Another good chapter! I'm kind of sad that Paul is so sick... which is weird since he's a jerk. But good job on showing that he secretly does like his Weavile. That battle was a close one, and you did a good job on it.
You misplaced your semicolon. It should be after 'insulting', instead of 'ahead'.Conway looked ahead; not taking any offense to Paul’s insulting, for as long as his insults didn’t involve Dawn,
It's technically one whole sentence, so you shouldn't start with a capital letter when Byron 'resumes' speech.You were ye tall,” He demonstrated by lowering his hand down to his knees. “Last time I saw you! Can’t blame you for that!”
In fact, you can try: You were ye tall-” (he demonstrated by lowering his hand down to his knees) “-last time I saw you! Can’t blame you for that!”
Also, for the 'Can't blame you for that!' part, shouldn't it be 'Can't blame me for that!'? Unless it was sarcasm...
“Yes,” Paul answered, feeling very uneasy now.“Yes,” Paul answered, but felt very uneasy now.
Basically your implication, but more flowing.
'Steelix was not at 100% or something along those lines. Just '100%' doesn't do the job.Steelix was not 100%
“Get out of there!!” he screamed, >even< though he knew the odds were not on his side.Same as before.such an important battle without being >at< 100% himself
I like how all the bits just seem to go together, what with both brothers being deranged :3
You have a gift in characterising characters like Byron and Conway (as well as all the others, but Byron especially in this chapter). They're oh so juicy :9
I can also tell that you seem to be setting up some sort of shipping here *nudges*
(Thanks for the reviewing! Didn't expect there to be so many errors last chapter, but I'm glad the masses are still enjoying the product! This one admittedly isn't that exciting, but 5 would be a hard act to follow anyway. This serves to bridge from one plot arc to another, as well as adding another little surprise element to the mix. We'll see how well that goes. I smell angst in the next chapter!)
Once traveling arrangements were made, the unconscious Paul was transferred to an infirmary where he could recover more quickly. He and Conway were due to leave Canalave City by ship early the next morning, and the ship would at least take them as far as the Valor Lakefront. From there on, they would have to take a bus to make it to Veilstone City. The distance alone meant it would take a few days for Conway and Paul to reach their destination, but it was the best they could afford to do at this point, especially since Paul was quite incapacitated now and certainly couldn’t make any progress today.
It was dusk when Paul finally came to. He grunted, sensitive to the fluorescent lights in the room. Though he regained his consciousness, Paul honestly felt no better than he had before he passed out. He was still hot and sweaty, his headache was borderline-unbearable, and even in a clean and sanitary room, Paul found his sinuses congested and had difficulty breathing.
He was awake, but had no energy to sit up on his own. However, Paul did notice there was a wet cloth over his forehead, as well as a bag of ice. It disappointed and embarrassed him that this wasn’t a dream; he really had succumbed to an illness mainly due to his negligence of his wellbeing. Conway happened to be sitting in a chair and reading a magazine close by Paul. Paul didn’t know this, but Conway had been in that position for hours.
Upon hearing Paul make a noise, however, Conway looked past the magazine pages to see that Paul had indeed woken up. “Oh, good!” Conway exclaimed, relieved that Paul had woken up. Ordinarily he wouldn’t have been this worried, but seeing Paul succumb to a simple illness the way he did have the elder trainer rather frazzled. “You’re awake… guess that means you’re going to be alright, then.”
“Alright…?” Paul asked, as he was little confused. It then hit him that his voice was sore and hollow-sounding. He was much sicker than he thought he was. “What… happened?”
“What happened?” Conway echoed in disbelief. “You’re telling me that you don’t remember? … Well, guess I can’t be too harsh on you. Passing out the way you did probably left you really disoriented.”
Being told that he passed out only further embarrassed Paul. Nonetheless, he looked as stiff and annoyed as he usually did. “So I’m sick after all. You must be ecstatic that you turned out to be right this time.”
“Huh?” Conway shook his head. “I’m not a jerk like you, Paul; I wouldn’t be happy about you being sick whether it proved me right or not. I didn’t want it to come to this in the first place. Why else would I have been trying to talk you out of that Gym Battle constantly?”
“The Gym Battle…!” It just struck Paul that he had been battling with Byron for a Mine Badge at the time he lost consciousness. Slowly, the details of his memories before passing out crept into his mind. “That’s… that’s when I passed out.”
Conway nodded, setting his magazine aside. “You passed out in the Gym, yes. Scared the living daylights out of all of us, too.”
Paul gritted his teeth, having a feeling there was only more bad news to come, and he certainly wasn’t in the mood to hear it. But for his own peace of mind, he had to confirm it… “I passed out during the final match. So I… automatically forfeited the battle.”
“Guess again,” Conway retorted, bringing out Paul’s badge case and opening it up for him to see the contents. With the other Sinnoh Badges Paul had earned, Paul’s eyes widened when he saw none other than the Mine Badge in the case with the others.
At a loss for words, Paul could only stare and stutter, thinking he was hallucinating all of this.
Conway couldn’t deny it; seeing Paul react this way was highly amusing, but he knew this was hardly the time to mess with his head. “No, Paul, you aren’t imagining things. You managed to defeat Byron just before you passed out… and you have Weavile to thank for this Mine Badge.”
“Weavile…” It was all coming back to Paul now: how everything went wrong that morning, how he blamed Weavile for most of it, and how he threatened to release Weavile if it failed to deliver in its scheduled Gym Battle. He remembered how the battle had played out, now… and he remembered that he sent Weavile out last. From that, he knew Conway was telling the truth. But again, he didn’t want to give Conway the satisfaction of seeing him humbled.
Paul grunted and looked away. “It looks like Weavile made up for its previous blunders today, then. We’re even, and Weavile knows that. It doesn’t need thanks from me or you.”
“Too late,” Conway pointed out tauntingly. “I thanked Weavile enough for both of us. Face it, Paul: if you wanted Weavile gone, you would’ve sent it out first rather than last.”
Aggravated to no end, Paul snatched his badge case from Conway and slammed it shut. “I don’t need to explain my methods to you. What matters is that I’ve obtained my Mine Badge now, so it’s time for me to head to Snowpoint City and for you to make tracks in some other direction. I’ve tolerated you about as much as I can stand to at this point. Are we understood?”
Conway sighed, just then looking a bit more serious, which Paul did not expect. “Paul, the journey to Snowpoint City is going to have to wait for the time being. There’s a family emergency you’re required to tend to at the moment, so we’re leaving for Veilstone City tomorrow morning.”
Much as he tried to disregard his relatives, the term “family emergency” immediately took effect on Paul. He glared at Conway and grabbed his wrist.
“What are you talking about?!” He shouted at Conway. “What happened?!”
Physical violence was something Conway liked to avoid. “Easy, easy!” He urged, gently removing Paul’s warm hand from his wrist. “The Gym got a call in from Maylene, Veilstone’s Gym Leader, shortly after your battle ended. She specifically requested to speak with you, but you were out cold at the time, so I took the call for you. She was calling on your brother’s behalf, Paul.”
It disgusted Paul to realize that Reggie was serious about letting someone like Maylene look after his place while he was out training. At the same time, he was impressed that Reggie had remained true to his word and took his training seriously for his upcoming battle with Brandon. Still, the “family emergency” element of the call came back to mind, and Paul didn’t want to waste time in learning the specifics of such a call.
“Why Maylene?” He asked. “Why couldn’t Reggie call me himself?”
Conway closed his eyes and looked down, solemn and calm as he broke the news to Paul. “Remember when you said there was no way Reggie would be careless enough to train outside when there was severe weather about? Apparently you were way off on that, because Reggie was found near Mt. Coronet where the worst part of the storm system was. According to Maylene… Reggie was struck by lightning.”
This sufficiently stunned Paul. Not only was he dead wrong about his brother’s actions, but hearing that his sweet, gentle brother had been the victim of one of nature’s harshest elements set a shock throughout his whole body. Paul had recovered enough to be sitting up on his own by this point, but now he’d fallen back against his pillow as Conway’s words sunk into him. Paul was still conscious, but he certainly felt as if he could faint again.
It pained Conway to see this reaction from Paul, but knew it was only expected… even out of someone as cold-hearted and sturdy as Paul.
“The good news is… Reggie survived the lightning strike,” Conway clarified, which at least put Paul at ease a little. The short amount of time that passed between being informed of the lightning strike and being informed that Reggie survived it felt like hours of pain and regret on Paul’s end… not that he would admit it.
Still, Paul couldn’t help but look paranoid as he looked to Conway. “And the bad news…?”
“Well…” Based on the limited information Maylene gave him, Conway was unsure of how to answer the question, but figured for Paul, a bad answer was better than no answer at all. “I’m not sure how much this has to do with the lightning strike since she didn’t go into detail very much, but apparently your brother’s on the verge of a mental meltdown. No one is able to contact your dad, so Reggie really needs you to be there for him in his time of need, okay?”
“A mental meltdown…” Paul pondered over such a thing, as he never heard such words and his brother’s name used in the same sentence before. He couldn’t even imagine what the situation would be like… and deep down, that frightened him a bit. “If you put it that way, then… I’ll have to go. The old man can’t be relied on for anything, even though this is exactly the kind of thing he should be doing if he were a real father.”
Conway nodded in agreement. “Why is it that no one can get ahold of Brandon, anyway? Is he just that antisocial?”
Paul shrugged, pretending not to care about the way his father did things. “He considers himself a special case because he has a flying pyramid. The old man is never in the same place twice in Kanto, so it’s impossible to pinpoint his exact location. For whatever reason, he never really installed communication devices into his Battle Pyramid. There’s also the fact that he’s rarely in that thing because he spends so much of his time digging up ancient artifacts…”
“Very peculiar,” Conway noted, adjusting his glasses. “A father who’s practically invisible to the entire world and even his family… no wonder you don’t like the guy.”
“Enough about him,” Paul snapped, trying to get out of bed. “I’d better get moving right away to Veilstone.”
Conway was quick to stop Paul and force him back into bed. “Hey, hey, no need for that. You’re still sick and you’ve got no business moving about until you recover, okay? Don’t worry about getting back to Veilstone City.” He smiled, happy to brag about his recent accomplishments. “I’ve taken the liberty of booking us on a ship that’ll take us to the Valor Lakefront. From there, we’ll reach Veilstone by a bus that’ll be waiting for us. We’re setting out first thing in the morning, so you need to get as much rest as you can so you can at least board the ship without falling over. I’m going with you to make sure you get better before we reach Veilstone City.”
Paul looked annoyed again, mainly because he knew he was in yet another situation where he couldn’t rid himself of Conway. Still, at least he meant well. “I’m not a baby, Conway. I can take care of myself.”
“Big talk for someone who ignored my advice earlier today and ended up passing out during a Gym Battle,” Conway snidely reminded him. “I’m beginning to suspect this inability to care for yourself trait runs in the family, you know. Either way, you might as well rest up as much as you can. Since we’re so far away from Veilstone as it is, we’ll be at sea for at least a couple of days. You have to get better, because Maylene told me that Reggie might not take it very well in his fragile mental condition if he saw you the way you look right now.”
Seeing it that way, Paul suddenly didn’t want to argue with Conway about his physical health any longer. Even he couldn’t deny he was well beyond sick due to his own carelessness. He wasn’t sure what to expect from his brother, and in some way he felt partially responsible for the breakdown, but couldn’t quite put his finger on why.
But as Paul thought about Reggie, something else came to mind; something important.
“Alright,” Paul conceded, looking down and refusing to face Conway. “I’ll take it easy during the trip back home. But I have a favor to ask of you, Conway.”
“A favor, huh?” Conway mused, leaning back on his chair. “Promise you won’t run out on me if I run an errand for you?”
Paul rolled his eyes. “What would I have to gain from doing that, especially in my condition? I want you to run an errand for me since I can’t do it myself now.”
“Ah, alright then,” Conway said, giving Paul the benefit of the doubt. “What would you like me to do?”
“Listen well,” Paul instructed. “Since we’re leaving Canalave early tomorrow, I want you to go on ahead to the library right now. You can get whatever it was you wanted, but I want you to pick up something for me.”
Conway grinned. “Why, that’s practically a privilege rather than an order! Was there something specific you wanted me to find?”
“Yes,” Paul said with a nod. “Regigigas: I want you to take any book or article that mentions that Pokémon. Anything regarding Regirock, Registeel, and Regice should suffice as well. It’s imperative that you dig up every last bit of information that library has to offer about Regigigas. Since it’s the largest library in the Sinnoh region, I expect you’ll find something about it.”
“Regigigas, huh?” Conway mused, smirking. “I think I remember hearing legends about that one… why are you so interested in that one, Paul?”
Paul sighed, waving his hand dismissively. “I’ll explain it when you get back. Just hurry over there before the library closes.”
Conway proudly stood up and thrust a fist in the air with pure enthusiasm. “Aye, aye!” He then resumed a normal stance as he looked down at his young companion curiously. “Anything you need before I go, then?”
“Mm…” Paul took the wet cloth and bag of ice (which had mostly melted by this point) from his forehead. “More ice and a new cloth. I’m guessing it’s still just me who’s burning up in here.”
“You would be correct,” Conway casually affirmed. “With any luck, we’ll break that fever by sunrise. I’ll let the nurse know what you need and be on my way to the library, then!”
Just mere moments after saying that, Conway rushed out of the room to perform his duties. For having to do so many things for such an ungrateful acquaintance, Conway was certainly taking it in stride. Paul could only look on, flabbergasted, until his condition would no longer allow him to sit up. Grunting, he plopped his head back against his pillow and closed his eyes. Paul was feeling miserable in more ways than one, now.
At the same time, far off in Kanto, the party of Misty, Tracey, and Brandon had just arrived at Pallet Town. By this point, the sun had set and it was quickly getting dark outside, so the group was fortunate to reach civilization just in time.
“In my experience, I’ve known Pokémon Professors to be rather busy,” Brandon noted, looking down at his younger traveling companions. “You’re certain Professor Oak will not be offended by having a visitor over this late?”
“Like I said, he loves having visitors,” Tracey assured him. “It’s not like it’s his bedtime or anything. He’s been known to pull all-nighters pretty frequently.”
“Really?” Misty asked. “What in the world is so important for him to be doing at odd hours of the night?”
Tracey shrugged. “Unfortunately, I can never stay awake long enough to know what he specifically does at night. But I imagine he has less free time to dedicate solely to research since he’s taking care of Ash’s Pokémon, and that’s even with my help.”
The familiar name struck a chord with the Frontier Brain. “Whose Pokémon did you just say the Professor was taking care of?”
“Our friend, Ash Ketchum’s Pokémon,” Misty answered. “He’s a close friend and former traveling companion of ours.”
Tracey nodded happily. “We’ve been in a multitude of wacky adventures together in the good old days… Ash is from Pallet Town, but right now he’s in the Sinnoh region.”
“He’s already been through this region, the Orange Islands, Johto, and Hoenn prior to Sinnoh,” Misty pointed out. “Since he’s traveled so much, he’s acquired a lot of Pokémon during his journey. But you know a trainer can only keep six Pokémon at a time…”
“… And he’s made a habit of starting fresh in each new region he enters,” Tracey added. “So after every League, Ash comes by here to drop off the Pokémon he acquired in that region. Professor Oak and I look after and take care of the Pokémon while he’s gone.”
“Of Pallet Town…” Brandon muttered. He then looked sharply to the young trainers before him. “Yes, I am familiar with him. He is one of the very few trainers who has ever beaten me and earned my Brave Symbol.”
“Hey, that’s right!” Tracey exclaimed, pointing at Brandon. “Ash did challenge the Battle Frontier just before he went to Sinnoh! I knew he conquered it… I can’t believe I didn’t make the connection earlier.”
Misty was notably impressed. “Wow… Ash has come a long way to be able to beat someone like Brandon. I traveled with him when he was just starting out… and to think he’s actually Frontier Brain material now…”
“Obviously, he declined the offer to become one,” Brandon reminded. “And it took him three attempts before he finally defeated me, but he’s quite talented for his age, I’ll admit.”
“That’s why Ash didn’t want to settle for being a Frontier Brain,” Tracey said. “He’s aiming to be a master… so don’t be surprised if you see him in the Elite Four one day.”
“Or better yet, the Champion of the Elite Four!” Misty gushed, but then giggled. “Well, he hasn’t even won a League Conference yet for all of his experience. Maybe one day he’ll get his chance.”
Brandon nodded. “I’m sure he will. Interesting that he’s in Sinnoh now, though… that’s where I grew up. My kids are still living there.”
“Oh, wow…” Misty mumbled, taken aback that this gruff old man was actually a parent. “You have children…? I had no idea…”
“I get that a lot,” Brandon admitted, rolling his eyes. “The little one is currently battling Gyms to qualify for the Sinnoh League Conference as well. Perhaps the two will cross paths one day… based on what you’ve said about your friend, they are equally experienced. If they were to meet and battle, it would be quite a sight.”
“It’s a pity you’re stuck here in Kanto,” Tracey sympathized. “That would be so exciting to see…”
“Oh! Look!” Misty interrupted, pointing ahead. “There’s Professor Oak’s Lab! And I see the lights are still on, so he’s definitely home.”
Brandon smiled at the sight. “Excellent. Finally, I should be able to get some answers about what I’m looking for.”
“If Professor Oak doesn’t know, then I highly doubt anyone else in Kanto will either,” Tracey assured, knocking on the front door. “But even if he doesn’t, he can always contact Professor Elm, Birch, or Rowan to see if they know anything.”
The door opened, revealing a pleasantly-surprised Professor Samuel Oak. “Back so soon, Tracey? And I see you’ve brought guests this time!”
Misty nodded and waved. “Nice to see you again, Professor Oak.”
“And this is the Pyramid King himself: Brandon!” Tracey introduced. “He came to us at Cerulean Gym wanting to speak with you personally.”
Professor Oak grinned, shaking Brandon warmly by the hand. “Yes, Ash has told me all about you, Brandon! Your reputation certainly precedes you, but it is a pleasure to see you, of course.”
“The feeling is mutual,” Brandon assured as he and the others entered the Professor’s home. “I’ve come here on urgent business, and you are my last hope to obtain any possible information on a certain Pokémon I’ve been tracking down for months.”
Professor Oak nodded, absorbing the message thoroughly. He gestured towards Misty and Tracey and gave a suggestion. “Tracey, it happens to be dinnertime for the Pokémon. Would you and Misty mind terribly to take care of them while I speak with this prestigious Frontier Brain?”
“Ah, not a problem, Professor!” Tracey consented. “That alright with you, Misty?”
Misty nodded enthusiastically. “Sure. Let’s do it!”
As the young trainers left to tend to Ash’s Pokémon and the others, Professor Oak and Brandon sat down on a sofa to discuss the matter at hand.
“So,” the Professor started. “You say you’re looking for a particular Pokémon. Is this a rare one; perhaps a legendary?”
“I believe the one I seek is both rare and legendary, considering I have yet to find any solid information on it yet. However, I have relatively quickly discovered and captured three legendary Pokémon who are associated with it.”
“Three others, you say…” Professor Oak muttered, grabbing a book and looking for it. “And the name of the Pokémon you seek is…?”
“Regigigas,” Brandon said succinctly. “I have already acquired Regirock, Registeel, and Regice. Regigigas is the alleged leader of the other three.”
Professor Oak nodded as he flipped through the pages of his book. “Regigigas… yes, I do believe I’ve heard of that one before. If I recall correctly, I had talked about the subject with Professor Rowan some time ago.” He looked to Brandon with an apologetic look. “Unfortunately, the conversation was a brief one. Concrete information on Regigigas is indeed scarce.”
Brandon crossed his arms and huffed. “At least you know about it. That’s more than I’ve gotten from anyone else in this region. So you do know the basics… Is there anything else you discussed with Professor Rowan that would help me find it?”
“Unfortunately, I don’t believe this book will help you,” Professor Oak said regretfully. “This is a general index for the known species of Pokémon in this world, so it only gives bare-bones details you probably already know. It cites that Regigigas is the ‘Colossal Pokémon’, and an enduring legend states it had towed continents with ropes. Additionally, it is said to have made Pokémon shaped in its image from rocks, magma, and a mountain of ice.”
Brandon frowned and nodded. “So it implies that my Regirock, Registeel, and Regice were created by Regigigas itself. There’s nothing in regards to where it can be located if it still exists in this world?”
Professor Oak shook his head and closed the book. “Not a word. I suppose you already checked the library and museum in Pewter City… that would be your best bet for finding information on the Pokémon in this region.”
“Of course I already checked Pewter City,” Brandon grumbled. “It was the first place I hit because I knew it was the most-likely area of Kanto that could help me find Regigigas. After failing to find information in Pewter City, I’ve traversed through the entire Kanto region ever since, but I’ve yet to get closer to finding any specific, concrete answers.”
“As a Frontier Brain, I understand you’re confined to Kanto,” Professor Oak acknowledged. “But not all hope is lost. I have the technology to see if there are places in other regions that might have informative literature on Regigigas. I can go online and peruse through every library’s listing in Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh, and so on until I find a match. Once we find the appropriate book, we can simply order it so it won’t be necessary for you to leave this region.”
