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Thread: ClicheStorm

  1. #201
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    O.o So Hilda is trying to beat N's opinions and captured an ice cream cone. Yeah, that's not strange at all... *mumbles to self about Kyurem eating Pierre*

    As 3D992 said, You misspelled Eleektross. It's actually spelled Eelektross, with the double "e" before the single. Other than that, I think Pierre's gonna be a plot point. It's kinda obvious, with him muttering gibberish. He knows a secret that will be revealed at the seventh gym as he battles Brycen's Beartic, and that will be crucial to the story's plot. Not sure what it'll be, but I know it'll happen.

    Lame joke time!

    What do you call a Vanillish in the Desert Resort?

        Spoiler:


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  2. #202
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    No, he's named Pierre because he's a French Vanillite.

    Like I've said, some of Unova's spellings are the hardest to get used to.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

  3. #203
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    Oh yeah! You called him a vanillish when he's actually a vanillite!
    I have:
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    I used to liek mudkipz, then I took an arrow in the knee. However the arrow turned out to be a seaking. It yelled "F*** yeah" so I screamed "FUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!". The seaking's face became that of a troll while mine became forever alone. The situation was super effective.

  4. #204
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    I just noticed something. Ysavrryl, you trickster, you slipped an inside joke and I didn't notice it until now!

    Pierre is a French Vanillish, or Vanillite, or whatever he is.

    Anyone else notice: French Vanillish, French Vanilla? Coincidence? I think not! I swear I am the only one to notice.

    And, Elesa is a robot. I know it, she just is. There is no other possibilty.

    EDIT: Ok, sorry. :P
    Last edited by Z-nogyroP; 5th June 2012 at 2:31 AM.
    I have discovered what a signature is.

    This is Bidoof. Many people loathe it with their lives. If you are of the few people who love this little beaver, put this in your sig. Started by Warrior Scolipede

    I've claimed Castform. It will never rain on my parade.

  5. #205
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    I think elesa is zekrom/a part of zekrom/somehow related to zekrom.
    I have:
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    I used to liek mudkipz, then I took an arrow in the knee. However the arrow turned out to be a seaking. It yelled "F*** yeah" so I screamed "FUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!". The seaking's face became that of a troll while mine became forever alone. The situation was super effective.

  6. #206
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    @Z-nogyroP: That would be a stealth pun. An inside joke would be something only a small circle of people understand (Tarzan's name being an example of that, and no, I'm not saying). There is also a stealth shout-out/pun to the name of N's Gothita.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

  7. #207
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    I have been something of a silent reader of this story over on Fanfiction for a while now, and I must say the new chapter is just as good as ever.

    Could you add me to the PM list?
    Take a moment to consider just how nothing nothing really is....If you understand this, then you just solved the universe.

    The truth that each person...each soul...is a book. And when we lay our feelings out in the open...and we give them no name...and we give them no author....and we give them no description.....who will actually read them..........?"

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  8. #208
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    My oh my oh my, I've missed out on a lot. Hilda's battle with Burgh, a ton of stuff with N and learning about new Pokemon, the mystery of Pierre's gibberish, and some new knowledge of Hilbert's past . . . where should I begin?

    First of all, Frank is awesome. Plain and simple, I think he'll be great for N. Second, I'm liking Rune more and more and am really glad that he kept following N. And how much longer must Pricilla follow before he finally reclaims her?!?!

    Next up, I like the connection between Hilbert and Alder. It really is sad that he traded his starter for a Deino that only acted as a symbol of his power. I am glad that Larvesta did wind up finding a great new partner in Alder, so at least the trade was worth it for Larvesta and helped Hilbert come to terms with his own attitude. I also really like Loch and Ember.

    The next thing I love? One word: Solace. Hahahahaha! Why is Ghetsis such a freak? Was having twins whose power he could abuse really part of Ghetsis's master plan all along?

    Pierre! I would really love to find out what he's saying. He sounds like a patient from one episode of House. I can't remember what was wrong with the guy, but he got words mixed up and some random words like "bear" and "table" became replacements for common or key words. I'M TABLED!!!

    And Elesa is a robot, just like Cilan, Chili, and Cress are freaky human-Pokemon children and Burgh is a flying rainbow man. That last part was just implied, but we all know it's there.

    Oh, and Tarzan is awesome. And I miss Fedora. And I want to see Kyurem in a musical. And playing football. And singing and dancing in a musical about football. And you spelled Eelektross wrong. And French Vanillish, that's funny. Solace Harmonia Gropius HAHAHAHAHA!!!

    GOODBYE CASTELIA!!!
    Last edited by GalladeRocks; 5th June 2012 at 4:17 AM.
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  9. #209
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    Quote Originally Posted by GalladeRocks View Post
    My oh my oh my, I've missed out on a lot. Hilda's battle with Burgh, a ton of stuff with N and learning about new Pokemon, the mystery of Pierre's gibberish, and some new knowledge of Hilbert's past . . . where should I begin?

    First of all, Frank is awesome. Plain and simple, I think he'll be great for N. Second, I'm liking Rune more and more and am really glad that he kept following N. And how much longer must Pricilla follow before he finally reclaims her?!?!

    Next up, I like the connection between Hilbert and Alder. It really is sad that he traded his starter for a Deino that only acted as a symbol of his power. I am glad that Larvesta did wind up finding a great new partner in Alder, so at least the trade was worth it for Larvesta and helped Hilbert come to terms with his own attitude. I also really like Loch and Ember.

    The next thing I love? One word: Solace. Hahahahaha! Why is Ghetsis such a freak? Was having twins whose power he could abuse really part of Ghetsis's master plan all along?

    Pierre! I would really love to find out what he's saying. He sounds like a patient from one episode of House. I can't remember what was wrong with the guy, but he got words mixed up and some random words like "bear" and "table" became replacements for common or key words. I'M TABLED!!!

    And Elesa is a robot, just like Cilan, Chili, and Cress are freaky human-Pokemon children and Burgh is a flying rainbow man. That last part was just implied, but we all know it's there.

    Oh, and Tarzan is awesome. And I miss Fedora. And I want to see Kyurem in a musical. And playing football. And singing and dancing in a musical about football. And you spelled Eelektross wrong. And French Vanillish, that's funny. Solace Harmonia Gropius HAHAHAHAHA!!!

    GOODBYE CASTELIA!!!
    The more I think about it the more I agree. Elesa is a robot. :]
    I have:
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    Heartgold
    White
    Black
    Rumble Blast
    White 2

    I used to liek mudkipz, then I took an arrow in the knee. However the arrow turned out to be a seaking. It yelled "F*** yeah" so I screamed "FUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!". The seaking's face became that of a troll while mine became forever alone. The situation was super effective.

  10. #210
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    Coffee Break

    "This is a pretty slow and quiet section of the story," Hilbert said. "I think this chapter has only minor plot advancements."

    "It's building up to something bigger," N said. "Like with buildings. You can't just skip out on a floor in the middle of a skyscraper." He paused. "Do you think Elesa's a robot?"

    "Well she does work in an amusement park." Hilbert shrugged. "And that'd be a good reason behind the wires."

    "Yeah. You'd think the Electric Pokemon would mess a robot up, but maybe they're really advanced." N looked over the reviews. "So, who's Solace?"

    "Can we start the chapter?" Hilbert asked, starting to turn pink.


    Chapter 28: How to Flirt


    1/31, afternoon

    It was cold and snowy, just how it had been ever since Hilbert came back home nearly two weeks ago. As he'd been feeling well, he wanted to get back on the road. There were some things to do, and his uncle had already gone back to his 'job' in Plasma. But before he went, he wanted a Pokemon capable of getting him around quickly with Fly. So he was out here in the foot deep snow, searching for one that could be taught such a move. He still had an HM of it with his gear.

    He was having a tough time of it, though. The Rufflets around here managed to be stronger than Madeline, so the Litwick had been knocked out twice now. While he had two other Pokemon, they were definitely not ready to handle these birds. And the three times that he had used a Pokeball, the Pokemon had broken free and gotten out of the fight. They didn't want to work with him.

    Why did the Pokemon population out here have to be so tough? Hilbert needed to get to a more laid back area, like Route 1 and 2, in order to start working with his Alomomola and Larvesta. The Pokemon here seemed to have some need to be high leveled before they came out to seek Trainers. Because of that, they were notoriously picky about being captured.

    “Please, I know I suck now, but I want the chance to prove myself better,” Hilbert said to the flock of Rufflets that had settled into the snowy field for the winter. “I've been spoiled much too long and now that I'm on my own, there's not many that I can rely on while I try to get the favor of Reshiram. Would one of you please help me in what I must do?”

    He'd been trying to listen to Pokemon, but he'd made little progress in understanding them. The three in his team he was starting to figure out better, but these wild ones were still unclear. Because of that, he only knew the Rufflets were mocking him by the way Madeline's blue flame flared and her eyes narrowed. The way they cawed and shook their neck ruffs didn't mean much to him.

    Maybe his Litwick had stood up for him, because most of them flew away without warning. However, one stayed behind and approached them. It clawed through the snow and puffed its chest up. That was a boast, wasn't it? It seemed boastful. What Hilbert did know what that this Rufflet wanted him to explain more. About Reshiram?

    “Hang on, I think I get it,” he said, opening up his bag. He pulled out the Light Stone. Strangely, it was still heavy and cool. “This is Reshiram's hibernating form. I have it because I'm trying to prove my dedication to the truth. At first, I wanted to awaken him because I didn't like people who lied to me. But I've found out that things aren't as I thought. I just want to know what the truth is now.” He put the Stone back into his bag. “I want some Pokemon to help me, especially one who can fly like you. I had to start over completely. Would you consider helping me out?”

    The Rufflet cawed, but held its ruff and head down. Then it stretched back up and spread its wings out, a sign that it wanted a test battle. At his side, Madeline swayed some in a positive reaction.

    Hilbert nodded. “All right. Madeline, Minimize.”

    After taking a few hops away from him, the Litwick compressed her body, to make herself a smaller target. The Rufflet hopped into the air and stirred up a warm dry breeze. That was Defog; he'd seen it used on TV before. But seeing it in person made Hilbert feel a little odd. That breeze seemed to pass right through his clothes and into his body, a touch of power from the Rufflet. Why was he feeling that?

    Madeline called out to him, breaking out of his thoughts as the Rufflet followed up with Air Slash, a potent version of the move that knocked Madeline onto her side. Thankfully, she hopped back upright, breathing a little heavily from the damage. “Confuse it,” Hilbert said, feeling that would be the safe option.

    She sent an erratically moving flame at the Rufflet, muddling with his senses. That gave them a couple of safe moments to attack it (although he had her only risk one Inferno, because she might knock it out) and increase her evasiveness again before Hilbert picked out a new Pokeball and activated it. After it captured the Rufflet, the Pokeball landed in a snowbank. Hilbert waited for a moment. When nothing happened, he went over to dig it out and claim his new Rufflet.

    It turned out to be a male, so he nicknamed him Regal. Between Regal and Madeline, he could easily reach Opelucid on foot without wild Pokemon forcing him back. And if he had the two young Pokemon observe, they ought to become ready to battle themselves quicker. Although he still wanted to start them in a different area.

    Since he had already prepared to leave, Hilbert only needed to go by the Pokecenter to heal up his team. The nurse had cups of coffee and cocoa up for sale, raising money for some charity fund. He decided to take advantage of that and bought a drink for his thermos, as some hot coffee while traveling the snowy routes would be good. While he was chatting with the nurse, he got the feeling that someone wanted his attention. He worried for a moment that it was Banshee, but then it wasn't near as intense. This someone wanted him to recognize her.

    Well, now he didn't have unnatural charisma to fall back on if he didn't remember who this person was. Hilbert glanced over at the girl as he closed up his thermos. It was a young woman, probably about his age, with long dark green hair and a jean coat with leather fringe. At first, he couldn't think of how he'd recognize her, but then he noticed a small doll hanging from her travel bag. It was of Keldeo, but it had a doll-sized cowboy hat attached to it. That was familiar, enough that he could remember her name.

    “Hey, is that you Tabby?” he asked. Her name was actually Tabitha, but back when they had been kids, everyone called her Tabby.

    She looked at him, then grinned. “Oh, hi Hilbert! My gosh, it's been so long since I've seen you in person. I'm amazed that you would recognize me.”

    “Well it's the doll more than anything else,” he admitted, smiling. “You've changed a lot since I left.”

    Fortunately, she was amused by this. “Yes, I still have my buddy,” she said, patting her Keldeo doll. “Always have and probably always will. But I knew it was you over there. I've been following talk of your adventures online, but then they stopped all of a sudden a little while ago. What's with that?”

    “It's a long story,” he said. “What are you doing these days?”

    “Well I started to travel around with my small Pokemon team, hoping that I might be able to find Keldeo itself. That would be amazing, although I'm afraid that won't happen. I mean, it all sounds really easy when you watch the challengers on TV, but then in order to get really good Pokemon, you have to trek out hours into the wilderness. It's such a hassle, but they say that the Pokemon who hang around towns are weaker.”

    “You can always train up a weaker Pokemon to be strong,” Hilbert pointed out.

    She shrugged. “I only have a year off, not even that long due to how much work it'll be getting accepted to a university. Getting one of them up to a competent level seems to take forever. But I'm headed for Opelucid right now, to meet up with some friends.”

    Tabby had been one of his childhood friends, so he thought this might be a chance to see how she was doing. “Really? I'm headed there myself, for some research. Mind if I travel there with you today?”

    She squealed and hugged him. “Great, I'd love that! We can talk about our engagement.”

    Engagement? What was she talking about? And would this lead to trouble again? “Wh-what are you talking about? I haven't seen you since we were kids.”

    Then she laughed and let him go. “You're still cute when embarrassed. Aw, don't you remember? One time I asked you if you'd marry me when we grew up, and you said okay if you didn't have someone else. We were six.”

    “I don't remember that,” Hilbert said. Him being six seemed too long ago. “Sorry.”

    “But I've been waiting for you.” Tabby smirked. “Well, that's not the whole truth of it, but I don't have a boyfriend right now. Do you have a girlfriend?”

    “Not really,” he said, since he still wasn't sure about Hilda. But then, this girl was paying attention to him, and he had that feeling again of not wanting to lose this light. Maybe he could see the truth better through this. “Are you going to hold me to a childhood marriage promise?”

    She shrugged. “Maybe, maybe not. I'm ready to go, and you?” Since he was, they left the Pokecenter and headed west.

    Route 11 was a path along uneven ground, where many cliffs dropped off to several levels, leading to spectacular waterfalls on the way. The falls were weak right now due to ice and snow clogging up the rivers. Thankfully, someone was keeping the ice off the wooden bridges so that the walk was not as treacherous as it could have been. There were many bare trees and brown grasses on this route, housing a number of strong Pokemon. But by combining their teams, Hilbert and Tabby didn't have much trouble from the wild battles.

    On the way, they talked and caught up on each other's lives. Tabby had opted to continue formal schooling, but she was taking a year off before starting up university classes next fall. She was in the Pokemon League, although she didn't think she was doing that well. However, her main purpose was bonding with her Pokemon so that they could help her out better in school. She was still indecisive on what degree she was after, either crime investigation or something in the legal fields.

    And he told her some of what he had been dealing with lately, although he avoided mentioning Hilda specifically. “Does it bother you that it was a supernatural reason you liked me before rather that just a normal one?” he asked her. “Some people have said no, but I don't know if they're just trying to make me feel better.”

    Tabby crossed her arms over her chest, thinking. “It's hard to say. Cause yeah, if you have been using Attract intentionally to make people like you, that'd be horrible. It makes me wonder how much I really knew you back then. You are a lot different than I remember.”

    “In a bad way?”

    She smiled and patted his arm. “You're being too harsh on yourself, I think. You seem to be doing the right thing. Hey, do you want to hang out with me for the afternoon? I don't have to meet up with my other friends until evening.” She did want to make him more than a childhood sweetheart with this.

    He still had to talk with Hilda, he remembered. But that thought didn't last long, as she wasn't here and Tabby was. “Sure, that'll be fine. It'd certainly be more fun to be around someone like you.”

    Delighted with that, Tabby giggled. “And now that you're not attracting everyone, I've got you all to myself. Want me to be a creepy stalker?”

    “No!” Hilbert said, feeling a chill in his blood. She just laughed harder, so it must have been a joke. He laughed a little in embarrassment.

    When he had been a kid, Giallo had occasionally brought him to Opelucid for shopping that they couldn't get done back on the bridge. It had always looked so old, with wooden houses, brick streets, and neat flower gardens. Visiting it now, it was still old-fashioned in some areas but technology was making a strong bid to take it over. Alongside the quaint century-old houses made of wood and brick, there were new houses built of synthetic materials that prized efficiency and modernity. One house still proudly held onto oil lamps by its door while the house next to it had colorful LED lights to light its walkway. And at least one brick street had been pulled out in favor of a modern asphalt road with stylish modern streetlights and a row of convenient vending machines. The least they could have done was try to blend the old and new, Hilbert thought as he walked along its streets.

    “One thing I don't like about traveling is how tough it is to keep my clothes clean,” Tabby said “I hope they have good clothing stores here, or I might just have to take a subway to Castelia. Although with the way this winter is going, keeping ice-free and dry is also a hassle.”

    “That's not much trouble,” Hilbert said. Then, feeling that she'd want something more reaffirming, he added, “You're pretty enough that most people wouldn't notice.”

    “No, you're the one who would dazzle anyone in any condition,” she teased him. “And I suppose you wouldn't care, being a guy.”

    He wouldn't dazzle anymore, and he didn't like being reminded of that. But he didn't want to get her mad at him either. “Hey, a guy can care about how he looks, right?”

    “I suppose so. It's nice when you find one who really cares.” And one who cared about being romantic; that's what her desires said. She would like him to sweep her off her feet in a real life romance tale.

    But that made Hilbert feel uncomfortable. What was he doing? Did he really want to live by appealing to what other people wanted? He could imagine getting tied down to someone like Tabby and not being able to back out of it because she didn't want that. But the light that came from her, he definitely didn't want to lose that.

    Thankfully, someone interrupted them by calling out, “Tabitha! What are you doing here early?”

    She turned around and waved at a pair of girls approaching them. “Hey girls! I should ask you the same thing. I thought you weren't going to get here until evening.”

    “We were thinking that too,” one of them said.

    “Although we wouldn't want to interrupt if you're walking around with your boyfriend,” the other teased.

    Tabby laughed. “It's not like that! This is Hilbert, you know? The famous guy I've known since we were kids.”

    That increased their interest in him. “Oh really? Wow, I never got a chance to meet you. What are you doing hanging around her?” She shook his hand and, for a moment, she would have liked things to turn romantic too. As did the third girl. But although they didn't feel it yet, going after one would cause jealousy in the other two.

