Sky Tower Summit
Sky Tower Summit
You were almost there, you were at the summit. Only a few more floors until the three of you reached the peak.
You glanced at your companions taking this trek up Sky Tower with you. Acacia, your Chikorita partner that you met the moment you first woke up in this world, was close behind you. From the drooping leaf, you could tell he was as exhausted as you were. And Temsik, your Absol friend who saved you from Articuno's wrath, was by his side.
Though Temsik looked almost…fearful? Their fur stood on end, their tail was held low, and their horn kept twitching. You had never seen them like that before.
No, you couldn't let that turn you back. You had to keep going. You were almost there. Or there would be nothing but a crater to go back to. Didn't matter how bruised you were getting, you needed to keep going.
It became harder and harder to take each step. You were getting really tired, with your heavy shell starting to weigh you down, and you could barely breathe this high up. You were running low on supplies, too, and your injuries were piling up.. But you had to keep going.
As you reached the room with the stairs, your exhaustion caught up with you, and you collapsed onto your back.
"Lidequir!" Acacia cried out, rushing to your side. "Are you ok?"
You weren't. You wished you could just keep going, you knew how dire the situation was, but you couldn't.
"Can…can we rest here? Just for a bit?" you asked, looking up at your partner. "We're by the stairs, we can go to the next floor if anything comes after us."
"We can't," Temsik said, horn twitching frantically. "The falling star is almost here! We can't slow down!"
Acacia picked you up with his vines, turning you to face him.
"Lidequir. We can do this. We have to do this."
They had done this before, when the three of you were fleeing up Mount Freeze from Team ACT. Back then, even though you felt like you couldn't go on, their urgency had helped you keep moving.
And while normally you appreciated their drive to help you keep going…you couldn't take it right now.
"Please," you pleaded. "I…I can't move another step."
Temsik looked terrified now, but they sat down by your side.
"Fine," they said. "But we can't afford to wait long."
Acacia was trembling, but set you down, laying a vine on your back.
Were you dooming the world by doing this? You hoped not. You wanted to keep going, but you just couldn't move anymore.
"Thank you," you said, between deep breaths. Then, trying your best to smile, you said, "So. Sky's the limit, huh?"
Acacia briefly swung his leaf in front of his face, frowning.
"Lidequir, it's not the time for this!" Acacia said, stomping a foreleg into the cloudy ground.
Your forced smile faltered a bit.
"Sorry," you said, coughing. "Just…trying to stay calm. We're almost there."
We were almost there, but were we ready?
You were starting to think that you weren't.
"Are you nervous?" Acacia asked.
"...yeppers. I am," you said, looking up towards the sky. "I…don't know if we're prepared enough. We're low on supplies, we're low on energy, we're all out of breath. We're not even gold rank yet."
You weren't even in this world for a season, and you were already part of the only hope to save it.
You felt so, so overwhelmed.
"I… just don't know if we can do this, Acacia," you murmur, looking down. "Wouldn't Team ACT be better—?"
"Lidequir, don't say that!" Acacia interrupted.
You looked up, seeing his leaf lash from side to side.
"Why not?" you asked. "They're fully evolved, and they're gold rank, too. They're better than us in every way I can think of."
"We never chased anyone to the ends of the continent over a rumor," Acacia harrumphed. "And Xatu chose us for this mission, not them. There was a reason for that!"
"I thought you thought they were the coolest?" you asked, tilting your head.
"The whole rumor incident took them down more than a few pegs for me, but even without that… we've already come further than them," Acacia said.
You tilted your head. "How?"
"Look, Lidequir. I know that it might sound crazy at first," he said. "They're fully evolved, while we're just a Chikorita, a Squirtle, and an Absol. They're gold rank, while we're still silver. But we've already surpassed them in other ways. Who was it that rescued them?"
Temsik nodded. "They couldn't defeat Groudon, after all, and yet we did. And who was it that held out faith in each other's innocence until the end? You? Or them?"
Charizard's worst joke ever aside…they never believed in us. It was only us and those we had helped who had faith in us.
If Temsik didn't trust us, we'd have been killed by Articuno's talons. If Acacia didn't trust me, Caterpie might never have been rescued.
We made it this far because of our trust in each other.
"...Us," you said.
