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Thread: Operation GEAR: The Victory Star of Fate (PG-13, NaNoWriMo 2011)

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    Default Operation GEAR: The Victory Star of Fate (PG-13, NaNoWriMo 2011)

    I’ve put a lot of work and planning into this story, so I hope that as it unfolds, you all can enjoy it. It will serve as my entry for NaNoWriMo 2011 and is the followup to Operation GEAR: The Firestorm Rebellion; however, it’s not quite necessary to read that first as the events of

    Be advised up front that this story contains some strong violence and language, and scenes of disaster that may be disturbing to some.

    With all of that out of the way, let’s get going, shall we?

    -:-


    PROLOGUE





    [A shadowed Earth is seen, and the shadows gradually lift to reveal the planet in full.]

    Pokémon, the incredible creatures that dwell in every corner of our planet. With over six hundred known kinds and many more awaiting discovery, every part of the world has a Pokémon story to tell.

    [In a thick forest, Petilil, Lilligant, Venipede, Whirlipede, Scolipede, Blitzle and Zebstrika lounge in and around a huge tree. Several Samurott, Lumineon, Gastrodon, Luvdisc, Huntail and Gorebyss swim in the deep ocean. A desert plays host to Dwebble, Crustle, Sandile, Trapinch, Vibrava, Flygon and a single Volcarona. Finally, Seel, Dewgong, Spheal, Sealeo, Walrein, Mamoswine and Abomasnow live on an icy tundra near the water.]

    While many are common, there are some that have disappeared into the pages of legend…

    [Cobalion, Terrakion and Virizion line up next to each other on a cliff and roar in unison. Overhead, Tornadus, Thundurus and Landorus fly past. In an old town, Reshiram and Zekrom tower over the land, looking up at a giant castle sticking out of the top of a mountain.]

    There are many ways that Pokémon and people can interact. The biggest of them is the Pokémon battle, when trainers and their Pokémon compete against others to determine supremacy.

    [On board a subway train, a red-haired girl wearing a yellow hat and yellow gloves along with a bluegreen vest over her navy-blue shirt is battling a man in a black-and-brown conductor’s uniform. The girl is using Bisharp, while the man has a Haxorus out. A second train drives past in the opposite direction; inside, a boy with blonde hair and an orange jacket is using Vanilluxe and Jellicent against the Eelektross and Durant owned by his opponent, the white-and-brown-clad twin of the conductor from the first train.]

    Now…

    Whitegold City is a city in the southeast of the Kanto Region. Known for its rich folklore as well as its booming business district, it is the destination of Matt Chiaki, his adoptive daughter and student Olivia Mistbloom and friends Nekou Langley and Bunny Spruce. Together, the four of them solved the mystery behind the lost city of Argyros in the mountains near the Indigo Plateau, even travelling back in time to witness the history behind the war that nearly led to Argyros’s destruction. Now, they head for Whitegold City for Matt to give a speech on his newly-developed energy system, but little do they know, an even greater adventure awaits…


    -:-

    The doors of the elevator opened right after the bell that indicated its arrival sounded. An old man, dressed well in a dark blue suit with golden arches going around his body from the four buttons on its front, stepped out. A blue combination cap with an emblem of a hexagonal snowflake Pokémon sat atop his head, and his well-polished brown leather shoes tapped loudly on the metal floor of the laboratory.

    Raising his right hand up alongside his head, which was framed by blue-gray, shoulder-length hair and a thick beard of similar coloration, the man flashed a ‘V’ symbol and announced, “Victory Star!”

    Three other people were in the lab already. There were two men in dark suits, one with thick red hair and the other with thin blue hair. They both were wearing dark sunglasses and had an insignia of an anchor merged with the letter ‘E’ on their breast pockets.

    Along with them was a young female scientist dressed in a black lab coat. She also wore rectangular glasses, along with a flower-shaped hair clip to keep the front of her knee-length, dark purple hair out of her face. While the other two were waiting for the arrival of the old man on the elevator, she was simply sitting at a large computer bank placed right in front of three large monitors.

    “Victory Star!” both of the men responded, returning the salute given to them by their leader.

    The red-haired man was the first to offer some new information. "Captain Everton, sir, the latest reports are in. The device's effectiveness in sectors three and four has been at within 90% or greater of what we anticipated. "

    “Shall we prepare for security measure D-10, sir?” asked the guard with blue hair.

    The old man, Captain Everton, nodded quietly to his two subordinates. He then slowly walked over to the bank of computers, where he towered over the silent scientist.

    “Activate the Dreamyarn Inceptor,” he commanded, the lights from the computers shining in the monocle covering his left eye. “Show me the dreams of the Pokémon that have been put to sleep!”

    “Y-yes, Captain Everton, sir…” demurred the woman, clearly afraid of what Everton might do if she disobeyed. “Activating the Dreamyarn Inceptor…”

    After the scientist tapped several keys on her wide keyboard to enter the command, a nearby capsule illuminated, revealing a curled-up, pink-and-purple Pokémon that was vaguely porcine in appearance. Though she was not sleeping, her eyes were closed. A powerful energy pulse was suddenly forced through her body, making her writhe violently.

    “Mushaaaaaaaaanaaaa!!” was the cry that echoed through the lab. The Pokémon was in an agonizing amount of pain and her trainer, the scientist, knew it. Even though the woman thought she was responsible for this travesty, however, she felt powerless to stop it. Everton was simply too powerful.

    The center monitor in her computer network lit up with a scanner map of all of Whitegold City. On the map the city was divided into four sections, two of which were glowing. The computer automatically zoomed into those two areas, then divided the screen into numerous different views.

    “I see,” Everton said as he evaluated the vantage points of the city he was receiving. A broad smile crept onto his face. “So, Victini, you haven’t come out of hiding yet. That’s fine. I haven’t even gotten started yet.” Turning away from the screens, Everton ordered, “Fennel, stay here and operate the Dreamyarn Inceptor. Foster, Baker, you two come with me. We have work to do.”

    -:-

    A large part of Whitegold City was its marshes, which seemed to stretch on forever in a mass of thick trees and dark water. Somewhere within this murky maze was a shack with a back porch right on the water.

    An elderly woman dressed in ragged clothing lived there, and she was sweeping her floors with the help of her Gothitelle, a Pokémon with the appearance of a girl in a dress made up of conical black sections, each fronted with a white ribbon.

    Quite suddenly, Gothitelle stiffened up. The four flattened, disc-like protrusions on each side of her head became still.

    “Gothi…” she said nervously.

    “Gothitelle, what’s wrong?” asked the woman of her Pokémon. “Wait… I think I sense it too. A terrible tragedy is about to unfold in this city…”





    Pokémon:
    Operation GEAR

    [A ground-level view from within some thick underbrush is seen.]

    Troy Baker
    Trina Nishimura
    Bridget Hoffman
    Caitlin Glass

    [The view switches to the surface of dark water briefly before submerging.]

    Lisa Ortiz
    Colleen Clinkenbeard
    J. Michael Tatum
    Crispin Freeman
    Vic Mignogna
    Kari Wahlgren
    Rachael Lillis
    Saori Hayami
    Shinichiro Miki

    featuring Michael Ironside as Captain Liam Everton

    [The view switches to scaling the side of a tall skyscraper; at the top it merges into churning black storm clouds.]

    -The Victory Star of Fate -


    -:-

    Whitegold City’s highly developed business district was right on the shore of a wide river, which was bisected by a large iron bridge. Underneath the blazing sun, a two-level ferry boat sailed through the glittering waters toward a ferry station at the edge of the city.

    Inside the second-floor cabin on the boat, a group of four people were sitting at a table in the midst of watching a video being played introducing the passengers to Whitegold City.

    When the sole male member of the group – a very tall man dressed in a silver-lined blue longcoat with golden feather patterns on the lapels – sighed deeply, it incited a reaction from one of his companions, a curvaceous young woman with long black hair accented with red streaks.

    “What’s the matter, Matt?” she ribbed him, shifting herself around in her seat. “Has the stage fright bug gotten to you?”

    “Oh, shut up, Nekou,” Matt shot back, running his hand through his shoulder-length blonde hair, having removed the wide-brimmed, feather-crested blue hat he usually wore. “I’m not in the mood to deal with your nonsense at the moment.”

    “Well that’s fine! It’s not like I was going to help you, anyway, I was making fun of you!”

    “Sure. By the way, fix your shirt.”

    Matt wasn’t saying this just to insult her; Nekou’s blue top – which was only buttoned in one place so as to reveal both her midriff and quite a bit of her cleavage – was beginning to become undone. Flushing intensely, Nekou fixed the button and covered herself with her arms.

    “I-I… you haven’t earned that right yet!”

    “Like you’re giving your speech dressed like that?” interjected the youngest of the group, a fourteen-year old girl wearing a blue cape and pink boots. Her cape matched the color of her long hair, which ended in thick curls over her shoulders, and had the same silver lining as Matt’s coat.

    “Olivia, please, don’t start…” Matt said, clearly exasperated by having to deal with both Nekou and now Olivia as well. “We’re all getting clothes for the speech, alright?”

    “Olivia, I’ll help you pick something out,” the fourth member of the group, a woman in her early thirties with brown twintails.

    “But don’t you already have your outfit, Bunny?”

    Olivia had a point; Bunny’s black-and-gray business suit was already quite formal. “Well, that’s true, but I want to look nice for Matt’s speech too.”

    “I’ll help you pick something out too then!”

    Bunny and Olivia’s exchange was interrupted by the arrival of a member of the ferry’s staff. “Do you four have passes already?”

    “Passes?” Matt asked. He had been caught well off-guard by the sudden question.

    “Captain Everton has a rule in place that everyone inside Whitegold City’s boundaries must have an identification pass of some kind,” explained the man. “It’s for security purposes. There are two types of passes, one for residents of the city and one for guests.”

    “The four of us are guests of Everton, actually,” Bunny informed.

    “I see. Well, allow me to take your pictures and I’ll get those guest passes ready right away.”

    Everything was going smoothly until the man took a camera out of his jacket. The moment she saw it, Nekou flinched and hid behind Matt, clenching his sleeve as she did so.

    “No!” she screeched in a highly defensive manner.

    “Wait…” Matt’s eyes widened as he realized what was going on. “You’re afraid of getting your picture taken, aren’t you?” When he saw her nod nervously, he knew the solution right away. “You can be in the picture with me. They can use the same picture for both of our passes.”

    It took a moment for Nekou to come to accept this offer, and she emerged enough from behind Matt to be seen in the picture. Nevertheless, she never let go of his arm and jumped noticeably when the camera’s flash went off. Bunny and Olivia, meanwhile, got their pictures taken without incident, and the man went off to create the passes.

    After a minute of somewhat awkward silence, Nekou blurted out, “I just don’t like doing it! It doesn’t make me a bad…”

    “Nekou, relax, there’s nothing to worry about,” Matt consoled her. “So you’re afraid of getting your picture taken. Big deal. I’m afraid of the dark and I’m almost thirty.”

    “Y-you’re right… sorry…”

    “Don’t worry about it,” Matt said with a smile.

    “I like getting my picture taken,” Olivia chimed in at random. “You know why? Someone has to look at you to do it.”

    “You sure do like attention, don’t you…” Matt sarcastically uttered under his breath, while adjusting the unusual glasses on his face. Only the right-hand half appeared to be normal, blue-tinted circular glasses, while the left side was actually a golden face mask in the shape of a stylized Ho-oh with a purple rose-pattern eyepiece over where his left eye was.

    Just then, the man from the ferry staff arrived holding four credit card-sized passes. They were mainly colored black but also had a gold trim around the edges.

    “Sorry to have kept you waiting. Four Whitegold City guest passes, right here.”

    Matt and Nekou received their passes first, and as planned, both cards had the picture of Nekou hiding partially behind Matt on them. Olivia had made an over-the-top pose for hers, looking over her shoulder slightly and winking. Bunny’s was the tamest of the lot, featuring her just staring straight ahead into the camera.

    “Thanks for everything.” Flipping a coin from his pocket to the man as a tip, Matt added, “Take care of yourself.”

    “Attention all passengers,” a female voice interrupted through the PA system on the ferry. “We will be making port in Whitegold City in a few minutes. Please have your passes ready.”

    Taking up his messenger bag, which had six silver buttons and a crest pattern based on a legendary Pokémon on it, Matt turned to his three female teammates. “Well, it’s finally just about time. Let’s have a good time in Whitegold City, alright?”





    END of PROLOGUE
    Last edited by The Great Butler; 2nd November 2011 at 9:47 AM.

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  2. #2
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    Nice prologue there! Wee for the Dreamyarn Inceptor and the appearance of Captain Everton! LOL I know the Victory Star reference. I still totally need to watch more episodes of that show (still haven't gotten the chance to catch up yet). x_x

    The next part with Matt and the girls I like a lot, great interactions there. Aw poor Nekou not liking her pictures being taken. I don't too actually, heh. I laughed aloud though when Matt told her she needed to fix her shirt, haha.

    Off to good start so far! Sorry for short review, prologue is quite short and don't really have much to say. ^^; I'll leave a much better review when the first chapter comes!


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  3. #3

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    Excellent work on the prologue and picking up on GEAR so smoothly. You did excellent work here- recapping the events of OG, setting up this story in a way that really draws in the reader.

    The scene introducing Everton, in particular, was very well-written and cinematic, and Olivia and Nekou were adorable as always. I liked Nekou being scared of the camera, and Olivia being a jerk to Matt about his clothes- they established their personalities well, as did showing Bunny as the straight woman role.

    Your description in this prologue was handled really well. The way you've been describing some very hard to describe Pokemon is great and does a good job showing what they look like, and it all flows nicely.

    I can't wait for the first chapter!
    Last edited by Matori; 3rd November 2011 at 7:04 AM.

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    I'm liking the start of this so far. Everton was introduced in a stylistic, interesting fashion, which was well put together and dragged me in to keep reading it, because you really can't get the full picture. But even after reading it, there's still some missing pieces, and that's one of the things that keeps me running back in for more.

    The pass scene was funny and light-heated. Who would've thought Nekou was that afraid of having her picture taken? But we all have our odd fears, and it makes her human, and that's always good. It gives us readers some realistic, believable characters to relate to. The fact that she and Matt had their photos taken together was adorable, as well as Olivia being over the top.

    Again, this is a great start. I can't wait for our first chapter to make its way in!
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    CHAPTER 1: Darkrai’s Shadow

    -:-

    The ferry port was a considerably spacious building sitting right on the banks of the river. After their ferry arrived, Matt, Nekou, Olivia and Bunny wasted no time in making their way back outside, to the streets of Whitegold City itself.

    “Oh, wow!” Olivia beamed, her eyes glittering with excitement. “Whitegold City is really cool! The buildings are all so huge!”

    “Stay interested, Olivia,” Matt said to encourage her. “The first thing we have to do is go shopping to get some clothes. There should be some good stores not far from here, so let’s get going.”

    -:-

    Beneath Whitegold City, a sprawling system of spacious tunnels unfolded. They were unusually large to just be sewers, but their purpose was not clear. Inside the tunnels, a canal of water flowed down the middle of each corridor, while paths bordered the water on both sides, periodically bisecting it with a bridge.

    On one of these wide paths, Everton, Foster and Baker were riding on an open-cabbed hover-truck equipped with a flatbed. Foster was driving the vehicle, and several crates of varying sizes were secured on its cargo carrier.

    “Stop here,” Everton commanded, having been monitoring the progress of the truck in moving through the city on a small, dashboard-mounted computer.

    Foster complied, and the truck stopped near a large doorway that led to a freight elevator. Everton and his two henchmen disembarked from the truck and apprised the cargo they had been carrying.

    “Get the uppermost crate off there and into the elevator,” he instructed his two employees. “Cryogonal, help them!”

    From the interior pocket of his jacket, Everton produced a sphere with a black-and-yellow top – an Ultra Ball – and threw it upward, releasing the snowflake Pokémon that the emblem on his hat was based on. It was actually quite large, nearly five feet in height, and had a shiny, sky-blue surface. Two glowing green eyes peered out from an opening in its body, and just below the eyes, chains of green ice crystals hung down. Cryogonal’s appearance was also accompanied by an unusual golden shine around it, indicating that it was not its usual coloration.

    “Understood, sir. Throh, come out!”

    “And Sawk, you come out as well!”

    From the two Poké Balls thrown by Foster and Baker, two humanoid Pokémon emerged. Foster’s Throh was squat, rotund and red in color with a thick black nose and eyebrows. Baker’s Sawk, his blue counterpart, was much thinner, taller, and only had an eyebrow over his left eye. Both were wearing white robes tied with black belts.

    As it had been directed, Everton’s Cryogonal extended its ice chains to ensnare a handle on the top of the crate. Despite not being the largest piece of cargo on the truck, the container was quite heavy, and Cryogonal had to struggle to lift it. Everton plainly didn’t care, however.

    Eventually, Cryogonal managed to heft the container off the truck and onto the waiting shoulders of Throh and Sawk. They had much more strength than the Ice-type did, so carrying the weight was less challenging for them. Foster and Baker guided them to the doors of the freight elevator, which Everton had already activated and opened. The two guards followed their Pokémon inside, themselves followed by their leader and his Cryogonal.

    While Baker pulled the doors of the elevator shut, Everton reached into his jacket to retrieve another Ultra Ball. “It’s time to keep going. Klinklang!”

    The second Ultra Ball released Everton’s Klinklang, a Pokémon made up of three interlocking silver gears affixed to a fourth, larger gear. On the uppermost gear, there was a crude face comprised of a single eye, a white ‘X’ and a round mouth.

    “Klinklang, power the elevator with Discharge.”

    “Klink, klink, klink…” the Steel-type Pokémon droned as it moved into position. It affixed the spiked rim surrounding its body into a matching slot on a platform next to the elevator’s door, then released the electricity contained in its red core gear through its spikes.

    In an instant the elevator came to life, illuminating from the power surging through it. It lurched briefly, then began rising at a steady clip, taking its passengers and cargo upward.

    “Captain Everton, sir…” Foster piped up, “Why does this elevator have to be powered by your Klinklang specifically when all the others don’t? I don’t really understand.”

    “Security. What’s in this warehouse can’t be let out to just anyone. And I don’t pay you to understand, you get paid to do what you’re told! That’s what you two do!”

    Foster was sufficiently cowed by his boss’s outburst, while Baker did not visibly react at all. Despite the difference between their responses, the result was the same – the rest of the elevator ride up to the warehouse was spent in silence aside from Klinklang’s busy humming.

    When the elevator abruptly stopped at its destination, Everton simply walked over to the doors, opened them, and said, “Let’s go. Bring the crate.”

    As its master left the elevator, Klinklang disconnected from the power mechanism and floated alongside Cryogonal, then the two of them followed him out. Foster and Baker went next, trailed finally by Throh and Sawk, who were carrying the crate.

    The warehouse was dim and the air inside its confines smelled rather musty. A direct path was shown to the conspirators as they made their way to their destination, the single large crate in the center of the facility, by the lamp positioned above it.

    When the group stopped walking, there was a moment of silence before Baker turned and said, “Put the crate down.”

    Sawk immediately complied, lowering his side of the crate carefully to the floor. Throh, on the other hand, wasn’t ready, and as a result, nearly slipped and dropped it.

    Everton wasn’t paying attention to anything his two guards’ Pokémon were doing. He was more focused on the bigger crate before him, and the pen-like device he’d taken from his inner pocket.

    “Little did you know, Governor, you will help me unveil the future of energy despite your ignoring of my proposals.” With that one statement, Everton pressed down on the button on the end of the pen.

    Triggered by the device, the panels forming the crate’s sides retracted into its framework, changing it from a crate into a cage. Floating within its confines was another Pokémon, one with a tattered black body that ended in a skirt-like outgrowth on the bottom and a flowing shock of white hair on the top. In between the two was a jagged red protrusion that went all around its body like a necklace.

    “That’s… Darkrai!” Baker exclaimed, visibly shocked even behind his dark glasses. Foster clearly shared his surprise.

    “Yes, and it took me a lot of negotiation. That fool up in the government headquarters thinks I’m using his Darkrai to find a new energy source, and you know what? He’s right. This will be the first step in bringing about a revolution in energy! Let’s get started, then. Darkrai, wake up.”

    A single eye opened just underneath Darkrai’s hair, and the mysterious creature silently watched as Everton paced outside of its prison.

    “That investment in the Kodai Network Group was worth it. Having his technology certainly cuts down on the amount of work I have to do to restrain you, Darkrai.”

    Without saying another word Everton pressed the button again. This time it triggered the unfolding of the crate he had delivered with Foster and Baker, revealing a machine that resembled a water tank. Two robotic arms extended from it and attached a collar to Darkrai’s body, not even bending under the resistance Darkrai attempted to stage. Once the collar was safely affixed to Darkrai’s body, the arms withdrew and Everton approached the cage.

    “Listen and listen well, Darkrai. You are going to be an integral part of history. If you disobey me, that device attached to you will give you a nasty shock…” To accentuate his point, Everton pressed the button once again, causing Darkrai to briefly be electrocuted by the collar. Drinking in the hatred Darkrai was glaring at him with while pushing itself up from the ground, he continued, “Don’t disobey me. What will happen to you if you do is something you’d rather avoid, I’ll promise you that.”

    “Captain Everton, sir?” Baker interrupted, his hand on the transmitter in his ear.

    “What?! This better be something important!”

    “Sir, I’ve just received confirmation that Matt Chiaki and his group have arrived in Whitegold City.”

    “Ah, excellent!” Everton turned fully from Darkrai’s crate and made a grand gesture by spreading his arms. “All the pieces are now on the board. It is time for the game to begin!”

    -:-

    “Did you two really need to buy so much?”

    Matt was left carrying all of Nekou and Olivia’s bags from their shopping trip in addition to his own. While he’d only bought one suit, they had gone completely overboard, each buying two more outfits in addition to their dresses for the speech. Bunny, meanwhile, only purchased one dress as well, and was carrying it herself as the group walked down a street not far from Everton’s building, where the speech would be held.

    “Well, yeah, we did,” Olivia answered, not even bothering to turn around while she spoke. “When I start going for badges and Ribbons, I have to look good, right?”

    “And it’s not like you don’t have any money,” Nekou added in a deadpan tone while glancing back over her shoulder.

    Thoroughly defeated, Matt said nothing more and dropped the subject. Bunny felt like she should do something to fix the situation, though, so she spoke up instead.

    “We’ve still got some time before Matt has to give his speech, so how about we visit Balise Park?”

    “Balise Park?” Matt repeated questioningly, while Nekou and Olivia stopped ahead of him.

    “You’re giving a speech here but you don’t know one of this city’s most famous landmarks?” Nekou scolded him. “Everyone knows that Balise Park is where you go to see the trees when they change color at the beginning of the autumn season. It’s world famous! I’ve been there before but not at the right time, so I’ve never seen it, but I really want to. Autumn really is my favorite season… the way life is going into a resting phase for the winter is at once depressing but hopeful, because it will return before too long…”

    Not paying much heed to Nekou’s rambling, Matt mentioned, “Autumn just started, too.”

    “And the park is right there!” exclaimed Bunny as she pointed down the street. “Let’s go and see it!”

    Finding themselves in consensus, the quartet hurried down the road and entered the fenced gateway at the end where the street diverged off.

    Balise Park was even more grand than the descriptions had made it sound. The trees in the park had leaves in vivid red and brown colors, forming a beautiful sea of warm hues that seemed to stretch on nearly endlessly. A stream flowed through the area, necessitating the use of a stone footbridge to cross it.

    “This… this is ****ing beautiful!” Nekou exclaimed, her voice shaking as joy overtook her. “The colors… the colors of my favorite season…”

    “Hey, Matt,” Olivia called from several feet away, “come check this out.”

    The girl was standing with several others who were gathered around a television mounted above the ground on a pole, so Matt and Bunny joined her as well. On the television was a news report being broadcast by a green-haired young woman with thinly-framed glasses.

    “Welcome back to Everton News Channel’s continuing coverage of the Whitegold City festival events leading up to the Pokémon Bowl tournament the day after tomorrow. I’m Midori Makise, anchoring our coverage. Let’s go live to Balise Park, where many potential entrants have gone to brush up on their skills with practice matches…”

    “Pokémon Bowl?” Olivia wondered out loud. “Like Pokémon Baccer? Is it a sport?”

    “It is a so-called sport, and it is only played by classless brutes with no taste for the true nature of battle.”

    This abrupt statement came from a petite girl who had been watching the broadcast alongside the others all along. Despite speaking with a haughty manner befitting that of an extremely wealthy person, she was dressed plainly, wearing a leather jacket, jeans and sunglasses. Her long, thick golden hair was woven into a ponytail through the top of the sky-blue baseball cap she wore.

    “Well that was rather rude,” countered Olivia with a huff. “Sports like Pokémon Baccer are fun, so what should you care about it?”

    “Because you seem to be a cultured woman like myself. You need not foul yourself with such low-class trash.”

    “Okay, time out,” Bunny interrupted, having heard more than enough. “Olivia, stop taking the bait this girl is putting out. It just sounds to me like she wants a fight.”

    “Oh, I don’t need to fight someone like you,” said the girl while she waved her hand mockingly at Bunny and Olivia. “It would just be rather boring to me.”

    “Okay, enough!” Matt wouldn’t even allow either Olivia nor Bunny the chance to get upset. “If you’re talking such a big game, back it up. I’ll take you on!”

    The girl simply giggled softly. “Now who is this uncouth ruffian that would challenge me? Very well, we shall battle in the center of the park.”

    Together with the girl, Matt, Olivia and Bunny headed for the footbridge to cross the river and enter the park’s center. Nekou trailed behind, having finally realized that she was being left back due to her distraction over the color of the leaves.

    “What’s going on?” she asked, once she’d caught up with the others. “Where are we going?”

    “This girl just came up and started trashing us and upsetting Olivia, so I’m going to battle her to put her in her place.”

    “She upset Olivia?” Nekou immediately plowed past Matt to get alongside Olivia. She then put her hand on Olivia’s shoulder and said, “Don’t worry about it, Olivia. Matt’s going to put that little ***** in her place. He better, if he knows what’s good for him…”

    Matt didn’t see the face Nekou made at him by half-closing her eyes, nor did he hear her threat, so no more words were exchanged.

    It wasn’t long before the assembled group reached the center of the park, which was like an idyllic oasis right inside the heart of Whitegold City’s urban area. Numerous stone tables and benches dotted the landscape in the shadows of giant oak trees whose bodies bent over and touched the ground.

    The mysterious girl led them to an open area, then gestured to Matt to stop walking as she put some distance between herself and him. He did so, passing the bags to Bunny as well. Once she was far enough away, the girl stopped, turned and called out, “Are you ready to lose, you scruffy vagabond?”

    “I wouldn’t be getting so confident up front if I was you!” Matt countered. “You’ve really broken one of the rules I won’t tolerate. You upset Olivia!”

    “Hmph. Well, our skills will determine which of us strides off the battlefield with head held high! Espeon, Starmie and Beheeyem, I call you forth!”

    From the pricey-looking handbag she carried, the girl took out and threw three Poké Balls. In addition to the Espeon and Starmie that appeared, there was also a new Pokémon, one with an entirely brown body and elongated head. She had glowing green eyes and overall looked as if she was disguised in a hat and trench coat.

    “Well, that’s a new one to me. And wait... three Pokémon?”

    The girl huffed at Matt’s seeming ignorance once more. “This is my Beheeyem. Psychic-types are my preference and she’s one that I quite fancy. And dare I venture that you don’t know what a Triple Battle is?” When he didn’t respond, she lightly giggled again. “Three Pokémon on each side. That brutish Pokémon Bowl competition uses Triple Battles, but they put all sorts of unappealing rules on it. Battles should be pure and unfouled with unnecessary regulations that do nothing but subtract from the pleasure of it all. So therefore… come at me with everything you’ve got!”

    “With pleasure,” Matt whispered with a smile. “Hethna, Agnetha, Ayingott, make your mark!”

    When Matt threw his three Poké Balls into the air, his Ambipom, Agnetha, appeared. Alongside her were Hethna, his Golurk, and Ayingott, his Sigilyph.

    With the two trios of Pokémon staring each other down between the gazes of their trainers, and Nekou, Olivia, Bunny and many other people and Pokémon in the park looking on, the battle began.

    The opening shots were taken by Agentha when she rushed toward Espeon and used her tails in an attempt to deliver a Shadow Claw attack. Espeon managed to back away enough that she only suffered a glancing blow, and she had help from Starmie’s Psychic holding Agnetha back somewhat.

    Ayingott interrupted by firing an Energy Ball from between the two eyes in the middle of her spherical body. The crackling green sphere struck Starmie effectively, blowing the Water-and-Psychic-type back and singeing its body. Hethna added to the offense by swinging its large fist to generate a Shadow Punch attack, which came out of the darkness cast by a tree to hit Starmie again. However, Beheeyem quickly counterattacked by generating her own Energy Ball between the three flashing lights on her hand, hitting Hethna just as effectively in response.

    As the battle raged, Olivia and Bunny sat at a table off to the side, completely engrossed in the action. Olivia’s Minccino was playing with Marie, Nekou’s tiny Sneasel, at their feet. As for Nekou, while Marie was amusing herself with the gray chinchilla Pokémon, she was simply sitting reading a book, not even paying attention that much to the battle. She was more preoccupied with taking care of her Zorua, whom she finally had the chance to let out of her Poké Ball.

    Starmie targeted Hethna with a shot of steaming-hot water. This attack, Scald, worked extremely well, playing on Hethna’s natural part-Ground type and its weakness to Water-type moves. While the Golurk reeled back, a large part of the blotched area on its chest visibly burnt, Agnetha dropped in from the trees and defended her teammate with a Seed Bomb against Starmie. Both sides were roughly tied at this point, at least until Ayingott came in and finished Starmie off with another Energy Ball.

    Angered, and finding herself stuck with two Pokémon against Matt’s three, the girl recalled Starmie and immediately sent Beheeyem and Espeon forth. The two attacked with a tandem Shadow Ball, aiming squarely for Ayingott. The sheer speed of this assault caught Matt and his Pokémon off guard, and Ayingott got hit hard, her red-yellow-and-blue feathers scattering everywhere.

    Olivia, Bunny and Nekou were not the only ones watching the battle, and Minccino, Marie and Zorua weren’t the only Pokémon. Numerous trainers sat and stood in the area surrounding the battlefield, accompanied by a wide assortment of Pokémon including Druddigon, Weavile, Empoleon, Metagross, Walrein, Glalie, Froslass, Absol, Dusclops, Torkoal, Aggron, Porygon2, Stantler, Heracross, Slowking, Lapras, Cloyster, Vanilluxe and Carracosta.

    Agentha dropped out of the trees in an Acrobatics attack, bringing her tails down forcefully onto Espeon’s forehead. As the two broke away from each other, Espeon cried out, then responded to her trainer’s commands by calling forth a wide field of electricity that would serve as its Zap Cannon. Ayingott got caught up in the storm of energy, and she could take no more, falling to the ground and fainting. Matt was careful in recalling her, as she was still twitching from the leftover electricity working its way through her body.

    He would not remain tied with his opponent for long, however. Hethna was sent forward once more, striking Espeon with a Shadow Punch generated by its hulking fists. This was it for Espeon, and she collapsed, unable to take any more. Now left with just Beheeyem, the girl took the desperate action of ordering another Energy Ball targeted at Hethna, hoping that it would knock the Golurk out and tie the match again.

    However, this tactic was too predictable by then, and Matt saw right through it. He had Agentha cut the Energy Ball down by stopping it with Double Hit, then Hethna immediately followed up with one last Shadow Punch, striking Beheeyem down once and for all.

    With the battle over, Matt finally relaxed for the first time in what seemed like forever. “I did it,” he thought to himself. He’d successfully fought back and defended Olivia’s honor, and for even a brief second he felt adequate in living up to the promise he’d made to Olivia’s late father, Rich, before his death. As she didn’t even know about her father’s fate from five years earlier, though, it was a constant struggle for Matt to feel like he was treating her well enough to keep his word and his obligation.

    He heard applause at that point, coming from the many trainers who were gathered around the park watching the battle. Matt realized that his fight not only had defended Olivia’s honor, but entertained this large group of people, and with a sense of humble gratitude, he turned and waved to them all.

    “What a collection of Pokémon,” he quietly noted to himself as he scanned the crowd. It struck him just how diverse the assortment of Pokémon that had gathered for the Pokémon Bowl really was.

    “You’re not so bad after all,” said the mysterious girl, having called back Beheeyem and sorted out her affairs over her defeat. “I think you might be worthy of learning my name, so I’ll tell you it. My name is Katorena. I’m visiting Whitegold City to prepare for my journey in competition against the Pokémon Gyms of the Kanto Region.”

    “Well met, then. I’m Matt, and my friends are Olivia, Nekou and Bunny.” Matt pointed out each of the appropriate members of his group as he named them.

