nandosagi: (Saeko Shijou)
[personal profile] nandosagi
This is the final chapter of this story, save for the epilogue. It contains periodic scenes of intense violence, some themes of racism and scenes of disaster that may be traumatizing to some readers.

-:-

CHAPTER 6: Whitegold City's Darkest Hour

-:-

The storm raged all around Everton as he stood atop his ship, drenching him with rain while the wind blew his hair and open suit jacket around. While still glaring upward with his head nodded slightly forward, he took out his third, seemingly forgotten Ultra Ball and threw it into the air, calling forth his Hydreigon. Because of the effects of Katorena's Beheeyem's Hypnosis, Hydreigon was still fast asleep while he lay next to Everton.

Pressing the communicator key on his control panel, Everton called out, "Baker, bring up the Dreamyarn Inceptor to sixty percent output, and transfer all available power from the ship to Hydreigon."

"We can do that, Captain Everton," Baker responded from the bridge via the communicator, "but it will take a few minutes to carry out such a large increase in power output."

"That's fine, just do it. Those fools will have hell to pay for standing in the way of my dream…"

-:-

"You're trapped in Whitegold City? Where's Matt Chiaki?"

"Is Matt Chiaki okay?"

"Come on, I saw the news broadcast! Tell me he's okay!"

"Of course he's okay, he has to be. Otherwise I'd have to put a curse on you!"

'The Second Diary Holder' had found the topic posted by Rowena, and much to the irritation of just about everyone else reading the site, decided to attack the thread with their rapid-fire, nonsensical posts.

"Oh hell no, not this bullshit," Nekou sighed, reading the posts from over Rowena's shoulder. "Sometimes people like to troll this site, even when you're trying to get something. That's the one downside."

There were several more posts from the other users scolding 'The Second Diary Holder' for their behavior, which Rowena scrolled past halfheartedly. She stopped short, though, when she spotted a post by someone who simply called themselves 'Sam,' and Bunny and Nekou followed along carefully as she read it aloud.

"It's no wonder you do not have this information, Cinccino Mistress. The government has tried to suppress it because it is embarrassing. What you do likely know is that there was a brief but terrible war in 1975 between the Tohjo Continent and its then territory, Sinnoh. Originally, all three regions were a single unified country, but after the war, Sinnoh split away. That part is still available to the public record. What has been suppressed is why Sinnoh won the war. Their military was comprised of eight units, each one headed up by a Gym Leader, while the Tohjo Continent's forces were a single grand organization under the banner of one leader – Captain Liam Everton. Governor Tobias delegated the responsibility of leading his armed forces in the war to Captain Everton, and weeks later, Everton foolishly led his men into a battle that turned into a complete slaughter. The death toll from that day is still not known and never will be, but it was such an awful defeat that the Tohjo Continent had to immediately surrender and grant Sinnoh its freedom. The responsibility for losing the war was placed squarely on Liam Everton's shoulders."

"Think about this," Bunny whispered once Rowena was done reading, "consider what we know about Everton's plan. If he had complete control over the world's energy supply and disproportionate influence on the financial system, could he not easily make an effort to re-conquer Sinnoh?"

"That makes absolute sense," Rowena realized. She was cowed by the visualization of how far-reaching and yet attainable Everton's goals actually were. "All he has to do is take control of the Tohjo Continent and institute his rule over the entire country. At that point… everything will slowly fall into place. He'll have Sinnoh and then the rest of the world groveling at his feet to get energy and resources…"

"That means we have to keep him in Whitegold City until the cops get here," Nekou mused, before adding with much less sarcasm than Bunny and Rowena would have liked, "or we have to kill him."

"Nobody's killing him. Don't even joke about that." After seeing people getting shot by Everton earlier, Bunny had had her fill of violence for the day.

Lowering her eyelids to communicate her annoyance, Nekou said back, "Killing him would be too boring for my tastes, even if he deserves it. I'm just being realistic here. We have to keep him from getting out of Whitegold City at any cost, because all he has to do to make his dreams reality is overthrow the national government."

"Victiniiiiiiii!"

Having been so intently paying attention to the revelations about Everton's background and their associated implications, Nekou, Bunny and Rowena were caught off guard by Victini's sudden appearance. The Psychic-and-Fire-type Legendary Pokémon flew limply into the cabin and crashed onto the table, but before any of the three women could attend to it, they could see Hethna hover near the side of the yacht, letting Katorena off. In turn, her arrival was followed by Matt rushing into the cabin after landing the hoverboard on the yacht's deck.

"What happened back there?" Rowena exclaimed, not at all encouraged by how exhausted Matt and Katorena sounded as they tried to catch their breath. "Is it finally over?"

"I… don't know," Matt coughed, leaning against the couch.

He hadn't noticed Olivia sleeping on that same couch, so when he put his weight against it, he unwittingly roused her from her slumber. "What…? I'm trying to sleep…"

"Oh, um… sorry, Olivia," he said with an awkward smile. He then noticed the ice that had been on her leg, and accordingly demanded from Rowena, "What happened to her?"

"Everton had his bodyguard's Sawk undercut her legs with Low Sweep. She's alright, but she was just resting."

"That's good, I guess. Are you feeling better, Olivia?"

"Forget about me for a minute, Matt!" Olivia angrily reacted. Having spotted Victini lying on the table, she had crawled off the couch and up to the Pokémon. "Victini is badly hurt! What happened?"

"Liam beat the shit out of it," Nekou answered for Matt, albeit using far more colorful language than he would have. A slight gasp escaped her lips as she remembered something important. "Do you still have those Revival Herbs, Matt?"

It took a second for Matt to realize what Nekou was speaking of, but the memory of giving Hethna and Ayingott the herbs quickly returned to him. He briskly walked over to the table and kneeled alongside Olivia.

"That's a good idea. Olivia, roll Victini over, would you?"

"Right."

Though her ankle was aching again, Olivia bore the pain and carefully turned Victini onto its back before dragging herself back to the couch. The Pokémon was breathing heavily itself, worn from its repeated confrontations with Everton that led to the brutal encounter in the building plaza.

Taking one of the gnarled green herbs from his bag, Matt sighed. "Victini, please forgive me. This herb is terribly bitter, but it'll help you feel better."

Victini weakly whispered its acceptance of Matt's offer, so he pinched off a small piece of the Revival Herb and slipped it into the small creature's mouth. Judging from Victini's disgusted reaction, it clearly hated the taste of the herb, but nevertheless it swallowed the medicine anyway. Almost immediately, Victini jumped up with renewed vigor, coughing and choking out the taste of the Revival Herb.

"It worked!" Olivia exclaimed, smiling. "I guess Victini doesn't like the bitter taste though..."

"Feeling better?"

"Viku…" Victini blandly said to Matt, annoyed with him for giving it the bitter herb.

"It's all good that Victini's better," Rowena interrupted, "but this still isn't over. Matt, you have to understand why Liam Everton is after us."

"After me," he offered in correction. "He baited me here with the speech and then tried to have those Polaris guys assassinate me to further his agenda of discrediting future energy."

"Then it makes even more sense. Liam Everton was the leader of the Tohjo Continent's military in its war with Sinnoh for the latter's independence in 1975. He lead his men into a foolish battle that resulted in them all being ki…"

The sound of static interrupted Rowena's explanation, followed by Butler's frantic voice coming in barely audibly from the yacht's radio. "Rowena, Katorena, Bunny, someone, come in! Anyone, hurry! This is a major emergency!"

Such a panicked transmission was clearly not a sign of good news to the group assembled on the yacht, but it was another sound in the background of Butler's broadcast that deeply disturbed Rowena. She was the only one to make out the sound of rushing water, and accordingly covered the distance to the transmitter at blinding speed.

"Butler, what happened?" Despite her asking, Rowena already had a sinking feeling that she knew the answer to this question. She stared awkwardly at the radio as she held the receiver in her hand, her eyes unfocused from the sudden burst of panic she felt.

"We did our best, but the dam collapsed!" Butler hurriedly replied, confirming the worst fears of all in the cabin; everyone but Rowena herself reacted to this news with a chorus of gasps and worried mumbling. "The city's going to flood unless you do something and do it fast!"

"If only there was some way to redirect the water…" whispered Matt as he wracked his brain for a possible solution. He, like many of the others, were trying to find a way to stop this disaster before it got any worse, but was making no progress.

His comment, however, caused Bunny to have an epiphany. "Rowena, didn't you say that there were drainage gates connected to the underground tunnels?"

"You're right!" The life returned to Rowena's eyes when this realization came to her, but she quickly sobered her allies' breakthrough by warning, "The problem with that is, the only way to open the drainage gates is through the mainframe of the Everton International building itself, and that network's firewall has been repelling every attempt I've made to hack it. I'd need a direct link into the master access computer in Liam Everton's office to be able to get in."

"I'll go," Matt volunteered without hesitation, his voice even.

"It's not going to be that easy!" Butler advised through the radio. "Darkrai and Cresselia are still fighting in the city's airspace and will make it nearly impossible to reach the Everton building in time. Even though they've both suffered grievous injuries from fighting all day, they won't back down until one of them is dead."

"Then I'll just deal with that too. Victini, do you think you can help me get Cresselia to stop fighting with Darkrai?"

"Victi!" Victini responded enthusiastically. It floated closer to Matt and tightened up its small body, showing clear eagerness to help save its beloved friend and their home.

"Here, take this," Rowena said as she tossed a black, rectangular thumb drive to Matt. "Go to Everton's office once you reach the building and put that into the drive. Through it, I will be able to hack into the entire mainframe through his computer, allowing me to eventually open the drainage gates."

"Will do." After putting the thumb drive away in his bag for safekeeping, Matt turned and started walking to the doorway out to the deck with Victini in tow. However, he was abruptly stopped when Katorena grabbed his shoulder to spin him back around.

"And where do you think you're going by yourself? I will not be excluded from doing this."