"We're better than them in the ways that matter. They even thought so themselves given that Alakazam helped Xatu make the Teleport Gem that took us here," Acacia said. "Team ACT doesn't matter anymore. We have each other."
Maybe you really were prepared. The three of you were together, and that was all you needed.
"We're almost there, Lidequir. We can do this," Acacia insisted, nudging at you. "We've made it to Mount Freeze, we've defeated Groudon, we can climb a few more floors and talk to Rayquaza."
"...alright. Thank you," you said, standing back up with Acacia's help. "I think I'm ready to continue."
"Then let's go," Temsik said, heading towards the stairs.
You took as deep of a breath as you could, in, and out. Then you climbed up the stairs, alongside your friends.
Almost there. Almost there.
You hurried across the crumbling floors and walls, not stopping for a moment. You couldn't stop, no matter what. Time was running out, and you had to get the Time Gears to the pinnacle.
That was your Piplup partner, Pahelia, calling out to you. But you couldn't stop, you had to keep running.
You were thankful for your Treecko biology, letting you scurry on walls around precarious segments. But this part was a straight stretch, so you just ran down the floor of the hall—
"Apoyime, wait!" she cried.
You dug your feet into the ground, and skidded to a stop, right before a hole in the floor. You had been so focused on hurrying, that you weren't looking where you were going.
You turned around, relieved that you stopped in time. But you had to keep running, you had to—
"Apoyime!" Pahelia called. "We can't keep going at this pace!"
"Wh…wh…" you began, but you were too nervous for speech currently. You put your hands out instead, and turned to sign language.
"Why not?" you signed, your tail twitching in impatience, before you took in how Pahelia looked.
She was running ragged, some of her feathers missing. She was covered in bruises, and her breaths were shallow.
"I can't keep up," she said. "And you almost fell into that hole. We need to slow down."
Your expression softened, but you shook your head. The tower was literally falling apart, you couldn't slow down!
"But Temporal Tower," you began to sign, before Pahelia interrupted you.
"Is crumbling, I know. But what if you fell in that hole?" she asked. "We'd have lost even more time."
You paused. That was…a fair point. Not only would you have been separated, but you'd also have had to climb back up from the previous floor. You couldn't afford to waste time like that.
You signed, "Alright."
"Please, be more careful," she said. "I don't know what I'd do if I had to go on without you."
Those words made you uneasy. You noticed how she was trembling as she said that, her flippers held over her chest. She was scared of losing you.
You knew that you didn't have much longer to exist. Once time is restored, you'd cease to exist.
You'd already made your peace with that. But what about Pahelia? What would she do once you disappeared?
… You could spare a bit of time, to make sure she stays safe.
And part of that is making sure that she's ready for what you know is coming.
"Pahelia. I want you to promise me something," you signed, beginning to tremble.
"What is it?" she asked.
You wondered how much to tell her. That you'd be gone no matter if you win or lose? Or should you just keep it extra vague?
No, Pahelia could take it. She was so scared when she first met you, but she'd grown beyond that. She was strong, you knew she was.
But it wouldn't do any good to have her break down right now, either.
You decided to keep it somewhat vague, but enough to get the point across.
"Promise me…" you began to sign, before taking the leap and beginning to speak. "Promise me, that, if…if something happens to me up there, that you'll carry on."
"What…what do you mean?" Pahelia asked, looking worried. "Apoyime…"
"Promise me," you pleaded with words. "Promise me that you'll live on for me. Please."
"But…" she began, looking away. Then she hesitated, before she looked you in the eyes. "I promise."
At least one of you would live on now.
"Thank you," you signed, before continuing to run through the tower, though at a slower pace than before.
Time was running out, but you didn't want to waste these last few minutes you had with your partner.
Glacier Palace Great Spire
You and Vernir navigated the rooms and corridors of the spire, searching for the stairs. You had no idea how much farther you had to go, but the dungeon's icy winds were getting stronger and stronger. You had a feeling that you had long since passed the point of the Glacier Palace you reached on your first visit.
You hoped the others were doing well. Virizion, Emolga, Umbreon, Espeon, Dunsparce… You had hoped they could have come with you to help, but that chasm was too wide to go across, and someone had to keep things together back at Paradise and Post Town.
