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Old December 30th, 2012 (11:57 AM).
apenpaap apenpaap is offline
    Join Date: Oct 2011
    Gender: Male
    Posts: 79
    Chapter Seventy: Black and White
    “Black, we meet again!” N shouted theatrically. “At last this prophesied day has come! What I desire is a world for pokémon, and pokémon alone. I will separate pokémon and humans, so pokémon can regain their original power!”
    The throneroom was huge and lavishly decorated. A long red carpet led in a straight path from the door to N's throne on the other side of the room, up on a series of steps. The throne was large, golden, and decorated with the shapes of various pokémon. To each side of the red carpet were two bodies of water like small indoor lakes. The roof was held up by series of huge columns at the sides of the room, and behind them were impressive statues of pokémon. Four pokémon stood before N's throne: Klinklang, Carracosta, Archeops, and Vanilluxe. There was no sign of any other human or pokémon. Other than the main door they had entered through, there were several other doors in the half of the room where N's throne was.
    Aqua spoke up. “N, it's time to stop this charade!”
    N stood up from his throne, surprised. “Aqua? So you really survived what those trainers did to you? Boreas told me, but I could barely believe it; this is great!”
    “The only one who did anything to me that day was your friend Diego. He was the one who broke my back and tried to kill me, but I survived it thanks to human medicine. He and the Sages have been lying to you all along.”
    “How can you say something like that?!” exclaimed N.
    “It's simple, I'm afraid:” said Diego, emerging from behind N's throne. “She was captured and nearly killed in the battle by the trainers despite my efforts to stop them. They have brainwashed her, like they do to all pokémon, until she truly believed their lies. We should pity her, and try to help her. She truly believes her lies.”
    “Shut your lying trap!” shouted Boreas furiously as they walked forward. “You know all too well what you did, and so do we!”
    N and his pokémon walked forward as well. “As you can see,” lied Diego, “poor Boreas has also been brainwashed by our enemies. It's tragic.”
    “You're right, Diego,” said N. “But we can save them, right?”
    “Of course,” said Diego. “Once you free all pokémon, they will know the truth again.”
    “I'm sorry, Aqua,” said N. “I shouldn't have sent you into battle... But I know you would be proud of me if you hadn't been brainwashed. I have brought freedom to so many pokémon already, and my victory here today will finalise that, and liberate all remaining pokémon.”
    “N, have you ever looked at your new kingdom?” asked Aqua. “You can believe I'm brainwashed all you like, but the evidence is out there: just look at what Team Plasma has done to Unova! Pokémon should be free, but under Team Plasma they're no more free than under their trainers, but their taskmasters are cruel tyrants instead. Instead of giving pokémon their freedom, Plasma has taken away that of the humans! You're a good person, I know this isn't what you wanted. I've come to realise the true enemy isn't trainers, but the Seven Sages. It's not too late for you to join us; and after we defeat them we can truly liberate pokémon: but not just forcibly remove them from their trainers, but give them the choice whether they want to be wild or befriend a human!”
    “That's not true!”
    “You've been lied to all your life, N!”
    “No,” said N. “It's you who has been lied to. But once you're free again, you'll realise I'm right. For now, I don't want to hear any more of this; it's spoiling this moment.”
    “Well said, N,” said Diego. The two sides now stood in the middle of the room, between the bodies of water, only a few metres between them.
    “N, she's right,” said Black. “But I can see you don't want to hear it. Maybe you will see reason if I beat you.”
    “You're right!” said N. “It's time to settle this once and for all! My determination is absolute, and I will prove my beliefs. Since you've come this far, I know you are equally determined! Let Reshiram and Zekrom battle to decide whether truth or ideals are more powerful!”
    “No,” said Black. “Reshiram won't fight, because it hasn't responded to me yet. But that's okay: I only need my pokémon, my friends, to beat you. I'll battle you with them.”
    N made a face. “How disappointing. I actually kind of liked you a little. Through our many battles I got the feeling you might be a trainer who truly cares for your pokémon, like me. But I was kidding myself.”
