Red Tide

Chapter Thirty:

The three of us made a frantic dash toward the entrance of the Cave of Origins as yet more roars made their way to our ears. The cave shook with the power behind the sound and dust fell upon our heads. As we neared the mouth of the cave a dark rain greeted us in place of the sunny day we'd left behind.

"Mi dios," Juan breathed in awe as we stepped hesitantly into the rain. Above us the rain clouds had gathered, thick and stormy. Lightning flashed as mightily as the powerful thunder that shook the ground beneath our feet. Just above the usually placid lake of Sootopolis, two figures – monsters, my mind supplied as I looked upon their massive forms – fought. Each bash of their bodies as they collided in battle rang out as loudly as the thunder from above. "I have never seen such a sight."

Beside me, Stephen took a retreating step in a terrified sort of awe. His back bumped the wall and I could see that he was using it as a support for his weak knees. I didn't blame him any. My own legs were shaking from the sight. I had been in many Pokémon battles – most friendly and some with more bloodshed than a victory really required. But this… this was chaos, fighting for the sake of violence. As I watched the colossal bodies of Kyogre and Groudon battle, I too was mesmerized in a terrible sort of way. It was like trying to look away from an accident but being unable to tear your eyes from the sight. Curiosity and a twinge of horror kept me rooted to the spot.

The way they fought was almost beautiful. It was easy to tell that neither was holding back any of their strength as they landed one after another vicious assault against their enemy. Loud screeches echoed off the city walls as one or the other was hurt by a particularly painful attack, the sound cutting into me like knives.

"They have to stop," I shook my head as I watched on in despair. No one should have to fight like that, so fully ready to kill or be killed.

"They won't stop, not until one of them is dead," Stephen's voice shook, his normally cool demeanor cracking.

Suddenly, a powerful burst of wind whipped past us, knocking me off my feet. I landed on my hands and knees and looked up as quickly as I could, wind still whipping about me. The beast that had caused such an impossible wind swam through the air and dodged through the lightning as if Arceus itself was after it. Its long, serpent like body coiled around itself before stretching out in a horrifying display of just how large it really was.

"Rayquaza." As soon as the name left my lips I knew it to be true; this was the last of the legendary trio, the one that was supposed to end the fighting. But as I watched, and as I waited, the sky high Pokémon did nothing of the sort. Instead, it zipped about Sootopolis, its speed forming cyclones in the rain. My eyes widened. "It shouldn't be doing that," I said, so very confused. "It's the one that's supposed to stop them, isn't it? It's supposed to be the peacemaker of the three!" By that point I'd struggled to my feet and turned to face my two companions. Both wore grim, sorrowful faces. "Isn't it?" I asked as I turned my eyes back to the destruction that raged.

"Yes," Stephen replied. "It – it's supposed to keep them from fighting, keep the world in order." His eyes flitted between the three legendaries, looking just as confused as I was. The air Pokémon had started to lash its tail out in powerful strikes, bringing down buildings and chunks of wall as it raced around Sootopolis' perimeter. "Earth, sky, water – three elemental, ancient Pokémon meant to keep each other in balance. But something's wrong," he shook his head in frustration. "It shouldn't be like this!"

As I gazed upon Rayquaza in some desperate, foolish attempt to understand, I saw something glow amidst the mass of green and yellow scales. It was a fierce sapphire color, sharp and poisonous looking amongst the carnage around it. As I squinted my eyes, I realized what it was. The sacred blue orb.

"That's why…" I said to myself. If the red one had made Archie go mad with power, I could only guess as to what the blue would do in the grip of a legendary. As I came to that conclusion, I knew what I had to do. Turning swiftly on my heel, I grabbed the bag I'd left at the mouth of the cave and slung it over my shoulder before jumping down the steps two at a time.

"Where are you going?" Stephen shouted over the tumultuous sounds of the battle. I turned back to him for a moment, just long enough to respond.

"Ending something that I should have long ago," I replied, eyes fierce as they gazed into Stephen's before turning back and racing down the steps.

