Apparently the awesomeness that comes in a scene that has Hilda and Ghetsis in it can't be contained to one chapter... well maybe if I separated it from the Hilbert and N scene, but the contrast is just too beautiful.


Chapter 45: Kings and Queens, Part 1


March 26
Mistralton Hospital

“He should be well enough to have a visitor,” the nurse said, checking a tablet computer. “Oh but, may I ask something of you?” When Hilbert nodded, she explained that, “He's not eating enough and now that he is alert more often than not, it's been difficult getting him to eat anything. And from the condition he was in, this may have been a problem for the past few weeks. If you get him to give up that refusal, that would be a big help in getting him back into good shape.”

“I'll see what I can do,” Hilbert said. “Has there been any other trouble? I mean, from Plasma?”

She shook her head. “No, it's been quiet around here. I haven't even seen any come in, well, in their weird uniforms anyhow.”

“I see. Thanks.” He waved to Loch to stop him from being distracted by an aquarium of small fish, then headed with five Pokemon over to the room N was staying in. But only the Alomomola was his.

This morning, a peculiar Sigilyph had appeared outside his tent. After some guessing and help from Madeline, Hilbert thought it was the same Sigilyph that had been with N when he had been in the hospital himself in Castelia. Not long after, a Vanilluxe, a Klang, and a Zoroark also came to his campsite. The last was able to confirm that they were friends of N and they wanted to see him. None of them were his own, but they were well-behaved and Hilbert thought it would be for the best to let them visit too.

N was sitting up in the hospital bed, which had been tilted up to support him. He had a dull and disinterested expression at first, looking out the windows. On a nearby table, there was a small vase of flowers, an untouched puzzle book, a water glass, and an unopened plastic cup (Hilbert guessed it was some kind of soft food they gave patients who couldn't eat much). On the side facing the door, the Dark Stone was floating silently, although she did come closer as the Light Stone approached. N didn't even acknowledge them coming in until the Vanilluxe dashed over to his side and startled him.

“Pierre?” N asked, looking down at him, then around at the others there. Hilbert smiled at him. “What are the four of you doing so far from the forest?”

The Vanilluxe gave a blubbering answer, sobbing on N's shoulder for one reason or another. The others chimed in too, although Hilbert only heard the Zoroark saying, “We had the chance, so we came.”

Putting his arm around Pierre, N said, “I'm sorry. I had to do some private work and almost nobody was allowed to interrupt. I didn't want to, but it couldn't be avoided.” Then he looked up to Hilbert. “Thanks for bringing them to me. It's been a long time since I've seen them. Or much of anyone, really.”

“No problem,” Hilbert said, moving a chair over so that he could sit there. “But what were you doing to take you away from them so long?”

“I can't really say.” He looked downcast, but then tried to smile. “Don't worry about it.”

Or did he not want to say? That annoyed Hilbert, but he couldn't let something like that disrupt this meeting. “If you say so. Who are they?”

“This is Pierre here,” N said, still holding onto the Vanilluxe. “He's evolved since I saw him last. I'm sure you've met Rune before, or at least seen him. Oh, Tock there says he's about ready to evolve too. I guess you all must have been practicing to be better too. And this...” he looked over at the Zoroark. “Well, I haven't given him a nickname yet, but I've known him for years. Never needed one, I guess, because he was the only Zoroark that I knew of. Sorry, I hadn't thought much more on that.”

The Zoroark patted N's hand with his paw and gave a quiet bark. “I could go with or without one. I'll still be your friend whatever you call me.”

“Zoroarks are a rare sight to my knowledge,” Hilbert said. “N, there's a lot we need to discuss. Are you feeling up to it?”

He bowed his head in thought, then shrugged. “I'm not doing anything else right now, just recovering. What is it?”