    If he still had Attract, he might be able to win all three girls by that night. In the past, he would have done it. But Hilbert didn't think he could manage that now, and it embarrassed him that it had been his first thought on that. “Just catching up with an old friend, you know,” he said, then shook hands with the other girl just to be fair. “But if you had things to do with Tabby, I could leave you girls to it. I have things to do here myself.”

    “Well if you have to go,” Tabby said. However she didn't seem disappointed in that he was going. She still wanted to be his friend at least. “You have my number now, so call me sometime, okay?”

    “Sure, I might do that,” he said. “See you around.” Then he headed off towards where the hospital was.

    It wasn't long before he heard, “Don't call me that!”, causing laughter from all three girls. Maybe she was going by Tabitha more often these days, but didn't mind her old nickname being used. And that parting had not only left behind the issue of trying to appease her wants, but also left some positive feelings with him in that their friendship was still there. There was probably a trick to all this, like using simpler wants to please someone else, but ignoring complex ones that would bog him down.

    While on his way, no one paid particular attention to him, and nobody wanted to stop him for something. It still felt dark compared to how it had been. But no, this had to be what was truly normal: people keeping their thoughts to themselves to get through their day. He looked down at the sidewalk, but felt with his mind to see how things were. In general, there was a positive feeling in this city. People wanted, but not in a strong manner. Most were satisfied with life.

    “Now I have to figure out how to be satisfied with my life,” he whispered to himself. At least he was getting one thing he really wanted accomplished, and that was finding out about his past.

    He made his way to the maternity area of the hospital. It was a bright and sunny place, which had the appearance of having been redone recently: the peach and pale yellow paints, the shiny metal handles, the speckled tile floors, they all had the look of new things. At the nurse's station, there were two women and a man there, discussing things. “Hi, can we help you?” one of the women asked, coming closer to the desk when she saw him.

    “I'd better go to my area and clock in,” the male nurse said, waving before leaving.

    Hilbert went over to the desk. “Yeah, I'd like to know if I can check the birth records. I think I was born here.”

    “We'll see what we can do,” she said. “Do you have a birth certificate from the hospital?”

    “No, because I was abandoned as an infant and my adopted parent couldn't find birth records for me.” Even though he was living only one town over. Maybe there was some legal issue complicating things.

    That might have been it, as the nurse had to think about that. “I see. Then would you come with me for a few minutes? I'd like to run a DNA test on you and see if you match any records.”

    He agreed to that and went with her to an examination room, where she took a sample from his mouth. Once that was deciphered by the computer there, it checked the hospital records for a match. As he thought, it came up with a match to the name Solace Harmonia Gropius; he had already told the nurse the name he preferred to use.

    “In this case, I can make a copy of your birth certificate,” she said.

    He nodded, but stepped closer to see what was on the screen. “That would help. Actually, I was wondering if I could talk to someone who knew my parents. From what research I've been able to do, my mother died not that long after I was born.”

    “Really?” the nurse said, shocked. “That's a terrible thing. Let me check here...” she looked through the records.

    “I know. I really wanted to know more about her in particular, because I know where to find my father. Kind of.”

    She nodded in acknowledgment, but then looked puzzled. “This is odd... I was hoping that a nurse would still be around to speak to you, because I know of a few who've worked here for even longer than that. But it looks like the ones who worked with her are no longer employed here, and I don't recognize them. Looks like Dr. Umber didn't work here for long either, just three months.”

    Umber... he'd have to remember that name. “That was the doctor at the delivery?”

    “Yes, and the one who cared for her while she was here. Oh, and it looks like you have a twin brother.”

    “I know,” Hilbert said. “Well thanks for confirming things, at least.”

    “Wait, you know,” the nurse put in an order to re-issue the birth certificate, then smiled at him. “I might be able to find you some pictures, if that helps.”

    Pictures? He hadn't been able to find good ones in his search so far; the obituary for Stacy Gropius didn't include a photo, and neither did the birth announcement. “Yeah, that'd be great. Thank you.”

    He went with her to a utilities room, where a wall full of filing cabinets held onto hard copies of documents. They had to search for the right year, then go through several folders of photos that had been kept for one reason or another. But they managed to find three photos taken after he and N had been born.

    Their mother was in all three of them. Stacy seemed to be a tall woman, with a similar kind of body structure to N. She had dark brown hair that was straight like straw, like how Hilbert's tended to be. At the moment of these pictures, she seemed to be quite happy, tired in the earliest one but still happy. She also looked healthy, not like she would die in less than a week.

    In contrast, Ghetsis was in none of the photos.

    -+-

    1/31, evening

    N sat on the hotel bed, observing the Dark Stone in his lap. Ever since he'd removed it from Twist Mountain, it hadn't sparked again. It was a heavy thing, cool and smooth to the touch. It had been a month now since he and Hilbert had spoken to Reshiram. How were they to get news of what the dragons thought of them? Would the stones glow again, or even speak? Or was it something they would see in a dream? Or did he just have to wait until he could enter Dragonspiral Tower?

    “It should be doing something,” he said aloud.

    “It's a rock,” his Cubchoo Clara said, putting her white paw on it. Also in the room was Frank the Gothita, who was pacing on a dresser; Allen the Swanna, who was looking at the 'human things' in the room suspiciously; and Glenn the Deerling, who was checking out the window. Glenn was missing one of his small antlers due to a particularly cruel Trainer and Clara was half-blind. Other Trainers would have overlooked the two, but N felt that this would let them feel like they did something important for once. While he didn't know what exactly had happened to the Swanna, he knew that it had been due to an abusive Trainer.

    “It's the hibernating form of Zekrom,” N explained to the Pokemon. “I hoped to have her blessings for my plan to make the world better, so that none of you will have to suffer. Ideally, I could do this on my own, but people are so stubborn.

    “Well she is one of the gods of the world,” Frank said, brushing down the skirt of his dress. It was like silk cloth, made of natural fibers the Gothitas created without knowing how exactly they did it. “She'll answer in her own time. Well since you aren't hearing from her, what are we doing tonight?”

    “I don't know,” N said. “We did a lot of training today.”

    “I'm tired,” Glenn said “I'd rather just sleep.”

    “It was brutal,” Allen grumbled, hiding his head under his wing.

    On the dresser, Frank shrugged and turned to them. “I wouldn't say it was that bad. In that case, how about we go out and do something fun? N, we could go pick up a girl for you tonight.”

    “Why?” he asked, not sure what this was about.

    “Do you have to go and make him do that?” Allen said, lowering his wing to show his eyes. “Humans are cruel despicable creatures, except for him, and you shouldn't be throwing him into a situation like that.”

    The Gothita crossed his arms over his chest. “You're biased. Besides, when this great separation of humans and Pokemon comes about in the future, he's going to be with the humans cause that's what he is. So he has to know how to deal with them, especially when it comes to something as vital as choosing and attracting a mate.”

    That was the point to the suggestion? N blushed and stammered, “B-but that's not important to my mission.”

    “It is important in general,” Glenn said. “Especially since what I've seen of what humans do seems to take so long. I just have to win a fight or two to get a female's attention, when that time comes around. I hope my antlers grow back properly for it.”

    The Swanna agreed with that by putting his wings back. “When you put it that way, I suppose he won't be able to avoid it in the future. But shouldn't another male human be teaching him that stuff, not us?”

    “Probably,” Frank admitted. “Has someone showed you how to attract a female?”

    “Not exactly,” N said. “I mean, I know about that kind of thing, but they never told me how to get a woman to like you.”

    The Gothita snapped his fingers. “Well you ought to start somewhere. I know some of how humans go about courting. Besides, what harm could it do?”

    N was worried about going into something like this not knowing exactly what to do, but since the Pokemon seemed to think it was important for him to learn, he agreed to try. Frank first had him do a touch-up shave, including using some lotion from a sample bottle he had found. While it had a powerful scent when N opened the bottle, he figured that a little would go a long ways. Then he had to make sure that he had clean clothes and that his winter gear wasn't messy in any way. He left the hotel then, allowing most of his Pokemon to go off and enjoy the night on their own. He and Frank went to the Driftveil Marketplace.

    “This seems like a good place for people to be,” Frank said as they entered, from where he was perched on N's shoulder. “Now what kind of female do you want to go after?”

    Looking around at the open air market, this did seem like a good place to be. There were a lot of people milling about, including many around his age. There were still some fruit and vegetable stands, but most had switched over to other sales like Pokeball Seals, accessories for both humans and Pokemon, handmade items, and imported goods. Some people were shopping, but some were just chatting. Overhead, electric lights and fans kept the place bright and warm.

    “I don't really know,” he said.

    Frank poked the side of N's head. “Well then look around at them and see which one is pretty in your eyes. Then go over and greet her. And make sure to give her a compliment to make her happy.”

    That seemed simple enough. Although, 'pretty' was a subjective word and he hadn't given any thought as to what would make one pretty. N guessed that it had something to do with having good proportions aesthetically. Some of the girls here were dressed up moderately, prepared more for the cold outside than trying to look impressive. Some others didn't even bother trying, like one red-haired girl who had muddy snow pants and a fraying coat. As the latter kind might not be interested, he decided to try one that had a neat appearance. The particular one had wavy dark brown hair and wore a yellow coat with white trim.

    “Good evening,” he said to her. “How are you doing?”

    “Good pick,” Frank whispered. “She has nice breasts.”

    In response, the girl gave him a sharp look. “Do I know you?”

    N felt nervous at her reaction, but the Gothita encouraged him on. “No, but we could know each other,” he said. When she narrowed her eyes at him, he smiled in defense. “Right?”

    “Why are you even talking to me?” she asked.

    “Uh,” he needed to say something, although what that something should be... oh right, a compliment. “Because you have nice breasts.”

    She very nearly slapped in the face for that, maybe only stopping because she might hit Frank. N stepped back, feeling his spine tingle in fright. After a second, she snorted. “Weirdo.” Then she stomped away through the crowd.

    “I'm sorry,” he tried to say to her, although the girl in the yellow coat didn't give any indication of hearing it. “This isn't working out too well.”

    “Eh, she was in a bad mood,” Frank said. “You can't give up after only failing once. And we have learned something, right? That compliments about breasts probably won't work.”

    “True,” N said, focusing a moment on calming down. He tried to find another girl, hopefully not in a bad mood too.

    There was one nice looking girl nearby, but she was holding hands with another guy; probably not a good idea to try her. At a booth that was selling warm drinks, there were a pair of girls talking to each other and a third who was walking off. Well if he tried to talk to the pair, he had two chances of getting one's attention. N went up to the booth and ordered a hot tea for himself and a small juice for Frank.

    “How do you get your Pokemon to sit there nicely?” someone asked him. When he looked aside, it turned out to be one of the two girls he had been going to talk to. “I tried training a Pidove to do that, but he wouldn't sit still and kept dropping on me.”

    “Well for a Pidove, it can't help doing that,” N said. “I didn't really train him to do this. He wanted to, so I let him.”

    “I get to see better in a crowd when on your shoulder,” Frank said, shifting his pose some.

    “No way, that's a male Pokemon?” the other girl asked. “He's just so adorable that it doesn't seem right.”

    N glanced at the Gothita; he seemed to be acting cutesy while sipping at his juice. “They don't live with our gender expectations. He's perfectly normal for his kind.”

    “It's still weird. At least some kinds of Pokemon are only the gender they look like.”

    “The Pokemon can't help the way they are,” N said, their attitude grating against him. “We ought to respect that.”

    Frank nudged him again. “Hey, don't get into politics.”

    “Geez, they aren't people,” one of the girls said.

    “Yeah, they can't think right,” the other said.

    “Some humans can't think right either,” Frank said, indignant.

    “You should be more understanding,” N said, then left them. Those two weren't worth the effort.

    “They were jerks, yeah, but if you're trying to attract a female, don't start talking about politics,” Frank repeated. “That's boring.”

    “That wasn't politics, that was philosophy,” he said. “Politics is the study of how people organize into a group and make decisions as a whole. Philosophy is the study of knowledge and understanding. The question of if humans and Pokemon think differently or similarly is a philosophical one, although I suppose it could get into biochemistry too.”

    “For me, politics covers anything boring that few people would talking willingly about just for itself,” Frank said. “The only reason to talk about it is if it makes me right and puts me in a more powerful position.”

    “That's a rather egocentric view.”

    “That's good, right? Cause that means my ego is at the center of things, as it should be.”

    “I don't think you know what you're talking about,” N said. But as he looked for another girl to talk to, he noticed that people were looking at him in disdain. Was it a bad thing to be talking with a Pokemon out in public? But that view had to be wrong. They claimed to like and appreciate Pokemon, so why would it be wrong to talk to one? It was that corrupt social model that the world had going on right now, the one he had to change.

    “I do too,” the Pokemon insisted. “Now how about you try again.”

    “How long do I keep trying? This isn't pleasant.”

    He put a hand on his chin. “Well that's only cause you've not succeeded. You keep trying until you get a kiss. Then I'm sure you'll see the point behind all this.”

    Although N didn't think even that would help, there was still much of the evening left to spend. He spotted the girl that had been walking away earlier; she wore a long black coat and had blond hair with red tips. It was an odd choice for coloring, but maybe it was done to get attention. Despite that, she was sitting out of the way, almost out of sight of most here. Did she want to be approached or not?

    Only one way to find out for sure. N went over to where she was. “Hello,” he said, smiling and trying to look pleasant. “Nice hair.”

    She smiled back, but smugly. “And what of it?”

    Now what? He tried, “And I thought it might help in talking to you if I said so.”

    “Cute try, but I don't think you're worthy of me,” she replied, rolling her eyes and sitting back.

    Not worthy? N had no clue that there was a factor of worthiness involved. But then as he thought on it, he'd seen some Pokemon attempts at courting fail because the courting one was deemed not worthy at the time. But this fast? “What do you mean?”

    “Obviously, you don't care about Pokemon properly,” she said, still smug. “Otherwise you wouldn't be a Trainer and forcing that Gothita around with you.”

    “Oh please,” Frank said, snorting.

    “He's with me because he wants to be, and he also wants to be right here,” N explained, patting him lightly on the head. “And that's fine.”

    “It's not going to be that way much longer when Plasma succeeds.”

    “I know that.” Feeling like he should prove himself, he took the cord around his neck and pulled out the Black King's Stone from under his coat. “I made Plasma what it is; this is just part of my current mission to have him along.”

    When she saw that, her eyes went wide and her face went pale. “Oh my gosh, you... I hadn't seen you up close, and so I didn't think... I, I'm sorry, my lord, I just... sorry.” Then she got out of the chair and fled the marketplace; he momentarily saw that she was crying, but she went too fast for him to catch up with Frank on his shoulder.

    The Gothita put his hands in his lap. “Wow, you could have really turned that situation to your advantage if we'd known she was a supporter of yours in the first place! But then, she was haughty at first, so it's better that we saw how she really was up front. Maybe you ought to try flirting among them.” He elbowed N in the ear.

    “That may be improper. Of course, I don't if this is also improper.”

    “But you're in charge. Don't worry about it.” Then he nudged N. “And don't try that one. That one's actually a male.”

    N was momentarily puzzled, as he'd been looking at a woman (or what he thought was a woman) with curling black hair and a very feminine shape. He was even wearing a long red dress under a white fuzzy coat that made it look like he had breasts. Although it didn't actually show any, just hinted at it. “People out here can be strange,” he said quietly.

    “My lord,” a quiet female voice said at his side. “What are you doing here?”

    Tensing, N looked over at a pale face that had her eyes obscured by thick white hair. This person had a black coat, black gloves, black boots, and black pants. Oh, it was one of the Shadow Triad. Relaxing, he turned to her. “I don't have an appointment with the Gym until tomorrow and most of the Pokemon with me were too tired to train. Frank suggested I try socializing for a while.”

    “You must be careful,” she said.

    “Whoa, creepy girl,” Frank said, nudging closer to N.

    N hadn't considered that, but maybe they seemed that way to others. If one went by voice, then there were two females and one male in the group. Otherwise, it was difficult to tell them apart. Their body shape wasn't entirely masculine or feminine, their faces were obscured and pale, and they concealed themselves in dull clothing that blended into the shadows extremely well. N knew that he had nothing to fear from or around them.

    She went on, “That was an agent of Plasma, albeit a foolish one. But someone else may try taking advantage of your position. Your mission is also more important than such frivolity.”

    He flinched at being reminded of that. “The Pokemon seemed to think it was important. But I don't mind letting it go. What are you doing here?”

    “We've been reassigned to be your guardians now, since you disapproved of Valerie and Carol. They have been taken care of. We're still bound to follow your orders. Call on us when you need it.”

    “What do I call you?” N asked. He'd never gotten to know the Triad's individual names.

    “Just call us.” She then vanished from the spot, only showing a minor distortion to N's eyes before not being there at all.

    “Did she have to speak in such an emotional monotone?” Frank asked, rubbing his head. “She makes my mind feel weird.”

    “They've always been that way, as long as I've known them,” N said. “But they're very reliable.”

    Since he wasn't succeeding in impressing any female humans, N left the marketplace and headed for the riverside, to look for wild Pokemon to talk to. But ever since the day he'd picked up Frank, he had once again run into just a few wild Pokemon. He found none that night.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

  11. #211
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    Holy cow, there have been a ton of good and funny chapters, but that's one of the first that made me laugh out loud. Hilbert's "engagement" was kind of funny, but the really great part was Frank acting as N's wingman. That's just weird that the breast compliments wouldn't work. Who wouldn't feel flattered by that? I really really hope that Frank sticks around. I want him to be the third perma-member with Pricilla and Rune, with the hope that they too eventually return.
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  12. #212
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    Chapter 29: How to Spark a Feud

    2/1, afternoon

    A buzzer sounded, sending the Vanillish into a panic. “All visitors, please clear the field,” an overhead speaker said. “The Large Stadium is scheduled to have focused practice for the indoors soccer team, without public access. All visitors please clear the field.”

    Hilda ran after her Pokemon. “Pierre, it's okay,” she said. “It's just trying to get our attention.”

    Shuddering, he started to build up his mist again. He usually did so when feeling scared.

    “Let's at least get out of here before that buzzer returns,” she said.

    That worked, as the Vanillish followed her off the field, back to the teleporter that led to the lobby. It was something of a peculiar feature, in that they let access that way instead of through doors. Then again, it was harder to sneak through a teleporter than through a door. Once outside, Pierre didn't seem any less nervous, so she recalled him to his Pokeball and considered what to do now. There was apparently a town that could only be reached by taking the subway from Nimbasa; that could be interesting, but it was said they had a swap meet every weekend, so it wouldn't be the best day.

