I awoke from a horrible nightmare, jumping so high and so hard into the air that the ground cracked under me. I shuddered at the intense realness of my dream, as I fell down to the ground and landed gracefully, kneeling and placing a wing in front of me to absorb the fall.

I looked to the east; the faint glow of the morning sun was becoming visible. Arceus would probably begin collecting the legendaries in an hour or two, meaning that any sleep past this point would be hurtful rather than helpful. I yawned, and sat upright, beginning my meditation. I began to think about my dream, and what it meant.

The first thing I remembered about it as it played back through my mind's eye, was that my greatest fear of the tournament came true; we had a free for all. But there was something even worse than that; the tournament was geared so that the others would end up teaming up against me. I began dodging attacks, glancing over to Arceus, who I could tell was enjoying the show. "Come on, Wind!" he mocked. "Show us that power you used to defeat that team of PokéHunters!"

I struggled to bring out the power of the Legendary Lugia, but I was careless and focused too much energy on the transformation and not enough on trying to block any attack coming. I screamed out in pain as a tremendously powerful thunder attack zapped my entire body, paralyzing me in the air. The other three birds join in on the attack, and I awoke as soon as their attacks made contact.

It is said when a Lugia has nightmares, they're visions of the future, visions that may or may not come to pass. The visions are usually a way for the Guardian of Seas to prevent any imbalances in the world. While I had thought about a free for all, I never imagined anything like what I had dreamed about, and decided it was time to think of a plan for that scenario.

I spent an hour meditating, when I opened my eyes and looked up. "Dad… I wish you were here. I know I'm not supposed to be afraid, but I can't help it." I punched the ground. "I know you're still looking over me… You helped me once. I know I shouldn't ask for it, but I might need your help again today. Please… Watch over me carefully today."

I looked down, and saw that Arceus was coming this way. I took a few deep breaths to regain my composure, and stood up. He looked me over with an expressionless face, and then finally spoke. "My, you're up bright and early. I hope you slept well, the tournament will begin shortly. Come, I'll take you to the others."

I had hoped for more time to mentally prepare myself for the fights, but I knew arguing with Arceus wouldn't get me anywhere good. I simply nodded and followed him. My heart was pounding, and my mind was racing with all sorts of possibilities. What if the legendaries have trained harder than me? What if Arceus taught the others tricks that I haven't even heard of? My heart fell to the floor, but of all the things that could've happened, my father popped into my mind.

Every now and then, my family would write me letters. My father would rarely write me letters, though; which was expected, as his obligations as Guardian of the Seas came first. One day, however, I remember getting a letter from him. His letters were usually along the lines of "I'm very proud of you, but you need to do better." But this letter was different. It had more emotion than what he usually showed.

I can't remember the exact wording, but my father began the letter by apologizing for how rarely he wrote me, and that he really was proud of everything I had accomplished. But one part of the letter still rings out in my head to this day. "They probably teach you that Lugias are a proud race of Pokémon, and that we simply cannot lose, am I right?" he began his second paragraph. "Well, that's not entirely true. While most of the time we win our fights, sometimes the best teacher is experience and humility in loss. The important thing is not if you win or lose. Sometimes, it's HOW you win or lose. Never lose sight of who you are."

I never fully understood the meaning of those words until now. The most important thing about this fight is to fully gauge how far we've all progressed over the past seven years, not only in terms of power, but in terms of character. I knew that no matter what, I needed to do the right thing.

We met on the top of Spear Pillar, the morning sun barely above us as the other legendary birds watched me with an eerie concentration. I gulped, worried about what was going through their minds. I decided that I would find out soon enough, and I took a deep breath to calm myself. I began my usual warm up routine, which involved meditation, stretches, and light psychic workouts.

Arceus finally spoke. "Today, all of you will find out who is the best suited leader of the legendary birds. You have all trained diligently for this day, and I am proud of each one of you. I would like to make you all leaders, but sadly I cannot." Arceus looked over all of us, and continued. "As you know, Wind has been training by himself the whole time, away from the group, while the rest of you have been under my heavy supervision. This is due to his previous training and proven battle experience. To make this a fair fight to the rest of you, this tournament will not have rounds. Instead, this will be a free-for-all match."

Just like my dream had warned me. Arceus must have made them resent the fact that I didn't have to put up with his training methods. I wished I could've consoled them, but that would have to wait until after the battle. Arceus continued his announcement. "Please make your way to the battleground. Best of luck to all of you."

I stepped forward and got on one corner of the arena-like battleground. I carefully observed everyone's movements and actions, and it became painfully obvious that each one of them had targeted me as their first victim, but none more than Ho-oh. I frowned as I looked into his eyes. Those glassy, anger driven eyes that screamed determination. It was obvious that he wouldn't stop until I was down for the count, and maybe not even then.

Using my psychic powers, I could tell that they all stood a good chance of defeating me at my current strength if they all teamed up on me. Brute force alone wouldn't win this, unless somehow I tapped back into that legendary power again. I had no doubt that this was Arceus' plan all along, but I was worried that I might not be able to use it on command.