Brandon was elated to hear this. “That is a brilliant idea! I must thank you for going through the trouble of doing this for me, Professor.”
“Ah-ah,” the Professor pointed out. “Not just for you, but for the sake of fulfilling my own duty as a Professor to document and study every species of Pokémon in this world. Still, it is my pleasure to assist you, Brandon. Follow me and we shall search through the library databases and see what is available.”
Brandon silently nodded and followed Professor Oak to his computer station. He sat and watched Professor Oak scan all library databases across every region to find any material containing information on Regigigas. Several towns and cities possessed museums and libraries, thus making the process long and arduous. Brandon grew increasingly tense as every individual search turned up negative, without any material on Regigigas whatsoever.
The hours passed… Johto had been cleared; there was no information on Regigigas there. Some time later, Hoenn’s results ended up the same. Both men grew concerned as they began to scan through Sinnoh’s databases.
“Brandon, you came from Sinnoh,” Professor Oak noted as the scanner went on. “Did you try to find out anything about the Pokémon before you moved here?”
“Unfortunately, that was not even on my mind until well after I arrived here to take up the Frontier Brain position,” Brandon responded. “It was many years ago since I’ve set foot in my home region… I’m sure many things have changed since then. But Byron, one of my friends from my childhood, is a Gym Leader in Canalave City these days. I recall there being a library in Canalave City…”
Coincidentally, the scanner was now analyzing the data from the listings of Canalave City’s library. Professor Oak smiled at this.
“We may be in luck yet, then. Canalave’s Library seems to be the largest one in the Sinnoh region… possibly of all regions,” he pointed out. “You’re more than welcome to use my video phone to contact Byron if we find anything in this library. He could send the materials to you personally.”
Brandon smiled at this. “Yes, that would work out nicely… it has been a while since I’ve spoken with him. Most likely, he would throw a fit for me not calling more often, but he is every bit of an archaeologist as I am. We were rivals back in the day… he would be more than happy to help out.”
Just then, the scanner beeped. Both men looked excited, as it meant that the computer had finally found something regarding the Pokémon they were looking for.
After a pause, Professor Oak’s excitement faded. “… one result found in Canalave City… and in Sinnoh overall. I suppose that’s better than nothing at all…”
“Beggars can’t be choosers,” Brandon reminded him. “I will take whatever I can get. Reserve that book so I can give Byron a call to mail it out to us.”
As Professor Oak proceeded to do so, he frowned. “… There’s a slight problem with that, Brandon,” he said with a tone of disbelief.
Brandon glared. “And what might that problem be?”
Professor Oak pointed to the screen. “See for yourself; it seems that the book has already been checked out… less than an hour ago, in fact.”
“What?!” Brandon shoved the Pokémon Professor out of the way to see the screen, which clearly showed what was told to him. “Someone checked out the only book on Regigigas in the entire world?! Who could possibly…?!” He looked sharply to Professor Oak. “Find out who checked out that book! I want that person’s name and information immediately!”
Professor Oak inched away, looking uncomfortable now with Brandon’s temper. “Well, you see… not only do I not have the ability to find such information, I believe it’s… illegal, in a way. Privacy regulations and whatnot… the library won’t just tell us who checked the book out.”
Brandon stood up; and after nearly two hours of standing, he was ready to get out of his chair, anyway. “You’re sure of this?”
“Well, yes,” Professor Oak said, sounding fairly sure of himself. “But normally, the books must be returned within a week or so. All you’d have to do is wait a week until it becomes available again, and then…”
“We can’t count on that happening!” Brandon interrupted. “We have no way of knowing if the one who took that book has any intention of returning it within its due date, or ever. I have to know who took that book, Professor. No average person would check out a book on such an elusive Pokémon without a purpose outside of simply reading the book!”
By now, the Professor was growing tired of this tirade. “You honestly believe someone is using that book for another purpose and will never return it to the library?”
“I have my reasons for my beliefs,” Brandon assured. “I have no choice but to go to Canalave City myself and get the answers directly from the source.”
“G-go to Canalave City?!” Professor Oak couldn’t believe he suggested such a thing. “You mean you’re going to Sinnoh?! But you simply can’t do that, Brandon! You have duties here as a Frontier Brain in Kanto! You are their leader! What will happen if you leave?”
Brandon shook his head. “I will not be gone for long. I can put one of the others in charge in my absence. Anabel, Spenser, Noland… any of them would be suitable taking my place temporarily. Besides that, a new Battle Frontier has opened up. Any trainer aiming to conquer a Battle Frontier can always visit the new site.”
“Oh, I believe I heard about that!” Professor Oak exclaimed. “The new Frontier Brains are some of the lucky few who have defeated you, correct…?”
Brandon nodded. “Tower Tycoon Palmer, another old acquaintance of mine, leads the new Frontier. I helped design the blueprints of the new Battle Frontier, and I believe it will be quite a challenge for anyone who dares to try and conquer it.”
Professor Oak nodded. “And to think Ash would have been one of them if he accepted your offer…”
“That’s why there are fewer of them at this time,” Brandon noted. “But the others are indeed trainers of elite status; none of them had to beat me in three tries. His appearance is deceiving, but Thorton is the epitome of a strategic battler, so he will run the new Battle Factory. Dahlia was also deceptive in her appearance and demeanor, but she is one who knows how to battle against the odds... which is why she will represent the Battle Arcade. Then there is Darach, as well as his mistress, Lady Caitlin, who run the Battle Castle. They insisted on running the facility together. Then there is Argenta… she certainly came off as somewhat full of herself, but it was nice to have another older trainer to balance things out. She will be running the Battle Hall.”
“Things are unbalanced on your turf, you mean?” Professor Oak asked with amusement.
Brandon rolled his eyes. “Let’s just say many of them are rather… ‘eccentric’ in their own ways. Greta can be hyperactive, Anabel has been acting strange lately even though she’s usually one of the more mature Brains of the group, Tucker is a little… flashy for my liking… Lucy is…” He paused. “I suppose I am being overly-critical, aren’t I?”
Professor Oak chuckled nervously. “I’m sure it’s only because you’re tense about the book situation…”
“Oh, right!” Brandon shouted, now reminded of the current situation. “I’ll have to contact all of the other Frontier Brains of Kanto to let them know about my temporary departure.”
On that subject, the Professor gulped. “Y-you’re certain you want to go through with this?”
“That book may be the only way for me to find and obtain Regigigas,” Brandon said, dramatic in tone. “If it is lost or misplaced in any way by the one who took it, then I may never achieve my goal of obtaining the rightful leader and creator of the Regis I own. If you would, Professor, please contact the port in Vermilion City and book a trip to Canalave City as soon as possible. It isn’t worth the risk to try flying the Battle Pyramid over a long distance at sea. I will contact my assistant and have him inform Scott and the Frontier Brains that I will be taking a temporary leave of absence.”
“Ah…” Professor Oak looked uneasy as he walked towards his video phone. “You’re certain Scott will allow this?”
Brandon nodded confidently. “I have tenure. Since I started this position as the Pyramid King when the Battle Frontier first opened to the public and have never asked for a break or a vacation in all the years I’ve worked there, I am certain Scott and the others will see that I have earned this ‘break’ and it is for a good cause, both for my own gain and the Battle Frontier’s.”
Professor Oak sighed; it was clear now that there was no way to convince Brandon otherwise, and he had logical reasons to support his stubborn nature on this issue. “Very well, then. Vermilion Port should still be open, so I’ll book you for the next available trip to Canalave…”
“Excellent,” Brandon said, smirking. “I appreciate your efforts, Professor. I feel the day I will encounter Regigigas will indeed be soon.”
“Check it out, Sleeping Beauty!” Conway announced on his way back into Paul’s room at the infirmary. “The only book in the entire Sinnoh region that has what you’re looking for: Legends of Sinnoh – the God among the Regi Trio.” He waved the book out so Paul could see it. Paul had been sleeping just then, but was easily awakened by Conway’s sudden reappearance.
“Back already, I see…” Paul muttered, rubbing his eyes. “You only found one book about Regigigas in the entire library…?”
Conway shook his head, pointing at Paul. “First of all, I was at the library from the time I left right until it closed, so I was there for roughly two hours. I’d hardly consider that being gone for a brief time.” At that, Paul only rolled his eyes. “Secondly, yes; there’s apparently only one book with any real information about Regigigas in all of Sinnoh. The lady who checked the books out told me it’s probably the only book in the entire world that has such information, so we’re lucky to be in the right region that has it. I believe she told me much of the material was taken from transcripts originally written in Snowpoint City…”
“Wait, wait,” Paul said, holding Conway up. “Snowpoint City…? ‘Legends of Sinnoh’? Are you implying that Regigigas is native to Sinnoh of all regions?”
“Not sure,” Conway admitted with a shrug. “The title certainly implies as much, doesn’t it? I didn’t get a good chance to look through it, so I’m not sure what it’s all about yet. Thankfully, we have a lengthy journey across the sea we’ll be embarking on tomorrow morning, so that’ll give us plenty of time to absorb all of the information in that book and glean the details of whatever you deem is so necessary about Regigigas.”
Paul reached out towards the book to take it from Conway. “Well, I might as well get a head-start on it-”
He was cut off by Conway backing away so that Paul could not reach it from his bed. “Ah-ah-ah,” he scolded. “Like I said, we’ll have plenty of time to read tomorrow and the next day or two while we sail off to the Valor Lakefront. You need your rest, Paul. Sick as you are, you’ll need all the strength you can muster just to be able to board the ship and reach our quarters without falling over. No offense; I’m just not looking forward to becoming your human crutch.”
A low growl was heard on Paul’s end as he bore a menacing glare towards Conway. “Don’t you dare tell me what I can and can’t do.”
“This coming from a guy who can’t take care of himself,” Conway muttered in a mocking tone. “Don’t forget that your health may affect your brother quite severely if he sees that you’re sick. If he’s mentally unhinged already, the last thing you’d want to do is further unhinge him. Am I right, or am I right?”
Paul had forgotten about that, and almost the whole reason why he was returning to his hometown in the first place. Not because he was unconcerned for his brother’s wellbeing, but because he was so ill that he appeared to have something of a short-term memory loss.
“Fine,” Paul grumbled in defeat. “I’ll just go back to sleep, then. You were interrupting that anyway.”
“My apologies, then,” Conway said with a bow, though it somehow sounded insincere. “Just wanted to let you know about the book. I shall turn in as well, since we both need to get up bright and early tomorrow and start our new journey.”
Paul huffed as he lied back on his pillow and covered himself in his sheets again. “You realize the only reason I’m letting you join me this time around is because I’m sick, right?”
“I am well aware of that,” Conway casually noted as he prepared himself for bedtime. “I have a feeling our little partnership will be making some unexpected twists and turns, regardless. We’ll see what the future has in store for us…”
Paul covered his head and turned away from Conway, trying to hold in another frustrated growl. “Just keep that nonsense in your dreams, shut up, and go to sleep already.”
“Of course, of course,” Conway said, climbing into a neighboring bed and turning out the light. “Goodnight, Paul…” He sung out softly.
All Conway got in response was an embittered “Whatever…” as the two quickly drifted into a peaceful slumber to prepare for the journey ahead of them, and the anxiety-inducing task that lay before the both of them.
( TBC )
This fic is so cool and awesome! Do you have a PM list and if so, can I be on it?
A PM list is what people haveon the first post of their fic and people who want to know when new chapters are out will be notified by the person writing the fic via PM.
Mucho gusto! Reggie will be in the next chapter undoubtedly, as he is still on his butt in the hospital in Veilstone and most likely tranquilized to the point where he's uncontrollably drooling and poor Maylene has to clean it off.Originally Posted by dash142
Banner took a hell of a lot of work, but I did like the end result, so I'm glad it pleases you guys... I did custom-make the Brave Symbol, which was a lot more annoying to make than it had any right to be... and for a special spoiler bonus, the barely-visible lady next to Brandon (the dead mom, obviously) is something I kinda-sorta custom made, actually because I suck so hard at drawing in Pokemon anime's style, I controversially used Pokesho's model of Savannah and altered it to get a better idea myself of how Paul and Reggie's mom would look (to, you know... make up for the other genetic details that Brandon lacks... namely the purple hair). I've tried drawing her myself, but it just doesn't come out right. I'll keep trying, since I feel like a bad person sometimes filthing up Pokesho art with my own dirty hands. :') It was just for the sake of getting some clarity, though. My art would've looked like utter crap on the banner, anyway...
I'll try my best not to get distracted and put out another chapter soon! I have a pretty fun twist in store after we get past this hospital arc (though I'm kinda peeved that DP118 and DP119 aren't going to give me any material to go by for the distant future...)! Let's just say it involves a Contest and an anime-only town that I'll pull out of my own creative keister. ♥
Last edited by Shinneth; 23rd March 2009 at 6:22 AM.
Nah, it's manual. Just make a list of people who want to be in it, then C+P it into the recipients box when composing a new Private Message.
Oh yeah, I'd like to be on as well :]
Not just that, MaylenexReggie,Naww, really? I guess by now it's become rather obvious why Conway's taken to following Paul around constantly. :3
But yes, mainly Conway and Paul (who is quite obviously in denial~).
Eh to be honest, I felt a bit lazy and dismissed this chapter until very later (until now >_>), especially since you said it wasn't going to be very exciting, so I'm very sorry about reading this later than I should. On the bright side, I enjoyed reading this very much (because Conway moments are just priceless x3) even without any sort of action or important events (well, Brandon going to Sinnoh is important and so is Conway obtaining the book, but eh), which says a lot for your writing style.
Keep it up ;]
ppppffffft. Yeah. For all the Reggie/Maylene interaction (who else other than Paul and Ash's group does the guy interact with anyway, really?), I had a feeling Curtainshipping might be imminent. I'm not sure. I'm rather neutral about it, but I've been aware of it since the characters debuted in Japan since I'm a collector of the fanarts, and there are ample amounts of them together. Me, I think there's a pretty big age gap which makes me have trouble seeing it mutual, at least in this fic, but I think it's feasible. I guess that would be throwing in the ancient term GhostCurtainshipping or something along those lines. I have an idea about throwing a bone in that area later on in Chapter 7 (... provided it doesn't run too long).Not just that, MaylenexReggie,
But yes, mainly Conway and Paul (who is quite obviously in denial~).
Veilstoneshipping... MOAR pppfpfffpfpfft. HIGHLY amusing, but naw, Conway's mainly following Paul because he's aware that Paul happens to run into Ash & Co. quite a bit, meaning he encounters Dawn quite a bit, meaning if Conway follows Paul long enough, he would see Dawn again and the huminahuminahumina would commence. Creeping out Paul along the way is the side-bonus, we might say, but I do have something of a bonding moment in store for those two. Something... "genuine". Hohoho. It'll bring about drama. There's already a little bit of drama between the boys in 7. Then there's a little "bet" that'll come about later on before I segue into their separation bit at the Wind Town adaption... (shoot man, you're probably going to be thinking Byron/Brandon when I post 7).
That's okay, I thought chapter 6 pretty much sucked outside of those 2 relatively important plot points. Except for today's developments in the anime and now it's OFFICIALLY CANON that Brandon's returning to get Regigigas and is... b-battling Paul... and I think they said the freakin' Battle Pyramid is there with him, which just boned me already (since I've felt Brandon wouldn't want to risk a lengthy trip at sea with that clunky Battle Pyramid since he'd probably be as good as dead if that thing malfunctioned... there is no way that thing is buoyant), though his assistant can just follow him and they can meet in Sinnoh later, I suppose. If he starts flashbacking and there's a living mother or there's no genetic relation after all... ah well. Doesn't really matter either way, I guess. Paul having a Hariyama, a Gen III Pokemon for once, tells me a lot, though. I also have a plot point in mind for that random Ninjask he caught in the Glory Blaze! flashback (I'm sure you can already figure out what it is...)Eh to be honest, I felt a bit lazy and dismissed this chapter until very later (until now >_>), especially since you said it wasn't going to be very exciting, so I'm very sorry about reading this later than I should. On the bright side, I enjoyed reading this very much (because Conway moments are just priceless x3) even without any sort of action or important events (well, Brandon going to Sinnoh is important and so is Conway obtaining the book, but eh), which says a lot for your writing style.
Keep it up ;]
So yeah, safe to say I'm really excited that the whole basis of the story might just become partially anime-relevant. I'm about 3,400 words into Chapter 7 right now. I intend on finishing that and posting it. After that, though, I think I'll take a break and see exactly how the anime executes this little twist (I'm guessing this won't be happening until late April or May, though). I'll continue on with the story no matter what happens, but I've been trying to keep it relatively faithful to the anime canon alongside Ash's story up to this point. If it comes to a point where if it'll have to deviate, I'll deviate it. I just want to be prepared so I can be sure I can deviate it well and still make it believable. Additionally, since the next chapter will be the last one for a while, I'll go ahead and say I've got some fanon family members planned for Conway as well (plays into the "bonding" with Paul bit!), knocking on wood and figuring that, even if he does appear again (and I hope he does), he won't have canon relatives revealed and neither will his city/town of origin (incidentally, I'm planning it to be Veilstone City, what a nice coincidence!). And the reasoning behind Conway wanting to bond with Paul? Oh, just the fact that he detests his older sister. Baa-ZING!
So yeah. Just wanted to give you all a little heads-up of what's to come, and a little moment of keyboard-smashing (adsfhklfhadsklfhasflkhasfsafs) about the near-future events of the anime that's making me ever-so anxious to see just how they pull it off! Can't say when 7 will be coming out since my writing speed is inconsistent, but I'm sure it'll be out BEFORE those episodes air. Most definitely.
The world's greatest collector as drawn by Yoru Ryu
Fancy Jirarudan too? Then you'll enjoy my fic Obsession! (updated May 30th, 2016)
It's got its own TV Tropes page!
Check out some of my other fics!
Answering Machine, winner of Most Heartbreaking Scene 2013!
Heart Like A Stone, winner of Most Heartbreaking Fic and 3rd place Best Canon Character-Centric 2014!
Solar System, 4th place, Villainous Intent
Ahaa. I never saw the second movie, so that'd explain why that never came to me. XD Guess you're holding off your thoughts until I finish this thing off, I assume~?
Oh, I never reviewed? Could have sworn I did on Bulbagarden, since I read every chapter there (well, being fanfic mod I have to, but I enjoy reading yours). And I--well hell, I just said.
I'll give a proper review next chapter, ok?
The world's greatest collector as drawn by Yoru Ryu
Fancy Jirarudan too? Then you'll enjoy my fic Obsession! (updated May 30th, 2016)
It's got its own TV Tropes page!
Check out some of my other fics!
Answering Machine, winner of Most Heartbreaking Scene 2013!
Heart Like A Stone, winner of Most Heartbreaking Fic and 3rd place Best Canon Character-Centric 2014!
Solar System, 4th place, Villainous Intent
Well, if you're a Fanfic Mod, it's easy to see why you'd think you reviewed! But naw, this fic gets virtually zero love on Bulbagarden for some reason. I think there's maybe one review on it, and that was way back when I posted the first chapter in November. Haven't gotten one since. Then again, I never really review either, so I figure it's an eye for an eye. :') Happy enough to know you're enjoying it, at least!
Lesse... almost 7k on Chapter 7 and it's still chronologically daybreak. This miiiight end up being a monster of a chapter akin to 4 and 5. I'm feeling better physically... I'll see if I can get it up this week!
Okay um huge chapter is HUGE. Just... look at the ff.net notes if you want author comments. This is going to take like, at LEAST three posts. And remember, this is the last chapter until after the anime shows us details on Paul vs Brandon! So enjoy the 24k worth of fic while you can! It's expositional mayhem!
Ever restless, Brandon stood at the bow of the ship in the middle of the night as he crossed the seas between regions for the first time in years. Professor Oak managed to book him on a late-night shipping appointment, which Brandon did not mind, as he did not care for comfort or anything of the sort, so long as he made it to Sinnoh as soon as he could. Since he had to leave so soon (and travel quite a distance from Pallet Town to Vermilion City in a short amount of time), he left Professor Oak to send the message to Scott and the remaining Frontier Brains of his temporary departure as well. Of course, Brandon thanked the Professor for all his hard work and assured him that he would not return to Kanto empty-handed.
“Ah, sir,” a sailor suddenly interrupted Brandon’s moment of deep thought. “We won’t arrive at our destination until daybreak. It’s probably best you get some rest and-”
“Brandon.” The Frontier Brain curtly interrupted. “I despise the formalities.” He looked to the sailor with a stiff frown. “You said we would not reach Canalave City until daybreak?”
The sailor flailed a bit and nodded with a slightly panicked look on his face. “Yes, s-… Brandon! Daybreak! Roughly 5 or 6 o’clock, the Captain estimates! I-I’m sorry I offended you, but still, I must insist you return to your quarters and rest until we disembark...”
After a moment of consideration, Brandon conceded with a nod. “Admittedly, it’s hard to sleep knowing I’m finally returning to my home region after seven long years… but I have a job to do. I can reminisce after I retire.” He looked to the sailor. “Where would my designated quarters be, now?”
