I think I have a habit of making my villains reccur to often. I really must work around that for future stories. And you'll just have to wait and see what happens ;)
I think I have a habit of making my villains reccur to often. I really must work around that for future stories. And you'll just have to wait and see what happens ;)
Chapter Thirty Six: Fire
The festival goers continued to scream and continued to flee from the scene of disaster, not wanting to linger around in case there were more explosions, all of them wondering what had caused it and why it had happened. Some people wanted to stay and help, but for the majority their sole purpose was to get out of the line of fire and try to save their own skin.
While everyone around her fled, Victoria remained still, staring through the flames towards her love and her hate.
Even as the fire spread to the surrounding stalls, lighting the street up as both sides of it began to burn, Victoria simply stood there with Millicent and Apollo on either side, the suitcase resting at her feet. She could only stare over at Andrew lying helplessly in the Minder's arms, unsure how the Minder got here or how he managed to get hold of Andrew, but none of that really mattered. Victoria's heart was pounding faster than ever, shock and confusion washing throughout her body: hadn't they won? Hadn't they finally outsmarted the Minder? Hadn't she, Gwenda and Andrew finally made it to the safe haven that was the Star Festival? This was supposed to be the end of the past and the start of a new life for them, but the Minder was refusing to let that happen, refusing to let them escape from the horrors of the Miltank Meadows.
The fact that their dreams were snatched away from them at the last minute was leaving Victoria frozen in shock. She knew she had to go and confront the Minder, she knew she had to be the one to rescue Andrew and find where Gwenda had gone, but she couldn't bring herself to do it: they travelled so far and for so long, going through so many challenges simply to get here, and having this one forced upon them at the last minute was to much to comprehend when their freedom seemed so close.
Victoria, what are you planning on doing? Apollo said, his voice sounding distant in the back of her head. This fire is spreading down the entire lane and soon we will be completely surrounded. We have to move before this consumes us. Victoria merely nodded, eyeing towards the Minder. The elderly man was smiling at her through the flames, egging her on, daring her to come towards him and fight for her lover's freedom. The heat was becoming unbearable, Victoria feeling the sweat coming down her body, and the smoke was beginning to choke them, making Apollo's words ring with truth. If Victoria had still been angry with Andrew and he himself had been lying on the other side of the flames, then she surely would have been tempted to turn the other way and leave with the rest of the festival-goers.
But today, Victoria wasn't going to take that path. Today, it was time to do the right thing.
"We're going forwards," she said, her voice croaky and raw due to the smoke. She turned towards Millicent and Apollo, wondering if they had any doubts about this, but their faces were solemn and filled with determination, both of them nodding as she glanced at them. Victoria turned specifically towards Millicent, staring into the eyes of their eldest Pokemon friend and feeling grim about the possible outcomes. "Whatever you do Millicent, don't leave my side."
"Tank Mil Mil Tank Mil," Miltank said with a comforting smile, and the two had a softer and quicker hug that set Victoria into action. Knowing that her friend would be by side was the encouragement Victoria needed for the dark path ahead, and once they broke apart she bent down and opened up the suitcase. The other four Apricorn Balls had been left in here after the train crash, and Victoria quickly grabbed them all up and stared them over, thinking at the Pokemon that were inside and wondering how their lives could have been different if they hadn't gotten involved in all this human caused drama.
As Scarlett, Petal, Electrike and Trapinch formed, Victoria felt bad for them as they were now soldiers and fighters in a war they hadn't properly signed up for, but knew that each one of them would be as willing to help as Millicent or Apollo who knew what they were getting in for when they joined their team.
"We have to move quickly," Victoria said, trying to sound confident despite the mixture of emotions she felt and the smoke getting inside her body. "The Minder has attacked us again, but this time he has Andrew, so we need to go and save him and make sure all this pain and suffering that bastard Minder has put us through ends tonight!" The six Pokemon all cheered, though the ones newly sent out looked rather confused by the flaming stalls that surrounded them, and Electrike and Trapinch were shocked about their trainer's capture. Victoria couldn't bear to look at their sorrow and turned towards the flames and saw the Minder was still standing there, not making any attempts to come towards her, simply standing still his attempt to coax her forwards into whatever he had planned. It was risky to go near him, but Victoria had to do, and part of her mind was telling her she had to.
"Are we all ready?" She asked the Pokemon, glancing back to see them but struggling to as the smoke got thicker. The six Pokemon all stared back at her, steely looks on their faces, and Victoria of how they had all been involved with them in the disasters that had unfolded before them, and knew they were just as willing to end the Minder as she was. "Good, now let's get moving!"
It definitely would have been an odd sight if anyone had lingered around to see it: a black girl marching down a flaming street, a suitcase clutched in her hand like it was a gun, with an odd variety of Pokemon moving with her. They would have wondered why she was doing this, what was possibly making her walk towards a flaming building and past burning stalls, and in the back of Victoria's mind she asked herself the same questions, doubting whether or not this was necessary, only for the sensible and braver parts of her brain to silence the negatives and tell her it was the right thing to do.
"Starmie Star Star!" Scarlett called beautifully, and she raised two of her arms up into the air. Victoria and the others turned around as water burst from a pipe nearby, coursing up into the air like one of the skyscrapers, yet it had more beauty to it than any building could possess. Scarlett directed it downwards and the water expanded, turning into a proper wave that crashed against the flaming stalls, tearing them to pieces but stopping the flames in their path. Scarlett turned around, sending the Surf curving around, wiping out all of the other flames, mostly the giant fire burning from where the initial explosion. Victoria watched as the fire was cleared and the Surf faded away with it, leaving only smoke and steam rising into the air in its path.
"Thank you for that," Victoria said with a smile, and Scarlett nodded back, her jewel flashing briefly in acknowledgement, as she directed the Surf across the last of the stalls. Victoria turned back to the road ahead and continued walking, not letting herself stop for too long in case she stopped for too long and couldn't keep reading. She kept telling herself she was ready for waited for her on the other side of the smoke, and Victoria only hoped that she…
The second Victoria stepped foot into the cloud of smoke and steam the cry sounded, the noise sharp and piercing, echoing throughout the night. Victoria turned around in confusion, knowing who it was but unable to tell where it was coming from now that the firelight was gone. There was a swooshing sound behind her, and Victoria instinctively turned around as Skarmory swooped down towards her like a metallic beast rearing down from the clouds.
"TRIKE TRIKE!" Electrike cried as Victoria screamed and turned, and saw a burst of yellow out of the corner of her eye. The Spark crashed into Skarmory a moment later, and there was another squawk as the Armor Bird was blasted backwards by the effective attack.
This is a trap, there are more Pokemon waiting for us! Apollo cried. Victoria looked around, and was stunned to see rubble flying out in front of her from the direction of the explosion. The Pokemon shouted and scattered, with Millicent rising up and swinging a Brick Break to knock a section of brick away from Petal.
"Stay calm everyone!" Victoria called as she straightened up again, shouts sounding nearby as Electrike fired more Sparks at Skarmory. She tried to move towards her Pokemon, but screamed once more as there was a white flash before her in the clearing smoke: Kadabra quickly formed before her, looking grim as he held his spoon up.
"Kadabra Kadabra," he said, and his eyes began to glow pink. Victoria tried to scream but felt it close in her throat, and her attempts to move were hindered as a sensation moved through her body, leaving her unable to move. Her eyes bulged as her head began to throb, and Victoria began to have flashes of what could happen to her before the crushing feeling disappeared, sending her collapsing helplessly to the ground.
"Miltank Mil Mil!" Millicent cried angrily at Kadabra, who seemed dazed as he lay amongst rubble of one of the burnt huts. The Miltank reached down and scooped Victoria up, smiling at her and giving her a hearty pat on the back before turning her around towards the Minder, the smoke clearing now and revealing the path ahead.
