All 11 chapters in a single article (Patreon patrons only)
Ortolan’s door slid open, and the lights on his side of it cut out. Fog rolled into the room, cloaking the immediate vicinity of the door as the sound of shuffling feet finally prodded him to turn around.
To the door’s right, the light above Flannery turned on, and she announced, “To protect the world from devastation…”
Lizabeth, now lit to her left: “To aid the oppressed of every nation…”
Lucy, next: “To end all evil with acts of love…”
Elena, on the left of the door: “To apprehend the monsters who truck thereof!”
In front of the door, holding a carnation, Jessie continued, “Team That Showed Up, travel far to make things right!”
Jane, to their left, holding a rose, “Surrender now or prepare to fight!”
“Meowth, that’s right!”
Ortolan began slowly clapping. Behind him, his monitors flickered, showing the shattered remains of his plan: static from the destroyed cameras in the Magnemite turbine, a hungry Kabuto stuffing itself in the remains of the fossil lab and attacking anyone who disturbed it, green-clad soldiers getting trampled and tossed into the sea by Aggrons and Mawiles at the assembly area outside, a drill cavern containing only Minamoto strung up with his own whip, and a crushed and battered control sphere. The lack of any of the usual staffers in the room made Ortolan’s trim green suit, black fedora, yellow hat feather, and shiny black shoes all the more out of place.
“You have style, I’ll give you that,” he answered after an uncomfortable silence.
“We’re serious about that last part, Ortolan,” Elena insisted. “It’s over, but we don’t have to fight now.”
“Elvis,” Ortolan intoned, voice full of half-mocking disappointment as he approached the group. All six of them instantly grasped Pokéballs. “Do you know why I picked the name Ortolan?”
Elena snarled, “That’s not my name anymore.” Ortolan continued as if she hadn’t said anything.
“It’s a story from Kalos, about a food so evil and so decadent that one must eat it under a handkerchief, to hide one’s sin from the world. It’s made of a creature like a Pidgey or Swellow, drowned in alcohol over and over and chewed whole.”
“That’s…really creepy, Ortolan,” Elena answered, face twisted in horror.
“I’m making a better world, where such sins will not be hidden. You helped me do that, Elvis. Why forsake this future now?”
“My name is not Elvis,” Elena answered, visibly irritated, “And this future of yours has no place for any of us.”
“You revived fossils just to torture newborn Pokémon with neglect,” Flannery shouted.
“You locked a Bronzong in a room full of fire and darkness to make it do what you wanted,” Lizabeth continued, placing a caring hand on one of her Pokéballs.
“You hired goons that enslave Pokémon with whips and curses, never showing them friendship,” Jessie added, clenching a fist.
“You took a machine I designed to extend friendship to steel Pokémon the world over and turned it into a way to crack their minds and take their freedom,” Elena continued, eyes welling, anger grading into horrified sadness.
“And you forced them all to try to induce earthquakes and volcanoes all across Hoenn,” Lucy insisted, looking at Flannery. “Do you know how many people you hurt, as far away as Mount Chimney?”
Ortolan gave the beginnings of a smirk, and drew a Pokéball.
“Hurting them is the point, isn’t it?” Elena asked, voice cracking with emotion. “You’d burn and tumble civilization to the ground lord over the remains with an army of enslaved Pokémon who hate and fear you.” Elena looked at her hand and foot. “You would have me hope that this burning future still has hospitals, prostheticians, medicine…but you don’t plan to save them, do you?”
Ortolan dropped a Pokéball, releasing the streamlined shell, chevron-shaped head, and giant scythe-arms of a Kabutops.
“This shiny future you’re building, it’s shiny because people like me, like us, won’t be able to survive in it, after you destroy everything that makes this world a place that we can exist. Isn’t that right, Ortolan?” Elena’s voice slid into a half-sobbing shriek.
Ortolan’s smirk was fully formed now, and he answered, “What manners of weakness and dependency would your paradise retain, Elvis?”
Elena clenched her arms, seething, “It’s not Elvis anymore.”
“Of course not,” Ortolan sneered, leaning in close to Elena’s face. “You’ve decided it wasn’t enough to be a cripple I saved because you were useful to me,” he continued, gesturing at Lucy and Jane, “and decided to be a freak, too.”
