@Smiles: Thanks for the review! Always nice to get a new person commenting, and I hope you have time to fill in the blanks. I never thought of how this chapter could be read with the first part, it is interesting to have it framed like that. While you are missing a lot that has happened outside of this conflict (of your own admittance, not throwing any shade your way XD) the relationship between Alaska and the reality stars is quite important to the overall story, so you perhaps have gained some very interesting insights reading it this way. I respect this view, though I was trying to show a bit more of Damian and Lachlan that hadn't been touched on much in past chapters. I think if they had had more time in the past I probably would have cut out much of that convo. Yes, I probably could've done that a bit better XD Again, thanks for reviewing! Chapter Eighty Six: One with the Wind and Sky Alaska stared at the rifle and knew they were dead. There was nowhere to hide, nothing in the frozen emptiness they could use to defend themselves. Their closest escape, back the way they'd come, was blocked off. Their only option was to make it to the crevice behind them, where they could either jump into the river and take their chances with hypothermia and unforgiving rapids, or make it to the other side and find some means of escape there. Yet all those options relied on being able to get away. Amanda had an assault rifle; Alaska had nothing. Her hands were still clenched firmly around a Poké Ball, but by the time she threw that her brains would have decorated the ice. "Something wrong, Alaska? No witty comebacks? No clever insults? This is so terribly unlike you." Vicious pleasure filled every inch of Amanda's face. Her contorted smile was that of a hunter closing on in prey, her eyes shining victoriously, while her body was still, focused, her finger ready to pull the trigger whenever she chose to. Alaska didn't reply. She had nothing to say. She had been caught, and all emotion had left her except defeat. All those weeks of fighting, refusing to accept this fate that had been forced upon her, and the minute she relents and lets it control her, it all ends. There would be no victory against Buzz or Gideon, there would be no chance of returning to a normal life. She was a dead woman standing, and Alaska knew it would take an act of god to save her. Godly act – fuck I'm dumb! Alaska kept her face neutral, not letting her excitement show, but mentally she tensed up, trying to find that little voice in the back of her head that didn't belong. Are you there, Latios? It's me, Alaska. She paused, seconds dragging out like hours, praying this was enough. Finally, a tingle crawled through her brain, and for a moment the blue glow of the ice seemed to shine brighter. I didn't know classic fiction was in your wheelhouse. What can I say, I'm a nerd. Breathing a low sigh of relief, Alaska eyed Amanda tensely, wondering how long she had before the producer would strike. Can you see what I'm seeing? Just. Our connection is not strong enough for me to inhabit your conscious body, but I can gather from your thoughts the person in front of you is trying to kill you. Right on the money, soul train. Can you stop her? There was a beat, only a few seconds but enough that Alaska was afraid she had lost him. Finally, she got a sigh. Yes, I can, but what you are asking is very draining. I will need to focus, it will take a few moments, time you might not have. Unless we can distract her. Yes, that might work. A yelp sounded behind her, and everyone turned towards Sandy, a new kind of fear in her eyes. She was staring intensely at Alaska, a slight blue glint in her eyes. "Something wrong?" Amanda hissed, looking away from Alaska but keeping the rifle pointed firmly at her. "You want to die first?" "N-n-no, I just…" Sandy paused, eyes moving feverishly as she tried to think of an appropriate distraction. "Why now? Why kill us after all this time?" Amanda's eyes narrowed. "Why does it matter?" "It's just, you know, you've had plenty of opportunities to kill Alaska. I mean, last time you easily could've handed us over to Buzz. Why aren't you capturing us again?" Amanda smirked. "Why, so you can escape again?" She purred, her voice crackling with laughter. "Buzz doesn't care who kills her, as long as she is finally out of the way." "But you are going to film us?" Sandy shot back, eyebrow raised quizzically. "Doesn't that rather defeat the purpose of the whole reality show charade? I can't imagine blatant murder would look good for your image." Alaska had to marvel at Sandy's quick thinking and Latios for using her. The legendary had fallen silent but his voice had been replaced by a sharp pain as if a hand was slowly squeezing her brain, and Alaska was overcome by the type of sudden