Chapter 29: The Darkest Day
Annie and Michael Silverlock wanted nothing more than to have Ruby come back to them safe and sound.
They along with Emerald and Sapphire had been gathered around the TV to watch Ruby's final Champion Cup match with Raihan. Michael had even brought pizza for the occasion, the empty boxes lying beside the sofa. They had been horrified to see what was happening over at Wyndon. The news footage didn't do anything to make the situation seem any less dire, showing multiple screens displaying huge pillars of Dynamax energy shooting up from all over the region. Where was it all heading and what did this all mean? Why had the sky turned black and what was this "Eternatus" thing that was supposedly responsible for this madness? Michael held Annie tight, determined not to let her go while Emerald hugged herself tightly, her arms wrapped firmly around her legs. Her eyes were wide with shock and her face had gone pale. Sapphire was by the door, keeping an eye out for Ruby. Her instincts told her that her big sister would be on her way home so she had chosen to watch out for her. The TV was still on, playing the news as several reporters were trying to make sense on what was happening.
"…many historians are saying that the ancient event known as "The Darkest Day" is happening all over again." the newswoman said, "Whatever the Chairman has done with this so-called "Eternatus", it seems to have brought the Darkest Day back to our region. All we can advise is that you all stay in your homes and out of danger until this threat can be contained. I'm gettin' reports that Champion Leon is on his way to Hammerlocke City to deal with this apocalyptic threat right now. I'm sure all of Galar is thinking the same thing right now: For the sake of everyone Leon, please stop the Darkest Day."
"Mum…is it the end of the world?" Emerald asked, her voice wobbly and on the verge of tears.
"I don't know sweetheart." Annie said anxiously. She didn't know what else to say at this point.
"I hope Ruby gets back to us." Michael said, his voice tense and full of concern, "If this is the end of the world, I want all of us to be together so if we are to die, at least we can die as a family!"
"Mum! Dad! She's here!" Sapphire called from outside the sitting room, "She's coming towards us now!"
The entire family was on its feet in seconds. They stampeded to the door and rushed out to see Ruby was indeed coming towards them, flying on Soundwave the Noivern's back. The Dragon/Flying Pokémon had been flying as fast as he could and amazingly enough, he didn't even seem tired. He felt as if he could fly Ruby all the way back to Wyndon and still have enough energy left in him. Soundwave raised his legs and slowed his descent, landing delicately just on the steps outside the house. Ruby jumped off his back, returned him to his Pokéball and threw herself into her parent's arms. She grasped them tightly as if they were about to disappear from her life forever. Annie was in tears, delighted that she at least got to see her eldest daughter one last time before the end.
"Oh my baby! Thank goodness you're OK!" Annie exclaimed, "I was so worried about you! I thought you were going to die out there!"
"I nearly did!" Ruby exclaimed, "Raihan saved me back in the stadium before the energy exploded up from under the pitch! I'm so glad you're all OK too!"
She then turned to hug her sisters, the green and blue girls grasping their silver-haired sibling tightly as if this was the last time they'd all see each other. Emerald was also crying, sobbing heavily into her sister's chest while Sapphire managed to look more restrained despite being terrified herself.
"Thank Arceus you came back!" Emerald sobbed, "I was worried we'd never see you again!"
"How did it feel flying back home on that Noivern of yours?" Sapphire asked, "I bet you were going incredibly fast up there!"
"Believe me you two, in any normal circumstances, I would've actually enjoyed that flight." Ruby said grimly, "But never mind that. I'm glad you two are safe and sound!" she cried, hugging her sisters tightly as if they were the most precious treasures she'd ever dug up and didn't want to lose them.
"We're all going to die, aren't we?!" Emerald whimpered.
"I sure hope we aren't, Em...I sure hope not..." Ruby said worriedly.
"What the hell happened out there? Do you have any idea what's causing the Darkest Day to happen again?" Sapphire asked.
"Throughout my journey, the Chairman was telling me he had a project that would benefit Galar. Project: Eternatus he called it." Ruby explained, "I don't know what it is other than the fact it's a Pokémon like nothing we've seen before. Leon told me that much. He's going to try and defeat it, though if Eternatus is powerful enough to cause the Darkest Day, I seriously doubt that he can stop it."
"If he can't, then that'll be it for all of us." Michael said cryptically.
"If this is the end, at least we'll all be together for it." Annie said softly, putting her arms around all three of her daughters.
Ruby, Emerald and Sapphire took a moment to appreciate the hug. With the Darkest Day happening, they would want to make the most of whatever family time they could have together. It made Ruby feel scared and sad that this could be the last moment they'd ever spend together before the end came for Galar. True it would be nice to at least be with her family at the moment the world ended but she didn't want things to just end like this! How could she stand idly by when everything was going to hell around her?! As the family broke up the hug, Annie pushed against her daughters.
"Now you're all here, let's get inside and out from the Darkest Day." she said urgently, "I don't feel safe out here anymore. We'll all huddle together and keep our eyes on the telly for any news about the Darkest Day and if our Champion can put an end to it."
Michael, Emerald and Sapphire started to edge towards the house as Annie headed in. But Ruby didn't move. She stepped away from her mother as she tried to take her in. Emerald and Sapphire looked at her in confusion.
"Ruby, come on! You heard mum! It's not safe out here!" Emerald protested.
"No Emerald." Ruby said firmly, "It may seem like it's the end for all of us, but I'm not willing to stand by and let Eternatus kill us all! Now I know you're safe, I'm going to help Leon stop that thing!"
That declaration more horrified everyone than made them feel at ease.
"No! You can't go back out there Ruby! What if you get killed?!" Annie shrieked.
"My love, take it easy." Michael said hastily, putting an arm around his wife to comfort her, "Need I remind you our little girl is Galar's biggest Gym Challenger and a powerful Pokémon Trainer? She's proven herself worthy of challenging the Champion himself! If Leon needs an extra pair of hands, then who better than our Ruby?" he said, his voice full of pride for his daughter.
