Re: The Surprising Adventures of a Glaceon in Unova (Chapter 57)
Wow... this was just... wow.
I realize I was almost right. To bad Zeph actually never came back to live. I liked his personality, even trough it was just an act from Diego.
And apparantly Diego isn't fully evil. The fact he didn't want to kill Boreas anymore and he (kind of) cares for N proves it. he just has to realise N is his friend. (Doesn't N realize Aqua isn't there anymore? Doesn't he realize something must have happend to her? What is he thinking? He probably isn't thinking at all...)
So.. I'm waiting for more surprising atventures.
Re: The Surprising Adventures of a Glaceon in Unova (Chapter 57)
Well, it's been ages since I updated, but here is a new chapter on the fic's first birthday!
Even villains have feelings, and Diego has them too. As you said, even he would be affected by such an experience.
Originally Posted by Tophat Dragoneye
Hehe, must be a strange dog.
On a side note, I'm happy Selene wasn't the culprit. When I thought about it today, she sort of reminds me of a dog I know. Not 100%, but close. I guess that's why I really like her.
Sorry for preventing you from continuing reading, I'll try to update more frequently.
Originally Posted by Gumdramon
No, I'm afraid Zeph really is dead. We saw him die back in chapter two. (Though of interest is that I originally came up with the idea of bringing Zeph back as a Flareon later in the fic all the way back in chapter 3, when I felt really bad about having killed him of and wanted to write more for the character. But as I approached the planned point where I was going to include him, chapter 50, I realised more and more I didn't want to bring Zeph back, because other characters introduced later had become interesting to write and Zeph was no more than a vague memory by now, and it would cheapen death in the story. So I had the idea of having Zeph return, but having it actually be Diego)
I realized Boreas said Diego was masquerading as a Flareon under Illusion, but part of my wonders if it's possible that Boreas's bro could have evolved in a Jolteon, I mean the part about Diego turning into Zeph as an Eevee makes me think it's possible Zeph did survive and did indeed evolve into a Jolteon.
Thanks a lot, that's great to hear :D.
Once again spot on characterization really really good. I really like the personalities of the Pokemon, humans, and many other characters in the story. You have some of the best characterization I've seen since I started writing fanfic, your group characterization is done very well and each character bounces off each other well without it feeling forced or awkward.
Never really saw Boreas as the leader of the group myself, I see Octa more as that, and I never intended for Zeph to be Australian, but being a non-native English speaker it's possible I accidentally had him use some Australian idioms without knowing it.
Lucius, the bad ass. Boreas, the lovable leader type. Selene, the nut job comedy. Zeph, the brother and he seems to be Australian if I'm not mistaken by his accent, Toxica the sassy nice girl, Aqua the cool girlfriend, and Octa the best friend and voice of reason.
Again, thank you, I'm very glad you enjoy my characters so much. I know what you mean with the flanderisation, I've seen it happen in many works of fiction and try not to have it happen myself. I try to make sure the characters stay characters and don't turn into personified traits.
You've taken these characters and personalities and written them in such a fantastic way where it isn't "overly done" or forced, in so many fanfics have I seen characters having those typical ways and them being drastically overdone to the point of flanderization. But, you do a good job of being very good and nicely vague at times with the characters personalities that leave me wanting to see more of them. Zeph, Boreas, Lucius, and Toxica are just some of my favorites.
Your characterization with Diego is very commendable because no one is truly evil, and by making Diego show more of a softer side you've shown the humanity in his character which makes me care for him since he isn't just the straight up jerk ass with no redeeming qualities. You've given a bit of light to his character in the same aspect N in the games isn't a evil human being.
Even the part about Drayden words, "As the city's mayor, I've given everything to development. But the newest things are not always the best." I really really liked this line, because it truly symbolizes and gives enriching characterization to Drayden. Plus it's a cool line also :P
Those little clues to Zeph's true identity were all planned beforehand while writing chapter fifty. I made a big list of little things that would give him away and make Boreas realise what was going on in chapter 56, and made sure to assign each of them a chapter where it would be put in so an observant reader could deduct it, like Boreas.
This chapters plot and story was really great. The overall plot of the story is fantastic so far, but the individual plots like these really are fantastic and feel gueninely hard worked on and not rushed messes which is nice. Diego supposedly masquerading as a member of Black's team until now really explains things how Team Plasma has been getting their info. Your Foreshadowing is just fantastic, I mean simple things like Zeph soaking into the mud, his fur's smoky smell, and Selene's landing on him really are things I've had on my mind but, I did not expect that to be Diego in disguise. Now, things look to be heating up even more with Team Plasma finding out hthe location of the Light Stone, Diego, N, Ghetsis, and Boreas fighting Diego, and Diego showing his more light side.
Thank you. And thanks for your in-depth review, I hope to see more reviews from you in the future and hope the long wait didn't put you off the fic.
Words & Description 7.5/10
Nice job, you do great on your word choices and descriptions. You truly choose your words great and really give me a feel for being there in the situation right alongside the Pokemon and people. It really brings up things well. Your variation on your words is awesome, "variety is the spice of life" you bring nice various vivid words into this story that compels me and keeps me reading.
N does realise Aqua is gone, but remember that Diego was planning to tell him she got killed in the battle in chapter 50. Ghetsis went to N after the battle of Dragonspiral tower and told him Diego was away on a secret mission for Plasma and Aqua had got killed in the battle.
Originally Posted by IVI
And, nearly two months later, you shall have them:
So.. I'm waiting for more surprising atventures.
Chapter Fifty-Eight: The Return
Octa awaited the train's arrival in Nacrene anxiously. The journey from Opelucid had taken a whole night, so he feared Team Plasma could already have taken the Light Stone and left by now. The fact that Opelucid was located on the other side of the continent from Nacrene was never more unfortunate. If only there was more than a single aeroport in Unova, they might've arrived earlier. However, it was too late to change the past now, all they could do was hope their arrival in Nacrene was not too late.
“Octa?” asked a rather commonly-accented and high-pitched, yet somehow pleasant voice. “What d'you think'll 'appen if we're too late?”
Octa turned to the truly charming Vileplume sitting next to him and endeavoured to reassure her. “Do not fear, my darling. We shan't be late, for we heard the news at the same moment as Plasma did. Neither side had a head-start.”
Lucius, who was seated opposite them with Selene, scoffed. “Yeah,” he said in his hideous Brooklyn accent that was as annoying as a shrieking infant to Octa's ears, “but they probably didn't have to travel all through Unova.”
“If they did arrive before us,” said Octa with annoyance, “I'm sure Lenora can hold them off for a while. She did not become Gym Leader without reason, and given that Alder alerted the other Gym Leaders she may not be alone either.”
“But what d'you think'll happen if they get their grubby mitts on the stone anyway?” asked Toxica anxiously.
Octa sighed. “Methinks 'twould truly be a catastrophe. Whether or not N can reawaken Reshiram as well as Zekrom, we would lose this chance to defeat them. Unfortunately, if Team Plasma commands both legendary dragons, I fear their victory might be very difficult to avert. Valorous souls, my own noble family first among them, would continue to battle Plasma until the bitter end, but even the house of Equinox and all the Gym Leaders together could not achieve victory against such an overwhelming opponent, particularly because the populace would likely turn against them completely with both dragons in Plasma's hands. I fear Plasma would claim victory and sever the relationships between humans and pokémon...”
Everyone was silent for a while, thinking about this, and then Selene croaked: “What happens next?”
Octa had to think about this. “A surprisingly lucid and good question, considering its source. 'Tis difficult to predict this... It highly depends on the agenda of the Seven Sages. I highly suspect N is a mere figure-head; they are the true power behind Team Plasma. I expect they would keep N on his throne and meanwhile rule Unova for themselves, submerging the land in darkness and tyranny. However, 'twould be a benevolent tyranny, and a darkness that would seem like light to most, for they presumably know the dangers of antagonising their subjects...”
It was silent for a while, then Selene spoke: “But that wouldn't be the end of it. It couldn't! Pokémon and humans would still make friendships... Some human would rescue some pokémon like Black did to Boreas, or the other way around, and they would become friends. Someone would rediscover the joy of being friends with humans again, and they'd be friends in secret, despite the opposition to such a friendship. And that would happen all over the place. And meanwhile, the power-hungry Sages, or their successors, would eventually stop getting along so well and try to take all power for themselves, creating instability. The new trainers and their pokémon would eventually get together, and resist. They would spread their friendship and chaos among other people, who would sometimes join them, and there would be more and more resistance to the Sages... Eventually that resistance will grow into a rebellion, which will one day nurture itself into a revolution... Which will be victorious. Because the darkness is just a passing thing, and there will be a Sunrise after every night...” At that moment she saw the astonished look everyone was giving her and smiled. “A little man who crawled out of my left eye told me that. I think he knew what he was talking about, he seemed quite sensible.”
Octa had tried to get an grip on the exact extent of Selene's sanity before, but she seemed to always make sure it was impossible. The fact that she wasn't as crazy as she appeared had of course been quite obvious to him for a while. But exactly what part of her behaviour was true insanity and what part was simply an obfuscating act she liked to play he had never been certain. “Selene...” he said.
At that moment, the train had arrived in Nacrene. There was no more time to talk as they, Black, Iris, Drayden, Alder, and their pokémon rushed to the museum. But after a few minutes, Octa noticed Toxica and Lucius were the only other members of Black's team still running along with them: Selene had flown into someone's beautiful, ornate garden and was sitting amidst a display of pale stones. “Selene!” called Octa. “You cannot linger, do follow us!”
“But-” began Selene as Octa fixed her with a stare. “Oh, alright... But I'm taking Edward with me, I really feel like I've got to know him well in my time in the garden.” She flew after them, but with a sparkly white stone the size of a human fist in her claws.
“Put that back, Selene,” lectured Octa, “you should not steal!”
“But Edward is my friend,” complained Selene as she flew on, following the rest, “he says he is at least, and I believe him. I like him too, look how at how he sparkles in the Sun.”
“That only makes it worse! That was most likely an expensive stone. I do not have time to deal with this right now, but believe me when I tell you I shall make you put it back to whence you stole it from after the battle.”
“But why would you want to separate Edward and me, we're so close... We go way back, nearly three minutes...”
But Octa had no time to respond, for at that moment heard the screams and saw the clouds of smoke and a little shape that looked like a human in robes riding a Charizard. Octa cursed: Sage Rood had arrived before them. Octa moved forward as fast as he could, lamenting the loss of his legs which made him slower.
They arrived at the Gym's square, where Lenora and a few trainers were battling Sage Rood's fire-types together, clearly losing.
“We can easily defeat him together!” said Alder as their pokémon charged into battle with Rood's pokémon. While fire was anathema to Octa, and he even secretly had to admit to himself he feared it, the company of Alder's powerful pokémon, as well as the dragon types of Iris and Drayden, strengthened his heart. He drew his blade charging, ducked under a ray of fire aimed for his head, and saluted the Sage's Ninetales before entering into combat with her.
The battle seemed to be almost easy for a while, as they were outnumbering the opponent so vastly. But just as Octa was expecting victory to be near, a barrage of rocks and stones hit them, a small one hitting Octa on the head and striking him down before his opponent, bleeding from his head. He lay before her, wounded and attempting to get up before she incinerated him, when Alder's Boufallant launched her away with a massive Head Smash. “Thank you,” said Octa gladly, but his heart sank as he saw a second Sage, wearing brown robes and riding an Archeops, fly over as his rock-type pokémon joined the fight.
“You may outnumber ush now,” boasted Rood as the battle now went a lot better for him, “but the odder five Shagesh are heading thish way ash well! You may defeat one or two of ush, but all the trainersh of Unova amasshed couldn't defeat the sheven of ush together!” His Charizard swooped down and breathed incinerating fire over Lenora's pokémon.
“Ja, and did we mention the dozens of grunts on their way too?” laughed Bronius as Octa dodged under a massive hit of his Aggron that hit Iris' Fraxure and left it crushed on the ground, its tusks broken off. “Give us the stone now and surrender. Your pokémon will be liberated and you captured, but I promise you will live. We treat our prisoners well.”
Black picked up one of the rocks the attacks of Bronius' pokémon had scattered and threw it at the flying Bronius, hitting him on the foot and causing him to yelp in pain. “Yes, I saw how well you treat your prisoners when you “liberated” my pokémon, you hypocritical git!”
Then a wave of water from the river washed over the battlefield, and Octa was reminded of the last time they had battled here, when they had met Capella, and instinctively felt his heart jump. He nearly expected to see his old friend, somehow revived, at the river, but there was no such pleasant surprise: six powerful water-types carrying Sage Gorm had arrived instead, and the water quickly went from a small wave to a powerful current sweeping through their ranks as Gorm's pokémon too joined the battle.
“I wonder, lads,” said the Scotsman to the other Sages. “How many of us d'ye think are needed for them to see they're doomed?”
Octa realised they were beginning to lose this. Alder could handle a Sage, and two of Black, Drayden, and Iris probably could too, but Black's team missed a valued member, and apparently more Sages were on their way. Grunts, running in from the streets, began to join the battle too, yet they were also followed by a few brave local trainers,who saw the attack and wished to protect their Gym and Museum from it.
Suddenly, Ghetsis' voice sounded over the battlefield, amplified by unknown source. “Gentlemen... Ladies... Genderless pokémon... Why do you fight us?”
Octa could not help but reply. “You attempt to shatter friendships forever and you inquire why we fight you?”
“Trainers, you claim to be your pokémon's friends, yet keep them captive and force them to fight for you even now. Pokémon, you claim to be your trainer's friends, yet you let them continue this fight, probably leading to their deaths. How can you continue this?”
“Enough! If you want to win, you're going to have to do it the hard way, we shall never surrender!”
Boreas anxiously awaited the train's arrival in Nimbasa after a rough night of sleep in the noisy, shaking, and above all, too warm train. Boreas quite liked trains, as far as human transportation methods went, but they were no place to sleep. Even aside from the heat, noise, and shakiness, it was tough to sleep for Boreas for three reasons: outside the window, all kinds of places he had never been to came by. Being naturally curious and always wanting to see new places was a great way to stay entertained in a train at day, but made it even harder to get to sleep at night, as Boreas constantly wanted to look out the window and see the nightly world pass by instead of sleep.
The second reason was that he was worried about Aqua. She hadn't wanted to accompany him, pointing out that she wasn't on either side and didn't want to fight. But Boreas wasn't at all sure Opelucid was safe, especially with Diego there. Aqua could take care of herself, Boreas knew that, but with Diego near, no-one was safe. They had found that out after the battle, when they were walking from the pokécenter to the station. Diego had appeared out of thin air, clearly an illusion but it meant the real one had to have been very nearby, probably disguised as one of the humans with another illusion. “Team Plasma has prepared for this war for more than twenty years,” his voice had sounded. “Trainers weren't even aware of our existence two years ago. What chance do you think you have?” If Diego could sneak up on them like that, he could do it again... Possibly while she was alone... A terrifying thought to Boreas.
If only he had unmasked Diego sooner... Everyone thought it was great he had unmasked the Zoroark, but it had still taken him two months. How could he have been so stupid to trust Zeph in the first place? He was fighting an enemy with illusionary powers, and all of a sudden, here was his long-dead brother, come back from the death to rescue him! He was such an idiot never to have suspected the truth before.
And finally, there was the thought of what might await him in Nacrene. Octa had nearly died last time they had fought Team Plasma. The thought of finding one of his friends, especially Octa, dead or dying in Nacrene was terrifying, especially since everyone was now fully evolved, so there were no more second chances if someone was near death. But it wasn't just that that worried him about the battle: Diego's sudden remark had made Boreas realise how badly at a disadvantage they were. If Team Plasma also got their hands on Reshiram, they had won, it was as simple as that.
The landscape outside turned from forest to city as they entered Nacrene, the train slowly breaking to a stop at the station. Boreas darted out and ran to the Gym, a pillar of smoke ahead heightening his fear. When he reached the Gym, pandemonium ruled. The museum was burning with blazing flames. Dead and wounded pokémon and humans from both sides lay around it. A destroyed fire truck lay amongst the wide destruction. A few trainers Boreas didn't know were fighting Team Plasma grunts amidst the carnage. He looked around anxiously to see if he saw a green snake or any of his other friends among the fallen, when he heard sounds of battle still come from inside the burning museum.
Inside, pandemonium ruled. The wall between the main hall and the library had collapsed, showing the large library where they had won Lenora's Basic Badge thirteen months ago. Most of the bookcases were knocked over or burning, the books scattered and ablaze in the battle, and the expositions in the main hall were destroyed or on fire as well. Boreas felt miserable seeing the skeleton of Capella's ancestor had collapsed and was now scattered on the floor, many of the bones broken. But he had no time to let the horror of either the destruction of the skeleton or any of the other beautiful and ancient displays or the library get to him, as battle raged in the destroyed museum. Powerful attacks blasted back and forth in the raging inferno of flames. Most of the combatants were taking cover behind things during the battle, so Boreas couldn't see whether his friends were alright, nor where the Light Stone was; it was not on its display.
Boreas saw a sharp blue light in the corner of his eye and dived for cover behind a large piece of rubble that had fallen out of the roof; just in time, as a lightning bolt struck the entrance where he had stood. He took a quick look above his cover and saw the head of an Eelektross. He tried to fire an Ice Beam at it, but immediately had to duck for another bolt of electricity. He made several more attempts to attack the Eelektross, but stood no chance as other enemy pokémon had also noticed he was there, so lightning bolts, rays of acid and poison, blasts of gravel, and flamethrowers would also try to hit him if he even showed himself.
“Pup, here!” He heard Lucius snap. Looking in the direction, he saw Lucius and Selene lie behind the destroyed fossil of the Kabutops, which had been broken into several large stony pieces. It was clear neither of them could move; they had clearly broken their legs and wings. But compared to the others there, they had been lucky: the Haxorus Boreas and Octa had fought a day earlier lay dead near them, as did a Sawsbuck as well. Lucius was clearly beckoning Boreas, but there were at least five metres of open space between them. Yet he seemed so urgent Boreas decided to try crossing it.
To stand a slightly larger chance of not being killed the moment he got out of cover, he waited until someone from their side attacked the enemy, then took a step back and showed almost the entire length of his tail on the side opposite of where he was going to, as a distraction so when he sprinted out of his hiding place a moment later they attacked the wrong side of his cover. He felt a searing pain in his tail, but ran with all the speed he could manage, making huge, jumping steps with all four paws.
After a single large step, attacks zoomed around him and ahead. He pressed himself very close to the ground with the next, hearing attacks flash by just above his head and even feeling something go through his hair. He took a big jump with his third step, jumping over a disgusting blast of acid, while sending out a pulse of cold to deflect anything else, before landing safely behind the fossil. He quickly frosted his tail to extinguish the fire on it and turned his attention to Lucius. “Yes? How is Octa? And Toxica?”
Lucius spoke grimly. “Your boyfriend was still in one piece last time I saw him, as was Toxica. But Drayden is dead, as are several pokémon. But that's not important: look what the crazy chicken has in her claws!”
Selene was curled up in a little black feathery ball, her wings around herself, but in her claws she was clutching a white stone with vigour while whispering something. “The Light Stone?” Boreas asked in surprise.
Lucius nodded. “You can walk, pup, get it outta here now!” he took the stone from Selene.
The Honchkrow protested weakly, but then looked at Boreas.“Get him out of here, Boreas, please,” she said emphatically. “It's imperative you get him out.”
Boreas nodded and took the stone, taking it in his mouth to make sure he could still run. “Cawn woo gife be a diftracfion?” he asked Lucius.
“Hmpf, I can try,” grumbled Lucius, and he stuck his one good paw up, above the cover. Boreas ran for it immediately, taking a huge jump as he ran for the exit and his life. He made a pulse of cold to try and deflect the attacks, but then an incredible impact knocked him out of the air as he was hit by a flying rock near his own size. The Light Stone was launched from his jaws and landed in the open as Boreas' ribs and shoulder broke under the impact. His head hit something with intense force, a white light of pain flashed through his brain and blinded him, and then everything went black.
This was not the first time Boreas woke up from unconsciousness and a severe concussion, but he certainly hoped it would be the last.. “Oof... I hope we won at least...” he groaned.
“I'm afraid we suffered a crushing defeat, my dear fellow...” he heard Octa's voice say gravely. “Drayden is dead, the Nacrene Gym has collapsed and almost all the ancient heritage in there destroyed, Team Plasma has occupied Nacrene City. And worst of all, they captured the Light Stone...”
As Boreas' senses returned, he noticed he was in a pokécenter, lying in a bed. Octa was in the bed next to him. “Wh- what?” the news seemed too terrible to believe.
Octa nodded gravely. “We have just arrived in the Castelia pokécenter... We had no choice but to retreat... It fills me with shame, but not as much as the destruction of all that priceless cultural heritage and Team Plasma's victory fill me with sorrow...”
Boreas saw Black carrying a very battered up Selene, still curled up in a little feathery ball, to a bed, as Nurse War was busy caring for others. He lay her down on the bed and cautiously spread her wings, and suddenly a white stone, much like the one Boreas had risked his life trying to save, fell from her wings onto the ground. Black picked it up in surprise. “Selene, what's this?” he began laughing. “Alder? I think I have something very interesting here!” he said as he walked to a different room with the stone.
Boreas was flabbergasted, but Octa began laughing. “Selene, that stone Team Plasma took, which stone was it?”
“Poor Edward...” Selene cried softly. “Captured by Team Plasma... And I was getting to be such good friends with him...”
Lucius laughed loudly. “You mean you got Boreas to risk his life for some random stone to get Plasma to steal it instead of the Light Stone? Hah, I bet those losers are breaking their heads over why the dragon won't come out! They're a bunch of idiots, getting fooled by you of all people!”
“I... I was just looking out for Edward...” said Selene sadly, but Boreas didn't believe her and grinned as he lost his consciousness in the warm bed, strangely not feeling anger for having got him to risk his life as a distraction, but admiration for saving the Light Stone.
“Hehe... I bet you planned it from the moment you got that stone... You're not as crazy as you pretend to be... Clever Selene...” he said as his eyes closed.
Even after Boreas reawoke, it was several hours before he saw Black again. By then, the pokémon had all been cured of their various wounds by the pokécenter's advanced medicine, and were wondering what would happen next. Black came into their room and sat down, looking puzzled.
“Hi, guys...” he said. “I talked to Alder and Iris, and they're certain that this is the Light Stone. You did a good job,” he said with a pet to Selene's feathers. “I tried to get Reshiram out of the stone by talking to it with my mind, like N did... But it won't listen. I tried everything, but I can't do it. Alder and Iris told me it doesn't work because I don't understand even my own pokémon. They said if I don't understand my own pokémon, I can't hope to communicate with Reshiram. But I understand you fine, don't I?”
“Of course you do,” Octa scoffed.
Black smiled. “See, you guys have faith in me. But I guess 'fine' isn't enough. Alder says I should talk to you a lot, that way I'll learn to understand your minds and talk better and might eventually manage to awake Reshiram. Fortunately, we'll have lots of time to talk on Victory Road... We'll be alone for months as we travel through the Black Mountains, except for wild pokémon.”
“But...” said Boreas. “We can't waste that much time now, with the war going on we have to try and stop Team Plasma first before we go to the League! Especially now that Nacrene has been occupied by them...”
Black looked at him in surprise. “I'm surprised you think it's a good idea right away, I had expected you to want to stay here to help the remaining trainers battle Team Plasma. At least, that's what my first reaction was... But Alder told me we stand little chance to win this war in a conventional way. Defeating N at the League is our best option, and while he hopes he can defeat N himself, he knows it's unwise to have no plan B. He wants us to travel to the League, and he wants us to do it right now, as N has probably set out onto Victory Road already, so we'll need to be quick if we want to catch up to him. We'll travel back to Opelucid immediately, and take Route 10 to the entrance of the Victory Road pass through the Black Mountains there. We'll reach the League within three months if we're lucky.”
Diego looked at the tall, threatening Black Mountains ahead. Crossing them to the pokémon league would be a long and hard journey, but Diego felt more than prepared for it. Yet he was glad to meet with Ghetsis one last time before they entered the pass famously known as Victory Road. There was of course a perfectly good train going to the pokémon league, but challengers had been required to take the pass for ages, as a final test before the league.
"It's a shame your mission was cut short so soon," spoke Ghetsis after Diego had told him all about the mission. Well, not all about it: he had only told Ghetsis Boreas had survived the battle, not that the cause of this was a random surge of pity from Diego's side. Even if Ghetsis was his best friend, it was just too embarrassing to tell. Besides, he didn't want Ghetsis to think there was any chance of Diego letting him down. "But the information you retrieved was of great use while it lasted."
"Lucky, because it'd have been a shame if the past two months had been a waste. I heard about our victory at Nacrene. It makes me wonder if it's really necessary for N to become Champion, it seems to me we are winning this war either way.”
Ghetsis smiled. “Yes, it doesn't matter much in the short term. We will rule Unova whether or not N succeeds. But if he doesn't, the title of Champion will remain a rallying point for trainers, a source of resistance. And our future plans for similar take-overs of other lands will be easier if N wins, as it will add an air of legitimacy to our cause. While failure would not ruin our plans, it would place them on weaker footing. But I trust N will win. Between Zekrom's power and your guidance he will be Champion as soon as he arrives.”
Diego felt guilty. Ghetsis trusted him, and yet he had displayed severe weakness. He wasn't sure whether his guidance would lead N to victory any more. He decided to try and change the subject. “So, how is your plan to ensure victory coming along?”
Ghetsis chuckled. “Excellently. All six are close to the culmination of their training... As for the seventh, I'm about to lead an expedition to the chasm near Lacunosa myself in a few days. They'll all be ready by the time you reach the League.”
Re: The Surprising Adventures of a Glaceon in Unova (Chapter 58 is finally up!)
Phew, I actually thought for a moment that Team Plasma got the Light Stone. Talk about lucky that Selene took a random, white stone before the battle (Imagines Team Plasma's reaction when they realize they took the wrong stone).
And once again, I find myself questioning Selene (in)sanity.
The plot thickens once again and it seems like we're beginning to reach the end, which somewhat saddens me since I've enjoyed reading your fic.
Ghetsis chuckled. “Excellently. All six are close to the culmination of their training... As for the seventh, I'm about to lead an expedition to the chasm near Lacunosa myself in a few days. They'll all be ready by the time you reach the League.”
Re: The Surprising Adventures of a Glaceon in Unova (Chapter 58 is finally up!)
Originally Posted by Tophat Dragoneye
Yes, we are indeed approaching the end. But if I keep updating this slowly, it'll take at least another year...
The plot thickens once again and it seems like we're beginning to reach the end, which somewhat saddens me since I've enjoyed reading your fic.
By the way, TrueBolt over on FanFiction.net is working on an audio-book of this story. :D He needs help though, of voice-actors and artists alike. So get into contact with him if you would like to help out. Here's a link to his profile: TrueBolt - FanFiction.Net
Chapter Fifty-Nine: Countdown
Drayden's funeral had been beautiful. Team Plasma had declared him an enemy of humanity and pokémon, but while many people in Opelucid supported Plasma these days, most knew Drayden had been a great mayor. While Boreas hadn't known Drayden well, he hadn't been able to hold back his tears when Iris had talked at his funeral, telling several heart-warming stories about the man who had been like a grandfather to her in a voice breaking with grief, ending in tears while telling how he had died protecting her from Ghetsis and his pokémon. Alder had appointed Iris to be Drayden's successor as Gym Leader, but his successor as mayor wasn't known yet. Black and his pokémon hadn't stayed in Opelucid long enough to find out, as they had left immediately on route 10 after buying supplies for their long journey.
The route had begun flat and grassy, the Black Mountains no more than distant blue shades on the horizon. But as they left Opelucid and the farmland near it behind, the terrain became rougher and the road less travelled. Forested hills were crossed by a wild, fast-flowing river that had eroded tall cliffs. The mountains became closer and more threatening as the road went on. The temperature was quite pleasant here to Boreas, despite it being August.
