Chapter 30: World Abyss
Lost from space and lost through time
Our world fades from the Exile's crime
Tooth and claw and sword and glade
Exiles clash, and four virtues fade
At the gates of Indigo Plateau, Thalia could feel the icy winds of Distortion blowing out from the dark scar in time and space before her. She could see the swirling shadows in that other world, the senseless chaos, the scarlet skies over a blackened earth. Almost oblivious to the raging battle around her, she could see the burning red eyes of the Great Adversary, the wild thrashings of Giratina.
There was a cry from behind. "Thalia! Get back!" yelled Sparktail as he struggled towards her. Her eyes wide, the Leafeon glanced back towards her lover, then back to the rift. This rift would take her straight to Giratina himself! Maybe, just maybe, this was their chance to finish off the Exile for good.
The Raichu's heart skipped a beat as Thalia vanished into the rift. Light panels flickering on and off overhead above badly cracked countertops and toppled chairs. A layer of blood, sweat, tears, and dirt clinging to his matted pelt, a cocktail of the heat of battle. Sheathing his sword, Sparktail broke into a sprint after his mate, crying out her name again and again as he sprang forward into the chaos.
From the sky's view, the effects of the battle were astonishing. After countless battle after battle of a nearly unbroken string of victorious massacres, the Army of the Exile had crashed against the unmovable wall of Indigo Plateau. Exile soldiers howled as the Pokemon League battered at them from the front and the Retrievers tore into them from behind, catching the soldiers unawares.
Waves of Giratina's men were flattened and scattered as the two fronts closed in on them. Rush felt a savage pleasure as he slammed his bracelet-strengthened fist into a Rhyperior, punching a hole in its abdomen. Never again would the Exile ever incite such great terror.
Reducing a Wormadam to ashes, Insyte ducked as Lyther thrust his crystal spear over his head and into a charging Bastidoon. "Lyther, the White Tyrants inside," called the Flareon as he lunged forward to tear apart a vicious Carnivine with his claws.
"Insyte, we're not a part of that war," called back the Lucario with his spear clutched in one paw, ducking a pair of psycho cuts slicing through the air from a Gallade. "We're here to stop Giratina's army. We can't let the human conflict distract us!"
A thick stream of orange flames erupted from Insyte's mouth to engulf a Toterra hurtling itself at full speed towards Shanala, the Gallade that attacked Lyther falling to the ground as Shanala struck nine iron tails shattering into the armored head of a Bastidon.
The Flareon swore as a Bronzong slammed down into the ground a few feet off, breaking into a run towards the maniacally clanking bell. "It's not up to you to decide what Insyte does!" Shanala told Lyther as she snared a diving Honchkrow with her tails, setting it aflame.
"Lugia trusted me with the Conclave's command," growled Lyther, his eyes narrowing as he thrust his spear into a Gastrodon, the membraned body bursting into slime beneath its shell. "I won't let him down!"
"Then don't get in the way of the Vulcanite League," growled the Flareon as he melted the Bronzong into a pile of molten slag. "They're my soldiers, not yours!"
"Leave the White Tyrant to me," roared a voice from behind Insyte. Blinking, the Flareon and the Vulcans around him whirled around to see Rush body-slamming a Toxicroak flat on its back. "I'll get him!" repeated Rush, ducking low as the Toxicroak swung with barbed fists. "You have other things to tend to!"
A chilling wind filled Thalia's fur as she emerged from the glowing rift, stepping out onto a large stone slab adrift in a vast sea of broken rocks. The first think she noticed was that the thrilling glow of life from the battlefield vanished almost at once, and the Leafeon felt very much as if she was in a vast cemetery scattered across the cosmos.
Upside-down waterfalls and hovering landmasses filled this world like a planet's graveyard caught in the pull of the Void's orbit like a dying star. Lightning crackled across the blood-red sky, causing translucent stones to faintly glow like dim candles; and all the while, matter and time and space were drawn into the heart of the colossal vortex that encompassed the entire depths of Distortion in its reach, greedily swallowing all that ever was and ever would be.
