL YOU.
A Chandelure, a Jellicent, a Cofagrigus, a Drifblim, and a Froslass floated over the grave Toxica was lying in, and a big circle of twenty-five Litwicks floated around them in a circle. Death grinned at the new arrivals. All spooky eyes were aimed at Toxica.
“Ah... An untarnished soul...” Chandelure spoke. “She will burn well...”
“Burn her!” the Litwicks sang, their voices perfectly synchronous and very high-pitched, like the highest tones on a small flute. “Incinerate her soul! Leave her body an empty, mindless shell!” they chanted.
The legends Lucius had recounted echoed through Toxica's mind. She was so drowned in terror that she couldn't even scream.
“No...” said the Jellicent, its pink mass floating above Toxica like a macrocephalic monstrosity. “Don't waste her soul by by burning it... I want to eat and digest it until nothing remains...”
“Eat her! Devour her soul!” the Litwicks chanted, flying in the circle faster and faster.
“I will take care of her...” said the Cofagrigus, with a voice like slime dripping out of a rotting coffin in a swamp, “...I will turn her into a mummy, the remains of her soul forever imprisoned in a rotting body, hungry for the flesh of the living...”
“A mummy!” the Litwicks chanted, “One of the walking dead forever, so shall her fate be!”
“No...” spoke the Drifblim, “give her to me and her soul will forever burn inside me, helping me float...”
“She will be fuel for an eternity!” the Litwicks chanted in their ultra-high voices, “Her soul helping Drifblim fight gravity!”
A long blade of ice appeared in Froslass' hands. “But first... Let me have a little fun with her... Let me cut a few petals, fingers and toes off... Or maybe her eyelids? Maybe her lips? So many possibilities for fun...”
“Pain her! Cut her!” The Litwicks chanted, floating in circles so fast their flames were beginning to look like a single blue circle of light. “Make her beg for her death before the end! Make her scream! Make her suffer! HAAAAAAAA!!!” They chanted a single, continuous note.
Toxica had been afraid before, but now her entire being was utter terror. To say she was afraid would be like saying there was water in the ocean. She couldn't move a muscle, could barely breathe or think, couldn't scream at all.
Death grinned, for as far as its skull didn't always grin. I WAS MISTAKEN. YOUR SOUL WILL EITHER BE BURNED, EATEN, USED AS FUEL, OR FOREVER IMPRISONED IN A ROTTING SHELL OF A BODY. IT SEEMS MY SERVICES ARE NOT NEEDED EITHER WAY.
“Why do you talk in that funny voice?” a raspy voice above Toxica's head asked. All the ghosts turned at it in surprise, including the Litwicks, who got confused in their circle-flying and chanting because of it and collided with each other.
All this made Toxica slightly less afraid to the point were she could actually scream, so she did. She screamed in utter morbid fear, channelling all her fright into her lungs until Death swooped down and put its hand over her mouth.
I AM DEATH, IMPERTINENT MORTAL. THAT IS WHY I TALK LIKE THIS.
“Is Death a Duskull?” the other voice curiously asked.
“I'm no-” Death coughed, I AM NOT A DUSKULL, I AM AN ANTHROPOMORPHIC PERSONIFICATION.
“You're not very anthropomorphic if you're a Duskull. That's Duskullmorphic.”
That didn't sound much like Death, and Toxica now recognised it was indeed a Duskull, not Death. She bit its hand, which was still covering her mouth, and resumed screaming as it retracted it with a yelp of pain. She looked at the gravestone standing at the head of her grave, and saw the unmistakable, ruffled silhouette of Selene sit on it.
“Why is she screaming like that?” Selene wondered. Toxica was still too terrified to explain it herself.
“Uh...” stammered the Chandelure, “we... uh... We were going to burn her soul! And your too now, foolish mortal!”
“Are you?!” Selene asked happily. “Did you hear that, Toxica? This must be our lucky day!”
“Yes!” The Litwicks chanted uncertainly and much less synchronised than they did at first. “We will burn... What?”
“She likes it?” a Litwick piped.
“What the...” another mumbled.
Soon the Litwicks were all chatting through one another.
“S-silence!” roared the Cofagrigus. “I will turn you both into mummies, dooming you to an eternity of pain in a slowly rotting body as you hunger for the flesh of the living!”
“Wow,” Selene said, completely unperturbed. “I've always wondered what that was like, this is amazing! Hey, don't worry, Tox, they're just going to turn us into mummies.”
The Litwicks were now all chattering through each other as the bigger ghosts looked at Selene in utter puzzlement. “She's weird!” “What is she playing at?!” “She's just pretending!” “Weirdo!” “G-get her away...” “She scares me!”
“B-but...” the Jellicent stammered unsurely. “I... I will eat your soul. You know? Your very deepest “I” thing? I mean, you will suffer greatly as you're digested by me? And your body will remain as a thoughtless zombie. D-doesn't that scare you? A little?”
“A zombie? Cool! Think of all the people we'll scare, Tox! And we get to have our souls eaten, aren't we lucky?”
Toxica noticed she had stopped screaming to stare in astonishment at Selene, like the ghosts. In fact, the Litwicks were now routing, terrified by Selene, while the other ghosts seemed to be shrinking back slowly, muttering to each other: “S-she can't be serious.”
“N-no-one thinks things like that...”
“Let's just look into her mind using our telepathy, then...”
“I-I'd really rather not...”
“I'll give it a try- OH GIRATINA!!! I-I'm out of here!” the Chandelure floated away, its flames burning green with terror, as the remaining ghosts seemed unsure of what to do.
“What's all this noise?” a new, low-pitched voice asked.
“G-Golurk...” Jellicent stammered. “W-we were just playing a prank... But that Murkrow, s-she's utterly terrifying!”
“A prank?” Golurk asked. It now stood next to the grave and looked down at Toxica. “She is not laughing. Did you go too far again? You know mistress won't like that.”
“M-maybe a little... But that Murkrow...”
“A little?!” Golurk yelled angrily, “look at the poor thing, she's terrified! Go away, now, and tell mistress we're leaving. I'll have a solid word with her and you later.”
The ghosts fled, leaving Selene disappointed. “Aww, but they seemed so much fun...” she pouted.
Golurk extended a mechanic hand into the grave to help the still-trembling and crying Toxica up. “I'm really sorry for them. They're good deep at heart, but...” it paused, giving the impression it would have sighed had it had lungs. “They have a bad sense of humour. I'm afraid it's rather common in ghosts.”
Toxica grabbed the arm and let herself be helped up, but she was still trembling all over and crying. “Th-they were going to... G-going to do horrible things to me... They were going to b-burn my soul, and use it as fuel, a-and stab me...”
“They would never have really done those things. In fact, most of the things they threatened you with are impossible, just bits of the many stories told about ghost-types. Sadly our cruel sense of humour leaves people telling these kinds of stories about us, and to be honest I can't blame them...”
Toxica was taking deep breaths now to calm herself down. “O-Octa? Where is he? H-he's a Servine.”
“He's probably back with your trainers now. You were all dispersed in their attack, but the others have managed to regroup on the second floor. I'm afraid the others specifically attacked you because you must've seemed the most susceptible to their attacks and- hey, that is interesting...”
“What is?” Toxica asked.
“Well, let me explain it: I have lived for ten thousand years. I was built by a civilisation so ancient modern archaeology doesn't even know their name. When you have lived for ten thousand years, you know how time passes... You get a certain knack for telling what's going to happen next. And therefore, you can see a bit of the future... Mainly very big events, details are very hard... I had thought this might be coming before... But now that I've met you two, I'm certain...”
“What?” Toxica curiously asked despite her fear.
“A battle. The greatest battle of your time is coming soon, probably within a year from now. Two large armies will decide the fate of Unova, and possibly the world, on that day... But whoever wins, will do so at the cost of a great many lives. I can only hope it'll be worth it. And you,” it pointed at Toxica, “will play a vital part in this battle.”
“But... When? Where? What will happen? What will I do?”
“I don't know. The future is always in motion. Everything that happens changes it, so I can't be certain about any details... But the battle will happen, almost certainly. And now I must leave you alone. Your companions are a floor down, searching for you. I have to return to my own companions. We will leave this place in peace now, and I will have a strong word with them about how far is too far.” It walked off, to the stairs leading up. Toxica was too scared to follow her, and walked to the stairs down.
“Aww,” said Selene as she flew over Toxica's head, “It's a shame they're going; they were so much fun...”
“Y-yeah...” said Toxica. “Selene, you were so brave back there!”
“Was I?” Selene asked with a baffled expression on her face.
“Yeah, you were all fearless and stuff!”
“Well, yeah. I mean, what was there to fear?” Selene asked as if that was incredibly obvious.
“W-well... Getting our souls burned, or getting turned into an undead monstrosity and things like that.”
“Right...” Selene said as if expecting her to continue.
“So... You know, those were bad things.”
Toxica searched for words, finding none. “Be-because... Okay, I'm not going to talk to you about this any more, 'cause you're beginning to scare me as much as you scared them. I'll just say: thank you, and move on.”
lol at Selene and Lucius... xD
Boreas haven't yet found a way to fix his 'hair', huh?
Octa and Toxica's quarrel was really interesting, but oh, those damn ghost showed up... >=(
I'm gonna stop quoting every bit of Selene's insane-yet-happy sentences.
I'll go to the point... Selene was hilarious! xD
Even re-reading this chapter gave me the same amount of lols. xD
This was a great chapter, as always, but this, by far, was full of Selene-nonsense. xD
And oh, I don't think I told you this yet, but I really love how you detail everything. It's really great 'cause it helps us readers to imagine the scenes in our heads without even using visual aids.
Keet at it~!
Well, if he really wanted to he could probably get a haircut and put his hair back into the standard Glaceon's three-diamond style, but the truth is he doesn't really care about it enough and lets it hang loose and longer than it should be instead. Aqua's probably the only one who could get him to spend the effort to put his hair in that style, but she probably likes Boreas better as his hair is now.
Chapter Forty-Seven: Never Odd or Even
Boreas ran, almost skipped, through the tall grass, hearing his pursuer follow him. “I'm going to get you!” she called after him.
“Not with that lovely tail slowing you down, love!” He called back, laughing. “In water it might make you faster, but here on land it only slows you down!”
“Ha, you underestimate my speed!” Aqua shouted through ragged breaths.
“Then catch me if you can! You'll never get me!”
“Well, even if I don't catch up to you, at least you look real good from this angle,” She flirted as she kept pursuing him.
He blushed and suddenly - and not entirely unintentionally - he tripped over a plant. He fell to the ground and rolled onto his back, letting Aqua jump on top of him and pin him down. “Well, well, looks like I caught my delicious prey after all...” Boreas felt his heart pound loudly in his chest as she lowered her head to kiss him, but then she suddenly turned away, put her front paws on his stomach, and starting tickling.
“Ahahaha-” Boreas laughed as his limbs began flailing uncontrollably. “Don't, don't- hahaha- stohohop it!”
“Don't stop it?” Aqua said with a wide grin. “Okay, then I won't. I'll keep tickling forever.”
“Hahaha- Nononono-” Boreas laughed as he tried to stop her, but found it impossible with his limbs flailing with laughter. “That's not- ahahaha- What I meaheant! C'mon- hahaha- stop it!”
“Never! I'll keep tickling and tickling for ever and ever. Unless you make me stop.”
Boreas tried to grab a hold of her paws to make her stop, but he couldn't. “I cahahahan't! Hahaha- you're pinning mehihi down! I surrender- hahaha!”
But Aqua kept tickling, with a mean grin on her face. “If you surrendered, that means I'm the victor, and to the victor go the spoils of war. So... What do I get for winning?”
“Hahaha,” Boreas still laughed hysterically, his belly beginning to hurt from all this. “Whahahat about a kihihiss?”
“Hmm...” Aqua said as she lay down on top of him, stopped tickling for a moment, and brought her radiant grin to Boreas' mouth. “We can start with that. But since you surrendered unconditionally,” she spoke, looking into Boreas' eyes with a look that made his toes curl, his blood boil, and his mouth water, “you're mine to do with as I please afterwards...”
They kissed full of fire, their nervous systems overflowing with delight. When their lips parted, Boreas tried to move, but found that Aqua was still pinning him down with her slightly greater strength, weight, and size. She looked down on him with a beautiful grin. “Ah, ah, ah,” she said as if berating a naughty cub as Boreas felt her paws slide back to his stomach.
Fortunately, he had an idea that would gain him the upper hand. He approached her face once again, letting their lips touch softly; but this time he tried very hard not to lose himself in the kiss, instead he suddenly grabbed Aqua and rolled over, using her momentary distraction with the kiss to gain the upper hand.
“Ha ha!” Boreas laughed triumphantly at Aqua's surprised face. “Now who's the victor, my dear?”
“Neither of us. Because I have not surrendered. And I never will. You can do with me what you wish, but you'll never get me to surrender...”
“Oh, really? Let's try that, hmm?” Boreas looked at her deviously as he put his front paws on Aqua's soft, blue tummy and began tickling her, causing her to break out in high-pitched nervous giggles. “What about now?” Boreas asked with a grin.
“Hihihi- Never!” Boreas kept tickling as she laughed, but suddenly he jerked back with a nervous yelp as Aqua poked his stomach. She immediately threw him off her and pounced him. But he swiftly reacted and grabbed her as she landed, trying to subdue her, but she wildly wrestled with him as they both laughed and enjoyed the warm touch of each other's body pressed against them. Boreas even managed to steal a quick kiss as they rolled over each other. Wrestling and hugging at the same time, they suddenly rolled onto a small slope; gravity increased their momentum and made them keep rolling and rolling. Boreas held Aqua in a tight embrace as the world spun around them. She brought her blue mouth to his neck and began covering it with passionate kisses, so Boreas felt even dizzier than from just the spinning. He repaid her in kind by kissing her forehead and her fins, softly stroking her frilled collar. When they stopped rolling at last, they lay next to each other in a dizzy embrace.
He stared into Aqua's face, mesmerised by her while the world still seemed to spin around them. Her soft blue lips and eyes like the sea at night seemed particularly enchanting now and a warm, tender feeling spread from his heart like a bottle of warm syrup being emptied over him. He burst with adoration for his sweet, gorgeous Aqua, suddenly realising how much he'd come to love her. He would give anything for her, even his own life, he realised, and he'd do it happily too. Unimaginable though it was, it felt even stronger than being in love on its own did. Reminded of Octa's stellar metaphor, he now realised being in love was more like the bright flashes at the beginning of a star's life than the star's endless life-sustaining flames itself. This feeling, however, was much more like a star. A bright, blazing warm star that shone for Aqua in his heart and illuminated his entire being.
“I love you,” Boreas whispered softly. Aqua's radiant smile displayed a combination of surprise, love, and happiness as he kissed her softly. “I... Just realised that...” he whispered as they remained close enough to have barely a centimetre between their faces. “I have known I was... in love with you since the first day we met... but now I really love you. Y-you're... the most lovely, amazing creature in the universe... Every second with you... Is a delight. There is no-one I'd rather be with than you... My beautiful Aqua...”
Aqua softly dried the tears of joy that had formed in Boreas' eyes with her paw. “Yes... I love you too, Boreas...” Though he had perhaps expected this answer, to hear those four amazing words from her enticing blue mouth filled him with extreme happiness. “I have said some stupid things to you in the past, but now everything is clearer to me than it ever has been... I love you, and you're the perfect mate for me...”
They hugged tenderly, happy to simply be together. All the horribly hard times that had befallen Boreas lately were completely forgotten now as Aqua softly stroked his face and back, while he did the same to her, caressing her every square centimetre of soft, blue-furred flesh.
“Oh dear, your muscles are all knotted up...” whispered Aqua.
“Are they?” Boreas asked in surprise. That did not sound like a good thing.
“Yeah, they are. Must've been all the worry I caused you lately. It seems only fair I should also solve it, then...” she left the loving embrace, to Boreas' disappointment, told him to lie down on his stomach. Then she sat down on his lower back, softly massaging his muscles with her front paws. Boreas hummed in delectation at her tender paws caressing him like that and blushed a slight purple.
“Mmm...” he purred, “that feels... ahh... so amazing... Your paws are... so tender... Hmm... A bit higher...”
She gently rubbed his shoulders and neck, relieving tension Boreas hadn't even realised was there, before she gently moved down his back, occasionally centring around a single spot for a long time, as Boreas just happily lay on his stomach, blushing and smiling inanely. After his back, she softly kneaded his tail over its entire length, bringing even greater relief to Boreas. Then she lay down on his back, embracing him.
“I... I can barely believe how lucky I am to be with a bloke like you...” Aqua whispered in his ear, her voice dripping with adoration.
Boreas turned around under her and softly kissed her beautiful, blushing face. “How lucky we are to be with each other,” he bettered as he rubbed her back, noticing the muscles there seemed hard and cramped, quite like what he would describe as “knotted up”. “It feels like you could use a massage as well. Lie down and let me help you...”
With another touch of their lips, Aqua lay down. Boreas sat down onto her back, careful not to hurt her delicate form by sitting down too roughly. He put his paws on her shoulders with a deep blush and began kneading her soft flesh gently, feeling every muscle of that beautiful creature he so adored. Aqua made happy sounds of delight as she blushed deeply as well. Tracing her muscles and her foxy shape with desire, Boreas felt as if it was getting warmer by the minute, though the Sun was setting.
“Hmm?” Aqua asked playfully, “what's that I feel, my love?”
“N-nothing,” Boreas said, ashamed.
Aqua turned around under him and looked down. “I'd hardly call that nothing...” she said with admiration.
“Don't apologise, and don't be ashamed, my love... I want this as much as you... Kiss me.”
He did so, and she kissed back with such amazingly fiery passion that Boreas stopped inhibiting his desires and let all his passion for Aqua pour into the kiss as he rubbed her with more and more love.
Boreas panted in exhaustion and supreme gratification as he lay next to Aqua, both heavily flushed and sweating after their long, intense exertion that had ended a few minutes earlier. Boreas was more overwhelmed with love than he'd ever been. Everything about her was so intensely, overwhelmingly attractive. Everything from her scent, to the way her hips moved when she walked, to her eyes attracted him, but that was not what he really loved. He really loved what was inside her head, her loving, clever, flirtatious mind. He would happily have done the same with her if she'd been hideous.
Aqua snuggled up to him and he felt her rapid heartbeat under her warm, flushed skin. “You... were amazing... my lovely Boreas...” she panted.
“Thank you,” Boreas said as he snuggled up to her as well. “That was... The most brilliant thing I've ever felt... It was...” he futilely searched for words.
Aqua put a finger on his lips and brushed his hair out of his face very affectionately. “Shhh, my love, don't bother. I know. And I know there are no words that suffice it... You were such an amazing, gentle lover...”
They lay in each others' embrace, catching their breath back as they looked up to the night sky without much thought for quite a while. But then Aqua began kissing Boreas once again in rapid succession as she snuggled even closer to him.
“Mmm, you are -mmm- truly insatiable, aren't you?” Boreas asked between kisses.
“Oh,” Aqua said disappointedly as she stopped. “Sorry. I... figured you'd feel up for it again...”
“I wonder:” Boreas asked with a sly smile, “do you ask for a fourth plate at dinner too?”
“S-sorry...” Aqua blushed even deeper than she already was.
“Don't worry,” Boreas laughed as he held her closer and began kissing her again, “I'm insatiable as well!”
