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Old March 20th, 2013 (1:11 PM).
apenpaap apenpaap is offline
    Join Date: Oct 2011
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    Posts: 79
    Chapter Seventy-Six: The Last Chance
    Lucius bit the Garchomp's wing pressing hard against his throat, pinning him up against the wall about a metre off the ground. It was hard to bite through the rubbery scales, however, and Garchomp just ignored him drawing blood. As its thousands of teeth came closer and closer to bite off his head, Lucius really wished he could breathe fire into the dragon's face, but that was impossible as he couldn't breathe at all. No amount of struggling against the wing moved it.
    A black flurry of feathers hit Garchomp in the face, surprising it so it stopped pressing on Lucius' throat for a moment. He fell down, drew a big breath, and exhaled flames all over Garchomp's lower body, but the dragon was barely harmed by his fire. Lucius growled: that stupid Selene was actually doing more damage than him, scratching around its head while it tried to catch her. Not wanting to be outdone by that airhead, Lucius dug his teeth, infused with dark energy, into Garchomp's tail.
    The sharkdragon tried to shake him off, thrashing its tail about, but he hung onto it by his teeth. But when it stamped its feet on the ground and created mighty shockwave, he was knocked away and floored, along with half the other combatants.
    As Lucius scrabbled back to his feet, Garchomp managed to catch Selene in its jaws, shook her around violently, and threw her away, a bloody little heap of bird. Lucius ignited in rage and furiously attacked Garchomp again and again, biting, scratching, and breathing fire while his anger took the form of copious amounts of darkness striking at his enemy. He relished every wound he inflicted, every drop of blood he spilled, and the clear pain he caused Garchomp. His sheer fury took it aback and made it take a while before he was finally hit by its heavy claw which rent his side. He still continued, like a living inferno of fury, until the ground itself rose up against him in a great earthquake and threw him several metres away, where he landed hard. Garchomp wasted no time and pounced at him to kill him.

    As Octa's family rapidly retreated from the battle, leaving them with only a very few against the overwhelmingly powerful enemy, Aqua's instincts told her it would be a really great idea to follow them. The urge to do so was quite overwhelming in fact, even though she knew they had to buy Boreas time. But they had bought him so much already, and he was up against a Kyurem... Maybe he was dead already, and she could just flee?
    She chewed herself out inwardly for such a thought. Boreas couldn't die; she'd kill him if he did. Yet her legs were about ready to run for her life as she tried to keep Lucario, Klinklang, and Escavalier at bay with a rapid vortex of water. Octa's sister Livia was the only one of the house of Equinox who hadn't retreated. “Sorry to state the obvious,” she said to them, “but we really need them to get back here.”
    “Yeah,” agreed Toxica. “Octa, can't you say anything to them? Tell 'em not to listen to Gaius or something?!”
    “I'm sorry, my dear,” said Octa, “but I doubt they'd listen to me over Gaius. I left our house, remember? Half of them consider me an apostate. However, my dear sister, you are still a part of the house. Couldn't you challenge Gaius?”
    Livia tried to fight Kyurem from afar. “I may agree with you on most things, but I owe Gaius my allegiance as our new leader, Octa. I can't just challenge his authority directly like that!”
    I'm going to die because these two nitwits can't take a stand against their own brother. Aqua sighed and dodged a swing of Escavalier's arm that nearly cut her in half. “Well, I'd happily challenge him, but they have no clue who I am, so they're hardly going to listen to me! Maybe I can get through to them if I kill him?”
    Octa frowned. “Hilarious. Perhaps you would be so kind as to quit the poor attempts at humour and let me try and convince my sister?”
    “Look,” said Aqua, trying to keep calm, “we're all going to die, so I'm just trying to cope with it using humour.”
    “Well, you-”
    “Hey, bunch of spineless cowards!” shouted Toxica. “I guess the house of Equinox's talk of honour and valour is just talk, no more!”
    “Subtle,” groaned Octa, defending against Eelektross and Spiritomb. The Serperiors actually came to a halt.
    “How dare you insult the great and noble house of Equinox?!” asked Gaius lividly.
    “The way I see it, it's not me insulting it, but you. Running away from a good fight just because your dad died? It's obvious the house of Equinox is nothing but a mewing bunch of cowardly hypocrites!”
    “Who the hell do you think you are to insult us?”
    Toxica laughed. “I'm Toxica.”
    “I know that.”
    Just Toxica. Toxica of no bloody house; I don't even know who my parents are and am farther away from nobility than anyone you'll ever meet. Yet here I am, fighting on for a small chance of victory, when you muppets are running for the hills. And I'm not alone either: Aqua here is fighting just as hard and is also a very ordinary girl, and so is Esper, and Altaïr and the others here. But you guys just run off, despite all your talk of great heroic ancestors.”
    “How dare you?!”
    Toxica's speech certainly had an effect, as the Serperiors talked amongst themselves, and two of them even rejoined the battle, taking a bit of pressure off everyone's shoulders. “She is right, Gaius,” said Octa, “so please, give the order to rejoin the battle; don't force me to do something we'd both regret.”
