# Thread: Chronicles of Unova (PG-15)

1. To be honest, my thoughts of this chapter went like the following. Though then again, it's probably like all the other chapters. "Huh." "Yeah." "I guess." "Woah, woah..." "Yay!" "You jerk." "Huh?" "What?!" "Wah... ;_;" "Ooh!" "Yes!" "Wait what?" "Oh yeah..." "Gee..." That summarizes my thoughts of the chapter.

...In more common words, the beginning was good, and were you lampshading (mentioning in-story) that the trio doesn't use most of their Pokemon that often? I don't remember the last time Bianca ever used Axew. Ironic David says that and doesn't use Galvantula at all. It's not like he could've done much, plus it made way for the evolution.

You're making that Vanillish seem a lot stronger than it usually is. It made me think back to when I played the game I knocked that ice cream cone to the ground. Either that, or David's Pokemon are really weak, Brycen's are really strong, or both simultaneously integrated showing how you've ChaosBlizzified everything. And yes, you can use any user name as an adjective. Does his Vanillish even know Taunt though? I guess Paula so much in her Victorian ettiquette that she can't take Taunting.

“You kids understand why Brycen did that, don’t you?” he asked. They shook their heads “no” in response.

“Really? Well then allow me to give a technical explanation if I may. Sir Isaac Newton famously postulated three general laws of motion, the third of which explains Brycen’s strategy.” he began. “The law colloquially states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, or more specifically, the summation of forces from A acting on B is equal to the negation of the summation of forces from B acting on A (∑F[ab] = -∑F[ba]). When Brycen’s Cryogonal uses Frost Breath on Munchlax, the force from the gust pushes Munchlax backwards and keeps him out of striking distance, but it also pushes Cryogonal the opposite direction with equal magnitude, furthering the distance between them.” he continued. “This allows Cryogonal to always stay sufficiently far away from Munchlax’s striking range; furthermore, since Cryogonal has Levitate and can’t brace against the ground to deaden some of the force, it gets pushed even farther than a grounded Pokémon would be.” he concluded. Cheren wore a fascinated look on his face, much the opposite of Bianca.
...I'm sorry, I'm not smart enough to grasp the true form of how to picture that in my head. I'm really sure that Brycen is an actor, not a physician and valedictorian. Though maybe he is. It just seemed like a pull out of nowhere. You're tearing this video game apart piece by piece, and replacing it with real-life physics. And it works. And Cedric just happens to know all of that immediately? Someone doesn't give much time for his daughter...

It took me a minute to remember that Team Plasma did blow up that tower. It's just they never signaled it in the game, similar to Diamond and Pearl. They probably will signal it in the third game like Platinum did with the Galactic Bomb. I still don't get why those bumbling bozos are still actually respected in the Plasma community, but whatever floats your hair back.

Overall, the chapter went in one direction, then another, and then many directions at once. It's great to see that two-thirds of your signature matches up to the fic now. Though, I'll have to wonder how David will deal with feeding an enormous fat monster... Speaking of which, does Snorlax have the Thick Fat ability?

2. Awww! Beaten to the punch!

I was going to review, and then I looked at the time and it was "Get off of work" time, and now I'm back and poop. Second. ):

A.) Yes, Vanillish can Taunt.
B.) Snorlax's best ability is Thick Fat.

And I find the portrayal of the Pokemon as very realistic. The battle scenes have gotten so much better. The Pokemon are all moving, not standing still, and Taunt causes the Pokemon to get aggressive. If you pay attention, aggressiveness causes a lot of misses, since you start to basically thrash. You forego preparation for power, and that causes a lot of misfires.

So, it is tough to knock out opponents when you can't hit them.

But shoot, Hilijix makes a good point; feeding the giant vacuum.O__O

Anyways, this was a pretty good chapter. Worth the wait, although I'm not going to call it my favorite. But it's very good set-up for the next chapter, and come on. Battle scene galore. Who doesn't like that?

1.) Very good battle scene. It took me a few read-throughs to understand what exactly Cedric was applauding Brycen for, but when I saw it, it was actually quite clever. I love how these battles are set-up to resemble how they actually would be in real-life. It's so interesting!

2.) What's up with Cheren? He's really. Snooty lately. Well, it makes sense following the Twist Mountain chapter. I can't wait to see him get taken down after his Curse-Baton Pass-Aero strategy doesn't pull off. He's got a little bit of setting up to do before the end of the story.

3.) I really like your Team Plasma set up. Lennon and McCartney are really genuine characters; I like that. You can see they are actually good guys with short tempers, and are just trying to do what they think is right. And then you have N, who is still naive, but your naivety tone is just right. It's not too much or forced or anything. And then Ghetsis, who is almost blunt on his disinterest. I like how it actually shows in a way that is not too "in your face" or out of character. It's just a nice set up.

4.) The blowing up apart and the actual setting in of fear in everyone when they realize what's happening was nicely written. I could really fear everyone's apprehension and fear. Very nice job.

All in all, pretty good chapter. I don't have anything major to say, since the main focus of this chapter was battle and set everyone off to the Dragonspiral Tower. It did just that and it did it well. Good job!

...

I'm sorry, I'm sleepy, hahaha. I did like the chapter (enough to read over about 3 times). There's not a lot to write about since, yeah, it's a somewhat uneventful chapter? It was good though. I liked it. Can't wait to read moooorre!

(StriatonRadio will update soon, I promise. (: )

Happy Holidays!

3. You know, at this point in the game, I feel like we missed a very good opportunity to do something uniquie.

I went back into the first pages and couldn't find it, but at one point, you made a comment about cutting short all non-David gym battles unless someone loses. Granted, by doing that, you bog down the rest of the team, but you missed a chance to go into your own characters and went straight for the canon plot ofwinningand moving on instead. Ot truthfully felt almost like a cop-out, for "let's just keep the story going's sake", and I don't like that.

What do I mean? You spent an antire section on Paula dealing with Taunt. A Move that prevents Pokemon from using non-attack moves.

Cheren's entire strategy involved setting up Work-Up, and you had a golden opportunity to completely unhinge him, send him into simoultaneous "Told'ja so's" and his "What is being strong enough" rants from the games by trapping Umbreon into a Taunt, preventing him from being able to set Aerodactyl up. Vanillish and Cryogonal take Umbreon down, Cryo then has a chance of dealing with Aerodactyl by type advantage, and Glaceon cleans up. Or at the very least, Cheren has to actually win by using his book-smarts, or David's strategy of wingin; it that he so lo ves to tease with, and not, going back to Chapter 1, Epic Aeroblasting everything.

In my notes, I don't see any opportunity for a siumilar flat on his face failure, short of the Elite 4 or possibly Drayden, since you're going weith the Black version of the game, in that Drsyden will know how to deal with an Aerodactyl, but ti doesn't deal with the futility of relying solely on stats and walls. (Or that could be my battle style talking, in that I'm more fond of widdling the opponent while you set up, so that he has to rebuil while you're still uilding) Truthfully, I want to walk in there right now, challenge him to a battle, Snatch his Work Ups and Taunt him with my own Umbreon, and watch him drown in his inability to react to changes in strategy.

Hopefully, I haven't offended or gone against your desires in the story, just throwing that out there. And knowing you, there;ll be a trump card out there somewhere. We do still have to deal with ol' Spook Lizard, I haven;t forgotten about him.
Last edited by Glover; 16th December 2011 at 11:11 PM.

4. Hi guys; here's the upcoming schedule as it stands. I've begun work on the next chapter and I'm hoping to have it up Sunday or Monday. The chapter after that will be out on the 25th. Following Chapter 23, I will be on a short hiatus. This break will be spent re-writing updated versions of the Prologue, and chapters 1-6. The old Prologue will be overwritten with the new one, but Chapters 1-6 will remain unchanged aside from being hidden behind spoiler tags. I will make new posts for the new versions of the chapters, and link them instead of the old version in the OP's chapter list. I hope this process will take approximately two weeks, ending just in time for school to start back up again.

I have just one more announcement and then I'm going to respond to a few comments. For all intents and purposes, this change has already taken effect, but following Chapter 23, I will not be posting chapters every Sunday. It will still be approximately weekly, but Sundays will no longer have any significance to this thread. Next semester I am taking 1.5x the number of classes I was taking this last semester, and the content of the classes is only going to get harder. It was a struggle to get chapters done in just a single week sometimes, and I know it is only going to get harder. Sometimes it will be more than a week, sometimes it will actually be less than a week, but it will always still be approximately one week between chapters. I just don't want to hold myself to the "every Sunday" rule anymore, because it just isn't still realistic. There were several chapters that were written on Friday afternoon, immediately proofed that night in their entirety, proofed once Saturday morning, once again Saturday evening, and then posted (which requires another proof) on Sunday. I'd rather not try and keep that up.

Originally Posted by Hilijix
I don't remember the last time Bianca ever used Axew.
The end of Twist Mountain. She's been almost exclusively using Axew since she caught him.

Originally Posted by Hilijix
Ironic David says that and doesn't use Galvantula at all. It's not like he could've done much, plus it made way for the evolution.
This, plus he used Joltik/Galvantula a lot in the Mistralton Valley.

Originally Posted by Hilijix
Does his Vanillish even know Taunt though?
Brycen's Vanillish knows Acid Armor, Astonish, Mirror Shot and Frost Breath. Vanillish as a species however learn Taunt at Level 22.

Originally Posted by Hilijix
I guess Paula so much in her Victorian ettiquette that she can't take Taunting.
I like watching well-defined characters act uncharacteristic.

Originally Posted by Hilijix
...I'm sorry, I'm not smart enough to grasp the true form of how to picture that in my head. I'm really sure that Brycen is an actor, not a physician and valedictorian. Though maybe he is. It just seemed like a pull out of nowhere.
A "physician" is a doctor; a "physicist" is someone who studies physics. Regardless though, he's assumed to have trained with his Cryogonal long enough to develop strategies with/for it to compensate for its weaknesses. I got the idea for it from here.

"Pokémon often disobey Newton's Third Law: Attacks, such as Hyper Beam, that blast the target backwards do nothing of the sort to the user. This is especially notable with flying or levitating Pokémon; they can't even brace themselves against the ground."

Originally Posted by Hilijix
And Cedric just happens to know all of that immediately? Someone doesn't give much time for his daughter...
Well... he is a Pokemon professor.

Originally Posted by Hilijix
It took me a minute to remember that Team Plasma did blow up that tower. It's just they never signaled it in the game, similar to Diamond and Pearl. They probably will signal it in the third game like Platinum did with the Galactic Bomb.
The player feels the earthquake generated by the detonation of the Galactic Bomb in Diamond and Pearl. I never played Platinum, so I can't speak to how Platinum handled it, but you definitely felt it and were instantly made aware of it in the original Diamond and Pearl.

Originally Posted by Hilijix
I still don't get why those bumbling bozos are still actually respected in the Plasma community, but whatever floats your hair back.
Who?

Originally Posted by Hilijix
It's great to see that two-thirds of your signature matches up to the fic now.
Actually, it is 8/9ths now, up from 7/9ths. The only inaccuracy now is Haxorus, as he is currently an Axew. Everything else is correct though, and the only inaccuracy before this chapter was Munchlax.

Originally Posted by Hilijix
Speaking of which, does Snorlax have the Thick Fat ability?
Yes.

Originally Posted by NACHOE!
2.) What's up with Cheren? He's really. Snooty lately. Well, it makes sense following the Twist Mountain chapter.
Exactly; Twist Mountain.

I don't want to give away spoilers just yet, but I recognize the fact that the group has been doing a lot of winning and not a lot of losing. We're only just now starting to get to the difficult high-leveled portion of the game; while all three characters are destined for greatness (as is evident by the fact that they're important enough to have a story written about in the first place), they are not unbeatable, as their interaction with Alder on Route 5 is evidence of. Again, I don't want to give away spoilers, but consider for a moment the fact that neither David nor Cheren have any moves on their teams that are Super Effective against Dragons, while Bianca has two.

5. I find that we never see Biancas Battles with a new crobat and an axew

A snorlax this was timed really well for an evo

I found the gardervoir taunt very funny

6. *gasp* Well, after days of reading, I've finally caught up and read every chapter!

I'm not fantastic at reviews, so I'll keep what I need to say short and sweet - I LOVE this fan fic, I love how you've portrayed the characters and how you've really fleshed out Bianca and Cheren's personalities. At the moment, Paula is my favourite character. She's so damn adorable; her sense of humour and funny moments (ie. the hiccups and snowballs) make me giggle. Your creativity knows no bounds, I mean, the whole thing with Brycen and Giratina is just...wow.

Anyway, would you be able to add me to the PM list? I can't wait to hear more from you. :]

7. Chronicles of Unova

Chapter 22: Dragonspiral Tower
Part 1 of 2

From the tree line to the south, David, Bianca and Cheren dashed towards the shore of the lake, Cedric and Brycen following close behind. The once placid water was now beginning to grow choppy as white swells rose and fell from the surface; the snowfall that had been blanketing the moors for the last several weeks had momentarily abated, but cold, ominous winds still blew from the electrical storm above. It was only just then early afternoon; many of the townsfolk back in Icirrus City were just starting to return from their various lunch hours. Nevertheless, the skies over the tower were dark like midnight, and the few spots where the sunlight pierced the clouds were a bloody peach color in hue. Slow, biting winds blew the lighter patches of snow from the trees, and there wasn’t a sign of wild Pokémon anywhere to be seen; the entirety of the lake and all of the surrounding area seemed to recognize intuitively the danger N and Team Plasma were about to wrought.

The first thing David noticed when the tower came into sight was the hole left behind from the explosion. At least one question was now answered: what was the source of the tremor they had felt and heard at Brycen’s Gym? Unfortunately, it, in combination with the black, conveyer belt-looking bridge which was adorned with Team Plasma’s crest and led from the shore towards the hole, only confirmed his suspicions about N’s involvement in the disturbance. The others noticed it too and came to the same realization David had without the need for mutual verbal confirmation. The five of them slowed momentarily as they all tried to come to grips with the fact that this was all really happening.

“I guess he really was telling the truth…” Bianca stammered, nearly in a whisper. Her shoulders were slack and her arms hung lifelessly at her sides. Fear gripped every muscle in her body; fear both of the power she had been led to believe Zekrom possessed, but also simply fear of all the unknowns about the dragon she hadn’t yet been told. She looked away from the tower and down towards her feet; the situation seemed hopeless and yet it had hardly even begun.

David was silent. He heard his love’s frightened words, he saw the sky tearing itself apart above him, and he could feel the cold air lightly bristling with electricity all around him, but he was paralyzed and silent despite these things. David felt regret and fear for many things all at once; regret for not having taken N more seriously until now, fear for what might happen if he succeeded, regret that he might have to break his promise to Bianca, and fear for himself that her nightmare may come true. Most importantly however, he felt regret for the actions he was taking at that very moment. He had always been the unofficial leader of their group; N had tested him and identified him as the Hero of Truth. Yet despite all this, in the hour of need when push was coming to shove, he stood before the tower, glass-eyed and slack-jawed, uncertain of how to even proceed. He felt his mind scream to take action, to move into the tower, to stop N somehow, someway, but his body remained defiantly still. He couldn’t even bring himself to say a single word of comfort to Bianca, frightened as she was. It was a sickening feeling.

From behind him, he heard Cheren sigh. “Yep, I suppose he was.” he muttered in response to Bianca’s statement. “Now the question changes though: are we going to keep letting him do whatever the Hell he wants, or are we going to go up there and stop him?” he asked. Cheren’s sudden outburst of determination startled David from his stupor; he turned over his shoulder and stared at his friend in vacant surprise. Cheren stared back expectantly.

Well?!” Cheren continued. “You’re the Hero of Truth, David. N chose you, not us. Are we going in there or what?” he asked. David blinked a couple of times, swallowed, and nodded his head. Confidence slowly began to swell through him from Cheren’s reassurance. He sighed to calm himself and then curled his fingers into fists.

“Yeah… yeah, we are…” he whispered reassuringly. “Thanks, Cheren; I needed that.” he said to his friend. Cheren’s stern frown lifted into a grin for a moment; he closed his eyes and nodded back.

“Don’t mention it. We might like to flip each other shit sometimes, but when push comes to shove, we’ll all have each others’ backs. I’m not that callow.” he murmured in response. “Now come on; they left that bridge out, so N obviously wants you to be there for Zekrom’s reawakening.” he continued. The three trainers locked gazes and confirmed their mutual intent; the group continued running towards Team Plasma’s bridge to enter Dragonspiral Tower.

Inside the first floor, lighting was scarce and the layout was simple. A large reflecting pool filled the northwestern corner of the room, and a path wound around from the southern entrance Team Plasma had created to a stairwell in the northeast, presumably leading to a higher floor. There was virtually nothing else adorning the circular room; it appeared to be nothing more than an ancient receiving area for the higher floors. Nevertheless, Cedric seemed amazed.

“By Arceus, this is amazing…” he murmured. “Do you kids realize we are the first humans to set foot in here in literally thousands of years? This tower is almost as old as Unova itself!” he continued. Brycen silently took note of Cedric’s statement and inspected the architecture around him, but David, Bianca and Cheren immediately started heading off for the staircase.

“That’s great, Cedric, but we need to hurry, remember?” David called over his shoulder.

“Besides, technically we’re the second humans, since Team Plasma came in here before us.” Cheren retorted. Cedric’s eyes opened wide for an instant as he processed David’s statement.

“Oh! Right! Terribly sorry; got carried away I suppose. Dragonspiral Tower is the reason I came to Icirrus in the first place after all.” he answered quickly. Cedric took off after the boys, Bianca and Brycen bringing up the rear. They ran to the staircase and bounded up, leaving the empty first floor behind.

I’m coming for you, N.” David thought to himself. He grit his teeth and continued running.

* * *

The ten Team Plasma members were making good time; they had already crested the staircase onto the fourth floor out of seven. Their head start over David and his friends was considerable, though traps and puzzles on the lower floors had slowed their large party down a bit. N and Ghetsis led the group through Dragonspiral Tower’s narrow, winding hallways, with the newly promoted Lennon and McCartney leading the other six agents of the task force to bring up the rear. The second and third floors had been tight and difficult, but the fourth floor had a somewhat spacious plateau at its center that was perfect for an ambush spot. N held no reservations in his mind that David wouldn’t come to try and stop him, but he was confident in his divine, predestined abilities to summon Zekrom unopposed as the Hero of Ideals; he wanted David there to see, because he wanted an informed adversary to oppose him. His father was not quite so certain of N’s abilities however; Ghetsis knew he had to maintain appearances and not directly go against his son’s wishes in front of him, lest he defy the king, but Ghetsis knew he had to at least slow David’s pursuit somehow, even if he didn’t let on what he was doing to N. He wasn’t about to let this ambush spot go to waste…

“N, my son, there is a reason why you are the king of Team Plasma and I, your father, am merely but one of its sages.” Ghetsis said, stopping and putting his hands on his knees. “I am but an old man, and I grow weary from this climbing. I must rest a moment, but I do not wish to impede our journey. Perhaps I should-” he continued, but N smiled and cut him off before he could finish.

“Think nothing of it, father! We can stop and rest as long as you need.” he said cheerfully, putting a loving hand on his father’s back. Pleasant as it was, this was the opposite reaction Ghetsis had hoped for; he kept it hidden, but he cursed under his breath.

“Oh, no no, N, my boy, I can’t let you do that for me.” he started to say quickly. “I mustn’t anchor your glorious ascent. You go on ahead, and I will stay behind with the task force.” he explained. “We will catch up before you know it.” he continued. N frowned.

“But father, are you certain you will be alright?” he asked. There was distinct worry in his tone.

“Positively.” Ghetsis replied with an insincere smile. “I feel stronger already. You go on to the next floor, and we will catch up. Go, my boy; your destiny awaits!” N nodded and headed for the exit; Lennon and McCartney watched curiously as their leader left without them.

Ghetsis continued bracing against his knees, watching N walk out of sight. As he rounded the corner, Ghetsis waited a short, few-second grace period and then rose quickly, straightening his cloak as he moved. His expression turned stern and he motioned for the agents to gather around him quickly. They obeyed his order, but they were surprised by his sudden spurt of strength. Had it all been an act?

“Alright, you gits, listen up. I need four volunteers.” he said angrily in a hushed voice. “I’ve got a mission for you lot to do and I don’t want any lip about orders having to come from N, understand? My son is naďve and still very childlike; he wants the Hero of Truth here to witness Zekrom’s glorious reawakening. You are going to make sure that doesn’t happen.” he explained; the agents’ eyes opened wide.

“But sir, wouldn’t obeying you directly defy Lord N if that is the case?” the agent with the Liepard asked cautiously. Ghetsis shot him a look that could have pierced steel.

“What did I just say about not flipping me any lip?” he growled. “Do it, Goddamn it; the Hero of Truth and his friends are not to make it past this floor, do I make myself clear?” he continued. The group nodded nervously but accepted the command; four of them stayed behind while the other four, Lennon and McCartney among them, stayed with Ghetsis. Ghetsis glared and nodded back. He surveyed the room quickly before bounding up the stairs after N; the guards found defensive positions among the stone columns of the ancient plateau and began to wait. The trap was set, and David was walking straight towards it…

* * *

David, Bianca, Cheren, Brycen and Cedric had reached the third floor and were nearing completion of its puzzle to reach the next floor. They were completely unaware of the danger that lay one layer up, thinking only of the danger that would be awakened at the top. Cedric was speaking in a conversational tone.

“And so he wants to reawaken Zekrom in order to do that?!” he asked, summarizing the story David had just finished telling him about N. “How on earth would reawakening Zekrom make people want to release their Pokémon? Why does he even think he can control Zekrom?” he continued. David was helping Bianca jump over a ledge across the room; he called out in response.

“I don’t know, man, he’s crazy; that’s the point.” he shouted. “It’ll probably come in the form of some sort of ultimatum; do this or I’ll destroy the region.” he continued. Cedric seemed deeply disturbed by this news.

“This is much worse than I first though…” he mused. “The Dragons are not forces to be trifled with; I highly doubt he will actually be able to quell its savage heart, especially if Reshiram is somehow also reawakened.” The five of them had regrouped now after clearing the room and proceeded up the next stairwell to the fourth floor; Cheren continued the conversation.

“The fact that nature is responding so violently to N’s presence here should tell you he at least knows somewhat what he’s doing.” Cheren commented as they rounded the corner into the next floor. Before anyone else could say more though, a sneering, seductive female voice interrupted them.

“Oh, don’t worry.” she cooed. “Lord N knows exactly… what he’s doing…”

As the group entered the small arena-like plateau of the fourth floor, the woman who had spoken and her three Plasma comrades stepped out of the shadows and surrounded the adventurers menacingly. They wore chilling sneers and were drawing closer slowly and ominously. Though they were being surrounded, it was five against four, even though Cedric couldn’t battle. They had been expecting to meet some sort of opposition; the Pokémon trainers among them quickly reached for Pokéballs to defend themselves with.

“Should have known N would leave behind a few of his lackeys to try and slow us down.” David snarled, reaching for Galvantula’s Pokéball. “Where are those two losers we keep running into with the Boldore and Trubbish?” he asked. A man behind him stepped forward and glared at him angrily.

Captains Lennon and McCartney have gone ahead with Lord N and Lord Ghetsis.” he replied with equal venom. “Not that you’ll ever see them again; you lot won’t make it through us.” David laughed at his brazen remark.

“Is that a threat?” he asked condescendingly. “I guess you don’t remember how Chargestone Cave ended.”

“You can tell me in five minutes when we beat your asses back down to the first floor.” the agent replied. There was a moment of tense silence, and then eight Pokéballs flew into the air in unison.

“Go, Duosion!” the man who had been arguing with David shouted. The amorphous Mitosis Pokémon drifted from the ball and stared at David expectantly, but it had been an easy victory for Munchlax last time. David released Galvantula to grapple with the foe; seeing the menacing spider sent a chill through the Psychic-type Pokémon’s body.

The guard opposite Bianca also threw a Pokéball, catching her by surprise. It was a ruthless-looking Scrafty, the evolved form of the Scraggy David had fought in Chargestone Cave. Bianca moved away timidly at first, forgetting what to do, but quickly calmed herself and drew Pachirisu’s Pokéball as her senses came back to her. A sinister grin spread over both trainer and Pokémon’s faces at the sight of the cutesy squirrel, but Pachirisu simply grinned back at their overconfidence and bristled with electricity as she waited for a command from her trainer.

The woman operative who had spoken when they had first entered was nearest to Cheren; she released her Maractus, which Cheren responded to in turn with Gus. The two desert-native Pokémon shot each other empty, soulless gazes from behind their sunken, unchanging eyes. Though neither were Dark-types, there was a sinister air to the battle that was about to come.

The final quadrant of the fight would be between Brycen and the man who had spoken out at Ghetsis a short time prior. The Plasma agent slowly released his Liepard, cautious to see how Brycen would counter; Brycen in turn responded with his Vanillish, every bit as much of a devious trickster as the Cruel Pokémon opposite him. Cedric was without Pokémon or any battling experience; it would be an even four-on-four. With all eight Pokémon prepared to fight, the first commands began to fly.

“Galvantula, Signal Beam!” David commanded. Galvantula’s feelers that hung near his fangs began to glow as he charged the iridescent attack. Sensing the impending blast, the Plasma agent called for his Duosion to use Light Screen to try and block it. The wall of light and the beam of light came into existence just milliseconds between one another; Galvantula’s Signal Beam hit low and was blocked by the Light Screen as the upper portions were still materializing. While Duosion was protected from the potentially devastating attack for the time being, all of its focus was being directed to keeping the Light Screen strong; managing to strike back would be difficult.

The sneering agent battling Bianca called for his Scrafty to launch into a Hi Jump Kick attack. The Hoodlum Pokémon sprang up high and brought the blade of his right foot out to strike, but Pachirisu was too nimble for him. Bianca timed her opening strike perfectly and called for a Quick Attack to knock it off kilter; Pachirisu vanished in a blur and struck the overly confident Pokémon right in its sternum. The attack itself did minimal damage, but it imbalanced the Scrafty’s fall and sent it smashing to the ground on its back. It took massive recoil damage from the crash landing and struggled to rise, grasping at its back in pain. Pachirisu landed and was ready to strike back in earnest; she began building the electricity for a bolt of Charge Beam.

“Maractus, use Sucker Punch!” the female agent ordered. The Maractus sized up its opponent and looked for an opening, but there wasn’t one yet. For Sucker Punch to work, Gus would have to be striking back; quite the opposite however, Gus simply floated before them, glaring from behind his menacing, blood-red eyes. Cheren stood with his arms folded, a sneer on his lips. He whispered something softly and Gus’ grin began to spread. Dark, billowing smoke poured from within his casket and began to surround him: Nasty Plot; the Plasma agent gasped as she realized his plan.

“Taunt, Liepard.” the final Plasma agent commanded calmly. In the same instant however, Brycen called for the same attack from his Vanillish. As if they were looking in a mirror, the two Pokémon moved in lock-step and stuck their tongues out at one another. Their antics grew from there, both growing angrier with the other as the seconds passed, but they both quickly succumbed to the effect of the mutual Taunts. Though Vanillish understood the attack and knew how to cope, both Pokémon were now forced into only using attacking moves. This was good for Vanillish however; he was the superior attacking force, and Liepard would be hard pressed to battle effectively with his ability to use status changing moves taken from him. Brycen closed his eyes and smiled smugly.

Time was running out for the Duosion. His Light Screen was beginning to falter under Galvantula’s continuing onslaught; one good hit from that Signal Beam and he would be done for. A Bug-type attack against a Psychic-type like him would do crushing damage; he needed some sort of a plan. As the Light Screen faded, his partner agent called for a last ditch attempt at Future Sight. Duosion focused and foresaw the attack, but he was surprised by what he saw. Immediately, he was pummeled by Galvantula’s powerful Signal Beam and fell to the ground in pain; it was short lived however, as he promptly gave up the ghost to fight. David had won his portion of the battle.

Pachirisu’s Charge Beam flew like an arrow towards the downed Scrafty. It was a thin, straight bolt, crackling with ensnared electricity. Scrafty saw it coming but couldn’t get out of the way in time; he was still struggling with the crushing pain from missing his Hi Jump Kick. The attack struck and damage him, but not to the point of defeat; the Pokémon was tough and wasn’t about to let himself get defeated by a little girl. However, the surplus electricity from the attack invigorated Pachirisu and boosted her Special Attacking capability. The Scrafty angrily struggled to his feet and moved in for another strike, but Pachirisu gave him no such chance. She fired off two more quick, successive Charge Beams, each more powerful than the first, and brought the Hoodlum Pokémon to his knees. Enraged but outmatched, the Scrafty fell on his face and moved no more; Bianca too had won.

Realizing Cheren’s decision to opt for boosting his Special Attacking capability rather than immediately attack, the agent with the Maractus called out in terror. “Maractus, it’s no good; switch tactics, quick! Needle Arm!” she cried, but it was too late. The assumption that Cheren would lead by attacking proved to be fatal; Gus was now too powerful to withstand thanks to the Nasty Plot boost. The Maractus leapt to attack with Needle Arm, but Gus was already generating a supercharged Shadow Ball at Cheren’s command. He launched the amorphous bundle of shadows at the opposing Pokémon as it leapt to strike with its own attack, catching it squarely in midair. The shadows overcame the small Cactus Pokémon and sent it flailing to the ground in defeat; three down, one to go.

Enraged and without an alternate attacking option, the Liepard leapt at Vanillish, claws bared to strike with Fury Swipes. It hissed and screeched as it flew through its arc, but Vanillish was better trained and faster. It floated out of the way late enough into the attack that the Liepard couldn’t change trajectory, and blasted a freezing wind of Frost Breath at it from behind. The attack struck home and dealt crushing damage to the falling Liepard. Between its poor defenses and the well aimed strike, the Liepard fell and didn’t try to rise. Brycen sighed and folded his arms; he made a comment under his breath about a “lack of discipline” before returning his Vanillish to its Pokéball.

With all four of the agents defeated, their path to the next floor was clear. Inspecting that his friends had been victorious too, David shot the guard with the Duosion who had snapped at him a condescending nod and smirk before running for the stairs to catch up with N. The others followed behind him shortly, not wasting further time with the guards as they recalled their defeated Pokémon. Cheren was the last to leave the floor, bringing up the rear behind Cedric and Brycen, but there was something on his mind that he had wanted resolved for a long time. He slowed and looked down in thought, pondering whether or not he should ask it; deciding to take a quick moment to get it resolved, he doubled back towards the plateau and approached the agent he had just defeated.

“Hey you; Plasma.” he said sternly to the woman as she cradled her defeated Maractus in her arms. She looked up at him with a mixture of sadness and fear for her Maractus and contempt and rage towards him. “What’s your name?” Cheren asked; the woman snarled at him defiantly.

“The Hell is it to you, brat?” she snapped. “Haven’t you spread enough destruction for one day?” Cheren’s eyes shut partially into a glare and he took a step towards her angrily; he wasn’t about to stand for any attitude.

“You know what? We just kicked your sorry asses and you’re in no position to defend yourself right now, so how about you not act like a bitch and cooperate, eh?” he asked commandingly. “What is your name? I have a question for you.” he continued slowly; the woman turned her gaze away from him and back down to the defeated Pokémon in her arms.

Bite me…” she murmured venomously; Cheren sighed.

“Fine; screw your drama, I don’t care. Since you won’t answer me, your name is ‘Bob’ now.” Cheren spat. “Tell me, Bob, there’s something about you people I’ve never been able to understand. You say you want to liberate the world’s Pokémon and that trainers are evil, right? You think Pokémon battles are like cockfighting and that they just bring undue harm to the combatants? Then why, pray tell, do you guys use Pokémon yourselves? You have Pokémon, kept in Pokéballs, and you battle us just like any other trainers. How do you reconcile such hypocrisy?” he asked. Before he could defend himself, the woman leapt from her knees and slapped Cheren’s face in one fluid motion. There was uncontrollable rage in her eyes; she held her Maractus against her chest with her free hand and breathed heavily.

You shut the FUCK up, you monster!” she screamed. “We are not hypocrites! We are NOT like you! Pokémon trainers enslave their Pokémon against their will and force them into battles; our Pokémon fight with us, not for us, and they do so because they believe in our cause just as much as we do!” she explained. “Pokémon have control over the very elements of nature; they are divine, supernatural beings and are superior to humans in every conceivable way. The Pokémon members of Team Plasma grace us with their skills when force is required for an op’, but they do it because they want to, not because we make them.” she continued. The Maractus began to stir as she finished her speech; it awoke from its injuries but was obviously still pained by them. The agent broke down and began to sob uncontrollably at the sight of her Pokémon in such a state; she was worked up and emotional from lashing out so violently at Cheren and could no longer contain herself. She slumped back down to the ground while embracing her Pokémon, too wracked with guilt even for words. Cheren felt a tug at his heart; he blindly watched the events, his cheek still stinging from her strike.

“Maractus…” she sobbed. “I’m so so-o-o-orry…” The Pokémon moaned again in pain and held its trainer back; Cheren felt a sickening feeling in the pit of his stomach.

“I’m, um… I’m sorry, ma’am…” he murmured. The woman continued to sob.

GET OUT!!!” she shrieked. She squeezed her wounded Pokémon tighter and rolled away in a defeated mess. Cheren looked around and saw the other agents glaring at him spitefully, each of them trying to tend to their own Pokémon as well. Cheren sighed and headed for the stairs mournfully. He had never empathized with Team Plasma before, but he was starting to wonder if maybe they weren’t so mindless after all…

* * *

N walked alone through the fifth floor of the tower. A cheerful grin was spread across his face, and there was a childlike spring to his step. In his arms, he cradled the Dark Stone against his body, coddling it as if it were a child. N had befriended scores of Pokémon in his life; he understood interactions with them orders of magnitude more than interactions with his own species. Yet the prospect of finally meeting Zekrom, the Pokémon he had been told stories about all his life, and finally having a Legendary best friend was a wondrous new possibility. He began to speak to himself quietly.

“It won’t be long now, Zekrom. We’ll be at the top very soon, and then you and I will finally get to meet face to face.” he murmured to the stone. “I wonder what you will be like…” he pondered. “Will you be playful like Zorua is? Nurturing like Darmanitan was? Adventurous like Woobat? What kinds of games will we play? I hope you and I can be friends; best friends…” he continued. N’s mind drifted off into a daydream, imagining all the new adventures he and Zekrom might undertake. “I can’t wait to introduce you to Anthea and Concordia…” he appended. N’s uncontrollable smile turned into a grin.

As he rounded the stairs to the sixth floor, he heard a shout from behind him. “N! Wait up!” Ghetsis shouted. N turned over his shoulder in surprise as his peaceful, tranquil solidarity was interrupted. He smiled though upon recognizing his father’s voice.

“Father! You look so much better!” he said cheerily. “That rest really did you good.” As he said this though, N realized that half of the task force he had left with his father appeared to be missing; his smile faded a bit upon realizing this.

“What?” Ghetsis stammered, catching his breath as he ran up. “Oh, right, yes, it did. Thank you, my son; I feel much better.” he appended as he remembered his lie. N cocked his eyebrow and began to question his father politely.

“Where are the other agents, father? There are only four with you.” N asked levelly. He did not assume the worst, but he couldn’t think of any other reason besides the obvious.

“They, um… oh, they should be along… erm… shortly.” Ghetsis answered, realizing he had forgotten to account for that glitch in his plan; N’s smile flipped distinctly into a frown.

“Oh father, you didn’t…” he cooed disappointedly; Ghetsis drew back nervously, still trying to keep up the ruse.

“Didn’t what, N?” he asked. “What do you mean?”

“Don’t lie to me, father, you know how I hate that.” N said, turning away in shame. “You left them behind to try and stop David, didn’t you? You don’t want him here to see.” Ghetsis sighed and put his arm on N’s shoulder.

“I am sorry I lied, my son.” he lied. “We have trained and taught you all your life to be a great Hero who could fulfill the prophecy, but you can still be… erm… naďve, at times.” he continued. N shook free of his father’s grasp and continued walking, not signaling one way or the other if he wanted the five of them to follow.

“I appreciate your counsel, father, but I am the King of Team Plasma, and my word supersedes your own. David will not, and yet cannot, stop me, and it is my will that he be here to witness Zekrom’s resurrection. You are not to interfere with his ascent, do you understand?” N commanded. Ghetsis’ face contorted angrily for a moment, but N didn’t see it.

“But N!” he started to protest, but N cut him short.

Father…” he said tersely. “…please.” he appended. Ghetsis seethed with anger, unbeknownst to N, but bowed his head and submitted.

“As you wish, milord…” he grumbled with subtle venom. N turned towards his father and smiled. He nodded his head and continued up the stairs and out of sight. When he had gone, Ghetsis spat angrily at the floor and turned to the remaining members of the task force.

“Those buffoons have failed.” he whispered. “They should have caught up by now if they had stopped the Hero of Truth. Worthless vagrants…” he continued. He turned towards Lennon and put a hand to his collar.

“Listen carefully, boy; you four stop them at any cost. They are not to interfere with Zekrom’s rise; if they do, our whole organization dies today and all our work is lost, got it?” he commanded. “When we get to the next floor, you four stay behind and N and I will continue to the seventh floor to summon Zekrom. Keep the noise down; we can’t let N catch on.” he continued. Lennon was apprehensive; his allegiance was to N, not Ghetsis or Team Plasma after everything he and McCartney had been through earlier in the year with them. Ghetsis picked up on his hesitation and grabbed him roughly by the collar with both hands.

Do as you are told, damn you!” he growled in rage. Lennon swallowed nervously and nodded his head. Ghetsis released him and huffed, straightening his own cloak as he backed away.

Father, are you coming?” N shouted from above them. Ghetsis turned towards the stairs and shouted back.

“Yes, N; be right there!” he cried. He motioned for the agents to follow him and then began heading after N. Lennon and McCartney shot each other a worried look, but went to work executing Ghetsis’ command; David wouldn’t be making it past them without a fight…

* * *

[Continued Below]

8. Chronicles of Unova

Chapter 22: Dragonspiral Tower
Part 2 of 2

Time was running out. Their battle with the Plasma agents had slowed David and his friends down too much, and they could hear the violent thunderstorm outside growing stronger, even through the thick, stone walls encasing them. While they were drawing near to the top themselves, they feared N had already beaten them to the punch; it was a race after all, not a marathon.

The group crested the entrance to the sixth floor and began sprinting around the upside-down U-shaped path the room followed. A plateau like the one on the fourth floor fleshed out the bend in the U, but it was obscured from sight by the tower’s central column from where David and his friends were; it was there that Lennon and McCartney waited with the other two remaining agents, lurking deep in the shadows for a chance to strike. Their bodies were tense and their minds razor focused as the sounds of the trainers’ footsteps drew louder; Lennon took a peek around the corner and then made a motion to the others.

“Three.” he mouthed. “Two… one… go.

On their Captain’s command, the agents moved from cover and filled the small arena, blocking the adventurers’ path. David slowed in surprise upon seeing them, his pulse quickening and his breathing growing shallow.

“You!” he shouted with both anger and shock as he recognized Lennon. The Plasma Captain sneered and folded his arms at David’s surprise.

‘ello, poppit…” Lennon said slowly. “Did’ja miss me?” he asked. David reached for a Pokéball out of instinct, his rage already beginning to boil, but Lennon matched his action in lock-step, drawing his Boldore’s Pokéball as well.

“You didn’t think we’d just let you walk up and try to stop Lord N, did you?” he asked insincerely. David scoffed before he could say more though.

“Well, let’s see…” he started. “Somebody sent the Shadow Triad to tell us to come here, and then you left that bridge out for us. Yeah, I kind of did think you wanted us here.” he mused. “Guess the honeymoon’s over…” he continued mockingly.

“Lord N is a bit more… charitable, than Lord Ghetsis.” Lennon answered. “Sorry to turn you away, but this is as far as you go. We doing this the easy way or the hard way?” he asked menacingly. David laughed at Lennon’s bravado.

“We already beat your buddies downstairs. What makes you think this’ll go any different?” he sneered back; the remaining agents primed their Pokéballs and struck unified defensive positions.

Providence.” Lennon whispered; they moved as a group and released their Pokémon to battle.