    The sound of clapping distracted both Matt and Katorena from their initial conversation. It was coming from a sharply-dressed man in a black tailcoat, who was approaching them alongside a beautiful blonde woman wearing a purple dress with a fluffy skirt that reached down almost to her ankles.

    “Bravo, bravo, what a show!” the man exclaimed, walking right up to Matt and Katorena. “Truly, a spectacle that showed off the potential of all of your Pokémon. It’s just the kind of thing I’d like to have in my show!”

    “And just who do you think you are?” Katorena rudely demanded. “Walking up to me and trying to draft me for some farce without even giving your name. How crude!”

    “Yes, you’re right, that was rude of me. I am Butler the magician.” As he said this, Butler bowed, deeply enough that strands of his dark-blue mullet flaked over into his face.

    “I’m Diane,” the woman added, “Butler’s assistant and close companion. I’m pleased to meet you both.”

    “You see, Diane and I have brought our magic show here in order to participate in Whitegold City’s annual festival, which begins tomorrow. After I saw the show you two put on just now, I’d like to invite you to participate!”

    “A festival and a magic show, huh? Well, I wasn’t planning on staying much beyond tonight, since my speech is about to come up…”

    “I want to stay!” Olivia had abruptly appeared right next to Matt and was now leveling demands at him all over again. “It’s a magic show, and a whole festival on top of that! We can’t miss something like that! I want to stay for the festival and the Pokémon Bowl too!”

    Matt sighed. “I just can’t say no to that face. You know, Olivia, you really have me coming and going.”

    “That’s right, I do!”

    Matt and Olivia could have gone on forever, even in front of people they had just met. For that reason, it was good that at that exact moment, a car pulled up near them and a man in a uniform similar to Foster and Baker’s stepped out to address them.

    “Matt Chiaki?”

    “That’s me. What is it?”

    “Captain Everton has sent me to inform you that he wishes you to come to the building for the speech now. I will escort you and your partners there.”

    “I guess I’ll be seeing you all another time, then,” Matt bid to Katorena, Butler and Diane. “Nekou! Bunny! Let’s get going!”

    -:-

    The headquarters of Everton International, located at One Everton Plaza in the heart of Whitegold City, were quite an impressive and intimidating sight. Trees surrounded the light-gray limestone building, which itself was fifty-five floors high. The first ten floors comprised a wide, sturdy base for the structure, while the other forty-five jutted upward in a narrow, towering construct. Durable steel cables attached to the corners of the building from the roofs of some of the surrounding buildings, which were themselves rather impressive in height.

    Down on the first floor lobby, which was a large common room with well-polished blue floor tiles, a curvaceous woman entered the building. Her raven-colored hair hung out of the hood she wore to cover her head, and her eyes were covered by tinted glasses. She walked directly up to the bronze desk on the left side of the lobby, where a sleepy-looking receptionist wearing her brown hair in a bun sat. Behind the desk, a large, golden model of Everton’s anchor insignia hung in front of a silver backdrop, with green spotlights shining on the water running down the wall.

    “Can I help you?” the receptionist asked, a hint of annoyance playing in her voice.

    “Yes, I’m here to cover Matt Chiaki’s energy presentation, actually.”

    “May I see your press pass, then?”

    “Here.” The woman handed over an identification card, which the receptionist wasted no time in scanning and returning.

    “Enjoy the speech presented to you by Everton International.” Everything out of the receptionist’s mouth was dull and indifferent-sounding, so it was hard to judge how seriously she was taking anything that happened.

    Regardless of the receptionist’s cold attitude, however, the woman walked away from the desk, putting away her press pass as she moved. She leaned against a wall on the other side of the lobby, near a bank of televisions playing videos about Everton, his company and their histories.

    “Cincci?” A Pokémon extremely similar in appearance to Minccino popped up next to the woman’s head inside her cloak. In fact, the only difference between her and Olivia’s Minccino was that this Pokémon was wrapped all over in luxurious white fur.

    “Don’t you worry, Cinccino,” the woman said, giving her Pokémon a friendly scratch on the head. “We’ll get to the bottom of this story once and for all, and Liam Everton won’t be getting away with his corrupt actions any longer.”

    -:-

    Meanwhile, up on the top floor of the Everton building, the captain himself sat in his office, which actually took up the entire floor. His desk was carved from highly expensive oak and accented with gold trimming, while short, plush blue carpet lined the floor all over the office. The windows, finally, wrapped nearly all the way around, stopping only to create space for the elevators to come up.

    Everton was sitting in his tall-backed, leather chair using the computer installed on his desk. The window he had open over the silver-and-blue desktop wallpaper displayed a stock trading program, equipped with statistics and graphs.

    “Black City Exchange Trader’s Account,” he read out loud to himself. “Open Investments… Brick Piece Reserves, $550,500. Star Piece Trading, $679,000. Let’s finish that off by putting $825,650 into Icirrus Mineral Collection… current total balance, $2,055,150.” Smirking, he then said rather loudly, “That ought to do it. Soon enough I’ll have just enough money to do exactly what I need to do.”

    Suddenly, the phone on Everton’s desk rang, startling him and causing him to jump. He abruptly picked it up and shouted, “What is it?!”

    “Captain Everton, sir!” It was the employee who had been sent to pick up Matt and his group. “I am in transit to One Everton Plaza right now with Matt Chiaki and his partners in my care. We will be arriving shortly.”

    “See to it that it gets done!” After slamming the phone back down, Everton seemed to calm slightly. He leaned back in his chair and said into the air, “The pieces are now beginning to move on the board. Before long, the future of energy will be realized.”

    -:-

    Far from Whitegold City was Viridian City, another of Kanto’s large and famous cities. It had once been a relatively small but busy area, but in recent years, it had undergone a complete transformation, morphing from a modest city in harmony with nature to a huge and futuristic metropolis. One thing that always remained throughout all of Viridian City’s growing pains, though, was the antique mansion just outside the main part of the community. It was well-kept by numerous landscapers, and the building itself never fell into disrepair, but these factors only seemed to contribute to the mysterious air it exuded. The mansion was the subject of many rumors among the longer-term residents of the city.

    The truth was that the mansion was the residence of Viridian City Gym Leader Giovanni, who was also supposedly the former boss of the criminal organization known as Team Rocket. Things had been much more busy at his residence that day than they usually were, as he was having to deal with the police heavily. He had actually been captured by the police the day before, but successfully negotiated for monitored house arrest in exchange for helping take down a renegade member of the team. On top of that he also managed to gain clearance for all his other remaining followers for all past crimes, but that didn’t get him out of the house arrest.

    Tired from the day-long arranging of the particulars for his house arrest, Giovanni dropped his towering body into the plush red velvet couch in his personal lounge, which he considered his sanctuary from the madness of the outside world. In his mind, dealing the police was almost harder than working with some of the assorted lunatics who worked for him inside Team Rocket. The warm light from the chandelier overhead glistened on Giovanni’s slightly-receded brown hair as he reached for a nearby bottle of red wine, his favorite drink for when he simply wanted to relax.

    After pouring the highly expensive and well-aged drink into its accompanying glass, Giovanni downed a rather large sip of it. The warmth in his throat calmed him, even if it would take some time for the alcohol’s more potent properties to take effect.

    “Mrow?”

    The presence of that voice meant that Giovanni’s idyllic sanctuary was now complete. He was a wealthy man who strongly subscribed to the idea that money could to some degree buy happiness; it was an ideal reflected in not only the chandelier and wine but the burgundy silk robe he currently was wearing, along with the multiple works of art, various antiques such as lamps and vases, and even the ornate billiards table in the room. For all of that, though, one of his favorite comforts was also the simplest – his trusted companion, Persian. The feline Pokémon, who was now nuzzling his hand and purring happily, was one of the rare living things Giovanni felt he could truly call a friend.

    “Hello there, my friend,” he said quietly, giving Persian a scratch on the head that pleased the Pokémon greatly.

    This scene was interrupted when the door into the room loudly closed, bringing both Giovanni and Persian to alert. It was Giovanni’s assistant, a young woman dressed in a uniform with purple sleeves that ended in red cuffs, matching the color of the strip that ran down the uniform’s middle. Pairs of golden buttons were arranged down her front in rows, and she also wore a pencil skirt that ended just above her knees, at which point the nylon stockings covering her legs could be seen. Finally, she had a pair of oval-shaped wireframe glasses that surrounded her cold green eyes and nestled in the purple hair that went down to her back.

    As soon as he saw the young woman, Persian happily jumped over the couch and sprang right onto her, knocking her to the ground. Even though he kept licking her face, though, her expression remained relatively blank.

    “Stacia, what are you doing here?” Giovanni demanded.

    “I… I only came to check and make sure you were okay after today, sir,” the woman, Stacia, nervously offered. “Is there anything I can do for you?”

    Giovanni sighed. Most of his followers were complete imbeciles, but the ones who weren’t were far too eager to earn their boss’s favor. Stacia definitely fell into the latter group, but Giovanni didn’t hate her for it like he did for most of the lower-level underlings who did similar things.

    “Persian’s on top of you because he knows you give him things when you show up. Go get him a dish of milk.”

    “Yes, sir,” Stacia responded, adjusting her glasses as she rose to her feet and headed for the mini-kitchen connected to the lounge. Persian followed enthusiastically at her heels, as he knew that he was going to get something out of her.

    Now alone again, Giovanni reached for the remote control sitting on the couch and used it to activate the widescreen plasma television hanging on the wall before him. It happened to be already tuned to the Everton News Channel, and Midori Makise appeared on the screen.

    “In other news,” she intoned, “We are currently awaiting the press conference about to be held at the headquarters of Everton International here in Whitegold City. The subject has been announced to be the challenges of the continued reliance on oil for energy, and the proposal of a new, renewable energy source by Matt Chiaki, a scientist with an honorary doctorate from Hoenn’s Rustboro School.”

    Giovanni’s eyes widened when he heard Matt’s name. Coincidentally enough, it had been Matt Chiaki that had set off the chain of events that led to this point, his encounter with Matt being why Giovanni was under house arrest in the first place. Team Rocket had attempted to take over a tournament at the Indigo Plateau, but Matt, who was charged with helping bring them down by the International Police inspector codenamed Looker, defeated his Excadrill in a battle and helped arrest him.

    “So they’re all there too?” the Team Rocket boss said to himself as the camera providing the news footage panned over the banquet hall inside Everton’s building where Matt’s speech would be held.

    “Mister Giovanni, sir, are you speaking to me?” Stacia meekly asked, making her way back into the room and setting the dish of milk down, much to Persian’s delight. She had to raise her voice above its usual quiet tone so she could be heard above the sound of Persian gleefully lapping up the milk. “I did not hear what it was you want me to do.”

    “Stacia, keep an eye on events in Whitegold City over the next day or two. If Matt Chiaki and his group are there, I have a rather ominous feeling about what will happen.”

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  6. #6
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    “I will see that it is done. Thank you for the responsibility, sir.”

    Stacia turned to leave, but she stopped when Giovanni spoke further.

    “Stay here. I want another pair of eyes on this news conference. Something seems suspicious about it.”

    Though she wouldn’t argue with him anyway due to his being her boss, Stacia was internally grateful for the opportunity. Every time she got to do something for him, she felt like she was actually needed.

    -:-

    The banquet hall was on the twenty-third floor of the Everton building. It was a room lit by dim but warm lamps affixed all around the golden walls, with a floor adorned with short red carpet that had a black cross pattern stitched into it. At the head of the room, there was a stage set up with a large video screen and a podium. The press covering Matt’s speech were busily arranging their equipment, while other invited guests – such as potential investors and foreign energy developers considering contracting Matt’s technology – enjoyed the wide variety of foods catered in for the conference.

    Of course, Nekou – now wearing a female-oriented black tailcoat that she left a few buttons open on, along with a short skirt and knee-high boots – was right there at the forefront of where food was available. Her plate was piled high with a bizarre assortment of edibles, ranging from chicken to salad and quite an impressive share of macaroni and cheese.

    “You want to share some of that?” Olivia, who was standing next to Nekou, asked. She hadn’t been able to get at the macaroni and cheese before she was pushed aside by several others trying to get other foods on that table.

    “Of course. For you I’ll do it, but don’t tell Matt, he might think I’d share food with him too.” Nekou was careful as she scooped over some of her share onto Olivia’s dish. She didn’t want to make a mess of Olivia’s frilly new blue-and-pink dress.

    “You two really get along famously, don’t you?” Bunny interjected sarcastically. Her formal wear was a simple black evening gown with a slit up the right side that ended halfway between her knee and thigh.

    “What, do you want some too?!” There was no reason for Nekou to believe this, but she blushed and pulled her plate away nevertheless. “I don’t know about you yet. I share with people who I really know I like!”

    At first Bunny was offended by how defensive Nekou was getting, but upon second thought, she realized that Nekou was only being brutally honest, and decided to let it go.

    Luckily, just at that point, the lights dimmed, indicating that the speech was about to start. Everyone who had been standing made their way to the seats that were arranged in front of the stage, allowing the press the front two rows. Nekou, Olivia and Bunny lined up next to each other in the very back.

    When a light came up on the stage itself, another dark-suited Everton employee stepped up to the podium and leaned over into the microphones. “Ladies and gentlemen from the media, as well as our invited guests, thank you for attending this conference sponsored by Everton International in cooperation with the Angel Corporation. This evening, you will be listening to a speech given by our keynote speaker, which will then be followed by a question and answer session. Therefore, please, hold your questions until the end of the speech, in which the appropriate time will be made for them to be addressed. Now, without further ado, please welcome this evening’s keynote speaker.”

    Matt, dressed in a white suit with a gray vest and blue tie underneath, made his way onto the stage, shook hands with the departing Everton employee, and took his place at the podium, all to a light smattering of applause. He cleared his throat nervously and adjusted some of the microphones to suit his height more appropriately.

    “Um… thank you, thank you for coming, all of you. Now, for the past one hundred and fifty-eight years, the world has come to rely more and more on a single particular substance for everything from heating to transportation and all other kinds of fuels. It truly has united the world, every nation, under the singular desire of obtaining this precious commodity. Now, wouldn’t you think that’s a good thing? That one substance, so elegant in its simplicity, could bring together every nation on every continent, thus truly uniting the entire world?

    If only it were that simple. Of course, all of you know that the substance I am referring to is oil. Could a syrupy black liquid truly be the solution to all of the world’s problems? It is true that oil has brought the world industrial and economic prosperity on an unprecedented scale, but at what cost? For far too long now, we have seen the world fall victim to the darker side of oil. Wars have been fought. Lands have been drilled to disastrous proportions. Even the transportation of oil has given us a grim history of problems. While, again, it is true that oil has given mankind many good things, could it be that the time has come to bid farewell to the era of petroleum once and for all?

    To that question, I say yes. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to the ALEA, the Absolute Limitless Energy Allocation system. A new energy source of my creation, the ALEA has been successful in reducing the oil consumption of Snowpoint City in Sinnoh by sixty percent only six months after being implemented. Each of you from the press has received a packet of materials for further reference on this system’s early history, and you will find that it contains a short video elaborating on several subjects covered in my speech this evening.

    Now what is it that makes the ALEA so powerful as a potential alternative to oil? First of all, it requires minimum upfront investment. While the equipment required to operate an ALEA-enabled power facility is not cheap, the cost is balanced out in the long term by overall savings, and the equipment will become less expensive as the technology expands to become more common. The fuel for an ALEA facility is also extremely cheap to acquire, transport large quantities of, and put into use, especially compared to the heavy costs associated with petroleum. Secondly, the ALEA has a minimal footprint on the environment. It is estimated that at least eighty percent of the pollution from an oil plant can be eliminated by switching over to an ALEA facility of the same size. The fuel is safe with little to no toxicity and is extremely long-lasting. Finally, third, the energy output from an ALEA facility is exponentially higher than that of an oil-fired power plant, and much more economical as well. According to estimates based on the results of the test facility constructed in Snowpoint City, a typical power plant equipped to use the ALEA can produce roughly fifty percent more energy than a typical oil plant, while lasting seven times as long on a single refueling.”

    Extending his right hand with his palm upturned, Matt finished, “Truly, the ALEA is the future of energy, and that future is bright! Join me! Come hand-in-hand into that bright tomorrow where the world will be freed from the shackles of oil!” Another burst of applause greeted Matt’s enthusiastic turn, and he smiled as he lowered his hand. “Thank you, everyone. Now, as promised, I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have regarding the plans I have laid out.”

    A hand immediately went up in the back of the crowd; Matt couldn’t clearly see who it was due to the dimmed lights, but he pointed in its direction anyway.

    “Is your refrigerator running?”

    Matt sighed forcefully. It was Nekou playing a prank on him. Even though he was visibly annoyed, though, on some level he appreciated her trying to lighten the mood and make him less nervous.

    “I’ll ask that you please keep your questions to the ALEA and relevant subjects, please.”

    Several other hands went up, and Matt selected a hat-wearing, middle-aged man who rose to his feet when he was pointed at. “Could you explain further on just what the ALEA’s fuel is and how it can possibly be such an efficient source of energy?”

    “Ah, excellent question. You see, the fuel that is used by the ALEA actually is the mineral that comprises the jewels called Spheres. These Spheres can be mined out of the ground anywhere in the world. Once they are buried, they grow, giving off energy all the while. The ALEA works by burying Spheres in highly enriched soil inside special plugs that collect and harness this energy. A typical ALEA facility is designed in subdivided blocks, each block containing a certain number of units, which each contain several of these plugs. Because Spheres grow very slowly, each one gives off energy for a long time, thus creating the need to only refuel the plant rarely.”

    “Thank you,” the next reporter, a slightly overweight woman in her thirties, said when she was pointed at following the end of Matt’s answer. “What can you tell us about the safety of this system?”

    “It is completely safe,” Matt replied. “Spheres are not a combustible fuel. Even if a critical error occurs at an ALEA facility, the fuel cannot combust. The machinery to harness their energy is also equipped with fail-safe mechanisms designed to prevent explosions of the machines themselves. On another note, once the fuel has been fully expended and needs to be switched out, it can be safely disposed of with no ill effects. There is zero environmental risk in Spheres as a fuel for the system.” Pointing toward the back again, he said, “Your turn.”

    “Does this system have ten-pound balls?”

    This time Matt really was annoyed. It was Olivia who made the interrupting remark, and he immediately realized that Nekou had goaded her on into saying it. “Someone who isn’t my student who is getting penalized later for bad behavior, please,” he hissed through gritted teeth.

    “Can you tell us about the plans for expanding this technology?” another female reporter inquired.

    “Excellent question. I have been given financing by the Angel Corporation to continue development of the ALEA and prepare the implementation of it in the power plants of the Tohjo Continent that buy into the system. This work is planned to be assisted by subcontracting through Everton International, which owns many of the Tohjo Continent’s energy plants, and through this evening’s event we hope to gather investors interested in further assisting the financing of the project. The software that operates this technology is extremely user-friendly, and can even guide a facility that enters the project through the steps of upgrading their equipment to meet our specifications. Next question?”

    “Does your system have anything to do with the blasphemy you commit by existing?”

    This sudden question caused Matt to jump. It wasn’t Olivia or Nekou joking this time, in fact, it was a male voice. This meant he had to take it seriously, if not by default, and he tried to work out what it meant.

    “Come again?” he coughed in confusion.

    “Maybe I didn’t make myself clear, so let me phrase it in plainer terms. You, Matt Chiaki, are an abomination and commit evil with every breath you take. By modifying your body with technology you have defiled the divinity of the DNA that originally comprised you…”

    “That’s it, I’m cutting you off,” Matt interrupted, his mind clouding with doubt even further. “Get serious or cede the floor to someone who is. Who are you even?”

    “We are Polaris,” the man replied, rising from his seat alongside another man and woman who were sitting next to him. All three were wearing white lab coats. “We are a group that believes in the divinity of DNA, the building block of life itself. You have modified yourself with machinery completely foreign to the organic nature of existence, so we must oppose any effort you make to change our world.”

    None of this made any sense, and Matt truly believed it was some ridiculous prank. He could only shake his head as he attempted to work it out.

    “I see you don’t understand,” the man continued, not allowing Matt a chance to respond to the earlier charges. “It does not matter in the end, though. We will make sure that this is the last day you exist to see.”

    In unison, all three protestors threw individual Poké Balls, releasing three Magneton. Though the trio of Magneton received no orders at first, they all used Discharge to blast electric bolts all over the room. Before long the room was in a wreck, with the food tables burned and overturned, and chairs scattered everywhere. The press and guests were fleeing this rapidly escalating scene in a panic, including the mysterious hooded reporter and her Cinccino, who were the last to leave. Matt, meanwhile, had no clear path to escape, and could only back slowly up away from the podium.

    “Hey, leave him alone, you mean jerks!” Olivia angrily screamed, having remained behind with Nekou and Bunny. All of them were now standing on the side of the room, near one of the destroyed tables.

    “Be silent, young lady. You are still pure and untainted. This creature standing before us is an abomination against nature and must be eliminated. Magneton, Thunder Wave!”

    The intentions of the man and his two eerily-silent cohorts became clear. If the Magneton were to hit Matt with their combined Thunder Wave, the cybernetic implants sustaining his body would inevitably fail, and his life could potentially be put in danger.

    “Balin, Flamethrower!”

    A blast of fire suddenly and unexpectedly shot across the room, mowing down all three Magneton. It had come from Bunny’s Ninetales, Balin, whom she’d hastily sent out to defend Matt from the protestors. He pushed one of his front paws into the carpeting and growled angrily, recognizing the three as threats to one of his trainer’s friends.

    “So you three decide to stand alongside this blight upon the Earth? Fine. We shall dispose of you as well, as per Father’s vision for a pure worl…” The man froze upon realizing he was only looking at two people, Bunny and Olivia. Nekou was gone. “There were three of you before, and nobody escaped…”

    “That’s because you dumb shits only think in two dimensions!”

    The ceiling. None of the three protestors had been paying attention to Matt’s friends or the rafters above their heads, so it was perhaps inevitable that Nekou got up there without being noticed. She dropped down, driving the heels of her boots into the shoulders of the man who had remained silent throughout the incident. Instantly sent into a state of shock by the twin wounds he received, he collapsed onto the floor. Without hesitation Nekou turned to the woman, who simply stared at her with blank eyes, and struck her with a forceful right hook to the face.

    Two of her opponents were already knocked out, and Nekou was confident in her chances. At least, she was until the leader of the protestors smashed a chair into her upper back, sending her to the floor herself.

    “Nekou!” Matt screamed, horrified at the brutality of the scene unfolding before his eyes and the seeming finality of Nekou’s fate. Olivia and Bunny shared in his terror, though they remained silent.

    “So that was her name?” the man said, slowly turning back to Matt. “It’s a shame that a good collection of DNA had to go to waste like that. But, I’m done playing games. It’s about time the mission is fulfilled once and for…”

    “Shut the **** up!”

    A sharp, piercing pain penetrated through the man’s back, sending shockwaves through his whole body. While gasping for labored breath, he managed to tilt his head around enough to see Nekou standing behind him, apparently unharmed from his assault. He could only stare at her in sickened surprise with wide eyes until she pulled the knife out of his shuddering body, allowing him to fall like his goons.

    “I’m someone who likes what she has…” Nekou screeched, towering over the three unconscious protestors with the manner of a deadly predator. “…and if you threaten even one of the things I have, then I’ll **** you up! I’ll beat you senseless!”

    “Nekou, calm down!” Matt had jumped down from the stage once the danger was over and was now approaching the mess Nekou had made. “Did you kill this guy?” he asked, pointing to the protestor that Nekou stabbed.

    “No, I stabbed him where he’ll lose just enough blood to pass out for a while. If there’s one thing I know it’s where to hit to get the results I want.”

    “That was awesome, seriously!” beamed Olivia, who had rushed over and begun pulling on Nekou’s leg. “I want to be like you!”

    “Okay, that’s enough,” Matt interrupted. “Having one each of the two of you around is hard enough. I don’t need you becoming like each other.”

    “What the hell happened in here?!” Foster and Baker, along with their Throh and Sawk, had appeared in the doorway. Foster made his way in first. “Captain Everton told us to come down here and check out the racket in this room and we find this?”

    “One of you better explain this!” Baker threatened.

    “Well, they interrupted the speech,” Bunny attempted to explain, “and then they tried to attack Matt, and... it was just a mess.”

    “Whatever,” sighed the blue-haired guard, giving up hope of finding any answers. “We’ll just check the security recording. Get out of here so we can clean this mess up and send these three over to the cops.”

    “Fine,” Matt agreed. He turned to Nekou, Olivia and Bunny and said, “I didn’t want to stay here much longer anyway. Let’s get going.”

    -:-

    “As you can see… a very shocking scene has unfolded at Everton International during Matt Chiaki’s energy speech. Protestors from a group calling itself Polaris disrupted the presentation and… made an attempt on Matt Chiaki’s life, but as you can see, they have been thwarted, rather bloodily…”

    Giovanni gulped down the last of his wine and slammed the glass down on the table next to his couch, causing Stacia to jump in her nervousness.

    “Polaris… I was suspicious that something was going on, but I didn’t think it would involve them. Stacia, contact Dr. Zager and bring him up to speed on these developments. It appears things are happening at a faster pace than we expected.”

    “Yes, right away, sir.”

    -:-

    The doors of the elevator opened, allowing Matt, Nekou, Olivia and Bunny out into the lobby of the Everton building. Some of the people who were in the lobby from earlier had since left, so it was much less busy than it was before.

    Olivia abruptly got in front of the group and cheerfully demanded, “let’s take pictures! If we take pictures of each other here, we’ll always remember our trip!”

    “Awfully odd to want to remember a trip where one of us almost got murdered, isn’t it?”

    “Don’t be a party pooper, Bunny,” Nekou laughed. “You’ve got the right idea, Olivia. Get over there and I’ll take your picture.”

    Complying, Olivia ran over to the video screens embedded in the wall and waited for Nekou to take out her phone. However, as soon as she got it out, the receptionist jumped out of her chair.

    “Put that away right now! No taking pictures on Mr. Everton’s property!”

    Nekou groaned. “Man, **** this,” she mumbled under her breath as she put her phone away.

    “Welcome to Everton International headquarters at One Everton Plaza, Whitegold City,” intoned a female voice from the video screens.

    Olivia and Nekou both turned to the screen as they were both intrigued by what it was going to cover, so Matt and Bunny decided to watch it as well. It shuffled through a montage of images as the narration continued.

    “Everton International is a company with a distinguished history. Founded in 1728 as a shipping service for tea, the company has remained in the Everton family for seven generations. As time has passed, Everton International has expanded into a multinational conglomerate enveloping fields from land, sea and air shipping, investment banking, and its flagship division, oil exploration and development. We are proud to remain at the forefront of every necessity in your daily life.

    Such prosperity would only be possible under the banner of a strong leader, and the wings of our current president have lifted us higher and higher. Having taken up the position of president in 1982 from his father, Captain Liam Everton has guided Everton International to untold levels of success. Known for his highly ambitious nature and skill in discerning good investments, Liam Everton’s leadership has lead to an exponentially rewarding era for those invested with the company’s banking services, while bringing new oil technologies to market.

    We here at Everton International hope that through continued providing of our services, we can continue to guide your lives to great success.”


    The video faded and then started to repeat, so Matt and the others looked away. “Are we done here now?” he asked with clear irritation.

    “Boy, you’re being crabby,” Nekou pointed out in a half-joking manner. “What bug is up your ***?”

    “Did you forget that I was just almost killed up there?!”

    It almost seemed as if that fact didn’t even faze Nekou at all, judging from how indifferent her reaction was. “So? Calm down. It’s not like you actually did die.”

    “But if I was dead, then…” Thoroughly befuddled by Nekou’s bizarre logic, Matt decided to simply drop the subject. “Let’s go.”

    With Matt taking the lead, the group collectively headed for the glass double doors that led out of the tower. The doors were surrounded by more glass, turning the front of the building into a giant window.

    When the doors sensed Matt was nearby, they glided open to allow him, Olivia, Bunny and Nekou out. The four passed through, and then the gates slid shut.

    Before they could take even more than a few steps out into the square in front of the Everton building, however, trouble once again found them. It was the hooded reporter with the Cinccino. She had been quietly watching the speech earlier in the room but had fled when the protestors attacked.

    “Mr. Chiaki, please, a moment of your time?” Even though she was issuing a request, the reporter got in Matt’s face anyway, not allowing him a real choice of what to answer. “What can you tell me about the Dreamyarn Inceptor?”

    “Dreamyarn Inceptor?” Matt repeated in confusion while his friends lined up behind him. “Listen, lady, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

    “But with your association with Liam Everton, shouldn’t you know what he’s working on? The public should know what Everton is up to in there!”

    “I agree with you on that. The public does have the right to know what their industrial leaders are planning for them. That said, I don’t work for Everton. My speech was merely on technology that may be subcontracted through Everton International.”

    “You… don’t work for him?” The woman seemed genuinely surprised. She hadn’t really thought over her background information on Matt, so in her haste she didn’t realize that his association with Everton was merely a casual one. “I’m sorry, please forgive me.”

    “It’s fine,” Bunny chimed in. “But could you tell us what’s going on?”

    “I’m investigating Liam Everton and Everton International,” explained the reporter. “After I finished my investigation of the Kodai Network Group in Unova, I discovered that Liam Everton was majority shareholder. Shortly after Grings Kodai went to prison, Liam Everton completely bought out the group and thus gained control of all of Kodai’s inventions and research. Something about that just seemed so suspicious to me, so I’ve been on Everton’s trail ever since. The one big thing I’ve discovered is that he was financing clandestine research at a laboratory known as the Dreamyard Lab in Unova. At that lab the scientists were studying the Pokémon Musharna, trying to see if they could harness the dreams it collects as an energy source.”

    “So what happened?” Olivia asked, completely enthralled by the story.

    “There was an accident and the Dreamyard Lab melted down. Many of the researchers were killed in the blast. The head of the lab, a woman known as Dr. Fennel, survived, however. She lived in Striaton City for a while, but some time ago, she simply disappeared. I managed to get a hold of some of her research notes and through them, I discovered that they were developing a device called the Dreamyarn Inceptor to harness Musharna’s powers. When I obtained a copy of the financial report for Everton International’s last fiscal year, I found that ‘DI DEV’ was an item on the ledger.”

    “Dreamyarn Inceptor development,” Nekou correctly guessed.

    “Precisely. Liam Everton has reactivated development of the Dreamyarn Inceptor in this city and is planning something that gives me an ominous feeling. Listen, let’s sit down and talk at the Balise Park Sports Bar tomorrow, late morning. I’m going to need your help.”

    “I promised I’d take Olivia to the festival tomorrow…”

    “It’s okay, Matt,” the girl piped up, not losing her cheer. “We’ll go to the festival after talking to her.”

    “Thank you for your generosity, Mr. Chiaki. It’s very important that I find what I’m after before Everton’s plans come to fruition.”

    -:-

    Somewhere else in the city, in a dark underground room, a spark of light came to life. The coldness of the stone chamber was warmed by the fire surrounding a tiny, pale-yellow bodied foxlike Pokémon with large, pointy ears forming a red ‘V’ shape.

    “…tini…” it said sadly, fluttering the wings attached to the backs of its legs as it stumbled forward. “Victini…”

    Suddenly, a much brighter, blue light appeared in the room, reflecting vividly in Victini’s large blue eyes. From the flash of light emerged the Legendary Pokémon Cresselia, the purple-and-yellow swan Pokémon known as the dispeller of evil dreams. Her glittering wings hung around her body like veils, and her light continued to shine on Victini as the smaller Pokémon grew excited.

    “Tiniii! Victini, vic victini!!”

    Cresselia smiled lightly when Victini hugged her chest. Clearly, the two had a strong bond, and Victini disliked being apart from Cresselia. Even with no human words exchanged between them, the power of their connection could not be denied.

    -:-

    Darkrai hated the collar Everton forced it to wear. The device was uncomfortable and far too tight on its body, but Darkrai could do nothing about it. With no options and no way to escape, it could only circle around the perimeter of its cage nervously, like it had been doing for hours.

    “Darkrai!”

    It froze when Everton’s voice boomed through the dank interior of the warehouse. The source was a video screen positioned not far from the cage, and Darkrai turned slowly to face it in anger.

    “I see you’re doing well, Darkrai,” Everton taunted, the video screen showing him sitting at his desk in his office. “Listen well. Your mission is about to begin. When I release you into Whitegold City, you are to attack as many Pokémon as possible and put them to sleep. Continue doing that until Cresselia, your hated enemy, is drawn out. At that point, you are to fight Cresselia and do nothing more. Lest I remind you… if you disobey me at any time, that collar you’re wearing will enable me to punish you. Am I understood?”

    Darkrai simply glared at the screen. It, of course, could not answer in the way that Everton spoke to it, but the silence was enough of a response. Out of view of the screen, Everton pressed a button on his desk, opening up the cage on all sides but one.

    “Now, go, Darkrai! Fulfill your purpose and bait forth Cresselia from the shadows!”

