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The first game of the two I've described, yes. But he's probably won against Octa on rare occassions.
Chapter Fifty-Three: For Equinox and Honour
When Toxica returned to the main hall to leave Octa to talk to Boreas in private, she saw Aurora talking spiritedly to a Servine she hadn't met yet. He looked rather less noble and more scruffy than the others here. Perhaps it was the scars and slightly dirty scales, or maybe the uninhibited and unashamed anger on his face that made him seem less noble than the others, though oddly enough he also reminded her of Aurora. Toxica decided she had to introduce herself, went to him and made a respectful bow. “A good day to you, noble sir,” she greeted him in the way Octa had thought her. “My name is Toxica, houseless, and I am delighted to make your acquaintance.”
The Servine looked at her with surprise. “I'm Niernen,” he said with a surprising lack of protocol. “I didn't expect to see a Vileplume here; I didn't think ancestry-obsessed pokémon were all that keen on other species, especially if you're, as you say, houseless.”
“Be quiet, brother,” said Aurora with an oddly cracking voice. Toxica noticed only now that the gorgeous blue Servine was under great emotional anguish, though her perfect face only betrayed slight hints of it. “As you said, this is not the time for another argument. Toxica, I apologise, but I need to talk to my brother, for he has brought me most distressing news of the death of our parents in battle against Team Plasma.”
“Oh,” gasped Toxica. “I-I'm so sorry... I'll go talk to someone else, then...”
Feeling sad for Aurora and her brother, she decided to go to the big table where their strategy was being discussed to try and put her mind off it. The plan was to ambush Team Plasma between the high plants of the plains; according to Livia and Marcus, most of Team Plasma's pokémon were inside their pokéballs as they approached the mansion. If they could outflank them from three sides and suddenly attack them, it would be an easy victory, especially if they could knock out the humans before they could release more pokémon. Suggestions to quickly erect a wall around the breeding centre or just the mansion had been rejected as it would be a lot of work and would probably not be all that effective; the mansion just wasn't built with defensive capabilities in mind. It had a very large, welcoming entrance and was made more to impress than to defend. After the plans had been made and they all prepared to set out, Lord Publius Cornelius came to Toxica.
“Young Vileplume,” he said in his pleasant voice. “There is no need for you to accompany us. This battle is not yours to fight; go back to the nearby village and utilise a train to return to your trainer from there.”
While the powerful fire and poison types coming this way made that a very attractive idea, something in Toxica resisted. “My lord, with all due respect, I believe this is my battle to fight. Octa is my friend, and I'd like to think of your daughter as a friend as well. It wouldn't be right for me to leave them.”
“I understand. You are truly a brave Vileplume, yet I would prefer you to leave. You see, I have to be certain I can count on each and every one of those fighting for me if I am to command this battle well. Furthermore, if your life were to come into danger during the battle and a member of my house was able to prevent it, they would be honour-bound to defend you, risking their more valuable blood being spilt instead of your own lesser blood. You must understand, this is a risk I cannot take.”
“If you don't shut yer trap right now, this 'lesser-blooded' girl's gonna spill some of that oh-so valuable blood for you, you arrogant tosser!” was something Toxica nearly said as she ignited in anger. Fortunately, she managed to hold herself back from saying that and forced a smile onto her face instead.
“But,” she said, trying to keep her voice and face calm, “if I join you, I'll also be able to defend your family. In fact, my poison attacks would add some highly-needed variety into your force. I'm more than capable of handling myself in battle, just ask Octa.” When Lord Publius frowned, she added: “My lord.”
“Very well, I do not have time to argue about it any more. We leave now.”
Between the grass of Route 7, as high as a tall human, it was not that hard to ambush their enemy. All they needed was to let some of them scout ahead so they could find out the exact position of the enemy, and they could attack the enemy from three sides, leaving one side open so the enemy had a chance to flee. This seemed counter-intuitive to Toxica, but Marcus explained that if they surrounded the enemy completely, they would all fight to the bitter end, while if they surrounded them only partially, the more cowardly enemies would break and flee once things went bad. At least, that was the plan, because Livia came back with bad news:
“They know we're ambushing.”
“I do not understand either... We are quite certain they did not detect us whilst we scouted ahead, yet now they have released all their pokémon and are travelling in a spread out formation, with scouts of their own that will make an ambush impossible.”
“Perchance 'tis simply a precaution as they approach the mansion?”
“They are still kilometres away; they must somehow know we detected them and are planning a counter attack.”
“I believe I know how they knew we knew they were attacking,” said Galaxia. “Treason. There is a traitor amongst us, a mole if you will, who communicated our plans to the enemy. I also believe I know the identity of this mole. A lowly creature of befouled blood who has been attempting to wrench her way into our house by seducing Octavianus, the potential heir to the title of our leader, my nephew, the illustrious Lord Publius Cornelius, with her despicable wiles, in order to befoul our bloodline forever with her lowly blood.”
Toxica couldn't hold herself back and yelled: “You hideous old b-” she was cut off as Octa stepped forward, “accidentally” giving her a big push that shut her up as he stepped past her.
“That is a very serious accusation, great-aunt,” he said in firm tones. “To make an accusation of this scale directed at a guest to our house is a deep dishonour I hadn't considered you capable of.”
“He's right, great-aunt,” Livia agreed. “Without compelling evidence, you insult our house's honour by making such an accusation against our esteemed guest, regardless of her ancestral status.”
Galaxia was taken aback by the fact that both Octa and Toxica were arguing against her. “Be quiet, misguided younglings. Do not propose to lecture your elder on honour after associating with lower-born creatures. The only evidence I need is lowly descent, coupled with the fact that a mole is the only way this information could have reached Team Plasma's ears. The only contact we know of that any of us have had with others since discovering this attack was the X-transceiver conversation Octavianus conducted, and because of the short distance between host and recipient that could not have been intercepted, for this technology is based on direct transmission between apparati when used over relatively short ranges.”
“Your logic is highly faulty,” said Octa, “and I believe merely based upon your distrust of commoners; after travelling with Toxica for over a year, I have every reason to believe she is as trustworthy as any of us. In fact,” he drew a breath to give himself some courage to say this, “she is as admirable, honourable, and indeed noble as anyone of noble blood, as, as I have found, are others of plebeian descent. You are wrong to distrust her because she does not know her ancestry.”
Toxica basked in such great praise, coming from Octa, and to hear him defend her against his own family. His words sparked an immediate discussion, but it was quickly ended by Lord Publius:
“Silence! Silence, please. Aunt Galaxia, if my son vouches for her personality, that should be enough reason to trust Toxica for any of us. My son, these are some bold claims you put forth, and we shall have to discuss them at a later time. At the moment, we shall need to concentrate on defeating the attack before it reaches our ancestral home. Retreat is no option; we all know the mansion was not constructed for defensive purposes and that we have always responded to attacks by using these grasslands to ambush. While an attempt to ambush shall fail due to the enemy being alerted to our plans, we shall still have to make our stand here. Brittanicus, take one-third of our force and make a semi-circular movement around the enemy; we shall still endeavour to flank them.”
“My lord,” said Aunt Galaxia, bitterly, “with all due respect: aside from Team Plasma's previous attack, two months ago, neither Brittanicus nor yourself have ever had to defend our ancestral home; last time it was attacked was in the days when my esteemed mother led our house, shortly after you hatched. I believe I would make a better leader to either of our forces than you or Brittanicus.”
“I believe Brittanicus shall make a better leader of the flanking force and I shall lead our main force myself; however, your advice shall indeed be welcome and I shall endeavour to keep you by my side, aunt.”
Their discussion continued, but Toxica didn't listen any more and instead thanked Octa: “Octa, cheers for helpin' me out. Those things you said were very nice.”
Octa smiled and was about to say something when Brittanicus approached them: “Octa, Toxica, follow me. We're going to attack the enemy's flank.”
Toxica ran along with the twelve Servines and Serperiors. They had to move fast so the grunts and pokémon employed as scouts would only alert the enemy shortly before their flanking manoeuvre hit them in the back. The fact that she was having a hard time keeping up with the snakes, though her legs were longer than the Servines' and the Serperiors had no legs at all, annoyed her to no end. But not as much as the entire Equinox family's attitude. Galaxia might be the worst of all, but all of them really harboured the same sentiments. I'll show them who has 'lesser' blood here... Bunch of gits, at least Octa and Livia stood up for me. I'll show them they were right about me! I hope they were right about me...
Sounds of the battle began as the main force collided with Plasma, making enormous flames that were visible even above the high grass. It was a good thing May had been very rainy so the grasses were wet, or they could easily have a massive fire on their hands. Brittanicus gestured to charge and ran forward to the enemy, Leaf Blade drawn.
Team Plasma had been warned about the flank by their scouts, so the grunts at the rear of their force were not entirely unprepared, yet it still was very effective. Toxica enveloped herself in a whirlwind of sharp petals as she used a dance-like combat style, hitting her opponents with several attacks while (she hoped) elegantly dodging their attacks. She easily ploughed through the enemy force, knocking pokémon and humans alike out with the powerful Petal Dance as her allies did the same with Leaf Blade and Energy Ball to her sides.
A gust of wind blew the tall grass aside as a Charizard and a Crobat ascended into the air with a human each on their backs. A balding old man whose greying blond hair ineffectively covered his immense bald spot in a poor comb-over was on the Charizard's back. He wore long red robes matching his Charizard's scales. Riding the Crobat was another old man with greying brown hair and a goatee wearing purple robes, who Toxica recognised as Sage Zinzolin. At that moment, the battle immediately stopped, both sides recognising this was time to listen, not to fight.
“Pokémon of Crimshon Breedersh,” shouted the other old man from his Charizard's back in a Dutch accent. “We are Sagesh Rood and Zinzolin of Team Plashma! Our wor ishent wit you, but wit de youmansh who have cruwelly and shelfishly ushed you for generations, exploiting you for dair purshunnal profit. We are here to liberate you, not to fight you. Sho shtand ashide and join ush in our shwift and terrible vengeanshe upon your shelf-proclaimed mashtersh, broddersh and shishtersh!”
The voice of Lord Publius Cornelius, soaked with righteous indignation, sounded from the tall grass. “None who would kill innocents, who would wage war upon the valued bonds between human and pokémon, nay, on reason itself, who have destroyed ancient and valuable architecture and art, who have murdered members of the house of Quintillus, and who now seek to impose their will upon us and assault our ancestral home and our faithful human friends shall be considered brother or sister of the house of Equinox! Return now, you despicable fiends; return to whatever abyss you emerged from, and leave the noble house of Equinox, as well as all of Unova, in peace, or you shall regret the day you ever slighted us! We shall resist you, wherever you go, and none of you villains shall escape to tell others the foolishness of slighting the house of Equinox, nay, civilisation itself!”
The entire house of Equinox cheered after his speech, and Toxica cheered with them.
“Dat's a shame,” said Rood from the back of his Charizard. “I would have tought pokémon like you would be wiser dan to chooshe de pat of violenshe. Pleashe reconshider; I don't want to have to end your houshe'sh long hishtory today. Won't you take de pat of peace inshtead?”
“Never!” spoke Lord Publius. “The house of Equinox shall never betray its friends and allies to side with barbaric aggressors! Type advantage or no type advantage, the house of Equinox shall stand firm for centuries after your Team Plasma has crumbled to dust, no more than a footnote in the history books.”
“I see,” said Zinzolin from the back of his Crobat. “You 'ave chosen to side with our enemies, then. Then you are an enemy of Team Plasma as well, and we shall unfortunately 'ave to kill you. We do this with regret.”
“The house of Equinox shall never fall! Attack! Attack for Equinox and honour!”
At that moment the battle recommenced. Flames and poison and energy burst through the battlefield. Dozens of Leaf Blades were used expertly. Toxica fought her enemies with Petal Dance; the battle was going great until until a massive blast of flames engulfed a cousin of Octa's, who was fighting on Toxica's left. Toxica screeched in fear as the wave of heat hit her from that side. Charizard swooped over them, spitting an intense inferno downwards that incinerated another Serperior. Toxica's swift reaction allowed her to escape with just some slight scorches, but some cries of pain told her not everyone had been so lucky. She ducked under a blast of poison a Drapion shot at her and fought a Krokorok that was surprisingly fast. The tall grass the battlefield was covered with was rapidly withering away between the flames and the poison the enemy used, allowing everyone more overview of the battle. Toxica saw Lord Publius now, battling Rood's Chandelure and Zinzolin's Weezing at the same time, but she couldn't see Octa. Fear that he had been killed gripped her.
A blaze of fire withered a thick clump of grass to her side, and revealed Rood's Heatmor. She made eye-contact with the fiery anteater for a moment and jumped to the side immediately, avoiding the Flamethrower it immediately unleashed upon her. She quivered in terror as she felt its heat and imagined the agony if it would hit her. Her legs felt like jelly and she desperately wanted to flee from the mighty fire-type. But something in her resisted and decided she was going to stand her ground. She launched a thick cloud of toxic pollen from her flower.
Heatmor coughed and sneezed as it inhaled the pollen, unleashing flames from its snout, and Toxica followed up by launching a flood of acidic nectar from her flower, covering her opponent in the toxic, painful goo. She laughed at how easy this was going as she enveloped herself in a whirlwind of sharp leaves and began a dance-like physical combat style.
But she had underestimated her enemy: as she hit it with the Petal Dance, its claws burst in flame and it gave her a phenomenal, scorching punch that sent her flaming and screaming through the air, fortunately landing on her burning side so the flames were extinguished. She whimpered in pain from the bone-breaking impact and the flames, but tried to get up as soon as she could to prevent her enemy from incinerating her. But it took her so long she expected to be incinerated already. Instead, she heard sounds of fighting very close by. Looking up, she saw Aurora fighting Heatmor, dodging flames and attacking with unbelievable elegance and grace, stabbing the opponent with a blue Leaf Blade.
Toxica managed to stand up just as Heatmor managed to hit Aurora, punching her away with a Fire Punch. Toxica shot more Acid at her opponent as she dodged flames, but even with the toxic powder poisoning her enemy, it just wasn't that powerful an attack. She was in big trouble against a more powerful enemy that threatened to incinerate her.
Octa, with several burns and some very oddly-coloured, painful wounds, ran at her enemy, rolled over the ground to dodge under the wave of flame the Heatmor sent his way, jumped up and stabbed his opponent with his Leaf Blade. Heatmor's fiery claw reached to punch Octa, but at that moment the warm, high June-Sun broke through the cover of clouds. Toxica felt great energy as the Sun shone on her chlorophyl-containing flower and skin. She used that energy by focussing it all into a single point, her flower's centre, aimed it at the Heatmor, and fired a powerful SolarBeam directly into its face. It roared in pain as it was at the same time blinded by the intense light and burnt by its energy.
Toxica took the sunlight in for another Solar Beam as Octa stabbed their blinded enemy several times. With another great beam of intense light, their enemy fell down to the ground, defeated.
Octa, burnt and wounded, turned to her with admiration and walked at her. “I have made my choice. I hope you can forgive me,” he said, infuriating Toxica for a moment, “for not choosing for you earlier. I am quite willing to endure my family's wrath for you.”
He embraced her and their lips found each other amidst the fires and sounds of battle. Toxica was overwhelmed with love as she firmly snogged with Octa. While not their first kiss, this fifth kiss felt far more important than their first kiss as there was no mistaking it's meaning.
The battle was not going well. Though they outflanked the enemy and had defeated quite a lot of them, even more of Octa's relatives had fallen. The type advantage the Sages' pokémon had over almost all of them was just very hard to overcome. The fire easily burnt plants and the poison withered them. As Toxica and Octa fought together, the fact that they were losing became increasingly clear. As they beat a Wormadam together, Toxica began feeling desperate. “Octa, we're losing the battle! We should retreat!”
“That is impossible,” replied Octa. “This is our best opportunity to stop them, for my ancestral home is quite a poor defensive position, nor should we seek to engage the enemy there, for even victory would come at great cost of heirlooms there. However, I do agree we should endeavour to find a better manner of defeating them than through sheer military force. I do wish Boreas had accompanied me...”
Toxica felt oddly jealous, considering she had just kissed Octa, and said: “We'll just have to do it without him. I guess we should attack the Sages?”
They had to dodge a spray of toxic slime from Zinzolin's Muk. “A good suggestion, but I fail to see how we could do so. The Charizard and Crobat they are flying upon are both highly resistant to both Energy Ball and SolarBeam. There is little opportunity to hit the humans on their backs. Then again... I think I do have an idea. You could poison them.”
“Not at this range, I couldn't. There's no way I could hit them with-” she used Petal Dance on an enemy Raticate, “-any poison attacks from so far away while they fly.”
“No, you couldn't; but I could throw you using my vines. When nearby, you could unleash your strongest poisons, then I could catch you again.”
Toxica looked at him like he was insane, then remembered the carnage around them. “It's worth a shot. Throw me at Zinzolin; I don't fancy that Charizard's flames.”
“I'm afraid it would be more effective to throw you at Rood; as a poison-master, Zinzolin would likely be carrying antidotes for many toxins.”
“Okay, I guess. Then I'll have to attack Rood...”
Octa grabbed her in his vines, but she gave him a quick kiss before he threw her. “For good luck.”
As Rood flew over, Toxica was launched high into the air by Octa, tumbling above the battle in the scorched, withered battlefield amidst the sea of tall grass. She quickly charged up a powerful dose of her nastiest poisons as she reached the top of her parabolic flight. Rood and his Charizard saw her before she reached them, but it was already too late: she gave him a face full of poisonous powders, slimes, and acids. But as she fell past the Charizard, she hit its wing and was knocked away from her trajectory. She was now falling sideways; Octa was nowhere near the place she'd land to catch her. She yelped in fear as she realised she was falling upside-down and would probably break her neck even with her flower cushioning the impact.
Just as she was about to hit the ground, Zinzolin's Skuntank, which was fighting Brittanicus, jumped aside to dodge its enemy's attack, jumping right under Toxica whose fall was cushioned by the soft, furry body. The Skuntank roared loudly in pain as she landed on it, threw her off to the ground, and opened its mouth to show its impressive set of teeth. Toxica tried to struggle away under it as it was about to bite her throat in anger, but it was too heavy and its claws had grabbed her flower firmly.
With a phenomenal lunge, Brittanicus' Leaf Blade stabbed right through the Skuntank's throat, now that it was preoccupied with Toxica, entering on the left and exiting on the right side. It jumped at Brittanicus in a pained reflex, and Toxica felt a cutting pain as its claws, which still held on to her flower, tore two of the large petals from her head. Blood and molasses leaked down her face as the Skuntank collapsed.
The battle was a victory, albeit a costly one. When Toxica had poisoned Rood, he had had no choice but to retreat, his face covered in dreadfully colourful wounds and ulcers. While Zinzolin had tried to keep himself and the grunts fighting, the death of one of his own pokémon at the hands of Brittanicus and the retreat of Rood had severely undermined the morale of the grunts, who had quickly begun fleeing the battle. Seeing his remaining pokémon surrounded and outnumbered, Zinzolin had wisely returned them to their pokéballs and fled to wherever it was Team Plasma hid on his Crobat.
But Octa had lost many a relative today. Uncle Vergillius, first cousins Tertia and Marcus Ulpius, his second cousin once removed, Gitaxias, his fourth cousin Marcia, and others he knew less well were all other names he'd have to miss. Their loss was a bitter pill to swallow to the entire family, but in the end the famed valour of the house of Equinox had triumphed. Every single one of them had proved their descendance from the great Equinox today. Including Toxica.
Yet Octa felt guilty for what he was about to tell his father. Toxica had conducted herself very admirably in battle; surely that would help convince him. A voice of doubt in his mind told him he could still back out, not tell his family, and tell Toxica he chose for Aurora anyway. But not only did he refuse to do so cowardly a deed, but he also recognised that was an impossibility; they had kissed in the middle of the battle, after all, probably with several relatives watching, so it was only a matter of time before all of them knew. Presumably the only reason the news hadn't spread yet was that the family had been too busy returning the remains of their fallen to the mansion so they could be given the farewell they deserved.
He took a deep breath. “Father, I have decided not to marry Aurora Invicta.”
His father looked up to meet his gaze. “It highly saddens me to hear that, my son. What are your objections to her? Is she not a most honourable lady and a truly great potential wife?”
“Yes, she is all that and more, father. But I have decided to forego marrying her, for she is not the one I love. For the one I love is Toxica.”
His father glowered at his son. “You know this is an impossibility. If you do not wish to marry Aurora, another mate can be found for you, but Toxica is neither a Snivy nor of noble blood.”
“That does not matter, father. What matters is that I truly love her. You have undoubtedly observed her in battle today; did she not display at least as much honour and valour as any of us? I am certain our descendants shan't be ashamed to have her as their ancestor any less than they would be ashamed to have any other member of the house of Equinox as their ancestor.”
“They would be Oddishes, my son! Bastard children with a broken ancestry and befouled blood! Is a son of mine really as selfish as to take the great gift of noble ancestry away from his descendants?”
“No, father, 'tis not selfishness. Toxica is as admirable a person as any descendant of the great Equinox.”
“Perhaps she is, but that does not change the fact that her ancestry is obscure and low. That I would see the day a son of the house of Equinox would waste his great potential by mingling with something that has crawled out of the gutter...”
“'Tis neither her ancestors nor mine who are important here, father! She and I are the only ones that matter. You sound like great-aunt Galaxia now; small-minded and stuck in the past!”
“You dare take the name of a member of your house as an insult? Your behaviour is unacceptable!”
“I do not take it as an insult, I merely point out you are exhibiting similar flawed reasoning. Great-aunt Galaxia believes we should not mingle with those of lower blood, much like our ancestors of old did, yet you and I both know this is archaic and wrong; those without noble blood in their veins are just as capable of achieving greatness, they merely aren't born with it. That is what you thought me. Did Toxica not achieve greatness today worthy of a descendant of Equinox? I postulate we would not have achieved victory without her; most of us would be dead now, rather than just a few, and our ancestral home would lie in ruins, our human friends slaughtered. It was this same lowly-bred lady who brought us victory whom I also wish to marry. Yes, she does not know her ancestry and is likely of lower blood, but was the same not true of the great Equinox? We don't even know what his parents' names were.”
This gave his father pause. “You are right. We do owe our victory to her. But please, I implore you to think about this choice; even if she may have honour worthy of the house of Equinox, do you really want your descendants to be born as Oddishes?”
“Yes, I do. I see no harm in that.”
Lord Publius sighed. “I do not agree with your choice, my son. Yet, you are correct that Toxica had exhibited valour worthy of you. If you really want to, I shall endeavour to convince the family it should be allowed as I discuss it with them. But at least try to reconsider...”
Octa hugged him. “Thank you so much, father...”
“How can you do this to them?!”
“Liberate your pokémon, don't you see it's evil to keep them?!”
“Team Plasma will get you, trainer!”
These were just some of the insults Black had had thrown at him since they had arrived in Castelia. When they had finally arrived in Nacrene, Lenora had told them she believed the Light Stone had to be in the Relic Castle, which was in the route 4 desert between Castelia and Nimbasa. So they had taken the train to Castelia immediately, only to find the city's people were firmly in Team Plasma's grip. Yet they couldn't set out immediately and leave the unwelcoming city, as Octa had called to say he and Toxica were on their way after a victorious battle.
Boreas remembered the city as big and busy, but basically fun with many people and pokémon from when they were there last year. The Castelia of eleven months later was barely recognisable. The buildings were all the same, but the pokémon were almost all gone. You could find more cheer in a graveyard; the people were grim and sad, and hostile towards Black. Big symbols of Team Plasma had been painted on buildings, and several buildings were closed off, ransacked and their inhabitants disappeared or murdered. The entire city was baking in the heat of early summer, which felt even hotter to Boreas than it would do by itself as he had just spent a long time in the mountains, where it was much cooler.
Black was looking for supplies to make the trek to the Relic Castle, but when he got to a store, the guard at the entrance told him they were closed, even though it was mid-afternoon and there were clearly customers inside. Black was about to make a scene when he was suddenly pulled away by a human. But Boreas, nor his other pokémon, defended him as they saw it was White. She hadn't changed much in the half year since they'd last seen her.
“Hey, what are you- Oh, it's you, White!” Black said as White dragged him away by his arm. “Great to see you again, but what are you doing? I need stuff from that store and the guy at the entrance wouldn't let me in.”
“Follow me,” said White curtly. “Don't struggle, just come with me quickly.”
“Wh-where are you taking me?”
“To my apartment.”
Black arched an eyebrow and followed her a lot more willingly. “Oh?”
“Get your mind out of the gutter, or I'll leave you out here to be lynched! I'm just protecting you from your own stupidity!”
“I-I don't understand...” stammered Black.
“Just shut up and follow me quickly, I'll explain when we get to my apartment.”
Black and his pokémon followed White through Castelia. At one point, Boreas heard a screech and a crash and a groan of pain, looked around in shock, but only saw Zeph and Selene lying on the ground.
“You flew right into me, you ftupid bird!” Zeph snarled angrily.
“S-sorry,” Selene stammered, standing up again, “I was trying to land on your shoulder.”
“You crashed right into it! And besides, I don't like people touching me, and that includes sitting on my shoulder!”
“I really thought I was still above you...”
“Well, you thought wrong. Please don't try to sit on my shoulder again.”
“Are you blind as well as crazy?” asked Lucius. “Just get on my shoulder instead if you can do it without crashing into me too, you crazy bird.”
Boreas followed Black and White as they went to her apartment on the fifth floor of a tall building. It was a small, messy apartment, and all White's pokémon were in there. Boreas smiled immediately as he saw Febby. She had grown more beautiful since last time he had seen her, a very handsome Umbreon, yet she was rather plain compared to Aqua, Boreas thought. He felt a momentary flicker of nervousness, which he dismissed right away. “Hey, Febby, long time no see!”
Febby smiled shyly. “Oh, Boreas, I didn't expect to see you.”
Then Esper the Espeon greeted him too: “Hey, dude. Good to see you again, it's been a while.”
Boreas looked at Esper and forced a smile, though he thought the guy was an annoying idiot with a stupid name and a stupid personality. “Yeah, it has. What was your name again?”
“Esper,” he said with a giggle as he nuzzled Febby's side, making Boreas feel very annoyed.
“Right, Edwin, now I remember you,” Boreas said coldly.
Esper was so caught up in nuzzling Febby he didn't notice Boreas intentionally using the wrong name.
“Excuse the mess,” said White to Black. “Anyway, what were you thinking, going over street with your pokémon in plain view? Don't you know there's a war going on?”
“Well, yeah, but I didn't figure it would be any problem...”
“No problem?! Team Plasma has publicly announced they're going to kill everyone with pokémon, and made true on that promise quite a few times, and you didn't think it was a problem? And that's after they spent a whole year telling everyone how bad it is to keep pokémon. You're lucky I found you.”
“But... The war didn't seem nearly this bad in Icirrus, I mean, there were still trainers, and people didn't insult or threaten you for having pokémon...”
“Icirrus is small and remote; you're in Castelia now. This city has been Team Plasma's main target, and they've done a damn good job at it. For a while, I really considered liberating my pokémon too, but I just couldn't... They haven't been outside since the war started, it's just too dangerous...”
“I'm sorry to hear that, I didn't realise things were so bad... But hey, I've got an idea: why don't you come with me to the Relic Castle? I'm going there to find a legendary pokémon to use against Team Plasma, and I could use both the company and the help a lot.”
Aw well, I'll find out eventually.
Anyway, it's a great re-read, as usual.
And here are my comments~
Aw... No sneak peek to what they were talking about? =/
Wow, Galaxia is really...annoying to be around with...
I wonder how big, or small, a Heatmor's flamethrower is...
They are based on anteaters, right? So, their mouths are, too small?
After they defeated Heatmor, Aurora was still around to witness their kiss, or did
she moved away and fought another opponent?
Yay to Octa!
Lucius invited her to sit on his shoulder... o.o
Was he being nice?
Does this mean Black will have to put them inside their PokéBalls now?
Don't worry, it's not something obvious and none of my readers have managed to guess it yet. And you will find out eventually indeed.
The fire probably grows rapidly after it comes out of their mouths because of the large pressure it must be under.
Chapter Fifty-Four: Ashes and Dust
Toxica and Octa were really beginning to annoy Boreas. When they had returned from Octa's family with the news that they were now together, Boreas had been very happy, of course. Octa had managed to look past his family's traditions, and even managed to convince a few of his relatives, though not remotely all of them, that things should be changed. In short, Boreas had been delighted to hear his friends were now more than friends for each other.
But it was getting ridiculous; they only had eyes for each other. Octa would spend almost all his time with Toxica. He would talk to her, always walk with her, hold her hand, and occasionally they kissed. Boreas had tried just talking along with them, of course, but when they talked it was quite clear the conversation was mainly between the two of them and Boreas was more or less a bystander. It made him feel uncomfortable, especially when they would kiss and he didn't know where to look or what to do. So he had barely spoken with Octa in the past few days, and that, coupled with the desert heat and the blazing Sun, was really annoying him. He thought it was very inconsiderate of his friend to do this to him. Sure, Boreas had also spent almost all his time with Aqua whenever he could, but that was different.
Last time they had crossed the desert, Boreas had been inside his pokéball for most of the journey. But he had been just a young, barely evolved Glaceon then. He had a lot more experience and was a lot stronger this time, so he preferred walking to being inside his pokéball for the whole journey. While it wasn't anywhere near comfortable, making a continuous Icy Wind blow around him at least made the desert bearable. In fact, the cold zone he created around him was welcomed happily by everyone else except for Lucius and White's Darmanitan, who walked outside it, gladly taking in the desert heat. Though Selene usually either flew or sat on Lucius' shoulder, she mostly sat on either Boreas' or Black's shoulders during their journey through the desert, preferring to stay in the colder zone around Boreas.
In all, Boreas had quite a troupe around him. There were Black and White, Toxica and Octa, Febby and Esper (all four of whom seemed to have their lips glued to their respective partners at times, highly annoying Boreas. He wished they'd keep the kissing in private, it frustrated him to no end to see them smooch all the time. Obviously, it was different when he and Aqua did that), Selene, Zeph, and White's other pokémon: Braviary, Mandibuzz, and Simipour.
He watched Esper and Febby laugh and play around. “I don't know what she sees in that idiot,” he said to Zeph.
“Mhuh?” said Zeph indistinctly. “Oh. Him. Yeah, it's her loss, brother. But then, if she'd,” he yawned lengthily. “if fhe'd returned your love, you wouldn't be with your foxy Vaporeon now.”
