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The King in Exile

Blackjack Gabbiani

Clearly we're great!
When I was young, I wanted to be a noble knight, the sort you read about in storybooks. A stick as a sword and a discarded plank as a shield, I would scout the area for any evils to defeat. Anything that could threaten Galar, anything at all, needed to be defeated, after all. That was the role of a knight.

But instead, I became a king. King of Macro Cosmos, I may well have been king of all Galar for all it was. And I had my own knight, the noble Leon, the darling of the people. Glory for him was glory for me, and victory was always at hand.

We're told growing up that fairy tales are just stories, and that we have to put them aside. But the Darkest Day had truly happened. How do we rectify that with the modern age, the age of looking to the future, the age of forward thinking, the age where we can uncover the truth of the past?

Such a calamity couldn't happen again. I had my duty, and I assumed Leon had his.

It's the role of a knight to obey his king, but he resisted. Denied my order and continued with the tournament, but the dawning of the Darkest Day continued to draw ever closer.

He had turned his back to me, his cape bearing the Macros Cosmos emblem. Even in refusal, he was still branded as obedient, and the combination of images was disheartening. "Leon, you have your role and I have mine. Why do you refuse?"

"You've lost it, Chairman," he bit with a shake of his head. "You said yourself that Eternatus won't emerge for a long time on its own. There's no reason you have to summon it right now. Wait until we're better prepared."

"Is an unbeatable champion not prepared for anything?" He had presented himself so confidently for so long that everyone had come to believe he was truly insurmountable. "Surely the knight must slay the dragon."

"You and your fairy tales." It was bitter, and he pulled his everpresent cap down over his eyes. "I'll do it, but not yet. It's not...I expect better."



Better than to save the region? Surely that would be the aim of any champion. He had walked off, leaving me to my own thoughts. It was unsettling to hear that from him. He had to love Galar as much as I did, right? Otherwise, what would fuel his unstoppable power?

He was a force of nature himself, as sure as any other energy. But I had to force his hand. He was a true champion, and a true champion would rise to any challenge. A true champion would fight any threat, bear any burden, stand against any evil. He shouldn't need to be forced into it, but he would return to his duty, without a doubt.

In the depths of the power plant, I began without him. Eternatus would be brought to bear, and the threat would be ended once and for all at the hands of the most noble knight that Galar had ever seen.

With a deep breath, I summoned the Darkest Day.



Thanks to the fleet of Rotom powered drones following him from the stadium, Leon's race to the top of the tower was broadcast through Galar. They would know their heroes, they would know our justice and glory, and he knew his role. His resistance was fleeting after all, when faced with the reality of things.

The true terror of Eternatus was beyond comprehension. Its mere presence--no, the presence of its portal alone was enough to shake all of Hammerlocke, perhaps all of Galar. I was certain that I was being inundated with calls, but I had turned off my phone before starting for that very reason. I would quell their fears regardless. Leon was there and that was all that was needed.

The brave knight standing against the terrible dragon. Everything was staged so magically that I was already confident in the immortality of the moment. A fairy tale come to life, with all of Galar watching intently. There would be no dismissing this as a mere story.

I watched from a burner that I had gotten for the occasion, from the lower depths of the power plant. I thought of leaving and joining in the crowds that no doubt gathered in the streets but this was Leon's moment. As I said, his glory was my own, but I would only get in the way. The knight fights, the king leads.

His Aegislash, the noble sword and shield, befitting him in every legendary way, clattered to the ground. It was utterly immune to Eternatus's toxins and was felled regardless. But it was too late to turn back. Eternatus roared and the building shook to the core, shattering glass pods around me and wavering the broadcast signal, and I could only imagine how deafening it was for Leon.

Something was amiss. This wasn't how it was supposed to go.

Hesitantly he switched to Haxorus, which I could see on his face he knew to be a mistake, but he was hoping to inflict as much damage as he could with Outrage. He ordered the attack with a catch in his voice but his expression regaining composure. If he was overwhelmed, his pokémon would be as well, and he knew he couldn't fail them like that.

Even so, I noticed that I was leaving the room. My focus on steel types could provide backup if he needed it. But why did I doubt him? I had the utmost faith in him and had placed all of Galar's safety in his hands...