"They're like stepping-stones," said the Leafeon as she stared at the floating rocks around her. Her eyes turned towards the ring-shaped arena where the Exile waited with claws and fangs, and she mentally traced a path from her rock to Giratina's lair. Thalia smiled. This wouldn't be so bad after all!
"Thalia! Wait up!" called Sparktail as he padded out from the timespace rift, gasping as if out of breath. The Leafeon glanced back as the Raichu rushed across the rock to hug her—then stepped around and began to push her back towards Reality. "Listen... We've got to get out of here!"
"Whoa, wait, Sparktail!" cried Thalia, pulling away from Sparktail and stepping back to the edge of the rock. Glancing back to the Raichu, she pointed with a vine towards Giratina's distant shadow. "Don't you see? This is our big chance!"
Taken aback, the Raichu stared at her. "Thalia, we can't linger here," replied Sparktail urgentlyas he moved to try and carry the Leafeon back again. "Giratina will see us!" The Distortion World sent chills down his spine last time, and it was no less desolate now.
Thalia quickly stepped out of his reach before he could grab her. "Listeeen!" she replied with a sly smile. "This is Giratina's home, the Distortion World, right? Giratina himself! And he's all alone. Don't you see? We'll take out Giratina ourselves. We can end this war, just the two of us!"
Sparktail paused, then frowned at her. "Thalia, there's no way we can kill him on our own," whispered the warrior. "We—we're just a Raichu and a Leafeon. Giratina's killed thousands of Pokemon and humans already—"
Thalia gently covered the Raichu's mouth with a paw. "Sparktail—I know you're afraid one of us'll die—I know just like you know that I'm afraid," she said softly. "But I'm tired of all this fighting and all this death. And I just want the war to end. Sparktail... do you trust me?"
Sparktail stared at her as she removed her paw from his mouth. The Leafeon's eyes were bright, and he wanted to tell her no, that it wouldn't work, that they stood no chance and that they had to get back to safety—but he couldn't do it. "Yes... I trust you. But—"
She cut him off with a kiss, rising up onto her hind legs, forepaws on his shoulders, pressing her mouth to his, and then they felt the tingling warmth of each others' hearts. "Then I promise I'll live," murmured the Leafeon happily as they finally parted the kiss. "Come on... let's do this!"
The Raichu stared towards the giant floating ring-shaped platform at the end of the debris field, where a churning vortex of violet darkness swirled in the center of the platform beneath the mighty Exile's crimson gaze. Between tumbling chunks of earth, will-o-wisps flitted through the air, thousands of restless souls, wandering the infinite chaos.
Suddenly, the platform on which they stood shuddered. Their backs towards the Void, Thalia and Sparktail exchanged alarmed glances as streaks of sky-blue splintered open down throughout the endless skies of Distortion churning above and around and below them, and the two jumped back as one streak split apart the air in front of them.
Through the crack in time and space, the Raichu could see blue skies and mountaintops, a green arena, the llively warriors in Indigo Plateau and the ghosts of the Distortion World. "The barrier between our worlds are beginning to break up," said Thalia worriedly as they turned around and hurried down the narrow path of crimson crystal. "Soon, the two worlds will become one!"
The Raichu went rigid. If what Dialga said on that cold winter morning at Mount Silver was true, then the Distortion World would tear the real world to pieces! One paw at his sword, Sparktail looked at Thalia, then toward the place where Giratina waited for them in the approaching distance. "You're right. Let's do this."
Boulder to boulder, they made their way towards the Exile waiting for them in the abyss, clearing over small boulders and gaps in the rocks. Spurred on towards Giratina by the Distortion World's twisted laws of physics, Sparktail's thoughts flitted to Slick Silversky, the young man who had raised him from the wild and untamed creature he had once been, training him into a skilled fighter until he could stand proud beside the truly talented Trainer.