On the seventh day of their journey they were travelling through a canyon eroded by the wild river. Walkways of wood and metal and rope bridges allowed the road to continue through the canyon, but they were poorly kept and rickety; despite how gorgeous the small, rapid current five metres lower was with its falls, eddies, and whirlpools, everyone seemed somewhat scared. Everyone except Aqua, who was almost skipping on the rickety bridges and walkways.
“Careful, love,” Boreas chuckled.
“Hehe, sorry,” Aqua giggled as she gave him a quick kiss in passing. “I just can't help being cheery here.”
“What's making you so cheerful?” Boreas asked.
“Well, how could I not be cheery?” she said happily. “The river is so fast and young here. I've never seen it like this, though I've lived nearly my whole life on it.”
“Oh, that's right,” chuckled Boreas, “this is the same river as the one where we met, isn't it?”
Aqua nodded. “I was born on the banks of this river and have spent my entire life in it. Don't be startled if I jump into the water in a while. Not until,” she said immediately, to silence Boreas' protests, “we come across a spot where it would be a less bad idea. I'm not about to jump into this rocky canyon, that'd be a bad idea even for a Vaporeon like me.”
“Glad you realise that,” Boreas chuckled. “Between the rocks and the current, even as good a swimmer as you wouldn't last long.”
Aqua pretended to be offended. “The rocks are the only problem. I could swim against a current like this.”
“Even with legs as strong as yours you couldn't,” said Boreas as he poked Aqua's side playfully.
“Hey, don't do that!” Aqua giggled as Boreas felt a slap of her tail on his rear. “Or I'll push us both in, and we'll see who can handle the current better.”
“You wouldn't dare!” chuckled Boreas as he used his own tail to slap her backside back. “Because if you did I'd take you into a blizzard on the mountaintops in a few days and see who holds out longest.”
Suddenly Aqua grabbed a tight hold of Boreas. “If you did, I'd just grab you like this to stay warm. So that's not much of a threat.”
“Well, I'd do the same-”
Boreas with interrupted by a Octa scraping his throat behind them. “Would you two please cease your dalliance? If you continue this you shall fall into the canyon together, and then we'll really see who can avoid the rocks best.”
At the end of the day, they set down as usual, and Black made dinner for himself and his pokémon. He chuckled as he saw them eat it hungrily. “Don't get too used to it, guys. It won't be long now before we enter Victory Road, and then there'll be no more food we can forage, and the fresh stuff we brought with us will run out a while later too. After that, we'll be eating dried food until we reach the League... So, since I apparently need to talk more to you: how do you feel about that, Boreas?”
Boreas was taken aback by the sudden question. “Uh... I... I guess it sucks. But... you know, I figure we'll make up for it with a big feast once we reach the League.”
Black just stared blankly at Boreas, clearly not understanding anything from what was to him a wordless collection of noises, growls, sounds, and some body language. “I agree,” he said.
“Do not look forward to that feast too much, my dear fellow,” said Octa. “We shall first have to traverse the Black Mountains, truly an arduous task if ever there was one.”
Boreas chuckled and looked at the mountains, which were getting quite close now. “Don't worry, Octa, there's a pass through them, after all, it can't be that hard.”
“Do not underestimate Victory Road, my dear fellow. The Black Mountains are a very harsh, unforgiving environment. Their summits reach ten kilometres above sea level, two kilometres above the height at which point it is impossible to adjust to the lack of oxygen and pressure. Meaning once this height is reached, it is merely a matter of time before human and pokémon alike die of oxygen deprivation.”
“Yeah, but we're not going over the tops. That's the point of a pass.”
“Even the pass reaches above six kilometres at times, and never below two. Oxygen will be low, and temperatures cold. It is a very long, twisting path through the mountains, which at one point even makes a gigantic detour of a month to advance twenty kilometres in the densest part of the mountains. The high northern latitude shall also contribute to temperatures being dangerously low. Wild pokémon are dangerous, feral, hungry, and powerful, and the pass is very difficult terrain. Furthermore there's risk of avalanches, plummeting into the many depths between the mountains, and much more.”
“How do you know so much about Victory Road anyway?”
“Because twelve members of the House of Equinox have attempted to cross it. All but four perished in the attempt; five of them dying along with their entire team.”
“Oh, I'm sorry...”
“Don't be, my dear fellow. They perished seeking glory, and all four that made it through, my great-grandmother last among them, eventually defeated the Elite Four. I can only hope I shall be the fifth to receive that honour.”
“So do I, deary,” said Toxica. “But I've heard stories about the Black Mountains and Victory Road too. I 'eard there's wild Tyranitars and Dragonites and Articunos and all sorts of other dangerous pokémon in those mountains, and even more bizarre, nameless monsters too! All underfed an' willing to eat anything weaker than them. They say it's where winters go for their summer holidays.”
Octa rolled his eyes. “A winter is merely the state of the Earth's axial tilt directing one's own hemisphere away from the Sun. It cannot go on 'summer holiday', and therefore shall not go on one thither.”
“It's just a metterfor!” Toxica blushed.
“Well, whether or not the Black Mountains are a popular summer vacation destination for winters, winter shall indeed make our crossing even harder.”
Boreas frowned in confusion. “It's August, Octa; that's summer here.”
“Yes, it is. However, our crossing of the mountains could easily take three months. By then, it'll be November. And even before that time, we'll be in danger, for autumn comes early and harsh here. There is a good reason the Pokémon League rarely receives challenges after September: usual challengers are not desperate enough to cross Victory Road in autumn or winter, for all they have to gain or lose is the title of Champion. Unlike them, we do not have the luxury of waiting half a year and shall have to transverse the mountains regardless of the season. Isn't that right, Black, old chap?” he asked Black friendlily.
Aware that attention was on him, Black smiled and nodded. “Sure, why not?”
“Oh dear,” sighed Octa, “methinks it'll be easier to teach a birch to speak Finnish than to get you to understand us...”
“But what about the coming winter, Octa?” Toxica nervously asked. “What are the mountains gonna be like then?”
“Even worse than they would be otherwise. We must expect heavy snowfall and blizzards, particularly near the end of our journey. It'll be very harsh.”
Lucius snorted. “I don't care, I can get through it. And then those Plasma idiots will be sorry.”
Octa nodded. “I shall take the challenge as well; I do not fear these mountains.”
“We've been through tougher things... I guess,” said Toxica. “A little winter, or a lot of it, isn't going to scare me off.”
Octa's stories about the Black Mountains had scared Boreas, to be sure. But he was far more scared of what might happen if they didn't go on. Besides, he could handle cold. “I'm in too. I've been part of this team for almost my whole life, I'm not turning my back on you all now.”
Selene croaked her support too, and they spent the rest of the evening chatting amicably with Black looking at them with a clueless look on his face, occasionally interjecting a non sequitur. It wasn't until a few days later that Boreas realised how quiet Aqua had been during the entire conversation.
They had arrived at Route 10's northern end; a large arch in the mountainside where the forested road finally met the huge mountains ahead. They were very close to the source of the river now, the tiny stream roaring down on the steep mountainside. As they approached the arched gate, Black suddenly stopped and slowly turned around, facing his pokémon.
“My friends...” he spoke. “Octa, Boreas, Lucius, Toxica, Selene, and Aqua...” He stopped talking for a moment, then continued with a melancholic smile. “Octa, Boreas, do you remember when you each used to sit on one of my shoulders? And sometimes one of you would climb onto my head, and I'd scold you and tell you to get down... When defeating a single Gym Leader was our goal... And Team Plasma just some people in stupid clothes. I even nearly gave Boreas away to have him found foster parents.
And now look at us... Eight badges, and about to enter Victory Road! Where'd the days when Boreas used to trip over his own feet when he attacked go? Fortunately we met many new friends on the way here... And together we've been through so much; crossed deserts and mountains, defeated eight Gym Leaders, and even battled Team Plasma's Sages and came out alive... Mostly. But beyond that gate awaits our greatest challenge yet! One which I wish Capella was here to take with us. We'll cross Victory Road, defeat the Elite Four and the Champion, and get rid of Team Plasma; are you with me?!”
“Aye! Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens!”
“Yes! Let's do this!”
“What're you even asking for?”
“Yeah! Let's make Uncle Istvan and all our uncles Istvan proud!”
“I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I'm not with you.”
All pokémon turned towards the dissenting voice. “Wh-what do you mean?” Boreas stammered.
“I'm sorry, my love,” said Aqua, “but as I've said before, I'm strictly neutral about the war. I'm not even really part of your team, just travelling along with you because I like being with you. But I think it's time for me to say goodbye now.”
Boreas could barely believe it. “But... Can't you come with us a bit longer? Over Victory Road, I mean...”
“Boreas, listen. I know you really want me along... And I really hate the thought of letting you go over those mountains without me, but I really have no intention of setting a single step onto Victory Road. It's incredibly dangerous there, you know.”
Boreas frowned; he had thought better of her. “So you're abandoning me because you're scared?”
“I'm not abandoning you!” Aqua snapped. “And I just don't want to go there. You've got this big important cause that gives you reason to cross the Black Mountains... But I don't. I've got no cause like that; while Team Plasma is a bunch of pig-headed bastards, I do think most humans should stay away from pokémon. I simply don't have a reason to go through three months of hell on Victory Road, so I'm not going to. I'll just wait right here, on this pleasant route where the river is young and fresh, for you to return.”
“And what if I don't return at all? Isn't that a good cause; accompanying me and helping me stay safe? I love you, you can't just leave me!”
Aqua sighed. “Boreas, I love you deeply, but you're being incredibly selfish. I trust you to be clever enough to get you out of any trouble that comes to you... And I trust Octa to get you out of any trouble you get yourself in. You can do this without me.”
“Maybe! But you're still abandoning me, letting me go over those hellish mountains alone! I don't want to be away from you for so long, especially not in such an environment. And I thought you'd want to keep me close too...”
“Boreas, I do want to be with you, but I'm still not following you onto Victory Road. Once you calm down and stop being childish and selfish I'm sure you'll understand.”
Boreas' anger only increased by the accusations of childishness and selfishness she was making. He wasn't the one being selfish, he was on a mission to save all of Unova! She was being selfish for not even accompanying him. “I don't want to go so long without you!”
“Then I guess you'll have to stay behind too,” said Aqua coldly.
It was a very tempting offer, and a big part of Boreas wanted to take it. But he couldn't let Team Plasma have their way, and he couldn't let his friends face them alone. “As Octa said just now: faithless is he who says farewell when the road darkens. Or she,” he added with an angry frown.
“Then I guess this is goodbye!” Aqua snapped.
“I guess so!” Boreas sneered.
“Do me a favour and don't fall off the mountain,” Aqua said as she turned around and walked away.
“Hmpf, good riddance,” Boreas muttered as he too turned around and faced his friends, who were staring at him. “What?”
Octa tried to cover his face with the palm of his hand in exasperation, but missed due to his short arms and long neck. He looked at his own hand in surprise, then said: “My dear fellow, you honestly are unbelievable. Go apologise to her immediately.”
“No! She's the one who should apologise!” Boreas felt betrayed at Octa taking her side. “I can't believe you're siding with her!”
“I am siding with neither of you, but I implore you not to let your farewell to your dearly beloved be like this. In the best case, it'll be months before you see her again, and during those months your anger shall subside and you'll merely be left with bitterness. In the worst case, you may never see her again, and she will be crushed by the knowledge that these were the last things she said to you. Make up with Aqua, please.”
“Boreas...” said Black. “Victory Road will wait, go settle whatever that was.”
“Alright...” muttered Boreas as he turned around and followed Aqua. At least until he was out of sight, when he sat down. He had no intention of going back to Aqua with his tail between his legs to apologise as she was the one in the wrong, abandoning him, whom she claimed to love. But like this, at least, he wouldn't have Octa continue to nag him. He knew that Octa was probably right that it would feel really bad once his anger subsided... But he'd much rather deal with a bit of regret than apologise to Aqua now.
After waiting for a while, he returned, smiling a fake smile. “You were right, guys. It feels so much better to have said a proper goodbye.”
Octa smiled. “I'm glad you settled it. Now come, Victory Road awaits...”
They walked into the arch in the mountainside, disappearing into the twilit darkness.
After a while, they emerged into the open air again. It was a large, entirely empty dale in the mountainside. No grass or any other plants grew here; it was a bare, rocky vale with steep rocky sides. Another large arch was on the other side of the dale, but it was closed with huge, ornate doors. The silence was palpable. A single black-clothed human stood in the empty space. “Halt!” he spoke, and his voice echoed through the dale, “unqualified ones shall not pass! Only those who earned the Trio Badge may enter these gates!”
Black and his pokémon walked towards the man, their footsteps echoing loudly through the dale. Boreas thought back to the day they had won the badge.
Boreas swept a pawful of macaroni from one of the plates into his opponents eyes in a blinding Macaroni-Attack. The Pansear was so surprised he lost his balance and fell backwards off the table. Boreas jumped off after him as the table's occupants cursed and snarled at him.
He landed on top of his opponent with the vertical equivalent of a Tackle and scratched him with his claws before the Pansear managed to kick him off. Instead of running back into the empty circle, Boreas ran under the tables, using the seated people's legs for cover. Between the cover and the macaroni stinging in his eyes Trogdor didn't even remotely manage to hit Boreas, only succeeding in searing tablecloths and trousers. When he reached a certain table, Boreas jumped up and dug his claws into the tablecloth, dragging it off the table with his weight as Trogdor reached him. The large bowl of tamato soup on the table fell all over him.
Once they reached the guard, Black showed him a small badge with three coloured pins. The man saluted and the gate opened. “Oh holder of the Trio Badge, challenge all that you face!”
They emerged into another small vale. Unlike the last one, this one was not bare and rocky: grass grew on the ground and a small stream of water flowed through the side of the dale, emerging from a hole in the rocky side of the vale and disappearing into another hole. The gate on the opposite side was flanked by two torches, and a lonely guard awaited.
“Halt! Only those who earned the Basic Badge may pass!”
Octa extended his vines, and the Watchog was ready to dodge them as he charged. But Octa didn't use the vines to attack his enemy, but the floor. He pushed himself off the ground and launched himself over the top of the two metres-tall bookcase. Immediately after landing on the other side of it, he pushed the bookcase, which was severely weakened due to the several attacks it had absorbed. With a monumental creaking, it fell over, right on top of the charging Watchog who couldn't get away in time, despite trying to flee.
As they reached the guard, Black showed a thin brown rectangle with markings that made it look like the spine of an old book.
The guard saluted and the gate opened. “Oh holder of the Basic Badge, show the knowledge you have obtained!”
The third vale was rocky once again, but with rocks stacked up like old ruins, and some grass growing. “Halt!” spoke the guard. “Only those who earned the Insect Badge may pass!”
Suddenly the icy coldness of the rock melted through Boreas' skin and filled his entire body. For one second it felt unbearably cold, then he experienced the tactile equivalent of looking at a picture of two silhouetted faces and suddenly seeing it as a picture of a white candlestick, and felt very comfortable with the cold instead. He was filled with a deliciously icy feeling and a feeling of power as he was growing with amazing speed. His brown fur was rapidly turning an icy light-blue, and hit tail grew longer, more pointed, and less bushy. His legs increased in size, making him feel like someone standing on stilts. His collar was retracting, and instead longer dark blue hair was sprouting on his head in a haircut formed of three diamonds of hair, while two strands of it grew very long. The light finally subsided, and Boreas was reborn as a Glaceon.
"Splendid, my dear fellow!" Octa cheered.
“Wow, you evolved!" Black said, "Get him with... Let's try Icy Wind!"
"Icy Wind?" Boreas mocked, noticing his voice's altered sound, "I can do better than that! I'll use Blizzard!"
Black showed the guard a green badge shaped like the wings of an insect. “Oh holder of the Insect Badge, show you can survive in any environment like an insect!”
The next dale was grassy, and in the centre of it stood a large sculpture representing a Heracross.
“Halt! Only those who earned the Bolt Badge may pass!”
Boreas realised timing would be vital to his plan and glimpsed between the searing flames embracing him to time it right. He mentally counted down as he slid rapidly over the roller-coaster tracks while freezing them, then took a big jump. He heard Zebstrika follow him and smirked as he neared another part of the track. A moment before landing, he created a fierce Icy Wind that blew him just besides the tracks. He fell into the black depths as the confused Zebstrika landed on the tracks. And was promptly hit by the cart coming the other way.
Black showed a yellow badge shaped like a lightning bolt to the guard, who saluted. “Oh holder of the Bolt Badge, unfurl a shocking battle!”
The next dale was rather a surprising contrast with the previous four: a metallic bridge with flashing coloured lights spanned a small gorge in the ground.
“Halt! Only those who earned the Quake Badge may pass!”
Boreas only remembered little of watching the underground battle with Clay. He had been utterly distracted from the battle by Aqua's proposal to leave together. Boreas suddenly felt a pang of regret for not actually going after Aqua to apologise just now...
After crossing the bridge, Black showed the guard a brown a brown badge like a section of earth after an earthquake. “Oh holder of the Quake Badge, make the hearts of your foes' tremble!”
The next dale barely seemed above the surface. It was the bottom of a deep, narrow canyon, leading to the next gate and its guard.
“Halt! Only those who earned the Jet Badge may pass!”
Boreas tried to control the copious amounts of air in the large hangar, to whip it up into an icy storm, but that was not easy. The air was standing still here, lazy and stagnant. It didn't want to move, but he prodded it on with Icy Wind, slowly getting it to get off its lazy arse so that it started moving about, first as a calm breeze, then as a stiff cool wind that gyred through the Gym. Boreas found it increasingly easy to control and use. He directed the winds to the Swanna to interfere with its flight. Of course, he couldn't precisely control the unpredictable, chaotic air, but giving it a nudge and a suggestion for the general direction of what he wanted it to do worked just as well.
Swanna was having heavy troubles staying afloat. Skyla shouted commands at it, but it couldn't even hear her over the rapid winds. The air itself seemed to want to move and make a storm, all it needed was some encouragement to actually do it.
His opponent swooped to the platform, battling the fierce winds. But it didn't even have the mobility to dodge the five Ice Beams Boreas shot at it as it struggled against the winds and was hit by all. Thoroughly weakened, it managed to land on the platform, only to be taken down by two more Ice Beams.
Black showed a badge shaped like a blue feather to the guard once they had traversed the canyon. “Oh holder of the Jet Badge, blast ahead with tremendous force!”
Boreas let out a small yelp of surprise as they emerged into the open once again, because it really was very open this time: they were not in a dale, but on a thin ridge on the steep mountainside, overlooking another mountain and a forest deep down. The ridge winded along the mountainside, until it entered into it again with another gate guarded by a black-clothed human.
“Halt! Only those who earned the Freeze Badge may pass!”
Powerful, ice-cold winds blew around the two Glaceons as they struggled. Boreas tried to control the air around them, because his opponent was trying to make another Blizzard. They fought both physically and using their icy powers, but while Boreas was at the moment at an advantage in the physical fight, he was rapidly losing control of the air around them, which blew faster and colder, attacking him. He grabbed his opponent and jumped back, letting her go right where he had stood before as he jumped out of the Blizzard, while at the same time suddenly turning his own control of the winds around, intensifying them instead of lulling them down, so his opponent was suddenly caught in the middle of her own Blizzard. She tried to calm the roaring snowstorm down, but while Boreas couldn't yet start one for himself, he could intensify it now that it was there. By the time his opponent managed to calm the Blizzard down, she was lying on the ground, covered in ice and shivering heavily.
Black showed a white badge shaped like three icicles to the guard. “Oh holder of the Freeze Badge, show you can keep a cool head in the greatest of perils!”
The next gate emerged much higher up on the mountain, in an icy dale.
“Halt! Only those who earned the Legend Badge may pass!”
Boreas' body cooled down to two-hundred degrees below zero and he unleashed that cold into the air, which immediately blasted through the Gym in a ferocious and ice-cold stormwind. The Gym's windows shattered and everything creaked with cold as the howling Blizzard blew. It was raining; not with water but with liquid air that froze anything it touched. It was very cold even to Boreas, but it was nothing compared to what his opponents were going through. Haxorus was writhing in pain, its mouth and eyes frozen over already.
The same was happening to Druddigon, and unfortunately to Octa. Boreas tried to keep the worst of the storm away from his friend, but he could barely keep the Blizzard from going out of control again; there was no way he could control it enough to make it spare Octa. Fortunately, Boreas saw him disappear as Black returned him to his pokéball.
It was down to only Boreas now, but the Blizzard was getting harder and harder to control. It drained his energy to keep it under control. He saw his enemies, though hurt and freezing, weren't defeated yet, and he knew he would probably just collapse in exhaustion soon. He gave the Blizzard his final bit of energy, and fortunately saw Drayden return his pokémon to their pokéballs.
Black showed a black badge shaped like a mace to the guard. “Oh, holder of the Legend Badge, pass through Victory Road and prove that you too can be a legend!”
The tunnel emerged into a final rocky dale, much like the first one. But this time, two gigantic dragon statues were carved out of the sides of the wall. And instead of a gate, there was a thin passage leading on, without a guard. After looking his pokémon in the eyes one by one, Black walked into the passage.
Re: The Surprising Adventures of a Glaceon in Unova (Chapter 59)
Interesting chapter. Reading the flashbacks about how the team got each badge whenever Black shows them is a nice touch.
I hope Boreas and Aqua's relationship gets mended in the end. Not exactly the best way to say farewell to each other.
Re: The Surprising Adventures of a Glaceon in Unova (Chapter 59)
Glad you liked it. I wasn't sure it was a good idea, but enjoyed the idea of doing a little flashback for each of them.
Originally Posted by Tophat Dragoneye
Chapter Sixty: Cowardice, Love, and the River of Time
Diego climbed back down with a mind that was finally clear of concern. Climbing over the freezing cold precipice was almost as tough to do downwards as upwards, but at least this time it was just physically heavy; he could handle that. After weeks of being troubled by his error in the Opelucid Gym, he could now finally relax. He knew it wouldn't be repeated. While he couldn't deny he felt rudimentary feelings of friendship towards N, and even Boreas, they wouldn't interfere with his service to his true friend, Ghetsis. He was sure of that now.
Friendship was a beautiful thing, Diego reflected. In fact, it was the very concrete Team Plasma was built with, but it was a massive weakness when felt towards an enemy. But now that he was finally sure he wouldn't submit to that weakness again, he could rest easily.
His muscles ached by the time he neared the ground; it was a relief to land on it safely. “Diego!” N called happily. “I was getting worried about you, what took you so long?”
Diego smiled. “I saw a path up there, just as I suspected. But I had to make sure it wasn't a dead end, and walked it for a bit, and a good thing I did, because if I hadn't done that, we'd be climbing up this precipice right now to walk the path... Only to find out after an hour it suddenly ends into a steep depth.”
“Oh,” N looked disappointed, “I guess we can't cut time off our journey that way, then?”
“No, I'm afraid not, we'll have to follow the normal pass. But I did see some... Inspiring views up there, and they gave me the strength to carry on.”
N laughed. “Glad to hear it.”
No, thought Diego as he smiled along friendlily, you wouldn't be if you had any idea of the truth.
Four weeks had they been on Victory Road. Four weeks in the ferocious, harsh landscape. From Octa's stories, Boreas had imagined endless snowy mountains, but it turned out the Black Mountains weren't so monotone. The range covered an enormous area, and so it contained very varied climates. For the first few days, they had passed high over the mountainside, while deep down in the valleys a landscape similar to Route 10 - rough, but pleasant - was spread out. The pass had then winded up high onto the mountains, where lichen were the closest thing to plants that grew on the bare rock, and snow and ice dotted the pass. During this part of the journey the lush landscape in the dales had given way to dry, yellowish grass without trees and what looked to be the ruins of an abandoned city.
They had travelled through the caves of a mountain for a day, their light and a map Black had all that stood between them and a death of thirst deep in the enormous maze of pitch-black tunnels after aimlessly wandering for weeks. Everyone had been relieved when they had emerged from the dark caves. The road had become even rougher after this, and they had had to climb up and down sheer cliffs several times. Eventually, the pass dropped lower and lower and finally reached a forested dale, where a dense forest of pines and thorny shrubs grew.
However, after a while the valley they walked through reached upwards and the trees stopped growing. Soon there was no grass either; just bare ground, cracked with its dryness. There were many white salt crystals in the landscape. While their journey had only taken them through cold until then, a fierce, dry desert heat plagued these broken lands. It was unexpected to say the least, and Boreas had tried to keep them all somewhat cool for the whole time... But after five days in the searing, cracked landscape, he was exhausted. He couldn't even keep himself cold any more, let alone his friends, and struggled through the blazing heat.
What was even worse was that the water was nearly gone despite the rationing Black had started when they reached the mountainous desert. Boreas would occasionally look up longingly to the snow-covered tops of the mountains surrounding them, but if they left the path to climb up there, they would never manage to find the way out of the treacherous, huge mountain range.
The elements were hardly the only danger plaguing them on their arduous journey: the wild pokémon, while not very numerous, were adapted to the fierce landscape, and therefore very powerful. Several had attacked, not as a challenge or to try and steal some food, as wild pokémon in other places would occasionally do, but quite simply for the flesh on their bodies. There was little food here, and so the creatures that lived here would eat anything or anyone. Despite each member of the party being quite powerful by now, these pokémon proved highly dangerous, and they had had to flee from an encounter with multiple ones on more than one occasion. Fortunately, no-one had been killed or severely wounded yet, and Black was getting quite skilled at treating lighter wounds.
Boreas pretended to his friends the horrid dry heat of these broken lands was the only reason he was in a mood fouler than the Thames during the Great Stink. The truth was, of course, that they had been right: he should've apologised to Aqua for what he had said. He felt like punching himself for his stubborn idiocy. He could've easily foreseen this, and in fact he had. Even Black had managed to see it. He wished more than anything now that he had parted on better terms with Aqua... Or better yet, that she had come with him.
He missed her cheerful demeanour, her infectious laugh, her gorgeous eyes, her sense of humour, her frequent flirting, her supple movement as she walked, and the beating of her heart against his at night. He missed her deeply, and he was a fool to have fought with her when she left. He could try to console himself with the knowledge that she was a lot safer than he was right now, but it didn't really help. He felt almost as bad as he had in Chargestone Cave. Fortunately, whether it was the wisdom of his more mature age or the fact that there had been no cascade of disasters this time, the despair was less overwhelming, and he hadn't had the urge to jump into a single gorge yet. But despite that, his mood was still permanently clouded by it, and the others had learnt to give him a wide berth.
After several days they finally left the dried-out wasteland behind them and began rising in altitude. Temperatures soon passed from very hot to very cold as they climbed, and so the rest of the team once again wore their winter clothes to protect them from the cold. The icy cold felt much better to Boreas than the heat did, yet he didn't feel better mentally.
They were passing under a high, icy precipice with loads of rocks sticking out from it when Boreas heard a clumsy flapping of wings and felt a heavy load land on his shoulder as claws pinched him. “Ow! Selene, go sit on Lucius' shoulder!” he snapped.
Selene acted like she hadn't heard him. “You know, I bet you could climb this precipice.”
“And I would if I had a desire to break my neck. Now get off me!”
“I think you would have a really great view from up there.”
“Then fly there, but get off me!”
“Maybe there will even be a better path to the League up there.”
“And maybe there won't. Get off me.” Boreas was trembling with annoyance now at how she was just ignoring all he said.
“I also think there may be pixies up there. Uncle Istvan always says-”
In a sudden burst of fury, Boreas grabbed her forcefully, pulled her off his shoulder, and held her in front of his face as she let out a cry of surprise and pain as he squeezed her in his grip. “When did I ever give you the impression I give a Mankey's toss about what your Uncle Istvan, or you for that matter, said?! I told you to leave me alone, so shut your stupid beak, you pointless collection of feathers, before I freeze it shut!”