    “I shan't. You are a traitor to our house and 'tis not becoming of our new leader to be ordered about by you.”
    “You're not their new leader yet, Gaius.” Octa raised his voice so the others could hear him. “Equinoctes, hear me! Toxica is right; Gaius' orders to retreat were cowardly and mistaken, and I do not believe he is fit to be your leader. I urge all of you: stand with us! Let us fight for victory or death, as the great Equinox would have us do! The day is not lost, in fact if our valour can stand through this darkest hour, we can achieve great victory!”
    “Do not listen to Octavianus. He is...” Gaius' voice trailed off as he realised the others had joined Octa, ignoring him fully.
    “I'm sorry, brother,” said Octa.

    Boreas knew he had little time left. The only reason he wasn't dead yet was the same spike that had stabbed him all the way through the chest in the first place: it was like a plug in the wound, keeping most of the blood inside. But he was still losing an awful lot of it, much of his fur dyed red by now. He was terribly cold, especially in his paws, and had to pant rapidly to get enough air. He rose up very slowly on his terribly weak paws, clenching his teeth against the constantly worsening pain in his chest, but nearly blacked out from exertion and fell back to the ground.
    Just lie there... The pain will soon go away... He felt so dreadfully tired. His approaching death felt like a sweet, restful sleep that his body craved for. Maybe he should just close his eyes...
    He spread his eyes wide open. He couldn't die! He had just told Diego how much he wanted to live; to just throw away his life a minute after he fought so hard for it was the stupidest thing he could do. He would rest once he got to the pokécenter; rest for days in a row, but not for eternity! Holding on to the thought of Aqua's tearfully happy face as she'd see he was still alive, he forced himself upright. Panting, he managed to stand on four legs. A scarily large puddle of blood had collected where he'd lain by now, but he had to have enough left to get back. His head spun and his vision teetered with black spots, but he remained standing, wobbling in place. He took a step forwards; so far so good. He took another, but his knee just gave away and he fell to three legs. He slowly prodded himself back up. He had to keep going.
    Except... Another thought gripped his weakly-beating heart like an iron claw. Maybe I shouldn't go on? Maybe I should turn around? I came here to kill Ghetsis, and I haven't done that yet.
    What a silly thought. No-one could expect from him that he'd just throw away his life like that. Risking it, yes; he had no problem risking his life, but it was very different to throw it away. He slowly took another step away from the tower. If he didn't get to the pokécenter as fast as possible right now, he'd die. It was that simple. Someone else would have to finish it.
    Who else is there? The very annoying thought that he was the only one who had made it past the enemy gnawed at him. Maybe someone else would break through too? But that was as ludicrous as thinking he'd survive if he went on to kill Ghetsis; the enemy were with far too many and were far too strong. The only reason Boreas had gotten through was luck. If he didn't kill Ghetsis, no-one would, and everyone who had died today would've died in vain. Black, Febby, and all the others.
    He took another step. It didn't matter to the dead, after all. Killing Ghetsis and winning the battle, possibly the entire war, wouldn't bring them back. Only the living mattered; and he was still barely among them and intended to stay that way. He would just have to make his way back and tell his friends and anyone else who was still alive to retreat. He was planning to leave Unova with Aqua to see the rest of the world anyway. Who would ever blame him for not going on in this condition?
    I would. It was true; he would never forgive himself if he had thrown away the last chance Unova had. If the entire continent continued to suffer because of him he could never forgive himself.
    But he would be alive. And in time, he might get over it, journeying through far away places. It would be far easier to live with the guilt of the state he'd left distant Unova in than to die. Particularly since it wasn't actually as simple as just going into the tower and automatically killing Ghetsis; not in Boreas' current state, with white Kyurem guarding him. He would most likely just throw away his life in vain instead of at least doing it for a good reason.
    And yet... He couldn't let Team Plasma win. He was the only person in the world who had a chance to make a difference, to finally beat them. Wasn't that worth his life? He knew Octa would say it was his duty to go on and kill Ghetsis, but Boreas didn't believe in that. He simply had a choice, and what he chose was his to live with or die from. But whichever way he chose, he had to do it now, or he'd bleed out on the spot and make neither choice.
    Capella's face came back to him, at the very moment she realised she could only save him or herself. Capella had smiled in the knowledge of her approaching death, gladly died for her friend. He should be like Capella and make the right, heroic choice. But he also recalled her life had ended seconds later and what her corpse had looked like, and how she was now gone, completely unable to enjoy life any more.
    He made his choice and continued on his way to the pokécenter, slowly dragging himself away from the tower. He couldn't make that sacrifice. He was not Capella, and he was not a hero. He was just a badly wounded Glaceon who wanted to live on with his new wife. He wasn't going to sacrifice himself just for a whole continent full of random people he didn't even know. They'd just have to take care of themselves.
    That sounded like something Diego would say. Team Plasma didn't care that they were ruining the lives of millions of nameless others as long as it benefited them. And here Boreas was, doing the same thing. And he slowly began to actually imagine what people would have to go through for many more years if Team Plasma's rule was allowed to continue. It was easy enough to ignore them when he thought of them as a number, but they were real people; human and pokémon. He sighed, realising he couldn't abandon them to Team Plasma.
