Chapter Twenty-Three – Goodbye

The twins’ looks were identical. Both brother and sister sported deep navy blue hair tied up in a bun as they judged Erik with two pairs of piercing blue eyes. They wore robes dyed a royal purple that hung from their small figures, the clothing far too large for the siblings as their hands disappeared within the sleeves.

“Hello challenger,” a soulless high pitched voice called from across the room. It was the female, Liza, who spoke first.

“You have defeated our minions,” Tate followed, his voice a much deeper pitch, but still featured the same monotone.

“Now you must vanquish us!” The twins bellowed in unison, before they relaxed and quietened their voices once more. “This room is actually a cave,” they spoke, as if they were one and the same. As soon as the words exited their mouths, the gym’s interior lit up ever so slightly. Dozens of glowing crystals of purple and blue emitted both a faint glow which illuminated the room, and slight humming noise which filled with with an atmosphere. As the mysterious gems floated cooly around the room, Erik noticed they were at a height with himself.

A single Pokeball rested upon each of the twins’ belts. The capsules levitated into the air as soon as Erik had laid eyes on them, hovering slowly across the cave’s rocky surface and releasing their inhabitants onto the battlefield. A Solrock emerged alongside a Lunatone.

Tate’s Solrock floated to the left, and Liza’s Lunatone to the right, the rock and psychic dual typed Pokemon hovering to the wall, which changed colour according to the corresponding Pokemon’s skin. The gym leaders’ Pokemon carefully sank into the cave walls, camouflaging themselves.

Erik knew Splash would have an easy time against the rock types, his Gyarados could aim water blasts at the walls and flush them out. He also knew that Soar could see through psychic tricks, this would be easier than he first thought.

“Splash!” Erik roared, confidence flowing through his veins. “Wash-” he started, before suddenly stopping mid-sentence. A few of the crystals lit up, burning so brightly that he almost had to shield his eyes to avoid their glare. The gems suddenly spurred into life, crashing down towards the surface as they targeted his Pokemon.

A crystal crashed into Splash. The Gyarados roared in pain at the impact as the gem firmly lodged itself in his back, the top half jutting out of his scaly skin. Soar’s troubles were reminiscent of his partner, the Latios deftly dodged some of the crystals aimed at him, the ones that missed smashing into a plethora shards on the solid ground below as a persistent few implanted themselves into Soar’s back.

“The crystals of truth,” Tate and Liza echoed one another in tones devoid of emotion. “The crystals will reveal the truth of your life.” The duo pointed towards Erik’s Pokemon, Tate towards Splash and Liza towards Soar. “The truth,” they repeated.

Erik remained clueless as to the duos words and intentions, until he turned his gaze back to his Pokemon, nearly tripping over himself in both shock and horror. Soar and Splash had both turned into their mega-evolved forms, spun around with the crystals still jutting out of their backs, and were now staring through crimson eyes at their trainer. Erik began to back away slowly, before walking into something behind him. Mega-Blaze.

Leaf and Dancer clung to Erik’s side as he grabbed the Masterball. He launched it through the air, the capsule homing in towards its target, but the device was swatted away by another Pokemon. Ice.

“You now see the truth,” Tate and Liza spoke, their voices echoing around the cave. “We see you for who you really are, Erik. You bring only death and pain. And in the future, you will be the harbinger of untold destruction and suffering.”

“Stop this!” Erik yelled. He felt himself shaking as fear flowed through his body, freezing him in place.

Ice barred frosty fangs at Erik, growling viciously as he was joined by the others. String and Speedy desperately held onto each other as they dangled over the edge of a large hole in front of him, the gaping darkness seemingly never ending. Gully and Ziggy attempted to save the two bug-types, until a human figure kicked the Silcoon and Cascoon over the edge, then threw both Gully and Ziggy to their demise. It took Erik only a few moments to recognise the human as himself.

Roller appeared next, rolling desperately away from his human pursuer, but the Gulpin wasn’t fast enough. The ghostly apparition of Erik picked Roller up by his tail and flung him into the abyss, Ali and Gu throwing themselves after Roller in a hopeless attempt to save their friend.

“Stop!” Erik roared as loud as he could. He could feel his heart breaking at the scenes, but his desperate pleas for mercy were in vain. Ninja was next to fall, the Nincada flashing the real Erik a look of panic and despair before the apparition threw him into the pit, wordless and emotionless. It was as if all the figure lived for was destroying the lives of those around him, just as Tate and Liza had alluded to.