Sparktail could remember clearly the boy who had aspired so strongly to become Champion one day, the Trainer that had claimed mastery over the Hoenn region, and the young man who died resisting the Exile. What would Slick have been like, if he survived? Would he have been like Candice, a human survivor with no home and no fellow humans, taking refuge amongst wild Pokemon? Would Slick have found his way to the Conclave? Would Slick have gone back to Hoenn, gathered up the three Orbs that he had failed to save? These were questions Sparktail would never know the answer to—questions which were swept away in that single, ghastly moment that ended Slick's life.
At long last, Sparktail and Thalia arrived at the end of the path, skidding to a halt as they stared upon Giratina's terrible form whose tentacles thrashed at the air high above them. They stood on the edge of an immense ring-shaped platform hovering high above the void itself. The underside of the platform was riddled with hundreds of jagged spikes, and was tinted the midnight blue of darkest night.
Sparktail stared down through the center of the ring towards the immense churning vortex of swirling shadows, its monstrous revolving pulses slowly drawing in the infinite sea of debris of Distortion into its hungry depths. Hovering at the rim of the sinister maw lay the unconscious bodies of Mew, Celebi, Jirachi, and Shaymin, bound by violet chains of light to the heart of the Void which sapped away the vibrant souls of the four helpless Virtues.
Floating high above them was Giratina the Exile himself, his six massive black tentacles flapping rapidly in the Void's whirling winds with their crimson-tipped spikes like venomous stingers, his eyes pulsating with a sinister crimson light. The two halves of his gilded moon-crested helm opened and closed like a feral beast's mouth, the scarlet rings all along the serpent's lengthy body flashing with blood-red light. Six golden claws and six golden spikes protruded from either side of the hellish dragon's flesh like the arms and legs of an cruel insect, his tail thundering as it lashed violently against the opposite side of the ring platform. The wyrm's pale skin was leathery and gray as cold dead flesh, writhing with fury within as if with mammalian muscle, and Sparktail noticed a thin pale-red streak down one of the Exile's body sections.
Readying their blades, Sparktail and Thalia gazed defiantly up into the Exile's malicious gaze, the eyes which seared with destructive passion, the eyes of the Dragon to whom all things had been forced to worship, the burning red eyes of unending death.
"Welcome to the bottom circle of hell, Sparktail and Thalia," hissed the terrible dragon as he beat his tentacle-wings, his voice sending chills down their spines as they heard their names. Tilting his head back, the Exile gave a sinister smile to reveal a set of serpentine fangs beneath the golden helm, eyes like glittering rubies. "Aah, yes, such terror in your eyes, to hear your names!"
"Yes, little ones, I know your names, from the day that your spirits rose against me. Such pitiful soldiers that the Light has sent for me to slay..." Lightning split the skies as the Exile's wings thrashed high over their heads, his smile becoming a snarl. "Foolish beasts! Did any of you truly think that you could so much as lift a paw against me, without my knowledge? I, who would have purged this world of its corruption?"
"You're the corrupt one!" cried Thalia from where she stood beside Sparktail, stepping up to the edge of the ring, fur and leaves and eyes all bristling with an anger Sparktail had never seen in her before. "You're nothing but a heartless killer, Giratina! I've seen your camps, your cruelty, your slaves, your massacres... You destroy everything you touch. I swear that I won't let you win!"
The scarlet eyes flashed bright as blood, the chilling breeze whipping up Sparktail's fur and penetrating the warmth of his flesh. "Listen to the white taint upon your lips!" spat Giratina, his tentacle-wings flapping furiously in the winds of the Void as Thalia recoiled from him. "You think me the epitome of sin, girl? I have but turned mankind's own crimes upon them. Such folly is the white taint that must be eradicated from the world!"
Without a word, Sparktail stepped in front of Thalia, his blade between Giratina and his lover. "Aah, but of course," hissed the Exile, his great shadow looming more terrible than ever. Jets of rainbow light streaked out of the writhing Four Virtues' bodies and down into the swirling vortex below. "You cannot see the darkness, for light has blinded you both! Gaze down into the pit, and see the world for itself..."