"Let the match…" I barely heard echo out. I shook my head to clear my mind of those bad thoughts. I knew somehow, someway I would win. Maybe not according to Arceus and the tournament rules, but I would win deep down. No matter if I won or lost, I'd do it the right way.

"Begin!" Without thought, I immediately jumped into the air, where a lightning bolt had attempted to strike me. Articuno flew up and began to fire an Ice beam at me, which I was able to stop in its tracks. Using the powers I had developed, I quickly melted the ice and used the water in the air to create a water shield around me. I levitated around, studying everyone.

"Baaad move, water boy." Zapdos shouted as he began to fire a Thunder attack at me. I smirked. Alright, just as I practiced. I thought to myself, as I quickly moved the mass of water above my head and slung it at Articuno, which electrocuted her, causing her to fall down to the ground in pain. I grimaced; I hated to hurt her, but I couldn't risk another surprise attack. I looked down at her, she seemed to be down for the count.

"You… You BASTARD!" Moltres roared as he let out a torrent of fire. Now what?! I cursed under my breath. I have no other choice, I guess… I thought as I began to concentrate. The flames had finally hit me, when I unleashed a decently powerful Hydro Pump at the flames. Most of the water had evaporated on contact, but some of it also hit Moltres, causing serious damage. Upon contact, he fell to the ground, and I flinched in pain as the burns on my face began to drain my health.

"Hmph. I had expected more from such someone like you. Pity." I heard from behind me. Fire began to crackle, as I immediately dove down at the ground. It was Ho-oh firing a Sacred Fire attack, which ended up hitting Zapdos. He screamed out in pain. "HEY! Watch it, bird brain! I thought we agreed to gang up on him!"

"Well, you should've gotten out of the way! Besides, if you had hit him in the beginning like we had planned, you wouldn't have gotten burned! It's your fault!" Ho-oh defended. Zapdos growled, and the two wouldn't stop bickering. I used this time I had to recollect the water that I had expelled to make the Hydro pump, and began to treat some of my burns. The water felt cold on the various burns, giving the healing technique even more relief as I began to feel my energy rise.

I looked over at those two, and they were going all out against each other, ending with Zapdos slamming into Ho-oh driving him to the ground. It was apparent that he had no will to continue, and had given up… But that wasn't good enough for Zapdos. I could tell he wouldn't be satisfied until Ho-oh was finished off. My mind raced, and before I knew it, I dove down to protect Ho-oh. The electrocution hurt much worse than I had ever imagined; every muscle in my body tightened in agony. When it finally stopped, I was drained of energy, panting and holding my left wing with my right.

Ho-oh was obviously astonished. "I… I didn't ask for your help." He finally said. "You're a fool for doing that. Now Zapdos will win!"

I stepped away, looking back at him, but keeping an eye out for Zapdos. "You honestly think that winning some contest like this is what's important right now? Wake up!" I scolded. "You could've been killed, and for what, a stupid title? A true leader isn't judged solely by his power, but by his love and compassion. There are more important things in our lives than killing each other over something so trivial. A true leader brings everyone together, not divide. And even if I do lose this, at least I have stood up for what I believed in; and at least I didn't lose you today, too."

I could tell my monologue had really affected the others, but Ho-oh especially. He was nearly in tears over the whole thing, I could tell that he was beating himself up inside for believing what Arceus said about me. But I didn't blame him; I knew it wasn't his fault.

Just as I thought the conflict was over, I felt a searing pain burn across my back. I fell to the ground, squirming in agony as I looked up to see Moltres. By his expression, I could tell what I had said had angered him. "You're not going to sway me with your constant lies!" he roared. "I don't care what you say, I will defeat you all and I will take my place as ruler of the legendary birds!"

The water vapor had been drained from around me, and the nearest source of water would take me too long to gather. To make matters worse, the effects of dehydration from the flames and the Hydro pump I used earlier were starting to set in. I knew that his next attack wouldn't be deflectable, but it was okay; I was happy with my effort. I knew that no matter what, I had done my best. My only regret was not pulling everyone together in a different way.

I began to flinch, expecting this next attack to be the end of me. I opened my eyes again, amazed as I saw Ho-oh stand above me; he was absolutely exhausted, but still took a battle stance. "What are you doing, get up!" he shouted. "This isn't over yet. If you really mean what you say, you've got to help me fight, right here and now. I can handle Moltres, go fight Zapdos."

I wobbled up to my feet, my spirits lifted. "Sure thing," I managed to finally say. "Thanks, Ho-oh."

I floated up to Zapdos, as I looked below, seeing the others fight. "So, what do you say? Are you still going to continue?"

Zapdos paused for a second. "I agree with what you said, but I'm going to need some convincing. Not to mention, Arceus is watching, and would be surprised if we all just quit. So, how about one last fight? But before that, I think it's only fair that you should heal up. That's right; I knew what you were doing earlier. It's fine, I wouldn't want to fight you when you're already this drained. That wouldn't be very fair."