As you continued through the spire, you began to hear a wheezing noise. Was that the winds of despair? You tried to fidget with your scalchop to distract yourself, then your joy ribbon, but you couldn't get it out of your head.
Then it dawned on you, the wheezing was coming from your Snivy partner.
At once, you turned around and went to Vernir's side, putting a paw on his back.
"Vernir! Are you ok?" you asked.
His scales were losing their green coloration, turning brown. His tail was dragging on the ground, the leaf on the tip wilting. The scales around his eyes had a bit of frost on them.
"I…I'm fine. We need to keep going," he said, trudging forward.
His breaths felt far too shallow. Could he even make it like this?
"Vernir…we can rest if you need it," you said. "We still have time."
He looked like he wanted to protest, his eyes narrowing a bit, but he simply sighed, and wrapped his arms around you in a hug. He looked so exhausted…
"It's…so hard to breathe," he rasped. "And it's so cold, too…"
What could you do? You couldn't leave him behind, no way!
Vernir was there for you ever since you crash landed next to him. He helped get you a place to stay, he was always willing to listen to you. He even risked his life to save you from Kyurem. He was the best friend you ever had.
But it didn't sound like he could make it much farther…
You still had your joy ribbon on. Maybe it could help filter the air for Vernir.
You took off your joy ribbon, and untied it back into a piece of enchanted cloth. Then, you gave it to Vernir.
"Alright. I want you to hold this over your nostrils, and try to avoid breathing out of your mouth as much as you can," you said. "Hopefully this should help you breathe easier. It's just a little further."
As he held it over his nostrils, you could see the green beginning to return to his scales.
"I'm here for you no matter what," you said, giving Vernir a hug.
Vernir began to smile, his tail lifting back up.
"Thank you, Gen," he said. "It's a bit easier to breathe now. You sure we're that close?"
"Yeah… we must be," you said. "Let's just keep going."
You meant for that to sound more enthusiastic than it did. Vernir must've noticed, judging by the look on his snout.
"Gen?" Vernir asked, putting an arm on your shoulder. "You've been going for a long while now, and you haven't stopped except to help me. Aren't you getting exhausted?"
"What do you mean?" you asked.
"You've been going nonstop ever since we reunited in the Holehills. Did you even sleep after Kyurem attacked you?" Vernir asked.
You didn't, but Vernir doesn't need to know that right now. Not when the fate of everyone back in Post Town and Paradise hung in the balance.
"I'm fine," you lied.
Truth be told, you couldn't be further from fine. You were tired, bruised, freezing, and terrified. The moment Kyurem decided you didn't belong in this world kept replaying in your mind, over and over.
But if you kept going, you could distract yourself from that all.
Vernir pulled you close with a vine, a concerned expression on his snout, and said, "Please, be honest with me."
You paused for a moment, before deciding to tell your partner the truth.
"...no, not really," you admitted. "I've…kinda just been trying to distract myself ever since…"
"Hydreigon?" Vernir asked, a sympathetic look on his snout.
"...yeah," you said.
You didn't think you'd ever be able to forget seeing Hydreigon's frozen body shatter into pieces, or the brutal beatdown Kyurem gave you immediately afterwards.
"...I'm sorry. I wish…" Vernir paused.
"That it didn't have to happen?" you asked.
"...yeah," Vernir answered, tail drooping back down.
"And just…" you began, looking down. "We managed to pacify Munna, but Kyurem's still out there. What if we have to face them again?"
Vernir hugged you again, keeping the cloth on his nostrils with a vine.
"It doesn't matter either way. Maybe Kyurem's not even in this dungeon right now. But if he is…" A determined look crosses Vernir's face. "Then we'll face him together. Like we've always done since we first teamed up."
You hesitated, then hugged Vernir back. "Thank you. I couldn't have made it this far without you."
"And I couldn't have without you," Vernir said. "Forward, together?"
"Yeah," you said, smiling as you took a step. "Together."
The two of you continued searching the floor for the stairs. You felt a bit chillier without your joy ribbon, but seeing Vernir not suffocating, and him supporting you in turn…it was worth it.
Tree of Life Trunk
Wood creaked underfoot as you traversed the trunk of the Tree of Life. The grand Tree keeping the planet alive, reduced to a dull gray. You could hear branches snapping with each step you took.
