Pokémon: 31 Deaths: 15

"So, are you guys gonna stay or go?" Valentino asked.

"Go?" Mag asked in confusion. "Go where?"

Blue, Saylee, Silver and Lucy's Pokemon had spent the morning training in their usual field. They were glad to be back to something of a normal regimen, even with the gaping absence of Nathan, Rei and Patrick and the incongruous presence of the dour and overpowered Eric and Perun. After some time, however, Blue and Saylee had disappeared—Lucy said that they had gone to make up, but wouldn't say anything more—and then Lucy had gone to run an errand, leaving Silver to preside over the training. Silver promptly fell asleep, leaving the Pokémon's motivation low.

"I don't know if anybody's going anywhere, but I'm going where Silver goes," Tyra declared. "For now, I think he's planning to go back to Kanto with Saylee. I'm glad they made up. Silver was abnormally pissy even for him when he was mad at her."

"She's goin' back to Kanto?" Emilie said in surprise. "Thought she'd be goin' to Sinnoh with her mom?"

"Jo's going to Sinnoh?" Zeb asked. "Why?"

"Dude, you've seen Kanto," Siren said. "Why the hell not?"

"Her extended visa's about to run out," Tobias explained. "Byron asked her to go back to Sinnoh with him and marry him instead of returning to Kanto. Lee's said she'll go with them to see the wedding, but then she wants to stay in Kanto."

"Why?" Seraphine wanted to know. The Dewgong splashed her tail elegantly in the water. "I have not heard a single good thing about this Kanto place."

"Perhaps a knight is unwilling to leave her mate?" Alec suggested.

"I think that's a wee bit ay it, now her an' Blue are taegither," Mary said, "but mair'n that, she says she's wantin' tae help rebuild Kanto."

"It's a hellhole," Siren pointed out.

"That's exactly why it needs saving."

Everyone looked up at Saylee and Blue as they walked out of the trees and sat down on the edge of the ridge overlooking the field, seeming reenergized. Saylee had a spark in her eyes. Blue sat down next to her, looking grimly determined. "Kanto is a mess, but Red died believing that it could be saved and trying to do just that," Saylee said. "All of the people in Kanto have kept living for eighteen years in the hope that things can get better. I don't want that hope to have been for nothing. Too many people have already died in despair."

"And we all know that running away doesn't do shit for anyone," Blue added.

"So what'll you do?" Tyra asked.

"I'm going to come back to Johto first and get my rangers' license," Saylee said, combing her hands through her short hair and brushing some leaves out of it. "It'll take a lot of studying—I've missed some of the classes I'm supposed to attend, law theory and field medicine and stuff—but once I get it, I can arrange for a branch of rangers to start working in Kanto. Protecting people and Pokémon, bringing about something resembling law and order, all that good stuff."

"What's actually the difference between rangers and the police?" Valentino asked.

"Rangers have more agency," Saylee explained. "There's no 'by the book' with rangers, which can be a strength in difficult cases but also means they need a lot of monitoring. They're trusted to hold to their own judgement, which means their judgement has to be completely trustworthy. Among other things, like being more highly combat-trained and travelling rather than working a single specific beat."

"Sounds appropriate for Kanto," Tobias commented. Saylee nodded.

"They can requisition things directly from the government, as well, so if they're travelling around Kanto they can see precisely what each area of the country needs most first-hand and then requisition until the Magnet Train breaks down. It'll be a start, at least." She smiled down at Silver, who was still asleep. "And I'll look after Silver, wherever he needs to be. Despite his parents, he cared about you guys, so I believe the geisha when they say he's destined to be a strong leader. All of that aside… he's my little brother, and I believe in him."

"You're very hopeful, all of a sudden," Emilie said. "You've been real down the last while, not that I blame you…"

"Well… I guess I feel like I hit bottom on despair," Saylee sighed, tipping her head back to stare at the sky. "But when you hit bottom, the only way is up, right? I'm in the mood to be hopeful. I have to think of the good. I did find my brother; hell, I found both of them. Mum's happier with Byron than I've ever seen her, even grieving for Red. I'm glad for her. And Blue and I… there are things I can't fully forgive him for. But, well… that makes two of us." She leaned against Blue with a faint smile. He put his arm around her." I love him and, honestly, my life feels so much more grounded with him in it." She smiled, blushing a little.

"That's me," Blue declared. "So down to earth I can use Dig. Besides, I'm going to be the Viridian Leader. I've been protecting that area for ages anyway, might as well get paid to do it. It'll give you a home base while you're running around fighting people, as you do."

"I'll be patrolling Kanto with whoever wants to come," Saylee said.

"We do," Eric said.

The Espeon and Pikachu had been huddled silently for a while, but they hopped up onto the ridge next to Saylee. "We couldn't do a damn thing for Red, and that itches," Perun said. "We can at least look after his kid sister."

"We want to help you honour his wishes," Eric added. "Let us fight with you, Saylee."

"Tobes an' I'll be wi' you an aw," Mary agreed. "Maw's a lang time aff retirement. A bit ay travellin' an' adventurin'll be good craic afore becomin' a lighthouse keeper!"

"Of course we'll come with you, Saylee," Tobias said gently.

"As for me… I think I'll stay here," Valentino confessed. "I like your gramps' dojo a lot, and, uh…"

"Aw, darlin', I'm happy to have you underpaw, you know that," Emilie said, licking his cheek. Valentino smiled for the first time since Patrick's death.