“Go, Boldore!” Lennon shouted angrily. The Ore Pokémon fell from the ball in midair and smashed against the sturdy floor of the tower. His dark-blue surface had a shine to it, and he seemed peculiarly more powerful than last they had fought. David released Paula to try and topple the wall of defensive might, but she was still injured from her earlier battle against Brycen. She had had several hours in her Pokéball to recuperate, but she still showed at least some signs of fatigue. She was David’s best shot at beating him, but he was still worried.

“Are you okay to battle, Paula?” he asked telepathically; Paula turned briefly and shot him a smile.

“The question is not whether I am alright, master. I think you are overestimating the strength of our opponent.” she mused sweetly. “When has Team Plasma ever proven to be a challenge? I could beat this oaf with both sides of my brain tied behind my back.” she continued. David laughed at her zeal.

“One more time, Gus!” Cheren cried as he released his Cofagrigus. He joined David in the arena and stood to oppose McCartney. The co-captain released his own Pokéball, revealing the massive new form of a Garbodor; his Trubbish had evidently evolved since they had last seen it. Cheren remembered their first battle against the pair and how that very same Pokémon had almost bested his Eevee; it was time for a little payback…

The other two agents moved from behind their captains to battle Bianca and Brycen. The one nearest the former released his imposing, sinister-looking Gurdurr with a wicked laugh, and the one battling the latter set his Unfezant, having evolved since Chargestone Cave, into the open air of the spacious room. Bianca called on her powerhouse Axew to defend her, and Brycen, having a type advantage, released Cryogonal. With Cedric looking on from behind them in both terror and amazement, the eight combatants sized each other up and issued their opening commands.

“Paula, use Focus Blast!” David shouted. The Fighting-type attack would have a type advantage against Lennon’s Rock-type Pokémon, but knowing this, Lennon was prepared.

“Iron Defense…” he murmured through a confident smile. His Boldore’s body stiffened and became still; a metallic sheen slowly washed over its surface just as the Focus Blast hit. The slow creep of armor faded and Boldore reanimated, but he appeared to have taken no damage, despite the powerful blow hitting its mark squarely. Now he was ready to go on the offensive.

“…and now Rock Blast.” Lennon continued. The Ore Pokémon took in a deep breath in preparation, and then shot a hailstorm of tiny, sharp projectiles from the crevasse on its face. Paula gasped at the incoming flurry and Teleported away, but she reappeared an instant later and the Boldore adjusted its aim. Paula could only hide for so long…

“Same way as before, Gus; Nasty Plot.” Cheren explained calmly. Black, hazy smoke began to pour from the seam in the Coffin Pokémon’s body, stimulating his mind and raising his Special Attacking capabilities, but McCartney’s Garbodor grinned fearsomely at the pollution Gus was emanating.

“Clear Smog, Garbodor!” McCartney commanded. The Garbodor bellowed a booming, monstrous cry in approval of the order and began spewing his own cloud of smoke. Unlike Gus’ however, this smog was a clear, hazy white, and it moved towards the floating sarcophagus at a rapid pace. The smokes mixed and became one, but the Garbodor’s eventually overpowered Gus’ own. The Clear Smog attack had a three-fold effect; it not only undid the stat boost Gus’ Nasty Plot had given him, but it slowly began blinding and suffocating the ancient Pokémon, preventing him from attacking and doing steady, gradual damage. In one fell swoop, McCartney had halted Cheren’s strategy and put him on the defensive; now he was ready to attack in earnest. He ordered his Garbodor to use a Sludge Bomb attack; Gus was helpless to defend himself, still blinded by the smoke.

“Same strategy as usual, Cryogonal. Frost Breath when you see your chance…” Brycen murmured disinterestedly. Before the Crystallizing Pokémon could even respond however, the Plasma agent was already going on the attack.

“Quick Attack, Unfezant!” the man cried confidently. The proud bird spread its massive wingspan took off into the air, moving at a blinding speed. The Ice-type Frost Breath attack would deal crushing damage to the Flying-type Unfezant if it hit, and the strategy of pushing it back would surely work against the light bird, given that Cryogonal was over five times heavier than it, but that all assumed Cryogonal could actually hit the Unfezant before it managed to strike first; Quick Attack solved that problem for the Plasma agent. Before Cryogonal could prepare the counterattack, the Unfezant had already launched itself towards it, struck powerfully, and flown away to prepare for a second pass; Cryogonal screeched in pain, his low physical defenses not allowing him to withstand the attack very well, and reeled back in shock. Before he could shake it off however, the Unfezant came back in for a second strike. It was unrelenting, and Brycen’s impervious strategy had suddenly encountered a scenario it couldn’t beat. Brycen gasped as he realized that he was losing.

“Alright! Great job, Unfezant! Keep it up!” The Plasma agent shouted. The Unfezant cooed and turned for a third attack.

“No! Cryogonal! Offensive, offensive!” Brycen stammered. “Ice Beam! End this now!” he cried. Cryogonal acted on instinct and prepared the beam, but it was possibly already too late…

The final fourth of the battle was also underway. Bianca called for Axew to use Dragon Dance, but her opponents simply watched and waited, shooting her menacing, smug glares. The tiny Dragon-type had been Bianca’s primary Pokémon since she had captured it; he was the powerhouse of Bianca’s team, so if anyone could win this for her, it would be Axew. He snorted and stomped his short legs to the slowly increasing rhythm of the ancient pattern. Red and black energy swirled around him as he powered up, and he began working himself into a frenzy. As the dance explosively burst to a conclusion, Bianca called for him to use a Dual Chop attack. Axew leapt at his opponent, full of vigor and strength after his chant, but the Gurdurr slowly moved into position. As Axew drew near, he grabbed the base of his girder and swung it with all his might at the diminutive dragon; the steel beam struck cleanly and sent Axew sailing across the room like a bullet. The sound of the rod smashing against Axew’s skull rang like a frying pan falling on a hard floor; Bianca winced and screamed as she saw Axew take the blow: Low Sweep.

“Oh my God, Axew! No!” she shrieked. Axew slammed into the stone wall of the tower and slid to the ground in near defeat. He rose woozily and held his head, nearly tumbling over out of dizziness, but was determined to not give up the fight; none of their fights were going well at this point though…

Back across the field, Paula was still Teleporting wildly to try and avoid the Boldore’s continuing onslaught of Rock Blasts. Every time she Teleported, the Boldore slowly adjusted its aim to shoot towards her new position, forcing her to make another quick jump to safety. Paula was staying safe from the incoming fire, but she didn’t have a chance to strike back; this was about to change in Lennon’s favor however.

Paula reappeared from one of her Teleports and readjusted herself to her new spatial coordinates. The Boldore slowly turned and prepared to fire, forcing the Gardevoir to make another quick jump, but just before she could make it, an unseen force materialized and struck her to the ground. David gasped in surprise at the mysterious attack; its origin quickly became apparent to him however.

“Oh you bastard; really?!” he exclaimed; somewhere below him, the Duosion smiled.

Lennon’s Boldore didn’t question his stroke of luck. Taking aim, he fired off a volley of rock shards towards the downed Gardevoir, striking her and taking what precious stamina remained. She had started the battle still partially wounded from her earlier Gym Battle, and the Future Sight and Rock Blast had done significant damage on their own. Paula was down and in no position to attack back; she wasn’t out yet, but the battle was looking increasingly grim.

Gus was still blinded by the Clear Smog attack and was unable to breathe. He was defenseless as the Garbodor launched its Sludge Bomb, unable to see the attack to dodge. The bundle of dirty grime struck Gus squarely and sent him falling from the air harshly. He fell over on his back and smashed against the stone floor resoundingly. The Garbodor bellowed proudly at his command on the battle; McCartney’s powerful Pokémon had yet to even take damage, and Gus was almost defeated. Gus struggled to rise and defend himself, but Garbodor was moving in for a finishing blow.

Cryogonal was having equal amounts of luck hitting the speeding Unfezant with an Ice Beam. The bird was just too fast, and Cryogonal was trying to hit it with a very thin, pinpoint attack. What was more, the Unfezant was continuing to strike at his weak physical defenses with Quick Attacks, which were not only slowly chipping away at his stamina, but were also destroying his focus and throwing his aiming off kilter. Despite all the bulk that Cryogonal had, the Gym Leader’s strategy was beginning to fail in the face of such impressive speed; the Plasma agent wore a mile-wide smile out of pride for his magnificent bird.

While her friends were all admittedly losing, perhaps the direst battle of all was Bianca’s. Axew had taken an utterly crushing blow to the head from the Gurdurr’s Low Sweep attack, and had yet to deal any return damage of his own. Axew rose and used another Dragon Dance at his trainer’s command to try and get his mind clear, but while he was plenty worked up by now, having boosted twice with the ancient chant, the Gurdurr stood before him, sneering maliciously in anticipation of the coming painful defeat he was about to dish out. Axew flung himself at the Muscular Pokémon again to use Dual Chop, but it was in vain.

Axew managed to land the first strike of the Dual Chop, dealing very impressive damage thanks to the two boosts from Dragon Dance he had received, but as he turned his neck to strike with his other tusk, the Gurdurr reached out with his massive, meaty hand and grabbed Axew by the neck. Holding his girder over his shoulder with one hand and the small dragon with the other, the Gurdurr’s stern glare slowly curled into a menacing smile; he laughed before dealing his finishing blow.

“Axew, no!” Bianca screamed. The Gurdurr raised Axew as high as he could and then threw him to the ground fiercely, using a crushing Counter attack. Axew yelped as he struck the stone, and a plume of dust and dirt blew up into the air around him. Axew struggled to lift his head, unwilling to accept defeat, but the two blows had been too much; he was down for the count.

Things were looking grim for the prospects of stopping N. Paula lay defenseless at the mercy of the imposing Boldore, McCartney’s Garbodor was moving in to deal a finishing strike to Cheren’s blinded and battered Cofagrigus, Brycen’s Frost Breath-based defensive strategy had failed in the face of Unfezant’s blinding speed, and Axew lay nearly defeated at the feet of the spiteful Gurdurr. Not a single one of them were in a position to win, and their situations all seemed hopeless; N was about to summon Zekrom unopposed, and he didn’t even realize that the battles were going on just beneath his feet.

Axew struggled to rise. He could only barely lift his neck up off the floor as he tried to fight through the pain of the twin attacks. Beside him, seeing blindly and hearing deafly in his battery-induced stupor, he saw his friends in much a similar predicament; he saw Lennon’s Boldore strike Paula with the Rock Blast just after taking Future Sight, he saw McCartney’s Garbodor hurl his Sludge Bomb into Gus, and he saw Brycen’s Cryogonal hopelessly spraying a blast of Ice Beam into the air, fruitlessly lashing out at the racing Unfezant. The Tusk Pokémon felt his heart sink as he too had to admit defeat.

Axew!” he heard in a haze from behind him. His ears were ringing and he could barely make out the sound. “Axew… do it… don’t give…” the voice continued; it was the reassuring sound of his trainer, trying to encourage him even as he lay in defeat.

“Ahh… ax?” he stammered weakly, crawling onto his side to look at her. Though his vision was blurry, he could still make her silhouette out as clear as day; there was fear in her eyes and she wore a worried frown. The look was almost too much to bear.

“You can do it! Come on! Don’t give up!” she repeated. Axew heard the words and internalized them, but his muscles wouldn’t cooperate. He tried to rise, but his limbs shook when he put pressure on them.

“Ax… ew… ax… ew…” he panted. He wouldn’t give up; he couldn’t give up. He had to keep fighting for his trainer.

“Ax… ew… aaax… eeew…

The Gurdurr folded his arms and looked down at the battered Pokémon before him with contempt. It was a pitiful show; he considered squashing it, but both he and his Plasma partner wanted to see how long it would go on. There was maliciousness in both of their eyes as the worm of a dragon tried to keep up the fight.

“Aaax… eeew… aaaxx… eeeww…

Axew rose and woozily stood. He began performing a third Dragon Dance, repeating the pattern he knew by heart just to give himself some kind of constant. He needed something to anchor his mind; to keep his focus from drifting away.

“Ax-ew, Ax-ew, Ax-ew, Ax-ew!” he chanted. He was beginning to grow loud in his cries. Bianca watched in humble awe as her battered warrior continued to fight.

Ax-ew, Ax-ew, Ax-ew, Ax-ew!!!” he screamed. The other Pokémon stopped what they were doing and turned to look at the distraction. He was flailing his arms and growing extremely worked up. His power was surging and the cloud of red and black energy that surrounded him was growing into a veritable storm. The cocky grin on the Gurdurr’s face was starting to shrink ever-so slightly.

Ax-ew, Ax-ew, Ax-ew… AAAAAAX… EEEEEEW!!!” he shrieked. The utterly frantic Dragon Dance reached a head and his flailing movements spasmed out of control. In a final act of strength and desperation, Axew spread his arms and widened his stance, screaming with all his might… and began to change.

“Axew…” Bianca whispered. “You’re… you’re evolving…” she stammered in a mystified voice.

Axew’s tiny body began to glow bright white. His muscles tensed and he became completely rigid. A pulsating sphere of blue light expanded from his core and formed three thin rings. The rings wrapped around his body as if scanning him, bringing about the change. His body began to pulsate and filled the room in light; the other Pokémon had all stopped their own battles now and watched as Axew evolved, distracted by his outburst a moment earlier. The rings ensnared him and the light pulsated; it filled the room with a strobe of wild energy and raw strength. As the period of the pattern shrunk exponentially, Axew’s small body began to change and grow. When the process drew near to completion, Axew’s form melted away into nothing more than a wisp of light. The wisp flashed, blinding anyone who dared look straight at it, and then burst into the emboldened form of a virile new dragon; in his moment of desperation, Axew had evolved into Fraxure.

Fraxure stood silently, his arms curled before him and his eyes shut tight. As the energy dissipated and the lights all faded away, he slowly reopened his eyes and took a commanding step forward. He reevaluated his environment, taking it all in, and then flung his arms to his sides and screamed. His roar filled the cavernous room and sent a shiver down the Gurdurr’s terrible spine.

FRAAAAAAX–URRRRRRE!

Without warning or prompt from his trainer, the newly evolved Fraxure leapt into action immediately. Moving with tremendous speed and tremendous strength, he rushed towards the dumbstruck Gurdurr and slashed with his sharp new tusks. His tusks had grown around three times longer after evolving, and while they were simply hard before, they were now razor sharp as well. The Dual Chop, bolstered by three Dragon Dances and the massive increase in strength that came from evolving, finished off the sadistic Gurdurr posthaste; Fraxure wasn’t stopping there however. Coming to the aide of his imperiled friends, Fraxure moved swiftly from the defeated remains of the Gurdurr and leapt towards the startled Unfezant. All six other Pokémon had been distracted by his pained cries and frenzied evolution; they had stopped momentarily to watch, and were now caught off-guard as he turned on them. Lashing out before the Unfezant could defend itself, Fraxure raked the ornate bird with his tusks and sent it plummeting to the ground in instant defeat; Brycen’s Cryogonal stared blankly as his battle was won for him.

As Bianca’s Fraxure began falling back to the ground, he roared again and straightened his body out. Landing powerfully, he sent a carefully directed Earthquake attack towards Boldore and Garbodor, using the speed from his fall to strengthen it. Paula and Gus inevitably took a bit of the attack, but the brunt of the strike fell to Lennon and McCartney’s Pokémon. Being Rock and Poison types respectively, they were both weak to the devastating Ground-type attack; thanks to his many Dragon Dance boosts, Garbodor fell to it instantly, and Boldore held on only thanks to his Sturdy ability. Fraxure landed, screamed a third time in rage at Boldore’s insolence for surviving the hit, and lunged towards the Ore Pokémon with fire in his eyes. Boldore was severely wounded and lacked the motor skills to escape even if he wasn’t; a light tap from Fraxure’s red-and-steel colored tusks was all it took to bring the golem down. Fraxure continued his virile roars even as the final Pokémon was felled; Bianca looked on in amazement.

“Holy crap…” Lennon whispered.

“What the Hell? Why does this shit always happen to us?” McCartney muttered in spiteful disbelief.

In a daze, the Plasma agents recalled their defeated Pokémon, stupefied at having been so soundly defeated following such a solid start. Fraxure sneered commandingly and calmed down, returning to Bianca proudly; his trainer was just as startled by the outburst as the Plasma agents had been, having not managed to say a word since he evolved. Her friends drew around her as well, offering congratulations and thanks for the assist.

“Damn, Bianca! Where did that come from?” David asked in proud shock. A wide grin was spread across his face; he put his arm around her shoulder and looked down at Fraxure magnanimously.

“I… don’t know…” she stammered. “I always knew he was strong, but… wow…” she continued. From within their minds, Paula began to speak.

“He says it was to defend you, Ms. Bianca.” she murmured softly. Her voice was strained, but she was still very much there. “A very noble thing, if I may say; seems you have a proper paladin at your side.” Bianca blushed and smiled at the stocky dragon.

The sweet moment was cut short by a noise from above them. A mighty “crash!” sounded and made everyone who heard it jump. The noise sounded like lightning striking through a wall; they all instantly remember why they were there and what they were actually fighting about.

“Oh no; N!” David shouted. He instantly released Bianca’s shoulder and began dashing towards the stairs; Lennon saw him and moved instinctively, trying to stop him by force, but David juked him and slipped past. The others followed suit a moment later after recalling their Pokémon.

[Author’s Note: For an enhanced experience, listen to this until the next section break.]

David dashed up the stairs to the seventh floor. The stairwell was in the southwestern portion of the room; though columns blocked his view of the rest of the room to his left, he could see foggy daylight streaming in from outside. He swallowed nervously and approached the central forum.

Time seemed to slow as David made the short trek towards the light. Each breath and each step seemed to take minutes to complete; fear gripped him as he finally caught up to N. He could see that the northern portion of the roof had collapsed somehow, presumably the noise he had heard before; he could see dark, foreboding gray clouds outside, with lightning crackling through them. He feared that he was too late.

Stepping out from between the patch of columns and into the light, David saw what he had most feared to see. Standing under the gaping hole in the ceiling, with a divine halo of afternoon light shining down on him, N stood, his flowing hair whipping in the wind, in awe of a massive black dragon. Zekrom seethed impatiently.

The dragon had seemingly appeared from nowhere, but stood commandingly, breathing heavily and staring at N from behind fearsome, menacing red eyes. It had rows of sharp, dagger-like teeth lining its large mouth, and a raptor-like head with a plume tipped in neon blue. Its body and neck were almost humanoid, sporting dark black-and-gray armor plating along its breast plates and broad, muscular shoulders. Its wings, arms, legs and tail were what truly made it look powerful and dragon-like however. Its arms were massive and muscular, bowing out into fan-like webbed paws. Its legs were equally toned, bending very sharply at the knees into wide, pillar-like feet. Its wings spread high above its broad shoulders, webbed like its hands and straight like those of a jet. The most defining, curious feature of the beast however was its tail; a stubby, brittle appendage stuck out a short bit from behind its hips, but then reverse-funneled into a massive electrical turbine, ending in a sharp, defined point. Electricity bristled from the turbine and charged the air around it, bathing the surroundings in a neon blue light; sensing David’s stealthy approach, the dragon growled fearsomely to alert N.

“What do you think, David? How do you like the powerful form of the Pokémon who appears before and fights beside the Hero that will lead the way to a new world?” he asked. The noise startled David as he hadn’t realized that N knew he was there. N did not turn his gaze away from the dragon to look at David as he spoke; David did the same and stared at Zekrom in disbelief as he replied.

“You’re insane, N…” he murmured in shock. “You’re a fucking lunatic!” he screamed. David grit his teeth and clenched his fists; he ran from his hiding spot and dashed towards N, spinning him around and grasping him by the collar. “What the fuck were you thinking, you psychopath?! How could you actually summon that thing?! You’re going to destroy the region, N; you have no idea what that monster is capable of!” N simply smiled and slacked under David’s grip.

“‘That thing,’ ‘that monster,’ is my new friend, David, and so are you.” he said calmly; David’s eyes opened wide and he shook N in rage.

“Don’t you get it, you stupid fool? That monster is a killing machine! It was created for one purpose: destruction of the Unova region and to kill Reshiram!” he shouted. “You don’t play in traffic, you don’t stick your fingers in electrical sockets, and you don’t summon ancient thunder gods because you want a Goddamn FRIEND!!!” he bellowed. N’s small smile grew in size at David’s remarks; he tried to fight it, but N broke out in a volley of uncontrollable laughter at David’s anger. David was dumbstruck by N’s response; he released him, watching as N caught his breath and wiped his eyes.

“Oh David, you are so naďve…” he mused. David felt his jaw drop at N’s remark.

I’M THE NAĎVE ONE?!” he stammered. N chuckled again before continuing.

“David, let me pose you a rhetorical question…” N began. “Suppose you had the Light Stone in your hands right now, and Zekrom and I weren’t here. Would you actually know how to summon Reshiram from it? You would have every tool you need, but would you even know what to do?” he asked. David wore a vacant look upon his face.

“…what the Hell is ‘the Light Stone?’” he asked after a moment’s pause. N laughed again and had to brace against his knees to catch his breath.

“Exactly.” he responded. “You have no idea.”

“I was raised to do one thing in this life, David; I was born to be the Hero of Ideals.” N explained. “Everything about my upbringing was structured to lead me to this moment, here and now. My isolation from humans, my constant interaction with Pokémon, virtually all of my schooling, it was all training me to be able to befriend Zekrom and reawaken him here and now. Surely if I was able to reawaken Zekrom from his slumber, I understand just how powerful he is. I know exactly what I am doing, and I owe it all to my father.” he continued. As he finished his statement, Ghetsis slowly approached from behind one of the columns. He walked towards N and put his arm around his son’s shoulder. As he passed Zekrom, a wicked grin spread across his face.

“We trained you and instilled in you the legends of the prophecy, N, but you were always meant to be the Hero; it is in your soul.” he commented proudly; father and son stared at David with content, sinister grins.

A commotion came from behind David as Ghetsis made his statement. The eight agents of N’s task force came bounding up the stairs, and behind them followed Cheren, Bianca, Cedric and Brycen. The agents wore wild, confused looks on their faces, and seemed to be terrified that the others had broken through.

“Lord Ghetsis, a thousand pardons!” one of them stammered. “We tried, sir, but they broke through!” he continued. N turned towards his father and shot him a disapproving stare.

“Father…” he said disappointedly. Ghetsis pursed his lips and scowled.

“No matter; what is done is done. Now begins the final stage of Team Plasma’s journey.” N began forebodingly, backing away towards Zekrom as he spoke. “Zekrom and I will travel the region, defeating the eight Gym Leaders and earning our right to enter the Pokémon League Championships. We will defeat the Champion and be recognized as the greatest might in all the land, and when none shall stand to oppose us, when all have been smote, we will declare an end to Pokémon battles and an end to humanity’s dominance over Pokémon. All shall hear and obey, or the Unova region will suffer the consequences…” he continued. Zekrom roared in affirmation with N’s statement; the whole tower shook with the strength of his cry. Zekrom bowed and let N up on his back; with his new friend securely between his wings, the indestructible dragon took off and flew away into the light. David and his friends ran to the edge and saw as the pair escaped into the moors.

For everyone but David and Ghetsis, N’s speech had been their first time seeing Zekrom in person. While stupor and awe were universal, everyone who saw him had a radically different first reaction. For Bianca, the sight of the imposing dragon had been a terrifying one; suddenly, the legends and myths she had heard about him since first meeting N had a tangible, physical being they attached to. She feared not only for herself, but for David’s sake, as the Hero of Truth as well. For Cheren, seeing Zekrom had actually been an emboldening experience. The raw power of the ancient Dragon-type had been humbling, but it also made it seem less ethereal and more mortal. Cheren still secretly felt as though he could be the Hero of Truth if push came to shove, and that if David somehow failed, he could perhaps succeed; seeing just what he was up against made that prospect seem all the more possible. For Lennon and McCartney, the sight which they had long awaited and dreamt of was actually a rather bittersweet one. After the Hell Team Plasma had put them through earlier in the year, their allegiance was to N and to N’s cause, more so than the bureaucracy of Ghetsis’ organization. Hearing N talk of “destruction” and “consequences” made them worry however that perhaps power was already going to his head in his naivety.

As N and Zekrom disappeared into the storm, Ghetsis’ smiled and began to laugh. He turned towards David and shot him a sneer.

“Well ‘Hero,’ it has been quite a pleasure, but I’m afraid we must now take our leave.” he mused. “Agents; to me!” he cried; in a sudden motion, he threw a small purple pellet on the ground at his feet and disappeared into a cloud of like-colored smoke.

For Plasma!” the agents cried from behind them; they all drew smoke balls like the one Ghetsis had used and disappeared into them as well. When the smoke cleared a moment later, the eight of them and Ghetsis were nowhere to be found.

Silence filled the empty crypt after Ghetsis disappeared. Quiet as it was however, David’s mind could not be at rest, for questions lingered on. As the storm slowly receded and the winter sun began to set over the horizon, David looked out over the northern moors and longed for the simple journey his childhood had promised. Gone were the days where he and his friends could be “normal” trainers, venturing through the region and just collecting badges in the hopes that they might enter the League Championships. Sensing his turbulent thoughts, his friends stayed back and allowed him his time to look at the forests in peace.

“‘Normal’ trainers do not have talking Pokémon, master.” Paula commented softly. Her voice jerked David from his thoughts and awoke him from his daydream. He turned in surprise and saw her gingerly approaching from behind him. She was limping and seemed obviously pained, but she still carried herself with unmatched grace and poise. She walked to his side and looked out at the moors alongside him. David smiled at her unwavering support and empathy.

“I guess he wasn’t lying, Paula… he really did reawaken Zekrom somehow…” David mused in his mind; he sighed before continuing. “I don’t know what I’m going to do though. I don’t have a clue how to summon Reshiram, or if I could even control it. What if I fail? What if I can’t stop N now that he has Zekrom?” he asked. Paula smiled and closed her eyes.

“When I was a child, before I was sent to Professor Juniper, my mother told me something that has always stuck with me.” Paula answered. “She said that ‘What-if land is the truly worthless venture,’ master. I think that is rather poignant advice.” she appended.

The pair continued watching the sun set into the darkening winter sky. After a few silent minutes, they began to descend back down through the winding tower…

* * *

A short time later, as the group was leaving the entrance to the tower and somberly returning to the city, a man darted from the tree line to the south and ran towards them on the bridge. Though his arrival was an unexpected one, they all recognized him immediately.

“Alder?” David asked in surprise. “Is that you? What are you doing here?” Alder sprinted towards them and staggered to catch his breath; his face appeared pained and he wore a frightened look.

“David! Those violent flashes of lightning that shot from the tower; what happened here? Was that your doing?” he stammered. David sighed and recanted N’s tale; when he finished, Alder grew somber and stern.

“And then he got on its back and flew away.” David said, drawing near to the end of his explanation. “If I really am the Hero of Truth, then I need to find a way to summon Reshiram to battle him with, but I don’t know how. I don’t know what to do…” he finished. Alder put a hand to his chin and fell into though.

“Brycen, Cedric, is this all true? Have you two got any ideas?” he asked after a moment of thought. The older adults both confirmed David’s story, but had no further advice.

“I’m only just learning of all this myself today as well.” Cedric mused. “First time I’ve ever been sad to be in the same boat as you, Alder.” he appended; Alder smiled at the joke.

“I’m afraid I have no real advice to give of my own, David. My travels have brought me to the far corners of the region and back again several times, but while I know of the Dragons’ history and of the legend of the prophecy, I know nothing about how their reawakening actually works…” he began to explain. David’s shoulders slacked at the news; if anyone could help, he had figured it would be the Champion. “However…” Alder continued, “I may know someone who does.”

“You speak of Drayden, don’t you, Alder?” Brycen murmured quietly from the back. Alder smiled and nodded his head.

“Aye, Brycen, I do.” he answered. “The next town to the east is Opelucid City, and its mayor is one of the most renowned and knowledgeable Dragon-type specialists and trainers of the modern day. His name is Drayden; if anyone knows about Zekrom and Reshiram, he would know.” he continued. David felt his pulse quicken at the possibility of an actionable solution.

“We need to go there anyway, David.” Cheren commented. “Drayden is also Opelucid City’s Gym Leader. We have to battle him to get our last badge.” he continued. Alder nodded at Cheren to confirm, and then turned back to David and continued to speak.

“These are trying times to be certain, my friend. This man N has just unleashed an unspeakable force unto the world. There is of course the slim possibility that one of the Gym Leaders might stop him, or that I will manage to best him when he comes to challenge me for my title, but more likely than not, someone will need to fulfill the prophecy and stand against him with Reshiram if we hope to withstand Zekrom’s legendary might. I see no reason why it can’t be you.” he explained. “My advice would be to seek counsel with Drayden in Opelucid City. I will head there at once; will you join me?” he asked. David turned to his friends for confirmation, but they both nodded in agreement.

“We’ll be there.” David replied commandingly. Alder returned David’s grin and drew a Pokéball from beneath his cloak.

“Then I shall leave at once. Meet me at Shopping Mall Nine when you are ready.” he continued. With that, Alder released his Druddigon and took to the skies on its back. He waved as he went, but quickly disappeared over the treetops…

Later that night as he lay in bed at the Icirrus City Pokémon Center, David thought back on the plethora of weighty things that had occurred that day. Simply to go in chronological order, Munchlax had evolved, they had all earned their Freeze Badges, Bianca’s Axew had evolved, and most importantly, N had actually managed to reawaken Zekrom. Alder had put it lightly when he had said that N had unleashed an unspeakable force unto the world; N had gone virtually overnight from being a creep and an annoyance who showed up at random times to being not only a legitimate threat, but perhaps the most dangerous threat the world had seen in thousands of years. Alder’s advice to seek counsel with Drayden had given him some solace, but there was still the matter of actually doing battle with N and Zekrom at some point that remained an unknown.

Unwilling nor wanting to continue harping on the threat, David remembered Paula’s advice from earlier that day. N had become a dangerous problem to be sure, but he was still not undefeatable. They had a solid plan of action to take, and a number of potential solutions. There was of course the obvious one as a last resort, but it was the least desirable. Finally allowing sleep to wash over him as he tried to recuperate from the arduous day, David let his mind at last wander to other things; though N was still there in the back recesses of his thoughts, the holidays were right around the bend and offered a much more pleasant avenue of thought. David closed his eyes, and fell soundly into sleep…
Last edited by ChaosBlizzard; 31st December 2011 at 9:45 AM.

9. I reserve this place for Edit
I am First

Edit:
My Favorite chapter so far
I can't see any spelling or grammar mistakes and i found the storyline faultless
Team plasma as a whole cult is good to see as we got to see a quadtropple batle? and how the intract with their new captains, N and Ghetis
Lennon and Mcartny have grown stronger which is good to see
as soon as Axew was about to faint i knew it would evolve but really that onsluat was INTENSE
That is something to work on suprising evo's

Overall An amazing chapter
Last edited by Tepig 5000; 21st December 2011 at 7:14 PM.

10. That almost counts as a first review, but I'll be charitable and let you have it anyway.

Anywho.

you might want to watch using italics to emphasize the results of the attacks in the Dragonspiral Tower scene.

Threw this, shot them, it all got rather monotonous.

The second glaring thing I saw was that you completely dropped N's character in here right up until David reached the top of the tower. I realize he's shaltered, but in all his other sections, he was sheltered and mature. Here, he just felt like he was six.

“She said that ‘What-if land is the truth worthless venture,
I get the feeling somethign was left out, because I don't get it.

Good for Lennon and McCartney, they did well in their battle right up untilk Faraxure, who really can be a tough opponent. Boldore has really coem along, and Trubbish was excitedly much better than fodder as well. Good use for clear Smog, too.

[Author’s Note: For an enhanced experience, listen to this until the next section break.]
Shame on you! I though NACHOEI had broken you of Author's Notes in the middle of chapters like that! [/tease]

You've doen something impressive with the other grunts, too. I feel bad for them, they have heart, even in that little scene. That's one thing I hope to take awa from reading this, is Grunts with soul. Good on you.

That ought to teach Cheren a thign or two as well. Serves him right.

“You don’t play in traffic, you don’t stick your fingers in electrical sockets, and you don’t summon ancient thunder gods because you want a Goddamn FRIEND!!!”
Favorite David line.

11. “You don’t play in traffic, you don’t stick your fingers in electrical sockets, and you don’t summon ancient thunder gods because you want a Goddamn FRIEND!!!”

I gotta say its also my fav David line

12. Chronicles of Unova

Chapter 23: Bianca's Bianco Natale

Twas the day before Christmas and all through the town,
The clean, fresh, white snow was falling gently around.
Icirrus City was blanketed in white,
The moors and the forests looked a beautiful sight.

The holiday that year would see plenty of snow,
Bianca was delighted, her face all aglow.
“This Christmas will be our first away from home,
A gorgeous White Christmas will make us feel less alone.”

The trainers decided they would take a week off,
From Christmas to New Year’s would be nothing but sloth.
Though Zekrom’s ascension was still fresh in their minds,
Even N wanted to take off at least a little bit of time.

David and friends rested at the Pokémon Center,
Their battlers playing games themed ‘round December.
The rest and the calm was simply the best,
But Bianca had an idea that she wanted to test…

“So Cheren, have you thought about Christmas presents yet?
Or David? You’re cooking up something awesome I bet!
We have so many new friends now this year,
Our Pokémon should get something too, the sweet dears.”

The boys glanced at each other without turning their heads,
“We’re doing presents this year?” Cheren said.
“We’ve got little money and we’re traveling light,
It would be impractical; our budget’s too tight.”

“No presents on Christmas? That just will not do!
I’ve got a solution though.” Bianca continued.
“A Secret Santa, like some businesses practice,
It’ll be inexpensive and won’t overburden or tax us.

We’ll put all our names here inside of my hat,
And the name that you draw gets a present like that.
One thing per person, so it won’t be that heavy,
And the Pokémon can play too so everyone gets something spiffy!”

David and Cheren agreed to the plan,
And called over the Pokémon with some money in hand.
They wrote down their names and stuffed the cards in her cap;
Bianca shuffled them and they each drew a scrap.

They each drew a name to give a present to,
And they kept it a secret so no one knew who.
David went last and a card he did cull,
But to his surprise, it was Bianca’s name that he pulled.

He smiled at his luck like the wings of a Pidove,
This was his chance to impress his sweet love.
David would find the perfect present,
It would be even better than the plump Christmas pheasant.

“Alright, everybody has now pulled a name?
Then into the city, anything is fair game!
Bianca said, lifting Pachirisu with a kiss.

David and Snorlax, Galvantula and Paula,
Headed into the snow, each with several dollars.
Bianca and Cheren headed out too,
Going their separate ways to find something new.

Later they’d return with the things they had bought,
To exchange them ‘round the tree with the warmest of thoughts.
But for the time being, David’s thoughts were elsewhere;
Maybe a new hat for her golden blonde hair?

* * *

David and his Pokémon walked down the streets,
Looking in store windows at the holiday treats.
Last-minute shoppers gave Galvantula worried stares,
But the EleSpider Pokémon kind of didn’t really care.

The Pokémon were looking for presents as well,
David wasn’t the only one about to make a sell.
Paula in particular seemed lost in thought,
She kept looking at David, her brow stern and taut.

“What should I get Bianca?” David asked his Gardevoir.
He needed something special; he had set a high bar.
“You’re a girl; what would be something you’d want?”
He asked, as they continued their snowy, light jaunt.

“Dresses, jewelry, dinner for two,
Those are all things that I suppose you could do.
But they are just stereotypes; not very romantic, master.
You will want something that will really blast her.

A gift from the heart is what I would suggest,
For a relationship like yours, that is always the best.
Show her you love her by making it unique,
Do that and to her it really will speak.”

The windows of shops were all filled up with gifts,
To help Christmas Eve shoppers and their spirits to lift.
But to David’s empty eyes they looked all but bare,
He couldn’t think of anything; it just wasn’t fair!

“Yeah, no kidding, Paula, thanks for the tip,
If I didn’t already know that, you’d be a real pip.
Obviously it has to be something from the heart,
But I can’t think of anything; I’m having a brain fart.”

Paula laughed at David’s crude joke,
Her eyes lit up and his arm she did poke.
She continued, “You’ll find it if you look inside.

David sighed, she was just spewing holiday existentialism,
You think this one won’t rhyme, but I wouldn’t cause a schism.
“So whose name did you get?” he asked in conversation,
She laughed; “I can’t say yet. Can you stand the anticipation?”

The quartette continued window shopping for a while,
Snorlax and Galvantula eventually found something their style.
David never found what he had been looking for,
There had been some extravagant things, but for them he was too poor.

When finally the night came and they had to go home,
David sighed again and let out a groan.
“I never found a present, but now something else is on my mind.”
“What is it, master?” Paula asked to be kind.

David slowed and he looked all around,
He wore a quizzical look and he stared at the ground.
He turned to face Paula, taking his sweet time.
“Paula, why has everything we’ve been saying all day rhyme?”

Paula, don’t answer that; don’t break the fourth wall,
It might be a throwaway chapter but we’ve got fans after all.
You’re asking too many questions, David, now get back to the story,
Or I’ll have an Englishman drive up and hit you with his lorry.

“You wouldn’t do that, I’m the player character.”
Just then, a drunk driver showed up; he’d been having bitters.
“Wait! Stop!” David shouted, “Just keep him at bay!
I just have one last thing that I want to say.”

David smiled and said what he needed to say.
“Orange orange orange orange orange orange orange orange orange orange!
Door hinge, door hinge, door hinge, door hinge, door door!

Now run along home, David, stop being absurd,
And don’t you dare think about flipping me the bird.
I know all your tricks; I’m the writer, after all,
Now go find the present you didn’t buy at the mall.

David was mad but he shuffled along,
Paula giggled behind him knowing he was headstrong.
They returned to the Pokémon Center after rounding the bend,
And with that I’ll bring this little section to an end…

* * *

Later that night they all gathered ‘round the fire,
To exchange their gifts and to dream and conspire.
Everyone seemed to have found a nice gift,
All except David; he felt awkward and stiff.

The sight of her suddenly made David swoon.
She was dressed in a tight-fitting, red little sweater,
Her eyes lit by the fire, making them look even better.

David shuffled rather uncomfortably,
He felt even worse seeing her so full of glee.
If she didn’t get something, she might think her name wasn’t pulled;
Seeing her dressed that way, he wanted to give her the world.

David and Cheren and all the Pokémon,
Affirmed her statement, their little presents drawn.
She sat and put Pachirisu into her lap;
She had been in Bianca’s chair, put down for a nap.

“Who wants to go first?” Bianca asked excitedly,
“I think Snorlax does,” David answered, going to the tree.
“Snorlax drew your name, Cheren, and he’s very excited.”
He went to Cheren’s chair and laid it beside it.

The object was jagged, covered in tape and wrapping paper,
What in the world it could be was a mysterious caper.
Cheren wore a look of revulsion and fright;
Snorlax was beaming and looked quite a sight.

“What the Hell is it?” Cheren asked worriedly.
“Open it and find out.” David snickered mockingly.
Carefully removing the object from its case,
A blankly confused look spread over Cheren’s face.

Some Popsicle sticks and a big wad of glue,
Glitter and tassels and a bunch of staples too.
Whatever it was, it was really a sight,
David chuckled at Cheren’s Christmas plight.

“Do you like it, Cheren? Snorlax made it himself,
He loves you, so it was homemade with stuff off the shelf.”
Snorlax bellowed and went for a hug,
Cheren’s eyes popped like those of a bug.

“It’s, uh… great, really, I like it a lot,
Thank you, Snorlax.” Cheren said, inspecting what he’d got.
Snorlax smiled, he was still just a kid,
He was very proud of himself for what he did.

The Christmas cheer and the spirit of gift,
Bianca did love and her spirits it did lift.
“Me next, me next!” cried Bianca,
She rose and approached David’s Galvantula.

The spider was surprised he was the one she had picked,
He stared at her vacantly, his feelers darting quick.
“Galvantula, I know that we had a rocky start,
I want to make it up to you from the bottom of my heart.

When you first evolved, I was afraid of your sight,
I didn’t want to touch you, but I’m going to make it right.”
Bianca sighed and extended her hand,
It quivered and shook, not quite going to plan.

She was nervous and scared, but Galvantula held still,
She reached out and touched him through sheer force of will.
His short yellow fur bristled at the touch,
Bianca giggled, not expecting it such.