    Black chortled. “So because I choose to trust my own pokémon in battle instead of relying on the power of some legendary I never met before I'm demonstrating I don't care for my pokémon? Your logic is twisted up worse than the Gordian knot.”
    N ignored him. “You have two options. Challenge me to a fight you can't win or leave this place and let me finish my new world where pokémon are free!”
    “Do you ever shut up and listen to someone else?!” snapped Black. “I'm fighting you, and I'll win. Because my pokémon are my friends.”
    A fierce white light emanated from Black's pocket. Startled, he retrieved the Light Stone from it: it was ablaze with light, shining like the Sun. It levitated out of his hand and grew enormously. As it grew, it slowly changed shape to the form of a dragon. Reshiram roared and the entire tower shook on its foundations. Boreas felt a powerful, fiery conviction they were fighting for the truth fill him with pride. They couldn't lose: the truth never did.
    “YOU FIGHT FOR THE TRUTH,” thundered Reshiram's voice like a raging inferno. “I AM THE TRUTH. YOU SHALL FIGHT WITH ME, HERO, LIKE WE DID LONG AGO.”
    All stood in awe, and Black threw a pokéball, making Reshiram disappear into it. It felt oddly undignified to Boreas, capturing a legendary pokémon like it was a Pidgey. Black carefully picked up the pokéball.
    “...Maybe I was right about you after all,” spoke N. “Reshiram who lends its power to the hero who searches for truth has recognised you. It is finally as it should be. We shall finally battle, but the rules are that you can't have seven pokémon for an official battle like this. So we'll begin once you send one of your pokémon away to bring you back to six.”
    Black looked at Reshiram's pokéball, trying to decide who to send back to the pokécenter. After a moment, he looked at Octa. Then he looked at Boreas, and Boreas realised what he was going to do. He nodded in agreement, though he wasn't entirely sure it was such a great idea. Black looked at his other pokémon one by one. Finally, he pressed a few buttons on Reshiram's pokéball and it disappeared.
    “You... You made a mistake,” stammered N. “Reshiram was in that pokéball, you must've meant to send one of your other pokémon away instead.”
    “No,” said Black. “I told you: I don't need Reshiram; I trust my pokémon.”
    “But-but this isn't how it's supposed to be!” whined N. “Reshiram and Zekrom are supposed to battle! We're like the heroes of legends, you have to get it back!”
    “I don't care how it's 'supposed' to be. My pokémon are my friends; if I loved power so much I'd rely on some legendary's power over any of them, I wouldn't deserve them in the first place. I'm sure these legendary pokémon are very powerful, but they're nothing else. Truly skilled trainers should try to win with the pokémon they love best, not with those acclaimed as powerful. I wouldn't be much of a defender of the friendships between humans and pokémon anyway if I forsook my own like that.”
    N was speechless. Boreas felt proud and happy by his trainer's trust, yet also a little worried about Zekrom.
    “If that's the way he wants it,” said Diego, “then why should that bother us, N? Zekrom will sweep him before you.”
    “But...” stammered N. “What if he loses, but would've won if he had used Reshiram... How can I know the truth after this battle?”
    “You already know the truth. We are right. You would win this anyway, so battle him!”
    “You're right, Diego. It's time to create the future I desire!”
    “Boreas,” said Black. “I know this will be hard. But you can do this.”
    Boreas stepped forward, a lot less happy about Black sending Reshiram away now that he stood a good chance of meeting up with a teravolt of electricity soon. “Zek-”
    “I've got an idea:” said Diego. “Why don't you save Zekrom for last? Give them a chance to at least save some face by battling the rest of your team before Zekrom obliterates them.”
    “Good idea. I suppose they've deserved that respect from us.”
    “You, Klinklang,” ordered Diego. “Grind him.”
    Boreas felt relieved not to have to fight Zekrom, but wondered what Diego's game was. Did he think Boreas stood a chance at beating Zekrom, and therefore want to have him battle other teammembers instead? Or maybe he wanted to beat Boreas himself, but have this Klinklang weaken him first to ensure victory?