“Oh, my apologies!” The sailor said, bowing. “Follow me and I’ll show you. Don’t worry; I’ll be sure to wake you up when we reach Canalave’s port.”
Brandon gave a slight smile of contentment at that as he was led to where he would sleep for the next few hours.
On the verge of daybreak, an alarm clock sounded off. Conway was quick to jolt out of his bed and smack the noisemaker off, as he hated sudden loud, beeping sounds. He yawned loudly, usually not accustomed to waking up at 05:00, but it was a necessity for today in order to be prepared adequately to board the boat at the nearby port that would take himself and Paul on a long ride to the Valor Lakefront.
After scrambling for his glasses on the side table and putting them on, he looked to Paul, who was still soundly asleep with a cloth and a bag of what was once ice over his forehead; now water. Conway stretched out a bit before approaching Paul and removing the items from Paul’s forehead and getting a feel of his temperature by pressing the back of his hand against his forehead. This was beginning to stir Paul, but Conway was getting a feel of his companion’s progress before he fully awakened. Conway frowned, as it felt like Paul’s fever had not broken after all as he hoped it would. He wondered if he simply didn’t give Paul enough time to rest due to the fact that they had to wake up earlier than usual today, or…
“Maybe Byron was onto something when he said Paul had a weak body,” Conway muttered, still discontent as he removed his hand and went to get a thermometer. By now, Conway had made enough noise for Paul to be disturbed. Once all the lights had been turned on, Paul could no longer resist the outside world and opened his eyes.
Paul couldn’t hide it: he looked and felt like crap.
He looked to the bed aside him and noticed Conway not present, but could hear him meddling in the bathroom nearby, so Paul knew he was still around. Wearily, Paul looked out the window to see that the sun had not yet risen, though daybreak was nigh. He lurched over to look at the clock, which was on Conway’s side of the bedroom, and his eyes widened in disbelief.
“Are you kidding me?!” He complained, throwing his arms up. “You said ‘first thing in the morning’, not ‘before sunrise’, Conway! What were you thinking?!”
“Sorry I wasn’t more specific about that,” Conway called out from the bathroom. “Yesterday was rather hectic, and that’s something you can’t argue with.” He came out with a thermometer in one hand while brushing his hair with the other. “Since you’re up, would you mind taking your temperature for me? I’m afraid your fever hasn’t quite broken yet, so you’re going to have to go straight back to bed once we get boarded and into our rooms if we’re to have you completely healthy when we reach Veilstone City.”
Paul grumbled and took the thermometer from Conway’s hand. “You said for certain that it would be broken by now,” he reminded him, before sticking the thermometer in his mouth and patiently waited for his result.
Conway sighed and shrugged, gathering his belongings together and setting out a fresh pair of clothes to wear for the day. “I forgot to factor in the whole ‘waking-up-earlier-than-usual’ thing. My bad. Still, it should just be a minor setback… like I said, for the distance we’ll be at sea, there’s no way you’ll still have that fever when we reach Veilstone City.” Just then, the thermometer beeped, indicating that it was finished reading Paul’s temperature. “Ah, take it out!” Conway instructed. “I want to see how well we’ve progressed since yesterday’s readings.”
Paul glared at Conway as he followed his orders and took out the thermometer and looked at the readings. Before giving an answer, he looked to Conway again with a skeptical look. “What exactly was my temperature yesterday?”
“103.5 degrees,” Conway reported automatically, as if he memorized the detail. “Way above the human average, and borderline-dangerous. Why? What does it say now?”
Paul looked down and sighed. “102.5 degrees.”
Conway’s jaw dropped, and his arms fell flat to his sides; he even dropped his hairbrush. “No way. All we went through to make sure you were going to make it out alright, and you only went down a single degree? We even had wet cloths and ice over your head almost constantly!”
“Obviously, it wasn’t enough,” Paul grumbled, tossing the thermometer aside. Just then, he was caught up in another fit of coughing, and Conway winced as he watched.
“Yeah…” Conway said after Paul’s coughing subsided. “I just realized your throat’s still sore and everything. Guess we should’ve invested in some cough syrup…”
Paul rolled his eyes. “Didn’t I tell you at the Pokémon Center that it was an allergy infection?”
Conway’s eyes narrowed, as he had long since been fed up with Paul’s dismissal over how bad off he really was. “It was more than that and you know it,” he said flatly. “It might’ve not gotten this bad if you just listened to me in the first place.”
“If I listened to you, I wouldn’t have a Mine Badge right now,” Paul retorted, now just looking childishly stubborn.
“Maybe not right now, but you would’ve had one eventually and you wouldn’t have had to sacrifice your health for it!” Conway countered, which Paul was too tired and sick to fight against. After a moment of awkward silence, a frustrated Conway moved to his side of the bed to gather his fresh set of clothes and a towel.
“We’re due to board at 06:30, so go on and get dressed,” Conway coldly instructed without looking at Paul. “I’m going to take a quick shower. You can get yours after you finish your sleep on the ship. When you get dressed, I implore you to seek a nurse and get some medicine to help out the coughing and high fever. Apparently you’re a little high-maintenance.”
Paul growled at the insult. With the sudden adrenaline running through him, he wanted to punch Conway in the face then and now. He rushed up to do so, but was simply too slow. By the time he got up on his feet, Conway had already made his way to the bathroom and shut the door. He locked it as well… not that Paul would dare assault Conway… or anyone else… but especially not Conway in the bathroom of all places. It was then that Paul experienced a bit of vertigo as he stood. He staggered and slumped against a wall for support.
Much as he hated to admit it, Conway was right. Paul needed to see a nurse for more advanced medicine if he was ever going to overcome this in time to see his brother. This wasn’t the first time Paul had to deal with a nasty illness, truth be told… usually, he was lucky enough to be close to home and be cared for by Reggie. Still, Paul couldn’t recall the last time he felt this bad… and he certainly never fainted during any Gym Battles, either. The fact that he fainted during a Gym Battle where the Leader was an acquaintance of his father’s told Paul that Brandon himself would be hearing of this eventually… and Reggie, too.
He knew Reggie would blow a gasket, as always. What mattered now is that he just needed to present himself as being healthy to his brother when Reggie himself was presently mentally unstable. As Paul staggered over to see a nurse, he briefly wondered what his father’s reaction would be… but dismissed the thought, believing he shouldn’t care what his father would react or think. Especially due to the circumstances surrounding his older brother, Paul despised his father more than ever now. He never would have imagined as he approached the nurse for medicine that said father was just a short distance away from him within the same city limits as his ship came into Canalave City’s port.
“Seven years,” Brandon said as he stepped off the boat and onto the deck of the port. “It seems the city has not changed as much as I suspected it would. Byron would be responsible for that, wouldn’t he…” He chuckled to himself. “He did always prefer the old-school style, as I did.”
It was from this city where he parted from Sinnoh (and his family) seven years ago when he agreed to take up the Frontier Brain position in Kanto. It was a painful and emotional time, but due to the circumstances, in addition to his wife’s death, he was left with little choice. Of course, Reggie was beginning to earn money of his own since he was close to becoming of age, but they were only meager wages and nothing neither he nor Paul could survive from. It was from Brandon’s job alone that the family was able to keep going, but the boys were determined not to sponge off from him forever. He admired their drive and desire to become independent, but Brandon had his doubts in each of them.
Brandon frowned as he came upon the Canalave Library, his ultimate destination, only to find it closed. Of course, most stores were still closed at this early hour when the sun was only beginning to show up over the horizon, but Brandon was an impatient person, and was not fond of the fact that he would have to wait until 07:00 for the library to open its doors. It was not even 06:00 yet, so he still had over an hour to kill with nothing to do. Naturally, he looked towards Canalave Gym. Brandon knew if Byron hadn’t changed his tune, he would be up and accepting challengers (or even visitors) at this hour. As he walked towards the establishment, he stopped abruptly when he felt a sudden rumbling sound from the ground. Very few residents were about this time of day, so Brandon was the only one taking notice to this.
All of a sudden, an armored head and body popped out from the ground in front of Brandon, nearly scaring the middle-aged Frontier Brain to death. The shock was enough to nearly take him off his feet, but he regained his balance, as this felt very familiar to him now. Brandon remembered instances like these happening to him very often to him in his childhood…
Once he got a good look at the man who scared the living daylights out of him, he glared and pointed accusingly. “You haven’t matured a bit, have you, Byron?! Even now, all these years later, you still like to sneak up on people from under the ground like some sort of Diglett?”
Byron laughed loudly in pride, but was cut off as he recognized the voice; it was one he had not heard in a long, long time. Raising an eyebrow, the Gym Leader took off his headgear to look up and meet eyes with his childhood friend from long ago, now a Frontier Brain. “The heck…? I must’ve hit my head on a lead pipe or something… that can’t possibly be you, Brandon!”
Brandon smiled with pride. “It’s true; I’ve returned to Sinnoh on urgent business. But since the library won’t open for over an hour, I figured it would be best to catch up with you. I see you’re the only one in Canalave City who remains in top shape and wakes up this early every day to do your usual routine.”
“Guilty as charged!” Byron admitted as he climbed out of his hole. “Only wish I could set a better example for these lazy good-for-nothings. Urgent business, y’say? You haven’t set foot here in years, man!” He slapped a hand casually on Brandon’s shoulder.
Under normal circumstances, Brandon would probably punch someone in the face for doing so, but he allowed it for the case of a childhood friend… “What’s so important that tore you away from your duties from being a Frontier Brain? Did someone already tell you about your kids?”
Brandon looked at Byron strangely. “What would they have to do with the library? I need the library because Canalave’s happens to be the only one in the entire world that has the one and only book with detailed information on Regigigas: a Pokémon I’ve been after for months. Someone just checked out that book last night, and I intend to find out who did so and why. I can say with certainty I deserve that book more than anyone else.”
“Huh, intense,” Byron mused. “Hope you can get that accomplished soon, ‘cause while you’re here, you really should see your boys, Brandon.”
“Like you’re one to talk,” Brandon scoffed, knowing full well of the tension between Byron and his son, Roark. “One’s off training in preparation to battle me once I capture Regigigas and the other is battling Gyms to qualify for the Sinnoh League Conference, only to advance to the new Battle Frontier immediately afterwards, and then battle me. Both are quite tied up at the moment as I am.”
Byron scratched his head uncomfortably. “Uh… funny you should say that, bud… see, I actually fought Paul in a Gym Battle just yesterday.”
That certainly got Brandon’s attention. “You did…?” He then looked stern. “What was the outcome?”
“He had a green-haired little Four-Eyes with him at the time, yeah… so anyway, I was told that Paul was using this battle to train his Pokémon for endurance, seeing as my Pokémon are predominantly Steel-typed and all…”
Brandon nodded at these details impatiently. “Yes, yes…”
“Point is, strategically, he purposely had a bad choice of Pokémon against mine,” Byron explained. “His Honchkrow, Ursaring, and Weavile against my Bronzor, Steelix, and Bastiodon. It came down to our final Pokémon, and it was an awful close one, let me tell ya…”
“Get to the point!!” Brandon shouted, tapping his finger furiously against his folded arm.
Byron nodded and bowed his head. “He won. He pulled out an ingenious strategy I hadn’t seen since I battled you. I think I really was right way back in the day when you introduced me to the little guy. He may have been clingin’ to Andrea for dear life, but I saw that fighting spirit just waiting burst out and take the world on! I just couldn’t see the same flame in Reggie, y’know?”
Brandon grimly nodded. “It seems you turned out to be right after all these years. Still… it pleases me that he is showing results in spite of his unorthodox training and battling style. He must be close to qualifying for the League at this point.”
“There’s a… slight setback,” Byron mentioned. “It’s part of why I think you need to see your boys. Both of them,” he emphasized.
“Setback?” The Frontier Brain was confused. “What do you mean?”
Byron looked down with regret. “I didn’t realize it until after it happened, but it turned out that Paul was sick the whole time we were battling. Little Four-Eyes was beggin’ him to hold back until he was better, but Paul shoved him away and insisted on battling me as soon as he could. He forced himself a bit too hard, I think, because he was looking really feverish and exhausted. I should’ve noticed it myself; I just thought the kid was nervous trying to live up to your legacy, so… he managed to win the battle and all, but while Four-Eyes and I were talkin’ about the win, we saw that Paul fainted.”
Brandon’s expressions hardened. Distant as he was to his sons, he instantly became paranoid upon hearing of one of them becoming sick or hurt. Of course, this primarily came from the previous loss of his wife.
Byron knew that look well. He had been there for Brandon not long after he lost his wife, and attended the funeral. He looked somber and looked to the side for a moment. “Brandon… I know what you’re thinkin’. Personally, to me, I think it may have just been a cold or the flu that the kid was just too stubborn to take care of, but rest assured he’s being well taken care of now. I got the boy to a bed and he was transferred to the infirmary in this city as soon as possible. Early as it is now, Paul’s still probably over there, so you wouldn’t be going out of your way to see him.”
“I understand,” Brandon said quietly, nodding. “I should probably do that now.” He started to turn off in that direction, but Byron held him up.
“Uh, one more thing, man,” Byron said, still serious in tone. “I said you needed to see both your kids. I wouldn’t be sayin’ that without a reason.”
Brandon turned around, looking fearful now. “You mean to say…?”
Byron nodded, sadly. “Something happened to Reggie, too. Right after the battle with Paul, my Gym got a call in from Maylene. She’s the Gym Leader of Veilstone City now, you know…”
“Maylene?” Brandon interrupted. “I remember that kid… she’s barely my little one’s age. She managed to become a Gym Leader?”
Byron smiled slightly. “Things may have not changed a lot here, but the story’s a little different where you lived, Brandon. Either way, it’s been less than a year since she took up the position. Still, she called my Gym because she was told Paul would most likely be here and she couldn’t get ahold of you.” He sternly looked to his old friend. “No one can, actually.”
Brandon groaned and leaned his face against the palm of his hand. “I knew this was going to come back and bite me one day… what’s this one’s story?”
“It’s a bit more extreme,” Byron warned. “So… brace yourself. Just remember Reggie’s still alive and relatively okay right now, far as we know.” But that certainly did nothing to put Brandon at ease. “Alright, then… Maylene called us, asking for Paul… Paul was out of it by this time, so Four-Eyes took the call for him. He reported back to me saying that Paul’s presence was requested back at Veilstone City, especially since you couldn’t be contacted, because Reggie had been found severely injured and unconscious while training at the base of Mt. Coronet where there were severe thunderstorms yesterday. Thought the kid had more common sense than that, but… anyway, long story short, Reggie got struck by lightning.”
Brandon took this roughly as well as Paul did; in other words, he was stunned and silenced for many awkward moments until Byron had it in him to break the silence.
“I did mention that he made it out alive, right?” Byron clarified uneasily. Being reminded of that, Brandon shook his head (not to tell Byron “no”, but to pull himself together and remind himself of what Byron had just told him a minute earlier).
“S-sorry…” Brandon murmured, being in a rare state of fear and guilt. “I-it’s just… difficult to stay calm after hearing such a thing like that…”
Byron nodded in agreement. “I’m hearin’ ya… if anyone told me that happened to Roark, I’d be flippin’ out right about now. Even if I was told ahead of time that he survived that kind of thing.” He looked to Brandon straight in the eyes as he said that, in mutual paternal understanding.
Brandon sighed. “I should be reacting that way… why am I holding back?” His arms fell to his sides and formed into fists. “You would be right there in the hospital for your son, but I’m not…”
“It’s really not fair to compare the two of us,” Byron pointed out. “Roark and I may not be living in the same city anymore, but at least we’re in the same region in pretty close proximity. You’re thousands of miles away from your kids, Brandon… least you could do is get some long-distance contact set up with them and the rest of your familiars over here, but you can only do so much while you’re in Kanto, man.”
After so many years of resistance of the idea and a long period of consideration, Brandon looked up at the early morning sky. “Indeed… this must be a sign from the heavens. Losing Andrea was devastating enough. If I lost one of the boys…”
The Gym Leader nodded to Brandon. “Reggie and Paul are why you’re bustin’ your butt day-in, day-out as a Frontier Brain. It’s a tough sacrifice to be that far away and still be a dad, I know. But it’s gonna lose all meaning if you end up losing a son because of what you’re doing, too…”
Brandon suddenly found it hard to stand on his own two feet as he was reminded of his abysmal family situation. Byron was fortunate he was close enough to Brandon as a friend; otherwise Brandon would have tossed him off a dock by this point. Taking the cue, Byron took a seat next to his childhood friend.
“The fact of the matter is, I’ve never been that great of a parent,” Brandon admitted. “The only time I was adequate was when Andrea inspired me to be so. It isn’t that I don’t love the boys… it’s just…”
“Not everyone’s cut out to go it alone,” Byron reminded him. “I’d doubt I would’ve been able to raise Roark right by myself without my wife’s help, truth be told. I just got lucky.” He looked to Brandon insightfully. “You realize that’s why I kept tryin’ to encourage you to remarry, right…?”
Brandon didn’t stay in Sinnoh for long after Andrea died, but Byron was one of the few people outside of his sons to truly be there for him in his time of need. Unfortunately, Byron ended up overstepping a boundary by urging Brandon to move on a bit too early before he was ready. Eventually, it was becoming apparent that Brandon’s readiness to find another wife was never here nor there; timing had nothing to do with it.
“I understand your heart was in the right place, Byron… and I appreciate the gesture,” Brandon said softly. “But I wasn’t ready seven years ago… and I’m still not ready now. And if I’m not ready now, I believe I never will be. I simply never pictured any other woman in my life. It may have been selfish of me to not give the boys another mother, but… looking at it another way, if I remarried, I wouldn’t have been able to take up the Frontier Brain position and support the family. There was a good chance the kids wouldn’t have taken well to a strange new woman in the household, either. And at this point, it’s simply too late for a mother to enrich either of their lives.”
Byron looked skeptical. “You really think so?”
“Of course,” Brandon said tiredly. “One’s going to be eighteen years old in about a month, after all. And the other was only… perhaps five, almost six when Andrea died. At present, he still doesn’t remember his own mother’s name… or anything about her, really, other than her profession. The only reason he knows that is because his brother’s taken to following his mother’s footsteps after failing to defeat me… not that I can blame the boy. He was simply too young to remember the details.”
Byron looked up, thinking about the previous day. “Kinda ironic, now that I think about it. The day you introduced me to Paul, the lil’ tyke wouldn’t let go of his mommy without throwing a fit. I knew something was off about him yesterday… like something in him totally changed since the last time I saw him. I think I know what changed, now.”
“What in the world are you talking about?” Brandon asked, as he remembered Paul’s clinginess to his mother in his early years, but wasn’t sure where Byron was going with this…
“Kid grew up forgetting what a mother’s love is like!” Byron deduced. “Can’t deny he loved Andy with all his heart while she was alive, but without her and you leaving so soon after, all he had was Reggie. Reggie was gonna try to succeed where you failed as a kid, then changed his mind and went Andy’s route. Paul looked up to his big brother before that happened… poor guy’s had nothin’ in his life but disappointment and failure and missing out.”
Being told that so forwardly was enough to keep Brandon quiet for a moment, as there wasn’t much he could say to argue against or scold his friend for talking out of place. Byron was close enough to the family to know the details; especially since he had battled Paul just yesterday. Byron would have easily been able to tell the difference between Paul of the present and the Paul he saw last. That was more for what Brandon could say about the Paul he saw last in person.
“You’re right,” he finally admitted. “Andrea being torn away from us was the worst thing that happened to this family. I lost her and that potential Elite Four spot on the same day. To compensate, I had to leave my children and go to Kanto to continue supporting them. So both of them had to grow and mature without my guidance, for the most part… at best, all I could give them was an occasional letter.”
“Why didn’t you just move them to Kanto with you?” Byron asked, though skeptical. “I mean, don’t get me wrong… I’d still be ticked off at you, because I’d probably really never see you again if you did things that way, but don’t you think that would’ve been better for the boys?”
It was a complicated matter for Brandon; thankfully, he had time to explain this, and frankly… he knew he owed the explanation to Byron. For all the years he went without speaking a word to his childhood playmate, Byron deserved to know the details.
“My first boy was already in the middle of his first journey at the time of Andrea’s death,” Brandon noted, quietly. “It was eerily convenient for him to inform me at the time, since he was en route to Sunyshore City to earn his eighth badge while I was about to take the League Exam for the Elite Four position. Either way, after all was said and done… I didn’t want to uproot my kids so suddenly, especially when my first one was about to have his first League Conference Battle. He didn’t want that, and the little one didn’t want to be separated from his brother.”
Byron nodded and suddenly found the sea surrounding the majority of the city particularly interesting now. “I’m sure Reggie would’ve won the Sinnoh League if he weren’t weighed down with the loss of Andy, Brandon. I was watching the kid in your place, remember? I told you all about it.”
Unconvinced, Brandon tried his best not to look stressed out, but failed and slumped over in defeat. “The boy was defeated within the first round, as I recall.”
Byron shrugged. “Like I said, he had a lot on his mind. I would’ve performed like crap anywhere if my mom just died, wouldn’t you?”
