This chapter has had to be split because of it's sheer length.
Chapter 41: Final Challenge (Part Two a)
“Uncle?” Dawn repeated. As Silver seemed to wither under the sharpness of her astounded and reproachful glare, May and the others decided it would be most tactful to leave them with some semblance of privacy by moving off a short distance. As Brock, Rey, Noland and Pikachu drifted off in one direction, May grabbed her brother’s arm and dragged him further along the stream. To her utter annoyance, she saw after only a few steps that they were being followed by Drew.
“May; can I have a moment?” he asked hesitantly.
“No,” she growled with a ferocity that surprised even Max. “I gave you every moment that you needed, and you threw it back in my face.”
“Would it really be so bad to hear what he has to say?” Max interrupted. May shot a surprised look at him.
“Yes, it would! You know what happened, Max. Whatever he has to say, I’m not interested.”
“I’m sorry,” Drew said quickly before she could draw a breath. May rolled her eyes and threw her arms up in exasperation.
“Oh, here we go,” she said rudely.
“I am,” Drew said with as much sincerity as he could. “I fell in love with your body more than I did yourself... I... I became something that I’ve always loathed when I did that. I lost track of who I was.”
“You were never in love with me, Drew,” May shot back. “All you ever cared about were my breasts.” Drew winced, deeply hurt by the comment.
“I’m trying to apologize for what I did,” he tried again, but May wasn’t having any of it.
“An apology. Right. So you think that makes up for cheating on me, for ripping my heart in two, for stalking me around Johto and Hoenn, and for trying to kidnap me? For the last two years all I’ve ever heard from your mouth is ‘I’m sorry’. And you think it makes a difference?”
Max had only heard one word in the last tirade. “Kidnap?” he repeated looking at Drew accusingly, his face turning red with suppressed rage. “You never told me that you tried to kidnap her!”
“Why would he, Max?” May asked scathingly, casting her former rival a withering glare. “The only things he has ever cared about are himself, and how he can turn a situation to his advantage.”
“I saved your life and you thank me saying how I’ve freed your mind from an insanity you’ve had since May rejected you when you went back to her!” Max shouted at the Coordinator. “In everything that you told me you did, you didn’t mention that you tried to kidnap her!”
“Let me make this very clear for you, Drew,” May seethed, twisting so that she stood eye-to-eye with him. “No matter how many times you apologize, no matter how “sorry” you are, no matter how much time passes... I will never forgive you for what you’ve done to me. Never.” Without another word she turned and walked away, Max following after giving Drew a look of deepest disgust. The Coordinator stood there alone, blinking back solitary tears. He’d known it would be futile, known that it would be thrown back into his face like that.
But he had tried. And perhaps because of this, despite her words, somewhere down the line May might forgive him.
The sun was fading, casting an almost surreal array of shadows on the ground. The fading rays illuminated Silver’s craggy face as he faced Ash and Dawn, his tale complete and waiting for them to speak.
“I don’t understand,” Dawn said at last, watching Silver keenly. “He died and his body just vanished?”
“Yes and no,” Silver answered, looking away to gather his thoughts. “After seeing Ho-Oh die and be reborn... I went to Ecruteak City in Johto, its ancestral home, to learn as much about it as I could. Tell me; have either of you heard about the legend of the Brass Tower?” Dawn shook her head, but Ash spoke up.
“I have; it was said to be the home of a Lugia hundreds of years ago, but it was destroyed by a mysterious fire. Three Pokemon were trapped and died in the flames, but Ho-Oh resurrected them and they became the legendary trio of beasts: Raikou, Entei, and Suicune. Since that day of the fire, all five have roamed the world and are almost never seen.”
“Accurate in the basics,” Silver nodded. “Without delving into the whole subject of Ho-Oh’s mythology – which would take you years to learn, and even then your knowledge would still be incomplete – you should understand that Ho-Oh possesses a talent that no other species of Pokemon does. When a Pokemon dies, Ho-Oh can bring that Pokemon back to life.”
“How?” Dawn asked.
“Nobody knows,” Silver replied. “Maybe it’s best that way; can you imagine how crowded the world would be without death? But it is an ability that Ho-Oh has. Whether it can be used on humans too, who knows? In all of my research, the only known instances I’ve found where Ho-Oh has brought a Pokemon back to life are Raikou, Entei, and Suicune.”
“I don’t quite see what this has to do with our Dad,” Ash said, frowning.
“Ho-Oh can bring Pokemon back to life because when it dies, it can regenerate itself,” Silver said. “Ho-Oh is unique in that it is the only Pokemon – legendary or not – that does not need to breed to ensure the species survival. With the exceptions of Dialga, Palkia, Giratina, Groudon, Kyogre, and Rayquaza who are immortal, every legendary Pokemon has some counterpart in order to keep the species alive; true, the species may be exceedingly rare to find, but that has only added to their mystique. However Ho-Oh is the lone member of its species, and it is not immortal. To survive it has to regenerate itself.
“But there’s one thing you should both understand. When Ho-Oh revived Raikou, Entei, and Suicune, it gave up a part of its own life energy in order to do so. That is why the legendary trio of beasts are often said to be ruled by Ho-Oh; it brought them back to life, and they contain a part of Ho-Oh inside them. Ho-Oh can’t give its own life to regenerate itself, however.”