"No," he firmly answered, shooting Katorena's demand down. "This entire thing is my fault. If I didn't take the bait Everton left me when he set up my speech, we wouldn't have come to this city, and you'd all be safe. I have to do this alone and make right what I've caused."

"Stop trying to get yourself killed," Nekou complained from the couch she'd dropped herself back onto. "You have to realize that there are people here who would be hurt if you died. Don't you get just how much I… Olivia relies on you?"

"It's not like it would be the first time I've been abandoned," Olivia blandly added, "but you're better than to do that."

"Just have faith in me. I will do something to make this right, I promise." Turning to Rowena and Bunny, Matt instructed them, "Contact Woods and Aurelie and warn them about the dam collapse. They should know what they're going to have to deal with soon."

"Right," both women replied in unison.

"I'll be back."

Rushing back out into the storm, Matt hastily stepped onto the hoverboard and lifted it into the air again, with Victini flying determinedly beside him all the while. He also reunited with Ayingott and Hethna, who were still nearby. Together, the four of them departed in the direction of the city's center, hoping to encounter Darkrai and Cresselia.

-:-

"Giovanni, please listen to me," Dr. Zager pleaded with his boss. "Don't worry about exposing my location anymore. You must take charge through your powers as Gym Leader of Viridian City and begin evacuating civilians."

"Ordinarily that would be a preposterous suggestion, Gabriel, but today is a day when the world faces one of its greatest crises ever. In this case, I think that may be very sound advice, because if the world is destroyed, Team Rocket has no subjects."

00:00:04…

00:00:03…

00:00:02…

00:00:01…

"Whitegold City storm has now reached the critical point."

The distinctly feminine voice of Dr. Zager's computer system was accompanied by a blaring alarm, and the combination of these two things brought forth news that drove Zager into wild-eyed terror.

"We're too late!" he shouted with so much horror in his voice that even Galvantula became visibly afraid. "It's all over! The storm has gone critical, there may be no turning back now!"

-:-

"Get a hold of yourself, Gabriel!"

Giovanni was now standing between his chair and his desk with his atms rigidly pushed down onto the furniture. Stacia was next to him, wearing an inscrutable look partially leaking out the nervousness she felt.

Right about then was when she noticed that the office had gotten awfully dark within the past hour.

"Giovanni, forget evacuating the civilians, you're all sitting ducks now!" Zager continued yelling. "Get them all ind…"

A sudden lightning strike accompanied by earsplitting thunder with the volume of a bomb rocked the mansion. As she was terrified of both thunder and lighting, Stacia screamed and crumpled to the floor, and the lightning caused a power outage that cut the communication between Giovanni and Zager. Now, the office was lit only with emergency floodlights, and the sound of heavy rain quickly began developing outside.

"I'm sorry, Mister Giovanni, sir… I dropped your files everywhere…" Stacia was crying while lying on the floor, but even though it was obvious that her fear of the storm was the cause, she was trying to force it to look like her dropping the files did it instead.

"Now is not the time to worry about dropped office goods," Giovanni stated without even looking at her. "All we can do now is cast our lot with Matt Chiaki's little team and hope we come out as winners."

-:-

"Giovanni, sir? Giovanni!"

Zager's pleading was in vain. Giovanni's window of communication on his computer had cut to static, and it would never return. Slowly accepting this, the scientist walked deliberately to his door, where he put his coat and knit cap back on.

"Come, Galvantula."

"Tula!"

The Bug-and-Electric-type Pokémon skittered up to her owner, then followed him as he walked out the door. After a short walk through a dim and damp cave, they came out in a snowy outpost overlooking a vast winter land, above which a clear and idyllic night sky spread out. Wood cabins and stone relics dotted the landscape in a scattered, sparse fashion, giving the feeling that wherever this location was was really in the middle of nowhere.

Staring at the countless stars in the sky, Zager said to Galvantula, "What a beautiful sky tonight. Perhaps all these stars came out to observe what will become of our world. I hope for our sake that we will live to see another night like this."

Indeed, the situation had truly escalated to a potentially devastating global disaster. Even from space, the storm over Whitegold City was becoming visible, taking shape in the form of a hurricane-like spiral.

-:-

The five coffin-shaped panels above and below Musharna's pedestal moved toward each other and partially closed up around her, sounding the horrible windchime-like noise all the while. Once they stopped moving, the pink smoke surrounding Musharna and the other Pokémon intensified.

"Dreamyarn Inceptor current power output is sixty percent of full capacity," the computer droned.

"Now, transfer the power to Captain Everton's Hydreigon."

Fennel hesitated, despite having Baker standing over her again. She had long since figured out what Everton was planning to do with the Dream Energy and Hydreigon, and she had a hard time forcing herself to cooperate with something that used her research in such a way.

"Baker, stop this!" Foster argued, his Throh mimicking his gestures. "This is your chance to step back from the precipice! Don't do what Captain Everton tells you to!"

"And that is why you are someone with no power!" Baker screamed back at his counterpart, his own composure gradually slipping away.

Deciding to more aggressively pursue Everton's orders, Baker pushed in front of Fennel and started typing into her computer. At first, the scientist yelped due to being forced aside, but her ire quickly became focused on Baker's other actions.

"Get away from my machine!" she loudly objected, finally standing up to one of the men who had terrorized her for seemingly so long. "Don't you even realize what you're doing? Hydreigon will go out of control!"

"Like I'd believe anything you tell me!"

Mere seconds after Baker finished his entry of the relevant commands, the computerized voice issued, "Energy redirection process complete."

"Baker, what have you done…" Foster said disapprovingly, crossing his thick arms. "You are completely complicit in what Everton's doing now. There are no more chances."

"Who needs second chances?" raved the blue-haired security guard while he stepped away from Fennel and her computer. "A new world order will be created by Captain Everton, and I will be right there alongside him!"

An arch of worry crept through Foster's brow, but he had no chance to verbalize what he felt before the entire ship rocked. This was followed seconds later by another announcement from the computer voice.

"Storm level intensification detected. Vessel stability systems have been automatically activated."

"So the storm out there has escalated," Baker said, turning upward and staring at the ceiling. "Even without being able to move, this ship will weather the storm. There's no turning back now…"

Deeply disturbed by these newest developments, Foster and Fennel could only stare at the guard holding them prisoner on Everton's ship.

-:-

Cresselia's Aura Sphere, packed with what strength she could spare, cut through the sheets of rain and collided with Darkrai, who was making little effort to escape. Feeling no hope of surviving the disaster, Darkrai was throwing itself into the last throes of its fight with Cresselia actually hoping to die in battle. The accursed collar around its neck was a sign of Everton's complete control over it, as well as a sign of the seemingly inescapable death sentence Darkrai was locked into.

"Raaaaaaa!" Darkrai screamed, reeling back from the explosive impact of the Aura Sphere. As much as Darkrai might have hoped that it would be the finishing blow, it wasn't, and the Dark-type Legendary Pokémon leveled off in midair.

With a quick flick of its arm, Darkrai sent a Dark Pulse back in Cresselia's direction, clipping her left side. She cried out from the brief spike of pain, but quickly recovered.

Both Pokémon stood still in the air as they stared each other down. Neither of them had the energy left to continue exchanging long-range attacks as they had been doing all day, meaning that there was only one option left. They both came to that same realization as they gazed into each others' eyes.

Darkrai and Cresselia both let out ear-splitting cries, then rushed each other one last time to end the battle once and for all.

Just before they could connect with each other, though, a Golurk rocketed between them and popped its hands out of its arms. It blocked Darkrai with one hand and Cresselia with the other, the three of them spinning in circles together from the force of the combined attacks. After several revolutions, Darkrai and Cresselia finally separated from Hethna, both growling at it angrily.

"Stop all of this!" Matt called out, no longer paying the vicious storm any mind as he glided up on the hoverboard with Victini and Ayingott at his side. "Darkrai, Cresselia, please listen! You don't need to fight just because Liam Everton is forcing you to!"

"Tiniii!" Victini squeaked to add to Matt's statement, launching into a chain of similar sounds to make its plea to Cresselia for the fighting to stop.

While Victini took charge of dealing with Cresselia's half of the battle, exchanging words with the elegant Psychic-type in their own languages, Matt and Darkrai simply stared at each other. Unable to understand why Darkrai simply stopped rampaging from a simple request, Matt probed what information he gleaned from observing the Pokémon for any leads. Darkrai, however, had other thoughts.

"Dar… da… M-Ma…"

Whatever Darkrai was trying to convey was unfortunately lost, as a sudden blast of purple energy sliced through and scattered Matt, Ayingott, Hethna, Cresselia and Darkrai apart.

Having already made his abrupt entrance, Hydreigon floated forward slowly and menacingly. A strange, dark aura was emanating from the three-headed dragon Pokémon's body, and on his back rode his master, Captain Liam Everton.

"So you think you're going to my building, do you?" the wicked old man called out over the sound of the storm. His smile widened from the sense of pleasure he felt from trying to crush Matt's plan. "I don't think so! This ends here, you piece of trash!"

"What did you do to Hydreigon?" Matt shouted back, trying not to let Everton's trash-talking get to him. "It was sound asleep before, and what's that aura coming out of it?"

"This is the Dreamyarn Inceptor's true power!" Everton proudly declared. "The power contained within the dreams of the sleeping Pokémon, focused into Hydreigon… this Pokémon is now the greatest weapon and most useful tool I have, and I'll have more like this later!"

"It doesn't surprise me that you view Pokémon as mere weapons…" Matt mused in disgust.

Deciding the conversation was over, Everton turned his gaze slightly upward. "Darkrai, kill him now! Do it, or have you forgotten what will happen to you if you disobey?"

Despite Everton's warning, Darkrai simply glared at him in silence for several tense seconds. The hatred burning from Darkrai's gaze was so intense it was nearly physical. Finally, though, Darkrai took an action neither Matt nor Everton expected – it grabbed a hold on the collar around its body, and despite the cripplingly painful electric shocks the device sent through its body, Darkrai pulled on the collar with all its strength.