Brandon chose to ignore that question. “Anyway, there’s your answer to that question. After the kid finished his Sinnoh endeavors, he took his brother along with him to other regions to compete until the youngster was old enough to train himself. Not long after that, the first one battled me a few times and lost every time… then returned to Sinnoh for good.”
“Pickin’ up where Andy left off…” Byron mused before looking to Brandon. “Speaking of Reggie, man… there’s a little detail about the lightning strike incident I forgot to mention.”
Brandon’s eyes snapped open. “Detail?”
“Four-Eyes wasn’t sure if it was the lightning strike that caused it, but the reason Paul is off to see Reggie is ‘cause Reggie’s gone a bit, uh… off-kilter.”
This explanation did not satisfy the Frontier Brain. He gave Byron a stern look. “Don’t dance around the issue. Be straightforward.”
“Geez!” Byron grumbled. “Maylene was cryptic about that as it was! What she literally said was that Reggie’s ‘sick in the head’! She said that’s the reason why Paul needed to get to Veilstone ASAP and why she was so mad that she couldn’t get ahold of you about it!”
Brandon suddenly stood up. That “sick in the head” comment just set off alarms in his own. Ever since Andrea died, Brandon inwardly worried if one day he’d have to worry about one of his sons meeting an untimely death due to inheriting her disease. There was no concrete proof that either of them had, as Andrea’s condition was never quite determined even after the autopsy reports. The Frontier Brain lived many years fearing he’d have to go through this once more, and Reggie reminded him of Andrea enough already, even before she died…
“Guess that settles it,” Byron figured, standing up with him. “You’re going to Veilstone, then?”
“Well… yes, I am,” Brandon said, nodding. “I’m going to check on my son in this city first, then extract a bit of information out of the library, since that’s what I came here for originally… that should leave you plenty of time to rent me a boat, Byron. I’d like a small one so I can weave through the rivers of Sinnoh and make it to Veilstone City that way rather than being out at sea. Unless they’ve messed with the routes since I left, it shouldn’t take more than a day or two to reach my destination.”
Byron blinked. The routes had been messed with quite a bit since Brandon left Sinnoh. “Uh, man, you really oughta…”
“Hah!” Brandon slapped his old friend on the back, completely misinterpreting his reluctance. “Byron, be honest with me; how many challengers do you honestly get at this time of day?”
The Gym Leader looked confused. “Uh, average’s about zero, actually. Lazy kids these days usually don’t come a-knockin’ on my Gym until after noon… what’s your point?”
“Use that head of yours for once,” Brandon urged. “You’re obviously not busy if you’ve resorted to scaring residents half to death by popping out from underground, so it won’t be too much for you to simply rent me a boat while I run my errands. The rest of the Battle Frontier committee is likely only now waking up and will soon realize that I have taken my leave of absence…”
“Whoa, whoa!!” Byron was amazed. “You left without tellin’ them?!”
Brandon smirked. “Everything will be fine as long as I get what I came here for. I worked with Professor Oak just last night and he agreed to send off my temporary farewell notice, so it isn’t as if I’ve gone all rebellious or anything. I’m merely looking for Regigigas, and the only way to find it lies within this region. Leaving Kanto was necessary, and I don’t have time to wait for the committee’s approval while that anonymous man or woman has what I’m looking for.”
“Uh huh…” Byron still wasn’t sure about this move. Brandon was always an impulsive one, even as a kid. It always ended up getting him (and his friends) into trouble, and Byron wasn’t about to believe that the trouble was going to end here. “Well, should they call me, I’ll be sure to put in a good word for ya, okay? I’ll let ‘em know that your kids are sick and whatnot. They ought to ease up on you leaving like that, right?”
“Either way, I have tenure,” Brandon noted. “They can’t terminate me.” He faced his friend and smiled. “Thank you for letting me know about what’s happened. I’m sorry; there’s no excuse for going this long without speaking to you. When I return to my Battle Pyramid, I’ll be sure to have some open advanced communication systems installed… including some for myself.”
Byron smiled back. “Anytime, Brandy! Hey, we’ll make a promise, eh? When we retire, we can start up our digging competitions again! We’ll even get Palmer in on it!”
Brandon scoffed and walked over to Byron. “First of all, I told you ages ago to stop calling me that…”
“But it’s our pet name for you, remember? Brandy and Andy?”
“It stopped becoming relevant when the latter passed on,” Brandon reminded coldly.
Byron frowned like a four year-old would. “You know, if she were here right know, she’d put you in a sleeper hold for bein’ so callous.”
Brandon held back a chuckle, because he couldn’t disagree. “She would, but that’s beside the point. Those nicknames are practically antiques, Turnip-Head.”
Just then, Brandon grabbed Byron by the hair and dragged him over to the hole that was made earlier by the latter.
“Owww!” Byron howled, obviously sensitive about his hair despite being a rather hardy man in other areas. “Yeah, speakin’ of antique nicknames…!”
Unable to resist a sardonic smile, Brandon held Byron over the hole. “Still a whiner as always, it seems. Well, stop your complaining and rent that boat for me. I’ll meet back up with you at your Gym after I’ve completed my own tasks. Try not to get sidetracked, Byron…” With that, he released Byron, thereby dropping him into the hole several feet below. Brandon was surprised to hear Byron cry out for as long as he did until he finally hit the bottom, at which he winced when Byron screeched.
“You freakin’ jerk, Brandon!!” Byron shouted from the bottom. “I think I cracked my tailbone! Thanks a lot!!”
Brandon couldn’t hold back his laughing now. He called back at Byron from above, “If you want to keep doing this with myself and Palmer after we’re retired and you’re already breaking your bones at this age, you may want to rethink that promise!”
“I’ll get you back for this, Brandon!”
Brandon just smirked to himself and walked off, now satisfied with his work. “Hit me with your best shot.”
“What?! What did you say?!”
Again, Brandon laughed as he approached the infirmary where Paul was supposedly held. In spite of the stress he was going through in order to capture Regigigas and the painful, depressing reminders of his family life, Byron still managed to lift his spirits, even inadvertently.
It had taken a while, since not everyone was accustomed to waking up so early in the morning at the exact same time, but on the call of urgent business, every Frontier Brain in Kanto was quick to engage in a multiple-party video conference as soon as Scott had received Brandon’s notice from his assistant, Samuel (who had still been in Cerulean City at the time), whom received it from Professor Oak, the last one who saw Brandon in person and booked his trip to Sinnoh late last night.
There were often multi-party video conferences amongst all Frontier Brains and Scott with the Frontier Brains in a circle in certain positions on the monitor with Scott in the center and guests in smaller frames under his. As Noland, Greta, Tucker, Spenser, Lucy, and Anabel logged on, all were more than a little surprised at first to see Brandon absent from his spot on the screen. Since he naturally woke up at early hours, he was usually the first one seen in the conference. Before Scott and Samuel had logged on, the other Frontier Brains stared up at the blank box on the screen that Brandon normally filled.
After a period of awkward silence, Greta broke the ice. “It’s a little weird not being nagged about being ‘so late’ to the conference for once…”
“It could be a coincidence,” Noland suggested innocently. “Maybe he went out digging early and found something interesting. He’s been babbling about something recently; that’s for sure…”
“Another one of those ‘Regi’ things, if I recall right,” Spenser said. “Every time the man catches one, it seems a new one always pops up and he has to catch it… always wanting to catch the Pokémon with a name that bears a similarity to his son’s.”
Lucy nodded. “That’s rather sweet, actually…”
Anabel, however, was a little more skeptical. “I can’t help but feel that something is wrong, still. I’m sure Scott will set us straight when he comes on, but… this is no small ordeal.”
“Duh, we’re in a conference,” Tucker remarked, which only made Anabel roll her eyes at the fellow Frontier Brain making light of her ominous premonitions. “And speaking of late, Scott’d better get his butt in here already. I’m wasting precious beauty sleep on baseless speculation!”
As if on cue, Scott appeared in position on the video conference screen. Samuel followed shortly after, but was strangely placed in Brandon’s usual position on the screen, eliciting many surprised looks from the rest of the Frontier Brains. They knew him, but usually he was merely a guest. Being put in Brandon’s position meant Anabel was right: something was wrong.
“Sorry for the delay, folks,” Scott apologized. “Needed to give Samuel instructions on how to get into the conference. I’m sure you’ve all noticed by now that Brandon’s not here.”
“Did something happen to him?” Lucy asked. “Is he alright?”
To that, Samuel, who was constantly in a rather humbled and slightly nervous state due to being in such direct presence of high authority, nodded. “P-Pyramid King Brandon is alive and well. I can attest to that. Th-that is most certainly not the issue.”
“Then what is?” Tucker asked impatiently. “Why have we all been called in so early?”
“The issue is that Brandon has left the Kanto region as of last night in pursuit of a Pokémon named Regigigas,” Scott informed. “He dropped by Cerulean City yesterday and met a kid who had ties with Professor Oak. By nightfall, he met the Professor and the two apparently located a book on this Pokémon that can only be found in the Sinnoh region, where, as you all know, Brandon originates from.”
Noland still couldn’t see the issue at hand. “It was a library, right? Why couldn’t he just order it or… wait a bit if someone already checked it out?”
“The truth is, Brandon isn’t a very trusting person,” Samuel regretfully informed. “And when it’s the only known book in the world on Regigigas… and, well… you know how long he’s been searching for it, he’s desperate to get the information of the person who checked that book out. He wanted to get to it so quickly that he completely forgot about me and the Battle Pyramid.”
“Actually, he didn’t want to take the risk of losing the Pyramid at sea,” Scott corrected. “And I have a feeling he didn’t want to wait until morning to debate about this little move in a committee, so he went ahead and did things his own way.”
Greta frowned and pounded her fist against her desk. “Where does he get off thinking he can just… do that without asking permission?! He has a job to do as a Frontier Brain! We all do!”
“In spite of his actions, Professor Oak’s put in a good word for him,” Samuel mentioned. “He’s promised to return and he won’t do so empty-handed. It’s not just for his own gain, but for Professor Oak’s and the Battle Frontier’s.”
“There’s that and Brandon has tenure,” Scott added. “Can’t really punish the guy on a level comparable to his actions. And still, his heart’s in the right place… he just has to make sure he follows up on the promise and comes back with this Regigigas.”
“So what are we supposed to do in the meantime for trainers who’ve earned six Symbols?” Anabel asked worriedly. “We can’t honestly ask them to go all the way to Sinnoh, especially since none of us know where he is exactly now. Brandon won’t be in the mood to battle any of them either, I imagine…”
Scott nodded. “You’re right, Anabel; he probably won’t. So to spare the trainers the time and frustration, we’ll redirect them to the new Battle Frontier facility instead. It’ll be much less of a fuss to deal with and it’s a smaller Frontier overall, so you can assure the trainers that for as long as Brandon might be gone, they might be almost done with the new one by the time Brandon’s ready to take on new trainers.”
“We’re all still active, I presume?” said Spenser.
“Yes, all of you will continue about your duties as usual unless you are to come across a trainer with five Symbols. I know it’s usually Anabel who faces challengers before Brandon, but there are exceptions, so all of you must be wary and inform trainers, should they earn their sixth Symbol from you, that they will be unable to earn their seventh until Brandon returns to Kanto,” Scott reported. “I can handle the ones who’ve already earned six and are looking for Brandon right now.”
Anabel covered her mouth to muffle a gasp. “Oh no!” She said in despair. “Since the Pyramid landed in Cerulean City last… Samuel, they’ll be heading your way…”
“Oh man,” Samuel groaned. “I’m just an assistant and referee. I don’t think I’m cut out to ward away a bunch of anxious and angry trainers…”
“No need to sweat it,” Scott assured. “You won’t be sticking around in Kanto either, Samuel. I’d like you to follow Brandon to Sinnoh in the Battle Pyramid and check up on him for us.”
There was a moment of silence before Brandon’s nervous assistant gawked at the suggestion. “Y-you want me to go to Sinnoh as well…?!”
“Why not? Might as well not have the Battle Pyramid sit around Kanto under false pretenses,” Scott reasoned. “Outside of that, I’ve heard that the weather in Sinnoh’s gotten a bit unpredictable and dangerous lately. Anyone else heard about that?”
“I have,” Anabel said. “And looking from that perspective, it may be best for Brandon’s safety to have the Battle Pyramid on hand if he’s going to scale the entire Sinnoh region for Regigigas. Home region or not, if the eco-system is behaving abnormally, he could easily be in danger.”
Lucy nodded. “Especially if he’s aiming for the northern regions. The conditions are especially harsh there in Sinnoh… very few people can survive it in normal circumstances. It would at least provide him shelter.”
“So it’s settled, then,” Scott decided. “You all know what to do if you’re the Frontier Brain giving out a sixth Symbol. I’ll handle the ones who already have six, and Samuel’s going to Sinnoh to monitor Brandon’s progress for us, as well as keep him safe from the elements.”
Samuel still looked apprehensive. “Are you sure this thing is made to fly such a long distance across the sea? Brandon’s never flown it that way before… if it gives out, it’s going to sink like a rock and I’ll be a sitting duck in the middle of the sea…”
To that, Scott only smiled. “You’re just not aware of the Battle Pyramid’s full capabilities, Samuel. Trust me; fly it like you always do, just across the sea to Sinnoh rather than across Kanto. If you have any problems, you’ll know how to contact me, but I don’t think you’ll have any.”
“You look awfully sure of yourself…” Samuel noted, still uncertain of himself, but gulped and eventually conceded with a nod. “I-I’ll do it, though. I am concerned for Brandon’s wellbeing. I thought he was the type who would know better than to go off on his own without telling anyone like this.”
Noland shrugged. “To be fair, he technically did tell us since he left us a notice. But that’s Brandon for you: once he’s got his eye on something the wants, he’ll stop at nothing to get it, even if it means he has to bend the rules a bit to get to it.”
“Since we’re settled, can we end the conference now?” Tucker whined. “I’ve got all this written down. I’ll remember it when I wake up later.”
Scott just sighed. “Alright, alright. Conference dismissed. Go about your duties as usual, everyone. Just don’t forget what I’ve told you. I’ll let you know when I get news of Brandon’s whereabouts.”
“Hopefully it won’t be during the crack of dawn…” Tucker muttered as he signed off. One by one, the rest of the Frontier Brains (more politely) said their farewells and signed off. All that remained was Samuel and Scott.
“So, when are you planning on leaving for Sinnoh? It’ll be a long ride… probably gonna take most of the day to get to the closest point.” Scott asked.
Samuel already seemed to be engaging the Pyramid for a take-off. “Right now, actually. I already had a few kids arriving yesterday wanting a battle while Brandon was away and I promised I’d get back to them today… they’ll be here any minute now, and who knows how many more. It’d be wise for me to get out of Kanto before most of the kids wake up.”
Scott nodded. “Wise choice. You sure you can pull this off? Still looks like you’ve got the chills.”
“A-admittedly, I am a little nervous, but I’m aware this is something I must do for the sake of Brandon,” Samuel explained. “But like you said… if I’m experiencing difficulties, I’ll contact you, right?”
“Right,” Scott affirmed. “Keep me updated, then, and definitely let us know when you’ve found Brandon. And let him know that as long as he follows up on his promise, he has my full support, as well as the rest of the representatives’ of the Battle Frontier.” He then smiled. “Best of luck, man. Hope you find him soon.” And with that, he signed off and the conference ended.
Samuel finalized the flight preparations and the Battle Pyramid began to rise up from the ground just outside of Cerulean City. “Well, finding him will be easier said than done…” Samuel said to himself. “In a region like Sinnoh, that’ll be like finding a needle in a haystack. If I hurry, maybe I can catch him while he’s still in Canalave City…”
The lone assistant steered the pyramid in the direction that would get him to Canalave City the quickest and embarked on his journey, taking the Battle Pyramid with him.
“If it wouldn’t trouble you, woman, I’d like the information on the person who checked out the book containing valuable information about Regigigas last night,” Brandon requested to an unfortunate librarian. By the time he had finished conversing with Byron, he went to the infirmary to check on Paul, only to find that he had already left the vicinity to board a boat that had already left to take him to Veilstone City on a different route entirely. While slightly frustrated, he took comfort in the fact knowing that he and his son were both headed for the same place ultimately, just as soon as Brandon extracted information out of this girl.
The girl, looking horribly frightened, shook her head after a moment of hesitation. “I-I’m sorry, sir, but that information is confidential for safety reasons. You’ll simply have to wait until the book is returned next week…”
Brandon’s routine elicited stares from nearly everyone present in the library. The girl shivered and stepped back, only opening her eyes to remind him, “S-sir, we are in a library… I must ask you keep your voice down…”
To that, Brandon blinked and momentarily looked embarrassed at raising his voice in such a place. He sighed and shook his head. “My apologies, but my name is Brandon. I can do without the ‘sir’s and the like. Are you not aware of the Battle Frontier?”
“Brandon…” The young librarian looked down for a moment and pondered. “I do… and something seemed familiar. Then it hit her. “Ah…! You’re from the Kanto Battle Frontier! Pyramid King Brandon…?!”
Brandon nodded. “So you know my intentions are genuine. The book that was checked out was the only known book in the world with concrete information on Regigigas, which is a Pokémon I have been after for several months. How am I to be certain this person will return the book within a week? That book can’t possibly be one your visitors check out on a regular basis.”
“Actually, you do have a point there,” the librarian said as she scanned for previous check-outs of the book in question. “I wasn’t even aware we had this book until the boy asked for it last ni-.. oops.”
Brandon smirked. “So it was a boy who checked out the book. And it was you who allowed him to take it!”
The librarian sighed, knowing she was caught now. “Okay, yes, I did. The one who checked the book out is a frequent visitor here, so I don’t believe you have reason to worry about him withholding the book beyond its due date. He’s a very courteous young man.”
“A frequent visitor,” Brandon noted. “So he lives here?”
“Not at all,” the librarian said automatically. “He lives in Veilstone Ci- ah…! It’s too early to be interrogated like this! I’m breaking the code of honor!”
It was funny in a sad sort of way, Brandon thought, to fluster the librarian with the simplest of information-gathering techniques. “Veilstone City. A boy who lives in Veilstone City. Well, you know I am a man of honor, woman. I’m not going to harm that boy or anything, and I have an ill son to go see in the same vicinity. You might as well give me his name and physical description and save me the trouble.”
The librarian trembled. “But I…”
Brandon shook his head. “I’m going to find him sooner or later. The only damage you’ll do to yourself is by aggravating me by withholding the rest of the information, because there are other urgent matters I must tend to as soon as possible. The sooner you give me a physical description and a name, the sooner we can get this over with.”
Thankfully for Brandon, this librarian was very young and insecure, especially in the presence of someone like a Frontier Brain. After a pitiful cry, she conceded, though lowered her face to hide her shame. “Th-the boy’s name is Conway. He has dark green hair and glasses… i-is that satisfactory for you… Brandon…?”
He took the details into consideration. “A young man named Conway from Veilstone City, green hair with glasses…” Then he suddenly froze as he remembered something that Byron had told him earlier that morning:
Byron scratched his head uncomfortably. “Uh… funny you should say that, bud… see, I actually fought Paul in a Gym Battle just yesterday.”
That certainly got Brandon’s attention. “You did…?” He then looked stern. “What was the outcome?”
“He had a green-haired little Four-Eyes with him at the time, yeah… so anyway…”
Brandon’s expressions turned grim. Would it have been a simple coincidence that Paul had been accompanied by some other green-haired fellow in glasses? But since when did Paul take on followers in the first place? Something wasn’t adding up. Brandon wondered why he didn’t catch that oddity and inquire about it in the first place.
He certainly had something to ask Byron the second he would return to the Gym to see if his old friend had rented his boat yet.
“That will do fine,” Brandon finally said to the librarian. “I appreciate your help.” He wasted no time leaving the library as soon as possible and headed straight to Byron’s Gym. It all started coming together for him… if Conway was an associate of Paul’s, it would make perfect sense why the Regigigas book was checked out.
It prevented him from getting access to it: just as he feared. He hoped this was still all just a coincidence, however. He’d get some quick answers from Byron soon before receiving his rented boat to cross the rivers of Sinnoh in hot pursuit of Veilstone City, now for more than just one reason.
While Brandon learned the hard way about how the routes of Sinnoh had changed the river paths since he left the region, Conway and Paul were already well on their way to the Valor Lakefront. As Paul slept throughout the morning, Conway decided to go through the Regigigas book for him and write down the important details he found relevant. He had no idea of what Paul’s intentions were yet, but a chunk of their week being out at sea would cut into the time Conway would have with the book before he’d start getting charged with those dreaded late fees.
It was almost evening again when Paul finally woke up, feeling slightly less horrible than before, but still not very good. Conway had taken a nap on his bed, roughly halfway through the Regigigas book with a stack of pages filled with abridged notes from the book itself. Paul couldn’t help but notice that Conway hadn’t as much as touched his own books yet. Regardless, after holding in a cough, he sat up, shoved himself out of bed, and scooted over to Conway’s side to grab the book and the notes.
Paul mainly looked at the notes Conway had taken, preferring his more direct and straightforward definitions and explanations, but did look to the book to see the sketches within it, which Conway’s simply couldn’t compare to. However quiet Paul tried to be, though, Conway could hear the shuffling of his papers and opened an eye to see Paul wide awake and scrutinizing his work.
