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Yelling at the top of his voice, Wallace glares at Archie and Maxie, and states that in honor of the cape, he shall rid Hoenn of all those who sabotage its peace. He quickly calls out his Seaking, Charles, and Whiscash, Philippe, and the two water Pokémon immediately charge towards Maxie's Houndoom and Archie's Tentacruel, knocking them across the ground and freeing Ruby in the process.

The two evil men grunt in frustration that the Champion has come to intervene, and Wallace remarks that they should feel lucky to be qualified to fight the one who wears the sacred cape. Charles then thrusts its powerful horn into Houndoom, and sends the dark Pokémon spinning in mid-air. Philippe skillfully evades the multiple tentacles of Tentacruel, and rams itself hard onto its opponent with a body slam.

Sapphire offers to help in the combat, but Wallace says he is in control of things, and urges her to tend to Ruby instead. The girl hurries over to Ruby together with Plusle and Minun, and feels the pain grip at her heart as she kneels down to carry the battered and unconscious boy into her arms.

Watching Houndoom and Tentacruel overwhelmed by Seaking and Whiscash, Archie compliments on Wallace's strength, and Maxie grins that he certainly lives up to the name of the Champion, who is regarded as the top trainer in Hoenn. However, the Team Magma leader giggles that they would be stupid not to have foreseen his intervention, and says they have already made preparations to deal with him.

Wallace puts on a confused look as he wonders what the evil men are talking about, and Archie laughs that they have held hostage of another interferer in the ancient titans' battle. With that, he motions at his Tentacruel, at the giant jellyfish lifts up one of its hidden tentacles to reveal that it has been strangling Winona all this time.

Wallace gasps in horror to see the badly injured Fortree gymleader, but just as he is about to attempt a rescue, Archie warns him not to move, and reminds him of his place. The Team Aqua leader orders Tentacruel to tighten its grip, so much that Winona starts gaping for air, and Wallace has no choice but to stand still.

Maxie is glad that Wallace knows where he stands, and says even the most powerful trainer has his weakness. He demands Wallace to retrieve his Pokémon and place the Pokéballs in front of himself, and despite his unwillingness, Wallace eventually complies for the sake of Winona's safety.

Archie and Maxie then put on an evil grin, and Houndoom without warning spits out a blast of fire onto the greatballs holding Charles and Philippe, melting the switches instantly. Maxie laughs as Wallace is no longer able to call out the two Pokémon, and Archie orders Tentacruel to take care of the man. Tentacruel swiftly wraps another of its tentacles around the neck of Wallace, then slams him hard onto the rocks over and over again. Sapphire fights to hold back her tears as she watches the Hoenn Champion being thrown around, and grinds her fist in anger and frustration.

After Tentacruel tosses both Wallace and Winona down, Archie and Maxie keep the grins on their faces, and walk over to the edge of the ascended ground to look down at the vast land beneath them. Archie takes in a deep breath, and comments that it certainly is refreshing to stand so high up above everyone else. Maxie agrees, and says it feels as if they are the lords of the entire land.

While the two men are obsessed with their fantasies of world domination, Ruby slowly comes back to his senses in Sapphire's arms, and gasps in horror and disbelief when he sees everyone else collapsed around them, his father Norman who is still burning in flames, Courtney who is still buried under the rubbles, his teacher Wallace, Winona as well as Steven. His mind boggles at the prospect that every single trainer has fallen, and the two evil men turn around again to comment that there is no one else to interfere with them anymore.

Just then, Archie feels water being splashed against his face, and looks down at the water puddle beside him to see an angry Feebas flipping its fins. Ruby quickly recognizes it as his Mimi, and the little fish instantly leaps out from the water to tackle both Archie and Maxie.

Maxie furiously catches the Feebas and rams it onto the ground, calling it an unworthy creature, while Archie stomps on it relentlessly, accusing it of blotching their sacred battle ground. Archie then flings the little Pokémon across the ground, who lands right next to Ruby. The boy trembles to fight back his tears as he gently picks up Mimi, and the battered Feebas forces a smile through its pain, grateful that it is finally back in the arms of its trainer.

Ruby feels a stabbing pain inside him as Mimi slowly passes out, and he realizes that it has secretly followed him around all this time. Archie and Maxie tower over the boy to call the fish a weak, dumb, and unbearable sight, and that it is an ugly being who doesn't deserve to live.

With a shaky voice, Ruby says he understands why people would view of Mimi that way, because he used to think the same. However, he now sees the beauty in it. Despite all the cruel words he has said to Mimi, the Pokémon still remains loyal to him and follows him everywhere he goes. Despite its limited strength, it still braced itself to challenge Archie and Maxie. All of these cannot be seen from the outside, but in Ruby's mind, these qualities add up one by one, and finally show him just how beautiful Mimi really is.

Ruby recalls the day he met his teacher Wallace at the Fallarbor contest hall, where Wallace managed to turn the anger between a man and a lady into romance. Under other circumstances, the power of a Pokémon's moves shouldn't have been able to change a person's mind, but Wallace and his Pokémon possess a warm heart, which enabled them to make miracles.

Ruby believes that a gentle soul has the power to console as well as encourage someone, therefore he wishes Archie and Maxie would realize it too. Clutching Mimi tight into his arms, the boy finally breaks into tears, and voices out what the biggest lesson he has learnt, that true beauty lies in the heart, the heart which loves and cares about others, the heart which possesses the powerful motivation allowing one to advance through any adversaries.

Archie and Maxie remain unphased by Ruby's words, but Wallace, on the other hand, has heard everything Ruby said, and praises him as his marvellous student. With blood dripping from his face, Wallace struggles to sit up, and hands Ruby the hyper rank beauty contest ribbon which he has kept for Mimi all this time. He urges Ruby to put it on for Mimi, and the boy gladly complies.

Ruby gently places the unconscious Mimi on the ground, and apologizes to it for not ever giving it a proper introductory speech in contests like he did with all his other Pokémon. He decides that he shall make one for it now, and while he used to comment a Pokémon on its external appeal, he describes Mimi as one whose beauty lies in its unchanging heart. He lays the ribbon on the little fish's body, and just as he is about to continue his speech, Mimi suddenly begins to glow and elongate in a blinding light.

In a blink of the eye, Ruby finds himself face to face with a giant sea serpent, and gasps in surprise that Mimi is the beautiful Milotic he has been searching for all along…

Thanks To Coronis For Writing this for us

266: The Last Great Battle VII!

Volume 22