“Eek! Heehee!” she yelped with a grin on her face,
“I did it, I did it! I’m still rooted in place!”
Galvantula purred at her soft, dainty touch,
She had broken her fear and it didn’t take much.

It was a small, little token, but it meant quite a lot,
Bianca plopped down, her heart beating fast,
Her grin was enormous now that her turn had passed.

“Okay, who’s next?” she asked with a sigh,
Cheren stood up and he then answered “I.”
He went to the tree and collected a small box,
He gave it to Paula; “Don’t worry, it isn’t socks.”

Being a Psychic, she already knew what it was,
That didn’t suppress her startled look though, because…
“Oh my goodness, Mr. Cheren, a real pearl necklace?!
How ever did you afford this? It is just my taste!”

Cheren smiled and sat, closing his eyes,
“Wow, and it even is the perfect size!”
David was amazed at the extravagance of the gift,
He turned towards Cheren with a quizzical lift.

“I saw it in a window and noticed the price,
Someone else had bought it first but the relationship was no dice.
Because it was a return, I could buy it real cheap,
High-quality item but the price wasn’t steep.”

Paula found the clasp and laid the jewels ‘round her neck,
She spun around the room to her whimsy’s call and beck.
“Oh thank you, Mr. Cheren, they’re absolutely pristine,
Wearing these makes me feel just like a queen!”

Cheren smiled and nodded without leaving his chair,
Paula danced over and embraced him without a care.
He blushed at her gesture but held his friend back,
The pair separated and the celebration got back on track.

The presents were less elaborate after Cheren was done,
The Pokémon exchanged things amongst themselves for fun.
Crobat got Fraxure a Dragon Gem he’d found,
Fraxure got Umbreon some black coffee, finely ground.

Gus and Aerodactyl had pulled each others’ names,
The long-separated friends happy to be united again.
Aerodactyl got the prince an ankh fit for a king,
And Gus got him a Giratina voodoo doll they could poke and de-wing.

Umbreon got Pachirisu a pretty pink bow,
And from Pachirisu to Snorlax a Sitrus Berry was bestowed.
From one vampire to another, a jar of blood from Galvantula to Crobat,
Don’t ask where he got it from; it’s questionably legal at that.

Now only one person had yet to go,
David aside, as he had nothing to show.
Paula stood up and she turned to her friends,
“Sorry to say, but I believe I am where this ends.

I pulled Master David’s name out from the cap,
So here is your present.” she said with a snap.
“It is not worth money and it might be ho-hum,
But for what it is worth, I wrote you this poem.”

David smiled as he realized her intent,
She danced as she read, moving like a serpent.
The words flowed from her mind like a whisper and a kiss,
And it went a little something similar to this.

“My name is Paula and I am a Gardevoir,
With my mind I can Teleport wherever you are.
My powers are great and many battles have I won,
But there is one force that drives me; one force and only one.

While I may have the power, he is my strategist,
To better myself and fight harder, he is the catalyst.
Team Plasma might say that ‘he does too much to strain her,’
But the one I love best is David, my trainer.

He helps me to battle and helps me to win,
To not recognize that would be a terrible sin.
Some people might say that he is a ‘Stu,’
To those people I respectfully say S.T.F.U.

He is rough ‘round the edges and frequently brash,
But when he leads me through battle, our success is a smash.
I know that he loves me and there is nothing he would not do,
And if you want more from us, stay tuned for Part 2!”

At the end of her performance, David rose and applauded,
He threw a rose from the table; she reached out and caught it.
He embraced his sweet Pokémon for her beautiful show,
“Thank you, Paula, that meant more than you know.”

With the festivities over and everyone having gone,
Bianca rose from her seat and said with a yawn:
“It’s getting late, friends, and we’ve all now had a turn,
Someone put out the fire so Saint Nicholas won’t get burned.”

David looked at her skeptically; had she forgotten herself?
She returned his gaze though and smiled wryly like an elf.
Without saying another word, she walked from the room,
And left David standing in what felt like a tomb.

“She knows what you did, master, or rather did not do,
‘But it is quite alright’ she says and she has a message for you.
She wants you to follow her and go upstairs,”
Paula said, fiddling playfully with her hair.

David turned and looked at her in vacant surprise,
Staring confusedly at Paula’s big red eyes.
“Go on; your love is awaiting you, master,
Dash away, dash away, dash away faster!”

The meaning behind Paula’s words then sunk in,
As he realized Bianca’s intentions, his lips curled to a grin.
Paula faintly laughed as David finally understood,
He dashed after Bianca as fast as he could…

* * *

The bright moon outside shown down on the snow,
Illuminating the moors; setting the trees all aglow.
Bianca would have her White Christmas that year,
Her mind was at ease and she had no fear.

She stood by the window, her back to the glass,
Her silhouette in shadows like the Ghost of Christmas Past.
The room was in darkness, only lit by the moon,
Everything was quiet; Saint Nicholas would arrive soon.

David walked up from the first floor to the second,
As he approached his temporary bedroom, Bianca’s voice beckoned.
His heart was beating fast as he went for the door;
The poor thing nearly stopped when he saw what was in store.

“Merry Christmas, David; wasn’t that so much fun?
Everyone got something nice; it was collectively a ton!
Everyone except one person; do you know who it is?
I’ll give you a hint: she’s about to give you a kiss.”

Bianca walked from the window and took off her hat,
She fell to his arms and tossed it onto the mat.
The young couple kissed by the winter moonlight,
But David sighed; it just didn’t feel right.

“I’m sorry, Bianca, I know who you mean,
I wanted to get you something perfect, my love,
Nothing less would do; it had to fit like a glove.

For my ignorance now you must pay the fee.”
David looked away; his knees, they felt weak,
But Bianca laid her smooth hand aside of his cheek.

“You haven’t failed yet, love, so please don’t yet fear,
There was only one thing that I wanted this year.
The thing that I want is something only you can do,
Because that one thing I want this Christmas is that I want you.

David’s heart began to beat without rest,
As Bianca laid his hand across her sweater-covered chest.
Young love blossomed and gave in to temptation,
Therefore, I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination.

Bianca’s Bianco Natale outside,
Had summoned the sight of a miniature sleigh-ride.
The sleigh was adorned with little silver bells;
The driver’s Speed stat was up, but his Special Attack stat had fell.

The carriage was drawn by eight little Stantler,
Sawsbuck and Rapidash running full canter.
Most miraculous of all though, and inexplicable it seemed,
The sleight was flying, held up without strings.

But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”
Unless you are Jewish, in which case please don’t sue,
Happy Hanukkah to you folks, and Happy Holidays too.

13. I dislike Poetry, truly I do,
changing syllables to rhyme is painful, monotonous too.

Therefore, this si where I will cease making this review rhyme, and simply tell you that I applaud you for putting the effort into making a Unova Night Before Christmas. Wave my finger at you for implications int he final line since I tend to not read slashy stuff, (personal taste, nothing more) and leave the floor open for a proper review. First Post, but not the best review of this. But then, how do you review something like this, that was made for fun of the reader and hopefully the author as well?

Merry Christmas!

14. Updating the early chapters is going well. I think I've made the ones I've done work on so far significantly better. That should be up around the end of next week. Two things I'd like to mention about that by the way.

1. I would ask readers to remember that the prologue and chapters 1-7 were all written literally within the span of a week. It was the end of my summer break before college and I didn't have anything else to do; I was literally writing, proofing and pushing out a chapter every single day. In hind sight, very little attention to detail was paid to any one chapter. Please just remember that when reading the originals; "fixed" versions will be coming soon.

2. When I post the updated chapters, I will also be putting up upcoming chapter titles in the OP's chapter index for every remaining chapter in Part 1, the first 8 chapters of Part 2, and a special surprise that I hope you all will enjoy. Stay tuned.

Now just going to respond to a few comments...

Originally Posted by Tepig 5000
I reserve this place for Edit
I am First
Originally Posted by Glover
That almost counts as a first review, but I'll be charitable and let you have it anyway.
I like how you guys actually care who gets the first response. I mean, I get the joke, but it's just very surreal actually producing something that people say that in response to. I'm going to have to make a post of my own right after one of the chapters calling first for myself.

Relevant comic is relevant.

Originally Posted by Glover
you might want to watch using italics to emphasize the results of the attacks in the Dragonspiral Tower scene.
Italicize ALL the things!

Originally Posted by Glover
The second glaring thing I saw was that you completely dropped N's character in here right up until David reached the top of the tower. I realize he's shaltered, but in all his other sections, he was sheltered and mature. Here, he just felt like he was six.
Well... yeah. That's what N's character is. He's still a child at heart because of his upbringing, as the scene in the castle at the end of the game displays. He wants Zekrom (or Reshiram) both for the power they command in order to free the world's Pokemon, but also because he wants a friend like a six-year-old wants the neighbor kid to be his friend. I'll tone it down in future chapters though I guess.

Originally Posted by Glover
I get the feeling somethign was left out, because I don't get it.
Crap, that was actually a typo. I'll fix that as soon as I post this.

Originally Posted by Glover
I dislike Poetry, truly I do,
changing syllables to rhyme is painful, monotonous too.
Where's your holiday spirit, man? Have you no shame?
Horrible takes on classic poems is Christmas' best game.
The rhymes are childish and the quality is poor,
But it's a holiday tradition; each year we need more!

kekeke...

Originally Posted by Glover
Wave my finger at you for implications int he final line since I tend to not read slashy stuff, (personal taste, nothing more) and leave the floor open for a proper review.
Any "implications" you wish to draw from the conclusion between David and Bianca is purely at your own discretion. I only stand behind what is implicitly stated, and aside from touching the outside of a very thick, horrible holiday sweater, it is nothing they haven't done before. I very intentionally did not go into any specifics for just this reason. Short version: It's a Christmas chapter for crying out loud; what exactly do you think is going to happen?

By the way, as far as that whole "and leave the floor open for a proper review" thing goes... *crickets chirping*

15. Originally Posted by ChaosBlizzard
When I post the updated chapters, I will also be putting up upcoming chapter titles in the OP's chapter index for every remaining chapter in Part 1, the first 8 chapters of Part 2, and a special surprise that I hope you all will enjoy. Stay tuned.
You know, reading responses from Outlook's preview screen loses a certain flare... o_O

Well... yeah. That's what N's character is. He's still a child at heart because of his upbringing, as the scene in the castle at the end of the game displays. He wants Zekrom (or Reshiram) both for the power they command in order to free the world's Pokemon, but also because he wants a friend like a six-year-old wants the neighbor kid to be his friend. I'll tone it down in future chapters though I guess.
I think my point was misconstruid. It's not that he isn't a kid, it's that that short section on it's own felt wrong when compared to how you've already protrayed him is all. Once we got to the end, we'd leveld backout and it felt like Your N again, it was just that one section.

O think of N more as someone's who's getting their first Cell phone, or Driver's License maybe since you're prtraying them as physically older, that one snippet was where it fell flat.

Where's your holiday spirit, man? Have you no shame?
Horrible takes on classic poems is Christmas' best game.
The rhymes are childish and the quality is poor,
But it's a holiday tradition; each year we need more!
I do have some spirit, that you can't blame,
But after bringing joy to the kiddies for two weekends, I left it on the train...

http://itm.org/events/polar.htm <<That really is what I'm referring to, by the way.

Short version: It's a Christmas chapter for crying out loud; what exactly do you think is going to happen?
"Mistletoe, and possibly a long passionate kiss there-under"

16. I've just finished reading the whole thing (at least what's posted), and I'm actually regretting not reading it more slowly so that I would still have some left to read. I like how you took the game's characters, and stayed true to their personalities, but didn't leave them as open as the games did. Naturally most fanfics would at least attempt this, but you actually succeeded. I'll admit, I (being somewhat OCD) was a little bit irritated by the non-Unova starters at first, but Paula is such a great character that my irritation didn't last long. I'm currently playing through my White version, and at every single turn I'm finding myself comparing the game to your story. It was really disappointing when I went to Relic Castle. Excellent job.

17. Chronicles of Unova

Chapter 1: C'est la vie
Updated Version

“David! Bianca and Cheren are walking up the drive!”

“Alright, Mom, I’ll be down in just a minute!” David shouted back. He was gathering all the essentials and gear for the start of his Pokémon journey. It had been 5 years since their pretend battle at the League Championships, and he and his friends were now adults. Having turned 18 and finished school, they were now eligible to become real, League sanctioned Pokémon trainers. This was a dream that all children shared, and was a rite of passage that he, Bianca and Cheren would all take together. Children in his world attended a primary and secondary school until age 18 where they learned things like reading, mathematics, history and the sciences. Starting at age 13 however, their regular education was supplemented with classes on Pokémon theory, biology, mythology and battling strategies; these classes were taught by the resident Pokémon professor, and at age 18, when their schooling was complete, it was that professor that would give them their first Pokémon to begin their journeys with. Pokémon journeys lasted as long as the adventurer saw fit. Typically they lasted for only a few years, taking the place of a traditional college experience, and then they would return to civilization in pursuit of a career; some trainers however made battling their career.

As he made one last pass around his room, he heard the door bell ring and the family Houndoom bark in unison with it.

“It’s okay, Shadow, it’s just Bianca and Cheren. We’re going on our adventure today!” he reassured the dog; it whimpered sadly in response however and laid its horned head upon his lap.

“Aww, don’t worry. I’ll come back and visit all the time once I get a Flying-type Pokémon. Don’t worry, pal.” he continued as he stroked the short black hair on its head. The Houndoom sighed dramatically and slowly went and laid down on David’s bed. With a nod good-bye, David went downstairs to greet his friends.

Eeeeeeeeh! David David David David David EEEEEEH! We’re going to be real Pokémon trainers! This is so exciting!” Bianca squealed as he walked down the stairs to greet them. “We’re going to have real Pokémon and go on adventures and have lots of battles and see lots of places and and and-”

Bianca!” Cheren said sharply. “Please, you’re going to give me a goddamn migraine…” he continued, turning away and holding his temple.

“Oh lighten up, Princess, let her have her moment.” David said back with a smirk. “I’m excited too, just… not as… ‘vocal,’ about it as she is.”

“David, did you get everything you’re going to need?” David’s mother asked soothingly as she entered the room. “How about you two, need any last minute supplies?” she asked Bianca and Cheren.

“Yep, I’ve got everything, Mom.” David replied; two mimicked responses came a moment later.

“Well then, I guess we’ll all head over to Professor Juniper’s lab.” she responded. “Let me just get my keys…” she trailed off, leaving the room again.

“You two put any thought into what Pokémon you’re going to pick?” Cheren asked conversationally.

“Yeah, I’m thinking a Snivy.” David answered.

“Oshawott Oshawott Oshawott Oshawott Oshawott Osha-” Bianca murmured repeatedly as she looked around the room, much to Cheren’s annoyance. He sighed and shook his head, turning his gaze away.

“Well, that works out great.” he said softly. “I actually wanted a Tepig.” he continued; David smiled and nodded at their good fortune.

“Alright, kids, I’m all ready to go.” David’s mother said, interrupting them as she reentered the room. The four of them strode briskly towards the door at her signal, leaving David standing alone in his childhood home. He turned to put out the lights and follow them, but was suddenly overcome by a wash of memories. He smiled as the life he knew gave way to the journey he was about to undertake. He hit the switch and muttered something beneath his breath; he then closed his eyes and shut the door.

“C’est la vie, said the old folks; goes to show you never can tell.”

* * *

It was a moderately long drive to Professor Juniper’s lab. David’s mother drove, with Cheren sitting in the front seat (he had “called it”) and Bianca and David next to each other in the back. Cheren looked out of the window stoically, trying to act cool and deep in thought before the momentous occasion. Bianca was bouncing up and down in her seat like a child on a sugar rush, her hands clasped on her skirt and grinning a big, toothy grin. She was totally oblivious to her surroundings, only interested in the prospects that lay before her. It was understandable, given her enthusiasm, but David couldn’t help smiling to himself at how excited she was. He was happy too, sure, but there was so much joy in her; a carefree spirit that he envied and appreciated.

“Look, look! Here’s 6th Street! We’re almost there!” Bianca said excitedly, pointing to the street sign.

“Yes, Bianca dear, we know. You’ve let us know every time we change streets for the past 10 minutes.” David’s mother said with a chuckle.

“I know! Can you believe it?!” Bianca said absent-mindedly, practically bubbling with energy.

“Bianca, your enthusiasm is contagious.” Cheren murmured drily. “And nauseating. Please stop.” he continued. David shot him a contemptuous smile in the rear-view mirror and spoke.

“Oi, Cheren, don’t be such a killjoy, will’ya?” David scolded. “We’re finally done with school and about to become Pokémon trainers. Do you think you can put Scrooge away for just one day?” he continued; Cheren ignored him and Bianca seemed to have not heard either of them in the first place. David sighed and looked back out the window.

The small town he had grown up in was virtually all that he knew of the world through first-hand experience. He knew of other regions and other parts of the world, and he knew the other towns in Unova very well thanks to his Pokémon classes, but Nuvema Town itself was the only place he had ever lived for any length of time. The world as he knew it was whizzing past the car window outside, decaying into nothing more than mere memories in his mind’s eye as Professor Juniper’s lab drew ever closer. He was excited about getting to become a Pokémon trainer, that was to be certain; all his time now would be spent exploring the region and raising young Pokémon with his two best friends. But there was still a bittersweet feeling to the start of the trip. His mind was awash with these thoughts, looking out as houses and buildings passed by; he was almost so caught up in his memories that he didn’t feel Bianca’s touch against his leg. His mind drifted back into focus as he tried to rationalize the new sense.

David turned away from the window, his eyebrow raised in mild confusion at the foreign touch. Bianca was seated next to him, looking out her own window and seemingly unaware that she was even touching him. She was bouncing in her seat as if there were springs underneath her. Just as David drew a breath to question her, she turned sharply and suddenly towards him.

“This is so exciting, isn’t it, David?!” she said in an overtly feminine tone. As she said this, she moved suddenly and grasped both of his hands in hers. She brought them up to collarbone level and spoke again in a noticeably softer voice “We’re going to make great trainers, David, I know it! Don’t you think so too?”

Her voice had taken a significant and noticeable drop in volume, and she almost cooed out the words. David was instantly set ill-at-ease; his eyes opened wide and he leaned back away towards the window awkwardly. In an instant, she had gone from being naively child-like and bubbling to… what was this? Flirtatious almost? His expression went blank and he could feel his face grow warm.

“David? Do you think we’ll be great trainers too?” she asked again innocently; he shook himself awake and stammered out a reply.

“Uhh… y-yeah…? Sure.” he croaked out. Bianca smiled her Pachirisu-esque toothy grin and released his hands. She scooted back away and in an instant, everything was back to normal. She went back to looking out the window and grinning.

“I hope so.” she murmured. “I know you and Cheren will be fine; you two always got better marks than me in Professor Juniper’s class. I just hope I do okay too.” she continued. She trailed off and continued staring off into space.

David stared at the back of her head for a moment in disbelief. She seemed to think nothing of what had just happened, as if it was totally normal. It had been but a few brief seconds, but they had dragged on into what felt like minutes. Did she not realize how she had acted? Was it all innocent to her? Maybe he was the one taking it out of context; why had it felt so awkward having her so near? It had all come so clear out of the blue, David really didn’t know how to rationalize it. Luckily he didn’t have to think about it for too long; the car began to slow as they pulled up to Professor Juniper’s laboratory.

Forget about it; put it out of your mind.” he thought to himself. “Bianca’s just another one of the guys, nothing more. I’m about to become a Pokémon trainer, that’s what’s important.” he continued. He forced the experience out of his mind and focused on the task at hand. The car rolled to a stop and he undid the seat belt. “I’m sure she didn’t even know she was doing it.” he tried to reassure himself. He smiled and opened the door.

* * *

The four of them piled out of the car and looked up at the humble Juniper Research Laboratory. It was just a small addition to the house Professor Juniper lived in, but some incredible work in the origins of Pokémon had been done there. Cheren stood with his hands in his pockets, but with a suppressed grin slowly spreading across his face. Bianca was bouncing up and down on her heels, hands clasped in front of her chest and positively beaming with anticipation as she giggled to herself. David stood and focused with razor sharp attention at the building, trying to keep Bianca out of his line of sight as best he could. They walked up the driveway towards the door; Bianca grabbed the knocker and knocked. The door was simple and rustic, but with a grand carving of Arceus etched above it as a tribute to her work in the origins of Pokémon. It opened a moment later; standing in the doorway, a hand on her hip and a grin on her face, was the sleek, attractive young professor, Dr. Aurea Juniper.

“Ahh, my favorite students, David, Cheren and Bianca, right on schedule. And Susan, how nice of you to have joined us! Would you care to come in and see our young adventures off?” piped the professor.

“Oh no no, Aurea, thank you, but I can’t. Shadow is back home all by himself and I need to go let him out. Besides, they’re adults now; they should do this by themselves.” David’s mother responded; Professor Juniper closed her eyes and nodded in agreement.

“Alright then, as you wish; shall we go inside, kids?” the Professor continued, folding her arms and smiling.

“Yes ma’am!” Bianca squeaked, almost bursting now with anticipation. Professor Juniper grinned at her protégé’s excitement and motioned for them to enter.

“Very well, follow me into my humble home.” she said.

Cheren, Bianca and Professor Juniper shuffled in, but behind them, David paused a moment and turned to take one last look at his mother. She folded her arms, smiled, and gave him a nod before silently walking back to the car; that was all they needed from one another. David turned to face Professor Juniper as she held open the door. She smiled knowingly and motioned for him to follow his friends. Through the threshold he went, in to receive his starter Pokémon…

* * *

“Mind your step, kids; I’ve been pulling some late nights lately and haven’t had a chance to clean up.” the professor said, stepping over a few discarded Styrofoam coffee cups and loose paper leafs. She lead them past whirring machines and large computer arrays into her office, where on the desk sat three red and white Pokéballs. Inside were the Pokémon they would start their journey with and would utilize to catch many more Pokémon in the months and years to come. They were the partners they would develop bonds with, go on adventures with, and train to mastery for the Pokémon League challenge. This was what they had come for, and they could hardly wait.

“Here you are, kids; your starter Pokémon! One for each of you!” she continued. At the sight of the real, genuine Pokéballs, Bianca simply lost herself and leapt into the air with a yelp of joy.

“I wanna go first, I wanna go first! Please please please please, Professor Juniper?!” she screamed. The professor stifled a laugh behind her fingers and nodded in affirmation.

“Hahaha, oh alright, dear, you can go first.” she said lightly. “But before you take your Pokémon, I must explain one thing to you all first.” she continued. Bianca was already reaching for the centermost Pokéball; Professor Juniper took a long, graceful stride between her and the desk, surprising her young student with the sudden obstacle. Bianca wore a startled look and looked up at ex-teacher to explain; Professor Juniper folded her arms, resting her back on the edge of the desk, and began her explanation.

“Normally, as beginning trainers in the Unova region, you would have a Snivy, a Tepig or an Oshawott available to you for your beginning Pokémon. Seeing as there are three of you, assuming no overlap, that would be perfect and you could each choose one for yourselves.” she began. “But I’ve known the three of you all your lives, and practically helped raise you. I’ve been friends with your families for many years and I like to think I know each of you pretty closely.” she continued.

“Did you know David still wets the bed- OOFH!” Cheren said with a glance towards his friend, but David silenced him with a quick jab in the arm.

“Come, come, Cheren! This is not a time to take things lightly.” the professor half-heartedly scolded. “Today is a day to remember always, so it’s best to behave with some formality. Nerves are one thing…” she said, glancing at Bianca, “…but please show at least a bit of restraint.”

“Yeah, Cheren.” David joked. Cheren made a face and then turned back towards the professor.

“Now then… since I’ve known you all for so long, and since you are some of my favorite pupils, I’ve decided to give you a slightly different opportunity than most beginning trainers have. You all are familiar with the work of Professor Oak in Kanto, correct?” she asked; the three of them all smiled at the mention of his name and nodded in affirmation.

“Professor Oak? Of course, everyone knows him.” Cheren answered proudly. “He’s the most famous Pokémon researcher of the last hundred years, and his radio show is broadcast all over the world from Goldenrod City.” he continued.

“Very good, Cheren, you’ve been studying.” the professor praised him. “Well, he has a young aide named Red who he tasked many years ago with completing the Pokédex. He has become somewhat of a Pokémon catching phenom in recent years, and even became the Indigo League Champion a while back. He is truly a remarkable trainer, so I asked Professor Oak a few months ago if he could enlist Red in a little Pokémon catching expedition for me.” the professor said slyly, putting her hand to her cheek. “Instead of the usual Unova region starters, I handpicked three species of Pokémon for you all to take, specifically chosen for you as individuals. Professor Oak’s aide bred them for me and delivered them especially for you.” she continued with a grin.

This is incredible!!!” Bianca screamed, staggering to take in the news. “Not only do we get to become trainers, we get special surprise Pokémon?! This is AMAZING!” she squealed, bending over and waving her arms together with glee. Cheren and David exchanged a smirk and a look and high-fived audibly behind her, clearly just as pleased with the news.

“Bianca, as requested, you can go first. Yours is the one on the left.” the professor murmured, stepping out of the way and smiling along with them; the moment had finally come.

Bianca slowly walked forward with reverence and anticipation, cupping the Pokéball in her hands. It shone in the light and she could see herself reflected in its surface. She extended a slender finger and gently pushed the button on the front to open it and release the Pokémon inside. A bolt of light shot out and materialized on the table in front of her, startling her with the suddenness of it all. She leaned forward, putting her face right next to it in curiosity as it rematerialized, and in a flash, an adorable young Pachirisu appeared and exclaimed its name.

Pachi! Pachirisu!

Bianca hesitated for a moment, trying to take it all in, then blinked and grabbed it suddenly with both arms.

IT’S A PACHIRISU!!!” she screamed. The young Pokémon squeaked in equal delight upon garnering such a strong reaction. She started emitting sparks and covered the pair in them. Bianca held the Pokémon tight against her face and spun on her heels in a circle as it loosed its sparks, spinning like a figure skater with a pair of sparklers in each hand. Bianca held the young Pokémon up as it squirmed with joy, and nearly fell flat on her back out of dizziness and glee. While Pachirisu and her new owner continued playing, giggling and squirming over each other in the corner, Professor Juniper chuckled and motioned to Cheren to go next.

Calmly and coolly, he walked forward and picked up the Pokéball on the right. He tossed it lazily on the floor to catch the clasping mechanism, throwing it as if he were initiating a battle. The seam opened and a blast of light shot out from inside. The Pokémon popped out and materialized into the form of a spry, healthy young Eevee, its coat a polished, coffee brown in color. The Eevee turned to face its new trainer as its eyes adjusted to the light; with a tilt of the head, he murmured ever-so-softly, “Ee?

Cheren walked up to it calmly, stoically and silently, showing virtually no emotion. He picked it up off the ground and looked it straight in the eye; the Eevee had a large smile on its face and looked at Cheren with warmth and expectation, again repeating its previous cry. Cheren had a completely blank look on his face, but slowly, the twinge of a smile crept up along the edges of his mouth. It slowly grew and spread along his face into a full blown smile, then a grin, then finally into a laugh. He and Eevee chuckled together and he stepped back, his new Pokémon tucked safely under his arm. He thanked the professor and stepped to the side where Bianca was. Bianca and Pachirisu had settled down for the time being, but were still happily embraced with the occasional spark flying off of Pachirisu’s cheeks. Bianca and Pachirisu, and Cheren and Eevee all looked at David expectantly; silently, his friends motioned for him to open his own Pokéball.

Well, it won’t be a Snivy, that’s for sure… what could it be?” David thought to himself. As he walked forward and picked up the ball, thoughts of Pokémon he thought he might like ran through his mind. Could it be a Growlithe? Or an Aron? Maybe if he was really lucky he’d get a Gible. “Man, how sweet would having a Garchomp be?” he thought. Whatever it was, Professor Juniper said she had handpicked it for him, so it seemed logically like he should be able to guess what it was. He opened the ball and released the clasp. From within the seam, a small sphere of light drifted out. The wisp emerged gracefully and floated just in front of his face for a brief moment, almost as if it were sizing him up. It flew around him and then drifted lazily around the room for a moment, inspecting its new surroundings both playfully and curiously. Finally, the wisp settled on the desk to land. The little ball of light pulsated for a moment, and then in a flash, materialized itself as a petite, graceful little Ralts.

David heard a soft, childlike, feminine voice inside his head speak.

“Hello! My name is Paula, and I am a Ralts! What is your name, human?”

David looked at Professor Juniper in shock, but she nodded and mouthed the words “I heard it too.” David turned his startled gaze back to the diminutive Pokémon standing before him on the table; he again heard the voice inside his head speak.

“I am a Ralts, so that means I am a Psychic-type Pokémon. Unlike other Pokémon, I can communicate with you telepathically; that is one of the abilities of my species.” she explained. “What is your name?” she continued cheerily.

“I, uh… m-my name is David, P-Paula…” David stammered. He could hardly believe this sensation; not only was he talking out loud in response to a foreign voice he had heard inside his own mind, but he was talking with a Pokémon. “It’s uh… n-nice to meet you.” he continued.

The voice rang through his mind for a third time “Your name is David? That is a lovely name.” she said politely. The Ralts covered her mouth with her hand and shook as if she was giggling, but no audible sound came. David raised an eyebrow in surprise at her gesture, as if he could be any more shocked by recent events. Before the newly united pair could further their conversation however, Professor Juniper rose from her perch leaning against the far wall and began pacing forward, speaking as she went.

“Well, I hate to break up the love fest, and I’m sure you all want to play with your Pokémon some more, but I’ve got one last thing to give you all.” she began. “Bianca, you now have your partner, Pachirisu; you two are the spit and image of each other, I must say.” the professor commented; Bianca gave a big, toothy smile and Pachirisu mimicked it perfectly, inducing another big hug from Bianca and more giggling.

“Cheren, I have entrusted you with an Eevee. You seem like two different people at times; on the one hand calm and calculating, and on the other a rambunctious prankster. The evolutionary path you and Eevee decide on will be most interesting to see…” the professor continued.

“Well, there’s Vaporeon, Jolteon, Flareon, Espeon, Umbreon, Leafeon and Glaceon.” Cheren commented to himself. “You can bet the farm it’ll be one of those, ma’am.” he continued with a cheeky laugh.

“Haha, yes indeed.” the professor laughed politely. “And David, for you, I have chosen this delightfully well mannered little Ralts. The elegance and grace of a Gardevoir will be something I think you can appreciate.” she noted.

“But Professor, Ralts evolve into Kirlia, and Kirlia can evolve into either Gardevoir or Gallade, right? Couldn’t Paula evolve into either one?” David asked.

“Normally you would be correct, David, but only male Kirlia can evolve into Gallade.” the professor corrected him. “As her name would suggest, Paula here is a female Ralts. She will one day evolve into a Gardevoir; end of story.” replied the professor with a flick of her wrist.

“I will be a Gardevoir some day, master! I will be tall and elegant and have a flowing dress, and you can teach me how to be one!” Paula said excitedly in David’s head. David pondered the thought for a minute, staring off into space.

“A Gardevoir, huh?” he mused; he paused and scratched his chin for a moment. “…that’s okay by me.” he continued with a grin; Paula smiled a tiny smile at his approval.

“Getting back on track, these three Pokémon have been hand chosen for each of you, and I’m sure you will go farther with them than you ever could with a generic starter.” Professor Juniper continued, straightening her skirt as she spoke. “As such, I am entrusting you with another special responsibility. You will also be official Pokédex bearers for the Unova region.” she said proudly.

The room was quiet enough to hear a pin drop upon Professor Juniper giving such news. Cheren and David both dropped their jaws and Bianca again squealed with joy. All children went on adventures with Pokémon when they came of age, but only a select few became Pokédex holders.

“Red is nearing completion on the Kanto, Johto, Hoenn and Sinnoh Pokédexes, but has made little progress on the Pokémon of Unova. That is where you three come in.” she explained. “You will assist Red in cataloguing all the Pokémon in the Unova region, and hopefully we will soon be one step closer to having field data on every Pokémon in existence!” Professor Juniper continued excitedly; there was a gleam in her eye at such a prospect becoming reality. The three of them all high-fived each other and cheered for the news, and the Pokémon all lifted a paw in celebration as well. Professor Juniper reached into a cabinet next to the desk, pulled out three shiny red Pokédexes, and handed one to each of them.

Bianca’s new Pokédex sparked to life and crackled on. “Pachirisu, the Ele-Squirrel Pokémon. A pair may be seen rubbing their cheek pouches together in an effort to share stored electricity.”

Cheren activated his and also pointed it at his starter. “Eevee, the Evolution Pokémon. Because its genetic makeup is irregular, it quickly changes its form due to a variety of causes.”

Finally, David turned his on and directed it towards Paula. “Ralts, the Feeling Pokémon. If its horns capture the warm feelings of people or Pokémon, its body warms up slightly.”

“Oh good… that must explain why it is so warm in here then…” Paula mused half-jokingly to herself; David snickered at her comment.

“Well, that’s that then…” Professor Juniper said calmly under her breath, folding her arms again. “It’s getting a little late to head out for Route 1 today, so you all are welcome to stay here tonight and head out on your journeys first thing in the morning.” she continued. The new trainers thanked her and collected their new Pokémon. Though her offer was a kind and generous one, dinner was still several hours away; in the meantime, the excited new Pokédex holders had new friends to go and play with.

* * *

A few hours later, as evening began its slow creep into darkness, Professor Juniper retired to her own quarters and set up the three new adventurers in her guest room. With the Pokémon put safely away in their Pokéballs, the three new trainers rolled out their sleeping bags to accustom themselves to them for the journey ahead.

“We’ll be spending a lot of time in these from here on out, huh?” Bianca commented.

“Well, we’ll be able to stay in real beds at any Pokémon Centers we come to, but when we’re out in the wilderness, yeah, these will be our beds.” David replied. “No more cushy mattresses or pillows on a regular basis.” he joked.

“But we’ll have our Pokémon with us, and we’ll have roaring campfires and the bright night sky, so it won’t be so bad.” Bianca quipped with a tired smile; before David could comment back, Cheren spoke up from behind them.

“David’s weird little Ralts aside, one nice thing about Pokémon is that they don’t talk when people are trying to sleep.” Cheren said in annoyance, already curled up in his bag and facing away from them. David turned to snit back at him, but Bianca reached out and put her hand on his shoulder to stop him. It sent a shiver down his spine, as it unfortunately and uncomfortably reminded him of what had happened in the car earlier that day.

“Forget you, Cheren. You’re turning into a big grumpy old lady lately.” Bianca chided him. “You’ve never been this lame at our sleepovers before. Sleep if you want, but I’m too excited for sleep. I can’t stop thinking about my little Pachirisu and all the adventures we’re going to have.” she continued.

David muttered some small token of agreement underneath his breath, but Cheren made no response, so he let the conversation wane. He crawled into his own sleeping bag and curled up, pulling it above his shoulders and turning to face the wall. Bianca and Cheren were silent, save for a few rustling sounds as they adjusted themselves, and with the quiet came an opportunity for his mind to wander. Though he had tried to push it out of his thoughts in lieu of the excitement of getting his starter Pokémon that day, her touch a moment ago had brought memories of the incident in the car earlier to the forefront of his mind. As sleep began to wash over him, the filters on his mind began to deaden and he was brought back to that short interval of time. Why had she done it? What did it mean? Did it even mean anything, or was he just overanalyzing? Most importantly though, why was it so jarring to him? He and Bianca had been wonderful, close, plutonic friends their entire lives. She had touched him before and it hadn’t meant anything then, so why now? There was something different about it this time; there was a certain grace and femininity to her touch. He didn’t want to admit it, but perhaps he was starting to actually acknowledge Bianca as a girl; as something altogether different than he or Cheren were.

Speak of the devil, as these rationales and considerations mulled about within his brain, he heard her yawn behind him and finally lay down in her bag. He lay still and stared at the wall, listening for her to stop moving, but before that moment came, he felt something that made him shutter. In an unassuming and innocent gesture, his lifelong friend had decided to lay next to him; directly next to him, unfortunately. Bianca laid her hand over top of his shoulder and curled up next to him. She was already out like a light and was doing it only half consciously, but she nevertheless still was. David could feel himself grow warm.

Turning over on his other side to inspect just what it was she was doing, David saw her peacefully asleep in her bag, an angelic smile spread calmly across her lips. Though everything from the collarbone down was obscured for obvious reasons, he also noticed, much to his guilty pleasure, that she was dressed only in her undergarments beneath the bag. David couldn’t shove it out of his mind any longer; he couldn’t simply keep ignoring it or brushing it off as coincidence. For whatever reason, something about finally becoming Pokémon trainers had changed Bianca; it was as if her own mental inhibitors were turned off by the excitement of it all, but she was acting in a decidedly new and different way than what he had always known. It was all unintentional and perhaps even subconscious to be sure, but there could be no more denying that it was there. Strangest of all however, much as he wanted to act offended and put off, David was not unreceptive to her change.

A wave of stinging pain washed over his eyes as the clock struck a late hour on the mantle behind them. There were altogether too many difficult and life-changing thoughts trying to compete for dominance in his mind, and his body was reminding him it was time for sleep. Maybe Bianca was acting different, and maybe she wasn’t; perhaps she had always been this way and he had just never noticed. Whatever it was though, there was no sense in worrying about it now. Content to call a spade a spade, David had to acknowledge that, childhood friend or not, there was a beautiful blonde asleep next to him who had at least some valid intention of wanting to be physically close to him. Remembering the adage that had helped him earlier in the day, David laid his own hand over the exposed, pale skin on her shoulder and murmured the lyric to himself for a second time that day.

“C’est la vie, said the old folks…” he whispered. “…goes to show you never can tell.”

18. Chronicles of Unova

Chapter 2: First Steps, Long Strides
Updated Version

“Paula, use Psychic!”

The forest was calm, and all was quiet. Not a single Pokémon was out; they were all tucked away, hiding in their homes. The sun shone into the clearing, illuminating the impromptu battlefield. The only sounds were the gentle rustle of the wind through the leaves, the sound of a distant creek, and the behemoth opposite David plodding the ground menacingly. The wild Bouffalant was staring him down, seething with rage and defiance; it had suffered Will-o-Wisp burns, been thrown about the clearing repeatedly, and hadn’t landed a single blow. It was breathing heavily and knew it was down for the count; unwilling to give up without at least landing some kind of hit though, it took in a large breath of air, snorted menacingly, and kicked up the dirt under its hooves, ready to risk it all on one final attack.

Opposite it stood the dainty figure of a Gardevoir, the very pinnacle of health, grace and elegance; her arms were at her sides, and her long gown flowed gently in the wind. The Gardevoir had been toying with her opponent during the entire battle, and wasn’t ready to give up on her fun just yet. She smiled and winked at the mighty bull, putting a graceful hand to her cheek and the other below her elbow. The Bouffalant fell for the Taunt; it reared off the ground and roared, then tucked in its head and prepared to charge. It took off like a bolt of lightning towards the slim silhouette of the Gardevoir, putting the pain from its burns out of its mind and throwing everything it had into this one final Head Charge attack. The Gardevoir stood perfectly still and focused her mind. The charging bull came closer and closer with a bloodlust in its eyes. It tucked in its head, came up to full speed, and launched itself at the enemy.

Paula didn’t flinch.

At the last moment, she gracefully sidestepped and spun around it, floating gently into the air for a moment before slowly gliding back down. The Bouffalant kept going and crashed into a tree across the clearing. It roared with pain as its whole body shook. It turned back around to face the Gardevoir, wobbly and disoriented from the crash, and saw her behind him gently drifting back down to the ground. As she landed, she brought her hands up to her horn and gracefully straightened out her gown. Satisfied it was unruffled, she brought her sharp gaze upon her opponent and sneered mockingly.

“Let’s finish this, Paula.” David said. “Use Psychic!”

She closed her eyes and lowered her head; a moment later, the ground began to shake. The Bouffalant looked around in terror and confusion for the source of the quake; still disoriented from the crash, it got wide-eyed in panic as it slowly felt its feet leave the ground. It flailed and screamed, trying desperately to reconnect with the planet. The Gardevoir brought her hands together to form a triangle in front of her horn, and then began to finish her attack.

Gaaaaaar… deeeeee…” she said, her voice rising with time.

The Bouffalant was doing everything it could to escape the impending pain. It would be to no avail however. The Gardevoir opened her eyes quickly and shouted.

