Vines of Deceit

BY : Manifest Destiny
Category: Pokemon > General
Dragon prints: 11548
Disclaimer: Disclaimer: I do not own Pokémon. Pokémon is copy write by GameFreak, INC. and Nintendo. I make no money from this story, nor do I seek any. All elements from Equilibrium belong to Skyler. All unique characters and plot lines belong to me.

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Chapter 14: Long Live the King

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There is a question that has been asked by every ground-dweller to ever see a creature take flight. Bearing witness even just once to the freedom of a bird or some winged insect forces and instant and sudden awareness of how trapped they are on the ground. The sky is a plane of existence that is simply outside of their reach. They then begin to wonder what it feels like, what it looks like—what it could mean—to soar through the air and above the clouds. The question that they ask is, of course: “What is it like to fly?”

As he clung to the back of the white dragon Reshiram and felt the cold night air whip at his face, Tristan learned what it was like to fly.

The earth below him felt detached from reality, much like how the sky felt when he walked on the ground. The world had shrunk and he had become a giant. There were no obstacles or barriers in the air. Up in the sky, Tristan realized, freedom was everywhere.

Except right now, he was just along for the ride.

Tristan was a passenger. From the rise and fall of Reshiram’s breathing, to the heavy beats of her wings, to their speed and direction, everything was out of his control.

Ever since the dragon’s revival Tristan wanted nothing more than to run away it. A primal urge that he couldn’t explain welled up within him and demanded that he avoid the incredible beast at any cost. His hands shook against the wind as they gripped onto Reshiram’s feathery fur, conflicting instincts urging him both to hold on and push away.

“Hold tight, now,” Reshiram’s voice carried on back to him. “We have a lot of distance to cover without much time.”

Fighting the constant sensation of falling, Tristan peeked around N further up the beast’s back, and looked at the view ahead of them. Nimbasa City was approaching at such a speed he felt like he was dreaming. It would only be minutes before they were within the city’s limits. He turned around and was able to see Castelia City in the distance as nothing more than a bundle of twinkling lights. Beneath them the sands of the desert sped by, glowing red and orange from the trail of flames left by their target.

“Tristan!” N called over the wind. “I need to borrow your communications device!”

“Why?”

“I do not own one, and word must be sent to aid the city!”

Tristan carefully pulled the XTransceiver from his wrist and handed it to N. Despite not owning a “communications device” himself, N seemed to have no trouble using it.

“Hello, Father? I’m sure you are wondering why I am calling from this number, but there is no time! I have found and resurrected Reshiram but there is an even more pressing matter to attend to. A Volcarona is about to attack Nimbasa City and we will likely need a significant response to prevent a catastrophe.” N held the device close to his ear to listen to the response.

“I’ll ask.” He turned around to Tristan, “Where do you think the Volcarona might be headed? What could draw its attention in the city? My Father needs to know so he can send us help!”

“I don’t know! Nimbasa City has a lot of things going on in it, especially— Wait…” Tristan suddenly remembered something about the time of year and their impending destination. “It’s the fourteenth!”

“What of it? Is the date significant?”

“Of course you don’t know,” Tristan said. “It’s the Master Bowl! The biggest football game of the year! It’s being held in Nimbasa this year! Tonight!”

“Football; large crowds of innocent people in a brightly lit and confined space?” N asked.

“Exactly.”

“Understood.” N returned to yelling into the microphone of the wrist-communicator. “Father, the ‘Master Bowl’ may be the point of interest. What say you?” N listened to the response once again. “Truly?! We will do what we can!”

N handed the device back to Tristan, who was about to ask about the sudden urgency.

“We must hurry! According to my father, television coverage of that event has confirmed your suspicions!” N rubbed the feathers on Reshiram’s neck. “Please, we must stop the beast.”

“Of course,” said the Vast White dragon.

“Wait!” Tristan yelled.

“What is it?” N asked.

“I’m sorry,” Tristan closed his eyes, letting his grip loosen on the dragon’s fur. “I… I can’t ride with you anymore.”

“It appears I do offend, then.

“Surely, not!” N turned around on his dragon’s back, grabbing Tristan’s shoulders. “Come to your senses, my friend! You and I can stop this menace together!”

“I just… I’ll continue on the ground. I just can’t ride on your dragon anymore.”

N stared at Tristan for a moment, deep in thought.

“I believe I understand. Perhaps an alternative then?” N reached behind himself and offered Tristan a Poké Ball. “Sigilyph can fly fast through the air even carrying your weight. It may be wise for you to make it to our location before my dragon and I do, as I need to rendezvous with my Father beforehand.”

“I’ll take it!” Tristan caught the ball N tossed toward him. He stood on Reshiram’s back, readied the Poké Ball, and leapt off into the night air. After an exhilarating moment of free-fall, Tristan released the Pokémon he had been given. The strange winged creature quickly flew down and matched his fall, using its forked limbs to grab Tristan underneath his arms. The Sigilyph’s mind responded to Tristan’s urgency, and brought him back apace with Reshiram and N.

