His other self dead and himself alone
Darkness unites two worlds together
And all the earth is changed forever
"All right guys, we'd better go and see what they were talking about," said Rush, padding forward towards the entrance of the Cave of Origin nearby, the muscles along his arms and legs rippling beneath the surface of his sapphire-blue skin. When none of the others followed after the Swampert, however, he frowned and turned around to stare at his teammates. "What's wrong?" growled Rush, his golden eyes flicking to each of the other four Pokemon. "Let's get going. Dialga's waiting for us."
"I sense... danger in the cave," said Ferricia slowly, shaking her head as Sparktail and Thalia exchanged uneasy glances at the idea of entering the hallowed caverns. The Skarmory stared past Rush's shoulder into the inky blackness of the Cave of Origin's mysterious depths. She let out a sigh as Insyte rolled his eyes, and then gestured towards the cavern's entrance with a wing. "I... you guys go in there. I'm staying outside."
At this, Rush gave a sigh, and trudged into the caverns which lay beneath Sootopolis, closely followed by Insyte. Thalia glanced worriedly to Sparktail, then vanished down the tunnel as well. Swallowing apprehensively, Sparktail felt for his tail, squeezed it tight with one paw, and followed after his teammates into the cavern's entrance.
The cave was illuminated by dim candlelight as Sparktail and the others padded down a long spiraling tunnel in a single-file line, the floor gradually sloping downward with every pawstep. The Raichu didn't dare breathe until he, Thalia, Insyte, and Rush, had reached the final cavern, stepping out onto a wide circular ledge that led all around the walls of the room. The cave was a spacious stone chamber lit by glowing crystals that shone blue and red. The walls steadily inclined down from the dome-like ceiling towards the floor, an immmense-but-shallow pit resting just below the Pokemon.
Exchanging glances, the four followed the stone ledge over to the other side of the room, where a set of steps led down into the pit. Leaving Rush waiting on the steps, Thalia and Insyte descended into the pit, with Sparktail reluctantly following them. A chill ran down the Raichu's spine as he saw the blood, scorch marks, shattered stone, and cracks strewn across the floor. "A battle... there was a fierce battle," whispered Thalia, peering down at the floor carefully. "But... who was fighting whom?"
Suddenly, a glowing red force-field materialized around them, stretching from the walls of the circular floor all the way towards the ceiling, separating them from a horrified Rush. Whirling around, Sparktail gasped as he realized that they were trapped. At once, Insyte let out a low hiss and sprang at the force field, desperately clawing at the crimson energy barrier which stood between him and freedom. On the other side, Rush pounded furiously on the glowing wall, but to no avail.
Terrified, the Raichu began hacking at the barrier with his tail, when a pebble suddenly arose up from the ground and into the air, a crack running halfway down through the mysterious creature. Green and purple tendrils of energy shot out from the pebble, gently revolving to form a rotating, purple disk with a crude green imitation of a face. Thalia was about to fire razor leaves at Spiritomb when a flare erupted from behind her, solidifying into a Dusknoir and a Ponyta.
Thalia had only fired a single leaf when the Ponyta opened its maw and unleashed a massive wave of all-consuming flame upon the Leafeon, sending Thalia collapsing to the ground. "Thalia!" screamed Sparktail in horror, running to Thalia's side as she collapsed to the floor, a terrible shriek wrest from from the Leafeon's throat as the Ponyta's flames engulfed her.
As the trembling Raichu raised his eyes to meet Spiritomb's, a sudden wave of rushing wind and shadow assaulted him, blasting Sparktail back head-over-tail to slam against the rock wall behind him, jarring his senses with immense driving force. With the resounding crack of the Dusknoir's mighty blows against the back of Insyte's head in his ears, the Raichu stumbled to his paws, but was swiftly felled with a brutal shadow ball that smashed him into the foor. Screaming in pain, he lay ground beside Thalia and Insyte, writhing until blackness came.
Far away in the land of Almia, atop the majestic structure of glass and steel that was Altru Tower, beneath a floating white crystal orbited by three hovering gems, a pair of Pokemon Rangers stared out across the lands in shared dismay.
"According to the reports from the Ranger Union, this Tyranitar, with its chalk-white scales, has the power to defy the Capture Discs," said the female ranger, squeezing her partner's gloved hand. "If you attempt to circle it, the line shatters as soon as you complete a single circuit. After the Tyranitar appeared, its minions turned uncatchable, too."
The male ranger cringed. "Sounds like the Darkrai that guards the Luminous Crystal," he said grimly, shaking his head and gripping the steel rail. "Does Dr. Hastings have any good explanations? Maybe he can tie it to the Ein Papers from Orre."
