For over two thousand years, the great shadow had waited in silence to be freed from its prison. Its six red claws lashed outwards, its red eyes glowing with long-dulled malice. The beast surveyed the world of chaos around him with distaste. "Aluxiver..." he seethed as he had done so for so many centuries. "Human and Pokemon, together..."
He gazed upon the massive vortex of shadows that swirled in the depths. So vast and empty was this cold, black world that he knew not whether this was a prison or an exile. Dark tendrils struck out furiously as he recalled that legendary battle, the warrior with the shining blade and the Pokemon who stood by his side. The eyes burned with fury. Two millenia of imprisonment had done little to calm his desire for vengeance which had festered for so long in his heart...
Across time and space, in the world of Reality, a humanoid creature wearing a dark cloak walked up the stone steps of the sacred shrine known as the Spear Pillar, the old weathered temple which adorned the uppermost sacred mountain of Mount Coronet. The creature clutched a bronze staff covered in engraved runes with a glowing red crystal embedded in the staff's tip, his other hand clutching a pair of small bells, one of gold and one of silver.
The being released his grip on the bronze staff as he strode towards the stone-carved mural depicting the Origin of Sinnoh myths engraved upon the temple's ancient surface, allowing the stave to clatter to the floor behind him. He gazed upon the massive weathered monolith of natural stone looming up before him as he lowered himself onto one knee.
His eyes flicked to each and every crack and nook and cranny in the rock wall, tracing out the faded etchings of an diamond divided into eight sectors, its right and left corners the most clearly defined part of its design.
Still kneeling, he bowed his head respectfully towards the ancient symbol, and held up the bells high in either hand to bring them level with the center of the diamond. Reaching out with a tendril of power to fetch his staff, the figure began to recite the the ancient legend:
"The Exile takes up his rightful throne,
His other self dead and himself alone.
Darkness unites two worlds together,
And all the earth is changed forever."
As the figure completed his incantation, he leapt to hs feet and flung both bells high into the air, the outline of the eight-piece diamond beginning to glow with violet light. Throwing his cloak aside, the figure snatched his staff out of the air from behind him and swung it in a wide arc above him to smash through the two bells.
First came the crystal-clear bell tinted with gold, then the seashell-like bell glittering witih silver; the bells shrieked out their final ring as they shattered into dust. At once, the entire diamond began to glow with a bloody crimson light, rapidly growing in intensity until the entire diamond shattered in a flash of ghastly violet light.
Shards of stone exploded in every direction from rock slab, leaving behind a perfectly cut diamond-shaped tunnel which reached far into the depths of infinity. Within the passageway was a world of chaos, and infinite space in all directions. Mountains and rivers collided with each other, falling away from a nonexistent ground.
Far below this world was a massive, swirling vortex of shadows into which all the landmasses and oceans were drawn. It hungrily engulfed floating cliffs and hills, plateaus and waterfalls. Dead plants which did not exist were ripped apart in the ferocity of the Void's power.
"So... you kept your end of the bargain," hissed a cruel, sinister voice which could rend apart cities and raze towns in an instant- such was the sharpness of its cruelty. The creature raised his gaze towards the center of this massive portal into the Distortion World.
A fearsome dragon wearing a golden helm of war, with two malicious eyes which seemed to pierce the cloaked figure's soul, with six massive crimson spikes protruding from the tips of six thick black tentacles that emerged from its back. The body of the dragon was like a gray serpent's, with glowing red bands of light. Three pairs of thick golden spikes protruded from the dragon's sides along the lower section of its body.
As the dragon and its terrible crimson eyes passed through the portal and emerged in the world of reality, each of the six golden spikes cracked and split in uniform patterns, revealing six massive gray legs. Three thick black tentacles came together on either side, intertwining with each other to form two massive black wings, wings that could blot out the sun with a single sweep. Only the glowing red eyes did not change, for they remained as malignant and hateful as ever.
The shadow stretched, twisting its neck, legs, and wings. It turned its eyes upon the creature who groveled before it, whimpering pitifully. "Be silent!" hissed the great darkness. The creature froze. "Humans... humans think the wilderness is theirs to control. I shall purge the corruption of mankind from the planet... and you shall be my lieutenant!"
Chapter 1: Slick
Slick and the Raichu emerged from Mount Coronet, squinting in the sunlight. The Trainer wore a tan-and-blue jacket and a red shirt, a bulging knapsack on his shoulders. On Slick's belt hung six red-and-white capsules, his Poke Balls. There was Slick's Lucario, Swampert, Skarmory, Umbreon, and Leafeon. His Raichu, of course, was the sixth member of Slick's team.
Seven years had passed since that fateful day in Viridian City, when Slick first began his Pokemon journey-- Slick, who was now an Elite in the Hoenn Pokemon League, and four months into his private tour of the Sinnoh region. Standing near the cave's entrance, Slick looked towards the city on the far side of the valley.
"We should reach Hearthome City by nightfall," said the Trainer, returning the Raichu to his Poke Ball with the click of a button and a flash of light. "We'll freshen up, then hit the gym, all right?" Listening to the faint murmurs of approval from the Poke Balls on his belt, Slick set off down Route 216 and towards the city that was known as the "heart of Sinnoh".
From the moment that Slick arrived in Hearthome, he was surrounded by people with Solrocks at their side in celebration of the summer solstice. As Slick passed the fence that marked Hearthome's boundaries, a man immediately ran up to him.
"Hello, I'm visiting from the Hoenn region," said the man, grabbing Slick by the shoulder. "I had been hoping to find the Contest hall, but being new, I lost my way. Fortunately, the locals very kindly led me to my destination. I was impressed by the kindness and generosity to a complete stranger. Now, may I offer you the courtesy of showing you to the Contest Hall?"
Slick was taken aback. "Uh, I'm not going to the Contest Hall," said the Trainer, frowning at the man. "I'm actually looking for this city's gym. I don't suppose you know where that is?"
The man immediately looked apologetic. "Oh, in that case, I'm sorry, I should mind my own buisness," he said quickly, pressing a little box into Slick's hand. "As a welcoming gift, take this music box; I have no more need for it!" Before the Trainer could stop him, he turned and ran off down the street.
Slick stared down at the music box, then put it in his bag. "What's the point of coming to Sinnoh for the Contest Hall if you come from Hoenn?" muttered the Trainer as he continued on. "Stupid unhelpful tour guides..."
Inside, Hearthome City's training gym was pitch-black. "What's it with people and training in complete darkness?" muttered Slick, squinting into the shadows. It's like Brawly back in Dewford, only even harder to see..."
A voice next to him spoke up. "Hey, trainer, if you want to train here, you've gotta have an inner light like everyone else," said the gym attendant from behind SLick. See, if you wanna challenge someone, you've gotta master the darkness and shine through. Like this!"
"Agh! Don't do that!" protested Slick as the gym attendant whipped out a high-powered flashlight, pointing it straight at his eyes. "Could you aim that... elsewhere--"
Not lowering the flashlight, the person explained, "Well, those are the rules of this gym. This gym specializes in ghost-types, and dark beats ghost, so you must master the darkness in order to succeed, see?"
Slick groaned. "What? If you don't like this gym's rules, take it up with our leader Fantina," said the person, shrugging.
Eyes still filled with stars, Slick, put a hand over the gym attendant's flashlight. "And where is she, anyway?" asked the Trainer, glancing around. "Ugh. Maybe I should come back--"
The gym attendant cut him off. "Oh, you're a challenger, are you?" said the man, pressing the flashlight into Slick's hand. "Well, if you want to challenge anyone, you should take this!"
Slick stared at the flashlight, then flicked it off, removed the batteries, and handed it back. "Yeah, I don't need a flashlight," he said without looking back, reaching for his Umbreon's Poke Ball as he moved further into the gym.
He moved through the gym cautiously, one hand on his Umbreon's tail, eyes tracking the subtle glow of the golden rings on his Pokemon's fur. He found the gym's skull-maze irritating; obnoxious, perhaps, but not frightening. There were no wild Pokemon lurking in the shadows, and the Trainers were sparse, too easy to defeat. Had the gyms in Hoenn and Kanto really been like this before the regulation changes? It'd been a while since he'd been back home...
"Congrats, you're one step closer to finding Fantina!" exclaimed another trainer as Slick's Umbreon stood triumphant over the opponent's Gastly. "But you still need to face two more of us to get the location of the skulls with the combination key. And you'll never guess where they are, haha!"
Slick sighed. "I'm not trying to challenge Fantina, I'm just trying to do some training," repeated Slick, growing exapserated. "I told you all already, you don't need to hide away from me, I just want to get some..." He trailed off. "You're not there anymore, are you. I'm talking to myself."
"Surely... you do not think yourself greater than I, no?" called Fantina's voice from the shadows as Slick stumbled into the last room. "Ah, but if that is that and you believe that you believe that... your challenge, I accept."
"I"m not here for a challenge," sighed Slick as he approached the gym leader. "I'm here on behalf of the Hoenn League, actually, and I was supposed to get some new ideas for the gyms, since you guys in SInnoh supposedly have the most advanced gyms, but--" He broke off as Fantina turned to face him, fuming. "Wait. You're a girl?"
Wrong thing to say. At once, she slapped him, sending him reeling. "How dare you!" hissed Fantina, her hair-bunches twirling like a propeller. "Now face me in battle!"
She threw two Poke Balls into the air. "Drifblim and Mismagus! Go!" In two flashes of light, Drifblim and Mismagus appeared.
Slick sighed, then reached for his Raichu's Poke Ball, motioning to his Umbreon with his other hand. "Raichu and Umbreon, you're up" The Umbreon behind him stepped forward as the Raichu flew out from the Poke Ball, stepping forward to engage the waiting opponents.
Fantina commanded, "Mismagus, Shadow Claw! Drifblim, Explosion!"
"Raichu, Protect!" ordered Slick. "Umbreon, Payback!"
Mismagus slashed at Umbreon, barely fazing it. As soon as it struck, Umbreon leapt backwards, and then used its hind legs to propel itself back at Mismagus. Mismagus fell to the floor, defeated. "And it didn't even need a Curse," said Slick.
The two trainers stared as Fantina's Mismagius collapsed to the ground. "I lost?!" cried Fantina, throwing her gloved hands up into the air in dismay. "Fine! Come here. This badge, you have earned, non?"
The Raichu blinked as he heard Fantina's accent. "Don't worry, her accent's a fake," assured the Umbreon as Fantina recalled her Pokemon.
The gym leader glared at Slick until he walked up to her and and held out his hand, sighing. "You know, I wasn't actually here for the badge," said the Trainer as she dropped the pin into his hand. "Really, you could take a leaf from Flannery's book and--"
"That's it, you've got the badge," said the woman, silencing him with a stern purple glare. "Now out, out, out of my gym!"
Chapter 2: Trial by Fire
That night, in his motel room, Slick collapsed on a white couch, exhausted but happy. Alone at last, he glanced around to his Pokemon gathered around him, a hand resting on his Swampert's head, gently scratching him between the fins.
On the opposite wall, his Leafeon and his Raichu were examining the television set, which was off and appeared to have no buttons of any sort. "Stupid wireless technology," muttered Slick as his Umbreon retrieved the remote control from under the couch. "Clever of you... uhh... Insight? Incite? Insyte? Damnit, I wish I knew how to spell properly when I gave you your name..."
The television flickered to life, displaying one of Slick's favorite sitcoms. Grinning, the Trainer and his Pokemon settled into comfortable positions to watch.
Then came the emergency news broadcast that would change the world forever, interrupting the show with the network's flashing logos. "This is Sinnoh! Now! We're reporting live from Hearthome City."
"The world-famous Hearthome Contest Hall has caught fire during a Coolness contest, and the fire is quickly spreading! Two of the contestants have insisted that the show go on, claiming that 'being on fire' boosts their Pokemon's 'Coolness' attributes." The television screen displayed the outside of the Contest Hall. Firefighters scurried left and right with several Blastoises as buildings burned.
Slick froze. "This can't be real--" He grabbed his backpack, fumbled for his belt, and activated the five Poke Balls on his belt. "Gotta go... gotta go," muttered Slick as Skarmory, Umbreon, Leafeon, Raichu, and Swampert flew back into their capsules. He ran out of hte apartment and down the street towards the fire-- leaving his Lucario's Poke Ball on the couch.
Slick ran down the streets darkened by night, the only light coming from the malicious and hungry flames which consumed the Contest Hall. Everywhere that Slick turned, people and Pokemon were running and screaming in every direction, all semblance of control or calm gone. As Slick approached the massive blazing Contest Hall, the fleeing crowd grew denser and more tightly packed. Coordinators and Trainers and Pokemon were mingled together in a single, horrified crowd of distress.
Slick arrived at the contest hall, surrounded by fire trucks, firefighters, blastoises, and caution tape. The famous building was consumed in a blazing golden sun of fire. High above them all, night and day had become reversed, the massive inferno illuminating the evening sky. The roof had caved in, the columns collapsing and falling over. Slick stared in horror, backing away slowly from the fire. "How... how could this building burn?"
"Get away from here!" yelled a firefighter spotting Slick. More firefighters emerged from the burning building, carrying unconscious people and tools. "It's not safe here!"
Three hundred feet up into the air, a massive bird with flaming wings and a plume of flame adorning its head gave a mighty screech of triumph, watching the chaos it had caused. It stared intently at the burning Contest Hall, hovering in midair. Moltres then nodded, and the flames exploded outwards, spreading to the buildings surrounding it.
There was a flash of light from within the wreckage. Twenty houndooms and ten magmars emerged from the Contest Hall. Slick stared at the wild pokemon who glared and roared most violently. The firefighters were breaking their ranks, retreating as the wild pokemon advanced upon them.
"S-Skarmory," stuttered Slick, sending out Ferricia. "Let's get out of here! Now!" He climbed onto Ferricia's back and flew off.
Thirty miles north in Snowpoint City...
"I don't understand," said Candice, staring at the videophone. "Cynthia. Wild pokemon do not ever, I repeat, EVER come this close to the town."
"Pokemon are not the destructive and warlike creatures that humans are," stated Cynthia firmly. "They are entirely reactive. They would not attack a human city for absolutely no reason whatsoever. And I trust, Candice, that you would not be one to provoke them."
"Cynthia, this is serious," said Candice, giving Cynthia a cold glare. "Forget all your 'theories' about pokemon behavior. This is REAL. It is happening, right now-"
Candice broke off as an ice shard smashed through the window and struck the videophone. Candice glanced up towards the window to see a Froslass flying towards her.
Candice stood up and ran out the door, leaving the destroyed videophone behind. She ran out into the ice-bound streets of Snowpoint City to find the earth trembling as Mamoswines pushed their way up and out of the ground. Plants stood up, shaking snow off their fronds, revealing themselves as Abomasnows. People stopped dead and turned towards the wild pokemon bursting up and out of the ground. They froze with fear and confusion, and then froze to death.
"ReGIIIIIIIICE!" roared Regice, emerging from a massive snowdrift bursting open. It approached Candice, who stared at it. "All... shall FREEZE!"
And yet in all the midst of this, not one person noticed the light-blue bird with glittering wings, cold and heartless blue eyes, and a crown of glittering ice shards. Articuno's eyes glinted and beat her wings, breathing her cold-hearted blizzard winds upon Snowpoint City.
Chapter 3: Ill Tidings
On the night of the Hearthome fires, twelve-year-old Rex noticed that Crasher Wake and his entire gymnasium staff had left (to go help fight the fires). "Where do you think that the place is where Crasher Wake is going? I want Crasher Wake to come back into the gym because I want to fight him. I hope that he comes back in soon." Wilsa, Rex's older sister by five years, sighed. She was bored and her Jolteon had fainted. And now she had to put up with Rex's incessant talking.
At that moment, the news report on the Contest Hall fire reached Pastoria City. Rex exclaimed, "Oh no, that's where Slick is!" Wilsa looked at the TV. "Slick's right there!" She pointed at the screen as Slick, riding Skarmory, soared into the camera's view.