“Yeah, you're right there,” grinned Boreas. “How did you know I used to be in love with Febby anyway? I don't think I ever told you that.”
Zeph grinned. “It's not hard to guess.”
Boreas chuckled. “I'll try to hide it better, then. I'm not actually in love with her any more, certainly not since I've met Aqua. Speaking of hiding things, you do quite a good job of looking awake. It wasn't until you opened your mouth that I noticed how tired you are. Are you not sleeping well?”
Zeph yawned. “Sand fleas. They've been keeping me up all night for days...”
Boreas shrugged. “I guess I got lucky with my sleeping spots; they haven't bothered me yet.”
“Lucky you,” Zeph yawned. “They're devouring me every night. I wonder what they eat when they can't get Flareon?”
“Well, if they keep bothering you just wake me and I'll swap places with you.”
“Nah, that won't work. I tried lying in different spots when they bothered me too much, but I think they just follow me. Must be this large, furry collar. If I'd just been a Jolteon, I bet they wouldn't bother me so much...”
“I just wish I could see your pretty face, my love,” said Boreas into the X-transceiver. Unfortunately, he could only use the audio because if he used the video option, the desert behind him would be obvious. While he knew Aqua could be trusted not to relay that information to Plasma, even if she did intend on rejoining them, there was always the possibility that Team Plasma would intercept the call. He couldn't even tell her about the stifling desert heat or how tiring it was to walk through sand for a whole day. “Seeing you again would really break the monotony. Octa is really spending far too much time with Toxica now. And Zeph still hasn't been getting any sleep, so he's grumpy and he keeps dragging his feet really irritatingly. And I think Selene's mind is affected by circumstances here. Though it is hard to tell with her. But today she told me her Uncle Istvan one day showed up with an orange for a head, and so people asked him why he had an orange for a head. So he explained that he had met a Jirachi who told him it'd grant his three wishes. So for his first wish he said: “I would like more food than I could ever eat.” And an enormous heap of food appeared. Then, for his second wish he said: “I want an intelligent, beautiful female to spend the rest of my life with.” So the loveliest Honchkrow he had ever seen appeared. “What is your final wish?” asked Jirachi. So he said: “I'd like an orange for a head.” Sometimes that crow really makes me wonder...”
He heard Aqua chuckle. “Well, things have been going a lot better on my end. I actually managed to move my toes today, can you believe that?! I'm really recovering!”
“That's excellent, love! I'm so glad to hear that. I hope you'll recover completely soon.”
“So do I,” s******ed Aqua. “Because I've felt like Tantalus all this time with you by my side while I was too weak to move. Let me tell you what I'm going to do to you when I fully recover...”
As Aqua lowered her voice to a whisper, Boreas brought the X-transceiver close to his ear to hear what she said and whispered back so no-one else would hear him. After they had their whispered conversation for a while, making Boreas blush very deeply and really feel the desert's heat around him, he saw the Relic Castle ahead.
“Listen, my love, I have to hang up, because we'll soon get to where we need to be. I promise I'll return to you as soon as we find the stone.”
“I can't wait. I'm getting my final operation tomorrow, you know. But I wish instead of the human doctor, you were here to play doctor.”
“Heh, so do I, love. But I've really got to go now. I love you.”
“I love you too.”
Only the topmost tower of the castle was visible, as the rest was all buried deep underground, though Lenora had said much of the underground portions were decently excavated on the inside. She had really wanted to come with Black, but because her presence was needed in Nacrene now more than ever, she couldn't.
The tower didn't reach very high above the sand, but looked rather foreboding. There was something very sinister about it. A small hole stood as the tower's entrance, leading down to the dark insides of the castle.
“Well, we're here,” said Black with an edge of fear in his voice. “It looks a bit uncanny... Let's get in there and find the stone quickly.”
“Fine by me,” said White as she and Black got torches from their backpacks. “That place gives me the shivers, but the White Stone's the best chance we have at stopping Team Plasma. I wonder if Reshiram will come out immediately when we find the stone?”
“When N summoned Zekrom, it took him a while to get it out of the stone. Quite a long while, actually. I think he talked to it with his thoughts or something, it was weird. I guess I'll have to do something similar when we find it.”
Boreas followed the trainers into the murky tower. An intense darkness hung inside and it was incredibly dusty. The air was ancient and stale. With every step, clouds of dust would fly around, getting into everyone's noses and throats and making them cough and sneeze. But through the dust in his nose and the smell of the castle itself and the stinging, smoky smell of Zeph, he detected another smell, one which he thought he'd smelt before. In fact, he had been smelling it for a while, come to think of it, though it was hard to pin down since when. He tried to remember whose smell it was, but couldn't quite put his paw on it.
The Relic Castle's architecture was very angular. There were very few curves; it was all triangles, squares, and hexagons. Even the sculptures were angular. Boreas followed Black and White over the ancient stairs leading down, as Lenora had instructed them to look in the treasure chambers, which were probably a maze of various chambers deep down in the castle. As they walked down the stairs there was less sand and more of the stone the castle was originally built of.
They reached the bottom of the stairs and walked though magnificent halls and corridors, looking for stairs leading even deeper into the Earth. A deathly silence hung in the ancient ruins, the only sounds the steps of thirty feet of various sizes and the dragging of Zeph's four feet. “Lift. Up. Your. Feet,” hissed Boreas to his brother.
“Huh?” asked Zeph sleepily. “Why?”
“Because the sound is even more grating in this deathly silence! Everything in the castle will hear that noise!”
“It's not louder than the noise of all your feet, and I'm tired, and there's no-one else here anyway. I don't feel like lifting up my feet, so don't bother me about it.”
Boreas let out a frustrated sigh and tried not to focus on the sound of Zeph's feet in the silence. Instead he looked at the many halls in the castle as they descended. The castle truly felt incredibly ancient, as if he could feel the weight of millennia of time pressing down on him. It was awe-inspiring and scary.
After hours of searching, they had finally reached the treasure chambers, which were an extensive maze of tunnels and chambers deep down under the ground. While there was barely any of the gold and silver and gems you'd expect in treasure rooms, there were some gorgeous statues and frescos. The corridors between the rooms were mostly just plain, sandy stone corridors without much to differentiate them, but each room was a bit different. Some rooms had collapsed and were inaccessible, but most of them contained at least something. Many of the rooms were on a single level, though there were a few very high rooms with a steep staircase hugging the wall tightly so someone could descend or ascend a level.
At last, they entered a large room with five exits. There were gorgeous frescos displaying Reshiram all over the walls, and in the middle of the room the room rose up with stairs, culminating in a top with a short pillar on it. The top of the pillar wasn't visible from their current position, but it was obvious the Light Stone would be there.
“Well, Black,” said White, “it must be on top of that. Looks like we're finally there! Go and get it!”
As Black climbed up the stairs, Boreas had a look around in the room. He had the nagging feeling something wasn't right. Trying to think of what was wrong about the room, he stared at the gorgeous frescos, which gleamed in the light of the torches... Gleam? How can they gleam if everything has been covered by two millennia of dust?
“Someone's been here before us!” he said. “They erased their tracks, but the floors and wall are still free of dust!”
At that moment, Black had reached the pillar. “I-it's not here!” he said in shock. “It's gone! Who took it?”
“We were about to ask-ah you the same theeng,” said an Italian-accented voice. In one of the corridors stood the massively fat Giallo in his yellow robes, sweating heavily in the desert heat, as well as four grunts, who were all very dirty and dusty. Giallo's team of steel-types was there too: Klinklang, Magnezone, Scizor, Lucario, and Bastiodon.
“Giallo,” said Black angrily as his and White's pokémon got in more defensive positions on the stairs. “How did you find out the stone was here and what did you do with it?”
“How we knew were the stone-ah was ees not eemportant. What concerns you ees: where ees eet now? Deed Alder come here-ah before us and where you only a deestraction? Answer me!”
Boreas laughed. “We haven't got a clue! Looks like you're out of luck!”
“No,” said Giallo. “You are. Because-ah eet seems to me you really don't know. Because, eef Alder or someone else had taken it, we would've seen their tracks when we arrived here two days ago. Eet must've been taken by someone a long time ago, a grave-robber or an adventurer of some kind. Eet could be anywhere by now. But, if N ees correct, you are the only one who can-ah resurrect Reshiram from that stone. So, eef I just eliminate you here, the stone will do you no good, whoever has eet now. You, however, girl-ah, don't need to die. Surrender.”
“Darmanitan,” said White, “use Flamethrower to burn that stupid moustache off his face.”
The entire cave lit up as a bolt of lighting jumped from Magnezone to Darmanitan, electrocuting it to prevent it from attacking Giallo.
“That was a very bad meestake. Eef you want to die beside him, I weel grant your weesh. Attack!”
The five enemy steel-types attacked, sinking fear into Boreas' heart. The steel-types he had battled and seen so far all told him it was a very powerful, dangerous type. The only way to hit them seemed to be to heat their armour up with fire attacks until they were baked on its conductive inside. Though, Boreas thought, using their own weight against them with a ground-attack might work too. But he had access to neither of those types of attacks, so when Scizor ran at him, its pincers ready to snap him in two, it was a problem to say the least.
He Ice Beamed the ground before its feet to make it slip and fall, but the dry, sandy stones hadn't seen water in centuries, so there was simply nothing to freeze. An Ice Beam to the Scizor didn't do anything either, even to its face. So Boreas did the only thing he could and ran for his life into a tunnel. The heavy, metallic footsteps of his enemy were close behind him as he ran, trying to think of some way to beat it. He entered a room full of stone statues and ran between them, throwing some of the statues in his pursuer's path to block it, but it snapped them in two easily with its steel pincers and continued mercilessly along its way.
Boreas saw the statues were no good at holding the Scizor back, and it was also a shame to see them destroyed, so he stopped throwing them and kept running, anxious to put more distance between him and Scizor, running into another tunnel. He saw one of the high rooms leading to a lower level ahead and had an idea. He stopped, turned around, and unleashed his most powerful Icy Wind yet to blow from him to the enemy. The stale, dusty air inside the tunnel didn't want to move. It was incredibly ancient air, which had been down here for centuries and hadn't blown freely through the sky since then, nor had it been inhaled by any living thing. It did not want to move, but with the desperate knowledge that he'd be cut in two like a sausage at dinner if he didn't get it to move, he used much energy to cool the air down and get wind going. The air felt much younger at once, like a seventy-year-old discovering his childhood hobby is still great fun. Now it was easy to make it blow harder and harder, though the tunnel, halting Scizor's progress as the gale turned into an icy storm. As the fierce wind could disperse nowhere in the tight tunnel, it was easy to make it very powerful.
Scizor was disturbingly close, but the icy storm finally halted it. While it was heavy and strong, helping it fight the wind, it was also very large and had wings that caught lots of air, making it almost impossible to progress to Boreas. The wind carried powerful blasts of sand and ice with it. Though Scizor didn't manage to take another step forward, much though it struggled against the wind, it wasn't blown back either. Boreas wasn't counting on that, though. While this would be a good moment to run away, he instead dug his claws into the ground and pressed himself as flat as possible, knowing what would happen next.
He stopped making the wind. Scizor took three steps forward and stood in front of Boreas, its pincer ready to grab him when it happened: the lower rooms behind Boreas, where he had blown so much air away from had very low pressure, while the statue room behind Scizor, where the wind blew towards, now had very high air-pressure. As Boreas expected, the result was rather violent: another howling stormwind of sand blasted back, except this time Scizor wasn't prepared for it and had its back towards it. The hurricane of wind blew the metal monstrosity over Boreas' head, through the tunnel, and with great speed into the staircase-room, where the crash as the heavy metallic creature hit the floor, its wings useless, was phenomenal. Meanwhile, Boreas, who was prepared for the wind, just got a face full of a painfully hard sand blast and was blown back a bit.
He didn't know whether the ten metres fall had killed Scizor, and didn't plan to find out either. He ran back through the statue-room and the tunnels to the room they had been ambushed in. Most of the fighters had dispersed through the tunnels and were no longer in the room. He saw Selene and Simipour fighting Bastiodon, but didn't have time to make out more than that in the darkness as the spiky collection of living gears that was the enemy Klinklang came at him.
It advanced rapidly on its big gear, making an infernal metallic noise as its gears ground towards Boreas faster and faster, trying to catch him and grind him down. He backed away and Ice Beamed the enemy, but it didn't even feel the beam of icy cold, even when Boreas aimed at the axes of the gears. The Klinklang went incredibly fast, he could not outrun it. He looked around quickly, but all his allies were caught up fighting the other enemies. Except for Zeph, who was not in any battle at the moment and looking at it all with sleepy shock.
“Zeph, you idiot!” Boreas yelled as the tunnel he backed into turned out to be a dead end, and was faced with the rapidly approaching gears. “Help me!”
Zeph looked at him in surprise, hesitated, and then rushed for Boreas. As the Klinklang reached him, it trapped him between its grinding gears, but kept spinning, sending a terrible pain through him. But he was fortunate: before the gears could keep spinning and grind his spine to paste, Zeph managed to stop them with his phenomenal strength.
“Stay away from him!” ordered Zeph as he spit a wave of flame at the Klinklang. The torrent of intense fire blazed over Klinklang, so it was fortunate for Boreas he was behind it so its body shielded him from Zeph's flames. He felt a wave of heat from the fire, yet it didn't feel as hot as he expected, nor did the flames enlighten the dark tunnel as much as he thought they would. Fortunately it seemed enough to convince Klinklang to leave him, for it fled. Zeph spit one more flame after it before it turned the corner.
“Thanks, Zeph,” said Boreas gratefully. “That was just in the nick of time.”
“That's two you owe me,” grinned Zeph. “Try to stay safe, okay? I'm going back to fight them.”
“Stay safe? What do you mean? I'm not going to cower while my friends fight for their lives!”
“These are highly-trained steel-types. Fire is pretty much the only way to hurt them. You can't freeze them, you can't bite them, pretty much nothing works against them. What are you going to do against them?”
“I dunno, I expect I'll come up with something. I usually do.”
“Do it away from me, then, because I intend to use Fire Blast and Lava Plume and don't want to accidentally catch you in them.” And he ran back.
Boreas muttered in annoyance, but realised Zeph was right in that there was little he could do against the enemy. While their metal armours would of course conduct cold just as well as heat, he also realised there was a big difference between having a baking hot metal plate pressed against you or a freezing cold one; one hurt and burned you, while the other was just really unpleasant. Cold just seemed to work better if you could really get it deep into your opponent, not with simple touch. He had to think of some way to get the cold through that armour effectively if he wanted to be useful in this fight.
Fortunately, he thought of a way that might just work. Using the pulses of cold he used for his Frost Concussion offensively instead of defensively might be enough to get the cold all the way through the steel armour. He rushed after Zeph, and soon came into the chamber where Zeph, Selene, Octa and Simipour where still fighting enemies while several others lay on the ground defeated. Zeph was spitting impressive flames at Klinklang, barely missing it, though the deep darkness of the ancient tunnels somehow seemed to absorb the light of the flames. With a tremendous beam of energy to its face, Boreas saw Lucario defeat Simipour. He ran at Lucario, planning to use his plan of attack against it, but it saw him coming, extended a front paw, and an invisible wave of psychic energy, like a giant's hand slapping his face hit his face, knocking it back with such force that Boreas made a half-flip and landed on his back.
“No!” he heard Zeph yell. “Don't you dare attack him! Attack me instead!”
Boreas crawled back to his feet and saw the Lucario was indeed firing its aura attacks at Zeph, who was also in battle with Bastiodon, fortunately missing him. “Shut up, Zeph, I can take care of myself!”
Boreas jumped at Lucario and managed to grab its stomach with his front paws. He immediately unleashed pulses of cold, prompting a howl of pain as his enemy folded over. A tremendous kick knocked Boreas off his enemy, but it was clearly hurt by the attack.
“If you kill him,” snarled Zeph threateningly at the Lucario, “you'll have me to answer to!”
Boreas pounced his opponent again, but its large legs left it very agile despite its metallic exterior, and it easily dodged him. As Boreas came down next to it, he realised he had made a terrible blunder as he was now for a moment incredibly vulnerable, next to his opponent with his back more or less exposed; a single powerful kick from the fighting type could probably break his neck now. As he tried desperately to recover he just waited for the horrible pain he expected to begin, but to his surprise the Lucario missed its opportunity to strike. He turned on it instead, but it managed to dodge him again. Then he made a feint to the left as he actually jumped to the right, and managed to catch Lucario. Before it had a chance to throw him off, he had pumped another pulse of cold through it, this time through its upper chest. Then, as his opponent writhed in pain, he managed to grab its head and sent a pulse of cold through it. It collapsed to the ground.
Boreas laughed. “See, what'd I tell you, Zeph?”
Zeph gave him an arrogant grin. “Alright, you've got skill, I already knew that.”
At that moment, an immense rumble sounded as the wall collapsed when a gigantic iron head broke through. Boreas couldn't believe he had forgotten about Steelix, Giallo's final and most impressive team member. Its gigantic metal body rolled into the cave at great speed, right at Boreas as it heaved its huge head up. The noise was enormous, but not as great as Boreas' terror.
“Don't kill him, or I'll kill you!” yelled Zeph at the monstrous metal snake.
Boreas tried to get out of its path, but it was too large and too fast and it immediately coiled around him, trapping him between three huge metal sections as it slithered into a tunnel. Boreas screamed in pain as the Steelix's iron grip nearly crushed him and the sharp metal edges dug into his flesh. He was very sure the edges like knives were giving him big wounds and he was probably bleeding from them. As the Steelix dragged him through tunnels and chambers like this, he put his front paws on two of the different sections holding him, and unleashed the most powerful pulses of cold he could muster into them. Steelix roared in pain, a piercing metallic roar, and Boreas screamed in pain as well as it tightened the coil around him for a moment, immediately forcing all air out of his lungs as he felt the now familiar pain of ribs breaking from the Steelix's mighty force crushing his chest.
But he couldn't relent, despite the pain. He unleashed as many pulses of cold into his enemy's serpentine body as he could, piercing its metallic armour with them. It uncoiled, dropping him to the ground where he more or less managed to remain standing. They were in another large room with a very beautifully made high ceiling, which gave Steelix enough room to heave its head up above him. Boreas aimed for its eyes and Ice Beamed them, hitting his enemy's weakest points successfully. It roared in pain and anger and its huge head came at him rapidly, its mouth open showing row upon row of sharp metal teeth the size and shape of daggers. Boreas Ice Beamed into its throat, but realised it would not save him from being devoured by this monstrosity.
But then the most curious thing happened: it stopped and slithered away into a tunnel more rapidly than Boreas could follow. For some reason, it had fled from him, a Glaceon not a tenth its size. At that moment, the pain of his injuries really reached him and he collapsed. He was rapidly losing blood from several huge cuts his enemy's sharp edges had made, he had several broken ribs and he could see his skin turn a bruised purple under his fur on various places. He realised he would never survive this much blood loss unless he was treated quickly, so he had to get back to Black or White immediately and really hope they'd win the battle.
He struggled back to four legs and walked back as fast as he could manage. One of his front legs was horribly bruised and hurt so much he had to walk with a clumsy three-legged gait, occasionally collapsing completely from pain and blood loss. His breath wheezed. Steelix's path back was easy to follow by the deep trails of damage the metal snake had left to every room and corridor it had passed through. At last, Boreas managed to reach the chamber the battle had started in as he just couldn't go on. He couldn't even walk any more, so weakened was he by all the blood pouring out of his wounds. The room was only lit by a few small fires now; clearly the battle here had ended. There were several shapes lying on the ground, but it was too dark to see who they were unless he was close by. He dragged himself past Lucario, past Lucius lying on the floor - whether dead or alive Boreas couldn't determine in his own state - past Bastiodon, and past Simipour and Selene. Then, to his great horror, he passed a slender, green, serpentine form just as he couldn't even drag himself on. Octa was bleeding even worse than Boreas was from immense wounds; was horribly maimed, missing his tail-leaves and an arm, and had several large burns. Boreas grabbed his friend's still form with his last strength.
“N-no! Octa... Not you, you can't die!” he desperately whispered.
Octa opened his eyes. Or, rather, eye, as what was left of the other one amidst a horrible wound to the entire left side of his face didn't qualify as an eye any more. “My... dear fellow...” Octa whispered hoarsely as blood dripped out of his mouth. “It seems... I can.”
“No... No... Please, Octa... Don't leave me...” he whispered as he embraced Octa tightly. “It's not too late. Black or White can just treat your wounds and give you potions and-”
“No,” Octa whispered weakly into his ear. “'Tis too late for that... I... I am happy to at least die in your presence... my dear fellow... You have been... and always shall be... my friend.”
Boreas felt tears streaming on his cheeks, but then he realised he was hearing the best sound in the world behind him: the heavy steps of a large, bipedal creature. He knew it was Black, and Octa might still stand a chance if he would return him to his pokéball immediately and only let him out once they were at the pokécenter.
He gratefully turned to look at the feet behind him, but to his surprise and horror they weren't wearing shoes. In fact, they were not human at all: furry and clawed. Boreas looked up slowly across a large, bipedal form covered in dark grey fur that was rather thin at some partially-healed burns. A huge, dark red ponytail with a purple band holding it together hung from a snouted face. Bloodshot eyes with dark purple irises looked down at him above a malicious grin that missed two teeth.
“No... Not you...” Boreas gasped.
“Hello, Boreas,” grinned Diego.
Sad for Boreas. =/
Yah, it's a bit annoying to be around a group of couples... x,x
lol at Zeph just staring at everything. xD
Frost Concussion is now offensive, eh?
But too close means too risky. =/
Octa's going to die, and Boreas' is not in good condition, and Diego showed up.
All in all, a great chapter, and an exciting one, and a sad one as well... =/
I can't wait for the next chapter, yet unfortunately, I do need to wait for it.
Yeah, it is. But don't feel too sorry for him; he's not exactly blameless on that point either.
Chapter Fifty-Five: Fight or Flight?
Boreas tried to put himself between Diego and Octa's still form, determined not to let the cruel Zoroark any closer to his dying friend. “Stay away from him, you monster!” he commanded furiously. “I won't let you hurt him again! Harm one more scale on his body, and I'll make you regret it!”
Diego laughed coldly. “Don't worry, Boreas, I won't hurt him any more. After all, what's the use of hurting someone who has a minute left at best?”
Boreas wanted nothing more than to tear Diego's limbs off for killing Octa, but he couldn't even stand, so weakened was he. Even sitting was hard; he was half-lying over Octa to protect him. “Why did you do this to him?!” he shouted, powerless. “He did not deserve to die. Do you have any idea what an amazing person it was that you killed?!”
Diego reached down. With a final outpouring of strength to protect Octa, like a small animal defending its wounded mate from a much larger predator, Boreas bit Diego's paw and fired an Ice Beam at him. Diego fell as the Ice Beam hit his stomach, so Boreas pounced him with furious determination. He tried to pump pulses of cold through his enemy's body, but at that moment the energy his determination to save Octa had given him had simply run out. His vision became dotted with black spots that soon filled his field of view, his heartbeat sounded like a loud drum in his ears, and a splitting headache and dizziness clouded his mind as he collapsed on top of Diego.
He felt the Zoroark's powerful grip around his neck and was in even more pain than he already was as he was lifted up by it again. Diego lifted him all the way up to his face's height. Diego looked into Boreas' eyes, a bloodshot purple with dark circles under them. “I didn't do that to him,” his voice sounded very far away as Boreas drifted at the edge of consciousness. “Or at least, I didn't do most of it. I just contributed a small bit. Giallo's pokémon did most of the work.”
“You... You will all pay for this,” Boreas said through his throat being clenched as he returned to full consciousness. “I will do things so horrible to you even your twisted mind can't even imagine them. Because Octa was the best friend I've ever had! He was kind, smart, noble, wise, and so much more! I loved him like he was my brother; more than that even! I swear, Diego, my revenge will be horrible!”
Diego grinned. “Touching. I'm very curious to see how you're going to rain this horrible vengeance down on my head, as it seems to me that I'm here in pretty good condition, holding you up by your throat once more, while you're at Death's door. And it will be my pleasure to open it for you. Because your use to Team Plasma has ended.”
Diego threw Boreas to the ground hard, making him groan in pain. He tried to get up, but could do nothing but lie there and pant. Dark spots danced before his eyes, his vision went unfocussed, and then a bright light spot appeared before his eyes as he lay on his side. He felt something on the upper side of his head, and realised it was Diego's foot, fortunately with no weight on it at the moment. Though it was hard to detect amidst the stinging smell of smoke that hung in the chamber, he now realised he had been smelling Diego when he entered the Relic Castle. “Ba... Bastard...”
“It's over, Boreas,” whispered Diego. “But before I kill you, you need to know one last thing. I want you to understand before the end, see the horror at the revelation in your eyes as your live ebbs away. I- Argh!” The foot was suddenly taken off Boreas' head, but his mind and eyes were too clouded to realise what was happening.
“If you ever touch him again, you shall die the most horrifying of deaths, you malicious Mephistophelean monstrosity!” said a deep, noble voice angrily.
Boreas thought he heard sounds of combat. “How stupid of me. I should've killed you completely when I had the chance.”
“Indeed, that would have been the wiser course of action,” the noble voice said between sounds of fighting. “For now I shall protect Boreas from you, or die trying! You shall hurt him nevermore! This I swear upon the name of Equinox the great!”
Boreas had to indulge his curiosity, despite how his mind drifted on the edge of unconsciousness and the pain he felt. He managed to turn to his other side and saw Diego fighting a Serperior. He laughed weakly, but happily as he realised Octa had evolved to save them both. Boreas closed his eyes, feeling safe and reassured that Octa was alive and would protect him.
Octa had no time to revel in the bizarre feeling of having a new body. Diego was a mighty opponent, so he had to keep his mind on the battle. That he had managed to induce his evolutionary metamorphosis had come as quite a surprise to Octa. He had tried to evolve before, but no amount of thought to that end had made him evolve any more than it had given him wings or turned him orange.
When Bastiodon and Klinklang had together wounded him so terribly, even to the point where one of his arms had got stuck in Klinklang's machinery and had been torn off by the grinding gears, he had realised evolution was his only hope. As his blood had flowed out of his body, he had tried and tried and wished to evolve, but nothing had happened and he got weaker and weaker.
By the time the battle in the room had ended and Boreas had found him, he had been more or less resigned to die. At least he was dying in a manner worthy of a descendant of Equinox, and despite the recent arguments about his choice of mate, his family would likely remember him fondly and honour his memory like those of his illustrious ancestors.
But then, as he felt his final breath near, Diego had come in, and Boreas had defended him, a dying Servine, with such valour. It had warmed Octa's heart, but he also realised Boreas was about to die himself. It had given him such determination, he had managed to evolve in his weakened state, fortunately while Diego wasn't looking at him.
And now he was fighting Diego. Having recently evolved to a Serperior was both a blessing and a curse: on the one hand his new form was very powerful and agile, on the other he was not used to fighting with it and made a few grave errors. The lack of rear legs especially took getting used to.
He had to hurry and defeat Diego as soon as possible. Boreas was gravely injured, though not nearly as gravely as Octa had been moments ago, and would need medical aid as soon as possible.
“My dear fellow! My dear fellow, please, I implore you to reawaken!” the voice returned Boreas from his sleep.
“Whuh?” he said as he opened his eyes the little bit he could manage. He was in pain all over, but didn't care as he saw Octa's face before him. It had changed: his friend's yellow skin had turned white, the single yellow extension behind his head had split into three purple extensions, and the patterns on his head were different. He looked nobler and more aloof, yet he was still, unmistakably, Octa. Especially his warm brown eyes were clearly Octa's. Boreas managed to put a paw around his neck and hugged his friend. “Octa... You bastard, you had me thinking you were dead! Oh, who am I kidding, I'm so happy to see you... You've evolved to such a good-looking Serperior...”
Octa smiled warmly as he hugged back, using both the long, Snivy-like arms which were shared in his family even when they evolved to Serperior, and his now very lengthy body to wrap Boreas up in a tight hug. “Thank you, my dear fellow,” he said. Octa's voice had become deeper, more melodic and noble now that he had evolved. “But 'tis yourself whom you must thank for the survival of us both. Your brave defence of me even as you were grievously wounded gave me the motivation to make myself evolve. But now, you cannot allow yourself to fall back asleep; I need you to stay awake. You are losing a lot of blood, but I shall take care of you and rescue you. Do not be afraid.”
“Th... thank you... But I'm not afraid... I'm with you...”
Octa smiled warmly. “Thank you, my dear fellow. We shall have to wait for Black to find us for real medical aid, but for now I can at least prevent as much blood as possible from escaping through your wounds by holding you this tightly.”
“Where's Diego? Did you get him?”
“I'm afraid I did not. I battled him for a while until your brother entered the chamber and joined the fight against him. Diego fled, your brother pursued, but I stayed here to care for you.”
“Hope Zeph gets that bastard...” mumbled Boreas.
“So do I, my dear fellow,” Octa smiled, “although I am merely happy we are both alive, and shall make sure you'll remain living.”
“Thanks... What about the others? Did they survive the battle? And did we win?”
“The battle is not over yet, my dear fellow; 'tis merely ended in this particular chamber. Our enemy's Magnezone and Steelix both remain fighting in a different chamber and shall be very difficult for our allies to defeat.”
“The battle's still going on? Then what're you wasting your time for with me, go help using your great new Serperior-powers!”
“No, my dear fellow; you require care and I'm not willing to risk your demise.”
“But what about Toxica? Don't you think she might need my help? I mean, Steelix did this to me pretty much on its own.”
“Toxica is capable of caring for herself; you are not in your present condition. I shall remain here until Black finds us and returns you to your pokéball.”
That, fortunately, happened to be only moments later. Black was wounded and bleeding from his arm and his leg, but he ran in carrying an unconscious Toxica and took up care for Boreas as Octa went to fight Giallo's remaining pokémon.
Octa slithered through the tunnels as fast as he could, looking for Zephyrus. Now that Boreas was safely in Black's hands, he needed to use his considerable prowess in battle to defeat their enemies.
Suddenly the horrific visage of Steelix appeared ahead in the tunnel, rapidly coming into his direction, as fast, heavy and unstoppable like a high-speed train. Octa immediately shot an Energy Ball, but it was harmlessly absorbed by the creature's steel armour. Octa pressed himself against the wall to prevent the much larger snake from running him over, and fortunately managed to just avoid being crushed between the wall and the mighty metal creature as it passed by. Octa caught a quick glimpse of Giallo, the corpulent, yellow-clothed Sage on Steelix's back, covered between two sections of the serpent.