Soon enough, sparks started to shoot from the collar, and the red light on its front began flickering. The sound of crunching plastic accompanied the loosening of the device, finally ending when, with one last burst of force, Darkrai managed to tear the collar completely off.

"Well done, Darkrai!" Matt congratulated alongside cheering from Ayingott, Hethna and Victini.

Reinvigorated by a sudden surge of energy through its body brought on by finally escaping from Everton's control, Darkrai let out a bloodthirsty roar and dove toward Hydreigon with the beginnings of an Ice Beam in its grasp.

"A doll rebels against its master?" Everton scoffed, pulling Hydreigon back. A powered-up Focus Blast took shape in front of the dragon's central head, but when he released the pulsating crimson sphere, Darkrai agilely moved out of the way. However, Everton wasn't done yet. "You will not escape! Victory Star!"

Though the willing invocation of the Victory Star's power caused Everton more pain than ever before, he saw it as a worthwhile trade-off. A light flashed in his afflicted left eye, then the errant Focus Blast curved off its misguided course and back toward Darkrai.

When it was about five feet from striking Darkrai, however, it was suddenly intercepted by Cresselia, who flew in between Darkrai and the Focus Blast. Against her body as a Psychic-type, the Fighting-type attack had little effect. Growling softly, Cresselia shot daggers out of the corner of her eye at Everton and Hydreigon while stretching her body horizontally to shield Darkrai. Victini shifted nervously in the air due to the distress brought on by watching its beloved guardian throw herself into harm's way.

"Teaming up? It's just more trash to dispose of, then! I have no more use for any of you! You want to make it five against one? Fine! Bring it on! I'll destroy you all!"

"No matter what you've done to Hydreigon to weaponize it so severely…" Matt declared with a dramatic flair. He took note of the dull, almost zombie-like look in Hydreigon's eyes as he raised his hand upward, before calling out, "Now! Ayingott, Hethna, Darkrai, Cresselia, courageously go forth and stop Liam Everton's plans!"

All four of the Pokémon Matt called to his aid gave respective declarations of their readiness for the impending battle, positioning themselves between Matt and Everton while Victini stayed close to its newfound human protector. Despite being at a sore disadvantage in terms of numbers, however, Everton plainly did not regard these four Pokémon as a threat and merely steeled his body for the inevitable fight.

Hethna and Ayingott were the first to rush Hydreigon, attempting to come in from opposing sides of the Dark-and-Dragon-type Pokémon's position. Focusing on Ayingott, Hydreigon spat out a stream of fire that was seemingly impervious to the rain as it trailed the Sigilyph in the air. Darkrai interrupted by cutting down part of the Flamethrower with its lightning bolts, allowing Ayingott to escape half of the injury coming to her. Meanwhile, Hethna was attempting to circle around Hydreigon from the other side, only to fail when it was caught by Hydreigon's smaller right-hand head, which clipped it with a separate Flamethrower.

Cresselia then attempted to target Hydreigon with her Signal Beam directly, but on Everton's command, Hydreigon rained down another intense Dragon Pulse against it, forcing the blast back before it could ever reach him.

-:-

The floodwaters coming through the gateway left open by the collapsed dam were already surging through the marshlands and into the poor area of the city. Most structures in the way of the torrent, including Aurelie's home and the charred remains of Woods's shack, simply folded before the water's might. Whatever Pokémon that remained with the ability to fly, such as the Pidove, Pidgey, Ducklett and Swanna, escaped with their abilities. The Pokémon locked to the land or water – such as the single Stunfisk and the remaining Tympole and Palpitoad – were not so lucky, instead getting washed away.

-:-

Hydreigon reeled back in midair, having fended off an attempt by Darkrai to strike him with Ice Beam. From the dragon's back, Everton took the opportunity to grandstand a bit. "This test of the Dreamyarn Inceptor truly is successful! I will have the pleasure of destroying all of those Pokémon and then you, Matt Chiaki, and I'll do it all by myself! My road of victory to the future is now clear of all obstacles!"

"Don't count on it, Liam!" Matt growled through gritted teeth. He had to admit in his mind, though, that things were looking rather bad for him. So far it had proved impossible to break through past Everton and Hydreigon to reach the Everton International building, and if he couldn't accomplish that, then his plans would end up being for nothing. Knowing he had to somehow find a way to create an opening, Matt quickly devised a new strategy for attack. "Darkrai, attack Hydreigon directly with Dark Void!"

"So you're surrendering?" Everton laughed with great pride. "Hydreigon is already asleep! You can do nothing!"

Nevertheless, Darkrai floated in front of Hydreigon, and in his arrogance, Everton allowed it to. It formed a dark orb in between its claws and then threw the black energy. The sphere enlarged when it hit Hydreigon, enveloping both Everton and his Pokémon in pitch-black darkness.

"Now," Matt yelled at the top of his lungs, "Ayingott, Ice Beam! Cresselia, Signal Beam!"

Suddenly, Matt's strategy became clear. As they were still trapped in the orb of darkness, Everton and Hydreigon could not see Ayingott and Cresselia taking up positions flanking them. By the time that Dark Void dissipated, Ayingott and Cresselia had already launched their respective Ice Beam and Signal Beam.

Grunting in frustration, Everton snarled to Hydreigon, "Tri Attack!"

Sparks of fire and ice took shape in the mouths of Hydreigon's right and left heads, while a flash of electricity appeared in the mouth of his center head. The electrical blast blew Darkrai away, while the fire and ice pushed against Ice Beam and Signal Beam in an attempt to force them back. Mere feet from Hydreigon, the combined attacks exploded, slightly hurting Ayingott and Cresselia as well as Hydreigon.

Taking advantage of this, Matt soared down toward the city streets on the hoverboard with Victini holding on to his shoulder. "If I can stay down near the streets and in between the buildings," he reasoned, "then I might be able to stay where Hydreigon can't reach me!"

Not long after he reached street level, though, that line of logic came crashing down on Matt. The shadow of Hydreigon loomed over him, the dragon well within reach of delivering more of its devastating attacks.

"Come out, come out wherever you are, you trash!" Everton mocked from his perch on high. "Hydreigon, Tri Attack!"

Matt was barely able to escape the red, yellow and blue energy field that Hydreigon dropped in his direction; he nearly fell off the hoverboard from the attack's explosion upon hitting one of the office buildings nearby. The glass from the building also shattered, presenting a brief but dangerous hazard.

"Hethna, help me!" he called skyward. "Brick Break!"

Responding swiftly with a mechanical grunt, Hethna quickly rocketed into the picture and took a swing at Hydreigon. However, Everton was more than prepared to pull his Pokémon out of the way, leaving Hethna to crash and punch the helipad atop one of the other buildings.

"It's impossible to sneak attack me!" thundered Everton, directing Hydreigon's wrath in Hethna's direction. The Golurk was still recovering from having crashed on the roof of the building, but to Everton, this simply presented a moment of weakness. "Dragon Pulse!"

"Goluuuuuuhhhh!" Hethna rumbled in pain from the maelstrom of purple energy that Hydreigon unleashed on it. After a minute under the relentless force of Hydreigon's assault, the building began to partially collapse, seemingly taking Hethna with it.

"Hethna!" Matt screamed in dismay. Though upset that he had now lost a little bit of his previous numbers advantage over Everton, Matt was far more disturbed by the apparent loss of a Pokémon only just recently entrusted to him. Pulling the hoverboard back into the airspace over the city, he desperately shouted out, "Liam, please, I'm begging you, see that what you're doing is wrong! Even if the planet's not ready for energy sources to replace oil, that's no justification to do all of this so you can use energy resources to take over another country!"

Everton had to admit to himself that he was at least slightly impressed that Matt had pieced together most of his motives. Despite that begrudging admiration, however, there was no room in him for a sudden change of heart. "So it is only right at the very end that you finally understand," he growled. "To be expected of a piece of Sinnoh trash like yourself. Hydreigon, get ready and finish him off with Dragon Pul…"

A sudden loud, jarring roar interrupted Everton's command, and a second Dragon Pulse shot out of nowhere to collide violently with Hydreigon. The impact flung Hydreigon through the air and threw Everton off his back, sending the captain falling toward the city. With the threat of Hydreigon eliminated temporarily, Matt flew over to the partially collapsed building where Hethna had fallen; he paid no mind to Everton falling and subsequently failed to notice him take a pen-like device from his coat and open it to produce a hang-glider that carried him off in the direction of his flagship.

The roar had come from Butler's Salamence, evidently sent by the magician to aid in the battle.

Already relieved with his assumption that Everton had fallen to the city and perished, Matt got a second bonus when Hethna burst back up from the wreckage of the building, surprisingly appearing to be more healthy than it had seemed to be a few minutes prior.

"How are you feeling, Hethna? Doing alright?" Hethna's short nod was all Matt needed to be assured of its status. He called to Ayingott, Salamence, Cresselia and Darkrai, and they gathered around him before he explained, "I have to make my way to Everton's headquarters. You five stay behind and work together to stop Hydreigon from getting in the way. Alright?"

To a chorus of cheering from the five Pokémon in his service, Matt turned the hoverboard directly toward the Everton International building and glided off to his destination with Victini in tow.

-:-

On the bridge of Everton's flagship, Foster sat in one of the chairs on the lower level near Fennel. He had his head held in his hands and wore a dejected look on his face.

"Was it really all worth it? Was this truly what we dreamed of accomplishing for so long?"

"What do you mean exactly, Foster?" By this point, despite the fact Baker was still trying to lord over the others on the bridge, Fennel had turned away from her work.