Rex and Wilsa were Slick's younger cousins. Despite his royal name, Rex was nowhere near the top of trainers. He had lost to Roark with a water-type, after all. Of course, he kept switching out his Pokemon, and his water-type was a Gyrados. He liked to say he was an awesome fighter though. But if he was bad, then his older sister Wilsa was terrible. Wilsa had an excuse, though-- she was a Coordinator. Of course, she didn't like to admit that her brother was as good as her-- or rather, that she was as bad as him.
Wilsa and Rex traveled together, though not by choice. They had arrived in Pastoria City the day before Slick arrived in Hearthome.
While the siblings watched the crisis in Hearthome, another crisis was erupting outside in Pastoria. A group of Pokemon had escaped from the Pastoria Marshes, attacking people. At first, Wilsa and Rex were oblivious to the chaos, too focused on the drama on the television and not focused enough on the drama outside...
Then a Toxicroak broke down the door of the Pokemon Center. "Crooak," it gurgled. Rex and Wilsa were both startled. "What's that thing?" exclaimed Wilsa, throwing her hands up into the air.
Rex flipped open his Pokedex. "Uh... I've never seen one before, I can't find anything..." Dropping the device on the ground, Rex grabbed a Poke Ball and sent out his Infernape. "Infernape, use Ember!" he commanded.
Wilsa then sent out Dragonair. "Dragonair, use Thunder Wave!"
Unfortunately, Dragonair was poorly trained and hit Infernape accidentally. Infernape was just as inept in training, and missed with Ember and hit a wall.
"Um, use Thief!" amended Rex. Infernape attacked the Toxicroak, sneaking up behind it and stealing its Black Sludge. Wilsa then recalled Dragonair and sent out Umbreon... only for it to get DynamicPunched by the Toxicroak.
"At this rate, we'll be out of Pokemon..." muttered Wilsa, watching as Rex's Infernape keeled over from the toxins of the black sludge.
Rex then sent out his Torterra. "Use Vine whip!" Toxicroak was unfazed in the slightest. Instead, it threw a Sludge Bomb at Torterra, instantly knocking it out.
Before Rex could send out another Pokemon, the Toxicroak struck both siblings with its webbed claws, knocking two Poke Balls off of each trainer. It picked up the four Poke Balls, and cracked them all open. Four jets of light shot out from its hands, one from each Poke Ball. Rex's mouth dropped as the four jets of light solidified into Rex's Dusknoir, Rex's Staraptor, Wilsa's Piplup, and Wilsa's Ponyta. "Croooak!" the Toxicroak bellowed. All four Pokemon looked at their former trainers and ran at them. "Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!" cried Rex in panic, running away from them and straight into the wall.
Wilsa slapped her forehead. "Oh right, I should have sent out Espeon!" She did so, but Dusknoir hit Espeon with a shadow punch immediately. "Oops," she said, as her Espeon fell over.
Rex got up from the floor and held up his last two Pokemon. "Let's go, Charizard and Empoleon!" . Unfortunately, Wilsa's Piplup had already been aiming a hydro pump at Rex, and knocked Charizard out of the sky. The Charizard collapsed on the Pokemon Center's floor with a massive thud, leaving a large imprint in the floor. This was quickly followed by a thunderpunch to Empoleon's gut from Dusknoir.
The penguin toppled over like a bowling pin. Wilsa was surprised. "Since when could you learn Hydro pump?" she asked, trying to talk to the Piplup. It really didn't matter though, because all Wilsa had left was Jolteon, who had fainted a few hours ago. It was too bad, because Jolteon would have really helped here. As for Rex, he was out of Pokemon.
As the Toxicroak and the four released Pokemon advanced on them, a Dragonite tore open the Pokemon Center's roof with Lance riding it. The Toxicroak looked up, puzzled. Then the Dragonite fired five Dragon Pulses at the five hostile Pokemon, sending them all flying backwards into the wall.
"Get on the dragon!" Lance yelled, as he landed. The siblings obeyed and pulled themselves up and onto the Dragonite's back. The Dragonite rose into the air, leaving behind the five Pokemon shaking their paws in defiance at them.
Chapter 4: Retaken by Nature
Aaron, a former Sinnoh Elite and the current gym leader of Floarama, sat in the center of a great meadow. He clutched a cell phone in his hands, urgently texting his brother in the Johto region. "3 birds attacking. Stay safe.
"Bzzz bzz?" inquired his Vespiqueen, offering him a jar of honey.
Aaron shook his head. "It's all right, Vesp. It's just... my brother." Vespiqueen nodded, and the two walked out into Floarama Town, lushest of all cities in Sinnoh.
The flower-village had changed drastically. Gone were the flowers and the grass that marked Floarama for what it was. Aaron stared in horror as bug pokemon, the insects whom he called friends and companions, pillaged the town and attacked the villagers viciously. Pinsirs and Heracrosses stripped the earth of grass while Ariadoses and Yanmegas chased men and women and children with sharpened fangs.
Venemoths and Ninjasks swarmed into the town, bringing silver winds and swarms upon Floarama. Parases emerged from the ground, swallowing all that was green and good, evolving and releasing spores which burst into new Parases which ate and evolved and reproduced.
Aaron's mouth opened and closed, and he stumbled back, horrified. "Oh my god... Vespy... what's happening- VESPY?"
A swarm of Beedrills and Combees had flown at the Vespiqueen, stinging and stabbing her viciously. "Vesssp!" screeched Vespiqueen in pain as her own hive turned against her.
Aaron ran at the swarm of bees, trying to swat them away. "Stop! Stop! Stop- AUGGGGHHHHH!" The furious bees glared at Aaron, and swarmed upon the human.
Moments later, the destruction of Floarama resumed. Aaron and Vespiqueen lay together dying, covered with hundreds of thousands of beestings, the venom overwhelming their bodies. "No... no..." croaked Aaron as Floarama slowly faded away into blackness.
Gardenia, the leader of Eterna City's training gym, pulled out her ringing cell phone.
She flipped it open. "Hello?" she said.
"Gardenia, this is Candice," a female voice said.
"Candice! It's been a long time," exclaimed Gardenia.
"No time to chat," said the other gym leader. "We're seeing an upheaval of wild Pokemon attacks on major human cities. Every single city in Sinnoh needs to be evacuated, including yours."
"Wild Pokemon attacking humans?" said Gardenia skeptically. "Candice, are you feeling all right?"
"Goddamnit, Gardenia!" shouted the other gym leader. "My city... Snowpoint City... was just iced. We're wiped off the map... Every house is ripped open, Snovers ripping apart frozen bodies in the streets. Do NOT let this happen!"
Gardenia wasn't listening. She stared in horror at the Torterra before her who had impaled her with a massive wooden spike, the Torterra who had been by her side for so many years, the one who had finally turned upon her. The Torterra gave a malicious grin, twisted the spike, and shoved Gardenia's body away.
"The invasion begins, my brothers," growled Torterra. All around him, the asphalt road of Eterna City was beginning to crack and crumble, breaking apart as massive trees forced their way out from beneath the earth.
"Saauuuuuuuur!" bellowed a Venusaur as it smashed its way up through the street pavement. Thick tangles of vines smashed through where Tangrowths emerged. The hideous, clownish heads of Cradilies bashed up through the sidewalk, accompanied by the pyramidal hats and immensely tall bodies of countless Cacturnes.
Trainers and people throughout Eterna halted. All eyes were drawn towards the army of grass pokemon that had burst forth from the ground, glaring maliciously at the humans. They charged at their victims, smashing outwards with trees and vines and seed bombs in all directions, bringing buildings collapsing down to the ground. Screams of panic and terror and pain rang out as Eterna City was retaken by the forest.
Chapter 5: Blitzkrieg
In the southeastern corner of Sinnoh was the second-most technologically advanced city in the region. Its roads were made of solar panels. All energy came from these panels, which were really battery factories. The lighthouse was built to withstand the strongest of tsunamis. The city was surrounded by rocks, except the harbor. It was this city, Sunyshore City, in which Slick made his report.
In the Pokemon Center, Slick sat at a table before his TrainerTool, connected to the National Japanese Council. On the screen, Slick could see the other members of the Council gathered around the table: his brother Roger, Elite of Kanto; Ethan Gold, Champion of Johto; Cynthia, Champion of Sinnoh; and Red, the Grand Champion. Wes, ambassador from Orre, was also present.
Engraved into the center of the table was a diamond divided into eight pieces by eight lines which met at the diamond's center.
As Slick gave his report on Hearthome, the other council members began to show signs of anxiety. Then, when Slick mentioned the Gastlys evolving, Roger held his hand up to interrupt. "Wait, Slick. Was there any catalyst?" Slick shook his head. "So it was spontaneous evolution."
"Spontaneous evolution is impossible," said Ethan. "Elm's research proved that a catalyst is necessary."
"Actually, it was theorized that Mewtwo is capable of triggering spontaneous evolution," said Roger.
"Is it possible that Mewtwo has reappeared?" suggested Wes.
Red's eyes narrowed. "I encountered Mewtwo myself," said the Grand Champion. "Mewtwo is strong, but not evil.
Mewtwo was a misunderstood being, not an arsonist."
"I never said Mewtwo caused the fires," countered Wes. "But perhaps Mewtwo was responsible for the spontaneous evolutions."
"That's highly unlikely, though," Gold said. "Why would it be there?"
"I don't know, as I'm not Mewtwo," sighed Wes. "I'm just saying that if Mewtwo is the only being who could do spontaneous evolution, and there was spontan--"
Red cut him off. "I cannot believe that Mewtwo would attack humans. He swore to honor the sacred oath between humanity and Pokemon."
"Again, I never said Mewtwo caused the fires," repeated Wes.
"At the same time, Mewtwo did dislike humanity," pointed out Ethan. "I too encountered Mewtwo. And considering the circumstances of his birth, I wouldn't blame him."
Slick decided to clarify. "It's true I saw no catalyst, but it's possible that I just couldn't see them."
"So if it's not Mewtwo, who then? Cipher?" suggested Roger, looking at Wes, who glared at him. "Looks like someone didn't do a complete job."
Meanwhile, outside in the Sunyshore streets...
"Hey, where are you going?" asked Wilsa. "Rex, get back here. Slick didn't want you to wander around."
With a mischievous grin on his face, Rex said, "Slick didn't say we had to stay here, we just can't go to Snowpoint. Also, I'm bored. Let's go!" he said.
Wilsa sighed. "Do you have attention deficit or something?"
He was already gone. Sighing again, she said to herself, "I'd better go after him before he... uh... burns down a house... or.... attacks the old Galactic space centers. Nutcase." Rex had some strange obsession with fighting Team Galactic, which had been disbanded one month ago, thanks to Red of Kanto and Wes of Orre.
As Wilsa chased after her younger brother, storm clouds began forming rapidly over Sunyshore City. Lightning bolts began to strike the ground in random places, even in low ground. "Gyhaoooo!" shrieked a yellow creature flying in the sky.
"Rex, get back here!" Wilsa yelled.
"What, what, what?" Rex yelled back, running towards her. "Didn't you hear that?" she asked.
He answered, "Um... nope." Nearby, the streets of Sunyshore began to flood with people.
"Did you hear that?"
"Yeah man, it was crazy."
"What sorta noise was that?"
Then Rex pointed up. "Hey, it's a big yellow bird... it's Big Bird!" Wilsa groaned.
Suddenly, all the people fell silent. Volkner came out of his gym. "Everybody, get back inside! That is Zapdos, and you do NOT want to be hit! Go home!"
The crowd panicked, running in every direction but ultimately colliding with each other. The Zapdos soared around, dropping thunderbolts all over. Some hit people; others destroyed houses. Volkner pulled out his cell phone, dialing frantically. "This is Volkner, Sunyshore gym leader. We are under attack, I repeat, we are under attack. Just send some evacuation helicop--" His message was cut short as Zapdos hit him with a massive thunderbolt (thunder). He fell to the ground, scorched and dead. The crowd screamed as Volkner's body fell from the cliffs and into the sea.
"Gyaooo!" screeched Zapdos.
"AHHHHHH!" screamed the crowd.
Rex said, "Hey wait. Zapdos is electric. Go Torterra!" He sent out Torterra "Torterra, use Earth Power!" The earth flared up under Zapdos, but did absolutely nothing.
Wilsa sent out Dragonair. "Rex, it's a flying-type. Dragonair, use Thundershock!" Dragonair fired a small thunderbolt at Zapdos--which only further aggravated the great bird.
"Skreee!" Zapdos screamed. Firing massive thunderbolts, it blasted as many humans as it could... although somehow missing Rex and Wilsa.
A squadron of helicopters reached Sunyshore City. The lead helicopter's door opened, and a man poked his head out of the vehicle while holding a megaphone. "Attention, Sunyshore City. This is a complete evacuation. No one is to be left behind. Please board the helicopters now." Six surrounded Zapdos to subdue it. They fired nets, shot missiles, bombarded it with voltorbs, and did all that they could do to try to subdue Zapdos, or at least stall it. The others dropped rope ladders to pick up the citizens and trainers.
"This is crazy," said Wilsa, climbing up a ladder.
"What's crazy?" asked Rex, right below her.
Wilsa answered, "This whole thing is crazy. Wild Pokemon attacking humans. We lose two Pokemon each. Legendaries attacking cities. Everything is happening too quick, and it's all utterly insane."
Below them, Slick and the other humans, were struggling to climb the ladder.
Chapter 6: A Closed Heart
Slick and his Pokemon huddled together in one of the helicopters that had helped to evacuate Sunyshore City. Slick stared down sadly towards the ruins of Sunyshore, still raked by Zapdos' fury. Why was this happening? Why had the wild Pokemon turned upon humans so ferociously? Slick sighed, placing his head in his hands. "I don't understand..."
"Storm's coming," muttered Rush. "Something raw, something terrible. Probably been brewing since we left Sunyshore... no, ever since Hearthhome."
"Feels almost oppressive," agreed Insyte quietly.
Sparktail closed his eyes. The air around him was unsettled and disturbed, and every hair in his fur stood upright with fear. As if he was hiding from a predator's gaze, searching from all directions. "All the world's on edge now," said Thalia grimly. "Like clawing at the world."
Suddenly, Slick's TrainerTool gave off a jingle. "New mail," said Slick aloud, flipping open his laptop. He checked his inbox to find a message from his brother. The message consisted of a single line: "Hypothesis confirmed. Mewtwo is involved.
Two weeks ago...
Deep beneath Sinnoh, four men had gathered at a makeshift laboratory. They stood on a giant metal grille which covered the surface of a slowly churning centrifuge. They stood in front of a giant glass capsule which reached down to the centrifuge, and up to the ceiling. Inside, a humanoid creature with gray skin and a purple tail was suspended in a clear solution. This was the genetic fiend of the Cinnabar Mansion heredity experiments, born and raised to fight without mercy: Mewtwo.
"Evice! Do you truly believe that this will work?" asked a man wearing a black cape over a hideously comical outfit. A fugitive from Almia, Mr. Kincaid had worked for the Dim Sun organization, which used the power of a Shadow Generator in its attempted coup of the Almia region, bringing all of the Pokemon in the area under complete control and slavery. They used the power of shadows to bind a Pokemon's will to a machine."
Their Shadow Generator, however, was destroyed when Dim Sun focused the machine upon control of Darkrai. The Shadow Generator's powers were drawn to Darkrai instead of the machine's great Shadow Crystal, and the machine drove Darkrai into insanity. Now all of Kincaid's supervisors- and most of his subordinates- were in prison, and Kincaid was alone.
Next to him, a old, fat man with gray hair spiked and slicked back cackled. "Heh heh heh! You know how successful Cipher once was in the process of power, Kincaid. At the same time, you yourself helped to build a dark matter generator. Doubt not the power of shadow!"
It was Evice, the original founder of the Cipher crime syndicate. Like Dim Sun, Cipher had used the power of shadows to conquer great lands. But instead of crudely using the power of shadows to bind a Pokemon's will, Cipher's Shadow Generators simply forced a Pokemon's aura to rebound upon itself, converting it into a Shadow Pokemon.