VOIR!

The whole forest shook. The Bouffalant flew across the clearing, striking another tree and falling to the ground in a slump. The Gardevoir composed herself, lowered her arms, and gracefully walked back to her trainer. Suppressed as it may have been, there was a kind of girlish spring in her step at her success.

“Excellent work, Paula; just what I’ve come to expect from you.” David said in a very business-like tone; a sheepish grin was creeping along the edges of his mouth however out of pride.

“Thank you, master. That was more fun for me than I would imagine it looked like however.” she replied with a giggle. David nodded and recalled her to her Pokéball.

David resealed the ball and reattached it to the holster which hung from his belt loop. He reached to adjust the brim of his cap and heard a small noise from behind him as he did so.

“Is it… is it gone?” Bianca asked timidly. David smiled coolly and answered without turning.

“Absolutely. That poor sod won’t be terrorizing this forest again.” he said.

“Oh, David… you’re my hero.” Bianca said femininely, emerging from her cover and putting the back of her hand to her forehead. In any other circumstance, such a cliché remark would have made David laugh, but there was a kind of twisted logic to this place; that logic was beginning to subtly fray around the edges however if one watched closely enough…

“Twas nothing, milady.” he said with a smirk, turning now to face her. She looked down and smiled, then ran into his arms and embraced him. She looked up at her protector, trembling in anticipation, and moved in to give him one… big… long… ki–

The ground shook again; this time it wasn’t Paula’s doing however. The forest around them began to dissolve. The trees rippled then winked out of existence. The sky turned grey and fragmented, then fell from the Heavens to the ground in shards. Bianca turned to dust and blew away in the wind from David’s arms; then, slowly, David himself faded away from this world, and in an instant, everything vanished.

The sun shone in through the window. It hit David squarely in the eyes, gently waking him and returning him to the land of the living. Slowly, reality began ebbing back into existence and David remembered where he was. As the room began to materialize, thoughts of his would-be kiss faded from his memory, and the dream became a haze. There was a look of confusion and shock plastered on his face as he tried to reconcile the bizarre implications of the dream.

What the Hell was that?” he murmured silently under his breath. His thoughts were shortly interrupted though, and his expression quickly vanished.

From across the room, he heard a soft, muffled laugh, and looked up to see Professor Juniper leaning against the doorway, covering her mouth and giggling. Had she heard what he had just said? Then it dawned on him however: Bianca was still curled up beside him.

As this realization dawned on him, his look of confusion and shock turned to one of terror and worry. He looked at Professor Juniper, then to Bianca, then back to Professor Juniper and shook his head “no” very quickly several times. Professor Juniper again stifled a laugh at his panic and waved her hand dismissively. She held up her outstretched hand and mouthed “five minutes” before walking out of the doorway. David watched as she left, then exhaled a sigh and put his head back down. He looked over at the sleeping angel beside him and sighed again, longing to know what to think of her. He eventually slipped out of his sleeping bag and proceeded to get up.

* * *

Five minutes later, Professor Juniper came back into the room to wake Cheren and Bianca.

“Breakfast, you three.” she said in a somewhat business-like tone. Bianca’s eyes opened slowly and she sat up and stretched. She yawned before finally speaking.

“Yes, dear, it’s going on 9 o’clock. There’s breakfast in the kitchen when you’re ready.” Professor Juniper replied. She walked out of the room as the newly sanctioned trainers rose.

“Cheren, wake up.” David said curtly, realizing Cheren had not heard Professor Juniper, but his friend didn’t stir.

“Hey, Cheren, come on, get up.” he said again, but his friend simply let out a stifled snore and rolled over on his back.

Bianca began to say something to try and wake him herself, but David was already on it. He walked over to his dozing friend and pinched his nose between his fingers. Cheren tried to breathe in, struggled, and then jolted awake.

“What’s going on?! Who’s there?!” he gasped. His shocked gaze faded when he realized what David had done though; Bianca giggled softly and David replied.

“Wakey-wakey, Princess.” he cooed sarcastically. Cheren slumped over and moaned as his heartbeat returned to normal. As David began to stand back up, Cheren lashed out at his friend’s knee cap, inciting a muffled grunt from David and more laughter from Bianca as he fell over in pain. After a few more shenanigans like such, the three young trainers rose and left the room after Professor Juniper.

* * *

As the four of them sat around Professor Juniper’s breakfast table, the professor began to speak.

“The closest city from here is Accumula Town. Follow Route 1 straight north and you’ll reach it in a couple of hours.” she began. “I assume you all are planning on partaking in the Pokémon League Gym Challenge, correct?” she asked. They all answered that they were and she continued. “Then your first major destination should be Striaton City. The first Gym you can challenge is there.”

“Can you tell us anything about the Gym, Professor?” David asked. The professor took a sip of her tea and nodded her head.

“Striaton City’s Gym is operated by three brothers, Cilan, Cress and Chili.” she explained. “Cilan specializes in Grass-type Pokémon, Cress in Water-types, and Chili in Fire-types.” she continued.

“How do they decide who will battle?” David continued to ask. It was Cheren who spoke up this time however.

“It’s determined by your starter, dude.” his friend explained. “If you chose an Oshawott, you would battle Cilan, whose Grass-types would have a type advantage over you. Choosing a Tepig would mean you battled Cress, whose Water-types would have the advantage. Finally, Chili battles those who began with a Snivy, his Fire-types having the type advantage there as well.” he continued. Professor Juniper smiled and took another sip of her tea.

“Impressive, Cheren; that’s exactly correct.” she praised. “Since you three didn’t start with the typical Fire-Water-Grass Unova region starters, I have called ahead and arranged the battles for you.” she said. “Bianca, you and Pachirisu will be battling Cilan; he won’t have a type advantage over you, but Pachirisu’s Electric-type attacks will be ineffective against his Grass-types. Cheren, you and Eevee will be battling Cress and his Water-types. Finally, David, you will be battling Chili and his Fire-type Pokémon.” she explained.

A Fire-type opponent, huh?” David thought to himself. “Interesting…

“Once you reach Accumula Town, head west to Route 2 and follow the path north to Striaton City.” Professor Juniper continued to explain. “I have an associate there who can show you around town if you like; her name is Fennel, and she is a Pokémon researcher too.” the professor continued, sipping at her tea.

“We’ll leave right away, Professor. Thank you for your hospitality.” Cheren said. Bianca and David mimicked the sentiment and excused themselves from the table.

“Good luck, kids. Remember to come back and show me your Pokédexes any time.” the professor shouted after them. They bade her farewell, gathered their things, and left to begin their Pokémon adventure.

* * *

The lab was on the northwestern side of Nuvema Town; it was just a short walk to the start of Route 1. As they neared it, Bianca stopped them and made a suggestion.

“Hey! You know what we should do to make this even more special?” she asked. “We should all take our first steps onto the route together! We can start our journeys all at the same time!” she continued. Cheren looked at her with an utterly perplexed look on his face, the thought seeming infantile and senseless to him.

“Oh come on, Cheren, don’t be like that!” she whined, seeing his confused look. Cheren shook his head and looked away.

“Does it matter who sets foot on the route first?” he asked disinterestedly. Bianca frowned though and grabbed a hold of his wrist.

“Come on, it’ll be fun!” she exclaimed. Cheren sighed and continued walking.

“Fine, whatever, I guess…” he muttered. Bianca smiled and they resumed walking towards the head of the route.

“Route 1. Now leaving Nuvema Town. Accumula Town, 5 miles north.” Bianca read off the sign when they got there. “This is it! Beyond this sign is the start of our adventure!” she continued excitedly. They all lined up side-by-side next to the sign, and David and Bianca counted off.

“1…” Bianca began.

“2…” David continued.

“3!” Cheren said quickly. He took one large step ahead of his friends and stepped onto the route first. David and Bianca stumbled to catch up to him as he turned around laughing.

“Che-reeeeen! We were supposed to go together!” Bianca said angrily.

“Hahaha! Bianca, who cares? In 20 years, are you really going to remember which of us stepped onto Route 1 first?” Cheren replied, still laughing insatiably. Bianca stamped her feet and crossed her arms, pouting, and Cheren began walking away. David felt sorry for Bianca, but at the same time he knew he had to agree with Cheren; it didn’t matter who took the first step, but he was sorry Bianca didn’t get her way. The three of them began walking north up the route, and slowly, Nuvema Town faded into the tree line and out of sight. It would be the last time any of them would see it for a very long time…

* * *

It had been about an hour since they had left the sign. The group was making good time and they were about half way to Accumula Town. They were passing by a river, so Bianca suggested that they stop for a moment and rest. Cheren was impatient, but he agreed. The three of them went down to the waterfront to top off their canteens and rest for a moment, but when they got closer to the water, they could see that they were not alone.

“Wow, what is that?” Bianca asked. “Is it a Pokémon?” she continued.

“Shhh, yes. It’s a Patrat. Let’s not spook it.” Cheren replied. Standing at the edge of the river, its back to them, was a tiny young Patrat, oblivious to the three pairs of eyes staring down at it. Before Cheren could stop her though, Bianca rose and started running towards it.

“Aww, it’s so cuuuuuute! I’m going to go say ‘hi.’” Bianca said excitedly, getting up and jogging down to the bank of the stream.

“Bianca, wait, hold on!” Cheren stammered after her, but it was too late.

Hellooooooooooo, little Patrat! My name is Bianca. What are you doing here?” she asked, rushing down the hill towards it. The Patrat turned in shock at the unexpected disturbance and saw her running at it. It bared its teeth and growled at her, thinking she was trying to attack. Bianca saw its hostile gesture and tried to stop, but she lost her footing and began to slide down the steep, rough hill uncontrollably. She had picked up too much momentum and couldn’t stop or slow her descent. She slid down the hill towards it, and seeing this, it jumped at her to defend itself and attack. Bianca screamed and ducked as she reached the bottom, the Patrat sailing past her face narrowly and landing behind her. She slid to a halt at the shore of the river and saw the little rodent turn around to make another pass.

“Eeeeeeeeeh! Pachirisu, help me!” she screamed, releasing her Pokémon for their first ever battle. Pachirisu leapt from the ball to defend her trainer, landing gracefully and striking a fighting pose. The Patrat was baring its fangs and sizing up its new adversary. Pachirisu waited patiently for a command from her trainer, itching to start her first real fight.

“Pachirisu! Um… use… um…” she stammered, but the Patrat was too quick for her. It leapt from the ground before she was ready, claws drawn, teeth gleaming, and threw itself at Pachirisu.

“Eeek! Quick, Pachirisu, get out of the way!” Bianca shouted. Pachirisu leapt into the air from where she had been standing and jumped onto a low-hanging tree branch. The Patrat landed squarely where Pachirisu had been a moment earlier and spun around to find its opponent.

Cheren saw Bianca’s dilemma and shouted down from the embankment where they had been watching; “Bianca! Have her use ‘Spark!’” he cried.

“Okay!” Bianca shouted back blindly. “Pachirisu, quick, use ‘Spark!’” she commanded. Pachirisu began charging electrical energy, her cheeks crackling with electricity and her body flush with sparks. The Patrat looked up just then and found its foe, leaping up for another attack. Pachirisu leapt from the branch, her whole body covered in crackling sparks, and the two collided head first in midair. An explosion of sparks and dust surrounded the two Pokémon, and Bianca had to shield her eyes from the debris. When the dust eventually settled, the wild Patrat lay on the ground defeated, while Pachirisu stood triumphantly next to it, breathing heavily but otherwise unscathed.

Bianca stood dumbstruck for a moment. She staggered to grasp the concept that she had not only just completed her first real Pokémon battle, but had been flawlessly victorious. Slowly, the realization of what had happened dawned on her. A grin spread across her face and she jumped into the air with a shout.

“Y-y-y-YESSSSS! Pachirisu, that was incredible! You did it!” she shouted, running up to her Pokémon and embracing it. Pachirisu let out an excited and celebratory cry of her own and squirmed in her trainer’s arms. Cheren and David came running down from the road towards the stream to congratulate her as well.

“Holy crap, Bianca, you actually did it! You just won your first Pokémon battle!” Cheren shouted with a mixture of genuine surprise and congratulations.

“That was sweet, Bianca, you did amazing.” David echoed. Bianca blushed and held up Pachirisu proudly.

“Don’t give me the credit; Pachirisu did all the work, didn’t you, sweetie?” Bianca replied. “Besides, you were the one who suggested Spark, Cheren. I guess I probably should try and figure out some of Pachirisu’s moves, shouldn’t I?” she continued.

“Hey man, you won, didn’t you? Let’s not overanalyze this; you won and that’s all that matters.” David said jokingly. “That Patrat was crazy; I wonder what pissed it off so badly.” he continued, looking down at the unconscious form of the Scout Pokémon that lay beside them.

“I’m just glad little Pachirisu is alright.” Bianca mused, returning her Pokémon to its Pokéball. “I could sure use that rest now though!” she continued.

* * *

Cheren sat by the riverbed, finishing his lunch and staring off into space. Bianca was out in the water, splashing around with Pachirisu in the warm morning sun. David sat next to Cheren, watching Bianca and remembering his dream from the night before. Why did these thoughts keep coming back to him, he wondered; why did everything constant about Bianca suddenly seem to be changing? Cheren stood up and stretched, announcing that they should get back on the road. Bianca came wading back to the shore and gathered her things, but as the two of them left, David stayed seated, looking out at the clear blue water before him, lost in thought. As his friends began to walk back up the hill, Bianca called out to him from over her shoulder.

“David, are you coming?” she asked; David looked down and away before standing and replying though.

“Actually, no, you guys go on ahead.” he said, turning to face them. “Seeing that battle of yours made me want to go train Paula a little bit.” he continued with a sly grin. “I’ll meet you guys in Accumula Town; you go on without me.” he appended.

“Okay, will do.” Cheren replied. “It’s 12:30 now; we’ll meet you in the main square at 2:00, deal?” he asked. David smiled and nodded his head.

“Sounds good, Cheren.” he responded. He watched as his friends walked back up the hill to the main road, and then walk out of sight. He took out Paula’s Pokéball and released her from it. The little Ralts popped out and stood on top of a fallen branch on the ground, smiling and looking up at him expectantly.

“Hello, master!” she exclaimed excitedly with her telepathy. “What are we doing here?” she asked curiously.

“Cheren and Bianca have gone up ahead. I think we should do a little training before we get to Accumula Town. What do you say?” he replied.

“Of course, master. How shall we train?” she asked politely.

“I guess we should find a wild Pokémon to battle and practice some of your attacks.” David responded. He began looking around, curious to try and see where the Patrat from earlier may have come from, but Paula spoke up before he could identify the source.

“Very well; we should check the tall grass to the north. There is bound to be something we can battle there, master.” she said cheerily. David smiled and picked her up; the pair returned to the road and started heading north.

* * *

A tiny Lillipup walked along the road, swaying to an unheard beat with each cheerful little step. The sun was shining, birds were chirping, there was a spring in his step, and the weather was just as pleasant as could be. The Lillipup didn’t have a care in the world, and was just happy to be out in the warm sun. As it walked along, a Pidove flew by and startled him. The little dog barked at the Flying-type Pokémon and leapt in the air after it, snapping his teeth playfully. The Pidove turned around to look at him and cooed chidingly when it realized what he had done. The Lillipup yipped a small, fierce bark at it in warning, but the Pidove paid him no mind. It flew off, and the Lillipup went back to his stroll.

A little farther down the road, he heard a rustle and saw the grass move. “Something else to bark at?” he thought to himself. The Lillipup slowly crept up as so to not spook whatever the tall grass was hiding. It crawled right up to the edge, hunched over on its front paws, wagged its stumpy tail to ready itself, and then dashed into the brush, yapping and growling at whatever variety of beast the treacherous grass may have been harboring from him. Suddenly, it grew quiet though, and a moment later, the small dog came sailing back out of the grass, yelping in terror and soaring across the road. David and Paula emerged from their cover a second later and Paula giggled as the Doppler Effect modulated the Lillipup’s defeated yelp.

“Great work, Paula! That’s the twentieth one so far.” David said proudly, looking down at her and smiling.

“Thank you, master. I can already feel myself growing stronger.” she responded modestly.

“Your Confusion attack is getting really powerful. Did you see that little bugger fly?” David said with a laugh. “You knocked it right on it’s ass! Chili’s not going to stand a chance against us!” he continued proudly.

“Soon I will evolve into a Kirlia, and I will be much stronger then, master. It is all thanks to you!” she replied, equally proud of her new trainer.

“I think that’s enough training for now. We should head on to Accumula Town and find Cheren and Bianca.” David said, looking down the road stretching onward to the north. “I think I can see the buildings from here actually.” he continued.

“You can?” Paula asked in surprise. “May I try something then, master?” she continued.

“What are you going to try?” David asked quizzically, raising an eyebrow in concern.

“You will have to wait and see, master!” she said with a giggle. “Please just pick me up and hold me as high up as you can.” she continued. David picked up the little Ralts under her arms and placed her on top of his head. He turned to look at the city and could feel her start to shake.

“Con… cen… trate…” she murmured. “Con… cen… trate…”

Paula shook in concentration. David didn’t know what she was doing, but her efforts quickly paid off and manifested themselves. There was a blinding flash, he felt the ground disappear beneath his feet, and he suddenly felt weightless. His hair blew, he drifted through space as if surrounded by water, and felt as though the planet’s gravity and the gravity of everything else around him had suddenly been turned off. The sensation lasted only an instant, but it was all so vivid that he took it all in immediately. Suddenly, the sensation left him and he felt the ground beneath his feet again. He opened his eyes and saw the entrance to Accumula Town before him; in literally an instant, he and Paula had traveled a good quarter of a mile.

“Ho-oh-ly CRAP! What the Hell was that, Paula?!” he asked in shock. Paula giggled and held her arms up proudly.

“I used Teleport, master! I got the idea to try it earlier when we were training, but I did not know if it would work or not.” she exclaimed. “I just saw where I wanted to go, focused on it in my mind, and poof, here we are!” she explained. “Are you proud of me, master?” she asked with expectation and joy.

“Dude, that was AWESOME! Hell yeah I’m proud; that was great!” David replied excitedly. “If we can really dial that in, it could eliminate the need for a Flying-type Pokémon potentially! That is definitely something we should keep practicing; excellent work!” he praised her. Paula blushed faintly and smiled at his overt ovation.

“I am glad that you approve, master. I am getting stronger and stronger with you.” she replied shyly. David nodded and put her back in her Pokéball; he then began walking towards the city to find his friends.

* * *

David looked down at his Xtransceiver to get the time; 1:55pm. He had to meet Cheren and Bianca in the main square in five minutes. He turned the corner and saw a small park on the other side of the street. There was a crowd growing in the middle of the park, and he could see what looked like a man giving a speech of some kind to them. He could see Cheren and Bianca standing at the edge of the crowd, trying to squeeze in to listen, so he jogged over to them to find out what was going on.

“Bianca! Cheren! Hey! What’s going on here? What’s this crowd for?” he asked as he ran up to them. They turned in mild surprise upon hearing his voice and greeted him; Cheren spoke to answer his friend’s question.

“There’s this guy from some cult or something giving a speech. He’s been here for the last half an hour or so.” Cheren replied. “He’s been saying some really whacked out stuff.” he continued, muttering slightly under his breath.

“He says that if we keep Pokémon as pets or for battles that we’re hurting them and we should let them go!” Bianca explained in disbelief. “I only just got my darling little Pachirisu and I couldn’t stand to let her go!” she continued, raising her arms above her head for dramatic effect. David got wide-eyed at such a prospect and turned to Cheren for an explanation.

“What? That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. This dude’s just been shouting this crap at people in the park all day? Is he homeless or something?” David asked.

“See for yourself.” Cheren said, stepping aside for David to get through.

The three of them pushed their way to the front of the crowd, intent on seeing the man who was saying such outlandish things. When they got to the front, they saw a middle-aged man standing on a small, impromptu stage, flanked by eight armed guards. Three stood on either side of him, standing at attention with one hand gripping the hilt of a sheathed sword; the two on the edges also stood at attention, proudly gripping a flag with an odd insignia adorning it. The symbol the flags bore was that of a shield, the left half white and the right half black. On it was a backwards “Z,” with a “P” inscribed over it. The letters were electric blue with a black trim, and looked as if they had been slashed onto the flags with some kind of mystical sword. The guards all bore the same insignia on their uniforms; a grey cloak that obscured their faces and which covered their whole bodies. The man speaking in the center supported himself with a large, ornate cane, almost resembling a scepter fit for a king. He wore a giant, ornate tunic with a lavish neck piece of gold, shaped like the tower of a castle. His tunic was purple and gold, royal colors, and had a design resembling two large, menacing eyes, staring coldly out into the crowd. He had flowing gray hair that went past his shoulders, but the color and a gently receding hairline betrayed his age. His left eye was stern and cold, a demonic red in color, but he wore an eye patch over his right, adding to the mystique. He continued his speech…

“And so, ladies and gentlemen… what is our responsibility towards these magnificent beasts? They control the very elements of nature, help build for us our homes and communities, brighten our lives and even fight to defend our honor! These creatures are the vastly superior life forms, and we owe them a debt of gratitude. Our responsibility, I assert, is liberation! If you have agreed with the logic and evidence I have set forth this day, then you must reach the same conclusion I have which is that Pokémon and people should be separated and the Pokémon should be freed from our tyranny! I ask only that you consider my words, and if the spirit of Arceus moves you to do so, release your Pokémon and join us, such as these brave men and women surrounding me have done too.” he said.

“We… are Team Plasma.” he continued, emphasizing the words. “The Pokémon liberation movement begins with us, but it ends, dear citizens of Accumula Town, with you. I thank you for your time today, and I hope to have a chance to speak to you all again soon.” he concluded.

As he finished his speech, the guards snapped their arms to their sides and bowed. With mechanical, robotic precision and movements, they gathered the flags, the podium, and all they had brought with them, and in one, unified movement, left the stage and exited the park.

“Wow…” David murmured.

“I know. It was like that for a solid half an hour too. I thought I knew what crazy was, but man… that dude set the bar pretty high.” Cheren replied.

Before Cheren could say more or David or Bianca could add a further comment of their own, a soft-spoken voice murmured something from behind them. There was an airy quality to his sound; a certain smugness and self-righteous air about it.

“Did he now?” the voice said. “That man is ‘crazy,’ do you think?” The group turned to see a young man standing behind them. As the rest of the crowd dispersed, he stood rooted in place, standing like a statue as he spoke to them. “I for one think he made perfect sense.” the man continued.

The man was still in his adolescence, but was perhaps two or three years older than they themselves were. He was strikingly tall, but of a slightly thinner build than his height might otherwise suggest. He wore what was to them rather ornate seeming clothing; a white tunic, khaki trousers, a black baseball cap and many pieces of jewelry. Large bracelets hung from his wrists, he wore a top hung from a string as a necklace, and a curious level-1 Menger sponge hung on a chain from his belt loop. Perhaps most striking of all however was his flowing green hair; the man brushed it aside from his face as Cheren snapped back a reply.

“Yeah, I think he’s crazy. How can you not?” Cheren said shortly. “Why would we ever release our Pokémon like that? That makes no sense; Pokémon aren’t ‘slaves’ like he made them out to be, Pokémon are the partners and friends of trainers. We work with them to make them stronger, and they, in turn, teach us as well. It is a symbiotic relationship, not one of master and slave like that loon made it out to be. I feel no greater urge to arbitrarily ‘release my Pokémon’ than I do to take off my clothes and run through this park screaming obscenities at the top of my lungs. His ‘evidence’ and ‘logic’ were anecdotal at best.” he continued. The man smiled and closed his eyes.

“Anecdotal, you say?” the mystery man replied. “Is that so? Tell me… were you raised by humans?” he asked.

“Was I raise- WHAT? Yes, of course I was!” Cheren replied, flabbergasted. The man chuckled a tiny laugh.

“Well, then you can’t really say it is ‘anecdotal evidence,’ can you?” the mysterious stranger continued calmly. “Unless you were actually raised by Pokémon as I was, nurtured and surrounded by them every waking hour of every single day, then you really don’t have as much exposure with them as I do.” he continued.

“But I’m sorry, I seem to have lost my manners.” he said. “My name is N. I am a beginning Pokémon trainer, much like you three appear to be. My goal in life as a trainer is not to challenge the self-righteous ‘Pokémon League’ or to become stronger; I wish to hone my abilities to understand Pokémon, and I seek to create a better world for my Pokémon brethren.” N continued. “You three seem to be something quite special though, actually. May I inquire as to your names?” he asked.

“My name is Cheren, and this is David and Bianca. Your aspirations are noble, Mr. N, but if you align yourself with that Team Plasma crowd, you’ll be sacrificing the ends for the means.” Cheren responded bluntly, trying simply to make the strange man go away.

“Hmm… is that so, Cheren?” N said with a laugh. “Well, we’ll have to agree to disagree I’m afraid. You… on the other hand…” he continued, turning and sizing up David.

“Yes… there is something remarkable about you, I must say… most remarkable indeed…” N murmured. “Tell me, friend… would you like to have a Pokémon battle?” he asked, a smile spreading across his face.

“What, here? Now? Well I… I mean I guess…” David stammered.

“David’s not afraid of you! He’ll take you down, you creep!” Bianca shouted, energized by the frantic, unstated energy of the situation.

“I, um… wait, what? I will?!” David stammered again, surprised at Bianca’s boldness.

“Excellent! Then it is decided.” N said. He took out a Pokéball from his holster, took a step back and threw it forward to the ground. A Purrloin came out of the ball and growled, ready to start the battle.

“Go, Purrloin!” N shouted. “You’ll have to excuse me, my friend, but we of course must play within society’s rules for the time being.” he continued, seemingly talking more to the Purrloin than to David.

I can’t look like a coward in front of Bianca and Cheren… especially not Bianca. I guess I have to do this.” David thought to himself. He took out Paula’s Pokéball and threw it into the air. “Paula, go!” he shouted.

The little Ralts flew out of the ball and appeared opposite the Purrloin, ready to fight. A large smile spread across N’s face and he looked pleased.

“Oh my, how darling!” he shouted. “Your Ralts is named ‘Paula?’ Oh, it looks like I was right about you after all!” he continued.

“Um… I… thanks?” David stammered. Before he could readjust his mindset back to the battle though, N called out his first attack.

“Purrloin, use Fake Out!” N shouted. The Purrloin made a quick jab towards Paula, not actually attacking but feigning with its claws perfectly. Paula jumped back in surprise, tripped, and then stumbled and fell over, startled by the Purrloin’s quick motion. As she stood herself back up, the Purrloin took up a fighting pose and prepared to attack in earnest.

“Paula, use Confusion!” David shouted. The little Ralts steadied herself, focused, and let loose the counter-attack. Just like she had practiced, the blast of telekinetic energy shot forth and flew towards her opponent; much to her and her trainer’s surprise however, the Purrloin appeared utterly and totally unphased. It grinned a devilish grin, then lunged forward at the Ralts, claws drawn and ready to swipe.

“Crap, no! Paula, quick, get out of the way! Use Teleport!” David shouted blindly, but it was to no avail.

“Purrloin, use Pursuit.” N said calmly. Paula quickly Teleported away, but the Purrloin grabbed a hold of her just before she could make her escape. Paula rematerialized across the clearing, but N’s Purrloin was still doggedly hanging on. The Purrloin raised a paw, its claws glowing with black, malevolent energy, and it took one powerful swipe at the little Ralts. She flew across the clearing, fell to the ground, and slumped over, too tired and defeated to go on. The Purrloin gracefully fell to its feet, licked its paws, sat down and purred; N recalled it to its Pokéball, saying quietly under his breath, “Excellent, Purrloin. Thank you for putting yourself in danger for my sake. I appreciate your contribution.”

David ran towards his Ralts, both worried about what his friends would think and terrified that she was permanently hurt. He knelt down next to her and began to inspect the damage, but she looked up at him and began to speak.

“It is alright, master, I am fine.” she murmured softly in his mind. “I am sorry I could not win.” she continued. With that, her mind slipped and she fell into unconsciousness.

Though she wouldn’t hear it, David thanked her for the effort and recalled her to her Pokéball. N strode over and extended a hand to him.

“A word to the wise: Psychic-type moves like that will have no effect on Dark-type Pokémon like my Purrloin.” he explained. “Your Pokémon put in a tremendous effort however; you should be very proud.” he continued as he helped David up.

“Despite your loss here today, I sense great things in you, David. You and I will meet again in the future; our paths will cross many times in fact.” N said ominously. “I hope someday you will consider what I have said and you will help me create that new world for Pokémon. Until that day, I will bid you adieu.” he continued. With that, he put his hands in his pockets, and slowly walked away.

* * *

Later that night at the Accumula Pokémon Center, after all the Pokémon had been healed and they were all resting, David, Cheren and Bianca sat in the Center’s lobby and discussed the events that had transpired that day.

“I just don’t understand it. ‘Pokémon Liberation…’ what a load of Bouffalant crap.” Cheren scoffed.

“Do you really think that strange man meant what he said? About being raised by Pokémon?” Bianca asked nervously.

“Who knows… probably not.” Cheren replied. “I think he’s just crazy, but whatever.” he continued, staring off into space.

“I just wish I had been able to win my first trainer battle.” David muttered disappointedly. “We beat a bunch of wild Patrat and Lillipup on the way here, but my first battle against another human trainer will always be a loss now…” he continued, putting his palm to his cheek. Bianca frowned and put her hand on his arm.

“Oh, David… don’t be down on yourself about that.” she said soothingly. “It was just a bad type matchup, but you’ll get the next one. Your little Ralts is really strong, I can tell!” she continued. David looked at her and saw a real sense of conviction in her eyes. She wore a big smile and her eyes gleamed in the light from the fireplace. She was right; Paula wasn’t upset, N wasn’t a jerk about it, and it was technically a bad type matchup. He shouldn’t feel too down about it, and try as he might, he couldn’t even bring himself to be with Bianca’s pretty, innocent face smiling at him.

“Thanks, Bianca. I guess you’re right.” he murmured silently.

“Well kids, I think I’m going to turn in.” Cheren grunted as he stood. David and Bianca broke their gaze and turned to look at him, Bianca trying to suppress a laugh at his peculiar remark.

“Turn into what? A bigger dweeb?” she asked as she giggled. Cheren drooped his shoulders and glared at her. His expression practically dripped with sarcasm and contempt.

“Hey, Bianca, I uh… I think I’ve got something in my eye. Can you take a look?” he said, stretching his eyelid open with his middle finger. Bianca gasped and brought a hand to her mouth. She extended her arm and flicked him in the nose with her ring finger. Cheren smiled and stood back up, walking off out of sight towards his room. Bianca turned back around to David and suppressed another laugh.

“I guess I should go too. Good night, David.” she said as she stood.

“Night, Bianca. See you in the morning.” David replied. As she walked down the hall, he watched her until she rounded the corner and was out of sight. His first day as a Pokémon trainer had been quite eventful; this was bound to be one Hell of a ride.

* * *

David rose to go to bed himself a while later. As he walked down the hall, he passed by Bianca’s room and noticed that the door was slightly ajar. He took a quick peek inside and saw her sound asleep in her bed. She was resting like an angel, the light from the hall playing across her golden blonde hair, the blankets covering her body, silhouetting it against the light. She looked so peaceful and calm, it made him strangely happy. As he continued down the hall, he heard a voice inside his head.

“I believe that you like her romantically, master. Am I correct in this assumption?” the little voice murmured.

“Paula, is that you?” David thought back.

“Yes, master. My Psychic power is growing stronger by leaps and bounds.” she responded. “I am mentally aware of my surroundings and can hear your thoughts even from inside my Pokéball now.” she continued proudly. David winced a bit and looked away.

“That’s cool, I guess…” he muttered. “Try not to eavesdrop too much though, okay?” he continued, a weariness staining his voice.

“You do like that girl though, correct, master?” Paula asked again. “Ms. Bianca is your friend, but you are attracted to her, no?” she continued. David glanced around furtively and rubbed the back of his head.

“What, Bianca? Well, we’ve always been best friends, but no, I’m not sexually attracted to her if that’s what you mean.” he lied.

“Master… I am talking to you in your mind.” Paula responded patronizingly. “You cannot keep secrets like that from me.” she continued with a giggle. David hesitated for a moment, pondering what to say next.

“Well… you know… she’s alright…” he finally admitted.

“Hehehe… I like you, master. You will be a good trainer, and you will make that girl happy some day.” Paula said, ribbing her trainer good naturedly.

“How will I make her ‘happy,’ Paula? What does that even mean?” he asked in confusion. Paula was silent for a moment before she replied.

“Young as I am, I can see things in your mind, even if you do not yet wish them to come to the surface. Give it time, master; accept the things you know to be true.” she responded cryptically. Then, there was only silence.

“What are you talking about, Paula?” David asked skeptically after a moment, but no answer came. “Paula? You still there?” he asked, but she didn’t speak.

“Selective muteness, eh? …that’s convenient for you…” David muttered in mild annoyance. He had made it into his room now and was lying down in bed. As he turned out the light, he thought about what she had said and about the events of the last two days. Given their plutonic history together, it pained him to admit it, but yes, to some extent, whether she meant it or not, he was perhaps starting to fall for his childhood friend. As he closed his eyes and let himself drift off, reluctant as he may have wanted it to be, David thought to himself an emphatic “Yes. Yes, I do.

As consciousness left him and he drifted off to sleep, Paula whispered a quiet “I knew it.” to herself. The little Ralts was quite content with herself…

19. Chronicles of Unova

Chapter 3: Dreams of Bianca
Updated Version

Part 1 of 2

“Eevee, Tackle!”

Cheren’s voice carried down the hall and into David’s room, gently stirring him from his sleep. Reminded of where he was, he turned to the dresser next to the bed and looked at the clock: 7:30am.

What the Hell? Is Cheren having a battle this early in the morning?” David pondered. Slowly, he rose from his bed to inspect the commotion.

Walking into the lobby, he could see his friend outside through the window, a look of determination and grit plastered over his face. Bianca was in the lobby too, sitting in one of the plush lounge chairs with her feet up, watching the battle unfold. David walked up silently and stood behind her, curious now himself as well.

Following his trainer’s command, Eevee threw himself full force at his adversary, smashing into it with tremendous strength. The foe’s Blitzle tried to dodge, but it had suffered so many Sand-Attacks that it was almost completely blinded. The Pokémon took the hit full force and was knocked to the ground, struggling to find the will or even a means to stand back up. Sand in its eyes, bruised and battered from the numerous Tackles it had taken, flailing just to regain its footing and find its target, the opponent’s Blitzle finally gave up the ghost and lay still, losing the urge to continue the fight. Eevee puffed out his chest proudly and stood up straighter. A smile of satisfaction spread across Cheren’s face and he called out to his Pokémon.

“Great work, Eevee! Stopped ‘em cold!” he exclaimed. Eevee turned to face his trainer and mewed proudly in response.

The opposing trainer walked over to his Blitzle, knelt beside it, and laid a hand on its face. Wiping the sand from its eyes, he said to his Pokémon, “Good job, Blitzle. You gave it your best.” He returned the Pokémon to its Pokéball and shook Cheren’s hand. The trainers exchanged a few pleasantries and then walked back into the lobby to heal their tired warriors.

“He’s been at it all morning, you know…” Bianca said calmly. “He and Eevee woke up early this morning and went out for some training. They make a really great pair, I think.” she continued. David looked down at her, surprised she had even heard him walk up. He looked back out the window and responded.

“I wonder what he’ll evolve it into.” he mused. Bianca stretched and looked up at him behind the chair.

“I would think that’s something he’d leave up to it.” she said. “If I had all those options open to me as to what I could spend the rest of my life living as, I wouldn’t want the decision being made for me. I’d want to pick for myself.” she continued.

“True, but I’ve heard Pokémon start to resemble their trainers after a while. I think whatever it evolves into will be a reflection of Cheren personally, even if only subconsciously.” David replied. Bianca shrugged as Cheren walked in from his battle. The trainer he had been battling against continued over to the counter to have his Pokémon healed, but seeing that his friends were awake, Cheren walked over to greet them.

“Hey guys, did you see that battle just now? Eevee totally kicked ass!” Cheren said excitedly.

“Yeah, we sure did! You two are getting really strong. You’ll beat Cress no problem; you too, David.” Bianca said excitedly. Cheren grinned and rubbed the back of his head.

“Thanks. I hope you’re right.” he replied. “Hey, Eevee and I haven’t eaten anything yet this morning. You guys want to grab some breakfast?” he asked. David and Bianca looked at each other for a moment, and then David spoke.

“I could eat.” he replied. Bianca shook her head though.

“Pachirisu and I already had a bite to eat, but I’ll come sit with you boys if you like.” she mused; the word’s stung David’s ears. There it was again; that subtle difference in how she was behaving. “You boys,” insinuating she wasn’t one herself. Not that she was, David knew that, but she had never gone out of her way to act so feminine before. Was it something about starting the Pokémon journey that was making her this way? Or something different about him? David couldn’t keep forcing the thought out of his mind when it came up so often; for the first time in his life, David was becoming increasingly aware of the differences between Bianca and himself or Cheren. Much as he didn’t necessarily want to admit it though, his receptiveness of the idea was also changing. The more and more he allowed himself to think of Bianca as a girl, and a pretty one at that, the more and more he appreciated and welcomed it.

“Sure. You can show us where it is.” Cheren replied. Bianca rose from her plush seat and stretched.

“Right over here…” she said, pointing down a hallway; Cheren and David followed after her, but David’s motions were on autopilot.

Oh what the Hell; what’s the harm?” David thought to himself. “We’ve always been best friends anyway; so what if Bianca is pretty?” he continued. David smiled as they entered the dining room after her.

* * *

A while later, after breakfast had been eaten and showers had been taken, the group of adventurers left the Pokémon Center and headed out for Route 2. Upon exiting the city, they had to pass through a large gatehouse. As they ambled through, the attendant flagged them over to come and talk.

“Hey, are you kids Cheren, Bianca and David?” the attendant asked.

“Yes, we are.” David replied. The man smiled faintly and retrieved a package from beneath the desk.

“I’ve got a package here for you folks from a ‘Professor Juniper’” he stated. “Someone stopped by here earlier and said to catch you three when you came through. Said you know her, and that you guys would need these. Let her know they got to you OK, will’ya?” the man explained. He pulled out a large box, and inside were three sleek new pairs of Running Shoes, two boys’ and one girl’s. The trainers were glad to have received their new present and thanked the man for holding them. They slipped them on and left the gatehouse; stepping onto Route 2, Cheren made them a proposition.

“These shoes are designed for running, right? There’s not a whole lot on Route 2; what do you say we have a race? First one to Striaton gets to challenge the Gym first, deal?” he asked. David grinned subtly at the bet, but Bianca’s face grew worried.

“I’ll take that bet.” David replied.

“Oh Cheren, no, come on. You know I’m no good at running, and even with these new shoes, I can’t really run in this skirt and heavy vest.” Bianca said dejectedly; Cheren wasn’t hearing it though.

“Too bad! Two out of three, Bianca! Last one there’s a rotten Exeggute!” he shouted as he took off running.

“Ack! No, Cheren, come baaaaaaaack!” Bianca shouted as she took off after him.

David grinned to himself and took off too, not trying to catch up to Cheren, but simply trying to keep pace with Bianca. He knew he couldn’t beat Cheren in a foot race, Cheren had always been faster, but he knew this would distract Cheren and he could have some alone time with Bianca. Maybe a little unassuming 1-on-1 time with his old friend would help him sort out his feelings for her. Cheren quickly ran out of view, and Bianca struggled to keep up the pace. David caught up to her and began running backwards next to her.

“Hey. How’s it going, porky?” he ribbed jokingly. Bianca shot him a piercing glare and a venomous, sarcastic smirk.

“Oh shut up, David. Screw this, I’m walking…” Bianca said, thoroughly winded from her short ordeal. David slowed his pace and continued jogging backwards just in front of his friend, still grinning faintly. She hung her arms and began walking slowly, trying to catch her breath; she noticed David wasn’t passing her up to catch Cheren though and asked what the matter was.

“Eh, I don’t really care about Cheren’s stupid race. I just wanted him to bugger off for a while.” David said, widening his smirk. Bianca regained her breath and straightened out her vest and skirt. David stopped and let her catch up, then the pair kept walking together at a normal pace.