    She wondered how Hilbert was doing. He hadn't contacted her yet, so either he was still feeling bad or he'd gotten busy somehow. In which case, he ought to be told to relax. Hilda decided to call him, so she went to the lobby of a hotel to be out of the cold snowy outdoors. Kyurem was with her as usual, although he wasn't speaking much today.

    After a couple of rings, Hilbert answered. From the background, he seemed to be in a Pokecenter. “Hi Hilda. How's it going?”

    She grinned. “Great, except that it's so cold. How're you? Better?”

    “Lots better,” he said, rubbing the side of his head. “Well enough that I've started traveling around again. I'm in Opelucid, looking up some things.”

    “Ah, good luck with that.”

    “Thanks.” Then he smiled. “So what are you calling for?”

    “Oh, just because,” Hilda replied. “And I hadn't heard from you since I saw you in the hospital. I kept thinking about calling you, but then I wondered if you were going to call or message me somehow.”

    “Sorry about that; I got caught up in things, like my two eggs hatching.”

    New Pokemon did need a lot of attention sometimes. Back when Hilda had helped out Professor Juniper with an egg project, there had been a Deerling which had been bounding around play fighting within a couple hours of hatching, as well as a Lillipup that hadn't done much of anything for the first week of its life. “That's understandable. What've you got now?”

    “An Alomomola and a Larvesta. Plus a Rufflet I caught just yesterday. Here, check this out.” He shifted his Xtransciver so that she could see a fluffy brown bird spreading his wings out, apparently playing with a large pink fish that was swimming around teasing him.

    “Aw, that's cute,” Hilda said, chuckling.

    “I did manage to see your match against Burgh,” Hilbert said, reshifting the unit so the screen showed him. “That was interesting to see Kyurem battle, but that was a cheap shot.”

    She laughed, pleased to hear it. “Wasn't it? But the whole thing was to get noticed for it.”

    He looked puzzled, a bit concerned. “Really?”

    She nodded. “Yeah, because Plasma seems to be recreating local myths so that people will want to follow them. But I came out and outdid them before they had fully revealed things. I hope it did mess them up.”

    “Possibly, but won't you get in trouble?”

    Settling into the couch, Hilda was satisfied with it. “I'm already in trouble. At least this way, people will raise a fuss if they threaten me.”

    “Huh, I guess that is one way to use popularity,” Hilbert said, pausing a moment to think.

    “What are you doing now that you can travel again?”

    “I'm looking for information about my mother,” he said. “I got a break a couple of days ago that I thought would reveal everything, but there's another obstacle in that there's hardly any information about her around. I was able to confirm her identity through blood tests, but it doesn't help that she died just a few days after we were born.”

    “That's sad,” then his wording triggered a thought, “Huh, we?”

    He looked surprised. “Oh, I hadn't told you about it earlier? I thought I did, but my mind was on other things that day. N is my twin brother; he had the extra information that I needed to find out who our parents are, but I haven't got back to him on it.”

    Over in another chair, Kyurem lifted his head, attentive to the conversation now. It was something unexpected... but maybe it shouldn't have been. “Really? But you two don't look much alike!”

    “Well we're fraternal twins,” he said. “Which means that Ghetsis is also my father, which stinks.”

    “Oh yeah, that would. Did you hear that my father turned out to be in Plasma too? His name is Rood.”

    “Really? Huh, that's weird. And my uncle's also in Plasma.” He paused, looking bothered. “You don't suppose that this was all intentional?”

    Hilda frowned. “I hope not, because that would be creepy. But can you see how they're trying to invoke myth?”

    He nodded. “Yeah. Maybe it's better if I step out of all this. That would break up what... no, not quite, because N is determined. He's Plasma leader, you see.”

    “Yeah, he told me himself,” she said. “They've been infuriating, really, but I can't be mad at him. But you know, maybe the two of us can talk him out of it, and the rest of them will follow. He really believes, but I think he might listen if we had a compelling argument.”

    “True. I keep thinking that maybe he'll run into some genuinely happy Pokemon with humans and that'll reveal the holes in his argument. And... well N has invited me to go visit Plasma headquarters so he can tell me more about what his beliefs are about.”

    “And I've had Kyurem translating between me and Pokemon. We should put our information together and make up a plan,” Hilda suggested. “See, you're in a good spot, where you can go into Plasma without committing to joining and get information no one else can. Meanwhile, I have connections to the Gym Leaders and the Pokemon League now, and they do know more. I'm sure they'd be willing to help us out if we exchange information with them.”

    Hilbert looked impressed at that. “Right, they would be concerned. I'm afraid that I've already promised that I won't tell where their headquarters is, but it's just that information and nothing else. It's a risk, but that could stop things.”

    “Yeah.”

    “Does he have the White King's Stone?” Kyurem asked.

    “What was that?” Hilbert asked.

    Hilda repeated the question for him. “Kyurem wants to know; he's been listening in, but no one else is here at the moment.”

    “Yes, I have it. I picked it up in the ruins of Desert Resort about a month ago.”

    She grinned. “Cool, so you are a king now too.”

    “I don't know about that,” he said, blushing a little. “I just have the King's Stone, and the Light Stone. I haven't been fully accepted by Reshiram yet. Actually, he said we had to give them a month to consider things, and it has been a month. I haven't heard anything from him yet.”

    “Give them another two weeks before you get really concerned,” Kyurem said.

    Hilda relayed that, just in case. “We should meet up sometime after you visit N. That should give you time to figure out what you want to do.”

    “Right. Um, Hilda?”

    “What?”

    “I hope you're not disappointed at me not saying anything, after what happened in Castelia that night. I'm having some trouble figuring out what I want.” He bit his lip and momentarily looked away from the screen.

    “I was more worried if you weren't getting better,” she said. “And I thought you had the power to know what people want.”

    He nodded. “I do, but that's only other people. It's like you can't see your own face except in a mirror, and I don't have a mirror for what I want. I'm pretty sure that I'm confusing getting favorable attention for, well, everything, now that it's not blaring at me.”

    “Well what's important to you?” Maybe she could help him talk through it.

    “I always thought honesty and truth were important. Fame too, but it might not be that important.” He struggled for a moment to think of something. “I really don't know beyond that.”

    “Maybe friends? I always thought helping my friends was important.”

    “I don't know if I’ve really had friends before,” he said sadly. “Well there's you now, I think.”

    “Of course,” she said, hoping to cheer him up. “And I'll help you like any other friends I have, you know. Always got to stick up for your buddies.”

    That worked, as he smiled. “That's good. I'll do the same for you. Although, I’m still not sure about dating again. I hope you don't mind.”

    “Nah, that's okay,” she said, shifting how she was sitting. A few people came out of the elevator and walked out the front door, but didn't seem to be eavesdropping. “I don't really want to get into that yet either, cause I want to be free to travel around and do lots of other stuff. If any boy wanted to fall in love with me, he'd have to be willing to travel.”

    Hilbert chuckled at that. “I was the same way, actually. Always on the move no matter what some of the girls wanted otherwise. You mean to just travel around Unvoa?”

    She shook her head. “Nah. Maybe for now, but I'll go out and see other regions someday. You made Hoenn sound really awesome.”

    “That's cause it is,” he said, seeming upbeat again. That was a lot better than getting him sad; Hilda was glad she managed that. “There's just so much diversity in the landscapes that sometimes you have to wonder if you're still in the same region, even if you've only been traveling for a day. You'd want to get a Pokemon that can use Surf though, if you have any intentions of seeing the eastern half.”

    “You want to show me around there?” she asked teasingly.

    “Maybe,” he said, then turned a little more serious. “Hey Hilda? Have you kissed anyone before me?”

    “Yes,” she said without hesitation. At his look, she giggled. “What? It was a guy I dated for a little bit last summer, but it didn't work out cause he was lying about things. But I didn't do much more than that kiss.”

    “Oh, well at least you didn't lie about that,” Hilbert said, turning a little pink.

    They talked for a little while longer, agreeing to meet up again later on.

    -+-

    N stood by a large red pillar of the suspension bridge. Nearby, the Swanna he'd nicknamed Allen landed on the railing. He was free now, along with the Cubchoo and the Deerling. While the other two had not argued against being released in the places they were caught, they both seemed greatly saddened at parting. It still made him feel bad, so he felt strongly that he should just keep walking down the bridge at this point.

    But then Allen spoke up. “Then you're going back on your mission?”

    “Yes, of course,” N said. “Thank you for your help.”

    The Swanna dipped his head. “Thank you for taking me.”

    That was puzzling. “Really? But I had such trouble convincing you to come.”

    “That's because I thought all humans were bastards,” he said. “My mother had told me years ago that someday I might find a human friend who would take me in and ask for my help, and that I should help my friend because we might become so close that our hearts would always remember each other. But I had gotten to the point where I thought that was useless dreaming of because it couldn't happen. You though, I’ve only known you for a few days, but I think my heart would always remember you. Will you come by this bridge again?”

    “I might,” he said. He would always remember the Pokemon he'd met. He just wished that it could make him feel happy.

    “I hope I get to see you again, then,” Allen said. “I'll be happy on that day.” Then he flew off over the river.

    Was he implying that he'd be sad until then? N put his hands on the railing and watched the Swanna fly off until he vanished from sight. Then he had to rub his eyes so he didn't start crying. “I hate these days,” he said. “Too many goodbyes.” But he had one more Pokemon to let go, and for that he had to cross the bridge to near Nimbasa.

    It wasn't snowing today; N's boots crunched on salt that had been left to keep ice down. While it discolored the snow, it wasn't as bad as the piles that came up on vehicle bridges. Those turned black in proof of the flawed technology around today. If he knew more, it might be good to try solving that problem. But he had a more important problem to tackle.

    A treacherous thought in his mind wondered if it was as important and pervasive as he thought it was.

    The world was wearing down on him, like Giallo had suggested. He really did need to get out of this for a short time and clear his mind of all these doubts. If he went into Nimbasa, he could take a subway to Opelucid and get back that way. Rune was probably still following him too, so maybe if he had something to give the Sigilyph in exchange for that favor, he could fly him back.

    N headed past the fence and into the forest to let Frank go in the area he had been in, but there was another person there, a girl in a pink coat. “Hilda? What are you doing here?”

    He felt nervous given what happened last time they met (but why should he? He had been right), but she turned and smiled. “Oh, hi N! Fancy meeting you out here. I wanted to train my team in the stadiums, but they're both closed to the public for team practice. So I came out here instead.”

    “And that's dumb because I was going to get the ball in that basket this time,” the Scraggy with her said.

    “What about you?” Hilda asked.

    “I came back here to release a Pokemon,” he said. “I beat Driftveil Gym earlier today.”

    “Really? That's wild. I mean, hasn't it been barely two weeks since you beat Nimbasa? You have to be a really awesome Trainer to make that kind of progress.” She seemed genuinely impressed. And, not still mad at him?

    “You defeated me last time, though,” N said. Although his team had been designed to beat Elesa, so that had given him an advantage in the Gym and a disadvantage against other Trainers like Hilda.

    “Probably cause your team was made to defeat the Gym, not me,” Hilda said, eerily echoing his thoughts. “And hey, I’m sorry about getting mad at you then. You were trying to help, I suppose, but some Plasma folks have been harassing Bianca about Victini and that was strongly in my mind at the time.”

    That made N feel relieved. Maybe he could still win her over and convince her that his views were right. “That shouldn't be happening any more, nor the other incidents of us forcefully taking Pokemon. People should realize the reality of the injustice and choose to do so on their own. I've told them to stop that.”

    “That's great.” Then she smiled. “Oh, and I convinced another person to let his Pokemon go free.”

    She what? That didn't make sense. Why would she convince someone else to do the right thing, but not do so herself? She still had her Pokeball holder next to her Xtransciver on her left arm. “You did?”

    Hilda nodded. “Yeah. I got to thinking about what you said, so I talked Kyurem into acting as a translator for me, so I could question the Pokemon themselves.” Then she explained about how a musician had been accidentally causing his Audino painful headaches because he played in a loud band.

    Good, that was one of those bright points to this rough mission. Too bad it hadn't been N himself to speak to the musician. “That's good. I could forgive someone like him, as it seems like he did end up caring about how his Pokemon felt.”

    “Yeah, he did. But you know,” she waved over at where Nimbasa was, “I've been talking to Pokemon like that most of these past couple of weeks. And all the rest of them seemed pretty happy and healthy in captivity. It was good that we could help the Trainers talk to their Pokemon and solve smaller problems and misunderstandings. That Audino was the only one who was really happier away from her Trainer.”

    “There are much worse cases out there that must be stopped,” N said. “But thanks for your effort. Will you let me help you, then?”

    Disappointingly, she shook her head. “Nah, I'm good. Kyurem's watching over me.”

    N glanced around the wooded area, seeing some Pokemon watching them but not the one he expected. “Yes, but he's not here now.”

    “He's off hunting,” she said, not worried. “He's been more concerned lately, and he's even eaten cooked meat more often so he doesn't have to leave like this. But he really isn't happy like that, so I told him to go on and go.”

    “I'm protecting her now,” the Scraggy said, showing off a fist while keeping his loose skin up with his other hand.

    “So Tarzan here is watching out for me,” Hilda echoed.

    N came closer to her. “But who would protect you from Kyurem? The myths and histories tell us that he is a destructive force that comes to destroy powerful corruption in Unova, but he will destroy a lot more in doing this, forcing everyone to start over. And just look around you.” N grabbed the end of an tree branch and easily snapped it off. It was coated in ice. “This winter has been terribly cold, with more snow and ice than any person living here can remember. It has to be the influence of his being awake.”

    “It might be a passive effect of that,” she admitted. “But I have confidence in him. He told me what he's up to, maybe not all yet but enough that I trust him. Besides, have you seen how he acts around Mimi? That tells me he's not all bad.”

    “If you know,” N started to say, thinking he might get it out of her. But something in his memory called for his attention. “Wait, Mimi? That's the Minccino's name, right?”

    “Yeah, that's her. She came from Kyurem's dreams.”

    Dreams? Those insubstantial visions that haunted a slumbering mind? “Came from his dream? How do you know?”

    She seemed to think it was no big deal. “I was in that dream when she came to the waking world. But she's the only Pokemon that I've had come out of another Pokemon's dream. Mostly it's just berries and little items.”

    “You can see into the dreams of Pokemon?” N asked, now being the one who was amazed at her. That was a power that was mentioned a few times in myth; maybe there was something to the stone pendant she was now wearing after all. “That's incredible.”

    “Actually, it's technology,” she said, patting her bag. “I have a device which was a gift from Dr. Fennel, who's been trying to view and interpret the dreams of Pokemon so that we can better understand them. But I've only really remembered and can figure out three of the dreams I've seen so far, so there's still a lot to do.”

    “I had not expected that technology to be functional yet,” he said, putting his hand to his chin. Seeing the dreams of Pokemon might help. But at this stage, it would be better to work with what he had rather than trying to learn a complex new angle. “But I could see Mimi coming from Kyurem's dreams; that would mean that one myth is true.”

    Hilda raised her eyebrows. “Oh really? Which one?”

    “The one about an old tradition in Opelucid, to bring about spring. It was always seen as a peculiar one, as it didn't fit in with the rest of the tales about Kyurem. But if the Mimi you had came from Kyurem's dreams, it might have some truth to it.”

    “Huh.” Then her eyes brightened. “But you like science, right? Isn't it always that if a scientist has a theory and something goes against that, then the scientist must be willing to admit that the theory is wrong? So if that one story is different from accepted beliefs and Mimi proves that it could likely be true, then the accepted beliefs might be wrong.”

    N bowed his head. “True. But it doesn't mean the idea that Kyurem could be dangerous to you is completely false.”

    “Well thanks for worrying. And hey, I have a great idea! Could I give you a Pokemon to take care of?”

    Give him a Pokemon? What was she planning now? “You want to give me one? But you know that I don't keep them for long.”

    “I know, and I don't mean to sell him to you either. You were right about that, most likely. But this guy,” she pulled one of the Pokeballs off of her holder and enlarged it to release the Pokemon. “This is Pierre; I picked him up in Desert Resort and apparently Kyurem can't understand him.”

    A Vanillish appeared by Hilda's side; his posture suggested anxiety and fear. His black eyes darted around, but soon stared at N. “You have green hair!”

    “I can understand him,” N said.

    Pierre shook himself, sending ice crystals flying. “Time falling like earth-born ashes, no blood here. Why move forward? It lurks yet, swimming through the earth. It was a mirror at the wrong tick. Fear the right tick.”

    N gaped at it for a moment. “On the other hand, no, he's not making sense.”

    “He can make sense about once a day, but that's it,” the Scraggy commented.

    “I saw his dreams once and it was an awful nightmare,” Hilda said. “Very bloody and lots of nonsensical images. I can't really use him on my team, but even without a translator around, I can tell he needs help. There's a chance that Kyurem intimidates him, but you shouldn't. Would you take him and figure out how to help him? If you can; it'd be like a trade.”

    That didn't really work with his mission. He wasn't supposed to keep Pokemon long so as not to hurt them. But, this one was suffering. And Pierre being in a Pokeball would help to keep him close. “I don't know if I could trade, as I only have one now, and I shouldn't...”

    But then an idea came to him. The Gothita was fairly normal and he had already said that he'd probably seek out another person to grow stronger with. Like with Victini, N could let him go, but couldn't guarantee that he'd stay free since he didn't want that. Then there was how happy and loyal Hilda's Pokemon were. Even this Scraggy, whom N knew was a recent addition, his body posture in relation to her showed that he respected and trusted her. They were already friends and teammates. If there was anyone outside Plasma that N could trust to treat a Pokemon well, it was Hilda.

    “You don't have to trade,” Hilda said. “I know how to hand his Pokeball over as a gift.”

    N glanced around again. It was just them and the Pokemon out here. “Actually... I know you treat Pokemon well. Let me check, though.” He released Frank. “Look, I know I was going to release you, but I was wondering...”

    “I was listening in,” he said, putting his hands on his hips. “So this the girl you've been talking about? Is she a good Trainer?”

    “You got that right,” the Scraggy said smugly. “She makes us a team, a powerful team, and we'll kick the asses of anyone who says otherwise.”

    “Fidelity, compassion, loyalty, passion, charity,” Pierre mumbled, his eyes half-closed now.

    “She's good enough to get Kyurem's loyalty,” N said. “Do you mind going with her and watching her closer for me?”

    “A spy for my team, huh?” Hilda said. Was she teasing him again or not? “Well as long as I know up front.”

    Frank smirked. “To my mind's eye... she's interesting. And she'd fit my wants better than you. Still, you've been nice. Okay, I can handle that.”

    N nodded. “All right. He's okay with that; this is Frank, by the way, and this would be Hilda. I hope you don't mind...”

