Chapter Twenty – Sacrifice
Night fell across Kanto and shrouded the region in a darkness that would resound across the nation and be spoken of in hushed tones until the end of time. The moon held position high in the centre of the sky and cast down a small ray of light in a sea of blackness. It was just like the small flicker of hope that Leaf still held. That dawn would come and the denizens of Kanto would live to see it. Because Lyra had unleashed Mewtwo on Cerulean City, Leaf knew there was only one way to cease the murderous chaos. To stop her mother, no matter what the cost.
“Leaf!” a voice called after her as she sprinted from Indigo Plateau.
“Don’t stop me!” she screamed as her heart raced and tears poured wearily down her face. She stopped to turn and see her friend approach her. Okaido Oak, the new Champion of Kanto.
“You can’t do this alone, let me help you,” he pleaded with her. “Let my grandfather help us.”
“You two have work to do,” she snapped. “You need to remove Archer from power and unite the region.”
“There won’t be a region left to unite!” he said angrily. “Not if you try and do this alone. I know your Venusaur has been healed but you and Dino can’t do this yourselves.”
“I know what must be done,” she snapped again, her voice softer this time. “As do you and Professor Oak. Now go celebrate your victory.”
“There will be no celebration,” Okaido said sharply. Her and the man formerly known as Blue had been through so much together, she had even grown to care for him. Which was why she refused to risk his life, he was the one hope of the nation and as Champion he could unite the region and remove Team Rocket’s toxic remnants once and for all.
“You and your grandfather need to make this region a better place. I will stop my mother because I am the only one who can.”
“Leaf-” Okaido stopped as he tried to find the words but she already knew he had been defeated. “Come back to me afterwards, we will solve this region’s troubles together. Me, you and Gramps.”
She tried to think of a reply then burst into fits of tears where Okaido moved to embrace her. He held her whilst she sobbed then wiped the tears from her cheeks. After everything, he was all she had left. The only friend who remained which wasn’t Dino, her last Pokemon.
“Let me at least take you,” he said and took his Charizard’s Pokeball from his pocket. “I promise that once I drop you off in Cerulean that I will go and remove Archer from power.”
“Okay,” she sobbed and wiped her eyes. “I used to think you were such a jerk,” she said and giggled slightly.
“And I used to think you were a little bi-” he began then remembered the state she was in. “A little bit annoying,” he corrected himself quickly. “Guess you’re alright though.”
She laughed softly then looked over her shoulder. Indigo Plateau rested underneath Mt. Silver, an enormous mountain which loomed over the region of Kanto and separated it from its neighbouring nation of Johto. From her vantage point she could see large swathes of the land she was trying to save below. Viridian City was lit up like a beacon in the darkness and Pewter City was awash with lamplight. Pallet Town still had a few homes with their lights left on too. Despite being located in the centre of Kanto, even from the distance of Indigo Plateau she could see Cerulean City. Because it appeared to her that the entire city was engulfed by fire.
Above the carnage Leaf and Okaido had the perfect view of desolation and despair. Lyra stood at the mouth of the cave and watched the Mewtwo wreak devastation and death from Nugget Bridge. The creature looked almost like a grey alien to Leaf. He had stood at the height of a tall man with two legs and arms with three spherical fingers and toes at the end of each. His peculiarly shaped head was topped by two blunt horns and his eyes were violet as if he was in a state of possession. But Leaf knew that the mystical creature was the possessor and not under the control of anyone else. Finally, she remarked that the Pokemon had a very long purple tail which snaked around its back.
Mewtwo was a psychic type Pokemon. Leaf knew this because he was obliterating any Pokemon who opposed him with mind attacks and using possession to control any foe who survived the psychological onslaught. He had exploded electrics and flammable containers in the city as citizens screamed in panic whilst their homes blazed and their friends were mentally suffocated by the creature who tortured humans and Pokemon without discrimination. Mewtwo was the ultimate weapon of war, a killing machine with no conscience and a murderer who wished to destroy anyone or anything in sight.
