Okay. Now that I stalled long enough with the 3rd part of the intermission, it's time I reveal what happens to Blue. I actually intended to stall until March, but… a suggestion for Valentine's Day led to this. This chapter is the most pairing heavy one in all of SA, so it's suitable. Unless I botched it up. And it is long. This may very well be the longest chapter so far. But it didn't take too long as I've been working on this thing since SA's cancellation warning a while back, along with the Epilogue (yes, I'm looking way too far ahead). So here's my Valentine's Day 'gift'!
Chapter 28: Final Run
August 17, 5:30 am, Pallet Town…
Green woke up from his sleep when his Pokégear vibrated ever so violently against the wooden table it was placed upon. He reached over and looked at the time on its screen. 5:30… So he was asleep for two and a half hours. Not the shortest sleep he had, but still far from restful. He then noticed that there was a missed call from Blue. And curiously, she left a voice mail.
'Maybe she wants to talk now?' Green thought as he played the voice mail. 'And she couldn't wait until morning, why?'
A moment later, Blue's voice came from the Pokégear. But it lacked the usual cheerfulness…
"Green, have I ever told you how much I appreciate our friendship?"
Green stared at the Pokégear in shock. Blue had never said anything like that before. The girl did have quite a bit of built-up sadness inside her from obvious causes, but she never expressed it. Green tried to call her. But she didn't answer. He tried again, but still got no answer.
He put his Pokégear away and got out of bed. Maybe Blue wanted to talk to him in person? He'd comply then. Green got ready for the day (which wasn't quite here yet) and soon left his house, heading for his grandfather's lab. The sun was starting to rise outside, but the air still had the early dawn scent/feel.
Upon arriving at the lab, he unlocked it and entered quietly. He figured everyone else was still asleep, and he knew that they needed their rest. After all, this was the day when the Dex Holders were going to mount an assault on the ShadowNet HQ.
Being careful to not cause any loud creaks in the floor, Green made his way upstairs. He soon arrived at the room Blue was staying in and knocked on the door. He waited a few seconds before knocking again. There was no movement from the inside, so Green carefully opened the door.
No one was inside. Though the circumstances were quite unusual, Green decided to wait for her to either call again, or return from wherever she went.
Blue did call again, exactly 30 minutes after her first call. Green picked it up, but realized that it wasn't actually Blue calling. It was just another voice mail that was sent to him automatically. And these messages were being sent once every 30 minutes…
"I really do appreciate your company. But is that feeling mutual? … That's a stupid question. Of course it's not…"
Green left Blue's room and headed towards another. It was clear that Blue was in some kind of distress. And these automated messages seem to have been recorded the previous night, after her 'fight' with him. She sounded quite upset… Regardless, she was in distress, and he needed to save her. But he had absolutely no clue where she was. He needed to trace the automated messages, but he didn't know how. Blue would know, and so would Crystal. But he couldn't ask Crystal to help. She was effectively crippled and needed all the rest she could get to recover. And because of her injuries, she couldn't really leave Pallet Town.
There was only one person who could help him in this situation. And he opened the door to her room without knocking. Inside, he spotted White lying on her side on the floor, still fast asleep. She had basically wrapped herself into a cocoon with her blankets and appeared to be quite uncomfortable.
Under normal circumstances, Green wouldn't wake her up. Not after what she went through along with Black in Route 43. And after an undoubtedly perilous ride Red gave her from Route 43 to Mahogany Town (that somehow didn't injure any of the four Dex Holders), Green knew that White would need her sleep. But this was an emergency.
"White, wake up," he said as he shook her by the shoulder.
The Unova Dex Holder simply mumbled in her sleep. She sounded as if she was firing someone in her sleep… Weird. Why was it that there wasn't a single normal girl in the Dex Holders? Green shook his head and tried to wake up White once more. He shook her harder by the shoulders. Still, it failed. But at least she wasn't firing anyone anymore.
"… No," White murmured in her sleep. "Not the hairbrush… … not again…"
"Wake up! That's an order!" Green yelled into his junior's ear.
White snapped awake and opened her eyes. She immediately spotted a dark silhouette looming on top of her and screamed. But the dark silhouette saw that coming and clasped a hand over her mouth, rendering her quiet. The girl struggled to push the silhouette, but couldn't. She was about to try kicking, but stopped. She couldn't move anyways because of the blankets that were binding her immobile, but also because the silhouette appeared familiar.
"Stay quiet," Green warned. "Don't wake up anyone else."
White nodded, despite still being scared senseless. She sincerely hoped her senior wasn't trying to do what she thought he was going to do, sneaking into her room, while she was asleep, in the middle of the night, quietly, alone, with the lights out…
"Wh – What are you doing here?" she asked, rather afraid of the answer.
"I need your help," Green answered, his tone dead serious. He then pulled the tightly wrapped blankets off of his junior, much to her horror. The girl curled up into a ball, trembling in terror. Thanks to the darkness, Green couldn't see that. "Blue's in trouble, and all I know is that she's somehow sending me automated messages every half hour. I need you to trace the calls and find out where Blue is. I'd get Crystal to do it, but she needs her rest, as you can understand."
"Oh," the Unova Dex Holder muttered as she relaxed. She let out a long sigh of relief. "Oh, good. Whew. I thought you were here to… … never mind."
When his junior rose to her feet and straightened her clothes, Green understood what she meant. And he promptly whacked her on the back of the head.
"Ow! Hey, that hurt!" the girl complained.
"Get your mind straight."
"It was a valid concern! It's not normal to have someone looming over you in the middle of the night! … And besides, you really scared me. I couldn't think straight." She cleared her throat to try to avoid the awkward silence. "S – So… Blue's in trouble? How?"
"Don't know. That's why I need to find her."
Within 10 minutes, White finished getting ready for the day and jogged towards Green, who was waiting inside the main research room of the lab. The girl sat at the table and started up her laptop.
"I don't know why exactly you think I'd be of any help," she said quietly. "I mean… I don't know how to trace a phone call."
"But you're more technologically savvy than I am."
"Says the guy who has a hardlight hologram in his Gym," White muttered.
"It's not hardlight. It's just a hologram. You can walk through it."
The Unova Dex Holder took her senior's Pokégear and plugged it into her laptop. After many minutes of researching, she soon understood how to trace an incoming call/message. And just as she achieved breakthrough, the third automated message was received.