    But instead of thinking it was strange (or maybe because it was), Hilda broke into a grin. “Oh, Frank, really? Oh man, that's perfect. I'm surprised that you'd pick that, though. Mom would never let me watch the entirety of that movie.”

    The Gothita chuckled, but that didn't mean anything to him. “What movie? He told me that was a nickname he liked, so I called him that.”

    “He chose it? I guess I'm going to have to be careful around him then. Do you know how to make a trade or should I show you?” She came over next to him.

    As it turned out, trading Pokemon rather than gifting them was a long process. Gifting erased the previous Trainer's DNA data, while trading kept both the old and the new for some reason. Nothing seemed to happen to Pierre and Frank as they were still out, but the two Pokeballs became wrapped in a pale light, then connected through the light. N's arms tingled from the power of that exchange. After a minute, the lights disconnected and reabsorbed into the Pokeballs. On the screen, it noted that Frank was now owned by Hilda.

    “Good, that's done,” Hilda said, then was interrupted by a chirp. “I wish there was a progress bar for that trade... ah drat, my holder's battery has got low power. I thought it'd be good for the rest of the day.”

    “You didn't see and feel that light?” N asked.

    “What light?”

    “It was something you can only see by your mind's eye,” Frank said. “And she doesn't have the sense for that.”

    “Oh. Don't worry, Hilda, it shouldn't matter to you. I'll see what I can do to help Pierre.”

    “I want to help,” Pierre said, distressed for a second, then depressed the next. “Never to be. I'll sing a lament for you.”

    “Good luck with that,” Frank said, kicking his way through the snow to check out Hilda's bag nearby. “I'm only disappointed that I never got a girl for you that night.”

    “That wasn't important,” N said, feeling his ears and cheeks get warm.

    Unfortunately, Hilda picked up on that. “Now what's got you all shy all of a sudden?” she asked, going to poke him but deciding against it at last second.

    “It was something silly,” he said, glancing aside and hoping she'd lose interest. “Frank tried to get me to attract some girls last night.”

    Hilda started to laugh, but put her hand to her mouth and tried to stop, making her cough. “S-sorry. That was just weird.”

    “It was. And I don't see what the point of it was.”

    “Oh really?” she asked, definitely teasing him now. “How'd you do?”

    N thought about saying nothing more, but the words came out anyhow. “Well don't tell anyone else about it, but not too well. I had a hard time getting any of them to speak to me at length. Frank said to try to get one of them to kiss me, but that definitely didn't work. I don't see why he thought that was important.”

    “How's that not important?” Hilda asked, looking to him curiously.

    N brought his hand up and tried to put those thoughts into words, but wasn't sure how. “Well I don't see what the point is. It's just another form of touch. And the whole thing was just to pass the time because none of my team wanted to train anymore that day and it wasn't time to sleep yet. I mean, I didn't know what I was doing anyhow, so it was a waste in the first place and since it didn't get anything accomplished, I just don't think that...”

    And then his attempt to explain himself was interrupted when Hilda kissed his lips.

    It was a strange thing, only lasting a few seconds. He'd never liked physical contact with other humans, or at least he'd always thought that way. This should have been the worst offense yet, as she was right up close to him with one hand on his left shoulder for balance. And where he could feel her breath before she dropped back from tiptoes. Instead of distressing him, it was actually enticing. It made him feel that he wanted to keep her close.

    “See any point now?” Hilda asked, smiling impishly.

    “I'll take that for a success,” Frank said, winking at them.

    “Possibly,” N said to Hilda, making her laugh. It was really stupid and he knew that; it probably didn't even qualify as a joke. Yet he still found himself laughing with her and feeling happy about that.

    “Never know until you...” and out of nowhere, there was a small explosion nearby. They all turned immediately to the sound. “What was that?” Then there was a scream from a woman and Hilda took off to see what was happening. Her Pokemon followed, while the Vanillish started up a more frantic rambling of fright.

    “Don't worry, Pierre,” N said, going over to him. But he was worried about Hilda going straight for the trouble. Should he recall the Vanillish, or work on calming him down and then seeing if she was okay? It would have been no issue earlier today, as he'd help the Pokemon. But now his mind felt torn.

    “My lord,” a calm voice said. The air vibrated for a moment as one of the Shadow Triad materialized. “You are needed back at the castle.”

    The scent of fire was in the air; Pierre was shaking, slowly drifting away from both of them. “What, now?” N said in irritation. If they hadn't called him back in all this time, then they could wait until he had his Pokemon calmed down and made sure that Hilda was all right.

    “Right now,” she said. “It is your responsibility. Recall him and take my hand.”

    His responsibility. It had to be important then, if terribly timed. “Fine. It'll be okay, Pierre.”

    “Does it start again?” the Vanillish asked in a whimper. N recalled him and took the ninja's hand.

    The air blurred in a disorienting way as their surroundings changed from the cold snowy forest to the warm and bright interior of the castle. “Ghetsis will meet with you shortly,” she said. “I will inform him that you have arrived. Please stay in this area.” Then she vanished.

    There was no one else in the area, not that he could see or hear. What could they want him for? N paced for a moment, then called Pierre back out to speak with him.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

  13. #213
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    HELLO YSAVVRYL! Did ya miss me? I didnt notice the previous chapter and barely caught this one. I must agree with your sig however... too much talking. nah, its fine. Still, I cant wait for some real action and plot advancement. I hope N can make since of Pierre's babbling.
    I have:
    Platinum
    Heartgold
    White
    Black
    Rumble Blast
    White 2

    I used to liek mudkipz, then I took an arrow in the knee. However the arrow turned out to be a seaking. It yelled "F*** yeah" so I screamed "FUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!". The seaking's face became that of a troll while mine became forever alone. The situation was super effective.

  14. #214
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    I've been reading this silently for a while now, and I just want to say that this is the best fanfic I have ever read! Please add me to the PM List.

    I've just got a few questions:
    1) What became of the cloak Kyurem stole from Ghetsis?
    2) Will this fic have BW2 spoilers for those waiting for the American release?

    Anyway, I just gotta say great job! Keep it up!
    I treat my Pokemon like family. Copy and Paste this in your sig if you do too. Started by legolover8.

  15. #215
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    In a 'blink and you'll miss it moment', the cloak was mentioned being returned to the dry cleaners. Specifically, Ghetsis was commenting on being charged twice for the cleaning. Sometimes I'm not so obvious.

    As for BW2 spoilers, probably not. I want the English names of everything before I add them in, and I'll probably just wait on getting the game myself before going back and modifying things. I'm almost sure the fic will still be going around that time...
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

  16. #216
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    Hello!

    And yes, there's no Coffee Break right now.


    Chapter 30: Damage Control



    2/1, evening

    There was a rap on the desk. “Lord Ghetsis.”

    For a moment, he felt a spark of anger at being interrupted during his speech review. It broke the mental sequencing he used to memorize such things. But the serious pale face watching him told him that it was a worthy interruption. The Shadow Triad would bide their time unless it was important. That didn't mean he'd go any easier on them. “Why have you given up your disguise as that girl...?” he paused, looking for the small signs of which one this was, “Carol?”

    “It was not functioning as required,” she said, her voice a pitch between the male and the other female of their group. “He does not trust them, but he trusts us. I have brought him back; I had to set a firebomb on a trailer to do so.” She then explained what had happened when N went back to the Nimbasa area to release a Pokemon and unexpectedly met up with Hilda. Because she had been asked not to hurt that girl, the ninja had been unable to interrupt until too late.

    Previously, the Triad had kept him informed daily of what N was up to and he had let the boy be distracted from time to time. That was part of the risk of sending him out into the world alone when he had little experience in normal society. However, knowing of those distractions gave him ways to nudge N back into what he was supposed to be doing.

    But Ghetsis knew that this incident required immediate action. No matter how careful the Triad were in making sure N followed his path, they couldn't stop him entirely from talking to Pokemon that would favor humans and put holes in what Plasma was about. That was acceptable because his motivation was to help the Pokemon and he'd rationalize until it fit his preconceived notions. Even befriending those outsiders could be acceptable as his motivation shouldn't waver. But this incident where Hilda had kissed N? That opened up the potential of N changing his motivations and sending him off the path Ghetsis had made for him.

    It was time to set his King straight.

    -+-

    N's footsteps echoed on the stone floors. This place was bright, clean, and regal, with large airy spaces. But while the scale was much grander than a human one, N felt comfortable here. Not as much as he did in the forest, but this was a good safe place. “No one would hurt you in here. Once they know I'm working with you, they'll leave you be.”

    Near him, Pierre the Vanillish turned about slowly, looking around at everything. “Cleanliness means someone is hiding. Steps blend into dirt but there is no dirt here. Is there some mark or record of life? Buzz buzz, hum hum.”

    “It's almost like your thoughts can't stabilize and you say whatever is on your mind at that immediate moment. Or do you sense things that aren't there and react to them?” But how would N tell if one of those ideas was the answer? Pierre might not be able to communicate what he felt. Although he was an Ice type and shouldn't have paranormal senses, maybe this was a unique situation.

    The Pokemon looked at him, his body a glossy white like the polished floor. “Past is always present, present is elusive. Here is new. Here is too big.” Then he retreated to his Pokeball.

    If he wanted to be away, N wouldn't make him stay out. It might be hard to train him. Then again, he only had three gyms left. It might be time to put together the last team so that he could keep up on their training as they progressed. The plan had been wait until his seventh Gym challenge for that, but if he needed the time to work with Pierre on his personal issues... and a Vanillish would be a big help for Mistralton, so perhaps adjusting the planned team for that to include him...

    Then his thoughts strayed back to a few minutes ago. He'd already taken off his coat and winter things, but he could vividly recall the chill of the air contrasting against the warmth of another person's breath. It had been such a small gesture, that kiss, but that wasn't matching up against how it had made him feel. Did it have a greater meaning as well? If he had a chance to take Hilda away somewhere so that she was safe, and so that he could be with her, would he take it even if it meant leaving his plans behind? There was a terrible temptation to do just that.

    “The greater good is worth personal sacrifices,” N whispered, reminding himself of something that he had said to others to teach them the right way of things. Other people had listened to him, many of them sacrificing much for the greater good. So why was a strong portion of his mind saying that maybe the words weren't right?

    There was a click as the hall door to the west wing opened up. N stopped pacing and headed over there to where Ghetsis was. “Good to see that you came so quickly,” his father said, smiling at him and waving him to come to the west hall. “We have the results of a project that you should see.”

    “Is this going to take long?” N asked, taking hold of the door and closing it as he came through. “There was some trouble when I left and I don't want to make people worry by completely disappearing.” And he didn't want to keep worrying about Hilda and that explosion.

    “Don't worry, that trouble isn't significant,” Ghetsis said, leading him towards the stairs. “Besides, as we've said before, you need some time away from the corruption of the world. It must be causing you unnecessary conflict in your mind and heart, as well as clouding your mental vision.”

    He started feeling uneasy. Ghetsis had a way of piercing right to the real problem, but it would be N's own fault if he'd fallen astray. Had he? “Their social expectations are set very strongly. I had thought being confronted by the truth of injustice would be enough, but they're mired in it, the humans and the Pokemon. They believe in it strongly enough that it's hard not to believe them.”

    “It's how they were all taught. Most people simply can't open their minds enough to face reality. But you realized those wrongs early; you're very lucky in that way. Have you managed to convince anyone during this time?”

    Feeling his face get warm in shame, he looked down (but at least he could pretend it was to look down the stairs where they were going). “None that I know of. I have an easier time when you're there with me, but I thought I'd be able to convince at least a few people. I end up talking to those who defend the normal ways most of the time, and they can articulate things better than me.”

    They continued talking while heading down to a lower level. Ghetsis kept talking positively to him, hopeful for the future. Yet it made N feel increasingly bad. “The people we have see the wisdom in your ideals and they have great faith in you. I would like you to speak with a group of them a little later on, as that would inspire them to take up our mission with more care and thought. When they continue to hear things indirectly, it can lead to miscommunication and mistakes. You would help correct some who are starting to stray from the proper path.”

    But he was having doubts himself; was his faith not enough? If that was happening, then he could led those good people into worse mistakes. That would make him unfit as a leader and unworthy of Zekrom's attention. How could he be unfaithful to his own ideals, the things he'd realized clearly when he was just a child? The right to freedom and the right to not come to harm. But he had just given a Pokemon to another person who would keep him. For more than just a moment, he thought he might be willing to give this all up for something else entirely. How could be be so weak?

    “You are a strong person, but even the best of us must sometimes retreat to review the situation in calm contemplation,” Ghetsis said.

    He had such faith and confidence in N when he might not deserve such respect.

    They arrived at the lowest level and went into one of the rooms there. It was a research lab, one that he'd been in for science lessons when this level had been completed. All around the room, there were pieces of equipment that were keep in excellent shape, as well as notes on current information and research. N had felt that science would be important to help humans live independently of Pokemon, as well as teach others to think with reason rather than tradition. But the particular scientist in here, Dr. Umber, he sometimes got into research subjects that were best left alone. There were two Pokemon in the room with him.

    Feeling like he'd composed himself enough to at least look calm, N nodded to Umber. Ghetsis shook hands with the scientist. “I thought that it would be best to give your progress report with N here,” he said.

    “If that's what he wishes,” Umber said, nodding and taking the interruption gracefully. “I've been looking to disrupt the fossil regeneration service given in Nacrene. It won't be easy at this time, but when our ideals begin to push into the public conscious it will be easier. I managed to acquire these two Pokemon from them.”

    “They're prehistoric Pokemon?” N asked, looking at them. The practice of reviving such Pokemon infuriated him, since there was no reason but vanity to bring Pokemon into a time when they should not live. On the edge of a counter, there was a brightly-colored feathered Pokemon whose beak and feet were textured like rough stones. It was holding its wings low but not tucked in, observing all that were in there with sharp black eyes. On the floor, there was a tortoise Pokemon with flippers for limbs and a rough dark-gray shell. It was within a water bubble, but it was keeping to one place and wary.

    “Yes. This red one up here is identified as an Archen, while the blue one down there is a Tirtouga. I've been studying them in this lab and considering what to do with them. They may unbalance the natural environment or be unfit to blend in, but while they are alive, we must respect them as such.”

    “Certainly,” N said, moving closer to the counter where the Archen was.

    It raised its wings and opened its beak, letting out a soft caw. “What?” it was saying, “I'm tough. What?”

    “What?” the Tirtouga echoed. Rather simple creatures, perhaps.

    “They're uncertain of their environment,” N said. “You look tough, Archen.”

    Umber looked over a paper on his clipboard. “I observed that, but I haven't had them long. I would like to see how they act in a natural setting, but I may need your assistance to limit problems. There is another fossil-Pokemon related project that I'm working on as well, in particular about changes in genetic sequencing.”

    “Will you be doing revival in that project?” he asked. That definitely wouldn't be good in Plasma's records.

    “No,” the scientist said. “It's about the progression of species evolution as a certain kind of Pokemon progressed over the centuries into stronger and more refined forms, until they became so specialized that they were unable to adapt in an extinction-triggering event. It's a Bug type that has some distant relations surviving today, in particular the Scyther. I want to study the fossil sequence and see where they lost the ability to adapt.”

    “What good would that study do us? Aside from the information itself, of course.”

    “My Lord, there are some Pokemon existing today that depend on human intervention for personal evolution and continuation of their species. I hope to find clues about which types today might face difficulty in adapting to a life separate from humans, and then finding indirect ways to assist them.”

    Considering that, N nodded. “That's thoughtful of you, Umber. I just don't want you reviving any prehistorics and causing the Pokemon trouble.”

    “Of course, I always keep that in mind now,” Umber said. That was good, because he was being more thoughtful in what he was studying. Previously, he had wanted to do genetic adaptations on living Pokemon and made N furious with that. That project had seemed more likely to cause harm than help.

    They spoke for a while longer with Umber, then left him to continue studying the two fossil Pokemon. Ghetsis then brought N across to the east wing and up a level in order to meet with the people he was to talk to. “They're going to be eager to see and hear you,” Ghetsis warned him. “They look up to you greatly for your writings and deeds.”

    “What should I speak to them about?” N asked, his nerves squirming at the thought of facing a situation like this unprepared.

    “You should remind them that our goals are to help both Pokemon and humans live better, more peaceful, and more respectable lives.” He pointed out some things in particular that he might get asked about and what the best course for answering would be.

    Once they entered the east wing, they began encountering more people, especially the lower level followers that were new or didn't have much authority within Plasma. They stepped aside as if it was common for them to encounter Ghetsis here. When they recognized who he was, though, they became awestruck, whispering to each other and not certain of how to approach someone they held in such high regard. N tried to ignore it, but it made his skin prickle.

    “Remember to be confident,” Ghetsis said quietly to him. They were being followed, as those who had been in the lower hall wanted to see what their King was doing here. “You represent our highest ideals, and you don't want them to feel disillusioned and hurt.”

    What if they had a good reason to get disillusioned with him? N bit his lip, but then corrected himself of that. There was a method to this: keep a straight posture, look ahead or into the eyes of those he spoke with, keep shoulders relaxed, keep his hands from making nervous motions. Ghetsis had taught him about that when he had been young, to help him in formal discussions and meetings. Also, keep emotions in check unless it would help emphasize a point; that was one of the harder things to learn, as emphasis in different places could alter meanings. N didn't have the knack Ghetsis did for knowing exactly where emotional emphasis was most potent.

    The second level of the castle's east wing was a lot more open than most halls. This was because it was a large meeting area for Plasma. And, there was a large number of followers in here. Once N was recognized, they all became hushed and excited, looking right to him, someone who had considered abandoning them although there was no way they could know that. He knew that, and it felt like a thorn within his chest.

    “Good evening, all of you,” N said, stepping ahead of Ghetsis and into the center of the crowd. Those from the lower level closed in and he was surrounded. “It's good to be back with you, even if temporarily. I have come back for personal meditation to pull away from the polluted influence of the society outside these walls, but we may speak freely tonight, together.”

    There were some cheers and clapping, as well as many returned greetings and gratitudes. They were glad to have him back. Their guiding light was back with them, he heard somewhere in the sound. He was the soul of the group and his return breathed life back into the hidden castle. While he should feel honored and glad to have their love, he actually felt horrible.

    “I am honored you show such love for me,” N said, as that would encourage them more than speaking for his full emotions. “But please, I still have a long ways to go to prove myself and fulfill our dreams of a better world.”

    And they showed great approval of this. One young man spoke through the crowd, “Lord N, if I may ask you something...”

    “Go on,” he said, nodding. “That is why I am here with you now.”

    “Why are you having us slow down on the release of the captive Pokemon? We don't want to cause their suffering to continue when we could end it now, when we could make them happy with freedom.”