"Yeah! My big sis will stop that monster!" Emerald cried, punching the air excitedly.
"I'll try to." Ruby said grimly, "Though if we're to stop that thing, we might need more than just my skills as a trainer. We might need something more...powerful." she murmured.
"You mean like a legendary Pokemon?" Sapphire suggested, "If we knew someone with a Mewtwo or something, I bet that'd stop Eternatus! But we don't! Do you have any ideas where we'd find a legendary Pokemon?"
"I don't know, Sapph, but I'm sure I'll think of something." Ruby said thoughtfully, "Trouble is, I don't think Galar is home to any legendary Pokemon."
"If the legends are true about the Hero of Galar, maybe he'll come and slay that monster!" Michael declared, "Where's that legendary sword and shield when we need them?"
Ruby's mind clicked as something occurred to her. Something that her dad had said. The Legendary Sword and Shield...
"Hang on dad, I think you might be onto something...yes, I think I've got it!" Ruby cried, snapping her fingers.
She felt stupid for not figuring it out sooner. Of course, it was so obvious now! Hadn't she and Sonia been looking into this whole thing over the course of her Pokemon journey? She remembered the conclusion that Sonia had come to about the Hero of Galar. The hero wasn't one guy, but two Pokemon and she had some idea where to start looking for them!
"What is it, Ruby?" Michael asked, "You think you know where we can find any legendary Pokemon?"
"Or better still, the Hero of Galar himself?" Emerald added, "Is he real after all?"
"Sort of." Ruby said, "Allow me to explain. On the day I got my first Pokémon, me and Hop went into the Slumbering Weald to find a runaway Wooloo. We came across a strange Pokémon that was like nothing we'd ever seen before. On my journey through Galar, Sonia's been looking into it and both me and her have discovered that the legendary hero of Galar was not one person, but instead two Pokémon wielding a legendary sword and shield. I think the Pokémon I saw that day might've been one of them. So you see, I'm hoping that I can find the Sword and Shield Pokémon and get them to stop the Darkest Day. So given I saw one of them in the Slumbering Weald, it stands to reason I could find them there."
Her parents and sisters nodded, following where Ruby was going with this. It was interesting to hear that as well as winning lots of Pokémon battles, Ruby had also been part of learning some interesting history. It was fascinating to hear that the legendary hero of Galar was actually two Pokemon and not one person. Talk about facts being lost to history! Annie still looked worried despite all this.
"I dunno, Ruby…what if you can't find those Pokémon? What if they can't stop Eternatus?" she asked nervously.
"It's better I try than do nothing at all." Ruby declared, "I'm going into the Slumbering Weald and I'll find those Pokémon. Please, for my sake, stay inside and don't come after me. I'll give you some of my Pokémon to keep you all safe too."
She whipped out her Box Link device to open her box and bring out as many of her Pokémon as possible. In the end, she brought out pretty much everyone she had caught over her journey such as Raven the Haunter, Gene the Obstagoon, Chomps the Drednaw, Houdini the Noctowl, Sydney the Galvantula, Hawk Moth the Butterfree, Tiger the Arcanine, Matilda the Boldore, Sparkles the Manectric, Scorponok the Drapion, Freddy the Toxtricity and of course, her first Pokémon Bugs the Cinderace. She even brought out Shard the Duraludon, though she had to use a Revive to get him back on his feet thanks to being knocked out by Raihan's Turtonator earlier. She handed her Pokéballs out to each family member and they all wasted no time summoning the Pokémon out of their Pokéballs. Ruby had decided to keep Soundwave, Lancelot, Spearhead and Vesuvius with her. Her Pokémon all surrounded the family to keep them safe from anything that could happen. Despite everything, they all couldn't help but be impressed with how much Pokémon Ruby had caught over the course of her journey.
"Wow, look at all the Pokémon you have!" Emerald gasped excitedly, "You've got so many cool ones and they look so powerful!"
She knelt down to stroke Sparkles. The Manectric appreciated the gesture, licking her hand in thanks. Emerald giggled.
"You're friendly." she said sweetly.
"As are you." Sparkles replied, "It's nice to see that Ruby comes from a nice family."
"I'm gobsmacked you caught a Duraludon of all things." Sapphire said, staring incredulously at Shard, "I bet Raihan was amused about that when you brought it out in your battle with him earlier!"
"He was, actually." Shard confirmed, "Pity I had to lose to him so easily. At least now I can do my trainer proud by protecting her family."
"With a Pokémon like you here, I'd say we're in good hands!" Sapphire laughed.
"You even got a Butterfree! How lovely!" Annie said, cooing at Hawk Moth.
Hawk Moth frowned but said nothing.
Michael found himself staring at Tiger, his eyes wide as memories of his own Arcanine came flooding back to him. It was true that his had died on his hands but just seeing that his little girl had an Arcanine of her own made him smile with pride. He stroked Tiger's head softly.
"You know, I had one of you when I was Ruby's age." he said softly, "And my girl's got herself a very fine looking Arcanine. I know I feel much safer with you here."
"Why thank you." Tiger said appreciatively.
"All of us will keep yer family safe Ruby." Bugs swore, "Ain't no Darkest Day gonna hurt any of dem while we're around!"
"If Eternatus dares to come near us, they'll have us to answer to!" Gene growled, shaking his fists angrily.
"I'd be more interested in seeing if I could akumatize that "Eternatus" creature…" Hawk Moth purred, making Annie stare in surprise as she hadn't expected his deep, gravelly voice to come out of a Butterfree.
"Hawk Moth!" Bugs snapped irritably.
"Don't mind him, he's just being his usual self, Bugs." Ruby said casually.
"So what are you going to do while we protect your family?" Houdini asked.
"I'm going to help put a stop to this madness." Ruby declared, "Keep my family safe for me until I get back."
"We won't let anything bad happen to them Ruby." Raven swore.
Ruby smiled with pride. What fine Pokémon she had caught over time! They were all willing to risk their lives to keep her family safe from The Darkest Day, just as they were willing to fight for her! She then gave her family one last hug before she could set off into the Slumbering Weald. The hug seemed to last an age, like nobody wanted it to end for quite some time.