    “Dammit,” he sighed as he turned around. “I'm sorry, Aqua...”
    Gritting his teeth against the pain and barely keeping himself up, he slowly, step for step, stumbled to the throneroom. He had to take the chance he might be able to kill Ghetsis, even though it meant accepting his death.

    Garchomp moved towards Lucius for the kill. He tried to run, but was still lying on the ground and hurt by the earthquake. He tried to get up, but he was slow and the speedy dragon's maw was nearly at him.
    A sudden beam of darkness from behind Lucius struck Garchomp and Selene landed in its face, more jumping than flying. Distracted, the dragon's heavy head struck the ground next to Lucius instead of the Houndoom himself, who managed to dodge. He grabbed his chance and sunk his teeth into Garchomp's suddenly exposed throat. Even here, the reptile's skin was very tough and hard to get through, but he quickly tasted its delicious salt blood.
    A heavy claw threw Lucius and Selene back onto the ground, but Garchomp was badly wounded now, its blood leaking out of its bitten throat. Lucius roared in triumph even as he was in pain.
    Garchomp's every breath gurgled and bubbled in its wounded throat. It looked at Lucius and Selene, spread its wings, and took flight, making up for its small wings by its speed. Ryoku shouted at it to return, but it ignored him and fled for its life. “Hell yeah!” Lucius roared triumphantly. “You'd better run!” He turned his attention to Selene, hiding his concern as he prodded her. “Hey birdbrain, you okay?”
    Lucius helped her to her feet, worried about the big red stains in her black feathers. “Broke my wing,” she said, “but I'll live.”
    “Right, then let's kill that sucker Ryoku and avenge Capella.”
    But there was one problem, Lucius discovered: they were now fully surrounded by the Sage's team, as most of the other combatants had fled.

    Aqua laughed as her wave swept Ghetsis' Bouffalant off its feet and carried it along. It was like a river around her, and she could control every bit of the water like it was a part of her body. With Octa's family joining them again, things were a little less dire. They would still die if Boreas wouldn't succeed, but at least it wouldn't happen immediately. In fact if she didn't look at Metagross and Kyurem, things didn't seem too desperate.
    Bouffalant was strong and fought against the current, clearly unwilling to submit, and Aqua would've continued attacking it if she hadn't glimpsed Metagross blasting away one of Octa's family members and leaving Toxica fighting it on her own. The mighty metal creature seemed ready to crush her at any moment, as she was completely busy dodging its powerful attacks: flashes of bright metallic light, psychic bursts, and physical attacks.
    Aqua gave her all to the current to make Bouffalant wash far away in the hopes someone else would engage it, then raced for Metagross. Toxica screeched as a Flash Cannon attack hit her shoulder and threw her back. Metagross launched itself to crush Toxica, so Aqua rushed to save her in a rapid jet of water. She collided with her friend, shoved her out of the way, and just managed to evade the robot's heavy bulk coming down herself. But before she could turn around to fight it, a massive metal leg came down and shattered her thigh. The extreme pain had just begun to register when Metagross lifted another leg to crush her with.
    A Solarbeam and an angry Vileplume hit Metagross as Toxica fought it. Aqua gathered water to her, as she could far more easily swim than walk with her broken leg, and rejoined the battle as well.
    Suddenly both of them were caught in place as Metagross' eyes flashed and its powerful, mechanic mind assaulted theirs. Aqua tried to focus to hold it back, but it easily tore her defences to shreds and mercilessly continued its destructive path straight into her mind.

    Boreas was dying. Every step he took was agony, and harder than the last. His body was almost entirely numb and cold as death, except for the wounds on his head and especially the one on his chest, which tormented him. Yet his resolve became stronger with every agonising step. If the last thing he was going to do with his life was killing Ghetsis, at least it was something worthwhile. The pain would at last be gone once he was done with this. He had accepted his fate.
    He stumbled into the throneroom. Gravity seemed so much stronger, but he couldn't fall despite his dizziness, as he probably couldn't get himself up again if he did. Ghetsis was sitting on N's throne wearing a black suit and a long cloak, with the large white form of Kyurem passively standing next to the throne. While N had sat on the golden throne itself, Ghetsis had added some thick pillows to it. Boreas felt he should be feeling hate for the man who had begun this all, murdered Black, and now would lead to his own death. But he was out of hatred after his fight with Diego. He had to protect Unova from this man, that was all.
    Kyurem approached menacingly when it saw him, but Ghetsis called it back. “What is this?” he said in surprise. “What happened to you, Glaceon?”
    Boreas wondered if he should keep his purpose secret, remembering a pokémon master like Ghetsis could understand most of what a pokémon said. But he had a better idea. “My name... Is Boreas... I've come to kill you.”
    Ghetsis laughed. “Poor thing, you're in no condition to kill anyone, save for yourself. I'll call someone to have you taken to our doctors.”
    “No,” said Boreas, choosing the few words he could get out among his ragged breathing wisely. “You are a dangerous, evil man... You have plunged... Unova into your cruel tyranny... If I have to die to kill you, then so be it.” He spoke between rapid breaths.