I carefully drew water from a lake below, and began to form a circle of water around me, healing my wounds within a few seconds. "I'd offer you the same treatment, but I've never tried it on an electric type, I don't know if it would hurt you or not."

"But why would you bother? It's not like Ho-oh did any real damage. I'll be fine." Our fight finally began; I flew around him, dodging a bolt of lightning. I fired a psybeam in an attempt to counter attack, which he dove underneath and rammed into me. The attack caught me off guard, and he began to discharge a large amount of electricity, which directly jumped into me; the water from earlier was only amplifying the power of Zapdos' attack. Without thinking, I quickly dispersed the water around me and kicked Zapdos away, and closed the water back around Zapdos; which was met with brilliant yellow flashes as Zapdos' electricity was used against him. I absorbed the water, and began to pant heavily, the constant electrical current caused burns where Zapdos had touched me.

"Man, you're much better than I gave you credit for," I panted. "I haven't been this excited for a fight in a long time."

The drenched electric bird panted too, having a hard time flying with his wet wings. "Yeah, I could say the same thing about you." He panted. "But I'm not going down this easily!" he fired a thunder attack with all his might, which I met with my Aeroblast. The two attacks clashed, causing loud snaps and a bright white light to be produced. Neither of us wanted to give in, it was really a great fight.

I can't keep this up much longer… I've got to put everything I've got into this attack, or he'll beat me for sure! I thought to myself as I roared with a tremendous power, causing the other two birds that were still fighting to stop in their tracks. Zapdos tried to hold off the attack, but it was no use; my Aeroblast easily tore through his attack and afterwards, him. Zapdos was out cold before he had even landed; arceus dragged both Zapdos and Articuno out of the way, so the rest of us could continue without fear of those two getting hurt.

I flew down, and watched those two go at it. Neither of them giving up, neither of them letting in, but I could tell Ho-oh was really getting tired. I flew next to him. "It's time to finish this, together. Are you with me?" I asked, both of us panting heavily. Ho-oh nodded, and we faced Moltres.

"Two against one? That hardly seems fair." He complained. "Well, whatever. Defeating you both at the same time merely makes my victory more unquestionable. Now, both of you, DIE!" Moltres began charging a Fire Blast bigger than I had ever seen; if either of us got hit by it, we were done for. I looked at Ho-oh. "We've got to combine our signature moves. You've already been taught Sacred Fire, right?"

"Y-Yeah, but you realize nothing like this has ever been tried, right? What if this backfires?" Ho-oh asked.

"Do we really have another option?" We both looked at each other for a split second, nodding simultaneously. We backed up from Moltres, each of us charging our respective attacks. Father… I know you're watching over me, even from the other side. I promise you, I won't let you down!

Moltres let out a huge wave of fire headed straight towards us; which was met with nearly synchronous attacks by Ho-oh and me. The three attacks clashed, but our combined attacks were no match for Moltres. Sacred Fire and Aeroblast fused together; it formed a white flame tornado like projectile that cut through Moltres' attack almost instantly, and ended up knocking him out.

Panting, Ho-oh and I look at each other, and we shook wings. "That was really fantastic fighting out there, Ho-oh. I'm impressed." I complimented him. "I don't know how things would've turned out if I hadn't had you help me.

"Don't mention it." Ho-oh shrugged, a bit embarrassed. He wasn't used to the positive feedback, it had been a long time since someone complimented his battling techniques. "I'm just sorry that we all ganged up on you. We just thought…" he sighed. I merely patted him on the shoulder and gave him a warm smile. The past battle didn't matter, I was just glad that it was finally over.

Arceus was clearly frustrated at the whole spectacle; his plan had seemed to be to separate us rather than to bring us together. When Ho-oh and I landed, he walked up to us, looking like he was about to fight us himself, but before he did anything, he suddenly calmed down.

"Congratulations, you both fought very well. Lugia, your intelligence is beyond your years; you were able to see beyond the obvious and discover that the tournament was to test other aspects of leadership other than pure power. I believe the decision is obvious, you will lead the legendary birds." He patted me on the shoulder. "Come, first we'll treat everyone's wounds, then we'll have a feast to celebrate. This could be the beginning of a new golden age of the world."

Arceus began to lead us to an underground room in Spear Pillar, when I heard something that I thought was just my imagination. Even though the tournament ended differently than I had planned, it wasn't a total failure. Lugia still has one weakness I've learned today, Arceus thought. His loved ones.

I didn't trust Arceus fully, but I wasn't ready to believe he was the kind to intentionally harm us. I rejected the sound, telling myself that it was just some paranoia that was lingering from the battle. But for the rest of the night, I had a gut feeling that I needed to go home, that my people needed me.

Looking back, I would give anything to have caved to that feeling. I wish I would've been there to protect them.

A/N: School's been kicking my butt, so my updates will be less frequent. Not to mention, due to the length of this chapter, editing has been a hassle; I apologize in advance for any grammatical or spelling errors. Also, please don't forget to review, favorite, and follow me and my story, that stuff really makes a difference in when these updates happen. The next chapter will be the last of Lugia's childhood, so stay tuned.