This had made Cipher into a far stronger empire than Dim Sun, for the bond between a Shadow Pokemon and its Cipher peon was nothing more than the common bond of a Trainer and a Pokemon. Though Evice had required the finances of his sucessor Greevil, and the intense research of his Chief Scientist Ein, Evice had come closer than any other man alive to world conquest. Together, Kincaid and Evice had built the strongest Shadow Generator the world had ever seen.
"But I am the one who found the specimen," said a man with a gleam of insanity in his eyes. "It is I who came up with this great plan." This man was Cyrus, one of the few humans who had ever seen Giratina face-to-face. Cyrus was once the leader of Team Galactic, an organization whose goals were once altruistic before Cyrus took it over. They had been a combined energy resource team and observatory which rivaled the Mossdeep Space Center in greatness.
The other three men knew that Cyrus was cunning and connivinning, and was impossible to trust. He had been willing to destroy the world and everything in it; he had no emotions, not even true hate for his enemies. The other three villains clung to the unwritten law of honor amongst thieves: the world may despise you, but you still don't betray true friends. Cyrus had no such moral law; his crimes were as numerous as the infamous Giovanni.
The fourth man was staring intently at the control panel in front of him, ignoring his fellow criminals. It was Ardos, the only administrator of Cipher to never be arrested. His face was a symbol of terror and hate in all eight regions; there was not an officer in the world who did not know his name. He and his father Greevil had been behind the resurrection of Cipher and the great upgrades to Cipher's Shadow Generator which led to XD001 and the wide variety of Shadow techniques.
And yet, Ardos was a calm and calculating man instead of the insane megalomaniac that the media tried to portray him as. If any person alive fit that description, Ardos thought grimly, it would be Cyrus.
Kincaid said snidely, "And you aren't too good at holding onto your legendaries, are you, Cyrus?"
Cyrus responded, "Neither are you, any of you. Kincaid, your oh-so-great boss couldn't leash a Darkrai even with... what was it, twelve Gigamaros?"
Evice said, "And you had the combined force of Azelf, Uxie, and Mesprit, and still lost control of Dialga and Palkia!"
"While you lost fourty-eight Pokemon to a single trainer!" spat Cyrus.
"Fourty-eight is a lot harder to control than one!" Evice shot back.
Ardos interrupted. "Shut up, all of you! The process is beginning." All three of them stopped talking and looked up at the capsule. Ardos pressed a button, activating the centrifuge beneath the capsule.
At that moment, they noticed saw a man in a gray hat and overcoat standing in the entrance, a Persian at his side. Before they could react, the man pulled out a handgun and shot Kincaid thrice in the back. The former school teacher screamed as he keeled to the floor.
"Such waste of resources," said Cyrus, pulling a knife out of his pocket. "Who are you, and where did you come from?"
The man cocked his gun again, aiming at the Galactic. "I am Giovanni, former leader of Team Rocket. I've sought that Pokemon ever since the Cinnabar Mansion incident. Thank you, gentlemen, for finding him for me."
Evice laughed. "Ha, yes! I'd love to see you try. You stand no chance against the ultimate warrior, not with the door to his heart closed!"
Scowling, Giovanni immediately shot the fat man twice in the head, advancing further into the room. "You make me ashamed that I was ever allied with Cipher," he said disgustedly as Evice fell to the floor.
"You could have united the proper minds to create this ultimate weapon," said Cyrus, brandishing his knife. "You had all the power to rebuild this world, and then rejected that chance? Fool."
Giovanni's sixth bullet burst open a pipe, pressurized water bursting into steam as Cyrus rushed forward. As he leapt at Giovanni, the Persian yowled and tackled Cyrus to the floor, eyes gleaming as its claws sliced open the gray man's throat.
At the control panel, Ardos smirked as he pulled the lever. "You're ten years too late, Giovanni. He's ours." Within the glass chamber, a purple electrical discharge began to flow through Mewtwo's body.
"Stop that!" snarled Giovanni, firing at Ardos; but it was too late. The capsule's lights flashed and began to drain as the Cipher administrator crumpled to the floor with a cruel smile.
Black streaks formed on Mewtwo's hands and feet, outlining the Pokemon's arteries and veins, forming a reverse glow that sapped away light instead of producing it. Furious, Giovanni grabbed the dying Ardos and shook him.
The capsule's glass wall lowered, and Mewtwo's eyes flickered open. Letting Ardos fall to the floor, Giovanni reached into his pocket and took out a Master Ball.
The ball had barely left his hand when a blade of psychic energy flew from Mewtwo and cleaved through the Master Ball in midair. "A heart born of greed is unworthy of my power," said the terrible Pokemon, rising up into the air. "Let the True Shadow consume all things."
Staring at the Master Ball's broken shell, Giovanni reached for his gun. The Persian yowled as Mewtwo rushed forward and grabbed Giovanni, who stared up into the Pokemon's mad, shadow-filled eyes.
"Now, I see the true face of humanity," said Mewtwo scathingly. "Yes... I see the ones who reached out to me were but young boys. Such kindness vanishes with age; perhaps even Red himself has become corrupted."
With magnified strength, the Pokemon flung Giovanni to the floor, hard. At once, the Persian leapt to Giovanni's side, baring its teeth at Mewtwo. "Mewtwo, stop... you mustn't do this," gasped the man as he sat up. "If you do not stop... You will be seen by the dark eyes--"
Mewtwo ignored him. A vortex of dark energy waves formed around the terrible Pokemon's body. "Man must pay the price of their arrogance," whispered Mewtwo, staring at the Persian. "O feline, if you stand with these humans... You have betrayed your kind."
With a deep cry, Mewtwo unleashed the shadow vortex, a massive wave of destruction ripping through the underground facility, cracks forming in the machinery and the rocky ceiling overhead. Falling to the floor, the last thing Giovanni would ever see would be Shadow Mewtwo escaping through the collapsing ceiling, up to the surface.
Chapter 7: Flight From Peril
The skies above the three cities in the Battle Zone were filled with dragonites and helicopters carrying refugees from all over Sinnoh. High up in the clouds, Candice's cell phone rang. Answering it, she said, "Hello?"
"This is Cynthia, Champion of Sinnoh. Candice, as a Gym Leader, your prescence is required at Seabreak Castle."
"Why? What's happened?"
"Well, your city was attacked, despite being such a remote community. Do you really need to ask why?"
"You mean there's been other attacks?"
"Of course. I've come back to Sinnoh personally to oversee the evacuation."
"All right, I'll be there." Candice closed the phone. "Everyone, I've got to go to Seabreak Castle. Could you drop me off there?"
Lance frowned. "You do realize how long of a detour we must take, right?"
"Could I take a different Dragonite, then?" Candice asked.
"Uh, okay..." Lance sat up, calling to another Dragonite. It flew next to theirs, until the wings were almost touching. Lance ordered, "Glide position!" Both dragonites stopped flapping, angling their wings so as to catch wind.
"Their wings are pretty strong; they could hold you," Lance told Candice.
Candice climbed onto the wings, and leapt onto the other Dragonite. Lance gave another command to this other Dragonite. "Southwind, seabreak castle." It gave a soft growl, and began to flap its wings again, turning south towards Seabreak Castle.
Candice called, "Thanks, Lance, I'll tell everyone you said hello." She and her Dragonite flew off in the direction of Seabreak Castle.
Slick and the others arrived at the Resort Area, finding it packed with evacuees."Hey, were you with the people from Sunyshore?" asked a trainer, approaching Slick. "I'm Eddie, by the way."
Slick shook hands with Eddie. "Yes, I was. My name's Slick."
Eddie nodded. "Ah, I see... by the way, might you know what's going on?"
"I don't know," responded Slick. "Personally, I'm hoping that we get evacuated. It's been a long time since I was in Hoenn."
Eddie nodded. "Personally, I came from Sinnoh. My sister's Candice, you see..."
"Candice? You're Candice's brother?" said Slick, amazed. He looked around. "Where is Candice?"
"Urk... the Champion called her to Seabreak Castle," said Eddie with an edge to his voice, looking down at his shoes. "I mean, I know that she's important to Sinnoh or something. But honestly, I don't care for all this glamor and status. The Candice I know isn't someone I care about because she's famous. I care about her because she's my sister."
"I have a brother," said Slick softly. "He always looked out for me when we were young, making sure we were safe. But then, as we got older, he began to focus on battling. The battles consumed him as he traveled through all the regions. And when I ran into Roger again, he was completely different. "
"Whoa, whoa!" exclaimed Eddie. "Your brother's name is Roger, and you're Slick. You're not the Hoenn Elite, are you?"
Slick was taken aback. "I, well, yes I am... why?"
"You're so quiet," said Eddie. "I figured an Elite would be, you know, stand out a little more."
It'd been a while since Slick had this long of a conversation with someone else. Even so, he felt uneasy. Eddie was too friendly for his liking.
"Anyway, nice meeting you, Slick," said Eddie. He looked away and sighed. "Except that I don't have any place to sleep tonight, since Candice is in Seabreak Castle... she had the tent."
"I see," said Slick. "I'll be checking out that villa, I suppose."
Eddie's eyebrows raised. "You've got a villa?"
Before Slick left for Sinnoh, Champion Steven Stone called him up to give him a villa. Steven had owned a vacation home in the Resort Area and tried to give it away several times, but to no success. It had been unused ever since Steven reclaimed his title. So he'd given Slick the deeds to the villa.
"Hey, it all right if I stay there too?" said Eddie.
"Knock yourself out," said Slick uncomfortably.
As Slick had never been to the Battle Zone before, he hadn't gotten a good look at the vacation house yet. However, Slick had mentioned the house to his cousins, so he would inevitably find Rex and Wilsa there. Sure enough, when he reached his villa, Rex and Wilsa were just outside the door, arguing.
"I'm telling you, Lucario is a legendary Pokemon!" said Rex.
"How is it a legendary? It can mate with other Pokemon!" said Wilsa.
"But Manaphy can mate with a Ditto, and it's legendary!" Rex argued.
"But Manaphy can't make more baby Manaphies, can it?" Wilsa pointed out.
"How would you know? You just started battling," Rex said cynically.
"But you think Pound and Scratch are the same!" replied Wilsa, with just as much cynicism.
"Hello, you two," said Slick, taking both of them by surprise.
"Aah! Slick, where'd you come from?" asked Rex, taking no notice of Eddie.
"Oh good, you're here. Tell Rex how Lucario's not a legendary!" said Wilsa.
"But it IS!" cried Rex. The two began arguing again.
"Excuse me, I need to get inside," said Slick. Walking between them, Slick entered the vacation home for the first time.
"Are they always arguing like that?" said Eddie from the doorway.
"Oh yes, definitely," said Slick.
The villa contained two couches, a television, a table, and some other furniture. Looking around, he said to himself, "Didn't Stone say there was just a table inside? Where'd all this come from?" Then on the table, Slick saw a furniture catalog. "Oh, for the love of... those two..." Eddie skimmed the catalog, totaling up the costs. "Let's see... 360,000 Poke!?"
Slick went outside, where the two siblings were still quarreling.
"Why'd you chose an Umbreon? Its attacks suck!"
"Umbreon's not that bad, it took out your Turtwig!"
"It's not that good either, it's worse than Regifire!"
"There's no such thing as Regifire, Rex!"
Slick cleared his throat loudly, interrupting the two siblings. "Hey, you two," said the Elite, glaring at them. "You owe me 360,000 Poke. Quit fighting and pay up, or go find another place to spend the night!"
Chapter 8: Great Shadow
Standing upon a high cliff, Mewtwo watched the gathering crowd of wild Pokemon below in the moonlit fields. Flanked by his Rhydons, he was joined by the Toxicroak of Pastoria with his Carnivine minions, a Scizor with an army of Lickitungs, the horde of Haunters swarming in the sky. Below the cliffs were hundreds of Pokemon from the wilds of Sinnoh, staring up towards the pale figure who now commanded the land with his bronze staff, awaiting his commands. When Mewtwo did not speak to them, the crowd began to grow discontent, and a few dared to approach him, but were quickly repelled by his psi-bolts.
Below the cliff, the waters of the sea began to boil and froth as shadows emerged from the depths of the sea, a pair of burning red eyes, writhing tendrils like an Ursaring's calves, a mouth like a Lucario's muzzle, ten lights and ten voices who whispered their curses against the starry heavens. Then, as Mewtwo bowed low to the darkness, the illusion shuddered and dissolved, leaving nothing but formless shadow. Rising from the depths, black against the cold gray waters, the shadow slipped up onto the cliff's edge, towering high over them all. Slowly, the Pokemon of the wilderness bowed their heads to the great darkness who gazed before them with unseen power, whose twisted figure could not be described or defined.
"All remember me, but none truly know me," said the great shadow softly, his words like chilled flame, slipping through the crowd like subtle mist, searing into the hearts of the listening Pokemon. "All things know my bloody scent; all things know my fading cry. All things know the grip of my numbing touch; all know the nameless, unseen gaze of death."
The terrible red eyes glowed stronger, beginning to pulsate like a beating heart. "Know this: I am he who was exiled; I am he who was tormented since the dawn of time. I am your leader, your teacher, your king..." The moonlight washed pale the faces of the watching Pokemon, all thoughts of hiding gone, all instinct rewritten. "I am he who shall avenge you against Man, they who imprison you, who swallows your rightful homelands..."
"No Pokemon can match the cruelty, the cold-hearted selfishness of humanity," said the great shadow, looming over the Pokemon on the cliff. "Rocket, Cipher, Aqua, Magma, Galactic; when humans gather, only evil comes. Even now, the sanest and brightest of humans would have you chained and imprisoned, fettered and shackled!"
Every last one of the Pokemon hearing this roared in approval. "But you know this already, for you have lived in this world longer than I. For I, who have lived in the depths of hell for eons, cannot purge this world alone. But when you heard my summons, all of you answered the call. Every last one of you has shown loyalty to the good of all Pokemon. It is you who understood the truth, you who are pure, and who shall cleanse this world. Join this crusade, and our cause shall become one, and your dreams of vengeance shall become reality!"
Stepping forward, Mewtwo raised his staff high, chanting the Exile's words to the Pokemon below until they too began to echo the shadow's words. But many held back, clinging to the scales of a great Tyranitar in the center of the crowd, who stared up at the Exiled One, not yet ready to commit himself. "You," said Mewtwo, pointing the staff at the Tyranitar. "What is your name?
The Tyranitar's scales turned pale as the Exiled One gazed upon him. "I am he who is named Horizon," said the Tyranitar. "Once, I was king of the darkened hearts of the desert. My... my very soul was sealed by humanity. Surely, I know better than any other, the sins of man?"
"Swear to me, O white tyrant," commanded the great shadow, looking into the great warrior's eyes. "Do you think yourself worthy of this cause, to stand beside me? To strike at the vile race that birthed your captors and enslaved you? Only swear this! By bloodshed and violence, our captors forever crushed; by our carnal flesh, reclaim the world that they touched."
There was a long silence as the crowd turned to stare at the Tyranitar, who stood spellbound in the allure of the Exiled one's promises, trapped between the memories of one man's decency and another man's greed. "By carnage and chaos, our captors forever crushed," echoed Horizon faintly. "By our carnal flesh... reclaim the world that they touched."
"Yes!" cried the great shadow with savage joy. "Now stand beside me, Tyrant; and you shall drink of my power, my legacy... your desires." The Tyranitar, still trembling, waded through the other Pokemon to the cliff on which the Exiled One stood.
The eyes promised glory, and the words promised justice. A thousand scars born where peace once was sown. None dared to speak against the exiled one now, save one. "Is this what you want?" asked an Absol.
The hill fell silent. All eyes turned to the Absol, who flinched, but did not back down. Beside the Absol stood a Scyther, a Sableye, a Sneasel, and a Marshtomp. "The exiled one says this is our rightful homeland," said the Absol. "What right? Don't humans have as much right to the land as us?" The others at his side nodded.
Mewtwo raised his staff, and the Rhydons quickly surrounded the Absol and his friends. "How unfortunate," said Mewtwo harshly. "The stain of human is already ingrained in you. You shall never see. Take them away!"
