Chapter 110 – Welcome Back!

Last time on "Tale of a Legend"…

Thrin arrived at Dragonspiral Tower, and was offered an alliance between her and Team Plasma by none other than N himself. But she refused, and an unknown fate befell her as a result. Meanwhile, Volan and his newly-enlarged group encountered Cedric Juniper at the base of Dragonspiral Tower, and climbed it to find a large group of Plasmas waiting there. During the clash, Volan traveled to the pinnacle, where he met N and Zekrom! Now, he had to win a three-on-three battle with N in order to get his dear Pokemon back…

-.-.-.-.

"There are too many of them, wot wot?" worried Professor Scatterly.

"Nonsense!" Alder boomed. "If we and our Pokemon worth together, than we can down even a hundred foes!"

The group was essentially waging war against the twenty Plasmas they were faced with. Their Pokemon were all bunched up together as they swept through wave after wave of enemy Pokemon. Although the Plasmas had a definite advantage in numbers, the quality of their (barely) trained Pokemon was pretty pathetic. Their strategy wasn't anything elaborate, either – they seemed more able to overwhelm the gang under the sheer might of numbers than to diligently fight in a fair battle with them.

Which they were currently doing a good job of.

"We can't let ourselves give up hope!" Bianca told her friends. "Servine, get them with Leaf Blade!"

"Ser Servine!" replied the Grass-type, spinning elegantly and knocking away two Scraggy with her glowing tail.

"Water Gun, Quip!" yelled Will, who was currently trying to hold his own against three Plasmas. "Rapid fire on those Watchog!"

"Toto toto toto!" sang the Totodile, having a lot of fun blasting rodents away from him and his Trainer.

The Pokemon were dropping like flies, and luckily, none of them belonged to the gang. But still, the Plasmas only kept on coming.

Frustrated, Stephan momentarily stopped giving his Sawk commands in favor of glancing at Cedric Juniper. "Can't you do anything to help? We need all the power we can get!"

"I-I'm sorry, young man," the professor stammered, holding up his hands apologetically. "I don't have any Pokemon on me!"

Sighing, Stephan muttered, "That's fine, then. Sawk and I can hold our own. Brick Break, Sawk!"

The blue warrior worked himself into a frenzy, charging forward to meet a squad of Sneasel with a mighty battle cry of "SAWWWWWK!" His glowing fists were nothing but white blurs as they moved, shooting out too fast for his foes to see. A Sneasel was knocked out cold with each blinding jab.

Right as the Karate Pokemon finished, a pair of Golbat swooped down from nowhere. The first Golbat's Wing Attack smashed into Sawk's chest and sent him stumbling backwards, and then the second Golbat hit him in the back with its own Wing Attack. It was enough to bring Sawk crashing to the ground face-first.

"Unfair!" shouted Stephan.

Alder came to the boy's rescue upon seeing his dilemma. "Braviary, scatter those Golbat with Whirlwind!"

"Braaaaaay!" screeched Braviary, sending its Krokorok opponent flying with a powerful Slash. Rising into the air, it turned toward the Golbat duo that were ganging up on Sawk and flapped its wings furiously. A huge gust was kicked up, one that tore across the battlefield and blew the Poison-and-Flying-types into a wall, knocking them senseless.

"I don't know how much more of this we can keep up!" exclaimed Will, concerned. "These Plasmas aren't going to let up soon, and we only have so many Pokemon with us."

"Fret not, old bean!" said Professor Scatterly. He shouted another command to his Excadrill, then went on, "We only have to keep this up for a few moments more. Volan will be back, and he will lend his assistance in sending these Team Plasma chaps away for good!"

Wincing as her Servine was dealt a terrible blow, Bianca raised her head to gaze up at the ceiling, as if trying to see through it and witness how Volan was faring with N. "What's taking him so long?"

If only she knew…

-.-.-.-.-.

"Boldore, my friend, I need you!" cried N, and tossed a Poke Ball.

"Mistral, no mercy!" replied Volan, fiercely.

There was two individual flashes of light, and their Pokemon coalesced on the ancient platform that would serve as their battlefield. Mistral hovered on Volan's side with a menacing smile, and a stout crab-like thing studded with red crystals appeared at N's calling.

What was obviously a Rock-type was unfamiliar to Volan, and he scanned it with his Pokedex. "Boldore, the Ore Pokemon, and the evolved form of Roggenrola. When it overflows with power, the crystals on its body glow. They were originally formed when the energy within it was too great to be contained. Boldore look for underground water in caves, and tend to always face the same way, moving front to back and left to right. This specimen is a male with the Sturdy ability and the attacks Rock Blast, Iron Defense, Power Gem, and Headbutt."

