Chapter Twenty-Eight: Electrifying Battle at High Speed
Boreas felt strangely wistful as they passed a pile of destroyed umbrellas. In the week since the endless storms had, in fact, ended, the city had begun a large clean-up action to clear the mess the storms had left. To make recycling easier, the different kinds of rubbish were sorted into piles of their own kind. When the storms had first ended and the Sun had shown itself for the first time in weeks, everyone, including Boreas, had been delighted. However, the Sun had quickly shown itself to be a sorry excuse for a lava lamp in this time of year: it would rise very late in the south east, make a tiny hop along the sky, and disappeared under the horizon very early in the south west. During the short time it was in the sky, it would stick close to the southern horizon, looking pitiful compared to its majestic summer self and providing little light and barely any heat. In fact it was possible to look straight into it with little discomfort. Not that Boreas complained, he actually liked the Sun a long better like this.
Though the sky was completely clear in the days that followed, it was even colder than during the storm. But today, the sky was clouded again. These weren't the dark, rolling storm clouds that had vexed Unova for weeks, though, but thick white clouds that bathed the world in a strange, orange light unlike anything Boreas had ever seen.
Boreas shuddered as he saw the Ferris wheel in the distance and turned his mind to the upcoming Gym battle. Now that he had finally learnt Ice Beam during the battle with the anonymous pokémon master, he was fairly confident they would stand a good chance against Elesa. Octa's skills with the Leaf Blade would be of great use as well.
When they reached the Gym, Black stopped for a moment and looked as if he was going to address his pokémon, then shivered in the cold air and hurried inside instead.
Elesa was waiting for them. “Finally we get to battle again, I've been waiting for this rematch but I won't give that Bolt Badge easily, by the way you and your pokémon certainly look more powerful, I wonder if you can defeat me or if the fantastic speed will leave you dizzy again?”
Black and Elesa sat on the chairs as the roller coaster lurched into motion. “We'll each use three pokémon,” said Elesa, “switching out counts as a forfeit, no items allowed, Volta, you go first!”
As Elesa sent out her Emolga Boreas stepped forward, already knowing what Black was going to order. Volta the Emolga launched herself into the air and flew through the Gym on her own. The electric pouches on her cheeks flared and she shot a big ball of electricity into the cart. As the ball approached, Boreas ran and jumped over the cart's edge, avoiding the Thunderbolt. In mid-air, he shot an Ice Beam, freezing the left rail before landing on it. When he landed with his feet on the ice-covered rail, he began sliding rapidly, continually firing more Ice Beams on the track in front of him to make sure it would be covered in ice to slide on as he skied over it. Behind him he could hear the crackling sound as the cart's wheels shattered the ice covering on the rail, but it fell farther behind as Boreas was going faster than the cart.
As he skied over the rail at amazing speed, he almost forgot his opponent. Volta had been utterly amazed at Boreas' action and unable to zap him at first, but now she was coming to her senses and pursuing him. She hit the tracks with several charges, but Boreas didn't feel anything as the ice between his feet and the metal track was a very poor conductor. He was getting the hang of this now, and also finding he could easily increase or decrease his speed by hitting the track with Ice Beams more or less often and so lowering or increasing the friction.
A moment after Ice Beaming the track again, he turned his head to the Emolga who was flying to his left, charging another attack, and shot an Ice Beam at her. He didn't have time to see the result, as he already felt friction on his feet increasing, but he heard a loud squeak of pain.
He took another look and saw the Emolga plummet down helplessly, unable to fly because the Ice Beam had hit her right in the chest and frozen her pectoral muscles. She disappeared as Elesa returned her to her pokéball; a flash of light in the cart showed another pokémon being switched in as Boreas reached an uphill part of the track. Fortunately, his speed was great enough that he slid up it, but he had to Ice Beam the tracks continually to do so. When he reached the top of the uphill part, he began regaining the speed he had lost.
Before he could take a look at his new opponent, he felt a sharp yank on one of his legs and a painful shock went through him at the same moment. A thin, sticky, sparking wire had caught around his leg and more of the same kind of wire were being shot at him by the Galvantula. He sped up further and hit it with a few Ice Beams, but unlike his squirrelly ally Galvantula didn't have such easily exploitable weak spots. Another electrifying wire ended up around his tail, and then one around his neck.
