I have Tereus drop me off in Geosenge Town and take a look around. The ultimate weapon is really quite spectacular: a glassy blue-green flower, several stories high, with three long triangular petals that seem to have knocked over several buildings as it bloomed. I head for the megalithic structure to the northwest of town, which is almost certainly the entrance to Team Flare’s secret base, and enter the building with Serena to confront Lysandre. The elevator drops us in a sort of control room, where there are a few Team Flare members standing around, apparently uninterested in fighting, and some scientists performing last-minute calculations. We overhear some of their discussion – the weapon is powering up, drawing energy from the hundreds of Pokémon they captured using stolen Pokéballs, but most of its power is coming from inside the facility itself. We approach the front of the control room, where Lysandre is staring intently through a plate glass window at a chamber several levels below us. At the bottom is… a tree. An old, dead, white tree, hooked up to a complicated machine. Xerneas’ tree.
Lysandre greets us as we approach him. Serena defiantly proclaims our opposition to him, to which he restates his position: there are too many people in the world, and not enough resources; the only way for everyone to be happy is if there are fewer people. People don’t share, Lysandre says – even Serena and I couldn’t share my Digivice. “When there is only one of something, it can’t be shared. When something can’t be shared, it will be fought over. And when something is fought over, some must survive without it.”
“What about Pokémon?” Serena cries. Wait, that’s a good point, actually. Lysandre pauses. He seems to be struggling to speak. Finally, a tear rolls down his cheek and splashes on the floor.
“Pokémon… shall no longer exist.”
As long as there are Pokémon, Lysandre explains sorrowfully, people who can control them will use them to conquer and steal from others. It’s better if they all go now. He shakes his head briskly, as if to clear it, and walks towards us. If it’ll take another battle to keep me and Serena from interfering with the ultimate weapon, so be it. Lysandre’s Mienfoo and Murkrow have evolved now, into Mienshao and Honchkrow, which complicates things. Odysseus and Pan have to tag-team Mienshao, and Pan is knocked out by its Acrobatics (I admittedly have… something of a blind spot for Flying attacks), but I manage to heal Odysseus and finish Mienshao, as well as Honchkrow. Gyarados flattens Odysseus with its Outrage, and I switch to Orion, but this Gyarados isn’t falling for the same trick twice; he fights through his confusion and defeats Orion with a powerful Earthquake. I have Photia turn his incredible strength against him with Foul Play, which brings Gyarados down in a couple of turns, and out comes Pyroar, who finishes Photia with a mighty Fire Blast. Finally, I send in Pytho, dampen Pyroar with a Rain Dance, and drown it in Muddy Water. Lysandre sighs heavily and asks why I bother. “What are you really protecting?” he asks. “A tomorrow that will only end up being worse than today?” I glare at him, and something inside me snaps.
“You just don’t get it do you? You think you’re some great visionary who’s seen the only way to peace and prosperity with your ‘how can I possibly save everyone?’ fallen hero bull$#!t, but you’re just taking the easy way out! Any barbarian can unleash death to destroy a civilisation; it takes true greatness to build an empire of new life! You think that as long as Pokémon exist, people will use them for war and theft? Well, you ain’t seen nothing yet, bub! So I’ll tell you what’s going to happen. I am going to go down there. Your ridiculous little paprika-flavoured goon squad are going to try to stop me, and they are going to fail. I am going to attune to this precious legendary Pokémon of yours. Then I am going to take a large, rough, jagged object the size and approximate shape of a Farfetch’d and his leek, and wedge it deep within your most private crevice, and when I have done that my Pokémon and I are going to conquer this silly backwards little region and rule it together, because that is what trainers and Pokémon do. We destroy our enemies, protect our friends, and enslave our inferiors to build glorious monuments to our own greatness! Now what is wrong with that?”
Lysandre and Serena are both staring at me, jaws hanging open. In fact, so is practically everyone else in the control room. I look around, shrug, and lunge at Lysandre. He flinches, and I seize the moment to run for the stairs to the lower levels, cackling maniacally as I go. Serena looks toward the stairs, then at Lysandre, then back to the stairs, then at Lysandre again, throws up her arms in defeat, and follows me. Together, we fight our way through several Team Flare grunts and admins defending the stairwells and passages leading down to Xerneas’ chamber. About halfway down, we are joined by Shauna, who… wants to cheer for us, I guess? I grudgingly agree to let her tag along; she’s made it this far without being killed, after all – and she even manages to help out. When we last saw Clemont, the Lumiose City Gym Leader, he gave Shauna a machine for solving puzzles, which she uses to hack into the security door at the bottom of the last stairwell and get us inside. That… is an incredibly powerful and potentially mischievous piece of technology she’s been toting around all this time. Too bad it breaks after one use. As we step through the door and behold the ultimate weapon’s power system, pulsing gently as it leeches energy from Xerneas’ tree, a group of six Team Flare admins materialise from nowhere and attack us. Shauna panics and flees, chased by two of them, and Serena runs to help her, leaving me to deal with the other four. Photia hardly breaks a sweat turning their minds inside out, and they flee to gather reinforcements, leaving me alone with the tree. I call to Xerneas, and it cries out in response. The tree glows with a brilliant light, and the rainbow stag bursts forth in all its glory, shattering the machine binding it. It doesn’t want to be enslaved to Lysandre. It wants my help – but first, as always, we have to battle.