“How do you fare?” N called beside him.

“Better,” Tristan said. It was true; the moment he had leapt from Reshiram’s back, the sense of danger and unease left him. It returned, however, the moment the dragon turned her gaze toward him again.

“Good. Now, fly little dreamer. There are people to save.”

Tristan only nodded and then commanded Sigilyph to fly as fast as it could. He looked back in time to see Reshiram change course, flying off to meet with N’s father, Tristan assumed.

“I never did ask who his father was,” he mused as Nimbasa City came up beneath him. Buildings and roads littered with fresh, burning embers drew his focus back to the task at hand. He only owned three Pokémon—four, if Sigilyph could be considered—and one was out of commission.

Draya, just hold on for a little while longer. I’ll think of something.

Tristan weighed the odds in his head, coming up uneven every time.

“Don’t let me down, N.”

—————

[“Third-and-fourteen on the Liepard’s forty-eight yardline, twenty-six seconds to go in the half!”]

The announcer’s voice rang out over the loudspeakers of Nimbasa City’s Big Stadium, somehow drowning out the roar of the crowd that had filled the sporting arena to capacity. Fans of both the Nimbasa Liepards and the Opelucid Druddigons cheered with all their might as they watched their favorite team compete for the “Donovan Cole Trophy”, the ultimate prize in professional Unovan football.

High above the field in a sectioned-off segment of seats for the rich and famous, a tall man with dirty orange hair yawned as he made his very late arrival to the Master Bowl.

“Whaaa—” another yawn caught him off guard. “What’d I miss?”

“Nearly half the game, sir,” a waiter answered him. “Would you care for a drink?”

The reigning Champion of the Unova region waved the man down, declining the offer.

“I’m not staying long. I only came to see the half-time show anyway,” Alder said. He scratched the stubble on his chin, looking to see how much longer remained in the segment of game-time.

“Not a fan of the sport itself, or did your team not make it this year?” asked a woman. She was sitting in a seat a few rows down from where Alder stood.

“Well, well! Now there’s a pretty face you don’t see every day,” Alder grinned wide as he walked down the steps. “Quite the meeting of the minds, eh Miss Cynthia?”

“I’ll be sure to let you know when another mind joins us.” She kept her eyes on the game in front of her as she spoke to him.

“Oh, you’re too much,” Alder sat in the seat next to the Champion from Sinnoh, laughing loudly. “What brings you to this noisy spectacle?”

“I’ve been traveling these past few months,” said Cynthia. “After I arrived in Unova, I realized I’d never been to one of your region’s football games, so I decided why not go to the biggest one?”

“Traveling for pleasure, then?” Alder turned in his seat to look directly at the blond-haired woman.

“Not at first,” she said, sighing. “I had planned this trip to investigate some old ruins, but I didn’t find anything remarkable or noteworthy other than some rocks in the snow. It was so unremarkable I barely remember any details of my time there.”

“Shame.” Alder crossed his arms, hiding them in the sleeves of his poncho. “Never a shortage of old remnants to explore in Unova. I could take you on a tour, if you like.”

“No, thank you,” she shook her head. “I’d hate to take valuable time away from another region’s Champion.”

“What about your own duties, if I might ask?”

“Sinnoh runs its League on a seasonal circuit,” Cynthia said. “It’s the off-season.”

“But what if some terrible calamity befalls your home while you are away?” Alder asked, embellishing the concern in his voice.

“You tell me,” she said, giving him a sideways glance.

Alder laughed again, stamping his feet on the floor. “Oh you are just an absolute delight!”

[“TOUCHDOWN LIEPARDS!”]

The two Champions’ attention was pulled down back to the game by the loud announcement.

“Yeah!” Cynthia got to her feet, yelling her praise for the home-team.

[“With no time on the clock, they set up for a two-point conversion, trying to close the gap in the score. Here’s the snap! The Druddigon’s defense tries to take down the quarterback, but he throws it into the endzone—And it’s caught!”]

“And that’s the half,” Alder said, leaning back in his seat. “Now the best part of these games is about to start.”

“What is that?” asked Cynthia.

“Oh come on, you should know what the half-time show is.”

“No, that!”

Cynthia was pointing up at a spot on the ceiling of the stadium, which was beginning to glow bright and molten from intense heat. The burning spot in the ceiling grew brighter and spread, sending clumps of red-hot metal and debris onto the field.

“That’s not good. What in the world—?”

The ceiling erupted in an explosion of flames, sending a wave of panic over the crowd. A large fireball flew down into the stadium from the hole in the roof and slowly dissipated, revealing the form of the Sun Pokémon, Volcarona. The television cameramen focused their cameras on the creature, its image appearing on the giant screens around the stadium. The large moth-like Pokémon captured the attention of everyone in the building, momentarily silencing their panicked clamors and screams.

