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On the ascended ground of Sootopolis, Ruby recovers from his initial shock, and proudly looks up at Mimi, his newly evolved Milotic. He wants to know if it is ready to fight, and the giant sea serpent nods with a determined face. Kneeling on the ground next to them, Sapphire is still gaping her mouth wide in surprise at Mimi's unexpected evolution, while Plusle and Minun cling around her with equally astonished expressions on their faces.

Ruby then snaps Sapphire out of her trance by calling her name, and says with the ancient titans gone, it is time for the two of them to begin the real fight. Sapphire instantly brightens up with a grin, and climbs onto her Tropius, Tororo, with Minun, while Ruby gets onto Mimi with Plusle.

Standing a few feet away from the two young trainers, Archie and Maxie tighten their grips on the Blue and Red Orbs, and reach for their Pokéballs to send out Walrein and Camerupt. Ruby and Sapphire call forward their fully evolved starters, Zuzu and Chaka, and the Blaziken swiftly delivers a skyuppercut to send its opponents soaring. As they plummet, Ruby's Swampert blasts them with a powerful muddywater, which manages to knock both of them out.

Sapphire cheers that the combo attack they've trained so hard on the Mirage Island has paid off, and the two evil men grit their teeth in frustration. In a flash of light, Maxie sends out his remaining four Houndooms, while Archie releases four more Walreins. The eight Pokémon quickly engage in a close-up combat with Tororo and Mimi, and Wallace, who is struggling to prop himself up on his elbows, reckons that Archie and Maxie must have decided on a full throttle as well by sending out all of their Pokémon.

However, he soon realizes that he is wrong. While the Houndooms and Walreins keep Ruby and Sapphire occupied, Archie and Maxie have secretly seized his air-car, and are about to take off. Maxie smirks that they are smart people who know how to avoid unnecessary trouble, and Archie agrees that it is best that they excuse themselves from such a situation. As long as the Blue and Red Orbs are in their hands, they could come back and put an end to the young trainers' pathetic lives anytime they want.

With that, the two evil men go air-borne, and start speeding towards the small opening in the barrier surrounding Sootpolis. The Trick Master hurriedly gets in their way with his giant generator robot, and says he will guard the only exit of the barrier with his life. However, the robot fails to stand up against the impact of the speeding vehicle, and quickly gets knocked down from its flight.

Sapphire yells after the Trick Master to make sure he is alright, and grunts that they can't sit around and do nothing. She gives a knowing nod to Minun, who then looks over to its partner Plusle, and the two electric rabbits simultaneously begin creating a powerful electric charge between them.

Sapphire hollers that it is the energy the two have cultivated from the generator robot's power amplification earlier, and tells Ruby to count down together with her. Plusle climbs onto the long neck of Mimi while Minun positions itself on that of Tororo, and on a count of three, the two perform a summersault, and hurl off a deadly bolt of electricity towards the air-car. The attack easily catches up with the speeding vehicle, and Archie and Maxie gap their mouths wide in horror as the voltage overtakes them.

Watching the air-car sparkle with a blinding light, Sapphire rejoices that they have succeeded. However, Ruby, on the other hand, hands Sapphire his Pokégear, and tells her to insert the number 3818, the remote control code he has set for closing the air-car's shield, which could protect its passengers from electric shocks. Sapphire is taken by shock at what Ruby is suggesting, and doesn't understand why he is trying to safeguard their foe from harm. With a solemn look, Ruby remarks that enough people have died already, and he doesn't want anyone else to lose their lives.

Sapphire starts to protest, but Ruby has made up his mind, and says now that they have stopped Archie and Maxie from fleeing, the next step is to retrieve the two mystical jewels. Sapphire looks over at the sizzling air-car again, and finds it impossible, as no Pokémon is capable of moving freely through such a deadly voltage. Yet, Ruby assures her that there is one such Pokémon, and reaches for a Pokéball he usually keeps hidden, to hold it out between his palms.

Seeing the way Ruby handles the Pokéball, Sapphire gets a flashback of their first encounter in the cave amid the woods of Route 101, where they were attacked by a wild Seviper. Back then, Sapphire was about to pass out from the injury she suffered from the Mightyenas she saved Ruby from. Yet the Seviper she knocked out became conscious again, and she vaguely remembered Ruby holding out a Pokéball the same way before she completely lost it.