"Be careful out there." Annie whispered.
"Go save the world Ruby!" Emerald cried.
"We know you can do it." Sapphire said supportively.
"Stop that thing, and please…come back to us alive my girl!" Michael insisted.
"I will." Ruby promised, "No matter what happens…I love you all. Stay safe for me!" she added, kissing everyone goodbye.
And with that, Ruby turned on her heels and began making her way towards Slumbering Weald. But just as she was about to leave, a voice called out to her and made her hesitate. Ruby turned and beamed happily to see that it was only the very boy she wanted to see more than anyone, Hop. As Leon had said, he'd sent his Charizard to bring Hop home by flying him there and after dropping him off, it had now flown back off to re-join Leon so it could fight off Eternatus. Hop had spent the same amount of time as Ruby reuniting with his mother and letting her know that Leon was going to try and stop The Darkest Day. He had also come up with the same idea as Ruby and was hoping to run into her so they could go together. The friends embraced one another.
"Hop! You made it back safely too! Thank Arceus!" Ruby said eagerly, "How's your mum?"
"She's practically barricaded herself in the house." Hop explained, "I've left some of my Pokémon to watch over her. I see you've done the same for yours." he added, looking over at Ruby's house and all the Pokémon she'd left to protect her family.
"I have." Ruby confirmed, "I'm on my way to Slumbering Weald now. I take it you have the same idea?"
Hop quickly explained that he did and why he did so. Ruby couldn't help but chuckle at this.
"How funny! That's exactly what I thought too!" she laughed, "You know, it's funny when you think about it. On the day we first got our Pokémon, we met one of the legendary Heroes of Galar. I wonder if it was all leading to this…" she murmured.
"You did dream about them too so that could be the case." Hop agreed, "I sure hope we find them! If they stopped the Darkest Day before, they can do it again! Let's go!"
The two kids ran off towards Slumbering Weald together to find the Sword and Shield Pokémon. Annie, Michael, Emerald and Sapphire watched them go, all four of them thinking the same thing. Even Bugs and his friends shared the same thought as they watched the two be swallowed up by the darkness of the forest. Bugs remembered how he'd been there with Ruby and Hop when they'd met the mysterious Pokémon. He wished he could've been there to see them again.
"Good luck, Ruby." Bugs said to himself, "You too Hop. I hope you find the ones dat can stop dis madness…"
The Slumbering Weald greeted the two teens like an unwelcome guest at a party. Somehow the forbidding forest seemed to look even creepier than it did before. It was probably because it was bathed in darkness with no hint of daylight to make it any less sinister looking. It was hard to believe that they'd only been here several days ago to track down a runaway Wooloo only to run into a strange Pokémon. And yet, somehow, the forest seemed to look very different in the dark. The trees never seemed to end and all seemed to be connected together with no separation between them. It was also hard to tell where one part of the forest ended and the other began. As they walked, the wall of shadows just seemed to extend further and further with nothing to distinguish itself from the rest of the scenery. There was no telling if they'd been walking for five minutes or fifteen minutes at this rate! Worst of all, it was suddenly starting to feel quite chilly. Ruby hugged herself to try and rub some warmth into her. Due to the unexpected turn of events over at Wyndon, she hadn't had time to change out of her Gym Uniform, which was far from suited for cool weather as it was designed for sports, not protection against the cold. Her legs got the worst of it as she only had a pair of shorts on and they barely came halfway down her thighs. Ruby shivered while Hop was perfectly fine as he was in his normal clothes and thus much better suited for colder weather. Hop noticed his neighbour shivering madly and came over to her.
"Hey, I can lend you my jacket if you're cold." he offered.
"Oh no Hop, you keep it. I've got another way of keeping warm." Ruby insisted.
She brought Vesuvius out of her Pokéball and had the huge Coalossal walk beside her to keep her warm. The heat that came from the rocky Pokémon was enough to make anyone feel warm just by being near them. It was like walking through the forest with a mobile furnace beside the two. Vesuvius looked around, feeling uneasy as they roamed through the dark forest.
"I can't for the life of me imagine why any Pokémon would live in this place!" she muttered, "Talk about creepy! It's like this forest is waiting to swallow us up in darkness!"
"Trust me, it's a lot better looking when the Darkest Day isn't happening." Ruby insisted, "But only now have I just realized that there's a flaw with our plan." she added glumly, "How will we know where to look for the Sword and Shield Pokémon? This place is huge! We could be walking for hours and not find anything!"
"I wonder if it'll be like the old stories of the Knights of the Round Table." Hop murmured, "In those stories, their king would rise again in a moment of need. Maybe they'll show up in time to stop the Darkest Day."
"It's not always best to rely on stories for things to happen, but in this case, I'm willing to hope for ANYTHING if it means saving Galar!" Ruby cried, "If those two are the heroes of Galar, they must surely sense that our region is in terrible danger!"
"Uh, guys? Is that them right now?" Vesuvius asked, pointing ahead and staring.
Ruby and Hop turned in the direction Vesuvius was pointing in and gasped. They could see a lupine silhouette making its way through the fog up ahead. That made Ruby and Hop's hearts leap in anticipation. Last time they'd met the strange Pokémon, a fog had been surrounding it. That had to mean it was here again! Vesuvius braced herself, waiting for any signal to attack if she had to. Ruby and Hop stood in front of her, watching the figure emerge from the fog. It was just what they'd been hoping for. Standing before them, tall, proud and suspicious was the magenta wolf creature with the shield-shaped neck that they had met that faithful day. It looked no different from the first time they'd seen it. It wasn't alone this time. The wolf-like Pokémon was accompanied by another wolf-like Pokémon.