"What about you –," Victoria began, but Millicent kept her head focussed firmly ahead.
Do not worry about us, Apollo said, we can stop the Pokemon, but you need to go and stop this Minder person and save your friend. Quickly now! Victoria nodded, though felt nervous as she continued to step forwards, a piece of rubble flying in front of her possibly due to Geodude. There was no turning back now, but Victoria only hoped she made it out alive.
Stepping out through the diminishing smoke, Victoria got her first proper look at the open area. This part of Lilycove seemed to be more of a park or natural area, with the road stopping and curving away to be replaced with a wide field of green and trees that towered over some of the buildings. The ocean was out in the distance, the area curving down towards a quiet beach, the inky black ocean crashing up against the surface. It was a true slice of nature in the otherwise busy and modern city, and Victoria knew that this would be a beautiful place to come and spend a day in.
If only she could have come here on a happier day, a day where she, Gwenda, Andrew and their Pokemon could simply enjoy the scenery and spending time together with no deaths, no explosions, no guilt hanging over their heads, just enjoy a perfect day.
Yet here she was, coming to a halt in the still and silent park, a sea breeze brushing against her skin, freezing the sweat caused by the burning festival. Her eyes focused entirely on the Minder standing before her, the same arrogant and vicious smile that he had always worn spread across his face once more. She clutched the suitcase in her hands so hard she thought it might snap, and no one could blame her: Victoria wanted to scream and run forwards and beat the life out of the cruel and sadistic old man, hurt him the same way he had hurt her and Gwenda and Andrew and everyone other person he had ever come across, hurt him until her pain went away and she could get started with the life she had wanted.
But there was no chance of that happening. Victoria glanced down at Andrew laying in his arms, his eyes shut and mouth hanging open, noticing for the first time the blood dripping down from his head and across his perfect face. She wondered how the Minder could have done this to him, but she had to force herself to look away, beginning to feel tears building up in the few seconds she stared at Andrew's weak and helpless face, unaware of what was about to happen.
"Ah, Miss Freeman," the Minder said, laughter ringing in the back of his voice, and Victoria turned back towards him, anger coursing throughout her body as she tried to deal with the situation. "Miss Freeman, you have become so predictable throughout these events: always the one to try and save the day, aren't you? Trying to save the ferry passengers, trying to save your friend as she bled in the castle, trying to save that burly friend of yours as his coach fell into the ravine below. I knew take someone else you cared so much for would you bring you towards me, and now I can personally kill the person who started all of this mayhem."
"That was you…," Victoria said breathlessly, ignoring most of what he said as she glared towards him. "The train crash? Was that you, or did you just stand by the sidelines and let helpless people die?" The Minder smirked again, a devilish look flashing in his eyes.
"Of course that crash was my working," he said as if it was a proud accomplishment. "When you have Pokemon on your side, who needs guns or henchmen when they do all the work for you? Why, they are even holding up your Pokemon, seemingly the only back up you have with you. Yes, causing that train to derail was easy enough, as was it to learn where you had gone, and then to learn from the darling nurses that you had escaped, and where else could you have gone but here? Once again, you have become too predictable."
"It was you!" Victoria hissed, her fists clenching up. "You caused that train crash, and I've been blaming myself for his death, shunning Andrew away because of it, and, once again, it was all just your fault!" The Minder merely laughed at this again, and Victoria growled at herself for being so stupid and acting the way she had. Maybe they wouldn't be in this mess if she hadn't pushed Andrew away and practically forced him to wander off on his own. She stared at the Minder and felt all her hatred rising up her throat, every nasty thought and feeling she had ever experienced due to that man running throughout her entire body, and she knew that she wanted him dead.
"You're wrong!" She growled, shouting the words across him, blocking out all sounds of the Pokemon battle behind her, and the Minder fell silent, raising his eyebrows curiously. "I haven't come here now to play the hero or anything like that! I have been running away from you for too long, letting you get away with all you've done and knowing in the back of my mind that it's all my fault that these people have died. Even coming on this journey was running away from you and Edmund, not properly standing up for myself and the rights of everyone else you forced to work for you in that disgusting little farm!
"But I am not going to run away from you anymore! It is about bloody time someone actually faced up to you properly and proved what a despicable little coward you are! Admit it: you just hit Andrew on the back of the head when he wasn't looking! And causing that explosion – that just shows you can't actually enter a crowded area and fight me properly. You need everyone else out of the way before you can take on a little girl like me! I said you were weak back at the Mirage Tower, but I didn't think you were this pathetic!" The Minder looked as if he had been slapped, and there was silence for a moment as he let the words wash over him, his shocked expression showing he had no idea exactly how to counter this argument. It was Victoria's turn to smile as she breathed rapidly, unleashing all these emotions tiring her out, and she waited to see what the Minder had to say next.
"Wonderful speech Miss Freeman," he replied after nearly two minutes, talking slower and lot calmer. "I see you are smarter than I expected, good for you. I may be a monster in your eyes and this may be your chance to stand up to me, but you made an excellent point in that wander little yarn of yours. If you had never left Miltank Meadows, none of these deaths could have possibly occurred: the cruise ship, the ferry, the train, that hiking friend of yours – Jim, was that his name? Right now Mr Kingston is bleeding in my arms from a head wound, his injury and death going to be yet another life that you can be held responsible for. So, tell me this: as you think you're facing off against me, are you doing so to rid the world of another horrible creature, or are you defeating me in order to clear your own conscience?" Victoria had been expecting a comeback like this, but it didn't stop it hitting her like a punch to the stomach. One of the tears that had been building up broke through, streaming down her face as she hung her head in shame.
"I am well aware of what I have caused, there is no denying it, and I would be a fool to try and cover it up – a disgusting and weak fool just like you," Victoria hissed, her body starting to shake. "I will never be able to get rid of this guilt for as long as I live. Already I struggle to sleep because of it, and frankly I think my own life should be taken as some sort of retribution. However, you are directly responsible for these deaths as you are the one that caused those innocent lives to be taken away and countless others to be destroyed. The least I can do is to eliminate you from this earth so you can never harm another soul again, and even if you leave me bruised, broken and bleeding as a result, I will at least feel the tiniest bit better about myself to know that you are gone." Victoria glanced upwards, more tears streaming down her face, yet she wore a look of absolute fury. She had meant every word that passed over her lips, and she could feel her mind and body tensing up as she prepared for this final assault. Victoria knew that there was a possibility she could die as a result from whatever fight that would soon take place, but she could easily live with that if she knew Gwenda, Andrew, Millicent, Apollo, Scarlet, Petal, Electrike, Trapinch, any other person or Pokemon that was currently living and breathing... she could die if she knew they would be somehow safe from the disease that was the Minder and the harm and hurt that he had already spread across this region.
However, Victoria was not expecting what was happening when she looked up.
The Minder's attention was fully on her, his wizened face screwed up in fury, either that his words had failed to harm her or that she had outsmarted him and threatened him, but he was staring furiously at her either way. He didn't notice as a figure walked up behind him, oblivious that she was holding a sharp rock in her hand and had it risen above her, ready to bring it crashing down.
At least he was until he saw Victoria's eyes.
The look of shock was instinctive, something uncontrollable when it came to such a startling situation as this. Victoria cursed herself as she saw the curiosity cross the Minder's eyes, wishing her face could have remained blank, but the damage was already done. The Minder turned, letting Andrew fall hopelessly to the ground like a discarded toy, and the old man was shocked by what he found. Gwenda was thrown, not expecting him to turn around, and made to bring the rock crashing down. Victoria cried out and began running forwards, but there was nothing to be done: she could only watch as the Minder swung his cane around, the end smashing into Gwenda's skull before she could bring the rock down.
"NOOOOOO!" Victoria screamed, coming to an abrupt halt as the tears continued to flow, watching as Gwenda came crashing down to the ground with a sickening thud, blood already pouring down the side of her face as the Minder's cane hang above it's latest victim.
