Here is the one-shot Shurtugal and I wrote for the Hoenn One-Shot contest! Some content warning before I begin: there is character death, blood and violence (Then again, this is Pokémon we're talking about here...), mild swearing, and quite a bit of human experimentation. If that eeks you out, please don't read. If that doesn't bug you, then carry on, reader! This story placed 7th, but I'm still proud of it for the most part! (There's some parts that I'll definitely rewrite.) This posting is here for everyone's perusal regardless. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as Shurtugal and I enjoyed writing it!
Forty years ago, the world was a different place. A long period of peace was enforced by me, the Great Dragon, Rayquaza.
However, there was a time when Hoenn was nearly annihilated; a time when humans dared to upset the cosmic balance. This was the prelude to a well-known legend that would repeat four decades later. To think it all started with one human's arrogance... it feels obvious looking back on it.
Before then, no human had dared scale my palace. No one even thought of the ancient Legend, and that was the way it should have stayed. Let me retell the tale, so that its lesson may never be forgotten...
At last, what I had been waiting for was right in front of me. I ascended the last of the stairs, eagerly awaiting what I knew was at the peak of the Sky Tower. It would finally be mine, thanks to yours-truly of course.
All that remained between me and my new domain was a door. One great, final door. Its silver surface was emblazoned with an engraved mural depicting the legend I knew by heart. The Great Dragon, Rayquaza, hovered above a desolate land as great storm-gales arced from his body and smote the unworthy residents in his wake. His mighty head was upturned, snubbing the wasted land below and abandoning it to its fate. Instead, his gaze was fixed on a floating continent, verdant and rich with life. Rayquaza's head was leaning towards the continent, submitting himself before the person he gazed upon.
That person, that woman, would soon be me. I would be the one to rule Paradise. As queen, I would cleanse the land like a soon-to be-goddess should.
"It took long enough." I ignored the familiar voice from behind me, knowing that it belonged to my so-called commander, Kyler. I knew he had been growing impatient with me, but I didn't care. I was Rayquaza's chosen disciple, after all. Even the lord of Team Aerial could do nothing without me.
Team Aerial... I clench my teeth every time I think of those idiots. Their foolish dogma that the Great Dragon Rayquaza was the key to ruling the world — bah! What nonsense. The only reason I even put up with that fool of a commander was so I could fulfill the legend. Nothing would matter once I've acquired Paradise for myself. It was my turn to rule.
"Stuff it, Ky." I smirked over my shoulder at the countenance of a rather annoyed Kyler. "I'm the only one who can open this door."
The man's right eye twitched, but his scowl remained. "Just open the door, Natalie." His cold tone failed to mask his ire at having to play second-Nanab to me. Arceus, it felt good to put him in his place for a change. He'd been stepping on me for too damn long. It was my turn to be on top. That bastard would never hurt me or anyone else again.
Because he'd be the first sinner to die.
I reached my hands out towards the door. Just as I knew they would, the doors swung open, as if welcoming me into Paradise itself. Just one final staircase remained.
"Finally!" Kyler shoved me aside and rushed up the stairs ahead of me. "It's mine! Rayquaza shall choose me! Thanks, Natalie! I'll remember you when I'm king!"
That backstabbing little—! Ah, I should have known he'd do that.
I forced a smile down at the Ralts sitting next to me, trying my best to sound confident. "Don't worry, Rio, we'll be okay."
In all honesty, I didn't really think we'd be okay. My parents were murdered before my eyes just hours ago. Rio whined; clearly he could sense my ambivalence on the matter. Stupid damned psychic abilities. If he'd believed me, maybe he'd be confident and calm about this.
The door from behind me burst open and my heart jumped. I couldn't help the shriek that came afterward, either.
I turned around and saw a woman with ruby red hair holding a notepad, looking at me with avid interest. "G-get away from me!"
She laughed. "Little girlie, I am not a threat to you. I am here… to help you."
Those last words struck a nerve. "You killed my parents, and you want to help me?"
The woman gave me a smile — a sinister smile. "Oh, but your parents are still alive! But they're in critical condition right now... Do you know what this means, little girl?" I glared at her warily. "It means if you don't do as we say, we'll let your parents die. You have no choice but to cooperate with us."
Dang it! She's bluffing — or is she?
"So? What's it going to be, darling?"
Rio nudged me with his paw, his brilliant blue eyes reflecting the same fear and hurt I know must be in mine. He grabbed my hand with his paw and put on a strained smile. A surge of guilt panged at my heart. My feeling Pokémon was trying to console me, the trainer.
Rio’s always told me to stay calm no matter what — to be strong even when he could not. As his trainer, I promised to be the calm and collected one. I promised to be strong.
So, one moment later, I told her I'd cooperate. It was okay though — I had a plan.
Ky thinks he can awaken Rayquaza himself? Ha! Rayquaza chose me and me alone. That imposter would not impress the Great Dragon one bit.
With a shrug of indifference, I climbed the last of those imposing granite stairs. As I approached the peak, I changed my vision to aura, sensing ahead for any emotions that I needed to be aware of. Two strong emanations came forth, both from the peak of the Sky Pillar. One was a calm, benevolent gray essence, seeming almost bemused about something. The other was an intensifying red emission of pride and — was that frustration? How funny.
