Spoiler:- Author's Notes:
Chronicles of Unova
Chapter 7: Adventures in Castelia City
“There it is, kids! Castelia City!”
David, Bianca and Cheren sat in the cab of a semi-truck, speeding along Skyarrow Bridge. They were heading quickly into Castelia City, driving through the famous bridge in light traffic. The city stood like a fortress, surrounded on all but the northern side by the ocean. Its high towers and skyscrapers seemed to jut straight out of the ground, rising proudly against the ocean swells. Five piers extended to the south, giving the city a footprint like a bear’s paw. It was the largest urban area in the world, rivaled only by Johto’s Goldenrod City and Unova’s own Nimbasa City. It was the hub of all trading and commerce in the civilized world, billions of dollars flowing through its businesses and corporate headquarters each year. It was the jewel of the Pokémon world.
Skyarrow Bridge was not without its own grandeur and splendor either though. The Unova region extended south from one unified landmass in the far north and split into three peninsulas: Eastern, Central and Western Unova. Their hometown of Nuvema Town was the southern-most city in Eastern Unova, and they had slowly been trekking north. Upon reaching Nacrene City, their journey began to turn and they started heading west into Central Unova, leaving the eastern peninsula behind. The peninsulas were connected by a network of six bridges: Western Unova was connected to Central Unova by the Driftveil Drawbridge in the south and Tubeline Bridge in the north; Central Unova was connected to Eastern Unova by the Route 10 Bridge in the extreme north, Village Bridge in the lower north, Marvelous Bridge in the center, and Skyarrow Bridge in the south. Their trek across Skyarrow would put them in the southernmost point of Central Unova: Castelia City. Of the six bridges, Skyarrow was the longest and most grand. It was a suspension bridge with two large spans spreading across the water. It stretched for miles, providing the easiest and most direct means of entering and exiting the city.
The sky was gray and had been threatening rain all day. In the distance, thunder and lightning lit up the sky, but for now the storm was still out at sea. The weather was chilly and the wind was brisk as the urban metropolis slowly changed from summer to autumn. The group arrived in the city and bade their new friend good-bye.
“Thanks for the ride, mister!” Bianca said as she hopped down from the cab.
“Oh, don’t’cha go mentioning it now, missy. I try to help out Pokémon trainers whenever I can. Reminds me o’ my own youth, hahaha!” the grizzled truck driver said with a hearty laugh. Bianca closed the door and waved as he drove off, honking his loud horn in acknowledgement.
“What a nice old man.” she said cheerily, turning to her friends.
“He kinda smelled like old fish…” Cheren said under his breath.
“Jesus, you could complain about anything, couldn’t you, Cheren?” Bianca replied.
“Someone could hand you that Lugia you always wanted on a silver platter and you’d complain it wasn’t gold.” David said, playing off Bianca’s lead and ribbing Cheren. Bianca laughed loudly. She seemed to be catching onto David’s meager advances at times lately; David worried that maybe he should rein it in, lest she suspect something. She never seemed to shy away though, so maybe this was a good sign. He was still unsure of what he fully thought of her though, let alone what she thought back. David longed for the days when Bianca was just another kid and he didn’t have to deal with this crap, even if there was a particularly large potential pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.
“Skyarrow Bridge has a pedestrian section, we could have walked. I just didn’t want to sit next to the Human Fish Warehouse for half an hour if I didn’t have to.” Cheren jabbed back.
“Yeah, okay, that’s cool, Cheren, you go ahead and walk across Skyarrow Bridge with that storm coming in. We’ll stay dry, thank you.” David said back.
“Whatever…” Cheren said, and began walking off through the city.
David and Bianca shot each other a smirk, laughed, and the two began following him.
* * *
The group walked through the busy city streets, droves of people walking alongside them; the people all seemed to have somewhere to be, someone to talk to and something to eat that was all much more important than anything anyone else beside them had to do. It was a striking difference from the humble country folk of Nacrene and Accumula. The group was being bumped and pushed with every step and could hardly stay together. They certainly couldn’t hear each other over the drone of the people, so Cheren motioned toward a restaurant they were passing and ducked into it.
“Man, what a bunch of self-important blowhards.” David said as they walked in. “I get businessmen being in a hurry if it is adversely affecting their company’s profit, but can we leave business in the businesses and act like real people if you’re just trying to get somewhere? I felt like I was about to get stabbed at any minute.” he continued.
“You’re one to talk, David!” Bianca said, laughing. “You’re a big guy and you spent all that time back in Nuvema Town learning how to actually fight when we were younger; you proved that back in the Dreamyard. I’m a blonde girl and half your weight. How do you think I felt?!” she continued, chuckling.
“What about me, Bianca? I’m not a girl.” Cheren said.
“You might as well be.” David replied under his breath.
“OOH BUUUURN!” Bianca said, doubling over laughing.
“Geeze, what is this, the pick-on-Cheren-hour?” Cheren said, folding his arms.
“Aww, are we hurting your widduh fweelings?” David said. “You want me to buy us some ice cweam?”
“One, screw you, but two, Castelia City is actually famous for its ice cream. They’ve got this restaurant called Castelia Cone that is known all around the world for its hand-churned ice cream. It’s said to even cure the wounds of Pokémon.” Cheren said back.