“Oho… you certainly took your time getting out of bed,” Conway teased. “Have a nice sleep? You pretty much missed the whole day, and it was actually nice out today.”
Paul only grunted at that as he continued to read Conway’s findings. “Yes, I see you’ve been enjoying the outdoors just by seeing all this paperwork, you hypocrite.”
“Aha, true…” Conway couldn’t argue. “I just didn’t expect you to spend the entire day sleeping. I have to have these books sent back within a week or else I’ll get charged late fees. Since we’re spending a chunk of said week on this ship, we have to make the most of our time, so I took the liberty of highlighting the important details of Regigigas for you… well, as far as I’ve read, anyway.”
Just then, Paul looked skeptical. “Actually, I never meant to return this particular book, Conway. I can pay you back for the late fees.”
“I-it’s more than that!” Conway insisted. “You’re seriously never returning that book to Canalave’s library? I never would have agreed to this if those were the terms! It isn’t just the staggering late fees, Paul! It’s my reputation! I’m one of their most faithful customers! What are they going to think of me if I just take one of their books and never return it? It’s not like they can order a replacement! That’s the only known book of its kind in this world! It has to go back eventually!”
“I have my reasons,” Paul said calmly. “Look, if it means that much to you, I’ll just make an account over there. Transfer the book in my name and the heat will be off of you. Will that make you feel better?”
“It most certainly will not!” Conway yelled, flailing. “I’ll have just aided a library criminal! My conscience will never let me live that kind of thing down!”
Paul glared, as his patience already wore thin by now. “Look, I-” He was cut off by another coughing fit. To this, Conway sighed and walked over to Paul’s belongings.
“Here, take your medicine,” Conway said, rolling his eyes. “One dosage twelve hours ago isn’t going to make that nasty cough of yours go away. Remember, you need to be relatively healthy by the time you see your brother.”
Conway gave Paul his cough syrup, which the latter took hesitantly. The thick, nasty liquid practically tasted like poison to him when he took it earlier that morning. His companion watched with amusement to see the medicine choked down in such a manner in desperation to not cause a huge scene.
“Taking it straight, Paul? You don’t need to prove your ‘toughness’ to me,” Conway assured as he stood up again. “I knew that much already the first time we met. I’m going to get a soda. Let me get you something to wash that down and you can explain yourself about why you don’t want to return the book, alright?”
It didn’t take long for Paul to accept the offer. “L-Lemonade,” he requested, trying his best not to regurgitate the medicine. “M-make it fast…”
Thankfully for Paul, it didn’t take Conway long to come back with the beverages – and he even brought in enough to last the two the rest of the night. After Paul was able to wash away the horrid flavor of medicine in his mouth, he finally (though reluctantly) filled Conway in on his family situation starting with the letter he received from his father. And surprisingly, Paul managed to vent out some frustrations and feelings of guilt he’d held in for a while after telling Conway the entire situation and why he did not want the book returned to the library and into the potential clutches of his father.
“… you said Reggie had a… ‘mental meltdown’, right…?” Paul asked Conway with great reluctance.
“That’s what Maylene told me,” Conway answered. “Either way, it sounds like he’s behaving abnormally and she didn’t tell me either way, but I somehow doubt it was directly related to him being struck by lightning. I’m guessing you’ve come to the same conclusion?”
Paul closed his eyes and nodded. “A lot of that depends on how he’s acting right now… Reggie acting abnormally could mean a lot of things. But if he were exhibiting traits opposite of his own during the training… hypothetically, acting strict, cold, cruel, ruthless…”
“Basically, he’d be acting like you and Brandon,” Conway pointed out.
That put off Paul for a moment, and he gave Conway a nasty glare before continuing. “Anyway… my point is, if he were acting like that, then yes, this might partially be my fault… and partially the old man’s as well for putting such an unreasonable time limit on him. My threat could have sent him over the edge… I only figure that much because Reggie’s the only one of the three of us who still cares about keeping the family together.”
“He really doesn’t sound like the big doofus you make him out to be,” Conway couldn’t help but notice. “It’s pretty selfless of him to be going out of his way to keep the three of you as a semi-functioning family. Kind of weird that he acts so different from you and Brandon, but…”
“If I had to guess, Reggie probably takes after our mother,” Paul assumed half-heartedly. “I can’t say for certain; I was too young to really know her before she passed on. But I’m pretty sure the old man shuns Reggie for emulating her. I always wondered if breeding was something Reggie really wanted to do, considering how far he’d come as a trainer before just… giving up after losing to the old man. I never could forgive him for that. That’s why I was so insistent that he should win against him this next time around… I thought that maybe…”
Conway frowned. “That threatening him would inspire him to work harder and make him strong enough to defeat your dad? Plausible theory, but it looks like Reggie might be a sensitive type. You’re going to have to leave your personality at the door when we see him at the hospital.”
“That goes without saying,” Paul mumbled. “But you understand why that book can’t go back to the library now, right? I got this book to buy Reggie some extra time to train, and I may have just set him way back now. For as long as the old man’s been trying to find Regigigas, eventually, he’s going to get sick of looking around in Kanto and he’ll start snooping around in other regions to find information. If he finds this book, it’s over for Reggie. He’s nowhere near ready to fight yet, especially after what’s happened now.”
“Who would’ve thought that you of all people could get someone in an emotional bind like this?” Conway grumbled, looking conflicted. “Our best route might actually be… to let your brother decide, though. This is his fate we’re playing around with here.”
“What, are you kidding?” Paul asked, looking at Conway as if he were crazy. “You said he’s mentally unstable. Regardless of how old he is, he can’t make decisions for himself right now until the doctors find out how to fix him.”
“Or we find out how to fix him,” Conway amended. “Maylene wouldn’t have called for you if she didn’t think she needed you. And since the three of you are about the loosest definition of a family there is, that’s saying a lot, Paul. I think your presence will make a big difference, and he’ll hopefully start acting a bit more like his old self again…” He cleared his throat purposely. “You might want to consider taking back that threat you threw at him the day he sent you that letter, hint-hint?”
Paul looked up at the ceiling and groaned. “I have a feeling I’m going to regret the fact that I told you all of this one day. But yes, I obviously have that in mind. I’ll do whatever’s necessary to get Reggie back into his right state of mind. He’s got more to lose than I do at this point.”
“Then are we agreed?” Conway asked, extending a hand to Paul. “We’ll leave the fate of the book up to Reggie?”
Paul stared at Conway’s hand for a few moments before shaking in an uncertain agreement. “Alright… I’ll leave it in his hands when we restore him back to his true self.”
Conway nodded and took the Regigigas book back from Paul. “In the meantime, let’s try and finish this thing off and absorb as much as we can before its fate is decided. Really, consider yourself lucky, Paul…”
After taking a sip of his lemonade, Paul whipped around to Conway and looked to him with a strange gesture. “Lucky? Why did you just say that…?”
“All I know is… I wouldn’t mind having an older sibling that held as much love and respect for their family as yours does.”
There were a number of questions Paul had for that statement, but wisely decided not to use any of them and went back to consuming his lemonade.
The next three days differed depending on the point of view. Brandon was confronted by several dead ends at the rivers where there previously weren’t any as he went through the rivers of Sinnoh to Canalave City, which greatly frustrated him, until he remembered he had a collection of Regi giants that could easily carry the boat to the next continuing river. He was more than a little angry when Byron admitted to him that he completely forgot the name of the green-haired, bespectacled companion of Paul’s because he was so attached to the name of “Four-Eyes” and only actually heard his name one single time – and that was before the mind-numbing battle – so Brandon still wasn’t sure if “Conway” was the one traveling with Paul or not. Still, he was determined to make it to Veilstone City before his youngest son, no matter what newfangled obstacle came in his way.
Paul and Conway, on the other hand, were almost entirely consumed in their reading during their trip at sea and on the bus ride. In ample time, they plowed through the Regigigas book and written out all of the relevant notes and details into Conway’s notebook for safe-keeping regardless of what would happen to the actual book. And while the progress was still slow, Paul was progressively getting better, dropping a degree or two in temperature each day until he was finally at 98.6 degrees after Conway measured his temperature at the Valor Lakefront. His coughing fits had mostly vanished, he was able to walk on his own without stumbling or staggering, and his throat was no longer sore. Conway had found it very peculiar of Paul to get himself nearly killed over a cold and then remain nearly incapacitated for four days, but by the time they finally reached Veilstone City, it seemed that Conway fulfilled his promise to Maylene after all and ensured that Paul would return to his hometown alive and healthy for the mental wellbeing of his brother.
The bus was kind enough to drop the boys right in front of the hospital, where they both looked up at the ominous building standing before them.
“Well, it was nice and sunny at Lake Valor, but it’s dreary as always over here, I see,” Conway observed. “Doesn’t really aid the imagery very well right now, does it?”
That remark elicited a curious stare from Paul. “What are you talking about?”
Conway innocently smiled to Paul and shrugged. “Just saying… it’s another dreary day in Veilstone City! And now we’re faced with this monster of a hospital with your mentally-unstable brother.”
“Thanks for reminding me,” Paul grumbled. “Let’s just get this over with.”
They entered the facility and immediately approached the front desk, where a Nurse Joy seemed to be writing something down. After Paul cleared his throat to get her attention, she hopped up a moment in surprise to see she had visitors.
“Oh…! My apologies; I didn’t see you,” she said. “Can I help you gentlemen?”
Paul frowned, immediately labeling her a flake of a receptionist and unworthy of her position. Regardless, he remained civil. “I’m here to see my brother, Reggie. He’s being cared for by the Gym Leader right now.”
Conway nodded. “And I’m his escort, Conway.”
“Oh, yes!” Nurse Joy said with a gasp. “You’re Paul… I should have recognized you at first. Oh, of course. Let me buzz in Maylene so she can escort you to where your brother is, alright? Please take a seat here in the lobby; this shouldn’t take long.”
As Nurse Joy went about her duties, the boys took a seat and sat with nothing but an uncomfortable silence between them until a young lady slightly older than them with short pink hair and athletic gear came from the hallway, looking elated to see Paul and Conway just down the opening.
“You made it!” She cried out in relief as she ran over to them. Slightly confused by her dramatic nature, the boys stood up to greet her. “Oh goodness, I’m so glad! I know it couldn’t be helped, but those four days felt like an eternity for me…”
Paul raised an eyebrow. “It’s been that bad?”
Maylene looked away, seeming distant. “It’s really something you should see for yourself, Paul. I can’t… possibly describe it well enough to do it justice. But we had no choice. Since he was so unstable and volatile, we had to keep him sedated until you arrived. I had the nurses remove the IV from him after I got the call, though, so he’ll be coming to shortly… I hope you can get him to calm down.”
The boys began to follow Maylene the way she came on the way to Reggie’s room. Maylene continue to explain the situation along the way.
“I’m really sorry I interrupted your journey for this, Paul,” Maylene apologized. “I probably wouldn’t have called if I knew there wasn’t anything you could do to help… still, I’m glad to see that you don’t look sick at all anymore.”
Paul looked taken aback that Maylene, the Gym Leader he made a fool out of in the past and completely broken the spirit of, was actually apologizing to him over something and expressing delight over him being healthy instead of ill (which after how he treated her, he assumed she thought he would’ve well deserved it), but simply shrugged it off. “No, it’s probably for the best that you called. It isn’t as if the League competition is coming anytime soon, and my brother’s notorious for being self-sacrificial when he doesn’t need to be.”
“I’m afraid that Reggie is gone right now,” Maylene forewarned. “So you’d better brace yourself.”
“How exactly am I supposed to get him back to normal again?” Paul asked, somewhat confused. “I’ve never actually witnessed Reggie act like anything outside of his ordinary, usual self.”
Maylene started to look fearful as she stopped at a door; the door that led to Reggie’s room. “Paul, I can’t tell you how. I just know I haven’t been able to do a thing to help him, and neither have his Pokémon… all of which have been injured as a result of the incident.”
“What, did they all get hit by lightning or something?” Conway asked. “Was it staccato lightning?”
“No, none of them were injured by the lightning,” Maylene clarified, shaking her head and motioned for the other two to lower their voices as they entered the room. “And Reggie’s behavior has nothing to do with the lightning, either. The Nurse thinks Reggie’s held in so much repressed stress over the years that… he just finally snapped. She’s already diagnosed him with borderline personality disorder, and he could have other things, too…”
Paul stopped short as soon as she said that. “They diagnosed by brother with a mental disorder?”
Reluctantly, Maylene nodded. “There could be other genuine things wrong with him, too, Paul. You didn’t let me finish. He had done some terrible things before he was struck by lightning. And when I mean terrible, I mean something along the lines of what you would do.”
“Along what Paul would do?” Conway echoed. “But if Reggie’s Pokémon weren’t injured by lightning, then you’re saying…” He was beginning to understand the severity of Reggie’s personality shift now.
Maylene lowered her head. “The wounds were all checked out. Aside from Infernape, Reggie’s Pokémon were ‘training’ against each other much more roughly than they normally should be. They’ve gotten a lot better over the past four days, but when they were brought in, they were all covered in bandages.” She looked up for a moment to glare at Paul. “See? That’s something along the lines of what you would do, isn’t it?”
Paul was briefly shocked to be called out like that, but closed his eyes and looked away. “How I train my Pokémon is none of your business, Maylene. Really, as pathetic a Gym Leader you are, I wouldn’t go around criticizing how other trainers raise their Pokémon.”
As Maylene glared, Conway grabbed Paul by the arm and took him aside, angrily whispering to him.
“Didn’t we agree that we’d ‘leave your personality at the door’?!” Conway reminded.
“That was for Reggie’s case,” Paul reminded. “We never agreed to anything about Maylene. And anyway, it’s only the truth. I’d know because I fought her not that long ago.”
Conway just smacked the side of his own head in frustration. “Oy vey, Paul. I guess you weren’t lying when you said you didn’t remember your mom. Only guys without mothers would go out of their way to treat women so disrespectfully!”
Maylene cleared her throat, getting the boys’ attention. “Ahem, boys? I’m standing right here. And I can still hear everything you’re saying.” She then smiled a little. “I appreciate your attempts to be courteous for Paul, Conway, but you’d have better luck carrying on a conversation with a brick wall.”
“Ah… sorry, Maylene,” Conway apologized, looking flustered. “He certainly has been a handful since I ran into him on the ship to Canalave City.”
“Well, don’t worry about his rudeness for my sake,” Maylene assured. “Paul may think he’d broken my fighting spirit after he beat me, but if that were the truth, I wouldn’t still be a Gym Leader right now. I owe it to Reggie and the others who revitalized my spirit, and life has been wonderful for me ever since. There’s nothing Paul could say to bring me down now; not even if be beat me again.”
Paul rolled his eyes. “Well, how wonderful for you. But I still see that you’re bitter.”
Maylene adamantly shook her head. “I’m not sore about the loss, Paul; I’m being serious when it comes to the details of Reggie’s incident. I haven’t even mentioned the most telling detail about the change in his attitude… well, the change that I hadn’t witnessed myself yet, anyway.”
“One you hadn’t witnessed yourself?” Conway wondered. “Oh, you mean Infernape’s case?”
“That’s right,” she affirmed. “While Reggie’s Pokémon had taken a significant beating in all-out brawling each other… Infernape’s case was different. Infernape’s opponent was Reggie himself… and according to Infernape, all of this was Reggie’s idea.”
That was enough to shut Paul up for a moment before he could gather his thoughts. “Wait… wait a second. You’re saying my brother organized what was essentially a bloodfest and called that training, and beat up his own Starter all before getting struck by lightning?”
By this point, they finally reached the bed where Reggie had been for four days. Paul tried his best to wall up any emotions that tried to escape from his face when he saw his brother, still in bandages and looking like a wreck, on the hospital bed.
“See for yourself,” Maylene said, pointing to Reggie’s hand, which was still completely wound up and bandaged. “He pretty much shattered his hand right there. When they analyzed it, the marks indicated that the injury was self-inflicted. He must have punched a rock on accident while trying to hit Infernape. And Infernape… Infernape ended up getting injured more severely than any of the others. But by this point, they’re all recovering well… even Reggie… right hand aside; he’s physically doing well considering what happened to him.”
“And that’s nothing short of amazing,” Conway remarked. “It took Paul almost the entire trip here just to recover from a cold. Reggie recovering from a lightning strike in a shorter period of time… he was either born lucky or he’s genetically resistant to instant death or something.” He couldn’t help but smirk at Paul. “Guess that means you got the short stick of the gene pool. Might want to stay indoors during lightning storms from now on.”
Paul replied by shoving Conway aside to sit at a chair next to Reggie to get a closer look at him. His brother currently looked peaceful, as the anesthesia was still in the process of wearing off; he would be regaining consciousness soon enough.
“When we brought Reggie here, he woke up and claimed that he was talking to his mother,” Maylene informed, sitting at a chair on the other side of the bed. Though Conway was displeased with the shove he just received, he took a seat next to Paul. “I assumed he was having a near-death experience and reliving past moments of his life, but he swore to me that he was… ‘presently’ talking to his mother, who urged him to not give in to dying and to move on, saying that the family needed him and whatnot…”
Paul looked up to Maylene, giving her an 'are you serious?' gesture, to which she sadly nodded. He then shook his head.
“It’s just near-death psycho-babble; what can you expect? He was hit by lightning,” Paul said. “Of course he’s going to be imagining deranged things like that.”
“That’s not the end of it, I’m afraid,” Maylene said regretfully. “And this part I’m sure is not psycho-babble. Reggie practically cried when he realized that the whole… talking-to-his-mother thing was just a dream. I tried to calm him down, telling him how happy we all were that he made it out alive and well… and that’s when he angrily snapped at me. He said that wasn’t the case. That not everyone was happy to see him alive and well… namely you and Brandon.”
Paul’s eyes snapped wide open when Maylene said that. Conway gasped at the same time, looking to Paul.
Maylene’s saddened expressions worsened as she witnessed the reactions. “That’s right… Reggie outright told me that he doesn’t believe either of you care about him anymore. He was highly upset that neither of you were here, and… it sounds like he really does believe that neither of you really love him because he feels like he’s the weakest link of the family. That’s when he started breaking anything he could find, and that necessitated the nurse to knock him out until I could get you to come here.” She took in a deep breath, feeling the pain all of them were going through at this time. “That’s why I think you’re the only one who can bring Reggie back to his usual, loving self, Paul. I don’t know how, but he wants you here with him. I really wish I knew how to get your dad in here too, but I can only do so much…”
After a moment of silence, Paul’s shoulders slumped. The expositional onslaught hurt more than he thought it would have. “This… this really is all my fault…” He said quietly.
Seeing Paul devastated like this made Maylene not want to ask Paul directly. Instead, she looked to Conway. “What’s he talking about…?”
Conway sighed. “We talked about this on the way to Lake Valor while we speculated what was actually wrong with Reggie since you weren’t too specific about it over the phone. Paul brought up the fact that Brandon sent them both a letter…”
“… Challenging them both to a battle,” Maylene finished. “I know that much already. I was going to look over Reggie’s place while he trained. Go on.”
“Ah, right, sorry,” Conway muttered, taking off his glasses tiredly and wiping the lenses as he continued on. “So Paul was in Floaroma Town at the time Reggie sent him a copy of that letter. He told me that he actually threatened Reggie this time around that if he failed to defeat Brandon, he’d see to it that he’d have Reggie disowned from the family. Furthermore, Paul didn’t want to receive any more calls from him unless Reggie had a Brave Symbol in his hand. So, Reggie was facing some rather weighted and risky odds that logically fit this little puzzle as to why he ‘snapped’, as you call it.”
Hearing this only made Maylene angry. She glared and looked straight at Paul, not caring that he was still reeling from the guilt. “Paul! How could you?!”
“I’m going to apologize and take it back,” Paul said stiffly, but could not bring himself to look at anyone but his brother just yet. “If I’d known it was going to end up like this, I never would’ve said that to him.”
“You never should’ve said it to him at all!!” Maylene argued. “That’s a horrible thing to say to someone who spent the majority of his childhood raising you in his mother’s place!”
Conway shook his head, putting his glasses back on. “Really, it’s a horrible thing to say to any relative. But what matters now is that Paul’s learned his lesson, and hopefully the apology’s good enough to get the old Reggie back, right?”
After considering that, Maylene calmed down and sighed. “You’re right… at least, I hope it’s enough. He’s brought up Brandon, though. I’m not sure if Paul alone can completely heal him. Even if Paul takes back what he said, Reggie’s still under a pressure-building time limit.”
“Well, Brandon is an element none of us have any control over. Nobody can contact him, et cetera. We don’t have the means to go all over Kanto hunting for him, so that’s something Reggie’s just going to have to… come to accept, wrong as it may be,” Conway reasoned.
“Huh…? Accept what…?”
A new voice entered the conversation, and all parties looked to the source: Reggie had finally woken up. He was still drowsy, but otherwise seemed fairly normal, but a little unaware of his surroundings.
“Reggie, you’re awake!” Maylene cried graciously.