“Why not?” Dawn asked.
“Because when Ho-Oh’s life needs to be renewed it can’t use itself,” Ash replied, his eyes fixed on Silver. “If Ho-Oh dies then there is no life left in its own body. Reviving Raikou, Entei, and Suicune took some of Ho-Oh’s own life. If Ho-Oh has no life left, how can it revive itself?”
“You catch on pretty quick,” Silver nodded. “This is mighty complicated stuff; I’m not sure if I’m explaining it well enough, to be honest.”
“So then... for Ho-Oh to be revived it needs some other Pokemon’s life,” Dawn realized.
“That’s it in a nutshell,” Silver confirmed
“Seems kind of... savage,” she said with a shudder. “Ho-Oh steals the life of a Pokemon to keep on living? That’s just like murder.”
“It’s nothing of the kind,” Silver corrected her, looking straight into her eyes. “When Ho-Oh is dying, it does not murder another being. It seeks out another who is also dying and then their two fractured lives meld together to form one whole; Ho-Oh is reborn from that, with the spirit of the deceased beast carried inside it.” Ash started as he realized what Silver was getting at.
“You said that when our father died...” he began, his voice trembling. “At the... the moment of his death... his arm touched Ho-Oh’s wing. And then... then after that happened there was this massive burst of noise and light, and his body disappeared. Does... does that mean...” His voice broke, unable to control the emotion any longer.
“It does,” Silver nodded, struggling to control his own emotions now. Memories of his brother’s death crashed into his consciousness, rising up to the front of his memories and threatening to unleash a flood of tears. Even now, after 15 years, he still remembered it and felt the grief as sorely as if it were the day after.
“It does,” he repeated, winning the fight to control the overwhelming sadness for a little longer at least. “It means that Ho-Oh is your father.”
“Ho-Oh is?” Dawn asked wonderingly. Ash stared, seemingly into space, his mind drifting.
“All those times I saw Ho-Oh,” he whispered. “The end of my first day as a Pokemon Trainer, and then later when it pointed me towards Hoenn, Sinnoh, and eventually the Elite Four challenge... I always thought it was a sign of where I should go next. I- I never thought...”
“He’s been watching out for you, Ash,” Silver said quietly, his eyes sparkling. “He hasn’t forgotten about his son. He still cares... about you.”
“A touching story I’m sure,” a familiar voice sneered, and Ash felt the hairs of his neck stand on end as he turned slowly. Paul stepped from the shadows in front, a satisfied smile on his face. “You moved just as I expected you to,” he continued. “You’re too predictable. It’s almost pathetic. Seize them!” Ash made a move for his belt, but before his hand even came close to the nearest Poke Ball he was tackled roughly to the ground.
Dawn screamed when the two Rocket Grunts burst from the bushes behind them, knocking Ash to the ground. Silver roared and made towards them, but Paul was quicker. In three strides he had reached Dawn, spun her around, and held a serrated knife to her throat, cutting her scream short.
“Do it. I dare you,” he hissed, his eyes glittering dangerously. “One move and her life comes to an end. Do you really want that on your conscience?” Silver stopped, his face torn in agony as he beheld the sight of Ash struggling helplessly on the ground and Dawn’s wide fearful eyes looking imploringly at him. He knew there was no way out of this. Not without risking Dawn’s life, which was a gamble he would not take. His own perhaps, but not hers. Sighing, he lowered his gaze, nodding in defeat.
“You’re outnumbered, Paul,” a voice called, and he twisted his head slightly to see Brock, Rey, May, Max, Drew, Jessie, James, Meowth, Butch, Pikachu, and Wobbuffet standing several feet away. “You and two Grunts against all of us?” Brock continued. “You don’t have a chance, even with Dawn.” Paul smiled, a dangerous leer that spoke of hidden knowledge.
“Two Grunts and myself?” he repeated. There was a rustling sound and thirty Grunts charged out from the surrounding forest. Before Brock could blink, they were completely surrounded. “I think not,” he said softly, thrusting Dawn contemptuously away towards the closest Grunt. He nodded towards the trainers, his voice hard: “Take their Poke Balls and bind them up,” he ordered.
They were helpless, unable to do anything to stop them. Two Grunts went to each trainer, ripping their Pokemon away and throwing the Poke Balls into a container. A surprised Pikachu was flattened by a woman wearing a rubber outfit, and stuffed into a rubber bag by another. They took no chances with Silver, six Grunts cautiously clamping his hands together as they removed a solitary Poke Ball from his waist.
“Just the one Poke Ball?” Paul asked, scanning it to reveal Chikorita inside. “What happened to your Salamence?”
“I told your Grunts when we broke in,” Silver said harshly. “My Salamence was killed by the fall.” He raised his steel chains, jangling them roughly. “I’m the only one worthy of the steel, I suppose. I’m flattered.”
“You won’t be breaking out of those chains,” Paul said with obvious relish. “Those were designed to hold a Latias. And speaking of Latias...” He turned to Ash, still held tightly on the ground as the Grunts picked Poke Ball after Poke Ball from his belt.
“Here it is, sir,” one of the two said suddenly, having scanned a Poke Ball. “Latias is inside this one.” Paul took the Poke Ball from the Grunt, affixing it to his own belt. He nodded to the two holding Ash down and he was hauled upright, spitting dirt out of his mouth angrily.