David cleared his throat and pointed up. Cheren stepped back onto the sidewalk and read the sign above the restaurant they had ducked into: “Castelia Cone”
“You know what? …I hate you guys…” Cheren said dejectedly. Bianca put her arm around David to support herself and laughed heartily. The group walked in and went to the counter to order.
* * *
Across the restaurant, two men sat with dejected looks on their faces. Small bowls of ice cream sat on the table between them, untouched and slowly melting. One of them reached for his spoon and fiddled with the flip of his frozen treat, but did not eat any. The other sighed.
“McCartney, we haven’t had a successful job in ages. Ever since those stupid kids stopped us back at the cave, it’s just been one failure after another. I still support the movement whole-heartedly and I’m committed to it, Pokémon should not be under the control of us humans, but I’m starting to wonder if maybe Team Plasma itself is what’s screwed up. The whole bureaucracy of it all…” Lennon said. He had a tired tone in his voice.
“I wouldn’t go that far, Lennon, I still think the organization is sound. But the movement’s never going to work if guys like us steal random Pokémon and set them free though. The power and influence the Sages wield is a valuable asset to our cause, but they never seem to use it. I’m still waiting for that one big strike to really get the ball rolling.” McCartney replied.
“Yeah, but I don’t think that’ll ever happen. The Sages seem pretty committed to the way things are going now. I guess it’s just up to us to keep stealing Pokémon and setting them fre- …oh Arceus…” he said, stopping his train of thought short.
“What? What is it?” his partner replied.
“Be cool, man, be cool. No sudden movements, but guess who just walked in?” Lennon asked.
“Lord Ghetsis?” McCartney answered excitedly.
“Ye- wait, what? No! Those kids, McCartney, the kids from Wellspring Cave! They just walked in and they’re at the counter!” Lennon replied, whispering under his breath.
“What?! They are?! What the hell are they doing here?!” McCartney stammered.
“Shh! Keep your voice down, damnit. Don’t blow our cover.” Lennon said. “Here, use this and see for yourself, carefully.” He slid a menu over to his partner and McCartney held it up in front of his face, looking slowly behind himself.
“I’ll be a Mankey’s uncle… it is them. What should we do?!” he whispered excitedly.
“I tell ya what we’re gonna do, McCartney, we’re going to lay low and not draw attention to ourselves. If those kids recognize us, they’ll let the whole damn city know. Let’s just stay cool and see what they do.” he replied.
The pair slouched in their seats and tried to act calm, blending into the crowded restaurant. Across the room, the group was just finishing ordering.
“And what would you like, miss?” the young woman behind the counter asked.
“Umm… I guess I’ll have the blueberry, please.” Bianca replied, putting a slender finger to her lips.
“You two go get us a table, I’ll get the tab.” David said, waving his friends away. Bianca and Cheren left and sat down, leaving David on his own.
“Hey uh, can you do something for me?” he said quietly to the server. “Can you make hers with two scoops? It’ll just be a little surprise.”
The young woman smiled and piled an extra ball of ice cream into the cone, filling it to the brim and then some. She slid the three cones into the tray and handed them to him as David put the money on the counter. David nodded a “thanks” and walked over to his friends.
“Alrighty, we’ve got the ball-of-crap flavored one for Cheren…” David said, handing one to Cheren.
“David, it’s chocolate, stop being a prick.” he replied angrily, but this only made Bianca laugh again.
“…the peanut butter cup one for me…” David said, setting his own cone down.
“…and the blueberry for Bianca.” he continued, handing the last one to Bianca and sitting down.
“Oh, wait… I think they made a mistake, David, this has two scoops.” Bianca said, concerned. “I thought I only ordered one.”
David smiled to himself and took a bite from his cone. A big smile spread across Bianca’s face as she realized what had happened. She looked down at her lap and blushed, muttering a small “thank you” under her breath. David didn’t speak, but his smirk grew bigger, continuing to stare at his ice cream. Cheren looked between his friends and sighed, taking a bite of his own. “Barf…” he said under his breath.
“David? Is that you?” they heard a man’s voice say from behind them. “Oh my gosh, it IS you! Hi!”
The group turned and saw the imposing figure of Burgh walking up with a young woman in tow. He pulled up a chair from an adjacent table and sat down.
“Hey buddy, how’s it going? Welcome to Castelia!” Burgh said excitedly. “I see you found our world famous Castelia Cone!”
“Oh, hey Burgh. Fancy running into you here. You remember Cheren and Bianca, right?” David said, shaking Burgh’s hand as he sat.
“Oh of course! How’s it going, kids?” he continued, still speaking excitedly.
“We’re fine, Burgh, thank you. How are you doing?” Cheren replied.
“Oh I’m just fabulous as always. I got all the inspiration I needed from my last trip to Nacrene thanks to you guys, and my painting is coming along super!” he replied. The girl he was with coughed politely and he turned to face her.
“Oh my gosh, I’m super sorry, I totally forgot! Everyone, this is Iris. She’s the apprentice of the Opelucid City Gym leader, Drayden. She’s here visiting me.” Burgh said.
The girl was dark skinned and had enormous purple hair. She had large eyes, but all her other features were comparatively small. She wore a tan gown with matching leggings and a large pink bow was tied around her skirt. She had a grin like David had only ever seen on Bianca before. She raised her outstretched hand and waved.