The calm did not last long.

The Volcarona screeched and shook its six wings, scattering fiery scales across the football field. It began to fly around the stadium and spread its burning particles with no remorse or care for the people beneath it.

“It’s… huge.” Alder looked on with eyes wide and disbelief on his face. “I didn’t think that they grew to that size. Khepri never did, but what about Tapati or Roku?”

A slap to his face brought Alder’s attention back to the VIP section and the woman who had hit him.

“What are you doing?” Cynthia asked. “We need to get down there!” The Sinnohan Champion pulled a Poké Ball from her belt and prepared to jump down to the lower section of seats. “Come on! The people are in a panic and we need to make sure they can escape.”

“I… I don’t have any of my Pokémon with me,” Alder admitted, embarrassed. “I didn’t think I’d need any.”

Cynthia grunted in disgust, “Then what good are you?”

Alder looked on as the woman leapt down to a half-empty section of seats and continued her way down toward the field.

“Sorry,” he said, shaking his head. “I couldn’t bear to hurt something so beautiful anyway.” Alder reached into his poncho and held up an empty Poké Ball. It had been empty for years. “Maybe you were related, eh Khepri? Is that your grandma or something making a mess down there?”

Alder smiled at the empty capture device, despite the situation.

“Ah, what the hell?”

He stood, straightened his outfit and looked on at the panicked crowds trying to flee the packed stadium.

“Just because we don’t have any of our team with us, that doesn’t make us useless, right Khepri?”

Alder laughed and jumped down from the VIP section, doing his best to ignore the shock that rocketed up his legs.

“Damn,” he said under his breath. “This is a young-Champion’s game.”

—————

“Careful… Now, take this turn a bit easier!”

Tristan had difficulty controlling his own momentum while being carried through the air by Sigilyph. Being held underneath his arms left most of his body to dangle freely as the psychic Avianoid flew through the city streets after their target.

“Still better than being on Reshiram, I guess,” Tristan said.

The trail of lingering embers didn’t make its way directly to the stadium where the Master Bowl was being held. Tristan saw as they flew above the buildings of Nimbasa that the Volcarona must have wandered around the city for some time before being drawn toward the large sporting event.

Below him, Tristan noticed the roads were crowded with cars driving in the opposite direction of the stadium.

“I hope everyone got out okay.”

As his destination came into view Tristan saw even more people fleeing on foot from Nimbasa’s Big Stadium. A sizable hole could be seen from where the Volcarona had blasted through the roof, the edges of which still smoldered and burned. Sigilyph flew Tristan up to the roof and set him down near the hole. The trainer and Pokémon crept closer to the edge and looked down.

From what Tristan could see, there were still many fans and spectators in various sections of the stadium, either trapped by the many flames scattered about or slowly trying to make their way out through the overcrowded exit-ways. He had trouble spotting the Volcarona at first until it came into view as it dodged some trainer’s valiant effort from the field.

A woman with long blond hair stood next to two Pokémon that Tristan didn’t recognize—a colorful serpent and a reptile covered in spikes.

“Okay… Okay.”

Tristan stepped back from the hole, careful to maintain his balance on the sloped roof.

“What can I do?”

Sigilyph floated in front of him, making a calming chiming noise. The strange flying Pokémon seemed to be encouraging him.

“I just need to stall for time…” Tristan said, nodding. “I have Cole, Jeremiah, and you. You’ll help me, right?”

Sigilyph blinked its single eye and fluttered behind Tristan again, holding the human beneath his arms.

“Okay,” Tristan grabbed his two other Poké Balls from his belt and ran toward the hole in the roof. He jumped down into the stadium, letting Sigilyph take over. The Psychic type Pokémon seemed to be picking up on his plan telepathically, as it took him high above their target without Tristan commanding it.

“Cole, Poison Tail!”

Tristan sent out his Whirlipede from the air, being careful to aim his Pokémon’s release in the path of the Volcarona. Cole fell and spun himself, sending his spines crashing into the Volcarona’s back like a saw blade, causing it to recoil and shake the Whirlipede off. Tristan quickly recalled Cole before he fell to the ground.

The Volcarona turned around and looked up to see who had attacked it, chattering angrily.

“Okay, now we go!”

Sigilyph flew downward at a frightening pace, baiting the Volcarona to follow them.

“You can attack it, right?” Tristan asked the Pokémon carrying him. An upbeat series of tones rang out as a response. “Let’s see,” he pulled his Pokédex from his pocket and quickly looked for what attacks the borrowed Pokémon might know.

“Air Cutter,” Tristan said aloud, but Sigilyph must have taken it as an order, as it immediately turned to face the angered Sun Pokémon that was following them around the stadium.

It flapped its strange, colorful wings in place, sending near-invisible blades of wind toward the speeding Volcarona. The attacks hit their target, sending it reeling back and crashing into an empty section in the stands.