heaviness she usually felt after a long day of walking. "You think I don't know that they are onto us? There's no point carrying on a magic trick when your audience knows you are faking it. The show is dead in the water, so what? It always was a moronic idea anyway, Buzz's little vanity project. At any rate, I'm the producer, I make the decisions on the ground, and I'm not going to turn down one final stab at ratings glory," Amanda added, turning back to Alaska. "There's nothing like a dead body to draw in the masses." Whatever you're doing, I need you to hurry up, Alaska mentally yelled as she stared at the dark mouth of the rifle. If I do not take my time, my recovery will be slowed and I won't be able to help you properly. Alaska's fear must have finally shown, as Amanda started laughing as she focused on her target. Even when she laughed maniacally, the producer sounded repressed, her cackle a poor imitation of a normal human. If you don't act now you won't be able to save me again – just do it! A resounding crack shattered the silence, and Alaska gasped as she stumbled over, her vision going black. She heard Amanda scream, and Alaska could just make out as a large icicle crashed in front of the producer, knocking her backwards and sending the gun flying. "Alaska, are you ok? Did she get you?" Damian appeared over her, gloved hands grabbing her by the armpits and hauling her to her feet. "I'm… I'm fine – we need to get out of here." "There's nowhere to run though, she'll still be able to shoot us." "Not if I can help it," Sandy interjected, and she threw a Poké Ball towards Chloe. Red light illuminated every corner of the room a second later, and the icicles above them shook as Onix roared into life. The cave suddenly felt less spacious, but Alaska was happy to introduce a giant, uncontrollable beast into a confined area if it meant not risking getting shot in the face. "ONIX, KEEP THEM BACK!" Sandy screamed. Onix growled in response as he stretched his body out, giant boulders forming a blockade between his allies and their enemies. For a moment, Alaska felt victorious, and with her body resting against Damian, the four of them began to run towards the river, trying to get as much distance between them as possible. Her joy didn't last long though. As she stared at their protector, five Poké Balls flew over the top of him, striking the ice and bursting open in orchestrated succession. "Fuck me." Alaska slid to a stop, and without a second thought, she threw the capsule she had clasped in her hand, ignoring the Ivysaur, Fearow and Ninetales forming before her and hoping her choice would defend them. "Para!" Frances exclaimed, pulling her claws in close and shivering as soon as she formed. There was no time for Alaska to be disappointed: this was quickly turning into a war, and she needed to improvise fast. "Seed Bomb, aim for the icicles above them!" Frances seemed to understand the situation she had arrived in, and without any hesitation, she fired a giant green ball from the top of her mushroom. It exploded on contact with the icicles above, firing out bullet-like seeds that shattered the ice. Alaska watched for a moment as the frozen spears slammed into the ground, shattering on impact and showering the rival Pokémon in diamond-like shards. A sequence of flashes erupted alongside, her allies Pokémon joining the fight. Alaska wanted to keep Frances safe, but even with a solid team fighting for them, there was no time to wait. "Keep using Seed Bomb and follow us when you can!" And with that warning, Alaska ran as she never had before. Her body was tired and bruised, she had been shivering all this time, and her breath seemed to be freezing in her lungs, but she ran. If she didn't, she would die and all this would have been for nothing. Her fear and determination combined for an energy boost she didn't know she had in her, and she was the first of the four to reach the cliff edge. Panting, fighting the cold in her throat, Alaska gazed across the icy gap. A wall of sparkling ice greeted her, but she could see no obvious exit, while the floor was as smooth and exposed as it was on her side. Motherfucker! Angrily, Alaska turned as the other three gathered around her. Lachlan looked terrified, Damian passively worried, while Sandy seemed furious. "You had to go and make a scene, didn't you? We might have gotten away if –" Alaska interrupted. "Are you really doing this now?" "We might not get another chance, we could be about to die! You're not getting off that easily." "Seriously Sandy, we are being shot at! Yell at me later!" "I plan to!" Sandy wailed, and she pushed Alaska aside as a jet of fire came towards them. They watched as the Ninetales started to charge, only for a well-aimed Aqua Tail from Wartortle to send her flying. There was no