“Hiya guys, I’m Iris. Burgh was just showing me around town. I’m normally a bit of a jungle wild child back in Opelucid, so this big city is so new and exciting. I’ve only been in town a day and I’m already meeting lots of new people.” she said.
“So David, are you feeling excited for our Gym battle? We can do it later today if you want.” Burgh said.
“Wow, that’d be great, Burgh. The sooner the better I guess.” David replied.
“Oh this is going to be great! Three challengers in one day… I hope I’m stocked up on badges!” Burgh said.
“Gee, Burgh… you sure seem more… ‘energetic’ here than you did back in Nacrene.” Cheren said.
Burgh chuckled to himself loudly at the thought. “I go back to quiet little Nacrene to relax and get away from the big city. But when I’m here, it’s always ‘Go! Go! Go!’ You’re right though, I can be a little more open and loose when I’m here; Castelia is my home.” Burgh replied.
David and Cheren were finishing the last of their ice cream, but Bianca still had most of hers left. She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and put it to her stomach, slouching.
“Oh man, I don’t know that I can finish all this. This ice cream is so rich.” she said.
“World famous local specialty!” Burgh piped up.
Bianca took out a Pokéball and opened it. Zubat flew out and landed on her shoulder, screeching happily and shining in the light.
“You want to help me finish this, Zuzu?” Bianca said, offering the rest to her Pokémon. The Zubat screeched with joy, slowly working away at the berries and cream before it.
“Oh wow, Bianca, that’s a really pretty Pokémon!” Iris said. “Where’d you find him?”
“I met him in Wellspring Cave. Cheren says his coloring makes him really rare and valuable.” Bianca replied, patting Zubat on the head. It was devouring the ice cream rapidly, happily digging deeper and deeper into the cone. The small group continued talking and fawning over Zubat, but across the room, Lennon and McCartney began to stir.
“Lennon, you see that?! That girl’s got a shiny!” McCartney whispered excitedly. “That’s got to be the rarest, most valuable Pokémon I’ve ever seen!”
“I know, can you believe it?! That poor creature shouldn’t be getting fed ice cream from that twink girl, it should be famous and getting treated like a celebrity! That’s the kind of Pokémon we need in Team Plasma.” Lennon replied.
“Are you thinkin’ what I’m thinkin’?” McCartney replied.
“Yeah, I sure am. Let’s get out of here and get our uniforms on.” Lennon replied. The pair rose and casually left the restaurant.
* * *
A while later, after they had finished their food, the group’s conversation again began to drift back to the Gym.
“Well, you guys want to go on over to the Gym now? We can have our battle right away!” Burgh said.
“Sure, that’d be great, Burgh. Oh, and hey Cheren?” David replied.
“Yeah?” Cheren said lazily.
“First dibs.” David shouted quickly.
Cheren leaned forward quickly and started to speak, but Bianca beat him to the punch. “Second dibs!” she shouted, laughing to herself at Cheren’s defeat. Cheren sat back in his chair, scowling at his friends and folding his arms. Burgh and Iris laughed and waved for them to follow them to the Gym.
Outside, Lennon and McCartney stood in the alley, waiting for them to pass. Lennon began to speak.
“Alright, McCartney, you know the plan, right? I make a distraction, you grab the Zubat, then we split up and hightail it back to the base, got it?” he said.
“Got it. We’ll complete our mission for the glory of Team Plasma!” McCartney shouted.
“Okay, okay, keep your voice down… here they come…” Lennon replied.
Thunder crackled as the group walked out of the restaurant and down the street; the storm was starting to come into port and strike the city. Zubat was still perched on Bianca’s shoulder, unaware of the danger. The pair moved into position and began their strike.
Lennon dashed in front of them and ran to the other side of the road. He picked up the lids off some trash cans and began beating them together loudly. When the group turned to look at him, McCartney ran up from behind. He put a hand over Bianca’s mouth, stifling a scream, and grabbed the Zubat. A bolt of thunder boomed as he took off, illuminating the street in a blinding flash. He shoved her and began to run down the street, deeper into the city center. Lennon dropped his lids and started to run the other way, toward the wharves and down the adjacent street. Bianca fell into David just in time for him to turn and catch her. He helped her back up, realized what had happened, and took off after McCartney. The rest of the group took off after him a second later.
McCartney ran as fast as he could, holding his new treasure tightly. Zubat struggled to get free but couldn’t. It bit down into McCartney’s gloved hands and he winced.
“Zubat, hey, stop that! I’m trying to help you!” he said under his breath.
“STOP! THIEF!” David shouted, chasing after him. The people he passed in the streets heard him and turned to look, but none heard in time to stop McCartney as he ran. The throngs of people eventually became too great and David lost sight of him, unable to catch up. David kicked at the ground frustrated and waited for his friends to catch up.
“David, what happened? Where’d he go?” Burgh shouted as they ran up.
“Lost. The crowd was too thick and he got away… this Goddamn city and its self-important bastard citizens…” he said as he sat down on the corner. He was mad at the crowds for slowing him down, but he was more upset at himself for not being able to push through them. He had let Bianca down…
“David, you did your best. Thank you for what you did. None of us even realized what had happened by the time you took off after him.” Bianca said, kneeling next to him and putting her arm around him. He looked at her, her concerned face frowning a terrible frown. Tiny tears began to well up in her eyes and he turned away. Sad over losing Zubat or sad over how he felt, he didn’t know nor care the reason why; he just knew he never wanted to see that look on her face again. He shook off her arm and stood up, putting his hands in his pockets and turning away. The group grew somber, the crowds of people continuing to swarm around them, unaware of their plight. Above them, the thunderstorm had reached the city and it began to rain. The downpour was instant and heavy, drenching them as they stood in silence. They were lost like spirits in the uncaring and soulless city.
