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Thread: Final Challenge - Advanceshipping, T

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    This chapter has had to be split because of it's sheer length.

    Chapter 41: Final Challenge (Part Two a)


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    “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.”

    “May...”

    “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!”

    “I...”

    “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.

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    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...

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    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.

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    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.


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    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.”

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    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.

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    “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.
    My fanfictions
    Advanceshipping: Final Challenge
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    Pearlshipping: Searching for Truth
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  2. #77
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    Nov 2007
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    Chapter Forty-One: Final Challenge (Part Two b)

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    The attack dissipated before it reached Giovanni, and Mewtwo gasped as he felt a sudden weakness seize him. His vision began to fade as the colours he saw were replaced by a violet tinge. He fell to his knees, unable to support his own weight.

    What... is... happening..? he moaned.

    “Exactly what I expected to happen,” Giovanni said softly. “You are indeed a legendary Pokemon; and that means you were the last pawn in play, my old friend. Because you appeared here so valiantly this night, the world that you know will be no more. And I will rule over all.”

    He looked away from the fallen Pokemon, satisfied. The jets of light continued to shine from the plates and connect above his head; now, a large orb had formed from the fused energy, an orb that slowly grew larger and larger as the power of the legendary Pokemon surrounding them drained into it. A dull throb was emitted from the swirling violet mass, a sound that quickly escalated into a roar. In the sky above both Ho-Oh and Lugia circled overhead, momentarily out of reach of the power from the orb. But they were legendary Pokemon; they could not resist the plaintive cries of their distressed brethren any longer.

    The Lugia somehow picked out the cries of its distressed child above the roar from the orb. Its heart filled with rage and it let out a chilling screech as it folded its wings and dropped rapidly to the earth. Almost instantly a purple aura began to drain from the beast’s body; unable to sustain its flight, the creature let out a cry of surprise before impacting heavily. A massive cloud of dust spread and when it cleared the parent Lugia was seen unmoving on the earth, its energy still draining away.

    Ho-Oh hesitated; it could not ascend and leave its brethren, but nor could it go lower and risk that immobility and helplessness. The decision was soon taken away. As the orb grew in energy, so did the range of its attraction. Ho-Oh felt the pull on its wings and tried to wheel away, but to no avail. It was trapped by the strength and energy of its brethren, and no force was strong enough to break away from that.

    “At last!” Giovanni shouted triumphantly above the roar of noise as he witnessed the violet light draining away from the Golden One and into the orb. “Ho-Oh’s power has been captured! And now I shall use that power to break the seal on the GS Ball and summon Cyas back to the world!” He seemed to almost cackle in delight at the idea. He stood back, spreading his arms grandly and beginning to recite the ancient words. The dialect was unfamiliar to all who heard it, but they somehow understood it nonetheless. The words sent chills down Ash’s spine, and he felt an incredible sense of foreboding at the recitation.

    From the land and the sea, mine power flows from thee
    From the earth to the sky, the wet and the dry
    I rule land, air, and sea.

    Spirit, will, and thoughts
    Life, death, and dreams
    I come when I am called
    Awakened with a scream.

    When hearts are blackened by power corrupt
    And hatred taints the will of the free
    My energy is used only to disrupt
    Call me in a desperate plea.

    Take with you the strength of my sons and daughters
    And my mortal ties to the earth.
    I require earth, wind, rock, ice, fire, and water
    For this world to give me rebirth.

    But heed me now and heed me well;
    I give and I take away.
    The arm that created your world and your life
    Has the hand that shall take it away.
    Meddle not in the ancient powers
    My wrath cannot be controlled;
    If called before the day my presence is required
    Naught but chaos can unfold.

    If worst comes to worst with the end drawing near
    My rampage causing naught but harm
    There is but one way to stay your fears
    Self-sacrifice stills these arms.


    He repeated the verses several times until, with a blinding glare, the stone Plates glowed a brilliant white. Every Caster yelped in surprise, instinctively letting the Plates go in order to cover their eyes. But the Plates did not fall and break; rather, they levitated a slight distance towards the orb and turned so that their inscriptions faced the violet sphere. Giving the slightest of wriggles, the GS Ball slowly began to rise into the air.

    Giovanni smiled and stepped back as the most ancient of Poke Balls moved into and was enveloped by the now gigantic orb of violet energy. A small prick of white light appeared in the centre of the orb, growing larger in almost miniscule increments. And it was when the light appeared that all hell broke loose.

    With a screech, Silver’s Salamence burst from the trees only a short distance away. It blinked momentarily at the violet light and, seeing its trainer, dived towards him joyfully. Hunter J leapt out from behind a rocky outcrop and trained her weapon on the Salamence. But in the darkness her aim was slightly off, and the burst that would have turned the dragon-type to stone whistled harmlessly past its foreleg.

    The sight of his beloved Pokemon seemed to fill Silver with a hope and heart he had lacked from the moment of their capture. He roared and jerked his hands apart with as much force as he could; to the greatest surprise of every Grunt guarding him, the chains snapped with ease, so great was his strength. They stood there a moment, staring at the freed Silver in fear. Then he sprang into action, swinging the chains that dangled from his wrists with a fury that no Grunt could match. Within two seconds, each one of the six Grunts had been knocked unconscious.

