Hey everyone. Ri2 here. Bet you didn't expect to see another chapter of this story, did you? At least, you wouldn't if you haven't been keeping up to date on my current story, Brave New World, and knew what my plans were for this thing.

I know that many of you are fine with how this story ended, even if it was rather abrupt and a bit of a cliffhanger. I also know some of you were disappointed when I started the sequel with only a brief recap to explain what had happened in between the two tales. (And another bunch are probably disappointed that what did happen happened the way it did.) After some thought, I decided I wasn't happy leaving this story's ending hanging the way I did either. So, after finishing up the latest arc on Brave New World, I decided to make one last return trip to Latias' Journey and give it the ending it deserves.

My writing style has changed a lot in the last few years, as has my outlook on life. Looking back, I can see that I could probably have handled a lot of things in this story better, especially the final arc. I should have come up with a real grand finale, rather than just letting things peter out to a dead end. And I shouldn't have had so much pseudo-philosophical semi-religious (or anti-religious) vaguely symbolic gibberish mucking everything up in the last few chapters. I mean, this is Pokemon we're talking about, not Xenosaga or Neon Genesis Evangelion! We don't need that kind of stuff, do we?

That's part of the reason this true ending will go the way it will. That and because I'm displeased with some other things I did when I wrote the original ending back in the day. Whether or not you'll be satisfied with this rather sweeping change, I can't say, but I for one will be happier.

If you want to read further, even knowing that what you are about to see will pretty much invalidate the last big chunk of Latias' Journey and make it so that none of it really happened, then continue. If not, you can just skip to the sequel and skim past the first bit of the prologue. The events that happen here aren't really that important other than bringing in a sense of closure.

But I digress. You came here for stories, not apologies. This has been a long time coming, so sit back and enjoy…the true ending of Latias' Journey.

Disclaimer: I don't own any characters that don't belong to me.

All was quiet in the shattered ruins of Ever Grande City. The dark clouds overhead roiled ominously but otherwise did nothing of interest. The wind mournfully whistled through toppled skyscrapers and empty streets, passing over the still forms of countless dead monstrosities. Waves lapped gently against the myriad beaches and shores formed when the artificial island the city had been constructed on split into chunks due to the intense fighting that had raged through its streets, the final decisive battle of ultimate good and ultimate evil. (Well, the armies of ultimate good and ultimate evil, anyway, the embodiments of those two alignments had done most of their fighting in orbit.) Given the emptiness of the place and how the world still seemed as if it were about to end, one could easily be mistaken into thinking that evil had prevailed. And yet…

The world still remained. Had evil prevailed, surely all of existence would have been erased by now, wouldn't it? But if good had won, then the world would have been changed back to normal, no, better than normal, rebuilt into a paradise! And yet neither outcome had taken place. Why was this? What had caused this eerie stalemate between the forces of creation and destruction?

Indeed, it seemed as if the whole world had gone as quiet as Ever Grande, as the attacking monsters froze in their tracks and the few remaining warriors of good defending against them either took advantage of this pause to attack or retreated to mend their wounds and figure out what was going on. Not a single living thing stirred in the city…

Until, with a gasp and a great splash, a small Squirtle wearing an impossibly cool pair of sunglasses burst out of the ocean and dragged himself onto one of the chunks of land, using some twisted metal rods from a nearby broken bridge dangling near the surface of the water to pull himself up. He threw himself on the ground, gasping for breath and trying to recover his strength as water dripped off his shell and formed a big puddle beneath him. After several moments, he sighed, grunted, and started to get up…

When with a hiss and a keening roar, a horrific sea monster, some grotesque fusion of Sharpedo and Octillery with too many heads and eyes and mouths, rose from the water behind him. Without even turning around, the exasperated Squirtle grabbed a rock off the ground and hurled it over his shoulder. "Oh, give it a rest already!" The rock smashed into one of the monster's eyes, causing it to burst. Squealing in pain, and blood gushing from the many other wounds it had taken in fierce battle with the sunglasses-wearing Squirtle only moments before, the beast decided enough was enough and that some prey just wasn't worth it. With a whimper, it sank back into the water, vanishing into the depths. The Squirtle scoffed and brushed himself off. "Pssh. Pussy." That annoyance taken care of, he took stock in his surroundings. He did not like what he saw.

"Huh. It's quiet. Too quiet, cliché as that might sound," he muttered to himself as he slowly began to pick his way through the ruins, avoiding jagged pieces of rubble, pieces of glowing crystal, and the corpses of some of the more monstrous abominations lest they rise from the dead—again—and attack him. "Where is everybody? I heard this place was supposed to be the epicenter of all the crap that's been going on all over the world. I left the rest of the Squirtle Squad to take care of the city and swam all the way across the ocean from Johto to Hoenn under my own power, fighting sea monsters all the way and proving that I am without a doubt an utter badass, just to help my old pals Ash and Pikachu and Charizard and the others! I'd better not have made the whole damn trip for nothing, or else somebody's gonna be in for a world of hurt!" He frowned. "Assuming I can find anyone in this place…anyone alive, that is. Oh well, at least none of the corpses look like anyone I know…then again, considering how everything's up and started mutating all of a sudden, would I even recognize them if I saw them?" He sighed. "Guess I'll just have to keep looking. I can't be the only Pokemon left here, can I?"

He spent the next several minutes walking through the streets and swimming from bit of island to bit of island, calling for his friends and trying to find any signs of life. No matter where he went, everything was dead and still. Except when his shouts caused a moldering building to collapse and nearly crush him, that is. His sense of unease and his certainty that something was not right grew stronger and stronger…

Until finally, he found what he was looking for. In retrospect, he was surprised it had taken this long to find them, they were rather big and obvious and hard to miss. "Whoa…" he whispered in amazement as he cautiously approached the bizarre tableau laid out before him.

It was like a masterpiece painting brought to life. A monster so horrific it could be nothing less than the very incarnation of pure evil made flesh sat up to its waist in the ocean, defeated and helpless. Floating before it was its opposite, a majestic being of pure beauty and grace with a body of living metal that could only be the embodiment of all that was good and pure in the world, arm wound back with a magnificent gray sword to deal the final blow. Standing on the shore next to a cool-looking truck watching all this were a myriad assortment of humans and Pokemon wearing strange garments, many of which looked like they had been transformed or empowered somehow. The Squirtle was startled to realize that he recognized a good number of the humans and Pokemon, that they were the friends he'd swam across the ocean to find, but many of them had changed somehow. He wasn't entirely positive whether all the changes were for the better, though.

What was really weird was how none of them were moving. Everyone was standing as still as statues, frozen in a single moment of time with looks of hope and relief etched onto their faces, the belief that their nightmare was about to end…not realizing that it only seemed to have been prolonged indefinitely. Were it not for the fact that they were still breathing, the Squirtle would have thought they were dead. "This is freaky…" he murmured as he cautiously squeezed through the standing forms, careful not to bump into anyone or knock them over. He waved his hand in front of the eyes of anyone short enough for him to reach, but they didn't respond, not even when he shouted in their ears or sprayed them with water. They just kept standing there. "What's going on here?" What had happened to his friends?

He got his answer when a small glowing crystal appeared from behind the giant evil monster, tendrils of energy crackling across its surface and briefly dancing across the forms of the monster and the divine being as it passed them by, the crystal's glow increasing as it absorbed some of their power. "Yes…just a little more…" a faint voice whispered from within the gem. "It won't be much longer now…then everything will be mine, and their dream will become my reality…"

The Squirtle, hiding behind the bulky form of an immobile Tyranitar, narrowed his eyes as the crystal hovered overhead. He got the feeling that whatever was going on was somehow being caused by that thing. Obviously, that meant he had to destroy it. Considering that it didn't seem to have noticed he was there yet, that meant he still had the element of surprise. He quickly climbed up the Tyranitar, using its back spikes to help him reach the top of the immobile giant reptile's head. He crouched down and watched as the crystal slowly flew away, knowing he needed to do this at just the right time before the thing drifted too far away. With a grunt, he jumped into the air, pulling his body into his shell and whirling towards the crystal with a Rapid Spin.

"And my reality will be such a lovely reality, too," the crystal muttered to itself, oblivious to the shell spinning towards it. "Everyone will have hit points instead of…whatever it is they have now, and they'll have to roll dice to do anything interesting, and I can have any woman I want, and…hey, what's that sound? Yipe!" He quickly swerved to the side only seconds before he could be hit by the Squirtle. "What the hell was that?!"

Damn! The Squirtle thought in frustration as he spun past the crystal and started falling towards the water below. I missed! How embarrassing…good thing nobody's awake to have seen that, it could have totally ruined my street cred! To try to salvage his failed assassination attempt, the Squirtle popped out of his shell and spat Bubbles at the crystal.

The gem's surface flashed, and energy bolts lanced out, striking the Bubbles and popping them in midair before they could reach them. "Ha! You attack the greatest villain of all time by blowing bubbles?! Pathetic! And…who the heck are you, anyway? How are you not in a trance like the others?!"

The Squirtle couldn't answer the crystal right away, because it was at that moment he splashed down. He resurfaced a moment later several yards away and spat a Water Gun at the crystal. The crystal dodged the water stream and fired an energy bolt in retaliation. The Squirtle quickly dove back into the water, the blast sailing over his head. The crystal growled in irritation and fired several dozen bolts into the water, trying to shoot the Squirtle. The blue turtle bobbed and weaved as he swam rapidly here and there, zigzagging as the bolts pierced the water and shot down past him, leaving trails of bubbles in their wake. He surged downwards then up again, leaping out of the sea with a great spray of water and spitting more Bubbles at the crystal at the arc of his jump.

The crystal shimmered, and suddenly four smaller jewels appeared in front of it, shooting rapid-fire energy blasts that popped the Bubbles and also struck the startled Squirtle in the belly, cracking his shell slightly and flinging him into the side of the giant evil monster-thing. The Squirtle gasped in pain, not just at the impact but because just touching the monstrosity sent every nerve ending flaring. Cackling gleefully, the crystal fired another energy bolt, but the sunglass-wearing turtle quickly spat off a Water Gun to counter it. The streams of power and water collided in midair. Much to the crystal's surprise, his energy beam didn't immediately splinter the water spray and strike the turtle. "Huh? Wait a minute, that's not possible! You're just spitting at me, how's that capable of standing up against my attack?!"

Were his mouth not puckered into an 'O' to better squirt at the crystal, the Squirtle would have grinned and said a kickass one-liner about how he was able to do it because he was just that cool, but since he was busy attacking, he was unable to express his feelings, so just kept up the spray. After several seconds, the water pressure won out against the energy blast, and started pressing forward towards the crystal, despite the latter's protestations that this went against the laws of physics. Were he not busy causing this violation of the laws of physics, the Squirtle would have explained that he was able to do it because he was just that cool, but…eh, you get the drift. The water and deflected energy crashed into the crystal, causing it to spin away, sparks and bolts crackling around it in dismay and confusion. The Squirtle chose that moment to kick off the side of the giant monster thing, flipping over in midair to shoot a Water Gun back at it, the water pressure propelling him through the air towards the crystal like a water-powered rocket. When he'd built up enough momentum, he cut off the water feed, flipped back over, and slammed into the floating gem with his full twenty pounds, wrapping his arms and legs around the object and holding tight as they tumbled through the air. As the crystal sputtered and cried out in alarm, the Squirtle pulled back a fist and started punching the thing's surface repeatedly. He thought he could see the image of some grotesque twisted version of Mew's face in the crystal's depths, and the sight of the blasphemy only strengthened his resolve to smash the thing to pieces.

The Squirtle kept raining punches and an occasional headbutt against the crystal until cracks started forming. Alarmed, the thing that most definitely wasn't a Mew shook wildly about in an attempt to dislodge its passenger. When that failed to work, it finally just gathered its power and blew the Squirtle off with a point-blank energy blast, sending them both flying away from each other. The Squirtle crashed down on the shoreline below, his smoking shell absorbing the brunt of the landing and allowing him to recover and flip back onto his feet in moments. "Psh, is that the best you can do? I've gotten worse shocks from Pikachu in the past than that!"

"Pikachu? You know that stupid would-be swordsmouse with the Manyula girlfriend?!" the crystal hissed, floating back but maintaining a safe distance.

The Squirtle blinked. "Uh, yeah…didn't know he was using a sword now or had a girlfriend, though. Geez, people really need to tell me these things, I didn't even know my friends were here until I saw them on TV during one of the televised matches in the Hoenn League championships."

"So, you're their friend, are you?" the crystal murmured to himself. "But then why were you not Chosen to fight here, like the others? And why are you unaffected by my spell?"

The Squirtle frowned. "Chosen? Spell? I have no idea what you're talking about, weirdo, but if you had something to do with why my pals here are all standing around like statues, then you and I have a few things to discuss!"

The crystal burst into laughter. "You have no idea what's going on? You just happened to come here by chance and the hope that you would run into your friends?! Bwahahaha! How priceless! It seems that destiny forgot about you, little Squirtle, when it chose its champions, in favor of your friends."

"You still aren't making any sense," the Squirtle said angrily. "Tell me what the heck is going on here before I put another crack in that ugly facet of yours! (And yes, I meant facet not face, since you're a crystal and have multiple sides. And some people say I'm not clever with words!)"

The crystal sneered. "Very well. Since you're hopelessly late to the party—or rather, were never invited, so happened to crash it after all the festivities were over--I might as well clue you in on what you've been left out of! The ultimate battle between the forces of good and evil was waged here mere hours ago, the champions of justice (including your friends, chosen by destiny—or the Unown, not like there's any difference—to fight for the cause of freedom) led by the disgustingly benevolent being known as the Mother battling against the malevolent forces of destruction controlled by the unfathomably evil Deoxys! I, the inestimably brilliant Mewgle, was one of Deoxys's generals, and was unfortunate enough to be the first one to be dispatched by the Mother when she entered the fight…or so it appeared to all, anyway! I was born from a computer program, and thanks to Deoxys's power I have expanded far beyond my original capacities. By backing myself up on this crystal you see before you prior to my defeat at the Mother's hands, I ensured that I would be reborn should anything disastrous happen to me! The Mother joining the fray and the shifting of odds in the favor of the heroes distracted Deoxys and the Mother herself enough for my resurrection to go unnoticed by all…which was just how I wanted it, since it gave me a chance to make my own bid for conquest! Deoxys had originally recruited me because of my devious mind, creative imagination, and hatred for all organic life forms, and put me in charge of generating VR fields within which microuniverses fitting his specifications could be implemented for use against the valiant Chosen. The Mother's arrival and destruction of Deoxys's castle disrupted the battle routines I had set in place for the Chosen to fight in against the other generals, but freed up enough of my processing power to take control of his fortress's remaining systems and begin creating a new simulation that I could trap them all in, one almost indistinguishable from reality, one so good that not even those who had the power to control reality would realize it wasn't real! After all, reality is subjective, isn't it? I bided my time and put the finishing touches on my simulation as the generals and Chosen fell one by one in battle, until finally Deoxys himself was defeated and it seemed the day was won for the heroes. Since everyone was weakened and exhausted at that point from the long struggle, I knew that that moment was my opportunity to strike, so at the instant before the Mother could finish off her immortal foe, I activated my simulation, throwing them all into an imaginary world of my own making from which there is no escape! They are all so deeply immersed in it they have no idea that not a bit of it is real, hence why they are as you see them now, frozen in place and lost in daydreams. And while they're out of commission, I'm free to absorb the power of the Mother and Deoxys, the very essence of creation and destruction, good and evil, order and chaos, the limitless energy which underlies everything! Once I've drained enough of their power, I will become the omnipotent God either of them intended to become by vanquishing the other, able to rewrite the laws of reality and bend space and time to my whim, turning all that exists into the ultimate RPG of which I shall be the eternal GM, a game which will never end and of which only I shall ever be the true winner! Gahahahahahahahaha…hey, where'd he go?" Mewgle said, suddenly realizing the Squirtle had vanished.

"Hey, sorry I ran off like that, I had something important to take care of. I miss anything?" the Squirtle asked as he pulled himself out of the water nearby.