Erik had seen enough. He grabbed his doppelganger and threw the ghost into the pit, hoping it would stop the visions. As his apparition tumbled into the darkness, shadowy figures became apparent within the abyss. Erik saw many familiar faces. Bunny, Lady, Glutton, Steel and Bounce all disappeared, their faces the embodiment of fear. They were replaced by looks of sadness and pain, Sunny, Snappy, Cotton, Pip and Dive all bidding their trainer a final farewell. Finally, anger flashed in the eyes of the remaining friends he had lost, full of spite for the trainer that had cost them their lives. Horde, Fury, Warrior and Ghost had all lived peaceful lives before Erik had forced himself to be their trainer.

Ice strutted up alongside Erik. He moved to stroke his Mightyena’s fur, but his old friend only flashed him a face of regret. Instead of saying goodbye or showing his old trainer any further sign of acknowledgement, Ice leapt into the pit. A weak howl was the last thing Erik heard from his old friend, as if the Mightyena was begging for mercy himself.

Hearing cries of pain behind him, Erik turned to see the three mega-evolved Pokemon screeching in agony, as the power of the megastones ripped them apart internally. Next to them he saw a vision of Dancer on a stage, performing elegant pirouettes and other spectacular moves in front of legions of adoring fans.

Behind them, just in front of the two gym leaders, Erik saw three further figures. These, however, were mere shadows rather than visions. Two human shapes formed, a man and a woman, and beside them was a small figure which looked to be a Pokemon about half their size. They all felt very familiar, like he was looking at three close friends. These visions didn’t just look different to the others, they felt different too, as if he were no longer looking at hauntings from his past.

“What you see is your very soul,” Tate and Liza spoke again. “And it has defeated you.”

Erik broke down on the floor, torturous thoughts and memories flooding his mind. Friends lost and others in horrific pain, all because of him.

He felt a soft hand placed on his shoulder. He lifted his tear-strewn face to find himself locking eyes with Leaf. The Vileplume smiled, and Erik read her expression. It was as if Leaf was saying to him, “I’m glad you found me.”

Before him everything changed, Blaze and Dancer were collapsed on the floor with a crystal protruding out of each. Soar barely held himself aloft as multiple shards of smashed crystal planting themselves within his skin and Splash was on the verge of defeat.

Erik reacted quickly, he couldn’t lose anyone else. He withdrew Splash into his Pokeball and entered Leaf into battle, the Vileplume springing into action.

Leaf shot out leaves as sharp as blades which cut into the rocky walls, in an attempt to unearth the leaders’ Pokemon within. One of the leaves cut into something living, as the Lunatone emerged from the wall, Soar following up with a blast of energy which Liza’s Pokemon narrowly avoided, returning fire by firing large rocks at its aggressors. The Latios dodged the stones aimed at him, flying high up to the cave’s roof almost out of reach. Soar’s escape left Leaf vulnerable, with only one Pokemon to aim at a group of boulders crashed into her. She struggled back to her feet, but knowing she was Erik’s last hope the Vileplume managed to haul her body upwards, until she was blasted by a wave of fire. The Solrock had emerged.

Soar saw his partner in trouble and cut through the air, swivelling out of the way of more rocks headed in his direction to save Leaf, but it was too late.

A further rock hit the Vileplume, followed by another blast of flames. Leaf slouched to her feet, and looked at her trainer, then smiled. The look on her face was genuine as her friendly eyes lit up and matched her warm smile. Erik attempted to read her expression once more, trying to uncover the thoughts underneath. He didn’t have to read Leaf’s mind, his friend’s smiling eyes said the words to him. “Thank you. You’ve made my life worth living.”

“No!” Erik screamed as the Solrock landed the finishing blow on Leaf, her lifeless body slumping to the ground as Soar scolded both Tate and Lizas’ weakened Pokemon with a final blast of energy.

Tears flowed freely down Erik’s young face, he had lost yet another friend after seeing all his others perish before him for a second time.

“Strange,” Tate and Liza spoke in unison. “You have beaten us.”

“I don’t care!” Erik roared.

“Your reaction is natural. Every other gym is just a battle between trainers and their Pokemon. Our gym is different, we test your mind. We show you your soul and let you battle yourself instead. Somehow, you and your Vileplume overcame it.”