“It’s over, Ash,” he said softly. “Latias was the last Pokemon we needed, and now I have her.”
“It’s not over,” Ash said defiantly. “You don’t have-”
“Sir, the GS Ball!” another Grunt exclaimed, pulling it out of Ash’s bag and holding it in the air triumphantly. Paul took it reverently, holding it up closely to examine it in what little light was left.
“The GS Ball... for centuries you’ve lain forgotten by even the descendants of those that made you. Isolated... alone... your secrets lost... Then you were found and people tried to unleash the power contained inside, never realizing what it is that you hide. No wonder they were not successful; you were forged in Ho-Oh’s flame, and the power of Ho-Oh protects what you hold. Only one who has read the tome of the last King of Pokelantis would know how to break that powerful protection...” His musings were cut short when he noticed a glint of yellow protruding from a split wrapping in Ash’s bag. He ripped the wrapping away and actually took a step back in shock as he beheld the object.
“The Zap Plate,” he whispered. “So that’s where it went to... and that means we only have one left to get...” James trembled as Paul turned towards him, his eyes flashing. “Get it,” he ordered, pointing to the Rocket closest to the former member.
“With pleasure,” a familiar voice snarled. Cassidy ripped the bag from James’s shoulder and pulled the Insect Plate out in one fluid motion. She handed it out to Paul, locking eyes with Butch as she did so. “I’m surprised, Butch,” she said, shaking her head. “I never would have thought you’d desert Team Rocket for these three losers.”
“Losers?” Jessie snarled. “You and me, one-on-one in swimsuits; that’ll show you who the loser really is!” Surprisingly, Cassidy didn’t rise to the bait, her gaze boring into Butch. He looked back at her unflinchingly.
“You’ve changed, Cassidy,” he said softly. “I don’t know you anymore. What happened to the woman who said ‘I don’t think I can become a murderer; I’ve always hated that arrogant Jessie, but not to the point where I could kill her’?”
“No life is worth more than my own,” Cassidy replied. “And in case you forgot, we take their places if we don’t kill them. Don’t you feel the same?”
“I don’t want to die,” Butch answered, “but I’d rather end my own life than take someone else’s.”
“Enough of this,” Paul said impatiently, dropping the GS Ball into his jacket pocket. “We’re bringing them with us.”
“To headquarters?” a Grunt asked in surprise.
“To the marked clearing,” Paul replied. As they were marched off struggling – Silver strangely quiet – he turned to Ash. “All we needed for our project were Latias, the GS Ball, and two Plates. And you delivered more than we could have hoped.” His eyes glinted. “You’ve lost, Ash,” he said. “Now nothing can stop us, and Cyas will be ours.”
“Cyas?” Ash asked. Paul’s expression did not change, although he was inwardly furious with himself for that slip of the tongue. But then he reconsidered; nobody outside of Team Rocket knew of their goals, and by the time anyone found out it would be too late. So it was with a particular pleasure that he answered.
“Cyas; the Ultimate Pokemon,” he revealed. For a moment Ash’s expression was blank, and he stared after his friends and companions with defeat in his eyes. That was when he realized that they still had a slim hope.
“You’re wrong, Paul,” he breathed. “It isn’t over yet; not until I say it is.” Paul’s eyes hardened. He levelled a punch into Ash’s midsection, doubling the trainer over with a gasp. Groaning in pain, Ash was dragged backwards into the rapidly darkening forest by the two Grunts who held him, Paul following a short distance behind, his eyes clouded.
As they vanished into the shadows, Noland jumped down from a tree and re-crossed the stream, a frown of worry stretching his face taut as he stared after them. His hand slowly drifted down towards his belt; there would be only one way to get them out of this.
Ash raised his head, gritting his teeth in pain. His stomach hurt like hell, and his arms felt like they were being pulled out of their sockets. But he was the only person facing back the way they had come, and so he was the only one able to see it. A satisfied grin spread across his face at the sight of a bright green light shooting into the sky from beyond the treetops, its brilliance amplified by the darkening sky. He had been right.
Help was on the way.
But that was not the only thing he saw. In the far distance a golden glow appeared. It was faint but beautiful, and Ash felt his heart race at the sight of it as it drew slowly nearer. Paul followed his gaze and stopped dead, awe momentarily crossing his face. With a piercing shriek that chilled the blood of every Rocket there, Ho-Oh flew overhead. The legendary Pokemon flew so low that it seemed as if one could almost reach up and touch its feathers. The GS Ball in his pocket seemed to glow hot in a sudden response to the cry, and he felt a shiver as he stared at the night sky.
It was not alone.
Following the Golden One at a much greater altitude was a gleam of silver, night’s stark contrast to Ho-Oh’s day. The legendary Lugia trailed its great adversary, its equal, its opposite, its ally; still in search of its stolen child. The feeling in its heart grew stronger and stronger as it moved into the mountains, passing the stunned humans below. Its child was near; very near. And it would do everything in its formidable power to free it.
Paul watched silently as the two passed by overhead. Awe was on his face, but hatred and fear bubbled in his heart. There was a certain nobility and pride in the two beasts, qualities that he knew he, his father, and his brother would never possess. They were here because of the connection they felt to the other captured and distressed legendary Pokemon, not through his own sheer fortuitous luck; in the case of the Lugia, it was here because it could sense its child, the young Lugia named Silver, was here. Hatred welled even deeper as he caught sight of his greatest rival watching the two legendary Pokemon with an expression akin to the look on his own face.