Octa endeavoured to stab his Leaf Blade between two sections of the Steelix as it passed, but it harmlessly bounced off. When the gigantic thing had finally passed him Octa cursed and followed it, realising it was returning to the chamber where his dear Boreas, Toxica, and Black still were. A mighty wave of flame hit Steelix from behind, though Octa found the amount of heat and light said flames created, especially considering his proximity to them, somewhat disappointing. Zeph was also pursuing Steelix.
“Sorry 'bout that, Octa!” he said as they ran after the Steelix. Unfortunately it seemed to be faster than both of them, as they were falling behind.
“'Tis no problem; you did not hit me with it. Where is Diego?”
“Escaped! I lost the bastard when he ran through the battle in that room, so I juft joined the battle and beat Magnezone, and then Steelix and Giallo fled! How's Boreas?”
“Black is taking care of him presently, but if we do not catch up, Steelix may kill them yet!”
By the time Boreas was released from the bizarre world inside his pokéball, he was in the Castelia pokécenter. While his wounds were pretty serious, they were quite easy to heal with the technology in the pokécenter. He wasn't the only one who had made the return journey in their pokéball either: Lucius and Selene had both been nearly crushed to death by their enemies, but where fortunately still alive. Toxica had a severe concussion and her skull had been cracked by Bastiodon. All of White's pokémon had been dangerously wounded as well. Fortunately, the pokécenter had been able to save everyone except Simipour.
Octa and Zeph had been the only ones without dangerous wounds (in Octa's case that solely was due to evolution, of course), and Boreas immediately wanted to hear the whole story of the battle from Octa, while Zeph was insisting to Nurse War's Audino that he was not hurt in any way and didn't want to be checked up. After Octa had told him the entire story, he wanted to hear it from Zeph as well. Apparently, Zeph had managed to follow Diego until he came into the room where Magnezone and Steelix were fighting Febby, Esper, and Simipour. By the time he was there, Zeph was already quite far behind Diego (He lamented once again that he hadn't evolved to a Jolteon), and Zeph had lost him in the crossfire.
So he had joined the battle instead, but unfortunately Simipour, Febby, and Esper all fell to their enemies soon after. Zeph had managed to knock out Magnezone on his own, and was about to try and defeat Steelix, when Giallo had ordered his pokémon to retreat. Zeph had followed them, of course, but, cursing his slower Flareon shape once again, regretted to say he couldn't keep up with them, and neither could Octa when he joined in the chase. For some reason, though, Giallo hadn't made his Steelix kill Black, who was in that room alone, but the monster had carefully avoided even slithering over Black and Giallo had just retrieved all of his pokémon without fighting any more.
Then Steelix had burrowed rapidly into the ground with its trainer still on its back, at an incredible speed. Zeph and Octa had tried to follow them into the tunnel, but it collapsed soon after Steelix had passed through it. Fortunately, White had not been injured too badly and could walk after Black gave her some treatment. They had walked back through the desert slowly, until finally reaching the Castelia pokécenter where everyone had been healed.
A sad exception was Simipour, who had been shocked so much by Magnezone there was no more saving him. Boreas was sorry to hear Simipour was dead. He didn't know him well, but he had seemed like a pleasant, cheerful sort of guy on the journey to the Castle. He felt he really had to offer Febby his condolences.
“I'm sorry for your loss, Febby,” he said sadly as he reached her and Esper. “Yours too, Edward.”
Febby's eyes were red with tears. “Th-thank you, Boreas... He's the second friend I've lost to Team Plasma... First Thomas and now...”
“Team Plasma will pay for it,” said Boreas determinedly. “For them, for Capella, and for all the other pokémon and people they've killed.”
“Really?” asked Febby with a small voice.
“Yes, if I have anything to say about it, they will. They may claim they're doing good, but it's nothing more than evil with a nice mask on.”
Boreas walked through the Icirrus pokécenter's corridors. He was happy he would see Aqua again in a moment, but mainly preoccupied. Many things bothered him about the battle in the Relic Castle. He was happy to have won with only one casualty, but it was so strange for Giallo to have retreated when he had basically won. Zeph and Octa had been the only ones of their side still capable of fighting at the end, while Giallo had Diego and the incredibly mighty Steelix. Yet, instead of destroying them all with the near-invincible metal monster that was that Steelix, Giallo had chosen to instead use it to retrieve his knocked-out pokémon and burrow a way out of the castle.
But that was not even the weirdest thing. By all rights, Giallo shouldn't have been there. It had taken a lifetime archaeologist like Lenora a long time to discover the Light Stone should be in the Relic Castle. It seemed unlikely Plasma would've just happened to have made the same discovery at almost the same moment, particularly because when Octa's family had been attacked, Team Plasma had also had knowledge of their plans. Somehow, Plasma knew everything they did.
And where was the Light Stone anyway? Lenora had had no idea when Black reported it was missing, and had promised to find out. But had also warned it would take a long time; so now the plan was to just continue the journey and travel to Opelucid to battle Drayden, the final Gym Leader they had to beat to be allowed to challenge the Pokémon League.
Boreas tried to put these thoughts out of his mind as he entered Aqua's room. “Guess who's back, my love?” he saw the room was empty; no Aqua on the bed. “My love?”
He was pounced suddenly and roughly from the side, thrown over to his back, and something blue jumped on top of him in an instant, then kissed him passionately. “Oh, Boreas, how I've missed you,” said Aqua once the kiss ended.
“Y-yeah,” Boreas stammered, overwhelmed by being suddenly pounced and the kiss. “I missed you too, my love. I take it your back's better, then?”
“Mm- Much better!” said Aqua happily as she covered his face in kisses. “I've been- mm- recovering much better and faster than-mm- expected, and I've been able to walk and run and swim and do all other kinds of things perfectly for days now! Though... Some things I haven't tried to do yet...”
Boreas winked. “I'll be happy to help you try those things.”
“Oh good,” grinned Aqua as she kissed him again and again. “Because I've been waiting for you, longing for you, my sexy Glaceon.”
Boreas' mind was swimming in desire as they kissed with more and more fire, so he really had to force his mind to stay focussed. “Not- mm- here, my lovely- mm- Aqua. We're- mm- in a public room in a- mm- pokécenter.”
“I don't- mm- care; I want you- mm- right now.”
With a titanic effort of will, Boreas managed to softly push Aqua away from him. “So do I, but just wait a few more minutes. We'll go outside to a better place, and then... I'm all yours.”
“Okay...” said Aqua as they stood up. “But be warned: I'm jumping you the moment we're out of sight.”
Boreas laughed. “Then let's find some privacy as fast as we can.”
Boreas panted in exhaustion. He felt like he could easily fall asleep, though the Sun hadn't even set yet. Aqua was snuggling up to him, her body feeling warm against his. She was breathing rapidly and he could feel her heartbeat racing.
“That was delightful,” she panted. “The best fun I've had since... Well, since last time, really. So, you're the best judge of this, my amazing Boreas: did I recover fully?”
Boreas was about to say yes, but caught himself. “Hmm, I'm not sure. I think I'll need to run more tests tonight. And tomorrow. And many other times; after all I have to be sure, and for that I need lots of data. Lots and lots of data.”
“Of course,” said Aqua, innocently. “I'll be happy to give you all the data you require. But I think tonight could be a bit of a problem. I don't think the real doctor will take kindly to you playing doctor with me in the middle of the night. After all, I haven't been discharged yet, and they say I need rest. And after this, I couldn't agree more, to be honest. But in two days, if all goes well, I'm free to leave.”
“I look forward to it.” Then he remembered her plans and felt a lot less elated. “On second thought... Since you're going to rejoin Team Plasma, I guess we won't have much time to spend together after that...”
“Actually...” said Aqua with a little smile, “we may yet. I'm not going back to Team Plasma.”
Boreas beamed widely. “My love, that's amazing news! But why?”
“Well, there's several reasons, really. I think humans may not as bad as I originally thought they were. Nurse Ebola really took very good care of me and was really friendly... And I've seen other humans whose pokémon were in the pokécenter, and they really cared for them a lot... I can't forgive them for what they did, but maybe separating pokémon from them completely is too much. It would do as much harm as good. Secondly, I think Team Plasma is not good. The things they've done and continue to do are wrong, even is their cause is right. N is a good man, but his underlings, especially the Sages... They aren't. Their war is an evil thing, and I refuse to fight it.”
Boreas gave Aqua a soft, loving kiss. “I'm so happy to hear that, my love.”
“But wait, there's more: In fact, I think I may travel with you to Opelucid. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to join Black's team, and I am strictly neutral in this war, but wouldn't it be great if I accompanied you on the journey? I feel a lot less bad about being with humans now, thanks to you and N and Nurse Ebola.”
“Really?” stammered Boreas happily.
“Yeah,” Aqua giggled as she nuzzled him. “Is it everything you had ever hoped for?”
“Well, not everything,” teased Boreas.
They kept lying there, cuddling happily as neither of them wanted to get up to return to the pokécenter yet. Boreas knew he should be happy, yet his mind couldn't help but return to the battle in the Relic castle. He tried to find an explanation for it all; there had to be one.
“My love,” asked Aqua, “are you alright?”
“Hmm?” Boreas startled and returned a smile to his face. “I'm fine, don't worry.”
“You're not fine, love, you're troubled by something.”
Boreas sighed. “Very strange things have happened in the Relic Castle; even before then. Plasma seems to know our every move, yet retreats when it's close to a complete victory. I'm trying to think of an explanation to that and others things. It's quite maddening; I'm almost beginning to think it was all just a big coincidence... Aqua, did you ever hear anything about a mole Team Plasma might have while you were with N?”
Aqua frowned. “I am neutral in this war, so I don't want you to ask me things like that. But, just for this one time: no, I never heard anything about moles, but that doesn't mean there are none.”
Boreas sighed. “Well, I guess I should just try to forget about it; it's getting me nowhere. But that's hard; especially at night when I'm trying to sleep I keep thinking about it.”
“Well, fortunately you now have me to distract you at night instead. And believe me when I tell you I won't give you the time to think about these riddles.”
Yay! I hate you for delaying it! But it was a great intense feeling!
At first, I thought Zeph came for the rescue.
Sad for the Simipour...
Octa and Toxica are alive! Yay!
Wow, Aqua no longer wishes to stay with Team Plasma.
Leaving her there in the PokéCenter was a good idea afterall.
And she's joining their journey (but not with Black's team), that's cool!
I wonder what sort of things Lucius will throw at them.
A very nice new chapter.
Finally, the dusty chamber battle has concluded.
It was a really good read. A bit annoying that Diego is good at fighting and fleeing...
Looking forward to the next chapter~!
It was a bit of a mean cliffhanger, wasn't it? The fact that he'd evolve soon had been foreshadowed for a while, though. And as for Zeph, he can hardly save Boreas every time.
Chapter Fifty-Six: The Spartan Mayor
The journey over Route 8 was a relatively uneventful one. The road slowly descended from the high Icirrus into the forested vales between the mountains, past rivers and the occasional lake. Then they travelled north-east through the vales, and the mountains around them slowly became lower as they continued. Then they were between hills and then they entered the wide plains between the White and Black mountain ranges. Here the route became a small path through marshland dotted with small lakes. Boreas later remembered little of it, aside from the joy of travelling with Aqua. Being around her every day and night was delightful and made the war and the problems that had worried him so much before seem distant and unimportant.
The swamp didn't bother Boreas much, though he got quite dirty and wet from the soft mud. The grass-types and Selene didn't mind either, and Aqua even enjoyed the wet landscape. But not everyone felt like that.
“Stupid, buggering, blasted, bloody swamp!” Zeph cursed behind Boreas. He was stuck deep in the mud, swearing angrily as he tried to pull himself out and walk on.
Boreas laughed at the view of his brother stuck in mud that reached almost to his shoulders. “Need some help, Zeph?”
Zeph managed to drag himself out before Boreas could help him. “Ftinking bog, I hope the humans will drain it and build an actual road here!”
Boreas giggled at his brother, who was covered in mud. “You know, I walked over that mud myself just now and only sank to my ankles. If you sank into it that far, you only have yourself to blame.”
“Shut up, Black and Lucius also sink deep into the swamp all the time.”
“Yeah, but they're both much heavier than us. It's only normal they would sink deep, but if that happens to you, it's your own fault for being clumsy.”
“Hmpf,” groaned Zeph as he dragged himself on. “Whatever. I don't see why we couldn't just take the train. We wouldn't have to travel through this ugly bog and get all wet if we did; we'd have been in Opelucid days ago!”
“Because we'd get little training like that and would probably lose to Drayden. Besides, this is fun, seeing all these places . Where's your sense of adventure?”
“Somewhere warm and dry,” grumbled Zeph as he sunk into the mud once again.
After the swamps of Route 8 they crossed the old Tubeline Bridge, a metallic bridge from the industrial age over the train tracks. When they had crossed it, all that stood between them and Opelucid was the simple, forested road of Route 9. It was on the last night before reaching Opelucid that Boreas had a terrifying epiphany. He had lain awake all night, while Aqua was sleeping obliviously in his arms. Normally her soft breathing on him and the slow beat of her heart against his would take his mind off of things, but not tonight.
He had been thinking all night, and finally reached a conclusion. It seemed ridiculous at first, and he had almost dismissed it immediately, but then he realised there was more to it than it seemed. It explained a great many things. It had to be a coincidence, though; it couldn't be true. But even the small details matched up. Tiny little things Boreas had never paid much thought suddenly were clues to a sinister truth.
Boreas trembled in fury and fear when he realised it really was true, horrible though it was. He could punch himself for such stupidity and naivety. How could he have fallen for it? He had half a mind of getting up and killing the mole while sleeping, but he realised if he was right, the mole wouldn't actually be sleeping. Attacking that person now would probably end up in disaster, as Boreas' friends would of course have no idea what was going on and think Boreas had gone mental; they would try to stop him, and that could be the death of someone with the mole in their midst. No, Boreas needed to confront his friends with the evidence one-by-one and in secret, and only then attack. Until all his friends knew what was going on, he had to pretend he knew nothing.
Boreas breathed a bit easier. At least he was now the one with an advantage, as only he knew he knew this, not his enemy. Though he would have to wait with his revenge, Boreas could at least keep an eye on the mole meanwhile. Aside from the anger and fear, Boreas now realised he felt paradoxical admiration and respect as well: it was all a very impressive trick, and a role well-played, as no-one had suspected the mole, not even Boreas before this moment. Boreas could only imagine how hard it had been and how much work. But that admiration wouldn't stop Boreas from killing the mole once he had the chance.
Opelucid was a strange city. Its outer parts were ancient, with old buildings of wood and stone and very pretty architecture and monuments. But at the city's centre, it abruptly changed to a futuristic city of plastic, glass, and metal. The inhabitants were all using the latest gadgets here, while there had barely been any in the outer parts. An information leaflet explained the city's centre had been destroyed during the last war Unova had been in. Instead of rebuilding it as it had been, it had been rebuilt in contemporary style, and at that point the new centre had begun attracting an entirely different kind of person than the old city.
The city's centre had been in continuous renewal since then to remain modern. Many inhabitants of the outer parts of the city considered the centre an ugly tumour ruining their city, wile many people in the centre considered the outer parts useless old ruins that were in the way of the expansion of the centre and full of nostalgic old buffoons.
At least the Opelucidians seemed more interested in arguing about which part of the city was best than in arguing about pokémon. While there were few trainers or pokémon on the streets and Black got a few unpleasant remarks thrown at him, the situation wasn't as bad as in Castelia.
Black was marvelling so much at Opelucid's futuristic centre that he nearly bumped into Alder before recognising him. “Cha-champion Alder? You here?” he stammered.
The Champion's long yellow poncho looked comically out of place between the red, yellow, or blue with black spandex suits most inhabitants of the centre wore. “Yes, Black, I'm here. And so are you. And although our purposes are slightly different, we are both here to meet Drayden. You want to challenge him, I want to use his personal library to try and find information about the Light Stone.”
Black walked along with Alder. “Then Lenora hasn't made any progress finding it?”
Alder shook his head. “Nothing. But I'm sure we'll find it eventually. If it's in any museum or collection in the world, there should be records of it. Even if some treasure hunter found it and sold it somewhere, we might still find it. I can only hope we can find the stone before it's too late... We are losing this war. But that's enough about this; let's talk about my future challenger. We barely had time to speak last time we met, but the time before that, I asked you what you were going to do when you were Champion. You didn't know, but agreed with me that there was more than just becoming stronger. But becoming Champion was no more than a distant hope then; now you are on the eve of claiming your eighth badge. I want to ask you the same question once more.”
Black pondered it for a moment. “A few months ago, Capella - my Dratini - died in battle against Team Plasma. It lowered my wish to be Champion and made me want to stop my quest. But I continued to stop Team Plasma. It's what this is about, much more than being Champion. And stopping them is exactly what I'll do when I'm Champion. I want to use my power for good.”
Alder nodded. “The death of a pokémon can make us think about our friendship with them and what it means better. I pursued power for its own sake madly, until my oldest friend, my starter pokémon, died. It changed my outlook on life.”
They had reached a square, where a crowd was listening to a skeleton-like old bearded man in a green robe talk. Boreas frowned and charged up an Ice Beam as Black began to order his pokémon to attack, but...
“Don't,” said Alder. “It would force him to take the crowd hostage. And even if he didn't, a battle between three trainers as powerful as us would cause too much collateral damage in a densely populated city like this. Let's listen to what he has to say instead.”
They joined the crowd, but Boreas' mind quickly began to wander instead of listening to Ryoku blather on about how glorious Team Plasma was and how great N and the legendary Zekrom were. Boreas was taken back to the very first time he had met Team Plasma, back in Accumula. They had seemed so reasonable to the little Eevee he had been then; he had had no idea yet of the surprising adventures that were awaiting him. He felt a certain nostalgia to those days. Things had been so simple and calm, and he had been young and small. Plasma were just some people in weird suits, Diego was just a Zorua disguised as a Purrloin, and he just a little Eevee cub who had recently lost his family but got two great friends in exchange.
He had almost been given away for adoption that day. Boreas wondered how different his life would've been if he hadn't chosen to stay with Black. He couldn't begin to imagine. He would never have met Aqua, or Capella, Selene, Toxica, Lucius, Febby, or any other person he'd met on his journey. He might've kept some contact with Octa, but even that would probably wane. On the other hand, he would never have been in the war and never had to see friends die. He realised that was completely worth it as he gave Aqua a kiss on her cheek.
“What was that for?” she asked with a surprised smile.
“I'm just happy to be in love with the loveliest girl in the world.”
Aqua raised an eyebrow. “Don't worry, my love, I'm not about to go back to Team Plasma, despite this speech. I agree with most of what he is saying, but Team Plasma's way of enforcing their will is wrong.”
“Glad to hear it, but I wasn't worried about that.”
Next to them, two humans - a young dark-skinned girl with long hair and an athletic old man with a big white beard that hid his mouth completely - were also watching.
“What is this all about?” the girl asked. “He talks about liberating pokémon like he's friendly, yet he's also threatening to kill people who don't listen? That's off-the-charts strange!”
The old man nodded. “The cooperation of people and pokémon is how Unova came to exist to begin with. If a pokémon really didn't want anything to do with humans, it would simply leave... Capturing a pokémon in a pokéball doesn't mean you've captured its heart.”
“It's been a while, Iris and Drayden,” Alder greeted them.
“Oh, hello, mr. Alder,” said Iris.
“What's wrong?” asked Drayden. “What does the wandering Champion who left the Pokémon League need from us?” It was weird to see him talk, as his mouth was completely hidden behind his beard, making it look like he had none and his beard was just moving up and down when he spoke.
“I'm sure you've heard by now that Team Plasma's king has reawoken Zekrom from the Dark Stone. Black and I need to awake Reshiram from the Light Stone to stop Team Plasma, but first we'll need to find it.”
Drayden nodded. “Come with me to my house, then. I'll tell you as much about the legendary dragons as I can, and you might find something in my library.”
They followed Drayden and Iris to Drayden's house, while explaining to them how the Light Stone hadn't been in the Relic Castle, though Lenora had thought it would be there. The futuristic door slid open after checking Drayden's fingerprint. Yet the house was quite old-fashioned on the inside. There were large, full bookcases. “I'm sure you'll find what you're looking for here. But before you search, let me tell you more about Reshiram and Zekrom. You see, a long time ago, they were a single pokémon named Kyurem.”
“Yeah,” piped Iris, “and Kyurem worked with the twin heroes to unite Unova and bring about an era of peace and happiness!”
“Sadly, the twin heroes began to argue. The arguments between the older brother, who sought the truth, and the younger brother who sought ideals, became worse and worse. Arguments became fights, and fights became a war. Kyurem had a powerful mental connection with each of them; it was torn apart by their war. The minds of each of them tore the qualities they sought most from Kyurem, and so created two new dragons, Reshiram and Zekrom. The leftover remains of the near-dead Kyurem, wretched, weak, and without the qualities of either Reshiram or Zekrom, fled into the Black Mountains, never to be seen again. But the brothers had no eyes for what remained of their friend, only for their new creations.”
Iris added: “Reshiram bonded with the older hero, trying to usher in a new and better world of truth; while Zekrom bonded with the younger hero, trying to usher in an ideal world of hope. Poor Kyurem was left without either, a terrible creature of lies and despair, but also very weak and on the edge of death.”
Drayden nodded. “The battle between Reshiram and Zekrom destroyed Unova with fire and lightning. But the two were once the same, so neither could win. Eventually the heroes realised this and declared peace. And Unova was once again united, though damaged. But the heroes' new unity couldn't reunite Reshiram and Zekrom, as the damage that had been done could not be undone. The heroes worked together once again, but their brotherhood had been damaged forever, as had the dragon, for the heroes had left behind the traits neither of them valued in the remaining creature. Without Kyurem, Reshiram and Zekrom could not be one again.”
“The heroes died of old age in the end. Reshiram and Zekrom were only parts of a dragon, they couldn't stay in existence without their connection to the heroes. So they died too. But not really; they became the Light and the Dark Stones. Just like Kyurem, they didn't really die, but they didn't really live either. They simply waited for another hero to make a new connection with.”
“Since N bonded with Zekrom and resurrected it, he must the hero Zekrom has waited for. But I cannot say the same for the rest of Team Plasma. N has clearly been manipulated by these evil people. I believe you may be right to think only Reshiram can stop Zekrom now. But unfortunately, I don't know where the Light stone is. My best guess would be Dragonspiral Tower or Relic Castle, but of course we know it's in neither. There may be more information in my books, though. Iris, will you help Alder try to find it while I battle Black? Because that's the other reason you're here, isn't it?”
Black nodded and followed him. Boreas understood it all better now. “Did you know about all this?” he asked Octa.
“Most of it,” boasted Octa.
“No, you didn't. Just like me, you knew some of it, but not nearly everything.”
They bickered about it until they reached the Gym. “Our final Gym Leader, team,” said Black. “Let's make this a great battle!”
“Looks like you'll finally get to see me battle a Gym Leader, love,” said Boreas to Aqua.
Aqua simply winked and smiled at him at they entered the Gym. It was a large, wide open space inside with a thin bridge decorated with snake-like black and white dragons spanning the gap. Drayden stood on the other side of the Gym, across the bridge.
“Drayden!” called Black. “I have come to challenge you for the Legend Badge!”
“And I accept,” Drayden's deep voice sounded. “As the city's mayor, I've given everything to development. But the newest things are not always the best. Trust is vitally important. Therefore, this will be a double battle, between our first two pokémon! Show me how your oldest friends trust you and each other!” He threw two pokéballs, releasing a Druddigon and a Haxorus.
Boreas and Octa walked forward onto the bridge, approaching their enemies. “Good luck, my dear fellow,” said Octa as he drew his blade.
“You too, Octa,” said Boreas. As the battle begun, he immediately fired an Ice Beam to the Haxorus' head, but it dropped flat on the ground, dodging the beam, and skittered rapidly towards Octa and Boreas on all fours. Boreas aimed Ice Beams at it to stop it in its track, but it dodged them with incredible agility. The dragon reached Boreas and pounced him, its massive tusks ready to strike. Boreas waved his paw rapidly and managed to hit his opponent with a Frost Concussion, disturbing its pounce. Still, the impact was immense, like a train hitting him. Boreas was launched into the air by the impact and nearly didn't land on the bridge.
Octa had his hands full with Druddigon as well, as it seemed to know Flamethrower. But Boreas had no time to help Octa, as Haxorus had already reached him and swung its tough, heavy tail at Boreas. It hit Boreas with near bone-breaking impact and knocked him down once again. Boreas Ice Beamed his opponent's belly, making it roar in pain, but that didn't stop its claws from leaving deep wounds in Boreas' side. Boreas realised that despite his type advantage, the battle wasn't going well. He tried to get up and fight his enemy, but then he was hit ferociously hard by the Haxorus' though tail, which nearly knocked him off the side of the bridge.
Boreas realised neither Ice Beam nor Frost Concussion was going to win him this battle, his opponent was just to fast and powerful for that. There was one move that could make him stand a chance, but he was scared of it. After all, the last time he had used it he had nearly killed himself. I had only just evolved then, though. I'll be able to handle it this time.
His body cooled down to two-hundred degrees below zero and he unleashed that cold into the air, which immediately blasted through the Gym in a ferocious and ice-cold stormwind. The Gym's windows shattered and everything creaked with cold as the howling Blizzard blew through the Gym. It was raining; not with water but with liquid air that froze anything it touched. It was very cold even to Boreas, but it was nothing compared to what his opponents were going through. Haxorus was writhing in pain, its mouth and eyes frozen over already.
The same was happening to Druddigon, and unfortunately to Octa. Boreas tried to keep the worst of the storm away from his friend, but he could barely keep the Blizzard from going out of control again; there was no way he could control it enough to make it spare Octa. Fortunately, Boreas saw him disappear as Black returned him to his pokéball.
It was down to only Boreas now, but the Blizzard was getting harder and harder to control. It drained his energy to keep it under control. He saw his enemies, though hurt and freezing, weren't defeated yet, and he knew he would probably just collapse in exhaustion soon. He gave the Blizzard his final bit of energy, and fortunately saw Drayden return his pokémon to their pokéballs. He calmed the Blizzard down and everything went black as he collapsed.
Boreas was awoken by a potion being poured down his throat, giving him the energy to stand up again. He felt his energy rapidly return as Black thanked and congratulated him for the victory and he hugged Aqua. Boreas saw Octa look at him haughtily and smiled apologetically: “Sorry, Octa, I didn't realise I'd hit you too.”
At that moment, Iris and Alder ran into the Gym. “Drayden, Drayden,” Iris piped happily. “We know where it is! We've found the Light Stone!”
Boreas felt a sudden rush of terror as he realised she would tell them in a moment. This was all wrong; he had had no time at all to inform his friends! He realised if he didn't do something, it would be a disaster.
“Really?” asked Black. “That's great!”
Alder smiled. “Yes, the information we needed was indeed in the books.”
Boreas cooled his body down once again so he could strike immediately. There was no time to feel bad about things not going as he had planned; he had to make sure Plasma didn't find out where the stone was.
“Yeah,” chirped Iris. “It's actually in the-”
Having sneaked up behind the mole, Boreas put a paw to each side of that person's head and unleashed two ferocious pulses of cold into the brain, hopefully killing or at least severely handicapping his enemy.
In my spectatorship of your works, I have found out that you have a superb mind as I am suffering a writer's block. In other words, good one man.
Omigosh, its a mystery XD
I have a guess on who it is. It would explain the strange appearance, habits, and problems.
I'll resist saying who it could be. If I'm right, I don't want to spoil anyone. I'm wrong most of the time at first guesses though. Some probably have already guessed who it is too.
This is my first comment here, and I'd like to thank you for writing this awesome fic XD
He knew who the mole is, and we're gonna find out in the next chapter!
edit: I spent half a day thinking about the mole while I was bored.
At first, I am thinking it would be Zeph, but then Selene came into my mind.
So yeah, my bet goes to either of them. =/
Anyway, the battle was a bit fast-forwarded, but I think the battle wasn't the main focus on this chapter, so I'm okay with it.
And oh, I really like how you added Kyurem into the story of the two brothers. Now I feel a bit sad about the poor ice type.
It's a really great read, as always!
Looking forward to the next chapter~!
We'll learn more about Kyurem later yet.
Part Nine: The Road to Victory Chapter Fifty-Seven: The Exposed Rook
Zeph roared in pain, drowning out wherever Iris said the Light Stone was, but didn't collapse. Boreas immediately Ice Beamed him to the face, realising the die had been cast and he had to defeat him right now, or he might escape, kill someone, or find out where the Light Stone was. But before he could do more, he was tackled away by the much greater strength and weight of Lucius.
“What the hell do you think you're doing, pup?!” he yelled angrily as he pinned the smaller Glaceon down to the ground.
Boreas struggled to escape. “Let me go, you idiot! He'll hear it! He'll hear it, and Team Plasma will too!”
“Don't hurt him, Lucius!” pleaded Zeph. “He probably just hit his head too hard in the battle! I'm sure he didn't mean it!”
“Shut up, traitor!” Boreas snapped. “Don't try to act as if you're innocent!”
Boreas tried to aim another Ice Beam at Zeph, despite Lucius pressing him to the ground, but Octa got in the way. “Calm down, my dear fellow. Everything shall be well once we take you to the pokécenter.”
“Listen to me!” Boreas rambled in panic. “Let me go! Let me go! This is important!”
While the rest of the team was focussed on Boreas, Zeph made eye contact with him for a single moment. In that single moment a malevolent grin that Boreas knew all too well flashed over his face. Boreas kept struggling and trying to escape from Lucius to attack Zeph again.
“Stop struggling, my love,” said Aqua worriedly. “You're confused and attacked your brother just now.”
“No, you don't understand! It's not my brother, it's Diego! It's Diego, you can't let him hear where the stone is!”
“My poor brother,” said Zeph, “you don't know what you're saying. Don't worry, everything will be alright once you go to the pokécenter.”
“Listen to me!” Boreas roared. “We have to stop him! He's the reason Team Plasma knows our every move!”
“My dear fellow,” said Octa, “you can't expect us to believe Zephyrus is the mole without any evidence.”
The humans too were staring at the situation, baffled. But then Drayden said: “I'm sorry, I didn't catch where the stone was with that sudden roar.”