Yet another life for Victoria to be held responsible for.
Seeing Andrew there she realized she does indeed love him and he needs to know that.
I hope you are all geared up for the final battle that will take place next chapter! The end is nearly here!
Chapter Thirty Seven: War
Victoria stared down at the scene before her in horror, feeling her heart slow down and her breath catch in her throat: Gwenda and Andrew lying unconscious on either side of the Minder, blood pouring from both of their heads, unable to tell whether either of them was alive or dead. And there was the Minder, breathing deeply as he glanced down at Gwenda, her blood dripping from the end of his cane.
In Victoria's mind, the whole scene seemed to slow down, her attention focussing only on the three people in front of her. The sounds of the battle between their Pokemon and the Minder's were audible in the distance, but Victoria tuned them out as she processed what had happened. Gwenda had come out of nowhere, possibly watching the fight unfold from the safety of the trees and coming in when the time seemed right. She appeared in a second and had fallen by the next, and Victoria knew it was her fault: she had reacted to the sight of her friend, and her shocked look had caused the Minder to react in return. It was a painful thought but Victoria knew it was true, and stared down at her oldest friend, trying hard to hold tears in as she stared down at her limp body.
But Victoria knew the blame lay with the Minder as well.
Once again, her actions had led to him committing injury or murder. It seemed that every where Victoria went, everywhere she visited or lingered in or travelled on, and even though he had committed heinous acts of terror, seeing Gwenda and Andrew laying there was what set Victoria off. She had dragged them into this journey after all, and alone the three of them had survived against all that the Minder had put them through. Now that there was a chance she had lost them too, Victoria had no idea what to feel or say: she could now be alone, left to fight the Minder by herself with all the guilt left on her shoulders. Victoria wanted to end this, put the whole nasty situation behind her one way or another, but could she do it without the support of her friends?
"Well," the Minder said after only a minute of silence, though to Victoria it felt like an hour, turning away from Gwenda with his familiar smile creeping back onto his face, "it looks like it's just going to be me and you for this then, doesn't it?" Victoria turned to face him, anger coursing through her body unlike anything she had ever felt before, staring at the Minder with rage she knew she couldn't control. This was the same anger she had felt deep within the Johto Jewel, only moments before hundreds of lives were taken away as a result of the Minder's actions.
"I believe so," Victoria hissed back, putting as much venom into each syllable as she possible could. "I guess that means we might as well end things now then, doesn't it?" And believe the Minder, or indeed Victoria herself, knew what was happening, she was running forwards. Victoria was taken aback by the fact she was actually acting, always using her Pokemon or Andrew to fight for her since the cruise ship explosion, but she was letting her emotions run free, and she was ready to show the Minder the pain she had felt for all these years, but mostly for these last days.
The Minder was so shocked that he didn't defend himself, and Victoria had an open shot at swinging the suitcase around, smashing it against his shoulder. The aging man was knocked aside, nearly tripping over Gwenda, but managed to regain himself and raised his cane in defence as Victoria swung once more. Victoria knew in the back of her mind that a suitcase was not a proper weapon, but it was the only one she had close at hand, and her anger at the feeble man before her was enough to put some force behind the otherwise flimsy device.
"Foolish girl," the Minder hissed as he swung his cane again, whacking it against Victoria's arms as he took a step forwards, forcing her to step backwards. "You think you can defeat me with some luggage? I always knew you blacks were never that smart, but this is just plain idiocy." Victoria struggled to ignore the hurtful remark, but every word he uttered simply made her want to get her revenge faster.
"I always knew you were a foul, intolerable piece of vermin, but I didn't think you would be stupid enough to insult someone that very much wants to kill you," Victoria hissed, and she thrust her suitcase forwards. The Minder stood his ground and held his cane up across his body like a shield, trying to resist the force Victoria was putting into pushing the suitcase forwards.
"You have more strength than I expected," the Minder grunted, struggling to hold her off and move her forwards at the same time. "It seems all those days working at Miltank Meadows have done you some good: why don't you come back with me and see how stronger you can get."
"I'd sooner die than go back there," Victoria roared, and she pulled the suitcase back and force it forwards with all the energy and power she could muster, the face of Arthur, the boy she had watched being tortured, flashing before her. The Minder held his cane strong and steady, taking the break to step forwards and try to push her backwards, but was left stunned as the suitcase collided with the cane once more, but this time there was a resounding crack that snapped throughout the silent night.
Victoria stepped backwards, breathing furiously as she stared towards the cane, the Minder staring down at his weapon as well. It had not cleanly snapped in two, but the cane had definitely snapped to a point, barely holding on by splinters and now rendered useless. The Minder looked slowly up, and Victoria could see the shock in his eyes: one of his only weapons now damaged, one of his slaves finally getting an upper hand over him. She savoured every moment that their eyes met, Victoria staring across at her once tormenter, this strike filling her with such joy that she nearly began to laugh in the way he had always laughed at them.
"Oh, you think this is funny, do you?" The Minder said with a hiss, the frustration at this small defeat clear across his wizened face. "Let's see if you'll laugh at this," and with strength that Victoria had never expected of the elderly man, he twisted his cane and finished snapping the cane into two sharp pieces. Victoria stopped laughing in shock, never expecting the Minder to be able to do this, and was left in stunned silence as he began to walk forwards.
"You truly are a fool," he growled, swinging the broken pieces of cane and forcing Victoria to move backwards to avoid it. "You really thought you could get away with escaping my grasp, didn't you? You seriously thought three mindless slaves and a Miltank would be able to escape me? Did you ever for a second stop and think how stupid you are, or did your own self confidence keep you going, even after the Johto Jewel sank to the bottom of the Slateport Harbour, or the 118 Ferry exploded before your very eyes?"
"Of course I knew this was a stupid risk!" Victoria snapped back, holding the suitcase up like a clumsy shield as the Minder furiously beat the cane against it. "A day hasn't gone by where I regret leaving, regret putting my friends and innocent people through this all, but I manage to keep going. I keep going because I have the chance of wishing this all away and stopping anyone else from getting harmed!" Victoria's words rang out and she swelled with pride, but it deflated as like a popped balloon as the sharp wooden cane broke through the surface of the suitcase, the Minder tearing it away and sending clothes and books cascading to the ground. Victoria was taken aback and didn't notice as the Minder drove the broken wood into her arm.
"No!" Victoria whimpered as she flinched with pain, blood pouring down her dark skin and coming down across her dress and onto the ground. The Minder flashed a smile of yellow teeth, and he swung the other point, cutting the end across Victoria's forehead and knocking her to the ground. The suitcase landed with a dull thud as Victoria's head crashed into the hard ground, blood pouring from the cut but managing to stay conscious.
"Did you go through all of this just to come to this festival?" The Minder asked as he stared down at Victoria, and he began to laugh once more. It was cruel and cold, but there was a genuine laugh behind it as if this was the funniest thing he had ever heard. "I've chased you across all of Hoenn, killed all those people and fought you so many times, and you simply wanted to wish all you problems away on a magical Pokemon floating in the skies?" His laugh began to echo across the empty field, ringing out even above the dramatic sounds coming from the Pokemon battle that was happening behind Victoria. She looked up at the Minder, struggling to ignore the pain, feeling her consciousness on the verge of slipping away, his laughter adding more insult to injury as she lay weakly at his feet. She couldn't see straight, a strange blue blur appearing in the sky above her, wondering if she was close to death. Victoria wanted to fight back, she wanted to finally defeat the vicious man that had made so many years of her life hell and ruined her dreams in this last cruel way. All the rage that had built up over the past days, weeks, months and years… she wanted to let it out and finally give the Minder the punishment he deserved.
But all she could do was laugh.