If it is a rock, an inanimate object, Volan wondered, how could it be classified as being male or female? I knew for a long time they could reproduce, but still…

He shrugged. Ghost-types weren't the only Pokemon that were weird in a biological sense.

"Start this off with Rock Blast, Boldore!" N commanded.

"Dore!" replied Boldore, his central crest glowing grey with a white outline. Taking aim, he fired blasts of solid-looking energy at Mistral.

"Avoid it, then use Inferno!" said Volan.

"Magius," murmured Mistral, effortlessly floating around each blast. Igniting a pair of indigo fireballs from thin air, she artfully spun them around the brim of her hat before launching them.

With her evolution came even greater willpower, and both Infernos struck their target. Boldore stumbled backwards and hit the ground, then got to his feet and scuttled into his original position. However, a blue flame could be seen burning on his dark navy shell, showing that he had been burnt and his health would be continually whittled away.

N nodded approval at Volan's strategy. "Very clever," he remarked, "but it will not save you. Boldore, get in close with Headbutt!"

"Dore Boldore!" the Rock-type rumbled, and charged forward with his head lowered.

Not knowing what N was planning, Volan instead knew that he couldn't take any chances. "Dodge that as well, Mistral! Don't let him get any closer."

Mistral nodded and smirked her crooked smile, hovering out of reach each time Boldore thrust his head close to her. On the third attack, the Ore Pokemon's Headbutt was so violent that he tripped and fell on his face.

"Pick him up and throw him with Psychic!" Volan ordered.

"Magi magius," Mistral chanted, her yellow eyes taking on a light blue glow. She telekinetically lifted the heavy Boldore off of the ground and flung him across the battlefield, allowing him to strike a stray pillar and have it crumble on top of him.

Aghast, N wailed, "Power Gem!"

The pile of debris shook, and a soft orange light shone through the gaps – and then everything was blown outwards and away as Boldore shot a brilliant beam from the geode on its face.

"Shadow Ball, go!" yelled Volan.

"Mismagius!" replied Mistral, and formed a dark orb with a white core in between her tendrils. She hurled it with the strength of her will, sending it flying directly into the beam and splitting it apart as it flew onwards.

"D-Dore?" said Boldore, shocked that his Power Gem was having no effect, right before Mistral's Shadow Ball plowed into him. Although he got up after being hurled to the ground by the force of the resultant explosion, it was hard when the burning flame stuck to him persisted in draining his strength.

"Iron Defense, Boldore!" N called.

"Mistral, use Screech!" retorted Volan.

The Rock-type responded to his master's cry by concentrating greatly, working on building up his body's defenses until his rock-hard shell became steel-hard. Mistral, however, wasn't about to let that happen, and she tore through his concentration with a mind-rending wail that caused cracks to form in the pillars lining the platform.

Now I know what they mean when they say her voice causes headaches, thought Volan, clamping his hands over his ears to no avail. Not that it didn't as a Misdreavus.

By now, Boldore was really struggling. The combination of raw damage, Mistral's shrieking, and the burn afflicting him were adding up little by little. It wouldn't be long before he fell.

"Let us wrap this up, Mistral," Volan advised. "Use Psychic!"

Desperately, N pleaded for the Ore Pokemon to get up, but it did no good. Mistral's wave of psychic energy was on its way before Boldore could react, and it swept dust, rocks, and the Rock-type himself off of the ground in its wake. Some distance away, Boldore lost momentum and crashed to the ground, unmoving.

Volan took a breath and let it out slowly. One down, two more to go.

"You did well, dear Boldore," N murmured, drawing the unconscious golem into his Poke Ball. "Now, we will let another friend fight for our ideals. Simipour, go!"

He hurled another capsule, which opened to reveal what looked like a larger version of Bianca's Panpour. It had long blue dreadlocks and a long tail, while a curtain of cerulean fur seemed to cascade over its chest and torso. Eyes permanently closed, it waved cheerily at Volan and Mistral.

"Simipour, the Geyser Pokemon, and the evolved form of Panpour," stated Volan's Pokedex. It wasn't often that he needed to use it twice in one battle, but this was one of those times. "Preferring places with clean water, it siphons up the nourishment it needs through its long tail. Any water it absorbs is stored in the tufts on its head. When attacked, it can defend itself by releasing this water back through its tail at high pressure, with sufficient force to destroy a concrete wall. This young male possesses the Gluttony ability, and knows the attacks Lick, Fury Swipes, Leer, and Scald."