Selene squirmed in his paws with a look of terror on her face as she looked him in the eye. Boreas felt good seeing her fear and how he had finally made it clear he wasn't in the mood for her rubbish. “B-Boreas... I-I-” she stammered.
“Let the bird go right now, pup, before I burn your ass!” snapped Lucius' voice behind him.
Boreas turned to see a very threatening, angry look on Lucius' face. He resisted the urge to throw Selene forcefully into the snow and let her go. Clumsily and panicky, she flew to Lucius. “Fine,” Boreas spat, “but keep her away from me.”
“No, you keep away from her,” growled Lucius. “'Cause if you hurt one more feather on her, I'll flame-broil you. And by the way, could you either cheer up or kill yourself?”
“You heard me, pup. Your attitude has sucked since the first step we took on Victory Road, so I'm telling you now: quit being a pissbucket, kill yourself, or I'll do it for you.”
“You don't scare me!” roared Boreas, furious at the threat.
Eyes ablaze with rage, Lucius growled. “If we didn't need you to help get revenge on Team Plasma, I'd kill you were you stand, right now!”
Before Boreas could respond, Toxica was between them. “Now shut up, both of you!” she snapped. “Lucius, go walk in the back! Boreas, stay at the front! And don't you dare fight again!”
“Hmpf, fine,” Boreas sneered as he walked on.
Boreas couldn't sleep. He just lay there in the icy cold tent, his friends all sleeping under thick amounts of blankets while he was tossing and turning above them. His anger at Selene and Lucius gone, he felt like a massive git for what he'd done. He was furious at himself, really, for how stupid he had been acting lately.
Deciding he wasn't going to catch any sleep anyway, he sneaked out of the tent and went outside. It was frigidly cold, his breath turning to steam instantly in the night air, and amazingly dark. The sky was pitch-black apart from the stars, and there was absolutely no light on the few clouds that were in the sky: they looked like holes among the clear, bright stars, being exactly as black as the darkness between the stars. The darkness was incredible so far from human inhabitation and their lights. Boreas had never seen the sky like this before, with thousands of stars, even incredibly faint ones. Mars and Jupiter were brilliantly bright lights in the pure darkness, as impressive as the Sun and moons normally were. He couldn't see a metre before him and found a rock to sit on by touch alone.
Boreas looked at the amazing display above him as if enchanted for a while before his thoughts finally began to drift back to his troubles. He had first alienated Aqua, then attacked Selene, and nearly fought with Lucius. Only Toxica, Octa, and Black left to alienate, he thought grimly. He had selfishly insisted his lover accompany him, and become angry when she had refused; insulted her and her love for him. He had pridefully and childishly refused to apologise to her, and even lied to his friends about it. He had attacked his friend. He remembered Selene's terrified look and how he had squeezed her in his paw furiously. He felt contempt for himself as her terrified face flashed before his eyes. He had actually enjoyed seeing her so scared at the time. He was really no better than Diego.
Or maybe he was worse, even. Diego had terrorised and tormented his enemies, after all, while Boreas had done it to a friend. Boreas sobbed as he realised Aqua was probably better off without him. And so were his friends. He wasn't worthy of their friendship, he realised as he heard their snores come from the tent. They were better off without a miserable, childish egotist like him in their lives.
He got up and started walking away into the darkness. He wasn't sure where he was going, but wherever it was would be somewhere he wouldn't bother his friends ever again. The Black Mountains were certainly large enough to spend a lifetime in.
After walking a short bit, he stopped. What am I doing? He asked himself. Just running away? So now I'm a coward too, perfect.
I'm just protecting them from me. I'm just as bad as Diego, and I would do anything to keep him away from them!
I may be a childish, selfish bastard, but running away won't make me any better! I can't run away, instead I should stay with them and try to be a better friend. A better person.
But I attacked Selene and delighted in her fear for me!
Right, so the first thing I should do is apologise humbly to her. And Lucius. And Aqua, when I see her again. They all deserve an apology for what I said and did. It's the least I can do.
He sighed and walked back, sitting down. He looked at the stars again, and was surprised by a very bright light over the mountains in the east. After his initial surprise, he realised it was Venus, making even Mars and Jupiter seem pale by comparison. Its light weakly illuminated the dark landscape, allowing him to see a little ahead. It cast its weak light on everything, and a very slight difference between light and shadow was visible. Boreas knew Sunrise couldn't be very far away now, and he awaited it anxiously so he could apologise for his misbehaviour. He still felt a powerful urge not to, though, something telling him it was all Selene's fault for bothering him, that he had been completely right to attack her, but he was determined to ignore those thoughts. They had got him into this mess in the first place.
Yet he grimly realised while he could apologise to Selene and Lucius at dawn, it would be months before he would see Aqua again, if he ever saw her again at all. With a deep sigh, he felt his awfully bad mood return.
“...I need to tell someone...” he muttered, realising he would only end up doing more damage to his friendships if he didn't. Despite his intentions, the guilt and sorrow he felt over how badly he had messed up were already clouding his mood once more. If he didn't tell someone, he would be lucky not to go insane before they reached the League, and even if he didn't, his persistently bad mood would likely alienate all his friends.
Yet the thought of actually going up to one of them and admitting that he'd lied to them for such a pathetically childish reason was not a pleasant one. Octa was the only person he could possibly tell something like that, and even to him it would be very hard. Well, thought Boreas, I guess I'm starting off being a better person with a big test of my conviction...
“...The police and Team Plasma have responded to riots breaking out during a protest against the recent closing of the Gym...” Aqua sighed as the newsreader rattled on about the riot, making it sound like half the city had been blown up. She'd heard the same nonsense countless times already. She perked her ears again as she heard the next topic: “...Research shows children who grow up with pokémon grow up to be violent, unproductive members of society...”
Aqua snorted. “What, are you trying to blame Team Plasma on us pokémon?” she chuckled bitterly, awaiting the next topic of the television program as an interview with someone in a white coat was conducted.
“...The Pokémon League-” Aqua suddenly gave the television all her attention, perking her ears and feeling her heart pound in her throat. “-Has been suspected of involvement in recent...” Aqua sighed in annoyance and stopped listening as the news reached its end. She got back down on all fours and walked away from the house through the window of which she had been looking at the humans' television. She looked around to see if anyone spotted her, but between the rainy day and the general aura of fear that hung over Opelucid, and presumably the rest of Unova as well, most humans were inside. Which was just as well, as Team Plasma assumed any pokémon in a city was some trainer's pokémon these days; Aqua had already had to flee several times.
As she reached the woods at the edge of Opelucid, Aqua felt a lot better, despite the lack of news of Boreas. She had only managed to remain on Route 10 for two weeks after his departure; despite how furious she was about how Boreas had treated her, that seemed inconsequential next to the memory of the happy times she'd shared with him. The thought she might never see his roguish smile again was terrifying, and a big part of her wished she'd gone with him; even if it meant going through hell, at least they'd be going through it together. Though she definitely hadn't forgotten the things he'd said, and was going to give him an earful next time she saw him.
So she'd come to Opelucid's outskirts. She knew a challenger to the Pokémon League was big news, and so she had made sure to watch the news through the window of some humans' house every day. She knew it would be at least another month before there was any chance of their arrival, but somehow this felt a little better anyway.
Yet, while she had been listening for news of challengers to the League, she had caught the other news too. Team Plasma seemed to be winning the war; most of Unova already seemed to support them. The news certainly did; Aqua wondered if it was because of Zekrom's influence or if Plasma was actively controlling the news. She remembered how Diego had pointed out Plasma had had decades to prepare for this war... Probably long enough to have people in high positions in all kinds of organisations.
A few months ago, the knowledge of Team Plasma's near-total victory would've made her very happy, but it didn't seem like such a good thing now. She had seen Team Plasma's victory as a liberation for all pokémon, so that none would ever have to suffer as she had by their hands... But more and more, she realised Team Plasma wasn't looking for liberation for anyone. What they seemed to be doing was creating a rigid, tyrannical order to rule Unova with. All they really cared for was power... Yet she knew N was different. Team Plasma had deceived N just as much as they'd deceived the rest of Unova.
Aqua sighed and tried to get to sleep as she settled down in her hideout. But thoughts kept raging through her mind, making her unable to fall asleep, just like Boreas, far away. After hours of lying awake in the dark, moonless night, stirring and constantly feeling annoyingly itchy, she tried to focus her thoughts on Boreas. By thinking about their happier times together she managed to dispel all other thoughts from her mind. Reliving her memories slowly turned more fanciful and dreamy as her mind became clouded as she sank away seamlessly into dreams and sleep.
At some point, the happy memories of their frolicking in the grasslands of Route 7 had turned into a dream where she was battling foes with Boreas. The enemies were easily dispatched by both of them, but more kept flocking on. Aqua admired the grace and skill with which Boreas fought, and she clearly wasn't the only one, as she heard many cries of admiration. But her lover only had eyes for her, and their battle was elegant and dancelike; even featuring a few quick kisses between them. Oddly the cries sounded a lot like cries of fear and pain by now, and there were very loud sounds of battle even while they weren't actually attacking their opponents.
Aqua slowly awoke from her dreams, realising the cries and sounds of battle weren't in her dreams. Flashes of light came from between the trees. Curious and disturbed by the desperate cries, Aqua quickly made her way to the source of the disturbance, standing on a small precipice to observe what was going on four metres below. Four members of Team Plasma were battling a single trainer, surrounded on all sides except for the precipice. A Staraptor lay in a pool of its own blood, and the remains of what looked to be a Tepig made Aqua glad there wasn't much light to see with. She stared in shock at the battle beneath her, which the trainer was clearly losing. Her wounded Exeggutor was enveloped in flames, screaming from each of its mouths. Only a single, wounded Leafeon stood between the trainer and her enemies.
A blast of rocks and metal from a Probopass knocked down both the Leafeon and his trainer. Several more attacks were directed at them, until they lay on the ground, groaning.
“Stupid girl,” sneered one of the Plasma members. “Now let me give you the penalty for opposing Team Plasma! Probopass, Stone E-”
The Leafeon propped himself up on three legs and snarled furiously at the grunt, wobbling weakly. His Leaf Blade glowed weakly, but he couldn't even manage an attack. “No...” muttered the trainer. “Hector, don't... Just flee for your life!”
“Never!” growled Hector, “I won't leave you behind!”
“If you stand between Team Plasma and its enemies, you'll receive the same fate!” snapped the grunt.
“No, please!” cried the trainer. “Do with me what you want, but let Hector live, I beg you!”
“Probopass!” the grunt ordered. “Finish them with Stone Edge!”
Large, sharp stones pelleted both Hector and his trainer. They cried out briefly, then fell silent. The grunt laughed. “That's the third of these pests we caught this week!”
Another fell in as they walked off. “Yeah, we're getting really good at this. I bet if we continue this, the war'll be won with another month.”
Celebrating their victory as they walked off, they left Aqua - still paralysed with shock - looking at the battlefield. She could barely believed what she had just witnessed. The callousness with which the grunts had extinguished five lives had shocked her deeply, as had her own inaction. The thought of helping hadn't even entered her mind until it was too late. After standing there for who knows how long, her legs began trembling wildly and she collapsed, sobbing softly. “I.. I am a coward...” she cried. “I could've helped them... MADE A DAMN DIFFERENCE!!!” She could've taken Plasma completely by surprise. She could've hit them and all their pokémon with a surprise Surf or Scald from their flanks. Most of their pokémon had been rock or fire types. Or she could at least have extinguished the poor Exeggutor. “I hope you're happy now,” she said witheringly to herself. “You've kept your precious neutrality up once again.”
Boreas tried to wait for the perfect moment to talk to Octa. Apologising to Lucius and Selene had been hard enough, especially to the rather confrontational Lucius, but at least they had already known about the incident that he needed to apologise for. Though Selene still seemed a bit scared of him, she had accepted his apology, and he had let her sit on his shoulder for most of the day, which had been a convenient excuse not to talk to Octa. But now she was gone, and evening was nearing. Soon they'd settle down, and then there'd be someone overhearing what he said at any time. No, he needed to talk to Octa now, while the only person near was Black.
He took a deep breath and walked next to his friend. “Octa, I need to tell you something.” he felt his hair try to stand on edge, which it didn't manage only because of its considerable length.
Octa looked at him with his intelligent brown eyes and gave a little smile, which disappeared when he saw the distressed look on Boreas' face. “Oh?” When Boreas was silent for a bit trying to collect the courage to actually tell him and trying to find a place to start, he added: “What is it, my dear fellow?”
“I...” Boreas took another deep breath. “Remember back on Route 10? When I was saying goodbye to Aqua and we got into a bit of an argument?”
“Yes...” Octa frowned concernedly.
“Well... You told me to go after her and apologise... And I...” Boreas looked away in shame. “I... Well... I- I messed up, Octa. I... Was too prideful... Too angry... Too childish. I lied to you. I didn't go after her... I- I just sat down as soon as I was out of sight... And I lied about it to my friends... I am an idiot...”
It was silent for a moment. Boreas didn't dare look at Octa, keeping his eyes firmly down on the rocky path. Suddenly, he was enveloped in a tight hug in Octa's coils. He looked at his friend in surprise. “Oh, my dear fellow, I couldn't agree more. That was a very stupid action... No wonder you have been so upset lately. I blame myself for this, really... I know how you get when you get emotional... I should have followed you and made sure you spoke to Aqua.”
Boreas, who had been expecting a stern response, hugged Octa back in surprise. “It's not your fault, really, my friend. I should've listened to you. As usual, you were the voice of reason, and I was too stubborn to accept it. It's ridiculous, really: I'm twenty months old, and I'm still acting like a newly-hatched Eevee. Feeling like it too...”
“It's not that odd, my dear fellow. Twenty months is still quite young.”
Boreas chuckled. “For a Serperior, perhaps, but not for us Eevees. Many of us already have cubs when they're my age. I couldn't imagine raising cubs; I still feel like I still am one myself.”
“Let me tell you a secret, my dear fellow: almost every adult, no matter how old, feels like they really are still a cub within. I suppose being adult is mainly a matter of playing one. And telling this to me is at least a step in the right direction. I am disappointed you lied to me, but I shall forgive you for it... As you have clearly suffered enough for it already.”
Black, who had stopped as his pokémon hugged, petted Boreas' head. “Sorry to hear about that, little buddy. I hope she'll forgive you when you apologise to her.”
Boreas and Octa looked up at him in amazement. “You... You understood me?” Boreas gasped.
“It's Wednesday, actually,” said Black, looking surprised.
“Back to his normal form,” muttered Octa. “Still, old chap, I believe you are actually making progress.”
“I hope you're right, Octa; I hope Boreas will make progress. But I'm sure you will, little buddy, you and that Vaporeon are very close. She won't give up on you.”
“Uh...” mumbled Boreas, “I hope you're right. Thanks for the confidence.”
Octa let go of Boreas and they walked on, talking amicably. Boreas felt like a great weight had been lifted off his chest. When the evening fell, they came to a rocky plateau with a small lake leading to a pass between two peaks. Crossing the plateau, suddenly a familiar voice echoed through the plateau. “I wouldn't enter that pass, if I were you.”
As Boreas looked around for the source of the voice, Diego and a couple of other pokémon emerged from behind the rocks.
Re: The Surprising Adventures of a Glaceon in Unova (Chapter 60 is up!)
I drew Boreas as he will look by the time they'll reach the League: Boreas by ~apenpaap on deviantART
Chapter Sixty-One: Strange Bedfellows
Boreas growled as he and Black's other pokémon took up defensive positions. “You can't threaten us, Diego! If you want us to stop, you'll have to force us!”
“I wasn't threatening you,” said the Zoroark bitterly. “It was a warning. Don't go onto that pass if you don't fancy a painful death.”
Only then did Boreas see Diego was wounded, as were the other pokémon. Which was perfect in his eyes, as he might finally have a chance to defeat the Zoroark in this state. “What do you mean?” Octa asked, his Leaf Blade drawn.
“Don't encourage him, Octa,” said Boreas, “we shouldn't let him trick us with whatever he's plotting!”
“I'm not planning anything, Boreas,” said Diego. “I'm warning you. A Hydreigon and its kin hunt for prey on that pass. They attacked us when we tried to get though. Most of us made it, but not Zzlyxy. A Galvantula,” he added.
“You have my compassion for your loss... And my gratitude for your warning,” said Octa cautiously.
“Octa!” Boreas snapped, “it's just a trick! His last trick cost you your uncle and his children, remember?!”
“My dear fellow,” hissed Octa, “this is not the time to let only our well-justified hatred for him speak. We have to consider his words, for they are quite plausible. Besides, their wounds seem to indicate he's speaking the truth.”
“It's an illusion,” said Boreas darkly. “The only wound he has is in his twisted mind, in place of a conscience. Fortunately, there is a cure for that; it involves an Ice Beam applied directly to the face for about half a minute...”
“A pleasure to see you again too, Boreas,” sneered Diego sarcastically. “But why don't we delay the inevitable moment when I snap your neck until we reach the League? If we fought each other here, there's no chance the survivors would get across that pass alive. So why don't we call an armistice and discuss our options?”
“The only reason you'd call for an armistice is so you can cut our throats while we don't expect it,” snapped Boreas.
“My dear fellow,” Octa interrupted sternly, “this choice is not just yours. Methinks we should accept the armistice and listen to what they have to say. However,” he said to Diego, “I shall negotiate with N only, not with you. I will want to touch him to make sure he's not an illusion. And, my dear fellow, I want you to remain alert for treason, especially from Diego, at all times.”
“Fine,” muttered Boreas, already watching Diego for the merest sign of treachery to strike.
“He's not the only one who'll be watching them,” grumbled Lucius. “I say it's a waste of time to negotiate with Plasma. But if you have to, go ahead. But I'll incinerate them at the first sign of trouble.”
“N has been wounded,” said Diego, “so you can talk to me instead. N trusts me completely.”
“I'm sure he does, but I do not,” Octa refused. “I share Boreas' distrust of you for your past actions. The only way I would talk to you is under the assumption every work you speak is a lie. So please take us to N.”
“Fine. If you want to talk to him, you'll have to follow us.”
Very cautiously, Boreas and the others followed N's pokémon. Aside from Diego, there were an Archeops, a Carracosta, a Klinklang, and a Vanilluxe. They led them around several large rocks until they reached N. He was indeed wounded: his arm in a dirty sling and large purple bruises on his head, aside from several more wounds. He sat up straight when he saw them. “Ah, they caught up with us?” he asked Diego.
“Yes, they did,” said Diego. “They only wanted to talk to you, however, though I assured them I had your trust.”
Octa immediately extended his hand to shake N's. “N, 'tis moderately pleasant to see you once again.”
Boreas kept his body very far below zero as he prepared a Blizzard to hit Diego with when his trick was exposed the moment N shook Octa's hand. However, when N actually did take Octa's hand, Boreas saw Octa quickly feel each of the fingers. He nodded to Boreas to assure him it was unmistakably a human hand, and Boreas let himself relax a little. He doubted Diego would betray the cease-fire while N could see him. Though he did keep an eye on the Zoroark. “Nice to see you all too,” said N. “I'm sure Diego told you exactly what happened to us, so do you want to help?”
Black chuckled nervously. “Well, I can't really understand what he was saying, I mean, he's a pokémon.”
N gave him a pitying look. “It's so sad how you humans just can't understand us pokémon... Fortunately, you can understand me, because I was born in the form of a human. This is-”
Black interrupted him. “You think you're a pokémon?”
“Of course,” said N, as if he had been asked whether the world was round. “How else could I speak to them? That's something no human can do.”
“That's not true,” said Black, “humans who spend enough time with their pokémon and know them well, pokémon masters and such, can understand pokémon too.”
“Nonsense. If that were true, Ghetsis and the other Sages could do it, as they're the greatest pokémon masters in the world.”
“They can,” Boreas interjected. “And so can Alder. Drayden could do it too, and I bet other powerful trainers as well. Black's been trying it too, and has actually been making a little progress.”
“Thank you,” Black nodded.
N looked at Diego. “They're trying to distract you,” said Diego. “It's neither true nor relevant.”
“He's lying, N!” snapped Boreas.
N frowned angrily. “Diego would never lie to me! Only humans lie, how dare you suggest my best friend would lie to me!” he took a deep breath. “Now let's get to business. When we first entered this plateau a few days ago, we just walked on to that pass. But we were attacked by Deinos and Zweilouses, which were led by a Hydreigon. I tried to talk to them, but they wouldn't listen. When they attacked... There were a lot of them, and the Hydreigon was very powerful. They devoured Zzlyxy as we fled... Even Zekrom only managed to hold them back for a short while.”
“I'm sorry to hear that,” said Black. “I know what it's like to lose a pokémon, it really hurts terribly.”
“She wasn't my pokémon,” said N, “but my friend. That is much worse. But, since neither of us can get past the pass on our own, I think we should try it together.”
“What, you and me teaming up?” Black asked in surprise. “Well... I guess if that's the only way we're going to get through Victory Road, we should. But after we pass the Hydreigon, it's every man and 'mon for themselves.”
“That makes sense,” said N, “after all, though we are both heroes, we have opposite goals. I seek an ideal world, you seek the truth.”
“N, I'm not a hero and I don't seek the truth,” Black sighed. “All I want to do is stop your Team Plasma from causing even more damage than they already did.”
“If you don't accept your role as the hero, Reshiram will never recognise you as Zekrom has recognised me. Then you certainly won't be able to stop me.”
“Then I'll stop you with my own pokémon!” snapped Black.
“You will fail,” stated N.
“You don't know that!” snapped Black.
“Of course I do; the legends say the only ones who can defeat the hero and his dragon is the other hero and his dragon.”
Toxica interrupted Black's response to that. “Look! If you two are going to fight each other instead of that Hydreigon, we'll never get anywhere. Let's settle it at the League.”
“She's right,” said N, “we can't fight here; this is Victory Road. We'll see who is right at the League. Now let me describe to you exactly what that pass looks like so we can stand a better chance at getting through...”
Boreas had already resigned to the alliance's necessity. While he was determined not to believe anything Diego said, he knew N was at least somewhat trustworthy. He didn't mind allying with the human and most of his pokémon, but he did mind the thought of fighting alongside Diego. When he thought of all the things the Zoroark had done, Boreas only wanted to kill him. He didn't really listen to N's description, focussing instead on keeping an eye on Diego. When the Zoroark approached him, he was ready to fight in an instant.
“Don't look so alarmed, Boreas, I'm just here for a friendly chat. After all, it seems we're once again on the same side.”
“We've never been on the same side,” growled Boreas.
“I was your brother for two months, remember?” said Diego with a grin.
Boreas trembled with fury, but struggled to keep calm; undoubtedly Diego was just trying to get him to break the cease-fire. “You desecrated my brother's memory, you mean. We weren't on the same side, your very presence was both an insult and an injury.” Boreas would never admit it, but when he thought of Zeph, a cheekily grinning Flareon came to mind, not the Eevee he really had been. It made it even worse, as if Diego had stolen his brother from him.
“Well, like it or not, I was your brother for a longer time than he ever lived in reality. And, you know, having most of your early memories makes me realise why you act like this, so I'll forgive you.”
“Keep your forgiveness!” Boreas spat angrily, “I don't want it!”
“We're allies now, you've got to let go of petty anger.”
“Petty anger? It's nothing short of major psychotic loathing, Diego! You turned Aqua against me and tried to murder her! You desecrated the memory of my brother and you nearly killed Octa! You hung me up by my tail and you broke my leg! Death is too good for you, you heartless monstrosity, but it's exactly what I'll give you!”
Diego shrugged. “You're an enemy of Team Plasma; I'd never have done any of that if it wasn't for the war. These things happen. But you're clearly not in a talking or forgiving mood.”
He turned around and walked away to listen to the plans. His back formed a tantalisingly attractive target for Boreas. He could fire his strongest Ice Beam at the top of Diego's neck; paralyse his entire body for a while by freezing his nerves. The bastard would fall on the ground, and Boreas could be upon him within a second, digging his claws in. He would place his paws on the Zoroark's head and quickly unleash several powerful pulses of cold through his brain. Diego would be severely wounded before anyone could stop Boreas; and in the middle of these mountains, he'd probably never recover. Boreas found himself having cooled his body down, ready to do what he'd sworn to do a year ago. The cold from his body collected in a single point... And dissipated.
He was so very close to killing Diego, but had managed to hold himself back. He had seen N's reaction to even the suggestion Diego was lying; lethally injuring him would instantly end the alliance. And then they could never get past the Hydreigon; Team Plasma's darkness would descend over Unova. Trembling with fury and hate, he slowly calmed himself down by forcing himself to breathe calmly. He felt a hand on his shoulder and angrily turned at it, only to discover it was Octa's. “Are you alright, my dear fellow?” he asked softly.
Boreas smiled. “Yeah, I am. In fact, you should be proud of me: I kept my anger under control just now.”
Octa raised an eyebrow. “It didn't sound like it to me.”
“Believe me, it was. He's still alive, you see.” But won't be for much longer... he added in his mind. Because once they were through the pass, there was no reason not to kill Diego. In fact, it would feel very good to finally get rid of him.
Aqua wasn't sure she was doing a wise thing as she sneaked through the station. But she knew she had to try. Seeing the trainer and her pokémon be murdered had finally opened her eyes. Team Plasma was evil, there was no other word for it. She had known these things were happening, she should've seen how horrid they were earlier, but somehow they hadn't seemed real and serious until she had seen it happen herself. She could curse at herself for helping Plasma for so long, standing by idly while good people died, and even fighting on Plasma's side, but what was done was done. She should repair their damage as best as she could.
Strangely, she still agreed with them on their core issues. While there were some decent humans, most of them should stay away from pokémon; overall they probably did more harm than good. But the very first among those bad humans were surely Team Plasma. Once they were defeated, she could try and get others to release their pokémon, if there were any trainers left. For now, her place was with Boreas, against Plasma; bizarre though the thought of fighting on the side of the trainers was.
She had considered trying to overtake him the moment she realised this, of course, but it was obvious there was no way she was going to catch up. Not from this side of Victory Road at least... That was why she was trying to sneak onto a train to the League, so she could come from the other side and join them for the final bit of the journey. It made more sense to just wait at the League... But it felt better to join them, even if only for a bit.
So she now sneaked around the station, trying to board the train north without being found, as it would be assumed she was a trainer's pokémon if anyone saw her. Not surprisingly, the train to the Pokémon League was under extra scrutiny. There didn't seem to be any passengers boarding the train, only some food and other supplies being loaded on it, yet a bunch of Plasma grunts stood on the platform, guarding it. It was quite obvious to Aqua she was not going to get in easily, and fighting all of them would be quite impossible. She knew a trick, but she needed a source of water for it.
She sneaked into the bathroom and turned on all faucets; not an easy feat without opposable thumbs. With the water flowing, she commanded it to follow her as a small river behind her. She hid behind some supplies once again, and had the stream flow onto the platform; making the shape of a Vaporeon's head made of water rise out of it. The startled guards, looking at it in the weak light, immediately sent out their pokémon. She made the river and the fake Vaporeon quickly flow away, drawing the guards with it. She ran into the train's door as soon as she could and hid under a chair. She chuckled at her successful use of the trick that had led people to believe Vaporeons could melt into water; by now the guards would be looking at just a big puddle of water with stupid looks on their faces.
The pass was deathly quiet as they walked through it. The tall slopes of the peaks on either side were very steep and rocky and had several caves in them from which the enemy could come at any moment. But as far as Boreas was concerned, the enemy was right here. He made sure not to turn his back on Diego for an instant. He assumed Diego was planning to kill him as well; he'd have to be quicker about it.
A sense of awe and fierce, electrifying ideals flashed over Boreas as N released Zekrom from its pokéball. A beautiful image of a world where pokémon were free from humans filled his mind. He saw the perfection of pokémon compared to humans, who couldn't even understand what pokémon said. He had never been so proud to be a pokémon, and he longed to be liberated... But why wait? He was clearly powerful enough to liberate himself, and help make a world for liberated pokémon...