Boreas saw that confronting everyone with the evidence would take too long; it was up to him. Fortunately, Lucius wasn't exactly the brightest light on the team. He stopped struggling. “Alright, I guess you're right. Maybe I was too – Wh-what's that doing up there?!” he suddenly blurted out.
As Lucius looked up, Boreas kicked him as hard as he could, Ice Beamed his face, and threw the surprised and hurt Houndoom off him. He jumped up and tried to pounce Zeph, but was caught by a long, green, serpentine body, and wrapped up in its coils. “My dear fellow, stop this!” Octa said angrily.
Boreas struggled against Octa's coils. “Please, Octa!” he pleaded as he looked desperately into his friend's brown eyes. “I'm not mad, Zeph is Diego! Just make sure he doesn't hear it, I'll prove it to you when I have the time!”
Boreas must've somehow convinced Octa, as he nodded and turned to Zeph. “Zephyrus, methinks you should leave at this moment.”
But then Iris said: “It's in the Nacrene Museum.”
Zeph burst out into laughter. Not his normal, jovial laughter, but a cold, malevolent laugh in an entirely different voice than Zeph's. The laughing Flareon disappeared and revealed a large Zoroark standing in the same spot, with icy white spots on his hips – Boreas felt like an idiot for attacking where the illusion's head was instead of Diego's, which was obviously much higher up - and a small transmitter on his left ear. “Too late,” laughed Diego.
Several curses and startled exclamations sounded. “What did you do to Zeph?!” snarled Toxica. “You'd better not have hurt him!”
“Zeph's been dead for over a year,” explained Boreas angrily as Octa let him go. “It was Diego all the time. I was going to warn you all before confronting him, but didn't have the time.”
The pokémon all approached Diego threateningly. But he just kept laughing. “Oh, you don't have time to waste on me. You had better get to Nacrene, because Team Plasma will be there very soon.”
“Damn,” said Alder. “He's right, we can't waste time! We have to get to Nacrene right now! Come with me, all of you!”
“You're right,” said Black. “C'mon, we have to run!”
“Yes,” laughed Diego, “go on! Hurry, see what good it'll do you!”
But Boreas didn't want to let Diego go. “Go on,” he said. “I'm staying here to deal with him. He'll pay for what he did.”
“And I'm staying too,” said Aqua, determinedly. “We'll take him down together.”
“Good luck, my dear fellow!” said Octa as the others hurried out of the Gym. “I apologise for holding you back.”
“Good luck to you too,” said Boreas before turning to Diego.
“Tell me,” smiled Diego, “what made you realise it was me?”
“The first time I had thoughts pointing to that direction was after the battle in Relic Castle,” explained Boreas. “To be precise, I wondered why you were still missing two teeth and why your burns were only partially healed. Even if Team Plasma wouldn't have any healing technology, you could just visit a pokécenter. There's no way the people there would know you were with Team Plasma, after all. So after much thought, I realised it meant you had either been somewhere without pokécenters, or somewhere with a pokécenter, but where there were people who'd recognise you if you visited it. At first, I thought it'd be the first; maybe N had been in the wilderness since the war started? And that was another strange thing: you were in the castle, but there was no sign of N.
I wondered where you could've been in the month since our battle. And then I realised something funny about that battle: despite Zoroarks being famous for using their illusions, you never used any illusion. Even though it would've been useful at several points. You could hardly have forgotten you could make illusions, and it seemed unlikely you had lost the ability either. So you were deliberately foregoing their use. Why would you do that? At one point I realised it could be to prevent me from remembering you could make illusions. Perhaps so you could surprise me by using them as a secret weapon? That explanation wasn't very satisfying.
It wasn't until last night that I finally connected the dots. I realised Zeph lisped on occasion. Not often, but it is a bit odd, because he never used to lisp when he was young, and it's not like he had any injuries to his mouth either. That was the moment I realised you were missing two teeth, something that could easily cause a lisp. At first, I dismissed the thought as ludicrous, even though I realised with your illusions creating an illusionary Zeph to “save” me from you so that you could then infiltrate the team would be easy, especially with me in a battered-up state. But Zeph couldn't be you, as illusions could only make you look like Zeph; you'd sound, smell, and feel different.
But of course, Zeph said he didn't like to be touched, and as far as I knew we had only touched him twice: once when I hugged him in the pokécenter, an event which you could've anticipated so you could hunch to the right height and wrap your ponytail around your neck to make it feel like a Flareon's fluffy collar; the other time was when Selene tried to land on your shoulder and collided with you. That time she thought she was still above you when she collided; of course, it could've been her clumsy flying, but it could also be because you were actually a Zoroark, and thus much taller than the Flareon you seemed.
The smell puzzled me for a bit. But I realised you mainly smell of smoke, and the nasty, stinging smell of it makes it hard to smell anything else; it masks whatever other scent there might be. I had a look in Black's pokédex: Zoroarks can learn Flamethrower. It's how you made that smoky smell, as well as how you used fire-attacks. Of course, not being a fire-type, your flames'd be rather underwhelming, so you just boosted their appearance with more illusions. Which explains why they felt less hot and provided less light than you'd expect.
Finally, there's the sound: dragging your feet would be a great way to prevent people from hearing your steps sounded like a heavy, two-legged creature. The voice could just be a good impersonation, helped by the fact that Zeph's voice would've changed a lot if he was still alive after all this time.
But then I remembered you had told me things I'd never told anyone, and was calmed down by that thought for a bit, as I realised it was all just a coincidence. Of course, it wasn't: when we fought Ryoku in Chargestone Cave, his Exeggutor read my mind. It copied my memories into your mind, didn't it? That's why your story fitted perfectly with my memories before the battle with Ryoku, but was slightly at edge with Octa's memories and my memories from after that day. For example, you mentioned seeing a gravestone with “Capella of the house of Draco” on it, but Capella's grave actually just said “Capella”. It always was an odd coincidence you would happen to have evolved in exactly that save place.
My last argument against the truth was that you couldn't keep up the illusion while sleeping; surely someone would've seen a Zoroark sleep amongst us. But then I recalled your habit of disappearing most of the day and solved it: you lay awake at night to keep your illusion up and found a place to regain your lost sleep at day. But while we were travelling, you had to travel at day, of course, which meant you weren't getting any sleep. And indeed, you became very tired at these times. Finally, it also explains that an Audino managed to heal your cut throat and keep you alive, which would truly be a medical miracle if it really happened, and it explains why you sank into the bog like a much heavier creature. It explains why none of the enemies in Dragonspiral Tower really seemed to want to kill me: they wanted me to proceed so you could put on your one-man show. And those threats you issued to Giallo's pokémon in Relic Castle sound an awful lot like commands in hindsight.”
It was silent as Boreas finished his explanation. The impressed looks Aqua and Diego gave him made him feel a lot better.
Diego slowly and sarcastically applauded Boreas. “Very good. I'm honestly impressed with your skills of reasoning. But it didn't matter in the end. If you had been a day faster, things would've gone differently.”
“I just have one question: what was going on in Relic Castle? Why did Giallo retreat?”
“The plan at Relic Castle was originally just to get the Light Stone and leave before you even showed up. But when Giallo found it gone, he kept searching for it, and decided to question your trainer in case I had missed anything and someone had already retrieved the stone. When he realised Black didn't know either, he decided to get rid of him instead. I didn't want him to eliminate you before you'd found the Light Stone, but I could hardly tell him not to with you all watching, though I at least managed to mask orders not to kill you as threats. Still, I figured it wasn't so bad after a while. It would've been better to leave you alive so we could find the Light Stone too, but we were winning the war anyway, with or without Reshiram.
When I walked in on you and Octa dying, I figured I might as well kill you myself if you were going to die either way. Unfortunately, just before telling you who your brother really was and killing you, Octa attacked me. I tried to defeat him, but he was quite powerful after evolving, so I decided not to bother and used my illusion to make it appear Zeph chased me off. Then I walked to the other room with my Zeph illusion, and there I saw Giallo beat White's remaining pokémon. We had a nice talk together and decided together it was worth keeping you alive after all to get the Light Stone and make our victory even more crushing. So I reactivated my illusion and pretended to chase him away as he returned his pokémon to their pokéballs and fled. And seeing as the Nacrene museum is about to be attacked and the stone retrieved by Team Plasma, our decision was the right one.”
With all spoken out like this, Boreas was going to attack Diego soon, and was on guard for an attack from the Zoroark as well. One side of him was feeling horribly betrayed and very sad, the wounds of his brother's death having been reopened. He was furious at Diego for it, and especially for trying to kill Aqua in the tower. Yet another side of Boreas couldn't help but be impressed with, almost admire, the cunning and skill it had required to fool everyone for nearly two months. “Not for you,” said Boreas, “because now I'm going to kill you. For everything you've done, now including dishonouring the memory of my poor brother.”
Aqua, who had been silently listening for a while, added: “And so am I. I thought you were my friend, but you betrayed me and tried to kill me. But at least it began to show me what bastards Team Plasma really are.”
Diego laughed. “You are going to kill me? Neither of you has any clue of what you're getting into. Boreas, do you actually think I've ever used my full power against you? I didn't want to kill you at the tower, because I needed you to infiltrate your team. And I didn't use half my abilities to prevent you from guessing what was really going on when “Zeph” showed up. I could extinguish both of you like-”
Boreas struck with an Ice Beam to his face at that moment. “Shut up and fight us!”
Diego roared in pain and dropped prone on the bridge. Realising the fight had started, Aqua shot a powerful blast of water at the Zoroark while Boreas tried to Ice Beam him. But at that moment something bizarre happened to the light in the room. It was as if a brief explosion of darkness occurred right around Diego, making that part of the room go black for a moment while all the light bent and looked broken, like a shattered wall of glass. The two beams were harmlessly deflected by the sudden pulse of darkness.
The light returned to normal, but Diego was gone. Boreas and Aqua stammered in surprise and looked everywhere to find him, but the Gym was empty, aside from the two Eevees. “M-maybe he used an illusion to make himself invisible?” whispered Boreas.
“I don't think that's possible... But he could have used it to make himself look like any object here. Try to find anything out of place.”
But there weren't many objects in the Gym, and none of them seemed out of place to Boreas. Cautiously, they moved onto the bridge to see if they could find Diego from there. Suddenly Boreas realised Diego was under them, hanging from the underside of the bridge. “Look o-”
A powerful impact knocked the words out of Boreas' mouth and smote him to the ground, knocking him off the side of the bridge. He tried to hold on to it, but he fell off and plummeted down into the black depths screaming. Just when he expected a crushing impact, he landed on thick cushions, only his pride wounded. He could see the beams where Diego had to have been holding himself on the underside of the bridge, and heard sounds of battle on the upper side of the bridge. He raced to the stairs and up them, his heart breaking a bit every time he heard a yelp of pain from Aqua.
As he reached the top of the stairs, it was clear the battle on the bridge wasn't going well for Aqua. She was bruised and battered up, while Diego was mostly unharmed. Boreas changed that as he hit Diego in the loins with an Ice Beam. He doubled over in pain, and Aqua used that moment to Scald him, hitting him with a blast of the boiling water. Boreas continued his Ice Beam, hitting the Zoroark several times as Aqua kept Scalding him. Suddenly Diego got up, took a massive jump over Aqua, and ran at Boreas. He was hit by horribly painful boiling hot water as he Ice Beamed their enemy, who was now between him and Aqua.
The Zoroark disappeared just before reaching Boreas, and after a moment's disorientation Boreas understood it had been an illusion used by the real Diego to stop the Eevees from attacking him, so he could attack Aqua. Before Boreas could do anything about it, Diego had given Aqua a powerful kick that sent her flying into the wall as she crashed down into the pit. Boreas heard her groan down there, so at least she was still alive.
“You'll pay for that, Diego!” he roared furiously. “I'm going to kill you for it.”
“You keep saying that,” Diego said with a smile that clearly hid his pain. “But by now, you've already got three to five different things you swore to kill me for. There's the nice view I gave you at the Ferris wheel, getting your sweet little darling to join the winning side, my failed attempt to end her life at the tower, my impersonation of your poor late brother, and now this. Yet you can only kill me once, and even that is unlikely to succeed.”
“Then I'll have to enjoy that one time all the more!” roared Boreas as he tried to hit Diego's loins with an Ice Beam once again. But, with a single wave of his paw, a flash of darkness consumed the Ice Beam, harmlessly parrying it. Diego breathed a beam of fire that Boreas couldn't dodge on the thin bridge. Boreas screamed in agony as the fire washed over him, so terribly hot, and left his fur smouldering. He quickly rolled over the ground to extinguish it, and stood face-to-face with his brother. No, not his brother: Diego.
“Diego! I won't let you wear my brother's face like a mask any more, you bastard!”
“But it's not your brother's face. He never did evolve to a Flareon. This is your brother's face.” The Flareon was gone, and now there stood Zeph as Boreas remembered the real one; a fluffy little Eevee-cub. “So if you don't want me to look like this, make me.”
“I will,” said Boreas determinedly. He tried not to show it to Diego, but even though he knew the Zeph he had known for the past two months - bizarrely enough about as long as he had ever known the real Zeph - was really Diego, he had still got quite attached to him before he realised the truth. Now it felt almost like Zeph had died all over again, and Diego using his illusions to look like him only made the grief feel worse. Diego had to pay for it. Boreas unleashed all the cold he could make from his body, turning the Gym's atmosphere into a howling Blizzard for the second time that day.
From what little he could see of Diego across the Blizzard, he was really in pain this time. He dropped the illusion almost instantly. The water Aqua had soaked him with froze in his fur, as did the saliva in his mouth and the moisture on his eyes. Much though Boreas enjoyed this, Blizzard was incredibly exhausting. A marathon was like picking up a pen by comparison. And he couldn't let himself black out this time, not with Diego fighting him. He had to end the attack.
As he stopped the Blizzard, he wanted to attack Diego with other moves, but all the energy had been drained from his body. He couldn't even remain standing as the world began spinning. But he had to stay awake... He tried to focus on his paw, which was in front of his face, and manage to remain conscious. He felt Diego's claw around his neck and was lifted up by it. He looked in an evil, but half-frozen face.
“That was a nice move, Boreas. Let me counter that:” He opened his mouth and spit a ray of fire right in Boreas' face. Boreas screamed and struggled, but the fire kept hitting his face. Boreas thought he was going to die of pain when Diego dropped him and stopped spitting the fire into his face. But what was left of his fur kept smouldering, at least until Diego stamped out the fire.
“It's been fun fighting you again,” said Diego as Boreas couldn't fight him any more in agony, “but I think I will have mercy on you both today. If you are wise, you'll leave your trainer and go somewhere I will never see you again, because I won't be so nice next time.”
“I'm not letting you get away!” yelled Aqua furiously as she got into Diego's way. “Not after what you did to Boreas!”
“Sorry, gorgeous, but I'm leaving, whether you want it or not,” said Diego. Suddenly four illusionary Diegos appeared, all running off in different directions. Aqua tried to stop them, but evidently failed as most of the Diegos managed to reach the exit, one of them the real one. Aqua didn't pursue them, but instead returned to Boreas. “I'm sorry I let him get away, dearest, but I've got to get you to the pokécenter.”
The cool, pleasant water of an Aqua Ring enveloped Boreas and soothed his wounds. “Thank you...” said Boreas, though the water oddly deformed his voice, though he was somehow able to breathe it.
The Aqua Ring ended after a while, when Boreas' pain was soothed greatly. “That feels much better. I suppose it doesn't look good?”
Aqua shrugged. “It could be much worse. You've lost a lot of fur, but the skin underneath doesn't look too bad. You'll be fine once we get to the pokécenter.”
Boreas cautiously managed to get up and began walking to the pokécenter with Aqua.
“I just wish we had killed Diego...” she said Aqua sadly. “He should've paid for all he did to us.”
Boreas nodded. “I wish we'd killed him too. But at least he killed neither of us. We'll get another chance.”
“And you managed to find out about that bastard. I never suspected it; it was amazing how cleverly you found him out.”
Boreas smiled nervously at the compliment. “Thanks, but it really wasn't that amazing. It was practically coincidence that I realised what Zeph's lisp meant.”
“Coincidence or not, it was very smart of you. You sounded so brilliant when you explained it all. It was very sexy.”
Boreas felt as if he was blushing, but it probably wasn't visible with his reddened skin. “Thanks. It didn't have much effect in the end, though. I hope after we go to the pokécenter I can still get to Nacrene on time...”
Diego was annoyed he hadn't killed Boreas. He could've easily done it. When he held the Glaceon by his throat, Diego should've kept going with his Flamethrower. He should have burned his fur off, incinerated his skin and melted his eyes, he should've kept blazing until flesh turned to ashes and a dangerous enemy of Team Plasma was dead. It had been his plan, but something had held him back. Some idiotic part of him hadn't wanted to kill Boreas. So he had burned Boreas' face only briefly before throwing him aside and escaping. The stupid side of him that didn't want to kill Boreas actually felt some bizarre comradeship with the Glaceon. Apparently two months of pretending to be his brother had somehow made Diego feel bad about killing Boreas. There were the memories too: Diego had all Boreas' earliest memories in his head now, as well as some relevant later ones, and it made him feel some understanding for Boreas, which he should've drowned out.
Diego tried to get his mind off his failure by thinking about the fact that he was about to be reunited with N. He was looking forward to seeing N again by a surprising amount. It was strange to think he had actually gotten attached to the boy, who was after all no more than a tool in the plan. Of course, it was easy to get attached to someone after spending most of your life with him. And N was Ghetsis' son, despite everything else, so it was only to be expected he would have inherited some of the qualities that made Diego view Ghetsis as his friend. Still, such attachment could be dangerous. Diego knew what his task would be if N ever decided to betray Team Plasma, and it would not be an easy task if the friendship he pretended to feel for N actually became a real thing.
Diego felt very annoyed by idiotic feelings like these. He would be useless to Team Plasma if he didn't know who his friends were. Neither Boreas nor N was his friend; Ghetsis was! Ghetsis had saved him as a young Zorua cub and raised him with friendship, Ghetsis had promised him power and freedom, Ghetsis had made him an important part of Team Plasma, Ghetsis had even placed him in charge of the most critical part of the plan, N's education. Diego would have been dead for years without Ghetsis. To even think about betraying his plans or feeling friendly to an enemy of the Sage was treason. He had to extinguish these unneeded feelings; they would only interfere. They were just illusions anyway, brought on by other people's memories in his head and spending a lot of time with them. One of them was his enemy, the other no more than a brainwashed tool.
But then he saw N at the rendezvous point, talking to his other pokémon, and was overwhelmed with happiness at seeing his friend again. He ran to them, only managing to restrain himself at the final moment as he entered the small circle of pokémon and N saw him.
“Hello, N,” he said with a happy smile.
“Diego!” N greeted him happily. “Ghetsis said you'd be back from your mission soon! I'm so happy to see you!” N gave Diego a hug, surprising the Zoroark for a moment, before he threw his arms around N's shoulders as well.
“I'm happy to see you too, N,” he said truthfully.
A good chapter, as always.
Zeph is the mole huh?
I'm a bit sad, 'cause I really liked Zeph, 'cause he's a Flareon and he is...was Boreas' brother.
Oh well, at least Black as an open slot for Aqua now.
The battle was really well-written.
You really made me feel nervous while reading, 'cause I was afraid that Diego might ill Aqua again, or gravely wound Boreas.
But something inside Diego made him not to kill Boreas, or Aqua...
Well, I admit that implanting Boreas' memory onto him to sneak into their team to get information was a great idea, but somehow, it made him a softie...
Win some, lose some, I suppose.
And as always, looking forward to the next chapter.
I just finished reading a book titled the Angel Experiment in one single day, and after, you posted another chapter.
Ah, my reading life is good, sad that it ended in just one day. xD
It's been ages since I last wrote a chapter of The Surprising Adventures of a Glaceon in Unova, but now, it's back!
Chapter Fifty-Eight: The Return
Octa awaited the train's arrival in Nacrene anxiously. The journey from Opelucid had taken a whole night, so he feared Team Plasma could already have taken the Light Stone and left by now. The fact that Opelucid was located on the other side of the continent from Nacrene was never more unfortunate. If only there was more than a single aeroport in Unova, they might've arrived earlier. However, it was too late to change the past now, all they could do was hope their arrival in Nacrene was not too late.
“Octa?” asked a rather commonly-accented and high-pitched, yet somehow pleasant voice. “What d'you think'll 'appen if we're too late?”
Octa turned to the truly charming Vileplume sitting next to him and endeavoured to reassure her. “Do not fear, my darling. We shan't be late, for we heard the news at the same moment as Plasma did. Neither side had a head-start.”
Lucius, who was seated opposite them with Selene, scoffed. “Yeah,” he said in his hideous Brooklyn accent that was as annoying as a shrieking infant to Octa's ears, “but they probably didn't have to travel all through Unova.”
“If they did arrive before us,” said Octa with annoyance, “I'm sure Lenora can hold them off for a while. She did not become Gym Leader without reason, and given that Alder alerted the other Gym Leaders she may not be alone either.”
“But what d'you think'll happen if they get their grubby mitts on the stone anyway?” asked Toxica anxiously.
Octa sighed. “Methinks 'twould truly be a catastrophe. Whether or not N can reawaken Reshiram as well as Zekrom, we would lose this chance to defeat them. Unfortunately, if Team Plasma commands both legendary dragons, I fear their victory might be very difficult to avert. Valorous souls, my own noble family first among them, would continue to battle Plasma until the bitter end, but even the house of Equinox and all the Gym Leaders together could not achieve victory against such an overwhelming opponent, particularly because the populace would likely turn against them completely with both dragons in Plasma's hands. I fear Plasma would claim victory and sever the relationships between humans and pokémon...”
Everyone was silent for a while, thinking about this, and then Selene croaked: “What happens next?”
Octa had to think about this. “A surprisingly lucid and good question, considering its source. 'Tis difficult to predict this... It highly depends on the agenda of the Seven Sages. I highly suspect N is a mere figure-head; they are the true power behind Team Plasma. I expect they would keep N on his throne and meanwhile rule Unova for themselves, submerging the land in darkness and tyranny. However, 'twould be a benevolent tyranny, and a darkness that would seem like light to most, for they presumably know the dangers of antagonising their subjects...”
It was silent for a while, then Selene spoke: “But that wouldn't be the end of it. It couldn't! Pokémon and humans would still make friendships... Some human would rescue some pokémon like Black did to Boreas, or the other way around, and they would become friends. Someone would rediscover the joy of being friends with humans again, and they'd be friends in secret, despite the opposition to such a friendship. And that would happen all over the place. And meanwhile, the power-hungry Sages, or their successors, would eventually stop getting along so well and try to take all power for themselves, creating instability. The new trainers and their pokémon would eventually get together, and resist. They would spread their friendship and chaos among other people, who would sometimes join them, and there would be more and more resistance to the Sages... Eventually that resistance will grow into a rebellion, which will one day nurture itself into a revolution... Which will be victorious. Because the darkness is just a passing thing, and there will be a Sunrise after every night...” At that moment she saw the astonished look everyone was giving her and smiled. “A little man who crawled out of my left eye told me that. I think he knew what he was talking about, he seemed quite sensible.”
Octa had tried to get an grip on the exact extent of Selene's sanity before, but she seemed to always make sure it was impossible. The fact that she wasn't as crazy as she appeared had of course been quite obvious to him for a while. But exactly what part of her behaviour was true insanity and what part was simply an obfuscating act she liked to play he had never been certain. “Selene...” he said.
At that moment, the train had arrived in Nacrene. There was no more time to talk as they, Black, Iris, Drayden, Alder, and their pokémon rushed to the museum. But after a few minutes, Octa noticed Toxica and Lucius were the only other members of Black's team still running along with them: Selene had flown into someone's beautiful, ornate garden and was sitting amidst a display of pale stones. “Selene!” called Octa. “You cannot linger, do follow us!”
“But-” began Selene as Octa fixed her with a stare. “Oh, alright... But I'm taking Edward with me, I really feel like I've got to know him well in my time in the garden.” She flew after them, but with a sparkly white stone the size of a human fist in her claws.
“Put that back, Selene,” lectured Octa, “you should not steal!”
“But Edward is my friend,” complained Selene as she flew on, following the rest, “he says he is at least, and I believe him. I like him too, look how at how he sparkles in the Sun.”
“That only makes it worse! That was most likely an expensive stone. I do not have time to deal with this right now, but believe me when I tell you I shall make you put it back to whence you stole it from after the battle.”
“But why would you want to separate Edward and me, we're so close... We go way back, nearly three minutes...”
But Octa had no time to respond, for at that moment heard the screams and saw the clouds of smoke and a little shape that looked like a human in robes riding a Charizard. Octa cursed: Sage Rood had arrived before them. Octa moved forward as fast as he could, lamenting the loss of his legs which made him slower.
They arrived at the Gym's square, where Lenora and a few trainers were battling Sage Rood's fire-types together, clearly losing.
“We can easily defeat him together!” said Alder as their pokémon charged into battle with Rood's pokémon. While fire was anathema to Octa, and he even secretly had to admit to himself he feared it, the company of Alder's powerful pokémon, as well as the dragon types of Iris and Drayden, strengthened his heart. He drew his blade charging, ducked under a ray of fire aimed for his head, and saluted the Sage's Ninetales before entering into combat with her.
The battle seemed to be almost easy for a while, as they were outnumbering the opponent so vastly. But just as Octa was expecting victory to be near, a barrage of rocks and stones hit them, a small one hitting Octa on the head and striking him down before his opponent, bleeding from his head. He lay before her, wounded and attempting to get up before she incinerated him, when Alder's Boufallant launched her away with a massive Head Smash. “Thank you,” said Octa gladly, but his heart sank as he saw a second Sage, wearing brown robes and riding an Archeops, fly over as his rock-type pokémon joined the fight.
“You may outnumber ush now,” boasted Rood as the battle now went a lot better for him, “but the odder five Shagesh are heading thish way ash well! You may defeat one or two of ush, but all the trainersh of Unova amasshed couldn't defeat the sheven of ush together!” His Charizard swooped down and breathed incinerating fire over Lenora's pokémon.
“Ja, and did we mention the dozens of grunts on their way too?” laughed Bronius as Octa dodged under a massive hit of his Aggron that hit Iris' Fraxure and left it crushed on the ground, its tusks broken off. “Give us the stone now and surrender. Your pokémon will be liberated and you captured, but I promise you will live. We treat our prisoners well.”
Black picked up one of the rocks the attacks of Bronius' pokémon had scattered and threw it at the flying Bronius, hitting him on the foot and causing him to yelp in pain. “Yes, I saw how well you treat your prisoners when you “liberated” my pokémon, you hypocritical git!”
Then a wave of water from the river washed over the battlefield, and Octa was reminded of the last time they had battled here, when they had met Capella, and instinctively felt his heart jump. He nearly expected to see his old friend, somehow revived, at the river, but there was no such pleasant surprise: six powerful water-types carrying Sage Gorm had arrived instead, and the water quickly went from a small wave to a powerful current sweeping through their ranks as Gorm's pokémon too joined the battle.
“I wonder, lads,” said the Scotsman to the other Sages. “How many of us d'ye think are needed for them to see they're doomed?”
Octa realised they were beginning to lose this. Alder could handle a Sage, and two of Black, Drayden, and Iris probably could too, but Black's team missed a valued member, and apparently more Sages were on their way. Grunts, running in from the streets, began to join the battle too, yet they were also followed by a few brave local trainers,who saw the attack and wished to protect their Gym and Museum from it.
Suddenly, Ghetsis' voice sounded over the battlefield, amplified by unknown source. “Gentlemen... Ladies... Genderless pokémon... Why do you fight us?”
Octa could not help but reply. “You attempt to shatter friendships forever and you inquire why we fight you?”
“Trainers, you claim to be your pokémon's friends, yet keep them captive and force them to fight for you even now. Pokémon, you claim to be your trainer's friends, yet you let them continue this fight, probably leading to their deaths. How can you continue this?”
“Enough! If you want to win, you're going to have to do it the hard way, we shall never surrender!”
Boreas anxiously awaited the train's arrival in Nimbasa after a rough night of sleep in the noisy, shaking, and above all, too warm train. Boreas quite liked trains, as far as human transportation methods went, but they were no place to sleep. Even aside from the heat, noise, and shakiness, it was tough to sleep for Boreas for three reasons: outside the window, all kinds of places he had never been to came by. Being naturally curious and always wanting to see new places was a great way to stay entertained in a train at day, but made it even harder to get to sleep at night, as Boreas constantly wanted to look out the window and see the nightly world pass by instead of sleep.
The second reason was that he was worried about Aqua. She hadn't wanted to accompany him, pointing out that she wasn't on either side and didn't want to fight. But Boreas wasn't at all sure Opelucid was safe, especially with Diego there. Aqua could take care of herself, Boreas knew that, but with Diego near, no-one was safe. They had found that out after the battle, when they were walking from the pokécenter to the station. Diego had appeared out of thin air, clearly an illusion but it meant the real one had to have been very nearby, probably disguised as one of the humans with another illusion. “Team Plasma has prepared for this war for more than twenty years,” his voice had sounded. “Trainers weren't even aware of our existence two years ago. What chance do you think you have?” If Diego could sneak up on them like that, he could do it again... Possibly while she was alone... A terrifying thought to Boreas.
If only he had unmasked Diego sooner... Everyone thought it was great he had unmasked the Zoroark, but it had still taken him two months. How could he have been so stupid to trust Zeph in the first place? He was fighting an enemy with illusionary powers, and all of a sudden, here was his long-dead brother, come back from the death to rescue him! He was such an idiot never to have suspected the truth before.
And finally, there was the thought of what might await him in Nacrene. Octa had nearly died last time they had fought Team Plasma. The thought of finding one of his friends, especially Octa, dead or dying in Nacrene was terrifying, especially since everyone was now fully evolved, so there were no more second chances if someone was near death. But it wasn't just that that worried him about the battle: Diego's sudden remark had made Boreas realise how badly at a disadvantage they were. If Team Plasma also got their hands on Reshiram, they had won, it was as simple as that.
The landscape outside turned from forest to city as they entered Nacrene, the train slowly breaking to a stop at the station. Boreas darted out and ran to the Gym, a pillar of smoke ahead heightening his fear. When he reached the Gym, pandemonium ruled. The museum was burning with blazing flames. Dead and wounded pokémon and humans from both sides lay around it. A destroyed fire truck lay amongst the wide destruction. A few trainers Boreas didn't know were fighting Team Plasma grunts amidst the carnage. He looked around anxiously to see if he saw a green snake or any of his other friends among the fallen, when he heard sounds of battle still come from inside the burning museum.