    Ghetsis smiled pityingly. “Why don't you just calm down? You're Black's Glaceon, right? The one who tried to attack me earlier as well. It was nothing personal what I did to your master, you know. I just needed Reshiram.”
    “Yes, you stole it. Very dishonest.”
    Ghetsis rolled his eyes. “How did you get that wounded anyway?”
    “Diego,” said Boreas.
    “I see. And where is he now?”
    “Dead.” Boreas smiled triumphantly.
    Ghetsis' arrogant façade broke and his smile disappeared. “What? You killed him?”
    Boreas nodded.
    “I see,” he said icily. “You shouldn't have done that, you know. He was a loyal, useful ally and a good friend.”
    “He was an evil git and just a tool to do your dirty work,” Boreas retorted.
    “There's no point with me arguing with a pokémon that's nothing but a simple tool for an already dead man. Kyurem, kill it slowly.”
    Boreas knew he was in no condition to defend at all and clenched his teeth as the flames hit.

    Octa found himself fighting Kyurem again, feeling frozen to the bone as its deathly cold enveloped him. Even the warm feeling of pride he'd had when his family had heeded his speech and stayed wasn't enough to stop its biting cold. Massive, icy claws hunted for him, and he knew it was only a matter of time before they'd catch him in the intense blizzard. But there was no-one here who stood a chance against Kyurem; Boreas was their only hope if he was still alive. It seemed unlikely he was, with how long it had been since he broke through; the Glaceon had probably fallen to the other Kyurem. But if he hadn't, Octa refused to see anyone else killed while they were buying him time; and the best way to prevent that right now was to engage Kyurem himself, even if it would most likely be his death.
    Octa's skin was numb with cold and every one of his joints hurt to move, but he couldn't stop. If he stopped dodging and stabbing Kyurem for a second, he'd be dead and it'd move on to its next victim, and neither of those prospects appealed to him.
    Things were going much better than could be expected when a single Serperior fought a Kyurem, really, even if he was slowly freezing. Dodge, slash, dodge, slash, dodge, slash. Slash after slash, Kyurem's legs became covered in cuts oozing a dark gas instead of blood. Octa half-expected it to continue like this until the cold made him too slow to evade his enemy's attacks, but it wasn't so: at one point the moment his blade touched Kyurem's leg a megavolt jumped through the blade into Octa.
    He found himself lying on the ground a few metres away, every muscle feeling cramped and his body smoking after slightly while white spots danced in his eyes. They didn't hide the furious legendary about to maul him, though, nor the fact he had lost his Leaf Blade and certainly had no time to make a new one.
    Kyurem was about to kill Octa when a bright Solarbeam hit it from the side. It looked around, more curious than hurt, and saw Gaius. Octa quickly bolted back upright and rushed for his Leaf Blade. They both engaged Kyurem again.
    “Thank you,” said Octa, “but why?”
    “Because I have made a terrible mistake,” said Gaius, moving faster than Octa as he hadn't been half-frozen yet. “Several, in fact. Our house joining you made me realise how right you were: flight was an act of cowardice. I may not be worthy to lead our house. I'm sorry brother. For everything I've said.”
    There was no more chance to talk, as Kyurem was enraged and they were in position for an attack. The bitter cold around the legendary intensified. Octa and Gaius raced to get away from the focal point of its Blizzard, but the cold was horrible and made even the worst Boreas had ever done feel like an oven. Octa's skin and eyes froze within seconds, which felt oddly like being on fire. He would have screamed if he could open his mouth. He could still move a little, but the crackling feeling made him worried his frozen skin was breaking into little pieces as he did so. But not half as worried as he was about the feeling of the cold cutting into his body like an icy blade. His bones felt frozen and his muscles responded sluggishly.
    The very air froze down with a noise like sixty nails scraping on a blackboard. Though his sense of touch had thankfully disappeared after the burning pain of his skin freezing and his vision was vague and blurry through his frozen eyes, Octa still noticed the air depositing as a lethally cold hail. Then he was simply unable to move at all, too cold. His mind too was rapidly shutting down as ice-cold blood reached it.
    The big, vague shape of Kyurem stepped towards him, casually passing by Gaius, who had suffered a similar fate to Octa's grief. He tried to think of anyone who might save them, but all the others were in almost as bad a position fighting the rest of the pokémon here. Kyurem put its large foot on top of him, about to crush him. Octa realised this was the end. He just hoped Toxica would survive.

    Lucius breathed a sea of fire over the Ferrothorn about to crush Selene as she cut off branches of Shiftry with slashes of sharpened air. He saw Lilligant coming for him, but had no time to defend and received a long, deep cut in his side from its sharpened leafarm. His jaws found its other arm before it could cut his throat as well and he breathed fire right into its face. Using its tentacles, Cradily threw a barrage of rocks at both dark-types, who were hit several times.