Elena punched Ortolan in the face, sending him staggering back and dropping another Pokéball from his jacket sleeve. As the segmented bulk of a scorpion-like Drapion coalesced, Ortolan continued, “If you mean to stop me from rebuilding everything you destroyed even better than it was before, Elvis and company,” A third, the angular, flanged, bright purple body of a Dragalge, supported on kelp-like fronds and confidently raising its tubular head, “you’d better get started.”
Lizabeth released Gorebyss. Lucy released Milotic. Flannery released Chandelure. Jane released Sylveon. Jessie released Pumpkaboo, resembling a glowing pumpkin with a bat’s face. Elena released Pangoro.
“It’s Elena now,” Elena insisted, pointing to the Kabutops. “Pangoro, Hammer Arm!”
Pangoro rushed at the leering Kabutops and slammed it on its head with two burly arms. As it clattered to the floor, Pumpkaboo launched a barrage of seeds that arced over Pangoro, pounded Kabutops, and exploded. Kabutops twitched, trying to lift itself after the intense attack, then lay still. Lizabeth and Lucy could tell the arthropod was still conscious, barely, but it seemed to have decided against continuing to fight. Meowth used the distraction to approach the computer terminals on the other side of the room, intent on something.
Chandelure set Dragalge ablaze with a Will-O-Wisp, and narrowly spun away from a retaliatory Hydro Pump. Gorebyss, Pumpkaboo, and Milotic attacked the Drapion with a wave of psychic energy, the subversive threat of a Leech Seed, and a pulse of draconic energy, respectively, but the ogre scorpion ignored the first, received the latter without difficulty, and lunged at Milotic after the last, slashing hard with venomous claws.
Sylveon, face again so devious that her cuteness became alarming, stalked around Dragalge, ignoring a Dragon Pulse and responding with Moonblast. Sylveon leapt upon Dragalge and tied her feelers around its neck, gathering energy for another Moonblast the dragon couldn’t possibly dodge, when the sea dragon’s head turned all the way around and drenched Sylveon in venomous fluid. Collapsing on her side, Sylveon mis-launched her Moonblast at a computer bank instead, burning through it with energy that dissipated into illusory butterflies. Jessie released Wobbuffet into view, and the ovoid blue creature mockingly saluted Dragalge and shouted his name. Enraged, Dragalge left the whimpering Sylveon and approached its challenger, who erected a pre-emptive Mirror Coat.
A loud clanging noise suddenly got all of the trainers’ attention. Ortolan fell to the floor, clutching his head, as Marciela the Durant triumphantly walked off of his back, turned to face him, and clacked in laughter. Ortolan looked up at the steel ant and snarled, “I know exactly what to do with you.” He rolled a Pokéball at Marciela, which released a bright red Pokémon with huge claws, a long thin head, and lines along its body like metallic tubes. Heatmor bore down on Marciela, who recoiled in terror. Elena shouted, “Pangoro, help her!” and released her third Pokémon, the leaf-cloaked Swadloon, to aid further. Heatmor stalked forward as Ortolan stood, a tongue of flame flicking out of its mouth, and exhaled a star-shaped Fire Blast at the cowering steel insect. Pangoro leapt to interpose himself, receiving the hideous burn in Marciela’s stead. Unfazed despite being on fire, Pangoro lifted Heatmor by the neck and punched it in the gut with a fist thrumming with dark energy. Heatmor thrashed itself free with a shadowy claw, leapt out of reach of Hammer Arm, and struck Pangoro with a second Fire Blast. Defeated, the fighting panda fell on his back. Swadloon crept forward, and Heatmor laughed at her and Marciela alike.
“One more card,” Ortolan muttered as he released a fifth Pokémon. The size of a human with a deep green torso, white legs, and a blue head crest, Gallade approached the still-grounded Sylveon. Chandelure interposed himself between the two, but Froslass released herself from confinement and rushed to the fire-ghost’s side, demanding, “No. This one is mine.” With Chandelure guarding as Froslass approached Gallade and the two began to circle one another, Jane released Chimecho to offer her last healing powers to Sylveon.