    For a moment, Darkrai continued to stare at Everton, and Everton stared back. Finally, though, Darkrai backed down and cooperated, feeling there was no hope in trying to resist the captain’s orders. It emerged from the opened cage and floated several feet forward before sinking into the shadows on the ground.

    -:-

    In his office, Everton closed the link to the warehouse from his computer, then pushed his chair back and rose from it. He calmly walked to the window, from where he could see the entirety of Whitegold City.

    “Ah yes, Whitegold City,” he said out loud, the lights from the metropolitan area glistening in his monocle and casting shadows across his aged face. “The place where the men of the Everton family made their fortunes. Tomorrow… everything will change.”

    -:-

    Matt and his friends decided to seek lodging outside of the most heavily developed areas of the city, and thus found their way to a busy but less modern section not far from where they were. The buildings in this part of the city were closely packed and relatively small, but all were accented with elegantly-circling railings as well as being two stories tall.

    Some hours earlier, right after leaving the Everton building, the group found a rather humble, cozy inn on a street corner in this neighborhood. Matt, Olivia and Bunny, now all dressed in more casual clothing, were sitting at a table in the bar area on the first floor and talking. The only other patrons present were two men playing darts on the other side of the room.

    “Matt, you’re sure you’re doing alright?” Bunny was quite concerned over his well being. He had been acting unusually standoffish after the incident at the speech, and she knew that when he got like this, it meant something was wrong. “I’m worried about you…”

    “Don’t be. I’m only upset because someone disrupted what I worked so hard for so many years to achieve. ALEA may never be successful now because of what those three did.”

    “You shouldn’t say that! Look at how much work you put into it, just like you said just now. You need to really believe in yourself and your invention. It could very well be the next evolution in global energy, just like you said in your speech. Look how good it did in Snowpoint City.”

    “You’re right,” Matt replied, his expression brightening slightly. “Thank you for being my friend, Bunny.”

    “Hey, you two, stop flirting for a minute and look at this!” Olivia had been looking through several brochures she’d collected from a stand in the inn, and judging from how enthusiastically she’d interrupted, there was something that got her very excited. “According to this, the festival is to celebrate the Legendary Pokémon Cresselia and Victini, and there will be a big party with floats and performers!”

    “That must be where Butler is going to perform,” Matt observed while rubbing his chin. “But Victini and Cresselia, huh? I wonder what the story behind them is. I’ve never even seen a Victini.”

    “So you kids want to know the story of Victini and Cresselia?” The elderly woman who tended the bar had overheard their conversation and walked over to the group’s table.

    “Oh, we don’t want to inconvenience you, sorry.” Bunny tried to laugh her off, as the woman had been cleaning glasses before coming over, and Bunny genuinely didn’t want to disturb her. “I’m sure we’ll find out tomorrow.”

    “Why wait?” the woman chuckled. “You’re not bothering me. I’ve been in this town my whole life, and I’ve seen the place grow from a humble little outpost to the city you see today, so I know the stories from around here. You see, fifty years ago, Cresselia appeared in the city and drove out its hated enemy, Darkrai. It was at that point that Victini also appeared in the city, and everyone’s fortunes changed. The nightmares created by Darkrai disappeared, and our atmosphere, which was stricken by wild inconsistency before, was stabilized by Victini’s heat. Since then, the festival has been held every year to commemorate Cresselia and Victini changing the city’s fortunes.” Setting an old, worn book on the table, she continued, “Have a look at this. It’s a log kept by Liam Everton’s grandfather, Captain Becket Everton, during his travels throughout the world. In it, he recorded what he learned about various Legendary Pokémon in
    the lands he visited. Have fun.”

    The woman could barely turn from the table before Matt had his hands on the book. He opened it and quickly thumbed through the aged pages, looking for Pokémon he didn’t recognize or know well. Before long, he found one. On the page was a detailed painting of a majestic white dragon Pokémon with grand plumage on its wings and body, and two flowing locks streaming from its head. Its tail, which was also white, was in the shape of a torch. In fact, practically the only things not white in the Pokémon’s entire appearance were its stark blue eyes.

    “Reshiram,” Matt read aloud. “This beast is written in the legends of Unova, where it is described as the Vast White Pokémon. In ancient times, Reshiram was wielded by the Hero of Truth, a prince who believed that truths were the strongest of all values. Fittingly, Reshiram’s fires burn to reveal the truth that its allies seek to learn. Using this power, the Hero of Truth did battle with his brother, the Hero of Ideals, and his Zekrom. After a cataclysmic battle, Reshiram and Zekrom went into dormant states and were hidden away somewhere forever.”

    “I wonder what that means, exactly?” Olivia wondered. “A fire that burns to reveal the truth? I don’t understand it at all.”

    Matt was silent. The potential of this journal’s information was not lost on him, nor was the meaning of what it revealed. If Reshiram was a Pokémon that could reveal truth, gaining that power would allow him to finally resolve all of his guilt and regrets, especially over the death of Eleanor, a young woman who he’d fallen for on a previous adventure but lost just as quickly as he gained. He was searching for the answers behind a mysterious group called the Guild, which he had questioned Giovanni about the previous day, and also the answer to who initiated a quest for an item in the kingdom of La Ciudad Dorada known as the Griseous Orb. Reshiram’s truth-revealing fire could theoretically guide him to both of these things.

    Turning the page, Matt found what he was looking for. A picture of Victini was on this page, depicting the Pokémon with swirling frames around its body. It was accompanied by text just as Reshiram’s picture was.

    “Victini is the most inspiring Pokémon I have ever found, and that is why I am honored to have it as my partner aboard my ship. The warmth radiating from Victini… it is Victini’s power, the Victory Star. The power to find any single victory so desired by the power’s user. Oh Victory Star, shine the light on the path I must take to my dreams. Victini, turn my road into one of fortune…”

    “That’s a cool story,” Olivia chimed in. “What if we could meet Victini? What would your one victory be?”

    Though Olivia’s question was not directed at her, Bunny answered anyway. “I’d want to make the greatest discovery in archeological history. Maybe it’s a story we don’t know about yet, or maybe we do know already. Either way, I would want to be able to make that find.”

    “Well, it’s not too hard to guess what mine would be. I would use Victini’s Victory Star to find out where my dad is.”

    The moment those words left Olivia’s mouth, Matt froze up in horror. This one subject, the one he had spent the past five years trying to avoid having to confront, had come up again. Just prior to his death five years earlier, Olivia’s father Rich had given Matt a document entrusting him with her care. Olivia had never learned the truth, partially because Matt was simply too afraid to tell her that her beloved father was gone, and as a result she presently believed that he had abandoned her. The fact that she was continually trying to force the issue wasn’t helping in the least.

    (Banner by Matori)
    Beyond all ideals, the truth shall set you free...
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    The steps on the road to the truth.
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  7. #7
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    Mar 2006
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    “I will see that it is done. Thank you for the responsibility, sir.”

    Stacia turned to leave, but she stopped when Giovanni spoke further.

    “Stay here. I want another pair of eyes on this news conference. Something seems suspicious about it.”

    Though she wouldn’t argue with him anyway due to his being her boss, Stacia was internally grateful for the opportunity. Every time she got to do something for him, she felt like she was actually needed.

    -:-

    The banquet hall was on the twenty-third floor of the Everton building. It was a room lit by dim but warm lamps affixed all around the golden walls, with a floor adorned with short red carpet that had a black cross pattern stitched into it. At the head of the room, there was a stage set up with a large video screen and a podium. The press covering Matt’s speech were busily arranging their equipment, while other invited guests – such as potential investors and foreign energy developers considering contracting Matt’s technology – enjoyed the wide variety of foods catered in for the conference.

    Of course, Nekou – now wearing a female-oriented black tailcoat that she left a few buttons open on, along with a short skirt and knee-high boots – was right there at the forefront of where food was available. Her plate was piled high with a bizarre assortment of edibles, ranging from chicken to salad and quite an impressive share of macaroni and cheese.

    “You want to share some of that?” Olivia, who was standing next to Nekou, asked. She hadn’t been able to get at the macaroni and cheese before she was pushed aside by several others trying to get other foods on that table.

    “Of course. For you I’ll do it, but don’t tell Matt, he might think I’d share food with him too.” Nekou was careful as she scooped over some of her share onto Olivia’s dish. She didn’t want to make a mess of Olivia’s frilly new blue-and-pink dress.

    “You two really get along famously, don’t you?” Bunny interjected sarcastically. Her formal wear was a simple black evening gown with a slit up the right side that ended halfway between her knee and thigh.

    “What, do you want some too?!” There was no reason for Nekou to believe this, but she blushed and pulled her plate away nevertheless. “I don’t know about you yet. I share with people who I really know I like!”

    At first Bunny was offended by how defensive Nekou was getting, but upon second thought, she realized that Nekou was only being brutally honest, and decided to let it go.

    Luckily, just at that point, the lights dimmed, indicating that the speech was about to start. Everyone who had been standing made their way to the seats that were arranged in front of the stage, allowing the press the front two rows. Nekou, Olivia and Bunny lined up next to each other in the very back.

    When a light came up on the stage itself, another dark-suited Everton employee stepped up to the podium and leaned over into the microphones. “Ladies and gentlemen from the media, as well as our invited guests, thank you for attending this conference sponsored by Everton International in cooperation with the Angel Corporation. This evening, you will be listening to a speech given by our keynote speaker, which will then be followed by a question and answer session. Therefore, please, hold your questions until the end of the speech, in which the appropriate time will be made for them to be addressed. Now, without further ado, please welcome this evening’s keynote speaker.”

    Matt, dressed in a white suit with a gray vest and blue tie underneath, made his way onto the stage, shook hands with the departing Everton employee, and took his place at the podium, all to a light smattering of applause. He cleared his throat nervously and adjusted some of the microphones to suit his height more appropriately.

    “Um… thank you, thank you for coming, all of you. Now, for the past one hundred and fifty-eight years, the world has come to rely more and more on a single particular substance for everything from heating to transportation and all other kinds of fuels. It truly has united the world, every nation, under the singular desire of obtaining this precious commodity. Now, wouldn’t you think that’s a good thing? That one substance, so elegant in its simplicity, could bring together every nation on every continent, thus truly uniting the entire world?

    If only it were that simple. Of course, all of you know that the substance I am referring to is oil. Could a syrupy black liquid truly be the solution to all of the world’s problems? It is true that oil has brought the world industrial and economic prosperity on an unprecedented scale, but at what cost? For far too long now, we have seen the world fall victim to the darker side of oil. Wars have been fought. Lands have been drilled to disastrous proportions. Even the transportation of oil has given us a grim history of problems. While, again, it is true that oil has given mankind many good things, could it be that the time has come to bid farewell to the era of petroleum once and for all?

    To that question, I say yes. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to the ALEA, the Absolute Limitless Energy Allocation system. A new energy source of my creation, the ALEA has been successful in reducing the oil consumption of Snowpoint City in Sinnoh by sixty percent only six months after being implemented. Each of you from the press has received a packet of materials for further reference on this system’s early history, and you will find that it contains a short video elaborating on several subjects covered in my speech this evening.

    Now what is it that makes the ALEA so powerful as a potential alternative to oil? First of all, it requires minimum upfront investment. While the equipment required to operate an ALEA-enabled power facility is not cheap, the cost is balanced out in the long term by overall savings, and the equipment will become less expensive as the technology expands to become more common. The fuel for an ALEA facility is also extremely cheap to acquire, transport large quantities of, and put into use, especially compared to the heavy costs associated with petroleum. Secondly, the ALEA has a minimal footprint on the environment. It is estimated that at least eighty percent of the pollution from an oil plant can be eliminated by switching over to an ALEA facility of the same size. The fuel is safe with little to no toxicity and is extremely long-lasting. Finally, third, the energy output from an ALEA facility is exponentially higher than that of an oil-fired power plant, and much more economical as well. According to estimates based on the results of the test facility constructed in Snowpoint City, a typical power plant equipped to use the ALEA can produce roughly fifty percent more energy than a typical oil plant, while lasting seven times as long on a single refueling.”

    Extending his right hand with his palm upturned, Matt finished, “Truly, the ALEA is the future of energy, and that future is bright! Join me! Come hand-in-hand into that bright tomorrow where the world will be freed from the shackles of oil!” Another burst of applause greeted Matt’s enthusiastic turn, and he smiled as he lowered his hand. “Thank you, everyone. Now, as promised, I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have regarding the plans I have laid out.”

    A hand immediately went up in the back of the crowd; Matt couldn’t clearly see who it was due to the dimmed lights, but he pointed in its direction anyway.

    “Is your refrigerator running?”

    Matt sighed forcefully. It was Nekou playing a prank on him. Even though he was visibly annoyed, though, on some level he appreciated her trying to lighten the mood and make him less nervous.

    “I’ll ask that you please keep your questions to the ALEA and relevant subjects, please.”

    Several other hands went up, and Matt selected a hat-wearing, middle-aged man who rose to his feet when he was pointed at. “Could you explain further on just what the ALEA’s fuel is and how it can possibly be such an efficient source of energy?”

    “Ah, excellent question. You see, the fuel that is used by the ALEA actually is the mineral that comprises the jewels called Spheres. These Spheres can be mined out of the ground anywhere in the world. Once they are buried, they grow, giving off energy all the while. The ALEA works by burying Spheres in highly enriched soil inside special plugs that collect and harness this energy. A typical ALEA facility is designed in subdivided blocks, each block containing a certain number of units, which each contain several of these plugs. Because Spheres grow very slowly, each one gives off energy for a long time, thus creating the need to only refuel the plant rarely.”

    “Thank you,” the next reporter, a slightly overweight woman in her thirties, said when she was pointed at following the end of Matt’s answer. “What can you tell us about the safety of this system?”

    “It is completely safe,” Matt replied. “Spheres are not a combustible fuel. Even if a critical error occurs at an ALEA facility, the fuel cannot combust. The machinery to harness their energy is also equipped with fail-safe mechanisms designed to prevent explosions of the machines themselves. On another note, once the fuel has been fully expended and needs to be switched out, it can be safely disposed of with no ill effects. There is zero environmental risk in Spheres as a fuel for the system.” Pointing toward the back again, he said, “Your turn.”

    “Does this system have ten-pound balls?”

    This time Matt really was annoyed. It was Olivia who made the interrupting remark, and he immediately realized that Nekou had goaded her on into saying it. “Someone who isn’t my student who is getting penalized later for bad behavior, please,” he hissed through gritted teeth.

    “Can you tell us about the plans for expanding this technology?” another female reporter inquired.

    “Excellent question. I have been given financing by the Angel Corporation to continue development of the ALEA and prepare the implementation of it in the power plants of the Tohjo Continent that buy into the system. This work is planned to be assisted by subcontracting through Everton International, which owns many of the Tohjo Continent’s energy plants, and through this evening’s event we hope to gather investors interested in further assisting the financing of the project. The software that operates this technology is extremely user-friendly, and can even guide a facility that enters the project through the steps of upgrading their equipment to meet our specifications. Next question?”

    “Does your system have anything to do with the blasphemy you commit by existing?”

    This sudden question caused Matt to jump. It wasn’t Olivia or Nekou joking this time, in fact, it was a male voice. This meant he had to take it seriously, if not by default, and he tried to work out what it meant.

    “Come again?” he coughed in confusion.

    “Maybe I didn’t make myself clear, so let me phrase it in plainer terms. You, Matt Chiaki, are an abomination and commit evil with every breath you take. By modifying your body with technology you have defiled the divinity of the DNA that originally comprised you…”

    “That’s it, I’m cutting you off,” Matt interrupted, his mind clouding with doubt even further. “Get serious or cede the floor to someone who is. Who are you even?”

    “We are Polaris,” the man replied, rising from his seat alongside another man and woman who were sitting next to him. All three were wearing white lab coats. “We are a group that believes in the divinity of DNA, the building block of life itself. You have modified yourself with machinery completely foreign to the organic nature of existence, so we must oppose any effort you make to change our world.”

    None of this made any sense, and Matt truly believed it was some ridiculous prank. He could only shake his head as he attempted to work it out.

    “I see you don’t understand,” the man continued, not allowing Matt a chance to respond to the earlier charges. “It does not matter in the end, though. We will make sure that this is the last day you exist to see.”

    In unison, all three protestors threw individual Poké Balls, releasing three Magneton. Though the trio of Magneton received no orders at first, they all used Discharge to blast electric bolts all over the room. Before long the room was in a wreck, with the food tables burned and overturned, and chairs scattered everywhere. The press and guests were fleeing this rapidly escalating scene in a panic, including the mysterious hooded reporter and her Cinccino, who were the last to leave. Matt, meanwhile, had no clear path to escape, and could only back slowly up away from the podium.

    “Hey, leave him alone, you mean jerks!” Olivia angrily screamed, having remained behind with Nekou and Bunny. All of them were now standing on the side of the room, near one of the destroyed tables.

    “Be silent, young lady. You are still pure and untainted. This creature standing before us is an abomination against nature and must be eliminated. Magneton, Thunder Wave!”

    The intentions of the man and his two eerily-silent cohorts became clear. If the Magneton were to hit Matt with their combined Thunder Wave, the cybernetic implants sustaining his body would inevitably fail, and his life could potentially be put in danger.

    “Balin, Flamethrower!”

    A blast of fire suddenly and unexpectedly shot across the room, mowing down all three Magneton. It had come from Bunny’s Ninetales, Balin, whom she’d hastily sent out to defend Matt from the protestors. He pushed one of his front paws into the carpeting and growled angrily, recognizing the three as threats to one of his trainer’s friends.

    “So you three decide to stand alongside this blight upon the Earth? Fine. We shall dispose of you as well, as per Father’s vision for a pure worl…” The man froze upon realizing he was only looking at two people, Bunny and Olivia. Nekou was gone. “There were three of you before, and nobody escaped…”

    “That’s because you dumb shits only think in two dimensions!”

    The ceiling. None of the three protestors had been paying attention to Matt’s friends or the rafters above their heads, so it was perhaps inevitable that Nekou got up there without being noticed. She dropped down, driving the heels of her boots into the shoulders of the man who had remained silent throughout the incident. Instantly sent into a state of shock by the twin wounds he received, he collapsed onto the floor. Without hesitation Nekou turned to the woman, who simply stared at her with blank eyes, and struck her with a forceful right hook to the face.

    Two of her opponents were already knocked out, and Nekou was confident in her chances. At least, she was until the leader of the protestors smashed a chair into her upper back, sending her to the floor herself.

    “Nekou!” Matt screamed, horrified at the brutality of the scene unfolding before his eyes and the seeming finality of Nekou’s fate. Olivia and Bunny shared in his terror, though they remained silent.

    “So that was her name?” the man said, slowly turning back to Matt. “It’s a shame that a good collection of DNA had to go to waste like that. But, I’m done playing games. It’s about time the mission is fulfilled once and for…”

    “Shut the **** up!”

    A sharp, piercing pain penetrated through the man’s back, sending shockwaves through his whole body. While gasping for labored breath, he managed to tilt his head around enough to see Nekou standing behind him, apparently unharmed from his assault. He could only stare at her in sickened surprise with wide eyes until she pulled the knife out of his shuddering body, allowing him to fall like his goons.

    “I’m someone who likes what she has…” Nekou screeched, towering over the three unconscious protestors with the manner of a deadly predator. “…and if you threaten even one of the things I have, then I’ll **** you up! I’ll beat you senseless!”

    “Nekou, calm down!” Matt had jumped down from the stage once the danger was over and was now approaching the mess Nekou had made. “Did you kill this guy?” he asked, pointing to the protestor that Nekou stabbed.

    “No, I stabbed him where he’ll lose just enough blood to pass out for a while. If there’s one thing I know it’s where to hit to get the results I want.”

    “That was awesome, seriously!” beamed Olivia, who had rushed over and begun pulling on Nekou’s leg. “I want to be like you!”

    “Okay, that’s enough,” Matt interrupted. “Having one each of the two of you around is hard enough. I don’t need you becoming like each other.”

    “What the hell happened in here?!” Foster and Baker, along with their Throh and Sawk, had appeared in the doorway. Foster made his way in first. “Captain Everton told us to come down here and check out the racket in this room and we find this?”

    “One of you better explain this!” Baker threatened.

    “Well, they interrupted the speech,” Bunny attempted to explain, “and then they tried to attack Matt, and... it was just a mess.”

    “Whatever,” sighed the blue-haired guard, giving up hope of finding any answers. “We’ll just check the security recording. Get out of here so we can clean this mess up and send these three over to the cops.”

    “Fine,” Matt agreed. He turned to Nekou, Olivia and Bunny and said, “I didn’t want to stay here much longer anyway. Let’s get going.”

    -:-

    “As you can see… a very shocking scene has unfolded at Everton International during Matt Chiaki’s energy speech. Protestors from a group calling itself Polaris disrupted the presentation and… made an attempt on Matt Chiaki’s life, but as you can see, they have been thwarted, rather bloodily…”

    Giovanni gulped down the last of his wine and slammed the glass down on the table next to his couch, causing Stacia to jump in her nervousness.

    “Polaris… I was suspicious that something was going on, but I didn’t think it would involve them. Stacia, contact Dr. Zager and bring him up to speed on these developments. It appears things are happening at a faster pace than we expected.”

    “Yes, right away, sir.”

    -:-

    The doors of the elevator opened, allowing Matt, Nekou, Olivia and Bunny out into the lobby of the Everton building. Some of the people who were in the lobby from earlier had since left, so it was much less busy than it was before.

    Olivia abruptly got in front of the group and cheerfully demanded, “let’s take pictures! If we take pictures of each other here, we’ll always remember our trip!”

    “Awfully odd to want to remember a trip where one of us almost got murdered, isn’t it?”

    “Don’t be a party pooper, Bunny,” Nekou laughed. “You’ve got the right idea, Olivia. Get over there and I’ll take your picture.”

    Complying, Olivia ran over to the video screens embedded in the wall and waited for Nekou to take out her phone. However, as soon as she got it out, the receptionist jumped out of her chair.

    “Put that away right now! No taking pictures on Mr. Everton’s property!”

    Nekou groaned. “Man, **** this,” she mumbled under her breath as she put her phone away.

    “Welcome to Everton International headquarters at One Everton Plaza, Whitegold City,” intoned a female voice from the video screens.

    Olivia and Nekou both turned to the screen as they were both intrigued by what it was going to cover, so Matt and Bunny decided to watch it as well. It shuffled through a montage of images as the narration continued.

    “Everton International is a company with a distinguished history. Founded in 1728 as a shipping service for tea, the company has remained in the Everton family for seven generations. As time has passed, Everton International has expanded into a multinational conglomerate enveloping fields from land, sea and air shipping, investment banking, and its flagship division, oil exploration and development. We are proud to remain at the forefront of every necessity in your daily life.

    Such prosperity would only be possible under the banner of a strong leader, and the wings of our current president have lifted us higher and higher. Having taken up the position of president in 1982 from his father, Captain Liam Everton has guided Everton International to untold levels of success. Known for his highly ambitious nature and skill in discerning good investments, Liam Everton’s leadership has lead to an exponentially rewarding era for those invested with the company’s banking services, while bringing new oil technologies to market.

    We here at Everton International hope that through continued providing of our services, we can continue to guide your lives to great success.”


    The video faded and then started to repeat, so Matt and the others looked away. “Are we done here now?” he asked with clear irritation.

    “Boy, you’re being crabby,” Nekou pointed out in a half-joking manner. “What bug is up your ***?”

    “Did you forget that I was just almost killed up there?!”

    It almost seemed as if that fact didn’t even faze Nekou at all, judging from how indifferent her reaction was. “So? Calm down. It’s not like you actually did die.”

    “But if I was dead, then…” Thoroughly befuddled by Nekou’s bizarre logic, Matt decided to simply drop the subject. “Let’s go.”

    With Matt taking the lead, the group collectively headed for the glass double doors that led out of the tower. The doors were surrounded by more glass, turning the front of the building into a giant window.

    When the doors sensed Matt was nearby, they glided open to allow him, Olivia, Bunny and Nekou out. The four passed through, and then the gates slid shut.

    Before they could take even more than a few steps out into the square in front of the Everton building, however, trouble once again found them. It was the hooded reporter with the Cinccino. She had been quietly watching the speech earlier in the room but had fled when the protestors attacked.

    “Mr. Chiaki, please, a moment of your time?” Even though she was issuing a request, the reporter got in Matt’s face anyway, not allowing him a real choice of what to answer. “What can you tell me about the Dreamyarn Inceptor?”

    “Dreamyarn Inceptor?” Matt repeated in confusion while his friends lined up behind him. “Listen, lady, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

    “But with your association with Liam Everton, shouldn’t you know what he’s working on? The public should know what Everton is up to in there!”

    “I agree with you on that. The public does have the right to know what their industrial leaders are planning for them. That said, I don’t work for Everton. My speech was merely on technology that may be subcontracted through Everton International.”

    “You… don’t work for him?” The woman seemed genuinely surprised. She hadn’t really thought over her background information on Matt, so in her haste she didn’t realize that his association with Everton was merely a casual one. “I’m sorry, please forgive me.”

    “It’s fine,” Bunny chimed in. “But could you tell us what’s going on?”

    “I’m investigating Liam Everton and Everton International,” explained the reporter. “After I finished my investigation of the Kodai Network Group in Unova, I discovered that Liam Everton was majority shareholder. Shortly after Grings Kodai went to prison, Liam Everton completely bought out the group and thus gained control of all of Kodai’s inventions and research. Something about that just seemed so suspicious to me, so I’ve been on Everton’s trail ever since. The one big thing I’ve discovered is that he was financing clandestine research at a laboratory known as the Dreamyard Lab in Unova. At that lab the scientists were studying the Pokémon Musharna, trying to see if they could harness the dreams it collects as an energy source.”

    “So what happened?” Olivia asked, completely enthralled by the story.

    “There was an accident and the Dreamyard Lab melted down. Many of the researchers were killed in the blast. The head of the lab, a woman known as Dr. Fennel, survived, however. She lived in Striaton City for a while, but some time ago, she simply disappeared. I managed to get a hold of some of her research notes and through them, I discovered that they were developing a device called the Dreamyarn Inceptor to harness Musharna’s powers. When I obtained a copy of the financial report for Everton International’s last fiscal year, I found that ‘DI DEV’ was an item on the ledger.”

    “Dreamyarn Inceptor development,” Nekou correctly guessed.

    “Precisely. Liam Everton has reactivated development of the Dreamyarn Inceptor in this city and is planning something that gives me an ominous feeling. Listen, let’s sit down and talk at the Balise Park Sports Bar tomorrow, late morning. I’m going to need your help.”

    “I promised I’d take Olivia to the festival tomorrow…”

    “It’s okay, Matt,” the girl piped up, not losing her cheer. “We’ll go to the festival after talking to her.”

    “Thank you for your generosity, Mr. Chiaki. It’s very important that I find what I’m after before Everton’s plans come to fruition.”

    -:-

    Somewhere else in the city, in a dark underground room, a spark of light came to life. The coldness of the stone chamber was warmed by the fire surrounding a tiny, pale-yellow bodied foxlike Pokémon with large, pointy ears forming a red ‘V’ shape.

    “…tini…” it said sadly, fluttering the wings attached to the backs of its legs as it stumbled forward. “Victini…”

    Suddenly, a much brighter, blue light appeared in the room, reflecting vividly in Victini’s large blue eyes. From the flash of light emerged the Legendary Pokémon Cresselia, the purple-and-yellow swan Pokémon known as the dispeller of evil dreams. Her glittering wings hung around her body like veils, and her light continued to shine on Victini as the smaller Pokémon grew excited.

    “Tiniii! Victini, vic victini!!”

    Cresselia smiled lightly when Victini hugged her chest. Clearly, the two had a strong bond, and Victini disliked being apart from Cresselia. Even with no human words exchanged between them, the power of their connection could not be denied.

    -:-

    Darkrai hated the collar Everton forced it to wear. The device was uncomfortable and far too tight on its body, but Darkrai could do nothing about it. With no options and no way to escape, it could only circle around the perimeter of its cage nervously, like it had been doing for hours.

    “Darkrai!”

    It froze when Everton’s voice boomed through the dank interior of the warehouse. The source was a video screen positioned not far from the cage, and Darkrai turned slowly to face it in anger.

    “I see you’re doing well, Darkrai,” Everton taunted, the video screen showing him sitting at his desk in his office. “Listen well. Your mission is about to begin. When I release you into Whitegold City, you are to attack as many Pokémon as possible and put them to sleep. Continue doing that until Cresselia, your hated enemy, is drawn out. At that point, you are to fight Cresselia and do nothing more. Lest I remind you… if you disobey me at any time, that collar you’re wearing will enable me to punish you. Am I understood?”

    Darkrai simply glared at the screen. It, of course, could not answer in the way that Everton spoke to it, but the silence was enough of a response. Out of view of the screen, Everton pressed a button on his desk, opening up the cage on all sides but one.

    “Now, go, Darkrai! Fulfill your purpose and bait forth Cresselia from the shadows!”

    For a moment, Darkrai continued to stare at Everton, and Everton stared back. Finally, though, Darkrai backed down and cooperated, feeling there was no hope in trying to resist the captain’s orders. It emerged from the opened cage and floated several feet forward before sinking into the shadows on the ground.

    -:-

    In his office, Everton closed the link to the warehouse from his computer, then pushed his chair back and rose from it. He calmly walked to the window, from where he could see the entirety of Whitegold City.

    “Ah yes, Whitegold City,” he said out loud, the lights from the metropolitan area glistening in his monocle and casting shadows across his aged face. “The place where the men of the Everton family made their fortunes. Tomorrow… everything will change.”

    -:-

    Matt and his friends decided to seek lodging outside of the most heavily developed areas of the city, and thus found their way to a busy but less modern section not far from where they were. The buildings in this part of the city were closely packed and relatively small, but all were accented with elegantly-circling railings as well as being two stories tall.

    Some hours earlier, right after leaving the Everton building, the group found a rather humble, cozy inn on a street corner in this neighborhood. Matt, Olivia and Bunny, now all dressed in more casual clothing, were sitting at a table in the bar area on the first floor and talking. The only other patrons present were two men playing darts on the other side of the room.

    “Matt, you’re sure you’re doing alright?” Bunny was quite concerned over his well being. He had been acting unusually standoffish after the incident at the speech, and she knew that when he got like this, it meant something was wrong. “I’m worried about you…”

    “Don’t be. I’m only upset because someone disrupted what I worked so hard for so many years to achieve. ALEA may never be successful now because of what those three did.”

    “You shouldn’t say that! Look at how much work you put into it, just like you said just now. You need to really believe in yourself and your invention. It could very well be the next evolution in global energy, just like you said in your speech. Look how good it did in Snowpoint City.”

    “You’re right,” Matt replied, his expression brightening slightly. “Thank you for being my friend, Bunny.”

    “Hey, you two, stop flirting for a minute and look at this!” Olivia had been looking through several brochures she’d collected from a stand in the inn, and judging from how enthusiastically she’d interrupted, there was something that got her very excited. “According to this, the festival is to celebrate the Legendary Pokémon Cresselia and Victini, and there will be a big party with floats and performers!”

    “That must be where Butler is going to perform,” Matt observed while rubbing his chin. “But Victini and Cresselia, huh? I wonder what the story behind them is. I’ve never even seen a Victini.”

    “So you kids want to know the story of Victini and Cresselia?” The elderly woman who tended the bar had overheard their conversation and walked over to the group’s table.

    “Oh, we don’t want to inconvenience you, sorry.” Bunny tried to laugh her off, as the woman had been cleaning glasses before coming over, and Bunny genuinely didn’t want to disturb her. “I’m sure we’ll find out tomorrow.”

    “Why wait?” the woman chuckled. “You’re not bothering me. I’ve been in this town my whole life, and I’ve seen the place grow from a humble little outpost to the city you see today, so I know the stories from around here. You see, fifty years ago, Cresselia appeared in the city and drove out its hated enemy, Darkrai. It was at that point that Victini also appeared in the city, and everyone’s fortunes changed. The nightmares created by Darkrai disappeared, and our atmosphere, which was stricken by wild inconsistency before, was stabilized by Victini’s heat. Since then, the festival has been held every year to commemorate Cresselia and Victini changing the city’s fortunes.” Setting an old, worn book on the table, she continued, “Have a look at this. It’s a log kept by Liam Everton’s grandfather, Captain Becket Everton, during his travels throughout the world. In it, he recorded what he learned about various Legendary Pokémon in
    the lands he visited. Have fun.”

    The woman could barely turn from the table before Matt had his hands on the book. He opened it and quickly thumbed through the aged pages, looking for Pokémon he didn’t recognize or know well. Before long, he found one. On the page was a detailed painting of a majestic white dragon Pokémon with grand plumage on its wings and body, and two flowing locks streaming from its head. Its tail, which was also white, was in the shape of a torch. In fact, practically the only things not white in the Pokémon’s entire appearance were its stark blue eyes.