    N had to stall a few seconds to keep his conflicting emotions from rising, so he brought his left hand up to his chest. “I don't want to make them suffer any longer either,” he said, trying to make the words he was saying stick in his mind louder than those he wasn't saying. “But we can't end this now. Public opinion is still against us and starting the mass release now was a mistake. Those on the outside are still clouded by tradition. They can't see what they're doing wrong. And in that deluded state, they misinterpret our actions and see us as the bad guys. We want to show our most positive side to them, show how much we care for and respect both Pokemon and humans. Both sides can be much greater if they adapt to our ideals, but if we force our views, they will not accept them.”

    Fortunately, they accepted this. A treacherous thought wondered if they were the deluded ones. But that could not be so. It was that irrational guilt at letting his Pokemon go, the very real pain he felt on seeing those Pokemon upset, that was getting to him too. In reality, he should be grateful the people listened and try to solve his issues to better lead them.

    “How are you doing in bringing the truth to people?” a woman asked.

    Horribly. Hilda had managed to get a Pokemon freed before he had and she didn't fully believe in Plasma's ideals. However, he was here to encourage, not discourage. “I am still making myself known to these people without revealing who I truly am. That I am your King is secret, so I must prove myself to them as if I were no one. It's been hard to speak fairly with them when they dismiss me based on who they perceive I am. That should not be an issue much longer.”

    “Are you going to be summoning Zekrom after all?” another woman asked.

    The Dark Stone still wasn't responding to anything, which could mean that he'd failed already. “That would be the best way, bringing her into the modern world at least long enough to convince the others that our ideals are right. I have been taking the necessary steps to do so, but I have been made aware that it will take some more time.” Although he should have heard something by now.

    As he continued to answer questions, more people came, even the other Sages. While there were a few discussions going on at the fringe, N was the center of attention. Ghetsis stayed nearby, mostly observing but occasionally speaking up if the current subject was something N wasn't certain of. It helped some to be in a group that already shared his ideals, to enforce the right thoughts by speaking them. But those other thoughts and doubts kept coming up, contrasting with what he said. That couldn't be good, but now wasn't the time to settle that. How long was he supposed to do this?

    He got through answering a question of how the Pokemon were faring out there and decided that he had to distract his mind from recalling their parting words. He turned and stepped towards the crowd where the other Sages were listening in. “Giallo, good to see you again. How's Hilbert doing?”

    “He's made a remarkably swift recovery,” he answered, as some of the crowd parted between them. “You can't tell anything happened to him now. He went back to traveling, but I can get back to him about his visit.”

    N nodded. “That's great. We should bring him here soon.”

    “Is this a friend of yours?” someone asked.

    “Hilbert's my twin brother,” N said, causing gasps of surprise and wonder from those who hadn't heard. “We met on the road and discovered that. You might have heard of him as Hilbert Godfrey, a famous traveler and Pokemon Trainer. But he has decided to pursue Reshiram and in doing so, he has had to confront the wrongness of what he has been doing. I hope to convince him to fully realize our truth and join our efforts. It would be better than fighting against him.”

    That was met with approval. “This is so much like the old legends,” a man said. “You can do it, that's absolutely certain now. And we'll always be here in support of you.”

    N wished he could be that certain. There were some more things asked of him and discussed, but he was having an increasingly hard time forcing himself to stay. While they had true faith in him, he was finding it hard to find faith in himself. He trusted the gods to do what was right. But himself? If he didn't set himself right soon, then he was going to fail and everything that he had built his life up to be would be as nothing. And he'd drag down all the people now surrounding him. Maybe he deserved that failure, but they didn't. They had given up so much for him.

    As the conversation continued, the tension built in his chest. The faces of his followers began to blur together, their words blending and losing meaning. His heart pounded and N felt he had to get away because he might get sick. Or something would happen. What did happen was that the light bulbs overhead suddenly exploded, intensifying the light for a half-second before plunging them all into darkness.

    There were yelps of surprise and confusion around him as his head suddenly felt tender, throbbing from the chaotic noise. The tension continued to build, his heart continued pounding. For a moment, N nearly cried out from the strange panic within him. But right before his will broke, a feeling of intense clarity filled his mind. “Don't be afraid!” he called out his followers, quieting them to greater effect that Ghetsis had managed.

    And then there was a brilliant flash of light flooding the room.

    All N's tension and pains rushed away as suddenly as they had built up, leaving him with a strange sense of silence and stillness. But that was only within. Without, his followers were gasping, giving amazed exclamations, and staring in awe at him. He didn't feel all that strange with them doing that, just wondering why they were doing that. And wondering why the room looked odd. The lights above were still broken, but there was light all around them. Oddly, the shadows lay in strange patterns, nearly missing on the faces of those closest to him, falling long and dark all in a circle from one source.

    He was at the center of that light source. N looked down at his hands and realized that they were glowing. Not just them, but his whole body was emitting pure soft light, like from the full moon. He looked over his hands, not understanding why this was happening but feeling that this wasn't going to hurt him.

    Seeing that he didn't know what to do, Ghetsis came to his side and took control of the situation. “I believe we should end this meeting for now, my Lord, to figure out what's going on.”

    N nodded. “Y-yes. It was good to speak with you all. Please go back to your duties and studies. Oh, but someone clean up the glass shards and replace the lightbulbs here.”

    “Please, my helpers,” Concordia's voice came through the air. She was indicating a few of her staff to deal with the damage. Most of the followers left for the stairs or the door to the central wing, in order to head back to their rooms or whatever work they had to do. But Ghetsis stayed by N's side, and the other Sages came up to them.

    “N, how are you doing this?” Zinzolin asked, reaching for his arm.

    He brought it to his chest before he could be touched. “I don't know. Something was happening to me, and then it burst out like this when the room went dark.”

    “Are you feeling all right?” Ryuko asked, concerned. “Before the lights went out, I noticed that you weren't looking well.”

    N yawned. This day was just... so much had happened. There was the happiness of a good conversation with his Pokemon friends, the usual stress of defeating a full Gym, the sad release of the Pokemon, the pleasant surprise of Hilda's kiss, the worry about what had exploded, the temptation to abandon Plasma, the onslaught of guilt when he realized what he was thinking, and then this strange light. Even having been through it, it was hard to believe that one's emotions could shift so wildly over just one day. “I'm tired. There was something weird here,” he put his hands to his chest, “but it all cleared up with the light. I think it's just, I'm tired.”

    They agreed to let him rest for the night, and talk more tomorrow. But Ghetsis walked with him back up to the level where N's living quarters were, in the central area a level below the throne room. These few rooms were his alone, such as the private dining room where only he and his guests would eat. However, the hall was still somewhat public, as people sometimes passed through from other areas, or Concordia's people would come in to clean.

    “Ghetsis, would you come in here for a moment?” N asked as they stopped outside his bedroom. “I, I have to say something to you.”

    “If you want me to,” he said.

    N's room had gone through a few different designs before he settled on what helped him sleep best: an approximation of the forest that he had lived in in his early childhood. There was a mural of a forest on all of the walls, more artistic than realistic. With the primary colors being green and brown, all of the furnishings were wood, stained in natural tones. N's skin was still glowing, but he turned on the lights as he didn't know how long that would last.

    “I have missed you being around,” Ghetsis said. “I didn't anticipate how the atmosphere of this place would change without your presence.”

    Some of the tension returned on hearing that. N had been wondering if their relationship was too cold and formal. If he felt that way, maybe it wasn't so bad. Maybe Ghetsis had been uncertain socially at one time and he had to work hard at being normal (actually, better than normal) too. “Things have been different than I anticipated as well. The hardest things aren't what I thought they would be at all. The thing is, I've been having doubts about what I'm doing. A great many of the Pokemon with Trainers seem happy and going with my plan keeps making me miserable.”

    “You shouldn't be having doubts,” Ghetsis said, a stern tone in his voice.

    “I know I shouldn't,” N said. “Things were so clear when I left in November, but then so much has happened and I've heard so many different ideas. I wanted to make the Pokemon happier, but then they seem happy with humans and sad to leave me. It's hard to know what I should be thinking and feeling sometimes.”

    Ghetsis looked at him critically. “It seems that you are getting muddled by moral relativism. It seems like a harmless pattern of thought, but it is quite dangerous. Morals are absolute, either right or wrong; you've always known this, correct?”

    “Of course,” N said. Things weren't half-wrong or half-right; that was just nonsense.

    He started to pace in thought, emphasizing his points with gestures. “Now when we are discussing morals, it all seems so clear. The right and wrong of things are plain and obvious. But when you get out into society, people will try to confuse you with complexity. They will say, this may appear wrong but there is a reason there that makes it not so. But this is trickery. It is like when a child steals some food, and people will say, 'oh, he had nothing to eat and no money to buy, so that is not so bad'.”

    “Then the problem would be why the child was hungry,” N said, thinking that it was pretty bad if a child had no food. Unless it was in punishment for something, in which case the child just had to deal with it and not commit further wrongs. He used to get that for a few days at a time, once a whole week.

    “No, the problem is that it is still theft, and the theft must be punished,” Ghetsis corrected. “Stealing is wrong under any circumstances. If you accept this one theft, then that says that you will accept some theft, and more things will be stolen. More people will try to explain away things that are wrong as being right for the circumstances and before long, morals will no longer mean anything. There will be anarchy and no one will respect the laws. People out there prefer having shades of gray to clear cut morality because it excuses their own selfish behaviors, and that has led to the wide-spread corruption out there. You need to remember that morality must be absolute in order to be effective and that any arguments to the contrary are excuses. There is no other way; you have said this yourself.”

    “Right. I really do need to consider things, to figure out how to erase those doubts.” Maybe some time in the forest would help clear things up.

    Ghetsis nodded. “You must also not let yourself be bewitched by a girl's kiss.”

    N could feel the color drain from his face at that. “Wh-what? How did you know about that?”

    “I know,” he said. “You've been letting yourself get distract with mundane and frivolous things such as a party or an evening's idleness. It's that girl Hilda, isn't it? I've had the Shadow Triad look into her. She has few clear morals and does things without thinking seriously about them. She most likely did that just to get a reaction out of you, with no real feelings behind it.”

    “How can you be sure about that?” N asked. While he wanted to agree with that because that would make things simpler, a part of him still wanted to believe that something that had made him happy should be something good. Especially when he had been sad before that due to parting with his Pokemon friends.

    “Women are treacherous to those of us seeking a moral life,” Ghetsis explained. “They will tempt you to give up your principles for just a few minutes of happiness, and then control you after that. It doesn't help that your own body will work against you in fighting the temptation. If you feel you must pursue that kind of thing, you're better off seeking a more submissive and obedient girl, one who already agrees with your beliefs. It will work out much better that way.”

    “Is it that bad?” On seeing the look of Ghetsis' face, N looked down, ashamed. “The Pokemon I had seemed to think it was fine, even something important.”

    He came closer to N. “She's already gotten you to compromise when you traded Pokemon.”

    “But this one I got needs help,” N said, releasing Pierre as he thought of it. Almost immediately, the Vanillish began staring at him. “And she takes good care of her Pokemon, so I thought...”

    “That's proof that they're muddling your morals,” Ghetsis said sharply. “You must be absolute in such manners, all or nothing. Make one exception and that will lead to more, which will eventually make things no different than if there were no rules at all. You should have refused that trade the moment it was suggested.”

    “Oh my god, you're an angel,” Pierre said, in awe of the glow that still remained. Then he was pressing himself against N's shoulder and crying, bewildering both of the humans for a moment.

    “Hardly,” N whispered, thinking over what Ghetsis was saying. Still, the Pokemon was upset for some reason; he put an arm around the Vanillish's icy cone.

    Ghetsis headed for the door. “You ought to get some sleep, think over things. We'll talk more tomorrow.” Then he left, shutting the door behind him.

    With a sigh, N headed over and sat on the edge of his bed, still holding onto Pierre. “I seem to have lost my way without noticing. No wonder Zekrom hasn't responded yet. I need to set myself straight and get back to what's important.” Maybe he even had to avoid going to the forest. Even if he would like that, he needed to make up for what he had lost. “I need to protect Pokemon like you.”

    “Things change fast,” Pierre said. “They said my mind was always broken from the moment my egg broke. But the demons, they didn't come until later, when the knife was pulled out of her heart and the blood that remained after death turned into the demons who made it so that I can't forget her screams. Then they never stopped hunting me and I kept running and hiding and it didn't work. Angel, give me peace.”

    Things did change fast; his concern over his own progress left his mind as concern for this Pokemon took over. “You saw someone murdered?” N asked quietly. The glow on his skin seemed to be fading now.

    Pierre shuddered and kept crying.

    N put his other hand on the back of Pierre's head. “I'll try.”
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

  17. #217
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ysavvryl
    "Oh my god, you're an angel," Pierre said, in awe of the glow that still remained.
    Pierre is now officially awesome.

    Sorry I haven't been commenting much on this, but I have my own fic to think about now. This chapter is as awesome as ever, although Pierre's backstory is so sad. Poor baby Pierre, mentally challenged from the first moment, and then he sees someone murdered. How dare they! Five bucks says Pierre came from the future and it was someone killing Hilda.

    Anyway, awesome as ever!

    EDIT: Rank up! Woohoo!
    Last edited by Z-nogyroP; 23rd June 2012 at 1:41 PM.
    I have discovered what a signature is.

    This is Bidoof. Many people loathe it with their lives. If you are of the few people who love this little beaver, put this in your sig. Started by Warrior Scolipede

    I've claimed Castform. It will never rain on my parade.

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    Well, this cerintally got the gears turning in my head....

    I will also put five bucks on the theory that Pierre is from the furture, although I am not as sure about who killed Hilda....for some reason I would guess N did...or Ghetsis.

    Still excellent Chapter, and I can't help but think that Umber is trying to create Genesect or something like that.......

    My musings aside, excellent chapter as usual.
    Take a moment to consider just how nothing nothing really is....If you understand this, then you just solved the universe.

    The truth that each person...each soul...is a book. And when we lay our feelings out in the open...and we give them no name...and we give them no author....and we give them no description.....who will actually read them..........?"

    Credit to Eevee for the amazing banner.
    Current fanfiction project: Pokemon: Absolution

  19. #219
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoulMuse View Post
    Well, this cerintally got the gears turning in my head....

    I will also put five bucks on the theory that Pierre is from the furture, although I am not as sure about who killed Hilda....for some reason I would guess N did...or Ghetsis.

    Still excellent Chapter, and I can't help but think that Umber is trying to create Genesect or something like that.......

    My musings aside, excellent chapter as usual.
    Yeah, that was a refrence to genesect.

    I nearly missed this chapter! That wouldnt be good. It was a good one! Still, I cant wait for the climax! I just want to yell at N "You are right that you are wrong!".
    I have:
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    White 2

    I used to liek mudkipz, then I took an arrow in the knee. However the arrow turned out to be a seaking. It yelled "F*** yeah" so I screamed "FUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!". The seaking's face became that of a troll while mine became forever alone. The situation was super effective.

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    Coffee Break

    "Sorry, too busy to do this now," Hilda said, sitting back in the chair with her feet up on the table.

    "You don't look like you're doing anything," Hilbert said as he walked by.

    "I'm busy relaxing!" she called back.

    (AN: I am, especially after all that's been going on this month. Fortunately, certain B/W 2 news came out before I posted this chapter, because then I would have had a weird non-canon moment to fix later on.)


    Chapter 31: Uncertain Interpretations


    2/1, evening

    The trailer kitchen on Route 5 was on fire. Hilda and her two Pokemon came out from behind the fence in time for a second explosion from inside. Out in front of the flaming trailer, there was a young woman who apparently had been knocked down into the snow. “Hey, can you get up?” Hilda called, running over and crouching down to take her arm. “Let's get away from here.”

    She pushed herself up partly; her nose was bleeding. “Huh?” She glanced back, but as Hilda tugged her away, she got up and went to the other side of the route with her. Hilda was going to grab her DSD to get a towel for the girl's nose, but as she put her hand on her hip, she realized that she'd left her bag back in the forested area.

    A few minutes later, the Nimbasa fire department was out with a small truck and a squad of firemen and Pokemon to handle the trailer. A paramedic had looked over the girl, named Valerie, and determined that she was fine aside from hitting her nose and even that wasn't bad. A police officer spoke with them; Hilda explained first what she had been doing. They wouldn't let her go into the wood after her bag yet, but they did say that they would look for N, wherever he had disappeared to.

    When Valerie was done being checked out, she spoke with the officer. “I needed to call somebody, so I ducked into the trailer's entrance for some cover. It was dark and I didn't see anybody in there. But then there was this explosion and a mass of fire inside. I tripped on the stairs and next thing I know, she was talking to me about getting away.”

    Hilda was going to wait there until they let her go by, but Valerie decided to stay with her so it wasn't boring. As far as fires went, this one was small and not interesting to watch, although the trailer would be badly damaged. But why had someone thrown a firebomb at it? It was weird. At least Valerie was the only one hurt (and not by much) and the fire crew was getting it under control.

    “Hey wait, you're that girl with Kyurem, aren't you?” Valerie asked.

    She nodded. “Yeah, that's me. I let him take the evening off.”

    She laughed. “That's nice. I wasn't really sure, you know? Cause the only time I saw you before was at Castelia Gym, and I was primarily there to watch Miles Riches battle. He is so hot, and usually he's a lot better at battling. It was such a shame when he lost.”

    “I hadn't heard much about him before,” Hilda said.

    “You haven't?” Valerie clutched her arm. “How so? The Riches family is like the best in Pokemon battling in Unova! They don't participate in the League much because they say it would be unfair of them to be competitors, but they enter all kinds of world tournaments and win so much. And Miles is the rising star in the family, you see, and a lot of people expect him to surpass his grandfather who is like one of the top living Trainers ever. How could you not hear of him?”

    “Well I have heard of the Riches, but not Miles in particular,” she said. “I didn't get that interested in following them. They're really that good?”

    She nodded. “Oh yeah, the best. Miles won the Orange Island Tournaments when he was twelve, seriously, oh, and he won a Roulette Battle Tournament in Sinnoh when he was ten. And the only reason he's doing the Unova League now is because people have been saying that the Riches family can't do that because supposedly they use enhancement drugs that the League makes illegal, which is totally not true. All those people are just jealous. And you know the deal with Alder not taking challenges in the past couple of months because of his Pokemon dying, I mean geez, that's so unprofessional of a Champion, you know? So Miles stepped up and said that he would take the Championship from Alder and do things properly.”

    “His Pokemon did die,” Hilda pointed out. “That's an awful thing to go through.”