sign of Amanda or Chloe, Onix succeeding in holding them off, but their Pokémon were still a threat, and Alaska knew they needed a better strategy than a simple free for all. "We need to get across this valley; it is our only way of escaping them. But getting across isn't enough, we need to make sure Amanda can't follow us or have the chance to get a good shot." "Are you suggesting we kill her?" Damian asked. Alaska shuddered at the thought: Amanda might be awful, but she couldn't imagine ordering someone else's death. "No, we're better than her. We just need to… incapacitate her – Chloe as well." "And how do we do that?" Lachlan asked, his voice several octaves higher than normal. Alaska wished they would all shut up and give her a moment to think, but knew that time was a luxury she didn't have right now. She looked at the Pokémon they had already sent out and thought of who she and Sandy had left, ignoring her rapidly beating heart and trying to focus. "Frances… she has Effect Spore. Paige can carry her and then Frances can fire something at them." She paused there, looking between Sandy and Damian for some support, but they only looked exhausted. "Does anyone have a better idea?" "I suppose not," Damian said. "It's not a great plan, but we need to do something." "Fuck yeah we need to do something, so get back over there and take down their Pokémon before they get to us!" "Too late," Sandy squeaked. Alaska's body tensed. She didn't know what was behind her, but she could feel its warm, stagnant breath on her neck. Slowly, Alaska reached into her pocket for another Poké Ball and turned, wondering if this would be the last thing she would ever see. The Pokémon that loomed over her, Alaska had never seen before, in real life or on television. Staring at it now, she could see why. There was no nice way of putting it; it was hideous. It resembled a large blue rock that had spouted four arms and a pair of legs. Instead of a normal face, even by Pokémon standards, it had a fat brown hand, complete with four fingers, a thumb, and two beady eyes peering angrily down at her from where the palm should be. The creature raised its arms, and Alaska saw that each clawed hand had its own eye that glowered out at each of her comrades. "Holy shit, you are one ugly mother fucker, aren't you?" Alaska was stunned to the point that she forgot herself and the precarious position they were in. This was a Frankenstein's monster of a Pokémon, an abnormal freak that shouldn't be alive let alone be allowed the duty of taking her life. She realised her mistake a second too late: all six eyes on the Pokémon narrowed, clearly unamused. "Whoops," she offered weakly and stepped back towards the edge of the ice. "BAAAAAR!" The creature's scream was as hideous as its body, a high pitched shriek that froze Alaska where she was. With a single swipe, the monstrosity sent Sandy flying back towards the battle before turning swiftly and doing the same to Lachlan. "Listen, mate, I don't know what you are or who the poor soul is that owns you, but if you think I am letting something as fugly as you kill me, you've got another thing coming." Alaska threw her Poké Ball forwards but the creature knocked it aside with another angry yell. She watched it soar uselessly away, a distant burst of red light briefly casting the monster in shadow. "Great job Alaska, real great job!" Damian snarled, the words barely leaving his mouth before he too was bashed aside. Alaska was suddenly alone, only a few feet separating her and the Pokémon. The creature turned, eyes fixated on her, and swiped again; Alaska stepped back, but her right foot slipped. "SHIT!" She screamed as she wobbled desperately on the edge of the cliff. She managed to regain her footing, but there was now nowhere for her to run. The Pokémon seemed to know that, briefly smiling, enjoying teasing his cornered prey. I either let this monstrosity slice my throat open or throw me over the edge. Alaska wasn't sure which one was worse, but she braced herself for either option, hoping the creature wouldn't toy with her much longer. A shriek sounded in the distance. The Pokémon paused, wincing at the piercing wail. Alaska used the opportunity to scout for any chance at getting around the creature but instead saw only what looked like Darwin engaged in combat with another Pokémon. Suddenly, she realised what should have been right in front of her: only two of her Pokémon resided in red and white Poké Balls. If Darwin was out, then there was one option left to her. "Well, this has been fun," she said, causing the monster to focus on her once more. Alaska smiled as she retrieved her other Poké Ball and pointed it into the valley. "However, I've really got to keep going – don't worry, I'll drop by some other time." The creature roared and