* * *
McCartney ran with all his might. He pushed onward to the Team Plasma base, trying to put the pain Zubat was inflicting to his hand out of his mind. The crowds began to thin as he went deeper into the city, and he looked around to make sure he wasn’t being followed. He wasn’t, so he slowed to a walk, casually strolling through the city, looking for the base. Suddenly, he heard a voice speak from behind him.
“McCartney.” Lennon said.
“Wah! Geeze, Lennon! Don’t scare me like that!” McCartney said, almost jumping out of his skin. “You’re gonna give me a heart attack.”
“Sorry. Come on; let’s get out of the rain. The HQ is right up ahead.” Lennon replied.
They continued walking down the street, trying to stay in the shadows so their uniforms wouldn’t give them away. A handful of the people they passed turned their heads, but none stopped them. They eventually came to an office building, completely ordinary and like any other, and went inside. They walked up to the counter and spoke to the receptionist there.
“We need to speak to a superior. Is there anyone here who can receive us?” Lennon asked her.
She pressed a button on her desk phone and began to speak into it.
“I need a supervisor in the lobby, please. Official request.” she said. She waited for a reply and then continued. “Yeah, hey Ben, this is Mary down in the lobby. I’ve got a couple of guys here who need a supervisor. Can you send someone down? …he’s what? …he’s here? …oh definitely, he’d be great. Thanks.” She hung up the phone and turned to look at the grunts.
“Looks like you two are in luck. Bronius of the Seven Sages is here and will be coming down shortly to receive your request. I hope you guys have something important to show him…” she said, turning back to her computer.
Lennon and McCartney turned to look at each other, smiles creeping along their faces. They thanked her and sat down in the lobby.
“We just scored a shiny Pokémon and we’re about to give it to one of the Seven Sages?!” McCartney said excitedly, still holding the tired Zubat. “Lennon my boy, I think our luck is about to change.”
A few moments later, the elevator doors opened and an elderly man stepped out. He was dressed much like Gorm had been in Pinwheel Forest. As he stepped out of the elevator, all the grunts bowed their heads and turned to face him. He approached Lennon and McCartney and began to speak.
“You have something to report, noble operatives?” he said in a booming voice.
“We do indeed, my lord. We have liberated this, a shiny Zubat, from an incompetent trainer here in town. We present it to you to determine how we shall proceed.” McCartney said, presenting the Pokémon to Bronius.
Bronius adjusted his spectacles and looked at the tired Pokémon. It had been fighting to break McCartney’s grip the entire time and was too worn out now to fly away. He shone in the bright lighting of the room, its mossy green body complementing its fleshy pink wings. A bolt of lightning struck as Bronius began to speak.
“You have done well, my servant. Team Plasma thanks you, this newly freed Pokémon thanks you, and soon, the world shall thank you. You both shall be promoted at once for this.” he said.
Lennon and McCartney turned to look at each other, grinning huge grins. Maybe their luck really was changing…
* * *
The group walked down the street in silence, reaching the Castelia City Gym at last. They looked up at its splendor through the rain but felt nothing. It was a beautiful building with a façade of stain glass artwork Burgh had designed, but to the depressed group, it was just another soulless building.
“This is such a bummer… I don’t even feel like battling anymore…” Burgh said, dejectedly.
“I don’t even think I can anymore, Burgh. I was counting on Zuzu’s Flying type attacks to beat you. I don’t know that I can do it with just Pachirisu.” said Bianca, tears welling up in her eyes again. She was soaking wet from the downpour and frozen to the bone.
“It’s alright, sweetie, I’ll battle you any time you’re ready.” said Burgh sympathetically. David felt sick; he must care about her more than he thought to be so emotionally invested though, it occurred to him. As they stood in the rain talking, David looked down the street and saw something. It must have been a hundred feet away, his vision obscured by the heavy rain, but he still saw perfectly clearly. He could feel his rage building as he looked on.
“What is it, David?” said Burgh, noticing David’s stare. David stood still, the rage rising up within him. He shook in fury; he clenched his fists, grit his teeth, and took off running headlong at what he saw.
“David, where are you going?!” Burgh shouted in shock.
David was tall and could take massive strides when he needed to. He ran as fast as he could, taking three to four foot steps with each push. The cold air stung his eyes, the rain drenched his clothing, freezing him to the bone, but he didn’t care and kept running. The man he had spied saw him coming and doubled back in shock. David drew near and leapt into the air; he brought his fists up and then launched the blow with all his might. His knuckles struck the man squarely in the jaw, knocking him to the ground and landing in a puddle. He was dressed in the garb of a Team Plasma grunt. As David landed, two more ran out from inside. David pivoted to face the new enemies and threw himself at the nearest one. He grabbed the man with both hands by the collar and pinned him to the wall.
“WHERE ARE THEY, YOU SCUMBAG?! WHERE ARE YOUR STUPID GODDAMN FRIENDS WHO STOLE HER POKČMON?!” David shouted at the man. He tried to struggle free but could not break David’s iron grip.