"Yes!" Mewgle screamed furiously. "I was in the middle of monologueing and explaining my diabolically evil plan! It's bad form to walk out on a villain when he's doing that! Do you know how much work we put into our schemes? We want appreciation for all our efforts now and then too!"

The Squirtle shrugged. "Yeah, but after you told me everything I needed to know I decided that, rather than listen to your whole rant, I should go out and do something to derail your whole plan while you were distracted telling me all about it. So, I took a quick swim around the city to destroy all the crystals I saw lying about that looked kinda like the one you're in now because I figured you might be using them either to create more backups for yourself or as servers to power this lotus eater machine you've trapped my friends in. The fact that they're still deep in a trance implies that your crystal is the last thing maintaining the illusion, so if I break it, I should theoretically be able to free everybody as well as kill you, hopefully permanently."

Mewgle gawked. At least, the Squirtle thought he did, it was kind of hard to see the thing's face through the crystal. "Wh-what?! But…but…but that's not possible!"

"Yeah, that's what most two-bit bad guys say," the Squirtle quipped.

"No, you don't understand, it's literally not possible!" Mewgle protested. "You're-you're just a regular Pokemon!"

The Squirtle frowned. "Regular? These shades say otherwise, dude."

"They are rather nice," Mewgle agreed. "But that's not what I mean! You're not Chosen! Your name was in no prophecy! The Unown and the Mother didn't pick you to fight in their army against the forces of evil! Your DNA doesn't possess the fluke that grants you immunity to Dexoys's virus! You shouldn't even be able to scratch any artifact of his power, including myself, without the kind of protection that only comes from fate! Or good luck in genetics. Assuming there's a difference."

The Squirtle smirked. "Destiny? DNA? Dude, you don't seem to understand something. None of that makes any difference! A real mon makes his own path in life, and that's the way I've always done things! Whether it's been forming the Squirtle Squad, joining Ash's team, or reforming the Squad, I've never let anyone make my choices for me. That's just the way I roll!"

"…That doesn't even make any sense!" Mewgle said in confusion.

"Does too," the Squirtle said.

"No it doesn't!" Mewgle protested.

"It really does. It means, simply put, that the reason I can do all that stuff…is because I'm just that badass!" the Squirtle said.

"Badass?! You?!" Mewgle asked incredulously. "You're a Squirtle!"

"A Squirtle with a rad pair of shades who swam all the way across the ocean to get here," the Squirtle corrected Mewgle.

Mewgle blinked. "You swam across…wait, really?"

"Yep," the Squirtle said.

"Wow," Mewgle admitted. "That is pretty badass."

"Yeah, I know, right?" the Squirtle said.

"But are you badass enough to keep from being drawn into my illusion?" Mewgle cackled, his crystal beginning to glow. "You said you came to see your friends…so why not join them in my dream world? I'm sure I can find some explanation as to how you got to where they are after being absent for so long…or perhaps I'll just convince them that you're their enemy and let you fight each other to the death! That'll certainly make things a lot easier for me!"

"Put me in a dream world? Yeah, right, like that's gonna happen!" the Squirtle snorted.

"Oh, but it is! Right…NOW!" The crystal emitted a blinding flash of light. When the glare died down, the Squirtle was standing as still as a statue. "Ha! You see? Nobody can resist my power!"

"Hmm? You do something? Because if that light show was it, I'm not particularly impressed," the Squirtle suddenly said in a bored tone, crossing his arms.

"But-but that's not possible!" Mewgle protested in alarm. "Not even the Mother or Deoxys could resist, and they're GOD!"

"Don't you mean gods?" the Squirtle asked.

"No, God, singular, since they're both essentially halves of…wait, what am I saying? This is still impossible! NOBODY can avoid my power! NOBODY!" Mewgle screamed.

"Then I guess my middle name must be Nobody, 'cause I did it pretty easily," the Squirtle quipped. "I'm surprised my friends fell prey to a cheap trick like that. Really, some pretty lights? That's it? I was expecting more from a 'great evil' like yourself."

"You…I am a great evil!" Mewgle snapped. "I've defeated the Chosen! I've put the embodiments of good and evil under my spell! The multiverse itself is within my grasp!"

"Yeah, and yet you failed to stop a puny little Squirtle like myself," the Squirtle pointed out. "That says everything, doesn't it? At least I'm not a Magikarp, or you'd really be hosed! Nobody would take you seriously again! Not that anyone does already, though."

"Ngh…gah…RRGGH! You little piece of…" Mewgle snarled. "'Failed' to stop you? You're getting a little ahead of yourself, aren't you?"

"You can't knock me out like the others, I've destroyed all your backups and spare servers, and already shown I can deal some pretty sweet damage," the Squirtle pointed out. "If I were you, dude, I'd consider surrendering and letting everyone go before I lose patience and send you to the trash bin for good."

"The only one getting trashed here is YOU!" Mewgle cried. "Creating virtual realities aren't all I can do…get a load of THIS!"

The Squirtle glanced around. Absolutely nothing happened. "Uh, a load of what?"

"What? You don't see the giant three-headed dragon?" said the startled Mewgle.

"I see some dragons over there," the Squirtle said, pointing at Latias and Rayquaza. "But they don't have three heads."

"Wait a minute…that can't be right…what about THIS?" Mewgle cried.

Again, nothing happened. "What about what?" the Squirtle asked.

Mewgle started. "You don't see the horrible tentacled monsters? The fanged maws? The swirling psychedelic battlefield?"

"No," the Squirtle said.

"So you're immune to regular illusions too?! No…more like you can see right through them…but how could…" Mewgle gasped. "Of course! It's those sunglasses you're wearing! They must be what's been protecting you from my power! Somehow they shield your eyes from my simulations and keep you from being trapped in my RPGs!"

"Huh, is that so? I always knew there was something special about these shades," said the amused Squirtle. "Which is why I stole them in the first place!"

"A kleptomaniac hero, huh? Still, even if your sunglasses protect you from my power to warp reality, that doesn't mean that's the only trick up my sleeve!" Mewgle boasted, his crystal crackling with energy. "I've absorbed more than enough power by now to be able to take you on in a fair fight! Let's see how you handle-"

"Oh, shut up already, I'm getting sick of your voice," the Squirtle complained, shooting a Water Gun at Mewgle.

The crystal dashed out of the way. "Hey, what are you doing?! I'm trying to do a transformation sequence here!"

The Squirtle snorted. "Right, and I'm just supposed to let you change into a bigger and nastier second form I'm gonna have to kill myself to take down? Why bother when I can just defeat you right now?"

"It's more climactic that way!" Mewgle protested.

"Climax THIS!" the Squirtle shouted, pulling into his shell and launching himself at Mewgle with a Rapid Spin.

"Ack!" Mewgle formed several smaller crystals to serve as decoys and quickly flew out of the way. The Squirtle smashed into and shattered the crystals. He popped out of his shell as he fell back towards the ground and spat Bubbles at Mewgle. Mewgle summoned several crystalline daggers from ether and flung them at the Squirtle, popping the bubbles and scarring his shell. The Squirtle grunted as he took the hits, but used the impact from the crystals to flip over and land on his tail, which he used as a cushion and a springboard to launch himself off the ground towards Mewgle, pulling back into his shell again for another Rapid Spin. Mewgle tried to dodge out of the way, but he was a second too slow this time, and the Squirtle managed to deal a glancing blow and smash off a large chunk of his side. "GAAAAHHH!"

The Squirtle landed and popped out of his shell again. "That's 2-0 in my favor, Mewgle. You aren't putting up nearly as much of a fight as you said you were. Where's that 'power' you were talking about, huh? Maybe you should just give up and save yourself the pain of getting totally whupped by yours truly."

Mewgle panted, realizing with a thrill of terror that he had a very good chance of losing. His mind raced as he tried to think of a solution to this, some way to win…and then he had an idea. "I'll kill them," he said abruptly.

The Squirtle frowned. "What?"

"I'll kill them. Your friends. You came to save them, right?" Mewgle asked. "So I'll kill them! I don't need them anymore anyway!"

The Squirtle growled. "You just try it, buster! I'll sacrifice my own body to protect them from you if I have to!"

Mewgle laughed. "Your formidable shell defense will be useless against this attack! Since they're all in my simulation, I can control their very lives at will! I can kill them with just a thought! Unless you surrender to me this instant, I'll destroy them all!"

The Squirtle gasped. "No! You can't!" He paused, a thought occurring to him. "No…no, you can't, can you?"

Mewgle blinked. "Huh?"

The Squirtle smirked. "Ha! Nice try, but you'll need to do better than that to pull one over on this turtle!"

"Wh-what are you talking about? I'll kill them!" Mewgle insisted. "I've already deceived several of them into thinking they're already dead in the simulation, so why shouldn't I kill them in real life too?"

The Squirtle snorted. "Get real! You said yourself you don't need them anymore, if you could have killed them like that you would have done it a while ago! Since all of them are still on their feet and breathing, that must mean you can't for some reason…and I think I know why! You said they're all in one simulation, which means everyone is sharing the same fantasy rather than everyone being stuck in separate illusions. That includes the Mother and Deoxys too! If you killed my friends for real, that means they would vanish from the simulation…and those two would think something was wrong if they all up and disappeared like that, even if you somehow managed to quickly cook up doubles to take their place, something I doubt is in your power anymore thanks to my destroying those other crystals you were running your program on! And if they noticed something as weird as that, then they might become suspicious of the world they're in, realize it's all a fake, wake themselves up, and cream you for trying to take advantage of them!"

Mewgle recoiled in alarm. Gah! How'd he figure that out?! He's right, if I killed them for real rather than just tricking them into thinking they were dead, the Mother and Deoxys would realize it's all a lie and kill me, since I don't have enough processor power anymore to create convincing phonies to keep them thinking that everything was fine! Not to mention it would be weird for them to die all at once given where they currently are in my simulation… He growled. Which means…if I'm going to have any chance of surviving and fulfilling my ambitions, I need to kill THAT GUY instead! "I may not be able to hurt your friends without jeopardizing my plans," Mewgle howled as he gathered all his power, causing his crystal to flare like a star. "But I can still kill YOU!" There was a high-pitched whine and he suddenly fired a HUGE laser beam at the Squirtle.

"Whoo boy," the turtle said. He tucked inside his shell and launched himself forward with Rapid Spin, knowing it was his only chance for survival. The super laser smashed into him, bolts of energy splintering off his spinning shell as he used all his strength to try and repel the blast. But Mewgle kept on pouring on the power, laughing madly all the while, and the beam started pushing the spinning Squirtle back, the sheer force he was exerting beginning to crack and scorch the turtle's shell in the process. If the latecomer hero didn't do something soon, his shell would break apart in mere moments and he'd be vaporized. Nngh…okay, maybe I shouldn't have made so much fun of this guy…he's…got more punch than I thought… He clenched his teeth inside his shell. But…I can't let him kill me. Not only would it be utterly humiliating…but I'd be letting all my friends down! Even if they did somehow catch this 'destiny' adventure train and totally forget to let me on board, I can't fail them! I'm their only chance…I'm the only one who can save them!

Were he a Fire Pokemon, his determination would have caused him to burst into flames, but since he was a Water Pokemon that wasn't an option. No, wait, his shell did seem to be burning, but it was probably from the heat of Mewgle's laser rather than the strength of his heart. His sunglasses glinted in the dark interior of his shell. Come on…pull yourself together! You're the leader of the Squirtle Squad and wearer of the raddest shades on the planet! Everyone is counting on you…or they would if they knew I was here and they needed to be saved! You…can…DO THIS! "RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!" He began spinning faster than ever, jets of high-pressurized water bursting out of the holes in his shell as he surged forward with Hydro Pump. The water jets whirled through the air, bashing the energy beam back and allowing the spinning burning turtle to gain ground in his duel with the evil crystal.

Mewgle gaped. "Wh-what?! No! No, he can't be doing this! How can he possibly be pumping out water while simultaneously being on fire without the two extremes cancelling each other out?!"

"Dude, everyone knows that the perceived badassery of any action is increased tenfold if it's performed while on fire!" the Squirtle retorted as he slowly but surely spun through the beam towards Mewgle. "Which means it's got a higher chance of success, too, no matter how improbable it might seem!"

"Of course! Stupid law of incendiary exponent…" Mewgle swore angrily. He frantically tried to increase his energy output, not only to make his beam stronger but in hopes that it would set himself on fire and therefore make it more likely for him to win too.

While a valiant effort, it was too little, too late, and the Squirtle rocketed forward like a fiery watery rocket that didn't care that it was an oxymoron or defying the laws of physics, plowing through the super laser and slamming into Mewgle's crystal with all his might. There was a tremendous explosion, and both combatants were blasted away from each other. The Squirtle landed in the water. Mewgle, on the other hand, landed on a rock. It was rather painful. "Nooooooooooooooo!...ow."

The Squirtle, his body steaming, pulled himself out of the ocean and adjusted his shades as he waded back onto dry land. "Woo!" he said. "That…was awesome! Too bad nobody was around to see me do it…"

"Uhhhhh…" Mewgle groaned.

"You don't count," the Squirtle said. He walked over. "So, let's see if you're still willing to fight…or if it's time for me to end this."

Mewgle's crystal was badly damaged. Cracks spiderwebbed all over its surface, and the cracks spread with every passing second, the whole structure coming apart at the seams. Sparks and weak arcs of energy crackled through the air around it. "No…nooooo…how could I have let this happen?!" the evil program wailed. "I should have seen all of this coming! I know everything about every RPG in existence, how could I not have anticipated any of this?!"

"Because, no matter how far you've evolved, you're still restricted by your programming," the Squirtle guessed, folding his arms over his chest. "And you, Mewgle, were clearly programmed to be a villain. Your average villain is rarely genre-savvy."

Mewgle groaned. "Dammit, you're right…I should have seen that coming too!"

"Except you wouldn't have," the Squirtle pointed out.

"Yeah, I know…" Mewgle grumbled. "Dammit…this was supposed to be my big thing! I was supposed to win! I was going to be GM of the entire freaking multiverse!"

"Oh, quit whining. Even if you'd done that, all the 'players' would have kept complaining about your attempts to railroad them into doing whatever you wanted and you'd never be able to keep everything under control," the Squirtle said. "It would be 'rocks fall, everyone dies' forever!"

"We'll never know now, will we, because you freaking killed me before I could find out for myself!" Mewgle snapped angrily.

"Yep," the Squirtle said. "I had fun doing it, too."

The cracks in the crystal widened. Shafts of light streamed from the gaps, and piece by piece the entire crystal began to disintegrate. "Before I die, I must know…what is your name? Who are you, brave Squirtle, that has managed to best me?"

"You want my name, huh?" The Squirtle smirked. "Like most Pokemon, I didn't used to bother with one…but then the Squad and I started getting into this really cool cartoon about a team of awesome Squirtles just like us (only mutated, and ninjas, which is wicked cool), so we decided to name ourselves after them. My friends are named Brad, Tom, Matt, June (there's five of us but only four Teenage Mutant Ninja Squirtles, unless you count the girl in the abysmal live-action show, which we don't, so the token female in our group named herself after the Squirtles' main human ally) and yours truly, Leonardo, since I'm the leader and coolest of the bunch!"

"Leonardo…I will remember that name…as well as those wicked shades…" Mewgle whispered. He started laughing. "Don't think this victory means anything! You have made yourself a dangerous enemy this day, Leo, and while you might have defeated me now, things might not be so simple in the future. I will return to battle you as vengeance for my death, and I will keep returning again and again until I kill you and bring my dreams of becoming the ultimate GM to fruition. Do not think you have seen the last of-"

"Oh, shut up," the annoyed Leo said, stomping hard on the crystal. "Just die already!"

And Mewgle did. His crystal shattered completely with a scream of anguish and turned into dust, which then crumbled into smaller particles, which were scattered to the winds when Leo sneezed and sent them flying away. "Good riddance," the Squirtle said. He turned to look at the others. "And now that that weirdo's dead, they should snap out of their trance right about…"

The large assemblage of Pokemon, humans, and others blinked in unison, collectively shuddered, and stared at each other in confusion. There was a long, stunned silence. Finally, as realization of what had just happened slowly dawned on them all, someone—several someones, actually—said, "What the fuck?!"