Picking up the plastic cup on the table, Hilbert glanced at the label. It was serving of highly enriched peanut butter, which he'd heard was given to those who suffered from malnutrition in one way or another. He tried to give it to N. “Well first of all, the nurse says you aren't eating enough. You shouldn't be doing that.”

“I don't feel like eating.” The Sigilyph said something to that, which made N say, “Maybe it is illogical, but I just...”

“You aren't going to be strong if your body is weak,” the Zoroark said.

Hilbert nodded. “He's right about that.”

“Maybe, but...” he stopped speaking for a moment, then looked at Hilbert. “You understand them now?”

“Not all Pokemon,” Hilbert said. “But I have gotten to where I understand a few of them. He's the only one here that I can, although I can almost get my Litwick's words right.”

“That's good.”

Hilbert leaned over, putting the cup of peanut butter in N's hand. “But that's besides the point. You want to change things in the world, and impress Zekrom enough that she agrees to help you out. You can do a lot with words and ideas, but you need action too. If you don't take care of your body, then you're not going to be capable of following your dreams. Also, we'll both need to climb up to the top of Dragonspiral Tower sometime soon. As you are now, you're not going to make it far in, not because you're unworthy, but because you're physically incapable of it.”

Looking down at the cup, N took it and turned it over. “I hadn't thought about it in that way.”

“You should keep it in mind now,” Hilbert said.

N seemed to accept that, as he detached the little plastic spoon on the cup and opened it up. “I guess you're right about that. These people are healers, so we can trust them.”

“Right.” Thinking on trust, he added, “Team Plasma is out in Opelucid today talking to people. Do you know what it's about?”

“It's probably the usual event of teaching people what could and should be,” N said. “I hadn't known it'd be today. The Sages have been handling things while I've been traveling.”

“Maybe you should be there some time? Anyhow, Hilda and Kyurem are there too.” It worried him, both in what they could do to her and what she could end up doing to them. Hopefully it wouldn't end up as a riot.

“What are they doing there?” N asked, seeming concerned too.

“I don't entirely know,” Hilbert said, knowing some of it but not wanting to reveal it to N. He might take things the wrong way. “She says they're not going to hurt anybody there. We'll just have to see what she's done later.”

-+-

Opelucid streets

As this was one of the few demonstrations that had been announced, there was a large turn-out. The Team Plasma members were obvious, well over a hundred of them. So were members of the police force, but according to a news report this morning, they were being unsuccessful in arresting those Plasma members that were taking the Pokemon of others. Due to their uniforms and resistance to giving names, it was difficult to identify the thieves personally unless they were caught in the act. And the police couldn't go arresting every single member of Team Plasma. The atmosphere was tense, but so far nothing bad had happened.

They had set up a temporary stage in one of the open areas of Opelucid, in a sunny spot that could be seen easily from three different streets. Even if they only meant to use it for a few hours, they had made it grand, with large black and silver curtains for a backdrop, big tapestries of their insignia, a pair of flags at both ends of the stage, and a quality sound system. At the moment, Ghetsis was on-stage with the six other Sages, giving one of his famous speeches.

And Hilda was with her Pokemon, climbing up the stairs behind the stage. The curtains were closed, so as long as she stayed quiet, they shouldn't notice her until too late. They certainly hadn't noticed when she battled the one knight left to watch this area so that he backed off. “Now we just have to wait for the right moment,” she told them in a hushed voice. “Keep it down.”

Frank, Fedora, and Tarzan nodded, while Mimi kept close to Hilda's feet. Olette was still working on climbing the stairs without making much noise, as her large feet and steel parts didn't make that easy. When the Exadrill got up with them, the stage structure sagged under her weight. It didn't seem to be in threat of collapse, as long as she didn't do anything active up here.

For a while, Ghetsis went on in his usual fashion: current use of Pokemon was abuse, the time when it would all change was soon, do the right thing, blah de blah blah. But then he got on an interesting line right as Hilda was thinking of just going on even if it wasn't optimal, just to get him before he stopped. Ghetsis spoke about N more than just a mention.