David caught a glimpse of the other man coming towards him out of the corner of his eye and spun away. The Plasma grunt threw his arm toward David in a loose and uncontrolled punch, but David had moved and the man fell over himself from the momentum of the clumsy strike. He fell into his partner, knocking them both to the ground.
“David, what are you doing?!” Burgh yelled as the rest of them ran up.
“They’re Plasma grunts! They’re all in here!” David shouted. His friends quickly understood what was happening.
Inside the building, Bronius was congratulating Lennon and McCartney on their work. Seeing the scuffle outside, the pair ran out to see what was happening. They stepped into the street and saw three of their comrades laying on the ground in defeat. David turned to face them and recognized their faces.
“YOU TWO!” he shouted. “YOU’RE THE ONES WHO STOLE IT!”
Lennon and McCartney looked at each other in surprise and terror and instinctively drew their Pokémon. They threw out Trubbish and Boldore, as Lennon’s Roggenrola had evolved, and the Pokémon stood ready to defend them.
Burgh and Iris began to draw their Pokéballs but David had already gotten Munchlax out. He shouted to it, “Munchlax, use Earthquake!”
It leapt into the air and crashed back down with tremendous strength. The ground shook and did terrific damage to both of the opposing Pokémon, the Ground type Earthquake being very effective against both the Rock and Poison type opponents. McCartney’s Trubbish was knocked out instantly, but Boldore’s Sturdy body let it withstand the hit. It stood, barely, and awaited its trainer’s command.
“Ack! No! Boldore, use Rock Blast!” Lennon shouted. It launched the flurry of stones towards Munchlax, but he was as enraged as David, fired up by his trainer’s passion, and dodged each one with grace atypical of his species. David ordered it to use Body Slam and it leapt into the air, landing on the opposing Boldore and KOing it. Lennon and McCartney both took steps back, unable to defend themselves a mere minute after they had put themselves into harm’s way.
David ran up to Lennon and grabbed him by the collar. He pinned him against the wall and shouted again “Where is it, you scumbag?! What have you done with Zubat?!” Before Lennon could answer though, he heard a voice speak from inside the building.
“That will be quite enough of that, young man. There will be no need for further violence. Come inside out of the rain at once and we’ll discuss this like civilized adults.” said the man. David turned, rage burning in his eyes, to see who would dare interrupt him at a time like this, and was taken aback by what he saw. Standing in the doorway, calmly staring at him with contempt and smug superiority, was Ghetsis himself. Ghetsis turned and slowly walked back into the building.
David released his grip on Lennon and backed away, still glaring at him. The pair nervously gathered their fallen comrades out of the rain and followed Ghetsis. The whole group, including Burgh, Iris, Bianca and Cheren, walked into the lobby and faced off.
“Well, young man, something has certainly sent you into a veritable tizzy. You physically attack three of my men and harm the Pokémon of two more in front of our headquarters?” Ghetsis asked him. “What have we done to deserve such behavior?”
“Tell me, Ghetsis…” David spat with contempt, “…is stealing Pokémon from girls and then feigning innocence the ‘civilized adult’ thing to do?”
The guards all moved angrily and uneasily towards him upon such brash use of their lord’s name, but Ghetsis silenced them and smiled.
“We do not ‘steal’ like common petty thieves, my boy, we liberate Pokémon from those who cannot properly care for them. Your friend…” pointing to Bianca, “…could not possibly take proper care of such a rare Pokémon as this.” Ghetsis said, motioning to a grunt. The guard stepped forward, holding the unconscious Zubat in his outstretched hands.
“Zuzu!” Bianca shouted, but Iris put a hand on her shoulder and stopped her.
“And what makes you think you can decide who is and isn’t capable of raising a Pokémon?!” David shouted in rage. “What makes you the arbitrary judges of whether a Pokémon is happier with its trainer or in the wild? What makes you above the law to say your stealing is different than that of ‘petty thieves?’” he continued. The venom and rage dripped from his voice and it reverberated around the room, bouncing off the walls and echoing.
“My boy, I remember you from the speech I gave in Accumula Town a few weeks ago. Don’t you remember my words from that day? We of Team Plasma seek to create a better world for the Pokémon of this planet; one that is free of the tyranny and oppression of humans. As the old adage goes, ‘you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.’” Ghetsis replied.
David started to speak again but Burgh spoke up before he could say anything. He stepped forward calmly, putting a hand on David’s shoulder and said “If I may… I’d like to interject something here.”
David lowered his shoulders and Burgh nodded to him. He continued, “I was there that day in Accumula Town too. I was visiting friends and just happened to be passing through the park during your speech. I did listen to your words and I took them to heart. Your speech moved me and it made me reconsider my relationship with my Pokémon friends. But I didn’t reach the same conclusion as you; in fact, I reached quite the opposite. You asked what our responsibilities to these wondrous creatures was, and while you drew the conclusion that it was liberation due to our own shortcomings, I drew that it was to better ourselves and make an existence with humans better for the Pokémon. I vowed to be better than I already was to my Pokémon partners, and I have already seen results. If you have a machine and a piece isn’t working, you don’t take that piece out of the machine and hope the system as a whole still works; you try and fix that part of the machine and understand that all the pieces work together for the greater good.” he said.