Then he remembered what Team Plasma's ideal world really looked like. He remembered his friendship with Black and quickly shook those strange thoughts off. “Yikes, no wonder they're winning,” he said in surprise. He saw similar thoughts temporarily in his friends' faces, even in Black.
N smiled. “You just felt the full force of Zekrom's ideals; my ideals. Now, perhaps, you understand my cause... Or at least why I normally keep Zekrom inside its pokéball.”
“Yeah...” replied Boreas. “Having that constantly happen to anyone near...”
“That, and it exhausts quickly. It seems it's hard for it to keep up its passion for an ideal world for extended times... It told me it prefers being in its pokéball while travelling... So strange.”
“Yeah, that is weird...” said Boreas, surprised he was having a chat with N now.
After some silence, N said: “By the way, my condolences for your loss... It must feel so bad, losing her like that...”
“Huh? Losing whom like what?”
N looked at him as if he was insane. “Aqua? You know, she got killed by trainers the day I awoke Zekrom?”
Boreas laughed coldly. “Is that what Diego has told you?”
“Ghetsis told me the tragic news... Then Diego later gave it in more detail.”
“They lied. Aqua is alive and well. The only one who tried to kill her was Diego himself; he betrayed her and tried to kill her by breaking her-”
“That's not true!” snapped N, furiously, and Zekrom's tail flared with blue light as it crackled with electricity. “They would never lie to me, and Diego certainly wouldn't try to kill Aqua!”
“Oh, I'm sorry for believing what I saw with my own eyes! She was in the pokécenter for weeks!”
“You're lying! You-”
N's words ended as the dragons attacked. They suddenly came down the slopes on both sides. Boreas, with a reaction that surprised himself with speed, had Ice Beamed two of the Deinos down a second later.
“Hold on!” shouted N. “There's no need to attack us! Please, stop, we can talk this out instead!”
The dragons didn't heed his words, as Boreas expected. “They only see us as food, they're not going to negotiate with us!” he pointed out as he fired more Ice Beams. “We either win or we die; they're going to be as merciless as your big friend Diego.”
N said something, but a loud roar as the Hydreigon swooped down and huge, crackling bolts of electricity blasted from Zekrom drowned him out. Boreas found himself fighting in the midst of N's pokémon. It allowed him to observe their battle styles, which would come in handy at the League or later today after he'd killed Diego, but it was also a problem, as it meant he couldn't trust his allies to protect him.
It had been easy enough taking out Deinos from a distance with Ice Beams, but it was a lot more dangerous once they reached the pass and could strike back. But the Deinos weren't really the problem; the Hydreigon was very dangerous, striking with enormously powerful attacks from each of its heads. Fortunately, N had the sense to tell Zekrom to battle it.
But even the Zweilouses were powerful enough opponents to keep them very busy. Boreas was soon enveloped in battle with one of the two-headed dragons, exchanging ice and dragon fire between them as both heads snapped at Boreas and tried to bite him. A couple of Deinos flocked around them and attacked Boreas too, which was a bigger problem; he thought he could probably best the Zweilous, given some time, as the scaly skin and ectothermic bodies of dragon-types couldn't handle cold well, but with all the Deinos attacking as well he could easily be overwhelmed. He considered making a Blizzard around him to take them all down, but the intense amount of energy that would cost would leave him too open for any other enemies, not to mention Diego.
But he did need to stop them from attacking him. A poorly executed attempt to bite him from the Deino on his left was just what he needed. As the creature stuck out its neck in a clumsy attempt to bite Boreas, he grabbed it with one paw on the head and one on the neck. He blasted a pulse of cold from each paw while digging his claws into the opponent, giving a strong yank. His enemy stumbled and fell past him, against another Deino, and Boreas Ice Beamed them both once more. He hoped the Deino was unconscious, not dead, but in either case the others would think twice before attacking him now.
He had only a moment to react to the double blast of fire from the mouths of the Zweilous, jumping out of the way clumsily and quickly folding his tail up. He landed poorly, hurting his front legs, and felt searing heat just behind his bum; if he hadn't retracted his tail he would probably have lost another part of it. He got up, jumped out of the way of his opponent's jaws, and struck back with a gust of snow and hail.
The battle was going well: his opponent was enraged and shivering and about to make a mistake, as Boreas saw its two heads about to try a bite attack almost as clumsy as the Deino's; which was fine with Boreas, as he could respond in a similar fashion. But just at the wrong moment, as he had already begun his counterattack, a sharp pain shot through Boreas' tail as one of the Deinos had the courage to attack him after all. Even during his startled reaction of pain, he knew it was a bad mistake, as his counterattack had been disturbed and misaimed. He tried to dodge his enemy's jaws instead of counterattacking, but he couldn't avert his momentum any more.
A white light of severe pain flashed through Boreas' head as his right eye erupted in agony, the entire side of his forehead struck by the Zweilous' razor-sharp teeth. He blasted his opponent with a pulse of cold and tried to keep his distance again. But he felt blood flowing through the fur on his face, and he couldn't see anything with the eye. He was dizzy and nauseous with pain, losing blood fast, and having trouble seeing well with only one eye.
He struggled to try and dodge or parry the Zweilous' further attacks, but it was futile. The Deinos around him has been encouraged by his wound and were attacking together. He groaned in agony, but couldn't give up. He unleashed cold from his body, making the air flow rapidly and cool down around him. It went faster and faster, and he heard the Deinos whimpering around him.
Suddenly, pain filled his entire mind, even worse pain than he was already in. His right hind leg burned with agony, and Boreas was only vaguely aware his Blizzard had stopped. He couldn't think of anything but the pain right now, and only with much effort was he able to open his tear-filled eye and look at the leg. “Oh no, not again...” he groaned, seeing it was twisted in a very weird angle.
He couldn't do a thing, crushed with pain. He tried to escape, but the Zweilous was about to finish him off. A beam of darkness hit both its heads and knocked it away from him. “Lucius?” Boreas groaned weakly.
“Guess again,” said a hated voice as Diego attacked the Zweilous with his claws and dark attacks.
While Boreas' body most wanted to curl up and whimper in pain, he said: “Diego? Why- why are you doing this?”
“Because you obviously can't fight for yourself,” he said, “and you're my ally at the moment. You'd do the same for me, after all.”
“What's your game, Diego? Lure me into a false sense of security, only to murder me in my sleep?”
Diego laughed as the dragons began retreating. “If I wanted to murder you, I could easily do it right now and claim the Zweilous got you.”
“How comforting...” muttered Boreas as he closed his eye in pain, guilt pressing on him. He tried to shake it off, but the thought that he had been plotting to kill Diego while Diego saved his life was not a pleasant one.
Boreas was in a very bad mood as Black cleaned his eye and forehead with a wet towel. N and his team had left soon after the attack, as none of them had been seriously wounded. Boreas had been too weak and felt too guilty by Diego saving him to carry out his plan to kill the Zoroark. He felt doubly bad now, both because Diego was still alive and because he had plotted to kill him, which Diego had repaid by saving him. But why?
Boreas wasn't quite sure whether he'd rather consider that question or think about his eye. Losing the tip of his tail had been bad enough, but an eye? Not only did the world look flat and ugly in his single working eye, but it was even more prominent an injury than the tail. He could already imagine the eyes of any person he talked to being drawn to his right eye, which would probably end up creepy, white and blind. He could imagine awkward silences falling when someone invited him to speak under four eyes, and the fact that to everyone he would be “that one-eyed Glaceon.” The next time he saw Aqua, she would look like a picture of her; flat and missing a certain living quality. And she might very well be disgusted by her creepy, blind eye. She had always liked his eyes... He wondered if she would ever look into them as she had again.
Sighing glumly, he decided he'd rather probe the question of Diego's kindness than his one-eyed future after all. It could only be a trick... In fact, there was suspicious similarity between Zeph “saving” him on Dragonspiral Tower and this. Could there have been illusions at work this time as well? Maybe the dragons had all been an illusion, and it was just Diego wounding him? But that was impossible; his friends had fought the dragons as well, and he had heard their sounds and the sounds of battle as well. Maybe he had told them to attack? But what could be the point of that? No-one had joined their team this time. Unless... Boreas wondered if Diego might've used the chaos of battle to quietly kill one of his friends and replace them, masking himself with an illusion. He would have to touch each of them to make sure, but it didn't seem very likely, as they had all fought close to each other, where they could see one another. Maybe he had just been trying to win Boreas' trust? But what would be the use of that? In any case, he did not have it.
The thought that perhaps Diego's motives were just as friendly as they seemed was a scary, and fortunately impossible one. Diego had tormented him for a year now. There couldn't possibly be any true kindness in him. Yet, Boreas had truly loved his illusion as a brother, and all that time Diego had expertly pretended to be a kind, good person. Could a truly evil person really keep up such pretence for so long, or had Diego let out his deeply-buried good side? Boreas could almost believe it, until he remembered what had happened to Aqua when she had trusted him. He clenched his teeth with hatred; maybe he could forgive the things Diego had done to him if the Zoroark worked very hard to earn his forgiveness, but he would never forgive that. Yet, despite the unforgivable things Diego had done, could there really be a spark of light in his dark heart?
Black interrupted his train of thought. “There, I'm done. We'll keep your head bandaged for the next few weeks; after that the eye should be as good as new and the wound will be only a scar.”
“Huh?” Boreas wondered whether he had heard it correctly. “My eye... Is going to heal?”
“You knew your eye was mostly alright? Well, I didn't; it really looked as if the eye was damaged badly. Fortunately, the attack mainly hit your forehead, making a very deep cut there, which is where all the blood really came from; it just flowed into your eye, which probably also meant you couldn't see a thing with it. But the eye itself has really only been hit very lightly. As for your leg, that will take some more time to heal, but...”
Black said more, but Boreas didn't listen to him. Ecstatically happy he hadn't lost his eye, he hugged Black. The world suddenly seemed a lot brighter with this spot of hope restored.
Re: The Surprising Adventures of a Glaceon in Unova (Chapter 61 is up!)
I can understand Boreas reaction and distrusts towards Diego after what he's done, but in this case, it clouded his own judgment and common sense when it comes to the possible danger of the Dragon Pokémon. But who can blame him? After what Diego has put him through, it's hard not to understand that.
It was quite interesting to the temporary alliance between Black's team and N's, even though it was somewhat shaky one at best. I also like Black's growth as a character and it also seems he finally can understand (somewhat) what his Pokémon are saying. I do miss some more interactions from him, though.
Good to see Aqua have seen the true nature of Team Plasma and decided to head for the Pokémon League. Quite a nice trick to fool those grunts.
Overall, a good chapter. Keep it up.
Re: The Surprising Adventures of a Glaceon in Unova (Chapter 61 is up!)
Yeah, he was more focussed on N's pokémon than his enemies, and nearly lost an eye for it. Not to mention his life, if Diego hadn't intervened.
Originally Posted by Tophat Dragoneye
Black is unfortunately a hard character to write. I wonder if it's the reverse of the effect that causes the trainer's pokémon in many pokémon fics with humans as the main characters to be underdeveloped as characters.
It was quite interesting to the temporary alliance between Black's team and N's, even though it was somewhat shaky one at best. I also like Black's growth as a character and it also seems he finally can understand (somewhat) what his Pokémon are saying. I do miss some more interactions from him, though.
Good to see Aqua have seen the true nature of Team Plasma and decided to head for the Pokémon League. Quite a nice trick to fool those grunts.
Overall, a good chapter. Keep it up.
Anyway, on to the chapter:
Chapter Sixty-Two: Lost in the Black Mountains
The journey over Victory Road was hard enough with four good legs and two good eyes; with one leg in a cast and one eye covered up to help it and the wound in his forehead heal it was even worse. Yet Boreas couldn't just sit out the journey in his pokéball either; his friends needed him in the frozen landscape, which was getting colder day by day. Even with his broken leg he still had the easiest time with the cold and the ice, and walked on top of the layer of snow with relative ease while his friends struggled through it. He had to scout ahead, try and find the easiest paths through snow and ice for them, and forage what little food there was to find. His innate feeling for the structure of ice helped them avoid dangerous spots and avalanches. The only times he was returned to his pokéball was when they had a particularly difficult climb or descent to do.
On snowless days they often found the tracks of N and his pokémon, and when they were about to head into a dale they could sometimes see them deep down already in it. They didn't manage to catch up, however, and in fact saw less and less of them as September turned to October. Boreas preferred it this way, as the sight of Diego or his tracks made him wonder how different they really were from each other. Diego rescuing Boreas while he had been plotting the Zoroark's death and would probably have just watched and laughed if he was about to be mauled to death hadn't really improved his opinion of himself. He had felt a lot better after apologising to Selene, but now he wondered again whether they were really so different.
He wondered now if Diego's parents were still alive, and what they thought of him... Were they proud of their son? Did they disapprove of him? Did they lose contact ages ago? Did they get killed by humans, pushing Diego into Team Plasma out of revenge? How would Boreas' parents think of him if they were still alive? He had always assumed they would probably be proud of him, but would they really be proud of someone who had been plotting an ally's death in cold blood?
Then again, he thought, I shouldn't lose perspective. I was planning Diego's death, not that of a real ally, or even a temporary one. He's my enemy, no matter what.
But what if he isn't? Maybe he really isn't that bad. He did save my life when I would've watched him die.
Boreas still couldn't think of a proper explanation for Diego rescuing him. None of his friends had been replaced, he had made sure of that, and the battle didn't seem to have had any other use either. Except for Boreas' complete confusion. Could Diego have been planning this? Maybe he had only saved Boreas because he knew it would confuse him to no end. Or perhaps it was part of some future plan, and the Zoroark only wanted him to think he had become a better person?
Boreas sighed in frustration. Finding out the motives of an enemy as cunning as Diego was like trying to hold a slippery eel. He didn't know whether to feel guilty, angry, cautious, or something else now. If Diego was planning something, then relenting in his desire to kill him could prove a fatal mistake. But on the other hand, could Boreas kill him while there was even a chance he wasn't as bad as he seemed? If, despite all the horrid things he'd done, there was some good in him? It was easy to just consider the fact that he'd sworn to kill Diego as a settling argument, but Boreas wasn't going to take the easy way out and hide behind oaths. In the end, he had a choice to make. Was it a worse oversight to let a villain live to cause more harm in the future or to kill someone who might be a decent person, no matter how unlikely that was?
Boreas didn't know the answer, but he finally decided he wouldn't need to commit either mistake. He just didn't have enough information to make his choice, so he would wait. And when the time came that he had to make a choice, he would hopefully know enough to do the right thing.
So as they continued through the increasingly barren landscape, he tried not to think about it, and his thoughts turned to Aqua. Did she miss him as badly as he missed her? Had she given him up completely after their fight? Would he ever see her again? Boreas missed everything about her terribly. Most of all, he just wanted to hold her and tell her how sorry he was for his selfishness and that he loved her more than he loved anything else in the world. He didn't want to waste another minute of his life not being with her.
The problem with Victory Road was that he had far too much time to think. It seemed there would never come an end to the mountains. The rough, wild landscape was exciting, and it was always great to see what was behind the next row of mountains, but he really wanted to get to the League soon to try and find Aqua and defeat N. He tried to talk to his friends a lot to stop the endlessly pouring thoughts, but even the floods of words Octa and Toxica could produce didn't help much to take his mind off things. Besides, their love troubles reminded Boreas of his own. Though at least neither Aqua nor he had a family as troublesome as Octa's. They still hadn't accepted Octa and Toxica being together, though they tolerated it for the moment. Boreas wondered what Toxica would have to do to be accepted. Maybe there was noting she could do, maybe Octa's family was too stuck in their ways and traditions ever to accept her. On a certain level, he actually found himself hoping that.
And so October slowly crawled past. As November came, winter had truly started. Blizzards were frequent, and even when it was clear the cold was amazing. The days were short and dark, with the Sun hardly ever rising above the mountains, and the nights were endlessly long, dark as a dungeon, and very, very cold. Yet in these dark days, Boreas found happy tidings as Black finally removed the bandage from his eye.
“There,” he said with a smile as he cleaned Boreas' fur where the bandage has been, “the eye and the wound are both looking well. Can you see?”
Boreas looked around in wonder. Everything looked much brighter and strangely reddish in his right eye. “Everything is so bright...”
“That's because your eye has been covered up for weeks, it's completely adjusted to the dark. Give it some time.”
Boreas found the bright, unfocussed ghost image the second eye added to his vision very disorienting, used as he was to seeing with one eye by now. But of course his second eye quickly went from annoying to useful as he relearned how to use both eyes again. Seeing the world in three dimensions gave him more happiness and hope than he'd had for a while. They were nearing the League by now anyway.
A week later, after making their way through harsh, rocky terrain and fighting their way past a whole nest of Durants, Black removed the cast on his leg as well. Unlike the bandage for his eye, this didn't cheer Boreas up. While his leg now had more freedom to move, this made him feel how weak and painful it was by now. He had to push himself hard not to slow his friends down on non-snowy terrain, and he frequently had to clench his teeth against pain from the leg when he put too much weight on it. Only the thought every step brought him closer to Aqua kept him going on some days.
He didn't realise how literally true this thought was until later. They had Painstakingly climbed up a mountain's side from the vale below for the past two days. Tall pines managed to grow between the rough rocks. By the end of the second day, every time Boreas pulled himself up on a rock he wondered when he would pass out from exhaustion. He cursed and muttered under his breath at the burning of his muscles and the stabs from his leg. Breathing labouredly, he finally reached a forested ridge where his friends were already resting from the long climb. He threw himself down in exhaustion once he reached it and tried to catch his breath on the lightly snow-covered ground.
“Something's coming!” hissed Selene. Everyone scrambled to their feet, though they barely had the energy left to stand. Boreas could see it too, now, a small figure in the dark forest of the ridge. As it approached, he noticed its attractive, finned form, and couldn't believe his eyes. It had to be an illusion, but when she spoke all doubt was removed.
“Hello guys,” said a wonderful voice. “Glad to see you've made it this far.”
Everyone was silent as they beheld the Vaporeon with surprise and wonder. “Aqua...” Boreas finally gasped. “It... It can't be you, not here... This is a dream...” Then he grinned. “And a good one too...”
Aqua frowned angrily. “Don't get your hopes up, I'm still furious for what you said!”
Boreas blushed in shame, realising it was the real Aqua. Now he desperately wanted to pounce her, hold her tightly, kiss her for minutes and only think about her the whole night. But her anger was entirely justified. “Oh... Sorry, I thought I was dreaming...” he said, feeling horrible. “I'm so sorry for the things I said. It was wrong of me to insist you come here with me... And especially to tell you it was what you would do if you really loved me. I was trying to use emotional blackmail on you, and it was the greatest mistake of my life.”
Boreas cowered under the fierce look Aqua used to stare at him. “Yes, it was.”
He felt heartbroken and horrid, and knew he deserved it. “Aqua, my love... Not a day has gone by when I haven't lamented the things I said as a farewell to you. Can you please forgive this selfish, childish bastard, though he can't even forgive himself and is not remotely deserving of the love of someone like you?” he begged with tears in his eyes, dreading the answer.
Aqua's harsh mask quivered and trembled. “Oh, Boreas... I shouldn't... But... I-I can't stay mad at you. I love you too much for it, despite everything...”
It was as if Boreas had been submerged in an ocean of happiness. “Thank you! Thank you so much, my love. I promise I'll never, ever say anything like that to you again. I'll never let you down again. I love you...”
Aqua looked at him with a loving smile before scraping her throat and looking at Black. “Ahem. Um, well, that was only part of the reason why I came here. You see, I've decided to join you. I want to help you defeat Team Plasma. I assume that sixth spot on the team is still open?”
“It is...” grinned Black. “And I'm sure Boreas will be glad you're joining.”
“I am,” said Boreas, his tail wagging uncontrollably with joy, “I really am. But what made you reconsider?”
“Yeah,” said Lucius, “I'd like to know that too. It sounds a bit too convenient to me.”
“What do you mean?” asked Boreas.
“I mean it looks like Plasma is once again using you to get a spy on our team, pup. We chased off your dear “brother,” and now they landed another spy...”
“You take that back right now!” yelled Boreas. “Aqua is no spy!”
“Quit thinking with your dick, pup,” sneered Lucius, “she's been on N's team, she's palled around with Diego, and you have the hots for her. She's the perfect spy.”
Boreas was about to shout at Lucius again, but Octa interrupted him. “My dear fellow, I am sorry to say this, but he may have a point. No offence intended, Aqua.”
Boreas calmed down hearing his best friend say it too. “Octa, I trust Aqua with far more than my life. She's no spy, she would never betray me.”
“And look what she did with that sweet trust of yours in Chargestone Cave,” sneered Lucius. “They say love blind; take it from me, pup, it's a waste of time and a recipe for disaster and disappointment.”
Aqua's reply drowned out what Boreas had to say to that. “Listen, I know it sounds a bit suspicious, but I swear I haven't seen N since Diego attacked me at Dragonspiral Tower.”
“It's true,” added Boreas, with a foul look at Lucius, “N thought she was dead, because that's what Diego told him.”
“What about Ghetsis? Or any other Plasma members? Or maybe she thought this up on her own.”
“Shut up!” snapped Boreas. “She's not-”
“Boreas, please,” interrupted Aqua. “It's understandable your friends don't trust me after I fought for N.”
“Well,” spoke Octa, “I do not distrust you. However, some evidence to back up your claims would help me trust you, as would an account of why you changed your mind.”
Boreas saw sadness and guilt briefly flash through Aqua's eyes. “I'm sorry, Octa, but I really don't want to talk about it. And I can't give you any evidence other than my word.”
“And mine,” added Boreas. “I love and trust Aqua. If she says she's changed her mind and wants to join us, I believe her. I assure you, she's speaking the truth.”
“Thank you, Boreas,” said Aqua with a smile.
“Are you quite sure, my dear fellow? Is that not simply wishful thinking?”
Boreas looked Octa straight into the eyes, wanting to dismiss all doubt. “Octa, my friend, I've never been more certain of anything. I trust Aqua because I love her, and if you trust me as much, you should trust her as well.”
Octa looked him in the eyes for a moment. “Alright, then. If you can earnestly tell me you trust her, I shall do the same.”
“No!” snapped Lucius. “This is insane, we're not letting a spy on the team!”
“C'mon, Lucius,” said Toxica, “Boreas is our friend, if he says we can trust her, I guess we should. Plus, she's a fun person to have around.”
“Are you all stupid?! She's a spy, I'd bet anything!”
“C'mon, Boreas is our friend, can't you trust him?”
“It's not Boreas I'm having trouble trusting...”
“Look,” said Black, “we need a sixth team member in any case, we stand little chance against the Elite Four with only five. I was planning to have it be Reshiram, but since I can't seem to awake it, we don't have much choice. Boreas' girlfriend has proven her skill and determination simply by getting here. As far as I'm concerned, she's welcome to join. Can't you give her a chance?”
Lucius growled. “Fine! One chance, and one chance only! But I'm warning you, missy, I'll keep my eye on you. And the moment I see you betray us, I'll-”
“You'll what?” Boreas interrupted angrily. It was bad enough to hear Lucius insult Aqua, hearing him threaten her was even worse.
“I'll give her exactly what traitors deserve,” he said with a malevolent grin.
Boreas almost snapped out at Lucius, but took several deep breaths and looked into Aqua's eyes to calm himself down instead. He could swear he almost saw her wink at him. “She's no traitor, so it doesn't matter anyway.”
“Thank you,” said Aqua to everyone in general. “I won't let you down, I promise.”
“You'd better not,” mumbled Lucius.
“Hello, I'm Selene,” said Selene as she landed on Aqua's shoulder.
“Yeah, I know. Hi, Selene, we met, remember?”
“Yes, I do. Hello.”
“Anyway, Boreas,” said Aqua, letting Selene fly away, “I think we have a lot to... talk about.”
“Yeah, we do.” Boreas agreed, missing neither the innuendo nor the serious part of the invitation. “Come on,” he said as he walked off through the trees with her, looking for some privacy.
“Well, I suppose it was time to stop for today anyway...” he heard Black remark, but then they were too far away to hear more. They found a rough gully in the chilly forest on the ridge which seemed a good place to talk. Yet when they stood opposite each other there, they didn't know what to say. Boreas had already apologised and she had accepted it, so he didn't think he should start apologising again. He really wanted to kiss her, but could he just do that after all that had happened? It didn't seem like a good idea for now. He wanted to ask about what had changed her mind, but it seemed too heavy a subject to just begin talking about, since she had seemed so saddened by it.
“Hi,” he said hollowly.
“Hi...” she piped nervously.
An awkward silence pressed hard on them like the air itself had grown thick as custard. Boreas tried to think of something to say as he looked into Aqua's face. She was still looking incredibly attractive to him, though somewhat rougher after so much time alone on Victory Road. He wanted to compliment her looks, but found that too impossible to say. He hadn't had such trouble talking to her since the first days he had known her.
“It's... It's wonderful to see you again,” he finally managed to say.
Aqua nodded and smiled nervously. “Yeah...”
Boreas wasn't quite sure who had made the first move, but after a few more seconds, they were suddenly hugging each other tightly, lying on the ground. Boreas happily cuddled Aqua, relishing the feeling of having his paws around her and feeling her warm body pressed against his that he had had to miss for so long. He petted the soft fur on her back with love as she nuzzled his ears and hair.
“Oh, my love...” Aqua whispered. “I missed you so much.”
“I missed you too... Let's never do that again.”
“Fighting or parting for so long?” Aqua whispered as she petted through his hair and nuzzled his cheek.
“Both,” said Boreas, nuzzling her finned ears, “I want to stay at your side forever, my love.”
Their lips found each other with a kiss that filled their minds with love for each other like a hot air balloon is filled with air, keeping it warm and afloat. “I love you, Boreas...”
“I... I love you too, my brave Aqua... Coming all the way here just for me...” That remark had the effect he expected. He saw a flash of sadness on her formerly happy face. “Except you didn't, did you? There's more to it than just that.”
Boreas hated making Aqua so sad, but he wanted to help her with whatever it was. “Yes... Yes, there was. I can tell you... But it's not a happy story, not something for a moment like this.”
He gently hugged her as she lay on top of him. “It's always a good moment to help you. What happened?”
Slowly and with tears in her eyes, Aqua told him all about how she had gone south to Opelucid and witnessed the death of the trainer. She was sobbing on his shoulder by the time she was finished, while he tried to console her.
“I don't think you're to blame, my love... No-one would've reacted well when faced with that so suddenly after waking up in the middle of the night.”
“I hadn't looked at it that way yet...” she said sadly.
He gently embraced her and stroked her face. “Well, then look at it that way. Besides, you're here now to help us make things better.”
“You're right... But I know of someone who would've rescued them: you would have... I bet you would've saved them all.”
“Heh, you give me too much credit. I would've probably stood by just as helplessly if that happened so suddenly.”
“Of course you wouldn't have,” Aqua said, winking her tears away as she grinned flirtatiously. “My brave, handsome hero would've saved them. I'm sure of it.”
Boreas let himself be kissed by her, rather surprised. “Well, your mood changed quick. A moment ago you were in tears.”
Aqua shrugged apologetically and stuck out her tongue. “What can I say? I've missed you for three months, and now I'm snuggled close to you. You can't blame me for wanting to do other things than crying.”
Boreas grinned too. “Good idea. So... You were telling me about your brave, handsome hero?”
“That's right, I was,” giggled Aqua as she stroked Boreas' chin and chest. “He's this brave, cunning Glaceon. He's very cute and sexy, with these piercing cyan eyes of his. I've been in love with him since the day we met, and now even more, though he's not the same Glaceon any more.”
“No, you're not. You've changed a lot, both inside and out,” she said while petting his face. “Fortunately the changes are improvements. Your face looks a lot more handsome and adult now, you've received some scars, and you've grown quite a fetching beard.”