He despised him for it.
What made Ash, a weak trainer who won through luck instead of strategy, worthy of seeing the legendary Ho-Oh so many times? Why had Ash, a trainer who had lost to him in every battle save the one that mattered most, been fortuitous enough to see every legendary Pokemon when he, a real trainer, had only ever seen them under his father’s orders? How did Ash gain Latias’s trust so much that she would consent to capture when there were far greater trainers she could choose?
He owed Ash a great deal, not least of which being revenge for the Sinnoh League. Tonight, after the ceremony, he would usurp his father’s control. Then Ash would learn what a pitiful being he truly was. His fingers lightly played with the GS Ball in his pocket as he thought and smiled. Just a few more hours and his world would be right again. Just a few more hours...
Giovanni held the ancient book carefully; he had read it numerous times now, preparing himself for what had to be said and done in order to summon Cyas back into the world. Now at last he felt himself ready; the passage was memorized, the legendary Pokemon had been captured, and the stone Plates were almost all accounted for. Now, there was only one thing left to deal with...
“I want my fee,” Hunter J said impatiently, her arms crossed as she gazed down at him from the far side of his desk. “I captured over half of the legendary Pokemon you now possess, stole a fragment of the Soul Dew, and disposed of one your greatest enemies.”
“Silver did in fact live, and he even managed to break into our Headquarters,” Giovanni pointed out. J waved this off.
“It was your Grunts who were negligent in stopping him. I detected no life forms, and it was the responsibility of your Grunts to check his status after I knocked him and his Salamence to the ground. My priority was ensuring that the Moltres was returned to you properly. In any case, his Salamence died in the fall. The guards did not find a Poke Ball with a Salamence in it, correct?”
“They scanned the entire party and there was no Salamence.”
“And I did a scan of the surrounding forest when I was informed by your son; no Salamence showed up on the display.” Giovanni was less than impressed.
“Forgive me, but the scan was conducted with the same technology you used when you searched for life after “killing” Silver, was it not?” he asked. She bristled at the insinuation, but Giovanni ploughed on. “You understand that I may be leery of any results from the scan you conducted.”
“That scan is the sole reason why you now possess the legendary Pokemon I have captured for you,” she answered coldly. “I checked the records; there was an unusual burst of Psychic activity at the exact moment that I probed the dust. Something cloaked their vital signs from my scans.”
“And why would you have not noticed this sudden burst at the time if it was so unusual?” Giovanni asked.
“My scanning device is the most powerful there is,” J replied. “I can attune it to type, meaning a wide spectrum. Or I can attune it a specific Pokemon if I am searching for something specific; a Meowth will radiate a different amount of energy than a Persian, and at a slightly higher frequency as well. I can also choose to attune it to heart-rate, body temperature, and vital signs. When I scanned, it was set to vital signs; since Psychic activity is a completely different plane, it didn’t register.”
“How do you attune it to a specific Pokemon?” Giovanni asked abruptly.
“I input the Pokemon’s name and the scanner limits itself to that specific spectrum,” J said, a little thrown by the sudden tangent in the conversation.
“Can you find a Pokemon by inputting the spectrum?” he asked.
“I could, but there is no need,” J answered. “Every Pokemon is pre-programmed; I only have to search for the name or index number to find the Pokemon I want.”
“What if you are missing a Pokemon?” Giovanni queried, and a taut smile spread across J’s lips.
“Every Pokemon that has been discovered has data recorded into this,” she said. “I can assure you that no Pokemon are missing.”
“Do me a favour,” Giovanni said, turning to his monitor and calling up a file. “Input the spectrum value PSY1001AZ42, and tell me what you find.”
“Nothing that powerful exists,” J said dismissively. “The PSY indicates something in the Psychic spectrum, and the numeric value of 1001 means that the Pokemon is legendary; and I have every legendary Pokemon’s spectrum value memorized. The power of each field only goes up to AZ45, and you’re asking me to search for an AZ42? Celebi and Jirachi both have values of AY44, and the more powerful Deoxys and Cresselia are registered at AZ26. Even Mew only has a value of AZ40. No Psychic Pokemon has a value greater than Mew’s PSY1001AZ40.”
“Humour me,” Giovanni said. J looked at him suspiciously for a moment and then entered the value he had given here. Her goggles whirred momentarily as they processed the information and covered her eyes, and then her vision disappeared as the goggles attuned themselves to the spectrum. Her sight returned almost immediately, although the colours were slightly faded now.
“I suppose that now you want me to scan?” she asked.
“Please,” Giovanni said with a smile. J rolled her eyes – an action hidden by the lenses – and rotated slowly on the spot. As she faced towards the door and into the mountainside there was no change in her vision; exactly as she had expected. But when she faced the window she let out an involuntary gasp. She instantly regretted the moment of apparent weakness, but Giovanni did not seem to care much about it other than to ask “you see it?”
“What... what is that?” she asked.
“That, Hunter J, is the most powerful human-created Pokemon,” he answered.
“Amazing... its spectrum is almost identical to Mew’s; it’s only a hair off,” she murmured.