Xerneas, the embodiment of life, is an extremely powerful Fairy-type mixed attacker with an ability, Fairy Aura, that gives Fairy-type techniques like Moonblast additional power. Like many legendary Pokémon, he comes with a signature move: Geomancy, a two-turn boosting technique that raises special attack, special defence and speed by two levels (slap on a Power Herb and this thing is Quiver Dance on steroids!). I command Ilex to wear him down with Nature Power and disable him with Sleep Powder, then start throwing Pokéballs. It doesn’t take long for one to stick. I walk over to the Pokéball lying on the ground, dismissing Photia back to the PC network, and pick it up… and everything changes.
I’m… alive. Xerneas’ power is intoxicating; his presence makes me feel like a veil has been lifted from my eyes, almost like I’m seeing colour for the first time. Xerneas can see and feel life itself, vibrant and glorious, and his supernatural senses are flooding my mind. Although my back is turned, I know that Serena and Shauna are back in the room – I can feel their lives, radiant amongst the glimmering pinpricks of the microbes in the air. I feel like if I focussed I could feel every living thing in Kalos. I decide to try. Dimly, I hear a voice. “What a startling development! I never would’ve thought you were really a chosen one!” It’s Lysandre. He has built his own Digivice in the form of a finger ring, powered by some monstrous contraption – three buzzing metal insects, tethered to a brass gauntlet, all wired up to an electronic visor. None of it is breathing, none of it is alive; I quickly lose interest and return to my attempts to expand my mind. Lysandre continues talking – he is disgusted with Xerneas for wanting help from a mere human, and seems to be unwilling to admit defeat yet. I pay little attention, still curiously testing the limits of Xerneas’ senses, trying to touch the lives of absent friends… until he says one thing: “I’ll be taking the Legendary Pokémon back now!” Wait… what? My mind snaps back to the room we’re in, focussing once more on my physical senses. He wants to take Xerneas away from me? Oh, dear… what a stupid man.
I thought I knew what it was like to work together with a Pokémon, but the sheer joy of fighting with Xerneas is something else. He seems to respond as much to my thoughts as to my words, striking down Lysandre’s Mienshao with Moonblast before it can take a single step. As he calls on his Honchkrow, I command Xerneas to tap into a nearby ley line with Geomancy. I feel the sting of Honchkrow’s Steel Wing as it slices at Xerneas’ hide, threatening his concentration, but he fights through it and blows the bird Pokémon away with another Moonblast. Pyroar’s fire repels the lunar onslaught for only a moment before he suffers the same fate. Finally Lysandre calls upon his Pokémon partner, Gyarados, using his technology and their bond to let it Digivolve into an even more monstrous and terrible version of its former self – to no avail. One final Moonblast finishes it. I walk forward to stand by Xerneas and rest my hand on his flank as we return to dreaming of the life of Kalos. Somewhere in the background, I am aware of Serena and Shauna’s voices. They are encouraging Lysandre not to give up on his old life, to go back to helping people and build a better future for everyone. I’m no longer sure it matters. Joy, suffering… it’s all still life, isn’t it? Isn’t life all that’s important? Or… is that Xerneas talking? I shake my head, trying to clear it. Lysandre is still speaking. He wants to use the trickle of Xerneas’ energy left in the weapon. “Let us live forever… that’s right! I shall grant you eternal life! I’ll give you the pain of endlessly waiting for a beautiful world to finally be built!” That… that doesn’t sound so bad, actually… An eternity basking in the radiance of life with Xerneas, my mind floating amongst all the living things in the entire world… I ignore Serena and Shauna’s protests and let myself drift off.
Hands, dragging me… pulling me onto Xerneas’ back… carrying me away… up and out…
Some hours later, I wake up in Geosenge Town. There is a huge crater where the ultimate weapon used to be. Left and Right are standing over me in their superhero masks, along with Shauna, Tierno, Trevor and Serena. While Serena, Shauna and I were below, the others had been fighting to free the Pokémon connected to the Geosenge menhirs. Lysandre is nowhere to be seen. Did he succeed in making himself immortal? Or did he die in the collapse of the hideout? Is he down there, buried beneath the rubble, broken but unable to die? I can’t feel his life anymore; Xerneas’ magical perception has left me. Once the others are satisfied that I am once again relatively sane and in no immediate danger, they disperse, suggesting that we all pick up where we left off in Anistar City. Once I am the only one left, AZ approaches me. He’s free at last, and means to return to his search for his missing partner. I wish him luck as he trudges away. Will the poor guy ever find his Pokémon? Will we ever find out what happened to Lysandre? And what the hell is this ‘intriguing stone’ Tierno gave me back in Shalour City?
As for me, the dizzying high of my first exposure to Xerneas has left me, but the world somehow seems brighter, more magnificent than ever before – making me more determined than ever before to conquer it, with my new legendary partner Pokémon by my side!
Ridiculous quote log:
“You fools! You don’t even have suits!”
…yeah, because those white Team Flare suits make you look so classy.
“Not having a ton of money is really stressful, you know…”
Oh, I feel your pain, dude; it must be really hard to be a leader in an organisation with a ¥ 5,000,000 membership fee…