As Sapphire recalls the details of the incident, she realizes that the Pokéball must contain a Pokémon she has never seen Ruby used before, because she clearly remembers that all of Ruby's usual team members were out of their Pokéballs already during that time.

Seeing the baffled look on Sapphire's face, Ruby admits that it is not a Pokémon he sends out casually, because it seems to be a magical being. He met the Pokémon before he moved in from Johto where he used to live, but he never knew what species it is, and not even the Pokédex could recognize it. However, he does have it in his possession, his sixth and last Pokémon.

With that, Ruby opens up the Pokéball, and a little green fairy flies out to head towards the direction of the sparkling air-car.

On the Mirage Island, Juan, Tate and Liza are still monitoring the happenings on Sootopolis with Kingdra's aqua screen. The Sootopolis gymleader gasps with astonishment at the sight of the green faerie, and recognizes it as the legendary forest guardian, Celebi. Knowing that it is a time travelling Pokémon, he finally understands why Ruby stirred up so much turmoil in the voids of time when he entered and exited from the Mirage Island.

Back in Sootopolis, Celebi shimmers through the glass shield of the air-car amid the electric sparks, and effortlessly lifts the Red and Blue Orbs away from Maxie and Archie with its psychic powers. Lacking the strength to do anything, the two evil men curse under their ragged breaths as they watch the keys to their wishes being taken away.

Down near the border of the original site of Sootpolis, Gabby and Ty stand next to Absol and notice that the ascended ground above them is gently trembling. Gabby exclaims that the energy barrier around Sootpolis is starting to disperse, and the city itself is beginning to descend. With a grateful expression on her face, she remarks that all is over, all is finally really over. As Celebi holds the Red and Blue Orbs in hand, it begins to open up the voids of time. Swirls of energy immediately engulf the whole of Sootopolis, and knock Ruby and Sapphire unconscious before swallowing them in together with everything else.

Caught somewhere between dreamland and reality, Ruby feels himself being suspended in a vast emptiness, while a heavy sense of exhaustion gradually overwhelms him. He wonders where he is, and believes that he must be dreaming. Through closed eyes, he sees three circular windows speeding past him, bearing the faces of Steven, Courtney and Norman, his father. Indeed, the three of them have fallen, their lights burnt out. And there is already no way to turn things around, no way to save these important people whom he has encountered in his life.

The mystical Red and Blue Orbs flash rapidly with an intense light under the grasp of Celebi, and with a final sparkle, simultaneously shatter into pieces, releasing their ancient powers in a cauldron of light. The three windows of Steven, Courtney and Norman disappear within the spirals of colour, and a gentle glow slowly surrounds Ruby and Sapphire. With its task complete, the green little faerie puts on a content smile, and watches silently as Ruby and Sapphire drift out and away from the voids of time…

Later, Ruby and Sapphire snap their eyes open to sounds of cheering, and find themselves face to face with a whole room of familiar faces. Standing forefront, the Chairman of the Pokémon Association acknowledges the efforts of Ruby and Sapphire in dealing with the leaders of Team Magma and Aqua atop the ascended city of Sootopolis, and offers his gratitude on behalf of the entire of Hoenn. Behind him, all the gymleaders, as well as the many friends and companions they have met on their journey, wave and cheer as they join voices on a heartfelt thank you.

At that moment, two people among the crowd cause Ruby to stare, the Hoenn Champion Steven, and his father Norman, both of which he thought would never stand in front of his eyes again. Seeing the two of them healthy and well once more, Ruby wonders what could have happened. Just then, he realizes that he still doesn't know where he is, and the Chairman explains that they are currently inside Ba.Goon, the Pokémon Association's giant airship.

Looking outside the window, Ruby spots a familiar figure, and soon sees that it is Courtney flying on her Swellow. Courtney finds it unbelievable that she manages to stay alive, and muses to herself if her second chance to life is a karmic message, telling her to pick up her abandoned dream again, her great dream in Pokémon contests, in growing berries and making Pokéblocks. The Team Magma admin soon flies out of sight, and Ruby slowly understands that time must have somehow been fastforwarded, and they are already some time ahead in the future where everything has settled down.

He notices that the Pokéball which holds the mysterious yet powerful Pokémon he met in Johto has become empty, and knows that his little friend has already gone. As he closes his eyes, he seems to be able to see the green faerie smiling at him, and wonders if it joined him on his journey in the first place because it knew it has a task to fulfill in Hoenn.