A chill ran down the Raichu's spine as he stared down into the infinite howling chasm. Images of war, fury, and death flashed before his eyes, memories in black and red, a senseless mass of terror and hatred, fear and sorrow and bitterness, a terrible black wind sweeping past his ears. "Indigo Plateau is the cornerstone of your world," hissed the Exile. "Yet its mirror image holds the darkness of mankind's history, accumulated over two thousand years of civilization, absorbed from your world so that mankind would have their paradise! Do you still believe in your cause?!"
At that moment, black energy began to gather in the depths of the Void. Gasping, Thalia grabbed Sparktail and dragged him back from the rim as a massive violet column of light erupted up from the center of the Void with a tremendous explosion and shot into the skies, sending sky-blue streaks slashing across the Distortion World once more as the Four Virtues' chains drained their energy faster still.
"What is light and what is darkness? Who decrees what is good and what is evil?" shouted Giratina as the hellish light of the void engulfed him and the ring arena lurched beneath Sparktail's feet. "The light is but a fleeting thing that momentarily flashes into existence, and then dies away into the shadows."
Giratina's six tentacle-wings thrashed against the ring platform, sending shockwaves rippling through its translucent surface to bring Sparktail and Thalia to their knees once more. "Open your eyes to the truth, O blinded ones; for this world is a twisted, blackened thing, imprisoned by eons of shining lies!"
With a snarl, the terrible Exile unleashed a flurry of scarlet energy waves from his tail, the Raichu and the Leafeon struggling to evade the lasers. Thalia leapt at Giratina, striking downward with her swords outstretched. Quickly, Giratina swung a tentacle at Thalia to deflect the Leafeon's double slash. Thalia's blades rebounded off of the tentacle, and hurtled back onto the ring.
As the lightning glanced off of Giratina's golden claws, a violet rushing wind of swirling shadows flew upon Sparktail. The Raichu quickly leapt aside to dodge the Ominous Wind, another thunderbolt flying from his tail. Sparktail darted aside as the Exile struck at them both with each of his six tentacles, the thick black tendrils smashing down upon the ring platform as the two sprinted away to evade their foe's attacks.
Thalia flicked her ears at Giratina, shooting a flurry of razor leaves at the Exiled One. Giratina whipped around and vanished, the razor leaves flying over Sparktail's head and into the distance. Before Sparktail realized what Giratina was doing, the Exile reappared and slammed into Thalia with Shadow Force, knocking the Leafeon onto her side. "Thalia!" cried Sparktail, running over to the Leafeon's side.
"I'm... fine..." breathed Thalia as she struggled to get to her feet. Sparktail looked up at Giratina, a strong and fury coursing through his veins, a will to protect this Leafeon who had chosen him as her mate. Sparktail rose to his feet, drawing the sword from his back. Letting loose a fierce cry, Sparktail lunged at Giratina, slashing at Giratina's neck, a massive Thunder bolt erupting from the tip of the blade.
Giratina gave a savage roar, and swung all six of his tentacles downward like the spokes of a wheel, the red spikes reflecting the thunderbolt back at Sparktail. As the thunderbolt raked across his back, Sparktail let out a shrill scream as he was electrocuted by his own lightning, flinging him over the edge of the platform towards the Void. Gasping as his fingers and sword-filled hand clung to the rim of the ring-platform, Sparktail struggled to clamber back onto the floor as the Void's churning winds tugged at his lightning-bolt tail, the hateful eyes of Giratina quickly descending upon him.
"Sparktail!" cried Thalia, sprinting towards Sparktail as her mate struggled up onto the platform. She extended vines from her back and ensnared her mate as Giratina rounded upon them with pulsating tentacle-tips. Sheathing his sword as Thalia reeled him up onto the platform, Sparktail gulped and pulled the Leafeon away from a barrage of shadow blasts.
The two broke into a sprint down the platform as Giratina pursued them with lashing tentacles and thrashing tail, spitting fireballs at the fleeing duo. "All that you have acccomplished, all that you dream of," shrieked Giratina as he chased them along the ring. "Meaningless! Your lives are contaminated with the filth of humanity! Order, structure, law—all their unnatural corruption! And I will purge you!"