"Captain Everton hired both Baker and I off the streets of Whitegold City two decades ago. We were just common street punks who made money by hustling people in battles using our Throh and Sawk until he hired us and gave us real jobs. Needless to say, we – or should I say, I – pretty much blindly supported him in his goal to capture Victini and gain the Victory Star's power. But… looking at everything that's happened now, I can't agree with those ideals any further… I can't reconcile myself with the terrible means and ends this whole plan necessitated anymore. The Victory Star has done nothing but bad things to those who have been pursuing it."

In a sudden moment of extreme anger, Baker punched Foster squarely in the face, knocking the redheaded guard to the floor and eliciting a started shriek from Fennel.

"We swore to always loyally serve Captain Everton, you fool!" raved Baker. He was gesturing wildly while standing over Foster. "If you are giving up on what that means for us, you can go back on the streets and try to live like we used to! Look out there, the results of our quest for the energy of the future are right there before our eyes!"

"You never used to be like this, brother…" Foster gasped, identifying a common bond between himself and Baker that hadn't been apparent before. "Our research may have initiated an apocalyptic doomsday scenario. This just can't be right…"

-:-

Not long after Matt and Victini left the space where the battle with Everton had unfolded, Hydreigon returned and re-engaged Ayingott, Hethna, Salamence, Darkrai and Cresselia in battle. The six Pokémon moved through the air at high speed, cutting through the lower-hanging clouds and launching a frenzied series of attacks against each other.

Nekou, Olivia, Bunny, Katorena and Rowena were watching from Katorena's yacht as Hethna attempted in vain to wrestle Hydreigon down with its huge hands.

"Go for it, Hethna!" Olivia called out. She knew that her words would be drowned out by noise long before reaching Hethna, but she hoped that their spirit would reach it anyway. "And all you others, too! Stop Hydreigon!"

Rowena was a lot less enthusiastic about the whole situation. "Ordinarily I love it when such a sensational story takes place," she mumbled in a depressed manner, "but there is no way anyone could be glad this is happening. This is one exclusive I wish I never had to cover…"

"This is getting to be a little boring, frankly," Nekou complained, her eyes half-closed in what appeared to be a mockery of her own boredom claims. "I want to go read or something."

Just then, the wrestling match between Hethna and Hydreigon separated. Hethna had managed to gain the upper hand in terms of physical strength for a split second, and made the move of flinging Hydreigon down. Unfortunately, the direction Hethna decided to throw Hydreigon ended up being a collision course with the yacht, whose five passengers could only watch in horror as the large-bodied dragon plummeted toward then.

Thankfully, the yacht avoided having its hull breached when Hydreigon crashed into its side. His three heads lowered reflexively toward Olivia, though, which caused her to scream in terror and run to hide back inside the cabin. As Hydreigon pulled himself from the side of the boat, he apprised his potential victims there, but found no reason to be interested in them and flew off to restart the battle again.

Just as Hydreigon left, though, the horrible screeching of metal indicated another problem completely – the Dark-and-Dragon-type's impact dislodged and eventually broke the chain of the yacht's anchor, leaving it in drift.

"Aw, fuck, that can't be good…"

Nekou's words proved to be almost prophetic, as just as they had finished leaving her mouth, the beginnings of the flood waters started to arrive in the harbor. The yacht was rocked violently by the waves, with Nekou, Bunny, Katorena and Rowena all holding on to the railing for dear life. The situation got even worse when a sudden surge in the water's level washed the yacht up onto the dock, where it started getting carried inland by the flood.

"Everyone, get in the cabin!" To illustrate her direction, Bunny grabbed Nekou's right shoulder and guided her toward the cabin's doorway. While Katorena and Rowena followed, Bunny added, "If we stay out here, we'll be thrown overboard. We have to get our lifejackets on in case this yacht capsizes, but staying out on the deck is suicide either way!"

-:-

Even while the violent tide rapidly rose beneath them, the ships acting as refuge for the city's citizens and tourists stayed stable thanks to their own anchors still being deployed. The evacuees in control of their Ice-using Pokémon struggled to stay on their feet to lead the effort, but they managed to show surprising resilience in the face of the storm.

Standing side-by-side on the deck of the center ship, Woods and Aurelie watched as the black clouds covering Whitegold City congealed rapidly into a new and more defined shape. A giant spiral was taking form in the sky, with the storm's eye centering right over the vicinity of the old church where this had all started when Everton absorbed the Victory Star. A starry night sky could even be seen through the eye, which connected all the way from the city to the open air above the storm system.

"Will Whitegold City survive?" Aurelie mused quietly to herself. "Will [i]we[/i] survive?"

Before Woods could answer, his personal response was almost decided for him. During the brutal struggle unfolding between Everton's Hydreigon and the Pokémon opposing it, one of Butler's Salamence's Hyper Beam attacks went astray and struck the side of the ship right near where Woods and Aurelie were standing. The blast caused the ship to rock sharply, sending Woods plummeting into the danger of falling overboard.

"Aurelie!" he howled in a desperate frenzy, reaching out for anything that would break his fall. "Help me!"

Luckily, just as his body flipped over the railing and got ready to fall to the water, Aurelie's Gothitelle rushed out from behind her trainer and caught him using her psychic powers. With the ship now stable again, Gothitelle dropped Woods carefully back on the deck.

"Are you alright, Woods?" Aurelie asked. When she didn't get an immediate response, she repeated, "Woods? You are okay, right?"

Visibly shaken by his near-death experience, Woods remained silent until he finally snapped and embraced Aurelie tightly. "All of this is happening because I trusted Liam too much and denied to myself the path he was taking! I can't take any more of these horrors brought on by my own foolishness!"

"Stop talking like that!" the old fortuneteller reprimanded. "The only one at fault here is Everton. No one else deserves any blame for these disasters unless we fail to stop them." Turning her gaze up to where the Pokémon were fighting, Aurelie directed, "Gothitelle, join the fight. Do what you can to help them defeat Hydreigon."

"Gothi, telle!"

Gothitelle levitated and bravely floated off toward the battle, showing no fear in her resolve to help just as Aurelie had directed her.

-:-

With great haste, Matt guided the hoverboard down to the concrete just outside the entrance of the Everton International building. He was singularly focused on accomplishing the mission he had devised with Rowena, and was fully aware that the survival of the city very well could depend on it. He landed and deftly jumped to the ground, then made for the automatic doors into the building while Victini silently followed him.

What he found when he got into the lobby, however, surprised him immensely. Midori Makise was still at the building, and she was arguing with the sour-tempered receptionist at her desk.

"Kyoko, you have to listen to me. This is no laughing matter, the city's in grave danger and you could die if you don't leave now!"

"I haven't been dismissed from work yet," Kyoko, the receptionist, countered. "Nothing will get me away from my job. What I do is important and cannot simply be abandoned, and your status is the same. Why are you leaving your post?"

"She's leaving because her life is even more important than her job," Matt interjected, swiftly moving over to the desk where the two women were.

"Matt Chiaki?" Midori said in surprise. "Why are you here of all places?"

"Because I need to get into Everton's office and access this building's mainframe through his computer."

"I will not let you do such a thing!" Kyoko raged. "Nobody is allowed in Captain Everton's office without his permission, and most certainly no one is allowed to access his computer…"

"The city's fate rests on whether I can pull this off in time or not! Listen, there are floodwaters rushing toward us right now from the collapsed dam. This entire city is going to sink into the sea soon if something isn't done! Now… where is Everton's office?"

Neither Midori nor Kyoko responded to Matt's plea at first. However, Midori quickly made up her mind, seizing the wrists of both Matt and Kyoko and dragging the surprised pair to an elevator just behind Kyoko's desk.

"What are you doing, Midori?" demanded the receptionist. "Have you lost your mind?"

"I haven't lost my mind," Midori answered while opening the doors into the elevator, "but I have lost my faith in Captain Everton, and that's why I'm helping Matt. Now, get inside!"

Midori pulled Kyoko into the elevator, while Matt and Victini entered of their own free will. Appropriately for an elevator created only for certain people to use, the car was lavishly outfitted with the same trappings as the lobby of the building. Unlike most elevators, though, there were only two buttons next to the door, and Midori pressed the top one.

-:-

Foster, Fennel and Baker had a front-row seat to the battle taking place outside their ship via the huge projection screen on the bridge. They were able to see Aurelie's Gothitelle arrive in the fight and immediately begin attacking by using Shadow Ball.

Hydreigon effortlessly shook the Shadow Ball off, but when Salamence, Ayingott and Darkrai ganged up on him using Hyper Beam, Ice Beam and Thunder, it took an extremely focused Tri Attack for him to push back without suffering significant injury. What this did do, though, was leave Hydreigon open for Hethna to fly in and punch him squarely in the stomach using Brick Break.

"Yes!" Foster exclaimed. "What a hit!"

"At this rate, they will steadily wear Hydreigon out," Fennel felt compelled to add. "We may very well win this fight."

Baker wasn't so excited, however. He watched the developing struggle with a continually escalating feeling of sickness in his stomach, and that sickness was not over anything helpful, it was over the chance that Everton might fail. A sudden wave of irrational anger swept over him, and while mumbling incoherently, Baker dragged himself over to Fennel, physically lifted her out of her seat and threw her to the floor.

While Fennel screamed, Foster and Throh could only gasp in shock at how insane Baker's actions were becoming. "Have you lost all of your standards, brother?"

"I have not lost any of my standards, instead, my standards just happen to be different than yours. I think it's time I made that completely clear!"

Sweeping his fingers over the keyboard of Fennel's computer, Baker entered a command that caused the glowing metallic shell around Musharna's pedestal to close up even further while sounding the deafening windchime noise. Just like before, the clouds around Musharna and the other Pokémon got even thicker.

"Dreamyarn Inceptor current power output is eighty percent of full capacity."

"Munna, use Telekinesis!"

Before he could celebrate his actions, Baker was caught off-guard by a light-green glow surrounding his body, the source of which was a pink, flower-patterned Pokémon strikingly similar to Musharna that Fennel had sent out. Baker did not immediately realize that the effect of what Munna was doing was actually levitating him off the ground, rendering his attempts at movement hopeless, but when he did realize it, he became visibly enraged and tried to claw through the air toward Fennel.