    Well, if that was his plan, Boreas wasn't going to let it happen. Klinklang rolled towards him rapidly on its largest gear, clearly planning to roll over him. Boreas simply walked onto the water, forming ice under his feet to stand on, then grinned smugly at Diego. His metal foe shot a beam of electricity at him, but he parried it quite easily.
    Boreas quickly formed a raging blizzard around his opponent. It could either get into the water to attack him, or allow him to slowly penetrate its metal with his cold. It fired metal spikes at Boreas, but he simply waved his paw and let a powerful gust blow them away. Another beam of electricity was parried by a pulse of cold before the Klinklang realised it could never beat him at a distance and rolled into the water, its metal body covered in a white layer of frost by now.
    “Gotcha!” laughed Boreas, freezing the water under him entirely once Klinklang was in. It took a lot of energy, but now the metal creature was frozen in. Boreas could see and hear it still slowly grind its way through the ice, but he just moved away from it. He could afford to wait: he wasn't the one encased in ice.
    Boreas smirked at N and Diego. “So now what?” he asked, expecting Diego to battle him personally now.
    “Oh no...” muttered N. “I'll have to retreat it...”
    “I'm afraid so,” said Diego, “looks like they- Archeops, Rock Slide right now!”
    Boreas had mere moments before the rain of heavy boulders from the sky struck. He managed to protect his head, but got badly battered, his limbs aching and feeling bruised. And Archeops was already diving for him, its claws and jaws extended. Boreas crawled out from under the rocks and tried to stop his enemy, only to receive a deep slash from its claws that knocked him down. Boreas could barely focus with pain as his opponent turned around for another pass at him.
    He lashed out with an Ice Beam and hit Archeops' wing more by luck than skill. Archeops instantly turned, keeping away from him in fear. It kept at a distance cautiously, scared of him. This allowed Boreas to regain his composure, letting him dodge Archeops' next few rock attacks from a distance as he created a snowstorm in the tower. Archeops soon had trouble flying, preventing it from attacking at all while he weakened it with the cold.
    Boreas was about to end the fight with an Ice Beam, but Archeops still had some fight in it: it suddenly lunged for him, unconcerned with its own health, and caught him in a wave of boulders. He easily hit it with an Ice Beam, but couldn't dodge the boulders. His hip was hit very hard, so it was hard for him even to stand up again.
    Boreas was sure Diego would come battle him personally now that he had been weakened so much, but instead the Zoroark ordered Carracosta to battle him. Boreas had trouble thinking of a reason why Diego would have the turtle fight him, until he had an odd thought: maybe Diego wanted to spare him from fighting Zekrom? Maybe the Zoroark was actually trying to save his life like he had done on Victory Road?
    It was a strange idea, because Diego had never before shown any kind of compassion or remorse towards him. Could it be that the time Diego had spent impersonating Zeph - which paradoxically made Boreas both hate him more than ever and feel kinship to him – had affected Diego as well? Was it possible Diego still thought of him as his brother in an odd way?
    Boreas was snapped out of his thoughts by a roaring wave rushing towards him with a sturdy turtle riding it. He instinctively extended his front paws and unleashed a powerful blast of cold to freeze it. He managed to do so and prevented the worst of the wave from hitting him, but he felt horribly drained and exhausted by it. Carracosta swum around the frozen wave and formed a powerful whirlpool around Boreas. He made an attempt to freeze the whirlpool too, but found himself on the edge of blacking out with exhaustion at the mere try. He swam weakly against the current, but even after all the time since meeting Aqua, he wasn't much of a swimmer.
    He had one final idea and let himself go limp, trusting the air in his lungs to keep him afloat. His enemy should've just used the whirlpool to beat him then, but he was lucky as it made a mistake: it swam for him to use its claws instead.
    Boreas suppressed a grin, waited for it to come close, and when it did he put a paw to its face, unleashed a pulse of cold to daze it, climbed onto its back, and froze himself to its wet shell. He nearly blacked out once more from the energy required, but this time he was firmly stuck to his opponent's shell and couldn't fall off. Carracosta clumsily tried to reach him with its sharp claws, but didn't even come close. Then it began wiggling to shake him off without much effect. Boreas had by now recovered enough that he could start sending pulses of cold through its shield into its body to slowly freeze it.