Boreas awoke softly in Aqua's arms. He opened his eyes and saw her pretty face, sleeping with a happy smile on it. He blushed and smiled as he remembered how they had fallen asleep the night before, more exhausted than they'd ever been before. He stroked her pointy ears softly and tenderly as he remembered the wild, passionate flurry. Aqua chuckled in her sleep, snuggled up even closer to him, and softly muttering his name, making Boreas' heart pound loudly and his mind fill with adoration for her. He couldn't help himself and kissed her soft blue lips tenderly.
“Mmm... Boreas?” Aqua muttered as she opened her black eyes slowly.
“The very same,” Boreas smiled as he continued lightly kissing her.
“Lucky me,” giggled Aqua between kisses, “to be – mmm – awoken by the kisses of my beautiful Boreas... Mmm, last night was... fun.”
“You must be the luckiest Vaporeon in the world,” Boreas laughed, “and I think to describe last night as “fun” is quite the understatement.”
“Boreas,” said Aqua in a mock-insulted voice as she jokingly pushed him away from her, “I'll have you know I don't like arrogant males at all.”
“Then why have you,” said Boreas as he returned to kissing her, “fallen so hopelessly in love with me?”
“I have not,” Aqua giggled as she kept playfully resisting, whilst at the same time reciprocating Boreas' kisses, “fallen in -mmm- love with you...”
“Oh, I think you -mmm- have, my dearest.”
“Really? Do -mmm- you have any proof -mmm- of that?”
“Well, mmm- I think I remember you -mmm- uttering the words “I love you, Boreas” on -mmm- nine different occasions yesterday. It's -mmm- possible I misheard, of course, but since you -mmm- almost screamed those words on five of those occasions it would be quite hard...”
“Lies,” Aqua whispered as she kept kissing him, “all lies... You're a -mmm- liar... My beautiful, clever -mmm- liar...”
They smooched for a while more, then just rested in each other's arms. “I love you, Aqua,” Boreas sighed in joy, “and I want to spend every day of my life with you... Not to mention every night...”
“Then what's stopping us?” Aqua whispered in his ear. “My offer of travelling wherever we want together still stands, my love.”
Boreas thought about it. Then he answered. “Last time you gave me that offer, I declined it. I have regretted that choice ever since. First came the lovesickness of being separated from you... Then Capella died and I blamed myself in so many different ways, and thought she wouldn't have died if I'd taken your offer... Then I learnt you were with N, and I absolutely hated myself for not taking your offer, as you'd never have joined him if I had... But, despite all that, it is the right choice. I'm sorry, my love, but Team Plasma has to be stopped. I can't leave my friends to fight them alone. I want to take your offer more than anything in the world, but I can't.”
The silence as Boreas feared Aqua would be angry or insulted was dreadful. But then she said: “I understand, my love.”
“Yes. I understand this is important to you. Black saved your life, just as humans have always threatened mine. They have always helped you, just like they have always endangered me. If our lives had been the other way around, I would probably fight for the bond between humans and pokémon as well.”
“I'm glad you understand.”
“Of course I do; I love you and I will support you to the end. But, our lives are not the other way around. And if our lives had been the other way around, you would see the need to separate humans and pokémon, just as I do. I will go back to my friends, and I will help N bring his new world about. I hope you can forgive me, my love.”
Boreas felt a rogue spark of anger, but his love for Aqua quenched it quickly. He couldn't hate her or be angry at her, no matter what. “I have forgiven you a few days ago. I can accept you returning to N, much though I think it's the wrong choice. You support Team Plasma, I oppose them, and I'm not letting this come between us again.”
“Neither am I. I will not fight you again, no matter what. And when this is all over, we can be together... For as long as we want.”
Boreas sighed. “I look forward to that so much... I... I do want to ask you one thing, since you're going back to N: Please be careful of Diego.”
“Diego is my friend, Boreas,” Aqua stated, suddenly with quite a lot less love in her voice.
“Well, you see... I caught him looking at you. The way he looked at you terrified me. He looked almost hungry... Please, be careful of him. I... Don't want him to hurt you...”
“He may have been quite cruel to you,” Aqua said with a clear spark of anger in her voice, “but that does not make him a rapist.”
“I-I wasn't suggesting that.”
“You were, though.”
“Alright, maybe a bit... But there's not just that... He also knows now how much I love you... He knows he could hit me hardest by hurting you... I don't want him to do that.”
“He is my friend, Boreas, he'd never do anything to me.”
“Please, you don't know him like I do.”
“Well, obviously. I mean, I only spent six weeks around him as a friend, while you spent half-an-hour with him while you were trying to beat each other to pieces. Obviously, I am not nearly as qualified as you to determine his character.”
“Okay, so maybe you know him better. But still... He's very cruel, and he could hurt me so much by hurting you... Please promise me you'll be careful about him...”
“Fine, does that make you happy? Now let's stop talking about Diego when there's so many better topics to talk about.”
“Alright, thank you,” said Boreas, though he knew Aqua was not taking Diego nearly seriously enough, no matter what he said. “Since we have made our plans, I guess we'd better get going if we want to catch up with our friends...”
Aqua giggled. “Don't worry, my love. The destinations of both N and Black are Icirrus City. I know it's high up in the White Mountains; and we can't even see them yet, though these are flat plains.”
“So?” Boreas asked.
“My dear, have you ever seen a mountain in real life?”
“Come to think of it, I don't think so. I've seen hills, though. Why?”
“Well, my family's home was close to the eastern end of the White Mountains, so I have seen them, and I'll tell you the single most important feature of every mountain: they're gigantic. It is unbelievable how immense even a small mountain is, and the White Mountains go up to almost six kilometres.”
“Well, you know, but you probably don't really realise it. When you first see the mountains, you'll be utterly surprised at how gigantic they are; larger than anything you had previously imagined possible. You can see mountains from enormous distances because of their size; that's how I know Icirrus must be really far away: we can't even see the White Mountains yet. It must be weeks away, maybe even more than a month if we're lucky. So you see, there's no need for us to rush; if we just walk together in the right direction each day, we will eventually catch up, and we have weeks to do so.”
“Hehe, I really like the sound of that... Spending weeks together with you... But catching up will be difficult; I have the feeling we'll be wasting a lot of time on the way there...”
“Well, that depends on what you call wasted time,” Aqua winked.
“Of course,” said Boreas. He kissed Aqua, deciding the best time to waste time was now.
Boreas sighed as he saw the familiar tent between the trees. “I'm sorry to say it, but that's definitely Black's tent...”
Aqua chuckled. “Look on the bright side: you'll get to be with your friends again.”
“Yeah,” sighed Boreas, “but I won't get to be with you any more, my love.”
Aqua rested her head on his shoulder and ran a paw through his hair. “These three weeks with you have been blissful. But all good things must come to an end.”
Boreas stroke her ears and frilled neck. “No. All things must come to an end, both good and bad things. Especially the bad things, in fact... I already can't wait until our next meeting.”
Aqua chuckled and whispered something in Boreas' ear that made him blush deeply. “Especially now... You know, I'm probably not going to sleep very well, thinking of you all the time.”
Aqua laughed and kissed him. “You weren't sleeping very well anyway.”
Boreas chuckled and poked her. “That's because you were keeping me up all the time, you silly, lovely girl.”
They kissed each other for an incredibly long time, to say goodbye. Then Aqua walked off through the forest, quickly invisible behind trees, yet Boreas kept staring after her, resisting the urge to run after her. Finally he sighed and entered the tent.
“Wah!” Black shouted as he startled awake. “Who are you? Get the hell out of my te- Boreas?!” Black hugged him as his pokémon also approached. “Boreas, I thought you had left forever!” He laughed happily. “Welcome back, you're looking great! Heh, that Vaporeon must've been taking good care of you! You know, you nearly gave me a heart attack when you suddenly entered the tent in the middle of the night!”
“Uh. Y-yeah, hi Black,” Boreas stammered, startled by the warm welcome.
As soon as Black let go of him, Boreas was firmly hugged by Octa. “My dear fellow, may I say what a pleasure it is to see you once again! I have quite honestly missed your presence, my friend, and I do hope you will endeavour not to be missing from my side for quite so long again, my dear fellow.”
Boreas was still overwhelmed by the warm welcome as Selene and Toxica happily welcomed him too, though he thought he spotted an uncharacteristically angry look from Toxica to Octa. “Wow, thanks. I missed you all as well; especially you, Octa.”
Lucius was treating him to an unpleasant scowl, though. “Well, well, look who's back from sleeping with the enemy!”
In other circumstances this might've made Boreas angry, but the memory to the time spent with Aqua and the warm welcome he'd been given made that pretty much impossible. “Oh, there was actually not much sleeping involved... Hehe, we didn't leave much time for sleeping... In fact, I'm quite tired now...”
Lucius grimaced. “Oh, very funny, pup. But you've been sleeping with the enemy, both literally and figuratively.”
“That's quite enough,” said Octa.
“No, it isn't. Your girlfriend is partially responsible for Capella's death, and you dishonoured her memory with this, when you shoulda been getting revenge! If it was up to me, we'd chase you off the team right now!”
“How fortunate, then,” said Octa, “that it is not up to you, for we would lose a highly valued friend and team member that way.”
Lucius began bickering with Octa, and Boreas really thought he should support Octa's position, but he was indeed very tired and fell asleep almost instantaneously when he lied down.
Aw well, at least they won't get to kill each other when they meet up in battle, at least. =/
Boreas is finally back in Black's team, huh?
This was a great chapter.
It was a nice re-read, as always~!
^Thanks. I'm a bit surprised you liked this chapter, considering I remember you disliking chapter 29 a bit for being quite smoochy.
Chapter Forty-Eight: The White Mountains
A magnificent vista surrounded Boreas as he followed Black over the thin mountain trail. They were high up on one of the White Mountains, though nowhere near the top. Aqua had been right that he would be amazed by the size of mountains, as he had admitted to her the day they'd first seen the range on the horizon and he had realised just how immensely far away the mountains still were. Now he was looking the opposite way: he was on the mountain's grassy slope, looking out over the plains of Route 7, which were occasionally interspersed by small towns and villages. Unova looked very calm and peaceful from up here; neither Boreas nor Unova realised both the calmth and peace the region was enjoying would come to an end only a few days later.
This high up on the mountain there were no more trees; only grass. Yet the snow was still higher up, covering the tall white summit which towered above them like only a mountain can. The Sun burnt very warmly and was very irritating at this height, but it was surprisingly cold whenever there was a shadow, like from a big rock or a cloud moving in front of the blazing Sun. At first Boreas had had to breathe rapidly with the thinner air up here, though now he only noticed it because he got tired sooner than normal when he had to exert himself.
Pokémon were rare up here: the ice-types that lived here most of the year had moved up the mountain, along with the snow, when the snow melted a few weeks before. Pokémon from the mountain's lower slopes didn't have much to seek on the bare alpine tundra and stayed mainly in the forests. The only pokémon here were cattle belonging to the farmers from mountain villages.
Their path followed the curve of the mountain into the range, so they soon exchanged the magnificent view of Route 7's plains for an even more magnificent view of the valleys between the mountains, deep below, where a beautiful lake gleamed in the Sun and vast forests covered the land. It was clear now that the mountain they were on was, with its 3500 metres of height, quite small compared to the other peaks of the White Mountains. The other mountains around the valleys easily dwarfed it, reaching up to more than five kilometres into the air, and Mount Twist, the highest mountain in Unova south of the Black Mountains in the north, dwarfed even them. From their current vantage, they looked onto some clouds that hung surprisingly low over the mountains' slopes from above. Other clouds hung higher, covering some of the peaks. But none of the clouds reaches as high as Mt. Twist's tall peak, which cast shadows even on other peaks with a height of nearly seven kilometres. Since Icirrus was on the other side of Mt. Twist, they'd have to get around it. Black had asked for directions to Icirrus in both of the villages they had come through, and in both villages they had pointed him of a path going low over Mt. Twist's slopes that he should follow. So that was indeed the path they had followed so far.
“It's two more hours to go to the village of Willowind,” Black panted, encouraging himself and his pokémon as they laboured up the steep, rocky slope. “We can sleep there for the night.”
After going along the side of three different mountains in five days, their path had started sloping upwards, to the rocky zone at 3 kilometres above the ground, just below the edge of eternal snow, where even grass didn't grow. Even now, in the middle of May, it was just above freezing here, but the Sun's light was horridly powerful and stung even on a furred skin. Black and Octa were lucky Black had bought a bottle of very powerful sunblock, or they'd probably be burnt as red as a lobster by now. The only plants here were occasional tiny flowers growing between the rocks and lichen that grew on them.
Climbing the steep path was exhausting even on four legs. Black was panting very loudly in the thin air. “Oh, look!” He panted happily from ahead, “We've finally reached a horizontal bit- woah!”
Boreas saw what had startled Black so much as he caught up to the human: As they reached the top of this low mountain, there was indeed a long horizontal bit. Over the thin, elongated ridge that formed the mountain's summit, that is. Instead of going over the side of the mountain, as it had before, the path ran over a ridge of about a metre wide, a very steep slope downwards on both sides. It was utterly terrifying to see depths of hundreds of metres on both sides. On the slopes themselves, the depth on one side of the path had never bothered Boreas, as the other side of the path always sloped up, giving you a safe, sturdy mountain on that side. But with a depth on both sides, it became clear just how high they were, and how flat they'd be if they fell.
“W-well,” Black stammered. “I... guess it must be safe if the path goes over it?” he said unsurely.
But the safety of the path was not really what bothered Boreas, or the others. The problem was that it looked terrifying, and walking over the ridge for about an hour seemed very scary. Boreas looked at his companions to see who would take the first steps on the thin ridge. But all of them were too scared. While Selene probably wasn't afraid, she had lots of trouble flying in this thin air.
Octa sighed and stepped forward. “You are right, old chap. This path would not be here if the locals did not use it at least occasionally; logically it must be reasonably safe.” He started walking ahead.
“Hmpf, him and his 'logic'...” Toxica mumbled as she followed him. “But I can do anything he can!”
Octa's example gave Boreas, Black, and Lucius the courage to follow as well. While it was very scary at first, the feeling quickly subsided to a mere queasiness once he was on the ridge. The vast vistas on both sides were slightly terrifying, but he tried to keep his mind off it. Lucius passed him and put Selene on his shoulder. “Your turn to carry the chicken, pup. It's your fault she started following us around in the first place.”
“Jerk,” Boreas muttered as he greeted Selene, who was now perched on his shoulder.
“Don't worry, Boreas,” said Selene, “I'll just fly and save you the trouble of carrying me.”
While Boreas would prefer not to have to carry her on the rough mountain ridge, he knew she couldn't fly, and he wouldn't want to risk her life. “No, you can't. Remember when you tried yesterday and crashed?”
“Yesterday?” Selene asked with a squinted face. “I thought that was tomorrow.”
“No, it- huh?” Boreas asked in surprise. “Tomorrow?”
“It's the day after today,” Selene helped.
“Yyyes... So I've heard,” said Boreas, scrutinising Selene to see if she was serious or just exaggerating her oddness.
“Anyway,” she told, “I think I've figured out why I can't fly any more.”
“It's because of the thin-”
“Mountain gnomes must have tied their invisible tangerines to my feet, and they're weighing me down now.”
“air, in which- what?!”
“Obviously a tangerine grown in mountains will have greater mass than one grown on flat land, which makes it even harder to fly,” Selene rattled on.
Boreas stared at her in bafflement, then grinned. “You're pulling my leg, aren't you?”
Selene looked down at his legs. “I'm sitting on your shoulder, Boreas. I can't even reach your legs, let alone pull them.”
“What I mean is: you're joking. Don't bother playing dumb, Selene, I know you're not quite as crazy as you like to pretend you are, and you overdid it just now.”
Selene stared into his eyes with a long, blank stare, then said: “Boreas? Oh, I didn't see you there. Don't worry about the tangerines, they're not infectious.” She suddenly jumped on his back and hugged him.
“Selene, quit it!” Boreas berated her, “get back on my shoulder and stop doing this, or you can walk for yourself.”
Selene hopped back to his shoulder. “Sorry. Did I ever tell you about my uncle Istvan?”
Boreas was starting to worry about Selene. It might all be an act, but then again, she did crash pretty hard when she tried to fly the day before, and the air was rather thin at this height, and the Sun shone very hard; and all these things could mean she really was only barely bouncing off the sides of sanity. “No, you haven't. You have never told me about your family, or really anything that happened before I met you.”
“Well,” she explained, “the first thing I should say is that he was not really my uncle Istvan; he's everyone's uncle Istvan! He's as much my uncle Istvan as your uncle Istvan! Or, if I dare say it – and I think I dare – Cedric Juniper's uncle Istvan!”
“Either or both ways, uncle Istvan's day were made when the Dead People's Olympics Committee promoted him to be captain of the gravy train. So he would boat it around all day, delivering gravy to people's houses and writing rude messages to strangers. But one day, there came this Tranquill on board who would spit him in his ears when he fell asleep. It was not easy, being a secret agent. Fortunately he could always call his friends and hang up on them, which was a good thing. Let me ask a different question in the same way: it's just simple logic, isn't it?”
Boreas stared at her after her mad rant, unsure whether she had really lost it this time or was just pretending. Either way, he decided he should get her checked out at Icirrus' pokécenter, and keep an eye on her at all times before that. He passed Lucius to go talk to Octa to tell him about Selene's bizarre behaviour, even by her standards.
“My dear fellow,” Octa greeted him. “'Tis quite a view we have from here, is it not?”
Boreas shivered a bit as he was reminded of the great depths on both sides. “I really wish you hadn't said that... Anyway: Selene is acting weird.”
Octa raised both eyebrows. “You don't say? My dear fellow, I do thank you for this information. I suppose the next ray of enlightenment you wish to extend upon my humble ears shall be to inform me the Sun is quite a warm place?”
“Weirder than usual, I mean,” Boreas snapped. “I think we should have her checked out at the Icirrus pokécenter. How long d'you think before we get there?”
Octa extended his hands before his face and took some measurements. “The angle between Mount Twist's peak and my hypothesis of its base is, by my estimate, around sixty degrees. This is equal to one radian, ergo we are approximately six kilometres, its height, away. Since Icirrus is on Mount Twist's other side, we would be two hours away at most if we could travel in a straight line, but these being the mountains, I honestly can't say. It could be several days.”
Boreas looked around at the magnificent view, walking a bit behind Octa with Selene still sitting on his shoulder. His mind wandered back to the delightful time he had spent with Aqua. Day after day had been absolute bliss with her. He sighed loudly as he suddenly missed her a lot.
“You look none too happy, my dear fellow,” said Octa.
Boreas sighed. “I miss Aqua... A lot.”
“Do you?” Octa asked. “I suppose that is quite understandable, my dear fellow.”
“She asked me to stay with her... And I would've done anything to do so and stay with her forever... But I couldn't, not with this business with Team Plasma going on... These past three weeks have been the happiest of my life, Octa.”
“Yeah... I love her. I told her that, and she said she loved me too! She loves me, Octa, can you believe that?!”
“Well, better start believing it, because it's true! The most beautiful girl in the world loves me!”
“Or at least Aqua does.”
“She's mine and- what? You don't think she's the most beautiful girl in the world?”
“No. With so many different species of creatures in the world, I would highly doubt there is such a thing as the single most beautiful girl in the world, as each species are considerably more attracted to their own kind than to others.”
“Fine, the most beautiful Eevee in the world.”
