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Fixing Kalos Pokemon pt. 3: Xerneas and Yveltal


Lorekitten

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So in previous articles, I've addressed how I'd rework certain Kalos-native Pokemon in my own take on a revisit to the region. The first article addressed Mega forms for the traditional Kalos starters of Chesnaught, Delphox, and Greninja, while the second described how I'd rework the various already existent forms of Vivillon, Furfrou, and Florges to actually have a mechanical impact from their use. This week, however, I'm addressing the Gigantamax Copparajah in the room and tackling the boxart legendaries of Xerneas and Yveltal.

And I'm NOT giving them Mega Evolutions. Or Primal Reversions, for that matter. No, I have... a special idea for them.

See, here's the thing. Most boxart legendaries have special forms now. It's a trope. Granted, it's a retroactive trope, given that Kyogre and Groudon didn't have Primal Reversion until Gen 6 and Dialga and Palkia didn't get their grotesque mutations until Legends Arceus (I want to know who approved those designs to be used in a game aimed at children), and despite being the boxart legendary of its own game, Arceus itself wasn't given any new forms in PLA, although to be fair it already has a form for every type in the game so it's not like it's lacking any. But while Xerneas and Yveltal do have a tree and cocoon form respectively, and Xerneas's horns change color depending on whether it's 'active' or not, they don't really have the same 'oomph' factor as, say, Zacian and Zamazenta's crowned forms. (Wait, I rescind that statement, I do NOT want to use 'Xerneas' and 'crowned forms' in the same sentence. That would be a competitive nightmare.)

So now that there's a weird trope going around of Game Freak making their most powerful legendaries somehow even more powerful so they can sell more merch of them and limit their use in VGC matches, let's go way back to an idea I had circa Gen 7 and give life stag and death birb their long-awaited final forms.

And by 'final forms,' I mean 'Venom symbiotes.'

NO WAIT REALLY I CAN EXPLAIN

See, the boxart legendaries for Gens 5 and 7 had a shared theme, and that was of fusion. Reshiram and Zekrom could both fuse with Kyurem to become White Kyurem and Black Kyurem, and Solgaleo and Lunala could merge with Necrozma to become Dusk Mane Necrozma and Dawn Wings Necrozma respectively. We even got a quasi-fusion in Gen 8's DLC with Calyrex mounting Glastrier and Spectrier as steeds, of all things (don't knock it, it's actually pretty cool to see different types of legendary Pokemon interact this way). Sometime around this era I realized that there was a running theme that skipped right over Gen 6, and then I thought, "You know, Zygarde is made up of a ton of tiny cells... it could probably use those cells to fuse with/take control of/form a symbiotic and-or parasitic relationship with Xerneas and Yvetal!"

Yes, this is how my mind works. I scare myself sometimes.

I'm not going to subject you to any attempts at drawing what these things might actually look like because I'm not great at drawing really complicated stuff and I'm really not great at keeping my hexagons symmetrical (source: I once did a gag comic with Meltan as a recurring character and it was a pain to get that nut right), but I think you can probably imagine it. A conservative concept would be basically Xerneas and Yveltal wearing Zygarde cells as armor, either partially or completely covering their bodies; a more 'out there' design would have them grotesquely mutated from exposure, and quite frankly I am terrified to think of what would happen if the designers of Dialga and Palkia's 'Origin' forms were given free reign with this concept. It just doesn't bear thinking about. On that note, if any of y'all want to try your hand at drawing these yourself, go nuts; just drop me a link so I can see what you've come up with.

Okay, mechanically, what would these 'symbiote' forms play like? Well, obviously, Xerneas retains its Fairy type and Yveltal its Dark type, but they both gain secondary types from the fusion, with Xerneas-Z becoming Fairy/Ground and Yveltal-Z being Dark/Dragon. I figured these choices would be obvious; Xerneas brings new life from the earth, and Yveltal looks pretty draconic on its own even before being hijacked by a bunch of single-celled organisms. Their abilities are also altered; Xerneas-Z's is called Earthen Aura and boosts the power of all Ground-type moves in battle, while Yveltal-Z's is Draconic Aura and boosts the power of all Dragon-type moves in battle. I know that Xerneas-Z retains the obvious advantage here, being 4x effective on Yveltal-Z, but to my knowledge we still don't yet have any Pokemon with both Fairy and Ground type, and this one just sounds too cool to pass up. (Interestingly enough, 'Earthen Aura' actually appeared as an ability for Zygarde in the TCG with Forbidden Light 71, of which I was entirely unaware until after I already came up with the name for Xerneas-Z's ability. Live and learn.)