"I'm not dead?!" cried the startled Charla, Charizard, Zaptres, Zoro, Zoro's Pokemon, Gonzap, Gonzap's Pokemon, Loreon, Enzo, Politoed, the Pokerockers, Umbreon, Scyther, and Rayquaza.

"You're not dead!" Ash and his Pokemon cried as they glomped Charizard and Charla.

"You're not dead!" Misty and her Pokemon said, glomping Politoed.

"We're not dead!" Zoro and his team cried joyously as they hugged each other.

"We're not dead!" the Pokerockers sang as they hugged each other. And Brock. Not Jigglypuff the younger, though, much to her consternation.

"You're not dead!" Wes cried…glomping Gonzap.

"Ack! Get off!" Gonzap cried.

Rui sweatdropped. "I did not expect that…"

"Isn't he happy that I'm alive too?" Loreon complained.

"Or me?" Enzo asked.

"I'm alive…but I have nobody to hug…" Umbreon said sadly, since her love was dead. Well, deader than dead, since she had been a Ghost and all.

"I'm alive! And…still so old that I'll probably die for real in a few months, if not a year…" Scyther groused. "Whoopee…"

"I'm not alive?" Latias asked dully, seeing she was a zombie again.

"But I am," Rayquaza said. "Don't worry Latias, we'll find a way to restore you, even if I have to give up my own life! Again."

"Okay," Latias said. Then she gouged out her own eyes and licked at the tears of blood that ensured.

"It really creeps me out when you do that," Rayquaza said with a shudder.

"Sorry," she said flatly.

"I'm not evolved?" said a disappointed Togetic.

"I'm not the father of a litter of psychotic Pichu and Sneasel kids!" Pikachu said with what sounded a little too much like relief. Sadic coughed and glared at him. He flushed. "Er, not that I'm happy about that or anything."

"You'd better not be…" the Manyula muttered.

"Why am I a Golem again?" Brock complained.

"Where's my girlfriend?" Oliphan wondered.

"Where's my girlfriend?" Rukario wondered.

"Where're my many, many girlfriends?!" Crawdaunt cried.

"Or mine? I had quite the harem in the Aerodactyl nests," Aerodactyl complained.

"Where's my new band?" Jigglypuff the younger asked, somewhat confused and slightly conflicted at seeing the Pokerockers somehow alive and well again.

"I'm not the Mayor of an island paradise!" Wes wailed.

"You'll become one someday," Rui assured him.

"Not if I do it first," Gonzap growled.

"Isn't anyone happy to see us?!" Loreon and Enzo wailed.

"And I'm…um…no, I'm still me," Ash observed.

"Looks that way," Misty said.

"And I haven't transformed into an all-powerful monster that's devouring all of space and time," Deoxys complained.

"You're also dead," the Mother commented, running her blade through his crystal core, making sure not to stab the concealed Mewtwo corpse Deoxys had hoped she'd hit instead. (Guess one good thing came from them being put in Mewgle's false world, huh?)

"Bollocks," said he, exploding in a spectacular and surprisingly colorful shower of lights.

The Mother produced the final Giga Seal Ball and used it to suck up all of Deoxys's essence before it could escape. It seemed to take an awfully long time, and when the ball finally clicked shut it looked distinctly fatter than it had been while empty. The Mother pressed the ball into her chest, sighing deeply as her metal flesh rippled and absorbed it into her body. She closed her eyes for a moment, her magnificent form glowing brightly. The ominous clouds covering the skies finally parted, allowing the stars to shine down on the war-torn planet. (But not the Moon, since that had been blown up in the fight with Deoxys. They'd need to get a new one somehow.) Around the world, Deoxys' monsters stiffened and collapsed, the virus animating them dying and taking them with it. The weary warriors who had been fighting them stared in astonishment, then slowly started cheering raggedly, realizing that they had somehow managed to survive and had come out of all this as the winners. The nightmare was at an end. "It is done. The eternal war and the endless cycle have come to an end. We have won," the Mother said.

"We did?" Gyarados asked.

"Didn't the world get blown up and most of us killed and we went to live on a magical island drifting through time and space to…somewhere while we came up with a plan to somehow defeat an all-powerful reality-consuming monster?" Wobbuffet asked.

"I definitely remember the dying part, but not that other stuff," said Charizard.

"Maybe we're all dead and this is the afterlife?" Cacturne suggested.

"Then what was Birth Island?!" asked a very confused Rukario.

"An illusion our minds generated to make ourselves think we were okay when we were really all dying?" Crawdaunt suggested. "That would explain all the sex."

"If that was an illusion, then what're we in now?!" an exasperated Togetic asked. "Another hallucination?"

"Could be," Crawdaunt said.

"We could be trapped in an infinite number of fake realities, and each time we peel one away or wake up from the last one we only find ourselves in a different one," Ash said.

"That's surprisingly insightful, Ash. Where'd you get that idea from?" Misty asked.

"Onions," Ash said.

"Oh, you mean that analogy from Shrak and the Nurnia series?" Rui asked.

Ash stared at her blankly. "The what now? I was just hungry and a thought occurred to me that I wouldn't mind a good onion right about now." Everyone facefaulted.

"You're partially right," Leo said as he walked over. "It was all a hallucination! But you're back in the real world, thanks to me!"

"Who is that strange Squirtle with the impossibly cool sunglasses?" Zoro wondered.

"My shades are better than that," Wes said enviously.

"No they're not," Rui, Gonzap, Enzo and Loreon said. Wes sulked.

"Hey, it's Squirtle!" Ash realized.

"Long time no see!" Pikachu said as his old friend and teammate joined them.

"Is it just me, or does he look cooler than ever?" Charizard wondered. "Not as badass as me, though. Still…maybe I should invest in some sunglasses." Charla rolled her eyes.

"Who are you and what are you doing here?" Crawdaunt asked, his masculinity feeling challenged for reasons he didn't understand.

"That's Brother Squirtle," Togetic told him. "He's Ash's first Water-type Pokemon, and by far the coolest."

"Wh-what?! Then what am I?!" Crawdaunt demanded.

"You're pretty cool, but not as cool as he is," Corsola said.

Misty nodded in agreement. "Yeah, Squirtle's hard to beat in that category." Crawdaunt turned red…der and started muttering to himself angrily about how he was too cool and how he didn't need any stupid sunglasses to look badass.

"How did you get here?" Misty asked him.

Leo scowled at them all. "Well, considering that nobody bothered to invite me to this big battle to decide the fate of the world—or the Ever Grande tournament—I had to figure out you guys were over here and needed my help all by myself, so I left my city in the hands of the Squirtle Squad and swam over here to kick ass and help out!"

They stared at him. "…You swam across the ocean?!" Gyarados asked in astonishment.

"Yep," said Leo.

"All the way from Johto?!" asked the incredulous Pikachu.

"Yep," Leo said. "And it wasn't easy, either, what with all the sea monsters!"

"…I flew here all the way from Johto, and it took me days," said an astonished Charla. "How could a Squirtle get here in just a few hours?!"

"Heh, you don't know my pal Squirtle!" Charizard said with a chuckle.

"I like to go by the name Leo these days, actually," Leo corrected him.

"Leo…it suits you," Ash complimented him.

Crawdaunt fumed. "I could swim across the ocean in a few hours too…if I wanted."

"And it's a good thing I came, too…because all of you would be toast if it weren't for me!" Leo said firmly.

"What do you mean?" Pikachu asked.

Leo told them how he had come across all of them in a trance, and discovered Mewgle, who had managed to survive the Mother destroying him and had entrapped them all in an illusory version of Birth Island while he sapped the Mother and Deoxys's power. He then explained how he had totally whupped Mewgle's ass, only embellishing a little bit. "So I got sick of that guy ranting about vengeance and whatever and just stamped on him to shut him up, destroying his crystal and waking all of you guys up in the process," Leo finished telling his tale. "He said he'd be back, but I doubt it'll be anytime soon."

"Whoa…so…Birth Island and all the stuff that happened on it was a lie?" Ash asked.

"Which would explain why I'm alive and Latias is…well, dead again," Rayquaza said sadly. Latias stared at him blankly.

"Amazing…to think that I, too, was deceived in such a manner…clearly I underestimated Mewgle…" the Mother mused to herself.

"…Wait, then…then you're telling us that the last six months of our lives never happened and that most of the deaths and horrible stuff that happened just before that was all a dream, more or less?" Wes asked.

"Pretty much, yeah," said Leo.

Wes swore. "That is such TS! It's like the crap they pull in comic books when they write themselves into a corner and all the readers are furious and fed-up with all the stupid plot twists and deaths and character derailments that have been happening over the last few story arcs, they say it never actually happened or that somebody else was responsible doing mind control or someone pushes a huge reset button to make it so that everything's back to normal and the whole thing is never brought up again!"

"…So, you're not happy that your Pokemon or myself are alive?" Gonzap asked, hurt.

Wes flushed. "That-that's not what I mean! I'm saying…I'm saying it all seems so cheap! We were building up for a huge epic final battle, only to get yanked out of it and have the whole thing resolved anticlimactically in just a few seconds! I mean, what the hell was the point of any of the stuff we've been doing, then?"

"There wasn't any point," Rui reminded him. "Because it was all fake."

"Exactly! That's why I'm so angry!" Wes shouted. "That, and I lost the title of Mayor…I liked being a political leader…"

"When you put it that way, I guess it is kind of cheap," Ash admitted.

"But it also means the world wasn't blown up, a lot of our friends are alive again, and we all have a better chance at a future," Misty pointed out. "So I think things worked out better this way than they would have if everything that happened on Birth Island had been really real."

"Other than Latias being dead again," said Rayquaza.

"Or us not having girlfriends," Oliphan, Rukario, Brock, Aerodactyl and Crawdaunt miserably complained.

"You have a girlfriend!" Corsola said to the lobster.

"Yeah, but not the big harem I had on Birth Island," Crawdaunt said wistfully. Corsola rolled her eyes.

"Brock, you never had any to begin with," Ash said.

"I know," Brock wailed, bursting into tears. "Would it have killed Mewgle to give me a soulmate?! Even a fake one?! I don't want to be a bachelor forever!" They sweatdropped.

"Or me needing to give birth to my kids a second time," Sadic complained. "That won't be pleasant."

Pikachu grimaced. "Yeah, the first time was traumatic enough…especially for me."

"You weren't the one giving birth," Sadic pointed out.

"Yeah, but you almost ripped my arm off, so I'd say I suffered a bit too," Pikachu said.

Sadic rolled his eyes. "You're such a pussy…"

"I guess so…" Wes said reluctantly.

"So, how much if any of that fake Birth Island was real?" Togetic asked the Mother.

"It was mostly accurate," the Mother said. "Mewgle must have constructed it from the memories of Rayquaza, Rukario, and myself so we would be more easily deceived. However, quite a few of the details were completely false, especially most of the pseudo-psychology and anti-religious babble. He was just trying to make it seem deep and symbolic by cramming all that in there, a common tendency in RPGs."

"So what parts were real and what parts were fake?" Oliphan asked.

"Birth Island is indeed a tropical paradise where numerous ancient Pokemon extinct elsewhere can be found," the Mother explained.

"Oh, good," Aerodactyl said in relief, looking forward to seeing more of his kind. And having sex with them.

"Is it full of giant insects?" Misty asked anxiously.

"I'm afraid so," the Mother said.

"Figures," Misty growled.

"It also is, in fact, the home of human/Pokemon hybrids, descendants of humans and Pokemon who interbred millennia ago," the Mother continued. "They live in villages much like the one you saw in Mewgle's illusion. The majority of them have not, however, gone to sleep in underground chambers to make room for refugees from around the world; Mewgle probably just didn't include them because having that many fake people running about—including all the refugees he must have implanted—would have overtaxed his simulation and caused it to glitch, like any game played on a system that isn't quite advanced enough to run it. We would have noticed those bugs and realized the world was a lie, which is why he kept the hybrids safely out of the way."

"That explains why a lot of the other people on the island sometimes seemed a little…off," Rui realized.

"And why they often said the same thing multiple times," Wes agreed. "Because they were NPCs!"

"Was the whole part about Birth Island leaving Earth with a bunch of refugees and the souls of every living thing also something Mewgle made up, or was that your actual plan?" Rukario asked; glancing at the spell Registeel had given him and wondering what it really was capable of doing.

"It was indeed my backup plan, in case things went wrong," the Mother admitted. "Fortunately, things worked out, and in fact thanks to Mewgle's simulation, I knew Deoxys's plan to use Mewtwo against me, so when I regained consciousness I was able to defuse it and kill him permanently."

"Speaking of Mewtwo…that means he was an NPC too, wasn't he?" Rayquaza realized.

"And not a total jerk! Mewgle probably just made him act like that because he was still angry about Mewtwo helping us escape his digital dungeon the first time we ran into him, and wanted to get some kind of payback," Ash deduced.

"Tch. That guy's so petty," Leo said.

"What about the other things we saw and heard on Birth Island? Was that false as well?" Rayquaza wondered.

"Much of what you, Ash, and Latias learned in the catacombs of Birth Island was true," the Mother told Ash and the others. "Deoxys and I are indeed embodiments of the core consciousnesses of two enormous soul-beasts existing outside of time who have warred with each other and been forcibly reincarnated repeatedly every time the multiverse ended and was reborn, getting steadily worse each time as the endless conflict went on and on. Fortunately, now that I have defeated and absorbed Deoxys into myself, the soul-beast which represents all that is good has triumphed over the evil one once and for all. Nearly all evil save for that which we ourselves cause by our everyday actions and flaws has been eliminated from the multiverse, and when next the universes die, all souls shall flow together and converge to recreate the Original One, who will then build a new and much better reality that shall last forever."

"I see…" said Rayquaza. "What of the history we were told regarding Latias and my past relationships? Was that true?"

The Mother nodded. "Mostly, though a few details were embellished to make it seem more dramatic. And kinky."

"Ew," said Ash.

"I see…I suppose that's good to hear," Rayquaza said.

"Yes," Latias said, thought it was doubtful she actually cared. Considering she was incapable of it, that is.

"Are the Apostles real too? You said the hybrids were, so…" Ash asked.

The Mother shook her head. "If I had servants as powerful as them, don't you think I would have used them in the battle?"

"Good point," Ash said.

"A shame they weren't real, we could have used guys as strong as them," Pikachu said.

"But wait," said a puzzled younger Jigglypuff. "Didn't Registeel mention that Rayquaza needed to find someone named Anubis on Birth Island to save Latias? And wasn't Anubis the name of one of the Apostles?"

"Oh, he was talking about someone completely different," Rayquaza said.

"Yes, Anubis is one of the Mother's priests on Birth Island," Rukario explained. "He happens to be of the same species as me, and has some skill in necromancy, so would be able to cure Latias of her current affliction."

"I thought you were the only one of your kind," Milotic commented.

Rukario stared at her blankly. "Where did you get that idea?"

"Uhhh…" Milotic trailed off.

"The real Anubis's services would have helped save Latias had we indeed wound up on Birth Island fleeing Deoxys," the Mother said. "But since Deoxys has been defeated, I will soon have the power to cure not only her, but also revive everyone who has died this day in battle, both good and evil."

Everyone was overjoyed to hear this. "Really? That's great!" Tyranitar cried. "Then I can see my mother again!"

"And everyone else we've lost!" Misty said excitedly.

"But wait, why the evil people too?" Gonzap asked.

The Mother shrugged. "One of those balance of the cosmos things. Besides, most of them weren't completely serving Deoxys of their free wills and were turned into evil puppets by his virus. When I resurrect them, they will be as they were before his corruptive influence consumed them, if not better."

"When will that be?" Zaptres asked, looking forward to seeing Articuno and, amazingly, even Lugia again.

"Soon," the Mother said. "In the meantime, we can fill in more plot holes—I mean, correct inconsistencies that might have cropped up from the difference between our reality and Mewgle's false one."