Putting away the encyclopedia, Volan told Mistral, "Come back for now. Ulna will be able to take over from here."

At a nod from the sorceress Pokemon, he procured her Poke Ball and recalled her. He reached back into his pocket to put it away, and slid his fingers toward Ulna's…

… and he jumped almost a foot in the air when a loud popping sound and a flash of light occurred, releasing Sapphire onto the battlefield with a happy gurgle and curtsey.

"Again?" he asked. "I was going to summon Ulna!"

But she wasn't listening to him. Rather, she was more interested in her opponent, if the winking and seductive crooning was any indication.

"Oh, not this again…" Volan muttered. "Sapphire, get your tentacles away from that poor monkey and help me out, please!"

"Friiiiill," giggled Sapphire, with one last wink at Simipour. "I'm not done with you yet, dearest~."

It was hard to say who looked more freaked out – Simipour or N. Either way, Volan found both of their expressions priceless.

"Start things off with Absorb, Sapphire!" he cried.

"Frillish frill!" she snickered, lunging at her foe.

"Use Leer to keep her away!" said N.

Although Simipour had his eyes closed, that didn't make his Leer any less intimidating. His face darkening and his teeth bared in a snarl, it was successful in frightening away Sapphire and keeping her deadly arms at bay.

"Fine, we'll just attack indirectly," Volan huffed. "Use Night Shade!"

Sapphire responded to his command instantly, rushing toward Simipour yet again while sending black waves radiating out in front of her. They struck the Water-type painfully and sent him stumbling back in pain.

"Block out the pain!" wailed N, desperation prevalent in his voice. "Get her back with Lick!"

"Simi Simipour!" chirped the Geyser Pokemon, lunging forward at Sapphire and momentarily breaking free of the agonizing claws that she gripped his mind with. His tongue hanging from his mouth, he quickly darted forward and gave her a long lick across the face, at which the Frillish recoiled and retreated away, visibly shuddering in revulsion.

Volan closely observed Sapphire for any signs of paralysis – thank goodness, she didn't seem to be paralyzed. He shouted to her, "Sapphire, attack with another Night Shade, then Constrict!"

Bubbling affirmatively, she obeyed. Once again, her eyes took on that familiar crimson hue as she shot forth more dark waves of energy at Simipour. When the simian flinched and clutched at his head, she halted her attack just as quickly as she had started it, and tightly wrapped her tentacles around him in a suffocating, immobilizing embrace.

"Friiiiillish," Sapphire gurgled mischievously. "Told you I wasn't finished with you."

"P-Pour… L-Let go…" replied Simipour, fighting with his own rapidly-freezing face muscles in order to get the words out.

"Now, Water Spout!" ordered Volan.

Arms still securely binding her prisoner, Sapphire's body took on a sea-blue aura that intensified until it could strengthen no more. An instant later, a geyser tore out of the stones beneath their feet and engulfed them with a mighty roar. When it faded shortly thereafter, Sapphire released Simipour and twirled away, happy as could be, while the Water-type slumped to the ground in exhaustion.

"Please get up, Simipour!" N cried. "You must fight back and use Scald!"

Hopping to his feet with new courage, Simipour let out a shrieking battle cry and blasted forth a stream of boiling-hot water from his tail, which struck Sapphire right in the chest. To his and N's utter shock, though, its effects were absolutely nil. The attack didn't even faze her.

"Did I mention that she has the Water Absorb ability?" Volan asked snidely.

"Very well," the Plasma King conceded. "Then we shall keep it up with Lick! Go, Simipour!"

"Simi simi simi!" grunted Simipour, repeatedly as he raced along the debris-strewn terrain at his opponent.

"Block his progress with Water Spout!" Volan commanded.

"Friiiiiill!" cried Sapphire. Glowing blue once again, she summoned a geyser twice as wide as the last one, which exploded up through the floor in front of Simipour. He skidded to a halt right before he would have hit the spout and been flung into the air by its force.

"Absorb, now!" said Volan.

N gritted his teeth. "Get ready, Simipour!" he advised. "She'll come from your left or your right!"

Unfortunately, he hadn't expected her to burst right through the geyser and attack Simipour head-on. Which she did.

Sapphire's malefic tentacles entangled the hapless monkey Pokemon and sucked away his energy with almost terrifying swiftness. One second, he was thrashing in his attempt to break free of her grip – the next, he was dangling limply in her arms, totally reliant on her to keep him from crashing to the ground.

The Water Spout finally died down, allowing Volan to see the battlefield clearly again. "Let him go, Sapphire. We've won. There's no need to keep him hanging like that."