“That is because it is a clone of Mew,” Giovanni answered. “We call it ‘Mewtwo’.”
“How unoriginal,” she said. Giovanni ignored this.
“We cloned it from the cells of a Mew,” he said. “Unfortunately, our laboratory exploded after several months; we assumed it had died, along with the scientists who created it. As you can see this turned out not to be the case; but it’s fortunate that Mewtwo survived because it will be our final piece of the puzzle.”
“I’m not capturing it,” J said flatly, as she turned her head to look at him. “If that’s what you brought me here for, forget it. My limit is AZ40; anything above that and you’re on your own.”
“I’ll double your entire fee, just for this one Pokemon,” he offered.
“The answer is no, Giovanni.”
“I’ll triple it.” J hesitated.
“I want my full payment plus half for this one Pokemon now,” she said.
“Deal,” Giovanni answered. She turned and looked out the window once more.
“You do realize that this creature is moving in our direction/” she asked. Giovanni nodded.
“I expected it,” he answered. “Legendary Pokemon can sense when other legendaries are in distress. Mewtwo, while cold by its nature, will be unable to resist the pull exacted on it from this distress. I can tell you exactly where Mewtwo is going, because we have made it that way. You won’t even need to search for this Pokemon, J. In fact, if all goes to plan your service won’t even be needed; consider yourself a failsafe.”
“And my fee?” J asked instantly.
“You’ll get it regardless of whether you are needed,” Giovanni answered. There was a bleeping noise on his monitor.
“Expecting a phone call?” J asked.
“Yes, actually,” Giovanni answered, turning to the monitor and clicking the flashing phone icon. “Paul; do you have them.”
“We do,” Paul’s voice answered. “I took Latias, the GS Ball, and the Zap Plate from him.”
“He had the Zap Plate too?” Giovanni asked incredulously.
“Surprisingly yes, and it’s good that he did. Who knows how long we would have had to search before finding it?” Paul said. “One of his companions had the Insect Plate, as Damian and Cassidy reported. That means that we now have everything we need to summon Cyas.”
“Excellent,” Giovanni murmured. “So all we have left to do is wait for Mewtwo and Ho-Oh.”
“Ho-Oh passed overhead only a few minutes ago,” Paul answered. “It was moving in the direction of the clearing we created specifically for the summoning. It wasn’t alone either.”
“What do you mean?” Giovanni asked sharply.
“There was a Lugia flying with it,” Paul said. “It was quite a bit higher, but there was no mistaking it; no other Pokemon captures the light of the moon like it does.”
“Why would a Lugia travel with a Ho-Oh?” his father wondered. “The two are polar opposites; even though the Lugia is undoubtedly attracted to the captured legendary Pokemon just as much as Ho-Oh, it should have travelled a different path. Or so Sebastian said.”
“I think this Lugia may be our little Silver’s parent,” Paul replied. “That’s the only reason I can think of. Its enmity, or its child? No Lugia would choose the former.”
“That’s true enough,” Giovanni muttered.
“There’s more,” Paul said. “You won’t believe who we captured along with Ketchum.”
“Oak? Archie? Maxie? Reggie? Please tell,” Giovanni said, sounding bored now.
“Jessie, James, Meowth, Butch, and Silver,” Paul answered with relish. Giovanni was instantly alert.
“What? All five?”
“Yes; it was quite the surprise. Now all five can be there to witness the creation of their destruction,” Paul said. Giovanni nodded.
“Good; meet us at the clearing. We’re going directly there,” he said. “I’ll give the order to move the legendary Pokemon.”
“They’re all infected?” Paul enquired.
"Half," Giovanni replied, "the rest are either frozen in stone or caged."
“With Sebastian’s variation that doesn’t infect humans?” Paul went on.
“Again, yes,” Giovanni answered, reaching towards the disconnect button. “I’ll meet you at the clearing.” The screen went blank and he turned back to Hunter J. “Ready?” he asked.
“Lead me to the clearing,” J answered. “I want to know the surrounding terrain so that I can pick the best vantage point for Mewtwo.”
Giovanni nodded and stood. He eyed the ancient and near-decrepit book in his hand a moment, but decided that he did not need to bring it with him; the passage was memorized and he knew how the ceremony was conducted. Although he had read the book dozens of times there was one last page he had barely glanced at. But then, it was in an almost illegible handwriting that differed from the rest of the book, and the page was both badly torn and of a different quality of parchment; no doubt some sod’s poor idea of a joke. He dropped the book onto his desk and left the room after Hunter J without giving the text a second glance. He had no need for it now.
And so it was that he never saw the vital information which would have prevented what was to come. Information that could have made him realize what a folly it was to summon Cyas. For what was to come would have astronomical consequences that would not be fully realized for yet another decade. Tonight would be the final challenge for all who would be present – survival.
My name is Sullivan; I was once a knight of the kingdom of Pokelantis. That kingdom is no more. As I write this note, the last vestiges of our small empire are under attack. At any moment the gates will give and we will be overrun. I am desperate to record this last piece of our history so that perhaps one day in the future, what has truly happened would be known and we will earn our places in history.