    Valerie frowned, twirling her hair in her fingers. “Yeah, I guess so, but you'd think he'd get things back into gear by now. But anyhow, Miles has been blasting through most of the Gyms so far, doing really great up until Burgh somehow bested him. I heard the only person going through the League that fast is that N guy who nobody knows anything about. But Miles would beat him.”

    For a moment, Hilda wondered if Valerie had missed her telling the police officer that her friend N was strangely not around after the explosion. It wasn't a common name, after all. “Maybe,” she said, considering how N chose his teams.

    Valerie brightened. “Oh hey, you know what? The Riches usually keep their family secrets to Pokemon training to themselves, but you know, sometimes they take a shine to another Trainer and help him or her do way better than before. I tried getting their favor once so I could get close to Miles, but it was a disaster. You might be able to get them to like you, and then they could help you use better strategy, or sponsor you for some of the global tournaments. Although you wouldn't be able to beat Miles.”

    That was an interesting prospect, having a chance to go to a global tournament. Then she could put on a showy battle that so many people would see. Hilda thought that her strategies were working fine so far. Still, there might be something to learn from the Riches. “They live over in Undella, don't they?”

    “Yeah, in the biggest mansion in Unova. It's really beautiful over there too, even during the winter, with a large variety of Pokemon living in the surrounding area. I just have things to do here around Nimbasa and Driftveil. I might go back over there in the summer, although it'll be crowded then.”

    “What happened here?” Kyurem asked, managing to approach silently despite the deep snow.

    “It's not my doing,” Hilda said, then laughed. “Somebody set that trailer on fire with a bomb. I have to wait.”

    “Miss!” One of the fire crew came over. “We have this under control now and it won't be spreading to the woods. You can head back now.”

    “Okay, thanks! Maybe I'll see you around, Valerie.”

    “Maybe. Take care.” She got up and headed towards Nimbasa.

    -+-

    Valerie did go back into Nimbasa, but she slipped into an alleyway as soon as she could. Once she knew she was out of sight of the residents, she brought a contact lens case out of her purse and took out the pair she was using. They were patterned like normal green eyes, covering up her natural eyes which were yellow in color, the pupils a slitted shape instead of round. Then she carefully detached her wig and shook her white hair to fall as it preferred to do. After changing her coat, snow pants, and boots to items of a more subdued black, she was ready to return.

    Seconds later, she was within the castle, in the hidden room she and her siblings stayed in while here. The two of them glanced to make sure it was her, then went back to their training. She put the bag in a cubby. “That's done,” she said, dropping the perky and airheaded tone she had taken on as Valerie. “I gave the girl the idea.”

    “It's good to be able to drop that act, isn't it?” her sister said. “Too much work to emote like that.”

    “You didn't choose an act much different than what is natural,” she retorted, then clucked her tongue. “Sorry. It took effort to learn.”

    “You were the only one of us who could have pulled off that personality,” she said.

    “Certainly,” their brother said. He preferred not to speak; it took him the same amount of effort to do so as it took her to be Valerie.

    “How is N doing?” she asked.

    Her sister indicated some screens that were showing the meeting hall on the second floor. “He's manifested. The lights are broken in that room.”

    She went over and observed the view. N was heading to the stairs for a higher level with Ghetsis. And even by the camera's view, she could see a brighter glow over the young man's body. “Are we going to inform him?”

    “We will discuss it with Ghetsis. Likely not.”

    She nodded. Ghetsis would make the decisions. They would carry them out. That was how it always was and how it would always be.

    -+-

    When Hilda got back to where she had been, she pulled her bag out of the snow and began checking the contents. It didn't look like it had been messed with. N wasn't here either. “We were talking up until the explosion happened, and then I went to check it out.”

    “You went right for a dangerous situation?” Kyurem asked in disapproval.

    “Hey, I heard someone scream and I wanted to help. Thankfully she wasn't that bad off.” She brought out her DSD and scrolled through the list of its contents. Digital storage was usually safe, but she had left it for several minutes.

    Frank explained something. Kyurem nodded. “So he was taken off by some form of teleportation. And who are you?”

    “I traded Pierre for him, from N,” Hilda said. “He's a kind of spy, but I think it got the Vanillish into a better position to be helped. That, and I think helping him will help N figure out something else he can do with his talents. Give him some more options.”

    “That could work out.” He paused for a moment, listening to the Gothita. Then he snapped, “What?!”

    Hilda looked over and saw that Frank looked scared, wide-eyed and trembling. And Kyurem was furious, scowling at her. “What?” she asked, feeling for a moment that maybe she should run. But he shouldn't hurt her.

    “I thought I told you that I don't want fighting about my siblings, because that's most likely part of what got them killed,” he said. “Why did you kiss N?”

    “Well it was set up so perfectly,” she said, feeling a mix of anger and embarrassment. Why did he have to react badly to that? “He was telling me how he had trouble with other girls and didn't see the point in kissing, so I kissed him. It was just a little one, just a few seconds. What's up with you? It's not like that's going to ruin everything.”

    That didn't seem to convince him; his fist was clenched even. “It's something that could tip the scales. You've already got Hilbert interested in you, and N might not have thought any deeper about you but now you'll have his attention. That's going to make them jealous of each other and that could escalate into ruining everything. And something like this happened the last time I left you alone for more than a few minutes.”

    That was back when Hilbert had taken her out for coffee in Castelia. “I talked that out with Hilbert already, and it's not like I've said that I love either of them like that. I'll just make sure that both of them know I just want to be friends and it'll be all right. Besides, what do you know about romance?”

    “Not much, but not knowing means that I'd rather err on the side of caution.” He relaxed some. “But I do know that small actions can have far reaching consequences, and it is impossible to fully tell how someone will react to such things. You had best make sure that they understand your intentions clearly. Although with how quickly you act, I'm not sure if you know the intentions of your actions clearly.”

    “I'll be fine,” Hilda said, still a little mad.

    Later that night as she was trying to sleep, she thought about what had happened. She tried to work herself into a proper anger at Kyurem overreacting. But the more she thought on it, the more she saw what he meant. She had only kissed N because he told her he hadn't been kissed and was trying to argue against it. Really, the set-up seemed just right (and it had been nice to kiss him too). But given that N had not been kissed before that, it was more likely that he'd read too much into it. Also, when she thought back over her conversation with Hilbert earlier that day, he had agreed to her keeping to friendship verbally, but there was still a definite interest from him. And she'd probably muddled that up even further in talking to him about traveling.

    She was being too impulsive.

    -+-

    2/2, early morning

    It was barely dawn when Regal the Rufflet dropped Hilbert off in Mistralton. The sky was a deep violet, only showing blues to the east. At this time, the town seemed deserted, with most of its residents still asleep. Light snowflakes tumbled through the air. He let Regal fly off to investigate something in the trees while he brought out his Litwick. “Madeline, we're not far from your home in Celestial Tower. I'll release you from the Pokeball's bond inside the center, then take you up there.”

    “Huuu,” she replied, shifting her posture in what was probably an uncertain stance. Then she shook herself. She didn't want to go free just yet. She wanted to go to the tower, and then decide things. Something back at the tower was necessary to check.

    While that would take a little longer, he was okay with doing as she wanted. “All right then, we'll go there first. Regal, would you stick with us this time?”

    After waiting on the Rufflet to fly back, Hilbert walked alongside Madeline as she hopped out of town and towards the tall tower to the north. Off to the northeast, he could see an even taller tower showing over the rim of Twist Mountain. That was Dragonspiral Tower. Maybe later today. But this morning, he had a promise to keep to Madeline.

    Celestial Tower was a relatively recent monument, made of greenish-white stones and built in honor of departed Pokemon. As they approached, a bell on top of the tower rang out, a clear note that somehow caused Hilbert to feel a moment of regretful sadness. But it wasn't his regret; what was he feeling?

    The bell was only rung once, so Hilbert soon put it out of mind and entered the tower. There was a man near the doorway, quietly reading a book. This attendant, as it seemed to be, glanced up and nodded to him. “Welcome to Celestial Tower,” he said, keeping respect in his voice. “Please be respectful of the departed souls and others who visit them. There is one other in the tower, but others will likely come in a few hours.”

    “All right,” Hilbert replied. Then he turned to his Litwick. “Where should we go?”

    Up. They climbed up three levels, getting attention from other Litwicks as they did so. By the time Hilbert got there, close to forty Litwicks seemed to be in the room with them, watching. Madeline floated over to one of the headstones that recorded the deceased Pokemon, then gave a long and strangely beautiful call.

    It was answered from within the walls; a Lampent entered the room. Like most of the others here, it bore eerie flames of violet, not blue such as Madeline. A few of the other Litwicks came closer to where Madeline was, while others backed away. The Lampent then spoke at length, with Madeline occasionally answering.

    Again, Hilbert wished that he could understand Pokemon like N did. He listened to the sounds they made and tried to make it all he thought of. He watched the movements of their flames, their bodies. While he could glean that something rather important was going on, he could not understand what. If only he had had a Pokemon living with him in is early years, maybe he could grasp this situation better.

    And then his mind seemed to burst with emotions. A jealous anger, a relief tinged with remaining concern, a bravery that mingled with nervousness, an unexpected pain, and that regretful sadness, he seemed to be feeling it all at once. But why? And why did it all seem so, how did he think of it, colorful?

    “Kuu ruu li ka?” Madeline asked, coming back over to him in concern.

    Hilbert realized that he didn't see her concerned. He felt her concern for him. When he looked around, he realized that he had fallen onto his knees (which hurt due to hitting the stone floor, explaining at least one emotion). He also felt a puzzlement, a sympathy for a stranger but not knowing what was going on with that stranger. As he was the primary stranger here, he realized that what he was feeling what all the Pokemon around him were feeling. Desire, hate, love, and want were lights and darks to his mind; something about this place had intensified his ability so that he knew exactly what others were feeling like colors that infused light.

    “Don't worry about me,” he told Madeline. “I, I think I'll be okay when I figure out how to stop being overwhelmed.”

    “Shuuu ra,” she said, coming close and nudging his cheek with her nose. Then she went back over to her previous spot and apologized.

    Hilbert remained kneeling, although he put his hand on a headstone for support. He still couldn't understand the words, but feeling the emotions helped him understand. When he focused on the group with Madeline, he figured out that one of the Litwicks with her was her mother. The Lampent was like an elder, a respected member of their community who dealt with arguments and advised the others. Madeline was asking permission of the elder and her mother to leave the tower, as she hadn't been permitted to when Banshee had captured her.

    However, some of the other Litwicks were not happy with this. They felt she should be punished for leaving without permission, even though she couldn't help how she left. A few were jealous, presumably because they had permission to leave but hadn't found a human to capture them. On the other hand, Madeline's mother seemed happy and proud that she had found a human she wanted to help. The Lampent was listening to all of this, keeping strong control over his emotions so that not even Hilbert could tell what he thought of this.

    After letting the debate go on for a few minutes, the Lampent caused his flames to intensify, silencing the Litwicks. He spoke again. Hilbert watched their motions with his eyes and felt their emotions with his mind, but the specific meaning escaped him. As best as he could tell, the Litwicks were given a test if they wished to leave the tower, and Madeline now had to pass that test to get full blessings from her mother and the elder.

    Hilbert felt curious about this. How many other people... no, how many other humans had been able to see something like this? The Litwicks were busily organizing themselves, deciding who would do what. Before he could figure out more about it, though, the Lampent came over to him. “Penna huu fiizz hu,” he said, holding his candle arms away. He wanted to know what was going on with him.

    How much could the wisdom of a Pokemon like this help him? Hilbert wasn't sure, but he explained about his powers. “I don't know why exactly my talent opened up further like that,” he said at the end of it. “I wished to be able to understand you, but then knowing the emotions of all of you was a lot to deal with. I'm going to have to relearn control over that sense.”

    The Lampent considered him, then pointed upwards. Looking there, Hilbert realized that whoever was sad was up another level, not here with the Litwicks. Maybe whatever was going to happen, the Lampent didn't want a human to see.

    “I think I understand,” Hilbert said. “You want some of your traditions hidden unless you really know the outsider. Okay, I'll go see who's up there.” On his way to the stairs, he passed by Madeline. “Good luck, my friend,” he said, patting her side.

    She hummed, grateful for his words.

    He wondered for a moment what was going on with his abilities. His psychic instructor told him that it was possible for such powers to develop further, but that it usually took time and dedicated study. Not sudden unexpected awakenings that came about because of a strong desire. Even Pokemon usually needed a time of practice to fully acquire new moves, or to upgrade moves in a sequence like Bubble to Bubblebeam. Unless there had been something blocking him from making full use of his empathy sort of skill. Maybe his narcissism had done that.

    But on the fourth level, Hilbert found a small group near one of the headstones. The sadness was more pronounced as it was coming from more than one source. There was a large older man there, with distinctive bright orange-red frizzy hair and a heavy tan coat. With him were a few Pokemon, including a Volcarona. “Good morning, Alder,” Hilbert said.

    “Morning,” he replied, looking over and not particularly wanting him to stay or leave. “Don't recall who you are, but I seem to think I've seen you around before.”

    To be polite, he offered a handshake. “It's been a long time; I'm Hilbert Godfrey.”

    Alder smiled a little and took the gesture. “Ah, yes it has been years. Huh, wouldn't really connect you to that self-absorbed brat. If you'll excuse me for saying that.”

    He shrugged. “It's fine. I know I was a pretty rotten one now, but I'm trying to improve.”

    “Good to see you paying respects to the dead too,” he said, then got up. “I ought to be heading back for today.”

    Hilbert brought his hand up. “Actually, we shouldn't leave quite yet. The Pokemon who live here, the Litwicks, they're doing something on the level below us. And I'm pretty sure they don't want to be interrupted.”

    “I see. Any idea of how long they'll take?”

    He shook his head. “No, but my Litwick is involved, so she'll come back to me when it's over.”

    “All right, so you came for her.” Alder looked over him, apparently thinking of something.

    “Right,” Hilbert said. “I would guess you're here to visit your friend.”

    His posture sagged at being reminded of that. “Yeah. I come here around dawn when I do; less people around.” He turned back to the headstone where several names were listed, momentarily touching 'Jinx the Scolipede'. “First one I've lost to death, although I've had to release a few. It's been tough getting used to him not being around anymore.”

    From the feel of his emotions, there was something that he wanted to talk about but was wary of doing so. Hilbert made a guess at how to handle this. “Do you feel responsible for his death?”

    Alder looked to him in surprise, but that seemed to be the key. “Yes, I do. Huh, you're the first person who seems to understand that, even though I didn't say anything yet. A lot of people have been telling me that it was a bad accident and there wasn't anything I more that I could have done. But I could have.”

    “Kruuu,” the Volcarona said, trying to comfort him. It flew closer to Alder in support, as the others drew near too.

    “I hadn't heard what actually happened,” Hilbert said. It likely wasn't a pleasant tale to hear, but he wondered if it might help to just listen. And there was a morbid curiosity about this incident that he couldn't deny was there.

    Alder closed his eyes, recalling things. “It was a battle between me and the current Sinnoh champion, a match that really wasn't worth more than regional pride. But you know how it is; lots of people get worked up about that kind of thing. It was a challenge for us, but we all put our best efforts into it, to make the people of Unova proud.

    “At a critical part of the battle, Jinx was facing a Medicham, a tricky match-up on both sides. He took a hard hit at a segment joint. He managed to take it out, but then I saw that he had a large crack in his body plates as an Empoleon was brought out. For a moment, I nearly called him back, but Jinx gave every indication that he still felt good enough to battle. So I let him give a heavy hit to the Empoleon; he got knocked out in the next attack, but my next Pokemon was able to take the Empoleon out in one more hit, which pretty much won the match for us.

    “I went to the on-duty nurse as soon as I could, since an injury that breaks a Bug type's exoskeleton is unusual. Only it turned out much worse than I had first thought: Jinx's skeletal plate had been knocked out of alignment, torn over halfway around his body. I knew at that point that I'd have to retire him but I thought he might live by forming a new skeleton and shedding the broken one. By the end of that day, the doctor found that his wounds were infected and he died the next day.

    “But I'm certain that the Medicham's hit couldn't have damaged him that badly. It had to be that plus the Empoleon knocking him out that made it that extensive. If I'd pulled him out as soon as I saw there was a crack, I might've lost the match and there's a chance I would have to retire him anyhow, but Jinx could have lived.” Alder looked back at the headstone. “As a Trainer who battles, I have to make the major decisions for our team and be accountable for everything that happens to the Pokemon with me. Of course I'm responsible for his death. I made a bad call and Jinx had to pay for it.”

    “That is a heavy burden to have,” Hilbert said, trying to imagine how that might be with one of his four current Pokemon. “But you have a responsibility to all of your Pokemon, right? They seem pretty worried about you.”

    “Caruuu,” the Volcarona agreed.

    Alder petted her head. “That's true. And Jinx would be pretty worried too if he saw me like this. Still, I worry about if I can keep up... oh, never mind.” He bowed his head. “Thanks for listening. Say, have you ever rung the bell at the top of this tower? They say that it soothes the souls of the Pokemon who rest here.”

    “No, I haven't,” Hilbert said. When he'd been traveling around Unova as a young teenager, he had not been interested in visiting a cemetery. “I heard it earlier; it has an unusual tone.”

    He nodded. “That's something else about it. Supposedly, it can speak for the soul of the one who rings it.”

    Put that way, it was intimidating. What could a bell like that reveal? Maybe something terrible. Then again, refusing to do so might hint at something terrible he was trying to hide. Despite his apprehension, Hilbert went with Alder up one more level to reach the top of Celestial Tower.

    Unexpectedly, there was someone else on the rooftop when they emerged, a woman in heavy blue jeans and a brown coat styled like a pilot's jacket. It took a moment for Hilbert to recognize Skyla, as she usually didn't dress this conservatively. Then again, it was cold with that light flurry today (thankfully it would get above freezing, so the snow pack might melt off). “Oh, good morning Alder,” she said cheerily as they walked up a ramp to the bell's platform. “It's like being in a snowglobe up here, isn't it?”

    “Good morning, Skyla,” he replied. And he did seem to be in a better mood.

    But something puzzled Hilbert. “What are you doing up here? The groundskeeper told me only one other person was in this tower this morning.”

    For a moment, she looked uneasy. Then Alder laughed. “What, you find it odd that the Flying type Gym Leader got up a tower without being noticed by people inside? We're always finding her in high places if no one has seen her arrive yet.”

    Skyla smiled and laughed too. “Right!” She turned and looked down into the air filled with swirling snowflakes. “I like to come up here in the early morning if I have something to think about. It's peaceful and calming, plus the view's magnificent.”

    “Is it about the proposal going around the League?” Alder asked.