Leaf looked back to her mother who she noticed was hiding from the creature as if the Mewtwo would decimate her as well if he had the chance. Then she saw the glint of a Megastone within Lyra’s hand. A device to make the death machine into an unstoppable force.
“You can’t do this alone!” Okaido shouted once more and tried to raise his voice above the explosions, screams and wails. There must have been close to a hundred trainers, citizens and other Pokemon users battling the beast and all were failing.
“Let me down here!” Leaf yelled.
“Leaf-” Okaido began before another explosion cut him off and lit up the night’s sky. Charizard landed in Cerulean City just to the south of Nugget Bridge where Leaf leaped off and released Dino to protect her.
“I don’t care what you say!” Okaido yelled and began to jump off his Pokemon before Dino slapped him with a vine.
“Get out of here!” Leaf cried. “I’ll save this region, you just worry about uniting it!” Okaido made a move to argue but Dino raised a vine once more.
“Good luck,” he said wistfully. “But promise that you’ll come back to me and we will rule this region together.”
“You’ve been a good friend,” she said. “The best I could have hoped for.” She walked away to the bridge as Okaido shouted after her, begging her to come back.
She trekked through piles of defeated Pokemon and their fallen trainers as fires whipped up and roared around her. A line of trainers stood at the end of the bridge, the warriors of the region. Citizens panicked and fled the scene all around her, abandoning their burning homes and all their possessions to preserve their lives.
“She’s mad,” Leaf thought to herself. “My mother, why would she do this?” she considered. What would drive a person to unleash this level of destruction.
“Hold the line!” a woman squealed. “If we lose the bridge we lose the city and everyone in it!” Leaf recognised the red-haired leader as Misty. The town’s mayor and former Gym Leader. She was leading the group of countless trainers as they sent their Pokemon to the slaughter in a desperate attempt to save their city and the lives of the people within it.
Leaf pushed through with Dino alongside her. She now saw the hundreds of Pokemon putting up a hopeless final stand. Some stood just before the bridge and others had made their way onto it where they faced a group of possessed creatures led by the Mewtwo.
“Leaf!” Misty cried as she noticed her pushing her way through the ensemble. “Thank goodness you’re here!”
“Out of my way,” Leaf growled and then saw Bill’s Cottage burnt to a crisp in the distance. Its defences had been turned to blackened and charred skeletal remains and the young scientist was now attempting to flank the Mewtwo from behind with a group of Pokemon from Storage. There must have been around fifty, from Raticate to Muk to Weezing and Golbat. All Pokemon that had been frequently used by Team Rocket.
“So Bill was working for Rocket all along,” Leaf surmised. “The whole assault on Storage was all an elaborate setup after all. Another one of my many failures,” she said and sighed. Dino reached out with a vine and stroked her cheek where she then moved to press her head against her Pokemon’s. “This is it,” she said to him where the Venusaur replied by simply nuzzling her with his wide face.
She turned back to the action. On the bridge a possessed Golem pummeled an Onix. A Pidgeotto attempted an aerial strike on a possessed Ninetales but the creature was rapidly shot down by a blast of water from a possessed Gyarados in the lake below the bridge. Leaf turned her attention to Mewtwo and almost screamed in glee as the crowd behind her began to cheer.
Bill was winning.
The flanking attack had worked and his army of Pokemon had begun to strike at the Mewtwo directly. Leaf wouldn’t be needed after all. The Mewtwo had been swarmed, he defeated a Raticate with a mind attack then released a beam of psychic energy towards a Golbat but the horde slowly overpowered him.
The pink eyes of the possessed Pokemon on the bridge began to flicker then slowly fade as the battle stopped suddenly and the din of war receded to be replaced by the roaring flames behind them.
“No!” Leaf screamed and her heart sank. “Lyra!” she pleaded. “Mother!” But it was too late. Because her mother had taken the opportunity to sprint from the shadows and press the Megastone to the Mewtwo’s head. A dark shroud engulfed the creature as Lyra removed the Megastone and went back into hiding in a nearby bush.