The king is gone. I was there with a party of knights and casters on the far side of the meadow where it happened; we all saw it. He was pursued by Ho-Oh and tripped. And in that instant he vanished in a violet glow. Ho-Oh flew off and we approached cautiously. The king was gone; in his place was a smooth spherical stone. This device is unlike almost any other in existence. It has the ability to capture objects and hold them inside. We can only surmise that when he fell the King tried to capture Ho-Oh, but found himself imprisoned instead.
We returned the stone to the castle and placed it securely on a pedestal in the lower levels. And it was only a week later when our brethren and closest ally, the kingdom of Pokemopolis, attacked. Why, I do not know. But our defences are crumbling, and I fear death is our only option. Before the King vanished he managed to capture the entity known as Cyas – the creator of our God’s, Durga and Purga – within a magnificent metal sphere that shone in silver and gold. I do not know how this happened; Cyas consumed the King and when that occurred we ran. He cheated death once that night; perhaps it was inevitable that he would not cheat it a second time.
The device Cyas was captured in vanished along with the King. Some of the men have lamented this, claiming we could summon Cyas and use its power to vanquish the forces of Pokemopolis with ease. They are fools. I am the nephew of the man who forged the device. I know how it works, and it would not be controlled by any one man.
Ho-Oh was the King’s greatest enemy. But one day in the midst of an attack, a portion of its flame was caught and kept alive. My uncle imbibed the power of this flame into the device. Ho-Oh therefore has some power over it, and it is by Ho-Oh’s will that the device remains sealed. I believe that the only ways to reopen it would be to capture Ho-Oh or to recreate exactly the conditions in which Cyas was caught; both of which are almost impossible feats.
It is perhaps for the best. There is an ancient legend which states that Cyas may be summoned, but it is only in a situation of absolute desperation where the fate of the world hangs in doubt that one should do so. To do otherwise would provoke Cyas’s rage, and it would destroy the world as vengeance. The King did not understand that. He disregarded the legend and called Cyas to try and control its powers. Folly. Now Cyas is sealed, and if it should ever be unsealed its rage would return. The world would turn to ruin, and all that we hold dear would vanish.
They have broken in; I can hear them now. I must hide this book, the records of the King of Pokelantis, before they discover me and burn the information I hold now. Brothers turned against brothers... I fear that the time of absolute desperation the legend spoke of has begun, cause by Cyas’s untimely summoning and that the world has become unstable because of it. If it has, then only Cyas may repair what damage has been done. But Cyas is locked away, and to unleash it would be to unleash its rage. I am afraid for the future. But I will not be a part of it. The men of Pokemopolis will kill me; of that I have no doubts. My end is nigh, and I welcome it. To avoid what I fear will come... that is indeed a blessing disguised as I curse. I end this now, hoping that one day in a happier future it will be discovered. Read it carefully; all that you see is true. Know what has happened and be prepared for what may yet be to come.
Ash wrestled against his captors with all his might, but the Grunts’ grips on his bound arms were unyielding. He was at least now facing in the direction they were travelling; the Grunts had shown him that courtesy at least. Directly ahead he could see May, her head bowed and her feet dragging. Rage filled him at the sight of her red skinned wrists, the flesh taken away from rubbing against the tight rope bonds. He desired nothing more than to take that rope and throttle the one who had put them all into such a situation.
But then, who would he be throttling? Paul, or himself?
A sick feeling replaced the rage, and he hung his head. It was, after all, himself who had insisted that they travel in this direction. It had been himself who felt so sure that he could outwit Paul’s fiendish mind enough so that they could slip past him. But Paul had read him easily, had anticipated him, had been prepared. It was inevitable that they would meet again; he should have been ready, he had should have been expecting it. If only he had double-guessed himself, instead of being so sure of his initial plan...
If only, if only! He had tried to outsmart Paul and ended up playing right into his plans. He had no one to blame but himself. He should have listened to his friends; they had understood far better than he. But he had gone ahead regardless, and it was because of his stubbornness that they were now trapped. Bitterness overcame the sickness as he realized what his arrogance had gone. Now Paul had the GS Ball, two Plates, and even Latias; poor Latias! What would he use her for? Ash shook his head, trying to fight back tears at the thoughts that overwhelmed him. Paul’s favourite word sprang into his mind, and Ash knew at last that he was worthy of that title.
Pathetic. He didn’t deserve any of his Pokemon after this; not even Pikachu. He didn’t deserve his friendships. Brock, Rey, Dawn, May, Max, Silver... even Jessie, James, and Meowth! He had betrayed them all through his pigheadedness, and now they were all in danger for it.
“You’re wrong, Ash,” Dawn said in a loud clear voice. Startled, he looked up, and his eyes met her firm and steady gaze from several feet in front. To his surprise, he realized that they had stopped at the edge of a large clearing; he had not noticed his feet cease movement.
“It’s obvious enough, what you’re thinking,” Rey said from beside her. “None of this is your fault; you couldn’t have predicted this would happen.”
“I-” he began, but was swiftly cut off by Brock.
“They’re right, Ash,” he said. “We would have been trapped either way; I overheard the two who dragged me talking. There was another large group waiting further down on the riverbank. It was inevitable; we were always going to be caught.”
“Enough yapping,” Cassidy snarled, stalking up to them. “The Boss is coming; get around the circle.”
“What circle?” Drew asked.
“That one,” Cassidy said, pointing into the clearing. “There are stones dotted around the ground in a circle. Spread yourselves out between them.”