Suddenly Boreas' momentum became a horrid disadvantage as the wire around his neck nearly garrotted him. More wires stuck to him, making his muscles convulse with the shocks they received, and pulling him off the tracks. After a fall, he hung from the wires sticking to him and began to black out from the pain of the increasing shocks and the garrotting wire around his neck. He looked between the spots dancing in front of his eyes and saw he was hanging from Galvantula by Electroweb, whom was hanging from the coaster by a single wire. Trying his hardest to keep his shocked muscles under control, he fired two Ice Beams: one at the wire Galvantula was hanging from and one at its bum. The first Ice Beam severed the wire, sending them both into free-fall, and the second disabled his opponents spinnerets.
Without his weight making the wire around his neck strangle him, Boreas could breathe freely. He formed a fierce Icy Wind to blow both free-falling combatants to a lower piece of the track, and then created Powder Snow there to soften his impact. The impact on the snow still knocked the air out of him, but Galvantula, who hadn't had such a soft landing, looked much worse.
The spider jumped on top of him and sunk his mandibles into Boreas' flesh, sending massive shocks through his body while Boreas used the opportunity to fire a lengthy Ice Beam directly into his face. Shocking and freezing each other, both in severe pain, it was only a matter of who would give up first. It turned out to be Galvantula, as his shocks became weaker and weaker and then completely stopped. Boreas carefully pushed the spider off of him, cringing in pain as the two mandibles left the deep wounds they had created. Elesa was at the moment far too distant to see that her pokémon had fainted, so Boreas used the time to start skiing on the tracks again and built up some speed. He was wounded, tired, and still sparkling with electricity, but perhaps he could tire the final opponent so it would be easier for the next pokémon to beat.
Since he was very low in the Gym, it wasn't easy to start moving rapidly again, but eventually he managed to build up a lot of speed. As he skied over the roller coaster tracks again, he heard the sound of hoof beats behind him. A Zebstrika was rapidly catching up, running at incredible speed over the black platform the tracks were resting on. Boreas tried to hit it with Ice Beams, but when he tried it would form a lightning spark right in the way of the Ice Beam, parrying the attack. A moment later it was running next to him, sending the same sparks arcing through Boreas, who countered by enveloping both of them in an icy cloud of frostiness and Ice Beaming his opponent's legs, trying to make it trip.
But it was too nimble, its legs easily dodging Boreas' Ice Beams, so he used them on its body instead. Then it stopped sparking him, and both were engulfed in flames. Boreas howled in pain as the horrifyingly warm flames embraced him, circling around and searing. He jumped off the tracks, away from his opponent and the flames, and landed on a far-away piece of track thanks to his great speed. A moment later, he heard the heavy hoof beat of Zebstrika next to him as it completed the same jump. He saw something that gave him an idea, but he was going to have to endure the Flame Charge for a while.
Burning flames enveloped him once again. He didn't even try to hit his opponent now, instead resolving to use his powers to keep himself as cool as possible and to combat the flames. The track rapidly curved upwards, and the platform curved along with it. It went steeper and steeper, then vertical, and only centrifugal force kept the zebra and the fox from falling out of the loop. When they were upside-down there was a terrifying moment when Boreas's feet left the track, and for that single moment he was sure he'd fall and break his neck. Then his feet touched the loop again as it curved down, and moments later they moved horizontally again.
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, 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 aside from the tracks. He fell into the black depths under it as the confused Zebstrika landed on the tracks. And was promptly hit by the cart coming the other way.
Boreas landed relatively softly on the cushioned Gym floor under the roller coaster. After a moment, Boreas realised he'd won the battle on his own and cheered.
A few minutes later, as they left the Gym, the entire team was cheering for him and praising him. Basking in their adulation, Boreas didn't even notice the world outside had changed completely until he'd taken a few steps outside. Everything was a bright white now, not just the clouds, as it was all covered in a thin layer of snow. The snow was rapidly getting thicker as more fell from the sky. Boreas was amazed and delighted. He had, of course, seen snow before, but only snow he had made himself.
“...To see it snowing naturally was pretty amazing.”
It was late evening by now, the sky had gone black and littered with hundreds of stars. Only the smallest moon was up, so it was very dark; but Boreas didn't mind, as he and Aqua were lying very close to each other and holding paws. Boreas felt incredibly happy and incredibly in love. Butterfrees flew around in his stomach next to the fish they'd caught earlier that evening. Or rather, Aqua had caught fish while Boreas splashed around clumsily in the water getting nowhere close to the figh. Fortunately she had shared the fish she had caught with him.