Burgh stepped back and stared at Ghetsis, a look of hope and sympathy spread across his face. Ghetsis lowered his head and stroked his beard, considering the Gym leader’s words. After a moment of silence, he began to speak and pace.
“In my attempts to create the world for Pokémon that I seek, I brought together many of the brightest minds of our time. I crafted my council of elders, the ‘Seven Sages of Team Plasma.’ These men represent the best and brightest of our organization and help me to attain that end goal.” he said. “I respect people with intelligence, although, perhaps in hindsight, putting our headquarters just down the street from a Pokémon Gym was an unintelligent thing to do…” he said, shooting a look at Bronius. Bronius put his hands beneath his cloak and looked to the ground in embarrassment. Ghetsis continued, “…putting that aside, however, you have demonstrated good intelligence and reasoning here today, Gym leader, and I respect you for it. Though I still agree with my original conclusion, I can understand how you drew yours. As a sign of goodwill towards you, I will return the stolen Pokémon.”
Ghetsis indicated to the grunt holding Zubat to move forward and give it back to Bianca. Lennon and McCartney stood dumbstruck as they watched their golden ticket to success slip away. The grunt was apprehensive, but gave the little bat back to its trainer. Bianca stepped forward and timidly took her Pokémon back, mumbling a frightened “T-t-thank you…” as she received him.
Ghetsis closed his eye and smiled. He continued to speak. “Although I recognize you as an intelligent adversary, you are still just that: an adversary. Do not think for a moment this will change my views on our end goal; I still seek to create that perfect world for Pokémon, void of any human control. But I recognize now that brute force…” looking at David, “… is not the way to achieve it. Team Plasma operatives shall no longer steal Pokémon from trainers in an attempt to liberate them, so I decree. Instead, we must focus on changing the hearts and minds of trainers around the world, and convincing them to willingly release their Pokémon. We have a difficult task ahead of us, but with intelligent and reasoning people in the world like you, Mr. Burgh, I know we will be successful.”
As he finished his statement, he looked at the receptionist across the room and mouthed something to her. She saw his gesture and flipped a switch on her desk. The lights began to dim and smoke began to pour into the room.
“I’m afraid we must take our leave now, Gym leader. This headquarters shall be sold and we shall never return to it again. It was foolhardy to move in here in the first place, but true stupidity would be to stay once we have recognized that mistake. You have won this battle, and I congratulate you for it, but we shall win the war.” Ghetsis said calmly. By the time he had finished, the room was flooded in complete darkness and the smoke cover was very thick. They couldn’t see anything and choked on the noxious fumes. When the lights came back on and the smoke had cleared, all the Plasma members were gone.
David stood, his fists and teeth still clenched. They had gotten Bianca’s Pokémon back, but Ghetsis had made a fool of him in front of her. He vowed he would stop Team Plasma some day, once and for all.
“Well…” Burgh said with a sigh, trailing off.
Outside, the rain was letting up and they began to walk silently back to the Gym. The sun was beginning to shine through the gray clouds, illuminating the city. It sparkled in the light, a glittering jewel of a city, but all that glitters is not gold. They prepared themselves for their Gym challenges and entered the building.
* * *
“This will be a 1-on-1 Pokémon battle between David of Nuvema Town, the challenger, and Burgh of Nacrene City, the Castelia City Gym Leader.” Iris shouted. “Each trainer will be allowed two Pokémon. I will be the judge of this match, and shall determine when a Pokémon is unable to continue. Everybody ready?” she continued, smiling during the last sentence. Burgh and David nodded, and the battle began.
“Whirlipede, come out, my friend!” Burgh shouted. He threw his Pokéball into the field and a massive Whirlipede came out, landing on the ground with a resounding “thud!” It screeched menacingly and stared at David, rolling gently back and forth in anticipation.
“Are you ready to go, Paula?” David thought to himself.
“Yes, master.” she replied calmly. He took her Pokéball from his hip and threw it into the air to oppose the Whirlipede. She landed gracefully, singing a beautiful, clear note as she landed.
“This should be a good matchup.” Cheren commented to Bianca. “Whirlipede’s Bug type attacks will be very effective against Kirlia since she’s a Psychic type, but Kirlia’s Psychic type attacks will be equally effective against Whirlipede since it is part Poison. They both have a type advantage over each other.” The Pokémon stood, sizing each other up, and waiting for their trainers to call out commands.
“Paula, use Double Team!” David shouted. Paula sprang into action, creating many illusory copies of herself and surrounding the Whirlipede. It calmly stood still and looked around itself, sizing up the fakes and trying to determine the real one. The copies all closed their eyes and began to hum, concentrating and calming themselves in preparation to attack.
“Whirlipede, use your Screech!” Burgh shouted. Whirlipede took in a large breath and began to cry, emitting a deafening whine. The copies all grasped their ears and slowly began to fade as Paula’s concentration broke. Eventually they all faded from view and the real Paula appeared, standing just to the side of the massive bug. Her Defense stat had been lowered and she was vulnerable to attack.
“Excellent, now use Bug Bite!” Burgh commanded. The Whirlipede bared its fangs and leapt to attack. Paula shook off the disorientation from the Screech but stumbled as she saw it jumping towards her.