"I really do care about you, Green. Sometimes, I get the feeling that you care for me too. But other times, I really think you don't give a damn about me…"
White frowned at the message but did her best to trace it. "It's coming from Johto," she said at last. "Not entirely sure where in Johto, though."
"Then pack your laptop," Green said. "We're going to Johto, and you'll have to trace the messages as they come."
White nodded and prepared to leave. But she stopped midway and looked at Green. "That message… Did you two fight yesterday?"
"Why do you ask?"
"I think I talked to her enough to get a rough idea on what she's like," the girl said. "And I know that she kind of… likes you. She wouldn't say things like this."
Green remained silent for a few seconds before he spoke. "She said that I didn't care about her and we had a short argument. She said she doubted that I'll ever come to her rescue…"
"You do care about her, right?"
"Of course. That's why I need to find her right now."
The two Dex Holders soon left for Johto. White rode Green's Charizard with him so that she could use her laptop without having to land and without risks of dropping it.
On the way to central Johto, the fourth automated message arrived.
"I can't imagine what my life would've been like if it wasn't for you and Red. You saved my life, but I don't know if you would do it intentionally…"
"The signal's coming from north," White said. "If… if Blue's in trouble, and her signal is from northern Johto… Could it be that she's-"
"In Route 43…" Green finished for her. "ShadowNet related." He tapped his Charizard and pointed towards Route 43. "Double time. Go!"
By the time the two Dex Holders arrived at Route 43, the fifth automated message arrived.
"I know you think I'm annoying. And for whatever it's worth, I'm sorry. You probably won't believe me…"
"The signal's definitely coming from close by," White said as she closed her laptop and put it away in her bag. "Blue's around here, somewhere." She looked at the ground below and frowned. "… This whole area somehow looks different than the last time I was here."
Green nodded. "There's not supposed to be a river here. Where's the ShadowNet HQ?"
"It's… supposed to be over there," White said as she pointed at building wreckage half submerged in muddy water.
Green got his Charizard to land somewhere stable. Afterwards, he started to walk towards the highest ground, being careful to avoid pits of water and unstable ground. White did her best to follow.
Within a few minutes, the two Dex Holders arrived at a small yet tall, steep, mountainous rock formation. It was by far the highest point in Route 43, and therefore the best place to be in order to avoid being swept by a flash flood.
"White, come over here," Green said as he examined the rock formation.
White soon arrived next to Green and took a second to catch her breath. She didn't know how Green could literally fly across the mud and rocky ground… She examined the rock formation and soon spotted something.
"… Is that what I think it is?" she asked as she pointed at a thin trail of red reaching from the top of the rock formation and down to the ground.
"It's blood," Green answered. "We have to get up there."
White was about to send out her Vullaby when Green started to climb the near vertical rock formation.
"Um… Green? Why don't we just use our Pokémon?"
"Save their strength," Green answered. "And train yourself. Don't be soft."
White rolled her eyes and grumbled silently before she began climbing. 'Oh… trapped in a car that's rolling like a ball, trapped in the same car underwater, almost getting run over by another one, and almost driven headfirst into a building thanks to Red, and now this…'
As Green climbed, he noticed that the blood trail was getting thicker and thicker until he finally reached the top. There was a large boulder on top, and the blood seemed to be coming from behind. After taking a quick look around, he proceeded forward and around the boulder.
As expected, he spotted Blue sitting on the ground, leaning against the large boulder. There was a large amount of blood on her and all around, and a large gaping wound between her neck and her left shoulder… He quickly crouched in front of her and tapped her on the uninjured shoulder. She didn't respond at all and the Gym Leader started to worry. The brim of the girl's hat was covering her eyes, so Green couldn't tell whether she was even awake. But her skin felt awfully cold…
The Gym Leader raised the brim of Blue's hat and instantly froze. The girl's eyes were open, but her usually bright blue eyes were blank and lifeless. But there were tear marks on her face. And the marks were still wet… Green quickly snapped out of his shock and tried shaking her. She still didn't respond and instead, her body began to slide to the left as Green's shakes disrupted equilibrium and thus the body was no longer able to maintain the sitting position.
Blue's body remained slumped on the ground and Green simply stared at her in shock. Just then, White barely managed to finish climbing the rocky ledge. She let out a short sigh of relief and came closer. Upon spotting Blue, she immediately gasped in horror.
"N – No… Blue…" She looked at Green while trembling. "Is… is she…"
Green checked his close friend's pulse with shaking hands. Her skin was ice cold and he couldn't feel anything in his fingertips. Green started to panic and looked around, desperately trying to find something that could fix the situation. There wasn't anything he could do, but he felt that he should do something. Looking at the amount of blood, it was clear that Blue had bled to death. Was there something that could be done to fix that? Sadly, no.
"Blue…" he muttered as he felt tears falling from his eyes. "No… this can't be… How could this happen?" He looked over at White to see if she had a solution of some kind. But the Unova Dex Holder was crying on her knees, as she knew that nothing could be done.
Green wiped away his tears and looked at Blue. He couldn't stand looking at her lifeless eyes and he gently closed them for her. As he did so, he noticed something. It seemed that Blue was holding something in her left hand. An audio recorder…
Green took it and examined it. The record button wasn't pushed in, indicating that Blue did finish recording her last message and had the recording rewound to its start. Green was about to press the play button when he glanced over at White. The girl saw his glance and forced herself to calm down. With her crying like this, there was no way that Green would be able to hear Blue's final message.
Once everything was quiet, Green pressed the play button. The recording started and immediately, Green could hear Blue gasping for air before she calmed herself.
"Green… You always put duty above personal matters, so I'll do the same. I buried ShadowNet HQ, as you could probably tell. But there are probably lots of members left out there. And if I had to guess, they'll head straight for Pallet Town in a last ditch effort. And that's not all you have to worry about. There's someone else that's not ShadowNet who's planning to take over the world. And that'll be a problem very soon once ShadowNet is done for. I'm sure you'll know what to do when that time comes."
There was a pause as Blue took a few seconds to catch her breath.
"Now on to the personal… I don't know when you'll come to find me. I don't know if you'll find me. I've programmed a little device on my necklace pendant to send you a distress call once every 30 minutes. I had the messages recorded several years ago, but changed a few last night. There's no sense in sending you outdated messages. Those messages were supposed to tell you of my last thoughts before I die, should anything sudden happen. To stop the automated calls, press my fingers against the pendant and hold for 3 seconds. It's fingerprint-sensitive."
