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Thread: Chronicles of Unova (PG-15)

  1. #276
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    I love this fanfic!!! I'm only on Chapter 3 (yes, I know, I need to catch up) but can you add me to the VM list?
    Signature edited due to exceeding the gif size limit. Please read the signature rules before editing your signature.

  2. #277
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    I love the series and am a big fan
    Only just caught up
    It is funny, exciting and an all round good story
    Can't wait for the next chapter



    Paula's awesome
    I've been inspired to catch a ralts and call it Paula

  3. #278
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    Hey can I be on the PM list

    Name: Wobby
    Adopt one yourself! @Pokémon Orphanage



    Name: Buzzy
    Adopt one yourself! @Pokémon Orphanage



    Name: Sombrero
    Adopt one yourself!@Pokémon Orphanage




    Name: Houdini
    Adopt one yourself! @Pokémon Orphanage

  4. #279
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    I've read through the entire fic... Even though it's quit fast-paced, I still very much like it. Thumbs up!

    (Please add me to the PM list)
    Check out my newly-opened Trade Shop!!!
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    I have claimed Volcarona!
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    FC: 3411 0844 2159

  5. #280
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    Like Cosmic Fury, I've only just caught up with this and I must say, it's come quite a way. This is one of the good things about your fic: it has no placce for "filler chapters". The fact that you've managed to keep your cast smaller is also something commendable. Reading about the heroes and their teams' growth and exploits was a very enjoyable experience. Inserts from other pop cultures and fourth wall demolitions keep me chuckling. Yep, your characterization is definitely your strong suit. :P

    However, there are a few things you may have to watch in future, two of them are more pet peeves than anything. I'll start with them.

    Firstly, the number thing. Oh my, the numbers thing. While it detracts nothing from the fic per se, outside of mentioning adresses (Route 9, etc), years (although this is rare) or numbers as the cast see them (The clock on the desk read '10:30' in bright red neon), doing so otherwise is rarely seen as professional to me. I rarely see it myself in other novels and would urge you to put a bit more effort into writing numbers in full.

    Next I'd say is description, particularly of events. True, the story moves quickly, but please don't forget to paragraph wheneversomething new happens. And sometimes things happen a bit too quickly, or conveniently. I know it's your story, but sometimes things spell out 'Stu' but I guess you can get away with it (lest Paula tells me to 'S.T.F.U.' :P )

    Next is homonyms. They're not so prominent here (another plus: bad spelling and the like is a pain) But maybe take a closer look when you use words like 'pique' and 'peak'. You make that particular mistake more than once.

    Lastly, although this is terribly minor in the grand scheme of things, you're telling the reader what you want them to see. A good writer tells, a better writer shows. Yes, everyone on the forum boards (or a staggering majority) will know what Frazure and Snorlax look like, but for the sake of those who may not know and would like to, try dumbing it down a bit. Compare them to shapes and other things that ANY reader will get. It is good but there are quite the holes here and there.

    Lastly, the references popping up in the middle of a chapter may be a bit off-putting. Things like listening to themes and sources for random comments are fine and good, but they're more at home in the Author Notes at the beginning or end of the chapter. Remember, even if this is for fun, a bit of professionalism as you advance in chapters will help.

    Well, I think it's safe to say I'm out of points for now. But I'm definitely keeping my eye on this one. You've got a good thing running mate!

    L@er!
    The Corei Quest's latest chapter: Chapter Forty Seven: Tricks of the Trade (24 April 2014)
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  6. #281
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    The "A Challenger Appears" contest is now over. Submissions are no longer being accepted and a winner will be announced in the next chapter. Please see the Author's Notes below for more information.

    * * *

        Spoiler:- Author's Notes:


    Chronicles of Unova

    Chapter 27: Anthea & Concordia – The Boy Who Would Be King
    Part 1 of 3

    “Details on the cause of this horrific accident are still unconfirmed as forensics crews examine the crash site. As we reported at the start of the hour, all of the occupants of the vehicle have been confirmed dead by first response teams, save for the vehicle’s owner, famous film star Brycen. The actor is currently in critical condition in the Icirrus City General Hospital, but the staff there are not releasing specifics at this time. Brycen has performed in such landmark films as ‘When Dawn Breaks’ and ‘Poison-type Harry.’ The nation collectively holds its breath as one of its greatest treasures fights for his life. Live from Icirrus City, Channel 4 News.”

    A crackle of static washed across the TV in the bar as the news report ended; the storming rain and heavy winds outside were distorting the signal. A pitch black night had fallen, and with it had come the rains.

    It was a Sunday night in winter. The few patrons of the rundown pub were largely oblivious to the conditions outside, drowning their own unique demons in the amber reflection that stared back up at them from inside their mugs. The alleyway outside was wet and dirty, the city beyond it not much better. The bar itself was dry, but not much else. The ceiling leaked, the floorboards creaked, chairs were broken, glasses dirty, and the perpetual smell of cigarette smoke hung stained in the air. A sad, lazy melody drifted from an ancient jukebox in the corner of the room. This was no place for atmosphere or those of culture; this hole-in-the-wall served one purpose and one purpose alone. The “business” made its livelihood as a cyclical breeding ground for collective misery.

    A young woman sighed as the report ended. She rose from her seat and stretched her shoulders, inadvertently straining her already-too-tight uniform against her breasts. She scowled as she remembered her constraint; if she didn’t know any better, she might have forgotten that that wasn’t what they were selling. Her co-worker beside her rolled her eyes and changed the channel.

    “Shame about what happened to Brycen, isn’t it, Jen?” the one who remained seated asked. The woman who had risen shrugged and walked behind the bar counter.

    “Not like it really affects us.” she replied. “I never cared much for his movies, and it’s not like he’s ever done anything for us.” she continued. Her friend sighed and rested her weary head on top of her hands on the bar counter.

    “I dunno… I always thought he was pretty cute.” she said dreamily. “It’s a nice thing to pretend about though, isn’t it? Just imagine what it would be like; Brycen the movie star comes walking in that door one day and whisks us away in his limo. Wouldn’t that be something?” she asked. The girl behind the counter scoffed.

    “Ha, yeah. Brycen the millionaire movie star is going to show up in this little shithole bar and decide that out of the four billion women in the world he could have, that he wants to spend his time and money on a couple of dead end waitresses like us. Keep dreaming, Viv.” she replied. Her friend chuckled and then sighed.

    Jen and Vivian were waitresses at the bar. They were both in their early twenties and had both grown up together on the streets. Jen was Vivian’s elder by a couple of months, but the two had always been closer than sisters for their entire life. They had slight figures and modest assets; the requirements of their job forced them to highlight what little they had however. Vivian had shoulder length hair, while Jen wore hers much shorter. The girls had been through a hard life and were generally not much better off than any of the patrons they served. The two had gotten their job about two years prior and had made it their home ever since. Living dollar to dollar, the young women had resigned long ago that this was their role in life. Never anticipating the destiny that was about to befall them, they had come to accept the poverty, filth and crime that seemed to be the natural elements of what made up life around them. Unlike nearly all of the other women in their lives however, they refused to supplement their meager income by turning tricks. Through it all, even under enormous societal pressure, somehow they had managed to remain pure. It was a quality they held in proud esteem.

    A dirty, drunken old man was passed out in a seat a few rows down from them at the bar. He was face first on the counter and hadn’t stirred in over an hour. They had assumed he was stone drunk as usual, as he was a regular customer at the bar, but having overheard their conversation, he grunted and lifted himself up.

    “Some’un like Brycen would’n give a crap about you two bein’ bums, ya dumb broads. He would’n help ya ‘cause yer a couple uh sluts.” he slurred out in a semi-conscious stupor. Vivian lazily flipped the old man off with her free hand, not bothering to lift her head from the counter, but Jen was much more irate.

    “Shut the fuck up, Frank. How many times do we have to tell you we don’t do that?” she said angrily. The man snickered without lifting his drunken head.

    “You ain’t no different than anybody else, Jen. Everybody’s got a price and you ain’t no exception. Just takes a bigger man than me to name it.” he replied. Vivian had heard enough and stood up.

    “Come on, Frank. You’re drunk again and we know you’ve spent all your money. I think it’s time for you to go on home.” she said sweetly. She walked up and tried to help him stand, but he was resistant.

    “Aww, you ain’t gonna make me go out there in that rain, are ya, lovey?” he asked pitifully. “I’ll freeze to death out there!” he complained. Vivian smiled and helped him stand.

    “No no, you’ll be fine, Frank. Up you go, come on. We’ll see you again tomorrow I’m sure.” she replied. Vivian faced him in the right direction and gave him a little push. Frank began clumsily walking towards the door, but he wasn’t making very good progress.

    “I’m gonna… I’m gonna find that pot uh gold, I tell ya. I’m gonna do it and then you won’t be able to kick me out…” he mumbled in his drunken slur. “I’ll be back, and I’ll name your price, Jen! Jus’ you wait’n… ‘n see…” he continued, hiccupping as he went. Jen rolled her eyes from behind the counter while Vivian laughed at his comments.

    Just as Frank reached for the door, it opened unexpectedly and a flash of lightning struck outside. The noise combined with the unexpected movement of his target caused Frank to lose his tenuous grip on balance and fall. A man stood in the doorway, his features obscured by the darkness of the night outside.

    “Hey you asshole, what’s the big idea?!” Frank managed to stutter as he uncoordinatedly tried to pick himself up off the floor. The man in the doorway seemed to not notice him at first however, sizing up the room and its scarce occupants from behind an icy gaze.

    The man was extremely tall, nearly filling the entire doorframe with some help from his billowing cloak. The coincidental lightning strike that had hit just as he opened the door gave him an ominous air. Having scoped out what he needed to ascertain about the room, he looked down and noticed the drunken man on the floor yelling at him.

    “Oh, terribly sorry, my friend. Did I startle you?” he asked quietly in a deep, powerful voice. Frank glared at him but took his hand as the man offered him help up. In a surprising show of strength, the mysterious man grasped Frank’s wavering hand and lifted him to his feet in one fluid motion. Frank seemed completely oblivious about what had happened; one moment he was on the ground, and the next he was on his feet again. The man offered a polite apology again and sent Frank on his way through the door, all the while ignoring the drunkard’s continued bitter mumblings about “naming Jen’s price.” Closing the door behind himself, the mysterious man entered the bar and stepped into the light.

    The man wore a glistening black trench coat, soaked from the rain, and had long, flowing green hair. He wore an eye-patch over his right eye and carried himself with a regal air. He slowly began walking towards the bar, but took long strides and reached it in only a couple of paces. He took a seat and looked across the room at the now curious women.

    “Evening, hon’. You’re a new face in here. What’s your name?” Jen asked as she walked up to take his order. She smiled and leaned on the bar opposite him, revealing even more of her chest than her uniform already did. The man smiled and reached for her hand.

    “Ghetsis.” he answered. “My name is Ghetsis Harmonia. The pleasure is mine.” he said regally. He kissed the top of her hand and Jen blushed.

    “I’m Jen and this is my sister Vivian.” she said politely as Vivian joined her behind the bar. Ghetsis cocked an eyebrow in surprise at the remark however.

    “You girls are sisters?” he asked. Jen stood back up and pursed her lips.

    “Well, no, technically not biological. That’s just how we explain it though.” she replied. Ghetsis smiled and, releasing Jen’s hand, reached for Vivian’s now as well.

    “Well it is a pleasure to meet the both of you regardless.” he said as he kissed the back of Vivian’s hand in turn. The ladies smiled politely and nodded.

    “What’ll you have?” Jen asked. Ghetsis maintained his confident smile and closed his eyes.

    “Just a glass of water please, my dear.” he said. The women were surprised by his unusual request but didn’t argue with it. Vivian drew the water in the least dirty glass they had and set it beside him. Ghetsis smiled and paid for it immediately.

    “Anything else?” Jen asked. “Anything to eat maybe?” Ghetsis shook his head however and continued smiling.

    “No, thank you. You’ve both been lovely.” he said. The women were understandably surprised by his polite demeanor and strange order in comparison to how their clients usually behaved, but they weren’t going to argue with the pleasant change of pace. Leaving Ghetsis to himself and his curious order, they went back to their work.

    The night continued to drag on and several hours passed. Midnight came and went and still the strange man sat at the bar, occasionally pecking at his lone drink. Jen and Vivian never exchanged further words with him, but they occasionally felt a strange sense on the backs of their necks. Whenever they would look over, the man was simply staring into the somewhat clear glass; they couldn’t shake the feeling that when they looked away however, his gaze would drift over to them. Their suspicions were in fact the truth, but Ghetsis never let them catch him staring. Eventually the early morning came and it was time to close the bar.

    Most of the other patrons had left by this point. The rain had stopped and the jukebox had been silent for over an hour. Sunrise would not be for several more hours; the only light outside was from the reflection of streetlights against the smog in the sky. Ghetsis still had not stirred, and more than half of his drink remained untouched. Vivian approached him as Jen began closing up.

    “Um… sir?” Vivian asked somewhat apprehensively as she approached. “We’re closing up for the night. You need to leave now, please.” she said. Ghetsis turned to face her, having broken his concentration, and shot her a fiery, piercing gaze. It was unnerving and sent a shiver up her spine. As quickly as it had come however, his stare softened and a small smile crept upon his lips.

    “Of course. Thank you for your accommodation.” he said politely. Rising to leave, he tipped his hand towards her and headed for the door.

    “H-have a good night…” Vivian stammered as he left. He either didn’t hear her or didn’t respond however, leaving without saying a word.

    “What a weird guy…” Jen muttered under her breath from across the room. Vivian sighed and went to help with the final tasks before they could close up.

    Around ten minutes later, the girls were nearly ready to close for the night. The tables had been cleaned and the glasses all washed and put away. Only one final task remained to be done before they could retire to their second floor apartment above the bar: taking the evening’s trash to the dumpster behind the building; this was not nearly as trivial as it would normally have been however.

    The portion of the city they had grown up in was dangerous and rife with crime. In the middle of the night, under a moonless sky, the silent, remote back alley was a dangerous place for a pair of attractive young women such as themselves. Having collected their baggage, the two went out together for protection, just as they did every night. They stepped out and shut the door behind themselves.

    “Going to be a cold winter…” Vivian murmured idly as they headed around behind the building. The winter air seemed particularly cold, prompting her remark, but it mostly served just to calm her nerves. Jen nodded but remained silent.

    The typically rather menial task was still largely safe and trivial, even under their unique circumstance. Nothing like what they feared could happen had ever happened to them since their childhood, and they didn’t necessarily ever expect it anyway. It was just a good safety precaution given the environment in which they lived. Something felt off that night however. Maybe it was just the lack of moonlight, maybe it was just from stress, but Vivian couldn’t help continuing to feel something strange. That same strange sensation of being watched that they had felt while Ghetsis was in the bar continued to dog her; it was as if the sensation came from his mere presence and not instead from his eyes. They began heading around behind the building, but Vivian was apprehensive.

    “Hey… do you hear something?” she asked. She slowed her pace a bit, but Jen kept walking.

    “No…? What is it you hear?” she asked nonchalantly. Whatever Vivian was sensing didn’t seem to be having the same effect on Jen.

    “Wait, wait, shh…” Vivian whispered. A soft rustling noise was coming from around the corner behind the building. “There it is again.” she said.

    Jen stopped to listen and could faintly hear it too. The noise sounded like someone moving around on the other side of the corner. She motioned for Vivian to catch up to her and the girls slowly approached the bend. Cautiously peeking around the alley to where the dumpster was, they didn’t see anything at first, but the noise was now more distinct. Vivian began to grow more and more nervous.

    Creeping towards the dumpster to finish their task, the girls continued to move quietly as so to identify the source of the rustling sound. As they got closer to the dumpster however, they realized it was coming from inside of it. Whatever was making the noise had stowed away inside, waiting for them. Vivian held her breath as Jen went to open the lid.

    “Three…” Jen mouthed. “Two… one…” she continued. When the countdown finished, she quickly reached for the lid and flung it open violently. Backing away, she instinctively reached for the small vile of pepper spray she had learned to keep handy during moments like this in their childhood. Bringing the canister to bear, she was relieved by the sight she saw.

    …Trub?” a hungry, doe-eyed little Trubbish asked. The confused Poison-type cocked its head in surprise at the girl’s strange behavior. As Jen relaxed her stance, the Trubbish went back to rooting through the trash for a meal.

    “Oh…” Vivian murmured. She blushed as she realized how obvious the source of a rustling sound coming from a dumpster was. “Must have just been my nerves…” she said under her breath as a cop-out. She followed it up with a slightly embarrassed cough.

    Jen sighed and hefted their bag of trash into the dumpster beside the Trubbish. The hungry Pokémon seemed fairly oblivious to the girls as it searched the scraps for something to salvage. Sighing as the adrenaline spike began to die down, Jen went to close the lid, but Vivian stopped her as she realized what she was doing.

    “Hey wait, don’t do that!” Vivian exclaimed, reaching out to her friend’s arm to stop her. “Don’t just close it in there; how will it get out?” she asked. Jen cocked an eyebrow at the strange remark.

    “The same way it got in, I guess. It’s a Trash Bag Pokémon; what’s wrong with it being in a dumpster?” she asked. Vivian shook her head and reached in to grasp the small Pokémon.

    “Come on, Jen, we’ve got to help the poor thing. It looks half starved!” she protested. Jen remained confused and surprised by her friend’s reaction to discovering the Pokémon.

    “We can barely feed ourselves, Viv; we’re not getting a pet, especially not a Trubbish. Put that thing back and come on inside.” she explained. Vivian began to pout however and held the Trubbish against her chest.

    “Aww come on, Jen, just look at that little face.” she cooed, holding up the little Pokémon in her arms. The Trubbish had a fairly confused look on its face; the stench alone kept Jen away. She made a face and covered her nose as Vivian displayed it to her, but Vivian just laughed at her friend’s reaction.

    “Ugh, god, Viv, get that thing away from me! Come on!” Jen said disgustedly. Vivian just continued to laugh.

    “Well I think it’s a little cutie.” she said, turning the Trubbish around to look at it. “Aren’t you, sweetie? Yes you are.” she cooed. The Trubbish smiled at all the attention.

    Jen was growing cold standing out in the winter night in her skimpy uniform. She was also beginning to get impatient with Vivian’s insistence on playing with the Trubbish however. She folded her arms and began tapping her foot, but Vivian was oblivious to the gesture.

    “Viv, come on now, stop playing. We need to get back inside.” Jen explained. Vivian tossed the Trubbish up in the air a ways and then caught it, ignoring her friend’s protest. As the Trubbish left her grasp for a moment however, Jen noticed something peculiar about it.

    “…hey, wait…” she murmured. “Viv, look at its back. I didn’t think those things had tails.” she said confusedly. Vivian cocked an eyebrow and turned the Trubbish around to look.

    Low and behold, a peculiar black, bushy tail seemed to be sticking out from the back of the Pokémon’s body. It didn’t match the color of the rest of its body and seemed very out of place. Vivian was just as confused as Jen was by the discovery; in the distance, the shadows began to move…

    “Hey yeah, that’s really weird…” Vivian murmured. She held the Trubbish up again and looked straight in its eyes. The Trubbish maintained its confused look, seeming to not understand the problem.

    “Trubbish, what are you–” Vivian started to ask, but as the words left her lips, the Trubbish began to smile. Its grin was unnerving and revealed its rows of sharp teeth. It blinked its large, oval-shaped eyes, but when they reopened, they were glowing bright red. Vivian gasped as the Trubbish began to change form.

    “What’s going–” Jen started to ask in a panic, but before either of them could say more, the Trubbish belched out a massive cloud of noxious smoke. The fumes quickly engulfed the girls and blinded them. Choking on the gas, they both fell to the ground unconscious in a matter of seconds; the Trubbish leapt from Vivian’s slacked arms and landed back in the dumpster, still grinning wickedly.

    From down the alley, a pair of tall, dark, shadowy beasts began to approach. They were each over 5-feet tall and had glowing red eyes, similar to the Trubbish. The monsters snarled as they approached and moved to inspect the girls as the fumes cleared. Seeing its family, the Zorua that had tricked the girls broke its Illusion and hopped down out of the dumpster.

    The pair of Zoroark bent down and sniffed at the unconscious girls. Satisfied that they were fully out, the Illusion Fox Pokémon each took one in their clawed paws and hefted them over their burly shoulders. The Pokémon exchanged a few terse growls in their language before nodding at one another and backing away into the shadows again. The bar was never closed that night; the Zoroark retreated undetected.

