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Yo, this baby scored THIRD PLACE in one of Serebii's oneshot contests (there were only five entries in that particular contest, but still) and it's one of the ones I'm still prouder of. Though, as a note, it's based very heavily on the XY season of the anime, so at least cursory knowledge of that is recommended before going into this one.
Alain marched down the corridor to the battlefield ahead. Time seemed to slow down as he contemplated all this particular battle entailed.
This was Ash Ketchum he was facing. Name didn't sound like much, but Alain knew from watching him fight - and fighting him himself - that was all too deceiving. Ash's synergy with his Pokemon was unlike anything he'd ever seen, taken to supernatural levels with his Greninja. It was to the point that Ash had managed to defeat his previous opponent - a boy named Sawyer - despite the fact he had prepared his team to counter Ash's every move.
Alain didn't have that same advantage, that same synergy, with most of his team. Almost all of them - Weavile, Bisharp, Metagross, Tyranitar, Unfezant - had been caught and trained for the League; he did not have the same bonds with them that Ash did with his team. Only his Charizard, who had stood by him ever since a fateful encounter at Sycamore's Lab, came close to that.
Yet even if he lost, facing a trainer like Ash was an honor. The problem was that there was more at stake here than a League trophy.
He'd failed them. He’d been so determined to protect Sycamore and Lysandre, his mentors, that he was cold and callous toward Mairin, someone who had cared for and respected him - and not only she, but her beloved Chespin, had paid the price. After it had fallen into a coma after their last argument, Alain couldn't bear facing her. What had happened to them was his fault, and he couldn't forgive himself until he fixed it. Lysandre, wise and generous, had offered a cure if Alain could harness just enough Mega Evolution energy, and he would continue to do exactly that for Mairin's sake. So if he had to beat Ash to become strong enough to accomplish that, so be i-
Alain stopped and shuddered. He'd almost felt something crawl down his back. After a pause, he shook off the brief sensation and headed toward the light of the arena.
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YOU HAVE BEEN MARKED
It all had come to this.
The battle was now down to Alain's Charizard, which had attained its Mega X form, and Ash's Greninja, who had in turn become so in-sync with Ash that it had attained a unique alternate form of its own. Both were worn down but still putting up a good fight.
"Cut!" yelled Ash, clenching his hand into a fist.
"Dragon Claw!" said Alain, doing the same.
His Charizard roared as its claws glowed green and extended into blades of jade-green energy, flying forward to rush Greninja, itself having conjured two white blades of energy. The two nearly collided and then swiped at each other with their weapons in a frenzy.
"Thunder Punch!" said Alain, hoping to catch Greninja off guard.
The charge in Charizard's claws changed from green to a brilliant crackling yellow, and it charged at Greninja with them. Greninja parried back and forth with its water shurikens before the two were sent skidding back by decisive blows.
"Giant Water Shuriken, now!" said Ash.
Alain watched in horror as a massive vortex of water surrounded Greninja, its shuriken rapidly growing larger.
"Blast Burn!" he said.
Charizard roared and glowed with blue flames as it slammed the ground, the spurt of oncoming magmafied earth colliding with the massive, glowing shuriken.
What resulted was massive billowing clouds of smoke and steam, so encompassing of the battlefield that Alain couldn't see through any of it and coughed and hacked.
As it all cleared Ash's Greninja stood tall...
...before toppling over, its alternate form reverting to normal and Ash collapsing in response.
Charizard roared to the skies in triumph as the announcer gleefully declared Alain the winner. As its own form reverted, Alain walked over to congratulate it heartily before heading over to Ash. Ash and his Greninja were helping each other to their feet - the latter's transformation took a toll on them both, he knew - congratulated them both, and gave Ash a solid handshake. As he did so he glanced up and saw Mairin, the one he was doing all this for, looking down and smiling. He loved when she was happy. He gave a glance back at his Charizard, smiling in turn..
Charizard never let their Trainers down.
Not long after, Alain stood upon a podium with Diantha, who held a golden Pokéball trophy. Everyone around them watched in awe and Ash even stepped forth to congratulate them. Alain took the trophy, smiling.