    Everyone stared stunned at the sight of Silver standing there with the six fallen men around him and his Salamence coming in to land at his side. So taken aback were they that nobody noticed the subtle shifting of earth that occurred directly behind Brock, nor the Dugtrio who had popped out of the ground and moved swiftly to one side. But it was a bit more difficult to oversee the Rhydon that erupted out of the ground behind the Dugtrio, its eyes flashing angrily at the sight of the captives and its horn spinning at a rapid pace.

    The Grunts holding Brock let go of his bonds and instantly jumped away to the side, hoping to avoid the behemoth that had appeared so suddenly. Brock himself barely had time to scream before the rock-type was upon him; but instead of attacking him, the Pokemon instead ducked its head and quickly severed the ropes that held his hands together. Brock slumped to the ground in shock as the Rhydon whirled and roared, charging straight towards Dawn. The Grunts holding her did not even wait for it to begin moving before turning and running towards the trees. A jet of water blasted from the undergrowth and knocked one of the men straight back to the waiting Rhydon, who pirouetted and smashed the flying man across the head with its heavy tail. He flew again the opposite direction at a much more rapid pace; but this time there was nothing to halt him save the trees.

    The second Grunt hesitated upon seeing what had happened to his comrade, but was saved further thought by a blast of blue electricity that enveloped his body. He collapsed to the ground, completely paralyzed from the high voltage. Side-by-side, a Golduck and Manectric leapt out from the forest, rushing towards the circle as the Rhydon freed Dawn from her bonds. But by this time, Giovanni and the rest of the Grunts had recovered from their initial shock. Streaks of red light shot into the sky as the Grunts released wave after wave of Pokemon in defence, abandoning their captives and running as a group towards the Pokemon.

    “Pokemon; get them!” Giovanni roared, pointing at the three Pokemon who stood alone within the circle of legendaries. Those that were not caged or frozen in stone began moving, but sluggishly; their energy not yet recovered from the massive effort required to form the orb that called Cyas. The Rhydon was able to take a few steps towards Ash, but before it could move too far it was obstructed by a Zapdos.

    The burst of weak electricity it unleashed did little more than tickle the immune rock-type, but the threat it posed by actually being able to use an attack was enough. If the legendary Pokemon are starting to use their attacks again, that means the orb has drained enough power, Ash realized, thinking furiously. And if the orb doesn’t need their power anymore it must have enough energy built up to sustain itself while it summons Cyas from the GS Ball. But if that’s true, then it means there is no way to stop them; Giovanni and Paul have already won.

    It works both ways! Mewtwo roared, struggling to its feet. With a massive effort, the psychic-type spread his arms wide, throwing off the remnants of the draining aura entirely. Still feeling weak he aimed blinding, forming and shooting off a jet-black orb. It was a lucky shot. The attack blasted into the Articuno’s cage, shattering the bars. With a screech of freedom, the ice-type climbed out of the steel remnants and spread its wings, jumping into the sky. The Articuno wheeled, trying to gain height, and then dropped into a steep dive as a powerful Ice Beam shot from its mouth. The Zapdos screeched in shock and pain as one wing was frozen along with a portion of its back. Awkwardly, the furious electric-type tried to turn cumbersomely and retaliate with a Thunderbolt. Seizing its chance, the Rhydon leapt into the air and dug its toes in deep upon landing. The ground trembled a moment and massive pillars of rock shot skywards, trapping the deranged legendary Pokemon inside.

    “Stay still, stay calm,” a voice said from behind Ash, and he realized that Noland had snuck up behind him during the brief battle between Articuno, Zapdos, and Rhydon. “I signalled for Anabel; all the Frontier Brains and Cynthia are here. They’re attacking from the opposite side right now. Do you have any Pokemon on you?”

    “No, they took them all away,” Ash said, trying not to wince as he felt Noland’s knife begin to scrape against his skin as he cut away at the knots.

    “We’ll have to make do with what we have then,” Noland said grimly. “That Articuno... it’s my friend. I didn’t know it had been captured. Hopefully the legendary Pokemon that Giovanni isn’t controlling will fight by us just like Articuno.”

    “You bet they will!” Brandon roared as he charged past towards the three caged Regi’s. “None of them will stand for being used like that!”

    Ash felt the ropes part and he rubbed his wrists quickly to re-establish circulation. “Well right now it’s only Articuno against all the legendary Pokemon Giovanni is controlling,” Ash said as he ran with Noland towards May. “Unless we can free the other Pokemon in the cages, we have no chance.” Noland nodded, and turned his head back towards his three Pokemon who still stood grouped nearby Dawn.

    “Rhydon, use Flamethrower and Golduck, use Hydro Pump! Break those cage bars!” he ordered before skidding to avoid a wayward Hyper Beam from the Rayquaza and pulling May down with him.

    Ash moved to imitate him, but something hard smashed into his back; with a cry of pain he fell to the ground, tumbling slightly across the grass. His head feeling dizzy, he tried to turn over onto his back and found himself staring into the red and angry eyes of Latias.

    “Lati-” he began, but got no further. She reared back her head, a slightly pinkish sphere forming in between her lips. He couldn’t speak, he couldn’t react, he couldn’t do anything but watch. She launched the attack and he felt the force as it exploded on impact with something mere centimetres from his face.

    Move! Mewtwo roared, dismantling the protective shield he had cast in between the attack and Ash before swooping in and smashing into Latias head-first. She screeched and retaliated by lashing out with her weak arms. Mewtwo winced as the sharp claws pierced his skin, but spun and smashed his tail into her flank. She responded by firing off a Psychic, and Mewtwo responded in kind. Ash watched, dazed, as the two attacks collided feet from him, growing and growing in intensity until the entire world seemed to be filled with the uncompromising and powerful Psychic energy.