“Alright!” Tristan praised the Sigilyph’s surprise attack. “That looked like it hurt. Hey, fly down to the middle of the field,” he pointed in the direction of the other trainer. “Let’s group up with her.”

When he finally touched down on the turf, Tristan was greeted with admonishment rather than gratitude.

“What do you think you’re doing?” the woman said. “Get out of here before that thing gets back up! Don’t think that attack of yours put it down for good.”

“What did I do wrong?” Tristan asked. “You looked like you needed the help.”

“I…” she looked to her two remaining Pokémon, who both had burns covering their bodies and looked exhausted. “You’re right. I was nearing defeat and you were very capable, I’m sorry. That was quite the move, dropping in from the roof like that. Thank you for showing up when you did.”

“Don’t mention it,” Tristan said. He released Cole and Jeremiah onto the field, “Now get out of here. I gotta hold this thing’s attention until help arrives.”

“With what? Two bugs and a wind chime?” the blonde asked. “You’re gonna need a bit more muscle than that. Milotic, Garchomp, we’re still on duty!” The woman’s Pokémon nodded and joined Tristan’s in a defensive position.

“Who are you?” asked Tristan. “Those look like pretty foreign Pokémon.”

“Cynthia,” she said. “It’s nice that my reputation hasn’t preceded me for once.”

“Should I know you?”

“Don’t worry about it, my boy,” a new voice came from behind the two. “I bet she gets plenty of attention from young men as it is.”

“Champion Alder?!” Tristan’s mouth hung open. “Y-You’re here?”

“In spirit,” Cynthia said dismissively. “What do you think you can do without any Pokémon, old man?”

“There is no one in this whole damn region who knows that beast better than me, little lady,” Alder said in a low voice. “Plus, I helped get people out of the stadium on the way. I think I’m doin’ just fine by myself.”

“Fair enough,” Cynthia said. “Now, trainer?”

“Tristan Blake, ma’am.”

“‘Ma’am’….” Alder held back a laugh.

Ignoring the older gentleman, Cynthia continued, “You said there was help coming, didn’t you?” She pointed to where the Volcarona had fallen. It was now hovering above the section of bleachers and slowly fluttering their way. “It better be soon.”

“I hope so…”

“Now, what you’re gonna want to do is try and blind it,” Alder said, coaching the two trainers. “Their kind relies heavily on their eyesight and don’t do well in the dark. That’s why they’ll set such powerful fires at night.”

“My Swadloon could cover its eyes with leaves and silk, but wouldn’t it just burn them off?” Tristan asked.

“Not right away. It should start to panic once it loses its eyesight, then we can catch it off guard.”

“How smart are these creatures?” asked Cynthia. “I wouldn’t expect such a simple trick to work more than once. We’ll also need a distraction now that it’s even angrier than it was when it got here.”

As an answer to Cynthia’s request, a terrifying howl rent the air from the hole in the ceiling and reverberated throughout the stadium. The three trainers, their Pokémon, and even the Volcarona that had been menacingly approaching the trio all turned their attention upward at the bone-chilling roar.

The remaining spectators in the stadium also stopped in their tracks from their panicked escape, curiosity winning over their fear of the dangerous situation.

“Finally,” Tristan said, unsure whether he felt relieved or more worried about the impending arrival.

“What do you mean, ‘finally’?” asked Cynthia.

“That should be our help.”

The roar came again, louder than before, drawing the Volcarona higher into the air above the football field and closer to the hole in the ceiling. A bright light shone down through the hole from outside, slowly growing in intensity. A great fireball crashed through the ceiling, not nearly small enough to fit through the hole that the Volcarona had made, sending more debris falling down onto the field and seats. The sudden attack hit the curious Sun Pokémon head on, sending it crashing down onto the field in a fiery blast.

Soon after the sphere of flames erupted from the ceiling the Vast White dragon Reshiram came down from the sky, flapping its large wings to fan its flames, roaring all the while.

Tristan could see from where he was that N valiantly rode on his dragon’s back. “Took him long enough,” he said.

“What— What on earth?!” Cynthia balked. “That’s some kind of dragon, correct? It reminds me of the kind of creatures spoken of in Sinnohan legends.”

“That’s Reshiram, the Dragon of Truth,” Tristan tried to explain quickly. “My friend and I accidentally woke up that Volcarona trying to find it.”

“Well, well, well,” Alder spoke up, sighing. “Looks like my days as Champion just got numbered.”

Breaking their short sense relief, the Volcarona shot up from the flames and rammed into Reshiram, sending the human flying from his seat on her back.

“Dammit,” Tristan motioned for Sigilyph to quickly catch N before he landed, but the Psychic type already followed the command before he could vocalize it. The Avianoid Pokémon zipped through the air and caught the falling human in a telekinetic bubble, bringing him safely down to the ground.