“I don't think so. The chances of you coincidentally meeting the most beautiful Eevee in the world are very slim. Don't get me wrong, she looks fine, quite good really. Just not better than every single other Eevee on the planet, I'm sure. She is probably in the top half, quite possibly even the top quarter, but I am fairly certain she is nowhere near the most beautiful Eevee in the world.”
“You're a real romantic, you know that?” Boreas asked with annoyance. “To me she's the most beautiful girl in the world.”
“Fine. To you. But you know she's not, really. After all, much though the case could be argued, you're not mad. You just fancy her more than she's objectively attractive.”
Boreas frowned. “Octa, shut up.”
“That's a good thing! That's what love is, isn't it? Two people who are a little bit deluded in each other's favour.”
“Say, have you been this annoying a lot, lately? Is that why Toxica is so bitter with you now?”
Octa suddenly looked terribly down. “No, it isn't,” he said morosely. “The reason she acts that way is because my mother told her about my obligations to my family... To be more precise, those with relevance to breeding...”
Boreas forgot his annoyance with his friend. “Oh. And then Toxica realised you could've told her that a year ago and spared her a lot of trouble?”
Octa nodded. “Indeed. She... is quite angry with me for withholding said information from her.”
“Well, to be honest I would be as well. I told you you should have told her. Why didn't you?”
“I do not want to talk about it.”
Boreas couldn't sleep, though he was exhausted from all the climbing in thin air. It was a good thing they had reached the mountain village, so they could get a room in a small hotel; because it was freezing almost twenty degrees outside. It wouldn't have been a problem to Boreas, of course, but it certainly would have been to the others. He had looked forward to sleep so much the last bit of the exhausting journey, yet he couldn't get to sleep now, as his thoughts were filled with Aqua. Her smile, her eyes, everything she'd said to him... Particularly when she had told him she loved him. He so hoped he'd see her again soon.
“Octa,” he heard Toxica whisper, “Octa!”
Octa snored loudly.
“I know you're awake, so quit pretendin' to be asleep!”
“Fine, I am indeed awake. Be quiet, or you'll wake everyone up,” Octa said with annoyance.
“Then I'll whisper quietly. I want to know what you were gonna say when we were suddenly surrounded by ghosts in the Celestial Tower, and I want to know it now. I've waited long enough for you to return to the subject by yourself. Now you're going to tell me why you never told me about your family's stupid rule.”
“I'd really rather not,” Octa whispered.
“I don't care, I want you to tell me,” said Toxica, resolutely.
“Please. I can assure you telling you this shall only make it harder. I do not want to tell you, because it would make you feel worse.”
“I'll be the judge of that. Tell me.”
Octa sighed. “Fine. The reason I never told you is because you would inevitably have asked me about whether or not I feel attracted to you, as well. And I couldn't have lied to you or hidden the truth after such a direct question... Toxica, I am in love with you as well.”
“Quite, yes. But, don't you see? I cannot allow myself to act on those feelings; you are neither of noble blood nor a Serperior. I cannot allow myself to fraternise with you. Now do you see why I never have told you? I could not bring myself to break your heart, nor to lie to you about my feelings. Can you forgive me?”
Boreas heard a sniff and other sounds of crying. “No. I-I wish I'd never met you now,” Toxica cried.
“I apologise,” said Octa as Boreas heard him get up and walk out of the room.
Boreas had no idea Octa was in love with Toxica as well. Now that he thought of it, Octa being in love with Toxica but trying to suppress his feelings for her because he didn't want to break his family's tradition explained so much about his behaviour... He sighed and stood up, remembering the final conversation he'd had with Capella, mere hours before her death.
“I'm going to do everything in my power to convince him to jump at love and not let family tradition stand in the way of his happiness. I'm sure you'll do the same.”
Yes, I will, Boreas thought determinedly as he stood up. Capella might be gone, but I'm not and I'll get him to change his mind!
“You-you heard us?” Toxica sniffed as she saw him go after Octa.
Boreas nodded apologetically as he left the room and followed Octa, who had gone outside. Boreas found his friend sitting on a lichen-covered rock outside, staring at the amazingly clear night sky. “Octa, I've got to talk to you.”
“I am not in the mood for it, my dear fellow. Besides, 'tis quite rude to overhear the conversations of others, and even more so to meddle in their business. That is why you're here, isn't it?”
“I couldn't help not falling asleep, and I am going to meddle in your business because I'm your friend, and because I promised Capella.”
“Do not interfere,” said Octa, threateningly. “I warn you: if you continue this line of conversation you stand a good chance of permanently damaging our friendship.”
“I'll take that chance, then! I'm not letting you throw your chance at happiness away. I promised Capella the final time I spoke to her. Really spoke to her, I mean, not a quick word in battle. We promised we would protect you from your family's stupid rules when you fell in love, and since Capella is dead I'll have to carry that promise out on my own.”
“Do not bother me. You shan't change my mind, so this is useless.”
“I don't agree! Let me tell you about my relationship with Aqua. It was... The most amazing time I've ever had. Nothing and no-one has ever stirred such powerful emotions in me as she has. Both the good and the bad ones. But mainly the good ones. Kissing her is like-”
“Do not bother me with this. I have read more than enough books involving the subject, so I daresay I know more than enough about the matter and the emotions involved.”
“No, you don't! Reading about love and actually experiencing it are completely different! And that's because there are no words sufficient to describe the joy of spending time with your loved one, the tantalising spark you feel when she touches you, her amazing kiss...”
“Yet I shall experience all those feelings, simply not with Toxica.”
“No, you shan't! You'll never really love whoever your family picks, but you love Toxica! You can't just choose whom you love!”
Octa squinted at him with a look of disgust. “You arrogant little Glaceon. What do you think makes you know better than the entire house of Equinox?! We have done it this way for thirty-five generations, and we have a glorious legacy to account for it! On the other hand, you know nothing of your family! Only the last two generations, whom you've known personally!”
“So what?! A legacy is useless! Nothing more than a story you tell to make you feel superior! Because like it or not, almost every single member of the house of Equinox is dead! Their deeds are all in the past and were not your deeds! It doesn't matter whom you descend from, what matters is your own life!”
“Be quiet!” Octa hissed furiously. “A lower-class pokémon like yourself would never understand the great gift of a noble birth!”
“See, there you go! “Lower-class pokémon,” your ancestry is nothing more than an excuse to feel superior to others! What do your ancestors' deeds matter to your life?! They are not living your life! Look at all the billions of pokémon like myself who have ancestors of mixed species, probably none of noble blood! And yet we can live admirably and happily!”
“I'm not going to continue trading insults with you!” Octa stood up and tried to walk away. But Boreas quickly grabbed his tail.
“I haven't finished talking to you.”
Octa slowly turned around and stared in Boreas' eyes. Suddenly Boreas felt as if he was being stabbed with sharp daggers under the force of Octa's furious stare. “Let. Me. Go. Now!”
Boreas felt his paw almost instinctively move to release Octa's tail, but he stopped himself and looked back into Octa's eyes, his eyes watering almost immediately. “No. We need to talk.”
Octa furiously grabbed Boreas' paw and bent the fingers pack to release his tail, so Boreas grabbed his arms. Octa pushed him away and tried to escape, but Boreas kept holding him firmly. Octa hissed threateningly and tried to push Boreas over, so Boreas tried to do the same to him, pushing each other over, they both fell onto the ground, Boreas managing to land on top, pinning Octa down. Octa wrestled against Boreas, but he didn't let him go, so he punched him in the paw. Boreas ignited in fury as his paw flared with pain. He tried to hold himself back, but after Octa's stupid insistence not to listen to him his temper was already strained.
He punched and clawed at Octa, who fought back as he tried to get out from under Boreas, hitting him on the eye. His eye was in severe pain and he could barely see with it any more, so he punched Octa's face to make him pay for that. Octa punched his stomach, making him howl in pain. Octa used the opportunity to escape from Boreas' grab, throw him to the cold, rocky ground, and pin him down.
Boreas looked up to the furious Servine who was about to hit him again, and he suddenly felt his own anger at this whole situation disappear, and he grinned up at Octa, whose anger seemed to have subsided for the moment as well. “Ouch, that was quite the punch. You're not bad.”
Octa chuckled at this and lowered his fist. “Thanks, my dear fellow. You're not bad yourself, my lips feel very painful and swollen after that punch you gave them.”
Boreas laughed and patted Octa's shoulder. “I had little choice. Who knew you'd be so strong you could beat an ice-type like me?”
“Oh, don't flatter me, my dear fellow, neither of us used our elemental powers, so typing does not really matter here.”
Boreas laughed. He realised how weird this was: a minute ago they had been furious at each other, and fighting had seemed to somehow have cleared the tension rather than make it worse. His eye really hurt, though. “How does my eye look?”
Octa cringed. “Swollen, bloody and painful. I apologise for that.”
“Don't bother, I guess it was my own fault.”
They were silent for a while, Octa still lying on top of Boreas. “Um,” Octa spoke. “I believe I shall consider your earlier words. But you see, I have no choice, I can't just pick the mate I want.”
“Why? What is your family going to do about it?”
“They'd get quite angry, but it is not so much my family as my descendants I am worried about... I don't want them to be born without pure blood. My family would never accept them either.”
“Look, just because you're in a relationship with a girl doesn't automatically mean you're going to have children with her. I mean, I love Aqua deeply, but neither of us has any intention of becoming a parent. Certainly not yet. If you want my advice: get over yourself,” he echoed.
“What?” Octa frowned.
“You're rejecting Toxica based solely on the belief that you're better than her. But you believe you're better for reasons entirely outside of either of your control: your ancestors. Isn't how a person lives far more important than how their ancestors did? Didn't you yourself tell me the first time we talked about this subject, when I was just a little Eevee-cub, that if someone isn't well-bred it simply means they'll have to achieve greatness for themselves? Look at Toxica over the past year, and tell me she hasn't acted at least as great as your ancestors would've done.”
“My dear fellow, this is not up to me! If it was my decision, then yes, maybe I would agree that there should be an exception to the rules in this case, for Toxica might indeed make a valuable addition to our house. But it's the decision of my family.”
“Octa, they have no right to decide that for you. It's your life, not theirs. Besides, you agree that tradition, or rule, or whatever it is needs changing, don't you? Well, it will never change if you keep propagating it. Then your family will continue acting like your great-aunt.”
“But, my dear fellow, traditions and rules are important.”
“No. Don't let yourself be bogged down by traditions and rules. If you do something simply because your ancestors did that as well, then the same mistakes get made every generation! And rules are only good as long as they help justice. The moment a rule is useless or causes injustice, it should be discarded.”
“But I can't simply change the rules, my dear fellow! Not on my own.”
“I'm sure change always begins with one person. One person who realises things could be better, and proceeds to make them better. Be that person, Octa. Your family might be angry at first, but eventually I'm sure they'll change their rules. Let me ask you something important: how much do you love Toxica?”
Octa smiled. “Ah, quoting my own rhetoric against me, I see. Very clever, my dear fellow. You have given me a lot to think about,” Octa said as he gave Boreas a hug.
“Right,” said Boreas. “That's good. Uh, Octa, would you mind getting off me and letting me get up?”
True. I removed that part on my comment for the previous chapter.
I didn't feel like bringing it up again...
Though their little 'smooching' made me smile, considering they'll be having little Eevees sooner or later... xD
Anyway, another great re-read.
I'd rather roll back down to where I came from... =/
Selene...is giving me the same headache as trying to read 5 words per second on Elesa's speeches... x,x
Octa loves Toxica. o.o
Now I really wish she turned into a Bellossom, so at least she could look a bit lovely, but meh.
I love Boreas' and Octa's friendship.
Reading about it makes me miss my own bestfriend.
Sorry to disappoint you at that point, but they won't. After all, in the current situation, with both of them on opposite sides and often coming in danger, it would not be very ethical of them. Plus, neither of them is ready or cut out to be a parent. Now, I can sense a question which I'll probably get: "But how does a pokémon prevent cute little Eevee cubs from resulting from making love?" The answer to that is, of course: "I don't know, and if I asked them the answer they'd give me would probably be: "Mind your own business, you nosy bastard."" So, in short, I don't know and don't really want to pay it too much attention; but they do have some way of preventing them. Considering the vulnerabily of gametes to temperatures above or below body temperature (if you're male, working with a laptop actually in your lap already causes a significant drop in fertility due to the increased temperature down there), maybe using an ice-attack or Scald (for which they heat up and cool down their bodies) actually leaves them temporarily infertile for a few days. That is my best guess, but substitute any other explanation you like.
Chapter Forty-Nine: Ice Mask
“What in the name of Arceus' balls is that thing?” Boreas wondered as he looked down to Icirrus and saw the city was dominated by the most bizarre piece of architecture he had ever seen.
“Methinks 'tis Dragonspiral Tower,” said Octa. “Such a foolish name.”
“Foolish name? More like foolish design. I mean, those two parts of the tower look a bit like dragons and they spiral around each other.”
“My dear fellow, that is not a spiral, but a helix. A double helix, to be precise. It has absolutely nothing to do with a spiral.”
“Maybe the people who named it didn't like how 'Double Dragonhelix Tower' sounded?” Boreas suggested.
“Or maybe they were fools who did not know the difference between a spiral and a helix.”
Boreas felt as if this was at least partially directed towards him. “Hey! Just because someone doesn't know the difference between a spiral and a helix doesn't mean they're a fool! The only fool is whoever designed that thing. It doesn't look as if it should be able to stand at all.”
Quibbling about this, they descended to Icirrus. It was a small and grassy city on a plateau, two kilometres above the ground. The tall Dragonspiral Tower was by far the most impressive landmark of the city; it started at the ground as a plain grey, cylindrical tower. About a third of the way up to the top, it split into two towers; a black one and a white one. The two semi-towers twisted around each other five times in a double helix before reuniting to form a shared, grey top which was decorated with statues of dragons. It was an amazing and otherworldly piece of architecture and it looked nearly impossible for the two spiralling semi-towers to support the large top. Many people, when first seeing the tower, thought its architect must've been very drunk when he designed it. They were wrong, of course, as the fact that a tower with this design had still managed to remain standing for fifteen hundred years.
“...And then, my lord N, your perfect world will finally be reality,” Ghetsis finished his explanation.
“But...” said N, “won't everyone just release their pokémon if I defeat the Champion with Zekrom and tell them to?”
“Oh, no no no,” spoke Ghetsis, “the wise and the good who are simply misguided will do so, of course. But many humans are evil and selfish, my lord. They will not listen to you, even with Zekrom at your side. They will need the extra pressure our plan will put on them.”
“He's right,” said Diego. “You know humans can't be trusted. Um, present company excepted, of course. The evil and selfish humans will keep holding on to their pokémon unless we give them the choice to release them or die.”
Hearing the Sages' plan had given Aqua the creeps. Her distrust of the Sages was only made worse because Ryoku was one of the three Sages explaining the plan. She didn't know too much about Giallo or Ghetsis, but Ryoku had tried to execute Boreas and his friends without any provocation at all, and actually succeeded in killing Capella. She hadn't known the Dratini very well personally, but Boreas had been very attached to her. And it wasn't as if Giallo and Ghetsis were innocent angels either: from what Boreas had told her Ryoku had acted because the Sages had all decided to kill them together. “No, he isn't,” she said, turning all heads to her. “Declaring war on all trainers and killing those who don't agree to release them? That's despicable! I thought the plan to release Zekrom would result in few casualties, or I wouldn't have joined it in the first place! We can't just kill everyone who disagrees with us!”
“Aqua has a point, Ghetsis,” said N. “Killing lots of people to bring my perfect world about seems wrong, somehow...”
The three Sages laughed. “Don't worry, my lord,” smiled the skeleton-like Ryoku. “It's simply a bluff. The number of people that will actuarry have to die will be low. When they see our resolve to free the pokémon is large enough to kill them for it if they continue their evil practises, it will frighten them. They will fear for their rives, and won't not keep enslaving their pokémon if doing so threatens their own lives. So they'll release them. Because the good, brave trainers who are simply misguided and might actually be brave enough to resist us will recognise Zeklom's power and authority and release their pokémon when you command them.”
The massively fat Giallo nodded, making his various chins wobble under his sweaty, moustached face. “Sì, our enemies are-ah weak and selfeesh, and weel fear for their-ah lives. Maybe a few of them weel be fooleesh enough to keep their-ah pokémon, and, sì, they weel die, and eet weel be a shame-ah they deed, even eef they were-ah eveel. But they'll be weeth only a few.”
“My lord,” spoke Ghetsis. “Can you really abandon all those poor, captive pokémon we have been fighting for, simply because a few selfish fools decide to stand in our way? Would you really let evil triumph, simply because they will put up a little resistance?”
“Well... That is a good point...” said N.
“Of course it is. My lord, have I ever lied to you? And if you will not trust me, I'm sure the Zoroark who raised you will agree with me.”
“But what if good people also refuse to release their pokémon?” Aqua interjected. “My boyfriend's trainer, for example, really seems to be friends with his pokémon, and he is a good person. My boyfriend has told me much about him, and I think this is really true. He'll never release his pokémon.” It was strange, but she somehow had the idea the three Sages understood every word she said.
“Your boyfriend,” Diego scoffed, “is a liar. Or he is deluded. His trainer is not really his friend, he is merely trying to convince himself of that, because he doesn't want to see the truth: he is a captive. A slave.”
“That's what I said to him when I first talked to him. But we've talked much about it since then... And I'm quite convinced that Boreas really is friends with Black. He won't release his pokémon, whether because N and Zekrom tell him or because these three bastards threaten to kill him.”
Diego scowled. “Don't call them that. They are wise, powerful humans with a great vision of the future. And yet you insult them, simply because your boyfriend told you all kinds of lies about them.”
Aqua arched an eyebrow. “When did you start worshipping the Sages?”
“I don't 'worship' them,” Diego growled. “I simply know who my friends are and who my enemies, unlike some others here who sleep with the enemy but insult and reject their friends...”
N interrupted: “Look, petty arguing isn't going to get us anywhere. While Ghetsis' plan may have sounded bad at first, a bit of explanation has really improved my opinion of it. If evil humans continue to stand in our way even when Zekrom is on our side and I become Champion, we will sadly have to get them out of our way.”
The Sages bowed for N. “You are wise, my lord,” spoke Ghetsis. “The attack on the tower will commence two hours from now, and it will be the first battle of the final war that will ever need to be fought. We will go instruct the grunts to their role in our plan, but unfortunately we seem to have forgotten to bring paper... Can we borrow your Zoroark for a while so he can use his illusions to help instruct the grunts? You know how simple-minded they can sometimes be, so we really need to give them visual information if we want this to go correctly.”
“Sure,” shrugged N. The Sages walked away, Diego following them.
“N,” said Aqua, “their plan feels very wrong to me... And I really don't think we should trust them. I told you about their desire for power...”
N smiled. “Aqua, you only heard Boreas claim they are doing this for power, but he is our enemy, much though I hate the idea. The Sages are on our side, and my perfect world will never be a reality without them.”
“I'm not sure whether it will ever be a reality with them.”
“Listen,” said N, “I know the Sages will sometimes use somewhat bad means to achieve their ends, but they are only human, unlike us. For humans, they are very good people. I know it feels wrong, but their plan is the right one, I'm sure of it. After all, as Ghetsis said, we can't abandon all those poor pokémon simply because some evil humans stand in our way.”
To Boreas' surprise, Nurse Ebola hadn't been able to find anything wrong with Selene. Though she had pointed out that this didn't necessarily mean there really wasn't anything wrong with the Murkrow, it still made Boreas suspect she had just been teasing him with the mad rants, and made him feel quite annoyed.