Inside, pandemonium ruled. The wall between the main hall and the library had collapsed, showing the large library where they had won Lenora's Basic Badge thirteen months ago. Most of the bookcases were knocked over or burning, the books scattered and ablaze in the battle, and the expositions in the main hall were destroyed or on fire as well. Boreas felt miserable seeing the skeleton of Capella's ancestor had collapsed and was now scattered on the floor, many of the bones broken. But he had no time to let the horror of either the destruction of the skeleton or any of the other beautiful and ancient displays or the library get to him, as battle raged in the destroyed museum. Powerful attacks blasted back and forth in the raging inferno of flames. Most of the combatants were taking cover behind things during the battle, so Boreas couldn't see whether his friends were alright, nor where the Light Stone was; it was not on its display.
Boreas saw a sharp blue light in the corner of his eye and dived for cover behind a large piece of rubble that had fallen out of the roof; just in time, as a lightning bolt struck the entrance where he had stood. He took a quick look above his cover and saw the head of an Eelektross. He tried to fire an Ice Beam at it, but immediately had to duck for another bolt of electricity. He made several more attempts to attack the Eelektross, but stood no chance as other enemy pokémon had also noticed he was there, so lightning bolts, rays of acid and poison, blasts of gravel, and flamethrowers would also try to hit him if he even showed himself.
“Pup, here!” He heard Lucius snap. Looking in the direction, he saw Lucius and Selene lie behind the destroyed fossil of the Kabutops, which had been broken into several large stony pieces. It was clear neither of them could move; they had clearly broken their legs and wings. But compared to the others there, they had been lucky: the Haxorus Boreas and Octa had fought a day earlier lay dead near them, as did a Sawsbuck as well. Lucius was clearly beckoning Boreas, but there were at least five metres of open space between them. Yet he seemed so urgent Boreas decided to try crossing it.
To stand a slightly larger chance of not being killed the moment he got out of cover, he waited until someone from their side attacked the enemy, then took a step back and showed almost the entire length of his tail on the side opposite of where he was going to, as a distraction so when he sprinted out of his hiding place a moment later they attacked the wrong side of his cover. He felt a searing pain in his tail, but ran with all the speed he could manage, making huge, jumping steps with all four paws.
After a single large step, attacks zoomed around him and ahead. He pressed himself very close to the ground with the next, hearing attacks flash by just above his head and even feeling something go through his hair. He took a big jump with his third step, jumping over a disgusting blast of acid, while sending out a pulse of cold to deflect anything else, before landing safely behind the fossil. He quickly frosted his tail to extinguish the fire on it and turned his attention to Lucius. “Yes? How is Octa? And Toxica?”
Lucius spoke grimly. “Your boyfriend was still in one piece last time I saw him, as was Toxica. But Drayden is dead, as are several pokémon. But that's not important: look what the crazy chicken has in her claws!”
Selene was curled up in a little black feathery ball, her wings around herself, but in her claws she was clutching a white stone with vigour while whispering something. “The Light Stone?” Boreas asked in surprise.
Lucius nodded. “You can walk, pup, get it outta here now!” he took the stone from Selene.
The Honchkrow protested weakly, but then looked at Boreas.“Get him out of here, Boreas, please,” she said emphatically. “It's imperative you get him out.”
Boreas nodded and took the stone, taking it in his mouth to make sure he could still run. “Cawn woo gife be a diftracfion?” he asked Lucius.
“Hmpf, I can try,” grumbled Lucius, and he stuck his one good paw up, above the cover. Boreas ran for it immediately, taking a huge jump as he ran for the exit and his life. He made a pulse of cold to try and deflect the attacks, but then an incredible impact knocked him out of the air as he was hit by a flying rock near his own size. The Light Stone was launched from his jaws and landed in the open as Boreas' ribs and shoulder broke under the impact. His head hit something with intense force, a white light of pain flashed through his brain and blinded him, and then everything went black.
This was not the first time Boreas woke up from unconsciousness and a severe concussion, but he certainly hoped it would be the last.. “Oof... I hope we won at least...” he groaned.
“I'm afraid we suffered a crushing defeat, my dear fellow...” he heard Octa's voice say gravely. “Drayden is dead, the Nacrene Gym has collapsed and almost all the ancient heritage in there destroyed, Team Plasma has occupied Nacrene City. And worst of all, they captured the Light Stone...”
As Boreas' senses returned, he noticed he was in a pokécenter, lying in a bed. Octa was in the bed next to him. “Wh- what?” the news seemed too terrible to believe.
Octa nodded gravely. “We have just arrived in the Castelia pokécenter... We had no choice but to retreat... It fills me with shame, but not as much as the destruction of all that priceless cultural heritage and Team Plasma's victory fill me with sorrow...”
Boreas saw Black carrying a very battered up Selene, still curled up in a little feathery ball, to a bed, as Nurse War was busy caring for others. He lay her down on the bed and cautiously spread her wings, and suddenly a white stone, much like the one Boreas had risked his life trying to save, fell from her wings onto the ground. Black picked it up in surprise. “Selene, what's this?” he began laughing. “Alder? I think I have something very interesting here!” he said as he walked to a different room with the stone.
Boreas was flabbergasted, but Octa began laughing. “Selene, that stone Team Plasma took, which stone was it?”
“Poor Edward...” Selene cried softly. “Captured by Team Plasma... And I was getting to be such good friends with him...”
Lucius laughed loudly. “You mean you got Boreas to risk his life for some random stone to get Plasma to steal it instead of the Light Stone? Hah, I bet those losers are breaking their heads over why the dragon won't come out! They're a bunch of idiots, getting fooled by you of all people!”
“I... I was just looking out for Edward...” said Selene sadly, but Boreas didn't believe her and grinned as he lost his consciousness in the warm bed, strangely not feeling anger for having got him to risk his life as a distraction, but admiration for saving the Light Stone.
“Hehe... I bet you planned it from the moment you got that stone... You're not as crazy as you pretend to be... Clever Selene...” he said as his eyes closed.
Even after Boreas reawoke, it was several hours before he saw Black again. By then, the pokémon had all been cured of their various wounds by the pokécenter's advanced medicine, and were wondering what would happen next. Black came into their room and sat down, looking puzzled.
“Hi, guys...” he said. “I talked to Alder and Iris, and they're certain that this is the Light Stone. You did a good job,” he said with a pet to Selene's feathers. “I tried to get Reshiram out of the stone by talking to it with my mind, like N did... But it won't listen. I tried everything, but I can't do it. Alder and Iris told me it doesn't work because I don't understand even my own pokémon. They said if I don't understand my own pokémon, I can't hope to communicate with Reshiram. But I understand you fine, don't I?”
“Of course you do,” Octa scoffed.
Black smiled. “See, you guys have faith in me. But I guess 'fine' isn't enough. Alder says I should talk to you a lot, that way I'll learn to understand your minds and talk better and might eventually manage to awake Reshiram. Fortunately, we'll have lots of time to talk on Victory Road... We'll be alone for months as we travel through the Black Mountains, except for wild pokémon.”
“But...” said Boreas. “We can't waste that much time now, with the war going on we have to try and stop Team Plasma first before we go to the League! Especially now that Nacrene has been occupied by them...”
Black looked at him in surprise. “I'm surprised you think it's a good idea right away, I had expected you to want to stay here to help the remaining trainers battle Team Plasma. At least, that's what my first reaction was... But Alder told me we stand little chance to win this war in a conventional way. Defeating N at the League is our best option, and while he hopes he can defeat N himself, he knows it's unwise to have no plan B. He wants us to travel to the League, and he wants us to do it right now, as N has probably set out onto Victory Road already, so we'll need to be quick if we want to catch up to him. We'll travel back to Opelucid immediately, and take Route 10 to the entrance of the Victory Road pass through the Black Mountains there. We'll reach the League within three months if we're lucky.”
Diego looked at the tall, threatening Black Mountains ahead. Crossing them to the pokémon league would be a long and hard journey, but Diego felt more than prepared for it. Yet he was glad to meet with Ghetsis one last time before they entered the pass famously known as Victory Road. There was of course a perfectly good train going to the pokémon league, but challengers had been required to take the pass for ages, as a final test before the league.
"It's a shame your mission was cut short so soon," spoke Ghetsis after Diego had told him all about the mission. Well, not all about it: he had only told Ghetsis Boreas had survived the battle, not that the cause of this was a random surge of pity from Diego's side. Even if Ghetsis was his best friend, it was just too embarrassing to tell. Besides, he didn't want Ghetsis to think there was any chance of Diego letting him down. "But the information you retrieved was of great use while it lasted."
"Lucky, because it'd have been a shame if the past two months had been a waste. I heard about our victory at Nacrene. It makes me wonder if it's really necessary for N to become Champion, it seems to me we are winning this war either way.”
Ghetsis smiled. “Yes, it doesn't matter much in the short term. We will rule Unova whether or not N succeeds. But if he doesn't, the title of Champion will remain a rallying point for trainers, a source of resistance. And our future plans for similar take-overs of other lands will be easier if N wins, as it will add an air of legitimacy to our cause. While failure would not ruin our plans, it would place them on weaker footing. But I trust N will win. Between Zekrom's power and your guidance he will be Champion as soon as he arrives.”
Diego felt guilty. Ghetsis trusted him, and yet he had displayed severe weakness. He wasn't sure whether his guidance would lead N to victory any more. He decided to try and change the subject. “So, how is your plan to ensure victory coming along?”
Ghetsis chuckled. “Excellently. All six are close to the culmination of their training... As for the seventh, I'm about to lead an expedition to the chasm near Lacunosa myself in a few days. They'll all be ready by the time you reach the League.”
Wow. Selene was really taking some sense there. o.o
At first, I thought the Light Stone was thrown to that small garden, and Selene just happened to pick it up.
Poor Boreas risking his life for a decoy... :D
By the way, what of Aqua?
*re-reads whole chapter*
Why'd you kill him off so quickly? =/
Understanding his POKéMON...
That must be difficult to do. =/
I'm interested to know how it'll turn out. It'll be funny.
Anyway, I am really glad that a new chapter is posted.
Keep it up~
This story is very good! I would post a longer comment, but im still reading!!! :D keep up the good work!
Pokemon White2 FC: 1378 5047 0223
Hehe, either Selene was being very lucky or very smart.
By the way, TrueBolt over on FanFiction.net is working on an audio-book of this story. :D He needs help though, of voice-actors and artists alike. So get into contact with him if you would like to help out. Here's a link to his profile: TrueBolt - FanFiction.Net
Chapter Fifty-Nine: Countdown
Drayden's funeral had been beautiful. Team Plasma had declared him an enemy of humanity and pokémon, but while many people in Opelucid supported Plasma these days, most knew Drayden had been a great mayor. While Boreas hadn't known Drayden well, he hadn't been able to hold back his tears when Iris had talked at his funeral, telling several heart-warming stories about the man who had been like a grandfather to her in a voice breaking with grief, ending in tears while telling how he had died protecting her from Ghetsis and his pokémon. Alder had appointed Iris to be Drayden's successor as Gym Leader, but his successor as mayor wasn't known yet. Black and his pokémon hadn't stayed in Opelucid long enough to find out, as they had left immediately on route 10 after buying supplies for their long journey.
The route had begun flat and grassy, the Black Mountains no more than distant blue shades on the horizon. But as they left Opelucid and the farmland near it behind, the terrain became rougher and the road less travelled. Forested hills were crossed by a wild, fast-flowing river that had eroded tall cliffs. The mountains became closer and more threatening as the road went on. The temperature was quite pleasant here to Boreas, despite it being August.
On the seventh day of their journey they were travelling through a canyon eroded by the wild river. Walkways of wood and metal and rope bridges allowed the road to continue through the canyon, but they were poorly kept and rickety; despite how gorgeous the small, rapid current five metres lower was with its falls, eddies, and whirlpools, everyone seemed somewhat scared. Everyone except Aqua, who was almost skipping on the rickety bridges and walkways.
“Careful, love,” Boreas chuckled.
“Hehe, sorry,” Aqua giggled as she gave him a quick kiss in passing. “I just can't help being cheery here.”
“What's making you so cheerful?” Boreas asked.
“Well, how could I not be cheery?” she said happily. “The river is so fast and young here. I've never seen it like this, though I've lived nearly my whole life on it.”
“Oh, that's right,” chuckled Boreas, “this is the same river as the one where we met, isn't it?”
Aqua nodded. “I was born on the banks of this river and have spent my entire life in it. Don't be startled if I jump into the water in a while. Not until,” she said immediately, to silence Boreas' protests, “we come across a spot where it would be a less bad idea. I'm not about to jump into this rocky canyon, that'd be a bad idea even for a Vaporeon like me.”
“Glad you realise that,” Boreas chuckled. “Between the rocks and the current, even as good a swimmer as you wouldn't last long.”
Aqua pretended to be offended. “The rocks are the only problem. I could swim against a current like this.”
“Even with legs as strong as yours you couldn't,” said Boreas as he poked Aqua's side playfully.
“Hey, don't do that!” Aqua giggled as Boreas felt a slap of her tail on his rear. “Or I'll push us both in, and we'll see who can handle the current better.”
“You wouldn't dare!” chuckled Boreas as he used his own tail to slap her backside back. “Because if you did I'd take you into a blizzard on the mountaintops in a few days and see who holds out longest.”
Suddenly Aqua grabbed a tight hold of Boreas. “If you did, I'd just grab you like this to stay warm. So that's not much of a threat.”
“Well, I'd do the same-”
Boreas with interrupted by a Octa scraping his throat behind them. “Would you two please cease your dalliance? If you continue this you shall fall into the canyon together, and then we'll really see who can avoid the rocks best.”
At the end of the day, they set down as usual, and Black made dinner for himself and his pokémon. He chuckled as he saw them eat it hungrily. “Don't get too used to it, guys. It won't be long now before we enter Victory Road, and then there'll be no more food we can forage, and the fresh stuff we brought with us will run out a while later too. After that, we'll be eating dried food until we reach the League... So, since I apparently need to talk more to you: how do you feel about that, Boreas?”
Boreas was taken aback by the sudden question. “Uh... I... I guess it sucks. But... you know, I figure we'll make up for it with a big feast once we reach the League.”
Black just stared blankly at Boreas, clearly not understanding anything from what was to him a wordless collection of noises, growls, sounds, and some body language. “I agree,” he said.
“Do not look forward to that feast too much, my dear fellow,” said Octa. “We shall first have to traverse the Black Mountains, truly an arduous task if ever there was one.”
Boreas chuckled and looked at the mountains, which were getting quite close now. “Don't worry, Octa, there's a pass through them, after all, it can't be that hard.”
“Do not underestimate Victory Road, my dear fellow. The Black Mountains are a very harsh, unforgiving environment. Their summits reach ten kilometres above sea level, two kilometres above the height at which point it is impossible to adjust to the lack of oxygen and pressure. Meaning once this height is reached, it is merely a matter of time before human and pokémon alike die of oxygen deprivation.”
“Yeah, but we're not going over the tops. That's the point of a pass.”
“Even the pass reaches above six kilometres at times, and never below two. Oxygen will be low, and temperatures cold. It is a very long, twisting path through the mountains, which at one point even makes a gigantic detour of a month to advance twenty kilometres in the densest part of the mountains. The high northern latitude shall also contribute to temperatures being dangerously low. Wild pokémon are dangerous, feral, hungry, and powerful, and the pass is very difficult terrain. Furthermore there's risk of avalanches, plummeting into the many depths between the mountains, and much more.”
“How do you know so much about Victory Road anyway?”
“Because twelve members of the House of Equinox have attempted to cross it. All but four perished in the attempt; five of them dying along with their entire team.”
“Oh, I'm sorry...”
“Don't be, my dear fellow. They perished seeking glory, and all four that made it through, my great-grandmother last among them, eventually defeated the Elite Four. I can only hope I shall be the fifth to receive that honour.”
“So do I, deary,” said Toxica. “But I've heard stories about the Black Mountains and Victory Road too. I 'eard there's wild Tyranitars and Dragonites and Articunos and all sorts of other dangerous pokémon in those mountains, and even more bizarre, nameless monsters too! All underfed an' willing to eat anything weaker than them. They say it's where winters go for their summer holidays.”
Octa rolled his eyes. “A winter is merely the state of the Earth's axial tilt directing one's own hemisphere away from the Sun. It cannot go on 'summer holiday', and therefore shall not go on one thither.”
“It's just a metterfor!” Toxica blushed.
“Well, whether or not the Black Mountains are a popular summer vacation destination for winters, winter shall indeed make our crossing even harder.”
Boreas frowned in confusion. “It's August, Octa; that's summer here.”
“Yes, it is. However, our crossing of the mountains could easily take three months. By then, it'll be November. And even before that time, we'll be in danger, for autumn comes early and harsh here. There is a good reason the Pokémon League rarely receives challenges after September: usual challengers are not desperate enough to cross Victory Road in autumn or winter, for all they have to gain or lose is the title of Champion. Unlike them, we do not have the luxury of waiting half a year and shall have to transverse the mountains regardless of the season. Isn't that right, Black, old chap?” he asked Black friendlily.
Aware that attention was on him, Black smiled and nodded. “Sure, why not?”
“Oh dear,” sighed Octa, “methinks it'll be easier to teach a birch to speak Finnish than to get you to understand us...”
“But what about the coming winter, Octa?” Toxica nervously asked. “What are the mountains gonna be like then?”
“Even worse than they would be otherwise. We must expect heavy snowfall and blizzards, particularly near the end of our journey. It'll be very harsh.”
Lucius snorted. “I don't care, I can get through it. And then those Plasma idiots will be sorry.”
Octa nodded. “I shall take the challenge as well; I do not fear these mountains.”
“We've been through tougher things... I guess,” said Toxica. “A little winter, or a lot of it, isn't going to scare me off.”
Octa's stories about the Black Mountains had scared Boreas, to be sure. But he was far more scared of what might happen if they didn't go on. Besides, he could handle cold. “I'm in too. I've been part of this team for almost my whole life, I'm not turning my back on you all now.”
Selene croaked her support too, and they spent the rest of the evening chatting amicably with Black looking at them with a clueless look on his face, occasionally interjecting a non sequitur. It wasn't until a few days later that Boreas realised how quiet Aqua had been during the entire conversation.
They had arrived at Route 10's northern end; a large arch in the mountainside where the forested road finally met the huge mountains ahead. They were very close to the source of the river now, the tiny stream roaring down on the steep mountainside. As they approached the arched gate, Black suddenly stopped and slowly turned around, facing his pokémon.
“My friends...” he spoke. “Octa, Boreas, Lucius, Toxica, Selene, and Aqua...” He stopped talking for a moment, then continued with a melancholic smile. “Octa, Boreas, do you remember when you each used to sit on one of my shoulders? And sometimes one of you would climb onto my head, and I'd scold you and tell you to get down... When defeating a single Gym Leader was our goal... And Team Plasma just some people in stupid clothes. I even nearly gave Boreas away to have him found foster parents.
And now look at us... Eight badges, and about to enter Victory Road! Where'd the days when Boreas used to trip over his own feet when he attacked go? Fortunately we met many new friends on the way here... And together we've been through so much; crossed deserts and mountains, defeated eight Gym Leaders, and even battled Team Plasma's Sages and came out alive... Mostly. But beyond that gate awaits our greatest challenge yet! One which I wish Capella was here to take with us. We'll cross Victory Road, defeat the Elite Four and the Champion, and get rid of Team Plasma; are you with me?!”
“Aye! Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens!”
“Yes! Let's do this!”
“What're you even asking for?”
“Yeah! Let's make Uncle Istvan and all our uncles Istvan proud!”
“I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I'm not with you.”
All pokémon turned towards the dissenting voice. “Wh-what do you mean?” Boreas stammered.
“I'm sorry, my love,” said Aqua, “but as I've said before, I'm strictly neutral about the war. I'm not even really part of your team, just travelling along with you because I like being with you. But I think it's time for me to say goodbye now.”
Boreas could barely believe it. “But... Can't you come with us a bit longer? Over Victory Road, I mean...”
“Boreas, listen. I know you really want me along... And I really hate the thought of letting you go over those mountains without me, but I really have no intention of setting a single step onto Victory Road. It's incredibly dangerous there, you know.”
Boreas frowned; he had thought better of her. “So you're abandoning me because you're scared?”
“I'm not abandoning you!” Aqua snapped. “And I just don't want to go there. You've got this big important cause that gives you reason to cross the Black Mountains... But I don't. I've got no cause like that; while Team Plasma is a bunch of pig-headed bastards, I do think most humans should stay away from pokémon. I simply don't have a reason to go through three months of hell on Victory Road, so I'm not going to. I'll just wait right here, on this pleasant route where the river is young and fresh, for you to return.”
“And what if I don't return at all? Isn't that a good cause; accompanying me and helping me stay safe? I love you, you can't just leave me!”
Aqua sighed. “Boreas, I love you deeply, but you're being incredibly selfish. I trust you to be clever enough to get you out of any trouble that comes to you... And I trust Octa to get you out of any trouble you get yourself in. You can do this without me.”
“Maybe! But you're still abandoning me, letting me go over those hellish mountains alone! I don't want to be away from you for so long, especially not in such an environment. And I thought you'd want to keep me close too...”
“Boreas, I do want to be with you, but I'm still not following you onto Victory Road. Once you calm down and stop being childish and selfish I'm sure you'll understand.”
Boreas' anger only increased by the accusations of childishness and selfishness she was making. He wasn't the one being selfish, he was on a mission to save all of Unova! She was being selfish for not even accompanying him. “I don't want to go so long without you!”
“Then I guess you'll have to stay behind too,” said Aqua coldly.
It was a very tempting offer, and a big part of Boreas wanted to take it. But he couldn't let Team Plasma have their way, and he couldn't let his friends face them alone. “As Octa said just now: faithless is he who says farewell when the road darkens. Or she,” he added with an angry frown.
“Then I guess this is goodbye!” Aqua snapped.
“I guess so!” Boreas sneered.
“Do me a favour and don't fall off the mountain,” Aqua said as she turned around and walked away.
“Hmpf, good riddance,” Boreas muttered as he too turned around and faced his friends, who were staring at him. “What?”
Octa tried to cover his face with the palm of his hand in exasperation, but missed due to his short arms and long neck. He looked at his own hand in surprise, then said: “My dear fellow, you honestly are unbelievable. Go apologise to her immediately.”
“No! She's the one who should apologise!” Boreas felt betrayed at Octa taking her side. “I can't believe you're siding with her!”
“I am siding with neither of you, but I implore you not to let your farewell to your dearly beloved be like this. In the best case, it'll be months before you see her again, and during those months your anger shall subside and you'll merely be left with bitterness. In the worst case, you may never see her again, and she will be crushed by the knowledge that these were the last things she said to you. Make up with Aqua, please.”
“Boreas...” said Black. “Victory Road will wait, go settle whatever that was.”
“Alright...” muttered Boreas as he turned around and followed Aqua. At least until he was out of sight, when he sat down. He had no intention of going back to Aqua with his tail between his legs to apologise as she was the one in the wrong, abandoning him, whom she claimed to love. But like this, at least, he wouldn't have Octa continue to nag him. He knew that Octa was probably right that it would feel really bad once his anger subsided... But he'd much rather deal with a bit of regret than apologise to Aqua now.
After waiting for a while, he returned, smiling a fake smile. “You were right, guys. It feels so much better to have said a proper goodbye.”
Octa smiled. “I'm glad you settled it. Now come, Victory Road awaits...”
They walked into the arch in the mountainside, disappearing into the twilit darkness.
After a while, they emerged into the open air again. It was a large, entirely empty dale in the mountainside. No grass or any other plants grew here; it was a bare, rocky vale with steep rocky sides. Another large arch was on the other side of the dale, but it was closed with huge, ornate doors. The silence was palpable. A single black-clothed human stood in the empty space. “Halt!” he spoke, and his voice echoed through the dale, “unqualified ones shall not pass! Only those who earned the Trio Badge may enter these gates!”
Black and his pokémon walked towards the man, their footsteps echoing loudly through the dale. Boreas thought back to the day they had won the badge.
Boreas swept a pawful of macaroni from one of the plates into his opponents eyes in a blinding Macaroni-Attack. The Pansear was so surprised he lost his balance and fell backwards off the table. Boreas jumped off after him as the table's occupants cursed and snarled at him.
He landed on top of his opponent with the vertical equivalent of a Tackle and scratched him with his claws before the Pansear managed to kick him off. Instead of running back into the empty circle, Boreas ran under the tables, using the seated people's legs for cover. Between the cover and the macaroni stinging in his eyes Trogdor didn't even remotely manage to hit Boreas, only succeeding in searing tablecloths and trousers. When he reached a certain table, Boreas jumped up and dug his claws into the tablecloth, dragging it off the table with his weight as Trogdor reached him. The large bowl of tamato soup on the table fell all over him.
Once they reached the guard, Black showed him a small badge with three coloured pins. The man saluted and the gate opened. “Oh holder of the Trio Badge, challenge all that you face!”
They emerged into another small vale. Unlike the last one, this one was not bare and rocky: grass grew on the ground and a small stream of water flowed through the side of the dale, emerging from a hole in the rocky side of the vale and disappearing into another hole. The gate on the opposite side was flanked by two torches, and a lonely guard awaited.
“Halt! Only those who earned the Basic Badge may pass!”
Octa extended his vines, and the Watchog was ready to dodge them as he charged. But Octa didn't use the vines to attack his enemy, but the floor. He pushed himself off the ground and launched himself over the top of the two metres-tall bookcase. Immediately after landing on the other side of it, he pushed the bookcase, which was severely weakened due to the several attacks it had absorbed. With a monumental creaking, it fell over, right on top of the charging Watchog who couldn't get away in time, despite trying to flee.
As they reached the guard, Black showed a thin brown rectangle with markings that made it look like the spine of an old book.
The guard saluted and the gate opened. “Oh holder of the Basic Badge, show the knowledge you have obtained!”
The third vale was rocky once again, but with rocks stacked up like old ruins, and some grass growing. “Halt!” spoke the guard. “Only those who earned the Insect Badge may pass!”
Suddenly the icy coldness of the rock melted through Boreas' skin and filled his entire body. For one second it felt unbearably cold, then he experienced the tactile equivalent of looking at a picture of two silhouetted faces and suddenly seeing it as a picture of a white candlestick, and felt very comfortable with the cold instead. He was filled with a deliciously icy feeling and a feeling of power as he was growing with amazing speed. His brown fur was rapidly turning an icy light-blue, and hit tail grew longer, more pointed, and less bushy. His legs increased in size, making him feel like someone standing on stilts. His collar was retracting, and instead longer dark blue hair was sprouting on his head in a haircut formed of three diamonds of hair, while two strands of it grew very long. The light finally subsided, and Boreas was reborn as a Glaceon.
"Splendid, my dear fellow!" Octa cheered.
“Wow, you evolved!" Black said, "Get him with... Let's try Icy Wind!"
"Icy Wind?" Boreas mocked, noticing his voice's altered sound, "I can do better than that! I'll use Blizzard!"
Black showed the guard a green badge shaped like the wings of an insect. “Oh holder of the Insect Badge, show you can survive in any environment like an insect!”
The next dale was grassy, and in the centre of it stood a large sculpture representing a Heracross.
“Halt! Only those who earned the Bolt Badge may pass!”
Boreas realised timing would be vital to his plan and glimpsed between the searing flames embracing him to time it right. He mentally counted down as he slid rapidly over the roller-coaster tracks while freezing them, then took a big jump. He heard Zebstrika follow him and smirked as he neared another part of the track. A moment before landing, he created a fierce Icy Wind that blew him just besides the tracks. He fell into the black depths as the confused Zebstrika landed on the tracks. And was promptly hit by the cart coming the other way.
Black showed a yellow badge shaped like a lightning bolt to the guard, who saluted. “Oh holder of the Bolt Badge, unfurl a shocking battle!”
The next dale was rather a surprising contrast with the previous four: a metallic bridge with flashing coloured lights spanned a small gorge in the ground.
“Halt! Only those who earned the Quake Badge may pass!”
Boreas only remembered little of watching the underground battle with Clay. He had been utterly distracted from the battle by Aqua's proposal to leave together. Boreas suddenly felt a pang of regret for not actually going after Aqua to apologise just now...
After crossing the bridge, Black showed the guard a brown a brown badge like a section of earth after an earthquake. “Oh holder of the Quake Badge, make the hearts of your foes' tremble!”
The next dale barely seemed above the surface. It was the bottom of a deep, narrow canyon, leading to the next gate and its guard.
“Halt! Only those who earned the Jet Badge may pass!”
Boreas 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. It didn't want to move, but he prodded it on with Icy Wind, slowly getting it to get off its lazy arse so that it started 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. He directed the winds to the Swanna 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.
Swanna was having heavy troubles staying afloat. Skyla shouted commands at it, but it couldn't even hear her over the rapid winds. 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.
Black showed a badge shaped like a blue feather to the guard once they had traversed the canyon. “Oh holder of the Jet Badge, blast ahead with tremendous force!”
Boreas let out a small yelp of surprise as they emerged into the open once again, because it really was very open this time: they were not in a dale, but on a thin ridge on the steep mountainside, overlooking another mountain and a forest deep down. The ridge winded along the mountainside, until it entered into it again with another gate guarded by a black-clothed human.
“Halt! Only those who earned the Freeze Badge may pass!”
Powerful, ice-cold winds blew around the two Glaceons 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, attacking 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.
Black showed a white badge shaped like three icicles to the guard. “Oh holder of the Freeze Badge, show you can keep a cool head in the greatest of perils!”
The next gate emerged much higher up on the mountain, in an icy dale.
“Halt! Only those who earned the Legend Badge may pass!”
Boreas' body cooled down to two-hundred degrees below zero and he unleashed that cold into the air, which immediately blasted through the Gym in a ferocious and ice-cold stormwind. The Gym's windows shattered and everything creaked with cold as the howling Blizzard blew. It was raining; not with water but with liquid air that froze anything it touched. It was very cold even to Boreas, but it was nothing compared to what his opponents were going through. Haxorus was writhing in pain, its mouth and eyes frozen over already.
The same was happening to Druddigon, and unfortunately to Octa. Boreas tried to keep the worst of the storm away from his friend, but he could barely keep the Blizzard from going out of control again; there was no way he could control it enough to make it spare Octa. Fortunately, Boreas saw him disappear as Black returned him to his pokéball.