lunged, but Alaska stepped backwards into the abyss. Her organs seemed to shoot up into her throat. Ice soared past her, illuminated by the red light, and the roar of the river echoed on all sides. Flailing, Alaska stared down at the raging water and for the first time considered this wasn't the smartest plan. This better work. Alaska looked up frantically and breathed a sigh of relief; Paige was flying towards her, wearing an all too familiar look of wondering what was wrong with her trainer. Alaska laughed as she reached up, grabbing onto Paige's talons. "OTTOOOO!" The bird shrieked as her legs were nearly yanked out of her body. Alaska didn't have time to sympathise. "FLY BITCH, FLY!" She yelled as the two sank towards the river. With a grunt, Paige began beating her wings furiously. Alaska could feel the bottom of her pants getting wet from the spray, and she tensed, expecting to be submerged within moments. Thankfully, instead she felt her organs settle back into place, and when she looked down again the river was slipping away. Triumphantly, Paige soared out of the ravine, her outstretched wings clipping the creature's talons as she swept past. Alaska lashed out, kicking it in the hand-face, and giggled as it stumbled backwards. "Air Slash!" "PIDGEEEEY!" Paige grunted as she twirled her right wing, and a moment later flung the lilac ball towards their foe. It exploded against the creature's chest, and the two watched as it was blown back towards the fight. "That was brilliant!" Alaska heaved herself up onto Paige's back; it was a tight fit, her legs dangling over the sides despite her height, but it allowed her to wrap her arms around her friend. "Thank you for saving me." "Pidge," Paige grunted irritably, clearing thinking she shouldn't have been in that position in the first place. Alaska wanted to make it up to her but now was not the time. From their position above the pop-up battlefield, she could see all that was unfolding. Onix was still managing to keep Amanda and Chloe back but seemed to be struggling against a constant stream of Blizzard's courtesy of a Clefable. On the other side, Ivysaur, Fearow and Ninetales were facing Frances, Sylveon and Wartortle, leaving Charmeleon to fight what appeared to be a Lopunny while Darwin was now engaged with the strange creature. Alaska could see Damian and Sandy standing near the fray issuing orders, but behind them, Lachlan was slumped on the ice. Alaska looked between the tightly packed scrum and the empty space leading between them and the valley. We need to push back, not just match whatever they throw at us. "If we move Onix closer to the river, we could cross on him. If we want to do that, we need to get rid of some of their side… you up for a race?" She leant over Paige's crest to face her and saw a mischievous twinkle in her eyes. "That's my bird – alright, let's fucking do this – dive!" Cold air battered Alaska as they rocketed towards the battle, but she was too invigorated to care. She reached into her bag and withdrew the hefty weapon Bill had given her so long ago; she wiped the dirt and dust off it before firing it up, altering the ammunition until she got what she wanted. "OI BIRD BRAIN, OVER HERE!" At her touch, a red blur shot out of the gun; the flare hit Fearow in the neck, the explosion propelling her right into Onix. Alaska smelt burnt feathers as Paige glided past, and grinned as a shrill squawk sounded after them. "Fly towards the icicles." Alaska glanced back and saw her plan was working; Fearow was clearly enraged, her beady eyes fixated on Alaska and Paige despite her pain. As Alaska watched, the bird rested against Onix for a moment before using him as a launch pad, leaping off and shooting towards them, wings outspread like a deformed jet plane. Paige could hear their enemy and she gathered speed; Alaska had to cling on tighter as the Pidgeotto swooped upwards, the icicles leering at them like jagged teeth. Alaska could see Fearow was copying them, oblivious to the trap, giant beak open wide in an endless shriek, but though she was gaining on them she remained far behind. "Not yet, Paige, not yet," Alaska whispered, well aware how close they were to the ceiling. She tensed, waiting for the right moment; the smell of burnt feathers was getting stronger, and when she looked back, Alaska could see down Fearow's throat, a ghoulish sallow tube reaching out towards her. "NOW!" Paige dove so quickly that Alaska fell backwards, narrowly avoiding the pointed end of an icicle that had gone for her neck. Behind her, Fearow tried to follow them but her sagging wings were not as graceful, and she slammed into a thick stalactite the size of a chimney. The thud was sickening, a wet crunch filling the room, and Alaska felt a twisted mix of pride and guilt as the bird slumped to earth. One