Mission accomplished.” David thought to himself proudly.

* * *

The pair had been walking silently for around ten minutes. David had just been enjoying her company and presence, but he feared that if he didn’t say something soon, it might seem awkward. He decided to ignore his own personal elephant in the room with her and instead opted to ask her about Pokémon.

“So have you thought about how you’re going to beat Cilan yet?” he asked. “Pachirisu’s Electric-type attacks won’t be very effective against whatever Grass-types he throws at you. Did you ever even figure out what other attacks she knows besides Spark?” he continued.

“I’ve actually been a little worried about that.” Bianca replied. “My little Pachirisu and I have only been in that one battle. Cheren and his Eevee did all that training this morning, and you and Paula trained a bunch on the way to Accumula Town; I should probably train some more before I try and battle him too.” she continued; a mischievous grin began to peck at the edges of David’s mouth.

“Hmm… is that so?” he said, pondering something; Bianca raised an eyebrow and turned to look at him in confusion.

“Yes…? Why do you say it like that?” she asked. David stopped walking and put a hand to the holster on his hip. Bianca stopped a moment later and turned around to look at her friend. “David, what are you doing?” she asked.

“Bianca, I challenge you to a Pokémon battle! Right here, right now! You say you want to do some training, so let’s have at it!” David said commandingly, albeit with a grin. It was said that you could learn the most about a trainer from being in a battle with them and having to adapt to their movements; if he wanted to gauge his feelings for Bianca, this would be the way to do it.

“Wha-? Right now? But I-” Bianca stammered. Before she could protest, David took Paula’s Pokéball off of the holster and threw it out in between the two of them. The little Ralts popped out and struck a tiny fighting pose, already aware of what was going on.

“Ack! Geeze, alright. Pachirisu, go!” Bianca shouted, throwing the ball out to meet the challenge.

“I know we need to practice a bit before our Gym battle too, Paula, but what do you say we go a little easy on her? Let her gain a little confidence.” David thought, trying to broadcast the sentiment to his Ralts.

“As you wish, master. I will restrain myself, but I will still leave the strategy up to you.” Paula replied. David nodded and looked across the clearing at Bianca.

“Your move, Bianca. Hit me with your best shot!” David shouted at his friend.

“If you say so! Pachirisu, use Spark!” Bianca replied back. Pachirisu began charging energy in her cheeks and readied the attack; Paula stood still, waiting for either a command or to take the blow. After giving Pachirisu some buffer time to build her charge, David issued his own opening command.

“Paula, use Double Team!” he shouted. The Ralts levitated off the ground a few inches and illusory copies of her tiny body began flooding the clearing, encircling Pachirisu. It caught the Ele-Squirrel Pokémon off guard and she flinched, trying to determine which one to attack.

“Target practice… if you will.” David said to Bianca with a wave of his hand and a twist of his wrist. Taken aback at all the new targets, Bianca struggled to think of a command to issue.

“Pachirisu, um… let’s see… how about you try Quick Attack!” she shouted; Pachirisu looked back at her trainer with a keen look in her eye, obviously having heard the move she was hoping to hear. The little squirrel began running very quickly in a circle, building up a small dust cloud in the dirt around her. She widened the radius of the path little by little with each pass until it was almost as big as the ring of fake Ralts surrounding her. She reached her top speed and then leapt into the air, crashing through each illusory Ralts one by one at a lightning speed. After exhausting every copy in practically the blink of an eye, Pachirisu found her mark and slammed into the real one; caught off guard by Pachirisu’s speed, Paula flew through the air and landed in a heap, dazed but not out. Pachirisu skidded to a halt and looked back at her trainer, a sharp grin on her face. Bianca was wide-eyed and shouted out to her Pokémon in congratulations.

“That was incredible, Pachirisu! You’re just full of surprises, aren’t you, sweetie?” she exclaimed. David had to admit, that was an impressive move. Any short comings Bianca had from inexperience were made up for by her Pachirisu’s natural skill. It was a very adept little Pokémon and knew how to handle itself. Play time was over now though; he wanted to at least land one solid hit before he gave the victory to Bianca.

“Good hit, Bianca, but consider it your last!” he shouted. “Paula, use Confusion!” The Ralts focused her mind and launched forth the blast of telekinetic energy. It caught Pachirisu head on out of surprise and knocked her backwards into a tree. The little squirrel sloughed off the blow though and jumped right back into the action.

It’s tenacious too, I’ll give it that.” David thought to himself.

“Is it time to lose now, master?” Paula asked him.

“I think so, but let’s try and make it convincing.” David answered. “Dodge her next attack with Teleport, and then let the hit after that glance you; fake going down from that.” he commanded.

“As you wish, master. I am happy we are helping your friend grow stronger.” she replied.

“Pachirisu, use Spark!” Bianca shouted. The Pachirisu took in a deep breath and charged up instantly. Taking that Confusion attack had really fired her up; she was getting much more adept at preparing the move, no longer having to charge up the energy beforehand. She charged at Paula, already covered in crackling electricity and power. Paula Teleported just in time to dodge it, but Bianca’s Pachirisu managed to catch her as she reappeared and course corrected almost instantly. Paula barely had time to cover herself before the attack hit. It hadn’t been enough to actually defeat her, but it was so well executed that she pretended like it had and went down.

“Ack! Paula, no!” David shouted, doing his best to hide his excitement for Bianca. He ran up to his Pokémon and knelt next to her. As he bent over her, he winked and Paula returned the gesture.

“You okay?” he thought to her.

“Achy, and a bit out of breath, but nothing a short rest won’t cure, master.” Paula responded. “I am glad we could help your friend. Her Pokémon is impressive.” she continued.

“Good job, Paula. Thank you.” David said aloud for show as he returned her to her ball. He stood up and looked at Bianca with a big grin spreading across his face. Bianca looked confused and excited as the realization that she had won crept in.

“Did we… did we win?” she stammered. “Did we just win?! Oooooooh YEEEEEESSSSS!!! Go Pachirisu!” she exclaimed as the little squirrel jumped into her arms. She held her close and patted the joyous little Pokémon on the head, pleased beyond measure at her success.

“Fine work, Bianca. I’m proud of you.” David said.

“Oh David, we did it! Did you see that? Pachirisu was amazing!” she exclaimed.

“Haha, see it? I was the one you beat, remember?” David chuckled.

“Thank you, David! I feel so much more prepared for my battle now! I was so worried when you said we should battle, but I’m glad we did. Thank you.” she said as she returned her Pokémon to its ball.

“Sure thing, bud.” David said, trying to hide how pleased he really was. This was the happiest he had ever been to lose to one of his friends at something before.

“Are you sure you didn’t just let me win?” Bianca asked with a wink. David’s expression blanked for a moment and his grin vanished.

“So uh hey, we should probably try and catch up to Cheren, huh?” David stammered nervously, trying to change the subject; Bianca giggled and the pair headed off.

* * *

After their battle, the young pair continued on their way to Striaton City. As they neared the city gates, they could see Cheren off in the distance pacing back and forth very angrily. He was muttering to himself with a hand on his chin and the other in his pocket. Occasionally he would shout something and raise his hands up before returning to his pattern.

“Where the Hell have you assholes been?! I’ve been standing here for like an hour waiting!” Cheren shouted angrily as they approached him.

“We took the scenic route.” David responded with a smirk. “Did a little training, saw a little nature… you know… adventure stuff.” he continued. Cheren shot him a glare that could have burned through steel.

“Well thanks the Hell for telling me that before I ran all the way here!” Cheren shouted; Bianca stepped between the boys and shot Cheren a similar look.

“I DID try and tell you that, Cheren!” she said indignantly. “I said ‘Oh Cheren, no, come on. You know I’m no good at running, and even with these new shoes, I can’t really run in this skirt and heavy vest.’ But you just went off running!” she continued; Cheren’s expression quickly blanked.

“Well yeah, but… even if you didn’t want to run, you could have at least not taken so damn long.” Cheren said dejectedly. “I’ve been standing here for ages…” he appended; David laughed at his friend’s sad response.

“Aww, poor baby. At least you won though; you get to challenge the gym first.” David responded.

“Yeah… well…” Cheren started to say, but he trailed off.

The reunited group started off into the city together and quickly found themselves in an urban metropolis. Striaton City was much more advanced than rural Nuvema Town or Accumula Town. Large apartment complexes dotted the streets, spread amongst the many office buildings and historical landmarks. For as urbanized as the city was though, there were still many old world charms about it; many of the buildings were designed in a turn-of-the-century style and were made of laid brick, aged and worn by soot and dirt. Portions of the city had cobblestone streets, and there were trees and small parks all throughout the town. There was one massive park on the western side of the city; mid-morning joggers were out and about and elderly couples had brought bread crumbs to feed the Pidove. It was beautifully landscaped with many sculpted bushes dotting the path in the shape of various Pokémon. A long, circular stream ran alongside the winding path, and Basculin and Goldeen jumped from the water’s surface into the air before returning to the cool blue depths below.

Eventually they came to a brightly adorned restaurant. The building was made of solid old brick, and had a veneer of aged, dark brown oak wood. Multi-colored flags hung from the face of the building, almost obscuring the large, carved Pokéball etched into the siding. The smell of New England chowder was drifting through the air as the restaurant began serving its lunch specials. There was a small amount of outdoor seating in the front of the building, and as they passed by, a young woman called out to them from it.

“David! Cheren! Bianca! You hoo! Over here! Come here!” shouted the woman, waving them down.

“Seems to be. Maybe this is Professor Juniper’s associate.” David replied. “Let’s go see what she wants.” The group left the road and approached her.

The woman was much younger than the professor. She had fair, white skin and tired looking eyes. She had a grin that seemed almost permanently etched onto her face. She wore rimless glasses and a large white overcoat. She had a small pink flower in her hair, matching her slip-on shoes and the pink sundress she wore beneath her coat. Her hair was long and straight, a deep purple in color and falling almost to her ankles. As the group walked over to her, she began to speak loudly and excitedly, rising from her seat to greet them.

“Oh it’s so nice to meet you!” she said excitedly. “Professor Juniper has told me so so so much about you three. I’m so happy you’re finally here!” she continued. Composing herself, she put a hand to her chest and continued.

“My name is Fennel. I am a Pokémon researcher just like your old teacher, Professor Juniper. Aurea and I actually went to college together if you can believe it. I was going for my Bachelor’s when she was trying to get her Ph.D. though.” she said with a laugh. “Aurea was always such an overachiever.” she appended.

“Well, it sounds like you already know our names, but this is Bianca…” said David pointing to her, “…and Cheren…” pointing to Cheren, “…and I’m David.” ending on himself. “It’s nice to meet you, ma’am.” he concluded.

“Oh it’s so nice to meet you three too! I’ve heard such wonderful success stories about you three. You’re Professor Juniper’s star pupils; that’s why she gave you such unique starters.” Fennel commented. “Come, would you care to join me for some lunch?” she asked.

“Sure! Thank you!” Bianca said happily. The group of adventurers walked from the sidewalk around to Fennel’s table and sat down on the patio to join her.

* * *

A short time later, as the group decided what they would have, a young waiter came up to the table to take their order. He wore a smart black tuxedo with an apron and had short, spiky green hair. He had small beady eyes and large ears.

“Hello, welcome to Château de la Ligue, may I take your order?” he said with a fake French accent. Fennel looked at her new friends and began to giggle to herself very softly when they didn’t respond to him. She looked up at him, still laughing, and replied.

“Yes, I think, hehehe, I’ll have the uh, hehehe, the um… hehehe, the clam chowder please, hehehe.” she said. The waiter winked at her and answered back.

“Ahh but of course; the chaudrée de palourdes for the elder madame.” he said. “And how about for the younger madame? What will you have, miss?” he appended, looking at Bianca.

“I’d like your filleted chicken breast please.” Bianca answered him politely as she closed the menu. Fennel began to crack up and laugh again as she saw Bianca finally look at the waiter.

“What are you laughing at, Fennel?” David asked in confusion. She waived her hand dismissively and composed herself, still grinning a big grin.

The waiter continued to smile. “Ahh, but of course. Un petit poulet for the young madame. And for you, sir?” he asked, looking now to Cheren.

“Hmm… what’s your favorite pasta dish?” Cheren asked. As Cheren now too acknowledged the waiter’s presence, Fennel began to snicker wildly once again. David shot her another confused look and she again dismissed him, composing herself but still grinning.

“We have a lovely fettuccine alfredo that is the specialty of the chef. May I recommend that for you, monsieur?” the young waiter said, now starting to chuckle to himself along with Fennel.

“That sounds great, I’ll have that.” Cheren said as he closed the menu.

“And for you, sir?” the waiter said, looking at David. David looked him squarely in the eyes and placed his hands on top of the menu on the table.

“I’d like to refrain from ordering until you two…” he said as he turned his gaze now to Fennel “…tell me just what is so damn funny.” Fennel couldn’t contain herself now. She burst out laughing and patted the waiter on the back. The young man rose with a grin of contentment on his face. He cleared his throat and clapped his hands together over his shoulder twice. From inside the restaurant, two other young waiters came to join them, their features similar to the first but one with red hair and one with blue. The three of them stood side by side and brought their arms together in front of their aprons. Fennel composed herself and spoke up.

“David, allow me to introduce you to Cilan…” she said, pointing to the original waiter, “…Cress…” now motioning towards the blue-haired man, “…and Chili…” she explained, indicating towards the red-haired waiter, “…the Striaton City Gym Leaders.” The trio bowed in unison before their audience and spoke in a like-manner.

“How do you do?” they said in chorus.

Fennel continued, “…and this…” indicating to the building, “…is the Striaton City Gym!”

“We three own and operate this restaurant, which we inherited from our parents before us, and which they inherited from their parents before them.” Cilan explained.

“The fine service industry has been in our family for generations. We now carry the torch, and have combined our passion for fine dining with our responsibilities as Gym Leaders.” Cress continued for his brother.

“This restaurant is a working storefront most of the time, but when we get a challenge, the tables and chairs are put away and the battlefield comes to life! Sizzle!” Chili concluded electrically; Cilan piped up again.

“Madame Fennel is a regular customer. She has informed us of your impending challenge, and we accept. The battles shall commence tomorrow at 10 o’clock sharp, right in between the breakfast and lunch rushes.” he explained. David sat dumbstruck as this wash of information flowed over him. He struggled to think of something clever to say back, as so to not look like a complete ignoramus in front of his friends. He slowly picked up the menu, looked it over, and spoke calmly.

“Well, in that case, I’ll have the filet mignon.” he said softly. Fennel chuckled to herself again, covering her mouth to be polite.

* * *

Once their food had arrived and they began to eat, Fennel piped up again conversationally.

“Well, seeing as you have the rest of the day to train for your Gym battles, what would you three say to assisting me in my research?” she asked. Cheren didn’t look up from his plate, but Bianca and David turned to hear her proposition.

“Are you three familiar with a Pokémon called Munna? Or its evolution, Musharna?” she asked.

“I’ve heard of it, but I’ve never actually seen one in person.” David said. Bianca mimicked his sentiment.

“Munna and Musharna are Pokémon very heavily associated with dreams. They are able to visualize and even enter the dreams of people and Pokémon as they are happening.” Fennel explained. “My current research goal is to understand the science of how they actually manage that. Munna have the ability to visualize the dreams of anyone they are near, but its evolved form Musharna can create a special ‘Dream Mist’ that allows one to actually enter the dreams themselves. Think of it like a portal that you can step in and out through to enter the dream world.” she continued.

“Wow, that’s so cool!” Bianca said. “Imagine, being able to see and even interact with a person’s dream while it’s happening!” she continued.

“Yeah… super…” David muttered, remembering the dream about Bianca he had had a few nights prior; some dreams were best kept a secret.

“It’s more than just ‘cool,’ Bianca. It could be the scientific breakthrough of the century!” Fennel exclaimed excitedly. “In dreams, you control the logic and physics behind all of reality. You could simply materialize anything you wanted into existence. If we could enter a person’s dreams and bring things back out from those dreams into the real world, anything could be possible! We could have time machines and flying cars within the decade!” she continued, her high energy not abating. “Other possibilities exist too. Many Pokémon tend to dream about other Pokémon, typically ones that can’t really exist. Imagine being able to obtain a Pokémon with a different ability than it typically has, or special attacks they can’t normally know! It could be revolutionary for trainers as well.” she concluded.

“That’s actually pretty amazing, Fennel. How is your research going? Is it all mostly theoretical or are you hitting any breakthroughs?” David asked. Fennel smiled at his intrigue and took a sip of her tea before responding.

“My associate and I are actually making excellent progress, but we have run into one snag. That’s why I asked if you three would like to help me.” she said. “We have been receiving monthly shipments of trace amounts of Dream Mist from a foreign supplier for the past six months or so, but the amounts we are getting are outrageously expensive and not high enough in quantity to really put to any use. We need to obtain a Munna or Musharna of our own in order to make any real progress.” she continued.

“There is an abandoned factory to the east of the city that was condemned and eventually destroyed many years ago. It has become overgrown with weeds and foliage and is now considered an excellent training ground for beginning trainers.” Fennel explained. “The citizens of Striaton City refer to it as ‘The Dreamyard.’ Many Munna live there, and I would like for you three to catch me one. I would do it myself, but I have no Pokémon of my own to do it with.” she continued. “It would be an excellent place to do any last minute training before your Gym battle too, so doing this for me would be beneficial to all of us.” she concluded. Bianca and David jumped at the opportunity and agreed immediately.

“Wow, sure! I’m in!” Bianca said excitedly.

“I’m in too.” David mimed. “If Bianca is going, I’m going.” he thought to himself. He heard Paula giggle very faintly in his head at that remark.

“Cheren, how about you?” Fennel asked. Cheren had been silent the entire time and had been focused simply on eating. Looking up from his plate, a bit of sauce dribbling down his chin, he replied.

“Nah, that sounds lame. You two can handle it.” he said tartly; David and Bianca were appalled.

“Cheren! Don’t be rude!” Bianca shouted at her friend; Cheren shrugged.

“Striaton City has a world famous Pokémon Trainers’ School that Professor Juniper used to teach at. I’m going to go study there as my last minute practice. Eevee is plenty strong; I just need to hone my own technique. I’ll meet you guys at the Pokémon Center later tonight.” he explained. David was surprised at his friend’s blunt rudeness, but on the other hand, it meant more alone time with Bianca, and he couldn’t argue with that. The four of them finished their meals and prepared to go their separate ways.

* * *

[Continued Below]

20. Chronicles of Unova

Chapter 3: Dreams of Bianca
Updated Version

Part 2 of 2

Leaving the restaurant, David and Bianca left for the Dreamyard, Cheren went to go find the Trainers’ School, and Fennel returned to her laboratory. She gave David and Bianca the address so they could find her and instructed them to come straight there once they had obtained the Munna. She gave them five empty Pokéballs each and sent them on their way. The farther east into the city they went, the more and more trees they began to see. Slowly, the city began to naturally meld into the forest and the skyscrapers and apartment complexes became pine and evergreen trees. They walked through the forest a ways and eventually came to the abandoned factory, just outside of town.

“Wow, Fennel was right. This place is a wreck!” Bianca said. The “Dreamyard” was nothing more than a large clearing in the forest, littered with the broken, abandoned pieces of a dilapidated factory. There were young trainers all around, having Pokémon battles and running and playing with their young Pokémon, but it hardly seemed like a safe place for children. There were gently rolling hills, small cliffs to jump from, ramps and stairs to play on and run around, and plenty of tall grass to house wild Pokémon to battle against. It was definitely a good place for trainers, but caution would certainly have to be exercised.

“You can tell there definitely was some kind of building here before, but it looks like it got hit by a goddamn bomb or something.” David mused.

The factory, or what was left of it, stood to the north of the field, rooted defiantly against the march of time. The poor old building was unwilling to completely fall, but it was unable to shine in its former glory. The roof was missing in most places and there were gaping holes in most of the walls. David suggested that they move farther into the facility, and Bianca followed right behind.

As they passed abandoned factory equipment and office furniture, they heard a sound coming from deeper inside the warehouse.

“W-w-w-what was t-t-t-that?” Bianca asked nervously.

“I don’t know. It sounds like people talking.” David whispered back. They were quite far within the old factory now, and the sounds and sights of the field outside had long since left them. They were all alone in the old building, the light from the holes in the roof casting menacing shadows on the derelict machines.

“Should we go check it out? It sounds… menacing, almost.” Bianca said timidly.

“I don’t know. Remember our objective, we need to find a Munna.” David replied.

“We’re also here to train and get stronger for our Gym battle though.” Bianca protested. “If someone is in trouble back there, this could be the perfect opportunity to do just that.” she continued.

Bianca had a good point, but this place gave David the creeps. He didn’t want to look unmanly in front of her, but he also didn’t want to get wrapped up in something bigger than they were anticipating. As David stood there considering his options, he suddenly heard Bianca whisper something to him.

“David… David!” she whispered in a panic. “There’s… something… behind… me!” she said. David slowly turned around and saw her frozen in place, a look of panic in her eyes and a cold sweat forming on her brow. Her body was stiff and her teeth were gritted in fear. He didn’t see anything behind her though, and didn’t know what she felt.

“I don’t see anything, Bianca; what do you feel?” he whispered back.

“Something… is… fiddling… with… my… hair!” she whispered in a panic. She felt a cold, clammy hand touch the bare flesh on the back of her neck and she shrieked.

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKK!!!

David jumped back in shock and saw the dark silhouette of a Duskull go flying off, chuckling to itself over its latest prank.

“You rotten little bastard.” he said under his breath at the Pokémon. Ready or not though, Bianca’s shriek had alerted the voices in the next room.

Hey, did you hear that?” one of the voices said.

Yeah, come on!” a second voice answered.

“Oh shit, Bianca, hide!” David whispered to his friend. The two of them ran behind a broken down machine and waited to see who, or what, came through the door…

“Alright, who’s in here?!” said the stern voice of a man.

“Show yourselves!” the second voice continued.

“David! I’m s-s-s-scared!” Bianca whispered in his ear. They were hunched over in the corner, hidden behind the machine for cover. She was knelt right behind him; he could hear and feel her breath and could practically feel her heartbeat.

Well, at least one good thing came of all this…” he thought to himself.

“We know you’re in here! We’re giving you ‘til the count of three to come out!” the first voice continued to say. “One…” he began.

“David, what are we going to do?!” Bianca whispered.

“Two…” said the second voice.

“I don’t know. I guess we’re going to have to battle them. Get your Pachirisu ready.” David whispered back.

“Thre- AAAH!” the first voice shouted. “Goddamn it, what WAS that?!” he screamed. The errant little Duskull went sailing off through the air again, laughing to itself wildly over the grand success it had been having that day. While the two men were distracted, David and Bianca leapt out from hiding and released their Pokémon.

“Go Paula!” David shouted.

“Pachirisu, help us!” Bianca chimed in. The two men stood to face their attackers, still reeling from the shock, but quickly realized just what they were up against.

“Hey, wait a minute, mate. These are just a couple of snot-butted little kids!” said the first man.

“Hey yeah! It’s nothing but a couple of no good kiddies.” his partner replied. “What the Hell are you two doing here? Trying to find a nice dark place away from mommy and daddy to go make out?” he continued mockingly. David blushed at the thought, but quickly snapped back.

“We should ask you the same thing! We heard sounds like an animal getting tortured coming from back there. Who the Hell are you guys?” he asked commandingly. The two men chuckled and stepped into the light, revealing their attire. They were dressed in the same uniforms as the Team Plasma guards they had seen in Accumula Town the day before.

“We are noble operatives of Team Plasma. We are here doing the valiant work of our Lord Ghetsis, and you little brats will not stand in our way.” the goon said menacingly. As he said this, he and his partner grabbed Pokéballs from beneath their cloaks and threw them out together to oppose Paula and Pachirisu. A Patrat and Purrloin popped out and stood to face their attackers.

“We’re going to have to Double Battle them, Bianca. You take the Purrloin, I’ll take the Patrat.” David said.

“I, uh… uh, okay!” Bianca stammered nervously.

“Paula, use Double Team!” David shouted. Paula hovered off of the ground and flooded the room with her doppelgangers, just like she had done against Bianca earlier in the day. The two Plasma grunts were taken aback and looked exceedingly annoyed.

“Screw this. Purrloin, use Fury Swipes!” one of the grunts shouted. The cat leapt into the air, bounced off of a machine and flung itself towards Pachirisu. Pachirisu took a startled step back, worriedly awaiting an instruction from her trainer.

“Pachirisu, try using Bide!” Bianca shouted. “I looked up some of Pachirisu’s moves in my Pokédex earlier. I want to try this one out.” she commented to David. Pachirisu curled up into a ball and flared out the sharp points along her tail and spine. The Purrloin slashed away with the first scratch of Fury Swipes and struck a powerful blow, but Pachirisu took it like a brick wall. The Purrloin grew annoyed and continued hacking away with the rest of the attack.

Meanwhile, the other goon was working his way through Paula’s Double Team, and had whittled them almost all the way down.

“Patrat, just keep using Tackle!” the grunt commanded. The little rodent flung itself at the nearest copy of the Ralts and, upon dissolving the fake, moved onto the next one. David knew he had to act before the real Paula got hit, and he leapt into action.

“Paula, use Confusion!” he commanded. Suddenly, all of the copies disappeared and the Patrat stumbled, surprised and shocked as the one he had been grappling with dissolved before his eyes. Paula floated off of the ground a bit and launched the blast forth towards the Patrat. It took it head on and was flung across the room. It knocked into its partner and fell to the ground in a slump, defeated.

The Purrloin got right back up and continued hacking and slashing at Pachirisu. She had taken quite a bit of abuse at this point though and started to twitch. The bundle of white fur and blue spikes that was Pachirisu’s body began to glow a bright red, intensifying in strength with each slash. The light grew stronger until it burst open and launched a hot wave of energy out at the enemy Purrloin. The little cat was flung across the room and moved no more. Both of them were down for the count; Bianca and David had won the battle.

“Yeah! Go Pachirisu! We did it!” Bianca shouted. “That’s a really great move.” she continued, speaking of Bide.

“Alright you bastards, nowhere left to run. What are you lot doing here?” David asked sternly. As he said this though, before either of the Plasma agents could speak, a timid “…munn?” came from behind them. A Munna poked its head into the doorway from the room where the grunts had been and looked around in shock.

“Forget this; quick, grab it!” one of the men shouted. His partner lurched forward and grabbed the little Pokémon; it squealed wildly in terror and pain, struggling to break free of his iron grasp.

“I’ve got it, let’s get out of here!” the man holding the Munna shouted back; David wasn’t about to let them get away that easily however.

“Oh no you don’t! Paula, use Confusion!” David shouted. The Ralts again loosed a telekinetic blast towards the man, knocking him over and freeing the Munna. It floated towards David, trying desperately to escape its captors.

“I’ve got’cha!” shouted the first grunt, grabbing the Pokémon before it could escape completely. “Give! Us! The! Damn! Dream Mist!” he shouted, smacking the little Pokémon with each word; the sight of such violence from a human to a Pokémon made Bianca shriek.

“Hey, stop that! Don’t hurt it!” she shouted. “Pachirisu, use Quick Attack!” she commanded. Pachirisu leapt into action and kicked the man squarely in the jaw. The shock and pain from the blow loosened his grip and the Munna was able to escape. It flew quickly across the room and hid behind Bianca, trying to stay as much out of sight as possible. David ran across the room, took a flying leap, and smashed into the grunt, delivering a tremendous Superman-esque punch to his face. The grunt flew back and landed square on his ass, dazed and bleeding from the surprise blow.

“Bianca, go! Get the police! I’ll keep these two here, hurry!” David shouted. Before Bianca could move though, an echoing voice spoke from the room behind the Plasma grunts.

That will not be necessary…” the voice said. The stern, imposing figure of a man came walking slowly in through the doorway in front of David. The man was dressed in eccentric clothing and David recognized him immediately; it was the man from the park in Accumula Town.

“My operatives and I will take our leave now. There will be no need for further violence.” the man continued.

Holy crap, it’s Ghetsis himself!” one of the grunts whispered, sitting up and holding his head. The ornately dressed man spun on his heels and turned to face the pair with fire in his eyes.

You!” Ghetsis shouted at the man. “You two imbeciles shall be SILENT. You two have failed me this day, and shall be punished for it. Such violence towards Pokémon shames our name and hampers our cause!” he explained. “Run! Run from this place while you still can. We shall rendezvous at point delta where I shall dole out appropriate penalties.” he continued, stroking his chin and seething with anger. Sensing his extreme hostility, the grunts quickly stood and backed away from him.

“Come on, let’s get out of here!” shouted the grunt David had hit.

“Our apologies, my Lord. We shall make right this mistake.” the other grunt stammered. The two of them quickly stood and bolted past David and Bianca, running out of the factory and screaming bloody murder. They were gone in practically an instant.

David stood staring at Ghetsis, not knowing just how to handle the situation. Ghetsis stood staring blankly back at him, and after a moment said, “Are they gone?”

David was taken aback at this comment, growing wide-eyed and confused; a moment later heard Paula say “Yes, it is safe to come out now.” though. The man standing before him faded from sight, dissolving into thin air before David’s very eyes. As he vanished, the Munna floating behind Bianca came out from behind her protector and a fully grown Musharna came into view from the other room.

“Oh wow! It was all an illusion!” Bianca said. “That Musharna saved us!”

“Saved us?” David shouted. “We had those two cornered and it let them get away!” he continued. Bianca put a slender finger to her lips and pursed them together though, indicating for him to be quiet. The Munna and Musharna had floated together in front of them, nuzzling up to each other affectionately.

“Aww…” Bianca cooed sweetly. “If that isn’t just the cutest thing you’ve ever seen…”

The mother and daughter floated together in harmony and happiness, joyous to be once again safe in their home. A mysterious purple gas began drifting out from the Musharna in her joy: Dream Mist.

“Bianca, quick, grab that jar over there.” David whispered, pointing to a jar sitting abandoned on a nearby desk. “Try and grab some of this stuff for Fennel.” he continued. Bianca began collecting the Dream Mist, and once she had filled the jar, the two loving Pokémon separated. David approached the pair with a proposition.

“Munna, Musharna, there’s a nice young doctor back in town who could really use your help. Her name is Fennel. How would you two like to come live with her?” he offered. “You’ll be safe from those Plasma goons if they ever come back, and you can live in a nice apartment instead of this run-down factory.” he continued. The pair of Pokémon looked at each other, considering the proposition and speaking amongst themselves telepathically. A moment later, the Musharna uttered a few strange sounds and nodded its head.

“They said they would be delighted, master. Job well done, if I do say so myself.” Paula translated.

“Then it’s agreed. Bianca, could you hand me two of the Pokéballs Fennel gave us?” David asked. Bianca handed him the balls and he gently pushed them up against the two Pokémons’ foreheads to catch the latches. They fell to the floor, wiggled three times, and then were still.

“Well Bianca, it looks like we just caught our first Pokémon.” David said with a sheepish grin.

* * *

“Oh, you two did wonderful! This is better than I could have ever hoped for!” Fennel shouted joyously. Bianca and David had just returned with not just the Munna she had asked for, but a fully grown Musharna and a full jar of Dream Mist. Needless to say, Fennel was very pleased.

“Glad we could be of service, ma’am.” David said with a nod.

“When your research makes that big breakthrough, I get dibs on the first flying car!” Bianca continued with a giggle. Fennel laughed along with her and embraced her two new Pokémon.

“You’ve got a deal, Bianca! Oh, thank you ever so much, kids; this will help my research tremendously.” she said, cuddling up to the Pokémon. “Actually… how would you two like a little down payment on that flying car right now?” she asked. A mischievous grin began to spread across her face as she made her offer.

“What do you mean?” Bianca asked. Fennel held up her index finger, indicating “just a moment,” and went over to a cabinet across the room. She opened the top drawer, rummaged around for a bit, and then found what she was looking for. She returned with a small disc-shaped machine and presented it to Bianca.

“Here you are, kids. This is a little something for all your hard work. It’s called a Technical Machine, or ‘TM’ for short.” she said.

“Oh hey, I’ve heard about those things.” David said. “You can use them to teach moves to Pokémon, right?” he asked. Fennel smiled brightly and nodded in affirmation.

“Yes you can, David! And this one contains a very useful move indeed: Hidden Power.” she explained. “All Pokémon have a hidden power, buried deep within themselves. This move allows Pokémon to tap into that power and unleash it in a powerful bolt of energy. Each Pokémon’s Hidden Power is different, and it can be any type of move. You could have Hidden Power Fire, or Hidden Power Steel, or Hidden Power Rock… anything! It all just depends on the Pokémon using it.” she continued.

“Wow, that’s awesome! I want to know what my little Pachirisu’s Hidden Power is!” Bianca exclaimed. She took the machine from Fennel and activated it. Small motors within the thin machine whirred to life and began to hum. Bianca called Pachirisu out of her Pokéball and presented the disc to her to use. Pachirisu seemed curious as to how the machine worked, but upon sensing her touch, it acted on its own and began to glow a brilliant, ice-blue color in Pachirisu’s paws. The light filled Pachirisu’s eyes, seeming to send her into a trance for a moment, and sent a battery of information streaming through the air in an instant. When the machine cooled down and the light faded, Pachirisu blinked her eyes a few times to clear her vision and had learned Hidden Power.

“Let’s go outside and see what it does, David. Thank you, Fennel! Good luck in your research!” Bianca said excitedly.

“Thank you, love. Good luck in your upcoming Gym battle too. Come back and visit any time.” Fennel replied as they left the apartment. Bianca, David and Pachirisu went down to the street and walked up to one of the decorative trees lining the sidewalk.

“Pachirisu, use Hidden Power on that tree!” Bianca commanded. Pachirisu doubled over on herself, charging up the energy buried inside of her small form. Once it had charged up, she spread her arms and let loose the blast. The tree shook and instantly froze solid.

“Hmm… so it looks like Pachirisu’s Hidden Power is Ice.” David mused. “That’s actually really awesome; Ice is very effective against Grass-types, so you should have no problem beating Cilan now.” he explained.

“Wow, that’s great! Pachirisu, you’re getting stronger every day!” Bianca exclaimed.

* * *

Later that night at the Pokémon Center, Bianca and David were catching Cheren up on the events that had transpired. They explained about the Dreamyard, finding the two Plasma grunts, about “meeting” Ghetsis, and about catching the Munna. Cheren was enthralled by the whole story.

“Man, I really wish I had gone now. I just spent all day sitting in a library reading dusty old books. What you two did is way more exciting.” Cheren said dejectedly.

“Well, that’s what you get for being a prick to Fennel.” David said back mockingly, stretching in his chair. “She even gave us a TM she was so pleased.” he continued. Cheren turned to face him in surprise at the news.

“Hidden Power, and you can’t use it. You didn’t come help us, so pppppth!” Bianca answered, sticking her tongue out at him.

“We taught it to Pachirisu. Her Hidden Power is Ice, evidently.” David continued.

“Oh, well that works out great. You get the easy Gym battle now, Bianca.” Cheren said jokingly. As he said this though, his face grew somber and he looked down at his lap. “That Team Plasma lot has me really worried now though. If they’re just a bunch of loons yelling at people in the park, that’s one thing, but such outright violence towards Pokémon… this won’t end well.” he continued.

“I’m sure the police will handle them, Cheren. I doubt we’ll ever have to deal with them personally like that again.” David said. “I’m just glad Bianca and I got out of there alright.” he appended.

“Can’t say the same for that one goon though!” Bianca commented. “David smacked him right in his face! It was awesome!” she continued excitedly. David blushed at the praise from his crush.

“Oh… yeah, well…” he stammered. Before he could say more, Cheren spoke up and interrupted him.

“When you say ‘smacked,’ what do you mean by that? Like, he ran up and gave him a sissy little slap?” Cheren asked mockingly.

“How about I show you?” David replied in equal jest, getting up suddenly to scare Cheren. Bianca giggled and Cheren shifted away in his seat.

“Now now, boys, let’s save the fights for the Pokémon, shall we?” Bianca giggled.

21. Chronicles of Unova

Chapter 4: The Striaton City Gym Battle
Updated Version

“Pansear, Incinerate!”

The day of David’s first official Pokémon League Gym battle had finally arrived. After dreaming about it all his life, David was finally about to challenge a real, certified Gym Leader for an official Pokémon League badge. Typically it was Bianca’s modus operandi to get super excited over things, but today he was right there alongside his friend in that regard. Though he had only been a trainer for a few days, he and Paula had already made leaps and bounds in their training and coordination. He felt confident in their ability to win against Chili and bring home the coveted Trio Badge.

He, Bianca and Cheren walked into the Gym and approached the reservation table. All the tables in the large, extravagant dining room had been pushed to the sides and the chairs placed neatly on top of them. Cilan was sweeping up the clearing in the middle of the room where the battles would take place, Cress was in the back washing a few final dishes from the morning rush, and Chili was practicing attacks with his Pansear. Upon hearing its trainer’s command, the fiery little monkey grabbed its tail and shot out a stream of fire from the tip, spraying a flamethrower that heated the whole room instantly. The move was quite impressive, and as quickly as it had started, the Pokémon cut the stream and leapt into the air behind itself. It spun around, performing a back flip, and landed on one of its hands on top of one of the tables. It was not just strong, but acrobatic and nimble; David reconsidered just how “easy” this battle might be.

As the group approached the reservation table, the young receptionist behind the counter spoke to them. “Ahh, bonjour, bonjour. You, ah… you have ze, ah… appointment, ze ah… rendezvous, with ze Gym Leaders, oui oui?” she asked in a thick accent. David nodded and answered affirmatively for the group. “Ahh, zen you follow me to ze, ahh… ze battling arena, ze colisée, s'il vous plait.” she continued.

The young woman picked up a menu off her table and walked the group over to the middle of the room where Cilan and Chili were. Cress came out of the kitchen to meet them as well.

“Thank you, Colette; please go and wait for us in the judge’s booth, s’il vous plait.” Cilan said. She curtsied and walked over to the far side of the room.

“Welcome, friends. Château de la Ligue welcomes you into its doors and hopes you will have a splendid experience. May we start you off with any appetizers this morning before we get started?” Cilan asked. They politely shook their heads and he continued. “Then we shall begin. Who shall be taking the stage first this morning?”

Cheren spoke up and said that he was; he had won the bet the day before and earned the right to battle first. Bianca would go next, and David last. Cilan bowed his head and stepped aside for his brother Cress to take the field. The two trainers stood opposite each other in the room and readied their Pokémon. Bianca and David sat behind their friend, while Cilan and Chili took up positions behind their brother. The young receptionist stood in the middle of the room and raised her arms up straight.

Ah today…” she said in a projecting voice, “…we have ze battle between Monsieur Cress, of ze Striaton City, and Monsieur Che-Ren, of ze Nuvema Town.” She stressed the two syllables in his name, pronouncing them carefully. “Zis vill be ze un ŕ un Pokémon battle, ze ahh… bataille, comme il était, between Monsieur Cress’ Panpour, et Monsieur Che-Ren’s Eevee. Vill ze trainers please release ze Pokémon, s'il vous plait?

Cheren silently drew Eevee’s Pokéball from his belt and threw it out into the room. The Pokémon leapt from the ball and stood proudly in the large dining hall. The scale of the room and the high ceilings dwarfed the tiny Pokémon, but he stood proudly and defiantly, ready to face the challenge.

Cress also drew his Pokéball and released it into the air with a triumphant shout of “Panpour, go!” The little blue monkey leapt from the ball in midair and gracefully grabbed a hold of the exquisite chandelier hanging from the ceiling. It swung from the beams daintily and landed with a soft “pat, pat” on the ground opposite Eevee.

“I vill be ze judge of zis match, le juge, and shall determine when ze losing Pokémon is unfit to continue.” Colette explained. She stepped back towards the kitchen at the far end of the room to get out of the way of the opposing Pokémon and swung her arms down in unison. “Aaaaaand, begin!”

Cress was faster and called out the first move. “Panpour, use Water Gun!” he commanded. The little blue monkey swung its tail around from behind itself and held it in both hands like a hose. It sprayed a fierce jet of water from the tip and hit Eevee dead on with it. Eevee went flying back across the room, trying to regain his footing to get out of the way of the blast. He couldn’t get traction before he hit the wall behind Cheren though and slid to the ground, leaving a trail of water as he went. Panpour stopped the stream, raising its arms in the air and shouting in celebration; there was a blank, almost unnerving stare plastered on its face as it cried. Eevee stood back up and ran back to the battlefield, shaking the water from his coat and clearing his head. He puffed out his chest defiantly, ready for his turn to strike back.