But then the crawling feeling came down his back again. Then the vines appeared. Vines of massive size, creeping into the stadium an alarming rate, sending the crowd scattering, screaming. Alain and Ash had no choice but to run off and find out what was going on.
Alain stood awestruck, gazing from the top of Lumiose Tower at the chaos Lumiose City had descended into after he had left the stadium. Above him the sky was a deep, unnatural blood-red, and below him Lumiose was covered in vines like the ones from the stadium and deep fissures in the earth, the work of a brainwashed Zygarde. Ash and his Pokemon were behind him, pinned to floating restraints. Next to him was Lysandre, one of his mentors, the man who had promised to help keep the people Alain cared about safe.
And was now thanking him for making this calamity possible.
Alain thought back, thought to all the Mega Evolution energy he had gathered for Lysandre, all he kept insisting was for "peaceful purposes"... that had amounted to this.
Immediately Alain fell to his knees. He was a fool. He had helped doom his entire world over some superficial ruse, and failed in his goal in the process. He was worthless.
...No. He wouldn't let things end this way. Something squirmed inside him as a desire to create a divergence point from the disaster he saw coming grew.
As he staggered to his feet, he grabbed Charizard's Pokeball and hurled it towards Lysandre. Charizard emerged with a snarl. Lysandre merely scoffed.
"So you'd turn against my ideals so easily. Very well."
He in turn released a Gyarados, one with massive red scales. He touched a ring on his finger with a Key Stone, both it and a Mega Stone on the Gyarados' neck resonating as crackling coils of light formed between the two. Gyarados glowed a fiery orange as its form bent and twisted into a massive, hulking Mega Gyarados.
Alain responded by touching the Mega Stone on his wristband, causing stronger, brighter crackling coils of light to form between between it and Charizard's Mega Stone. Charizard roared as it glowed a fiery orange itself, its form changing and growing until the glow disappeared to reveal its black-and blue Mega X form.
"Dragon Claw!" said Alain.
Charizard roared as it rushed Gyarados with glowing green claws. Lysandre simply smirked and chuckled.
The Gyarados wreathed itself in a red and pink glowing aura as it weaved away from Charizard's strike with surprising ease.
Alain's eyes widened. "Thunder Punch!"
Charizard's claws crackled with electricity as it rushed the Gyarados again.
Lysandre's smirk never disappeared. "Crunch."
His Gyarados used its enhanced agility to weave aside from a Thunderpunch strike and clamp down on and twist Charizard's arm in an unnatural angle with glowing fangs. Charizard roared in anguish.
"Charizard, no! No!' said Alain, barely containing his urge to rush forward and help.
Lysandre scowled. "I almost thought you'd be an ally in my new world, Alain. Almost."
The Gyarados slammed Charizard into the metal ceiling of Lumiose Tower, creating shockwaves for an Earthquake. An audible crack could be heard from Charizard's wing.
"But that was foolish of me. You're just as much of a toxin as the rest of humanity. Goodbye."
As Charizard staggered to its feet, Gyarados rushed forward on a torrent of water, knocking it back straight into Alain. Alain and Charizard fell from Lumiose Tower, screaming all the way down.
All Alain knew after picking himself up from the cracked, vine-encrusted pavement was that Charizard had managed to grab him and soar weakly just above the ground before dropping him and crashing elsewhere.
As Alain attempted to move his broken body across the landscape, he heard no noise from where it had crashed.
As he staggered, however, Alain did hear two unearthly screams from the top of the tower - ones he recognised as Ash and his Greninja. Soon after, he heard the roars of not one but two brainwashed Zygarde as the ground began to glow red. To Alain's horror, the roars merged into one, very different roar, and the vines suddenly grew upward to meet glowing red cracks in the sky and start tearing it and the very space of Lumiose City apart.
Alain stumbled and scrambled as reality literally fell apart at the seams around him, before being sent hurtling through the shattering wreckage of his universe, once again falling and screaming until he saw nothing, heard nothing, felt nothing.
Alain woke up, lying prone, alone in a black space that would seem to be a void if he couldn't make out the outlines of fragments of his old world around him. He lay there awhile, initially stunned as the realizations hit him. Everything he knew was gone. Everyone he cared about was dead. And he had paved the way for it all to happen.