“Thank you, my good friend.” N stood on the field and smiled at Tristan, looking over the other two present. “You have all done well to last this long against such a beast.”

Reshiram screamed in pain as the much older creature forced the dragon down onto the field from a relentless assault.

“What is wrong?” N called to his dragon. “Fight back! You are clearly superior!”

“You clearly have no experience in battle,” said Alder. “Maybe I’ll keep my seat for a little longer.”

“Silence.” N demanded. “Tristan, shall we devise a plan to end this quickly?”

“We already have one,” he answered him. “We’ll need you to keep it busy with Reshiram while we get ready.”

“I will not be relegated to simply be bait,” N warned. “Reshiram and I are more than capable of defeating this opponent.”

“Really?” asked Cynthia. “Because it sure doesn’t look like it.”

The longer Reshiram continued to fight on its own without N’s guidance it became apparent the newly-resurrected dragon had no idea how to handle her opponent. Her Fire type attacks appeared to be powerful, but weren’t doing much damage to the Volcarona. The Sun Pokémon would also beat its wings hard to send powerful gusts of wind at Reshiram, or vibrate them at an incredible rate to attack with high-pitched sound waves.

“She can’t fight that thing on her own, N,” Tristan tried to explain. “A Pokémon needs their trainer’s guidance in battle, especially when your opponent is much older and experienced. Reshiram just woke up; you can’t expect her to be invincible.”

N stared on with a pained look on his face. Each time Reshiram would call out in pain he would wince and grit his teeth.

“N, come on!”

“Fine!” he clenched his fists. “Even though it is unfitting for one such as I. Now, direct me on what I need to do.”

Following Tristan’s orders, N commanded Reshiram to disengage direct combat with the Volcarona and lead it around the stadium in a chase while Jeremiah prepared a blanket of leaves strung together with silk. Tristan took hold of the soon-to-be-blindfold and called over Sigilyph.

“You’re going to do it yourself?” Alder asked.

“My Swadloon would be in too much danger of getting caught up in all the fire and we’ll need to be fast.” Sigilyph once again gripped Tristan under his arms and levitated him a few feet above the ground. He looked down to the turf to his Whirlipede, “Cole, you’ll be going to follow Cynthia’s order to attack since I’ll be a bit busy. Got it?”

“We’ll be waiting for you to make your move.” Cynthia motioned some silent commands to her two Pokémon, preparing for their time to attack. Tristan’s Whirlipede rolled up next to the tall woman, rocking back and forth to say he was prepared to follow he orders.

“As will I,” said N.

“Start us off then,” Tristan said to him.

N nodded and ran off, calling out to Reshiram. The dragon altered her flightpath, swooped down to pick up her human trainer, and then quickly took back to the air, the Volcarona still following after the Vast White Pokémon. Once reunited, N and Reshiram were capable of fending off the attacks of the Bug-Fire type much better.

“Good luck, boy.” Alder said to Tristan. “I’ll call it out to you when its attention is focused on your friend.”

“Thanks, I’ll need it.”

Tristan and Sigilyph rose higher into the air, waiting for the right moment. N was to lure the Volcarona low to the ground in middle of the field and keep its attention focused on himself while Tristan and Cynthia prepared their ambush. If all went as planned, once the blindfold was covering the beast’s eyes, Cynthia’s two Pokémon, Tristan’s Whirlipede, and Reshiram were to attack the Volcarona all at once to try and knock it unconscious.

Looking up and around the stadium, Tristan was surprised to see that there were still a few cameramen that hadn’t fled the stadium despite the panic the Volcarona had brought. The large screens that were placed at each end of the stadium were displaying a camera’s view of Reshiram’s flight through the stands. There was even a camera trained on himself, Cynthia, and Alder, putting a strange pressure on him that Tristan hadn’t felt before.

Whether we pull this off or not… the whole world is going to see this.

“Go!”

Tristan’s attention snapped back down to the field at Alder’s command. He saw the Volcarona had its back to him, with N and Reshiram goading it into a battle of competing fire attacks. He urged the Sigilyph on his back to push forward, hoping that he didn’t miss his chance to execute their risky maneuver.

Cynthia silently directed the three Pokémon under her command to spread out but stay behind their target so as to not alert the creature too soon.

Sigilyph’s surprising speed brought Tristan up behind it in a rush of air and heat from the two battling Fire types. He spread out the blanket of silk and leaves and swung it over the Volcarona’s head, pulling down hard and twisting the blindfold in a hasty knot.

As Alder had predicted, the Volcarona began to panic. It spun in the air, flapping its wings wildly and scattering burning particles all around it. The ancient beast screeched and shook its head, trying desperately to dislodge the blindfold from its head.

“Great! Now, hit it while—!”

A great blast of heat knocked himself and the Sigilyph out of the air, sending them sailing backwards and crashing down toward the ground, thankfully landing while surrounded by a Protect bubble from the latter. Once the sudden attack had subsided, Tristan stood up on his feet and saw they had been blown far down the field from where they had been. He looked up to see what had become of their endeavor and was at a loss for words.