    “Just dive!” snapped Diego. “Dive and drown him!”
    Boreas took a lungful of air as he was forcibly submerged. Eventually Carracosta would have to resurface, of course, but words he and Aqua had spoken nearly a year ago echoed through Boreas' head: “I can hold my breath for five hours, you know.”
    I can hold my breath for five minutes. I hope.”
    Since he had far less time than the turtle, Boreas gave it his all, sending pulse after pulse through Carracosta's shield until it finally stopped swimming and just floated limply in the water. Unfortunately Boreas' paws were still frozen to its shield. With no paw free to swim, he tried to stretch his neck far enough to reach the surface, but it was futile. Brilliant plan, really, freezing myself to a living rock while underwater...
    Fortunately with Carracosta unconscious, the water flowed back into its ponds, eventually leaving Boreas coughing and wheezing on dry land. He finally managed to tear his paws loose.
    “Woohoo!” cheered Aqua. “You beat half his team! “
    Boreas wanted to say something back, but he could only cough up more water and gasp for air.
    “N,” said Diego, “remember when I advised you to keep some pokémon with you and train them instead of relying on wild pokémon temporarily joining us?”
    “Yeah, I do, but that would make me just as bad as our enemies, enslaving those poor pokémon.”
    “You've never had trouble with having me with you,” muttered Diego.
    “Well, you're different.”
    “Of course I am.”
    “Enough talk,” coughed Boreas, managing to stand on all four legs. “Come fight me!”
    Diego threw him a sneer. “Vanilluxe, finish this.”
    N asked Diego: “Don't you want to-”
    As the Vanilluxe hopped forward it made a rapid snowstorm around the both of them, quickly freezing the puddles that had formed in the throneroom. Boreas chuckled: his opponent's failure to realise this could just as easily be used against it might just be his salvation.
    “You think you'll be able to beat me at this just because I'm wounded, battered, and half-drowned,” stated Boreas.
    Vanilluxe shot a powerful ball of icy energy out of its forehead; Boreas got the snow to fall in such a way it masked his movements; a very handy trick Froslass had taught him. The beam missed him as he dodged it. His opponent fired a few more attacks on the general region, but Boreas had already sneaked away and was now behind it. He pounced the icecream from behind, slamming its head against the ground hard and sending several pulses of cold through it. “Well, you thought wrong!” he laughed.
    He was thrown off Vanilluxe by a powerful pulse that nearly blacked him out, but made sure to quickly use his Snow Cloak to hide from Vanilluxe again. Though he was pretty sure he'd hurt it more than it had hurt him there, he was so weak he couldn't afford even a small bit of damage any more. As he dodged his enemy's attacks, he instead counterattacked from a distance, firing Ice Beams and directing the storm against his opponent. It was clear these pokémon were poorly trained: all Vanilluxe would need to do to beat him was let the storm dissipate, robbing Boreas of his cover. Yet it didn't do so, and with its attacks all missing while Boreas could hit it it weakened soon, and Boreas defeated it too.
    Boreas felt proud for defeating two-thirds of the enemy team by himself, but knew these were just a warm-up. Diego and Zekrom would be the true challenge. He was too weak to keep the storm going on his own; it quickly dissipated.
    “If you want something done properly, you've got to do it yourself!” snarled Diego as he walked towards Boreas, his front paws enveloped in darkness. Boreas wondered if he should kill Diego if he won. In a sense, this was an official League battle, but then again, in a sense it wasn't. He had sworn to kill Diego, yet part of him didn't want to. Of course, it was unlikely he could beat Diego anyway.
    “Then why didn't you?” Boreas challenged his nemesis. “Why did you hide behind those four? Are you afraid to face me when I'm not half-dead?”
    Diego fired a beam of utter darkness from his paws. Boreas quickly moved his own paw to parry, but it was so powerful he only managed to weaken it. Sharp pain and nausea overwhelmed him as the beam of darkness hit him and he drifted off into darkness.