He lay there, desperately choking back the urge to sob. Mairin was gone. Charizard was gone. Sycamore was gone. Ash was gone. Everyone he knew, lost forever on his own naive delusions.
He finally staggered back to his feet, wondering if he was dead as well, and then noticed the light in the black space was coming from glowing purple ones and zeroes floating above him.
Suddenly he gasped in pain as a strand of such ones and zeroes burst from his back and slithered up to meet its fellows, coalescing together with them as they briefly flashed orange and lumped together to form a glowing white box with black letters that seemed to narrate themselves with a booming but digitized voice inside Alain's head:
God I hate Alain so much. He'd never get away with half the **** he did if he was real.
The word "real" echoed in Alain's mind more than any other. This box came from... someone with no name, no identity, who was more "real" than he was? This didn't make any sense!
Before he could ponder the question further, another white, anonymous text box popped up next to the first:
Alain is a shining example of how not to write a fictional character. He's such an awful Stu.
Fictional? This thing was telling him he was fictional? He felt real, and everything he'd been through had all too much! And what was this about being a "Stu"?! None of this made any sense still!
Before he could raise any further silent protests a third white text box popped up.
Alain should have never beaten Ash in that tournament. It's like they set up his whole character to just ruin everything at the last minute.
...They knew? Whatever they were, these "real" beings knew how he had brought an end to the world? Did they know of all other's lives too?
As he staggered back in shock, the first two boxes reverted back into glowing purple ones and zeroes, which coiled toward him, forming a pair of chains that dug into the flesh of his arms and bound him to the ground. As he yelled in pain, the third box turned into a serpent of ones and zeroes that forced itself down Alain's throat as he gagged and heaved and choked to vomit it back up. He was brought to his knees as the things spread throughout his entire body, writhing to cause him immense agony.
The words from the boxes echoed endlessly in his mind as he screamed.
The further she ran, the more screaming, vile text boxes emerged in her way. She dashed past them, sometimes through them, the purple ones and zeroes chasing after her all the way.
She would find him. Her and Alain's story couldn't end like this, not after all he'd done for her.
She needed to see him happy again.
As Alain knelt before the ones and zeroes that were pinning him down and twisting his body from the inside, they changed into more text boxes, multiplying rapidly.
Edgelord with an edgezard. Why did anyone ever expect anything good to come out of Alain again?
Alain's too naive. Look at how easily he fell for Lysandre! He makes Sycamore seem genre-savvy.
Alain's a failure to Mairin. Not that that annoying * was worth anything anyway.
Alain screamed as his body and skin were afflicted by the multiplying ones and zeroes, wracking him further as more boxes appeared. He clawed through his clothes and gouged his skin trying desperately to get the things out of his body, clawed out his hair trying to rip the echoing voices out of his head. The panicked, frenzy part of his mind still implored: Why? Why were these "real" people doing this to him?
Then a voice, more booming than all the others, echoed through his head.
The people of this "reality..." Their words are my punishment to you for denying my new world, Alain.
His voice faded... only to subsume the digitized voices from the boxes in Alain's head, the ones and zeroes likewise turning a deep, flare-like orange.
Alain had stopped screaming at that point. His vocal cords had given out. He crumpled, letting his body continue to convulse as he lay prone. He closed his eyes, resigning himself to an eternity of torment.
He opened them to a sudden burst of flame.
Charizard stood her ground. A few of the text boxes were obliterated by the Fire Blast, but the rest remained. The ones and zeroes seethed, roiled in anger, and brought up boxes targeting her instead of Alain.
Charizard snarled at the echoing voices, then gave a roar of defiance. <Say all you want to me! Leave him alone!>.
She needed no command. She punched the ground of the black space to send a massive, magma-like wave of flame at the boxes. They were obliterated instantly, the ones and zeroes reverting to purple and upon the damage and retreating with buzzing that sounded like panicked hissing.
Charizard only took a short breather from the Blast Burn before rushing over and clawing away the ones and zeroes still binding Alain, scooping him up in her claws. Alain clutched her scaly chest with his convulsing hand.
"C-Charizard... Leave me... I deserve this fate... "
<No you don't!> she said. <I care about you! I can't leave you like this!>
He didn't seem to understand her still. "Charizard, please... the people of this real world are right... I'm not worth it... Just go on without me..."