Surely he could do it. If I had been wrong...but that was unthinkable.

I was nearly to the lift when a massive shattering tremor cut through everything and I was certain the building, perhaps all of Hammerlocke, would break apart from the sheer force of it all. I frantically checked the feed again in time to see the aftermath of what must have been a tremendous assault, light still emanating off of Eternatus in several places as beams of raw energy faded. One of the drones had been damaged and could be seen escaping, but Leon stood his ground even as Haxorus fainted.

The champion was considerably worse for wear, and I wondered if he had been struck in the attack. His signature cape was tattered and fell off his shoulders in a heap, and he struggled to stand. Gritting his teeth, he broke out his ultimate weapon, his signature partner, Charizard. The beast roared in determination and struck as hard as it could, taking the opportunity while Eternatus seemed to be resting up after the prior attack.

I had to get up there as soon as I could. Dare I risk my life taking the lift? It would be a death trap if the building was damaged so severely, but it made sense at the time. Somehow it still worked, and as I passed the ground floor I knew Oleana, waiting outside the doors there, would likely be in a fit as she saw what I was doing. I could envision her exact expression, no less. But it was the king's duty to protect his people.

The idea that we could lose overrode anything else. The idea that Galar itself was in danger...that was what I was trying to prevent. Recreating the Darkest Day was meant to only be the framework for Eternatus's downfall, not Galar...not Leon.

When I looked at the feed again, my hand was shaking so hard that the image was difficult to focus on at first. Leon had prepared to throw a pokéball...no, a master ball. But he had only one, and he could not miss. The opportunity had to be without fail.

But Eternatus had other ideas, and again the light overwhelmed everything. Having learned from before, the Rotom drones frantically backed away, but kept to their own duty to continue the broadcast. Everyone had to see their hero save them from the dragon, that was my plan.

That horrible light...I could feel the heat from it but it was likely just my imagination. So overwhelmingly bright that nothing showed on the screen for a second, only the searing sensation of the light. The building again thrashed under the force exerted at its peak, and I held fast to where I was, invoking the twin heroes of Galar that the lift would not break. It shuddered and jolted, and the lights within shuddered, but it somehow kept going.

The camera zoomed in on Charizard as it crashed down, tail flame flickering and nearly spent. Before Eternatus it fell, with a single hateful glare at the horrific beast before it. But Leon still stood, somehow, though he seemed as though he could collapse at any moment. His cap, that always gave him the impression of a crown itself, was gone, blown back from the sheer force, and his League uniform was tattered from the cutting air, but he was still standing. And as Eternatus drew in a heavy and solid breath, Leon saw his opening and threw the Master Ball.

It struck the beast on the side of the face, very nearly missing from Leon's clear exhaustion. I think he was shocked that he managed to hit it. The full body of the unimaginable threat was pulled in, clearing the sky behind it and casting moonlight down onto the fated arena. The ball shook once, twice, three times, before falling still, Eternatus finally captured. The ancient threat of thousands of years, the Darkest Day itself, was over.

I didn't dare celebrate just yet. Something was wrong.

Leon glanced around for the nearest camera and smiled broadly but artificially, exhaustion clear on his face, chest heaving with every breath and blood leaking from his nose and mouth. With as big of a grin as he could muster, he spun around in his trademark pose with his arm aloft, fingers mimicking Charizard's crest in triumph.

And collapsed.

That was when I reached the peak. When the lift doors began to open, I pried them the rest of the way and ran to Leon, dropping the phone along the way. I had seen everything I had to from it.

He was struggling to draw breath, and at first didn't react when I called his name. But when I knelt next to him and gripped his hand in mine, it seemed to dawn on him that he wasn't alone.

"Leon?" I pulled him up, supporting his head with my other arm. "I'm here. It's over. You won."

He coughed, throat constricting rapidly, as he tried to focus his gaze on me. "...you lost--"

I shook my head. "No, no, all of Galar won..."

"--your damn mind..." he hissed, a weak glare in his wavering golden eyes as he fought to keep them from fluttering closed. "Cha--Rose...where's my partner...is he ok?"