Head bowed, N reabsorbed Simipour into his Poke Ball and stared at it for what seemed like forever. He pocketed it at last, and drew his final capsule. Across the platform, Volan did the same after congratulating Sapphire on a job well done.

"Show no mercy, Ulna!" he shouted, hurling his Poke Ball. "Today's the day we get my Pokemon back!"

"Zoroark, oppose them!" responded N, and tossed his Poke Ball to meet Volan's.

The Gurei boy's eye twitched involuntarily upon seeing the demonic fox-like Pokemon appear across from Ulna, a sadistic smirk on its pointy face as it chuckled darkly to itself. He knew what a Zoroark was capable of – it was the most powerful and infamous of all Unovan Dark-types. Ulna knew this as well, but refused to be unnerved, and spread her wings with a horrific, defiant scream.

"We'll start this last round," N murmured. "Zoroark, use Flamethrower!"

"Heh heh!" the illusory Pokemon replied, and spat out a stream of orange-red flames.

An idea popped into Volan's head, but it was a long shot. Still, anything to keep Ulna away from that powerful fire. Raising his voice to be heard over the hiss and crackle of the flames, he yelled, "Use Bone Rush and spin it in front of you!"

Understanding immediately, Ulna rose into the air and remained at a hover directly in the Flamethrower's path. She readied her bone stave with both talons, and at the moment the flames would have seared her, she spun it until it was a mere blur. Incredibly, the spinning motion of the staff was enough to keep the fire at bay.

"Bone Rush right at Zoroark!" Volan said, amazed that his strategy had worked.

"Buuuuuzz!" shrieked Ulna, and flew right at her target, staff at the ready.

At first unable to react, N quickly recovered and shouted, "Dodge using Agility!"

Zoroark took off so fast that Volan couldn't even see it. Not even Ulna's sharp Flying-type eyes could follow the Illusion Fox's movements – until it reappeared right in front of her, its smirk only growing wider.

"Dark Pulse!" yelled N.

"Heh!" chuckled Zoroark, then launched a beam of roiling dark energy directly into Ulna's midsection. She flew backwards into a pillar, pushed by the beam's incredible strength.

"Can you continue, Ulna?" asked Volan, voice a little tremulous.

"M-Mandibuzz," she answered, getting to her feet with only a small amount of effort.

"That's my girl," her Trainer replied with a smile. "Get in close with Feint Attack!"

Ulna let out a fearsome squawk and charged at Zoroark, only to vanish practically the instant she did so. Confused, Zoroark looked around in bewilderment, not noticing Ulna reappear behind him, prepared to attack.

"Bone Rush!" Volan finished.

The bone staff was in her claws again in an instant, and was used to bash Zoroark over the head. His lush, wild mane definitely wasn't as good a shock absorber as it looked, as he howled with pain and dropped to his knees. It was more the surprise than the force that drove him down.

But Volan was willing to take it. "Another Bone Rush! Give it to him!"

"Buuuuuuzz!" Ulna shrieked, rushing forward again with her Bone Rush.

"Turn around and use Scary Face!" the Plasma King called.

Acting instantly, Zoroark whipped around and released a frightening illusion of his face right into Ulna's. The scary sight accompanied by the hollow roar terrified the Bone Vulture Pokemon into backing away to a safer distance.

"Excellent!" enthused N. "Now Zoroark, use Flamethrower again!"

"Heh heh heh!" the Dark-type snickered, then let loose with another stream of flames with a tremendous whooshing sound.

Volan let out a whoosh of his own as he breathed out, hoping that this next maneuver would work as well as the first. "Ulna, dodge, then circle around to gain momentum and use Brave Bird!"

Fortunately, it worked. Ulna flew up into the air and managed to coast around the fringes of the crackling flames before they could reach her. She then soared high, almost to the ceiling far, far above them, and folded her wings and began a power dive toward the shocked Zoroark. A blazing indigo aura swaddled her in its painful wrappings, but she paid no attention to it as she streaked down toward what would be her inevitable point of impact. Zoroark used Dark Pulse on N's urging, but the shadowy beam did nothing to stop her.

Like a meteor, she slammed into Zoroark and punched a huge crater into the platform on which they stood. Thank goodness the stones making up the platform seemed to be thick, because they didn't break through it and fall down to the floor beneath.

Ulna managed to soar out of the cloud of dust that was thrown into the air, although she staggered on her way back toward her master as blue bolts danced around her, the aftermath of such a powerful attack.

"You look terrible," Volan commented, wincing. "I could heal you with Roost, but you need every advantage you can get against a foe like Zoroark, and remaining grounded definitely wouldn't help. Mistral will be able to take it from here."