Green paused the recording and moved Blue's ice cold fingers onto her necklace pendant and pressed it for 3 seconds. He heard a light beep as the device shut off. He still held Blue's hand as he resumed the recording.
"It's been over two hours since I pressed the button. The fifth message would be sent to you in about 5 minutes. How much longer would it take for you to find me? Days? … Was I right in thinking that you wouldn't come to my aid even if I was in trouble? Knowing you, it wouldn't take this long to find me, if you were looking. I know you have to trace these messages, but I know you can do it. You're Green. You never fail."
Green stared at Blue, with more tears threatening to fall from his eyes. He did fail this time. He was just… 10 minutes too late. Had he arrived 10 minutes earlier, he could've proven to Blue that he did care for her before she died…
"I never made you promise me anything. That's because you shouldn't make a girl a promise that you can't keep. You'll always be too busy with your tasks to look after me. But could you sacrifice me to complete your mission? Could you watch me die? … Knowing you, you'll say yes… You always thought I was annoying. You probably think being around me is a waste of time. I don't even know if I should be recording my last thoughts. A big part of me thinks that I shouldn't because you'll never hear this anyways. But… I do hope that you'll listen to this: a foolish girl's last words… Please, Green. For once, put me in the top of your priorities and come find me… I – I don't want to die like this… I don't want to die resenting you. So please come and find me! You… you are coming for me, right? … Right?"
Green paused the recording. He didn't know if he could take the rest of the message. Each word seemed to stab through his heart. Blue died hating him, thinking that he didn't care for her, and knowing that he was heartless. He wanted to prove her wrong more than ever. But he couldn't. It was far too late. He continued the recording. He had to listen to the end… it was Blue's last wish. Blue didn't talk for a while as she was crying. After a minute of sobbing, she managed to calm down enough to resume talking.
"I'm sorry… But you won't make it. It's not your fault. It's my fault. I should've told you years ago. I should've told you that I loved you. That way, even though you won't like me in the slightest, at least I wouldn't have stayed around you. I'm sorry, Green. I really am. … … I really do envy Platinum. She has everything I don't… and everything I want. She has people who take care of her; people who'll do everything they can to keep her happy. She even has Dia who loves her deeply. Too bad she's completely blind to that. Still, she has everything I could ever want. She has someone who loves her. It's the one thing I really wish I had…"
Blue started to cough and gasp as if she exerted too much strength talking. She was crying as well, which made it very difficult for her to talk. But she managed to finish her last message with all of her remaining strength.
"But… it's all over now. There won't be any more sadness… anger… or envy… It's… it's… over… … Goodbye, Green…"
Green shut off the audio recorder and put it away. Afterwards, he simply stared ahead into the horizon, not knowing what to do or say. He always believed that regret was a foolish thing. But right now, he regretted a lot of things. He regretted not treating Blue the way she deserved. He regretted not telling her his feelings. And most of all, he regretted how he made her feel that he didn't like her. She died thinking he didn't care for her. And that fact was going to stay with him forever…
White forced herself to stay calm and struggled up to her feet. She didn't look at Blue. She couldn't handle seeing her team leader's dead body. But right now, she was more worried about Green. She had to calm him down and try to reword Blue's last message so he wouldn't destroy himself for what happened.
Without warning, Green sent out his Charizard. He gingerly lifted Blue's body onto his arms and hopped onto his Charizard. And without even looking at White, he headed back to Pallet Town. The Unova girl wiped away her tears and sent out her Vullaby so she could return to Pallet Town as well.
When the two Dex Holders returned to Professor Oak's lab, everything suddenly fell quiet. Silver was too stunned for words and simply stared at the dead body of the one person he cared about the most in the whole world. Everything he had, he basically owed to Blue, and now she was dead. And he couldn't take it.
Everyone else didn't say anything, as they didn't know what to say. Red and Yellow simply remained seated on the couch, unable to do anything else. Eventually Yellow started crying and Red had to wipe away his own tears. Silver broke the horrible silence with a mad swear for revenge. Gold and Crystal tried to calm him down, but to little avail. Silver was still in the third stage of the Unown infection and using the enhanced strength, simply pushed Gold across the lab and into a wall. He only managed to calm down when Crystal threw her injured body onto him, knowing that he wouldn't push her as well. Silver did calm down, but he did have to fight the urge to push her into another wall, which would hurt her greatly.
Once everything fell quiet again, it was time for Blue's funeral. Since ShadowNet forces were still out there, the funeral had to be short. The girl was buried in the lab's backyard, and the eulogies were done by Red, Yellow, and Silver. Green still didn't say a word and it appeared that he may stay like this permanently. Everyone else watched quietly, including Sapphire, who fought her injury to attend the funeral.
Once the funeral ended, the Dex Holders scattered around the lab to deal with the loss their own way. White contemplated in talking to Green, but decided to talk to Black first. There was something she needed to take care of…
"Black, can I talk to you?"
"Sure, Miss President. What's up?"
"Do you… remember what I told you yesterday?"
Black thought for a couple of seconds. "That you loved me?"
"Before that," White said with a rather sick expression. "I… said I needed to tell you that because I was afraid something terrible was going to happen to me."
"… What about it? Didn't you just say that because we almost drowned in that lake?" Black asked with a worried expression.
White shook her head. "No… Lately… my heart has been beating rather erratically every now and then. I went to that portable hospital in that blimp to see if the doctors can figure out what's wrong with me, but they couldn't. With what happened with Blue today… I – I'm just scared that I might… die soon."
Black pulled her closer and held her arms. "Miss President, what are you saying?"
White looked into his eyes. "Do you really love me?"
Black nodded. "Yes. I love you." 'And I'm sure this time.'
White stared into his eyes for a few seconds, searching for sincerity. "Thanks Black," she said with a sheepish smile once she found the sincerity. She reached over and kissed him. "Blue died without knowing that Green loved her. I just don't want that happening to me."
"It won't," Black said. "Because I'll make sure nothing bad happens to you."
White nodded and hugged him again. Afterwards, she went to find Green. As the only other person to hear Blue's final message, the Unova Dex Holder found it imperative to translate the Kanto girl's final message so that Green wouldn't destroy himself for what happened. His lack of words was a sign that she had to hurry.
She soon found the Gym Leader upstairs in the room where Blue used to stay, staring out the window with a blank look.