    * * *

    “I knew you two weren’t sisters…”

    Consciousness began to return to Jen’s mind. Her sight was blurred and her head spun, but she could feel her senses returning to her slowly. A noxious odor of brimstone filled her nose, though she couldn’t identify it as such. Her arms and legs hurt and she couldn’t move them when she tried, but she couldn’t tell exactly why. She was aware of the fact that she was sitting, but not much else beyond that. More and more definition began to come to her as she slowly reawoke.

    When they finally came to, the girls found themselves in a hazy, stone room. Shadows twisted and the only light came from torches along the walls. The environment was certainly frightening by itself, but fear truly set in for them when they realized they were bound to the chairs they found themselves seated upon. Their feet were tied to the legs and their hands tied behind their backs. Dreading the worst, they began to panic.

    “Viv?” Jen whispered. “Viv?! Vivian, wake up! Wake up!” she continued. Vivian was regaining consciousness now too; the sights and senses Jen had just identified began to set in for her as well.

    “W-where are we? What happened?” Vivian asked groggily. The same sense of panic began to slowly set in for her as well as she began to figure out what was going on.

    “We must have been kidnapped! We’ve got to get out of here!” Jen continued to whisper frightenedly. As the girls began to inspect their bonds more closely, they realized their work uniforms were gone. Their clothes had been replaced with lavish silk gowns. Not exactly a downgrade, but it confirmed that their captors, whoever they were, had at least some interest in their bodies; not something that boded well for the defenseless young ladies.

    “Oh, you two won’t be going anywhere just yet…” a mysterious voice said from behind them. The voice was of a man and was quite deep. Jen recognized it somehow but couldn’t place it.

    “W-w-who are you?” she asked timidly. “What do you want from us?” she continued. The man chuckled and walked between the chairs in front of them. As he came into view, they both recognized him instantly.

    “You–… you’re the man from the bar.” Jen stammered as she saw him. Ghetsis continued to smile and turned to face them. He wore a wicked grin and tipped his hand to them as he had when he left the bar.

    “Indeed I am…” he crooned half mockingly.

    The girls had now shaken their disorientation completely and had fully regained their senses; completely rational thought was still a bit beyond them however as fear continued to grip their minds. The only thought on Jen’s mind was escape; Vivian remained fearfully quiet and let her childhood protector guide the situation.

    “What do you want from us? Why did you bring us here?” Jen asked. Ghetsis continued to smile but remained silent.

    “…well?” Jen asked again after a moment of silence. “Are you going to do something or just stand there? What do you want?! What’s going on?” she began to shout. Ghetsis still remained quiet, his grin growing just the slightest bit wider.

    “Please sir, don’t hurt us.” Vivian spoke up fearfully. “We’ve been through so much in our lives, please don’t take that last bastion from us.” she pleaded. Ghetsis snickered at the idea but continued to say nothing.

    “Goddamn it, answer us!” Jen shouted. She was becoming extremely flustered from Ghetsis’ refusal to talk, combined with the stress and fear of her capture. Ghetsis cocked an eyebrow and, still grinning, held up a finger. Jen’s loud noise spurred another loud noise; from behind the girls, a baby began to cry.

    Blank, confused looks instantly set upon Jen and Vivian’s faces. The sound they were now hearing was so utterly unexpected amongst the sheer terror of their environment, they had no idea how to respond. Their fear began to melt away, replaced by confusion and a lack of knowing what to feel.

    “… is that a–” Jen started to ask, but Ghetsis stepped forward and grasped the backs of their chairs. He turned them around so they could see the other side of the room behind them. From where Ghetsis had appeared when they first woke up, a modest crib sat all alone in the middle of the room; a baby’s cries were coming from inside.

    Now it was Jen and Vivian who were silent. Ghetsis continued to smile unnervingly as he went to the crib and pulled out the crying infant. Holding the baby in his arms, he began rocking him gently to pacify his sounds. The baby calmed down and began falling back asleep; Ghetsis continued to hold the child in his arms however, much to Jen and Vivian’s surprise.

    “Please don’t shout.” Ghetsis murmured. “You’ll wake him again.”

    The girls were dumbstruck. The fear that had first gripped them was beginning to subside, but the confusion they felt was only growing stronger. Wherever they were still obviously wasn’t home, and they were still bound; Jen spoke up again to get some answers.

    “Sir, what do you want from us?” she asked slowly and deliberately. Ghetsis smiled and continued to hold the baby in his arms. Holding him out for them to see, Ghetsis finally began to speak.

    “This is my newly adopted son, N. He was born just days ago to a terminally ill mother and an absent father. I have taken him in as my own.” Ghetsis explained. He laid N back down in the crib and began to pace about the room.

    “Allow me to begin from the top. My name again is Ghetsis Harmonia. I am a professional visionary, and I seek to change the world.” he explained matter-of-factly. “I am in the early stages of creating an organization that will allow me to do just that. It shall be known across Unova as ‘Team Plasma.’ Someday, it shall become the most powerful force of action in the entire world, and I shall be at its head. However, none of this shall come to pass without N, and this is why I need your help.” he continued.

    Ghetsis spoke with a royal, commanding tone to his slow, deliberate style. He held his head high as he walked and made sweeping gestures with his hands. Jen and Vivian were enraptured by his quality of speech, almost forgetting the conditions in which they found themselves. Ghetsis continued.

    “As a pure, moldable infant, N holds within himself the potential to reawaken a great power. It is only with this power that Team Plasma may succeed in the way I have envisioned. Tell me… are either of you familiar with the Prophecy of Unova?” he asked. Jen and Vivian both slowly shook their heads “no,” almost dazed by his flowing words.

    “Ahh, very well; no matter though. You shall learn in due time.” Ghetsis sighed. “The Prophecy of Unova is ancient lore of our region, drawn from the time when the land was first created. It tells of a Hero who mastered a powerful dragon, and brought his ideals into practice with it. Putting a few other details aside, this dragon had extraordinary power, of which I need for my organization. I believe that, if raised and nurtured properly, N could become this Hero foretold in the prophecy, and you two are going to raise him to do just that.” he finished. Jen and Vivian were stupefied.

    “We’re… we’re what?!” Jen stammered. “We’re not going to raise your kid for you, you lunatic! Let us go!” she exclaimed.

    “Yeah! Why should we help you? What about our own lives and our job and our home?!” Vivian chimed up.

    “What about them?” Ghetsis responded without missing a beat. Jen and Vivian were silenced by his commanding reply.

    Ghetsis smiled at the reaction his brief answer had garnered. He put his hands behind his back and began pacing again, chuckling under his breath as he went.

    “You insult me to suggest that I would leave the training of my own son, a Hero-to-be, to a pair of randomly picked strangers, especially those from a background such as yours. I am nothing if not calculating and precise, my dears; you shall learn that about me very quickly.” he began. “I have been watching you two for several days now, learning as much about you as I could to gauge you as candidates for this most important of jobs. You two are uniquely qualified, believe it or not, and I plucked you from that rat-hole for my own specific reasons.” he continued.

    “Why us?” Jen asked softly. “What reasons?” she continued in her daze. Ghetsis paused to draw breath before continuing.

    “Consider what little you have to offer, dear girl. You two have nothing in your lives; no friends, no family, no lovers, no money, no place you’ve ever truly called home. This is what makes you valuable however. You two have nothing to miss and no one to miss you. Yet through it all, you both have somehow remained pure. These are qualities you can pass on to N, and they make my offer uniquely tempting for you.” he explained.

    “In your lives there is nothing. There never has been and there never will be. You both can keep working at that dive bar until you are old and gray and never make a cent more than what you need to stay alive. I am a man of wealth; a man of power. I can offer you any material thing you could ever need, or ever want. You will have a whole new life here, free from the dangers and pains of the life you have always known. This is a golden opportunity for you two I am offering. You will make history as the mothers of the Hero of Ideals, and live a life of comfort and ease while doing it. You have nothing but to raise N exactly as I specify in order to attain these things, and you in turn are the perfect candidates for my own needs. You would be fools not to take it.” Jen and Vivian were stupefied in silence.

    The proposition was truly a fascinating one. The sense of overwhelming fear and danger they had felt upon waking up had now completely left them. No thought occupied their minds beyond what Ghetsis had just told them. This actually was a chance for them to escape the life they had always known. That said, it was frightening and vastly new, and they couldn’t shake the fear that it was a thinly veiled deal with the devil. Jen’s mind went back to the previous night and her fleeting conversation with Frank.

    “You ain’t no different than anybody else, Jen. Everybody’s got a price and you ain’t no exception. Just takes a bigger man than me to name it.”

    The girls had been silent for well over a minute by now. They were both lost in thought as they pondered Ghetsis’ world-shattering offer. Ghetsis could practically read their trains of thought on their faces. He smiled as the gravity of his offer took effect. In a final show of good faith, he reached beneath his cloak and pulled out a switchblade. Calmly walking towards the still bound women, he cut the ropes and set them free.

    Jen and Vivian shot each other a glance. It was a terrifying offer, but they could sense in each other’s eyes that they were thinking the same thing. Frank had been right about one thing at least: everybody had a price. Jen was afraid, but she knew somebody had just named hers.

    “Alright… we’ll do it… we’ll raise your son.” she murmured. Ghetsis grinned devilishly and reached out to take her hand.

    “Excellent decision, my dear; you won’t regret it…” he proclaimed.

    Ghetsis returned to the crib and lifted the sleeping N back out. As Jen and Vivian rose from their seats, he approached and gently handed the baby to Jen. For all their time on the streets, neither of them particularly knew what to do with a baby. It was a completely foreign experience, but also seemed strangely natural. The girls looked down at N’s face and could feel that they had made a sound choice.

    “Remember our deal now.” Ghetsis said. “You two shall live a life of ease, free from want or desire, but you must raise N exactly to my specification…” he explained. “…and the first thing to change shall be your names.”

    Jen and Vivian perked up at the strange request they thought they had heard him say.

    “You–… you want to change our names?” Vivian asked in confusion. Ghetsis nodded firmly and laid a hand on her shoulder.

    “My son, the Hero of Ideals, shall not be raised by urchins from the streets. He shall be raised by queens, not by peasants.” Ghetsis decreed. “From here on out, you shall be known as Anthea Harmonia…” he explained, “…and you shall be Concordia Harmonia…” he said, turning to Jen. “The Goddesses of Team Plasma.”

    Jen and Vivian were taken aback by the strange command. Their whole world had been so fundamentally changed so quickly, and now their very names would also change? They were hesitant to accept, but they knew there would be no backing out now. They nodded their heads silently and submitted to Ghetsis’ command. He smiled once again as the wheels of his plan began to turn.

    And so Anthea and Concordia, the Goddesses of Team Plasma, came to be.

    * * *

    [Continued Below]

  7. #282
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    Chronicles of Unova

    Chapter 27: Anthea & Concordia – The Boy Who Would Be King
    Part 2 of 3

    Six years came and went. N had grown under Anthea and Concordia’s care and he was now a child, come of age when he would normally have begun formal education. The time had come for the Hero-to-be to begin learning of the world and the monumental role he would have within it. N knew nothing of the world beyond his father, his mothers and the castle he had never been outside of however; Ghetsis held firm control over whom and what his son was to interact with. He had instructed Anthea and Concordia to bring N to the castle’s study and wait for him there. The goddesses had guessed as to his reasons, given N’s age, but were curious themselves as to how he planned to do it.

    “Concordia, what do you suppose my father wants to discuss with me?” little N asked politely. He sat in his father’s seat behind the grand wooden desk; the regal, sturdy chair dwarfed his small body. Anthea and Concordia sat beside him on his left, waiting with him for his father’s arrival. Concordia smiled and laid a hand on his shoulder.

    “I wish I could tell you, N, but we don’t know either.” she replied kindly. The women had grown and matured under their task during the years. N had been raised in luxury as Ghetsis had promised, but it was such an abnormal upbringing that they often worried about him. They had grown sweet and kind towards the boy they had grown to adore so much, losing much of the harshness from their previous life. They would still remember it occasionally in dreams, but N and the castle had become their lives now.

    “We have our suspicions, but we really know just as much as you do for certain.” Anthea appended. N was content with the answer and smiled at his guardians. In his absent naivety, his mind had been pacified and he began examining the knick-knacks and books which lined his father’s shelves around him. The room fell back into silence.

    In truth, while Anthea and Concordia had grown accustomed to their duties raising N, nothing too extraordinary had yet been asked of them. Ghetsis had made it very clear to them the night they were abducted that he would have specific commands for them when it came to the details of raising the future Hero, but nothing of the sort had ever come up. If pressed about it, they wouldn’t have even been able to describe what Ghetsis meant by the word “Hero.” N had never had human interaction with anyone besides themselves and his father, but his interaction with them was nearly constant. None of them were ever allowed outside of the castle either, but the opportunity to do so had never even presented itself. Every door the goddesses went through seemed to lead to another cobblestone room like the last one, and never to any kind of escape even if they wanted. There was a courtyard in the middle of the castle with a garden that N would play in every day, but otherwise, none of them had ever seen the outside world since N’s birth.

    Those two abnormalities aside, Anthea and Concordia had largely been free to raise N as they would have their own child. As such, they had come to think of him as their own, and in his mind he was. N had never questioned the fact that he had two mothers and a father. He had never questioned where he came from. He had never questioned the fact that the world seemed to be nothing more than four people and a castle. He never questioned these things because he had no basis to believe anything else could exist. It was the ultimate sheltered life, so much so that the world to him seemed to be nothing more than what he could see. After all though, why should he have believed any different? No evidence to the contrary seemed to exist as far as he could see, and he led a life of bliss, free from want. There was no reason to question it, so he never did. After a few more moments of silent waiting, Ghetsis entered the room with an ancient tome in his hands; he intended to change all that.

    “Good morning, Father!” N said excitedly as Ghetsis finally arrived.

    “Lord Ghetsis…” Anthea and Concordia murmured respectfully, bowing their heads as he entered.

    Ghetsis flashed his son a rare smile as he entered the room. Beyond that however, he didn’t say a word. Explaining nothing, he handed the book to Anthea and then drew a chair opposite N in the corner of the room. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes.

    “My son, do you know why I have asked you to take time from your routine of play to meet me here today?” he asked. N continued beaming at his father, though Ghetsis didn’t see it.

    “No, Father; I was just asking Anthea and Concordia about that before you arrived.” he replied.

    “Hmm, and do you know what it is I just gave to Anthea?” he asked.

    “No, Father.” N said again.

    Ghetsis nodded his head and crossed his arms, sitting up a bit straighter in his seat. “N, do you know what ‘science’ is? Or the meaning of the word ‘mathematics?’” he asked. N once again shook his head, now a bit more confused than he had been before.

    “And N, do you know what a ‘Pokémon’ is?” Ghetsis finally asked. N shook his head for a final time, beginning to grow concerned by the many new words he was hearing.

    “I’m sorry, Father, but I don’t know what any of those things are.” he said worriedly. He was beginning to fear he was giving the wrong answer. Ghetsis smiled however and finally opened his eyes.

    “N, would you like to know what those things are?” he asked simply. “Would you like to learn?” he asked. A light began to shine in N’s eyes. His smile lit up and he shook his head “yes” vigorously.

    “I would, Father, I would!” he exclaimed, seeking approval. Ghetsis smiled again and rose from his seat.

    “My son, I have kept you sheltered within this castle all your life. You have never met another living soul besides myself and the goddesses; we are all you know.” Ghetsis began. “This view of reality… your view of reality, is fundamentally flawed however. There is a whole world beyond this castle more vast than you could possibly imagine.” he continued. N wore a dumbstruck look.

    “I know this is a lot to spring on someone of your age, but it is time for you to know. This world beyond the castle is inhabited by creatures called ‘Pokémon.’ These beings control the very forces of nature. The rise of the sun, the breeze of the wind, the healing power of the water, the dryness of the ground; these things are all because of the influence of Pokémon.” Ghetsis continued to explain. “Pokémon are the most powerful creatures in this world, and they have chosen you to be their leader. It is time that you learned of their past, my son, so that you may become their king.” he concluded.

    N was but a child of six. He had been raised to be mature and responsible for his age, but even so, news such as this had rocked his small mind. He was undeterred by it however, unafraid of this vast new truth. N’s vacant look slowly began to yield to a smile. N tried to contain it, but it was a harshly uphill battle. The grin on N’s face grew larger than the goddesses had ever seen. He was absolutely ecstatic, as if a whole new world had just been discovered. He was, of course, this ecstatic because one literally had.

    “They… they’ve chosen me?” he asked in shock. Ghetsis smiled and closed his eyes again, nodding “yes” but a single time. N could barely contain himself from excitement.

    “This new world is one you will someday conquer, N, so you must learn all that you can about it. Never forget that you are special, my son; you are uniquely chosen as a Hero. We will teach you of science, history, literature, mathematics, and perhaps most importantly, of Pokémon. This journey of knowledge for you begins today.” Ghetsis explained. N was overcome by this tidal wave of roaring possibilities.

    Anthea and Concordia smiled uneasily at N’s excitement. While they were proud and happy to see the child they had come to love so much beside himself with such excitement at these new possibilities, they were also keenly aware of the parts of Ghetsis’ story that weren’t exactly true. They didn’t voice these concerns, lest they disobey their benefactor, but they had unknowingly drifted off into thought pondering the ramifications of them. Anthea was startled as Ghetsis then turned to her.

    “Anthea, Concordia, I am entrusting you with this book for the purposes of teaching N from it. It is hundreds of years old and a priceless artifact, so I trust you will treat it carefully.” Ghetsis murmured levelly. “It is on the Prophecy of Unova. You are not to explain any of the material in it to him. You are to read from it to him for ten minutes a day, every day, until you are told otherwise. When you reach the end, you are to begin again from the start. Is this clear?” he asked firmly. The goddesses nodded, confused but without reason to question him. Ghetsis took the book back from Anthea momentarily, found a page within it, and handed it back to her. “Please read this passage today, and then begin from the start of the book tomorrow.” he explained.

    Anthea looked down at the book and began pre-reading the words to herself. Ghetsis moved towards N and motioned for him to rise, sitting behind the desk where N had been and allowing N to sit on his lap with him.

    “Tomorrow, N, you will begin learning of science and mathematics and of the world beyond the castle. The mystery and the apprehension you feel now is normal, and rest assured it will subside as you begin to learn. For today however, just listen to this story Anthea is about to tell you. This is a story about Pokémon, and it will become very important to you as you continue to get older.” he explained soothingly. N smiled brightly and got comfortable on his father’s lap as he awaited the exciting prospect of learning of this new world. When N was ready, Ghetsis nodded to Anthea to begin.

    Anthea was confused by what little she had read to herself already. She held up the book and began reading from where Ghetsis had marked, but her tone was very uneasy.

    “Um… let’s see…” she began. “‘And so…’ um… ‘And so the Dragons were… were sealed away, their b-bodies turned to stone and… and their spirits locked inside. The…’ um… ‘consciousnesses of each Dragon were set dormant within the… stone orbs… trapped but not d-destroyed, as their… power could not be overcome.’” she stammered. She was had no idea what it was she was reading and it seemed very foreign and arcane to her. Ghetsis could tell she was uneasy. He shot her a stern glare as she looked up.

    “L-Lord Ghetsis, is this… what is this?” she asked worriedly. Ghetsis continued to glare however and did not answer.

    “Concordia, perhaps you should read it, hmm?” Ghetsis asked sternly. “Please read it properly.” he commanded, trying to not frighten N but still leveling his disapproval at her behavior. Anthea blushed from embarrassment and looked away in frightened shame. Handing the book to Concordia, she began trying to read the passage herself. Concordia simply did as Ghetsis asked. She read evenly without considering what it was she was actually saying.

    ‘And so the Dragons were sealed away, their bodies turned to stone and their spirits locked inside. The consciousnesses of each Dragon were set dormant within the stone orbs, trapped but not destroyed, as their power could not be overcome. The stones were hidden from the wandering lust of mortal eyes, their locations lost to the eons of time. The old kings joined them in the dust, with their sons yielding to the same fate, as did their sons after them, and their sons after them. The Dragons lay forgotten amongst the sand, but unlike their mortal counterparts, they did not and could not die. The Dragons could never be killed, and their power could never fade away. The stone orbs wait for the return of a Hero to rediscover them and continue the war. When one who is pure of ideals and one who is pure of truth rediscovers them, the Dragons shall once again live and shall once again wage war over the land of Unova. So claims the prophecy…’” she said. When she reached the end of the page and began to turn it, Ghetsis rose and took the book from her.

    “That will do for today, Concordia. We will continue this tomorrow.” he said curtly. He closed the book and set it on the desk. Without saying another word, he left the room. N looked to his mothers in worried confusion, both at his father’s actions and of the meaning of the strange story. They could offer him an answer to neither however. N’s schooling would continue from there, but it had been an unfortunately rocky start.