“Good hit, Cress, but here’s an even better one. Eevee, let’s use that new move we discovered!” Cheren shouted across the field. In acknowledgment of Cheren’s command, Eevee sat down on his hind legs and closed his eyes. His fur began to rise and flare up with mystical power. The room and even the very building itself began to shake, and Panpour and Cress looked around in shock. Eevee reopened his eyes; his pupils flashed every color of the rainbow and seemed to be channeling the very powers of Arceus himself. A blinding flash shot out from Eevee’s eyes and all returned to normal in an instant. Cress and Panpour looked around to see what had happened, but nothing appeared different. Eevee rose and puffed out his chest proudly and defiantly, mewing in challenge to his opponents.

“What was that? What did you just do?” Cress stammered.

“Never you mind that, pretty-boy. Now for some power; Eevee, use Tackle!” Cheren followed up. Eevee moved as if he were a flash. He launched himself at the Spray Pokémon, hitting it before it could even see where Eevee had gone. The hit knocked the Panpour off its feet and sent it flying. It did a tremendous amount of damage, disorienting and severely wounding it.

“Wow, that looked like it really hurt!” Bianca exclaimed.

“That’s because of Adaptability, Eevee’s ability.” David explained as he folded his arms. “When a Pokémon uses a move of the same type as itself, such as the Normal-type Eevee using the Normal-type Tackle attack, it gains a little power boost known as ‘STAB,’ or ‘Same Type Attack Bonus.’ Pokémon that have the Adaptability ability increase that boost by a small margin, making their STAB attacks much more powerful.” he continued.

“Oh wow, that’s awesome! Cheren’s really smart for utilizing that.” Bianca commented.

Panpour stood itself back up, clutching its head and trying to find its opponent. It was disoriented and tired, the Tackle attack having done a tremendous amount of damage to its frail body. It leapt back into the fray and Cress shouted for it to use Water Gun again; it readied its tail and fired, but this time Eevee jumped out of the way.

As Eevee landed, the flash of light that he had shot off earlier flew through the walls and came back to him, causing his fur to rise and swirl with power and energy again. Eevee had a look of grit and determination in his eyes; suddenly all the damage he had endured during the battle washed away, healed in an instant by his Wish.

Cheren turned to face his friends and grinned. “I discovered Eevee could use Wish yesterday while I was at the Trainers’ School. Red must have bred it into him. Guess my day wasn’t a waste after all, huh?” he said excitedly. Turning back around, he faced his opponent and shouted a final command. “Now that Wish has kicked in, it’s time to finish this. Eevee, use Quick Attack!” he shouted.

Eevee bobbed his head in acknowledgement and then simply vanished. He was moving so fast that he couldn’t even be seen. Panpour looked around in a panic for its foe, still disoriented from the Tackle it had sustained earlier. Suddenly, Eevee struck from behind and hit it square in the back. As it was falling forward, Eevee struck again from the side, then the other side, then the front, and so on. Eevee was unrelenting and uncounterable, moving so fast he couldn’t even be seen. As Panpour fell backwards, nearly on the verge of defeat, Eevee ran up behind it and stopped. The Panpour tripped over him as it fell, stumbling and landing on its head. Eevee jumped up with all his might, launching Panpour off of his back and high into the air. It came sailing back down to the ground and landed with a “thud!” It lifted its head and waved an arm, then collapsed, too exhausted to continue the fight.

Colette raised her left hand and turned to Cheren. “Panpour is unable to battle. Monsieur Che-Ren is ze winner!” she announced in her thick French accent. Eevee ran back to Cheren joyously and leapt into his trainer’s arms. Cheren was grinning a massive grin and pet Eevee on the head, congratulating him and giving him praise. He took a small Pokémon treat from his pocket and gave it to the little fox, which Eevee devoured happily.

Cress recalled his Pokémon and walked to the middle of the room. Cheren met him half way and the two trainers shook hands. Cheren was victorious, and had earned his first official Pokémon League badge.

* * *

After clearing the field and readying for the next match, Bianca and Cilan took up their positions opposite one another in the massive room.

“Ah next…” Colette shouted, “…we have ze battle between Monsieur Cilan, of ze Striaton City, and Madame Bianca, of ze Nuvema Town. Zis vill also be ze un ŕ un Pokémon battle, between Monsieur Cilan’s Pansage, et Madame Bianca’s Pachirisu. Will ze trainers please release ze Pokémon, s'il vous plait?

Bianca took Pachirisu’s ball out of her bag and threw it high into the air. The ball opened midflight and the Ele-Squirrel Pokémon leapt out, striking a pose and bristling with electricity as she gracefully touched down on the wooden floor. Cilan also drew his Pokéball and threw it underhanded into the center of the room, a smile of contentment and ease lining his relaxed face. A small green Pansage popped out and smiled at Pachirisu, preparing to spar with its new opponent.

“I shall again be ze judge of zis match and shall determine when ze losing Pokémon is unfit to continue.” Colette continued. She raised her arms above her head and swung them down in unison. “Aaaaaand, begin!”

Femmes first…” Cilan said with a flick of his wrist. His accent was strong.

“You’re going to regret underestimating me, buster! Pachirisu, Quick Attack!” Bianca shouted back bluntly. Pachirisu went down on all fours and began to charge at the Pansage, moving as quickly as her short legs would take her. Pansage stood perfectly still, waiting and watching as its opponent draw closer, all the while maintaining its vacant grin. Cilan stood calmly too, his eyes closed and a hand on his hip. At the last moment, he audibly snapped his fingers and Pansage dodged. It leapt straight up, Pachirisu running blisteringly quickly underneath it.

“Pansage, use your Vine Whip, s'il vous plait.” Cilan said calmly. As it fell back down, Pansage did a backflip and shot out the vines from the tip of its tail. The speeding vines launched forth to Pachirisu and caught her mid-stride, swinging her back around the room and crashing into the opposite wall. Pansage landed gracefully and stood to face Pachirisu, who herself stood back up and shook off the disorientation. Pachirisu was still very determined, but the first bout had fairly solidly gone to Cilan in terms of grace and damage output.

“Pachirisu, try it again! Hurry, Quick Attack!” Bianca shouted. Pachirisu shot towards Pansage again at lightning speed, determination and rage burning in her eyes for being duped. Cilan and Pansage were again calm and still, and again at the last moment, Cilan ordered his Pokémon to attack, this time calling for a Scratch attack. Pansage nimbly sidestepped just as Pachirisu reached it, extending its claws and raking the little squirrel as she ran past. Pachirisu yelped in pain and stumbled, falling to the ground and skidding to a halt on her face. Pachirisu stood up again, burning with anger and lusting for revenge, but she had taken considerable damage by this point and it was visibly showing.

Bianca knew trying the same attack a third time would be pointless; it was time to call out the big guns and use her secret weapon. “Pachirisu, use your Hidden Power!” she shrieked. David could hear the fire and passion in her voice, and suddenly got that funny feeling again unexpectedly.

Pachirisu was seething with rage and strength, just like her trainer. She launched off the powerful attack, filling the entire room with a wave of frost.

“Ack! Pansage, quick, run away!” Cilan shouted. The blast of cold air filled the entire room however, catching Pansage from behind as it tried to escape. The winds knocked it to the ground and did severe damage; Pachirisu composed herself and bristled with extraneous electricity. Bianca ordered a finishing blow of Spark and she charged forth at the Pansage angrily. Pansage turned over its shoulder, still trying to stand after being knocked down by the Hidden Power, and saw the bolt of lightning screaming towards it. It tried to roll out of the way, but Pachirisu’s aim was true. She smashed into the Grass Monkey Pokémon and filled it with blistering current. Pansage was down, laying flat on its face, and Colette raised her left hand again, signaling that Bianca was the winner.

“Pansage is unable to battle. Madame Bianca is ze winner!” she shouted. Pachirisu ran back to her trainer, bruised and aching, but full of pride that she had won for her. Bianca squealed and ran out to meet her Pokémon. Pachirisu leapt into Bianca’s arms and she embraced it, cuddling her next to her face. She knelt on the ground, hugging her Pokémon and losing sense of everything else around her. Cilan returned Pansage to its Pokéball and, like his brother before him, walked out to shake Bianca’s hand. She too had won her Gym battle, and had earned herself her own Trio Badge.

* * *

Now it was David’s turn. He was the last one to battle, and the only one without a badge. Everything was riding on this battle, and as certain as he was in he and Paula’s abilities, he couldn’t help but feel nervous. Colette began her announcement for the third time that day.

“Ahh finally, we have ze battle between Monsieur Chili, of ze Striaton City, and Monsieur David, of ze Nuvema Town. Zis vill be ze final un ŕ un Pokémon battle of ze day, between Monsieur Chili’s Pansear, et Monsieur David’s Ralts. Will ze trainers please release ze Pokémon, s'il vous plait?

David took hold of Paula’s Pokéball and threw it gently into the arena. The little Ralts popped out and floated off of the ground, filling the room with a soft, melodic cry.

“Have no fear, master; we will win. I have a few tricks up my sleeve even my wonderful trainer does not know about yet.” he heard Paula say in his head. He wondered what she could mean, but noticed that she did seem to have a certain sheen to her; a glow that seemed to resonate with power, energy and strength. “Thank you, master; I noticed it too.” she interrupted.

Chili clutched his Pokéball and threw it emphatically into the middle of the room. He was the most rough-and-tumble of the brothers; his choice of Pokémon was a reflection of his fiery personality and battling style. His Pansear flew out from the ball and landed with an audible “thud!” on the ground; it was a striking difference to the more graceful entrances his brothers’ Pokémon had made.

“Get ready to get burned, kid! We’re about to sizzle, yow!” he shouted. David turned his gaze from Paula to his opponent, not sure if he should be intimidated by the comment or amused by it. Colette spoke up and repeated her instructions to the trainers for the final time that day.

“I shall be ze judge of zis final match and shall determine when ze losing Pokémon is unfit to continue.” she said. She brought her arms above her head and swung them down in unison. “Aaaaaand, begin!”

“Paula, use Double Team!” David commanded.

“Pansear, hit ‘em with Incinerate!” Chili shouted in unison.

Paula quickly flooded the room with her copies, but Pansear shot them with the blast of fire as quickly as she could make them. Just as the blast was about to reach the real Paula, she Teleported away and out of harm.

“That’s a real fast-paced start to such a hot battle, yow!” Chili shouted. David mentally agreed, but he agreed by keeping up the pace Chili appreciated so much.

“Paula, hit it with Confusion!” he shouted. She reappeared from her Teleport and shot forth the blast, striking Chili’s Pansear, but it was just a glancing blow. Pansear sloughed it off and charged towards her, ready to strike back. Chili called for a Fury Swipes attack and it dashed towards the Ralts, claws bared and screaming wildly. It took a mighty swipe at her, but she again Teleported away.

“Keep it up, Paula; just keep Teleporting! Stay safe and we’ll wear it down.” David shouted reassuringly. Paula reappeared a short distance away from where she had Teleported from and the Pansear took another swipe at her; she Teleported away from that one as well and the pattern began again. The two Pokémon had a sort of dance going of Pansear taking a slash at Paula, Paula Teleporting away, and then rematerializing a short distance from it and starting over again. After several seconds of this back-and-forth though, Pansear managed to catch a lucky shot and glanced a blow, spinning her side-over-side and knocking her to the floor.

Paula was in a dire straight. She lay defenseless on the ground, trying valiantly to get back up and defend herself as the fiery monkey quickly closed in for the final blow. She was dazed from the hit and couldn’t Teleport away in time to avoid the impending attack; Pansear wasn’t going to let this opportunity get away.

“Let’s finish this, Pansear. Burn it with Incinerate!” Chili shouted with a devilish laugh. Pansear bounded towards his enemy, tail in hand, ready to launch the small flamethrower to finish the match. A Cheshire grin spread across its face as it anticipated its impending victory. David was out of options; he didn’t know what to do. He desperately called for Paula to Teleport away, but she was still reeling from the Fury Swipes. Paula leaned herself up on one arm, shielding her face with the other, and looked up to see her would-be attacker closing in. Just as Chili’s Pansear prepared to launch the blow, David heard Paula’s voice speak inside his head.

“This is not over yet, you ne’er-do-‘ell!” she cut. “Master, watch this!

In a brilliant flash of light, Paula summoned all the energy her tiny little body could store and evaporated in a blaze. It blinded the Pansear, spraying its fire all throughout the room in uncontrollable shock and surprise. Paula reappeared just below the chandelier, hovering gracefully in the air. She let out a cry and began to glow in a brilliant white. A blue aura formed around her silhouette and rings of like-colored light emanated from the glow. They wrapped around her body in a cyclical fashion, increasing in speed as they went. She slowly began to morph from one form to another, flooding the room in light and temporarily stopping the match. The light began to strobe and the blue rings moved up and down her tiny form too quickly to follow. They grew more and more frantic in their motion; in an instant, when the strobe got too jarring to stand to see, the bundle of light and energy that had been Paula burst, and something altogether new took her place. Floating delicately below the chandelier, the sight of a beautiful young Kirlia floated down to the ground.

Paula sang out a brilliant note and drifted daintily to the ground, pirouetting gracefully on her long, slender new legs as she landed. She turned to look at her opponent and struck a fighting pose. The Pansear was taken aback by the new form of its opponent and didn’t know what to do.

“Whatever; you think you’re so hot? Pansear, Fury Swipes!” Chili shouted. Pansear shook its mind clear and again rushed towards his new foe, claws bared and ready to strike. As a Kirlia, Paula was much faster now and Teleported away from the danger easily. With each Teleport to evade his Fury Swipes, she warped behind the High Temp Pokémon and gave it a taunting little smack on the back of the head. This enraged it, making each swipe more powerful but less controlled than the last. After several iterations of this, Pansear went into a frenzy and slashed wildly at the air. The newly evolved Kirlia teleported to a safe distance away and watched as confused little Pokémon flailed in desperation.

“May I please put it out of its misery, master?” David heard her say. He grinned and gave her the nod.

Kirlia, use Confusion!” he shouted triumphantly, knowing that victory was now within their grasp. Paula loosed the blast, now much more powerful than before, and it struck the confused Pokémon squarely, tossing it against the far wall with great power. Chili’s Pansear slumped to the ground in a tired mess and gave up the ghost; Colette raised her left arm for a final time and declared David as the winner.

“Pansear is unable to battle. Monsieur David is ze winner!” she cried. David let the sound of her voice wash over him. He lowered his head and tried fruitlessly to restrain the massive grin that was spreading across his face. He had just competed in his first Pokémon League Gym battle with his two best friends watching, and he had won. He looked up at Paula; she smiled and closed her eyes. She Teleported over to him and stood by his side, looking up lovingly at her newly victorious trainer. David put a hand on her shoulder and tried to think of the biggest cake he could imagine; Paula put a hand to her mouth and giggled at the message.

“Man… burned out…” Chili said, dejectedly recalling his Pokémon to the ball. He closed his eyes and grinned though, running out to the field to congratulate his opponent. David walked over calmly and shook his hand, then turned around to look at his friends. Cheren flashed a thumbs up and Bianca waved and blew him a kiss. He blushed at her gesture in particular and turned back to his opponent, releasing his grip. Cilan and Cress walked up to join their brother and began to clap politely for all three trainers. Cheren, Bianca and David had all won their Gym battles that day.

* * *

As the last of the lunch rush began to pour in, Cilan looked to his brothers who stood in the wings. They nodded to him in unison and he in turn nodded back at them. On their signal, he walked to the center of the restaurant with a Champagne glass and a butter knife in hand. He tapped them together several times to get the restaurant’s attention, and then began to speak.

“Welcomed and respected patrons of Château de la Ligue, we, the Striaton City Gym Leaders and purveyors of this fine establishment, would like to congratulate and recognize the latest group of trainers to leave our fair city with the honored Trio Badge.” he said in a booming voice. David, Cheren and Bianca rose from their seats at one of the centrally located tables as the crowd began to applaud. David and Cheren shook hands and bowed, while Bianca curtsied and giggled.

“It is my honor as a Gym Leader to award these talented trainers with their first Unova region Gym badge. May it be the first of many on their Pokémon journey.” he continued. Colette walked up to him and handed him a case with three shiny new badges in it. She too curtsied and backed away, returning to her post near the door. Cilan walked up to his brothers and they each took one from the case. Cress awarded a badge to Cheren, Cilan awarded one to Bianca, and Chili awarded one to David; the three friends looked at each other with mile-wide grins staining their faces. The novice trainers raised their badges in unison for all to see; the restaurant again erupted into applause and congratulated the young challengers on their victories.

One down, seven to go…” David thought to himself. This was bound to be the start of something great.

22. Chronicles of Unova

Chapter 5: Preschool Daze (Bianca Catches a Pokémon)
Updated Version

The morning sun shone down on Route 3 from a perfectly clear, blue backdrop. The sun was shining, the Pidove were chirping, and the ground was ever-so-slightly damp from a drizzle the previous night. The mist on the plants accentuated their smells, carrying the sweet scent of ripe fruit and freshly cut grass through the air. Wild Pokémon frolicked and played along the side of the road as David, Bianca and Cheren walked along it, and all of nature seemed to come alive around them. Route 3 was renowned across all of Unova as one of the purest and most beautiful portions of the region; with its rolling hills, lush green pastures, beautiful sparkling lakes and bright, inviting forests, how could it not be?

Having defeated the Striaton City Gym and won their Trio Badges, the group’s next destination was Nacrene City to the west. The city was a one-to-two day walk from Striaton, passing through the beautiful, winding countryside of Route 3. The area was home to a famous daycare center and preschool, with a sister location right next door for Pokémon. The daycare had been started by a young couple many years prior who had always loved children and Pokémon, but could never have a child of their own. Deciding to do the next best thing, they opened their doors to the citizens of Striaton and opened a daycare mixed with a preschool, which quickly grew and became famous around the region for producing gifted students and talented businessmen. They later opened a sister location in the building next door especially for Pokémon, which in time also grew famous in its own right for producing top-quality Pokémon eggs. It was said that the Pokémon born at the Route 3 Day Care Center always grew to be powerful warriors, so it was a hotspot for trainers too.

As they walked along the road, passing by the gates to the legendary establishment, they could see small children running and frolicking on the grounds of the campus. Teachers pushed their students gently on the swings, children played and laughed in the sandbox and on the slides, and the little boys always held the door for their female classmates and minded their manners among the adults. It reminded David of his own childhood, and gave him a warm feeling for the future; the institution was continuing to hold their standards high and produce well mannered citizens that would benefit the world. Next door, he could see small Pokémon in much the same role; being fed by their handlers, running and playing Tag in the grass, and enjoying the beautiful day as they awaited their trainers’ returns.

As these thoughts filled his head, he moved his gaze toward Bianca and watched as she took in the same sights and sounds. She had a calm smile on her face and her eyes shimmered in the sun. She swung her arms ever-so-slightly more quickly as she passed the school, and she had the slightest of springs in her step which wasn’t normally there. He knew he was beginning to fall for his old friend and think of her in a romantic light, he couldn’t keep denying that, but they were just kids themselves; they were only eighteen, just now reaching the prime of their lives and newly having embarked on their Pokémon journey. They would be on the road traveling and going on adventures for several more years before they settled down and returned to society; while the prospect of a romantic relationship with Bianca was starting to become an appealing one, the thought of children with her was something so completely distant to him that he almost couldn’t even imagine it. Watching her as she gazed at the tikes made it seem like something not completely unappealing at some point in the distant future though. She was swinging her arms right along side of him and her hand would occasionally brush up against his. He wished he could hold it as they walked, but knew he had to restrain himself; so close, and yet so far away.

A little boy who had been sitting on the swings and watching them as they passed jumped down and ran across the field to a little girl who was sitting on the stoop. He ran over and whispered something in her ear. A smile spread across her face and she looked at him and nodded. The little boy helped her up and the pair ran up to the fence.

“Hey! Are you guys Pokémon trainers?” the little boy asked. David shot his friends a quizzical look; Bianca and Cheren returned the sentiment and shrugged.

“Um… yeah? We are.” David replied curiously. The two little kids turned to look at each other, large grins spreading across their faces at David’s answer.

“Would you like to have a Pokémon battle with us?” the little boy asked politely.

“We have Pokémon too!” the little girl chimed in. A grin spread across Bianca’s face at their request and she clasped her hands together in front of her chest.

“Awww! How sweet! You two are just adorable!” she cooed. “I’ll have a battle with you if it’s alright with your teachers.” she continued. “Cheren, will you and Eevee be my battle partners?” she asked, turning towards her friend.

“Sure…” he replied coolly, “…but you’re right about needing to get permission from their teacher. Can you kids go get your teacher, please?” he continued.

“Sure! I’ll go get her.” said the little boy excitedly. He ran back to the swings and began talking excitedly to the young woman who had been pushing him. He took her hand and pulled her over to where the group had been talking.

“Hello, kids. Mikey tells me you three agreed to have a Pokémon battle with him. Is that right?” the teacher asked as she and the boy approached the fence. Before they could answer though, she looked down at the little boy and folded her arms. “Mikey, you haven’t been bothering these nice people, have you?” she asked disapprovingly. Mikey’s eyes opened wide in surprise and he shook his head “no” very quickly.

“No, Ms. Perkins! I would never do that! They said they would, didn’t’cha, guys? You said it!” Mikey insisted, looking up at his new friends. Cheren nodded in affirmation and walked closer to the fence.

“We did, ma’am. We’re in no rush, and Bianca here was so enthralled by his polite little offer, we just couldn’t say ‘no.’” Cheren replied. “Bianca and I would be happy to have a battle with them if it’s alright with you.” he continued.

“Well, they are much too young to be real trainers obviously, and their Pokémon are very young too, so please go easy on them, but I suppose it’s alright with me.” the teacher said. The little children looked at each other with grins as big as their faces and shouted “Alright!” in unison.

* * *

A small crowd had drawn to watch the battle. All of the school children were anxious to see their classmates in a real Pokémon battle with real-life, actual trainers. Even some of the teachers were in on the action. Bianca and Cheren released their Pokémon and prepared to fight.

The two children stood opposite them on the field, chomping at the bit to begin. “My name is Mikey and this is Amy. Get ready, trainers; here we come!” Mikey shouted. The little boy threw out a Pokéball and a small Lillipup jumped out, barking excitedly and wagging its tail. The little girl then threw out her own Pokéball and a Pidove flew out, cooing and spreading its wings as it took to the skies. The Tiny Pigeon Pokémon flew happily through the air, enjoying the feel of the warm, late-summer sun. The children’s teacher looked at Bianca and Cheren, and then to Mikey and Amy; satisfied they were all four prepared, she shouted, “Begin!”

“Okay Lillipup, here we go! Use your Bite attack!” Mikey shouted. The little dog ran clumsily towards Eevee and took a snap. Eevee jumped out of the way and landed to the side of his opponent.

“Sand-Attack.” Cheren ordered calmly. Eevee picked his hind legs up and kicked backwards at the ground. The Lillipup turned to face its opponent and took the spray of dirt right in the eyes. Blinded, it tipped over while trying to regain its vision.

Across the field, Amy shouted for her Pidove to use Gust. The Tiny Pigeon Pokémon flew up high into the air and flapped its wings with all its might at Pachirisu. Pachirisu dug in to try and withstand the strong winds, but was knocked off her feet and flew back.

“Ack! Pachirisu, use Quick Attack!” Bianca shouted. Pachirisu was still stumbling and flying backwards through the air, but as soon as she managed to find the smallest bit of traction, she took off, bolting forward towards the enemy. She leapt into the air and kicked at the Pidove, knocking it from flight and sending it spiraling towards the ground.

As Mikey’s Lillipup tried desperately to blink the dirt from its eyes, Cheren gave Eevee a finishing command. “Eevee, use Tackle.” he said; Eevee hunched over, wagging his tail in anticipation, and launched himself towards the Lillipup. The attack sent the Puppy Pokémon flying back, and it landed in a slump before its trainer.

Pidove was still reeling from the Quick Attack. It flapped desperately, trying to regain altitude, but was unable to catch the breeze. Pachirisu landed nimbly and stood, waiting for Bianca’s next command.

“Pachirisu, use Hidden Power!” she shouted.

“Pidove, use Gust again!” Amy shouted back desperately.

Pachirisu let loose the blast, the freezing winds rushing towards the spiraling Pidove. Amy’s Pidove tried with all its might to flap a whirlwind back, trying to use the strong winds it was generating to push the freezing blast back towards Pachirisu. The two forces met in midair, struggling to overcome each other; the tug-of-war was short lived, though to Amy it seemed to last forever. Pachirisu’s Hidden Power eventually overcame the Pidove’s winds though and shot towards it, striking it for one final blow. The little bird fell from the sky and landed next to its partner, tired and defeated by the type-advantageous Ice-type attack. Bianca and Cheren had won the battle.

“Yeah! Nice work, Cheren!” Bianca shouted.

“You too, Bianca.” Cheren said back calmly. Though they were happy to have won, the pair quickly remembered who it was they were fighting and looked at their opponents, worried at how they might react. The young kids looked at their Pokémon in shock. Bianca put a hand to her mouth and became worried, sensing the tears that were sure to follow, but to her surprise, none came. The kids leapt into the air shouting “Yeah!” and high-fived. Despite the loss, they were ecstatic to have simply had the opportunity to battle. It was something they wouldn’t soon forget.

The small crowd began to applaud for the trainers, clapping for Bianca and Cheren for their decisive victory and for Mikey and Amy for their good sportsmanship. The whole campus seemed alive and happy, proud of all their students and friends. The moment seemed to last forever, it occurred to David, and nothing could spoil their day. This was the kind of perfect, flawless moment that storybooks wrote about.

Quick, grab ‘em!

Two hooded figures ran from the road and onto the campus. They bolted onto the field and snatched up the defeated Lillipup and Pidove in their arms. As quickly as they had appeared, the pair dashed back towards the road and ran off with the little Pokémon. The entire campus sat dumbstruck at what had happened.

* * *

“‘Team Plasma?’ That’s what they call themselves? What kind of name is that?” the teacher asked, having listened to David and Bianca’s explanation. David sighed and shrugged his shoulders in response.

“I don’t know, ma’am, but they’re a bunch of crooks and loons. We’ve run into them before. They’re very dangerous and not exactly the sharpest tools in the shed.” he replied.

“Teacher, those men stole our Pokémon!” Mikey whined worriedly, tugging on his teacher’s apron for attention. The teacher sighed and put her arm on his shoulder to try and calm him, shooting him a strained smile.

“Yes, Mikey, I know. We’ll find a way of getting them back.” she said reassuringly. To be honest though, she had no idea what to do. Calling the police would do no good because by the time they arrived from Striaton, the Plasma agents would already be long gone. She couldn’t go after them herself because the school was already short staffed as it was. She wanted to appear calm and in control of the situation in front of the students as so not to worry them, but she was out of options and starting to panic. What’s worse, every second she wasted in indecision was another second the men were using to get away. A look of sickness was spread across her face.

Seeing her trouble, David spoke up. “Uhh, miss? You know… we could go try and get the Pokémon back for you… if you can’t.” he offered in a low voice. “We’ve dealt with them before.” he continued. Bianca turned to look at him with a gleam in her eyes, a large smile beginning to spread across her lips at his suggestions.

“Hey yeah, we can get those crooks for you!” she said, snapping her fingers as she spoke.

“I’ve never actually fought Team Plasma personally. I’d love to get my hands dirty in that regard, given the option…” Cheren followed up, rubbing his hands together and trailing off as he spoke. The three-pronged offer had a both instant and noticeable effect on the young teacher’s visible expression; her eyes unclouded and she looked up at them in surprise.

“You… you will?” she stammered. “Oh my, oh thank you! Oh my, oh my… thank you!” she shouted. She embraced each of them, wiping her eyes and laughing as she went.

“Yay! The Pokémon trainers are going to get our Pokémon back, Amy! Yay!” Mikey shouted with pure, simple joy. The look of worry was also gone from his small face, replaced in an instant by cheer.

“Come on, guys. We’ve got to hurry if we’re going to catch up to them!” David shouted, turning to run back down to the road. It had been only a few brief minutes since the robbery, not even halfway to being measured in two digits, but any time the Plasma agents had on them was time they could use to escape.

“We’ll be back before you know it, kids!” Bianca shouted too. The group of adventurers ran off towards the road, utterly determined to get the Pokémon back. They sprinted away, and slowly, the school faded from view.

* * *

Lennon was tired. Oh my God, was he tired. “The things I do for Pokémon…” he thought to himself. He was winded and breathing heavily. His legs burned and his heart felt like it was beating out of his chest. The heavy cloak he wore didn’t exactly help lessen the burden, and his sheath banged against his thighs with each agonizing step.

But he kept running. He ran without looking back. He put the pain out of his mind and just focused on putting one foot in front of the other, trying to put as much distance between himself and the school as he could. The Lillipup in his arms was passed out from its battle, unaware of anything that had happened in regards to its capture. Lennon looked down at the little Pokémon and redoubled his efforts; if he had to endure a little bit of running to keep that little guy safe, well… that was just a damn fine trade off.

He took a quick look behind himself to make sure his partner was still following. He was… good; and no one else appeared to be following them either. He could no longer see the school, so he shouted back to his partner.

“Hey! McCartney! Hold up a minute.” he shouted. The two men let their momentum run out and they eventually stopped. They ducked into the forest off the road and hunkered down, fading away into the shadows.

“Doesn’t look like it, mate. Team Plasma strikes again! Haha!” McCartney replied. Lennon shot him a grin, but he was breathing heavily and knelt over to catch his breath.

“I’m about to keel over. We gotta rest for a minute.” he wheezed. “Wellspring Cave is right up ahead; let’s duck in there for a little while and wait for the dust to settle. We’ll come out once night falls and return to the rendezvous point.” Lennon continued; McCartney returned his partner’s grin and nodded in affirmation.

“Sounds good to me. Let’s go.” he replied. The two men checked down the road to make sure no one was coming and then started back along the path.

Lennon’s heart rate had returned to normal and he had caught his breath. The Lillipup he held in his arms began to stir, so he looked down at it.

“Hey, McCartney, my Pokémon is coming to. Help me out, will ya?” he said. McCartney reached into his pack and took out some food and water. He handed the supplies to his partner and Lennon began to feed the little Pokémon.

“Hey there, Lillipup. How do you feel?” Lennon cooed soothingly. “You want some water? Are you hungry?” he said, offering it the food. The Lillipup looked up at him, its young mind utterly confused and befuddled by the strange new man looking down at him. It tried to let out a weak little bark, but it was too tired. It took a small dribble of water and then fell back asleep in Lennon’s arms.

“Don’t worry, Lillipup; you’re safe with Team Plasma now. No evil humans will ever hurt you again.” he continued to murmur reassuringly. “Those stupid kids think they can control you, but they can’t. We can help you reach your full potential. You’ll be fine, don’t you worry.” he continued. He looked over to his partner and nodded with a smile.

Lennon had been walking as he tried to feed the Lillipup and hadn’t been watching exactly where he was going along the generally straight path. He had been accidentally veering a bit too far towards the southern side of the road and felt something tug at the bottom left of his tunic. The grip tripped him and he stumbled, hearing his clothing rip as he fell. He regained his balance before he tripped completely, but looked down and saw that his tunic had snared on a branch and torn. A small patch of it was waving in the breeze on the side of the road.

“Damn it… Goddamn it, I just got this uniform.” he muttered angrily under his breath. McCartney caught up to him and put a hand on his shoulder to calm his partner.

“Hey, don’t worry about it, mate. We rescued the Pokémon, didn’t we?” McCartney said. “That’s all that matters. We can fix it later.” he continued. Lennon looked down and sighed, but knew that McCartney was right.

“Yeah… yeah, you’re right. Thanks.” Lennon replied. “Come on, I can see Wellspring Cave up ahead.” he continued. The two men continued on their trek and eventually entered the cave.

Thank Arceus for Team Plasma.” Lennon thought to himself.

* * *

The group sprinted blindly down the road, Hell-bent on catching up to the thieves. Bianca wheezed and could hardly keep up, but she pushed herself with all of her might. She had always been a little big, and she knew it, but she had hoped going on her adventure might slim her down a bit. “I guess it has to start somewhere…” she thought to herself.

They ran forward, not knowing where they were going or what lay ahead. For all they knew, the Plasma agents had already left the road and begun traveling through the forest, but such thoughts would imply that they had failed; that was something they wouldn’t accept. Things looked grim, but they pushed on, knowing they couldn’t return empty handed and crush the children’s spirits. Suddenly, Cheren spotted something that gave him hope.

“Hey guys, look at that!” he shouted. They ran up to the little bush Cheren had spotted, sitting proudly along the side of the road. On any other day it would have just been a rosebush, looking pretty and adding color to the highway, but today it was so much more. Flapping in the wind, proudly on display for any kind-hearted passersby, was a small piece of gray cloth; the very same that had torn from Lennon’s tunic.

“It’s a piece of one of their uniforms!” Cheren commented excitedly. “We must be on the right path!” he continued.

“I see a cave up ahead. Maybe they ducked in there.” David mused; Cheren smiled and adjusted his glasses.

“It’s not just any cave, David. That’s Wellspring Cave.” he explained. “It was in the news a few years ago. You guys remember the Pokémon Roggenrola, right?” he continued. David and Bianca both shook their heads “yes.”

“Oh yeah, I remember about that. Something about them discovering it here or something, right?” David replied; Cheren nodded in affirmation and continued to explain.

“Right. Wellspring Cave, as the name would suggest, contains a natural freshwater spring, and a crew was trying to set up a piping system from here to Striaton a few years back to supply water to the city. The mining equipment accidentally disturbed a colony of Roggenrola, but they had never been seen by people before, so the crew essentially “discovered” the species. They’ve started cropping up elsewhere since then, but this was where they were first discovered.” Cheren explained. “You’re probably right, they probably did go to hide in there. It’s pretty secluded, so they could hide out until nightfall and make their escape in the cover of darkness. The natural spring could also be useful to them. We should definitely check it out.” he continued.

“Wow, Cheren, you’re pretty smart.” Bianca said, catching her breath. Cheren smiled again but turned away towards the cave as he spoke back.

“Thanks, but we should get going.” he said as he took off running again. David took off too, right on his friend’s heels, and the two of them ran for the cave. Bianca stared at them in tired disbelief and put her hands on her knees.

Great, more running…” she thought. “Remember your love handles, Bianca. Think ‘thin.’

* * *

Lennon sat next to the small lake inside the cave. The “liberated” Lillipup and Pidove were sleeping peacefully next to him, recovering from their battle earlier in the day. He looked at them and smiled to himself, knowing in his heart that what he was doing was good. He turned his gaze towards the clear blue water beside him and saw a colony of Basculin swim by.

“You see that, McCartney? That’s how Pokémon should be; free and wild, able to control their own destiny.” Lennon said to his partner. McCartney stood on lookout near the entrance to the cave. He looked to his partner and smiled.

“I tell ya, Lennon… Joining Team Plasma is the best thing that ever happened to me.” he said stoically. “You know my story, right? I was a nobody, working for some shithole corporate behemoth, toiling away 9-to-5 for the man, and for what? What was I trying to accomplish with my life? I didn’t want to keep making widgets forever; I wanted to do something to help the world.” he recalled. Lennon smiled, remembering when he had first met his partner. They had been a perfect match from the start.

“It was like a… like a shipping company or something, wasn’t it?” Lennon asked. McCartney shook his head and chuckled out a sigh.

“Aye, mate. It was rotten work. This job has its ups and downs, but at least now I feel like I’m really making the world a better place.” he continued. The pair smiled and looked away in silent reflection. It was a pleasant, strangely relaxing moment, but their tranquility was to be short lived.

This way!” a voice shouted from outside. The noise jolted McCartney back from his daydream. He poked out from behind his cover and inspected the path leading up to the cave.

“Hey! Hey, Lennon, come here! There’s someone coming!” he whispered. Lennon’s face grew stern; he rose to meet his companion and inspect the danger, but he was in fact right. Though they didn’t know them yet, David, Bianca and Cheren were running up to the cave, intent on finding them and returning the Pokémon. They looked ready to fight if it came to it.

“Get ready, McCartney. Time to prove our worth to Team Plasma.” Lennon said with determination. The two men backed away from the entrance and found cover deeper within the cave. They steeled themselves, ready to fight to protect the newly freed Pokémon.

Cheren and David burst into the cave, Bianca following a moment later. David spied the stolen Pokémon and pointed them out to Cheren.

“Jackpot.” David murmured. “We know you’re in here, Plasma. Come on out and we’ll give you a fair fight.” he announced to the cave. The two hooded men leapt from their cover and struck fighting poses.

“You’ll never take these Pokémon back! We are noble operatives of Team Plasma, and we have sworn to protect them with our lives!” Lennon shouted.

As he said this, they pulled Pokéballs from beneath their cloaks simultaneously and threw them out to meet the challenge. Lennon released a Roggenrola and McCartney a Trubbish; the Pokémon stood defiantly in the clearing, ready to fight for their cause.

David and Cheren shot each other a look, each seeing the gleam in the other’s eyes, and released Pokémon of their own. Cheren threw out Eevee to do battle with the Trubbish and David sent out Paula to fight the Roggenrola.

“It doesn’t have to come to this, Plasma. Just return the Pokémon and we’ll let you go.” Cheren said sternly.

“Screw! Off!” McCartney shouted back defiantly. “Trubbish, use Poison Gas!” he appended. The Trash Bag Pokémon opened its mouth and let loose the stench. It filled the room, choking Eevee and blinding him.

“Eevee, Quick Attack!” Cheren commanded. Eevee squinted, his eyes stinging from the thick cloud of noxious fumes. He found his mark though and took off like a rocket, shooting towards the Trubbish at tremendous speeds. Eevee’s aim was true and he slammed into it, sending the small Poison-type Pokémon flying back through the cave.

“Paula, use Confusion!” David said. The young Kirlia levitated slightly off the ground and loosed the blast towards the enemy Roggenrola. Lennon called for his Pokémon to use Harden, and at his command, the Mantle Pokémon became still. It stood like a statue, letting the attack wash over it. It hurt him, but he weathered the attack, his Sturdy body unfaltering.

“Roggenrola, hit back with Rock Blast!” Lennon shouted. It relaxed its body again and began hurdling projectiles towards Paula from its large ear. She moved out of the way just in time to dodge the first one, but the second caught her in the side of the head, knocking her to the ground.

Eevee was beginning to really suffer from the poisonous gasses, and was growing visibly faint as a result. Trubbish leapt back into the action after taking the blow, McCartney calling for it to use an Acid Spray attack. It shot the fizzling blast towards Eevee, the green liquid sparking and crackling menacingly as it sailed through the air. Eevee dove out of the way, not caring where he landed so long as the spray didn’t hit him and not being able to see anyway. The puddle of acid landed on the cave floor where he had just been and burned through the rocks, creating a small crater about an inch or two deep.

The battle began to disturb the wild Pokémon in the cave. The school of Basculin that had so interested Lennon just moments before swam to the far side of the lake, the local Roggenrola population scuttled into the dark recesses of the cave, and the Zubat and Woobat that hung from the ceiling began to fly out of the cave and into the evening sky. They swarmed towards the trainers en masse, screeching and causing a big commotion. David and Cheren ducked as the swarm flew past them, but they were heading straight for Bianca, who was still standing in the archway. Seeing the hoard of bats flying towards her, she shrieked and covered her head with her arms, shutting her eyes tightly in fear. They flew past her, ruffling her hair and knocking her cap to the ground. When she finally reopened her eyes, one lone Zubat had still yet to fly past, trying to catch up to the rest of the pack. This one was different than all the rest; it had a certain shine to it that the others lacked. It caught Bianca’s eye as it flew past and time seemed to slow as she watched it escape into the night sky.

Paula picked herself up from the Rock Blast and stood to face her opponent. David began to call for another Confusion attack, but he heard her speak in his mind.