Milotic sprayed scalding water at Drapion, pushing the scorpion beast back, but her movements reflected the venom she now carried. Lizabeth nodded at Gorebyss, who activated a healing Aqua Ring around herself and rushed away to help Marciela and Swadloon. Drapion lunged into Milotic with a wrenching bite, and Milotic answered with a Hydro Pump directly into her assailant’s face while it was still latched on. Burned and weaving, Drapion released its bite and lurched away, continuing to stare down the similarly unsteady, envenomed Milotic. With an evil grin, Drapion stiffened its tail and slammed it into Milotic, and the beautiful water serpent collapsed. As Lucy recalled Milotic, Pumpkaboo Seed Bombed Drapion out of consciousness.
Dragalge blasted Wobbuffet with Sludge Bomb after Dragon Pulse after Hydro Pump, and each time, Wobbuffet received the injury and responded with a psychic assault, magnifying and reflecting all of that power back at Dragalge. Wobbuffet was poisoned, unsteady, and accumulating scratches, bruises, and venom burns, but he took each blow and reflected it double, turning Dragalge’s attacks into a psychic lance that struck Dragalge in the weakest points of its mind. The venomous dragon finally collapsed and Wobbuffet saluted, announcing its name with a near-incapacitated weave and wobble.
Gallade rushed up to Froslass and slashed his arm-sword, passing harmlessly through her insubstantial body.
“You can’t hurt me, Gallade,” Froslass threatened, surrounding the pair with a hailstorm, “but I can hurt you.”
Gallade’s arm blades glowed magenta, and Gallade twisted around to hack into Froslass from behind. The psychically charged appendage burned as it slashed across Froslass’s icy coating. “Hardly,” the psychic warrior answered.
“You became Gallade when your master gave you a Dawn Stone,” Froslass continued, gathering shadowy energy into an orb and flinging it at Gallade. As it struck, winding its tendrils through the Pokémon’s body before dissipating painfully, Gallade answered.
“Was it your idea?”
Gallade winced as hailstones pelted his body, then raised glowing arms for another Psycho Cut deep into Froslass. “What do you mean?”
Froslass sneaked behind Gallade in the concealment of the hailstorm and jabbed Gallade in the back with an Ice Punch, freezing Gallade inside a block of ice. She answered, “I chose to be Froslass instead of Glalie. I saw what was coming and I made my wishes known to my trainer. She helped me. I became who I wanted and needed to become.”
Gallade was silent for a long time, and then exploded out of his icy confinement with a Brick Break that Froslass ignored.
“My master chose this form for me,” Gallade readied another Psycho Cut as Froslass gathered another Shadow Ball. “Do you believe he chose wrongly?”
“That decision is entirely yours, Gallade.”
Swadloon conjured a protective barrier with all of her might, holding it against the force of Heatmor’s next Fire Blast. Gorebyss and Pumpkaboo rushed between Heatmor and his targets, but none of the Pokémon moved when Ortolan started speaking again.
“This is all so senseless, Elvis,” the man cooed, arms open as he rolled one last Pokéball toward where Meowth was in a heap of computer wire, looking for something. “We wear each other to nothing, risk life and limb and Pokémon alike, and for what? This hideous world that declared you a monster for what you are? Why try to save it? Why is it worth all of this?”
Elena straightened her stance and roared, “My name is Elena!”
Swadloon began to glow, her body shrinking in on itself and then extending upward. In a moment, where once stood a bundled, hidden Swadloon, there was now the angular, mantis-like shape of a Leavanny, with leaf-blades for hands and a leafy collar behind her head. Leavanny leapt on Ortolan, leaf-blades glowing, slashing into his chest and leaping behind him when Heatmor retaliated with a Heat Wave. Ortolan’s wounds seared shut and his ripped clothing singed, but his body did not protect Leavanny from the heat. Wilting and then crumpling under the strain, the rest of her health was spent when Ortolan fell on her. Elena recalled Pangoro and Leavanny and called Marciela to her, herding her behind her. Gorebyss concentrated, unleashing a torrent of water onto Heatmor that boiled and seethed against the fiery anteater’s forge-like body. Heatmor turned around, aggressive posture reduced to shock and then exhaustion when it turned directly into Pumpkaboo’s Shadow Ball.