    “Reshiram,” Matt read aloud. “This beast is written in the legends of Unova, where it is described as the Vast White Pokémon. In ancient times, Reshiram was wielded by the Hero of Truth, a prince who believed that truths were the strongest of all values. Fittingly, Reshiram’s fires burn to reveal the truth that its allies seek to learn. Using this power, the Hero of Truth did battle with his brother, the Hero of Ideals, and his Zekrom. After a cataclysmic battle, Reshiram and Zekrom went into dormant states and were hidden away somewhere forever.”

    “I wonder what that means, exactly?” Olivia wondered. “A fire that burns to reveal the truth? I don’t understand it at all.”

    Matt was silent. The potential of this journal’s information was not lost on him, nor was the meaning of what it revealed. If Reshiram was a Pokémon that could reveal truth, gaining that power would allow him to finally resolve all of his guilt and regrets, especially over the death of Eleanor, a young woman who he’d fallen for on a previous adventure but lost just as quickly as he gained. He was searching for the answers behind a mysterious group called the Guild, which he had questioned Giovanni about the previous day, and also the answer to who initiated a quest for an item in the kingdom of La Ciudad Dorada known as the Griseous Orb. Reshiram’s truth-revealing fire could theoretically guide him to both of these things.

    Turning the page, Matt found what he was looking for. A picture of Victini was on this page, depicting the Pokémon with swirling frames around its body. It was accompanied by text just as Reshiram’s picture was.

    “Victini is the most inspiring Pokémon I have ever found, and that is why I am honored to have it as my partner aboard my ship. The warmth radiating from Victini… it is Victini’s power, the Victory Star. The power to find any single victory so desired by the power’s user. Oh Victory Star, shine the light on the path I must take to my dreams. Victini, turn my road into one of fortune…”

    “That’s a cool story,” Olivia chimed in. “What if we could meet Victini? What would your one victory be?”

    Though Olivia’s question was not directed at her, Bunny answered anyway. “I’d want to make the greatest discovery in archeological history. Maybe it’s a story we don’t know about yet, or maybe we do know already. Either way, I would want to be able to make that find.”

    “Well, it’s not too hard to guess what mine would be. I would use Victini’s Victory Star to find out where my dad is.”

    The moment those words left Olivia’s mouth, Matt froze up in horror. This one subject, the one he had spent the past five years trying to avoid having to confront, had come up again. Just prior to his death five years earlier, Olivia’s father Rich had given Matt a document entrusting him with her care. Olivia had never learned the truth, partially because Matt was simply too afraid to tell her that her beloved father was gone, and as a result she presently believed that he had abandoned her. The fact that she was continually trying to force the issue wasn’t helping in the least.

    (Banner by Matori)
    Beyond all ideals, the truth shall set you free...
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  8. #8
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    Mar 2006
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    In order to avoid the touchy subject continuing forward, Matt coughed, then called out to the innkeeper, “May I keep this book? It may be quite useful for me to accomplish my goals.”

    “Sure, I don’t care. I ain’t got any use for it. Just make sure you take good care of it, because Becket Everton gave it to me personally.”

    “Thank you!” Turning back to Olivia and Bunny, Matt clasped his hands and rested his chin on them, then wondered, “I wonder where Nekou flaked out to?”

    -:-

    Driving down the glistening waters outside the urban area of the city was a large and elegant riverboat, providing an ivory-and-gold accent against the black water.

    This wasn’t just a leisure cruise, though. It was a casino boat, and Nekou was right there in the middle of all its patrons partaking in the pleasures it offered. She was sitting at a slot machine with a bottle of beer in one hand and Zorua in her lap. Visibly drunk, she was using her free hand to submit credits and pull its handle to send the multicolored tumblers spinning. Finally, Marie was perched atop the machine and looking down at the wheels, fascinated by the rainbow blurs they frequently became.

    Nekou was doing moderately well, having made a few hundred credits in total from where she had started. Between her gambling and drinking, along with taking care of Marie and Zorua, she was content.

    “Excuse me, young lady, might I have a moment?”

    Interrupted from the bubble she’d placed herself in, Nekou turned around in her chair, discovering an older man in his sixties standing behind her. His brown suit had a somewhat low-cut neckline, revealing his collarbones and the upper part of the blue tie sloppily wrapped around his neck. Despite his age, though, his hair was still black, albeit thinning. An eyepatch of similar black coloring wrapped around his head and covered his left eye.

    “Who’re you, dude?” Nekou’s speech was somewhat slurred from her drunken state. However, she was still lucid and coherent.

    “I’d like to invite you to the card game I’m going to play with some of my friends. The name’s Woods.”

    “Well I’ll tell you, Woods… sure, let me get my things.”

    Zorua jumped onto Nekou’s head as she stood, quickly being joined by Marie. Nekou only hesitated to hit the cash-out button on the slot machine so she could collect a ticket showing her final score.

    Woods guided her across the casino to a blackjack table situated next to a window. While the slot machines had been on a tiled section of the floor, the card tables were on short red carpet instead. The casino was dimly lit with lamps mounted on the cream-colored walls, providing a warm atmosphere.

    Three other men were already sitting at the table. They were all about Woods’s age give or take a few years, and seemed to be eagerly awaiting the start of the game.

    “You’re late, Woods!” one of them blurted out upon seeing their friend. The scent of alcohol around the table was strong, explaining the three and their overly outgoing moods. “I’ve been looking forward to trying to beat you this time!”

    “Quite a lady you’ve got on your arm tonight,” another of the men said, gesturing to Nekou. “She’s gotta be one of your finest scores.”

    “Finest scores? You picked me up just for eye candy?” Nekou’s mood instantly changed when she understood what exactly Woods wanted her for, and she blushed furiously. “Man, **** this! I can’t believe you interrupted my game for this!”

    “Please, I’m sorry... how about I make it up to you?” Woods offered.

    “The rules don’t work that way!” she shot back, blushing so forcefully that her face was bright red. “Who ever said you get the chance to make deals with me? That’s none of your business!” Some other casino patrons were beginning to overhear the scene and begin staring. “This is all just such a big ****ing insult… but… but… I guess I will hear you out. You’ve got thirty seconds.”

    “How about joining our game?”

    That prospect instantly reverted Nekou back into her normal mood. “Challenge accepted, old man,” she taunted as she sat down at the table. “Shuffle up and get ready for an asskicking.”

    “Just so you know,” the third man said, “Woods is the best card player in this entire city. None of us have ever beaten him, and we’ve played every week for years.”

    “Doesn’t mean a damn thing. Let’s play.”

    -:-

    The marshlands of Whitegold City were an unsettling place to be at night. Besides a few sounds from the nature around them, they were largely silent and abandoned.

    One of the few pronounced noises in the marsh was the croaking of the Pokémon Seismitoad, which was generated not only with his mouth but the black-and-cream bumps all over his lumpy, uneven blue body. He was sitting on the banks of the marsh with a group of his previous evolutionary forums, Tympole and Palpitoad, surrounding him. The former was little more than a tan face on a ball-shaped black body with a tail and a blue bump on each side, while the latter had feet to stand upright, a third bump on its forehead, and a ring of smaller, pale bumps around its midsection.

    This peaceful scene was disrupted when Darkrai emerged from the shadows of the marsh, startling the group of Pokémon. The Tympole and Palpitoad immediately jumped back in the water, acting quite skittishly, but Seismitoad stayed, intending to defend his home. He sprang into the air with his right arm cocked back, intending to hit Darkrai with Drain Punch, however, Darkrai dodged the attack by simply floating out of the way.

    When Darkrai drifted down over the marsh bank, it suddenly got shocked by an electric blast coming from seemingly nowhere. Hidden in the mud was the flatfish Pokémon Stunfisk, which laughed as she deactivated her camouflage, revealing her brown body and yellow tail.

    Angered by this sneak attack, Darkrai unleashed one of its strongest attacks, Dark Pulse. The blast of black-colored energy rings caused an explosion that flung the badly injured Stunfisk into the air, tossing her back in the water. Before Darkrai even had time to be proud of its work, though, Seismitoad burst up from the marsh in a second ambush, with his Drain Punch connecting this time.

    Even though Drain Punch was super-effective typewise as a Fighting-type move, Darkrai shook it off easily. As a counterattack it brought its hands together to form an orb of darkness, which it threw at Seismitoad. After being engulfed in the Dark Void for a moment, the attack faded and Seismitoad fell into the water, fast asleep.

    With Seismitoad defeated, Darkrai scanned the surrounding area. No other Pokémon were immediately present, so it flew off in search of more targets, just as Everton had ordered.

    -:-

    “I’ve never been pushed this far,” Woods gasped. “I guess now it’s all or nothing.”

    A crowd had gathered around the blackjack table as Woods pushed the final few chips he had left into the betting circle. His friends had been beaten in swift fashion, but Nekou’s stack was vastly larger than his. Without a word, Nekou tossed a few chips into her own betting circle, and the dealer handed the players their cards on the green felt.

    Woods had a seven of hearts and three of clubs, while Nekou had the ace and nine of spades. The dealer’s face-up card was the ace of diamonds.

    “Insurance?” she dutifully asked, being greeted by refusals from both remaining players. She then peeked at her face-down card, and, discovering it was not a card that would give her twenty-one, turned to Woods for his action.

    “Hit, please.”

    “Hit.” Another card was dealt to Woods – the nine of hearts, giving him a total of nineteen. “Hit or stand?”

    “Stand.”

    “Stand. Nekou?”

    Nekou looked down on her cards and thought carefully for a second. Despite being drunk and still drinking, her thoughts were becoming clearer, not cloudy. “Hit me.”

    An audible gasp went up among the gathered crowd when the next card came out – another ace, this one of clubs. Counting it as eleven, Nekou now had a twenty-one.

    With no more action to be taken, the dealer turned over her hole card. It was the nine of diamonds, giving her twenty. Immediately, the room went silent, as the dealer’s hand fell just over Woods’s hand but just under Nekou’s, meaning she won while he lost, and he had no chips left. Moments later, cheering broke out. No one that night expected the city’s best gambler to lose.

    “Impossible…” the old gambler gasped, staring down at the cards on the table. “I can’t have…”

    “Well you did lose,” Nekou said smugly. “Still think I’m just eye candy?”

    “No, not at all,” Woods replied while shaking his head and smiling. “It’s like the luck of Victini’s Victory Star was bestowed upon you.”

    “Victini? Victory Star? What are you on now?”

    “Victini is a Pokémon that has the power to bring victory. They say that if you make a contract with Victini, you will be given the Victory Star, the power to find the victory you desire most. Someone like you, though… you make your own luck. I’m impressed a young woman like yourself is so successful.”

    “Don’t get too jealous. Not everyone can do what I did.”

    -:-

    Early the next day, the group headed back to Balise Park to seek out the sports bar where they were to meet the female reporter. At some point during the night, Nekou had made it back to the inn somehow, and was found by her friends in a discombobulated mess on the couch, snoring loudly. They let her sleep for as long as they could before waking her up around ten. As well, they also decided to keep their formal clothing from the speech for the day.

    Matt was thankful that the reporter was waiting for his group at the door of the sports bar, a fact that enabled them to head right for a table.

    Almost immediately, Nekou beckoned a waiter and demanded, “I want some beer and a plate of hot wings!”

    “Right away, miss,” the waiter responded. He turned and walked off, his shoes banging loudly on the wooden floor as he made his way behind the bar, made of a similar darkened, finished material.

    “More beer already?” Matt said incredulously, unable to believe she could drink any more. “I find it hard to believe you can actually down more beer after how much you must have had last night.”

    “Shut up. Everyone knows the best way to come off a night of heavy drinking is one more beer and a huge plate of hot wings.”

    “You’re my hero,” Olivia chimed in.

    Unable to deal with the escalating rapport between Nekou and Olivia, which he viewed as an extremely negative influence on the latter, Matt lowered his head to the table, causing the white fedora he was now wearing with his suit to fall off.

    Amused, the reporter chuckled. “She’s quite the energetic girl. You’re lucky to have her. I can sympathize… my son’s a handful at times himself.”

    “She isn’t my daught… oh wait, you know that already.” With the conversation started, Matt lifted his head and put his hat back on. He hesitated to speak for a moment, as Nekou’s beer and hot wings arrived, but when he did say something, he had to raise his voice somewhat to be heard over the televisions in the bar. The background noise was more coverage of the upcoming Pokémon Bowl. “I don’t think we’ve formally met. You know I’m Matt Chiaki and my student here is Olivia Mistbloom, but I’d like you to meet my friend Bunny…” Bunny nodded when she was mentioned, “…and this one over here is Nekou Langley. She’s my bodyguard or something, or at least she thinks she is. I don’t have a clue.”

    “Shove it,” Nekou argued while sloppily stuffing the wings in her mouth. “It’s not like I saved you from some murderous goons yesterday, right?”

    “Well…” Matt did his best to ignore Nekou’s insults, but he did look rattled. “…collectively, this is my bizarre little group that I call the Triad of Revenge. We seek the truth behind mysteries that have harmed peoples’ lives.”

    “A noble goal. Now allow me to introduce myself…” The woman removed her glasses and took off her hood, revealing her purple eyes and flowing black hair. Her Cinccino jumped up on her shoulder to join her. “Undercover reporter Rowena Byrne, at your service.”

    “The same Rowena Byrne who brought down Grings Kodai from the inside?” In his surprise, Matt had leaned back in his chair with his one good eye widened. A number of thoughts ran through his head, and he wasn’t sure how to sort them out. “I guess I’m honored to meet you, because I bought your book five years ago and enjoyed it thoroughly, but…”

    “I bought your book too,” Bunny added without prompting. “Good work on it. I have to say, though, I’m surprised you’re here right now, being a single mother with a young son and all…”

    “I live my life according to my own rules, so my son has everything he needs more than sorted out. I don’t need anyone to be concerned for me.”

    “I get an ominous feeling,” Matt said lowly, trying to guide the conversation back on track. “If you’re here… someone like you, who accomplished so much in the battle against a corrupt executive once before… well, I guess what I’m trying to say is, if someone like you with a reputation as a muckraker who publishes explosive stories is here, something big is happening, isn’t it?”

    “You have a good head on your shoulders,” Rowena complimented, albeit remaining deadly serious. “I’ll lay all my cards on the table and be honest with you up front, because I’m going to need your help. After we took down Grings Kodai, I had access to all the records and files of the Kodai Network Group, the corporation he was the president and CEO of. Most of the documents simply covered Kodai’s various technological investments and advancements, but eventually, I got to the financial records. Contained within those records was the information on the board of shareholders of the company. It turned out that the majority shareholder, holding seventy-five percent of the total shares available at the time Kodai was arrested, was Liam Everton.”

    Matt and Bunny reacted with visible surprise upon hearing this revelation, while Nekou even stopped eating for a moment. It wasn’t actually new news that Everton was the majority shareholder in the Kodai Network Group, especially being that Rowena had told them this just the day before, but none of them expected to learn that he actually controlled that much of a share in the company.

    Rowena continued, “After Kodai was arrested, his assets were seized and liquidated by the Unova government. The collapse of such a giant corporation could have sent shock waves through the entire global market, so Liam Everton stepped in and bought out all the remaining shares, essentially taking over the assets of the Kodai Network Group. That included all of Kodai’s old inventions and innovations. And as I told you yesterday, I have discovered proof that he funded clandestine research at the Dreamyard Lab. With all of that, combined with the disappearance of Dr. Fennel, I have reason to believe that Liam Everton is up to something very sinister that is quickly coming to a head.”

    “That’s all some very alarming information,” Matt said pensively while leaning into his clasped hands. “What can we do about it?”

    “There will be a lot of additional publicity focused on this city for the next couple of days because of the festival and Pokémon Bowl. We must use this opportunity to discover the truth about whatever it is Everton is planning and expose it to the world before it’s too late. I have a source with some connections to Everton International on his way here to speak with us.”

    Olivia’s Minccino suddenly appeared on the table; Olivia had let her out in order to feed her some hot wings that Nekou shared, only for Minccino to dislike the taste and leap up to get away. When she saw Rowena’s Cinccino, she went up to her evolved form and sniffed nervously. Cinccino responded positively and jumped down from Rowena’s shoulder, beckoning Minccino to play with her on the floor.

    “Ah, Rowena, there you are!”

    While the two Normal-type Pokémon ran around after each other near the table, soon being joined by Marie and Zorua, Woods approached at a brisk clip from behind Rowena. The moment Nekou saw him, she nearly choked on the chicken in her mouth.

    “You!” she exclaimed. “You’re that guy whose *** I kicked at blackjack last night! Why are you here?”

    Woods was equally surprised to see Nekou. “I should have figured you’d still be in town, but I didn’t think you’d be on your feet after how much beer you drank last night.”

    “Don’t bother,” Matt warned. “I’ve already tried to get through to her. She just keeps drinking and it doesn’t even seem to affect her that much.”

    “I guess some of you have already met, then,” Rowena narrated. “But for formal introductions, Matt, Nekou, Bunny, Olivia, allow me to introduce you to Woods, my source. Woods, these four are travelers who seek truth. They’re going to help me on my report on Everton.”

    “I see,” Woods said as he sat down at the table. “I’ll be of whatever help I can be. You see, I used to work for Everton International a long time ago. I have no idea how things are now but I was there for many years.”

    “What can you tell us about what Everton actually is after?”

    “Matt, was it? Matt, I’m sorry, but all I can offer is that it involves Victini somehow.”

    “Isn’t Victini just a legend?” both Matt and Nekou said simultaneously, prompting a coordinated gasp from both of them.

    “No. Victini may be written in the folklore of this city, but it is real. Victini is very real. I have seen it with my own eyes. Now, this is just a hypothesis, but I think he may be planning to use Victini’s Victory Star to discover untapped sources of oil, so that the world does not run out. He may have shady methods but he really means well, I think.”

    “I see.” Matt did not change his contemplative pose. “What is the Victory Star exactly?”

    “And how exactly does it work?” Nekou added. “The boat docked before you really had a chance to tell me the details!”

    “I’ll answer both of you. The Victory Star is the tale behind Victini’s legendary reputation in the first place. It is the power to see the path to any one single victory, granted by special fire flowing into the chosen bearer’s body. However, it requires a contract to be made with Victini in order for the power to be obtained. What that contract entails, what its conditions are, I don’t know. What I do know is that the Victory Star will only work for the victory desired when the contract is made. As I described, it shows the path to a single desired victory, so if Everton could obtain its power, he could search for new oil fields with no challenges whatsoever. That’s a goal I could get behind.”

    “So Everton is not a bad guy?” Olivia wondered, fading into the conversation.

    “We don’t know yet,” Rowena clarified. “He may be, or he may not be. We just can’t say yet. What we do know is that he has been acting extremely suspiciously, and that has to be investigated.”

    “Rowena, what should we do now?”

    “Bunny, for now, just go to the festival and have a good time. I’ll be in touch if I learn anything.”

    Olivia suddenly realized something and stared back at Woods. “Mr. Woods, you said you’ve seen Victini, didn’t you? Would you be able to take us to see Victini?”

    “I can’t make any promises, little girl. Come by my home later and we can discuss it. I live out on the shores of the marshland on the other side of town. I can’t promise that I can bring you to Victini, but I do have an idea where it might be.”

    “Awesome! Thanks!”

    “Oh, Matt…” Rowena had clearly remembered something, and from the sudden redoubling of her seriousness, it was important. “If you see any pink clouds, stay away from them.”

    “Pink clouds? What are you talking about?”

    “There’s a strange sickness going around in Pokémon in the city right now. Several people I’ve spoken to have reported seeing strange pink clouds appear, and when their Pokémon were exposed to the substance, they fell into a trance-like state. Everton has tried to quarantine the areas of the city where the outbreaks are.”

    “I guess we’ll watch out for them, then. Thanks for the warning.”

    -:-

    Shortly after that, the group split from Rowena, who went off to do some more investigating elsewhere, and Woods, who returned to his marshland home. As the festival was taking place in the same area as where their inn was located, the foursome went back there.

    Even in the relatively short time they were gone, the activity level in the streets had increased greatly. People were everywhere, crowding around colorful floats, street performers, shops and other varied forms of entertainment. All the colors rising up from the festive settings casted a fascinating contrast against the gray, cloudy sky that day.

    “Ohhh! Look at it all!” With wide, excited eyes, Olivia looked around at all the things surrounding her. She could see a float with two Bellossom dancing alongside two Lilligant, a Grass-type with the appearance of a young woman wearing a green skirt and a giant, crown-topped flower in her hair. “Over here! Let’s go!”

    Olivia rushed off into the crowd, leaving Matt, Nekou and Bunny to pursue her. Their shoes loudly banged against the stones of the street while they pushed their way through in their attempts to follow Olivia, but it was hopeless, as the girl had built up far too much of a distance.

    Perhaps luckily for them though, something else diverted Olivia’s attention, and she never made it to the Bellossom and Lilligant float. They found her stopped at a merchandise cart on the street, one that was overflowing with colorful goods related to the festival.

    “Good morning, young lady,” the elderly man operating the cart said to Olivia. “Do you see anything you like?”

    He could have been addressing the question to any of the four, though, as Olivia was not the only one taken by all of the merchandise available to purchase. Dolls were piled high in the middle of the cart, while jewelry hung on racks attached to one side and fabric goods rested on the other. Matt, Bunny and Nekou all found themselves wanting something from the selection, especially Nekou.

    “I’ll take a Cresselia plushie, please!” Olivia decided after a moment of contemplation.

    “Could you add one of those Cresselia hair pins?” Bunny asked, pointing out a hair pin shaped like Cresselia’s head.

    “I’d like that Victini keychain for my bag,” Matt added.

    “Boy, I haven’t done this much business in a long time!” chuckled the old man as he gathered up the purchases ordered by his customers. “I owe you a lot of thanks!”

    Matt turned to Nekou out of reflex just then, and noticed her standing in tense silence with her fist clenched. “What’s wrong?” he asked, surprised by her mood.

    “I want a lot of this stuff, but I can’t have it.”

    “Of course you can. I’m not…” Matt stopped himself from talking when the true meaning of Nekou’s words came through on him. It wasn’t that anyone was telling her not to get the things she wanted, she couldn’t afford it. That was why she couldn’t have them. “I’m paying for everyone else’s, so why don’t I pay for yours too?”

    Immediately, Nekou blushed profusely and pulled away, but she answered, “Fine, if you want.”

    “It’s not a big deal. Just pick out what you want me to get you.”

    “I… I want one of those big Victini dolls, first… then this blanket…”

    After the oversized Victini plush, Nekou pointed out a long, thick blue blanket that had purple-and-black bands just before its ragged ends. The cart’s owner smiled as he put it in the huge plastic bag all the merchandise they were purchasing was going into.

    “That’s a good choice,” he said. “It’s based on ancestral designs of the people who first settled this city.”

    “It looks comfortable, that’s all that’s important right now,” Nekou countered, though she was interested in the idea of the blanket being a cultural design. “I want that phone charm too,” she added while pointing to a charm of Victini flashing its victory symbol. “And… I want that necklace! That one right there!”

    The necklace in question was one of an eight-pointed star, constructed by two overlaying four-point stars, on a long brown string. In the star the four diagonal points were laid on top of the four straight points, and the two upper diagonal sections along with the middle were colored red to create a ‘V’ shape. Meanwhile, the lower diagonal portions were light blue, while the four straight sections were dark purple.

    “You like that necklace? Let me tell you, that thing is the Victory Star.”

    “So that’s what the Victory Star looks like?” Bunny questioned.

    “Indeed,” the man said with a nod. “An eight-pointed star that guides its owner to victory. Finding victory is such an important power that sailing compasses were designed based on the Victory Star thousands of years ago.”

    “The eight directions, right?” Olivia ventured, albeit stating the obvious.

    “Exactly. I’ll tell you what, you four have been more than generous as customers, so I’ll throw in the necklace for free.”

    “Thank you!” Nekou exclaimed, grabbing for the necklace without a hesitation. She immediately put it on and held the Victory Star on the necklace in her hands for a moment before letting it fall into the upper part of her cleavage.

    “Wow, you really love that thing, don’t you?”

    Once again, Nekou recoiled from Matt. “It’s mine! Hands off!”

    “I don’t want it. Don’t worry.” Turning around to the old man running the cart, Matt handed off five paper bills as payment for the large assortment of goods his group had purchased. In response the elderly salesman smiled as he handed over their bag.

    “Thank you for your business. Have a nice day, all of you.”

    “You too.” Though she was smiling, Bunny stopped in a moment of realization. A logical question she should have asked sooner had just come into mind. “But what are we going to do with all of this stuff now?”

    She was surprised to see Matt smile immediately in response to her question. “I already know exactly what to do. Hethna, make your mark!”

    Matt threw the Poké Ball into the air, and his Golurk appeared from the light that burst out. While Hethna raised its arms and let out a low rumble of a cry, Matt put the ball away and held up the bag.

    “Hethna, come here please. Lean down.”

    “Goluh.” Hethna followed the instruction and leaned forward. The stones of the street cracked slightly under the shifting of its immense weight.

    “Thank you.” After hooking the bag over the jagged offshoot emerging from Hethna’s shoulder, Matt said to it, “Fly to New Bark Town and drop that off at the spa we’ll be staying at. Remember I told you about that? Please, take it there.”

    “Golurgh!” Affirming its mission with a slight nod, Hethna retracted its hands into its arms and legs into its body to create three rockets, which it used to power itself off into the sky.

    Staring upward at where Hethna had gone, Olivia skipped a beat and then said, “I love that thing.”

    “You know, I agree with you,” Nekou concurred. “A golem that can fly like a super robot? It’s almost too awesome to be serve the person it does.”

    “Shut up.”

    Nekou shrugged in response to Matt. “What? I said almost.”

    “You know what? This day is too exciting for me to let myself get worked up because of your pot stirring. Let’s go find something else to do.”

    Combining their efforts, the four scanned the area for something else that struck their fancy as an activity. The search wasn’t easy, partially owing to how many people there were around but also partially due to how far apart the various attractions were.

    It was Bunny who finally spotted something. “Hey, look over there! That looks fun!”

    It was a wide plastic pool that she was pointing at. Pictures of a small, white fish Pokémon covered the pool’s sides, while larger, dark-blue eel Pokémon wrapped around the perimeter in a straight line. Rental fishing poles were lined up for the players of the game to use.

    “Excuse me, what’s going on here?” Matt asked of the young man running the attraction as he led his group to it.

    “This is the Tynamo Fishing game,” he explained while nervously adjusting his suspenders. “You rent a fishing pole, then try to reel in a Tynamo so you can battle and capture it. There are even a couple of Eelektrik, Tynamo’s evolved form, in there. Want to give it a try?”

    “Of course I do!” Olivia declared, pushing herself to the forefront. “I love the water!”

    “They’re Electric types,” Nekou gently informed Olivia, “not Water. They just live in the water.”

    “Oh. Well, it doesn’t matter.” After being handed a fishing rod, the girl immediately threw the line into the pool. “My dad loved to go out and fish from his boat. He’d go out on the ocean near Hoenn all the time and…”

    Matt was relieved for multiple reasons when Olivia’s rambling was interrupted by a tug on her line. He wasn’t just glad that she was succeeding. He also did not want to talk about Rich, and if Olivia continued telling of her fond memories, questions he was not ready to answer would inevitably be asked.

    One of the tiny white Pokémon emerged when Olivia pulled up her line. “Tynaaaaaaaa!” he cried as he floated in midair like he was swimming.

    “So that’s a Tynamo! You’re kind of cute, so let’s go at it! Minccino, let’s play!” Once Minccino was sent out, Olivia wasted no time in calling out, “Tail Slap!”

    In its typical hyperactive nature, Minccino rushed Tynamo at high speed, jumped up and spun around, hitting the Electric-type a total of four times with her tail. Tynamo suffered immediate and critical damage, and as a result, he fainted and was knocked back into the water.

    “Aww!” Olivia sighed in disgust. “I really wanted to capture that Tynamo!”

    Suddenly, Matt appeared next to her, also holding a fishing rod. “Now let me show you how it’s really done.”

    “Are they gonna throw down in a fishing argument?” Nekou was utterly titillated by the developing fight she saw coming. “I wish I had a drink to watch this with.”

    “I hope Matt doesn’t overdo this…” Bunny worried.

    At the sideline of the fishing pool, Matt dramatically turned from the crowd, faced the pool, and cast his line. He did not say anything while his bait was in the water, but he could feel the eyes of not just the crowd but those of Nekou, Bunny and especially Olivia watching him.

    When he felt the pull on his line, he immediately pulled back. One of his first thoughts was how heavy the Pokémon felt for a Tynamo, but indeed, it wasn’t a Tynamo at all. She was one of the Eelektrik, the eel that was evolved form of Tynamo with a cream-colored stomach and fins.

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  9. #9
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    “We have a winner, folks!” the game’s operator thundered over a loudspeaker. “Everyone look right now! He’s going to fight one of the rare Eelektrik!”

    In an instant, the other players in the game pulled up their lines and surrounded Matt, who was facing off against the wild Eelektrik with an Ultra Ball in his hand.

    “You ought to make for some good training, so let’s see what I’ll get out of this. Subzero, make your mark!”

    Matt threw the Ultra Ball upward, sending out a white bear cub Pokémon with a large mucus drip falling from its nose. This Cubchoo, nicknamed Subzero, growled at his opponent while simultaneously trying to sniff the drop back up.

    “Start this off with Ice Beam!”

    Subzero sneezed, pushing forth a concentrated stream of ice in the direction of Eelektrik. The water-dwelling Electric-type sprang into the air to dodge, but still got clipped across the back end of her tail, causing her to crash back down to the ground.

    “Eeeelek!” Staring right back at Subzero, Eelektrik opened her mouth and shot two bursts of green acid out.

    When this Acid Spray attack made contact with Subzero’s skin, he began to wail in pain as the liquid burned him. His endurance withered because of the harsh effects the Acid Spray had, reflected in the burns left on his body.

    “Try Ice Beam again!” Matt did his best to sound encouraging so Subzero wouldn’t be fearful, but he had significant doubts after seeing the unexpected extent of Acid Spray.

    With his body weakened, Subzero could only muster up an Ice Beam of about half the strength of the first one. Eelektrik was able to neutralize it with a Thunderbolt, which she then followed with a second that sent high amounts of voltage coursing through Subzero’s body, making him scream.

    Matt had seen enough. He took the Ultra Ball that Subzero called home back out, intending clearly to call him back. “Subzero, you’ve done enough. Your body can’t handle much more of…”

    However, before Matt could do anything, Eelektrik cut across the battlefield at blinding speed to tackle Subzero. The Cubchoo was sent flying and crashed into a nearby wall, then he fell forward to the ground.

    “Subzero!”

    “Well that was disappointing,” Nekou mouthed off to no one in particular. “I thought he’d improved at least a little since yester…”

    Not only was Nekou’s snark cut off, but every single person watching the battle was left stunned when a bright light erupted around Subzero. He slowly stood back up, then looked to the sky and cried out. His height increased by roughly eight times as his once-tiny limbs became a pair of sturdy legs and a pair of powerful claws. The ever-present mucus drip disappeared, being replaced by a beard of icicles.

    “Ti beaaa!!” Subzero roared in a deep voice that echoed through the streets, his new body towering over Eelektrik and all humans present.

    “An evolution?” Bunny guessed.

    “Indeed, that is Beartic, Cubchoo’s evolution,” Nekou explained, losing her sarcasm for a moment. “Let’s see how this plays out, maybe he will create an interesting show for us…”

    “It’s already incredible!” Olivia couldn’t contain her excitement. “Subzero went from being adorable to being a badass! Go for it, Subzero!”

    Matt certainly didn’t mind the boost of confidence his friends’ compliments were giving him. “Now that you’ve got some real muscle to back it up, use Brick Break!”

    Dropping to all fours, Subzero made use of his newly strengthened body to rush Eelektrik. Before the Electric-type could react, he pulled up his right arm and slugged her right in the midsection, causing a great bruise from an impact that sent her into the air.

    “And so everything comes together, and the answer becomes clear,” Matt lowly said, taking an empty Poké Ball in his hand. “The target is Eelektrik! Go, Poké Ball!”

    Just as Eelektrik landed, she was struck by the Poké Ball, which opened and absorbed her in the form of red light. After dropping to the ground, the ball rocked back and forth for several seconds, before the red light on the ball’s button turned white and a pinging noise sounded.

    Without a word, Matt walked over to the now-sealed ball and picked it up. The eyepiece on his mask opened to reveal his mechanical left eye, with which he scanned the sphere.

    “A female Eelektrik… welcome to the team, Charlotte.”

    “Good job pulling that out,” Bunny complimented as the three women returned from the sidelines. “And well done to you too, Subzero.”

    “Bea, bea,” Subzero said in embarrassed gratification.

    “You weren’t kidding when you said you were going to show me how it was done, were you? I can see why I couldn’t catch Tynamo…”

    “Don’t beat yourself up, Olivia. I would have lost that fight if Subzero didn’t evolve.”

    “You know,” Nekou interrupted while smiling sneakily, “I just got why you named that Eelektrik Charlotte. You really had a good name in your head for her.”

    “What are you talking about?”

    “I’m sure the readers will figure it out quickly enough. They’re not stupid.”