“What about us?” one Grunt asked, and Cassidy rolled her eyes as if he was an idiot.
“You’re all going to stand with them,” she said. “What if they try to break loose? Giovanni wants them present – to see the cause of their demise.” She finished the last sentence with a sick leer towards the four former Rockets, all of whom stared back at her boldly and without fear.
“If you want to scare us, you’ll have to better than that,” Jessie said with a brazen yawn. Cassidy bristled, but kept her temper in check.
“Oh, you’ll be scared; no doubt about that,” she contented herself with saying, before walking off. “Staring your death in the face tends to do that to people.”
Hidden away in the forest, beneath a thick clump of ferns, a slight movement could be seen. A passing Weedle in a nearby tree looked down at the plants curiously. What was in there, it wondered. A Caterpie? Another Weedle? There was a massive burst of red light and a gigantic... thing appeared, roaring towards the sky as it erupted from the fronds. The Weedle stared at it a moment, shocked beyond belief, before fainting in terror; it had never seen anything as large or fierce as this creature in its life before.
The Salamence sniffed the air, barely noticing as the Weedle dropped from the tree to the ground at its feet; its master and his companions had gone on a dangerous mission, and it had to be left behind. The Salamence did not like that, but it understood why.
But its master had promised to be back by sunset; now it was nearing midnight, and he still had not returned. The Salamence did not like that either. Something was wrong; its master never broke a promise. Now, it was time to track the master down, and rescue him from danger if need be. It took a great whiff of the air and, somehow, managed to isolate the scent of its master. It was faint, but it was there nonetheless.
An almost wolfish grin spread across the Salamence’s reptilian face. It was time to go hunting.
“I don’t want to die,” Max whispered, the shadow of the young child he still was at heart crossing over his face.
“Neither do I, Max,” May said softly, moving as close to him as the Grunts would permit. “There’s so much more I wanted to see and experience... all the new Pokemon I haven’t seen yet... settling down... starting a family...” She smiled sadly at Ash, and he could barely bring himself to respond.
“I don’t fear death,” Silver murmured, and everyone’s gaze was drawn to his massive figure. “I’ve lived my life, and I doubt I have more than few years left in me anyways.”
“You aren’t that old,” Dawn objected, and Silver laughed, surprising everyone with the noise.
“I’ve lived a hell of a lot more dangerously than anybody else I’d care to name,” he said. “Underneath these clothes my body is scarred beyond belief. I’ve spent almost my entire life secretly battling the Rockets; perhaps it’s right that I die by their hands.”
“Your life isn’t over yet,” Dawn insisted. “None of ours are.”
“I don’t see how dat’s true,” Meowth interjected. “Jessie, James, Butch, Silver and I all have bounties on our heads, tanks to da former Boss. Da way I see it, we got maybe an hour until we’re all killed.”
“That’s not a very positive thing to say!” Dawn snapped. “Maybe you’ve given up, but I haven’t!”
“She’s right,” Rey interrupted. “Or have none of you noticed that Noland isn’t here?”
“Who’s Noland?” one of the surrounding Grunts asked.
“Uhh...” Rey began, looking at the others helplessly.
“Alright, get them into the circle,” Cassidy ordered as she strode back towards them, unwittingly saving Rey from having to answer. “The Boss and that Hunter are here, and the Pokemon will be soon too. Move!”
Without a word, the Grunts hauled their captives away; feisty as ever, Rey managed to sink her teeth into the hand of a Grunt who had accidentally brought it dangerously close to her breast; he yelped and backhanded her in the head with his other hand, momentarily stunning her. Dawn tried to kick one of her captors between the legs but, expecting a move like that, he caught her by the heel and tugged her onto her back.
With a great deal of difficulty, the many Grunts finally managed to drag various members of the group to different locations in between the stone Plates. Ash struggled as hard as he could, but the Grunts held him tightly and he was unable to move anything but his head. He looked to one side and saw his sister glaring almost fearlessly at the two who held her, although he noticed that she was wincing a little from being manoeuvred so violently to that Plate. Beyond her he saw Brock, Butch, Meowth, Rey, Silver, Jessie, Drew, Max, James, Pikachu – still tied securely in the bag – and May on his other side.
The Grunts stood stiffly to attention as 18 people moved past them and continued into the centre of the circle. Once there they turned swiftly and began moving away again, each person moving in a slightly different direction; one person for each Plate, Ash realized. Once there, each person stooped and lifted their Plate into the air; from the colouring, Ash guessed that the Plate the woman nearest him held was the Insect Plate.
Then an almost deathly hush spread across the field. Four people were striding out of the trees, and they passed through the circle of Grunts to stand at the centre of the field. They stood there awhile, discussing something quietly. Then two of them, a tall young man with a sneer across his face and an even taller woman, separated themselves from the other two men and began walking back the way they had come, a path that took them very close to Ash. To his surprise he saw that the people walking towards him were Damian and Hunter J.
“You!” he blurted out after recognizing the lithe Pokemon Hunter. She raised an eyebrow and stopped, turning in his direction.
“Ah,” she said, recognizing him; “it’s you.” A thin smile curled across her lips. “It’s too bad really... I’d hoped to deal with you personally after all the trouble you caused me in Sinnoh. And just think of that strength you’d have! On the road to becoming the Champion! Perhaps you’d have been able to give me a decent match... for once.”