“I have?” blurted Boreas out in surprise. “I didn't know that was possible.”
Aqua giggled as she caressed his lower jaw. “My silly Boreas, you've really spent too little time among your own kind. The fur on the lower jaw of male Eevees tends to grow longer than the rest and colour darker, much like the hair on your head. Most keep that fur short, but you haven't... And I've got to say it looks very good on you.”
“Thanks,” chuckled Boreas, “I'm definitely keeping it now.”
“I was hoping you would, you look sexy,” she said with a wink. “You also changed inside, you're a lot more mature now. Those things Lucius said would've gotten you angry enough to attack him a few months ago. You've become a much greater Glaceon, really.”
Boreas considered telling her what had happened when they'd temporarily teamed up with N, that he'd plotted to kill Diego while they were allied, letting his hate cloud his reason. But he couldn't bring himself to tell her, he didn't dare risk losing her love, which he needed more than anything right now. “I guess you're right,” he lied. “But enough about me.”
He kissed Aqua, feeling slightly guilty about not telling her, but he lost his worries in their passionate kissing, making him feel nothing but happiness for the first time in months. Despite everything that had happened and was still going to happen, their lives were good at that moment.
Despite his struggle with telling Aqua what had happened with Diego, the next few days were happy ones to Boreas. Being with Aqua again was amazing, like being healthy again after a long illness, and the prospect that the League was only two weeks away made his mood even better. Aqua acted almost as their guide, since she knew the road, having travelled on it on her way to them. The forested ridge led to a series of caverns. They would spend several hours going through the caves in the mountains, and then resurfacing again. After a while they would drop underground again, and the cycle would repeat. Everyone was glad to be spending so much time underground now, as severe cold and heavy snowfall dominated the outside, while the Earth seemed to keep some warmth in.
The path they followed didn't go very deep into the mountains, but stayed somewhat close to the surface. Yet the caves occasionally branched off to deep, dark paths that seemed to lead straight to the heart of the mountains, to murky depths that hadn't seen light for aeons. Outside, the path was mostly singular, a path over mountainsides that were battered heavily by ice-cold winds. Even Boreas felt cold sometimes.
They came by a path that led straight north, up another mountain, right in the direction where the League was, but paths in the mountains often ended up going in different directions than they seemed to at first. Both Black's map and Aqua's memory said not to follow that road, but to continue westwards on the icy path over the mountainside. All were glad as they entered another cave, protecting them from the extreme weather. They spent the night in the caves on Aqua's counsel, as she made it clear this was the final tunnel they would travel through, after which the pass led straight north to the League for two more weeks.
They slept in the caves, one of them always on watch to warn the others for the many dangerous creatures that could encounter them in a cave like this. Boreas had a hard time keeping his mind in the present during the hours he was on watch, as he kept wondering about the things that could be in the darkness just outside their light's reach, and thought about the mysterious roots of the mountains they were now in, strangely with more curiosity than fear.
“Well, that's not good...” muttered Toxica as they looked upon the snow filling the cave's exit. They had walked through the dark tunnels until they encountered this: snow and ice filling the entire tunnel, leaving no open space to continue through at all. The fact that no light from outside shone through at all was a bad sign.
“There must've been an avalanche outside...” muttered Black. “Can we get through?” he asked Boreas, who has his ear and front paws pressed to the ice and was listening intently and cautiously letting pulses of cold run through the ice, using his species' innate senses for snow and ice to find out more about this obstacle.
“A bit of snow is no match for my fire,” bragged Lucius. “Stand back, pup, and I'll melt it away.”
Boreas shook his head. “Ho-oh itself couldn't melt through all that. And even if it did, it'd have to deal with a small lake's worth of molten water having nowhere to go but here.”
“Are you saying we can't get through?”
“I'm saying Black is right: there's been an avalanche, and it's completely blocked the exit up; buried it under about a hundred metres of snow. But at least there's some good news: look at the smooth ice on the surface here and the ice lying around on the bottom of this tunnel, as well as the soot on the roof of the cave: N has found his way blocked too and futilely tried to melt it away. Since we didn't run into him, he must've found another way. Presumably through the other tunnels down here.”
“A clever deduction, my dear fellow,” commented Octa, “I suppose this snow would thaw away eventually, but we could be here until summer if we waited for that... So you propose we try and find another path through these caverns?”
Boreas had an idea. “Actually, I have a better idea: remember that path north we saw yesterday? Why don't we go back and take that road? It goes into the League's direction, and seems pretty easy to travel on. And we wouldn't have to leave the proper path underground, an idea I'm not very keen on, considering how easy it is to lose all sense of direction without the Sun or stars.”
“Birds have a compass in their brains,” Selene spoke up. “At least... I think we have. But I know north is there. Well, there, I mean. Or maybe there...”
They looked at her pointing different directions with her wings, and weren't quite sure how to say what they all thought, but then Lucius said it: “Well, I ain't walking through these tunnels with any part of your brain as a guide, you crazy bird. Let's go with Boreas' idea.”
“But we have a proper compass too,” said Toxica. “Uh, no offence, Selene. Shouldn't we try and find a different exit from these tunnels instead? We might be able to get back on the path we should be taking like that, instead of taking some other path and hoping it takes us where we want.”
“A good idea, darling,” said Octa with an affectionate smile. “Methinks 'tis folly to wander through a mountain range this size without knowing the way. Better to see whether there's another way out of these caves first.”
Forcing his starved body to climb despite the pain and exhaustion he was in, Boreas once again wondered if he had led them all to their deaths. When they had found no quick exit from the caves, he had argued to take the pass north, and his enthusiasm had convinced his friends not to try and find a way through the deep reaches of the Earth, but to track back a few hours and take the pass north. It had seemed a sensible thing to do to Boreas: it led straight in the right direction, wasn't through a maze of caves under the Earth from which there might be no exit at all, and had seemed intriguing to him. He had wanted to explore the path, but he'd got much more than he wished for.
Before they'd encountered the avalanche, they had expected to reach the League by the end of November, but today was the final day of the year. He longingly thought back to the new years' celebrations last year on Route 5, and how his greatest worry at the time had been a little heartbreak and jealousy. Now there was a good chance he'd signed all their death warrants. The path had gone straight north for the first few days, but after that it began to meander wildly in all directions. Boreas was more and more certain in his heart that neither they nor this path would ever leave the Black Mountains with every passing dark day.
This far north in mid-winter, the Sun wasn't even there to comfort them with light. Every day there would be twilight, which would get brighter and brighter until it just gave up and withered away back to nights that were like deep black oceans of time. The moons and the brightly reflective snow meant they could at least see where they were going, though. Their food was as good as gone by now. The month that had been added to their journey as well as Aqua joining them meant they couldn't eat more than the tiny bite required to make them live to the next day. Boreas tried to find food every day as he scouted ahead, but there was so preciously little it only meant a very small addition to their measly diet. Despite his emaciated stomach's roar for hunger, he had only let his friends eat from the prey he caught; he knew they were at the greatest risk of not making it, since his species was at least partially capable of surviving in a landscape like this.
The presence of his friends was both a comfort and a curse. He would probably have given up if it wasn't for them, yet every time he saw how thin and pale Black was, or how Octa and Toxica had both gone yellow without light to photosynthesise, or when he felt Aqua shiver with cold and hunger in his embrace at night he felt horrid. Black returned them to their pokéballs as much as possible, but none of them were used to be in their pokéballs, and it didn't help much in the first place. The thought that their suffering might all be Boreas' fault vexed him, yet he knew better than to dwell on such thoughts endlessly by now. No-one would benefit if he brooded himself into a hopeless depression. He held on to the hope that they might one day see the League before them and feast and rest to all their desire... And then defeat N, if he had made it there, and finally let Team Plasma be defeated. Just getting to the League seemed all that was important now; in his mind the challenges they'd have to face there seemed minor compared to this. It was an incredible longshot, but Boreas held on to the knowledge that it was possible, not the knowledge that it was improbable. Any other course would lead only to him going insane with despair. And who knew? The path was about to turn around the corner of a mountain; perhaps he would see the lights of the League in its dale once he turned it? The thought made him quicken his pace over rock and ice, though his legs all protested, especially the recently-healed one.
What he saw when he turned around the corner was the last thing he expected: a wide flat country. The mountains were just gone, with terrifying suddenness. Under the dark blue twilit sky, he saw a vast snow-covered landscape. Yet there was no sign of any inhabitation; a barren wasteland of snow-covered tundra as far as the eye could see. It was then that he realised the pass had gone past the League, all the way up north until they had finally reached the northern edge of the Black Mountains and the uninhabited tundra beyond it.
Re: The Surprising Adventures of a Glaceon in Unova (Chapter 62 is up!)
Nice to see Aqua reunited with the rest of the group, though you can't really blame Lucius for suspecting her for being a spy, considering her role in the past.
As for the fact the group went the wrong way, I'm having a hard anything else than this: whoops. Wait, does that mean N and the rest went possibly that way as well? At any rate, things just became more complicated.
Re: The Surprising Adventures of a Glaceon in Unova (Chapter 62 is up!)
Yeah. Even Boreas has to admit it's slightly suspicious.
Originally Posted by Tophat Dragoneye
Well, you'll see what's going to happen now:
As for the fact the group went the wrong way, I'm having a hard anything else than this: whoops. Wait, does that mean N and the rest went possibly that way as well? At any rate, things just became more complicated.
Chapter Sixty-Three: The End of the Road
Boreas dropped to his knees in despair as he looked out over the endless tundra that lay to Unova's north. They must have gone the wrong way for the past seven weeks, too far east to reach the League. Now that Boreas had reached the end of the Black Mountains, he had reached the end of hope as well. Until then, there had always been the possibility they would reach the League soon, but now it was clear they'd never get there. They should've tried to find a way through the caves, no matter how deep and dark they were, Boreas thought bitterly. Now it was too late; they simply didn't have the food or energy left to journey back for seven weeks, and then on for however much more time it took to reach the League from there. The prospect of such a journey was not only overwhelming; it was impossible.
The dreadful hunger and weariness that had gnawed on his body for weeks finally felled him, as he had fought them only with hope, and now hope had failed. Laying down into the snow in pain, he knew it for certain: he would die here. And he would take his friends with him; having to deal with the cold as well as hunger would probably kill them before him.
He could hear them climb after him, still with some hope left. He hoped they'd savour those final moments of it before they joined him. He felt the dreadful moment as they saw it one by one and realised they were doomed. He heard their laboured breathing suddenly stop for a moment as the horrific realisation came to them. They knew it was over.
Yet something in Octa made him unwilling to give up, even now. “My dear fellow,” he said as Boreas felt him stir his shoulders, “stand up, please. We cannot give up, not now. We have to...”
Boreas turned around, grabbed his friend's shoulders, and looked him in the eyes, teary and desperate. “Octa, there's no point... I'm so sorry for this... It's over. There's nothing we can do but rest...”
Boreas saw the despair in Octa's eyes as well, the struggle not to give in. He felt even worse to think he'd brought Octa here to die than about his own doom. “But... We have to go on... We have to try. We can't let death simply take us, we have to fight it every step of the way. We have to endeavour to reach the League, even if our chances of making it are minimal...”
“You are brave and noble, Octa, and I'm proud to have been your friend... But our chances were minimal; they're non-existent now.”
“We have to try... We can't surrender, we have to continue, even if we can never reach our destination, no matter how bleak the journey... Would the heroes of the great tales ever have surrendered? Did Odysseus give up and find a nice island to live on? Did Frodo give up hope of destroying the Ring?”
Boreas softly hugged his friend. “No, they didn't... But this is no story, but reality... And in reality, not all stories have a good ending, or even a dramatically satisfying one... And I'm afraid ours ends here. We can try to fight it for another week if we really tried hard, perhaps, but that's not nearly enough to get anywhere... So I say it's better to die sooner than later, for die we must...”
It was horrible to see the nobility and the pride and the honour and the bravery all melt away from Octa's face as they were shattered and left only despair and sadness. He said nothing more, lying down to finally rest from the crushingly heavy journey.
Aqua softly stroked his hair, and Boreas felt rotten for leading her here as well. “I wish you hadn't come to find me...” he said.
“I don't,” she spoke sadly. “I'd rather die by your side than live alone... Though I'd hoped the dying by your side wouldn't happen for many more years...”
“I'm sorry I led you here... We should've gone through the caves, there must've been some way deep down them.”
Aqua hugged her crying boyfriend. “It's not your fault. We all agreed to take this road. We don't know if there was any way through the caves, there didn't see to be one... Maybe the only good road was back to Opelucid... But while I'd hoped our relationship would be a long and happy one, I'm willing to settle for short and exciting.”
“...I guess we should stay here tonight...” muttered Black, though it was clear he too knew they would stay there forever.
They were quiet for a while, overcome with exhaustion, starvation, and despair. The final light of twilight disappeared, shrouding the world in night. Though Boreas had given up, he found himself trying to think of ways out of this anyway, imagining several options, from somehow fashioning a hot-air balloon to going down into the tundra and trying to keep as many of them as possible alive until spring. Unfortunately the simplest option of just calling for help was impossible, as Black's X-transceiver hadn't had any connection for months; it was impossible this far from all human inhabitation.
But why was he still trying to think of a way to save them? It was impossible, and trying to would only mean more suffering before their inevitable death. There was no point to wasting his thoughts on this when he should really be thinking about nice things as much as possible, since these were after all his final thoughts. Yet a part of his mind was sure there was something he had overlooked, some solution to this problem. Maybe he had given up to soon after all? The sight of the desolate northern tundra was a despair-inducing one, but perhaps there was some way some of them could make it to the League yet. If only he could find a source of food... But there was no food in this barren landscape.
If he got incredibly lucky, there was a small chance he might be able to catch enough food on the journey to make it to the League himself, perhaps, but he would have to leave his friends forever. Did he even want to live with everyone he had loved dead? He had felt that way once before, but he had been too young to quite understand the full implications of it, and Octa and Black had been there to take care of him and make him feel better. This time, he would have no-one but himself for company for at least two months... No-one but himself, and the blame for their deaths... And still no-one after he reached civilisation, no-one he really knew. It was impossible; even if he found the food and somehow managed to keep sane, the extreme exhaustion that filled his every muscle with weariness and pain made it impossible.
Yet he tried to think of a way in which he could save even one of his friends. If there was even a small chance of rescuing one of them, he would get up and try his best at it, as it'd give him something worth spending what little energy he had on, some hope. He tried several ideas out in his mind, but in none of them could he see any chance of getting even one of his friends to safety, not even if he considered the horrid idea of cannibalising the others for food. The cold simply made two more months even more impossible for them than for Boreas.
“Boreas?” asked a croaky voice. “Why did we give up?”
He wasn't sure how to answer Selene's question. The Honchkrow sounded so innocent and merely curious. “Well... It's because we don't stand a chance of ever getting out of these mountains alive.”
“Why not?” she asked with childlike wonder, and Boreas felt horrible for having led her to her death.
“Because we took the wrong way... Because I led you down the wrong way... I'm so sorry, Selene.”
“Then why don't we try and find the right way again?”
“Because it took seven weeks getting here from Victory Road! Going back there in our state would take even longer, and then we'd still have to find the way to the League... None of us would survive that long.”
Selene nodded. “Then why don't we try to find a different way?”
“Because there is no different way! We're hopelessly lost, we only know we ended up somewhere on the northern edge of the Black Mountains! The League could be anywhere.”
“Even quite nearby?”
“Almost certainly not. The Black Mountains are gigantic, it could be anywhere! We won't find it by just wandering aimlessly, and I was an idiot to think we would.”
“Well, people often think I'm an idiot, but if that's what an idiot does, I'm happy to be one. Because I'm not just going to lie here and wait to die; I'm going to do the crazy thing and look for the League.”
“But... You can't even fly!”
“But I can walk,” she said, as she got up to her feet, wobbled a bit, and took clumsy steps through the snow, making a pained face because of the coldness at every step.
Boreas marvelled at her determination, but also realised what she was trying to do. “Selene, this won't work. You're not going to make it to the League like this, and you're not going to get me to join you either.”
“Fine with me,” she said, walking on, “I wasn't trying to get you to join me anyway. I'll probably see you again once we're all snow pixies, but if I make it to the League, I'll be sure to remember you all. Say bye to Lucius for me, if he wakes up again.”
Seeing her clumsily walk away into the icy night filled Boreas with admiration for her bravery and determination. He knew this was probably exactly what she was aiming at, but he didn't care: he got up, walked after her, and put her on his shoulder. “Come on, you crazy bird, you'll get frostbite if you walk through the snow like that. Say I followed you, did you have any plan or were you just going to wander randomly?”
“Well,” explained Selene, “I was planning to ask the people making those lights for the way.”
“Lights?” Boreas blurted out in surprise. Then he saw it: a distant mountain top in the south west was being illuminated by light of constantly changing colours. It would light up blue now, then red, then green. “What the...” Suddenly it dawned on him, and hope brightly shone into his mind like the Sun driving away the night of despair. “Zapdos' toenails, those are fireworks!” he hugged Selene tightly, causing her to squirm in his sudden grip a bit. “You did it! You found the League!”
He immediately rushed to his friends and tried to wake them up. “Wake up! Wake up, we gave up far too soon! Aqua, wake up! Octa, on your feet... Well, stand u- get up, I mean. Black, Toxica, Lucius, it's not time to die yet! Look, Selene found the League!”
“Huh? What?” murmured Black.
“Look, that mountain is illuminated by fireworks! They're celebrating New Year at the League! It's not that far, we can still make it! Come on, come on!”
They were all acting as if they were dazed and confused, and Boreas quickly realised they were hypothermic from going to sleep without tent or blankets in their despair. “Come on, I've been an idiot letting us give up, and I'm not going to have you die. We know where the League is!”
An intelligent gleam re-entered Octa's dazed eyes as he clumsily got up. “Hmm? My dear felon... Fellow, are you... Sure? That's splendid...”
“Yeah, it is! Come on, get up, all of you. You're suffering from hypothermia because I led you in giving up, but now I'm going to fix that mistake and get you all to the League. Black, get up.”
But he was still lying down, his eyes closed. “Hmmm... Let it wait till morning... I want to sleep...”
“If you sleep now, you'll never wake up again, you'll freeze to death! Get up.”
“I know we still have far to go,” murmured Black, “so let me sleep, we'll make plans tomorrow...”
Boreas bit down on Black's clothes and began pulling him up. “I'm not letting you sleep, so you might as well get up and walk. You'll be warmer that way.”
Octa too forced Black to get up, exclaiming: “On your feet, Black, old chap, 'twas wrong and cowardly of us to despair and give up. I can only imagine what my illustrious ancestors would say to such folly,” he said glumly as they forced Black to cooperate.
“Let me help a hand, guys,” Toxica said as she thrust her flower under Black's nose. He made a sound of disgust at the smell she emitted, and got up quickly.
“Thanks, Toxica,” said Boreas. He realised Octa needed encouragement. “Don't worry, Octa, I'm sure your ancestors would understand. At least the wiser ones would. C'mon,” he said, beckoning the others, “follow me, I think the mountain slopes here on the north-side aren't too steep for us to walk on them if we're cautious. We'll travel west along the north-end of the range, and seek another path south as soon as possible. If we get some luck at last, we may find a way into the dale of the League from the north instead of the south.”
Boreas led them onto the slopes of the mountains, the endless tundra covered in winter's snow and an occasional cloud stretching out to their right. Boreas made sure not to get too far ahead, worried his friends might give up in the bitter cold, and Octa used the opportunity to stay close to him. “I fear you may be wrong, my dear fellow,” he said at last. “My ancestors were great, noble, and valorous. They did not falter or let despair overcome them, no matter how dark the road.”
“Sure they did,” said Boreas. “Only no-one remembers it, because they overcame such moments, found their bravery again, and did the great things you remember them for. And you'll do great things too.”
“How can you be sure of that?” said Octa glumly. “What am I, but a pale shadow of my fathers? Shall I ever do deeds worthy of tales, or shall my heart falter again?”
Boreas had never seen Octa so full of self-doubt. He was always so proud, arrogant even, but now a huge change had come over him. “Octa, you're worth more than any of your ancestors. I know you'll do great, brave things. I don't know whether we can stop Team Plasma, but I'm certain that whether we win or lose, you'll be the envy of all your ancestors.”
“But how? How do you know this?”
Boreas gave him a hug and looked into his eyes. “Because you're my best friend, and I've known you well for almost all my life. I know your bravery and how noble you are. You're a great Serperior, Octa, and if there are any Equinoctes left in the future, I know they'll all be told of the great Octavianus, whether it's of his glorious victory or his brave last stand. But more than that, I know I can always count on you, no matter what.”
“Thank you, my dear fellow,” Octa said, his voice drenched with emotion and a tear in his eye.
Knowing his own determination was all that kept the others going through the incredibly hostile landscape, Boreas silenced his doubt they'd ever find a way. It was very disconcerting to see Octa in so much self-doubt it overcame his usual pride, so Boreas was as strong as he could to help his friend. Every step his exhausted and starved body had to take was agony, but he kept on trying to find a path in the knowledge his friends were feeling even worse, half-frozen as they were, and needed him more than ever.
They travelled on the northern slopes of the mountains for a few dark days. Boreas had to be incredibly careful, as there was no path save the one he made himself. Missteps almost cost him his life twice as he slid down several metres. The days were darker than ever before, as the mountains shielded the southern horizon and its twilight glow at day from them. Soon they ate their very last food. Boreas didn't expect ever to make it to the League, but he had to carry on and try.
On the fifth day, their determination was finally rewarded: there was a large separation between two mountains, only a little above them. Seeing this, they climbed to it, and saw the mountains form a snowed vale leading south. The League or its dale wasn't visible, but Boreas could see what he thought was the same mountain that had been enlightened by fireworks at New Year. They were seeing it from a different direction now, though, so he couldn't be sure, yet they journeyed towards it. They had no choice: they had eaten their last food the day before, so now it was a matter of days at most before they were too weak to continue.
Boreas took courage from the proximity of the mountain and the sky ahead getting brighter every day, but meanwhile his hunger grew and drained him of what strength he had left. By the time he found another valley bending westwards branching off of this one, his body felt incredibly weak. He had no idea hunger could be so powerful, so painful even. Even the thought of food made him drool, and he thought of it a lot. He was quite sure that if he ever found something to eat again, he'd eat until his belly had the size and shape of a cannonball.
One evening, they were huddled around a fire Lucius had made from some wood from the trees that managed to grow here. It wasn't much, but at least it warmed them a little. It was nice even to Boreas, because while his body could still function properly when its temperature was below zero, as it was now, it was quite unpleasant for long periods of time. Yet warming himself up would cost energy he simply didn't have.
In the past they'd often had their meal around such a fire, but that was of course impossible with no food left. They didn't speak, too busy sharing what little heat they had. Black finally asked them: “Wh-what are you going to do if we defeat Team Plasma?”
The question was quite a shock to Boreas, as he had completely forgotten that if by some miracle everything went according to plan, it wouldn't be very long until they came to journey's end. He hadn't really thought much about what he wanted to do afterwards; the quest seemed so daunting and huge it didn't seem likely he would ever get to fulfil any plans he made.
“I'm staying with you, of course,” said Lucius. “I didn't come this far to go do other stuff. When we beat the Champion, and those Plasma bastards are dead and burned, I'm going to enjoy being the Champion's pokémon and defend that title. Think of all the power and fame we'd have...”
Boreas considered the same. While it would mean being with his friends all the time, as well as being the most renowned Glaceon in the world, it also seemed rather boring. Just being in the League for most of the year, waiting for challengers... He didn't think he wanted to sit still for so long when there was so much he hadn't seen yet.
Toxica nodded. “Me too, but Octa and I have more important things to work out first. We gotta visit his family to get 'em sorted out once and for all.”
“Indeed, my darling,” spoke Octa, “for they still do not approve of our union, though they tolerate it for now, recognising there are more pressing issues. After all this is over, however, we shall have to return to my ancestral home to discuss the matter. And if they do not accept Toxica as one of our own...” he took a slow, worried gulp, “I shall have to leave them, for I would not leave Toxica even for them.”
“Thanks,” said Toxica with tears in her eyes, and she softly kissed him. “I know how much they mean to you...”
“Not as much as you do, my darling,” said Octa with a smile. Boreas petted his friend on the back, realising the tremendous and brave sacrifice he had just promised to make.
It was quiet for a while. “I don't know,” said Selene. “Maybe I'll go look for Uncle Istvan... But then, I heard about these three fairies, they might be fun to meet...”
“If you're not sure what you're gonna do,” Lucius offered, “maybe you should just stay with us? It'd be more fun to keep us all together, even you, and it'd be easier to defend the Champion title that way.”
Selene nodded and winked. “Well, sure, if you want me to stay with you that much, I will.”
“I don't want you to stay at all!” Lucius snapped angrily, clearly to Selene's humour, “you good for nothing birdbrain, why would I ever want you to stay with me?”
“I don't know,” Selene teased, “but you clearly would love me to stay with you.”
“I don't!” snapped Lucius. “Boreas, what are you going to do when we finish this?”
Boreas was given some time to think by Toxica sarcastically exclaiming: “Look over there, a change of subject! Lucius and Selene sitting in a tree...” and a brief quarrel ensuing, but then he had to answer.
“Well...” he said, still unsure. “I'm not sure either... Staying with you would be fun, but somehow it seems a bit boring to me. I want to see new places; I don't want to sleep twice on the same ground. I want...” a thought occurred to him. “I want to take you up on your offer, Aqua!”
“Huh?” she exclaimed in surprise.
“I beg your pardon?” exclaimed Octa.
The more he thought about it, the more he liked it. “Remember, Aqua, you offered it to me several times: for us to leave together and go wherever we please?” he grabbed her paw. “Well, I've decided on my answer, if you still want to do that: yes, I would love to go with you to unknown places. If we somehow defeat Team Plasma and are both able to tell the tale, I'd be delighted to see the world together.”
Aqua smiled happily. “That's great! And I'd still love to travel with you, my love.”
Boreas happily imagined their future together, but then his train of thoughts was derailed.
“But my dear fellow,” Octa interjected, “that would mean we would have to part. Quite possibly forever...”
Boreas realised with a stab of sadness that it was true, that it would mean leaving Octa, as well as his other friends, behind. But even so, he knew he was going to leave if they ever defeated Team Plasma. “I know...” he said sadly. “I'm sorry, Octa, I really am. But a Champion's pokémon's life just isn't for me. I don't want the journey to end, as there are so many places yet I've never been to. Hoenn, for example, or Johto. I've even heard about whole continents inhabited only by pokémon, which humans never found. If they exist, I'd love to find them.”
“That is only a myth, my dear fellow. But do you really want to leave me behind?”
“No, I don't. In fact, as far as I'm concerned, you are all welcome to join us.”
Octa sadly shook his head. “My apologies, my dear fellow, but I shan't. An adventurer's life, journeying for the sake of journeying, unfortunately is not for me. I shall remain Black's pokémon, helping him defeat challengers. But more importantly, we shall combat threats against Unova and its people, as is the Champion's duty. Plenty of honour, greater even than the Championship, can be achieved there. And if my house does not expel me for my union with Toxica, I shall continue to serve them. First my noble father, and then my brother Gaius who has been named his successor. But I would prefer to do all this with you at my side... Are you quite certain you wish to leave?”
Boreas sadly squeezed Octa's arm. Though he had expected such an answer, he still wished it was different. “I'm sorry, but I really am... But it won't be a permanent farewell, I wouldn't want to miss my best friend forever. I'll come back often...”
Octa nodded. “I know. Yet it would be a long time between our meetings. And there is a chance you would come to an early grave in some far land, and the news of it would never reach me...”
Boreas hugged his friend tightly. “I'm so sorry... But it's just the way I am. You know I wouldn't enjoy the future you want... But there's no need to say goodbye yet, or already be sad about the future; after all, there's a good chance we'll never-” he was about to say “-get out of these mountains alive,” but thought better of it: “-manage to defeat Team Plasma.”