    I said move, Mewtwo growled, sparing a minute portion of his energy to broadcast the thought at Ash. Latias seized the moment of distraction and pushed her Psychic to the limits, overwhelming Mewtwo’s defences. He cried out in pain as his body was overwhelmed by the attack; helpless, he could not move of his own volition and Latias used her control over his body to send the Pokemon flying backwards towards the slowly lumbering Palkia. The controller of space saw him coming and raised an arm. Mewtwo had no means to avoid the attack, and Palkia smashed his body into the ground at an incredible force.

    “Mewtwo!” Ash shouted, but there was no response. Latias screeched in victory and returned her attention to Ash. He knew what was coming. An indescribable, seemingly eternal pain blasted through his body and he knew he was going to die, knew that this was all there was, that there was nothing that could end it.

    Through his travels, he had learned an incredible amount about Pokemon and their attacks. Like Max, he knew about the three variations on the move Psychic and the power contained in each. From the pain blasting through him, he knew that Latias had attacked him with the most powerful variation there was; the Stage-3 Psychic of a legendary Pokemon. But it was a pain beyond tha of any Stage-3 that had ever been cast before. For Latias’s natural power and strength had been increased from her exposure to the Pokerus. And now, infected with the Perporus, they had been increased yet again. No Psychic attack cast had ever been as powerful as the one she used now, an unheard of and unprecedented Stage-4.

    He screamed with the pain, a scream that echoed around the clearing and brought a temporary reprieve to the battling between the Pokemon under the control of Giovanni and the ones who fought against them. His scream was filled with a pain that none of them had ever experienced, and knew they never would. It chilled them, unnerved them, struck them where it mattered most; their hearts.

    He screamed for the pain
    He screamed for May and Pikachu
    He screamed for his father
    He screamed for his mother and for Dawn
    He screamed for his friends
    He screamed for the freedom of the Pokemon
    He screamed for Mewtwo
    He screamed for Latias
    He screamed for the fate of the world
    He screamed and screamed until he no longer had a voice, and even then his mouth remained open in silent anguish. His body contorted, his limbs jerking as the pain tortured him.

    From behind red and merciless eyes, Latias watched his suffering indifferently. He was merely an obstacle to her, one that had to be removed. But even behind the effects of the Perporus she could hear his pain; it seemed to echo within her consciousness, and within her heart she felt a strange stirring. Unbidden memories sprang to mind as she watched his suffering. His being pulled along a dark and narrow canal as they avoided a Kabutops and Aerodactyl... waking from a fevered sleep to find him by her side... the joy she felt as she moved into a Poke Ball... the two of them swinging together in a moment of absolute bliss... a kiss under the setting sun...

    She was unaware that her attack against him stopped. She blinked her eyes once, and when they reopened they were alert, clear, and filled with tears. Latias threw off the effects of the Perporus easily in her sorrow, the infection that ran through her blood killed by the simplest and yet greatest of all emotions.

    Her love for him.

    She moved closer to him, her eyes sparkling as she nudged his stiff and prone body. May crept in next to her, taking Ash’s hand and squeezing it tightly. He was still breathing, but it was laboured and painful. Brock ran up next, his hands already digging into his bag as he moved, trying to find something, anything, to alleviate Ash’s pain.

    “This is ridiculous,” Hunter J muttered from the back of her Salamence as it hovered twenty feet of the ground. “Salamence, use Flamethrower; take them all out.” The dragon-type let out a scream and shot the fiery jet of flames towards the small group. Brock and May both looked up and saw the attack bearing down on them. There was no time to react, and even if there had been time no Pokemon they owned could have dispelled that attack. But there was one that could.

    Silver and his Salamence moved in unison; from the moment that they had seen J enemy call out her Pokemon while the rest of the field was halted by Ash’s pain, they had been steadily making their way towards her, Silver on his Salamence’s back. They swooped in between J and her prey, and the Flamethrower was countered by a raging DragonBreath. From that close a range, Silver could feel the heat of the Flamethrower blistering his skin. He knew that Salamence would be okay even this close thanks to its thick scaly skin, but he wasn’t so sure about himself.

    “Full power!” he roared. “Blast that attack away and show her what a real Salamence looks like in battle!” His dragon-type grunted and dug deep, tapping into the furthest reaches of its strength to overcome the power of the Flamethrower. Silver caught a glimpse of blue light out the corner of his eye and ducked his head, avoiding the Ice Beam as the battle between Giovanni’s legendaries and the other Pokemon reconvened, spurned into action by the fight between him and J.

    Salamence screeched, and with a mighty effort the attack was finally blown away. J stared down at them impassively.

    “I thought I killed you before,” she said. “This time I’ll finish the job.”

    “You can try!” Silver jeered. “Salamence! Attack!”

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Jessie, James, Meowth, and Butch ran from one area of the clearing to another, frantically trying to escape from the confused frenzy of battle but being confronted at seemingly every turn by a legendary Pokemon.

    “This is insane!” James shouted, dodging in between a battling Azelf and the Dark Celebi. “How are we supposed to get out of here?”

    “I don’t know, you tell me!” Jessie screamed, taking refuge behind the stone Kyogre.

    “Aren’t you guys used to being blasted off?” Butch asked.

    “Not by a demonically possessed legendary Pokemon!” Jessie retorted, ducking as Raikou’s Thunderbolt flew past her head.