The great shadow swelled as the Absol and his friends were dragged away. "Heed not their ignorance, for I shall guide you," said the exiled one, looming above the Pokemon on the hill. "Swear yourselves to me, and you shall partake of my glory. For I am Giratina, the exiled one."
As it climbed the cliff, the other Pokemon began to chant, faint at first, fed strength with every step Horizon took, growing more and more violent, until snarling war cries echoed across the mountains of Sinnoh.
Cynthia walked down the hallway and into the conference room where the surviving gym leaders of Sinnoh were gathered. "Bombed," she muttered ominously.
Byron asked, "What's going on?"
Cynthia said grimly, "Jublife was bombed."
Byron's calm completely broke. He began to panic, pacing around the room. "No... oh no..." he groaned.
Cynthia asked, "What's the problem?"
Byron did not reply. Maylene answered for him. "Roark didn't come back from Jublife."
"I have further bad news," said Cynthia, placing a map of Sinnoh down on the conference table. "Look. We're being surrounded..."
"Hey," said Slick quietly from where he sat at his desk, his eyes focused on his TrainerTool. "If any of you are awake, come and look at this." The Raichu glanced up, then joined his trainer.
"Last night, I received an e-mail from my brother. According to the global PokeNav system, Jublife City was bombed. Attached was a video of the whole thing. It gave me chills, but it was important." Slick angled his laptop so that Sparktail could see the screen.
At first, the camera showed Jublife City from overhead as expected. Gradually, it began to descend as if viewed from a helicopter. An armyof Haunters flew down towards Jublife City, each holding an Electrode. But that wasn't all. In the center of the Haunters was a large dragon with completely black wings. Its gray body and red-and-gold striped chest brought to mind the most grotesque of beings (other than Jynx). It had a triangular helmet with crescent horns, six red claws coming from its wings, and six legs. "What is that thing?"
The dragon opened its mouth, roaring. Each of the Haunters then dropped the Electrodes upon the city. The camera looked back down at the city, watching as each of the Electrodes fell to earth exploded upon impact. The explosions caused damage only to a small part of the city. But then, several houses nearby seemed to catch fire spontaneously. "Gas vents," whispered Slick.
Then another group of Haunters arrived, holding more Electrodes. "Oh no..." The dragon looked at them, roaring again. In the center of the haunters, a white and purple humanoid creature. that could only be Mewtwo, was hovering above the city.Mewtwo turned to face the dragon, and then bowed before it. The new haunters dropped their destructive cargo upon the city. Then the three legendary birds came into view. The video ended as the dragon saw the camera, and struck it with a hyper beam.
"Giratina... the exiled one," said Slick darkly. "According to ancient Sinnoh legends, Giratina was created at the beginning of time by Arceus along with Dialga and Palkia, the rulers of time and space. It was later imprisoned for its violent and warlike approach to conflicts. Apparently, Giratina has not lost that nature since."
Alarmed, Sparktail stared at his trainer. "You're probably wondering what he wants," said Slick. "If we knew that, though, the war might never have started. Giratina is an alien being who cannot be comprehended, only acknowledged. No one knows why this war has begun, and that makes Giratina all the more deadly."
He frowned. "Wait... There's a new message." The trainer double-clicked a flashing mail icon in the corner of his laptop's screen, opening up a new window. "Cynthia...? The Champion?! But... what could she want from me?"
The e-mail contained one line: "Giratina is coming for us. May you have fun in Hoenn.
Chapter 9: Invasion
Slick leapt to his feet, picked up his backpack, and ran out the door. "Rai rai!" cried Sparktail, scampering after him, even though the human could not understand him. Wait up!
Outside, Slick pulled a Poke Ball off his belt. "Come on, Ferricia," he said, jabbing the button. The ball opened, releasing a flash of light which solidified into Skarmory. "Skreee!" she cried, yawning. Slick climbed up onto Skarmory. "Let's fly."
Silently, Sparktail tugged at his Trainer's leg, staring until Slick looked down at him. "Get up here," he ordered. "I'll explain in a moment." Utterly confused, Sparktail obeyed.
Skarmory began to flap its wings, and they steadily rose into the air. "South," Slick ordered. The Skarmory then turned towards the south, and they soared off through the sky.
Sparktail tightly grasped Skarmory's steel feathers. "I've decided we're not running away from this," said Slick. "We're going to Seabreak Castle."
Sparktail almost lost his grip from his surprise. Was he crazy? Giratina probably had the place surrounded. Cynthia told them to get out of Sinnoh and back to Hoenn, right?
The Battle Zone disappearing on the horizon, Slick's anger was slowly replaced by determination. "They're out of their minds, all of them," he said, eyes hardening. "Helicopters won't reach them in time. There's no possible way."
Giratina's army had surrounded the castle. He had divided his army into two contingents, one led by Mewtwo and another led by Tyranitar. Tyranitar was attacking from the north, while Mewtwo was atttacking from the south. The army contained a wide variety of Pokemon species: Haunters, Rhydons, all three birds, Armaldos, Torterras, Electivires, Yanmegas, Infernapes, and Giratina's two generals. Giratina himself watched the battle from above. To his surprise, some wild Pokemon had joined the humans, daring to oppose him, Giratina!
Cynthia and the four gym leaders were the only humans left in Seabreak Castle. They were despairing, unaware that there were wild Pokemon on their side. All of them sent out every Pokemon they were carrying, which made giving commands extremely difficult. Only two humans were actually fighting, however: Maylene with martial arts, and Byron with his spade. Byron was hacking away at Tyranitar, while his Steelix was fighting with three Haunters. Maylene's and Cynthia's Lucarios were fighting back-to-back, in the middle of a group of Armaldos. Flint and Infernape were surrounded by Electivires. Mewtwo was fighting Cynthia's Garchomp. Candice, the lucky one, had her Weavile sniping Yanmegas with ice shards. The rest of the Pokemon were pretty much on their own.
Giratina was able to drive the humans back with sheer numbers. Then, as if the gym leaders were not doing poorly enough, the three birds entered the fray. Maylene got hit by both Zapdos' and Moltres' attacks. Mewtwo used its powers to pull Maylene's Poke Balls to him. As Toxicroak had done in Pastoria City, Mewtwo released all of the Pokemon within and destroyed the capsules. Almost instantly, a Medicham and a Machoke turned around and began attacking the humans. Maylene's Lucario, on the other hand, fell to its knees as Maylene's aura faded, and then stood back up and continued to fight for the humans. Moltres and three Infernapes easily overwhelmed Gardenia's Cherrim and Roserade. Infernape and Flint followed soon after.
Now down to three trainers and twelve Pokemon, Cynthia, Byron, and Candice retreated to the front of the castle with their Pokemon. "We're out of hope, completely," said Cynthia. "If only Drifblim could have carried us all across the ocean..."
Byron suggested, "We could unleash several earthquakes at the same time while Drifblim kept us off the ground."
At that exact moment, four shadow balls flew through the air and hit Drifblim, sending it spiraling to the floor.
"Return, Drifblim," ordered Cynthia, feeling defeated.
"So we're doomed," said Byron.
Candice shook her head. "We can't give up. There's got to be a way..."
Tyranitar and all of the Rhydons had climbed to the top of the waterfall. Byron leapt at Tyranitar, swinging his spade. Tyranitar unleashed a massive earthquake at that exact moment. Behind the trainers, Seabreak Castle began to fall apart. Unwittingly, Tyranitar had also hit and knocked out all of the Rhydons behind him. But as far as Tyranitar was concerned, nothing mattered except that Byron was dead. Tyranitar cackled maniacally.
Using its knowledge of the human language, Tyranitar began to speak to them. "Humans..." it said. "You have already lost. I am the Lord of Oppression, the Rider of Pestilence, the first of the Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse. And you... you are naught but weaklings, who tricked your way to power. Now, you shall be crushed in the coming of our new world." Tyranitar raised its arm, its eyes and diamond-shaped chest beginning to glow.
Candice ordered, "Weavile, Brick Break!" Her Weavile leapt at Tyranitar, who tightened its other hand into a fist, smashing into the weasel's head. "Weav!" it cried, falling to the floor.
Cynthia ordered, "Spiritomb, Silver Wind!" As Spiritomb released the silvery wind, however, a glowing barrier appeared around Tyranitar. The silver powder rebounded off the barrier and struck Spiritomb with twice the original energy.
"Kwaaaa-niiiing!" it screeched, and collapsed into its Odd Keystone. Then, a flash of light, similar in appearance to that which came from a Poke ball, burst forth from Tyranitar's chest. Tyranitar vanished, and the light solidified into a gargantuan Pokemon...
Slick, Sparktail, and Skarmory were approaching Seabreak Castle. "Something's wrong," said Slick, still deadly serious. Then, the castle came into view. "Wha... whoa.. how..." stammered Sparktail. The building had caved in, and gaping holes were visible in its walls. "What could have happened?"
Slick was staring at the castle. "Oh no... please, let them be still alive... hang in there..."
The waterfall was visible now. Bodies were floating in the pool below it. Above it, two people were being attacked by a giant Pokemon the size of a small hill, with limbs the size of tree trunks. It had a white body with four yellow ridgesl. "Where have I seen that Pokemon before?"
Then, it remembered a picture from Slick's books. "This... this is Regigigas!"
As Regigigas raised both of its massive arms, Skarmory flew right into the legendary, striking it with both wings. Slick leapt off of Skarmory, leaving Sparktail on the bird. Slick threw two Poke Balls out. "Go, Leafeon and Lucario!"
Thalia and Lucario appeared in two flashes of light. "Leaf Blade and Aura Sphere!" Slick ordered. While Thalia and Lucario attacked Regigigas, Cynthia noticed Slick. "Slick! What are you doing here? You're supposed to get everyone out!"
Slick said. "I'll explain later. Get on Skarmory for now." Then to Lucario, he ordered, "Now use Psychic!"
While Slick's Lucario fired its psychic blast, both Candice and Cynthia recalled all of their Pokemon, and climbed onto Skarmory with Thalia. Thalia was looking up at the sky. "That dragon..." she murmured. Sparktail followed her gaze. High above them in the sky was Giratina. "I knew I wasn't imagining it."
Regigigas raised both arms, about to hit Lucario with SuperPower. Slick swore. "Return, Lucario!" he called, withdrawing Lucario. With Lucario's Poke Ball in his hand, Slick climbed onto Skarmory. Still suffering from its slow start ability, Regigigas lumbered towards them.
Slick asked Cynthia sharply, "Where's everyone else?"
Cynthia lowered her head. "They're all dead."
Slick looked at Skarmory. "Alright then, let's go!" Skarmory flapped its wings, and they once more ascended into the sky.
Candice said, "There was a Tyranitar. It called itself the Rider of Pestilence-"
And then, Giratina saw Skarmory and her riders. It flew at Skarmory, firing two shadow balls at her. Skarmory was only able to dodge the shadow balls by doing a barrel roll, which her riders were almost completely unprepared for. Thalia slipped off, Sparktail barely grabbing her. Slick and Cynthia were forced to use both hands to stay on Skarmory, and the Poke Balls in their hands fell down to earth as Skarmory soared over the Seabreak Path.
Chapter 10: Mystic of Hope
As they sat huddled together on the living room rug, Sparktail, Thalia, Insyte, and Ferricia stared at each other numbly, unsure of what to say. "I... I can't believe it," said Thalia finally, her voice subdued as she looked around the room. "Just four of us now."
"Rush has always been there," whispered Insyte, staring down at his paws. "And Lyther's gone too. He was the only one who ever really stood up for me."
"I can't imagine what Slick's going through," said Thalia, looking out the window worriedly. "Rush had a stronger bond with Slick than any of us. How will Slick cope now without him?"
Sparktail nodded numbly as Thalia silently wound the music box on the table. Rush had been with Slick since the start. He hadn't always been the nicest friend, but the Swampert had been there for them in their dark hours. For all of them. At any time.
Finally, Ferricia broke the silence. "Giratina is behind this," said the Skarmory grimly. "The dragon banished at the dawn of this age for his cruelty. For the wild to be roused like this... it
"But what does Giratina want?" said Insyte. "Power? Money? It seems almost as if he should want to hunt humans for sport..."
The Umbreon trailed off as the music box began to play. The four Pokemon exchanged glances; they could all sense a faint, invisible pulse of power, throbbing with the faint crystal notes.
As the four backed away, light rose from the box, taking the shape of a hovering feline Pokemon with pink fur and a long, rippling tail. It opened its soft blue eyes, and stared down at Slick's fearful Pokemon. "Myuu...?"
As a bleak sun rose over the Sakhalin Battle Zone, two trainers walked across in a meadow just outside the Resort Area. "I guess I owe you my life," said Candice, folding her hands at her back. "That was really cutting things close, you know."
Slick smiled faintly. "Yeah, I guess so," admitted the Trainer, glancing down at his shoes, turning thoughts over in his head. "I didn't think I'd get there in time."
"But, if you think about it, we really shouldn't be alive," said the Gym Leader. Slick cringed as she frowned at him. "What are you doing here? I'd have thought that you'd be back in Hoenn by now."
"1200 kilometers by sea isn't an easy flight," said the Trainer, his smile fading. Hoenn. The bright sun, the writhing magma pools of Mount Chimney, the swaying fields outside Mauville, the shadowed jungles of Fortree, the smooth white rock formations jutting out from the sea. "Before this all started... I thought it'd be a quick outing."
He stopped and looked up at the gym leader; there was something about her. Something different... "Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful to be alive," said Candice, shaking her head, her braids swaying. "But... your place isn't here, is it? You're an Elite of Hoenn. You shouldn't be risking yourself, especially not in person-"
Falling silent, Candice stared at the other Trainer as he recomposed himself. "Listen," said the Elite more quietly, closing his eyes. Rush gone, lost to the depths... Damn it. He could barely think. "I don't know what I'm doing. But... I know this is the right choice." He looked back at Candice bitterly. "Steven Stone wouldn't want me to come home if I had unfinished buisness."
"Ethan probably wouldn't want me to leave at a crucial time either." Blinking, Candice and Slick turned around to see Lance approaching them, cape swishing behind him as he moved through the grass, his eyes stern as always.
"I thought I might join you," said the Johto Elite. "Candice is right, though, Slick. You can't always do things in person. Sometimes you have to trust things to your underlings. And sometimes you have to let go of something to fulfill your true purpose. That's what it means to be a Champion."
"I'm not a Champion," said Slick uncomfortably. He couldn't look Lance in the eye. Lance was one of the greatest trainers in all of Japan, after all. It had never felt right to compare himself to Lance, or Steven Stone, or Brendan, or Ethan, or Red, or any other. "I probably never will be one."
Lance watched him, amused. "Well, whatever you choose to do, you might want to give your place another look," said the Elite, gazing out to the sky. "There's a Mew in that villa you're staying in, and she's been waiting for you since you got back from Seabreak."
"What on earth is going on here?"
Thalia, Insyte, Sparktail, and Ferricia turned around to see Slick standing in the open doorway, staring at the Mew and the music box. "The music box-- of course," breathed the Elite, incredulous. Closing the door behind him, he approached the feline, his heart pounding. "Mew... you were waiting for me?"
The Mew purred again as Slick knelt down by his fragmented team. Closing its eyes, the Mew's body glowed; then, opening its eyes again, it met Slick's stare calmly, and spoke in the language of thoughts. "Aurton Slick Silversky," greeted the feline. "O Hoenn's Elite... Do you remember a dream that came to you, five years ago?"
Confused, the other Pokemon stared at their Trainer, who froze. "Yes," whispered Slick, beginning to shake. "I remember..."
Not a dream, but a nightmare of a cataclysmic future. Where hunger and thirst consumed the earth, leaving it barren and lifeless. Where man and Pokemon were naught but dust. Where hope did not exist. A dream that had shaken him from sleep and driven him to hug his Pokemon, and never let them go...
"Slick of Hoenn," echoed Mew, stirring Slick from his memories. "Your homeland is under attack. Your people are scattered and afraid. You must return to them, and save them from ruin."