The Minder took a few moments to notice, but when he realised his cold, heartless laugh wasn't the only sound cutting through the darkness, he froze and stared back down at Victoria as her softer, warmer laugh sounded above his. It was a truly heartbreaking sight as Victoria laughed with tears and blood streaming down her face, the sadness clear behind the joy, and the Minder was thrown: he had no idea why she was doing this, and he stared down at her in confusion and, even though he didn't want to think it, pity.
"Whatever are you laughing about?" He hissed, the words snapping out as Victoria continued to laugh, opening her teary eyes to look up at him, that strange blur still visible in the corner of her eyes.
"When you put it like that," Victoria replied breathlessly, "it all sounds hilarious! Your right, you're absolutely right! How were we supposed to stop you? It all just seems so pointless now, doesn't it? All three of us are laying here on the ground now, and there is nothing we can do to stop you now, is there?" Victoria continued to laugh, though it sounded more like a whimper now, unable to control herself as the blood flowed from her body. "I took on a monster with a suitcase and a couple of dreams, and look where that's gotten me. Hundreds of people are dead because of this trip, and it's all my fault…" The laughter stopped now, and Victoria glanced up at the Minder with tears in her eyes, feeling herself slipping away. "My dying wish is that I can bring back those lives lost because of me, stop the pain these families must be feeling, and cross my fingers and hope I can die now with a clear conscience, knowing I have righted my wrongs."
"How sweet," the Minder purred coldly once she had stopped talking, and slowly leaned forwards, his old age preventing him from simply getting down, and grasped onto the broken edge of the cane. Victoria gasped as he pulled it out, and her body began to shake as more blood spurted out as a result, though the Minder didn't care as it began to stain his clothes. "I hope those words have made you feel better, but it doesn't matter whether your mind is clear or not. You are going to die now, and there is nothing you can do about it." He raised the broken cane up in his hands, Victoria's blood dripping from it onto her heart, and with his other the Minder grasped onto his whip which he had tucked into his pants, the leather unfolding down near Victoria's eyes. "I am going to torture you now and make you pay for all the trouble you've put me through, than I am going to butcher out your heart as it continues to beat and take it back to Miltank Meadows and hammer it into the wall as a nice little message for any future rebels. Goodbye Miss Freeman, I will miss you once you're dead." Victoria shut her eyes, the blue blur disappearing as she did so, and tensed up for the first blow, tears continuing to mix with her blood. She knew that this was it, and she knew her last thought would be for all the innocent lives that had been lost and how she had led her friends to their deaths, never reaching her dreams in the end…
"I don't think so."
With those four angry words, everything changed.
Victoria opened her eyes in shock as the trees around them suddenly burst into flame, watching as a bleeding and pale Andrew wrapped his arm around the Minder's throat right above her. The Minder screamed and roared, angrily kicking the suitcase and sending the last of its contents scattering into the night. Victoria used her good left arm to drag herself away from the fight, confused as too what was happening, but unable to take her eyes of the fight occurring before her: the young, fit but injured Andrew choking the aging but vicious Minder, fury burning through his body as he took up the fight Victoria had been unable to finish.
"SKAAAAR!" A metallic cry rang out, and Victoria looked up to the sky and the strange blue blur as Skarmory soared overhead, yellow electricity exploding from her back. She turned around, and Victoria saw in shock that Electrike was hanging on for dear life, his Electric attacks exploding against her back and firing off into the trees. Victoria looked around and saw the other Pokemon were advancing forwards, Petal and Trapinch putting everything they had against the silver bird, while Millicent, Apollo and Scarlett were locked in combat with Kadabra, the Psi Pokemon continuing to Teleport and lead them towards the fight. A Graveller was suspended in mid air above Apollo, and Victoria could only presume it was the Minder's now evolved Geodude, knocked out during the battle and now used as a weapon.
The sudden change was all so confusing, and Victoria was struggling to stay conscious as she lost more and more blood. She looked down and saw that items from the suitcase now lay around her, with the hedge clippers to one side and her hand mirror on the other, clothes and books left there like someone had purposefully discarded them. Victoria loosely clutched hold of the remnants of her journey, the Minder's words still playing on her mind as the furious battle exploded around her.
"Victoria…," a feeble groan sounded out to the side, and Victoria turned around in shock to find Gwenda trying to walk towards her, but the blood from her head wound was coming down her neck like a wine coloured waterfall, and she was struggling to make it the last few metres.
"Gwenda!" Victoria gasped, though her voice was weak as well. She tried to stand in order to help her friend, but the loss of blood merely made Victoria feel woozy at the thought of trying, and she collapsed back down to her knees. Gwenda managed the last few steps before falling down as well, the blow softened by a pile of their older dresses beneath her.
"Oh Gwenda, did you have to try and strike him?" Victoria asked sadly, wiping some of the blood away from her friend's head. Gwenda merely smiled nervously, seeming as close to unconsciousness as Victoria was.
"It was worth a try, wasn't it?" She mumbled, looking up at her friend's face. "Once that Mr Goods had run away, I heard the explosion and was knocked down. When I got up, there you two were, fighting it out with words, and I felt that as long as you were keeping him distracted, than I might as well give it a go."
"And we might not be bleeding to death if you had," Victoria replied with a smile, knowing that she would have succeeded if she hadn't reacted. She glanced up towards where that strange blue blur seemed to keep appearing, wishing she could be up in the stars right now and not stuck in the middle of a battle. "Oh Gwenda, how did we end up like this? This was supposed to be the dream, wasn't it? Make it to the Star Festival and wishing all our problems away…," Victoria glanced around, taking in the two dramatic Pokemon battles and the continuing fight between Andrew and the Minder, the flaming trees and the ruined stalls and buildings in the distance. "Some wish this turned out to be…"
"TAKE THAT!" The crack of a whip cut through the night, and Victoria and Gwenda both turned towards the sound. The Minder had managed to break free of Andrew, and was now thrashing his whip against his bare arms that were raised up in protection of his face. The sound brought back distant memories of Miltank Meadows, memories Victoria wished she didn't have, and tears began to stream once more as she stared across at Andrew, blood pouring from his arms.
"You children are the most foolish creatures I have ever met!" The Minder roared, a vicious and psychotic look on his face as he brought the sharp leather smashing against Andrew's skin once more. "You will pay for hurting me! You will pay for all of the trouble you have put me and Edmund through! I will turn your corpses into scarecrows and leave your decrypted bodies planted in the ground for as long as I shall live!"
"You will do no such thing!" Andrew hissed back through his arms, trying to stand upright as he lost more and more blood. "I wish… no, I know, that Victoria, Gwenda and I will live long and happy lives while you will rot in the ground like the foul monster you are! No more harm will come to us tonight! We have survived you all this time, and we will survive you again tonight!"
"We shall see about that!" The Minder shouted, and he swung the whip around again, bringing it crashing five times against Andrew's skin. He tried to stay upright, but the ex slave came down to his knees, his arms stained red with blood.
"NO!" Victoria cried, and she tried to stand once more, but this only had the same effect as last time. She could only watch as the Minder approached Andrew, the Pokemon preoccupied by Skarmory and Kadabra to do anything, leaving him at the cruel man's mercy…
"Victoria….," Gwenda whispered hoarsely, and Victoria turned to face her with tears streaming down her face. Her friend's skin was beginning to lighten from the loss of blood, and there was a sad look in her eyes as if she knew what was coming. "I am not going to make it Victoria, I've lost too much blood, I can feel myself going."
"No Gwenda, don't say that, you can't say that!" Victoria gasped, clutching her friend's hands. "I need you with me, you can't die now, not after all we've been through!"
"I am truly sorry, but I know I am not going to make it," Gwenda said, her voice shaking as her own tears began to fall. "But before I go, I just want to make a wish, just in case Jirachi hears it, so I know this has all been worthwhile." Victoria began to sob at this, not quite sure what to say or think, but simply nodded and clutched her friend's hand tighter, urging her on. "I wish… I wish that this was all over… I wish that no one else has to feel the pain that the Minder and the Parrish's put us through. I just wish that this is all over, and you and Andrew get the chance to live a happy life."