"Are the natives of Birth Island really cannibalistic? Even if they are friendly, I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable going there if they do stuff like that," Milotic said.

"I would," Sadic said.

"We don't care," Pikachu said. She grunted.

"No, the natives are not cannibalistic. I don't know where Mewgle got that idea from," the Mother said.

"I need to know: is Crysta really on Birth Island? I know that she, at least, existed in the past, and was not just a fabrication," Rukario asked. "At least, I think she was…"

The Mother nodded. "She is there, Rukario, waiting for you to awaken her."

"Then awaken her I shall…so we can be together again…" Rukario muttered.

"Hey, are there really a Joy and Jenny Prime on Birth Island, and are all the Joys and Jennies really part of some genetics project the people out there did?" Brock asked.

"No, Mewgle made all that up," said the Mother.

"Oh," Brock said in disappointment. "I guess cloning one who loves me is out of the question then, huh?" Everyone sweatdropped.

"Mother, are Pikachu and I really brothers, or did Mewgle make that up too?" Ash asked.

"I…am sorry to tell you that no, you are not brothers, at least not biologically," the Mother said apologetically. Ash and Pikachu's faces fell. "You are brothers in spirit, though, if that counts."

"I guess…" Ash said.

"So, what, does that mean Ash's father—and mine—aren't any of the hybrids from Birth Island?" Pikachu asked.

The Mother shook her head. "No, you were born to a perfectly ordinary Pikachu family until you were captured by Oak."

"Then who's my father?!" Ash asked desperately. "I've been dying to know for years, but nobody's told me! Even Mom doesn't seem sure!"

"Oh, that's easy. Your father is Zoro," the Mother said, pointing to Zoro.

"I am?!" cried the startled Zoro.

"You are?!" Ash and Zoro's Pokemon yelled.

"He is?!" everyone else shouted.

"Wow, I did not see that twist coming," said Wobbuffet.

"This is just like a soap opera!" the elder Jigglypuff said eagerly.

"Only better, because it's real!" the younger Jigglypuff agreed.

"Unless this is yet another simulation and we only think we're in the real world, but…" Buzz started.

"Don't even start that train of thought again," Swampert snapped. He nodded meekly.

"He's my father?!" Ash asked.

"He's my son?!" Zoro asked.

The Mother nodded. "Yes. You see, many years ago, Zoro in his civilian guise of Diego de la Vega and Delia Ketchum happened to both be attending a fundraising party to support Pokemon who had been orphaned when their trainers were killed on journeys. They did not come together and barely even exchanged two words with each other while there. However, somebody drugged the punch, causing a number of the guests to become intoxicated and do a number of things they normally wouldn't, with little to no memory after the fact aside from a splitting hangover. Delia wound up sleeping with a number of men while under the influence, one of whom happened to be Zoro…who, by accident, he managed to impregnate her. Nine months later, you were born, Ash."

"Dios mio…" whispered a shocked Zoro. "I had no idea…"

"Senor Zoro! I thought you had better control than that!" El Gato lecture sternly.

"It's not his fault, he was drugged!" Rosa argued. "He couldn't possibly have known!"

"Hmm…what kind of drug was it? I ask purely for the sake of curiosity," Brock asked innocently. Nobody bought it.

"Zoro…is my dad," whispered a stunned Ash. "All this time I thought he was some deadbeat who abandoned us…or a crime boss…or an alien…or a League Champion…or a legendary Pokemon…or my time-traveling future self…and now I find out he's actually a really cool hero who my mom slept with at a party neither of them remembered properly, so he had no idea I existed, let alone that he'd conceived me."

"Ash…I am so sorry," Zoro apologized. "I swear, I had no idea. If I had known that you existed and were my son, then I would have done everything in my power to care for you, even giving up my cause as a freedom-fighter if necessary!" His Pokemon gasped at him in surprise. Zoro frowned. "What? Family is more important than anything, isn't it?"

"I'm still trying to process this," Ash said, still looking stunned. "But…I guess I could have a worse parent. If you really mean what you just said…"

"I do!" Zoro assured him fervently.

"Then…then I think I can accept you as my father," Ash said finally. "I mean, it'd be nice if you married my mom and all, but that's probably asking a bit much right now, so let's…let's take this a step at a time, okay?"

Zoro smiled and nodded. "I can think of no greater pleasure…my son."

They hugged. Everyone went, "Awwww." Most of the girls cried, except Sadic. It was questionable if she even had tear ducts.

"Can I get a hug too, boy?" Gonzap asked Wes, tearing up.

"No," Wes said.

Gonzap pouted. "Why not? You glomped me earlier."

"Spur-of-the-moment thing. Won't happen again anytime soon," Wes said.

"Oh," Gonzap said, looking very disappointed.

"Wes!" Rui snapped.

"What?!" he said. She glared at him. He sighed. "Oh, fine…" He hugged Gonzap. Everyone went, "Awww," again.

"When do we get our hugs?!" Loreon and Enzo wailed.

"I'll hug you," Rui said, bending down to do just that.

I guess this isn't so bad, Loreon said telepathically to Enzo.

Yeah, her chest is much softer than Wes's thanks to those pillow things human females have growing out of them. Hers could be a bit bigger, though, Enzo agreed.

I heard that! Rui shouted telepathically, causing them to yelp in alarm. They had forgotten she was psychic now, too.

"Since we're in the mood for heartwarming reunions, can I rejoin the band, please?" the younger Jigglypuff pleaded her mentor. "Since it turned out that it wasn't my fault that the Mother didn't get all the power she needed, after all?"

"Well…yeah, okay. I guess it wouldn't be the same without you," the elder Puff said reluctantly. "And it's not like anyone really died or anything. You can come back."

The younger Jigglypuff glomped the older one. "!" she sang gratefully.

"Welcome back, kiddo," said Onix. "Welcome home." The Pokerockers had another touching group hug.

The Mother smiled, pleased by all the joy from the Chosen. "I believe that takes care of everything, doesn't it?"

"Not quite. I have a question. What exactly was your plan to defeat Deoxys if he had won and forced us to flee, by the way?" Gyarados asked. "Back on Birth Island, you implied you had one. Or was that another of Mewgle's tricks?"

"I did indeed have a plan," the Mother said. "All the heroic souls who died in the battle against Deoxys's forces were absorbed by the evil Beast so it could torment them forever. What it didn't know was that they were actually 'sleepers.' When we became strong enough to face the evil Beast head-on, I was going to trigger those souls, causing them to reawaken and blast out of their prisons, freeing every soul around them as well so that they could battle the Beast from within and weaken it enough for us to prevail. However, since we have won here, that plan need not go into effect, and all the poor souls already trapped within the Beast have been released from their suffering."

"Which means you can resurrect them, right?" Cacturne asked hopefully, thinking of Wobbuffet's poor sister and Chimecho and everyone else who had died. Even Meowth!

The Mother nodded. "A great many of them, yes."

"That's great and all, but I have a question, too!" Leo asked. "How come nobody told me about this shindig beforehand? If I had been Chosen right from the start, I bet I could have helped all of you out a lot sooner and brought this whole mess to a close with fewer deaths! So why was I left out?"

They considered this. "That's a good question, actually," Pikachu said. "We probably would have had an easier time of it if he had been here to help us before."

"Oh come on, he wouldn't have made that big a difference," Crawdaunt scoffed.

"No, he would have, actually," Charizard said. "My mon here's pretty tough."

"Yeah, you bet I am!" Leo agreed. Crawdaunt fumed. "So, why was I left out?"

That was our doing.

Everyone looked up in surprise as a series of crystalline one-eyed figures shaped like letters spiraled down from the sky and formed a complex and ever-shifting formation over their heads. "Ah, I was wondering when you would get here," the Mother said.

"Hey, it's those crystal Unown things," Sadic observed.

"The who now?" Zoro asked.

"They're the ones who got us into this mess in the first place," Umbreon said. "What're they doing here?"

"And how did they get here? I thought they weren't capable of entering our world," Scyther said.

We got tired of that, the Unown replied inside their heads.

There was a pause. "You got tired of it?" said Politoed.

Yes, said the Unown. So we stopped.

"So you just…stopped not being able to enter our world?" asked a confused Togetic.

Yes, said the Unown. It's more convenient that way.

"Ah," Aerodactyl said. Everyone exchanged dumbfounded looks.

"Hey, where's Molly?" Ash asked, changing the subject.

She's been grounded, the Unown informed him. You will never see her again. In this lifetime, anyway.

"Oh," Ash said. For some reason he did not understand, that thought made him relieved.

"What was that you were saying about being the reason I wasn't invited to the party?" Leo asked the Unown.

Since we exist outside of time, we are capable of seeing all possible futures. We can see what has come before and what might come to pass. We knew that Deoxys would one day return and attempt to destroy all of reality so that only the evil Beast would exist. With the Mother's help, we pinpointed which nodes would make the most difference in the coming battle and tip the odds in the favor of the side of good. Those nodes were you all, the Chosen, the Unown explained. However, we foresaw that even with all of you working together, there was still a rather large chance of Deoxys prevailing. To increase the likelihood of the best future becoming a certainty rather than just a chance, we decided to rig the odds in our favor by holding several Chosen in reserve so that Deoxys would not know of them until it was too late. That is why a great many of you were not summoned to the first gathering of the Chosen several weeks ago, and why in fact we called Deoxys in too…by showing him a select portion of the Chosen, we attempted to deceive him into believing that those few were the only ones he would have to worry about, so he would only gather enough forces and generals to counteract that group and focus more on destroying them before the great battle than on searching for others who might pose a threat to him. That way, when the time came, he would not be aware of the remaining Chosen until it was too late and they had already entered the fray, giving your side a significant boost in reinforcements and allowing you to overcome his minions.

They all murmured in surprise at this, seeing the wisdom in this decision. "That's very clever," Rukario said, impressed.

"Aside from the fact that it turned many of us and those close of us into targets…" Pikachu pointed out.

It could not be helped. To get the best possible future, we had to arrange things just so, even though it required quite a few unfortunate sacrifices and deaths and deceptions to come about, the Unown explained.

"So…wait, you mean that you played us all like puppetmasters and allowed lots of things to happen that possibly didn't need to all because you believed it would somehow work out okay in the end?!" asked an incredulous Charizard.

We have an omniscient morality license, the Unown said. That means we can do pretty much anything we want, no matter how bad it might seem at the time, because we can predict that if it were done any other way things would not work out for the better. Had we not manipulated you the way we did, Deoxys would have won. And besides, now that you've won, we can change reality to fix all the damage caused by the battle and bring back just about everyone who had to die to achieve this victory, so it all works out for the best in the end, doesn't it?

"…So…are you saying that the ends justify the means?" Rayquaza asked dubiously.

That depends, the Unown said.

"On what?!" Rayquaza demanded.

On the ends and the means, the Unown said cryptically. Rayquaza frowned, not liking this answer.

"Hey! Back to me?" Leo called. "So you held a bunch of these guys back so the big bad wouldn't know about them until it was too late. I can understand that, good tactics. But if I was one of them—which is what you seem to be implying—then how come I never found out about any of this until the very last second, and had to get here by myself rather than being mystically called to battle or whatever?"

We knew you would be an excellent addition to the ranks of the Chosen long before you were born, the Unown said. While you lacked the particular genetic code that would grant you immunity to Deoxys's virus, we foresaw that you would one day obtain the sunglasses you now wear, sunglasses which would grant you protection from the virus and allow you to pierce Mewgle's illusions. We knew ages ago that there was a good chance of Mewgle managing to survive his destruction and attempting to capture everyone in a virtual trap, and also knew that with your sunglasses you would be the only one who would not fall victim to his gambit and be able to defeat him and save the others.

"What the big deal about these sunglasses, anyway? They're not that cool…" Crawdaunt grumbled spitefully.

"Yes they are," Corsola said. Crawdaunt turned redder and started cursing loudly.

"That's a good question, actually. What is it about the sunglasses that protected him?" Pikachu asked.

A few years ago, a drunken Unown wandering through the dimensions on its way home happened by chance to phase through a lens factory, its brief presence warping the molecular makeup of a pair of sunglasses about to be shipped out to a mall somewhere and endowing them with incredible reality-bending powers, including the ability to perceive the truth behind illusions and, conveniently enough, immunity to evil soul-stealing monster-creating viruses, the Unown explained.

"Wait, how do Unown get drunk? They don't have mouths!" Wes protested.

"They're Psychic," Loreon said.

Wes blinked. "What's that got to do with anything?"

"What do you think happens to a Psychic type when they read the mind of a drunk?" Loreon said. Everyone sweatdropped.

Along the way to the mall, the shipment of sunglasses, including the altered ones, were waylaid by bandits, the Unown continued.

"The Squirtle Squad?" Charizard guessed.

"No, some other punks, actually. We beat them up and took the sunglasses for ourselves. I got the coolest ones, naturally, 'cause I'm the big boss," Leo said proudly.

And because you did, you were able to see through Mewgle's deception and save your friends, the Unown said.

Leo smiled. "Yeah, I did…but why didn't you include me with the others to begin with?! I could have saved everyone the trouble of destroying Mewgle the minute he started his plan! Not to mention I wouldn't have had to swim all the way here!" Leo shouted.

While you would have been a strong asset to the others if you had joined the battle earlier, we decided it would be too big a risk to have you involved in the fight from the start. The chance of you dying or being too injured from combat to play your role when you were needed was too high a risk for us to take. We kept you out of the loop and unaware of your true purpose until the very last minute so that Mewgle would let down his guard, thinking he had imprisoned everyone who could threaten his plans, allowing you to get the drop on him. And it worked, the Unown said.

"I suppose so…" Leo said reluctantly. "I'm just not fond of being yanked around like that without being told what's going on. I've always thought I controlled my own fate, but now…just how much of the events behind my and everyone else's lives have you masterminded in some way so that we could defeat Deoxys, anyway?"

We would rather not tell you. You wouldn't like the answer, the Unown said. In any event, it's nothing you didn't agree to beforehand.

"Uh, I don't remember agreeing to any of this beforehand," Oliphan said. The others nodded in agreement.

"You did it before you were born," the Mother said. "Naturally, you wouldn't remember after you'd been reincarnated. Most people don't."

"Ah," Oliphan said. Everyone exchanged confused looks, not really getting it.

"And now that all the exposition is taken care of," the Mother said, glancing at the Unown. "I believe it is time to set things right."

Indeed. When we recruited you Chosen in the first place, we promised you all a wish once you had defeated Deoxys. We were not entirely truthful about that, but we intend to keep the spirit of our promise by repairing the damage Deoxys has done to your planet as well as resurrecting all your friends and, in general, doing our best to grant you a happy ending. After everything that's happened, you deserve it, the Unown said.

"We certainly do," Gonzap agreed. "So lay it on us!"

Very well. Mother? The Unown said to the deity.

She nodded and closed her eyes, clasping her hands together as if in prayer. (Though considering who she was, who or what exactly would there be for her to pray to?) The Unown broke formation and rearranged around the Mother, forming a circle. They began to spin around the goddess, their initial revolutions slow but quickly accelerating to higher and higher speeds, the air literally humming as they sliced through it. The Mother seemed to be humming too, her body resonating as it emitted some kind of tone that vibrated down to the bone and seemed to make the fabric of the universe itself quiver. Or maybe it was something else that was causing the air around her to distort and crackle with intense energy. They all began glowing, the Unown radiating a pure white light while the Mother emitted a beautiful golden radiance. As the light fell upon the Chosen, they stirred, feeling energy of some kind flow into them and ease their weariness and any lingering injuries they had suffered in the battle. It made them feel something else, too…joy. Joy, and the gut-deep sensation that something wonderful was about to happen.

They were right.