Next to Meowth, a gigantic bird made of metal plates and sheets emerged from Ortolan’s last Pokéball. The bird ripped into the gutted computer terminal and yanked it apart, but not before Meowth made one last wire connection. Chimecho and Chandelure floated up to Skarmory, but Meowth stayed their approach.
“I’m gonna tell you about my master, bird,” Meowth explained as he extended his claws. “His name is Giovanni and he sends goons after me every few weeks. He still owns me. He still has my Pokéball. I don’t get to relax for more than a few hours at a time, in case this is the day that he sends enough people that Jane and Jessie can’t send them packing.”
Skarmory looked at Meowth, first quizzically, then afraid.
“Before that I was starving in the street, and the first girl I ever loved called me a freak because I learned to talk. You can’t scare me, bird, any more than I’ve been scared every day since I ran away. Now it’s your turn to be scared.”
Meowth leapt upon the Skarmory, a flurry of furious slashes and bites, leaving deep scratches in Skarmory’s metal plates. The metal bird flailed and floundered, trying to stand or fly, slashing other computer terminals apart in its struggle. One slash wrenched into the wall, where electricity rushed into its body. A siren began sounding, and a light at the other end of the room began spinning in red.
“About time that started,” Meowth complained. He returned to savaging Skarmory until he fell over in exhaustion. The bird staggered to its feet and backed away in terror, and Chandelure and Chimecho followed, keeping the bird away from Sylveon as Sylveon began gathering Ortolan’s dropped Pokéballs.
“Shit,” Ortolan cursed under his breath. “This isn’t over, Elvis!” He ran at Skarmory and threw his legs around the terrified bird’s neck. Pointing his cufflink at the ceiling, a hatch opened, pouring light into the room. The bird flailed, thrashed, and hurled itself up the enormous shaft, more than wide enough for its full wingspan. A moment later, Ortolan’s voice traveled down the shaft in a scream, followed by Ortolan himself, landing on his chest where he once stood as his Skarmory loudly flapped away. Other pieces of the ceiling began to fall, and Sylveon found the last Pokéball as the six trainers began recalling their Pokémon. Jane received Ortolan’s Pokéballs before returning Sylveon to quiescence.
At the other end of the room, Froslass’s hailstorm faded, and Gallade turned away from his partner in combat. He offered in goodbye, “I will have to think about that, Froslass. I hope we will meet again,” and then bounded up the shaft with acrobatic leaps.
“I hope so, Gallade,” she responded, accepting her Pokéball’s call.
“Marciela, you didn’t have to do any of that!” Elena insisted to the metal ant. She rubbed against her, clacking to say, “Of course I did.” Elena produced a Pokéball, and asked her, “Do you want?” With her nod, she formally added her old friend to her team.
Meowth ran up to his allies with deadly news: “It’s exactly what you think it is! Let’s get out of here!”
“Can Gyarados carry us all?” Lizabeth asked. “I don’t think we have time to get to the airlock.”
“No,” Lucy answered, “But I know who can.” Lucy released the monstrous, three-headed, black-and-purple dragon she kept in reserve for even more severe situations than Ortolan’s planned apocalypse. “Hydreigon, the seven of us need to get out of here.”
Hydreigon permitted the humans and Meowth to climb all over her, securing themselves any way they could. Jane released Chimecho and Joltik, who soon found their purpose in using Protect against flamethrowers in the shaft and electrocuting the top door into compliance. The group emerged into the sky from a wall, from an opening they couldn’t see even after they passed through it. The foundations of the tower exploded, and the ocean filled the new space. The tower crumpled into the new hole, the top few stories tipping over and burying most of the assembly plain. A moment later, an Aggron climbed out of the new lagoon, dragging a half-drowned Hobbes and Minamoto behind her and sitting on the beach, a foot placed leisurely on each one’s chest. The rest of the tower then exploded, spraying metal, concrete, and ceramic in all directions. Far above, they watched Skarmory descend elsewhere on the island and return to the sky with Dunkirk in its claws. It descended near the Aggron, and the two stared at each other in silence before Skarmory took off again, this time north to Ever Grande City.
There was no sign of Ortolan, until a feathered hat floated up from the lagoon.