"Buzz," the Dark-and-Flying-type squawked hoarsely, thankful.

But as Volan drew Ulna's Poke Ball back out from his pocket, he was in for a less than pleasant surprise.

"You're forfeiting?" inquired N, tilting his head.

"What?" the Gurei asked, wondering if he had misheard. "No, merely recalling Ulna due to the bad condition she's in. This is a three-on-three battle, after all."

"So?" the other replied, genuinely bemused.

"Official Pokemon League rules state that a Pokemon battle isn't over until all of one Trainer's Pokemon are unable to battle," Volan informed him. "Mistral and Sapphire are still battle-ready, so I can switch to them if needed."

N, though, shook his head. "I'm opposed to the Pokemon League and its brutish, barbaric ways. And even if I wasn't, this still isn't what you call an 'official' battle. I say that if you recall a Pokemon, you're effectively throwing in the towel."

Volan gritted his teeth so hard that he almost shattered them. "I hate you so much," he growled. "Sorry, Ulna, but it looks like we'll have to keep it up."

It was then that, from the corner of his eye, he detected what was the tiniest of motions coming from N's bag, left on the floor beside the Plasma.

Thinking nothing of it for now, Volan ordered Ulna to use Bone Rush, while N commanded Zoroark to use Flamethrower. Both attacks met, but Ulna spun her stave again so that the flames were repelled away from her as she slowly but surely advanced through the inferno. Zoroark didn't give up with his assault, but he only tired himself out. Close enough to strike, the Mandibuzz swatted him a fair distance across the battlefield with her weapon.

"Dark Pulse again, and give it your all!" shouted N, his voice cracking slightly.

Successfully, Ulna swerved around the beam, but this time, she placed someone far more vulnerable at risk – Volan himself! Right in the path of the destructive blast, the Gurei boy was frozen to the spot with fear as the purple-black energies shot toward him. He squeezed his eyes shut.

There was a sudden noise of such volume that drowned out the Dark Pulse a little. It was that of a Poke Ball opening and spilling its contents onto the field with the familiar blue light. But Volan had his eyes closed as he waited for the impact and the pain, so he couldn't tell for sure.

"KRAWWWK-ORAWWWWWK!"

Now, Volan just couldn't believe his ears.

An explosion occurred so close to him that he felt his ears pop, and the shockwave push him back a couple of inches. He opened his eyes, and instantly saw the Krokorok taking its arms away from its snout, having used them to block the Dark Pulse from reaching Volan – its Trainer.

It was Rudy!

"Krawk," Rudy said smugly, folding his arms confidently in typical fashion.

More sounds came to Volan's awareness, and beams of light emerged from N's bag and Volan's pockets, arcing across the battlefield to his side. One by one, Pokemon appeared, all of them familiar and all of them a sight for Volan's sore eyes.

"Gar-BODOR!" bellowed Grunge, raising his pipe-like arms and stomping up to Rudy's side.

"Seismitooooad," croaked Rickie, lumbering over to his comrades and holding his fists in front of him in a battle pose.

"AAAA-ken!" shrilled Petrie, hopping up and down in an effort to look as intimidating as the bigger Pokemon that flanked him.

"Friiiill!" bubbled Sapphire, doing a fancy twirl before looking curiously at the Pokemon she had joined with.

"Magius," chanted Mistral, not bothering to do the same but willing to work with the unusual creatures around her regardless.

"Mandi Mandibuzz!" cawed Ulna, standing by their side as well and seemingly shaking off the damage she had attained during the battle.

And finally…

"Trrrranquill!" warbled Bernice, carving a perfect turn in the air above them all and positioning herself at their head at a steady hover.

Volan's heart soared, and tears sprang to his eyes. "Everyone…"

"Trrrrraaaaan… Ready…" said Bernice, preparing to give the signal.

All of the Pokemon picked up on her cue. Attacks of all kinds were charged and held ready, aimed squarely at the thunderstruck Zoroark as they waited to unleash them.

"QUILL!" Bernice cried. "FIRE!"

Shadow Ball, Mud Shot, Solarbeam, Night Shade, and Dragonbreath flew toward their collective enemy in perfect unison. Rudy and Ulna kept up with them as they rumbled forward with their Thunder Fang and Brave Bird attacks. Zoroark never stood a chance – and as N's completely dumbfounded expression indicated, he knew that very well indeed.

It was Bernice that struck the blow that finished it all. Rearing her wings back and suffusing them with a bright white glow, she snapped them forward and released two blades of green energy that whirled at a speed rivalling that of all her comrades' attacks, meeting their target at the exact same time they did.