Suddenly, Sparktail and Thalia skidded to a terrified halt as Giratina vanished and reappeared in front of them. Violet light from the six tentacles gathered into a massive shadow ball, streaking forward to engulf the Raichu and the Leafeon.
At that moment, a blur of white fur flew down the narrow path, a dark horn-blade slicing the shadow ball in two. "Lute?" gasped Sparktail as the healing light of Thalia's Synthesis washed over his fatigued body, filling him with new energy. In front of them stood Lute, baring his teeth up at the Exile.
"At last, a warrior of the wild shows his muzzle," hissed Giratina, floating back to the center of the ring. "And yet, his claws are dull, his belly is soft; he has accepted the treachery called civilization." His crimson eyes were locked on the longhorn Absol as the three warriors stood in defiant unity. "Civil, wild, civil, wild; you betrayed your pack, and yet you would rebuild the Swordwrit? You can rebuild nothing!"
Civil and wild? What was Giratina talking about? But then he saw Thalia's eyes, and remembered how violent Lute once was, how Lute terrorized Thalia, how Lute almost killed him. But Lute wasn't like that anymore. Snatching up his sword, Sparktail leveld it at Giratina, his cheecks crackling. "Stand down, Sparktail," said Lute coolly. His eyes gleamed. "Giratina. You speak of betrayal. But everyone knows your entire life's been nothing but betrayal. I know what I'm fighting for. What about you?"
"Blinded by man, blind to truth! Foolish, silent, brainwashed... all of you are vermin!" shrieked Giratina with an insane fervor in his eyes, and he swooped down at Lute with thrashing tentacles. Thalia and Sparktail bounded forward, parrying Giratina's tentacles, the Exile's black tendrils a blur of motion that deflect edeach attack with perfect timing, before another salvo of shadow blasts flew from his crimson spikes.
The Raichu quickly ducked low to the floor and leapt aside to avoid the flurry, slashing at a tentacle that came sweeping towards him as shadow storms rained down from the sky upon his head. Firing a thunderbolt at Giratina's torso, the Raichu leapt aside to barely dodge another smashing tentacle as Lute raced down the ring platform, wicked slashes flying from his horn at Giratina's golden-spiked tail.
Barely dodging the swiftly-approaching glowing boulders hurtling down from the sky, Sparktail shot another lightning streak towards Giratina's helm with his blade. Shadow claws hacked at the air around the Raichu in a vicious whirlwind of vicious phantom claw-blades, and he frantically swished and parried the slashes, hissing as they sliced into his flesh.
"Swords were not born into the world; swords have no place in the world," snarled the Exile, swooping under Lute's diving lunge to come smashing into the side of the ring beneath Sparktail, who stumbled but somehow held onto his balance, stabbing at the massive golden helm before fleeing further down the ring. "Civilization was not born into the world; civilization has no place in the world!"
The sky-blue cracks in the Distortion World widened further still as Giratina let out a feral roar and the Void flared up with a pitch-black aura, and Thalia glanced worriedly up towards the growing rifts before desperately shooting several more razor leaves at Giratina.
Then, as Thalia sprang up into the air with swords outstretched a burst of darkest energy erupted from the Exile's maw and blasted Thalia in midair, hurling her to the ground with a violent crunch. As the dust clouds cleared, she did not rise. "Thalia!" screamed Sparktail, sheathing his sword and rushing to the Leafeon's side, Lute just behind him. Her eyes fluttered open weakly as the dismayed Raichu knelt down beside her, her breath quick and shallow. "Thalia—"
The Exile drifted back to the center of the ring, the World's Abyss whirling and shimmering beneath him. "Now watch well, for a new era is at hand," said Giratina. "When the abyss has consumed the last of the Virtues' light, it shall achieve equilibrium, and the boundary between our worlds shall at last be torn down." The platform shook, and Sparktail glanced up sharply to see tiny streaks of blue sky amongst the red. "The curse of mankind has lingered for far too long. Now, this curse shall end!"
The Exile raised his maw to the sky and let out a shrieking howl, exploding in massive shockwaves that violently hurled the Raichu to the ground once more. The sky-blue cracks all around them in the Distortion World splintered into a thousand more rifts between Reality and Distortion, sending eerie chills down Sparktail's spine as he again rose to his feet. Down below in the Void, the Four Virtues shrieked in agony as their souls ebbed away faster than ever.