“Paula, get out of there! Teleport!” David shouted. She shut her eyes tightly and vanished just as the enemy Pokémon landed where she had been. Whirlipede ate the dust and shook off the recoil as she appeared behind it; it turned for another strike, now facing its opponent on even footing. David commanded for Paula to use Confusion and the two forces met each other in midair. The giant bug was sailing through the air, baring its fangs and hissing menacingly at Paula as it moved in to strike; the blast from Confusion flew out from Paula’s body, rushing to meet its foe and protect her from the attack. When the two forces met, a massive explosion sent dust and debris flying; David and Burgh had to shield their eyes, unable to see the outcome of the struggle. When the dust settled, both Pokémon lay on the ground, unable to continue the fight.
Iris spoke up, “Both Pokémon are unable to continue. The score is 1-1, with each trainer having one remaining Pokémon. The battle will be decided by the next round.”
“Are you alright, Paula?” David thought, but she was already gone. He returned her to her Pokéball and refocused himself back on the fight. He drew Munchlax’s Pokéball and sent it flying out to the field.
“Munchlax, go!” David shouted. Burgh responded with his final Pokémon a moment later.
“Leavanny, please help me, my old friend!” he shouted. A tall, limber Leavanny leapt from the ball and struck a fighting position opposite David on the field. It brought its blade-like arms to bear and slashed them down powerfully and defiantly, breaking the air as they went. Iris looked at the two trainers to make sure they were prepared and then shouted for the match to begin.
“Leavanny, use your String Shot!” Burgh commanded. Leavanny shot a thin, sticky string from its mouth toward Munchlax. It coated the little Pokémon, immobilizing it as it struggled to break free. Munchlax wriggled desperately, but couldn’t break the bonds. It slowed Munchlax down considerably and prevented the use of his arms.
“Munchlax, try a Body Slam!” David shouted. Munchlax scuttled along, waddling more so than usual without the use of its arms to steady it, and leapt into the air towards Leavanny. The foe’s Leavanny was much too quick for the slow little Pokémon now though and it nimbly sidestepped, Munchlax landing like a sack of bricks to the ground. Munchlax rolled itself over and tried to stand, but couldn’t. It was stuck on its back, helpless.
“Leavanny, use Slash.” Burgh said calmly. Leavanny struck quickly and decisively, swiping at Munchlax’s confined body. David ordered for Munchlax to hit back with Crunch, but snap as he might, he couldn’t bring his neck up far enough to reach the Leavanny’s body.
Leavanny got careless and let its tail get too close to Munchlax’s snapping mouth. It took a mighty bite down and snapped at its hanging tail. Leavanny hissed in pain, rearing back and glaring at the still bound Pokémon lying on the ground. Burgh ordered it to finish Munchlax off with Bug Bite and it flew towards its opponent, passion burning in its eyes.
David began to call out a command to his Pokémon, but he realized Munchlax was doing something on its own; a red energy was slowly starting to glow from beneath Munchlax’s bonds, smoking and burning away at them. David recognized Munchlax had a plan and shouted out to it.
“Munchlax, it’s up to you!” he yelled. As the Leavanny drew close, Munchlax burst free from its bonds, breaking them with a mighty Fire Punch. It let Leavanny come and smashed into it with its inflamed fist. The Grass/Bug type Pokémon was sent flying back, taking severe damage from the flaming blow and landing with a resounding “thud!” Munchlax had revealed that it knew Fire Punch!
Leavanny struggled to rise, but couldn’t. Burgh called out to it, but it was to no avail. Leavanny lifted its head slightly off the ground, trembled, and then fell back down, unable to continue. Iris called out “Leavanny is unable to battle. Munchlax and David are the winners!”
Munchlax seared off the rest of its bonds and ran toward David, arms held wide. David bent down, not wanting to repeat his mistake from the Nacrene Gym and try to lift the heavy tike, and embraced his Pokémon on the ground. He took a handful of kernels of food from his bag and threw them into the air. Munchlax opened his mouth wide and caught each of them, chewing happily to itself and shouting an excited “Munch!”
Burgh recalled his Pokémon with a smile on his face and walked out to meet David on the field. The trainers shook hands and Burgh congratulated him. “You have done, excellent, my friend. You have proven that you are both an excellent battler, and a kindhearted lover.” Burgh said.
“A what?!” David said, shocked by the last thing Burgh had called him. Burgh laughed and simply said “You don’t hide it well. She knows.” David blushed and looked at Bianca. She didn’t appear to have heard what Burgh had said and was clapping for her friend along with Cheren. David looked back to Burgh and smiled. David had won at the Castelia City Gym!
* * *
Later that night, David was lying on his bed in the Pokémon Center, trying to rest. Cheren and Bianca had gone on to win their battles too, each earning their Insect Badges from Burgh. Bianca had managed to sweep Burgh using Zubat’s powerful Wing Attack to make short work of his Bug types; Cheren had skillfully employed Eevee’s raw power and speed with advantageous timing of Wish to secure their victory. They were all up to 3 badges out of 8 at this point; they were making excellent progress.
David lay on top of his bed, staring up at the ceiling. He couldn’t sleep though and looked at the clock: 10:30pm. He slipped into his shoes and took Paula’s Pokéball off the nightstand. He released her from it and she popped out.
“Hey, Paula. I’m going to go for a walk, you want to come?”
“Certainly, master. I love spending time with you.” she replied cheerily. The pair left the Pokémon Center quietly, heading into the damp evening streets.