"Y-y-you aren't going to die G-Gwenda… you can live happily ever after with us!" Victoria sobbed, unable to control herself. Yet she knew that both of them were bleeding to death, and it was a miracle they hadn't died yet. None of them would get to live the happy life they had always dreamed of, and this only made Victoria sob harder as she thought of losing Gwenda and Andrew permanently.
"If you die, than I'm dying with you," Victoria cried, and she pulled Gwenda into a hug, clutching onto her tightly as if they would die together this way, unable to die apart due to the strong bond between them. Both girls cried, and Victoria struggled to see through the tears and the blood, wishing she could die now before the Minder took them.
That was when she saw his reflection.
Though it was blurred from the different liquids staining her vision, Victoria gasped as she looked down into the hand mirror lying below: the Minder was right behind them, a psychotic look in his eyes and the broken piece of cane held high. Gwenda suddenly screamed, and Victoria moved as quickly as her injuries allowed: the hug broke apart as she pushed Gwenda out of the way, and then Victoria rolled to avoid the Minder.
"It will take a lot more than rolling to avoid me!" He laughed as he loomed over them both, trying to decide which one to take first. Victoria came to a stop, her hands grasping onto something cold lying on the ground below her. "I think I will kill you Victoria: I have always wanted you to watch your friends die, but I think killing you will be just too much fun to wait!" And the Minder brought the broken cane slashing down, aiming directly for her back. However, he didn't anticipate Victoria to roll over, and he didn't expect her to have hedge clippers grasped in her hand.
Every face she had ever seen get harmed due to the Minder and Edmund Parrish flashed before Victoria's eyes: Arthur, Grace, the passengers on the ship, the crew, the kindly maid, people waiting in line for the ferry, Jim, bleeding and screaming passengers, every slave she had ever met during her time on the farms, and finally Gwenda and Andrew, their dying, injured faces at the front of her mind. And with levels of rage and fury Victoria had never felt before, she plunged the hedge clippers through the Minder's chest and directly into where his heart should be.
For one fleeting moment, Victoria felt a sense of joy and satisfaction she had not experienced for many years: staring up as the Minder as his eyes bulged out, feeling his blood pour down onto her chest, knowing with pure satisfaction that he would soon be dead.
Yet after that moment had passed, Victoria realized a strange feeling in her chest. For a second, she thought it might just be the Minder's blood coming down her body, and stared down to confirm. Only than did she register a stranger feeling, and her own eyes stuck out as she saw the very tip of his cane sticking out of her chest, directly above her own heart. Seeing it seemed to make her mind go faster, her body suddenly reacting to having a broken piece of wood in her chest: the feeling exploded across her body, the sharp, stinging sensation spreading throughout her entire body.
Victoria and the Minder stared into each other's dying eyes, and while the fact she was dying was a lot for Victoria to take in, she took pleasure in knowing that if she was going down, she was at least taking him down with her.
She shut her eyes as the darkness began to set in, Victoria finally ready to find her freedom.
There are only two parts left to the entire series! I hope you found the death satisfying, but what is going to happen with Victoria?
Oh wow, what a thrilling conclusion.
I don't think Victoria is gonna make it but at the same time, when I think about everything the three of them went through, they really do deserve a happy ending. And no matter how realistic this story seems to be, they really do deserve a happy ending - for the sake of everything they went through and each and every little bit of pain they suffered from.
That's just my opinion, I have high hopes on the ending.
I am glad you enjoyed the conclusion. There are still two parts left, so there is still a chance to see if their happiness comes through or not ;)
Chapter Thirty Eight: Wish
You have travelled a long way child, and you have conquered many challenges. It seems unfair that you should be going now.
Victoria still had her eyes shut, and she could still feel the hard ground and cold grass on her back, and she could still feel the many wounds across her body, the strongest and most painful coming from her chest. Yet Victoria felt as if she was dead: the eerie voice that sounded around her sounded as if it was far away, echoing around her like in a cave, and there was blue light burning through her eyelids. A calm feeling covered her body, and Victoria simply felt as if she was dead, finally departing her life behind.
Tell me child, the voice said, and Victoria paid more attention to it this time: cold but kind, soft yet powerful, young but wise, more feminine than masculine. Child, do you wish to live?
"What do you mean?" Victoria asked, her eyes remaining shut yet she tried to look around for the source of the voice, having no idea if it was close or far away.
I thought it was a simple question, the voice replied, sounding confused herself. I can give you back your life as it has now fallen within my powers, but I am going to give you the option: do you want to go back to your friends, or do you want to pass on to the other side? Victoria was shaken by this, the calm feeling fading away. She was being given a choice that was bigger than anything she had ever had to deal with her in life, something that would not usually be up to her to make.
"I… I don't know…," Victoria replied, feeling somehow ashamed of herself for saying it. "I mean, I would love to go back to be with Andrew and Gwenda… I couldn't imagine spending any time away from them, or Millicent or Apollo or Scarlett or any of the other Pokemon… but I do not think I am worthy of going back."
Whatever makes you say this child? The voice asked, sounding puzzled. You have not done anything that means you should die at such a young age. You killed Albert Montgomery, or The Minder as you knew him, and I believe riding the world of such an evil man deserves –
"But I am evil!" Victoria yelled out, feeling tears brewing up. "It is my fault all of those people died on the Jewel, the ferry, the train, Jim! I bet people died tonight because of the explosion and the fire, and I can imagine that innocent slaves have been killed due to our escaping, which was all my plan!"
You did not kill these people yourself, the voice replied, you were not the one to murder them, you did not force the Minder to derail the train or blow up the ferry.
"What about the Jewel?" Victoria replied tearfully. "It was Millicent's Bide that set off the explosion, I just know it! You can't blame the Minder for that one, can you?" She shouted back, though in the back of her mind she thought that he could be blamed, having chased Gwenda down there to where Victoria and Andrew lay waiting and unexpecting…
Silence followed her words, and Victoria wondered what the voice was thinking, what it was going to say. She could feel the tears going down her face now, and Victoria knew that she deserved to die. There was no way she could live with herself knowing what role she had played in so many deaths. It would only eat away at her until she finally snapped, possibly ending her life soon enough any way.
I cannot bring back the lives that were lost Victoria, the voice said at last, but I can bring back yours, and your wish still has not been fulfilled. Think of Andrew, Gwenda, Millicent and the others you talk of missing: imagine what pain they will feel to lose their friend right when this whole horrible mess has come to an end for you. The deaths would have been in vain if you give up on your wish right when you have just made it. You owe it to those lives that have been lost to fulfil your wish and the wishes of your friends.
"But I do not think I can live with the guilt," Victoria replied.
I can deal with that: it falls under your wish after all, the voice said with a slight smirk in its voice. But do not give up now Victoria Freeman: go back, go back and see your wish and your friend's wishes come true, and live your life to honour those that were lost. This was your quest for freedom and salvation, do not give up on your quest now when it is almost over. Victoria was moved by the words, the tears continuing to stream as her mind battled it out: she couldn't leave, yet she felt as if she had to. Could Victoria truly leave them all behind? Gwenda, Millicent, Apollo, Scarlett, Petal, Electrike, Trapinch… Andrew.
She felt a pain in her heart that had nothing to do with the Minder or the broken cane that had been wedged there, and Victoria got her answer.
I thought as much, the voice said with a hint of a laugh, and Victoria said gasped for breath. The calming feeling turning changed in a second; her body began to feel like it was being compressed, almost as if she was being forced through a tiny gap. Her eyes were forced open, and Victoria wanted to shut them the moment they did, the blue light nearly blinding her. She stared into it in pain, wanting to scream out by the sound never coming. Her head was racing, and Victoria wondered if she actually was being saved or continuing her quest to death. The only thing she could see was a blurry figure in a darker blue in the distance, something that looked almost like an eye casting a beam down towards her…
"Jirachi?" Victoria whispered, her heart suddenly skipping in joy.