Reggie smiled to Maylene, though his eyes remained halfway-closed. “Hey, Maylene… what’re you doing here?”
The smile on Maylene faded. “Reggie… do you remember where you are…? And what happened?”
Reggie scanned his surroundings in front of him. “Hospital…” He murmured. He took a moment to register what he could remember, then yelped in pain when he lifted his right arm to extend his fingers, only to find that he couldn’t and it hurt immensely when he tried to do so. With that jolt of pain, things were coming back to him more quickly now. The smile on Reggie’s face went away as well.
“I was struck by lightning… I remember now,” Reggie said quietly. “Infernape was backed up against a tree. I could feel it coming, and I knew what was going to happen… so I jumped and pushed Infernape out of the way-…” He paused. “Is Infernape…?!”
“Infernape’s fine,” Maylene assured. “And you look a lot better now than you did when you woke up last time.”
“Last time?” Reggie inquired. “What are you talking about?”
Maylene looked to the side. “The lightning-strike incident was four days ago, Reggie. You were awake briefly the first day, then knocked out for the rest.”
“… oh…” Reggie then looked depressed. “Well… even if Infernape did make it out alright, that doesn’t excuse what I did… and I suppose the doctors have had plenty of time to figure out what that was, right?”
Maylene nodded. “It wasn’t right, but it isn’t entirely your fault, Reggie. Either way, we all forgive you.”
Reggie blinked, looking confused. “What do you mean by ‘you all’…?”
“Try looking the other way, genius.”
Reggie looked around to see his younger brother trying his best to keep up his usual stance in spite of his depression and guilt over the situation. With just as much effort, Paul fought hard to keep the smile off his face when Reggie finally noticed him, but there were some feats even too difficult for Paul to perform. He gave his big brother a little wave from where he sat. “Hi, Reggie…”
“Paul…” Reggie was nearly speechless. He almost thought he was seeing things, but ended that thought when his brother (reluctantly) initiated a hug. With his one good arm, Reggie clung on tightly to him. “Paul, how did you…?!”
“Maylene let me know,” Paul responded, cutting Reggie off. “I had just finished earning my Mine Badge at the time, so… I only just now got here. I’m sorry you had to go this long with just Maylene for company.”
Maylene rolled her eyes, but couldn’t help but smile at the scene. Conway too found this endearing, but felt the need to clear things up for Reggie’s sake.
“Actually, Reggie, he would’ve gotten here sooner if he hadn’t gotten sick right after the Gym Battle,” he mentioned. “I advised him numerous times to wait it out, but he simply pushed himself too far. Either way, yes, we were quite far away at the time of the incident, so it was going to take us a few days to get here either way. But fret not; I took good care of your brother for you and he appears to be in excellent health.”
Reggie looked closely to his brother and smiled in approval. “Looks like it, anyway!” Then he paused for a moment and looked to Conway while Paul moved away from his brother to scowl at his companion. “Wait a minute, who are you? You… kind of look familiar.”
Conway smirked. “Like any good big brother, I imagine you watched the Tag Battle tournament that was televised in Hearthome City a while ago. I battled against your brother in the finals.”
“And you lost,” Paul reminded him.
“Yes, yes, I lost, you won, and didn’t even want the prize either as I recall,” Conway muttered as he resumed his friendly gesture towards the friendlier brother and extended a hand towards him. “Name’s Conway.”
Reggie nodded and shook Conway’s hand. “Yeah, I definitely remember you now. You had the Heracross. You had some pretty neat strategies, as I recall. I’ve already met your partner from that competition, Dawn, as well.”
Maylene’s smile widened as she looked to Conway. “So we were talking about the same person that day! Dawn helped me regain my fighting spirit!”
Again, Reggie was confused. “What…?”
Simultaneously, Maylene and Conway sung out, “No need to worry…!” That was the breaking point for Paul.
“Can we stop talking about the stupid girl for one second?!” Paul cried out. “This is a serious issue here and you’re all pretending it isn’t there!”
“O-oops, got caught up in the moment,” Maylene mumbled as she returned to her seat. “Sorry.”
“Excuse me, mister smiley-face-who-jumps-up-and-hugs-his-brother. You’re lucky I don’t have a camera, or that would’ve been awesome blackmail to use against you to aid, say, Ash,” Conway muttered as he returned to his seat.
Reggie looked to his broken right hand again, thinking back to what he did four days ago. What he’d done in the hospital hadn’t even come to mind, or perhaps even slipped his mind completely. “It’s true that this is serious… I let things get too far. I let the pressure consume me to the point where I was willing to throw away all of my morals… and do anything to win.” He looked to Paul. “You were right all along. I don’t fit in this family.”
Paul stared at him, glaring harshly, before telling him in a low voice, “That is… without a doubt, Reggie, the stupidest thing that’s ever come out of your mouth. Don’t you dare ever say that again.”
Of course, Reggie remembered their last video conversation and was therefore confused. “But you said…”
“What I said was wrong,” Paul assured. “I never should have threatened you the way I did, because this is exactly where it ended up putting you: in a hospital. I almost lost you, and if I had known that ahead of time, I never would have said any of that, so…” Paul took a deep breath and sighed before finishing his apology. “I’m officially retracting all the threats I made in regards to the challenges the old man made out to us. You’re not the weak link in our family, and you can bug me on the phone whenever you want; I don’t care.”
Reggie smiled, but somehow couldn’t believe it. “I feel like you’re letting me off too easily…”
“Letting you off too easy would be getting you out of the old man’s challenge completely,” Paul corrected. “You’re nowhere near ready for it and this is going to set you back. Thankfully for you, Conway and I pulled some strings to buy you all the extra time you need.”
Maylene blinked. “What are you talking about? What did you guys do?”
Paul gestured towards his traveling partner. “Show them, Conway.”
“With pleasure!” Conway reached down into his bag and pulled out none other than Legends of Sinnoh – the God among the Regi Trio for Reggie and Maylene to see. “Behold, my friends: the only book on Regigigas in Canalave City’s library, in Sinnoh, and in the entire world… not to mention the only copy.”
Maylene and Reggie gasped simultaneously, speechless initially.
Paul smirked. “Yeah, I thought you might like that.”
While Maylene continued gaping, Reggie suddenly regarded the situation seriously. “So you did this on purpose… you knew I’d have to battle once dad found Regigigas, so you’re trying to give me as much time as possible to train by taking the only book that has information on Regigigas’ whereabouts and keeping it out of dad’s hands.”
The smirk faded away from Paul’s face. “You see a problem with this?”
“Well… dad’s letter said to report all information on Regigigas straight to him if we find any, remember?” Reggie reminded him. “Withholding the information would be dishonest.”
Now Paul was frowning. “So after all I did to ensure that you could have time to battle the old man in a relatively fair fight, you want to throw all of that away to abide by his clearly lop-sided and unfair rules and lose again?”
“That’s not what I meant!” Reggie insisted, looking uneasy. “I appreciate this, Paul; really, I do, but…”
“But you don’t accept it?” Paul assumed.
Reggie wasn’t quite sure yet, actually. “Well, don’t make it so black and white. I mean, I haven’t even gotten out of the hospital yet, and…”
“It’s a fairly easy question to answer, Reggie!” Paul said, demanding in tone. “Now answer it.”
Before he could, Maylene interfered. “I think what Reggie’s trying to say is that he’s not sure how he feels about how he’s going to go about his training from here on out yet,” she tried to reason. “Give him some time. Let him recover first.”
“Yeah, about that…” Conway said with a tone of lingering. “I checked out that book and it’s due in three days. Paul and I agreed to leave the fate of the book up to Reggie before we got here. I really don’t want to be charged late fees, so after the three days, I’m shipping it back to the library.”
“We have read through the book already, however,” Paul noted. “Even it can’t seem to pinpoint a specific location, but it strongly hints that Regigigas is located somewhere around the outskirts of Snowpoint City.”
“Here?!” Maylene exclaimed. “In Sinnoh?!”
“That’ll certainly make it difficult for dad to get Regigigas, then,” Reggie mused. “He’s stuck all the way over on the Kanto region. Being a Frontier Brain is a pretty big deal, so I don’t think he can really leave Kanto unless it’s a big deal… and I’m not sure if they’ll let him leave for Regigigas. I mean, he didn’t need to leave Kanto for the other three, as I recall.”
“Exactly,” said Paul. “So really, why torture the old man by even dangling it over his head? I’ll check out the situation myself since I’m heading up to Snowpoint City anyway for my next Gym Battle, but Reggie… I implore you not to give the old man the book if you know what’s good for you.”
Conway looked slightly guilty. “I hate to pressure you, really, but for Paul, this is an awfully nice gesture, don’t you think?”
Reggie looked to the book and sighed. He wanted to do the right thing, but… he really wanted to win and bring his family back together, too. And he wasn’t a fool; he knew it would hardly be fair going up against a man who would have three – make that four Legendary Pokémon on his team while he would have none.
He looked to Maylene, then Conway, and then a very expectant Paul. With a conceding sigh, Reggie hung his head down. “Alright, I won’t give the book to dad. Thank you, Paul… you just took a great deal of weight off my shoulders.”
“Well, that doesn’t give you an excuse to be lazy,” Paul reminded him. “You’re still going to have to work yourself to death almost every day just to have a shred of hope of ever getting that Brave Symbol; you’re that out of practice. Your old methods aren’t going to cut it this time; I hope you know that.”
“Of course I know that,” Reggie grumbled, frowning. “Why else would I end up here? My usual training regimen doesn’t land me in a hospital. I just panicked and lost all sense of who I really was for a moment there… I’m going to have to do a bit of soul-searching to find out what the right way to train is.”
Paul was about to open his mouth, but Reggie was quick to shut it by interrupting him. “And you of all people do not need to be giving me suggestions on how to train, Paul. If I recall correctly, you haven’t beaten him yet, either.”
“Fine, I’ve done more than enough for you anyway,” Paul said snidely, looking away.
Suddenly, Conway snapped his fingers, surprising everyone. “A-ha! I got it!”
“Got what…?” Reggie asked quietly.
The lenses of Conway’s glasses lit up as he grinned and looked directly at Maylene, which made her fearful for a moment. “The perfect plan; that’s what I got. I became inspired after refereeing Paul’s match with Byron. See, I’m kind of like a Pokémon Freelancer. I like to dabble in a bit of everything, but I spend more time reading up and studying the material than actually practicing it. But I’ve decided now that this is the best time to try out my first official Gym Battle! And I would like you to be my first opponent, Maylene!”
“M-me…?” She said with disbelief, but then she smiled. “Well, I suppose I don’t see why not. You know, this is exactly how Dawn got me back into my groove…”
Conway laughed out, in pure rapture to have another thing in common with Dawn. “No way…! That’s way too good to be true…!”
Maylene nodded. “It is true. Instead of helping me, I suppose you’d like to battle me for Reggie to watch so he can get an idea of how he can train, though?”
“Ah, yes, that’s about what I had in mind!” Conway affirmed. “We should inspire Reggie with our own battling techniques to help him find his own new way to battle and train. With any luck, he’ll find the successful path he’s been looking for all this time and it won’t be one that’s too intense and Paul-esque.”
Paul grunted. “I’m sitting here right next to you, you know.”
Conway just smiled. “Yeah, I know.”
“My Gym is closed for renovations, unfortunately,” Maylene informed the boys. “But Reggie said I could use his backyard to take on challengers whenever I wanted. So when we get Reggie out of the hospital, I’ll see that we schedule a battle as soon as possible.”
Reggie yawned. “Why not today? Seriously, the only thing physically wrong with me is my hand. I don’t think I need to stay in a hospital for that. The other Pokémon are okay, aren’t they…?”
“They’ve healed up just fine,” Maylene assured. “Every one of them, and they’ve all forgiven you, so don’t worry yourself about that. I’ll go see a nurse and see about how soon we can get you out of here, alright?”
Maylene waved to the others and almost made it out of Reggie’s room until she collided into another person who came into the room just then and fell onto the floor.
“Oh…! Oh my!” Maylene flailed and looked around the floor for anything that was dropped or spilled. “I’m so sorry, Nurse Joy! That was totally my fault! I should’ve been watching where I was goi-”
Reggie and Paul knew the tone, volume, and voice of that negative remark all too well, and almost thought they were imagining it. Still, not wanting to take chances, Paul yanked the Regigigas book away from Reggie and hid it away. Thankfully, the bearer of the voice had yet to face the patient’s bed yet, as he was still focused on who had just run into him.
Meanwhile, Conway winced as the sudden noise nearly made him soil himself. Nearly.
“Okay, ‘sir’ and ‘mister’ are annoying enough to put up with on a daily basis as it is,” said the man, obviously none other than Brandon, who had finally made it to Veilstone City and the hospital after several mishaps with the river routes. “But ‘Nurse Joy’?! That is definitely a new one and the most insulting so far. You’ve got guts to be calling someone like me that, kid.”
“Brandon?!” Maylene exclaimed, surprised and horrified at the same time. “B-but that can’t be! You’re supposed to be in Kanto…!”
Reggie, Paul, and Conway viewed the scene from the corners of their eyes. The first two were in pure disbelief to see their own father back on his home turf for the first time in seven years, while Conway was merely intimidated.
“Hm?” Brandon scrutinized the young lady as she picked herself up from the floor. “Oh, I see… you’re my city’s representative Gym Leader now, aren’t you? I expected you to be a little taller by now.”
The fact that Brandon knew that piece of relatively recent news took Maylene off-guard. “Wh-wha… how did you know that?!”
Brandon simply smiled. “Byron told me about it when I came to this region a few days ago. Still, you look fit and healthy. I trust you’re representing Veilstone City well, Maylene?”
“Ah, as best I can…” Maylene said shyly, never having been addressed by name by Brandon in the past before. She’d certainly never defeated him in battle, and assumed he was only doing so now because she’d become an important person in his home city. “I just started the position recently, so I can’t tell you I’m perfect, but I’m improving with every passing day!”
“Your honesty is admirable, at least,” Brandon said approvingly. “If I weren’t in a hurry, I would test your skills, but I have many things to take care of.”
Maylene couldn’t help but shiver a little bit, as Brandon’s presence continued to give her and the others the chills. “Y-yes, that would be fine, Brandon. I’m sorry for mistaking you for someone else… I just never in a million years would’ve imagined you being the one coming through that door.” She then remembered that she did make her distress call to Paul to Byron’s Gym at the beginning, and Brandon had been talking with him. “I suppose Byron told you about Reggie, then…?”
“He told me about both of those little trouble-makers,” Brandon said gruffly, before looking down to Maylene with concern. He hadn’t once thought to look to Reggie’s bed yet. Whether it had slipped his mind or he was reluctant to see what would be before him was uncertain, even to himself. “How are they…?” Brandon asked her quietly.
Seeing the concern from the father himself relieved Maylene. “Follow me,” she urged. “I think you’ll find that it’s not as bad as we made it out to be initially. You’ve got two very strong boys, Brandon.”
She led him to where Reggie laid in his bed, accompanied by Paul and Conway, sitting to his left. The three young men had been dead silent the entire time, all still registering the fact that Brandon was actually here in Sinnoh with them for some strange, mysterious reason, and he managed to catch up on the current events much more quickly than they gave him credit for. Regardless, Reggie couldn’t not be happy to see his father in person for the first time in years, and smiled to him, waving with his good hand.
“Good to see you, dad,” he greeted shyly. “I’m really sorry I worried you… I had no idea you were even going to find out…”
“Normally, I wouldn’t have,” Brandon said. “Things will have to change around here; that much is for certain…”
Brandon looked to Paul, who briefly locked eyes with his father before looking away without saying a word.
“Paul’s just being moody; don’t worry about him, Brandon,” Conway assured. “If you heard about him from Byron, then you should know that he has since made a full recovery as well.” He held out a hand to greet the Frontier Brain, completely unaware that he was about to blow his own cover. “It’s an honor to meet you, anyway; my name’s Co-”
Brandon had not been paying much attention to anyone other than his sons at this point and completely cut Conway off when he noticed Reggie’s injury and took the nearest seat to the right side of Reggie’s bed.
“Boy, what in the world happened to your hand?!” He asked, perhaps making a bigger deal out of it than he should have. Paul wasn’t sure what to make of this yet; all he cared about right now was making sure that Brandon did not find that book.
Reggie was a bit shocked to see his own father make a big deal out of what was a relatively minor injury, considering what he’d just survived through four days ago… “Ah, that’s a long story… I accidentally smashed my hand against a rock while I was outside training before the lightning hit me.”
Brandon blinked, almost in disbelief that he forgot that detail entirely. Mainly, it was because Reggie certainly didn’t act like someone who’d been struck by lightning… “Amazing in itself that one such as yourself could survive something like that… but you’ve recovered so quickly. It’s as if it never happened to you.”
“Well…” Reggie looked down, seeming ashamed of himself. “I should’ve known better than to be training outside when the conditions outside were like that…”
“That’s right. You should have,” Brandon interrupted, sounding very strict. “And normally, you do know better. What made you lose your mind all of a sudden?”
That’s when Reggie gave some thought to his past actions and wondered if, after all, he was doing the right thing by battling him in the first place.
Reggie could no longer look at Brandon. “I knew my usual training methods weren’t going to work this time. They hadn’t in the past, and they wouldn’t now, especially with me being out of practice… so I decided I needed to change the way I trained my Pokémon, and myself… and be consistent with it, and brave the elements if I was going to ever have a shred of hope of winning against you. I was desperate,” he admitted. “But I went too far. I think I temporarily lost my mind, and all of my Pokémon ended up getting needlessly hurt as a result. I’m just glad they didn’t get it as bad as I did… still, that may have been a sign that I need to give this up already. I’m not changing my mind about my career even if I did beat you, dad… the only reason I want to beat you is to show you that I’m…”
Brandon’s expressions hardened, initially looking angry when he heard his first son considering giving up before trying again, but wanted him to finish, at least. “You’re…?”
Reggie finally brought himself to look at Brandon. “I wanted to beat you… to show you that I’m not mom, okay?!”
But even as he said that, the look Reggie was giving him… that angry, stubborn look reminded Brandon of Andrea in her younger, wilder days. He was beginning to feel uncomfortable, but now that he made it all the way here, he knew he couldn’t run away from this now.
“… Fair enough,” Brandon finally said. “I can see where you would draw that sort of conclusion. You never told me this was the true reason why, though.”
“Well… it isn’t the only reason,” Reggie admitted. “I’d kind of like to have this family back as a functioning unit again in some sort of capacity… but I know that’s asking for too much, because you can’t leave Kanto, and Paul and I won’t leave Sinnoh.”
Brandon shook his head. “While it’s true I can’t quit my duties as a Frontier Brain, I’ll see about trying to establish a firm communication system with you. I believe this incident was a calling from beyond telling me that there may be future incidents like this where I just won’t conveniently happen upon an old friend who knows what happened to you. Still, I’m going to be very cross with you if you give up now.”
“But…” Reggie was hesitant. “I… I hurt my Pokémon, and I ended up nearly getting myself killed…”
“Yes, that was idiotic of you,” Brandon said, quite bluntly. “But you’ve learned not to go that route again. If I didn’t believe you weren’t naturally talented in battling, kid, I wouldn’t be pushing you as hard as I have all your life.” He looked past Reggie and straight to Paul, who’d been listening quietly the entire time. “The same goes for you, but unlike your brother, your talents have not yet gone to waste, obviously.”
Paul just looked annoyed at that remark. “So I guess I’m supposed to take that as a compliment, then. Thank you so much, then, Honorable Old Man.”
“Hush; I’ll deal with you in a bit,” Brandon assured, going back to Reggie. “I suppose I would be lying if I said your choice to be a Breeder hasn’t bothered me; it has. And… yes, it’s difficult not to compare you to your mother. But put yourself in my position for a moment, if you will, and imagine the reaction I had felt when I heard about what happened to you from Byron.”
It didn’t take long for Reggie to piece it all together. “Dad… you thought I was going to…? Like her…?”
Brandon nodded. “It felt very much like déjà vu. But I can plainly see here and now, without having to battle you, that you are not as much like your mother as I previously thought. To be able to recover from a lightning strike the way you have, you must have either incredible endurance or incredible luck. I doubt even I would have such endurance or luck if I were in your position.”
Reggie laughed, trying to fight the tears back. “Oh, stop that. You know you could.”
“Soon enough I’ll be looking much less invincible than I do now,” Brandon assured him. “Comes with the aging. But will you reconsider and battle me when I find Regigigas?”
“We won’t let him give up,” Maylene cut in. She looked to the others. “Will we?”
“Not a chance!” Conway concurred. “We’ve already got a strategy to help out Reggie’s inspiration, so there’s no way we’ll let that amount to nothing.”
“Oh, I almost forgot,” Reggie recalled, blushing in embarrassment. “They were going to help me find a better way to train… now I just feel like an idiot for causing a scene… heh.” He looked to his father and smiled. “Sure, I’ll battle you. Can’t promise I’ll be as good as I used to be when I was a kid, but… I’ll try and make the best of the time I have left before you find Regigigas.”
Now Brandon looked guilty. Like Paul, he too began to wonder if the pressure building from not knowing when he would be called upon for the battle of his life was what caused Reggie to initially snap and lose his mind.