"Muuunnaaaaaaaa!"

By stretching out her body, Munna allowed her psychic power to throw Baker upward, crashing him over the control panel for the ship on the upper part of the bridge.

"Take that, you creep!" Fennel yelled after him. She felt a great sense of satisfaction at having beaten Baker and taken some revenge for everything.

"Excellent work, Fennel!" Foster congratulated her. "Now, can we bring this system under control?"

"I don't know," she answered, sitting back down at the computer. "It was never meant to be used in this way, so I'm not totally certain how to handle this."

-:-

The aura surrounding Hydreigon had intensified when he received more power from the Dreamyarn Inceptor, and in turn, his attacks had become even more vicious as well. Ayingott, Hethna and Cresselia tried to strike him in a group, only to be stopped by a Dragon Pulse that also completely destroyed an office building on the ground below.

This also presented what seemed like an opening to Darkrai, and it took advantage of the chance by getting behind Hydreigon and shooting a doubly-strong Ice Beam at the dragon's back. While it did hit, even leaving behind some frost on Hydreigon's wings, he once again seemed completely unfazed by the damage. He whipped around violently and immediately shaped a Focus Blast orb for use in striking back against Darkrai, but like before, Cresselia took the attack to protect Darkrai by diving into it with her head aglow in a Zen Headbutt attack.

Hydreigon would have none of this, though, and brutally cut Cresselia down by enveloping her within the raw energy of a Dragon Pulse backed by unprecedented force. The Legendary Psychic-type Pokémon, critically wounded, was left to plummet to the city below as it quickly filled with water.

-:-

"Tinicu?"

Apparently sensing Cresselia's defeat, Victini became noticeably agitated while riding up in the elevator with Matt, Midori and Kyoko. It pressed itself up against the wall of the elevator closest to the battle outside, then, unable to check its emotions any longer, began crying.

"What's got Victini so upset?" Kyoko asked in a rather demanding fashion.

"I think I have an idea…" Matt lowered himself to Victini's level as he spoke. "What's distressing Victini so much… out there, Cresselia just got hurt pretty bad, didn't she?"

"Viku!" Victini responded, bobbing its head shortly to show just how right Matt was.

"Everything's going to be alright, Victini, I promise. As soon as we get to the right floor, I'll help fix things so that this city can survive, and then we can see about making sure Cresselia's alright too. You just have to believe that everything is going to be okay, alright?"

Significantly cheered up by Matt's encouragement, Victini jumped onto his head, an action that elicited amused, subtle laughs from both Midori and Kyoko.

Just then, the elevator arrived at the top floor of the building with a rather abrupt stop that shook up its passengers. When the doors gave way to reveal Everton's opulent office, Matt found his desk and computer nearly immediately, then quickly walked over to them with Victini while Midori and Kyoko followed at a slower pace. Rainwater dripping off of his suit left numerous stains on the carpent, while the tall windows that wrapped around much of his office gave a hypnotic, nearly dizzying effect when combined with the torrential rain rolling down them and the periodic flashes of lightning illuminating the sky.

Matt shoved Everton's chair aside to make room behind the desk, sending it crashing to the floor. The computer on his desk had been left unused for a number of hours straight, leaving it in a sleep mode that demanded a password immediately upon Matt rousing it.

"Another password? Let's see…" he mused, taking guesses out loud. "Victini… Darkrai… petroleum… Klinklang… Cryogonal… Hydreigon… dreams… victory…"

The moment Matt typed the complete word 'victory' into the computer and hit the Enter key, the password screen gave way to the programs Everton had been using earlier set against his silver-and-blue wallpaper. After sighing wryly to himself over the continued simplicity of Everton's passwords, Matt reached into his bag and took out the flash drive, which he installed in the computer's drive just as he had been instructed.

"That ought to do it," he said, half to himself and half to Midori and Kyoko. "It's all up to Rowena now, but she should be able to solve this, no problem."

He thought he heard footsteps, but believing them to belong to either the news anchor or the receptionist, Matt did not pay them much mind at all.

He would have been well served to see the sound as a warning.

Before either Matt or Victini could move away from the desk, an orange electrical beam shot across the office and struck the Psychic-and-Fire-type Pokémon. Matt lunged across the desk and grabbed Victini, but the beam refused to let up and wrenched the Victory Pokémon out of his grip, even as he lie on the floor struggling.

Victini was carried back to the source of the beam, which much to Matt's horror, was a wrist-mounted weapon being used by a completely disheveled Liam Everton. Once he had the Pokémon within his grasp, he collected it and threw it back into the special briefcase used to contain it earlier.

"My victory is inevitable," he said slowly and severely while looking down the slope of his nose at Matt. "With no dreams, you will never be able to stop me. Now perish in a grave at the bottom of the ocean."

Though Matt had managed to get back up to his feet, it was far too late to stop Everton from turning abruptly and escaping using a doorway previously unnoticed.

"He's heading for the heliport on the top of the building…" Kyoko warned nervously, having remained silent with Midori until this point. "If he gets a helicopter, there'll be no stopping his escape!"

"Stay on one of the upper floors!" Matt directed the two women as he ran frantically past them.

Past the door that Everton escaped through was a stairwell of great length, quite clearly going all the way up to the tower's roof. Matt spotted Everton just under one story up from the beginning of the path, and with a desperate resolve to not let him get away with Victini at the forefront, rushed forth in pursuit.

-:-

Nekou, Bunny, Olivia, Rowena and Katorena, all wearing bright yellow lifejackets, were struggling to stay on their feet in the cabin of the yacht as it was tossed violently in the waters flooding Whitegold City's streets. Especially bad was whenever the yacht struck a building or other structure, as the violent shaking of the vessel rendered it completely impossible to stay up at all. Nekou had it worst of all because of her injured shoulder, which forced Rowena to help hold her up.

"Make it stop!" Olivia cried in distress. "Someone just make this whole thing stop! I can't take any more!"

"It has to stop soon," Bunny revealed darkly, "or at least before we get washed to the open ocean on the other side of Whitegold City. If that happens, we'll be in real trouble."

"Do you feel that?" Nekou suddenly asked, seeming to not pay any mind to Bunny's opinion.

"You're right," replied Rowena, "the ride's suddenly smoothed out. That only could mean… we're on a wave! Brace yourselves!"

This guess was exactly correct. A tongue of water was pulling up from the main flood tide, and it just happened to be under the yacht, which was thrown into the air for a short time. It crashed onto the roof of one of the office buildings, throwing all its passengers to the floor in a chorus of horrible screams as it finally settled into a position above the rushing flood water.

-:-

Matt had managed to close the distance between himself and Everton to only a few feet by way of being better with stairs, but he just could not catch up completely before they reached the final level.

Without turning around, Everton crashed through the thin door just ahead, closely followed by Matt. The two were now on the partially-enclosed roof which doubled as a heliport; the covering overhead was opened to the stormy sky, and Everton's huge helicopter sat on the pad with its engines running and cargo hatch door lowered to form a ramp.

"Stop, Liam!" Matt called out, even though he knew it was in vain.

"Never!"

Everton sprinted up the ramp into the cargo hold of the helicopter, which then began to slowly close. Seeing his last chance to stop Everton slipping away, Matt lunged for the ramp and managed to catch himself by the midsection on it. He then realized that he had to be all the way in before the hatch fully closed, so with great effort, he pulled himself over the edge and tumbled down to the metal floor just in time.

Matt tried to regroup, but he hesitated for a moment when the entire helicopter shook. "It's taking off," he realized. "Must be on autopilot."

Finally rising to his feet, Matt took a deep breath and then looked forward. He was now standing face-to-face with Liam Everton, the man behind the disasters consuming the entire planet, and neither of them had anywhere left to run.

"This is it, Liam," Matt said, putting words to his thoughts. "It ends here."

"You're right about that," Everton smugly answered, tapping the case containing Victini with his foot. "All the pieces are now assembled in my favor, so the victory of my dreams is finally attainable! It really is a pity that even in the end, you could never appreciate my genius."

"Genius?" Curling his eyebrows and lips in disgust, Matt completed his thought by saying, "You're nothing but a madman! Risking the destruction of the entire world to accomplish some selfish goals is completely insane!"

"I'm no madman, I'm a hero, but I wouldn't expect some trash from Sinnoh like you to understand that. I am saving this world!"

"Sure. Like I haven't heard that before."

"That is truly my dream!" Everton continued to protest. "Do you want me to spell out everything for you? Fine! My intention, now that I have the Victory Star, is to first take over the Tohjo Continent by taking control of the Governor's office. Then, I'll use my Victory Star to find all oil fields on the planet, and by using my newfound control over the world's energy market, I'll take over Sinnoh and then the rest of the world by forcing them to accept my will in exchange for oil. One by one, regions will be incorporated into my new nation, and once the entire world is a part of my country, there will be peace through unification!"

Everton's eye had started bleeding again, which Matt noticed when the old man whipped his head upward.

"Isn't that what I told you I always dreamed, Grandpa? My dreams are finally within reach, just like how you explained it! Never again will there be conflict between nations! I will have brought peace!"

"Liam, you're mad…" Matt gasped once Everton's rant was finally done. "You see, the thing about peace is, it's completely unknowable. People will always be bitter about things in the world. You cannot placate billions of people all at once, especially by driving them into poverty so they'll beg for your energy resources."

"The means are justified by such an end! No matter what I have to do, the redemption of the world is a high payoff that could never be equaled by anything!"

"Do you even hear yourself?" Matt's one visible eyebrow was raised up about as far as it could go, while the eye beneath it had narrowed. All of this was an expression of the intense frustration and anger Matt felt while trying to understand Liam Everton's intentions. "You're only trying to justify your actions. None of this altruistic 'save the world' crap is really what's on your mind, not with the sheer number of people who would be driven into desperate poverty for your plan to work."