“I’m sure many of you have been wondering about our King, especially in light of the revelation of the White King,” he said. “Our King is a very compassionate and wise young man. All of us in Team Plasma as you see today have been moved greatly by his story and philosophy. And in a month's time, you will have proof of this when he calls on Zekrom at the top of Dragonspiral Tower.”

“I thought that was still frozen, but hey, maybe they figured out something,” Hilda murmured. Then she nodded and waved to her team. “Okay, let's go.”

Tarzan went up to the part between two curtains and pulled one aside, letting the rest of them walk onto the visible part of the stage. They came up right behind the other six Sages, a couple of whom glanced back to see why the curtain had moved. In front of them, Ghetsis was looking at the audience in his address, not paying attention. As for the audience, they were out of Hilda's sight, but they had noticed the curtains and were momentarily distracted by it.

Seeing her father on the left, Hilda turned to the three robed men on the right. “Hey, may I borrow a microphone off one of you?” The question didn't get broadcast.

One of them paused, but another was caught enough off-guard by her appearance to comply with her request, taking a clip microphone off his collar. “It's not on right now,” he said.

“Zinzolin!” one of them hissed.

But she already had it. The switch was obvious, but she flicked it on, then off to check it before clipping it onto her pink windbreaker. “It's all right, thanks.” She flashed him a smile then took a few steps closer to Ghetsis. As she and her Pokemon started creeping into view, some in the audience chuckled.

The green-haired man still hadn't noticed. “His devotion is quite serious, I assure you. When you meet him, you will agree that he is a true hero meant to lead us into a glorious era of peace and happiness. For now...”

Flipping the microphone on, Hilda cheerily said, “For now, he's not here. Don't worry, you all will see things clearly soon enough.”

Ghetsis jumped around, causing the audience to laugh at his surprise. For a moment, he glared hatefully at her for interrupted him. Then Fedora slithered up beside her, rearing up and glaring back defensively. Although even he must have realized the Serperior was unlikely to attack right then and there, Ghetsis' mask of calm control soon slipped back on. He raised an eyebrow at her.

Grinning, Hilda made a silly wave. “That was what you were gonna say, right? Except in bigger words. Unless you prove me wrong in that?”

“Close enough,” Ghetsis said, stepping aside so that he could look at her and still be partially facing the audience. She complied by coming forward a few steps, Fedora keeping close to her. “But must you be so rude as to interrupt an important life-changing speech without invitation?”

She stretched her arms back. “Well I would've come even if you invited me.” A few members of the audience cheered that, or laughed. “And don't mind my Pokemon. I said they could come or stay behind, whatever they wanted, and they chose to come with me up here. They should behave themselves.”

Fedora tilted his hat forward, as if giving a silent warning not to mess with her. Tarzan and Olette both took up positions near the other six Sages to look important (although the Scraggy was the odd one out, looking goofy in holding his skin up). In the meantime, Frank had gone to keep an eye on Mimi, who had gotten fascinated by a dangling curtain tassel.

“You don't have your dragon with you as usual,” Ghetsis pointed out, seemingly stalling while he put together his thoughts on this disruption.

“Oh, he's here too,” Hilda said, pointing upwards and to the left of the stage. Kyurem was perched on top of a three story building nearby, watching over the event. “But this stage can just barely handle Olette as it is. This set-up is so human-centric; most events would plan for having a group of Pokemon on stage as well.”

“What are you doing here?” he asked, trying to step away from the Pokemon issue.

She put her hands on her hips. “I've been meaning to talk to you for a while, and this seems as good an opportunity as any. And it's even better that it's in public. I've got nothing to hide; how about you? And you all, you want to hear this?” She looked over at the audience.