The Icirrus Gym was located at the edge of town, built in a cave in the mountain-side. A façade decorated with statues of ice-types had been built in front of it, and it was through that that Black and his pokémon entered the icy cold cave-Gym. The Gym contained big, frozen fields of very slippery ice and long, curving slopes of snow that looked great to slide on. Octa slipped when he set foot on the ice, but fortunately Boreas, whose feet were of course equipped to remain standing even on the most slippery ice, managed to catch him. “Careful, Octa.”
Gratefully leaning on Boreas, Octa managed to remain standing as they slid to the centre of the ice field, where a lone, masked figure in a blue toga stood.
“I accept your challenge,” said Brycen. “Since we both have a Glaceon, let's make this battle a duel between them.”
“Sure thing,” said Black. “Go, Boreas!”
As Brycen wordlessly threw a pokéball, Boreas realised with a start that the battle's entire success or failure now depended on him. After a flash of light, a pretty, well-kept female Glaceon appeared, her every hair gleaming in the light and her hair meticulously kept in the three-diamond hairstyle that Boreas had never bothered to maintain. Boreas realised with a bit of shame how scruffy he had to look next to the other Glaceon. So he was determined to try and compensate by acting as gallantly as possible. He greeted his opponent with a bow like he had often seen Octa do. “My name is Boreas. Good luck, and may the best Glaceon win!”
She nodded, though it was quite clear from her expression who she thought that was. Their Ice Beams collided in mid-air with an ice-cold flash. Boreas' opponent fired another Ice Beam, which Boreas quickly parried with a pulse of air, and then he riposted with an Ice Beam of his own, which she parried with an impressively quick Ice Beam.
Boreas tried to analyse the fight as they tried to hit each other with Ice Beam. She was clearly faster than him with Ice Beam, firing them in a rapid succession that he couldn't match up to. On the other hand, she didn't appear to know his parrying move which used a blast of cold to create liquid air... He really needed to think of a name for that. He decided 'Frost Concussion' would do for now. So she was quicker with Ice Beam, but he could use Frost Concussion. That left him on the defensive, though, as the move wasn't much use to attack with. If his opponent was constantly attacking and he constantly defending, he wasn't doing her any damage.
Realising his disadvantage was too great to win if the battle continued like this while parrying a constant onslaught of Ice Beams, he switched to using the weaker Icy Wind for his offence. It was not very powerful and unlikely to bother a fellow ice-type much, but at least she couldn't parry it with her rapid Ice Beams. An icy cloud of rapid winds emanated from him as he ducked under an Ice Beam aimed for his head. The cloud flew at his opponent. But she stopped her rapid barrage of Ice Beams and created an icy cloud of her own, much bigger and mightier than his, the winds inside it roaring with stormy power. His puny little Icy Wind was easily blown away by the massive Blizzard.
Then the tremendously powerful storm of snow and ice enveloped Boreas, despite his best efforts to blow it away. The cold was incredible, easily penetrating even his well-insulated fur and flesh and chilling him to the bone. He had no idea cold could feel so bad; normally it felt good or at most a little annoying to him; but in the Blizzard, so cold it rained drops of terribly painful liquid air, even he was pained by it. He dashed through the powerful winds to escape, and emerged shivering and covered with ice.
Now that he knew her advantage wasn't just her rapid Ice Beams, but also her mastery of Blizzard, he saw little way to win this, despite his own advantage of Frost Concussion. Even if he exploited that to its most, Blizzard was just too powerful and there was little point to trying to parry it. He ran up a slope to buy himself some time to think. He tried to play out several attack plans in his mind as he ducked under an Ice Beam from his pursuing opponent, and concluded that he stood no chance. Blizzard gave her an overwhelming advantage. Even if he managed to get into mêlée, where her advantage was less, she could probably weaken him with another Blizzard before then. So he had about seven seconds to master Blizzard himself. Unless...
Diego walked by Ghetsis, waiting for N and his other pokémon to safely be out of earshot. “Ghetsis,” he smiled, “it's a pleasure to see you again.”
Ghetsis smiled too. “And you as well, Diego. How are you?”
It had been quite amusing to Diego to watch his friend and the other Sages pretend not to understand a word of what the pokémon were saying in front of N. It was all part of giving the boy a delusion of grandeur and hide the fact that he was really Ghetsis' son, of course: Diego had always told N his ability to understand pokémon was unique and proved he was really a pokémon in human form himself. Of course, all it really took, like understanding any language, was spending a lot of time with the speakers and really trying to understand them. While Ghetsis and the other Sages didn't understand him quite as well as N, their understanding of pokémon speech, like that of many other pokémon masters, was quite good. Good enough to maintain their friendship, in any case. “I'm very well. After all, in a few hours we'll have won our greatest victory.”
“So we will,” Ghetsis nodded. “When Zekrom is ours and the war has started, victory is almost a certainty. Though there is one minor problem that could endanger our plans: N. If his resolve fails, he could use Zekrom against us and all could come to nothing...”
“Don't worry,” said Diego. “His weakness just now was simply the result of a slightly poor word-choice on your part. Talking about 'war', I mean. I taught him war was humanity's worst flaw; if you had used a different word he probably wouldn't have made such trouble.”
“Are you certain of that?”
“Of course. N is nothing more than a tool, created by you and fine-tuned and perfected by me. Like any other tool, he will do what he was made for.”
“I'm glad you're so sure,” said Ghetsis. “But what about the Vaporeon? She sounds like she is a bad influence on him. Leaving N alone with her seems like a large risk to take.”
“The Vaporeon? She is just a stupid little girl who I convinced to join us because her boyfriend is on the other side, and I don't like him. I rightly thought getting her to join us would lead to hilarious results. They nearly killed each other in a hilarious meltdown of their relationship, it was amazing. But now they seem to have settled their differences, and her resolve to separate humans and pokémon is not nearly as strong as it was. I don't think she'll be on our side much longer, so I'll make sure she doesn't influence N.”
Ghetsis nodded. “Get rid of her today. The battle will make for an excellent cover, and keeping her alive is too great a risk.”
Diego grinned at the thought of how Boreas would feel after he got rid of her. “I will. I'll do it out of N's vicinity and claim it was the trainers who killed her. That should definitely strengthen his resolve to continue until the very end, even if it were weakened.”
Ghetsis grinned. “Solving one problem with the other. Very good, I'm glad to see my trust in you is not misplaced. Good luck, Diego.”
“Thank you, my friend. But I won't need luck.”
As Boreas dodged and parried Ice Beams, he remembered another cave much like this one, except blazing hot and filled with flames rather than ice-cold. He had been just a little Eevee cub at the time, fighting in terror against the infinitely more powerful pokémon of Sage Rood who were trying to burn him to a crisp. He looked up at the ceiling and grinned slyly.
He parried a few more Ice Beams as his opponent followed him into the higher part of the cave, but kept retreating to lure his opponent right where he wanted her. She began creating another Blizzard, so Boreas used Ice Beam on a point seven metres above her, hitting a big icicle that hung from the roof. Boreas sprinted to his opponent as it fell. The impact interrupted her Blizzard and dissipated it immediately, so Boreas had a chance to pounce her.
He scratched and bit at his opponent, determined not to give her even a single moment to counter-attack him. But she still managed to, hitting him with an Ice Beam that felt like a knife of ice carving into his flesh. Powerful, ice-cold winds blew around them as they struggled. Boreas tried to control the air around them, because his opponent was trying to make another Blizzard. They fought both physically and using their icy powers, but while Boreas was at the moment at an advantage in the physical fight, he was rapidly losing control of the air around them, which blew faster and colder and attacked him. He grabbed his opponent and jumped back, letting her go right where he had stood before as he jumped out of the Blizzard, while at the same time suddenly turning his own control of the winds around, intensifying them instead of lulling them down, so his opponent was suddenly caught in the middle of her own Blizzard. She tried to calm the roaring snowstorm down, but while Boreas couldn't yet start one for himself, he could intensify it now that it was there. By the time his opponent managed to calm the Blizzard down, she was lying on the ground, covered in ice and shivering heavily. Brycen returned his Glaceon to her pokéball. “You have done-”
At that moment, an explosion rocked Icirrus.
You made me remember those reviews I read on fanfic. About them not having cubs, and the source of inspiration of the White Mountain's description.
Anyway, another great re-read.
So they can understand Pokémon language, but just hiding it?
Aqua's gonna be 'rid off'?
Wow, Boreas' won, but the tower exploded, it seems.
Remember, Brycen is a man of little words. He basically just assumes that if a trainer walks into his Gym like that, he's there to challenge him and there's no need for banter.
Incidentally, I drew a map of Unova based on the descriptions in my fic so far: http://fc02.deviantart.net/fs71/f/20...ap-d4p918u.png
Part Eight: By Inferno's Light
Chapter Fifty: Day of the Dragons
Icirrus' streets were full of surprised and frightened people and pokémon who had gone outside to gawk at Dragonspiral Tower, now surrounded by a veil of smoke. “Go back into your homes,” commanded Brycen as he and Black rapidly made their way to the other side of town. “Close your doors and windows, but don't panic. You will be alerted if there is any danger to you.”
Among the bewildered people of Icirrus, Boreas was glad to recognise a curvy blonde girl and a thin, black-haired boy. “Black!” said Bianca as she recognised his trainer. “What's going on?!”
“Bianca, Cheren,” Black greeted them. “We don't know, I'm following Brycen to help him deal with whatever it is. And if that is what I think it is, we could really use your help. Come on.”
Cheren grinned. “I'll gladly come with you and show both you and the Gym Leader how powerful I have become! I may have lagged behind you for quite a while, but I've gotten so much stronger in that time.”
Black grinned. “Glad to hear it, you'll need some extra power to defeat me.”
But Bianca was hesitating. “Um... I-it might be very dangerous... That explosion and all that smoke it made are giving me a very bad feeling...”
Cheren sighed. “Not this again. If you're going to be like that again...”
“Like what?” asked Bianca, angrily.
“Like a co-”
“Bianca,” Black tactically interrupted Cheren, “if you don't dare, you don't have to come with us. But we could really use your help. You're much stronger than you think.”
“You- you think so?”
“I'm sure of it. You defeated Skyla, didn't you?”
“She was very powerful. I could barely defeat her myself. You're strong, Bianca. And I'm sure your pokémon trust you. How is Oshy?”
“Great! He evolved to a Samurott a few days ago!” Bianca said happily. “I just returned my team to their pokéballs to protect them from dangerous things that might happen. I'll let them out again! Go, Oshy, Puppy, Munny, Pansy, and Wicky!”
Bianca's entire team; Samurott, Herdier, Musharna, Simisear, and Lampent appeared from their pokéballs as Bianca released them. Black's pokémon cheerfully greeted Bianca's, whom they hadn't seen since Nimbasa. Toxica seemed scared of Wicky the Lampent, while Selene seemed very interested in her.
“Honestly, Bianca,” sneered Cheren, “what's the point of giving your pokémon nicknames if you're going to be that unoriginal with them? Just don't bother with nicknames, like me.”
Brycen had finished instructing the citizens, so Black and his friends followed him to Dragonspiral Tower while Cheren too released his team; Emboar, Liepard, Unfezant, Simisage, and Boldore.
Boreas nudged Octa. “Hey, looks like Bianca and Cheren have already evolved their starters fully. Looks like someone has spent too much time worrying and not enough time training.”
“Be quiet,” said Octa with an annoyed frown.
By the time they reached Dragonspiral Tower, much of the smoke had already cleared, showing that a great hole had been blasted in the tower's base, like an entrance into the otherwise closed-off tower. They entered through the hole and found themselves in a large, semi-lit hall decorated with amazing statues and with bizarre, complex architecture. But the most important detail about the hall was the three humans and eighteen pokémon that surrounded the entrance. Boreas ignited in fury as he saw the murderers of Capella to the left; Ryoku the bearded skeleton in the green robes who had given the order, Tangrowth who had held her so she couldn't escape, Cradily who had fired the Hyper Beam that killed her, Lilligant who had distracted them so much Tangrowth had been able to sneak up on them, and their other companions Exeggcutor, Ferrothorn, and Shiftry. To the right Giallo, who looked a bit like a giant, moustached grapefruit in his yellow robes, stood with six powerful steel-types: Klinklang, Magnezone, Scizor, Lucario, Bastiodon, and, coiled up behind them and looking over them with metallic malevolence, an enormous Steelix. Finally, between them, stood Ghetsis with his team. It didn't seem he specialised in any type: he had Escavalier, Spiritomb, Bouffalant, Seismitoad, Eelektross, and, inside a standing swirl of water that was maintained solely by its own powers, a Kingdra. All twenty-one were grinning malevolently.
“Well, well,” spoke Ghetsis. “If it isn't the Gym Leader, Brycen; and Black.”
“Ghetsis,” Black spat, “what's Team Plasma doing here?”
“Didn't N tell you yet, boy?” Ghetsis laughed. “We're here to capture Zekrom! N is at the top of the tower right now, resurrecting it from the Dark Stone. And we are here for two reasons: first to prevent anyone from interfering with him, and secondly: to give all of you one last chance to liberate your pokémon.”
“You know the answer to that, Ghetsis,” snapped Black.
Toxica gasped. “This is it. The big battle Golurk talked about... Everything depends on us now; if we lose this, the world'll be Team Plasma's oyster, but if we win, we can stop them forever!”
Their opponents grinned even more malevolently. “Indeed I do,” said Ghetsis. “Which is why we prepared a little surprise for you. Giallo, if you please?”
“Osmio,” the fat Sage commanded his Steelix, “Screech!”
The monstrously huge metal snake opened its maw and emitted a sound like a quadrillion nails all scraping over chalkboards. Most of those present clutched their ears in pain. A moment after the Steelix stopped screeching, Bianca, who was the farthest to the back of all of them and still at the door, shouted: “They're attacking from behind! Dozens of grunts outside!”
Boreas cursed as he saw she was right: they were completely surrounded, Sages on one side and grunts on the other. Bianca and her pokémon turned around to defend against the grunts outside. “I'm sure you could probably defeat them,” Ghetsis grinned, “but that'd take time. Meanwhile, they nicely keep you all here so we can finally get rid of you.”
Terror struck Boreas like a mallet. They were trapped and would certainly die now. A single Sage was powerful enough, but the thought of taking on three at once seemed like suicide. Especially with Giallo's steel-types, and Ghetsis' pokémon having barely any weakness... He realised, at least, that he had figured out Ghetsis' speciality: pokémon with little or no weaknesses. That only made it worse: Plasma had a type advantage, outnumbered them, outflanked them, and they were just plain more powerful. Realising this was the day he was going to die, he looked Octa in the eyes, even more fearful to think that his best friend would die here as well. But he didn't see panic in Octa's eyes, but acceptance.
“I'm glad to die fighting side-by-side with a friend, my dear fellow,” said Octa with a smile that reminded Boreas of the smile Capella had given him before she sacrificed herself.
“W-well, I'd rather not die,” Boreas responded. “But you're right, if I have to, it might as well be fighting side-by-side with you.”
At that moment, all hell broke loose as the Sages attacked. The entire hall was an intense flurry of furious battle. Boreas immediately had to parry several attacks and dodge some others. Brycen's pokémon were using Blizzards to attack the opponents, so Boreas chipped in and helped make the air colder and blow harder. He saw Eelektross fire off a beam of electricity, and barely managed to parry it before it reached Octa's head. Octa had no time to thank him, as he was engaged in a blazing-fast battle with Shiftry and Escavalier. Boreas wished to help him, but he barely had a moment to spare to Ice Beam one of Octa's opponents because Lucario attacked him.
“Finally,” whispered N. “The Dark stone... Finally I will be friends with Zekrom and make my perfect world a reality... I have waited so long for this moment...”
The tower's uppermost room was also the most magnificent one. There were hundreds of statues of dragon-types; Diego recognised Dratini, Zweilous, Druddigon, Salamence, and many more; though there were also dragon statues he didn't recognise at all. And in the centre of the room was the Dark Stone, which was now brimming with energy as N touched it. The sounds of the fierce battle in the tower's base resounded even here.
“Excellent,” he smiled. “At last the world will be as it should be. Go on, release Zekrom!”
N held the Dark Stone in his hands and looked deep into it, and a pulse of power emanated from the stone, rocking the entire tower. “It'll take a while...” said N. “I need to communicate to Zekrom inside and make it recognise me as the hero. It could take quite long.”
“Hmm, that sounds dangerous; you could be disturbed by our enemies. I think I should go downstairs to make sure no-one gets past the Sages. Don't worry about me, just leave the moment you catch Zekrom, I'll easily find you again. Aqua, why don't you join me?”
“Sure,” she said as she followed him. Diego smirked, seeing the perfect opportunity to kill the stupid little traitor. He let her go in front with a courteous gesture, though he really did it so he could find the perfect moment to end her life while at the same time enjoying the view of her rear. As they walked through the maze of rooms that the top of the tower was, Diego reflected things really seemed to be going his way. In an hour, N would have captured Zekrom. Then soon, he would bring Ghetsis' plan to completion without realising it. They came into a large room where both the white and the black spiral staircase emerged. Each of the staircases was very broad, about five metres wide, and its stairs were made of marble that gleamed even after all these centuries. The staircases rotated around each other widely, each forming five full circles before they reached the tower's base. Considering the staircases and the walls around them were all that held the top of the tower up, they had to be very strong.
As they entered the long, white spiral staircase leading down, Diego wondered if he should just do it right here and beat Aqua to death on the stairs. Maybe throw her off them to see how far she'd roll? But, he realised it would be so much more fun to wait and kill her in front of Boreas. His grin became even wider as he imagined the look on the smug little Glaceon's face as he saw his great love die before his eyes... Diego could barely keep his laughter in at the thought that he would get to see his soul shatter before his very eyes. It would be hilarious, that was certain. It had already been so hilarious last time...
He remembered the day he had first seen the lone Vaporeon crying by the river while he was looking for pokémon to join N. Realising she would never be attracted to a Zoroark, and was more likely to be terrified of him, he had quickly used his illusion to mask himself as a Jolteon. He had started talking to her, to try and convince her to join N, and more importantly, to seduce her. When he had discovered, to his great surprise, that he had by chance run into Boreas' girlfriend his resolve to do both of those things had only increased, of course, realising how hilarious the results would be when Boreas found out. Unfortunately, he had only been half-successful. While he had convinced her to join Team Plasma, he had never managed to convince her to mate with him. Which was a shame, as that would probably have been even more crushing to Boreas, and of course it would've been quite fun to do. But it was too late now anyway; at least he would get to kill her before Boreas' eyes; that more or less made up for it.
Boreas jumped out of the way of Steelix's tail, which came crashing down like an avalanche of metal. The ground trembled when it was hit by the mighty steel-type. Boreas saw his chance and jumped on the metal tail, hoping Octa would realise he wasn't covering his back any more. The enormous metal snake lifted its tail back up, taking Boreas with it. He let go the moment it started slowing down, launching himself over the enemies. He landed hard on the ground behind them, but Steelix turned around before he could attack the Sages. The mighty steel-type wrapped its metallic body around him. He tried to attack it, but no attack of his stood any chance of harming the gargantuan metal-coated monstrosity. The edges of its steel armour sharply cut into his flesh as it squeezed tighter; he was being squeezed so hard he heard his bones creak, about to snap under the immense force. It wasn't even using any of its strength at all; the moment it'd do so, Boreas knew his bones would be ground to dust and his flesh and blood would be nothing more than a disgusting smudge on its armour. Steelix's enormous, grinning head looked down malevolently. It was hit by a few attacks, but nothing came even close to hurting it.