    She lost her smile and nodded. “Yeah. I can see what they mean, but it's going to affect so much. Maybe not as much as what could happen if...” she looked at Hilbert and decided not to speak on that subject. “Anyhow, I ought to open up soon. Good to see you in a better mood.” She took a couple of steps away from them, then cupped her hands around her mouth. “Westa! Take me back to the Gym!”

    There was a call from out in the snow, then an Unfezant flew by, picked up Skyla with Fly, then took off into Mistralton.

    “You're right, that should have been obvious,” Hilbert said. But why had she felt like she'd been caught doing something she didn't want to admit to? It had only been for a moment, but he was certain it had been there. Since he probably wouldn't find the answer to that question, he went over to the bell and looked it over.

    It was made of a pale kind of metal, that or it had been plated with silver. Hilbert wasn't sure how to judge how well a bell was made, but this one certainly looked impressive, as tall as he was. What he could tell, though, was that there was some kind of power within the bell. And, he could see those little blue threads again, coming in and out of existence like sparks.

    “It may look heavy, but it's keenly balanced,” Alder said, coming up and putting his hand near the bell. The blue threads passed right through him without reaction, like they had with Hilda. “Just give it a push and step back.”

    “Okay,” he said, putting his gloved hands on the bell and doing as told. It swung out and began tolling; it was moderate uncertain note, that gave out a feeling of loneliness. It was like a mirror into his emotions, giving him a picture of them like how he sensed desire and now emotion in others.

    While it was still swinging, Hilbert looked at the strange lines. What was their meaning? He captured one in his hand and tried to see it.

    In the warm spring breeze, the bell was silent. It was swinging, but it made not a sound. Hilbert frowned. “What's the meaning of this? It can't handle me?”

    An old man with him looked uneasy. “It should make a sound. Unless it means that...”

    “What does it mean?” Hilbert demanded to know. But after the old man hesitated, he simply rolled his eyes. “Pretty lousy bell if it won't make a sound.” He turned and began to leave.

    But at the ramp, he met with Hilda. “Oh, hi,” she said. “Paying your respect to the dead too?”

    Seeing her only sharpened his foul mood. “What do you mean, 'oh hi'?”

    “Just being polite,” she said, shrugging.

    “What the hell is going on with you?” he asked. “I heard that you kissed N the other day. I thought we were going out.”

    Hilda gave him a critical look, crossing her arms over her chest. “Oh yeah, I thought we were too. But then I saw you making out with that crazy pink-haired girl. I figured that we were over with and you just hadn't told me yet, so I went for a guy who seems nicer and less likely to play around.”

    He tensed in anger. It was the truth, but no one else had seemed to care, much less tell him something like that to his face. “Him, nicer? He's the leader of Team Plasma; they're not nice.”

    “I think he could do better things and just hasn't realized that yet,” she said. “And compared to you, except when you're giving sugar-coated but all too often empty promises, yeah, he's nicer. Now are you going to say anything reasonable for a defense, or just depend on your sparkle to excuse everything?”

    Hilbert started to reach for a Pokeball (and was tempted to attack her directly), but then the old man spoke up, “Aaah, please, I'm sorry, but please don't disturb the dead. Some of them have suffered much and need the peace.”

    After glaring at them both, he turned and headed down the tower. A short time later, Hilda must have rung the bell. It came out bright and clear, full of energy.

    She's too much work, he thought. It had taken him a lot of flirting to get her into adoring him, while he could get other girls to practically worship him in much less time. Yet the challenge of earning her love was somehow more alluring and rewarding, even now when she was trying to break away. Especially now.

    He would get her to adore him again. For that, he had to do something about his rival. For Hilda, for the dragons, for the love of the region... he had to settle things with N.


    Alder had his shoulder. “Hey, Hilbert?”

    He shook his head. “Oh sorry. It's... it's a power I don't have control over yet. Did you say something?”

    Thankfully, he just smiled at that. “You spaced out there for a few moments. Although I was saying...” he looked at the bell. “I heard from one of the keepers of this place that this bell seems to respond to the state of love within a person, on multiple levels. You want to be loved, but also want to be in love.”

    “You think that from the bell?” he asked. Although that seemed right.

    “Anyone in mind?”

    He immediately thought of Hilda and blushed. Scratching his head, he said, “Yeah, I guess so. But she said she wasn't interested in love at this time. She just wants to be friends.”

    “Maybe it's the time to prove that you're reliable, someone she can depend on.” Then he winked. “But what could I know? Good luck.” He then patted Hilbert's arm and waved to one of his Pokemon. “Might as well fly away myself. Nice seeing you.”

    “You too,” he said. “Um, but just out of curiosity, if the bell responds to love, is it possible for it not to ring? What would that mean?”

    Alder paused. “You know, I asked that of the old man myself. Apparently it has refused to ring for some people. But it only does so when the person is incapable of love, or only has love for himself, or herself. I wish I knew why it does this; it'd be an interesting thing to know.” He then had a Braviary fly him and his Pokemon off the tower.

    “That must be true,” Hilbert said, considering what he had seen. He looked back at the bell and tried to catch another vision, but they eluded him this time.

    A few minutes later, Madeline came up through the floor. “Li li huu ra,” she said, bopping her body in a happy manner.

    “Did you get permission to leave with me?” he asked, then added, “And do you want to?”

    “Hoosssuuu.” She bowed, giving an affirmative and strangely respectful response.

    Hilbert smiled and picked her out of the air. “Great! We'll all work on improving ourselves, together.”

    And that pleased the Litwick more than any kind of flattery could.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

  21. #221
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    Dont forget to update your sig! I'm sitting around in a clothes store that happened to have wi-fi. THANK GOODNESS YOU POSTED A CHAPTER! I was so bored... I'm glad Madeline gets to stay with Hilbert. I have no idea how you'll be able to work out the Hilbert/N conflict. BTW you should make a story after this one that follows BW2's plotline! That'd be cool. BTW2 isnt it about time for a movie refrence? Dont take this wrong but I noticed a decreased amount of comedy in this fic. DONT DIE COMEDY RELEIF!
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    I used to liek mudkipz, then I took an arrow in the knee. However the arrow turned out to be a seaking. It yelled "F*** yeah" so I screamed "FUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!". The seaking's face became that of a troll while mine became forever alone. The situation was super effective.

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    Aww, Madeline is adorable. I like how they have the traditions to allow the Pokemon to leave the tower, very creative on your part. And at first, when I read that Litwick's flame was blue compared to Lampent's I thought you had forgotten Madeline was shiny. But I checked and yes, on a shiny it is bright blue. And has Hilda challenged the fourth gym yet? I feel like I missed something...

    Props for Kyurem finding out about the kiss!

    Great work as always; keep it up!
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  23. #223
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    So much depression . . . I really want to give N a big hug at this point. Not that I didn't want to do that already, but your interpretation of N is even more deprived and confused than the canon one. I already loved N and I already hated Ghetsis, but this fic is emphasizing both of those feelings further. Ghetsis truly is an evil creature. There is no moment that I await more than when N finally confronts Ghetsis, which inevitably has to happen . . . right?

    I also found it interesting to see Kyurem's "scary" side resurface again after Hilda and N's kiss. I love that dragon-boy, but I also worry about him . . .

    Secondary notes: I found it very sad to hear the story of Alder and Jinx and the Shadow Triad is really starting to creep me out.

    Also:

        Spoiler:- BW2 SPOILERS!:
    Last edited by GalladeRocks; 5th July 2012 at 8:40 AM.
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  24. #224
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    ^^ Ysavvryl's as psychic as her current avatar. She knows everything.

    That said, I take it the "flashside" was a look into the timeline without Kyurem? And the method of geting visions is very interesting...
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    Decided to make my comments without the coffee break (wha???) Partly to save a bit of time.

    The comic relief is here and there; I keep thinking about it in the terms of that line in Kingdom Hearts, something like 'the greater the light, the greater the shadow'. That's very much in effect. There's something in this chapter that I find amusing, but it may vary in how funny other people find it. Also, I think the fourth Gym battle for Hilda will be quite silly, but then *giggles*

    Yes, the flashsides are all over (nice term for it). Hilbert usually sees into the timeline Kyurem is from, but not always (like here). It's fun to shine even more angles on things.

    On the spoiler thing... really? Awesome! I've been told that Alder becomes even more awesome in the sequel, but that there is great. Again, I picked him mostly because he doesn't do or say much.


    Chapter 32: Meeting with a Distant Father


    2/8, late morning

    “We can agree on many of the best ideals: never harm another, do not steal, do not lie, help others above helping yourself, avoid jealousy, avoid anger, avoid greed. But while many people say these things are good, they rarely do them. Focusing only on themselves or those closest to them, people continue to use and abuse others, both human and Pokemon. This is where corruption builds and breeds, where the world has gone terribly wrong. Speaking words without meaning, doing things that are against the true ideal, this is where the ruination of a soul begins. And a ruined soul becomes... next to worthless.”

    Ghetsis shifted his stance. For a moment, N went tense, expecting a rebuke for faltering in the reading. They were in a small stark room in N's area, one he used to use for study. Now, he was using it to refocus himself, as it had few distractions. He had to make up for his pause quickly, so he started reading aloud quicker.

    “One must reconnect with the knowledge of right and wrong that everyone has. But society works against the morel, no, moral p-person to misle... misguide them and make them compri-compromise their...”

    “Calm down,” Ghetsis said sternly. “You should know all this already; you wrote that book.”

    “I know,” N said, lowering the book for a moment. Ghetsis had helped him out by ghost-writing it, but he had come up with the majority of its concepts and explanations. And they had done it when he had been seven. “I don't know why I knew this with such confidence back then, but now I have doubts.”

    “Because you let yourself get caught up in the corruption outside. You let yourself get weak and lose faith. But I believe you are not too far gone yet. You can set yourself right. But you have to work at it. Now that you have felt doubt, it will be much more difficult to hold onto a true faith.”

    “Should I have stayed here instead?” he asked, looking up from his chair.

    Ghetsis stepped closer to the desk and leaned on it. “No. More people will believe if you are out there showing them the proper way to be. Besides, there's no way to go back to what you once were. You have to focus on your goals, properly this time. But you were right to confide in me alone. We should not let the others know of your struggle, or their faith will falter as well. I understand you and I know how to help you. Keep a confident face in front of others.”

    N felt uneasy about that. While he did have a point that such a deception may be necessary, he didn't like that it had come to doing so. If only he'd been stronger... “How do I do that?”

    “You did moderately well the other day, in the meeting hall,” he said. “Although you started to lose control towards the end.”

    He looked down. “But it felt horrible. I wanted to get out of there.”

    Ghetsis rapped his knuckles on the desk, a signal that he shouldn't be looking away. “If you don't want people to know how you really feel, just smile at them. It may help you feel better, and it will make them think that you feel fine. N, look at me. Smile.”

    While he could look back up at him quick, smiling wasn't easy. N felt awful today, his emotions tugging at his mind so much that he was almost physically ill. He felt guilty about being tempted without realizing it, he felt guilty about remembering the Pokemon he had captured and let go, he felt guilty for letting his ideals get compromised, and he felt guilty about Hilda... well, an awful lot about her. How was he supposed to smile when he felt like that? But Ghetsis had suggested it. N forced himself to smile.

    “That will need work,” Ghetsis said. He opened up a drawer and pulled a hand mirror out of it. Placing that on the desk, he said, “Keep reading aloud and check yourself every so often to improve that smile. I'll send a messenger to get you when Hilbert arrives.”

    That was something to look forward to today. N nodded. “Okay.” As his father left, he picked up the mirror and looked at his own smile. It really didn't look natural. He tried a few moments, then picked the book back up and read aloud from it. When he did this, it was like his younger self was lecturing him as well.

    How could he have missed what was so obvious back then?

    -+-

    Their footsteps echoed in these grand halls. Hilbert was caught in fascination of this place. Like the lower rooms in Shira, this castle was made for the scale of the legendary dragons, not for humans. The hallways were tall and wide, with giant columns and long tapestries. Past the doorways, there were mostly rooms on a human scale; in one, Hilbert spotted a staircase that went to a higher room on the same floor. If they meant to let all Pokemon go, why did they build this as if the dragons might be here for a long time?

    “To be honest, I'm not sure where N is at the moment,” Giallo said. “He is in the castle, but this is a large place.”

    “How did you build this without no one noticing?” Hilbert asked. “Where are we, anyhow?”

    “I can't tell you where, and I didn't get involved in the how. At the time, I was mostly tutoring N and a few other members of Plasma, so they understood their roles better.” He paused by a room, then went inside. “Ah, Ghetsis. Excuse us for a moment, but I've brought Hilbert in. Where's N?”

    “He's studying at this time,” he said. “But he should be done soon. Since you're here, would you mind speaking with me alone for a little while, Hilbert?”

    It was a little strange to see Ghetsis without his cape, being in a dark green business suit instead; he was a tall and lanky man, of a thinner build than most people would guess. They were in a room that was like an old fashioned parlor, with a collection of chairs, a few low tables near them, a standing clock, a tea cart, and a radio that was playing classical music. In back, there was a small staircase that went up, as this room more on a human scale. While the setting seemed relaxing, Ghetsis wanted to control the situation. Hilbert could feel that desire for control strongly, enough that it blurred other emotions that he felt. There was a curiosity somewhere, but it was a distant feeling.

    Feeling that he should be able to handle this even alone with him, Hilbert nodded. “All right. I'll see you later, Giallo.”

    His uncle smiled; he was in a good mood, hoping that Hilbert would change his mind here. “I'll see you later, then. I'll be in my office checking over the schedules and other projects.” He then left the parlor, shutting the door behind them.

    “Please, sit down,” Ghetsis said, indicating the couches and chairs. “Would you like some hot tea? I'm afraid that we don't keep coffee or cocoa around here. There's ice water too.”

    He didn't mean to harm him, not immediately anyhow. Hilbert sat down, glancing around the room. There was a window across from the hallway door, but it was blocked off with locked shutters. “Some tea would be nice.” He rubbed an arm, feeling a slight chill without his coat. The rough texture of the chair didn't help with warmth. “This place was made for N?”

    “It serves as headquarters for Plasma, but yes, it was made primarily in honor of N.” He brought over a plain tan insulated teapot and three tea cups. Ghetsis poured his own tea, but let Hilbert do so for himself. “Why did you come here?”

    “I wanted to talk with him.” He looked over at the tea cart, but didn't see any sugar or anything else to put in the tea. “I thought if he was somewhere familiar, he'd be more comfortable and focused. And I was curious, based on what little he'd said.”

    “Giallo said you were resistant.”

    Having poured his tea, Hilbert tried it. On the edge of being too hot and with a bitter overtone; it could really use some sweetening, especially as it sat in that pot. “He's changed since I knew him as a child. Sorry, but do you have any milk or sugar around?”

    Ghetsis felt amused by that for some reason, but his expression showed none of that. “Oh, well I’m not sure. We don't use a lot of sugar and the milk would be kept elsewhere. Let me check.” He got up and searched through the storage of the tea cart. “I suppose he would have seemed to change to your perspective. We don't know everything about the people around us. Might not even know a fraction of that. By the way, what do you think about people keeping Pokemon?”

    Was he trying to catch Hilbert in saying something wrong? He thought that was likely, but he couldn't tell what Ghetsis might be thinking. It was easy to tell what Pokemon were thinking by feeling their emotions, as they usually didn't try to hide them. But humans did, and their feelings were more complex and mixed. “I'm not sure at this point, but I think they can help us,” he said after some thought. “It feels like I'm reevaluating everything lately.”

    “Would that be due to your curious passive Attract state?” Ghetsis asked. Then he pulled out a small ceramic bowl and took off the lid. “Ah, there's some sugar cubes.” He shut the cart's drawer and put the sugar bowl on the table with a soft chink.

    “Thanks,” Hilbert said, taking two cubes for his drink. N or Giallo must have been talking to him if he knew about the Attract thing. “Yeah, that's it. Being without it makes things... different, more difficult. My Pokemon are helping me adjust.”

    “You shouldn't have to rely on them for something you need to do yourself.”

    “They rely on me too, and they want to be with me.”

    Ghetsis gave him a critical look, as if silently asking if that was enough of an excuse. The old clock ticked out of time with the music. For a moment, it was like the uneasy atmosphere that had invaded his home. Hilbert was in a place where his opinions were unpopular, but for some reason they were tolerating him.

    Maybe N's acceptance of him was all that kept him safe here. Hilbert shifted in his seat. “Ghetsis, could I ask you about Stacy Gropius?”

    “What about her?” he replied with a slightly chilly tone. But his emotions told Hilbert that he was now the one uncomfortable with being put on the spot.

    That gave him some confidence. “Well she's our mother and you must know something more about her. I've been trying to find out who she was and what she was like, but that information is scarce.”

    Ghetsis considered that in silence for a few moments, clasping his hands together on his lap. Then he said, “I didn't know her all that long. I was rather more...” he tilted his head, “extravagant in my youth. I didn't really consider what was more important in life until N convinced me otherwise.”

    Trying to shift the subject away from her? Hilbert felt a spark of anger at that. “That's a lie.”

    “What?” Ghetsis asked, looking at him sharply.

    “You moved to Opelucid and rented an apartment with her about three months before we were born,” he explained. “You had taken a job as a gate attendant on Victory Road and you worked there for the next eight years. And you were quoted in her obituary in the newspaper, even though it was short. I found that out in a library because they kept around phone directories and newspaper records. But that's literally all that I have found on her so far, aside from the birth announcement. I can't even tell where you guys had moved from. You had to have known her at least for that year.”

    At that evidence, Ghetsis felt a strong desire not to talk about the issue, as well as an anger that was a sharp contrast to the calm look on his face. Maybe he still had unresolved feelings about Stacy's death, or maybe he did not like being asked about his private life. “It didn't work out as well as we thought at first,” he explained in a steady voice. “I remember that she talked a lot but seemed to hardly say anything in it. I gave her a home out of obligation more than anything, although it was shocking that she got killed the way she did. And then you two had disappeared, so I tried not to think about it for a long time.”

    This time, Hilbert didn't know anything to counter him with. He still didn't like it and wouldn't trust his word. “Could you at least tell me where you had moved from? Or where she lived prior to that?”

    “We moved from Lacunosa,” Ghetsis said, consenting to that much. “But I don't know where she had been prior to that. She certainly didn't know Lacunosa all that well.”

    It at least gave him a new place to look for information. “I see.”

    “Did you find out about how she died?”

    He nodded. “Yes, stabbed with some kind of knife in a major artery, and no one found her in time. The case still hasn't been solved.”

    “Very unsettling; please don't tell N about that.” He took a sip of his tea.

    “Why not?” Hilbert asked in a demanding tone. Why would he not share information? “He knows I'm looking into it.”

    “I mean about how she died,” Ghetsis said. “N's really a sensitive boy and he feels terrible for another person's pain and suffering. If he heard that she died from violence like that, he would take it hard. It was better when he thought she just disappeared from the world.”