It was down to only Boreas now, but the Blizzard was getting harder and harder to control. It drained his energy to keep it under control. He saw his enemies, though hurt and freezing, weren't defeated yet, and he knew he would probably just collapse in exhaustion soon. He gave the Blizzard his final bit of energy, and fortunately saw Drayden return his pokémon to their pokéballs.
Black showed a black badge shaped like a mace to the guard. “Oh, holder of the Legend Badge, pass through Victory Road and prove that you too can be a legend!”
The tunnel emerged into a final rocky dale, much like the first one. But this time, two gigantic dragon statues were carved out of the sides of the wall. And instead of a gate, there was a thin passage leading on, without a guard. After looking his pokémon in the eyes one by one, Black walked into the passage.
I don't have the talent in computer arts, and my voice is rather painful than sharp nails running against a chalkboard... =/
But that sounds interesting. I'll probably add that to my watchlist.
I'm interested to see how it'll turn out.
I don't like the fact that Boreas lied to all of his friends that he already apologized to Aqua...
Now that's really being childish...
Ah, so he's now about to enter the Victory Road! Good luck to all of them.
On the side note, about time a new chapter was posted.
Though I feel like this new one's too short for my taste. =/
As always, looking forward for a new chapter~
Well, then your voice might be perfect for playing Selene.
Chapter Sixty: Cowardice, Love, and the River of Time
Diego climbed back down with a mind that was finally clear of concern. Climbing over the freezing cold precipice was almost as tough to do downwards as upwards, but at least this time it was just physically heavy; he could handle that. After weeks of being troubled by his error in the Opelucid Gym, he could now finally relax. He knew it wouldn't be repeated. While he couldn't deny he felt rudimentary feelings of friendship towards N, and even Boreas, they wouldn't interfere with his service to his true friend, Ghetsis. He was sure of that now.
Friendship was a beautiful thing, Diego reflected. In fact, it was the very concrete Team Plasma was built with, but it was a massive weakness when felt towards an enemy. But now that he was finally sure he wouldn't submit to that weakness again, he could rest easily.
His muscles ached by the time he neared the ground; it was a relief to land on it safely. “Diego!” N called happily. “I was getting worried about you, what took you so long?”
Diego smiled. “I saw a path up there, just as I suspected. But I had to make sure it wasn't a dead end, and walked it for a bit, and a good thing I did, because if I hadn't done that, we'd be climbing up this precipice right now to walk the path... Only to find out after an hour it suddenly ends into a steep depth.”
“Oh,” N looked disappointed, “I guess we can't cut time off our journey that way, then?”
“No, I'm afraid not, we'll have to follow the normal pass. But I did see some... Inspiring views up there, and they gave me the strength to carry on.”
N laughed. “Glad to hear it.”
No, thought Diego as he smiled along friendlily, you wouldn't be if you had any idea of the truth.
Four weeks had they been on Victory Road. Four weeks in the ferocious, harsh landscape. From Octa's stories, Boreas had imagined endless snowy mountains, but it turned out the Black Mountains weren't so monotone. The range covered an enormous area, and so it contained very varied climates. For the first few days, they had passed high over the mountainside, while deep down in the valleys a landscape similar to Route 10 - rough, but pleasant - was spread out. The pass had then winded up high onto the mountains, where lichen were the closest thing to plants that grew on the bare rock, and snow and ice dotted the pass. During this part of the journey the lush landscape in the dales had given way to dry, yellowish grass without trees and what looked to be the ruins of an abandoned city.
They had travelled through the caves of a mountain for a day, their light and a map Black had all that stood between them and a death of thirst deep in the enormous maze of pitch-black tunnels after aimlessly wandering for weeks. Everyone had been relieved when they had emerged from the dark caves. The road had become even rougher after this, and they had had to climb up and down sheer cliffs several times. Eventually, the pass dropped lower and lower and finally reached a forested dale, where a dense forest of pines and thorny shrubs grew.
However, after a while the valley they walked through reached upwards and the trees stopped growing. Soon there was no grass either; just bare ground, cracked with its dryness. There were many white salt crystals in the landscape. While their journey had only taken them through cold until then, a fierce, dry desert heat plagued these broken lands. It was unexpected to say the least, and Boreas had tried to keep them all somewhat cool for the whole time... But after five days in the searing, cracked landscape, he was exhausted. He couldn't even keep himself cold any more, let alone his friends, and struggled through the blazing heat.
What was even worse was that the water was nearly gone despite the rationing Black had started when they reached the mountainous desert. Boreas would occasionally look up longingly to the snow-covered tops of the mountains surrounding them, but if they left the path to climb up there, they would never manage to find the way out of the treacherous, huge mountain range.
The elements were hardly the only danger plaguing them on their arduous journey: the wild pokémon, while not very numerous, were adapted to the fierce landscape, and therefore very powerful. Several had attacked, not as a challenge or to try and steal some food, as wild pokémon in other places would occasionally do, but quite simply for the flesh on their bodies. There was little food here, and so the creatures that lived here would eat anything or anyone. Despite each member of the party being quite powerful by now, these pokémon proved highly dangerous, and they had had to flee from an encounter with multiple ones on more than one occasion. Fortunately, no-one had been killed or severely wounded yet, and Black was getting quite skilled at treating lighter wounds.
Boreas pretended to his friends the horrid dry heat of these broken lands was the only reason he was in a mood fouler than the Thames during the Great Stink. The truth was, of course, that they had been right: he should've apologised to Aqua for what he had said. He felt like punching himself for his stubborn idiocy. He could've easily foreseen this, and in fact he had. Even Black had managed to see it. He wished more than anything now that he had parted on better terms with Aqua... Or better yet, that she had come with him.
He missed her cheerful demeanour, her infectious laugh, her gorgeous eyes, her sense of humour, her frequent flirting, her supple movement as she walked, and the beating of her heart against his at night. He missed her deeply, and he was a fool to have fought with her when she left. He could try to console himself with the knowledge that she was a lot safer than he was right now, but it didn't really help. He felt almost as bad as he had in Chargestone Cave. Fortunately, whether it was the wisdom of his more mature age or the fact that there had been no cascade of disasters this time, the despair was less overwhelming, and he hadn't had the urge to jump into a single gorge yet. But despite that, his mood was still permanently clouded by it, and the others had learnt to give him a wide berth.
After several days they finally left the dried-out wasteland behind them and began rising in altitude. Temperatures soon passed from very hot to very cold as they climbed, and so the rest of the team once again wore their winter clothes to protect them from the cold. The icy cold felt much better to Boreas than the heat did, yet he didn't feel better mentally.
They were passing under a high, icy precipice with loads of rocks sticking out from it when Boreas heard a clumsy flapping of wings and felt a heavy load land on his shoulder as claws pinched him. “Ow! Selene, go sit on Lucius' shoulder!” he snapped.
Selene acted like she hadn't heard him. “You know, I bet you could climb this precipice.”
“And I would if I had a desire to break my neck. Now get off me!”
“I think you would have a really great view from up there.”
“Then fly there, but get off me!”
“Maybe there will even be a better path to the League up there.”
“And maybe there won't. Get off me.” Boreas was trembling with annoyance now at how she was just ignoring all he said.
“I also think there may be pixies up there. Uncle Istvan always says-”
In a sudden burst of fury, Boreas grabbed her forcefully, pulled her off his shoulder, and held her in front of his face as she let out a cry of surprise and pain as he squeezed her in his grip. “When did I ever give you the impression I give a Mankey's toss about what your Uncle Istvan, or you for that matter, said?! I told you to leave me alone, so shut your stupid beak, you pointless collection of feathers, before I freeze it shut!”
Selene squirmed in his paws with a look of terror on her face as she looked him in the eye. Boreas felt good seeing her fear and how he had finally made it clear he wasn't in the mood for her rubbish. “B-Boreas... I-I-” she stammered.
“Let the bird go right now, pup, before I burn your ass!” snapped Lucius' voice behind him.
Boreas turned to see a very threatening, angry look on Lucius' face. He resisted the urge to throw Selene forcefully into the snow and let her go. Clumsily and panicky, she flew to Lucius. “Fine,” Boreas spat, “but keep her away from me.”
“No, you keep away from her,” growled Lucius. “'Cause if you hurt one more feather on her, I'll flame-broil you. And by the way, could you either cheer up or kill yourself?”
“You heard me, pup. Your attitude has sucked since the first step we took on Victory Road, so I'm telling you now: quit being a pissbucket, kill yourself, or I'll do it for you.”
“You don't scare me!” roared Boreas, furious at the threat.
Eyes ablaze with rage, Lucius growled. “If we didn't need you to help get revenge on Team Plasma, I'd kill you were you stand, right now!”
Before Boreas could respond, Toxica was between them. “Now shut up, both of you!” she snapped. “Lucius, go walk in the back! Boreas, stay at the front! And don't you dare fight again!”
“Hmpf, fine,” Boreas sneered as he walked on.
Boreas couldn't sleep. He just lay there in the icy cold tent, his friends all sleeping under thick amounts of blankets while he was tossing and turning above them. His anger at Selene and Lucius gone, he felt like a massive git for what he'd done. He was furious at himself, really, for how stupid he had been acting lately.
Deciding he wasn't going to catch any sleep anyway, he sneaked out of the tent and went outside. It was frigidly cold, his breath turning to steam instantly in the night air, and amazingly dark. The sky was pitch-black apart from the stars, and there was absolutely no light on the few clouds that were in the sky: they looked like holes among the clear, bright stars, being exactly as black as the darkness between the stars. The darkness was incredible so far from human inhabitation and their lights. Boreas had never seen the sky like this before, with thousands of stars, even incredibly faint ones. Mars and Jupiter were brilliantly bright lights in the pure darkness, as impressive as the Sun and moons normally were. He couldn't see a metre before him and found a rock to sit on by touch alone.
Boreas looked at the amazing display above him as if enchanted for a while before his thoughts finally began to drift back to his troubles. He had first alienated Aqua, then attacked Selene, and nearly fought with Lucius. Only Toxica, Octa, and Black left to alienate, he thought grimly. He had selfishly insisted his lover accompany him, and become angry when she had refused; insulted her and her love for him. He had pridefully and childishly refused to apologise to her, and even lied to his friends about it. He had attacked his friend. He remembered Selene's terrified look and how he had squeezed her in his paw furiously. He felt contempt for himself as her terrified face flashed before his eyes. He had actually enjoyed seeing her so scared at the time. He was really no better than Diego.
Or maybe he was worse, even. Diego had terrorised and tormented his enemies, after all, while Boreas had done it to a friend. Boreas sobbed as he realised Aqua was probably better off without him. And so were his friends. He wasn't worthy of their friendship, he realised as he heard their snores come from the tent. They were better off without a miserable, childish egotist like him in their lives.
He got up and started walking away into the darkness. He wasn't sure where he was going, but wherever it was would be somewhere he wouldn't bother his friends ever again. The Black Mountains were certainly large enough to spend a lifetime in.
After walking a short bit, he stopped. What am I doing? He asked himself. Just running away? So now I'm a coward too, perfect.
I'm just protecting them from me. I'm just as bad as Diego, and I would do anything to keep him away from them!
I may be a childish, selfish bastard, but running away won't make me any better! I can't run away, instead I should stay with them and try to be a better friend. A better person.
But I attacked Selene and delighted in her fear for me!
Right, so the first thing I should do is apologise humbly to her. And Lucius. And Aqua, when I see her again. They all deserve an apology for what I said and did. It's the least I can do.
He sighed and walked back, sitting down. He looked at the stars again, and was surprised by a very bright light over the mountains in the east. After his initial surprise, he realised it was Venus, making even Mars and Jupiter seem pale by comparison. Its light weakly illuminated the dark landscape, allowing him to see a little ahead. It cast its weak light on everything, and a very slight difference between light and shadow was visible. Boreas knew Sunrise couldn't be very far away now, and he awaited it anxiously so he could apologise for his misbehaviour. He still felt a powerful urge not to, though, something telling him it was all Selene's fault for bothering him, that he had been completely right to attack her, but he was determined to ignore those thoughts. They had got him into this mess in the first place.
Yet he grimly realised while he could apologise to Selene and Lucius at dawn, it would be months before he would see Aqua again, if he ever saw her again at all. With a deep sigh, he felt his awfully bad mood return.
“...I need to tell someone...” he muttered, realising he would only end up doing more damage to his friendships if he didn't. Despite his intentions, the guilt and sorrow he felt over how badly he had messed up were already clouding his mood once more. If he didn't tell someone, he would be lucky not to go insane before they reached the League, and even if he didn't, his persistently bad mood would likely alienate all his friends.
Yet the thought of actually going up to one of them and admitting that he'd lied to them for such a pathetically childish reason was not a pleasant one. Octa was the only person he could possibly tell something like that, and even to him it would be very hard. Well, thought Boreas, I guess I'm starting off being a better person with a big test of my conviction...
“...The police and Team Plasma have responded to riots breaking out during a protest against the recent closing of the Gym...” Aqua sighed as the newsreader rattled on about the riot, making it sound like half the city had been blown up. She'd heard the same nonsense countless times already. She perked her ears again as she heard the next topic: “...Research shows children who grow up with pokémon grow up to be violent, unproductive members of society...”
Aqua snorted. “What, are you trying to blame Team Plasma on us pokémon?” she chuckled bitterly, awaiting the next topic of the television program as an interview with someone in a white coat was conducted.
“...The Pokémon League-” Aqua suddenly gave the television all her attention, perking her ears and feeling her heart pound in her throat. “-Has been suspected of involvement in recent...” Aqua sighed in annoyance and stopped listening as the news reached its end. She got back down on all fours and walked away from the house through the window of which she had been looking at the humans' television. She looked around to see if anyone spotted her, but between the rainy day and the general aura of fear that hung over Opelucid, and presumably the rest of Unova as well, most humans were inside. Which was just as well, as Team Plasma assumed any pokémon in a city was some trainer's pokémon these days; Aqua had already had to flee several times.
As she reached the woods at the edge of Opelucid, Aqua felt a lot better, despite the lack of news of Boreas. She had only managed to remain on Route 10 for two weeks after his departure; despite how furious she was about how Boreas had treated her, that seemed inconsequential next to the memory of the happy times she'd shared with him. The thought she might never see his roguish smile again was terrifying, and a big part of her wished she'd gone with him; even if it meant going through hell, at least they'd be going through it together. Though she definitely hadn't forgotten the things he'd said, and was going to give him an earful next time she saw him.
So she'd come to Opelucid's outskirts. She knew a challenger to the Pokémon League was big news, and so she had made sure to watch the news through the window of some humans' house every day. She knew it would be at least another month before there was any chance of their arrival, but somehow this felt a little better anyway.
Yet, while she had been listening for news of challengers to the League, she had caught the other news too. Team Plasma seemed to be winning the war; most of Unova already seemed to support them. The news certainly did; Aqua wondered if it was because of Zekrom's influence or if Plasma was actively controlling the news. She remembered how Diego had pointed out Plasma had had decades to prepare for this war... Probably long enough to have people in high positions in all kinds of organisations.
A few months ago, the knowledge of Team Plasma's near-total victory would've made her very happy, but it didn't seem like such a good thing now. She had seen Team Plasma's victory as a liberation for all pokémon, so that none would ever have to suffer as she had by their hands... But more and more, she realised Team Plasma wasn't looking for liberation for anyone. What they seemed to be doing was creating a rigid, tyrannical order to rule Unova with. All they really cared for was power... Yet she knew N was different. Team Plasma had deceived N just as much as they'd deceived the rest of Unova.
Aqua sighed and tried to get to sleep as she settled down in her hideout. But thoughts kept raging through her mind, making her unable to fall asleep, just like Boreas, far away. After hours of lying awake in the dark, moonless night, stirring and constantly feeling annoyingly itchy, she tried to focus her thoughts on Boreas. By thinking about their happier times together she managed to dispel all other thoughts from her mind. Reliving her memories slowly turned more fanciful and dreamy as her mind became clouded as she sank away seamlessly into dreams and sleep.
At some point, the happy memories of their frolicking in the grasslands of Route 7 had turned into a dream where she was battling foes with Boreas. The enemies were easily dispatched by both of them, but more kept flocking on. Aqua admired the grace and skill with which Boreas fought, and she clearly wasn't the only one, as she heard many cries of admiration. But her lover only had eyes for her, and their battle was elegant and dancelike; even featuring a few quick kisses between them. Oddly the cries sounded a lot like cries of fear and pain by now, and there were very loud sounds of battle even while they weren't actually attacking their opponents.
Aqua slowly awoke from her dreams, realising the cries and sounds of battle weren't in her dreams. Flashes of light came from between the trees. Curious and disturbed by the desperate cries, Aqua quickly made her way to the source of the disturbance, standing on a small precipice to observe what was going on four metres below. Four members of Team Plasma were battling a single trainer, surrounded on all sides except for the precipice. A Staraptor lay in a pool of its own blood, and the remains of what looked to be a Tepig made Aqua glad there wasn't much light to see with. She stared in shock at the battle beneath her, which the trainer was clearly losing. Her wounded Exeggutor was enveloped in flames, screaming from each of its mouths. Only a single, wounded Leafeon stood between the trainer and her enemies.
A blast of rocks and metal from a Probopass knocked down both the Leafeon and his trainer. Several more attacks were directed at them, until they lay on the ground, groaning.
“Stupid girl,” sneered one of the Plasma members. “Now let me give you the penalty for opposing Team Plasma! Probopass, Stone E-”
The Leafeon propped himself up on three legs and snarled furiously at the grunt, wobbling weakly. His Leaf Blade glowed weakly, but he couldn't even manage an attack. “No...” muttered the trainer. “Hector, don't... Just flee for your life!”
“Never!” growled Hector, “I won't leave you behind!”
“If you stand between Team Plasma and its enemies, you'll receive the same fate!” snapped the grunt.
“No, please!” cried the trainer. “Do with me what you want, but let Hector live, I beg you!”
“Probopass!” the grunt ordered. “Finish them with Stone Edge!”
Large, sharp stones pelleted both Hector and his trainer. They cried out briefly, then fell silent. The grunt laughed. “That's the third of these pests we caught this week!”
Another fell in as they walked off. “Yeah, we're getting really good at this. I bet if we continue this, the war'll be won with another month.”
Celebrating their victory as they walked off, they left Aqua - still paralysed with shock - looking at the battlefield. She could barely believed what she had just witnessed. The callousness with which the grunts had extinguished five lives had shocked her deeply, as had her own inaction. The thought of helping hadn't even entered her mind until it was too late. After standing there for who knows how long, her legs began trembling wildly and she collapsed, sobbing softly. “I.. I am a coward...” she cried. “I could've helped them... MADE A DAMN DIFFERENCE!!!” She could've taken Plasma completely by surprise. She could've hit them and all their pokémon with a surprise Surf or Scald from their flanks. Most of their pokémon had been rock or fire types. Or she could at least have extinguished the poor Exeggutor. “I hope you're happy now,” she said witheringly to herself. “You've kept your precious neutrality up once again.”
Boreas tried to wait for the perfect moment to talk to Octa. Apologising to Lucius and Selene had been hard enough, especially to the rather confrontational Lucius, but at least they had already known about the incident that he needed to apologise for. Though Selene still seemed a bit scared of him, she had accepted his apology, and he had let her sit on his shoulder for most of the day, which had been a convenient excuse not to talk to Octa. But now she was gone, and evening was nearing. Soon they'd settle down, and then there'd be someone overhearing what he said at any time. No, he needed to talk to Octa now, while the only person near was Black.
He took a deep breath and walked next to his friend. “Octa, I need to tell you something.” he felt his hair try to stand on edge, which it didn't manage only because of its considerable length.
Octa looked at him with his intelligent brown eyes and gave a little smile, which disappeared when he saw the distressed look on Boreas' face. “Oh?” When Boreas was silent for a bit trying to collect the courage to actually tell him and trying to find a place to start, he added: “What is it, my dear fellow?”
“I...” Boreas took another deep breath. “Remember back on Route 10? When I was saying goodbye to Aqua and we got into a bit of an argument?”
“Yes...” Octa frowned concernedly.
“Well... You told me to go after her and apologise... And I...” Boreas looked away in shame. “I... Well... I- I messed up, Octa. I... Was too prideful... Too angry... Too childish. I lied to you. I didn't go after her... I- I just sat down as soon as I was out of sight... And I lied about it to my friends... I am an idiot...”
It was silent for a moment. Boreas didn't dare look at Octa, keeping his eyes firmly down on the rocky path. Suddenly, he was enveloped in a tight hug in Octa's coils. He looked at his friend in surprise. “Oh, my dear fellow, I couldn't agree more. That was a very stupid action... No wonder you have been so upset lately. I blame myself for this, really... I know how you get when you get emotional... I should have followed you and made sure you spoke to Aqua.”
Boreas, who had been expecting a stern response, hugged Octa back in surprise. “It's not your fault, really, my friend. I should've listened to you. As usual, you were the voice of reason, and I was too stubborn to accept it. It's ridiculous, really: I'm twenty months old, and I'm still acting like a newly-hatched Eevee. Feeling like it too...”
“It's not that odd, my dear fellow. Twenty months is still quite young.”
Boreas chuckled. “For a Serperior, perhaps, but not for us Eevees. Many of us already have cubs when they're my age. I couldn't imagine raising cubs; I still feel like I still am one myself.”
“Let me tell you a secret, my dear fellow: almost every adult, no matter how old, feels like they really are still a cub within. I suppose being adult is mainly a matter of playing one. And telling this to me is at least a step in the right direction. I am disappointed you lied to me, but I shall forgive you for it... As you have clearly suffered enough for it already.”
Black, who had stopped as his pokémon hugged, petted Boreas' head. “Sorry to hear about that, little buddy. I hope she'll forgive you when you apologise to her.”
Boreas and Octa looked up at him in amazement. “You... You understood me?” Boreas gasped.
“It's Wednesday, actually,” said Black, looking surprised.
“Back to his normal form,” muttered Octa. “Still, old chap, I believe you are actually making progress.”
“I hope you're right, Octa; I hope Boreas will make progress. But I'm sure you will, little buddy, you and that Vaporeon are very close. She won't give up on you.”
“Uh...” mumbled Boreas, “I hope you're right. Thanks for the confidence.”
Octa let go of Boreas and they walked on, talking amicably. Boreas felt like a great weight had been lifted off his chest. When the evening fell, they came to a rocky plateau with a small lake leading to a pass between two peaks. Crossing the plateau, suddenly a familiar voice echoed through the plateau. “I wouldn't enter that pass, if I were you.”
As Boreas looked around for the source of the voice, Diego and a couple of other pokémon emerged from behind the rocks.
I would make a good Selene...!?
No thank you! :D
As usual, another great chapter.
I enjoyed reading this, and I enjoy how Boreas, once again, admitting what he did was childish and wrong.
That's how our little hero is.
Aqua not doing anything was somewhat realistic.
How in the world could she do anything if something like that flashed right before your eyes after waking from a blissful sleep?
She shouldn't be blaming her though, but...
The poor trainer, and her Leafeon...
You really made Team Plasma very ...villanous(?) and evil.
Diego showing up at the end.
I'm excited to know what'll happen next.
Looking forward for another great chapter.
Hehe, it was just an idea.
Chapter Sixty-One: Strange Bedfellows
Boreas growled as he and Black's other pokémon took up defensive positions. “You can't threaten us, Diego! If you want us to stop, you'll have to force us!”
“I wasn't threatening you,” said the Zoroark bitterly. “It was a warning. Don't go onto that pass if you don't fancy a painful death.”
Only then did Boreas see Diego was wounded, as were the other pokémon. Which was perfect in his eyes, as he might finally have a chance to defeat the Zoroark in this state. “What do you mean?” Octa asked, his Leaf Blade drawn.
“Don't encourage him, Octa,” said Boreas, “we shouldn't let him trick us with whatever he's plotting!”
“I'm not planning anything, Boreas,” said Diego. “I'm warning you. A Hydreigon and its kin hunt for prey on that pass. They attacked us when we tried to get though. Most of us made it, but not Zzlyxy. A Galvantula,” he added.
“You have my compassion for your loss... And my gratitude for your warning,” said Octa cautiously.
“Octa!” Boreas snapped, “it's just a trick! His last trick cost you your uncle and his children, remember?!”
“My dear fellow,” hissed Octa, “this is not the time to let only our well-justified hatred for him speak. We have to consider his words, for they are quite plausible. Besides, their wounds seem to indicate he's speaking the truth.”
“It's an illusion,” said Boreas darkly. “The only wound he has is in his twisted mind, in place of a conscience. Fortunately, there is a cure for that; it involves an Ice Beam applied directly to the face for about half a minute...”
“A pleasure to see you again too, Boreas,” sneered Diego sarcastically. “But why don't we delay the inevitable moment when I snap your neck until we reach the League? If we fought each other here, there's no chance the survivors would get across that pass alive. So why don't we call an armistice and discuss our options?”
“The only reason you'd call for an armistice is so you can cut our throats while we don't expect it,” snapped Boreas.
“My dear fellow,” Octa interrupted sternly, “this choice is not just yours. Methinks we should accept the armistice and listen to what they have to say. However,” he said to Diego, “I shall negotiate with N only, not with you. I will want to touch him to make sure he's not an illusion. And, my dear fellow, I want you to remain alert for treason, especially from Diego, at all times.”
“Fine,” muttered Boreas, already watching Diego for the merest sign of treachery to strike.
“He's not the only one who'll be watching them,” grumbled Lucius. “I say it's a waste of time to negotiate with Plasma. But if you have to, go ahead. But I'll incinerate them at the first sign of trouble.”
“N has been wounded,” said Diego, “so you can talk to me instead. N trusts me completely.”
“I'm sure he does, but I do not,” Octa refused. “I share Boreas' distrust of you for your past actions. The only way I would talk to you is under the assumption every work you speak is a lie. So please take us to N.”
“Fine. If you want to talk to him, you'll have to follow us.”
Very cautiously, Boreas and the others followed N's pokémon. Aside from Diego, there were an Archeops, a Carracosta, a Klinklang, and a Vanilluxe. They led them around several large rocks until they reached N. He was indeed wounded: his arm in a dirty sling and large purple bruises on his head, aside from several more wounds. He sat up straight when he saw them. “Ah, they caught up with us?” he asked Diego.
“Yes, they did,” said Diego. “They only wanted to talk to you, however, though I assured them I had your trust.”
Octa immediately extended his hand to shake N's. “N, 'tis moderately pleasant to see you once again.”
Boreas kept his body very far below zero as he prepared a Blizzard to hit Diego with when his trick was exposed the moment N shook Octa's hand. However, when N actually did take Octa's hand, Boreas saw Octa quickly feel each of the fingers. He nodded to Boreas to assure him it was unmistakably a human hand, and Boreas let himself relax a little. He doubted Diego would betray the cease-fire while N could see him. Though he did keep an eye on the Zoroark. “Nice to see you all too,” said N. “I'm sure Diego told you exactly what happened to us, so do you want to help?”
Black chuckled nervously. “Well, I can't really understand what he was saying, I mean, he's a pokémon.”
N gave him a pitying look. “It's so sad how you humans just can't understand us pokémon... Fortunately, you can understand me, because I was born in the form of a human. This is-”
Black interrupted him. “You think you're a pokémon?”
“Of course,” said N, as if he had been asked whether the world was round. “How else could I speak to them? That's something no human can do.”
“That's not true,” said Black, “humans who spend enough time with their pokémon and know them well, pokémon masters and such, can understand pokémon too.”
“Nonsense. If that were true, Ghetsis and the other Sages could do it, as they're the greatest pokémon masters in the world.”
“They can,” Boreas interjected. “And so can Alder. Drayden could do it too, and I bet other powerful trainers as well. Black's been trying it too, and has actually been making a little progress.”
“Thank you,” Black nodded.
N looked at Diego. “They're trying to distract you,” said Diego. “It's neither true nor relevant.”
“He's lying, N!” snapped Boreas.
N frowned angrily. “Diego would never lie to me! Only humans lie, how dare you suggest my best friend would lie to me!” he took a deep breath. “Now let's get to business. When we first entered this plateau a few days ago, we just walked on to that pass. But we were attacked by Deinos and Zweilouses, which were led by a Hydreigon. I tried to talk to them, but they wouldn't listen. When they attacked... There were a lot of them, and the Hydreigon was very powerful. They devoured Zzlyxy as we fled... Even Zekrom only managed to hold them back for a short while.”
“I'm sorry to hear that,” said Black. “I know what it's like to lose a pokémon, it really hurts terribly.”
“She wasn't my pokémon,” said N, “but my friend. That is much worse. But, since neither of us can get past the pass on our own, I think we should try it together.”
“What, you and me teaming up?” Black asked in surprise. “Well... I guess if that's the only way we're going to get through Victory Road, we should. But after we pass the Hydreigon, it's every man and 'mon for themselves.”
“That makes sense,” said N, “after all, though we are both heroes, we have opposite goals. I seek an ideal world, you seek the truth.”
“N, I'm not a hero and I don't seek the truth,” Black sighed. “All I want to do is stop your Team Plasma from causing even more damage than they already did.”
“If you don't accept your role as the hero, Reshiram will never recognise you as Zekrom has recognised me. Then you certainly won't be able to stop me.”
“Then I'll stop you with my own pokémon!” snapped Black.
“You will fail,” stated N.
“You don't know that!” snapped Black.
“Of course I do; the legends say the only ones who can defeat the hero and his dragon is the other hero and his dragon.”
Toxica interrupted Black's response to that. “Look! If you two are going to fight each other instead of that Hydreigon, we'll never get anywhere. Let's settle it at the League.”
“She's right,” said N, “we can't fight here; this is Victory Road. We'll see who is right at the League. Now let me describe to you exactly what that pass looks like so we can stand a better chance at getting through...”
Boreas had already resigned to the alliance's necessity. While he was determined not to believe anything Diego said, he knew N was at least somewhat trustworthy. He didn't mind allying with the human and most of his pokémon, but he did mind the thought of fighting alongside Diego. When he thought of all the things the Zoroark had done, Boreas only wanted to kill him. He didn't really listen to N's description, focussing instead on keeping an eye on Diego. When the Zoroark approached him, he was ready to fight in an instant.
“Don't look so alarmed, Boreas, I'm just here for a friendly chat. After all, it seems we're once again on the same side.”
“We've never been on the same side,” growled Boreas.
“I was your brother for two months, remember?” said Diego with a grin.