    Lilligant wasn't defeated yet and slashed at Lucius' feet. He cursed as he dropped to the ground and was instantly set upon by his badly burnt enemy. It no longer looked anywhere near cute with many of its petals carbonised and its face burned, showing its bare animal-like flesh in a mad, nightmarish fury. Two blade-like leafarms tried to stab him in the chest and throat so he grabbed them both tightly, while a smouldering facial petal wrapped around his maw to prevent him from using more fire. However, he slowly fought-back the razor-sharp leafarms, as he was stronger than his enemy.
    That is, until myriads of roots sprung from its feet and crawled up along his body. They pierced his skin like a thousand needles as they kept growing and travelled up along his body, quickly wrapping him in a growing cocoon of the stuff. Wherever the roots pricked through his skin, they began draining him. The entered into the wounds he already had too, reopening them. The pain was terrible. His strength was rapidly drained and he began losing against the knife-like leaves. Yet Lilligant didn't kill him with them, though it easily could: it enjoyed draining him alive far too much, its roots reaching up to his shoulders by now and pain and weakness overwhelmed him as they began to grow over his head.

    Boreas writhed to keep away from the small flames all around him. It was useless, as there was no escape from the tormenting fire, but he couldn't resist it. He did manage not to scream, though. It would only waste the tiny bit of air he had, and he had less and less from the exertion and inhaling smoke. The need for oxygen quickly became even more painful than either the spike through his right lung or the flames roasting him like hot coals. His mind and lung burned as he slowly blacked out and asphyxiated.
    “Kyurem, give it a moment to catch its breath,” ordered Ghetsis.
    Boreas lay on the ground panting and recovering from the torture. He had to act quick now. “Reshiram,” he said to Kyurem between rapid breaths, “remember me? I fought with Black, just like you.”
    Kyurem slightly turned its head as it looked at him.
    “Remember, Black?” continued Boreas. “The 'hero' you came out of that rock for? Who 'fought for the truth', as you called it?”
    “Good. Then do you also remember how he died? Kyurem killed him, ordered by Ghetsis!”
    It was quiet. “I AM KYUREM.”
    “Then you-”
    “Kyurem, continue,” ordered Ghetsis.
    Boreas couldn't suppress a whimper of pain as the horrible flames continued to dance around him and roast him with their terrible heat; though they never touched him and his fur didn't combust. He squirmed to stay away from them as much as he could, but it was still like being fried alive.
    Ghetsis watched him, sitting on his throne in his dark suit, with a malevolent grin on his face. “Poor Glaceon,” he said mockingly. “So much suffering. I'll be merciful and order Kyurem to make it end if you beg me for it.”
    Death sounded very appealing right now. Any end to the agony did. But he had to take Ghetsis with him, he had to convince Kyurem. He weathered the torment in silence, looking into Ghetsis' eyes defiantly. Again, he slowly and agonisingly suffocated until Ghetsis ordered Kyurem to stop. Boreas lay there, recovering a little.
    “So you're a defiant one?” said Ghetsis. “Well, then I'll just continue this little exercise until you give up.”
    Boreas ignored him and turned to Kyurem, talking as fast as his breath would allow. “If you are Kyurem, then that means you're the one who killed Black. The hero who fought for truth.”
    Boreas rolled his eyes. “Reshiram said the same about Black. But Black and Ghetsis were enemies; how can there be two conflicting truths?”
    Boreas thought he detected a pause and uncertainty in Kyurem's voice. “GHETSIS FIGHTS FOR THE TRUTH.”
    “You keep saying that. Maybe you're right. But then, answer me this: what did Black fight for when Reshiram was with him? And what did Ghetsis, who he fought against, fight for? Does the truth change?”
    Kyurem was quiet. Boreas barely dared hope he had put the legendary in doubt.
    “Kyurem,” ordered Ghetsis, “continue.”
    Kyurem didn't instantly move, lost in thought, so Boreas talked quick in the hopes of avoiding another round of torture. “Was Black wrong? But then, how could Reshiram consider him the hero? You fought for the truth with Black and you fought for the truth with Ghetsis, but they can't both be right!”
    “Kyurem,” ordered Ghetsis, sounding worried, “kill it, right now! It's lying to you.”
    Saying Ghetsis was the one lying to it was a bad idea; it would be Boreas' word against its master's, and Ghetsis would win that. “The problem is: there is no truth. No absolute truth at least.”
    Kyurem snapped to attention and looked angry. “THAT IS A LIE. I AM TRUTH.”
    Reshiram claimed it was the truth. But you just said it yourself: you're Kyurem.”
    “You claim to be truth, yet you change your mind all the time. If there is absolute truth, answer me this: are you Kyurem or Reshiram? Was Black right or is Ghetsis?”
    Kyurem was quiet.
    “You are not a personification of truth, as there's no such thing. What you are is a confused being with illusions of grandeur, created from the original Kyurem by people who thought in black-and-whites and threw away all doubt. But they were wrong to do so: there is no absolute truth, and doubt is precious. I'm certain of it,” he added with a chuckle.
    “Kyurem, it's lying, kill it!”