This one had cyan fur and had long pink braids going down the side of its body. It had a pair of fringes pointing back over its shoulders, a thick pink tail and like its companion, had many scars from previous battles and a chunk of its let ear missing. It had a more slender, graceful build compared to the more thick-set Pokémon Ruby and Hop had seen. What was unmistakeable about it was that it was very much a companion to the other one. It even had the same piercing yellow eyes that the first one had, staring watchfully at the kids as if trying to read them. Ruby scarcely breathed as she took in the amazing sight before her. The wolves didn't move, almost like they were waiting for Hop and Ruby to say something. It was Vesuvius who ended up speaking first.
"I've never seen any Pokémon like them before…" she murmured.
"Neither have we!" Hop exclaimed, "But if we're right, they're what we're looking for!"
Ruby was the last to say anything, her voice caught in her throat as she struggled to find the words to say. The two wolves staring at her didn't exactly help. She finally managed to get her words out.
"Um…h-hello?" Ruby said anxiously, "D-do f-forgive us for d-disturbing you. A-are you the Heroes of Galar?"
To the surprise of both teens and Vesuvius…the magenta wolf spoke! Unlike their last encounter, it actually answered her.
"Ruby Silverlock. Hop Dande. My sister and I are most intrigued that you have dared venture into our territory." it said, speaking in a male voice that sounded deep enough to make the earth tremble, "It has been centuries since brave hearts such as yourselves have come to seek our aid."
"Wow, you can speak after all!" Hop cried, "How do you know our names and why didn't you say anything the first time you met us?"
"What you saw that day was an astral projection form. I was incapable of proper communication with you." the magenta wolf explained, "In that form, I can only observe and warn away intruders. That is why I came that day. I sensed you both and had to scare you away for we weren't to know if you were worthy of setting foot in our home."
Ruby and Hop took this in with interest. So this Pokémon had only been an illusion at the time and had come to them to simply scare them off for trespassing. It explained the huge fog and why it had made them pass out. If it could speak to them now, then they must be seeing the real things this time.
"And as for your first question, my brother and I are omniscient. We know everyone's name in Galar." the cyan wolf said, speaking in a female voice that seemed to echo with every word, "We also know that you are a pair of young souls with a lot of courage and selflessness in you. You were willing to seek us out to save the Galar region. That to me is worth granting you entrance to our home."
"Oh really? Wow…thank you very much!" Ruby said graciously, "And double thank you for showing up when you could! You sense what's happening, right? No doubt that's why you're here now?"
"How could we not, dear child?" the magenta wolf scoffed, "My sister and I may be in eternal slumber here in the Slumbering Weald, but we can always sense when Eternatus is rising again. We wish to stop him…but we're powerless to do so."
Ruby and Hop gasped in horror at what had been said.
"Wh-what? No! No that can't be!" Hop protested, "You're the heroes of Galar! You stopped that thing before, didn't you? You can do it again!"
"At the moment, we cannot." the cyan wolf boomed, "After being in slumber for so long, we lack the power to rise against Eternatus again. It is taking us whatever power we have left just to appear to you two now. However, there is a way to re-energize us. Follow us."
The two legendary heroes turned around and scampered off into the mist together. Ruby and Hop saw no reason to distrust the two. They had come to them and allowed them entry into their territory just because they sensed what decent people they were so they wouldn't be trying anything suspicious. Ruby returned Vesuvius to her ball and ran off after the two wolves. Strangely enough, as they ran, the mist seemed to be shrinking away as if it was leading them to where they had to go. It was like watching the clouds move in the sky on a windy day except at ground level. Where were they going? They had a feeling they were about to find something special, something that no other kid in Galar had ever seen before.
After about five minutes of running, the two finally reached their destination. They had come across an area of the forest they had never seen before. It was a tranquil area with no signs of any human presence whatsoever. There was a huge stone circle with an arch that had a chunk of it missing and a slab of stone in the centre. The whole thing was surrounded by a slow moving river leading to a lake behind the circle. It looked like a final resting place of some sort. Ruby and Hop were spellbound. They had never been anywhere that could be so…peaceful. It was like everything in the world was gone and there was only this beautiful, closed off area where only peace and tranquillity could exist. Ruby and Hop approached the plinth. Was this whole thing a gravesite and they were looking at the final resting place of the Galarian heroes? Ruby thought back to Sonia's studies and the tapestry they'd seen at Bob's Yer Uncle back in Circhester. After the Darkest Day, the heroes of Galar had gone into a deep slumber and had been sealed here to sleep! That had to be how the legendary tale had ended! They weren't just discovering something new in this place…they were seeing history as it ended!
Ruby and Hop looked down at the gravestone. Sitting by the stone were a pair of rusty, worn weapons that had clearly seen better days in their time. Curiously enough, the weapons happened to be a sword and a shield. The sword looked blunt after years of use and the shield had large cracks in it. The legends were true after all! These had to be the legendary sword and shield weapons that the heroes of Galar had used to stop the Darkest Day! Ruby bent down and picked up the shield while Hop picked up the sword. The weapons felt surprisingly light to them. Maybe their worn states had made them lighter than usual to carry.
"Look at this thing! I can't believe that we're actually holding the legendary weapons themselves!" Ruby exclaimed.
"I bet they looked a lot better in the olden days." Hop said bluntly, "It looks like they'd fall apart if you looked at them funny!"
"Still, I guess the Galarian heroes want us to take these." Ruby suggested, "They wouldn't have led us here for no reason. But what to do with them? Do we just go up against Eternatus and fight it with them?"
"No." came the voice of the legendary Pokémon.
The two kids yelped in surprise upon hearing the voices. They weren't there in person, but their voices were speaking out to them from all around the area. Ruby and Hop stood still and listened carefully.
"Ruby Silverlock, you have chosen to carry the Shield of Zamazenta." the shield-Pokémon announced.
"Hop Dande, you have chosen to carry the Sword of Zacian." the sword-Pokémon declared.
"You must carry our weapons to the highest point of energy in Galar. That is where Eternatus is currently based. Once our weapons are taken there, the energy from that point will awaken us fully and we will be able to join you in your crusade to end the Darkest Day. Carry our weapons with care and do not let them fall into enemy hands. If you lose these weapons…then your world will cease to exist.