    He woke up moments later with severe pain in his neck and squirmed against an iron grip lifting him up by it. “Afraid?” said two malicious purple eyes. “Why would I ever be afraid of you?” he tightened his grip, making Boreas gasp for breath. “You are nothing, you are weak! You are no more than an arrogant, pesky flee. I could snap your neck right now and end your pathetic life. I've grown far more powerful since our last meeting.”
    “Yet,” Boreas gasped. “You still – haven't learned – to protect your – vulnerable spots.” He gave Diego a kick in the loins as hard as he could. The Zoroark howled in pain and threw him away, and as Boreas landed painfully hard he shot two Ice Beams at Diego; all he could still manage. He dragged himself away to seek cover behind a statue as Diego got up.
    “You just don't give up, do you?” He breathed a wave of fire, and Boreas' way was suddenly barred by the searing flames. He winced back from the heat and faced the Zoroark once more.
    “Never,” he growled as he shot another Ice Beam. A wave of Diego's paw, and darkness swallowed the attack.
    A beam of lighting shot out of both Diego's paws. Boreas was exhausted and unable to do anything, except howl in pain as the electricity shocked him. He convulsed as it kept electrocuting him, until it finally ended. Diego approached him and put his foot on his head. Boreas was too far weakened to do anything. So, this is how it ends...
    Then, for one moment, he had eye contact with Diego. His purple eyes didn't look like those of a merciless killer now, but Boreas almost recognised his brother in them. It was probably just the shocks playing tricks with his eyes, but he thought he saw regret in those eyes.
    Diego took his foot off Boreas' head. “He's defeated. Send your next pokémon.”
    Boreas reached out for Diego's leg and dug his teeth into it. He received a sharp kick in response, finally blacking him out.

    Boreas regained consciousness. His body ached badly, but it was quickly getting better due to the potion Black had given him. The first thing he saw was unfortunately Black giving another potion to an unconscious, and partially burned, Octa. Boreas was startled Diego was powerful enough to beat his best friend, who was the most powerful member of the team.
    Boreas thought about their battle. He was annoyed he'd lost to Diego yet again, but also intrigued. Diego could've killed him, yet he chose not to. It could just be because an execution wouldn't exactly be looked on kindly by the League, but he and N were planning to abolish the League anyway, and there were no cameras here. Boreas thought he'd seen compassion in Diego's eyes, possibly even regret. Maybe he had really been mistaken when he swore to kill Diego. He would certainly never turn his back to the Zoroark or consider him a friend, but giving him the benefit of doubt by no longer planning to kill him seemed reasonable. Because once he killed Diego, there was no longer any way to change his mind.

    “Good job,” said N as Aqua finally defeated Diego. “You have fought very well, and are clearly powerful. But now, you will lose. Zekrom, show them the power of my ideals once and for all!”
    Aqua had enjoyed finally fighting Diego again. She had once considered him a friend, and he had tried to kill her. That was unforgivable, just like all he had done to Boreas. He had tried to talk to her during the battle, but she had made it clear she had nothing to say to him by ignoring everything he said and wordlessly fighting him. It felt really good to finally beat him. And now she considered executing the unconscious Zekrom with a wave of boiling water when Zekrom appeared.
    The black dragon's appearance filled Aqua with utter fury as old wounds were suddenly reopened. The pain when her grandmother had been killed by humans set her heart ablaze, and Lothario's lifeless body filled her mind. The weight of every single day she had been alone pressed on her mind, and Aqua was furious at the memory of every city she had seen: disgusting, filthy places where nature had been massacred and pokémon captured to make way for the cancer that was humanity. It had been a long time since she's felt like this, known she wouldn't rest until every human being was dead.
    Aqua turned around, ablaze with hate, to join Zekrom and kill the horrible bald ape who was so arrogant he thought she was his to command. He was saying something in his annoying human voice, and she spit a powerful ray of water at his face, flooring him. She ran for him, planning to finish it. Other pokémon - misguided slaves of the human - said things she didn't listen to. They would thank her once she'd freed them from the human and tasted its blood.
    Suddenly Boreas was in front of her. He had her attention even in her murderous rage. “Aqua!” he said. “My love, think! Remember why you joined us, remember what Plasma did! Black isn't your enemy: Team Plasma is!”