    “Ahhh! Save me!” Meowth shouted, running away in a panic from a Giratina who weaved in the air behind him. His foot encountered a heavy bag lying on the ground and he tripped over it. He groaned as the Giratina swooped inches over his head in pursuit of Cresselia. A small object rolled out of the bag and clinked gently against his cheek. Trembling, Meowth opened his eyes and stared at the small object.

    “Say, what’s dat?” he wondered aloud, reaching out to touch it. The object seemed to explode with red light and he jumped back in sudden fear as it dazzled his retinas.

    “Lade!” the Gallade rasped, flexing its blades in a stretch before abruptly noticing the battle.

    “Well whaddya know,” Meowth smiled. “Lookie what I found.”

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Dawn screamed as the Entei bore down on her, its fangs gleaming with flames. A solid blast of water shot past her head, impacting the Entei on the muzzle and sending it reeling backwards. Empoleon jumped back from the Aqua Jet to stand protectively in front of her, flippers crossed in warning.

    “Empoleon!” she shouted. “But... how?”

    “No need to thank us,” Meowth shouted, dashing past her in Ash’s direction with a veritable horde of Pokemon behind him. “We found all dose Pokee Balls dat were taken away from you; never say da former Team Rocket didn’t do anything for you!”

    “Meowth...” she murmured in surprise before Entei’s snarl caught her attention again. “Okay then Empoleon; use Whirlpool!” she commanded.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Ash opened his eyes groggily. He was surprised he could open them at all, considering the horrific amounts of pain he had just endured. The first thing he noticed was that Latias was staring down at him. The second thing he noticed was that her eyes were clear and filled with remorse.

    “Ash!” May shrieked, throwing her arms around him in the tightest hug he had ever received. “I thought... I thought...”

    “We thought you’d died,” Brock said, putting away several used Potions. “How do you feel?”

    “Like I was hit by a Rhydon,” Ash rasped, his voice hoarse from the screaming. He reciprocated May’s hug tightly and looked at Latias. “Thank you,” he said softly. “Thank you for stopping. I know that you weren’t under your own control when that happened.” Latias cooed, turning her head away. It was obvious enough that despite what Ash said, she blamed herself for not being able to stop the effects of the Perporus sooner.

    “Pika pi!” Pikachu shouted, dodging around a running Grunt and throwing himself towards Ash as fast he could.

    “Pikachu! You got free!” Ash exclaimed, seizing the electric-type and hugging him closely.

    “Pika,” Pikachu nodded, his cheeks sparkling with an incredible amount of electricity.

    “Whoa... where’d all that come from?” Ash asked in disbelief, looking at the electrical output.

    The Plate Pikachu was closest to was the Zap Plate; I recognized it from where I was standing,” May said. “Lt. Surge said it was the traditional inheritance of the Vermillion Gym; maybe it somehow boosted Pikachu’s power?”

    “I hope so... we’ll need every volt of it we can to get out of this,” Ash muttered, looking around the battlefield with a sinking heart. Pokemon were everywhere, whether they were battling, frozen in stone, or immobile on the ground. He saw Brandon running past with Regirock, Regice and Registeel in tow as he charged towards a massive Regigigas. Lucy and Anabel were working in tandem, as they held off Groudon with their Milotic and Metagross, Noland’s Articuno stumbling towards them to help despite one wing being held limply. Noland himself was nowhere to be seen, but Ash let out a shout of joy at the sight of Meowth leading all of his, May’s and Brock’s Pokemon towards them.

    “Guys! You’re all here!” he shouted, finding the energy to get to his feet and run to meet them, carrying Pikachu in his arms.

    “Ash, look out!” May screamed as one of J’s Salamence’s Hyper Beams missed its target of Silver’s Salamence and flew directly towards him. There was a burst of dust as the attack hit the ground and May heard a scream. Her heart stopped as she, Brock, and Latias darted towards the dust, and when it cleared she saw only portions of his hands and legs visible in between blackness. For a moment she feared the worst, but then the darkness shifted slightly and she realized that it was in fact Cynthia.

    “You really need to be more careful than that, Ash!” she scolded, climbing to her feet. “If I hadn’t pushed you away...”

    “Thanks, Cynthia,” he muttered, climbing to his feet sheepishly. “I didn’t see it.”

    “That much is obvious,” she said, brushing the dirt off her black outfit; in the pitch black of night she was almost invisible. Only her long golden hair could be seen. “We’re losing,” she said matter-of-factly. “The legendary Pokemon are powerful, but the ones Giovanni is controlling are even more so. If we don’t figure out a way to stop them soon...”

    “It’s already too late,” Ash said, deflating what little hope remained. “Giovanni only needed the legendary Pokemon to make that purple orb so he could summon Cyas – whatever that is. That stopped taking energy from them ages ago. Giovanni’s succeeded; there’s nothing we can do.”

    “Maybe there is,” Cynthia said, a spark in her eyes. “Giovanni is the key to this whole thing; he’s the one who’s controlling the legendary Pokemon and summoning Cyas. If we take him out...”

    “Then the legendary Pokemon might stop battling, and Cyas might not appear,” Brock realized.

    “Exactly,” Cynthia said. “I’ll take out Giovanni; Ash and May, you two cover me, okay?”

    “What about me?” Brock asked.

    “Find Noland,” she said. “When I saw him last he said that some of the legendary Pokemon had been captured with and were being controlled through Dark Balls. You know what Noland’s like; once he has one project in mind, he won’t stop tinkering around with it. Well he’s still experimenting with Poke Balls and he says he’s found a way to remove the effects of the Dark Ball with something he calls a Pure Ball. Find Noland and help him free any Dark Pokemon you find.”