Kyler would be unable to rouse the Pokémon. That right belonged to moi.
Confidence renewed, I reverted my vision back to normal and ascended the staircase. The top of the tower now sprawled before me. In its center was the mighty dragon, Rayquaza. My idiot of a commander was standing before him, attempting to wake the sleeping Pokémon. Of course, the mighty green dragon remained asleep, unresponsive to this dimwit.
"You didn't actually think you'd be able to do it yourself, did you?"
Kyler's face turned blood-red. " You think you're so special, don't you? Fine then! You try it! Let's see you do it better."
I cracked a smile. "I thought you'd never ask."
I slowly walked over to Rayquaza until I could feel his breath against my face. His breath was warm and overbearing — it was quite arousing, let me tell you. In just moments, his power would be mine. All I had to do was wake him up.
Placing my hand gently on his forehead, I went on the tips of my toes to whisper in his ear, "Wake up, Rayquaza, for your chosen is here."
My hand started shaking and Rayquaza's golden rings turned a soft silver color. The entire Sky Tower started shaking, as if Groudon itself had fired an Earthquake at us. Ky began hyperventilating, but I was fine — in fact, I was divine. The earthquake was not a threat, at least not to me.
Rayquaza's rings faded back to yellow. The Great Dragon opened his eyes, his sharp gaze piercing into my soul. It worked. I woke him up. I, his chosen, will ascend to powers greater than even Arceus.
The Great Dragon opened his mouth, and let out a deafening roar. His eyes, ones I found alluring just seconds ago, were now condescending, glaring daggers at me. In spite of myself, I stumbled backwards. Did I do something wrong? Does this mean the legends were... wrong?
No! That was impossible.
Kyler practically jumped out of his shoes at this. It would have been hilarious to watch him squirm had I not been distracted by Rayquaza. The serpent-like dragon uncoiled his body, releasing a burst of moist wind as he unfurled to his full length. Rayquaza hovered just before me, looking anything but obedient.
What have I done? This was not right at all!
I thought back to that fateful day, the day he chose me. This was wrong! All wrong! Why?
Why would he betray me?
"Get your hands off me!"
Squished, I shoved at the human fiends, or whatever they wanted to call themselves, trying to get them off me. My efforts were getting me nowhere.
The woman with the notepad watched, offering me a cold smile as she took notes. I was no longer in my glass chamber. Instead, I was somewhat stuffed in this tube like some stupid lab Rattata. I punched and kicked and flailed and screamed the whole way inside that tube, too, and was shoving like crazy at these stupid Muk-brained humans when they closed the tube on me.
Rio was being restrained in the tube next to mine. I could hear more than see his psychic powers crackling, trying to break his confinements.
One of the scumbags turned to the woman. "Are you sure this will work? No one has ever survived this procedure before."
The woman looked up from her notepad, clearly unamused. "This little girl has the highest aura readings I've ever seen." She gestured over to Rio. "You see her Ralts? It shares a perfect bond with her. Ralts are exotic Pokémon, but despite that, it stays loyal to her— even without a Pokéball! I don't know about you, but that says volumes to me."
Scumbag raised an eyebrow. "So you're basing the success of this highly fatal and risky experiment from the bond of a Pokémon and preteen?"
The woman waved her hand impatiently. "Nonsense! If that doesn't convince you, take a look at her aura readings! Her abilities could match those of an aura guardian! If she doesn't work, no one will."
Scumbag shrugged. "If you say so. Partner, prepare the Green Orb."
Scumbag’s partner walked over and placed the Green Orb somewhere at the back of the test tube. He glanced over at Scumbag. "She's ready to go. Fire 'er up."
The test tube started glowing and shaking. My heart jumped. "W-what's happening? Tell me!"
"Little girlie," the woman exclaimed with false cheer, "do me a favor, eh? Enjoy the ride! It may very well be your last."
Oh, Arceus. Am I going to die?
Flashing lights flooded my vision. The world seemed to be spinning and spinning and spinning. This was it. I was going to die. I was going to die like a stupid Rattata for the amusement of these sick bastards, and there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it.
I faintly remember crying before I blacked out.
I was standing on a floating continent. The sky was a lavish blue, the winds a cool, gentle breeze, the lush green grass sashaying with it ever so slightly. The sun was bright and warm, making the pristine land before me seem like paradise.
I took in a deep breath and sighed. The wind, the sun, the soft green grass — everything was perfect.
The experiment must have failed. I'm dead. Those wretched fiends didn't get what they wanted. In a way, that made dying okay for me. If this was heaven, it wasn't so bad. In fact, if I had to stay here for the rest of my life, I wouldn't mind it in the slightest.
The only thing that set me off was the size: the continent was small. I walked over to the edge to see what lay below me, and what I saw almost made me choke.
Destruction. Death. Debris. And fire — it was everywhere and it consumed everything, like a raging inferno. There were ashes in the air, and bodies scattered all over the place. Pokémon and humans alike had dead bodies torn to shreds; the ground soaked with blood. To call it a nightmare would be the understatement of the century.
It was Hell — and I mean that in every way possible.
I backed up and fell on my bum. As long as I stay on this continent, I should be fine — right? I took a moment to take in the continent before me. Its beauty was enough to calm me down. The hellhole down below won't affect me. I'm above such desolate destruction.