    Boreas got to his feet, feeling recovered with his last energy now. Kyurem just stood there and stared, locked in inner conflict as it tried to conform this logic with its inner philosophy. “It won't kill me, Ghetsis. You've lost.” He cooled his body down with his last energy to end Ghetsis' life with a continuous Ice Beam to the head. His wounds burned and he was so very tired and heavy, but he had to do this final thing. Then he could rest.
    Ghetsis didn't even get up. In fact, he still smiled. “Have I? I admit, it's impressive you managed to talk Kyurem into this, but you haven't thought things through. If you kill me, all the energy in Kyurem will be released in a huge explosion. Even if you were healthy, you couldn't get away in time; as badly wounded as you are you won't even make it out of the throneroom before it happens. Kill me, and you'll kill yourself.”
    “I know,” said Boreas, walking closer. He couldn't afford to miss, as he certainly wouldn't have energy for a second try. Ghetsis might hit him with his cane again given such a chance, too. “I accepted that I would die when I entered here.”
    There was a momentary crack of fear in Ghetsis' calm façade. “Brave. But you're not the only one who would die. Giallo's last report indicated he was fighting a bunch of pokémon. Some of which seem to be your late trainer's other possessions... A Serperior, a Vileplume, and a Vaporeon, among others. Were you good friends with them?” Boreas tried to keep his appearance neutral as a terrible fear came over him, but Ghetsis clearly saw through it and laughed. “Very good friends, clearly. Perhaps there's even a lover among them? They're fighting the other Kyurem right now, and if you kill me, they'll die in its explosion. Even if they're quite far away from it; these are legendaries and contain immense amounts of power. Kill me, and you kill them.”
    That was the one thing Boreas hadn't thought of yet. He was fully prepared to die and to go through any amount of pain, but he had hoped, almost expected, his friends to survive to see the results.
    “We can do this differently,” continued Ghetsis. “I don't want to die, and you don't want your friends to die. So let's make this deal: you surrender to me, and I order Giallo to stand down and have our pokémon fight only to defend themselves. Then we go down there together and you convince them to surrender as well. One of our medics takes a look at you, and then we put you all in a boat to anywhere outside of Unova you want. None of you dies and you all get to live out your lives in a place where you'll never see Team Plasma again.”
    Boreas knew he should just kill Ghetsis. He would help millions throw off Team Plasma and live in freedom if he did. Those millions were up against the lives of a few, and that would be an easy choice if it wasn't for the identity of those few. “How do I know I can trust you?” he asked to win time to think.
    Ghetsis shrugged. “Because I've got no reason to lie. It will cost us as good as nothing to let you and anyone else you choose live and leave Unova. There's no point to me breaking my word.”
    Boreas felt Ghetsis was speaking the truth. And he couldn't refuse the deal. He couldn't live with the idea that he would kill Aqua. The freedom of millions easily lost against her life.

    Kyurem's world was entirely focused on the horrible green snake. And now, at last, it had its revenge. It was about to crush the now-frozen Serperior underfoot when it saw something deeply disturbing through its telepathic bond with its other self in the throneroom: the life of the hero was threatened by a Glaceon! And Kyurem's other self wasn't doing anything about it for some reason.
    Kyurem forgot its fury against the Serperior and spread out its wings wide, flying up to the throneroom at top speed to kill the Glaceon who threatened the hero.

    Lucius was being drained by a thousand roots no matter how hard he fought against them, and was beginning to black out. His vision of Lilligant's terribly burnt visage slowly disappeared as roots began to grow over his eyes. But then a ball of ruffled feathers landed on it and drew its claws through the badly wounded face. Lilligant screeched, but Selene had jumped onto its legs and cut through its roots before it could retaliate.
    The agony of the roots draining him ended instantly and many broke off quickly. As Lilligant had turned its attention to Selene, Lucius was free to move, shook off much of the dying roots, and bit its throat before it could get Selene.
    His skin was still leakier than a colander and he felt terribly drained down. Selene wasn't much better off: fighting the other grass types had drawn a heavy toll on her and her feathers were more red than black by now. Ryoku's remaining pokémon still surrounded them and were about to attack as well, and Lucius realised this was the end. Even though they were both strong against grass-types, they stood no chance, outnumbered, surrounded, and wounded as badly as this. He looked into Selene's eyes, and saw she knew it too. She hopped onto his shoulder as he managed to partly get up.
    “It's been fun,” she said as Tangrowth spread out its huge mass of vines threateningly.
    “Yeah.” Lucius gave her feathers a gentle pet with one paw as Tangrowth's writhing forest of vines was nearly upon them. “Let's get this last one.”
    With their final strength, Lucius breathed a sea of fire and Selene slashed and cut through climbers, fighting together to the last as they disappeared into the mass of strangling and draining vines.

    As Kyurem was about to crush Octa, it suddenly stopped mid-movement. Its head turned and looked up at the tower, and then it spread its wings and flew up, leaving him there. The cold air was rapidly blown away by the storm, which felt like a desert wind by comparison. As frozen air sublimated, rain that felt boiling hot fell on Octa's frozen skin and heated him up. He managed to get up and looked around in bewilderment, wondering what was going on. In the south, a large golden spot in the sky showed the Sun breaking through the clouds.