Suddenly an intense inferno of flames washed over Steelix, instantly heating its conductive metal armour up to temperatures so high it glowed red. Boreas screamed in pain as the steel touching him was baking his skin, but Steelix, who was of course surrounded by that same metal, was in so much more pain. It squirmed in agony and let Boreas go as it rushed for its ally Kingdra, desperate to get cooled down by its water. Boreas stood up, though his skin hurt badly wherever it had touched the Steelix and he felt bruised by its crushing grip. He looked up and squinted as he looked straight into the Sun, which had somehow entered the tower. But its light dimmed, and he saw it was it was not the Sun but a large, furry moth with six orange wings. “A Volcarona?” he said in wonder.
“Team Plasma!” said Champion Alder, who had just entered the tower together with Bianca, presumably having driven off the grunts outside. “That's enough. I will not let you continue this and break all the wonderful friendships between humans and pokémon!”
“Ah, Champion Aldel,” said Ryoku over the sounds of battle. “You are a powerful trainer, but so are we. You stand no chance against the three of us.”
Boreas saw Ryoku was right: Alder's pokémon seemed about as powerful as those of the Sages. His Bouffalant had locked horns with Ghetsis', both struggling to defeat the other mighty beast. His Volcarona flew through the hall, unleashing its blazing infernos on its enemies. Alder's other pokémon, a Druddigon, an Accelgor, a Vanilluxe, and an Escavalier, joined the battle as well. But there were only six of them, while the Sages had eighteen pokémon of similar strength. And the other pokémon, including Boreas, on their side were clearly less powerful than the Sages'. “Ha!” shouted Black. “With Alder here and your grunts gone, we outnumber you!”
“Black!” Bianca yelped as she told her pokémon to retreat from the battle and turn around again. “the grunts are back! I can hold them off, but there's a lot of them outside!”
“We can still win this, and end all this right now!” Black said determinedly.
“No,” Alder stated. “They're only trying to keep us away from N! Black, take your pokémon and go to the top as fast as you can! I'll take your place in the battle, and I'll try to create an opening for you!”
Alder's powerful pokémon all attacked Magnezone, Bastiodon and Spiritomb. Their line reformed, and Octa, Toxica, and Black managed to sprint through, joining Boreas on the other side. But Lucius nor Selene was anywhere to be seen as the line closed again. That is, until Lucius suddenly made a great jump over Seismitoad, a Honchkrow holding on to his horns and flapping her wings as fast as she could to extend his jump. He laughed as he landed and gave the Honchkrow a friendly smile. “Ha, beautiful, you crazy bird! Who'd have thought you'd ever be good for something?”
“Who indeed?” Selene asked, in a voice similar, but somewhat deeper than her old one. “And who'd have thought you'd ever give a compliment, if a backhanded one?”
As they ran away from the battlefield, up the staircase and through various corridors and chambers, Black and his other pokémon congratulated Selene on evolving. Lucius said, still smiling: “Well, who'd ever have thought you'd stop looking like a feather duster?” he said, referencing Selene's suddenly uncharacteristically well-kept and organised feathers. “Or that you'd learn to fly better than a chicken?”
“Well, who'd have thought you- Hey, look, it's Boreas' friend Aqua!”
Terribly mixed feelings filled Boreas as the person he loved most and the person he hated most stood next to each other, awaiting them and guarding the wide double spiral stair that led up. Suddenly the entire towered trembled with intense electric power. “Boreas!” Aqua yelped in surprise. “I didn't know you were here!”
Boreas smiled. “Fancy meeting each other again so soon, my love.” He said to the others: “Take the stairs; Toxica and I will fight Diego and Aqua here.”
“Me?” Toxica yelped. “But I'm supposed to do something really important in this battle!”
“Look,” Boreas explained as the other rushed up the white stairs, “I can't fight Aqua, no matter what. Octa is too powerful and too important a team member to leave down here; Black will need him upstairs. Lucius is weak to water. That leaves you or Selene, so- ARGH!” While explaining, Diego had suddenly rushed forward and slashed at his flank with his sharp claws.
“Hey!” snapped Aqua. “That's not fair! Let him finish speaking and be ready to fight you!”
“Now where's the fun in that?” said Diego as he tried to kick Boreas, who had already jumped away and Ice Beamed his loins. “Argh! I'll break every bone in your body for that!” Diego howled.
“You'll have to catch me first!” Boreas said as he rushed up the wide, spiralling black staircase to put some distance between himself and the enraged Zoroark. His enemy's heavy footfalls were very close behind him, so he suddenly jumped to the side instead of climbing on, making Diego suddenly trip and land hard with his face on one of the stairs. Seeing his chance, Boreas realised he could win this right now; he jumped on Diego's back, intending to chill his brain down with a continuous Ice Beam to the head and make him faint instantly like that. But he hadn't counted on the Zoroark's phenomenal strength: he was launched off his back as Diego jumped to his feet. He hit the side of the staircase hard, plummeted three metres down, landed painfully hard on the stairs, bounced off due to his great momentum, and landed back in the hall as a heap of bruised, groaning Glaceon.
“Are you alright?!” the two startled females, who were having a much more civil duel in the hall, asked.
“Argh, I'm fine...” Boreas groaned as he managed to get back to his feet. The stone stairs had scraped several patches of skin off when he had bounced on them, and he'd probably get deep bruises from them, but at least he hadn't broken anything.
“You won't be for much longer!” Diego's voice snapped out of the staircase. “Come here and let me finish this!”
Ignited in fury, Boreas rushed up the stairs, seeing Diego waiting for him after half a rotation. He Ice Beamed the Zoroark immediately, aiming once again for his vulnerables. But Diego was expecting it this time, dived under the Ice Beam, and landed on top of Boreas. The stairs were painfully digging into his back as eighty kilos of Zoroark pressed on the other side. Diego grabbed his head and smashed it into the stairs with an impact that resounded through Boreas in pain. His vision went all kinds of colours and rotated madly; he heard bizarre, otherworldly noises as he felt blood dripping down his neck. He was very nauseous and dizzy, and in severe pain. But at least Diego got off him. After a while, his senses returned to normal, though he still lay on the stairs, panting in pain.
“So,” Diego spoke. “If you're done already, maybe I should find another nice place to hang you up?”
“Argh,” Boreas groaned as he got up, momentarily feeling the back of his head. It was swollen and bleeding, but at least it didn't feel as if his skull was broken. “You really are a bastard, Diego. I had almost forgotten that. Thanks for reminding me.”
Diego, who was standing higher on the stairs, made a mocking bow. “My pleasure.”
Boreas Ice Beamed a point a bit above his enemy's head, so that when he got up from the bow it hit him right in the throat. He collapsed, gargling and clutching his throat. Boreas rushed over as quickly as he could and pounced his opponent, digging his claws into the much larger fox's flesh. He quickly charged up another Ice Beam to end both the fight and Diego's life, when a force like a battering ram hit his stomach as Diego punched him there, launching him into the air and over his head, landing higher up the stairs. He felt incredibly sick after the punch and the earlier hit to his head, and lost his lunch on the stairs; concerned, but not very surprised to see some blood in it too.
“Grr,” Diego growled softly, still clutching his injured throat with one paw and speaking hoarsely. “You realise this doesn't matter at all, don't you? N will soon reawaken Zekrom, and with just three pokémon your captor stands no chance at beating him. All you accomplish here is hurting yourself!”
Boreas fired a double Ice Beam, one of which hit Diego in the chest and left a frozen white trail there that made the Zoroark roar in pain. “And I'm finally giving you some payback for the hours you had me hanging by my tail!”
Diego stormed up the stairs, so Boreas retreated further up them as well, determined to stay out of his much stronger opponent's vicinity. A beam of darkness gathered in Diego's hands and fired at Boreas; he could only barely dodge it. Diego smirked. “I'm sure you think that hanging by your tail was the worst pain you've ever been in. Let me assure you: in a moment I'll far outdo that. I'll begin with breaking all four of your legs, so you can't even run away!” As Diego made a sudden dash up the stairs, Boreas Ice Beamed the stairs in front of him, which were now suddenly were slippery. Diego slipped as soon as he stepped on the frozen stairs. He made a spectacular twist of almost one hundred eighty degrees in the air and landed, face first, on the stairs. He groaned and kept lying there for a while. While Boreas felt a lot like just Ice Beaming his head now and ending the fight, Diego hadn't continued attacking him when he was in a similar state, and the idea of acting less courteous than Diego was not one he fancied. He did continue to retreat up the stairs, to put more distance between him and Diego.
Diego slowly got up; bleeding from his nose and mouth. He spit out two bloody teeth. “You'll beg me to kill you before the end,” he said. “I'll make sure of that. I'll tear your every appendage off your body.”
“Not if I freeze you to a lump of evil ice before then, you bastard!” Bores roared.
Boreas froze more of the stairs between him and Diego, but the Zoroark jumped over them in a great jump, suddenly standing in front of him. Boreas Ice Beamed Diego's stomach as his enemy slashed at him. At that moment, a massive roar echoed through the tower, which trembled as there was an earthquake, and then the staircase began collapsing.
Octa hurried into the majestic, simulacrum-filled chamber of gargantuan, one might even say Brobdingnagian proportions. The simulacri of various pokémon of the dragon-type seemed to have been created by a true master of the arts; their similitude to the pokémon they were based on was quite aesthetically pleasing. Yet the most impressive sight of the entire cavernous hall was the viridian-haired Homo sapiens holding a small anthracite-black stone. The intense power emanating from the dark mineral was felt by any creature in the room. Then, with mighty sparks of electricity, the stone floated from N's front limbs and into the air, engorging and taking on a draconic shape. Finally, Zekrom roared and the entire tower shook on its foundations. Octa could distinctly hear the sound of falling debris below him and fervently hoped the tower wasn't about to collapse and that his dear friends Boreas and Toxica hadn't been hurt or killed by the debris.
Neither N nor Zekrom moved, engaged in telepathic conversation. Octa realised what needed to be done. “We need to stop them, right now! We can still win this if we do!”
But as they rushed to N, his team blocked the way, a pokémon made up of two large metal gears blocking his way as he drew his Leaf Blade.
Boreas focussed on not getting hit by the falling stones. The intense tremors had taken their toll on the tower's bizarre architecture: the two staircases that spiralled around each other were rapidly losing integrity. Large parts of the roof had caved onto the stairs and the walls had mostly fallen off, pretty much leaving Boreas on a spiral staircase in the open air now; with the ground very far beneath and a very heavy stone top above him that looked less and less supported by the two spiralling stairs. Fortunately the white semi-tower that contained a staircase had remained more or less intact; it was mainly the black one that was deteriorating fast. The Sun was setting in the valley between the mountains, colouring everything red. Suddenly something very heavy fell on top of him and crushed him into the stairs; but it wasn't a part of the ceiling but Diego.
“You bastard! Don't you see we have better things to do than fight right now? We need to get the hell away from here before these stairs collapse too, or the tower collapses, or the parts of the stairs above us collapse and fall on- gak!”
Diego's powerful claw grabbed him around his neck, lifting him up by it. “First I'm going to end this. Any last words before I throw you off the tower?”
Boreas tried to articulate: “Yes: I learned Ice Beam,” but the powerful hold Diego had around his neck prevented that. Instead he just fired an Ice Beam from his forehead to Diego's, making the Zoroark curse in pain and drop him, nearly off the tower. Boreas managed to stay on the stairs and jumped back as Diego threw his crushing weight almost on top of him. But, while he managed to avoid Diego falling on top of him again, he couldn't avoid Diego grabbing one of his hind paws. He was lifted off his feet by the larger fox, who punched him in the face, making him bleed and feel like he had been run over.
“You're a very annoying opponent!” Diego roared. “This will stop you from running away!”
He swung Boreas over the side of the stairs, but kept holding him by his right rear leg. He laid it over the edge of the stairs, above Boreas so he couldn't see what was going on. But then he felt the pressure of Diego's large foot on his shin and realised with terror what he was about to do. “Please, don't!”
Boreas felt the pressure lift and closed his eyes in anticipation of the pain. The Diego's foot came down with great force. Boreas screamed in agony as the bones in his leg broke like twigs under the great impact as two loud snapping sounds sounded. He moaned in pain as Diego lifted him back up by his broken leg. He could barely even see, so overwhelmed was he by the pain. He was aware Diego changed his grab to his throat again. He tried to Ice Beam the cruel beast, but the pain just overwhelmed him and made that impossible. “Oh, did that hurt you?” Diego whispered. “You know, last time we fought, you did something quite painful to me too. Let me show you.”
Boreas howled in pain as a crushing impact hit his loins. “I wonder, what hurt more? That or the leg? Maybe I should let you try it again so you can be sure.” Another crushing impact send a wave of torturous, nauseating agony through Boreas' body. “Oh dear. I think if I do that a few more times you'll have to disappoint Aqua next time you two get together. Then again, you'll never get together, because I'm about to kill you both...”
“B-both?” Boreas groaned as he tried to focus on his enemy and not his pain.
“Yes...” Diego grinned. “In fact, I might kill her first. I'm having far too much fun to end your suffering right now. Mind the drop!” He tossed Boreas over the edge of the spiralling staircase. He landed with a very painful impact on the stairs one rotation and about seven metres lower, rolling down them still further. He tried to get up, to try to fight Diego, but he was in so terribly much pain that it overwhelmed his entire nervous system. After a while, he heard Diego's footsteps as he had walked down the entire rotation of the staircase. “Do you know what's so great about this?”
“Argh... We're both getting our cardio in for today?” Boreas groaned.
“I get to do my duty to Team Plasma and have enormous fun in the process.” Boreas felt even more pain as a kick like a sledgehammer broke some of his ribs.
“Leave him alone, you cruel bastard!” said Aqua's furious voice.
Boreas still could barely register what he saw, but his ears worked just fine. “So, you finally show your true loyalties,” said Diego.
Suddenly a veil of water surrounded Boreas. “Don't worry, you can breathe it, my love!” said Aqua. “It's Aqua Ring, it'll ease the pain and help cure your wounds!”
Though his instincts told him to hold his breath, he trusted Aqua enough to ignore them and draw a breath of the water. Aqua was right: it filled his lungs even better than air, and his pain was indeed slowly subsiding.
“My true loyalties?!” snapped Aqua. “My true loyalties are to him, and also to all pokémon in this world! But not to cruel filth like you! To think I thought of you as my friend!”
Though the Aqua Ring helped, Boreas was still in too much pain to even see properly, and he only heard the sounds of fighting. He longed to help Aqua and to save her from whatever death Diego had planned for her, but his pain took so long to lessen... But finally he thought it had healed enough that he might try standing on his good legs. Though it was very painful, he did manage it and stepped out of the Aqua Veil, only to see Diego just winning the battle by picking Aqua up and holding one paw at her neck and one at her hip. He had several wounds that were clearly burns from hot water.
“Don't take another step, Boreas, or I'll break her. And no more of your boiling water please, gorgeous, unless you want me to snap you like a twig.”
Boreas had no choice. “Diego, don't hurt her, please! Do to me what you want, but let her go! I'll kill you if you kill her!”
“You're in no position to make threats. I will do to you what I want, yes. But first I'll do to her what I want.”
“You're a monster!” said Aqua, furiously. “I've been an idiot not to see it!”
“Perhaps,” Diego said with a chilling grin. “But now it's too late. I'm going to kill you, Aqua. And then I'll kill your lovey-dovey. But, I'll make you a deal: you can enjoy the view from up here for a bit longer before I kill you, if you kiss me.”
Aqua spat in his face. “So that's how deep your depravity goes. AAA!” she screamed in pain as Diego bent her spine so far backwards it creaked.
“That was not very nice of you. And don't worry, I'm merely curious, not really interested in anything more after a kiss. You might as well indulge my curiosity and live a bit longer.”
“Aqua!” Boreas desperately said. “Please, do it!”
Perhaps picking up on the desperate idea in his voice, Aqua said: “Fine. Let's get it over with, you murderer.”
Diego eased the pressure on Aqua's spine and brought his face to hers. “Try anything, and I kill you.”
As Diego kissed Aqua, his attention wasn't on Boreas. Boreas picked up a large piece of debris, aimed it for Diego's head, and threw it. But at that moment, Diego broke the kiss off and saw the rock flying to his head. As Boreas screamed in horror, he bent Aqua's spine back. Several noises of something breaking hurt Boreas far more than anything else Diego had done. As the rock hit Diego's face and he staggered back, Aqua's limp body, twisted in a bizarre angle, fell on the stairs. Roaring in fury, Boreas ran up the stairs on three legs, all pain forgotten as he simply wanted to kill Diego in vengeance. He pounced the fallen Zoroark and Ice Beamed him in the head, intending to keep going until Diego died. But Diego grabbed his throat once again, stopping the Ice Beam, and lifted him up, staring at him with a demonic grin once more.
“This is the end of the road, Boreas. I'll send you after Aqua right now.”
“Let him go!” a new voice commanded. Boreas and Diego both looked in surprise at the lower parts of the stairs, where a Flareon, his collar flaring fierily with anger, stood. “Let. Him. GO!”
“And who might you be?” Diego sneered. “Another guest to my little party here?”
The Flareon pounced Diego, who was so surprised he dropped Boreas, who landed on the stairs. Confused, bewildered thoughts raged through Boreas' mind as he watched the Flareon fight his arch-enemy who had just murdered Aqua. While he knew Flareons were very strong, actually seeing one display similar strength to the much larger Diego in battle was quite amazing. Boreas enjoyed every attack the Flareon used on Diego and every howl of pain from the Zoroark.
“Bo... Boreas...” he heard Aqua whisper. He rushed to her immediately.
“Aqua... You're still alive? I-I'll get Nurse Ebola! Right now! I will-”
“No...” Aqua whispered with tears in her beautiful eyes. “Boreas, it's too late. Don't leave me... Please, I don't want to die alone...”
Boreas heard a scream of pain and saw Diego run up the stairs while the Flareon pursued. “No, let him go!” Boreas yelled. “Please, run down and get the nurse!”
The Flareon stopped and ran down. “Of course!” he exclaimed. “I'll get her right away!”
Boreas couldn't help his curiosity as he thought he recognised someone familiar in the Flareon's face as he passed by. “Wh-who are you anyway?!” Boreas exclaimed as the Flareon passed by.
“Don't you recognise your own brother?!” the Flareon laughed. “It's me, Zeph!”
“But...” Boreas stammered as he shouted after the Flareon who was now running down the stairs below him. “I saw you die... How?!”
“I'll tell you the whole story later!” the Flareon shouted just before entering the tower's base. “For now, I'll just say I was very lucky to be found by a very skilled Audino who managed to reanimate me!”
“Boreas...” Aqua cried softly. “I... I'm sorry for trusting him... If I hadn't, we could've lived together yet... But now I'm going to die...”
Boreas cried as he softly stroked her finned head. “No, you won't die. Zeph, or whoever he is, will get the nurse... Everything will be alright...”
“No... It's too late...” Aqua said as she closed her eyes.
“No, it's not! Don't close your eyes, stay with me! Don't leave me behind, please! Hang on to life for me!”
Aqua nodded softly as she opened her eyes again. “I'll try... But it won't help... But at least you're with me... I've been alone for so long... I don't want to die alone too. Stay with me until the end... And kiss me, while my lips are still blue...”