Tears rolled down Leaf’s face as hope escaped her. She almost collapsed and thought to throw herself in the river but as always there was one friend there to save her from perpetual darkness, Dino. The Venusaur rubbed his head against hers and marched onto the bridge to confront whatever monster emerged from the black shroud along with Bill’s horde and the trainer’s hundreds of Pokemon. The possession had fully broken and it was an army of warriors against a lone Pokemon.
From the shroud emerged a Pokemon larger and bulkier than the previous Mewtwo. His eyes were a crimson red and the horns atop his skull had extended and turned into points. Purple armour now covered his chest and gray armour all his joints and limbs.
“Once more!” Misty screamed. “Bill. One more push!” She sounded full of hope, spirit and vigour.
But all Leaf could do was watch.
Mega-Mewtwo turned to Bill’s horde, held out a hand, then twisted it. All of Bill’s Pokemon collapsed instantly as the life went from them. They had no bond to Bill and the man himself was a poor trainer. But Leaf had still never seen anything with enough power to eliminate over forty Pokemon just with a flick of the hand.
Mega-Mewtwo looked to Bill now and performed the same trick on the scientist. The young man collapsed as the life was choked from him. He died slower than the Pokemon, but still the power of the creature was horrifying.
Gasps of shock resounded through the crowd of trainers. All hope had vanished and many began to recall their Pokemon and sprint for safety outside of the city despite Misty’s rallying cries. By the time the Mega-Mewtwo turned to face his opponents, only around fifty of them remained.
“Charge!” Misty cried and the feral creature at the end of Nugget Bridge saw her as their commander. He held out a hand as fifty Pokemon charged him and twisted it. Misty squealed. She held her hands to her head and screamed a wail of agony. Then she collapsed.
More trainers ran, most ignoring their Pokemon and leaving them for dead as the Mega-Mewtwo set about his work. He blasted a psychic energy beam towards the bridge which exploded with such impact it nearly destroyed the wooden walkway. Six highly-trained Pokemon fell to the attack. After another beam, seven more followed.
Dino unleashed leaves and vines and gathered energy from the fires to unleash a solar beam but the attacks bounced off the Mega-Mewtwo as if they were specks of dust. As did any other strike against the mighty creature.
Leaf was stuck in two minds. She wanted to recall Dino and run, to sprint to Johto or back to Hoenn and avoid this unstoppable beast. But she knew if she did so then none would ever stop the creature. Mega-Mewtwo would crush the world and kill everyone and everything in its path.
More Pokemon fell either to beams, mind attacks or simple flicks of the Mega-Mewtwo’s wrists. Dino resisted any piercing efforts into his mind out of his love for Leaf and stood his ground against any strikes against him but still the Venusaur was being slowly pushed back until he remained on the bridge with just five other fighters.
Leaf looked around her to see three remaining trainers. The others had other fled or retreated after their Pokemon had fallen. She recognised all three.
“Nice to meet again,” Blaine said to her. He was the man she met on Cinnabar Island who had informed her of the Mewtwo’s backstory. “I worked it all out and gathered the most powerful trainers in the region to fight this fight,” he said. “But we were too late and too weak.”
“You’ve come far since we last met,” Brock added, the mayor of Pewter City who had been her matchup in round two of the tournament.
“And made me proud,” Koga said. “I believe you have defeated Team Rocket. For that I am deeply grateful. Because I was able to see my daughter, Janine, for one last time.”
Koga’s Weezing fell to a mind attack after resisting a flick of the Mega-Mewtwo’s hand. The bond between Pokemon and trainer was strong enough for him to resist the initial strike but the monstrous creature was too powerful to resist.
“How can we stop it?” Brock asked as his Golem was decimated by a psychic beam of energy.
“We can’t,” Blaine said. “We can only hold it back until someone thinks of a way.”
“We aren’t holding it back?” Koga said. “We are like four planks of wood trying to hold back a hurricane!”
“We can’t stop fighting,” Leaf said through gritted teeth. “No matter what.”
“Agreed,” all three former Gym Leaders said in unison as Blaine’s Ninetales fell to a psychic beam of energy. Only his Arcanine, Koga’s Muk and Dino remained.
“We advance,” Koga said bravely.
“What?!” Brock said, the panic in his voice clear.