    “Got it,” Brock nodded, running off almost instantly with his Pokemon in tow.

    “Let’s go,” Cynthia said simply.

    “Do you know where he is?” May asked.

    “He’s under the orb,” Cynthia said, pointing towards the centre of the field.

    “Right,” Ash nodded before turning to his Pokemon. “Guys, go off and help whoever you can against the legendary Pokemon. May and I will be fine with Cynthia and Pikachu.”

    “You too,” May said to her Pokemon. “We’ll be okay; you just do what you can to help everyone out.” The Pokemon all nodded and moved off, leaving Ash, May, Pikachu, and Cynthia alone on the field.

    “Ready to go?” the Champion asked.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Two of the legendary Pokemon had not yet entered the conflict. Ho-Oh and Lugia circled above the field, the former looking for an opportunity to attack Giovanni and the second in desperate search of its child. Lugia scanned the field in a near panic, trying and trying against all odds to spot its child. At last it was able to do so.

    There was one cage that remained unbroken; Noland’s Rhydon and Golduck were desperately trying to get it so they could free the young Lugia inside, but their path was obstructed by a snarling Suicune. Rage blossomed in the Lugia’s heart; nothing would prevent it from rescuing its child, and especially not one of Ho-Oh’s creatures. It dived towards the ground with as much as speed as it dared and then some, moving for the second time that night in a bid to recue its child. The Suicune saw it coming, but too late; the Lugia unleashed a powerful Aeroblast that ripped the air as it travelled. All it took was one hit, and the Suicune went down.

    The Lugia landed heavily next to the cage, trying to nuzzle its child, Silver, through the bars. Joy sprang through its body at their reunion, but confusion reigned as to how the cage could be opened. The Rhydon and Golduck approached, but Lugia hissed dangerously and they backed off quickly; it would not risk any possible harm to its child, not even through one of its own carefully controlled attacks.

    The lock on the cage door suddenly clicked into place and the door creaked open. The Lugia was surprised, but it spared little thought for how it had happened; all that mattered was the one that it cared about most had been freed. The parent Lugia nuzzled its child gently and, after making sure no attacks were heading their way, spread wide its wings and took to the air. Silver followed suit, and the two Lugia climbed high into the sky before turning to look at the battleground below. The parent Lugia spared time for one last parting Aeroblast towards a Rayquaza who dared follow them, and then they vanished into the night.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Mewtwo hovered hidden in the air; his body shook with pain and exhaustion, but he was glad that he had escaped a worse injury from both Latias and Palkia. As he watched the two Lugia fly away, a strange and unfamiliar emotion reflected in his eyes. They had each other, and always would. He had nobody. He was the sole member of his race. What future did he have to look forward to?

    He quickly shook the sentimental thoughts from his head. There was no place for them in this kind of situation. He was pleased that his injuries had not restricted his mental abilities in the least, and that he had been able to free the young Lugia by using that strength to push the lock’s mechanism into place. His gaze returned to the battle below as he began wondering what Pokemon he could attack of help next. Greta’s Medicham being attacked by an Uxie caught his eyes, and he charged downwards to intervene.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The two Salamence’s collided belly-to-belly, their legs scrabbling at the other’s thick hides, trying to gain an advantage. Silver gritted his teeth angrily. His Salamence was slightly smaller and faster in the air, but J had that weapon which turned Pokemon into stone. With every opening she shot a burst at them, and his Salamence was forced to use every ounce of its manoeuvrability to avoid them; it was wearing down quickly, and he knew that this battle had to end soon if he were to win.

    “DragonBreath!” he ordered.

    “Flamethrower!” J retaliated. The two attacks melded and burst apart, sending fragments of green and red flame flying in every which direction.

    “Okay, Salamence, climb and use Dragon Claw!” he shouted.

    “Counter with an Iron Tail,” J said calmly. The two attacks collided, but Silver’s Salamence came off slightly better, halting the Iron Tail with one arm and striking with the other. J’s Salamence let out a cry of surprise and wobbled slightly in the air, falling below them. This was the chance they had been waiting for and Silver seized it.

    “Salamence, grab hold and use Crunch on the neck!” he ordered. J’s eyes widened in surprise, but Silver’s Salamence didn’t hesitate. It lunged downwards and the teeth found purchase along its foes neck scales. J’s Salamence struggled helplessly; in flight its neck acted as a rudder, and with the ability to turn it gone it was unable to fly at all.

    The two Salamence scrabbled against each other but Silver’s kept its head and remained on top, positioning itself so that it was almost straddling the back of J’s dragon-type. His eyes burning ferociously, Silver reached over the side of his Pokemon and grabbed J by the arm. She struggled of course, but for all her cunning she was helpless against his raw strength.

    He pulled her onto the back of his Salamence, ripping her weapon out of her grip as she tried to fight him off. “Hold on,” he growled venomously as his Pokemon rolled in mid-air and delivered two powerful Iron Tails in a row to the back of her Salamence’s head. Its eyes closed lazily and Silver’s Salamence relinquished its grip on the neck. J watched helplessly as her Salamence fell to earth and crashed heavily below. Silver grabbed her by the neck and spun her around so that they were face to face. Her eyes were inches from his, and for the first time in her life they were filled with fear. His held no mercy.

