Rag Doll, Chapter 32

Well, here we are again. I'm trying to really develop this story, but unfortunately, it must come to a close soon. I'm going to do another time skip or two in here, but we'll see how it turns out. By the way, I'm not really a religious person here, but I think it would be in everybody's best interest if we were all to take a moment to pray for the families of the children and men and women who were killed in the recent Connecticut elementary school murder. Thank you.

Blade's POV

The next eight months were hell. We experienced similar battles to the one we first had with Team Magma and of course there were casualties. This was war, after all. Not everyone skips their way home merrily. And after I watched Stan die in my arms, I was never quite the same, that much I could tell. It used to be I could look at the photos of Jenny and Rose in my locket and I would be able to sleep peacefully. But not anymore. Now every night I just wished that my torture would end, one way or another. Then I would catch myself and say

"I must get back home. My wife needs her husband, my daughter needs her father, and I need them both, so badly right now. And I have a promise to fulfill to Stan, to look after Sarah and their child. I must get through this; I must survive."

And I did, but painfully. Almost every day now involved at least two battles. Team Magma was far larger than I had first taken. And by the news we received, the faction fighting against Team Aqua was faring the same as us. At least Darkrai was still kicking, otherwise I would lose it. I had later learned that Drake had joined in the fray with us before, but during the last battle he was hit with a Blast Burn from a Team Magma Blaziken that managed to take out several more of my allies in the process.

Kind, enigmatic Drake, gone. The first friend Rose and I had made since we left the society, who cared for us, helped us, and even shared his dark story with us. I was praying every night now for a speedy end to this war, and to survive so I could at least see my beautiful wife and child. Suddenly, I heard the call for attention, and I figured it was some more news about the other faction and their progress against Team Aqua. We gathered in the clearing on Mt. Chimney, since we managed to take the top of it. We were descending slowly, taking down grunts and the Magma army as we went. Sometimes we even caught a glimpse of an Admin, which was surprising. Usually, they were holed up in their hideout, observing things from there. We all arrived and waited. Finally, Darkrai and Latios walked to the middle of the platform that was set up so they could be seen. This was a matter that I had debated with Darkrai over; couldn't they levitate? But Darkrai avoided the matter, and eventually I just let it drop.

"Thank you. Now then," Latios started "We have received heartening news as of late. The current situation regarding the other faction pitted against Aqua is progressing at a rapid rate. They have infiltrated the Aqua's base. Given that their defenses are not as well prepared as Magma's, this is to be expected. Further, the humans have decided that since the Aqua faction's mission is going well, the main of their force is being directed to help us."

As he finished this statement, my fellow troops looked at each other in astonishment. What exactly did that mean for us?
"With this help, the threat of Magma will be subdued ahead of schedule. They will not be joining us directly. Instead they are directly attacking the Admins, and even the boss. This means that the chances of us being subdued by means of human technology are substantially reduced. With this help, we can put the last of the Magma forces down for good, and then we may return home."

Everyone began cheering loudly, ecstatic at the prospects of going home. Finally, I could see Rose and Jenny, and Cresselia. I could return to the force, my calling. This horrific nightmare would finally be at an end.

"For now, your orders are to return to your beds, or what have you, and rest up for the final battle tomorrow. It will be the end of Magma, the end of this war, and the beginning of peace once again."

In high spirits, everyone returned to their "quarters". I went back to my tree, and when I settled into my branch, I let the tears of joy flow free. Wiping my eyes ten minutes later so I could see, I reached for my locket and popped it open. I knew I would be able to sleep soundly tonight, since I would refuse to fall tomorrow and return home in relative safety. Gently closing my locket and hanging back around my neck, I sat back against the cool trunk and rested my eyes, imagining the happiness that would follow tomorrow's victory.

"Good night, Rose. Good night, Jenny. Soon, we will be back, and our family will be whole once more."

Then I relaxed my body, and sleep followed shortly after.

Rose's POV

Things had been rough on us, considering that Sarah wasn't feeling in top shape. We managed to convince her to keep going, to raise her child, and to provide him with the care and attention he needed. Once she finally shaped up, she was almost normal, but there was a lingering sadness over her that never seemed to completely disappear.