"Green?" White called quietly. "Can I… talk to you?" Green didn't say anything, so White assumed it was a 'no'. But she walked up to him anyways. "I need to talk to you about Blue's last message."
Green turned to look at her. He wasn't glaring, but his gaze seemed icy cold. "… Why?" he asked at last.
"Because I think there's been a miscommunication," the Unova Dex Holder said after a nervous gulp. No matter how many times she talked to him, she always found his look to be intimidating, unlike Red… "Don't blame yourself for Blue's death."
"… And why is that?"
"Because it's not your fault. You did all you could to get to her. She said it herself that she doubted you'll make it in time. Be reasonable. She left for ShadowNet HQ without letting you know. And with the distance, and time needed to trace the calls and such, it was impossible for you to get there in time."
"You heard her last message. And you're telling me that she didn't blame me for what happened?"
"She loved you," White said after a short moment of thought. "She didn't hate you. Didn't you hear her cry? She was just expressing how sad she was with what things appeared to be. She was just really sad that she never got to tell you anything. Please, Green. You have to believe me. Blue was just-"
Green abruptly left the room. "… Come, White. You heard Blue. Remaining ShadowNet forces incoming," he said just as he walked through the doorway. "We'll continue talking afterwards."
"… Duty first?" White asked in disbelief as she followed her senior.
"Personal matters can come afterwards."
White considered in trying to convince Green further, but decided against it. She knew that ShadowNet was coming to Pallet Town, and she understood that dealing with them was more important right now. But still, she couldn't help but imagine if Green just didn't want to think about Blue's last words as they were too painful, and ShadowNet was just a great excuse to focus on something else.
Before long, Green was standing in front of every Dex Holder, with a chalkboard behind him. White found it quite surprising that Sapphire was standing behind her, willing to fight despite her condition.
"Listen up," Green said in monotone. "Before her death, Blue sent me a message saying that she buried ShadowNet HQ. White and I saw the remains of that HQ, so it's true. However, Blue also said that she believes all of the remaining ShadowNet members are going to throw a massive attack against Pallet Town in order to kill us. So we have to prepare." He began to draw a map of Route 1 – Pallet Town on the chalkboard. "This is what we're going to do. We're going to have Crystal and Emerald's Mr. Mimes create a bottleneck using Reflect and Light Screen. But we'll need doors that only we can see because we'll be attacking ShadowNet from 10 directions at once. Emerald, you'll know what I'm talking about, so you'll be leading those Mr. Mimes. Next… Platinum, you'll be luring the ShadowNet forces from Route 1 and into Pallet Town. When all of their forces are inside the bottleneck, I'll block their exit and attack from behind. Then Platinum, along with Yellow and Black, you will attack their front. When that happens, Red, Gold, Silver, and Pearl will attack them from the doors on the left, and Ruby, Emerald, Diamond, and White will attack from the doors on the right. Yellow, when you feel the enemy is confused enough, hit them with Volt Tackle. The moment Volt Tackle hits, everyone else will attack at the same time with Blast Burn, Hydro Cannon, and Frenzy Plant. Any questions?"
Sapphire somehow raised a hand. "Wh – What about me and Crystal?" she asked, her voice quite hoarse and weak. "We can fight here…"
"No," Green said. "If ShadowNet sees you two, they will attack you first, and with your current status, you will not survive. I want you two to go back to the hospital and focus on recovery. Which means, Diamond, take Crystal's Meganium. Pearl, take Sapphire's Blaziken. And Platinum, you'll get Blue's Blastoise. You'll need them for the Ultimate Moves."
"But-" Crystal tried to object, but Green wouldn't allow her.
"Yellow and Platinum, take those two back to the hospital. And tell the doctors to keep them inside at all costs."
"This is bullsh*t," Sapphire muttered as Platinum supported her from the side. "Replaced by my juniors for the fight against the big enemy… How f*cking shameful…"
Once the four girls left, Green looked at the others. "Any other questions?"
Gold watched Crystal leave and once the door closed, he waited five seconds before getting up to his feet. "Not a question, but an alternate suggestion."
"What do you have?"
"One problem with this is that… this plan will either kill you, or cripple you," Gold said as he crossed his arms. "When the tide turns, all of ShadowNet is going to make a mad dash for the exit point, which you'll be blocking. Even if they're here for a last ditch effort, they still won't sit in the bottleneck and wait to be destroyed. With all of them charging at you at once wave after wave and with the Ultimate Moves' blasts heading towards you, you won't be able to hold your ground."
"I know that," Green answered. "But I have to do this."
"No you don't," Gold said. "I know we'll need fire to block the exit and stall until things become desperate for them. Which is why I want to take your place in that plan."
"Wait, what?" Emerald muttered. "But… you'll die!"
Gold didn't respond to him and continued looking at Green and the chalkboard. "Now, there's another reason why I need to take your place." He suddenly sighed and looked down at the floor. "… Don't tell Crys. But I need to do this to set things right. … I can't stay with her, no matter how much we both want that to happen. You need to look after her and take care of her. If you go with your plan right now and something happens to you, we're all screwed." He turned to look at Red. "No offense, senior Red, but I don't think we'll last that long if you're in charge of all of us."
Red simply shrugged. "Probably."
Gold looked back at Green. "And if anything happened to you, no one will be able to take care of Crys. Because I know I won't be able to. So we trade places. Even if anything happens to me, everyone else is fine."
Green saw the determination in Gold's eyes and sighed. "… Have it your way."
The meeting ended and the Dex Holders scattered to prepare for the incoming invasion. Emerald approached Gold after making sure they were alone.
"… Are you sure about this?" he asked. "Crystal's not going to be happy when she finds out you volunteered for this."
"It'll be okay," the Johto Dex Holder said with a bitter smile. "This is the way I'll atone for what I did. I will reject my bias and make amends." He looked at Emerald and patted him on the shoulder. "… Tell them to make it count. … And take care of Crys."
Once Emerald left to create the bottleneck, Gold stood in silence for a few minutes before he headed toward the hospital. He wanted to be with Crystal at least one more time.
Inside the portable hospital in the Hoenn Pokémon Association blimp, Ruby sat beside Sapphire and held her down as the painkiller was injected. Once the girl was docile, he let go of her and sighed in relief.
"Sapphire, just stay in bed. Don't do anything."
"Come on, Ruby. You know I can still fight," Sapphire argued.
"Yeah. And I also know that you'll die if you do fight. And I don't want to lose you."