The Pokémon Fan Club President trots over happily to pat Ruby on the shoulder, and feels grateful that they finally meet again. He remembers their first encounter at Slateport under the beautiful summer skies, and remarks that time really flies, as it is already the fall season when the autumn wind blows.

Ruby starts to agree, but suddenly realizes that something is wrong when he thinks over what the President just said. He reiterates the words to Sapphire, and the girl quickly raises an eyebrow as well. She turns around to ask the Chairman about the current date, and the Chairman states that it is already 19 September.

Both Ruby and Sapphire bolt with horror at the revelation, and holler that there is only one day left before their 80-day pact. However, Sapphire still has the Petalburg Gym to beat while Ruby still has the master rank contests to conquer. The two young trainers swiftly rush past the Chairman, sending him spinning in circles, and fall to their knees in front of Norman and Wallace.

Waving her arms frantically, Sapphire says she knows it is a bad time to make such a request, but really hopes Norman would accept a gym challenge. Ruby, too, pleads with his hands clasped in front of his chest, and begs his teacher to find a way to host a master rank contest for him, since they both have one day left only to fulfill their tasks.

Norman puts on a grin as he agrees to Sapphire's request, making the girl beam with joy, but assures her that he wouldn't take it easy on her. Meanwhile, Wallace manages to convince the announcer who hosted the hyper rank contest for Ruby at Slateport even during the flood to hold a master rank one the next day, and Ruby quickly bows in gratitude.

The two young trainers cheer that they still have a chance to complete their goals, and get ready for their final endeavor the following day as everyone else laughs at their desperation…

And so, it is finally the big day for Ruby and Sapphire, 80 days after their set out on their own journeys, the day of the pact. Somewhere amid the woods of Route 101, Sapphire swings herself from tree to tree, and recalls the tough and strict battle she just had with Norman at the Petalburg Gym. Although she has long learnt that Norman is a skillful trainer, she was still surprised by the power he demonstrated, and wonders what kind of training he does to keep himself in top shape all the time.

But despite the harsh challenge, Sapphire still managed to beat Norman. Turning around to take a look at the eight badges on her backpack, she feels proud of herself that she has finally beaten all eight gyms in Hoenn. She wonders if Ruby managed to conquer his master rank contest as well after the tough battles they had in Sootopolis, and ponders on whether or not he will really show up as promised.

Sapphire soon arrives in front of the cave she made into her secret base, and calls out Chaka, Ronono and Phadodo. She puts on a wide grin and feels thankful to be back again, but the moment she steps into the room, she is taken by utter shock. Instead of the empty cave she used to have, her secret base has turned into a colourful room decorated with various furnitures, wall pictures, and a wide collection of dolls and cushions.

She is starting to wonder if she has come to the wrong place when Ruby emerges from a tent in the middle of the room, and greets her joyfully. Sapphire demands to know what has happened to her secret base, and Ruby grins that he is simply giving it more decorations. Ignoring the sweatdrop on Sapphire's forehead, he turns around to arrange the dolls, and explains that there has been a big sale at the Slateport marketplace celebrating the resurrection of Hoenn. He then swoons over the cuteness of the Azurill doll, and Sapphire can finally take it no more. She demands to know what happened to his contest, and Ruby states that he has certainly conquered it with flying colours.

Ruby proceeds to send out Zuzu, Coco, Nana, Popo and Mimi, who are all wearing the four ribbons they have earned in addition to a special scarf. Zuzu has a yellow scarf knotted on its right forearm, while Coco has a pink scarf around its neck. Nana wears a red scarf on its head like a headband and Popo does the same with a green scarf. Last but not least, Mimi has a blue scarf tied on its horn.

Ruby explains that the scarfs were given to him by the Pokémon Fan Club President before he left Ba.Goon, and the items boosted his Pokémon' conditions greatly in the contests. He pats Mimi on the head, and says he is especially grateful to have it back on his team. The boy then mentions about the various contest halls which were destroyed during the catastrophy, and tells Sapphire that apart from the one in Lilycove, all the other ones have been renovated into facilities known as Battle Tents.