Journey onward, brave heroes! Carry the weapons of Zacian and Zamazenta to the highest point of energy! Only then can we stop the Darkest Day…"
And that was that. Their voices faded away and everything became silent. Ruby looked down at the shield, knowing full well that her life depended on this rusty, cracked relic. She wouldn't lose it even if she wanted to at this point! It was amazing, she thought, that this sad, ravaged looking shield along with the sword Hop was carrying were the keys to Galar's continued existence. She stuffed the shield into her bag while Hop put the sword into his own. They looked at each other and nodded, knowing what they had to do.
"We have to go to the highest point of energy in Galar." Ruby recapped, "That has to be Hammerlocke Stadium. It's the primary source of our region's energy what with the power plant being there and all."
"Eternatus is currently AT Hammerlocke too so where else would they mean?" Hop agreed, "We have to get there as quickly as possible!"
"And once we're there, Zacian and Zamazenta can repeat history by saving Galar like before!" Ruby declared, whipping out Soundwave's Pokéball, "Man it would've been great to see what Sonia would think to all this if she could see this now…"
She briefly wondered how the newly promoted professor was currently doing during this crisis. Hopefully Sonia was safe too and out of harm's way. Ruby threw the ball and brought out Soundwave again while Hop summoned his Corviknight to fly him to Hammerlocke. Both teens climbed onto their Pokémon and ordered them to head to Hammerlocke City. Soundwave knew where that was as he'd flown over Hammerlocke when taking Ruby home earlier. He flapped his huge wings and took off into the sky like a rocket with Corviknight following close behind. While Soundwave was easily the faster flier, Corviknight was having no trouble keeping up. The two Pokémon cleaved through the sky at terrific speed, the ground merely a blur down below with how fast they were moving. Ruby could see that there was still Dynamax energy blasting up in to the sky from random parts all over the region. Also random Pokémon that were too close to these energy beams had begun Dynamaxing and were going berserk, causing damage to anything in their path. She wasn't sure what it was all about. Was Eternatus powering itself up by draining Galar dry? Was that the purpose of the Darkest Day? It didn't matter. They were going to stop that monster and bring an end to this apocalypse!
Minutes later, the two trainers arrived at Hammerlocke City. Ruby could see Hammerlocke Stadium poking up from the city skyline, the huge spire surrounded by dark clouds that seemed to have a faint red glow emitting from inside. Ruby was tempted to fly straight to the top of the spire and confront Eternatus there. But in the end, she and Hop decided to take the long way up. It was too dangerous to fly straight towards Eternatus, not when it could potentially blast them out of the sky and cause them to fall to their deaths. It was best to sneak up on Eternatus when it wouldn't expect them. Hop wondered if Leon was up there now fighting the monster to save Galar. He was keen to join him once they reached the top. Soundwave and Corviknight touched down at the stadium doors and Ruby and Hop jumped off their backs to run inside. They returned their Pokémon and ran over to a nearby lift. The power plant was down under the stadium so they had to go down first and then there would be a lift to take them all the way to the top of the spire. They ran into the lift and took it straight down to the power plant. As they were moving down, Ruby and Hop could hear a fight happening in the Gym above them. Pokémon in the stadium were Dynamaxing and going mad from the power. Raihan was no doubt fighting them off to stop the Dynamax Pokémon's rampage. All the Gym Leaders in Galar would be doing this to keep their homes safe and prevent the Pokémon from causing too much destruction. It made them feel nervous. Would the battle outside cause this place to collapse on top of them?
The lift reached the bottom floor and Ruby and Hop spilled out of it quickly to make their way to the next one. As they ran down a steep slope, they passed by an open laboratory that had a lot of broken equipment and glass scattered all over the floor. The alarms were still blaring as if they felt the need to warn anyone that all hell had broken loose. Ruby and Hop looked in the laboratory to see what had happened. This was where Chairman Rose had been when broadcasting his message to Galar to warn them about Eternatus. In fact…he was still there now. He was lying on his side, his suit tattered and ditched and he had a few cuts on his head and arms. There were no other humans in the lab. Maybe they'd all managed to flee before they could get killed by Eternatus. The lab was a complete mess, looking like a bomb had gone off and destroyed everything in sight. Monitors were smashed, equipment was scattered everywhere and there were cracks in the walls with a huge hole in the ceiling. Ruby saw the remains of a huge glass tube standing at the back of the lab. She could see the image clearly in her mind now: Eternatus contained and then breaking out to destroy everything. It had finished off by smashing through the ceiling and now it had got outside to wreak havoc at the top of Hammerlocke Stadium. Ruby ran over to the unconscious Chairman.
"Go ahead of me Hop! I'll help Mr. Rose out and then catch up to you!" Ruby called.
"I'll see if me and Lee can soften Eternatus up for you and then we'll bring Zacian and Zamazenta to battle!" Hop cried.
He ran off to take the lift to the top of the stadium. Ruby knelt down beside Rose and grabbed his hand. It felt cold to the touch. She felt for his pulse. She found it and sighed with relief. He was still alive. She shook him gently.
"Mr. Rose? Wake up! We have to get you outta here!" Ruby cried frantically.
But she then got the nastiest surprise of her life. Chairman Rose's eyes shot open…but they weren't his own. They'd turned purple and looked more sinister and menacing than friendly and welcoming like before. It was like his soul had been corrupted by some evil force. Rose got to his feet and Ruby jumped back, staring worriedly at the billionaire businessman. Rose smiled menacingly over at Ruby.
"Foolish human…I sense the power of Zamazenta on you!" he purred, his voice now back up by a demonic growl as if he was speaking with two voices at once, "Ha, ha, ha…things must be desperate if the heroes of Galar need a mere child to help them stop me again!"
"Mr. Rose, what the hell's going on with you?" Ruby shrieked, "You're talking crazy! Knock it off!"
"I am not the human that you see before you!" Rose sneered, "He has become nothing more than an extension of the will of Eternatus! My poison has made him a puppet for me to do with as I see fit! And I will use him to take the weapons of Zacian and Zamazenta from you so you cannot summon them to disrupt the Darkest Day!"