Sapphire looked into his eyes and smiled a little. "So you do remember this time? You didn't hit your head against a tree or something?"
"Hm? Remember what?" Ruby asked with a blank look.
"Oh, you bastard!" Sapphire yelled in anger. She winced at the pain that was felt through the painkiller and quickly calmed down.
"I'm just kidding, Sapphire," Ruby said with a smile. "I remember."
"… Prove it."
Ruby took a quick glance to make sure no one else was around and reached down and kissed her. "How's that for a proof?"
"… I – It's okay," Sapphire stammered, blushing in embarrassment. "Thanks, Ruby."
The boy smiled at her for a few seconds before he rose to his feet. "Now I have to go and prepare for the fight. You stay here and don't leave."
Sapphire nodded. "Okay. You just be careful. And Ruby?"
"If you die," she said slowly. "… I'll kill you."
"… Whatever you say."
In one of the other rooms, Crystal sat on her bed, staring at the wall with a bored expression. She was forced onto the bed again and felt so damn useless. She understood that Blue's death was quite a shock to Green, so perhaps that was why he didn't want any crippled Dex Holders in the fight. He was probably afraid of losing anyone else.
When Gold entered and Crystal saw his expression, she understood what was going to happen. And she had to stop it at all costs.
"Gold," she started as the goggled boy took a seat next to her bed. "Something tells me that… you're going to do something very dangerous and reckless in the oncoming fight."
Gold flinched at her words, but didn't say anything. Crystal held his hands and looked into his eyes.
"Please," she said. "Don't do anything crazy. If anything happened to you… I – I wouldn't know what to do."
"So what do you want me to do, Crys?" Gold asked rather quietly.
"I… want you to stay here with me and not participate in the battle. I know it's much to ask since the others will be expecting your help, but this is the only guarantee I'll have that you won't do anything dangerous. I need you here, Gold."
Gold looked into her eyes and slowly nodded. "… Okay, Crys. I'll stay here with you."
Crystal sighed in relief and hugged him. "Thank you Gold."
"I know you won't get to hear me say this much, but I love you Crys. I really do."
"I know, Gold. Thanks."
Few hours later, 3 pm…
Gold glanced at the door as it opened and spotted Emerald. The Hoenn Dex Holder gave his senior a slight nod, indicating that it was time. Gold nodded back and looked over at Crystal. She was fast asleep, due to the effects of her painkiller. Gold reached over and kissed her one last time before he rose to his feet. He then placed an envelope on the table next to her bed and soon left.
The Dex Holders soon got into their positions after having their headsets redistributed. With some Dex Holders not requiring headsets anymore and with newly created ones, there was just enough for the participating Dex Holders to be equipped.
In Route 1, every single ShadowNet member started to flood towards Pallet Town. No one had any of the Spike Cannon or Electro Ball weapons, as all those weapons were either in the Johto HQ in Goldenrod, or the main HQ in Route 43, which were both destroyed and buried.
In the entrance to Pallet Town, Platinum saw the horde approaching and had signaled the other Dex Holders. But because she had to lure ShadowNet deeper into the trap, she pretended to not see them and instead, continued playing with her Lopunny and Rapidash. She only pretended to notice when a ShadowNet grunt's Pokémon tried to attack her. The attack, which appeared to be a Focus Blast, hit her on the head and knocked her off her feet. It didn't hurt her at all, as her RLS system was still functioning. Green had upgraded the system for stronger shields and faster recharge, at the loss of a manual recharge (which didn't work properly to start with).
Platinum pretended to panic and quickly returned her Lopunny. She then hopped onto her Rapidash and had it run deeper into Pallet Town. The ShadowNet aerial and ground forces chased as fast as they could, some attacking with Hyper Beam as they charged. The leading ground forces found out that something was wrong when their Pokémon's attacks did not reach the girl. They definitely realized that something was odd when they ran smack into an invisible barrier, knocking themselves out.
The lucky members of the leading grunts who didn't hit the barrier soon realized that there was an opening in the barrier. The grunts following learned from the leading ones and avoided the invisible wall and carefully charged through the opening. The leading aerial forces smashed into the wall as well. The remainder saw their fates and decided to abandon ShadowNet entirely. It was a reasonable decision. The group had no buildings left, they never won a single battle, all their plans pretty much backfired, and now, a quarter of the attack force knocked themselves out by running into a wall. Clearly the best course of action was to bravely turn their tail and flee.
But the remainder of the ground forces continued charging. They could not back out, as their absolute leader was with them. Just a few seconds after the last of the ground forces entered the narrow passage between the invisible walls, a Dex Holder appeared from behind and sealed the exit with fire.
Gold grinned through the wall of fire and stared at the trapped ShadowNet grunts. "And yet, still you fail!"
Seeing the fire in her peripheral vision, Platinum spun around and sent out her entire team. Black and Yellow popped out of hiding and sent out their entire teams to help out. The ShadowNet forces started to panic at the unexpected attack. They couldn't spread out and use the numbers to their advantage because of the invisible walls.
Taking advantage of this, the 8 Dex Holders appeared out of hiding and used the pre-built invisible pathways to attack ShadowNet in the narrow passage from all over the place.
"Sir! We're trapped and we're under heavy attack!" one ShadowNet grunt yelled.
"No sh*t!" the ShadowNet boss yelled back. "Fight back! Fight your way through!"
The ShadowNet forces tried their absolute best to fight back. But as time passed, more and more grunts fell to panic and within two hours, only a handful remained willing to fight.
The boss gritted his teeth. "Everyone, fight your way out of here! Through the way we came!" He then turned to look at his personal assistant. "You and I are going to fight our way through. But we're going to hit the weakest Dex Holder on our way. The Dex Holder who's guarding our exit is strong, and he'll know we'll come. But the weakest one who's attacking from the side won't be ready."
From the entrance to the bottleneck, Gold watched as a massive Electric attack hit the leading ShadowNet grunts near Pallet Town. He quickly realized that the Electric attack was Yellow's Volt Tackle. He then let out a long sigh and returned his entire team except for his Typhlosion.
"… That's right," he muttered. "… Send me out with a bang… … Explotaro, Blast Burn!"
Seeing the Ultimate Attacks all being fired at once, White quickly backed away and proceeded to close the invisible door. She had to shut the door so none of the ShadowNet members would try to escape through that path. But just before she could seal the exit, an Ursaring's paw stuck out and prevented the invisible door from closing. White tried her best to push the paw out of the way, but the Ursaring forced the door to open, thereby sending the girl flying away. Taking this time, two ShadowNet members quickly went through the door and then shut it, preventing anyone else from doing the same.