Ash’s eyes flashed and his hand instinctively lunged towards his waist. J laughed. “It’s too bad that Giovanni’s son has already claimed your fate for his own... but at least I’ll be there to watch.”
“You’re sick,” Ash said softly. “You take pleasuring in separating friends, in breaking bonds, in other people’s pain. You are the most twisted person I have ever known, and you will die the way you lived; take my word for that.” Her eyes hardened; for a moment she looked as though she would slap him. Instead she swept past him without further comment, Damian trailing her; although the Grunts would not permit him to turn his head, he felt her glare burning into the back of his skull.
You are in grave trouble, a voice in his head observed. Do you really need to endanger yourself even more against her?
I do what I have to do, he answered. It’s all I can do; if our fates are sealed already, then what difference does it make?
The voice was forestalled from answering by the sounds of heaving grunting and gasping from the winding trail behind. The Grunts holding him turned in curiosity, and he was able to see down the path. Hunter J was gone, vanished into the forest. But something incredibly large was coming towards them.
His heart quailed at the sight. The Palkia that approached was enormous. Even in this dim light, he could tell that its eyes were unfocused, but it moved forwards at a steady pace. Behind it came the Palkia’s greatest enemy; but the Dialga was not moving of its own free will. The legendary Pokemon was completely immobile, its expression of rage frozen in the stone that surrounded its body. No fewer than forty Grunts struggled to move what might have been a statue towards the clearing; had Ash not been familiar with Hunter J’s handiwork, he would have assumed it was nothing but a carving.
And more followed. Some he recognized with a jerk of surprise as being Pokemon he had met personally in his decade of travelling; others he did not, although he was intimately familiar with each of the species. Groudon... Azelf... Zapdos... Heatran... Celebi... His stomach jolted as he found himself staring into the eyes of an Articuno that looked at him pleadingly, and he knew instinctively that it was the one he had defeated in battle against Noland. A great stone Kyogre was carried past, and he saw a relatively small Lugia looking around fearfully as it was carried in a heavily reinforced cage. When it saw him it warbled in recognition, and he realized that it was the baby Silver from the Whirl Islands. Regirock, Regice, and Registeel all passed by next, and he had the eerie feeling that he knew them too.
Then a cry tore from his lips at what he saw; a stone Latios being carried next to a freely moving Latias. He could tell simply by looking into her glazed and unfocused eyes that it was his Latias, the friend Paul had taken from his belt and pocketed. A Grunt pulled her into position behind him, her frozen brother at her side, and he at last recognized the look on her face. There was no doubt. He had seen it there before, and in May’s eyes as well. In the brief time in which they had been separated, Latias had been infected by the variation of the Pokerus that had nearly killed May.
He was so stunned by this realization that he did not notice when the last of the legendary Pokemon left the path and formed around the rest of the group. Giovanni and Paul stood alone at the centre of the clearing; encircling them were the 18 Casters who held the Plates, then his companions held by the Grunts, and finally the legendary Pokemon. The two holding him jerked him back around, forcing him to look towards the centre of the clearing.
If you need help, now would be the time to ask, the voice said in his mind.
Giovanni nodded to Paul, and the young man left the circle, walking past the legendary Pokemon without fear.
Will you really risk that recognition? Ash asked.
“We have the Plates!” Giovanni shouted, his voice booming around the open area. ‘We have the Pokemon! And most important of all, we have the GS Ball!”
You did not recognize me, the voice pointed out.
“Contained inside it is Cyas; the Ultimate Pokemon!” Giovanni roared. “Cyas was captured millennia ago, but every Pokemon will obey its master! I am that master now! Cyas will obey me, and I will use its power to seize control of this world!”
“He really likes the sound of his own voice, doesn’t he?” Jessie said brashly, her voice carrying over even Giovanni’s. His eyes raked across to settle on her; she couldn’t help it. She flinched when his gaze landed. Giovanni’s response was distracted, however, by twin sparks of light appearing in the sky; one gold and one silver. A smile played across his face as they drew nearer and nearer.
“Gold and silver... the GS Ball,” he murmured. “How fitting...” He stooped and placed the GS Ball on the ground, in the dead centre of the clearing. Stepping back, he spread his arms wide and shouted:
“Behold the sky; it is Ho-Oh, the last piece of the puzzle! 400 years ago when this ceremony was last conducted, it was the final arrival; and so it is again!”
Now! Ash cried mentally as violet jets of light shot out from the centre of each stone. They flew over Giovanni’s head and collided exactly above the GS Ball; a mysterious purple aura began draining away from each of the legendary Pokemon that encircled the stones.
A blur of white light shot from nowhere in the sky towards the Grunts on the ground below. Several dived out of the way with cries of panic as the shape of Mewtwo became visible to their eyes.
“So... after all these years we meet again,” Giovanni said casually to the creature as it came to a halt mere feet away from him. “It’s been a long time, Mewtwo.” Mewtwo was taken aback that his former master recalled him, but he did not let it show in his voice.
For too long you have harmed the world around you, the Pokemon snarled. For too long you have meddled, stolen, and destroyed what should not have been touched. I will now do what I should have done the last time we encountered one another; your existence is at an end! He raised a paw, an obsidian sphere forming in the palm. This ends here! he roared, shooting it directly at the man.