The Mother gasped, her chest heaving, and the light coming from her and the Unown flared as a quantum surge rippled out from them, time and space churning like silly putty in their expert hands as reality itself was rewritten to suit their desires. The Chosen felt a weird tingling sensation as the wave passed over them, and started to see that in its wake, all the devastation that had been caused in their battle against Deoxys's forces had been repaired. Skyscrapers were no longer gutted towering ruins but shining pillars of glass and metal reaching into the skies once more. Streets were no longer split and cracked and full of holes, but as smooth and freshly paved as they had been on the day they had first been laid down. The artificial island Ever Grande City was built on, rather than being shattered into dozens of smaller little keys, had been reassembled to form one giant land mass once more, all the chunks of earth and turf that had been displaced or sunken in all the heavy battling replaced or regenerated. The city shined brilliantly as all the lights switched back on at once, seeming to blaze with renewed life and energy and creating a beacon on the seas visible for miles away. Ever Grande had been reborn, as if it had never been destroyed (and in a way, it hadn't been, since there had been more than a little temporal shuffling and quantum tunneling involved in its reconstruction), better and more beautiful than it ever had been. Even Battle Frontier and the monorail leading to it had magically reappeared, despite the total destruction of both just the previous night!

And the quantum surge didn't stop there. It washed over the planet like a rainbow-hued ribbon of energy, healing and mending all the desolation in its path. Burning cities were turned into gleaming metropolises. Barren wastelands became lush green plains and forests. Toxic reservoirs and polluted bodies of water were purified and became sparkling clean wellsprings of life. The people of the world stared in disbelief at the restored landscapes surrounding them, jaws slack and heads tilted so far back their necks started to hurt. Only the warriors of Sevii seemed unsurprised by the miracle, for they had known that this wonder would occur after the Mother had triumphed over her nemesis.

Once the surge finished healing the Earth, it continued expanding out into space and across universes, repairing the damage Deoxys and his parallels in other worlds had caused in their rampage throughout reality. Back on Earth, in the meantime, the Mother and the Unown released a second quantum surge, this one intended to resurrect all who had been slain in battle against the forces of evil in the last few days. The surge rippled over the Chosen…and suddenly they realized that their group had somehow gotten quite a bit larger, with several familiar and dear faces joining the crowd. Many hugs and shouts of joy and elation naturally ensued.

"Mewtwo! Gardevoir! You're alive!" Rayquaza cried.

"And Gardevoir's still-," Ash commented, only to receive a glare from Misty. "Um, perfectly fine in every way."

"Thank you," the Embrace Pokemon said, although she knew what Ash was really thinking. She was Psychic, after all. She didn't particularly care, though.

"Hello," Latias said dully.

"Are you yourself again, or are you still a jerk?" Ash asked Mewtwo.

"I was never a jerk, that was just an emo copy of me Mewgle used," Mewtwo explained. "How unimaginative of him. And untrue to my real character, too!"

Ash nodded. "I figured as much. Even when you were your most whiny and angsty back in the day, you were never that big a douche."

"…Hey, what's that supposed to mean?!" Mewtwo complained.

"Why is Latias a zombie?" Gardevoir asked as Latias munched on her own arm.

Rayquaza sweatdropped. "That's a bit of a long story…"

"Crobat, it's you!" Brock cried as the purple four-winged bat swooped down.

"Brock, you're…a Golem. How'd that happen?" Crobat asked.

"It's a long story," Brock said Mareepishly.

"Great! The gang's all here now!" said Forretress.

"Hey Crobat, how'd you like to join our band?" Onix asked.

"Yeah, your ultrasonic skillz could go far in a group like ours," Metal Sound said.

"I don't know…your music's a little hard on my sensitive ears," Crobat said.

"That's what earplugs are for," Buzz said.

"Come on, join us!" Jigglypuff urged.

"Thanks, but no thanks. I'm just not interested in rock and roll," Crobat said. The Pokerockers groaned in disappointment.

"Phew! At least one of my Pokemon doesn't want to be a rock star," said a relieved Brock. "Now, if only I can find some way out of this crazy band…"

"Articuno! You're back!" Zaptres cried happily, tackling the revived blue ice bird.

"ACK! HELP! RAPE! GET OFF ME!" Articuno screamed.

"Articuno, don't you recognize us? We're Zapdos and Moltres, fused into one being and mostly happy to see you again!" Zaptres said.

"Ah," said Articuno. "ACK! HELP! RAPE! GET OFF ME!"

"We seem to be alive again," Papa noted.

"At least we weren't trapped in that awful airless gap between dimensions like the last few times," Mama said.

"Though nobody seems to be particularly happy to see us," Oniichan complained.

"I'm alive? I'm alive!" Lugia cried. "And…my family is still dead. Wonderful."

"Lugia! You're alive!" Zaptres cried, tackling the great white bird.

"ACK! HELP! RAPE! GET OFF ME!" Lugia screamed.

"I'm back," Blaziken muttered, looking himself over. "But…where is Harrison?"

"Right here," Harrison said, standing right beside him.

"Harrison!" the overjoyed flaming chicken cried, enveloping his trainer in a very warm hug. "You're alive again, too!"

Harrison laughed. "I certainly am! Wait, since when can I understand what you say?"

"Since we both came back from the dead?" Blaziken suggested.

"That works," Harrison agreed.

"Mom! You're alive!" Tyranitar squealed joyfully, knocking into his mother so hard they both toppled over and caused the ground to shake.

"My son! You're all grown up now…I wasn't gone that long, was I?" the female Tyranitar wondered.

"No, the Mother just evolved me right to this level," the child said.

The female frowned. "What! But that means I missed the end of your childhood and all your teenage years!...Hmm. On second thought, maybe I should thank her for that."

The younger Tyranitar blinked. "Hey, what's that supposed to mean?"

"Draganium! Sceptile! Welcome back, you two!" Charizard welcomed the two Grass Pokemon back from the dead.

"What about me?" Venusaur, who was standing next to them, asked.

"We're not happy to see you because you got Sceptile killed," Charizard said. Venusaur sagged in disappointment.

"You did?!" cried the startled Leo. "What'd you do that for? And why'd you evolve, I thought you were happier being small and cute and cuddly as opposed to big and ugly."

"As to the first, envy," Venusaur said sadly. "As to the second, I didn't really have a choice. The Mother made me evolve."

"That wasn't very nice of her…" Leo muttered.

"It wasn't very nice of me to get Sceptile killed," Venusaur pointed out.

"True," Leo admitted.

"It's all right, I forgive you now," Draganium said. "You more than made up for it by sacrificing yourself to help us defeat Alpha. Sceptile-kun forgives you too, right?"

"No," Sceptile said. Draganium glared at him. He flinched. "Oh, all right. I guess I forgive you, since I'm alive now. But if you ever do anything like that again, or so much as lay a Vine Whip on Draganium, I'll kill you."

"I understand," Venusaur said. He perked up as Ash and the others came over. "Hey, Ash! You're alive again! Well, other than being some red lizard thing."

"What's wrong with that? I like being like this," Ash commented.

"So do I," Misty giggled. "In more ways than one." The others blanched, not really wanting to think about that.

"It's good to see you all again," Pikachu commented. "Even Venusaur, despite him getting Sceptile killed."

"I'm never gonna live that down, am I?" Venusaur muttered.

"No," Sceptile said. "You're not."

"Now the whole family is back together again!" Oliphan squealed happily, wildly flailing his trunk about. "Group hug!"

Everyone stared at his enormous heaving dancing bulk and sweatdropped. "Uh, maybe later," Togetic said. "Besides, I'm not sure we're all here yet, are we?"

"Then let's go find whoever's left," Pikachu reasoned. "They must be here somewhere, right? Everyone else so far is."

"Oh, that reminds me," Draganium said. "Where's Latias? Has she been fixed yet?"

Everyone exchanged uneasy looks. "Uh…" They glanced back at Latias, still under Rayquaza's watch. She had stuck her tongue up her nose so far that it ripped out through one of her eyeballs. "No. Not really," Corsola said.

Draganium sagged. "Oh. I guess I'll have to wait to forgive her for killing me until she's back to normal, then."

"You're going to forgive her for that, too?" Crawdaunt asked. "I certainly wouldn't. Especially considering how painful your death was. It was really awful."

"She's my best friend," Draganium said. "How can I not forgive her?" She turned to Sceptile, who was staring at Leo. "Come on, Sceptile-kun, let's go try to find the others!"

"Hmm? Oh, yeah, right," the Forest Pokemon said, reluctantly turning away from Leo to follow his mate. That guy's pretty cool, he thought to himself. Maybe I should get shades.

That guy's pretty cool, Leo thought, glancing at Sceptile. Maybe I should start carrying a twig in my mouth everywhere.

"Ho-Oh, you're back!" Wes commented as he found the rainbow-winged phoenix. "I guess your kind really does come back from the ashes, huh?"

"You wouldn't say that if you knew how I died…" Ho-Oh said with a shiver. "It's good to see you and the others too, Wes. Where is my daughter? Is she all right?"

"Define 'all right,'" Rui said. They all glanced at Latias, who was now picking her ear. Except she drove her arm in so far it came out the other side of her head.

Ho-Oh groaned. "Dammit! That bastard must have done it to her…then again, is 'bastard' the right term, considering that I know who his father is? And that's me? Sort of? It's kind of confusing…"

"Wish I know who my father was…" Wes commented.

"What about me?" Gonzap asked.

"You're my foster parent, not my biological one," Wes pointed out. "Hmm…the Mother knew who Ash's dad was. Maybe she knows mine, too?"

"WYNAUT! WYNAUT!" Wobbuffet shouted as he, Milotic and Cacturne searched the crowd. "Where is she? She should be here, shouldn't she? Everyone else seems to be…"

"Don't worry, I'm sure we'll find her eventually," Milotic said.

"And if not, maybe the next energy wave will bring her back?" Cacturne suggested.

"I hope so…" Wobbuffet said anxiously. "This victory will be meaningless to me if my sister isn't here to enjoy it with me…"

"Registeel!" Rukario shouted happily, tackling the metal golem…and hurting his face. "Ow…I love you dearly, Father, but it's rather uncomfortable to hug you."

Registeel chuckled. "I imagine some could say the same of you, Rukario, what with that spike in your chest. But I'm happy to see you too. I hadn't expected to be resurrected so soon, to be honest. I had almost expected to just drift away peacefully, no matter which side won the battle."

"You could never do that," Rukario said. "You know you are needed here too much!"

Registeel nodded. "I suppose that is true. I could never leave my friends and the great Mother behind when there are still duties to perform."

"Then you won't be 'drifting away' for a long time, right?" Rukario asked hopefully.

Registeel shook his head. "No Rukario, I'm here to stay."

Rukario smiled. "That's good. Because I don't think there's anything that would make me happier. Except being with Crysta. And I intend to see her shortly."

"That should be nice," Registeel agreed. He sighed. "If only I could be as certain of ever seeing my siblings again…"

As Ash and Misty's family searched the crowd for their missing members, a familiar voice reached Crawdaunt's earholes. "Father! FATHER!"

"Son?" Crawdaunt's eyes widened in astonishment. "MY SON!"

"FATHER!" Kasurin the Luvdisc cried, hopping towards his parent as sparkling tears fell from his eyes.

"KASURIN!" Crawdaunt bellowed as he raced towards the Discfish, pincers extended and manly tears flowing down his face.

Father and son hugged, laughing and crying joyously as the others looked on. "Awww," Togetic said. "Isn't that sweet?"

"Yay, Emotional Brother Cousin Kasurin is back!" Oliphan cheered.

"That is kinda sweet, isn't it?" Sadic grudgingly admitted.

"Eh," Gyarados said.

"This is great…now there's only one left! But where is he? He must be around here somewhere…" Misty asked, glancing around. Then something bumped into her. She glanced down. "Huh?"

"Huh?" the yellow Golduck standing next to her said.

"Hey, it's Golduck!" Politoed observed unnecessarily.

"Yay Brother Golduck!" Oliphan cheered.

"I'm actually elated to see him," said an amazed Corsola.

"So am I!" Misty cried, hugging her moronic duck. "You have no idea how much I missed you, Golduck!"

Golduck's eyes crossed. "Ow…headache…" His eyes glowed blue, and he flung everyone away with Confusion. He stared at them blankly, blinked, and then wandered off. "Pink? Pink?"

They groaned as they picked themselves off the ground. "Ow…that wasn't nice of him," Draganium complained.

"Same old Golduck," Misty sighed.

"Why did we miss him again?" Corsola wondered.

"Can I kill him?" Sadic asked.

"No," Pikachu said. "Why would you want to, anyway? That attack of his didn't even affect you!"

"He threw around the father of my future children like a piece of garbage, that seems like a good reason to kill him to me," the Manyula said.

Pikachu sighed. "Murder is your solution to everything."

"Only because it works so well!" Sadic said. Pikachu rolled his eyes.

"He's looking for something pink? Didn't he notice these two?" Leo asked, pointing to Kasurin and Corsola.

"He's talking about his girlfriend, May's Delcatty," Charizard explained.

"She's pretty enough, but I prefer my womon with a bit more brains," Crawdaunt said.

"They're equally brainless, so they're perfect for each other," said Togetic.

Kasurin sighed happily. "I just love it when others are in love…and it reminds me of my beloved Rabufin! When will I see her again?!" He burst into tears.

Crawdaunt sighed. "I love my boy dearly…but does he have to be such a sissy?"

"You were crying earlier too," Corsola pointed out.

"Those were manly tears, womon! Kasurin's are more effeminate. There's a difference!" Crawdaunt said. Corsola rolled her eyes.

"Let's go after Golduck and keep him from tossing too many people," Misty suggested.

Ash nodded. "We have good reason to, too…if he finds Delcatty, then that means May can't be far behind!"

They were right. They quickly found Golduck hugging a very pink Delcatty, while May (who was still a sphinx), Munchlax, Blaziken (May's, not Harrison's), Ivysaur, and Beautifly looked on. "Pink!" Golduck said happily.

"Yellow!" Delcatty chirped. They nuzzled each other lovingly, reunited at long last.

"That's really sweet, isn't it?" Ivysaur said. "Munchlax, stop eating my leaves."

"I'm not eating your leaves," Munchlax lied through a mouthful of green plant matter. Ivysaur whipped him. He spat it out. "Ow. Fine."

"May!" Ash yelled as he and the others raced over.

May gasped. "ASH!" She flew over and hugged him perhaps a little too intimately.

"Ahem," Misty said.

May blushed and backed off. "Sorry. Um, it-it's good to see you."

"It's good to see you, too," Ash said.

"In one piece," added Togetic.

"And not horribly mutilated," Oliphan added.

"She probably still has crippling self-esteem issues, though," Crawdaunt said.

May scowled at him. "I'm over those now."

"If you say so…" the lobster said skeptically. "Are you over stupid riddles, too?" May threw sand in his face.

Kasurin washed it off. "Was that necessary, father?" Kasurin asked him.

"You didn't hear her riddle. It was really stupid," Crawdaunt said.

"It was not!" May snapped. "You were all stupid for not figuring it out!"

"Then maybe you should have picked an easier riddle, considering you were expecting a mind-raped zombie to solve it!" Crawdaunt argued. May threw sand in his face again. "Now that's mature…then again, considering she murdered her own parents…" May covered him in sand until only his star-shaped crest poked out. "Okay, I'll shut up now."

"Probably a good idea," Corsola said. "Why do you always mouth off like that?"

Crawdaunt shrugged, displacing some of the sand on top of him. "Someone has to say it."

"That's usually my thing," Sadic complained.

"Don't worry, I'm sure you'll have more opportunities to say bitingly cruel things or issue violent threats later," Pikachu told her.

"I'd better…" Sadic muttered.

"Oh! That reminds me," said May. "Is Latias…"

"No, she's pretty much exactly the same," said Corsola. "But at least she seems to no longer have much interest in killing things now that her evil brother isn't around, Rayquaza has her under control, and she's spent what felt like six months but was only a few hours in real life thinking she was alive again."

May gave her a confused look. "Huh?"

"It's a long story," Oliphan said.

May sighed, crestfallen. "Then my riddle really was no good after all…I was just trying to help her out, but it was useless, just like everything else I do!"

"May, you aren't useless!" her Blaziken protested.