I wasn't sure what the word he tried to say was, either my title or asking for Charizard. I glanced around the battlefield and saw that Charizard hadn't moved from where it had fallen, and its tail flame had gone entirely out. How would I tell him that his partner had--

But I looked back down at him, at the stream of blood, at his glassy eyes, at his struggle to stay aware of anything, and the reality of the situation struck me at once.

"...You'll always be together."

On hearing that, his struggle relaxed, hand loosening in my grasp. He scoffed softly under his breath with an oddly seraphic smile. "...ok...ok...don't leave me..."

I squeezed his hand. "You saved us all, Champion. You'll never be forgotten."

There had to be so much he wanted to say to me, but he had to choose his words wisely. "...story's over, Rose..." he whispered.

"I know..."

"The king...has to do what's right..."

"Brave knight," I murmured against his ear, "I'm so sorry..."

Any number of things must have come to his mind, but he never said them, instead only sighing. A moment more and he fell still entirely.

"I'm so sorry..." I repeated in the vain hope that he could still hear me, "so sorry...I..." But there was no use. He had vanquished the dragon and brought peace to the land, but my glorious knight was dead from my own order.



The cameras had never stopped rolling. I only realised that after retrieving the master ball. Holding it in my hand, knowing what it contained, sent a jolt down my arm. My impulse was to destroy it, to crush the ball beneath my heel, but it would have been disrespectful to Leon's sacrifice.

The footage would show how long I stood there, hand tight around the master ball, holding it reverently to my chest as though it were a sacred artifact, but it was impossible for me to judge the passage of time. At once it was a moment and eons together.

After that, everything ran together. Did I give the ball to Oleana before or after I ordered the Rotom drones to stop recording? When did either of those happen in reference to others swarming the summit?

I had told Oleana what Leon had said--"the king has to do what's right"--and I remember this because she asked me what I thought he meant by it. I think I had only told her because I wanted his last words to be known. He had surely spoken them too softly for even the Rotom drones to hear. I don't think I answered her.

At her question, it struck me with a dreadful force that there was no way he had summoned those words on the spur of the moment, not with so little time to pick them. He had planned them, probably starting from when we had spoken in Wyndon last. They were certainly part of some greater speech, more fully formed, and much more furious. Yet I found I would have gladly taken the brunt of his anger if it meant hearing him again.

What he had meant was clear to me. Which leads me to now.

When I turned myself in, it wasn't out of any belief that summoning Eternatus had been wrong. It was a threat to Galar, and the threat had to be neutralized. That much I still believe was justified.

But I had bet the entire region's safety on one reluctant man, who paid for my zeal with his life.

I set aside my crown, my realms. I was no king, even figuratively, and Leon knew that.

Surely his will be a tale told in the future. Children a thousand years from now will still emulate the brave Leon and know his sacrifice was to save them.

Living happily ever after isn't realistic anyway. I suppose the true moral is that we do something worth remembering.

I wonder what they will say about me.
 

Teravolt

Byakuya Supremacist
Brava! Although this was a short story, I enjoyed reading a well-written Pokémon fic. I assume that in this story, Victor and Gloria aren’t in the picture, as you replaced their saving the world with Leon. But that begs some questions:
Since Leon’s dead, does Rose become the Champion? Will he escape jail, unleash Eternatus, and become a tyrant? Or will he just be a remorseful nuclear energy salesman?
And more importantly, will these questions be resolved in a subsequent chapter?
Overall, I think you did a nice job at portraying Rose as not wholly evil, but not wholly sane, either. And Leon, as the quintessential hero of Galar.
 

Blackjack Gabbiani

Clearly we're great!
I assume the heroes are still there somewhere, maybe back in Wyndon being so confused as to what happened and trying to console Hop. They'll have to restructure the tournament now but I would imagine Raihan would be acting champion until a new one would be named.

I figure in this situation, Rose would take any punishment, because he won. He put a stop to the Darkest Day and will be remembered forever as an unshakable part of Galar's history. Even if it cost him everything including his greatest star and his own freedom to do so.

It's funny, because even as a "villain wins" fic, he loses so much more here than he does in canon. Though one may argue he won in the games too.
 
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