    His anger started to make him tense, but he tried to restrain from bursting out. “If he is that way, then why did you send him out alone on the League Challenge?”

    Ghetsis shrugged apologetically. “He wanted to go and make sure his voice was heard. I tried to send him with others, but he resisted. Everything that I've done for a great many years now has been to help and support him. He got a little overconfident, but I'm sure he...”

    At that point, there was a knock on the door. The person entered without waiting, coming over to them. “Hilbert, thanks for coming,” N said, smiling and taking a seat in another chair. “Sorry I couldn't meet you in the teleporter room. I've been busy.”

    Hilbert smiled back. “Good to see you again.” Something felt odd though. N's emotions seemed made up of dull and tired colors, although no signs of weariness showed in his eyes or body. What did that mean?

    “What did you plan on doing today?” Ghetsis asked, looking at the both of them.

    “Uh,” N brushed a stray hair from his face, “Mostly talk, I think. I might show him around a few places in here and talk to some people. How long do you have to be here?” He poured some tea for himself and looked at the sugar bowl as if it was out of place.

    Hilbert shrugged. “I don't have any other plans for today.” He pushed the bowl over closer to N, since he seemed to want it.

    That caused a strange reaction where N was conflicted over whether to take the sugar or not. For some reason, Ghetsis was watching these small actions and taking note of them. Hilbert was puzzled about why this was, but he decided to keep quiet about it for now. Maybe they really didn't use much sugar around here.

    No one else mentioned it while they continued talking. After some small talk assured him that Ghetsis wasn't going to try anything with N around, Hilbert straightened up and asked. “Well one of the things I really want to know, from you two in particular, is why Plasma is taking any aggressive tactics when your stated purpose is actually rather peaceful? And why you'd trouble to go so far as to awaken Zekrom when you mean to separate Pokemon and humans in the end. And not any of the fancy rhetoric, just plain answers.”

    “The issue does seem simple, just getting people to stop hurting Pokemon,” N said, in a tone that was oddly like he was reciting something. “But the sources of the problem go very deep, within the very structure of modern society. People depend so much on Pokemon, for building, for protection, for everyday activities. They do this so much but view Pokemon as beneath them. If we tried to simply teach them this was wrong, they would consider laughable. I was lucky to find people like Ghetsis who believed in me early on, so that we could develop this into something even skeptics would consider.”

    “And even when you try peaceful large-scale tactics, all too often people won't listen because it disrupts their comfortable lives,” Ghetsis said. “It will be a shock any way it goes, so we might as well be bold.”

    “Won't it disrupt all of society then?” Hilbert asked. “On both sides. Pokemon have rituals concerning humans.”

    “They do?” N asked, puzzled.

    He nodded. “My... the Litwick with me, she had to go through some kind of ritual challenge in order to be allowed to stay with me, when I went to return her to Celestial Tower. I wasn't allowed to see it, but it was apparent in the way they were behaving before I was made to leave. Plus all the people who have jobs involving Pokemon are going to be out of work if you succeed. It seems like your proposal would cause chaos and uncertainty.”

    N was worried to hear about that, but Ghetsis spoke up quickly, “That kind of uncertain period can be expected during any major change in society. The trouble is that current society has some wrong beliefs at its core; that must be dealt with in order to make a truly better world.”

    “True, you can't just make a large change like that overnight,” N said.

    Ghetsis checked his watch, then got up. “Pardon me, but I have a meeting to get to. Don't cause any disruptions to the work of others.”

    “We'll try not to,” N said as Ghetsis left the room, picking up his cape from a coat rack that was in the corner..

    After the door was shut, Hilbert said, “Why's he giving you orders if you're in charge?”

    “He's one of my advisers, as well as the man who took care of me for much of my life,” N said. “I respect him because of that.”

    “It's not like we were planning on making trouble.” He glanced at N, who was looking at the sugar bowl again. “If you want some of that for your tea, go on and take it.”

    Turning pink at that, N stammered out, “It, it's not that; I usually don't put sugar in my tea. I was just wondering what it was doing there because it's usually not used and it's odd that it has sugar cubes. Unless he felt that you might want them, so I guess that would be just polite.”

    “All right, it's not worth a big fuss,” Hilbert said, trying to sound reassuring. “I like it because it balances out the bitterness.”

    “Added sugar isn't good.”

    He shrugged. “It's not much. Unless you're diabetic?”

    “No.” He still seemed uncertain. “That might help, but you have to be absolute about things.”

    Why was something so simple not? “You're over-thinking it. Just try it since you want to.”

    N took the bowl, but hesitated again. “You can't be lax with ethics.” He put it back down.

    “It's not complicated enough for ethics,” Hilbert said, feeling frustrated but trying to hold that back. “It's just food, well drink, but same idea. If you start going that deep with that idea, you might as well skip out on all cooked foods because they're mixed and altered.”

    “Really?” N asked, intrigued by the idea.

    He felt a twinge of guilt; maybe he shouldn't have suggested that. Was he really that gullible? “Um, don't try that, honestly. It's probably unhealthy and I have no idea how you'd do that right.”

    After a moment's consideration, he nodded (if a bit reluctant). “That does sound extreme. I guess I could try one. You wouldn't mention this to the others, right?”

    Hilbert nodded. “Right.” Feeling that he wanted some more reassurance, he added, “I won't say anything about it.”

    “Thanks.” He took one of the cubes and stirred it into the tea. “Have you heard from Reshiram again?”

    “No, I haven't,” he said, thinking of the Light Stone which was in his bag. “Kyurem did say to give them a bit more time before worrying, but it's hard not to. And the Stone hasn't reacted to anything all this time.”

    “Neither has the Dark Stone,” N said, then took a sip of his tea. “Hmm, that is better. Anyhow, Zekrom's form has been still, without a single spark. It's even a little cool to the touch.”

    “So is the Light Stone, but I thought it was just because I was outside a lot again.” There was something strange about it. If the two dragons were alert and aware of them, then one would expect their hibernating forms to react in some way.

    “Do you think maybe that it's because of Kyurem?” N's worry brightened, at least to Hilbert's sense. “Zekrom might be able to be cool, but Reshiram should be emitting heat. If Kyurem's power is blocking them off, that could explain why they're cool to the touch.”

    “Wouldn't they be icy then?” But the thought was troubling. “Kyurem's been rather protective of Hilda when I've meet with them, but not in a bad way.”

    “His role is that of a destroyer. I tried to warn Hilda when he wasn't around, but I don't think she was convinced.” N started talking about that particular evening, and since it seemed to be bugging him, Hilbert let him. It seemed like Hilda was going through with her plan to sway N. But then he said that she had kissed him.

    A burst of anger erupted in response to that, causing Hilbert to tense. She had kissed him? He wasn't sure if he was mad at her or him. Probably both. She had said she wasn't interested in having a boyfriend, but maybe she just said that because she was interested in N. For a moment, there was a feeling that Hilbert was the one who should have Hilda, not N.

    Before he could lash out, he noticed how N was torn and unsettled again. That was enough to let Hilbert check his anger and consider the circumstances. N had admitted that he'd never been kissed before that. Knowing her, Hilda probably couldn't resist doing so just to get a reaction out of him. It was a hard temptation to resist; he knew because he done similar things before. Now it wasn't looking like a harmless action anymore.

    “You ever been in love before, even just a crush?” Hilbert found himself asking.

    N shook his head. “I never considered such a thing. I noticed how some Pokemon courtships went, but didn't think about it myself. I didn't have much time for that kind of thing. There was so much to study and learn about being a proper king and hero to Zekrom. Any free time I got, I spent with my Pokemon friends. Do you think she's in love with me?”

    I am not the person you want to be asking that, Hilbert thought. Then again, who could N ask? It seemed suspicious that he had been called back right after that incident. “I don't know,” he said. “She mentioned to me that she's not interested in having a boyfriend right now, so she might have just been messing with you.”

    “I don't know if I want it to be like that or not,” N said. “I can't afford being distracted from my goal much more. But even when I've decided on that, I keep thinking about her. Ghetsis says to just forget about it because it'll lead to trouble. Maybe after things have changed. Do you know how to get a girl to like you?”

    “I'm not the right person to ask about that, as I used to be able to do that without any effort,” Hilbert pointed out.

    “Right,” N said, then sighed. After a moment, some idea came to him. “We might not get anywhere with that, but I do know one place I want to show you. Where's your coat and things?”

    “Over by the teleport room,” he said, getting up as N did.

    “We should go over there and get them, then stop by my room. Let's go.”

    For as big as this place was, the people were few. Or maybe they just seemed few because of the large scale. They weren't dressed in armor down here, instead having simple clothes with solid colors. When the two of them passed by, these members of Plasma stepped out of their way immediately, bowing their heads or speaking reverently to the both of them. Especially N. They worshiped him, if not in words than at least in their hearts. It was quite different from the celebrity status Hilbert had had.

    In contrast to the other halls, N's area was deserted. The floors and tapestries were much cleaner, it was quiet save for the echoes of their feet, and none of the rooms had their lights on until N turned them on in his bedroom. Hilbert waited out in the hall, but after a moment, he got curious and peered into another doorway.

    “What's up with that room?” he asked when N came back out wearing his winter coat.

    “Oh, that,” he said, getting his hat on before working on the scarf. “That's why you don't let a nine-year-old design the rooms he wants and then give him exactly what he asked for.”

    Hilbert chuckled as they headed off towards the upward stairs. “Oh really?”

    “Well it was more of I'd been given a catalog and told to point out things that I liked,” N said. “I really don't have much use for it now, but I know they worked hard to give me this place and the castle, without using Pokemon to build it.”

    “That's pretty amazing, that they could manage that.”

    “That's how things should be,” N said, then paused on the stairs. “Oh right, since we're going outside, I need you to promise that you won't tell anyone where this castle is. I really shouldn't risk it, but I think it's important that you come.”

    He knew that the others he might be working with would like to know where this place was. But he also knew that he needed to keep the trust of his brother (although the matter of Hilda would have to be... settled, somehow). “Okay, I promise I won't reveal that.”

    N smiled, relieved. “Good. We shouldn't meet anyone from this point, but let's hurry.”

    After a couple more flights of stairs going up (including one point where N pointed out the throne room, but Hilbert only got a glance that gave him the impression of cavernous), they came to a simple metal door that led to a path inside a hill, heading out. Once out in the open, it was difficult to tell that there was a castle underneath the ground. There were occasional ventilation chimneys, but the only one Hilbert could tell was the nearest one. It was camouflaged to look like a tree. Otherwise, it just seemed like a rolling grassy plain at the edge of a forest.

    He couldn't immediately identify where he was, and N led him towards the forest before he could find a landmark in sight. “This is where I lived before I met Ghetsis,” N explained, his emotions brightening. “It's still my home as much as the castle is.”

    “You seem to love it more out here,” Hilbert said.

    He blushed at that. “I guess I do. I have a lot more freedom and the people who wait here for me, the Pokemon, they don't expect anything but my friendship.”

    For the first couple of minutes that they walked in the forest, things were quiet. There were the occasional Pokemon calls, things that N listened to but didn't bother to translate or respond to. Then they arrived at a small clearing where there was a fallen tree. The stump had been smoothed out so that it could be safe to sit on. Once there, a large black wolf Pokemon emerged from the trees and came to N's side, looking at Hilbert cautiously.

    N petted the Zoroark's head. “He's fine,” he said quietly. Then he spoke up into the surrounding area. “Don't worry, my friends. This is my brother, Hilbert. He won't hurt you; I wanted to introduce him to whoever was brave enough to come out.”

    The Zoroark made a soft bark, shifting his stance.

    “He can't understand you, so it might take a little time for us to talk.”

    With N's reassurance, more Pokemon came out from the forest to the clearing. He seemed to be familiar with all of them, responding to their greetings and trying to keep Hilbert in on the conversation. Much of it seemed to be happiness at N being back, worry about Hilbert but accepting him if N said he was okay, and talk of how the winter was hard. It was a blur of emotions: fear, happiness, uncertainty, relief, curiosity. Hilbert tried to block it out so that he could pay attention.

    Once he succeeded, he began to notice something about these Pokemon. Most of them looked as if they had been through rough lives. There was a Lillipup that had some patches of fur missing with rough skin showing, apparently signs of old burns. There was an Unfezant that was missing one of his feet, with only a stub of a leg on his right side. There was a Tepig that had a limp because of a bad leg. Even the ones that didn't have physical scars were timid and uncertain to some degree to have an unfamiliar human in their midst.

    It didn't take Hilbert long to realize that N knew the story behind nearly all of them.

    “There's been others who have made it here but did not live long,” N said, after telling Hilbert about some of them. They were sitting on the fallen tree now, having brushed the snow off. The Zoroark lay with his head on N's feet, while the burned Lillipup was brave enough to come onto Hilbert's lap for attention. “I don't know what it is about this place that draws them. None of them have been able to tell me, not even the most intelligent. A few were dropped off by Plasma workers, but even when I was very young, Pokemon seemed to come here to hide from humans. But Darcy thought it was important that I learn to live among humans, and now I can do something more than just comfort these Pokemon after the fact. I can prevent them from being hurt at all.”

    “I see.” And being here with the Pokemon N was thinking about when he set up Plasma, it was hard to argue against him. No one should want to see a Pokemon to end up like this.

    The one-footed Unfezant leaned over and said something to him that made N pale a little.

    “What's wrong?” Hilbert asked.

    N looked down, causing the Zoroark to lift his head. “He asked if I've found supporters outside the forest. It's been very hard even finding other humans who will listen, like Hilbert here. The Pokemon I meet out there don't want to believe me either. They want to go with humans because they believe it will help them. Yes, I know it could hurt them, but the wild ones doubt me.”

    “Wouldn't Pokemon be more willing to listen to you since you can listen back?” Hilbert asked.

    “I thought that myself,” N said. “They're more blunt about arguments, though, since those arguments are usually simpler. I'm still learning about the other humans' beliefs and way of life too. And about what people like you have lived with.”

    “I might not be the best source for what the average person is like,” Hilbert said. He tried to pet the Lillipup; thankfully, it (she?) seemed to appreciate that. “But I do know a lot of the media and hype around Trainers.” Since N and the Pokemon there seemed interested, Hilbert went ahead and told them about popular things and beliefs, even sharing parts of his own life.

    It was evening by the time they came back into the castle to get to the teleporter room. Hilbert felt that he could have his Rufflet Regal just Fly him away, but he decided to respect N's wishes and go this way. N had told him about his own life too. While it helped Hilbert to understand him better, it also made him worry about leaving N here with his followers and advisers. In particular Ghetsis whom Hilbert trusted even less now. But did he want to give up his Pokemon and freedom in traveling in order to be a closer support to his brother? Having only met him in the past few months, he wasn't sure what to decide.

    “Where are you going to go?” N asked.

    “Lacunosa,” he said, not even thinking about it. “I'm still looking into information on our mother and that's where my next lead is taking me.”

    N smiled at that, genuinely interested. “That's good. What have you found out about her?”

    “Her name is Stacy...” he paused, glancing at the person who was in the room with them. He didn't want to follow Ghetsis' advice and keep the truth from N. But, he didn't want to add to his current troubles either. “She died not long after we were born. Nobody knows why or what all happened, but we were reported as kidnapped. I haven't really got much more. I do have some pictures, though.”

    “Really?” N stepped closer as Hilbert tried to find the scans he'd made into his Xtransceiver. When he touched his arm, a peculiar vision came.

    They were outside, playing with remote controlled cars in an open plaza. From the white stone, tile designs, and flower bed holders, this was Lacunosa. A bridge passed overhead, with the stairs to the upper level of town on the other side. There was an unmarked and unremarkable door nearby, with a tinted glass that let light in without revealing what was inside.

    They were just kids, not even ten. Hilbert had a black and yellow car that he was racing between the concrete flower holders. N had a dark brown and green car that was easily outrunning Hilbert's although it was proving difficult to steer. On turning a corner, it skidded and flipped over. “Oh, now what?” N said, going over to it. “I had enough trouble with it jerking around at first.”

    “That's cause you messed with it yesterday,” Hilbert said, in a taunting manner. “They're good enough on their own.”

    “But I did get it to go faster.” He stopped when he noticed the car smoking, then yelped and jumped back when fire burst out of it. It smelled immediately of burning electronics and plastic.

    “Watch out!” an odd voice called out. A Wingull flew down and used Water Gun to put the RC car fire out. “You okay?”

    “Yeah, we're fine,” Hilbert said, then made a face. “That smells awful.”

    “But I worked so hard to make it better,” N said, then turned as the door opened. “Mom!”

    “What's going on?” she asked, concerned and looking them both over. Her short brown hair was loose, only held back by a headband. She was dressed casual but nice in a blue blouse, darker blue vest, and a long skirt. When N came running over to her, she put her arm round him. “I thought I saw fire.”

    “i messed up again,” he said, upset.

    “His car caught on fire,” Hilbert said. As much as he teased his twin, he knew all the effort he'd gone to in trying to make the car better. “But he had it going really fast this time, like twice the speed of mine.”

    Stacy patted N on the back. “Well you must be improving then. You took pictures of your work this time, right?” When he nodded, she said, “I'm still on the clock, but go take the car and the pictures over to the school shop. I'm sure the teacher will still be around, and he can tell you what went wrong.”

    “But I wanted it working for the young engineer's show,” N said, worried that with this car wrecked he couldn't get the project together in time.

    “That isn't until August; you have lots of time.” For a moment, Hilbert was conflicted on what to say. But the fact that he did want to see him succeed decided it. “You can work on mine, but you have to make sure not to make it go up in flames too.”

    She smiled at him, silently thanking him for making the offer.

    “Thanks, but I'll keep trying with my own allowance money,” he said, letting go of their mother. “I might need to do some extra work to keep at it, though. Do you think the shop teacher will let me work some there?”

    “I don't see why not, since you're in there after school so much already,” Stacy said. “Go on, or you might miss him.”

    “Okay, we'll see you back home,” Hilbert said, shutting off his car. “Come on, I'll come too.”


    “That's who she was,” N said, half questioning it and half stating it. “But we were never together as kids.”

    “It was what could have been our past, not what was,” Hilbert said. “I wonder if that could help me now.”

    “Was that place Lacunosa?”

    He nodded. “I'm sure of it. It's the only place in Unova that looks like that. Unless we were in another region entirely, but somehow I doubt that.”

    “I hope you do find her. And thanks for coming today. I think you've helped me figure out a few things.”

    Hilbert smiled and shook his hand. “You've helped me too, I’m sure. I'll see you around, whenever you get back on the road.”

    “Maybe in the next couple of days,” N said. “See you later.”
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

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