<I don't care how right they are! I never will!>
Tears started streaming down her face. <You're worth it to me!>
At this, golden ones and zeroes began appearing and spiraling around the two, cheerier voices from them echoing in both their heads.
Alain is awesome!
Honestly, Alain's got such a good character arc if you look closely enough. Can't wait to see where it goes next.
Alain's friendship with Mairin is so sweet! I wish we could see more of them!
The rings of ones and zeroes were set alight by Charizard's tail, becoming a brilliant golden flame engulfing them both. Alain simply smiled and stroked Charizard's jaw with a now-steady hand. Charizard smiled back.
As the flames overwhelmed them both she could feel a rip in the void opening from the heat. She could feel herself and Alain be painlessly reduced to golden, glowing ashes that were guided through the rend by the remaining numbers. She could feel their ashes separating, drifting apart only to both settle in points in space and time of a world far different than what Lysandre wanted - or the one they left.
And she waited.
00111110 01001110 01100101 01110111 00100000 01000111 01100001 01101101 01100101
Alain brushed at his orange hair - the notion of dyeing it black kept crossing his mind, but he rejected it every time, that could be ugly with his orange jacket - and looked around the route he was travelling, then sent out his Charizard and smiled brightly at her.
"Good thing you were in your ball for that rainstorm, Cuyahoga - I got soaked!"
Cuyahoga gave a nod and a reassuring growl before a voice interrupted them both.
"Charizard, eh? Let's see how it does against my prize Clawitzer!"
Indeed, a young male Trainer with a black outfit and purple hair was standing nearby, a Clawitzer next to him. Alan grinned and stepped forward. "Challenge accepted!"
Cuyahoga stepped forward as well, and Alain touched an earring with a Key Stone. Immediately the Key Stone resonated with an orange-yellow-and-red Mega Stone attached to the end of an elaborate necklace Cuyahoga was wearing. Strands of pink and purple light arced between the two and eventually broke off to form a glowing cocoon of energy around Cuyahoga, from which she emerged in a form with extra, longer horns and bigger wings. She roared as the sun's rays grew especially harsh.
The young man visibly panicked. "C-Clawitzer, Hydro Pump!"
The Clawitzer attempted to fire a large jet of water from his claw. Cuyahoga simply flew out of the way and soared upward, the jet fizzling out in the sun.
Alain grinned again. "Aw yeah! Cuyahoga's no mon to be underestimated! Solarbeam!"
Cuyahoga charged a bright green beam of light within her enlarged jaws, firing it from above. The Clawitzer didn't stand a chance.
The young man paled, quickly tossed Alain some money, recalled his Clawitzer, and fled.
Alain laughed and hugged Cuyahoga just before a second cocoon reverted her to normal. "Haha, that's my girl! You sure showed him!"
He felt at the necklace with her Mega Stone at the end. "This necklace I got for you looks great! Do you like it?"
Cuyahoga nodded and growled affectionately again, and Alain smiled.
He felt the five other Pokeballs on his belt, then rummaged in his bag to pull out a small package.
"Professor Sycamore told us to give this package to this Mairin girl - she sounded really nice!"
He frowned. "Though... He didn't know for sure where she was aside from being in that Alola region... Not to mention he's still really depressed over what happened with Lysandre... I'll be honest, even though I never met him I smelled something fishy about that guy even before he did horrible things like monnap Xerneas and try to kill everybody..."
Cuyahoga nodded sternly. Alain looked up at her and smiled.
"But if we can get this package to that Mairin lady, I think she and I could team up to cheer him up! What do you think?"
Cuyahoga smiled back and gave a roar of approval. Alain nodded. "All right! Let's go!"
He began to walk off. Cuyahoga stared a while after.
She had known at first sight it was really him, even after years of obliviousness. Finally meeting him again after the start of another lifetime brought everything rushing back, showed her they'd made it out to a better world. He, however, still only retained flickers of all they'd been through before. She did not know if meeting Mairin again would be the trigger, or something else, or nothing at all. All she knew was she had to protect him no matter what.
She flew off after him.
Charizard never let their Trainers down.