"Air Slash…" murmured Volan. He was in awe of the display, and how easily it had defeated Zoroark.

N took a while to find his voice – indeed, to take any action at all. It was only after a solid two minutes had passed did he raise his arm to call Zoroark back into its Poke Ball. And when he did speak, it was in a voice surprisingly devoid of shock, or surprise, or really any emotion at all.

"I suppose there's no more reason for me to fight," he murmured. "You have what you came for. You didn't simply get your Pokemon back – they came back to you. They wanted to be with you again so badly that they pitched in to make sure I was defeated."

Volan was too overcome to respond in that moment. He knew that N was correct, somehow, and was touched by his Pokemon coming to his timely – well, not rescue, but he was pleased nonetheless.

He looked over each of them in turn, pride welling up in his heart for every last one – Bernice most of all, then Grunge, Rudy, Petrie, Mistral, Rickie, Sapphire, Ulna, and…

Hang on.

Hang. On.

Petromyzon?

"Where is he?" Volan whispered.

Unable to hear, N cupped a hand to his ear and asked, "Come again?"

Voice rapidly increasing in volume as well as hostility, Volan repeated in a low growl, "Where is he?"

The Plasma King thought for a little before deciding to answer. He said with a shrug, "Well, I suppose I should tell you. You see, Petromyzon was uncomfortable with being stuck in a Poke Ball and being forced to obey your commands. He didn't think very highly of you in the first place, in fact. That is why I took pity on his misery and released him back into Chargestone Cave. It was only right."

He shouldn't have been surprised to hear this, but the words struck Volan like a blow to the head all the same.

"How could you?" continued N. "Keeping a Pokemon unwillingly cooped up like that. Such is the tyranny of the Pokemon League and the Trainers that thrive under their rule. I have never been so disappointed in you, Volan. Why a being such as you has the fortune to be anointed the White Hero, I will never know for certain."

Shock vanished, and fury took its place.

"Listen here," Volan hissed, trying to keep his emotions under control. Even now, his eyes were flickering as he struggled to suppress the flames that threatened to consume him again. "I know Petromyzon didn't have a very good opinion of me. He was always gloomy since I let him join my family, and he was always glaring at someone. I got the feeling that he didn't like his Poke Ball, or the concept of being captured. But I thought he would get over it, given enough time, much like how Bernice got used to working with Rudy."

"Quill," snorted the Tranquill. "Did not."

"Rawk," replied Rudy. "Did too."

"Despite his animosity towards us," Volan went on, "Petro was still my Pokemon. He was my friend, even though he probably didn't feel the same way toward me and the others. If he had a problem with being on a team, with traveling, with taking orders, or even with being treated with kindness and affection, then I would have taken care of it. As my Pokemon, Petro and his best interests were my responsibility. If he had wanted to be let go, I would have let him go. If he had wanted to stay and get along, I would have been fine with that as well. You, Your Highness, do not have a say in the disputes between a Trainer and his Pokemon, no matter how entitled you believe you are."

There was a long pause as N let those words sink in. But his reaction wasn't what Volan was expecting – he chuckled.

"Perhaps you are right," he confessed. "Perhaps I shouldn't have interfered in such a personal matter. However, with Zekrom by my side, I will soon take over Unova, and then I will be entitled to interfere in the relationships between people and their Pokemon.

"You treat your Pokemon with respect and care, and I am glad to see that. But the fact cannot be denied that Pokemon belong in the wild, where they can grow and evolve to their fullest potential, without fear of being stolen away by humans."

"I'm denying it right now," argued Volan. "Pokemon in the wild are magnificent, I agree. It is only when they have the opportunity to bond with people, though, that their true power shines through and allows them to live to their fullest potential."

N shrugged again. "Your opinion is admirable and to be respected, but it is irrelevant. Zekrom and I will unite and change Unova forever, into a better world for Pokemon."

Behind him, the great red-eyed black dragon nodded in agreement, letting a snarl curl from its jaws as it glared at Volan again.

"And that's another thing," the Gurei added. "How in the name of Giratina's shadow did you get ahold of a Legendary in the first place? I thought you said that Thrin was the Black Hero."

"She is," N said. "And if it weren't for her, I wouldn't have been able to use the Ebony Stone to revive Zekrom at all."

Volan stiffened. "What's that supposed to mean? Thrin would never join with you, not if her life depended on it."

"I only said that she helped me," protested N, "not that she went so far as to join me."

"I believe that that would involve helping you," growled Volan. "Where is she?"

Maddeningly, N turned away and told him, "If you wish to determine that, you will find her at the Pokemon League."