Everton shut his eyes, surprisingly calmly so, and crossed his arms behind his back. "You're right, I have to give you that much. It is all necessary, however. Only by being driven into crushing poverty will those other pathetic nations come to understand just how much they need what I have. The Tohjo Continent is the greatest country on the face of this Earth, and that fact shall be made perfectly clear in time. Any nation that falls into poverty is merely fate playing itself out as it should, because it will just prove that mine is the superior country."

"Answer me one thing, though. What was the point of cheating the stock market today?"

"Startup money, of course. Taking over the world ain't cheap."

The shooting pain in Everton's head suddenly returned as he finished that sentence, causing him to open his eyes, lurch over and grasp his face over his left eye. Drops of blood coursed down his face and dripped to the floor, each one tapping lightly when it struck the ground.

"Victory Star, what are you showing me now?" Whatever Everton was seeing caused him to become increasingly upset. His entire body spasmed as he choked, "What… what…? No… it can't be! It just… can't be!"

"What?"

Whipping around, Everton hit a button on the control console to turn on the large video screen overlooking the cargo hold. It displayed a well-groomed man likely in his fifties who was wearing a brown suit and sitting behind a glass desk.

"Our biggest story tonight continues to be the unfolding global disaster centered around Whitegold City in Kanto. On that note, we have some breaking news to bring you. New information has implicated Captain Liam Everton, the president of oil giant and banking company Everton International, as the cause behind the entire disaster. Effective immediately, all of Everton's assets have been frozen, including the hundreds of millions of dollars he is accused of defrauding from the stock market, and a warrant has been placed for his arrest by the International Police."

"No… no… my victory, it can't escape me now…"

"Hah!" Matt laughed, making the mistake of getting overconfident again now that things seemed to be going in his favor. "That's it, Liam, you have nowhere to run now. Your money's gone and with an elite law enforcement organization on your tail, you have no way to implement your plan. Face it, you have lost."

The mistake Matt had made was that while he was correct in believing he had Everton cornered, he never factored in that a cornered animal could still very well strike back.

At first, Everton just growled and lowered his head. After a moment, though, he suddenly whipped back up and tore the two remaining Ultra Balls from his coat. "My dreams will come true! Nothing will stop me! Klinklang, Cryogonal, come out and destroy this pest once and for all!"

-:-

After crashing through the countless office buildings of the city's rich business district, the wall of water flooding the city collided with the Everton International building. The glass making up the front of the lobby could not hold up for long against the immense pressure put on by the water and soon shattered.

The lobby filled with water in only a few minutes. All the electronics in the ground-floor room, including the bank of monitors telling Everton's history and the giant illuminated logo behind Kyoko's desk, shorted out. Something similar happened in Fennel's basement lab, which quickly went dark as the water poured in.

It was lucky that the Whitegold Dome had been evacuated, for at that point, it was flooding as well. The game field was already covered, and the water was working its way up the seats row by row.

-:-

Tanya was the only battle-ready Pokémon Matt had available at the moment, so he was forced to fight off Klinklang and Cryogonal using her alone. Actually, though the fight was nominally two against one, Cryogonal was holding back due to a lack of moves effective against a Heatran, so truly it was Tanya versus Klinklang.

"Klinklang, use Rock Smash now!" Everton fumed.

"Tanya, Magma Storm!"

For being a living, floating network of gears, Klinklang displayed surprising agility in floating out of the way of the vortex of flame Tanya sent in its direction. Its own attack simply involved crashing into Tanya while rapidly rotating, and it managed to make a small gash in the steel armor protecting her head.

"I didn't want to have to do this, but I have no choice," Matt thought, slowly drawing his hand to a spare Poké Ball in his bag. "Go, Reuni…"

"Not so fast! Cryogonal, Bind him!"

Like earlier at the church, Cryogonal whipped its ice chains forward and ensnared Matt within their grasp. He started shivering almost immediately, the cold pervading his body right down to the metallic bone.

"The one thing this body can't stand is the cold…" he whispered to himself. "I'm in trouble now…"

Unluckily for him, Everton overheard his mumbling. A broad, cocky smile spread across the old captain's features as he turned his head upward and shouted, "Cryogonal, now attack with Frost Breath. Finish him off yourself."

"Cryo?"

Matt had shut his eyes in preparation for the cold blast that would spell his death, but it never came. Cryogonal, unable to carry the order out, hesitated.

"Did you hear me, Cryogonal? Do it now! Kill him!"

Cryogonal's hesitation presented Matt the perfect chance for a comeback. "T-Tanya… get them! M-Magma Storm!"

Being trapped in position because of having to hold Matt in Bind, Cryogonal was a sitting duck right in Tanya's line of sight, while Klinklang just happened to have floated nearby as well. As a result, when Tanya opened her mouth and belched out the violent tornado of fire, it caught both Pokémon up in its intense heat.

Now freed from Cryogonal's grasp, Matt ran over to Tanya and embraced her, allowing the heat of her body to warm him. This show of affection wasn't lost on Tanya, who, despite her intimidating appearance, was somewhat excitable and childish and as such loved the attention she got.

On the other side of the hold, however, the scene was very different. Klinklang and Cryogonal had crumpled to the floor, and Everton was even further enraged by this.

"Get up, you useless Pokémon! Kill him now! Do you understand? I am your master! You follow my commands!"

Klinklang and Cryogonal rose into the air again, but they were angry. It wasn't Matt that was the target of their ire, though, it was Everton; they simply continued floating in place and refused to attack further.

"You disobey me? Fine, I don't need you two anymore!" Pulling out the empty Ultra Balls that represented his control of Klinklang and Cryogonal, Everton threw them to the floor and smashed them under his foot. "Consider that your walking papers! Hydreigon will be the only weapon I need now to make my dreams reality!"

After returning Tanya to her Dusk Ball, Matt stepped forward and said, "So you've released your only two other Pokémon, which means you have none left. I'd say you've lost, Liam, so hand Victini back to me."

"NEVER!"

Matt could never have expected Everton to lunge straight for him, so as a result he flinched before he could get away, and Everton got his hands tightly around Matt's throat.

"Do you think you can ever defeat me, you trash? Even with that body of yours, you still have to breathe, so if some useless Pokémon cannot kill you, I'll do it with my bare hands!"

There was plenty of truth to what Everton said; Matt was already beginning to feel faint from lack of air. It didn't matter much, though, for as soon as Matt recovered his grip on the situation, he separated himself from Everton by kneeing the old man in the stomach. Once free from Everton's grip, he had a short time of complete freedom, and as he knew he had to seize it, he headed for the sealed case entrapping Victini and opened it.

"Viku! Viku! Tiiiii!" Victini was quite obviously overjoyed to be free again, and expressed its excitement by grabbing onto Matt's head once more.

"It's over, my friend. You won't have to worry anymore about Liam Everton terrorizing you."

"Is that right?"

A sudden, swift punch connected with the back of Matt's head, knocking him forward and flinging Victini through the air. It didn't cause him much pain, but it was still enough to stun him momentarily.

"Do you really think that will be enough to get me, Liam?" Matt abruptly swung around, directing his elbow as a weapon, only to find that Everton was no longer directly behind him. "Huh?"

"Too slow!" Everton laughed before delivering another punch, a right hook straight to Matt's cheek.

The right hook was more forceful than the first sucker punch was, causing Matt to reel back. He eventually tripped backward and crashed against the control computer, accidentally activating a command in it. A terrible creaking sound filled the air as the loading hatch ramp lurched open, making their struggle even more dangerous. Matt spied the now-open hatch out of the corner of his eye with great concern, but he had no time to be worried about anything other than himself. Before Matt knew it, Everton had his hands around his neck again.

"Sssh. Things will be over very soon. You just had to get involved personally with the fates of the people of this city… that is what will be the reason for your death. I would have expected better from a genius like you."

"It's… not… over yet!"

Feeling a sudden burst of energy, Matt pushed back against Everton, forcing their struggle back into the middle of the cargo hold. Everton was still trying to choke him, but now Matt was fighting back, attempting to shove Everton away.

While the two men tried to subdue each other using as much strength as they could muster, the clash pitting Hethna, Ayingott, Gothitelle, Salamence and Darkrai against Everton's mind-controlled Hydreigon was still unfolding outside.

Hydreigon was doing a decent job keeping up with his five opponents by using all three of his heads. With Hethna and Gothitelle on his left flank, Salamence and Ayingott on the right and Darkrai facing him straight ahead, he unleashed Flamethrower and Dragon Pulse toward the left and right. The four Pokémon separated in order to avoid these two attacks, but as a direct result of their evasive maneuvers, Gothitelle and Salamence united with Darkrai right in front of Hydreigon.

Having three targets within direct, easy grasp was too much of a tempting opportunity for Hydreigon to pass up, and he attempted to deal them all powerful blows at once using Tri Attack. However, when they moved out of the way, a new target appeared right in the line of fire.

It was Everton's helicopter.

In the chopper's cargo hold, Matt and Everton were still locked in their desperate, hand-to-hand struggle while Victini, Cryogonal and Klinklang watched. Both of them managed to land strikes on each others' faces at the same time, resulting in them being pushed away from each other.

"You're no slouch, Liam, I've got to give you that much."

"The Victory Star grants me youthful endurance, so it's no surprise."

Just then, the misguided Tri Attack plummeted into the side of the helicopter and exploded violently, causing critical damage to the craft's structure. As pieces of metal showered down onto the flooded city, the helicopter began spinning out of control, having had its engines heavily damaged by the impact.

When the entire chopper rocked back, it caused both Matt and Everton to lose their footing inside the cargo hold and fall – Matt backward, Everton face-first – out into the open air over the city. Nothing remained for either of them to catch themselves on, and neither had any equipment to use to save themselves from a freefall into the flooded streets.