Boreas trembled with fury, but struggled to keep calm; undoubtedly Diego was just trying to get him to break the cease-fire. “You desecrated my brother's memory, you mean. We weren't on the same side, your very presence was both an insult and an injury.” Boreas would never admit it, but when he thought of Zeph, a cheekily grinning Flareon came to mind, not the Eevee he really had been. It made it even worse, as if Diego had stolen his brother from him.
“Well, like it or not, I was your brother for a longer time than he ever lived in reality. And, you know, having most of your early memories makes me realise why you act like this, so I'll forgive you.”
“Keep your forgiveness!” Boreas spat angrily, “I don't want it!”
“We're allies now, you've got to let go of petty anger.”
“Petty anger? It's nothing short of major psychotic loathing, Diego! You turned Aqua against me and tried to murder her! You desecrated the memory of my brother and you nearly killed Octa! You hung me up by my tail and you broke my leg! Death is too good for you, you heartless monstrosity, but it's exactly what I'll give you!”
Diego shrugged. “You're an enemy of Team Plasma; I'd never have done any of that if it wasn't for the war. These things happen. But you're clearly not in a talking or forgiving mood.”
He turned around and walked away to listen to the plans. His back formed a tantalisingly attractive target for Boreas. He could fire his strongest Ice Beam at the top of Diego's neck; paralyse his entire body for a while by freezing his nerves. The bastard would fall on the ground, and Boreas could be upon him within a second, digging his claws in. He would place his paws on the Zoroark's head and quickly unleash several powerful pulses of cold through his brain. Diego would be severely wounded before anyone could stop Boreas; and in the middle of these mountains, he'd probably never recover. Boreas found himself having cooled his body down, ready to do what he'd sworn to do a year ago. The cold from his body collected in a single point... And dissipated.
He was so very close to killing Diego, but had managed to hold himself back. He had seen N's reaction to even the suggestion Diego was lying; lethally injuring him would instantly end the alliance. And then they could never get past the Hydreigon; Team Plasma's darkness would descend over Unova. Trembling with fury and hate, he slowly calmed himself down by forcing himself to breathe calmly. He felt a hand on his shoulder and angrily turned at it, only to discover it was Octa's. “Are you alright, my dear fellow?” he asked softly.
Boreas smiled. “Yeah, I am. In fact, you should be proud of me: I kept my anger under control just now.”
Octa raised an eyebrow. “It didn't sound like it to me.”
“Believe me, it was. He's still alive, you see.” But won't be for much longer... he added in his mind. Because once they were through the pass, there was no reason not to kill Diego. In fact, it would feel very good to finally get rid of him.
Aqua wasn't sure she was doing a wise thing as she sneaked through the station. But she knew she had to try. Seeing the trainer and her pokémon be murdered had finally opened her eyes. Team Plasma was evil, there was no other word for it. She had known these things were happening, she should've seen how horrid they were earlier, but somehow they hadn't seemed real and serious until she had seen it happen herself. She could curse at herself for helping Plasma for so long, standing by idly while good people died, and even fighting on Plasma's side, but what was done was done. She should repair their damage as best as she could.
Strangely, she still agreed with them on their core issues. While there were some decent humans, most of them should stay away from pokémon; overall they probably did more harm than good. But the very first among those bad humans were surely Team Plasma. Once they were defeated, she could try and get others to release their pokémon, if there were any trainers left. For now, her place was with Boreas, against Plasma; bizarre though the thought of fighting on the side of the trainers was.
She had considered trying to overtake him the moment she realised this, of course, but it was obvious there was no way she was going to catch up. Not from this side of Victory Road at least... That was why she was trying to sneak onto a train to the League, so she could come from the other side and join them for the final bit of the journey. It made more sense to just wait at the League... But it felt better to join them, even if only for a bit.
So she now sneaked around the station, trying to board the train north without being found, as it would be assumed she was a trainer's pokémon if anyone saw her. Not surprisingly, the train to the Pokémon League was under extra scrutiny. There didn't seem to be any passengers boarding the train, only some food and other supplies being loaded on it, yet a bunch of Plasma grunts stood on the platform, guarding it. It was quite obvious to Aqua she was not going to get in easily, and fighting all of them would be quite impossible. She knew a trick, but she needed a source of water for it.
She sneaked into the bathroom and turned on all faucets; not an easy feat without opposable thumbs. With the water flowing, she commanded it to follow her as a small river behind her. She hid behind some supplies once again, and had the stream flow onto the platform; making the shape of a Vaporeon's head made of water rise out of it. The startled guards, looking at it in the weak light, immediately sent out their pokémon. She made the river and the fake Vaporeon quickly flow away, drawing the guards with it. She ran into the train's door as soon as she could and hid under a chair. She chuckled at her successful use of the trick that had led people to believe Vaporeons could melt into water; by now the guards would be looking at just a big puddle of water with stupid looks on their faces.
The pass was deathly quiet as they walked through it. The tall slopes of the peaks on either side were very steep and rocky and had several caves in them from which the enemy could come at any moment. But as far as Boreas was concerned, the enemy was right here. He made sure not to turn his back on Diego for an instant. He assumed Diego was planning to kill him as well; he'd have to be quicker about it.
A sense of awe and fierce, electrifying ideals flashed over Boreas as N released Zekrom from its pokéball. A beautiful image of a world where pokémon were free from humans filled his mind. He saw the perfection of pokémon compared to humans, who couldn't even understand what pokémon said. He had never been so proud to be a pokémon, and he longed to be liberated... But why wait? He was clearly powerful enough to liberate himself, and help make a world for liberated pokémon...
Then he remembered what Team Plasma's ideal world really looked like. He remembered his friendship with Black and quickly shook those strange thoughts off. “Yikes, no wonder they're winning,” he said in surprise. He saw similar thoughts temporarily in his friends' faces, even in Black.
N smiled. “You just felt the full force of Zekrom's ideals; my ideals. Now, perhaps, you understand my cause... Or at least why I normally keep Zekrom inside its pokéball.”
“Yeah...” replied Boreas. “Having that constantly happen to anyone near...”
“That, and it exhausts quickly. It seems it's hard for it to keep up its passion for an ideal world for extended times... It told me it prefers being in its pokéball while travelling... So strange.”
“Yeah, that is weird...” said Boreas, surprised he was having a chat with N now.
After some silence, N said: “By the way, my condolences for your loss... It must feel so bad, losing her like that...”
“Huh? Losing whom like what?”
N looked at him as if he was insane. “Aqua? You know, she got killed by trainers the day I awoke Zekrom?”
Boreas laughed coldly. “Is that what Diego has told you?”
“Ghetsis told me the tragic news... Then Diego later gave it in more detail.”
“They lied. Aqua is alive and well. The only one who tried to kill her was Diego himself; he betrayed her and tried to kill her by breaking her-”
“That's not true!” snapped N, furiously, and Zekrom's tail flared with blue light as it crackled with electricity. “They would never lie to me, and Diego certainly wouldn't try to kill Aqua!”
“Oh, I'm sorry for believing what I saw with my own eyes! She was in the pokécenter for weeks!”
“You're lying! You-”
N's words ended as the dragons attacked. They suddenly came down the slopes on both sides. Boreas, with a reaction that surprised himself with speed, had Ice Beamed two of the Deinos down a second later.
“Hold on!” shouted N. “There's no need to attack us! Please, stop, we can talk this out instead!”
The dragons didn't heed his words, as Boreas expected. “They only see us as food, they're not going to negotiate with us!” he pointed out as he fired more Ice Beams. “We either win or we die; they're going to be as merciless as your big friend Diego.”
N said something, but a loud roar as the Hydreigon swooped down and huge, crackling bolts of electricity blasted from Zekrom drowned him out. Boreas found himself fighting in the midst of N's pokémon. It allowed him to observe their battle styles, which would come in handy at the League or later today after he'd killed Diego, but it was also a problem, as it meant he couldn't trust his allies to protect him.
It had been easy enough taking out Deinos from a distance with Ice Beams, but it was a lot more dangerous once they reached the pass and could strike back. But the Deinos weren't really the problem; the Hydreigon was very dangerous, striking with enormously powerful attacks from each of its heads. Fortunately, N had the sense to tell Zekrom to battle it.
But even the Zweilouses were powerful enough opponents to keep them very busy. Boreas was soon enveloped in battle with one of the two-headed dragons, exchanging ice and dragon fire between them as both heads snapped at Boreas and tried to bite him. A couple of Deinos flocked around them and attacked Boreas too, which was a bigger problem; he thought he could probably best the Zweilous, given some time, as the scaly skin and ectothermic bodies of dragon-types couldn't handle cold well, but with all the Deinos attacking as well he could easily be overwhelmed. He considered making a Blizzard around him to take them all down, but the intense amount of energy that would cost would leave him too open for any other enemies, not to mention Diego.
But he did need to stop them from attacking him. A poorly executed attempt to bite him from the Deino on his left was just what he needed. As the creature stuck out its neck in a clumsy attempt to bite Boreas, he grabbed it with one paw on the head and one on the neck. He blasted a pulse of cold from each paw while digging his claws into the opponent, giving a strong yank. His enemy stumbled and fell past him, against another Deino, and Boreas Ice Beamed them both once more. He hoped the Deino was unconscious, not dead, but in either case the others would think twice before attacking him now.
He had only a moment to react to the double blast of fire from the mouths of the Zweilous, jumping out of the way clumsily and quickly folding his tail up. He landed poorly, hurting his front legs, and felt searing heat just behind his bum; if he hadn't retracted his tail he would probably have lost another part of it. He got up, jumped out of the way of his opponent's jaws, and struck back with a gust of snow and hail.
The battle was going well: his opponent was enraged and shivering and about to make a mistake, as Boreas saw its two heads about to try a bite attack almost as clumsy as the Deino's; which was fine with Boreas, as he could respond in a similar fashion. But just at the wrong moment, as he had already begun his counterattack, a sharp pain shot through Boreas' tail as one of the Deinos had the courage to attack him after all. Even during his startled reaction of pain, he knew it was a bad mistake, as his counterattack had been disturbed and misaimed. He tried to dodge his enemy's jaws instead of counterattacking, but he couldn't avert his momentum any more.
A white light of severe pain flashed through Boreas' head as his right eye erupted in agony, the entire side of his forehead struck by the Zweilous' razor-sharp teeth. He blasted his opponent with a pulse of cold and tried to keep his distance again. But he felt blood flowing through the fur on his face, and he couldn't see anything with the eye. He was dizzy and nauseous with pain, losing blood fast, and having trouble seeing well with only one eye.
He struggled to try and dodge or parry the Zweilous' further attacks, but it was futile. The Deinos around him has been encouraged by his wound and were attacking together. He groaned in agony, but couldn't give up. He unleashed cold from his body, making the air flow rapidly and cool down around him. It went faster and faster, and he heard the Deinos whimpering around him.
Suddenly, pain filled his entire mind, even worse pain than he was already in. His right hind leg burned with agony, and Boreas was only vaguely aware his Blizzard had stopped. He couldn't think of anything but the pain right now, and only with much effort was he able to open his tear-filled eye and look at the leg. “Oh no, not again...” he groaned, seeing it was twisted in a very weird angle.
He couldn't do a thing, crushed with pain. He tried to escape, but the Zweilous was about to finish him off. A beam of darkness hit both its heads and knocked it away from him. “Lucius?” Boreas groaned weakly.
“Guess again,” said a hated voice as Diego attacked the Zweilous with his claws and dark attacks.
While Boreas' body most wanted to curl up and whimper in pain, he said: “Diego? Why- why are you doing this?”
“Because you obviously can't fight for yourself,” he said, “and you're my ally at the moment. You'd do the same for me, after all.”
“What's your game, Diego? Lure me into a false sense of security, only to murder me in my sleep?”
Diego laughed as the dragons began retreating. “If I wanted to murder you, I could easily do it right now and claim the Zweilous got you.”
“How comforting...” muttered Boreas as he closed his eye in pain, guilt pressing on him. He tried to shake it off, but the thought that he had been plotting to kill Diego while Diego saved his life was not a pleasant one.
Boreas was in a very bad mood as Black cleaned his eye and forehead with a wet towel. N and his team had left soon after the attack, as none of them had been seriously wounded. Boreas had been too weak and felt too guilty by Diego saving him to carry out his plan to kill the Zoroark. He felt doubly bad now, both because Diego was still alive and because he had plotted to kill him, which Diego had repaid by saving him. But why?
Boreas wasn't quite sure whether he'd rather consider that question or think about his eye. Losing the tip of his tail had been bad enough, but an eye? Not only did the world look flat and ugly in his single working eye, but it was even more prominent an injury than the tail. He could already imagine the eyes of any person he talked to being drawn to his right eye, which would probably end up creepy, white and blind. He could imagine awkward silences falling when someone invited him to speak under four eyes, and the fact that to everyone he would be “that one-eyed Glaceon.” The next time he saw Aqua, she would look like a picture of her; flat and missing a certain living quality. And she might very well be disgusted by her creepy, blind eye. She had always liked his eyes... He wondered if she would ever look into them as she had again.
Sighing glumly, he decided he'd rather probe the question of Diego's kindness than his one-eyed future after all. It could only be a trick... In fact, there was suspicious similarity between Zeph “saving” him on Dragonspiral Tower and this. Could there have been illusions at work this time as well? Maybe the dragons had all been an illusion, and it was just Diego wounding him? But that was impossible; his friends had fought the dragons as well, and he had heard their sounds and the sounds of battle as well. Maybe he had told them to attack? But what could be the point of that? No-one had joined their team this time. Unless... Boreas wondered if Diego might've used the chaos of battle to quietly kill one of his friends and replace them, masking himself with an illusion. He would have to touch each of them to make sure, but it didn't seem very likely, as they had all fought close to each other, where they could see one another. Maybe he had just been trying to win Boreas' trust? But what would be the use of that? In any case, he did not have it.
The thought that perhaps Diego's motives were just as friendly as they seemed was a scary, and fortunately impossible one. Diego had tormented him for a year now. There couldn't possibly be any true kindness in him. Yet, Boreas had truly loved his illusion as a brother, and all that time Diego had expertly pretended to be a kind, good person. Could a truly evil person really keep up such pretence for so long, or had Diego let out his deeply-buried good side? Boreas could almost believe it, until he remembered what had happened to Aqua when she had trusted him. He clenched his teeth with hatred; maybe he could forgive the things Diego had done to him if the Zoroark worked very hard to earn his forgiveness, but he would never forgive that. Yet, despite the unforgivable things Diego had done, could there really be a spark of light in his dark heart?
Black interrupted his train of thought. “There, I'm done. We'll keep your head bandaged for the next few weeks; after that the eye should be as good as new and the wound will be only a scar.”
“Huh?” Boreas wondered whether he had heard it correctly. “My eye... Is going to heal?”
“You knew your eye was mostly alright? Well, I didn't; it really looked as if the eye was damaged badly. Fortunately, the attack mainly hit your forehead, making a very deep cut there, which is where all the blood really came from; it just flowed into your eye, which probably also meant you couldn't see a thing with it. But the eye itself has really only been hit very lightly. As for your leg, that will take some more time to heal, but...”
Black said more, but Boreas didn't listen to him. Ecstatically happy he hadn't lost his eye, he hugged Black. The world suddenly seemed a lot brighter with this spot of hope restored.
Boreas still has to keep both his eyes!
Zekrom wanting to be kept inside his/her/it's pokeball...
Maybe after long years of being inside a stone, it's not used to roam around?
The battle was written well, though hanging.
I also wanted to read about the other's side of battle, but, Boreas' point of view.
Also, a fake Aqua was a nice touch.
A very good chapter once again.
Looking forward for the next chapter~
Yeah, that's probably part of the reason. Its own powers also simply exhaust it after a while, even when it does nothing special. I just don't see a legendary walking about all the time like other pokémon, somehow.
Chapter Sixty-Two: Lost in the Black Mountains
The journey over Victory Road was hard enough with four good legs and two good eyes; with one leg in a cast and one eye covered up to help it and the wound in his forehead heal it was even worse. Yet Boreas couldn't just sit out the journey in his pokéball either; his friends needed him in the frozen landscape, which was getting colder day by day. Even with his broken leg he still had the easiest time with the cold and the ice, and walked on top of the layer of snow with relative ease while his friends struggled through it. He had to scout ahead, try and find the easiest paths through snow and ice for them, and forage what little food there was to find. His innate feeling for the structure of ice helped them avoid dangerous spots and avalanches. The only times he was returned to his pokéball was when they had a particularly difficult climb or descent to do.
On snowless days they often found the tracks of N and his pokémon, and when they were about to head into a dale they could sometimes see them deep down already in it. They didn't manage to catch up, however, and in fact saw less and less of them as September turned to October. Boreas preferred it this way, as the sight of Diego or his tracks made him wonder how different they really were from each other. Diego rescuing Boreas while he had been plotting the Zoroark's death and would probably have just watched and laughed if he was about to be mauled to death hadn't really improved his opinion of himself. He had felt a lot better after apologising to Selene, but now he wondered again whether they were really so different.
He wondered now if Diego's parents were still alive, and what they thought of him... Were they proud of their son? Did they disapprove of him? Did they lose contact ages ago? Did they get killed by humans, pushing Diego into Team Plasma out of revenge? How would Boreas' parents think of him if they were still alive? He had always assumed they would probably be proud of him, but would they really be proud of someone who had been plotting an ally's death in cold blood?
Then again, he thought, I shouldn't lose perspective. I was planning Diego's death, not that of a real ally, or even a temporary one. He's my enemy, no matter what.
But what if he isn't? Maybe he really isn't that bad. He did save my life when I would've watched him die.
Boreas still couldn't think of a proper explanation for Diego rescuing him. None of his friends had been replaced, he had made sure of that, and the battle didn't seem to have had any other use either. Except for Boreas' complete confusion. Could Diego have been planning this? Maybe he had only saved Boreas because he knew it would confuse him to no end. Or perhaps it was part of some future plan, and the Zoroark only wanted him to think he had become a better person?
Boreas sighed in frustration. Finding out the motives of an enemy as cunning as Diego was like trying to hold a slippery eel. He didn't know whether to feel guilty, angry, cautious, or something else now. If Diego was planning something, then relenting in his desire to kill him could prove a fatal mistake. But on the other hand, could Boreas kill him while there was even a chance he wasn't as bad as he seemed? If, despite all the horrid things he'd done, there was some good in him? It was easy to just consider the fact that he'd sworn to kill Diego as a settling argument, but Boreas wasn't going to take the easy way out and hide behind oaths. In the end, he had a choice to make. Was it a worse oversight to let a villain live to cause more harm in the future or to kill someone who might be a decent person, no matter how unlikely that was?
Boreas didn't know the answer, but he finally decided he wouldn't need to commit either mistake. He just didn't have enough information to make his choice, so he would wait. And when the time came that he had to make a choice, he would hopefully know enough to do the right thing.
So as they continued through the increasingly barren landscape, he tried not to think about it, and his thoughts turned to Aqua. Did she miss him as badly as he missed her? Had she given him up completely after their fight? Would he ever see her again? Boreas missed everything about her terribly. Most of all, he just wanted to hold her and tell her how sorry he was for his selfishness and that he loved her more than he loved anything else in the world. He didn't want to waste another minute of his life not being with her.
The problem with Victory Road was that he had far too much time to think. It seemed there would never come an end to the mountains. The rough, wild landscape was exciting, and it was always great to see what was behind the next row of mountains, but he really wanted to get to the League soon to try and find Aqua and defeat N. He tried to talk to his friends a lot to stop the endlessly pouring thoughts, but even the floods of words Octa and Toxica could produce didn't help much to take his mind off things. Besides, their love troubles reminded Boreas of his own. Though at least neither Aqua nor he had a family as troublesome as Octa's. They still hadn't accepted Octa and Toxica being together, though they tolerated it for the moment. Boreas wondered what Toxica would have to do to be accepted. Maybe there was noting she could do, maybe Octa's family was too stuck in their ways and traditions ever to accept her. On a certain level, he actually found himself hoping that.
And so October slowly crawled past. As November came, winter had truly started. Blizzards were frequent, and even when it was clear the cold was amazing. The days were short and dark, with the Sun hardly ever rising above the mountains, and the nights were endlessly long, dark as a dungeon, and very, very cold. Yet in these dark days, Boreas found happy tidings as Black finally removed the bandage from his eye.
“There,” he said with a smile as he cleaned Boreas' fur where the bandage has been, “the eye and the wound are both looking well. Can you see?”
Boreas looked around in wonder. Everything looked much brighter and strangely reddish in his right eye. “Everything is so bright...”
“That's because your eye has been covered up for weeks, it's completely adjusted to the dark. Give it some time.”
Boreas found the bright, unfocussed ghost image the second eye added to his vision very disorienting, used as he was to seeing with one eye by now. But of course his second eye quickly went from annoying to useful as he relearned how to use both eyes again. Seeing the world in three dimensions gave him more happiness and hope than he'd had for a while. They were nearing the League by now anyway.
A week later, after making their way through harsh, rocky terrain and fighting their way past a whole nest of Durants, Black removed the cast on his leg as well. Unlike the bandage for his eye, this didn't cheer Boreas up. While his leg now had more freedom to move, this made him feel how weak and painful it was by now. He had to push himself hard not to slow his friends down on non-snowy terrain, and he frequently had to clench his teeth against pain from the leg when he put too much weight on it. Only the thought every step brought him closer to Aqua kept him going on some days.
He didn't realise how literally true this thought was until later. They had Painstakingly climbed up a mountain's side from the vale below for the past two days. Tall pines managed to grow between the rough rocks. By the end of the second day, every time Boreas pulled himself up on a rock he wondered when he would pass out from exhaustion. He cursed and muttered under his breath at the burning of his muscles and the stabs from his leg. Breathing labouredly, he finally reached a forested ridge where his friends were already resting from the long climb. He threw himself down in exhaustion once he reached it and tried to catch his breath on the lightly snow-covered ground.
“Something's coming!” hissed Selene. Everyone scrambled to their feet, though they barely had the energy left to stand. Boreas could see it too, now, a small figure in the dark forest of the ridge. As it approached, he noticed its attractive, finned form, and couldn't believe his eyes. It had to be an illusion, but when she spoke all doubt was removed.
“Hello guys,” said a wonderful voice. “Glad to see you've made it this far.”
Everyone was silent as they beheld the Vaporeon with surprise and wonder. “Aqua...” Boreas finally gasped. “It... It can't be you, not here... This is a dream...” Then he grinned. “And a good one too...”
Aqua frowned angrily. “Don't get your hopes up, I'm still furious for what you said!”
Boreas blushed in shame, realising it was the real Aqua. Now he desperately wanted to pounce her, hold her tightly, kiss her for minutes and only think about her the whole night. But her anger was entirely justified. “Oh... Sorry, I thought I was dreaming...” he said, feeling horrible. “I'm so sorry for the things I said. It was wrong of me to insist you come here with me... And especially to tell you it was what you would do if you really loved me. I was trying to use emotional blackmail on you, and it was the greatest mistake of my life.”
Boreas cowered under the fierce look Aqua used to stare at him. “Yes, it was.”
He felt heartbroken and horrid, and knew he deserved it. “Aqua, my love... Not a day has gone by when I haven't lamented the things I said as a farewell to you. Can you please forgive this selfish, childish bastard, though he can't even forgive himself and is not remotely deserving of the love of someone like you?” he begged with tears in his eyes, dreading the answer.
Aqua's harsh mask quivered and trembled. “Oh, Boreas... I shouldn't... But... I-I can't stay mad at you. I love you too much for it, despite everything...”
It was as if Boreas had been submerged in an ocean of happiness. “Thank you! Thank you so much, my love. I promise I'll never, ever say anything like that to you again. I'll never let you down again. I love you...”
Aqua looked at him with a loving smile before scraping her throat and looking at Black. “Ahem. Um, well, that was only part of the reason why I came here. You see, I've decided to join you. I want to help you defeat Team Plasma. I assume that sixth spot on the team is still open?”
“It is...” grinned Black. “And I'm sure Boreas will be glad you're joining.”
“I am,” said Boreas, his tail wagging uncontrollably with joy, “I really am. But what made you reconsider?”
“Yeah,” said Lucius, “I'd like to know that too. It sounds a bit too convenient to me.”
“What do you mean?” asked Boreas.
“I mean it looks like Plasma is once again using you to get a spy on our team, pup. We chased off your dear “brother,” and now they landed another spy...”
“You take that back right now!” yelled Boreas. “Aqua is no spy!”
“Quit thinking with your dick, pup,” sneered Lucius, “she's been on N's team, she's palled around with Diego, and you have the hots for her. She's the perfect spy.”
Boreas was about to shout at Lucius again, but Octa interrupted him. “My dear fellow, I am sorry to say this, but he may have a point. No offence intended, Aqua.”
Boreas calmed down hearing his best friend say it too. “Octa, I trust Aqua with far more than my life. She's no spy, she would never betray me.”
“And look what she did with that sweet trust of yours in Chargestone Cave,” sneered Lucius. “They say love blind; take it from me, pup, it's a waste of time and a recipe for disaster and disappointment.”
Aqua's reply drowned out what Boreas had to say to that. “Listen, I know it sounds a bit suspicious, but I swear I haven't seen N since Diego attacked me at Dragonspiral Tower.”
“It's true,” added Boreas, with a foul look at Lucius, “N thought she was dead, because that's what Diego told him.”
“What about Ghetsis? Or any other Plasma members? Or maybe she thought this up on her own.”
“Shut up!” snapped Boreas. “She's not-”
“Boreas, please,” interrupted Aqua. “It's understandable your friends don't trust me after I fought for N.”
“Well,” spoke Octa, “I do not distrust you. However, some evidence to back up your claims would help me trust you, as would an account of why you changed your mind.”
Boreas saw sadness and guilt briefly flash through Aqua's eyes. “I'm sorry, Octa, but I really don't want to talk about it. And I can't give you any evidence other than my word.”
“And mine,” added Boreas. “I love and trust Aqua. If she says she's changed her mind and wants to join us, I believe her. I assure you, she's speaking the truth.”
“Thank you, Boreas,” said Aqua with a smile.
“Are you quite sure, my dear fellow? Is that not simply wishful thinking?”
Boreas looked Octa straight into the eyes, wanting to dismiss all doubt. “Octa, my friend, I've never been more certain of anything. I trust Aqua because I love her, and if you trust me as much, you should trust her as well.”
Octa looked him in the eyes for a moment. “Alright, then. If you can earnestly tell me you trust her, I shall do the same.”
“No!” snapped Lucius. “This is insane, we're not letting a spy on the team!”
“C'mon, Lucius,” said Toxica, “Boreas is our friend, if he says we can trust her, I guess we should. Plus, she's a fun person to have around.”
“Are you all stupid?! She's a spy, I'd bet anything!”
“C'mon, Boreas is our friend, can't you trust him?”
“It's not Boreas I'm having trouble trusting...”
“Look,” said Black, “we need a sixth team member in any case, we stand little chance against the Elite Four with only five. I was planning to have it be Reshiram, but since I can't seem to awake it, we don't have much choice. Boreas' girlfriend has proven her skill and determination simply by getting here. As far as I'm concerned, she's welcome to join. Can't you give her a chance?”
Lucius growled. “Fine! One chance, and one chance only! But I'm warning you, missy, I'll keep my eye on you. And the moment I see you betray us, I'll-”
“You'll what?” Boreas interrupted angrily. It was bad enough to hear Lucius insult Aqua, hearing him threaten her was even worse.
“I'll give her exactly what traitors deserve,” he said with a malevolent grin.
Boreas almost snapped out at Lucius, but took several deep breaths and looked into Aqua's eyes to calm himself down instead. He could swear he almost saw her wink at him. “She's no traitor, so it doesn't matter anyway.”
“Thank you,” said Aqua to everyone in general. “I won't let you down, I promise.”
“You'd better not,” mumbled Lucius.
“Hello, I'm Selene,” said Selene as she landed on Aqua's shoulder.
“Yeah, I know. Hi, Selene, we met, remember?”
“Yes, I do. Hello.”
“Anyway, Boreas,” said Aqua, letting Selene fly away, “I think we have a lot to... talk about.”
“Yeah, we do.” Boreas agreed, missing neither the innuendo nor the serious part of the invitation. “Come on,” he said as he walked off through the trees with her, looking for some privacy.
“Well, I suppose it was time to stop for today anyway...” he heard Black remark, but then they were too far away to hear more. They found a rough gully in the chilly forest on the ridge which seemed a good place to talk. Yet when they stood opposite each other there, they didn't know what to say. Boreas had already apologised and she had accepted it, so he didn't think he should start apologising again. He really wanted to kiss her, but could he just do that after all that had happened? It didn't seem like a good idea for now. He wanted to ask about what had changed her mind, but it seemed too heavy a subject to just begin talking about, since she had seemed so saddened by it.
“Hi,” he said hollowly.
“Hi...” she piped nervously.
An awkward silence pressed hard on them like the air itself had grown thick as custard. Boreas tried to think of something to say as he looked into Aqua's face. She was still looking incredibly attractive to him, though somewhat rougher after so much time alone on Victory Road. He wanted to compliment her looks, but found that too impossible to say. He hadn't had such trouble talking to her since the first days he had known her.
“It's... It's wonderful to see you again,” he finally managed to say.
Aqua nodded and smiled nervously. “Yeah...”
Boreas wasn't quite sure who had made the first move, but after a few more seconds, they were suddenly hugging each other tightly, lying on the ground. Boreas happily cuddled Aqua, relishing the feeling of having his paws around her and feeling her warm body pressed against his that he had had to miss for so long. He petted the soft fur on her back with love as she nuzzled his ears and hair.
“Oh, my love...” Aqua whispered. “I missed you so much.”
“I missed you too... Let's never do that again.”
“Fighting or parting for so long?” Aqua whispered as she petted through his hair and nuzzled his cheek.
“Both,” said Boreas, nuzzling her finned ears, “I want to stay at your side forever, my love.”
Their lips found each other with a kiss that filled their minds with love for each other like a hot air balloon is filled with air, keeping it warm and afloat. “I love you, Boreas...”
“I... I love you too, my brave Aqua... Coming all the way here just for me...” That remark had the effect he expected. He saw a flash of sadness on her formerly happy face. “Except you didn't, did you? There's more to it than just that.”
Boreas hated making Aqua so sad, but he wanted to help her with whatever it was. “Yes... Yes, there was. I can tell you... But it's not a happy story, not something for a moment like this.”
He gently hugged her as she lay on top of him. “It's always a good moment to help you. What happened?”