“We stand side by side with our Pokemon as they fall,” he replied and Brock looked back with his mouth gaping as if to say he had no remaining Pokemon.
“What if the creature won’t attack something that isn’t attacking it?” Blaine suggested. “If we approach it with hands held up as if we surrender.”
“And then what?” Brock said.
“I get the Megastone off Lyra,” Leaf cut in just as Koga’s Muk fell to a mind attack. Only Arcanine and Dino remained. Both Pokemon pummeled the Mega-Mewtwo with constant attacks of solar energy and flamethrowers but still each strike limply bounced off of the creature to no effect.
The four trainers marched in line. Blaine and Koga appeared calm but sweat dripped off of Brock in waves. Leaf, to her surprise, felt at peace for the first time in her life. Her task was clear as if she stared her destiny in the face. Flames from the city behind them licked up and reached to touch the sky and their roars must’ve been heard miles away. Growls from Arcanine and Dino were matched by the grunts from the Mega-Mewtwo who struggled to destroy his two remaining opponents. He flicked his wrist but both resisted and then both held their ground against his psychic energy beams. The Arcanine soon collapsed under the weight of a mind attack.
“Dino,” Leaf called out to her Venusaur as she approached him. “Stand down.” Her Pokemon gave her a quizzical look as the four trainers joined him.
“We surrender,” Blaine called out and held his hands up to show the Mega-Mewtwo he meant no harm. The creature simply looked bemused.
“Leaf,” Koga began. “Jump into the river, swim over and grab that stone. You’re our only hope.”
“We-” Blaine went to say again before the Mega-Mewtwo cut him off. He twisted a hand and the elderly man went silent as he clutched his throat and choked. His life left him.
“Run!” Brock screamed and sprinted back down the bridge but the Mega-Mewtwo simply unleashed a beam of psychic energy towards the mayor of Pewter that evaporated him within its midst.
“I thank you Leaf,” Koga said and knew he was next. “For allowing me to see my daughter one last time.” He spread his arms out and the Mega-Mewtwo responded with a flick of his wrist and Koga collapsed as well as his life was stolen from him.
Leaf stood side by side with Dino. She looked to the river and nodded to her Venusaur. Her favourite Pokemon and eldest friend nodded back. He would make the sacrifice. He would block her sprint to the river where she would dive off the side of the bridge and claim the Megastone. What she would do with it she didn’t yet know, but it was her last hope.
“Leaf!” Lyra screamed and suddenly sprinted from the bushes she had hidden within. “Wait Mewtwo! Don’t kill her!” It was as if her mother had suddenly snapped back to sanity when she realised her daughter was next on the killing list. But it was too late. Leaf was frozen in place by her mother’s calls and the Mega-Mewtwo unleashed a beam of psychic energy towards her.
She spread her arms as Koga did to welcome the strike, then closed her eyes. She heard a primal roar but felt no pain. She opened her eyes. Dino had thrown himself into the beam to save her life. Now was her chance as her Venusaur perished.
She went to move but found herself frozen in place. The tearing agony of a bond severed ripped through her as it had before but this time it was different. Where before she had felt the pain stronger than most because of her deep bonds with each and every Pokemon, now the agony was apoplectic. Because Dino hadn’t just been her Pokemon, he had been her greatest friend. He had been the one who had kept her grounded and saved her from despair on countless occasions. Now the Venusaur collapsed to the ground as the life was robbed from him.
She remembered back to Viridian Forest where she faced the Metal Monster and Dino had leaped from the trees at the vital moment to save her. She remembered whenever she felt herself in peril that Dino would remain by her side and refuse to let her be defeated. Whenever she felt like despair had claimed her, he had been there to stop it. Now he was gone.
“Now,” she said through gritted teeth and clenched fists.Her body shook violently and tears rolled down her face uncontrollably. “Now is the time for the final sacrifice.”
“Leaf!” Lyra screamed and sprinted towards the Mega-Mewtwo.