Erik had heard enough, he stormed out of the gym without grabbing the seventh badge. What did fighting mean if all it resulted in was the death of his friends, just for a small piece of metal.

Ocean waves crashed against the sand-strewn shore as water splashed up and wet Erik’s feet. He twirled the metallic symbol in between his fingers, a purple loveheart with a hole in middle.

Liza had sprinted after him as he exited the gym, apologising to him for the loss of Leaf and had handed him the badge personally. Erik headed to the beach thereafter, resting on the shore as the sun rose to the highest point in the sky, as memories of all the good times he had spent with Leaf flowed through his mind.

The Oddish he had collided with alongside Wally was unable to take the offensive in a battle, only able to defend herself using a variety of spores in order to confuse her opponent or force them into a deep slumber. Leaf had evolved into a Gloom, and there she had learnt to attack Pokemon by targeting them with more aggressive spores which latched onto a foe, sapping their health. Then finally she evolved once more into a Vileplume with the help of one of the alien rocks. Erik had spent many a day by her side, the two inseparable at times along with Blaze, Dancer and Ice. Her loss felt to him as painful as his Mightyena’s had.

Suddenly, a beam of light shot out of the ocean like a beacon, its lime green hue shooting into the clear midday sky. The bright light was quickly followed by a huge roar, the sound echoing across the ocean, rolling off the waves until it hit Mossdeep Island.

“Groudon…” Erik whispered, noting the beam emanated from Route 128. Magma must have found the ancient Pokemon’s resting place and be in the attempt of awakening the creature. He had to stop Maxie before they unleashed a devastating power upon Hoenn that they couldn’t control nor hold their own against.

He climbed to his feet and sprinted towards the Pokemon Centre. He hastily healed his team and withdrew both Seal and Happy from storage. He would need another water Pokemon if he were to dive into the ocean’s depths and find the ancient cave, a Sealeo would know how. Happy was a sentimental choice, he wanted a Gloom on his team.

Erik stormed out of the Pokemon Centre, pushing aside the sliding door and stepped onto the soft grass outside. A Swellow slammed down on the ground before him, the large bird proceeding to lower its back and allow the two women on top to jump off.

“Did you see that beam of light?!” May said whilst disembarking. Once she had climbed off her Swellow she ran to Erik and threw both arms around his neck, softly planting a kiss on his lips.

“We located Groudon not long before it happened,” Cecilia forced her way into the reunion, pushing the conversation straight to the business at hand.

“Where abouts on Route 128 is he?” Erik asked, as May rested her head on his chest, listening to his heart race back and forth.

“Under a network of caves, in an underground cavern. Tremors over hundreds of years should’ve caused the tunnels to collapse in on themselves, the place should be inaccessible” Cecilia replied, a flicker of indomitable determination flashing in her eyes with each word.

“Which is why Maxie stole the submarine and attached a drill,” Erik realised.

“We met a man named Wallace in Sootopolis,” Cecilia continued. “He gave us two sets of scuba gear and advised we ride aback a Pokemon as we make our way through.”

“We?” Erik questioned. “No, I go in alone, it’s far too dangerous.”

“I can handle myself,” Cecilia snapped.

“I know you can, which is why I need you to remain outside. You can cut off Magma if they attempt to escape, monitor the situation and only if I really need the backup, then you come down with me.”

“Okay, sounds like a plan,” Cecilia agreed, her tense body language relaxing slightly. “And May?” she asked Erik, as the woman in question pushed herself back from him.

“There’s two sets of scuba gear, so I’m going with him,” May answered, in a tone that brooked no argument.

“May, no-” Erik attempted to convince her.

“You listen here, Erik. You always leave me out. Well this time I’m coming with you. You will need a guide through the caves and I have spent hours memorising the location by looking at the maps. I’m coming, and that’s final.”

“Fine, but only if you leave as soon as we reach the cave.”

“We’ll see,” May said, her arms folded as she pierced Erik’s stubborn stance with eyes like daggers.

The trio flew atop Soar until they reached a small island of sand, in the shape of a ring. Erik and May left Cecilia atop the sand, equipped their scuba gear, and dived into the ocean, the former clinging onto Splash and the latter onto Seal.

Plunging into the depths, fierce currents threatened to sweep both Erik and May into rocks sharply pointed like blades all around them, but both Splash and Seal remained strong enough to emerge victorious from the battle with the sea. The two water Pokemon swept through the water like a hot knife through butter, aiming towards a gaping hole in the wall that had been carved out by Maxie’s submarine.