The roads were still wet from the storm earlier in the day. The streets were, for the most part, empty now that the sun had set; a stark contrast from earlier in the day when the crowds were so thick you couldn’t even walk through them. David grumbled under his breath at this fact as Paula walked alongside him. The pair walked without a direction, aimlessly going wherever their legs carried them. The crisp air felt nice and stimulated the mind. They eventually reached a very narrow street in the heart of the city and went down it.
It was practically an alleyway, too narrow to fit a car down and with very few shops along its sidewalks. A flickering neon sign hung from one of the doors. It was flashing slowly in alternating colors, and one of the letters was partially burned out. David stopped and read it: “Café Sonata.” The pair entered and a bell chimed softly as he opened the door.
The smoky lounge was almost empty. It had old hardwood floors and wood paneling along the walls. Shag carpeting covered one corner, flanked by a couple of old, worn sofas. Cigarette smoke drifted lazily through the air, and the smell of cheap beer and sweat filled the room. A few scattered patrons sat in one corner, drinking quietly to themselves and listening to a man gently strum his guitar from a barstool. The bartender stood behind the counter cleaning a dirty glass with an old rag, a haggard expression in his eyes. David stepped in and walked over to him.
“Hey, um… I’m not 21. Is it okay for me to be in here?” he asked.
“You see anyone who’ll stop you?” the bartender responded in a disinterested tone. David took a seat at the bar, Kirlia levitating up to the seat next to him on the left. David looked to his right and saw a man seated a few rows down from him, face down on the counter and loosely gripping a bottle. He was drunk, passed out and fast asleep in his seat. David shook his head and turned back to the bartender.
“I can’t drink yet. Can I just have a bottle of Quinine water?” David asked. The bartender rolled his eyes and fetched David his drink, setting it down gently on the clean bar. David asked Paula if she wanted anything but she replied that she didn’t.
David took his glass off the counter and turned around, looking into the empty room. He took a sip from his drink and sighed, looking at all the sadness around him. He spied a large, well worn grande piano sitting on a rug, unattended and with the lid closed. He took another sip as he looked at it.
“Does anyone ever play that piano, sir?” he asked the bartender.
“Nah… that poor thing hasn’t been played in years.” the bartender replied, not looking up from his glass. His rag was filthy and he wasn’t really making the glass any cleaner, but he kept it up out of boredom. He continued, “I keep it tuned though. Couldn’t tell ya why.”
David took another sip from his drink as the guitarist in the corner finished his quiet song. He packed his guitar away in its case and left the bar. David turned back around to the bartender.
“Do you mind if I play it for a while? I used to play when I was younger.” David asked.
“Knock yourself out, kid. You can even collect tips if you’re any good.” he replied.
David finished his drink and set the glass down on the counter. Paula put her hand in his and he helped her down from her high seat as he walked over to it. He sat down and opened the lid, inspecting the well worn keys. They were chipped and scratched, a thick layer of dust on them, but they all still appeared to work. Paula teleported herself up on top of the long back and lay down on her side with her knee bent upwards like an old film actress from the ‘20s. She sang beautiful, clear notes along with the melody David played when he began.
David pressed one of the keys and it made a sound: C#. He checked the pedals, making sure they still worked too. Satisfied it was all in working order, he began to play quietly to himself.
[Author’s Note: Sung to the tune of “ˇViva la Gloria!” by Green Day]
♫ Hey Bianca, tell me what I ought to think.
Am I all that you deserve? I’m standing on the brink.
Your innocence, do you or do you not know?
The smile I see on your lips, is it just there for show?
I do my best to stay the course, hoping you will see.
But it takes just too much force now, you mean that much to me.
Hey Bianca, is this what I ought to think?
Should I tell you what I feel? This undying love… ♫
David finished his song and closed the lid. He looked up at Paula, still lying on top of the aged old piano. She smiled at him warmly. He heard a slow clapping come from across the room and he looked up to see someone standing in the doorway. She stood with her feet together, quietly clapping for his little piece. He blushed when he realized who it was: Bianca.
She stopped clapping and slowly walked up to him. She sat next to him on the bench and put her hand on top of his on the keys. She turned to look at him, staring straight into his eyes. Her big, bright blue eyes shone in the dim light of the bar, and she wore a calm smile on her lips.
“That was really nice, David.” she said calmly. David muttered a thanks and she smiled bigger. She put her arm around his back and continued, resting her cheek on his shoulder.
“I just wanted to thank you for what you did today. I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose my little Zuzu for good. You took off after that man before the rest of us had even realized what had happened. And then at the headquarters, you attacked those men so fiercely, you were trying to protect Zuzu and I. That was the sweetest thing anyone’s ever done for me. Thank you.” she said sweetly.
She stared into his eyes for a few more seconds after saying this. David could feel a cold sweat break on his brow, and he could feel himself getting warm. Bianca smiled again, then leaned in and kissed him softly on the cheek.
“Thank you again.” she said quietly and stood up, leaving the bar.
David sat there in shock for several more minutes, staring off into space at the door. Paula quietly watched him, a small smile spread across her face. Eventually, David turned to look at her. She gracefully rose, stretched, and levitated off the piano. She walked over to him and sat down next to him on the bench. She rested her head on his side and he put his arm around her. The two of them sat there until closing time, thinking calmly to themselves.