    Aqua stopped as she recalled seeing a trainer and her pokémon murdered before her very eyes. It brought her no joy even now. She realised Zekrom's power had turned her against Black; it had twisted her ideals and strengthened them so badly she had switched sides. She quivered with horror at the treason she had almost committed, how easy she had been to turn to the side of evil. None of her friends had done anything like that; they had been strong enough to resist Zekrom, but Aqua hadn't. “Oh- oh no... I-I'm so sorry...”
    Boreas firmly kissed her, bringing a moment of happiness to her. “He'll be alright, don't worry. I'm just happy you're well again.” Aqua began to protest, to tell him she was far from well, but he looked her in the eyes and said: “I know this is hard, my love, but you can do it.”
    As she looked into his lovely cyan eyes while he spoke, she was filled with a new certainty that she could do it indeed. “You're right.”
    That certainty coalesced into a single ice-cold point on her forehead as she turned around again and fired an Ice Beam at the legendary dragon. It probably wasn't nearly as powerful as one of Boreas', but it was enough to make Zekrom roar in pain. Aqua took control of the ponds of water and crushed the black dragon between two powerful waves.
    “You'll pay for that! You made me betray my friends!”she shouted furiously as she tried to drown Zekrom in a whirlpool.
    A terrific shock made her convulse in agony, set her fur on edge and made the water on her skin boil. “THAT IS IDEAL.”
    “No, it bloody isn't!” she shouted as she fired Ice Beams at its head while making the water it was submerged in boil.
    Zekrom struggled to escape and shocked her again. “IMPERFECT.”
    Aqua's body was smoking from the electrocutions by now, yet she kept attacking. “Yeah, I am! If I've shown any trait in my life well, it's imperfection!”
    Zekrom's head emerged from the water, and Aqua aimed another Ice Beam for it, hurting Zekrom again. The terrible shock she received in return made her jump, every muscle in her body cramp, her fur stand up in spikes, smoking, and brought her near unconsciousness. Her legs twitching, she lay on the ground powerless as the water flowed away from Zekrom. Her eyes showed random and painful flashes of colour and she struggled against the heavy sleepiness that tried to pull her under.
    “IT IS DEFEATED,” stated Zekrom.
    With her last strength, Aqua managed one last Ice Beam to her legendary opponent. “Sink into the depths,” she spat defiantly before one last sharp pain turned everything black.

    “Stop fooling yourself, pup! She finally showed her true colours!” snapped Lucius.
    “Are you mad?!” argued Boreas. “Didn't you see how she fought to the end?”
    “After she attacked Black! We all felt Zekrom's power, but none of us did that!”
    “So she's-” Boreas began.
    “Gentlemen!” interrupted Octa. “Cease your arguing, this doesn't help! Lucius, Black ordered you to fight, now go and do so!”
    “Fine,” grumbled Lucius. “I'll deal with the traitorous ***** later.”
    Boreas ignored Lucius as he began to fight Zekrom, focussing instead on helping Black – who fortunately wasn't hurt too much by Aqua's attack - nurse his unconscious girlfriend to health. “I do not like to agree with Lucius,” said Octa softly, “but you have to concede he has a good point. None of us even came close to attacking Black, yet she did...”
    Boreas forced himself to remain calm. “She was just overwhelmed by Zekrom's power, that's all... When I looked into her eyes, I saw only mad anger, nothing deliberate.”
    “My dear fellow, the extent of her anger shows it wasn't created solely by Zekrom. She clearly harboured ill feelings towards Black anyway; a clear indication she is his, and therefore our, enemy.”
    “Look, it's just some repressed feelings against all humanity for what they did to her.”
    “And what is that?” asked Octa.
    Boreas remembered when Aqua had broken down in his embrace long ago in her burrow by the river and told him all about the human hunters who had killed her previous boyfriend. He was also certain she wouldn't want him to tell that to Octa; he was likely the only person that knew about it. “I can't tell you.”
    “Well, then it can't be of much importance.”
    “Leave it, Octa,” said Toxica. “She's got a good reason to be angry, but you can trust her.”