down, four to go. Alaska gripped on as Paige dove down, rapidly gathering momentum. It looked like she was going to crash into her ground, but she levelled out at the last second and glided over the ice, flying past Lachlan's body and careering towards an unsuspecting Ivysaur. Frances leapt aside as she saw her teammate coming towards her, leaving Chloe's starter as the only thing in their path. Ivysaur turned in time for Paige to hit him head on; the force was so strong Alaska's bones shook, but she ignored the pain, instead laughing at the sight of Ivysaur flailing through the air towards Chloe. "That was excellent!" Alaska leant down and hugged her starter, briefly savouring her warmth, her dusty smell that always reminded Alaska of home. "Pidge," Paige replied simply, tired but proud. As the two hovered above the battle, Alaska could see Sandy watching them in bewilderment and remembered her plan. "You need to get Onix to move forwards but keep the Pokémon fighting, wipe them out and then we can –" Alaska fell silent. She was suddenly surrounded by white light, a glare so strong she could see nothing else. She looked at the ceiling, expecting someone to be bursting through to save them, but instead watched the glow shimmer like an aurora between the icicles as reality settled in. It was disorientating, feeling Paige stretching and expanding beneath her. Alaska raised her legs as the Pidgeotto's body blossomed, muscles squirming as they doubled in size. She watched the wings grow, unfurling as though they'd been folded up this whole time. Something poked her, and Alaska leant aside, allowing the head crest to explode in length, curving down the contours of Paige's spine. She felt like a child waking up to find themselves resting in their parent's lap, her body suddenly shrunken by the glowing, growing mass around her. "PIDGEOT!" Like a switch being flicked off, the light disappeared, revealing Paige's new body in all its glory. Her feathers puffed up with renewed freshness, and she gave her longer head crest a playful flick as she dived towards the ground. She pulled out quickly and spun back up, fluttering her wings and brushing them against the icicles. Alaska clung on tightly, stunned silent. She couldn't hear the battle; she couldn't hear Paige's gleeful shrieks. Her breathing echoed inside her head, getting faster and more erratic with every inhale. Her fingers dug into Paige's back; the Pidgeot growled, but Alaska's mind was back in the Athlew Mansion garden, retreating to the woman's tent in Lavender Town, a great weight suddenly pressing down on her. "I have to… I can't be here. I have to get off." With the simplicity of getting out of a parked car, Alaska stepped off. Paige squawked at her, but Alaska heard nothing except the wind rushing through her ears as the ground rose up to greet her. There was a thud and a crack. Pain jolted up her right leg, and Alaska winced as she collapsed onto it, her head falling to the ice with a heavy thump. The ground was unsurprisingly freezing, the cold enveloping her, but Alaska felt comfortable here, safe, away from the future she'd been hiding from. And she shall be a Pidgeot by the time you ride her into your final battle. The copper-skinned woman's words whispered to her from the darkest corners of her mind, the part where Alaska had pushed everything she was afraid of, all the things she didn't want to talk about. She tried shutting her eyes, cutting off her senses, but then she simply saw a Pidgeot engraved in stone, a girl riding its back as chaos unfolded beneath them. Opening her eyes, the image was barely different. Clefable lay slumped beneath Onix but an Arbok had now joined the battle, squaring off against Sylveon in an exchange of pink light and purple sludge that darkened the shining floor. Darwin was locked in combat with the Lopunny, chasing her around the room as she danced wildly away from him. Damian was crouched on the floor, and Alaska thought for a minute he had been taken down, but saw a small flicker of flame through his arms and knew he was protecting his starter from the Cubone attacking them. Wartortle was alone trying to defeat Ninetales, standing in front of Frances as the Fire type trapped them with an endless barrage of fire. Your final battle. Was this how it ended? Was this the moment Charlotte had predicted centuries ago: no great fight to the finish, no final showdown with Gideon and Buzz, simply losing to her old neighbour in a frozen cave? Gunshots sounded around her with such force she briefly sat up, expecting multiple shooters. Shrieks echoed overhead, and Alaska saw Paige was flying amongst the icicles, dodging bullets that rose up from one spot behind Onix. Not Paige. Alaska tried standing, but her leg roared with pain and she sank back down. She wanted