Nevertheless, Cressie and I were in very high spirits. When Sarah wasn't around, Arceus popped in for a visit himself. He reported to us that the fighting was almost over; there were only a few more battles to go. He also let us know that Darkrai and Blade were still alive. This did more for Cressie and me in one night than we have been for this entire time. We asked why he hadn't told us earlier so our burdens could have been eased. His response sobered us up pretty well.

"How would you feel if I told you they were still alive, then only a couple days later, you receive notes saying they had fought bravely but fell in the line of duty? I chose to reveal this now because the fighting is very well over, there is only one last battle for them to face. I cannot guarantee their safety in this last brawl, but I do know that they have vowed to survive so they may return to you. It will take a while for them, and what's left of their faction, to return. But I promise that when they do, you two will be more helpful to them than you could possibly imagine."

With that, Arceus left us with his report, making us feel more relieved than we have in a while. Cressie insisted that she return home so she could make things more presentable for Darkrai when he returned. I decided to do the same for Blade. But this meant that I had to have a small chat with Jenny. I didn't want Blade to know that she only evolved because she accepted that she might lose her father.

Blade's POV

When we woke up, we all were anxious to get the last battle out of the way. We ate a small breakfast so as not to slow ourselves down when the fighting ensued. When we finished breakfast, the troops took to the tree line and set out for the Magma base. I was teamed up with Darkrai and two more pokemon, a Machamp and an Alakazam. We were one of the front-liners since we were the more experienced battlers. Latios was staying behind to plan the strategy. As we had learned before, war can have many turning points, and Latios had a knack for choosing the best way to deal with any sudden change.

We crept along, keeping alert for any sudden changes. I had a direct psychic link with Latios. It didn't really make either of us happy, but I realized it was necessary. So we kept in touch while we were stalking. It was understood that I wouldn't be able to keep up the link while I was in the middle of fighting, but hopefully I would only have to fight for a short time.

Finally, we reached the Magma's base. It really didn't take long to get there, but we were trying to be extra sneaky so as to catch them by surprise. It seemed that the humans had done their job well. When we arrived, there was a severe shortage of grunts, which made it far easier to beat them. Their pokemon army was drastically reduced, thanks to our efforts on the battlefield. It was easy to see that this wouldn't last long. But in my mind, it would still be too long.

Soon we were engrossed into the fight, one that was different from the rest. These pokemon who had willingly joined were fighting rather desperately. They knew they were Magma's last line of defense; if they failed, Magma would be through. So they fought bravely, but it was all in vain. We managed to destroy them, the final line before we could take the boss. Suddenly I heard Latios back inside my head saying

"Let the troops know they can leave now. The humans defeated the boss, who wasn't in that base in the first place, and he has officially declared Team Magma disbanded."

"What about Aqua? What is the news on that?" I asked.

"Funny thing you should ask," answered Latios "There was apparently a truce going on between the two leaders. Evidently, the Hoenn League got caught up in this affair, and they decided to intervene. Both teams are disbanded, so everyone is now preparing to go home. I'll see you back at the camp" Latios said, ending the contact. Darkrai noticed my posture for a while, but waited until I was finished before asking

"So, what's the news?"

Looking up, I said excitedly

"Both Aqua and Magma have been disbanded! Apparently, the Hoenn League got involved, and today both of the bosses have agreed on a truce. They gave up the Red and Blue Orbs. Now we can leave this hell-hole and go home. We can return to Cresselia and Rose."

Darkrai's eyes shone with tears, but they were tears of joy. We went back to camp, and then waited for Palkia. She was going to the trouble of returning foreign members back to their original cities, or at least close to them. First, though, we received a visit from Arceus, who thanked us for our brave and valiant efforts to rid the land of the threats that would have consumed the world if not stopped. Then Palkia opened a pink and black portal, but I didn't recognize the area. A group of pokemon I didn't know very well stepped up and disappeared. Then Palkia closed the portal and opened a new one. This I recognized. It was Dream City, in all of its glory, and all of the happy memories returned to me as I beheld its image.