"Is this how it ends?" Matt thought to himself, while watching the helicopter spin out and crash some distance away. "Not even this body stands a good chance of surviving this fall… and even if I do make it, I won't be able to escape the floodwaters. Olivia, Amanda, I'm sorry, but I'm going to be with Eleanor now."

Accepting his seemingly inevitable death, Matt shut his eyes in an attempt to find peace in his demise. However, even that would evade him, due to a trio of familiar voices ringing in his ears.

"Victiii!"

"Cry-ogo~!"

"Klangklang!"

Opening his eyes again, Matt spotted Victini diving down through the air toward him, and surprisingly enough, Cryogonal and Klinklang were behind it. Cryogonal lashed its ice chain downward and wrapped it around Matt's leg, abruptly breaking his fall.

"Victini!" Matt gasped in relief. "Cryogonal, Klinklang! Thank you, all three of you…"

Because Klinklang and Cryogonal had betrayed him to save Matt, there was nothing Everton could do to change his fate. As he screamed at the top of his lungs, he fell all the way down to the flooded streets of the city and hit the water; because of the youthful endurance granted to his body by the Victory Star, he did not die on impact. Instead, he turned right side up again and attempted to swim to safety, only to find that the current was far too strong. He could do nothing but flail helplessly as he was washed into an opening leading into the underground tunnel system.

"There's nothing more we can do about him," Matt coldly commented, still hanging upside down by his leg and holding on his hat. From this vantage point, he could see over much of the water-filled city, through which objects ranging from broken pieces of destroyed buildings to shipping containers from the harbor were floating. Having noticed Katorena's yacht sitting on the rooftop where it had been dropped, he said, "Cryogonal, please take me over to that yacht. That's where I need to be."

-:-

"Come on… come on…"

Rowena was working furiously on her computer, but was clearly very frustrated and tense with what she was confronting, a fact made evident by the beads of sweat rolling down her furled face.

"Rowena, what is the impediment?" Katorena demanded impatiently. "Should the drainage gates not be open already?"

"His mainframe has thick layers of protection shielding the route to the drainage gate opening trigger," the reporter explained. "I should be able to crack this, but I need more time."

"That's something we don't have much of," mumbled Nekou.

"Tell me something I don't know!"

A crashing sound outside on the deck of the yacht caused Katorena, Olivia, Nekou and Bunny to turn in surprise, while also distracting Rowena from her work.

"What was that?"

"I'll go find out, Olivia."

Bunny made for the door, but before she could open it, Matt opened it from the outside and stumbled in with Victini right alongside him. He was quite a sight to the quartet, with his clothing soaked and torn from the lengthy struggle against Everton both in and out of the rain.

"Your appearance has turned so unbecoming." Though both Matt and Bunny initially cringed at Katorena's seemingly caustic comment, they both quickly realized that she meant no harm by it. "What happened to you out there?"

"The long version or the short version?" Matt sighed, before automatically settling on the latter option. "Everton survived falling off of Hydreigon and tried to recapture Victini, but when we were fighting on his helicopter, something happened that caused it to crash after we were both thrown off. His Cryogonal and Klinklang are on our side now and saved me, but he fell into the floodwater and got washed away."

"Is that bastard still alive?" Nekou asked, her question accentuated by narrowing her left eye. "Tell me I get one last shot at him."

"Can't promise you anything. I saw him fall in the water and get washed away… I've got no clue if he survived or not." Shifting his head toward Rowena, Matt questioned, "How's the progress on breaking into his mainframe to open the drainage gates?"

"I've broken through a few layers of security, but even with access through his master computer, I still have more to go."

"What about the storm? Has our idea to cut off the growth of the storm by cooling the temperatures worked?"

Tapping several keys on her computer, Rowena moved away from her hacking temporarily to bring up real-time temperature readouts for the city's air and water. "Temperatures aren't changing enough to make a significant difference. The growth of the storm system has only been slowed, not stopped or reversed."

"Damn it…" Matt growled into the fist he slammed down on the table. "We're running out of time... it won't be long now before what's happened is totally irreversible…"

-:-

The water Everton found himself trapped under in the tunnels exerted a painful amount of pressure on his body, but it was nothing compared to the crushing feeling filling his lungs as he held his breath. Over and over again, he forced his ebbing strength into activating the Victory Star as part of a desperate attempt to find a way out of the labyrinth of tunnels.

He had managed to navigate relatively far using what visions he could manage to grasp, but soon enough, he came to an insurmountable problem – the currents had washed him right into a tube closed by one of the drainage gates, which he had directed to be sealed in the first place.

Now unable to progress forward or backtrack against the current, and no longer possessing the strength to force the Victory Star to show him a way out, Everton finally had to confront the idea of defeat. His body trembled as he expended the last of his strength to take another pen-like device from a pocket in his jacket.

"So this… this is how it ends…" he thought, feeling the full effects of the strain on his body. "So be it. Grandpa, I did what you said… I followed my dream… my dream of bringing the rightful ruling nation of this world back to power through the use of energy… if they cannot see the brilliance in my visionary plan, then… they can all die."

Just before the life finally faded from his eyes, Everton crushed the button on the device down under his thumb.

-:-

"Things are looking pretty bad out there, Fennel!" Foster exclaimed while watching a video feed of the battle against Hydreigon from a separate screen on the bridge. "Have you managed to bring the Dreamyarn Inceptor under control yet? It might be the only way for Hydreigon to be stopped!"

"I've got it figured out. We have to reduce the power slowly, bit by bit. Otherwise, if we're not careful, the system could destabilize and the Dream Energy might reverse on itself, which could be catastrophic."

"Are you able to do it now?"

"Yes. Let me just get the power output control panel opened, and I'll begin lessening the system's energy."

Before Fennel could do anything, however, an alarm started blaring from her computer. The window displaying the power output level of the Dreamyarn Inceptor system still appeared, but she had no control over it anymore.

"Emergency override initiated," announced the computer. "Dreamyarn Inceptor power output is currently at full capacity. Full capacity."

As if to drive home the point of the computer's declaration, the panels surrounding Musharna roared to life with the echoing windchime noise once more, then smashed shut around her right in front of the horrified eyes of Fennel and Foster. The pink smoke turned deep purple and intensified to an unbelievably opaque level, while electricity of a similar hue started to shoot everywhere inside the machine from the now-closed shell at its core.

"Musharna!" cried the now-helpless Fennel. Nothing she could do would make the computer react anymore, meaning that the Dreamyarn Inceptor was now totally out of her control. In turn, this meant that she could do nothing to save her beloved Musharna. Even her other Pokémon, Munna, could do nothing but watch in sadness.

"What's going on…?" Foster said to himself. "A complete override of the system's programming… something is not right…"

-:-

Up in the air over Whitegold City, Hydreigon abruptly paused during his fight, allowing Gothitelle, Salamence and Ayingott to hit with a pair of heated Hyper Beams contrasted with a chilling Ice Beam.

However, the black aura that erupted around the Dark-and-Dragon-type shielded him from much of the moves' strength. Hydreigon writhed in pain as the full power of the Dreamyarn Inceptor was forced through his body, and eventually, he could no longer put up any kind of resistance. The Dream Energy took full hold of the three-headed dragon's mind, symbolized by his eyes turning completely blank, and he then let out an ear-shattering screech of a cry that echoed through the stormy sky.

Hydreigon then turned away from the Pokémon he had been fighting and took aim at a building that was tall enough to have quite a number of floors still above the floodwater, blowing the structure to bits with a Dragon Pulse so intense that it almost looked like a simple beam of light. Unable to control his mind or body any longer, Hydreigon simply flew down to the area of the city where these tall buildings were located and started rampaging, destroying everything he could using both his moves and raw force.

With bits of metal and shattered glass falling around him, though, a counterattack came. The Ice Beam clipped his wing from an angle, and when he turned in fury to see who was behind it, he spotted Ayingott floating near a building he'd just headbutted through. Hethna, Salamence, Gothitelle, Darkrai, Klinklang and Cryogonal were all nearby as well.

While Hydreigon attempted to engulf Ayingott in a supercharged Flamethrower that she barely managed to dodge, Darkrai and Cryogonal took the next initiative. They lined up next to each other and launched their own Ice Beams in tandem, hitting the same spot on Hydreigon's back. The spasm that went through Hydreigon's body showed that they did manage to injure him, but it was nowhere near enough to stop him. He whipped around and roared, sending a rain of rapidly beating Focus Blast spheres down upon them.

As harsh as the frenzied attack was, Cryogonal's powerful defenses against non-physical attacks helped it weather the barrage. Darkrai was not so lucky, and with all the injuries it had suffered earlier piled on top of the critical damage it took from the Focus Blasts, its resistance crumpled. Darkrai was sent flying through a nearby building's windows and did not return to the battle.

When he saw that Cryogonal was still able to fight, Hydreigon flew like a bullet toward the Ice-type Pokémon. He got cut off by his other former ally, Klinklang, who smashed into his side in a Rock Smash attack meant to save Cryogonal. That much worked, but Hydreigon quickly lashed Klinklang away.

The beginnings of a Flamethrower took shape in Hydreigon's mouth, but Gothitelle interrupted it by using a skillfully placed Hyper Beam. She targeted the dragon's mouth directly, and the energy from her attack combined with the fire of Hydreigon's to produce a violent, smoky explosion. Seizing on the fact that Hydreigon was stunned by the blast, Hethna rocketed in and punched him squarely in the stomach, throwing him back through another of the buildings.

Meanwhile, on the yacht, Rowena was still working furiously on hacking into Everton's mainframe, while the others observed the unfolding disaster.

"Just one more layer of security! I'm almost there!" she exclaimed. "Wait, scratch that… I'm in! Let's do this!"

With the strike of one last key, Rowena initiated the opening of the drainage gates, which was confirmed by her computer displaying as much. Throughout the city, the water level started to recede slightly, as the flood was allowed to drain back into the ocean on the other side of the land.