    * * *

    “N, come down! Your father says he has a special present for you!”

    Two more years had passed and N was now 8. In fact, he was 8 years old exactly, as it was his birthday that day. Anthea called up to him and stirred him from his sleep. Remembering what day it was, his sleepy mind cleared in an instant and he excitedly ran down to meet her in the main hall. He came bounding down the stairs with a grin on his face like she hadn’t seen since he began his schooling. It was infectious and made her smile too.

    “Morning, birthday boy.” Anthea said wryly as he came running up. N beamed and gave his guardian a reactionary embrace.

    “Good morning, Anthea! You said my father wanted to see me?” he replied excitedly. Anthea chuckled beneath her breath at his zeal.

    “He does. He says he has a special surprise birthday present for you. Concordia and I got to take a peek while you were asleep and I think you’re going to like it.” she answered. There was an aloofness to her tone that just made N even more excited.

    “Can we go now? Can we?!” he asked almost frantically. Anthea continued to smile and took his hand.

    “He’s in the study.” she replied. N continued to beam as she walked him to the room.

    Ghetsis and Concordia were waiting inside when they arrived. Concordia smiled upon seeing N so full of excitement, but while Ghetsis flashed a small smirk as well, his was decidedly less genuine. N ran to his father upon entering the room.

    “Father!” he exclaimed in his youthful excitement. “I have heard the news! What is it, what is it?” he continued. Ghetsis’ small smile faded at N’s outpouring of joy. N had run up to try and embrace his father as he had Anthea a moment earlier, but Ghetsis was unnerved by the gesture. He motioned towards Concordia to distract the boy for a moment as he went to fetch the present.

    “Good morning, N.” Concordia said, trying to get his attention. N turned to her and flashed her his smile as Ghetsis rose.

    “N, today is an important day. You are now eight years of age. You have been doing very well in your schooling and have learned many things since we began.” Ghetsis started to explain. “You have learned much of the world beyond the castle and you have learned much about Pokémon, haven’t you?” he asked. N turned away from Concordia and back towards his father. He shook his head “yes” several times vigorously.

    “N, can you tell your father who Zekrom and Reshiram are?” Anthea asked sweetly. N shook his head again at the opportunity to impress his father.

    “Zekrom and Reshiram are the Dragon-type Pokémon from the prophecy! Zekrom is the Deep Black Pokémon and was the dragon of the Hero of Ideals, and Reshiram is the Vast White Pokémon and was the dragon of the Hero of Truth.” he replied studiously. Anthea and Concordia smiled and clapped politely at his answer; Ghetsis grinned that same unnerving smile that he had when N had entered the room.

    “That is absolutely correct, N, very good.” Ghetsis murmured. “You have heard stories about Zekrom and Reshiram for two years now and you have learned much, but there is still one more piece of the story you need to learn.” he continued. N’s eyes looked like saucer plates.

    “You know that Zekrom and Reshiram existed in the distant past, don’t you?” Ghetsis asked; N nodded silently that he did. “And you understand that beyond the castle, while Zekrom and Reshiram are out there dormant somewhere in the stone orbs, other species of Pokémon exist and live in the wild?” he asked again; N once again nodded in affirmation.

    Ghetsis folded his arms behind his back and closed his eyes. He walked towards the door and stopped, his back to N.

    “N, would you like to meet one of them?” he asked softly. N whole body suddenly went numb with excitement.

    Ghetsis left the room for a moment, leaving the three of them in trepid excitement. He returned a moment later carrying something beneath his robes. He walked towards N calmly, placed the small red object on the desk across him, and stepped back. The small bundle of fur began to unravel itself.

    N had never seen another living creature besides the goddesses and his father. He had occasionally seen bugs flying around the garden outside, but he had never equated them to the life he saw in himself or his guardians. The object before him moved on its own, gave off heat, and after a moment, looked at him from behind bright white eyes. The creature stretched its short arms and legs and blinked several times to adjust to the light. When it finally brought its gaze towards N, a grin spread across its mouth. The creature stretched its arms towards him and cooed in an inviting curiosity, “Darumaka?

    N hardly knew what to think. The sum of all living creatures in the world as he knew it had just grown by a full quarter. He timidly reached a hand out to touch the Pokémon, knowing virtually nothing of what may happen. The tiny Fire-type gave off heat in the immediate space around its fur. It warmed N’s fingers as he brushed up against it. The baby Darumaka was timid at first, shying away from N’s touch. His slow, calm movements and his natural aura calmed the Darumaka in time however. It grasped N’s finger with its small, three-fingered hands and examined it. The Pokémon was but a child and put N’s finger in its mouth as a pacifier. N began to chuckle at the success of his first encounter with a Pokémon.

    “N, this Pokémon is to be your friend. Someday in your life, you will befriend every Pokémon in the world, not the least of which shall be Zekrom. The journey of a thousand miles begins with but a single step however, and you take that step here today with Darumaka.” Ghetsis said calmly.

    “Happy Birthday, N.” Anthea and Concordia appended in unison.

    N was spellbound. He could do nothing but sit and laugh with his new friend by his side. Though they all had their suspicions about what may come of this in the years to come, it was in truth the start of a powerful relationship. N in time would come to be able to befriend every Pokémon he met, and he would eventually reawaken Zekrom, just as Ghetsis had claimed. The Darumaka would always remain one of N’s closest friends.

    As they watched the pair play, Anthea and Concordia felt a rare sense of comfort and repose. N was happier than they had ever seen him. The promise of Pokémon he had been fed for the past two years did not disappoint. The moment was peaceful and serene, as if nothing could spoil it. Still though, through it all, something still seemed just barely off. Even when they were their happiest with N, something about Ghetsis and the castle always had a faintly sour taste around the edges. They had never felt a complete sense of correctness since before their abduction. They couldn’t quite put a finger on it, but something about the Darumaka seemed strange. It was warming up to N and the two seemed to be getting on as best as could be expected, but there was a slight reservation in the Pokémon’s movements. It seemed to be getting close to N, but not exactly too close. They couldn’t identify it, but something felt off.

    “Lord Ghetsis, may we ask where the Darumaka came from?” Concordia whispered conversationally. She genuinely meant no disrespect by it; it was just idle conversation.

    “Was it bred in captivity or caught in the wild?” Anthea appended. They both whispered so to not disturb N.

    Ghetsis closed his eyes and set his hands behind his back. It was slow and faint, but he began to crack a smile. The curious grin was the same as the one he had worn when N entered the room a few minutes prior; there was a disingenuous feeling to it, but he did a good job hiding it. He chuckled to himself and did not answer. Leaving N to his new friend, he walked silently out of the room.

    * * *

    Four more years passed and N came to befriend many more Pokémon. The process was always the same; Ghetsis would summon N and his guardians, present him with a new Pokémon, and leave as the two introduced themselves. He never said where the Pokémon came from and he never explained why he picked the ones he did. It was just an occasional surprise, both for N and for the goddesses.

    Every time a new Pokémon would arrive however, Anthea and Concordia got that same peculiar feeling. The Pokémon would always warm up to N very quickly and they would become fast friends, but the first several minutes of their meeting were always uncomfortable below the water’s surface. Most unsettling of all however was that N never seemed to notice. Anthea and Concordia had brushed it off as just being overly protective the first several times it happened, but Ghetsis never produced a Pokémon that didn’t seem uncomfortable around N when they first met. It would be many years until they understood why.

    With his growing interaction with Pokémon and his maturity into early puberty, the now 12-year-old N was advancing at a very rapid pace through his schooling. N showed a high proficiency for mathematics and science, progressing into trigonometry and high level algebra that Anthea and Concordia could only teach him through scripts. He also was gaining an affinity for language, speaking in the same educated, deliberate style as his father did. For his age, N seemed to practically be turning into an adult before their very eyes. His time with the Pokémon accelerated his thirst for learning.

    One day during this time, N was taking his daily hour in the garden with some of his Pokémon friends. Anthea and Concordia watched him from the balcony as he frolicked and ran with his Darmanitan, evolved from the Darumaka, and Woobat, trying to hide from their speed and flight. N was in a state of sheer joy, as he always was when he was around his Pokémon, and to a certain extent that transferred over one-to-one to the goddesses. They recognized that N was happy and they could be happy for him as a result of it, but something still felt off, though they couldn’t identify it. Their life in the outside world had been a tumultuous one. They had grown up in poverty, no parents to support them and no place to call a home. They had survived because of each other; their childhood had been nothing like N’s. They passed it off as just being inherently unable to gauge what “normal” was or just motherly concern, but that sense that N was being treated wrong somehow still always haunted them. He had every material thing he could want, his Pokémon friends, a strong education, and their unconditional love; their collective confinement to the castle and Ghetsis’ perpetually distant behavior was still a nagging concern however.

    As they watched N play and these thoughts flowed through their minds, Ghetsis happened to be walking past in the hallway behind them. His mind was preoccupied and he hardly even noticed them; they turned and bowed respectfully as he passed.

    “Lord Ghetsis…” they murmured. They broke his concentration and he turned to face them curiously.

    “Anthea, Concordia…” he said back tersely. “How is N continuing with his studies?” he asked very professionally. The women bowed their heads again politely.

    “Exceptionally well, sir. He is tackling material several years beyond his age. He would be considered a prodigy in the outside world.” Anthea answered softly. Ghetsis nodded his head and began heading back on his way.

    “Good. Keep it up.” he said absently. As he began to head off again, Concordia stopped him apprehensively.

    “Uhm… Lord Ghetsis?” she asked. “May we have permission to ask you a somewhat personal question?” Ghetsis stopped but did not speak or look at her.

    Concordia was nervous. She and Anthea had discussed asking Ghetsis this for a while now but they had never had a good opportunity. Swallowing her fear, she took the plunge.

    “Well, uh… sir… we were just wondering…” she mumbled. “Why has N never been allowed to leave the castle or interact with other people besides us? Don’t you worry he will become unsociable to other people?” she asked. “And also, where is it you get the Pokémon for N from? Do they come from the wild, or…” she continued, trailing off at the end. Ghetsis remained silent and still kept his back to them.

    A long, drawn out moment of silence followed her uncomfortable ending. Ghetsis did not move and did not speak; Concordia feared she had made a terrible mistake. Just as she was about to retract the question however, Ghetsis finally spoke.

    “To your first question, Concordia, if N is to be the Hero of Ideals and the King of Pokémon, he needs to socialize with Pokémon, not with people.” he said firmly. “And as to your second question…” he said, now turning around to face her, “That is not your concern.” he murmured fiercely. Concordia was rigid with fear. Ghetsis’ good eye seemed to practically burn with controlled anger, and his voice was deep and threatening. He glared at her for a moment, intimidatingly making sure his point was clear, before turning and heading back on his way. He left without saying another word, leaving the goddesses in fearful shock. It was the first time Ghetsis had ever truly been so harsh with them. It was a frightening experience.

    Silence followed the exchange as Anthea and Concordia stood by the window, reeling from his intimidating response. They didn’t dare do something like that ever again, but it had also confirmed at least a portion of their fears. Their life with N in the castle was a peaceful and pleasant one, but Ghetsis’ firm denial to answer about the Pokémon confirmed that at least something sinister lurked just below the surface; they just didn’t know what. Lost in their worried and frightened thoughts, they didn’t hear N walk up behind them.

    “Anthea…? Concordia?” he asked softly. The startling sound of his voice broke them from their thoughts and made them jump just a little. The goddesses turned to look at him and saw the boy standing just behind them in the hall. They sighed as they realized what it was.

    “Oh… N… you startled us.” Concordia said, putting a hand to her chest.

    “What’s wrong, dear?” Anthea asked as she caught her breath.

    N had a small, worried look on his face. He wore a confused expression and looked down at his feet upon her question. Anthea and Concordia noticed this almost at once and feared he had overheard their previous conversation. Anthea knelt before him and put a hand comfortingly on his shoulder.

    “N, what’s wrong? Tell us.” she said sweetly. N pursed his lips and looked away.

    “Can I, um… can I ask you two a question?” he said. The women looked at each other in concern.

    “Of course, sweetie; anything.” Anthea said again. N shuffled his feet and seemed a bit uncomfortable.

    “Well…” he began. He trailed off after just that short bit however and began ambling away from Anthea. A decorative bench stood behind them in the hall. N went and sat down on it.

    “I, uh… I was just wondering something…” he began again. Concordia went and sat down next to him.

    “What is it, honey? Maybe we can explain it.” she said. N looked away and sighed. Mustering his courage, he finally got it out.

    “Well… Woobat was telling me how she and I are different somehow, I guess. She said because she’s a girl and I’m a boy, that makes us different.” he began. Anthea and Concordia both wore the same dumbfounded look.

    “You were…” Concordia interrupted, trailing off before she could finish. “Did you say… you and Woobat were… were talking?” she asked. N looked at her in confusion, not understanding the problem.

    “Well… yeah.” he responded matter-of-factly. “What’s wrong with that? Don’t you hear what they say too?” he asked. Anthea and Concordia shot each other wildly surprised looks.

    “Uh… s-sure we do, N. Just… just go on with your question.” Anthea replied. N cocked an eyebrow and put the peculiar interruption out of his mind.

    “Well… so anyway… I was thinking she can’t be right, can she? We’re not different just because I’m a boy and she’s a girl. I mean, you two are girls and we aren’t different, right?” he asked. The goddesses shot each other worried looks again, but for an entirely different reason now than they had before.

    “Um… well, N… you’re getting to be… that age now, and uh… realizing those kinds of things is natural.” Concordia began awkwardly. “Woobat is right actually; there are some very fundamental differences between boys and girls, and those differences do exist between us and you for instance.” she continued. N wore a surprised look.

    “Really? But what would be the point of that? What kinds of differences?” he asked very studiously. Concordia grew flush and looked away.

    “Uhh… well… N, um…” she stammered.

    “Well, uh, there’s…” Anthea tried to help. “There’s the fact that boys tend to have shorter hair than girls.” she said, trying to avoid the real answer. N wasn’t satisfied however.

    “But Father has long hair and he’s a boy, and you have short hair and you’re a girl.” he said, turning to Concordia. Anthea winced and looked away.

    “Well, um… women have higher pitched voices a lot of the time.” she offered again. That answer didn’t satisfy N though either.

    “But my voice isn’t all that different from yours and I’m a boy.” he retorted. The women were growing more and more nervous and uncomfortable.

    “That’s just because you haven’t hit puberty yet, N. It will deepen just like your father’s is in a couple of years.” Anthea explained. N sighed and rose from his seat.

    “This still isn’t answering my question though. I don’t understand what the big difference is. What is the purpose of having differences in the genders?” he asked. Concordia sighed and stood up with him.

    “N, it’s a complicated discussion. I’m not sure you’re really old enough for that yet.” she started to say. N stamped his foot however and interrupted.

    “No!” he said firmly. “That’s not what you guys have been teaching me! You always taught me to take the logical approach to things; that’s what I learned from math. The universe works in a systematic, procedural way. Everything is how it is because it functions for a reason. That’s what you’ve taught me. So there must be some functional difference between us or else the difference wouldn’t exist. I want to know what that difference is.” he exclaimed. They couldn’t deny that he was right, it was what they had been teaching him. The answer wasn’t something they thought he could handle though.

    “Well… N…” Concordia began awkwardly. “It, um… it really isn’t that simple…” she tried to explain. N once again cut her off however.

    “You said trigonometry wasn’t simple and I’ve mastered that.” he said levelly. “Try me.” he appended. Concordia sighed and sat him down again at the bench.

    “Alright, N…” she began nervously. “There is a kind of a… well, a biological difference between boys and girls. Just like how two Pokémon can make baby Pokémon from eggs, humans can make baby humans together, but it takes a boy and a girl.” she explained.

    “There are two… erm… things that you need to have to make baby humans.” Anthea interjected. “Boys have one of them and girls have the other. So when a boy and a girl are in love and want to become a father and a mother, they can combine the two things and… well… make a baby human.” she explained. N wore a studious look on his face, following mentally what she was saying.

    “Okay, that makes sense.” he said evenly. “So is that what you and my father did?” he asked as the next logical jump. “There are two of you; which one of you was it?” he followed up. Anthea and Concordia blushed violently at the thought of sex with Ghetsis.

    “Ahh, well, no… that’s not, um… that’s not how that worked for you, N.” Anthea mumbled very uncomfortably.

    “But I thought you said–” N started to protest, but Concordia cut him off.

    “Look N, that’s all we’re going to tell you for right now. We’re sorry.” she said, standing up. N wasn’t going to have it though.

    “But I want to know! I want to learn!” he protested.

    “I’m sorry, N, but–” Concordia started to say again, but this time N cut her off.

    “No! You promised to teach me things! You all said to be the Hero I would have to learn everything about the world! I want to learn about this! You promised!” he exclaimed, leaping up from his seat. The Anthea knelt down to his height and held him.

    “N, look at me.” she said firmly. There were small tears in his eyes and his lip shook. It took all that she had to not follow suit.

    “…but you promised.” he whispered. Anthea sighed and embraced her adopted son. Concordia was behind her and laid a hand on N’s shoulder. The three of them were silent as N began to cry into Anthea’s gown.

    “We’re sorry, N. You will learn about this when you’re older.” Anthea whispered. N broke her embrace after a few moments and turned away.

    “I’m sorry, Anthea… I’m sorry, Concordia…” he murmured, wiping his nose. He began to shuffle away, leaving the goddesses in a wake of sadness.

    “N…” Anthea murmured, but she didn’t follow it up and he didn’t hear her. N murmured something as he began to go out of sight.

    “I wish Father was here…” he whispered. “He would tell me…” he said. Anthea and Concordia could practically feel their hearts break.

    The fear that they held was becoming more and more confirmed. N was receiving one of the best childhoods one could have in a multitude of ways; he was highly educated, surrounded by loving Pokémon, he had every material thing he could want, and Anthea and Concordia loved him unconditionally. His father’s distance had proven itself to be a flaw in the façade however.

    * * *

    [Continued Below]

  8. #283
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    Chronicles of Unova

    Chapter 27: Anthea & Concordia – The Boy Who Would Be King
    Part 3 of 3

    The room was silent save for the scratch of a pencil. N was now 17 and was in the process of finishing his final exam.

    Anthea and Concordia watched silently from the corner of the room as N worked. His brow was furrowed and his hands moved like blurs. He had been jotting down calculations for the past twenty minutes, trying to put the finishing touches on his creation. A small device sat on the table beside him, the circuitry exposed and with loose scraps sitting beside it. For the past three hours he had been at work on the machine, and he was nearing completion. Electrical diagrams and advanced mathematics covered nearly every inch of every paper on the table before him. Ideas and numbers spun through his mind like an electrical storm. The seconds of the clock passing by pushed him to go even faster.

    Finishing his final calculation, he threw the pencil down and once again picked up his tools. He went back to work on the device itself, adding a few finals pieces and closing the final circuits. Despite the speed at which he moved, his hands were steady and his mind was clear. A spark flew off as he made the last connection, bringing the device to life. He set down his tools and drew a breath.

    “Done!” he shouted, rising dramatically from his seat and standing over the device. Anthea and Concordia smiled and walked to the table to inspect his work.

    “Well done, N. You had six minutes and twenty-seven seconds left.” Concordia said softly. N grinned and sat back down, his heart racing and his hands beginning to tremble. Concordia began to examine what he had written, but she didn’t pretend to understand any of it.

    “So does it work?” Anthea asked excitedly. N nodded and reached for the device. He gingerly pressed a small white button on the side and a light began to shine from it. He entered something on a keypad that was connected to it and then sat back in his seat.

    Yes. It. Does. Work. Anthea.” came a robotic tone a second later. N smiled at his own success.

    Anthea and Concordia clapped politely and smiled along with him. His device had worked perfectly to specifications, which meant he had passed the test. It was the final one he would have to take for his schooling; he had completed the task they had set out for him all those years ago.

    “Very well done, N. We’re so proud of you.” Concordia said sweetly. N grinned and leaned back in his seat. He had done it; he had finished his schooling. He had learned all that he would need to know. N felt on top of the world.

    Silence filled the room for a moment, but it was not to last for long. As N began to rise from his seat, a faint sound could be heard coming from outside the door. N cocked an eyebrow in surprise as the sound began to get louder.

    “Father?” he asked. “Is that you?” The noise sounded like something was running along the stone floor towards the door. Concordia began walking towards the door to open it, but it burst open before she could reach.

    The three of them gasped at the suddenness and violence with which the door had been flung open. A man in a Team Plasma uniform stood in the frame, a wild, deranged look in his eyes. He stopped and looked around the room furtively for a moment before spying what he had come for. Dashing forward into the room, he lashed out and reached for N’s device. Before anyone could stop him, he snatched the small machine and snapped it into pieces, scattering them on the desk in front of N. Before anyone could react, he ran out of the room again and disappeared as quickly as he came. N was in absolute shock.