“I know.” Octa nodded. “But now I know that even if we are victorious, and all we hope comes true, I shall still have to suffer this loss.”
Toxica nodded. “We'll miss you, Boreas.”
The valley slowly turned south, and suddenly, as he turned about a mountain, he saw a sight so lovely he forgot everything else: green grass deep down below in the vale. The Pokémon League stood here, in a valley protected from the elements by tall mountains all around, and heated and lighted by human ingenuity. He cried out in joy, and at that moment an intense light shone into his eye as a small sliver of the Sun rose above the far southern horizon, easily brighter than anything he'd seen in ages. The light seemed to shine through him, illuminating both his heart and his mind brightly.
“The Sun...” gasped Toxica as the others caught up to Boreas.
It was silent again for a while, until Lucius said: “More importantly, the League!” he gave Boreas a friendly stomp. “Haha, you did it, pup! I guess you're good for something!”
“Good old Lucius,” chuckled Selene, “still unable to pat someone on the back without kicking them in the loins at the same time.”
“Shut up, you crazy bird,” said Lucius happily. “C'mon, let's get down there!”
Re: The Surprising Adventures of a Glaceon in Unova (Chapter 63 is up!)
Chapter Sixty-Four: On the Eve of Battle
Boreas woke up feeling warm, fed, comfortable, and happy for the first time in ages. Slowly opening his eyes, he found he was in a soft bed in a pokécenter, under thick blankets. In his arms lay Aqua, sleeping peacefully and snoring softly. As he snuggled up to her, he recalled how he'd got here. Their slow, laboured descent down the northern side of the Pokémon League valley, how they had finally reached their destination after five months on Victory Road, feeling more dead than alive, how they had been taken to the pokécenter quickly and given the greatest meal they'd ever eaten – though that likely had more to do with their famished stomachs than the true quality of the food. Finally they had been taken to this room, put in their beds, and fallen into a deep, careless sleep. Or at least Boreas had after sneaking out of his own bed and into Aqua's.
That they had reached the League, without losing anyone, felt better even than the soft bed and the sweet girl in his arms. He had led his friends through uncharted paths over the Black Mountains and against all odds they had made it, if only by a hair's breadth. The sight of the mountain had kept them going, but while hope could nourish their minds it couldn't nourish their bodies, and even the most determined mind will eventually find a physical limit its body can't go past. They had come dangerously close to that limit, and even now Boreas' body still felt weak and achy, if less so than the day before.
Boreas didn't have to worry any more that Aqua might starve soon, though when he felt her stomach he noticed her ribs still stuck out far too much. That and the weakness he felt himself made him realise they were in no condition at all to fight, regardless of whether N had reached the League as well.
But had he? Boreas didn't even know that, as they had only had thought for food, warmth, and rest yesterday. Or was it before that? They had all been tired enough to sleep through a whole day, easily. He'd seen trainers and their pokémon work together in the pokécenter, so N probably wasn't Champion yet. Maybe he hadn't made it out of Victory Road? That would be a very bad thing, oddly enough, as it removed the only reasonably easy chance they had at beating Team Plasma.
Aqua suddenly began cuddling him back, and mumbled sleepily in a soft voice that made Boreas' heart beat faster: “Hmm, Boreas... What're you doing to my belly?”
With a blush, Boreas stopped rubbing and petting her stomach, which he had subconsciously continued doing. “Er... Sorry.”
Slowly opening two deep black eyes, Aqua giggled. “You don't have to stop, it felt quite nice. You may rub my belly any time... Though I'd also like to fill it at some point, I'm hungry...”
Boreas winked and resumed the rubbing. “Alright, then. Come to think of it, I'm quite hungry too. Maybe we should try to find some breakfast... Or whatever meal it is at this time of the day.”
“Hmm... Later... Right now, I just want to lie here and snuggle you...”
“I would be happy to,” said Boreas truthfully. “I don't think I've felt this well in a long time...”
“Neither have I...” flirted Aqua as she gently nuzzled his fur. “But maybe after breakfast, we'll have regained enough energy to do things that are even more fun than just snuggling, so we can feel even better?”
“I thought you didn't want to get breakfast,” chuckled Boreas, blushing.
“Well, I thought I didn't... But now that I have something more to look forward to, maybe I do...”
“Well,” giggled Boreas, “I've got an idea: I'll get up real quickly and get us breakfast as fast as I can. I'll come back, dive back into bed with you, and we'll eat it. And then... Well, we'll see what happens next.”
“Can't wait to find out.” Aqua winked as Boreas got up quickly. He didn't stand quite stable, but it was no problem. He quickly left the hospital ward, almost skipping. Things had gone so much better than he had ever expected. The journey had been incredibly long and hard, but in the end he had led his friends to the safety of the League. His greatest hope had thus come true, and now he was well-rested, warm, and about to get another meal. Not just that, but he had just snuggled with Aqua without hunger or the fear of death clouding their moods, and was probably about to get lucky too. In short, he was full of glee, and as he skipped through the pokécenter, he wondered why he would ever need to feel concern or unhappiness again.
“Attention, challenger N's battle with Shauntal of the Elite Four is about to begin. Head to the holographic hall to watch it live!”
“Oh,” said Boreas, “I guess that's why.”
As Boreas recovered over the next few days, he explored the League. It was in a wide valley between the mountains, protected from the storms and blizzards by them, and warmed up more by human ingenuity. The southern half of the valley was the public part of the League, which was essentially a town full of trainers. There was the pokécenter, but also the train station, a market, various training facilities, houses for those who lived there, and more. At the moment, it also served as a refuge for anyone who didn't want their pokémon taken from them, as one of the last free places in Unova. The northern half of the League was inaccessible to anyone other than the Elite Four, the Champion, and their challengers, so Boreas didn't know much about it. It had five towers; a large one in the middle and four smaller ones around it coloured black, purple, dark red, and blue; and there seemed to be other facilities there as well. The tops of the towers would sometimes be lit by the Sun at day, while the rest of the valley had only artificial lights then.
The first few days they were slowly recovering from their trial, glad they had survived and finally reached the League as they regaining their strength. Yet they were also reminded now that the journey was never the true challenge: it still lay ahead of them. N had arrived two weeks before them. Apparently he had managed to find a deep path through the caves, and it had landed him on a different pass. After a journey almost as long as Black's, he had finally arrived at the League, coming from the west. No-one, human or pokémon, was allowed to be present at a Pokémon League battle they weren't part of, but several 3D cameras across the room would record the battle and broadcast it as a spectacular hologram in a great dome called the holographic hall.
The news that trickled in from south painted a grim picture: Unova, other than the League, was now completely in Plasma's hands. It sounded like a grim, grey land where only Team Plasma had pokémon and any dissension was punished severely. Plasma's victory was nearly complete. Zekrom's force of will was strong enough to influence many people, and by now Plasma was popular enough that they probably didn't even need N to become Champion. Boreas wondered if defeating him would make any difference, even if they could do it. N was the official king of Team Plasma, but by now the Seven Sages were as good as kings of Unova. The Gym Leaders all seemed to have disappeared, and Black was unable to get any news of Bianca, Cheren, or White.
N had already beaten three of the Elite Four by the time Boreas was well enough to leave the pokécenter. He went to the holographic hall with Aqua to watch his final battle, against a master of psychic pokémon named Caitlin. The hologram was incredible, as if the battle took place right in the dome. This way people could watch the battles, despite not being allowed into the northern half of the League.
Caitlin's pokémon fought gracefully and elegantly, yet it was clear there was tremendous power in them. Boreas had only once fought a powerful psychic type, and it was a very unpleasant memory, and had allowed Diego to impersonate his brother. He was no stranger to deceit and trickery himself, and so he already knew the power of manipulating an opponent's mind, but to do it directly, simply reaching into it and changing things? That was a terrifyingly powerful gift, one that Boreas wished he wouldn't have to fight soon.
But it seemed likely he would. While at first Caitlin seemed to be gaining the upper hand, that changed when it was Diego's turn to fight. Mysterious, dark powers took down two of Caitlin's pokémon. Boreas didn't know to what extent the Zoroark's powers were illusions and what part of them was real, but he could easily tell Diego was an even more dangerous opponent than ever before. He was also reminded of what he had tried to do to him the day they allied and blushed with shame. The troubles on Victory Road had allowed him to repress the memory for a while, but now he knew he would have to deal with it somehow. He needed to tell Aqua what the Glaceon she loved was really like, but he was too ashamed to do it. He was scared she'd get angry at him, or even dump him. So he tried to focus on the battle instead.
Diego was eventually defeated by a Bronzong, and N replaced him with Zekrom, his sole remaining pokémon. Even though it was merely holographic and the real Zekrom was far away in Caitlin's tower, Boreas still felt a surge of passion for pokémon liberation and wished to be free from Black, but quickly shook it off. The effect was much greater on the long-haired, princess-like Caitlin and her pokémon, though, who were much nearer. They were clearly confused and in doubt. Then Zekrom attacked.
Boreas had never seen anything like it. He had been too distracted by his own enemies and observing Diego when they had met in the Black Mountains to pay attention to the battle between Zekrom and Hydreigon, but now he could just watch it battle. It was awe-inspiring and terrifying. Intense bolts of lighting flashed with fierce blue light that put the Sun to shame. Huge meteors of fire and lightning struck and rocked the entire tower. Boreas felt their power course through his veins, though this was no more than a hologram. Everyone watching it was silent with awe.
“Zekrom prese-” Boreas began, before correcting himself: “Kyogre preserve us...”
He hadn't fully realised until now what it meant for a legendary pokémon to be on N's side. Now that he did, he saw the outcome of this battle immediately, and knew tomorrow's battle with Alder was no more than a formality: N would become Champion, there was no doubt about it. And then he and Zekrom would wield an almost invincible power over the hearts and minds of everyone in Unova.
Octa walked to the holographic hall with Toxica. They hadn't been released from the pokécenter yet the day before, so they only had the accounts of Boreas and Aqua to rely on for the strength of N's team. They wanted to watch his final battle with Alder, both to cheer the Champion on, though he couldn't hear them of course, and to observe their eventual opponent if N did win.
“Octa?” Toxica asked worriedly. “Do you think Boreas is right? Do you think Alder doesn't stand any chance against Zekrom?”
Octa paused. “'Tis a good question, my darling. One I do not yet know the answer of. However, I do know Alder is a very powerful trainer; 'tis evident from his position as Champion. Recall his prowess in the battles of Dragonspiral Tower and Nacrene City. Zekrom may be a legendary pokémon, but it's still a pokémon. It can be defeated, I am certain of it, and if Alder can't do it, we'll see what we can do. Darkness shan't fall.”
To his delight and slight embarrassment, Toxica hugged him and gave him a kiss. “You're right, it's just-”
“Keep your dirty hands off the descendants of Equinox the Great, Vileplume, or darkness shall fall for you sooner than you think,” spoke a voice icily.
Octa turned in shock, letting Toxica go, and saw an angry-looking Serperior whose body was streaked with several bands of purple. “Hey, who do you think you are, you stuck-up git?!” snapped Toxica angrily, to Octa's shame.
“Quiet, Vileplume; do not speak to your betters in such manner,” sneered the Serperior.
Octa felt caught between two fires as two of those he loved spoke to each other like that. So he tried to pretend it didn't happen. “Gaius, my dear brother! What a delight to see you again, but what are you doing here?”
Gaius frowned in contempt. “I could ask you the same, brother. Why are you shaming yourself in public with this common hag when you could have been wed to the fair Aurora Invicta of the house of Quintillus?”
“Hey, who-” Toxica began.
“Brother,” said Octa sternly, “this is the time nor the place to discuss my private life. I know you have been in opposition of my choice-”
“In opposition? My dear brother, don't you see opposition to it is the only sensible stance? How could you forsake five centuries of our house's history by choosing this hag over the fair Aurora Invicta? Selfishly deny your descendants the noble ancestry you have? I can barely believe you could do such a thing. And I want you to know that while you somehow got our father to support you, as well as our foolish younger siblings, I shall ever guard the future of our house, as well as yourself, both now and when I inevitably succeed Lord Publius as our leader.”
“Hi there, Octa, Toxica,” said Boreas, who had just arrived too. “Who's this big girl's blouse, then?”
Octa winced at the untimely arrival and rude remark of Boreas, feeling very much trapped between Scylla and Charibdis. Fortunately his brother scowled and said: “So this is the kind of company you keep nowadays? Plebeian Vileplumes and scruffy-looking Glaceons who insult your family; how the mighty have fallen. I shall take my leave now; come talk to me without this rabble some time.” He turned and slithered away.
“Good riddance,” spat Boreas. “What a windbag.”
Octa felt quite angry hearing his brother talked about like that. “Be quiet and do not insult my brother.”
“Yes,” Octa explained with annoyance, “that was my older brother, Gaius Julius the fourth of the house of Equinox you just insulted.”
“He deserved it, bossing you around and insulting Toxica. Is your whole family like that?”
“No,” said Toxica, “not all of them. His other siblings are pretty nice. It's just Gaius who has a thorny stick up his-”
Octa interrupted angrily. “I forbid you both to talk of my family like that! For your information, Gaius is noble, wise, cunning, and brave. He simply does not support our union, and got quite angry seeing us osculate in public, making him express himself far less tactful than he would otherwise.”
“That's an understatement,” muttered Toxica. “But I still don't like 'im. And he doesn't like me either.”
“Indeed, he doesn't. And he shall like you far less after this situation, which is a problem. You see, he is a very influential member of my house; so much, in fact, that he will most likely succeed my father as our leader. Therefore, you have made a grave mistake by earning his scorn, as it will surely spread to others as well.”
“Oh...” said Toxica. “I didn't know that.”
“I know you didn't,” sighed Octa. “But understand that if you ever wish to become a lady of the house of Equinox, you shall have to learn how things work in it. For if you do not fall into grace with my house, they shan't ever condone our union, in which case I would have to leave the family... I implore you, do not make me do that. 'Tis a prospect that fills me with dread.”
“Sorry,” said Toxica sadly, “I know I'll need to impress your family. I really-”
“Attention, challenger N's battle with Champion Alder is about to begin. Head to the holographic hall to watch it live!”
“Come on,” said Boreas. “We've wasted enough time with this, let's watch the battle to see what'll happen next.”
Silence hung heavily after the Volcarona crash-landed into the floor and didn't get up again, its glow quickly dimming. None spoke as they let the realisation that N had won and was now the Champion sink in. Alder too was flabbergasted. Finally, N spoke:
“Today, a new era begins as I, N, become the final Champion of Unova! The final trainers will release their pokémon during my time as Champion as I command it, and then I will at last disband the Pokémon League, and the very concept of the Championship.”
But Alder said: “Please, do anything but that! You can't end the friendships between humans and pokémon, you will destroy many beautiful things if you do! I know you are a good person, but you are also a very deluded one. Look at what Team Plasma has done and continues to do, and compare it with all the good trainers have done! You are fighting the wrong battle, N.”
“Don't speak,” said N calmly. “We fought to test our ideals, and mine won. You have no right to speak, as you've been proven wrong.”
“I didn't fight to test my ideals, but to protect them! You can't prove an idea simply by fighting for it, you only prove to be more powerful that way. An idea's strength doesn't translate into physical strength! Evil can be more powerful than good.”
N, for the first time Boreas knew him, wavered. “I... Maybe...”
But then Diego spoke. “He's lying, like humans usually do. A good ideal gives strength, while evil only tears it down. That's why Zekrom is so powerful: because it fights for what is right. And that is why you won. And now, the pathetic human is trying to twist your mind with his lies since he couldn't win properly.”
N nodded. “You're right!”
An earthquake struck. The hall shook and panic erupted. “A mountain!” someone screamed from outside. “A new mountain is rising!”
As Boreas rushed outside, he saw it wasn't a mountain, though its size was almost as impressive. Tower after huge tower of obsidian black stone erupted from the ground, rising up rapidly as if by magic to the north of the League. But not just there: dark towers, walls, and fortresses rose to the east and west of the five towers of the League, which now seemed small and insignificant by comparison, enveloping them like a hawk about to devour its prey. The Earth shook, and small avalanches of snow and rock rolled down the slopes of the mountains around the League. Clouds of dust hung around the base of the mighty fortress that had risen from the ground. Flagpoles rose from the tops of the towers, and unfurled to show the banner of Team Plasma. When the castle had stopped rising, and the Earth stopped shaking, bridges opened from several towers, bridges that thrust towards the Champion's tower, touching its highest floor. There was a phenomenal cracking sound, and then tiny figures moved on one of the bridges. Boreas rushed back inside.
The Champion's Room was devastated: three bridges had broken through the walls, making a mess of rubble inside. Alder looked as flabbergasted as everyone else, and even N looked surprised. Diego, however, didn't.
“What- what is going on?” Alder worded the question in everyone's minds.
At that moment, the Seven Sages entered the room via the bridge. “Congratulations, N,” spoke Ghetsis. “You've proven our ideals of pokémon liberation by becoming the Champion! But since you are very different from the corrupt former Champions, you require a different chamber than this one. Follow me, my lord, to your throne room, from where you and Zekrom will rule Unova.”
“The castle...” N gasped. “I had no idea it could do that...”
“It only needed to be underground for as long as Team Plasma was. Now that we're victorious, it shall stand in the place of the outdated League as a testament to the power of our dreams.”
N spoke aloud to nobody in particular: “Black, I know you're watching this. You heard Ghetsis: I'll be in my throne room in Team Plasma's Castle, where I belong. Only you can defeat me now, and that is highly unlikely. But you'll try anyway, that's what you're a hero for. So come to my throne room; I will command Team Plasma you are to be let into the Castle unharmed. And then we will fight like the heroes of old and once and for all determine whether truth or ideals is more powerful.”
With N as the Champion, Zekrom's power somehow seemed increased greatly. Boreas now felt the wish for liberation all the time, as did other pokémon, while humans felt inclined to release their pokémon all over Unova. It needed to be stopped, or soon there would be no trainers left. But they couldn't battle N right away. First they needed to recover from their ordeal on Victory Road, which took them almost two weeks.
They trained a lot during this time, mainly having training fights against each other. To change things up and prepare better they had practice fights against different opponents, except for Boreas against Aqua. This exception was because their training matches always seemed to turn into tongue wrestling matches instead. While they both protested they were training well and didn't mind having a bit of fun during training, Octa snidely pointed out that since neither of them were ghost-types, they wouldn't be using their tongues in combat, and were therefore better off training against someone they wouldn't end up snogging with. Octa found it quite annoying: while he could understand their love for each other was strong, surely there was such a thing as self-control?
Black had asked for permission to enter the Champion's tower and challenge N directly, since it was the only way into the Castle that could be found. This request had been passed on to the Elite Four, who refused it. So he had requested it again, with a whole series of powerful arguments, but again the Elite Four refused, despite the huge fortress now enveloping their League and Plasma ruling Unova.
One day, Black met with Alder, and had the opportunity to ask him why they would refuse when it was.
“I don't know,” said the former Champion, who looked down on his luck and shocked at his defeat several days before. “And I can't ask them either, as I'm no longer allowed in the League, being the ex-Champion. The only way I could get there would be by challenging, but I'm not allowed to since I didn't get here through Victory Road.”
“So what you're saying is, I'll have to ask them myself when I battle them.”
“That's right, I'm afraid...” sighed Alder. “I hope it's just of devotion to their duty as Elite Four; but I just don't know them well enough to be sure...”
“What are they like?”
“I never got along with them very well... And I was usually away from the League travelling. They're very powerful trainers, quite close to my own skill. It's going to be very hard to defeat them. You battle one of them each day, and then you have the rest of that day to recover and get ready for the next battle. Lose against any of them, and your challenge is over immediately. You fight Grimsley, master of the dark-type, on the first day; then Shauntal who masters the ghost-type; Marshall the fighting-type master; and finally you'll have to battle the leader of the Elite Four, Caitlin the psychic-master. Only then can you challenge N...”
“It'll be tough...” said Black.
“I know it'll be tough, that's what it's supposed to be! But you're the only hope we have to defeat N... I'll help you train, because if you lose...”
Octa met with Gaius in private soon after N had become the new Champion. It turned out he had come to the League with various other members of the family to observe Octa's battles. Octa was delighted to hear news from home: things were as well as they could be, with no more attacks on their home. This was because the humans of Crimson Breeders had made an arrangement with Plasma: they gave up the breeding and left the pokémon to their own, and in turn Team Plasma would let the pokémon be as well. While it meant their home was safe for as long as Plasma kept its promise, it also felt a bit too much like a surrender for most of the Equinoctes, including Octa. He was happy his family was well, but on a certain level he would have preferred to have heard about their glorious deaths as they defended their ancestral home until the bitter end.
Gaius had also come to dissuade Octa from his relationship with Toxica, and Octa was far less happy about this. While he apologised for some of the words he'd used in anger, he still asked his brother to reconsider his love for Toxica several times. Octa refused, of course, yet he was beginning to wonder if his family wasn't right in discouraging his dalliance with her. Until now, he had believed pursuing a relationship with her and thus breaking his house's rules had been the right thing to do, ever since she and Boreas had convinced him to do so. But in the light of his cowardice on Victory Road, he began to wonder if it wasn't part of a larger failure of character of his. Perhaps he wasn't a proper descendant of Equinox the great, at least, not in mind; he knew of course for certain that he descended from Equinox, biologically speaking. But it was said there's a rotten Leppa in every basket; perhaps he was the one in the house of Equinox?
He could try and excuse his cowardice by trying to convince himself he had been following Boreas on the road the Glaceon had chosen; when he gave up, it was therefore logical to do the same, to assume that if Boreas couldn't find the way, no-one could. But he knew it was a worthless excuse: his friend was just a common Glaceon, brave and intelligent though he was. Octa, on the other hand, was a descendant of the great Equinox: in a time of despair he should've been better than to accept defeat; he should have led them on instead, as his ancestors would have. The only reason he was even alive at all was the courage of Selene, of all people.
Ever since that horrible moment, when his courage and noble blood had failed him when he needed them the most, he had been full of self-doubt. He had always believed the blood of his ancestors that ran through his veins meant he was like them. It was only through Boreas' renewed determination and his never-failing friendship that Octa had continued after that. And now, whenever he talked to Gaius, the shameful, nagging knowledge that he was far less noble than his brother gnawed on him. Perhaps he had just inherited the wrong genes from his ancestors; or perhaps he had the right genes, but simply didn't have the valour of his ancestors. The approaching battles against the Elite Four and N actually frightened him now, since he could easily lose them and fail all of Unova, if he could fail his own blood.
He could of course tell Gaius about it and announce his decision to leave the family, unworthy as he was. But he realised there was a better way: he could try to act like a true descendant of Equinox from now on, try to banish the unworthy cowardice from his veins. But, he realised, it would mean breaking up with Toxica to be truly like an Equinox. Perhaps Aurora Invicta was still willing to consider marriage to him. She would make a far better wife to him than Toxica, after all: she was incredibly beautiful, very noble and graceful, clever, kind, everything. She was the ideal partner to him, he reasoned, so it only made sense. So why was his heart objecting so strongly to it?
Re: The Surprising Adventures of a Glaceon in Unova (Chapter 64 is up!)
Chapter Sixty-Five: Light and Darkness
The day of their challenge came rapidly. It seemed like one moment they had days of training left, but the next moment it suddenly was the evening before their first battle. No-one spoke much, tense as they all were. Every hour that passed on the final day went far too quick. There were twenty hours left... Then suddenly only seventeen, sixteen, fourteen, eleven, ten, nine hours left. After a night of very little sleep it was time to begin their challenge. Octa felt like his blood had frozen, his heart having to pound heavily to make it circulate at all. It felt like his chloroplasts didn't process any light, frozen with dread.
After having his badges checked a second time, Black was admitted into the northern half of the League. It was very quiet here as they left behind the modern architecture of the southern parts of the League and approached the five towers, while Team Plasma's castle enveloped them more and more. All five of the towers were part of the same building, a huge round, open complex supported by enormous columns. Once they were inside Octa was awed by the magnificence, and yet the simplicity of the great hall. There were four staircases leading to the towers, and a single statue in the middle of the hall. There were words engraved upon it:
'Five great warriors form this Pokémon League. To the north-west is one who has mastered the dark-type. To the south-west is one who does not fear the ghost-type. To the south-east is one who channels the power of the fighting-type. To the north-east is one who knows the mind of the psychic-type. One who can defeat these warriors with one's courage and wisdom shall be led to the summit, where the Champion awaits.'
They took the stairs at the back of the hall to their left, leaving the great hall. The light dimmed soon as they climbed into Grimsley's tower, until they were in utter darkness. The stairs ended and they carefully took a few more steps forward when a bright, fiery light enveloped them and the ground started moving at the same time. Most of them lost their balance and fell, but quickly recovered. They were on a crimson conveyor belt that was covered in red carpet. It went up and around a bend, and a torch lit as they passed it. The conveyor belt moved them up and around, and more torches lit as they passed. They saw more of Grimsley's tower as they got higher and the light increased: it was a gorgeous, ornate room that reminded Octa both of home and an 18th century theatre. It was clearly decorated by a man with style.
The conveyor belt took them higher and higher, and after two large circles they had reached a platform. A gigantic chandelier above flared up and bathed the tower in orange light. There was a black sofa on the other side of the platform, and on it the pokémon master himself sat, looking proud and gentlemanly, yet at the same time bored and slightly lazy, slouching a little. He had blue hair with two large spikes of it pointing up above each ear, and wore neat black and red clothing. He had a long yellow scarf that hung onto the ground.
“You?!” exclaimed Black. “What did you do to Grimsley?!”
Sly laughed. “If it isn't Black from Nuvema Town! I had never expected to see you here. But to answer your question: you're looking at him.”
“No, I'm not,” said Black sourly. “I'm looking at Sly, a petty thief and kleptomaniac from Nacrene City.”
“It's true,” chuckled Sly, “I did that a while ago, it was quite funny. But allow me to reintroduce myself: my name is Grimsley, and Grimsley means me.”
“We're supposed to believe Grimsley of the Elite Four is some common thief?” scoffed Octa.
“Not a common one!” Grimsley pointed out, clearly understanding him. “A master thief, if you please. Because I make sure I am a master in everything I do, and what I do is whatever is fun. It's important to master the cards you hold in your hand. Master thief Grimsley, master gambler, pokémon master, master of the dark-type.”
“And master liar,” said Black. “The game is up, Sly. Where is the real Grimsley?”
“I already told you. I wouldn't be here if I wasn't him. And you wouldn't be here if you hadn't challenged us. So you have a simple choice: fight me or surrender.”
“Fine then, I'll believe you're Grimsley. For now. But if you are: why did you stop me from battling N? Surely you must see Plasma is a threat?”
“Not to me,” boasted Grimsley. “They can't steal my pokémon, so why would they be a threat to me? Besides, it's more fun to test your prowess in battle first. That's my right as the first member of the Elite Four.”
“Maybe it is, but what about all the trainers who have been separated from their pokémon, or even killed, because of Team Plasma?”
“What about them?” Grimsley shrugged. “Bad luck. They're not my concern.”
“I'm going to battle you. Now! While I'd rather fight properly, the League forces me to battle according to certain rules. So we'll each use six pokémon, one at a time, there will be no substitutions, no items, and no fighting when a pokémon is no longer fit for battle. Honchkrow, begin!”
“You have a Honchkrow too, huh?” laughed Black. “Selene, show it you're best!”
Selene flew up to meet the Honchkrow as it soared through the air. They both floated for a moment, then Grimsley's Honchkrow suddenly made a viciously sharp downward turn and loop, swooping by Selene like a black, feathered lightning bolt. She fell down in a spiral and hit the ground. The others gasped in shock as Grimsley laughed. “You're fighting the Elite Four now, Black! The time for playing games is over.”
“That was a cheap shot!” snarled Aqua as she rushed forward. “But I'm not dropping my guard around you!”