W-what was that?
Descending from the skies was a creature of perfect benevolence. There was no other way to describe it. It had beautiful golden rings, smooth green skin, distinguished yellow eyes, and rippling muscles. It let out another screech, its majestic voice ringing loud and proud.
Its gaze landed on me meaningfully, and then it hit me: it was trying to tell me something!
The Great Dragon flexed its muscles and roared, firing a loose Hyper Beam towards the ground, incinerating everything in its path. The creature wrapped itself around my small continent, with me in the middle. I could see it more closely now, that the dragon didn't have green skin but actual scales. Its head was at level with mine now; its piercing eyes staring directly at me.
It grumbled something softly and touched the top of my head with its snout.
It all started to make sense to me now. The Hyper Beam from earlier was a demonstration of its abilities… of its power.
Somehow, the creature was trying to tell me that it belonged to me, that I was its master. It was asking me what I wanted it to do. It was waiting for my commands!
The heavenly creature let out one, final, majestic roar, and then everything was gone.
I stared in abject horror at the scene before me. The Great Dragon was angry... but why? This was not the way I envisioned it should be. That was when the notion struck me. Rayquaza was angry because he was here. Kyler was the one at fault here. I smiled and nodded, satisfied with my conclusion. Yes, all I needed to do was eliminate the unworthy ones in the way, then Rayquaza would—
Another roar from Rayquaza made me look up at him. He was hovering high above, glaring down at us... no. He was only glaring at Kyler; that much I was sure of. I turned my gaze to my former commander. "Ky, it's time you left. Your presence is angering Rayquaza."
He snorted, his arrogance unwavering. Arceus, what a fool. "Isn't it time you faced the facts, Natalie? You are not the Chosen One. Rayquaza is angry at you. If you want to blame anyone, then blame yourself."
"No Ky, don't you see? This is a test. Rayquaza needs me to prove myself to him." I didn't even try to restrain myself from grinning darkly at him. "You are the perfect sacrifice. I'll give you one more chance: leave, or die."
"Fool!" Kyler drew a Pokéball and glowered back at me. "I am the one who gave you this chance!" He brandished his ball at me, his eyes burning with hate, "Natalie! It's about time you learn your place!"
"Hmph. Are you done?" I drew my own Pokéball, meeting his challenge without hesitation. I've been looking forward to this for so many years. Arceus, the anticipation was almost too much! I unleashed the Pokémon within. "Come, Grumpig! Let's settle this once and for all!"
Kyler released his own Pokémon: a Breloom. "So be it. Consider this your last stand, traitor!"
Didn't he even realize I had the type-advantage? What a stupid, ignorant buffoon. I was ecstatic. All those years of suffering now came to this one fight, and there could be only one victor: me.
When I came to, I was still in that blasted test tube. My head was hurting something fierce, and my vision was still fading to and from unconsciousness. Okay, so maybe I hadn't completely come to yet, but I was working on it.
What the hell had happened? All I remember is being pushed into this tube, and then—
It suddenly came back. The continent, paradise, the destruction, the dragon — everything! That being — the Great Dragon — was trying to reach me. I had to get to it. That Great Dragon chose me to be its master. I had to be there for it — no, him. A powerful creature of such musk and dominance couldn't be female.
A sudden thought struck me out of nowhere: what if that dragon was a dream? Could such a magnificent beast truly exist? Would it really choose me of all people? A giddy little smiled played upon my face; maybe I was special.
"Success! I told you she'd survive. Ha! You owe me ten bucks." And there went my smile. In its place was the most menacing scowl I could manage. That stupid crazy psycho redheaded witch nearly killed me with that retarded experiment.
Scumbag turned towards psychotic notepad lady. "Darling, we both know you weren't serious about that bet. Besides," he made a gestured towards me, "I believe the test subject is awaking."
The ginger's eyes gleamed. "Really? That's — ack! Somebody restrain that Ralts!"
Rio bared his teeth at Scumbag and his partner, preparing an psychic-energy ball at the base of his palms.
Scumbag #2 pulled out this contraption and tackled Rio. Rio gave out a startled cry and started convulsing on the spot. He was being electrified! Rio snarled but eventually collapsed.
I found out the hard way that my test tube was designed to take abuse from literally anything inside of it. I tried punching at it, kicking at it, screaming at it, biting on it, scratching at it, head butting at it, but nope, nothing worked. My poor Ralts got the crap electrified out of him by those scumbags and here I was, the trainer, absolutely useless and powerless to help him.
Something inside of me snapped. A torrent of adrenaline pumped through my veins. I gave the test tube the strongest glare I could muster. To my absolute surprise, the test tube shattered into a bunch of tiny little pieces. Whoa, maybe looks do kill. No aura strength I had was ever able to do that before.
I didn't have much time to be surprised for long; Scumbag and Scumbag #2 diverted their attention from Rio and onto me. Which was fine by mua, 'cuz I was about to kick some scumbag buttocks. This little girlie was pissed, let me tell you! They threatened me with my parents, "restrained" my Pokémon, stuffed me in this ridiculously small tube, and injected me with Arceus-knows-what and they expected me to be their stupid little lab Rattata for them to play with?