    No one said a word. No one understood what it was that had just happened, N least of all. Anthea and Concordia didn’t know who the man was or why he had destroyed N’s work, but most startlingly for N, it had been the first time he had ever seen another human being besides his father and the goddesses. He of course understood now that other humans existed; he had lost that misconception over a decade ago. He had never been allowed to meet one until that day however. The shock of the destruction was only half of what had surprised him.

    As the three of them were still reeling from extraordinary event that had transpired, another curious noise began to sound again. It was one that was somewhat familiar to N, though he didn’t recognize it at first; the hum and crackle of electricity in the air reached their ears.

    Peeking in the room from the hallway outside, N’s Rotom had appeared and was curiously exploring the castle. N turned and looked at the Pokémon, hardly processing what he was seeing from the shock of his previous encounter. The Rotom smiled and flew into the room. Hovering over to its friend, it looked at the scraps of broken electronics sitting on the table before him.

    The Rotom looked at N, then back at the pile of broken scraps. Its smile faded for a moment as it realized what had just happened. The Plasma Pokémon looked back up at for a moment and hummed a curious sound. N nodded in response and the Rotom’s smile returned. The ghost hovered close to the table and began to possess the pieces. To N’s surprise and amazement, in a matter of seconds, the Rotom had fixed his machine.

    Like. This. N?” the device asked. N gasped and slowly began to grin.

    A soft, slow, steady clapping sound came from the door. Watching the Rotom in amazement, none of them had noticed Ghetsis standing in the door frame. N stood up to meet him.

    “Father! Did you… did you see that man just now? What was he–” N began to ask, but Ghetsis cut him off. There was a sinister looking smile on his lips, but N didn’t notice it.

    “What have you learned today, my son?” he asked. N’s look of confusion returned and he looked to Anthea and Concordia for direction.

    “I… what?” he stammered. Ghetsis closed his eyes and chuckled beneath his breath.

    “You were taking a test, weren’t you? I asked what have you learned?” he repeated again. N was still confused.

    “Father, I don’t know what you–” N tried to protest, but Ghetsis again cut him off.

    “This was your first time ever seeing another human besides myself, Anthea or Concordia, was it not?” he asked. N nodded his head that it was.

    “And did anything interesting happen, N? What was finally meeting another human like?” he asked. N looked away, lost in thought.

    “Well… he… he broke my speech simulator, Father. He… he destroyed my work, and I don’t know why.” N said in disappointed confusion. Ghetsis smiled, having heard the answer he wanted.

    “You have lived 17 years of life without ever interacting with another human besides the ones in this room, N. The first time you ever interacted with another human, and he destroyed your hard work? Can you tell me why? Can you rationalize his actions in any way?” Ghetsis asked. N was still confused.

    “I…” he stammered. “No, Father, I have no idea why he did that. I don’t even know who he was.” N answered. Ghetsis smiled and nodded his head.

    “What happened after he left, my son? It looks to me like your machine is still intact.” Ghetsis continued. N nodded and turned back to the table.

    “Well, yeah. Rotom came in right afterwards and fixed it. I don’t know how he got here. You showed up right after that, Father.” N explained. Ghetsis smiled and began pacing back towards the door.

    “Concordia, did he pass his test?” Ghetsis asked, not turning to look at her. Concordia nodded in affirmation.

    “He did, sir. Perfectly.” she explained. Ghetsis continued to smile.

    “Then you have finished your schooling, N. You’ve passed your test.” Ghetsis began. “However, there is one final lesson you must learn, and it is one you must carry with you through your whole life. Do you promise me you will do this?” he asked. N was still confused, but he agreed.

    “I will, Father. I promise.” he said. Ghetsis had reached the door again. He turned and looked N squarely in the eye.

    “Humans destroy and Pokémon rebuild. This is the fundamental truth of our nature. You have just witnessed this fact with your own eyes. Never forget this lesson, N: humans destroy, but Pokémon rebuild.” he said carefully. N considered his words for a moment before speaking.

    “Humans destroy… Pokémon rebuild…” N murmured to himself. Ghetsis nodded and left the room. With that, he had instilled in N his final lesson; now he was ready to become the Hero he had been raised to be. N looked down at the Rotom, still inhabiting his device, as it smiled up at him. N took his father’s words to heart.

    Humans. Destroy.” the device parroted. “Pokémon. Rebuild.

    * * *

    It was the day of N’s 18th birthday. One decade exactly had passed since the day N had met his first Pokémon. He had grown and matured considerably in this time, but he wasn’t the only one. In the 18 years since Anthea and Concordia’s abduction, Ghetsis had been hard at work building Team Plasma from the ground up. What had begun as an ambitious dream was now a reality. Team Plasma was now an established organization with much the same hierarchy as David and his friends would come to know it under in two years time. The Plasma Sages and other members had heard promises from Ghetsis of a “great king” who would someday lead them. Ghetsis had been making these promises for several years now; the day had finally come to coronate their king.

    “Oh N, you look so handsome.” Anthea said proudly as Concordia finished helping him into his lavish robes. N smiled at the motherly remark and nodded, trying to stay still as Concordia finished her work. He was dressed in a flowing gray robe, similar to the one Ghetsis often wore, but much less elaborate. His light green hair was combed and styled in a dashing mop on his head, the excess trailing down the back of his cloak loosely. He wore a calm smile and seemed at ease with what he was about to do. In the months following the completion of his schooling, Ghetsis had taken it upon himself to begin introducing his son to the inner workings of Team Plasma. He had been introduced to the Sages and had begun to see more of the world beyond the castle, but as Anthea and Concordia had feared, he was not particularly social. He tried very hard to be, and he was very friendly with the people that he met, but his odd quirks and strange way of relating to Pokémon often distanced him from his fellow humans. He had learned Unovan geography during his schooling, but seeing the world he had learned so much about with his own eyes was a mind boggling experience. N felt as though he had learned more in these last few months leading up to the coronation than he had in the whole decade before that.

    “Alright… almost done… there!” Concordia remarked. “You’re all set, N. You’re ready to take on the world!” she said. Concordia stood and joined Anthea in front of N. The women were overcome with pride seeing the boy they had raised for so long ready to become the king Ghetsis had always planned.

    “How do I look?” he asked wryly. The goddesses smiled.

    “A very dapper young prince, don’t you agree, Concordia?” Anthea quipped.

    “Fit to be a king, Anthea.” Concordia replied.

    N smiled and nodded his head. A knock came on the door and N went to answer it. Rood, one of Ghetsis’ newly formed Seven Sages, stood waiting at the door.

    “My Lord N…” he said, bowing his head. “The ceremony is about to begin. Are you prepared?” he asked. N nodded his head in affirmation.

    “I am. Lead the way. I shall follow in just a moment.” he replied. Rood bowed and began heading down the hall. Before he followed, N turned back into the room to face Anthea and Concordia one final time before he would become king. He smiled fondly as he looked at them.

    “Yes, N?” Concordia asked.

    “What’s wrong, honey?” Anthea appended. N simply smiled at them and bowed his head.

    “I, erm…” he stammered; his face was growing red. “Well… I just wanted to say thank you… for everything…” he murmured. “I love you… mothers.” he said. With that, he closed the door and followed Rood. Anthea and Concordia were overcome with pride; he had never called them his mothers before. After a moment to collect themselves, they retired to the throne room to watch the ceremony as well.

    It was early evening. The Seven Sages and a select group of high ranking officials had gathered at the castle to watch as N was coronated as the King of Team Plasma. The desert air was dry and warm as the sun began to set. The cresting light cast shadows of autumn and gold across the landscape, setting a regal backdrop to the events that were about to unfold. In the main hall of the castle, lavish tapestries adorned with the Team Plasma crest had been hung and a magnificent golden throne had been built uniquely for the ceremony. A velvet carpet of blue and gold led down the hall to the throne. The Sages stood along the processional line, bowing their heads as Ghetsis entered. A hush fell over the small crowd as he began to walk towards the throne. The ceremony had begun.

    Ghetsis wore a stern look upon his face. His good eye was harsh and focused with razor precision in front of him. The Sages were bowed respectfully before him as he made his way between them along the processional line. No one in the crowd made a sound.

    In his hands, Ghetsis carried a small golden pillow. Resting upon the pillow was a recreation of the Relic Crown, an ancient artifact from the civilization the original kings of the prophecy had created. It was made of pure gold and shone in the soft desert light. Ghetsis approached the throne, bathed in light from a chandelier above, and stopped. He turned to face the crowd, eyeing the members of the organization that would someday make him a god. Holding the pillow with one hand, he reached his other out towards the back of the room from where he had come. Saying nothing, he signaled the crowd to turn and see.

    From the hallway leading to the room, N slowly entered, his head bowed and his arms slung beneath his robes. Attendants carried the train of his cloak, walking with him at his even, cautious pace. A solemn murmur sounded through the crowd as N advanced towards the throne, many of them seeing the man they had heard so much about now for the first time. From the back of the crowd, Anthea and Concordia looked on proudly as well.

    N closed his eyes. He had never felt claustrophobic before, but something about the reverent atmosphere of the ceremony was getting to him. He could feel all of the dozens of eyes of those who were about to become his servants bearing down on him all at once; it made him feel dizzy to think about. With his eyes closed and his sight gone, his mind was free to drift back to his childhood.

    Pokémon were something that he understood. He knew he would feel comfortable if his Pokémon friends were watching him instead of all these strange new people. N remembered his time playing in the garden in his childhood. He remembered the nurturing arms of his Darmanitan, the first Pokémon he had ever known. He thought back to his Woobat and Zorua, and their times playing and learning together. When N reopened his eyes, he was at the throne.

    “Are you ready, my son?” Ghetsis asked quietly but firmly. N nodded without saying a word.

    N turned to face the crowd. He wore a calm, reserved, almost placid look on his face. He eyed all of the people, much like Ghetsis had, but where Ghetsis saw pawns, N saw his soon-to-be followers. His father had taught him of the prophecy almost all his life. He knew how most people treated Pokémon, and he understood the fact that the people he saw before him wanted to help. That was enough for N’s mind. He closed his eyes again and let his father take control.

    “Proud and loyal members of Team Plasma…” Ghetsis bellowed, surveying the crowd as he spoke. “Today we coronate our new king, and usher in the era of Team Plasma to this Arceus-forsaken world.”

    Ghetsis set the pillow holding the crown down on the throne behind N. Carefully grasping the crown with both hands, he held it high for all to see.

    “With this, the Relic Crown of the ancient kings, our rule shall become law, and our authority shall be absolute. Our Lord, my son N, shall realize our goal of Pokémon Liberation, and we shall free the world’s Pokémon once and for all!” he proclaimed. Ghetsis slowly and carefully lowered the crown onto N’s head; it fit over his hair like a glove. Ghetsis smiled as the coronation was complete.

    “Proud and loyal members of Team Plasma…” Ghetsis repeated again. “The Hero of Ideals as spoken of in the Prophecy of Unova, the new King of Team Plasma, our Lord N!” he exclaimed. A roar of applause rang out from the crowd.

    N reopened his eyes. Everywhere he looked there were expressions of joy. The people in the crowd, for as many as they were, all appeared to be happy. Though he couldn’t entirely sympathize with it, he knew they were happy because of him. N had led a sheltered life and he related to Pokémon much better than he did to his own kind. Nevertheless, he knew his father had established obligations for him to meet, and he would do his best to meet them. He had trained his whole life to become the Hero and to rescue his Pokémon friends; N drew his right hand from beneath the cloak and hailed his servants for the first time.

    The reign of N had begun…

    * * *

    The first rays of the wintery sun’s light were beginning to crest over the trees of Route 10. The group had been listening to Concordia’s story for the entire night. The fire was now but embers, though they did not feel the cold. All of them, even Lennon and McCartney, were utterly enraptured by the extraordinary details of N’s early life. The Plasma captains had known there was information in N’s past that would be of use to David because much of it they had heard from N himself. They hadn’t realized quite the full extent of what N’s childhood had truly been like however. They were just as fascinated by the tale as David and his friends were.

    “When N was coronated as the new king of Team Plasma, he began having many new responsibilities away from us outside of the castle. We were of course still not allowed to leave, but we continued to tend to him as best we could.” Concordia explained, beginning to wind the story down. “As the king, N came to the independent realization that if he wanted to truly restructure the way society treats its Pokémon, he would need to become a trainer himself in order to see things from the other side. He saw what Ghetsis didn’t; even with Zekrom, it would take a man on the inside to truly bring the system down.” she continued. “It took the next two years to convince him, but N finally talked Ghetsis into letting him begin a journey. From the sounds of things, it was shortly after that when you two met.” she concluded, turning to face David. With that, her story was finally over.

    “What about the Pokémon Ghetsis brought?” David asked solemnly. “Did you ever find out what the deal was with them?” Concordia frowned and looked away.

    “It was not until after N’s coronation that we were able to find that out.” Anthea began to say, taking over for Concordia. “With N away with Ghetsis most of the time, we had significant chunks of time to ourselves for the first time since our abduction. We were able to look into some of Ghetsis’ old records and find where he had gotten them. We had always assumed they were either caught in the wild or bred for him, but in the end, it turned out that they had all been rescues as the victims of abuse.” she explained.

    “Ghetsis had purposefully sought those Pokémon out because they had been mistreated and abused by humans. They were always wary of N because they feared people, but in his infinite kindness towards them, he was able to quickly make friends with them.” Concordia continued. “He never knew anything was wrong because he only ever saw the Pokémon Ghetsis wanted him to see. They shaped his perception of what Pokémon are truly like however to a view that humans always abuse their Pokémon. While his love for Pokémon and his ability to communicate with them is real and genuine, his basis for believing in Pokémon Liberation is a lie.” she concluded. All six of them were particularly shocked by this news.

    “That explains why he’s always so surprised seeing people and Pokémon getting along.” Bianca murmured.

    “Like Master David and I.” Paula appended. Anthea and Concordia nodded in affirmation.

    The news had hit Lennon and McCartney particularly hard. Regardless of what Ghetsis saw, they were ardent believers in Pokémon Liberation. Their reasoning for betraying Team Plasma and bringing the goddesses to David had been to ultimately help N so that he could liberate the world’s Pokémon, with or without Zekrom. If N’s whole basis for believing in it was flawed however, perhaps they had been led astray too.

    “So… does that…” McCartney stammered. “Does that mean all of Pokémon Liberation is a lie?” he asked faintly. Anthea and Concordia cringed remorsefully at the question; they were understandably apprehensive to answer.

    “Captain McCartney, you and your partner are such firm believers in Pokémon Liberation as to betray the organization you have put so much work into to bring us here. Surely you do not doubt yourselves so easily, do you?” Concordia asked. McCartney shrugged and knew she had a point, but the evidence was starting to stack up against him.

    “There are many Pokémon in the world who are abused and treated badly, Plasma Captains, just like the many that our N befriended in his adolescence.” Concordia interjected. “Saving them is a worthy and noble cause, but the philosophy that Ghetsis has preached and indoctrinated into N of forcing a blanket separation between our two kinds is truly a lie. We are sorry…” she continued. Lennon and McCartney stared morbidly into the fire.

    Sunrise had come now and it was beginning to grow light. The small party sat watching as the fire finally died. A somber, forlorn quiet has come over them after so many hours of talk. David, Bianca and Paula were saddened by the many hardships and lies N had endured during his childhood, many of which he still believed as true. Anthea and Concordia were similarly saddened as they recalled living through those hard things with him. Lennon and McCartney sat in heartbroken silence, trying to come to grips with the many new things about N they had never known, and about the message they had been so adamantly indoctrinated to believe in ultimately being another of Ghetsis’ lies. An atmosphere of melancholy had truly descended upon the campsite. A biting winter breeze blew and finally snuffed the last ember as it heroically tried to survive.

    The one person who had been silent through everything was Cheren. He hadn’t said a single word since Lennon and McCartney had arrived the previous evening. He had been quietly taking it all in, judging and listening as story after story revealed new, crucial information. The League Championship tournament would begin accepting applications later that day. The tournament itself and the climb through Victory Road would be only a few days later. The kernel of an idea had been planted in his mind during their time in Twist Mountain. He had been considering it in the back of his thoughts ever since, culturing it and letting it grow. Having heard the goddesses’ story, he knew now that this idea was right. He thought back to Dragonspiral Tower and the surge of inspiration he had felt upon first seeing Zekrom. Cheren knew now what he had to do, and he was going to waste no further time not doing it. He broke the silence by sighing and rose from his seat.

    “Well, I’ve heard enough.” he said in a half-reluctant, half-annoyed tone. He walked about thirty feet away from the camp and then turned. Facing David, he drew a Pokéball from his holster and shot his old friend a spiteful, determined glare. With vigor in his movement, he threw the Pokéball into the clearing he had made and released Gus. The others turned in surprise to see what Cheren was doing.

    “David, I challenge you to a battle. Winner gets the Light Stone and the right to battle N as the Hero of Truth!” he exclaimed. David sat in silent shock for a moment, trying to process just what it was Cheren had just said.

    “…you what?” he asked in genuine confusion. Cheren snarled and repeated his challenge again.

    “Come on, Hero. How many times have you said you could beat me in a battle? Prove it! Prove you are the most worthy one to battle N!” he shouted back. David looked to Bianca and Paula in amazement at Cheren’s demand.

    “Cheren, what are you talking about? I’m not going to fight you for the ‘right to battle N.’ What is that supposed to even mean?” he asked in amazement. Cheren wouldn’t hear it however.

    “No!” Cheren shouted firmly. “No more excuses, David. You can’t win against Zekrom; it shouldn’t be you!” he exclaimed. “After what we’ve just heard, you need to be taking N way more seriously than you have been. That bastard is insane; he’s going to kill us all!” he explained; Anthea and Concordia glared at the insult.

    “Cheren, you’re the insane one.” David said, still trying to believe that Cheren was really doing this. “I didn’t choose to get picked as the Hero of Truth. I don’t want to be the one to fight him. Even if I give you the Light Stone, N is still going to want to battle me.” he tried to explain. Cheren shook his head and sighed at David’s continued stubbornness.

    “Fine. Have it your way.” Cheren murmured. “If N is successful, it will be the end of our freedom, and the end of our time with Pokémon. Humanity needs the best possible trainer to be the one to battle him with Reshiram, and that’s me.” he said. “If you won’t take him seriously, then I will. Gus, use Shadow Ball.” he commanded angrily. Gus was confused, but followed his trainer loyally. He generated a powerful bundle of ghastly energy very quickly and leveled it towards the campsite. David, Bianca and Paula had to dive out of the way to avoid being hit.

    “Cheren, what the Hell?!” David shouted in surprise. “Are you seriously going to do this?” he asked. Cheren was done with talk now though; he was going to have his fight whether David would join him or not.

    “Keep up the pressure, Gus. Don’t stop.” Cheren commanded. Gus began generating another Shadow Ball in the hopes that it would force David to defend himself.

    “I’m not going to fight you, Cheren; this is crazy!” David explained. Cheren was now burning with determination however. Gus was ready for the second attack.

    “You don’t have a choice!” Cheren exclaimed. Gus leveled the Shadow Ball on his trainer’s words and fired it again towards David. He couldn’t dive out of the way again in time. David was forced to meet the attack head on.

    “Ahh! Galvantula, help us!” David shouted, tossing his Pokémon’s ball blindly. The EleSpider emerged from his Pokéball and was already staring down the quickly approaching Shadow Ball. Reacting on instinct, the Pokémon launched off a quick Electroweb to ensnare the bundle of darkness. The two forces met in midair, setting off a sizeable explosion. The web had stopped the Shadow Ball from doing its full damage, but it had still sent a bit of shrapnel towards Galvantula. David would be forced to fight now.

    “Good. Now that I’ve got your attention, use Nasty Plot, Gus.” Cheren commanded. David was reluctant but he knew he would have to fight. As the dark smoke began billowing out of Gus’ casket, David gave his own counter-command.

    “Just incapacitate him, Galvantula. Keep him from being able to attack. Electroweb!” David explained. Galvantula stood back up and began generating the power for the second attack. Gus was a stationary target as he tried to get his stat boost in. Galvantula took careful aim with his Compoundeyes ability and let the net fly. Just as Gus finished his attack, the web reached and ensnared him, forcing the Coffin Pokémon to the ground. The Cofagrigus’ naturally massive defensive stats allowed him to weather the residual electrical damage better than most opponents would have, but he was bound and unable to use his stat boosts on a third attack.