"So get this!" Lucy called, running up to them. "The immigration board's put its foot down—you and your sister have to get gone in the next three days, Blue—but a lot of scientists have been pressuring them to keep your granddad around. Apparently he authored some very influential research back in the day and him still being alive is like Arceus himself walking the earth or something."

"Well, that explains a lot," Blue grumbled. "I hope he'll pressure them to let Daisy stay with him. She's wasted on Kanto. Also, Gramps may be a genius, but he can't cook worth a damn, and he'll starve to death without her."

"She's too good for Kanto, and her brother is…?" Lucy teased.

"A jerk," Saylee said offhand, nudging her boyfriend. "Who evidently hasn't managed to get his Pokémon back from his sister's clutches…"

"She's having fun pampering them," Blue said with a shrug. "She'll probably come after yours soon. Be warned."

Saylee looked around at her Pokémon, then shook her head and looked down at Silver, who was yawning and rubbing his eyes. For a few unguarded moments as he was waking, he looked the most like a little boy, even with burning red-gold eyes. "How're you feeling?"

"Fine," Silver said automatically. "What do you want?"

"Just checking on you," Saylee said with a little smile. "Right now… I don't really know what I want." She sighed. "For the longest time I've just wanted to find my brother… and I have, after a fashion," she said, grinning at Silver when he rolled his eyes at her. "So I guess right now, I want the one I've still got to be okay. Plus, if I can figure out how to help and look after you, I'll be better at helping other avatars in the future. I got Ethan out alive, but I feel like there should have been more I could do for him."

"I'm sure he'll learn a lot at the Sprout Tower," Tobias said encouragingly. "I'm sure the priests will be able to help him control Lugia's temper."

"So you're defo up fae that?" Mary asked. "Yous were pretty pissed about they geisha tellin' you you had to."

"I just… didn't like the feeling that my choices weren't my own," Saylee said softly. "A lot of Pokémon have died fighting for me. I don't know… maybe it would be easier if I could just give up responsibility for that, but… To me, it's worse to think that things are entirely out of my control, that I can't make any sort of difference at all. I mean, it's not all bad. We stopped Team Rocket. Twice. And we got to meet you guys… so long as something positive came out of it, it wasn't for nothing. That's what I've decided to keep in mind…"

"So long as you're not just gonna curl up and cry like you did before, great," Silver said. "…so does that mean you're protecting me because you want to, or because you have to?"

"I have to, because we're related," Saylee said. "We're of the same blood. But I want to, as well, because of our bond. I'll look after you for however long it takes for you not to be afraid anymore, Silver."

"I'm not scared of anything!" Silver said quickly. "…But thanks."

"You're gonna have to explain what 'avatars' are, though," Perun said, peering at Silver.

"And why that boy's soul feels strange," Eric added.

"Sure," Saylee agreed. "We're not just working together as rangers for Kanto's sake. Helping avatars is something that will protect the world, too."

I thought I was going to die on Mt Silver, cold and in pain and so, so alone. Those feelings… Red must have felt them when he died. Even if I couldn't save him… I want to make up for it by making sure that nobody else has to die like that ever again…

"So… avatars," she said at length, looking at Perun and Eric. "Where to begin…"

"It's pretty easy if you're not stupid," Silver said. "D'you guys know what Ho-oh is?"

I still have people and Pokémon that I love, Saylee thought, looking over her cousin, her boyfriend, her brother, her Pokémon. As long as I still have those that I love and that love me, there's something good in my life that's worth moving forwards for.

I will believe that, or else what's the point?



And with that, my SS Nuzlocke and its incredibly ability to spawn plot is over. The plot itself, however, has only just begun. There are a lot more gods out there, and Lugia's not the only one liable to cause havoc…

Coming soon: Calamity Calls, an Emerald nuzlocke played jointly with my best friend and muse, Key-chan!

So, first up, a reply to Mikey, who had some questions but left his reply on guest. In future, if you have questions, please either sign your reviews or leave them on the tumblr, sayleeofkanto! It's much quicker and easier if I can PM replies :) Anyway, unfortunately for Silver, being a newly-minted god means that he can't use much of his power without hurting himself. Ethan mentioned previously that it felt like he could hurt himself just by moving; Silver just can't safely use the power to bring anyone or anything back from the dead. As for Red, he didn't know there was a train line, and even if he did, the cutscene in the game where you use the train shows that it's elevated; basically, it's not the kind of thing that you can climb up onto and walk on, and even if he could, so many sections of it were destroyed or falling apart that it wouldn't have been a safe or viable option. But, as I said, Red didn't know that the old line was there, and he didn't actually know how to get over the mountains; it was an attempt borne of desperation, and he was blundering around lost, and the only reason he didn't die of exposure was that he had his Charizard's protection. Once that cave-in killed Chris… and yes, like Charmander, Squirtle and Bulbasaur lines were both rare, indigenous species that are now all but extinct. There may be one or two living in foreign countries, but if it weren't for the intense level of gene manipulation available, there wouldn't be a viable gene pool. Anyway, even if the ending made you feel sad, I'm glad you've enjoyed these fics :)

Thank you very much to absolutely everyone who has read and reviewed. There are too many of you to list, but know that I love you all very much and you are the reason I keep writing :)

Also, for those who are interested: the vital stats for the very last Pokemon that I acquired in my Pokemon SoulSilver nuzlocke.

Name: Charlotte. Species: Charmander. Nature: Modest. Ability: Blaze. Location: Pallet Town. Level: 5.

Thank you all. It's been so much fun. And it continues :)