Nu-uh, screw that. I was done. Scumbag lunged at me — I assume he didn't punch me because he didn't register me as a threat — and that was his first mistake. Did he really think that fighting the girl with high aura levels was a good idea? I switched into my aura-sight on impulse and anticipated his lunging — already I had a counter, ready before he could react. One knee to the stomach knocked the wind right out of that loser. He crumbled to the ground and I gave him a solid kick in the groin for good measures.
Did I mention that adrenaline-boosted aura temporarily increases the individuals muscle mass? Yeah, my knees and kicks hurt. He wasn't about to get back up any time soon.
Scumbag #2 didn't appreciate me knocking out his scumbag friend because he tried to tackle me from behind. Don't these idiots learn? That didn't work the first time, and it sure as heck wasn't going to work a second time, either.
On reflex, my hands found one of his arms and I picked him up over my head and smashed him into the floor. Did I mention that adrenaline-boosted aura increases an individual’s muscle mass? Yeah, I really meant it, too. I could pick up triple my body weight.
Then again, aura usually takes the wind right out of me, but I hadn't even broken a sweat yet. Whatever they injected me with must have boosted my aura powers or something because I felt like a queen.
"Rio! Are you OK?" I went over and picked up my Ralts, cradling him against my chest. My vision had reverted back to normal naturally, thank Arceus for that — I was too scared to assess him with my aura abilities. All I could do was hope he wasn't dead.
My Ralts stirred. "P-Princess? Are you okay?"
Did my Pokémon just talk? Whoa, I must be high on something, because last time I checked, Pokémon didn't talk. Really, the whole talking thing stunned me speechless, or would have, if what he hadn't just said stunned me into speaking up again. "Princess? You called me Princess? What's up with that?"
I'd never seen my Ralts' face turn so red before. "Y-you can understand me…?"
I waved my hand nonchalantly. "Yeah, yeah, I don't get it either, but yes, I can understand you. And what is up with calling me Princess?"
My Ralts was slowly coming around. "I, um, well, you've always looked like a princess to me, so…"
Now it was my turn to blush. "You really think so?"
Rio smiled, tilting his slightly burnt face to one side. "Of course."
"Oh my, what a show!" Oh my Arceus, how could I forget? Notepad psycho lady witch was still conscious. That was something I planned on fixing quickly. "I hate to interrupt such a wonderful performance, but we've got work to do. Come along now, little girl."
I expected her to be shocked, even frustrated, but instead, all I got was a laugh. Curse her and her stupid laughs. "Yes. I was afraid you would say that. Looks like you're not going to be cooperating easy, are you?"
I crossed my arms. "Nope."
"Then I'm afraid we'll have to do things the hard way." She snapped her fingers, and Rio started growling. A sudden twitch in my brain caused me to pause — my brain only does that when my aura picks up something.
And just like that, I was in aura sight again, but before I could so much as assess the situation, my body was flung into the nearest wall with such a force that I slipped into unconsciousness instantly.
I glowered at Ky, focusing my will and aura. This would be no mere scrap; this was a fight to the death — his death. Though his glare was enough to make little kids cry, I was no such person. This was do or die, and I was more than ready.
"Come at me with all you've got!" I grinned and arched my left hand into a loose fist. I could already feel my aura crackle in my palm as I concentrated, building it up to a palpable, concentrated orb of energy. It'd been a while since I've used my power like this. I'd need to make sure every hit counts.
Kyler pointed a finger at Grumpig, his face red with fury. "Toxic!"
"Bre!" The green Mushroom Pokémon shook its cap, tossing a nasty-looking orb of purple funk out at Grumpig and me. I knew he'd try that. He loved trying to make his enemy suffer.
"I don't think so!" I loosed my own energy-ball at the orb. My blue sphere crashed into the purple one, splattering it like a water-balloon. Idiot. Did he expect me to sit by dumbstruck while such a predictable attack went off?
"So that's how you want to fight? Fine!" The furious man roared indignantly. I just smiled calmly at him in response. I can't tell you enough how damn good it felt to put him in his place.
Kyler wasn't so composed. "Breloom!" Ky next pointed his finger at me. "Kill her!"
I tilted my head mockingly at him. "Oh, really? Just try it!"
At my last words, Grumpig positioned herself between Breloom and me. She glared ferociously at her opponents, eyes aglow with growing psychic energy. I stepped calmly aside from her, not taking my eyes off of Kyler for a moment. My display earned a quizzical stare from Grumpig. I wasn't being stupid, far from it. I knew Ky was the impulsive one; I was simply testing how far he'd take his bluff. Breloom looked puzzled too. It looked back at its trainer, as if questioning its orders. Arceus — Kyler’s Pokémon was almost as dense as he was!
"The hell are you waiting for?" Kyler shoved Breloom forward, making it stumble a little. "I said KILL HER!"
Breloom glanced over its shoulder again, then at me. I could see that it was hesitant to actually strike me, in spite of its orders. It stepped towards me, baring its claws for a punch. I flinched slightly. I guess he was serious after all! That Pokémon was about to attack me directly! I was bluffing quite a lot back there. My aura abilities are comparable to a Lucario's, but I'm still only human. There’s no way I could fight mano-a-mano with Breloom! I was tempted to run, but only a little.
Always stay calm, no matter what.