    “The readers?” Judging by his facial expression, Matt was becoming even more lost, and he was beginning to think that Nekou was deliberately trying to confuse him. “Seriously, Nekou, have you totally lost it?”

    “The readers are watching everything you and I do, but fine, I won’t bother trying to explain it. I wasn’t disappointed in how you did just now, anyway. You might just have a shot at finding some of those truths you spoke of… that is, if you don’t get ahead of yourself.”

    Looking to abate the rising frustration and anger he felt, Matt took a deep breath. “Ordinarily I’d ask someone like you what was with all the head puns, but today I don’t think I want to know. It’s probably more suffering than it’s worth.”

    “Hey guys, look over there.”

    Olivia’s distraction helped to break up the bizarre dispute between Matt and Nekou, and for that, he was thankful. Nekou, on the other hand, was enjoying it, but she chose not to say anything. Regardless of that, what Olivia was pointing at was the elderly woman who lived on the marsh with her Gothitelle; the two of them were sitting on a street corner at a small stand with a sign reading “Fortune Telling” posted on it. She only had one customer at the present, who just happened to be Katorena.

    “Katorena!” Matt called out while he headed toward the stand with his group. “Imagine running into you here!”

    “Hmph, so it’s the ruffian again, is it?” Unlike the day before, when Katorena leveled insults, it was plain that she was doing it in good spirits now. “I cannot fathom what someone like yourself would see in such a thing as fortune telling.”

    “Not a thing actually. I don’t stomach supernatural stuff all that easily.”

    “That’s your loss then,” Katorena mocked, turning back to the table. “Psychic-types have a close link to the supernatural. Therefore, I am inclined to investigate such things.”

    “You’re quite the bold child, aren’t you?” ventured the old fortuneteller. “Very well, Gothitelle, examine her fate.”

    “Gothitelle.” The Pokémon repeated her own name as she raised her arms and stiffened her body.

    A blue glow appeared around both Gothitelle and Katorena, and between Gothitelle’s uplifted hands, a swirling cluster of energy that appeared to be a portal of some kind materialized. Inside the portal, a distant galaxy could be seen.

    “Ah, I see… Katorena, was it? Katorena, your present is clouded by doubt and your future is in question. You don’t know what road you are traveling right now, all you know is that your current path is constrained and you desperately want to change it. As for the future, whatever path you do decide to take will lead to trials for you. Whether you can overcome those trials will be up to your own will, but friends will be there to help you if you need it.”

    “Friends?”

    “Your friends will always be there for you…” The meaning of Katorena’s hesitation suddenly hit Matt, and he had to pause for a second. “You don’t know what friends are?”

    “What right have you to lecture me, plebian?!”

    “It’s fine. Friends are people you can count on to always have your back through anything. Humans are social creatures, we survive better in groups instead of alone.” Matt grasped the front of his hat and pulled it down slightly, creating a shadow that covered his eyes. “I know how it can feel when you don’t have anyone like that.”

    “Fine. But I don’t need your pity.”

    “What you do need is to stand aside,” Nekou rudely declared, “because if you two are going to circlejerk over friendship, it’s my turn to get my fortune read.”

    Nekou pushed Matt out of her way and sat down at the table, prompting the old fortuneteller to laugh. It was easy for her to tell that Nekou was suppressing a lot of her excitement and forcing herself to come off as calm.

    “I’m feeling a lot of spiritual energy coming off of you,” she uttered, smiling wryly. “It’s people like you who make what I do enjoyable.”

    “Well obviously. It’s not like I’m boring like certain people I know.” Nekou threw a slight glance over her shoulder at Matt as she said this. “Now what do I have to do?”

    “First, I will need to grasp your hands. This will help me establish a connection to your spiritual energy, which will make it easier for Gothitelle and I to see your future.”

    “Alright, let’s do this.”

    Nekou put both of her hands onto the table, and the fortuneteller took them up in her own. She held Nekou’s smooth skin with her aged and rough but firm grasp. She then shut her eyes and focused mentally, trying to connect her mind to Nekou’s.

    Though she succeeded after a relatively quick time, whatever she saw in Nekou’s mind horrified her. She broke her hold on Nekou’s hands and pulled away, gasping deeply for air.

    “What’s wrong?” Matt exclaimed, darting over to the table in his concern. “What happened?!”

    “That woman’s… your mind…” Gothitelle had to support her owner, who was so shaken from the mental link that she could barely move. “What… I couldn’t see it clearly, but… there was something horrible in there…”

    “In my mind?” Nekou was just as confused herself as to what was going on.

    “I’m… I’m sorry, please forgive me. I can’t complete this reading as it is right here. Here’s my card…” The old woman reached into her earthy-colored robes and produced an index card, which had a map drawn on it that pointed out the location of her home on the marshland. After handing it over to Nekou, she added, “Again, I’m sorry. Please come to my home later today and I will be more than happy to finish the reading for you.”

    “Uh… thanks, I guess.”

    With the card in hand, Nekou stood up and rejoined the group with Matt, coming to stand several feet away from the fortunetelling stand. There was a brief, awkward silence, showing how the turn of events had affected them.

    It was Bunny that finally spoke to break the uncomfortable situation. “You’re okay, right?” she asked of Nekou. “I can’t imagine what she saw in your mind that upset her so much.”

    “It’s not your problem,” Nekou replied, her voice showing a hint of irritation. “My mind is my absolute territory. If there was something in it that someone doesn’t like, too ****ing bad.”

    “Ordinarily I’d tell you to calm down,” commented Matt with a sigh, “but frankly, this time I can understand why you’re upset. I don’t blame you.”

    “That’s because you shouldn’t blame her!” Olivia’s sudden outburst startled all the others, except, of course, for Nekou. “She didn’t do anything wrong!”

    Matt opened his mouth to say something harsh to Olivia, even though what she’d said was correct. However, he never got the words out, as the sound of cheering floated over the air from down the street.

    “I wonder what all that’s about?” he wondered. “Let’s go check it out. Katorena, you’re free to come along.”

    “The likes of myself should not be associating with plebian scoundrels like you people. That said, I am more than willing to gift you with my presence for a while.”

    “You’re not that important,” Nekou deadpanned to insult Katorena.

    “Well maybe so, but I’m still above people like you lot!”

    “Shut up, both of you!” Matt angrily snapped. He was absolutely not in the mood to deal with an argument. “Just come along and let’s go check out what’s going on over there.”

    A crowd had gathered at the corner of one block nearby, leaving Matt and the group to push their way through.

    Once they reached the front of the crowd, they could see what was going on. Butler and Diane were there, conducting the show they had mentioned the day before. Their current performance involved a hulking, brown Pokémon with the appearance of a troll from mythology. He was juggling a pair of huge concrete blocks using his heavily muscular arms along with his body, which had purple veins popping out of it.

    “And there you have it!” Butler shouted with a theatrical flair as he gestured with his wand at the Pokémon. “Ladies and gentlemen, the incredible strength of Conkeldurr!”

    Conkeldurr stopped juggling the blocks and leaned on them like canes while he grunted graciously to the crowd, who were giving him a sizeable amount of applause. It was then that Diane spotted Matt, Katorena and the others in the front of the crowd and informed Butler quietly of their presence.

    “Now, ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to invite a couple of very talented people on to perform a trick with us. I met these two yesterday and was completely impressed by how well they showed off. So, I’d like to extend a welcome to Matt and Katorena! Come on out!”

    After hesitating for a brief moment, Matt and Katorena emerged from the crowd to join Butler and Diane inside their show. They were given a rather healthy amount of applause upon their entrance.

    “Thank you for your kindness, everyone. I think what we’ll show you next will be a very simple card trick that will pit minds against minds.”

    “Send out your Sigilyph and Beheeyem,” Diane whispered to Matt and Katorena as a bit of stage guidance.

    “Very well, if that’s what you want. Ayingott, make your mark!”

    “Hmph, fine. Beheeyem, I call you forth!”

    Matt’s Sigilyph, Ayingott, was joined by Katorena’s Beheeyem as she came out of her Poké Ball. Once they were out, Butler released a Gardevoir of his own.

    “What we are about to do is see if one brain can thwart two,” the magician explained to the audience. “As you can see, Gardevoir is being blindfolded…” Diane took the appropriate action during this description, while Butler took a deck of playing cards from his suit. “This is a standard deck of playing cards. Sigilyph and Beheeyem will mix the cards up to an impossible degree, and we will see if their combined psychic power is enough to beat Gardevoir’s!”

    Once he was done setting the trick up, Butler threw the entire deck of cards into the air. The fifty-two cards broke apart and scattered.

    “Ayingott, use Psychic!”

    “You use Psychic too, Beheeyem!”

    Ayingott and Beheeyem simultaneously used their mental power to take hold of the cloud of playing cards while it was still in midair, with the former’s eyes glowing and the latter’s fingers flashing. They mixed it up, spun the cards around each other, and repeatedly shuffled the group at incredible speed. Finally, they lowered the cards to the ground, making sure that all of them were face down.

    “Excellent work, my friends!” Butler complimented. “Gardevoir, it’s your turn now. Teleport!”

    Even thought she was still blindfolded, Gardevoir used her power to make a single card disappear off the ground. Butler then approached a young boy who was watching from the head of the crowd and leaned down to see eye-to-eye with him.

    “I can see you’ve been enjoying the show, little guy. How do you feel about being a part of it? Tell me, what card do you think Gardevoir teleported?”

    “I…I…” clearly, the boy was nervous and had never expected to have Butler approach him. “I guess… the three… of hearts?”

    “Let’s see if you’re right.” Rising up to his full height, Butler flicked his wrist, producing the teleported card from his sleeve.

    He lifted it up and then turned it, revealing that it was, indeed, the three of hearts, which prompted an outburst of cheering from the crowd. As a reward for correctly guessing, Butler gave the boy the card, without mentioning that he couldn’t have lost with how the trick was set up.

    “So yes, it is true! One brain can beat two, but we mustn’t undercut the accomplishment of our young participant, so make sure he gets a hand too! And a hand, again, for Matt, Katorena, Sigilyph and Beheeyem, all very generous in the time they took to perform for you today!”

    “Thank you!” Matt called to the crowd, waving to them amidst the applause he was getting. Katorena, on the other hand, remained silent.

    After a few seconds of acknowledging the applause, Matt and Katorena recalled their Pokémon and rejoined Nekou, Olivia and Bunny, and then the larger group pushed back out of the crowd.

    “You know,” Nekou said just as they got out of the crowd, who remained enraptured as Butler continued his show, “I already figured out how he did that trick.”

    “Don’t ruin it.” Matt was swift in stopping her. “It was a fun thing to do, so I don’t want to know.”

    “I do,” Olivia chimed in, much to Matt’s annoyance.

    “I’ll tell you later then, because Matt wants to be an *** about it.”

    “Come on, Nekou, can’t you watch your mouth around her?” he complained, worried of the possibility that Olivia would learn from Nekou as she already seemed to be. “She’s going to start picking up that kind of language!”

    “I’ll say what I want, when I want, where I want and to who I want. If you have a problem with that, **** you. I don’t get stepped on by anyone.”

    “Ah yes, that is a good moral to live your life by. I must say, it’s quite admirable.”

    Standing in the street in front of the group, his right hand in his pocket, was Liam Everton, with his Klinklang and Cryogonal floating behind him.

    -:-

    Victini had slipped out into the city, so for the time being, Cresselia was resting. The light from her body illuminated the dark underground chamber where she was.

    Suddenly, something she sensed caused her to snap to attention. She lowered her head and growled angrily, then disappeared.

    -:-

    “You…” Bunny gasped. “Aren’t you…?”

    “Yes. Please allow me to formally introduce myself. I am Captain Liam Everton.” Wearing a smile he worked hard to maintain, Everton extended his hand to Matt and got a handshake out of it. “A good, firm handshake. That’s a necessity for a businessman, so I have to say I respect that. It’s good that we’ve finally met.”

    “I agree, but…” Something about this situation was making Matt uncomfortable, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. “Don’t you have a lot to do? I guess I’m just surprised to see you here.”

    “I can’t say I blame you for thinking that,” Everton said with a sarcastic chuckle. “Being an executive on the world stage does bury you in paperwork. I’m just taking some time off to enjoy my city during its most exciting time.”

    While the adults conversed, Olivia was busy examining Everton’s two Pokémon. She had already looked over Klinklang and was now right on top of Cryogonal, studying it with fanatical zeal. Both Pokémon were reacting with embarrassed appreciation of the attention.

    “Your Pokémon are really cool, Captain! They look really strong too!”

    “Thank you, young lady. They have been my partners for over thirty-five years now. So might I ask, why are you still here now that your speech is over?” Obviously, Everton’s question was directed at Matt.

    “Well, Olivia wanted to see the festival and the Pokémon Bowl. She’s my adoptive daughter and my most loyal student, so I really can’t say no to her.”

    “You wouldn’t say no to me either.”

    “Nekou, not now, please… so yeah, we’re kind of just taking part in everything that’s happening in the city right now.”

    “I must say, then,” Everton ventured, “that it is quite a surprise to see Bunny Spruce with you instead of out in the field working.”

    “You know of me?” Bunny asked, surprised that a high-powered executive of a multinational conglomerate would know her.

    “Of course. The young woman who stood up against Jacob Alexison and protected the history of the world… it’s likely I’d have heard of you, after all.”

    Bunny was flattered by Everton’s compliment, but before she could thank him, an explosion could be heard from not far away.

    “What was that?” Matt exclaimed, turning back in the blast’s direction.

    He did not have to wait long for an answer. Darkrai suddenly surged into the wide street that Matt’s group had been enjoying festivities on, preceded slightly by the screaming of people trying to escape from it. The Dark-type monster scanned the avenue for targets, only to spot Matt and Everton.

    Seeing Matt caused Darkrai to pause for what appeared to be no reason. However, when Everton started to reach into his coat for the button to control its collar outside of everyone else’s sight, Darkrai submitted and started to charge up a Dark Pulse.

    “It’s going to attack!” screamed Nekou. “Don’t ****ing wait, do something!”

    “You can help!” Matt countered. “But for now, let’s see how Tanya fares…”

    “Stop! You can’t fight it, it’s too strong!” Everton’s interruption caused Matt to put away the Dusk Ball in his hand.

    “Then what…?”

    Before a conclusion could be reached, Darkrai prepared to launch its Dark Pulse. However, right before it could, a blue energy orb shot out of nowhere and blindsided it.

    An Aura Sphere attack.

    The explosion from the Aura Sphere striking Darkrai created smoke that was dispelled relatively quickly, if not at least in part because of Darkrai shaking itself around.

    “Creeeeeelehhh!”

    Prompted by the shrill cry that echoed through the air, the people in the street, Matt, Nekou, Olivia, Bunny and Katorena included, all looked upward. Before the eyes of the people of Whitegold City, the battle from a generation ago came alive again.

    Cresselia and Darkrai, the two fated by legend to be bitter rivals who would fight to the death, met again.

    All the citizens could do was stare upward in collective shock. A whole generation of Whitegold City’s people were raised with the story of Darkrai and Cresselia as just that, a fairy tale, while tourists had long come to the city under the same assumption. Yet there they were, the living embodiments of peaceful sleep and nightmares, shooting each other death glares in the air over the buildings just like the legends all said.

    Dispensing with the attempt to intimidate her opponent, Cresselia gathered up her strength to form another Aura Sphere. Darkrai responded by shooting bolts of electricity from its hands to shoot the energy orb down.

    Darkrai’s Thunder did more than cut down Cresselia’s Aura Sphere, however. The arcs of lightning crashed down all over the street, sending the partiers running for cover while screaming in fear. One part of it even struck near Matt’s group and Everton enough to knock them down.

    “Matt, what’s going on?!” Olivia whimpered, crunching up close to Nekou for protection. “Why are they fighting?”

    “The legend…” he gasped, as it was the only answer he could manage. “It was true after all…”

    “Yes, this is President,” Everton was saying with his right hand on his ear to activate his communicator. “Activate security measure D-10. I repeat, put security measure D-10 into immediate effect.”

    Almost instantly, every television screen in Whitegold City was forcibly overridden to display Midori Makise’s news broadcast, in a testament to how efficient Everton’s emergency management mechanisms were. A red ticker with the words “Emergency Alert” in yellow font stretched across the bottom of the screen.

    “Attention, Whitegold City. An emergency has developed in the city, and for your safety, security measure D-10 has been activated. As per this security measure, all citizens and tourists currently within Whitegold City are hereby ordered to evacuate to the Whitegold Dome sports complex. Please remember to have your identification pass at all times. We at Everton International pledge to ensure your safety through this crisis. Thank you.”

    A strange, awkward sense of silence washed over the entire street. It was impossible to perceive just what the people felt, but once the collective realization of the situation reached them, the crowds started pouring down the streets in a measured but palpable panic.

    “What should we do?” Bunny asked her companions, her voice wavering. “I’m scared…”

    “Obviously, follow what will lead you to safety!” Nekou thundered. “There’s no need to get in harm’s way!”

    “We can fight back, you foolish harlot!” Katorena interjected in defiance. “They are only Pokémon!”

    “Stop it, both of you!” Matt’s decisive command was actually able to shut both Nekou and Katorena up for once. “We’re getting out of here. I’m not interested in finding trouble right now. We’ll re-evaluate our options later!”

    Everton, meanwhile, stood by as Matt and his group faded into the crowd of people evacuating to the Whitegold Dome. He watched them carefully for as long as he could see Matt’s white suit, then stared up into the sky at Darkrai and Cresselia fighting with his monocle glowing.

    Satisfied with how things were progressing, Everton struck a wicked smirk.




    END of CHAPTER 1

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  10. #10
    Join Date
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    You know what? I think that I'm going to be very blunt with how I say this: I ****ing hate Polaris. I really ****ing hate that group and people who have similar "ideals". According to said groups, people who have prosthetics to replace missing limbs (such as disabled military members, children born with defects, victims of traumatic events, etc.) would be targeted. People who try to improve their quality of life would be targeted. You know, I've seen a lot of horrible villains in fics who have done very horrible things, but this...this is probably the one group I've seen in a fic whose deaths I'd laugh at. I've never felt so strongly about a villain in a fic. Never. Mass kudos to you.

    Nekou's hiding something, and I think it's something really awful. In my opinion, it has something to do with her fear of photographs. I mean, there's not that many people who are genuinely afraid of having their photograph taken - and every phobia has to grow from some experience. On an unrelated topic about Nekou, nice mention of the fourth wall.

    The extremely posh girl (Katorena, right?) is a very funny character to watch. I found myself grinning at her personality from the start, and in a way, I almost feel sorry for her. She really hasn't had many true friends, has she?

    Everton is an interesting character. His goals themselves aren't evil, but his methods are very cruel. I really wonder if he and Clay have met; their reliance on oil is remarkably similar.

    You know, I don't get the Charlotte reference at all. It's most likely me being very out-of-tune when it comes to pop-culture or something along those lines (the closest thing I can think of is Charlotte's Web), so don't worry about it.

    There's a problem with double-posting the same chapter, but that's just a glitch. I didn't really see any problems with the story itself. There's some parts where the scene can get a little dull (although all of that happens during the revelations about the company that Everton runs; I'm just not a financial/business sort of guy), but the pacing is sound, and I didn't see the dull scenes get dragged on for too long.

    Altogether, I have to say that I'm impressed. It looks like you've crafted yet another masterpiece; Picasso and Van Gogh would be envious.

    Sincerely,

    Mem.
    Last edited by SilentMemento; 20th November 2011 at 7:07 PM.
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    A Time for Everything - Kalos has lived peacefully for far too long, following the ideals of the corrupt. It's time to change that... An AU of X/Y.

  11. #11

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    Okay I love this chapter.

    First of all:
    PERSIAN PERSIAN PERSIAN PERSIAN PERSIAN. Persian was an adorable kitty and his behavior towards the secretary was very believable. You did an excellent job making Giovanni sympathetic and human while still keeping him in character, and you expressed the secretary's character fairly well too. Great work on that scene.

    Nekou was a huge badass in this chapter, and the scene on the gambling boat was amazing and made me cheer. Her interactions with the fortuneteller were suitably mysterious and she's just adorable as always and I can't wait to see what you have in store for her next. I love that she happily gambles, drinks, and in general, behaves badly, while being in total control of her life.

    I feel like you're really making Olivia a very complex character, which is great- there aren't enough teenage female characters written as complex and with as much personality as her.

    The press conference scene- FANTASTIC. The way it seemed like a normal press conference, with occasional interruption from Nekou and Olivia's pranks (which was hilarious btw), and then... Matt is hit with incredible bigotry, was amazing and perfectly timed, and I think it reflected real world issues faced by those with differences like Matt who must deal with such things on a regular basis. Nekou's takedown of the Polaris members was incredibly badass as well and I love how she just beat them down to defend Matt.

    It was a pleasant surprise seeing Diane and Butler show up, and I feel like your inclusion of them in your story was a really fitting one, since they would perform at festivals like the one in Whitegold City. Excellent characterization on both of them.

    Katorena's characterization and dialogue was great and gave her a lot of personality, and it looks like she may be shaping up to be a rival for Olivia. I'm really going to enjoy seeing what happens next with her.

    Rowena is great and I'm glad you included her in this story. I love how realistic she is as a reporter and how she works hard to get the full story while still admitting her mistakes.

    The scenes of Victini and Cresselia in the woods were adorable and I squealed from cute the whole way through them.

    Finally, Everton- wow. You have made a great villain, one that no one could ever ever side with. He's clearly up to no good, and he keeps doing more and more reprehensible things. He's also terrifying, the way he abuses Darkrai and threatens him without a second thought, and the fact he seems confident he'll succeed. I felt terrible for Darkrai, seeing him chained up, seeing him forced to hurt the Seismitoad family.

    Your battles in this chapter were all excellently written and plotted out, and all the dialogue felt really natural. You did a fantastic job explaining backstory that was easy and fun to read, as well as believable.

    Keep up the good work!

    "Poe was the first writer to write about main characters who were bad guys or who were mad guys, and those are some of my favorite stories."
    -Stephen King

    I write odd slice of life stories about Team Rocket. If that's your thing, give them a look:

    Alpha Male- behind every friendship is a story. Perspective contest fourth place winner.
    Secretary- A short and cynical tale of paperwork and sadism
    Survival- A novella about the unbreakable bonds between one man and his feline friend. 2011 Pokemon Big Bang story.


  12. #12
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    Oh dear over Darkrai being restrained. I’m wondering as to why Darkrai didn’t attack the moment it opened its eyes, but I guess the Pokemon wasn’t aware of its surroundings fully yet.

    Okay, why do I find Nekou behind distracted over the leaves cute, LOL. Over the battle, something I want to point out:

    With the two trios of Pokémon staring each other down between the gazes of their trainers, and Nekou, Olivia, Bunny and many other people and Pokémon in the park looking on, the battle began.
    Olivia, Bunny and Nekou were not the only ones watching the battle, and Minccino, Marie and Zorua weren’t the only Pokémon. Numerous trainers sat and stood in the area surrounding the battlefield, accompanied by a wide assortment of Pokémon including Druddigon, Weavile, Empoleon, Metagross, Walrein, Glalie, Froslass, Absol, Dusclops, Torkoal, Aggron, Porygon2, Stantler, Heracross, Slowking, Lapras, Cloyster, Vanilluxe and Carracosta.
    The second part you don’t really need as you already mentioned other people and Pokemon watching the battle from the first quote (and you later reference that once more after the battle is over).

    The battle itself is nicely done for Triple Battle and I think you did fine executing the attacks. It’s also great Matt feels some gratitude for once. Also Katorena sounds like an interesting character there. As for the ending of that part, YAY BUTLER AND DIANE!

    Wee, I already spotted Rowena with her Cinccino. Also, is it just me, or does Liam like saying “The pieces are now beginning to move on the board”? XD He said something similar on the scene with Darkrai. I just thought I would mention this repetition, heh.

    I really quite like your take on Giovanni and the details mentioned over his lifestyle. And yay Stacia being featured. I have a feeling Giovanni is right that something sinister where Matt is will happen soon…

    Feel bad for Matt when Olivia and Nekou were asking silly questions after his speech, haha. Quite unexpected Polaris came, though. Yay for Nekou saving Matt in style. Lastly, Giovanni is indeed correct in guessing with his gut feeling.

    The scene with Victini and Cresselia, all I’m going to say is D’AWWWWWWW.

    Aw, Bunny is so sweet being supportive of Matt. :3 Also Roy’s Becket’s journal looks very interesting with the info on Victini and Reshiram. Love the “Oh Victory Star, shine the light on the path I must take to my dreams” line from that journal very much. After that where Olivia said she wanted to find out where her father is is quite intense. Over the next part, LOL drunk Nekou gambling, very amusing. Beat Woods’ butt, Nekou! :P

    *reads further* And yay for Nekou beating Woods at Blackjack! I laughed out loud when after Nekou was able to drink beer and eat hot wings Olivia said she’s her hero. XD Nice interaction with Rowena and Woods with the gang there.

    Very sweet of Matt to buy the stuff for the girls, but I knew Nekou would take advantage of that. :P For the Elektrik game, at first I was all “oh noes! D:” when Subzero got hurt, but then once he evolved I cheered. XD Haha Nekou’s fourth the wall breaking. Yeah, the readers will figure things out soon. As for the fortune telling part, hm now curious what was the big deal with Nekou there.

    Finally Liam met with Matt and the group. I have to say, totally didn’t expect him to mention the reference from Nothing, Everything. Makes me feel bad I’m not writing much Pokemon fic anymore, haha. Of course, you guessed already that I'm already very interested in Liam and his role as the villian. Like the battle between Cresselia and Darkrai getting started, but I want to point out another repetition:

    Prompted by the shrill cry that echoed through the air, the people in the street, Matt, Nekou, Olivia, Bunny and Katorena included, all looked upward. Before the eyes of the people of Whitegold City, the battle from a generation ago came alive again.

    Cresselia and Darkrai, the two fated by legend to be bitter rivals who would fight to the death, met again.
    The two paragraphs are a bit repetitive as you mentioned Cresselia and Darkrai going to battle twice. I think a bit of revision is needed, but I’m unsure how you should go about that at the moment.

    Besides some repetition I pointed out, one other thing is I actually feel this chapter could be easily broken down into two chapters. There is a whole bunch of stuff going on and it’s a lot to go through if trying to read the chapter in one sitting. This is probably just me, though. Despite a couple shortcomings, really love the chapter loads nonetheless. Can't wait for the next chapter!


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  13. #13
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    Great Chapter and Fantastic story I love your villian. well done for that

    With the two trios of pokemon staring each other down between the gazes of their trainers, and Nekou, Olivia, Bunny and many other people and Pokémon in the park looking on, the battle began.
    Olivia, Bunny and Nekou were not the only ones watching the battle, and Minccino, Marie and Zorua weren’t the only Pokémon. Numerous trainers sat and stood in the area surrounding the battlefield, accompanied by a wide assortment of Pokémon including Druddigon, Weavile, Empoleon, Metagross, Walrein, Glalie, Froslass, Absol, Dusclops, Torkoal, Aggron, Porygon2, Stantler, Heracross, Slowking, Lapras, Cloyster, Vanilluxe and Carracosta. illians
    like Bay said you dont really need the second part because you have already said other are watching the battle from the 1st quote

    btw this is my 1st review so hope you like it, I should get better soon
    I am back again, and now made a new fic called The Pokemon Threat, it will have crossbreeds and mutated Pokemon in it, hopefully it will be my best, but am not sure, reviews would be VERY welcome.

  14. #14
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    Looks like I've got a lot to reply to! Before I get started, though, I'd like to share this:

    Here is the link to the "soundtrack" playlist for this story. It's complete from beginning to end, so give it a listen.

    Anyway...

    Quote Originally Posted by SilentMemento
    You know what? I think that I'm going to be very blunt with how I say this: I ****ing hate Polaris. I really ****ing hate that group and people who have similar "ideals". According to said groups, people who have prosthetics to replace missing limbs (such as disabled military members, children born with defects, victims of traumatic events, etc.) would be targeted. People who try to improve their quality of life would be targeted. You know, I've seen a lot of horrible villains in fics who have done very horrible things, but this...this is probably the one group I've seen in a fic whose deaths I'd laugh at. I've never felt so strongly about a villain in a fic. Never. Mass kudos to you.
    That's good. You may need to be directing your hate at Liam Everton for now, but soon enough, what you feel towards Polaris will be more than justified.

    It is worth noting, however, that they are opposed to non-biological means of modifying the body, which you seem to have picked up on. If the deformity or injury was repaired using biological means of any kind, for example stem-cell therapy, then they wouldn't care.

    Nekou's hiding something, and I think it's something really awful. In my opinion, it has something to do with her fear of photographs. I mean, there's not that many people who are genuinely afraid of having their photograph taken - and every phobia has to grow from some experience. On an unrelated topic about Nekou, nice mention of the fourth wall.
    I'd say you're barking up the right tree.

    The extremely posh girl (Katorena, right?) is a very funny character to watch. I found myself grinning at her personality from the start, and in a way, I almost feel sorry for her. She really hasn't had many true friends, has she?
    Continue to pay attention to her character. You're right, she's had a rather lonely life, perhaps best described as isolated. Pay close attention to her and you may make a startling discovery.

    Everton is an interesting character. His goals themselves aren't evil, but his methods are very cruel. I really wonder if he and Clay have met; their reliance on oil is remarkably similar.
    Oh, you'll be coming back to this statement and rethinking it, trust me.

    For the record, he probably has made business deals with Clay in the past, but that's not really important to the plot.

    You know, I don't get the Charlotte reference at all. It's most likely me being very out-of-tune when it comes to pop-culture or something along those lines (the closest thing I can think of is Charlotte's Web), so don't worry about it.
    It's a reference to the anime series Puella Magi Madoka Magica, in which there is a serpentine, toothy character named Charlotte. Because of that, it felt like a good name for an Eelektrik.

    There's a problem with double-posting the same chapter, but that's just a glitch. I didn't really see any problems with the story itself. There's some parts where the scene can get a little dull (although all of that happens during the revelations about the company that Everton runs; I'm just not a financial/business sort of guy), but the pacing is sound, and I didn't see the dull scenes get dragged on for too long.

    Altogether, I have to say that I'm impressed. It looks like you've crafted yet another masterpiece; Picasso and Van Gogh would be envious.

    Sincerely,

    Mem.
    The business stuff is relevant to the plot, so I think once you see more you'll understand.

    Thanks! Those are certainly some very kind words!

    Quote Originally Posted by rokettololi
    PERSIAN PERSIAN PERSIAN PERSIAN PERSIAN. Persian was an adorable kitty and his behavior towards the secretary was very believable. You did an excellent job making Giovanni sympathetic and human while still keeping him in character, and you expressed the secretary's character fairly well too. Great work on that scene.
    I'm glad you liked how that came off. It was very important for me to keep canon characters better in line after the debacle with Silver last time, and I'm very encouraged that it seems to be working out correctly.

    Giovanni, Persian and Stacia make a great trio of characters that play well off each other.

    I feel like you're really making Olivia a very complex character, which is great- there aren't enough teenage female characters written as complex and with as much personality as her.
    There's another important thing I wanted to accomplish. I don't see too many characters her age, of either gender really, who have complex personalities and motivations. Usually they just embody the typical things a fourteen year old would worry about, but the way I see it, this is not a typical time or place.

    The press conference scene- FANTASTIC. The way it seemed like a normal press conference, with occasional interruption from Nekou and Olivia's pranks (which was hilarious btw), and then... Matt is hit with incredible bigotry, was amazing and perfectly timed, and I think it reflected real world issues faced by those with differences like Matt who must deal with such things on a regular basis. Nekou's takedown of the Polaris members was incredibly badass as well and I love how she just beat them down to defend Matt.
    There are several things to address here.

    One: Matt's speech itself was specifically designed to read as realistically as possible, and the entire format of the conference was also. I wanted the imagery to be easy to envision.

    Two: Nekou causing problems and then egging Olivia on to do so is a great nutshell of how the two of them are and how they interact.

    Three: I'm glad to hear that the Polaris issues didn't come too far out of left field. Honestly, they were probably supposed to come off as WBC-like loons who just derail wherever they show up. Nekou beating the **** out of them was deserved, but she was just doing her job.

    It was a pleasant surprise seeing Diane and Butler show up, and I feel like your inclusion of them in your story was a really fitting one, since they would perform at festivals like the one in Whitegold City. Excellent characterization on both of them.

    Katorena's characterization and dialogue was great and gave her a lot of personality, and it looks like she may be shaping up to be a rival for Olivia. I'm really going to enjoy seeing what happens next with her.

    Rowena is great and I'm glad you included her in this story. I love how realistic she is as a reporter and how she works hard to get the full story while still admitting her mistakes.
    Butler and Diane - Obviously. Conkeldurr also made an easy, logical addition to their show, given his styling like a circus strongman.

    Katorena - She's going to keep down this path, and yes, there will be rivalries.