White jumped back to her feet and sent out her Pokémon. She was sure that she could take on a pair of ShadowNet grunts, even though she was (admittedly) the weakest Dex Holder. Unfortunately, her opponents were not merely grunts. From the way the two ShadowNet members interacted, White realized that she was staring at the absolute leader of the faction and his assistant…
There was a huge explosion from the center of the created bottleneck as the Ultimate Moves collided. Black took cover on the ground until the shockwave passed. He then sighed in relief as all of the ShadowNet forces were either knocked unconscious or too injured to continue fighting. Those too close to the explosion probably died. The battle was long and difficult, but the Dex Holders have won. They successfully repelled their final assault, which meant that all that was left was to capture the surviving ShadowNet forces, and… clean up the massive mess they made in Route 1 – Pallet Town.
"Black! I need help!" White's voice rang out from his headset. "The boss of ShadowNet is here!"
"Alright. I'm coming," Black said as he started to run.
"Please hurry and help me!" White's voice came again. "He's too strong for me to handle!"
Black recognized the panic in her voice and ran as fast as he could. "Miss President, hang in there! I'm coming!"
As he ran, he could hear White giving orders to her Pokémon, as she didn't even have time to shut off her headset. Black could hear the effects of the battle in his headset and he could tell that she was struggling badly.
"Ah! No!" came White's panicked scream just as Black reached the center of the now-dissipated bottleneck. He took a look around but couldn't spot White quite yet.
"Miss President, what's wrong?" Black asked hastily.
"Black! Please… help! I – I can't…"
Black tried to run even faster but couldn't, as he was at maximum possible speed. He wished that his Braviary wasn't so worn out from the battles…
"So this is what it feels like to kill a Dex Holder," an unfamiliar voice came through his headset, presumably belonging to a ShadowNet member.
Black temporarily froze. But to his relief, he could still hear White. She was gasping for air and it was clear that she was struggling.
"Ugh… g – get off me!" she choked out.
Black resumed running. He could hear White struggling as she fought off the ShadowNet boss by herself. The girl was coughing and panting to catch her breath and Black figured that she had broken free from the hands of the ShadowNet boss.
White's sudden pained scream interrupted his thoughts. "N – No, no, n- Ah!"
"Miss President!" Black yelled through his headset. "What's wrong? Miss President?!"
"Ungh… g – gah!" White's screams have died out but she was gasping and moaning in pain. And there was some kind of sickening sound of flesh being torn…
Black soon spotted White in the distance. He continued his full powered sprint when he saw her predicament. White's feet weren't touching the ground, as the girl was being held half a meter above the ground. But… she wasn't quite being held above ground. An Ursaring had stabbed her in the stomach with its claws and had forced its paw up, keeping the girl above the ground in the worst possible way. Thanks to gravity, White was being pulled into the sharp claws. The claws were ripping through the girl's flesh from the inside and were steadily being dragged upwards in comparison. The Ursaring had stabbed White in the lower stomach but by the time Black arrived, the claws were touching the girl's ribs.
"Miss President! No!" Black cried as he sent out his entire team, half of which weren't able to fight. But the two ShadowNet members weren't able to battle properly either. Their Pokémon were scattered all around, knocked out from the battle against White. White's Pokémon were with them as well, as they were eventually defeated. "You bastards! Let go of her!"
The Ursaring punched White in the chest with its other paw, thereby pushing her off of its claws. White crumpled on the ground as the ShadowNet boss and his assistant continued their retreat. The Ursaring was returned to its Pokéball just as Black's Emboar was about to attack. Black wanted to chase them, but White was more important.
Black quickly knelt beside White who was trembling in agony. The girl was trying to stop the bleeding on her stomach with her arms, but it was futile. The wounds were way too deep and serious. She managed to open her eyes and looked over at Black.
"Miss President," Black muttered in panic.
"Black…" White choked out through the blood rising up to her throat. "I – I'm s – sorry… I… I tried to s – stop him… But he… he was… too strong…"
"Miss President, please don't talk," Black said as he carefully lifted White's body off of the ground and onto his arms. "You're going to be okay. The hospital is just a few minutes away. The doctors are going to heal you."
White shook her head. She tried to say her last thoughts but couldn't speak. Dark blood was beginning to clot inside her throat and as such, she wasn't even able to breathe, let alone talk. So instead, she mustered all of her remaining strength to reach up towards him and kissed him on the mouth. Black trembled as he knew that his newly-found girlfriend's death was imminent.
"Help," he called, his voice awfully quiet due to shock. "Someone he-"
White reached up and pressed a hand over his mouth. When he looked at her, she slowly shook her head. She wanted to be alone with him in her final moments… Black understood and kissed her as tears fell from his eyes.
"Miss President, please don't die. I love you too much. Please…"
He didn't receive a response, as White was no longer capable of speech. She still kept her eyes on his, even with tears clouding her vision. The tears eventually streamed down her cheeks and she trembled even more violently as she tried to cry. She managed to give him a faint satisfied and longing smile that was terribly heartbreaking. Black pulled her closer and gently hugged her. He could feel White resting her head against his and felt her tears dripping onto his neck.
After what seemed like half a second into the hug, Black felt White loosening in his arms. She wasn't trembling anymore and he could feel her entire body weight leaning against him. Terrified of the realization that dawned on him, Black pulled back and looked at her face. To his utter horror, White's eyes were closed and her faint smile was gone. Black tried shaking her but she didn't move.
"Miss President?" Black called as he started to cry. "Miss President? Please wake up… please… you can't die. Please…" But White didn't respond.
Black embraced her tight again and kissed her on the lips. He didn't care about the girl's blood spilling onto him. He didn't care about anything anymore. He simply held onto her body and cried. The person he cared about the most in the world had just died in his arms…
Unaware that they had lost another friend, the other Dex Holders all stared at the carnage, relieved that the battle was over. Green had contacted Erika to let her know that ShadowNet was done for, so that the other Kanto Gym Leaders could come in and take all the surviving ShadowNet grunts away.
As examined the mess of bodies and flaming patches of grass, thoughts went over to Gold, who wasn't with them. Emerald quickly ran towards the Hoenn Pokémon Association blimp to get Crystal. She had to right to know… Ruby followed, but just so he could go see Sapphire. Green and Silver slowly returned to Pallet Town. Now that they avenged Blue's death against ShadowNet, they needed time to fully process her death. After taking a glance at the remaining Dex Holders, Diamond and Pearl approached Platinum, who was still busy observing the carnage.