The shape of a Volcarona made of flames hovered where their target had been, as if the beast had lost its physical form and became nothing but fire itself. The blindfold had become nothing more than ash blowing in the wind. Cynthia and the other Pokémon had likewise been unable to escape the blast and were left lying on the field from the flash of heat.

N and Reshiram had been knocked back as well, but quickly recovered their wits and moved to rescue Cynthia and the felled Pokémon from the Volcarona’s wrath. The large dragon gently carried the injured parties to where Tristan stood on the opposite end of the field.

Alder ran along beneath Reshiram, concerned about the group’s wellbeing. “Are you okay?”

Cynthia stood uneasily after being set on the turf, recalling her unconscious Pokémon. “Still breathing, but I’m beginning to think we won’t be for much longer. I’m out of options.” She looked Alder in the eye, understanding in her expression. “I’m sorry. We didn’t move fast enough, and now I’m in the same boat as you.”

“Where’s— oh!” Tristan looked down to his side and saw his Whirlipede, Cole, still alive and alert. Minor burns marred his hard, round shell but otherwise he seemed no worse for wear. “You’re okay. Good thing we practiced your Iron Defense out in the desert.”

“What’s it doing?” Cynthia asked, pointing down the field.

The Volcarona, still covered in flames, began to float around its end of the field in rapid circles, igniting whatever it got close to. It increased its speed as the fires grew, slowly forming a towering vortex of flame. The beast chattered and danced an inferno that threatened to burn the whole stadium down.

“I believe,” Alder said, wiping his brow of sweat, “it’s run out of patience.”

“What can we do?” Tristan asked.

“Run.” Alder shook his head. “And hope we can rebuild once the fire dies down. Nothing stops a Volcarona when it gets like that. You can’t outrun the sun.”

“Preposterous.” N stared on defiantly at the tornado of fire ahead of him. “Nothing is impervious. Running and trickery are clearly not the solution to this problem.” N brushed the feathery fur of his dragon, who turned to look at him on her back. “Overwhelming physical force is the only option left to us, so it must be the Truth.”

“Well said, oh champion mine.”

“You tried that already, remember? You and Reshiram could only match its strength before, and now look at it,” Tristan tried to talk sense into his friend.

“As Alder stated,” said N, “the Volcarona thinks it has already won, and is executing its endgame. I must meet that resolve with my own— no. We must.”

Reshiram flapped its wings, taking to the air once more. A great fire began building within its engine-like tail as it began to draw in air and heat from the small fires that littered the stadium from the Volcarona’s rampage. The ends of Reshiram’s white feathers began to shine red with an incredible energy and her eyes shined a bright blue.

“Let us show them all, Reshiram!” N yelled atop the dragon. “The Truth that cannot be argued or denied!”

Reshiram responded with a howling roar that shook the ground. The buildup of energy from within the dragon reached its apex, causing white shoots of flame to begin igniting all over the dragon’s body, soon covering the beast from head to tail. A white mimicry of the Volcarona’s fiery form—or perhaps the true form of such a technique—hovered above the field opposite the vortex of orange flame.

“You’ll get yourself killed, boy! Don’t try at being a hero!” Alder yelled up at the young man engulfed in white fire, but no response came. The burning white mass just flapped its wings in preparation of its impending strike.

“Get down!” Tristan pulled the two Champions down to the turf as Reshiram took off toward down the field. “Cole! Sigilyph!”

The two Pokémon acted on Tristan’s command, both putting forth a protective barrier to save the humans behind them.

“Go for it, N!”

Tristan wasn’t sure if his voice managed to carry over the roaring flames, but Reshiram seemed to respond by releasing a great burst of energy from her tail, sending her rocketing toward the Volcarona sitting safe inside its swirling inferno. The impact of the initial burst of heat from Reshiram’s flight nearly ruptured the Protect barrier that the two Pokémon were maintaining, threatening to shatter it in an instant. Just before the dragon’s attack reached its target, Tristan’s Whirlipede began to shudder, its body growing and unfolding from its round shape. Four pairs of legs stamped down onto the field and a newly evolved Scolipede raised its head up high, redoubling its barrier to protect from the coming blast.

The effect wasn’t immediate, catching everyone off guard. Reshiram’s fiery form pierced Volcarona’s wall of flames like an arrow. N and his dragon disappeared silently and without any visible reaction from Volcarona. Before anyone could voice their confusion, the pillar of flames erupted with a force immeasurably stronger than Tristan had been expecting. The combined barrier of Cole and Sigilyph held, but the two Pokémon were pushed back along the field.

What felt like a deafening eternity beneath the protective bubble lasted seconds in reality.

As the stadium fell quiet once again, Tristan looked up from the ground to witness the aftermath.