Erik was shocked by the damage the vehicle had caused. Where once was a clear network of caves and strong rock walls which survived the batterings of strong currents, now remained a series of holes which lead in a straight line through. Seal and Splash glided through Maxie’s carved trail, before swimming sharply upwards, exiting the series of caves and emerging in a cavern. The Magma submarine lay beside them, as a large cave entrance hung in front of the duo. Water became sand before sand became rock as both Erik and May dismounted their Pokemon and now pondered whether to head inside or not.

“Time for you to go back,” Erik ordered May, who stoutly refused.

“I’m coming with you!” she insisted, stamping a foot on the ground. “And that’s final mister!”

“It’s dangerous inside, when Groudon is released the whole cave could come crashing down on us, I’m afraid to even go in myself.”

“I don’t care. If you go in, I’m coming with you.”

“Then I’m staying out here,” Erik finished, folding his arms in steadfast refusal.

“Hello, Erik,” called a man from inside the cavern. He slowly approached them as Erik tried to make out his features. He wore the clothing of a Magma grunt, but his crimson robe concealed a more menacing shirt underneath. A heavy hood masked his face, making it hard for Erik to distinguish who hid underneath.

“You Magma or Rocket?” Erik replied, sighting the black and purple undershirt with a large letter ‘R’ sewn in above the man’s left breast.

“Rocket,” he replied, a smile lighting up the dark shroud of his face. “So you came after all.”

“I’m not going inside, I know you plan to make sure no one inside gets out.”

“Oh that’s not my job,” the man smirked. “That’s Wally’s.” The man noticed Erik’s expression change from stubbornness to shock, and immediately continued. “You heard me. When you refused the great Giovanni, he devised a new plan. To kill Wally’s Ralts and harden the child’s spirit, he would be the new protege, and it would be his job to make sure Groudon is released and trap Magma inside once he is.”

“What have you done…” Erik growled.

“Nothing. This is your fault, Erik. And everything that happens from now on. Is.” The man strutted away once he had finished, entering the submarine and preparing his escape.

“What now?” May asked, noting Erik’s silence.

“We have no choice. We stop Magma and save Wally.”

Traversing the ancient cavern had proved treacherous, the further Erik and May trawled, the more the intense heat heightened. Beads of sweat trickled down Erik’s face as his nostrils were filled with smells of lava and brimstone. Bubbling lava, screeches and roars could be heard ahead, as he clasped Blaze’s Pokeball in his hand.

They had been swarmed by a horde of Golbats as they entered the cave, Erik had captured one and named it “Bat” before Dancer and Swampert partnered together to fight them off. A number of Magma grunts had attacked them mercilessly, mustering all their might as the duo edged closer and closer to Groudon. The implosion of Magma’s hideout had left dwindled their numbers. Erik had heard whisperings that almost a quarter of their remaining force was in this cavern, and although there appeared to be various passages and pathways through that Magma forces could be hidden within, he had only seen a few of the grunts.

The sweltering heat reached its climax as Erik and May rounded a corner. Cracks ran down the ancient stone walls as steam rose up from similar scars in the cobbled ground. At the end of the corridor awaited a Magma grunt, his thick red robe boiling him within; Grant looked like he was roasting inside an oven.

“You…” Grant growled, taking the hood off of his drenched head. “I’m under orders to not allow anyone passed!”

Erik reached for Dancer’s Pokeball as Grant’s Golbat emerged to oppose him, but May laid her hand upon his wrist to stop him.

“It’s okay,” she said, flashing him a sweet smile. “Save your Pokemon for their leader, I’ll beat him for you.”

“Catch me up when you’re finished with him,” Erik replied, flashing Grant a scowl before strolling by him, the grunt too distracted by the battle now raging beyond him to stop Erik.

Scorching heat blasted Erik as he took the next step, it was as if he had just walked into a furnace. The cave’s lowest level was a huge circular room, with walls of brimstone covered by steam which rose fiercely from cracks in the cobbled floors. A menacing pit of lava bubbled and spat molten flakes at the far end of the open room, housing the largest Pokemon Erik had ever seen. Groudon.

The titan was encased in stone, as it had been for hundreds or maybe even thousands of years. A demonic smile painted its cloud-white lower jaw, but the rest of the beast’s gigantic frame was ruby-red, covered by coal-black stripes. Groudon’s huge claws were the size of Erik himself as large, sharp spikes lined its skin.