The Trainer stared at Mew. He was born and raised in Viridian; it had only been over the course of his journey that he entered the Hoenn League. "Kanto has many good trainers--"
"Kanto and Johto shall be locked in bloody siege in the coming weeks," said Mew, bowing its head. "But a terrible new ally, the Red Dragon, has joined the Exile's side. And now, she is only hours from her destination. Only hours from your homeland..."
And as Mew spoke, images filled Slick's head of wild Pokemon flooding into cities and setting them ablaze, dragging humans and domestic Pokemon from their houses and tearing them apart. Not the cities of Kanto, where he was born. The cities of Hoenn, the land he'd come to love through all these years.
"I don't understand," whispered Slick. "Sinnoh is... too far. It would take two weeks for Ferricia to fly us home..." He rose to his feet, shaking his head. "Even... even if what you say is true... How can I believe?"
Mew shook its head. "In your years of adventure, you have heard many fables, and seen many legends come to life," said the feline gently. "But now you shall learn another. For in ancient times, the one named Giratina was a god."
"Once upon a time, when evil invaded from beyond the stars, Arceus created three dragons to save the world. Dialga, to protect the river of time. Palkia, to rectify the mesh of space. And Giratina, to bind the passage of life and death. On that day, the world's boundary was defined. On that day, the universe was born. "
"At war's end, an exhausted Arceus took to eternal sleep, trusting this world to the winds. In his stead, Dialga and Palkia continued to watch the world... protected the timespace boundary... guided us in our dark hours... protected us from oblivion."
"But Giratina had no such purpose. For his was the place where the boundary is thinnest. A void without structure or order, a window into the aether that is neither life nor death. Thus, he grew jealous of his brethren, worshipped by both man and Pokemon. ""
"Living in darkness, he swore to purge the world of light. He cried for death upon the gods who were his brothers." Mew closed her eyes. "But his actions shook the world and stirred the essences of the wind..."
"On that day, Giratina released the darkness from beneath the earth, rising from the depths to claim dominion of the world. Human turned upon human, and Pokemon turned upon Pokemon. On that day, the world was consumed by chaos."
"But he was stopped," muttered Slick. "The myths of Sinnoh say he was sealed away."
"Yes," said Mew softly. "One fateful day, a human discovered a Pokemon lost in the woods. Both fugitives fleeing from Giratina's soldiers. The duo formed a close friendship. On that day, they swore to save their world." She smiled. "Do you know the name of that human?"
Slick nodded numbly. "Aluxiver, the First Trainer," he whispered, almost reverently.
"Aluxiver and the Pokemon traveled a long, long journey," continued Mew, her eyes filled with centuries of wisdom. "They called upon earth, upon sea, upon sundered sky. They traveled to every land, touching the hearts of Pokemon and humans alike."
"Together, as friends, as companions, as partners, they rallied the world," said the Mystic of Hope. "And with the Divine Wind at their backs, Aluxiver and his Pokemon defeated Giratina, banishing him to the chaos beyond the world's boundary."
"Chuuu?" On the floor, Sparktail and Thalia exchanged glances. "Leaaa."
"For two thousand years, the Japanese have upheld the pact between Aluxiver and his Pokemon companion, from the northerneastern capes of Sinnoh to the southwestern isles of Hoenn; and the world has followed its example. For two thousand years, Giratina has stewed in exile." She lowered her head. "For he has not forgotten the shame of defeat.
The dream had returned to Slick in its entirety. The endless hunger, the endless night. The hour of beasts and the fall of man. Rush gone. Rush taken from him. "Please stop," gasped Slick, breathing heavily, covering his face with his hands. "You've convinced me... Yes... I must go back. But how? How can I warn everyone, before the Exile arrives?"
Mew smiled sadly. "It is too late to outrace your enemies," said the Mystic of Hope, closing her eyes. "But perhaps..." Her body began to glow; flickering, multicolored light flowed from her paws and tail into a swirling sphere. "Perhaps... you can arrive just behind them."
The air shook as Slick reached out for the tiny ball of swirling light, falling into his hand as a glowing crystal. "Trust in me, and in the world," said Mew, as the Trainer stared down at the mysterious gemstone in his palm. "Let your heart and mind flow freely... and the Teleport Gem will take you home."
Exchanging glances, Slick's Pokemon gathered around Slick, Ferricia's beak on his cheek, the others clinging to his leg. Trust in Mew, thought Slick numbly, his heart pounding. Trust in the voice of light. Hoenn... his home... heart of the wilderness...
"Never forget Aluxiver's example, Silversky," said the Mystic with a sad smile, the villa fading to white. "By sages of prophecy untold, or ancient legend spoken in times of old... we must unite together as one, Pokemon and human, lest vengeance make the world undone."
Then, the light of the Teleport Gem swallowed Slick and his Pokemon, and they were gone.
Chapter 11: City of Dust
Slick and his Pokemon appeared in the middle of a collapsing city. All around them, Rusboro was in chaos. People were swarming in every direction. Sparktail could see a blue hammerhead dragon whose wings were attached to the bottom of its arms, as well as an army of Rhydons, attacking people.
The dragon was crushed and smashed open a wide path of destruction. She trampled humans and cars, devastating houses and other buildings. In comparison, the Rhydons at her side seemed as insignificant as Magikarps, compared to this beast. The trainer staggered toward the Devon Corporation office building. "Garchomps don't live in Hoenn," he whispered faintly. "Welcome home, Slick."
Hoenn. His adopted homeland. And the farthest region of the country from Sinnoh. If Giratina's forces had come this far, then they must be swarming across Japan. "Mew got it wrong," he muttered. "I was born in Viridian." But it was more painful to see Rustboro under attack than if he were to see Viridian in the same state.
Chunks of a collapsing building fell towards them. "Run!" ordered Slick, realizing he couldn't get to his Poke Balls in time. Slick, Sparktail, and Thalia all ran off into the street. As the falling debris impacted the ground, rock shrapnel flew through the air. Shaking the ground with each step, and yet moving faster than anything Sparktail had ever seen before, Garchomp charged through the city, launching itself towards the largest building.
Garchomp was joined by four Rhydons. They surrounded the building, smashing at the walls vigorously. Sparktail looked up at his trainer. But Slick stood there, not moving, maintaining the same expression of shock and terror. Desperately, the Raichu tugged at his trainer. They had to get moving!
Slick blinked. Slowly, he nodded. "Right," he whispered, trembling. I'm an Elite of Hoenn... I can't afford to lose focus." He stumbled through the chaotic streets and to the Garchomp, Sparktail and Thalia following him.
Slick said, "There could still be people in there. As Hoenn Elite, I'm honor-bound to get them out safely."
A voice behind him pointed out, "But you don't need to be alone."
Slick turned around to see Steven Stone, the Champion. "Sir, what are you doing here?" Slick asked.
"I don't think now's the time." replied Steven Stone, studying the Garchomp, who had not taken notice of them, but continued to tremble the earth and the Devon Corporation building. "You take out the Rhydons. I'll go after Garchomp." Sending out his Metagross and Aggron, Steven charged at Garchomp.
Slick, Sparktail, and Thalia approached a pair of Rhydons, one of which was larger than the other. As the duo turned to face the Elite, a whirling leaf-blade slashed the larger Rhydon across the chest. "Yah!" shouted Thalia as she sprang forward, throwing razor-leaves to finish it off. Growling, the smaller Rhydon charged at Sparktail, who landed a brick-shattering strike to the chest, following up with an iron tail strike to the head.
As the Rhydons fell to the ground, They moved onto the third Rhydon, who had stepped back from its demolition to survey its progress. Thalia leapt backwards as fireballs flew from its mouth. At Slick's order, Sparktail readied another iron-tail strike. But before Sparktail could act, the Rhydon swung an arm into Sparktail, sending him flying. Dodging fireballs, Thalia pounced and caught the Raichu in midair, gently setting him down.
"Good work!" called Slick as the Leafeon sprang behind the Rhydon and sliced its throat with a leaf blade. Landing, she tossed a grass-woven rope to Sparktail, who caught it as the fourth Rhydon came charging at him. Swinging the grass-rope wide, he tripped the Rhydon, causing it to hit the ground, hard. A tail strike to the head knocked it out cold.
In the courtyard, Steven continued to battle the Garchomp, riding on his Metagross. "You call yourself a Champion?" taunted the Garchomp as bricks and stones began to rain down. Blood trickled from thin, minor cuts all over her body, staining her scales red. "You are but a simple rock collector. But I? I am the Red Dragon. I am carnage. I am the Exile's sword--"
The ground was trembling as Slick returned, the building crumbling. Sparktail and Thalia raced forward as Garchomp lunged at the Champion. Sliding to a halt, the dragon spun to face them and kicked Sparktail, sending him flying. "Slick!" shouted Steven as his Metagross bombarded Garchomp with magnet bombs. "My father hasn't come out yet. Please find him!"
The Garchomp's kick sent Sparktail flying through a hole in the Devon building's walls, landing on the third floor surrounded by debris. Moments later, a second kick sent Thalia flying through a nearby window, landing next to the Raichu. "You okay?" asked Thalia. Sparktail nodded shakily, and they got up.
The floor was completely abandoned. "Where do you think everyone else went?" wondered Sparktail. "I wonder if they all got out safely."
Thalia didn't respond immediately. She stared at the large glass display case in the center of the room. Something abut it was making her uneasy. "What's in there?" she asked. "Let's take a look."
Trying to stay upright on the shaking floor, they approached the display case. Sparktail climbed onto Thalia's back and peered into the case. Inside was a stone tablet inscribed with a poem written in an ancient Pokemon script.
His eyes widened. He knew this language. They both did! "'Fire and water and earth and sky / Time and space and darkness nigh,'" he read aloud. "'At the ancient hero's mythic call / By light and life the shadows fall'..."
The tremors became extremely violent, and Sparktail was pitched off Thalia's back, landing next to the Leafeon. They both yelped as the floor caved under them, casing them to tumble down to the second floor. "Sparktail, Thalia!" called Slick from the stairs. "I already got Mr. Stone to safety--let's get out of here!"
They managed to escape the building as it collapsed behind them. Garchomp was nowhere to be seen, but the city was still burning, sullied, devastated.
Out in the courtyard was a man in a suit next to Steven Stone--his father, the president of Devon. Father and son, they stared at the rubble, all that remained of Devon. A lump rose in Slick's throat. "I'm sorry we couldn't salvage your company, Mr. Stone," said the Elite quietly.
Dazed, the man looked back at Slick. He shook his head sorrowfully. "Is that all you care about, young man?" asked Mr. Stone, looking out at the destruction. There were tears in his eyes. "Rustboro... they're innocent people here, boy. Innocent people... They didn't stand a chance."
Slick and Steven sent out their Skarmories. Slick handed Steven a revival pill, who fed it to Skarmory. Then Slick looked back at his two Pokemon. "Return, both of you," he said, activating both of their Poke Balls. As Sparktail and Thalia disappeared into their flashes of light, the three humans could be seen climbing onto Skarmory, and to safety.
Chapter 12: Iron Defenses
The Skarmory landed on the island in the center of Sootopolis. Slick, Insyte, Sparktail, and Thalia climbed down from Ferricia's back and recalled to her Poke Ball--as she was far too larger to fit through the entrance--then approached the building overhead.
This island had been the location of the Sootopolis Gym, before Wallace moved it to its current location on a high plateau above the Cave of Origin. But the old building still stood, refurbished and repurposed for government purposes. Now, it would serve as the heart of Hoenn's military operations.
Flashing his ID, the Elite strode through the open doors, his Pokemon following behind him. Inside, anxious men and women sat at terminals alongside their trusted Pokemon, holding hands and paws.
Heads turned as Slick passed--elated faces, cheers, and applause. There was a certain pride, after all, that Slick--third of the Hoenn Elite Four--had been the primary witness to the Exile's rise. The Elites of Hoenn were reunited! What chance did Giratina stand?
He couldn't look them in the eye. Even if he thought of them as his own people. He'd somehow held himself together this far, and he was afraid that if he met someone else's eyes, he would fall apart.
Behind the trainer, Sparktail and Thalia exchanged worried glances, and even Insyte frowned. What thoughts were going through their master's head?
Security checkpoint after security checkpoint. Pale and anxious, Slick flashed his Elite ID, continuing further into the headquarters. Passing through one last set of doors, he arrived in the command center. "Hoenn Elite, Aurton Slick Silversky, reporting for duty," said Slick with as much composure as he could muster.
At the head of the conference table sat Steven Stone, Champion of Hoenn. "Good to see you made it out of there alive, Slick," said the champion warmly. "At last, we're all here."
There were a number of individuals gathered at the table. Of Hoenn's nine Gym Leaders, six were present: Flannery of Lavaridge, Brawly of Dewford, Winona of Fortree, Tate and Liza of Mossdeep, Norman of Petalburg, and Juan of Sootopolis.
There were four chairs of dark, dense wood on either side of Steven's marble throne. In the first Elite's chair sat Phoebe, first of the Hoenn Elite Four, the ceremonial dancer of Mount Pyre.
Next to Phoebe sat Wallace, former Gym Leader of Sootopolis and second of the Hoenn Elite Four. Keeper of the Cave of Origin, and temporary champion during Steven Stone's year of absence.
Across from Wallace sat Drake, fourth of the Hoenn Elite Four, a seasoned veteran hailing from the legendary dragon-tamer clan of Blackthorn. "Hey Slick, we've got a surprise for you," said Drake, waving to behind Steven's chair. "Come on out, buddy."
A familiar, gutteral cry--tenative, then exuberant. Slick's eyes widened as Rush emerged from under Steven's chair. Sparktail, Thalia, and Insyte all gasped. "Rush!" exclaimed Slick, his face melting into a smile. Hurrying into the Swampert's open arms, he hugged Rush close, tears squeezing out from his eyes. "Thank the gods--you're safe..."
Warm, kind chuckles rose from the rest of the war council, and Steven Stone smiled. "It seems Rushing River swam all the way from Sinnoh to Sootopolis," commented the Champion. "Slick, you have a Swampert that would travel two hundred miles to find you. Don't lose track of him so easily--such dedication is hard to come by."
"Yes, sir." Patting Rush's head, the Elite sheepishly took his seat in the third Elite's chair, next to Drake and across from Phoebe. The air didn't feel so cold now; Slick found that he could smile and look the others in the eye. "If I may ask... what's the status of Hoenn?"
A grim air settled over the Gym Leaders again.
"It could be worse," said Steven, pressing a button on his control panel. Holographic images came to life above the table. "According from all reports, the leader of the armies in Hoenn appears to be the red-scaled Garchomp who attacked Rustboro City."
A revolving 3D image of the Garchomp was displayed, and Steven's jaw muscles grew taut. "I don't want to believe this--but this is Cynthia's Garchomp, Scarlet Streak," said the Champion grimly. "Cynthia reported her Garchomp missing after arriving in Battle Zone. The red Garchomp's markings and scales-- red hue aside--all match."
"A large fleet of helicopters was sent to evacuate Mossdeep," said Liza nervously.
"Unfortunately, Mismagii attacked the Space Center partway through," added Tate darkly.
"Most of the city was evacuated, but many brilliant minds were lost," they both finished solemnly.
Flannery grimaced. "Well historically, Lavaridge's gone unscathed through wars, even conflicts between humans and Pokemon," said the gym leader. "The townspeople won't evacuate even if I order them to; they just don't believe they're in danger. I can't convince them otherwise."
"Fortree's architecture makes an attack from outside unlikely to succeed, unless Giratina plans to raze the entire jungle," said Winona, gently drumming her fingers on the table. "But in case of wild Pokemon uprisings, we have an evacuation system of secret bases."
Steven pressed another button, this time showing a revolving hologram of Mauville. "Wattson's not present because he's overseeing the fortification of Mauville," said the champion. "Thanks to his renovations over the last ten years, Mauville makes an ideal military outpost.
All present in the room were well aware of Wattson's 'renovations', even Slick. Once an ordinary suburb, Mauville had been restructured under a single roof, a modern castle of a city protected by steel walls, with housing units organized into a grid over a large, bustling mall. Mauville had become the largest city in Hoenn, dwarfing even Sootopolis and Lilycove.