The Honchkrow laughed as it made a quick turn to dodge a beam of water. “Cheap shots are what dark-types are all about, you silly girl. Stay in the light if the dark scares you!”
Octa decided not to point out her boyfriend used cheap shots all the time to great effect. He wondered whether she really did care for Selene and want them to win or was just pretending. Though Boreas' assurance she was on their side was a strong argument against it, he still bore some suspicion; while Boreas was the best friend he had ever had, he had been known to be wrong. He dearly hoped the Glaceon was right about Aqua, though, as the thought of his dear friend having to go through her betrayal was even more dreadful than the fear his family might expel him.
That thought was a surprise to Octa, but he realised it was true: he really had come to care more for Boreas than for his family, or possibly even for Toxica. Their friendship had come a very long way since Octa had rescued a little Eevee cub.
A loud clanging noise awoke him from thought: Aqua had finally hit the Honchkrow, along with the chandelier. Fortunately the chandelier didn't shatter or fall down, but the Honchkrow wasn't so lucky. A wave of water formed around Aqua and slammed into her enemy as she pounced it. She yelped when the Honchkrow stabbed her with its sharp beak, but it couldn't fly away, heavy with water, and was defeated soon.
Grimsley laughed as he switched out for a Liepard. “Not bad, it seems you do have some strength! This will be fun.”
As the Liepard appeared it made a little bow, saluting Aqua. The Vaporeon returned the gesture, and Liepard immediately flew at her, its claws stretched out, giving her eight deep red cuts into her side.
“Hey!” Boreas shouted angrily. “Aqua'll get you for that!”
Aqua reacted with similar anger and tried to capture her opponent in jets of boiling water. Octa thought Liepards were quite weak pokémon, but this one clearly wasn't: it nimbly dodged Aqua's attacks and, despite her own speed, occasionally clawed her. Boreas cheered her on, and Octa saw the completely smitten look on his friend's face. It would shatter him if she turned out to be a traitor. Octa sighed as she managed to inflict some damage on the Liepard with a beam of water. Things had been so much easier before she had suddenly dropped into Boreas' life nearly a year ago. Though it was great to see his friend so happy with her, it was also painful to see him hurt, and occasionally a little annoying how irrational it made him act and how much time he spent with her. Cold fury filled Octa's mind. If Aqua was just using Boreas to spy on them, if she was about to hurt the Glaceon so terribly... Lucius would be the least of her problems.
Octa became aware he had been staring angrily at Aqua only a moment after she felt his eyes burning with the stare his family had perfected so long ago. She succumbed to a nearly irresistible urge to turn around and look him in the eyes, and though Octa realised his mistake and quickly looked elsewhere, the momentary distraction was all the Liepard needed. Aqua screamed with pain as its claws dug into her. Her gleaming blue fur was rapidly stained with red blood.
“You'll pay for hurting her!” roared Boreas.
But Black said: “No! This is not the time to get angry, someone else switch in instead; Toxica, you go!”
But Boreas wasn't about to take no for an answer. Octa immediately wrapped around the advancing Glaceon, blocking his view as well so he wouldn't be able to use his ice attacks. “Calm down, my dear fellow! This is an official battle, we'll be disqualified if you and Toxica both switch in!”
Boreas squirmed against his grip. “Then I'll fight, that Liepard hurt Aqua!”
Octa sighed, having experienced this a bit too often with his hot-blooded friend. “Calm down, my dear fellow, Toxica is already fighting. If she retreats, we'll be another pokémon behind. And what's more: you're in no mood to fight. It's daft to fight with your mind clouded with anger in any case, but against a dark-type? Being a trickster yourself, you should realise just how stupid that is.”
That seemed to get through to him. “If I let you go, will you do something idiotic?” asked Octa.
“No,” sighed Boreas, “I suppose you're right. I'll go take care of Aqua instead, I guess.”
Octa let go of his friend and watched Toxica fight. To his shock she already had large cuts in her flower as well as in her body, leaking saps and blood. But not all was lost, as her flower was brimming with energy absorbed from the light. If she could make the Liepard stand still for a moment...
Toxica threw small Energy Balls from her hands. Octa wondered how much they would hurt Liepard even if she managed to hit it, but then realised they weren't meant for hitting, but for chasing: Liepard had been content to effortlessly dodge the Energy Balls, making Toxica waste her energy, but hadn't realised it had reached the platform's edge. It was too agile to just fall off the edge when it dodged and found no ground under one of its feet, of course, but it was still unbalanced for a moment. Toxica immediately aimed her flower at it, and Octa shut his eyes. His eyelids lit up bright orange seen from inside and he sighed in delight at the sudden influx of light to his chloroplasts. It was over a moment later, and Octa opened his eyes to see the Liepard completely scorched by Toxica's Solarbeam and everyone else rubbing their eyes. He applauded and cheered. “Splendid, my darling, simply splendid!”
She smiled happily at him, though he could see her weariness as well; Solarbeam was a very exhausting move. She winked, and Octa felt his heart beat in his chest and his leaves curl. It was with pain he remembered he was planning to break up with her. He couldn't bear to look her in the eyes.
“Good job, that's my two weakest down. Now let's see what you can do against Drapion!”
Octa's hope sank into his tail as he saw a monstrous purple scorpion appear. It wasn't much bigger than Toxica, but it had a terrifying presence that made it seem far larger. Octa felt an almost instinctive rush to draw his blade and jump between Toxica and the monster. He slithered a bit forward and put his hand on his blade before he halted himself. He winced in horror as Drapion's teeth burst into flame and it tried to bite Toxica. She jumped back but it swung its tail at her, slamming hard into one of her petals and piercing it. A noxious green fluid spread there. Octa could hardly restrain himself.
“Not so easy, is it?” said Boreas unhappily. Octa merely nodded, wincing at the effect it had on Toxica. She tried valiantly to fight back, but her attacks were useless and she was clearly hurt badly by the poison. Drapion made its final strike with its claws, and Toxica was defeated. Octa wanted to step in to defeat the Drapion, but as a grass-type he recognised he stood little chance against it. It was Lucius' turn instead as Octa took care of Toxica.
He jumped into the fray, spitting waves of fire that made an uncontrollable shiver run over Octa's spine. He suppressed the rest of his instinctive fear for fire, as he didn't want to give Lucius the silly idea he was scared of him. He was the single person on the team Octa just didn't like, after all. Though Selene could be rather annoying, Lucius was simply an unpleasant, uncivilised git; though Octa dearly hoped he could defeat Drapion now. He couldn't understand that Boreas seemed to almost like Lucius at times. But he supposed Boreas was more like him than Octa himself was; both lacking a certain respect. But while Boreas was shrewd and kind, Lucius was a simpleton lacking all grace.
Drapion jumped at Lucius, its pincers snapping at his head and neck, but the Houndoom jumped aside rapidly and tried to respond with a Flamethrower. Drapion swung its tail as it missed, impacting Lucius hard with a triumphant growl. Lucius yelped in pain as his shoulder was wounded and dug his teeth deep into the tail. Bleeding heavily, the Drapion tried to smash Lucius with one of its claws, only to find the fire-type's paws holding it back with similarly great strength while he belched a great torrent of fire right into the scorpion's face. A high-pitched squeal like a pig being roasted alive came from the Drapion as it let go of Lucius and fell down.
Lucius howled triumphantly, his mouth still running with the Drapion's blue blood and his poisoned shoulder with his own red blood. “Now who's the stronger dark-type, punk?!” he roared as Black and Boreas cheered. Octa found himself softly applauding Lucius. After all it had been quite impressive.
Octa realised the Drapion was only acting just too late, at the precise moment it knocked Lucius out from behind. “I am,” it said in a voice like gravel scraping over metal.
Octa winced. “Oh dear... My dear fellow, don't lose your temper; we cannot afford to lose another fight...”
Boreas nodded as he grimly stepped forward to face the burnt and bleeding Drapion. Only two of them remaining against four powerful enemies... Octa pondered that their challenge could be over with this very first battle. Black was biting his fingernails nervously. “Oof...” muttered Aqua, waking up again. “How are we doing? Any better than I am personally?”
Lucius had already wounded Drapion pretty badly, and so Boreas didn't have a very difficult first fight. It clumsily staggered towards him, and took only a few Ice Beams to be defeated. Boreas didn't let his eyes leave the fallen Drapion until Grimsley returned it to its pokéball.
“Slightly better now... Three of them left contra two of us.”
Grimsley threw a pokéball, and out came a bipedal lizard whose outer skin hung around its hips like baggy pants. It had a flat face with a permanently stupid expression that put Octa at ease. “Oh, it's only a Scrafty. Boreas can handle a dimwitted creature like that.”
“Don't you think that's a little arrogant?” asked Aqua snidely.
“I hardly think so; methinks Boreas is quite a capable Glaceon. Do you not have confidence in his ability?”
The battle between them began with Boreas firing two Ice Beams at Scrafty, but the lizard nimbly ducked under them and rapidly ran at Boreas on all fours, its head aimed at the Glaceon like a battering ram. He couldn't get out of the way quite fast enough and was hit in the shoulder, launching the fox off his feet, spinning rapidly. It wasn't all bad, though, since Boreas had the wits to create cold around him as he spun through the air, instantly making a powerful, rapidly rotating storm that threw Scrafty away. Both combatants landed poorly, needing a moment to recover from it.
“Of course I do,” said Aqua worriedly. “But it's arrogant to assume the Scrafty is stupid because its face is...”
Octa said nothing, unwilling to admit his mistake to her. Boreas raised himself back on three legs with a pained expression, while Scrafty got up a bit more nimbly and ran at him quickly. Boreas immediately fired an Ice Beam upwards, to the chandelier, hitting the chain that held it up. Octa expected the huge glass chandelier to drop and crush the charging Scrafty, but it just hung there. Then Octa realised why: since metal contained no water, it didn't snap-freeze like many other substances. It would get brittle due to the electrons giving it its elasticity settling down, but it was still as strong...
Boreas discovered this bit of physics in the form of a massive punch heading his way. Octa saw him try to stop it with his Frost Concussion, but the Brick Break wasn't stopped or delayed but hit him very hard, right in the face. Octa winced and Aqua gasped as Boreas made a half somersault from the force of the punch, landing on his back, seemingly defeated. But somehow he rolled out of the way of a finishing kick, blasted an Ice Beam right into his foe's face and, as the lizard howled out in pain and grasped his face, fired another one at his stomach.
Then however it seemed Boreas had to rest after the powerful punch into his face, and this gave Scrafty time to recover as well. They were on their feet again at the same time, though Boreas' bruised face looked worse than Scrafty's frostbitten one. Boreas enveloped himself in a snowstorm and ran at the lizard, but at the very same moment Scrafty jumped high into the air, far too high ever to hit Boreas. Boreas skidded to a halt and tried to run back, away from the chandelier: Scrafty jumped right by the frozen part of the chain holding it up and punched the brittle metal.
The chandelier fell terrifyingly in what almost seemed to be slow-motion. Boreas' desperate scrambling away was futile, the chandelier fell too fast. Octa let out a brief scream of horror for his friend's impending doom descending upon him in that special way only a huge glass chandelier can. Only Black's quick reaction saved Boreas, as he disappeared just before the chandelier crashed into the ground like a meteorite striking the Earth. It shattered into a million pieces of glass flying everywhere with a tremendous roar. Octa found a thin film of water protecting him and the others, stopping some of the glass and slowing the rest of it down to safer speeds. He gratefully nodded to Aqua.
Boreas reappeared looking very shocked. “Outwitted by a fighting-type...” he gasped.
“And nearly killed,” Octa added with equal shock. “But do not forget 'tis a dark-type as well. I made the mistake of underestimating it; a mistake I shall not readily make again.” Which is why I know the odds of my victory are smaller than an atom suffering from dwarf-growth.
He slithered forward and used two vines to sweep away the shards ahead of him. He regretted his lack of legs now, realising this would be far easier as a Servine. Scrafty had not just defeated Boreas: he had made manoeuvring as good as impossibly for Octa. “Impressive,” he complimented his enemy, who seemed in no hurry to get into melee in its weakened state.
Octa further extended his vines, reaching out to his opponent. It jumped away, seemingly trying to use the semi-darkness that filled the tower now that its main source of light lay in a million pieces, but Octa had no problem seeing it jump around. He caught it with his vines, and quickly drained the struggling lizard of what little energy it had left after Boreas. But now, he knew, came the difficult part.
Or perhaps not, as Grimsley sent out a Krookodile. Octa didn't like that one bit: while it was possible Grimsley sent out the Krookodile because his other remaining pokémon was also at a type disadvantage, it seemed more likely it was part of some scheme. Perhaps the idea was to make Octa underestimate his opponent, or maybe just to soften him up for the final pokémon. Or perhaps there was some other kind of trick. Octa felt apprehensive and worried. Victory depended solely on him now...
As the large, bipedal crocodile rapidly ran at him, Octa grabbed it with his vines and began draining its energy. The ground trembled with its every step, and glass near its feet, and probably under them as well, shattered to dust. Krookodile kept going, despite Octa draining its energy. He drew his Leaf Blade as he realised his opponent was going to reach him, and tried to parry its attack as it pounced him, claws and jaws spread and roaring like a madman. Octa parried one heavy claw with his Leaf Blade, but a phenomenal force knocked the blade out of his hand and sent it flying. Impacts like a collision with a sharpened train hit Octa, he was bitten with such force the pain was dull and sharp at the same time, and a crushing impact launched him. He squealed in pain as he landed on the scattered glass, and weakly struggled to keep his head away from the ground.
Krookodile raged and ran at him again, and he did something he hadn't done in a while: he made a Leaf Tornado. His increased power since he was a Servine, however, made it much more powerful: a phenomenal gale with sharpened leaves stormed over the battlefield, blowing most torches out and pelting Krookodile with leaves and glass as it swept the nearly-dark battlefield mostly clean. Krookodile struggled against the Leaf Storm to try and reach Octa, but it was powerless with the sharpened leaves and shards of glass cutting it. As it fell down, Octa stopped the storm and panted, exhausted from the powerful move. He grabbed his Leaf Blade and fervently hoped the final pokémon would be weak.
“Good, good!” laughed Grimsley. “This is more fun than I thought! Let's finish it, Bisharp!”
A red, metallic figure like a living suit of armour from another planet's mediaeval period appeared. It had large, sharpened claws on the ends of its arms and a ridge on its head that looked like it could cut through steel. Two tiny eyes seemed the only part of the man-high creature that was made of flesh and blood.
“A steel-type,” groaned Octa, “and I'm already so weary...” He held his blade in front of his face as a salute, then crossed blades with his opponent. He felt its strength reverberate through his weary, wounded body, but could handle it for the moment. He immediately redirected his blade to stop the attack of the other arm. They fenced rapidly, Octa's single Leaf Blade against two metal ones. It was an obvious disadvantage, and he almost never had time to attack, having to parry two blades. He could've made a second Leaf Blade, but since he had no experience fighting with two blades it seemed a very bad idea.
Octa had to slide back constantly, yielding terrain to dodge and parry his stronger, two-bladed opponent. He tried to strike Bisharp from behind with his tail, but it nimbly sidestepped. However, that gave Octa an opening to attack, and so he stabbed his blade, pushing the attempt to block it away, and hit the Bisharp right in the chest. To as good as no effect. Its strong armour held back Octa's blade, and he had to parry attacks immediately again, in the knowledge his own skin certainly wouldn't do the same to metal blades. Parrying several attacks from alternating sides each second, Octa tried to aim for his enemy's eyes whenever he had a chance to attack, but Bisharp protected them well. If you have only one weak spot to protect, you get quite good at that.
Octa was exhausted, panting heavily, and his muscles hurt. He began to slow down, and received a few small cuts from poorly-parried attacks. Suddenly he nearly fell off the platform's edge as he dodged back another attack. His enemy had him cornered. But an idea popped up in Octa's mind. He made a wild stab to his enemy's left eye, trying not to let the severe flash of pain as his enemy punished him with a deep gash with one blade while blocking with the other stop him. His enemy stepped closer to the edge as it parried, and Octa followed up with another careless lunge that Bisharp easily parried. But as it did so, it shifted its balance, and Octa's tail hit its back hard at the same moment. After a single moment of uncertainty, Bisharp plummeted over the edge with a metallic cry.
Octa was almost unable to believe it was over. They had actually defeated a member of the Elite Four! A part of him inside simply nodded and smiled and said “of course I did, I'm of the house Equinox.” Another part of him, however, a long-repressed part of self-doubt and fear, couldn't believe he had duelled an Elite Four's Bisharp while wounded and came out the victor. A part of him felt ashamed that this had looked like a beautiful civilised hall of a nobleman before the battle and now looked like a barbarian horde had ransacked the place. And finally there was a part of him that just wanted to scream at the deep cuts he'd received executing his little plan. He was tired and hurt enough that he'd most like to just lay down, but he desired to keep his dignity and instead calmly sheathed his blade and said “I believe we are victorious.”
“...But then the giant chandelier came down, just as I was about to defeat it! Of course, I saw it coming and was already running out of the way to safety, but just as I was about to jump out of the way... Black returned me to my pokéball. Otherwise I'd have easily beaten that Scrafty. But he thought I was about to die, so it's alright really. Besides, it gave Octa a chance to show off his mad skills with the sword. I mean, their swords were flashing so fast it was hard to follow it with your eyes when he fought that Bisharp! Octa, tell us about it again.”
Octa was shaken from thought by Boreas' request to continue the tale. He had told it five times already, but enjoyed it every time... However, he was rather preoccupied right now, and not really enjoying their little victory celebration any more. He quickly finished his drink. “Hmm? Why don't you tell it, my dear fellow? I think I shall be calling it a night, for we have another battle to fight tomorrow and 'tis late already.”
“Aww...” pouted Boreas. “But I guess you're right about that. We should be getting to bed...” He suddenly grabbed and kissed Aqua. “But that's no reason to stop celebrating, is it?”
“You're right,” giggled Aqua, “we should have a little private celebration...”
“Well, have fun then, but don't keep each other up too long, you'll need your rest for tomorrow.” Octa and the others left to go to their own rooms. Challengers were given quite luxurious accommodations at the League, as every pokémon had a room of their own. Lucius and Selene quickly disappeared to their own rooms, but Toxica walked along with him. “Kinda cute, innit,” she giggled, “seeing them so happy together. I don't suppose Aqua's room will be slept in tonight...”
Octa, rather preoccupied, simply said: “Hmm. I suppose it won't...”
In a low, flirtatious voice, she continued: “And what about my room? Do you suppose it will be slept in?”
They had arrived at Octa's room, but his conscience forbade him from letting Toxica come in with him while he considered dumping her, though the celebratory alcohol in his blood thought it was a great idea. “My apologies, my darling, but I want to rest for tomorrow's battle. For while our victory today was impressive, this was but the first of five battles we have to win. So methinks 'tis better if we sleep in our own rooms and rest well.”
“Well... We don't need to... 'Celebrate'. It would be very nice just to sleep together, cuddling. Literally just sleeping together, I mean.”
“My apologies, but I really think we should sleep in our own rooms tonight.” Octa took Toxica's hand and kissed it. “Goodnight.” He entered his room and shut the door, sighing.
“You made a wise choice,” said a voice.
“Entei's entrails!” cursed Octa. “Gaius! What in the name of Jirachi's little toe are you doing here?”
Gaius smiled. “I'm simply visiting my brother, and I'm about to congratulate him on a battle well-fought. I thought it best to speak to you in this manner, for I do not believe your friends like me very much, though this is partially my own fault for losing my temper.”
“I'm afraid it is,” said Octa, recovering from the shock.
“But enough about that. I wish to congratulate you. I truly believed you were going to lose, but you actually managed to defeat three opponents on your own. I'm proud of you, little brother: you showed the true skill and spirit of Equinox today. I must be honest with you: I had begun to doubt the strength of your blood. Evidently I was mistaken in my doubt, and I hope you can forgive me for that.”
“No, you weren't.” Octa sighed, realising this was the time to tell someone about his failure. “I dishonoured myself on Victory Road, Gaius...” He told his brother how he had cowardly given up hope, and his wish to increase the strength in his blood and even his idea to become more like his ancestors by following their ways... Including dumping Toxica.
Gaius smiled friendlily. “My brother, you are still a true Equinox. However, you are one who has strayed away from our traditions and rules by courting a commoner and disobeying his family. 'Tis to be expected such transgressions would cause your splendour to fade. However, I do not believe your mistake is irreversible. 'Tis time you listened to the wisdom of the family, Octa. Toxica may be quite decent, for a commoner, but she does not deserve you. Your courtship has to end, and the sooner the better, for the fate of Unova rests on your leaves.”
It pained Octa, but he knew his brother was right. Yet it was so final now that he had told his solution to Gaius... At least he could've backed out of it without anyone knowing before. “Yes,” he sighed. “I know it has to...”
Re: The Surprising Adventures of a Glaceon in Unova (Chapter 64 is up!)
Sorry I didn't comment in the last 3 chapters so far. Anyway, seems like things are really picking up. It's good to know that the team made it back to civilization, though it's bad news that N got there first, which got worse when he became champion.
Octa loosing his confidence and cool is really uncharacteristic for him, but after what's happened so far, you really can't blame him. Hope his victory against 3 opponents will help a little.
Once again I've had a good time reading and can't wait to read more.
Re: The Surprising Adventures of a Glaceon in Unova (Chapter 64 is up!)
Yeah, giving up on Victory Road really shook his confidence.
Originally Posted by Tophat Dragoneye
Thanks for commenting. Here you go:
Once again I've had a good time reading and can't wait to read more.
Chapter Sixty-Six: Courage and Fear
Diego was annoyed with himself. He had just watched a recording of Black's battle with Grimsley, and found himself rooting for Black. He had told himself it was just because he looked forward to defeating him and his pokémon personally, and even believed it. But then, the chandelier had fallen on top of Boreas, and Diego had actually been shocked and horrified. Somewhere inside his mind, the Flareon he had pretended to be for two months had cried out in shock at the apparent death of his brother, and then sighed in relief when it turned out he wasn't dead after all.
Diego was really beginning to hate his oh so clever plan to spy on the enemy by infiltrating them himself. Boreas' early memories that had been implanted into his mind, as well as the long time he'd spent playing Zeph, had made him weak and treacherous. In a way, Zeph was still inside his mind, making him doubt Team Plasma's cause and making him like Boreas. It would be easy enough to let Ryoku's Exeggutor remove the memories if he asked it to, but that would mean actually showing his mind to it, and in its current state showing his mind to anyone was the last thing he wanted. Exeggutor would be obligated to tell Ryoku, and then Ghetsis would learn of his weakness and probably think his friend was no longer loyal to him. Which was nonsense, of course: Diego's true self was unquestioningly loyal. Yet he felt a little spark of anger towards Ghetsis now as he remembered how much the enemy hated him and the other Sages and how much suffering he had caused. Diego was ashamed at his misguided anger towards the human who had saved his life, cared for him, became his friend, who had made him such an instrumental part of his plans.
He paced the corridors of Team Plasma's castle restlessly as he had these conflicting thoughts, and found himself wandering into N's throne room. “Diego!” greeted the human happily. “How did Black's battle go? I take it he won?”
N had been spending most of his time in the huge throne room since they had returned to the castle. Diego found it quite funny how seriously he took his role as king, even though he was no more than a figurehead. Yet he also felt a bit sorry for his friend. He was so misguided and naïve, thinking he was fighting for pokémon liberation when he was really fighting for Team Plasma's true goals. Diego nodded grimly. “He did.”
“Of course he did; a battle between Reshiram and Zekrom will happen to decide who's right once and for all.” N noticed Diego's troubled state. “Don't worry, Diego, this is meant to happen. Black defeating Grimsley is not a bad thing. It's unavoidable, since he'll eventually fight me.”
N misunderstood Diego's worries, but that was probably for the better. “N, do you ever wonder if we're fighting for the wrong side?” Diego heard someone say. He realised with shock it was him.
“Well, not really. How could liberating pokémon be wrong? Yet, if it somehow is, Reshiram will defeat Zekrom, and then we'll know. But I'm almost sure that won't happen. We'll win and prove our righteousness once and for all.”
Diego forced a smile. “Of course. You know, I've got some things to do, so I'll see you later.”
Diego left the throne room quickly. Idiot, he thought. Naïve idiot. He really thinks we're fighting to liberate pokémon. Well, I guess it's true in the sense that pokémon will be equals to humans when we win...
But that's just what I've thought him to think like. We need him naïve. But what's wrong with me? Asking something so treacherous? What if someone else had heard me? What if it makes N doubt our cause? I know what I'll have to do if he turns on us, and it's not something I'd enjoy...
But he could do it. He remembered what he'd done one day on Victory Road when he had been vexed by similar thoughts and wondered if he'd turned weak. He grinned as he remembered it and realised that when push came to shove, he would show no mercy to any enemy. It had felt as if he'd taken the thoughts he had come to think of as Zeph by the throat with an iron fist and strangled them. They had eventually returned, but he had proven that while there was weakness in him, his core was harder and stronger than steel.
Toxica woke up feeling quite well. She had been terrified about their first battle with an Elite Four, but now that they had defeated one, it felt like it wasn't such a stretch they could win another battle or three. She yawned, turned on all lights in the room, and let her flower absorb the light for a while. It was a shame the Sun was up so briefly and lowly this far north; she could really go for some nice morning sunlight. She sighed at the thought; morning Sun made for a great breakfast, bright but not too warm; she really longed for some after so much time away from the Sun.
She left her room eventually, as she really needed a normal breakfast as well, unable to live on sunlight alone this far up north. She went down to their dining room downstairs, passing the rooms of the others. She considered sneaking in and snuggling up to Octa as she passed his room, but decided against it, as she was quite hungry.
The dining room was empty; it seemed she was the first to rise. She realised as she had breakfast there was another reason she hadn't gone into Octa's room: he had been acting a bit strange lately. Though he usually didn't show it in public, he was often very affectionate and loving to her in private; yet he had lately grown more aloof and distant, and often seemed worried and lost in thought. Toxica didn't think he'd be that happy to find her with him, really...
It led to a scary thought: perhaps Octa was no longer in love with her. Maybe she hadn't turned out to be whom he really wanted, and now he was regretting their love... Even though she'd been trying to learn as much as possible of the things a lady of the house of Equinox should know, she knew she'd never be a true lady, and Octa had probably realised the same. She thought of Aurora and sighed in frustration knowing she could never be like her. Sure, she could try, but it would always be obvious to Octa she wasn't really fit for him.
There was a flapping of wings, and then Selene flew in. “Good morning, Tox.”
“Morning...” she said gloomily.
The bird landed. “You're looking a bit unhappy today... Are you worried about the battle?”
“It's not that, Selene, it's just...” Toxica felt tears sting in her eyes. “I'm not sure if Octa still loves me...”
Selene perched down next to her and put a wing around her back. “There, there... It'll be alright, Tox. Life is like a box of chocolates, you know. Sometimes you eat it, and sometimes it eats you.”
“Wh-what kind of chocolates are those?”
Selene kept on talking. “But when it eats you, you just have to turn the other cheek and let it eat that instead, because otherwise you may end up without a cheek to stand on; and that means you need a wheelchair to... Why are you laughing?”
“Oh, no reason,” giggled Toxica. “But thanks, that really helps me feel better.”
“Great!” Selene crowed happily. “I'm always glad to help a friend like you.”
Toxica ate a bit. Though she was still feeling worried Selene had made her laugh at least. “Well, you're a good friend for trying to help. I really shouldn't let it get me down so much; for all I know he's just worried whether we can really defeat the Elite Four. I know I am.”
“Well, at least today will be fun,” Selene said cheerfully. “We're fighting a ghost-type master today, can you believe it? It'll be great.”