    “Cheren, give it up. I don’t want to have to hurt Gus. Let’s talk about this, man.” David tried to ration. Cheren wasn’t hearing it.

    “Gus, break out! You’re strong, you can do this!” he screamed. David sighed at Cheren’s saddening response. Galvantula knew what the next command would be; David simply turned away as a signal to perform it. A few seconds later, Galvantula dropped a Thunder attack as the finishing blow; David had, perhaps unfortunately, won.

    Cheren was silent as his Pokémon gave up the fight. The bounds around Gus lost their charge and fell to the ground beside the Coffin Pokémon’s body. Galvantula calmly walked back to his trainer and nuzzled his head against David’s leg. David gave his Pokémon a solemn congratulation for the good battle and returned him to his Pokéball. When David finally turned back around to look at the battlefield, Cheren was on his knees beside Gus trying to tend to his wounds.

    Nobody said a word. After his violent outburst, Cheren had finally grown silent. David was saddened by what he had had to do, but he wasn’t going to have done it without finding out why Cheren had acted like he had. He slowly began walking towards his friend, hopeful that whatever had come over Cheren had simply passed. He was wrong.

    “Now can we talk about this, Cheren?” David asked softly as he walked up. “You want to tell me what all that was about?” he continued. Cheren remained silent however, not acknowledging David’s presence there and trying to heal Gus’ injuries. David sighed.

    “Cheren, when did all this start, huh? Why do you suddenly think I can’t beat N?” he continued to ask. Cheren forced himself to not look and not answer however, remembering the pain he had felt in Twist Mountain.

    David was silent as he waited for a reply. He sighed when he realized one wasn’t going to come. He slowly reached out to put a hand on Cheren’s shoulder, but that was the final straw. At David’s touch, Cheren whipped around and threw him off. Standing up, Cheren was breathing heavily and had rage in his eyes.

    “You don’t get it, do you, David? You still don’t understand!” Cheren shouted. David was startled as Cheren stood over him in such anger.

    “I don’t get what, Che–” David started to ask, but Cheren cut him off.

    “Zekrom is not just another opponent. However powerful you think he is, however ready you think you are, that thing’s power is a thousand times worse than you can imagine. Do you think you can just walk up and have Paula Psychic and Focus Blast it until you win like always? You think you can just pull Reshiram out of thin air and that will solve everything? I’m not going to sit by and let you take the limelight again for something like this, because when you fail, we’re all going to feel the ramifications for it.” he explained. David was in shock from what he was hearing.

    “Cheren, is that really what you think?” David asked solemnly. “Do you really think I’m trying to take limelight from you or that I want to be the one to fight N?” he asked. Cheren simply shook his head though and sighed.

    “You can’t stop Zekrom, David. You are going to fail.” he said. “When Zekrom kills you and no one else can stand up to N, I’m not going to let him take my Pokémon away without a fight. If you don’t stop him, then I will.” he murmured. With that, Cheren returned Gus to his Pokéball and walked out of sight towards the river. After everything they had been through, Cheren was gone.

    The sun had risen completely by now. Their campsite in the clearing was illuminated by the morning rays of the winter sun. As Cheren went out of sight, David continued to sit where he had fallen for several minutes, trying to come to grips with what his old friend, now “rival” he supposed, had just said. David and Cheren had always had a brotherly relationship. David had always been their group’s de facto leader, but in times like these, David had always known he could count on Cheren if he needed it, as he had at Dragonspiral Tower for instance. This fact simply made Cheren’s words sting more. While this reaction had been a long time coming and had simply boiled over after having heard Anthea and Concordia’s story, to David it seemed sudden and unexpected. David was nervous and fearful as it was about having to battle N; Cheren’s adamant reaffirmation of these fears only served to make them worse though. Deep in his mind, worst of all, David was beginning to think Cheren’s sentiment was right.

  9. #284
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    Wow. Thats a lot to read. I'm sad cheren left. I did kinda see that coming though. He was just a third wheel most of the time. I like how you incorporated the opening scene of bw into it. The end is near!!! Cant wait CB.
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    every battle that you have described since Chapter 1 I have actually been able to visualize in my mind. this story is really setting itself apart from other Pokemon fanfictions I have read in the past. keep up the great work!!!!
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  11. #286
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    Wooooooooooooooooop!!!!!!

    Poor Lennon and McCartney disillusioned......

    I like the way you made Cheren go kind of nuts it was very disturbing...




    Keep up the good work!!

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    Well, that was quite the read. Three posts...

    Not that I mind the length, to be honest. I found it quite the elaborate back story. And by elaborate, I mean enjoyable.

    Watching Cheren flip his lid was oddly something you can't avoid seeing coming to be honest. I'm a bit surprised it didn't come along sooner. Will their friendship survive the split? Only time will tell. And while I thought it would lead to a "full" three on three battle, why d I get the feeling David won a little too easily?

    One more thing:

    The bounds around Gus lost their charge and fell to the ground beside the Coffin Pokémon’s body.
    Bonds.

    On the big plus side though, I was able to follow everything down to the letter. Good going.

    Well, I'm running away now. Good going mate!

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    I haven't read all of it yet, but from what I've read, I quite liked it. I thought the battles were wonderfully described and the action had an excellent atmosphere.


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    An awesome chapter! It's not very often I am able to get myself involved with a good story... This one, it's kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. Keep up the awesome work!

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    Congratulations to user Little Miss Sunshine and her character Lynn Baker as the winner of the “A Challenger Appears” contest. Please see the Author's Notes below for more information.

    * * *

        Spoiler:- Author's Notes:


    Chronicles of Unova

    Chapter 28: Trained on the Road of Ultimate
    Part 1 of 2

    The canyon Route 10 wound its way through had two entrances: one in the south stemming from Opelucid City, but also one in the north leading to a place called Victory Road. Every region had a Victory Road, but none were as grand as the one maintained by the Unova League. The term “Victory Road” referred to a complex and sprawling cave network that led to the Elite Four’s Pavilion in a respective region. The Pokémon League maintained these cave networks in every region as a final test to trainers who had earned the right to compete in the regional League Championship tournament. Entrants would have to make their way through the dangerous maze in order to enter the tournament. Those who didn’t make it would not be allowed to compete, even if they had earned the necessary eight badges.

    Route 10 came to a head in a large clearing, void of the mighty pines and flowing water of the rest of the route. The northern boundary of the clearing was marked by a massive cliff, some thousand feet tall and hundreds of feet wide. A gargantuan cave network lined the stone insides, with pockets dotting the cliff face where tunnels broke out. Much like the inside pocket of Twist Mountain had been, many of the caves were connected along the cliff by manmade bridges. This cave network was Unova’s Victory Road, with the Elite Four’s Pavilion at its summit, and the Wastelands extending beyond that. Registrations for the League Championship tournament had started. A large tent had been set up in the clearing where the registrations were taking place. It was midmorning, just a few short hours since David and Cheren’s battle, when the trio arrived.

    “Well guys, we’ve finally made it. We’re finally competing in the League Championships.” David commented lightly, trying to break some of the awkward tension. Cheren didn’t say a word, staring straight ahead with a venomous, irritated gaze. Bianca smiled and murmured a half-hearted “yeah,” but her smile quickly faded as she clutched her arm and looked away. David sighed at their unfortunate response.

    “Oh come on, you guys, seriously? We’re about to compete in the Pokémon League Championships! This has been our dream ever since we were little kids! Are we really going to spoil it like this?” he asked. Cheren simply rolled his eyes.

    “Just shut up, David. Come on, let’s go register…” he said in annoyance. Cheren began walking towards the tent without looking back. David sighed and followed after with Bianca.

    “Hi, are you three registering for the tournament?” an attendant asked as they approached. She stood behind a small pedestal at the edge of the tent. Cheren nodded in affirmation as David and Bianca caught up.

    “Okay, great. Can I get your names please?” she asked.

    “Cheren.” Cheren murmured.

    “Bianca.” Bianca followed.

    “David.” David added mournfully. He was still disappointed by the sour flavor their circumstances were forcing on him. The attendant smiled and checked their names off of her list.

    “Excellent. You three are the last trainers we’ve been expecting. We should be able to start once we get you three checked in. I just need to see your badges.” she explained. The three of them produced their badge cases and handed them to her.

    “Alright, let’s see…” she began. “First, the Trio Badge of Striaton City; check.” she said. As she named the badge, she flashed each of their Trio Badges under an electronic scanner she had at her desk. The associated computer confirmed the badges as genuine.

    “Next up, the Basic Badge of Nacrene City; check.” she said, once again flashing it with the scanner. “The Insect Badge of Castelia City, alright… The Bolt Badge of Nimbasa City, okay…” she continued, starting to move at a quicker pace. For every badge that she listed off, David thought back to the battle that had earned it. The fond memories of the last few months gave him temporary repose from his current uncomfortable feelings.

    “The Quake Badge of Driftveil City… the Jet Badge of Mistralton City… the Freeze Badge of Icirrus City, and finally, the Legend Badge of Opelucid City. Okay, that’s all eight; looks like you three all check out.” she said cheerily. “You can go wait in the tent with the others. The introductions should be starting shortly.” she explained. The trio nodded in thanks and headed in. The open-air, roofless tent gave some welcomed–, albeit marginal– shade from the desert sun.

    Inside were several other trainers, each mulling about and inspecting their teams. N was among them, seated alone in the corner. He smiled when he saw David enter; David tried to avoid eye contact.

    “There’re some strong looking trainers in here, huh, guys?” David said casually, trying futilely once again to make casual conversation. “Where do you guys want to–” he tried to continue, but Cheren turned and lazily walked away before he could finish.

    “…go.” he finished. “Right… nevermind then…” he appended. He and Bianca looked away in disappointment before heading over to a corner of the room.

    Including themselves, a total of eight trainers had gathered in the registration tent. Most of the others were around the same age as they were, but David noticed a curious fact about them.

    “Hey Bianca, check it out. Including us, there’s an even split, four girls and four guys. That’s kinda funny, isn’t it?” he asked conversationally. Bianca looked around and noticed it too, but she offered hardly more than a murmur in response.

    “Yeah, that’s neat…” she muttered. David sighed at her reaction.

    “Oh not you too…” he muttered. “Come on, Bianca, don’t you turn into Cheren on me also. This is supposed to be fun and exciting. We’re competing in the League Championships! How can you not be excited?” he asked. Bianca turned to face him, but there was clear, pained sadness in her eyes.

    “David, what if Cheren is right? What if you really do die fighting N? You’ve always been my best friend, ever since childhood, and… well… you know, more ever since our journey began. I don’t want to lose you. Not now; not like this.” she said. David sighed again. He sat down next to her and put a hand on her shoulder.

    “Bianca, we’ve talked about this, don’t you remember? Back in Mistralton Cave? What did I tell you then?” he asked. Bianca only looked away.

    “I know, I know, but I still can’t help but worry. It just gets worse and worse the closer we get to that battle.” she said after a moment’s pause. She stood back up and took a pace away, turning her back on him. David started to try to say more, but a tone sounded from the speakers lining the tent before he could; the tournament was starting. Before David could even try, Bianca turned back around and sighed.

    “Just forget it. Come on, let’s just go…” she murmured. David looked away in disappointment and followed her out the back of the tent.

    The eight trainers left the tent and exited to a modest stage facing them from the north. Alder stood at a podium on the stage, flanked on both sides by the members of the Elite Four. David recognized them instantly from television and his schooling: Shauntal the Ghost-type Master, Grimsley the Dark-type Master, Marshal the Fighting-type Master and Caitlin the Psychic-type Master. The towering cliff face of Victory Road gave a strong backdrop to their already powerful-looking forms. The eight challengers gathered around the stage as Alder began to speak.

    “Welcome, challengers! Allow me to be the first to congratulate you on your entry into the Unova region Pokémon League Championships! You eight represent the finest trainers our region has produced this season. As entrants into the Championships, you are all implicitly Pokémon Masters, no longer average trainers. Any one of you could potentially hold your own against trainers of even our caliber. You should all be very proud to have made it this far.” he began.

    “Your stories with this tournament will begin with the mountain behind us: Victory Road.” Shauntal continued for him, smiling as she spoke.

    “Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to scale the mountain in any means you see fit.” Grimsley continued, chuckling to himself at his reference.

    “It will take true strength and endurance to reach the summit, but if you really consider yourselves masters as Master Alder just said you were, you will persevere!” Marshal bellowed firmly. Caitlin winced beside him at the loud noise.

    “Our pavilion and the stadium where the battles will be held await you at the top. That is of course assuming Marshal does not topple them with his insufferable yelling in the meantime…” she murmured, glaring at him from her peripheral view. Alder chuckled and began speaking again.

    “You will have thirty-six hours from this moment to reach the top; effectively between now and sundown tomorrow night. When everyone arrives, we will announce pairings for the first round of battles. Sound good to everyone?” he asked cheerily. The crowd collectively murmured an affirmation.

    Alder smiled widely at their response. He looked out proudly at the trainers and couldn’t help but grin.

    “You know, it does my heart good looking out at you folks.” he said. “I just have to smile thinking about the prospect of such strong trainers once again meeting for the best battles the region can produce. It’s a pretty great life being the Champion, I have to admit, but I love watching great battles almost as much as I love being in them. I always love watching this tournament.” he explained.

    “That actually brings me to our last piece of business before we kick off the tournament proper.” he continued. “Despite what some might say, we are not savages. We don’t battle Pokémon for entertainment or sport, we battle them to get a sense of understanding with one another. Raising and battling Pokémon has always been a social practice for our two species, ever since the beginning of time. Pokémon battles should always bring us closer together, both as people and as Pokémon.” he explained. “That said, I’d like each of you to come up here and introduce yourselves to us. I know for me at least, I’m still friends with some of the people who entered the Championship tournament the year that I won and went on to become Champion. Many of the people you see around you will potentially become close friends and allies in time. I know for my own benefit at least, I want to know a bit about you. Come up and tell us a little about yourselves, and show us at least one of your Pokémon. Sound good?” he asked. The trainers agreed, prompting another grin from Alder.

    “Excellent! How about we start with someone I don’t already know. How about you, young lady, why don’t you come up and introduce yourself?” he continued, pointing to a girl standing near the front of the crowd. The girl smiled and walked up on stage. Alder stepped aside as she walked to the podium.

    “Well, uhm… hi, guys. My name is White, and, uh… it’s really great to have finally made it here.” she began. She wore a giant grin as she spoke. There was an endearing awkwardness to her demeanor that David felt a strange sense of kinship with from her first words.

    White was very thin and had very pale skin. She had a big grin though and even bigger hair. She wore a cap similar to David’s with her hair pushed through the back in a ponytail. It puffed out in a large plume though, making her head look very big compared to the rest of her body. She wore a sleeveless jacket and denim shorts. Practical for her current purposes but a bit mismatched compared to everything else, she also wore large, industrial-looking boots, speckled with mud from a long journey. There was a distinct air of femininity to her, but it was shielded behind an obviously tough exterior.

    “I’m from a little town in the northwest called Anville Town. A lot of people have never heard of it, but we’ve turned out some pretty decent trainers before.” she explained. “I just want to be the best Pokémon trainer I can be. I want to be able to approach any situation and find a way to solve it. I’ve developed strategies with my team that are getting more and more refined every time we battle. I’m very tactical and I like to think I’m pretty good at gauging strategies and adapting in a fight. I guess we’ll see how it goes.” she concluded, smiling all the way through. Alder grinned as well and walked up behind her, laying a hand on her shoulder. His hand looked massive in comparison to her slight form.

    “Thank you, White, that’s excellent. How about you introduce us to one of your Pokémon?” he asked. White’s smiled grew a bit bigger and she nodded.

    “Sure!” she said excitedly. She quickly drew a Pokéball from the holster on her belt. Tossing the ball beside her on the stage, a beautiful, fully-developed Lilligant popped out. The Flowering Pokémon straightened its leafy dress and swayed side-to-side politely for the crowd to see.

    “This is my Lilligant.” White explained. “She was one of the first Pokémon I ever caught, back when she was a Petilil. She’s one of my most versatile Pokémon and an important part of my general strategy. I guess I shouldn’t give too much away though; you’ll have to wait until the battles start to see more.” she continued, laying a hand on the Lilligant’s shoulder and flashing the crowd a wink as she spoke. Alder was clearly very impressed by the fully matured Pokémon. He started to clap as he spoke, which the rest of the crowd mimicked in turn.

    “That’s very impressive, White. Lilligant are a notoriously difficult species to raise properly, but I can tell by your Lilligant’s flower that you’ve trained her expertly.” he explained. White blushed at the compliment from the Champion before recalling her Pokémon and heading back down. As the applause died away, Alder motioned for the next trainer to come up.

    “Who wants to be next?” Alder asked. A tall, burly-looking man who had been standing at the back of the crowd approached the stage at Alder’s question. There was a confident, almost cocky air about him. He sauntered up to the stage without saying a word.

    “That’ll be me.” he said in a deliberate, proud sounding tone, jabbing his puffed-out chest with his thumb as he spoke. “Dirk Smallwood here, Pokémon trainer extraordinaire.” he continued. The man stood nearly as tall and as large as Alder.

    Dirk was a large, muscular man. He wore a khaki, English-style expedition shirt with matching schoolboy shorts and safari cap. Tied around his neck was a pristine yellow ascot. He wore boots similar to White’s at the end of his rather hairy legs, but unlike hers, his looked almost virtually untouched. All of his clothes seemed strangely clean as a matter of fact; it occurred to David as he watched Dirk walk up to the podium that he appeared to be dressed for a very particular task, but that he looked as though he had never actually performed it. Alder stepped aside with a small smirk on his face as Dirk began to speak.

    “I was born in a log cabin some thirty-five years ago.” he began. “My father worked for a logging mill on a small island owned by the company. I outdid him and took his job when I was only four.” he continued. It occurred to David as this story began that Dirk was about to begin droning on…

    As Dirk continued to regale the crowd with his obviously fake tale, a pair of men silently slipped towards the crowd from the now empty registration tent. N stood near the back of the crowd, his mind wandering as Dirk continued to pontificate. The two men approached him quietly and whispered in his ear.

    “Lord N, our apologies for our delay.” Lennon said softly. “We trust you acquired your remaining badges smoothly?” he asked. N smiled and turned to face them.

    “Captains, so good to see you again!” N whispered back cheerily. “Rest assured, everything has gone splendidly since your leave.” he replied. Lennon and McCartney smiled back politely at the answer.

    “That’s wonderful, milord. We never doubted–” McCartney started to say back, but N interrupted him before he could finish.

    “As a matter of fact, everything has been going so well, I don’t even feel the need to punish you two for your treason.” N said matter-of-factly, smiling to himself and turning back to the stage. Lennon and McCartney could both practically feel the blood drain from their faces. They felt their hearts kick into overdrive, but they tried their hardest to play it off.

    “Our… our w-w-what, s-sir?” Lennon stammered. N chuckled to himself and didn’t turn around.

    “I know you two went to see the goddesses. I know you brought them to David and his friends. I know what you have done.” he said lightly. Lennon and McCartney could feel stones hit their stomachs; the pair looked at each other in terror.

    “H-h-how do you know about that, Lord N?” Lennon stammered again. N closed his eyes and brushed the hair from his brow.

    “I have my ways, Captain Lennon.” N said softly. “I have my ways…”

    Lennon and McCartney shot each other another fearful glance. The pair instinctively knelt, still speaking softly as so to not draw attention to themselves from the crowd.

    “L-L-Lord N, we swear to you, we meant no disrespect by it. We just–” Lennon started to say, but N calmly turned back around to face them, still smiling cheerily.

    “Rise, Captains, I have already said I am not angry with you. I understand why you did what you did and I see no reason to punish you. Do not feel remorse for what you have done.” N said kindly. Lennon and McCartney looked up at their king in great surprise, not just at the fact that he somehow knew of their actions, but also that he was not upset.

    “Y-y-you… you don’t, sir?” McCartney asked fearfully. N smiled and turned back to the stage.

    I don’t.” he said calmly. “I cannot speak for my father however…” he appended. Lennon and McCartney rose and stood silently behind N, knowing better than to continue the conversation. Lennon could feel his face growing red however.

    “And that is how I, Dirk Smallwood, saved the Jakobs Corporation from The Great Dusclops Outbreak of ‘09.” Dirk concluded, coming to the apparent conclusion of his speech. “Following that little adventure, I–” he tried to continue, but from behind him, Caitlin yawned very loudly and dramatically. Dirk turned and cocked an eyebrow at the interruption, but his momentary lapse in speaking finally gave Alder a chance to try and take the stage again.

    “Thank you, Mr. Smallwood, that was a… erm… a very ‘grand’ story.” he said, trying to edge him out from behind the podium. Dirk turned back around in surprise at the second interruption, seeming very distraught.