Boreas softly kissed her as he cried for her.
Octa was ducking underneath his metallic opponent's grinding gears advancing towards him when it happened. After lengthy telepathic communication with N, Zekrom roared and extended its wings as lightning bolts struck. N turned around to the pokémon battling his own pokémon futilely. “What do you think? Do you like the powerful form of the pokémon who appears before and fights beside the hero who will lead the way into the new world? Now Zekrom and I will head to the Pokémon League and defeat the Champion! This will be the last of the battles that hurt pokémon so much. A perfect world for pokémon alone, it will finally be a reality!”
N climbed on Zekrom's back as he returned his pokémon to their pokéballs. “Please!” said Octa. “I implore you not to do this!”
“If you want to stop me,” N said to Black as the tower trembled more and more and the roof began caving in, “you must become a hero as well! When Zekrom's counterpart, Reshiram, recognises you, we will finally be even, and then you can try to stop us!”
Zekrom emitted a pulse of power, making the collapsing roof explode outwards instead of falling inwards, and then it flew away. “Damn!” Black cursed. “We could've ended it right here if we had won!” The tower rocked dangerously. “...We'd better get out of this tower now before it collapses...”
They ran through the labyrinth of rooms, which now rocked dangerously as an ominous creaking resounded through the tower. When they reached the room where the two stairs came out, Octa saw to his horror that the black staircase, and its support to the tower with it, had completely collapsed, while the white staircase looked heavily damaged and about to collapse too now that it alone held up the tower. They rushed through the damaged staircase, which was missing its roof and walls for the most part. The tower swayed terrifyingly, as if the enormous, heavy top could come down at any moment. They rushed over the five rotations of the staircase and ended up in the base, where the stairs both ended up. None of the combatants were in the room, and Octa fervently hoped Boreas nor Toxica had been on the black stairs when they collapsed. They rushed down through the base's corridors and entered the hall where the Sages had stopped them. It was empty now, though it bore the marks of the battle. They ran out of the entrance that Team Plasma had blasted and continued running, wanting to put as much distance as possible between them and the tower as possible.
On a small hill nearby, Bianca, Cheren, and Alder had congregated with their pokémon.
“Boreas?!” Octa called as he rushed into the group, looking for his friend with a sense of dread. “Boreas?!”
But then his heart made a jump of relief as he saw Boreas, who was looking very bruised and roughed up and bloodied and clearly had a broken leg, as well as Toxica. Boreas and a Flareon were watching Nurse Ebola treating Aqua, who was lying there mangled and apparently with a broken back, but still breathing. Boreas embraced him when he joined them.
“My dear fellow, how is she?”
“Nurse Ebola says she has a chance of surviving and recovering...” Boreas sniffed, in tears. “We were so lucky the nurse was already in the tower to help the pokémon hurt in the battle at the entrance... I-I could've lost her otherwise...”
“Diego happened. To both of us.”
Octa looked back to the tower just in time to see it happen: the heavily burdened white staircase snapped at its third rotation. Because the tower was so big, it seemed to fall down in slow-motion. Only then did the sound of the snap reach Octa. The helical stairs ground against each other as the top fell down, the stairs breaking into a myriad pieces and releasing dust. The top rotated slightly as it collapsed, so it reached the base diagonally. Enormous clouds of dust erupted as it did so, obscuring most of Octa's view of the rest of the collapse, but he did hear the infernal sound a second later; a sound like the motions of the Earth itself as Dragonspiral Tower collapsed to a pile of rubble. Octa found himself thoroughly sad to see the end of such an ancient and odd piece of architecture and all the ancient art inside, lost to civilisation forever...
At that moment, every television and every radio in Unova was suddenly displaying the same message: “Attention, trainers of Unova. My name is Ghetsis, and I represent Team Plasma. Over the past year, we have endeavoured to make clear to everyone that the way humans treat pokémon is evil. We force them to fight our battles, we force them to do our work, we keep them locked up in little plastic balls... Yet these are intelligent creatures! Every single trainer is guilty of slavery! And it has gone far enough. Team Plasma has shown its good intentions by using only words, never force, to persuade you, and many have indeed seen the light and released your pokémon. I thank those that did. But there are still highly selfish trainers who have refused to release their pokémon, even after we opened their eyes! Seemingly normal people, Gym Leaders, even the Champion! But no more. This is the end. Team Plasma's king has befriended the legendary pokémon Zekrom and he orders you all to liberate your pokémon. We will not allow anyone to continue suppressing them. Team Plasma hereby declares war on everyone owning even a single pokémon. If you continue enslaving them, we will have no mercy on you. I will give every trainer a simple choice: liberate your pokémon, join Team Plasma, or die. Any trainer who doesn't liberate their pokémon will be considered an enemy from today on. So I implore you: do not cause needless death, especially not your own. Liberate your pokémon.”
I added you in my 'watchlist', and it was one big map, it filled my screen (if I zoom it, that is).
Also, I just notice a new chapter in fanfic.
I'll be reading that later on.
Anyway, I think you missed putting the "Chapter 50: -insert title here-" line.
But anyway, it's still a great re-read.
I remember when this chapter was still the latest one available on fanfic. It took me one and a half day to calm myself down. You really got me hooked in your FanFic!
Anyway, onto my comments~
Ah, Bianca and Cheren, finally you two caught up!
Sometimes, lies are needed to help someone, huh?
I feel as if it's still too early for that.
Wait, the battle started, but Boreas' isn't fully healed yet, right?
I don't like that fact...
Probably because you didn't add any detail about the distance between Boreas and Diego?
I love Flareons. <3
If Aqua's going to die, I'm going to kill someone that looks like Diego around here... >=(
The message Ghetsis aired is annoying. >=(
But...how the heck are they going to win against them if they have Zekrom? =(
That was only a week or three ago, I think. It's not much longer now before we'll have caught up and I can just post my chapters here as I write them. Also, it makes me very glad that I've got you hooked on the story.
Chapter Fifty-One: Dead or Alive?
Boreas' primary fear had been taken away after Nurse Ebola took him and Aqua to the pokécenter and confirmed she would probably survive and recover, though she was unconscious for now. With most of Boreas' fear gone, that left curiosity as his main emotion. The fact that his many painful bruises were rapidly healed by the pokécenter's advanced healing machinery, or that his broken bones were set and promised to be fully healed in five days, or that his concussion was cured all paled in comparison to the anticipation he felt to visiting hour. When it finally came Boreas was of course happy to see his friends, but he had mainly been looking forward to the mysterious Flareon's visit. Boreas couldn't believe his brother would still be alive, but even if the Flareon was probably lying, there was no denying that he was on Boreas' side, as he had saved both his and Aqua's life.
The Flareon cheerfully entered the ward with Boreas' friends. Boreas had to admit, the similarity to Zeph was uncanny. Of course, he looked different at first glance, as he was now a Flareon and eight times older than last time he'd seen his brother, yet the face looked so similar... “Hey, good to see you, brother! How are you and that foxy Vaporeon of yours coming along?”
“We're fine,” Boreas responded. “Thanks to you. Whoever you are, I can't thank you enough for saving us. But I'd like to know who my saviour really is. You can't really be Zeph. I mean... You died.”
The Flareon beamed. “Reports of my death have been exaggerated! Though only slightly.”
Boreas arched an eyebrow sceptically. “If you really are Zeph, tell me something only he would know.”
Zeph grinned. “You've changed. When we were cubs, you'd have been so happy at my return you would have embraced me by now.”
“Not good enough: most people grow less impulsive and emotional as they grow up. If you think you can fool me with cold reading tricks like a medium, you've got it wrong.”
“I hadn't started yet!” the Flareon's voice sounded familiar to Boreas, that was certain. Like someone he knew, yet different. “I was just remarking that you'd changed! If you want me to talk about when we were cubs, here it goes: I am the third-born brother of four; you are my elder by twenty-five minutes. Eurus is older than both of us; Notus younger. Our parents, who were named Spark and Flora, named us after the four directions of the wind. You were the first thing I ever saw; as you were examining my egg in curiosity when I managed to make an opening in the scale.”
“I've told all that to Octa; he could easily have mentioned it to others in the time since then, which could be how you know it.”
“The first time our parents let us go outside the burrow, the world outside fascinated you. You wanted to see all of it immediately, but Mum had to disappoint you by telling you you couldn't. And the night after that, I was woken up by Dad being angry at you for trying to sneak out to see more of the world. When you returned to our part of the burrow, you were crying and I comforted you.”
Boreas was quite astonished. “Okay, that is harder to explain... You certainly know a lot about my early life. But I'm not convinced; tell me more.”
The Flareon sighed. “About a week before the last time we saw each other, our parents allowed us to go into the forest alone. But instead of trying to find food, we just played. But our noise attracted an Ekans who nearly ate me; but you attacked it and saved me. But then it turned on you instead... And I ran away at first, because I was really scared, but I attacked it too and we both managed to escape. Realising how much trouble we'd be in if Mum and Dad ever knew, we promised never to tell anyone.”
Boreas was speechless. “I... Never told anyone... One final test: tell me the final things our family said to us before they died.”
“Eurus warned us about the monster, and swore he'd really seen it. Notus asked if he could come with us, and I said no. Dad told us to be careful and to be home soon. Mum...” a tear rolled over the Flareon's cheek. “Mum told us to run for our lives...”
Boreas embraced the Flareon from his bed, feeling his soft fur and fluffy collar brush against him. “It is you! Zeph, I missed you! How... How did you survive?”
Boreas thought Zeph smelt weird. But then, he had never smelt a Flareon's odour before. It did remind him of a familiar scent, but it was very smoky and stung his nostrils, making it hard to recognise his brother's odour. After hugging back, Zeph quickly escaped from the hug. “Sorry,” he said awkwardly. “I just don't like to be touched... It's nothing personal, just a sort of general thing... The old woman who saved me had rather old-fashioned ideas of disciplining and used to hit me when I was bad... Since then, someone touching me just sort of makes me feel uncomfortable.”
“Oh...” said Boreas. “That's awful.”
“Well, aside from that she was quite kind. No need to pity me, I'd just rather you don't hug me too often.”
“Okay, I won't,” Boreas smiled. “Now tell me: how can you still be alive? I saw you collapse, your throat cut! Or did I see that wrong?”
“You're right, my throat was cut, and I collapsed as I was suddenly in horrible pain and didn't get any more air. I thought I was going to die. A cut throat is no fun, Boreas. I tried to breathe though the blood loss rapidly made me lose consciousness anyway, but my blood flowed into my throat and into my lungs, making me drown in it. So I soon lost consciousness.
So imagine my surprise when I woke up; my throat in bad pain, but I was still alive. An old lady named Helen and her Audino had found me, probably mere moments after you found your own rescue. My heart had already stopped beating, but the Audino was so skilled he could not only partially heal my throat right there, but also reanimate me. They took me back to their home before the Zangeese returned. You can imagine how terrified I was, a tiny little Eevee cub, suddenly in a human's home, having lost his entire family. At least, that's what I thought; I didn't know you were still alive.”
Octa, who had been quietly listening to the exchange until then, spoke up: “Boreas was highly favoured by fortune as well: Black and I happened to be close by when we heard sounds of near running and fighting. Unfortunately we were too late to stop the Zangeese from cutting your throat, but I did manage to rescue Boreas from their claws. I am surprised this Helen still managed to rescue you even with an Audino, though. Black and I had to run for our lives as soon as we rescued Boreas from the Zangeese, hearing them return, or we would have buried you. Did they have to fight the Zangeese off or did they manage to rescue you before they returned?”
Zeph looked puzzled. “You know, I never asked them. The memories of that night were too painful to ask them anyway.”
Boreas had a thought. “What about Mum and Dad and Eurus and Notus? Are they...?”
Zeph shook his head sadly. “Aesclepius – that's the Audino – told me they had checked the burrow out, but it was empty. The Zangeese must've eaten them...”
Boreas sighed sadly. “Well, at least you survived as well, that's more than I'd ever thought... But how did you find me?”
“Well, at first I thought you had been eaten, like the others. So I stayed with Helen and Aesclepius, realising I had nowhere else to go. I stayed there for half a year, growing up slowly. But then, one day, while a terrible storm was raging over Unova, I was watching television with Helen when I saw coverage of a battle in Nimbasa. The people from the news had filmed a battle between a mysterious pokémon master and a trainer named Black. They showed his pokémon... And I saw a Glaceon who looked awfully familiar! I thought I had to be mistaken; yet I recognised your face and your eyes clearly, even if you had evolved by then. Then your trainer mentioned your name and that he had rescued you from Zangeese attacking your family on Route 1... And I knew my brother was still alive, evolved to a Glaceon!”
“Of course!” Boreas gasped, “I remember that battle! So that's how you found me? But how come you're a Flareon and not a Jolteon like you always wanted?”
Zeph suddenly looked very sad.
“Oh. I-I'm sorry, I didn't know-”
“It's alright, Boreas; I'll tell you. When I saw you on television, I wanted nothing more than to find you again. So I travelled to Nimbasa. I got lost several times on the way, but eventually I found it. But by then, you weren't there any more! So I tried to find out about you, and learnt about the Gym challenge and that people who took it usually travelled to Driftveil next. But you had left there as well already. So I travelled to Mistralton. But on my way there I had to go through Chargestone Cave. One day in there, in a room where someone had scratched the words “CAPELLA OF THE HOUSE OF DRACO” into a big stone-”
Boreas and all his other visitors gasped as they recognised that. “Capella?” said Boreas. “She was our friend, and she died in that cave...”
“I'm sorry to hear that. You're not the only ones who have lost something in that cave. A trainer found me in that room... I had had dealings with trainers before, of course; many of them would love to catch an Eevee. But this time, I couldn't run away, as I was in a corner in a cave...” A tear ran down Zeph's cheek. “I tried to fight, but the trainer's Venusaur was just too strong... It had nearly beaten me, and I knew once I'd been captured I would never be able to continue my quest to find you... But I saw a glowing stone stick out of the wall next to me... But it was a Fire Stone, not a Thunder Stone... I realised if I wanted to find you, I had to give up my dream of being a Jolteon and become a slow, ugly Flareon... Forever...” his voice trailed off.
“Oh, Zeph...” Boreas said compassionately as he tried to embrace his brother again, holding himself back when he remembered he didn't like to be touched. “That was very brave and noble of you. But look on the bright side: I'm sure you'll eventually like being a Flareon. I mean, Flareons may not be all that fast, but you're incredibly strong! And you've got cool fire powers and a fluffy collar, and-”
“Please,” Zeph interrupted. “Spare me the attempt to convince me this is a good thing; it's not. But I found you again, brother, so it was worth it. Now, tell me: what have you been up to?” he arched an eyebrow and grinned. “Particularly with that cutie I saved from the Zoroark, eh?”
Boreas blushed. Fortunately, his friends had already left, seeing that Boreas was only interested in Zeph at the moment, and gone to Toxica, who was in a different room as she'd gotten a severe concussion when heavy rubble fell onto her while she was fighting Aqua. “Well, it's kind of a long story.”
“Hey, I don't mind. I'd love to know what you've been up to.”
“Okay. Well, after you collapsed I...”
“Wow,” said Zeph when Boreas had finished. “What an adventure you've been through!”
“Heh, that was only a short summary,” grinned Boreas.
“Still, you've been through a lot. I mean, you've fought against villains, travelled to all kinds of places, got yourself a saucy girlfriend... Count me in.”
“In? In on what?”
“On the team of course, idiot. I want to join your adventure!”
Boreas shrugged, then grinned at the thought of his brother joining the team. “Sure, if you want to join I'd be glad to have you in the team. But it's a lot less fun to go through all those things than to hear about them.”
Zeph laughed. “Hey, don't worry. I'm quite tough, you know. It's pretty much the only good thing of being a Flareon. I mean, I am stronger even than that Zoroark! Next time, I'll get him for being such a bastard to my brother!”
“Be careful,” said Boreas. “You may be stronger than him, but you got him by surprise yesterday, after Aqua and I had already weakened him. He's not just strong; or I could've beaten him myself. He's also quite cunning and smart.”
“But not as smart as you. So, what's the worry? I'm stronger than him, you're smarter than him. Together he can't do a thing against us.”
“Alright,” Boreas laughed. “I won't worry about it. Anyway, just talk to Octa and he'll get Black to catch you if you want to be part of the team.”
Aqua opened her eyes the tiny bit she could manage and saw something odd: tiles. She didn't remember ever waking up to see such a regular pattern, and it filled her with apprehension. She knew there was one species on Earth which really loved these kinds of regular patterns... She tried to look around, but her head was held in the same direction by some sort of clamp. Tubes and wires were tucked into her nose and mouth, and something covered the top of her head. Terrified by all this, she tried to struggle out of the things holding her, but she was terribly weak... She couldn't even feel anything below her shoulders, and what was above it felt like it was made of yoghurt. Her breath became fast and ragged as she felt panic descend upon her, trying to escape.
Then the horrible visage of a human appeared just before her, saying something that she was too panicked to understand. Its big, flat, bald face's hideous pink skin reminded Aqua of pigs, while its cold, merciless eyes stared into hers. Its tiny, deformed ears were almost hidden in a mass of the only fur it had, which was a sickly yellow colour. As it spoke to her, its ugly red lips revealed small, stubby teeth underneath. The human was immense, about twice as large as her, and very close. She tried to scream in terror and scald the human's horrific face, but she was so weak only a whining squeal came out of her.
“Get away from me!” she whispered in terror. “Don't do this to me! Please... Let me go...”
The horrible human extended its spidery, long-fingered hand to her, and to make matters worse it was holding a sharp stabbing weapon. Aqua tried to back away, but it was impossible and the human found her neck. She felt a brief, piercing pain and then darkness enveloped her.
Aqua opened her eyes and saw something odd: tiles. She didn't remember ever waking up to see such a regular pattern, except in a half-remembered nightmare, and it filled her with apprehension. She knew there was one species on Earth which really loved these kinds of regular patterns... She tried to look around, but her head was held in the same direction by some sort of clamp. Tubes and wires were tucked into her nose and something covered the top of her head. Terrified by all this, she tried to struggle out of them, but she was quite weak and her rear legs didn't seem to respond at all, while her front legs were held in the same position by clamps.
But then she heard a voice that partially calmed her down just by its sound, a voice she considered incredibly sexy, though it wasn't really all that deep or masculine or rhythmic. “Don't be scared, Aqua,” he said.
Aqua felt reassured by the fact that Boreas was with her, but the situation was still very threatening. “Wh-where am I?” she whispered, as she was too weak to speak normally. “What's going on? What happened?”
“You're in a pokécenter, because you have been severely wounded by Diego. But don't worry, you're going to be alright.”
Aqua tried to get up and whimpered in terror. “I-inside a human building? I c-can't get up! Help me, my love, get me out of here! What did they do to me?! I can't feel anything below my shoulders!”
Boreas touched her head with his paws and stroked her finned ears, slightly calming her down. “Calm down, dearest, or they'll have to sedate you again. Listen to me, I know you don't like the humans, but they saved your life.”
Aqua tried to look at Boreas, but she couldn't move her head as it was held in place. “Wh-why did they do this to me?! Please, untie me! I-I can't move!”
“It's for your own good. Diego broke your back in several places. You're paralysed now because all nerves go through the spine. That's why you can't feel anything below your shoulders. But fortunately, the humans' incredible medicine can cure it, both the bone and your damaged nerves. But that will take them a long time, and meanwhile the regenerating nerves are very easy to damage. Even by just moving, you could damage them now. That's why they made it impossible for you to move.”