My feet led me to the flat plane of brick just at the water's edge behind the Gym. Looking up, I made sure to be as close to Rayquaza as possible before pulling out Jesus' ball and calling her out to me.

"Gardev!" she exclaimed as soon as she took in our surroundings. It was a milder response to the one I thought she'd give; as an empathic Pokémon, she felt all the raging emotions the boiled around us and I was proud of her for having a mastery over them in such a chaotic time. She looked at me with wide ruby colored eyes. "Master?"

I gave her a tight smile. "I need your help, J. You see that Pokémon," I pointed at Rayquaza. "We need to get what he's holding in his claws." I saw her eyes narrow as she focused in on the blue orb. Turning back to me, she nodded. "Ready?"

"Always."

"Shockwave!" The attack was a powerful one, thanks to the rest she had gotten at the Pokémon Center. It ripped its way across the water before vaulting into the air and straight at an unknowing Rayquaza. As the attack neared, J rose her hands to her head in a meditative manner as she watched on. The sky guardian noticed the shockwave just before the attack struck and dodged out of the way lithely. Its beady black and yellow eyes trained in on Jesus and me and began to charge. As it came closer, I positioned myself in the safest place possible, right behind my psychic.

"Wait for it," I told J softly and she nodded, eyes trained on the Pokémon closing in on us and arms still raised. "Now!"

"Gardevoir!" she shouted as she thrust her palms out to face Rayquaza. A jagged current zipped through the air and landed on Rayquaza just as it neared.

"Quaaaa!" it screeched as the Future Sight took effect, scrambling its mind and hurting it. It thrashed about in a fit of pain and dropped the blue orb it had so desperately clutched in its claws. Before the sky guardian could recover, I hastily snatched the red orb I'd taken from Archie and tossed it as far into the water as I could. The two orbs splashed roughly in the turbulent depths, the lake's current already spinning them around in a frenzied dance.

For a moment, I thought it hadn't worked and that we were doomed – that nothing I could do now would stop the legendaries from their vicious warfare. But, before my very eyes, the two orbs started to glow. Gone was the sickly, poisonous light that they had held before. In its place was a luminescent cascade of color rising up from the depths of the lake. I had to tear my eyes away from the sight, but as soon as I did, I was certain that the plan had worked.

Rayquaza was no longer writhing in pain from J's attack, but rather had drifted back into the sky, a gentle breeze in its wake. And, across the lake from us, Kyogre and Groudon had dealt their final blows. There was a moment of peace before everything was set in motion once more. Kyogre delved back into the calming waves of the lake with a titanic splash and Groudon scaled the outer wall to leave, leaving a last roar in its wake. The rain stopped and as I looked up the nightmarish clouds were blowing away in a light wind.

Looking around, I realized that it was over. There were no legendaries lurking about, no Aqua or Magma thugs waiting to start a riot, and no rabies infested Pokémon ready to shed blood. Everything I had been through in the last two months I had been in the Pokémon world had come to this.

Peace.

It was a wonderful feeling.


The calmness I had felt standing with Jesus by the lake didn't last very long. As soon as everyone was sure the chaos was over they all came rushing from their homes, intent on seeing what destruction was done to their city. Instead of inspecting the leftovers of the legendary battle, I made my way over to the Pokémon center. The day had not been a long one, but it had certainly been hard fought and for that I was exhausted. After I walked over to the trainer couches in the corner of the room, I slumped onto one of the comfortable things and lay my head back. Glancing about, I was almost surprised to see a familiar face.

"You find Rayquaza?" Tiran asked, voice light and face tired. He was laid out on the opposite couch to mine, his Xatu pressed against his side. I grimaced.

"More like Rayquaza found me," I said, head lolling backwards and my eyes closing. "Haven't seen you in a few days, bro. Thought you were going to beat me here?" My lips twisted in a wry grin.

His hand drifted down to the Pokébelt at his waist, eyes moistening with what seemed to be tears of joy. "I ran into a little trouble," he said smiling, "but it turned out to be good." His brows came together as a thought came to mind. "After we beat the legendaries and get the badge it's on to Victory Road."