"Why are you doing this, Eternatus? What do you hope to gain from this?!" Ruby demanded, "You're going to kill everyone in Galar for no reason!"
"I do have a reason." Rose replied, "Ever since I was defeated and sealed away, my powers have grown weak. This foolish human fed me with Wishing Stars to awaken me, thinking I could help him out with some power crisis that is of no interest to me. Now that I've awakened, I can restore myself to my former glory! What happens to you humans and your precious Pokémon is inconsequential to me."
"Inconsequential?!" Ruby yelled angrily, "You're causing the end of the world just so you can power yourself up! How can you care so little about what you're doing?!"
"Do not lecture me human." the corrupted chairman snorted, "You humans are hardly in any position to call me selfish when you humans care so little about what you do. This one you see before you for example: he's been using you from the very start little girl. He's only managed to awaken me because he exploited your gift of carrying Wishing Star energy in your hair."
Ruby blinked heavily as Rose, or more accurately Eternatus, was relaying this information to her. Her stomach flipped and her heart turned to ice as she took in what was being said. She couldn't believe what she was hearing!
"No…no, no, no! You're lying!" she protested, "The Chairman would never use me like that!"
"Such a naïve little child…" Rose taunted, "I see into his mind, all his thoughts and everything he's kept secret for so long. He has massive guilt over the way he's treated you. Throughout his time awakening me, he's had men spy on you and mark where you visit in the Wild Area so that they know where to find Wishing Stars to feed me. Every time your hair glowed, they marked a spot and then they would get the Stars. He may seem like a benevolent philanthropist, little girl, but he's nothing more than a two-faced liar who has been using you for MY benefit!" he crowed, taking sadistic pleasure in the fact he was exposing the Chairman like this.
"STOP IT!" Ruby screamed angrily, her eyes brimming with tears, "Just shut up! I don't want to hear any more of your lies, Eternatus! I'm going to stop you and I'll start off by getting you out of the Chairman's head!"
The possessed Chairman cackled mockingly as if humoured by the challenge Ruby had set up. He reached into his torn jacket and produced an Ultra Ball. It still amazed Ruby that a man like Rose actually had Pokémon of his own on him and now she was about to see what he had on his person. He would no doubt have some powerful Pokémon to use.
"So be it, human…" Rose said darkly, "I'll play your little game, if only to wear you out so I can pluck Zamazenta's weapon from you without resistance. Then I'll kill you and your Pokémon!"
He threw the Ultra Ball and summoned his first Pokémon. It was an Escavalier, a Bug/Steel-type Pokémon with a knight theme going on. It had a head sporting the red horsehair crest of a knight's helmet, two lances for hands and a shell covering its lower body.
It seemed ironic that a Dragon-like Pokémon like Eternatus would be using a knight-like Pokémon for the battle. Ruby ended up giving Escavalier a dragon to fight against for her first choice of Pokémon was none other than Soundwave. Upon summoning him into battle, Ruby immediately ordered him to use Flamethrower. Of course, it was all over very quickly. As a Bug/Steel type, Escavalier had no chance against a Fire attack. Soundwave blasted the knight-like Pokémon with flames and knocked it out instantly. It had happened so fast that Escavalier hadn't even had time to register the scorching pain of Soundwave's flames. The possessed Chairman frowned, annoyed that his first Pokémon had been defeated so pathetically easily. Why did Pokémon have to be so weak and pathetic compared to itself?!
"Soundwave: Superior. Escavalier: Inferior." Soundwave taunted.
"Hmm…how disappointing." Rose muttered, "Hopefully this one will stand up to you better."
He returned Escavalier to its ball and threw another Ultra Ball. This one contained a Klinklang, a Steel-type Pokémon that resembled a trio of gears all working together with a steel ring surrounding it. This was a species native to Unova and much like Garbodor, was a very unpopular Pokémon due to its rather underwhelming design.
Ruby returned Soundwave to his ball and exchanged him for Lancelot. She was confident Soundwave could handle Klinklang but she didn't want to rely on him too much before getting to Eternatus itself. It was better to use as many different Pokémon at once instead of relying on a single one for the whole fight. Lancelot clanged his arms together, daring Klinklang to come and get him.
Rose made the first move this time, ordering Klinklang to use Wild Charge. It was an Electric attack that involved the user surrounding itself in electricity and charging into the opponent. It was very much like the move, Volt Tackle, complete with side-effect of the user receiving recoil damage whenever it hit only this attack was much weaker than Volt Tackle. Klinklang hit Lancelot, but barely did any damage to him as he wasn't affected by Electric-types much and in return, the Gear Pokémon received a quarter of the damage done to Lancelot in return for using Wild Charge. Lancelot retaliated by using Brick Break, a move that was actually super-effective on Klinklang due to the Steel-type weakness to Fighting and also a move that didn't do recoil damage so he could hurt his opponent without hurting himself too. Klinklang recoiled from the hit and shook itself off. Rose ordered it to use Wild Charge a second time, but like before it barely did anything to Lancelot and it only ended up damaging itself a little more as a result, which would benefit Lancelot further when he launched his next attack. It did just that for the battle-hungry Bisharp raised his arm and swung down with another Brick Break attack, striking Klinklang in the centre gear and finishing it off swiftly. The hit felt like it was enough to separate the three gears from each other. Klinklang collapsed onto the ground while Lancelot celebrated by showering himself in sparks again.
"After that battle with Raihan's Duraludon, this feels REALLY underwhelming!" he snorted, "I hope Eternatus is a worthier challenge!"
"If you're lucky, you might get a chance to fight it." Ruby said grimly, glaring at the possessed Chairman Rose as he returned Klinklang to its ball.
He threw out a third Ultra Ball, this one containing a unique species of Pokémon that was also native to the Unova region. It was called Ferrothorn, a Grass/Steel type that looked like steel-coated durian that had been flattened. It was covered in sharp spikes and had three long vines tipped with three spikes at the end of each of them. They would use these vines for walking around or dangling from the ceiling to launch spikes at their victims. It had a pair of yellow eyes but no visible mouth or nose. In any normal situation, Ruby would've welcomed the sight of a Ferrothorn as she thought they were cool and interesting Pokémon. But this was no time for admiration.