The rangers stared out across the lands in shared melancholy, their all-but-useless Capture Stylers clipped to their belts. "We're too close to Giratina," said the female ranger, staring off towards the omiinous sillouette of Mount Coronet to the northeast. "We can't do this for much longer. Every time we get a unit close enough, we lose contact, and they vanish into static."
"I think you're right," said the male ranger softly, staring across the ruined land that they had tried so hard to save from darkness. What good did had they done for their region, in the end, if Giratina's armies brought it to ruin? "From what I've heard, they've even hit Sootopolis, way down in Hoenn--"
Before he could finish, the tower began to shake and tremble, and the observation deck heaved beneath the rangers' feet. The partners' eyes flew open as the tower rocked back and forth through the air, steel tiles and rivets popping free. Up and down the skyscraper, people and Pokemon were thrown to the floor in the wake of the great earth tremor, windows shattering, desks toppling, doors swinging wildly.
Still gripping each others' hands tightly, the two rangers stared into each others' eyes as the colossal tower shook itself apart, their partner Pokemon shrieking and clinging to their backs. Then, there was a loud groan from the shining crystal overhead, and both glanced up as the red, yellow, and blue gems one-by-one shattered-- leaving both humans to stare as the Luminious Crystal turned black as graphite dust, before the great skyscraper gave a final groan and came raining down in a cascade of concrete, glass, and steel.
Thick black smoke rose over the tumbling wreckage of Altru City, littered with the ruins of its proudest buildings, accompanied by a cacophany of shrieks and panicked screams. As the final shocks of the great earthquake rippled through the ruined metropolis, a terrible roar erupted from the great abyss which split open the twisted city's streats, followedc by massive claws that had ripped open countless terrain. Golden eyes which knew no mercy, thick crimson scale-plates unbroken by the sniper shots of trembling SWAT teams, the behmoth Groudon beheld the ruins of his work with a savage cry.
Faraway to the northeast of Sinnoh lay the Battle Zone. In her vacation home in the Resort Area, Cynthia awoke, the latest update printouts on the Dragonite herd located on her nightstand. She read them carefully. All was well and peaceful. The Magnezones weren't coming any closer, and were leaving them in peace as long as they stayed in the bay. Actually, today was even better. The Magnezones were retreating for some reason. All the high winds had finally dropped as well...
Outside Cynthia's window, a hurricane was forming in the bay. As more clouds joined the hurricane, the hurricane expanded to cover the entire area. Massive rains began to fall, flooding the Resort and Battle Areas. The winds returned, as furious and strong as ever. Islands were washed away. The heavy rains and winds pounded upon the landmass, threatening to wash it away.
A natural hurricane would have simply passed over the area, and eventually would be over. It would come, strike hard, and leave. But this hurricane was the work of the ancient blue leviathan Pokemon lurking beneath the sea, the Column of the Oceans, Kyogre.
In Kanto, a horde of Froslasses, Gengars, Rotoms, Mismagii, and six Dusknoirs hovered before the weakened gates of Fuschia City, their ghastly eyes turned towards their terrible master Darkrai. Crates of rations and weapons hung from Drifblims descending upon the beaches below, bringing fresh supplies to the army of the dead. Joy filled the lieutenant cursed veins as never before, not since the day Temporal Tower was nearly destroyed.
For two months, the terrible nether-beast had laid siege to Fuschia, cutting off supply lines and bombarding the city with wildfire shadow balls, starving out the war-weary Trainers and Pokemon within- draining them of strength, of spirit, of hope, and of life. The once-proud seaport of Fuschia stood cold and gray on that dark cloudy morning when Darkrai beheld the work of his cold unending siege, unkempt rooftops pockmarked with artillery fire like rotting wood.
The war of attrition took its terrible toll upon his enemies, leaving the people of Fuschia cold and thin and sick- no wood left for fires, no crumbs left to feed upon. Disease and filth ran rampant in the city without clean running water, without cleansing water to wash and drink- where only the hardiest of Rattatas could fill their bellies. And yet here stood Darkrai with hundreds upon hundreds of supply crates, surrounded by the soldiers of the dead who needed no sustenance and no medicine.
The Drifblims now carried fresh reinforcements to Darkrai, newly evolved Rhyperiors from his master's camps far in the north. Their eyes gleamed with a desire for wanton destruction, and the most troublesome of human cities lay weak and broken before their gaze. At last, the siegers would triumph over this city and claim it for themselves. At last, the black-hearted master of despair and cruelty would stand proud upon the broken remnants of Fuschia- and new Hexwraiths would be born under his command.