Instead of turning and running, I stood my ground. I had to stay focused. Weakness would mean death. Breloom Tauros-rushed me, winding up a claw for a strike. I continued to bide my time, willing myself through my fear.
And — now!
I called out to my Pokémon. "Grumpig, Protect!" She leaped into the charging Breloom's path, erecting a bubble of energy. Breloom's eyes went wide and it crashed right into Grumpig's barrier, bouncing backwards and falling on its tail. I took the opportunity to finish charging my aura again.
"What? Hiding behind your Pokémon, Natalie?" Kyler sneered at me. "You're so arrogant. You don't understand your own limits. Maybe you should have thought a little before challenging the likes of me!"
"You can't even touch me, idiot!" I didn't bother to restrain my anger. "Go ahead and bark, you stupid Poochyena!"
Kyler spat on the ground. When he looked back up at me, his expression was like a Mightyena about to eat a Tailow. "You're as good as mine. Breloom! Sludge Bomb!"
"No! Protect!" I ordered. Grumpig tried to throw up her barrier again, but couldn't react in time. She was a moment too slow, and the violet ball of funk splattered onto her. I managed to avoid getting splashed with poison, but poor Grumpig wasn't so lucky. I could see that she'd been poisoned.
Now I was furious. "Psychic!" Grumpig unleashed a violet beam from her hands at Breloom. I took the chance to team up, letting my aura attacks loose at the same time. Our double-attack connected hard, spinning Breloom around and knocking it to the floor. Much better.
Damn! I almost forgot about Rayquaza! I looked up and saw the Great Dragon hovering far above us. He was staring down at us with a rather curious expression. I was at a loss for how to react to this. Was he still angry, or...was he actually amused by our fight?
"Stone Edge!" Kyler commanded.
Double damn! I let my guard down! I acted on instinct, jumping back in an attempt to evade. Grumpig raced to the side, trying to put distance between herself and Breloom. Neither of us were able to avoid the rocks. Several sharp stones burst from the floor, slashing into us. I was knocked from my feet, and I hit the floor hard. Grumpig cried out too. I covered my head as I tried to endure the rain of rocks as they pounded and pierced my body. It took a few moments, but the stones eventually subsided. When they did, I slowly stood to my feet and checked myself over. My clothes had been torn and I was covered in cuts, but somehow, I wasn't severely injured. Grumpig was out cold though, and I was forced to return her.
"How do you like that?" Ky taunted me, "Want to give up? I'll make your death quick if you get on your knees and beg."
“Beg? Not a damn chance!” I drew out another Pokéball. It wasn’t over yet. “Come, Milotic!" The beautiful, serpentine Pokémon emerged from his ball, giving a haunting cry.
"You don't know when to quit, do you?" Kyler sneered. "Perhaps we taught you a little too well!"
I glared in return. "The only thing I learned from you was how much I hate scumbags! Milotic, Brine!" Milotic cried out, sweeping his tail across the floor. Out of nowhere, a huge wave sprang from the floor and slammed into Breloom and Kyler, knocking them both to the floor. An injured Kyler wobbled to his feet, coughing and gasping. Breloom did not get up, though, and a cursing Kyler recalled it.
The look he shot me...it was the most intense fury I have ever seen. I just smiled again, even though it only made Ky angrier. Seeing my arch-nemesis so pissed at me — ha, I couldn't help but savor his ire. I could feel the growing energy-ball in my hand crackle and pulsate. I just needed another moment.
"Grr..." Without another word, he threw his own ball down, unleashing a Salamence. Face still red with rage, he vaulted onto the dragon's back. "Then I'll kill you from the air! To the sky, Salamence!" I noticed that his Pokémon was a strange color. Salamences weren't usually green... I tilted my head at this. Just then, I realized that it must be a rare Pokémon — perhaps even a shiny?
"What should I do? Oh, I'm scared!" I shook my head, throwing up my hands in mock-surrender. "I guess... I'll just have to do this!" Without warning, I unleashed my energy again. Kyler simply dropped lower, dodging my aura sphere easily. He laughed at me, but I foresaw his reaction. My attack was just a decoy.
I nudged Milotic. "Ice Beam!"
The shocked look on Kyler's face was priceless! His dragon reared up, flaring its wings, taking the brunt of the attack. I couldn't see him, but I could hear Kyler swearing profusely.
"Dodge this, traitor! Thunder Fang!" The Salamence roared, baring its fangs and dive-bombing at me. Ky, meanwhile, still had the wild-eyed look of a rabid Zigzagoon. I was only barely able to dodge Salamence's charge, but Milotic wasn't able to react in time. He took an electricity-charged bite full-force, and cried out. He had managed to endure the assault, but he wasn't looking so good.
"No!" I blurted. With Milotic weak now, and Grumpig down for the count, I had my back against the wall. I only had one more Pokémon left, and she was a dragon-type too. A fight with this Salamence would end poorly unless I could strike first.
Well, I did have one other Pokémon, and he was my ultimate Pokémon. If only he were here...
I reached out with my mind to him.
Where are you?
"Little girl, can you hear me?"
Yes, yes, I could hear Notepad Witch perfectly. Not that I was going to tell her that, though. Perhaps if she'd untie me from this blasted chair I'd cooperate... although I probably wouldn't, but hey, who could blame me?