The group that came from Dream City, including Darkrai, stood and entered it. After a brief spell of disorientation, my feet came to rest on a spot I recognized. It was different due to time, but the placing hadn't changed. This was where Rose collapsed after running to the city in her excitement, and the place where I promised her we would start the family she so wanted. The memory brought tears to my eyes, and I couldn't hold out anymore, I ran toward the city. I kept going, not wanting to stop, or even slow down until I reached the mouth of the city, where all my happiness lay. I could tell I wasn't the only one. I heard a multitude of cheers behind me, and even the sound of others running behind me.

When we reached the mouth of the city, we all stopped to look briefly inside, now filled with some trepidation. The city hadn't changed at all, but we had. Drastically. Would they even recognize us anymore? Then I put my fears aside and stepped in, soon followed by my comrades.

Rose's POV

The day for the return of the troops had finally arrived. They weren't expected until around midday, and school had been canceled for the day so children could see the return of their fathers, if they had survived, that is. But since Arceus hadn't given me news about either Blade surviving or dying, I assumed he survived and would be returning to us shortly. Jenny and I eagerly inspected the house, making sure nothing was out of place. Then we made a big lunch to welcome Blade when he returned home. When it was about eleven-thirty, Jenny and I had made the final preparations, and then we left the house, making sure the door was closed tight. Cressie was waiting for us outside, eager as us for the return of our city's proud husbands and fathers.

Upon arriving, we saw no one yet. Then again, we still had about ten minutes before they were to arrive. Cressie and I began some light conversations, and Jenny sometimes joined in, but for the most part she kept to herself and intently watched the gates of the city.

After about five minutes, we heard faint cheering, and about thirty seconds later the sound of multiple footfalls. Cressie and I slowly stood, believing these sounds only meant one thing. Then we saw them. We saw the men stop at the gate and gaze upon the city that they had surely missed for the past year. Then a lone figure took the first step, and I recognized the figure as my husband. Jenny yanked her hand out of mine and ran pell-mell at her father. The tears came to my eyes before I could stop them, and when I turned to look at Cressie, I saw the same was true for her. We slowly followed my daughter, happiness infusing us with every step we took, glad that this nightmare was over at last.

Blade's POV

I only took a few steps into the city when I heard a little girl's voice shout out

"Daddy!"

I quickly turned and saw a little Kirlia running right at me. I didn't even question whether or not she was my daughter; I knew she was. At the same time, I was sad that I had missed the day of my daughter's evolution, but I would make up for that. I knelt down and opened my arms to her, and when she was still five feet away, she jumped and landed right in my arms. We embraced each other strongly, putting all of our pain into the hug, all the regrets we had about the circumstances. Then I stood gently, still carrying her within my hug. I could hear her silently sobbing, and I knew that I was doing the same. Then I heard another voice call out to me.

"Blade!"

Upon looking up, I could see my beautiful wife walking up to me, alongside Cresselia. Both had tears streaming down their faces, and I walked forward to meet them. Then Darkrai came up beside me, and he draped an arm over my shoulder. We continued on until we met up with Rose and Cresselia, and without a word, we pulled each other into a group hug. We remained like this for about ten minutes, and when we finally broke apart, Rose and I kissed, which brought back all the extraordinary pleasures in my mind, and I felt that I could have lived like this forever. When we broke apart, Rose looked me up and down, then asked

"Where did you get the scarf?"

Setting Jenny down, I gently tugged the scarf off my neck and replied

"It was Stan's. About a week after we left, we made a bro pact for our belongings to be returned to our loved ones should the worst happen. I promised him that I would return this scarf to Sarah if he fell in battle. I want to also give her my condolences, but I'm not sure how it would work out."

"Well, I'll accept both, if you feel it necessary" a soft voice told me.

I whirled around and was faced with a Lopunny who was holding a young Riolu in her arms. After a second, I recognized her.

"Sarah" I said, my breath catching in my throat.

She nodded sadly, and seemed to expect something of me. Walking slowly up to her, I held out Stan's scarf and said

"Stan asked me… if he were to fall, he wanted me to return this to you. He told me the story behind it. I am very sorry. I wish I could have gotten there sooner, but I was just too late."