Toxica felt as if the air in the room had disappeared and left her in an ice-cold vacuum. Horrific memories she had tried to push away flashed through her mind, reminding her of the worst fear she had ever felt. She had been fear as she was lying in a grave and had heard death speak to her while five terrifying ghosts discussed how they were going to torture her and give her a fate worse than death and hundreds of creepy Litwicks sang. Even knowing it had all been some sick joke in hindsight didn't soften the terrible memory, which had returned in her nightmares several times. She would rather fight a whole horde of fire-types than ghosts.
Toxica was light-headed and nauseous with terror. She pushed her plate away; eating was the last thing she wanted now, in fact she felt like she might throw up. Maybe I should, she thought. If I act like I'm terribly ill, maybe Black won't take me along for the battle... I would be useless against ghosts anyway, I'm too scared of them... And it'd be better than having my soul burned away, or eaten, or turned into a mummy... Even if those are obviously myths. Obviously.
“Oh dear...” she said. “I think I'm coming down with something... Not sure if I can fight today.”
“Well, that's no problem,” said Selene, “we'll just go to nurse Flatulence and let her have a look at you. I bet she can cure you.”
Oh, bugger. “Well, um... You see, I can't... Because... Well...” Toxica sighed and realised she couldn't think of an excuse. “Look, remember Celestial Tower? If I go to fight those ghosts, I'll probably end up doing exactly what I was doing there and just freeze with fear.”
Selene looked confused. “But you have to fight; if there's only five of us, then that's less than six. And these four elites are already difficult to defeat when we are both with six.”
“I know...” said Toxica, softly. “But I told you, I'll just be frozen with fear... I'll be useless.”
“But why? Why would you be afraid of ghosts, they're fun!”
Toxica was puzzled again by Selene's seemingly insane like of ghosts. “Well, how could you not be afraid of them? They're horrible, gaseous things that can get into your mind and do gruesome things to you... Plus, they're dead people's spirits...”
“I don't think that's true,” said Selene.
“How do you know?”
“Because I've seen ghosts hatch from eggs once. Gastlies.”
“That's... Right, you've got a good point there.” Toxica felt relieved; that made ghosts sound a lot more like a normal pokémon.
“Ghostly eggs, mind you. They're purplish-black and float, and are sort of airy and gaseous, but not quite a gas. Like really thick smoke.”
“That's kind of weird.” Toxica let out a little chuckle at the thought of a creepy thing like a Gastly hatching from such an egg.
“And when the Gastly hatches,” continued Selene, “the shell often becomes a part of its body, if it doesn't just dissolve into thin air. Also, they make fantastic omelettes; they're just tough to keep in the pan because they tend to float away or dissipate. And when the omelette is done, you don't eat it, but inhale it.” She smiled. “And then the world suddenly makes so much sense...”
“Well, that explains a thing or two,” chuckled Aqua as she entered as well, smiling. “Morning, ladies, I hope there's breakfast other than Gastly omelettes left, because I'm starving.”
She gracefully jumped down the stairs and onto a chair, then began giving herself breakfast. “So whawt waws awll this tawlk of Gastly omewettes?” she asked with her mouth full of bacon.
“I was just telling a bit about ghosts, because Toxica was afraid-”
“Because I was afraid I didn't know enough about them to fight them well,” interrupted Toxica. Though she liked Aqua a lot, she didn't really want more people to know how scared she was of ghosts.
Fortunately Aqua seemed too busy with her breakfast to notice the cover-up. “Wow,” said Selene, “you're quite hungry. Did you celebrate long with Boreas yesterday after we went to bed?”
Aqua blushed, and Toxica burst out in giggles. Selene could be very naïve sometimes. “Hehe, I guess we did,” she giggled.
As they had their breakfast, Toxica's mind drifted back to the ghosts. Selene had made her feel better about them, but a single thought of the things they were said to be able to do to you made her blood freeze in her veins. The stories about devouring people's souls, turning you into a ghost, or controlling your mind were probably just made up... But they were still terrifying. And if only one of them was true... Toxica didn't dare continue the thought.
Fortunately, she didn't have to, as Octa joined them. “Mornin', Octa!” she said happily.
“Good morning,” said Octa, without even looking at her. “Boreas and Lucius aren't here yet?”
“Yes, they are,” said Aqua, “they're hidden under the table.”
Aqua chuckled. “Well, ask a dumb question, get a dumb answer. Boreas is still lying in bed, he didn't feel like having breakfast yet. I guess Lucius is just being lazy.”
As Octa started having breakfast too, he still hadn't looked at Toxica. “Good morning, Octa,” she said, extra clearly. Yet he seemed to be more interested in his breakfast than in her. “Good morning.” he replied.
Several hours later, Octa still hadn't even made eye contact with her. Her annoyance over his weird behaviour almost eclipsed her fear for the ghosts, who – hatched from eggs or not – scared the living piss out of her. The dreaded moment when she'd have to face them came closer and closer. She tried very hard not to think of the horrible stories that were told about every ghost. Her feet felt like they were made of osmium, and cold and warm shivers alternated over her body. Her head, flower and body felt far too warm, yet her hands and feet were cold and shivery. She was too scared to look up at the purple tower as they walked towards it.
They went left immediately as they entered the main League building, into a dark tunnel. Toxica could hear herself breathing awfully loud and fast, but kept walking. She toyed with the idea to use the darkness to sneak away, but knew she couldn't. She was going to have to face whatever would be waiting for her at the end of this darkness. That was, as it turned out, slightly less darkness. She could see a large staircase spiralling around huge bookcases. Spider webs were everywhere and the murky air was ominously thick and dusty. She forced the voice in her mind that said she could be breathing in a Gastly already to shut up.
Wings flapped loudly, and then something touched her flower. “Get it off me, get it off me!” she screamed, trying to slap at whatever horrible thing it was.
“It's me, Tox!” said Selene.
“Oh,” said Toxica, feeling very silly, especially now that everyone was looking at her. “Er. Sorry. What'd you startle me like that for?”
“Yeah, you crazy bird,” said Lucius, “what did you scare her for? She's probably scared enough for what the ghosts could do to her anyway.”
“Hey, shut up!” snapped Toxica.
“Like turn her into a zombie, or-”
“Shut your trap, Lucius,” said Boreas, “scaring her really isn't going to help us.”
“And you shut up too, I'm not scared!”
“I'm just trying to-”
“Come on, guys,” said Black, “quit fighting and get on with it.”
Listening to their trainer, they stopped arguing, but Toxica was still furious that her fear was so apparent. Grumbling angrily as they walked up the stairs, she barely noticed their creepy creaking. The stairs went around the tall bookcases once, and then reached their top. There was a wooden floor illuminated by a purple lantern on top of the bookcases. At its far side a petite human woman sat at a desk, scribbling something in a book. Her hair and clothes were all purple, or perhaps that was just because of the purple light. She reminded Toxica of a cat.
“Welcome,” said Shauntal of the Elite Four as she looked up. “You must be Black. A curious name, just like the last challenger...”
“Yes,” said Black, “I am, and I've come to challenge you. But first I want to know why you protect N.”
Shauntal looked down into the book. “'Eyes brimming with dark flame, this man rejected everything other than himself in order to bring about one singular justice...' That is something I wrote just now, inspired by our new Champion. N has a righteous, selfless conviction that is rarely seen. He believes himself to be a hero, and in many ways he is. Whether I agree with him or not, he has my fullest respect, and I want to see what he can do if we let him.”
Black shrugged. “Well, at least you seem to have given it more thought than Grimsley.”
“N talked to me about you, you know. He believes you too are a hero.”
Black sighed, while Toxica slowly felt her anger subside. Fortunately, Shauntal didn't seem too scary. Yet she dreaded the monsters she might release from her pokéballs. “I'm not a hero, I'm just trying to stop Team Plasma. I have no interest in N's hero rubbish.”
“Fascinating...” said Shauntal. “You really do fit the role well. I'm sure your battle with N will be very interesting, but that's not for now. I will battle you right now and see whether you've got what it takes. We'll fight six against six, and all the usual rules apply.”
“Fine by me.”
From Shauntal's pokéball appeared what looked like an ancient sarcophagus with a dark hole in it. But malicious red eyes and glistening teeth glowed up behind the hole and four ghostly hands emanated from the coffin. Toxica froze with fear; it was said that if you come to close to a Cofagrigus, it would swallow you and turn you into a mummy. Fortunately Black didn't send her to fight, but Selene.
“Hey,” said Selene happily, “it's you! You were at Celestial Tower, weren't you? One of those fun ghosts!”
A voice like slime oozing out of a coffin emanated from the Cofagrigus as Selene flew over the battlefield. “What? Oh no, it's you, the Murkrow who's away with the fairies!”
Selene suddenly dived at Cofagrigus, her claws enveloped in dark, pointed shadows. A small, fiery light flew from Cofagrigus to her, but she dodged it nimbly and swooped at the ghost. Her claws did as good as no damage, of course, but the sharp dark energy that shot from each claw really seemed to hurt it. But as Selene flew away, she was hit by one of the ghostly arms and tossed hard through the air before she stopped her momentum.
“I don't think so,” said Selene, continuing the conversation as if there was no battle going on. “My friends like each other a lot, but I don't think any of them are fairies. Also, fairy is not a nice word, you should-” Then she squawked in shock as a swarm of fiery blue lights like the Litwicks that had helped these ghosts torment Toxica flew around, all trying to intercept her. She was forced to fly as fast as she could and change direction often to evade the Will o' the Wisps.
Toxica shivered at the ghostly fires, wondering if her opponent would use them too... She thought back to that horrible day when the ghosts had terrified her; she remembered Cofagrigus, of course, but also a cruel Froslass, a kind Golurk, a Jellicent, Drifblim, and finally the scariest one of them all: Chandelure and its infernal flames. She knew she couldn't battle any of them, except perhaps Golurk. She didn't dare fight the others, out of fear for the horrible things they might do to her.
Selene had no chance to attack Cofagrigus again with about thirty Will-o-Wisps all swarming about while Cofagrigus hurled Shadow Balls at her with its ghostly arms. Toxica wanted to shout something to encourage Selene, but all she got was a frightful squeak.
Cofagrigus' glowing red eyes turned to her and then it laughed, a sound like an ill badger panting. “If it isn't the little flower girl. Don't you think you're a little out of your league here? But by all means, go ahead and fight when it's your turn. We've got ways to use both your body and your soul...”
Toxica knew it was trying to scare her, but that didn't change a thing. The creepy voice, the creepy eyes, the creepy... Everything. It terrified her, and she wanted to get away as fast as she could. Selene, using her enemy's distraction, dived down and Night Slashed it again. “Hey, if you want to spook someone, why not me?”
The Will-o-Wisps had followed her and pelleted Selene and Cofagrigus itself. Purple, ghostly flames erupted from its hands, but Selene was hit too, and the purple flames danced over her. She dropped to the ground with a squawk and rolled around while Cofagrigus was flailing its hands about trying to extinguish the fire. Selene had extinguished the flames soon, got to her feet, and slashed her wing in the air. A shockwave of air, sharp as a knife, slashed at the ghost as it extinguished the flames, and two more followed immediately. It hit Selene with a dark, ghostly ball, and she staggered a bit, but continued attacking until the hands retracted into the sarcophagus and Cofagrigus fell over.
Toxica wanted to cheer for Selene as Shauntal sent out another pokémon: a huge, blue, bipedal creature, roughly shaped and with gigantic fists and feet. Toxica recognised the Golurk who had saved her from the other ghosts. It quickly nodded to her and Selene in recognition, then immediately showed why Shauntal had chosen it: it aimed both arms at Selene, and massive bolts of lightning came from them. Selene squawked as she was hit, dropping quickly with singed feathers, but she flew again before she hit the ground, firing a beam of darkness at Golurk as she rapidly flew at it, her claws stretched and dark energy flowing about her.
As Selene's attack impacted Golurk, however, its gigantic fist impacted the Honchkrow like an electrified wrecking ball, sending a bright flash through the dark tower as Selene was thrown back and crashed on the floor, skidding a bit further as a heap of smoking feathers. It seemed impossible she would recover from a Thunderpunch like that, yet a pulse of darkness shot at Golurk the next moment as Selene took off once again with surprising speed, avoiding another lightning bolt.
She made a very sharp turn, tucked her wings in, and accelerated greatly as great, fiery wind formed around her: she was trying to take both of them out with a Brave Bird attack. Golurk fired off its right leg and arm like rockets, propelling it to the left quickly to dodge the attack, but it seemed it had just been a ruse: Selene flew just by it, while shooting several Dark Pulses at Golurk. Golurk simply fell over.
As Selene flew up into the air again, Toxica cheered happily for her: they were two pokémon ahead already, maybe she wouldn't even have to fight! But then, the temperature dropped instantly as an elegant, feminine creature white as snow appeared. Ice-cold wind blew through the tower. Snow fell and the air became foggy. Selene dived for the Froslass, struggling with the icy winds she conjured up. Froslass let out a bone-chilling shriek and frigid wind roared through the tower, enveloping Selene in whiteness. The icy cloud she was in kept rushing towards Froslass, but the ghost sidestepped very nimbly, and there was suddenly a blade of ice in her hand. She stuck the blade into the cloud, and it fell to the ground, dissipated and revealing a collapsed Selene. Black swiftly returned her to her pokéball.
Toxica was shivering heavily in the icy, penetrating cold. It had probably been much colder on Victory Road, but she'd been wearing thick clothes then. “Well?” said Froslass, the blade disappeared again. “Which one of you dares to fight me?”
“I do,” said Boreas, stepping forth.
“Oh, an ice-type, how cute. You think you can beat me at my own game.”
An Ice Beam flashed over the battlefield like a bolt of lightning, but was handily parried by a wave of Boreas' paw. “Yes, I do.”
“Not bad,” patronised Froslass, “but what do you do if I do this?” The wind blew forcefully and very hard, and Toxica had to turn her flower into it to prevent being blown away. The snowstorm enveloped the battlefield, spinning towards Boreas, but it didn't hit him: it blew around him, spinning very fast, and then back towards Froslass in a straight line of a ferocious, icy gale, blowing her back. She calmed the storm down quickly. “Good, good,” she grinned, “this will be fun for me yet.”
“Too much fun, perhaps?” said Boreas, firing off a quintuplet of Ice Beams in quick succession to Froslass. She waved her arms and the storm focused around her in an instant, making her cloaked in the white snow and haze. The Ice Beams passed through without trouble, but as the thick clouds around Froslass dissipated, she was no longer there. Toxica stared wide-eyed in shock, but then saw Froslass was trying to stab Boreas with her ice blade. “H-how?” Toxica stammered.
“But can you do that?” said Froslass as her jab at Boreas was parried by a blast of ice-cold air coming the other way.
Boreas pushed the blade away with one paw and put the other to Froslass, releasing a shockwave of coldness from his paw. Froslass was thrown back and pelleted with ice and liquid air. “No, but I'm willing to learn. Can you do that?”
He pounced Froslass, cloaked in shards of ice like a comet falling to Earth, and was thrown up, tumbling, by an even larger pulse of cold, landing hard on his bum. “Yes, I can. Better than you, I might add.”
She flew through the air on the icy winds, trying to stab Boreas again, but was hit by an Ice Beam and plummeted to the ground. The wind and snow coalesced into Boreas' paw, forming a blade of ice in it, and he chopped at Froslass: just too late, as she had got up and parried with her own sword. She tried to stab Boreas, but he nimbly blocked her attack. While fencing, they were both trying to gain full control of the snowstorm that raged through the tower and had covered the entire battlefield in snow by now.
Both put forth their unused paw at the same moment, trying to unleash a pulse of cold on the other. The energy met between them, and both tried to gain the upper hand up the mighty pulse building up between them, frozen in position as they struggled. Toxica was the first to realise what would happen: “Get down!” she screeched as she dropped.
A tremendous icy explosion occurred between the two ice-types, nearly blowing Toxica away even now that she lay flat, and showering her with shards and droplets of something so cold it numbed her skin instantly. The storm blew outwards too, and hundreds of books fell from the bookcases below them. Toxica looked up, brushing the snow on her away, and saw they were still at it, though clearly hurt and even feeling cold. They were shooting Ice Beams at each other from a distance now, parrying each other's beams with pulses of cold and small flashes of dark energy. The crossfire went amazingly fast, yet they were both able to keep up with it as they resumed the snowstorm.
The storm began focusing more on Froslass, and then she was enveloped in white snow and mist again, hiding her white form. The Ice Beams stopped coming back from the cloud of snow. Boreas instantly jumped to the side, having been surprised by this trick once already, which meant the cluster of Ice Beams aiming for his head from the side where Froslass reappeared hit his flank instead. Boreas gasped with pain. “Argh, that is a nice trick...”
Froslass was determined to finish it now, barraging Boreas under attacks as they and the storm obscured him from view. Toxica winced as no Ice Beams returned from Boreas any more: it seemed someone else would have to finish Froslass.
Suddenly a comet firing off Ice Beams shot from the clouds behind Froslass; she was taken completely by surprise, hit several times, and pounced to the ground. “...So let me thank you for teaching it to me!”
She fought back with a blast of ice shards, but Boreas sent pulses of cold through her as he pinned her down, and she soon stopped struggling. Boreas was left wounded, tired, and partially frozen, but victorious.
“Woah!” gasped Toxica, “how'd you do that?!”
Boreas stuck out his tongue. “Magic.”
A dark purple balloon with tiny red eyes appeared in the air, and was instantly carried around on the stormy winds. “A Drifblim?” scoffed Aqua. “I'll bet you Boreas easily beats it.”
“I hope...” said Toxica, but she was really beginning to feel good about this. Selene and Boreas were really wrecking Shauntal's team, and if this kept up, they would win easily, and possibly without Toxica having to face a ghost at all. Boreas fired Ice Beams at Drifblim, who did nothing to dodge, but barely seemed harmed either. However, it emitted a cloud of little Will-o-Wisps that flew against the wind, straight for Boreas.
Aqua placed her tail on Toxica's shoulder friendlily. “C'mon, my cunning Boreas against a silly balloon that can barely control its own movements? It's no contest.”
Boreas fired a sustained Ice Beam right at the X that seemed to be in place of the creature's mouth, but it seemed to have no effect either. Then he had to run to avoid the swarm of Will-o-Wisps, while a new wind blew by him; it smelled dry and very old, like the stale air in a pyramid, and Boreas looked visibly weakened by it. A Will-o-Wisp impacted his tail as he blew the Drifblim about with stormy winds of his own. The purple flames quickly crept up it, but fortunately he quickly began rolling in the snow, extinguishing most of them.
But a foul voice emanated from the Drifblim, speaking in a strange and malicious language, and the flames rapidly spread instead, despite Boreas' rolling. He burst into ghostly flame, screaming in agony as he tried desperately to extinguish it with snow and ice. Terror filled Toxica again; terror for the gruesome ghost-type that could make you combust with just a simple Hex. Aqua's tail left her shoulder as she rushed forward, enveloped in a wave of water and running to save her lover.
“I retract Boreas!” said Black just in time before Aqua too would have been disqualified. The Vaporeon, now the centre of a wave of water and snow, jumped onto Boreas and fortunately the flames proved easer to extinguish with water. “Lucius,” said Black, “it's your turn, be careful!”
“Careful is my middle name,” said Lucius as he stepped forward.
“Don't you need a last name to have a middle one?” said Selene.
“Shut up,” Lucius said as a charred, wounded Boreas was helped off the battlefield by Aqua. “Let's see if I can hurt this thing.”
He took a deep breath and exhaled a huge torrent of fire that made Toxica take several steps back, catching Drifblim right in the middle of it. Heat spread through the tower rapidly, quickly heating up the frigid air and melting much of the snow. It was unbelievable, but Drifblim only looked a little charred by the inferno; barely damaged. A thin yellow beam of electricity hit Lucius. “Ack!” he yelped. “One persistent bastard, are you? Take this!”
The darkness of the tower focussed in a single pulse that fired from Lucius to Drifblim. Once again, there was barely any result.
“Drifblims are quite impervious to damage,” said Octa.
“Really, mister wise-ass?” snarled Lucius. “Hadn't noticed that yet! Argh!” He yelped as he was hit by another beam of electricity, making his fur stand on edge.
“I was merely explaining,” said Octa annoyed, “you have to keep hitting it.”
“Well, captain Obvious, then why don't you let me get on with it instead of distracting me?” Lucius began shooting another Dark Pulse at Drifblim as Octa grumbled angrily.
It was a surprisingly boring battle compared to the rapid exchange of attacks between Boreas and Froslass. Drifblim just bobbed around and would hit Lucius with attacks while Lucius continually fired flames and darkness at it until it finally went down. “About time,” grumbled Lucius.
A floating, pink, eldritch creature appeared. Its frilled tentacles, crown, pink collar, and kissy mouth made it look absolutely ridiculous on a certain level. But that level was completely overshadowed by the incredibly unsettling and creepy way it moved, the staring emptiness of its eyes, and the way it looked like only an impersonation of a living thing. Lucius ran for the low-floating Jellicent, his mouth opened and ready to bite the floating terror. He jumped, and Jellicent swirled around with amazing speed, catching Lucius in a powerful beam of water that hit the wall so hard it sounded like rocks hitting it. Lucius was launched back, caught by the water, and crumpled onto the floor, clearly out for the count.
Toxica was shivering, as much at the Jellicent's deeply unsettling appearance as the knowledge they ate souls, and that no ship that had ever gone into Jellicent-infested waters had returned. So when Octa drew his blade and slithered forth, she was scared for him, even if he had been a jerk to her today. A storm began once again, but this time it wasn't a cold one, but it was full of leaves sharper than knives being blown around. Aqua quickly put up a veil of water to protect them from the leaves, and Jellicent did the same. However, since the attack was directed at Jellicent, part of it still got through and hit it. It didn't even bleed: only water came from its wounds.
It struck back with a wave of toxic pink sludge. Octa slithered away, but it caught up with him, and Toxica could see his pain as the stuff burned his skin. Moving quickly, he reached his eldritch opponent and stabbed at her with his Leaf Blade, creating more wounds, though the Jellicent's face remained empty. Its attempts to strike back with its tentacles were parried with Octa's blade, and it received several more stabs. Suddenly Jellicent spun rapidly, its tentacles a blur of speed, and Octa was thrown back. He got up, shot a ball of green energy at Jellicent, and then suddenly froze. Toxica wondered what was going on, but then saw Jellicent's empty eyes glow red.
“Kyogre's fins, it's using a psychic attack!” Toxica saw Octa cringe and try to fight back.
Jellicent chuckled. “Well, well, you're planning to break up with the little flower girl? I can't say I blame you.”
Anger welled up in Toxica like a fire. “Hey, keep out of his head and stop lying!”
“But it's no lie,” said Jellicent as its eyes stopped glowing and Octa collapsed. “Is it?”
Octa lay on the ground, panting and defeated. He looked Toxica up, and she saw it in his eyes. “I... I'm sorry...”
Toxica was furious, devastated and speechless. Before she could ask Octa for an explanation, Jellicent finished him off. She trembled. Aqua looked her in the eyes. “I'll fight it. But you'll probably have to finish the battle; you have to regain your cool.”
Toxica realised she was right: Jellicent had brought the battle back to an equal standing, with each side having two pokémon left. Though rage against Octa filled her, she tried to distract herself by remembering what Shauntal's final pokémon was: she sighed when she remembered it was the scariest of all ghost-types, Chandelure. She really wished Aqua would defeat Jellicent, because Toxica would stand no chance against a Chandelure on her own.
The two water-types had been fighting for a while, flooding the field with water all the time. Jellicent was already weakened, but could use ghost attacks to great effect. Aqua resorted to trying to bite her opponent. She rushed towards it in the middle of a wave, launched herself up, and dug her teeth into the gelatinous abomination. As she bit, causing more water to flow from its wounds, Aqua was grabbed by Jellicent's tentacles. She fought against them, and bit down hard in one of them so the floating jellyfish retracted it, but there were too many. She was wrapped by the tentacles, and Toxica knew they would lose at that moment. There was no way she was going to defeat the Jellicent who had defeated their three strongest fighters, and then take on a Chandelure as well. It was better this way, she decided. She could just give up without having to face the ghosts, as she stood no chance anyway. It was much easier and less scary.
She felt rage coalescing into something very hard and very tough. Something that really wanted to hurt Jellicent for hurting her friend, show that git Octa what he'd thrown away, and prove that even if she was terrified of the ghosts, she could still kick their gaseous arses. She was terrified, to be sure, and would love to give up, but if she did, she knew the power she felt inside her would never forgive her. She walked forward resolutely as Aqua fell unconsciously from her enemy's tentacles and adjusted her flower with her hands so she was ready to fight. Two balls of glowing green energy formed in her hands.
“It's the little flower girl!” sneered Jellicent arrogantly. “You'd better give up right now if you don't want me to do horrible things to your fragile little soul.”
She kept walking resolutely.
“Even your boyfriend knows you're weak and mediocre, worthless compared to your companions; it's why he dumped you. And I just beat three of them. I could eat your very soul. Do you think a scared little walking flower like you is going to defeat me?”
“That's just about the size of it, yeah.” She threw the Energy Ball in her right hand, but Jellicent suddenly showed itself to be very fast, dodging the attack and racing for Toxica. She had got as far as lifting up her left arm to throw the second Energy Ball when she was stopped by an incredibly powerful mind assailing her own like the sea bursting through a crack in the dike and ravaging the land. She was aware Jellicent was right in front of her, but as the tremendous tidal wave of thought bashed the cold hard anger that had driven her away, she couldn't bring herself to attack the ancient ocean that was in her mind. It was futile to fight it; nothing could defeat such force; such depth. Her defiance was easily washed away, and the mind tore the layers of her mind away with ease. Her fear, her love, her anger, everything was torn away...
Leaving only her core.
She threw the Energy Ball right between Jellicent's eyes. A piercing scream was everywhere, the wave in her mind boiled away instantly, and her mind was once again her own as Jellicent collapsed, looking as pathetic as a beached jellyfish. She realised now how silly she'd been to fear it.
The sound of a pokémon appearing sounded, and the tower was bathed in blue light. She turned around. A black chandelier with a ghostly face floated, five bright blue flames burning off it. The Chandelure could probably incinerate her with a single attack.
“Surrender,” it said, “I'll burn your soul and leave your body a mindless shell. What's it going to be? Give up or-”
“No.” Toxica aimed her flower and shot a bomb of toxic pollen right at its head. It screeched and its flames burnt an angry green as Toxica quickly threw a pair of Energy Balls at it before she jumped away from the giant flames it spewed at her. The blistering heat from the barely-missed inferno hurt her greatly, and she wished she could use a Solarbeam. Unfortunately, it was impossible to take in enough energy in the darkness. She instead used Energy Balls and poisonous attacks, so determined to win she barely noticed the pain when she got hit; it only made her angrier.
Yet all the dodging of flames drove her to the edge of the plateau soon. As another wave of flame headed her way, she jumped down onto the circulating stairs, landing on the books that had fallen out of their bookcases by the battle. She picked a couple of heavy volumes up, ignoring the searing pain in her flower, and threw them right into Chandelure's face as it floated after her; it was knocked back by the heavy impacts.
She realised then the pain in her flower had gotten much worse and was spreading rapidly; she was on fire! She bashed her flower repeatedly into the empty bookcase to extinguish it, but made sure to absorb energy from the bright light of the fire at the same time. When Chandelure showed up again, angry, she pointed her flower and lit up the entire tower with a Solarbeam. Chandelure fell on the ground and she jumped on top of it immediately, smashing a heavy book on its head repeatedly. She kept smashing and smashing, until finally the ghost disappeared from under her. She looked around ferociously, and saw Shauntal standing with a pokéball in her hand.
“Amazing,” said Shauntal. “Absolutely amazing. I really wasn't expecting to lose. Maybe N is right about you...”
Toxica didn't listen to the conversation any more; she realised she had won! She had actually defeated Chandelure all by herself, and Jellicent too. Ghosts didn't seem so scary any more... She was about to put the heavy book down, but then she remembered Octa's face might be a better place to put it.