Getting knocked out sucked. My aura adrenaline boosts my muscle mass, not my pain threshold. As if that knockout gas or whatever from the tube wasn't bad enough, they had to get an Alakazam to fling my entire body across the room and into a bloody steel wall. Yeah, my back wanted to kill me right now.
To say I was annoyed would be a huge understatement.
I glared at the Alakazam standing next to her (perhaps if I looked at it hard enough, it'd shatter into a million tiny pieces like my test tube). "Up yours, witch."
She didn't even have the gall to offer me a gasp or even a frown. Just another sinister freakin' smile. "Witch? I've been called many things, but never a witch before. How... amusing."
The Alakazam turned towards her. "Madam, shouldn't we get started?"
Notepad lady grinned. "Don't worry, this shouldn't take too long." She turned to Alakazam. "Grace! Go fetch Kyler for me — quickly now! It is of the utmost importance."
The Alakazam-creature-thing nodded and teleported.
"I don't care what you are going to say. I'm not going to help you, so don't even bother."
Notepad witch ignored me. "Dear, have you ever heard of the legendary Great Dragon?"
Where did that come from? And… the Great Dragon? Could it be the one from my dream? Did she know something about it? I had to find out — but I needed to be subtle about it.
"No, I haven't. What's that got to do with anything, anyway?"
"My dear," she told me, "it has everything to do with everything. It's what Team Aerial stands for! You see, you have been chosen to be a queen!"
Me? A queen? It was to be too good to be true.
I narrowed my eyes. "What do you mean, 'a queen'?"
"What I mean, dear, is that Rayquaza — The Great Dragon — has chosen you to be his master! Only his Chosen could have survived the powers of the Green Orb! With him by your side, the world will be your Cloyster!"
This is unreal. She has to be lying. Or is she? It made sense from what I saw — perhaps she really was telling the truth. And the Green Orb — that's what they injected me with! That's why my aura abilities skyrocketed! Come to think of it, that's probably why I understand Pokémon too!
“You see — here you are! Just as the ancient scrolls foretold.” She held up a worn and tattered piece of parchment. It depicted a person standing on a continent, with Rayquaza gazing towards them, submitting his power. That person… it looked like me! “Only his Chosen and the Green Orb together can control the Great Dragon. You will be queen, and Kyler — he will be king! Together, the two of you and Team Aerial will bring fourth an age of Paradise!”
Yeah... these people are insane. However, I could use that to my advantage. She certainly wasn't lying about Rayquaza choosing me, and if I went along with Team Aerial long enough… I really would become a queen. All I had to do was play along.
"I'm back!" The Alakazam had teleported back with some scrawny little kid with auburn brown hair. The kid couldn't be older than I was.
When the kid spoke, it was full of confidence. "Sorry I'm late, Mom. Did I miss anything?"
She smiled warmly at him. "Not much, Ky. I was just telling our little Natalie here about the Great Dragon."
Kyler frowned. "Is she — is she the Chosen One?"
"She most certainly is! The two of you together will usher Team Aerial into an era of Paradise! Isn't it wonderful, son?"
He glared at me. "Yes it is, Mama."
She turned to me. "Natalie, I assume you will cooperate this time?"
Like I had a choice! "Yes. I'll cooperate."
I cannot give in to fear! This battle is not over, not yet!
I debated switching out Milotic, but that damned Kyler made the choice for me by dive-bombing us again. Milotic looked up and tried to counter with an Ice Beam. He narrowly missed and was thrown back against the floor. He didn't get up, and I returned him to his ball. I was still plenty angry, but I was also starting to worry a bit.
"Flygon! Go!" I unleashed my last available Pokémon.
"You’re dead, traitor!" Ky barked. "Take this! Dragon Breath!" His Salamence roared and gaped, a blue energy crackling between its fangs.
This could be a problem. If that hit Flygon, she'd be a sitting Ducklett! I had to think fast. "Flygon! Fly away!" The Mystic Pokémon took off, barely dodging a torrent of blue flames.
"You stupid girl." Kyler blurted.
"That's some big talk coming from a little man," I replied swiftly.
He gritted his teeth and pointed. "Twister! Take that thing out!"
What a stupid move. Flygon had superior speed, and she was descending fast: she'd hit first. Flygon slammed directly into Salamence, making the dragon cringe in pain. The Dragon Pokémon growled at me, circling like a Mandibuzz over a fresh kill. Pokémon and trainer alike both wore a malicious grin. My face fell as a terrible notion crossed my mind: it wasn't aiming for Flygon.
It was aiming for me!
The Salamence whirled faster and faster, and white waves of energy began to swirl about, descending on me in a tornado of draconic force. It almost looked like Kyler was laughing at me from his lofty perch. As for me, I had no time to call Flygon back to protect me.
Instead, I reacted on instinct, redirecting my aura-ball into a barrier. I braced my power against the ever-growing wall of energy, struggling to keep my footing. All I could hear was the roar of wind and the cries of the attacking Pokémon. The force of the cyclone grew fiercer still, and I could feel my shoes sliding along the stone. I struggled to will my barrier against the storm. It was a losing fight, and I could feel my barricade weakening.
My power — it wasn't enough!