“This is a special occasion, boy. I want you to be at your best when you battle me,” Brandon insisted. “I understand there are time constraints, and… I have reason to believe that the reason you ended up here may be my fault, in a way, for needlessly pressuring you. So…” He closed his eyes and sighed. “Take as much time as you need. You may come to me, rather than me coming to you.”
Everyone – Paul included – gasped after hearing this. But Paul glared soon after.
“Wait, Reggie pulls the pity card and you’re letting him off easy?” Paul inquired. “Just like that?”
“Were you even listening, kid?” Brandon asked his second son, annoyed to no end. “I want the best from him, and not only can I not get the best from my out-of-practice kid under a time constraint, but I’d rather not risk another incident like this. I’d like to hope you would feel the same way. Either way, you of all people shouldn’t be complaining about others having it easy. You still have a few more Gyms to earn Badges from, a League to compete in, and a Battle Frontier to conquer before you have to worry about facing me. If it’s anyone who has it easy between the two of you kids, it’s you.”
Paul scoffed. “Please, don’t get me started on that. Pokémon training’s pretty much like riding a bike. You may get rusty, but you never forget how it’s done. All Reggie has to do is tear himself away from his motherly genes and act like his own gender for once, and he ought to be back in top shape in no time. I’m the one who has to do all of the dirty work just to get a crack at you, old man. And believe me; I want it a lot more than he does.”
“Would you like a time limit instead, then?” Brandon challenged. “I imagine it would be much less fair to you, being less experienced, but you seem to be practically begging for it.”
“Why bother?” Paul rhetorically asked with a smirk. “You’re never going to find Regigigas.”
Just then… Brandon smirked back. “Funny you should mention that, actually. There’s something I’ve wanted to ask you.”
Paul folded his arms and glared. “Ask away,” he said, almost as if he was daring Brandon to hit him with whatever he had. Reggie was beginning to look skeptical about this. Maylene and Conway were equally confused.
“Since when have you taken to bringing along traveling companions?” Brandon asked, pointing directly at Conway. Conway then squeaked a bit in fear, looking extremely nervous. Paul began to look apprehensive, but shrugged it off.
“He’s not exactly what I would call a ‘companion’, old man. More like a stalker, or a leech. Either way, I keep trying to get rid of him, but he’s latched onto me ever since I reached Canalave City. I’m hoping to shake him after tonight since I no longer require his services,” he explained calmly.
“Hey, you still owe me a life debt!” Conway yelled out to him.
Paul grumbled. “Can’t I just write out an IOU instead? I’m really not the type you’d want to stake your life on, and I’m getting sick of you enough as it is.”
“Like an old married couple…” Brandon muttered under his breath before speaking up. “Well, Byron mentioned that he was tagging along with you when I spoke with him four days ago. I just found it interesting that you found yourself a little friend at last, though you seem to be in denial over the matter…”
“Oh, like you’re one to judge!” Paul shouted back in retaliation. “Why do you even care? He’s just a little snot of a loser, anyway.”
“Gee, I’m sitting right next to you,” Conway muttered.
Paul nodded to Conway and feigned a smile, getting back at him for earlier. “I know.”
“I was just wondering, kid, you didn’t stop by the Canalave Library while you were in the city, did you?” Brandon asked, seemingly completely innocently… but that immediately set off red alerts in the heads of everyone else in the room.
After a brief moment of silence, Paul shook his head. “I went to the city, stopped by the Pokémon Center for a very brief moment, went straight to the Gym, passed out, and was then transferred to the infirmary where I immediately left to board a ship early the next morning to reach Reggie. I don’t think the library was even open during that time of day. So no, I never set foot in there.”
“Fair enough,” Brandon conceded. Then he looked to Conway. “Now, how about your little friend here?”
Before Conway could answer, Paul cut in. “His business is none of yours, old man.”
“Is that so? I think it might be,” Brandon mused. “There’s a kid I happen to be looking for, you see. He happens to live right here in this city. He checked out a book that I am in dire need of. The only book of its kind and the only copy in the entire world… and I thankfully managed to get some information out of the librarian before I left Canalave City.”
Paul gave his father an incredulous look while Conway nervously gulped. On second thought, he figured it might be best if he did keep quiet and let Paul do the talking, now that it known that it was him whom Brandon had been inadvertently chasing after throughout Sinnoh. Knowing that now, it took a great deal of willpower for Conway to not faint at that moment.
“Additionally, the librarian told me the boy had dark green hair and wore glasses and went by the name of… Conway.”
Paul immediately shot a glare to Conway to not make a sudden reaction to Brandon’s descriptions, his delivery of which was specifically meant to make any suspect squeal. He made sure to make it discreet, however, as he knew his father had two eyes and the other was watching the son as much as the first was watching the prime suspect.
“F-funny coincidence, that,” Conway remarked at last, laughing nervously. “Too bad that’s not my name! Ahaha! Haa... ha…”
Brandon was not in the mood for this game, however. “You were introducing yourself to me, as I recall. Your name certainly starts with a ‘C’, the way you were pronouncing it.”
“Or hypothetically a ‘K’,” Conway pointed out. “But no, you’re right, it’s a C. Still, I’m not Conway. I’m… uh…” He tried not to take too long making up a name, as every second made him look more and more like a liar. “Colin…!”
If ‘Colin’ was going to be that committed to the lie, Brandon figured to humor him and strike for a weak point when one made itself present.
“Very well, then… ‘Colin’. May I ask you some things, without the interruption of my disrespectful offspring?”
“Uh…” Conway looked to Paul, looking uncertain of himself, but Paul just shrugged it off, in a way trying to silently remind him that he no longer has the thing Brandon is looking for on hand anyway, which essentially put Conway in the clear. “Sure, why not?”
“Very well, then. Colin, is Veilstone City your City of origin?” Brandon asked, calmly and casually.
Conway wasn’t sure what this had to do with anything since it wouldn’t prove anything one way or the other, but he shrugged. “Actually, it is. On the southern end of the city, though.”
This was a surprise for Paul, though. “It is?”
Conway smiled with amusement. “Whoops. Guess I forgot to tell you, huh? Small world, isn’t it?”
“Clearly, it is,” Brandon agreed. “Then, Colin. Did you enter the Canalave Library at any point during your stay at Canalave City?”
Conway bit at his lip, knowing somehow that answering “yes” was going to land him into a trap. At the same time, he had a similar feeling about the “no” option as well. Ultimately, he went with his gut feeling. “Yes, I did, but I go there all the time. This was no special occasion.”
Brandon nodded. “I see, then. I was talking to Byron about my boy’s Gym Battle earlier and one of the first things he mentioned was you. To be mentioned first before anything about the battle itself must mean you did something noteworthy, Conway, so what was is that you did for my son’s Gym Battle?”
“Oh, that!” Conway laughed that off. “It wasn’t anything special, really, I was just refereeing.”
Then he paused. Everyone stared at him, except for Brandon. He let out a wicked grin. Paul groaned and slammed his palm against his forehead as Conway’s face turned pale as the poor adolescent covered his mouth.
“HAH! I knew it!” Brandon shouted, pointing directly at the misfortunate bespectacled one. “You are Conway! You little rat! Thought you could sneak by the Pyramid King, didn’t you?!”
“I’m sorry!!” He wailed. “Please, don’t hurt me!” He offered his bag as a peace offering. “Here, take whatever you want! Just please don’t call my mom!!”
As Conway continued to bawl, Brandon raised an eyebrow strangely as he fished through the bag. He did indeed find a couple of books… but not the one he was looking for. “Kid… you don’t have what I’m looking for.” He closed Conway’s bag and tossed it back to him, but Conway was still in the midst of crying his eyes out, and thus the bag fell flat on the floor. There was no questioning the nature of this young man’s character now, Brandon knew. He sounded legitimately emotionally scarred.
With that, he looked to Prime Suspect #2: Paul. “Okay, cough it up. I know you have it.”
“Hm?” Paul pretended he wasn’t listening. “I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“You know exactly what I’m talking about,” Brandon accused. “Why else would you be so convinced that I would never be able to find Regigigas if you didn’t have the one and only book yourself?”
Paul only smirked back at his father. “How are you so sure I have it on me and I didn’t just burn it or throw it into the ocean or throw it in a trashcan somewhere instead?”
“Because if you did that and I never managed to actually find Regigigas, you’d never have that chance to take that crack at me that you claim you want,” Brandon retorted, now standing up and walking to the left side of the bed, past the still-sniffling Conway and straight towards his son.
“What if I’ve already read it myself?” Paul asked in a hypothetical tone, though he actually had read the book. “Maybe I want to capture it for myself. Maybe I think you have too many of those things in your collection, anyway. Regirock, Registeel, Regice, Reggie… what’s the harm in sharing just one?”
Brandon glared down at him. “Don’t even joke about that nonsense. You don’t have the qualifications to capture a Legendary Pokémon. It’s my duty and mine alone to capture it, so cut out the childishness and hand over the book already before I lose my patience with you.”
Paul looked at his father for a moment before rolling his eyes, opting to stare out the window instead. “Oh, please spare me the great wrath of the Pyramid King. I’m not Conway, you know. I won’t break down in tears by- AGH!”
Paul was cut off by abruptly being held up by the scruff of his neck as if he were a baby Skitty. It wasn’t nearly as pleasant for a human, but it did more than enough to get Paul kicking and flailing helplessly until he would eventually concede. That’s what Brandon’s plan was, anyway.
“Put me down!! This is degrading! Do I look like a feline Pokémon to you?!” Paul hollered, trying to release himself, but to no avail. He could not escape the strong grasp of his father.
“You were acting a little ‘catty’, so perhaps,” Brandon replied. “I’ll put you down if you give me the book.”
Ever-stubborn, however, Paul refused to comply. “Oh, bite me, old man! You’ve just crossed the line!”
“Funny that you say such a thing, as if you already haven’t been on thin ice yourself,” Brandon said, a bit more seriously. “But really, I can keep this up as long as I need to.”
But now, Reggie had seen enough. “Everyone, stop this right now!”
The others paused to look to Reggie, who was beyond irritated at this point.
“Conway, for goodness’ sake, stop your sniveling; the heat’s already off you, first of all,” Reggie requested.
“O-okay…” He said uneasily. Maylene, who had been stunned with silence by what she had seen, got a box of tissues for Conway to blow his nose with.
“Dad, put Paul down already. Here’s the book you’re looking for,” Reggie said, pulling none other than the Regigigas book out from under his pillow sheet. “He only got this book for my sake, because he was worried about me. But since you’re letting me train at my own speed, we don’t need to keep it a secret any longer.”
“Huh?” Brandon looked over to see that his oldest son was indeed telling the truth. He dropped Paul without even thinking to receive the book, and saw that it was indeed genuine. “This… this is it! This is what I’ve been looking for…!”
Paul crashed down to the floor meanwhile, landing on his knees. He grunted on impact and glared up at the others. “Yeah, don’t worry, I’m fine, everyone. Thanks for your concern.”
Maylene tsked and shook her head. “Paul, I hate to say this, but you really deserved that.”
“Why haven’t you left yet?” Paul retorted, standing up. “You’re not of relevance to any of this, Maylene.”
Reggie glared at his brother. “I happen to agree with Maylene, Paul. Your attitude’s completely uncalled for. You know the reason you got me this book was to buy me extra time, and dad’s giving it to me anyway. There’s no point in keeping the book away from him now.”
“You promised me you wouldn’t give him that book!” Paul accused, pointing to Reggie. “You just stabbed me in the back the second the old man one-upped me!”
“Excuse me, I never promised you anything,” Reggie corrected. “I just said I wasn’t going to, under the assumption that dad wasn’t going to change the rules on us. He did, so stop being so dramatic.”
“You know…” Conway, considerably calmer now, re-entered the conversation. “We did make an agreement that the fate of the book would lie in Reggie’s hands, Paul. The second you gave that book to him, I think he’s well within his rights to decide where it goes and whom he gives it to, so with all due respect…”
“Conway, you’re not helping!” Paul barked back at him. “I’ve got better things to do than sit here and be singled out by a bunch of losers. I have a journey to finish, so I’ll just be on my way now.”
Brandon was done admiring the book just in time to notice that his youngest son was about to vacate. “You will sit back down in your seat until the conversation is over, boy. This is the first time in seven years since I’ve been home. Naturally, I’ll have to leave tonight, but I won’t stand for you leaving early simply because you’re behaving like a petulant child.” He looked directly down at Paul with a smirk just then. “By the way, I could not have possibly ‘one-upped’ you if I was unaware of your intentions with this book in the first place. It’s true I suspected that you took it, but I wasn’t aware that it was to help your brother. I assumed it was only to spite me.”
“Well, now it is,” Paul assured, glaring at both his father and brother now. Still, he took his seat, not wanting to end up on another end of his father’s disciplinary holds.
“Sorry for lying to you, Brandon,” Conway apologized. “If it helps, the two of us have already read through the book. Even it doesn’t list a specific area where Regigigas is held, but it strongly insinuates that it resides in the areas surrounding Snowpoint City, so you’ll probably want to start there.”
This took Brandon by surprise. “You don’t say… so it’s native to Sinnoh after all.” He smiled. “This should be a good time to revisit some of my favorite areas of this region. It’s changed quite a bit since I was here last, so I might as well enjoy it while I can. Thank you for the tip.”
Conway chuckled nervously and shrugged. “It’s the least I can do for deceiving you like that…”
To that, Brandon only laughed. “Don’t flatter yourself, kid; I knew you were lying the entire time. I just needed to verify it. All the same, it relieves me that you aren’t a nasty boy like my little one over there. That’s what I was primarily concerned about: that this book fell in the wrong hands. This is a one-of-a-kind variety, and I couldn’t afford to lose it to someone of ill intent.”
“I’m sure you’ll find Regigigas,” Maylene assured with a nod. “All things considered, this was a pretty fortunate event for all of us.”
Brandon nodded, looking to Reggie. “So, it has been four days, and aside from your hand, you look perfectly fine, boy. How much longer will you be here for?”
“Actually, I was hoping to kind of get out of here tonight,” Reggie explained, optimism present in his tone. “Maylene was about to ask a nurse about that before you came in.”
“Hm…” Brandon seemed to be considering something for a moment before smiling and looking to the others. “Let’s make it official, then. There’s something I’d like to do before I leave for Mt. Coronet.”
After consulting with a nurse, getting the paperwork filled out, and Reggie’s Pokéballs out from the care units (not to mention a bit of awkwardness for Reggie getting back into the habit known as “walking” that he hadn’t done in four consecutive days now), Brandon, Reggie, Maylene, Conway, and a very reluctant Paul gathered together at the entrance of the hospital lobby.
“Even at my age, I still have much to learn, it seems,” Brandon admitted to the others. “Even with a job as demanding as mine, going seven years without setting foot in my own city is a travesty. I will see to it that things improve in the future. I still believe this incident was a message from the heavens, calling out to me to connect with both of my sons with a bit more effort, and I’m sure they would like the same…” He looked to Paul specifically. “Whether they admit it or not.”
Paul brushed the comment aside and looked away. “Whatever. One day’s not going to make up for seven years of being a deadbeat, old man.”
“Perhaps not,” Brandon mused. “But it’s never too late to start making amends.” He then looked to Reggie. “It took a great deal of bravery to be straightforward with your feelings, boy. I only wish you had done so sooner, but doing that and giving me this book when you didn’t have to shows me a sense of bravery I haven’t seen since… well, since the day your mother first stepped into this city as a child when she moved from Verdanturf Town.”
Conway smirked. “Something tells me there’s a long story behind that one.”
“There is,” Brandon affirmed. “But that will be for another time. My boy knows it, though; perhaps he can tell you.”
Reggie laughed at that. “There you go, comparing me to mom again…”
Brandon shrugged helplessly. “All I can say is… it’s become a habit after all these years. Still, since I’m going to be in hot pursuit of Regigigas for the rest of my trip in Sinnoh, don’t think I’ve forgotten that your birthday is in about a month. Your eighteenth birthday, no less.”
“No way,” Reggie gasped out. “Y-you’re giving me a present early this year…?”
“You’ve earned it,” Brandon replied, holding out a cardboard box. “Admittedly, these are more for your Pokémon than they are for you, but there’s more after this. I’d just like you to see these first.”
Since Reggie couldn’t handle the box with both arms, Brandon set the box on a table for Reggie to open himself. When he opened it, he was amused to find weighted exercise bands of bright and vibrant colors inside.
“These should greatly aid your Pokémon’s natural strengths during training,” Brandon explained. “But as you can see, they are weighted, so they will slow your Pokémon down as they train. However, they will build up endurance, and therefore become stronger when battling in normal conditions.”
He then began to point out to each one individually to describe them. “The one in green is the Power Weight, which will aid your Pokémon’s stamina. The purple one decorated with lenses is suitably called the Power Lens and will enhance your Pokémon’s non-physical damaging attacks. The red one is the Power Bracer, which will increase the level of your Pokémon’s strength. In orange is the Power Belt, made for fortifying a Pokémon’s defenses. Then there’s the Power Band, in yellow, which builds up your Pokémon’s resistance to special attacks, and finally, in blue is the Power Anklet. It slows the Pokémon down, but it will become much faster after enough training.”
Reggie was beyond flattered when he looked at them all. “I… I don’t know what to say…”
Maylene looked excited. “Hey, I think I remember using something like these! I believe some of the trainers at Veilstone Gym are still using them! But I remember Lucario and I did some intensive training a long time ago with weights. They really made a difference!”
“You have a Lucario now, do you?” Brandon asked Maylene, interested. “The same baby Riolu you received from your parents, I presume?”
“The one and the same!” Maylene affirmed, smiling. “We’ll both work hard and make sure Reggie’s fully prepared to battle you when the time is right.”
Brandon nodded, certain that he could trust the new Gym Leader. “I’m sure you will. But those are for the Pokémon. I have one more birthday present for you, boy.”
Reggie turned around, curious again. “Really, dad, it isn’t necessary…”
“After seven years, I believe it is,” Brandon said adamantly. This time, he dug around in his own side-pocket and pulled out something that looked like what an archaeologist such as Brandon would dig up, but at the same time, it was oddly dainty and feminine… either way, it was aged, fragile, yet well-protected. “And I know for certain your mother would want you to have this, because it used to belong to her.”
“That’s…” Reggie’s eyes widened, as he recognized it instantly. “Mom’s Shell Bell… I thought it was lost…!”
It was indeed a Shell Bell, but something of a customized one, as it was held together by a string of small pearls and the shells composing of the necklace seemed to sparkle. In the middle of the front shell was a strategically-placed gem that resembled a diamond, somewhat.
“I believe I neglected to tell you, though, that I was the one who actually made this,” Brandon mentioned as he carefully laid the Shell Bell into Reggie’s palm. Reggie himself stared deeply into his mother’s necklace, but did not tune out his father’s words.
“You made this…?” He asked quietly. “But… how…?”
Brandon smirked. “This Shell Bell is a bit older than you initially thought. I was about your age when I made it, actually. I went to Hoenn on my own one day and traveled to the Shoal Caves in order to collect the necessary amounts of Shoal Shells and Shoal Salts to make the basic Shell Bell. I then customized it, keeping your mother’s interests in mind. When I finished it and presented it to her, she seemed to prefer it to the customary engagement ring.”
Much as he tried to pretend not to, Paul was listening, and he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Reggie didn’t know this either, and he found himself short of breath as he looked up to Brandon.
“You’re… giving me what was… mom’s engagement necklace…?” He asked his father, voice full of emotion, as if he were about to cry.
Brandon, much firmer with his emotions, nodded, but still couldn’t help but be elated for his own son’s happiness. “Understand that I am giving you that necklace for a reason. You’re going to be eighteen soon… and no longer a boy. Time will be passing rapidly for you, so I want you to find a special person to honor with that necklace. Someone you trust… someone you know who will always be there for you. That’s what I had in mind when I made this. That’s what I wish for you to have in mind when you…”
But Brandon could not even finish his speech before Reggie already made his decision. Brandon’s eldest son approached a stunned Maylene and donned her with the necklace. Needless to say, she was speechless.
Brandon himself was at a loss for words for a moment before regathering his thoughts. “Ah-… you’re awfully quick to make a decision, aren’t you? It isn’t wise to be hasty, boy. You’re not eighteen yet.”
Reggie just shook his head and smiled to his father. “Dad… I wouldn’t be standing here and talking with you right now if it wasn’t for Maylene. She was there for me when no one else was. When you’re off in Kanto and Paul’s off journeying… she’s still there to talk to me, and laugh with me… and understand me, and be there for me when I’m sad. I don’t mean to disrespect the meaning of the necklace, dad… but right now, I can’t imagine anyone right now who deserves it more than Maylene. Please understand.”
Taking that into consideration, Brandon looked to the still-stunned (and now massively-blushing) Maylene, who now seemed to be borderline-hyperventilating as quietly as she could.
“So you have given this thought,” Brandon mused. “I suppose I can allow it… for now.”
Conway was immensely amused with this turn of events. “Uh-oh… looks like you’ve got a future in-law, Paul.”