“Don’t worry, I haven’t awoken him yet,” Maxie said, the Magma leader loitered by the side of the pool, the ruby red orb he had stolen remained firmly grasped in his right hand. Mylos stood stoically beside his superior.

“Where’s Wally?!” Erik demanded, feeling himself shaking as he spoke. Mylos laughed harshly.

“My boy, I’m afraid you have been tricked,” Maxie replied cooly, a smirk belying his otherwise calm features.

“What do you mean?!”

“Oh not by us,” Maxie replied, holding a hand up in hope it would quell Erik’s rage. “It was Team Rocket’s ploy to lure you in, they couldn’t find Wally anywhere. They knew that you cared for the child, and if they made you believe that he was helping us, then you’d galavant in here without a thought for the risks involved. It seems they were correct in their assumption.”

“Why do they want me in here so badly?” Erik said, calming slightly.

“They think that Groudon will kill us all!” Mylos roared. “But I know Maxie can control him.”

“He’s right,” Maxie added. “The writings say that whoever awakens Groudon using the red orb will gain control over the Pokemon. With the power of Groudon I can take the fight to Team Rocket and stop ‘New Age’.”

“You’re crazy,” Erik replied. “No, wait, just desperate,” he corrected himself.

“Now I can’t be interrupted whilst I do this, otherwise I won’t be able to control Groudon. Mylos, keep Erik occupied.”

“Yes boss,” the admin replied in his gruff voice, marching forward at his leader’s command.

“Stop!” a voice called from behind them, May had entered the room. Grant sped out in front of her, running to his superiors and cowering behind them.

“May,” Erik shouted up to her, as she gleefully skipped down towards him. “Your Pokemon still able to fight?”


“Then Mylos is all yours. He’s a lot stronger than Grant but you only need to hold him off whilst I take down Maxie and get that red orb off him.”

“Okay. But what do you plan to do with that red orb.”

“Use it ourselves.”

“Wha-” May screamed.

“You don’t even know how-” Mylos echoed, but both were silenced when Maxie raised a hand once more.

“Battle me for that right, Erik,” the Magma leader demanded, before taking off his glasses and using his fingernail to remove some of the casing on the side. Revealing a miniature megastone underneath. “And this time I won’t hold back!” he roared, his composure vanishing as Maxie became as furious as the lava behind him.

A Mightyena was his first Pokemon, but Erik knew his opponent was saving the megastone infused Pokemon until last. He sent Happy into the fray.

Maxie’s Mightyena mercilessly leapt at the Gloom, wrapping fangs around her which suddenly became encased in flames. Like Ice’s ice fangs, this Mightyena could summon fire into his teeth. Happy was defeated with ease, her frail body tossed into the lava like an offering to the ancient Pokemon.

“Blaze,” Erik shouted, his Pokemon strolling onto the battlefield shortly after. The Blaziken sprang into life, launching two powerful kicks in quick succession at the Mightyena, who retaliated once more with fangs of flame, sinking strong fangs into Blaze’s fur.

A screech of pain erupted from Blaze’s mouth, but as the fire around Mightyena’s teeth surfaced, the Blaziken absorbed the flames, to his opponent’s dismay.

Maxie’s Pokemon shrank back, and Blaze grabbed the opportunity. He smacked a foot into the Mightyena, forcing it backwards as the Blaziken launched a blast of fire at his foe then finally another kick. Maxie’s Pokemon collapsed to its knees, but Blaze wasn’t finished. Erik’s Pokemon hoisted the dark-type into the air, and launched his foe into the pit of lava below, joining Happy in a mutual demise.

Erik was confused by Blaze’s actions. His Blaziken had acted relentlessly and without remorse, it seemed to him as if his previous mega-evolution had allowed a darkness to enter him, leaving a permanent black mark on his soul. Maxie’s next Pokemon, a Weezing, was engulfed by flames which seared through its shell, igniting the poison underneath, causing the Pokemon to self-combust and explode. Blaziken was swept backwards by the detonation, smashing into the cobbled floor behind him.

“Come home, Blaze,” Erik whispered to his friend, withdrawing his Blaziken into his Pokeball and releasing Soar in his place. Maxie countered with a Crobat.