"Every single one of you died either today or last night because you weren't strong enough fighters, probably because I've wasted my time training you for contests rather than real battles. My attempt to save Latias was not only thrown back in my face, but she brutally killed me for it after Dark Latios verbally belittled me. The first and second boys I ever loved are taken, and the third died last night. My brother's gone insane and hates me due to the fact that I murdered our parents, thinking they were monsters and possibly due to subconscious feelings of resentment and envy. I wasn't Chosen to save the world until the last minute, and I was too much of a wreck to do any good. Most of the people I saved were probably killed by monsters minutes after I left them. And on top of all that, I never made it to the Grand Festival. My entire life and everything I ever do ends in failure. How am I not useless?" May asked bitterly.

"Wait, I know Drew is the third guy you've loved, but who are the first two?" asked a confused Ash.

May sighed in exasperation. "The second is you, and the first is Brendan Birch! You know, that gay guy you kissed in the Battle Palace?"

"Oh," Ash said. "Right."

May moaned. "Everyone I love dies, goes crazy, finds someone else, or is gay. My life is meaningless. What's the point of me even being brought back to life, if I'm still as big a failure as ever?" Her friends exchanged uncertain looks, not sure how to answer that.

Somebody beat them to it. "We don't think you're a failure, May," Norman said as he and Caroline approached.

May gasped. "Mom? Dad?"

"We're sorry if we ever made you feel unloved, like the unfavorite child, or that you were stuck in my shadow," Norman apologized.

"And we're also sorry we accused you of being a monster and not the real May," Caroline said. "We were scared and paranoid and instantly distrustful of anything out of the ordinary due to everything that's happened to us in the last day or so."

"We know now that you're the real deal, and we accept you for what you have become," Norman said. "We don't think you're a failure at all."

"You can't be a failure, because you're a Maple, and Maples never give up, no matter how often they get pushed down," Caroline said.

"You're our daughter, and we love you. That's all that matters," Norman said.

"Let's go find Max so that we can be a family again," Caroline said.

May trembled, tears running down her cheeks. "M-Mom…Dad…" She lunged forward and hugged her parents, sobbing. "I love you both so much…I'm sorry I killed you."

"It's okay," Norman said.

"These things happen," Caroline said understandingly.

"Awww," almost all of May's friends and Pokemon said. (Munchlax was too busy eating something he shouldn't to pay attention to what was going on.)

"Eh," said Gyarados.

"Are you sure this is the right thing to do?" Gardevoir asked Mewtwo, who was controlling Norman and Caroline's minds.

"Maybe not, but May really needs a break," Mewtwo said. "The poor thing's had a really bad week, hasn't she?"

"But what happens when you're not controlling them anymore and their real feelings towards her, whether good or bad, resurface?" Gardevoir pressed.

"That's what brainwashing is for," Mewtwo said. "Brainwashing makes everything better, and clears up all problems!"

Gardevoir rolled her eyes. "That's your solution to everything."

"What? It's better than murder, isn't it?" Mewtwo said.

The Chosen were not the only ones to celebrate as they and their friends and loved ones were returned to them. As the quantum surge washed over the planet, it brought back to life just about everyone who had been slaughtered by Deoxys's minions either during the great battle or in the events leading up to his attack over the last few days. The gym leaders and scientists and world leaders and League officials and celebrities and other high-ranking personalities whom Deoxys had executed that morning all found themselves back in their homes, much to the delight of their families and friend. The world rejoiced, its population magically replenished and returned to those who loved them.

And the Mother and the Unown still weren't done. There was one last great feat to go. Their glowing grew even brighter, the Unown spinning so fast they were no longer visible as individual letters but as a single glittering blur, and with a cry they unleashed one last quantum surge, bigger than the rest. As it passed over the Chosen, the size of their group increased again as abruptly several of Deoxys's generals and minions (except for Mewgle, naturally) reappeared in their original forms, purified of the virus and their souls cleansed of evil. The wave rushed past the Chosen, and any monster corpse it passed over was not only brought back to life but changed back to its original form, whole and hearty and human or Pokemon once more.

Naturally, this affected Latias too. There was no dramatic transformation or great flash of light, one moment she was a zombie, then the wave passed over her, and she was suddenly alive and herself again. "Latias!" Rayquaza cried joyously. "You're alive!"

"I-I can feel again," she whispered in astonishment, running her claws over her and Rayquaza's bodies. "inside and out. Emotions, thoughts, hopes, feelings…everything is running back to me. I'm…I'm myself again. I'm back. I'm home…"

Rayquaza blinked. "Home?"

"Of course," she said. "I'm with my family now, and with you. Wherever we're together is home, isn't it?" She hugged his neck.

He closed his eyes and sighed blissfully, wrapping his tail around her smaller form. "You have no idea how long I've waited for this…"

"As have I," Latias whispered, rubbing her head against his cheek. "As have I."

Her friends applauded. "About damn time!" Charizard roared.

"Yeah, we've been building up to this moment for the last sixty plus chapters—I mean, the entire adventure," Pikachu said.

"You know, to look at them, it's hard to believe that this is technically the first time that they've met in the flesh without either of them being some kind of undead horror," Crawdaunt said. "So…why are they in love again?"

"Because they've been lovers for billions of years in past lives and this is just the latest incarnation of their relationship with each other?" Togetic suggested, finding that very romantic. Most of the other girls agreed with her sentiment.

Crawdaunt did not. "Seriously? I thought that part was something Mewgle made up too."

"No, that was real," Registeel said.

"Ah," Crawdaunt said. "How schmaltzy."

"It's a happy ending," Corsola said.

"I repeat, schmaltzy," Crawdaunt grumbled.

"Still more satisfying than having a ton of foreshadowing to them reuniting each other—while technically meeting for real for the first time—and then Rayquaza abruptly dropping dead to make her alive again," Kasurin pointed out, gushing uncontrollably because he LOVED happy endings and romance, both of which this qualified as.

"I guess…" Crawdaunt admitted grudgingly. "I suppose it's no more unrealistic than Pikachu and Sadic hooking up despite only knowing each other for all of what, a day or two? And having sex and conceiving kids so quickly, too? Mother knows I've mated with and impregnated dozens of womon sooner than that…though usually they don't stick around afterwards."

"Part of the reason we've become a couple is because I'm the kind of guy who commits to a relationship long-term to see if it works out, especially if there's my progeny involved—unlike you, Mr. King of One-Night Stands and Harems…and partly because I'm afraid she'll eat me if I broke up with her," Pikachu confessed.

"That's right, I would," Sadic agreed.

Latias briefly turned away from Rayquaza. "Everyone, thank you so much for being here today. For so many of my closest friends and acquaintances to be here to see the culmination of what feels like centuries of waiting and longing and hoping-"

"Which it has been," Rayquaza pointed out.

"It means everything in the world to me. Thank you," Latias finished. "Oh, and Draganium, May, Delcatty, Blaziken, Ivysaur, and Beautifly, I'm sorry for killing you."

"That's okay, you weren't yourself," Draganium said. "We understand."

"Yeah, it seems like a lot of us have killed each other today," May said.

"If we didn't move past that and forgive each other, how could we stay friends?" Ivysaur said wisely.

"Yellow," said Delcatty, making out with Golduck and not paying attention to anything else going on around her.

"The only thing that could make this moment even better is if my brother were here," Latias said wistfully. "And not a horribly psychotic evil monster."

Naturally, it was at that moment that Latios, who had been released from his GS Ball prison, resurrected, purified, and given the same transformation that Latias had undergone (only in blue) floated over, a confused look on his face. "Latias? Is that you?"

Latias gasped. "BROTHER!" She lunged at Latios, tackling him in a hug and nearly knocking him out of the air. "You're back!"

"So it seems," said Latios, hugging his sister back. "Um, you wouldn't happen to know how that happened, would you? One second I was happily drifting about in the afterlife, next thing I know I'm here, with all these other people."

Latias pulled away from her brother and blinked in surprise, the confusion on her face shared by her friends. "You mean you don't remember?"

"Remember what?" Latios asked.

I erased his memory of his sins as Dark Latios, the Mother told Latias telepathically. While I will allow most of those who served Deoxys to keep most of their memories so they can learn from their mistakes and become better people or something like that, the atrocities Dark Latios committed were worse then all the others put together. He would go mad if he realized the full enormity of the evil he had done…especially to you.

I see. Thank you, I think, Latias thought back. But what am I supposed to tell him, then?

Lie, the Mother suggested.

Latias mentally sweatdropped. He's my brother and a Psychic. Won't he know?

Not if I don't want him to, the Mother said.

Latias sighed. Oh, fine. "We saved all of existence from the greatest evil to ever be, and as a reward the Mother resurrected you, along with a bunch of other people."

"Oh! That was nice of her. I guess she gave me this new body too? I should thank her, it feels pretty nice." He glanced at Rayquaza and frowned. "Say, don't I know you?"

"I am Latias' betrothed. I think we might have communicated once or twice when you were dead," Rayquaza said, taking a cue from Latias not to mention the whole being super-evil thing.

"Oh, right, I remember." Latios frowned. "Didn't you destroy my hometown and kill all its inhabitants?"

Rayquaza hesitated. "Ah…"

"We're trying to work past that," Latias said.

"Oh," Latios said. "Well, okay. But if you ever do anything like that again, or hurt my sister in any way…"

Rayquaza chuckled, deciding not to point out that since he was king of the dragons, Latios couldn't actually do much of anything to him. "I know, I know."

Latias took her brother's arm and tugged him over to the others, who looked understandably apprehensive about being near the guy, considering what he'd done only a short while ago as Dark Latios. "Now that you're here, I can introduce you to all my friends. You may recognize a few of them, you met them before you died…though they've changed quite a bit since then."

"I can see that," Latios commented, noting the strange forms and apparel of most of Latias's friends. "I really missed out on a lot when I was dead, huh? Hey, did the UST between those two characters I liked in that cop show ever get resolved?"

"Law and Disorder: Internal Investigations? It got cancelled a few months after you died," Latias said.

Latios gasped. "Cancelled?! No…NO! NOOOOOOOOOOO!" Everyone sweatdropped. Any lingering fears that he'd snap and kill them were put to rest. It was hard to perceive a guy who was sobbing over the termination of his favorite show as a threat.

"We're alive again!" Entei roared triumphantly.

"And we don't have to share the same body anymore!" said a relieved Suicune.

"Woohoo!...hey, why isn't anyone rushing over to welcome us back to the land of the living?" Raikou complained.

"Because everyone believes we do a much better job as legendary beasts than you three?" Papa suggested as he, Mama, and Oneechan came over.

Entei sneered. "What do you know? You're just a human a psychotic little girl with way too much power transformed into a Pokemon."

"Yes, and you're a trio of legendary Pokemon who forsake their duty to the world in the name of power and pride, nearly dooming all of existence in the process," said Mama.

"…Touche," Suicune admitted grudgingly.

"We were kind of idiots, weren't we?" Raikou admitted.

"That's a bit of an understatement," Oneechan said. "But now that you realize you made a mistake, you can try to do better next time."

"A good start would be not killing people for peeing in rivers," Mama said.

"But it's disgusting!" Suicune protested.

"And also an overreaction," Mama said. "Just because you're a deity doesn't mean you can go around doing things like that willy-nilly."

"Especially since you're a minor deity," Papa pointed out. The three beasts grumbled, not liking to be reminded of that uncomfortable fact.

"My husband!"

"Father!"

Lugia gasped, his heart stopping as his greatest desire appeared before him. "M-my love? My son?! MY FAMILY! YOU ARE HERE!"

The reunited Lugia family enveloped each other in a big white-feathered group hug, crying joyfully. "At last…we are together again," the female Lugia said.

"You have…you have no idea how long I have waited for this," Lugia whispered as he caressed his mate's neck, the last fragmented parts of his broken psyche snapping back into place. His family had returned. He was whole once more.

"Father…never leave us again…" Silver begged his father.

"Don't worry," Lugia said. "I promise we will be together forever from this day forward. Not even Ho-Oh can tear us apart!" He paused. "And…I'm sorry for killing both of you."

"We're sorry for eating you alive," the female Lugia said.

"If it's any consolation, you didn't taste that good," Silver said.

Lugia blinked. "…I am uncertain whether to be gratified or disturbed by that statement."

"Oh great, it's you," Ho-Oh growled as the female of his kind slunk over. "The Mother saw fit to revive you too, huh? After what you tried to pull? What do you have to say for yourself, bitch?"

"I'm…I'm sorry," the female whispered.

Ho-Oh blinked. "Wait, what? Say that again, I must have misheard you. I thought you were apologizing for something. We both know you never apologize for anything."

The female flinched. "I…I said…I'm sorry. For everything."

"Everything? That's a bit vague. Try being a little more specific, please?" the male said, getting angry and intrigued in the same breath.

"I'm sorry for everything I did to you and everyone else," the female said quietly. "For most of my life, I've been a vengeful, vindictive, petty excuse for a legendary bird. I banished you from my side because you were able to successfully reproduce with another womon, while I remained barren. I blamed the Psychics for my lack of fertility and did my best to drive them out of Johto. I cruelly separated Lugia from his family and forced him to guard the elemental birds in the Orange Islands lest I kill his mate and child. My paranoia has caused me to ignore and abuse my followers and mistreat my servants. I've regarded Mewtwo and his creations with nothing less than fear and disgust due to their origins. And on top of all that, I betrayed the Chosen and sided with Deoxys because he promised he could give me what I always wanted…and then he had Dark Latios kill me. I deserved it. I deserved every bit of it for all the hurt I've caused throughout my long life."

The fact that she was admitting these faults shocked the male phoenix. "You…are admitting you are wrong? That is something I never thought I would hear you say."

"Nor did I," the female said. "For the longest time I've been blinded by fear, pride, envy…and then I died, and I saw how little all of it really meant, and the full enormity of everything I've done to those that I should have called friends...and to you, who were once my husband. I do not ask for your forgiveness, for I know I do not deserve it. I just…I just want to say I'm sorry for everything I did, and that I'll try to be a better Pokemon from this day forward."

The male's stomach clenched as these thoughts reverberated inside his head. "I…even knowing this, that you are truly repentant…I can still hardly bear to look at you without feeling a strong desire to tear out your gizzard. But…I know now that you are not the only one of us who has been a fool and badly needs to change. Begone. I pray that when next we meet, the both of us will be better than we were before." She nodded and cautiously departed. After a moment, the male Ho-Oh realized someone else that knotted his insides had appeared beside him. "Y-you?! What are you doing here?!"

"I was the Leviathan," the elder Eon that was Latias and Latios's mother said sadly. "Or have you forgotten?"

"That's right," Ho-Oh recalled. "Dexoys turned you into that…monstrosity."

"'Monstrosity' is barely scratching the surface of what I was," the elder Latias said bitterly. "And I was a monster long before Deoxys found me, too…thanks to you. Did you know that I sought out the power of Missingno after you threw me out, the evil demon my ancestor sealed away millennia ago? That I wanted revenge against you and everyone else in the world, and was sealed away by my brother beneath Alto Mare at the cost of his life, causing me to miss the birth and maturation of our children?"

He flinched, a dagger of guilt stabbing at his heart. "I know. Latias told me."

"She's the one who stopped me…" the elder Latias murmured. "Which was probably for the best. She…she's got a good head on her shoulders. She seems to have grown into a fine young womon, hasn't she?"

"And her brother seems to be an upstanding mon himself," Ho-Oh said. "Other than his briefly becoming an evil monster, of course."

"And ripping out of my stomach when he was born a second time," the Latias said.

"That too," said Ho-Oh.

"And when he raped-" the Latias continued.

"I think that's enough of that," Ho-Oh said quickly. "Let's just say he's not that person anymore and leave it at that. In any event, they both seem to have done very well without us. One has to wonder if maybe the humans who raised them in our place made better parents than we ever could have been."

"Maybe," the Latias acknowledged. She glared at Ho-Oh. "But we'll never know for sure, now will we?"

"…No. We won't," Ho-Oh agreed.

They sat there for a moment in silence. "Why did you do it?" the elder Latias asked finally. "Why did you…why did you throw me out? I thought things were going so well between us. Was it really because I couldn't lay Ho-Oh eggs?"

"…No," Ho-Oh said after a moment. "That had nothing to do with it. It was just an excuse I used to cover up the real reason."