“Master, I believe I have an idea. May I try something?” she asked. The last time she had asked if she could test something out it had resulted in her learning Teleport; if this was even half as useful as that, he would be a fool to deny her request. He nodded and she closed her eyes, focusing intently. David heard the wind outside begin to whistle, and then suddenly a torrent of leaves flew into the cave, shimmering in a mystical purple light. The Grass-type stream of foliage flew towards the Rock-type Roggenrola and slashed away at his sturdy form, soundly defeating him; Paula had learned the attack Magical Leaf.

The smog of Poison Gas was beginning to clear, and Cheren ordered Eevee to launch one final Tackle attack. He threw himself at the Trubbish, leaping over the puddle of acid that was still burning away at the floor. He smashed into the opposing Pokémon with a resounding “thud!” and sent it flying. The young Trubbish lacked the defenses to withstand Eevee’s powerful attacks and lay still, unable to keep up the fight; the Plasma grunts had both been defeated.

“Nowhere to run now, Plasma. Give it up, you’ve lost!” Cheren shouted defiantly. Lennon and McCartney both seethed with rage at his indignance.

“No more games, you brats.” McCartney growled. Recognizing they had lost the Pokémon battle, the pair of men decided to take it upon themselves to fight. They both drew their swords slowly and stepped forward to fight in place of their defeated Pokémon. David and Cheren gasped as they realized their intents.

“Paula, Confusion!” David stammered quickly in fear. Recognizing the rather quickly impending danger, Paula acted immediately and launched twin bolts of her telekinetic attacks at the two blades. She snapped the swords before Lennon or McCartney could react, the broken metal clattering to the ground noisily. Lennon and McCartney grew wide-eyed as they realized what had happened.

“Holy shit, man!” Cheren stammered. “I thought those things were just ceremonial; are you people crazy?!” he continued. While the trainers were still reeling from the shock, the defeated Plasma agents decided to cut their losses and just escape. Quickly scooping up their own defeated Pokémon, having to forego the kidnapped ones out of necessity, they dashed between David and Cheren and made a break for the exit.

“Hey, wait, stop!” David shouted as he realized what had happened. He turned to follow after them, but Cheren grabbed his shoulder and stopped him.

“What, are you crazy too?! You want to go after those maniacs? After they just tried to attack us with swords?” he asked. “We’ve got the Pokémon back; I say we let them go and just stay safe.” he continued. David scowled and sighed, turning away angrily, but had to admit that Cheren was right. He and Bianca went to go make sure the Lillipup and Pidove were alright, but Cheren stayed back.

As much as he knew he ought to follow his own advice, something was now burning within Cheren’s mind. He stepped away from his friends and ran towards the entrance of the cave.

“Hey Plasma!” he shouted after the escaping criminals. “Can I just ask you lot one question?” he continued. Lennon and McCartney were a safe distance away by now, nearly out of sight; Lennon shouted back.

“Whadd’ya want, kid?” he snarled impatiently.

“If you’re all about Pokémon Liberation, how come you use Pokémon yourselves? How are you any better than us trainers?” Cheren asked. Lennon’s face grew visibly angrier, which was surprising given his already enraged look of defeat, and he bellowed back.

“We don’t use Pokémon, you stupid cretin! Only wicked Pokémon trainers use Pokémon. Our Pokémon are our partners and friends. They are as committed to the Pokémon Liberation movement as we are!” he shouted back. With that, the two men turned back around and ran out of sight.

“Bah, what a bunch of loons…” Cheren muttered under his breath. He turned back around and returned to the cave.

“We don’t ‘use’ our Pokémon either though!” Bianca shouted as he approached, having overheard their short conversation. “Pachirisu and I are friends, and I know the same is true of you and your Pokémon.” she said to the boys. David sighed and picked up the two kidnapped Pokémon.

“There’s no reasoning with them, Bianca. They’re going to see Pokémon battles as cock fighting no matter what you tell them to the contrary.” he explained. “The only thing any right-minded person can do is stand to oppose them, and unfortunately, it looks like we’re going to have to keep doing just that.” he continued.

“I wish you were wrong… but I know you’re right…” Bianca said dejectedly. “Pokémon battles are about developing skill and understanding. Trainers don’t fight to hurt their Pokémon, we do it to improve ourselves.” she continued. The group grew somber and slowly returned to the school.

* * *

Oh my goodness! They’re back!” the young teacher shouted, covering her mouth as she saw them approaching. David, Bianca and Cheren were slowly walking back up the road towards the school, carrying the stolen Pokémon safely in their arms. The students and teachers all rushed to the gates to meet the wandering heroes and learn the outcome of the chase.

“Trainers! Pokémon trainers! Did you bring us back our Pokémon?” Mikey and Amy shouted in unison. Bianca smiled and showed Amy her Pidove.

“We sure did! Your Pokémon are perfectly safe and sound!” she said cheerily. David and Bianca set the Pokémon down on the ground before their trainers; the kids ran towards them exclaiming cries of joy. The Pidove and Lillipup saw their trainers and ran up to meet them; Lillipup leapt into Mikey, knocking him down and licking his face excitedly, while Pidove flew into Amy’s arms and cooed lovingly. The children embraced their Pokémon and screamed with joy.

“Thank you, trainers! We love our Pokémon, and you brought them back to us!” Amy shouted through her laughter.

“All in a day’s work, ma’am.” David said, bowing dramatically in jest.

“I don’t know how I can ever repay you, kids. You’ve done a wonderful thing today. Thank you, thank you, thank you!” the teacher said excitedly. The three young adventurers turned to face her and smiled with a nod.

“We don’t need any kind of payment, ma’am. We’re happy to have helped.” Cheren replied. “Our Pokémon grew stronger, we logged a few new Pokédex entries, and David’s Kirlia even learned a new attack. Helping the kids is reward enough for us.” he explained.

The group said their good-byes to the kids and headed on their way back down the road; they needed to make a bit more progress through Route 3 before making camp if they were going to make it to Nacrene City on schedule. It had been a rocky day, but it had all turned out in the end.

* * *

Bianca sat still, looking out at the crystal clear lake as it shimmered in the moonlight. Her friends were sound asleep next to her, their campfire dying down and the sounds of the night growing softer around her. She looked up at the stars and drifted off into thought. She kept thinking about the battle earlier that day and the wave of Zubat and Woobat that had rushed past her as they fled. She could still feel their wings slapping gently against her face and arms if she thought about it; it made her shutter to remember. Normally she wasn’t afraid of bats, but being so surrounded by them made her feel uncomfortable. Beside her, Cheren let out a loud snore and broke her concentration; she looked at her sleeping friends and tried to do the same.

She lay in her bag, watching the campfire die off and trying to let sleep come to her. She could feel her eyes sting with tiredness and her legs still ached from before, but try as she might, she just couldn’t sleep. She kept thinking about that special Zubat she had seen fly past her last; there was something about it that had caught her eye. It had a shimmer to it, a kind of a shine, and in the dim cave light, it had almost looked green as opposed to the standard blue. She shut her eyes tightly, trying to forget about it and go to sleep, but she couldn’t. Frustrated and determined, she got out of her bag and slipped into her clothes.

She gathered her things and walked a short distance from their campsite. She released Pachirisu from her ball and the little squirrel popped out, wiping the sleep from her eyes.

“Pachirisu, are you awake?” Bianca whispered. “How would you like to go catch a new Pokémon?” she asked. Pachirisu looked tired, her eyelids drooping, but she shut her eyes tightly and bristled with electricity for a moment to wake herself up. The small jolt shocked her awake and she growled with determination.

“That’s my girl.” Bianca murmured.

* * *

The pair approached Wellspring Cave nervously, armed with only a flashlight and their wits. Bianca shuttered, but Pachirisu reassured her trainer; technically they were armed with a flashlight, their wits, and Pachirisu’s modest command over one of the very elements of nature itself, so the Ele-Squirrel Pokémon was obviously a bit less worried than Bianca was. They walked into the cave and shone the light around. It was pitch black inside, the moonlight unable to penetrate its dark recesses. Many Zubat and Woobat hung from the ceiling, sizing her up as she entered their domain.

“Zubat?” Bianca whispered nervously. “Zuuuu-bat? Where are you?”

Suddenly, the mass of Woobat and Zubat that had left the cave earlier flew back in, returning from their night of hunting. Bianca turned and saw the mob of flesh approaching her; she fell to the floor in a hurry, covering her head with her hands. She heard their wings flapping and could feel the wind being blown over her. As they passed, she rose and stuck her tongue out at them.

One lone Zubat again flew in behind them, unable to keep up with the pack. It shimmered in the moonlight and caught Bianca’s eye. It was the same one from before, she knew it. She was right about the coloring too; it was a distinctively green color with pink wings, markedly different from the standard blue-and-purple combination. She wanted it, and this was her chance.

“Hey! Zubat!” she shouted. The Zubat turned around to face her and heard a rock go sailing past its head. Bianca stood with a hand on her outstretched hip, hefting another one in her other hand.

“Now that I’ve got your attention, I challenge you to a battle! If I win, I get the right to try and catch you.” she shouted.

The Zubat screeched and stretched its wings. It flew towards her at tremendous speed and started to attack. Bianca fell to the floor again, covering her head with her hands. Pachirisu leapt from her side and grabbed hold of its tail though, taking the immediate initiative. The Zubat screeched again, but this time it was in pain; the Ele-Squirrel Pokémon hung on for dear life.

“Pachirisu, use Spark!” Bianca shouted up to her Pokémon. Pachirisu coated herself in electricity, and the stream of current ran up her arms and into the Zubat’s body. The Zubat fell to the ground in a slump, flopping around numbly and trying desperately to get back into the air. Bianca took out one of the Pokéballs Fennel had given her and threw it authoritatively at the little bat. It struck the Pokémon squarely on the back and sealed it inside. The ball landed on the ground with a “clink!” and was still.

It shook once; the Zubat trapped within was trying to fight its way out.

It shook twice, weaker now than before.

It shook a third time, and then… it was still.

Bianca walked up and picked the ball up off the ground. She stepped out into the moonlight and looked at its surface, utterly numbed by the success of her feat. She could see herself reflected in the ball’s shell and was reminded of when she was given Pachirisu. The little squirrel walked out of the cave to join her trainer and jumped onto Bianca’s shoulder. Bianca turned to look at her little friend and wrapped her hand around Pachirisu’s cheek.

“Pachirisu, I think we just caught our first Pokémon.” she whispered proudly.

* * *

“David…” Bianca said softly. She shook her friend gently to try and wake him, but he didn’t stir. She repeated his name again, a bit louder now, but he remained stubbornly asleep. Cheren stood up from in front of the campfire where he had been sitting and moved her aside. He pinched David’s nose and he jerked awake, gasping for breath.

“Let’s see how you like it, ‘Princess.’” Cheren muttered, walking calmly back to his seat.

“Wha- what?” David said sleepily. “What’s going on?” he stammered.

“Bianca says she has some announcement for us.” Cheren muttered in a bored and tired sounding tone. He was lazily and uninterestedly poking their campfire with a stick. “She wouldn’t tell me what it was though; she said she wanted us both to be awake for it.” he continued.

“I didn’t say ‘both,’ Cheren, I said ‘all.’ I want everyone to see this.” Bianca corrected him. “David, please let Paula out of her ball; Cheren, you too.” she continued, a grin growing on her face. David and Cheren let their Pokémon out and they all gathered around the campfire; Bianca stood opposite them with Pachirisu seated on her shoulder, both of them beaming a huge grin. She cleared her throat and straightened her skirt.

“Everyone, Pachirisu and I have a big announcement. We would like to introduce you to the newest member of our little family, Zubat!” Bianca said as she threw his ball into the air. The little bat flew from the Pokéball in midair and flew around the campsite a few times before landing on Bianca’s wrist. He shone in the morning sunlight, shining a dark moss green color. “Pachirisu and I met him yesterday when we stopped those Plasma goons, and I caught him last night while you two were asleep.” she continued.

David and Cheren both dropped their jaws. “Oh my God, Bianca, that’s amazing! Do you know what that is?!” Cheren asked, flabbergasted.

“Um, yeah! I just told you, he’s a Zubat!” Bianca answered, thinking he was trying to make fun of her; Cheren shook his head and rose though, recognizing that she didn’t understand.

“No, I mean, do you know what that IS? You found a shiny Pokémon, Bianca!” he quipped back; Bianca still seemed to not understand the significance however.

“Oh, what, the coloring? Yeah, I know, pretty, huh? He must be like… an albino or something…” she mused. David rose as well and tried to help explain.

“Bianca, I don’t think you quite understand what you did. It’s great that you caught your first Pokémon, but shinies are incredibly rare. Only 1 in around every 10,000 Pokémon in the wild are shiny like that. That Zubat is incredibly valuable and rare.” he said. Realizing why they were so surprised, a third jaw, Bianca’s, now too hit the floor.

“What?! Really?!” Bianca stammered. “Wow! That is not a small number! That is a big number!” she continued. She turned to look at her new Pokémon, smiling a mile-wide grin at the sight of him. “I knew he was special, but that’s incredible!” she appended.

“You’ve got to be extra careful to take super good care of that little guy. He’s quite the catch.” Cheren spoke up; Bianca shook her head “yes” so fast it looked like it might snap off.

“You bet I will!” she exclaimed. “Zuzu and I did a little practicing last night before I came back, and he’s really strong. I didn’t want to make the same mistake I made with Pachirisu, so I made sure to learn all his moves right up front.” she explained. “He appears to know Leech Life, Bite, Wing Attack and Confuse Ray, so there’s that.” she said excitedly.

“Well, welcome aboard, Zubat! You’re in capable hands.” David said, patting Bianca on the back and petting the Zubat on its head.

“He is difficult to read, but he indicates his pleasure to be with us, master.” Paula said to them all. “I welcome our new friend.” she continued. The Zubat let out a screech and leapt from Bianca’s arm. It flew around the campsite several times, joyously screeching to its new friends below.

A few hours later, after a short trek across the lake, the gang reached the entrance to Nacrene City. Their adventures in Route 3 had proven to be both exciting and beneficial; they had protected the school from Team Plasma, Paula had learned a new move, and Bianca had made a first for the group, being the first one to catch a new Pokémon. These memories swam in David’s head as he entered the city, but as happy as he was about these strides the group had made, he couldn’t stop thinking about his fight with Team Plasma. He grew more and more uncertain that Cheren was right about them being simply “crazy” every time he thought about it. They had such conviction and determination; they didn’t seem to be in it just for profit or self-gain. They seemed to almost think they were in the right, as if stealing people’s Pokémon made them the good guys. He knew they would be trouble in the future, and worried that future battles with them may not go so well.

Such worries when there was nothing he could do about them for the time would surely only lead to early aging however, he thought. He still held fast to his belief that while they may have to face small skirmishes against Plasma agents here and there, a larger police force of some kind would eventually be the ones to deal with the organization as a whole. Taking his mind off his worries with Team Plasma, the group entered Nacrene City and began to explore; it was here that they would battle for their second Unova region Gym badge.

23. Chronicles of Unova

Chapter 6: The Dragon's Skull
Updated Version

Part 1 of 2

The group of adventurers had finally reached Nacrene City. The pleasant little town was quiet and quaint with many shops and boutiques lining the streets. All of the buildings were made of wood and stood in neat rows and columns along the cobblestone roads. The town was surrounded on all sides by lush, thick pine forests, and the air was cool and thin. Many people could be seen talking around town as bells rang to mark their arrivals and departures from stores. Commerce hustled and bustled in the quaint, small-town Main Street, and flags flew in front of every shop. The people here were simple and good, living on their means and enjoying the atmosphere of community and family. Many travelers like David and his friends passed through this town, sampling the wares and goods of the local merchants and bringing a steady flow of goods and cash into the small economy. Everywhere one went, the people looked wholesome and friendly. This town was the epitome of “good,” and it resonated with the group.

“This city is so… well, charming, I guess.” David commented. “Everything looks so old and rural, like it sprang up from the ground a few centuries ago and hasn’t changed since.” he continued.

“That’s because it hasn’t.” Cheren mused, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “Nacrene City used to be a logging settlement and eventually grew into this town. The warehouses were abandoned and the people moved into them, repurposing them as homes or shops. That’s why everything looks like it does and is so simple; these people live with what they found and have opted not to change it.” he explained.

“So what’s that big building over there?” Bianca asked. She pointed at a massive stone building, towering over the rest of the city, sitting against the northern edge of town. No matter where you were in the city, you could see at least some part of the giant structure, its aged white bricks shimmering in the sunlight. It was designed in a Greek style with massive columns supporting the triangular ceiling. Large marble steps rose up from the street into its open doors, giving the building an imposing air.

“That’s the Nacrene City Gym, Bianca.” Cheren answered her. “The Gym Leader there is a woman named Lenora. It doubles as an archaeology museum, of which she is also the curator and number one contributor. She is an archaeologist by trade.” he continued.

“An archaeologist you say?” David asked. “Does that mean she uses Rock-types then? Or Steel-types maybe?” he continued. Cheren shook his head though and chuckled slightly.

“No, actually, believe it or not she uses Normal-type Pokémon.” he answered. “Unova has one Ground-type Gym Leader, Driftveil City’s Clay, but no Rock or Steel-type Gyms.” he continued. “Why an archaeologist would use Normal-types I can’t answer, but you’re right in that seeming strange.” he appended.

“Oh… well, okay…” David muttered, trailing off. “Do you guys want to go check it out? We can look at the museum today and battle her tomorrow I guess.” he continued.

“Sure. Going to a nice, quiet museum sounds pretty nice after all the excitement on Route 3.” Cheren said. The group headed off towards the building, anxious to meet their next opponent.

* * *

The town was quiet and peaceful, all save for one exception. A construction crew was noisily doing work on the roof of the Gym, hauling equipment and tools up and down the walls of the eastern side of the building. The commotion was noisy and broke the quiet air of the little town, but for a building that size, maintenance had to be done regularly, David assumed.

They approached the grand marble steps and spied someone sitting on them, looking up at the workers with a subtle grin on his face. They recognized the man immediately and walked up to him.

“N? Is that you?” David asked in shock. N turned his gaze towards the group and a look of happy surprise spread across his face. He rose to meet them, his imposing height dwarfing them by comparison.

“David! And Bianca and Cheren; how nice to see you three again!” he exclaimed both excitedly and politely. “David, how is Paula doing? She recovered from our battle speedily I hope.” he continued.

“You– …what? You remember Paula’s name?” David stammered in continued surprise. “…um, yeah, she’s doing fine. She evolved into a Kirlia, by the way.” he murmured.

“Oh, wonderful!” N exclaimed. “May I see her please?” he asked cheerily. David was a little taken aback by his sudden request and overly pleasant demeanor, but he saw no reason to say “no.”

“I… um… I suppose you can.” he muttered, taking out her Pokéball. He released her from it and she gracefully popped out. N stared intently into the Kirlia’s bright, red eyes, a large smile spreading across his face. He put his hands on his knees and bent down to her level. He tilted his head back as if about to speak, but no words came. Paula looked puzzled and shocked, a look of surprise showing in her eyes. A moment later, David heard her speak.

“I am fine, Mr. N, thank you for asking. How are you managing to–” but she was cut off.

N continued to stare at her eyes, bobbing his head and making expressions as if he was speaking. Still no sound came however. David again heard Paula speak.

“Master David is a fine trainer, and I am very happy with him and Mr. Cheren and Ms. Bianca, but I am truly very curious; how are–” she said, but she again was cut off.

N continued his strange facial contortions and then David heard Paula speak again, now for a third time.

“No, sir, the thought never crossed my mind. I was bred in captivity; I have never known the wild. I do not think I would like such a lifestyle very much though, if compared to what I have now.” Paula said. N chuckled to himself and stood back up.

“You have such a polite Pokémon, David. You truly must take good care of her. We have just been having the most delightful conversation.” N said.

David heard Paula speak inside his mind. “Master, this man was just speaking to me in my mind just as we often do, and are doing now in fact, but I was not using my own psychic powers to make the connection. He managed the feat on his own accord; it was most peculiar indeed…” she said. David’s look of mild confusion turned to one of instant surprise; he turned towards N with a ghastly look on his face.

“Paula says you were just talking to her, but she wasn’t using her powers. N… are you… are you psychic?” David asked bewilderedly, slightly embarrassed for asking the question. N chuckled to himself though and responded.

“No, not quite, my friend.” he said through a chuckle. “I have spent so much time around Pokémon that I can speak to them and understand them non-verbally like that, but I cannot do it with humans or other animals. Pokémon are such wonderful and mysterious creatures, I do love them so.” he continued. There was a carefree, almost mystified sounding tone to his voice as he said the last sentence; he sounded as if he were on a cloud.

“Master, this man is most peculiar. He is not like most other humans; I can sense it in his heart.” Paula said to him in private. David heard a slight tremble in her voice; an uneasiness that wasn’t normally there. He mimicked her sentiment; something about N just didn’t feel right, but he could quite place his finger on it.

“David, do you remember in Accumula Town when I said you in particular were special?” N asked. “May I give you a little test to see just how developed your special power is? All I ask is for another Pokémon battle. You don’t have to use Paula if you would prefer another Pokémon.” he continued. N’s request snapped David’s mind back into focus; when he realized what the request had actually been though, he blushed and lowered his gaze.

“I, um… oh…” he stammered. “I uh… haven’t… uh… caught any other… um… Pokémon…” he continued, looking at the ground in mild shame. N seemed extraordinarily pleased by this news however.

“Oh you haven’t?! How wonderful!” he exclaimed. “I knew you were a good person, not wanting to keep the Pokémon trapped under our control. I like you even more, my friend. How about it then? Will you battle me with Paula?” N said excitedly. David remembered the resounding loss he has suffered to N in Accumula Town and was scared he would repeat it. N was so polite though, he couldn’t say “no,” even if the strange man was a little off the deep end.

“Sure, I suppose…” David stammered. “Can you not use another Dark-type though, please?” he continued reluctantly. N laughed heartily at David’s half-joking request.

“Oh I certainly don’t have to! Thank you for agreeing to take my test, David; let me just give you some room…” he said, backing away. David and Paula took up their battle positions opposite him in the street and N took out a Pokéball of his own. He threw it into the impromptu clearing, releasing a cheerful little Tympole to use in the battle. The Tadpole Pokémon flopped on the ground between them, humming a happy frequency to itself.

“You may make the first move, my friend.” N said with a smile. David cocked his eyebrow and loosened his shoulders.

“Uh… okay then. Paula, use Magical Leaf.” David said calmly. Paula focused her mind and the trees beside the museum began to rustle. The leaves flew from them, racing toward the Tympole and surrounded in the mystical purple light.

“Oh no! Tympole, quick, roll out of the way!” N shouted. His Tympole flopped on the ground with a look of worry on its face, trying to evade the storm of leaves. For every one it dodged though, another took its place, and the evaded leaf circled back around for another pass. Eventually the leaves began to strike the little Pokémon, draining it of energy very quickly.

“Magical Leaf is a move that never misses.” Cheren explained under his breath to Bianca. “Being a Grass-type move, it’s also very effective against N’s Water-type Tympole. Why would N tell his Pokémon to try and dodge it? I thought he said he’d spent so much time around Pokémon.” he mused. Bianca pursed her lips and shrugged her shoulders.

The leaves struck the Pokémon, stinging it and hurting it very badly. Tympole flopped on the ground a few last times, trying to stave off the pain as long as it could, and then collapsed. N ran out to his Pokémon and picked it up in his arms.

“Oh my, that was a resounding loss, wasn’t it?” N murmured. “Thank you, Tympole. We’ll get you medical attention at once, my friend.” he continued.

Oh, uh… well… that was easy.” David thought to himself. He heard Paula chuckle mentally at his comment and he smiled at her, turning his gaze from N down to his Pokémon.

“So did I pass, N?” David shouted across the clearing with a smirk. N looked up and smiled back, nodding in the affirmative.

“You certainly did, my friend. It is I who has failed this time.” N replied. “You have the power to make your ideals come to life and make everyone listen. I need more power if I am ever going to create my perfect world for Pokémon…” N trailed off. “I need a Hero…” he appended under his breath.

“Oh yeah, that reminds me…” Cheren began to say. “We’ve had a few more encounters with your Plasma buddies since we last met. They’ve attacked us twice, stole some Pokémon from a couple of toddlers, and Bianca and David found a pair torturing a Munna. Can you explain that to us, maybe?” he continued venomously.

“Oh noooo!” N said with faked sincerity. “They’ve been doing that? Well that just won’t do. Those people are officially on my bad list now. Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Cheren. I will not associate with those people any further!” he continued.

“Well yeah I- um… wait… oh…” Cheren stammered. “Well then… good for you.” he continued awkwardly.

“David, I really must get my little friend here to the Pokémon Center.” N said politely, indicating to his Tympole. “It was lovely seeing you all again, especially you, Paula.” he said, looking at the Kirlia. Paula felt uneasy being the center of attention; she took an uncomfortable step back.

“It was, erm… nice seeing you too, Mr. N.” David heard Paula say awkwardly. There was an almost nervous, uneasy tone to her voice; as N began to walk away, David heard her append something in private. “…you sad, strange little man.” David couldn’t help but snicker.

“Oh hey wait! N!” Bianca shouted. “Do you know what all this construction is about?” she asked politely. N stopped but did not turn to look at them. His silhouette went rigid and, though they couldn’t see it, his expression turned stern.

“I would leave them alone if I were you, Bianca. Those men are busy and working very hard.” he said sternly and condescendingly. N resumed walking and vanished from sight.

“Well gosh… I was just asking a question…” Bianca said, taken aback.

“That is one weird dude…” Cheren said dismissively, turning to walk into the museum. David looked up at the construction workers and shrugged, following his friend in.

* * *

“Hello, young people! Welcome to the Nacrene Museum of Natural History. My name is Hawes, and I am the assistant director of the museum. What brings you here today?” a dapper older man said as they entered the museum. He was short and clean cut, with short hair and beady eyes.

“Hello Mr. Hawes. My name is David and this is Bianca and Cheren. We’re Pokémon trainers and we’ve come to challenge the Gym. We were also coming to look around the museum if that’s alright.” David responded. Hawes’ eyes lit up and a big grin spread across his face.

“Oh wonderful! I’ll let Lenora know about your challenge.” Hawes said excitedly. “I’m so glad you’ve come to see the museum too though; so many challengers come to do the first thing and not the second…” he trailed off. “Would you like a tour of the museum?”

“Wow, that’d be really nice, Mr. Hawes. Aren’t you busy though?” David replied. Hawes chuckled and strode briskly towards them from his post behind the front counter.

“Never too busy to teach inquiring minds, young man!” he said with another chuckle. He began walking and motioned for them to follow.

“We here at the Nacrene Museum of Natural History have a massive collection of ancient Pokémon fossils and artifacts.” Hawes began. “Lenora is the Gym Leader, curator, and our chief contributor; she has found many of the objects on display that you see here today in our travels abroad.” he continued as they walked.

“Oh, haha, yes. I guess I neglected to mention, Lenora is my wife. We’ve been married for… well, for as long as I can remember.” he explained. “We traveled the world in our younger days, collecting artifacts for the museum.” he continued.

“Here you can see a wide variety of ancient Pokémon fossils.” he said, pointing to some stone tablets that were on display. “These ancient Pokémon were caught up in some sort of volcanic activity or massive flood in their time, and their forms were impressed into the rock below. They leave behind cavities in the Earth’s crust as their bodies slowly deteriorate away. Fast forward a couple million years to when we find the cavities; we fill them with a special plaster, break the surrounding rock, and voilŕ! A perfect replica of the ancient Pokémon’s bones!” he said excitedly.

“That’s super neat! I always thought you just found the bones lying preserved in the ground, but you learn something new every day!” Bianca said. Hawes beamed at her enthusiasm.

“Many fossils are discovered that way, but more frequently they are discovered via the cavity method. Constant learning is what we strive for at the Nacrene Museum of Natural History though, Bianca!” Hawes said excitedly. “The plaster technique was first used by Giuseppe Fiorelli in 1860 for the excavation of Pompeii. Nowadays a kind of clear resin is used instead of just plaster, but the concept is still the same. It is a common practice.” he continued.

[Author’s Note: On the excavation of Pompeii and Giuseppe Fiorelli’s plaster method. Yes, this is real.]

“Now this piece…” he said, walking towards a large skeleton, “…is my favorite object in the whole museum. Are you kids familiar with the Pokémon Dragonite?” he asked. David and Bianca shook their heads “no,” but Cheren said that he was.

“Dragonite is a Dragon-type Pokémon that is extremely rare and endangered nowadays. It evolves from a Pokémon called Dragonair, which in turn evolves from a Pokémon called Dratini. The species was long thought to be extinct, but in recent years, small schools of them have been found around the world.” Hawes continued. “This skeleton is a perfectly preserved replica of a Dragonite; a relic of the time when we thought they were extinct. Looking at it fills me with such a sense of majesty; I would love to see a Dragonite in real life…” he trailed off.

“Hey Hawes, what’s this little stone?” Cheren asked, pointing to a display. A small black stone with some ancient markings on it sat on a small pillow, sitting in the open air on display. It was perfectly round, like a ball.

“Oh, that? That’s just a stone Lenora and I found in our travels. It isn’t valuable or anything, we just always thought it looked neat…” Hawes said. “We discovered it in the Desert Resort on Route 4.”

Hawes turned to look back at the Dragonite skeleton and folded his arms. He looked up at the massive beast and smiled to himself.

“This skeleton truly is remarkable I think. Even though it has become markedly less rare since Dragonite were discovered not to be extinct, I still think it is just so beautiful.” he said, almost daydreaming.

Hawes began to walk away from the skeleton, moving on to show them something else in the museum, when suddenly, all of the lights shut off in unison, plunging the giant room into darkness.

“Hey! Whoa! What happened to the lights?” Hawes exclaimed in a startled voice.

“It must be a blackout or something.” Cheren commented calmly. “But in the middle of a clear day like this?” he pondered.

“Someone get the backup generators!” Hawes shouted to an aide.

“It was probably one of those construction workers outside, Hawes; one of them must have blown a fuse or something.” Cheren suggested. Though he couldn’t see it in the dark, Hawes shot him a curious glance.

“Construction workers? We haven’t contracted any construction wor– ” Hawes started to say, but the lights came back on before he could finish.

“–kers… oh… hmm, the lights are back.” he said casually. Everyone looked around curiously for a moment as their eyes readjusted to the light. Nothing seemed disturbed, though the reason for the short plunge into darkness was still unexplained.

“Well that was very pecul–” he began to say, but turning around, Hawes saw something that made him gasp. “THE SKELETON!!” he exclaimed.

Hawes turned around to look at the large Dragonite skeleton and saw, much to his dismay, that the skull of the proud beast had inexplicably vanished. There was a gap in the ceiling above it, one of the acoustic tiles from the roof lying next to the display on the ground. Some heavy cables dangled gently from the hole; someone had broken into the museum and stolen the skull.

“Oh no! Ooooh no! OOOOOH NO!” Hawes began to shout frantically. He bounced up and down on the spot, fanning himself with his hands. He pulled an inhaler from his pocket and took several deep swigs from it.

“Hawes! Hawes! Calm down, they couldn’t have gone far!” David shouted, but he couldn’t be subdued.

“I must go and tell Lenora what has happened! She’ll know what to do! Honeeeeeey!” he shouted, running towards the back of the museum.

“Come on, let’s go check outside. That skull had a big silhouette; they couldn’t just go running through town with it.” David said to his friends. The group ran outside and looked down the street for any sign of the thieves.

“Are these the kids you were with, sugah?” they heard a woman shout from behind them. They turned and saw a heavy set, elderly black woman jogging towards them, Hawes following right in tow. She was very dark skinned with a kind looking face and flamboyant green hair, standing up in an afro. She wore simple work clothes which matched her hair and a salmon colored jacket draped over her shoulder. She was very tall, just slightly taller than David.

“Yes, Lenora my dear, these are the kids. David, did you see which way they went?!” Hawes asked impatiently; David shook his head “no” however.

“No, we didn’t. I don’t understand; how could they get something with that big of a silhouette out without being spotted? How did nobody notice them?” David replied. As if on cue, before anyone could answer him, a man shouted something at them from down the street.

“Howdy, Lenora! You having a yard sale?” the man shouted. Whoever he was, he was walking up casually with a hand in his pocket, the other outstretched above his head in a wave. A cheerful, lighthearted grin was spread across his face.

“A yard sale? Wha-? Boy, you out of your flippin’ mind? What makes you think we havin’ a yard sale at a time like this?” Lenora shouted back to the man. His grin suppressed and he took a step up the marble stairs towards them.

“Well because…” he started to say back. “I just saw a couple of guys running away with some old junk from the museum. I thought you might be selling off some stuff…” he said; everyone else gasped at the news.

“You did?! What did they have, sugah? Was it a big skull?” Lenora said excitedly; the man cocked an eyebrow and answered back.

“Yeah, why?” he replied.

“Quick, Burgh! You must follow them! Those men stole it!” Hawes shouted in response. Realizing what was happening, the man gasped as well and took a step back.

“What?! Why didn’t you say so? Come on!” he shouted. Hawes turned towards David and his friends as the man began dashing away.

“David, Bianca, Cheren, you three go with Burgh. Lenora and I will stay here in case they come back for more. Hurry!” Hawes shouted. Without wasting another minute, the four of them took off down the street, heading west towards the forest.

* * *

The group ran through the streets, desperately looking for the men who stole the skull. They had no real leads aside from the fact that the robbers had been running in the opposite direction of the young man they were with.

“The name’s Burgh. I’m the Gym Leader of Castelia City. Lenora and I go way back; I’ll tell you about it some time. What are your names?” he replied, still keeping up the pace; he was extremely tall and took very long strides.

“I’m David, and this is Bianca and Cheren.” David replied, motioning to his friends.

“Nice to meet you kids, though I wish I could do it under nicer circumstances.” Burgh replied.

They slowed to a stop, looking around for any sign of the thieves. Burgh put a hand to his hip and looked around, shading his eyes with his other hand. He was extremely tall and lanky, a good foot taller than David even. He had pale white skin and very large facial features. A carefully styled mop of large, wavy blonde hair adorned his head, and it bounced when he walked. He wore a tight, green V-neck shirt and striped pants with fancy leather shoes. He was very trendy and fashionably dressed, a scarf tied casually around his neck and a belt buckle adorning his trousers in the shape of a butterfly. Burgh looked towards the forest to the west and spoke.

“If they were running opposite me, they must be heading into Pinwheel Forest. That’s the way I came, and it would make sense; that’s the fastest way out of the city.” he explained. Content with that rationale, the group took off running again, heading towards the forest.

There was no gentle gradient into the wilderness for this city like there had been in Striaton going into the Dreamyard. Given that it was an old logging settlement, the town ended abruptly where the tree line began. They exited the city and ran through the forest a short ways. After a distance, the forest canopy became thick enough to obscure the sun and the path forked.

“Alright kids, I think this is where we part ways. The path forks here, one way leading to Skyarrow Bridge and one way leading deeper into the forest.” Burgh explained. “There’s a nice paved road leading to Skyarrow going this way…” he said, pointing north, “…and an animal trail leading into the woods this way.” he said, now pointing west. “Bianca and Cheren, you two head up north to Skyarrow and block the exit; see if you can cut them off. David and I will circle through the forest and see if we can rout them out. There’s no other way in or out of the forest, so unless they’ve already made it to Skyarrow Bridge by now, then they’ll necessarily have to pass by one of us. Take your time; we’ve got them cornered.” he continued.

“Sounds good, Burgh.” Cheren replied, taking off down the road. Bianca waved nervously and followed after him.

“Come on, David, let’s roll!” Burgh said with determination. The pair began into the deep woods to give chase to the fleeing criminals.

* * *

David and Burgh walked through the woods calmly. As Burgh had explained, there was no way the museum thieves could escape the forest without passing by one of the two scouting groups first, so they knew there was no rush. The sun was mostly obscured by the thick canopy, scarce amounts of light streaming in through thin pockets in the leaves. Wild Bug and Grass-type Pokémon could be heard chirping, buzzing and flying around them in the dense growth; David was a little creeped out by it all, but Burgh seemed perfectly at home among the foliage and insects. Since they were in no rush, David decided to try striking up a conversation with his new partner.

“So Burgh, you’re a Gym Leader, eh? What type do you specialize in?” David asked.

“Bug.” Burgh answered. “I’ve always loved bugs, ever since I was a small boy. The complexity of their little bodies fascinates me so.” he continued, looking around at the beauty of the forest.

“Oh, huh… wouldn’t have pegged you as a Bug-type user…” David murmured. “How do you know Lenora?” he continued, trying to keep the conversation alive.

“Much like how the Striaton Gym Leaders are restaurant owners and Lenora is an archaeologist, I am an artist by trade. All of the Gym Leaders in Unova have active careers in addition to their responsibilities as Gym Leaders. Elesa is a fashion model, Skyla is a pilot, Brycen used to be an actor, et cetera!” Burgh said excitedly. “Nacrene City is full of ambitious young artists, and the good ones, like yours truly, move to Castelia City across the bay like I did when they get recognized. When I need inspiration for a piece, I always come home to Nacrene and go to the museum; Lenora always finds the most scrumptious objects that strike my fancy.” he explained.

“Oh, that’s pretty cool.” David said. “I thought it might be fun to be an artist when I was younger, but I can’t draw realistically.” he appended mournfully.

“Art is not about drawing realistically, my young friend! Art is about expressing how you feel! Art is about letting loose your deepest feelings and letting them explode onto the canvas!” Burgh replied excitedly. David’s “deepest feelings” were exactly the kind of thing he didn’t want exploding onto anything; putting his sarcasm aside though, he replied.

“Not to offend you, but that’s kind of a big qualm I’ve always had with professional artists. That kind of art doesn’t take any real skill. It isn’t something you can develop and get better at, it’s just something you’re either born with or you aren’t. Being able to sit down at an easel with a pencil or brush and replicate the thing you are looking at in front of you realistically is a skill that can be taught and honed. It is something that an unskilled person can, over time, learn how to do better. Expressionistic art is, as you say, just an explosion of color.” David said.

“But that is the best part, David! Don’t you see?” Burgh asked, still overly enthused. “Expressionistic art is some of the most beautiful. Anyone can go down to the dime store and buy a camera if they want ‘realistic’ images; a good artist can paint or draw what they feel and create something much more beautiful than anything you could draw if you wanted it to look ‘realistic.’” he responded.

“And that’s where artists and I start to diverge.” David replied. “Art isn’t a science; it isn’t deterministic or procedural. There are no formulas you can plug variables into and get a consistent, solid answer out from with art. Something so…” he struggled, looking for the word, “…inconsistent and undocumented just gives it an air of unprofessionalism to me. I was always much more interested in the sciences as a kid, and I like things where you can get an answer to a scenario.” he continued.

“I suppose what you find unappealing about art is what I love so much about it.” Burgh replied nonchalantly; there was a pleasant airiness to his voice. “The freedom to simply create and to breathe is what I love about it. I feel like my truest self when I’m at the canvas, simply able to express what I’m feeling in the rawest, most simplistic form. It makes one feel alive and happy.” he said calmly.

“But you have an unfair bias, Burgh; you’re actually talented.” David quipped back. “Like I said before, expressionistic art like that isn’t something you can learn or be taught, it’s something you’re either born good at or you’re not. You can slap a wet paintbrush at the canvas and call it art; someone like me slaps a wet paintbrush at a canvas and calls it a blot of paint on a big white board. There’s a degree of luck associated with what you do, and you turned out lucky. Being a doctor or a computer programmer is something that can be learned, but takes years of schooling, making it a high value career. Art is, well… not as valuable.” he continued, trailing off.

Burgh shrugged. “We’ll have to agree to disagree, my friend. You raise some valid points, but we simply aren’t looking at the issue through the same lens. I make money and earn fame doing what I love to do; I don’t care if there is a ‘science’ to it or not, because at the end of the day, I love what I do and I enjoy the final product of my work.” he said calmly. David let the argument drop and they continued walking.

They had covered quite a bit of ground by now and hadn’t run into anybody yet; maybe the thieves really had found a third route through the forest that bypassed both scouting parties. They passed a stream and stopped to rest for a moment. Burgh knelt down to the water’s surface and splashed his face, grinning to himself as he stood back up; he seemed perfectly at ease, but David was beginning to worry.

David turned to walk back to the path, but his worries were quickly both quelled and replaced by altogether new worries all at once. He turned and saw a shadow move out of the corner of his eye; slowly, hooded figures began to step out of the dark undergrowth, menacingly walking towards them. He began to walk backwards toward Burgh, but he felt himself bump up against the Gym Leader’s back after only a few paces. He turned over his shoulder and saw that they were coming from the other direction too, surrounding them.