Narrowing his eyes, Volan snarled, "And you know this for certain because…"

N didn't respond this time. But Volan got the feeling that he knew the answer, which only made him angrier.

A worrying thought came to him. Has he caught her somehow? Has Thrin been kidnapped?

He stopped thinking when Zekrom roared, blasting him back into reality. The sound, joined by that of thunder and lightning from outside, physically pushed him back, and he almost tripped on a piece of debris if it weren't for Rickie, who caught him before that could happen.

Looking up, Volan saw N on Zekrom's back as the black dragon took off, blasting into the air and through the massive hole in the wall of the tower. Ruins were shaken apart in his wake, crumbling to bits as he passed. Volan and his Pokemon couldn't stand up to the force of the wind, and they fell to the ground hard.

The Plasma King and his Legendary had gone. A few seconds passed, and the noise caused by the storm outside diminished. It seemed as though the lightning and thunder had gone away with them.

But not for long, Volan knew. He and N would meet again.

And when we do, he swore, I'll tear him limb from limb as payback for everything he's done.

-.-.-.-.-.

When a seventh Trainer joined the all-out brawl raging downstairs, the Plasmas did the wise thing and scattered.

"And good riddance, you Pokemon-thieving scoundrels!" cried Professor Scatterly, shaking a crinkled fist at their fast-retreating backs.

"BODOR BODOR GAR!" Grunge chimed in. "Yeah, go on and run, you cowards!"

Now that the liberationists had fled with fading screams of "Plasmaaaaaa!" and disappeared entirely, the tension in the room cleared away with their departure.

Petrie, who had helped rout the Plasmas, whirled to face Volan and scuttled up his body until they were seeing eye-to-eye. "AAAA-ken! You never leave Petrie again! Me almost die of worry!"

Unable to take the obvious scolding seriously, everyone erupted into uproarious laughter. Initially confused, the Archen himself laughed along with them.

"You have no idea how much of a relief it is to have you here with me once more!" said Volan once the gales had subsided. The smile practically splitting his head in two was so wide and excited that it looked totally out of place on him.

"Trrrranquill!" Bernice replied, flying into his arms. "The same goes for us, too!"

"And there's no way that you're ever leaving my side again," Volan told her, holding his treasured Starter close and allowing her to cuddle up against his chest. The familiar silky-smooth texture of her feathers under his hands was enough to break the dam holding his emotions back, and quiet tears slipped down his face.

"Aw, cute," Bianca remarked.

"It's so awesome seeing you all again!" Stephan enthused, patting Rudy on the head.

"Nice to know that you're safe and not in Team Plasma's hands," added Will, shaking Rickie's hand.

Volan looked up and saw that Mistral, Ulna, and Sapphire were all on the sidelines with awkward expressions, so he decided to make some introductions. "You three, I'd like you to meet Bernice, Rudy, Rickie, Grunge, and Petrie."

The three Pokemon each gave the other five their greetings.

"And you five," the Gurei boy added to them, "these are Sapphire, Ulna, and Mistral."

This time, it was his original team that said hello to the three new additions. Their Trainer beamed widely – the infamously-icy Volan beamed – at the sight of the eight of them getting along so well already.

It was Will who spoke up then. "So, are we going to the Gym? Now that everyone's reunited and all?"

Before anyone could reply, a figure unexpectedly rounded the corner and came into their line of sight, moving into a wary pose that suggested that he was ready for a fight. As if Will's comment has summoned him, it was the blue-robed master of Ice-types and Icirrus City Gym Leader himself, Brycen.

"Who are you?" he demanded.

While the rest of the group became cautious, Alder's wizened face lit up. "Ah, it's Brycen! If you insist, let me tell you about these brave young Trainers…"

"I know you are there, intruders!" Brycen went on sharply, taking no notice of them. "Why don't you show yourselves?"

Naturally, Volan and the others were rather confused at these words.

Even more naturally, they were scared out of their wits when three white-haired men in black appeared out of literally nowhere.

The Shadow Triad, Volan remembered.

"Impressive, Gym Leader of Icirrus City," whispered one. "We are beings of the shadows, and not easily noticed."

Will snorted. "Understatement of the damn year."

"Our mission was only to speak to the White Hero, but no matter," hissed a second. "Ghetsis has a message for you. Zekrom and Lord N will head to the Pokemon League and defeat the Champion, and a world where Pokemon and people are separate will become a reality. If you wish to stop them, you must journey to the Relic Castle."

"The Relic Castle?!" demanded Stephan. "The ruins of the Kingdom of Truth? Is that where Reshiram's stone lies?"