“Ahh,” Maxie remarked, stroking his chin as he eyed Erik’s Pokemon. “A legendary Pokemon. The one you stole away from Mylos and Grant. No matter, it’s not the only legendary in this room,” he finished, switching his gaze from Latios to Groudon.

Maxie’s Crobat cut through the air at speed, the evolved form of Golbat latching its poisonous fangs into Soar who screeched in agony. The Latios swiped at the creature, missing each time as the Crobat moved agilely to the side but remained hovering too close to Soar for him to attack with a blast of energy.

Soar attempted to fly away, but the cavern was too confined for him to properly maneuver, leaving him vulnerable to the small but agile Crobat, who launched an attack with vicious fangs once more.

Erik’s Latios launched a desperate energy blast at his opponent, the attack missing entirely and crashing into the Groudon’s rock shell. Erik stopped breathing for a moment, expecting the blast to awaken the creature within. Luckily, it didn’t.

Maxie’s Crobat stopped in midair, anticipating the same thing Erik did, Groudon’s awakening. Soar didn’t hesitate, the legendary Pokemon grasped the poison-type in his jaws and crushed it, leaving Crobat’s limp body to tumble into the pit of lava. Soar wasn’t finished, the Latios opened his large mouth and unleashed a stream of energy at his foe, incinerating the Crobat within.

“Soar, it was already defeated!” Erik gasped, before withdrawing Soar back into his Pokeball. He wasn’t sure what had happened to his Pokemon, with first Blaze and now Soar acting as if they homed an ancient evil within themselves. He wondered if the Groudon he now stared at had that same presence residing in him, and if so, Maxie wouldn’t be able to control it.

“Splash,” Erik whispered to his Gyarados’s Pokeball. “I hope it’s not the same case with you.” He threw Splash’s Pokeball into the centre of the room, awaiting Maxie’s next fighter.

“It’s time,” the Magma leader said, throwing a Pokeball into play. His favourite Pokemon, a Camerupt, had been housed within.

Maxie pointed his glasses in the direction of his Pokemon, who immediately began to react to the megastone’s influence. A dark shroud encased the Camerupt within, and what emerged was no longer a Pokemon, but a monster.

“None of my Pokemon have a chance against a Mega,” Erik thought to himself. “The only way I’ve found to take down a Mega is using multiple powerful Pokemon, but this is now an official trainer battle, my device will know if I’ve cheated and give Rocket the excuse they need to destroy my licence, and May’s still fighting Mylos so can’t help me out with her Swampert. Wait,” Erik thought, as an idea sprung into his mind.

He grabbed the Masterball in his pocket and flung it towards the Mega-Camerupt.

“You fool,” Maxie smirked. “A Masterball works the same way as a normal Pokeball. The gravitational field around it decomposes if it detects the Pokemon already belongs to another trainer. And I’m not even going to ask where you got a Masterball from.” The Masterball dropped to the floor, Splash instantly using his tail to whip it back to Erik, who threw it back into his backpack.

“But this Masterball was used on one of my mega-evolved Pokemon,” Erik roared.

“Because you weren’t in control of it,” Maxie said, before uncontrollably breaking into manic laughing.

“Wait. How are you in control-”

“Camerupt,” Maxie ordered, “turn 360 degrees on the spot.”

His mega-evolved Pokemon complied, turning slowly in place, each stomp of his foot causing the earth beneath its feet to shake. Maxie’s demonic laughter echoed around the room once more.

“Don’t worry, I can only control this one.”

“But how?!”

“That, I’m afraid, is Magma’s closely guarded secret. Even Rocket do not yet know.”

Erik felt fear coursing through his veins. “The only other way I’ve ever seen a Mega taken down,” he thought to himself. “Is by another Mega.”

He reached into his bag and pulled out a megastone, before unleashing the power within on Splash. A deathly screech from his Gyarados was followed by the creature entering then emerging from a dark cloud at twice its usual size, with darkened and enlarged features.

The two entered a titanic battle with the advantage constantly switching sides. Maxie’s control over the megaevolution had seemingly weakened it, but only slightly. Instead of it using its primal instincts and unleashing all its fury, it now waited for its trainers command. However, whilst weaker now, Erik thought that under the tutelage of a master trainer, a controlled Mega would be unstoppable.