    Octa sniffed. “Were that I could believe you.” However, he turned his attention to the battle.
    “Thanks,” said Boreas.
    Toxica nodded. “She told me a bit about her past. Not much, but enough to guess more. I hate to see those two bein' such tossbags to her... Oh, bugger.” Lucius had been enveloped by a huge spherical ball of lightning after only getting off a few bites into his enemy. “I guess it's my turn, innit?”
    “Good luck...” mumbled Aqua.
    Boreas pet her face a little. “How are you feeling, love?”
    “Like I've just committed treason and was then electrocuted...”
    “It wasn't your fault, my love. It was Zekrom's power. It took your anger and gave you no choice-”
    “But I did have a choice! I could've resisted it, but it seems betraying is just what I do... I shouldn't have joined your team, I'll only end up letting you down and hurting you...”
    “No, Aqua,” said Boreas, his face closer to her, “you won't. You're far braver and more loyal than you think.”
    Aqua gave him a disbelieving little smile.
    “No, really, just wait and see. When it comes down to it, you're a far better person than you think. You fought Zekrom to the end. I believe in you, and so does Toxica.”
    Aqua averted her gaze and got up, looking at the battle. “Toxica seems to be doing well...”
    Boreas nodded, allowing her to change the subject. Toxica was indeed doing well. She had been shocked several times, yet was still fighting, her plant tissues making her more resistant to electrocution. Zekrom was poisoned by a large cloud of toxic powder, getting weaker by the second. Massive bolts of electricity and energy were exchanged between Zekrom and Toxica. Though Toxica was more resistant to electricity than most, the shocks were powerful enough to weaken her quickly. She fired Solarbeam after Solarbeam at her poisoned opponent, but it just kept on shocking her, demonstrating its incredible power. Eventually Toxica stopped getting up after a shock, defeated.
    “It's up to you, Selene.” commanded Black, biting his nails nervously.
    Boreas groaned. With Selene's type disadvantage, it was unlikely she could withstand even a single attack. Fortunately she flew right for Zekrom quickly, swooping around it so fast its first attacks missed. It tried to hit her as she spun rapidly around it, raining lightning bolts around randomly. Then Selene flew close to its tail, and it almost seemed like a powerful lightning bolt would fry her, but she made a sudden turn and with dark energy slightly bent the bolt's trail so it hit Zekrom's own tail.
    Zekrom roared in anger and tried to physically punch Selene out of the air, but her movement was so quick it looked like she teleported away and Zekrom tripped clumsily. It got up, clearly weakened by the poison inside it, and spat thunderbolt after thunderbolt after Selene, who was moving quicker than Boreas had ever seen her do, seeming to be in multiple places at once, and never the same as Zekrom's attacks. Zekrom turned around and around to try and get her, but she was too swift, and Zekrom got clumsier each time, frequently hurting itself while the poison took its toll.
    At last, Zekrom's tail flickered and it staggered weakly. “IMPERFECT.”
    “Tell me about it,” said Selene before swooping down and slashing at Zekrom with wing and claw. Slowly the legendary creature toppled and fell with a titanic thud.
    The flapping of Selene's wings as she landed in front of her team was the only sound in the tower. She looked at them for a moment before she was rushed by Toxica, picked up, and held in her arms. “You did it! You did it! You beat that thing, I can't believe it!”
    Lucius laughed. “That thing was stupid enough to be beaten by you, huh, birdbrain? Whatever, you did really well.”
    They were all congratulating Selene for a while and only after that was over realised N had been standing still and wordless like a statue. Silence fell until at last he spoke:
    “Everything's ruined...” he said in an empty voice. “The dreams I had... My ideals... They were false after all...”
    “No, N!” interrupted Diego, recovered from his wounds in battle. “You can't say that, you know it's not true!”
    “But it is!” said N desperately. “They defeated Zekrom, even without using Reshiram...”
    “Well, that doesn't mean we're wrong, it just shows they're stronger!”
    “...But you've always told me the winner of this battle was right. I was wrong, that's all there is to it... I guess it was wrong to liberate the pokémon...”