With a grin, Ruby concludes that both of them have managed to complete their goals, and thus tie in their pact of rivalry. Before Sapphire could respond, he turns around to take a look at her three Pokémon, and comments on their dirtiness. He takes out a brush and starts grooming them, and once again causes Sapphire to sweatdrop.

Staring at the boy in front of her, Sapphire feels awkward about the quirky conversation they are having, since she intended to confront Ruby about their confessions earlier. She starts to worry that Ruby has forgotten all about it, but then decides that she shall confess again even if he does. With fire burning in her eyes, she marches up to Ruby with determination. But when Ruby turns around to face her again, she begins to stutter, and turns a deep shade of red.

Just then, they hear Gabby's voice from the cute TV Ruby placed in the room, and the reporter lady joyfully welcomes her audience to the program 'World of Famous People'. She states that she is now interviewing an important person to both Ruby and Norman, the heroes who solved Hoenn's crisis this time, and Ruby gasps with shock when he sees his mother appear on screen.

Norman's wife sheepishly greets the audience, and says she has an important message for Ruby, and that is to come home as soon as he can, because they will be celebrating the birthday of their lovely neighbour Sapphire, as well as his own which they missed 80 days ago. The woman has tears of joy welling up in her eyes as she speaks, and Ruby realizes just how much his mother misses him. Sharing a knowing nod with each other, Ruby and Sapphire hurry out of the secret base, and begin their journey home.

Elsewhere in Hoenn, everyone is settling down with their normal life again. Roger continues his work at the Rusturf Tunnel with the help of the wild Loudreds there, while Wanda brings him lunch everyday. Old Mr. Briney decides to come out of his retirement, and takes up the position of captain of the speedy liner S.S. Tidal. Captain Stern, Dock, and the Pokémon Fan Club President enjoy a deep breath, and feel grateful that they have finally recovered from the cough induced by Torkoal's toxic gas. Wallace's four cheerleaders start working for Prof. Cozmo, and soon find how annoying the three lab assistants could be.

Wally, having returned from the Sky Pillar, sends Ruru back to Ruby along with a letter to thank him for introducing him to Pokémon. He also returns the Pokédex to Prof. Birch, and again attaches a letter to explain everything.

Roxanne resumes teaching at the trainer school in Rustboro, while Brawley takes up surfing again in Dewford. The giant robot which the Trick Master modified from New Mauville's power generator becomes Wattson's new favourite toy, and the Trick Master himself continues to develop new gadgets. The Lavaridge hotsprings are reopened with the restoration of Mt. Chimney's usual activity, and Flannery works hard to bring people back to her town. One time, she spots Tabitha in the crowd, and remembers him as the Team Magma admin who helped her before. As for Courtney, she has finally picked up her abandoned dream in contests again. Watering her berry plants in a big field with a Wailmer pail under the blazing sun, she wipes a sweat off her forehead, and puts on a content smile.

Back on Route 101, the sun is about to set. On this day, 20 September, Sapphire finally turns 11, making her the same age as Ruby, whose birthday is on 2 July. Incidentally, their birthstones happen to be the same as their names.

As the two young trainers hurry home, Ruby wants to know what Sapphire thinks of his grooming of her Pokémon earlier, and the girl imitates the way he says 'beautiful' as well as how his eyes would gleam when he does. Ruby takes pride in the compliment, and says he could make any Pokémon fit for a contest. Winking to each other, Ruby and Sapphire dash off towards the horizon, holding the belief that courage will keep them safe and strong all the way into the far future…

Times of peace are hard to find. Just when one catastrophy ends, another might be brewing somewhere else.

At Sootopolis, the tide slowly subsides, and reveals two pieces of irregular rock embedded in the ground amid the rubbles of the collapsed Cave of Origin. A man in black suits bends down to dig them out, and remarks that the mystical Red and Blue Orbs have shattered and become stones again after fulfilling their purposes. Holding the two shards in his hands, he recites to himself an ancient writing carved in braille.

'Let the two glittering stones, one is red, one is blue, connect the past. Two friends sharing power open a window to a new world that glows. The next world waits for you.'

The man then grins that it has already begun, and beckons to his three followers, Storc, Jagura and Oca. The four figures slowly depart from Hoenn underneath the starry evening skies, and head towards their next destination, the Sevii Islands…

--Fin. The Fourth Chapter--

Thanks To Coronis For Writing this for us

267: The Last Great Battle VIII!

Volume 22