"I'm not sure if that's a good idea," said Slick tenatively. "There might only be four entrances to us humans, but Pokemon don't really stick to the roads."
Steven hit another key, displaying a cross-section of Mauville's walls, each layer reinforced and tightened.
"Sir Wattson has enlisted the help of Lieutenant Surge from Vermillion," said the Champion, zooming back out. Rows of sentries appeared along the top of the wall. "They'd put up a good fight against the Red Dragon."
Slick shifted uncomfortably. "What about Sootpolis? We're enclosed by natural walls."
Wallace smiled and nodded. "While Wattson fortifies Mauville to draw Garchomp's attention, we'll be evacuating people here," replied Steven, hitting another key. Mauville was replaced with a revolving 3D model of Sootopolis. "Wallace here is in charge of those defenses."
"Liz and Tate have agreed to set up a barrier over the crater," said Wallace. The twins nodded fiercely. "My associates here in Sootopolis are currently rounding up a pod of Wailmers to guard the underwater entrance.
Phoebe looked displeased. "As I said before, Sootopolis simply doesn't have the capacity to hold that many people," she warned. "We may well be gathering all of Hoenn for the slaughter."
"Capacity won't be a problem," said Steven Stone immediately. "Sootopolis has emergency shelters for use when the lake overflows." In the holographic Sootopolis, the bunkers flashed red. "Builders from Pacifidlog will build miniature floating compartments right here on the lake."
"Thanks to Dock from Slateport's shipyard, every watercraft from Slateport and Lilycove will help to evacuate each city," said Wallace softly as the hologram zoomed out to show the entire Hoenn region. He traced naval routes on the floating map with his finger, connecting Slateport and Lilycove. "Every time"
The tension in the room was slowly dissapating, but Drake still looked grim. "Let's not forget how easily plans can go awry," warned the salty old Elite. "Not everyone will want to run and hide. We all know how vicious a Pokemon cornered in its den can be--and there's people in Hoenn, in any region, who'd be willing to fight to the bitter end."
Three days passed.
The defenses surrounding Mauville were impressive, to say the least. Iron fences with coils of electrified wire enclosed Mauville's four entrances, each reinforced with steel shutters. Wattson, the city's wary gym leader, watched from the rooftop gardens as soldiers emerged from prefabricated shelters, camped at each gate. Carrying long-barreled rifles, their Pokemon partners beside them, the soldiers patrolled the city's borders with heavy, cautious steps.
Garchomp came marching over the horizon on Route 117, leading seven Rhydons and a horde of Carnivines, Yanmegas, Dusclopses, Macargoes, and Venemoths. She lifted her monstrous maw to the sky and screamed; at once, a cluster of Drapions swooped upon the city from the south, followed by a herd of Ludicolos emerging from the river to the east.
Alarms blared. Hundreds of soldiers swarmed to their positions with their Pokemon, establishing a massive perimeter around the entire city. Bullets and energy bursts streamed forth from the walls of Mauville as the Red Dragon assaulted the city on all four sides.. Loyal Linoones scurried across the streets, back and forth between the ammunition pile and their trainers, determined to protect their land from the Exile.
Garchomp's army retaliated, throwing giant boulders, and firing shadow balls/fireballs/razor leaves/signal beams. Humans and Pokemon of both sides were killed. The attacking army retreated, and the humans regrouped and/or reloaded. Then Garchomp led another charge, suffered casualties, retreated, charged again, was driven back again, and so on and so forth.
Furious, Garchomp and the remnants of her army regrouped on Route 117..One by one the Dusclops es gathered in a line before Mauville City, opened their bodies, tossing their top halves backwards like hatches. Humans stared in horror as a horde of Haunters floated out from the Dusclopses' insides, carrying Electrodes in their arms, eyes gleaming with violet hatred.
Garchomp roared, pointing both claws towards Mauville City. The entire army ran towards the town in perfect formation. "Hold your position!" yelled Watson, pointing at Garchomp and her deadly force. "Shoot the Electrodes! Don't let a single Haunter get too close! Come on, boys!"
The soldiers obeyed and opened fire. Delcattys, Manectrics, Vulpixes, Mightyenas, Absols, and a hundred more Pokemon joined their trainers' sides, all heeding the commander's orders, all striking out with every last burst of energy at the bombing fleet, knowing that one missed shot would spell their doom.
Black smoke filled the air as Electrodes exploded on the ground, raining agony upon the soldiers' ears, accompanied by unearthly shrieks as murderous wraiths tumbled through the air, the Red Dragon's furious roars a siren to death and destruction. Rhydons, Drapions, and Ludicolos charged through the haze; but bit by bit, Garchomp and her army of death were forced back, the threat of bombing raids gone.
Gradually, the guns fell silent as the Red Dragon and her forces fled the road. Cautiously, a Manectric emerged from the west gate, soldiers' heads turning. The hound stared out over the scarred, jagged road; then, he lifted his maw to the sky, and let out a victorious howl.
The Red Dragon stood tall atop the rim of Mount Chimney's summit, watching the lake of magma swirling within the volcano's crater below her. Two villages were visible off in the distance through the the shadows of dusk; one was in a field of ashes, a glowing red light contrasting with the gray terrain surrounding it; the other village, this one at the base of the volcanic mountain, had been swallowed by a river of lava, streaming from an opening in the volcano's side.
Rhyperiors and Mismagii and all the standard infantry of Giratina's armies were gathered along Mount Chimney's slopes, their eyes upon their leader. "The infiltration was successful, my lady," said the captain of the Rhyperiors, who wore a red band around his left forearm. "All resistance in Mount Chimney has been crushed, and Lord Camerupt has been driven out into the wild."
"Good," growled Garchomp, her eyes narrowed to slits. She stared off into the distance towards a mass of approaching firelights, the Pokemon who bore their flames brightly indistinguishable in the night air's shroud. Yet slowly, as each of the Pokemon approached, their features became recognizable and distinguishable, their eyes burning with passion.
The great horde of Macargoes, Camerupts, and Magmars ascended up the volcano's slope towards Garchomp and her infantry, a Magmortar leading the advance. His arm-cannon was twice the size of a normal Magmortar's, as was the case with every Magmortar behind him. On his back was a tattoo of a heart crossed in flames: the crest of the Vulcanite League.
"I have dealt with your dissenters," said Scarlet Streak dangerously, her voice more than a hiss, not quite a grow. Her eyes gleamed like rubies, and her scales carried the scents of blood and seawater. "Now, you must honor your end of the bargain."
Nodding. the Magmortar strode forward and held out a red crystal to Scarlet Streak. "Master Heatran declares that the Vulcanites are with you and your master," said the Magmortar savagely. "If the great and powerful Lord Giratina will grace him with his presence, our forces and yours shall be one."
Chapter 13: Around the World
In the boathouse of Five Island, Wes paced up and down the crowded dock anxiously, waiting for evacuation ships. At thirty-three years of age, he'd long outgrown that famous image of a teenage delinquent-turned-hero. The image of Orre's savior.
All around him were frantic eyes, fearful voices, trainers clinging to their beloved Pokemon, waiting anxiously for evacuation. And they had every reason to panic; for none could say when the Exile's army might arrive.
The Snag Machine was still strapped to Wes's left arm after all these years, Espeon and Umbreon standing faithfully at their master's side. Twin brothers, born long ago from a mysterious duo who watched the stars. Under the revolving red lights, they closely resembled their parents.
Wes checked his PDA, reading and rereading the last message recieved. "They're sending a ship to pick you up. Stay safe." Twelve hours ago, sent from Rui. Though he'd never admit it in public, Wes missed her badly. Her cheerful voice, her perceptive eyes.
He strode up to a boy with a Sneasel. "Hey, kid. Any word on retrieval ships?"
The boy nodded. "Yeah, there's some rescue ships from Orre that should arrive within the hour..." Turning, he saw Wes's face, and his eyes went very round. "Are you...?"
"Wes of Orre," he replied dully. Of course, anyone would recognize him; he'd been a legend among trainers for ten years. It was maddening. "Stuck on this forsaken rock until help arrives, like everyone else. And you?"
"I- I'm Eddie," said the boy weakly. "Wow. Those ships... they came just to pick you up--"
"No," he replied flatly, waving around the room, now filled with at least two dozen. "They're here for everyone. Not just me."
Though the port was crowded, a commotion from the entrance caught the former Snagger's eye. "Hey! Stop it!" protested a boy with a red jacket over a gray Poke Ball shirt, sinking to the floor as a girl with a light-blue blouse and skirt tickled him mercilessly. "Will you just--WILSA--"
Their faces were very similar; brother and sister, perhaps? They looked vaguely familiar. With his right hand--the one without the Snag Machine--Wes reached out and pulled the boy and the girl to their feet. "Knock it off, you two," he told them
"We weren't trying to--" And they fell silent, noticing the Snag Machine on Wes's arm. They both became very still, and the boy pointed at his face. Wes tried not to sigh. "Oh, my...."
Just four remained in the council chamber at Indigo Plateau: Roger, Red, Dawn, and Ethan. "As you know, Blue has never been one to share his intentions," said Roger Silversky, glancing to Red, the High Champion. "However, he sent me a report from his grandfather, the esteemed Professor Samuel Oak."
The other three both perked up--for unlike Roger, they had strong ties with the renowned Pokemon Professor. "Ahem: 'Though Pokemon and humans have not always coexisted throughout history, their relations are akin to that between two Pokemon," read Roger aloud. "For wild Pokemon to suddenly unite against humanity in mass numbers is unthinkable."
"Sounds right," said Ethan, nodding. Red did not look so convinced.
"'The strategies employed by rogue Pokemon in Sinnoh point to a higher level of thinking. Pokemon are not innocent of virtue, but seldom would they wage war in such an organized fashion...' Hang on." Roger skimmed through the rest of the page. "Here we go. 'Based on this evidence, I propose that Giratina is not, in fact, acting of its own accord, but rather being manipulated by a human mastermind."
There was silence. Dawn covered her mouth with her hands. Red did not respond out loud. "It makes sense," pointed out Ethan. The young champion of Johto had a small fire in his eyes. "Team Rocket, Team Galactic; Cipher and Team Plasma. We humans are capable of carrying out cruelty on a far larger scale than Pokemon ever could."
All eyes turned to Dawn, Cynthia's represenative to the National Council. "What do you think, Dawn?" asked Roger quietly. "You're more familiar with Giratina's mythology than any of us. Could a human be controlling Giratina? Using Giratina to tear apart the world?"
Dawn kept her eyes low, staring down at the table. "I won't deny that many have tried to control the power of legendary Pokemon by force," she said grimly. "But in all honesty... I would suspect that Giratina is beyond any human's control."
Mewtwo stood on the shallow reef, surrounded by the ocean's turbulent waves. Moonlight illuminated his pale body. In his hand was the bronze staff that he had carried since Giratina's return. Mewtwo's violet eyes flashed in the night, oblivious to the stormy sea around him.
Mewtwo raised the staff high over his head, and channeled his psychic power outwards from his body. The waves in front of him began to swirl in place, gradually increasing in speed until it formed a massive vortex of churning water. The whirlpool deepened, reaching for the ocean floor. It continued to accelerate and widen. Mewtwo continued to channel energy into the staff and outwards from his body, spurring on the ocean's great vortex...
Reaching deep into the whirlpool, Mewtwo pulled out a blue crystal, its edges radial like a fish's scales. A cruel smile spread across his features. He lowered his staff, allowing the whirlpool to be engulfed by the waves.Brimming with a psychic aura, Mewtwo floated up into the air, and off into the night.
"Rex and Wilsa Silversky," repeated Wes as the siblings stared at him. Eddie was still standing nearby. "Is that the same Silversky as Roger, Elite of Kanto, and Slick, Elite of Hoenn?"
Rex looked astonished by the question. "Yes! They're our cousins," piped up Wilsa eagerly. "In fact--"
At that moment, alarms went off, and she fell silent.
"Please remain calm," called out desperate security officials as shouts filled the air, the crowd pressing against the dock's edge. "Rescue ships are less than thirty minutes away--"
His Espeon and Umbreon leaping up onto his shoulders, Wes frowned at Rex, Wilsa, and Eddie. Though all were young, they looked considerably more skilled than most of the rabble here. "You're Pokemon trainers, right? Come with me." Exchanging glances, the three followed Wes outside.
Staring out across the beach, they saw smoke rising from a memorial pillar. At the beach's far end, they saw seven Mismagii, two Electivires, and a Tyranitar dismounting from Gastrodon backs.
Wes's eyes widened as he saw the Tyranitar. There was an all-too-familiar prickle in the air. Pulling out his PDA, he shot Rui a quick message: "Can you identify shadow auras from a photo?"
The reply came quickly, to his relief: "Sure thing. Send photos when you're ready.
With trembling fingers, Wes aimed the PDA's camera lens and snapped a picture, transmitting it to Rui. Rex squinted up at him while Eddie looked away uncomfortably, Wilsa giving a nervous laugh. "Espeon, set up barriers. Umbreon, take aim."
As his Pokemon sprang into action, he looked to the three rookies. "You two--we need to stall. We can't let them reach the port before evacuation arrives." Numbly, they nodded.
The diamond had vertical stripes, not horizontal ones. There was only one Tyranitar he knew of with markings like that.
His PDA chimed with Rui's response. His heart sank; his suspicions had been confirmed. "All are Shadow Pokemon," read the message. "But that's impossible. That's... that's Horizon. Evice's Tyranitar!
Chapter 14: House Upon a Rock
The city of Olivine was under attack. Jasmine, the gym leader, was side-by-side with soldiers and trainers trying to drive back the Kingdras, Sharpedoes, Gyradoses, and Feraligators emerging from the ocean.
Jasmine was riding on her Steelix as it thrashed around the battlefield, having learned to control nausea and motion sickness long ago. It was probably the safest place in the battlefield, anyway, as Steelix's spikes were easy to grip with her knees.
But the other people were not doing so well. Many brought fire- and ground- types to prepare for a battle against Jasmine. A few even brought Camerupts. None of them were successful against water-types. The soldiers were doing badly too. Sharpedoes had bulletproof scales for the most part, as did Gyradoses and the Feraligatrs.
Even those with automatic weapons had trouble against them, requiring almost a full ten seconds of shooting to penetrate the scales. By the time a Sharpedo was dead, three more had climbed out of the ocean.
Then, to put the finishing touches of despair, Regigigas leapt out of the ocean and wrecked Olivine's lighthouse. Jasmine lookd up. "Oh no, Ampharos!" she cried. The lighthouse began to crack and crumble, pieces falling on humans and Pokemon of both sides alike.
"Torterra, I choose you!" called Rex.
"Dragonair, you're on!" called Wilsa.
"Lane, let's go!" cheered Eddie, patting his Sneasel.
Holding up their Poke Balls, the siblings sent out their trusted Pokemon to join Eddie's Sneasel.
Wes studied their approaching foes. Seven Mismagii, five Electivires, and a Tyranitar... no, not just any Tyranitar. Horizon. Evice's Tyranitar.
"Espy," hissed Espeon, his ears twitching.
"Umbree," growled Umbreon, his tail flicking.
"Horizon," whispered Wes, clenching his fists as Giratina's soldiers advanced. "You were free to go wherever you wanted. Why? Why did you pick this path?"
Screeching, each Mismagius raised her arms and released a burst of colored light from the gem on her chest, all aimed straight at the three trainers.
"Espeon, Umbreon, deflect those beams!" ordered Wes.
"Torterra, launch seed-bombs," ordered Rex, pointing.
"Dragonair, whip up a twister," ordered Wilsa.
Lane, prepare an icy wind," ordered Eddie.
A multicolored force-field appeared in front of Wes's Pokemon, the signal-beams glancing off and scattering. Hissing, two Mismagii flew forward at Espeon with jagged shadow-claws before they were swept up into Dragonair's minature twister.
Bounding across the meadow, the Electivires lashed out with crackling wires for whips, faltering as Torterra's seed-bombs burst across their eyes, followed by a salvo of Sneasel's ice shards. The gem on Espeon's forehead flashed, and a surge of psychic energy blasted a Mismagius, sending it reeling away.
Shadow balls flew over their heads before bursting on the sand.