    Kyurem flew up on massive wings, distracting Metagross for just the moment needed to break its devastating psychic attack. Aqua used her chance to blast it with her strongest Hydro Pump, using the copious rainwater to make it easier. Despite its massively heavy bulk, Metagross was pushed back by the attack. It braced itself against the ground with two legs and began to tilt over by the water's sheer pressure, giving Aqua an idea: she gathered water to her in a big wave and let it give the balancing Metagross the final push, flipping it over like a horseshoe crab on the beach.
    Aqua was exhausted, but Metagross was stuck for the moment and Toxica used that handily: she jumped onto the meal spider's belly and sprouted roots, searching for any crack in the weaker armour here. Metagross had to let it happen while it worked to flip back the right way up: its legs slowly turned upside-down by their joints and then activated their powerful electromagnets to levitate by.
    Toxica released her roots and jumped off her enemy and made thick grass grow rapidly under Metagross that knotted around its legs and pulled it back to the ground. Aqua created a big wave to wash over and submerge the steel colossus, staying behind herself instead of staying in the wave. With good reason: when Metagross was fully submerged, the electromagnets on its legs, at their most powerful as it tried to get loose from the grass knots, shortened out in the water, which conducted their powerful current right around Metagross and through the now-widened cracks in its belly-armour. The water fizzled and flashed and boiled as Metagross electrocuted itself.
    Toxica and Aqua were left exhausted and wounded, but victorious. “Woah,” said Toxica.
    “Yeah,” said Aqua.
    “C'mon,” said Toxica, running ahead, “we have to see if Octa's okay.”

    Ghetsis grinned without any fear. He clearly knew Boreas wouldn't sacrifice his friends and that he was in no serious danger. The freedom of the entire continent was simply no match for the lives of his cherished newly-wed wife and the best friend he'd had as good as his whole life. Living in some place faraway with them and trying to forget Unova didn't sound too bad.
    But what would they think of this? They were both willing to wager their lives to make his plan work. They would probably be none too pleased that he had decided for them not to make that sacrifice. He hoped they would forgive him, but even if they never wanted anything to do with him and considered him a traitor, at least they'd be alive. That was good enough.
    But they'd have to live with a strange kind of complicity in the defeat today. If it wasn't for them, Boreas would have killed Ghetsis and completed his plan. Because, come to think of it, it was his plan that had made the resistance fight this futile battle. Everyone who had died in the battle had eventually done so to give him this last chance for victory. Black, Febby, and all of the other dead whose bodies now lay here in the castle, possibly even Lucius and Selene, had died for his plan. If they hadn't fought this battle, if he hadn't pushed for his terrible idea, they would still be alive. The resistance would've fled the League and remained much stronger, still able to eventually beat Team Plasma by other means. But now, they were crushed. So many had died, and many more would die in the flight from the lost battle. The survivors would be few and completely powerless. If he didn't kill Ghetsis, they wouldn't just have died in vain, but they wouldn't have died at all if it wasn't for him. He would be just as responsible for their deaths as Team Plasma if he didn't do what he came to do. It wasn't just a choice between Unova and his friends.
    “Well?” asked Ghetsis impatiently. “Have you decided yet, Glaceon?”
    Thinking of it like that, his choice was clear. His death, Octa's death, even Aqua's death, were all acceptable. They had all been willing to wager their lives for his plan, and he owed it to everyone to finish what he had started.
    “Yes,” he said calmly, “I have.”
    Cooling his body down with his last energy, he shot an Ice Beam right between Ghetsis' eyes. The human's smug, sure expression changed to one of fear and surprise and he tried to get up, but Boreas kept up the Ice Beam and he fell back on the cushioned throne. Within seconds, Ghetsis stopped moving and blacked out. Boreas continued the Ice Beam to give him a soft death by cooling his brain down.
    He ended the beam and felt an immense weight fall off his chest. Kyurem's body was already ablaze and still it stared apathetically as white and grey smoke oozed from it. Boreas looked at the throneroom's exit and considered running for it, but he knew he couldn't get away in time; he could barely walk at all. Instead, he laid down calmly, almost with happiness. This was the end of his life, he could do nothing about that, and he would rather spend it thinking one last time about the good things from that life that with a panicky, futile flight.
    He had made the right choice, he knew, and it was great relief. Even though it would cost him his life and probably that of his friends, it was the right choice. He just hoped Lucius and Selene would make it, wherever they were. He chuckled, imagining Selene annoying Lucius while sitting on his shoulder and Lucius insulting Selene, quibbling with each other as always. They certainly had the strangest friendship Boreas had ever seen.
    He reminded himself of the annoying, childish Oddish Toxica had been, too, and how irritated and jealous he'd been whenever Octa spent time with her instead of him. He giggled as he recalled her attempt to impress Octa by imitating his accent really poorly. She had grown into a good friend as they had both grown out of their childish quibbling, and into a very fun Vileplume to be with. He was glad she and Octa had made up before the end.