Reshiram was perched atop the Volcarona, the latter of which had been forced down onto the ground. The large bug’s wings would flutter and buzz occasionally, earning it a warning roar from the Vast White dragon that had just outright defeated it. N could be seen standing triumphantly on his dragon’s back, arm held up high into the air.

The dragon roared loudly, absorbing the residual flames from throughout the stadium again, either to prevent any further damage or as a show of dominance to the Volcarona. The stadium was still standing and the Hero of Truth had claimed victory.

“Yes!” Tristan jumped and yelled. “That was amazing! We—”

The trainer’s eyes caught movement coming down from the stairs in the stands. A large crowd of people in matching uniforms had begun marching into the stadium, slowly making their way onto the field. From the distance, Tristan didn’t recognize them until he saw their image appear on the large screens around the stadium. Members of Team Plasma were marching toward N and Reshiram.

“No… What are they doing here?” Tristan clenched his jaw. “Cole!” Jumping onto the back of his Scolipede, Tristan rode to intercept the group of radical reformists before they could cause what he knew would be more problems. As Tristan neared the procession, he could hear now that they were chanting some kind of cheer.

“Long live the King! Long live the King! Long live the King! Long live the King! Long live the King!”

Their king? Is he here?

Tristan and Cole made it to the far end of the field ahead of Team Plasma, intending to block their path and stop whatever they had planned. He hopped off Cole’s back and stood his ground between the marching troops, his Pokémon stomping his feet and brandishing his new horns.

“You people have no place here,” Tristan called out to them. “I won’t let you get away with whatever you have planned for this Volcarona!”

Someone then put their hand on his shoulder, startling him. Tristan whipped around in place and saw N standing before him. His clothes had become singed and burned away in parts, the worst victim being the loose white shirt he had been wearing. The black undershirt had negligible damage, but what caught Tristan’s eye was the symbol that was sewn into it, just over his heart:

Team Plasma’s badge.

“I was the one who called them here, Tristan.” N calmly spoke and wore an uneasy smile.

“Wh— What?! You?!”

“That is correct. As you will recall, I made contact with my Father to send us aid.”

Tristan looked to the group of Plasma’s followers then back to N.

“You can’t be serious,” he said. “When we met, I asked you if you were a member of Team Plasma, and you said no! When did you join them?”

“I did not join them, nor do I follow them.” N shook his head. “I am their King.”

“My Lord,” a grunt approached. “It would appear the television crews are coming this way. Shall we stop them?”

“Quite the opposite,” he said. N beckoned a few more grunts to his side, who seemed to be carrying a large bundle of white cloth and something made of gold.

As N accepted and began to put them on, Tristan recognized them as a crown and cape befitting a king straight out of a fairytale.

“I shall address the nation, and the world, regarding my triumph.” N held a hand up into the air, signaling Reshiram to let the Volcarona go free from her grasp.

“Now everyone,” another voice called out to the Plasma grunts, a voice that Tristan recognized right away. Ghetsis Harmonia shuffled along on the field and motioned with a single arm, “We need to secure this poor creature so it doesn’t bring any more harm to itself or others. Be kind, be gentle, and be careful. It is a magnificent creature, it would be a terrible shame to bring it any pain.”

Tristan shook with fear and anger, unable to move his feet. He watched the Team Plasma members move around him as if he were just an obstacle to avoid.

What can I do? This can’t be happening! The Hero of Truth… N… is Team Plasma’s King? This whole time, I’ve been helping him…

N’s voice then came over the stadium’s speaker system as all of the cameras began to focus on him and his dragon:

[“Attention, people of the Unova region! I am Natural Gropius Harmonia, but you may call me ‘N, Team Plasma’s King’! I speak to you today as the fabled Hero of Truth! Look, as I have found and resurrected Reshiram, the great Dragon of Truth, living proof of my conviction and goals—Team Plasma’s goals!

[“This night, I have quelled this unruly beast behind me,”] he gestured grandly at the subdued Volcarona. [“It threatened the lives of many people in its rage, but with the power I now wield—Reshiram’s power—Nimbasa City stands!

[“I did this without the use of those sinister devices known as Poké Balls! Reshiram and I simply heard each other’s voice and shared in our desires to create a peaceful and prosperous Unova! That is the Truth! That Truth is what woke her from her slumber, that Truth is what defeated our powerful opponent, and that Truth is what will unify Unova—then soon the world—under the banner of Team Plasma!

[“Know this; I do not believe in half-truths. I was not alone this night! I was aided in my search for Reshiram, as well as in our battle against the magnificent Volcarona, Embodiment of the Sun, by my friend, Tristan Blake of Nuvema Town!”]

Tristan watched the image of N on the screens as he held out his arms in a warm and welcoming gesture and then saw the cameras focused on him.

“Come,” N said directly to him, “I wish for you to join me in this most joyous occasion, o’ Hero of Ideals.”