"Lady, are you okay?" Diamond asked as he stood right beside her.
Platinum faced him and nodded with a faint smile. Even though she knew that her father still loved her and the one who disowned her was just a ShadowNet grunt in disguise, she still didn't talk as much as before. Diamond figured that the heiress was just being careful. He knew that it would take time for her to return to normal, so he let the issue slide. Instead, he examined her from head to toe, worried that she may have been injured. However, unlike every other Dex Holder, Platinum was… completely unharmed. There wasn't a single scratch on her, thanks to her RLS system. She did have some dirt on her black shorts from when she was knocked down to the ground due to the initial Focus Blast, but otherwise, nothing touched her.
Platinum turned to look at the carnage again. "… Do you think my father will be proud of me?" she asked quietly.
"Of course," Diamond answered. "You played a very important role in defeating evil. Of course he'll be proud of you."
"But there are some who died," the heiress muttered. "… I must go talk to my father."
"I'll go talk to him," Pearl offered. "That way, in the off chance that he is angry, I can convince him that it wasn't your doing. So you stay out here with Dia, okay Miss Lady?"
Pearl gave Diamond a quick eye signal and walked away. The relaxed Dex Holder soon took Platinum's hand and led away from the carnage and towards the shadow of a large tree. The heiress did not seem to mind the fact that he was holding her hand. The two Sinnoh Dex Holders sat down in the shade and relaxed.
"Diamond," Platinum said quietly. "Thank you for your continuous support. I really do not know how to thank you enough."
"It's nothing, Lady," Diamond said with a sheepish smile. "Now that everything's over, let's just relax and rest." He reached into his bag and took out a large plastic container containing a large chocolate pie which he had been saving for a while. "Here, let's eat!"
Platinum did not protest, so Diamond took out two dishes and utensils for the snack. He took a large piece for himself and gave Platinum another large piece. The heiress smiled at him and proceeded to eat the pie. But she struggled with the utensil once again, so Diamond took the utensils from her. As he proceeded to feed her (again), he noticed that this time, she did not hesitate at all. Instead, she smiled in gratitude and he smiled back. Platinum looked very happy despite recent happenings, and seeing her happy absolutely delighted him. He felt so close to her, and he believed that very shortly, he would be able to make his third attempt at a confession. And if he really was as close to the girl as he thought, she would love him too.
From just a few meters away, Red was about to search for Gold with Yellow when he heard a static from his headset. Much to Yellow's concern, his expression severely darkened.
"Yellow," he said once he shut off his headset. "That was Black. … White's dead."
Yellow gasped in horror. "Oh no… We have to go talk to him."
"Yeah. Let's go."
Back in the Hoenn Pokémon Association blimp, Crystal woke up from her sleep and opened her eyes. She looked over to her right, expecting Gold to be looking at her from the corner of the room. But to her surprise, he wasn't there. His seat was empty… Crystal forced herself to sit up and quickly looked around the room. She couldn't find Gold anywhere, but there was something on the table next to her bed. It appeared to be an envelope… Suppressing the horrible feeling that was creeping up, Crystal took the envelope, opened it, and started to read the letter inside. Given the messy handwriting, it was clear that Gold was the one who wrote it.
I'm so sorry for hurting you. You keep saying that it wasn't my fault, but really, it was my fault. You don't want me to risk myself to make things right, and you said that you loved me. But that's exactly why I can't stay with you. I love you too, Crys. I always have. But you and I both know that you deserve someone a lot better. I'm afraid I might hurt you again. I can never forgive myself, and I won't be able to live on knowing I hurt you like this. I can't let it happen again, and I won't let it happen again. Those ShadowNet bastards made me hurt you like this, and I'll make sure they never harm anyone else, ever. I will make amends. Please take good care of yourself.
Crys, after meeting you, I was able to travel to different places, meet different people, and experience all sorts of things, both good and bad. It's really been fun, and I was really happy. I really enjoyed myself whenever I was with you. Thank you, Crys. And goodbye.
Crystal dropped the letter and started to hyperventilate. Her vision seemed to be tunneling from severe panic and shock. That last paragraph… She had heard it from Gold before. Just before he recklessly dived into that temporal void to chase after Pryce. Hearing him say that almost broke her then, and it was about to break her now.
"N – No… no. Gold… Gold!"
Crystal forced herself off of the bed. She grabbed the crutch leaning against the wall with her good arm and began hobbling her way out of the temporary hospital. Before she could reach the exit, she walked into Emerald.
"Crystal? What are you doing out here?" he asked.
"Where… Where's Gold?" Crystal asked. In her panic, she didn't even realize that Emerald was missing one of his (fake) arms. Seeing his darkening expression, she started to panic even more. "Where is he?"
"He… volunteered to singlehandedly hold off all of the ShadowNet forces while everyone else attacked from behind with the Ultimate Moves. There was a large explosion and we haven't been able to contact him afterwards."
"Oh no… no, it can't be…" Crystal muttered in terror. "T – Take me there…"
Emerald quickly fetched a wheelchair and Crystal sat on it without any objection. She knew she couldn't walk all the way towards Gold, because her leg was wobbling too damn much. Emerald discarded his other Magic Hand Extensor and pushed his senior's wheelchair with his real hands. Before long, the two Dex Holders came across Diamond and Platinum, who had finished eating.
"Senior Crystal, are you okay?" Platinum asked as she bowed to her senior.
"N – No," Crystal answered with her good hand pressed firmly against her heart.
"We're going to look for Gold. Can you two come with us?" Emerald asked the two Sinnoh Dex Holders.
"Of course," Diamond said as he got up.
With Diamond pushing Crystal's wheelchair, the four Dex Holders quickly moved forward through the carnage. Crystal kept her good hand over her heart, desperately hoping that Gold was okay.