Than her world turned white.
Victoria finally shut her eyes, the scream built up in her throat finally coming up. She felt as if her body was being torn apart and her mind was in a completely different frame. Cold, icy pain was all she could feel stabbing into her body, and she felt sick as her body spun around and around, more screams sounding around her as the white burnt through her eyelids. Victoria had no idea what was going on, even if that scene had really happened or if it was all some painful hallucination before she died, but all she knew was that she wanted it to be over one way or another.
And after what felt like hours, Victoria's body smashed into solid ground.
A shudder went through her entire body as the spinning and pain stopped, the white light disappearing and the screams being replaced by the general noise of busyness. Victoria opened her eyes, breathing hysterically as she looked up to the open sky above. It was dark and dotted with stars, but there was nothing to tell her if she was still in Lilycove City, nothing to say she hadn't been teleported to some far off land. There were groans near her, and shouts sounded from the distance, and Victoria forced herself to lean forwards, clutching her head and wondering what the hell had happened.
"Victoria!" An excited cry rang out behind her, and Victoria looked around before she had even sat up straight. Gwenda was running towards her, with Millicent close behind, and Victoria smiled the widest one she could: her friends were still alive, and that meant that she was as well. Her hands rose up to her chest, feeling around for any sign of what had just happened, but even her dress remained unscarred from the attack. It was as if nothing had even happened, and a feeling of dread suddenly began to settle over her.
"Oh Victoria, your alive!" Gwenda cried, flinging her arms around her friend, her own head appearing unharmed as well. "When the Minder stabbed you I thought it was all over, and Andrew and I began to cry, but than all I could see was white, just endless white light. I began to spin around and around, I had no idea what was happening, but than I landed, and… and… here we are!"
"Where are we?" Victoria whispered, and Gwenda's hug weakened at her friend's lack of excitement. Victoria wanted to be happy and dance with joy as well, but there was something familiar about where they were and she couldn't quite recognise it. As the other Pokemon came around and gathered around Millicent, Victoria caught sight of a live and well Andrew walking past, completely ignoring them. She turned after him, wondering what he was going towards, and then she saw it.
A dark green hedge towered above them all and stretched on for kilometres, and directly in front of them was a large hole, broken bricks laying everywhere as if something had exploded. Victoria began to shake as she turned around, following the sight of the train tracks they were sitting on, and in the distance, down a hill, was a large stone harbour entering the sea.
They were back at Miltank Meadows.
"No!" Victoria hissed, beginning to shake more violently and clasping onto Gwenda for support. She had nearly died and had only come back in order to live a new life, not to come back to this. "No, we can't be here, we can't!" Andrew walked closer to the hole as Gwenda began to shake as well, and Victoria wondered what he was doing as she wondered why they were back here. "Andrew, get away from there, they will recognise you!" She hissed, wondering if any of this had truly happened and it wasn't just one big hallucination. Yet Andrew turned around with a smile on his face, a grin similar to one he had worn down in the Johto Jewel's boiler room.
"Come here!" He whispered excitedly, his voice carrying on the sea breeze. "You have to see this!" Victoria's head was beginning to throb in confusion from all that had happened, yet there was too much happiness on Andrew's face and in his voice to think it was bad. She and Gwenda rose together, and they held hands as they led their Pokemon forwards, edging towards the hole that led onto the nightmarish fields, wondering what scene could be unfolding.
The result was something Victoria could only wish for.
Before them many slaves stood, still wearing the same dirty clothes they had worn only a short time ago, yet there seemed to be less people there, Victoria wasn't sure. They were all facing towards the Parrish's house, all eyes focussed on whatever was unfolding, yet there was an excited feeling in the air Victoria had never experienced before here. It was as if the slaves were actually happy…
Victoria turned towards the house herself, and there the answers lay: a metal police wagon was waiting outside the house, drawn by two magnificent Rapidash, the door wide open. A group of blue and black clothed officers were ushering two burly men inside, and Victoria's face lit up when she saw that it was Victor and Marvin yelling and flailing their way into the wagon.
"This can't be true!" Gwenda gasped, her nails digging into Victoria's hand. "After all of this, why is this only happening now?"
"Because we wished it," Victoria whispered, and it all began to make sense now. It had been Jirachi that had saved her life, and she had only done it because Andrew had wished so: I wish… no, I know, that Victoria, Gwenda and I will live long and happy lives … No more harm will come to us tonight! His wish had come before Victoria had been harmed, and his wish had allowed Jirachi to heal them, to save Victoria from her wound.
Yet Gwenda's wish had done more: I wish… I wish that this was all over… I wish that no one else has to feel the pain that the Minder and the Parrish's put us through. Somehow, her words had allowed Jirachi to unveil the pain that was happening behind these walls, and now it was all over… the cycle of pain had stopped. All the slaves standing before them were free.
"LET ME GO!" A cruel and vicious voice sounded in the night, and Edmund appeared from around the wagon, kicking angrily as officers led him away. "YOU WILL NOT GET AWAY WITH THIS! I HAVE FRIENDS, I WILL BE FREE! I WILL BE BACK, AND I WILL KEEP ALL THESE SLAVES HERE WITH ME! DO YOU HERE ME? NONE OF YOU ARE FREE, NONE OF YOU SHALL LIVE!" The so-called farmer roared and yelled, yet all the angry words in the world couldn't prepare him for what he saw as his eyes glanced towards the hole. Edmund fell silent, both vocally and physically, as he saw Victoria, Gwenda, Andrew and their Pokemon standing by the hole. All eyes turned towards them, and suddenly the trio found themselves in the center of attention as the slaves whispered to one another with excited looks in their eyes, wondering aloud to each what the trio had down since their escape and what had brought them back here.
As soon as their eyes fell upon them, Victoria felt something in the pockets of her dress. She reached in, having never noticed them before, and her own eyes bulged as her fingers clasped onto cold yet moist metal. Victoria managed a smile, and she pulled the blood splattered hedge clippers out and threw them onto the grass, knowing that this was part of Jirachi's wish to them.
"The Minder is dead, that killed him," Victoria yelled across the night. "This is over Edmund. Not a single slave will ever be forced to work her again after tonight: everyone here is free from your rule." Her words rang out just as his had, and Edmund began to yell in anger once more. But this time his cries were drowned out: the slaves all began to cheer, and Victoria swelled up with pride. She left the clippers on the ground as she led the others forwards, smiling well and truly for the first time since getting on the train. Pure happiness and joy flowed through her body as she watched Edmund get thrown into the wagon with his sons, and looked around at all the smiling faces around her. Tonight, not only had she got her freedom, but so had Gwenda, Andrew and every other slave within these walls, and the Parrish's were finally getting what they deserved. It was exactly what Victoria had always wanted.
"VICTORIA!" Victoria turned around at the cry, and the slaves parted to let the speaker through. Victoria and Gwenda both gasped at the sight of Grace Parrish's face: she had black eyes and a split lip, with cuts down her cheeks and arms, walking with an odd limp. However, the wife of Edmund was all smiles as she approached them, though Victoria wasn't sure why.
"It is ever so wonderful to see you three again!" Grace cried, beaming as she looked across at the trio. "Things have been bad for quite some time. The slaves revolted and Edmund was unable to control them. Than, only a short time ago, one of those new automobiles crashed through the wall that had not been repaired properly after you left. The police saw the state of things when they arrived, and now everything is changing!"
"We can see that," Victoria mumbled, watching as the Rapidash's lead the three men away. Edmund was still yelling and cursing behind the bars, leering his face out at them as he passed, but no one was afraid of him anymore. He was just one man, all the power and control he had once had fading away as he was taken off into the night.