No! I cannot die, not yet! Come on! Focus, dammit!
"Is that all?" I only faintly made out Ky's taunt as I scrunched my eyes shut against the maelstrom, "What a shame. Here, I thought our aura-girl would put up a better fight than this. Bah, I had my hopes up and everything!"
I lifted my head, squinting against the wind in resistance. I was losing, but I wasn't about to let this bastard know it! Kyler smirked at me, looking for all the world like the Delcatty that got the Wingull. That arrogant little son-of-a-Muk was beaming. My response was to grit my teeth and glare. "Go to hell!"
"Ladies first," he mocked, making an exaggerated gesture in my direction. "Salamence, finish her!"
The dragon tossed its head and tucked its wings, spiraling around faster and faster around me. I steeled my will and fought, but it wasn't enough anymore. I leaned into the wind, struggling to defy what I knew was coming. I sensed a sudden snap, like a tight rubber band breaking, and I instantly knew what that meant.
My force field finally gave out. I was now facing the full, unhindered wrath of a raging dragon. I screamed in spite of myself as my legs were swept out from beneath me. The world spun in crazy directions as I was sucked into the sky. Closing my eyes again, I could only prepare for the inevitable.
Please forgive me.
I knew what awaited me. Wind whipping around me, I prepared myself for death. Agonizing moments that felt like hours passed.
But nothing happened?
Something was weird here. When you fall, don't you hit the ground eventually?
I opened my eyes, suddenly aware that I was no longer falling. What I saw made me gasp in shock. I was upside-down, mere inches from a devastating crash into the rooftop of the Sky Tower. A violet-colored sheet of energy had formed beneath me, and it had stopped me in mid-air! I was so dazed that I couldn't even fathom what happened. Before I could gather my wits, I could feel my body being lowered to the ground, as gently as a feather. The energy slowly faded as I landed. All I could do was lie there, catching my breath and trying to slow my pounding heart.
That voice! I could recognize it from anywhere! Sure enough, I could see its owner peering down at me, his silhouette looming over me like a concerned parent. I smiled, chuckling through my anxiety. The Gardevoir hovered just above me, his distinct, black cloak flowing behind him like a wing.
"R-Rio..." I wasn't even sure he could hear my whisper. He looked down at me, and the expression in his eyes told me that I was indeed right.
My partner was back.
"Rio?" If there was any doubt earlier, it was eradicated. This was Rio! "Why are you here? I told you to stay behind!"
"I couldn't leave you, not now. I've decided to follow you to the end, whichever end that may be." The Gardevoir's eyes showed an unshakable will, one that I knew better than to challenge.
Years had passed since the day of my awakening; several long, hellish years spent under the thumb of Team Aerial. My innocence was lost forever to hardship, and I'd grown from a timid little girl into a cold, battle-hardened woman.
I wasn't the only one who changed. My team had become developed as well. Even Rio was mature. He'd evolved since then and he was now a Gardevoir.
"You can't trust them!" He snarled.
I snapped. "Rio, I do not trust them, and you know it!"
Arceus, I hated when we argued. Yet here we were. Rio and I finally collected the eight GYM badges of Hoenn, just as we promised Team Aerial. Apparently, the GYM badges were required to open the way to Sky Tower. The moment of my coronation was coming soon, and Rio was getting restless.
"You believe this legendary dragon is really going to listen to you? Obey your every command?"
My voice got louder. "I trust them on that because I saw it with my own two eyes, Rio!"
"No buts, Rio. This isn't up for discussion."
Rio glanced up at me, his eyes sparkling. Shucks, I really didn't want to make him upset. "Rio, I don't trust Team Aerial either, but it's okay because I'm using them. As soon as I awaken Rayquaza, I'll become Queen of the World, and I'll put Team Aerial in their rightful place!"
Rio put an arm around my shoulders. "I just don't want them to hurt you, Princess…"
"Don't worry about me. I'm strong. I'll be fine."
"It's when you tell me not to worry when I worry about you the most…"
I smiled and hugged him. "I love you too."
"Oh, how damn cute. I was wondering when that thing would show up."
I sat up, glaring at Kyler. "You don't stand a chance! Rio! Are you ready?"
"I'm ready when you are!"
"Then it's time to Mega Evolve!" I raised my right hand where the Mega Bangle sat, pressing the button on its front. Instantly, Rio was surrounded by a white glow, and he floated into the air. "Hurry, Flygon! Dragon Claw!"
"NO!" Ky smacked Salamence in the back of its head, "Roost, dammit, Roost!" The dragon landed on the tower, with a furious Flygon hot on its tail. Flygon caught up first, clawing Salamence's back. Kyler jumped from Salamence as it fell the last few feet onto the rooftop.
"You insubordinate little — AARGH!" Kyler withdrew his injured Salamence. "I HATE YOU!"
I shrugged nonchalantly. "Ready to die?"
"You first!" He growled, drawing another Pokéball. "Glalie!"
"Is it my turn?"
I looked behind me, seeing that Rio had finished transforming. He was floating in mid-air, glaring defiantly at Kyler. I nodded in response, keeping a careful eye on that Glalie.
"Finish that dragon! Blizzard!" The Glalie growled, firing a stream of super-chilled snow at Flygon.