"We do not know," murmured the third of the Triad. "All we know is that Ghetsis himself is going there to obtain the Stone of Cold Fire. If you, the White Hero, wish to stop him and N, you must get there before him and revive the white dragon."

They disappeared into thin air without another word.

Brycen spoke to those of the group for the first time. "Did any of you see what flew off a mere couple of minutes ago?"

He didn't wait for them to answer in the negative, as their befuddled faces indicated that they indeed did not know. The Gym Leader's voice was ragged as he answered his own question – "It was Zekrom, the Legendary dragon of ideals! With the Plasma King on his back!"

A sort of screeching squeak came from Bianca's mouth. "Wh-What?!" she stammered, no less than completely appalled. "He can't possibly be the Black Hero, can he?"

"Astounding…" muttered Cedric. Volan started at his voice, as he had forgotten that the elder Juniper was present. "I never suspected that Zekrom would be reawakened so soon, and by the leader of Team Plasma no less."

"I need to find Reshiram," said Volan, his tone leaving little room for argument.

"Yes, and quickly," Alder agreed. "If the storm that came into existence above the tower's pinnacle is any clue, then the stories are true. Zekrom has the power to destroy Unova! If he's on Team Plasma's side…"

In a voice growing more dreadful by the second, Will added, "And if Team Plasma tells the region's people to release their Pokemon…"

"No matter whether it comes from fear or admiration," Stephan concluded grimly, "Our land of Unova can't help but change."

The silence that fell over them said everything. Ordinary Pokemon couldn't stand up to Zekrom – it was a Legendary Pokemon of unmatched power. That is, it had power that couldn't be matched… except by one being.

They had no choice now. Volan had to resurrect Reshiram, or N would win. And then who knows what would happen after Unova's Pokemon were liberated? Would other regions be at risk as well? Volan privately doubted that even the Legendary birds of Kanto or the mighty Rayquaza of Hoenn could stand up to the terrifying black dragon. Any other Legendary Pokemon that could give Zekrom a fair fight were either deep in slumber or isolated in entirely different dimensions.

No. Reshiram is our only hope.

I'm our only hope.

"To the Relic Castle it is, then," Volan decided.

"Trrrranquill!" Bernice agreed, fluttering up to perch on his shoulder. He had almost forgotten what it was like to carry her weight like that.

But Brycen was shaking his head. "No. Alder has told me of how powerful this Ghetsis fellow is. You must be tested to see if you can hold your own against him, if it ever comes to a battle between you and him."

"What are you saying, good sir?" asked Professor Scatterly.

"I'm saying that I will be the one to test our White Hero," Brycen replied. His voice strong as ice but blazing like fire, he finished, "In what is admittedly a total reverse of the tradition, I, Brycen of Icirrus City, challenge you, Volantes, to a Gym battle!"

-.-.-.-.-.

Every Trainer has that one Pokemon that continuously breaks free of his or her Poke Ball. For some, the Pokemon is too energetic to be kept inside. For others, the Pokemon's trying to make a point. But for Volan, it's just because Sapphire's a flirt. Lucky him.

But rejoice! Everyone's back, and happier than ever! Bernice even managed to learn Air Slash! Will that help in the fight to come next chapter? Stay tuned and find out.

Bernice: "Trrrranquill! Give us a review!"

Chapter Question #101: Now that the gang's all here, which Pokemon do you think Volan will add to the gang in the XY sequel?

Here's a little spoiler for you. He's going to have a Fletchinder at some point.

-.-.-.-.-.

Volan's Party:
Bernice (Tranquill, female)
Ability: Big Pecks
Attacks: Air Slash, Detect, Aerial Ace, Hypnosis

Grunge (Garbodor, male)
Ability: Weak Armor
Attacks: Pound, Body Slam, Sludge, Solarbeam

Rickie (Seismitoad, male)
Ability: Poison Touch
Attacks: Muddy Water, Drain Punch, Rain Dance, Mud Shot

Rudy (Krokorok, male)
Ability: Moxie
Attacks: Thunder Fang, Crunch, Sandstorm, Foul Play

Petrie (Archen, male)
Ability: Defeatist
Attacks: Quick Guard, Wing Attack, Head Smash, Dragonbreath

Mistral (Mismagius, female)
Ability: Levitate
Attacks: Psychic, Shadow Ball, Inferno, Screech

Ulna (Mandibuzz, female)
Ability: Overcoat
Attacks: Roost, Feint Attack, Brave Bird, Bone Rush

Sapphire (Frillish, female)
Ability: Water Absorb
Attacks: Night Shade, Absorb, Constrict, Water Spout