She returned Lancelot and exchanged him for Vesuvius. She knew that Ferrothorn were weak to only one type, and that was Fire. Both the Steel and Grass types were weak to Fire so Vesuvius and her mighty Heat Crash attack would win this battle in one single blow. She wasn't even surprised to be right as she ordered Vesuvius to use it. Vesuvius sprang into the air, coating herself with flames just as she came crashing down on top of Ferrothorn. The flames blazed away at its tough, steel body, burning it alive and sapping away all its energy at once. As predicted, Ferrothorn had gone down in one hit. Vesuvius smirked triumphantly at her win.
Chairman Rose returned Ferrothorn, showing clear anger at the fact he was losing so easily. How was this mere child holding her own against a man like the one it had possessed?! Eternatus was now wondering if she might have a chance against itself too. It put the thought aside as it made its puppet throw another Ultra Ball. The mind-controlled Chairman had now summoned a Perrserker, a unique species of Pokémon that could only be found in Galar as they only evolved from the Galarian variant of the Meowth species. Perrserker looked like a Meowth wearing a stereotypical Viking helmet, complete with horns and a spot for the Meowth's trademark head-mounted coin to sit. It had a large steel beard and claws that could come together to form daggers for fighting. Perrserker were a naturally bloodthirsty species and lived for the thrill of battle. This one naturally looked ready to rip Ruby and her Pokémon to pieces, possessed trainer or not.
Ruby returned Vesuvius and switched her out for Spearhead. He knew Brick Break just like Lancelot did so he could handle a Steel type like Perrserker. It was strange to think that a man with the wealth and resources of Chairman Rose should have such a shallow team of Pokémon. They all seemed to be Steel types and had no real coverage for their weaknesses! She doubted that even Hop would struggle against this man if they were to have a battle. Rose was certainly not Champion material as far as Pokémon battling went! She landed the first blow as she ordered Spearhead to use Brick Break. The Barraskewda slapped Perrserker hard on the head with his tail, doing massive damage but not quite enough to knock it out in one hit. Perrserker retaliated by using Throat Chop. Perrserker lashed out and karate chopped Spearhead in the throat, making him gag and splutter for a moment but the move hadn't managed to knock him out. He was very much still able to battle. Spearhead took a moment to regain himself and then shot back with another Brick Break upon Ruby's command. He laughed tauntingly at his opponent as he tail-whipped it again, this time knocking the Viking-like Pokémon out and bringing it down on its back. He grinned happily at his victory.
"Oh yeah! Team Ruby: 1. Team Bad Guys: 0!" he sneered.
"Face it Eternatus, if you want a real fight then you should let me get up to you so we can face each other for real!" Ruby declared, "Chairman Rose doesn't stand a chance against me!"
"Maybe I'll get lucky and possess you instead." Rose purred darkly, "A human with your power will make a fine puppet to aid in fighting off those that might stand against me! But first, let's see you handle this one!"
He returned Perrserker and threw his last Ultra Ball. Ruby wasn't at all surprised to see that it was the very Copperajah that Bede had been using to smash the Stow-on-Side mural the other day. He had borrowed it from the Chairman after all so she'd expected him to use it at some point. The Steel elephant Pokémon was probably Rose's personal ace, not that it would do him any good. Copperajah wouldn't handle Ruby's Pokémon when they all had super-effective attacks to use on it. She returned Spearhead and returned Soundwave to the battlefield. She thought he would be the perfect Pokémon to finish the fight with.
It seemed that Eternatus wanted to up the ante for this fight for it had Rose activate his Dynamax band and begin Gigantamaxing his Copperajah. Ruby was surprised to see that he had one. She didn't think that the Chairman would be into Pokémon battling to the point he would use Dynamax too. She quickly did the same for Soundwave, her hair glowing once more as it reacted to all the Dynamax energy being used to enlarge the two Pokémon. Soundwave grew in size while Copperajah did the same and changed in appearance too. In its Gigantamaxed form, Copperajah became bipedal in stance with a block shaped body and an abnormally large trunk that sloped down to the floor and curled up at the end. With how big the trunk looked, Copperajah could easily punch down a large tower if it wanted to. Ruby imagined it would be fun to slide down the trunk as if it were a slide at the fairground.
With the two Pokémon now Dynamaxed, the battle commenced with Ruby ordering Soundwave to use Max Flare on Copperajah. The giant Noivern bathed his opponent in a torrent of flames as he breathed them all over the pachyderm Pokémon. Copperajah trumpeted in pain as its steel body became uncomfortably hot from the attack. Its defences managed to hold up enough for it to take the hit and retaliated with an attack of its own. It used its signature move, G-Max Steelsurge. It was a move exclusive to Gigantamax Copperajah and it was just like using a Max Steelspike attack, only it had the added effect of creating spikes that would surround the opponent and do damage to the next Pokémon that was brought out. Soundwave winced as the spikes stabbed into him but he took the blows. He shook himself off and Ruby ordered him to finish the battle with Max Flare again. It was all he needed to do for Soundwave blasted his opponent with flames again and Copperajah reeled back, trumpeting in agony from the attack. Its health went down to nothing and it returned to its normal size and appearance as the Dynamax energy wore off. Chairman Rose stared incredulously as his personal ace collapsed onto its side, wiped out by the powerful Noivern's attacks. It'd used all the Pokémon that that its captor had on him and not a single one had been useful! They'd all gone down so easily! It was clear that humans really weren't as weak as it thought.
"Impossible! How did you manage to defeat me?!" Rose cried angrily, "You must have the power of Zacian and Zamazenta in you to best me so effortlessly!"
"No Eternatus, that's not it at all." Ruby said matter-of-factly as she returned Soundwave to his Pokéball, "I'm just a really good trainer who is desperate to save the world. I have something to fight for, and that's what gives me strength! You wouldn't understand as you just want to destroy everything!"