Half an hour later, the four Dex Holders approached the end of the carnage in Route 1 and soon spotted Gold. Crystal was about to sigh in relief when she realized something and screamed in horror instead. Gold was lying on the ground on his side, with his billiard cue stabbed through his chest. There was a huge pile of dead and unconscious ShadowNet grunts all around him, indicating that in the final moments of the fight, all of the ShadowNet grunts made a mad attempt to force through him before the Ultimate Moves created the explosion. And that explosion had caused Gold's billiard cue to stab into his chest…
Emerald and Platinum quickly knelt beside the fallen Johto Dex Holder. They could see that his eyes were open but blank. Crystal forced herself off of the wheelchair and landed on the ground next to Gold. Her repaired-and-healing leg and shoulder complained quite badly from the impact, but she didn't care. She shook Gold by the shoulder, feeling awfully sick from the small pool of his blood around him.
"Gold? … Gold? Please wake up…" Crystal sobbed out. "Please… you can't leave me…" She desperately shook him but nothing happened. She checked his pulse with trembling fingers and burst into tears when her fingers registered nothing. "Gold… You promised me that you'd stay with me…" she sobbed out as she buried her face into Gold's shoulder. "You promised me… Why did you break your promise, Gold? Why did you leave me? … I love you, and you said you loved me… You can't leave me like this, Gold… You just can't. So please, get up. Say something, please…" Eventually, she couldn't restrain herself and cried. She just let it all out. The feeling she got whenever she looked at him… the terrible feeling, had come true despite her best efforts…
Emerald and Platinum simply stood by as their senior wailed in front of the fallen Dex Holder. Emerald realized that he never saw Crystal cry before. Not like this, at any rate. And he hadn't a clue as to how to cheer her up. Platinum probably knew (it was his belief that all girls knew how to cheer up other girls), but she was busy wiping away her own tears, at the loss of one of her teammates.
Several hours later, the surviving Dex Holders gathered in Professor Oak's lab. After another funeral, everyone seemed to have forgotten the fact that they had just effectively destroyed ShadowNet. Crystal remained seated on her wheelchair, staring through the window at the horizon with a blank look, holding onto Gold's (cleaned) billiard cue close to her heart. Emerald stood beside her, but remained quiet. He had no idea how to cheer her up, or if it even was possible. Perhaps he shouldn't have told her that Gold volunteered to take Green's position in the battle…
Green stood in front of the others and cleared his throat. "I know today's been a rough day," he started slowly. "We lost three of our friends. But it would be daft to stop now. We have to finish what we started. Now, the ShadowNet boss killed White and escaped. And just a few minutes ago, Lt. Surge told me that there was a speed boat that managed to escape him in Vermillion harbor. Considering that Cynthia hasn't reported that she captured the ShadowNet task force yet, and every other region has no more ShadowNet presence, we have to assume that the boss is heading to Sinnoh. We have to chase him and finish this once and for all. This has become quite personal for some of us. Now I'm going to Sinnoh to end this. I leave it your choice if you want to follow me or not."
"I'll stay here with Yellow and clean up," Red said. "Besides, someone has to stay behind and find a way to reverse that Unown infection, right? We're almost there too."
Black looked over at Green with fierce determination. "I'm going with you. There's no way I'll miss out on a chance of avenge Miss President."
Platinum glanced at Diamond and Pearl before she rose to her feet. "We will go as well. This is our fight, and we shall see it finished. Especially if it is in our home region."
"Silver, what about you?" Green asked.
The Johto Dex Holder nodded. "I'm in."
While the others prepared to leave, Green approached Crystal, who hasn't moved at all from her previous position. Even though she felt her senior's presence, she didn't acknowledge him at all.
"Crystal," Green said quietly. "… I'm sorry for what happened. I shouldn't have let Gold take my place."
Crystal let out a shuddering sigh and turned to look at her senior. He could see the tears falling from her eyes and put a hand on her shoulder. He looked into her watery eyes and saw hints of resentment along with understanding and acceptance.
"… Can I really blame you for what happened?" she muttered quietly. "… It was his decision. He chose to take your place because he was still sorry for what he did to me. If I have to hate anyone, it's myself for trusting that he wouldn't do anything dangerous. I should've known that it was impossible for me to alleviate his guilt… And I have to blame Gold for leaving me like this…"
"Is there anything you want me to do to the ShadowNet boss?"
Crystal shook her head and looked through the window again. "I don't know anymore…"
Green patted her on the shoulder one more time before he left the lab. Crystal slowly looked down at Gold's billiard cue and started to cry again. Emerald watched her for a couple of seconds before he left. There was nothing he could do about this…
D: Sir, we're all that's left.
L: Thanks for the news flash. But at least they're down one Dex Holder. I made sure of that.
D: So… what now, sir?
L: We still have a small task force in Sinnoh. It's just enough to take over the Canalave City Library. We take it over, and we hide there until things calm down. So give the orders. We'll hide there and think of a way to rebuild.
D: Yes sir.
I had to skip quite a bit of stuff (such as the funeral proceedings), but look at that. Still freaking long. I would've called this chapter "Long Night of Death". A slight deviation from the title scheme that explains more or less everything about this chapter. Get it? It's a long chapter filled with deaths, that'll probably be read at night, that's close to Long Night of Sol… … never mind. Damn, that was terrible…
So, how's the Valentine's Day gift? Terrible, right? The most pairing heavy chapter in all of SA… and that was because of the tragedies. Well, the evilness I've been saving has been used up in this chapter, so no more evilness in SA for a little while.
Dex Holder KIA/MIA list: Blue, Gold, White.
And we have our first casualty! … And the second! … And the third… Let me just say, Triple Kill! … Sorry, that was cruel. 3 Dex Holders are dead. Will there be any more fatalities? But Blue's death was already foretold, so you knew that at least one Dex Holder was going to die. But I guess killing 20% in one chapter was a bit too much?
This chapter is the result of me trying to prove that Dex Holders WILL die in SA. So far, there were many instances where a Dex Holder was presumed dead. But everyone survived. I pulled off a similar 'stunt' in the previous SA chapter (non intermission) with Blue. But in a way to deviate from the same pattern, Blue is revealed to be dead. And Gold and White too. Gold was supposed to die here, but not White, as her fate is not included anywhere in the SA plans. So her death was an accident. Whoops. My bad.
… Okay, I lied. White's death was not an accident. It was intentional. I 'practiced' it in SR's Containment series by killing her first. And I gave the clue in SA #026 and #027 by having White's heart be erratic at times, just like in SR #016 before her horrible, horrible death.
So, how many of you cried? Ah, it doesn't matter. But here is a miniature review-poll like the ones from SL. It's related to the ShadowNet boss and I haven't decided his fate yet. Show mercy and spare him, or kill him as revenge (and maybe even hang him up by his entrails)?