    “But I was just about to tell the story of when I bought my seventh Cheetah Paw! And you haven’t even seen any of my Pokémon yet!” he protested. Alder rolled his eyes subtly and continued walking him towards the small steps leading to the stage.

    “Oh, don’t worry; I’m sure we’ll see them very soon. Thank you, sir.” he said with forced politeness. “That was certainly a fun story, wasn’t it, folks? Okay, who wants to be next?” he asked somewhat quickly. Dirk shuffled off stage dejectedly and back into the crowd.

    “Ah’ll go!” a female voice shouted from near the center of the group. The crowd parted slightly as a young looking girl dashed forward. There was a gleam in her eye and a bounce to her step. She ran to the front of the crowd and stood proudly before Alder, hands anchored firmly to her hips. Alder chuckled at the fiery young lady and motioned for her to come up on stage.

    “Bwahaha, alright then.” he chuckled. “Come tell us about yourself, young lady.” he appended. The girl gave a quick two-fingered salute before bounding onto the stage, jumping right over the small stairs on the side. She ran up to the podium excitedly, though she was only barely tall enough to see over it.

    “Good mornin’, erryone!” she shouted in a very thick Southern drawl. “Man, I’m just so excited to be here! Why, I’m more chipper than uh Charmander in a Cheri Berry patch, y’all know what I'm sayin’?!” she asked. “Mah name is Miss Lindsay Baker, but y’all can call me Lynn for short.” she explained. Alder snickered under his breath at her bursting excitement.

    Lynn was very petite, only just barely tall enough to look out over the podium. The first thought to cross David’s mind was whether she was even old enough to be a trainer in the first place or not. She had fair skin with a sun-beaten tan on her face and arms. Her face was absolutely covered in freckles and there was a modest gap between her front two teeth. She had bright blue eyes and short blonde hair. Her hair was nearly white in color, curly and trimmed close to the scalp, falling into a ponytail down the back of her neck. She wore a clean white shirt under faded denim overall shorts. A bright yellow knapsack was slung across her shoulder, and she wore matching yellow sandals, but her exposed feet seemed much dirtier than the shoes. An infectious smile never left her lips.

    “Ah come from a place in the Kanto region called Vermillion City. Mah daddy was a sailor, workin’ in the harbor there, so it was always a dream uh mine to go sailin’ to some new place in search of adventure, jus’ like him. This here Unova region seemed like a good place to start a journey with Pokémon, so this is where I came!” she explained. “I may be a bit tiny, but I’m still gonna kick yer butt if y’all cross me!” she exclaimed fiercely. “Mah friends and I are gonna rough you up good, so y’all better hope you ain’t up against me, or else y’all should just pack yer bags right on back up!” she proclaimed. Alder laughed heartily at her enthusiasm and walked back towards the podium, clapping slowly at her peculiar humor.

    “Ms. Baker, you are a piece of work.” he bellowed over his laughter. “Best of luck to you in the tournament. Would you care to introduce us to one of these ‘friends?’” he asked. Lynn looked up at him and nodded under a fierce grin.

    “Well sure!” she exclaimed. She turned and dug into her knapsack, retrieving a well-polished looking Pokéball. She tossed it up into the air, releasing the Pokémon inside mid-flight; a Butterfree nimbly glided out, bathed in the afterglow of the ball.

    “This here is mah Butterfree, Happy.” she explained as the Butterfly Pokémon took flight. “He was the first Pokémon ah ever got. He comes from the Johto region where mah daddy caught him for me as a gift.” she said. The Butterfree began twisting and twirling through the air, releasing a small cloud of glistening, diamond-like Sleep Powder as he went. David was impressed by the display, despite the fragile looking form of the Pokémon; it matched his trainer, it occurred to him.

    “You’ve made it this far with a Butterfree, young lady?” Grimsley asked from behind her. Lynn smirked and turned to face him, putting her hands on her hips again.

    “Yes ah did, mister, and mah Butterfree is jus’ itchin’ to get a crack at yer Dark-types, if you know what ah mean.” she spat back in her sarcastic drawl. Grimsley smirked at the fierce response and laid a hand across his cheek to keep from laughing.

    “Thank you, Lynn. Who’s next?” Alder asked. Lynn nodded and recalled her Butterfree before hopping off of the stage again, just as energetically as she had entered it. As she returned to the crowd, another girl walked up and raised her hand.

    “I’ll go, sir.” the young woman said. Alder smiled and nodded for her to come up. She blushed at the Champion’s recognition and began briskly walking towards the stage. Though she moved slowly, her long strides got her to her destination quickly.

    “Hi there, everyone.” the girl began when she reached the podium. “My name is Kali. It’s really great to finally be here.” she said. She brushed the hair from her eyes as she spoke and smiled a modest grin.

    Kali had a very friendly air to her from the moment she walked on stage. She was quite tall, probably around N’s height, and exceptionally pretty. She had flush, pink skin and curly, shoulder-length, jet black hair. Her loose hair hung like curtains from her head, covering the left side of her face, which she would often brush aside. Much like White, she wore an open, sleeveless leather jacket, but she also wore what looked like brown falconry gloves on both hands. Her shirt beneath the jacket appeared to be made of the same kind of material as the gloves, protectively encasing her torso from danger. She wore black leather pants and fashionable, pointed shoes. There was a distinct air of warmth and humility to her, but also a battle-tested sense of power.

    “I come from a town south and a little ways east of here called Lacunosa Town. If any of you are familiar with it, you might have some idea of why I’m competing here today. If you don’t, then I won’t bore you with the details. It’s kind of a long story anyway…” she explained, trailing off at the end.

    Alder stepped forward again to ask for her to show off one of her Pokémon, but before he could speak, she quietly pulled a Pokéball from her holster and smiled down at it affectionately. She tossed it into the air, maintaining her loving grin as it rose. The ball opened in midair and something came out, but it moved so quickly that David couldn’t tell what it was. It moved like a flash, hardly more than a dark blue streak of color.

    Kali put two fingers in her mouth and whistled loudly.

    “Silver! On me!” she shouted. A beautifully melodic, warbling cry sounded in reply from the speeding Pokémon; at her command, it turned and began racing back around towards her.

    Kali held one of her gloved arms out towards the Flying-type Pokémon; it slowed when it got close and hooked its talons into the leather. Kali turned to show off the Pokémon, and as she did so, it spread its proud wings to match her as if in show.

    “Alright, Silver! Good boy!” Kali shouted, grinning proudly at the display. A large, regal looking Swellow stood perched on her glove, looking out commandingly at the audience. The bird was beautiful and had a glossy shine to his down.

    Alder initiated applause for the marvelous show; the crowd below did the same, prompting Silver to jokingly take a bow with his wings. Kali laughed at the joker and followed suit.

    “A marvelous display, young lady! You’ve obviously trained your Swellow with love.” Alder said, walking towards the pair. Kali blushed and nodded in thanks.

    “Thank you, Alder, but Silver is the impressive one. I’m just the trainer.” she replied. Alder drew breath to respond to her, but she feigned a curtsy and walked off stage, Silver still on her arm, before he could say a word. She waved to the crowd as she retreated, recalling her Pokémon to its ball as she went. Alder held his tongue and simply smiled at her modesty.

    “Well, that does it for those of you I don’t know then.” Alder continued as the applause died down. “I think I pretty much know the rest of you. David, my boy, how about you come up here next and introduce yourself?” he asked. David had been watching Silver as Kali returned him to his Pokéball. Hearing his name startled him a bit.

    “Oh, uh… me?” he asked. Alder grinned and nodded, motioning for him to come up. Cheren looked at the ground angrily as his former friend took the stage.

    David walked behind the podium and sighed. He took inspiration from Kali and drew Paula’s Pokéball preemptively as he began to speak.

    “Well, uh… hi, I guess…” he mumbled. “My name is David and… um… I’m a Pokémon trainer.” he began. “I’m not really too sure, uh… what I should say. I come from a little town in the south called Nuvema Town, and I’m here with my, um… my friends, Cheren and Bianca.” he explained, pausing before using the word “friends.” David looked out at Cheren and Bianca as he said it, but Cheren avoided his gaze. David once again sighed.

    “Well, anyway… I’m here with a couple of Pokémon, but I guess the one I’ll show you is my Gardevoir, Paula. She was my starter Pokémon, believe it or not, and uh… we’ve… we’ve been through a lot together.” he continued, underplaying the significance. He gently tossed Paula’s Pokéball into the open area to his left, releasing the Gardevoir in a small flash of light. Paula landed daintily and smiled out at the crowd, waving modestly and straightening her gown.

    “That’s great, David, thank you.” Alder said calmly and warmly as he walked back up behind him. “Is there anything else about her you’d like to tell us?” he asked. David thought for a moment before answering.

    “Um… she can talk.” he said very matter-of-factly. He was a little bit too close to the microphone when he said it. The jarring comment sent a wave of surprise through the portion of the crowd that didn’t already know.

    “I, uh… I don’t know if she…” he continued. “…well wait, actually yeah, you can do it with other people, right, Paula?” he asked. Paula smiled and nodded in response before answering.

    “I can, master.” she replied. She broadcast the message to everyone there however, eliciting an even bigger wave of startled amazement from the crowd than the first one. Caitlin in particular seemed impressed, though David didn’t see it.

    “Well anyway, I guess that’s all…” he concluded. Alder smiled and nodded, beginning the applause once again. David recalled Paula to her Pokéball and began heading down, but he felt as if many frightened eyes were now watching him after the previous display. He wondered if perhaps he should have kept that fact about Paula to himself.

    “Bianca, would you like to go next?” Alder asked. Bianca smiled and walked calmly on stage. She stood behind the stand and smiled politely at the crowd.

    “Hello there.” she began. “My name is Bianca and, like David said, I’m also from Nuvema Town. The three of us all shared a childhood dream of becoming Pokémon trainers and eventually making it here but, to be honest, while I’m not so surprised the two of them made it, I’m actually a little surprised that I did. I’m just here to have fun really. It would be awesome to become the Champion but, well… realistically that isn’t likely to happen.” she explained. Alder walked up behind her as she looked down and drew a Pokéball.

    “Don’t say that, Bianca, you’ve made it this far.” he said warmly. “You are a Pokémon Master now. Whatever anyone might say, you are now among an elite group of trainers that many people will never become a part of. You should be proud of yourself, no matter what others say.” he explained. Bianca blushed and smiled at his remark.

    “Thanks, Alder. That’s really sweet.” she said modestly. “I have a couple of Pokémon I could show, but I think this is probably the one you all would find most interesting.” she explained. On that remark, she tossed a Pokéball into the air and released her Crobat for the crowd to see. Everyone who hadn’t previously seen him gasped at the beautiful shiny.

    “Ooh my! A shiny Pokémon!” Shauntal remarked from the back of the stage. “What a rarity! Bianca, you and I must chat about him some time! I’m sure you have many wonderful stories to tell about him.” she continued. Bianca smiled in the Ghost-type trainer’s direction and nodded.

    “Sure!” she replied. “Crobat was the first Pokémon I ever caught after my starter. I didn’t even realize there was anything special about him until my friends told me what shinies are.” she explained. The whole crowd seemed very impressed by him, but Dirk was silently snickering at the fairly girly, pink Pokémon.

    “Thank you, Bianca. That was lovely.” Alder said. “Cheren, we haven’t heard from you yet. Want to come up here next?” he continued as Bianca began heading down. Cheren sighed at what he considered to be such an unnecessary formality. He began heading up, but there was still a stain of distinct annoyance in his gait.

    Cheren took the stage and walked behind the podium. He silently eyed the crowd for a moment, slowly turning his head from right to left. He closed his eyes and sighed into the microphone before speaking.

    “My name is Cheren and I come from Nuvema Town. I have an Umbreon, a Cofagrigus and an Aerodactyl. I have no interesting stories about them that I am willing to go into right now.” he began, speaking in a very annoyed, business-like tone. “I have always dreamed of entering this tournament and winning it to have a chance at battling the Elite Four and the Champion. I now find myself with such a golden opportunity, but I also find myself unable to enjoy it.” he explained. Cheren sighed again and braced himself against the stand.

    “See, you guys all think you’re special and that you’ve actually got a chance at winning this thing, but you really don’t. I don’t either, despite what I’ve always said I’d tell myself if I got here.” he continued, beginning to speak faster now than he was before. “This year, the League Championships are forced to accept a very unfortunate entrant: the one person who has yet to now speak as a matter of fact. Were it not for this man, my previous remarks wouldn’t be true and I might actually be able to enjoy myself right now. However, that is simply not the case.” he explained, looking away from the crowd in anger.

    “Cheren, I think you’re being a bit–” Alder started to interrupt in a concerned voice, but Cheren spoke over him with the aid of the microphone.

    “I don’t see why I should be the one to introduce this bastard though. I’m sure he’s fully capable of doing that for himself.” Cheren said, turning back sharply towards the crowd. “So N… how about you come up here and introduce yourself to us, huh?” he asked bitingly, taking a step back from the podium and folding his arms. The crowd turned curiously to look back at N at Cheren’s prompt. N held his arms folded and his eyes closed, smiling to himself at Cheren’s statements. He silently unfolded his arms at the request and began walking towards the stage.

    As N drew near, Cheren stepped back towards where Marshal and Caitlin stood, but he did not leave the stage. N slowed a bit when he passed Cheren, but he kept his eyes closed and maintained his smile.

    “Cheren, I haven’t done something to upset you, have I, my friend?” he asked politely.

    “Bite me, you psychopath.” Cheren murmured back venomously. N laughed under his breath at Cheren’s anger. He walked to the podium and brushed his hair aside.

    “Well well, that was quite an introduction, I must say…” he began, speaking calmly and confidently to the crowd. “I would never have thought I would get such a grandiose proceeding, but I suppose I shouldn’t complain. My name is N Harmonia, and I come to you today on a simple mission.” he continued. As the crowd looked up at the Plasma King, the sunlight broke over the top of the mountain behind him.

    “I do consider myself in part to be a Pokémon trainer, not much different than at least some of you I’m sure, but I have entered this tournament for what I imagine to be a vastly different reason than yours. I have no interest in becoming the Champion, and when I am victorious against Alder, I will likely just allow him to keep the title.” he explained. “All that I want from this tournament is recognition as the most powerful force in the Unova region, because it is with that authority that I shall be able to enforce the ideal that I have long sought. I seek a world where Pokémon are free to live away from humans. Pokémon are the dominant species on this planet and it is only fair that they be allowed to be free of the tyranny many of those in our species impose on them in their childlike trust. The custom thus far has been to introduce one of our Pokémon companions in the spirit of ‘social practice’ and ‘understanding,’ so in keeping with that, allow me to introduce one of my Pokémon friends. This is the Pokémon of mine I think you all will be most interested by. Allow me to introduce the Legendary Dragon Pokémon, Zekrom.” he continued matter-of-factly. As he spoke the final words, he tossed Zekrom’s Pokéball into the air.

    A slight gasp sounded from the entrants in the crowd who had not previously seen the dragon. The ball flew into the air as harmlessly as all the others had, but when it reached its apex, it practically shattered in an explosion of light and power. From within the ball, the massive form of the Deep Black Pokémon emerged. It unfurled its arms and slowly opened its eyes as it fell in a controlled manner to the stage beside N. When Zekrom landed, he threw apart his arms and roared deafeningly. Electricity bristled from his tail as he snorted off his pent up energy. A nervous sense of apprehension and curiosity flowed from the crowd at the sight of him, not altogether sure what to expect from the Pokémon or if it was even real. Nobody said a word.

    N looked up at Zekrom proudly for a moment, smiling to himself at the sight of his friend. N saw past Zekrom’s exterior and thought of him no differently than any of the other Pokémon friends he had always had. It was clear to those who were near him such as Lennon and McCartney that Zekrom was in fact changing him, but to N it was all just the same. After the lengthy silence, N put his hand on Zekrom’s side and turned to face Alder.

    “Well Mr. Alder, I believe that is everyone now. Are we free to begin our journey up the mountain yet?” he asked politely. Alder was still looking up at Zekrom, not afraid like the others but also markedly less cheery than he had been before. N’s words got his attention though and he turned his gaze down towards the trainer.

    “Hmm… yes, I guess so, technically. There’s not really any–” he answered, but before he had finished, N smiled and interrupted.

    “Excellent! Then I will see you all at the summit. Happy trails, and all that.” he said politely. Without waiting for a response, he hopped up onto Zekrom’s back and grasped the Pokémon’s neck tightly. Zekrom’s turbine began to rev up and glow blue with electrical charge. In a matter of seconds, Zekrom bent his knees and then launched himself and N into the sky, soaring to the top of the mountain and out of sight before anyone could say a word. Before the others had even started, N and Zekrom had already made it to the top.

    “Uh… can he… can he really do that, Alder?” David murmured from the crowd. Alder stood staring up at the top of the mountain the same as everybody else. At David’s remark however, the Champion began chuckling to himself and shook his head in disbelief.

    “Well, you heard the man; best get going. You’ve got 36-hours to reach the top, so we’ll see you when you get there.” he replied, his smile creeping back. With that, he and the Elite Four began heading down from the stage and leaving to return to their pavilion. The seven remaining trainers were still a bit confused about what exactly N had just showed them, but thoughts of the tournament quickly returned to their minds at Alder’s prompt. The crowd began setting off, each taking different paths into the caves.

    David and Bianca began heading off as well, but Cheren slipped away with the crowd and took a different path than them before they could catch up. David was still disappointed by how Cheren was being forced to act, but there was a task to do and he willed himself to stay focused on it. For the time being, he at least still had Bianca by his side; unnerved by N but still focused on the coming tournament, the trainers began their trek through Victory Road.

    * * *

    [Continued Below]

  16. #291
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    Chronicles of Unova

    Chapter 28: Trained on the Road of Ultimate
    Part 2 of 2

    A short time had passed since the Victory Road challenge had begun. David and Bianca were still winding their way through the lower corridors of the mountain, but they were making certain, steady progress. The pair had been mostly silent during their trek, both trying awkwardly to ignore the elephant in the room. Cheren’s recent actions and the danger of the battle with N still loomed over them, as they undoubtedly would until the matchup occurred. With the grave consequences associated with them now growing so close however, neither of the trainers wanted to acknowledge those facts. There was nothing either could say to the other that hadn’t been said before; therefore, they simply remained silent.

    Without conversation between the two of them to provide any sound, the deep interior of the tunnel rang with nothing but the sounds of their footsteps. Occasionally the sound of a distant lake buried somewhere within the caves could be heard, but a relatively unbroken, almost unnerving quiet filled the stony halls. It made the sound which eventually broke it that much more noticeable when it came…

    “David, do you hear that?” Bianca asked softly after nearly an hour of silence. David stopped, listening intently for the sound she had heard. He could hear it too when he listened; from the distance in the cave, a sound like metal scraping against stone could be faintly heard. It was a muffled sound however, so neither of them could tell from which direction it was coming.

    “Yeah, I do…” he murmured back. “What is that? Some kind of Pokémon or something?” he asked. Bianca didn’t answer and shifted a bit closer to him.

    The sound had been very faint at first; Bianca likely wouldn’t have even heard it as quickly as she did had there been any other competing sounds. The noise was growing louder now though, and at a rapid pace. It echoed around the hollow cave walls, making discerning the source virtually impossible. It almost sounded as if it was coming at them from all sides, even through the walls themselves. Whatever it was, the sound of hundreds of tiny pieces of metal clacking against the rock was getting closer.

    “You don’t think it’s any kind of danger, right?” she asked. “I mean, there are wild Pokémon that live in here, but they wouldn’t just attack us… would they?” she continued. Fear was starting to creep into her voice. David was growing unnerved as well, but he wasn’t about to show it in front of her when she was already so concerned about everything else.

    “No, I wouldn’t think so.” he answered, trying to steady his voice. “Maybe it’s just one of the other competitors. Come on, let’s just keep walking.” he continued. The pair continued down the tunnel in the direction they had been heading, but a bit more quickly now than they had been before. Bianca lightly clutched David’s hand.

    The trainers kept on, but the sounds didn’t subside. In fact, they continued to grow louder, though at a moderately decreased pace. The scratching sound echoed from all around them, though still no obvious source appeared. They were moving very briskly now; after about a minute of walking, their tunnel intersected with another, branching off into three other paths. David and Bianca stopped, the sound having spiked in volume upon entering the chamber. David stepped forward and looked around in anger.

    “Okay, seriously, what the hell is that?” he asked, reaching towards the holster on his belt for a Pokéball. The noise was coming from all four tunnels at once, originating from a source just barely out of sight. It seemed as if to taunt them, forcing itself into their attention but never fully revealing itself. After moment’s wait, the source did finally arrive; when they saw it however, they wished it hadn’t. Streaming out of the darkness towards them, hundreds of Durant began pouring from every tunnel.