“Two against ten?” Burgh said under his breath. “…I like those odds.”

A man stepped forward from the group, dressed differently than the rest of them. He moved silently and did not speak. He stepped into the light and motioned for the rest of them to follow suit. As the sunlight hit their clothing, David realized they were all with Team Plasma; assorted goons working for the twisted cult. The man who had stepped forward was dressed like Ghetsis had been in Accumula and the Dreamyard, but slightly less ornate. He spoke in a calm, elderly voice.

“I am Gorm of the Seven Sages. I believe I recognize Burgh, the Bug-type specialist of Castelia City, but I do not recognize you, young man. What is your name?” the man asked. He spoke slowly and ornately with careful, deliberate language; David quipped back in a similar style to mock him.

“My name is David. I have stood to oppose you goons several times in the past and I guess my efforts are needed again. In short… don’t you bastards ever quit?” he replied with a sneer.

“Such a sharp tongue in front of your elders; I am shocked. But I suppose it is understandable, given the circumstances.” Gorm said back. “I believe this is what you are looking for?” he asked; Gorm lifted his cloak and held up the Dragonite skull into the light.

“You lot always act so smug and self-righteous. Don’t you people realize you’re stealing? How does that make you the good guys?” David asked incredulously; Gorm snapped back at him.

“I have neither the time nor interest to argue the logistics of our operations with children!” Gorm spat. “I am, however, interested in making it out of here safely with the skull. Since you both have proven to be adept Pokémon trainers in the past, I suppose the only thing stopping me is you. Guards, dispose of them.” he commanded.

The grunts standing around him took a step forward in unison and put their hands beneath their cloaks. They all drew Pokéballs and released them to the air. Ten Pokémon landed in the clearing and all stood to oppose them, growling and glaring menacingly.

“Feel like a little warm up before your battle with Lenora, David?” Burgh asked.

“Hell, Burgh… I might actually break a sweat.” David replied sarcastically.

David and Burgh released their Pokéballs in a flash and the battle began.

* * *

Bianca and Cheren stood in the middle of the road on the edge of Pinwheel Forest, staring off into space and simply waiting for something to happen. Bianca spied a small rock on the ground and kicked it into the nearby stream. It landed in the murky water with a “plop!”

“Hey.” Cheren said casually.

“Yeah?” Bianca replied.

“You ever wonder why we’re here?” he asked.

Bianca paused as she considered the question. “It’s one of life’s great mysteries, isn’t it? Why are we here? I mean… are we the product of some cosmic coincidence or… is Arceus even real, watching everything, you know… with a plan for us and stuff… I dunno, Cheren… but it keeps me up at night…” she trailed off.

Cheren stared at her, the most perplexed and confused look on his face she had ever seen.

What?!” he said. “I meant why are we out here, in the middle of this forest?”

“Oh… uh… yeah…” Bianca stammered.

“Uhh… hmm? Nothing…” Bianca said, trying to ignore the question.

“You… wanna talk about it?” Cheren asked, concern creeping into his voice.

“No.” Bianca said quietly.

“You sure?” Cheren continued.

“Yeah.” Bianca said, turning away and blushing.

“Seriously though, why are we out here? How come we’re never the ones in the middle of all the action?” Cheren asked.

“I was with David when we got attacked at the Dreamyard. That counts.” Bianca quipped.

“Fine, why am I never the one in the middle of the action? Why does David get all the fun?” Cheren asked angrily.

The two of them stared back off into space in silence. The forest was completely quiet. Nothing moved. Nothing exciting happened. Just… nothing.

“Yep.” Bianca said.

“Yep…” Cheren replied.

They were bored.

* * *

“Paula, use Confusion!” David shouted. The blast flew towards the final opposing Pokémon, knocking it to the ground and defeating it. Burgh recalled his Pokémon and they stood triumphantly before the Plasma grunts, staring at them coldly and sarcastically.

“That the best you got, Plasma?” David shouted, raising his fist into the air. The grunts were all taken aback, shocked the ten of them had lost to just two opponents. Gorm seethed with rage at their incompetence.

“You fools, do something! Protect your Sage!” he shouted at them angrily. They were out of Pokémon though, so there was nothing they could do.

“Hand over the skull, Plasma. We’ve got you trapped in this forest. There’s no way out, so just make it easy on yourselves and surrender.” Burgh said proudly.

“Never! I will never give you this skull! It is absolutely, unequivocally, beyond any shadow of a doubt vital to Team Plasma’s continued–” he started to say, but he was cut off by a dull beeping noise. Gorm was startled by the noise and almost leapt out of his skin. He quickly realized where it was coming from and began fidgeting in his cloak for whatever was making the sound. He pulled a small headset out from somewhere beneath his cloak and put it on.

“This had better be pretty Goddamn important!” he shouted into the device.

“Yeah, what about it?!” he yelled. “It’s… uh huh? …uh huh? …uh huh? …right, the dragon’s skull, uh huh? …IT’S WHAT?!?” he screamed again. “What do you mean ‘not the right Pokémon!?’” he bellowed.

Burgh and David shot each other an utterly befuddled look. “Was this really happening?” they both thought. Gorm finished his call and cleared his throat, turning back around to face them and trying to hide his beet-red face.

“Ahem, yes, well… hmm… I have just been informed that this is NOT in fact the skull of the legendary Pokémon we were thinking it was, and is in fact just a worthless heap of trash…” he said, embarrassedly trailing off. “You can… erm… have it back… I guess…” he muttered, handing the hefty object to Burgh.

Burgh took the skull quizzically. “Thank… you? …I guess?” he said in a confused voice. Gorm again cleared his throat, stepping back into the shadows with his minions dramatically.

“Just know this, Pokémon trainers…” he said angrily. “…Our leader Ghetsis, another of the Seven Noble Sages of Team Plasma, has decreed the Pokémon Liberation movement to be fully and officially in operation, and has ordered his compatriots to take all the Pokémon they can; by force, if necessary…” he continued. “Heed my words, Gym Leader and trainer, for you shall soon know them well: Know your enemies, know yourself, and know you need not fear the result of a hundred battles… This time, we shall retreat quietly, but steel yourselves for the coming war. For… PLASMAAAAA!” he shouted.

The group of defeated Plasma agents surrounding him echoed his battle cry and raised their arms triumphantly into the air. They then threw them down in unison, dropping tiny smoke balls to the ground as they went. The smoke rose quickly into the air, covering their retreat as they slipped past Burgh and David. The pair choked on the noxious smoke, blinded and unable to breath, and could do nothing to stop them. Once the smoke had cleared, they were again alone in the woods. The pair looked at each other, confusion plastered across both their faces.

“Well… that was a Deus ex machina if I’ve ever seen one…” David said quietly.

“I… um… I guess I’ll take the skull back to the museum then.” Burgh murmured. “You can go get your friends and tell them it’s okay to come back to the city. I’ll set up your battle with Lenora for you; tomorrow morning good for you?” he asked.

“Yeah, we’ll be there.” David replied. Burgh nodded and began walking away.

“Cool. See you ‘round.” he replied. With that, he casually strode off with the skull in hand.

David looked at the ground and shook his head. “What the Hell have I gotten myself into?” he thought. He took off down the road to find his friends and return to the city.

* * *

“So they just gave it back and left?” Bianca asked quizzically as they walked through the woods.

“Yep… damndest thing I ever saw…” David said, looking down at the path and frowning in confusion.

“I know I said they’re crazy before, but I’d like to amend that statement.” Cheren said calmly. “They’re not just crazy, they’re Goddamn morons.” he continued.

Bianca giggled to herself and started to speak again. “Well, at least we got the skull back, that’s all that mat… um… ters…” but she said, trailing off. “Hey, uhh… do you two see that?” she asked.

Bianca pointed to a bush sitting along the side of the path. The little berry bush appeared to be rustling, as if it were moving on its own. The wind was still, but yet it rustled and shook very violently. Small Oran berries dropped from its branches, falling to the ground and rolling away.

“What the Hell?” Cheren murmured in a confused voice. “Hello? Is someone in there?” he asked. The bush stopped rustling upon hearing his words. It was silent for a few seconds, and then slowly, a small green paw began to reach out from inside its depths. The paw crept out, reaching towards a berry that had fallen and was sitting on the road. The group watched dumbstruck as the bush inexplicably reached out towards the fruit. It found its target, and then quickly scooped it up and pulled it back inside the foliage. The little plant began to shake again as it had before, and more berries continued to fall from it. Quiet chewing noises could be heard coming from inside the bush.

“Ummm…” Cheren said. “I’m just gonna… yeah…” he murmured under his breath.

“Alright, enough of this.” David snapped in an annoyed tone. “Come on out, you little bugger.” he said tiredly. The bush again stopped moving and was quiet for a moment. A little green creature stepped out from the bush cautiously, looking at the group inquisitively. Satisfied there was no danger, it stepped out and waddled slowly into the middle of the road. It walked very fast, its stout legs waddling quickly, but it took a great many small steps. It reached the middle of the path, turned to look at them with a blank expression, and promptly sat down. It looked up at them, and they looked back at it. After a few seconds of this vacant exchange, it grinned a big grin and said audibly, “Munch!

“It’s! So! CUUUUUUUTE!!!” Bianca squealed. “Oh my gosh, one of you two has to catch it!” she said, turning and grasping them both by the wrists.

“I don’t even know what it is.” David said, utterly perplexed.

“It looks like a Munchlax.” Cheren said studiously, adjusting his glasses. “It’s the pre-evolved form of Snorlax. Bianca’s right though, actually, we should catch it. We still only have one Pokémon each and Snorlax are very powerful.” he explained.

“You want it, Cheren?” David asked; Cheren chuckled though and shook his head “no,” backing away slowly and waving his hands in front of himself.

“Oh-ho no; I’m not getting up in the middle of the night to feed that little bottomless pit. He’s all yours, David.” Cheren replied through a chuckle as he stepped back. David sighed and turned his gaze back to the dopey Pokémon.

“Okay, well… here goes…” David said. He took out Paula’s Pokéball and threw it opposite the little creature in the path. She popped out and struck a fighting pose; the Munchlax however stayed seated and tilted its head, seemingly not understanding the significance of David’s action.

“Ready to catch our first Pokémon together, Paula?” David shouted.

“Yes indeed, master. I could use a little company.” she replied.

“Alright then! Paula, use Confusion!” he shouted. She closed her eyes and focused, letting loose the blast towards the little creature. It sat perfectly still, letting the hit wash over it. It seemed to not even feel it, letting the blow glance right off. It stood back up and walked over to its bush, plucking more berries from it and continuing to satisfy its hunger.

“Wow, it’s really bulky!” Bianca said, surprised it had withstood the hit so effortlessly.

“Don’t worry, we’ll get it.” David replied. “Paula, use Magical Leaf!” he shouted. She focused her mind and the bush began to rustle again. The leaves dropped from it in an instant and swarmed the little Pokémon, hacking and slashing at its thick hide. It hurt the Munchlax, but it still seemed more interested in eating than in defending itself. Paula ceased the attack and stared at it, taken aback by its apparent disinterest in battling her. The Munchlax continued to eat, faster now that the leaves had fallen from its bush. She looked to David in confusion, not at all sure how to proceed.

David pinched the bridge of his nose and lowered his head. “Oh for crying out loud… why am I catching this thing?” he thought to himself. He looked up at the little Pokémon, eating happily, oblivious to everything around it. It plucked the last berry from the bush, tossed it casually into the air, and let it land in its mouth, happily enjoying the succulent juices and pulp inside. Seeing that there were no more berries in the vicinity left to eat, the Munchlax sat down again and promptly proceeded to doze off, having temporarily satisfied its hunger.

“Psst, David.” Cheren whispered. “I think this is your chance. Paula’s Special attacks are never going to wear this thing down enough; try and catch it while it’s asleep.” he advised. David reached into his pack, pulled out one of the Pokéballs that Fennel had given him and threw it sharply towards the little monster. He struck the Pokémon in the head, jerking it awake and causing it to fall over on its back. It flailed its arms in shock, trying to regain its balance, and was zapped inside the ball. It shook only a single time, but did not break; it was still after that, not caring enough to try and break free. David walked over to Pokéball as it sealed, picked it up off the path and looked at it quizzically.

“Well guys, I… um… I guess I just caught a Munchlax.” he murmured.

“Yay!” Bianca shouted with childlike glee. “It’s such a little cutie-pie! You’re lucky, David!” she continued.

“It doesn’t seem too bright, but it can sure take a hit.” Cheren said, folding his arms. “He’ll probably be a good addition to your team.” he commented.

David looked back down at the Pokéball and thought about exactly what it was he had just seen.

Jesus, this has been a long day…” he thought to himself tiredly.

* * *

The night passed uneventfully, and the group rested comfortably at the Pokémon Center, preparing for their upcoming Gym battle. When the morning came and Cheren and Bianca headed outside, David and Munchlax were already up doing a little practice in front of the building. Cheren spoke.

“Hey David, how’s training Munchlax going?” Cheren asked as he and Bianca walked up. David turned to look at him with a big grin spread across his face.

“Pretty great, actually.” David replied cheerily. “He’s surprisingly strong in addition to being so bulky. You were right; he’s going to be a big asset to the team. He’s pretty easy to train too; not surprisingly, he’ll do anything for a bite of food.” he continued, pulling a kernel of food from his bag.

“Munchlax, show Cheren your moves! How about you give us an Earthquake?” David said, holding up the kernel. Munchlax held up his arms excitedly and leapt into the air. He curled himself up as he began to fall back down, slamming into the ground with a mighty crash. The ground shook from the force of his landing, knocking them all over harshly. Munchlax jumped up and down with his arms in the air, happily awaiting his treat for such good work.

“Holy crap! That was something else!” Bianca shouted as David helped her up. David tossed the kibble into Munchlax’s mouth and he happily devoured it; the little Pokémon seemed much more awake now than he had the day before.

“I know; he’s pretty great. It looks like he’s got Earthquake, Body Slam and, not surprisingly, Crunch. We’re going to beat Lenora for sure!” David said, making a fist.

“Yeah, let’s get going.” David replied as they took off. The group walked towards the building and prepared for their match against Lenora. The tension was building as they anticipated their second official Pokémon League Gym battle.

* * *

[Continued Below]

24. Chronicles of Unova

Chapter 6: The Dragon's Skull
Updated Version

Part 2 of 2

“Hello, kids. Here for your Gym battle I take it?” Hawes asked them as they entered.

“You bet, Hawes! Is Lenora ready for us?” Bianca said excitedly.

“She should be. She’ll be in her private study in the back. Thank you ever so much for helping us get the Dragonite skull back yesterday by the way. Burgh explained what happened; that Plasma lot are, um… quite odd, to say the least.” he replied.

The three trainers began to walk towards the back of the room, but Hawes stopped them. “Wait, wait! You can’t all go back at once.” he shouted. “I’m sorry, I left out one detail. Lenora doesn’t like to be disturbed when she’s doing research work, so she set up a puzzle to get back to the Gym portion of the building. Only one of you may go at a time, and you may not tell the others how to solve the puzzle.” he explained; the trainers looked at each other, surprised by this bit of news and trying to decide who would go first.

“Well, in Striaton it was Cheren, then me, then David…” Bianca said, “…so here I guess it should be David, then me, then Cheren. Does that sound okay to you boys?” she continued.

“Fine with me.” David said, and Cheren mimicked the sentiment. David waved to his friends and began to walk to the back room. He left the museum’s large exhibition hall and walked into a darkened room in the back with many bookshelves lining the walls. Ornate, crimson colored curtains hung from the ceilings and lined every wall. Many candles sat atop the bookshelves, giving the room an eerie, mystical feel to it. A young girl, maybe around N’s age, sat at a desk in the middle of the room; she was resting her feet upon it, reading to herself in the low light.

David cleared his throat politely and she looked up, surprised to see another person in her lair. She closed the book and sat up straight in the chair, taking off her glasses and looking at him squarely. She put her hands together on the table and began to speak.

“Oh! Hello! I didn’t hear you come in. Take a seat, will you?” she said, pointing to a modest wooden chair opposite her. David sat down and she continued. “You are here to challenge Lenora, yes?” she said. David replied that he was and she smiled. “Good, good, always nice to get challengers. Mrs. Lenora is a very busy woman and does not like to be disturbed when she is working, as I’m sure Hawes explained to you. She has instructed me to ask any challengers who come to the Gym a riddle, and only if they answer correctly may they proceed. You may have paper and a pencil if you wish, and can utilize any of the books in this room at your disposal. Are you ready?” she asked. David said that he was and she spoke.

“There is a muscle in your body that is perhaps the most important of any that you have. It is not made of flesh, and requires no proteins. It requires minimal effort to keep it in shape, but if you get lax and skip even a single day, it will wither away and die. We here at the museum cherish this muscle above all else, and strive to help people exercise it. What is the muscle?” she asked.

David sat staring at her, watching as a smug look of satisfaction spread across her face. He had no idea what the answer to the riddle was, and he knew the longer he took to answer, the worse he would end up looking. She stared back at him and pursed her lips, putting her feet on the table again and opening her book. She said calmly without looking up, “Take all the time you need…”

David stood up and began pacing along the far wall. He put his hand to his chin and thought, trying to figure out what she could possibly be referring to. “A muscle that isn’t made of flesh? What does that even mean? If it isn’t made of flesh, how is it a muscle? And if you don’t exercise it every day it dies?! What the Hell is she talking about?” he thought. He decided to take her advice and look in one of the books. He took one off the shelf at random and opened it. He began to read quietly to himself, letting the words wash over him. It was a book on trains; their inner workings, how the coal was processed, their history and uses… it was all very boring to him and he knew he was just wasting time. He put the book back and continued pacing, trying to sort out the question with all his might.

“Master, why do you not answer that girl?” Paula said quietly. She spoke suddenly from within her Pokéball and startled David. The “noise” almost made him jump.

“Because I don’t know what the answer is, Paula.” he replied evenly; there was an awkward silence before Paula spoke again.

“You… you do not know?” she asked in a shocked voice. “Are you trying to be funny, master? You are not very good at it like I am.” she continued.

David stopped pacing and an angry expression spread across his face. He looked down at his waist and glared at her ball venomously.

“Master, do you really not know the answer to her riddle? What is a muscle which you use on a daily basis that is not made of flesh?” she repeated again; David continued to scowl at her ball angrily.

“No, Paula, I don’t know. If you aren’t going to help me, then just fu-” he started to say, but she cut him off.

“Master, what am I using to communicate with you right now?!” she asked sarcastically. David looked up, a blank stare spread across his face. He smashed his outstretch palm across his face and hung his arms dejectedly.

“Paula… am I an idiot?” he asked pathetically.

“Only on Tuesdays, master. Only on Tuesdays.” she replied with a chuckle.

David walked back over to the table and sat down; the young woman set down her book and looked at him. “Do you have an answer, challenger?” she asked.

David nodded and looked her straight in the eye. “A muscle that is not made of flesh but is the most important in your body. The mind.” he said. The bookshelves along the back wall began to slide away from each other as he said this, revealing a secret passageway behind the wall. They creaked as they slid, causing some of the books to fall from their shelves. David looked behind the girl and stared down the inky black passageway as candles sprung to life along the corridor, illuminating the path. The girl nodded her head in affirmation, a tiny smile spreading across her pouting lips, and went back to reading. David stood up and began down the passage, ready for his battle.

* * *

“Howdy, sugah. You solved my riddle I s’pose?” Lenora shouted warmly as he entered the room. It was made entirely of stone and was illuminated only by candlelight. It felt damp, almost like a dungeon. At the opposite side, Lenora stood behind her desk, hands on her hips and ready to battle.

“Took me a minute, but yeah, I got it.” David shouted back.

“Good ol’e Burghy told me ‘bout what happened yesterday. Says you’re quite the trainer.” she said across the room. “I appreciate what’cha done for me and all, but I’d like to see the trainer what took down ten Plasma grunts with my ol’e pal. Show me.” she said determinedly.

She walked slowly down the steps to the arena and pulled out a Pokéball from the holster on her hip. She threw it onto the field and a Herdier leapt out, baring its fangs and growling fearsomely. David walked out to meet her and threw Paula’s Pokéball to meet the challenge. She sprung from the ball and pirouetted gracefully on the stone floor.

“Since you were such a sarcastic little brat, you get to go first.” David thought patronizingly.

“It was necessarily going to be either Munchlax or myself, master. At a fifty-fifty chance, that is not particularly much of a threat.” she said through a giggle.

“Herdier, use Bite attack, baby!” Lenora shouted enthusiastically. Her Herdier sprang to life and caught Paula off guard, snapping at her neck and just barely missing. Paula Teleported away just in time to avoid its fangs, reappearing behind it; Herdier turned to face its adversary, growling menacingly in warning.

“Paula, use Confusion!” David shouted. She focused her mind and launched the blast. Herdier took it head on and flew across the room, slamming into the wall and yelping. It fell to the ground, but stood up and shook off the disorientation, determined not to lose. Paula grinned, feeling confident about her ability to win. It was short lived however, as the Herdier sprang in to attack a second time.

“Herdier, use Take Down!” Lenora shouted. It leapt toward Paula, jumped on her and pinning her to the ground. Paula shrieked as it roared at her and bared its fangs, just inches away from her face. It stood over her, menacingly glaring and snarling; its Leer attack was lowering her physical defenses. Just as it went to snap at her neck again, David shouted for her to use Magical Leaf. She shut her eyes tightly and focused; the storm of leaves flew down the corridor, smashing into Lenora’s Herdier from behind. It sent the pooch flying, freeing Paula from its grasp. She leapt up, breathing heavily and clearly quite shaken; the wave of leaves flung Herdier into the brick wall again and it fell to the ground in a slump, unable to continue.

“That’s pretty good, sugah. That little lady of yours is quite the fighter. You’re up, 1-0.” Lenora shouted.

“Are you alright, Paula? That got pretty hairy.” David asked, concern creeping into his voice; Paula answered in a huff.

“We Kirlia are a dainty species!” she said angrily in a shrill voice. “Being manhandled so violently… I am still unharmed, just a little shaken is all, master.” she continued with contempt for her opponent dripping from her voice. She had a point though, David thought; technically, Lenora had yet to land a hit. Maybe he wouldn’t even need to use Munchlax…

Lenora released her second, and last, Pokémon, sending out a tall, proud Watchog to finish the fight. It stood high on its legs, sizing up the room and sniffing frantically; Paula Teleported to the middle of the field, ready to oppose it for the win.

“Watchog, use Retaliate!” Lenora shouted smartly. The Pokémon leapt toward Paula, launching a mighty kick. With her defenses lowered from the Leer attack, she never stood a chance. She was launched from her feet, flying through the air and knocking into David. He caught her, but the pair was knocked to the ground. Paula lay in his arms, dazed and confused; she could not continue the fight.

“Yeah-hah! That’s what I’m talkin’ about, baby!” Lenora shouted. “Retaliate’s power doubles the turn after a teammate faints; it’s all tied up now!” she continued.

“Are you okay, Paula?” David asked; Paula looked up at him and shivered in his arms.

“I am very tired, master. My body aches and my consciousness is fading quickly. I will be fine this evening, but I cannot continue the fight. I am… sorry…” she said, and dozed off. He squeezed her tighter, shutting his eyes, then returned her to her Pokéball. He stood up and walked back to his spot, ready to finish the battle.

I have no choice; I’m going to have to use Munchlax. Good thing I caught him when I did…” David thought. He drew his newly captured Pokémon’s Pokéball and threw it into the field. The little green tike leapt out and shouted a battle cry.

“Let’s finish this safely; use Hypnosis, Watchog!” Lenora shouted. Her Pokémon’s eyes began to swirl and it waved its paws in front of its body hypnotically, staring menacingly at Munchlax. It moved rhythmically, lulling the Pokémon to sleep.

“Don’t look at it, Munchlax!” David shouted, but it was too late. Munchlax had fallen over on his back and was sound asleep, a content smile spread across his face.

“That’s good, sugah. Now hit it with your Low Kick!” Lenora shouted. Watchog sprang into action, rushing toward the little Pokémon and beating it unmercifully. Munchlax did not stir from his slumber, taking the hits like a champ but unable to defend himself.

“Munchlax, you’ve got to wake up! Wake up!” David shouted in desperation, but it was to no avail. After several seconds of this beating, Munchlax had sustained quite a bit of damage, but was still fast asleep. Lenora prepared to use her final move.

“Watchog, use your Tackle attack!” she shouted, a determined smile spread across her face; Lenora’s heart was beating fast as the prospect of another victory being added to her long career started to come within reach. Watchog backed away from the sleeping form of Munchlax and backed up to its trainer. It braced itself against the wall and then began to charge towards Munchlax, ready to pounce.

“Munchlax, no!” David shouted, desperately trying to wake his sleeping Pokémon. Watchog reached its target, took a flying leap, and prepared to slam down on its opponent, finishing him off. In a flash, Munchlax opened its eyes and grinned a Cheshire smile. He shouted an authoritative “Munch!” and opened his mouth as wide as it could go. Watchog realized what it was doing and flailed in terror, trying to evade it, but it was useless; it had gained too much momentum in an attempt to make the blow more powerful and couldn’t stop. Munchlax had been feigning sleep to lull Lenora’s Watchog in; he swallowed the enemy Pokémon whole as it fell and took a mighty bite down with his Crunch attack. The Watchog yelped in pain, taking the mighty Crunch full force. Munchlax continued to bite down, eventually standing up and swinging his opponent around. Munchlax spat it out, shooting it powerfully against the far wall with his strong neck and jaw muscles. The Watchog slid to the ground, covered in drool and with a tired and disgusted look on its face.

OH MY GOD, GO MUNCHLAX!!!” David shouted excitedly, utterly flabbergasted and enthralled by Munchlax’s brilliant strategy. “That was AWESOME!” he screamed. Munchlax turned to look at his trainer and winked, smiling a big grin and knowing he was about to win. David shouted for Munchlax to finish the battle with a Body Slam; the little Pokémon began to charge, scuttling as fast as his little legs would carry him toward the enemy. Lenora’s Pokémon was still laying in a disgusted slump on the ground; as it stood itself up, Munchlax leapt into the air and a look of terror spread across the Watchog’s face. It tried to run, but couldn’t get away in time. Munchlax landed with a “plop!” on top of it, crushing it beneath his tremendous weight. Munchlax stood up a moment later and inspected his impromptu cushion. Lenora’s Watchog was soundly defeated, giving final victory to David and Munchlax.

“Yeah-hah, Munchlax, we did it!” David shouted proudly. Munchlax ran back to his trainer and leapt into his arms. David struggled to lift the heavy tike, but managed it for a few seconds. He gently put Munchlax back down beside him and the pair walked over to Lenora. She returned her Pokémon to its ball and slowly began to clap. A grin spread across her face and she congratulated the young victor, shaking his hand and patting him on the back.

“Well done, sugah, that was a great match. You’ve earned yourself this Basic Badge.” she said, walking back to her desk behind her. She opened a drawer and took out a long, thin, purple badge. She handed it to David and smiled; David had won at the Nacrene City Gym.

* * *

David and his Pokémon were resting comfortably in the lobby of the Pokémon Center. Paula and Munchlax were playing keep-away with a little red ball, laughing and having fun together. Whenever Munchlax would get near, Paula would Teleport away with the ball, giggling to herself as she went. Munchlax would then chase after her when she reappeared, grinning a big, dopy grin to himself. David sat in one of the lounge chases, watching his Pokémon play and polishing his new badge. It gleamed in the light and reflected his smile.

Bianca came running into the lobby, holding a shiny new badge of her own above her head. Cheren strode in calmly behind her a moment later.

“David! Hey David! We did it, we both won too! We got our Basic Badges!” Bianca shouted. “Oh, Pachirisu did wonderful! Zuzu too!” she continued, spinning on her heels and plopping down into the chair beside him. She sat very low, almost laying on the small of her back more so than sitting, and laughed. She held up her new badge and grinned a big grin as she admired it. Cheren sat down next to her and put his feet up, showing David his badge too before putting it away in his bag. Cheren was much calmer about his win, but still wore a sheepish grin.

“So how did Munchlax do? Did you have to use him?” Cheren asked, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose.

“Yeah man, Munchlax kicked ass!” David answered enthusiastically. “He’s super strong. I’m really glad I decided to catch him; we would have been toast if I hadn’t.” he continued.

“Cheren, are you ever going to catch a second Pokémon of your own?” Bianca asked innocently; there was a trace of concern staining her expression as she spoke. “I’ve got Pachirisu and Zubat, and David’s got Paula and Munchlax; Eevee is strong and all, but shouldn’t you start looking to expand too?” she continued.

“I don’t want to just catch any old thing, Bianca. I’ll catch a Pokémon when it interests me and if it seems like it would be a benefit to my team.” Cheren explained. “Until then, Eevee and I have run into no major snags.” he continued, trailing off.

Cheren rose from his seat and walked across the room to fetch a glass of water. “That said, I’m looking forward to reaching the Desert Resort on Route 4 in a couple of weeks.” he said as he rose. “There are a lot of rare and interesting Pokémon there.” he appended.

“That reminds me, Cheren; where is our next destination?” Bianca asked; Cheren took a sip of his water and leaned against the wall.

“Mmm… Castelia City on the other side of Skyarrow Bridge.” he murmured. “We’ll be battling that Burgh guy and his Bug-types. We could actually see the city from where we were standing yesterday.” he replied.

“Hey yeah, that reminds me; what were you guys doing all that time?” David asked. “Burgh and I fought off like ten Plasma grunts all on our own; when I walked up, you two were just standing there contemplating your navels.” he continued; Bianca blushed, remembering her awkward little speech.

“We talked about some stuff… I dunno…” Cheren muttered; David let his answer sit.

“So we’ll be heading out for Castelia City tomorrow then, eh?” David asked.

“I know I will be.” Cheren said, crushing his paper cup and throwing it in the bin. “You two Slowpokes are welcome to join me if you don’t slow me down.” he continued.

David looked back down at his happy Pokémon. Munchlax had just caught up to Paula at long last and had taken the ball. He opened his mouth wide and swallowed it, eating the entire rubber orb in one gulp. Paula put a hand to her mouth in shock; Munchlax let out a little burp and laid down, falling asleep instantly. Paula giggled to herself and lay down next to him, cuddling up to her new little brother and resting too. David smiled to himself as his thoughts drifted to Castelia City and his Gym battle with Burgh.

Two down, six to go…” he thought to himself.

25. Chronicles of Unova

“A Challenger Appears” Contest

Hi everyone,

As David, Paula, Bianca and Cheren collect their final remaining badges and Part 1 draws close to a conclusion, we’re quickly approaching the League Championships at the head of Victory Road. In the games, players scale the cliff to the Elite Four’s pavilion, defeat each of them for a first time, and then have their final confrontations with N. At this point, the credits roll, Eastern Unova is opened to you, and players are expected to train in preparation for their second match with the Elite Four and their Championship battle with Alder. This is not the approach I will be taking.

Similar to how the anime has always handled the League Championships, David, Bianca, Cheren and N will have each earned 8 badges and will have earned the right to enter the Unova region Pokémon League Championship Tournament, held at the location that in the games is the Elite Four’s pavilion. A series of elimination battles will be held, leading up to the exciting conclusion of Part 1. The tournament will feature four Quarter Final battles, two Semifinal battles, and one Final Battle, detailed in (at time of posting) Chapters 29, 30 and 31 respectively.

In a tournament, the Quarter Finals represent matchups between the top eight competitors. To make things more realistic, fleshed out and interesting, David, Bianca Cheren and N will not be the only competitors in the tournament, and will have to earn their placement in the tournament’s higher tiers against four other skilled trainers that will be introduced in (again, at time of posting) Chapter 28. I have plans for a Quarter Finals opponent for David, an opponent for Bianca, and an opponent for N. I do not yet have a planned opponent for Cheren however; this is where you come in.

I have been planning this for a while, and I’m now proud to announce Chronicles’ “A Challenger Appears” contest. I will be taking fan submissions for a League Championship opponent for Cheren, and the winner will appear in the story.

The rules summarized in a single paragraph:

Any registered member of the Serebii Forums has between the date of this post and the time Chapter 27 is posted to send me (ChaosBlizzard) a private message containing information which will be detailed below. The information will describe a Pokémon trainer who will represent Cheren’s opponent in the Quarter Finals of the Unova region Pokémon League Championships. The winning entry will have their submission featured in Chapters 28 and 29, and potentially any other chapter I see fit; the winner will be credited in Chapters 28 and 29 (probably in the Author’s Notes) for their submission, along with any other chapters their trainer appears in.

What to submit:

Please follow this format when submitting. Examples are included for your convenience; please follow their format. Items marked with an asterisk (*) are optional. Teams MUST consist of two Unova region Pokémon and one Kanto, Johto, Hoenn or Sinnoh region Pokémon.

Full Name: Ash Ketchum

Age:* 10

Hometown:* Pallet Town, Kanto

Pokémon #1:

Species: Pikachu
Gender: Male
Personality: Spirited, fun-loving, determined
Battling Style: Fast-paced, hard-hitting, nimble
Move 1: Thunderbolt
Move 2: Quick Attack
Move 3: Iron Tail
Move 4: Volt Tackle

Pokémon #2:

(See Above)

Pokémon #3:

(See Above)

Physical Description of Trainer:

Physique: Medium-to-short height with average build. Caucasian skin-tone with an adventurer’s tan. Brown eyes with spiky black hair.

Clothing: A red-and-white baseball cap with a blue Pokéball embroidered on the front. A short-sleeve jacket with a standard blue top and a white bottom; gold zipper, zipped all the way up. Black cargo pants. Bright red shoes.

Garnishes:* Frequently seen with a wide smile and a twinkle in his eye. Makes a fist when he is determined or excited. Was raised by his mother with little to no apparent contact with his father.

Introduction, written in-character:

“Hi guys! My name is Ash, and this is my buddy, Pikachu! We’re super excited to be here, because this will be our fifth League Championship Tournament yet! We’re from Pallet Town in the Kanto region, and we’ve been together for as long as I can remember. We’ve traveled all over and met lots of exciting people. I want to win this tournament so I can become a Pokémon Master! I want to be the very best, like no one ever was. I’m sure we’ll do it this time though; right, Pikachu? [Pikachu confirms excitedly] Ahahahaha!”

[Note: Apologies if that wasn’t very good or in character. I haven’t seen the show in English since early Sinnoh, and even then I’ve only seen one or two Japanese subs since then. You get the idea though.]

Suggestions on Strategy:*

You should have Cheren lead with Umbreon and Ash lead with Pikachu. Pikachu should try and use Quick Attack to get an early lead, but have Umbreon quickly Baton Pass away into Gus so that the attack misses. This will give Cheren early momentum in the battle.

Do’s:

- Remember the context your trainer will exist within. This is a skilled, competent trainer who has managed to earn eight badges against Unova Gym leaders. (S)he probably has a good, balanced team with few (if any) NFE Pokémon and a diverse range of types. Monotype teams are discouraged but not prohibited. However, remember that (s)he has to be beatable. Cheren specifically, with his team of a Baton Passing Umbreon, a Nasty Plot boosting Cofagrigus and a Stealth Rock-capable sweeping Aerodactyl, has to be able to win this battle in a believable and interesting fashion. I can handle that part, but I need a good opposing team to work with. As a reminder, Cheren’s team is as follows:

Umbreon (M)
Ability: Synchronize
Moves: Faint Attack, Baton Pass, Wish, Work Up

Cofagrigus (M)
Ability: Mummy
Moves: Energy Ball, Shadow Ball, Will-o-Wisp, Nasty Plot

Aerodactyl (M)
Ability: UNDECLARED (Pressure)
Moves: Stealth Rock, Fly, Earthquake, Rock Slide

- Feel free to go into more detail than what I put for my examples. I wrote a very business-like example because it clearly and succinctly states the facts about the trainer. However, you can be more personable if you wish. Providing more details will always help.

- Give me a sense for your trainer through both the physical description and the introduction sections. The physical description describes what this trainer looks like, what kind of image they want to present to the world, and perhaps a small glimpse into their psyche if they are dressed in very unusual clothing. The introduction is to be written IN CHARACTER and should be your trainer introducing him/herself to the seven other entrants into the tournament. (S)he is up on stage, looking down at the seven other trainers (s)he is about to be battling for the right to challenge the Elite Four, and (s)he has fifteen to twenty seconds to introduce him/herself and say anything important they feel the others ought to know. Everything I write about your trainer and any dialog (s)he will have will be based on the feel I get from this paragraph; give me a good feel for who (s)he is.

- On that note, for various reasons that will become more apparent when the tournament actually starts and we reach those later chapters, I will be slightly biased towards female characters over male ones. Don’t let this discourage you from submitting a male character however.

- Remember that your trainer’s team must consist of two Unova region Pokémon and one non-Unova region Pokémon. This is the reverse of the rule David, Bianca and Cheren’s teams had to follow. From the example above, an acceptable team might consist of Pikachu, Snivy and Oshawott for example (although having Pokémon be in their final evolutionary form is probably better than having them not be final form; no Eviolite).

- Feel free to submit more than one time. If you have multiple trainers for me to consider, go ahead and send them all in. Obviously only one entry will win, but you are not restricted to sending only one entry. The only thing I ask is that they be in separate PMs.

- Name the subject line of your PM “A Challenger Appears Contest.” You won’t be disqualified if you don’t, but I will regard entries that actually read and followed these rules more favorably than ones who didn’t.

- Follow formatting and use proper spelling/grammar/et cetera. If you’re taking your time to submit an entry into a contest run by a Pokémon fan fiction, I would assume you are at least somewhat meticulous when it comes to following formatting and spelling correctly.

Do Not’s:

- Submit an entry via visitor message, as a reply to this thread or to any other account but this one. Visitor messages will not be considered, replies to this thread will not be considered and will be reported as spam, and any submission to any registered user other than this account (ChaosBlizzard) will not be considered. Please send a private message to this account, subject line “A Challenger Appears Contest,” to submit an entry.

- Copy another character from anywhere else in canon. This means no Gym Leaders, no Elite Four members, no trainers from other regions/games, no randoms from the anime, no actually submitting Ash Ketchum, and definitely no submitting a character from another fan fiction, here or from another forum. This includes characters from your own stories if you have them. This must be a completely original character. There is one exception to this rule. If anyone wants to try their hand at submitting Volkner, the Sunyshore City Gym Leader from Sinnoh, I would not be opposed to that. It would have to be a really good entry though.

- Include any Legendary Pokémon (Ex. Articuno, Ho-oh, Deoxys, Palkia, Victini, etc…), Pokémon on anyone’s currently established team (Ex. Gardevoir, Haxorus, Aerodactyl, Zoroark, etc…), or Pokémon that have been in a Gym battle thus far (Ex. Excadrill, Cryogonal, Leavanny, etc…). Also, just as a general rule, try to stay clear of any Dragon-types.

A page from the book of “Let me just say this now…”:

- I reserve the right to use any text from the winning entry of this contest in any part of the story and any future chapter. However, any time that I use text from the winning entry, I will credit the winner in a way I see fit. If you have a specific way you wish to be credited, should you win, feel free to alert me of this at any time.

- I reserve the right to modify the winning entry before using it in the story. Such modifications might include but are not limited to: removal of a Pokémon (for reasons such as it existing on another trainer from the tournament’s team or it existing on a trainer from Part 2’s planned team), modification of a physical feature or article of clothing, modification of a personality trait, or modification of the trainer’s name.

- Along those same lines, I reserve the right to interpret an entry in any way I see fit. If your entry gets picked but I don’t write them into the story in the way you anticipated, consider the fact that I may have either modified something about him/her intentionally, or that I interpreted something you wrote differently than you meant it.

- The age of your trainer is an optional field in the submission form. If it is omitted, I will assume 18 as the default age.

- I reserve the right to select a winner or reject an entrant based on any criteria I see fit. Entries will be judged based on how well the proposed trainer would fit within the established story and how good of an opponent (s)he would be against Cheren. Ultimately, this is all meant to be fun and to give you as a reader a chance to have an impact on the story that you love enough to actually want to enter this contest in the first place; don’t be upset if you don’t get picked. Like… maybe three people Thousands will enter, one will win.

Good luck, everybody!
-ChaosBlizzard

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