    “I’m no murderer,” he breathed, “but dropping a statue from this high up isn’t murder, is it?”

    “No!” J had time to scream before that fear was permanently etched into her face. Silver raised the weapon and fired.

    “It’s not a bad statue,” he said to his Pokemon as he examined his handiwork, “but it leaves a lot to be desired. The museum would never go for this. He sighed theatrically and tossed the frozen facsimile of the Pokemon Hunter J into the air. He watched as the stone statue that had once been the most feared woman in existence plummeted to earth before finally smashing on the hard ground below.

    “Goodbye, Cousin,” he said softly.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    “There!” Cynthia shouted, pointing as they ducked under the tail of the stone Dialga. May, the last to step under, let out a shriek as the rock seemed to melt away from the Pokemon’s body. Ash and Cynthia both turned and gaped as Dialga stretched and roared its anger to the sky. More of the frozen Pokemon now seemed to rid themselves of the rock, as they began moving across the ground in search of another to battle. Dialga trained its sights on Palkia and shot into the air, moving in to attack. The world seemed to shake at the force of the impact.

    “No need to thank me!” Silver roared as he shot past them on his Salamence. “It’s amazing what this weapon of J’s can do! I twist a knob and all of the frozen Pokemon are unfrozen and battling the Pokemon Giovanni is controlling; how’s that for you!”

    “Silver, you may have just won us this battle!” Cynthia shouted after him as he disappeared into a throng of Grunts battling against Tucker and his Pokemon. “Come on,” she added to Ash and May, “we have to get to Giovanni!” Ash and May nodded before turning and stopping dead.

    Giovanni was now only a few feet away from them; he stood directly beneath the orb which had now lost the majority of its purple colour. The small prick of bright light that had appeared after Giovanni’s recitation had grown; it had now become a massive gleam that seemed to tear out their retinas. It had a decidedly equine shape, and the top of its head was now only inches away from the boundaries of the orb. At the centre of the orb they could still see the faint outline of the GS Ball, a slight shade of grey on the gleaming white. They felt frozen at the sight of it, and Giovanni began to laugh madly at the sight of them.

    “You fools; you can’t stop me! Cyas has been called and nothing can prevent it from coming. In minutes your world will be torn apart and my ambition will be complete! When its head breaches the orb, I will have control of the most powerful Pokemon in existence!”

    “You’ll have to battle with me to prove it true,” Cynthia said with authority, stepping forwards with a Poke Ball in hand. “Do your worst, Giovanni!”

    “My worst?” he repeated with a mad grin. “Why ever not? Nidoking and Tyranitar! Let’s go!”

    “Lucario and Garchomp; Battledance!” Cynthia shouted, releasing her two most powerful Pokemon in the familiar blast of red light. “Ash, May,” she said in a low voice. “You have to get past us; do whatever you can to stop Cyas. We’re almost out of time.”

    “What can we do to stop it?” May asked.

    “Whatever you can,” Cynthia answered. “Attack it with your Pokemon, pull the GS Ball out, just whatever you’re able to.”

    “Right; let’s go May,” Ash said, grabbing her by the hand and pulling her around in a circle towards the opposite side of the orb.

    “Oh no you don’t!” Giovanni grinned. “Nidoking; Horn Drill on the two of them!”

    “Garchomp, Dragon Rush!” Cynthia ordered. The dragon-type launched its attack just in time; it hit the Nidoking with only feet to spare, sending the poison-type reeling backwards. “GO!” Cynthia roared before dancing in close with her Lucario to deliver a devastating Force Palm against Tyranitar.

    Ash pulled May with him back into the darkness, electing to take a slightly longer route in order to avoid being seen by the mad leader of the Rockets. Dialga and Giratina clashed just above their heads, the former having taken care of the tired Palkia. Latios flew past slowly, his body still weak from the revival as he frantically searched for his sister.

    At last they made it around. The top of Cyas’s head was almost brushing against the surface of the orb and Ash knew that they had only seconds left. But they were not alone in their movement towards what would be their destruction.

    “Going somewhere?” Paul’s cold voice rang out, bringing Ash, May, and Pikachu to a halt. They turned to see him standing there, Electivire at his side.

    “You aren’t going to stop us this time, Paul,” Ash said authoritatively. Paul’s eyes seemed to burn with a fire as he stared at his enemy.

    “This time there will be no tie,” he said. “I will use Cyas to destroy your body; but not before I destroy your spirit! Electivire, Thunder!”

    “Pikachu, Thunderbolt!” Ash retaliated, and the two electric attacks collided before fusing and exploding in midair.

    “You have no chance!” Paul shouted, his face as mad as his father’s. “There is no way to stop Cyas!”

    “There’s a way to stop you!” Ash roared, Paul’s words reverberating through his mind. “Pikachu, Volt Tackle!”

    “Electivire, Thunder Punch!” Paul countered. The two Pokemon ran towards each other at full speed, Electivire’s fist gleaming yellow with stored electricity and Pikachu’s entire body covered in a brilliant golden glow that left a trail of sparks behind it. Electivire swung its fist downwards but Pikachu dodged the move, running instead towards Paul. He opened his mouth in shock, but before he could saw a word Pikachu smashed into him. He screamed as the stored electricity in Pikachu’s coat, amplified by his presence to the Zap Plate, coursed through his veins. Ash’s greatest enemy shook and collapsed, unable to move.

    “There is a way to stop Cyas,” Ash said, breathing harshly as he glared down at his fallen enemy. “There’s always a way... There has to be a way...” And then it came to him. Giovanni had unwittingly told them all the method himself. And though the proposition filled him with dread, he knew it was the only option.