Darkrai bellowed a war cry, and his army surged forwad. Hundreds of Pokemon and humans converged into a chaotic mass of warriors. Gengars with Shadow Claw. Charizards with Fire Blast. A Salamence and a Dragonite, whirling around in the sky, trying to tear each other apart. Exeggutors and Girafarigs, striking out against Darkrai's Alakazams and Tangrowths. Massive waves of bullets. All was chaos, all was death and destruction, just as it had been on the day Temporal Tower burned.
Cianwood City was in pandemonium. When Giratina's army had first arrived on the Honshu continent, it had simply bypassed and ignored the tiny village hidden away on the far side of the Whirl Islands. And then, Giratina's army had pulled out of Johto completely. But now that the faraway region of Hoenn was subdued, Giratina's fearsome army had swung back around to conquer the Honshu continent... starting with Cianwood.
High above this tiny city was Mewtwo, his flesh hideously pale and his tail the color of rotting green flesh. Rhyperiors were hovering in the sky all around him, held up by Mewtwo's own powerful and limitless reserves of psychic energy. Mewtwo slowly weakened his telekinetic grip on the Rhyperiors, until these fellow minions of Giratina began to descend towards Cianwood slowly.
They landed on the ground, causing massive clouds of dust to fly up where their bulky bodies impacted the earth. People began to scream and panic. Some clutched their children tightly; others were running as far away from the Rhyperiors as they could.
Wooden seaside cabins and stick huts were crushed and destroyed. Rhyperiors were smashing away at everything in their path- houses, people, Pokemon, and anything and everything. Some Rhyperiors opened their giant maws and unleashed massive, sweeping streams of fire; they left death and destruction and fear in their wake.
Cerulean City lay in shambles as tornadoes ripped through the streets of the tiny village, tearing up buildings and bridges. Rayquaza, Father of all Skies, rampaged through the sky over the azure town, his thick green body lashing out in a furious rage at people and Pokemon alike. Dragonflame erupted from his maw, bathing the city in his rampage. The rivers ran red as Rayquaza unleashed the full might of his outrage upon Cerulean City again and again.
Houses shattered and collapsed. Men, women, children, and Pokemon fled the chaos, shrieking in horror, finding only more terrible death as they ran. Rayquaza flew around in circles, whipping up massive windstorms to devastate the city, roaring of bloodlust and all-consuming wrath.
"Damn! Everyone, fall back!" yelled Ethan Gold as a Garchomp with blood-red scales and golden claws crashed through the western gates of Ecruteak. Riding on the back of his Meganium, the 19-year-old Johto Champion stood amidst fourty of the finest trainers in the world, assembled in military ranks to meet the Exile's machine of war. Trembling the earth with every thundering footstep, the Red Dragon led her legions into roaring battle, her bloody scales seething with bloodlust. As the Garchomp's vicious spiked tail swept the battlefield, her eyes glinted golden to match her fangs and claws. Gazing into Ethan Gold's eyes, she opened her maw to unleash a terrifying roar that shattered the air, shaking the ground beneath their feet.
We never knew what war was, thought Ethan numbly as he and the other trainers reached for their Poke Balls, casting the capsules high into the air to send out their Pokemon against the fierce-eyed warriors lining up on either side of the Red Dragon. Ranks of cruel-eyed Rhyperiors, Mismagii, Yanmegas, Magmortars, Electivires, and Porygon-Zs gazed hungrily at the trainers and their enemy Pokemon with feral eyes, promising death and destruction to all mankind in their claws. Ethan could sense the panic of his Typhlosion.
"Mortimer, release the ghosts!" yelled Ethan as his Meganium reared up onto its hind legs in the tearth-trembling ruckus. Beside Ethan, Gym Leader Morty nodded, reached a hand into the bulging leather sack on his back, and hurled a fistful of Poke Balls high into the air towards the Red Dragon. The capsules flew open as they reached the top of their arc, releasing a crew of Haunters to hover around in protective circles over the trainers' army of Pokemon. From Alakazams to Weaviles, the defenders of Ecruteak and their slew of Pokemon stood defiantly against the Red Dragon and her troops as Morty continued to cast handfuls of Haunters into battle.
"I don't think so!" snarled the Red Dragon, slashing at the air with both claws as Morty's swarm of ghosts rushed upon her. A mighty golden claw racked her own chest and severed her leather necklace, flinging a small cracked lump of stone into the air to meet the racing wraiths. Smiling cruelly, she and her soldiers leaned back on their haunches to watch as Haunters desperately tried to veer away from the ominous stone suspended in midair. Then, the cracked rock flashed bright with a ripple of energy that set Ethan's hair on end.
Time seemed to slow down as the panicking ghosts were swallowed up into the Odd Keystone one-by-one, desperately trying to claw their way out of the swirling violet-and-green vortex that sucked the shrieking phantoms in the stone's glowing crack. "Someone give props to Darkrai, the dear boy's invention worked after all," cackled the Red Dragon, watching Morty's wailing spirits falling into the rock, leaving behind nothing but a thick cloud of violet fog where the Haunters' gaseous bodies had floated..