    “You can't reject Team Plasma!”
    “But we're wrong, this battle clearly shows it... Black, you won. That means you were right and I was wrong... Pokémon should belong to humans, I suppose...”
    Black sighed. “N, have you ever considered we could both be right?”
    N looked at Black like he'd asked him kindly to saw his legs off. “Of course not, that's preposterous.”
    “The world is a place with many colours; you should embrace its diversity, not paint it black and white. You were right that many humans treat pokémon as their property, or worse; and that's a bad thing. But forcibly liberating all pokémon to separate them entirely from humans is bad too.”
    N thought for a long time. “Well... Maybe... when I grew up, I only met pokémon that didn't like humans... But when I began my journey, I began meeting pokémon that liked humans, including yours. I couldn't understand it, even if Diego tried to help me understand it as he told me they were brainwashed... But now I see: you, my friend, were just as mistaken as I was! Some pokémon really do like humans, and so we should allow them to choose whether they want to be with humans or not instead of liberating them all. Thank you, Black.”
    “You're welcome.”
    “Well,” said N. “We'll need to change things. I may no longer be Champion, but I am still Team Plasma's king. And I see now that it's time for peace. This war was terribly misguided, and the remaining trainers should be allowed to keep their pokémon, and others too; though we should make sure pokémon never again suffer at human hands. And we'll begin making peace right here. Diego.”
    “Yes?!” Diego startled, having looked lost in thought during N's speech.
    “This enmity between you and Boreas ends now. We're all friends now, so I want you to shake his paw and forgive him.”
    “Good idea,” said Black. “Boreas, I know he's hurt you in the past, but you have to forgive and forget now. Shake his paw.”
    “But-” started Boreas.
    “There's no way-” began Diego.
    “I can't possibly-”
    “Are you insane?”
    “He tried to kill Aqua!”
    “I'm not shaking his paw!”
    “I won't forgive!”
    “You can't make us-”
    “Please, Diego!” pleaded N. “It's over now. Do it for the peace we'll build.”
    “Come on, Boreas,” said Black. “N and I made up, now you have to do the same. This is our chance to end this war.”
    Boreas and Diego stared into each other's face. Boreas still hated him. He was no longer planning to kill the Zoroark, but he had no intention to forgive either. “Fine!” snapped Diego, taking steps forward, his paw extended.
    Now Boreas didn't feel he could refuse; that would make him be less forgiving than Diego. “Hmpf, alright then.” He placed his paw into Diego's. Diego squeezed far harder than he needed to and Boreas chilled Diego's paw down very rapidly, but they shook paws grudgingly before rapidly retracting them, trying not to wince in pain from what the other had done.
    “Excellent!” laughed N. “Aqua, my friend, looks like you were right after all. I'm sorry for doubting you.”
    “That's alright,” smiled Aqua. “I guess you've finally come to your senses now.”
    “Well,” said N happily. “Why don't you go get Reshiram, and then we'll address Unova together, as Team Plasma's king and the Champion, and tell everyone it's time to stop hunting pokémon trainers. It's time we made peace.”
    “No, it isn't.”
    From each of the rear entrances to the throne room came one of the seven Sages, their entire teams with them, each with a single, mighty addition. Rood's fire-types were joined by a Salamence, ferocious and powerful. Gorm's water-types had been joined by a kinder-looking, but no less powerful, Dragonite. Bronius now had a Tyranitar, mightiest of all rock-types, and Giallo a cold, robotic Metagross added to his steel-types. Among Ryoku's grass-type ranks was a mighty, shark-like Garchomp, and Zinzolin's poison-types had a Hydreigon with them.
    Ghetsis was the only one of them whose addition Boreas didn't recognised as a pokémon of almost legendary power. It was a strange, grey and blue creature with a vaguely draconic head; it seemed to be hunched over. It seemed a weird, almost pitiable thing, yet it frightened Boreas. Somehow it reminded Boreas of Reshiram and Zekrom, even though it seemed more like the antithesis of the powerful pokémon.
    Boreas could've sworn he saw Diego flinch, looking almost pained for a moment, as the Sages entered, almost surrounding them.
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