The Latias blinked in surprise. "The real…" She grew angry again. "What, are you saying you thought I was cheating on you or-"

"No!" Ho-Oh insisted. "I knew you were faithful!"

"Then why? WHY?!" the Latias demanded.

"Because…because you were turning into them, okay?!" he snapped.

She blinked. "Into…"

"My first wife! My mother! The two womon I hate most in this world! You…your behavior, your mannerisms…after we got married, you began to act just like them, obsessed with power and the trappings of your position rather than caring for the responsibilities that came with being my wife," Ho-Oh said. "I couldn't…I couldn't stand to see you like that, because every time I looked at you, you made me think of them, more and more with every passing day. So…so when you didn't lay any Ho-Oh eggs, I used that as a legal pretext to annul our marriage and get you out of my feathers for good." He paused. "It was the worst decision I ever made. Well, second worst, if you count marrying Lady Ho-Oh."

"Then…that's why?" the Latias asked. Ho-Oh nodded. Stunned into silence, the dragon reflected back on the last days of their marriage…and realized with an ugly feeling in her gut that her ex-husband might have had a point. "Maybe…I did let it go to my head…but…" She turned back to Ho-Oh, confusion and anger burning in her eyes. "Why…why didn't you tell me?! If I had known sooner, we could have-"

"Don't you think I tried?!" Ho-Oh snapped. "But you wouldn't listen! You never listened! So…So I thought I had no choice but to…" He squeezed his eyes shut and looked away. "But I should have tried harder instead of giving up. I took the easy way out…and ruined both our chances for happiness. For that, I am eternally sorry."

"…I'm sorry too. I should have listened to you," she said sadly. "And maybe if I hadn't overreacted and sought Missingno's power for revenge, we could have…we could have worked it out." She laughed bitterly. "Then again, maybe not. You're right, Latias and Latios probably are better off because we didn't raise them. Both of us are so wrapped up in our own problems we've never been able to acknowledge others until it's too late. We would have been terrible parents."

"Yeah," Ho-Oh said. He paused, a thought occurring to him. He glanced at the Latias. "But maybe it doesn't have to stay that way."

She blinked at him. "What do you mean?"

"Look around you. The Mother is bringing back everyone, even people more screwed-up than us. Everyone is being given a second chance, and an opportunity to see themselves as they really have been for the first time in their lives. Just look at my ex-wife, she actually apologized and admitted she was wrong, something she would have rather died than do before all this happened!" His voice rose in excitement. "Don't you see? If she can change, then why can't we?"

She looked at him in astonishment. "I…hadn't thought of it that way. Do you really think we can change, after all that we've done?"

"Why not? Everyone's getting a second chance! Everyone's trying to start over! Why shouldn't we at least have a shot at being better than we were before? In fact…" He hesitated for a moment, a small spark of hope kindling to life inside of him. "Maybe there's a chance for us, too. To start over. With each other."

She gave him an incredulous look. "You can't be suggesting what I think you are."

"Casting you out was one of the worst decisions I've ever made," Ho-Oh said. "But now…now that we're here together, now that all our sins are laid bare for each other to see…I see a chance at a fresh start. With a clean slate."

"That's preposterous!" she snapped. "After everything that's happened between us, do you really think we can just…reform our relationship and pretend none of it happened?!"

"No," Ho-Oh said. "What I'm saying is…look around us! Nearly everyone here has done something horrible. And yet they are being forgiven and offered a chance at a new and better life. Even my hated ex-wife seems to want to make the most of this new life that she's been given. And if we can't move past our mistakes like everyone else is trying to, how can we honestly say we've changed at all? And hey, if our daughter can get together with the guy that killed her family and wiped out her home town, why can't we give our relationship another go?"

She blinked and looked away. "I…I don't know…"

"For what it's worth, I'm pretty sure we both loved each other once," Ho-Oh pressed. "That has to mean something, right?"

She considered this for what felt like a very long time indeed. Finally, she said, "You realize it probably won't work."

"I know," he said.

"And we'll probably break up before the month is out," she said.

"I know," he said.

"And even with this talk of hope and change and moving on, how likely is it that we can make another relationship between us last?" she said.

"I know," he said.

"And yet…"

"And yet…"

Their heads turned, and they gazed into each other's eyes. Maybe… they thought at the same time. Maybe a happy ending isn't beyond our reach after all.

After a while, somewhat reluctantly, they glanced away from each other. "So, um, should we join our children and the others?" Ho-Oh asked awkwardly.

The Latias sighed. "No. Not now. I'm not sure I'm ready."

"We'll have to do it sooner or later," Ho-Oh said.

She nodded. "I know that, and I will. Just…not now. Until then…" She hesitated, and then floated a little closer to him. "Until then, I wouldn't mind spending some time catching up with you. If we're really going to make this work, then we need to be honest with each other and talk more about ourselves and what we feel. The things we've been up to, and how we dealt with them."

"Okay," said Ho-Oh. "After we split up, nothing particularly exciting happened until I helped Wes defeat the Cipher organization, allowed myself to get captured, started traveling with him, entered this tournament, met my daughter, got caught up in this battle to save the world, and then got killed by my son. Sort of. You?"

"Left my eggs with my brother, made a deal with a devil, got sealed beneath Alto Mare, broke out, got beaten by my daughter and her friends, was banished to some monastery far away from here, started getting over myself, then was tortured and raped by Deoxys, gave birth to Dark Latios, and turned into Leviathan," the Latias said.

"You win," Ho-Oh said.

She blinked. "Win what?"

"I don't know, but you still win," Ho-Oh said. They laughed. Neither of them was sure why, but it felt good. "So, how bad was your death? Dark Latios tore out my spine, psychically tortured me, crushed my brain, resurrected me, ate my testicles, pulled off my wings, shoved me on a spit to roast me alive—or undead—then ate me."

"Well…" the elder Latias told him how she had died.

Ho-Oh grimaced. "You win again."

"Harrison!" Ford said as he found his son.

"Dad!" said the startled Harrison. His Blaziken growled and interposed himself between the trainer and his father. Harrison put a hand on his partner's shoulder and gently pushed past him, much to the chicken's dismay. "Are you…you again?"

Ford nodded solemnly. "The madness is gone, son. Only now do I understand everything I've done…all the lives I've twisted and ruined…how I killed you. All I wanted was to make the world a better place by giving it heroes, not…well, what happened."

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions," Harrison's Blaziken muttered.

"I know that now," Ford said. "I'm sorry, son. Can you forgive an old fool's mistakes?"

"If you're really yourself again, and if you really are sorry…then maybe you can still fulfill your dreams, dad," Harrison said. "The world will always need heroes. You just don't necessarily need to create them using unorthodox experiments and weird crystals."

Ford smiled ruefully. "Good advice. From now on, I'll try to make heroes the old-fashioned way…with training and lots of hard work! No more shortcuts or insanity-inducing superpowers from me, that's for certain!"

Harrison smiled. "That's good to hear, Dad." He hugged his father.

The Blaziken, not as satisfied by this easy forgiveness, sighed. "Here we go again…"

A rose flew through the air and landed at May's feet. "Rose!" Drew, still dressed as Tuxedo Masquerain, called.

"Why did you shout 'rose?'" his Roselia asked.

"It seemed like an appropriate sound effect," he replied.

May gasped. "DREW!" She hugged the green-haired young man. Then she paused and pulled back. "Why are you still wearing that costume?"

"Why are you a sphinx?" he countered.

"Touche," she admitted.

"May, who is this?" Norman asked.

"Mom, Dad, I'd like to introduce you to my boyfriend Drew!" May said.

"Why is he wearing that costume?" asked Caroline.

"Because I'm a superhero," Drew said.

"Oh," Norman said. "I'm guessing the Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny and those kids wearing spandex behind you are superheroes too?"

Soldier Heart sighed. "Isn't anyone fooled by our disguises?"

"How do they keep guessing our true identities?" wondered a mystified Soldier Wisdom.

"Because you aren't wearing masks?" Wes suggested.

"That could be it," Soldier Wisdom admitted reluctantly.

"Our suits aren't spandex, they're a retrofitted nanopolymer blend-" the Green A.S.S. Ranger started to explain, until Blue Ranger cut him off.

"Don't bother explaining, nobody cares," he said. Green Ranger pouted.

"Hey, it's the A.S.!" Crawdaunt joked.

"Wow, we haven't heard that one before," Pink Ranger said sarcastically.

"Yeah," Yellow Ranger said. "Wait, did that Pokemon just talk?"

"And Richie…" Ash growled.

"Um…hey Ash, Misty, everyone," Richie said Mareepishly. "I, uh…kinda screwed up, didn't I?"

"Yes," everyone said deadpan.

"That's an understatement," Misty said.

Richie hung his head. "I'm…I'm really sorry. I never thought it would turn out like this. I just wanted to be a hero. But the power, the money, it…it consumed me. I gave up my dreams and abandoned my Pokemon to become some thrill-seeking glory Houndoom."

"And then you turned into a knife-nut who tried to kill everyone," Latias added.

"That too," Richie said. "But…I know what I did was wrong, and I'm going to try to do everything I can to make up for it. I know I may never win back your trust, but…I want you to know that I'll try as hard as I can to become the Richie I used to be. The Richie you were friends with."

"…Find all the Pokemon you've left behind. If they accept you back as their trainer, come and fight me in a Pokemon battle," Ash said. "If you win…maybe, just maybe, there's a chance we can be friends again."

Richie smiled gratefully. "Thank you, Ash. I promise not to let you down again."

"You'd better not," Misty growled. "Or we'll kill you the next time you go crazy on us. Again, that is."

"Ooh, can I help?" Sadic asked.

"We'll see," Pikachu said hesitantly.

"BIG BROTHER!" Wynaut cried, running to her brother.

"WYNAUT!" Wobbuffet shouted, wrapping his arms around his little sister. "Thank goodness you're all right! I mean, other than being dead a few minutes ago, that is!"

"It's okay, being dead was a lot better than being in Deoxys's captivity," Wynaut said.

Wobbuffet flinched. "I'm…sorry to hear that. How much of that do you remember?"

"More than I care to," Wynaut said quietly. "But none of it matters, now that I'm here with you again."

"Awww," Milotic and Cacturne said.

"Chiiii!" Chimecho chimed.

"Oh! Chimecho, you're back as well!" said the surprised Milotic.

"Chiiiiiiii!" Chimecho chimed, wrapping his tail around her head.

"Yes, I'm happy to see you too," Milotic said.

"And look, there's James's pet Arcanine Growlie bounding towards us at high speeds…and he's not slowing down!" Cacturne wailed.

Without looking, Wobbuffet threw up a shield. Growlie bounced off of it and landed with his legs splayed out on the ground, drooling stupidly. He picked himself back up and charged again, only to bounce off again, so he picked himself up again and charged again…and again…and again…

"He isn't very bright, is he?" Milotic commented.

"He certainly would have fit in well with Team Rocket," Cacturne commented. She frowned. "Hmm…speaking of which, I wonder where they are…"

Not too far away…

"Boss! You're back!" Meowth cried joyfully as he ran towards Giovanni, who was standing with Domino, Persian, the Iron Masked Marauder, Buson, Bashou, Butch, Cassidy, Nascour, Ein, Dr. Namba, Professor Sebastian, Dr. Robotnik, their Pokemon, and several hundred confused Rocket grunts on the outskirts of the group of Chosen.

Giovanni laughed and stroked Persian's head. "Of course I am, Meowth! Did you really think a little thing like death would keep me down? I've already died twice, a third time isn't going to make any difference!"

"That's why you're the Boss," Domino said admiringly.

"I thought I was the Boss," Nascour complained sourly.

"Not anymore you're not," Giovanni said. "I've taken back the title, and I'm keeping it!"

"Not until I kill you and get it back…" Nascour muttered.

"I heard that," Giovanni said.

"I know," said Nascour.

"Now that we're all back from the dead, what're we gonna do?" the Iron Masked Marauder asked.

"We could try taking over the world again," Butch suggested.

"Considering our last attempt got us killed horribly and turned into monsters, and the world is now protected by some of its strongest defenders ever, that idea doesn't particularly appeal to me," Cassidy complained. "We'll probably just get creamed and put back in prison again."

"Then what else is there for us to do?" Annie whined.

"I don't know about the rest of you, but being killed, coming back from the dead, killed again, broken, turned into a horrible monster, getting fused with some other guy to become an even worse monster, and killed again has put me off evil for a while," Giovanni said. "Given the current state of affairs, it might be in our best interests to attempt being good guys for a change, or at least until things settle down again and we have a chance to build up more power. I'm thinking of reforming our organization as a humanitarian and Pokemonitarian group dedicated to helping the world…while subtly gaining control over it from the shadows. What say you all? You could get in on the ground floor and become the founding elite of the new Team Rocket. Well, except for Nascour and Ein, that is."

"What did we do?!" they cried.

"Killed me and turned Team Rocket into Team Cipher, and forced all my agents to wear that ridiculous getup," Giovanni said. "Though I have to admit, the outfit you made Domino wear was a nice touch." She glared at him. "What? I'm a man too, you know."

"Sounds like a good idea to me," Oakley said.

"Could be fun," Bashou grunted.

"It's not like we have anything better to do," Butch croaked.

"So long as we can keep performing morally ambiguous science," Namba said. Sebastian nodded in agreement.

"I'm with you all da way, Boss!" Meowth said loyally.

"Hey, can we get in on this action too?" Miror B asked as he, Dakim, Venus, Fein, and the rest of Neo Team Snagem came over.

"Gonzap abandoned us, and we don't have a Snag Machine or much else of a plan of action, so we don't really know what else to do," Dakim lamented.

Giovanni shrugged. "Sure. The more the merrier."

"Why do they get in but not us?!" Ein complained.

"Killed me, made Team Rocket Team Cipher, etc?" Giovanni reminded him.

The mad scientist sulked. "Oh. Right."

"Well, go ahead and make your shiny new Team Rocket! We'll go form our own team! So there!" Nascour said childishly. "And it'll be a MILLION times better than yours! Come on Ein, let's go!"

"Right!" Ein said. They stormed off.

Giovanni shook his head pityingly. "Fools. How do they think they can control a criminal syndicate with hair like that? It's too distracting! Whoever would take them seriously? Why do you think I always keep my hair short, geled, and elegantly coifed so I look evilly stylish wherever I go?"

"It certainly has my everlasting adoration!" Meowth said, eyes turning into hearts.

"…" Giovanni gave Meowth a weird look, then stepped behind Persian so the Classy Cat was between him and the smaller feline. Persian growled and hid behind Giovanni, not wanting to be anywhere near Meowth either. Giovanni grunted and reminded himself to reassign Meowth and the rest of his team (Assuming they had been resurrected. Where were they, anyway?) to Antarctica for the foreseeable future.

"Brother!" Regirock and Regice called as they lumbered over to Registeel.

"Siblings! You have been resurrected as well! This is wonderful!" Registeel said happily.

"We were not certain we would be, given how we betrayed our duty and the Mother's trust in us," Regirock lamented.

"But as always, she is generous and forgiving, and has given us another chance to serve as her high priests," Regice said.

Registeel nodded. "I am glad to hear it. I would not have relished doing the job all by myself, even with young Rukario to help me out."

"Registeel, I'm not that young," Rukario joked.

"Compared to me, you are," Registeel said. "So, no hard feelings for my killing you?"

"It had to be done," Regirock said. "We needed to be stopped before our powers could be used to serve Deoxys's wishes. You did the right thing."

"It was a bit of a relief, actually," Regice confessed. "It wasn't pleasant having to share a brain with this blockhead."

"Better a blockhead than a cold heart, Ms. Ice Queen," Regirock retorted.

"Ha! Like your heart is any softer, stone-face!" Regice taunted.

"Frigid bitch," Regirock growled.

"Obstinate buffon," Regice grunted.

Registeel laughed and hugged both of them. "I missed you both so much. It's good to see you again." They chuckled and hugged him back. Rukario smiled ruefully and shook his head, amused and mystified as always by the strange ways in which families worked.