"Rowena, well done," Bunny congratulated her, "but we're still in dire straits here. What are we going to do to stop this storm, let alone close up the source of the floodwater so we can actually drain the city for good?"

"And now it looks like Everton's Hydreigon has gone completely insane," Matt murmured, staring out the window at the brutal fight now playing out in the open. "Our forces are wearing out… what other options do we even have?" Suddenly, Matt gasped, having come to a startling realization. He turned around directly addressed Victini, saying, "Victini, I want to make the contract. Grant me the Victory Star."

"You can't be serious!" Nekou exclaimed, dismayed greatly by Matt's sudden decision. "After everything that's happened, you're going to fuck it all up yourself?"

Ignoring Nekou's plea and the stares of Bunny, Olivia, Katorena and Rowena, Matt extended his hand. "Victini, please. This is something I must do."

"…Victi."

Floating down, Victini touched Matt's hand. As soon as the tiny Pokémon made contact with him, he heard a voice ring in his head.

"Do you truly wish to acquire this power? Will you be the one to fulfill the contract?"

Even though he was unsure of who he was addressing, Matt replied, "I accept this contract! Give me the power I need to stop this disaster and save the world!"

The entire cabin filled with a blindingly bright light radiating from Victini's body. Unlike the previous time they had witnessed the making of the contract, at the church when Everton captured Victini, this time there was no explosion. The light simply glowed for several seconds before fading, leaving Matt to collapse to his hands and knees with his right eye closed.

"What are you doing, Matt?" cried Olivia. "Are you even okay?"

"V-Victory Star…!"

The moment he invoked the power, Matt's one visible eye whipped open, revealing the eight-pointed star in it. It was shining brightly, meaning that as he gasped for breath, he was seeing a vision of how to attain the victory he wished for. Another few seconds passed before he finally returned to normal consciousness and stood back up.

"What is it that you witnessed?" Katorena immediately asked.

"I see how we can defeat Hydreigon and stop the storm, but I couldn't see many specifics… all I know is…"

He never finished his sentence. Instead, he simply turned to the door and walked toward the exit, beckoning Victini to follow. Victini was, in fact, the only one to go with him.

"Stop taking stupid risks!" Nekou wailed in frustration. "I'm supposed to be your bodyguard, but if you keep putting yourself in harm's way, how can I be successful?"

"You don't have to call yourself my bodyguard if you want to hang around me. Just admit that you get along well with Olivia and like hanging out with her, and that would be good enough for me." Without turning, he then said, "Rowena, page Woods and tell him to have all the evacuees aim their attacks at the Victory Star when it appears in the sky. I can't explain it now… but it'll make sense eventually."

With that, he stepped back out into the storm once more, this time with Victini following him. Rowena, meanwhile, followed his direction, while Olivia, Nekou, Bunny and Katorena remained safely inside.

Sweeping his arm out, Matt shouted, "Now, Victini, use Fusion Flare!"

A giant fireball cradled by crossing rings took shape around Victini's body, which it sent flying right at Hydreigon. The Fusion Flare exploded on impact, but again, Hydreigon wasn't injured much. The purpose of this seemed to be to push the other Pokémon away from Hydreigon and get the Dark-and-Dragon-type's attention, both of which succeeded.

"Success. Victini, it's now time to go forth and use Fusion Bolt! Finish preparing for the grand finale!"

"Tini!"

Another energy field appeared around Victini, but this one was made of blue lightning, and instead of launching it as a projectile, Victini darted through the air to use it as a battering ram. In the blink of an eye it was upon Hydreigon, striking him in the stomach with enough force to leave a fairly decent burn mark.

However, Victini's attack was not done yet. Tensing up all its muscles, Victini forced its 'V'-shaped ears to erupt in intense crimson flames before headbutting Hydreigon with all its might.

"Victini's V-Create!" Nekou exclaimed from the safety of her vantage point in the cabin. Realizing that the meeting of Victini and Hydreigon was forcing Victini's fire to take on the appearance of a star, she suddenly realized what Matt meant when he said the Victory Star would appear in the sky. "So that's it…"

Luckily, Rowena had successfully passed on Matt's message, and the evacuees took part in helping Victini. A group of Ice Beam, Blizzard and Frost Breath attacks struck the stalemate between the two Pokémon, and they were soon joined by the other allied Pokémon; Ayingott used her Ice Beam, while Salamence used Dragon Pulse. Gothitelle contributed with her Charge Beam move, and Klinklang and Cryogonal both used Flash Cannon.

Together, this wide variety of techniques fused their energy into the field surrounding Victini and increased its power exponentially, finally ending when Victini and Hydreigon shot skyward together. They surged right through the eye of the storm, lightning crackling all around them, and finally, once they reached the top of the storm system, the energy gave way to an utterly massive explosion.

Once again, a projection of the Victory Star covered Whitegold City. This time, though, the meaning of it all was different – this Victory Star signified Victini destroying what evil misuse of its powers had brought about. Wind from the blast blew away the clouds of the storm, and Victini's power started to heal the catastrophic imbalance feeding the storm.

Once the clouds were gone, a vast sky with millions of stars visible spread out over the land. These stars were accompanied by a bright crescent moon.

Hydreigon plummeted down from high and crashed into the Everton International building, having finally fainted because of how hard he was hit. However, he was not the only Pokémon to suffer horrible injuries as a result of the final clash.

Using V-Create so forcefully had drained all of Victini's life energy, and it fell onto the deck of Katorena's yacht. Matt rushed to it, and the others followed, but the Pokémon was unmoving.

"No, Victini… not after all of that, not after we survived…" Matt felt a slight pinching in his right eye, and instinctively realized that the Victory Star he'd just contracted for was gone. This only served to aggravate his feelings of despairing failure even more. "No! Victini, you can't die! If you die, Everton's actions still succeeded, and there just cannot be any way that sick man was right! Why should you die when it was Everton who acted so horribly?"

Olivia, Nekou, Bunny and Rowena all could only watch this scene in silence, feeling profound sadness at the apparent sacrificial death of Victini. Even Katorena had tears dripping down her face, even if she wasn't totally aware of it.

"Damn it! It didn't have to end like this! None of this had to happen!"

In the rubble of a building some distance away, the bricks shifted as Cresselia woke back up from her own grievous injuries. She could sense Victini's waning life, and knew that something had to be done.

"Kuruseiii!" she chimed as she rose from the wreckage of the building. Rings of bright light feeding themselves on the light of the crescent moon surrounded her, and she flew as rapidly as she could to the center of the city.

"Cresselia…?" Olivia wondered from the yacht.

"What is she doing?" Katorena followed up.

Cresselia cried out, and the rings took on an even brighter glow. They began flowing around her, while light was cast over the entire city. Soon, the rings began pulling the light coating the city in bit-by-bit, fusing it all into Cresselia's own body.

Shortly after, Cresselia started glowing so brightly that the light made all the others watching her feel as if they had blacked out.

-:-

The shell around Musharna was glowing and sparking while simultaneously sounding the windchime sound over and over. Energy was surging through it after Hydreigon was defeated, and the system was indeed destabilizing from the energy reversing on itself, just as Fennel had predicted.

"Fennel, back up!" Foster shouted, gesturing for her to get behind Throh with him. "It's gonna blow!"

"What?"

Without hesitation, Fennel grabbed her Munna and dove behind Foster's Throh to hide alongside him. She wasn't sure if he had a plan, though she hoped he did.

About a minute later, the Dreamyarn Inceptor went critical and exploded, but Foster was ready. Before the machine detonated, he ordered, "Throh, Wide Guard!"

The resulting blast that came from the Dream Energy going critical could easily have killed anyone in such close proximity to it, but the wide shield that Throh formed with his arms served perfectly to protect Foster and Fennel from it. Though the blast was intense, it quickly subsided, and Fennel set out through the wreckage of the ship to find her Musharna.

-:-

When they came to, a stunning, shocking sight greeted them – the city was completely restored. Somehow, the water was all gone, the building damage was completely repaired, and the dam was even restored.

None of them could understand why until Victini sprang back up, apparently perfectly healthy again, while a plainly grievously hurt and dying Cresselia floated down to them.

"Cresselia's Lunar Dance…" Nekou said in wonder. "She took on the pain of Victini and the entire city in order to save them… the folktale about Cresselia protecting the city really was true!"

Victini and Cresselia stared into each others' eyes in sadness, both knowing that Cresselia's time was running out. Unexpectedly, Cresselia transformed, taking on the appearance of an ethereal girl, and Victini jumped into her arms to embrace her one last time.

"That must be Christina, the girl in the legend…" Matt theorized blankly, shocked by what he was seeing.

Once they were done embracing, Victini and Christina separated, and with a final wave to her old friend, Christina faded away and passed on.

Victini could take it no more and began crying loudly, saddening the group greatly. Cresselia's death, in either form, was just as tragic as Victini's would have been, because both of them had suffered so horribly under Everton's rampage that day.

"Victini, don't cry," Olivia piped up. "Christina will always be with you. Look at that crescent moon… it's her, she's there watching you right now."

"But Cresselia was my only friend!"

"You…" Suddenly, Matt choked, realizing something startling. "Wait, you could talk all this time? I thought that was only when you were making contracts!"

"With Cresselia around, I never had to talk to anyone. She was the one who loved me and cared for me… she knew everything I ever needed. Those people I made contracts with… none of them understood that all I really wanted was to go on adventures like I did with Cresselia long ago…"

"So you were making the contracts in order to try and make more friends?"

"Well, you don't need to do that anymore," Matt added to Bunny's statement. "After all, we're talking to you, right? That would make us your friends, I think. You should go on adventures if you want, because even though you're a Pokémon, there's no reason why that right should be reserved only for humans."

"D-Do you… mean that? I could do it myself?"

"Absolutely."

"Thank you!" Victini cheerfully exclaimed, flashing a victory sign with its hand. "I always loved traveling on that ship! If I can see the world all over again… that will make Cresselia proud, too!"

END of CHAPTER 6



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