    Rowena - Getting her right was just as important to me as getting the press conference right. This plot is heavily driven by ripped-from-the-headlines issues, and given the heavy business and ethical topics tackled here, it's important to have a character who represents those who would oppose the unethical, greedy actions of the powerful antagonist. Here it is Rowena, who is a driven but not flawless pursuer of the truth who I see as a great example of the heroic reporter archetype.


    EDIT: The rest of the replies.

    Your battles in this chapter were all excellently written and plotted out, and all the dialogue felt really natural. You did a fantastic job explaining backstory that was easy and fun to read, as well as believable.
    I felt backstory was very important to establish the setting and mood of the story, so I put an extra amount of effort into it. I don't think the story would have the same impact without the folklore and such behind everything, and Everton's manipulation of the stories.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bay
    Oh dear over Darkrai being restrained. I’m wondering as to why Darkrai didn’t attack the moment it opened its eyes, but I guess the Pokemon wasn’t aware of its surroundings fully yet.
    Correct. Elaborating too much on how this came to pass might spoil a major but subtle plot point.

    The second part you don’t really need as you already mentioned other people and Pokemon watching the battle from the first quote (and you later reference that once more after the battle is over).
    I will reply to this in a bit.

    *reads further* And yay for Nekou beating Woods at Blackjack! I laughed out loud when after Nekou was able to drink beer and eat hot wings Olivia said she’s her hero. XD Nice interaction with Rowena and Woods with the gang there.
    That's the kind of person Nekou is. Hilariously, the more she drinks, the more intelligent she gets. You can't beat her at irresponsible behavior like that.

    Finally Liam met with Matt and the group. I have to say, totally didn’t expect him to mention the reference from Nothing, Everything.
    He's very worldly and has informed himself of what he's dealing with.

    The two paragraphs are a bit repetitive as you mentioned Cresselia and Darkrai going to battle twice. I think a bit of revision is needed, but I’m unsure how you should go about that at the moment.
    I wanted to drive home the dramatic impact of the scene, but I probably should have avoided ending the sentences with "again" twice.

    Besides some repetition I pointed out, one other thing is I actually feel this chapter could be easily broken down into two chapters. There is a whole bunch of stuff going on and it’s a lot to go through if trying to read the chapter in one sitting. This is probably just me, though.
    No, you're correct on this one. I can assure you the next chapters are more organized and concise than this. I didn't want there to be two chapters with little action so I didn't break up the first chapter; maybe in hindsight I should have.

    Quote Originally Posted by DragonKingUK
    Great Chapter and Fantastic story I love your villian. well done for that
    Excellent. The plot really has to be carried at least partially by his strength as a character so it's good that it worked.

    like Bay said you dont really need the second part because you have already said other are watching the battle from the 1st quote
    I waited to reply to this from Bay because I wanted to hit both at once:

    The specific Pokemon watching the battle was a fact that was mentioned for a reason. I'm not saying anything more than that. It happened for a reason.

    btw this is my 1st review so hope you like it, I should get better soon
    I'll look forward to it.
    Last edited by The Great Butler; 29th November 2011 at 7:01 AM.

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  15. #15
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    CHAPTER 2: Cresselia VS. Darkrai

    -:-

    Many of the staffers who worked in Giovanni’s mansion were Team Rocket members, and not all of them were formerly of the gang, either. It had not been hard for him to slip them into supposedly legitimate employment under the radar of the police, and as long as they wore the butler outfits he issued instead of the standard Team Rocket uniform, they wouldn’t be found out.

    Being that they were from Team Rocket’s ranks, the mansion’s staff were all well versed in the dirt and rumors floating around the darker corners of their society. Stacia was the subject of some of the most terrifying ones, so when she was doing even the mundane activity of quietly making coffee for Giovanni in the lounge, they stayed away from her.

    Not that Stacia minded. She despised dealing with the common idiots who joined Team Rocket just as much as her boss did, so their avoidance was a luxury to her. She needed to focus all of her energy on making the coffee, as she didn’t have the best hand-eye coordination with things other than penmanship and often tended to slip up.

    Just as she finished preparing the coffee according to her meticulous memory of Giovanni’s preferences, though, something on the television in the lounge caught her attention.

    “We’re back with coverage of this startling breaking news story out of Whitegold City,” the male newscaster stated. The TV was tuned to a network other than the Everton News Channel. “As you can see in this footage given to us by the Everton News Channel, a division of Everton International, after fifty years of peace, Darkrai has appeared in Whitegold City and is currently engaged in a battle to the death with its mortal enemy, the city’s guardian, Cresselia. A large-scale evacuation has been ordered, mandating that all people within the city’s limits move into the Whitegold Dome, the massive sports complex where the Pokémon Bowl is held. It is currently unknown why Darkrai has suddenly reappeared.”

    “Mister Giovanni will need to know this…” Stacia mumbled to herself.

    -:-

    Just as the footage had shown, Darkrai and Cresselia were locked in vicious battle in Whitegold City. It was lucky that the evacuation happened so efficiently and quickly, because if people were still in the way of the warring titans, they would have gotten badly hurt. Darkrai’s Dark Pulse and Ice Beam attacks, along with Cresselia’s Signal Beam and Energy Ball, were going errant, striking significant damage into both the streets and buildings in the surrounding area. Darkrai also had tried several times to put Cresselia to sleep with Dark Void, but the orbs of dark energy simply had no effect on her.

    Meanwhile, in one of the apartments of a nearby house, a cookie jar fell over atop a refrigerator. An unseen force opened the lid and picked up one of the round chocolate chip cookies, then materialized to reveal itself as Victini. Victini cheerfully grasped the cookie and took tiny bites into it, at least until there was an explosion near the window. Rattled, Victini floated with its cookie to peer out.

    Visible from the window were the two warring Pokémon and their relentless attempts to strike each other down. While the pair jockeyed for position against each other, Darkrai managed to get off several Dark Pulses, one of which grazed Cresselia’s body to leave a singed spot on her purple down. Cresselia responded by sending a shower of Energy Balls in Darkrai’s direction, several making explosive contact to drive Darkrai back.

    “Tini…” Victini said sadly, chewing on the cookie as it sat in the window and watched its guardian fight.

    -:-

    One hour later, the evacuation of Whitegold City to the Whitegold Dome was nearly complete. In order to speed the collecting of people inside the stadium, they were not being processed upon arrival; instead, all the evacuees’ identification passes would be checked once no more people were arriving.

    The Whitegold Dome was a massive sports complex that encompassed an entire city block. With a seating capacity of one hundred thousand, it was more than able to hold the roughly fifty thousand and counting that were flowing inside for safety. While some evacuees set up in the stands, many of them stayed out on the vast field of artificial green grass in the stadium’s center, including Matt, Nekou, Olivia, Bunny and Katorena.

    “All the Pokémon I’m seeing, it’s so cool!” Olivia’s excitement was at something that really mattered little at the time, but both Matt and Nekou perceived that she was doing it as a means of coping with the terrifying experience that was occurring. “Captain Everton’s Cryogonal was like that mean lady Maria’s Cryogonal, except it was a different color. Her Cryogonal had blue eyes and ice chains, if you remember. And then Darkrai… this Darkrai is even more awesome than the one Maria had!”

    Olivia was speaking of Queen Shadow Maria, the former leader of the now-long-dead terrorist organization Enigma Shadow, which her father fought three times over roughly ten years. In the very last battle between the two of them five years earlier, Maria used both a Cryogonal and then a Darkrai against Rich, but not to much success.

    Matt was there when the battle took place, and recalled those events in silence. He couldn’t devote much brainpower to remembering things at the moment, though, as he was preoccupied with solving just what was going on in Whitegold City. The sounds of all the countless people around the group, added to the news broadcast playing on the giant video screen overlooking the field, didn’t help at all in his attempts to think clearly.

    “You say you have met Darkrai before?” Katorena, on the other hand, was surprised to hear Olivia’s claims. “I have met many a Legendary Pokémon myself, but never a Darkrai. When I was growing up several friends of my parents owned such creatures, such as Zapdos and Heatran.”

    “Did you know that Matt has a Heatran?” Nekou chimed in. “He actually did a rather impressive job capturing it five years ago. Even now I have to give him some credit. He’s reliable when the chips are down, if you can believe that.”

    “That doesn’t make him any less of a scruffy vagrant in my eyes. Heatran is so rough and uncultured.”

    “Could you guys just knock it off for now?” Evidently it was Katorena’s remark that pushed Matt over the edge, even if his irritation had been building since their arrival at the stadium. “This just doesn’t feel right. Something has to be going on here. There’s no reason why Darkrai would just suddenly appear and begin attacking the city, then get locked in combat with Cresselia.”

    “Try checking out that book you got from the woman at the inn,” Bunny suggested.

    “Excellent idea. It might have something about this legend.”

    Matt removed the book from his bag and flipped it open to the page he’d read earlier about Victini. From there, he turned to the next page, which indeed depicted Darkrai and Cresselia.

    “Darkrai and Cresselia…” he read aloud. “They are as opposite as opposite can be. As Darkrai is the creator of nightmares, Cresselia is the Pokémon that dispels them. As such they are naturally fated to clash wherever and whenever they meet. Such an event has taken place in Whitegold City, where a Darkrai lived until Cresselia came. As fated, they fought, and Cresselia won. After that, Victini was taken into Cresselia’s protection, and the city’s fortunes changed greatly. It was never the same place again. For that reason I started the annual festival to celebrate both Victini and Cresselia.”

    “Who founded the festival?” Nekou asked, dropping into the conversation.

    “This is a log written by Becket Everton, Liam Everton’s grandfather,” Matt answered, remembering that Nekou wasn’t present when he’d received the book. “I got it from the innkeeper last night. It has information on a number of Legendary Pokémon in it.”

    “As a reminder if you’re just tuning in,” Midori droned on over the broadcast, “This is special coverage of the unfolding disaster in Whitegold City provided to you by Everton News Channel. Over the past hour, the Legendary Pokémon Darkrai and Cresselia have been engaged in a destructive battle inside Whitegold City, just as described in the folktales of an identical battle fifty years ago. It is still unknown why this is happening, but we are currently awaiting a statement from Captain Liam Everton, who also serves as city executive, on the crisis… correction, I am now being told that we will be going live to Captain Everton’s address to the city.”

    As everyone that had been evacuated into the stadium looked upward to the screen, Everton appeared. He was sitting at his desk in his office and looked outwardly angry.

    “Citizens of Whitegold City,” he thundered, his voice deep and powerful, “and tourists visiting our city as well, I come before you today to bring you up to speed on the disaster currently befalling our beloved city. Slightly over one hour ago, the Pokémon Darkrai appeared. This set in motion a chain of events that has ended in the clash of Darkrai and Cresselia, Whitegold City’s guardian. This story is just the same as the one in the folktales of fifty years ago. Everton International… and myself personally, we are dedicated to the safety of everyone within our borders. For that reason security measure D-10 has been activated, resulting in the mass evacuation of all in Whitegold City to the Whitegold Dome. This evacuation plan, which, as you know, we have rehearsed annually for years, is designed for the safety of the people. The Whitegold Dome will serve as a safe haven for all as this crisis plays out. Essentially, it will be the ark that carries the populace into a new tomorrow! Remember, Everton International is dedicated to ensuring your safety as we manage this crisis. Please, remain calm and optimistic. Things will be over very soon. Thank you.”

    Once Everton’s speech was over, Midori returned to the screen. “We’re back now, following the statement from Captain Liam Everton on the unfolding Darkrai disaster. This is Everton News Channel’s continuing coverage of the incident, and we will continue to bring you live updates and footage of the historic battle between Darkrai and Cresselia as this day goes on.”

    “Something’s wrong,” Matt sighed. “Just listening to that… it’s never that easy. Something else is going on here and whatever it is, it’s very wrong. We have to get out of here.”

    “And how do you suggest we do that?” Nekou growled in frustration. “There are Everton’s guards posted at all the entrances. There’s no way out.”

    “Think outside the box,” suggested Olivia. “That’s what Matt taught me to do to solve problems. There must be another way out than just out the exit.”

    Bunny abruptly grabbed Matt’s shoulder to spin him around, and pointed out someone at the edge of the field where the spectator area began. “Over there, there’s Rowena!”

    “You’re right.” Breaking into a jog, with the others following him, Matt called out, “Hey! Rowena! Over here!”

    “Sssh, be quiet!” she hissed once they reached her. “Everton’s men can’t know who I am. I’m undercover and a threat to his plans.”

    “Well, remember how you said you’d need our help?” When Rowena nodded, Matt continued, “It’s time for us to help each other on that. We’re looking for a way out of here because we don’t trust what Everton is saying about this evacuation.”

    “Good thinking. I don’t trust him either, obviously, and I actually have a way out.” Olivia, Nekou and Bunny all crowded around Rowena as she took out her high-tech phone and clicked through files on it. “Here, look at this,” she said, settling on a map file. “This is a blueprint of the Whitegold Dome that is publically available. See this maintenance hall here? That leads right outside, and it’s unused so they won’t think to guard it.”

    “Can we reach it?” Bunny inquired.

    “Of course. Let’s join up. It’ll be easier to make everything work out that way.”

    -:-

    Carefully balancing the saucer and coffee cup in her right hand, Stacia used her left hand to knock on the door of Giovanni’s office. She had spilled it several times, necessitating her remaking it again and again, which was why it had taken her so long to finish.

    “Come in!” her boss shouted from inside.

    Stacia slowly and nervously disengaged the lock and then nudged the door open with her hip. Giovanni’s office was as finely furnished as his lounge – a red velvet carpet coated the floor, while well-kept plants dotted the perimeter of the room against the wood-tone walls. Bookshelves and pieces of art alternately covered the walls, while the only window in the room was a floor-to-ceiling glass door that led to a balcony.

    As for Giovanni himself, he was seated at his desk, wearing a black business suit accentuated with red pinstripes, along with a red necktie. He was staring at his computer and scowling as Stacia set down the coffee; she also mentally noted Persian curled up sleeping on the floor next to his owner.

    “Mister Giovanni…”

    “The coffee had better be good today, Stacia, I need it.” Stacia shrunk back while Giovanni took up the coffee cup and sipped the hot liquid. Much to her surprise, he then smiled slightly. “Just the way I like it. Good job, Stacia.”

    “Thank you, Mister Giovanni,” the secretary demurred, blushing slightly. Though she didn’t have an air of confidence at all, when she did something that earned Giovanni’s praise, Stacia felt proud of herself. She loved being praised for managing to do things correctly. “May I ask why you are angry, sir?”

    “My stocks are going down because of what’s happening in Whitegold City,” he revealed, his voice returning to anger. “The global market is watching them nervously because of Everton International being headquartered there. If something happens to that company, it could send the entire global economy into shock. It’s already starting… everything’s going down except precious commodities. The stuff nobody buys except to hold some safe money in reliable investments.”

    “I was just… meaning to ask you if you had seen the news coverage.” That question had already been more than answered for Stacia, once she heard Giovanni’s complaints and saw a window on his computer screen showing a live stream of the Everton News Channel. “Is there… anything more I can do for you, sir?”

    “Remain here with me. If this is going to spiral out of control into a truly global event, I’m going to need help managing it. Have you informed Dr. Zager of what’s happening?”

    “I… I have, sir.” The excitement was rising in Stacia’s body, even if she didn’t show it. Being able to personally assist Giovanni was the most thrilling thing of all for her.

    -:-

    The sound of an old, rusted doorknob being turned echoed through the dank alley behind the Whitegold Dome. Rowena was the first to come out of the secret passage into the stadium, followed by Matt, then Nekou, Olivia, Bunny and Katorena. Silence hung over the narrow lane, broken only by the distant noises from Darkrai and Cresselia’s fight.

    “Alright, what now?” Matt sighed, leaning on a rusty dumpster that had long since been disused. “We got out. What can we actually do now?”

    “We can’t leave the city,” Olivia thought aloud. “It wouldn’t accomplish anything, and we’d get caught anyway.”

    “While I was inside the stadium,” Rowena said without taking her eyes off her phone, “I looked carefully to see if Woods was there. Obviously there’s a chance I missed him in a crowd of tens of thousands of people, but I can call him to find out.”

    “Do that.”

    With Matt’s agreement, Rowena pressed a button on her phone, then held it up to her ear. The others watched her and waited with tense anticipation for what would come next.

    “Oh, hello?” she abruptly answered finally. “Woods, it’s Rowena. Are you at the Whitegold Dome right now? No?” Once it was clear Woods wasn’t at the stadium, a sense of relief washed over the group. “We need to set up a meeting immediately. Where are you right now? Okay, stay there. We’re on our way.”

    “Well, where is he?” Nekou forcefully demanded to know.

    “He says he’s at some old fortune teller named Aurelie’s place out on the marsh.”

    “Could that be the woman from the fortune telling booth at the fair?” inquired Katorena as she adjusted her hat. “Check that card she gave you!”

    “Alright, calm down…” As it turned out, Nekou had stuck the card down the front of her dress, even though it had pockets. “Yeah, it’s her. I didn’t notice that her name was printed on here before.”

    “I guess we know where we’re going, then…” Matt then tilted his head and added, “And I guess you only wear a bra when you’re dressed up? It’s not like you didn’t have pockets available either.”

    “Is now really the time to complain about getting some fanservice?” she countered. “Just get off my ***. Let’s get to Aurelie’s house and figure out where to go from there.”

    “Agreed,” Rowena interjected, “the only thing to do now is keep moving.”

    -:-

    Darkrai and Cresselia’s fight raged on relentlessly, with neither side gaining the upper hand or getting tired. They were slowly moving into the poorer area of the city, in the direction of the marshland. What chiefly set the two districts apart was the difference in building quality; whereas the business district was filled with high-tech, glass-covered buildings, the poorer area was nothing more than tightly clustered houses made of aged, painted wood.

    Taking aim at Cresselia, Darkrai launched a Dark Pulse. However, the blast missed and ripped through the street below, scattering cobblestones until it hit a gas-powered street lamp, which exploded in a shower of metal.

    In retaliation Cresselia sent an Aura Sphere toward Darkrai. Unable to move quickly enough after its own move, Darkrai was hit square in the chest. It was sent falling to the street while growling in pain.

    Quickly recovering, however, Darkrai countered with a blast of Thunder from its hands. The scattered lightning bolts hit Cresselia several times in addition to tearing holes in numerous surrounding houses.

    -:-

    A short while later, a large black helicopter bearing the golden Everton insignia was flying over Whitegold City. Inside, Foster was piloting the craft while Baker remotely supervised the final stage of the evacuation from his seat in the passenger cabin diagonally from Everton’s. The captain, meanwhile, was nonchalantly checking his investments from the previous day on his computer.

    “What’s that?” Baker said aloud, holding his hand to his earpiece. “The head count of the evacuees is finished? Excellent. That’s good, what has you upset then? …What?!”

    “What happened now, Baker?” asked Everton with an irritated tone.

    “It seems the count of how many evacuees went to the stadium came up short, sir. The guards are forwarding you a list of the missing ones right now.”

    Almost instantaneously, a series of identification pass photographs appeared on Everton’s computer.

    The first photo was printed twice, as it was the photo of Matt and Nekou together. Olivia, Bunny, Katorena, Rowena, Aurelie and Woods were the rest of the list.

    “Damn it!” Everton fumed, slamming his fist down on the armrest of his chair. “I should have known that it would be Chiaki’s group to show up and cause problems!”

    “It’s not surprising, sir. We can’t worry about them right now, though. We have bigger fish to fry.”

    “You’re correct, Baker. At least I get some of my investment back on you. Do we have the infrared scanner up yet?”

    “The infrared scanner is fully online, sir. Please have a look at the live feed.”

    By entering a command into his computer, Everton brought up a program that read ‘Real-time Thermal Imaging – Whitegold City’ on its header. Most of the screen was splotched with green and yellow, but there were a few spots of red, which indicated high heat concentration. The largest of these spots was over the marshland.

    “So there you are, Victini,” Everton said to himself with a smirk. “Let’s see if any of my slaves have found you yet.”

    By tapping a few keys, Everton changed the computer screen from the thermal reading to the Dreamyarn Inceptor’s readout display. Once again, several views of certain areas of the city appeared; some were in the streets, others near or inside dilapidated buildings, and still more in the swamps. The one thing they all had in common was that Victini was not visible anywhere.

    “Did we release that Dream Mist for nothing?!” snarled the captain in frustration. “The whole point of this system was to give me countless eyes to find Victini with!”

    “Remember that we can use it for other things, too,” Baker dutifully reminded his boss. “Even if we cannot find Victini by peering through the eyes of so many Pokémon, the enslaved Pokémon will still do our bidding.”

    “That is correct. In this case, I’ll have to get my hands dirty.” Rising from his seat, Everton issued a command to Baker, saying, “We’re going to the cargo bay.”

    Without a word, Baker also stood. The two men walked briskly across the cabin to an elevator, which they boarded. Neither one spoke a word in the cramped, rectangular confines of the lift, both of them opting to obsess over the mission they were trying to carry out.

    Before they knew it the elevator had stopped at the floor they needed. Floodlights mounted on the walls of the cargo hold cast a bright, harsh red glow throughout the vast iron chamber. Despite all the space available, however, the hold was occupied only by two vehicles. One of them, a gray Segway-like hoverboard, was the one Everton decided to use.

    Stepping onto the hoverboard’s platform, Everton pressed several of the keys on the wide dashboard spread before him. This activated the vehicle’s powerup sequence, illuminating both the eight-inch touchscreen centered on the dashboard as well as the multicolored keyboards on its left and right. A string of plasma lights positioned across the front of the dashboard flicked on, as did the spotlight near the foot platform.

    “Activate the synchronization between the mobile unit and the central servers,” Everton ordered, without shifting his rigid, straightforward gaze.

    Baker was nearly ahead of the order, already hard at work on a computer console against the nearby wall. As he worked, a series of windows came and went from display on the hoverboard’s screen during the process of the data upload.

    “Synchronization complete, sir.”

    As if to test the validity of Baker’s claim, Everton entered a short command using the right-hand keyboard. This brought up a window containing the thermal imaging of Whitegold City; apparently satisfied, he then released his Klinklang and Cryogonal from their Ultra Balls.

    Finally, he pressed a red button on the left side of the dashboard, bringing up a video link to Foster at the helicopter’s controls.

    “Alright, Foster, listen up.”

    “Sir?”

    “Open up the cargo hatch. I’m going out to search for Victini personally.”

    “Yes, sir.”

    Turning to Baker, Everton completed his thought, “And you, Baker. You bring the truck and follow after me in a short while.”

    Baker briefly eyed the truck sitting on the other side of the cargo hold. “As you command, sir,” he answered.

    Just then, the sound of heavy metal moving prompted Everton to take hold of the handles that served to control the hoverboard. As the cargo hatch slowly creaked open, the floor where the hoverboard was sitting lowered as well. Once the moving platform reached a stop, with the pneumatics controlling its rise and descent letting off pressure, Everton brought the hoverboard off the ground and sent it gliding smoothly out into the airspace over Whitegold City. He knew where he was going with Klinklang and Cryogonal, and started flying toward the marsh.

    -:-

    With his group left to trek through Whitegold City to the swamp area by themselves, Matt found himself stuck walking as the leader to cut away brush with the blade inside his right sleeve. Rowena and Olivia were right behind him, the former guiding his path using Aurelie’s business card map and the latter just enjoying the adventure through a seemingly exotic forest. After them, Bunny was simply enraptured by the scenery. Bringing up the rear, Nekou and Katorena were riding on the back of Tanya, Matt’s Heatran. Marie in turn was riding on Nekou’s head like usual while she held Zorua in her arms.

    After what seemed like forever in the underbrush, the group emerged into a murky clearing right on the edge of the swamp. A single, run-down house sat on the shoreline, surrounded by greenish-brown reeds and lilypads floating on the black water. A yellow hovercraft was also sitting next to the house.

    “Is this it?” Bunny wondered.

    After double-checking the business card several times, Rowena nodded. “It should be.”

    “Alright, you know what that means, you two,” Matt said, turning to Tanya, Nekou and Katorena with the Dusk Ball in his hand. “Free ride’s over.”

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  16. #16
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    “What rot,” complained the stuffy girl. Despite this, Katorena did get off of Tanya.

    Nekou did as well, but she couldn’t resist getting in one jab. “The more footwork you make me do, the less energy I have to do other things, you know.”

    “I don’t want to hear it from either of you right now, seriously. We have more important things to do. Tanya, thank you. Return.” A red beam lashed out of the button on the Dusk Ball, pulling Tanya back into its boundaries. It wasn’t until then that Matt noticed the huge footprints she’d left behind in the soft earth. “Let’s go…”

    Matt didn’t even get the chance to turn and head for Aurelie’s home, however, as Olivia precluded him. She rushed off toward the house while shouting, “It’s time for more fortune telling! Open up!”

    “Now, now, Olivia…” Matt tried to caution, “being so rude won’t get you anywhere.”

    “Says who?” Nekou interrupted, forcing a look of complete seriousness onto her face even though she was joking. “You can be a badass ***** if you want, as long as it’s what you choose.”

    “I like the sound of that. ‘Badass ***** Olivia.’ I might take that on as my name, if it gets my dad to notice me…”

    “ENOUGH!!” It wasn’t Nekou provoking Olivia into bad behavior that so angered Matt, though it didn’t help. The problem came from Olivia using said bad behavior as an admittedly appropriate justification for bringing back her very serious problems with her father again, which was something Matt just couldn’t deal with.

    He then realized he was being watched. The door of Aurelie’s home was open, and Woods was standing there staring at the group of them arguing.

    “You guys done?” he asked, only half-joking.

    “For now,” Matt replied in kind.

    “Well if that’s the case, then Aurelie has asked me to invite you all inside for some tea.”

    “Tea?!” In an instant, Nekou was back at the head of the group, practically in Woods’s face, beaming with excitement. “You said there’s tea?! Tell me, tell me now, where is it?”

    “I do say,” Katorena chimed in, “I might want a spot of tea myself.”

    “There’s plenty to go around. Please, come inside.”

    -:-

    A chain of Aura Spheres was trailing right behind Darkrai, and it frantically flew through the air in hopes of not only escaping Cresselia’s assault but gaining a vantage point over her as well. Eventually, Darkrai started using trees as shields, baiting each Aura Sphere into hitting one.

    Though Darkrai tried to hide in the aftermath left by the blasted trees, Cresselia saw easily through the dust cloud and sent one of her Energy Balls down. A pained growl from inside the cloud indicated that it was successful, a fact proven when Darkrai emerged with a few scattered burns on its body.

    “Ra!” Darkrai screamed, tearing the energy for a Dark Pulse from its claws.

    Cresselia countered by firing a shining, multicolored Signal Beam, and the two attacks met halfway in a powerful explosion. Darkrai hesitated to attack blindly and this came with a price – its opponent did not likewise wait, and as a result, a second Signal Beam came through and throttled Darkrai straight into a house. In fact, the impact was so forceful that part of the house started to collapse from it.

    However, the complacency that allowed Cresselia to get in such a major hit soon reversed on her, as when she relaxed from attacking for just a brief moment, Darkrai lunged out of the wreckage, grabbed her, and launched Dark Pulse at point-blank range, creating an energy blast around them both.

    -:-

    Matt, Nekou, Olivia, Bunny, Katorena and Rowena were all sitting at a table inside Aurelie’s house, sipping tea from delicate white china. The rooms were all quite dark, both from the darkly painted walls and the fact that the main sources of light were candles. Nekou quite clearly didn’t mind the darkness, though, as she was busy trying to memorize as much as she could about the dwelling while looking around in awe. The walls were covered in various trinkets of stained glass and items crafted from yarn, such as a Sigilyph-themed dream catcher.

    “Are you enjoying the tea?” Aurelie asked the group, while slowly walking into the room and sitting on the opposite side of the table alongside Gothitelle. “It’s a recipe that’s been passed down through generations of Whitegold City residents.”

    “Well, I…”

    “This is some of the best tea I’ve ever had!” Nekou blurted out, interrupting Matt completely. “You’re going to have to give me the recipe sometime, because I must have this in my life! Seriously!”

    “You sure are enthusiastic,” Matt uttered with a hint of sarcasm. “The tea must be good.”

    “It is, though,” Rowena opined, adding, “I could write an interest piece on this alone if I was that kind of journalist still.”

    “I believe you all said you had some business, didn’t you?” Woods spoke up. He was not with the others, instead opting to lean standing against the wall. He seemed to be distracted by fiddling with his cell phone. “I was just getting my fortune read here, but you wanted me to wait up, so what’s going on?”

    Adjusting her glasses, Rowena said, “We’re very suspicious of what Everton is up to. Is there anything you can tell us about what’s happening? About the evacuation plan, its rehearsals, anything?”

    “We’ve been doing the rehearsals for at least twenty years now. Everton told us that it was in case of an emergency just like this. They went off roughly the first few years, but before long, the city got it down like a well-oiled machine.”

    “Miss Nekou…” Aurelie delicately entered, “…I am ready to finish your reading now.”

    “Are you sure you can handle my spiritual energy this time?”

    “I’ll have to, otherwise I’d need another medium to connect your energy and Gothitelle.”

    “Ooh, I have an idea!” Olivia exclaimed. “Use Dalian!”

    “That is a great idea. Good job, you brilliant little thing. I love you for that.” After giving Olivia a well-received pat on the head, Nekou took out one of her Poké Balls and opened it. “Dalian, come out here, would you?”

    Dalian was a Pokémon with similarities to Gothitelle. She was feminine in appearance too, but her body was smaller, with a more defined shape. Like Gothitelle, she was mainly black in color with white ribbons on her body. The main difference was that while Gothitelle had the flat discs attached to her head, Dalian had pigtails instead.

    “Ah! A Gothorita, Gothitelle’s previous evolution stage! We can do the reading just fine this way. Dalian, please come right over here…”

    Aurelie gestured to a spot next to Gothitelle, so Dalian jumped off the table and walked there. Once she was in position, the fortuneteller continued her instructions.

    “Now, join hands and focus your minds as one. Gothitelle, when you reach complete synchronization, read Nekou’s future!”

    “Gothitelle…” the elder Psychic-type replied to her trainer. Along with the younger Pokémon working with her, she focused her mind, and soon found herself feeling profoundly as one with Dalian’s mental abilities.

    Before long, the two united, and they both cried out in unison as a window to another galaxy was created, just like it had been for Katorena. Aurelie wasted no time in looking it over, analyzing it for signs of Nekou’s future.

    “I see... hmm… this is quite something…” When Aurelie turned back to Nekou and the others, her face was cloaked in shadow, rendering her appearance rather frightening. “Nekou, you stand at a crossroads. From where you are now, your path can go in one of two directions, which will lead you to one of two very different fates. Down one road, you will find yourself walking alongside friends and allies. You will be challenged to a painful degree, but if you can keep your feet on this road, at the end you will ultimately find salvation and happiness. The other road, however, will lead through nothing but sorrow, ultimately bringing you to complete and utter despair. The choice of which road you’ll take will be in your hands.”

    For once, Nekou was silent. All she could do was stare into the purple cloth thrown over the table as she tried to comprehend everything Aurelie had told her. She was used to her carefree, casual lifestyle, and if something was going to happen to disrupt that, Nekou was unsure of how or even if she’d be able to cope with it.

    Her troubled line of thinking was interrupted when she felt a nudging against her arm. Next to her, Marie and Zorua were looking up at her with great worry, concerned for the well-being of their mother figure.

    “Aww, it’s okay,” Nekou soothingly said, patting both of their heads and smiling. “Everything will be just fine, I’m sure.”

    “I think we’re done here, then,” Matt declared, rising from his seat. He then turned halfway and addressed Woods, saying, “Mister Woods, I have a question to ask you myself. Would you take us to where you alluded to Victini possibly being?”

    “I suppose,” Woods replied, pushing himself forward off the wall, “but why? There’s no guarantee it will be there.”

    “I’ll level with you. I have been paying attention to all the information I’ve been hearing about Victini, and I’ve come to a decision. We will go to where Victini is and I will make the contract to acquire the Victory Star for myself.”

    A loud collective gasp erupted from the people gathered around Matt when he made this announcement. Not one of them – not even Katorena or Rowena, whom he’d just met – could believe he’d take such an action.

    “But… why?” Devastatingly enough, it was Olivia who put words to the shock they all felt. Her voice was shaky, reflecting the repeated feeling of betrayal she had. With Rich gone, she couldn’t bear to have another role model, even one she abused regularly, fail morally like this. “You can’t mean it…”

    Though he was shaken by Olivia’s pleading, Matt elaborated on his decision. “The only way I can ever have peace is if I learn the truth behind what happened at La Ciudad Dorada,” he explained. “I’ve learned of Reshiram, the legendary Pokémon whose flames burn to reveal truths. If I can find Reshiram, I can learn the truth that I desire, and the Victory Star can guide me there. I don’t care what price I have to pay to make that contract. If I have the Victory Star, I can find Reshiram, and then my existence will have completed its meaning.”

    A sharp impact suddenly struck the side of Matt’s face, sending him crashing to the floor. It was Nekou, who, having risen while Matt was giving the explanation of his plans, had smacked him.