Now, you know it's not gonna be a true custom Pokemon form concept without a new signature move (that's my story and I'm sticking with it), so I'll do what I do best and consult the almighty Bulbapedia TCG archive to see if it has any ideas. Xerneas's cards have interesting attacks like Aurora Gain, Aurora Horns, Rainbow Spear, Rainbow Force, and Power Creation, as well as... Geo Hunt, Bright Horns, Life Stream, and X Blast, which aren't exactly winning any awards in my book. (Life Stream sounds like something you do on Twitch.)

Breath of Life from Celebrations 12 sounds like a perfect name for a signature move from a Zygarde-infested Xerneas, if I can find a matching name for Yveltal-Z's signature move. In the TCG, it allows the player to retrieve discarded Energy cards, so maybe this could serve as a status move where Xerneas-Z slightly restores the PP of the last move its ally used. Yes, this is the kind of move that's only relevant in battles with multiple Pokemon, but it's Xerneas with Zygarde cells tacked on, it's going to kick everyone's butt regardless, and it already has Geomancy on top of that. A Pokemon based on life and healing ought to have a signature move based around life and healing. Breath of Life would probably work best as a Fairy-type move, despite being gained through Zygarde's cells, although if we want to get more lore-specific (or pedantic), it could also work as a Dragon-type move.

Yveltal also has some really cool move names in the TCG, such as Darkness Blade, Wings of Destruction, Shadow Impact, Pitch-Black Spear, ...and it also has some less cool move names like Air Crash, Single-Strike Wings, Clutch, Derail, Amazing Destruction (which was clearly intended to be cool but lost something in translation) and Blow Through (I honestly don't know what anyone was thinking with that last one). There's also Dark Feather, which probably sounded a lot cooler in the original Japanese.

In terms of what actually works within the context of a Z-form, I'll admit it's significantly more difficult given Zygarde's role as the bringer of order... but Baleful Night from Steam Siege 66 is probably the best balance between freaking cool and not overly edgy that I could find, so I'll run with that. In the TCG, this attack does damage to the foe's benched Pokemon as well as their active mon, so I'm thinking it'll be a ranged special Dark-type attack, since Yveltal doesn't have any Dark-type signature moves. But since the Dragon type might also work for it, maybe it'd be like Flying Press and deal both Dark and Dragon type damage? We don't have nearly enough moves that mess with type effectiveness, and only one true dual-type move; giving a new one to a legendary Pokemon couldn't hurt, right?

Baleful Night would also get the boost from Draconic Aura, which means its primary type would be Dragon because it's easier than having to write code specifically to include one single Dark-type move under Draconic Aura. Although... having it be primary Dark type would also mean that if Yveltal could know the move outside of its Z-form, then it'd also be boosted by Dark Aura... but then what happens if you have both Yveltal and Yveltal-Z on the field at once and one of them uses Baleful Night? Does it just turn into a freaking nuke?

(I guess Yveltal already is a freaking nuke lorewise...)

Originally that was going to be the end of it, at least in terms of signature moves. But then I had this realization that I'd searched Xerneas and Yveltal for really cool signature move names, but since the entire point of the new forms was that Zygarde had fused with them both, why not just have them share a signature move derived from Zygarde's appearance in the TCG? This move could work like Revelation Dance in which it determines its type based on the user's type, thus allowing both Xerneas-Z and Yveltal-Z to gain STAB from it.

So Zygarde's list of really cool move names in the TCG includes Geostrike, Pulse Blast, Land Crush, Raging Blade, Power Blast, Core Avenger, Judgment Surge, Shout of Power, and Cell Storm. Out of all of these, I think the move name I like most for something that would work for both a Xerneas form and a Yveltal form is Geostrike from Fates Collide 53. In the TCG, Geostrike deals recoil damage to the user's benched Pokemon, so I can easily see Geostrike as being a Light of Ruin clone that can be either Ground-type or Dragon-type depending on whether Xerneas-Z or Yveltal-Z is using it.

Finally, stats. Xerneas and Yveltal both have a massive base stat total of 680. Zygarde has base 600 in its 50% form, 486 in its 10% form, and 708 in its Complete form (I have no idea who was in charge of deciding those numbers and I'm not sure I want to know). I don't feel comfortable giving Xerneas-Z and Yveltal-Z the same BST as Zygarde-Complete, but I still want them to feel more powerful than their base forms, so I'm leaning towards maybe 695 each. Since the form change is similar to armor, Xerneas might become more specially defensive, while Yveltal gains more special attack to boost Baleful Night. Again, I'm not a competitive gal so I'm not gonna try to pretend these concepts are balanced, I'm just saying what I think could be cool.

Special shoutout to my internet bestie Redwings1340, who's been recently considering how past legendary Pokemon could be buffed to be, well, more legendary than they actually are. This most likely subconsciously inspired this article in some way, and even if it didn't, it's never a bad time to tell someone you love and care about that you appreciate them. Stay cool, bestie.

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