    The small bugs moved like an ocean, surrounding them and hissing in anger. Glaring from behind their thin red eyes, the Durant encircled the trainers and began swarming into position. They filled the chamber, prepared to dispatch the intruders into their home. David reached down for Snorlax’s Pokéball, but no matter where he turned, he realized he was always turning his back on the danger.

    “Where did all these things come from?” Bianca asked frightenedly. She wanted to help and felt the instinct to defend herself as well, but none of her Pokémon would be able to do any real damage to the Bug/Steel-types. Their only chance would be Snorlax’s Fire Punch, though there were so many, the slow Pokémon might simply be overwhelmed. David drew the Sleeping Pokémon’s ball and primed it, but he wasn’t feeling any more confident than she was.

    “We must have stumbled onto a nest. I think we’re going to have to fight them.” he answered nervously. The Durant continued to swarm around them like a sea of steel. Their hissing was unrelenting and the sound of their metal bodies shifting against one another was sharp. Whatever David was going to do, his time was running out.

    David and Bianca held their ground, but they were also certain to make no sudden movements. They continued to wait and watch the Durant for any clear signs of aggression, but their intentions were growing clearer and clearer with each passing second. The hive slowed their movements eventually, still surrounding the trainers but seeming to settle into position. A particularly large Durant stepped forward, eyeing David just the same as David was doing to it. The Iron Ant Pokémon was silent, flexing its pincers and waiting to attack.

    “Be cool, Bianca… just be cool…” David whispered. The words had hardly left his lips when the leader made its move though. Screeching horribly and leaping towards them, the Pokémon’s eyes burned in anger as it started to attack. Bianca shrieked and covered her face defensively. David motioned to throw Snorlax’s Pokéball, but it was too little too late.

    “Snorlax, use–” David started to shout, but he was interrupted by another voice from somewhere behind them before he could throw the ball. It all happened so fast that David’s mind could hardly process it, but the sound of a female voice broke through the screeches of the Durant.

    “Heatmor, help them! Use Flamethrower!” the woman’s voice shouted. David had shut his eyes and was clutching Bianca. The Durant was still leaping through the air to attack them insofar as he was aware, but the next thing he knew, he felt a wave of heat go flying over him and the Durant’s scream changed. After several seconds, he realized he had not yet been attacked. He opened his eyes and saw the Durant writhing on the ground in pain.

    “What the–” he stammered, but his senses returned to him before he could finish the question. Turning to look where the sound had come from, he saw Kali standing on a ledge above them, a powerful looking Heatmor by her side. The Heatmor was retracting its fiery tongue, a confident looking shimmer in its eyes at the sight of so many of its prey. Before David could say another word, Kali took a small hop and began sliding down the wall towards them, her Heatmor in tow. The sea of Durant began to panic and shift targets at the sight of them.

    “Heatmor, use Flame Burst!” Kali shouted as they reached the bottom. The Durant began swarming toward her, leaving David and Bianca alone, but they were no match for their natural predator. Her Heatmor still had its devilish gleam in its eyes.

    The Heatmor took in a deep breath and began lobbing fireballs towards the wall of ironclad bugs. The dollops of flame shot out from the Anteater Pokémon’s snout at tremendous speed, striking one Durant at a time but exploding and spreading to the others upon contact. Each blow was able to instantly defeat an entire group at a time as the Bug/Steel-types had a tremendous weakness to the fire. Their shrill hisses turned to deafening screams of terror. They tried to fight back at first but none of them made any progress. Kali and her Heatmor advanced slowly, pushing back the wall of bugs. After a few moments of combat, the Durant realized their role in the doomed matchup and began to flee. In seconds, the entire colony had been driven off. The defeated ones lay burned on the ground, unconscious and no longer in a state to fight. The Heatmor ceased its barrage and finally stood down.

    “And don’t come back!” Kali shouted from behind a grin. Her Heatmor snorted and nodded its head, a thin plume of smoke escaping from its snout at the remark. Kali looked down at her Pokémon and nodded proudly, putting a hand around its shoulder. She then looked back up and brought her gaze towards David and Bianca.

    “Are you two okay?” she asked. The pair looked at each other for confirmation and both nodded; David turned back towards their unexpected savior and extended a hand.

    “Yeah, we are. Thanks a bunch, miss; you totally saved us.” he said gratefully. A surprised and excited grin was beginning to line his face after her fortuitous arrival. Kali returned it and shook his hand.

    “Anytime.” she replied. “Always glad to help.”

    David released her hand and put Snorlax’s Pokéball away. Bianca shook her hand in turn and thanked her as well. David’s heart was still racing from their would-be attack; if Kali hadn’t impressed him during the introductions, she certainly had now.

    “I’m David and this is Bianca. Your name was Kali, right? You had that Swellow.” David said as she and Bianca released one another’s grip. Kali smiled and nodded in affirmation.

    “Yeah, I am. It’s nice to meet you guys. You had that talking Gardevoir.” she replied, looking at David. “And you had that shiny Crobat; he was really cool.” she continued, turning to Bianca. The pair nodded politely at her comments.

    “Thanks again for your help back there.” Bianca commented. “If you hadn’t of shown up, we would’ve been toast!” she continued. Kali blushed at the compliment and smiled.

    “Don’t thank me. My Heatmor did all the work.” she said modestly. David remembered her similar comment about her Swellow during the introductions; Kali seemed to just have a good, pure feel to her, and every time she spoke he became more and more convinced of it.

    “You seem like a really strong trainer, Kali. We really appreciate the help.” David said. Kali continued to smile and brushed the hair out of her eyes.

    “Thanks.” she said slightly embarrassedly. “You too.” she continued, though David felt a little bad for not having given her a better basis for saying it.

    “This place is crawling with dangerous wild Pokémon like that. Watch your back in here.” she said as she recalled her Heatmor. David and Bianca nodded at her advice as she began to head off.

    “Yeah, definitely; will do.” David answered back. Kali shot them a quick two-fingered wave and a grin before heading off. David and Bianca returned the gesture and sighed as their heartbeats finally settled back down to normal. Stepping over some of the charred bodies of the defeated Durant, they split ways and began continuing down the path they had been on. After that, David kept Paula’s Pokéball at the ready for the remainder of their trip however.

    * * *

    About an hour had passed since their meeting with Kali and the Durant. David and Bianca had made it a little under half way up the mountain by now, but the tunnel they had been following had doubled back on itself and was now at its end. Breaking out of the cliff wall and overlooking the clearing below, they had a picturesque view of Route 10 stretching on in front of them as the early afternoon sun baked the land. Unfortunately, they weren’t in the best of positions to enjoy it, given the colossal drop-off in front of them. A wooden bridge connected the end of the tunnel to another one about twenty feet away to their right. While it looked at least reasonably safe, it was still a long way to the bottom if they took a misstep. The pair would have to take it to continue on.

    “Watch your step…” David murmured, looking down the side of the cliff face at the clearing below. Bianca spied a small rock on the ground beside them and inched it over the edge; it was several seconds before they heard it hit.

    David took Bianca’s hand and began carefully heading across the bridge. They kept their backs to the cliff face and walked sideways as so to put as much distance between themselves and the edge of the wooden planks as they could. It was slow going, but it was the safest way. Things were going fairly smoothly until they reached the midway point of the bridge. David had started out first and was therefore closer to the other end of the bridge than Bianca was. He had been inching forward, making careful progress, when he felt a tremor in the rock bump up against his back. Though it was just a minor tap, it made him stop to reassure his footing.

    “What’s wrong, David?” Bianca asked. David wore a confused look on his face, turning his neck around to look at the stone. He wasn’t altogether sure what it had been.

    “I thought I felt something from inside the rock I think…” he answered quizzically. “It was like… something inside was beating on the wall.” he continued. The two of them stopped and listened to see if it would happen again.

    Sure enough, after a few seconds of waiting, a tapping sound came from within the stone wall of the cliff, accompanied by a slight reverberation in the rock with each hit. David and Bianca were thoroughly confused by the strange phenomenon. They turned to look at each other, their progress now halted.

    “You don’t suppose it’s hollow in there, do you?” Bianca asked.

    “Maybe. There could be a hidden tunnel in there.” David replied. After waiting a moment to see if the knocking would continue, David slowly reached out and tapped back on the wall. Sure enough, a hollow sound rang out. The tapping stopped and it became quiet again.

    David and Bianca were still stopped and standing directly in front of where the tapping had been coming from. David knew in the back of his mind they should keep going, or at the very least get off of the ledge, but the curious tapping had momentarily grasped their attention. There was several seconds of silence after David had knocked back. A muffled sound then followed from inside the wall, but it was an altogether different sound this time around.

    “… –kodile… Dra– … –ail!” a man’s voice shouted. The sound was very faint and muffled as it tried to pierce through the wall. David hardly recognized the words as they came, but when their meaning sank in, his eyes became wide.

    “Bianca, get down!” he shouted. Throwing himself towards her and pushing her out of the way, the section of the wall they had just been standing in front of burst open, a cloud of dust, rocks and shrapnel flying out. Had they been standing where they were just an instant before, the explosive force would have knocked them over the edge. When the dust began to clear, two humanoid figures walked out calmly. David rose, still protectively shielding Bianca with his body, and glared at the silhouettes.

    “Nice job, Krookodile.” Dirk said proudly. As the dust cleared and the two figures became distinguishable, a burly Krookodile standing beside him folded its arms and grinned confidently at the compliment. Dirk set one hand on his hip and another over his eyes, surveying the valley below them. He didn’t even notice David and Bianca, still carefully struggling to rise.

    “Hey man, what the hell?!” David shouted, guardedly picking himself up and walking over to the muscular trainer. Dirk turned to look at him, a confused look on his face as he became aware of David’s presence.

    “I beg your pardon?” he asked unassumingly. Dirk seemed completely clueless as to where David had come from or what he was upset about. He lowered his raised hand, the Krookodile behind him turning to look at the distraction as well.

    “You just almost knocked us off the side of the mountain, dude! What do you think you’re doing?” David shouted back. Dirk’s Krookodile snarled and began to growl at David’s threatening tone, but Dirk simply smirked and turned away.

    “That sounds like your problem, kid, not mine.” he answered nonchalantly. Dirk brought his hand back to his brow and continued to look out at the valley, ignoring David. David continued to stare up at him, completely in disbelief by Dirk’s unphased response.

    “It sounds like… what?!” David stammered, unable to believe what he was hearing. “Are you serious, man? We could have just died!” he retorted. Dirk was still ignoring David, reaching down now for two of the Pokéballs on his holster. He snorted a laugh and began recalling his Krookodile.

    “Dirk Smallwood has no time for your stupid little problems, kid. I’m a world famous Pokémon trainer and explorer; I’ve got better things to worry about than a snot like you.” he explained arrogantly, replacing his Krookodile’s Pokéball on the holster and drawing another. He was totally absorbed in his task and paid David virtually no mind, a cocky smirk lining his lips the whole time. David was stupefied in anger towards the man; he couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

    “You don’t even care you and your stupid Krookodile just almost knocked us off of the mountain?” Bianca asked incredulously from behind David. She had now managed to pick herself back up and get back to them on the rickety bridge as well. At the piercing sound of the female voice, Dirk turned his attention back towards them again and maintained his obnoxious grin. Dirk laughed to himself heartily at the sight of her; he once again set his hands on his hips and stared down at them from atop his tremendous height.

    “Well look at you, little lady! Aren’t you a fiery one?” he exclaimed amusedly. “What are you doing in a dangerous place like this, huh? Shouldn’t you be at home playing with makeup or dolls?” he asked. “Run along back to the kitchen, little girl; this is no place for someone like you.” he explained. Bianca gasped at his comments; David clenched his teeth and could feel his blood boil.

    “What did you say to me, you meathead?!” Bianca exclaimed. Dirk once again laughed to himself and primed the Pokéball he had been holding. He turned back towards the edge of the bridge and smiled.

    “You heard me. Get lost, twerps. This is a man’s job.” he said strongly. With that, he tossed the Pokéball he was holding over the side and released the Pokémon inside it in midair. In a burst of refracted light, a screeching Skarmory came out and spread its wings in flight. Dirk shot them a sarcastic wave before taking a running leap off of the edge of the bridge, landing in perfect synchronization on the Skarmory’s back. The pair flew off to some other part of the mountain and went out of sight. Bianca was still dumbstruck by his comments and flipped him off with both hands as he disappeared.

    “Fucking asshole…” she murmured as he disappeared. David shook his head and sighed in agreement, having nothing else to add. Carefully stepping over the rocky debris Dirk had left behind, the pair made their way across the remainder of the bridge and back into the caves. They had managed to make one enemy in the competition already, that was for sure.

    * * *

    Late afternoon had come. David and Bianca were on the final stretch now; they knew they were getting close to the top as the air had begun getting thinner and drier. Though they couldn’t see it from within the depths of the caves, the mid-winter sun was beginning to set, bathing Route 10 in a reddish hue. The pair continued on, still mostly travelling in silence.

    The terrain of the caves was getting rockier and more difficult the higher they got as well. The tunnels all now had a naturally steep incline to them as they wound their way up towards the summit. They had seen scatterings of friendly Woobat and Mienfoo while they had traveled through the lower portions of the caves, but since their meeting with Dirk, the frequency of wild Pokémon had severely lowered. The young trainers were beginning to grow weary of their travels as the day began coming to a close; it would be time to stop for the night soon.

    As they continued on, a female voice broke the silence from somewhere up ahead. For once it sounded like someone else was in distress instead of them.

    “Lilligant, quick! Use–” the muffled voice shouted, but the sound was too far away to catch the last of it. David and Bianca stopped and looked at each other upon hearing the sound. Fearing someone ahead was in trouble, they took off at a slow run towards the sound. When they crested the incline of their path, a large cavern opened up in front of them.

    “Shoot! Just missed it…” White muttered to herself. She and her Lilligant stood in the middle of the clearing, looking off into the distance as if something had just escaped. David and Bianca slowed their pace and walked up to talk to her.

    “Are you alright, miss? We thought we heard you shout.” David asked as they approached. White turned in surprise, not having heard them walk up, and brought her gaze upon him. She looked curiously confused at first, but as his question registered, she smiled and shook her head.

    “Oh, hi! Sorry, I didn’t hear you guys come up.” she explained. “No, don’t worry, I’m fine. Lilligant and I were just trying to catch a Pokémon is all.” she continued. David and Bianca smiled and nodded at her answer.

    “I’m David.” David said, extending a hand towards the fellow trainer.

    “And I’m Bianca.” Bianca added as she joined them. White smiled and shook their hands in turn.

    “I’m White. Nice to meet you guys. Thanks for your concern; I appreciate it.” she replied. David nodded, murmuring “you’re welcome” under his breath quietly.

    “So what kind of Pokémon were you trying to catch, White?” Bianca asked interestedly. White grinned and rested a hand on her Lilligant’s shoulder.

    “It was a Legendary Pokémon called Terrakion! Rumor has it that he lives somewhere in this cave network, hiding himself away from humans. I figured, ‘Well, while I’m here I may as well look for it,’ and I think we may have caught a glimpse of him! He got away before we could get an attack off though.” she explained. David cocked an eyebrow at her outlandish claim.

    “Terrakion? You mean from the Musketeer Trio? Really?” he asked in surprise. White nodded and maintained her smile.

    “Yup! That’s the one!” she answered. David was still surprised and not entirely sure if he believed her, but stranger things had certainly happened after all.

    “Well that’s cool. You’ll have to let us know if you find him again.” he said politely. White nodded and began drawing her Lilligant’s Pokéball.

    “Okay. You guys keep an eye out for him too. If you’re always on the lookout for strong Pokémon and powerful new strategies, you never have to dedicate time to training. That’s what I’ve learned at least; constantly keep trying to better yourself, and you’ll get to places like this.” she explained. David appreciated her sentiment; she appeared to be a very well-rounded trainer.

    White recalled her Lilligant to its Pokéball and set it back on her holster. Smiling at David and Bianca, she shot them a quick wave and started heading off.

    “See you guys at the summit. Thanks again for your concern!” she said politely. David and Bianca waved as well as she headed off down the path. The two of them started down another path, their tired spirits somewhat rejuvenated by the nice conversation with White. Bianca wore a wry smile on her lips as they left the cavern.

    “What are you grinning about?” David asked curiously. Bianca nudged his side and maintained her smile.

    “She kind of reminds me of you, David. You two seem really similar.” she said slyly. David blushed and rubbed the back of his head.

    “Really? I don’t really see it.” he answered back. Bianca giggled and took his hand.

    “Whatever you say, David.” she responded. “Whatever you say…”

    * * *

    Night had fallen over Victory Road. A clear, cloudless sky hung over the mountain, revealing a vast array of stars to light the terrain. David and Bianca had set up their camp at the edge of one of the tunnels, looking out over Route 10 from nearly a thousand feet up. They were very close, but the long travel through the difficult caves had justifiably worn them out. It would be a short trek in the morning to go the remaining distance, and in the meantime, they had found too perfect of a spot to stop for the night to pass up. The young couple sat comfortably in each other’s arms, looking out peacefully at the night sky. For as much as they tried to push it out of their minds, they knew they had to treasure this time together, as the battle with N was drawing ever closer. The peaceful quiet and the heat of the fire were relaxing after the long day.

    As their minds turned off and they began to relax, their sensory perception began to deaden ever so slightly. The world washed away and they were able to just think. Sleep was beginning to come to Bianca, though David was doing a better job at fighting it than she was. Their senses melded as they simply experienced and enjoyed the moment. When the warbling cry of a bird sounded from behind them, it almost didn’t even sound out of place.

    “What was–” David started to murmur, but before he could finish his question, a Swellow came soaring past them out of the tunnel and into the open air before them. The Swallow Pokémon stirred their minds back into focus and woke them from their peaceful daze. When it had discovered the exit, the Swellow circled back around and flew over to them, maintaining its position in the air and looking down at them expectantly. David and Bianca stared back at it quizzically until another sound caught their attention.

    “What did you find, Silver? Did you find– …oh hey, guys!” Kali exclaimed as she appeared from behind them. David and Bianca turned and saw their savior from the Durant earlier walking up from the tunnel behind them. The pair smiled and waved over to her as she ran up.

    “Hey, Kali. Looks like you made it up here okay.” David said as she walked up. Kali smiled and nodded as Silver flew back to her. The bird landed on one of her gloves and began folding in its brilliant wings carefully.

    “Yeah; fancy running into you guys here. You both camped out for the night?” she asked. David nodded “yes” as Bianca shifted from his grip and sat beside him.

    “You looking for somewhere to stay the night too?” he asked. Kali nodded in affirmation. “You’re welcome to stay here if you like.” he offered. Kali blushed at the suggestion and looked around at the tight space.

    “Oh, I couldn’t. I wouldn’t want to impose…” she said embarrassedly. David smiled and pulled his legs in.

    “Nah, it’s fine. Take a seat. It’s the least we can do after you saved us from those Durant earlier.” he explained. Kali continued to blush and smiled at the offer. She thanked him and sat down opposite them. Silver still clutching her gloved arm, she reached to brush the hair from her eyes and continued to smile.

    “Thank you, guys; you’re very kind.” she said humbly. David grinned back and nodded again. He and Bianca had fully woken back up now; he was curious to learn more about this trainer who had impressed him so much the previous two times.

    “So tell us a little about yourself, Kali. I’m really kind of curious.” David began, prompting her for conversation. Kali smiled and looked away, her hair falling back in front of her eyes again as she turned her head.

    “Oh… that’s sweet, but it’s not really all that interesting.” she said modestly. “It’s kind of a long story anyway.” she continued. David chuckled at the answer and continued to look at her.

    “Nothing else better to do, right?” he asked lightly. Kali chuckled at the remark and leaned back against the rock wall.

    “Well… okay.” she said, stretching out her long legs and folding one on top of the other. “I’m not really all that use to talking about myself though.” she continued. David smiled and continued listening intently.

    “Well, I was born in Lacunosa Town like I said earlier. It’s a little town in-between Route 12 and Route 13. Have either of you ever heard of it?” she asked. Bianca shook her head “no,” but David spoke up in response.

    “I think I have. Something about a wall surrounding the city or something like that?” he replied. Kali nodded and looked down at Silver.

    “That’s right. It’s a very old town. There’s a huge stone wall surrounding the city and none of us are allowed outside after dark. That’s… well, that’s kind of why I’m here actually…” she continued, trailing off towards the end. David was very curious now.