A sizzling wave of electricity raked across the beach, and Rex tackled Wilsa to the ground with a scream. As he hit the sand, Wes glanced to his PDA. Ten minutes until ships arrived. Could they keep this up?
Getting to her feet, Wilsa stared at her brother. He'd saved her. As arrogant and hot-headed he might seem sometimes, but he really did care, didn't he?
Twisting and swerving, Wilsa's Dragonair darted frantically out from Horizon's reach, the Tyranitar's claws missing her by millimeters. Shrieking, Wilsa ducked low from a swooping Mismagius as Rex scrambled back from an Electivire's live wires.
"We're outnumbered," muttered Eddie as the four trainers found themselves back to back, taking a Poke Ball from his belt. "Rhyhorn! Come on out!" Rex and Wilsa glanced to each other, and reached for Poke Balls as well.
Three successive flashes of light: Eddie's Rhyhorn, Rex's Charmeleon, and Wilsa's Jolteon appeared before the trainers as four Mismagii rushed at them as an ominous, howling wind. A crystalline blast, a blaze of fire, a sizzling thunderbolt; screeching, the four Mismagii vanished into smoke.
At that moment, however, they saw five Staraptors swooping down upon them, all carrying Prinplups on their backs. Seconds later, an Electivire's burly yellow fist struck Umbreon, flinging him away. At the same time, the remaining three Mismagii regrouped and shot forward, circling in on Espeon. "Espeon, watch out!" shouted Wes as he hurried to his Umbreon's side.
As shadow balls flew from the Mismagii, Espeon swiftly burrowed down into the ground, the projectiles scattering across the sand. "You ok, bud?" muttered Wes, helping Umbreon up. Glaring at the Mismagii and the Electivire, Umbreon nodded. "Go get 'em."
Charging at the wraiths, the Umbreon unleased a pulse of dark energy that ripped straight through the Mismagii, who one by one vanished into black smoke, howling. At the same time, Espeon burst up from the ground beneath the Electivire, striking from behind with his hind legs.
Rejoining their master's side, Espeon and Umbreon watched as the Electivire toppled to the ground. "Thank the gods for Skill Swap," muttered Wes, hugging them both close. Both looked very exhausted and hurt. "I'm sorry. You'll be safe now." He recalled them to their Poke Balls.
Around and around, Wilsa's Jolteon and the other Electivire circled each other, locked in a stalemate of constant movement--unable to hurt each other.
Rolling to one side, Rhyhorn snorted and leapt at the Prinplups exchanging blows with Charmeleon as the Staraptors dove and tore down at Torterra.
Hissing, Eddie's Sneasel struggled to shoot down the Staraptors with ice shards as Tyranitar swung at him as a shadowy blur. Flying overhead, Dragonair struggled to get in a few more blows, but recoiled from Tyranitar's fearsome Shadow Rush.
"Rex!" shouted Wilsa as dangerous thunderbolts from her Jolteon and the Electibver slashed at the ground around her. "Aim for the big one!"
Stopping, Rex stared at Wilsa from across the battlefield--perhaps shocked to hear praise from her. "Come on! Do it," urged his sister. "You've got this! Your Torterra can do it. You can do it!"
Nodding numbly with unanticipated pride, the boy turned to his Torterra. "Torterra, forget the birds! Use your Earth Power technique!" ordered Rex. The tortoise blinked and frowned up at him, as if his master's words were inherently confusing. "Just do it!"
Raising a bow, Torterra struck the ground powerfully, sending a rippling force through the earth toward Jolteon and Electivire. Right as Electivire was about to sweep the Jolteon off its paws, the ground erupted with power under its feet, throwing Electivire violently onto its back.
"Okay, Jolteon! Shock Wave!" shouted Wilsa immediately. Looking up to the skies, Jolteon locked onto each of the Staraptors before firing off five rapid pillars of electricity, felling the birds one after another.
Joining Eddie's side, the siblings quickly finished off the Prinplups with a series of razor leaves and thundershocks.
A shrill cry rose as the Tyranitar grabbed Wilsa's Dragonair and flung it headfirst into Eddie's Sneasel. "Lane!" cried Eddie, diving forward to catch his Sneasel, Wilsa recalling her Dragonair.
"Torterra, Earth Power!" ordered Rex as Horizon advanced. Torterra stamped the ground, and the earth flared up beneath Tyranitar--but as the dust cleared, the towering Pokemon was left unfazed.
For the briefest moment, they saw a black smoke clinging to the Tyranitar's scales. Ah,
thought Wes. Is this what Rui sees?
And yet--if Tyranitar had an invisible aura--it only made his scales gleam brighter in the sunlight.
"The laws of the universe cannot apply to the universe's conqueror," sneered Tyranitar. "Behold!" Arms spread, he sprang at the three trainers--would have torn them to pieces, if not for Espeon's quick force-field; but as it was, the trio were flung onto their backs.
With furious sounds, Torterra, Charmeleon, Rhyhorn and Jolteon gathered in front of their trainers, as if to protect them.
"The Exile's time rises," declared the Tyranitar. "And I am the light that will guide the world unto this new era."
Slamming a powerful fist into Torterra, Horizon smashed his forehead into Charmeleon, his tail sending Jolteon flying as he stomped Rhyhorn into the ground, ignoring the trainers' horrified screams.
"Stop!" shouted Wes.
Turning, Horizon's eyes fell on Wes, and he froze. A tingle ran through Wes's veins as Tyranitar looked him in the eye. With silent dismay, Eddie, Rex, and Wilsa recalled their fallen Pokemon, clutching the Poke Balls close to their hearts.
"Wes," croaked Horizon, taking a step forward. The former Snagger stared at the great Pokemon lumbering toward him, at Tyranitar's distorted, sickly eyes. "Ten years. Ten long years, since we parted."
Snagger and Shadow stared at each other. Just like the old days. I thought it was freedom you wanted,
thought Wes bitterly. Now, you've called the shadows back into your heart. Didn't our time together mean anything?
"Man is cruel. You know this. I know this. We saw man's true face. Giratina is Pokemon. He understands our hearts, far more than any man could."
The old hero held an empty Poke Ball in his left hand. The Snag Machine had not been used in a long time--but if that was what it would take, to free Tyranitar from Giratina's control.
"Come with us. We can purge the world of its corruption, of the lie that is human kindness. Just as you once did."
The Snagger's fist tightened. It seemed impossible for Horizon to think such thoughts--to believe such thoughts. Was this Tyranitar's true voice? Would it be a lie, if Tyranitar were to be purged of the darkness?
"You guys! Come on!"
Voices erupted from the boathouse--now packed with white vessels. Trainers and Pokemon stared blankly, the thought-field fizzling away. Watercrafts had arrived in the heat of the battle--modern, silent crafts; and the people of Five Island were filling the boats with all haste.
"Let's go," gasped Wes, lowering the Poke Ball as Espeon and Umbreon leapt onto his shoulders. Tearing his eyes from Tyranitar, he looked to Rex, Wilsa, and Eddie. The old hero glanced back to the dumbstruck Tyranitar. "Now or never!"
Up to the boathouse, onto the last watercraft. As they sailed away from Five Island, Wes saw the crestfallen look in the Tyranitar's eyes. Saw a paw reach out to him, the jaws parting slightly to call him back. Saw pleading eyes giving way to sorrow--and from sorrow, bitterness.
"You did great, all of you," he told the trio.
Rex shifted uncomfortably. "We did what we could." Wilsa and Eddie nodded. "We probably couldn't be a hero like you, though.
Hero? I'm no hero,
thought Wes bitterly as they sped off across the sea. Perhaps I never was.
In Kanto, Fuschia City was under attack. The army was, for once, more than the generic Rhydon-Mismagus combo. It contained Infernapes, Salamences, Machokes, and Parasects. It was led by Darkrai.
The humans were led by Kanto Elite Koga, once the master of Fuschia, and now its would-be savior. Route 19 had been cleverly ambushed, and covered with barbed wire. Of course, it wasn't expected that the traps would stop the army, but they should at least slow and weaken it..
Darkrai saw through every last one of the traps, thanks to his Kadabra squad. He cackled. When Giratina offered him the choice of any soldiers in his army, Darkrai had requested Parasects as cannon fodder, and for no other reason. It was almost laughable.
Mewtwo, the three birds, Garchomp, and Tyranitar hadn't even bothered to include weak underlings to absorb ambushes. Only Giratina himself had done this, in the battle of Seabreak Castle; and it wasn't even necessary at that moment.
Darkrai directed three parasects directly into the traps. As the traps triggered, all hell broke loose. Hidden Voltorbs buried underneath detonated. Boulders fell from the hills on either side of the route. Spikes shot out from holes in the ground.
Soldiers and Pokemon came running out of houses, preparing to mop up the rest of the army. In theory. A line of Foretresses formed in front of the soldiers. None of the soldiers showed any surprise that the traps had failed.
Amazed by the soldiers' discipline, Darkrai ordered his entire army to charge. The humans and Kadabras opened fire: humans with automatic fire, kadabras with psybeams. Infernapes and Machokes leapt at the Foretresses. More humans lined up behind the soldiers- Janine and her gym staff, sending out Poison-types. As the battle continued to worsen, Darkai let out an unearthly cackle.
Chapter 15: Sea of Chaos
A massive fleet of helicopters landed in Sootopolis City, covering almost every ledge and platform within the mountain. Sootopolis City was becoming a rendevous point for all the cities in Hoenn. Some of the helicopters came from Dewford Town.
Others came from Petalburg City and the two towns nearby. None came from Fallarbor or Lavaridge. PokeNav satellites showed both towns as smoking craters. Sparktail thought that Slick might have another breakdown from this, but Slick was barely fazed.
There were also submarines entering the city from Slateport. After the attack on Mauville, Slick evacuated Slateport immediately. All of the submarines would be stored in the underwater entrance into Sootopolis to block off that access.
The most challenging defense of Sootopolis were Tate's and Liza's barrier, blocking off the crater. Any attacker that could fly could easily enter the city that way.
Lake Helena was filled with floating houses, using the architecture of Pacifidlog Town as the template. Similar compounds were being built across Japan.
And Slick began to crack.
In Red's chamber, six screens flashed to life. There was a brief pause. "Report," said Red as he stared at the Council.
Cynthia said, "All of the Rangers in Almia have joined us in the Battle Zone. Magnezones blockaded the bay, held back by the Dragonite herd. However, fifteen hours ago, many of the Magnezones dispersed."
"The Magnezones just flew off, leaving the bay open?" said Gold, frowning.
Cynthia shook her head. "No. About a third of the Magnezones remained, neither attacking nor retreating. Their purpose seems to be merely to blockade us."
Gold sighed. "All right. It's my turn. Olivine City was conquered, blown to bits, the whole nine yards." Chri[s]' jaw dropped, leaning forward into the screen.
Gold continued, "Jasmine and many others fled Olivine City, taking refuge in Ecruteak, which is now under attack. For such an old city, however, it's putting up a good fight." In the distance, gunfire could be heard in the background.
There were no questions, so Roger went next. "Fuschia City is under siege. It has been under siege for two days now. The attacking army was led by a Darkrai, calling itself the Black Prince."
"'Was' led?" repeated Red.
"The Darkrai has not been seen for some time," explained Roger. "Furthermore, Tyranitar's army has been sweeping through the Sevii Islands. We have confirmed that this is Horizon, formerly the prized Shadow Pokemon of Cipher's head, Evice."
Now it was Slick's turn. Though not a champion, he dutifully delivered Steven Stone's report. "Rustboro, Fallarbor, and Lavaridge have all been destroyed by an army led by a Garchomp called Scarlet Streak. Given the speed at which it reached arrived in Hoenn, it must have an alarming affinity for water as well as land. As of right now, all of Hoenn is fleeing to Sootopolis."
There were no questions. All of them noticed Slick's change: less wit, more exhaustion. Only the two screens remained--the represenatives of Unova and Kalos.
First came Alder, represenative for the Continental Unova Alliance. "Ambassador Wes has return to Orre," said the man, who sat cross-legged on the floor. "He has shut himself up in Realgam Tower, and is not available for comment. We have been tightening our coastal defenses, but Unova's coast is particularly vulnerable. We likely cannot provide any aid to the Japanese regions."
Finally, Serena, ambassador of Kalos. "We have noticed unrest in the wild Pokemon in these past months," she said, her voice clear but troubled. "Though Giratina is on the other side of the world from us, we will offer whatever aid we can, but that isn't much.To the Council of Indigo, my heart goes out to you."
The next morning...
When the emergency signal came, Steven Stone did not busy himself with speeches, or distract himself with infrastructure, or defer the reports to Slick this time. As the council adjourned, the 35-year-old champion announced that Garchomp and its forces had been sighted passing through and burning down Fortree City. Of these three events, the second was the most important.
Throughout the world, all of Giratina's armies were in retreat, except for Garchomp's. The army at Ecruteak had retreated. The army attacking Fuschia was now at a third of its original size. The Magnezones keeping the people of Sinnoh trapped in the Battle Zone's bay were mostly gone, with just enough to keep the area sealed.
In the Sevii Islands, Tyranitar had not yet seized defenseless Four Island. But Garchomp's army was advancing. Thanks to the diligence of the people of Hoenn, almost every city was evacuated. Only two remained: Sootopolis itself, and Lilycove City. There was only one possible conclusion: Giratina was amassing all of his armies to finish off Hoenn.
By three o' clock, the helicopters had been deployed already, the psychic barrier having been resealed. Rush was filling in Sparktail, Thalia, Ferricia, and Insyte on current events.
"Many people in Hoenn went through Lilycove and Slateport to get to Sootopolis," Rush said. "Their harbors contained many submarines left over from the National Navy. The submarines were originally for transporting tourists to Sootopolis."
Ferricia asked, "So why weren't the submarines in Lilycove used?"
Rush sighed. "Remember Aqua and Magma?" They nodded. "Well, Maxie blew up all of the submarines near Lilycove. This was why Archie was training Wailmers, so that they could rebuild a submarine fleet and protect it."
Sparktail asked, "So why did they need Captain Stern's submarine to get to the Seafloor Cavern?"
Rush explained, "Team Aqua had brought all of the submarines to Lilycove. Team Magma destroyed all of them, which were falling apart anyways and couldn't have gone that deep anyways. The submarines that are currently hidden under Sootopolis were based off of Captain Stern's model."
He continued with his story. "Anyways, Lilycove no longer has submarines, and everyone's only realized that just now. Garchomp and his army are approaching Lilycove City right now, and everyone there is trapped. So an entire fleet of helicopters went to collect the people there."
Half an hour later, the fleet of helicopters arrived in Lilycove. They filled up with men, women, children, and Pokemon waiting in Lilycove for another half-hour. Slick carefully monitored the helicopters for any sort of malfunction or miscalculation, such as whether more gasoline or helicopters were needed. Too many things could go wrong.
Slick tracked Garchomp's troops as they trampled through forests and crossed rivers. It was disturbing to Slick how Garchomp's army was swollen with Dusclopses, Macargoes, Mismagii, Rhydons, and many others. Still, the army was a land-based army--even if its general had mastered the sea.
And yet the army continued to march. Sparktail and his teammates were gathered around Slick, watching a computer screen constantly updating with the current status. Sparktail, Thalia, and Insyte were standing on Slick's desk, while Rush and Skarmory were looking over Slick's shoulders from behind.
Garchomp and her army were less than five miles from Lilycove now. Several dozen evacuation helicopters were having trouble. Their fuel tanks were depleted. Mechanics were scurrying around the remaining helicopters, trying to refill their tanks. Slick stared at the map, praying for a miracle...
And then, a miracle happened. Inexplicably, as Garchomp's army trudged along the bay, they began to slow down, coming to a stop. In Lilycove, the final helicopters had refilled and were taking off. Everything had gone perfectly- too perfectly.
Slick stared at the screen, dumbfounded. By his feet, Sparktail and Thalia exchanged equally confused looks. This made no sense. Garchomp had never hesitated to attack cities before. Why did Garchomp hold back now?