The Tree of Life was dying, and you and your partner had to stop it.
Your Meganium partner was staring at a patch of color in the wood. "Look, Ayueg! Color! We're not too late! The Tree is still alive!"
That was a bit of relief, but you had to keep going.
"Hopefully it stays that way," you said.
You were about to continue on, before noticing that your partner wasn't moving from their spot. Instead, they were…breathing on the patch of color?
"Leviene? What are you doing?" you asked.
"I read once that Meganiums can revive dead plants just by breathing on them!" they said. "Maybe it'll work on the Tree of Life, too!"
You simply stared, as Leviene breathed on the color. You cared for them with all your heart, but Leviene was such a dork sometimes.
"...I don't think one Meganium's breath is going to do much for the Tree when it's in this state," you said.
"But I gotta try!" they said, breathing harder.
Was now really the time for their antics?
"Leviene, we need to stop Dark Matter…" you began, before trailing off.
Leviene's signature smile was different than usual, and not just because they were a Meganium. It seemed…like a forced smile.
Something was wrong, and not just with the Tree.
"Leviene, what's going on?" you asked, putting a hand on their back.
They froze, then stopped breathing on the color spot to lean into your feathers.
"...I was just thinking about Serene Village," they said, antennae drooping.
Oh. Their hometown, our hometown…rendered completely silent…everyone likely turned to stone…
"Are you worried about everyone?" you asked.
Leviene turned their neck away, shaking.
"...Remember how I said how I was scared to look for everyone, because they'd probably be…you know?" they said.
How could you forget? Leviene had looked like they were about to break down. You couldn't blame them. After escaping the Voidlands, returning to an empty home hit both of you hard.
"Yeah. I remember that," you said.
Leviene looked at you, the petals around their neck drooping.
"Part of me really wishes that I looked for them," they murmured. "It feels like I just abandoned them all. What if I could have helped them?"
It would be a lie to say that you felt the same about yourself. You had lived there in Serene Village for months, and to see it in such an empty state…knowing that everyone there was probably turned to stone…Simipour, Raticate, Goomy, Shelmet, Farfetch'd, Carracosta…
You had shed many tears with Leviene when you discovered what happened to the village.
"Leviene…" you hug their neck. "It's not your fault. You didn't abandon them. We're helping them right now."
Tears began to flow from Leviene's eyes, as they collapsed.
"But pops is probably stone right now! I should have at least looked for him!" they cried. "We saw our Expedition Society friends get absorbed by those things in the Voidlands! What if that happens to pops, too? What if that means they're gone for good, and we'll never see them again?!"
You couldn't help but worry about that. It had been plaguing your mind ever since you learned that Bunnelby had been caught by the Voidlands beasts.
You fought back your own tears, trying to put on a brave face for Leviene. It was so rare to see them like this.
You'd do your best to be there for them, though.
You gently rub your partner's neck. "You were scared of what you might find. It's not your fault. I'm scared, too."
Leviene craned their neck to look you in the eyes. "You are?"
"Yeah. I'm…scared that I'll have to see Nuzleaf again, or that we won't be able to defeat Dark Matter," you said.
"I'm…scared of that, too," Leviene said. "It already caused so much destruction, it's the reason Serene Village is empty. What if it sends us back to the Voidlands? Ayeug, I can't do that, I can't go back there and face all of that again if we fail! I'm…not brave enough for this"
"I know you're scared," you said, hugging Leviene tighter. "But we've made it this far. We've solved the mystery of the Ancient Barrow, we made it into the Expedition Society. We made it out of the Voidlands, and we made it this far up the Tree of Life. Were you scared for those?"
"...yep. I was," Leviene said, laying their head on your shoulder.
"Bravery isn't about not being scared. It's about going forward, even if you're scared," you said. "You're brave, you're one of the bravest Pokemon I know. You've made it this far, and I'll be right there with you the rest of the way."
"...alright. I'll be brave. For you, for pops, and for everyone," they said, stepping away from the patch of color. "Let's keep going."
Their tears were drying up, and as they continued trotting down the corridor, you kept a hand around their neck.
You were scared, too, but with your partner by your side, you felt brave enough to take on whatever challenges laid before you.
Together, the two of you continued your final ascent.