to scream. She had no idea what to do. She was no leader; she wasn't the hero she had to be. The battle was madness, a chaotic shambles built on hopelessness. Alaska couldn't see Sandy or Frances, only Damian struggling against Cubone's beatings while Darwin and Lopunny edged further away from them all. We're doomed, there's no way out of this. That woman was right. This is my final battle, this is where I die. A deafening roar snapped Alaska out of her thoughts. The feuding Pokémon scattered as Onix started flailing, massive tail swinging through the air like a wrecking ball, thick cracks appearing in the frozen walls. Alaska wondered if Amanda had done something, but Onix turned towards her and she saw it. It's the monster. The unfamiliar Pokémon was on Onix's head, its lower two arms clinging onto his mouth while the upper two and clawed at the Rock Snake's eyes. Alaska gagged as she saw giant splotches of dark liquid fall like hail to the ground. "NO!" Sandy's scream obliterated all other noise, and Alaska watched as she sprinted towards her Pokémon, hand raised in the air. There was a flash of red that swallowed the entire room, and suddenly Onix was gone. Sandy, no. Heart beating, Alaska looked towards the tunnel. Amanda and Chloe were revealed once more, standing perfectly still, shocked by the disappearance of their obstacle. It was as though someone had hit pause, and everyone was briefly frozen, well aware of what would happen next but no one willing to press play. Alaska wasn't sure if it was out of vengeance for brutalising her Pokémon, or if it was simply her way of trying to end the fight, but after a few tense moments, she listened with a leaden heart as Sandy roared "Fairy Wind" into the abyss, and thus the silence was broken. Without a second thought, Alaska scrambled to her feet as the first gunshot went off. There were no screams, and glancing back briefly she saw Amanda shrouded by a mist that glittered red in the icy glow. The attack had blinded her, but it was only a momentary delay in the planned carnage. "Frances, use Solarbeam then follow me," she bellowed into the night, stifling a groan as she put weight on her right leg. She ignored it and began limping forwards as quickly as she could. She heard explosions and saw light reflected in the ice, but Alaska didn't stay to watch. There was nothing she could do to stop Amanda, but she was not going to die lying on the ground, nor would she let her team face the same death that she could feel breathing down her neck. I am not going to die, I am not going to let them take me, not if I can help it. A second gunshot went off followed instantly by a third and fourth; Alaska heard ice crack somewhere near her, and she pushed forwards, gripping the heavy gun, her finger on the trigger ready for the moment she would have to act. She made it to the valley unscathed. Alaska paused at the cliff edge and turned back, hoping to find Frances right behind her. Instead, she saw Darwin barely metres from her; he was locked in an embrace with Lopunny, their arms twisted around each other. It looked fairly even to Alaska, but then she saw Darwin slide backwards, Lopunny pushing him closer and closer towards the river. "Oh no you don't." Furiously, Alaska launched herself towards the pair and raised the gun, firing without any idea what it would do. A small black ball rocketed towards Lopunny and struck her on the top of her head. The doe-eyed Pokémon turned just as the ball exploded, shrouding her in thick grey smoke. "How do you like that, bunny boiler?" Alaska grasped the gun with both hands and rammed it into the Pokémon's furry face. "PUN!" Lopunny squealed, and her grip on Darwin lessened. With a vengeful shriek, the Primeape grabbed her around the midriff and began spinning. Alaska stepped back as floppy ears threatened to whack her in the face and watched as Darwin tossed his opponent back towards the battle. "That was great," she said, managing a smile. Darwin returned it with a grunt, but Alaska was too tired to care. "You have a good aim, are you up to throwing us over there?" "Oh, hell no!" Damian appeared breathlessly beside her, clutching Charmeleon in his arms, Frances scuttling in his wake. "I wouldn't trust your murder monkey to help me cross the street let alone throw me over a fucking ravine!" "Well, what bright ideas have you got genius? Onix is out of the question, so unless you happen to have a ladder on you, we're pretty fucking stuck!" "What about your Pidgeot – can't she carry us now?" "Amanda will shoot us out of the sky by the time she has carried us all over!" Alaska paused, fear striking her heart. "Sandy, where's Sandy?" No one said a thing, but Alaska realised they didn't have to; that was the point. It was suddenly quiet again, the last sounds of battle