Aqua's breath was ragged with fear, not just at the thought of being so incredibly vulnerable to the humans who captured her, but also that her back was broken. That was a permanent injury. Yet, if Boreas said she would recover, she had to believe him. “I'm scared, Boreas... Stay with me and don't let the humans near me, please...”
As his paws continued stroking her head, his handsome face appeared in her view. His piercingly intelligent, cyan eyes reassured her and she couldn't help but admire the way his long, messy blue hair fell over his face as he looked down to her. “Don't worry, my love. I'll be in here with you constantly for the next few days while my own bruises, broken bones, and concussions heal. After that, I'll visit you as much as I can. But humans will have to come near you sometimes. When the nurse realised how much humans frighten you, she instructed the pokémon that work here to completely take over the care for you, but they can't operate on you. That'll have to be done by humans.”
Aqua whimpered in fear at the thought of a human cutting in her with a knife. “N-n-no! I-I don't want that! Anything but that! I-I'd rather die!”
The look on Boreas' face broke her heart. “Don't say that, my love. Please. What would I do without you? If you don't want to do this for yourself, at least do it for me.”
Aqua swallowed a lump of fear. “O-okay. If it's really necessary...”
“It is. Without these operations, your back will never heal.”
Aqua drew a deep breath to banish the horrid thoughts of humans cutting in her. “Okay... I'll let the humans operate on me, if you promise to keep an eye on them the whole time.”
“I don't think I'm allowed to be there when you're operated, love. Besides, I can assure you they can be trusted, and even if they couldn't, I wouldn't know the difference between cutting that heals and cutting that doesn't.”
Aqua shivered at the thought of humans cutting in her, much though Boreas reassured her. “I... I understand... I'm scared, Boreas... I know the humans are only trying to help me, but... Well, imagine if you were going to be operated by Zangeese.”
“I understand your fear, my love,” said Boreas lovingly as he stroked her ears. “But trust me, it's going to be alright. I swear it to you. In two months, your pretty blue back will be all better again, and you can go wherever you want and do whatever you want.”
“And whoever I want,” Aqua winked. But then she realised what he had said. “Wait, two months?!”
Boreas blushed in a very cute and attractive manner at her flirting. “Yes, I know it's a long time. Nurse Ebola says you'll be able to move your rear legs again in a few weeks, and you can go out in two months or so. It's very hard to cure a broken back.”
“Two whole months... I don't know if I can handle being with these humans for so long...”
“Please, be strong, my love. Do it for me. It would crush me if you died or became disabled forever.”
Aqua looked deep into Boreas' attractive cyan eyes and found some strength. “Alright. I'll be as strong as I can for you.”
Boreas startled as a large, feathery black thing fell into the hospital room through the open window. The the messy heap of feathers stirred and flew up onto his bed. “Oh, hi Selene. You startled me.”
“Hi, Selene,” said Aqua, still stuck in the same position in her bed. “How are you?”
“You should be careful with that window,” said Selene, “it might hurt someone. Uncle Istvan always used to say they were watching him, and look what happened to him...”
“Oh, what happened to him?” Boreas asked.
Selene nodded. “Indeed.”
A silence fell. “So, Selene,” said Aqua. “Boreas said you recently evolved to a Honchkrow. How does that feel?”
Selne looked stupefied. “I did?”
“Yeah,” said Boreas. “Remember? During the big battle in Dragonspiral Tower?”
Selene looked down at herself and nearly fell off the bed with surprise. “Waark!” she screeched. “I'm a Honchkrow! Who did that to me?!”
“Don't you like it?” asked Boreas, thinking of his poor brother, who was now forever stuck as a Flareon against his will.
“I think I do, actually. I wonder if Team Plasma will win the war now that so many trainers are releasing their pokémon,” she said, suddenly changing conversations with the speed of an Electrode rolling down Mt. Twist.
“Releasing their pokémon?” Boreas asked with concern.
Selene nodded. “It is all over the news. Lucius says they're all spineless heaps of Nidoran droppings that had better stay out of his way if they know what's good for them.”
“How many trainers released their pokémon?”
“Lots. And more every day. And others just disappear forever, often with signs of a vicious struggle... Then more trainers realise Team Plasma is serious, they get terrified and release their pokémon as well... It's one of them fiscal circles...”
Boreas saw the grim look on her face. “You're very worried about this, aren't you?”
Selene didn't answer, instead she stared at his face while she squinted and half-turned her head. “You know... If I was colour-blind, you'd look just like Einstein like this...”
“Do I?” Asked Boreas.
“Yeah. If you grew a moustache, the similarity would be uncanny if you squinted really, really badly and ignored the ears...” She looked at her wing as if she wore a watch there. “Oh, look at my wing, I've got to go!” she flew out of the window.
Boreas walked through the pokécenter's corridors. The leg was coming along very nicely, he had to admit. He could barely feel it any more. He tried to focus on that thought and not on Aqua getting operated. It was not much of a surprise that he wasn't allowed to be in the operation room, and Aqua had kept herself surprisingly well. Boreas' admiration for her bravery only made him feel even more scared for her well-being. The thought that something could go wrong with the operation and she could die was too terrible to think of.
“My dear fellow,” Octa greeted him. “I deduce from your evidently preoccupied and worried state, as well as the fact that you are walking aimlessly through these corridors that your dearly beloved is presently undergoing an operation.”
Boreas nodded stiffly. “Yeah. If everything goes right, it should help her nerves to begin their regeneration...”
Octa smiled. “Isn't science wonderful? A mere twenty years ago, a broken back could never be healed. Well, the bone could, obviously, but the nerves inside would be gone forever and paralysis would be permanent. Even a decade ago, Aqua would never have made more than a partial recovery. Yet now, she will be fully cured, and within only two months as well! I hope this incident will open her eyes to the virtues of Homo sapiens.”
“I merely hope she will open her eyes at all...” Boreas muttered.
Octa put a hand on his shoulder. “I apologise, my dear fellow, I do get a bit carried away sometimes. Evidently her survival would be your primary concern.”
Boreas smiled. “Don't worry. You're not the one who should apologise; Diego is. What kind of horrible person would do that anyway? Why does he hate me so much to try and kill Aqua and me?”
Octa shrugged. “Well, I guess it might be because you are a rather polarising type of person. People have a tendency to either love you or hate you.”
Octa nodded. “Indeed. There is very little possibility in between those two with you. Evidently Diego hates you. While I, for example, I...” his voice trailed off.
“You?” asked Boreas.
“Well, I don't.”
Boreas smiled. “Thanks, that really means a lot to me.”
“And that's from the heart. I really do... not hate you,” he scraped his throat. “The reason I came here was because I received a message from my family. In light of recent events, they want me to return home temporarily.”
Boreas turned around with a start. “They want you to return home? And what recent events?”
“Indeed they do, though temporarily. The recent events I would assume they mean are Team Plasma declaring war and trainers and pokémon all over Unova mysteriously disappearing.”
“But... What about your ancestors who all did great things?! I didn't think your family would want to keep you safe when you have a chance to really change the world for the better.”
“You misunderstand, my dear fellow. If my hypothesis is correct, they are not doing this to keep me safe; but presumably their reasoning is twofold: first of all pokémon breeders are likely to be attacked once more, and therefore I would be useful in my home's defence whilst still performing deeds worthy of the name Equinox; and secondly, while they would never want to stifle me, my death would currently be a severe loss for our house, as I have not produced offspring yet. Therefore my suspicion is that they discovered a mate for me. Considering there is little we can do otherwise until the Light Stone's location is discovered, I wish for you, my best friend, to accompany me, both to fight by my side and as my best man.”
Boreas was a little overwhelmed. “But... You love Toxica. You don't even know who your family chose as your mate! You can't let them go through with this!”
“It is customary to thank for the honour,” said Octa, sourly. “And I intend to go through with this. Whether or not I am attracted to Toxica is irrelevant: I am of the house of Equinox. 'Tis my duty to my ancestors and descendants to take the mate my family chooses for me.”
“No, it isn't!” Boreas snapped. “Suicune's shite, Octa, we've been over this two weeks ago! I thought I'd made some progress then, but here you are, proving it just bounced off your skull! Don't you realise Toxica would make an excellent addition to your house? Did you forget my entire argument about why you should change the rules?!”
“My dear fellow, please. These are hard, dangerous times, and the last thing my family needs now is to be split up over an issue like this. If these were easier times, then I would perchance attack the rules and endeavour to set a new precedent. But what my house needs now is to stand together as one.”
“So that's it. Simply because Team Plasma declared war, you're going to throw your happiness and Toxica's away? You're a coward.”
“WHAT?!” bellowed Octa.
“Yes, a coward. You let your fear overwhelm you and force you into not doing what's right! You consider yourself a highly logical person, but where's the logic in this?”
Octa sighed. “I have heard your arguments. But my decision stands. I take the train back this afternoon. I have already told Black. Do you wish to accompany me?”
“I promised Aqua I would stay with her, and I intend to.”
“I understand. But it is a true shame; I would have loved to have you present. That does present me with the problem of whom to take with me if not you. Black couldn't understand a word that would be said, and Selene... well, she couldn't either, and I am not too fond of Lucius...”
Toxica looked at the great mansion of Octa's family ahead. It had been very nice of Octa to invite her to come visit his family together with him. He had been very nice to her in general since the night when he had admitted his feelings to her and Boreas had talked to him. She still couldn't forgive him for everything, but it did make her feel a lot better. Though she had noticed, all through the trip,that Octa seemed preoccupied, even worried. She decided to ask him about it.
“Octa, is something wrong? You seem worried.”
“Oh no, nothing is wrong. I am merely looking forward to seeing my family once again.”
“Look, you can share it with me, whatever it is. I won't mind.”
“I suspect you will,” muttered Octa.
Toxica would ask him what he meant, but they had already reached his family's home. Toxica remembered the instructions Octa had given her and greeted his every relative with the same deference and honour. Finally, after they had greeted every on of his relatives, Octa's father, Lord Publius Cornelius – a stately, noble Serperior with a purple, plume-like leaf on the top of his head and with large, curly collar-like extensions on the side of his neck– happily beamed at his son.
“Octa, my son,” he spoke in a rich voice that reminded Toxica a lot of Octa's. “You have truly grown up well. Look at you, you're truly worthy of the name Equinox.”
Octa bowed gratefully. “Thank you, Father. 'Tis all thanks to your education and training that I am who I am today.”
Lord Publius continued: “Not only have you grown up very well, you have also gone through your evolutionary metamorphosis and become a Servine. I believe you shall soon go through another metamorphosis and become a Serperior I can be even prouder of. Yet, my dear son, in light of your incredible progress as a person, I believe it is only the more clear that you are still lacking something: an equally admirable companion.”
Octa didn't say anything. Toxica realised now why they were here, and she felt horrible about it. She felt furious towards Octa for inviting her to let her witness the moment when she would lose him forever. But she also saw an uncomfortable tension in Octa's handsome face, and realised this was her last chance. If she spoke up right now and told his family about their feelings for each other...
“B...” she said, as she saw Galaxia's powerful stare aimed at her. She felt incredibly self-conscious, and wanted nothing more than to stop talking, in fact leave right away. But she realised that would ruin her chances of being with Octa forever. She took a deep breath and tried to ignore Galaxia's relentless stare.
“Bu...” her voice trailed off after a single extra letter when a gorgeous blue Servine entered the room. Her entire form had an almost angelic beauty, her gleaming scales and leaves were coloured a pure, almost translucent sapphire. Her lithe body moved with a finesse that made Octa look like a primitive brute by comparison, and her deep emerald eyes seemed to shine with starlight.
“My son,” beamed Lord Publius, “it is my great pleasure to introduce you to Aurora Invicta of the house of Quintillus. Aurora, I present my son Octavianus.”
The gorgeous Aurora made a courteous, elegant bow to Octa. “It is truly a pleasure to meet you, son of the house of Equinox,” she said in a voice that would lead nightingales never to sing again in jealousy and develop severe drinking problems.
Toxica realised she had been staring blindly at the new arrival for a while now, fixated on her beauty and elegance. She woke herself up from her reverie. If that was the effect Aurora had on her, a female, Octa would be captivated without any hope. A single look at his mesmerised face as he greeted her confirmed that thought. Her heart sank into a black well of despair as she realised she was absolutely chanceless against such beauty, such elegance, and such finesse. Her eyes caught great-aunt Galaxia doing something she hadn't seen her do before: she smiled.
This gave me the shivers... x,x
Zeph joined the team! Yay!
But uh...Black isn't really working on the PokéDex no more, huh?
Strangely, the only POKéMON he only 'caught' from the 'wild' is Lucius, while the others, 'cept for Octa, joined him on their will. =/ (no idea about Selene though)
Not that it's a bad thing, but Black now has two fire-types.
this really made me laugh out loud, and I hate you for that.
everyone around me thought I went nuts, 'cause I broke the silence here. xD
Aw, I feel really bad for Toxica.
Another great re-read.
No action, but it's not bad.
Keep at it~
I toned down the original description I had Zeph give a bit, remembering how some people thought Capella's death was too graphic.
Heh, apparently Octa isn't quite comfortable using the word 'love' in conjection with his friendship with Boreas.
Chapter Fifty-Two: The Calm Before the Storm
Boreas was beginning to think teaching Aqua chess had been a big mistake. He had figured that since she was now allowed and able to move her upper body, though her rear legs were still firmly paralysed, teaching her the game would keep her from getting too bored. She had turned out to be a natural, already beating him though he'd thought her only three days ago. At least, that was what it looked like at this moment. Boreas was not very good at chess himself, lacking the patience to plan his moves out in advance. When he played with Octa, the Servine usually managed to beat him. But losing to someone with three days of experience would be a bit sad.
Yet that was what it looked like right now. He had lost a knight and a bishop quite early, but then things had calmed down for a while. But then, during a big exchange of pawns, Aqua had managed to land her rook on the second row, right between Boreas' pieces. And there seemed nothing he could do about it; the powerful black piece just sat there between his white pieces while he was at a big disadvantage with less material.
“Give up yet?” Aqua grinned. “You know I'm going to beat you.”
“Nonsense,” Boreas stammered. “I can still win this!” Things were dire, though, with Aqua's rook right in the middle of his pieces, while his queen was caught up on the side of the board, holding off an attack.
Aqua chuckled as he made his move and she took one of his pawns. “I like this game.”
“What, my darling Aqua liking something humans made?” Boreas teased as he attacked the enemy rook in his ranks, forcing it to retreat. “What has the world come to?”
Aqua quickly retreated her endangered rook, but she still had a great advantage. “Just because I don't like humans doesn't mean I have to hate everything they made. I like this game, just like I like the fact that they can heal my back. I just don't like them.”
Boreas couldn't resist pursuing this, while it was clear he was losing more and more, losing several pieces rapidly. “You know, if Team Plasma succeeds in separating humans and pokémon, pokémon won't get to have these benefits of living with humans any more. No more chess; no more medicine. To say nothing of friendship and all the other reasons pokémon stay with humans.”
“But neither will they have to be pushed around by human taskmasters or have their freedom taken away by captors. You're a lucky one, Boreas, to have found a trainer who is friendly to you, but many pokémon are not so lucky to have found an exception. Most humans are horrid. Look at the ones who murdered Lothario. Look at the humans who pollute nature and let their cities expand endlessly. Look at all the humans who think only of money and power and will do anything to get more, even at the cost of lives. Look, even, at Team Plasma's seven Sages. Good humans are the exception.”
The game was really going bad for Boreas. His pieces were heavily outnumbered, and he was attacked from all sides. It would not be long now before his king would be checkmated. “You're wrong, Aqua. The good humans aren't the exception; the evil ones are. Yes, there are truly despicable humans; villains and egotists and horrid self-centred money-lovers, but most of them are not like that. Most of them are kind and basically decent people.”
“I wish I could share your faith in them, but I don't. That's why I'm going back to Team Plasma after I heal. I hope you understand.”
Boreas looked into her eyes. “I didn't expect otherwise. Though it would be great fun, being on the same side for a while. We could spend every day together...”
Aqua giggled. “We already are spending every day together now, love.”
“Yeah,” Boreas winked, “but with your back broken and people walking in and out of the room all the time we have to play chess instead of games that are more fun.”
Giggling, Aqua moved a pawn, getting very close to checkmate now. “It's a good thing you're better at those games than at chess, my love.”
But Boreas saw she'd made a mistake that allowed him a single possibility of a surprising victory. With a grin, he took Aqua's rook with his own rook. Next turn, he sacrificed it to let him checkmate her king. “Checkmate,” he declared with a grin.
Toxica entered her guest bedroom. She closed the door, let herself fall onto the soft, warm bed and finally dropped the mask she'd hidden behind all day. The tears of rage and betrayal that had stung behind her eyes every time she had seen Octa laugh at something Aurora said, or when he had looked at her finally streamed over her face. She sobbed in the mattress, furious at everyone in the mansion, including herself.
How could she have ever been so arrogant to think she'd stand a chance with Octa? She was nothing compared to Aurora. Aurora was so incredibly graceful and elegant and beautiful; her every movement and word made it obvious Toxica was nothing next to her. While she had never considered herself anywhere near ugly, it seemed as if the very essence of beauty and grace had been caught in Aurora, as if a clear, starlit night with all five moons out at once had turned into a single gorgeous creature. While she realised deep inside that these thoughts were perhaps a little overdramatic, she thought with a sob that Aurora wasn't merely beautiful, it was more like every single beautiful thing in the universe was a pale reflection of Aurora Invicta. And to make matters worse, she was a shiny pokémon. Toxica had heard of the alternatively-coloured shiny pokémon, of course, but never actually seen one; only one in eight-thousand pokémon was shiny, after all. It made Aurora even more special: a gorgeous, elegant, shiny Servine of highly noble blood. By contrast, Toxica was just some Vileplume. Toxica would bet anything Aurora had never cried in despair like this, nor would she ever need to.
Toxica was certain she was going to lose Octa now. Aurora was just too perfect. Even aside from her incredible beauty and elegance, she was very friendly and charming and nice, and so much more. Everyone, especially Octa, had taken such a great liking to her. Even Toxica begrudgingly had to admit that if it wasn't for the enormous jealousy she felt against the gorgeous Servine, she would probably like her a lot as well. Octa's family was clearly enamoured with the idea of having Aurora as their daughter-in-law, while most of them merely tolerated Toxica's presence because she was Octa's friend.
Hah, “friend” indeed, she thought bitterly. I want nothing more to do with 'im. I've had it. He knew what was going to 'appen when we got here, that's why he was so nervous all the time. He deliberately took me with him so I could see the moment when I lost him forever with my own eyes! Evil, smug bastard, I hate him!
She heard a soft knock on the door and startled, realising her eyes were red and swollen from the crying and tears still streamed down her face. “J-just a moment!” she said, trying to keep her voice from breaking. She wiped the tears away from her eyes and adjusted her flower in such a way that it obscured her eyes from whoever was going to come through the door, as she sat down on the bed. “E-enter!”
The door opened and she saw the underside of an elegant blue serpentine body. “I came here to apologise to you,” a beautiful voice said.
Toxica looked up in surprise, seeing the gorgeous, sapphire Aurora stand in the door. Then she remembered herself and looked down again to hide her red, teary eyes. “I-I don't know what for, milady,” she sobbed, cursing herself for how much it sounded like she was crying.
Aurora ignored her words. “I realise how much Octa must mean to you. He told me you have travelled together for over a year.”