    She now towered over him, and the candlelight glowing in her glasses concealed the tears forming at the corners of her eyes from him. “How can you even think about throwing your life away like that?! You don’t know what the price of Victini’s contract is! You want to take a gamble on potentially throwing away everything on a risk that might not even pay off? It’s not worth it! It’s not ****ing worth it! Just... just look around you! Look at Olivia! What do you think she would do if something happened to you?!”

    Matt couldn’t respond. He had gotten back on his feet, but Nekou’s outburst completely stunned him. He still couldn’t see the tears in her eyes, but when he looked to Olivia and saw her openly crying, something in his mind snapped back into place. Just seeing Olivia made him realize how irrational he was being, and that it didn’t matter what he wanted to learn or accomplish because his first duty was to maintain her well-being instead.

    “Nekou… you’re right,” he finally said, albeit very quietly. His mood brightened, however, when he turned to Olivia. “So, Olivia, do you want to see Victini?”

    “Do you promise not to do anything stupid?” she begged tearfully.

    Matt ignored how painful this question was to him and simply answered it, “Of course.”

    -:-

    As Woods led Matt, Nekou, Olivia, Bunny, Katorena and Rowena to his black hovercraft, which was landed next to Aurelie’s house on the swamp water, Victini watched silently from the bushes nearby.

    -:-

    “This is terrible, Butler… how could the festival gone this wrong?”

    Diane and Butler were still in the Whitegold Dome with the other evacuees, and like the others, they were growing nervous and agitated. The ceaseless live broadcast of Cresselia and Darkrai’s vicious battle wasn’t helping matters any.

    “I don’t know, Diane, but everything’s going to be okay. Everything will turn out just fine. Once we meet up with Matt and Katorena, they should be able to help us.” Just then, Butler was alerted by his hand being nudged. It was his Mightyena, who was trying to get his attention. “What is it, Mightyena? Have you found Matt and Katorena yet?”

    Mightyena barked, then turned and started to walk off, beckoning Butler and Diane to follow him. They did so, and were led toward the hall where the abandoned maintenance passage was.

    -:-

    Woods drove the hovercraft down the murky waters of the swamp for about fifteen minutes, during which few words were exchanged between the passengers. Their goal turned out to be an old church made of gray stones that rested right on the boundary between the marshland and the poorer urban area of Whitegold City.

    “Wow, it’s so beautiful…” Bunny said in awe as she disembarked the hovercraft with the others. While walking up the hill to the church, she continued, “I can feel the history coming off of this place…”

    “It’s one of the oldest landmarks in Whitegold City,” Rowena added. “This church has been here for over one hundred and twenty years, at least.”

    Woods set his hands on the handles affixed to the heavy wooden doors of the church and started to push them open. While he did this, he continued the story, “One hundred and thirty-five years, in fact.”

    The interior of the church was somewhat dim, with light filtering in through the stained glass windows on the left and right walls, four on each side. Each opposite pair depicted the same image as its counterpart – the first two displayed a sword-shaped castle floating in the sky; the second pair an old man with long, flowing white hair and a beard; the third and fourth pairs, meanwhile, depicted two different poses of Victini itself.

    The group stared at the splendor of the stained glass windows and stone walls as Woods led them down the aisle between rows of seats. Matt and Bunny were especially intrigued, with Matt even taking out his tablet computer to record footage of the church’s magnificence.

    “One thousand years ago,” Woods continued to explain, “The place in Unova known as the Kingdom of the Vale was destroyed, and its inhabitants, the People of the Vale, scattered to the winds. Some of the People of the Vale eventually made their way here, to Kanto. They founded a settlement and lived in peaceful isolation for centuries. Eventually, however, they had to connect to the outside world. It was Liam Everton’s ancestors who first promoted interaction and trade with the settlement, and the small village soon grew into what we know today as Whitegold City. One hundred and thirty-five years ago, the People of the Vale who lived in the city at the time constructed this church as a monument both to the city’s prosperity and to the memories of their lost homeland. Many of the residents of the city today are descended from the People of the Vale, including me.”

    “What a story…”

    “Indeed, it is quite fascinating…” Katorena shared Olivia’s enthralled reaction, as the two of them were both staring at Woods to pay close attention.

    Having made it to the back of the church, Woods opened the gnarled door that sat there. It loudly creaked as he opened it, the hinges not having been maintained regularly for years. A dark staircase lay beyond the doorway, one that was lit only by a string of tiny bulbs that activated when Woods flipped a switch on the wall.

    “Come on. If Victini is here, we’ll have to go down. Follow me.”

    The stairs were made of old, decrepit wood, so when Woods set foot on them, they let out a sickening groan. Each step he took down the dimly-lit path produced a louder and louder sound. This was true for the others when they started down the staircase as well, even Katorena, despite her light, petite frame.

    Wherever Woods was leading the group, it was quite far underground, judging by the length the staircase went on for. The passage was also quite cramped and dusty, which made Matt and Bunny nervous; Nekou, on the other hand, seemed to not mind it. At any rate, when Woods finally reached the bottom, the sound of his shoes hitting the stone floor echoed back up.

    “Come down here, all of you,” he instructed, moving to the left and looking for something on the wall.

    “What are you doing over there?” Matt asked, confused about walking into the dark chamber at the bottom of the stairs.

    “Looking for the light switch.” As if on cue, Woods just happened to find the button at that exact moment.

    “Hey, Matt, since when did we have to go down into smelly basements?” Olivia complained. “It’s dark and it stinks down here!”

    Amidst Olivia’s laments, Woods flipped the switch, turning on the rickety light system in the basement, which was actually just some bulbs hanging from the ceiling by cords. As for the room itself, while it was rather spacious, there was little inside. Shelves lined with torn containers of various dry foods surrounded the walls, and on the far end of the room, there was a small pool filled with still water.

    “Victini’s here?” Rowena wondered aloud, unable to comprehend that a rare and powerful Pokémon could be in such a run-down place. “Judging by the food, someone’s been here, but Victini?”

    “I put the food here,” Woods informed the others. Taking a step forward, he continued, “I’m not sure if Victini is here right now, but this is where it lives. Victini!” he called out. “Hey, Victini! Victini, if you are here, please come out! Victini!”

    There was no response to Woods’s invitation after several seconds, prompting Olivia to sigh in frustration.

    “How disappointing,” she groaned, shrugging her shoulders. “I guess Victini wasn’t here after all.”

    “You sure are boring, old man,” Nekou added as an insult to Woods. “First I kick your *** at cards and then you lead us on this wild goose chase? Even Matt is more interesting than you.”

    Nekou reached into her pocket and took out a RageCandyBar, a confection covered in a green wrapper, not even noticing the glare Matt gave her for her remark. While she started to unwrap it, Katorena coughed.

    “Victini is part Fire-type and part Psychic-type, so I was very interested in meeting it,” she commented.

    “I’m sorry, Katorena,” Bunny said in an attempt to comfort her new friend. “Seeing Victini would have been quite interesting, indeed, but it looks like we won’t be doing that.”

    “Haven’t you had enough of strange experiences with rare Pokémon?” Nekou deadpanned while chewing on her candy bar. “It was just Moltres and Zoroark the other day,” she said, alluding to the events of two days prior in Argyros Town. “Maybe this is for the better, if you could possibly consider that.”

    With that, Nekou swallowed the bite of chocolate and moved to take another. Much to her surprise, however, she found herself unable to move her arm very far easily, as if something was pulling on it.

    “Nekou, what are you doing?” The sight of Nekou’s arm jerking subtly back and forth was rather humorous, and as such, Matt got a chuckle out of it. “Candy is for eating, not for playing.”

    “Shut… shut the **** up! I don’t know what’s going on here, okay? I can’t move my arm! Something’s grabbed it and won’t…”

    “Tini!! Tiniiiii!”

    The voice seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere simultaneously, and it gave the humans in the room pause. It had no visible source, which only made its otherworldly sound even more unsettling. A moment later, the RageCandyBar finally tore itself out of Nekou’s hand, at which point it floated – seemingly by itself – several feet across the room.

    “What the hell is going on?!” Olivia screamed, giving words to the shock everyone except Woods felt.

    And then, the explanation for everything became clear. The candy bar stabilized in the air, and as it appeared to be getting eaten, Victini materialized, happily chewing away at the sweet snack. Instantly, the mood in the air whiplashed from one of disappointment to one of surprise, excitement and joy. At long last, the goal the group had sought had finally appeared before them.

    “It’s Victini!” Matt, Olivia, Bunny and Rowena all exclaimed at once.

    “Am I still boring?” Woods grumbled to Nekou, having been vindicated by Victini’s appearance.

    Nekou, however, didn’t care what he had to say at all. “Hey, you! What right do you have to take my candy? It belongs to me!”

    “Easy now, Nekou,” soothed Matt, who held his hand out in front of her. “Victini’s had to sustain itself without too many treats, it looks like, so cut it a break.”

    The only response Nekou had to this advice was to take in a breath and puff up her cheeks to show her frustrated anger. Meanwhile, Katorena decided to take action and boldly walked right up to Victini.

    “Greetings, Legendary Pokémon Victini,” she said, curtsying while speaking with her usual stuffy dignity. “My name is Katorena. I am training to be an expert of Psychic-type Pokémon and it is an honor to meet you.”

    Becoming distracted from the candy bar for a bit, Victini stared at Katorena with its wide blue eyes. Judging her to be a friend, it jumped onto her head and started playing with her hair while cheerfully saying its name.

    “Stop it, you rogue! Get off me!” Katorena was actually clearly fighting back laughter as she tried to get Victini off of her head, making it clear to the others that they didn’t have to worry about anything.

    Satisfied with what he was seeing, Woods turned to the exit. “I have some things to do, so I’ll leave you to your devices now. Have fun with Victini, alright?”

    “Don’t you worry about that, old man!” exclaimed Olivia, having picked up Nekou’s way of referring to him.

    -:-

    “Klinklang, Gear Grind!”

    “Klang! Klinklang!”

    Everton’s Klinklang hovered over to a thick section of underbrush growing on the banks of the swamp. It started rotating its gears at an extremely fast speed and then pushed into the weeds, mowing them down between the rapidly-turning components of its body. Multiple Tympole, Palpitoad, Poliwag, Krabby, Marill and Wooper fled as their home in the grass was destroyed.

    “Damn it!” Everton thundered, slamming his fist down on the dashboard of his hoverboard. He was positioned next to his Cryogonal, both of them floating over the swamp’s water. “Why can’t I find it?! Where is Victini?” He looked down at the thermal imaging radar, which was showing similar readings to the ones from earlier. “The Dreamyarn Inceptor didn’t help with this at all, and even though this thermal imaging program is indicating I’m near Victini, I just can’t find it!”

    A beeping sound emanating from the computer screen on the dashboard snapped Everton out of his enraged state, even if temporarily. It was being caused by a small icon of an envelope on the screen.

    “A text message?” After tapping the icon with his finger, Everton read the message to himself. As its meaning sunk in, he slowly began to smile broadly. “I see,” he said pensively, leaning forward with his elbow on the dashboard for a moment.

    He then hit several of the computer keys to his left, causing communication channels to Baker and Foster to open.

    “Baker! Foster!”

    “Sir!” the two guards rigidly answered.

    “Where are you two?”

    “Foster is about to drop me off in the truck,” Baker replied. “We just landed.”

    “Both of you come to my location in the truck,” Everton instructed his henchmen. “Bring all the capture equipment. Soon, complete victory will be mine.”

    -:-

    In the basement of the church, Olivia was playing with Victini alongside her Minccino, Rowena’s Cinccino, Marie and Nekou’s Zorua. Katorena, meanwhile, was sitting on a bench nearby and simply watching, trying to maintain her air of dignity.

    “The appearance of Darkrai and subsequent showdown between Darkrai and Cresselia… and then, the evacuation plan that was carefully rehearsed for years before it was actually needed, at which point it just happened to fit what was happening perfectly… doesn’t it strike you as far too coincidental?”

    Rowena, Matt, Nekou and Bunny were sitting on another bench and working together to plan their next move. The reporter had a small notebook computer out and was using it to review her notes on the situation.

    “I agree,” Bunny responded, nodding. “Things just don’t happen like that for no reason. It sounds almost like it was planned out.”

    “That’s what I’m afraid of,” Rowena confessed. “All of this fits together far too well to simply be chance. I fear that Everton may be the man in the shadows manipulating this entire situation. The battle between Darkrai and Cresselia provides the perfect cover story to pacify the masses while simultaneously keeping tabs on everyone so they won’t get in the way.”

    “But what is he after?” Matt questioned.

    “Here, have a look at this.”

    Rowena loaded a video on her computer, then turned it so the others could see the screen. The clip was of a political television talk show, and the host, a slightly overweight man with thinning blonde hair, was about to interview Liam Everton.

    “We’re back. Let’s introduce our guest for tonight. He’s the president of multi-billion-dollar international corporation Everton International and an important leading figure in the global economy, Captain Liam Everton. Good evening, Captain.”

    “Good evening.”

    “Let’s get right down to business. You’re always a busy man, Captain, running here to tend to petroleum development, there to maintain your interests in global banking, all the way over there for freight shipping, investments in new technology… well, my point is that you always have a lot of things going on for yourself. Tell us, what’s keeping you busy these days?”

    “I’m glad you asked that. I’m working on finding a brilliant energy source that will change the world. I don’t have it yet, but it’s right within Whitegold City itself! Just begging to be taken! Once I get it, the conversation about energy in this country will be changed forever, I promise you that.”


    “When is this clip from?” asked Nekou.

    “This is from the October 29, 2008 broadcast of Down To Business, the business-themed talk show based out of Goldenrod City. Whatever this energy source he’s talking about is, it’s in Whitegold City and I think it’s what he’s pursuing right now. If you ask me, I think it’s a massive new oil field that’s located underneath the city.”

    “What if I was complicit in all this?” Matt clenched his hands on his lap and stared down intensely at them. The thought quickly overtaking him was that his speech was also part of Everton’s plan of diversion, and even if he had no clue of what he was being used for, Matt could not live with the guilt. “We can’t even tell just how far Everton is willing to go, and some of it might be my fault…”

    “It’s not your fault in any way,” Bunny said, raising her voice slightly to get her point across. “If our worst suspicions are true, Everton’s been planning this day for possibly even twenty years or more. He may have been planning this for longer than some of us have been alive! How could you have had anything to do to actually affect that?”

    “You know, for once, you’re actually right,” commented Nekou, sarcastically but honestly. “The only thing you could be responsible for is not doing anything about Everton now.”

    “You guys will be along for the ride, though… actually, I’d ask if you were willing to follow me into battle against him, but after what we’ve already been through, Everton seems like nothing.”

    -:-

    Little did Matt know that Liam Everton was right outside the church at that exact moment, floating on his hoverboard above the church’s courtyard. As the captain gazed down at the stone shrine, his mind filled with excited thoughts about his decades-long quest coming to an end.

    “So there it is. This was where Victini was hiding out all along, was it? It all really does return to nothing, where it all started. And so here is where it begins… the new era in the history of energy!”

    The sound of a truck engine signified the arrival of Baker and Foster in their silver Humvee emblazoned with Everton’s golden logo on the doors. Once the vehicle stopped, the two guards – each carrying two large armored briefcases – jumped out. Under their captain’s watchful eye, Baker and Foster carefully arranged the briefcases on the ground to form a diamond pattern.

    Seeing that they were finished, Everton pushed a button on his control panel, making the briefcases open. A lightning rod-like device rose up from the inside of each case, but otherwise, nothing happened yet.

    “Everything’s ready now. All that remains is the main ingredient to create the dish.” Everton snickered to himself when he saw the live feed of Darkrai and Cresselia’s battle that appeared on his dashboard screen, then used one of his keyboards to enter a command code.

    -:-

    One of Cresselia’s Aura Spheres had hit Darkrai, sending the nightmare-creating Pokémon skidding in the mud. Before Darkrai could recover and retaliate with a counterattack, the collar around its neck activated, sending an electric shock through its body.

    “Raaaaaaiii!!”

    The electric shock soon ceased, but the collar wasn’t done; it started to force Darkrai to turn in the direction of the church, toward where Everton was. When Darkrai tried to turn back, another brief shock was delivered. Left trapped between being electrocuted and Cresselia bearing down on it with another Aura Sphere ready, Darkrai chose the only available escape and began flying toward the church.

    Cresselia wasn’t far behind. She had abandoned her latest Aura Sphere in favor of Signal Beam, but every kaleidoscopic laser sailed right past her target as Darkrai swerved in midair to dodge.

    The pair of warring Pokémon showed no sign of letting up their conflict as they sailed over the city. Darkrai certainly wasn’t trying to retreat and flee from Cresselia, but the collar left it no choice. If Darkrai did anything other than follow where it was being led, the shocks would become even harsher as a result.
    Last edited by The Great Butler; 5th January 2012 at 10:50 AM.

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  17. #17
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    It took less than three minutes for Darkrai and Cresselia to enter the field of Everton’s notice. He watched intently as Darkrai flew right past his eyes, as well as those of Baker and Foster, but did nothing else.

    Once Cresselia entered the courtyard, though, everything changed.

    “Now!” Everton roared, slamming his hand down on one of the dashboard buttons.

    The lightning rods sticking out of the four briefcases sparked to life, releasing stray electricity as they powered up. In mere moments they honed in on Cresselia and used blasts of lightning to restrain her. As her body started to spasm violently in response to the agonizing energy coursing through it, Cresselia cried out.

    -:-

    “Vicuti?”

    Victini sensed something as it was playing and abruptly stopped, much to the surprise of Minccino, Cinccino, Marie and Zorua. It simply stared unflinchingly at the doorway without moving.

    “You lot, what is wrong with Victini?” Katorena had picked up on the change in Victini’s behavior as well, and she felt worried by it. “You all see it, right? Why isn’t Victini cheerfully gallivanting anymore?”

    “I see it,” Olivia concurred. “Victini, what’s wrong?”

    There was no response. Instead, Victini floated into the air and said its name, then darted out of the basement room. Immediately, Matt, Nekou, Bunny, Olivia and Rowena were also on their feet.

    “Hurry!” Matt ordered, taking charge of the group. “After Victini, now!”

    “Something has gone very wrong…” Rowena added quietly.

    While the group gave pursuit to Victini, the six running back up the gnarled stairway and back through the main church, they silently wondered about what was going on. Was it that one of them had done something to upset Victini? Did it simply sense a snack or treat of some kind? Was danger imminent nearby?

    It was the third of those possibilities.

    Just as Victini emerged from the church, the trap restraining Cresselia released her and locked onto Victini instead. The legendary Fire-and-Psychic-type was dragged, screaming, into the center of the diamond, where it was pinned by the electrical bolts inside an energy field. Escape was impossible, and the pain was nearly too much for Victini’s body to endure.

    Moments later, Matt and the rest of the group burst out of the old cathedral. Immediately, the sight of Victini being tortured inside the trap made them recoil in horror.

    “Victini!” Matt gasped. “What’s happened?!”

    “Cryogonal, use Wrap!”

    On its trainer’s command, Everton’s Cryogonal suddenly descended from the sky and attacked Matt’s group with its ice chains. The chain on Cryogonal’s left side grabbed up Bunny and Olivia, while the right-hand chain collected Rowena and Nekou. On both sides, the victims got squeezed tightly by Cryogonal in order to restrain them.

    “It’s that scoundrel Everton!” Katorena shrilled once she saw him on his hoverboard nearby. “Just what do you think you’re doing, you vile man?”

    Everton lowered his altitude and drew closer to Matt, Katorena and Cryogonal’s victims. “I am simply fulfilling the fate I was destined to complete!”

    “Excuse me,” Nekou moaned from the confines of Cryogonal’s ice chain, “could you make this a little tighter? If you think you’re calling this being tied up, you really are a failure of a villain.”

    “You’re lucky you’re not already dead. Real winner you’ve got there, Chiaki,” Everton shot back. However, when Matt started laughing, Everton became confused. “What is so funny?”

    “Oh, just how hard she just owned you. It’s funny that you decided to use restraints on someone who it looks like she likes it!”

    “Don’t forget about us!” Bunny cried out, referring to herself, Olivia and Rowena, all three of whom seemed very uncomfortable.

    Suddenly, Matt felt like he was being watched and turned to his left, where he spotted Woods leaning against a nearby tree. Breathing a sigh of relief, he said, “Oh, thank goodness, Woods, you’re still here. Help us out, please!”

    Woods did not respond, and now it was Everton’s turn to laugh.

    “You aren’t really that good with observing your surroundings after all, are you?” he taunted while retreating on his hoverboard to his original position behind Baker and Foster. “Let me spell it out for you.” Everton then raised his right hand next to his face, flashed the ‘V’ symbol, and called out, “Victory Star!”

    “Victory Star!” Baker was the first to mimic the salute.

    “Victory Star!” Foster promptly followed.

    Finally, in front of six sets of horrified eyes, Woods stepped up next to Baker and Foster and flashed the salute himself. “Victory Star!”

    “You’ve been… working for Everton all along…” Rowena voiced, nearly barely able to speak in her state of wide-eyed shock. Woods was someone she had trusted from the very beginning of her mission to take Everton down, and now that she realized he was still with her target the whole time, she felt like a complete fool.

    “Survival of the fittest, Rowena,” Woods said smugly and directly. “I really did like you and your earnestness in pursuing Captain Everton, but in the end, it’s Everton who will be standing on top when all is said and done. And the winner is the one whose side you want to be on when all the cards have been played. With the power of the Victory Star, Captain Everton will save this city from the economic hardship that has enveloped it!”

    “But look what he’s doing!” Matt yelled in anger, gesturing to Victini inside the torturous trap and the injured Cresselia nearby. “I can tell you’re a good man, Woods, so how can you stand for this? He’s destroying the culture of this city!”

    “Like I said, it’s about survival. That’s an unfortunate fact.”

    “Give it up, Chiaki,” Everton mocked, wearing a wicked grin. “Even if your friends weren’t neutralized, it’s impossible for you to stop me. Baker! Foster! You too, Woods! Go forth and buy time for the Victory Star to appear!”

    “Yes, Captain Everton!” all three replied before throwing Poké Balls.

    Baker and Foster used their Sawk and Throh, as before. Woods’s Pokémon, however, was something new – a green, yellow-eyed cactus with two smaller, pink-flower-topped cacti for ears.

    “Your Throh and Sawk are looking as healthy as ever,” Woods complimented Foster and Baker, making it sound like he hadn’t seen them in a while. “Maractus is doing well too.”

    “That’s good to hear.”

    “Foster, Woods, shut up!” Baker fumed. “Focus on Captain Everton’s orders!”

    “I’ll take care of these three,” Katorena declared, stepping forward in front of Matt, who looked at her with surprise. “You focus on the big fish, ruffian! Go after Liam Everton while I battle these three knaves!”

    “Are you sure?”

    “Don’t question me! Know your place and do as I say!”

    “Alright, alright!” Sufficiently cowed by Katorena’s outburst, Matt separated from her to face Everton alone. “None of what you’re trying to do makes any sense, Everton. That’s irrelevant, though… I can’t stand by while you do it.”

    “Really, now? Will a boy like you actually have the power to stand up to me?” Everton taunted in response, his grin widening. “Very well, let’s see what you’ve got.”

    From the inside of his suit Everton took out a third Ultra Ball, one that as yet had remained unseen. When he opened it, it released a towering draconian Pokémon with six wings jutting out from the black covering on his back. Three blue heads also grew out of his body, but only the middle one was fully functional; the left and right heads were positioned like hands and less than fully developed, with the purple pupils of the middle head’s red eyes missing. From the Pokémon’s blue underside emerged two limp, useless legs as well as a tail, tracked with tank tread-like markings.

    “Dre-eiiiii!” the Pokémon roared, his voice blasting from the mouths on all three of his heads.

    -:-

    “We apologize to our viewers,” Midori waffled on the news broadcast whose live stream Giovanni and Stacia were watching on his office computer. “It appears that we have lost the live feed of Cresselia and Darkrai’s battle. In order to continue our unbending goal of delivering the most up-to-date news as you need it, the Everton News Channel will work to restore the footage as soon as possible. This is the continuing live coverage of the disaster in Whitegold City, and we will be right back with more.”

    “What do you think, Stacia?”

    “E-Excuse me, sir?” As made plain by her reaction, Stacia wasn’t used to being asked her opinion on anything.

    “What do you think of this situation?” Giovanni posed again. “The unnatural appearance of a Pokémon long gone from Whitegold City. The resulting war between it and its sworn enemy, which threatens to destroy the entire city. How could the man who rules that place with an iron fist not know something about what is going on?”

    “What… what exactly are you suggesting, sir?”

    “Liam Everton knows far more about this than he’s made apparent. His news broadcast is clearly an attempt at good public relations to maintain his façade during the disaster, in order to move focus away from his true connection to the events playing out.”

    Just as Giovanni finished his explanation of his hypothesis, a window he’d minimized into the upper-left corner of his screen began sounding an alarm beep. His hand swiftly went to the mouse sitting on his desk, which he used to guide the cursor on its way to expanding the window.

    What he saw made him slam his fist down on the armrest of his chair so hard that it woke Persian out of his sleep nearby.

    ‘Black City Exchange Trader’s Account,’ read the header of the window. Below it, a number of stocks were listed – Kanto Region Sovereign Currency, down 499 points so far that day. Driftveil Freight, down 503. Canalave Mining Corporation, down 478. These were just three of Giovanni’s stock holdings, but the numbers were looking the same across the board. Hurriedly, Giovanni pulled open the window that displayed the general listings for the entire Black City Exchange, and much to his and Stacia’s horror, the steep drop was afflicting nearly everything. Only precious commodity stocks, such as Brick Piece Reserves, Star Piece Trading, Icirrus Mineral Collection and Nugget Futures weren’t in the red, and they were shooting upward at just as much of an alarming rate.

    “The events in Whitegold City are tanking the stock market already…” Stacia astutely observed. “All investors are running to get their money into the safe, long-term commodity exchanges…”

    “Stacia…” Giovanni said into his folded hands, showing a hint of nervousness, an unusual emotion for him, “put in a call to Governor Tobias’s office. Tell them I need to speak to him right away. And once you’re on a secure line, get that contact out to Dr. Zager already.”

    -:-

    “Medicham, Ice Punch!”

    “You won’t get away with that, Katorena. Maractus, Cotton Guard!”

    Breaking away from her Beheeyem and Starmie, Katorena’s Medicham bore down on Woods’s Maractus with her fist encased in freezing cold energy. Maractus, however, faced this without fear and generated a barrier of thick cotton around her body, deflecting nearly all of the strike’s impact.

    “Just where we wanted you. Go forth, Throh! Use Stone Edge!”

    “You get in a shot too, Sawk. Poison Jab!”

    Sawk and Throh double-teamed Medicham on the orders of their trainers. The latter created a field of energy around his body that turned into dozens of sharp-edged rocks, and by swinging his arms around, Throh made the stones barrage Medicham. Almost immediately after that, Sawk jumped in and stabbed Medicham in her stomach with his upturned hand, which was glowing purple.

    Weary from the two strong attacks she had weathered, Medicham fell back.

    “Medicham, be careful, I implore you!” Thinking of how tough Baker, Foster and Woods actually were, Katorena realized that she would need a great dose of ingenuity to win against them. She relished the challenge. “Medicham, Zen Headbutt! Beheeyem, use Psychic to hold Sawk in place for Medicham! And Starmie, hit them all using Blizzard!”

    “Throh, hurry and use Wide Guard!”

    Showing surprising agility for his squat body type, Throh stepped forth and spread his arms, creating a shield in front of himself and his allies that blocked the blast of icy air that Starmie sent their way.

    The shield did not, however, block the psychic powers that grasped Sawk’s body, holding him down. He was left a sitting duck as Medicham charged with her head lowered and glowing.

    Meanwhile, Matt had sent Tanya to battle Everton’s third Pokémon, the menacing dragon he called Hydreigon. Despite her size, even Tanya was dwarfed by Hydreigon’s massive body; he had to be at least eight feet in height. He also had the ability to fly, which was rendering Tanya’s job fighting him as a lot harder.

    “Crawl around all you want, little rat,” Everton shouted from the safety of his hoverboard while Hydreigon flew around above Tanya’s reach. “You will never be able to defeat me! Hydreigon, Focus Blast!”

    “Counter with Flash Cannon, Tanya! Hurry!”

    Tanya and Hydreigon launched similar blasts from their mouths at their foes; Tanya’s was bright silver while Hydreigon’s was red. The two attacks met in between their users and exploded grandly, reflecting the kind of power that went into them. Matt had to hold his hat down to prevent it from being blown away by the wind gust.

    Off to the side, Bunny was desperately writhing within the bondage of Cryogonal’s ice chain, trying to reach her Poké Balls and send one of her Pokémon to help Matt.

    They remained just out of reach for her, however, so she craned her neck to call back to Olivia. “Olivia! See if you can reach one of your Poké Balls! We need to help Matt!”

    “I can’t move enough to reach them!” Olivia answered, a response that caused both of their hearts to sink.

    “Kuruu!” Nearby, Cresselia had finally pulled herself off the ground, where she’d been thrown following her release from Everton’s trap. She looked up in pain, crying out when she saw her beloved friend Victini being tortured inside of the energy field.

    Unexpectedly, Cresselia’s body began to glow with intense silver light that soon focused on her head. It was a Zen Headbutt attack, just like Katorena’s Medicham’s but much stronger. She released a shrill cry into the air before ramming the energy field surrounding Victini. Sparks flew everywhere as she used all her strength to force closer and closer to Victini, eventually coming within inches of the center of the field, while the energy from her Zen Headbutt was absorbed evenly into the four generators.

    “Vi… kuu…” Victini weakly groaned, trying to turn itself toward Cresselia, the one source of reassurance it had at the time.

    Taking notice of Cresselia’s valiant rescue effort, Everton grunted in amused disgust. “Cresselia, are you really that foolish, to think that you can break through there after I had you pinned inside?” Flicking his hand forward with little care, he ordered, “Hydreigon, Flamethrower.”

    It was then that the true, terrifying potential of Hydreigon’s ability became apparent. He didn’t even have to turn to attack Cresselia, he just used one of his smaller, undeveloped heads to flick a fireball in her direction. When it hit her, she was violently thrown away from Victini and the machines.

    “Tiniiiii!!” cried out the horrified Victini as it watched its friend disappear from sight.

    “Everton, how could you?!” Matt shouted, having seen enough of the man’s cruelty. “Stop this!”

    “Stop this?” the captain mocked from on high. “I’m just getting started. Hm?”

    A series of Pokémon cries prompted Matt to turn around. He spotted Olivia’s Minccino, Marie, Nekou’s Zorua and Rowena’s Cinccino rushing toward the generator cases. The group of four made a valiant attempt to break one of the cases, first with Marie and Zorua using Ice Beam and Dark Pulse simultaneously. That was followed by Cinccino shocking the generator with Thunderbolt, and finally, once Cinccino’s electric attack subsided, Minccino hit the case four times with a cyclical tail attack.

    None of it worked; the case remained undamaged. Almost immediately, Everton and Hydreigon had repositioned themselves, now hovering above the group of four Pokémon.

    “Useless. Hydreigon, prepare a Dragon Pulse.”

    Inhaling deeply, Hydreigon gathered up a massive cloud of purple energy in a spherical shape before his center head. It was obvious what he was going to do with it, prompting both Olivia and Rowena to scream.

    “Stop! Minccino isn’t a part of this! Leave her alone!”

    “Neither is Cinccino! Your problem is with me, not her! Back o…”

    Rowena was cut off when she felt Nekou tightening up against her back, crushing her against the confines of Cryogonal’s ice chain. Wisps of Nekou’s hair strangely started to drape over Rowena’s shoulders as well.

    “Are you going to hurt Marie and Zorua…?!” Nekou growled through her tightly gritted teeth. To get a handle on her rapidly escalating anger she forcefully shut her eyes, but when she reopened them, they were filled by a strange, bright yellow glow. “It’ll be the last mistake you make!”

    Everton ignored Nekou, while maintaining his smug demeanor, and instead addressed Victini. “Now, Victini, you have a choice. You can choose to reveal the Victory Star to me and give me what I want, or I can have my Hydreigon kill these four Pokémon purely because you won’t cooperate. What will it be? The choice is yours!”

    “Everton, you’re sick!” Bunny howled in disgust. “Is there no length you’ll not go to?!”

    “Of course I have no limits!” replied Everton in an almost flippant manner. He glanced over to the ongoing battle pitting Katorena against Woods, Foster and Baker, then turned back to Victini and lowered his hoverboard’s altitude slightly. “Decide, Victini. I’m running out of time and patience for your resistance!”