echoing ominously. No more running, no more gunfire, no more fighting – and that could only mean one thing. When Alaska turned, it was almost as though no battle had been fought. Chloe and Amanda were there, rifle in hands, same distance away, same triumphant smirks on their faces. The only difference was Chloe now had her arms around Sandy's neck, while Lachlan lay in a lump between them and the camera team. Alaska had never felt so hopeless before. When Gideon had shot Sandy, she had at least been able to fight back, chase after the bastard even if she knew it was pointless. Now, there was nothing. She met Sandy's eyes, felt the terror emanating off her; she felt like a child again, staring at her broken home, her crying parents, desperate to take away the pain, stuck with the knowledge that was impossible. "You really are a difficult little bitch, aren't you?" Amanda hissed through her thin smile, veins throbbing as she tightened her grip on the rifle. "I hope you are aware that all of this is your fault – all these people dying, that's on you." "Fuck you," Alaska hissed, staring defiantly past her even as she felt like breaking down. She tried calling for Latios, but there was no reply this time, no tingle; she'd played that hand, there was no repeat on the cards. Amanda smirked. "You just don't give you, do you? I guess that's the one thing I admire about you. Pity it was all an act, wasn't it?" Laughing, she tightened her grip on the rifle and lifted it to her eye, ready to fire. Alaska felt nothing. If this was the end, then that was that. She had lost, there was nothing more to be done. She simply stared at the ice, admiring its beauty one last time. At least this is the end. It's finally over… I'm free, I'm finally free. A cool breeze struck her face. Alaska tensed up, wondering if this was what happened when you died: death reached out, cold hands coming to take you over to the other side. The wind got stronger, the temperature dropped, and Alaska shut her eyes, preparing herself to find Kyurem or Giratina staring back at her when she next opened them. When she heard the screams, Alaska assumed those were the other damned souls she was about to join. When she felt her body rise, she thought it was soul ascending, leaving her natural form behind. Yet as the wind got stronger and her body began to spin, Alaska had to wonder if she may be misinterpreting the situation. "ALASKA, WHAT IS SHE DOING?" She opened her eyes at Damian's shout and realised with renewed horror that she was still alive, and things were only getting worse. A hurricane appeared to have formed in the middle of this airless cave, one that only affected herself, Damian, Frances, Darwin and Charmeleon. About a metre in diameter, a swirling lilac mess had swallowed them whole, and when Alaska looked down she saw they were several feet above the ice, slowly moving clockwise over the valley. "Fuck me," Alaska murmured, too confused for anything else. She looked up, wondering where this was coming from even though she already knew: she was spinning around, her body a glowing blur, but it was clearly Paige at the eye of the twister, pulling out one final trick to try and save as many as she could. Not all of us though. "SANDY!" Alaska stared through the gathering wind, trying to focus on her friend. She caught sight of her, but it was like being in a speeding car; everything went by too quickly for her to focus on. She couldn't see anything, it was all a blur, but as they left the ice behind, their bodies now hanging dangerously above the water, Alaska saw Amanda step forwards, her rifle was now pointed upwards. Alaska screamed at Paige but it was useless; she heard no gunshot over the roar of the hurricane, simply watching as her Pidgeot suddenly slumped and dropped, still spinning as she hurtled towards death. Desperately, Alaska reached out for her, screaming for her Pokémon as tears streamed down her face. She didn't care that she was falling, that the walls of the canyon were enclosing on her. She barely noticed as she crashed into the river, her right leg screaming out as if torn from its socket. Even as the frigid rapids hit her like a speeding car, Alaska only cared about Paige. Flailing against the raging water, Alaska splashed frantically, pathetically about. She could see Paige, tawny feathers and fiery head crest bobbing in the water. She tried to reach her, ignoring the gunshots echoing down to them, the shards of ice crashing into the water. Even as the cold and pain became too much, even as she felt her arms sag, her shoulders tighten, Alaska tried to reach Paige. She was Sandy, she was Darwin and Frances, she was Damian and Lachlan; she couldn't save them, she couldn't save herself, but if Alaska could save Paige, save just one of them, maybe it might be worth it.