“D'you know what's even more amazing?” Aqua asked, “you, defeating a Gym Leader entirely on your own! That's awesome. Unless, of course, you were just bragging?”
“No, every words I said was the truth. I was amazed by it myself, actually, I had never expected that. The rest of the team was amazed too, I was their hero for days to come.”
For a while they just sat there enjoying each other's company, but then Aqua stood up. “Well, it's getting late, so I guess it's time to go.”
Boreas didn't want to go. So far, he'd had one of the greatest days of his life and he didn't want it to end. “But... What about the rest of my story? We're nearing the end, so it won't take that long any more.”
“That's all the more reason not to tell it now, it'll give us an excuse to meet again tomorrow,” Aqua said, making Boreas' heart jump with joy, “Unless you don't want to, of course.”
“No, no, no,” Boreas quickly assured her, “I do want to meet you tomorrow. I'd love to.”
“Great, see you then!” He saw a flash of movement in the dark and heard splashing in the water. He dreamily thought about how great the day had been. Spending the whole day with Aqua, talking to her, flirting with her, tickling her... He sighed as he remembered it. After a few minutes a worrying thought surfaced, though: Now, how am I going to get back?
The rocks the beach was located between were far too steep to climb, and he certainly couldn't swim all the way home. “Aqua?!” he called, “Are you still here?! I need some help!”
No answer. In that case, Boreas figured he'd just have to swim and try to find a way up the banks as soon as possible. He walked into the frigid water, blacker than the night itself, and began swimming along with the current. After a few seconds in the water, he suddenly felt something brush by his feet, and wondered what kind of horrible water creature was going to eat him. [i]Calm down</i>, he told himself, it was probably nothing worse than a Magikarp or a Goldeen.
Suddenly something grabbed his leg and pulled it down. Blind panic grabbed a hold of Boreas as he began struggling like a madman to escape. Then he suddenly felt a pinch on his left buttock and calmed down. “Aqua? That's you, isn't it?”
A shapely silhouette surfaced next to him. “Aww, how'd you know it was me?”
“Because you also goosed me while we were catching fish.”
“I told you, a fish bit you.”
“Once maybe, but twice? You're as guilty as a puppy sitting next to a pile of poo. Anyway, that wasn't funny, you scared me half to death!”
“I'm sorry, it was just too funny not to do that.”
“Just help me swim back, okay?”
“Aww, can wittle Boweas not swim fow himself?” she said in a mocking kiddie voice.
“C'mon, you know I'm a worthless swimmer.”
“What's the magic word?”
“Please, can you help me swim back?”
“Okay. Hold on tight.”
She came close enough and Boreas put his arms around her. Feeling her so close to him, a wave of affection washed over him and he immediately forgave her mean prank. He let his head rest on her shoulder as he began stroking her ears. He felt dizzy with love and almost began kissing her neck, but she said: “Stop. At least, for now. That's all very distracting, and we'll end up swimming into a rock if you keep it up.”
They swam on in silence as Boreas stopped distracting her, just enjoying the physical contact instead. They reached Driftveil far too soon for Boreas' taste. When they reached the shallow water by the pier they had met at that morning, Boreas' feet touched the ground and he let go of Aqua.
“Well, see you tomorrow,” said Aqua as she began swimming off.
“Aqua, wait!” Boreas stopped her.
“Hmm?” she turned around to face him. With the city's dim ambient light illuminating her face and her eyes reflecting the stars, she looked more gorgeous than she ever had. Boreas knew he had to say it now or his head would explode.
“I'm...” he hesitated, then drew a breath and continued, “I'm in love with you, Aqua. You're the kindest, most lovely, charming, awesome girl I've ever met. You're the most pleasant company I've ever been in, and you make me feel warm and dizzy just by thinking of you. When you touch me, it's like...” he struggled to find the right word and gave up, “I'm sorry. I just can't express it in words, because words that describe what I feel for you just don't exist.”
Aqua had slowly been approaching him closer and closer while he talked; her face was very close to his now. “Try...” she whispered, “expressing it without words.”
Boreas decided to do so. He closed the last bit of distance between their faces, interlocking their lips in a passionate kiss. He closed his eyes in delight. It was as if all the happiness and joy he had ever felt was repeated five times within a single moment. The warm feeling of love filled his entire body as if he had his own private Sun burning within. After who knows how long, their lips slowly parted as they still sat in the shallow water embracing each other. They didn't say a word for minutes. Then Aqua whispered: “Yes, I feel the same way.” She slipped away from Boreas' arms as she disappeared under water.