"Damn!" I swore, recalling my fainted Flygon as she fell. "Rio, Moonblast!" I ordered.
Rio's eyes glowed pink, and he raised his hands to the sky. With a flourish, he released a pink beam of lunar energy at the Glalie, knocking it into Kyler. The crash caused both of them to stumble. Kyler toppled over the wall, taking his hapless Pokémon with him. I gasped and blinked in shock. As angry as I was with Kyler, I'd never actually killed anyone before. Legs shaking, I walked over to the tower's edge. To my surprise, Kyler was clinging onto the edge of the tower, giving me the mother of all evil-eyes. His Glalie was pushing up on his butt, trying to boost its master up over the wall.
Was this what I really wanted?
Always stay calm, no matter what.
Gathering my composure, I glared down at my nemesis. "It ends here!"
"You got that right!" Ky narrowed his eyes at me, a sadistic gleam on his face. "If I go down, I'm taking you with me!" That was when I realized that the Green Orb was in his right hand.
My eyes went wide. "Don't you dare!" I demanded. "If you break it, Rayquaza will go berserk!"
If the Green Orb shattered, Rayquaza’s sanity would slowly be destroyed!
“If I can't be king, nobody can! Prepare to die at the paws of your so-called god!" His smile grew more twisted, "I'll see you in hell!" At those last words, he let go of the wall, knocking a panicked Glalie into the wall. Glalie chattered again and dove after its trainer. For a brief moment, I debated telling Rio to save Ky. If he broke the Orb, Rayquaza would surely fly into a rage!
But it would mean sparing this monster his well-earned death.
And if I didn't, Rayquaza would—!
It was too late to act. Kyler's tumbling body disappeared beneath the clouds.
"N-no..." I sunk to my knees. I should have been happy; my enemy was no more. He'd never get the chance to hurt anyone ever again.
But not at this price!
"He deserved it," Rio was glacial in his response. "Don't waste your feelings on him."
I looked up at Rio, swallowing hard. "He had the Green Orb, Rio."
"What!" Rio's earlier confidence burst like a bubble, leaving the Gardevoir with a horror-stricken expression.
Both of us exchanged looks. Trembling, I looked back up at the Great Dragon and gasped in fright. Lightning-bolts sparked from his body, arcing nearby with deafening thunderclaps. The once gentle dragon was now an angry monster, all because Kyler broke the Green Orb. What was he hoping to accomplish by infuriating Rayquaza? Maybe he simply wanted to take me down at all cost, even if it meant all this destruction. Whatever the reason, I was now faced with the daunting task of calming a berserk Pokémon.
Wait a second. All this violence and devastation was familiar somehow...
The vision I had so many years ago came to my mind all of a sudden. Ravaged land...a floating continent...paradise...no! That dream wasn't about paradise at all!
It was a warning!
The dream I sought was now a nightmare. Overwhelmed with guilt, I stared at my hands: the hands of a murderer. I had brought about Armageddon...
I needed to focus. This was no time to wallow in self-pity.
Always stay calm, no matter what.
I balled my fists and stood, my resolve renewed. "Rio, we need to stop Rayquaza!"
He tilted his head at me. "I don't disagree, but how are we going to do that?"
How, indeed. This was the Great Dragon we were talking about for Arceus' sake! "I don't have an answer, Rio...but we have to do something!"
The day I’d been waiting for had finally come. First, I'd claim my place as the herald of Paradise, then, the fun part: crushing Team Aerial.
But the hardest part was saying goodbye.
"Rio, I'm sorry, but I can't take you."
"Princess!" He stared directly into my eyes, his haunting, red eyes completely enrapturing my own.
"I'm sorry," I gently patted his hair. "It's not your fault. I must face Rayquaza. This is my destiny."
"That's the problem!" Rio pulled out of my grasp, shaking his head in frustration. "I had a vision last night, Natalie. If you go, you'll —! I have to stop you!"
"No." Arceus, it hurt to be so firm with him, especially since I knew just what this journey would bring about.
Rio fell quiet, averting his eyes and staring at the floor. I didn't need my aura-senses to see how hurt he was. The poor guy only had my best interests at heart.
"Princess, please don't go! It's not —"
I grabbed Rio by the chin and lifted his face to meet mine. "Rio. I don’t want you to get hurt."
"That's stupid! You're hurting me now!"
A long, awkward moment of silence fell between us as the frustrated Pokémon balled his fists. Collapsing into my shoulder, he started crying anew. It broke my heart to see him like this, but I knew what I had to do. As I tried to comfort my favorite Pokémon, I wondered how I could possibly console him. A small idea struck me then, and I pulled back from the Embrace Pokémon.
"Rio," I put a hand on his shoulder, unclasping a cloak from my shoulders, "This is for you."
"I can't wear that!" Rio shook his head, pushing my hand away. "That's yours!"
"It has no meaning to me, save that you liked it. I think it looks better on you anyway." I put the garment on him, smiling at the thought. This was the cloak that Kyler gave me two years ago. He'd said it meant that I was officially a part of Team Aerial. Rio had told me that he thought I actually looked like royalty in it, and that was the one reason I kept wearing the thing. I thought the notion was appropriate, considering my fate.
"I swear I'll be back. I’ll always be strong for you. Let this cloak remind you of my promise."