Paul looked furious, but Reggie held his hands up to signal the others to calm down. “Now wait just a second…! That’s not what I meant! Come on; you know she’s too young…”
Conway raised an eyebrow and smirked. “Is that the only reason?”
Reggie grumbled. “Quiet, you. This may have been an engagement necklace to dad, but to me, this is my symbol of gratitude for everything Maylene’s done for me that everyone else has fallen through on. And I trust Maylene will take good care of my mom’s necklace; I can’t think of anyone better to take care of it. She’d probably handle it better than I would, honestly.”
“That’s the kind of thing I like to hear,” Brandon complimented, clapping his hands. “You trust her to care for and respect the necklace above all else. You can alter the meaning if you’d like, boy, but I do hope you’ll settle down eventually after we battle.”
“After we battle?” Reggie inquired, not understanding. “But… what if I don’t win?”
Brandon only smiled as he began to exit the hospital. “Boy, try to focus on being optimistic. That’s what we’ve known and loved you for, anyway. Maylene, I don’t believe I need to tell you to keep my kid in line, do I?”
“N-no, sir! I mean Brandon!” She sputtered, as she and the others followed Brandon outside the hospital and into the streets of Veilstone City. By now, the sun had long since set and the moon shined brightly in the sky. “I’m going to protect and respect this necklace no matter what, as well as be there for Reggie, sir! … I-I mean Brandon, geez!” Maylene flailed, trying her best not to lose her cool in front of the others.
Upon seeing this, Brandon could not resist laughing. He only wished Andrea could witness all of this. “It felt nice to do this… it was long overdue.” He walked to Reggie and patted him on the shoulder. “Again, I cannot express how grateful I am that you made it out of this alive. Believe it when I say this will change things in the near future, and… when you are ready, I hope to see you soon.”
In an unexpected move, Reggie hugged his father. Brandon was taken aback by this and somehow could not bring himself to return the hug, but smiled nonetheless. “… But as always, you’re still too soft, boy.”
Hearing that, Reggie let go and immediately looked embarrassed. “Well, I… yeah. I hope to see you soon, dad… good luck on finding Regigigas.”
Brandon happily nodded to his eldest son before making a short stroll to his young one, who had kept his mouth shut for quite a while now.
“Any last words, kid?” Brandon asked Paul in a demeaning tone. “I might not be so merciful the next time we cross paths.”
“It’s going to be soon,” Paul promised in a scathing tone. “We’re basically going the same way. You for Regigigas; myself for a Gym Battle. It’s inevitable. But I’ll be coming prepared. Don’t be surprised when I completely annihilate you.”
To that threat, Brandon grinned. “Sounds like fun. I’ll see you there.” He then distanced himself from the others and waved. “I’ll be going now, then. All things considered, this was a fine reunion. Best of luck to all of you.”
Barring Paul, everyone waved and bid their farewells to Brandon as he began to walk off and faded in the distance.
“What a day,” Reggie said, now sounding exhausted. “After four days of hospital fluids, I think I’m ready for a big dinner at home. How about you, Maylene?”
Maylene couldn’t help but blush, but nodded in agreement. “Your body must be deprived of nutrients, Reggie! If we’re to get you back in top shape for training, we’ll have to get you well fed!”
“Then stop talking about it and let’s go home already,” Paul complained. “I might as well come, too. I wasn’t aware it was this late…”
But just then, Reggie turned towards Paul with a glare. “Uh… I don’t think so, bro.”
There was an uncomfortable silence following that statement as Paul stared at his now-angered older brother. “What did you just say to me…?”
“That attitude you had, you throwing a fit over absolutely nothing…? Do I need to remind you about that?” Reggie stated, very sternly. “I couldn’t believe you would be so cruel and selfish. I’ve been through enough for one day, Paul, so I can do without your blatant disrespect for the people I hold dear to me.” He clearly was referring to Maylene now. “Conway, I hate to trouble you, but can Paul stay over at your place for tonight? I think he just needs to get this out of his system, and you seem to balance him out well enough.”
Conway was surprised at first to be offered to have Paul as a sleepover guest in his own home, but he quickly nodded and acted casual about it. “Not a problem, Reggie! I’ve got a bunk bed in my room and everything suitable for such an occasion.”
Paul was aghast at this. “You can’t be serious. You’re kicking me out?!”
“Just for tonight,” Reggie clarified. “Think things over for a bit and realize what a complete jerk you’ve been tonight, Paul. It’s not like I’m leaving you out on the streets or anything. Conway will take good care of you; I’m sure.”
“He’s right, Paul,” Conway concurred. “Besides, it’ll be fun. Haven’t you ever been curious about what it’s like at Casa Conway?”
Paul just groaned and grasped at his hair. “No, I haven’t…”
Reggie rolled his eyes and sighed. “Get over it, okay? It’s just for one night. I need time to clear out my head, and that’ll be hard to do with you around. I’ll see you two tomorrow, anyway. Conway’s got a Gym Battle, right?”
“For sure!” Conway agreed with a wink. “I’ll be there and I’ll bring him with me. Prepare yourself for a battle of epic proportions, Maylene!”
Maylene laughed nervously. “Looks like I’m going to need to clear my mind tonight as well after dinner. You’re going to be one fearsome opponent.”
“My strategizing shall prevail!” Conway proclaimed. “Come along, Paul! We must concoct the perfect plan… to win my first gym badge!!” And excitedly, he dragged Paul by the arm and went down the southern route of the city towards his house. When overly excited, Conway was quite a runner, Paul noted, but he was quick to drag him back and off his feet after the first few minutes.
“Will you get over yourself already?!” Paul yelled, then continuing to calmly walk the rest of the way to Conway’s house as Conway pulled himself up and muttered a few complaints about being knocked over. “It’s like you’re trying to kidnap me or something…”
Conway smirked. “Well, while I am eager to show you my humble abode, I believe Reggie does seek some quality alone time with the future in-law.”
Paul shot Conway an icy glare just then. “Don’t even joke about that.”
“Okay, then, I’ll try the other theory,” Conway decided. “You’re jealous because you didn’t get a birthday present.”
To that, Paul just raised an eyebrow at his companion. “Conway, my birthday’s more than half a year away. We usually give each other presents on time.”
Conway was surprised, for he was certain that at least that theory of his was accurate. “Wait, wait, wait. You mean to say you participate in this kind of thing, too?”
Paul nodded. “It was Reggie’s idea… you know, another one of his crazy ideas to ‘keep the family together’. Normally I’d call it a worthless tradition, but I have gained something useful from it.”
“You don’t say…” This impressed Conway. Such a simple tradition, and yet another attempt by Reggie to keep the family as a functioning unit. “What did you gain, exactly?”
“Well…” Paul was hesitant to admit this… “Last year, the old man managed to find something useful for me for my birthday last year. He gave me a Razor Claw. I wasn’t exactly certain what to do with it, but in his letter, he suggested that I give it to my Sneasel to boost its power. I did so, and soon after… during night training, my Sneasel evolved into Weavile.”
Conway grinned. “See, your dad likes you! He gave you something nice! Why don’t you ever do something like that for him?”
“Didn’t I tell you I participate already?” Paul asked, purely annoyed. “I gave the old man a Pokémon last year. I’m not sure if he actually uses it, but I was scouting for a strong Pokémon for myself at the time. That was the day I met and captured Chimchar. Moments before I encountered Chimchar, I caught a Ninjask. After comparing the move sets, I kept Chimchar and gave Ninjask to the old man for his birthday.”
“Interesting,” Conway remarked. “You caught a fully-evolved Pokémon for your dad. Guess that’s kind of a nice gesture. I suppose, perhaps, it’s because you two are too similar in personality that you just tend to clash whenever you meet…”
Paul looked away and closed his eyes. “I’m getting sick of your theories, Conway.”
Just then, Conway’s eyes brightened up. “Well, say goodbye to them! We’ve just hit Casa Conway! Come on in!”
As Conway shoved Paul into his house, Reggie and Maylene were on the way to Reggie’s house. Almost immediately, he asked her who was taking care of his Pokémon in his absence as well as her own, and explained that Connally came in intermittently to care for them until they returned.
“You know, I just realized something…” Maylene said out of nowhere.
Reggie looked to her, wondering what was on her mind. “What is it?”
“Well… you know… I can’t help but notice that… not only have I not seen the Battle Pyramid anywhere nearby, but Brandon walked pretty much in the wrong direction when he left us. Didn’t you notice that…?”
Reggie thought about it… then he smiled. “The lack of the Battle Pyramid hadn’t come to my mind… but I think I know why he went east, rather than west towards Mt. Coronet.”
“You know why? Really?” Maylene asked, full of curiosity.
“Yeah…” Reggie was pretty sure about it. “I think he went to see mom first before he leaves the city.”
“Oh…” Maylene blushed again at the mention of Reggie’s mother as she looked down at the Shell Bell hung around her neck. “You sound like you know that for sure…” And in a way, Reggie’s calm certainty was making her uncomfortable. She hadn’t forgotten Reggie’s initial rage when he first woke up, and it seemed that he completely forgot that it ever happened. He was relatively normal now…
She wondered if perhaps he just needed a few days of rest to calm his mind… or if this was just the calm before the storm. Maylene suspected this because she’d never once seen Reggie be so assertive towards his cruel, younger brother before. Reggie was more-or-less back to normal, it seemed…
But something had changed in him.
“We’ll know for sure tomorrow morning,” Reggie told Maylene, holding her hand rather suddenly. “Dad knows how to mark the territories he’s been to… and I can already see them.”
Maylene’s heart skipped a beat. “S-see what…?”
“Four beautiful magnolias.”
( TBC )
Heheh, I figured it might be much for Brandon to be a total jerk after realizing he almost lost Reggie, though he and Paul are still extremely rough around the edges (epic foreshadowing for the anime?)! Still couldn't resist reminding Reggie that he's a softie, though. ♥ Reggie's inner conflict isn't quite over yet, and yeah, Maylene's more or less a mainstay since she's pretty much the foil to Reggie similar to how Conway's the foil to Paul. There will probably be times when the boys go it solo (Paul's a definite), but for the most part, I think Maylene is officially an established major character along with Conway. I already have plans for Chapter 8 being primarily focusing on Conway's family (to compare to Paul's!) and his battle vs. Maylene for the sake of Reggie's inspiration. It takes great... restraint... to not... write it.
As for Barry, I believe his involvement in the fic is inevitable; I just have no idea when it will be. Palmer's been mentioned plenty of times and has been established as a friend of Brandon's, so that'll put a fun spin on things. I should probably watch the episodes with him in it first and determine when and how it would be plausible for him to run into Paul, because I think the anime's totally gonna call dibs on that one. It's just too priceless of an encounter for them to not do.
Ahaha, while rereading the interrogation scene, it was coming off like a mockery of Phoenix Wright, almost. All with the dramatic music when Conway broke into fits of sobbing.
Oh, and WOO! Over 1,000 views on the thread! Pointless but ego-fulfilling!
I'm terribly sorry to be so late, but hey, at least I bumped your thread :]
“Have a nice sleep? You pretty much missed the whole day, and it was actually nice out today.”Tense needs to be switched.The boys began to follow Maylene the way she came on the way to Reggie’s room. Maylene continue to explain the situation along the way.
'my'Paul stopped short as soon as she said that. “They diagnosed by brother with a mental disorder?”
A recurring mistake I see is that you capitalise the speaking verb after the speech.
A: “You don’t say…” This impressed Conway. (Correct usage)
B: “That’s right,” she affirmed. (Correct usage)
C: “You made this…?” He asked quietly. (Incorrect usage)
Exhibit A is correct in that "This impressed Conway" is not in the same sentence as "You don't say...", as opposed to Exhibits B and C, where the speech and the action are all in the same sentence. This happens a lot, but I guess I'm just too lazy to display them all
I'm not sure that's a legitimate word ^^;Maylene tsked and shook her head.
"I’m wasting precious beauty sleep on baseless speculation!"“He lives in Veilstone Ci- ah…! It’s too early to be interrogated like this! I’m breaking the code of honor!”“I’ll have just aided a library criminal! My conscience will never let me live that kind of thing down!”Maybe I think you have too many of those things in your collection, anyway. Regirock, Registeel, Regice, Reggie… what’s the harm in sharing just one?”Oh my, you're just too much.*dies of laughter*“Besides, it’ll be fun. Haven’t you ever been curious about what it’s like at Casa Conway?”
You know, it seems all too curious in that Conway seems to be quite unperturbed by Paul's jerk behaviour, except when he gets insulted in his face in the hospital scene (though that was only a minor interjection). I hope you know where I'm getting at here ^_~
Discussing those awesome quotes with a friend over MSN (who's a writer here and planning to pursue this fic *coughgoodluckcough*), I've come to a conclusion that you indeed excel the best with speech and dialogue. Much of your characterisation comes from their speech (evident in Paul, Daisy and Tucker), and on a larger scale, a lot of the content seems to be composed of dialogue or driven by speaking characters. That said, however, it doesn't feel like a dialogue piece (as opposed to a normal story) since you do use an amount of non-speech words, just not that frequently or to amount to a lot.
You don't describe in detail a lot, which is understandable, since it would disrupt the flow somewhat, but somehow...it feels like you do. Of course, you describe battles to great fulfilling effect, but of course, there were none of that in this chapter. What I'm getting at is that your writing style suits the story a lot (the story being character/dialogue-driven).
And perhaps I just crapped out these two paragraphs for the sake of sounding professional but hey, it's ego-fulfilling
It's all cool, brah! And yeaaaaah, bumping. XD Keeping it alive while I wait out the hiatus as the anime progresses slower than a buttered snail on ice. Man oh man. I've had a lot of time to plan out future events for the story all the way up to the eventual Wind Town-PokeRinger/DP118 Adaption chapter (which, if things go as planned and the anime doesn't screw anything up, should be Chapter 11 at best). I even managed to work in a hypothetical anime timeline for the story to plan out how things will go, and... without spoiling anything, at this point, we are roughly at DP106 by the end of Chapter 7. By my estimates, anyway.
I edited the first post - the character list, namely, because the planned cast size has grown considerably. Most notably, there are quite a few villains slated to make an appearance. At least one will be coming around before Chapter 11. It's going to give Conway one heck of a significant role in the story (and one heck of a blow to his and Paul's, uh... I don't think "friendship" would be accurate... "comradery"?). I've also kinda-sorta figured out how Barry will have a role in the story, but he won't be viable for an appearance until after the DP118 adaption chapter. When he does appear, though, there is a good chance that he could become a mainstay or a very significant secondary. Most of the OCs slated to appear are Conway's relatives, and uncle and aunt aside, pretty much all of them will be appearing in Chapter 8, as I've said that next chapter will be a comparison of Conway's family life to Paul's (plus gym battle, plus bridge to next arc).
If you'd like to spoil yourself silly on the upcoming details, I've vented out a bunch of them on my Bulbagarden blogs here and here. And having gotten that out of my system, I should actually reply now. :')
Chapter 8 is probably going to shed some light on why Conway's so adept in tolerating Paul compared to how Ash and Dawn handle his crappy attitude. At the same time, there's going to be a bit of tension developing there... a bit of jealousy, perhaps. It's going to lead into a lot of cattiness between the two by the end of Chapter 8 and all throughout 9 if all goes as planned~.You know, it seems all too curious in that Conway seems to be quite unperturbed by Paul's jerk behaviour, except when he gets insulted in his face in the hospital scene (though that was only a minor interjection). I hope you know where I'm getting at here ^_~
P-pursue? Should I be scared? ♥;Discussing those awesome quotes with a friend over MSN (who's a writer here and planning to pursue this fic *coughgoodluckcough*)
And this is an oddity I've noticed when I've read some of the reviews in this story. I've gotten some praise on the characterization of characters that I either barely remember the personality of (Tucker) or characters I've yet to actually see in the anime. Byron's the biggest case of the latter and I remember you liking how I wrote him. :') I've at least played the game, but yeah. At the time when I wrote Chapter 1, I don't think I legitimately saw much of Reggie in the anime, either... but people said I wrote him well back then, which is just really freaking weird. But yeah, I'm really surprised that Tucker's the one that stood out because I was seriously taking a shot in the dark at him because of all the Frontier Brains, he was the one whose personality I just totally blanked out on as far as my memory went. At the same time, I guess it says a lot when so much of the development is based on the dialogue. In Chapter 7 especially, I wanted to get everything out of my system before the anime would get a word in edgewise, so 7 being so dialogue-heavy and short on the details might've been my way to get everything I wanted put out there in the most succinct way I can. And even then... it still ended up being like 24k words. Sigh.Much of your characterisation comes from their speech (evident in Paul, Daisy and Tucker), and on a larger scale, a lot of the content seems to be composed of dialogue or driven by speaking characters.
I can definitely say, though, when I was coming close to the end of the chapter and I was thinking of the remaining minor plot details I wanted to throw in there before wrapping up the chapter, I had them listed as topics for the characters to bring up in a conversation so I wouldn't forget to put them in there. After the hospital scene and Brandon left, I just fired up Notepad for a moment to be like "arrrrighty, remaining plot points: A) Reggie kicks Paul out of house; Paul sleeps over at Conway's! B) Paul tells Conway about the stupid birthday tradition, who came up with it, how Paul got a Weavile, and the 'connection' between Paul's Ninjask and Brandon's Ninjask omg they're one and the same!11 C) Maylene feels Reggie's inner conflict is not fully resolved! Oh noes! Oh yeah, and wtf there was no Battle Pyramid and Brandon was going the wrong way but Reggie knows where he went! To mommy's grave, bawww!"... and then just crossed off all those little details once they were mentioned. Most of those could've been inserted into the story with more subtlety, but I don't suppose it hurts anything to casually bring them up since they're just details, anyway. Hopefully I managed to pull that off in a way that didn't make it seem too forced~.
Hooboy, yeah... the Byron battle was a doozy to describe. Situations like that really call for a lot of background exposition in order to properly imagine the battle that's going on in your head, I believe. More interpersonal situations like the slew of them in Chapter 7 don't require them as much, I think... mainly because they simply just aren't as complex and therefore much easier for a reader to imagine on his-or-her own. With a strong dialogue, as you said, unspoken actions can often speak for themselves. I've gotten reviews where people say the fic in nature is much like the actual anime. My guess is if people can imagine this like the anime, they've already got the scene playing out in their head. That's usually the case with me too, but that's nothing, since I'm the author and therefore the one who knows the freakin' thing inside-out anyway. ♥;You don't describe in detail a lot, which is understandable, since it would disrupt the flow somewhat, but somehow...it feels like you do. Of course, you describe battles to great fulfilling effect, but of course, there were none of that in this chapter. What I'm getting at is that your writing style suits the story a lot (the story being character/dialogue-driven).
Still, I think the easy way of putting it is that the story kind of adapts to the environment it's in. For a chapter like 5, where it was almost solely a Gym Battle, it was loaded with details and description, which was purely necessity. For a chapter like 7, which was composed of a lot of people sitting or standing there talking to each other without much action going on, the background takes a backseat to the dialogue. One might say the changes can make a story seem inconsistent and cluttered, but if you guys think it works out harmoniously, then I believe you! I've certainly gotten no complaints on the matter elsewhere, either.
Now, taking that into consideration, Chapter 8 is due to have not only a Gym Battle, but a lot of interpersonal conflict with Paul and Conway, and even Reggie, too. So that means we are going to be seeing something of a mixture between the two, I postulate, when it comes time for me to write the chapter. That might be interesting!
I still personally think my critical flaw as a writer is being somewhat redundant with my words, which I try really hard to fix whenever I notice it, but I always end up missing a few cases of it whenever I reread the final product. Gah.
As always, I appreciate the thoughts! Summer couldn't get here any sooner, could it...? I'm on like pins and needles here. It's a bad sign when I'm almost considering breaking-the-fourth-wall-sideshow chapters.
Oh my god that must've taken hours upon hours. Ahaha... glad you're enjoying it, and no problem!
Since the Brandon vs Paul and Regigigas episodes are officially designated as DP128 and DP129 respectively and will be airing next month on the 21st and 28th, that means the fic is in hiatus for a bit over one more month! I'd prefer to wait until after DP129 airs to start adding new material, but Chapter 8 isn't going to really contain anything that will compromise of the more unstable, anime-dependent plot elements I have in store for the future, so I'm most likely going to start Chapter 8 as soon as I get to see DP128 for myself. Whether or not that gets finished before DP129 airs will be uncertain, because I'll probably have to do some plot-tweaking here and there once the episodes air (which may or may not be time consuming in itself now that I've built a much more intricate plot surrounding the story). Riding with the canon has suddenly become a much bigger gamble than it used to be!
Still, standing by my word: even if the canon totally destroys the foundation of the fic, I'll continue it regardless. Just as an AU. ♥ But it feels great to finally know when to expect those episodes, thusly knowing exactly how much longer we all need to wait for future developments! I'm ready to pounce on this thing again once all the smoke has cleared. If I start Chapter 8 after DP128 airs, chances are good it'll at least be ready before June hits!
Yup, you're added now! I know I've done my job when my writing causes the youth to stay up on the vampire schedule like I always did when I was young. I live to corrupt. Thanks for the input!