But her daughter was already walking. The Mega-Mewtwo grinned savagely at her attempts to approach him and held out a hand ready to twist. Memories flashed through Leaf’s mind as her life replayed before her. From a fragile soul seeking her parent’s love to a seeker of adventure when she ventured to Hoenn and met Erik, Wally and later Blue. She remembered the faces of all she had lost and those she had loved and seen killed. She thought of Okaido and wished him luck in ruling the region. Then she smiled. Because when the Mewtwo twisted his hand her world turned black and she had finally found her peace. She knew what would happen next, her mother would be prompted to destroy the Mega-Mewtwo out of anguish. Leaf had done it, she had saved the region. She had been the final sacrifice.
The first flicker of dawn came as the horizon reddened. Okaido failed to tell where the clouds ended and the pillars of smoke began as he attempted to steer his Charizard towards Cerulean City sightless. He heard the roars of fires amidst screams and cries of terror as the smell of smoke caused him to cough and splutter.
“Descend!” he informed his Pokemon and held on as his Charizard dove towards the chaos below. He used the smoke as a marker as to where he should land, where the clouds were thickest, there he would find Cerulean and the main battlefield. His Charizard plowed through smoke as Okaido clung on for his life and closed his eyes as the woodsmoke stung them. He coughed and spluttered once more and felt as if the suffocating grey would never end.
Then he felt the smoke clear so he opened his eyes and wished he hadn’t. The sight below caused him to nearly scream and fall off his Charizard. Because Leaf was dead.
He hovered above Nugget Bridge where the Mega-Mewtwo switched his gaze to Okaido and hold up a hand ready to twist. He went to speak a command for his Charizard to fight back and destroy the creature but the words caught in his mouth. He looked to Leaf who lay lifeless on the bridge. The Mega-Mewtwo had killed her.
A primal scream of agony shrieked through the skies, but not from Okaido nor his Charizard. Instead, it came from behind the Mega-Mewtwo. Lyra had charged towards the powerful creature by herself, overcome with fury and sorrow at seeing her only child fall to the monster. The Mega-Mewtwo had turned to face her as she came within a few feet of himself, then unleashed a beam of psychic energy.
Lyra held up his Megastone in her defence. The unstoppable force met the immovable object, causing an explosion of blackness encompassed the Mega-Mewtwo, the Megastone and Lyra. The dark shroud that engulfed woman, creature and stone suffocated the life from all three. Okaido hovered above the scene and watched in silence as tears rolled down his cheeks. When the blackness receded all three had vanished, the darkness had consumed all.
“If only I’d come sooner,” Okaido whimpered and looked to Leaf. He motioned to his Charizard to land and dismounted his Pokemon to walk weakly to Leaf’s side. “Leaf…” he began and tried to speak through his sobs. “Gabby and Ty made it easy for us to remove Archer. With the support of the Champion and Professor Oak the region rallied against him whilst you fought this horrific fight. The government of Kanto is reforming. My Gramps will be our new mayor and I will support him as Champion. We did it Leaf,” he said through his sobs. “We saved Kanto.”
Okaido collapsed to his knees and thought back on his own journey and all they had sacrificed. He thought back to the SS. Anne where he lost his Raticate and Wally lost his Pikachu. Where Archie fell along with a couple of Leaf’s Pokemon. He thought back to his own journey, he was Pokemon Champion of Kanto now but at what cost. The people loved him, they respected and worshipped him. He was a hero to them and he thought that was all he ever wanted. But now he looked at the fallen Leaf and remembered Wally and felt empty. As if what he wanted all along wasn’t to be loved, but to belong. And in the Resistance he had belonged. But they were gone now, all of them, even his real father, Giovanni. The man who had caused so much pain and suffering.
Then his thoughts went to Erik, the original leader of the Resistance and the man that had recruited him. He had said he’d never return to Kanto if the Resistance left him alone and they had held up their end of the bargain. Okaido wondered what would happen to him and the remnants of Team Rocket now. Then he remembered his half-brother Silver, the scarred man who was so broken and empty that he almost felt pity for Giovanni’s other son. The locations of both Erik and Silver were a mystery to him but he had more important things to consider. Leaf had saved Kanto and he had united it but the region still needed to heal. He and his grandfather had their work cut out but for the memories of Leaf, Wally and everyone else, they had no choice but to prevail.