As the quantum wave engulfed the world, restoring all of Deoxys's victims to their original selves, the Mother sighed and sagged slightly, her energy drained, and the Unown stopped their spinning. The Mother's great gray sword shimmered and dissolved into the myriad souls that had been used to create it, the spirits drifting off to the next world, save for two. One of them landed on the Mother's shoulder and transformed back into Absol, who noticed her weariness and licked her cheek. She smiled and gently stroked his head.

The other soul floated down to Umbreon, who was standing apart from the others, looking on jealously as they celebrated the return of their loved ones. "Why so depressed, lover?" the soul asked, reforming into a very familiar Misdreavus.

Umbreon gasped and grabbed the ghost. "Misdreavus! You're ali…um…undead again!"

Misdreavus laughed. "I certainly am, and glad to be back in ectoplasm!"

Umbreon laughed as well, tears running down her cheeks. "I'm…I'm so happy to see you…I thought I'd have to wait until I died to be with you again!"

"Now that we aren't needed anymore, all of the spirits who helped the Mother defeat Deoxys were ready to move on to our true afterlives--even old General Shedinja and his girlfriend--except for two of us," Misdreavus said. "Absol remained because his loyalty to the Mother is too strong for even death to sever, and me because…well, because your love anchored me here. It gave me a reason to stay behind. With you."

Umbreon closed her eyes and leaned forward, pressing her forehead against her spectral beloved's head. "I don't think I've ever loved you more than I do now."

"Yeah," said Misdreavus. "Same here. We're gonna have to do something about that human body, though, because it's butt-ugly!"

Umbreon grimaced. "I know, right? It feels so weird walking on two legs, I can barely smell, hear, or see a thing, I'm always cold, and this…thing I'm wearing isn't really that comfortable. Maybe the Mother can change me back."

"She'd better," Misdreavus said. "Otherwise I'd be tempted to kill you."

Umbreon frowned. "What? Why?"

"Your ghost would probably be much more attractive than your current form," Misdreavus said.

Umbreon considered this. "You know, you're probably right…"

The Mother smiled and caught her breath as she stared out at all the Chosen and their friends and families and former enemies spread before her, their forms practically glowing with joy and love. "We have done well," she said to the Unown.

Indeed, the Unown agreed. However, there is still one task left to accomplish.

The Mother frowned. "And what is that?"

This has every element it needs to become a 'happily ever after' kind of ending…save for one thing, the Unown said.

"Ah, of course," the Mother said, eyes widening in realization. "The most important thing of all…" She looked out at the Chosen and their allies and ex-foes, appraising their hearts until she found one group of lovers who were perfect for what needed to be done. "It can't be a happy ending without a wedding!"

Some time later, at the foot of the Great Tree on Birth Island…

"Dearly beloved," the Mother intoned graciously. "Dearest friends and allies and family, all gathered here beneath the shade of the Great Tree…we are here today for a sacred occasion. One age has ended and another is beginning, one stranger and more wondrous than any we have experienced before. And what better way for us to usher in this new era than by forming a union of love, symbolically binding past with the future to create a glorious present? I can think of few who love each other more than the brave, compassionate beings who stand before you, and it is with great pride and joy that I formalize their bonds of love, signaling the start of our new age of peace and prosperity."

She peered down at the people standing eagerly at her feet. "Do you take this upstanding male to be your husband?" she asked the females. They nodded. "And do you take these lovely young ladies to be your wives?" she asked the male. He nodded. The Mother lifted her head and gazed out at the hundreds of guests attending the wedding. "Are there any who object to this union?" That was a trick question, nobody answer or they'll be sorry, she telepathically informed the legendary Pokemon, Chosen, ordinary heroes, world leaders, scientists, government officials, natives of Sevii and Birth Island, and other noteworthy individuals attending this historic occasion. Wisely, they all kept their silence. Pleased, the Mother looked back down at her petitioners. "Since there are no dissidents, I now pronounce you all mates. You may kiss each other, but please save anything more intimate for later, there are children present."

The crowd burst into applause as Wobbuffet, wearing a tux and bowtie, kissed first Milotic, then Cacturne, whom were wearing veils and flower garlands and standing on either side of him. Regice, Regirock, and Registeel placed necklaces of stone, ice, and metal over their heads to mark them as a wedded trio. "This is the happiest day of my life," Milotic said joyfully.

"Mine too," Cacturne said. "I never thought I'd get married to him too, I thought his heart was all yours!"

"It belongs to both of you," Wobbuffet said. "You can share it as much as you like."

"Hooray, big brother!" Wynaut cheered.

"All my previous doubts and misgivings about this union have completely disappeared, and I happily endorse my grandson's marriage," Wobbuffet and Wynaut's grandfather said in a daze. "I hope he will be very happy."

"Will you stop doing that?" Gardevoir chided Mewtwo, who was controlling the elder Wynaut's mind.

"No. It's fun. You should try it some time," he said. She rolled her eyes.

Kasurin was bawling like a baby. "I'm so happy! I always cry at weddings!"

Astonishingly, he wasn't the only one. "Me too! Waaaaahhh!" Crawdaunt sobbed.

"For some reason, I was expecting us to be the ones up on that altar," Rayquaza commented to Latias from their seats in the front row with the rest of the Chosen.

"We barely know each other silly, I want to spend some more time learning about the real you before I commit to something like that," Latias teased.

"But we've been soulmates for billions of years!" Rayquaza protested. "You should know everything about me by now!"

"Not in this current incarnation I don't. And besides, I don't think my brother would like it if we got hitched right away," she whispered to him. "He might flip his lid."

"Ah, good point," Rayquaza acknowledged.

"Ash, when are we going to get married?" Misty asked.

Ash started. "Wh-what?! Um, aren't we a little young for that?!"

"We've already had sex and know we're going to spend the rest of our lives together, I think we're ready for marriage," Misty said.

Delia gasped. "You what?!"

"Oh my," said Professor Oak, who had been invited too.

"Already?!" cried Mimey, who was there as well.

"Way to go, Ash!" crowed Gary, in his first and only appearance in the entire story.

"Dammit! Why is it always him?! Why?! WHYYYYYY?!" Brock howled.

"When were you going to tell me this?!" Delia asked.

"Um…never?" Ash said. "Because I knew you'd react this way…oh boy…"

"I'm a little disturbed you did it so early…but nevertheless, I'm happy you got that out of the way! Now I can have grandkids at least a decade early!" Delia said excitedly. Ash and Misty sweatdropped.

"You know, Rayquaza and Misty bring up a good point," Rui said. "Wes, when are we getting married?"

"Um," said Wes, turning white with horror.

"And what about us?" Draganium asked Sceptile.

"Or us?" Marshtomp asked Lombre.

"Or us?" Zaptres asked Articuno.

"Or us?" Brock asked a puzzled Venus.

"Or us?" Sadic asked Pikachu.

"Or us?" the revived Crysta asked Rukario.

"Or us?" Corsola and Crawdaunt's many, many girlfriends asked him.

"Or us?" Gardevoir asked Mewtwo.

"Or us?" Zaptres asked a disturbed Articuno.

"Or us?" Delcatty asked Golduck.

"Or us?" Delia asked her fiancé. (Was it Oak? Zoro? Mimey? Someone else entirely? You decide!)

"Or us?" May asked Drew.

"Ew," said a disgusted (and sane) Max.

"May!" Caroline scolded.

"What? I'm not human, the law doesn't apply to me anymore!" May claimed.

"Unfortunately…" Drew muttered.

"What was that?" May said.

"Nothing, dear," said Drew.

"Or us?" Soldier Heart asked Soldier Wisdom.

"Or us?" Pink Ranger asked Richie.

"Or us?" Yellow Ranger asked Blue Ranger.

"Or us?" June (who was there with the rest of the Squirtle Squad) asked Leo.

"Or us?" Charizard asked Charla.

"We're already married," she pointed out.

"Oh, right," he recalled.

"Or us?" Rosa asked El Gato.

"Or us?" Kyogre asked Groudon.

"Or us?" the elder Latias asked Ho-Oh.

"I thought we agreed to take things slow," he hissed.

"Oh, right, sorry, got caught up in the moment," she apologized.

"Or us?" Domino asked Giovanni.

"Or us?" Misdreavus asked Umbreon.

"Or us?" Butch asked Cassidy.

"Or us?" Raikou asked…Entei?

"Huh?" said the confused Entei.

"Sorry, I was talking to Mama," Raikou said.

"I'm married!" Mama protested.

"Why here and not me?!" Suicune demanded.

"What, you? You're a frigid bitch, what guy would want you?" Raikou asked. The enraged Suicune hit him with an Aurora Beam, proving his point.

"Or us?" Annie asked Oakley.

"Or us?" Buson asked Bashou.

"Or us?" Zaptres asked a very confused Articuno.

"Didn't you just ask me twice?" Articuno pointed out.

Zaptres shrugged. "I know, but third time's the charm." Articuno sweatdropped.

"Or us?" Wally asked Brendan.

"Or us?" Meowth asked…nobody. "Hey, wait, where is Jimmy anyway?"

"Or us?" just about every unmarried women in the audience asked their boyfriend or girlfriend. A few men asked it, too.

"Um," most of the significant others said, while those who weren't and just got queried out of the blue gave the askers confused looks.

Fortunately, the men (and women) were spared having to answer the awkward question when Milotic threw the bouquet, causing them to squeal and riot as they scrambled over each other to try and catch the flowers. The men (and women) sighed in relief.

A little later, after the enormous wedding cake had been rolled out and everyone had started dancing or getting portraits done by Wallace, who had managed to find his way to Birth Island all by himself and so managed to avoid the worst of the fighting, Groudon and Kyogre approached Latias and Rayquaza, who had not quite worked up the courage to go out onto the dance floor together yet. "Um, hey, can I talk to you two for a minute?" the big blue whale asked the dragons.

"Sure, what is it?" Latias asked. Rayquaza frowned, getting a bad feeling.

"Well, Groudon and I-" Kyogre started.

"No, just you," Groudon said.

Kyogre growled at him. "Okay, I have something I kind of need to confess. But before I tell you, you have to promise not to kill me, okay?"

Rayquaza and Latias frowned uncertainly. "How angry is this news going to make us?" Rayquaza asked.

"Um…pretty cheesed, actually," Kyogre said anxiously.

"I don't know-" Latias started.

"All right," Rayquaza said. Latias looked at him in surprise, but he winked at her.

"Okay," Kyogre said reluctantly. She took a deep breath, glanced at Groudon, who glared at her, then finally said, "You remember how when Rayquaza was the Ghost King, Groudon and I kind of existed as parts of his subconscious, causing his mind to be a little disjointed and at times not entirely sane?"

"That wasn't very pleasant," Rayquaza grunted.

"Yeah, why?" Latias asked.

"Well, the thing is…Groudon and I were semi-aware while we were inside Rayquaza's head, and had some slight influence over his thought processes," Kyogre continued. "And when Rayquaza started getting fixated on you, Groudon started shoving in my face that you lived on an island city, which he saw as a triumph of land over water. And that got me annoyed, so to get back at him, I may have…um…subtly convinced Rayquaza to destroy Alto Mare to shut Groudon up."

There was a very long ominous silence. "What," Rayquaza said flatly. Latias's eye started twitching.

"Heheheh…yeah. It was me all along. But, um, no harm no foul, right? I mean, we're all over it and stuff, right guys?" Kyogre said nervously.

Latias snapped. "I KILL YOU!" she shrieked, lunging at Kyogre. The whale screamed as Rayquaza wrapped his tail around Latias's rear, grabbing her only inches away from Kyogre's face. That didn't stop the red and white dragon from howling and slavering madly as she tried to claw out the Sea Basin Pokemon's eyes.

"Waaahhh! No, don't! You can't! You promised, remember? And you can never ever break a promise, right? Right?!" Kyogre wailed desperately.

"I'm afraid that's me you're thinking of," Rayquaza said coolly. "My promises are binding. Latias's? Not so much."

"Oh crap," Kyogre whispered.

"LET ME AT HER! LET ME AT HER!" Latias roared.

"Now, now, dear, while you don't have to keep your promises, it would reflect rather badly on your image as a future queen if you did, now wouldn't it? So please calm yourself down," Rayquaza said level-headedly.

"But…but…I can't let her get away with this! It's because of her that everything…everyone…the only home I ever knew was destroyed!" Latias snarled.

"You're right, Latias. We aren't letting her get away with it," Rayquaza said calmly.

Kyogre started. "But-but you said-"

"I said we wouldn't kill you. Latios made no such promise." As Kyogre turned chalk-white in horror, Rayquaza glanced at Latios as he drifted past, chowing down on some cake. "Oh, Latios?"

Latios glanced up, frosting coating his face. "Yeah, what is it, future brother-in-law of mine?" he asked, licking away his crumb mustache.

"Kyogre here just confessed to being behind the destruction of your home city of Alto Mare," Rayquaza said serenely.

"W-wait, it's not like that-" Kyogre protested.

Latios blinked. "I thought that was you."

"Nope. Her idea completely," Rayquaza said with a smug smile.

"Ah. Okay then." Latios swallowed the last of his cake, threw away his plate, bellowed, "I KILL YOU!" and lunged at Kyogre.

"AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!! MY EYE! MY EYE!" Kyogre screamed.

"GIVE ME YOUR FACE!" Latios roared as he savagely maimed Kyogre.

"THE PAIN! OH SWEET MOTHER, THE PAAAAIIIIN!" Kyogre moaned.

"DIE! DIE! DIE!" Latios shouted.

"Ha-ha!" Groudon laughed, pointing at Kyogre.

"There. That's much better now, isn't it dearest?" Rayquaza said to Latias.

She nodded, her anger abated. "Oh yes, very much so. I feel better now."

Above it all, the Mother smiled and gazed at everyone dancing and eating and having fun. "Ah, isn't it wonderful, Absol? It seems that all is right with the world."

"Er, yes, I suppose so," Absol said from his place on her shoulder as he and an increasingly large crowd watched Latios maul Kyogre.

The Mother frowned, a puzzled look forming on her face. "And yet…I can't help thinking that somehow I'm forgetting something…"

Meanwhile…

"Hello?" the pathetic and broken figure of James asked timidly, pressing his scarred bloodstained face to the window. "Is anybody out there?"

He glanced over his shoulder at the three Jessies. Their horrific bladed red-headed figures were still as motionless as they had been a few minutes ago, but being tortured endlessly by Deoxys had taught him that just because something looked dead didn't mean it was. And even if it was dead, that didn't mean it was harmless.

Satisfied for the moment that his torturers were, indeed, still dead, he turned back to the window, peering out at the depths of space and the blue planet spread out below his satellite prison, looking more beautiful and pristine than he would have expected, considering it was supposed to be ravaged by all-out war. "Can anyone hear me?" he queried in a weak, tremulous voice, not really expecting to be answered. "Meowth? Boss? Borsch? Twerp? Other twerps? Pikachu? Latias? Deoxys?...Ri2?"

There was no answer. Which shouldn't really be a surprise, given that sound didn't travel in space, but James was too thick and crazy from what felt like millions of years of torture to know that. He shivered. "I'm so cold…"

He hoped someone remembered he was up there and rescued him soon. He was getting hungry, and he didn't really relish eating any of the Jessies. With his luck, their flesh would be as poisonous as their hearts…

THE END?

(Yes, really the end. Until Brave New World, anyway.)

And that is that! Wow, I didn't expect that to be so long. It felt good to get all of that out, didn't it?

So, are you guys satisfied with this resolution? I certainly am. I think I resolved all the lingering plot threads, and if I didn't I'm sure one of you will notice what I missed and bring it to my attention. And if there's any discrepancies between this story and the tale told at the beginning of Brave New World…well, keep it in mind that it was probably told millions and millions of years in the future, so a few details might have gotten messed up along the way. Or there was a time warp. Those always cause problems.

Next on the agenda: the next chapter of Brave New World, kicking off the next story arc, with plenty of thrills and adventure. Hopefully I'll be able to get it done soon, considering that finals are coming up…stupid graduate school.

In any event, that's it for this story, for real this time. So go read the sequel, if you haven't already! It'll be worth your while.