With Ethan and the others staring speechlessly towards the spectacle, Morty's eyes widened as he recognized the stone. "Son of a Blissey, that's an Odd Keystone," uttered the Gym Leader as the last of the Haunters was claimed by the stone, which landed on the ground. "A hundred and eight spirits... oh, Arceus, no-" As if in reply, the swirling vortex of violet and green mist emerged from the Odd Keystone, forming the hideous features of a Spiritomb.
Then the Red Dragon descended upon the people of Ecruteak in a violent mass of ripping claws and gnashing fangs, a bloody whirlwind of destruction incarnate that shredded earth from sky and flesh from bone. Roaring as bloodlust and dragonswrath consumed her, the Garchomp lay waste to the rustic village of Ecruteak, until the Bell Tower burned as black as its sister.
In the pitch-black night, Indigo Plateau was a field of scattered, glittering lights, ringed by a series of stone-gray mountaintops that overshadowed the magnificent human capital. The city was a diamond cut into eight triangular wedgelike districts beneath the new moon, its borders only dimly lit by streetlamps. In the once-proud buildings of Indigo Plateau, hundreds of human refugees lay packed together in their tiny cramped apartments, their lamps extinguished by tar-black fear. The isolated city in the azure peaks had come to a standstill, for all its safety from the Exile, for death and destruction entered on the lips of coming messengers.
At the forefront of the city stood an immense brick-red building of magnificent architecture, between the diamond-shaped city's southern-most tip and the treacherous slopes of Victory Road. It was a modern castle of glass and steel, a sanctuary to the most magnificent battle arena in the world, an immense shrine to the former glory of the Elite Four. Its gates were emblazoned with the Poke Ball of the nation's emblem, its spires towering high above the lands of Johto and Kanto below. Here stood the Headquarters of the National Pokemon League.
Atop his sepia-tiled balcony stood a man of twenty-six, clad in jeans, red sneakers, and a red-and-white short-sleeve jacket with white collar and trim. A yellow knapsack hung from one shoulder as he clenched a fingerless-gloved hand into a fist, a red-and-white baseball cap with a checkmark insignia pulled low over his dark eyes and black hair. Across the facility echoed the steady clicks of patrolling soldiers' boots, their belts brimming with Poke Balls and the rifles on their backs fully loaded. Leaning with both hands on the edge of the balcony, Champion Red's sorrowful gaze traveled across the dying lands, swept up in a wave of chaos from Cianwood in the west to Lavender in the east.
The world's slept for too long, thought Red. The world gave up war, and now that war has returned, it has turned to Pokemon trainers for protection. But Pokemon trainers weren't soldiers. These bloody and painful battles were not the battles he desired. Pokemon trainers dealt in games and competitions, perhaps prestige and honor, but never life and death. This was true war, and war was an ugly thing.
"What's going on, Red?" asked a voice from behind him. Without so much as raising an eyebrow, the World Champion smoothly turned around to face Chris Silversky, champion of Kanto and brother of the Hoenn Elite, Slick. "Any word from Hoenn, by any chance?" said Chris, sounding hopeful.
Gazing towards the steel-tiled floor, Red crossed his arms and leaned back against the balcony railing without a word. Recollections from the day's events flickered through the master tactician's mind, an endless stream of meaningless reports and unnecessary status updates. Migrating Gastrodons were hardly relevant to human survival, thought Red bitterly. And yet, that was all Cynthia had to offer, up until her moment of death- Gastrodon migration patterns.
And then, as for Hoenn... "It's doubtful that Kyogre, Groundon, and Rayquaza would be rampaging if Slick were around to stop them, as he has the reports on the Sootopolis crisis," said Red finally, keeping his voice cool and steady, not daring to look up at Chris. "I'm sorry."
Taking his Charizard's Poke Ball from his belt, he stood up straight and stepped towards the empty half of the balcony. As soon as he pressed the silver button on the red-and-white capsule, the Poke Ball flicked open and released a burst of red-to-infrared light, which erupted into the body of his loyal Charizard.
Turning to face Chris at last as the Charizard let out a roar, Red finally met the Kanto Champion eye-to-eye, feeling a sting of guilt as he saw the dimness in the other trainer's eyes. If he didn't return, thought Red as he climbed up onto his rumbling Charizard's back, then Chris would be in charge of mankind- and both of them knew that all too well. Gazing at Chris, he gave his fellow trainer a nod, before flying off.
Want to read more? Check out Chapter 3 - Chains of Darkness to find out what happens next
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