The clusters of Plasma members seemed uncertain, but the other parts of the audience agreed by clapping and whistling. Maybe they thought it would be interesting to see a Pokemon Trainer interrogate this public face of Plasma. Or maybe they recognized that this could be entertaining due to the dramatic flair that both he and her had shown in the past. Whatever the reason, their approval would make it hard for Ghetsis to decline this unexpected discussion.

Giving a confident smile, Ghetsis made a bow. “If that's what you wish, although you may find yourself out-classed.”

“That's what you think,” Hilda replied in perfect confidence as well.

-+-

Mistralton hospital

Hilbert had said that there was a lot to talk about, but Pierre had taken several minutes to calm down. “I thought you were gone forever into the abyss, so I thought I had to get strong to rescue you or the demons would finally kill me,” the Vanilluxe said. “I did my best for my angel, but then I failed. I'm sorry. Don't leave me again. They were all kind, too kind, but they are ignored by the darkness beyond.”

“You can stay in the hospital with me,” N said. “I'll have to convince them, but I'll make sure of it.”

“I'm pretty sure they'll let at least one of them stay with you if you ask,” Hilbert said.

“Good.” He patted the Vanilluxe's larger head. “And I don't blame you for what happened in Skyla's Gym. That was my fault as much as yours for rushing it.”

“We shouldn't have trouble now,” Tock said, turning from his examination of the machines keeping an eye on N. “The energy flow is stronger.”

“That's good.” Then N sighed. “But we can't stay together forever. I want people and Pokemon to be safe and happy, but the best way to stop the worst abuses is to separate both sides. There is too much pain to let the current system continue.”

“But I need to stay with you,” Pierre said, shuddering in his lap.

“He is more sane in your presence,” Rune said, now perched on the bar at the end of the bed.

“About your plans,” Hilbert said, nudging him to keep eating the peanut butter. “There's something that could change that. Is there anything you can do that humans normally shouldn't? Aside from understanding Pokemon?”

“I'm not sure,” N said, scooping out some more of the food. When he had to take care of an upset Pokemon, that was more on his mind than eating. And as far as he knew, his language gifts were the most remarkable thing about him.

The Zoroark looked over at Hilbert. “He gets affected by Sing, and I saw him get poisoned once when trying to take care of a Whirlipede. And he can affect others by singing the same song used in Sing.”

He nodded. “That's close, but it'd be hard to work with in here.”

“He's not a human,” Pierre insisted. “He's an angel. He even has a divine glow, sometimes.”

“I did end up glowing that one time when the lights in the hall all blew out,” N said.

“How did that happen?” Hilbert asked.

N thought over it, then shrugged. “I'm not sure. It just happened; I was feeling stressed out but trying to keep cool while talking to others in Team Plasma. And then all the light bulbs exploded for no reason and I was glowing.”

His brother took a deep breath, sitting back to think. “Well I can't explain the light bulbs. But I can teach you how to use that glow affect whenever you want.”

“How, can you do it?” N asked.

He shook his head. “No but... I can guess how you do it. Did you have a sense of power building? And where was it?”

Nodding, N put his hand to his chest. “In here. It made me feel a little sick.”

“I hope it doesn't now.” He leaned forward. “Okay, focus your mind on that light you had. How intense it was, the feel of it, the look of it. And bring that sense of power back to your chest.”

“I'm not sure how to bring that up.”

“Just try it,” Tock said. “We've never seen a human glow before. Tynamos and Joltiks, yes, even one of our kin once, but not humans.”

N closed his eyes and did as Hilbert said. It had been like the glow of the moon, cool but bright. Once he thought to bring that power of moonlight into himself, it happened. It didn't even make him feel disoriented this time. Instead, it was just as natural as listening to Pokemon.

“Now will the power to manifest just as it did before,” Hilbert said.

“Okay,” N said, opening his eyes to a bright flash of white light. It made him wince, but then he was able to see that the glow had indeed returned to him. “That was a lot easier than last time.”

“Ooo, that was so bright,” Pierre said, squinting.

The others in the room were rubbing their eyes too. “That's exactly it!” Tock said. “It's Flash.”