Slowly and with tears in her eyes, Aqua told him all about how she had gone south to Opelucid and witnessed the death of the trainer. She was sobbing on his shoulder by the time she was finished, while he tried to console her.
“I don't think you're to blame, my love... No-one would've reacted well when faced with that so suddenly after waking up in the middle of the night.”
“I hadn't looked at it that way yet...” she said sadly.
He gently embraced her and stroked her face. “Well, then look at it that way. Besides, you're here now to help us make things better.”
“You're right... But I know of someone who would've rescued them: you would have... I bet you would've saved them all.”
“Heh, you give me too much credit. I would've probably stood by just as helplessly if that happened so suddenly.”
“Of course you wouldn't have,” Aqua said, winking her tears away as she grinned flirtatiously. “My brave, handsome hero would've saved them. I'm sure of it.”
Boreas let himself be kissed by her, rather surprised. “Well, your mood changed quick. A moment ago you were in tears.”
Aqua shrugged apologetically and stuck out her tongue. “What can I say? I've missed you for three months, and now I'm snuggled close to you. You can't blame me for wanting to do other things than crying.”
Boreas grinned too. “Good idea. So... You were telling me about your brave, handsome hero?”
“That's right, I was,” giggled Aqua as she stroked Boreas' chin and chest. “He's this brave, cunning Glaceon. He's very cute and sexy, with these piercing cyan eyes of his. I've been in love with him since the day we met, and now even more, though he's not the same Glaceon any more.”
“No, you're not. You've changed a lot, both inside and out,” she said while petting his face. “Fortunately the changes are improvements. Your face looks a lot more handsome and adult now, you've received some scars, and you've grown quite a fetching beard.”
“I have?” blurted Boreas out in surprise. “I didn't know that was possible.”
Aqua giggled as she caressed his lower jaw. “My silly Boreas, you've really spent too little time among your own kind. The fur on the lower jaw of male Eevees tends to grow longer than the rest and colour darker, much like the hair on your head. Most keep that fur short, but you haven't... And I've got to say it looks very good on you.”
“Thanks,” chuckled Boreas, “I'm definitely keeping it now.”
“I was hoping you would, you look sexy,” she said with a wink. “You also changed inside, you're a lot more mature now. Those things Lucius said would've gotten you angry enough to attack him a few months ago. You've become a much greater Glaceon, really.”
Boreas considered telling her what had happened when they'd temporarily teamed up with N, that he'd plotted to kill Diego while they were allied, letting his hate cloud his reason. But he couldn't bring himself to tell her, he didn't dare risk losing her love, which he needed more than anything right now. “I guess you're right,” he lied. “But enough about me.”
He kissed Aqua, feeling slightly guilty about not telling her, but he lost his worries in their passionate kissing, making him feel nothing but happiness for the first time in months. Despite everything that had happened and was still going to happen, their lives were good at that moment.
Despite his struggle with telling Aqua what had happened with Diego, the next few days were happy ones to Boreas. Being with Aqua again was amazing, like being healthy again after a long illness, and the prospect that the League was only two weeks away made his mood even better. Aqua acted almost as their guide, since she knew the road, having travelled on it on her way to them. The forested ridge led to a series of caverns. They would spend several hours going through the caves in the mountains, and then resurfacing again. After a while they would drop underground again, and the cycle would repeat. Everyone was glad to be spending so much time underground now, as severe cold and heavy snowfall dominated the outside, while the Earth seemed to keep some warmth in.
The path they followed didn't go very deep into the mountains, but stayed somewhat close to the surface. Yet the caves occasionally branched off to deep, dark paths that seemed to lead straight to the heart of the mountains, to murky depths that hadn't seen light for aeons. Outside, the path was mostly singular, a path over mountainsides that were battered heavily by ice-cold winds. Even Boreas felt cold sometimes.
They came by a path that led straight north, up another mountain, right in the direction where the League was, but paths in the mountains often ended up going in different directions than they seemed to at first. Both Black's map and Aqua's memory said not to follow that road, but to continue westwards on the icy path over the mountainside. All were glad as they entered another cave, protecting them from the extreme weather. They spent the night in the caves on Aqua's counsel, as she made it clear this was the final tunnel they would travel through, after which the pass led straight north to the League for two more weeks.
They slept in the caves, one of them always on watch to warn the others for the many dangerous creatures that could encounter them in a cave like this. Boreas had a hard time keeping his mind in the present during the hours he was on watch, as he kept wondering about the things that could be in the darkness just outside their light's reach, and thought about the mysterious roots of the mountains they were now in, strangely with more curiosity than fear.
“Well, that's not good...” muttered Toxica as they looked upon the snow filling the cave's exit. They had walked through the dark tunnels until they encountered this: snow and ice filling the entire tunnel, leaving no open space to continue through at all. The fact that no light from outside shone through at all was a bad sign.
“There must've been an avalanche outside...” muttered Black. “Can we get through?” he asked Boreas, who has his ear and front paws pressed to the ice and was listening intently and cautiously letting pulses of cold run through the ice, using his species' innate senses for snow and ice to find out more about this obstacle.
“A bit of snow is no match for my fire,” bragged Lucius. “Stand back, pup, and I'll melt it away.”
Boreas shook his head. “Ho-oh itself couldn't melt through all that. And even if it did, it'd have to deal with a small lake's worth of molten water having nowhere to go but here.”
“Are you saying we can't get through?”
“I'm saying Black is right: there's been an avalanche, and it's completely blocked the exit up; buried it under about a hundred metres of snow. But at least there's some good news: look at the smooth ice on the surface here and the ice lying around on the bottom of this tunnel, as well as the soot on the roof of the cave: N has found his way blocked too and futilely tried to melt it away. Since we didn't run into him, he must've found another way. Presumably through the other tunnels down here.”
“A clever deduction, my dear fellow,” commented Octa, “I suppose this snow would thaw away eventually, but we could be here until summer if we waited for that... So you propose we try and find another path through these caverns?”
Boreas had an idea. “Actually, I have a better idea: remember that path north we saw yesterday? Why don't we go back and take that road? It goes into the League's direction, and seems pretty easy to travel on. And we wouldn't have to leave the proper path underground, an idea I'm not very keen on, considering how easy it is to lose all sense of direction without the Sun or stars.”
“Birds have a compass in their brains,” Selene spoke up. “At least... I think we have. But I know north is there. Well, there, I mean. Or maybe there...”
They looked at her pointing different directions with her wings, and weren't quite sure how to say what they all thought, but then Lucius said it: “Well, I ain't walking through these tunnels with any part of your brain as a guide, you crazy bird. Let's go with Boreas' idea.”
“But we have a proper compass too,” said Toxica. “Uh, no offence, Selene. Shouldn't we try and find a different exit from these tunnels instead? We might be able to get back on the path we should be taking like that, instead of taking some other path and hoping it takes us where we want.”
“A good idea, darling,” said Octa with an affectionate smile. “Methinks 'tis folly to wander through a mountain range this size without knowing the way. Better to see whether there's another way out of these caves first.”
Forcing his starved body to climb despite the pain and exhaustion he was in, Boreas once again wondered if he had led them all to their deaths. When they had found no quick exit from the caves, he had argued to take the pass north, and his enthusiasm had convinced his friends not to try and find a way through the deep reaches of the Earth, but to track back a few hours and take the pass north. It had seemed a sensible thing to do to Boreas: it led straight in the right direction, wasn't through a maze of caves under the Earth from which there might be no exit at all, and had seemed intriguing to him. He had wanted to explore the path, but he'd got much more than he wished for.
Before they'd encountered the avalanche, they had expected to reach the League by the end of November, but today was the final day of the year. He longingly thought back to the new years' celebrations last year on Route 5, and how his greatest worry at the time had been a little heartbreak and jealousy. Now there was a good chance he'd signed all their death warrants. The path had gone straight north for the first few days, but after that it began to meander wildly in all directions. Boreas was more and more certain in his heart that neither they nor this path would ever leave the Black Mountains with every passing dark day.
This far north in mid-winter, the Sun wasn't even there to comfort them with light. Every day there would be twilight, which would get brighter and brighter until it just gave up and withered away back to nights that were like deep black oceans of time. The moons and the brightly reflective snow meant they could at least see where they were going, though. Their food was as good as gone by now. The month that had been added to their journey as well as Aqua joining them meant they couldn't eat more than the tiny bite required to make them live to the next day. Boreas tried to find food every day as he scouted ahead, but there was so preciously little it only meant a very small addition to their measly diet. Despite his emaciated stomach's roar for hunger, he had only let his friends eat from the prey he caught; he knew they were at the greatest risk of not making it, since his species was at least partially capable of surviving in a landscape like this.
The presence of his friends was both a comfort and a curse. He would probably have given up if it wasn't for them, yet every time he saw how thin and pale Black was, or how Octa and Toxica had both gone yellow without light to photosynthesise, or when he felt Aqua shiver with cold and hunger in his embrace at night he felt horrid. Black returned them to their pokéballs as much as possible, but none of them were used to be in their pokéballs, and it didn't help much in the first place. The thought that their suffering might all be Boreas' fault vexed him, yet he knew better than to dwell on such thoughts endlessly by now. No-one would benefit if he brooded himself into a hopeless depression. He held on to the hope that they might one day see the League before them and feast and rest to all their desire... And then defeat N, if he had made it there, and finally let Team Plasma be defeated. Just getting to the League seemed all that was important now; in his mind the challenges they'd have to face there seemed minor compared to this. It was an incredible longshot, but Boreas held on to the knowledge that it was possible, not the knowledge that it was improbable. Any other course would lead only to him going insane with despair. And who knew? The path was about to turn around the corner of a mountain; perhaps he would see the lights of the League in its dale once he turned it? The thought made him quicken his pace over rock and ice, though his legs all protested, especially the recently-healed one.
What he saw when he turned around the corner was the last thing he expected: a wide flat country. The mountains were just gone, with terrifying suddenness. Under the dark blue twilit sky, he saw a vast snow-covered landscape. Yet there was no sign of any inhabitation; a barren wasteland of snow-covered tundra as far as the eye could see. It was then that he realised the pass had gone past the League, all the way up north until they had finally reached the northern edge of the Black Mountains and the uninhabited tundra beyond it.
Oh, they took the wrong path?
I'm sensing a lot of rage from Boreas. =/
Anyway, a great chapter. I'm really glad he was finally reunited with Aqua.
Can't wait for the next chapter~
^Thanks for the comment.
Chapter Sixty-Three: The End of the Road
Boreas dropped to his knees in despair as he looked out over the endless tundra that lay to Unova's north. They must have gone the wrong way for the past seven weeks, too far east to reach the League. Now that Boreas had reached the end of the Black Mountains, he had reached the end of hope as well. Until then, there had always been the possibility they would reach the League soon, but now it was clear they'd never get there. They should've tried to find a way through the caves, no matter how deep and dark they were, Boreas thought bitterly. Now it was too late; they simply didn't have the food or energy left to journey back for seven weeks, and then on for however much more time it took to reach the League from there. The prospect of such a journey was not only overwhelming; it was impossible.
The dreadful hunger and weariness that had gnawed on his body for weeks finally felled him, as he had fought them only with hope, and now hope had failed. Laying down into the snow in pain, he knew it for certain: he would die here. And he would take his friends with him; having to deal with the cold as well as hunger would probably kill them before him.
He could hear them climb after him, still with some hope left. He hoped they'd savour those final moments of it before they joined him. He felt the dreadful moment as they saw it one by one and realised they were doomed. He heard their laboured breathing suddenly stop for a moment as the horrific realisation came to them. They knew it was over.
Yet something in Octa made him unwilling to give up, even now. “My dear fellow,” he said as Boreas felt him stir his shoulders, “stand up, please. We cannot give up, not now. We have to...”
Boreas turned around, grabbed his friend's shoulders, and looked him in the eyes, teary and desperate. “Octa, there's no point... I'm so sorry for this... It's over. There's nothing we can do but rest...”
Boreas saw the despair in Octa's eyes as well, the struggle not to give in. He felt even worse to think he'd brought Octa here to die than about his own doom. “But... We have to go on... We have to try. We can't let death simply take us, we have to fight it every step of the way. We have to endeavour to reach the League, even if our chances of making it are minimal...”
“You are brave and noble, Octa, and I'm proud to have been your friend... But our chances were minimal; they're non-existent now.”
“We have to try... We can't surrender, we have to continue, even if we can never reach our destination, no matter how bleak the journey... Would the heroes of the great tales ever have surrendered? Did Odysseus give up and find a nice island to live on? Did Frodo give up hope of destroying the Ring?”
Boreas softly hugged his friend. “No, they didn't... But this is no story, but reality... And in reality, not all stories have a good ending, or even a dramatically satisfying one... And I'm afraid ours ends here. We can try to fight it for another week if we really tried hard, perhaps, but that's not nearly enough to get anywhere... So I say it's better to die sooner than later, for die we must...”
It was horrible to see the nobility and the pride and the honour and the bravery all melt away from Octa's face as they were shattered and left only despair and sadness. He said nothing more, lying down to finally rest from the crushingly heavy journey.
Aqua softly stroked his hair, and Boreas felt rotten for leading her here as well. “I wish you hadn't come to find me...” he said.
“I don't,” she spoke sadly. “I'd rather die by your side than live alone... Though I'd hoped the dying by your side wouldn't happen for many more years...”
“I'm sorry I led you here... We should've gone through the caves, there must've been some way deep down them.”
Aqua hugged her crying boyfriend. “It's not your fault. We all agreed to take this road. We don't know if there was any way through the caves, there didn't see to be one... Maybe the only good road was back to Opelucid... But while I'd hoped our relationship would be a long and happy one, I'm willing to settle for short and exciting.”
“...I guess we should stay here tonight...” muttered Black, though it was clear he too knew they would stay there forever.
They were quiet for a while, overcome with exhaustion, starvation, and despair. The final light of twilight disappeared, shrouding the world in night. Though Boreas had given up, he found himself trying to think of ways out of this anyway, imagining several options, from somehow fashioning a hot-air balloon to going down into the tundra and trying to keep as many of them as possible alive until spring. Unfortunately the simplest option of just calling for help was impossible, as Black's X-transceiver hadn't had any connection for months; it was impossible this far from all human inhabitation.
But why was he still trying to think of a way to save them? It was impossible, and trying to would only mean more suffering before their inevitable death. There was no point to wasting his thoughts on this when he should really be thinking about nice things as much as possible, since these were after all his final thoughts. Yet a part of his mind was sure there was something he had overlooked, some solution to this problem. Maybe he had given up to soon after all? The sight of the desolate northern tundra was a despair-inducing one, but perhaps there was some way some of them could make it to the League yet. If only he could find a source of food... But there was no food in this barren landscape.
If he got incredibly lucky, there was a small chance he might be able to catch enough food on the journey to make it to the League himself, perhaps, but he would have to leave his friends forever. Did he even want to live with everyone he had loved dead? He had felt that way once before, but he had been too young to quite understand the full implications of it, and Octa and Black had been there to take care of him and make him feel better. This time, he would have no-one but himself for company for at least two months... No-one but himself, and the blame for their deaths... And still no-one after he reached civilisation, no-one he really knew. It was impossible; even if he found the food and somehow managed to keep sane, the extreme exhaustion that filled his every muscle with weariness and pain made it impossible.
Yet he tried to think of a way in which he could save even one of his friends. If there was even a small chance of rescuing one of them, he would get up and try his best at it, as it'd give him something worth spending what little energy he had on, some hope. He tried several ideas out in his mind, but in none of them could he see any chance of getting even one of his friends to safety, not even if he considered the horrid idea of cannibalising the others for food. The cold simply made two more months even more impossible for them than for Boreas.
“Boreas?” asked a croaky voice. “Why did we give up?”
He wasn't sure how to answer Selene's question. The Honchkrow sounded so innocent and merely curious. “Well... It's because we don't stand a chance of ever getting out of these mountains alive.”
“Why not?” she asked with childlike wonder, and Boreas felt horrible for having led her to her death.
“Because we took the wrong way... Because I led you down the wrong way... I'm so sorry, Selene.”
“Then why don't we try and find the right way again?”
“Because it took seven weeks getting here from Victory Road! Going back there in our state would take even longer, and then we'd still have to find the way to the League... None of us would survive that long.”
Selene nodded. “Then why don't we try to find a different way?”
“Because there is no different way! We're hopelessly lost, we only know we ended up somewhere on the northern edge of the Black Mountains! The League could be anywhere.”
“Even quite nearby?”
“Almost certainly not. The Black Mountains are gigantic, it could be anywhere! We won't find it by just wandering aimlessly, and I was an idiot to think we would.”
“Well, people often think I'm an idiot, but if that's what an idiot does, I'm happy to be one. Because I'm not just going to lie here and wait to die; I'm going to do the crazy thing and look for the League.”
“But... You can't even fly!”
“But I can walk,” she said, as she got up to her feet, wobbled a bit, and took clumsy steps through the snow, making a pained face because of the coldness at every step.
Boreas marvelled at her determination, but also realised what she was trying to do. “Selene, this won't work. You're not going to make it to the League like this, and you're not going to get me to join you either.”
“Fine with me,” she said, walking on, “I wasn't trying to get you to join me anyway. I'll probably see you again once we're all snow pixies, but if I make it to the League, I'll be sure to remember you all. Say bye to Lucius for me, if he wakes up again.”
Seeing her clumsily walk away into the icy night filled Boreas with admiration for her bravery and determination. He knew this was probably exactly what she was aiming at, but he didn't care: he got up, walked after her, and put her on his shoulder. “Come on, you crazy bird, you'll get frostbite if you walk through the snow like that. Say I followed you, did you have any plan or were you just going to wander randomly?”
“Well,” explained Selene, “I was planning to ask the people making those lights for the way.”
“Lights?” Boreas blurted out in surprise. Then he saw it: a distant mountain top in the south west was being illuminated by light of constantly changing colours. It would light up blue now, then red, then green. “What the...” Suddenly it dawned on him, and hope brightly shone into his mind like the Sun driving away the night of despair. “Zapdos' toenails, those are fireworks!” he hugged Selene tightly, causing her to squirm in his sudden grip a bit. “You did it! You found the League!”
He immediately rushed to his friends and tried to wake them up. “Wake up! Wake up, we gave up far too soon! Aqua, wake up! Octa, on your feet... Well, stand u- get up, I mean. Black, Toxica, Lucius, it's not time to die yet! Look, Selene found the League!”
“Huh? What?” murmured Black.
“Look, that mountain is illuminated by fireworks! They're celebrating New Year at the League! It's not that far, we can still make it! Come on, come on!”
They were all acting as if they were dazed and confused, and Boreas quickly realised they were hypothermic from going to sleep without tent or blankets in their despair. “Come on, I've been an idiot letting us give up, and I'm not going to have you die. We know where the League is!”
An intelligent gleam re-entered Octa's dazed eyes as he clumsily got up. “Hmm? My dear felon... Fellow, are you... Sure? That's splendid...”
“Yeah, it is! Come on, get up, all of you. You're suffering from hypothermia because I led you in giving up, but now I'm going to fix that mistake and get you all to the League. Black, get up.”
But he was still lying down, his eyes closed. “Hmmm... Let it wait till morning... I want to sleep...”
“If you sleep now, you'll never wake up again, you'll freeze to death! Get up.”
“I know we still have far to go,” murmured Black, “so let me sleep, we'll make plans tomorrow...”
Boreas bit down on Black's clothes and began pulling him up. “I'm not letting you sleep, so you might as well get up and walk. You'll be warmer that way.”
Octa too forced Black to get up, exclaiming: “On your feet, Black, old chap, 'twas wrong and cowardly of us to despair and give up. I can only imagine what my illustrious ancestors would say to such folly,” he said glumly as they forced Black to cooperate.
“Let me help a hand, guys,” Toxica said as she thrust her flower under Black's nose. He made a sound of disgust at the smell she emitted, and got up quickly.
“Thanks, Toxica,” said Boreas. He realised Octa needed encouragement. “Don't worry, Octa, I'm sure your ancestors would understand. At least the wiser ones would. C'mon,” he said, beckoning the others, “follow me, I think the mountain slopes here on the north-side aren't too steep for us to walk on them if we're cautious. We'll travel west along the north-end of the range, and seek another path south as soon as possible. If we get some luck at last, we may find a way into the dale of the League from the north instead of the south.”
Boreas led them onto the slopes of the mountains, the endless tundra covered in winter's snow and an occasional cloud stretching out to their right. Boreas made sure not to get too far ahead, worried his friends might give up in the bitter cold, and Octa used the opportunity to stay close to him. “I fear you may be wrong, my dear fellow,” he said at last. “My ancestors were great, noble, and valorous. They did not falter or let despair overcome them, no matter how dark the road.”
“Sure they did,” said Boreas. “Only no-one remembers it, because they overcame such moments, found their bravery again, and did the great things you remember them for. And you'll do great things too.”
“How can you be sure of that?” said Octa glumly. “What am I, but a pale shadow of my fathers? Shall I ever do deeds worthy of tales, or shall my heart falter again?”
Boreas had never seen Octa so full of self-doubt. He was always so proud, arrogant even, but now a huge change had come over him. “Octa, you're worth more than any of your ancestors. I know you'll do great, brave things. I don't know whether we can stop Team Plasma, but I'm certain that whether we win or lose, you'll be the envy of all your ancestors.”
“But how? How do you know this?”
Boreas gave him a hug and looked into his eyes. “Because you're my best friend, and I've known you well for almost all my life. I know your bravery and how noble you are. You're a great Serperior, Octa, and if there are any Equinoctes left in the future, I know they'll all be told of the great Octavianus, whether it's of his glorious victory or his brave last stand. But more than that, I know I can always count on you, no matter what.”
“Thank you, my dear fellow,” Octa said, his voice drenched with emotion and a tear in his eye.
Knowing his own determination was all that kept the others going through the incredibly hostile landscape, Boreas silenced his doubt they'd ever find a way. It was very disconcerting to see Octa in so much self-doubt it overcame his usual pride, so Boreas was as strong as he could to help his friend. Every step his exhausted and starved body had to take was agony, but he kept on trying to find a path in the knowledge his friends were feeling even worse, half-frozen as they were, and needed him more than ever.
They travelled on the northern slopes of the mountains for a few dark days. Boreas had to be incredibly careful, as there was no path save the one he made himself. Missteps almost cost him his life twice as he slid down several metres. The days were darker than ever before, as the mountains shielded the southern horizon and its twilight glow at day from them. Soon they ate their very last food. Boreas didn't expect ever to make it to the League, but he had to carry on and try.
On the fifth day, their determination was finally rewarded: there was a large separation between two mountains, only a little above them. Seeing this, they climbed to it, and saw the mountains form a snowed vale leading south. The League or its dale wasn't visible, but Boreas could see what he thought was the same mountain that had been enlightened by fireworks at New Year. They were seeing it from a different direction now, though, so he couldn't be sure, yet they journeyed towards it. They had no choice: they had eaten their last food the day before, so now it was a matter of days at most before they were too weak to continue.
Boreas took courage from the proximity of the mountain and the sky ahead getting brighter every day, but meanwhile his hunger grew and drained him of what strength he had left. By the time he found another valley bending westwards branching off of this one, his body felt incredibly weak. He had no idea hunger could be so powerful, so painful even. Even the thought of food made him drool, and he thought of it a lot. He was quite sure that if he ever found something to eat again, he'd eat until his belly had the size and shape of a cannonball.
One evening, they were huddled around a fire Lucius had made from some wood from the trees that managed to grow here. It wasn't much, but at least it warmed them a little. It was nice even to Boreas, because while his body could still function properly when its temperature was below zero, as it was now, it was quite unpleasant for long periods of time. Yet warming himself up would cost energy he simply didn't have.
In the past they'd often had their meal around such a fire, but that was of course impossible with no food left. They didn't speak, too busy sharing what little heat they had. Black finally asked them: “Wh-what are you going to do if we defeat Team Plasma?”
The question was quite a shock to Boreas, as he had completely forgotten that if by some miracle everything went according to plan, it wouldn't be very long until they came to journey's end. He hadn't really thought much about what he wanted to do afterwards; the quest seemed so daunting and huge it didn't seem likely he would ever get to fulfil any plans he made.
“I'm staying with you, of course,” said Lucius. “I didn't come this far to go do other stuff. When we beat the Champion, and those Plasma bastards are dead and burned, I'm going to enjoy being the Champion's pokémon and defend that title. Think of all the power and fame we'd have...”
Boreas considered the same. While it would mean being with his friends all the time, as well as being the most renowned Glaceon in the world, it also seemed rather boring. Just being in the League for most of the year, waiting for challengers... He didn't think he wanted to sit still for so long when there was so much he hadn't seen yet.
Toxica nodded. “Me too, but Octa and I have more important things to work out first. We gotta visit his family to get 'em sorted out once and for all.”
“Indeed, my darling,” spoke Octa, “for they still do not approve of our union, though they tolerate it for now, recognising there are more pressing issues. After all this is over, however, we shall have to return to my ancestral home to discuss the matter. And if they do not accept Toxica as one of our own...” he took a slow, worried gulp, “I shall have to leave them, for I would not leave Toxica even for them.”
“Thanks,” said Toxica with tears in her eyes, and she softly kissed him. “I know how much they mean to you...”
“Not as much as you do, my darling,” said Octa with a smile. Boreas petted his friend on the back, realising the tremendous and brave sacrifice he had just promised to make.
It was quiet for a while. “I don't know,” said Selene. “Maybe I'll go look for Uncle Istvan... But then, I heard about these three fairies, they might be fun to meet...”
“If you're not sure what you're gonna do,” Lucius offered, “maybe you should just stay with us? It'd be more fun to keep us all together, even you, and it'd be easier to defend the Champion title that way.”
Selene nodded and winked. “Well, sure, if you want me to stay with you that much, I will.”
“I don't want you to stay at all!” Lucius snapped angrily, clearly to Selene's humour, “you good for nothing birdbrain, why would I ever want you to stay with me?”
“I don't know,” Selene teased, “but you clearly would love me to stay with you.”
“I don't!” snapped Lucius. “Boreas, what are you going to do when we finish this?”
Boreas was given some time to think by Toxica sarcastically exclaiming: “Look over there, a change of subject! Lucius and Selene sitting in a tree...” and a brief quarrel ensuing, but then he had to answer.
“Well...” he said, still unsure. “I'm not sure either... Staying with you would be fun, but somehow it seems a bit boring to me. I want to see new places; I don't want to sleep twice on the same ground. I want...” a thought occurred to him. “I want to take you up on your offer, Aqua!”
“Huh?” she exclaimed in surprise.
“I beg your pardon?” exclaimed Octa.
The more he thought about it, the more he liked it. “Remember, Aqua, you offered it to me several times: for us to leave together and go wherever we please?” he grabbed her paw. “Well, I've decided on my answer, if you still want to do that: yes, I would love to go with you to unknown places. If we somehow defeat Team Plasma and are both able to tell the tale, I'd be delighted to see the world together.”
Aqua smiled happily. “That's great! And I'd still love to travel with you, my love.”
Boreas happily imagined their future together, but then his train of thoughts was derailed.
“But my dear fellow,” Octa interjected, “that would mean we would have to part. Quite possibly forever...”
Boreas realised with a stab of sadness that it was true, that it would mean leaving Octa, as well as his other friends, behind. But even so, he knew he was going to leave if they ever defeated Team Plasma. “I know...” he said sadly. “I'm sorry, Octa, I really am. But a Champion's pokémon's life just isn't for me. I don't want the journey to end, as there are so many places yet I've never been to. Hoenn, for example, or Johto. I've even heard about whole continents inhabited only by pokémon, which humans never found. If they exist, I'd love to find them.”
“That is only a myth, my dear fellow. But do you really want to leave me behind?”
“No, I don't. In fact, as far as I'm concerned, you are all welcome to join us.”
Octa sadly shook his head. “My apologies, my dear fellow, but I shan't. An adventurer's life, journeying for the sake of journeying, unfortunately is not for me. I shall remain Black's pokémon, helping him defeat challengers. But more importantly, we shall combat threats against Unova and its people, as is the Champion's duty. Plenty of honour, greater even than the Championship, can be achieved there. And if my house does not expel me for my union with Toxica, I shall continue to serve them. First my noble father, and then my brother Gaius who has been named his successor. But I would prefer to do all this with you at my side... Are you quite certain you wish to leave?”
Boreas sadly squeezed Octa's arm. Though he had expected such an answer, he still wished it was different. “I'm sorry, but I really am... But it won't be a permanent farewell, I wouldn't want to miss my best friend forever. I'll come back often...”
Octa nodded. “I know. Yet it would be a long time between our meetings. And there is a chance you would come to an early grave in some far land, and the news of it would never reach me...”
Boreas hugged his friend tightly. “I'm so sorry... But it's just the way I am. You know I wouldn't enjoy the future you want... But there's no need to say goodbye yet, or already be sad about the future; after all, there's a good chance we'll never-” he was about to say “-get out of these mountains alive,” but thought better of it: “-manage to defeat Team Plasma.”
“I know.” Octa nodded. “But now I know that even if we are victorious, and all we hope comes true, I shall still have to suffer this loss.”
Toxica nodded. “We'll miss you, Boreas.”
The valley slowly turned south, and suddenly, as he turned about a mountain, he saw a sight so lovely he forgot everything else: green grass deep down below in the vale. The Pokémon League stood here, in a valley protected from the elements by tall mountains all around, and heated and lighted by human ingenuity. He cried out in joy, and at that moment an intense light shone into his eye as a small sliver of the Sun rose above the far southern horizon, easily brighter than anything he'd seen in ages. The light seemed to shine through him, illuminating both his heart and his mind brightly.
“The Sun...” gasped Toxica as the others caught up to Boreas.
It was silent again for a while, until Lucius said: “More importantly, the League!” he gave Boreas a friendly stomp. “Haha, you did it, pup! I guess you're good for something!”
“Good old Lucius,” chuckled Selene, “still unable to pat someone on the back without kicking them in the loins at the same time.”
“Shut up, you crazy bird,” said Lucius happily. “C'mon, let's get down there!”
Oh my. You seriously made me lost hope that they'll never ever get out of there.
It was a REALLY good thing Selene spotted those fireworks. xD
And Lucius x Selene? *gasp*
When did this happen!?
All of Black's PKMN have a pair! xD
Sad that Boreas will leave them after all the chaos, but that's not to worry for now.
I just hope there's something to eat around the League. =/
Awaiting for the next chapter~ :D