I nodded. "Well, we have one down, now it's really just the battle with Juan we have to worry about here in Sootopolis," I told him. As my sore body gave another twinge – unhappy with the treatment I'd given it the last several days – I decided that wasn't something that had to be dealt with immediately. "That can wait for tomorrow," I sighed, slouching back further on the couch. "All I want to do right now is sleep."

He yawned in what I could only assume was agreement before closing his eyes. "It's good to see you again, big sis." As his voice trailed off I realized he was asleep.

Smiling softly at him, I said, "You too, little brother," before fading away myself.


Gasping for breath, I tumbled off the Center couch with a resounding thunk. I rested my head on the cool tile beneath me as I calmed my breathing. As my eyes slipped closed of their own accord, I was suddenly treated to absolute darkness.

Black and yellow eyes glared fiercely as the monster came toward us. I could feel the screeches of it reverberating off my skull, the pain of it forcing me to stumble backward. Much more ferocious than it had been in battle, Rayquaza opened its mouth in a deafening roar and in it I heard a terrible voice shriek out:

You'll never stop it!

You'll never be enough!

It will never end!

And it was then that I realized the voice belonged to me.

My eyes snapped open again as the nightmare refused to leave my head, the images burnt into my retinas. "Just a bad dream," I whispered to myself as I thunked my head down onto the cool tile. I sighed before heaving myself up until I finally stood on two feet. Glancing beside me, I saw a note on the table between the couches and it was written in Tiran's hasty scrawl. Picking it up, I read.

Hey big sis. I couldn't sleep anymore so I've gone to take down the gym without you.

Tiran

I shook my head at his eagerness. It was a pleasant change of pace to the rest of the world.

"Lucy!" As I heard my name being called, I snapped my head in the direction it had come from. There, leaning against the glass balcony of the Center's second floor, was Tiran, happy smile on his face. Next to him was a green haired, green eyed boy smiling and waving slightly. Waving back, I wondered where I knew him from. After a moment, I realized who it was, and smiled. Making my way to the second floor, I greeted them.

"Hey, Wally, long time no see," I said coming to stand by them.

"Not since I was still with my uncle," he agreed. Brushing his vivid hair back with a hand, he said, "I came here to help when I heard something was wrong in Sootopolis but I got here too late. I've gotten much stronger, thanks to your advice, and now I've even got all eight badges."

"Everything did happen very quickly," I nodded. "And congrats on the final badge, I was just about to leave and get mine," I told them. "Any advice?" I chuckled.

"Don't slip and fall," Tiran told me with a smirk. Wally reached over and shoved him playfully, the two obviously sharing an inside joke.

Shaking my head with a grin on my face, I said, "Thanks for the heads up." I looked at them for a moment; their joyful faces were a happy ray of light shining through the shadows of the last several days. "You know," I said, leaning against the glass balcony and looking over the first floor of the Center. "The next time we'll see each other will be on Victory Road." I glanced at them out of the corner of my eye, a playful smile tugging at my lips. "You two had better be prepared. Can't have you ruining my good reputation in front all of Hoenn, now can I?"

Tiran put a hand on Wally's shoulder. "Wally, I think we're being rated here," he said. "However I would like to take this moment to point out that Lucy is the only one of us who hasn't swept the eighth gym, and is therefore the lacking one of this group. It is our good reputations that have been ruined!" The sandy haired boy couldn't keep a straight face, though, and ended up in a laughing fit. As I watched Tiran and Wally snicker, I shook my head, chuckling along.

I threw my hands up in the air. "All right, all right, I give up! But," I said, giving them a pointed look, "before I bow to your superiority, I will go snag that badge myself. Then we'll see whose rep is really on the line." I punctuated the sentence by walking backwards away from them and turned on my heel. "I'll see you on Victory Road," I called back, waving a hand over my head. As I made my way to the doors of the Center, I couldn't keep the smile from my face. "See you soon, little brother," I whispered.

As I exited the doors of the Center, the view that greeted me was much different than the one the day before. The monolithic walls of the city were no longer pristine in their solidarity, their formation crumbling from the intensity of the battle. The buildings, too, had collateral damage. The beautiful thing, though, was how the community reacted.