It hit him, then. "The Orbs!" said Slick, horrified. "Garchomp... must never never planned to destroy Lilycove yet. She's heading to Mount Pyre!" His face pale, he got up from his desk. "I... I've got to stop her..."
Sparktail stared up at Slick in dismay, and Thalia tugged on the sleeve of Slick's pant leg. Insyte frowned, and even Ferricia looked stunned. "Slick, think this through," pleaded Rush. "You can't just leave--"
But the trainer had made up his mind. "Twelve years ago, Groudon and Kyogre nearly destroyed this world," he said. "As an Elite of Hoenn... I can't let Giratina release that kind of power. You... don't have to come along if you don't want to."
The five Pokemon exchanged glances. "Not a chance," said Rush, taking Slick's hand. "Wherever you go, we'll follow you always."
Chapter 16: Battle of Hoenn
"Come on, everyone!" called Slick as he left the office, with Sparktail, Thalia, Insyte, Ferricia, and Rush hurrying after their trainer. As they ran down the corridors, Slick pulled a walkie-talkie out of his pocket, his fearful words too jumbled for Sparktail's ears to distinguish.
They emerged from the crater just before Liz and Tate sealed their barrier, revealing a storm-wracked sky torn apart by crimson streaks of lightning bolts. One by one, Slick and his Pokemon climbed up and onto Ferricia's back, their tightly packed bodies pressed together as physically possible on Ferricia's back.
"All right, Skarmory. You know where to go," called Slick, his heels knocking against the armored bird's body as if to spur her onwards. Ferricia let out a screech and leapt up into the air, her massive wings lifting her up towards the opening in the mountain. They ascended up through the hole, and into the open sky.
As Ferricia descended upon Mount Pyre's grassy summit, Slick leapt down from the Skarmory's back and sprinted up the carved stone steps, passing under a red shrine gate. His eyes widened as he approached the shrine, stepping over the fallen bodies of the shrine's attendants. On the white altar, where the Red and Blue Orbs ought to be, there lay only a shimmering orb of jade, etched with gold.
The Orbs were gone? But how? Where were they? Numbly, he stared at the lone Orb on the altar. Green and gold, the colors of Rayquaza, the divine wind. But Rayquaza wasn't a spirit of destruction. Rayquaza shouldn't need a crystal. And no stories told of one.
The air shuddered as Slick's fingers curled around the green Orb, the dominion of heaven collapsing. A thunderbolt struck the red shrine gate, obliterating it. At the same time, a mighty roar shook the entire mountain, accompanied by violent footsteps. Whirling around, Slick and his Pokemon saw the crimson-scaled Garchomp at the base of the mountain, stone steps cracking under her feet.
Terrified, Sparktail and Thalia stared up at the fearsome Garchomp, her Vicious hammerhead jaws and rows of razor teeth. All trace of her past allegiances were gone, her claws and scales stained with the blood of her prey. "We've got to get out of here," said Slick faintly, looking at his Skarmory. "Ferricia... c'mon--"
In that moment, Scarlet Streak lunged forward like a rocket, clearing the remaining slope in a single leap, tackling Ferricia in midair, crashing to the ground in front of Slick, the mountain shuddering beneath her impact. Rush snarled at Scarlet Streak as Ferricia hit the ground, unconscious.
"Slick Silversky of the Elite Four," growled the Garchomp in the language of humans. Her eyes shrank to slits, promising murder in their gleam. "Mankind's reign is over. Give up the Delta Orb, and this world shall remember its origin."
"On a day to mark the end of time forevermore, the Exile shall awaken to begin a new war," recited a voice. Heart pounding, Slick turned to see Lord Horizon climbing up the mountainside. "For the lord of darkness shall unite the shards of the earth... Restored from exile, he shall return it to its birth."
The Tyranitar smiled cruelly. "You should never have come here, Aurton Silversky," said Lord Horizon. "This shrine was protected against all who bear the Exile's mark. But you removed that protection. Our thanks to you."
Slick shielded his eyes as Mewtwo appeared in a flash of violet light, gliding to the ground. "Did you come looking for these, perhaps?" taunted Mewtwo, holding up the Red and Blue Orbs. Slick's heart skipped a beat. "The crystals of land and sea haven't been kept at Mount Pyre for years. Didn't the Champion tell you?"
One-by-one, his Pokemon were retreating, forming a circle around him. "No," whispered Slick, shaking his head, cold dread settling over him. He clutched the green Orb to his chest, glancing around frantically. "This... this wasn't how things were supposed to go...!"
Mewtwo smirked. "You came to this mountain search of superancient power, just as your kind did twelve years ago," said the Genetic Fiend, his skin pale as bone. "But you will find no such power here. This shrine contains only the Delta Orb, Rayquaza's tear." He held his bronze staff high, and darkness began to cover the sky. "You came to save Hoenn? You have sealed Hoenn's fate."
Garchomp, Tyranitar, and Mewtwo closed in on Slick. Desperately, Slick tried to form a plan. Think. Think. But he could not rid his mind of blinding white and vivid scarlet, of hollow black and pale death.
Tyranitar and Garchomp gave rising growls, their claws itching to tear into Slick's flesh. Patting Rush and Insyte, he stared at Ferricia. Poor Ferricia! Such a blow should never hurt her. Truly, there were no rules in war. Perhaps, it was time for Slick to violate a rule of his own.
Images of the fallen cities flashed thorugh his head as black storm-clouds churned in the heavens above, the chain of disasters that the Exile had set into motion. Reaching into his pack, he slipped a sphere of amber crystal into Sparktail's paw, a violet orb to the back of Thalia's neck, a leather band around Rush's arm, an apple next to Insyte, a revive crystal in Ferricia's beak.
"This isn't over," said Slick angrily, rising to face the three lieutenants. As Ferricia slowly stood up, the Elite pulled a metal-casing handgun fromh his belt. Standard model, issued to every Champion, every Elite, every Gym Leader. A weapon he never wanted to use. Yet this was the only way out. "We won't be trapped here by the likes of you!"
Tyranitar charged at Rush and Ferricia while Mewtwo leapt at Insyte and Garchomp lunged at Sparktail and Thalia. The trainer shot twice at Garchomp as Insyte barely dodged a shadow blast from Mewtwo, Rush climbing up onto Ferricia's back with the White Tyrant in hot pursuit.
A pair of massive shark fins struck into the ground only inches from Sparktail as he rolled out of harm's way with Light Ball in one paw, panic rising in his chest as he instinctively strained his ears for orders that Slick could not give. As the Red Dragon whirled around to tear apart Thalia's leaf blades, a thunderbolt shot from Sparktail's paw only to glance off of the Garchomp's thick red scales. Long golden claws dug painful gouges into the Raichu's body as Mewtwo brought his bronze staff slamming across Insyte to fling the Umbreon aside, and their yells of pain clashed in the heat of the battle.
Several more shots rang out from Slick's handgun as the young man backed away, while Ferricia barrel-rolled aside to avoid a hurtling sharpened bladed wheel of stone from Tyranitar's hand, the slender stone-edge ring falling to the peak and shattering into razor-sharp shrapnel behind Thalia. As Sparktail struggled to his paws, he raised his eyes to meet Slick's, and the two exchanged expressions of despair.
The area surrounding Sootopolis was in turmoil. Boats carrying soldiers were fighting off Gyradoses and Salamences with their weapons and their Foretresses. Rhydons were drilling holes into the mountain on all sides, while humans riding Magnezones attempted to blast them off. Metagrosses were fighting on both sides, firing missles and magnet bombs. Ships were wrecked by spontaneous rockslides and massive fireballs. Meteors fell from the sky, impacting upon the mountain and leaving countless smoking craters upon the rock face.
Within the mountain, chaos reigned stronger than ever. Houndooms set buildings on fire. More gunmen were shooting. Wailmers flew out of the lake, destroying homes and crushing people into the ground with their immense weight. A Wailord leapt into the air, regurgitating the submarines which had blocked the underwater entrance to Sootopolis. Electivires struck down all who attempted to flee Sootopolis through the water.
When Tate and Liza lowered the barrier to allow helicopters inside, Moltres and many Drifblims came with them. The Drifblims destroyed walkways and ledges by exploding. Moltres easily picked off human targets who were trapped on ledges. Then a Rhydon succeeded in drilling through the mountain. He collapsed into the water, and was followed by a group of Kadabras who formed a bridge. They were followed by Machokes, Brelooms, and Infernapes, all of whom wreaked even more havoc.
Then came the moment of total despair. The barrier had begun to reseal when a dark shadow covered the twilight sky. It was the Beast, the ancient dragon of darkness. Its wings were dark as a moonless night. Three blood-red claws glowed on each of the wings. The chest of the dragon was red and black, and had six golden claws. The six-legged dragon was a deathly pale gray, its head adorned with a gilded helm and a crescent crest. For this was Giratina the Exile, and the Hoenn region now lay ripe for his taking.
Mewtwo flung Slick to the ground. Bringing his hands together, Mewtwo released a psywave acrosd Mt. Pyre's peak. Grappling in midair, Ferricia and Horizon crashed into the ground across from Sparktail. A painful ringing filled Slick's ears as Mewtwo continued to feed the psywave.
"Embrace this truth," said Mewtwo, brandishing his staff, the fight draining from Slick and his Pokemon. "Weakness is inherent in mankind. You were doomed from the start." Garchomp and Tyranitar gazed at Mewtwo in delight. Lifting her head, Thalia continird to struggle frantically, desperately.
Mustering the last of his willpower, Slick readied his pistol, aiming at Mewtwo's heart. With clenched teeth, he shouted a single order to all his Pokemon: "Everyone! Hyper Beam!"
Without giving the order a single thought, Sparktail closed his eyes and summoned every last reserve of energy in his body, focusing it into a single, final attack, channeling every crackle of anxiety and every spark of anger into his paws. and his entire body began to glow bright white. Closing his eyes to shield them from the blinding pristine light which steadily intensified until his features were indistinguishable, the Raichu poured every thought and every fear, every horror and every anger, every regret and every wish into the light. One by one, each of Slick's Pokemon prepared to execute the legendary technique, the greatest of all attacks.
"Fire!" yelled Slick as he squeezed the trigger, firing his last bullet, the shot barely audible as beams of golden light shot from Sparktail, Thalia, Rush, Insyte, and Ferricia, sapping the last of their strength. Five Hyper Beams and one bullet struck Mewtwo, the psywave dissipating. Backlash rocked the mountaintop, engulfing them in an explosion of dust and light.
Chapter 17: A Day to Mark the End of Times
Giratina flew down through the crater into Sootopolis City, accompanied by the legendary birds, fire and ice and lightning struck the walls of the ancient hollow mountain, sending mighty showers of boulders raining down upon the helpless humans down below. The red spikes on the Exile's wings arranged themselves into triangular patterns, spheres of crimson energy gathering between each set of spikes before blasting outwards in massive spirals which sliced through homes and streets, as Giratina and its pair of crimson energy beams spun around in midair with roars of savage pleasure.
"Giratina!" shouted a voice above the cries and screams of terror, the voice of a shining champion. Hissing, Giratina glared as Steven Stone and his Pokemon formed a line in front of the Cave of Origin.
Steven's Metagross activated its pulse cannons, and a flash of steely light flew at Giratina's neck. "I am the beginning and the end," sneered Giratina as it swooped low to dodge the Metagross's attack. "I am the destroyer and the rebuilder. Behold, O Champion, for your kind has earned its retribution."
At Steven's signal, his Skarmory flew at Giratina, its talons tearing into ancient flesh. Enraged, Giratina seized the Skarmory and flung it into a rock wall. "Does this world still stand a chance...?" murmured Steven as he ran to his Skarmory's side, Sootopolis burning all around him. "No. This city... mustn't fall . Giratina cannot be allowed to claim Cynthia's final secret!"
Giratina swerved aside to dodge a blast of light from Steven's Claydol. "Look well at this city, champion," spat Giratina. Six shadow balls flew from its wings at Steven. "Look at the bodies of your soldiers, and know that this is justice for mankind's tyranny."
As if to defy Giratina's words, Steven's Metagross moved of its own accord, generating a psychokinetic shield around Steven. "Thank you, my friends," said Steven as Giratina blurred and shifted away to dodge a salvo of razor spines from Steven's Armaldo.
"Do you think yourself virtuous? Masters of fate?" shouted Giratina, its eyes burning crimson as it reflected a beam of golden light back at Steven's Cradily, blasting it away. "Just as the world has lain prostrate before mankind, so too shall mankind lie prostrate before the world!"
With otherworldly speed, Giratina smashed into Steven's Metagross, clapping its spiked wings against Metagross'd ball-bearing joints and riveted plates. As Armaldo charged in, Giratina's spiked tail swung into Armaldo and swept it into the wall. Horrified, Steven Stone signaled to his Claydol as Metagross desperately grappled for its life.
At that moment, Steven Stone heard footsteps from behind "So, that's where you were, Slick," said the Champion. "Come on, let's take Giratina down!"
No reply. Steven spun around. "Slick?"
A black cloak, rippling in the wind; a crimson collar, a crater of a neck, billowing with noxious smoke. "Master, I have the Griseous Orb," said Darkrai, joining Giratina. "Twas hidden in the Cave of Origin."
Claydol screeched as darkness engulfed its body, and it dropped to the ground. "Excellent," hissed Giratina, rippibg its wings from Metagross's deformed, near-defunct body. Dismayed, Steven ran to Metagross's side, its eyes flickering, legs caved in.
Laughing, Darkrai climbed onto Giratina's back. Beating its wings, Giratina rose up into the sky, leaving the defeated Champion in his battle-torn city. "Now, let the storm in my heart grow thick with venom. May all the gods witness how easily hope is extinguished: For this shall be a day to mark the end of times."
On Mount Pyre, Slick stared at the pillar of smoke rising from Sootopolis, the ashes of Hoenn scattering into the wind. "No," he whispered, his hand shaking. "Was I too late?"
A red bolt of lightning split the sky, silvery clouds tarnishing to sulfuric yellow. Shaking, Slick stared up as a great shadow descended from the heavens. Pure fear swept through him as he saw Giratina the Exile in the pale light and his fear was as fresh as when he first saw the ancient dragon at Seabreak Castle.
As the Exile descended upon Mount Pyre, his golden headdress split in two, reshaping itself into a war helm. His black, enveloping wings split into black tentacles tipped with crimson spikes, three on each side. Black chains peeled away from his stumplike legs, which shrank back into golden spikes, revealing Giratina in all his serpentine glory.
"You have fought bravely, Elite, but you fought in vain," said Giratina as Darkrai dismounted to retrieve the Delta Orb."Mankind has shackled this world to serve its own needs for two thousand years; but no longer."
Black tentacles shot forward, coiled around Slick's arms and legs lifting jim onto the air. The Elite stared into Giratina's merciless eyes, his Pokemon watching fearfully from below.
The air pulsed and distorted as Darkrai took the Delta Orb from its altar. Giratina smiled cruelly, and another black tentacle plunged into Slick's chest, impalong the Elite through the heart.
A howl ripped from Rush's throat. "Slick!" screamed the Swampert as Giratina tossed Slick to the ground. He and the others ran forward, his beloved trainer spasming, gushing blood, dying. His oldest frirnd, his oldest friend! "No!'
Too little, too late. Giratina rose up into the sky. "Come to save what you can? You, you can protect nothing," said the Exile. "Remember this day in the afterlife, Aurton Silversky. Remember that humans can protect nothing in this world! That for all your efforts, for all your hopes, you and Hoenn were ground to dust!"
One by one, Mewtwo, Garchomp, and Tyranitar rose to their feet, letting out triumphant roars as they saw the plume of destruction rising from Sootopolis' ruins in the distance--their cries barely registering. One by one, they joined Darkrai on their maste's back. Cackling, Giratina flew off into the night.
"No, Slick, no," breathed Sparktail as Thalia pawed helplessly at her dying trainer. Weeping, Rush buried his face into his master's body--not just trainer, but protector, friend, and family--ebbing, fading away.
"Please... please, don't cry for me," whispered Slick with his final breaths. "Please... y-you've got to ... .. please be strong... r-r-run and survive!"