"This is the end of the old order, the order of mankind's shackles," bellowed Giratina, his tentacles flapping wildy as a column of light erupted from the Void to engulf his body again. "This is the rise of a new world, in which the only governing law is survival of the fittest! Never again shall humanity poison this world with their weak-fleshed bodies!"
"We've got to do something," croaked Thalia, laying helplessly on her side as the trio stared up towards Giratina, with the battle of Indigo Plateau behind them and the end of the world before them. "Sparktail... we can't let him destroy the world!"
As the dark winds began to rise, Sparktail stared down at the Void. What would Slick have done? Slick was a master tactician; he'd always had a strategy to deal with his opponents. But Sparktail had never been a leader. Not in his childhood. Not under Slick either. Not even now...
"Sparktail! This is your chance," yelled Lute. Divine light shot from each of the four writhing Virtues and flowed down into the World's Abyss, the red heavens beginning to splinter. "We have to destroy the Void! Use your electricity to overload the energy matrix. Just like you did with Regigigas. That'll throw it out of balance, and it'll tear itself apart!"
Surprised by Lute's words, the Raichu reached with a paw to steady himself as the entire ring platform began to tremble underpaw from the force of Giratina's demonic ritual. "Will that work?" asked Sparktail, glancing frantically between Thalia and Lute. "What if nothing happens? Didn't Regigigas still self-destruct?"
"There's no time to wait!" shouted Lute, eyes narrowing to crimson slits. The platform was rocking back nad forth, tiny cracks spreading across the stone. "Whatever happens next, you've gotta stop that thing. Stop it for Thalia's sake, if nothing else! Now go!"
Taking a deep breath, the Raichu squeezed Thalia's paw before padding to the edge of the ring, meeting the Exile's fearsome gaze, cruel features bathed in a red glow. Leveling his blade down towards the howling vortex of light and shadow, he closed his eyes and gathered up the electricity in his body, channeling it into his paws and down his blade, his heart pounding with fear.
Letting out a cry, Sparktail gripped his sword tight as a stream of compressed lightning burst from his sword, blasting the Void.
The Void shuddered. Darkness warped and melted, ripping through Giratina's energy fields, coursing through the Four Virtues' bodies, the steady whine of its revolutions becoming discordant. Staggering back, the Raichu stared as the destabilized vortex began to draw in Giratina.
One by one, the Four Virtues glowed around Giratina. Divine light surged from their bodies, engulfing the Exile. The Exile screamed with fury as the light burned his cursed flesh, tarnishing his golden spikes, charring his leathery gray skin. Slowly getting to her paws, Thalia stared as the Exile thrashed blindly on pain, struggling against the Void's pull. Giratina had gone to great lengths to claim the Virtues' light, but he could not touch the light.
"No! The rapture shall not be deterred," snarled the Exile above the howling wind, with all the malice in his blackened heart, with all the pain in his scarred body. "You have forestalled it today, but you cannot undo destiny! Now... let the Exile ascend his rightful throne..."
Heart pounding, Sparktail raised a paw to shield his eyes as the vortex erupted into a brilliant explosion, releasing two thousand years of accumulated power in waves of shadow and light. Through scrunched, tearing eyes, the Raichu could make out Giratina and the Virtues tumbling down, down into the heart of oblivion.
"He's gone," whispered Lute as he helped Thalia to her paws. Sparktail approached the edge and stared down into the empty chasm, the swirling vortex gone, leaving only a bottomless pit descending into oblivion. Turning away, the dazed Raichu could not help but think the world seemed lonelier than ever.
"Sparktail! Watch out!" cried Thalia from behind. Alarmed, the Raichu spun back around as black tentacles shot out from the Passage of the Dead. Before he could reach for his sword, the tendrils wrapped around his torso tightly, and dragged the struggling Raichu down into the abyss. "No! Sparktail! SPARKTAAAAAIL!"