As I made my way to the pier that connected the mainland to the Gym isle, all around me there were people rebuilding, helping, and sharing with those whose property had been damaged. It warmed me.

That warmth was soon replaced by a stony calm – the same feeling I had gotten before every Gym match since the first. The battle with Stephanie had forced a routine onto my shoulders when this particular time came around and I was grateful for it. With all that had gone on in the previous few days, I needed the tranquility that something as ordinary as a gym match could provide. I found myself at the glass doors of the Gym after only a moment and I had to stop and take a deep breath before continuing on.

This is the last one, I thought, a sudden pang of sadness washing over me. My hand shook as I gripped the door's handle tightly. This would be the last gym match after a long, hard journey; I was standing in the pinnacle moment of my training career and I was frozen with the thought that this would be the last Gym that I'd ever have to face. We've come so far, I thought proudly as images of Vexyl and Jesus popped into my head. The images were of them as they were when we started – small and unevolved, weak in body but fierce in spirit.

My Pokémon. My family.

We could do this.

I wrenched open the gym doors and let the fluorescent light blind me.


"We can wait, you know," Juan told me as he stood in the Leader box of the arena.

"I know," I said after taking a deep breath. "But I feel that I need to get this done. It's… it's the end and I just want to get it over with," I admitted when I finally looked at him.

"Oh, niña, this is not the end," he smiled. "These minutes will merely be the final words of the first chapter of your book. You will have so many more moments both a like and different to this," he said, crow's feet appearing as he grinned. My lips upturned into a smile automatically.

"Yeah," I nodded, "Yeah, you're right. Thank you," I replied softly.

"Of course," he bowed his head. "But, don't think that just because I have a soft spot for brave young ones like you that I will not give you my all." He smirked. "Ready?"

"And waiting," I said back. Letting out a barking laugh, he called forth his first Pokémon, a Luvdisc.

"Luuu-disc!" the heart shaped Pokémon chirruped happily.

"All right, J, come on out," I called forth my psychic type. Jesus emerged from her Pokéball with grace, giving me a backward glance. We're almost there, J, I told her mentally. There was no verbal response, aloud or otherwise, but I did feel a little warmer than before which let me know that she had projected her feelings toward me. Affection was the first thing I felt followed by overwhelming confidence. Knowing that my ballerina was so certain allowed me to be as well; I squared my shoulders as the battle finally began.

Juan's Luvdisc fell easily enough under the assault of J's powerful Shockwave and his Crawdaunt followed shortly afterward. The arrogant Kingdra he released was also an easy target for my psychic's electric move and it wasn't really until Juan released his Wiscash that we ran into problems.

"Return, J," I called as the vibrant light of the Pokéball brought her back to me. Thumbing another ball, I debated silently with myself before enlarging it in my palm.

"You have been a worthy challenger so far, young one," Juan called out in his accented tone. "However, I will not be so easily beat." He chuckled, obviously entertained by the match. I had to admit, I was also having fun with this. Gym matches had hardly ever been the most relaxing of experiences while I'd been in the Pokémon world, but this particular match up was almost serene in comparison to the others.

"Let's not get ahead of ourselves, Juan," I called back. "You'll be handing over that badge before I'm through here." I gave him a half smile as I called forth my next Pokémon.

"Waiiiiii," Percy rumbled happily as he landed in the pool of water that made up half the battle field. Juan raised a brow.

"You use a water type Pokémon in a water Gym?" He chuckled. "This will be easier than I thought!"

I smiled calmly in return.

"Amnesia, Whis," Juan commanded his Pokémon, smile slipping from his face. My reaction had apparently been enough to set him on edge. I've got more than electric moves up my sleeve, I thought.

"Perce," I called to my Wailmer. "Earthquake."

As the ground beneath us began to rumble, I hastily gripped the railing around the Challenger box. As I saw the damage Juan's Pokémon was taking, I had never been more satisfied with the use of a TM. The solid parts of the battlefield began to rumble and crack around us and I could barely hear Juan as he called his next move.