As Okaido clambered back to his feet he realised he must’ve been sat soul-searching for a long time because the sun had begun to pierce through the clouds and cast light on a scorched and charred Cerulean City behind him. A ruined city now marked a wounded region.
Okaido remounted his Charizard and signaled for his Pokemon to fly him back to Pallet Town where together with Professor Oak they would restabilize Kanto. This would be the end of his story, he knew. No more fighting, just healing.
He climbed the final step of the gargantuan mountain. The top of Mt.Silver was flat enough for him to walk across and from the vantage point he could see the entirety of Kanto below him. But Kanto didn’t matter anymore. On the other side of the colossal natural structure lay Johto which he now turned to face alongside the man he had once considered an enemy.
“Johto awaits,” the once-enemy spoke, his voice fractured and dark.
“Where I’m sure we shall do battle once again,” Silver agreed and Erik allowed a chortle of laughter.
“What is your purpose now. What do you fight for?” Erik asked him.
“I see what my brother, Okaido, has done,” Silver began. The sound of his voice resounded through the air as his mechanical mask twisted and distorted it. “He threw away the shackles of kinship and became his own man. He righted some of my father’s wrongs and redeemed himself to this world.”
“And you wish to do the same?” Erik said.
“I just wish to amend some of my sins,” Silver said and sighed. “But I don’t even know where to start.”
“Join me,” Erik replied. “We shall conquer Johto as a starting point and cleanse this world of its tragedies.”
“Your way is war, terror and forcing your will on people,” Silver said, not harshly. “Your way is Team Rocket.”
“And what is your way?” Erik asked.
“Johto is a bastion of ill. Even more chaotic than Kanto with disaster seeping from its every pore,” Silver said. “The current rulership is inept. Lord Raven will be gathering his forces to retake the forsaken land and you will be trying to destroy it.”
“So which side will you choose if not mine?”
“My own side,” Silver growled. “I’m done being under the thumb of those who think they are greater than me.”
“So I ask you again,” Erik said patiently. “What is your purpose?”
“To find my redemption,” Silver grunted. “And it starts with a simple act.” He moved his hands to his face where he placed his thumbs underneath the mechanical mask and lifted it. It was hard work at first, he hadn’t removed the mask in years, but slowly the facepiece lifted. He tossed it from the mountain and watched it bounce off the sides as it tumbled back into Kanto.The fresh air sting his burned, scarred face.
“How does it feel?” Erik asked.
“Liberating,” Silver answered and winced as the cold singed him.
“I guess this means we are at war then,” Erik said.
“Indeed. I shall battle your mystical powers with all my might,” Silver responded. “How about I let you get a little head start though?” he said and grinned. His mechanical mask disallowed him from forming any sort of smile so to do it for the first time in years almost hurt his face.
Erik smiled in reply then released a Charizard of his own. This one was different however, it had been permanently Mega-evolved and responded without question to Erik’s commands. Whilst a normal Charizard had skin of orange, the Mega version’s was pure black and its cream belly and underwings had turned from cream to sky blue. Its eyes were red and the flame on the tip of its tail was also light blue.
Erik mounted the Pokemon who flapped its wings and powerfully lifted itself from the mountain. With a wave goodbye and a promise of war, Erik left for Johto.
“My redemption,” Silver said to himself. “Sounds idiotic,” he said then chuckled and watched Erik disappear into the distance. He suddenly heard a scuffle of movement behind him so spun on his heel but it was too late. The agony came before the realisation as he heard a loud thud and felt a sharp sensation of pain on his head. The world went black and he collapsed on the ground where he faded in and out of consciousness.
“Damn we just missed the other one,” a shrill female voice said.
“The boss wanted both Silver and that other guy that was with him, right?” a male voice added.
“Ah just take this one to base. Throw him in a prison cell and let him rot for the rest of his days,” the female answered.
Silver faded out of consciousness for a final time before he could hear the reply and was carted away to a destination unknown by those whose identities were a mystery. For now.
The Challenger trilogy will be concluded in book three, “Silver’s Redemption”. Estimated first chapter release of Summer 2018.