Mega-Splash curled its way around Mega-Camerupt’s body like a snake strangling its prey and began tightening its coils before unleashing a blast of dark energy. The fire-type’s retaliation efforts consisted of dark flame blasts, which seared into the Mega-Gyarados’s skin, a howl of pain echoing around the room with each one. Erik noticed that Maxie had stopped barking orders a few minutes ago, instead leaving his Pokemon to revert to its instincts.

The Mega-Camerupt escaped its prison, stomping on the ground and flipping onto its side, Mega-Splash writhing in agony and releasing its grasp. Maxie’s Pokemon moved to leap into the lava pit. Erik realised that if he were allowed to, the molten substance would flood the room and scorch anyone inside.

Mega-Splash sensed the danger to himself and shot out its head, attacking like a viper, and grabbed onto the Mega-Camerupt, enclosing his strong jaws around his foe’s rear.

Maxie’s Pokemon pulled strongly, slowly but surely edging away from Mega-Splash, and managed to escape the Mega-Gyarados’s vice-like grip. The Mega-Camerupt moved with as much speed as it could muster, the slow moving Pokemon breaking into its own version of a sprint towards the pool of lava.

Mega-Splash recoiled its long neck, inhaling air from around itself and exhaling a blast of dark energy. A black stream of death shot its way towards the Mega-Camerupt, and engulfed the Pokemon whole. Seconds passed before the smoke from the impact cleared. Maxie’s Pokemon emerged, somehow still alive.

Maxie’s beast was slowed almost to a stop, and began a weak crawl towards the pool. The lava within would both slightly heal and fully conceal the beast, as well as enabling it to be able to shoot molten streams from within. Erik hoped that his Mega-Gyarados could stop his opponent in time, but Mega-Splash didn’t appear to be paying attention to Maxie’s Pokemon. Instead, he had swiveled his head towards May’s Swampert, who had just defeated Mylos. The water-type Pokemon was now the biggest threat in the room.

“Oh no…” Erik whispered, as Mega-Splash prepared to unleash another attack. He had to act quickly, throwing his bag to the ground and fumbling around inside it until he found what he had been searching for.

Mega-Splash unleashed his attack as Erik threw two objects in quick succession.

Splash’s megastone collided with the attack of dark energy, absorbing the power and expanding slightly in size. Erik wondered what this meant. Usually when a Mega attack hit a megastone the result would be an explosion, both powers cancelling each other out, but this time an attack had hit its own megastone.

He would have to discover the answer at a later time, as the Masterball trapped the Mega Pokemon within itself. The capsule shook violently, bobbing up and down on the floor as the beast thrashed around inside trying to escape, until the buttons on top turned from red to yellow as Erik breathed a sigh of relief.

The next problem was the Mega-Camerupt.

Erik’s fears were rapidly allayed, as he saw the beast had collapsed on the ground and had de-evolved. It had attempted to muster up all its remaining energy in order to crawl into the molten pond, but Mega-Splash’s attacks had sapped all of its strength.

“Maxie no!” Mylos roared. Erik looked to the Magma leader, who had just flung the red orb into the pit of lava. Molten fire licked up and claimed the orb within its grasp, smothering the ancient stone in its fiery embrace.

“What have you done,” the admin gasped.

“I had no choice, I promised myself that I would do whatever it takes to save Courtney,” the leader spoke solemnly. He had always held his head highly and appeared to be in control, but Maxie now just faced the ground, a look resembling that of a defeated and desperate man.

“You’ve just doomed us all!” Mylos screeched. “Come on, let’s get out of here!”

“No!” Maxie roared, as the lava pool behind him began bubbling furiously. “Whatever. It. Takes.”

“Even your life?!” Mylos shouted back, before realising that saving his friend was a lost cause. “Forget it!” The Magma admin grabbed Grant and ran from the cavern as fast as he could manage.

“May, get out of here,” Erik ordered, but his friend remained stubborn.

“No, I’m staying with you until the end.”

A huge roar shook the very foundations of the planet. Rocks tumbled from the roof and lava spat from the pit it had resided within. Groudon had awakened.

“Groudon!” Maxie roared as the beast’s yellow eyes fixed on the Magma leader. “Hear me-”

Maxie’s words were cut short as fire spewed from its enormous mouth. The beast’s first act upon its reawakening was to give the leader of Team Magma a bath of flames. Maxie perished within.

“Maxie…” Erik whispered, seeing the Magma leader evaporate into ash as the fire smothered him. He had never empathized with Maxie and his actions or goals, but he definitely understood why the Magma boss would go to such lengths to rescue Courtney from Team Rocket’s vice-like grip. Now, Maxie had been turned to ash by the very Pokemon he thought would save him.