    If worst comes to worst with the end drawing near
    My rampage causing naught but harm
    There is but one way to stay your fears
    Self-sacrifice stills these arms.


    He turned to May and grabbed her tightly. Tears coursed down his cheeks and she stood there confused, not understanding what was going through his mind.

    “Ash, what’s wrong?” she asked, patting him awkwardly on the back.

    “Goodbye, May,” he said with as much strength as he could muster, forcing the dampness back. “I’ll never forget you; never.”

    “Ash, what-?” she began, but he had already turned to Pikachu.

    “Take care of her, Pikachu,” he said softly, hugging his best friend close. “Take care of them all for me, okay buddy?”

    “Ash, you’re scaring me! Stop this!” she begged. He turned back to her and kissed her on the lips.

    “I love you,” he whispered, breaking away. “I love you so much.” He looked deeply into her eyes for one last time before wrenching his gaze away and turning to walk towards the last vestige of the orb that held Cyas. There was a screech from above and, with its blazing golden light, Ho-Oh shot down from the sky towards the orb as well.

    It suddenly struck May what Ash intended to do. She stood there dumbly, her mind racing as Giovanni’s words now echoed in her own mind.

    Self-sacrifice stills these arms.

    Ash, NO!” she screamed, leaping after him.

    There was a massive roar and an explosion as Ash and Ho-Oh moved together into the orb; May was thrown painfully backwards from the force, her world tumbling end over end before she hit the ground hard. It seemed to her scrambled mind that the universe was coming to an end. The earth shook, trees were uprooted, and vision failed entirely. The air crackled with energy and strong winds blasted from every direction. There was a scream, a roar, and then there was nothing.

    May crawled painfully to her feet, looking blindly in the direction of the orb. It was gone. Cyas was gone. Ash and Ho-Oh were gone. They were all gone. The scorched and blackened ruins of the GS Ball fell to the ground and rolled to a halt at her feet as Giovanni’s legendary Pokemon looked around in confusion before fleeing en masse, the Perporus wiped entirely from their systems by the death of Cyas. By the death of...

    “No!” May screamed, leaping upright and staggering towards the scorched earth that marked where it had all ended. Her vision failed again, this time from the masses of tears that poured from her eyes. She scrabbled desperately at the black earth, screaming with such agony and loss that it brought tears to all who heard.

    “No! No! Ash! ASH!

    But her only answer was the gently blowing breeze.
    My fanfictions
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  3. #78
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    Nov 2007
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    Epilogue

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Ten years later...

    May looked up from the sink and out of the window, sighing. In the backyard she could see Glaceon and Pikachu curled up together, and both Bulbasaur sleeping nearby. In a distant corner Munchlax was poking its nose inside into the hedge, obviously searching out something to eat, and she caught a brief flash of brown as Noctowl flew past the window.

    Her heart heavy, she returned to the dishes, vainly trying to scrub off a persistent stain. At last giving it up as a bad job she left the pan in to soak, dried her hands, and sat down on the couch to wait. She wasn’t waiting for long. A loud crash echoed from upstairs, and then she heard footsteps thundering down the stairs. She turned just in time to see the figure of her slightly clumsy daughter, Alex, dashing towards the front door.

    “Bye, Mom!” she shouted, wrenching the door open. “I’ve gotta go, I don’t want to be late!”

    “Don’t you at least want some breakfast first?” May called after her receding figure. Alex appeared to have not heard, and May sighed. “She’s as impulsive as her father,” she murmured as Pikachu walked in through the still open door and sprang on to her shoulder, nuzzling her cheek.

    “Well good morning, Pikachu,” she greeted him warmly. “Are you ready to see her off?”

    “Pi!” Pikachu agreed. May returned to the kitchen and wrapped some buttered toast in a napkin before heading to the door.

    “Come on then,” she said, “we may as well go now. I doubt she’ll want to stay at Gary’s lab for too long before leaving. Glaceon!” she called, and the ice type came around the side of the house and fell into step at her side. Closing the door securely behind her, May turned and headed up the path towards the lab. Her thoughts churned as she walked, and she couldn’t help but feel a pit of loneliness in her stomach.

    It had been a gut-wrenching ten years. Since Ash’s death outside Mount Silver, so much had changed. She had carried their daughter for nine months before giving birth. She had felt a little strange for the weeks preceeding the first bulge of her waistline, and had been very surprised when the doctor told her she would be having a child. She hadn't even known she was pregnant, and realized that it must have happened on that night in the Vermillion City Pokemon Centre. She fely slightly teary-eyed every time she recalled the moment of birth; Ash's last gift to her. Thankfully it had been relatively easy.

    But the birth had been shrouded in much sadness. Shortly after the battle ended, May returned to Pallet Town with Brock, Dawn, and Silver. Delia had been very pleased to see them at first, but broke down when Silver told her what had happened, and the truth about what hd happened to her husband - he conveniently neglected to tell her that Dawn was her step-daughter. Distraught at the knowledge, Delia had lost the will to live. She became a shadow of her former self, sunken in grief, not caring if she lived or died. She had held her granddaughter for only a few moments before she died in her hospital bed. Barely two years later, Professor Oak also died. Unlike Delia, his passing was peaceful. He had simply gone to bed one night, claiming he was tired, and not woken up again.