"You must tell us about your journeys!" Grace cried as the slaves began to dance and sing around them, many of them racing out behind the wagon to experience the outdoors for the first time in years. "We have all wondered where you went and what you were doing, and we would love to hear any tales you have to tell!"
"Gwenda, would you mind doing that please?" Victoria asked, turning towards her friend and smiling. Gwenda seemed surprised by this, but nodded, looking around at all the excited grinning faces around her.
"I would be honoured," she replied with a beam, and Victoria smiled back before turning towards Andrew. They had not properly spoken face to face since entering Lilycove City in what felt like weeks ago, yet here they both were, somehow looking better and brighter, smiles across both their faces.
"Can we talk please, somewhere private?" Victoria asked, and Andrew nodded instantly, grasping her hand and leading her through the crowd. Many of the dancing and joyful slaves parted to let them go, and Victoria was amazed to find that they were heroes, icons amongst their equals, their eyes fill of respect for the three that escaped, survived and helped bring down the tyrannical dictatorship they were all trapped in. It was a joyful feeling, and Victoria thought it would burn all night.
However, once she and Andrew had broken through the masses, they came across something that had not been there when they left. Victoria looked up and down the farm in shock at the row of new trees planted before them. They were only stick thin and scarcely leafed at the moment, but one day they would tower above them all and be wider than their bodies, every branch covered with leaves. Victoria could tell they were freshly planted, and she knew that Edmund would have never allowed it to happen. There was only one possible solution, and it tugged at heart as she thought of what Jirachi had said.
"Victoria?" Andrew whispered, and she turned around, snapping out of her emotional state. Victoria calmed down as she looked at him, taking in his kind eyes, his soft skin, the way he smiled, just his general beauty. Yet there was more to him than just looks: he was kind and loyal, ready to fight for her until the bitter end and risk his own life to save her, and Andrew had stuck by her for all this time, even when she didn't deserve it.
"I love you," Victoria whispered, moving a step closer. "I've loved you since before we left on this journey, and my love for you has only grown stronger. I should have told you earlier, but I couldn't bring myself to say it when my own guilt weighed down on me like bricks. Yet when I saw the Minder holding you with blood coming down your head, I knew right then that I couldn't live without you, there is no way I could spend a second without you, and I knew then for certain that I loved you and nothing else mattered." Andrew smiled another handsome, beautiful smile, and Victoria felt weak at the knees as he stepped towards her.
"I love you too," he whispered, and leaned towards her. Their lips locked together, and Victoria wrapped her arms around him as they embraced for all their life. There were cheers from the crowd, both happy and teasing, but Victoria didn't care as she gazed into Andrew's eyes.
It was all over. She, Andrew and Gwenda had survived, and they were no longer trapped in a nightmarish world run by Edmund and the Minder. Finally, they could feel happy and enjoy life without any threats of violence hanging over their head.
Finally, they were free.
Only the epilogue left now before the series wraps up for good. Sorry if this part was a bit iffy, I wasn't quite sure how to write it, but hopefully it has turned out well enough. Yet the series is nearly over, so prepare to see how it all comes together!
What can I say? I'm happy that it's an happy end! :D
I'll leave my full thoughts on the story for the epilogue. ;)
Part Six: Epilogue
May 10th 1915
It did not take long for things to change at Miltank Meadows, and after five years, it looked an entirely different place.
As soon as her husband and sons were sentenced, Grace Parrish was allowed to take control of the farm. She had pleaded guilty to being an accessory to illegally keeping slaves, yet Victoria, Gwenda, Andrew and dozens of others gave her outstanding character statements, and the way she had been abused got her off with only a small fine.
She quickly set to work, with help from Victoria, Gwenda and Andrew, to making large changes. The wall was torn down and replaced with a sturdy fence, letting the entire world see the farm that had once been so mysteriously hidden away. The bricks from the wall were used to make huts, complete with proper bathrooms and kitchens, for any workers that wished to stay. Lucifer's Cage was turned into a storage facility, whilst
The Shack, the vicious torture chamber, and the Minder's hut were torn down and used as firewood. The Parrish's house was expanded, with another floor constructed over a one year period and the bottom and exterior refurbished, turning it into a comfortable farm house painted ocean blue with white walls and windows.
But the biggest change had to be the people. Though many of Edmund's funds had been seized and business lost after the revelation, Victoria and Andrew worked hard to drum up new people to work there and more money in order to pay each farm hand who passed through the large steel gates. Though many slaves left to find new homes and work, Grace was taken aback when around half of them stayed, ready to experience some proper skills and get paid for their hard work.
Anyone could tell the atmosphere had changed at Miltank Meadows, with proper accommodation, proper food provided, a decent pay depending on the work done, and just a general joyful air that washed anyway any foul memories of the past. It was now a friendly place working towards becoming a great haven for anyone of any colour to work at, and it was easy to now call the farm Home.
Victoria Freeman stared across her new home, a smile creeping onto her face.
It had been a hard five years getting Miltank Meadows back to its feet and clearing the terrible and horrific image it had been associated with, but things were starting to change. They were making more money now then ever before, especially considering their workers actually got paid now, and the environment was a lot happier. She could see Andrew herding Mareep with the help of his Manectric, Gwenda and Millicent teaching some new milk maids how to properly milk a cow, and Grace was helping sort out difficulties involving an angry Tauros. Even Judith Parrish, now thirteen, was helping to pot plants alongside those she still referred to as 'slaves' under the watchful eye of Petal the Roserade.
It will take time for her to change, Victoria thought, watching the still little girl working hard in the distance. Everyone has to adjust to these changes, not just her… I am sure she will come around in time. Victoria sighed, leaning against the open window, staring at the farm with a sadder gaze in her eyes.
She herself had had a difficult time adjusting. It was quite odd being forced into the spotlight, having dozens of people come up to you at once and try and get you to recount your story. Victoria had enjoyed it the first few times, but after repeating the same tale over and over again, her guilt merely grew, finding it difficult to talk about the many deaths and tales of destruction in a way that would please the masses.
Victoria was glad that Andrew and Gwenda had agreed to stay with her when she said she would stay at Miltank Meadows and help Grace reinvent. She couldn't have done so without them standing by her side, helping make decisions, helping trying to recruit people, helping to tell their tale to ensure they got a better image for the farm. Victoria wanted to stay here and knew that she had to, but there was no way she would have pulled through without her best friend and her love beside her all the way.
Victoria, are you still up here? A voice echoed in the back of her head, and Victoria turned around, her eyes glistening with tears, finding Apollo wandering around the storeroom they had turned Lucifer's Cage into. Spades, shovels, hoes, bags of food, a broken wheelbarrow and piles of timber and firewood were amongst the many things the Absol manoeuvred around, trying to find his trainer.
"Over here," Victoria called, wiping away her tears and feeling foolish for getting upset. Apollo turned around and smiled, still looking the same he had on the day Victoria had caught him. And, strangely enough, Victoria looked exactly the same as well.
Miss Parrish is looking for you, Apollo said. We thought you'd had an accident. Victoria managed to laugh, and leaned around to grab the bag of food she had been sent up to collect.
"I just got lost in my thoughts, nothing to worry about," she replied with a soft smile. However, Apollo's own smile began to falter, and he gazed at Victoria in a way that made her feel uncomfortable. "What is it?" She asked nervously, but she knew what was happening: Apollo was reading into her thoughts, looking for the truth that her words were not speaking.
You are distracted, as always, Apollo commented, staring hard at his trainer to try and read between the lines. What is always on your mind that bothers you so much? You have been this way for months and I am starting to worry.
"You shouldn't," Victoria said, holding back tears and staring to the window. "If Andrew or anyone else saw you worrying about me, it would get them all worrying as well, and I don't want that or need it." Turning away from Apollo only made the guilt that hovered around her worsen, the whole of the meadows spreading out before her, the rows of trees now edging towards eight metres with their branches beginning to sprout green leaves once more.