“Flash?” N asked, puzzled. “But that's something only Pokemon can do... but I guess it happens to me somehow.” He looked over his hand again, trying to see if there was some trick to it that he didn't know.

“That's right,” Hilbert said, holding his hand up and waving it once. There was a momentary appearance of an icy mist in the room, but it cleared up quickly, leaving only N's glow. “Okay, so now that my eyes don't hurt...”

The Zoroark shook his head. “Thanks for that.”

N gaped at Hilbert for a moment. “That, that was like Haze.”

“Yeah, because Flash reduces accuracy and Haze counters that effect,” Hilbert said.

No, this couldn't be right. It had to be impossible. “What's going on? We, we shouldn't be capable of this. We're just humans, relying on our wit, memory, and will to survive in a world of powerful beings.”

“Calm down, it's all right,” Hilbert said, taking his hand. “We're not entirely human. We're gijinkas, part human and part Pokemon. I asked the hospital to run blood tests to prove it. Here.” He took a file out of his travel bag and opened it to show him.

Not all of it meant much to N, but the proof was there. The tests had come out positive for showing Pokemon genes in his own. In a line marked 'Gene identification', it stated 'Uncertain- typing Normal'. Hilbert had his own test results as well, which were similar save for the typing; it said that he was a Dark type.

That... was an immense relief. N felt like truly smiling for the first time in weeks. “That's great. It can be as I hoped for.”

Hilbert looked at him oddly, maybe surprised. “Really? Why?”

“Because it means that I am qualified to be an ambassador between humans and Pokemon,” he explained. “The separation must be absolute for it to work, and for both sides to adjust properly. But if I belong to both sides, I can go between both sides freely.” And spend more time with Pokemon, as he wanted.

Hilbert bit his lip. “But if people like us exist, doesn't that mean that people and humans are connected already? Your separation can't be absolute because of us. And since Pokemon can be reborn as humans, and possibly the other way around, then it's a sign that we're meant to be together, working to help each other out. Humans have the capacity to think deeply, but they don't have much power beyond that. Pokemon do have great power, but they don't have the minds to plan for beyond immediate needs and wants, or to consider complex issues. So it seems that the world would work best if humans and Pokemon to do as they do best, but work together in that. Like now, but with more respect and awareness to the needs and wishes of Pokemon.”

N shook his head. “No, then people will take it as a sign to keep things as they are instead of improving them. The position of Pokemon in the world has degraded. Even on the level of the legendary Pokemon; fewer people honor and respect them these days. And most humans have seen no interest in changing that as they think that the current situation benefits them most. Maybe in the future we can all work together, but for now, the separation is necessary to wake humans up to their thoughtlessness and carelessness.”

“It's going to cause a lot of problems and chaos to go that far,” Hilbert said. “And both humans and Pokemon are going to be upset about it. I mean, these ones have come to see you because you were separated from them and they didn't know what happened to you.”

“And just when we wanted to see what you were like,” Tock said, slowing down the spinning of his gears briefly.

“Pricilla followed you for months rather than be without you,” Rune said. “Other Pokemon may do the same to remain with their human friends.”

That mixed-up feeling of not being sure what was good or bad returned, plus a pang at recalling Pricilla. Why should that be? He'd spent nearly a month trying to clear his heart of that and it still wasn't gone. N closed his eyes, thinking that if he could put all that out of his mind, then he wouldn't feel bad about it. But, it just wouldn't go away. And his brother and friends were still here. It wasn't right to ignore them, he was fairly certain.

“Hilbert,” N said, looking over at him. “If I tell you something here, will you promise not to tell anyone else? Anyone at all?”

He nodded, seemingly without a thought otherwise. “Of course. I promise I won't speak of it.”

A little shiver ran through him. Could he talk about this? He shouldn't. And yet, he really wanted to. “Sometimes, I don't want to be in this position.”