    “What do you mean?” he asked. “What is the wall for? And why can’t you go out after dark?” he continued. Kali continued staring into Silver’s feathers and sighed. After a long pause, she continued to speak, but in a rather hushed voice compared to before.

    “Lacunosa Town is cursed…” she murmured. David instantly noticed a change in her voice.

    “Cursed?” he asked quizzically. Kali nodded and sighed again.

    “In the forests to the northeast of the city, a meteorite is said to have fallen in the distant past. The crater and the surrounding area is referred to as the Giant Chasm by the inhabitants of our town.” she began. “Some 2500 years ago, at the start of the Prima Pax Unova, a monster known as Kyurem began inhabiting the chasm. The people of Lacunosa never disturbed it, but it would sometimes come in the night and kidnap people. They would never be seen again.” she continued. She began stroking Silver’s feathers as he settled in against her chest.

    “This went on for many years. Our people lived in fear of the monster and could never safely be out in the streets after dark. Eventually we built a wall around the city to protect ourselves, but by tradition we still never go out at night.” she explained. “Some people say Kyurem is some type of Pokémon, but I know a Pokémon could never be that evil…” she said.

    “I was raised in Lacunosa and grew up in the same fear that all of my ancestors had. I lived in a barracks of a city, watching as even the adults were fearful for their lives to be out after dark. It still worries me to be out at night sometimes, even now that I’ve left home.” she concluded. David and Bianca were enraptured by her story.

    “Wow…” Bianca murmured. “That’s insane, Kali. I can’t believe I’ve never heard of this place.” she continued. Kali turned and looked into the fire, still stroking Silver rhythmically.

    “Is that what made you want to become a trainer?” David asked softly. Kali nodded and continued to speak.

    “One day when I was a little girl, I was playing with some friends of mine by the ocean on Route 13. Our parents had told us not to go too far past the wall, but we didn’t listen.” she began. “I got separated from my friends and I ended up getting lost in the woods. We had been swimming all day, but it was getting to be evening. I was wet and cold, only half dressed, and the only thought on my mind was memories of the stories about the monster. I was so afraid… and I was only a little kid… I’ve never felt so alone in my life…” she continued. There was a forlorn pause as the memories flooded back to her.

    “It got to be nighttime and I was still lost. I was shivering and alone and certain I was about to die. My friends were nowhere to be found and I could barely see my hand in front of my face. I was just wandering around… when I heard it… Kyurem.” she said. She shivered and clutched Silver’s body as she recalled the monster’s echoing call.

    “I was terrified. I knew there would be no escape, so I just sat down and started to cry. I sat there in the woods, waiting for the monster to find me and kill me. I had given up hope. That’s when I met Silver though; he saved me…” she continued. Kali looked down at the Swellow in her arms and continued to stroke him. The warm bird had fallen asleep by now and was cooing peacefully.

    “Swellow are a naturally occurring species in the area around Lacunosa.” she explained. “While I was sitting there crying, I felt a little poke against my bare legs and looked down to see what it was. A baby Taillow had come up and was trying to see what the matter was. The Taillow was able to see over the trees and help me find my way back into town. He became my first Pokémon; he saved my life that night. I named him Silver and, well… the rest is history.” she concluded. David and Bianca wore unbreakable smiles on their faces. Bianca shook her head and chuckled.

    “Aww…” she cooed. “Kali, that’s so sweet. You’re gonna make me cry…” she continued. Kali laughed and turned her gaze back towards the fire.

    “I never forgot that night, and I never forgot the debt I owe to Silver. I vowed the next morning to become a Pokémon trainer so I could fight Kyurem. I’ve been training ever since to enter this competition and become the Champion, because only the Champion could ever hope to beat Kyurem. I’m going to do what no one from my town in a hundred generations has done: I’m going to seek Kyurem out and I’m going to stop him, once and for all.” she explained fiercely. David continued to smile as her story drew to a close.

    “Kali, that might be one of the noblest things I’ve ever heard anyone doing. I hope you do well; your town deserves someone like you.” he said stoically. Kali smiled and closed her eyes, nodding at the comment and continuing to clutch her Swellow.

    “Thanks, David; I really appreciate that.” she replied. Silver stirred in his sleep and fluttered one of his wings. The campfire continued to crackle as the night carried on.

    The trio of trainers continued to talk for a short while after, but they soon took after Silver’s lead and went to sleep themselves. While the girls were both able to fall asleep fairly easily, David found himself unable to sleep for a long time after their conversation had ceased, despite the long, tiring journey through the mountain. His thoughts kept going back to Kali’s story and all that she had said of Kyurem. Something about her had caught his eye during the introductions, and nothing so far had done anything but impress him about her. Kali seemed like the kind of pure, genuine person he had always hoped to meet in his travels as a Pokémon trainer. When sleep finally came to him, his restless mind transported his dreams to the forests of Lacunosa.

    * * *

    The mid-morning sun crested over the ivory pavilion of the Elite Four. The magnificent structure stood like a glittering white jewel against the harsh desert background. A very small town was built around it, with members of the press and the lucky patrons who had managed to purchase tickets to the tournament beginning to now arrive in droves. Most of them flew in, some by motor and some by Pokémon, while still others utilized the highway from Opelucid to drive in. Only the competitors had to make their way to the top via Victory Road; as an official League event, civilization had encroached slowly into the Wastelands to create this small oasis in which to host the tournament. The town featured little more than a smattering of hotels and the grand stadium where the battles would take place, but that was all it really needed anyway.

    David, Bianca and Kali rounded a bend in the path they had been on, bringing the small town into sight at the end of the tunnel. When it came into view, Bianca’s face lit up in excitement.

    “Look guys, we made it!” she remarked. She dashed in front of the two of them and turned around to face them.

    “Come on, let’s go! Last one there’s a rotten Exeggcute!” she exclaimed. Before either of them could respond, she spun back around again and took off running for the pavilion. David chuckled at her response, but he was mostly just happy to see her mind taken off of N for the moment. He turned to face Kali to make a joke, but she was already sprinting after Bianca, leaving David in the dust.

    “Well crap, wait for me!” David yelled as the girls ran off without him. Bianca was already too far ahead to hear, but he had a shot at catching up to Kali. David was a bit faster than she was, but he didn’t quite have her strides.

    Despite how close to civilization they were, the ground in the cave was still rocky and uneven. Bianca dashed out from the tunnel and kept running towards the small city, but as Kali drew near to the cave exit herself, she tripped and faltered, if only for a moment. David was right on her heels and managed to edge past her. He left the cave next after Bianca, with Kali trailing just behind. The three of them sprinted the rest of the way to the pavilion, but neither David nor Kali thought any more of her accidental misstep. When they reached the pavilion, Alder was there waiting.

    “Hallo-ah!” he bellowed as the trio ran up. The child-like grins on their faces and the amusement of their race spread to the jolly Champion as soon as he saw them. Alder’s famous grin welcomed them as the three of them all caught up to each other.

    “Hey Alder.” David replied when he caught up. “We’re not… we’re not late, are we?” he asked, struggling to catch his breath after the dash. Alder laughed heartily at the joke, slapping David on the back rather hard in response. It didn’t exactly help him get his breath back; David wondered if perhaps the Champion didn’t really know how strong he was.

    “Not at all, my boy! You’ve made it with time to spare!” Alder answered proudly. “We’ve been expecting you three. You all are the last trainers to arrive. We can announce the pairings for the first round of battles now.” he explained. David cocked an eyebrow at the unnerving comment.

    “We… we were the last ones to get here? Really?” he asked somewhat disappointedly. “I didn’t think we’d be the first necessarily but I definitely didn’t think we’d be the last.” he continued. Alder continued to chuckle to himself, not allowing his spirits to be brought down.

    “Right, because the person who can get through a cave the fastest is obviously the better trainer.” he responded sarcastically. “Don’t worry about it, David, we just use how fast you got through Victory Road as a means of determining the opening matchups.” he explained. David once again cocked an eyebrow at the remark, but Alder continued before he could question it.

    “Come on, let’s head on inside; everyone is waiting.” he continued. Alder motioned for them to follow him and began heading inside the pavilion. Bianca and Kali followed, but David was still a bit concerned by that last comment. He was sure he’d find out what Alder had meant soon enough though, he figured.

    Alder led the trainers into the central area of the Elite Four’s Pavilion. A pristine, all-white room opened before them with a marble statue anchored in the center. In the middle of the sprawling foyer was a large statue of Lady Justice, extending her scales in her right hand, her hood drawn solemnly over her blindfolded eyes. The statue in turn stood in the center of a small, crystal clear reflecting pool. The pavilion was just as beautiful, lavish and ornate as David had always heard it was. Gathered around the statue were the members of the Elite Four and the five other entrants to the tournament, Cheren and N among them. Alder motioned for David, Bianca and Kali to join them as he himself walked to where the Elite Four stood. With the eight trainers having now reconvened, Alder stood before them and drew breath to speak.

    “Welcome once again, challengers! All eight of you have now made it to the summit of Victory Road. This is not at all an easy task and I congratulate you on all having made it. Pairings for the first round of battles can now be announced.” he began. The Elite Four behind him began to politely clap, which the small crowd of trainers accompanied in turn. Alder grinned and drew a sheet of paper from beneath his cloak.

    “As per standard League practice, we will use reverse seeding to determine the battles. This means the person who made it here first will go against the person who made it here last, the person who made it here second will go against the person who made it here second to last, and so on.” he explained. David suddenly felt very badly about having passed Kali when she tripped in the cave earlier; it instantly dawned on him who that meant her first round opponent was going to be.

    “I know the order our first five trainers arrived in, but for the three of you who just arrived, could you tell me the order you three left the cave?” Alder asked. David stood stock still, dreading the realization that Kali would have to go against N, but before he could say anything, Bianca spoke up to answer.

    “I left first, Alder.” she said half mockingly, not realizing the predicament that put Kali in. “David was next and then Kali I think.” she continued. Alder nodded and wrote the results down on his scrap of paper. He tore off four sections from it and handed them to the Elite Four behind him. He then turned back to the crowd and continued to speak.

    “Excellent. Thank you, Bianca.” he began, nodding at her as he spoke. “Then we have our matchups. They will be as follows.” he continued, turning towards Shauntal as he finished.

    “The first match will be between our second place entrant White and our seventh place entrant David.” she said, reading from the note.

    “The second match will be between fourth place Mr. Cheren and fifth place Ms. Baker.” Grimsley continued, smiling at Lynn as he spoke.

    “The third match will be between the third place combatant Dirk, and the sixth place combatant, Bianca!” Marshal bellowed.

    “And the final match shall be between the first place competitor N and the eighth place competitor Kali.” Caitlin finished in a very refined voice. David shot Kali a look out of the corner of his eye as her pairing was announced, but for as worried as he was about it, she looked relatively unphased. He felt awful knowing he could have gotten his matchup against N out of the way in the first round and potentially spared her chances, but that now she would be forced to battle N to have a chance at saving her town from Kyurem. There was nothing he could do about it now though; Alder continued to speak as Caitlin finished.

    “So there you have it. Any questions?” he asked. Nobody said a word, though David felt like he wanted to. Alder smiled and clapped his hands together once.

    “Alright then! You all will be staying here while the tournament is taking place, and you’re free to take any room you like. Rooms have been set aside for you just off the main hallway there.” he explained, pointing to a door opposite him in foyer. “There’s a press event tonight if any of you want to attend, but you don’t have to. The first match will begin tomorrow morning at 10 o’clock, with the others following in sequence after. Good luck, everyone; remember to enjoy this experience while it lasts.” he concluded. With that, the trainers all began to part ways.

    Much like he had before, Cheren went away with the crowd and slipped away before David or Bianca could try to talk to him. David wouldn’t have tried though; his thoughts were still occupied by Kali’s unfortunate lot in the tournament. He felt like he needed to warn her about N, but she seemed so nonchalant about facing him, he wondered if it would maybe just do more harm than good to stress her out. David resolved he would let things be, but he still wished there was something he could do to help; she had such a noble cause, it hurt to see his newfound friend walking into such danger.

    Nevertheless, David had his own battle to worry about and he knew if he didn’t focus on it, he might get eliminated before even getting to face N for himself. With his first League Championship battle now less than 24-hours away, David knew he had to stay focused and not let himself get distracted. After eight badges, half a year of travel and all the hardships and changes his journey and given him, the Pokémon League Championships had finally begun.

  17. #292
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    I must say, this is an excellently-written chapter. Bravo, keep up the awesomeness!
    Check out my newly-opened Trade Shop!!!
    ------------
    I have claimed Volcarona!
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    FC: 3411 0844 2159

  18. #293
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    I'm normally not one to comment on these chapters, but I have been a long-time reader, rest assured! I am so honoured to have won this contest, and seeing Lynn come to life in your story is already making me so happy that I can't stop smiling. I'm so excited! I mimic the general sentiment that others have expressed over this story-- it's truly spectacular! Amazing, flawless, and if I could think of any other synonyms, I'd say that too. This chapter is no exception; I'm eagerly on the edge of my seat waiting for the next chapter with bated breath! (Also, I know it's very late, but could I possibly be added to the PM list?)


  19. #294
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    congrats to the the entrants then! Alas, I couldn't generate a character without using or ripping one of my own written characters, so I ended upstting this out. Fr better to see someone new to writing be inspired, I figured.

    Rey sounds like an interesting character. I wanna read that! In fact, any chance of us getting to see the entrants? Special Features perhaps?
        Spoiler:- Breeding stuff:

  20. #295
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    Wow, I forgot how much I liked this fanfic. I cant wait for everyone's battles. I know N will win but hopefully Kali gives him a run for his money. What if White was David's cousin or long-lost sister or something. I know Bianca will drive Dirk's lifeless corpse into the ground. I bet Cheren will win, probably facing off against David next. Then again, Bianca might fight David. Of course, your fight system might be completely different then what I thought.
    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.

  21. #296
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    Quote Originally Posted by Little Miss Sunshine View Post
    I am so honoured to have won this contest, and seeing Lynn come to life in your story is already making me so happy that I can't stop smiling. I'm so excited! I mimic the general sentiment that others have expressed over this story-- it's truly spectacular! Amazing, flawless, and if I could think of any other synonyms, I'd say that too.
    For some reason, the way you worded that reminded me of this guy, lol. Glad you're so pleased.

    Quote Originally Posted by Little Miss Sunshine View Post
    (Also, I know it's very late, but could I possibly be added to the PM list?)
    Done (I don't normally announce this, but since I'm responding anyway...)

    Quote Originally Posted by Glover View Post
    Rey sounds like an interesting character. I wanna read that! In fact, any chance of us getting to see the entrants? Special Features perhaps?
    I'd be up for posting the three I gave Honorable Mentions to if the people who submitted them are okay with it. I don't know if I should post them without their consent however.

  22. #297
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Cebu, Philippines
    Posts
    1,259

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChaosBlizzard View Post
    For some reason, the way you worded that reminded me of this guy, lol. Glad you're so pleased.


    Done (I don't normally announce this, but since I'm responding anyway...)


    I'd be up for posting the three I gave Honorable Mentions to if the people who submitted them are okay with it. I don't know if I should post them without their consent however.
    I'm down for you posting them. (: I made the character specifically for your story, so I really don't have any use for her anymore, unless I decide to cameo her in a fic that I might be writing (no promises haha).

    Anyways, a proper Justin-review is due!

    I think this is one of your better chapters, to be honest! Not earth shattering or anything, but it's for sure really good. I enjoyed the change of pace, if anything; going from event to event to event and battles to just light-hearted nothings. There's not a whole lot to talk about, but I do have some praise.

    First of all, I love the characterization of these side characters. I know Lynn was done by someone else, and I think she was very nicely written, but your delivery of her to the story makes me really excited to see more from her. A Butterfree! Hm! I'm excited how you turn this into a Grade-A Elite 4 battle. (:
    Second, Kali is my favorite! She's such an interesting character; I'm excited to see what you do with her as well! Do I see some Part 2 foreshadowing going on as well... ? >
    And finally, Dirk. I hate him. He's a butt. I wish David had like, lifted him and thrown him off the mountain. I like your characterization of him; he's believable, outrageous, and obviously a character that you want everyone to hate, but you pull it off well enough to not be too trying hard. Good job! (I hate Skarmory too. Way overrated, and it's such an ugly design, to be honest. :P)
    Your thing with Cheren and N was really unexpected too; very good touch! Cheren's venom is actually really shocking, but it's not like out of nowhere. I feel like the build-up to this point was really good. I feel so sad about their friendship though.

    AND DURANT WAS IN THIS CHAPTER WHOOOOOO!!!

    Again, great chapter! I feel bad for not having a long, flowy, expansive review like I usually do, but it was just good. I don't have much to complain about, I've said my praise, and that's about it, haha. I'm excited for the next chapter already!!!

    Feel like you need a little more Pokemon in your life? Tune into our show!
    EPISODE 55 - SLOWPOKE HOLIDAY
    Looking for something Pokemon-related to listen to while playing through Pokemon XY? This episode is for you!!
    Released: 12/11/14


    Guess who claimed Luxray?!

  23. #298
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    158

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    And, I step out of the shadows to comment finally.

    I have been an avid reader of this fanfic since its debut, and have immensely enjoyed it. The problem with most fan fiction is when the authors rush the plot and sacrifice character development, but this is not the case with this fanfic. You have captured Bianca's character in a real–world situation very well, and David (whom I assume is based off yourself) is very solid. The only problem I have with Cheren is the lack of the "strength is everything" attitude he possesses in-game, and I feel that his cold anger in recent chapters is slightly off-character. Of course, every author takes freedoms with thier characters and these additions to your Cheren adds to the whole rather than being detrimental. He is still excellently written, and the trio makes for a very entertaining read. I will continue to enjoy this story!

    Honourable mention. Much better than I had expected, though I barely remember the entry. It was written late at night and took around half-an-hour. I believe I took a look at Cheren's team, and tried to figure out what combination of Pokémon and strategy would give him trouble and allow him to progress and grow as a character. I give my full blessing to posting the character, though I would like to review and possibly make a few small changes to Lillian and her speech.

    Keep up the fantastic work; it can't possibly be easy to devote time writing and editing this while at a university!
    Quote Originally Posted by Grei View Post
    Alternatively, the Pokemon fandom is on a whole entirely unable to be pleased, and no matter what Game Freak does, a loud minority will always ***** about how they could have done it better. :P


    Fun with SI prefixes:

    What do you call a 2000 g. mockingbird?

    2 kilo Mockingbird

    That pun was like 1 trillion bulls: terra-bull

  24. #299
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Maple Valley, WA
    Posts
    1,183

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    Hey everyone. Not a chapter, but just a small update. This previous week was my last week of classes for the summer, and this coming week is finals week (three finals), and my final networking project is due at the end of the week. Following this week, I'll be completely free for all of August however, and I plan on trying to get through the remainder of Part 1 during this time. However, until the end of the week, I really have no time for anything aside from these final hurdles.

    During August, I'm hoping to get through the remainder of Part 1, which is three chapters. Hopefully you all will enjoy that little burst of content, especially given where in the story we currently are. To tide you over until then, as requested and authorized by all but one of the authors (Gelatino, if you don't want me to post yours, I'll edit it out), here are the three Honorable Mentions entries from the "A Challenger Appears" contest, as mentioned in the previous chapter. Some of the formatting may be lost, but all of the content is preserved exactly as I received it. Obviously that means that I didn't write any of it and I'm not claiming that I did; if the original authors want me to change anything, just let me know. Entries are listed in the order I received them.

        Spoiler:- Gelatino95:


        Spoiler:- ninjanerd:


        Spoiler:- jstinftw!:


    Thanks for reading and remember, content burst in August (hopefully)!

  25. #300
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    302

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    Hello just jumped on the wagon.
    Spent 3 days worth of freetime cacthing up.
    I love 4th wall jokes especially the one where david is don't wreck the fourth wall. I put too much work on it.
    I fell most of the humor is lackluster. I had a few moments where I snickered. I usually laugh easy as well.
    I care not for romance.
    But I find myself not wanting to stop. Something about this draws me to it.
    It is a nice mix of original. I don't find your interpretation of the plot to stand out.
    Although high quality plot.
    Please add me to the pm list and do not stop.

    p.s. This is a quite lengthy review for me.(BE EXTREMELY PROUD. IT ALSO CAME OUT NATRUALLY)
    CONGRATS!
    They say if you press cntrl and W you get to see the programming of a website after making a signature with 3 ws and 8qs
    Fanfics I like that are still in production: Author's Run, Pokémon emerald the better version

    This the aquabats song awesome forces:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dx4sL0w3SHM
    and here is their song shark fighter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3wchrctxFo

    I NEED A BETA READER!
    Check out my fic.
    http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthr...2#post14945242

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