    Latias suffered almost as much as Delia in the year following Ash’s death. She had transformed into her human state after so she could express her grief more freely, but was unable to transform back later. She stayed with May for a time, but never seemed to be able to control her sorrow and guilt. She was often listless, unmoving, and tears never seemed to be far from her eyes. A month after Alex’s birth, she quietly left one morning and did not return. Nobody knew where she had gone. May contacted Lorenzo and Bianca of Alto Mare City several times, but they were never revisited by the legendary Pokemon, although Latios had returned to their greatest surprise. It was only later that Brock revealed to her how Latias’s father had sacrificed himself to save lives, just as Ash had. That in combination with the feelings he suspected Latias had secretly harboured for Ash had cost her deeply, he theorized. It made a vague sense, but May wished she could have at least said goodbye to the legendary Pokemon; she suspected that Latias had gone to Ash’s grave and kept an undetected vigil there ever since.

    It had been a much happier time outside of Pallet. Her brother had won a League and become the Petalburg Gym leader after their father retired. Rey had finally claimed the last three Kanto badges she needed and competed in the Indigo League, where she placed second. Following that she had decided to travel the world on foot, travelling through Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh. Three years ago Rey fell out of touch with all her old friends, although they all tried to contact her frequently; May hoped that wherever she was, she was happy. Brock and Dawn certainly were; Brock had met Holly in a chance encounter at the Viridian City Pokemon Centre. A short time later they had married, and only the next day Dawn and Forrest were also wedded. It was the only time May had ever seen Silver cry, although he’d said it was because, as Dawn’s closest living male relative, he’d had to foot the bill.

    Tears began filling up in her eyes as the memories came back to her, good and bad alike. But forefront among this was the realization that, for the first time in her life, she would be alone. After Ash’s death she had been surrounded by his friends and family, and when they began to disperse she had her daughter to look after. Now Alex was leaving on her own Pokemon journey, and May would be alone in the house.

    “Maybe I should become a Frontier Brain,” she said aloud, surprising Pikachu and Glaceon. “After the Battle Colosseum was rebuilt Scott said that the position was open for me if I wanted it. It’s not too far away from town, and it would give me a chance to get my battle skills back into shape. What do you guys think?”

    “Pika pi!” Pikachu agreed

    “Grai!” Glaceon nodded happily.

    And then Pikachu’s ears twitched.

    “What’s the matter, Pikachu?” May asked, noticing his sudden attentiveness.

    “Pika pi!” Pikachu shouted, pointing behind them. May turned, dropped the toast, and almost fell over. Her body felt frozen at what she saw. It was impossible... It couldn’t be...

    Moving slowly, a Ho-Oh soared overhead, its glittering golden body eschewing a rainbow stream as it moved by. It flew over her and let loose a piercing cry as it passed, a cry that brought tears to her eyes. She felt its eyes following her as it flew directly over her before moving on, heading in the direction of Gary Oak’s lab. And in that one instant, all the doubt and fear that she had over her daughter’s journey was lost. Alex's father was watching over her.

    “Ash...” May whispered. And then, with a blink of her eyelashes, there was a second tremulous cry and it was gone.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Is it just me or did the ending in Chapter 41 seem a bit rushed after all? That despite the fact that it was 25 pages long in a 10pt Times New Roman font on Word... Ah well.

    Thank you all for reading this over the last year. Thank you all so much. I hope that you enjoyed it. I'll take this final moment to drop two pieces of advice:
    1) Never be afraid to write;
    2) Dream out loud.

    Thank you, everyone.
    My fanfictions
    Advanceshipping: Final Challenge
    Pikashipping: Raikou's Test, Emotions
    Pearlshipping: Searching for Truth
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  4. #79
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    why, why did you have to go for the self sacrificing and sad end. Its well writtin, it was intersting right up to then end...BUT WHY!!!!

    Sorry, just not the stlye of endings i prefer

    Just a little bit of critizim, i seriously think the final major battle could hve been more deatailed, a bit more draw out ya know. But appart from that a great finish to a great story

    Its been a pleasure reading your fan fic. Thanks for 41 well written chapters and a very gripping story.

    I look forward to your next fic
    Quote Originally Posted by Romke View Post
    Mmm, its a sandstorm based team and I dont know if spirittomb works well. I keep that 1 in mind Thanks! What about shedinja?

  5. #80
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Norway
    Posts
    326

    Default

    As Caesar said; Why did you have to go for the self sacrificing and sad end?? but I like it nonetheless

    I think the Epilogue could have been longer, but it is great as it is now also

    Thanks for 41 amazing chapters, it has been a pleasure reading your fic
    Without soccer and girls life is wasted!!
    Liverpool, Rosenborg and Rangers is my heart and soul

    | | | | | | |
    Credit to Misty-Fan-Forever for making the banner | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | May/Haruka<3

  6. #81
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    102

    Default

    From before I wrote the first word of this story, Ash was intended to die. I've never seen a fic where he does, and so I aimed to do something that was both ruthless and unforgettable. It was the whole purpose in writing it when I started (althought that later changed as it grew longer and longer in length).

    I considered adding more detail to the battle scene, but the chapter was already 25 pages and I like the state of confusion that was given off; with such a massive battle between every legendary Pokemon, the Grunts, and Ash's companions, it could be nothing less than utterly disorienting.

    Thank you both for reading it.
    My fanfictions
    Advanceshipping: Final Challenge
    Pikashipping: Raikou's Test, Emotions
    Pearlshipping: Searching for Truth
    Other: Reaching Out, Welcome Home

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