    Matt couldn’t watch this horrific display of cruelty any further. Deciding to act, he started to call out, “Tanya, hit Hydreigon with Flash Cann…”

    He never got the chance to finish giving the order, as it no longer mattered. Whether it was due to Everton’s blackmail or the trap generators finally sapping the last of the energy it had to resist, Victini gave in. With one last scream, it released an energy pulse of massive proportions. The temperature of the area increased from the heat, which in turn weakened Cryogonal, thus loosening its grip on Nekou, Rowena, Bunny and Olivia. Tanya was able to stand fast against the gust, but Minccino, Cinccino, Marie and Zorua could not; neither could Hydreigon, whose flight turned into a liability. Medicham, Beheeyem, Starmie, Sawk, Throh and Maractus all were pushed back as well.

    The energy pulse released from Victini’s body was so immense in scale that it covered the entirety of Whitegold City, taking the form of an eight-pointed star within a circular border. No one on the ground would have been able to perceive this; it was only visible from the sky.

    This was exactly what Everton wanted to see, too. Feeling an overwhelming sense of wicked triumph, he glided the hoverboard backward and down, and got off of it once he landed. Meanwhile, the battle between Katorena and Everton’s henchmen ceased, the four trainers becoming so distracted by the events unfolding around them that they no longer could focus on their fight.

    “Is that…?” Katorena gasped, slowly realizing the true gravity of what was going on. For what appeared to be a simple but hot glow of light, the energy struck fear deep into the girl’s heart.

    “There it is…” Everton’s eyes widened and his voice became strained as he fought back the insane, overwhelming excitement he felt at what he was seeing. He stepped closer to the brightest part of the field, which radiated for feet around Victini itself, and breathily exclaimed, “…the Victory Star! After so long, I’ve finally found it!”

    Foster and Baker were both stunned by what they were seeing, so it fell to the rather starstruck Woods to say something. His eyes were glassy from the emotions he felt himself at seeing the Victory Star finally reveal itself. “We can save the city now, Liam!” he called out. “No oil field on this planet is outside of our reach now! With that potential, every single resident of this city can be given a good-paying job working on our projects!”

    “Woods,” Everton said without turning from Victini, “you are relieved of duty.”

    “What?” Caught completely off guard, Woods recoiled.

    “I said, you are relieved of duty! What don’t you understand? I don’t need soft-hearted fools like you in my visionary future!” Raising his arms partly upward, Everton continued to ramble, “To fully embrace the future offered by the Victory Star, only those who truly fear nothing and refuse to accept anything less than total victory can come forth! The world is on the brink of a fundamental transformation, no, an evolution to a new and ideal stage! And I… I shall be the one whose hands shape that future!”

    “Stop this, Everton!” Matt yelled one last time, even though he knew by now that it was in vain. “You’re deranged! This has to stop!”

    Paying Matt no mind, Everton stepped into the inner core of the energy field. Within there, it was like a whole other world, nearly completely sealed off from everything outside. Now isolated alone with Victini, Everton slowly approached his prey while reciting the same chant listed by his grandfather in the log of Legendary Pokémon.

    “Oh Victory Star, shine the light on the path I must take to my dreams. Victini, turn my road into one of fortune…”

    A voice suddenly sounded in Everton’s mind, visibly surprising him. “Do you choose to make the contract of the Victory Star? Is that why you are here?”

    “Indeed it is!” The truth of who he was being addressed by quickly arrived, and Everton seemed even more confident for it. “I will fulfill that contract! I accept the power of the Victory Star, whatever the price!”

    “And so your choice is made. Let us begin, human.”

    Now looking directly at Everton, Victini’s eyes illuminated with a bright light while Everton’s left eye filled with this same light. As the brightness grew, Victini slowly formed a mental link with Everton, creating a space in which they thought as one being with access to the thoughts of both minds. In order to create the contract, Victini began scanning Everton’s mind for his deepest desires.

    Much to Victini’s horror, it could find absolutely nothing. Everton’s mind was completely blank.

    “Are you surprised, Victini?” An intense burst of malice erupted in Everton’s voice as a wide grin deformed his aged, bearded face. Seizing Victini in a forceful, two-handed grasp, he viciously demanded, “The contract is not specific! Give me your powers… all of them!!”

    Unable to escape, Victini had no ability to avoid what rapidly became inevitable. It cried out in a screeching voice that echoed through the entire swamp area, then started bestowing its power onto Everton. This process was symbolized by the heat pulse covering the city to begin congealing back into the area, specifically into Everton’s left eye, causing his monocle to break.

    Because the bubble that had surrounded Victini was gone, Matt was once again able to see what was happening with it and Everton. Realizing quickly what was happening, he recalled Tanya into her Dusk Ball, then turned to Katorena. “Hurry, recall your Pokémon! Get them out of harm’s way!”

    Without a word, Katorena complied. She along with Matt and everyone else could do nothing as the terrifying spectacle of Everton’s dreams being realized played itself out before their eyes.

    “Yes, yes, oh yes!” screamed the cruel executive, blasting his voice skyward. “The energy… the energy flowing into this old body is making me new again! Soon I’ll have everything I’ve aimed for!!”

    Finally, after well over a minute of the torturous process being inflicted upon it, Victini transferred the last of the power into Everton, causing a splash of blood to erupt from his afflicted eye. At the same time, the heat pulse amplified greatly and exploded, blowing away everyone standing nearby and ripping through the entire city. Every inch of water in all of Whitegold City spiked in temperature, even beginning to steam slightly for a time. Everton’s Cryogonal was forced by the heat spike into a vapor state, releasing its four prisoners. The energy blast also decimated the four generators pinning Victini in place.

    The site outside the church looked like a war zone. While most of the city escaped physical, material damage, the area where the incident happened did not – the landscape was charred and all of the people and Pokémon were scattered everywhere.

    Matt was the first one back on his feet after the bizarre, devastating event. Victini had been thrown near his feet, so he picked it up before running over to Nekou, Olivia, Bunny and Rowena.

    “Are you four alright?!” he desperately asked.

    “We’re fine…” Nekou answered. “What the **** just happened?”

    “We’ll have to figure it out later. We have to get out of here!”

    “But how?!” Olivia was trembling, clearly greatly frightened by what she’d just experienced.

    “Hey! You five, look!” Woods was calling out to the group from a slight distance away. “Katorena, you too! All of you come with me on my hovercraft!”

    “And why should we trust you, traitor?” Katorena shrilled.

    “Trust me or not, it doesn’t matter! I have nothing more to hide and we have to escape!”

    Matt glanced back to the other four with him, who each nodded, one at a time. Rowena hesitated the longest, having had the most intimate relationship with Woods and thus the deepest sense of betrayal. She did eventually acquiesce, however, and the group rushed to join him, each one of them recalling their respective Pokémon as they ran.

    As the hovercraft motored off into the distance, Baker and Foster apprised their situation from the church’s courtyard.

    “They got Victini…” Foster blankly stated, “and Woods went with them too…”

    “Then we must give pursuit!” Baker fumed. “Captain Everton’s pride and success is at stake!”

    “Cool your temper, Baker.”

    Both security officials abruptly turned, and much to their surprise, Everton was standing behind them. The fabric of his suit was lightly burned from the heat pulse, and he had his eyes closed. From the inside of his jacket, he extracted a new monocle to replace the broken one and attached it to his face.

    Smirking, he said in a quiet but menacing manner, “Why are you two panicking? We’re in no hurry to catch up with them. There is truly nowhere they can go!”

    At the end of his sentence, Everton snapped his eyes open, and what Baker and Foster saw caused them to gasp in a combination of excitement and disgust.

    Their boss’s left eye had changed. The normal coloration, his pupil and iris – they were all gone. Replacing them was the same eight-pointed star that had been projected over the city. On the star, the diagonal points overlaid the horizontal and vertical points. The upper diagonal points were colored red, forming a ‘V’ shape, while the bottom diagonal points were light blue. Finally, the horizontal and vertical points were darker blue.

    “The Victory Star…!” both guards exclaimed.

    “Yes, it is,” Everton confirmed with arrogance. “This is the true Victory Star, which will guide me to absolutely any victory I require it to. Foster, give me a report on the effects of the destabilization of Victini’s energy field.”

    “Yes, right away, sir!” The escalation of the situation made Foster nervous, a fact that was clearly reflected in his shaky voice. He ran back to the truck and fetched a rectangular, black tablet computer, then returned to Everton and Baker. “According to the readings, a few minutes ago when the energy field destabilized and you acquired the Victory Star, a significant spike in the surface temperature of the water in the city as well as the humidity in the air was recorded.”

    Looking up at the sky, Everton spied some dark, rapidly-gathering clouds. Satisfied, he started walking back toward his hoverboard.

    “My plan is going along perfectly. All that’s left now is to capture Victini and prepare the ark. Defeating Matt Chiaki and his ragtag little band of rats won’t be hard… Baker! Foster! Collect your gear and get the truck going again. We’re going after them…” As he entered a command into the right-hand keyboard on the dashboard, Everton finished, “…but first, let’s send them a little surprise, shall we?”


    END of CHAPTER 2

    (Banner by Matori)
    Beyond all ideals, the truth shall set you free...
    Most Recent: 18: Winter of Discontent
    Next: The Weight of the World (Part 1)

    The steps on the road to the truth.
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  18. #18

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    This was an excellent chapter.

    First of all, let me just say that the characterization you've shown in this chapter is fantastic. Especially Everton.

    Everton is really one of the most terrifying villains I've ever seen written. He's not afraid to do even the unthinkable to get what he wants, and his only motivation seems to be his ambition, and nothing else. Everything he's been doing, he's doing out of his greed and he doesn't care who or what gets harmed in the process, and he's not above lying to the citizens of the city to get there. The way he threatens the cute Pokemon was especially effective, I think- even though he himself admitted their efforts to take out the generator were useless, he still threatened them and used them to get Victini to follow his instructions. The way he simply cast Woods aside showed a lot of how evil he was as well, taking his long time partner and leaving him out of his master plan.

    I really like the development you gave Matt in this chapter as well. You really showed that he takes his role as Olivia's father figure seriously and that he has a great deal of conflict about his life and future. Showing his constant bewilderment at Nekou and Olivia's antics was a good, lighthearted touch as well.

    Olivia really outdoes herself every chapter, I think. Just when I think she can't get any cuter, she does. I really enjoyed seeing her grown-up attitude emerge in this chapter and I think she enjoys having a sister like Nekou to learn from.

    Nekou was awesome this chapter and totally badass. Seeing a female character who's not afraid to stand up for those she cares for and I love that a lot. She's well-rounded in every way and you're handling her personality awesomely.

    Katorena is an interesting character, and I really like her speech style a lot. Her snootiness is really endearing to me and I loved how she slowly opened herself up to the others and started letting go of herself.

    Also, I really love the little scenes with Giovanni and Stacia. They really do a good job of shifting the action and showing two characters who are affected by the events of the story outside of the setting. I like that you managed to show the more flawed side of Giovanni in this chapter too and that even he can lose his cool at times.

    The description in this chapter was excellent, especially the settings. The way you described the old rotting church in particular was very evocative and fantastic and I love how vivid your imagery is.

    Finally, I truly loved the pacing in this chapter and the way you made everything flow really smoothly, especially the battles. The battles were suitably epic and kept my attention well, and you did well showing the action.

    Great work on this chapter as always!

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  19. #19
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    As always I was reading and writing reviewing notes at the same time, but a few parts I skipped as I was trying to get this review done as soon as possible (so many stuff to do this month...) and also this time I don't have a lot of indepth stuff to say, so sorry if this review isn't too great. >.<;

    I have to say, totally digging Giovanni having the Rockets disguised themselves as butlers. I can see that actually when he’s under house arrest, haha. The interactions between Giovanni and Stacia are nicely done too.

    “I like the sound of that. ‘Badass ***** Olivia.’ I might take that on as my name, if it gets my dad to notice me…”

    “ENOUGH!!” It wasn’t Nekou provoking Olivia into bad behavior that so angered Matt, though it didn’t help. The problem came from Olivia using said bad behavior as an admittedly appropriate justification for bringing back her very serious problems with her father again, which was something Matt just couldn’t deal with.
    I’m going to have to agree with Matt here. I don’t think Rich would like that very much if he were alive. :/

    Oh, finally Nekou’s fortune is told. Quite vague (as expected), but I do hope she takes the right path. Also, very bold of Matt to want to make a contract with Victini and also to see Reshiram.

    LOL over Matt, Olivia, Bunny, and Rowena’s reaction to first seeing Victini and Nekou wanting her candy bar back from the Pokemon. I also chuckled when Olivia called Woods old man. She’s sure picking stuff fast from Nekou. :P As for Liam, ha no luck finding Victini, but that will soon change, bleh. *reads further* Yup, I’m right on that after that interview clip of him revealing his plan had been worked out many years in the making and him getting Cresselia. >.<;

    All right, I laughed over Matt’s comment of Nekou liking to be restrained. She indeed owned Liam hard! XD; Ouch over the reveal of Woods actually working for Liam. Should have guessed as earlier last chapter he seems to think there isn’t anything too suspicious what Liam was doing. And as for Liam able to get the Victory Star, all I have to say is he’s a monster! D<

    My favorite part of the chapter is definitely Liam showing his true colors. It's already expected he's the main antagonist of the story and that he'll be doing some evil things, but wow didn't him to be that evil. Dawn already mentioned how well you showed that with him hurting the Pokemon without mercy and how he outcasted Woods. Already going to say this is your best antagonist yet.

    I really enjoyed this chapter a lot and looks like the last parts of the story I'll be in for a treat. Can't wait for the next chapter!


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  20. #20
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    Well, now that I've finally done some catching up...

    Chapter One:
    This was a pretty good chapter. I can say that it was filled with a lot of great humor, especially Nekou's refrigerator prank and fourth wall break. Usually it's one thing when someone just mentions the readers, but when it actually becomes an argument between characters whether there's someone watching them or not, that's going beyond the usual and can be quite successful, and was definitely the case here.

    I'm interested with Reshiram being brought into the plot of Operation GEAR. I'm curious about how this will develop.

    The characters are still being well written, as usual. I was a bit surprised with the inclusion of Butler and Diane, though I really shouldn't be when the answer is in your username. Also, Nekou's drunken state is hilarious, especially with the fact that she can still play a game of cards in such a state and win. Epic win. Though it worries me about what Nekou may be hiding, if there's something really that disturbing in her mind (according to the fortune teller anyway). Katorena is also an interesting character. With so little known from this chapter, I'm curious with more of her development. I'm feeling a pretty strong dislike for Everton though, but I guess that's natural towards the antagonist. Polaris were also interesting. I hope to learn more in later chapters.


    Chapter Two:
    It seems like the chapters just continue to get better. This one got a lot more things moving and more accomplished. There's a lot of different plots you got going in this, and they're all good, and there's not too many of them, and they're not incredibly confusing; the reader can comprehend what's going on and not get lost.

    Everton was established much better in this. He's been going for a more complex motive, and his plan is actually quite shocking and makes him an intimidating villian; a character I can really get a sense of fear from. He's not as simple as most people would speculate, and I like that. Woods also surprised me as well, and yet for some reason I can't help but feel he still has some more to hide. Olivia's ongoing development is another good factor of this so far. She's debating about what to do and how to etablish herself, but it's not going in the way Matt was intending and gives me this sense of being on the edge. I'm in a state of constant wonder, and hoping nothing goes terribly wrong.

    Nekou's future sounds like a chaotic mess. I feel that she's still hiding something, and whatever it may be is the factor that will change her fate, whether she remains through countless trials with her friends or is forced to live on in a cold, depressing mindset.


    I can say that I'm really enjoying this, and I'm looking forward to the next chapter. I'm sure it won't disappoint, so keep up the fantastic work!
    Last edited by Jolteon Jordan; 5th December 2011 at 6:55 AM.
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  21. #21
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    I might as well discuss the characters:

    You know what? You're absolutely right about Everton. That guy's a deranged madman. A raving lunatic. A demented psychopath. A...well, you know what I mean. I mean, I get trying to capture Cresselia to get to Victini. That's what any wannabe bad guy would do. I get casting Woods out; he obviously doesn't want to share the wealth - or victory. I even get wanting to steal all of Victini's powers; I mean, who wouldn't want them? (I'm not trying to excuse those actions because they're morally-wrong, but story-wise, it's nothing I haven't seen or done before). But threatening to blow away all of those small Pokemon with Hydreigon just to use them as leverage? That's cold. His actions pretty much said, "Well, it doesn't matter if they try to break this cage. Even if they had the time, they won't be able to actually do it. But I'm going to violently murder them if I don't get what I want."

    The scary thing is that Liam actually has a method behind his madness. He's not just doing this because he wants to or because he feels like doing something this insane. He has motivation, a goal, and the means to get what he wants. That's a very frightening villain you've created.

    I do wonder how Butler and Diane are going to play into this, but I have a theory:

        Spoiler:- theory about Butler and Diane:


    Giovanni is awesome. I love the fact that he's more worried about his stocks collapsing than he is about people potentially getting hurt by the fighting. Some people just don't change, eh? And I had to laugh when it was mentioned that he hired his Rocket members as butlers.

    I can see Matt's frustration reaching the boiling point. The fact that he wanted to make the contract shows how desperate he is to get rid of his inner demons and his doubts. Normally, he wouldn't do that, but I can literally feel his anxiety and frustration leap off of the screen. You've done an amazing job with him so far.

    Bunny, Nekou, Olivia, Katorena, and Rowena are very solid supporting characters to Matt. Each of them has their own part to play, even if we don't know what they are yet. I feel that Bunny's motivations and role at the moment is much smaller than I would normally expect; along with Nekou and Olivia, she forms a main part of the trio that goes with Matt. I can't see Rowena or Katorena hanging around with them for too long, so it's a bit surprising that Bunny has seemingly been put to the side for the vast majority of the series. I get that she's supposed to be the straight-woman of the group, but...well, just ignore me. I'm getting way off-topic, and I might be completely wrong.

    Woods is a very interesting and complex character. In my opinion, he's not evil at all. He wanted everyone to get an opportunity to have success. Still, there's a quote that goes something like this: our fatal flaws are mostly good intentions taken to an extreme. That's what Woods' downfall was. His intentions were good, but he went overboard with them.

    And that's pretty much it for the characters. Otherwise, I'm going to let the chips fall as they will and comment from there. Other reviewers discussed the other aspects of your story exactly how I would - except for the fact that they conveyed them better.

    Overall, I loved this chapter, and I'll be patiently waiting for the next one to arrive.

    Sincerely,

    Mem.
    Last edited by SilentMemento; 8th December 2011 at 1:57 AM.
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  22. #22
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    Well, this is certainly turning out to be quite interesting.

    We have Everton, who's probably your nastiest villain yet. We have Katorena, who is a somewhat stuck-up snob. And we still have the epicness of Nekou (I don't watch a ton of anime, so I didn't get the Charlotte reference until I looked at other reviews...). And somehow, I'm not surprised at the return of Butler and Diane. Nice touch with Conkeldurr, it fits with Butler's theme pretty well.

    Olivia...she's, what, 14 now? And she still doesn't know about Rich being dead? Hmm...wonder how much longer Matt can keep that secret?

    So, Everton now has Victini. Boy, is this going to be bad. And Giovanni is just sitting back and watching the show unfold. This is going to be one twisted time.

    Going to be interesting to see how this turns out. Can't wait!
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by rokettololi View Post
    This was an excellent chapter.

    First of all, let me just say that the characterization you've shown in this chapter is fantastic. Especially Everton.

    Everton is really one of the most terrifying villains I've ever seen written. He's not afraid to do even the unthinkable to get what he wants, and his only motivation seems to be his ambition, and nothing else. Everything he's been doing, he's doing out of his greed and he doesn't care who or what gets harmed in the process, and he's not above lying to the citizens of the city to get there. The way he threatens the cute Pokemon was especially effective, I think- even though he himself admitted their efforts to take out the generator were useless, he still threatened them and used them to get Victini to follow his instructions. The way he simply cast Woods aside showed a lot of how evil he was as well, taking his long time partner and leaving him out of his master plan.
    They have a history together, but I wouldn't say "longtime partner" per se. Maybe I should make an author's note writing up some detail about it - would anyone want me to do that?

    But yes, you have Everton's character correct. You could say that he has an ends-justifies-the-means philosophy, but that would imply he cares about the means. He doesn't. There's simply what he wants to obtain and how he gets it.

    I really like the development you gave Matt in this chapter as well. You really showed that he takes his role as Olivia's father figure seriously and that he has a great deal of conflict about his life and future. Showing his constant bewilderment at Nekou and Olivia's antics was a good, lighthearted touch as well.
    This is something to get used to. He's outmatched at every turn against these two, who play off of each other far more perfectly.

    Olivia really outdoes herself every chapter, I think. Just when I think she can't get any cuter, she does. I really enjoyed seeing her grown-up attitude emerge in this chapter and I think she enjoys having a sister like Nekou to learn from.
    You'll be seeing this emerge more and more in the rest of the story. Olivia may try to act like she's more competent than she actually is, but for a 14-year-old girl, she IS a lot more than you'd expect.

    I think that it is worth noting, though, that a lot of her brashness and outward aggressiveness comes from her feelings of abandonment with her father. This is also why she's taken to Nekou so easily - Nekou exhibits a lot of the same behavior she does and gives her the kind of free reign and attention that she got from her father.

    Nekou was awesome this chapter and totally badass. Seeing a female character who's not afraid to stand up for those she cares for and I love that a lot. She's well-rounded in every way and you're handling her personality awesomely.
    Thanks! I knew you'd like her.

    Katorena is an interesting character, and I really like her speech style a lot. Her snootiness is really endearing to me and I loved how she slowly opened herself up to the others and started letting go of herself.
    She's actually got a lot more to her than you really know right now, but I can't say more just yet.

    Also, I really love the little scenes with Giovanni and Stacia. They really do a good job of shifting the action and showing two characters who are affected by the events of the story outside of the setting. I like that you managed to show the more flawed side of Giovanni in this chapter too and that even he can lose his cool at times.
    I'm really liking how the Giovanni/Stacia scenes are turning out myself. They're exceeding my expectations that I had. Showing Giovanni in a more business-oriented setting is enabling me to give him a unique role in the proceedings, which is what gives me the chance to use him in more unexplored ways. He's not coordinating a mission or fighting out there himself, he's a third party observer with a marginal but present link to the events that are playing out, which is a role he's never really been shown in.

    The description in this chapter was excellent, especially the settings. The way you described the old rotting church in particular was very evocative and fantastic and I love how vivid your imagery is.

    Finally, I truly loved the pacing in this chapter and the way you made everything flow really smoothly, especially the battles. The battles were suitably epic and kept my attention well, and you did well showing the action.

    Great work on this chapter as always!
    Settings were absolutely vital to this story, so I put in extra effort on them. I'm glad things worked out.

    I think you'll be impressed with the flow from here on out. Everything's hitting its full stride, and events should flow (or should I say, speed) toward the conclusion relentlessly.


    EDIT:

    Quote Originally Posted by Bay
    I have to say, totally digging Giovanni having the Rockets disguised themselves as butlers. I can see that actually when he’s under house arrest, haha. The interactions between Giovanni and Stacia are nicely done too.
    It was an idea that just came to me. Honestly, in fact, it was something I thought of to give context to the idea of them being terrified of Stacia, and then I ran with it.

    I’m going to have to agree with Matt here. I don’t think Rich would like that very much if he were alive. :/
    Rich wouldn't like her language but would like the idea behind it, I think.

    LOL over Matt, Olivia, Bunny, and Rowena’s reaction to first seeing Victini and Nekou wanting her candy bar back from the Pokemon. I also chuckled when Olivia called Woods old man. She’s sure picking stuff fast from Nekou. :P
    Like I said above: their personalities just click perfectly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jolteon_Jordan
    This was a pretty good chapter. I can say that it was filled with a lot of great humor, especially Nekou's refrigerator prank and fourth wall break. Usually it's one thing when someone just mentions the readers, but when it actually becomes an argument between characters whether there's someone watching them or not, that's going beyond the usual and can be quite successful, and was definitely the case here.
    The pranks during the speech are good approximations of what kind of person Nekou is. She's not doing it maliciously, she's just doing it to cause trouble.

    As for the fourth wall break, she was doing it facetiously; there just happens to actually be people reading after all.

    The characters are still being well written, as usual. I was a bit surprised with the inclusion of Butler and Diane, though I really shouldn't be when the answer is in your username.
    They have a role to play, you'll just have to wait a bit to see it.

    Nekou's drunken state is hilarious, especially with the fact that she can still play a game of cards in such a state and win. Epic win. Though it worries me about what Nekou may be hiding, if there's something really that disturbing in her mind (according to the fortune teller anyway).
    She doesn't just play cards drunk, she does it better drunk. That's just how she is.

    You're right to be concerned though...

    It seems like the chapters just continue to get better. This one got a lot more things moving and more accomplished. There's a lot of different plots you got going in this, and they're all good, and there's not too many of them, and they're not incredibly confusing; the reader can comprehend what's going on and not get lost.
    That's good. I wanted it to come out that way, with lots of things going on at once but never becoming too confusing.

    Everton was established much better in this. He's been going for a more complex motive, and his plan is actually quite shocking and makes him an intimidating villian; a character I can really get a sense of fear from. He's not as simple as most people would speculate, and I like that.
    Good read on him. What I was shooting for in the character was just that - someone with complex plans who comes off as legitimately frightening.

    Might I offer one suggestion, though? Consider again why he's terrifying. I think you might find a surprising thread running through it.

    Woods also surprised me as well, and yet for some reason I can't help but feel he still has some more to hide.
    Good guess.

    Olivia's ongoing development is another good factor of this so far. She's debating about what to do and how to etablish herself, but it's not going in the way Matt was intending and gives me this sense of being on the edge. I'm in a state of constant wonder, and hoping nothing goes terribly wrong.
    I wanted to have Olivia come off as a young girl who's growing up and unsure of where she fits in the world, with the stress from her family problems compounding everything. It sounds from your feedback that I did it right.

    Nekou's future sounds like a chaotic mess. I feel that she's still hiding something, and whatever it may be is the factor that will change her fate, whether she remains through countless trials with her friends or is forced to live on in a cold, depressing mindset.
    There's a lot hidden underneath her loud and snarky demeanor, you're right about that.

    Quote Originally Posted by SilentMemento
    You know what? You're absolutely right about Everton. That guy's a deranged madman. A raving lunatic. A demented psychopath. A...well, you know what I mean. I mean, I get trying to capture Cresselia to get to Victini. That's what any wannabe bad guy would do. I get casting Woods out; he obviously doesn't want to share the wealth - or victory. I even get wanting to steal all of Victini's powers; I mean, who wouldn't want them? (I'm not trying to excuse those actions because they're morally-wrong, but story-wise, it's nothing I haven't seen or done before). But threatening to blow away all of those small Pokemon with Hydreigon just to use them as leverage? That's cold. His actions pretty much said, "Well, it doesn't matter if they try to break this cage. Even if they had the time, they won't be able to actually do it. But I'm going to violently murder them if I don't get what I want."

    The scary thing is that Liam actually has a method behind his madness. He's not just doing this because he wants to or because he feels like doing something this insane. He has motivation, a goal, and the means to get what he wants. That's a very frightening villain you've created.
    You have a good feel for how he operates. He didn't even need to threaten the Pokemon to get Victini to release its power for him, because he could have sat there for as long as he needed for the energy beams to torture the power out of Victini, but he realized that using the Pokemon as leverage would speed up the process, making them a practical convenience.

    He's good at that, adapting to new factors entering the picture to work them to his advantage. That said, he doesn't often need to, since he plans things so carefully and in advance.

    I do wonder how Butler and Diane are going to play into this, but I have a theory:
    Not a bad guess, might have some truth to it.

    Giovanni is awesome. I love the fact that he's more worried about his stocks collapsing than he is about people potentially getting hurt by the fighting. Some people just don't change, eh?
    You know, to be brutally honest, I actually hadn't intentionally done that! I completely see it now that you point it out, but when I factored him into the story, it was because I wanted to continue his loose ends from The Firestorm Rebellion and provide a third-party view on the events of this story. Hilariously enough, though, as you've pointed out I unwittingly made him more himself than ever before.

    I can see Matt's frustration reaching the boiling point. The fact that he wanted to make the contract shows how desperate he is to get rid of his inner demons and his doubts. Normally, he wouldn't do that, but I can literally feel his anxiety and frustration leap off of the screen. You've done an amazing job with him so far.
    Exactly, that is the whole point of that scene. Thank you for liking it.

    I can't see Rowena or Katorena hanging around with them for too long, so it's a bit surprising that Bunny has seemingly been put to the side for the vast majority of the series. I get that she's supposed to be the straight-woman of the group, but...well, just ignore me. I'm getting way off-topic, and I might be completely wrong.
    I agree, and I've begun taking steps to try and bring Bunny's role out more. Thank you for the advice, it should help.

    Woods is a very interesting and complex character. In my opinion, he's not evil at all. He wanted everyone to get an opportunity to have success. Still, there's a quote that goes something like this: our fatal flaws are mostly good intentions taken to an extreme. That's what Woods' downfall was. His intentions were good, but he went overboard with them.
    Exactly. He really believed that Everton had good intentions, and perhaps blinded himself to the true facts of what was going on. The way I imagine it, he hadn't directly seen Everton in a long time prior to just before this, and Everton went to him for help with Victini, playing him like a fool.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morpher01
    Olivia...she's, what, 14 now? And she still doesn't know about Rich being dead? Hmm...wonder how much longer Matt can keep that secret?
    For as long as he can.
    Last edited by The Great Butler; 19th December 2011 at 10:53 AM.

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  24. #24
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    Here I am with my late review.

    “That was awesome, seriously!” beamed Olivia, who had rushed over and begun pulling on Nekou’s leg. “I want to be like you!”

    “Okay, that’s enough,” Matt interrupted. “Having one each of the two of you around is hard enough. I don’t need you becoming like each other.”
    XD Awesome.

    I noticed an error with part of the first chapter. The part that begins:
    “I will see that it is done. Thank you for the responsibility, sir.”

    Stacia turned to leave, but she stopped when Giovanni spoke further.

    “Stay here. I want another pair of eyes on this news conference. Something seems suspicious about it.”

    Though she wouldn’t argue with him anyway due to his being her boss, Stacia was internally grateful for the opportunity. Every time she got to do something for him, she felt like she was actually needed.
    It was double posted. Just a minor formatting error.

    “I’m sure the readers will figure it out quickly enough. They’re not stupid.”

    “The readers?” Judging by his facial expression, Matt was becoming even more lost, and he was beginning to think that Nekou was deliberately trying to confuse him. “Seriously, Nekou, have you totally lost it?”
    The readers... Lol!

    What really amazes me about your writing is how well everything flows together. I can tell you’ve put a lot of work into character development and it’s coming together very nicely. Same with plot - there’s the external conflict with Everton and the battle between Darkrai and Cresselia. And then you have the more personal issues that Matt, Nekou, and some of the others are dealing with. It’s very exciting to read! ^^ I really need to learn to write like this. Amazing.

    Excellent description of setting as well. It was one of those times while reading where I could see it play out perfectly in my mind like a movie. Great job!

    And I love your characters. The fortune telling scene was especially intriguing. I wonder what Nekou is hiding...
    I'll be online on weekends, mostly, and as often as I can.

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    Before I get into my reply, I want to mention up front: the next chapter is going to be quite long. I considered breaking it into two parts, but with how I have the plot structured and the way I want things to fall, I can't really make that work.

    Just wanted to be forthcoming about it in advance.

    Quote Originally Posted by GastlyMan View Post
    XD Awesome.
    You know he's not going to avoid them becoming like each other, right?

    I noticed an error with part of the first chapter. The part that begins:

    It was double posted. Just a minor formatting error.
    I must have slipped and hit the button to put it in twice.

    What really amazes me about your writing is how well everything flows together. I can tell you’ve put a lot of work into character development and it’s coming together very nicely.
    Thank you. I did exactly that - I wouldn't be too far off to estimate that a year of planning or more went into this story from conception. Most of that planning was on plot (which I'll get to in a minute) but both this fic and the wider story being told rely on the strength of the characters and their ability to stand out. Character development and interaction are critical to the entire point of it all.

    Same with plot - there’s the external conflict with Everton and the battle between Darkrai and Cresselia. And then you have the more personal issues that Matt, Nekou, and some of the others are dealing with. It’s very exciting to read! ^^
    Like I mentioned above, all the planning that went into this helped ensure that all the pieces fit together. It's even more important here, as every one of the events that are occurring are related to a larger picture. Likewise, the personal issues the characters must deal with enhance the surrounding plot as well, as they flesh out the characters as people. In turn, that allows said characters to be placed into the plot and have their selves interact with what happens to drive the story.

    I really need to learn to write like this. Amazing.
    Really? Thank you very much! I'm very flattered you like it that much.

    Excellent description of setting as well. It was one of those times while reading where I could see it play out perfectly in my mind like a movie. Great job!
    Now that's another thing that I really shot for. That's the exact visualization trick I use while writing, because it allows me to both imagine and actually see the events as they flow. Knowing that you could see it too tells me I did it right.

    And I love your characters. The fortune telling scene was especially intriguing. I wonder what Nekou is hiding...
    I assure you, these characters have quite a lot left in store for you.

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