Groudon released a huge roar, which again violently shook the cave as it began collapsing around them.

“Get out!” Erik roared at May.

“What about you?!” May screamed back at him.

“I’m not going to allow it to the surf-” he began, before being interrupted by a further roar. Groudon harnessed all the power he could muster, summoning a rising fountain of lava which he sat atop of. He smashed through the roof, tunnelling his way up to the surface and emerging into the ocean. The water collided with the lava which immediately turned to molten rock, carving a solid pathway through the ocean.

“Let’s go!” Erik shouted, releasing Soar as both he and May clambered onto his Pokemon’s back. “Follow Groudon upwards!” he ordered his Latios, who immediately obliged as the cavern collapsed around them.

The cave ascended for miles, they had been deep underground. Soar battled his way through treacherous hazards. Spewing lava scorched his underbelly as rocks fell from above and crashed into him, both Erik and May having to constantly shift themselves to avoid boulders as large as their heads flying past them.

As they neared the surface, Erik could see that Groudon was now headed towards Sootopolis upon a wave of lava which acted almost as a surfboard for the beast. Sun scorched the earth as intense heat flowed into the planet’s surface. The ancient Pokemon seemingly controlled the sun itself.

“Erik!” May screamed, as she narrowly avoided a rock. “It’s headed towards the cave of origin deep inside Sootopolis. Once it gets there it can reverse to its primal form. That’s what the books said anyway. See, I told you I could help!” she said, flashing him a sweet smile despite the world collapsing around Soar.

“If it’s this strong now, how much stronger can it get once it reaches its final form,” Erik thought to himself. “Cecilia!” his head suddenly screamed with glee as he sighted his friend.

Cecilia awaited at the top of the ocean, sitting on a small island and peeking down into the newly-formed chasm below.

They were almost there, Soar had almost reached the surface.

Groudon roared once more, but now with what seemed like a thousand times more verocity.

The planet shook once more, and small cracks began to form within the chasm, but the majority of the rock wall stood strong as small amounts of ocean leaked into it, pouring down into the cave below. All until a wave of lava summoned by the roar shot through it. Soar was almost at the surface, he mustered the remainder of his strength, desperately attempting to reach the top before the lava did.

He succeeded. Just. The lava spewed up and scorched Erik’s Latios as he exited the chasm, sending searing pain through his body. Erik and May were thrown off back towards the pit as Soar thrashed out at the scorching impact and crashed into the ocean. The wave of lava shooting up into the sky and leaving the damaged chasm empty once more.

May plunged towards the empty chasm as beads of sweat poured from her body, until Erik grabbed her hand. Her body dangled perilously over the edge, all that stopped her from falling to certain death was the hand she now held. Half of Erik’s body slumped over the chasm, his legs on the surface being held in a firm grip by Cecilia.

“Erik!” May screamed, as their sweat covered hands slowly lost their hold on another. “Save me! Please!”

“Hold on!” he replied, feeling his grasp on her hand slowly slip.

“I only wanted to help you! I’m always left out I just wanted to be a part of it all!” May wailed, as Erik held her now only by her fingers.

“Please, don’t leave me too,” Erik cried.

He couldn’t hold her any longer, she slipped from his grasp.

“Erik!” May squealed as she tumbled perilously into the chasm below. Erik rapidly turned his head from side to side, looking around for Soar, but his Latios was nowhere to be seen.

“No!” Erik shouted. “May!”

He watched as she screamed his name, her body tumbling into the chasm below which bellowed creaks and cracks as the ocean began to overpower the rock. His mind briefly harked back to the three shadowed figures in the gym, two humans and a Pokemon. If the Pokemon was Leaf, then the female human must be May. His eyes widened and his heart dropped in realisation. He was really going to lose her.

Her body fell from sight as the ocean broke down the barriers, powerful waves smashing into another, filling the chasm and pouring into the cavern below.

Groudon roared once more.

Another stream of lava shot into the sky, ploughing through the ocean and briefly revealing the cavern below. May was gone.

With a forceful tug, Cecilia pulled Erik up onto the surface as the molten substance screamed passed him and singed his hair.

It had finally sunk in. He would never see May again. Even if she had managed the impossible and survived the fall, then the ocean had swallowed her whole.