“What more did he tell you?!” Toxica snarled angrily.
“Nothing pertaining to your emotions, I can assure you. But they were not difficult to infer from your behaviour. Since you evidently feel very strongly for him, I feel I must apologise for taking him away from you.”
Toxica really had to hold herself back from using powerful poison attacks on Aurora. She looked into Aurora's eyes like two emeralds, seething with anger and not caring about protocol or courtesy any more. “Oh, you apologise; that's great. You're gonna marry the love of my life, but it's alright, as you apologised to me!”
Aurora's expression remained fairly neutral. “This is not my choice. It is quite simply the tradition of out houses; even a rule, one might say. However, on occasion rules have been breached. Since you evidently feel so strongly for Octa, I shan't be offended if he chooses to reciprocate your feelings and choose you instead of me, In which case I shall consent to have the plans for our union be suspended.”
Toxica wished Aurora wouldn't be so compassionate and friendly to her. It would be so much simpler if she could just treat her horribly and she could hate her gorgeous guts in return. With a shock, she realised Aurora was actually doing her a favour, and now she had to thank her greatest enemy. “Thank. You,” she spat. “Not that it will matter a pair of dingo's kidneys anyway; there's no way he'll choose me over someone as perfect as you.”
“I disagree. He seemed to talk quite a lot about you today and glanced at you several times, which both seem clear signs of romantic interest to me. 'Tis clear to me he is quite attracted to you; he merely needs to decide whether his priority lies in his duty to his family or his enamouration towards you.”
“Nice try,” grimaced Toxica, “but his eyes were glued to yours all the time. He fancied me before, but after meeting you he doesn't any more, and I almost can't blame him. Thanks for trying to cheer me up, but it's not gonna work.”
“I am truly sorry to hear that,” said Aurora as she left the room. “Know, though, that, should Octa decide he will defy his family's decision, I will not object and shall endeavour to convince my own family not to either.” With a courteous, elegant gesture she left the room and closed the door.
Now Toxica was just confused. She tried to hate Aurora again, but after she had pledged her support if Octa chose for her, she found that hard. She was pretty angry with the Servine for being so nice to her, though. She groaned in annoyance. Why had Octa taken her here anyway? That thought really made her furious. Why kind of jerk tells a girl he likes her, and then takes her to see his bloody perfect new mate? What kind of horrible person would do that? Toxica trembled in anger. First he had toyed with her feelings for a year, and now this? She got up and walked out of her door. She was going to tell that horrible smug bastard just what she thought of that. She was going to tell him this was not how you treated a girl. She was going to tell him she hated him and wanted nothing more to do with him, and then she would leave and take the train back to Icirrus, where she had real friends.
She walked through the dark corridors of the impressive mansion to Octa's room. She burst open the door. “I'm gonna talk to you and I'm gonna do it right now!” she yelled.
Octa lay in his bed and shot up straight with a start when she entered. “What in the name of- Toxica, are you out of your mind?! You cannot be here, my family shall-”
“To hell with your family!” Toxica shouted as she closed the door behind her and walked to the feet end of Octa's bed. “You're gonna talk to me, or I'm gonna poison you!”
“What the devil has gotten into you?!” asked Octa angrily.
“Jealousy, perhaps!” yelled Toxica. “Tell me, did you know your family was gonna get you your mate?”
Octa looked at her angrily from his bed. Toxica saw only now that there were several portraits depicting Octa and his family on the walls, at least the bits that weren't covered in filled bookcases. “Yes, I did. But I-”
“And yet,” spat Toxica, “you took me here. You knew how I felt about you! You even told me you fancied me as well! And then you take me with you so I can watch you being lost to me forever!”
“Please,” Octa whispered sharply,“keep your voice down, or my family will hear!”
If she kept her voice down, she couldn't have the satisfaction of yelling at Octa. So she had a better idea: she jumped onto the bed angrily, making Octa yelp as she landed on top of him, so she could talk normally yet feel like she was shouting at him because they were so close by it sounded like it.
“Are you insane?” whispered Octa angrily. “What will anyone entering the room think?!”
“I don't care!” said Toxica, her face close to Octa's in anger. “All I want to know is what you were thinking, bringing me along to this! Do you have any idea idea how painful this is to me?!”
Octa searched for words under her. “I... Well, that is... I... I am not quite sure why I asked you to accompany me, to be quite frank. I had originally asked Boreas, but he refused as he needed to stay with his beloved.”
“So you decided to have some fun breakin' my 'eart instead?!” Toxica yelled.
“Keep. It. Down,” hissed Octa as he pushed her flower up so he could better talk to her face. “I did not do it intentionally!”
“Oh no, I'm sure it was an accident! Tell me the truth, or taste Poisonpowder!”
“Yes, it was an accident! After Boreas declined, I tried to think of someone else to accompany me, but the truth is there was no-one suitable, so I decided to go by myself! But when I talked to you to say goodbye, the invitation to join me just slipped out of my mouth without thinking! I could not retract it, therefore I took you with me, though I knew it'd be horrible for you!”
Toxica furiously pressed her face closer to his. “Don't lie to me, you smug bastard! I know you don't do things like that! You are not a spontaneous person; you always think things over before you do them!”
“Not always!” hissed Octa angrily. “I may generally be a thoughtful person, but on occasion I do spontaneous things! And they usually turn out to be mistakes!”
“No, you don't! You never do that!”
“Yes, I do!” Octa hissed as he suddenly thrust his face forward and kissed her. Toxica meeped in surprise as their lips found each other slightly awkwardly due to her flower and his snout being slightly in the way. She was torn between anger and love, but returned the kiss as they both collapsed into a lying position while continuing to smooch. The flames of rage that burned inside Toxica confusedly warmed her with love now as well.
As they broke apart, they stared at each other for a while, Toxica still lying on top of Octa. She had no idea what to do now. On the one hand she felt like punching him, on the other hand she felt like kissing him again, on another hand she felt like shouting some more at him, on yet another hand she felt like getting up and leaving the room, and on one more hand she felt like asking him what the hell he was thinking, kissing her after treating her so horribly. Things are really bad when your mind thinks you've got five hands... she thought.
To break the awkward moment, she lowered her head, turning it to avoid Octa's pointy snout more easily, and kissed him again. For a moment all was well as they relished in the kiss, then they stopped.
“There was another reason, besides spontaneousness, that I invited you here,” Octa whispered. “I wished you would protest when my family disclosed the reason they had invited me to return...”
“But... If you wanted me to protest, why didn't you do that yourself?”
“It... I am ashamed to admit this, but 'tis very hard to make my wishes clear to my family... It would have been so much easier if you had protested and I could simply express my agreement... You must understand, 'tis very difficult to oppose centuries of tradition when one's own family wishes one to follow it...”
Toxica had never seen Octa look so vulnerable as he lay under her and admitted his feelings. While that reasoning possibly made her even angrier than the thought that he had invited her along out of malice, she couldn't resist giving him a quick kiss again, hungry for the taste of his lips. “You wanted me to bite the bullet for you... You placed the responsibility with me! That's so spineless, I thought you were braver than that! I've seen you fight terrifying opponents and continue in the face of certain death, but your own family's reaction scares you?”
Octa nodded with a blush, probably out of a plethora of different emotions, like the blush Toxica now had. “I love them more than anything. Because of that, they can hurt me more than anything... If choosing for you meant losing their love... I would have to choose for Aurora, no matter what. I am truly sorry for that... Please, Toxica... Go now... I-I need to think. I need to decide upon my choice... I need to be alone...”
Toxica nodded, gave him another quick kiss, though she had to resist the urge to bite or punch him in anger, and got off the bed. “Aurora just visited me,” she said, trying to keep her voice as neutral as possible though a tornado of emotions raged through her. “She realised how we feel about each other and gave you her blessing if you wished to break with your family's wishes.”
“That is very considerate of her,” said Octa. “But I do not believe it shall affect my decision. Good night, Toxica, and please let us pretend this conversation never took place until I make my decision.”
Toxica left the room, feeling even more confused than before. She was even more angry with Octa for treating her the way he had, and still continued to do, and part of her wanted to go back inside and yell at him some more or even to hurt him. Yet another part of her was having trouble even standing, realising she had just snogged Octa; several times even. She giggled and blushed like a seedling as she thought about it. She had certainly liked the taste of him, and that part of her really wanted to go back inside and kiss him some more. Another part of her wanted nothing to do with anything and most wanted to go back to her room and get some sleep before she went completely nuts. And there were dozens more parts of her, each wanting different things and feeling differently. She felt as if her mind had been blown to smithereens and inexpertly glued back together, yet still obviously being more of a collection of parts than a single whole. She sighed as she walked back to her room, dozens of emotions and thoughts raging through her. It wouldn't be easy to get to sleep tonight.
Boreas stayed with Aqua for much of the time, which was easy as Black's room was in the pokécenter; except at night, when the hospital wards were closed to visitors. Yet he wasn't always with her; this evening, Boreas was wandering outside, restless from staying in a single place for so long. The White mountains were all around Icirrus, and Boreas really wanted to climb them and to see what was on the other side. But he couldn't go and explore because Aqua needed him and because news of the Light Stone could appear at any moment, requiring immediate action.
He sighed as he looked at the Sun setting behind the mountains, annoyed that he had to stay in Icirrus. He couldn't even help with the war at the moment, because they didn't know any of Team Plasma's bases of operation so the trainers could only defend. And they were not doing a very good job at that either.
Boreas heard rustling noises like something flying clumsily and a poking stab in his shoulder as Selene landed there. “Hi, Boreas. Do you ever miss Capella?”
Boreas was taken aback by the sudden personal question. “Um... Yes, quite often. I miss her friendship and her wisdom a lot.” he shivered as the horrific sight of her corpse came back to him, trying to put it out of his mind.
“Me too... She was a very green person. Inside, I mean.”
“I'm... Sure she was,” Boreas said, trying to shake off the terrifying image of how she had actually looked quite red inside.
Selene sighed. “I liked her burial, though. Octa said some things that I think were the right things to say, and Black dug her grave well. And then he scratched her name into a big stone in big, angular letters... It felt so final once the stone said 'Capella,' didn't it?”
Boreas nodded. “It did... That day was the beginning of the worst time of my life... We lost a great friend that day...” a thoughtful silence fell for a while.
“You've gotten a lot heavier since evolving,” Boreas remarked as his shoulder was beginning to feel tired.
He heard someone dragging his feet as he walked, looked behind him and saw Zeph. “Zeph!” he called as he caught up to his brother, Selene still tiring his shoulder with her increased weight.
Zeph startled slightly, but cheerfully greeted him once he recognised his brother. “Boreas, I didn't expect to see you here! I thought you'd be in the pokécenter, caring for that cutie Vaporeon who's been swallowing my nephews and nieces!”
Boreas' frown contrasted Zeph's broad grin. “Classy, Zeph. I'll slap you if you ever make that joke again.”
Zeph guffawed. “Okay, okay, I'm sorry. You look just like Dad when he scolded us for being bad right now, y'know.”
Boreas couldn't resist cracking a smile as he teased Zeph. “Well, now I know what he must've felt like; it's not easy having to raise someone as immature as you.”
“I'm not immature, you're immature!” said Zeph, sticking his tongue out.
Boreas rolled his eyes and decided to talk about something else. “Where were you anyway?”
“When?” asked Zeph, innocently.
“You know what I mean,” Boreas pressed.
“I have no idea.”
“Were were you most of the afternoon? In fact, most of most afternoons. You always disappear somewhere, and I'm going to follow you there if you don't tell me where it is.”
Zeph shrugged. “I don't know what you mean.”
Boreas grinned slyly. “Yes you do... And come to think of it, I think I do too... I don't imagine you had much time to spend with girls while you were travelling through Unova to find me?”
“I guess,” said Zeph, pretending he had no idea where Boreas was going with the question.
“Yet you are as old as me, though you may act like a cub. And we both know that with age come certain desires. So all I have left to ask is: who's the lucky girl?”
“Uh,” said Zeph, a blush under his fur making his cheeks appear slightly redder than normal, “I suppose Aqua is quite a lucky girl, for having the luck that I caught up to you at just the right moment to save her life. Other than that, I can't really think of any particularly lucky girls.”
Boreas grinned. “Fine, keep your secret; I'm sure she's lovely, strange though her taste may be.” Boreas would go on teasing his brother, but the way he was dragging his feet over the ground was really getting on his nerves. “By the way, could you quit shuffling and lift up your feet when you walk? The sound is pretty annoying.”
Grateful for the chance to talk about something else, Zeph latched on to this new conversational direction, though he kept dragging his feet over the ground. “Why? I like walking like this.”
“Because you're going to grate your feet off, by the sound of it,” said Boreas.
Zeph shrugged. “It hasn't happened yet, and I've walked across Unova like this.”
“Fine, walk however you like, but if you do grate off your feet you'd better hope your Audino-friend Aesclepius can heal them like he did with your throat. Hey, that reminds me: I chatted with the nurse's Audino and mentioned how you had survived the Zangeese attacking, and he was very impressed. He said he'd never even heard of an Audino managing to heal an injury as severe as that outside of a pokécenter, and that you'd be dead if it had been him who had found you.”
“Oh?” Zeph was surprised. “I didn't realise it was that impressive. But then, Aesclepius is very skilled.”
Boreas nodded. “He sounded very impressed. I guess I'm really lucky for such skilled medics like him and Nurse Ebola, or I'd have lost both you and Aqua and I'd be all alone and very, very depressed now.”
“I'd still be here,” said Selene. “You wouldn't be all alone.”
“Well, that's right. But you're just a friend, not my brother or my girlfriend.” Boreas had an idea. “Hey, Zeph. Do you think you could persuade Aesclepius to join the war on our side? We could really use someone with his skill if we ever meet a Sage again.”
Zeph thought for a while. “No; it seems impossible. He is very old, Boreas; he might be dead by now for all I know. He's certainly not going to come with us and travel to all sides of Unova to fight. Besides, he's not that fond of trainers catching pokémon. He's probably not interested in taking sides in this war.”
They entered the pokécenter and soon ran into Black, who had packed his bags. “Boreas, Selene, Zephyrus, finally! We have to go right now! Lenora knows where we can find the Light Stone!”
Boreas entered Aqua's room, feeling ashamed of what he was about to do. How could he break his promise to her? Yet he had to; this was too important for him to stay here. “A-Aqua?” he asked.
Aqua smiled happily as she saw him. “Boreas, my- what's wrong?”
“Well...” Boreas said, avoiding eye contact. “Lenora has discovered where the Light Stone holding Reshiram is... We need to travel to Nacrene so she can tell us, as X-transceiver conversations could be monitored by Team Plasma, and it's very important they don't find the stone before us... And when she tells us where it is, we'll... go there to find it... So as much as it pains me, I have to leave. I know I promised you not to leave you, but this is incredibly important...”
Aqua was silent for a while. “You say this is incredibly important,” she said in flat tones, “but am I not incredibly important to you as well? I need you here by my side, Boreas! You can't leave me with the humans-” she stopped herself and took a few deep breaths. “I'm sorry. That's... very unfair of me. I understand. You need to go. I only wish I wouldn't have to stay here alone with all these humans...”
Boreas felt very bad for leaving her, but really admired that she was willing to let him go, meaning she'd be confronted with her two greatest fears at once: loneliness and humans. Boreas walked to her bed, softly stroked her ears, and gave her a lengthy farewell kiss. “Thank you, my brave Aqua... I'm so sorry for this.”
Aqua looked into his eyes and said: “Don't die and make me regret not keeping you to your promise.”
“I'm not planning to,” said Boreas. “By the way, I'll get Black to call the pokécenter every day so we can talk.”
Days had passed without Octa making a decision. Toxica wished he'd hurry up so she could either kiss him some more or get furious at him and leave to go back to the team. They had not said a single word about the sudden smooching several days before, but a clear tension was present whenever both were in the same room. While Octa's family seemed to be making sure Octa and Aurora spent as much time together as possible, it seemed to Toxica that Octa was at least not continuing to deepen their relationship right now, and fortunately Aurora seemed content to wait.
But Toxica had even more pressing concerns than Octa's heart now. Octa's siblings Livia and Marcus Aurelius, who had been scouting the rough plains around the mansion, returned with alarming news: they had spotted a big attack by Team Plasma, led by two Sages. From their descriptions, Octa and Toxica recognised Rood, the Dutch fire-type master who Octa had battled on Route 3, near where she had met him a few weeks later; and Zinzolin, the French poison-type master who they had both battled in his company's large cold storage facility in Driftveil. While Crimson breeders bred other pokémon as well, the Equinox line of Serperiors was by far the most numerous and powerful of them, and it seemed Team Plasma had specifically chosen Sages they'd have a hard time fighting. Toxica wished she wasn't a grass-type as well; being a ground-type would be really useful now.
Most of the Equinoctes were discussing their strategy together; while Lord Publius Cornelius had the last word as the family's leader, many others disagreed with him about the specific strategy. Octa's older brother Gaius, who was - unlike his three siblings - already a Serperior, was especially vocal in his idea to build a wooden palisade around the mansion. Toxica had only met him a few days ago, and she found little to like about him, while she was reasonably close to all three of his siblings. But Gaius seemed to treat her with contempt rivalled only by Galaxia.
They were discussing their strategy when one of the humans running Crimson breeders suddenly showed up at the mansion. It was rare that the humans came here, but in this case it was to hand his X-transceiver to Octa. Toxica looked along with him, and saw Black on the little screen.
“Octa, Toxica,” he said. “Lenora knows where we can find the Light Stone. Vacation is over; you need to come to Nacrene immediately, we'll meet you there.”
“I'm sorry, old chap,” said Octa, “but I can not. My family is about to be attacked by Team Plasma and I will help them defend. Toxica might join you however.”
“No way!” said Toxica. “I'm staying right here!”
“Oh, good,” said Black, clearly not understanding a word of it as usual. “I'll see you in Nacrene, then.”
“No,” Octa spoke slowly, as if it would help Black understand better. “We – are – staying – here.”
Black smiled. “Yes, I'm looking forward to seeing you again too.”
“In the name of-” Octa exclaimed. “NO.”
“Look, we have to hurry to catch the train to Nacrene, so- what's wrong, Boreas. Hey, let go! Give it back!” Boreas had swiped the X-transceiver from Black's hands and now his somewhat triangular face was in the screen.
“Sorry for that,” he said.
“My dear fellow,” Octa beamed. “'Tis very good to see you again. We shan't join you yet; Team Plasma is attacking my ancestral home and my family needs our help defending.”
“I'll try to make that clear to Black. Good luck.”
“Thank you.” Octa looked at Toxica. “I apologise, but there is something I need to discuss with Boreas alone.”
“There is?” asked Boreas.
Toxica stood up. “Okay, I get the message,” she said as she walked away and left Octa in private.
think of N having Zekrom and Black (soon) having Reshiram.
And he won the game of chess.
I think that was his very first win at chess, right? xD
also, I somehow think it's a sign... hm...
'What' makes more sense, at least, for me. =/
For me, at least.
Well, she does have five petals, anyway.
I was eager to know who was Zeph trying to impress... =/
Seeing and hearing those things irritates me...a lot. xD
Video call in the PokéCenter, like in the animé, perhaps?
Or did Lenora just called him and told him she knew where it was, and left it at
that, so no more further information could be transmitted over?
A private conversation with Boreas.
Wonder what they're talking about.
Another great re-read.
I find it nice that you included Toxica's and Octa's little drama in the fic.
Keep at it~!