PrologueThe Wyndon Stadium throbbed with excitement as Chairman Leon's booming voice declared the Championship Match on. On one side of the arena stood reigning Champion Crux Fischer, smugly flipping a Luxury Ball and resplendent in a suit with a blue-and-white harlequin pattern. On the other side, a challenger. A boy of about eighteen. He wore a black leather jacket, black jeans, and a grey glove on his left hand with a singular golden scale on the back of the hand. His hair was the color of dark chocolate, with a shock of white cutting through it like lightning through the summer sky. His face was a mask of determination and he held no ball.
Fischer laughed and threw his checkered hat in the air to much applause. He leapt three feet into the air and spun like a ballerina, throwing the ball. A veteran Scyther emerged as the crowd roared. It held its battle-notched blades high and bellowed a challenge. The challenger raised a single thin eyebrow. Suddenly, imperceptibly fast, left leg relaxed and snapped out. From a pouch on his leg flew a Premier Ball. It landed on the pitch, releasing a scruffy-looking Chesnaught. Despite the obvious type disadvantage, the boy seemed unruffled. The Chesnaught dropped into a fighting stance and made a face that was as close as Chesnaughts could come to a smirk.
Scott Lockwood regarded the Scyther with cold detachment as its wings beat faster and faster. Soon it appeared to be in six places at once. Lockwood was familiar with Double Team. It was Fischer's favorite opener. Lockwood didn't believe in merely defeating his opponents. In the case of the flamboyant, cocky Champion, he wanted to utterly humiliate him. As the Scythers began whirling around the arena like homing missiles, searching for chinks in his Chesnaught's armor, Lockwood raised one delicate, pale finger. Chesnaught surged forwards, firing a Vine Whip from its wrist that wrapped around an afterimage of Scyther. A section of the crowd wearing the Champion's colors burst out laughing. Suddenly a Scyther dove in for the kill. The afterimages faded as the mantis barreled in, aiming its blades at the center of Chesnaught's back. The great Grass Pokemon suddenly whirled, its left arm shooting down and out like a hammer. Scyther dodged and resumed its Double Teaming. The crowd cheered.
Lockwood coughed. Suddenly Chesnaught stopped scanning about and tucked into a ball. It began rapidly spinning about, sweeping the area around it with spines. Fischer seemed puzzled.
"Running a merry-go-round, Locky? I've been around the block more times than you, you know."
"Then let's shut this circus down. Chesnaught... Frenzy Plant." Vines shot out from the spiky maelstrom, cracking the air like a thousand whips. Each afterimage of Scyther was struck simultaneously. All but one vanished as the Mantis Pokemon was yanked into the spiny sphere. The bug's howl of agony pierced the arena. Lockwood was immensely satisfied with this result. Fischer had overestimated his speed advantage. Unlike gorilla-sized nature spirits, vines were not at all bulky. The stadium had just seen the Champion's blinding opening combo dismantled by a slow Grass/Fighting type. As Fischer recalled his Pokemon, Lockwood cast a beaming smile at the sputtering Champion. Fischer grimaced and whipped a second Ball across the field. It erupted out into the Champion's famous ace, his Eiscue. This Pokemon rarely took the field so early, and Lockwood took its entrance as a sign that he had breached the air of elevated strategy that the Champion surrounded himself with.
"Not switching, kid? I take it you're a one-trick Ponyta, then! Eiscue, Dynamax!" The penguin grew to massive size as the cheers built to a crescendo. The temperature in the stadium dropped several degrees. Lockwood flicked an imaginary snowflake off his jacket.
"Chesnaught! Gyro Ball!" At once, the Spiny Armor Pokemon sprang up, converting the stored energy from its rotation into forward motion. As the spiked behemoth rocketed towards the towering Eiscue, Scott Lockwood found his mind wandering back in time...
Chapter IThe Wyndon Stadium throbbed with excitement as Chairman Leon's booming voice declared the Championship Match on. On one side of the arena stood reigning Champion Trent Morrow, a surly Tyranitar by his side and a Gallade at his back. On the other side, a challenger. A pale-skinned young man in a pink trenchcoat with shoulder-length white hair. He tossed out two Heal Balls, and a Solrock and Lunatone materialized to flank him. The crowd was at their wildest. In a private box in the 200 level, a boy with brown hair eagerly ran to see over the railing. What better way to celebrate your thirteenth birthday than to watch your brother battle Galar's great Champion? Especially when your brother was the Man of Iron Mind, Psychic gym leader Arthur Lockwood.
"Merrick! Do you see him?" A Yanma buzzing at the boy's shoulder flicked its tail in response. The four fielded Pokemon moved into 3-on-3 formation as Morrow threw a third ball and released his ace, a glimmering Cryogonal. Arthur waved to his brother and tossed out his own ace, his famous Metagross, to complete the lineup. In a flash, the field went from calm to frenzied. Morrow's Gallade blinked forwards, only to have his blades stayed by Solrock's psychic barrier. Tyranitar roared a challenge at Metagross and a slugfest erupted between the two pseudo-legends. Arthur's Lunatone fired an arrow of moonlight at Tyranitar, which was reflected away by Cryogonal's crystalline body. The crowd was on their feet now. The boy in the box turned to his Pokemon. "Do you have to buzz so much, Merrick? I can't hear the announcer!" The Yanma settled its wings to perch on the railing as the stadium shook from an impact. Tyranitar had picked Metagross up and slammed its metal body into the stadium floor. Seconds later, Lunatone lifted the dinosaur into the air and sent it spiraling headfirst into the boards, shaking the stands. The green dragon shook off the impact and sprinted across the pitch to punch at Metagross, who recovered and pinned Tyranitar's arm with two of its legs and began firing beams of psionic force. The spectators were so entranced by the clash of legends that they failed to notice a tall man in a feathered coat stroll onto the pitch.