We both had tears in our eyes, then she gently took the scarf from my hands and held it to her face, the tears escaping. Then she looked up at me and said only two words before turning and leaving.

"Thank you."

Then we finally went home ourselves and enjoyed a big meal, which I haven't had in so long. Soon we all fell to talking, mostly Cresselia and Rose telling us about events while we were gone. Eventually, night came. Cresselia and Darkrai left for their own homes, and after putting Jenny to bed, Rose and I slowly made our way up to our bedroom, Rose telling me with her mind how lonely she had been without me. We were all emotionally drained, so we fell asleep very quickly.

Several hours later.

BAM!

The sound woke me suddenly, and I could see myself in the middle of a battle, one to the death between me and the Magma's. I guess I had been knocked unconscious for a short time, but I was fully awake now. I jumped up and drew my blades, ready for any onslaught. I quickly charged and fired a Psycho Cut, creating a large crashing sound.

"Blade, what are you doing?!" I could hear a strange, somewhat feminine voice scream behind me.

I turned to look at the owner of the voice, but my vision was a bit blurry. The form of the speaker wasn't fully focused, but that didn't matter right now. I quickly said

"Come on, get up! The Magma scum will be here any second, we need to move now!"

"Blade, what are you talking about?! Team Magma isn't here!"

I scoffed, the turned and readied another Psycho Cut to strike the enemy that my comrade couldn't see. I couldn't see them much either, but I knew they were around. I felt a presence in my mind, and I thought it was Latios. I shouted

"Hurry, send reinforcements! I think they've penetrated the front guard!"

The presence disappeared from my mind, then the blurry figure jumped and ran up to me. The figure grabbed me by the head and softly said

"Come back to me, Blade. Please."

Then I felt a kiss on my lips, and I was disoriented for a second. I broke away and violently shook my head, and the field finally came into focus. It was actually a room… my room. And the figure that had been blurry before fully materialized into my wife. I stood there, stunned for a second, then asked Rose

"What happened? Where am I?"

Rose's POV

I went to bed for the first time in a year, warmed by the presence of my husband. I had gently fallen asleep, thinking of all the things we could enjoy tomorrow, now that we were back together at last. Several hours later though, I was woken suddenly by the sounds of something crashing and breaking. I jolted up, looking at the clock, which said almost two in the morning. I looked over at where Blade was and realized he was standing, and had even fired an attack at a dresser, splintering it apart.

"Blade, what are you doing?!" I shouted at him. He turned to me and squinted for a second, then said

"Come on, get up! The Magma scum will be here any second, we need to move now!"

Confused, I asked

"Blade, what are you talking about?! Team Magma isn't here!"

He scoffed and turned his back to me. His right blade began to glow purple, and I recognized it as a Psycho Cut. I quickly delved into his mind to figure out what was going on. When I opened my mind's eye, I could see he was in a completely different world. Then I heard him shout at me

"Hurry, send reinforcements! I think they've penetrated the front guard!"

Then I knew he was suffering, but from what I couldn't tell. I jumped up and ran over to him, grabbed his head and softly said

"Come back to me, Blade. Please."

Then I kissed him, hoping to break whatever spell he was under. He jerked back and shook his head violently. Then he focused on me and asked

"What happened? Where am I?"

We later learned that Blade was suffering from a condition known as Post-Traumatic War Syndrome, more commonly known as Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Blade was broken on the inside. Now he would suffer from horrible nightmares every night, and not even Cressie's abilities could counter it. She had never understood why this was the case, but she had sadly informed us that there was nothing she could do beyond her normal powers, which didn't make a dent in Blade's horrific nightmares. But he vowed that he would see things through to the end. Our little daughter grew up into a beautiful Gardevoir, found a mate and left the house, which left me with Empty Nest Syndrome. But no matter what we would suffer, Blade and I promised each other that we could, we would, get through it together.

Okay, and with that, I hereby end this story. I felt that it had been dragging on long enough, plus I have request to continue my other story, The Absol's Curse. Please tell me what you thought of this final chapter, and I hope to see you all for my next story!