Apollo didn't reply to this, and Victoria heard him walk slowly back towards the staircase. She expected him to leave in peace, but his voice stirred once more. Victoria, you cannot keep this guilt hanging with you. They chose their wishes, they chose to stay with you, there is nothing more to it. You need to let this guilt go or you will never be happy. And with that, Apollo descended the stairs, leaving Victoria along once more.
Slowly and silently, she began to weep. Apollo had been correcting in figuring out her faults: guilt still lingered with her, growing and growing each day as she examined the lives of those around her. Victoria had basically promised Gwenda and Andrew wishes of their own, but they had sacrificed them in order to help achieve hers, and they had given up any chances of a better life to stay on the farm with her. What Victoria had done to deserve such wonderful friends she would never know, and why they stayed with her haunted her dreams and nightmares.
And then there were the trees. Victoria knew what they meant from the moment she saw them, and these had been confirmed when Grace said, weeks later, she had no memory of them being planted. Each tree was a reminder, one that Victoria said as almost taunting, and it pained her to look towards them and know what Jirachi had left for her.
"Victoria, are you alright?" Another voice rose up the stairs, and Victoria quickly pulled herself together, wiping away the tears and standing up straight, Pokemon food in hand. She didn't want to worry Andrew, and walked towards him as he came up the stairs.
"I'm fine, don't worry about me," Victoria said with a smile on her face, beaming down at Andrew as he came up. The man of her dreams barely looked a day older than when they had arrived back, the same smile on his face that danced up into his eyes, though he had a stronger tan and had gained more muscle. Victoria thought he looked dashing in his white shirt with half the buttons open, sweat glistening down his chest, and her mind temporarily went elsewhere as she gazed down at him.
"Are you sure?" Andrew asked, trying to stay smiling but giving her a concerned look. "You've just been up here a while, and Apollo looked rather –," but Victoria interrupted him by stepping down and kissing him. Andrew's words caught in his throat and he pulled her forwards into a tight embrace, the Pokemon food crashing to the ground as the lovers kissed each other as if they had been apart for years.
"I watched you herding those Mareep," Victoria said once they made their way down the stairs, Andrew carrying the food easily in one hand and holding hers softly with the other. "Good to see things coming on with those new workers." Andrew smiled back at her and they walked the rest of the way in silence. Victoria could sense that he knew something was truly wrong, but covering his suspicions as she was covering her true feelings. Victoria wanted to voice what was going on inside her head, but she wasn't sure how any of them would react to her true thoughts and notions, and if there was anything for her to properly worry about.
Five minutes later, after getting a ride up on the Tauros driven cart Andrew had come down in, Victoria, Andrew and Apollo walked towards the Milk Shed where Gwenda was minding the milk maids as they started work. Millicent was keeping a watchful eye over them as well, no longer able to produce milk herself but Victoria had insisted on keeping her.
"Mary, Jane, keep up the good work," Gwenda called, trying to sound authoritative as she walked past each stall. "Alice, Melinda, stop gossiping to each other and focus on your work!" She said in a crosser tone at a black and white duo whispering to each other over their Miltank, and Victoria badly stifled a snort at this. Gwenda turned around, the stern look on her face nearly sending Andrew into a fit of giggles as well.
"And what exactly, Miss Freeman and Mr Kingston, is so funny you need to interrupt my lesson?" Gwenda asked stiffly, but this simply pushed the two over the edge. Victoria and Andrew had to lean against each other to stay upright as they began to laugh, unable to control themselves and forgetting where they were. The milk maids began to giggle as well after two minutes, but Millicent gave a sturdy stomp that sent all of them into silence.
"I'm sorry Gwenda," Victoria said, struggling to keep a straight face, "but you just look so funny trying to be all s-s-serious!" She couldn't even get her words out and began laughing once again.
"Please Victoria, your being immature," Andrew tutted, and the girls giggled again at this. Even Gwenda couldn't keep her stern face on, and she managed to smile as well and walked towards her friends, pulling Victoria into a one armed hug.
"Here's a lesson for you girls," Gwenda boomed, her voice echoing around the stables. "Victoria and I started off where you were in a completely different time, and as we milked ol' Millicent here, our friendship strengthened with each day that passed. Look over at your milking buddy: one day, you two could be best friends and be in the same position as us!"
"What, running the place?" A girl called Juliet called out, and everyone began to laugh. Victoria smiled and laughed with the rest of them, but her eyes wandered towards the rows of trees as Gwenda's words washed over her, her arms around both of her best friends.
She would never forget how people had died as a result of their quest, not with Jirachi's reminders growing taller and taller each day that passed, but Victoria knew she would never regret it. Even with her guilt weighing down upon her, Victoria could not forget about what had happened and how much stronger their bonds had grown. She would never forget the Pokemon they had caught and how they had grown, with Andrew's Flygon regularly soaring overhead using Draco Meteor as a fireworks display. She would never forget about Jim and how he had helped them, and she would never forget the places they visited, even if it was brief. And she would never forget the Minder, though the only image she tried to keep of him was the bug-eyed, hopeless look he had when the hedge clippers, now stored in a glass cabinet in the living room, had plunged into his chest.
Victoria loved every moment of her new life, from the new workers they to the Pokemon that made their money, to Grace's smiling, friendly attitude to the beautiful views they now had towards Olivine. She especially loved that Gwenda and Andrew had stayed with her, always remembering how Jirachi had brought her back because she knew the girl could not live without her friends.
Yet the guilt lingered, and Victoria knew it always would, and part of her was pleased for it. She wouldn't want to have forgotten about the people that were sacrificed in their journey, and knew it would have been a selfish and foolish thing to do so anyway. Thw guilt was simply the price of her freedom, and Victoria could accept it. She gazed up to the tops of the trees as the sun shone brightly behind them, and she shut her eyes.
All she could she was white, with one eye floating at her from the distance, a soft voice telling her it was alright: Victoria was right where she should be, and no amount of guilt could take her freedom and happiness away from her.
One way or another, her wish had come true, and that was all she had ever wanted.
Well, there we have it. I hope that all of you that read this story have enjoyed it, through the iffy parts and right up until the end. I have enjoyed writing this story, and even though I don't think it is my finest work, I still love the characters and wish I could have expanded upon them. I have a rough idea for a potential sequel, but I am not sure about it yet so this may be the end. I have plans for them to return in the GalacticVerse anyway, so look out for Victoria, Gwenda and Andrew popping up in the future. Thank you to everyone that has reviewed the story, and thank you to all that have read it and enjoyed it. I hope the ending lived up to your satisfaction, and may all your wishes come true :D (I had to end on something cheesy, right? :P)
Hehe, there were quite a few tiny errors in the epilogue. :P
What can I say? This is a good story, not brilliant, but the way you managed to bring out the realism and harshness of the world as well as make me sympathize with some of the characters was extraordinarily great. I've never really read a story like yours (with such great amount of realism and darkness) and I'm really glad I got to read yours. Though I do wish you expanded on some characters more, I think this was a fitting end. Though I do wonder what kind of a sequel this story would have, now with the Minder gone and everything. Unless he magically survived which would be excruciatingly irritating for me to digest. -.-
Wow, 38 chapters, I gotta give you props for not giving up on it - most writers do. But then again, you're not like the most writers.
Anyway, thank you writing such an incredible story! I look forward to your next installment (whether it's a sequel or not).
What errors were there?
I am glad you like the story. I agree with your statement: I don't think it was my best work, but I did enjoy writing it and I enjoyed the characters, and the main reason why I want to do a sequel is to improve on this story's shortcomings and focus more on the characters. If I do do a sequel, rest assured the Minder won't return, he's dead :P
38 chapters is a lot, but you should see 8ES :P But I am glad I stuck with it, even when sometimes I planned on axing it, so thank you for your kind words :)