The man stopped at center field, directly under where Solrock and Cryogonal were exchanging Power Gems and Ice Beams. Both Trainers noticed him and ceased all combat with a few gestures. Morrow stalked to the center to see what had interrupted the Championship Match, Arthur following suit. Suddenly, Morrow froze. He, like the rest of the crowd, recognized this man. It was the disgraced former Flying gym leader, Sterling Price, who had been barred from major league competition six years ago for trying to fix a playoff match by sneaking his Jumpluff's Leech Seeds into the pregame meal of his opponent's sweeper. Why was he here? Price was holding a Master Ball in his hand, which wore a Dynamax Band. A Dynamax Band that Price wasn't supposed to have. Morrow opened his mouth, but the feathered newcomer shushed the Champion and spoke up himself.
"Well! Here I am! You," he said, waving at the crowd and then jabbing a finger at Morrow, "tried to wrest my chance at eternal fame and glory from me! And you thought you succeeded! The nerve of you!" His face twisted into the manic grin of a man who was clearly no longer sane. "Well! Here I am! And all of you, gathered to see my rise to immortality! I shall not bow to your 'regulations' and 'authority' again. Now, come! Serve me in eternity!" He cackled like a howler monkey and threw the master ball. A hulking red and black shape burst forth. Before the smoke cleared, Dynamax Energy gathered. A gigantic Yveltal rose up. The crowd devolved into pandemonium. Yveltal was death incarnate, and here it was being Dynamaxed by a lunatic who lacked the willpower to marshal it. The great dark vulture opened its bloodshot eyes and shuddered, as if resisting something. But the red energy overflowed the dark bird, and shadowy tendrils burst forth from its vast chest. And Yveltal uttered a terrible cry, a cry of pain. Price cackled.
The tendrils groped into the fleeing crowd, sucking their bodies dry of life. Spectators crumbled to ash as their spirits were drained into the tortured bird. There was no sign of anyone on the pitch but Price. A tendril snuck down to impale the cloaked man, drawing him into the miasma. His Dynamax band shattered, releasing enough energy to level a village. Yveltal absorbed it all, growing larger and more unstable. With a ghastly shriek, it wrenched the life from an entire quadrant of the stadium. Those who observed it later recalled seeing something strange on the bird's face: It was crying.
In the box, Scott Lockwood stood silently behind a pillar, watching in shell shocked horror as the dust of his parents settled. He fell to his knees and howled a raspy cry of despair. Merrick the Yanma furtively poked his master in the arm, tugging at the boy's sleeve.
Scott Lockwood, tears in his eyes, ran from the stadium, his Yanma in hot pursuit. He skidded into a maintenance hall that led to the outside and dropped through a crawlway into one of the many tunnels adjacent the pitch. There, he found something that shook him to his core.
Arthur Lockwood, his coat dusted with death ash, stood cradling a skeleton. The skeleton was caked with ash and wore a familiar jersey. The Champion's jersey. Morrow's jersey. Scott ran to his brother.
"Scott! No. Get out of here. Run as far as you can."
"I must stay here. There are innocent people trapped in this building."
"I'll help you save them! We can do it, Arty! Remember when we fought that rabid Linoone that was attacking our town?"
"Scott, this is different. This is not your fight. You need to leave me. Go with Father."
"Father is dead. I'm staying here."
"Scott. I won't ask again. Run." He shoved the irrational boy towards the main hall as his head whipped over his shoulder. "RUN! SCOTT, GO!" A tendril of Yveltal's miasma snaked through the hall towards the brothers. Arthur grabbed his brother by the neck and ran down the hall. They came to a collapsed section. The only way forwards was to climb a crumbling wall, and there wasn't time. Arthur grimaced and took up a Heal Ball as the miasma filled the corridor.
No sooner did Scott Lockwood hit the floor than he was lifted up. The blue eyes of Artemis, his brother's Lunatone, stared him down. The Meteorite Pokemon had telekinetically lifted them both up over the obstacle. Scott looked back down and saw his brother standing there, smiling sadly. His Solrock was using its psychic power to hold the all-consuming aura back, but its stony body was rapidly disintegrating under the stress. Arthur looked up, tears in his eyes.
"Goodbye, little brother. I know you'll do great things, greater even than me. I've always known. But the time to fight is not now. You must go. Maybe someday you will be the one to set things right, but right now, all you can do is keep living. That's my final lesson to you, little brother. I love you." The psychic barrier evaporated and the miasma surged forwards, enveloping Arthur Lockwood. Only the silhouette of his coat was left hanging there against the flash.
"NOOOOOOOOO!!!" Scott tried to hurl himself into the mist, but Artemis the Lunatone yanked him back. He took off down the passage, the miasma hot on his heels. Suddenly he tripped over a fallen girder, twisting his ankle. Merrick and Artemis looked back and saw their fallen master outlined against the deathly glow. A web of miasma latched onto Scott's left arm and curled up across his face and head. A scream of psychic force cut the air as Artemis's moonbeams cut the tendrils and yanked the barely conscious boy up and away. The two Pokemon and their trainer stumbled over the rubble on their way out of the ruined stadium, just ahead of Death's grasp. They were alive, but everything they'd ever known had died in the cairn of Wyndon Stadium.