“What?” Tristan asked. He forgot the television cameras and microphones that were near him. Walking closer to N, he asked again. “What did you say?”

“It cannot be a secret to you, my friend. I told you before; I believe, from the bottom of my heart, that you and I are bound by a shared destiny. You are my equal and opposite, the dark to my light, forever the optimist to my realistic view points on the world. I name you, Tristan Blake, the Hero of Ideals, future master of Zekrom, Dragon of Ideals!

“And now, brother…” N closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. “I ask you to join me and my cause.”

Tristan could hear murmurs coming from the stands as a few people had returned to see the results of the clash themselves. He could feel their gazes pouring down onto him, the moments that ticked by worsening the pressure he felt.

“In times past, the two Heroes of Unova would be united for a time, but would soon come to war with one another. I aim to destroy that cycle of unnecessary conflict and bloodshed! I have the vast resources of Team Plasma at my disposal, and your intuition to guide us to Zekrom, now lying in wait somewhere in this region! Together, you and I will create a perfect world for Pokémon!”

“Long live the King! Long live the King! Long live the King! Long live the King! Long live the King!”

[“No.”]

Tristan’s answer echoed through the stadium, silencing the chanting of the Team Plasma members, and causing N’s demeanor to shift drastically.

“I won’t join you, N.” Tristan stepped forward, standing against someone he had been fighting alongside only moments ago. “Team Plasma is an evil, cruel organization with only selfish goals in mind and I cannot believe you would ever be someone associated with them. You are a good person who would never harm Pokémon or steal them from their trainers! Team Plasma is wrong!”

“A disappointing, but not an unexpected answer, my friend. It pains me to see that you have chosen this path for yourself,” N said, shaking his head slowly. “I will leave you with this then, my friend: if you wish to fight for your ideal world, find Zekrom soon.”

N turned to face the camera then, a fierce and determined look burning in his eyes.

[“Gym Leaders, Elite Four, and Champion Alder, I speak to you now. I, Team Plasma’s one true King will show you all that there is a better way! I will show you all that we can accomplish by treating Pokémon as friends, not as tools or weapons, not as objects or possessions. I will take part in your ‘Gym Challenge’ and become this region’s Champion with my own power, the very same power that awoke Reshiram, my Truth!”]

N climbed atop his dragon, still speaking to the camera.

[“Cilan, Chili, and Cress of Striaton City, prepare yourselves!”]

The Hero of Truth and his dragon took to the air, the beast of white fire howling into the air as the pair exited the stadium through the hole in the ceiling.

“Magnificent, isn’t it?” a low voice said in Tristan’s ear. “Such a beautiful creature will burn away the old, festering ways this nation still clings to, and from the ashes a wonderful new world will stand in its place.”

“You think so?” Tristan turned to face the voice, knowing full well who it belonged to. “Want to say that again for the cameras?”

Ghetsis smirked and turned away, “I’m sorry, I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean, my son. I didn’t say a thing.”

“Mr. Blake! Mr. Blake!” a small group of news reporters with their own camera crews had now arrived on the scene, as well as a crowd of civilians. The swath of people converged on the young trainer with a sea of questions and demands.

“UUN News; is it true you are the Hero of Ideals, like Team Plasma’s leader said?”

“I… I don’t—”

“League Radio; can I get an interview? You helped find Reshiram for Team Plasma, are you secretly working with them?”

“Of course not!” he denied.

“What about Zekrom? Where’s your dragon?”

“I don’t have a dragon!”

“What about the black dragon sighted over Castelia City a few weeks ago? That wasn’t you?”

“Th-That was—”

Tristan felt the XTransceiver on his wrist vibrating, and he looked to see that it was showing multiple incoming calls. Bianca, Cheren, Professor Juniper, his mother and father were all trying to get in touch with him.

What is happening?

He looked up at the expectant faces before him, then at the image of his dumbstruck face on the giant screens around the stadium.

Noise faded away into a dull buzz, the world spun around him, and his legs felt weak.

Before he swayed and fell to his side, a strong arm clasped his shoulder and another patted his chest.

“Hey, leave the young man be, will you?” Alder grinned wide at the cameras, stealing the spotlight. “Our ‘Hero of Ideals’ just fought with all he had to stop that burning menace, give him some space for a while before you go dumping the whole world on him.”

Alder then began to lead Tristan off of the field, shooing away more reporters and spectators on their way.

“Alder?”

“Don’t sweat it kid, I’m getting you out of the public eye for a bit. You’ve earned it.”

Tristan sighed, saved from falling to his knees only by Alder’s support.

“I’ve got a nice room under an alias for the next few days ready and waiting, it’s all yours.”

“What about you?” Cynthia had followed the two off the field and into the halls and passages beneath the stadium, most likely to escape the paparazzi of a foreign region.

“I need to get home to Floccesy Town,” Alder said. “I’ve been a wandering bum for too long.”

—————

To Be Continued…

—————



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