"Is it my fault that my being on this planet has such a dire consequence?" Rose sneered, "It's not like I chose to come here anyway! What happens to Earth is of no interest to me!"
"What are you talking about?" Ruby asked in confusion, "You act like you're from another world! Are you implying that you're an...alien or something like that?"
"Alien is just a word that inferior beings like you use to label creatures beyond your comprehension!" Rose spat viciously, "So in your case, I suppose I am. I crashed down to Earth whilst inside a meteorite 20,000 years ago. I have no idea how or why I ended up here, all I know is that I ended up here completely by accident. Upon awakening, the energy that makes me up suddenly caused Pokémon to grow in size and go berserk. I don't even know why that happens…and nor do I care. If my being here can cause havoc to the world, then Earth is a truly pathetic planet that isn't worth saving!"
"Well it is to me, and I'm gonna kick your ass once I get you out of the Chairman's head!" Ruby yelled, drawing out a Full Restore bottle from her bag.
She reasoned that if the Chairman had been poisoned by Eternatus then using a potion that could cure poison would get rid of it and return him to normal. The possessed Chairman charged at Ruby angrily, desperate to prevent himself from being cured. His hands were open, aiming to grab Ruby by the neck. Ruby took aim and sprayed the potion at the Chairman. He coughed as a cloud of spray hit him in the face and he inhaled some of it. He stumbled onto his knees and spluttered. The Full Restore took effect, destroying the poison inside of Rose's body and returning him to normal. His eyes were no longer purple but back to their normal green colour and he let out a yell as the Eternatus inside of him was destroyed, his voice returning to normal. Rose panted heavily for a moment as he regained his bearings. His head throbbed and he winced as he felt a beating in his temple. He felt like somebody had punched his brain repeatedly and it was now reacting to the beating it had received. Ruby stood back to give him some space, hoping that the potion had worked. Rose climbed back to his feet and looked over at Ruby, looking relieved to see she was alright.
"Miss Silverlock…thank you so much." he said graciously, "It felt awful having Eternatus take over my mind like that! Ooooh, it felt like I had well and truly become somebody's slave! I'll be remembering that for the rest of my life!"
"You remember all that?" Ruby asked in surprise.
"Oh yes, dear. Everything." Rose said sadly, "After I sent my message, Eternatus jabbed me in the back with one of its claws and infected me with poison. I thought it had just killed me! But instead, it corrupted me. As I was possessed by that monster, I was there, a prisoner of my own body begging to take back control! If it weren't for you, I think it would've had me as its puppet forever!"
"I'm glad I could save you, sir." Ruby said with a small smile. It quickly faded as she now had to ask a serious question.
"While Eternatus was possessing you, it told me that you'd been using me the whole time, getting men to spy on me and watch where I went to find Wishing Stars to use for Project: Eternatus. Was it lying?"
Chairman Rose's face told Ruby the answer she had been dreading to hear before he had even said a word. His face was a mask of shame and guilt, like he'd done the most terrible thing ever and it was destroying him inside.
"No Ruby…it was telling the truth." Rose confessed, "Ever since Bede told me about your glowing hair, I decided to exploit your gift by having my men watch where you went and mark down whenever your hair glowed as a sign of where to find Wishing Stars. It was very selfish and immoral of me to do and I regret the fact I resorted to abusing your gift like that. It was wrong of me to use you Ruby and I have no excuse for it. I'm truly sorry that I betrayed you like that."
Ruby's heart sank like a stone as she heard this confessional from the Chairman. She couldn't believe her ears. So Eternatus had been telling the truth! How could this wonderful man have done this to her?! He'd constantly been on her side this whole time and yet behind her back, he'd been using her for his own gain and all without even asking her to simply help him out instead of doing this! She imagined that as they had dined together in Hulbury, he'd been sitting there thinking on how great it would be that she would be playing a part in Eternatus's awakening! And on top of that, she'd even given him her hair to use, not knowing he'd been exploiting her this whole time! Ruby felt so betrayed and heartbroken that she began to cry. Her tears splashed down on the floor as she sobbed. Rose shook his head sadly, disgusted that he'd brought the poor girl to tears. Ruby was a good kid, he should never have used her like that.
"Ruby, I'm truly sorry that I…" he began, reaching out to try and comfort her.
Ruby just slapped his hand away, her face a mixture of pain and anger.
"GET AWAY FROM ME!" she bellowed, "You're such a scumbag, Mr. Rose! I trusted you! I thought you were my friend! I thought you a wonderful man who was truly kind and understanding! Instead, you've been using me and roping me into your little pet project without my consent! And you had the balls to call Oleana out for trying to do the same thing yesterday?! You're just as bad as Bede and Oleana were to me! Eternatus was right…you really are a two-faced, lying piece of crap!"
Rose didn't even try to argue. If anything, he seemed to outright accept that he was just that. He looked away sadly.
"Yes Ruby…I truly am." he agreed, "And I had no right to do what I did. If there's any way I can make it up to you, I'll happily do so."
"All I want from you…is that you stay the hell away from me!" Ruby snarled, "If you want to make things up to me, then turn yourself into the police! You belong in a cell as much as Bede does for what you've done! Using me like that and all just so you could wake up a creature that's causing havoc on Galar…there's no forgiving you for that! Goodbye Mr. Rose. I never want to see you again!"
With that, she stormed off out of the laboratory, leaving a very distraught and ashamed Chairman Rose behind. It was the last time that Ruby would ever see the Macro Cosmos founder again. She wiped her tear-soaked eyes, knowing she couldn't keep crying over the betrayal she felt over him. He wasn't worth feeling sad and angry about now. Ruby walked into the lift and stabbed at the button for the top of the stadium. She sighed heavily to relax herself and keep calm for what was to come. Chairman Rose wasn't the one she had to focus on now. Hopefully he'd follow her advice and arrest himself. Instead, she had only one goal in mind…to stop Eternatus and end the Darkest Day…