    It was with a warm smile on his face that he recalled his time with Octa. He had been like both a father and a brother to the lonely little Eevee he had rescued, and though they could fight like beasts, he had never had a dearer friend. They had stared death in the eyes together so many times and seen all of Unova together. Octa had distracted Boreas from his grief by telling him stories of his own family, followed him into Team Plasma's base even when they were fighting, they had gotten drunk together to celebrate their victory over the Gym Leader, and played in the pokémon musical together. Octa had listened to him talk on and on about Aqua in the days when he first met her and prevented him from killing himself when his whole life had collapsed around him not much later. They had come to blows about Octa's refusal to act on his feelings for Toxica, yet ended up laughing together and had fought for each other's lives deep underground. Boreas had supported Octa when he was deeply ashamed about giving up and argued with him to stop that shame from making him do stupid things. Finally he imagined Octa as he had last seen him: fighting bravely to make Boreas' plan work and telling him to go on, no matter what. Every memory with Octa was in the end a happy one.
    As Kyurem became a floating ball of grey, fire and ice, Boreas thought about Aqua. He had never known it was possible to love another person so much. Imagining her laugh or her eyes was enough to set him on fire inside. He laughed heartily as he recalled a foolish young Glaceon jumping off a boat to talk to a pretty girl. He recalled how his cheek had burned when she had given him a peck on it and how perfect the world had seemed after she had first truly kissed him. He had stayed the night with her to support her as she told him about her dark past and they had passionately reunited after their violent breakup. Her disbelieving look when he had asked her to marry him and her delight when she realised he was serious, and how they had improvised their wedding on the spot and kissed in the middle of the great battle. The joy he felt whenever he was with her was life itself.
    He looked up at the ball of energy about to explode and realised it had been a good life. He couldn't have asked for a better one.
    There was a bright flash of light.

    Octa stared up in amazement. Kyurem hadn't killed him, for reasons best known to itself, and while he was incredibly cold, he was still alive against all odds. Kyurem flew upwards, to the tower, at top speed.
    Suddenly, it roared and writhed in mid-flight, flying chaotically as lightning, visible in the murky storm even from this distance, danced over its dark body. Octa gasped. He could barely believe it, but Boreas had really succeeded! Kyurem seemed to go mad in mid-air as lightning, ice, black and grey energy, danced over its body and seemed to dissolve it. It lost its shape and stopped flying on, hovering in mid-air as it turned into a sphere of black and grey.
    The Sun broke through the clouds with amazing timing. The rain-filled sky reflected the Sunlight brightly like a thousand drops of gold, as did the top of the tower and the floating ball of energy that was once Kyurem, all gleaming with painfully bright gold to their dark-adjusted eyes.
    Kyurem exploded in an enormous flash of energy and light, and a second later an ear-piercing explosion and shockwave hit and threw everyone to the ground. Octa's heart erupted with triumph. “BOREAS!” he shouted, holding up his blade in a triumphant salute into the tower's direction. “He did it! He did it!”
    Toxica flew into an embrace with him the moment she got up, cheering happily and inarticulately for their friend. She even pulled a laughing Aqua into the hug as well, and after a moment of hesitation Octa hugged her too. He had been wrong to suspect her of being a traitor after all.
    They let go of each other. “Wonderful,” said a smiling Aqua. “My clever Boreas has really done it...”
    The tower exploded with an immense fireball, blowing up completely and raining rubble over the battlefield. Octa's heart, ablaze with triumph and pride, froze instantly. He could only stare at the collapse of what little was left of the tower, along with the wall leading to it. “No... No...” He saw the horrified, shocked looks on Aqua's and Toxica's faces, and felt a tear trickling down from his eye. He wanted to tell them Boreas might've gotten away in time, to try to convince himself of it, but he knew it wasn't true. He knew it in his mind, but mainly felt it in his heart. It was even worse than his father's death, which hadn't truly sunk in yet. Boreas was dead.
    Even the sight of Ghetsis' pokémon fleeing despite Giallo telling them to get back, the fiercely bright Sun shining on his back, and the disappearance of the suppressing feeling of the two legendaries on Plasma's side couldn't dispel the horrible sense of loss he felt.
    But there was no time to grief now. He raised his voice to address everyone left on their side: Aqua and Toxica, his house, Esper, and Altaïr, most of whom were just staring up at the collapsing tower in wonder. “Everyone!” he spoke. “My friends, my family! An incredibly brave Glaceon died to give us this last chance of victory! The enemy is in disarray; they've seen their commander killed and no longer have the Kyurems to bolster their morale! Even the Sun itself is on our side, shining in their eyes and on our backs! This is our chance! Fight now! Fight for victory!” he lowered his voice, talking only to Aqua and Toxica. “Fight for Boreas.”
    Aqua echoed him as she wrapped herself in a wave, golden with the bright Sunlight's reflection, and together they charged Giallo's remaining pokémon, who were confused and scared by the tower's collapse and had to look straight into the low Sun to even see their enemies. Toxica was barely behind them as her flower greedily took the sunlight in as she ran, barraging their enemy with Solarbeams as they charged. “For Boreas!”
    All the others followed them too, charging the terrified and half-blinded enemy with the bright Sun in their back and a conviction they were going to win in their hearts.
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