"Water Pulse!" His Whiscash immediately began jettisoning a heavy stream of water at my Pokémon but I knew it wouldn't do much damage to my Wailmer; he was a sturdy thing and had the type effectiveness on his side.

"Keep up the Earthquake, Perc!" I hollered out to him. Another thunderous wave rocked the foundation below us and the water in the pool started to crash in giant waves around our Pokémon. By the time Percy's attack had finally calmed and Juan and I had stumbled back to our feet, his Whiscash was floating, passed out in the water.

"You are a surprise," he told me as he returned his Pokémon. "But I should have expected that from an outsider who has come so far."

I pursed my lips at that; I may have begun this journey as an outsider but I was ending it a tried and true Pokémon trainer. We'll show him outsider, I thought, knuckles going white as I clenched my hands.

"Call out your next Pokémon, Juan," I told him, ready for the battle to be over with.

"Yes, yes, of course," he bowed his head before flinging the last ball into the arena.

"Seal-eo!" his Pokémon roared out as it appeared. It's giant whiskers twitched as it took in the wreckage of the arena with a trained eye and I knew I was going to have to be careful with this battle.

"Percy, return," I recalled my Pokémon. Sliding my hand over my belt, I reattached his ball before grasping at another one. "Come on out, Nero!" As the ball returned to my hand, my Electrode spun like a top on the battlefield ready and waiting to attack his new opponent.

"Ro-rode," he grumbled, eyes narrowing in on his target.

"Spark!" I shouted just as Juan commanded his Pokémon, "Water pulse!"

The attacks whizzed past each other, the lightning of the electric move zinging around the enormous pulse of water to land on its target. Just as the Sealeo screeched from the electrocution, Nero was rammed into the side wall by the wave of water. A hairline crack fissured around his body, showing just how intensely powerful Juan's Sealeo was.

"Nero!" I shouted, trying to catch my Pokémon's attention. As the mutated Pokéball finally fixed his gaze on me, I realized that his vision was swimming hazily. That attack really pulled one over on him, I thought biting my lip concernedly. As Nero rolled around in confusion, hitting himself on various pieces of debris, I glanced surreptitiously out of the corner of my eye. I realized that Juan was having a similar problem with his own Pokémon. The spark that Nero had sent out had apparently paralyzed the sea lion Pokémon, much to my relief. It was also looking a little worse for wear; it was my hope that this was a sign that match was almost done. "Nero, hang in there, okay?"

"Rooooo," he crooned as he rolled himself back into position unsteadily. Juan and I locked eyes across the battlefield and the words Spark and Aurora Beam left our lips in the same moment; time seemed to slow as the attacks crashed against one another frenetically. It was with bated breath that we waited to see whose Pokémon rose above, my Nero or his powerful Sealeo?

As the scene cleared, the victor was obvious.


A/N: Um...hello? Anyone there? -cricket chirps- Right... Well, just in case anyone is still reading this story, I am so, so sorry it's been so long since I've updated! As I'm sure you all know from personal experience, life is kind of hectic (as in, all the time) and not much inspiration for writing. I've had the vast majority of this chapter written, but I got stuck on the final fight between Juan and Lucy. I think it's more about the fact that this is the last Gym, y'all, and that kind of freaked me out. It truly means that this story is coming to an end, and soon. Sadness.

At any rate, this was also the chapter with the climax of the story! What do you guys think? Too much, not enough? Feedback is the lifeblood of authors, after all!

Again, sorry it's taken me so long to update, but I do hope that whomever is still reading this enjoys the chapter.

Reviewers who are the strawberry to my jam: Jestie Uchiha, Prihnex, Wei Tzu, IronShonen, WyldClaw, ValroggtheInvinvible, Drewbie, EliteDog, ChaoticXXHearts, Mercedes Wolfcry, and, as always, Arrow Riddari.

I love you all. No, seriously. I do. I don't think that this story would have gotten this far without my wonderful reviewers. You keep me going, in spite of it all. Have some brownies.